Uss Thanatos

Type: Stygian-class Extra-Galactic explorer (Proof of Concept demonstrator)
Powerplant: Three MJ-112 warp cores, three FR-554 impulse APU’s (Auxiliary Power Units), One Composite Triplex MTWAS-2 Transwarp drive.

Armament: Six Quantum Torpedo launchers (two for each hull.) Six Standard Torpedo launchers (two for each hull.) Twelve CTR-90 Phaser Cannon (four for each hull.) Eighteen Standard Phaser arrays (six for each hull.) Three Transphasic Torpedo launchers (one for each hull.) Three Javelin modular weapons launchers (one for each hull.) One Itemek-7 kinetic weapon (rail gun, dorsal hull only.)

Armor: Laminade Chaubum/ vera-tensile RSR (Reactive, Self-Replicating) armor. Two decameters thick.

Shields: Multiphase synthetic aperture blast displacement shielding.

Structure: Polycryllic incrium set in lattice mesh, cold rolled, geodesic honeycombs.

Top speed at warp: 9.6
Top speed at transwarp: 9.4

Crew: 320 (60 officers, 260 enlisted technicians.)

The Stygian-class was born of a rivalry between SCE and the Pathfinder Project. Pathfinder was born out of the need to recover USS Voyager from the Delta Quadrant, and produced several useful concepts including the singularity communications array that allowed Starfleet to contact Voyager for eleven minutes a day in real time. Several other concepts arose from the Project before Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant, but almost all the experimental drives intended to enable Starfleet to run out to Voyager and recover her crew were complete failures. Upon Voyager’s return, Pathfinder’s varied projects were canceled and the project’s scientists reassigned. Brevet Captain William Porter was assigned to the Pathfinder Project to shut it down.

To everyone’s surprise, Porter never did shut down Pathfinder after a careful study of the concepts under development. Convinced there were useful directions to go with Pathfinder’s findings, Porter maintained a skeleton crew of scientists and engineers to proceed at a much slower pace than before. He was forced to move the Project from Mars Utopia Planitia Space Yards to the more disreputable Neptune Space Yards based out of Triton Station. He requested permission to build a ship hull to test the various drive concepts under development by Pathfinder, and was denied by SCE. Unperturbed, Porter requested surplus hulls he could refurbish. SCE and Starfleet Command, eager to silence Porter, granted him permission to refurbish five Prometheus-class ships.

The Prometheus-class was experiencing several teething problems about this time mostly due to the catastrophic blow to the development schedule the theft of the lead ship of the class in late 2374. Ironically, the same event spawned the Pathfinder Project when Voyager revealed itself during the incident. Porter was granted permission to procure USS Clearchus, USS Leonidas, and USS Dianekes. Each had a rather sordid history owing to both the cutting-edge technology they employed, and a string of bad luck that plagued the Prometheus-class until the block-40 models were developed.

USS Clearchus was damaged on the Muroc Salt Flats Test Range near the Klingon border when a photon torpedo exploded in the tube killing sixteen crew members. The Clearchus was scrapped and taken to Pluto for salvage. By the time Porter was allowed access to her, the Clearchus was little more than a hollow shell. The Pathfinder project so extensively modified and refitted even at the design stage, SCE declared the ship a new class and the USS Stygian was born.

USS Leonidas had the misfortune to land one of the worst helmsmen in the fleet and one of the greenest computer specialists fresh from the Academy on her maiden cruise. Between the two of them, they caused no fewer than sixteen collisions during fleet maneuvers. The final straw came when the Leonidas started an attack sequence inside a spacedock. Her three hulls banged around inside the dock until over 100 were dead and the Leonidas was so badly damaged she had to be towed to Pluto in three sections. Until Porter requisitioned her, the ship hadn’t been put together for three years. After her refitting she was rechristened the USS Mortis.

USS Dianekes was the widowmaker of the fleet before Pathfinder found her. During a warp drive accident, her crew (all 340 of them) were killed when her three warp drives failed to synchronize while using her Multi-vector mode. The ship suffered extensive nucleic buckling, a term used to denote the disintegration, distortion, or dimensional fission or fusion of atomic nuclei. The non-synchronous warp fields tore the ship and her crew apart at a very fundamental level. A total warp breach was avoided by freak happenstance. The hulls of all three sections broke open around the warp cores and the three cores repelled each other to a safe distance where they were recovered. What was left of the Dianekes and her crew resembled shredded charcoal. Porter didn’t want the craft, but he’d brought Lt. Commander Hertzog into the project about the same time. During this point in his life, Hertzog was a raging alcoholic, and Porter thought the shattered hull of the Dianekes might provide a project suitably prolonged to sort out Hertzog’s personal problems. He was mistaken where Hertzog was concerned, but the man revamped the Diankes into the USS Pale Horse in record time, inebriated and hung over or not.

