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Artemis-class Battlecruiser
Artemis-class battlecruiser
Production information
Manufacturer

Reyes-McLees Shipyards Inc.

Class

Battlecruiser

Technical specifications
Length

1,250 metres (4,101 ft)

Width

406 metres (971 ft)

Height/depth

297 metres

Mass

7.6 million tonnes

Engine unit(s)

Boglin Fields' Apex-VI 508C Fusion drives (2)

Slipspace Drive
Slipspace velocity
  • 4.9 lightyears/day (Pre-2554 refit)
Power plant
Hull
  • 167 centimetres of Titanium-A2/C battleplate
  • 30 centimetres of Vanadium Steel
Targeting systems
Navigation system
  • AI-assisted manual piloting system
  • UNA-uplinked navigation computer
Countermeasures
  • Carbon-nanotube stealth plate
  • Pascade gas emergency thrusters (9 on sides, four on top/bottom)
  • Baffled engines
Armament
Complement
Crew
  • 600 crewmen
  • 20 ONI agents
Minimum crew

1 "Smart" AI

Consumables
  • Fully-stocked: 9 months
Usage
Year introduced

2537

Role(s)
  • Long-range fire support
  • Patrol
  • Command
Era(s)
Affiliation
  [Source]


"Once our fleets are slaved to their respective flagships, I don't see how anything smaller than that Assault Carrier can survive more than one barrage."
―Captain Shannon Hambleton, during the battle of Kingston.

The Artemis-class battlecruiser (hull classification symbol: CB) is a model of heavy cruiser utilised by the UNSC in the latter half of the Human-Covenant War. One of the most powerful ships for its size, the Artemis is based off the frame of a heavily-modified Marathon-class cruiser. As a result, it shares its cousin's emphasis on speed and firepower at the expense of durability. It is also an technologically advanced warship, incorporating the latest in weapons, scanners and power generation systems to allow it to destroy almost any opponent that has the misfortune to be designated as targets. This makes it uniquely-suited to the role of artillery, staying away from the thick of combat to pick off opposing capital ships. Their advanced sensors and array of stealth technologies allows them to find success as a heavy patrol ship, searching systems with low intelligence to hunt for valuable Covenant commanders and material.

These ships became the equivalent of living legends during the Human-Covenant War, with each member of this class boasting dozens of kills to their name. While it's true they are very vulnerable to bombers and didn't have the armour to withstand Covenant weaponry, they proved difficult to detect or destroy in practice thanks to their usage and onboard systems. Due to their inability to adapt to other roles and their high cost of replacement, these ships were only given to the most talented and level-headed commanders to ensure their survival.

Layout

Exterior

With a silhouette resembling a cross between a monolithic cruiser and a frigate, the Artemis could be easily mistaken for a Valiant-class super-heavy cruiser from a distance. These similarities quickly disappear with a closer look. The Artemis maintains a consistent rectangular profile, with overlapping plates protecting the points of attachment for the superstructure. Most early battlecruisers were distinguished by their larger size and their black hull, although later members would only sport this paint on specific missions, as the cost of the stealth plating was expensive to maintain. Secondary antennae were mounted all over the ship, paired with sensor dishes to grant full 360o view of the ship of varying quality.

The bow was dominated by two massive prongs, divided along the center much like those on the smaller frigates. Both the top and bottom prow were comparatively heavily armoured, as they housed the advanced MACs that the battlecruiser relied on for offense. Both prongs had an array of antennae and dishes for the sensor and targeting systems, although only the bottom had the powerful granitic scanners it used to detect prey at extended distances. Between the prow are massive capacitors which store excess power from the reactors. As their position is notoriously vulnerable to bombers, eight M870 point-defense gun mounts were fitted, although only four would usually be in use due to concerns about the tight space potentially damaging the turrets. At the bottom of the lower prow was a protruding structure that held capacitors to retain charge for the ship's weapon. The back of the prongs were covered by a thin shield of armour, extended forwards to better protect the section where the prongs were attached to the superstructure.

The midsection, at first glance, appears better armoured than the bow because of the extra plating overlaid over the main hull at the top and bottom. This is somewhat false, as while the extra Vanadium hull does add more protection, the Titanium-A2 layer is thinner, being only 90 centimetres in thickness. Below this was a lightly-armoured indentation, with six comparatively small doors, four on an upper floor and two on the lower, that lead to long cargo-bays which are wide enough to accommodate a Longsword bomber. Both the doors and the surrounding area are only armoured with a thin layer of Vanadium steel rather than Titanium-A2 to reduce costs, and proved to be an exceptionally vulnerable section which is so often targeted by bomber squadrons. At the very bottom of the ship is another large hangar, with a massive sliding door that runs along the bottom. This is a section dedicated to a large scouting vessel, normally a prowler, and contains all the consumables equipment needed to repair, refit and maintain them while on patrol.

Interior

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A typical hallway on an Artemis, with the next room breached by plasma fire.

Despite mimicking the same industrial decor theme that's consistent across the UNSC ships of its time, the interior of this class does display some differences. With the exception of the uniform service corridors which allow engineers access to vital parts of the ship, the rooms are taller and wider than normal, even in places where cargo is unlikely to be trafficked through. The floor, walls and ceiling are made up of panels which can be easily removed to access the desired component, with the panels deliberately made either different in design or with different materials to make it easy to guess what lies beneath. The decor tends to preferred a cluttered look on a finished surface, painted with contrasting colours within the white, grey and black spectrum.

