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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Aotrs Commander's Avatar

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    Jan 2007
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    Derby, UK and Bleak Despair battlestation. Species: Spirit-Bound Skeletal Lich (Lawful Evil)
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    Default Guide to the Army Of The Red Spear: Part Seven

    Guide to the Army Of The Red Spear: Part Seven


    Penultimate of the fluff that accompanies the official Aotrs fleet/ground forces miniatures releases.

    Part One
    Part Two
    Part Three
    Part Four
    Part Five
    Part Six


    (Note: Dates listed are in accordance with the current year 2347. To translate to Earth-E Julian (or Gregorian) calendar, simply subtract 326 years.)

    Infantry of the Aotrs

    (Note: The provided pictures of the infantry are constrained by the source material’s print limitations of small scale (as they are taken from 1:144th scale renders). They also contain some elements of artisitic license – e.g. in practise, all Aotrs troopers would be wearing helmets – and thus should be treated as illustrative, rather than strictly accurate.)

    Standard Equipment

    Gear

    Aotrs infantry and vehicle and ship crews are all given a package of standard-issue equipment. This consists of a set of Light Body Armour, a standard-issue sidearm coldbeam pistol and magic short sword and a scanner. These items are kept and maintained by the lich themselves, rather than in the armoury. These are personalised (i.e. logged to) to the individual and are, essentially “theirs.” (Though replacements can be easily obtained from supplies if necessitated.)

    Based on duty, mission and rank, when deployed on a mission, Aotrs personel are allocated an additional set of equipment which supplements this basic package. These additional sets of gear are divided into packages, and cover a wide range of jobs. The most common, “duty bundles” are sets of equipment that a lich would use in their day-to-day operations . These are signed out to the lich, but are kept by the personnel themselves with their personal gear. For Line Infantry, for example, this includes their Medium Body Armour, rifle and weapon cells and grenades (though these might be kept in the trooper’s personal weapons locker). For shipboard crew, it would might simply be a datapad, or a higher-grade scanner and a tool-kit for an engineer, which would normally kept in their quarters. Higher ranking officiers are permitted a larger allotment of packages as duty bundles.

    Mission packages are used by forces about to undertake ground operations – shipboard crews rarely are in a situation where they would require them. Mission packages are typically assigned by a unit’s commander taking into account the actual operation to be undertaken, and these are signed out when needed and signed in at the end of the mission. These would include the ubiquitous ground assault and scout packages, which include the combat armour webbing, assault packs and such items as the standard entrenching tools and the crypt personal shelter. (As even liches do not appreciate being wet and muddy while resting or meditating for regain their mana reserves!)

    In addition to their standard-issue equipment, individual soldiers are permitted an allotment of gear (including personal gear) of their own selection, with higher ranking officers given more leeway. Aside from additional equipment from regular supplies, this can often include an additional melee weapon of personal preference, magical items, a nonstandard weapon and the like. (While these regulations can technically be overuled by a soldier’s commander, Aotrs commanders almost never have to do so, as Aotrs soldiers are well-trained enough not to need micromanagement, not their commanders the desire.)

    Armour

    Light Body Armour and Medium Body Armour is fundementally universal across all branches of all of the Aotrs armed forces, be it the Aotrs proper or the second-line branches such as the Dark Elf Troopers or Orc Stormsoldiers. While Medium Body Armour of the Aotrs proper is slightly higher grade than some of the second-line forces, the differences are otherwise largely cosmetic between branches.

    Medium Body Armour is made of synthetic plasteel plates, and is fully enclosed – though in truth, for liches, much of that is not generally necessary, as they do not need to be sealed in most atmospheres. However, the presence of such equipment means that the Undead can go into hostile environments (such as acidic atmospheres, underwater or vacuum) when needed. The armour consists of a breastplate and backplate with fully-enclosed arm and leg greaves, helmet, gauntlets and boots. Like all Aotrs armour, it does not block the flow of magic as conventional armour does to some forms of magic, instead allowing the wearer to continue to cast spells unimpeded. The armour has mag-clamps to allow equipment to be locked on to the belt or over-the-shoulder, though most troopers use holsters for added reliability.

    Medium Body Armour (and the heavier armour forms above it) has a kinetic-resistant outer skin only about 2mm thick. This is optimised so that a hit from a high-velocity projectile such as a bullet will slightly deform the skin, increasing the deflection of the armour. The direction of the deformity is channelled by the underlying matrix so that the path of least resistance is the direction which is away from the core. Simultaneously, the deformed outerskin hardens in proportion to the impact energy. After impact, the outer skin springs back into place. This renders the armour extremely resistant to conventional projectile weapons. With liches being naturally difficult to injure with firearms to start with, this renders a lich Aotrs soldier functionally immune to firearms that are not carrying explosive (e.g. HEAP or flechette) or incendiary ammunition. While most modern armies that use firearms often have ready access to HEAP rounds as standard, this is not always true and provides the Aotrs with a significant advantage when they do not, or against more primitive armed forces.

    The helmet has an advanced targeting HUD system and basic sensors, which include all functions of image intensification, thermal imaging (passive and active infra-red), motion tracking and sound orientation and an anti-glare, allowing the user to see normally in all lighting conditions, including pitch darkness. It has an integral commlink and holocamera (for, among other things, a feed to a commanding officer). It has a basic computer, primarily to facilite the operation of these devices, and to allow for relatively simple jobs, such as voice-to-text for note-taking or reports.
    Like almost all modern combat armour, Medium Body Armour has an activatable visual camoflage scatter pattern on the surface. But in the modern age of sensors and scanners – even those such as in the helmet itself – visual camoflage is largely an irrelevance except against primitive forces and this is not frequently used, however.

    The commlink allows the helmet remote access to exterior communications and computer networks (e.g. Aotrs shipboard or ground vehicle computers, scanner data, battle management systems etc. or the galactic net). There is an up-link port which can be used to physically link to Aotrs scanners or computer ports for additional security for particular large or sensitive data transfers (as a phyiscal link cannot be jammed or impeded remotely). The commlink has an unboosted range of 20 AU. However, any higher-grade communications system within that range (e.g. a starship-grade communication system in orbit) can act as a relay to extend this range to the ranges of the relay system, allowing intersystem communications in real-time. (By comparison, the Aotrs have a 130g dedicated handheld commlink unit, which has an unboosted range of 8 ly, though this is not carried as standard-issue equipment.)

