Shieldships are unique escort vessels that protect ships traveling to the planet Nkllon in the Athega system. These vessels are necessary to block the searing rays of Athega's superhot star, which can destroy ships that carry only standard shielding.
Nkllon is so hot that it is habitable only on the dark, or "night," side. However, its mineral resources are too valuable to pass up, especially for someone like Lando Calrissian, who's willing to bet on the longest odds if the payoff is right. Lando's payoff was handsome indeed—once Nomad City was up and running, it was pulling in nearly 10 million credits per year.
The shieldships were built to Lando's specifications by the Republic Engineering Corporation, which was formed shortly after the New Republic seized power in the Galactic Core. The shieldships have proved extraordinarily difficult to pilot and need constant maintenance. The cooling gear must be replaced after every trip in-system, requiring substantial downtime for each vessel. Lando purchased twelve of the shieldships, allowing for up to three visits to Nkllon per day once normal maintenance was taken into account.
The ships appear to be giant umbrellas; the shields are giant cones approximately eight hundred meters across. The face of the shieldship has thick armor plating honey-combed with coolant chambers to keep the outer surface from being burned off. The back has immense tubes and fins to vent the intense heat. The shadow behind the shield is the protected area for incoming starships. Trailing behind the shield is a four-hundred-meter pylon with a drive tug which provides sublight and hyperdrive thrust.
The vehicles operate from a central depot on the outer rim of the Athega system, and use a sophisticated slaving system to tie their navigation computers into the computers of any ships they are escorting. Normally, the shieldship simply takes control of the escorted vessel and jumps into the heart of the system, bringing the other vessel along for the ride. In this manner, the journey from the outer depot to Nkllon takes only one hour.
Ships without slave circuits must be escorted to Nkllon by utilizing sublight drives. Even a slight miscalculation on the hyperspace jump into the system would leave the visiting ship unprotected, resulting in its destruction. The sublight journey into the system takes ten hours.