The Mineral & Fusion Corporation has long since been known for their ‘cookie cutter’ designs.
It often works to their favour in that such designs are cheap and easy to manufacture, but there is historically little in the way of the MFC faction directly influencing space-based warfare. They normally focus on the current fad – producing ships to fill the ranks rather than tip the balance, but every now and again as luck might have it, they strike gold.
The ‘Hermes’ in principle was designed to provide part of a carrier group solution, intended that two or three are deployed as a wing. Compare that to the PLC factions ‘Sadalbari’ which was designed as the mainstay of a group; dedicated to both that and Command, you might think it falls a little short of the mark but then again in both procurement and production, the Hermes is nearly half the cost.
The Hermes might also carry half the number of Carried units but it matches the Sadalbari’s might in armament with 2 Extra-Large (XL) and 2 Large (L) turret hard points. On paper that makes it an exceptional ship, but its influence on the arena of Shallow Space was far more pronounced that the ships mere specification.
Before the Hermes came along Carrier operations were out of reach for many, reserved for the highest echelons within a respective faction. But now with some skill, a Carrier can be deployed cheaply as part of an attack force rather than a dedicated combat function and with that; sales of the Hermes blueprint sky rocketed.
The Hermes is credited with truly diversifying the art of space-based combat beyond even the Battlecruiser, because it indirectly forced the Terran Confederate Navy to drastically consider the way it applied itself to the theatre. Previously, Naval fleets would occupy planets in the imperium applying martial protocols to space traffic as the need arose but when that big Naval fleet arrived everyone else made a swift exit. The Hermes exaggerated this game of cat and mouse by enabled guerrilla operatives to deliver precision raids with the deed long done before even the picket could arrive.
It was not a situation gone unnoticed and so the Highest Honourable James Thorensenan, Field Marshall of the Terran Confederate Navy, petitioned the Council of Admirals for federal approval of an elite Naval force known as the ATU or ‘Adaptive Tactical Unit.’ The force has a very broad remit, with the usual restrictions on the building of ships and acquisition of personnel lifted. The ATU can disguise their identity, even adopting custom hull markings, but remain attached Naval personnel under the general jurisdiction of Federal Fleet Command. The ATU is designed to ‘seed’ naval presence in a system, not enough to deter full-scale campaigns, but enough to supplement allied faction forces in local defence, and operate in other capacities as the council sees fit.
As a consequence once rogue pirate forces gathered into a serious organisation and the previously enumerable mercenary entities started to band together into an alliance. With the notion of a lone trader now a proverbial death sentence, strength lay in numbers and factions as absolute entities arose polarising space traffic; all this leading to the very premise of Shallow Space.
History accredits this largely to the inclusion of this mere ‘cookie cutter’ ship into the ranks and nobody denies it; for the Hermes by namesake alone, is the most infamous ship of the century.