January 30th 2014
Aegis Dynamics began life in a merger between Earth-based Aegis Macrocomputing and Davien-based Dynamic Production Systems. The former constructed computing systems for the burgeoning spacecraft industry and the latter maintained four systems worth of production yards (including the specialized component factories on their home system). The goal from day one was to build naval spacecraft, and the resulting company was tailor-made for military contract bidding in an era when mankind was marshalling its forces. As Messer consolidated power, Aegis was there to supply spacecraft to his legions. Craft like the Retaliator became synonymous with the government’s iron hand.
With Messer’s fall, Aegis Dynamics seemed destined to fade away. The once-popular hardware supplier of Ivar Messer’s tyrannical regime — closely associated with the horrors of those years — Aegis was all but consigned to the dustbin of history. The company began a significant makeover after the fall of the Messer era; gone was the hard-edged and militant ‘AD’ lighting strike logo, replaced with a softer and less distinctive signifier. The damage of the association was done, however: contracts were cut and the company suffered massive layoffs as military spending went to newer and less-politically-dangerous corporations like Anvil Aerospace and MISC.
Then, a funny thing happened: the civilian world began to adopt Aegis’ military designs for their own purpose. Whether a testament to the increasingly dangerous galaxy or the sheer reliability of Aegis’ weapons of war, the company once fueled by dictatorial government contracts now thrived on the population it once helped oppress. Retaliator bombers were no longer the feared symbols of government power; instead, they became personal transports, mobile homes, mining spacecraft and even firefighters. The burdens of Aegis’ past began to lift and the company began to focus on civilian variants for their current-generation designs.
The Avenger began its life serving dutifully as the premiere front-line carrier plane of the late 28th century. Avengers racked up a number of impressive space-to-space victories in that era, but were ultimately supplanted by more maneuverable designs like the Hornet. With space combat focusing more on skilled maneuvering than pure weapons storage, the Avenger fell out of active duty with the military and was repurposed as the standard ship for Advocacy and local law enforcement. Today, the military will still use Avengers as trainers; the two-seat variant is a forgiving first spacecraft for new pilots.
The current civilian model Avenger is marketed towards bounty hunters, with the second seat removed for direct access to the hold. Munitions storage has also been replaced with traditional cargo hooks, and (perhaps most importantly) the standard exterior flight line ladder entry system has been replaced with an internalized solution that allows the pilot to more easily maintain control of access (and egress).
The Retaliator, once the symbol of Messer’s iron fist, has transitioned along with the company to become an all purpose spacecraft design. With over two centuries of design evolution, modern day Retaliators barely resemble the original model. Built first as a ground-based strategic bomber, the Retaliator is capable of delivering a heavy payload of bombs to a planetary target or an array of shipkiller torpedoes to any size of capital ship. It was exactly this modularity that allowed civilian pilots to adapt the Retaliator for their own purposes: adaptable bomb bays could be swapped for after-market living quarters, cargo racks or other, more exotic options. Added to this was the vast quantity of surplus Retaliators stored in low-humidity conditions around the galaxy, making them a cost-effective option for pilots looking to make a start with a larger crewed spaceship.
The resulting ‘do it yourself’ nature of Retaliator ownership has caused an interesting, ship-specific culture to flourish. Though they come from all walks of life, civilian Retaliator pilots have formed something of a brotherhood around their love of their “Talis.” So-called ‘bomber boys’ organize Retaliator conventions and compete to find the most interesting new uses for the spacecraft. BB gatherings may bring thousands of the ships together at once, and provide an interesting sight for anyone caught in the middle.
Today, the Aegis Surveyor is the company’s best-selling remaining military contract ship. Surveyors are heavy-duty space salvage ships designed for a strong support role. The design isn’t pretty to look at, but it features a variety of rugged specialized tools, all designed for operation in a combat theater: long-range jump drives, launch pods for drones, tractor beams, floodlights and more. Civilian surveyors are also a common site on the frontier, where they are adapted as dedicated salvage ships and explorers. A crew traveling deep space in a Surveyor should be capable of taking home some of whatever mysteries they happen across!
Idris corvettes are one of Aegis’ larger present-day designs (in prior years, the company’s shipyards turned out everything up to battlecruisers.) The original Idris-M is a warship that serves alongside ships-of-the-line in the UEE Navy. Fast, armored predators, Idris-Ms are used for everything from long duration patrols to scouting dangerous jump points to inderdiction. A properly-outfitted Idris with an effective crew can serve as a torpedo boat; in rare instances, the Idris has even used its speed and maneuverability advantages to scuttle opposing cruisers.
Militia units have also adopted the Idris, in its lighter Idris-P variety. The Idris-P removes the spinal mount weapons platform found on the M, in exchange for additional cargo storage and a higher effective top speed. Idris-Ps frequently carry several light fighters and are used for antismuggling operations. It is not uncommon to come across an Idris-P laden with multiple prizes. The most brazen pirate clans are even known to target non-military Idrises for this reason!
The Idris-P patrol design is available in limited quantities on the civilian market, and it continues to rehabilitate Aegis’ reputation, having become something of a luxury item. Idris captaincy is considered a prestigious position and Citizens frequently compete to purchase the limited number of civilian craft the company can produce. An Idris isn’t just a luxury item: these crewed ships can effectively transport cargo, explore distant worlds or take on any other role, all while involving a larger crew than a Freelancer or a Constellation.