"A symbol of power. An icon of freedom. A beacon of hope. A ship that shall secure our future. Today, we christen the mightiest ship in the universe!"
-Governor-General Mari Illustrious Makinami
The abortive war between the Alterran-Cyrodian Cooperative Union and the Eterna Collective had a greater effect on the New Free Planets Alliance than many realized. The two sides had quickly begun fielding massive battlefleets, anchored by vaunted "superships" with almost as much if not more firepower than the fleets they led. At the same time, the Alliance colonists from the New Terra Colony realized their vulnerability to hostile attack, possessing no platform capable of challenging said ships in combat. Thankfully, the colonists were able to fall back to the hidden Kanaris Nebula outpost, and were able to successfully wait until the war itself ended.
Shortly after these events, the New Terra Colonial Government petitioned the Alliance Senate to station a Daybreak-class mobile fortress for the colony's protection. These requests, however, were denied since the Star Fleet had more pressing uses for them closer to home, with tensions rising between the Alliance and several local powers. Following this rejection, Colonial Governor Mari Illustrious Makinami and Colonial Fleet commander Admiral Hitomi Tomoko submitted a new proposal, requesting technological and logistical support from the National Defense Laboratory to create their own new "supership" to defend and if necessary evacuate the colony in times of conflict.
The proposal sparked a debate in the Senate as to the rights and powers of a colonial government to construct such a ship, and whose custody the ship would fall under. In the end, it was decided by a narrow vote to allow construction, provided that the ship remain under the command of the Free Planets Star Fleet. However, the final bill also included a provision requiring the ship to be based in the New Terra Colony, to prevent it from being "stolen" and reassigned elsewhere after the Colony built it.
With permission granted, the Colonial Fleet set about putting together a design team for the project. The ship was to be designed internally by the New Terra Colonial Fleet, and a special review board was set up for the project. The design criteria were laid out in conjunction with the Colonial Government:
- Be capable of carrying the entire population of the New Terra Colony for the foreseeable future.
- Be capable of combat against other equivalent "superships," ideally with a good chance of winning.
- Be capable of supplying itself and supporting fleet in the field, requiring the installation of resource extraction systems.
These were rather broad criteria, and the designers were at first torn between a desire to create a large fortress-like design or a smaller warship-like design. The debate raged back and forth until Admiral Tomoko herself settled it in favor of the warship design, and told the designers quite plainly that the ship was to be a technological tour de force, advising them to "spare no expense" and to incorporate the best technology they had both in service and on the drawing board. It was to be the most powerful ship possible, since the New Terra Colony faced new challenges that the normal Star Fleet did not have to deal with, and was to be able to match all comers with a best chance of victory possible. Now with a clear purpose, the board set to work designing what would become the Liberty-class flagship.
Design work took approximately three months with computer and artificial intelligence support. Once the general direction had been established and conceptual workarounds for the design challenges had been established, designing the actual fittings and internal structure of the ship did not prove difficult, although it did draw on centuries of ship design and the collective database of all known technologies in the Alliance.
DesignAlthough their direction was set, the designers still faced a number of challenges. The design soon found itself in a form of "death spiral" where the increases in one subsystem would force similar enhancements in all areas, quickly ballooning the projected size, complexity, and construction time. Most pressingly, no suitable power source could be found that could support such demands, since power requirements exceeded all plausible solutions save the Original Zohar, which was far too valuable to devote to such a task. Eventually, an expedition by the stealth destroyer Nathan Hale was successful in discovering a second Zohar, also located in the Arzor system. This breakthrough provided the designers with the solution to the basic problem of power, allowing the rest of the design to proceed relatively smoothly.
The design was to be like no other in the Alliance. The basic hull was to be a flat disc, with a large engine/main weapon section running the length of the ship, and additional weapon sections mounted forward of the disc. The ship's hull, however, contained barely 1/10th of the ship's total internal volume, which was significantly augmented through the use of subspace positing techniques. While subspace positing had been used for decades in Alliance warships, this was the largest implementation of the system ever attempted, made possible by recent advances in efficiency and power-output techniques. This element would prove critical, as it would allow the ship to house a much larger array of weaponry within the hull by offloading all non-engineering systems to a posited "pocket dimension."
