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SEARCH COMPLETE: AUGUST 19, 2406
photo by Adam Kopala
H/V Phoenix Queen
The last creation of a reclusive and eccentric master shipwright, the Phoenix Queen represents a pinnacle of 24th-century small starship design and technology; she is as much a work of art as a working space vehicle. Aficionados of the 23rd-and-24th-century custom light starship craft movement refer to her as "the Red Ghost" or "the Last Stradivarius".
Name/Model: PQ9-class custom spaceframe
Manufacturer: Gorō Muramune
Combat designation: Long-range corvette
Entered service: 2345
Crew: Up to 5
Passengers: Up to 9, depending on crew complement
Length: 288 ft 9 in
Wingspan: 216 ft 6 in
Mass: 1.25 kt
Power system: ExoSalusia Heavy Industries Mod 44 Mk II antimatter annihilation reactor, J-228B fusion reactor, and Type 24 energy converter stack
Propulsion system: 2x General Atomics Thrustline-144 fusion impulse thrusters
2x General Atomics Thrustline-124 fusion impulse thrusters
Speed rating: 150 MGLT
Flight control system: Custom
Maneuver rating: 110 DPF
Navigation: Radekon Advanced Technology Trajectrak 17 superluminal computer core
FTL: Custom-built Cochrane space distortion drive system
Warp speed rating (cruise): Warp Factor 10
Warp speed rating (flank): Warp Factor 15.5
Secondary FTL: Corellian Engineering Corporation 2240.109d hyperspace motivator drive unit
Hyperdrive rating: 1.5
Shields: Custom-built multicore projection deflector shield system
Shield rating: 325 SBD
Armor: Composite-reinforced tritanium alloy plating
Armor rating: 275 RU
Fixed armaments: 2x custom-built point phaser arrays
4x Taim & Bak KX5 blaster cannons
Expendable armaments: 2x custom-built compact flexible-payload missile tubes
The Phoenix Queen began her career as Platform Q9, the last spaceframe to be constructed in the automated workshop of the brilliant Gorō Muramune (2202-2345), one of the last of the independent shipwrights who once flourished at the fringes of settled space. Muramune was famed for most of the 23rd century and into the 24th for the elegance, beauty, and deadly efficiency of his designs. Unlike many of his peers, he scorned the criminal underbelly of the spacer community and refused to sell his creations to smugglers, bounty hunter-assassins, or any of the other well-heeled but morally questionable figures who plied the distant spacelanes then as now. He once remarked that it was a point of pride with him that he had never built a ship that could carry any appreciable amount of cargo.
Instead, Muramune's creations were bought by elite couriers, diplomatic services, and more than one royal court around the galaxy. Salusia's House Arconian and the elected monarchy of the Outer Rim planet Naboo were both among his customers. A much-repeated legend of the time claimed that Maximilien Largo, the virtually all-powerful Master of GENOM Corporation, approached Muramune in 2290, when that corporation was consolidating its galactic hegemony in the wake of the Wedge Defense Force's fall, and tried to commission a personal yacht from him - to be turned down flat. It's said Muramune survived the encounter because, humiliated though he was by the outright snub, even Largo could not bring himself to order harm to such an artist.
Whether that story is true or not, Muramune certainly survived 2290. He cut off all contact between the outside galaxy and his hidden workshop in 2322, on his 120th birthday, and was never seen nor heard from again. Eventually his name was forgotten by all but a handful of diehard enthusiasts and spaceship historians.
Which is why few people noticed when, 23 years later, a brand-new Muramune suddenly appeared on the galactic starship registry rolls. When someone finally did spot the new record, those few remaining who knew what it implied assumed that it was some sort of hoax - some new shipwright passing off his work as that of the master. One of these people sought out the newly registered hull, which went under the name of Phoenix Queen, to demand of her captain-of-record an explanation.
That captain, a young woman from Karafuto named Sarah Inazuma, provided authentication of the ship's provenance in the form of certain deep encodings in her FTL ROM clusters, along with various identifying flourishes characteristic of the master's work. She declined, however, to explain where she had acquired the vessel, nor why such a long time had passed between Muramune's disappearance and the Phoenix Queen's arrival on the scene. She deflected all inquiries politely but very firmly, and subsequent investigations turned up nothing.
Inazuma - sometimes alone, sometimes with a small crew of hand-picked associates - would go on to have a long and storied career as an independent spacer, working as a courier, surveyor, scout, and occasional privateer from 2345 to 2390, when - much like her ship's legendary creator - she abruptly and mysteriously retired. Command of the Phoenix Queen passed to her daughter, also called Sarah, who continues to operate the vessel in much the same manner.
The Phoenix Queen is the last, and by many estimations the finest, creation of one of the greatest small-ship builders of the 23rd century. Since she was always intended to be unique, she is the fullest expression of the small-shipwright's art. All of the technologies incorporated into her fabric were either scratch-built by a master craftsman from the finest available materials, or represented the very highest state of the art that could be sourced at the time, customized and optimized by the same master.
