History of the U.S.S. Atlantis
The history of the U.S.S. Atlantis began twenty years before her construction. The famous simma engineer Maxime Tern was hired by the Galactic Fleet to study the types of ships that they were flying, and develop new types of ships. Tern toured the various flotillas and battle groups of the Galactic Fleet and looked at every type of ship the fleet had to offer. She toured the decks and crawled through the bowels of everything from small fighters and shuttles to the most massive carriers, battleships, and dreadnoughts. Tern even studied space stations. She found that every type of ship had some value and virtue to it that made it an essential part of the fleet. As she toured ships, she also researched naval tactics and strategies, and found that no one type of ship was entirely independent. Even the most advanced carriers and dreadnoughts needed to fly with a battle group. To further enhance her study, Tern toured various museum ships throughout the Galactic Alliance. She was particularly fascinated with the larger ships. Her study ultimately resulted in more than fifty new designs and concepts now employed by the Galactic Fleet and the Galactic Rangers. Sadly, she ultimately became a casualty of the Incirrata War. She was traveling under escort back to Simmal, when her personal starship was attacked by Incirrata raiders. Though her escort drove the raiders away, Tern’s ship was destroyed, and Tern herself was killed. The last thing anyone heard from her was a brief essay proposing the creation of a new type of starship. She called it a “Tactical Carrier”, and intended it to be a hybrid of an aircraft carrier and a dreadnought. Carriers normally carried few weapons, relying instead, on their aircraft to function as their firepower. Dreadnoughts, however, were essentially nothing but firepower. Dreadnoughts and similar ships have existed in one form or another ever since intelligent civilizations first sailed the oceans of their home planets. True dreadnoughts are starships made to carry heavy weapons into battle. They were meant to provide the heaviest firepower and evolved from simple mobile gun platforms to moving arsenals, often with dozens of weapons, ranging from guns to missiles and torpedoes. Tern proposed building an aircraft carrier equipped with the heavy firepower of a dreadnought. She also proposed building her tactical carrier large enough that she could carry the facilities of a small space station. Tern’s propositional essay had been transmitted to Simmal just prior to her death. However, the essay was archived, pending an investigation into Tern’s death. It took weeks to fully investigate her death, and by that time, Tern’s essay was forgotten as the needs of the war pushed concerns of designing new types of ships onto the proverbial back burner.
Ten years after the end of the Incirrata War, a chim simma engineer named Mikkal Borun stumbled across Tern’s essay while researching naval architecture. He was fascinated by Tern’s concept of a tactical carrier. Borun took Tern’s essay to Galactic Fleet Command and read it to their chiefs of staff. Borun proposed designing and building Tern’s tactical carrier. Galactic Fleet Command agreed with him, and authorized him to begin developing Tern’s concept into a workable design. For weeks, Borun and his starship design team tossed designs around. They settled on a triangular central hull with cylindrical outrigger hulls on either side. This was where the team deviated in their ideas. One camp in Borun’s design team proposed outfitting the design as a hospital ship. Their idea was to create a massive hospital ship the likes of which the galaxy had never seen before. The massive outrigger hulls were large enough to house unparalleled medical facilities. They proposed designing a hospital ship that was capable of handling a planet-spanning medical crisis. As meritorious as this idea was, Borun and the other half of the design team wanted to remain true to Tern’s tactical carrier concept. For weeks, the two camps battled it out as to which design they would ultimately give to the Galactic Fleet. In the end, they decided to develop both designs and let the Galactic Fleet decide which one they wanted to build. The Galactic Fleet spent a full month, Earth Standard Time Scale, to decide. They ultimately decided that both designs had value. In the end, they authorized the construction of both ships.
