New Bambara

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The Far Planets Revolution was put down with brutal efficiency; any rebellious workers left alive were forced to finish their assigned construction projects and then were moved on. A large amount of these workers were from a slew of African countries – they had only pursued jobs at the edge of the Sol System to escape the crumbling infrastructure of their birth countries on Earth. By the end of the developments on the moons of Juipter and Saturn, the Second Age of humanity was in full swing and the Veritas leak had occured. A group of two hundred odd African hydroponics workers stole an old transport scow due to be scrapped and set course for the Pyramide System; it’s fourth planet in particular.

The group picked Pyramide IV due to its climate; humid and wet. They were desperate to live free somewhere, out from under the yoke of corporations or government. Although not the most comfortable climate, they knew they could use their hydroponic engineering knowledge in order to grow a significant range of food to support themselves.

The Earth-based seeds the colonists brought along struggled to grow in the alien soil; the group turned to native vegetables instead. Although there were a small, sad number of allergic reactions to the indigenous ‘raow’ tubers, they proved edible, nourishing and favourable to hydroponic farming. Thanks to the growth of raow – amongst other – plants, the settlers were able to sustain themselves by the end of the Second Age. The colony was established enough to give itself a name; New Bambara.

Once self-sustaining, the two hundred colonists brought families along and the population blossomed to a thousand or so. Independent merchants were quick to seize upon the new opportunities provided by the world – they arrived to sell basic building materials and prefabricated buildings for the new arrivals in exchange for the exotic foodstuffs from their hydroponic farms. These farms form the core of New Bambara; jungle has been cleared to accommodate both the farms and population housing but the continent is still heavily rain-forested and often victim to extreme monsoon seasons.

New Bambara eschewed hiring mercenaries for protection; many of its founding members had been abused and ill-treated by corporate armies during the Far Planet Revolution. Instead they formed their own militia to dissuade pirates and raiders. They are fortunately far enough away from Wun’Tux space to become a viable target – especially since the creation of EWO Outposts -though traders heading to and from New Bambara have suffered the occasional Hirudin Blackfin attack.

Jaipur

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Jaipur was the name of a ‘residential’ UCW within the Jai Beta star system. Detailed scans of Jai Beta were part of the first wave of information leaked by Veritas. This information was seized upon and quickly claimed by a convoy of people from Earth’s India who set off in spite of a UN ban on such colonies.

Jai Beta III is a heavily wooded planet with a significant sized habitable zone. The climate within this zone is similar to Southern Europe and well suited to growing crops. Around ten thousand colonists (led by wealthy industrial farmers escaping the Asian Coalition) settled on the world near the start of the Second Age. They were far enough away from the Core to avoid unwanted attention and interference.

Early colony life was difficult; learning to farm an alien landscape had a steep learning curve. But the settlement steadily grew and developed; the ten thousand colonists eager to grasp the opportunity to live away their previously crowded existences needed a lot of food and had the incentive to grow it.
Jaipur grew in both population and stature throughout the Second Age. It became the terminus in a black market trade route – freighters would bring luxury and consumer goods to Jaipur in exchanged for food and crops which could then be sold on to more industrial colonies. The ruling council hired a small mercenary troop to protect the world for opportunistic raiders and pirates and all seemed well.

This charmed existence didn’t last, however. A Wun’Tux scouting party found the colony at the dawn of the Third Age. Although chased off by the local mercenary guard, the BroodClan soon returned in force. Jaipur’s protectors were quickly routed and the colony was laid bare for the slavers to pick clean. The Wun’Tux had no use for the planet itself – they abducted the majority of the population to make into slaves and left the old and weak to die. They burned crops and destroyed buildings. The destruction and chaos was discovered by a regular trader, the ISS Kiwako, and reported to the UN. There was little sympathy within the Core worlds, however. Instead there was a general feeling of ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’.

The LCS-08

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The LCS-08 (aka The Washington-class) is a newer American capital ship brought into service following the tactical and technological advances of the Forth Age. LCS stands for Littoral Combat Ship – a term originally applied to small vessels able to operate closer to shore than most naval assets – denotes the ship’s ability to manoeuvre effectively in vacuum as well as atmosphere.