Not to be outdone, SCE at Mars Utopia Planitia saw the small fleet sprouting up at Neptune and felt a pang of institutional jealousy. They confiscated a mothballed Prometheus-class ship USS Alcibiades and refit her to Stygian-class standards. They installed the finest Transwarp drive they had on the drawing board, the finest computer, the finest warp cores, and… the Alcibiades wouldn’t run. They spent a year tinkering with the craft before they appealed to Porter to supply them with his experts. Porter wasn’t at all leery of spreading the fruits of his efforts around the fleet and sent his two best engineers to help out: Commander Barney Blackburn, and Lt. Cmdr. Hertzog. Blackburn was the transwarp specialist while Hertzog was Pathfinder’s chief troubleshooter. Without qualm they offered the complete specs for USS Stygian to the SCE team along with lists of developmental data they’d amassed during her space trials. In exchange SCE was to hand over an advanced navigational array they’d developed for the Alcibiades. Instead, the Mars team confiscated the Stygian and Mortis and installed the system themselves. Insulted, Blackburn left the Mars and returned to Pluto to continue work on the theoretical work for Pathfinder. He ordered Hertzog to return to Neptune, but not before Hertzog suggested four of his former trainees to head development projects for the Stygian, Alcibiades, Mortis, and a forthcoming ship called the Nyx. One of them was Lt. Cmdr. Korokov.

When Lt. Commander Dmitri Korokov was assigned to the still-inoperable USS Alcibiades, he insisted on taking the ship to the absolute limit of the design. To prove his point he built USS Nyx alongside the Alcibiades as he refit her. By the time he was finished with the two ships, the Stygian-class would never be the same. The Alcibiades was so heavily modified she was rechristened USS Thanatos. She was almost an entirely new class along with the identical USS Nyx beside her. Another one of Hertzog’s former students took over the Nyx and gradually turned it into a distinct craft quite apart from the Thanatos.

Her space trials showed the Thanatos was capable of Warp 9.6 while in her three segments, and Transwarp 9.4 with all three hulls joined. Impressive as this was, Korokov wasn’t done with the craft. He built the craft to withstand incredible punishment from Borg and Dominion attack. To do this, the structure had to be remade from the keel up. A Russian engineer framed in the “Heroic” mold typical of the nation, Korokov wasted no effort to make his ship more durable including the time consuming process of fusing the frame and hull together using the long discarded Starfire fusion forges. It required a nuclear reaction to fabricate every cubic centimeter of the structure and Korokov inspected every bit of it with a microscope and a dental drill. His attention to absolute crystalline continuity within the hull means that when the hull and frame is polarized, there isn’t a cubic nanometer of weakness. He tested the structure by deliberately abusing it at every turn in ever escalating measures. SCE finally drew the line when they found out he was detonating quantum torpedoes in each compartment of the ship with crew members present in adjacent compartments. By his own estimates, Korokov judged the hull plates of the Thanatos to be capable of direct immersion in a supernova for several years before crystalline degradation set in. The frame is capable of several years of the same treatment. Her sister ship USS Nyx avoided much of this exhaustive fabrication by making her frame from fibercore composites laminated with durtanium sleeves.

Korokov’s masterpiece was the Thanatos’ shields and automated maintenance systems. Nanites constantly scour the ship to clean and refurbish the systems. He managed this by modeling their control routines on the human proteome and genome. Each nanite has a complete copy of how to build the ship in its encoding while it can specialize in one area or anther as circumstances demand. It worked so well, it was the one thing Blackburn demanded for Pathfinder by threatening to court-martial SCE officials. The shielding was overpowered, but Korokov brokered no argument. He was building a ship to bring her crew back every time, and any half-measure was rejected with florid outrage. As a result the Thanatos is the toughest ship ever produced by Mars Utopia Planitia. Her stress tests revealed a ship capable of incredible punishment. “Sending quantum torpedoes at the Thanatos is like trying to drill a hole in carbide with a q-tip,” one astonished SCE engineer quipped after failing to drop the Thanatos’ shields with everything Mars had to offer.