The midship is divided into eleven levels, with seven additional sub-levels, which are connected to each other through stairways, elevators and maintenance corridors. The levels closer to the ship's exterior are used for handling cargo and cryogenic storage, with levels One and Eleven being completely devoted to the storage of the ship's consumables, such as fuel, food and water. Eleven also has access to the SOEIV launch tubes. The five main cryobays are located on levels Two and Ten, as they have the infrastructure to rapidly launch the ship's entire complement within a few minutes, although smaller cryobays capable of holding only fifteen individuals are located towards the centre of the vessel. Levels Three, Eight and Nine are typically where the bulk of the engineering work, as they extend all the way towards the MAC guns to the engines. There's little different with Level Four, however it is notable as it has bedrooms for the crew to rest, as their need for sleep is not met by being placed in a cryotube. Level Five exists solely to distribute personnel and material around, and as such its relatively easy to navigate one's way around the ship. The barracks for the Marines and ODSTs, as well as detention centres, are also located here. Level Seven is the main administrative level, with the Combat Information Centre (CIC), command bridge and meeting chambers for specific area commands being present on this level. Level Six is a mix between levels Five and Seven, having access to more specific area commands and still being partly responsible for moving cargo across the ship.

Located within the middle of the ship's "shoulder" - the elevated structure which separates the bow from the midship - lies the "brain" of the battlecruiser, the Combat Information Centre. It is here where all the high-level orders are issued, such as directing where the ship needs to go, when to fire and how to respond to battlefield conditions. The CIC is divided into two levels, with the larger top floor housing the stations used for general ship use and the bottom for managing damage-control, engineering management and complement. The bridge is arranged in a semi-circular form, with the individual stations surrounding the command organisation equipment in the centre. A wall is installed behind here, where a wide touchscreen is installed which can either display the navigation data with streamlined ship data, or the various statistics from the various stations. Should the captain prefer a three-dimensional hologram of the relevant data, or intends to share a visual representation of a plan with their crew, a large holotable is located behind the main bridge area.

Specifications

Propulsion and Powerplants

Like nearly all other examples of human spacefaring vessels, the Artemis is pushed along by ten fusion emission drives powered directly by the ship's massive reactor, arranged into two large drives in the centre and eight far smaller models, four on each side. The propellants, which are the elements created by the fusion of Deuterium, are superheated by the reactors output, transforming into plasma before being rapidly compressed and flung out at high speeds. Though much of the gas is lost to space, a series of magnets and negatively-charged capacitors are mounted outside to recapture some of the plasma to be recycled.

Artemis Aft
The aft of the Artemis, showcasing its engine arrangement.

The actual mechanism which powers the ship as a whole are the two V6/XH-DFR TEMPEST dual-chamber reactors and the singular Boglin Fields S67/LCU Fusion Drive. A custom model that's more thoroughly reinforced, the TEMPESTs are thickened with pressure-resistant and heat-resistant alloys, providing some protection against heat-based energy weapons. It has multiple redundancies to continue to function even while heavily damaged, such as being able to isolate sections of itself at reduced efficiency. The TEMPEST's unusually-thick insulation layer, along with its multiple conduits linking the two chambers, allows it to be safely overclocked to provide one-and-a-half times as much energy as before. This can be further enhanced by the navigation officer's override, which floods the reactor with additional Deuterium to run at three times the output and give out a noticeable increase in speed. Unfortunately, as well as significantly reducing how long it can run for, the TEMPEST will also reach meltdown levels within seven minutes of overclocked use. After the war, this model had been modified to allow it to feature the revolutionary cooling system derived from the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, increasing the time to meltdown up to twenty minutes.

The S67/X/CU Fusion Drive, on the other hand, is an even more specialised model that is far more resilient than the main reactors. Manufactured by Boglin Fields, the enlarged S67 combat-upgraded model is built with insulated motorplate layers that can efficiently block any holes from weapons that hit it, sliding over the hole to and releasing an Antimony compound fluid to magnetically seal it - essentially, the only way to disable it is to shut off the Deuterium supply. Unlike the TEMPEST, this allows the S67 to continue outputting at near-maximum no matter how badly damaged. As the S67 is slow at adjusting its output, the computer for controlling takes into account the readiness level the ship is operating at - at yellow, the reactor starts up to low settings, while at red it is operating at moderate to high capacity.

Powered by these two reactors is the Artemis' primary propulsion system - two Apex-VI 508C fusion drives. Created specifically for the battlecruiser, the Apex-VI has three modes of use depending on how much power is redirected to it. The most useful setting is its "stealth mode", where it employs a number of systems to minimise the amount of detectable emissions leaving it. These are so effective that at low outputs they do not give out any radiation, making it appear as if the engines are inactive in this setting, yet they must be constantly maintained and replaced. Once the output increases beyond 35% of its maximum recommended intake, the more fragile bafflers are absorbed into the hull, where it maintains a balance between speed and stealth. However, as it does not have the benefits of invisibility nor maximum speed, few captains use it, instead jumping straight into its performance mode. Using a mixture of pressure boilers and magnetic acceleration, the engines can produce enough thrust to keep pace with a destroyer roughly half its size.

Also connected up to these two reactors are numerous vectoring thrusters mounted all over the ship. Capable of pushing the battlecruiser up to a velocity of 682 metres/second2 per side, these miniature fusion drives provide the bulk of the turning power available to the Artemis' crew under normal conditions. There are forty thrusters in total, with every side except the aft having eight of these propulsion systems installed. Most of these drives are further amplified by the addition of a variable turret which directs the thrust in a 175o cone above the hull. This new system offers several significant advantages over the cheaper system of having them mounted below the armour, from increasing the speed it can turn, to reducing the amount of fuel needed to make a change in course. While their heavily-armoured construction that allows them to survive the high temperatures of the fusion emissions also makes them surprisingly-resilient against enemy fire, they are slow at readjusting. In addition, damage can jam the turret's rotating platform, leaving them in a fixed position until they are repaired or removed. In light of this vulnerability, the base of the turrets is designed to detach, allowing the thrusters to resort to the conventional system.

SFTE
The core of a Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, identical to the one found in a Second-Generation Lifeboat SFTE.