The Washington is neither as agile as the Ankur or as sturdy as the Bremen; it occupies the ground between these two extremes. It fulfils a variety of roles within the USEF; anything from independent patrols to participating in larger fleet actions alongside Strike Carriers and the like. It is also used to transport VIPs and other assets through the lawless Rim territories – the firepower at its disposal is usually enough to discourage most pirates and raiders and it is quick enough to flee more powerful threats.

The ships firepower consists of two ‘Starsnipe’ flak turrets, a medium-range photonic cannon and a rear mounted warhead launcher. The latter is unusual for the ship’s size – it gives the vessel the ability to engage targets at longer ranges and hidden from line of sight. The downside of the launcher is the limited ammunition; when it is out of missiles it becomes quite useless. This renders it unsuitable for prolonged engagements.

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It is these missiles which tend to give the Washington the edge against their most common foe – the Wun’Tux Clanship. The thick armour of the latter can be difficult to penertrate with photonic cannons; LCS-08s deployed on anti-Wun’Tux operations are equipped with ‘Havok’ armour piercing missiles to balance the scales.

LCS-02s (prototype precursors to the 08) took part in the USEF Fleet Action at Dronta VIII, spearheading the attack on Wun’Tux ships guarding the slave market. They were subsequently able to achieve suborbital altitudes and launch accurate against Wun’Tux armour and fortifications.
In more recent times, the Washington-class has been deployed alongside Taft-class Strike Carriers in extended operations in Wun’Tux territory. Typically the ships are outfitted with longer-ranged, ‘stand off’ missiles and able to discourage or soften up Wun’Tux targets before engaging. In worse case scenarios (e.g. a larger enemy presence than predicted) this stand-off capability can give USEF forces breathing room in which to retreat.

Engineers at Highpoint have successfully modified the base design into distinct combat variants. The LCS-ASW (aka the ‘Rhode Island’ class) is perhaps the most popular. This version swaps the warhead launcher for a launchpad capable of carrying, arming and repairing a shuttle-scale ship. This is most commonly a Vaquero-class gunship; a well armed craft bristling with sensors. This ASW (anti-stealth warfare) variant is designed to detect and defend against stealthy foes; the main ones being the Hirudin. The gunship is able to act as spotter for the LCS but is also more than capable of engaging common interlopers (like Blackfins) independently.

ISS Jezebel

Blockade Runner

The ISS Jezebel is officially an independent trading ship. In reality she is one of the primo blockade runners throughout the Rimward territories. Her oversized engines combine with the Devil-may-care attitude to form an effective (if blunt) tool.

The ship is crewed by a mix of humans and Curoto. The latter are more naturally at home amongst the cramped spaces inside the ship; the human part of the crew are happy to take on the heavy lifting whilst the Curoto crawl around ventilation ducts.

She is noteworthy for having ran blockades previously deemed insurmountable; most famously against the European Union during the Pan-Eurasian War. This underdog spirit has led to a Robin Hood type mystique about the ship but the reality is much more plain – the Coalition paid more money.

The trick to her effectiveness lies not only in her oversized engines; her captain and crew revel in recklessness and ignore all recognised advice by exiting FTL jumps at full throttle. This manoeuvre can cause massive internal damage to a ship and yet gives a ‘running start’ to any blockade evasion and is incredibly difficult to predict.

The Tordov System

Tordov

Tordov V is a ‘ghost world’; once a burgeoning European Union colony now desolate and empty.

Early in the conflict with the Wun’Tux, mankind scaled back colonisation efforts; governments prioritised the ability to protect a colony over any favourable resources or environmental conditions. Survey ships continued to search for new worlds and report their findings. One planet discovered at the start of the Third Age stood out as particularly tempting.

The fifth planet of the Tordov system was similar to Earth in size, had a oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and welcoming climate. Topographical scans indicated layers of ore and ‘rare’ earth metals, too. It was, however, on the cusp of Wun’Tux territory; well within the reach of their patrols. The major powers declined the opportunity to colonise one by one until the European Union bucked the trend.

A large fleet of Pan-Eurasian War era vessels accompanied the colonisers. They transported the materials to build an orbital defence platform capable of targeting multiple targets at long range and were crewed by veterans of the drawn-out war with the Asian Coalition. They were led by decorated war hero Admiral Grigor Golovko – a man who held great influence and knew how to use it. They considered themselves prepared.