The posited space is composed of two separate "realms," each powered by two Zohar Emulator power transfer units for redundancy. The first is used as habitable space for the crew, and is itself laid out as a series of cities spread through several islands in a large artificial ocean. The land was fashioned from part of a planetoid in the Kanaris Nebula and then posited artificially. The second is additional engineering and storage space, housing ammunition, cargo, bulk supplies, additional docking bays, and even whole weapons as part of the Modular Weapon Mount System. Access to and from the different spaces is provided by a network of transfer points that in effect function like point-to-point transporters.
The hull itself mounts only the necessary components, including the engines and main power system, large fixed weapon mounts, sensors, some docking bays, the main bridge, and the shield system. This keeps the ship's size to a minimum while allowing it to carry far more weapons than such a vessel would normally be able to carry.
In an unusual move, foreign technology was incorporated into the design. The major strength of the Liberty-class was not to be its sheer firepower, but its adaptability and flexibility. To that end, the Review Board opened negotiations with the Bad Wolf Corporation to purchase an advanced set of weapons and defenses to further outfit the ship. These technologies in fact comprised the majority of the ship's real cost, although they were considered a necessary expenditure. It was also hoped that this would increase interoperability with allied battle fleets in the area.
An unusual contribution came from the Jurai Empire. Shortly after the Chousin War, both nations had settled into a pattern of cordial relations within the terms of the negotiated settlement, but under pressure from Tsunami herself, the Juraian Empire had begun to sue for closer relations. One of the suggested methods was a joint project, and it was decided by the Alliance Senate that the Liberty-class flagship would be that project. This in and of itself created new challenges, since the ship's conduits had to be redesigned to now incorporate Juraian power channeling technology as well as a docking port for a Royal Juraian spacecraft, although the technology was eventually successfully integrated without major difficulty.
With its huge complement of weapons, the batteries of the Liberty-class are divided into different groupings based on intended role. The main battery consists of the heaviest and most powerful weapons, designed for use against fortresses, fleets, or even planets. It is almost entirely grouped forward along the central axis of the ship.
The secondary battery is the most flexible battery and comprises the majority of the anti-ship armament, including the unique modular carousel mount system. Its weapons cover all areas of the ship to provide wide-area firepower against any possible target.
The tertiary battery is composed of support or point-defense batteries not normally designed for direct anti-ship warfare. These include the CIWS batteries, anti-fighter systems, phaser array, and missile batteries.
Primary BatteryThe centerpiece of the main battery is the new distributed multipurpose phase cannon, a radical departure from previous designs. The previous "Aurora" design required a large and rather fragile focusing dish, which the new distributed system is able to do away with to reduce vulnerability. This change resulted in a slight decrease in efficiency, but this was offset by the sheer power output of the Original Zohar. Like a normal multipurpose phase cannon, the "Super Aurora" is capable of firing a multitude of different energy types, with the most powerful being the phase transfer beam, which can directly convert matter into energy in a manner similar to an antimatter reaction. Despite being smaller, this system has the same power as the normal "Aurora" system mounted on the much larger Daybreak-class mobile fortress, and is capable of easily destroying a planet or destabilizing a star.
The second main assault weapon is an axial protomatter superlaser, similar to the design mounted aboard the Peacemaker-class star dreadnought. This weapon is considered much more "surgical," as it is designed to take out single targets using a focused beam derived from the main reactors. Unlike a traditional laser that burns a clean hole through its target, the protomatter used to fuel the laser creates a dangerously unstable chain reaction in the target, causing it to violently explode upon contact. It is capable of destroying nearly any ship in a single blast, as well as destroying a planet, although its focused beam is too small to have any noticeable effect on a star.
The "Galaxy"-type singularity cannon was developed as an anti-ground weapon, originally deployed as the main armament of the M1004 Ultrasaurus assault platform. However, testing indicated that it was a suitable weapon for space use, as the powerful microsingularity generated by its shells still had a noticeable effect on enemy warships. It is also used to interdict large incoming barrages of ordinance by absorbing them into the singularity. It is not capable of destroying a planet although it can inflict significant damage to the surface, and is considered an area-of-effect weapon to be used against fleets rather than a direct-fire weapon for use against ships.
