System Control Ship
Image from Steve Bowers
System Control Ships were large warships developed in the First Federation period to maintain ideological consistency within colonies and occasionally on an interstellar scale.

Before the invention of the traversable wormhole, early empires like the First Federation, the Eridanus League and the Doran Empire were faced with the problem of enforcing their will on distant worlds, either within a particular system or in nearby subordinate colonies.

The result was the System Control Ship. A self-contained city and garrison, these mighty vessels were huge (length 500 to 800 meters, mass up to 2 million tonnes), astonishingly expensive, very heavily armed and defended, fusion or antimatter-catalysed warships, crewed by a complement of warbots, modosophont specialists and sometimes commanded by a basic transapient.

These ships were accelerated by powerful boostbeams and decelerated by magbrake, largely self-repairing using automatic fab systems and onboard utility drones, and capable of extended and prolonged independent operations across interstellar distances over many decades at a time. The modosophont crew would travel in cryopreservation, and only revived when needed. Only a few dozen system control ships were ever built, and only then by those empires with a strong enough industrial and economic base to be able to support such a burden. Nevertheless, the System Control Ship was a source of tremendous factional pride.

The development of Reactionless Drives by transapient entities rendered these hulking behemoths near-obsolete almost overnight, and the invention of the StarGate meant that smaller, cheaper, more specialized vessels could easily be moved to any location very quickly. Nevertheless, many old System Control Ships continued to be used in reserve duties, for long-range fire support and as mobile fortresses, and for showing the flag at low and middle tech systems, for centuries to come.

With the rise of unpredictable new powers in the Outer Volumes, there has been a resurgence of interest in the System Control Ship among a number of peripheral powers, most often well outside the reach of the Wormhole Nexus. Modern SCS craft use Conversion Drive propulsion as a minimum requirement.

The most enthusiastic proponent of this type of vessel however is the Laughter Hegemony. They use them as garrisons and network nodes in systems not yet fully integrated into the Hegemony, and them moving them to new systems while leaving the administration behind.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 31 December 2001.