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August 9, 2013
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The Monitor 'Roland' by MikeDoscher The Monitor 'Roland' by MikeDoscher
Arriving too late to serve in the Minute War, the Hero Class of warships represented the pinnacle of military spacecraft design for the cold war that constituted the first half of the 23rd century. Largely autonomous, the class was one of the first to utilize a biologically-derived AI for command and control functions. This freed the type from dependence on increasingly vulnerable bases. This attribute was particularly useful for examples deployed to the Belt and Outer Marches.

The type was essentially built around a high-output fission drive and a pair of 80 meter long particle accelerators tuned to the drive. While no longer in production, fission drives were at one time very popular solutions when high sustained thrust was required. Unfortunately, the type ultimately became a solution to a problem that ceased to exist with the signing of the Armistice, i.e., defeating large armored warships in massed battle. This, combined with the political unpopularity of AI controlled warships saw them quickly mothballed.

A handful of these ships were to see a new lease on life when rebuilt as patrol vessels and the bow section radically reworked to accommodate a small human crew in a surplus pressure hull. Six of these ships were converted in this way, serving primarily to intercept smart mines, pirates, and generally be on the lookout for unpleasant surprises at the edge of human civilization. This was done for a number of years until the use of a full crew became uneconomical.

Ultimately, things came full circle as the Sapiency Acts were amended to award full legal personhood to biologically derived AIs and these vessels were recrewed once more.

Here we see the Roland investigating the aftermath of a pirate attack on an unmanned supply depot near the edge of the Belt. Culpability in these attacks was often hard to establish, as low level AIs or swarm systems were usually in immediate command of any attack. Puppeteers are as elusive as always.

Pencil, digitally colored.
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:iconphaidrosthepeep:
PhaidrosthePeep Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013
Good picture of a great design with an intriguing backstory.
 
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:iconmaxfusion:
MaxFusion Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
That is epic
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:iconsagittarius-a-star:
Sagittarius-A-star Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Cool spaceship, Mike!! :) I love the way you draw space wreckage, ha ha.  Biologically based AIs, those make sense... we already are experimenting with stuff like training mice-derived brain cells on a chip to fly a fighter simulator.  Similar ideas occur in Cordwainer Smith's SF stories, where laminated biological animal brains form the core intellects of robots.  I'm guessing that those weird robots hanging onto the space wreckage out of sight of the AI warship are controlled by the bad guys- do you think they are they hiding or waiting to attack? 
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:iconmikedoscher:
MikeDoscher Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you. :) The robots are meant to be ambiguous, and could either be a booby trap left behind or part of a self-replicating hive entity. The latter tend to infest debris fields once a center density of the right sort of material is achieved.
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:iconandywerk:
Andywerk Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2013
Instant Fan of your work. I really like the design and the backstory is very crreative Love it, love it love it.....
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:iconvulnepro:
VulnePro Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Your spacecraft designs, always awesome man :) I dig the little power suits investigating the debris in the bottom right of the piece, very cool. Fantastic stuff!

Cheers!
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:iconweequays:
Weequays Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Great Vessel :D
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:iconpeterkat:
Peterkat Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice!
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:iconpickle-soup:
Pickle-Soup Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i love the little green scavenger bots/things

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:iconwolf-fang4:
Wolf-fang4 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very killer ship design
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