Three larger "Thor Hammer Mk. II" hadron siege cannons were also mounted in the forward weapons bays to provide long-range bombardment power for the ship. A scaled-up version of the standard 150 meter "Thor Hammer" mounted aboard the Macross-class fire support cruiser, the Mk. II is used to punch holes in heavy armor and enemy fortifications, and unlike the axial superlaser, does not generally cause a detonation, and can burn a clean hole through enemy targets, making it ideal for breaching operations against large targets.
The last two weapons that compose the main battery are standard Alliance heavy neutron cannons and the Kusanagi refractive laser cannon system. The massive battery of neutron cannons fills up all of the remaining space in the forward weapons modules, and provide the bulk of the ship's normal forward firepower. It provides traditional long-range bombardment firepower to supplement the larger weapons of the primary battery. The Kusanagi system was implemented to provide full coverage of all areas by the main battery, and is the only weapon system in the main battery that is not exclusively forward-oriented, instead covering the entire hull in a network of energy channels capable of firing and directing laser beams along any vector.
Secondary BatteryThe secondary battery is dominated by the modular weapon mount system, a unique solution to the challenge posed by the weapon design requirements faced by the design board. In order to make the ship truly adaptable, a large array of different weapons was required. However, this required either decreasing the number of weapons of each type while increasing the number of types, therefore limiting the firepower of each weapon design, or reducing the number of weapon types to increase the number of weapons per type, therefore decreasing flexibility. Increasing the number of mounts via either solution would also cause numerous problems with the armor design, as power conduits would have to be passed through the hull layers to the exterior surface, weakening the integrity of the laminated armor system.
The solution was to use a carousel system similar to the ground-based Type-02 Vertical Carousel Assault System, which would rotate the various weapon batteries into a modular mount while storing the additional unused weapons in subspace. The physical mount on the hull would incorporate a maneuver thruster, shield generator, a fixed turbolaser and light neutron cannon mount, and two modular mounts for the carousel battery. The modular mounts use standard power connections, allowing the weapons to be shifted into place and swapped during battle within seconds, allowing the most appropriate type of fire to be concentrated in the desired direction while maintaining broadside strength and reducing the number of vulnerable locations in the hull.
Each carousel system has 16 weapon mounts, of which two can be deployed at any one time. Additional mounts can be added as needed, but generally are not added unless there a special weapon is needed since each carousel takes up space in the ship's service and storage realm. The carousels house a default armory of several standard weapons, including heavy turbolasers, ion cannons, concussion missile launchers, and multipurpose torpedo launchers designed to fire both Alliance and Alterran torpedo designs. They are also the first mounts to incorporate the energy siphon system as a standard weapon, marking the first use of the system since the Cambrian Civil War.
Rounding out the secondary battery is an array of standard long-range rail-guns. Despite their moniker, they are almost never used in long-range combat, as their speed makes them relatively easy to avoid or intercept en route to their target. Instead, they are most commonly used at close range or to break up fleet formations to decrease enemy combat effectiveness.
Tertiary BatteryThe tertiary battery is composed primarily of defensive weapons, including the entire CIWS and anti-fighter battery, as well as the fixed missile launchers and phaser arrays. Although the "Sledgehammer" missile batteries are fully capable of engaging enemy warships, they are also commonly loaded with sub-caliber interceptor missiles, and unlike the concussion missile tubes, can serve as a point-defense system. The Alterran phaser array is also designed for anti-ship use, but is more commonly used for point-defense while the similar Kusanagi system is used for anti-ship warfare, since it possesses a greater broadside weight and less utility as a point defense system due to its decreased accuracy.
The defense battery is designed to intercept threats before they impact the shields and armor system, as well as discourage such attacks to begin with. While the anti-fighter systems are individually weak, in close-combat against smaller frigates and destroyers in massed batteries, they are capable of warding off assaults particularly since their munitions are too small, fast, and numerous to realistically intercept in any meaningful number. The phaser array and missile batteries provide a more powerful punch against larger targets that make it past the secondary batteries and can contribute directly to a fleet battle.
Four systems currently make up the special weapons battery, although theoretically any mission-specific weapon that does not fall under the other classifications would be listed as a special weapon. The most unique is the Jurai energy weapon system, fitted to channel the provided Royal Tree's power into a destructive form. Royal Trees possess sufficient power that even a 3rd generation tree is capable of destroying a planet in a single blast, and the energy weapon system actually acts as a conduit to regulate the energy output to useable and controllable levels.
