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Author Topic: Nomad ProtoMechs  (Read 3873 times)

cray

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Nomad ProtoMechs
« on: 13 July 2011, 21:53:59 »
The Nomads do deal with planet dwellers, and where there is contact with foreigners, there is inevitably conflict. Thus, the Nomads have ground troops.

Snug in the compact cockpit, the Nomad soldier turned her head. Computers tracked the movement, determined where her new field of vision was, and compiled imagery from dozens of cameras lacing the armor of the small mech into a new view for her. The lightweight, thin HUD visor of her helmet filled her entire range of vision with the processed imagery. The opaque walls of her mech were not there. The backup monitors were not there. The control consoles were, edited back in with feeds from cockpit cameras, as was her own body. The limbs and lower body of the mech were visible, should she look for them. And with a terse utterance, all the edited-in imagery was gone. She was floating view point some six meters off the ground. There was nothing artificial to interfere with the crisp, sharp view of this alien world.

The Nomad military terminology, like Nomad society, branched from Inner Sphere conventions four centuries earlier when an eccentric group of jumpship owners chose to cut their bonds with "the Mud" during the height of the Star League. After four centuries of independent development, the Nomads did not refer to their small mechs as "protomechs" like the Clans, nor did they share the Inner Sphere's and Clans' terminology for battle armor. Nomad engineers and soldiers saw a smooth continuum from light exoskeletons through battle armor, protomechs, and battlemechs. At certain points, new controls and systems needed to be adopted, of course. Large robotic warmachines, starting at about the protomech size, weren't wearable like battle armor and thus required proper cockpits, but they were all just variations of human-piloted robots. To Nomads, they were all "power armor" or "mechs." Protomechs were referred to as "heavy power armors."

The view exhilerated the Nomad soldier. There were any of a half-dozen reasons that made the sweeping plains and rolling hills thrilling. Together, they made her her heart feel tight and her blood thrum with excitement. Not the least of these reasons were the humans out there fleeing for their lives from her, and they would try to kill her to save their own lives. None were within weapon range, or even sight, but they were out there, and she was going to close on them. Also, no human had laid eyes on this landscape until today. Humans might've mapped the planet from orbit, but they had not been crawling all over the planet for millions of years in assorted evolutionary variations. The pirates had lived here for less than a generation, just few hundred humans blighting one small patch of land with a grubby little town. ("[censored], if they had brains, they would've abandoned banditry and gone into real estate on this gem of a world," the soldier sneered to herself.) And the planet was just plain beautiful. The man-high green grass of this prairie was flush with spring rains (no water shortages on this world) and swayed around the lower thighs of her mech. Gusts of wind pushed brighter ripples across the prairie, appearing and disappearing like waves on water. Here and there, low, thin trees stood alone or in small clumps. The low gravity of the world, not even 70% Terran standard, let the trees grow thin and broad. And, to a human raised in space, the sheer scale of the planet was daunting. Nevermind that the horizon was closer than on Terra, the place was just huge. The entire lower half of her field of view was filled with landmarks. Hell, the entire upper half, too. Clouds above, horizon in the middle, hills below. Even the grass gave a sense of scale. In space, you had the spaceship you were on and then...nothing. There was no sense of scale like this. The stars could be light-years away, or small lights just out of reach. Another ship fifty kilometers away might be a toy at arm's length. The place was just huge. Many Nomads, even lifelong EVA workers, were agorophobics. The soldier wasn't (or she wouldn't be in a Marine Ground Defense unit), but the scale of planets still left her giddy. Finally, the plants and skittering little animals were like the terrestrial critters and flora in the farm and park modules of Nomad ships, but only at first glance. Yes, those were thin trees. Yes, that was wild grass. It could feel like home. But when you looked at it closely, it was like literally nothing on Earth.

The Nomad military had unusual needs. Obviously, it focused on space combat. Even most Nomad "ground" facilities were on nearly zero-G asteroids and comets. With a large inventory of aerospace fighters, the Nomad military could rain punishing storms of bombs on sluggish ground targets. Its handful of warships could rain an all together higher order of indiscriminate justice on large surface threats. Thus, the Nomad admirals reckoned, they did not need ultra-heavy power armors ("battlemechs" to Spheroids) or crawling tanks. Still, there were times when light power armor ("battle armor") did not have the endurance to complete a task. The weaponry of light power armor was often only good for one or two salvos, followed by steady pinpricking. Something heavier than light power armor was definitely needed.