    The standard issue Light Body Armour is essentially a cut-down version of the Medium Body Armour. It is essentially a much lighter version breastplate of the Medium suit, attached to a jumpsuit that can be environmentally sealed (if the need arises). It is specifically designed to be non-encumbering, requiring no training to use. It is light enough to be worn under robes (though typically only officiers or specialist are permitted that luxury), and the enviromental systems – whether sealed or not – also prevent a living being from being uncomfortably hot or cold as well.

    Light Body Armour is functionally the Aotrs field uniform, worn while all personell on duty. The assigned “set” of Light Body Armour is not just one outfit, but two breastplates and four accompaning jumpsuits to which the breastplates are variously attached to. Living and non-skeletal Undead are also assigned at least two additional jumpsuits for additional redundacy for the purposes of cleaning. (Skeletal Undead do not typically generate either personal dirt nor smell.) Personell expected to engage in combat in Light Body Armour are usually assigned at least one additonal breastplate. Some second-line forces also have variant jumpsuits, some of which have visual campoflage scatter pattern systems; notably the Dark Elf Troopers also have dress jumpsuits in some units, making them the only unit in the Aotrs which has a set dress uniform.

    While Light Body Armour is issued with a (single) helmet, typically this is only worn necessary to be worn at all times for vehicle pilots, gunners of AFV crews – starship or ground-crew personell don’t need it during the course of their day-to-day noncombat duties. The helmet is similar in design to that of the Medium Body Armour, except that it is slightly lighter and trades out the targeting package for one less powerful, but instead gains a package that interfaces with Aotrs vehicle and ship targeting systems instead.

    Garrison troops, particularly those at the Citadel, the capital of Fearmore, have heavier armour, the so-called Garrison Plate, a more ceremonial armour. It is not sealed, and aethetically resembles plate armour. The helmets of Garrison Plate only have integral Commlinks as opposed to more advanced systems.

    Heavy Body Armour and Power Armour are specifically worn by Drop Troops and Power Troops respectively, so will be discussed the those relevant sections.

    Sidearms

    The Mark 5 coldbeam pistol has been the standard sidearm for the Aotrs for over 120 years. The basic design was the first true production model after the Mark 4 coldbeam, the first prototype coldbeam pistol. The Mark 5 is classified as a heavy pistol – though this is largely now true of bulk and output, but no longer weight. Since its introduction, while the shape of the Mark 5 has not substantially altered as it has been iterated, the materials it is composed of have evolved. At its pinnacle in the Mark 5K, the Mark 5 had tripled its power output – even while adding in continuous fire capability – and increased the range by +50% and the shots-per-power cell by two-and-a-half times; meanwhile, the weight had halved, dropping from 800g to a slight 410g. It also, unlike the larger coldbeam weapons, has a stun capability, like many regular energy weapons. This has, perhaps incongrously, placed the coldbeam pistol in a position where it is technically a more advanced and valuable piece of equipment than its larger versions. (The black market price for a Mark 5K coldbeam pistol is about 2.5 times more than the equivilent Mark 14D coldbeam rifle.) This is considered an acceptable expense by the Aotrs in return for such good and solid performance.

    The standard sidearm is the 10th coldbeam generation Mk 5K coldbeam pistol, a tough and lasting design. The Mark 5K is almost ubquitious. There are still a modest number of Mark 5I pistols in use, for those that preferred the slightly higher power of the Mark 5I. The 5I was the last production model to not feature continuous fire (merely automatic), and consequent has a slightly higher beam power. It is also has the distinction of being the lightest coldbeam pistol at a near-dainty 400g.

    But the Mark 5 has finally come to the end of its production life. The Mark 17 coldbeam pistol has started to be produced and distributed to selected front-line (and high-ranking rear support) units. The Mark 17 is the first 11th coldbeam generation weapon, featuring a significant leap in all capabilities. While it is thirty grams heavier than the Mark 5K, the Mark 17 features a dramatic +50% leap in output power and 13% additional range. The Mark 17 can use either the standard Mark 5 weapon power cells, or a new Mark 6 weapon cell. While in the former case, it only gets 55 shots per cell to the Mark 5K’s 83, the latter cell gives it 111 shots per cell.

    The Aotrs issue a standard melee weapon. This is a magical heat-enchanted short sword (of the gladius variety). The sword is small enough not to be significantly encumbering nor to prevent its use as a somewhat large combat knife (though many soldiers also carry a standard combat knife in their personal kit). But importantly, it provides Aotrs soldiers with ready access to a magical weapon. The enchantment is heat rather than fire due to continous refinements over the centuries. While the blade glows with the heat of molten metal, it is still less visible (and more controlled) than a flaming sword. The heat-enchantment is designed primarily to allow an effective “lethal” weapon against other undead particularly, and can be deactivated by conscious thought on the wielder. It also has the advantage of effectively sterilising the blade, which has a variety of additional utility usages.

    The shortsword is commonly supplemented (or replaced) by melee weapons of a trooper’s personal preference, though all infantry are trained in its basic use. The supplementary weapon can be more exotic personal weapon, though the Aotrs also have number of stock weapons as well. The most common of these are dagger versions of the heat shortsword, but there are also powered bayonets, gauntlets and power blades, which emit cold or shadow energy in the form of a coherent blade (“cold blades” and “shadow blades” respectively). Shadow blades aremore powerful (and thus require a higher level or priority in assignment) and are particularly favoured by Power Troops, the Kobold Commandos and other black-ops, assassination or infiltration teams because of the obvious advantages that they shed darkness, not light. Vibroweapons have somewhat fallen out of favour, so outside of the Orc Stormsoldiers (where they are still popular), such weapons have to be requested in advance or be a personal weapon.

    Rifles

    The Aotrs equips its infantry with coldbeam rifles. Since the coldbeam’s introduction in the early 2200s, it has steadily supplanted laser and lazer weapons on both the personal and vehicular scale. While the lazer demonstrably can be refined beyond the level the Aotrs have developed it (as evidenced, among others, by the Stravyians), the coldbeam quickly became the preference of the Aotrs. The major proliferation occurred in the 2260s, when the compartively rapidly evolving technogy hit its sixth generation and automatic and continuous fire became an option.