For faster-than-light travel, the battlecruiser is outfitted with an experimental Mark 37F Alpha-Series-FTL-226 Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine backed up by a Second-Generation Lifeboat SFTE. Developed within the Watershed Division in the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Mark 37F is the most advanced slipstream engine built at the time of the Artemis' launch. Built using components recovered from recovered Covenant slipspace drives, the drive is a massive leap forward, being faster, more accurate and quicker to start up. Although the exact means on how it works are not known, it generates some sort of repulsing field which works in conjunction with the typical shielding to allow the warship to weave through slipspace with less force than before. This secondary field serves a secondary function by resisting the Chekhov radiation given out by nukes, giving HIGHCOM a reason to authorise these ships to carry a single Shiva nuke even on stealth missions. With all this said, Mark 37Fs cannot always be built as they are completely reliant on enough of the necessary components being scavenged from debris field. As a result, its not infrequent for battlecruisers to rely on their robust Lifeboat SFTE for interstellar travel after commissioning or repairs. Although small even by human standards and durable enough to take a beating, Lifeboat SFTEs are sluggish, slow to charge and painfully inaccurate.

Although the UNSC would loath to admit it, there is always the occasion that in combat the Artemis could be incapacitated, either by accident or through enemy interaction. To reactivate its fusion reactors, each of the main fusion reactors are linked up to two isolated capacitors. Hardened against EMP radiation and reinforced against sabotaged, the capacitors are intended to discharge as much power as possible within the shortest time frame, releasing up to twice the amount of energy normally needed to jumpstart the fusion process within even the powerful TEMPEST reactors. Only one is ever directly connected to the ship's power supply, with the second stored elsewhere to make it difficult for the enemy - human, Covenant or AI - to completely disable the battlecruiser. A second backup lies within it's complement of backup chemical batteries. Although considered crude and pathetic by modern standards, when they're all activated they can provide enough power to run emergency lighting, life support and propulsion for at least seventy-four hours. A final, less-efficient solution comes from radiation-conversion nodes installed in the hull. Intended to partially solve the problem in how the refractive coating amplifies heat signatures, the nodes work by converting the various forms of heat into electricity, sinking it within the battlecruiser's subsystems. If a wide array of conditions are met, the nodes can provide a maximum of 0.0421% additional power to its systems - not a large number, but enough to charge backup batteries and capacitors. All these backups mean that a battlecruiser is incredibly resistant to sabotage, even without taking into account that its computer circuits are resistant to EMP pulses.

If the battlecruiser needed a sudden burst in speed that its fusion drives could not achieve, a number of Pascade high-pressure canisters were built under the armour with portholes breaching through it. As a highly flammable and reactive gas with Rubidium at its core, Pascade ignited with extreme force when exposed to Oxygen. This gave out a huge amount of force, enough to give the Artemis a maximum turning speed of 35o per second, or propelling the warship to high speeds in any direction. However, as the only producer of the gas is an obscure company called TerraTek, it is not readily available and the canisters had to sometimes be filled with a less-effective substitute such as solid Triamino Hydrazine instead.

Armament

"Our cruisers killed in an instant? Lies! The blasphemers are not worthy to have such power!"
―Brute Shipmaster Vexus, witnessing his fleet being annihilated by a trio of Artemis battlecruisers.

The entire ship's superstructure was built around its two experimental 38G1S2 Series-VI Heavy-Coil Magnetic Accelerator Cannons, an incredibly powerful model which has been featured only on the Artemis-class. Coming in at 820 metres long, it is the largest weapon of its kind ever fitted onto a cruiser's hull. Firing in salvos of two, the MAC is capable of removing the shields of a CCS-class battlecruiser and inflict substantial damage on the hull beneath. While this already makes it dangerous to vessels larger than itself, the Series-VI is particularly lethal because it is designed to reduce the long cooldown experienced after firing while losing none of its reliability. The first is the installation of massive capacitor banks and cooling arrays along the middle of the bow, which store excess energy to allow the battlecruiser to fire even when its diverting almost all its power to every other systems. Next, backup electromagnetic coils can switch out damaged variations to allow it to immediately fire a second salvo. The last measure are heat and stress sensors mounted directly on the rings themselves, with transmits data on which coils need to cool down and which ones are capable of being used again. Using this data, the tactical officer is capable of firing a regular round at reduced velocity, or accelerate a frigate-sized slug up to 52,000 metres per second. By using this method, a battlecruiser could potentially dedicate its entire output to the MACs to allow them to fire up to four slugs per minute per barrel. Finally, two miniature fusion reactors are included as part of the system, allowing the capacitors to be recharged even if they're isolated from the main reactors.

A revamped reloading system is also included, which can automatically change rounds depending on data from targeting scans, cutting down on reload times and allowing the battlecruiser to carry a total of fifty rounds within its reconfigurable magazine. Currently, there are four rounds which are compatible with the Series-VI MACs, available in both cluster and slug forms:

  • XM38CSEM EMP round: Dubbed by naval personnel as the "Cov-Killer", this experimental round is engineered specifically for use against Covenant energy shields. The shell is covered by a magnetised Nickle-Cobalt alloy to allow it to reach higher velocities when being. After this state, the munition would undergo a brief arming period of its Deuterium payload which leaves it at limited effectiveness. To reduce the chance of the payload not igniting, the outer layer of the shell is designed to be energised in the barrel. A simple sensor within the round waits to reach a predetermined distance from its target, after which it would explode into seven main fragments which would collide with its shields. The multiple impacts and the subsequent ionic interference would wreak havoc on energy shielding, bringing them down faster than any other ordnance at the UNSC's disposal. Particularly skilled captains can inflict substantial damage against the shields of an entire enemy fleet. Despite not being as strong as the standard slug, each fragment is still built in a squash-head fashion to maximise its damage against the enemy hull.
  • Tungsten round: The most frequently-used munition for the MAC, the 1300-tonne Tungsten slug is a reliable means of dealing damage to enemy forces. Like the XM38CSEM, the slug has a squash head to spread out its impact force across the enemy superstructure, increasing the area available for its kinetic energy to be absorbed onto. However, this slug is designed to remain rigid on impact, smashing through its target with enough force to inflict modest damage on a trailing ship. As a result, it is highly recommended for it to be used in surgical strikes, either to disable enemy systems or hit two vessels at once. As the most readily-available MAC slug, it is simply used for general attacks.
  • Depleted-Uranium round: Given that so much of the Artemis' power is centered around its MAC, it's obvious that this ship can benefit the most from a munition designed to be fire when its main guns are under-powered. The 600-tonne depleted-Uranium slug is built to cause the most harm when fired at low velocities. When it impacts its targets, the slug is vaporised into a fireball that incinerates its targets, releasing a small area-of-effect field which damages any other threats around the target. While not as effective as a nuke, this is arguably more reliable thanks to its inability to get shot down.
  • Shredder round: One of the few ships able to fire them when it was developed, the Shredder round operates in a fragmentary fashion, capable of impaling brittle pieces of itself into the frame of enemy ships. This performs exceptionally well against large targets, where they become more vulnerable to additional impacts and are forced to travel slower to prevent the ship from breaking apart.
Shiva2
A shiva-class nuclear missile in flight.