While the Nomads did not need "ultra-heavies," the pirates seemed to like their "battlemechs." The Marine reflected that there seemed to be a positively Freudian dysfunction in the near-Inner Sphere cultures when it came to their "battlemechs." She had three companies of elite Nomad Marines (Ground Forces) with equipment in much better repair than those decrepit pirate armors. And one could not forget aerospace support. If the Gemini or Cassiopeia happened to be overhead (or within reasonable maneuvering range) when she found the pirates, she might not even need to fire a shot. The terajoule particle beam cannons of the warships would evaporate them. Of course, they had to be found first. And those lumbering beasts were much heavier than the Marine's mech, so some caution was due.

The Marine knelt her mech at the edge of one of the square depressions in the prairie's thick sod. The torso of her mech could almost fit in that two-by-two meter footprint. She leaned the mech closer to better gauge the footprint. The Marine could've just bumped up magnification, but her hands were on the movement controls (a result of all the maneuvering needed after initially finding the footprint), so leaning forward was more convenient. And, once again, the footprint almost claimed her mech as it started to fall forward. The motion control computers of the mech checked the neurohelmet input, found the fall was unapproved, and acted to arrest the motion. The right arm snapped out, hand open, in case the mech fell that far forward, but the powerful bands of myomers in the back, pelvis, and legs of the mech strained and pulled the torso back upright.


The Mark IV heavy power armor addressed most of the heavy power armor needs of the Nomad Marines. It was fast, about as fast as a human scaled up about 3-fold. Jump jets gave it additional agility, though they were technically pod-mounted like other equipment. Its armor was respectable for such a light combat unit. To address varying mission needs, it was studded with assorted hard point mounts that could be fitted with different weapons. The ability of its dextrous arms to carry large rifle-like weaponry was not overlooked - those were just screaming for different weapon pods.

The Marine would gain accolades from her comrades after the battle for her canny "planetsman" skills of tracking the pirates by their footprints, like a "woodsman" of "colonials," docu-dramas about early colonial planet settlement. It didn't take much in the way of planetary survival and hunting skills to impress the ship-born, ship-raised Nomads. A little pithy wisdom like using the sun to navigate across the (radio beacon-free) surface of a wild planet would earn ooo's and ahh's from civilian Nomads, so tracking the pirates by their footprints would earn the Marine months' worth of free beers from her comrades-in-arms.

The Marine in question was quite willing to play up her "planetsman" skills, including the way she used her mech's hand to test the pirate mech's footprint and figure out how recent it was. She would play up her tracking skills for two reasons. First, she had not thought to test the footprint with her mech's hand. She had only knelt by it while trying to remember any examples of tracking from "colonials" possible. Hunters always knelt by animal tracks to take stock of them, that much she remembered. It had been the mech that had reached out to the footprint of its own accord. Second, by replaying the battle ROM that showed her mech thoughtfully posed beside the footprint (which impressed the heck out of other Nomads), she didn't have to face public ribbing for the manner in which she had found the footprints in the first place: falling face first into them when her mech's foot slipped on the edge.


However, the Nomads did not have the advanced neural interfaces of the Clans. They made use of neurohelmets derived from Star League technology, which (like Inner Sphere battlemechs) demanded a great deal of "intelligence" in the Mark IV's computers. As with Inner Sphere (and non-EI Clan) battlemechs, a Mark IV pilot just goosed the throttle, steered with control sticks, and the mech walked or ran as appropriate. It judged the terrain, selected foot placement, and translated the commands from the limited control interface into actions. However, the Nomads used robots more than other human nations. The great majority of their industry - from mines to factories to warehouses - were entirely robotic, and often left unattended for years until a Nomad ship swung by on its journeys to pick up the accumulated industrial bounty. The robots needed more problem solving abilities than most robots in human space. They had problem solving abilities on par with the vast and complicated SDS network of automated shipyards, repair facilities, weapon installations, and drones. So even when the Nomads made a robot with extensive human input (like an exoskeleton or battlemech), they thought nothing of including those advanced logic algorithms into the mech's control systems. Sometimes the results surprised the pilots, who were used to viewing the machines they operated as particularly obedient steeds.

