Armature Noir

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The Advertisement

WANTED: the services of several beautiful, elegant, HOT female knights. Must be skilled combat pilots but also graceful, desirable and capable of holding their own at parties as well as in the cockpit of a Armature, and be willing to guard paradise beaches and other hotspots. Interested parties should send a picture of themselves in their interface suit to the reply address to this email.

Compensation is twenty thousand gold etched marks per month, plus a fifty thousand mark sign up bonus.

When you got the proposal, you thought for a moment your agent AI was malfunctioning. On first reading it seemed like one of those jobs where the client tries to pay you in beer or turnips, or actually wants you to act in their film school production. After remonstrating with the AI, it turned out it wasn't bugged out. This was a real job for real badass condottieri like you. The client, one Domoto Daisuke is an eccentric, Otaku and retardedly rich shut in who owns his own Island in the Argo system. He really can throw twenty K at you like it's pocket change.

On the one hand, your condottieri pride is a bit pricked that he wants something as weird as an all female guard force (I mean seriously is this guy from the 20th century?) on the other hand, twenty thousand is your usual yearly pay, not monthly, and the market for Armature pilots is saturated ever since the end of the negotiations to conclude the Third Alpha Centauri War concluded three months ago. There's only so long you can live on pride... and apparently Argo-3 has some pretty amazing beaches.

Besides, it sounds like an easy job. If this playboy was really in danger he wouldn't be looking to drool over his protectors right? It'll be twenty thousand a month for nothing.

Network Era 282

It's two hundred and eighty two years since the network war, when humanity and it's machines rested control of the vast jump web that links the stars together from the alien entities that controlled it. A great era of commerce and expansion has resulted, building from the habitable planets of Sol, Argo, Fallen Reach and Down across a web of stations, rock colonies and less habitable planetary stations.

Unfortunately,(or fortunately if you're a condottieri) this is also an age of conflict. Human settlements, once separated by years of travel through restricted, alien controlled networks have come increasingly into conflict, and Expansion has seen a continual set of changes to the international order, resulting in wars, migrations and skirmishes.

In this era, most weapons are purely machines, controlled by AIs and guided by human hands in shelters behind the line, or in fast moving command vehicles or aboard orbiting space ship. There is only one exception to this rule: the Armature.

Built around a core of retro-engineered plant life taken from the incomprehensibly old and just plain incomprehensible alien Laughers, Armatures need a sapient pilot, human or AI called a user to interface directly with them for control, and even now the bandwidth demands are just too high for teleoperation. The bonus for this system is incredible speed and reflexes, way better even than the best combat drone. The price though is that Armatures almost have to be humanoid, for all the costs that extracts in terms of armouring scheme. At the very least, you need legs.

Your average Armature weighs in at five to eight tons and armed with an array of particle beams and smart missiles which let you knock out a tank drone. They can fight in space, aboard ships or stations or on the ground with equal efficiency. Armature pilots have become a breed apart, romanticized like the fighter pilots and knights of old, with their own pride and code. It was Armatures and their pilots that won the network war two hundred years ago, and you've only got more badass since then.

The most romanticized of all are the condottieri, ronin warriors who fight for pay and for the joy of it.

That would be you.

You

You are a condottieri, a mercenary mecha pilot who controls an Armature, a heavily armed machine built around a core of alien machinery that allows you to fight more skilfully even than the best human combat drone.

In order to get this gig, you have to be female and at least fairly hot.

Making your Character

As amazing as your giant robot is, it's merely an aspect of your soul. You are the user and the primary determinant of victory. You have eight stats, four for inside your Armature, four for outside. You have twelve points to divide between your Armature stats and twelve points to divide between your personal stats.