The secondary armaments are inferior to other cruisers, which is acceptable considering its role. There are only two which are even moderately effective against the Covenant, the most powerful being its three Shiva-class nuclear missiles. A modular missile system that's designed to be launched from both strikecraft and larger starships, the Shiva is used to inflict an uncontrolled explosion in both atmosphere and vacuum, largely depending on its warhead. Typically, the Artemis has its Shivas outfitted with a 230-megatonne Califorium warhead outfitted for vacuum conditions, using a three-stage fusion system filled with Hydrogen isotopes to that's ignited when pulled into the initial fission implosion. This amplifies the yield, and while it can vary to a degree depending on how strong the closest magnetic field is, it can reliably destroy any Covenant cruiser up to 2,000 metres long that's within ten kilometres of the blast radius. In addition, the Shiva releases a huge spike in electromagnetic radiation, disrupting shields and electrical systems, often requiring human ships to reset their systems following the missile's detonation. Although once armed it can detonate when if shot, it will only be armed once it receives an activation signal from the battlecruiser, sent after the host ship leaves the blast radius. As it constantly emits radiation, the missiles are stored in a radiation-resistant bay located fifty metres away from the nearest hallway, with numerous Lead walls located between them.

On occasion, the Shiva nukes can be completely replaced with the safer, less-devastating M7039 fusion rockets. Originally designed to be fired against targets in-atmosphere, fusion rockets differ from the more common nuclear missiles in that it does not require a radioactive material to compress the Hydrogen fuel. Instead, the rocket is built similar to a fusion reactor, temporarily producing a huge fusion cycle which would quickly engulf a sizable area within a superhot fireball. The blast is equivalent to a 185-megatonne blast, although it can be tuned to various yields prior to launch. The nose of the rocket is far more heavily reinforced than necessary, allowing its payload to remain intact even after smashing through metres of plating. As the rocket is completely unguided, it must be aimed carefully prior to launch, with the Artemis sporting a dedicated turret to fire them. However, it makes up for this with its fusion drive, an unusual propulsion system for a missile, which can allows the rocket to accelerate to speeds in excess of 500km/s within a few seconds. This allows it to evade point-defense systems by literally being too fast for them to lock on to. Fusion rockets have become unpopular in the UNSC, as they are ineffective at disrupting energy shielding and are expensive and hard to produce thanks to their complicated engine design.

20170818233126 1
An Artemis fires off a short salvo of Archer missiles.

Intended for purely defensive measures, the Artemis is equipped with a pathetic amount of variable missile pods. While most smaller ships could carry more than a thousand of individual missiles, an unmodified Artemis had eight pods which carried forty-two missiles each, giving the ship only 336 missiles. Each pod could fire a maximum of five missiles at once and took twenty-four seconds to rearm. They could accept a wide range of missile types, although normally they were fitted with either forty-two M42 Archers, or thirty M42 Archers and twelve M4 decoys. The M42 Archer is an aging piece of equipment, staying in service since the Insurrection because its cheap to produce and has proven to be more effective against the hull of Covenant vessels. Its drive system was not as responsive as newer missiles, having particular difficulty in hitting smaller strikecraft and thus limiting its use against larger ships. After the war, every Artemis had their M42 Archer munitions replaced with the newer M58 Archers, whose high explosive-concussive warheads to undermine the structural integrity of its targets, rather than destroying them through brute force. These could also be used in an anti-fighter capacity, supplementing the battlecruiser's M910 point-defense guns. Finally, the last frequent missile was the M4 decoys. Their countermeasures are built with several settings, which can be set to mimic the radiation spike of a nuke or the sensor signature of a cruiser, even going so far as to mimic their speed. This allows the user to confuse enemy formations with a frenzy of ghost ships, enough to either intimidate them into escaping, or distracting them while the battlecruiser prepares target lock.

Eleven M910 50mm autocannons are installed all over the battlecruiser. Primarily intended to screen the skies for incoming missiles and strikecraft, the M910 has also proven itself as an capable ship-to-ship weapon. The turret itself is a typical fast-tracking housing, able to elevate up to 100o and perform a full rotation within three seconds. It is particularly well-armoured, easily shrugging off most light weapons. It can fire a wide range of ammunition, but it's often equipped with only three types; timed flak, solid slugs and high-explosive rounds, designed for light-armoured targets and area-denial, heavy armour, and energy-shielding, respectively. While the rounds are chemically fired in an atmospheric environment, they are accelerated by coilguns built within the barrels. While this expands their range to a respectable three kilometres, their dedicated computer network is able to retrieve data from the battlecruiser's sensors to formulate predictions on their target's flight path. This increases accuracy somewhat, although their tolerance is loose enough that very few rounds will impact their target.

