By Lord_Johnathan Comments
At first glance, the Mediterranean Syndicate is an international electronics, weapons and industrial mega-corporation with an unusual obsession for the Classical Era. Neon lights and glass skyscrapers mingle with columns and frescoes of long-dead heroes and the golden statues of pagan gods, and grim-faced security personnel mix ancient armour with high-powered weapons and cybernetic prosthetics. Though initially the Syndicate appear nothing more than eccentric, under the corporate facade lie ancient secrets.
The Syndicate Corporate Logo, often used on business cards, stationery and bumper stickers.
The company was first formed in the 1850s as the industrial age was starting to be born, and a young man under the alias "Romulus" was seeking to share his inherited fortune. His goal was to create a group of security companies that worked and operated under one headquarters situated in Rome, Italy. At first, the idea was a success as many contractors were looking for a source of consistent research funding, though the 1930s hit them hard and fast.
By 1932, the organisation had recovered from near bankruptcy, though their methods of acquiring the money were questioned. When an inquiry was made by the Italian Special Anti-Mafia General Attorney, the Syndicate cited that they were not to be held responsible for the actions of their clients. Numerous reports were filed regarding the aforementioned "clients", though all the cases fell through due to a lack of evidence (and possible forgery).
What happened to Romulus since then has been a mystery. His alias has allowed him to become shrouded in complete secrecy. The top executives of the Syndicate are rarely mentioned and require heavy security to even exchange a few words with. The only legacy of his that remains is the fantastic Classical architecture that adorns every Syndicate structure, as he has an obsession for everything from the age of the Roman Empire.During the Second World War, the Syndicate attempted to sell their services to both the allies and axis. But was ultimately turned down by both because of the lack of high-powered weaponry, and its shady dealings with the underworld. Through the next decade, the Syndicate began to buy out science and engineering companies in order to improve their technology. By 1960, they had become the world's largest military corporation, and unknown to the public, possessed some of the world's most dangerous weaponry.
The Underworld; or, Extreme Takeover: Rome Edition
To be sure, everyone knows something is a bit off about the megacorporation, and most intelligence agencies consider them to be a criminal organization, if only they could get any proof. The fact is, the Syndicate has its hooks in everything, every level of criminality all over the world. They are the ultimate mafia with the perfect front.What is not immediately obvious about the Syndicate is their deep connections with the criminal elements of society, worldwide. Throughout its history there have been many inquires and investigations, digging deep into the complex web of hundreds of companies that make up the Syndicate, but it has always been fruitless. The Syndicate is simply too big, covers too many areas, and often operates in the remote, lawless regions of the Earth.
By far the most profitable areas of underground Syndicate activity is the drug trade and arms dealing. The Syndicate, in addition to controlling the conventional drug trade, have a wide variety of pharmaceutical companies that have turned themselves over to the manufacture of ever more potent and addicting synthetic drugs; Nuke, 'Slaught, Octagons, Spice, Dust; under a million names from a million alleyways the Syndicate has its stamp on the world.
Not only that, but they have hundreds of associated companies dedicated to the creation of tools of war for the lesser nations in their constant petty squabbles across the globe. They are where countless warlords get vehicles such as pincer IFVs, and the ones who provided the GLA with the ammunition for their ancient guns.
Wherever life is taken, the Syndicate make a profit. Because of these shady deals, they are in constant rivalry with another arms dealer: International INC whose convoys and shipments of arms and civilian aid bearing their corporate logo tend to disappear in areas with strong Syndicate presence, causing great tension and reluctance for International Inc to deal with the Syndicate. Despite that, both organisations cooperate with each other, for unknown reasons.
Lately, though, the corporation has released many press reports dealing with the advancement of spacecraft and seem to have their eyes focused on the stars; for that is the future of the Syndicate, to provide the most advanced security systems on the planet, even if it means annihilating the competition. Recently, Stark Enterprises and Wayne industries were bought up by the Syndicate and International Inc, destroying both companies forever.
The syndicate dominates Italy, Greece, New Zealand, the Congo, Guyana, the American west coast, Central America, Afghanistan, and has sprawls all over the planet and a noticeable presence in virtually every nation on Earth. Even Tenebrasque dominated nations have some Syndicate presence, for such is the power of capitalism.
"It is a telling sign that they did not consider a normal wolf to be fierce enough."
Wolves have long had a place in the culture of the Syndicate. It is rumored that Romulus owned a pet wolf he called Remus, a faithful companion and fierce protector that was always at his side. Darker rumors swirled that the wolf was name was more deeply symbolic than most realized, that Romulus had seen to the death of a close friend or even brother at some point and named the creature as a reminder of the act. As is often the case with the Syndicate, nothing was ever proven.
In emulation of their founder, the Syndicate has taken the wolf as a symbol of war. Many legions have adapted a symbolic representation of the creature as their unit badges, and statues or relief sculpture of the creatures adorn many corporate headquarters and military bases. It's therefore not terribly surprising that, as the Syndicate moved into cybernetics, they would find use for the creature. Really, the biggest surprise is that it took as long as it did.