For six busy months no threat emerged. Construction on the surface took shape; the first city expanded and grew. The defence station was tested and found to fuction and the fleet ran readiness drills on a regular basis. Golovko had hoped a show of force would convince the Wun’Tux to leave the world alone. But it didn’t.

The Wun’Tux came eight months after the colony formation – scouting parties at first; easily driven away by the Union ships. But these forays were only testing the water.

BroodClan Xylos arrived with a hundred ships – an intimidating formation of capital ships and Twinfang escort. The orbital defence station opened fire the fleet at extreme range – each shot destroyed or critically damaged a Wun’Tux attacker. But the reptiles had arranged their weakest ships at the front of the vanguard; the station’s cannon was unable to attack anything of real value as the aggressors drew inexorably closer.

Golovko’s forces had cut their teeth against the smaller, quicker adversaries of the Asian Coalition. They were not used to fighting against slow, armoured foes such as the Wun’Tux. Their organised formations were easily targeted by the stronger Wun’Tux weaponry. Ships exchanged fire at the periphery of the battle; the Union counterparts coming off the worse.

The orbital defence platform came under fire next. Although heavily shielded and thickly armoured, it presented a static target. The larger Wun’Tux ships formed a flying ‘square’ and concentrated fire from their biggest guns. Salvo after salvo began to ship away at the station; Golovko and his best ships were diverted to tackle these ships but they were outnumbered and harassed constantly by Enforcers and Gunships.

The facility lasted an hour under sustained fire; it was able to inflict critical damage on several of the larger Wun’Tux ships but was soon surrounded and overpowered. The explosion was seen from the planet’s surface and sent colonists into panic; rioting and escape attempts made the Union’s ground defence near impossible. An attempt to rally around Golovko’s flagship was brought to a quick end by it’s destruction; Union forces were routed and staged a ragged retreat. Wun’Tux utilised their air superiority to besiege and bombard Union ground forces into submission. The assault lasted four days; defenders held out hope of reinforcement but the Union Navy were unable and unwilling to gather enough ships to try to break the siege.

Xylos harvested wave after wave of slaves; their main Broodmothers took the best specimens and traded away the rest to less respected BroodClans. The old and sick were left alone on the planet; the reptiles did not consider them worth even a quick death.

The ruins of the colony remain; decrepit, overgrown and home only to the rodent-like scavengers native to the world. The occasionally enterprising human ignores the ghost stories about the colony to head down and raid for scrap or old equipment but most stay away – through fear, respect or a mixture of both.

The loss at Tordov V – along with the disastrous conflict with the Oroso –  prompted a major overhaul in the European military thinking and equipment.

Ankur Corvette

The Ankur-class Corvette is a small capital ship fielded by the Asian Coalition. It was designed as a rapid reaction asset and escort ship and often acting as picket vessel for Mobile Defence Groups.

The Coalition spent most of the war against the Union harassing and staging hit-and-run offensives and counter-offensives with old and fragile vessels unable to go toe-to-toe with Union capital ships. The Ankur is a design suited to harassment but built to a modern, sturdy and reliable standard. It is the fastest mass produced human capital ship on record and has relative agility to match its straight-line speed. The majority of the armament is comprised of autocannons; basic and effective weaponry with a high rate of fire. Although not particularly effective against armour, the turreted autocannons are good all-round performers.

The Ankur was found to be particularly effective in the defence of the colony at Ermina III. The Wun’Tux aggressors were using Bastions to bring heavy fighter support in their raids; a tactic the established Coalition forces couldn’t easily counter. The first ‘lance’ of four Ankurs was rushed to this front and into combat against the Wun’Tux. Autocannons couldn’t penetrate durillium armour plating but were very effective against the external fighter racks of the Wun’Tux carriers. These four ships led hit-and-run raids against the Wun’Tux, targeting their fighter racks before retreating. This effectively neutralised half of the threat from the invading BroodClan and brought the offensive to a halt.

The ships are relatively expensive and lack the sturdy armour and substructures of comparable craft (i.e. the Bremen-class). They are especially vulnerable in drawn-out battles in which their speed and agility is negated.