Her weapons load was somewhat lighter than Korokov wanted because the structure wouldn’t permit its fitting. The one drawback to building a ship the way Korokov did with the Thanatos is she is incapable of modification. New systems must be fitted to the ship instead of modifying the ship to accept them. A three millimeter error in the design of the torpedo tubes cost Korokov four months to refabricate the structure all the way around the area (about 5 cubic meters of space.) Still, she carries a heavy load on par with a heavy cruiser. A new class of photon torpedo was manufactured to fit through the same launchers as quantum torpedoes to save space and avoid further distorting the frame. Phaser cannons, and standard phasers are fitted along with Javelin kinetic missiles.

Another drawback to the Stygian-class (barring USS Pale Horse) is their internal space is extremely limited. Each of their three hulls must have a warp core, impulse drive, computer core, and a bulky set of control leads to integrate everything into a single ship once the three hulls are joined. As a result, USS Thanatos is the only ship of the line to delete the hangar in favor of a series of docking ports along the top of the dorsal section. She did this to accommodate an updated Transwarp drive that is operative when the three outsized warp drives are linked in parallel. Due to her harder-than-granite construction, she also has starkly different lines from the other Stygian-class ships.

USS Stygian still retains her Prometheus-class lines, but she’s about 50 meters longer giving her a somewhat more graceful appearance. USS Mortis took a starkly different direction and created more internal volume by sculpting the hull with fuselage blending. As a result the saucer and hulls are chined to a fine degree. A useful upshot of this aesthetically pleasing appearance is remarkably good handling at high speeds thanks to better distribution of the ship’s mass along the center of gravity. The Nyx and the Thanatos couldn’t manage such fine lines because of the difficulty in fabricating such stylized shapes using the materials and structures that made them so tough. The Nyx gradually became a faceted, slab-sided affair since her chief engineer used thick sections of quenched fibercore for hull plates. In her way, she’s a graceful ship, but nobody will claim the Nyx is the queen of the line. Korokov managed to sculpt the Thanatos somewhat, but she’s the tubby ship of the class with no discernible chines or sharp contours of the Nyx. USS Pale Horse took still another take on the concept and tiered her chines to allow for a set of rather prominent armored hangar doors in her dorsal section.

Despite taking the longest to build, the Thanatos was the first ship of the Stygian-class to successfully test her transwarp drive. Korokov’s no-half-measures-acceptable approach produced a vessel with very few systematic flaws to iron out. The original traswarp drive was a Borg copy and capable of only traswarp 4. Thanks to input from Pathfinder, a new drive was installed (at the cost of several crew quarters to fit the new warp cores.) The new drive was designed with help from a Tholian artist named Brazos who had petitioned to join Pathfinder when he heard about the new concepts flowing out of the project. The new drive was smoother than the old Borg drive and performance for all the warp drives dramatically improved thanks to his input. The Borg drives were so jarring to engage, an alarm had to be sounded for the crew to strap in lest they be knocked off their feet by the jump into the transwarp conduits. The new drive Brazos and Blackburn designed worked so smoothly, the warp drive was capable of beyond warp 10 performance if the crew could survive the dimensional side-effects on their tissues. Since no amount of temporal shielding could protect the crews from such backlash, an engine governor was installed limiting the warp drives to warp 9.6.

After her space trials, the operational history of USS Thanatos (indeed the entire class) becomes murky. Much of the logs, data, and flight plans of the class have been classified or entirely expunged by Starfleet Command from 2377 to 2379. Starfleet High Command has allowed some information to be known to the general public, but the line has not garnered much attention anyway. It is known that USS Pale Horse left her moorings December 21, 2377 and returned to Neptune four times until she was mothballed on December 1, 2379. Furthermore it is known that USS Thanatos left her moorings December 25, 2377 and returned to Mars five times until she was mothballed two months before she was stolen in 2382 by the Rukakon just after the attack on San Francisco. The details of the Thanatos missions and those of the Pale Horse have not been made public or even acknowledged. Captain Mahomet of the Thanatos is under investigation for crimes the Judge Advocate is not at liberty to divulge. Captain Porter never returned from the last of the missions the Pale Horse went on. Starfleet Command is so evasive on the subject, the mere mentioning of the names Mahomet and Porter will guarantee journalistic expulsion from the Starfleet press corps. Very few in Starfleet are aware of what these two ships did while out of the Sol system, and Admiral Janeway has sought to keep it that way.

