Dragonstar: The Serpent's Teardrop
The Mithral Star
The fore and aft of the vessel, massive cathedral-like structures with launch bays and batteries hidden between arches, contain some fifteen hundred crew members and almost 100 battle-ready starfighters/support ships (eight flights of 12). The central asteroid section is mostly hollow, the rock magically formed into a vast underground city provided sustenance by ingenious recycling and maintenance plants embedded in the rock. On the underside of the asteroid is an immense chasm used to capture other interstellar debris that the dwarves of the city can strip or mine.
The Mithral Star is close to a millenium old, christened after the Imperial RES installed an astral drive web throughout the asteroid home known to its inhabitants simply as “The City of the Rock.” Three hundred years later the Golion dreadnought Clouded Judgment was grafted to the rock instead of being decommissioned, providing the city-ship with greater defensive capabilities and further amenities for operation at peak performance. Now akin to a dark cathedral emerging from the battered asteroid the gargantuan vessel glides silently between the stars and between astral and realspace.
The Golion division of the Royal Exploratory Service has in its service the colossal city-ship Mithral Star. This behemoth was built around an asteroid that had been magically shaped by dwarves to contain an immense city, home to over 10,000 souls. The dwarves have also mined a vein of mithral in the asteroid and have the facilities to distill it into a pure liquid form. While the gargantuan ship operates on an astral drive (which does not need the liquid metal to perform), the mithral is a valuable commodity and able to fully supply the starcasters of the Mithral Star’s support fleet. However, although they are aligned with Golion and agreeable to the crew of the ship, the dwarves are from a clannish breed who’s home world was destroyed in the great galactic war. As a result, their methods and magic are a closely guarded secret and they maintain fierce control of the asteroid and its contents. Seen rarely outside the “rock,” they’re recognized by their cowled robes and their forearms and hands that are encased in a pliable, rune encrusted mithral.
The actual vessel Mithral Star was constructed around the dwarves’ asteroid as a part of a mutually beneficial agreement with the Royal Exploratory Service almost a thousand years ago. The initial blueprint was minimal, a command deck and an astral drive network fed through the outer skin of rock. Eventually, as the ship’s importance increased, a fully functioning dreadnought class warship that was to be decommissioned was instead retrofitted and grafted around the asteroid. The result is a rather ugly though effective amalgamation, the bristling spires of the ship jutting fore, aft, and starboard of the asteroid, hugging it like a possessive cathedral.
The dwarves agreement with the domain of Golion is such that the protection offered by the copper fleet and the ability for the asteroid to move through trading markets is offset by command of the vessel ostensibly resting in the claws of the RES. The ship’s commander is the copper half-dragon Alsir (dubbed Admiral as he also commands the Mithral Star’s support fleet).
The resources assigned to the Mithral Star represent the import accorded its mission. It is often escorted by one or two heavily armed destroyers, the differences in astral drive and starcasters occasionally forcing the warships to perform other duties while waiting for their mother-ship to arrive. Top of the line star-fighters, mechs, jet bikes, and interceptors fill the Mithral Star’s launch bays, while the asteroid and the ship itself boast many dwarven-crafted gun emplacements. Its less aggressive complement includes a few small freighters, some retrofitted for scientific or exploratory duties, and the support vessels for the asteroid city it is built around. While it can’t compete with the production and trading capabilities of an Anvil-Class dwarven factory ship, it is as self-sufficient as it can be for its size.
Ostensibly the purpose of the Mithral Star is the exploration of the rim-ward edge of the Dragon Empire for the RES, but controlling factions from the Kingdom of Golion keep the ship focused on the Serpent’s Teardrop, both to combat the advances of Altara and also to watch the Dark Nebula. While many consider these objectives exclusively military in style, the ship is too great of a resource to relegate to war alone. Scientists and wizards study stellar phenomena, negotiators and traders build House Golion’s wealth and influence, intrepid explorers push back the darkness, and passengers of every race and vocation travel for countless reasons.
Admiral Alsir has also created a special operations unit which he has provided with a re-purposed and armed freighter. The intent of this “unit” is that they perform missions their massive mother-ship cannot take the time nor the risk to follow up. These adventures may include the retrieval of dangerous technology or magic, the exploration of undiscovered worlds, negotiations with newly found species, spec-ops missions within Altara space, defense of the teardrop and Golion from Altara, and defense of the Empire from the evil within the Dark Nebula. They may even be forced to quell dissent or investigate mysteries on their mother-ship, carry dangerous items through the Long Road or the Outlands Stations, or possibly challenge the ISPD and the corrupt rule of Mezzenbone himself!
The Dragon Empire is so incredibly vast that the array of persons that seek assignment with the Royal Exploratory Service is nearly incalculable. Although it has been found that many species are repeated across countless worlds, there are subspecies, mutations and variations that only add to the confusion. Alongside the ubiquitous humans, common species include elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, orcs, and drow. Slightly less common are the extremely slender fraal, the winged seshayan, the lizard-like t’sa, or the brutish weren. And, in an almost limitless galaxy, even rare species like half-dragons, faeries, centaurs, anthropomorphs, doppelgangers and half-demons can be found in the RES. Evolution or experimentation have adapted some of these species even further. The mechalus are an entire subspecies of humanoid that have become a synthesis of flesh and circuitry. Soulmechs are robotic constructs animated and controlled by a deceased spirit. And each species is subject to other twists; some are amphibious or aquatic, some from low-G or high-G worlds, some adapted to worlds of darkness, others to arctic conditions or life under burning suns. Some have even taken the next step and hardened themselves to life, unprotected, in the vacuum of space.
The RES Training Academy is conveniently located on the throne world Meneer of Golion. As a result the Mithral Star has access to some of the most gifted graduates, generally rangers and scientists, although the ulterior motives of Admiral Alsir often challenge the logical choices. He is far more willing to recruit a barbarian from the far reaches of the Outlands if that recruit’s moral and political bent aligns with his own. Again, the vastness of the Dragon Empire and the prestige associated with serving on a ship like the Mithral Star give Alsir a huge field of potential candidates. Freshly conquered primitive worlds provide adventurers, warriors, and magicians willing to learn quickly of the galaxy around them. Alsir doesn’t seem too concerned if paladins or clerics he recruits are of the Unification, Dualist, or primitive belief systems (although he avoids obviously evil practitioners). Wizards, sorcerers, and elementalists, whether from the academy on the cloud city of Vespar or elsewhere, are highly coveted, though they must now share some of their prestige with scientists, engineers, and programmers. Mechanists and pilots obviously support the fleet and technical necessities of the Mithral Star, while hackers, thieves and other rogues have even found gainful employ so long as they keep Alsir’s motives and goals in mind. Amongst the Mithral Star’s more elite crew are the House nobles and traders, technomancers, psychics, trailblazers, arcane commandos, infowarriors, shadowdancers, and Imperial legionnaires.