The result is a vessel that, six decades after her launching, is still one of the most capable starships in her class, and still seems advanced - even futuristic - to modern eyes. Her sublight drives are more powerful than those found in many mass-production starships twice her size, and she's capable of warp speeds which are said to rival those of the International Police Organization's cutting-edge Next Generation Warship classes. Even her secondary FTL system, despite being a mere backup, has a lower elapsed-time rating than the primary hyperdrives fitted to modern light freighters, and despite her corvette size, she's more maneuverable than many heavy starfighters.
This speed and agility hasn't come at an appreciable cost in fragility, either. The exact composition of the Phoenix Queen's armor plating is unknown - Muramune was famously cagey about such things - but during the vessel's service under contract to the Wedge Defense Force in the 2388-2390 Corporate War and its aftermath, it was seen to withstand punishment that would have sent many comparably-sized executive transports to the scrapyard. His custom-built deflector shield generators have always been legendary for their power and reliability, and the Queen's Cochrane drive core is easily able to compensate for their equally legendary thirst for energy.
The Phoenix Queen mounts relatively few weapons. Part of her design brief was that her armed status, while not a secret, should be as discreet as possible, and bristling with unconcealed hardpoints is not compatible with that goal. The weapons with which she is equipped, though, are both surprisingly potent and exceptionally accurate. The Captains Inazuma, it seems, have both placed a high premium on skilled gunnery to compensate for a relatively low volume of firepower; in the right hands, the Queen's burst-firing phaser batteries and retractable flex-mounted blasters are capable of delivering a shattering pinpoint blow to enemies that, on paper, should outclass the ship entirely.
Like all Muramune designs, the Phoenix Queen is designed so that she can be operated by a single person if necessary, but her command and control systems are configured for maximum combat efficiency with a crew of five: pilot/commander, copilot/weapons officer, engineer/navigator, and two gunners for the blaster batteries. Over the decades, the ship's crew complement has varied considerably. At times in their careers, both Captains Inazuma have worked alone, and at others, have employed crews of up to six or seven.
Aside from her combat capabilities and interstellar speed, the Queen is equipped with a powerful sensor package intended to support the ship's true primary mission, that of a survey and scout vessel. Her brief and intermittent tenures as a hired warship have been secondary to this occupation, which she has performed under contract to the Federation Celestial Survey Bureau and Salusia's Royal Astrographic Society as well as numerous smaller local system governments over the years.
Advanced, powerful, discreetly glamorous, and with a crew space built as much for comfort and aesthetic appeal as for practical considerations, the Phoenix Queen arguably remains the finest vessel of her kind today, 61 years after she was launched. Absolutely no expense or time was spared in making this vessel the best she could be, and that huge investment has shown its worth in the ship's longevity, utility, and elegance. Some have theorized that Muramune fully intended Platform Q9 to be his last creation from the beginning of the project, and that this knowledge spurred him to lavish even more care and resources on the vessel than any of the 612 other known products of his hidden workshop (none of which can be said to have been skimped on in those regards) - making the Phoenix Queen the last will and testament not only of a man, but also of a crafting movement that more or less died with him.
Most of the Phoenix Queen's perceived drawbacks stem from the same characteristics that provide her strengths: her custom construction, scratch-built systems, and the beyond-bleeding-edge hardware that made her so far ahead of her time that she's still ahead today. With so many custom-made systems crammed so tightly into her nonstandard spaceframe, she would be an absolute nightmare for any normal shipyard or deep-space station to service or repair. Similarly, no amount of regular engineering training could ever prepare anyone to serve as flight engineer aboard the Queen; anyone Captain Inazuma takes on for that job will have to be extensively and expensively trained by hand before he or she would be competent to undertake the job. Even an out-of-the-box standard astromech droid would be flummoxed by a lot of what's going on inside that sleek scarlet hull.
As such, it has long been theorized in some circles that the Inazuma family has a secret retreat somewhere - possibly even the same place in which the Phoenix Queen was originally built - where the ship is sure to receive the highly specialized attention she requires when major maintenance and repairs are needed. Dependence on a single fixed base of operations is also a significant liability, albeit one more organizational than technological, and so cannot be discounted for purposes of this analysis.
Similarly, although neither Captain Inazuma has ever cared to share her operational balance sheets with the press or public, the rates they customarily charge give some corroboration to the logical idea that such an advanced, highly specialized vessel must be expensive to operate as well as repair. She was built with cost no object, and must be maintained, fueled, and fixed in similar fashion - to the point where some analysts think even the Inazumas' high fees cannot possibly cover the expense of operating the ship. How they compensate for this, if it's true, is unknown. Perhaps their theoretical secret headquarters includes a theoretical secret dilithium mine.
Beyond those concerns, the Phoenix Queen's only significant drawback is her dependence on accurate gunnery and high burst damage to make up for her lack of sustained firepower. In a fight, she cannot afford to be drawn into a protracted slugging match; that is a type of battle at which she is not configured to succeed. Fortunately, her captains recognize that and assiduously avoid such engagements.
The Phoenix Queen remains active today under the command of the second Captain Sarah Inazuma. As of this writing, she is under contract to the FCSB to conduct a verification survey of the Attican Traverse.
End of Text Data Extract
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