About the IST
The Ironangels Starfighter Tournament is a bi-annual event held in Polaris space, bordering the Delphinus Nebula. The first tournament was founded by a conglomeration of astro-engineering corporations in order to showcase their produce. However, the tournament quickly picked up interests from the military factions of the nearby star nations, who see the IST as an excellent test bed for new technology. Military commanders also see it as an opportunity to prove their tactical expertise in the area of fighter-class vessel design.
The competition is a simple affair: pilots engage each other in both solo and team matches in a confined area directly adjacent to the Delphinus Nebula, which provides numerous hazard-filled areas of space which are used to a dramatic effect by Iron Angels Omnicorp, the event's organizer. Notable past matches included: asteroids thrust into the midst of the field; surprise comet flights; fields dominated by caustic clouds, and even, in one well-known match, recreations of ancient Republic of Glyfhaven pirate ships spreading chaos by jumping into the midst of the battle and opening fire on both sides.
The tournament is open to all, although the huge expense of outfitting and maintaining a team is only affordable to the military, the corporations, and a select few mega-rich individuals. The corporations attempt to balance this tendency towards the elite with sponsorship programs. National and system-wide competitions are held throughout the galaxy by various companies, with the best talent skimmed off for the big leagues.
The fighters themselves are the absolute apex of modern technology, with the most advanced engines, avionics, weapons, and defense systems that each team can muster. Many of the systems and craft designs are advanced prototypes or clever modifications of existing craft. The military teams in particular are famous for pulling out the stops to show what a modified version of one of their ships can do. Many a military fighter has earned a fearsome reputation due to its performance in the IST, while corporations see a fighter's performance in the tournament as the key to a new model's sales. However, the models displayed during the IST bear little resemblance to their production-line counterparts.
Due to the extremely dangerous nature of the sport, the fighters are equipped with miniaturized grav-shields, ceramic-fiber-auto-ejecting cockpit shells, self-sealing hulls, and a host of other safety features only available to those with galaxy-sized bank accounts. Fatalities are rare, but injuries are ubiquitous.
This year's IST is especially significant in that, for the first time in nearly a century, the Antarean powers and the League are once again separate. All the IST participants can feel the oncoming storm and the tensions are reverberating through the tournament. For the first time since the tournament began, fatalities are occurring during the competitions leading up to the tournament. The worries are acting divisively, not only are the military pilots feeling the heat, but the corporations as well, with their sponsors taking sides, the pilots are as well.
The tournament this year is expected to be especially bloody, with the participants taking sides every pilot has to wonder if the next time they face their opponent will be in the midst of a war. Which begs the question, wouldn't it be better to take him down now?
Team Taurus is one of the teams that is funded and sponsored by the state, in this case, the Taurian Confederacy.
Team Taurus sports a native hull, one familiar to pilots everywhere. The venerable Sword Multi-Role Starfighter has been completely reworked and redesigned at Draymark Labs. The result is the Sword-T, a fighter for which cost was no object.
The ship is fast and deadly, a large engine mount, some serious firepower and two huge grav fins. The T now can spin and flip so fast that special compensators had to be built into the cockpit to keep the pilot from blacking out every time she makes a sharp turn.
Arianne Invigsil wanted to be a pilot so badly that she lied on her application to the military and signed up at the young age of 16. She worked her way through the ranks of the Taurian military quickly, but with hard work. Aggressive in space and in person, Invigsil has rubbed many an officer the wrong way, which is likely the only reason she has not accomplished a higher rank. Her personality is easily apparent in her flying style. She is sometimes incautious and pigheaded, a quality which makes her difficult to get off your tail, but can also work against her. However, due to a combination of her vast combat experience and the ultra reliable Draymark craft she pilots, she often lands on her feet.
The TCI Tenfold
The The TCI Tenfold is a team primarily sponsored by TCI systems and has been a consistently strong entry over the last decade. This year the team is in top form, with a significant chunk of its funding provided by the Antarean government. With so much of the funding coming from Antares, many tournament watchers have begun to consider the Tenfold the Antarean team.
The Antarean team's formidable Rottshein FB is the result of an alliance between TCI Systems and the Covington-Kaller conglomerate. This meeting of the minds had been previously prevented by competition on a number of markets. However, this alliance allows, for the first time, the joining of TCI's advanced hull designs from their military R&D branch and the innovative weapons systems that have made Covington-Kaller's shareholders very rich.
The Rottshein is an experimental fighter/bomber heavily dependent on a gravity manipulation technology that is barely a prototype. The result is a fast ship that can carry a heavy payload and turn on a chit.
 Leopold Vert
Leopold Vert is the iceman of the competition. He makes no errors, but has no surprises either. With a steely determination he has led the Tenfold to victory, match after match. He has been accused by some factions of making the competition too boring, a long string of wins.