Stats have a minimum of 1 unless you can give a good reason why (for instance, you might be a bodiless AI with physical 0)

Stats in an Armature

Interface
Your ability to make the Laugher tech inside respond to you. This determines your initiative, spot and your ability to resist shocks from anti-Armature weapons and metric altering devices
Pilot
Your pure piloting ability, also your ability to fight in melee
Gunnery
your ability to shoot a gun.
Electronic Warfare
Your ability to win the electromagnetic battle.

Stats in Person

Physical
How tough and strong you are.
Intelligence
Your smarts and attention to detail, also determines how good at noticing things you are.
Charisma
Your charm and poise
Resolve
Your ability to mentally tough it out in difficult situations.

Making your Armature

Pick three traits (You can create your own)In general each trait can give you +2 to a roll on a stat or grant a special ability such as greater speed or the ability to evade sensors.

The Client

Domoto Daisuke was born twenty eight years ago in Tokyo on Earth. Though a child of a rich family he was an apparently purposeless youth, who lived a shut in existence after he left home and education, without a steady job. Daisuke rose to fame however after developing a series of software and investment tools which created him a vast fortune, including the sycamore automodding system, which automatically modifies games and other content to better fit the users taste, and several very successful investment AIs.

Daisuke is best known however for leading a group of programmers across Sol and other systems to create the new version of the Amnis interstellar networking protocols which form the basis of modern interstellar network data sharing.

Daisuke is a mostly unmodified human, by his own choice, having publicly declared that it is "More manly to stay a standard human than artificially boost yourself genetically!" this has not stopped him from having his age adjusted to stay a permanent, physical nineteen and having himself cloned at least five times and linked his bodies together into a single, multi-bodied network.

Daisuke is noted to be an obsessive collector of 20th and 21st century anime and games, and his interests extend to animated productions up to the modern day. He also collects model robots of various kinds. He currently lives on Argo-3 in Domoto Islands (a chain of Islands about as large as the Hawaiian Islands on earth), which he has bought and runs as his own sovereign nation. He now mostly lives on the money he has and various investments, and user fees for previously created products though he is known to occasionally create something new.

Apart from Daisuke, the islands play host to a population consisting almost entirely of his servants, and an advanced robotic defense force built by Milspear PLC.

Contemporary Warfare

Up until the beginning of the century, the trend in humanities war fighting had been to increasingly hand over it conducted through machine intermediary since the mid twenty first century. The Network War was the ultimate example of this, with the human mind (even enhanced with the technology of the time) being almost unable to come to grips with the conditions within the Jump web, and thus relaying on the deployment of drones to conduct offensives against the aliens strong hold.

Even in the less hostile environment of the normal relativistic universe, wide use of anti-biological WMDs such as gazer bombs, concern about casualties and the simple superiority of machine strength and reflexes over even those of an augmented human relegated human combatants to heavily protected bunkers, combat star ships and command vehicles far behind the line.

This hegemony of expert systems came to an end with the first Alpha Centauri war one hundred and twenty years ago. Using technology derived from the alien laughers, the Downian Space Army deployed advanced manned direct fire units called Armatures. To the disbelief of their Solarian and Centauri opponents, these Armatures proved more than a match for most forms of contemporary combat drones, with vastly superior reflexes and manoeuvring ability.

The second force in contemporary conflicts has been the rise of mercenaries, both large PMCs and their rivals, the small, often single person condottieri corporations. Few except large powers have the wish or resources to maintain a large standing army for their defence, and the end of direct biological involvement has rendered mass conscription obsolete. Rather than maintain vast numbers of expensive combat machines, most states now hire mercenary armies in times of crisis.

The major difference between PMCs and condottieri is the latter's wide use of Armatures, where as the former tends to relay on autonomous weapons. PMCs tend to regard condottieri as glory hound ronin without regard for corporate process, where as condottieri almost universally regard PMCs as huge, bullying and often immoral due to their use to governments wishing riot control over their resistant population.

