Class Name: Stork
Principal Function: General-purpose small craft
Crew: 3-10 depending on function
Atmospheric Flight Capability: Good
Description: The Stork is the workhorse of small craft. Its highly configurable hull design, combined with modular parts designed to allow reconfiguration at impressive speed, means the Stork can be a plush VIP fleet shuttle, a heavily armed and armored warboat, or take on many other roles. An experienced Navy team working at full clip is a wonder to behold, as they transform a Stork from VIP bus to ground-attack gunship in less than 24 hours.
The Stork’s atmospheric flight capability is impressive too. While a general-purpose shuttle will never possess the agility of specialized atmospheric fighter aircraft, it makes for a powerful gunship. In a situation where friendly forces have orbital and air superiority, the much larger warships in orbit can devastate the planet below with kinetic torpedoes, gamma bombs, and dirty nukes. While devastating, these are all crudely aimed attacks. By contrast, a wing of Storks configured for ground-attack can closely support ground-based Marines or other troops, and win wars without destroying planets in the process.
Once inside a planetary atmosphere, returning a Stork to orbit requires a huge fuel expenditure. The Stork will usually need refueling before it can achieve this. And this introduces another common role for Storks, that as a supplier of fuel. Storks are commonly employed as more than just fuel tankers. Equipped with fuel scoops, Storks can dredge the outer atmosphere of gas giant planets for raw fuel before passing it on to other Storks configured for fuel refining. They will then pass refined fuel to tanker Storks that transport fuel to the thirsty fleet, towing behind them gleaming shoals of inflatable fuel storage bubbles.
Storks can fulfil the same rapid troop transportation and deployment role as the Lysander [see Lysander-class shuttle]. The rapid release and docking systems are identical; what is different is scale. A Stork has a single main hold with capacity for 75 Marines.
Other common configurations for Storks include: missile platform, mining, Marine combat transport, general transportation, picket defense, pilot, tug, ‘kamikaze fireboat’, pilot trainer.