The Dust Devil Ship Makani ʻIno is a refitted Argo-class DropShip, the only example of its class1 ever launched. Recovered, restored, and renamed by the mercenaries in the early days of the Arano Restoration, the massive vessel has served the Devils well as flagship, mobile operations base, and home since the days when they were still known as Markham's Marauders.
- 1 History
- 2 Description
- 3 Armament
- 4 Cargo
- 5 Additional Facilities
- 5.1 Habitation
- 5.2 Training
- 5.3 Medical
- 5.4 Recreational
- 5.5 Technical
- 6 Notes
One of only two prototypes ever built of the Argo-class of DropShip, SLS Argo was built by Boeing Interstellar at their Galax shipyard. The Star League sent the vessel to the Rimward Periphery in 2762 for its maiden voyage, but after months of failure to report in the Argo was presumed lost, most likely a total casualty of the violence surrounding the New Vandenberg Uprising. The other prototype, christened SLS Myrmidon, was never completed, as the outbreak of the Star League Civil War shifted Boeing's entire line capacity to military construction. While many of the Argo-class's features were revolutionary technological advancements, they were not of much military use in a time where jump-capable WarShips could still be produced in great numbers.
The dust from Kerensky's assault on Terra had barely even begun to settle before the outbreak of the devastating First Succession War, and among the casualties of both conflicts were the primary headquarters of Boeing Interstellar and the knowledge required to produce another Argo-class, even had there been any demand for such a vessel. As such, the design and its lead ship faded out of memory, an oddity of a very different time lost to the present age.
However, the Argo had not been so completely destroyed as its builders suspected, but had in fact crash-landed under unknown circumstances on an airless moon called Axylus in the Alloway System, and remained there untouched for centuries until it was stumbled upon in late 3042 by pirates under the command of the self-styled "Pirate Queen" Grim Sybill. Lacking the capability to restore the vessel to working condition, the pirates instead converted the wreck into a base of operations, and began to scavenge it for LosTech. The pirates would not have long to enjoy their find, however, as they were not the first to have located the Argo's resting place.
The ruling Arano family of the Aurigan Coalition had discovered the crash site and identified the Argo as a Star League vessel during a survey of the Alloway system decades before. However, lacking the resources to mount a salvage operation at the time, the Aranos instead held the location a close secret, passed down through the generations in hope that someday the vessel could either be resurrected or at least salvaged for something of use. That opportunity finally presented itself in 3043 when, in an effort to stabilize a rapidly-deteriorating political situation on their frontier, the Magistracy of Canopus began offering clandestine financial and logistical support to the deposed Lady Kamea Arano in her quest to regain the throne her uncle, Santiago Espinoza, had usurped three years prior on the very day of her coronation.
Working through Canopian proxies, Lady Arano acquired the services of a highly skilled mechanical engineer and physicist named Dr. Farah Murad to infiltrate and bring the Argo back online alongside a strike force of Canopian marines. To clear the site of the pirates and their defenses, however, would require heavier forces, and Lady Kamea saw to it that that force was one she and her family were familiar with, under the command of a former member of her own Royal Guard: Markham's Marauders. Though it proved costly, in the end the mission was a success, Grim Sybill lay dead, and the massive DropShip rose from the moon's surface under its own power, returning to the void for the first time in centuries.
Lady Arano placed the Argo, Dr. Murad, and what was left of her technical team under the Marauders' command for the duration of her Restoration Campaign, over the course of which the unit renamed themselves the Dust Devils, the vessel was restored under the careful guidance of Dr. Murad, and both she and her engineers joined the mercenary command as full members. Upon the successful conclusion of the Arano Restoration and the reformation of the Aurigan Coalition, Lady Arano granted the mercenaries full ownership of the Argo as a "bonus" for services rendered.
The Dust Devils renamed the vessel DDS Makani ʻIno, and it has served them well ever since, gradually upgraded over the years into something much closer to a military vessel than its original peaceful purposes.
The Argo class of DropShip was an experiment by Boeing Interstellar, conceived to serve as a self-sufficient mobile base to support a flotilla of exploration ships. Intended to follow behind the first wave of explorers into an unsettled star system and support surveyor, terraforming, and initial colonization teams, the vessel would remain in-system as a "shore leave" base and logistical hub, capable of operating as such for months, and potentially years, at a time.
As the Makani ʻIno is incapable of planetary landings, it must rely on the support of smaller vessels via its revolutionary Multiple Docking Collar System (MDCS) to deploy supplies and vehicles (including Mechs) to the surface. While most DropShips of such scale are in regular contact with JumpShips, the extended mission profile of the Argo-class prompted Boeing's engineers to design a unique folding gravity deck, made up of three independent pods that rotate around the ship's long axis to provide gravity while the vessel is at rest while folding back against the hull when under thrust to maintain relative gravitational direction.