    Among the advantages of the coldbeam in ground combat is that it can be used to create a mist screen by a low intensity, diffused blast; a continous, low-output beam can freeze bodies of water suitable for crossing; and unlike laser and lazer weapons, it is not a heat-based energy, the energy type most commonly resisted among magical creatures. There is also a side benefit that Spirit-Bound liches are largely practically immune to cold energy, which for those liches at least, does have an occasional tactical advantage.

    The Mark 14E coldbeam rifle has been in service for about fifteen years (as of 2346), and the majority of units now possess it. A few older, lower-priority units still have the 14D, which has slightly shorter range and is not quite as robust. The 14D was reliable, easy to maintain, and very accurate, as it has a lot of history behind it, and the 14E improvement was roundly welcomed. Almost no units now use the older 14C, a slightly lesser weapon. Its main problem was that the sights were prone to veer a few fractions of a degree to the left, and it was occasionally prone to shut down in high temperature or dusty environments. The Mark 14E, last of its generation of rifles, is being steadily replaced by the 11th generation Mark 18 Coldbeam Rifle. The Mk 18 began to be introduced in small numbers for elite units in 2337. Like the Mark 17, the Mark 18 features a dramatic improvement in capability and power.

    Subassault coldbeams are not common on the ground battlefield, but are seen mostly on marine detachments, where they slighly lower power and size is more suited to the engagements fought aboard starships. (In the Aotrs, “marine” refers specifically to shipboard security forces; essentially the Aotrs army is itself equivilent to what would be specialised marine forces for most other powers.) The Mark 13D is the most common of these, though the new Mk 20 Subassault is just starting to be issued.

    While the standard rifles are configured for the ability to make continuous fire (which is itself an improvement of automatic fire), this required some loss of power. Thus, there has always been a niche place for semi-automatic rifles for snipers. The Mark 15 Heavy Sniper Rifle was introduced at the same time as the Mark 14 rifle, and improved version came largely in tandem and the most recent version, the Mark 15D, has been in service for some time. The 15D only sported a +40% range increase and only a 23% power advantage over the Mark 14D rifle and it was not slated for improvement when the 14E was put into production. However, despite being the last of the coldbeam family to be worked on, the 11th Generation Mark 21 Heavy Sniper Rifle is just finishing its testing phase and seeing limited deployment. The Mark 21 is a complete redesign for a dedicated sniper rifle, and now sports a range of +50% over the Mk 18 coldbeam rifle (which itself had the same range as the Mark 15D) and almost the same increase in power output.The relatively low number of dedicated snipers almost means that this weapon will reach those units much more rapidly in proportion to the wider upgrades.

    Support Weapons

    The coldbeam Support weapon in widest use is the 16B. A very few units have the older Mk 16A, but almost all of these have been resigned to the second-line forces. The Mark 16C made it into production, but was very quickly superceeded within a few years by the first 11th generation coldbeam support cannon, the Mk 19, which is now steadily being rolled out to all forces.

    The most prevalent of personal anti-tank weapons issued to all branches of the Aotrs ground forces is the SK-series Snake Guiuded Missile Launcher.
    The SK Snake Launcher itself has remained largely unchanged for some time, as the upgrades have either been to software or to the actual warheads. A one-lich system (albeit sometimes with spare rounds being carried by other members of the squad), the Snake Launcher is basically a two-metre long , 240mm diameter, six kilogram tube of metal. The Snake Launcher is extremely durable and hardy, and can be subjected to significant trauma without any loss of effectiveness. Many troopers have found it to be an effective blugeoning weapon (usually, but not always, when unloaded); even after being used to punch right through a humanoid body, it will cheerfully still operate.

    The targeting and sighting module is designed for ease of differing-handedness. It can be removed from one side, inverted and slotted into the other side of the launcher in moments, but the locking system is robust enough not to come loose even after the abuse such as the priorly mentioned melee usage.

    Front-line units are now equipped with the SK-4 warhead, though a significant number of units have SK-3A, SK-3 and SK-2F warheads in stockpiles.
    The SK3A was more accurate than the older SK-2F, but the tendency for the warhead to detonate before impact that plagued the earlier SK-3 had been corrected. The SK3B was a further refinement of the 3A guidence system, introduced around 2330 and saw a modest distribution. The SK-4 entered service in mid 2337, featuring a significantly more powerful warhead. Many units have upgraded straight from SK-3A to SK-4s, which are in now in full production.

    Scanners

    The standard-issue Mk IX Scanner Unit (more generally just called a “scanner”) is an elongated octagonal device that weighs two kilograms. The scanner has a 2000m detail range; though geographical data can be interpulated from incoming sources (e.g. visible light) from significiantly further distances, or from inputted maps. As standard functionality, in addition to the typical features of most general scanners, Aotrs scanners can detect magical or other supernatural or paranatural features. The Mk IX also functions as a 10 MegaAideli -rated computer and has various additional utilities such a torch, holocamera, commlink and emergancy distress beacon. Like the helmet commlink, the scanner has an unboosted range of 20 AU. Like the helmet, the scanner can remotely, or by using the up-link port, interface with external computer networks.

    One of the more frequent allocations of personal equipment (by those whose do not get one from a duty bundle) is an upgrade to the Mk X Scanner Unit (“tech scanner”), which is slightly larger, but more powerful (12 MAi).

    Specialist Weapons

    While coldbeams are the weapon of choice for the Aotrs, they are not the only weapon in production. The most common weapon type after coldbeams is plasma-pulse weaponry, predominantly used by War Droids. As these weapons are, under current Aotrs technology, much more powerful at short ranges (where the War Droids are best suited and accurate), it was a natural fit for the War Droids to be equipped with plasma-pulse cannons. The Aotrs produces three plasma-pulse weapons for conventional infantry use; the PP-1A rifle, the PP-2A pistol and the PP-3A cannon, but outside of War Droids (who use the PP-1A and PP-3A), they are uncommon to see in the field.

    Projectile weapons are traditionally associated with the Orc Stormsoldiers, though that many such urban legends spawned by popular culture (such as that the Orc Stormsoldiers are composed of orcs and only orcs), it is not entirely accurate. The majority of the Orc Stormsoldiers use coldbeam rifles, like the rest of the Aotrs, though there is some accuracy to the myth, as the Orc Stormsoldiers have the highest proportion of users of the Aotrs rocketguns.
    Rocketguns fire a self-propelled explosive shell, rather than a bullet. The rocketguns can accodate a wide variety of munitions, with semi-guided or homing rounds offering the largest advantages over convention projectiles, as they allow personal-scale indirect fire. As self-propelled weapons, the performance of a rocketgun is largely independent of its size, with carbines and rifles simply having the advantages of being able to carry a larger clip for automatic fire.