Bred in captivity and modified extensively, War Wolves are quite possibly one of the most terrifying things on four legs. Bred to be bigger and meaner than any wild wolf could evolve to be, these creatures would be frightening enough as they were, but the Syndicate were not satisfied just yet. Like a great many citizens of the Sprawls, the War Wolf has undergone a process known as cyberization, the implantation of computers into the nervous system. A cyber-brain, a wetware/hardware interface, has been installed around the brain, while the eyes have been replaced with digital camera lenses. In the body, the spine itself has been swapped out for an electronic equivalent that replaces biological synapses with fibre-optic cables, enhancing their reflexes, and titanium plates have been worked under the skin in areas that might be exposed to enemy fire. The process leaves the animal as much machine as wolf, a horrifying and crude amalgam of fur, flesh and steel that most consider profoundly disturbing. Metal plates are exposed at the joints where the skin has worn away, while the cortex and spine implants protrude out of scar tissue, and the eyes glow a sickly yellow. When this once noble creature howls, its dirge is accompanied by the disruptive screech of a dying modem that causes lights to flicker and electronics to fail. What was once a noble beast has now become a living nightmare.
Yet, the process to create a War Wolf is but half-done. Thanks to enhancements to the intellect, War Wolves benefit from a training regime that will hone their inborn skills. Through their cyber-brains is fed a simstim (simulated stimulation) feed, which is monitored by specially programmed artificial intelligences. These AIs monitor the behavior of each wolf, relaying them orders by marking targets with falsified scents, creating artificial sounds to lure them forward and, of course, punishing them for failure to comply with simulated pain. It speaks of the effectiveness of the system that these wolves are said never to make the same mistake twice.
On the field, War Wolves usually operate in packs, hunting down hiding enemies and tearing them to pieces with their hydraulic jaws, or disabling squadrons of enemy vehicles and leaving them easy prey for their human masters. Though it is not uncommon for individual wolves to be attached to infantry squads, marking targets on the Battle Matrix for their comrades, wolves operate best in packs, where they can form a small neural network, merging background processes and freeing up processing power to focus on the battle. More than that, though, in these packs the War Wolves simply seem more active; it is speculated that it comforts the creatures to know they do not suffer alone.
Life in the Sprawls is a tough one. It has been compared to London in Dicken's era, though sociologists have noted this is something of an insult to Victorian London. The massive archologies of the Sprawls pack massive numbers of people into giant artificial ant-hills where the land has been so developed that one could live their entire lives without ever seeing the ground proper. The greatest Sprawls have no night or day, just a perpetual gray under the geodesic domes, the lower levels illuminated only by the glow of the neon lights. They are busy, claustrophobic, dirty and dark, and those on the bottom rung often want to escape, even if just for a few hours. Fortunately, nothing is easier in the Sprawls.
Most governments around the world run extensive anti-drug campaigns. In Japan, addiction is a grave dishonour, and drug dealers are ruthlessly hunted by the Yakuza for tarnishing the names of criminals everywhere, the Talon considers drug use to be a grave sin, in Trinity territories; omnipresent health care services push drugs out of the streets, and NATO runs a comprehensive War on Drugs.
In the Sprawls, you can buy recreational drugs at the corner store.
To the Syndicate, drugs are just another form of recreation. The Syndicate's pharmaceutical companies have developed a wide variety of drugs for every situation, ranging from "happy pills"that just make the day brighter to potent injectors that send the user into spirals of psychedelic imagery for hours at a time. Most of these drugs are addicting, though the companies have found that a lower-key, more controllable addiction leads to longer-term customers, and because it wouldn't do to have their citizens overdosing in the streets, these drugs are carefully refined to be fairly safe. As a result of easy access and the relative safety of the habit, pretty much everyone partakes, and socially, the worst side effect seems to be increased junk food consumption and the threat of being ambushed by somebody trying to educate you on how much they love you, "man".
These companies have even gone out of their way to ensure that all the drugs have the same addicting chemical, Smilex, so that the addicted can purchase any of the wide range of drugs to feed their addiction, allowing the companies to market them better. How exactly these circumstances fell into place is completely unknown, and while many a Sprawl-dweller spends hours on the Interwebs arguing it is a sign of the effectiveness of Randian Objectivism, the more likely case is simply corporate policy; the Syndicate don't want their Sprawls being filled with drug killings, street dealers and overdoses. After all, they are too busy exporting all that to other nations. And there is another side to this policy. When the Sprawls are threatened, Legion Security experts hit the streets in armoured vans offering combat webbing, machine-pistols, homemade bombs and free drugs to anyone willing to man the defences. This is the sort of offer that most can't refuse, and they swarm to the vans for a chance to see some glory through the lens of a drug-addled brain.
They follow this van right into combat, while the free doses get stronger and stronger, so that by the time they hit the field, the new Auxiliaries are thoroughly numbed to the idea of combat and can be pointed at the front lines of the enemy. During offensive actions, similar actions are taken with the surrounding populace, drawing out the existing addicts. In any case, the result is large group of shock troopers so addled that they'll walk into anything unflinchingly, closing to range to use their machine-pistols somewhat effectively.
Auxiliaries aren't really intended to be effective combatants. They have no training outside what they learn on the hard streets of the Sprawls, and their weapons are inaccurate and of low quality. What they do provide is a buffer between the enemy and the Syndicate, keeping the enemy at arm's length so that the Syndicate can employ their range advantage to greater effect. Auxiliaries are the ultimate disposable infantry; it literally can't get cheaper to deploy a human being onto the battlefield and have them do anything but run away.
