Stronghold-class Commerce Vessels are powerful Battleship-sized voidships that belong to the xenos species known as the Demiurg, a mercantile humanoid race allied to the Tau Empire. Stronghold-class Commerce Vessels are typical of the Demiurg's spacecraft and are extremely well-powered, large, and technologically-advanced starships. They serve as mobile factories or ore-processing vessels and often act as bases for the Demiurg which are moved between star systems and asteroid belts as they seek out richer sources of raw materials. These starships also often serve as bases for the Demiurg's fleet of intersystem asteroid mining pods, cargo-hauling flyers and prospector probes, many of which are believed to be automated. Typically, lone Demiurg Strongholds have been encountered in the flare or mercurial zones of uninhabited star systems, hanging motionless and prow-on to the star with a cloud of small craft busily hustling to and fro to exploit the local stellar and planetary resources.
In most cases these ships withdraw their small craft and disengage if challenged but in some instances have inexplicably turned on their attackers with a surprising ferocity. It is worthy of note that every known encounter between Demiurg and Ork vessels has resulted in combat and that Imperial renegade elements have often hired Demiurg vessels to fight as mercenaries in interplanetary and intersystem struggles. As warships, Demiurg vessels are slow but well-defended, boasting considerable firepower at close ranges due to its potent Lances and possession of a prow-based laser cutting beam intended to be used to slice apart asteroids for mining but easily repurposed to serve as a potent weapon. Stronghold-class vessels also maintain the capacity for launching mining craft reconfigured as Attack Craft and Torpedoes.
A notable trait of the Stronghold-class is its employment of an array of powerful electromagnetic fields around its prow to serve as a Bussard Scoop that will absorb interstellar hydrogen. This hydrogen is accelerated to the rear of the vessel to speeds near that of the speed of light to provide motive force as a ram-jet but the complex radiation shielding it requires evidently produces numerous other defensive benefits for the starship. This system is also used to power the specialised laser-based cutting beam the vessel employs for cracking asteroids or enemy ships as the circumstances require. This process is not understood by the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Tech-priests are eager to get their hands on an intact Demiurg vessel to analyze, though this opportunity has so far eluded them.
Scattered reports by Rogue Traders indicate that Stronghold-class starships serve as the homes for up to three Demiurg clans or "Brotherhoods" and essentially serve as the mobile fortresses of this nomadic species. The sociopolitical nature of Demiurg Brotherhoods or what the relationship between those who share a single vessel might be are not yet understood by Imperial scholars. Stronghold-class starships are often seen in uninhabited star systems with fleets of smaller ships moving resources to and from the vessel and a planet or asteroid, with the prow facing the star. It is possible that a Stronghold-class starship and the Demiurg's smaller Bastion-class Commerce Vessels form some extended affiliation but if this is the case each group must be widely scattered in different star systems light years apart. The one exception to this is when the Demiurg muster for war, as two or three Bastion-class starships gather to protect each Stronghold.
A Stronghold-class Commerce Vessel is essentially equivalent to an Imperial Battleship and is armed with weapons batteries on its port, starboard and prow sides, Lances to port and starboard, and a laser-based cutting beam on the prow. Its dorsal section maintains launch bays for up to three squadrons of mining craft reconfigured as fighters, bombers, and assault boats, and these can be double up to serve as six torpedo silos as necessity requires.
See Also Edit
- Battlefleet Gothic: To Unite the Stars - Tau Vessels, pp. 110-111