    The Aotrs produces the Nightbolt (a pistol), the Nightburst (a carbine) and the Nightblast (a rifle), all of which share the same calibur and so can interchange rounds. The Night series of weapons has significantly shorter ranges than coldbeams (less than half), but still have a significant punch, though as noted, their true strength comes from the variant ammunition.

    The Aotrs currently produces one magnetic linear accelerator (railgun) rifle and one railgun pistol – the Mark V and Mark IV respectively. No units use these weapons as standard. Instead, the limited production run is used by a few individual specialists. The 10mm Mark V MLA Rifle is still considered the best sniper rifle available to the Aotrs, superior still to even the new Mark 21 Heavy Sniper Rifle in performance. However, the Mark 21 scores significantly in being more reliable, lighter, with a shorter barrel (the Mark V is 2.1m long) and a single weapon cell allows it 38 or 76 shots to the Mark V’s 15 round-clip. The Mark V also requires power cells as well as ammunition, though this is on the order of a few hundred shots per cell. It is an ever-constant hot debate among snipers as to which weapon is superior, though most admit the ideal would be to have both – which the topmost elite snipers do.


    Line Infantry

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    Line Infantry or Standard Infantry are the primary troops of the Aotrs proper ground army infantry forces. (Dark Elf Trooper and Orc Stormsoldier forces have different designations.) Due to their higher level of training and skill, Line Infantry’s remit also covers as standard what many other armed forces have dedicated special forces branches (such as marines or commandoes) for.

    As part of the Aotrs proper, Line Infantry are composed mainly of Undead and predominatly skeletal Liches or Skeleton Warriors. There is a smattering of representatives, however, of nearly every race and type somewhere in the ground troops, on a more-or-less individual basis. This is on a much smaller scale than starship crews or ground base personnel, due to the additional greater stresses imposed by operating with an otherwise-Undead unit ; the majority of secondments take the option of volentary Lichdom. Typically, then, a living member of the standard Aotrs ground forces will be very exceptional individual.

    For the both the standard infantry and the marine troops, standard equipment is Medium Body Armour, a coldbeam rifle, a coldbeam pistol sidearm, a magic short sword heat blade, a scanner and three grenades (typically three AGF-08 Offensive General Purpose Grenades).

    The standard infantry unit is a squad of eight, including squad leader – who will often have more spells as well – and at least one support weapon, usually a coldbeam Support and a Snake launcher, but this can vary from unit to unit; units with higher casting capability (such as for the Aotrs-standard Lightning Bolt) that are not dedicated anti-tank teams may have only a support weapon, relying on their spells otherwise.

    Drop Troops

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    Drop Troops or Drop Infantry are from army (i.e. ground force, as opposed to navy) branch of the Aotrs. The Drop Troops are so-called because it is their primary role to be dropped in from orbit and act as strike troops, in the same way paratroopers operate. Like such, they are usually better organised and more skilled than the already skilled Line Infantry. Their armour is heavier, as it must be to withstand the drops required.

    Drop Troops are equipped with Heavy Body Armour. It is not quite Powered Armour, but comes very close – technically only in that the armour itself is not equipped with the strength-enhancing exoframe. Like the Medium Body Armour, Heavy Body Armour is made of synthetic plasteel plates and is fully sealed. It has reinforced plating outside, and a large backpack module. This contains a pair of descent engines, a limited shield generator and steering vanes. The steering vanes are used to help control the drop when the Drop Troops are orbitally inserted. The descent engines’ primary job is to slow the drop from orbit to a survivable level, and so they are optimised for a long duration slow-burn usage, rather a short, sharp thrust like a jetpack. Nevertheless, the Drop Troops, by tweaking the output settings, can use them as impromptu jump packs. This is not entirely without risk, as it requires firing the engines at a high level of thrust rather close to the trooper’s legs. True flight is not really possible without significant modifications – though those modifications are not unheard of among these elite troops.

    Some variants have additional sensor equipment built it, including additional sensor pods. The backpack modules are also configurable. The helmets have the same HUD and computer system as the Medium Body Armour.

    Drop Troops frequently have to, by dint of their frequent insertion method, travel lighter than Line Infantry. While they typically use the same coldbeam rifles (Mark 14E or Mark 18) and support weapons, they do not typically carry Snake Launchers. Instead, they are more reliant on the squad’s spellcasting capabilities for anti-armour attacks (Lightning Bolt being the most common.)

    Some Drop Troops, however, have sought to improve their offensive firepower in other ways. The power generator used by the Heavy Body Armour is the same version as used on the full Heavy Powered Armour (HPA) suit. The lighter draw means it has additional power spare, even when using the internal systems. It was discovered by the ever-enterprising Aotrs soldiers that, if the steering vanes are removed, the same mounting used for the sensor pods can be used to lock-in shoulder-mounted weapons – the shoulder-mounted plasma-pulse cannon equipped to the War Droids is a perfect fit. (Not entirely co-incidentally, given the similar ergonomics.) Suits so equipped lose a fair amount of mobility on the ground and flight stability, but for the most skilled and hardened of Drop Troops, this is considered a minimal loss for the additional firepower gain.

    Power Troops

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    As is often the case with powered infantry throughout the galaxy, the Aotrs Power Troops are the elite of the ground force. The Power Troopers themselves are the cream of the infantry, and are exceptionally dangerous. They perform all manner of duties from normal ground combat to deep space boarding and anti-ship/ anti-installation (ASAI) operations. Power Troops are rarely seen deployed in full platoons. The fluid nature of Aotrs infantry deployment (transport vehicles are not permanently attached to infantry units) means they are more often seen in groups of one or two squads. Due to the larger size of the armour, Power Troop squads consist of four troopers, half the normal number that comprise the Aotrs’ Line or Drop infantry squads, so a pair of squads and two transport vehicles (often a pair of Fallen Souls or Vampire family vehicles) is the most commonly seen deployed unit, with a support weapon and a Snake Launcher between them.

