Not all police departments in the Verse can afford the latest and greatest in enforcement technology. Which is why you’re not likely to see an ASREV in operation on the Rim or even on less-affluent Border and Core worlds. But that doesn’t mean the local constabulary doesn’t need something fast and lethal to chase down lawbreakers. It’s on these worlds you might just catch a glimpse of the granddaddy of all short-range attack ships, the infamous Alliance Fast Attack Ship (AFAS).
Despite what Alliance propaganda corps. would have you to believe, the Independents didn’t start losing the Unification War from Day One. While the Alliance always had the edge in tech and resources, the Browncoats were smart guerrilla fighters who knew the landscape and how to take tactical advantage, even when they were hopelessly outgunned. One such example was the Firefly Series 3 military variant: Take a standard mid-bulk transport, slap some heavy armor and weapons on her, and you’ve got a powerful, relatively fast long range gunboat that’s cheap to build and operate. During the first months of the war, the Browncoats had near unchallenged control of the skies thanks to the 12th cavalry gunboats, which could slip in quick as you like and with their plasma packet cannon, open a sizable hole in the side of Alliance capital ships and then be gone before you can say “humped”.
It was at the Battle of Sturges when the Alliance unleashed their answer to the Firefly gunboat – the AFAS, the boat responsible for taking space superiority away from the Independents and making the gunboat all but obsolete.
The AFAS was small and quick, making it difficult for the gunboat’s railguns to target them. It had minimal armour, which it traded in favour of a couple small calibre turrets and two big cannons on the front. The tactic it used to down a gunboat was simple and effective: Attack in small three-ship wolf packs. While two AFAS hem their target in, firing turrets while staying clear of the gunboats weapons, the third drops in behind and cuts loose with those forward cannons. Among the Alliance, the AFAS were known simply as gunboat killers. Among the Independents, they were called “Shinigami”, fast and silent death for anyone caught in their crosshairs.
Many historians believe it was the deployment of the AFAS that turned the tide of war in favor of the Alliance. The Alliance pressed their advantage after Sturges, using their big ships for ground bombardment and to carry fleets of Shinigami, which ensured no Browncoat ever took to space again without paying the ultimate price.
Slower and less powerful than the ASREV they inspired, these days the Shinigami are a museum piece in most parts of The Verse. But it’s also true that they hold a special place of terror for Browncoat captains trying to eke out a living on the Raggedy Edge. And there are none drawing breath today that won’t tell you there is little they fear more than seeing one of these ghost ships bearing down on their boat, the eerie green glow of their forward cannons like fangs ready to bite.
- The creation of the AFAS is similiar to the creation of the destroyer and the torpedo gunboat to combat the torpedo boat.
- The fast attack craft are designed to attack larger ships with heavy weapons and use their speed to evade counter-fire.
- "Shinigami" is Japanese for Death, as in the Grim Reaper, but the Japanese believe that there are many Grim Reapers, not just one, and "Shinigami" is their word for these Reapers.
- According to the only statistics available on the Alliance Fast Attack Ship, from which this article is mostly quoted word for word, the AFAS is actually more expensive than the Alliance Short Range Enforcement Vessel, due to the ASREV's Average complexity and the Very High complexity of the AFAS. The AFAS also has more cannons and more armor than the ASREV. While this makes it ideal for its role at the Battle of Sturges, they would not be seen in less-affluent areas as stated at the beginning of the article, as it has been less than twenty years since the Battle of Sturges, meaning that no AFAS has Seen Better Days, and is therefore still a more expensive ship than an ASREV. They are also faster and more powerful than an ASREV, contrary to the ending paragraph.