MCSV Celestial Praxis
The Manifold Conservation Society Vessel Celestial Praxis (also abreviated MCSV Celestial Praxis, or just the Celestial Praxis for short) is the largest known dieseltech airship. It was constructed at a Medial E/Dorsal G shipyard skystation operated by the MCS Bureau of Defense. It generally lingers in Dorsal G airspace, ready to cross the inflection layer to defend Conservatorship assets in Medial E should the need arise. Originally constructed under intense secrecy as both an extension of Bunker Primus and as an implement of total war, the Celestial Praxis is better known for being one of the greatest boondoggles in the Manifold's long history of aviation. While the vessel is certainly a formidable military asset, its utility is somewhat undermined by the fact that not all commissures within the Manifold are easily traversed by a mile-wide vessel. The Celestial Praxis' engineering crew are capable of expanding commissures to permit slow traversal, given enough time, but time would be of the essence in the case of Manifold-wide conflict. The major Medial powers, upon discovering the existence of the Celestial Praxis, made big shows of installing statite minefields and excavation explosives in and around the commissures to prevent full-scale incursions into their territories; the resulting debris would halt all inter-cube air travel for a long time if these devices were triggered. The failure of operational security regarding Celestial Praxis ensured that the vessel would only be useful far from the Medial Tesseract, and even then only in a limited capacity. To this day, the Celestial Praxis serves mostly to defend the inter-tesseract boundary of Manifold Conservation Society territory, though the terrible threat it represents to the enemies of the Conservatorship still lingers in the minds of other Medial military leaders.
The central diesel turbines of the Celestial Praxis produce baseline power for the vessel, though thermal-electric generators tied into the heat management systems allow the Celestial Praxis to also make use of waste heat as long as the external environment is cool enough. Several algal breeder reactors serve to convert any waste the vessel's crew might produce into usable biodiesel. The Celestial Praxis' diesel turbines were carefully designed for efficiency over output thrust to promote maximal self-sufficiency; the vessel has an effectively infinite loiter time with proper management and maintenance.
The Celestial Praxis is the largest known aerostat within the Manifold. As a geodesic sphere roughly one mile in diameter, the vessel's enclosed space frame encapsulates such a large volume of air that the mere presence of people and machinery within it provides enough heat to render the whole vehicle buoyant. Massive diesel turbines along the vessel's central axis draw in air from the surrounding environment, heat it, and force it out of variable louvers spread arranged around the space frame, allowing the vessel to employ thrust vectoring and maintain centrifugal artificial gravity for the crew.
Weapons & Armament
The Celestial Praxis' centrifugal equator is studded with artillery emplacements for consecutive bombardments of surface targets; while these remain untested, the League Army estimates that such a sustained bombardment could destroy even sturdy underground bunkers should the vessel linger long enough. 45 degrees forward and aft of the equator are a series of flak emplacements to deter aerial attack. The Bureau of Defense 5th Airborne Division has provided a complement of 500 soldiers, including 100 suits of auto-armor, to facilitate boarding and counter-boarding operations, along with an additional 500 special forces operatives to deal with nearby ground installations. Numerous aerial insertion pods are housed within the Celestial Praxis' hangar to allow for drop deployment of troops from the relative safety of an inflection layer. Rumors abound that some of the Celestial Praxis' artillery shells contain billowing hate warheads. The Manifold Conservation Society refuses to confirm or deny any such rumors, lending the Celestial Praxis a dreadful mystique in the popular consciousness.