During the walk to the combat zone, most Auxiliaries are given small micro-softs with basic combat theory written on it, things like taking cover, firing their weapon, and some basic enemy identification lessons. One of the artificial instincts in the device instructs users to employ the "special injections" they received just before hitting the field when the situation gets bad.
What they do know is that this injection contains an extremely potent drug that'll temporarily boost their endurance and strength to superhuman levels. What they don't know is that it's not exactly safe for human consumption, and will likely burn their nervous system out completely. Alas, thus is life for the throw-away soldier.
For the last fifty years, Legion Security has been the single largest private military contractor in the world. That simple statement fails to fully encompass the gravity of the situation. Though there has never been a formal third-party count of Legion security employees, there is evidence that indicate there may be more than ten million Legionnaires, on the low end. Legionnaires are soldiers, police and corporate enforcers in equal measure, and are in many ways the glue that hold together the Sprawls and prevent them from descending (completely) into anarchy. There are places in the world, places far removed from the rule of law under any major nation, where the Legionnaire is the basic unit of law, justice and security.
This is quite a terrifying thought.
Legion Security is ubiquitous. Anyone can hire them, for the right price, and they are bound by only one simple rule; they cannot be contracted to attack other Legion Security personnel. As they are more or less the only show in town in the Sprawls, they play a vital role in keeping the vast number of subsidiaries from tearing each other to pieces in constant corporate warfare. However, their missions are not limited to internal protection. The Syndicate itself can call upon these tech-warriors for offensive action; be it crushing a corporate rival in a"hostile takeover", finishing off the bankrupt remains of a local government falling before the advance of the Sprawls or dealing with nosy Interpol agents looking too deeply into Syndicate interests, Legionnaires live up to their motto: "Travel the World, Meet Interesting People, and Kill Them."
Legionnaires are iconic of the Syndicate in more ways than one. Technologically, Legionnaires are like nothing the world has ever seen before. Their lightweight ceramic bodysuits, individually tailored, provide protection comparable to Peacekeeper Assault Armour for a fraction of the weight, while their gyrojet rifles pack the longest effective range of any assault rifle in the world. Incorporated into the helmet's visor is an advanced Heads Up Display, low-light, thermal, motion tracking and electromagnetic vision settings, and a Micro-Soft issued to each soldier contains a lifetime of knowledge for the use of this technology. However, the Legionnaires also do justice to the Syndicate's brutal"got mine" philosophy and ruthless lack of ethics. The average Legionnaire is little more than a thug in turquoise armour, gleefully enforcing the will of their corporate masters with no regard to the suffering they leave in their wake. More than anything, Legion Security stands as proof of an old truism in the corporation; Not only will people do anything for enough money, they'll do it "gladly".
Tanks are a difficult nut to crack for a private military corporation. High explosive weapons and large bore rockets are usually prohibited by law, so except for the most lawless reaches of the world PMC companies must rely on antiquated anti-tank rifles, handheld shaped charges, or simply go without. With the Syndicate taking an increasingly militant stance, confronting armour has become inevitable, placing a definite requirement for a standardized handheld anti-armour weapon for Legion Security.
The resulting "Dory" railgun is a five-foot long weapon with a mantle to protect its user from shrapnel in case of a short-ranged shot. The 3mm rod it fires will, like larger varieties, punch straight through multiple layers of armour plate. Lighter tanks, especially those with low-grade armour plating, tend to shatter when struck, filling the crew compartment with deadly spall, and though better-constructed vehicles will not break in this way, virtually no amount of armour can resist the weapon.
In a nod to the spear-and-shield appearance of the weapon, those trained in its use are popularly referred to as Hoplites. The reinforced helmets and shoulder-pads help this appearance, as does the horizontal fibre-optic strip on the helmets. They are kitted out in a fully armoured suit like other Syndicate infantry, which assures them a certain degree of safety when positioning themselves for the optimal shot.
Also unique is that the Hoplite, to ensure a calm battlefield demeanour, has had a procedure done called a "nerve staple", a manipulation of the area of the brain from which fear and self-preservative instinct comes. A Hoplite will stand in the open to use their weapon while comrades dive for cover, giving them a vital few seconds more to line up a lethal shot.
Unlike the regularly employed Legionnaires of the Legion Security Corporation of Rome, or the recklessly recruited Auxiliaries of the Sprawls, the Certaman are employed on an individual basis. They work for cash, and only work after they have been paid. They are registered with numerous bars, and when a representative rolls in, they line up at the door for the job. Unlike the other common infantry of the Syndicate, a Certaman is aligned to whoever owns their original contract. When it runs out, they either renegotiate or disappear. They tend to have no ties to the world around them, and only the money seems to matter.
They are door to door killers; alone and only with a small briefcase, they wander the streets of the Sprawls looking for work. They wear a black three piece suit with a teal tie, sunglasses, and gloves. Hidden within their suitcases are Bishop Anti Air mortars, efficient enough to bring down anything in the sky. When the target is spotted, the Certaman simply kneels and jerks back the handle on the suitcase. The elaborate machine unpacks itself and a missile is launched when the operator gives the signal. Unfortunately the soft launch prevents the Bishop from being used against ground targets and therefore the Certaman must rely on other tools for their survival.
