Paladin class destroyer Picture

The Andali Confederation was born from a political debate society formed by the heads of a dozen wealthy and powerful industrial families who enjoyed comparing the state of their systems- European colonies at that time- with various points in history, with which they were all obsessed. Eventually, the discussions slowly evolved into a plan for restructuring the colonies. Public sentiment towards the European Union hadn’t improved much since the Andali systems were conquered in the Reunification Wars, and even the wealthy wanted a change in leadership at the very least. The society members, being wealthy elites, were well-versed in classical literature, including the works of Nicolò Machiavelli. Using Machiavelli’s The Prince as a blueprint, they developed a three-part plan.
The first part was a viral propaganda and public relations campaign to remind the people what the European forces had done during the Reunification Wars, to point out the freedoms experienced by those colonies that had succeeded in their bids for freedom, and fomenting pure, unadulterated hatred for the EU. The second part was to create a mythology of noble houses of ancient European origins, dethroned by the evil fascist and socialist governments that had come to power throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries, who were the true leaders of the people. This mythology centered, of course, on the very same families the society members came from. The third part was the quiet financing of a sizeable private army by each of the members through their corporate and industrial assets.
Contracting non-European mercenary firms to train the thousands of idealistic Andali youths who had bought into the mythology for combat, they soon had a potent military force capable enough to accomplish their end goals of seizing power. Thirteen years after the initial debates, contracted mercenary fleets combined with tens of thousands of nationalist troops loyal to each of the “noble” houses quickly defeated the European Colonial Defense Forces and overran the Colonial Administration Building, from which they declared their independence.
The casualty-averse European Union was extremely reliant on drone technology at that time, so the massive fleet they sent to quell the rebellion was comprised primarily of drone fighters and combat robots. The Andali planners had spent over a decade planning for this, and using highly-trained netjackers, hijacked the drones and sent them back against their European masters. Later assaults with meat-body troops and pilots were met with captured EU warships and drones, and suffered tremendous casualties as the Andalis always seemed to be three steps ahead of them. By the end of 2281, the European Union found itself bogged down in a guerrilla war against what was rapidly becoming a solidified nation.
The death-knell to the war came in 2282 when the Australio-Pacifica Coalition and Ahrugan Tribal Confederation officially recognized the Andali Confederation as a sovereign, self-governing state. Having had no decisive victories, and facing a brutal insurgency and possible intervention by the APC and ATC, the European Union signed peace accords and formally recognized the Andali Confederation as well. The EU didn’t go quietly, however, and they still to this day quietly lend materiel and financial support to various “loyalist” insurgency groups and separatist movements within the Andali territories.
Politically, the Andali Confederation is a neo-fuedal alliance of twenty-six noble and five royal houses, often competing fiercely with one another. The heads of the noble houses make up the Andali Parliament, governing the Confederation in a fashion not unlike other parliaments, with one exception- the various houses, being virtually sovereign states unto themselves, often have difficulty balancing their hyper-nationalism against their own self-interests. The parliament elects one of the royal houses to rule for a period of five years, whereupon those royal houses have significant executive power.
The other royal houses are then chosen by Parliament to head the Ministries of Defense, Security, Commerce and State, creating an oft-entertaining checks-and-balances between the royal houses as they play Machiavellian games with one another so complex that not even the Sarza can keep up with the subtle intrigues and plans-within-plans. Political journalists have nervous breakdowns trying to figure out what the true end-game is in Andali politics, and many suspect not even the Andalis know what they are doing.
For over a decade after their war for independence from European tyranny, the Andali Confederation Royal Navy was primarily comprised of captured and retrofitted European Union warships, converted Freetraders and privateer vessels, and mercenary warships purchased from Spartan Group and others. By 2295, however, the ruling houses of the Confederation had managed to secure the resources necessary to begin construction of the first in a series of true Andali warships. Agreeing upon a design principal, however, proved to be a bit more daunting.
