The SAA-H is an Illayko vehicle officially designated as the Strategic Armoured Artillery (Hover) and has seen various upgrades since its introduction to active service.
It features just one weapon, a high-output particle cannon capable of inflicting high damage at medium to long range. The combination of this weapon and the high manoeuvrability made the armour an flexible and effective battleground asset.
The SAA-H has seen action in a number of major historic battles of the Illayko people. Most famously, regiments of SAA-Hs launched an ambush against dropships of the Gnobo League during their assault on Ompolor VII, blunting the assault and starting the counter attack against the invaders.
Conversely, the SAA-H was outclassed and outgunned during the Wun’Tux invasion of Illayko territory. Its agility and manoeuvrability were wasted when under siege or sustained assault from the heavier armour of the reptile forces.
The pictured example is seen leaving a Forward Operating Base during the battle of Ompolor VII.
Soril Tulaco (aka the ‘Merry Major’) is a pariah from the people for whom he was once a figure of hope and survival. Soril cut his teeth as a P-22 pilot during the Illayko–Gnobo conflicts, becoming an ace at a very young age. His skill in battle combined with his loquacious, friendly character led to a peacetime role as head of recruitment and training. He was drumming up new recruits for the Illayko Defence Force (IDF) on a outlying colony world when the Wun’Tux invasion began. His small staff of soldiers marshalled the recruits and civilians against the interlopers; Soril himself took to the sky in his P-22 to battle the incoming fightercraft. His unit, meanwhile, concentrated fire on the troop carriers; destroying them before they could drop troops and equipment. This stern resistance was witnessed by thousands of colonists and broadcast on newsreels to hundreds of thousands more – Soril and his tight-knit team became heroes overnight.
Glory is fleeting, however, and as the tide of war turned against the Illayko, Soril’s fortunes followed. When the border fell his unit followed the Wun’Tux invaders deeper and deeper into Illayko territory, conducting hit-and-run attacks at the Wun’Tux weak spots as they went. All of their work, however, was for naught – Ehoi fell following a brief siege. As the Illayko struggled to evacuate civilians and politicians, the Major’s group were one of the units covering the huge airlift. They paid heavily for it – 80% of his men dead, his right eye and left leg lost following a near suicidal attack on a Clanship.
Following their slow limp to a new home the Illayko had little need for soldiers. Worse still, an irrational and angry surviving population blamed the military for their loss and the following devastation. Soril joined many other veterans on the galaxy’s mercenary books.
Oddly, Soril lacks the bitter resentment which characterises his old comrades-in-arms. The original war reports followed his exploits in part due to his upbeat nature and irrepressible cheer in the face of adversity. Even following the conflict and the treatment by his own people, Soril’s garrulous spirit seemed undiminished – hence his nickname “the Merry Major”. When spoken to about the war, his losses and the terrible fallout he airs towards the philosophical.
The present day ‘Major’ leads an elite band of Illayko veterans as soldiers-for-hire. Their expertise with Illayko weaponry (the whisper hatchet, particle projectors and the like) make them highly desired in close-combat situations. They field a pair of P-22 Warspites for operations necessitating aerial or astral support. Unlike other Illayko mercenaries, the Major and his men don’t give preference to work targeting the Wun’Tux.
Above: The Major’s P-22, with custom paintjob and ECM suite.