The "Saving Grace", as it is called, is the most used of such reliable equipment, being a simple high powered land mine. These cheap and discardable tools are the favorite of Certaman because of the incredible amounts of damage it causes to anything in range. Although the land mine is extremely effective, the average Certaman avoids deploying more than one at a time (the Saving Grace is notorious for friendly fire.) The left arm is a customized cybernetic implant with a direct link to the Certamans bank account, and also doubles as his lifeline when dealing with close quarters combat. When needed, the implant can reconfigure itself into an "Epic Buster" Gauss Cannon. It functions by accelerating a type of magnetic projectile to high velocity using one or more electromagnets in the configuration of a synchronous linear electric motor. But because of its high energy demands, the Certaman can only use it when garrisoned (they need to be plugged into an electrical outlet, lest their internal batteries go dead).
When a National Geographic team was allowed to explore a Sprawl for an article for the magazine, they were given a Helios Security escort to take care of any legal niceties. Mostly they kept away drug addicts and riff raff, without any real concern for their safety. But when a photographer took a picture of a man in the shadows of a crumbling alley, who had curious shoes that seemed to be based on springs and what seemed to be wires hanging from his wrists, the Helios turned white with terror. Immediately they fired their guns at him. Instead of falling down, the man let out a vaguely pleasured howl of pain as he literally jumped over the building behind him. When asked what happened, a Helios officer famously quipped, “Don’t ask; you’ll sleep better.”
The Mediterranean Syndicate’s new assassins and wilderness skirmishers, called Satyrs, were well armed, to be sure. With monomolecular implants, they could dice an enemy in under a second. They could also leap across great distances thanks to specialized footwear. But it wasn’t enough for the company training them, Wilderness Solutions. In trials they had an unacceptable loss rate. Analysis showed that too many times split second fears meant death at the hands of long range fire. Given the success of Syndicate battlesuits in psychosurgery improving battlefield performance, the assassins were given special, irreversible surgery in the part of their brain dealing with inhibitions.
The next day policing Legionnaires responded to a complaint that Wilderness Solutions hadn’t opened their doors. Forcing them open, the Legionnaires were confronted with sections of the staff, strewn across the ground along with unidentified fluids, all leading to a hole that had been sliced open. It is thought the Satyrs woke up from post-op, and the staff died seconds later. The following week, Legion Security noted an unprecedented spike of murders, rape, and substance theft unlike anything in Syndicate history. It was considered significant enough to bring in squads of Centurions to restore the status quo. Then Praetorians were brought in when too many Centurions were dying, left in bloodied piles, sometimes in grotesquely humorous poses. Each hour was accompanied by a hideous laughter that echoed through the neon maze.
One by one, each assassin was hunted down, and the truth was revealed to the Syndicate. Captured Satyrs were sedated and studied. It was found out that all inhibitions were gone, and now almost every act gave them pleasure, though the more primal and visceral ones gave the most. If the Satyrs wanted to do something, they simply did it, without regards to safety or morality. Many normally amoral executives wanted to shut the program down, but others saw the inherent value, if they could only be trained.
Training turned out to be impossible; the Satyrs seemed to enjoy any punishment inflicted on them. Attempts to make them placid by injecting them with nauseating drugs while showing footage of violent acts against Syndicate members also failed, as the Satyrs literally could not make the link in their mind. Instead, they are now merely contained, fulfilling the niche they were designed for. They are also used to infiltrate enemy buildings, killing all inside and caking the halls inside with blood to be found by replacement crews who come to man the empty structure. In order to ensure their cooperation (as it is), they are now allowed free reign of the Sprawls if they do not attack Syndicate personnel in battle. Times when Satyrs are between battles are called a “Bacchanalia” in the Sprawl, where locking the door is no safety if the Satyrs want what you have, whether drugs, your daughter, or your blood.
"We aren't cavemen. We have standards. We have technology. The will to fight is half the battle. The knowledge of battle is half. The means are the lynchpin."
A Centurion is a constant reminder of what is the Syndicate's motivation for taking the path they have. A Centurion is the most professional of all the Syndicate's infantry in the fact that they do not act like wild dogs. They are honorable, polite, and brutally efficient. They take it upon themselves to lead fellow infantry into battle and achieve victory in the swiftest manner.
Their high calibre anti-materiel rifles are always custom made to the specifications of Centurions, and thus there is no standardized variant. They are used with scientific tradition, as no force can convince these outstanding individuals to fire a round until they are certain that the bullet will strike their intended target. The sheer force of the high calibre round is enough to neutralize any individual, much less damage a lightly armed target.
There have been recorded instances in which Centurion's have been known to destroy a patrolling Humvee or Technical or two. However, do not confuse them with the fragile specialist snipers of other armies. They are bound by the true path of leadership, and command their legions from the front lines.
Centurions have often suffered heavy casualties in battle, generally fighting alongside the Legionaries they commanded. They usually led from the front, occupying a position at the front right of the century formation. They led and inspired their men by example. They also sought to display the skill and courage that may have gotten them to their rank in the first place. It is for these reasons that they often suffered a disproportionate number of casualties.
