PVU Southern Light
The PVU Southern Light is a mobile remote operations base commissioned by Petalcap Vale University to serve as a mobile research outpost on the Caudal F2 cube face.
ProductionThe Southern Light was manufactured by Vale Mechatronics in 9994 AR and tested on the company's proving grounds in Petalcap Vale. Unfortunately, while all vehicles of Vale origin are designed to handle colder environments than most dieseltech vehicles, the company's study of Caudal weather conditions - especially near the commissures leading into the Eastern-aligned (and therefore extremely dry) Caudal C cube - had failed to account for the true extremity of cold possible in such environments.
The MissionOn the morning of Dakuni, Ikirsten 7, 9996 AR, the Southern Light was dropped in segments from PVCA South - a skystation operated by the Petalcap Vale Customs Authority -onto the target cube layer. This drop was immediately followed by crew and luggage drops, but no passengers were delivered as of yet. PVCA weather reports had failed to predict the record-setting cold snap which had overtaken the landing zone overnight, casting the whole landscape in black ice which was difficult to discern from orbit. Upon dropping to around 10,000' in altitude above the surface, the vehicle segments encountered a pocket of dry air so extremely cold that the biodiesel in the engineering segment began to jelly and the fuel biosynthesis tank began to freeze over despite insulation, though the crew above was unaware of these complications during the fall. The sudden change in atmospheric pressure also caused the ballutes to which the segments and other components of the drop to suddenly change buoyancy, sending all the drops wide of their original landing zone and into a rockier patch of ground than initially intended. The crew members huddled in their drop pods were able to share enough heat to prevent immediate frostbite, but quickly ascertained that something was amiss. Upon landing and assessing their situation, the crew discovered that the Southern Light had suffered structural damage from the unexpectedly rocky landing. Furthermore, the biodiesel, coolant, drinking water, and sewage treatment lines had frozen through their protective jackets, causing damaging expansion. This meant that, even had the power plant not been choked with jellied biodiesel, bringing the life support utilities of the vehicle online would take a lot of time - time that the crew did not have, as the weather was getting colder and the daylight would not last forever. Lastly, as the segments were more scattered than expected, it would take several days to get them all together to complete assembly. The crew persisted in trying to establish the Southern Light for two days, though they found that the freeze-drying conditions significantly hampered their progress. Since it was unknown how long the cold snap would last, the crew were forced to make a decision: remain in situ to repair the Southern Light, risking frostbite and hypothermia despite their advantageous verdial physiology, or call for emergency recovery. With heavy hearts, the crew chose the latter. On Ikirsten 10, the crew were retrieved by the PVCA airship Magnapon, abandoning the Southern Light.
AftermathEvery summer since 9996 AR. PVU expeditions have spent three months at a stretch attempting to render the PVU Southern Light operational. The vehicle was a significant investment on the part of the University, and many would consider it a shame to waste such an impressive piece of equipment. Unfortunately, every year also causes additional degradation to the vehicle's components: the interior of the vehicle was, until recently, open to the elements by dint of being damaged in an unassembled state. The 9999 AR expedition managed to finally weather-seal the segments and left additional tools and replacement parts at the landing site. This, they hope, will allow the expedition of 10,000 AR to finally make the Southern Light operational once more.
Armor and defense
In addition to the usual defensive elements of an MROB, the PVU Southern Light features a series of electromagnetic coil 'trees.' These trees poduce a strong electromagnettic field around the vehicle and its immediate environs for so long as the internal power supply is active. This feature is important because, as the Southern Light is meant to explore the Southern Tesseract, it must contend with seasonal charged particle radiation; indeed, the vehicle is named after the colorful auroras that dance especially brightly in the summer and winter skies.
20 mph (currently immobile)
Complement / Crew
12-16 operating crew members (captain, helmsman, navigator, communications officer, 2 dieseltech engineers, 2 doctors, 2 construction auto-armor pilots, 2 scout autogyro pilots, plus up to 4 gunners)
Cargo & Passenger Capacity
50 passengers (separate drop) plus baggage (stowed in side/rear cargo meshes)