The Magpies

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The 24th Irregulars, aka the Magpies, are a group of British privateers named for their love of precious materials and shiny things. They have an old fashioned letter of Marquee to the crown and raid on Her Majesty’s behalf around the Rim, striking enemies of the crown and taking their loot as fair reward. This puts them into conflict most with the various human bandits, like the Black Moon Union, as well as the Wun’Tux and Hirudin.

The 24th are a motley crew; motivations for joining differ greatly from person to person. The lion’s share of Magpies are retired Commonwealth servicepeople; forced out of the service by age but still full of vigour. They also accept people who have been ejected or forced to resign from the armed services and give them another chance. They are forgiving just the once; anyone caught abusing this second chance are seldom heard from again. Unlike your common mercenary, a Magpie has a sense of honour and allegiance to more than money. Their letter of Marquee guarantees such.

The group uses a mixed bag of military surplus; mostly British cast-offs. It’s most recognisable ship is painted the black and white of their namesake and features sweeping, bird-like wings to hammer the point home. These were once Type-34 Minelayers but have been re-purposed into warships capable of carrying externally racked fighters from raid to raid. These fighters are almost always reconditioned T-27s given a second lease of life under a new banner.

The Silverfish

'Steelbug' MMT

The ‘Silverfish’ track-tank is an old fashioned idea in a very modern world; a tracked vehicle in a hovering world. It lacks many modern conveniences of advanced navigation, electronics and power management systems – the designers aimed more towards the prosaic function and ease of construction. The result was a cheap, tough little tank.

The Silverfish is constructed from reasonably common materials, meaning it can be made in a variety of settings. Models have been assembled within the cargo bays of naval ships, and counter-insurgents have even built constructed versions of the vehicle in abandoned warehouses, right under the noses of their opponents. Although single Silverfish struggle in an even fight with the more modern tanks, walkers and crawlers they are near-impervious to small arms fire and can move quickly around built up areas, small enough to manoeuvre on roads meant for cars.

'Steelbug' MMT

The tank is used predominantly by the mobile divisions of an army, e.g. the Marines. It needs very little resupply and can move with a mobile force; given sufficient parachute/grav-chute support the vehicle can even be dropped onto a planet with orbital insertion parties.

'Steelbug' MMT

The basic model features a reliable auto-cannon turret. The ‘B’ model is equipped with a more advanced armour-piercing variant, suitable for anti-armour operations.

Salamander Armoured Crawler

AC-27 'Salamander'

AC-27 'Salamander'

Armoured Crawlers are a hybrid between traditional tracked tanks and the more modern bipedal walkers. They combine the sturdy armour of the former with the adaptability of the latter to create an affordable and stalwart part of any ground force.

The ‘Salamander’ is a human vehicle, designed and marketed by the Northropp Terrestrial Division and supplied primarily to US forces. It is heavily armoured and capable of withstanding damage which would destroy other craft of it’s stature.

It’s default armament takes the form of a anti-material cannon mounted on it’s back. This weapon can target both ground and sub-orbital enemy targets at mid-to-long range. Salamanders are typical commandeered by Generals and other high-ranking individuals, placed at the core of a defensive formation or the rear of an attack.

On the defensive.

Above: A Salamander as part of a defence on a tank factory against a Wun’Tux scouting party

The Sharp Suits

Sharp

The Sharp Suits are a division of the Tailored Saint mercenary group. Their moniker is a play on words based around their specialisation (or obsession) with edged and razor sharp weapons.

They are far from simple knife thugs, however. The ‘Suits are just as high-tech as their colleagues within the Tailored Saints; their weapons are always crafted out of difficult or impossible to detect materials and are stored stealthily about their person. Their ability to be covert makes them very much in demand; targets often don’t realise anything is amiss until it’s too late. The Sharp Suits’ ability to blend into a crowd belies their combat abilities; they are exceptionally dangerous in close quarters. The Sharp Suits train more than the rest of the Tailored Angels; some of whom rely too much on the enhancing abilities of their undersuits. Not so the Sharp Suits, who are physically strong and lithe and quick before technology.

They are expertly trained in hand-to-hand fighting and the use of throwing weapons and their environment to gain an adventage; they often utilise a mix of freeclimbing and parkour to gain an advantage. Their alacrity combined with their armoured undersuits means they can survive damage that might kill a regular operative; it is common for an assailant to think they have killed a Sharp Suit only to recieve a deadly surprise of their own.