The Ruby Sunbird is a heavily modified ‘Dogbird’ class freighter officially designated as a Class-J ore transport, despite lacking any dedicated ore transportation capability. It has been more concisely described as “piece of space trash” and a "loathesome rattletrap" by many detractors, including it's current owner, Xon.
'Dogbird' Class Freighter
- Length: 34.15 meters
- Wingspan: 25.6 meters
- Power Plant: 5,000 millicochrane compact matter/antimatter reactor unit, x2 Yoyodyne pulse fusion reactors
- Warp Propulsion: Integrated centreline stardrive coil with outboard warpfield stabilisers (port, starboard and dorsal)
- Sublight Propulsion: x2 vectored thrust fusion impulse engines
- Armament: None (Standard)
- Defences: Deflector shield, navigational deflector
- Crew: 3 (Pilot, Copilot/Navigator, Systems Manager)
- Passenger Capacity: 4-6
- Maximum velocity: Warp 8.5
- Cruising speed: Warp 5
Statistics, Ruby Sunbird
- Shipping License: Rigellian Trade Authority
- Maximum safe velocity (debatable): Warp 6
- Additional Modifications:
- Armament: x2 wing-grafted phaser cannons (Starfleet surplus circa 2279, poor condition)
- Forward deflector shield replaced with multispectral long-range telescope
- x2 dorsal-mounted plasma ignition afterthrusters
- Note: Inspection of engines on Starbase 12 in 2387 deemed them "well below the Federation's ethical standards for fuel efficiency"
The Ruby Sunbird has a forward crew section with several small compartments. The top-most compartment is the cockpit, which is cramped, barely allowing enough space for the helm and navigational controls (forward-facing) and the system's manager's console (backward-facing). An open hatch in the floor provides access to a ladder which runs down through the main cabin all the way to the keel of the ship, and extends down to ground level upon landing.
The main cabin has four poorly cushioned sleeping berths built into the bulkheads, which can be used as seats during flight. There is no replicator, but there are several overhead storage lockers full of Starfleet field rations from the previous century, as well as various oddities that Xon has picked up on his travels. Spartan home comforts include a fold-down table, a chessboard, and a small book-case installed by Xon, upon which he frequently bangs his head.
The cabin has a forward hatch for performing maintenance on the ship's deflector assembly, and a gangway leading aft into the cargo hold.
Below the cabin is the ship's keel, a tiny maintenance crawlspace with a ventral hatch that serves as the main entryway to the ship. When the ship lands, the crew ladder extends down through the keel and out of the ventral hatch, allowing crew to disembark. Athletic humanoids can often climb up into the hatch without the aid of a ladder, but Xon is not as spry as he used to be.
The aft module of the Sunbird contains the cargo hold. The entire floor of the cargo hold serves as a cargo elevator which can lower to ground level when the ship is landed. Most of the cargo is kept in nets, which hang from the structural beams in the ceiling. Hammocks can be strung up in the hold if the Sunbird needs to carry more than four people on a long flight.
Behind the cargo hold is the engine room, dominated by the Sunbird's centreline stardrive - a giant warp coil that rotates around the matter/antimatter reactor. The room is walled on each side by the ship's pulse fusion reactors. This room gets uncomfortably warm during protracted spaceflight.
The Ruby Sunbird was one of fifty 'Dogbird' class freighters designed and produced by the shipbuilding team at Canopus Shipyards before the company went into liquidation in 2295. The company had been founded by outcasts from larger, more respectable Federation shipyards: left-field Andorian and Triexian designers who wanted to undermine Earth's shipbuilding monopoly and create ships which challenged the orthodoxies of warpfield theory (or who enjoyed too many recreational substances, according to some interpretations). The 'Dogbird' class was their first and only attempt.
The class acquired it's unflattering name when a prominent critic denounced the design as being "as mad as an Arcturian dogbird". Utilising Andorian ship-building principles, the design centred around an integrated stardrive at the ship's centre of mass: essentially a single giant warp coil surrounding the ship's reactor and drawing power directly from it. This was intended to provide unrivalled warpfield stability and energy efficiency, with the geometry of the ship's warp bubble maintained by three outboard stabilisers instead of rows of warp coils kept "at arms length" in external nacelles.
The design proved sound, but the effectiveness of the stardrive design was heavily reliant upon the effectiveness of the stabilisers. Shakedown tests proved that warpfield geometry could become catastrophically unstable in the event of stabiliser failure, leading the Space Safety Board to brand the design as hazardous to the health of it's pilots. This was a death sentence for Canopus Shipyards, and the original production run of fifty 'Dogbird' class ships were auctioned off at very low prices. The ships - including the Ruby Sunbird - went on to have colourful careers throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, flown by the kind of pilots who didn't mind running the risk of stabiliser failure so long as they gained a few extra points of warp speed.
The Ruby Sunbird was originally owned by Jax Darrigan, an Izarian merchant who used the ship for a varied mixture of legitimate and illegitimate business ventures, primarily smuggling Romulan Ale - or paying passengers - across the Romulan Neutral Zone. When Darrigan died in 2340, he left the ship to Xon, who had been his friend and occasional partner-in-crime for several decades.
The ship is welcome in some spaceports where a Starfleet runabout is not, but it is also likely to be fired upon on many worlds where Xon - or Darrigan - have made themselves unwelcome over the years. This is particularly true of worlds controlled by the Orion Syndicate, with whom Xon has been perpetuating on ongoing feud since they stole his other ship, the Starship Intrepid, in 2323.