The MDCS provides the vessel with another unusual capability: Carrying docked DropShips through hyperspace, though there are limits to this ability. As no JumpShip or WarShip KF boom has thus far been developed capable of forming a translation envelope around a DropShip massing above 100,000 tons, the Makani ʻIno is limited to carrying only two DropShips massing 2,000 tons or less through a jump on its MDCS (the third collar connecting the Makani ʻIno itself to the Jump-capable vessel).
Never intended as a combat vessel, the Argo-class's standard armament and defenses are designed more for dealing with navigational hazards than deliberate opposition. The Dust Devils have endeavored to increase the Makani ʻIno's martial capabilities to the maximum extent their vessel's structure will allow, replacing the original laser weaponry with Clantech extended-range versions of the same from their captured stores, as well as adding a set of Gauss rifles to give her a sharper bite fore and aft. For defense, Dr. Murad was also able to come up with some novel solutions to shore up the Makani ʻIno's limited armor on both the primary hull and the grav deck pods without disrupting their operation, as well as installing a fairly extensive laser-based Close-In Weapons System to take on missiles, torpedoes, and enemy boarding craft. The upgraded armor has somewhat reduced the vessels speed, but as the Makani ʻIno's massive Star League-era drive is still capable of producing sufficient thrust to outpace most threats (not to mention injure its crew), the Devils consider the tradeoff a worthwhile one.
The Makani ʻIno's cargo capacity is split into three specialized bays, connected by a state-of-the-art internal cargo conveyor system capable of quickly ferrying equipment and vehicles between the bays and docked vessels:
- Bay One contains space for 24 BattleMechs, divided into three decks of eight isolated and sealed cubicles each. The space includes extensive maintenance and repair facilities of a kind not seen since the days of the Star League, including automated repair armatures, a complete machine shop (including a myomer loom), refit harnesses capable of lifting a fully-equipped assault Mech, and reconfigurable powered scaffolding.
- Bay Two contains a pair of flight decks, capable of supporting both AeroSpace Fighters and Small Craft with two access doors for each deck and repair and maintenance facilities of similar range and quality to those of the Mech bay. The Devils use these decks to house the six Chippewa heavy AeroSpace Fighters of the Hellbats' Amber Squadron and a pair of K-1 Drop Shuttles for ferrying cargo and passengers.
- Designed to ferry supplies enough to create a self-sustaining colony on a new world, Bay Three contains a number of cavernous holds capable of holding over 35,000 tons of cargo between them without noticeable impact on the Makani ʻIno's performance.
In addition to its utility as a cargo and vehicle transport, the Makani ʻIno boasts a number of unique facilities and amenities to support its crew and passengers.
Each of the Makani ʻIno's grav deck pods dedicates a number of "lower" decks to state-of-the art living quarters to house the vessel's crew and marine contingent, as well as the Devils' MechWarriors, AeroSpace pilots, and the entirety of the unit's dependents, while still having space for a number of passengers in well-appointed staterooms. Typically the "passenger" quarters are reserved for "shore leave" for the crew and marines from the DDS Derecho, though the unit has been known to take on paying passengers for non-combat legs of multiple jumps. While accommodations on the Storm are by no means spartan, the Devils' command staff attempts to provide egalitarian access to the amenities the larger ship has to offer. The much smaller crews of the Devil's other DropShips live aboard the Makani ʻIno full-time, as those vessels are generally docked to the larger vessel when not undertaking combat operations or, in the case of the unit's three Montgomery-class vessels, on their eight-hour, "one-up-two-down" escort rotation2.
During the days of the Star League, the quality of accommodations built into the Argo-class's design would be considered quite comfortable; in the days of LosTech, the Devils and their dependents enjoy a standard of living beyond that of the commonfolk of most Inner Sphere worlds, much less those who spend most of their lives on space vessels.
The dining facility contained in each pod resembles a planetside cafeteria more than a typical ship's mess, with a cold food bar, a shifting menu of hot offerings prepared and served from an attached galley in shifts around the clock. Each hall contains enough seating for the entire population of its respective pod's living quarters, but meals are also available to go for those who need or want a change of scenery.
Located in the "upper" levels of Gamma Pod near the Makani ʻIno's spine, the aquaponics garden provides not only a ready and renewable supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, fish, and fungi to supplement nonperishable foodstuffs over long voyages, but also dedicated "quiet spaces" where the Devils' personnel can take a break from bulkheads and corridors in favor of some "green time".
Located a level above the hydroponics garden in Gamma Pod, the Makani ʻIno's gymnasium features a large selection of fitness options, from cardio and resistance-training machines to a reconfigurable court for competitive sports from basketball to lacrosse, as well as a hot tub, steam room, dry sauna, massage rooms, and showers. All gymnasium facilities are capable of operating from 0-1.5 g.
Each grav deck pod contains a bank of twelve restored Star League-era combat simulators, capable of configuration for both BattleMech and AeroSpace practice to the point of having modular controls that can be adjusted to match specific models of combat machine. Each bank is networked together, allowing for the entire complement of MechWarriors and Pilots to participate in a common simulation, as well as providing an arena in which to hold the Devils' Urbie Derbie competition.