Major Factions and Machines

Sol Union

The Solar Union is perhaps humanities most potent state... and it's most over committed. Consisting of almost all of the surface of the earth except China and a few other entities, and most of the other solar bodies capable of holding habitation not claimed by these nations, the Sol Union still controls the largest minority of humanity under it's government. Despite this, the Union's formidable resources have been further and further stretched lately by growing commitments elsewhere, including in the Alpha Centuari system and on the frontier.

The Union's government, the Union is a representative democracy with voters voting to determine the personality and policy views of the AI that will represent them under a proportional system.

Drones

The Sol Union uses a bewildering array of drones, with numerous prominent manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Milspear, Bostvacan, UVZ and Bumar, Union Guard Drones forces are usually regarded as the best in the business.

Armatures

The Sol Union has only recently begun acquiring it's own Armatures, after several false starts, and tends to use condottieris even more extensively than other powers.

China

The last independent power in Sol, China's political, military and economic might are so great that it has managed to stand successfully against the entire Sol Union and stay fully independent (as opposed to Special Autonomous regions like Russia and Brazil). China has a string of colonies, some founded before the current network era, and most at least nominally loyal to the Chinese central government. Currently China has an alliance of convenience with Down to contain the Union and it's allies.

China is governed by direct democratic principles.

The Chinese army is a heavy user of combined arms with many specialist units.

Drones

Chinese drones are highly popular on international markets, and used by numerous PMCs, most notably Terra Incognita.

Quing:

A heavy spider like gun platform. The Quing can protect its self with a shield in one aspect, and engage foes with missiles from the other.

Jian:

A light HCU (Humanoid Combat Unit), armed with close combat blades and rail guns. Lightly armoured but very agile.

Dao:

A micro gunship drone, designed to support HCU and Armatures in combat.

Zhanmadao:

A Space Fighter Drone, used to protect Chinese warships. Some variants have suicide warheads.

Chúi

A heavy HCU, one of the biggest in current production. Armed with a heavy multi-rifle that fires a variety of shells at a very high rate of fire.

Armatures

Iron Dragon

The original type of Chinese Armature, now mostly out of service or upgraded. Based on Downian designs.

Steel Dragon

A powerful, multi-role armature, still making up the bulk of Chinese forces. It has an excellent balance between speed, armour and weapons, and a reputation for extreme toughness, though these features come at a cost of some measure of gadgetry, meaning sensory and ECM data is usually augmented by attached support drones.

A plethora of specialist types have been produced, generally designated by color, such as the Red Dragon (a fire support type) the Blue Dragon (ECM) the Yellow Dragon (used by aggressor squadrons) and the Green Dragon (a specialist atmospheric combat unit)

Diamond Dragon

The newest development of Chinese armature technology, the Diamond Dragon is an expanded version of the Steel Dragon, it's larger frame holding powerful ECM emitters and sensor systems, as well as a Laugher communication system mounted in the head, giving it the nickname "Horned Dragon." The Diamond Dragon is used only by elite Chinese Units.

Grey Phoenix

A specialist aerospace superiority Armature, the Grey Phoenix is a very new design, fielded mostly by test pilots. One was recently stolen.

Black Kirin

A special forces Armature, used by the elite RRF rapid reaction Forces. The Kirin is invisible to standard sensor types.

Down

Perhaps the strongest force opposing the Sol Union is Down, also know as Gliese 581 g, one of humanity's oldest colonies. The Downians live entirely in space, trading extensively with the native civilization that exists on the surface of Down, but not living their due to the planets high gravity and unsuited biochemistry. Still, as the first colony to have a habitable planet beneath it, Down Station was uniquely independent from Earth.

Down was also one of the vanguard powers during the network wars, agressively expanding into the network and enduring several of the most vicious counter attacks by the Network Entities, several areas of the Down system remain quarantined due to these strikes.

Since the war, Down has become increasingly hostile to the Sol Union, mostly due to competing claims to the Alpha Centuari system.

Down's Government is a direct democracy, with different numbers of votes allocated by AI due to qualification and good decision making.

