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The Lyrans are human-sized cats that bear a distinct similarity to Terran lynxes in both appearance and temperament. Bitter enemies of the Kzintis (tigermen eight feet tall), the Lyrans are staunch allies of the Klingons and enemies of the Hydrans as well. Like Kzintis, Lyrans are carnivores known to eat their captives on rare occasions. The Federation assigned each Lyran ship-type a "reporting name" to keep them separate. Lyrans are organized as a feudal society. Twenty-one counties each have a squadron of ships led by a heavy cruiser; four dukes have dreadnoughts to lead the four fleets, while the king-emperor commanded from the capital.
While small craft had been around for decades used for civilian and sometimes police missions, the Lyrans made the technological breakthrough that created the combat gunboat, known officially, if awkwardly, as the fast patrol ship. (Perhaps they were inspired to do so because they were never able to design their own fighters, using Klingon types.) Only 30 meters long with a crew of 25, the ship had half of the firepower of a heavy cruiser, and operated in flotillas of six. Such a flotilla could destroy a cruiser or cripple a dreadnought in a single battle pass. Their problem was the short range, which originally limited them to bases and planets. Quickly built in any small civilian shipyard, gunboats turned the free-wheeling space campaigns into trench warfare as no fleet could penetrate the front lines against a horde of defensive gunboats. Then the Lyrans invented a way to carry six gunboats on mechanical links on a modest light cruiser hull, adding the firepower of another dreadnought to every fleet.
This tree of gunboats is available in a variety of materials. Ships are unpainted, use standard flight stands available from many sources, and, while designed for gaming, make fine display pieces.