After the Galactic Fleet approved the building of Borun’s two different ship designs, the Atlantis Project officially began. Borun and his team presented Galactic Fleet Command with two preliminary prototypes that were in essence broad ideas. Now they had to develop their broad ideas into functional starships. The precise design work began with simulations. Borun’s team used simulations to determine the best equipment their design needed. Since their tactical carrier and hospital ship prototypes were essentially the same ship with minor differences in equipment, they ran simulations on only one ship. Their initial prototypes were little more than theoretical models meant to sell Fleet Command on the design. They began with simulating the ships with different combinations of engines and reactors. In running these simulations, Borun’s team drew heavily on Tern’s original research. As they dug into Tern’s research, they found that she spent nearly six months aboard the U.S.S. Jupiter, the legendary dreadnought that was said to have led the Galactic Fleet to victory in the Incirrata War. She was particularly interested in the Jupiter’s drive section. Referred to as a “Cone Drive” because of its cone-like shape, the Jupiter’s drive was designed by the Elnore engineer Doctor Sturien Gil’Daren. The Jupiter was actually one of the first collaborative efforts in building a starship. However most of the Jupiter was built by Earth’s Key West Shipyard. Doctor Gil’Daren only designed and built the Jupiter’s drive. He had little else to do with the project. Upon learning this, Borun’s team contacted Dr. Gil’Daren, and offered to hire him to work on the Atlantis Project. Doctor Gil’Daren was more than willing to work on the Atlantis Project, but only under the condition that Borun supplement their team with engineers from the Ageron Combine to aid in designing and building the ship’s facilities. With the addition of the grays, Borun’s team was also able to hire the arms workshop of the legendary shrive Weapon Master Bandanar Darus. With the shrive’s greatest living weapons master working on the Atlantis Project, Borun’s team was confident that they could make Tern’s tactical carrier idea a reality.
Doctor Gil’Daren began designing a drive system for the Atlantis-class and Pasteur-class prototypes. Drawing upon the design he created for the Jupiter, Doctor Gil’Daren designed a dual cone drive design. Since Borun’s prototype had drawn heavily on the ancient science fiction franchise known as “Star Trek” for much of the ship’s look and technology, the ship’s faster than light drives were positioned at the aft ends of the design’s outrigger hulls. Doctor Gil’Daren replaced Borun’s Star Trek-styled warp drive with his cone drive designs. However, the Atlantis-class provided Doctor Gil’Daren with an opportunity to improve on the cone drive. Borun had designed the Atlantis-class with ion impulse drives on the central hull and FTL drives on the outrigger hulls. Doctor Gil’Daren kept this configuration as it was. Removing the sub-light drives to a separate location on the ship freed more space in the cone drives for a slightly larger FTL drive. Gil’Daren’s simulations showed that his design gave the Atlantis-class a much greater red-line range. The “red-line” is the distance that a starship can safely travel with a single hyperjump. Traveling via hyperspace requires precise calculations. If a starship tries to travel further than it’s designed “red-line” limit, it runs the risk of calculation errors causing it to impact a solid object or fly into a star. This is the purpose for the red-line limit. While a hyperdrive is fully capable of jumping anywhere in the galaxy, the risk of hitting a navigational hazard exponentially increases the farther a ship tries to jump. Doctor Gil’Daren’s separated sub-light and FTL drives gave the proposed Atlantis-class a red-line limit of 600 light years, where the average starship’s red-line limit is 400 light years.
During this initial development stage, Borun’s team brought in a team of medical advisors and equipment engineers from the Ageron Combine to help develop the medical facilities of the Pasteur-Class, medical variant of the Atlantis-class. The Grays immediately looked at the design and required that the outrigger hulls be widened to accommodate the wide variety of equipment and facilities that the proposed hospital ship would need to carry. Despite the fact that the Pasteur-class was intended to be a military hospital ship, the Grays insisted that the design be fully equipped, making it more like a civilian hospital. The Grays anticipated the ships of the Pasteur-class being called upon to handle many civilian medical crises. Thus, the Pasteur-class had to be equipped to handle any conceivable medical procedure. The size of the class also made it possible to equip the ship with extensive medical research facilities. The only real conflict the Grays had with Borun’s team was over including weapon systems in the Pasteur-class. The Grays insisted that a medical ship be entirely unarmed. Hospital ships were lifesaving units, and therefore had no business carrying weapons. Borun’s team argued that the primary mission of the Pasteur-class might call for her to enter dangerous territory, which would put her in harm’s way. Borun felt that the Pasteur-class would need to carry a full complement of weapon systems comparable to the Atlantis-class. In the end, Borun and the Grays compromised. The Grays agreed to include weapon systems aboard the Pasteur-class, and Borun agreed to reduce the weapons designs to defensive weapons only. The removal of the heavier, offensive weapon systems gave room for additional medical and research facilities. Of one point of contention with the design was whether or not to retain the landing decks on the outrigger hulls. It was thought that during times of extreme medical emergencies, the landing decks could accept additional medical transports, thus tripling the design’s triage capabilities. Borun argued that retaining the landing decks would require removing some of the hospital facilities to accommodate at least a rudimentary hangar deck. Borun felt that the main spaceport facility in the aft of the central hull would be more than enough to handle all triage activities. To compromise, Borun allowed the Grays to modify some of the ship’s spaceport facilities into emergency medical aid stations. The purpose of this was to increase the efficiency of triage. The Grays knew that during extreme medical emergencies, some casualties would not be able to wait until they could reach the appropriate care facilities they would need. The aid stations around the recovery and shuttle decks would perform emergency procedures that were absolutely needed for the saving of lives.
