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Shrike Patrol

I'll be able to tell my grandkids I flew a Pinhead during the War.  Yeah, the FS-34 is really supposed to be called a Shrike, but poor Antoni Karnaki never got much of a break when it came to what we called his creations.

To be honest, I'd rather be flying a Pinhead than a Blowfly. Sure, the things have short legs, the glide ratio of a rock and can't even do a vertical thruster take-off from Mars on a full load and nearly dry tanks, but they were designed to fix the problems with the Blowflies on the Line.

After First Vesta, it was pretty obvious that we needed a heavier screen.  Karnaki's bureau did a pretty good job of slapping a heavier front end on the FS-32 frame.  The Pinheads might be heavy and low on delta-v, but they've got enough space for a crew of two to stay out thirty days: two flight couches, one well-stocked galley, a crapper and a tiny exercise booth. Yeah, there's no ejection cabin, just a complicated seat rocket that kicks you out with a vacuum ball and a locator.  But to be honest, surviving a combat ejection is pretty much like winning the lottery - a daily game deal, not the big prize, but you get the idea.

But the best thing about the Pinheads is what they can do in battle.  They shaved a few picos off the five meter glaser and gave it the best targeting sensors out there.  The beam is accurate beyond a light second and can penetrate a non-evasive target out to three or four.  Plus they fixed the heat signature problem.  We've been deployed on the flanks, sitting quietly out there and creaming corvettes and even destroyers before they knew we were there.  And the six drones, heavy though they are, give us a bigger fighting envelope and sensor net. Not a bad little bird, even if it looks like a stubby space phallus.

- Lieutenant Vladimir K. Sturka, Martian Imperial Navy

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