Armour and Superstructural Supports

Lagging behind the standards of other cruisers at the time, the Artemis-class was still outfitted with a hull thick enough to withstand most projectiles. Located above the main hull is a thin coating of refractive coating. The largest vessel to make use of this important innovation, refractive coating is a heat-absorption gel that is used to combat the threat of high temperatures. If struck by an energy weapon, the coating reacts in two ways. The first is that it rapidly dilutes the extreme heat, equalising the temperatures across the entire vessel to minimise damage. If the temperature reaches a certain threshold, the gel vaporises into a rapidly-expanding mist, forcing itself away from the hull towards the vacuum of space. This particular coating has an insulation agent is provided to make it difficult for the heat to move below this coating, and is effected by the battlecruiser's artificial gravity - the gel will coat any new holes made into the hull, slightly increasing the damage it can take. A side-effect of this extremely-expensive coating is that once heated the battlecruiser will stand out on thermal scans, making its stealth systems useless. However, the ability to better counter the Covenant's advanced weaponry has made this a necessary trade-off.

It was outfitted with a modified version of Titanium-A battleplate found on its sister warships, which has a mean thickness of 1.5 meters.. Designated as TI-A2/C, its actually a hybrid plating with two alternating layers. The first is the newer Titanium-A2 layer, laid in fifteen-centimeter layers. Designed to have improved performance against energy weapons, its actually less pure to its predecessor, being mixed with compounds which display better insulation to keep the plating solid at high temperatures. These are arranged in a crystal atomic lattice, similar to Diamond, which retain any physical strength it would have otherwise lost. The second layer is made up with a 10-centimeter thick cage of Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC), with a solid top and bottom and at the very sides. Inside this cage is, somewhat strangely, only the micro-scale RCC poles which are added to make it strong enough to hold the weight of the armour above it. The rest of it was a vacuum, which assisted in halting the spread of heat by preventing all means for it to travel except by conduction. Unfortunately, this vacuum made TI-A2/C worse at stopping kinetic weapons - a flaw which was corrected in the later Titanium-A3 battleplate. All this made this variation of Titanium-A2 far more effective against energy weapons.

Select parts of the hull are covered with a variable layer of Vanadium Steel, which can be viewed on the surface at places where the Titanium is not present. A dark-grey Iron alloy with a quarter-portion of Vanadium mixed within it, Vanadium Steel is usually used to protect unarmoured components, such as interior corridors and engine baffles, yet has seen increased use in recent years as armour plating. The reason to for this is two-fold. Firstly, Titanium-A2 is expensive, although made cheaper in the battlecruiser's configuration. Secondly, despite being heavier than Titanium, the thinner plating helps remove much of the warship's weight, making it faster and easier to turn. Some people outside of starship construction have wrongly considered that Vanadium's higher melting point may have influenced the decision to use it as armour, however plasma weaponry is simply so hot that it literally evaporates the plating off the warship on contact.

The main frame doesn't have as much thought put into it, with vastly reduced strength when compared to other ships. Columns of TR steel measuring forty metres by one metre by one metre are arranged in cube-like formations going both vertical and horizontal. These columns are thinner and longer than the standard - a measure which helped combat the high price of the ships while also keeping weight down. However, they are more susceptible to the stress of combat maneuvers and could not withstand shockwaves from severe impacts. Somewhat strangely, there are very few places where internal armour is added; only the bridge and reactors have this protection. The spaces between the columns are filled in by thin plates of TR steel only where the armour itself needs to be welded on. A few hydraulic supports are added to help cope with the stress of impacts and turning, yet otherwise the battlecruiser is highly vulnerable to being torn apart by a well-placed energy projector or plasma torpedo hit.

Complement

The Artemis-class battlecruiser is notorious for having a proportionally small amount of fighters, passengers and crew. The total amount of manpower it can carry comfortably is 1,008, with 760 crewmen dedicated to keep the ship functioning. This means that only 248 people are responsible for providing security, manning fighters, and managing the logistics for the extra personnel. The complement is typically shared between the following:

Sloop

A rather narrow vessel measuring only two hundred metres long, the Sloop-class prowler is an aging vessel that originally saw use during the Insurrection. A favourite of the now-defunct Colonial Military Administration, this prowler is built as a scout ship first and covert deployment vessel second. To assist in detecting enemy forces, the prowler had two triangular wings which are cluttered with highly-sensitive passive detection equipment, increasing its sensor performance without adding too much mass or surface area for the enemy to detect. A hangar is installed at the fore section, which can hold a maximum of two F-99 Wombat UCAVs, and two docking attachment points on the bottom hull. Its two engines, while capable of propelling the prowler to respectable speeds, were normally powered below 40% of their maximum output, as any more would render their emission bafflers useless. Although originally armed with a single Archer missile, recent refits have added two powerful pulse lasers for self-defense purposes.

There are also five GA-TL1 Longsword strikecraft embarked on the Artemis at all times. Built with a low, delta-shaped profile, the Longswords are intended to be used as a basic force for spatial superiority. Easy to modify to accommodate different mission requirements, they are not intended for stealth operations, and as such are usually only deployed when the crew know that they have been detected and need to fight. The longswords are divided up into flights based on their assigned role, with three outfitted as interceptors or fighters, two as dedicated bombers and the last being an asymmetrical warfare craft in the event the prowler is lost to enemy action.

Longsword AAO2

Officially, the longsword pilots are expected to destroy any opposition before they can get close enough to fire upon their host. Unofficially, they know they are almost-always going to be outmatched, being deployed only to delay the enemy long enough for the battlecruiser to escape. As a result, rather than make a run straight for incoming strikecraft, the Longswords adopt a cat-and-mouse mentality, using hit-and-run tactics to destroy as many enemy fighters as possible before escaping from the survivors. Kamikaze suicide runs are encouraged only against unshielded Covenant warships, where the pilots will crash their aircraft into their hangar to stop more Covenant strikecraft from launching. While somewhat effective against Seraphs, they are ineffective against the larger frigates and cruisers, ignorantly tanking their fire in favour of pursuing the escaping battlecruiser.

