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Helexith Black Swallowtail Fighter . The deadly Mahlok butterfly. . The Helexith Hu-Kerza ("Black Swallowtail") Fighter Flight Capability: Air and Space, Long-range (Interstellar Drive) Armaments: 1 Starfire Cannon, 2 Plasma Cannons, 4 missile tubes, 2 "Firecan" Missile racks Capacity: 1 pilot As usual, don't forget to visit the Nova Refuge website! For years now, I've had my solid black "Voidfighter" sitting around in my room, half-built and half-destroyed, and ever since I made the grey Voidfighter into the Grimm's Army Vulture Fighter, I've been planning to turn the black one into a Mahlok ship. Well, now I've finally done it! The Mahlok have always been interested in Human fighter designs. When the now-notorious Stormflyer Corporation was going out of business, they took advantage of this by offering a modified version of their prototype starship design to Helexith, claiming that it was more powerful than the current standard fighters of the Big Four. Desperate for cash, Stormflyer Corp. cut the price to a minimum, so the Mahlok decided to accept it. The resulting fighter they named the Hu-Kerza, but Humans now call it the "Black Swallowtail," named for the pair of curved fins attached to its wings. The Black Swallowtail is highly modified from Stormflyer's original design, which favored blazer machine gun arrays, while the Mahlok favor high-powered energy weapons. They replaced the machine guns with a pair of powerful plasma cannons, and attached an even more powerful Starfire Cannon to the ship's nose, giving the pilot a very heavy-hitting direct-fire weapon to use when he knows he has a clear shot. The under-the-wing missile tubes were left intact, but a pair of racks were added to the wings, equipped with the special Mahlok warheads humans call "Firecans." Filled with an unknown explosive mixture, they create tremendous damage to an already-injured starship, and can be devastating to shields, but have low armor-piercing capabilities. To give the Hu-Kerza  increased agility, larger maneuvering thrusters were attached to each wingtip. Most standard fighter craft use microthrusters that are almost invisible until lit, but the Mahlok like things to light up big, as evidenced by the fiery glow of the fighter's primary engine. Of course, all of this heat buildup for the powerful engines and energy weapons can put a tremendous strain on the fighter's interior temperature unless cooling measures are taken. This is the reason for the glowing lines that are always present on Mahlok ships, forming eerie alien designs over the hull surface. When the ship is running at low power for stealth purposes, these lines fade away. When the ship is in the midst of battle, flying at top speed with guns blazing, the lines burn like bright fire. When Humans first saw these bright lines, they began calling them "lateral lines," and although the reference to a fish sensory organ is not really applicable, the name has stuck. Here are the crappy landing gear, still present from the Voidfighter to the Vulture to the Swallowtail... At least I made them solid black this time though. They were grey on the original black Voidfighter. The Swallowtailwith the landing gear up. Note that the only decals present are the Helexith emblems on the "swallowtails." I was originally going to apply decals to the solid-black canopy in the form of thin red slits, possibly for the pilot to see out of, or as additional "lateral lines" for the cockpit. I was afraid that more LEGO builders would complain about me "over-using" decals, however, so I restrained myself. *sigh* The pilot, however, does have decals. Since his ship has an opaque canopy, he relies on instruments to control his flight. In this case, the pilot is wearing a pair of RR (Replicated Reality) goggles, which are so named because they display to the pilot a slightly enhanced view of the outside, giving him greater vision than his normal eyes (specifically in regard to spotting enemy ships in the blackness of space), but still presenting a realistic image. They also, of course, present a detailed Heads-Up Display, teeming with information. In case the goggles malfunction, however, a regular instrument panel is also present. The Mahlok just looove holographic control panels. And so do I. Here is the Mahlok fighter pilot next to his ship. I know I go on and on about Nova Refuge being made into a strategy game, but can you just imagine clicking on a Mahlok fighter and seeing this guy's menacing, red-lit face pop up at the bottom of the screen (StarCraft-style) and hiss, "Like a spark of flame, I shall light the void." Interior shot, showing the mysterious Mahlok power core (center) and Starlight Gas tanks (back). To prevent their technology falling into enemy hands, Mahlok fighter pilots will often detonate their power cores if their ship becomes disabled. This may seem like a self-sacrifice, but the pilot usually ejects beforehand, and the heat-generator pack that most Mahlok pilots are equipped with actually allows them to survive in the near-vaccuum of space for a limited period of time. And finally, here's a cool "desktop," at least for those of you who still happen to be using 1024x768 resolutions. The photo I used here was actually taken while the Swallowtail up in front of a lamp, allowing the light to shine through the lateral lines. Photos don't really do justice to how awesome it looks when held up to a light.


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