It was while the grays were developing the medical facilities for the Pasteur-class that the team began to consider other possibilities for the Atlantis and Pasteur-class designs. The increase in the size of the outrigger hulls gave Borun the idea for an armed sub-class for the Atlantis-class. Borun took the larger outrigger hulls of the Pasteur-class and added them to the Atlantis-class, but retained the weapon systems and fighter launch/recovery/maintenance facilities. The larger outrigger hulls allowed rooms for additional living space, research facilities, and fabrication and cargo facilities. Additional modifications to the central hull were made adding facilities to handle the additional crew that this new design could carry. Borun called this new sub-class the Odyssey-class. He intended this sub-class to be primarily an exploratory vessel. Borun intended for this Odyssey-class to be even more self-sufficient than the Atlantis-class. It was meant to go out into uncharted space and explore. Because of this, Odyssey-class ships would be far from Fleet Facilities. This meant that they had to be as self-sufficient as possible. The ship even had to be able to repair any kind of damage on its own, up to and including rebuilding her own facilities. Borun anticipated having to design a full battle group of new ships to support this exploratory design. Borun designed this exploratory vessel on the side, shelving the idea for further development after the Atlantis was built.
In the meantime, development of the Atlantis-class stormed merrily on. The Atlantis-class would be a curious mix of an aircraft carrier and a dreadnought. The design Borun’s team had settled on was larger than anything that the Galactic Fleet had previously built, even the legendary U.S.S Jupiter. As large as the Atlantis would be, Borun found the ship was large enough that she could carry the facilities of a small space station. The Galactic Fleet was doubtless going to permit civilians aboard the class, just as they did with Galactic Fleet space stations and bases. This meant the Atlantis-class and all her sub-classes would need an onboard infrastructure that would support the needs and desires of a possible civilian population in residence aboard. To this end, Borun took the systems one by one and custom designed the system to fit the design. He had already designed the ship’s basic systems: power, life support, gravity, etc. Now, he was designing the other facilities. The size of the Atlantis-class and all her sub-classes meant that the ships would boast crew quarters that were larger than other ships in the fleet. Borun found he had enough space to design crew quarter modules that would have been just perfect aboard a space station. It’s size also meant that the Atlantis-class and all her sub-classes would need more than just the traditional single mess deck found on other fleet starships. The size of the class also meant that Borun could include an officers club and all hands club, and still be able to include surprisingly extensive recreation facilities. Ship’s facilities also included an extensive shipboard entertainment department with video, holographic, interactive, and printed forms of entertainment. Much to the surprise of the team, Borun included a shipboard shopping complex large enough that to be considered a shopping mall.