To help maintain awareness on the battlefield, the Artemis can deploy three SSD1 slipstream space probes. Measuring roughly four metres in diameter, the probes are designed to constantly phase between slipspace and realspace, so they have a sturdy design made almost entirely with Titanium-A. The exterior is pot-marked with hyper-sensitive lens capable of detecting everything from Microwaves to Gamma rays, and to a lesser extent gravitational anomalies. A retractable tightbeam laser is installed to transmit the data back to the mothership, yet it has no engine at all and so cannot return without assistance from a Pelican dropship. This lack of propulsion, as well as the unreliability of where it will emerge when exiting slipspace, means that the crew treat these expensive pieces of hardware as disposable.

Under normal conditions, the battlecruiser is equipped with a "Shipboard Defense Unit", a small Marine unit used for basic defense of the vessel. Amounting to around a company in size, they are the smallest, most basic organisation that can be classified as an expeditionary force. Optimally more than 196 personnel in size, they are divided between the Marine Combat Element, Aviation Special Operations Element and Logistical Support Element. Because of its small size, they are stationed on every UNSC ship, and are usually temporary unit formed from larger Marine organisations. However, it is unusual for ships the size of an Artemis to not accept any larger units such as a Marine Expeditionary Force, and its often scrutinised as being insufficient to protect the vessel if it is ever boarded. In theory, the battlecruiser could comfortably carry up to two Shipboard Defen, although the maximum number any vessel has ever carried in practice is two.

The Marine Combat Element is the main fighting force of the Shipboard Defense Unit. Composed of around 140 personnel with only eight vehicles, the Marines are able to offer some level of ground control, as well as general defense of their host warship. Given the infrequency that they would be deployed on a planet's surface, they are primarily trained for boarding actions and cramped fighting in zero-g conditions, but are nevertheless given equipment to sustain a planetside operation. They are typically organised into:

  • 1 vehicular reconnaissance squad (2 M12 Warthogs, 6 M274 Mongooses):
  • 2 marine platoons (40-100 men)
    • 3-4 riflemen squads (24-52 men)
    • 1-2 heavy weapons and/or demolitions squads (16-26 men)
    • 1 marksman squad (8-13 men)
    • 1 combat engineer squad (8-13 men)
  • 2 ODST squads (16-26 men)

Rather than having an Aviation Combat Element stationed on most other ships of its size, the Artemis garrisons a single Aviation Special Operations Element. Made up of small vacuum-sealed spacecraft with stealth technologies, this unit is used to deploy small teams into areas of interest, such as space stations and planetside dig sites. Once on the ground, they double as forward bases to coordinate the operation, resupply ammunition and ferrying marines to and from the mothership. This is necessary, as they must uphold communications protocols to the strictest extent to avoid detection, often limiting them to the use of short-ranged transmissions only. However, as every aircraft is only modestly armed with light anti-personnel weapons, they can be easily defeated by even the lightest of fighters unless an escort is organised to protect them. It is made up of 36 personnel, divided between the following:

The Logistical Support Element tends to be the smallest section of the Shipboard Defense Unit, although this is not always true as it has a tendency to vary in size from mission-to-mission. Anyone not intended to work directly in combat operations, such as engineers, medical practitioners and officers are assigned to this unit. While the bulk of the personnel are left on the battlecruiser, some staff are permitted to leave to coordinate and support operations in the field. In addition, surplus soldiers intended to replace casualties in the field are also temporarily assigned here. It's typically ranges in about twenty people in size, although it can rise up to forty or fifty prior to high-risk operations. On an Artemis, such operations are virtually non-existent.

Crew

As previously stated, an Artemis battlecruiser has an optimal crew of 760 people and a single "Smart" AI. This is a much smaller number than those on contemporary cruisers, whose crew counts tends to reach the low thousands. The main reason for this is because Artemis is built to take advantage of the newest automation innovations made in recent years. These developments have allowed such a small crew to manage such a large vessel by supplementing their existing skills with an advanced network interface and robotic access.

The ship's Smart AI is perhaps the most important part of the crew. Given access to nearly every part of the ship, with the exception of the backup data caches separate from the main computer network, the AI is integral in allowing the ship to fight as efficiently as possible. It is capable of rewriting weapon scripts to adapt to enemy tactics, managing the exterior repair drones and if possible engaging in cyber-warfare on the enemy ship, often doing all of this simultaneously. Although most of the processing power to do this is provided from within the AI Core, it can increase this for itself or a sophisticated cyber program by hijacking one of the sixteen interlinked servers present all over ship. These are directly connected to the AI by powerful fibre optic cables, minimising lag while maximising coordination between its programs. By using these servers, an AI could in theory have enough processing power to fly an Artemis without human assistance, despite concerns on its effect to its overall lifespan. This level of freedom has led to rampancy becoming a very real issue should it manifest in the AI, and as a result the captain and the electronic warfare officer are both able to lock out the AI from all other networks should they believe the program to be a danger to the crew.

Sensors and communications

Artemis Sensor Pylon
close-up on the battlecruiser's main sensor array, located at the tip of its bow.

Complementing its exceptionally-powerful main guns is a large selection of scanning systems designed to monitor a number of different spectrums, ensuring the captain can always be aware of everything around it. These can range from the tried-and-true configurations such as RADAR and LIDAR sensor dishes, however, the most effective comes from the cutting-edge ORACLE-class sensor suite. Manufactured on a case-by-case basis within the Office of Naval Intelligence, the ORACLE is humanity's first attempt at creating a scanner designed to detect subtle gravitational wave fluctuations between masses in space. To detect these, the antennae are covered with hundreds of individually-articulating fins which when combined pick up slight changes in the local waves down to one part in 1052 - enough to detect a body weighing twenty-one million tonnes at ten kilometres away in a gravitational field generated by a standard planet. While later revisions would increase the distance to fourteen kilometres, it was still an incredible development which allowed the Artemis to gain important insight into any enemy forces in the area at faster speeds than traditional electromagnetic spectrum-based systems can. As gravity waves are generated by mass itself, it is nearly impossible . However, before it can be used, it must spend six minutes synchronising to local conditions or otherwise its accuracy will suffer. Another flaw lies in its delay - while gravity waves travel at faster-than-light speeds, the dedicated computer requires several seconds to process the data into something readable to humans. Nevertheless, the ability to detect cloaked vessels while giving off no indication they are being scanned is seen as an incredibly-valuable tactical asset. Alternatively, the fins can align themselves within the local magnetic field to detect tiny intersections generated by ships, at a quicker refresh rate than the normal mode. So powerful is this system that the ORACLE still remained cutting-edge technology even decades after being introduced.