    The Aotrs Power Troops wear the Aotrs’ Heavy Powered Armour suit. The HPA has shielding systems, and is very tough and capable. Not least this is because they lack of life-support systems, and the extra mass this leaves free. The suits are sealed and pressurised – principally to keep out corrosives and allow the trooper within to be able to speak – but they have no other life-support capability as standard. This leaves Power Troops the exclusive domain of the Undead – while HPA suits for the Aotrs minority of livings beings exist, they are used only by individual specialists, rather than as part of a main battlefield unit, due to the additional mass and cost increase. Like all Aotrs armour, HPA suits are magic-permeable and do not impede spellcasting.

    HPA suits do not have any mounted guns as standard; the troopers carry any weapons in their hands. The armour’s systems give the pilot even more strength, and they can carry even bulky support weapons with little problem. The suit is not entirely unarmed; there is a Cold Blade array built into the right gauntlet, meaning the troops do not have to carry melee weapons with them if they do not desire. They have advanced sensor and computer systems, and the pilot is aided by computer-assisted targeting. Furthermore, the gloves have magnetic clamps, so it is very difficult to drop a held weapon, or be disarmed.

    The HPA suits have gravitic systems, and are capable of being orbitally dropped. They can even fly for limited distances. In space however, they are fully mobile, and fill the role of deep space assault. In this role, they will sometimes have extra mounted weapons mag-clamped to the armour’s back unit, under the shields (something that is impractical to do when moving on the ground, in atmosphere). These will often be a pair of HR Harridan series warheads, but single SU Skull series anti-ship warheads have been used on occasion.

    Power Troops have, perhaps surprisingly, seen long-service with reconnaissance units, where they were often mounted on Bonecracker and Bonesmasher Recon cycles, which were specifically sized to allow them to be ridden by the bulky powered armour. For some decades, the recon cycles have worked in tandem with the Viperskull jetbikes used by the Line infantry, where the recon cycle’s ability to hold the less vulnerable Power Troops was compensation for their lack of flight. All these vehicles are now being phased out. The increasing usage of both Hunter and Sentry Drones has reduced some of the necessity for the roles that those light vehicles had. Brand-new shielding techniques and an innovative new seating system has further allow all three vehicles to be replaced by a single new, shielded grav cycle – the Scitalis – that will configure to allow a rider to be wearing any armour.

    War Droids

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    Despite the vast number of Undead under Death Despoil’s command, they frequently find themselves outnumbered. And there comes a point where a minimum number of bodies are required to undertake a task – no matter how elite a unit might be, one lich cannot be in more than one place at once.

    In the pre-industrial ages, this factor was mitigated by the low speed of travel; teleportation or flight was not something that could be undertaken easily or en masse. Until the dawn of the Information Age, the Aotrs’ only recourse was to field living troops to supplement their forces. Animated Undead, while never as effective as popular culture has traditionally believed, were still a largely viable, if limited, battlefield weapon. But as time advanced and technology improved, transport speed and complex weapons became the norm and the need for bodies on the field increased and the usability of Animated Undead dropped sharply.

    Finally, in the early FTL age, robotic troops became a viable alternative. But it was not until the 2190s, when the Aotrs imported the 1st generation War Droids from the Herosine Empire, that they became a significant arm of the Aotrs ground forces.

    War Droids are simply non-spirit bound humanoid battle robots. The original War Droids were bought – like much of the arsenal at the time, as this was during the supercruiser era – directly from the Herosine Empire’s arms merchants. Since then, the Aotrs have steadily switched over to the on internal production. Unlike the Herosine Empire, which has sufficient wealth it can throw out bleeding-edge top-of-the-line equipment and still treat is as disposable, the Aotrs has had to take a more circumspect approach.

    Modern 4th generation War Droids are comparatively easy to mass produce (in comparison to training up new soldiers), and can be transported in large numbers easily. They are relentless troops, but focussing on cost-effectiveness over efficacy means that their intelligence and initiative is somewhat lacking. To be effective, they have to be controlled by a dedicated command droid (which has a superior and more expensive to produce brain), which is attached at the top level of an attack force, to avoid the possiblity of conflicting orders.

    The 4th generation War Droids have heavy shields and are armed with Plasma-Pulse weapons. They carry a standard PP-1A Plasma-Pulse rifle. A second weapon is mounted over the right shoulder – this weapon has comparable power, but slightly shorter range but higher rate of fire. They are typically fielded in a group of six.

    The command element is usually three; the command War Droid, a regular War Droid as "bodyguard" or for assistant duties and one War Droid armed with a heavier PP-3A plasma-pulse cannon. The War Droid Command element typically supervises between two and four squads of War Droids or Hunter Drones and/or an attached platoon of Enrager Heavy Assault Droids. The command droid is of a slightly higher quality of AI, though it is still not sufficient for doing anything other than co-ordinating with regular Aotrs forces. (Though alone, they can still provided an adequate, if uninspired commander.)

    Spoiler
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    War Droids are treated as fundementally disposable, but they are numerous enough that they often comprise half of a typical Aotrs ground force infantry deployment.They are used primarily as recon-by-force or as a pinning force, holding enemy infantry units in place with their extensive fire to allow the more capable Aotrs Line Infantry to close in to mop-up.

    Aotrs plasma-pulse weapons have about a third to a quarter of the range of coldbeam rifles, but this is a comparitive disadvantage – the PP-1A still has a respectible range of 525m, still very comparible to non-railgun projectile assault rifles and conventional plasma weapons. The War Droid’s ability to accurately shoot was notoriously poor at longer ranges in prior generations anyway, so equipping them with longer-range weapons would be wasteful.

    The high volume of fire makes War Droids very good at suppressing enemy troops; not only do their shields require concentrated fire or the deployment of anti-vehicle weapons to penetrate, as they have no fear, the cannot be suppressed themselves and have to be destroyed to stop. While this means that War Droids also do not really utlise cover in any meaningful sense, their shields are armour go a long way to compensate for this – and while the enemy is busy shooting infantry anti-tank warheads at the approaching shielded robots in between showers of plasma-pulse bolts, they can’t be shooting them at approaching (and much more valuable) Aotrs troopers!

    The War Droids are themselves poor choices for close assaults – at those ranges, their shields are of only minimal usage (since a typical close assault’s sustained fire will not allowed them to recharge and they are much easier to flank ). They have very poor close combat skills, only marginally better than most Animated Undead. Indeed, a close assault by the enemy is often one of the most effective ways of dealing with a War Droid unit.

