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"The galaxy is a dangerous place, and one cannot always rely on the authorities to be in the right place at the right time. This being the case, many planetary governments have created small planetary defense militias, and the Rautherion Lightning is the backbone of such organizations. It falls somewhere between a fighter and a gunboat, and is versatile enough to take on the many roles required of such a craft." - purchasing a Lightning
The Lightning was one of my favorite ships from Ambrosia Software's game Escape Velocity Nova. My own interpretation is a compact, versatile craft that's a bit overpowered for its size. It is armed with six cannons at the wing tips, as well as six missile tubes, each housing one or two missiles, depending on the size. The ship houses a powerful reactor, providing ample power for its shields and engines, making it sturdy, fast and agile. However, since the reactor is somewhat overscaled for a ship of this size, it produces a lot of heat, which is constantly radiated into space by radiators located around the Lightning's utility pods. This creates a rather large heat signature for a ship of this size.
Here's a cinematic shot:
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