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Captain Partha leads a very tightly-knit all-female crew. They share a camaraderie much like eight sisters and their mother. They are all highly trained in singing, psychology, advanced communications equipment, and cultural anthropology. Each of the sisters specializes in a different set of cultures and the lore particular to that group. Between them, they share intimate knowledge of every known galactic culture. Every free minute is spent researching various cultures and practicing with their voices- the only exception is that every Sunday morning they get out for a couple of hours to sing in the church choir.
Much of Melpomene's equipment is designed around delivering sound to its enemies and in enhancing its effectiveness.
The two large cylinders on one side of the ship's nose are the primary radio transmitters. A smart enemy who sees the Melpomene before he hears them will first turn off his radio, thus blocking the first and simplest delivery method. This happens less than you might think- pirates tend to be rather cruel folk and generally enjoy taunting their victims before they strike.
The next delivery method is to project radio waves from the top arrays at frequencies that cause a ship's hull to vibrate. Complex harmonics can be used to generate sound inside the hull. The downside to this method is that each hull resonates differently and so the emitter has to be tuned for a given ship, which takes a long time- especially if that ship's type isn't already in the Melpomene's database. However, once tuned properly this method works so well that it vibrates the very bones of the crew, ensuring that none can escape its power.
The most complex delivery method is to use part of the warp system to project waveforms through constrained subspace tubules that essentially bypass a region of space and project sound from another location. This requires a lot of computational power to keep locked on a target that moves erratically. The small 4-armed antenna on the starboard engine pylon is used for this method.
The ship is named after the mother of the Sirens from Greek mythology. I don't remember exactly where I came up with the Captain's name, though I think I made up a diminutive form of one of the siren's names (Parthenope). The properly Americanized pronunciation of Melpomene rhymes with "el hominy".
I credit the Syreen from Star Control II (one of the coolest video games ever) and the Bene Gesserit from Frank Herbert's Dune books as the inspiration for the story behind this ship.
© 1999-2005 Tony Hafner