Weapon Master Bandanar Darus was delighted to be hired for the Atlantis Project. The prospect of designing a weapons array for a starship as massive as the Atlantis-class was something absolutely could not refuse. At the start, Master Darus simply met with Borun and threw ideas at him for different types of weapons the ship carry. The only restriction Borun placed on Master Darus was that the ship could not have large gun turrets mounted on her. Master Darus worked for weeks to design weapons. Ultimately, he designed a network of torpedo tubes capable of firing a wide variety of ordnance. He complimented this with an array of offensive particle beam cannons. He specially designed a new type of high powered mass driver cannon that he called the “Critical Mass Cannon”. Like the torpedo tubes, the mass driver cannon could fire a wide variety mass driver shells. Of course, he included the usual network of point defense guns. However, Master Darus’ crowning achievement was his invention of a new type of weapon called the “Shield Beam”. This unusual new weapon used the ship’s own deflector system to generate and fire a high-density energy projectile. This weapon required a redesign of the ship’s deflector shield array. Where Borun had designed a standard deflector shield array, Master Darus’ Shield Beam required additional power in order to fire, while still providing the full protection for the rest of the ship. To add an additional level of protection, Master Darus designed an ablative armor system that used dedicated matter fabrication systems to create a layer of armor on the outer hull of the ship. While Master Darus denied drawing inspiration for the idea from Star Trek, few people believed him.
When the time came to begin building the ships of the Atlantis Project, the Galactic Fleet asked for bids on the contract. Three major shipyards put in bids for the contract: Thrandall Shipwrights of Elnore Prime, Master Shipbuilders of Simmal, and the Key West Shipyard of Earth. The contract for constructing the first Atlantis and Pasteur-class starships went to the Key West Shipyard, the same shipyard that built the U.S.S. Jupiter. At his first meeting with the shipwrights of Key West, Borun insisted that they hire Rill Simma Shipfitters for the Atlantis Project. The Key West Shipyard objected, saying that they had their own shipfitters. Borun explained to them that there was a labor dispute between the Master Shipbuilders of Simmal and the Rill Shipfitters Union. This dispute had caused the Union to strike, putting thousands of Rill Simma Shipfitters out of work. Borun stated that he wanted to hire them to help provide them with employment. Key West Shipyard grudgingly agreed to hire Rill Simma Shipfitters. However, when they put out a call for Rill Simma Shipfitters, they found out that the labor dispute had been resolved. Therefore, Borun only got ten thousand Rill Simma Shipfitters, less than half of the twenty-five thousand he had hoped for. However, the Key West Shipyard was able to convince Borun to fill out the required twenty-five thousand by hiring from the gorilla population of the Smart Apes, Earth born cousins of the Simma. The majority of Earth gorilla shipfitters were trained by Simma Shipfitters. With this, construction began on the first starship of the Atlantis Project.
On October 23rd, 2159, the Galactic Fleet held the keel laying ceremony for the first ship of the Atlantis Project. Starships do not use a keel like their ocean-going ancestors, but shipbuilders continue to hold a keel laying ceremony to celebrate the beginning of construction of a new ship. The ceremony was attended by a host of important people and celebrities. In attendance were delegations of High Elders from Simmal, as well as representatives of the Earth’s World Smart Ape Congress. Also in attendance were representatives from the Supreme Council of the Galactic Alliance. Most important were the Chiefs of Staff of the Galactic Fleet Command. Though the ceremony had a great deal of speech making, orating, and pomp and circumstance, ultimately the ceremony involved a crowd of VIP’s gathering together to watch the shipyard’s construction robots fuse the first components together. Two months later, the same group of VIPs attended the keel laying ceremony for the first of the Atlantis Project’s medical sub-class ships.
With the hiring of Rill Simma and Earth Gorilla shipfitters, the Key West Shipyard was introduced to the Simma Shipbuilders’ method of building starships. Called “Total Integration Shipbuilding”, the method involved the fitting out the ship during construction, rather than after the hull was constructed. The bulk of the construction work was handled by construction robots and fabrication drones, which were mobile fabrication plants with robotic brains. These construction robots all performed their construction tasks based on schematic of the ship being constructed. The fabrication drones used the schematic and the construction schedule to compile a list of parts to fabricate and when the parts were needed. The construction drones used the schematic to know what parts were needed and where the parts were to be installed. While the construction robots were building the ship, the Rill Simma and Gorilla shipfitters worked at a nearby offsite fabrication and construction “fitting shop” to fabricate and construct all the ship’s fittings and internal compartments. The Galactic Fleet had long ago adopted a system of modular construction to speed up construction. And though the Atlantis Project called for entirely new internal compartment modules, the majority of shipyards fabricated and constructed modules onsite. Like the construction robots, the shipfitters worked off a list of required modules that had to be build. As each module was constructed, they passed the modules off to the construction robots for installation.