To reduce the losses of such outstanding employees the Syndicate has taken actions to equip them with an advanced cloak. Although the thermo-optic cloak has a limited reserve of energy, it allows the Centurion to take a decisive shoot, under the safety of invisibility. While Centurions prefer their men and enemies to see them, orders are orders.
The Sprawls are a naturally dangerous place full of drug addicted mercenaries and greedy entrepreneurs. Eventually every Sprawl would go through a period of dissolution and gradual decay of order known as "Laissez Faire". In a Laissez Faire, the Sprawl changes hands from the systematic rule of dozens of electronic corporations, to the gang violence and organized chaos of the drug trade. However not every Sprawl will die as a result of a collapse of order. In rare cases, a Sprawl can avoid decay by restoring order before any critical infrastructure has been damaged beyond repair. The best method of restoring order to such a bloody and violent disorder would be through the deployment of Praetorian Battlesuits.
The first one of many of the Syndicate's Battlesuit projects, the Praetorian Battlesuit project was intended to be used by the personal bodyguards of the Syndicate's Executives. Early tests showed the Praetorian to have great effect against infantry, scouts, and Soviet Terror Drones. But the Praetorian was unable to protect their targets from aircraft or withstand heavier armaments. Despite the early advances made by the research team, they were unable to accomplish the goals of complete tactical supremacy, as a result of the department choosing to go with "light concealable equipment".
As a result of the early stages of development, the project went ahead with a role of a anti-personnel cyborg. Auxiliaries were brought in as potential test subjects, and to the astonishment of the development team, were able to effectively control the machines with little effort. As individuals, Auxiliaries knew how to deal with new experiences and old problems. The Praetorian Battlesuit was far too heavily armed to attack effortlessly. The ceramic plating and heavy battle rifles were swapped out for lighter plate armour, and a pair of oversized burst pistols. Thus, the modern Praetorian Battlesuit was born; a seamless mix of human instinct and mechanized brutality.
Hercules heavy power armor:
Letter of recommendation for the reevaluation of the Hector Suppression Armour
''With my highest regards to Jack Dempsey,
The Hector Suppression Suit has proved to be an unrivaled mechanical masterpiece but there are still far to many quirks to work out with the Cerebral Cortex Control CPU. Although the problem was identified and corrected, I still can not feel at ease after watching my creation tear apart the security forces sent in to restrain it. Despite the use of multiple Praetorian Battlesuit's and nearly a battalion of security personnel, none were able to bring the machine to a halt. Even the assigned Hoplite were unable to destroy the thing with lethal force, and they were armed with armour piercing railguns! The company lacks sufficient anti armour equipment with the mobility to rapidly respond to the demands of the Security Forces. To this end I ask the Board to allow the development of a Anti Armour Battlesuit with the ability to solve the problems stated in my letter.
Sincerely, Ezekiel Clerk''
Voice Recording of Jack Dempsey 7/31/08
"That Trent is a fucking dead man! If he wasn't in charge of maintaining that goddamn Minerva, then I would have put him in that Suppression Armour! At least the Hercules Heavy Armour came out all right. Hell, it could take on two Hammers and come out without so much as a scratch if used properly. It makes me giddy with joy every time one of those jumps right on top of a pack of idiots, and you wanna know the best part? The guy we used not only volunteered, but he even paid for the operation! Who knows what the heck is going through the guy's mind when he put his pension down for this nightmare?"
-End of recording
Email from firstname.lastname@example.org 11:42AM 10/14/08
The Hercules Heavy Armour auppears to be the latest development by Oedipus Committee Productions in the field of Cybernetic Enhancements. Although not a full fledged Battlesuit, the Hercules uses a light wet-ware control system to allow for greater mobility and superior command functions. A volunteer is integrated into the Hercules Exoskeleton through the gradual replacement of basic organic material with more reliable artificial components. From the latest in circulatory replacements, to enhanced piston driven prosthetics, the Hercules Heavy Armour is a testament to modern reconstructive surgery. Once the wet ware has been integrated into the exoskeleton frame, the Leaper Acceleration Kit is added to provide mobility. The armament of such a incremental machine is a railgun that uses a rather large 9mm rod to pierce enemy armour. I am rather surprised by the efficiency of the design. It would appear that the rest of the Syndicate is finally starting to catch up to me. Even though they are years away from catching up to Minerva, I think it is about time I prepare an upgrade to her hardware. She might actually have to deal with some real competition in the near future.
Brutus Gladiator Armour:
The Syndicate have never been known for ethics: but efficiency is almost synonimous with them. Their tactical Battlesuits, long-ranged weaponry, and A.U.R.A. network are all frightening examples of their brutal efficiency. However, with increasing levels of Allied interference in shady deals and their existing AA platforms proving too costly, vulnerable, or easily spotted: they needed something with the power to stand up to one of the most feared Airforces in the world- and that led to the developement of the Brutus Gladiator Armour.