Armor and defense
The Celestial Praxis features a multi-layered design, with thin internal membranes further subdividing the interior for damage control purposes. In the event of a hull breach, secondary radiators can be employed to increase the internal heat of the remaining subdivisions to counteract any loss of buoyancy. These subdivisions also serve to provide quarantine barriers in the event of biological, radiological, or chemical assault. The inner surface of the inner envelope layer is mirrored to help trap solar-thermal energy in the central areas of the vessel, away from the inhabited sections where such heat might be uncomfortable for humanoids. As an enormous geodesic sphere, the spaceframe of the Celestial Praxis is immensely durable, resisting all but the most devastating blasts. As an object which is mostly hollow and conceals its relatively small critical systems inside, as in most dieseltech airships, scoring a critical hit on the Celestial Praxis is extremely difficult with directed weapons. As a vehicle with multiple redundant systems, even a direct hit is unlikely to instantly destroy the vessel. The Celestial Praxis is treated by the Manifold Conservation Society as projecting a three mile sphere of national sovereignty from its center, as though it were a permanent MCS installation; the vessel possesses a staff of civil administrators to contest any territorial claims in the legal realm. For all practical purposes, this region of airspace is also considered sovereign to the MCS by virtue of the fact that the Celestial Praxis has sufficient firepower to enforce civil air defense within it.
Communication Tools & Systems
If it were to fully activate it's mile-long, multi-frequency radio mast, the Celestial Praxis would be the single most powerful radio source in the Manifold, possibly even outshining the Navigator's Guild's Castle of Aurorae in terms of raw intensity. This would overwhelm most external communications and effectively jam the spectrum in the vessel's current tesseract and any tesseract adjacent to the one it currently occupies. However, in the interest of secrecy and the continuing image of pacifism, the Celestial Praxis currently only operates its radio equipment in a low-power capacity. For visual communication, various lighting arrays around the vessel's exterior skin allow the Celestial Praxis to communicate in plain text or flash code. Mounts for naval flags are present for use in the event of a total power failure, though these have never been used.
The Celestial Praxis employs a complex inertial guidance system with a bank of advanced dieseltech computers at its core. This allows it to be one of the few vessels in the Manifold with no need for Navigator's Guild navigators. Closed-circuit television cameras positioned at and around the vessel's axial poles allow navigation, docking, and gunnery operations to be conducted remotely, providing additional protection for the crew. The Celestial Praxis' broadcasting power is matched by its radio sensitivity. The vessel employs several Bureau of Defense cryptographers, analysts, and signals intelligence officers who use this facility to passively intercept communications from the great Medial powers. According to analysts from the Voxelia College of Bards, occasional number station broadcasts from the Celestial Praxis indicate that the Manifold Conservation Society fields a network of spies to ensure its own security, a fact which has led to aggressive counterintelligence efforts on the part of the Voxelian bards-recursant.
Additional & auxiliary systems
The labyrinthine wiring harness of the Celestial Praxis was designed with extensibility and adaptability in mind, as the operating lifespan of the vessel was expected to be long enough that technology would inevitably advance while it was still in operation. While the vessel was partially conceived of as an implement of military deterrence, it was also constructed with the Conservatorship's founding dictates in mind. To this end, the Celestial Praxis does employ a diverse civilian crew (albeit one sworn to secrecy on pain of death), and features comfortable extended living accommodations, closed-loop hydroponic life support systems, seed vault, laboratory spaces, and a microfilm library (currently a cutting-edge technology). In the event of an apocalypse caused by weapons of mass destruction or natural disaster, enough supplies are present aboard the Celestial Praxis to allow the crew to recolonize a barren Manifold. In this sense, the Celestial Praxis might be considered a skystation which serves as an extension of Bunker Primus.
Hangars & docked vessels
An extendable docking truss and internal hangar spaces located at the forward end of the vessel allow the Celestial Praxis to provide drydock and resupply services to other airships. The Celestial Praxis has three stowed airships within it of roughly the size of a N3 "Honeyguide" Air Cog, as well as numerous fixed-wing fighter craft and ground support autogyros. The airships within the Celestial Praxis are designed primarily to be able to launch and recover aircraft, as most non-buoyant aircraft would not be able to reach the Celestial Praxis at its operational ceiling of an inflection layer, though they can also ferry limited amounts of personnel, cargo, and empty insertion pods. This complement of auxiliary aircraft is intentionally kept small enough to not allow all crew to evacuate in a timely manner in the event of a total system failure. Remaining crew are tasked with ensuring that, in the event of a crash, no useful intelligence may be gathered from the wreckage.
The Great Project
A Beginning Borne of the End
Complement / Crew
2000 permanent crew members (plus visiting airship crews)