|Base Hull||Modified Knight Saber-type hardsuit|
|Drive Type||2 x foot mounted speed drives|
|Drive Rating||Atmosphere: 400kph|
|Armament||None as Standard|
|Launched||Prototype Early 2016|
|Purpose||Personal Space and atmospheric flight.|
|Primary Crew||Wearer only.|
|Operational Status||Active as of 2016|
A type of powered armour based upon the hardsuits of the Knight Sabers, from the original Bubblegum Crisis OVA, originally designed by Jet Jaguar. These differ from normal Fenspace powered armours in that they are first and foremost intended as spacecraft, rather than for combat.
After the Highway Star, the project was begun by Jet as a hobby in her off-duty hours, originally solely for the use of her girlfriend Sierra. Based upon Knight Saber hardsuit plans featured in the Whole Fenspace Catalogue, the plans were heavily modified to construct a spaceworthy design, trading off some of the original Saber-suit’s agility. It took Jet the best part of a six months to build Sierra’s suit from the ground up, working around her duty schedule.
Jet received several requests from Fen interested in buying a hardsuit or at least licensing the design. Surprised, and not really interested in building them and tying herself to a workbench, Jet instead stripped her working plans of proprietary parts like engines, then placed her edited plans and testing logs online, releasing them under an open-source hardware license for interested Fen to build themselves. A small community slowly coalesced around a core of builders, sharing ideas, suggestions, improvements and suggested parts suppliers, eventually forming the “Stingray Committee” to properly administer the design.
The project’s governing committee aims to release hardware updates annually and software updates every six months. Production plans and onboard software are licensed under the LGPL, and are distributed as a single combined package. Any builder is theoretically capable of contributing something new to the project, provided they’ve tested their plans and the design meets committee approval. Jet herself is the least ‘active’ of the project committee, but still contributes occasional updates or ideas, along with some advice on flight, navigation and 'soft' Panzer Kunst techniques such as how not to smash things you just want to pick up.
It takes anyone reasonably competent about six months or so to get something spaceworthy. A skillful gearhead can have one inside a few weeks if not faster. Some are also be built for a fee by professional builders. Any professionally-built suit is required to include a copy of all relevant design documentation.
|Owning One: By SpaceMan2075|
|I'd been to just about every kind of counselling they had since I got my biomod, and I managed to move on sure, but I could never feel comfortable in my skin. I just couldn't - it stopped feeling wrong, but never felt quite right either.
But when I wear my hardsuit, I just forget about all that. I feel so secure and comfortable in it, so safe and confident, that I can look at myself in the mirror and smile for the first time in a long time. It's like wearing a new, safe skin and becoming a part of it. It feels like myself. It feels, dare I say, sexy... especially with the heels.
The project’s primary aim is to replace all proprietary components with open-sourced designs. There are still significant gaps in the plans... most notably the suit’s engines and a number of critical subsystems still have to be purchased from specialised sources. The design package includes details of a number of different component sellers. The package also includes a number of optional plugins, including some weapon designs, improved comms and radar, and a number of other things. A secondary aim is to simplify the production process of the suit, and ease maintenance. Stingray suits are intended to be built by Fen of average competence, using commonly available workshop tools. While some may not have their own CNC machine tools, most fen can at least get access to a workshop does. The base plans intentionally avoid using complicated, rare or expensive manufacturing processes.
Hardsuit software is provided in three different variations. The original version, written by Jet for Sierra’s suit, is recommended solely for those using older ‘danetech for the hardsuit computers. In general, it can charitably be described as ‘crude but functional’. Version 2 is much improved reliability wise, being maintained by a more experienced programmer, though is still feature incomplete. Version 3 is an unstable testing version, with a number of new features, though with a tendency to crash, right before the wearer does. All versions include at least a WFC-derived Expert System to help the wearer fly, navigation and radio software.
Depending on the distribution, the hardsuit software may also include functions such as G-limiters, self recovering and orientating systems or a proper autopilot.
Steganovich Steelwear in Crystal Tokyo is one of the most popular builders, providing mainly to Senshi. It takes about three months between order and measuring, and delivery of the final suit. The Jupiter Mining Corporation have also produced their own specialised variant.
Naturally... although the original Saber designs are exclusively female, male-adapted plans are included in the package. Catgirl-adapted plans also exist.
Stingray hardsuits are reported as being tougher to use than Silver Sentinel types. The suits aren't normally built with onboard AI assist, and the solid ballet-boot style lower legs take some getting used to. Theoretically, the Stingray suit is slower and less maneuverable in flight and much harder to control safely, but they are also lighter, potentially stronger thanks to constant-power actuators, more agile on the ground, and significantly simpler to build and maintain.