The Brutus Gladiator Armour is a machine built to give interfering aircraft something to fear: armed with a superheated mono-molecular wire net-gun and a "Trident" sear gas system to fend off ground targets. The original reasoning behind using a mono-wire net-gun was to keep aircraft mostly intact while forcing them to crash- possibly preserving technology to be salvaged later. However, in early tests the mono-wire net proved to be far more destructive to aircraft than expected, so the weapon was modified to superheat the net before launch for maximum lethality. The Syndicate Executives ran into trouble when it came time to actually test the vehicle. The mono-molecular wire net-gun had no way of homing in on targets: this, combined with the speed and manueverability of modern aircraft and a lack of room for a computer to aim the weapon meant that most Brutus test pilots had an unnacceptably low accuracy rating against target drones without a direct uplink to the A.U.R.A. system. Simply put, only the most accomplished of marksman could hope to hit a modern plane with the powerful mono-wire net-gun: and the Syndicate did not have enough of such men to fill the ranks.
However, rather than re-design the Brutus or cancel the project, the Syndicate began a project to implant a program to do all the computing required to aim the weapon on to the mind of the pilot. This form of technology is difficult to apply even for the Syndicate, and it was found that younger, less cluttered minds accepted to implanting better than an adult. Thus, orphans who would not be missed (especially in a Sprawl) were abducted and forced to undergo the process of Cyberization, during which the aiming program was implanted on to their subconscious with timer system that would kill them in five days unless reset at a specialized facility. For those captured, there is little hope of anyone but the Syndicate knowing how to reset the timer, and thus they are pressed into the Syndicate Brutus ranks without hope of escape. This is not an uncommon origin among Brutus pilots, and thus they typically despise the other Syndicate forces and hate the ones responsible for the program. It is not uncommon for their hatred of their lack of freedom to develop into a form of sadism. Regardless, the Brutus Gladiator Armour project has proven efficient at its intended role, and thu
Hector Suppression Armour:
The main prototype involved with the Hector program was exceeding our expectations. Hiroshi Yamauchi and I had developed a monstrous machine, with the capability to flip tanks, crush infantry, and gun down hordes of hostiles with its heavy chainguns. A special computer with a custom A.I. provided by the corporation was used to great effect as a pilot substitute.
The prototype was named after her original designer, the late Hector Endrizzi (and approved by the Executive Committee of Classics), and would utilize a custom control system he designed. The system was installed by a man who went by the name Trent, while a Mr. Dempsey evaluated the project. With his approval and Hector's Cerebral Cortex Control system installed; the "Hector Suppression Armour" was ready for live fire trails.
Despite my past experiences with A.I.s, I was astonished with the reliability and effectiveness of this new design. It surpassed all previous models in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, rational thought, language, and even appeared to have a consciousness. During trails, entire columns of mock infantry were ripped in half by the chainguns while we men of science watched with sheer delight. The Hector Suppression Armour proved the most effective infantry deterrent in existence. We thought it only natural, that it could complete all necessary assignments for a month within a few hours.
By the time the first day of trails had ended, over three quarters of assigned tasks had been accomplished. The third day of trails was when we recorded the first anomaly. The Hector seemed impatient, harassing the caretakers and supervisors. As time passed it even grew violent. Total chaos insured within seconds after the CPU's cooling system failed.
The Hector went on a rampage unlike anything I have ever seen. Security immediately responded, but were as lambs to the slaughter. Even Praetorian battlesuits were unable to bring this beast to a halt. Three of those Helios securityguards Fowl lent us were needed to restrain the Hector until I could activate the manual override. What on Earth could have caused it to act so violently? My report to Dempsey will cover everything that happened here, as well as my recommendation for the revaluation of the the Cerebral Cortex Control CPU.
So we were doing some basic maneuvering trials after yesterday's incident when we got a whole barrage of error windows back through the monitors. Apparently, the CCCCPU required a coolant change, so we booted the head technician out the door with one of the spares that came with the core, and popped open the receiving bay.
Instead of a canister of boiling coolant as we were expecting, we got back an empty tube with a small amount of residue. Well, the head technician loaded the replacement and brought the empty back here. The man was scared out of his wits and nearly slipped on a puddle of blood that the janitors missed on his way back to the control room; I've had him restrained until I figure out where I'm going to transfer him. I cannot abide cowardice.
The empty tube is an interesting phenomenon. What sort of coolant system expends its cooling agent? I have a feeling there is more here than meets the eye; I sent the tube down to the lab to be looked over, and we've shut down the suit until we known what's going on.
The situation here is entirely unacceptable. While the base was in its night cycle, the Hector was somehow reactivated and it broke out of the holding bay, killing two technicians. We learned from last time and had Helios Security standing by, but that is not the main issue.
We checked the records and confirmed that nobody had activated the machine; all evidence indicates that the Hector powered up on its own and started moving immediately towards the supply room. It managed to pry open the crate with the coolant reloads before being disabled. I await the lab results eagerly, and we've removed the limb components of the machine to prevent it from moving without authorization.
Results just came back from the lab. Liquid is a potent narcotics mix, completely uncut; one could probably kill a bull elephant with this stuff. The techs agree that the stuff would be completely useless as a coolant. I'm going to find some answers.
An hour ago I sent a team out to pry open the casing. One of the technicians lost a hand when the the hatch slammed shut as a defense mechanism; we chained every moving part we could find to a support beam before taking out the CCCCPU. The coolant canister was totally empty, so we wired the thing up to an interface station and had one of the Immunes crack the ICE on the core so we could find out what was wrong with its programming. We were expecting orderly files; what we got was wetware.