The Makani ʻIno's state-of-the-art medical facilities are spread out across three hospital bays, one for each of the vessel's grav deck pods, with the intent that even were the vessel to take extensive damage there would still be a good chance that at least one facility would survive intact to treat the wounded. The hospital bays represent a combination of some of the Magistracy of Canopus's best medical talent and equipment that money can buy. Each bay is under the supervision of a dedicated medical officer and capable of supporting procedures from simple dentistry and inoculations to microsurgery and organ replacement at a standard of care to rival that of all but the best Inner Sphere hospitals.
When the Devils began restoration of Beta Pod, they were surprised to find a mostly-intact compact pharmacological facility attached to the pod's hospital bay. As the Argo-class's mission profile expected the vessel to operate far from logistical support for extended periods, the prescient designers at Federated Boeing included the facility to allow for the research and manufacture of whatever medications might be needed in the course of exploring and civilizing new worlds. What Star League-era lab components Dr. Murad's team couldn't restore were replaced with equipment purchased in the Magistracy of Canopus, and the lab currently provides not only support for the unit's own medical needs, but also a means of building and fostering good relationships with other spacers and planetary authorities with the provision of otherwise hard-to-come-by pharmaceuticals.
A popular amenity with both the Devils' and their dependents, the Arcade's two decks in Gamma Pod feature a number of both digital and analogue game systems, modular gaming tables (capable of supporting a variety of activities from billiards and air hockey to board games and gambling), a bar, and a laser tag arena.
A dedicated space in Beta Pod for reading, studying, or just some quiet time, the Leilani Kekoa Memorial Library provides a large collection of published materials, from novels to technical manuals, as well as active subscriptions to a number of periodicals and news services in a comfortable, spacious library environment. Digital materials are also accessible remotely via the ship's internal network.
What the Devils call a "lounge" in Alpha Pod, planet-bound populations might term more a combination of sports bar and nightclub. A sweeping and well-stocked bar, plush seating, large-format vidscreens, a high-quality sound system, and a spacious dance floor provide those in the high-stress occupation that is professional soldiery a place to safely blow off steam and form tighter bonds with their colleagues.
Not even Dr. Murad knows what the empty space in Gamma Pod that her team would end up converting into a massive low-gravity swimming pool was originally for, and upon discovering that the pool was a possibility, the Devils didn't seem to honestly care. In line with the unit's somewhat hedonistic and immodest reputation, non-Devil passengers are encouraged to provide advanced notice before making use of the pool facilities, as they are normally clothing-optional.
Salvage Recovery Workshop
Part of the domain of Chief Technician Yang Virtanen and his crew. the "Butcher Shop" is a well-equipped facility dedicated to the support of the unit's extensive battlefield salvage operation. Here recovered components can be extracted, sorted, packaged, and sent along to the Mech Bay for use in the Devils' own equipment, or stored in cargo for later access or sale.
Mobile Hyperpulse Generator
Dr. Murad's engineering team was tremendously surprised to find an ancient and mostly-intact Mobile HPG unit built directly into the Argo's communications suite as they repaired the ancient vessel after its recovery, though in hindsight the lack of interstellar communications capability in a late Star League-era deep space mobile exploration and colonization base would have been more unusual. Surmising that Sybill's pirates had failed to recognize the equipment for what it was and thus missed it as they stripped the vessel, Murad's team lacked the knowledge to actually repair the device, and so simply secured it as best they could and sealed its section off. For a time it remained a dormant oddity, kept carefully secret in light of its value (and the giant target it would paint on the unit; despite ROM's success with keeping ComStar's role in the technological decline of the Inner Sphere quiet, the danger inherent in possessing such technology was hardly secret).
After the schism that created the Word of Blake, and in the wake of promising reforms that led to a more open and secular operating procedure in the original organization, Commandant Leilani Kekoa would reach out to ComStar in 3059 to reveal the Devils' possession of the HPG and negotiate its restoration. Under the terms of the agreement, ComStar placed a team of adepts with the unit to repair, maintain, and operate the generator for the Devils' exclusive use and access to their HPG network at standard data rates, while the Devils would in turn provide the funds for the initial repair of the HPG, as well as room and board for the adepts.
- In most respects the Dust Devils AU version of the Argo is identical to the canon version, but there are differences enough to warrant a new writeup.
- When in transit, DDS Makani ʻIno is escorted by DDS Derecho and at least one of the Devils' three Montgomery-class DropShips, while the other two typically remain docked to the Makani ʻIno's MDCS along with DDS Bonechewer. The Montgomeries operate in eight-hour shifts, allowing for 16 hours rest and recreation between "up-time" for each vessel's small crew. While Fleet Group Stardust does not typically maintain an active AeroSpace Fighter escort for most transits, two pilots from each of the Hellbats' two squadrons are placed on standby duty for each escort rotation for rapid deployment, buying time for the rest of the fighters to launch in support.