Friday, October 4, 2013

Into Shadow

While not a true artificial intelligence, the Hannex/ASECOR 'Herakles' represented a substantial breakthrough in both spacecraft and autonomous control systems design. Introduced into the private security market late in the decade, the Herakles I gave independent and short-haul transport concerns an affordable security solution in the form of a fully palletized short range fighter.

Barely 8 meters in length, the Herakles could be operated from a hangar the size of a standard XSE shipping container and could be carried in external cargo stowage in a number of configurations. By using a control core of picoformed nickel/palladium, the maintenance and survivability problem of organic material was avoided, and shielding mass could be reduced correspondingly. External command input could be minimal for most applications, but lack of sapiency certification prevented legal use within Treaty Sphere space. This was of minimal concern for most operators, as the primary market was operators in the outer system needing cheap and effective escort for cargo ships.

Operating a range of modular beam and missile weapons, the Herakles could be configured to deal with threats from zombie swarms to borgsats. While not a match for the more organized pirate concerns, the system proved effective enough to discourage even these attacks. Later marks introduced switch-on-the-fly weapon pods in addition to the refueling facilities fitted in the hangar module.

Here we see a late Mark I upgraded to Mark II standard. The auxiliary radiators fitted to the heat exchangers are a distinct element of the subtype. It's been deployed to sweep for mines in the Jupiter Trojans preceding survey work.

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