Chapter 6:


From Nowhere to Sender

Crusaders as they are known today, first came to fruition during the latter half of the First Crusade as a potential solution for the transport of both troops and ordinance across an impossibly long war front. Debates still rage amongst historians over which of the three warring nations was the first to bring the land cruisers to fruition. As the creator's heritage remains unknown, lost during the madness of war. For starters the cruisers were never intended to be named for the war that forged them nor were they meant to have such a bloody legacy, this much was known and supported by the lack of armaments in copies of the original designs.

According to a theory put forth by once renowned historian and engineer Eu-Leon Basel, their creator attributed the onset of war to a lack of proper face to face communication between nations steeped in their respective cultures. He hoped the land cruisers would make the trade of goods and ideas between these cultures easier and more prosperous. A more connected world would be a more understanding one, or so it goes. This theory slowly fell out of favor due to the timing in which the Crusaders first appeared. If the creator's goal had been peace and unity, why unveil the plans of such a machine during a time when they would undoubtedly be used to extend the reach of the war.

Regardless of its origin the first Crusaders were far from a finished product. The first iteration, dubbed the Class 1 Crusader, had a fatal flaw relating to its experimental aeriform engine. When the cruisers passed a certain threshold of operating speed and output, the engine and by association the Crusader itself became prone to momentary ignition, followed by a powerful detonation. After learning of the defect rather than stop using the Crusaders for transport, commanders boiled the detonation conditions down to a science and used them as sacrificial pawns to create openings in enemy lines or take out artillery positions. A tactic that remained prevalent for the remainder of the First Crusade.

This class of Crusader remained in widespread use all the way through the peace period and minor exodus. But as the likelihood of a Second Crusade loomed the remaining two nations began to look into creating a second iteration that could surpass the first. Interestingly enough engineers and scientists from the two nations reportedly collaborated on a new class of Crusader that moved away from the use of the aeriform engine design. And the results were catastrophic, or at least that's how the stories go.

Both nations denied working together at all and claimed the reports of a failed Crusader class were obvious propaganda to belittle the other nations engineering acumen. Reports of espionage were also rampant at the time making these rumors even less plausible. Whether or not the collaboration was true, one or both nations did attempt a new class of Crusader at one point or another. It took a considerable amount of time, but this was proven when a copy of the next know Crusader class, orchestrated by engineer Rams Morden, was found.

Specifically the blueprints for a reworked version of the original aeriform engine, titled "Class 3 Crusader Engine Design." Implying a Class 2 Crusader had been designed and possibly tested at some point in the years since the first Crusade. Yet no such schematic or designs for it have ever been found. This Class 3 Crusader was introduced in the Second Crusade as a far more efficient iteration of the first that notably didn't explode when pushed to its limits thanks to safety adjustments made to the engine.

Following the end of Second Crusade and the major exodus that came after, the Class 3 Crusader was repurposed to meet the transportation needs of goods and resources. Still serving as the backbone of the Luridian Convoy Federation some sixty years later.

While there is no known Class 4 Crusader in the works many changes have been made to the Class 3. Evolved to better fit their purpose as the Expanse's delivery agents. For example, while the threat of boarding remains a lack of impending artillery fire meant a move away from the application of heavy armor and mounted gun turrets. Their removal significantly reduced the operating weight of Crusaders, making them far more efficient and less prone to engine strain. The welcome change also allowed for more overall space onboard which gave way to further innovations. Like some of the following.

The aeriform engine responsible for running these mechanical beasts was allotted enough space to justify its own room to house its components. The previously mentioned drop in weight coincided with an increase in the amount of cargo space, leading to an increase in each Crusaders dimensional weight and therefore potential profit margins. Engineers also looked for ways to improve the maneuverability and safety of onboard personnel. Bringing us to the modern layout of a Class 3 Crusader.

Now a modern Crusader consists of two levels, the lower of which accommodates the cargo bay and engine room. A T-shaped corridor connects the two rooms with either side of the T branching off to a pair of open-air platforms. These platforms connect the lower level to the upper level by way of metal stairs, the only other method of reaching the upper level being a single person ladder, positioned in the short corridor forming the base of the T, just beyond the cargo bay.

However, neither of the staircases lead to the entire upper level of the Crusader. They both lead to the front deck, which is strategically separate from the back deck of the upper level. Reason being the back deck is the only way to gain entry into the bridge of the Crusader. And the only safe way of reaching the back deck is the aforementioned single person ladder.

In other words, enemy combatants who've succeeded in boarding still have limited means of taking the bridge, while also providing security personnel with a viable choke point to fall back to. Should the bridge fall there are still methods for retaining some form of control over the Crusader, at least until an attempt at regaining control of the bridge can be organized and carried out. This method of retaining control relies on the understanding that the crew still holds the engine room, which can only be locked and unlocked from the inside. This method is risky and whether it's utilized comes down to a judgement call from the acting Convoy Commander or if necessary lower level engineer.

In terms of general safety, both upper and lower levels are equipped with tethering points, which coupled with railing improve stability and lessens the chances of being ejected from the moving Crusader. For more information regarding the makeup and operational procedures of a modern Crusader, please consult the LCF's Class 3 Crusader Manuel.