Countermeasures

Stealth Systems

"We were patrolling the cluster for weeks when we encountered a single unidentified vessel. We proceeded to stalk it for almost four days continuously, following them around, waiting for them to show us where their base of operations were. I've never seen so many surprised faces - hell, even I was expecting our cover to blow within a hour of being there."
―Captain Blaire's journal, dated from the Artemis' tests in 2537.

Perhaps the vessel's most significant division from traditional ships of the line was it's focus on cloaking technologies to enable it to survive. While not as technologically sophisticated or as effective as those on smaller prowlers, it allows the battlecruiser to survive in places where larger vessels would not, stalking patrolling Covenant warships until it has the perfect opportunity to fire.

The first defense against detection is from a thin layer of penta-walled stealth nanotube paint added to the top of the armour. It is composed mostly of Carbon but also mixed with compounds such as Trifluroditanlalum Hydroxide and Scandium Carbide suspended in a clear non-reflective resin, all of which were chosen for their ability to absorb radio and microwaves while keeping the scattering and reflection of the other rays to a minimum. This allows the paint to reduce the ship's RADAR cross-section while still remaining invisible to high-imaging LIDAR sensors of most other human ships, ensuring it's hard to detect at both short and long ranges. However, the most effectiveness comes from the multiple layers of split-ring resonators. Made out of Copper foil on a dielectric backing, each layer in the seven-centimetre thick plate features different-sized resonators to better combat a specific frequency of electromagnetic waves, redirecting them away from the enemy. The stealth plating was incredibly fragile and required hours of expensive maintenance to ensure the plating's reliability - a problem which was later solved by implementing the stealth structure into removable tiles to vastly hasten the process. This innovation is only found in the battlecruisers produced after 2540.

Role & Tactics

The Artemis-class was usually only used in operations surrounding two main objectives; to search for any Covenant staging areas in remote areas, and to support local forces by coordinating their efforts or offering fire support. In the former, they are required to enter the system they are investigating under stealth conditions, though this meant that they couldn't carry nukes as the radiation they emitted instantly revealed themselves to the Covenant. Standard scouting tactics call for these ships to be deployed in pairs to cover their blind spots, otherwise they must periodically turn sideways or rely on their air wing to detect any enemy ships following them from behind. Crews are encouraged to enter nebulae and asteroid belts to hide themselves from Covenant sensors, though few do so due as the former's radiation makes it difficult to detect anything further than a couple of kilometres while the latter often deals severe damage to their superstructure from collisions.

When operating within fleets, these vessels are often chosen as flagships by admirals, though some junior naval officers often remark they chose this ship so they can retreat as soon as things turn sour. While cowardice did play a role in some choices, the main reason is because the battlecruiser comes with impressive communications and targeting array, only further improved by a command suite so often installed. The Artemis' heavy communications equipment can keep them in contact with the entire fleet unless the most sophisticated jamming devices are deployed. Since the battlecruiser's sensors are among the best in the UNSC, the battlegroup's firing solutions are slaved to it to improve not only range, but also timing, allowing the fleet to deal as much damage as possible before the shields can adapt to the incoming barrage.

Weaknesses and Counter-tactics

"Rey- Captain! The Destroyer has teleported four hundred metres off our starboard stern. Reading multiple hull breaches across all decks. Severe damage dete-!"
―Black box from the UNSC Iron Throne, showing one way an Artemis can be destroyed.

Despite their high praise, there are numerous weaknesses which could be exploited to quickly turn the tables on the UNSC. As stated before, the main hull was comparatively thin, being thinner than that on the far smaller Halberd-class destroyer. While already at a disadvantage, the Artemis is poorly suited to fighting at anything closer than ten kilometers. Its secondary armaments of eight Archer missile pods are smaller than those on ships several times smaller, making it nearly helpless if its foe was anywhere else except directly in front of it. It also proved to be vulnerable to Seraph strafing runs, who could easily evade its anti-fighter defenses and land a damaging hit on its lightly-armoured sides.

Despite their superior agility compared to other cruisers and relatively-fast slipspace speeds, they are still far slower than their Covenant equivalents. This often forced their captains to self-destruct their ships, since a single Covenant frigate is enough to quickly puncture its hull and pursue the battlecruiser if it attempted to run. Energy projectors are also highly effective, as they can gut a battlecruiser at ranges which would normally be considered untouchable to Covenant weaponry.

A number of tactics have been seen used by the Covenant, despite their slowness to adapt to UNSC strategies. Late in the war, Covenant warships began to hide behind sufficiently-large bodies, such as an asteroid or even a helpless space station. While the Artemis moved to retrieve a targeting solution, the Covenant could fire guided plasma torpedoes around the obstacle and destroy them. Another tactic, one only seen in the final battles of the War, was when entire Covenant battlegroups could initiate an in-system slipspace jump to close in on the vulnerable UNSC forces, destroying entire fleets before the UNSC captains could react.

Operational History

Development

Old Orion

The Artemis' initial prototype prior to its destruction. Notice it's sturdy design and overwhelming numbers of Archer Missiles.