As with nearly all other Juraian technology, this system makes use of special wooden conduits running through the ship, but does not actually use any gunports or physical emitters, instead channeling the energy directly through subspace to appear just outside the hull of the firing ship and then travel toward the target in a traditional beam. Without the need for emitters, the system is omnidirectional and can be fired in any direction with equal ease and output, but requires the presence of a Royal Tree connected to the power grid to use, rendering the system inoperable if the Captain or First Officer's Yacht (or another Royal Jurai Ship) is not docked.Although only effective against certain types of FTL drive, it was decided to fit a series of gravity well generators regardless, to provide both defensive protection from arriving fleets and offensive ability against escaping fleets using vulnerable FTL drives. These devices are spread throughout the hull to increase survivability, and are almost never activated at the same time, since only a few such devices are sufficient to interdict an area several AU's in diameter.
The gravity trap system is an extension of the lightwave barrier system, first field-deployed aboard the Pearl Core-type fleet support module. By using the conduits already included in the lightwave barrier system and a series of external reflectors, it is possible to redirect the graviton beams from the tractor beam generator into a localized area, trapping a ship or small group of ships in the targeted location. The strength of this effect is inversely proportionate to its size; a larger field is weaker, while a smaller field is much stronger. For maximum strength, the field can be focused into an area as small as a shuttlecraft, and against larger ships, is usually targeted specifically at the engine array, holding the engines (and thus the ship) in place. It can also be used offensively to tear sections from an enemy warship by ensnaring them in the trap, locking them in place while the rest of the ship continues moving, shearing off the trapped section and causing damage to the target.
As a standard combat tractor beam system, the TB-3000X is equipped with now-standard combat functions. It is capable of generating a graviton sphere to ward off or assist in ramming attacks, as well as a harmonic resonance or quantum carrier beam as a direct assault on enemy warships. Given the Liberty-class' size and strength, these weapons are quite effective against nearly all ships, using the sheer mass and energy output of the Liberty-class to their advantage.
The defensive complement of the Liberty-class is divided into two sections, shields and armor. Shields function as the primary line of defense, and are designed to stop incoming fire that is not intercepted by the CIWS batteries from impacting the hull. The armor layers are designed to increase the survivability and damage tolerance of the hull, although ideally the shield arrays and CIWS battery would be sufficient to prevent any hull impacts in the first place.
ShieldsThe Liberty-class is equipped with a seven-layer shield system incorporating technology from three separate nations. Four of the layers are Alliance-made, while two are Alterran and the final layer is Juraian. In operation, the firewall system is the outermost layer, and is designed to stop all attacks below the firewall's damage threshold. This saves weaker attacks from depleting the shield layers below, since attacks lacking sufficient strength to breach the firewall are stopped entirely, without any damage to the firewall itself. Below this is the fortress shield layer, which is designed to protect an escorting fleet from hostile fire, followed by the lightwave barrier. All three of these layers are projected some distance from the hull, allowing space for escorting vessels to seek shelter beneath the protective barriers.
The remaining four layers are all designed to protect the ship itself. The outermost of these layers is the Juraian Lighthawk Wings. Not a true omnidirectional shield, the Lighthawk Wings are instead generated along the vector of an incoming attack. The number of wings that can be generated depends on the ship connected to the network. A first-generation ship is capable of generating three wings which can also be used offensively as an energy blast mechanism. A second-generation ship can also generate three wings, but cannot use them offensively. A third-generation ship can only generate a single wing in conjunction with at least one other ship. The normal operation of the Liberty-class uses a rare paired set of second-generation trees, allowing for six wings to be generated.
The two middle layers are the Alterran-provided shields. The outermost of these is the new Quantum Nanite Shield provided by the Bad Wolf Corporation, which uses two layers of organic nanites with a layer of suspended plasma sandwiched between them to create a self-replenishing barrier to attack. Beneath this is a set of standard Muon 4 shields to further block any shots that may penetrate the above layer.
The final shield layer is a set of standard Alliance metaphasic shields that form the last line of defense before the hull itself. The shield arrays are distributed throughout the hull as part of the modular weapon mount system to maintain armor integrity.