    As they are not equipped with any anti-vehicle weapons themselves, War Droids are also vulnerable to vehicles and vehicle (and anti-vehicle) weapons. However, at very close ranges, plasma-pulse weapons can still be dangerous to light targets in certain circumstances – in one recorded instance during the Muisis campaign, a squad of War Droids destroyed an enemy MBT from the upper story of a building by leaning out to fire down on its poor top armour. It was a lucky hit, but still demonstrated the danger.

    Hunter Drones

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    Hunter Drones are essentially War Droids that can fly. They are circular disks, about six feet across, with twin Plasma-Pulse Cannons underslung with 360º fire. In the Mark 1 and 2, these were same guns as the standard War Droid’s shoulder-mount. The current Mark 3 Hunter Drone uses instead significantly more powerful light vehicular weapons, better using the Hunter Drone’s larger mass and power generator.

    Hunter Drones have high flight ceilings, up to about 50% of orbital flight, though they rarely move above nap-of-earth. Hunter Drones possess significantly improved sensors and one of their primary jobs is reconnaissance and targeting designators for warhead-armed vehicles. As such, their intelligence cores are slightly improved over regular War Droids, and they are sometimes attached to a specific vehicle or with their own special Hunter Drone command unit, the Hunter Drone equivalent of the War Droid commander.

    The Hunter Drone Command element is a substitute for the regular War Droid command element. It consists of the command droid itself plus a second Hunter Drone as backstop and bodyguard (and occasionally a third). All are armed with the normal Hunter Drone armament of twin plasma-pulse cannons. These elements are typically assigned to full Hunter Drone platoons, consisting of three groups of six Hunter Drones and the command element. Though in theory, they could command a mixed unit as the regular droids do, in practise the higher cost of the Hunter Drone Command sees it solely assigned to places where its ability to fly is most useful.

    Spoiler
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    Occasionally, other units like Sentry Drones or Scarab mines are also assigned to a full Hunter Drone Platoon, but this is uncommon.

    Hunter Drones are a relatively recent introduction (circa 2330), and their rapid widespread use has seen the phasing out of older recon vehicles for many tactical reconnaissance purposes as well as the total replacement of prior remote recon drones. They are of little use for strategic reconnaissance, however, which requires a subtly well beyond a War Droid brain.

    Sentry Drones

    Spoiler
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    Sentry Drones are aerial recon drones, developed shortly after the Hunter Drones. While using drones for reconnaissence (and even limited combat utility) dates back to the Information Age, in the modern era, remote units are compatively easy to jam (or worse, hack) and sensor ranges have rendered much of that niche moot. However, the success of the Hunter Drone suggested that there was a place for a stripped-down, lower cost version for long-distance tactical reconnaissence or for target designation.

    Sentry Drones have no weapons or shields and considered completely disposable in the same way a warhead might be (though the Aotrs will still attempt to recover them if possible). They are faster than Hunter Drones and have a dedicated ground-facing sensor suite in addition to the other sensors, making them an ideal unit for spotting enemy positions or exploring an unknown area. They are equipped with a variety of stealth devices to lower its signature (though to keep the costs low, none of these are especially powerful). They are most often used, however, in their capacity of provided targeting locks for missiles for indirect fire.

    Sentry Drones have inbuilt mag-clamps, which allows them to be carried by almost any vehicle, and launched when required. Their low weight has a minimal effect on vehicle endurance. It has become common practise for Reign of Anger units to attach one each to the top of the missile tubes.
    Last edited by Aotrs Commander; 2021-03-05 at 11:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Guide to the Army Of The Red Spear: Part Seven

    Spoiler: Vehicles of the Aotrs Ground Force, Part One
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    Note: The Fallen Soul and Dirge have already been covered in the Ships of the Aotrs Navy series, as they are technically part of both forces.

    (Note: measurements are taken from bounding box extremities.)

    Distant Thunder Heavy IFV



    Length: 11.54m
    Width: 6.82m
    Height: 5.33m

    The Distant Thunder is an older AFV, but one still very much on the front line. Given its name because the sound it makes when moving, its vast size means, despite the (then) lack of shields, the Distant Thunder is heavily armoured and very difficult to kill. It has front and rear doors, and is large enough to transport a full platoon of 32 troops or even small tanks. It has firing ports in both sides, with mounts for coldbeam support weapons. Its main weapon is a 240mm Rocketgun Cannon, and it has several drums of ammunition for normal anti-tank rounds as well as homing Rocketgun rounds. It has a coaxial warhead launcher (typically loaded with four Skull warheads) and a secondary heavy coldbeam turret.

    The Distant Thunder is big enough and heavily armoured enough – including its sturdy, armoured tracks – to simply roll over and crush most obstacles; up to and including most regular main battletanks, if unshielded. However, if one is eventually untracked, it typically requires a major undertaking to get it underway again. The Distant Thunder’s size can also work against it in other ways – being as tall as a second-story building means the Distant Thunder can attract a lot of fire. It also cannot cross many light civilian bridges, as it is simply too heavy.

    Distant Thunders often serve as a command vehicle, as the equipment required was already present as a standard feature, given the negligible size and weight requirements compared to the vehicle’s mass. This also tends to keep them more out of the way of attack.

    For some years, was some consideration to implement an upgrade to add shields, though the projections meant that the armour would have to be considerably lessened. However, when the new shield grid matrix pioneered on the Vampire became available in 2342, this provided a better option. A new, modern power core provides more power for the same mass – enough to run a shield network on the new matrix. While this is only as strong as the grid on the Fallen Soul (thus about two-thirds the strength of the Storm Cleaver’s or Revenant Spear’s shields), without the sacrifice of armour, the new shields make the 2342 Distant Thunder a very tough nut to crack.

    Vampire Lord IFV



    Length: 7.08m
    Width: 4.37m
    Height (Lord): 3.43m
    Height (Horde): 3.71m

    The Vampire Lord is a successful conversion of the anti-grav version of Vampire APC available on the general market. Dating from the end of the supercruiser era,this Aotrs variant stripped out the power core and replaced most of the systems with superior Aotrs equivalents. The Vampire lost half the space for the infantry carried – down to a comfortable eight (a dozen at a push) from sixteen – to install the quad pulse-fire coldbeam cannon turret mounted on the roof.

