Babylon 5 - Centauri Ships
Ah, the Centauri Ships of the Line! Now *those* are real ships! The filigree! The porticos! The balustrades! The red velvet with all the lovely mirrors!

These are the top-of-the-line Centauri war vessels, usually used as admiral's flagships. Every deck has its own gourmet restaurant and brothel. Even steerage! Fourteen decks of catapults, each able to place a minor trade bureau squarely amidships an enemy up to 400 kilometers away. More if the stellar wind is with you. Complement of 400 officers and up to 2400 personal servants and social facilitators. Propelled by laser-supercharged steam. Slow, but the other ships know enough to wait around for it. Gold plated with some tasteful diamond accents around the admiral's private bridges. If the finish did not uniquely identify them, the three-level parking structure at the rear for the officer's gigs would be all you'ld need to see.

Sycophant class warships carry the Centauri fleet's copier machines. Two to four batallions of crack Centauri Space Copier Service Marines keep the paperwork flowing smoothly under the most difficult battle conditions. Emergency deliveries (e.g., laundry lists and golf scores for officers and their retinue or even third notices of medical supply requests from the staff infirmaries) are transferred between a Sycophant and another ship in the fleet by railgun. The Centauri use a discarding sabot of emerald-plated platinum-iridium costing as much as an entire Narn outpost. These are destroyed to prevent navigation hazards, as practice targets for junior officers within three degrees of consanguitiy to the admiral. Ordinary transfers are by standard government barge.

Three Sycophants are usually tended by one Deciduous-class supply ship carrying about 11 square kilometers of genetically-engineered fast-growing pulpwood trees similar to Earth's scrub poplar. These occupy three to five decks of artificially-lighted hydroponic "forests" in these inlaid j'Quan wood ships. Periodic bulk shipments of previously-ignored documents are shredded for security, perfumed, and sent on to the fleet's Sycophant-class ships to stoke the boilers.

These silver-and-platinum plated edifices are the workhorse vessels of the fleet. They carry a nine-level organizational apparatus (9-LOA) diagrammed in charts 13 through 18 that is mission-oriented along functional lines such as Diplomacy, Trade Relations, and Tax Evasion. Matrix management techniques (MMT) require each functionary below section chief to fill in at least three project numbers on their time cards each week from projects supervised out of other functional mission divisions, preferably on sister Prothonotaries, and in other fleets if possible. This keeps the three Auditor Decks under control by extending the duration of typical investigations to more than three times the average Centauri lifespan (chart 19 in the errata). This cross-training based staff development methodology (CTBSDM, pronounced "ctbsdm") is said to be the envy of the Narns: They suffer under a rigid heirarchical rank structure in which the only career advancement path involves distateful amounts of pouch-kissing and shouting (PK&S). Seven high-security decks of the forty-three in these bloated, convex-hulled vessels are given over to the reviled Total Quality Management Officers (TQMO), who wear severe beige uniforms with only a hint of ormoulou piping on the forepleats. On the other hand, Prothonotary-class ships are justifiably famous for having the most advanced repetitive strain injury (RSI) clinics in the fleet.

Frankly, the Centauri are a little embarassed about these unglamouous but necessary dreadnaughts, which typically skulk about in the shadows of the larger ships, emitting puffs of smoke. As much as 60-70% of the crew may come from a commercial background, with only a thin layer of ranking officers from the nobility as they should be. Occasionally, whole decks are found to be infiltrated by academics. These individuals are quickly placed on sabatticals, on the largesse of the fleet's least-favored officer of Baronial rank or lower. A Ward Heeler is easily identified by the narrow "waist" that separates the officer's quarters from the hoi polloi and the sewage recycling plant. In an emergency, such as a breakdown in management-labor communications involving large-caliber slugthrowers, the officer's quarters (the larger of the two parts of the ship, with the fresh paint) can be explosively -- very explosively! -- separated from the crew's "half" (a Centauri Navy term meaning "cubicle"). Yet who carries out the unglamourous planetside footwork of colonist expectation management and revenue enhancement? Who defaces election posters? Who suborns influential natives? Who laces the local drinking-fluid reservoirs with generally recognized as safe stimulants to increase production? Credit for all these workaday tasks of empire has to go to the hard-working rank and file of the Ward Heeler ships. And it certainly would if there were not more deserving officers and nobility on the capital ships to claim it.