There is a brain in that thing. An actual human brain. They hooked some poor bastard, took out his brain and a few other choice bits, and stuck them in a cyber-brain casing, just to get a better combat machine. I cannot believe this was authorized... Did anyone stop to think of the PR fallout if this gets out?
If somebody had decided to tell me about this, maybe I would have known that I was supposed to be loading a fresh tube of "coolant" daily, but instead we left the thing for six days without a top up and now its dying from the withdrawal symptoms. Unless we do something, the project will suffer unacceptable delays.
Project is back on course, finally. Now that we know what we are dealing with, everything is much easier; the new core is performing to a much higher standard than before, thanks to the selection criteria. My full report to command is going to include a recommendation that the subject be addicted only after implantation; our results thus far indicate this leads to a more stable, controllable system. I will also have to request a new head technician; I daresay that our old one is serving a much more vital role to the project now than he ever could before.
Titan security armour:
The Titan Security Armour was a result of the need for a reliable escort after the Praetorian proved insufficient in dealing with assassination attempts upon several key members of the Mediterranean Syndicate's Chain of Command, especially those carried out by the Order of the Talon. In an effort to provide adequate security to the more valuable investments the corporation couldn't afford to lose, the Security Forces began to deploy their own improvised escorts that operated independent of the normal corporate structure. More often than not Titan Security Armours were the primary choice as their use did not have to be registered within the corporation, and they could be relatively easily acquired so long as they offered the right price.
Several notable mercenaries have personally taken it amongst themselves to undergo a surgical process, to give them the edge over their would be opponents. Although the process is painful and quite traumatizing, the results speak for themselves as the Titan Security Armours have become wildly known as the most reliably useful battlesuit as it can effectively deal with any hostile so long as they are within reach. In combat they tend to work best as insurance to keep enemy units away from their clients. If needed the Titan could also fire a rocket-propelled fist, designed for explicit use against faster moving vehicles. The only reason that it isn't used more often is that the Titan has only so many of them to reload.
For the most part Titans are seen as a relatively common commodity amongst the powerful and wealthy members and corporations of a Sprawl. In several circles they are seen as a symbol of status within the Syndicate as they require a rather large sum of funds to be recruited into any position. However several individuals still have problems adjusting to their new bodies, and tend to have extensively recorded history's all concerning the use of excessive force. They tend to rip apart enemy infantry, flip tanks, and almost comically knock out Imperial Mechas. However the Titans tend to be especially vicious against Satyrs. The two are relative opposites from one another and any confrontation between them results in a laughing Satyr head flying off into the sunset.
Originally, what began as a strong rivalry between the Titans preventing the Satyrs from enjoying themselves near their employers has grown into open war. In one such occasion a Titan threw a Satyr through a wall after the Satyr killed his client and began a barroom brawl in the middle of a wedding ceremony. Though none of the attendees survived the unfortunate incident, it should be noted that the Titan was able to make the Satyr beg for a swift death. Something no other human being has ever accomplished before or since that day.
Mars Artillery Armour:
From a Nike Steelworks advertisement for the Mars
"How are YOU at your job?
With new Sprawls being built faster than ever, the construction industry can be a very lucrative business indeed. But have you ever thought about how to get ahead?
Many factors could cost you your rightful share of these profits. Cheap, unskilled workers seek to undercut you. Gangs seek to ensure only their members get jobs. And even the Lifters seek to supercede you with a technological advantage. With these groups all vying for their own interests, how can you ensure that you get ahead?
Introducing the new 'Mars' Construction Armour!
With some of the most advanced cybernetics available to civilian consumers, the Mars upgrade is well worth the price! With the muscular enhancements this suit provides, you will soon be able to carry steel girders by hand, and the leg stabilisation equipment allows structures to be steadied by simply holding them at the ground level. With four railguns, the Mars can rapidly fire rivets into construction beams, securing them in place. And the advantages of being a battlesuit allow you to work twice as long and ten times as efficiently as any 'human' worker. What employer could resist! And with the enhanced strength, armour, and railguns, you never need to worry about criminal retaliation for your success!
Not only this, but if you upgrade yourself now, you can get a bonus to this amazing offer: For a limited time only, Legion Security themselves are hiring Mars Construction Armours for several lucrative contracts. Why wait? Get ahead with the Mars!"
Originally designed as a competing system for the Construction Lifter, the Mars was fantastic at its job: efficient, powerful, and effective. Once Lifters began cornering the market on construction in Sprawls, local businesses began to suffer. Many small businesses were bankrupted: after all, who would hire them when a Lifter could do it twice as fast, and for half the price? Soon, however, this began to impact on larger businesses as well, who simply could not keep up with this new development. One of these businesses was Nike Steelworks. Despite having a near monopoly in Peru, they could not keep Lifters out forever... unless they themselves could supercede them. With this in mind, Nike comissioned a new design: a cybernetic system that they hoped would allow them to dominate the market once again. The product of this design was the Mars Construction Armour, and there was no doubt: it was more effective than the Lifter in every way. Faster, stronger, and better suited to precision work, there seemed no doubt about it: the Mars was the future of construction!