    For over two decades, the Vampire Lord was the Aotrs’ primary APC. The introduction of the Fallen Soul in 2327 replaced it in the role of general APC. The Vampire Lord remained in service while the Fallen Souls entered full production and deployment. It was gradually replaced, starting with front-line units who benefitted most from the Fallen Soul’s superior durability. But this was not the end of the Vampire Lord.

    By the time the Fallen Soul emerged on the scene, there was a second Vampire deriviative. The Vampire Horde is a variant of the Vampire Lord that replaces the coldbeam turret with a salvo launcher for the Horde semi-guided warhead system, giving application for use in strike, anti-tank, anti-personnel and anti-aircraft roles, while retaining the infantry carrying capacity. A further subvariant of the Vampire Horde, the Vampire Horde Doom, traded all its infantry capacity for additional ammunition space. The Horde Doom was used in supplementary AA and Anti-Tank roles, though it was also successfully used to support missile patrol boats in wet-naval engagements on soft targets.



    In the 2330s, the Vampire Horde saw the most usage of the Vampire varitants; the Vampire Lords were being steadily regulated to support or second-line roles. As the Horde Doom was a relatively simply conversion to weapons carrier, the potential to change both Vampire Horde and Lord to similar weapons carrier was discussed. Plans began to extending the design’s life by adding a dedicated AA tracking suite to both Lord and Horde and them and turning them into a proper company AA vehicles, a role they were already starting to fill. It was questioned whether, especially in the case of the Vampire Lord, the removal of the infantry capacity could be used to add in a shield generator. But it was acknowledged that this would require a replacement of the Vampire’s current power core, and would not benefit the Vampire Horde, so the plans was stalled.

    But during the latter half of 2342, a brand-new innovative technique was developed, allowing a shield grid matrix to be quite literally painted on to the hull. Advances in power plant technology now allowed the requisite upgrade to the power course to handle the additional load of shields but without any additional mass. This new shield matrix was pioneered on the Vampire Lord and Horde, but was soon applied to other, older, unshielded vehicles like the Distant Thunder and Reign of Anger.

    Is it planned that only a few Vampire Lord and Vampire Horde versions will be retained with their infantry capacity as light IFVs for special operations. The remaining Horde vehicles will be converted to Horde Doom versions and the Lords to a new Lord Doom version, where they will serve as dedicated AA vehicles. This Lord Doom replaces the infantry bay with a larger power core, allowing it to carry 20% more shields than the other versions, and allow the coldbeam turrets to be upgraded with new, modern 11th generation pulse-fire coldbeams that increase the range to three times the Vampire Lord’s and increase the power output by an impressive 75%.

    The Vampire Lord and Horde’s new coat of paint will once again bring the vehicle into the front line. Nor is this just a figurative statement; the new shield matrix is coloured so as to replace the Vampire Lord’s original mist-grey colouration with the current rust-and-gold livery.

    Tomb Guardian Engineering Vehicle



    Length: 9.33m
    Width: 3.53m
    Height: 3.15m

    The Tomb Guardian is the replacement of the older Death’s Ward engineering vehicle. The Tomb Guardian is built on the hull of the older Fleshburner Main Battle Tank.

    The Fleshburner was at best a mediocre vehicle. The initial concept was sound enough – take of one the powerful Coldbeam Point-Defence turrets in use by the Aotrs navy at the time and emplace it on an anti-grav chassis, to create a high-track weapons platform. In some ways, it achieved that. The Flashburner’s main Coldbeam cannon was the most powerful AFV-based weapon at the time of its inception, and considerably more powerful than the Black Lance MBT it replaced. It shared over 90% of the components with its naval PD equivalent, which reduced the drain on maintenance requirements and tooling. The addition of a missile pod on the rear of the turret further added to this firepower. The Fleshburner was one of the first Aotrs ground vehicles to have full shields, and was bleeding-edge technology at the time.

    However, in practise, it was plagued by small problems that prevented it from living up to expectations. The Fleshburner was never popular with its crews, who found it uncomfortable and sometimes-counter-intuitive to operate. The first problem was that, to accommodate the high-track turret’s full rotation, the turret had to be mounted quite high above the hull and thus was overly tall. To compensate, the hull had been made flatter. The turret was itself difficult to access, since the gunner and commander had to essentially scramble inside and there was no quick escape hatch. The fact that not an insignificant number of Fleshburner crews used Gate or teleportation spells to enter their own vehicle was indicative. The 10% of parts the turret did not share with the PD emplacements were the ones which turned out to be the parts that wore out the fastest, and the Fleshburner had a higher-than average maintenance cycle. In truth, this was as much due to the new technology’s early teething problems, but the general perception of those issues did not help the already unpopular vehicle. On top of everything else, the Fleshburner was considered an unlovely vehicle to look at, at once seeming both too flat and too wide, with the skull-turret perched ungracefully above the hull. The twin scythe-blade electroblaster arrays placed at thr front did not help it at all. The most widely-quoted description was that it looked like a fat scorpion.

    Despite this negative press, the Fleshburner was not a terrible vehicle. Actual performance in the field was adequate, if uninspired. While it required more than its share of maintenance, the new technology worked well.

    It was with not a little relief from the crews, however, when the Fleshburner was finally retired.

    As the ground forces received upgrade and enhancement, the Death’s Ward engineering vehicle was examined. It was determined that, rather than implement more upgrades, the aging tracked vehicle would be retired and replaced with a more robust and mobile grav vehicle. As it often the case with older MBTs, the numerous Fleshburner hulls were converted to create the Tomb Guardian.

    The Fleshburner’s turret – the primary source of its ills – was removed. A new, dual-layer turret was added.

    The lower portion of the turret holds an array of sixteen coldbeam support cannons in two rows. The Death’s Ward’s side sponson coldbeam turrets had very rarely seen use in practise, and they were not truly mobile enough to serve engineering purposes. The Tomb Guardian’s array, by comparison, has far greater mobility, being both in a full turret and being high-track mount. Further, each barrel is independently mobile. The coldbeams emplaced are essentially the core of a Mark 19 Coldbeam Support cannon, configured to low-output, continuous fire. The array is thus optimised for liquid-freezing engineering operations (such as river crossing) or mist-dispersion. Acting in concert and concentrated to a point, the weapons are still able to provide a not-insignificant amount of firepower.