The armor of the Liberty-class varies between 300 meters and 500 meters thick, depending on the deployment of the hydrometal armor layer, and incorporates seven different armor types from both the NFPA and Alterra. Although listed separately, the armor layers are actually integrated together into a single unit. The Neutronium-Crystalline, Arzorium-Alium, and nano-composite armor layers are sandwiched together in alternating layers for improved strength, with the electric reactive system channeled through the spaces between the nano-composite layers. The entire system is molecularly bonded together into a single piece, and is then phase-shifted as a single unit to decrease system complexity. The outer surface is also covered in a reduced-signature stealth coating as a passive defense system.
The hydrometal armor is deployed as needed, and is normally stored in large pools in subspace when not needed. Enough hydrometal is stored to cover the entire hull in a layer 200 meters thick, although it can be deployed in greater thicknesses to specific areas at the cost of other areas. When not in combat, the layer is normally stored in subspace to reduce mass and improve maneuverability.
ComplementAlthough the vast majority of tasks aboard the Liberty-class are automated, the ship still requires a vast crew of some 2.5 million personnel, and is designed to have a 2 million man marine complement. Normally, accommodations for such a large complement would require a ship several times the size of the current specifications, but the use of subspace positing to hold the crew section separate from the main hull has allowed a much more compact and efficient form.
The crew quarters are stored as a natural landscape posited in subspace, designed as a series of islands with cities atop them and Geofronts below. Since the crew of the Liberty-class is larger than many cities, this network of cities houses all manner of amenities and truly functions more like a city than a barracks or collection of crew quarters. The habitation space can comfortably support 10 million residents, allowing for expansion space in the future, and at maximum evacuation capacity can hold 450 million by draining the "sea" and converting it into land.
Separate posited spaces hold the quarters of the captain and first officer, since Rear Admiral Setsuko and Captain Shun are the bonded partners of the ship's Royal Trees, each of which generate their own separate spaces, and indeed are their own separate ships. Each of these spaces is approximately 30 kilometers in diameter, and is mostly untouched nature, with only a few small compounds serving as the residences of their respective owners. Unlike the two main spaces, these areas were created by the trees themselves according to their partner's wishes, and were not constructed by the Alliance.
Water is provided from the large sea that encompasses the city islands, which functions as a reservoir. Unlike most seas, it is entirely freshwater by design, to decrease the effort needed to distill it into a drinkable form. The ship itself holds several internal reservoirs that regularly exchange their contents with the freshwater sea in the habitation realm.
Engineering PlantThe most pressing issue in the design stage was the issue of power. No known single power source aside from the Original Zohar or a Royal Tree could power the Liberty-class, and this proved to be an issue since neither were expected to be provided. A multi-unit solution such as a network of protomatter-palladium reactors would have proven too complex and unreliable, requiring hundreds of reactors to power the projected systems or a severe cutback in capability to meet power constraints.
In the end, both power sources were obtained, which allowed the ship to meet its design specifications without extensive reassessment of the design. The Original Zohar connected to a Zohar Power Transfer Unit serves as the main energy source, powering the shields, weapons, active armor systems, engines, and other high-consumption devices. Power for "hotel" services such as lighting, the lift systems, intraship transport, and other crew services is provided by a network of fusion and protomatter-palladium reactors distributed throughout the hull to improve redundancy and energy transfer efficiency. The protomatter reactors also provide localized backup power to higher-energy systems if needed, although they lack the energy to fully power all of the systems in their local sector.
Power for the two main "realms" is provided by a pair of Zohar Emulators each for redundancy. Either emulator is capable of powering the entire area on its own, but normally the energy is pooled between the two and distributed throughout the system. A series of backup fusion reactors is also provided in the unlikely event both emulators are disabled.
Power for these systems is generally distributed via an electro-plasma distribution network, which allows energy to be distributed as a plasma stream rather than as electricity or some other form of energy. By removing electrical wiring, vulnerability to EMP attacks is significantly reduced, and the plasma streams are more useful than direct electrical power, being easier to transmit at high energy levels and easier to store than an electrical charge.
Because the Jurai Royal Tree power system is designed to be removable and is not a permanent fixture, it is not considered to be a primary power source and is normally allocated only to power the Juraian systems integrated into the ship, as well as the two yachts themselves. It is considered a backup power source for the main grid, however, and can supply the ship in the event the Zohar Power Transfer Unit is knocked offline or disconnected.