Jet and Ford Sierra set up a small production of a number of suits for the Roughriders, equipping the A-Team.
These suits include an advanced metal-ceramic layered armour, coupled with enhanced ECM, ECCM, communications and radar absorbing paint which gives them the radar cross-section of a hummingbird. They also have adaptations enabling them to be launched from a passing Blackbird spacecraft, or from the bay of a Peacemaker.
Jet also provided specific training for the A-team, enabling them to use the suits in action to their maximum potential, while Ford constructed the first prototype Motoroid to go with them.
Knight Saber Type
First appearing in 2021, little is known about the suits employed by the Knight Sabers, just that they appear to be derivatives of the Stingray project suits. Their performance exceeds the current capabilities of the Stingray Type by a wide margin.
Little else is known about them, other than their external appearance is derivative of the Bubblegum Crash-era hardsuits.
Bespoke build: Designed specifically to fit one person and one person alone. Only that person(or an identical twin) can ever wear the suit without a serious rebuild. If anyone else tries to wear it, at best won’t fit and at worst will break bones.
Ave Machina: Hardsuits require regular maintenance, preferably from the builder. The suit’s software must be updated, structural elements have to be checked for fatigue, actuators have to be lubricated and properly adjusted. Ignoring this for too long increases the risk of a malfunction ranging from the irritating, to potentially deadly.
It’s flight Jim, but not as we know it: Despite the expert system fitted, piloting one of these suits is not for the faint of heart. It’s still very easy for an inexperienced or easily disorientated pilot to get into trouble.
Open-Sourced: Where possible, Licensed under the Lesser General Public License. Some elements still incomplete. Some features not exactly easy to use, and the software is still a bit buggy. But if you don’t like it, you have the plans to change it.
The People's armour: It is a specific intention of the project that any fan of average competence should be able to put together their own hardsuit, and achieve a performance level almost on par with Silver Sentinel suits.
Oops... sorry: Jet used a constant power actuator design, based off herself, rather than the more common and safer constant force systems. Those actuators are also easily capable of lifting half a ton, provided the ground doesn't collapse under the wearers feet. Many first time wearers find they tend to break things like doorhandles and cups until they get used to it. Several software plugins exist to mimick a constant force system, effectively buying off this quirk with added time spent in calibration.
Eighties hair: After removing their helmet, no matter what hairstyle the wearer had when they put the helmet on, it will be changed to something teleported in from the 1980’s. Mullets and perms all around.
Voice of a Saber: Any transmission broadcast by a hardsuit will sound like a member of the female BGC cast, regardless of the gender of the wearer. Usually this is one of the Knight Sabers but Aya Hisakawa and Tomoko Maruo are also represented, among others. Since Nené Romanova's involvement, the 2040 series voice cast is also represented.
Heels of Steel: It's not a quirk, it's a feature. No Stingray suits are built with a flexible ankle joint, to protect the wearers ankles from bad landings. Walking in them is a lot like walking in high-heeled boots... which can be a hilarious challenge for those not used to wearing heels.
Open-Sourced Quirks: Stingray hardsuits tend to accumulate quirks from designers, the further removed the particular plans being used are from the official distribution.
Current Stingray Committee:
- Jet Jaguar (Actuators, Project originator. Least active member of the committee).
- Kohran Li (Fenspace Catalogue consultant. A number of proprietary armament adapter plugins).
- Yuri Steganovich (Most experienced builder, owner of Steganovich Steelwear in Crystal Tokyo. Autogen project to ease production).
- At least five others, including a chairman.
- Nene Romanova (V2 Software contributor, and an optional Personality layer. Inherited familiarity with the original hardware.).
- Ford Sierra (Occasional Test Pilot. Prototype owner. Dedication on the original data packages.)
- A.C. Peters (Power Assistance and Stability subsystems among other components show a fair bit of her hand)
- A good many others to varying degrees, including test-pilots, AI's and a few working anonymously.
- Jupiter Mining Corporation has their own line of hardsuits, with some adaptations to ease maintenance and production.
- Roughriders The A-team has been spotted training in a modified Stingray design.
- Knight Sabers Naturally.
- Though it's still obvious what parts those where to those familiar with them.
- Jet refused to accept the position of BDFL as it sounded much too like 'work'
- But not her personal designs, unless the wearer wants walking to become an exercise in "how many accidents can I cause today?"