The concepts for the Artemis battlecruiser's earliest designs began in 2533 under Reyes-Mclees Shipyards (RMS) contract to construct a replacement to the UNSC's aging fleet of capital ships. Concerned that their previous design doctrine may no longer seem attractive to their customers, RMS' executives agreed to negotiate a partnership with Io Design Laboratories (IDL), a subsidiary company known for their ties to high-quality components. The companies were, at this point, quite close, collaborating frequently thanks to RMS' founder being a former IDL employee. The partnership involved IDL developing or acquiring new technologies while also diverting some of their design staff to assist with designing the new ship. RMS would provide ultimate oversight of the project, now dubbed the ARTEMIS programme, adjusting the design brief at times to influence the final model.

Development on the original model was remarkably swift, with Io finalising blueprints quickly enough to enable the construction of a prototype in late 2535. Although downscaled to a mere one and a half kilometers, the first prototype was a brute of a warship which took into account the previous combat data on RMS' earlier ships. With its four metres of Titanium-A2 battleplate, an internal bracing system derived from the infamous Halcyon-class and hundreds of Archer and Howler missiles, the prototype was built to tank the earliest salvos of any engagement to allow its fleet to take down the Covenant's shielding, before rushing in and destroying them with its missiles. Unfortunately, the theory was anything but sound, and the prototype's flaws surfaced prior to its destruction during the Battle of Jericho VII. This led to the UNSC Navy rejecting the design, as the limited evidence recovered suggested the ship's extensive use of explosive weapons could be as dangerous to its crew as to its intended enemy.

Going back to the drawing board, IDL spent the next year and a half attempting to remove that flaw. Expecting it to be an easy fix, the company moved more than half the team onto other projects. While its exposed missile flaw was rectified, the UNSC would again turn it down - its unreasonable construction time would result in too few being built to serve in the war, its intended role and missile focus both contributed to its expensive maintenance costs, and finally its purpose would encourage it to participate in suicide charges, taking with it an unacceptable loss in manpower. This setback would cost IDL dearly, with RMS threatening to cancel the partnership if no results were produced a month later. To attempt to meet the deadline, IDL moved to developing a variant off one of the classes already in service, with a rough sketch appearing very similar to the final look of the Artemis being among them. The design was submitted to RMS for fabrication, yet the shipbuilding giant would still cancel their partnership, condemning IDL to bankrupts. While IDL would sell off its assets and eventually be bought completely by Imbrium Machine Complex, RMS would refine the design before submitting it to the UNSC for testing.

Human-Covenant War

Taking its name from the ill-fated development programme that it was part of, the UNSC Artemis was launched in the first half of 2537, and participated in several counter-insurgency operations over the course of three months. The results were exceptional; of its seventeen attacks against known Insurrectionist stations and ships, each one with the exception of the last were destroyed without being detected or observed. In the last case, the Artemis was forced to work with an Insurrectionist flotilla of three transports and a frigate after a small battlegroup of Covenant warships arrived. Together they destroyed a CCS-class battlecruiser and its two escorting corvettes, at the cost of the Insurrectionist frigate. Despite it being heavily damaged by the end of the engagement, it's unprecedented victory over an equivalent number of Covenant vessels removed any doubt from the minds of commanders who worried of the battlecruiser's usefulness in combat scenarios and immediately led to the class' approval for production.

In spite of the prototype's success, the class only truly distinguished itself during the Skirmish over Kingston in 2539. Consisting only of the UNSC Artemis and the UNSC Odin, Battlegroup Artemis would encounter a lone CAS-class assault carrier above the glassed planet. Recognising the opportunity to deal a serious hit the Covenant's morale, the battlegroup would engage the carrier at 1912 hours, when the battlegroup opened fire when the carrier began turning to face them. Despite losing the Odin to enemy fire and being heavily-damaged from the swarms of Covenant strikecraft, the battlegroup was successful in forcing down the carrier. As such a massive target had never been destroyed by such a small force, the skirmish highly publicised and caused the UNSC to allow the vessel to enter mass-production, albeit with the option to produce it without its potent stealth features. Such was the hope it represented during this time that the battlecruiser was quite literally considered to be a turning point in the war.

Ships of the Line

Super optimal
The author, Sev40 urges and gives permission for any user who references this unit or vessel, Artemis-class Battlecruiser, to add their article to the "Known" list below.


 Name   Hull Classification Symbol   Built   Destroyed   Notes 

Block I

The UNSC Navy originally placed an order for twenty battlecruisers, however due to escalating costs in maintaining their stealth plating, only six would be completed. They were commissioned between 2537 and 2539.

UNSC Artemis CB-132 April 4th 2537 August 14th 2552 Lead ship of the class, assisted with the kill of an Assault Carrier over Kingston, destroyed during the Fall of Reach.
UNSC Neith's Scepter CB-133 November 23rd 2537 December 6th 2538 (MIA) Outfitted with a Saddlebox drive, lost during transit.
UNSC Odin CB-134 January 2nd 2538 March 16th 2538 Destroyed an Assault Carrier over Kingston, destroyed during the same engagement.
UNSC Apsat CB-137 February 13th 2540 May 5th 2549 Destroyed during the Siege of Miridem.

Block II

Beginning production after the Navy's order for 375 more vessels was processed, the second block would incorporate various improvements intended to reduce the logistical and construction costs of these vessels. They were commissioned between 2540 and 2551, with construction occurring above Mars and other worlds which held its manufacturing license.

UNSC Orion CC-138
UNSC Lelantos' Favour CC-139 March 9th 2540 N/A Flagship of the 9th Defense Fleet, now leading Battlegroup Zulu.
UNSC Woden's Spear CC-142 September 14th 2541 2548 Disappeared following the Battle of Skopje, rediscovered and destroyed by SPARTAN team Victor-Four.
UNSC Ares' Fist CC-144 June 12th, 2542 Destroyed during the Siege of Paris IV.

UNSC Remarks

"The spook's propaganda doesn't lie - one of the best sights of the war is when you see that gator silhouette against the sunset, then a blinding beam bisecting a Covvie cruiser in half."

Gallery

Trivia

  • This article is based off the ship of the same name which appears in the mod "Sins of the Prophets".
  • Each battlecruiser is named after a mythological deity, specifically those associated with hunting, battle and war.

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