Serpentine class warships are the current generation of combat spacecraft of the Pentagon Protectorate, used in both defensive and offensive missions. While having subpar firepower against enemy ships and no planetary bombardment abilities at all, the design makes up for it with its exceptional mobility and resilience.
Due to the rate of technological advance of the Pentagon Protectorate, the original Salamander class warships soon became obsolete. In 2519, Protectorate designers were tasked with creation of a new, improved ship design to handle the requirements of the new age. They came up with an ambitious design, combining the advantage of the quick but fragile Salamander warships with new design philosophies to create a warship never seen before.
During their lifetime, the Serpentine class ships were constantly updated with the newest technologies devised by the Protectorate. However, by 2600, the ships became to show their age, and the Pentagon scientists began searching for a replacement. As of now, multiple research programs are running at full rate, but nothing past a few prototypes was actually produced. As such, the Serpentine class can still be expected to be seen in active service.
The main advantage of the Serpentine class lies in the technologies used in the construction, as well as the innovative layout itself.
Serpentine class ships are 680 meters long and 210 meters wide and high. The main difference to other ships lies in its multiple hull layout - the ship consists of a rectangular core hull surrounded on four sides by the outer hulls. Each of the hulls spans the entire lenght of the ship and one third of its width and height (70 m). The core hull contains the bridge, engineering section, and a hafnium reactor with fuel, a fixed magnetoplasmadynamic thruster also with fuel and also serves to carry energy from the generator to the rest of the ship. Each of the outer hulls contain a weapon station, a quarter of all weapons mounted, life support, a cargo bay, crew quarters, an airlock and a vectorable inertial containment fusion thruster, also with fuel.
Such layout greatly increases the survivability of the ship, as it means each critical system is either quadruple redudant or buried deep in the hull. This allows the ship to be mostly operational even after suffering heavy damage. In theory, the ship should be operational even with three of the outer hulls fully destroyed, but this remains unconfirmed.
Being built from the nanorefined materials produced by the Protectorate, the design is quite light, wich gives the ships good speed and agility when coupled with the fusion vectoring thrusters.
The main weapon system of the ships are four particle cannons, each placed in the front of one of the outer hulls. Due to the core hull blocking the line of sight from the cannons, all four weapons can fire on a single target only if it is in a 40 degrees angle from the front of the ship. However, at least one of the cannons always covers all the space around a ship, except the angle directly behind its rear. The cannons are powerful but short ranged, forcing the Serpentine ships to get close in before using them.
Secondary armament consists of Alamo stealth missiles launched from the 24 ELMAG hybrid guns carried by the ship. The missiles are launched in salvos and used to soften up enemies from distance before swooping in to finish the target with the particle cannons.
The Serpentine class depends mostly on active protection systems to defend itself. Protection from small craft and heavy missiles is managed by the 24 ELMAG guns when the shell ammunition is used. High speed targets are usually picked out by the 56 AMD laser turrets. This gives the ship the ability to successfuly protect itself against incoming projectiles and partially even against high-speed threats such as railgun/gauss and plasma shots.
Should any enemy fire hit its mark, the ship is protected by 70 centimeters of the Tanarital armor. The low thickness of the plate is counterbalanced by its superior strenght, and allows it to remain light and leave plenty of the interior space free. The walls between outer hulls and the core hull are armored with 20 more centimeters of Tanarital. The craft also sports Steel-40 Whipple shielding to further protect against kinetic projectiles such as asteroids or shells.
The bow of the ship also contains a bulkhead in both the core hull as well as in each of the outer hulls. This serves both to protect the particle cannons located behind and to give the ship additional protection in the forward arc. This is useful as the main armament also points forward; combined with the much smaller frontal profile as compared to sides, it makes the ship especially suited to head on attacks.
Vital systems are Faraday-caged to prevent them from shutting down in case of an EMP attack. The rest of equipment is fitted with Shutdown And Recovery systems (commonly abbreviated S&R in the Protectorate fleets) to prevent damage through electrostatic discharge.
Being built for the genetically modified people of the Pentagon Protectorate, the ship needs smaller crew quarters and less life support. The total weight savings make up almost 15% of the weight and bulk of all crew amenities, allowing them to be taken up by other systems. The ship would also be incapable of supporting larger forms of life.
Each Serpentine class ship carries a sensor suite consisting of three parts: active sensors, passive sensors and the gravitomagnetic sensor. Active sensors are effective at short distances and provide very accurate data about the surroundings. However, active sensors also generate lots of signal wich can be picked up by enemy ships. They can be shut down to greatly reduce the chance of being detected, however doing so also greatly limits the data acquired and thus it's done rarely.
Passive sensors are useful up to medium distances, but the quality of information is much lower than that given by active sensors and is highly dependant on the emissions of the target such as waste hea, radio transmissions or active scanning.
The gravitomagnetic sensor is technically passive, but practical reasons prevent grouping it with other passive sensors. Gravitomagnetics detect mass, and as such they are nearly impossible to hide from, but suffer from this by great inaccuracy and the ability to only give basic data. The sensor has no way of differentiating between a huge fleet of ships and a planet, and smaller ships might not appear at all due to being filtered out as background noise. The sensor is useful at long and medium ranges, the mass of the ship itself scrambles the signal when trying to scan at close range.