    An improved version of the Death’s Ward’s demolitions gun was placed on the side of the turret. While it has an elevation of only 10º, if required, the Tomb Guardian can tilt its hull to provide another degree or two.

    The left side of the turret mounts the biggest change from the Death’s Ward – a large engineering arm. This can rotate separately from the main turret, and extend. At the tip is an extensible and independently rotational tractor beam array, vastly improving on the array the Death’s Ward carried. Underslung on arm is an excavator head. This can be removed and replaced in the field in under a minute. In the Tomb Guardian’s various engineering supplies is a crane attachment (as a back-up for the tractor beam) which can be mounted on the same fitting.

    For the instances when the arm is in place and the extra stability of a ground-mount is needed (to avoid the potential danger of the grav drive “slipping”), four extensible legs were placed on the hull.

    The engineering arm has some limitations in that it cannot rotate 360º at lower elevations seperate from the lower turret because of the demolitions gun, but this was considered to a minor issue, since the instances when the main turret would be required to be keeping either of guns on target at the exact same time as the arm was in use (in particular with excavations) was small. The mobility of the tractor array from the arm itself also reduces this problem. However, the demolitions gun can be dismounted with a few minutes even in the field if this mobility is a problem in some situations.

    The Fleshburner’s two electroblaster scythes were removed. Instead, a mine-plough with variable geometry was emplaced. This had a further new innovation. The sides and top of the blade have a secondary shield-grid, which functions separately to the Tomb Guardian’s own shields. The plough-shield projects a screen about five metres from the edge of the blades in either configuration. This not only provides additional protection from weapons fire from the frontal direction, or against mine-shrapnel, but provides a shelter for the engineers for tasks that require them to dismount.

    The Fleshburner’s internal systems and placing were completely re-worked for the Tomb Guardian. The pilot seat was drastically improved for a much more comfortable position. At the rear, a new crew module was added with hatches for the other crew. While still a little cramped due to the necessity of keeping the compartment below the Coldbeam turret’s arc, they are far and away superior to the Fleshburner.

    While it still has the older, more rounded hull of the Fleshburner and its generation of Aotrs-made vehicles, and with the addition of the “legs” has not perhaps helped the Tomb Guardian in giving the impression of an overweight insect, the Tomb Guardian is generally held to be “not quite as ugly” as the Fleshburner. And unlike the older MBT, the Tomb Guardian has much more practicality to back-up its slightly ungainly appearance.

    Scitalis Recon Cycle



    Length: 5.14m
    Width: 2.57m
    Height: 2.44m

    The Scitalis is the most recent addition to the Aotrs ground force arsenal. Developed under the working title of Serpentskull recon cycle, it replaces the Viperskull jetbike and the Bone Cracker and Bone Smasher Recon Cycles.

    The increased use of Hunter and Sentry Drones in front-line reconnaissance has not obviated the need for the deeper recon operations which have always required skilled troops. The various bikes and cycle over the years have fulfilled this role. But these vehicles have always had drawbacks. Firstly, they were never well-protected. Over time, the size of the vehicles also grew larger, to accommodate new technology. (Indeed, it has been a long-standing joke that the recon “bikes” have been for some time longer than a typical saloon gravcar.) Secondly, due to the differences in physical size of the armour, Power Troops required their own special vehicles, simply due to the problems of seating.

    The Scitalis was developed to deal with both problems, and to combine the best elements of the three older cycles. For such an advanced vehicle, it is perhaps ironic that the most innovative feature is nothing to do with its combat or recon abilities, but due to something as mundane as the seating. The Scitalis’ seats are built entirely from a new-type of hard-code-locked nano-elements. The nano-elements have very few metallic components, being predominantly compressible polymers. With simple adjustments on a small control pad – which requires no external power and is about as analogue as such a device can be – the seating can be configured so it is suitable for either Power Troops or regular infantry. For a regular-sized passenger, the seat is a little higher and closer to the controls. This adjustment can be fine-tuned further to an individual’s settings and the distance of the control panel itself can be moved forward or backward, making for a very comfortable ride. At a squeeze, two normal-sized humanoids can fit on the seat, though regular infantry in full gear would be pressed to do so.

    The Scitalis has continued the trend of larger size, being slightly larger than its three direct predecessors. But it combines the flight capability of the Viperskull, the sensors of the Bone Cracker and the offensive capabilities of the Bone Smasher, all in one package. Partly, this size is also necessitated by the addition of a bubble canopy. This was, in part, inspired by the Strayvian Dominion’s Seething Scoria Attack Skimmer. The other reason was the development of the new shield-grid coating in 2342. A sealed pilot compartment means that, for the first time, a cycle can be equipped with shields.

    The Scitalis is capable of full orbital flight in addition to the nap-of-Earth grav operations. The Scitalis has both more modern and powerful engines than the older Viperskull, but the addition of the canopy further benefitted it in this regard, whereas the older jetbike has a limited service ceiling. It is, in essence, now more akin to an undersized one-lich fighter craft than a traditional “recon bike.”

    The Scitalis is equipped with an up-to-date sensor package and ECM system. It is also much more heavily armed than the older bikes, containing essentially all their weapons. It carries a single spinal-mount Coldbeam cannon, slightly less poweful that the twin Coldbeams of the Viperskull. This is flanked by a pair of light Plasma-Pulse cannons (as the Bone Cracker had) for shorter range engagements and considerably more hitting power.

    The Viperskull’s rarely used lower wing-scythes were almost dropped from consideration, but the veterans consulted felt that they were still a useful addition for some purposes – more for engineering tasks than actual combat. Rather than use physical blades, however, the Scitalis has two much shorter wing-stubs which serve as emitters for a scaled-up version of the Cold Blades used as infantry melee weapons. This grants much more effectiveness in usage, though the Scitalis’ power generator chugs a little when trying to run them simultaneously while flying with active shields and both energy weapons firing.

    Finally, it carries a pair of SK series Snake Missile Launchers (like the Bone Smasher) with five warheads each, which give it a limited, but not insignificant, anti-armour punch.

    The Scitalis initially received an uncertain reception from the first units to whom it was assigned, but this first impression was solely based on the size and the addition of the canopy. Once the veterans had had a chance to out it through its paces, the reception has been unilaterally positive. The Scitalis is being deployed as fast as it can be produced, with the older Recon Cycles being regulated to the secondary Dark Elf Trooper forces or decommissioned altogether.

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