The Machiavellian political philosophy of the Confederation often leads to the dozens of noble houses competing with each other, only unifying when they feel the need to keep the five royal houses in check. As such, a great deal of industrial espionage occurs within the Confederation as house-run corporations attempt to beat each other to market with new innovations and make a name for themselves and their associated house. The chance to lay claim to the honour of being the designer of the first national warship of the Andali state was a feather in the cap unlike any other to the hyper-nationalistic houses. This, in turn, led to a great deal of squabbling, subterfuge, scandals and one assassination. In other words, typical Andali politics.
Eventually, however, the ruling royal house- House Stewart- made a wise decision and established a design team incorporating engineers and specialists from each of the houses, noble and royal. The claim-to-fame of designing the first Andali warship would go to the combined houses as a whole rather than one or two, securing the identity of the vessel as Andali first and foremost. The results of this collaborative effort were surprisingly amazing, and the Paladin-class destroyer was born. The first Paladin to be completed, the ARS Moldova, launched on 22 December 2302, twenty years to the day after the end of their war for independence.

The Paladin-class incorporates some design elements seen in Ahrugan warships, such as the recessed gunnery bays protected by thick armour when not in use, and the Series 3 gravitic thruster shroud designs that protect the gravitic drive thrust emitters that extend outside of the armoured hull. The overall design, however, is purely Andali, and as beautiful as it is deadly. Starting in the bow, the Paladin mounts two heavy APPC and four AP lancers spinal mounts, protected by retractable armoured shrouds. Independent hydrogen ramscoop intakes are mounted just aft of the bow to fuel the reactors and the antimatter particle generation for these weapons.
The two forward gunnery bays- one port, one starboard- each mount one super-heavy APPC and AP lancer cross-spinal that uses an innovative non-linear particle accelerator to squeeze into the narrow hull. The cores of these cross-spinals are actually aligned along the keel, with a curving accelerator shaft leading up to, and then dog-legging 90 degrees into the emitters. This has the drawback of not being able to accelerate the charged particle packets of the APPCs as fast as conventional spinals, cutting range in half, but allows for incredibly powerful weapons to be crammed into a narrow space.
Four medium dual APPC turrets and a mission-variable missile bay able to carry anything from 150 SRMs or LRMs all the way up to ten ASMs round out the firepower of the forward gunnery bays. The port and starboard lower midship gunnery bays mount eight medium dual APPC turrets, as well as two 150-shot LRM batteries and launch tubes for the four squadrons of fighters carried aboard the ship. The port and starboard upper midship and upper aft gunnery bays all mount five medium dual APPC turrets and five medium dual AP lancer turrets. Between these two sets of upper gunnery bays are two heavy dual AP lancer turrets, with a third and fourth mounted centerline-aft, one dorsal and one ventral.
Behind the lower gunnery bays are two additional super-heavy APPC cross-spinals that use a similar non-linear accelerator system to the foreward cross-spinals. In the stern, between the engines, are two coaxial heavy APPC spinals with a potent enhanced disruptor cannon beneath them. This aft firepower ensures that any vessel seeking to line up on the vulnerable engine ports is not going to find an easy target. Additionally, twenty light AP lancer turrets- some mounted on the external turrets- and nearly one hundred twenty point defense turrets provide omnidirectional close-support firepower against smaller craft and missiles.
Due to top-of-the-line dual AI automation, the paladin requires a far smaller crew than most vessels her size. A dozen officers and fifty-three crew are all that are required to fully crew this vessel, and she can operate with half that number effectively. This allows for the Paladin to have spacious accommodations comparable to the crew quarters aboard a commercial vessel as opposed to the coffin-motel-style bunks most military vessels use. The primary critical command systems- bridge, engineering, tactical, etc.- are all buried deep in the vessel, protecting them from the “Darwinism shot” that so many nations and races that use exposed or flying bridges have come to fear. The triple-hull design of the Paladin ensures maximum survivability for her crew, as well, making this a highly desired vessel to crew on.
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