EG-2 "Elegy" Space Vessel
The EG-2 "Elegy" Space Vessel is a rare form of autonomous spacecraft developed as a result of the Harkin Institute's Project Elegaic Totem. The EG-2 might be best described as a multi-role spacecraft, fighter, or combat drone - except for the fact that it is piloted by a heavily-augmented extracorporeal human brain rather than a remote interface, algorithm, or human-like artificial intelligence. Elegies are a rare class of miniaturized spacecraft that exist both as vehicles and personages by legal definition. Because the life support, cryostasis, sensors, and communications systems that maintain the health and sanity of the pilot-brain are inseparable from the vehicle as a whole, an Elegy's hull is considered the outermost extent of the pilot's 'body' for all intents and purposes. The process of being transposed into an Elegy is often undertaken in lieu of a restructuring where the patient's body overall cannot handle the strain or, in the case of career spacers looking to retire in exotic fasion, in lieu of retreating into residential medical facilities once old age takes hold. While the core elements of an Elegy are static - save for optional upgrades when medical and automation upgrades improve - the rest of the craft starts in a standardized configuration but undergoes significant changes over time as a result of the pilot's profession and personal whims. Everything from propulsion busses to tool arm packages, weapons to sensors, and sensors to aesthetic mods can be hooked up to the Elegy's highly-moddable frame. Over time, an Elegy becomes as personally identifiable as the person embedded within it, and no two vessels look alike once they leave the shipyards.
Banks of atomic batteries are the most common form of power supply for an Elegy, as these have a minimum of moving parts or circuitry and, thus, are extremely fault-tolerant. External power sources, such as fusion power plants or whatever a station at which the Elegy is docked uses, can be linked to the Elegy to provide additional energy for peripherals. Notably, because of the chemical auto-fabricators integrated into the Elegy's life support system, power is the only resource that the Elegy needs regularly; replacement parts and certain raw materials may be acquired from time to time as required, but all oxygen, water, and nutrition is carefully recycled for use and extremely little is lost in the course of a normal operating life.
A factory-stock Elegy is propelled through space by an electromagnetic mass driver that also serves as a weapon of last resort. Diamagnetic nanoparticles and water vapor are used for reaction mass, as this has minimal potential to cause damaging impact on objects not directly against the exhaust nozzle, but potentially any diamagnetic material can be used if properly ground up. Nearer to objects, like asteroids or space stations, movement across the surface can be accomplished via grabbing and pulling with the pair of manipulator arms that come standard on all Elegies. Drive systems are common upgrades on Elegies hoping to explore the outer reaches of the Evermorn System or even travel beyond to new star systems. While an Elegy can always hitch a ride on another spacecraft, he or she can also equip a dedicated drive system or, alternatively, be installed in slot normally reserved for a General Purpose Module within a modular spacecraft (i.e. a Tetrain Class Cruiser). The brain of an Elegy is located as close to the center of mass of the vessel as possible and couched in cushioning gel to give it exceptional resistance to the effects of high acceleration. The circulatory system is similarly centralized and features multiple redundancies; no single axis of acceleration can starve the brain completely of blood flow. For these reasons, an Elegy with an accessory drive system is nearly as maneuverable as a comparably-sized combat drone despite having a biological 'crew' component; Elegies who are also Cobalt Knights are among the only class of vessels in service that might be considered 'space fighters.'
Communication Tools & Systems
An Elegy can use the lasers in his or her multispectral scope array (see Sensors) to send tight-beam communications to recievers within a few light-minutes; the emitter being comparatively small and low-powered, the beam scatters enough beyond this range that messages become more difficult to discern. Microwave antennae provide omnidirectional communications capability. The Elegy also has a wide variety of hardline data connections for use when close to station or another vessel, though this may be limited by the plug types available. Elegies who were engineers in life have a cleverness borne of decades or centuries, and can often create unexpected connections or even hack into otherwise inaccessible hardware with enough time. To pass the time, Elegies are often avid consumers and creators of extranet content. In remote locales, they can gather together with more of their own kind and HLAI platforms to create exclusive, tight-knit social networks that provide the daily contact required to maintain sanity. A common upgrade sought after by Elegies is a database of various media content designed to create the illusion of this community even when the individual is in an isolated region of space, but occasional contact with the outside world is considered essential to maintaining psychological heath.
A stock Elegy percieves the world through a rostral multispectral scope and laser range finder array. The hull of an Elegy is also lined on the inside with two layers of flexion sensors; the outer layer is fixed to the hull to provide a sense of touch, while the inner layer is free-floating to detect acceleration and the presence of nearby gravity wells. Experienced Elegies can interpret fluctuations in their drives' magnetic fields (see Propulsion) to sense ferrous metals or currents in their vicinity as well.
Additional & auxiliary systems
The heavily-augmented brain of an Elegy is supported by chemical auto-fabricators, recycling systems, filtration systems, and diagnostic computer systems. The comparatively tiny volume of the brain and the lack of accesory biology means that many problems that affect larger creatures in space - such as a large radiation cross-section, needs for consumables, bone and muscle atrophy, cramped living conditions, and so forth - have less bearing on the life of an Elegy. A brain undergoes cryoprotectant therapy during the process of being installed into an Elegy chassis and, because it is of comparatively low volume and is being handled under controlled conditions, almost always undergoes complete seroconversion. While the dangers of cryostasis recovery syndrome are not wholly eliminated in Elegies, they are significantly reduced. Modern Elegies are always equipped with cryostasis systems, allowing them to enter torpor in response to limited resources or extended travel times. For this reason, Elegies are being considered for positions as pilots aboard long-haul spacecraft, such as sleeper ships travelling to and from Lepidos or as copilots alongside HLAI on future colonization vessels; indeed, had the Elegies been out of the experimental phase at the creation of the ESCI Dandelion, the Armoa Conflict might never have come about.