One year later, the Mars had failed to take off. There was a simple reason for this: cost. The cost of producing a single Mars were nearly four times that of producing a single Lifter. Not only this, a Lifter could be piloted by virtually any person, even without training, making costs of the operator trivial. For the Mars, however, the hiring costs were huge: being the 'cutting edge' of construction, the pilot of the Mars could (and would) charge whatever outrageous wage they wanted. If you had money to burn, the Mars was better, but otherwise a Lifter would be the only affordable option.
Desperate to recoup their losses, Nike Steelworks sold their design to Legion Security. Hoping to act as a base building element, the Mars once again lost out... to the Lifter again. In anger, one Francisco Gamarra, a Mars pilot, shredded the entire local supply of Lifters in protest. Instead of being reprimanded, however, he was offered a contract. Upscaling the rivet railguns to full railguns, the Mars was unexpectedly picked up as an artillery piece: after all, if a civilian model could fight past Legion Security and destroy military approved hardware out of jealousy, just how well could a battle ready model potentially do?
Nowdays, most Mars pilots are construction workers, drawn in by the promise of being unparalled in their work, and thus irreplaceable in the high-stakes job markets of the Sprawls. To encourage combat duty, the Mars is purposely priced higher than most people wanting to upgrade could afford, but not quite high enough to arouse supicion. This forces most people to take a contract with Legion Security to afford the upgrade, and then fight to fulfil their contract. Despite this, there is no shortage of volunteers: in the right construction site in the right part of a Sprawl, away from those with only the funds to pay for Lifters, the Mars still reigns supreme.
Spartan Assault Armour:
The Syndicate is a wide assortment of the most varied and culturally different individuals in the world. To say that any organization or nation has done more for the opportunity and technological advancement of its society is madness. However despite the dozens of natural languages, thousands of electronic products, and millions of aspiring individuals, the Mediterranean Syndicate is held together by nothing more than insatiable ambition.
No one walks through the streets of a Sprawl without thinking of how to get ahead in life. For the most part many never will. So they look to the past. The golden ages of history from which our civilization was built. The good natured intent of Prometheus, the rise of the Roman Empire, and most famously the ancient Greek military power, Sparta.
Laconophilia (admiration of the Spartan culture and military valour) is common amongst many of the Philosophers' ranks, even those who the Board considered above such an inexplicable emotion. When the corporation began to work on the beginning of the Spartan Assault Armour, teams of Philosophers gathered to debate the design and role of such a weapon.
They all agreed that it should be their monument to the once great society that fought alongside the legions of Rome, but none could share their vision. At the end, they each set off to build their own machine, without the aid of any another. To Vulcan's delight, dozens of battlesuits were forged, and a small army gathered at the base of Mount Etna, Greece.
The Director of the Philosophers, Doctor Trent, proposed a solution for the conflict; have all the candidates send their creations into the Colosseum where the mightiest would stand victorious in a battle royal. For three days the war raged as the relentless pilots vigorously fought the other contenders in a battle to the death.
By the dawn of the third day, not a single gladiator was capable of combat, as all keeled before the skeletal superstructure that moved just as swiftly and reacted to the constantly shifting battlefield as it had the first day. Walter Elias Disney emerged from the small crowd around the sole survivor and proceeded to declare Ezekiel Clark the victor.
Trent sceptically examined the machine and thought to himself of what a waste of resources this experiment was. The victor was armed with long barrelled rocket launcher, equipped with flechette ammunition to incapacitate enemy armour. A heavy shield made up the entire left arm while his right could change between the roles of supporting the weight of the launcher, and gracefully attacking with a bladed weapon.
He did not find any real advantage to this unlikely champion and rather thought of the skill and stamina of the pilot. "Was he a veteran, or was he trained? Possibly Japanese, most likely one of the former Emperor's surviving Imperial Guards. Must have had a lot of tea to stay awake this long, or really bad nightmares."
By the time he had circled the machine twice he had already deduced the controller to be Yatsushiro, the young apprentice of the Zatiochi Shimata and one of the late Emperor of Japan's surviving bodyguards. Expecting an infiltration, Trent called for additional security and asked to meet the individual commanding the newly instated Spartan Assault Armour.
Walt simply smiled and nodded toward the panel Clark opened at the chest of the machine. Inside, only the remains of a spinal cord removed from the protective vertebral column could be seen. He thought himself fooled for a second as he imagined the previous success of wetware in the design of the Hector Suppression Armour. Jack Dempsey was then heard profanely expressing the sudden appearance of battlesuits before his privet office and led a phalanx of imitation Spartans onto the field.
Interrupting, Walt explained his role in the affair. He had sponsored Ezekiel's project and granted the good doctor access to several of his own previous designs. He proceeded to cunningly explain their capabilities and strengths to Dempsey while avoiding the reasons or nature of their production.
"In a large group, Spartans can be seen to deploy into a large cluster known as a 'Phalanx'. This defensive mode grants the Spartans a massive defensive bonus for each nearby Spartan." Trent, confident in his answer, proceeded to congratulate Dr. Clark on his latest accomplishment, and questioned him relentlessly over how he had overcome the very problems he himself triumphed over years before.
Ezekiel replied that he had not achieved the transhumanist outcome, but rather cheated the ability of current technology by replacing miles of fibre optic cable with a cheaper solution. Trent later returned to his office, and began to ponder the day’s events. By midnight he was only disgusted with the realization of the truth.
"My God, they have actually removed the soul of the machine."