Drones

Down makes fairly limited use of drones, considering them strictly support units and escorts.

Armatures

Down invented Armatures, and so they have a ton of different types.

PMCs and other organizations

Terra Incognita

The Frontier's premier PMC, Terra Incognita has a good reputation for a PMC, concentrating on pirate hunting, colonial protection and cadre training, while avoiding the nastier assignments such as riot suppression or union busting. Despite this, there are several rumours of war crimes involving their treatment of prisoners.

Terra Incognita uses Chinese drones.

Sierra

The largest PMC in existence, Sierra is a vertically integrated company, producing it's own drones and munitions, and with a space fleet capable of matching most middle rank powers. Sierra's services are much in demand by various governments, and they played a prominent role in the third Alpha Centauri war. Sierra's battle methodology relies on a combination of high quality units, and 'force multipliers' such as stealth, ECM, small drone units such as Bits and specialist command units to leverage their highly trained forces even when fighting superior numbers of enemies.

Promethium HICU:

a heavy infantry combat unit armed with plasma guns, deployed in ship corridors mostly. Deploys with microbot swarms

Samarium Spider Tank:

a heavy spider tank deployed for Zero G work, armed with a heavy railgun and missile launchers. Deploys several drones.

Lutetium Gunship:

a smallish gunship drone, capable of operating both in space and atmosphere.

Lanthanum HCU:

general purpose HCU, the mainstay of Sierra units. Armed with several autonomous drones and particle beams. Deploys octopus drone/combat backpack.

Europium Space Control Drone:

an autonomous combat space vehicle deployed to defend Sierra ships. Uses a bit system and several larger 'options'

Gadolinium Support Drone:

a lightly armed scout drone, very stealthy.

Dysprosium SuCU:

a ball/octopus style Surface combat unit

Cerium Autotank

a heavy ground tank, used mostly as a defensive unit.

Milspear

A prominent European based drone manufacturer.

Dust 514

A PMC local to Argo Station, uses heavily armoured units.

Traveling Fire

A PMC local to Argo Station, tends to use spider gun platforms.

Dragon Line

A prominent Chinese PMC. Use Chinese drones.

Silver Dragoons

A Sol Union PMC, The Silver Dragoons exist almost as an adjunct to the Union Government and take only Union jobs, they use a variety of drone types, and have many TV series about their adventurers.

Reaver's Guild

The most organized group of pirates in the area around Argo, employing numerous converted cargo and hauler units as warships. They also employ old Thunor and Wodan drones.

Ships at Argo Station

Sierra Warship Eyes of Orion

A heavily converted Mordred Class Cruiser, the Eyes of Orion began as the HMS Wraith, built in the last generation of cruisers before the Commonwealth Administrative Region of the Sol Union converted over to the three vessel arrangement adopted by Union Guard forces during the third Alpha Centurai war. The Eyes of Orion has been heavily converted and it's hull stretched. Some of it's cargo space and living quarters have been sacrificed to allow a Type-VI Reactor salvaged from a Downian Victor class assault ship to be fitted into it's hull, along with additional fuel and reaction mass tanks, and its jammers and combat electronics have been replaced with proprietary Sierra models. It also seems to have additional missile and drone cradles mounted.

Cruisers like the Eyes of Orion remain more popular than assault ships with many PMCs due to their long endurance, ability to operate independently, and comfortable crew quarters.

Terra Incognita Warship Kris

The Kris, a Reach designed assault ship is smaller, but a decade more modern than the Eyes of Orion, indeed she seems new off the slip. Assault ships are powerful vessels, designed to directly engage enemy space craft with their massive array of very powerful multipurpose rail guns and particle beams. The biggest threat to one is a Striker, a stealthy, fast missile armed attack unit, but these are rare anywhere but in organized fleets.

The Kris has apparently returned from attacking a pirate base in the outer Argo system and is undergoing resupply.