On July 17th, 2161, two years after construction began on the first ship of the Atlantis Project, the Key West Shipyard held a christening ceremony for the new starship. Many of the celebrities, politicians, and military brass that attended the keel laying ceremony also attended the christening ceremony. After the same pomp and circumstance, orating and speech making, popular actress, sex symbol, and avid Galactic Fleet supporter, Tanya Orlov, also known as Tantalizing Tanya, threw a bottle of champagne at the new ship, officially christening it the U.S.S. Atlantis. A few weeks later, on August 29th, the same group of VIP’s, celebrities, military brass, and politicians gathered again at Key West Shipyard, where Tantalizing Tanya yet again threw a bottle of champagne at a new starship. This time, she was officially christening the U.S.S. Pasteur.
Following her christening, the Atlantis departed the dry dock at Key West Shipyard. This marked the beginning of her shakedown cruise, also known as “Space Trials” in fleet parlance. For the purposes of her space trials, the Galactic Fleet assigned Zetabot Captain GU-B3R, alias “Goober”, as the commanding officer of the Atlantis. Upon departing Earth, the Atlantis traveled to the nearby Vega Star System, where the Galactic Fleet operates a starship “shooting range”. For two weeks, the Atlantis cruised the Vega Weapons Range, systematically testing each and every one of her weapons. She began by testing her point defense guns, one by one, against automated target drones. Again, and again, automated target drones were launched, and made mock attacks at each of the Atlantis’ point defense guns. Each drone was destroyed with pinpoint accuracy. After testing the point defense guns, the shakedown crew moved onto the Atlantis’ arrays of particle beam cannons. Using the system’s vast debris plane as targets, the Atlantis systematically tested her particle beam cannons, one by one, at various ranges, and settings. The torpedo tubes followed the particle beam cannons. The torpedo tubes were tested with low yield “test torpedoes”. The first tests were simply to establish that the torpedo tubes loaded a torpedo, uploaded its telemetry data, and fired it. Following the initial tests, the torpedo tubes were linked to the ship’s fire control systems, and tests of accuracy and range were conducted. Some defects were found, and adjustments were made. Test torpedoes were the only ordnance used for tests, as the test were meant to test the functionality of the torpedo tubes and their link to the ship’s fire control system. It was not necessary to use any stronger torpedoes as the functionality of the torpedo warheads had NO bearing on the functionality of the torpedo tubes. And following the tests of the torpedo tubes, the Atlantis’ mighty mass driver cannons were tested. For the purposes testing the functionality of the mass driver cannons, the Atlantis shakedown crew fired solid metal projectiles at debris plane objects. Where other weapons had minor bugs and defects that needed to be adjusted, surprisingly the mass driver cannons functioned perfectly from the first test fire. The last weapon tested was the Atlantis’ phenomenal Shield Beam. The shield beam was a weapon that no one had ever seen before, let alone fired. When it came time to test fire the shield beam, no one even knew whether the system would function at all. Much to the shakedown crew’s surprise, the shield beam not only functioned, it functioned as designed, and fired with enough power to vaporize the small planetoid it was fired at.
While the weapons systems were being tested, the ship’s fighter launch tubes were tested as well. Each outrigger hull had more than fifty launch tubes, each of which had to be individually tested, and evaluated for bugs in the system, and defects in the hardware. To conduct the tests, the crew used a specially designed test drone that was initially launched by Red Kite 40 at a distance from the Atlantis. The drone flew in on a standard approach vector, was caught by the landing bay tractor beams, and directed the lift pad for the first launch tube. Testing the launch tube meant testing the entire fighter handling system for that tube. As the crew watched, the test drone was lowered into the hangar bay, and held as the launch tube was opened. The drone was loaded into the launch tube, the tube charged, and the drone launched. After each launch, the crew scanned every square inch of the launch tubes, using scanner drones. Each launch highlighted defects in the system that had to be adjusted. This meant that each launch tube was fired again and again until every last bug and defect was corrected, and the tube fired without any problems. They knew the Galactic Fleet would never trust a launch tube with the life of a fighter pilot until it was proven to function well within the Fleet’s strict standards. However, testing each and every one of the Atlantis’ launch tube would ultimately take the entire shakedown cruise to complete.
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