All the Stygian-class Captains have been tainted by the dubious nature of the Stygian-class lore. The Captains of the Nyx and Mortis vanished after accepting early retirement. The Stygian herself went through five Captains before she was mothballed, all of which died untimely deaths at the hands of fast acting health maladies.

Starfleet Core of Engineers has not developed a follow-on class to the line. Conceptual work on the forthcoming Atlantis-class (intended to replace the Sovereign-class in 2405) has included a much simplified (and provisional) transwarp drive, but oddly this powerplant appears to be capable of only transwarp 5 or 6. SCE is devoting more effort into wormhole technology and transwarp communications than to refining or improving upon the Stygian-class. Long-term plans for a series of Transwarp hubs stationed around the Milky Way and the surrounding Galaxies have been given priority over autonomous ship drives. Neither SCE nor Starfleet Command has offered an explanation for this. It is known these plans were developed in late 2379 after the return of USS Pale Horse to her moorings at Neptune.

The reasons for Starfleet’s official reticence on the Stygian-class can only be speculated at. Rumor has it Captain Porter traded transwarp technology to the Romulan Empire in exchange for cloaking technology he never received. Yet another rumor holds that Captain Mahomet destroyed a Borg cube with the Thanatos against Starfleet orders. Still another legend maintains all the Stygians left their moorings between 2377 and 2379 and waged a private war on Section 31 (the rumor holds they wiped out the entire organization in the Beta and Delta Quadrants, but this is utterly preposterous.) With only rumors to guide public opinion, almost anything is possible. The most sensible explanation for the lore surrounding the ships is that they were too little, too late. With the advent of wormhole generators, the entire class has become obsolete overnight.

Obsolete or not, the Rukakon stole USS Thanatos in mid 2382. The ensuing battle all but devastated Pluto Space Yards and Star Base Trinity Core. The Rukakon, in a stunningly ironic twist, operate the Thanatos as a transwarp pathfinder for their fleets allowing them to deploy large numbers of ships through transwarp conduits the Thanatos generates and navigates while a fleet follows in close tow. Her current Commander changes depending on the fleet she’s shepherding. Nar Tixlan originally stole the ship and is the most experienced officer the Rukakon have to utilize her. The ship is capable of deploying sizable fleet anywhere inside the Alpha Quadrant within hours. Her weapons load and inherent resilience are incidental to her operations since the real striking power of the Rukakon fleets far outweighs this "modest" craft, as the Rukakon would have it. Plans to reverse-engineer the Thanatos into its separate technologies have been frustrated by the ship itself. Korokov designed the ship to remain in tact and the nanites do an admirable job of fulfilling that specification. Rukakon engineers have literally watched panels reassemble themselves faster than it took to take them apart. Removing sections of the hull has been neigh on impossible thanks to the specification of armor plate. The Rukakon specialists working aboard her have few problems operating the gear so long as it isn't in a self-destructive manner. They claim to anyone who'll listen, that the Thanatos has a will of her own. That "will" is compliant so long as the Thanatos remains within design specifications. Any attempt to change or disassemble the ship will result in a plethora of systematic gremlins that will restore the ship to her proper setting. This technological poltergeist doesn't appear to care what the Thanatos is used for or who she faces, so long as the ship remains what Korokov built her to be. Odd as this behavior is, Tixlan and his crew are delighted with the ship. She's tough, heavily armed, blinding fast, and almost labor free. The only qualm they have is with the low ceilings in the corridors and crew quarters. Rukakons being a rather tall race are put at odds with the standard Korokov set for the living spaces around the ship. Korokov made the standard deck height precisely 2.05 meters (slightly shorter than SCE standard) for structural reasons. While this didn't bother Starfleet personnel to any great degree, Tixlan's crew must constantly stoop to make their way around the ship. Only the bridge and main engineering have tall enough ceilings for the average Rukakon to straighten up to their full height. As such, Tixlan and his men spend almost all their time on duty to avoid the cramped spaces around the ship. He's half-jokingly suggested that a female crew be installed since they would just barely fit inside the larger majority of the ship. Ser Talvad was not amused.

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