Aeran Cruiser Lore: The Rlaan-Aeran war

Many military mistakes can be explained by commanders falling into the trap of preparing to fight the previous war. The situation for the Aera at the beginning of the Rlaan-Aeran war was even further exacerbated - the Aerans had never fought a meaningful campaign against a comparable opponent since leaving their own homeworld. Their admirals had built a fleet not to fight the previous war, but to fight an imagined war, full of assumptions less alien to the Aeran mind than reality would prove to be. Historically, Aeran conflicts tended to resolve through demonstration of overwhelming force, destruction of the upper tiers of the social hierarchy, and subsequent rapid submission by the losing party. Shifting of pack loyalty to the dominant pack made post-conflict integration easier and wars fought to the last combatant rare.

The Anaxander was in no way a poorly built ship, nor an inherently bad design, but it was woefully suited to the war the Aera found themselves in with the Rlaan. Aeran fleet doctrine of the time used capital vessels much like stand-off artillery pieces, raining destruction from afar with ballistic trajectory warheads and long-range missiles while sub-capital and strike craft provided escort and harassed enemy formations. Orbital infrastructure, incapable of dodging long-range projectiles, was the favored target. The Aeran presumption was that, with support and manufacturing infrastructure destroyed, and little of defensible value remaining, a systems defenders would, seeing their clear long-term disadvantage, either retreat or surrender. The Rlaan response of flying their own capital vessels into knife-fighting range of the Anaxanders and eviscerating the Aeran ships even as their own riddled hulks lumbered past in suicidal decay was not anticipated.

The Rlaan approach to capital vessel combat was and remains deeply different from that of the Aerans. The unique Rlaan shield-engines, scale radically differently than the reaction engines used by other extant groups. While the maximum acceleration of the drives is limited, hampering Rlaan strike craft, the fall-off in acceleration from Rlaan strike craft to Rlaan capital vessels is very shallow, allowing their cruisers to make maneuvers one would more likely expect of an Aeran corvette or frigate than. This dovetails well with the Rlaan preferences for energy and gravitic weapons, whose range is far more limited than projectile and missile approaches. To support such close-quarters combat, Rlaan vessels are also much more redundantly constructed than stand-off vessels, enabling them to fight while deeply damaged. Furthermore, the Rlaan empire has long been producing its current models, has numerous vessels, and no lack of Defender and Hybrid subspecies members to crew them and die aboard them. The combination of these things leads to tactics that the Anaxander was ill prepared to cope with. In particular, the Anaxander is, by modern standards, excessively forward-oriented in its armament. If a Rlaan vessel could survive getting close enough (ranges an Aeran captain would have thought laughable for a space battle prior to the war), it could tear apart the Anaxander from the offensively weak sides and rear while using its superior maneuverability to keep the Anaxander from turning its main guns upon it. Even a half-crippled Rlaan cruiser can run rings around most other capital vessels.

Thus, the Aera quickly began work on producing a new cruiser for the Rlaan front, the Anaxandridas. Starting with existing Anaxander hulls and material in production, the Anaxandridas was, by necessity of time, as much a revision as a new design. The engines, thrusters, and hammerheads were adapted wholesale from the Anaxander. The 9 Kopis accelerators of the Anaxander were exchanged for 3 much smaller accelerators mounted just to the rear of the forward hammerhead, each with it's own very short, stubby radiator-fin tower. At the rear, 3 radiator towers, only slightly taller, but much thicker than those at the front, house the limited capital missile reserves of the Anaxandridas. The center of the ship is a grand departure from the Anaxander design, completely redesigned. The central armored tube bulges noticeably to accommodate the additional reactors beneath 6 radiator spines, each running much of the way from hammerhead to hammerhead. Atop each of these is a massive, singular turreted laser array emitter and a pair of tiny anti-strike craft emplacements. Only on the ends of the hammerheads do full-fledged point defense clusters remain, all others being removed to make way for the larger radiator spires due to the Rlaan non-use of missile weaponry. With the Anaxandridas, the Aeran Ascendancy had produced a ship that could sweep any Rlaan vessel that dared to close to tango range with lethal fire from any angle, but they had deeply sacrificed on generality, something they would address after the war with the Anaxidamus class battle cruiser.

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    • ~2.5 km in length
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    • Overspecialized for fighting the Rlaan, who do not use missiles. Limited PD. Negligible weaponry
    • for defending against strike craft. Strictly anti-capital role. Purely offensive in nature, weapons split
    • between long-ranged spinals and missile tubes and medium ranged energy emplacements. Designed
    • to finish off a single target quickly, rather than to suppress multiple targets or to engage in prolonged
    • battle of attrition. Medium ranged energy mounts designed to counteract charges by Rlaan capital
    • vessels, and spinal mounts and capital missiles used to attack less aggressive opponents.
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