Unlike the normal energy grid, the Jurai Royal Trees funnel their power through a series of wooden conduits crafted from Juraian hardwoods. This system generally parallels the plasma network, but does not connect to any ship systems, and instead acts as a channel to harness the trees' power. As such, it is not compatible with the plasma network, but several specific interchanges exist where the tree network is connected to a special fusion reactor to convert the trees' energy into plasma which can be used in the main network as a backup.
EnginesTo keep vulnerabilities to a minimum, it was decided to use the fewest engines possible while maintaining a level of redundancy. This required engines that maximized thrust while minimizing volume, and could be scaled to massive sizes and outputs without a loss of efficiency. Recent breakthroughs had allowed photon thrusters to achieve parity in terms of thrust output with large plasma thrusters while retaining their relatively small size and superior mass-to-thrust ratio. Thus, it was decided to use the new photon thruster designs scaled up to enormous size as the main drive system, although as a backup, two plasma reaction thrusters were also included in the design.
The four main photon thrusters are all located aft, with one pair on either side of the central spine, while the two plasma thrusters are mounted directly to the spine on either side. Unlike civilian export warships and in line with normal Alliance engine design, there are no smaller secondary engines to minimize gaps in the armor coverage, which cannot protect the thrust bells, for obvious reasons.
Maneuvering is achieved through a combination of internal gyroscopes and external maneuvering thrusters. Each of the modular weapon mounts is equipped with a maneuver thruster, which allows for vector changes while in flight. The internal gyroscopes allow the ship to turn itself without the use of thrusters, but because they cannot exert force, they cannot actually change the ship's heading. They are most commonly used to maneuver the ship so that the main engines can then move the ship along its intended path.
FTL travel is achieved through standard Alliance subspace warp drive and UMN gate drive interfaces, but the generally unused hyperdrive was also added for redundancy despite its vulnerability to gravity wells. Most unusually, however, a Cambrian-derived Mass Imaginarisation Drive was installed, the largest ever created by the Alliance. Previous drives had been limited to scientific testing aboard exploratory fleets, but given the vast distances the Liberty-class was envisioned to travel, it was decided to test the system, which theoretically offers nigh-unlimited speed over longer distances.
Miscellaneous SystemsWith the ever-growing reliance on firewall technology, a powerful computer system became more important than ever. Previous designs had only required enough processing power to accomplish all tasks assigned, with relatively little surplus processing power to decrease manufacturing complexity. This was no longer a viable tradeoff, and massive fleetwide upgrades were initiated to overhaul computer systems in all ships and bring them up to date. Research into newer, faster, and more resilient computing technologies took on a new importance, no longer limited to scientific curiosity.
The result of a recent research breakthrough, the Liberty-class was the first ship to include a new UMN augmented computer system, adding nearly-unlimited UMN processing power to the ship's existing hybrid bioneural-isolinear network. These massive computing reserves allow the ship's firewalls the ability to block nearly any incoming shot, and can network with other computers via the UMN to boost its total computing power.
Tying in to the improved UMN connectivity, the Liberty-class is the first ship to also equip a UMN transporter network, allowing patterns to be sent via the UMN to any other transporter pad in the Alliance. Compatible transporters can also send patterns to the Liberty-class, although these patterns are extensively screened for security reasons.
The class is also equipped with a full holographic projection network, allowing holograms to be projected anywhere within the hull, and the immediate vicinity outside the hull. Forcefield emitters give these holograms physical shapes, allowing AI or Encephalon-diving crewmembers to project physical forms at remote locations as necessary, such as in the handling of dangerous materials or for rapid-response situations.
As a warship designed to support fleets, the Liberty-class is equipped with shipyard-grade mass-fabrication arrays and resource extraction systems, allowing it to harvest local resources and convert them directly into useable parts for its support fleet. This also means that it is capable of fabricating its own weapons once the blueprints and design have been either acquired or researched internally, adding to the ship's versatility.
For stealth purposes, the class is equipped with the largest interphasic cloaking device ever designed in the Alliance, which is capable of cloaking the entire ship. Due to its sheer size, it is capable of decloaking selective parts of the ship, allowing them to fire on and bait enemy warships in engagements while protecting the rest of the ship.