The Ascendant Flight
Believing that overall technological advancement will naturally lead to men meeting gods (or becoming them, depending who you ask), the Ascendancy is one of the most followed religions in the galaxy. Coincidently it is also the richest. As their beliefs dictate, the Ascendancy also runs the number one foundation for funding technological research.
One of their biggest contributors is Raulien Desarc, one of the few Ascendants in The Star Kingdom of Mournecreek, which is mostly composed of monarch worshipers known as Creeists. Desarc has sponsored a team in The Element Ascendancy's name. He hopes to bring more of his countrymen around to the beliefs of Ascendancy.
This year the construction of his craft has been contributed to by fellow believers and it is his hope that this new ship will catapult him into the winner's circle.
The original Kestral was one of the Kingdom of Mournecreek's best models from the Colony Wars. Though the model name has been maintained over the years, the current model retains little resemblance to the original. In fact, the Mark V Kestrel bears little resemblance to the Mark IVs which are currently on the market. The V takes advantage of all the latest technology, using integrated gravimetric systems, with the matrixes built directly into the hull. The result is a superbly agile craft powered by a pair of mighty Soltano R-Series 5-over-5 engines, which combine to give it unparalleled speed at an extremely low rate of fuel combustion.
The primary funds for The Ascendant Flight comes from the man who is also its lead pilot, Raulien Desarc. Playboy and Chairman of the Borizzi Industries' board. He also has a hereditary position in the ladder of the Mournecreek monarchy. As a Duke, he holds the owner's share in several planets, based off deeds granted to his family by the monarch of Mournecreek.
Notorious for his playboy lifestyle, it is often that Desarc is seen celebrating, girls draped on either arm, a bottle of his favorite Bitsari Dark in one hand. Desarc is a permanent runner up in the IST. Several times he has seen the trophy within his grasp, only to succumb to his crafts' various intermittent reliability issues. Desarc has his own reliability issues and is famous for showing up to matches drunk, only to win them by significant margins.
The Polaris Twisters are sponsored jointly by the Polaris Concordat's Altirmis Stellar Transport agency and the Concordat Bureau of Civic Administration. The Polaris Twisters have entered the Tournament year after year and the team has taken home silver or bronze medals in the past, but they are still waiting for their gold. The cooperative effort between the two Polaris Concordat agencies has brought in a great deal of funding from other groups wishing to hang their name on one of the Tournament's top teams. The result is more funding comes from outside of the Concordat then within, which is a good thing for the Concordat's tax-payers.
The team's latest recruitment cycle polled thousands of citizens of the Concordat and, despite the small number of planets under Concordat control, the scholarship competitions for the Concordat team were some of the most fierce technically excellent, drawing the largest number of viewers for any pre-Tournament event.
Truly riding the storm, the Polarian Twisted Lightning Interceptor has long been a stable of the Concordat Bureau of Civic Administration's system patrols. The Twisted Lightning has powerful grav systems to increase maneuverability; an innovative Shunt buffer, which trickles power into high-output burst cells, allowing the pilot to overpower thrusters and have a limited period of unheard-of maneuverability when required; and special enhanced sensors.
 Selene Tala
The Foyeri Technicals
Foyeri, once the providence of a house of Antares, has since become a power in and of itself. With the influence of its business enterprises the House Foyeri is one of the primary manufacturers of electronic hardware. In previous tournaments Foyeri has supported the teams of other manufacturers inside Antarean borders, but this year they have fielded a team of their own.
Foyeri never fails to impress. Every entry into the IST in which the House is involved is always a success, so this year, with the Technicals' almost entirely Foyeri-crafted Quadiis, tournament watchers are keenly following the ship's appearances leading up to the tournament.
Cirroco has not been seen outside of his flight suit since he took the Foyeri contract. Many believe that it is some sort of media campaign.
The Permanent Impacts is a fairly new team, only having participated in the last three tournaments. Though they have previously held contests between both pilots and corporations for the honor of being on the team, this year the Republic of Cinnabar's team is mostly being funded by the fast personal fortune of Vehrat Kasori, the President of Cinnabar. As such he was also the one who picked the lead pilot, who just happened to be his wife.
The Djinn is a completely original ship, custom designed and built for this year's IST on its pilot's specifications. The Djinn is a ship built for speed. It has been designed around a Tir-Bodah Valaris Mark 6 Air/Space hybrid engine, which was originally constructed for a higher class of ship. The rate of acceleration and top speed level is so high that the largest problem with the ship's design was keeping it from sheering off pieces every time it started moving. The engine was further modified with two scoops to keep fuel consumption down. Another byproduct of the oversized engine is that it allows the Djinn to mount one of the most powerful energy weapons in the IST. Run-up tournaments and tests have shocked and amazed viewers as the Djinn slipped into one follow slot after another and blew away the competition with a single blinding shot.