[^Above is the picture of a Barnacle pilot, sealed into a sturdy suit in case of ejection or need to transfer from a Barnacle to the piggyback ship or vice versa. Artwork by me]
The Barnacle has risen from drawing board idea to thorn in the side of Corporations everywhere within a few years. In times gone by, the lawless rebels, pirates and other deviants on the Galactic Rim would do battle with cheap and/or old, decrepit combat ships. Warp capability would be the first must-have and everything else came second. The arrival of the powerful Corpers changed this. One rebel group, led by Fashion and Gogli, got together with the Poor Yorick mercenaries and Quo anti-slavers to create the Barnacle. The first priority was to find a way to transport the ship through hyperspace without the need for an expensive drive system. Engineers came up with the fiendishly simple 'hook/leech' system, allowing the fighter to hook onto any sufficiently sized friendly ship and leech power, as well as piggy back into warp.
The Barnacle, like it's name-sake, is tough. It can take a beating and still come back for more. The disc on one side is a modular attachment, amplifying shielding, and the armour isn't too shabby, either. As a third back-up the design features redundant systems, allowing some lucky pilots to bring ships back from the dead of disablement during combat.
The ship is, however, notoriously slow. Even in prone mode, with the heavy ion cannon folded up, manoeuvring thrusters offline and that energy diverted to engines, the top line speed is nothing to write home about, making hit and run attacks with a Barnacle a no-no.
The ion cannon folds out for the second mode of operation: for battle. Top speed drops dramatically in battle mode, energy diverted to give the cannon power and to supply the manoeuvring thrusters, helping the ship become ever harder to hit.
The ion cannon itself is powerful, but only suitable for disabling electric systems. The weaker, secondary weapons are used to finish prey off. Or, even better, other ships acting as back-up.
Indeed, the Barnacle has become a thorn in the side of many Corporation Commanders. Many a loss has been taken by a zealous corper sneaking up on a small freighter only to find two Barnacles dropping out of it's dorsal folds. Fortunately for the corporations, the Barnacle is not a production line fighter. They are made by specialists, in workshops, which is probably the only reason they are not the defence ship of choice on the Outer Rim and beyond.
[[Easily my favourite ship made so far. The disc can be removed and replaced with engines or weapons, and my main IC character flies a prototype of one.]]