All right Cadets, today we are going to start to familiarise you with some of the threats you are going to face out there in the cold voids of space and over the teeming jungles and baking deserts of countless hostile worlds.
Every schoolboy knows what the Saucermen ships look and act like, so we’ll get to unlearning all that claptrap you picked up over the years and replace the empty space it leaves between your ears with solid fact later on. Today we start with the Imperium of “His Tyrannical Majesty” Emperor Marduk.
What’s that your writing Cadet Happy? No son the honorific isn’t important and won’t be on the test, it’ll probably be different by the time you fledglings have got out there anyway, heck it’ll probably be different and another 6 syllables longer by this time Tuesday! But that’s not important and another Instructor will give you the details on their politics or what counts as such in another class, surviving in hostile territory with Instructor Deering… and that’s enough wolf-whistling about Instructor Deering up the back there! The next one to make that kind of a remark gets KP duty for a month and that’s if you are lucky enough that she doesn’t hear about it and decides to use you for target practice. Now buckle down boys and girls.. yes and robots, as we take a look today at the Class 1 Imperial Rocket The Scorpion.
Whats that Cadet Corbet? Oh? Doesn’t look much like a bug to me Sarge? Doesn’t look much like a bug to me Sarge? Why how familiar with bugs on imperial worlds are you cadet Corbet? I thought so, about as familiar as you are with ones on Earth it seems as an earth scorpion is an arachnid not a bug to start with! Quiet down now, quiet down. Actually fun aside it’s an important observation. Sure to us it looks more birdlike but that’s because the creatures the Imperials call a scorpion have wings of a sort that are somewhere between those of a bird and a bat and a fish fin and the sting doesn’t come from the tail either. Now you can ask the linguists whether the translation of their word to our word scorpion is accurate or not, that i don’t know. But i do know that everywhere the imperium conquers they release a bunch of their apex predators and other beasties they ‘admire’ into the wild to feel a bit more like home. Luckily this doesn’t usually lead to ecological collapse as these creatures tend to settle into sustainable populations and just wipe out the local predators and thin the local population a little. If a local predator is particularly deadly though it’ll soon turn up on other imperial planets. It’s not unknown for a more eccentric or high-ranking officer to be accompanied by a fanatically loyal deadly carnivore and you want to be prepared for that in boarding actions and ground combat! The hawk-like Scorpions sitting on their shoulder like an antique pirates parrot, weird coloured horned tigers, venomous flesh-eating gliding squirrels and even officers riding around on big blue bipedal dino-ostriches… there’s all manner of vicious beasties you might just have to contend with. Princess Taegan who is rumoured to be Marduk’s daughter via a captured high-ranking Valkeeri and certainly looks the part is sometimes seen with some kind of long-tailed Bat with a very nasty bite. If you buy him a drink Ace might show you the scar… though whether it was from the bat or the Princess that bit him is a matter some dispute! heheheh.
But that won’t be much of a problem with a Class 1 as boarding one is hardly going to be a regular occurence. Like ours these are usually one man or one woman per craft, unlike the Valkeeri which ussually has two or three crew per class 1. Quiet Cadet Rogers that is no laughing matter! The valkeeri might seem like the answer to your youthful dreams but they are deadly. Now there are exceptions, most scorpions have a space behind the pilots chair that’s used for small cargoes, survival gear an array of personal weaponry etc but they also have a small folding seat back there so they can sacrifice some gear in order to carry a second person. Pay attention Rocky your dreams of princess-rescuing might depend on knowing about the second seat! It’s not as well cushioned for comfort during more fancy manoeuvering so the seat is usually used by instructors during training, by officials doing an evaluation.. where failure is death so keep that in mind if you are ever forced to don their uniform in disguise, by specially trained observers for long-range reconnaissance or for transporting important people at high speed. Note the concealed attachment points and the power outlet in this slide here. That’s in case the important person they are transporting isn’t there willingly, restraints can be easily connected to the chair and an electric restraint or other such device like a paralyser-ray can be powered from the engines. Yes Cadet Vena that is actual gold plating in the colour picture of the folding chair. The real deal. Every Imperial craft is ornamented like that. Every lever every cog every panel is sending a message of how great they think they are. That’s what the imperium is like, pretty and efficient so long as you don’t care about freedom and cruelty.
They aren’t manufactured on one big assembly line either! Each is handmade by artisans captured from across the galaxy and put to work. Each differs a little from the next and many can be a bit quirky to handle. You’ll notice most imperial rockets have dedicated pilots and the pilot rarely changes on a rocket unless he or she is killed. This makes their aces a bit easier to spot but don’t get too comfortable, they may have weird notions of honour they like to brag about but they can still be wily and deceptive foes. That and a higher rank might order a lower to let them use their rocket. Many of the fleet commanders especially the noble-blood ones might be found in one of the class 1s rather than the big class 4 flagship if they feel the enemy has slighted them or they want to be in at the kill or just if they are feeling a tad extra bloodthirsty that day after getting out of the bed on the wrong side that morning.
Marduk likes his rockets tough, so they have a lot more armour than any sane engineer would put on a rocket of that class making them far less manoeuvrable. These little things can take about the same kind of punishment as our Supernova’s but they have a much wider turning circle so if you pay attention the Comets can outmaneuver them. There’s no room for complacency though, they know the weaknesses and strengths of their rockets. Watch out for manoeuvres which allow one scorpion to protect another’s tail or flank, watch for maneuvers with overlapping or complimentary fields of fire. That’s why individual show-offs get themselves killed so often taking on the Imps, they worry so much about getting on the enemies 6 that they don’t realise they are lead into a trap till it’s too late. Watch your mates out there and check your flanks. If a shot looks too good to be true a glance to 3 and 9 might save your sorry hide.
It’s also worth remembering that these can be more of an immediate threat than the class 2 Raptors. Raptors are a bit more varied than most rockets, while two-gun-firing Raptors are common the standard Raptor has a technical problem with its engine output to it’s ray-emitters so they alternate between the left and right barrels. When you see one watch for the distinctive sight of alternating barrel fire or both guns firing at the same time. If it’s one of the fancy ones able to fire both guns then yes it’s a bigger threat than the scorpions but if its a standard its firepower output is actually the same as a single scorpion, just a whole lot tougher. So sometimes it’s better to focus on bringing down the more agile scorpions first before pouring on enough beam with your wingmates to bring the raptor down. I’ve seen a raptor taking all the flak from pilots while the scorpions move into position and with combined fire rip our rockets to shreds.. i don’t want that to happen to you. So remember cadets, don’t underestimate the Scorpions.