Aéllr Vélrre Class Heavy cruiser
The Vélrre Class (English translation: Province Class by which it will be here after referred to as) has been the workhorse of the Aéllr Defence Fleet and the most visible symbol of the Confederations military strength. Although the class is to date not believed to have fired a shot in anger, encounters between members of the class and Battle Fleet ships are common on the frontier regions and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Provinces versus the Human Myth Class remain a firm favorite of armchair admirals.
While technically victorious(1), the end of the Contact War was catastrophic for the Aéllr Defence Fleet. Physically victorious but psychologically shattered, the exit from the Defence Force on mass by the veterans of the war stripped it of much the experience hard won in the war against humanity. The ten years following the Treaty of Mars were characterized by both a lack of manpower and political indifference to the fleet’s requests for funds as Aéllr society largely turned its back on the fleet. What funds could be sourced were expended on the new battleship program(2) and system defence boats. The cruiser fleet, which made up the bulk of the interstellar fleet was ignored. So as humanity started to develop and build its second generation of cruisers, the Defence Fleet was forced to largely make do with increasingly worn pre-war and wartime designs.
The respective discovery of the Mhar by the Aéllr and Humans at the start of the 2040s would prove the trigger for a reinvigorated Defence Force. The Aéllr sought to gain an ally on humanities right flank but in 2045 at the Treaty of the Three Planets, the collection of aged Aéllr cruisers dispatched to represent the strength of the Confederacy, were completely overshadowed by the presence of a powerful force of human warships including the brand new Battleship Fortitude. While this show of force ensured that humanity was able to present itself as an equal to the Aéllr it also proved – as the Defence Force’s leadership had been warning for years – that despite the vast difference in economic strength, the Aéllr Confederacy enjoyed no meaningful superiority in military quantity or quality. In the event of a human first strike, the Confederation might be defeated long before its vastly greater economic strength could be mustered. When Alfha Qehie was appointed to the post Fleet Senior in 2046 her first priority was to develop new generation of cruisers to both strengthen and re-invigoration of the Defence Force.
The Contact War had been largely fought within Earth’s solar system, with a human fleet of true interstellar cruiser it was anticipated in the event of a second war, the Defence Fleet would have to fight its way towards Earth. But much like in the first war, human raiding cruisers would be dispatched into Confederation space(3). Therefore while the Defence Fleet needed a platform sufficiently robust and well armed to stand in the main battleline, it also had to be small and cheap enough to be built in numbers.
Province Class over the Mhar homeworld
While a number of small test cruisers had been designed and built since the end of the Contact War, the Province Class would be the first major cruiser design since the wartime WaLivt Class Heavy Cruisers. Given the changes to military and political environment since then this experience was of limited usefulness. In addition designer were also faced with a political dimension unknown to their human counterparts. While the most virulent of the anti military sentiment of the 2030’s had faded, a pure military vessel following the human model remained politically unacceptable. The Defence Fleet decided to make virtue out of a vice and develop a hull larger than at first they intended. While all designs are by their nature compromises, much as Battle Fleet did a decade earlier with its River Class, the Aéllr realised a larger ship required fewer such compromises.
While described by some observers as revolutionary, the Provinces have proved far more evolutionary, following and refining existing Aéllr design philosophy. Given the long standing Aéllr aversion to casualties, the Provinces place a greater emphasis on ship and crew survival within a given tonnage than their human counterparts. The layout followed existing Aéllr conventions with the main armament is concentrated in the forward section. This section is also believed to house stores and auxiliary craft. The distinctive offsetting of the plasma cannon turrets allows for better firing arcs astern at the slight expense of the broadside arcs. Astern of the three point centrifuge is storage, auxiliary craft and the engineering spaces. To date there have been four batches of Province Class cruiser, each with incremental improvements. The Batch Three were the first to receive the two gun drones which have become a feature of Aéllr warships.
Province Class sighted on border patrol Circa 2055
While the combat performance of the Provinces remains unproven, the appearance of these large modern cruisers laid to rest the myth of the Aéllr unwillingness to fight. Prior to their introduction there had been suggestions in some quarters on Earth that Battle Fleet should assume a more aggressive posture in the border regions. The appearance of the Provinces made clear the the Confederacy lacked neither the will nor the means to defend itself and were probably instrumental in the One-for-Two declaration of 2055. While Batch one ships have been mothballed, it is expected the class as a whole will remain in service until at least the 2080s.
(1)Although it would be decades before the Confederation would learn it had come within hours of dictating terms.
(2) Which would in time yield excellent results in the form of the Autumn Shadow Class.
(3) Declassified Battle Fleet documents have confirmed that in the event of war during the 2040s at least one River Class Cruiser would have been dispatched to act as a raider.
I may well be returning this to one at some point in the future as my old computer basically hit the wall when it came to the computer model. There were a number of details – like the gun drones – I would have liked to have added but the processor and my patience threatened to melt.
This one was an interesting one to do, even though the Aéllr have never been centre stage in either of my books, I’ve always had a desire to explore them more thoroughly. They were to be the main opponent in my lost book and their technology is fairly similar that of Battle Fleet (or to be more precise humanity had borrowed a lot from them) but I wanted to see if I could design something that used similar elements but was clearly different. Okay I’ve ended up with the SF cliché of grey slab-sided human ships and curved alien ships but no-one is perfect