With the second topple avoided, the Marine relaxed (bouncing around once in the cockpit of a falling mech was enough for the day) and was then surprised when the outstretched hand spontaneously shifted and traced over the edge of the pirate mech's footprint, clenched and crumpled a fistful of root-laced soil, and finally dumped the fistful of soil and returned the arm to its normal station beside the mech's body. It was an unnervingly human-like gesture. She opened a diagnostics window and delved into several levels of diagnostics pilots rarely touched, looking for the motion control system's log. The "ah-hah" moment hit the Marine as scrolled through half-intelligible computerese recording the mech's higher order object manipulation processes. What had it been thinking?

In preventing the fall, the mech's knees had shifted more than was expected for the applied myomer power (its knees had slipped some centimeters on the compressed grass). This meant footing was uncertain, and it was an established priority for the mech to know its footing. (Why knowing this was priority did not concern the mech, though the Marine knew it was so the computer could handle as many details of movement as possible during combat. When she wanted the mech
there during battle, she didn't want to be bothered with compensating for slipping and sliding feet.) With null signals from normally informative input sources (the radar was off for stealth) and partially comprehensible information from available sensors (the ground didn't look muddy or sandy, which were familiar terrain conditions), the mech had sought additional information. It connected prior experiences (colliding with objects during close quarter maneuvering, and noting varying degrees of damage to the objects based on their solidity) with the need to gauge terrain solidity. So it "collided" its hand with the ground, selecting a combination of motions that would reveal the terrain's solidity (shear strength and compressibility) with respect to the stresses imposed by its feet.

The idea was applicable to her problem, the Marine decided. What could the terrain properties tell her about the footprint? Well...the exposed dirt edges of the footprint were still raw and undamaged by rain, so it wasn't more than a few days old. And the grass was still springing up (the indoor-raised Marine drew a comparison to stepped-on plush carpet), so this footprint must be recent. Hours? Minutes? The nearby hills ahead would hide battlemechs even if they had passed through minutes before. And was this what hunters did when they looked at animal tracks, look at how the terrain was altered? She'd have to rewatch the 9-segment mini-series,
Nova Terra: Conquest of New Earth, when she got back home. The hunters in that mini-series were always kneeling beside animal tracks.

Many of the Mark IV's weapons were unique to the Nomads, though their functions often closely approximated Inner Sphere weaponry. The favored light autocannon of the beta configuration was an accurate weapon that would only fire when it had a good lock, though the lack of mech-scale autocannon recoil compensation meant the weapon tended to spread its shots over the target (Streak-3). Configuration-C used the popular "Long Rifle," which could even fire its low velocity, high explosive shells over terrain obstacles (LRM 4). Configuration-F used smaller, less accurate autocannons (SRM or LRM 2) in its task of "suppressing low tech threats" (say, angry mobs on a Periphery planet trying to lynch Nomad traders).

Shortly after finding the first footprint (with that face-first fall that didn't need to go into the final report), the Marine was able to identify others. And not just from one mech. There were different shapes of footprints in parallel lines. Now that she knew what to look for, she could see the broad path of trampled grass. It really stood out. This was relayed to the warships overhead (their crews there were operating the recently-deployed surveillance satellite network), and the command staff there shared the information with the other Marines on planet.

It took half an hour for the outflung arms of the Marine formation to muster at the pirate mech tracks. The Marines would complete the sweep of the pirates, but they would not start it. By this time, the satellites had traced the footprints to the cluster of pirate mechs ("in them thar hills," the Marines joked - finding the pirate mechs by their tracks had them all in mind of "colonials.") The Cassiopeia had completed a complicated burn that had kicked up away from the planet, killed its polar orbit, and positioned itself to arrive over the pirates (give or take a few kilometers). The warship was now plummeting stern-first toward the planet. At an altitude of 300 kilometers, its engines lit.

Even in afternoon sunlight, the auroras from the outraged upper atmosphere of the planet were visible. Ripples of pale red and green ribbon raced out from where superheated helium and hydrogen slammed into oxygen and nitrogen. By using her mech's magnification, the Marine could see two...three?...vague patches where the auroras were originating from. There would be a fourth over the horizon, because the Cassiopeia had four engines.

The four drives of the Cassiopeia were vectored outward to leave a temporarily calm patch of atmosphere below it, to better bombard pirates with. This did mean wasting thrust sideways, but the warship had G's to burn and delta-V to kill before it hit the planet. It came to a halt 150 kilometers over the planet and then rained hell on the pirates.

The pirates had been gawking upward at the atmospheric phenomena like the legendary turkey in a rain shower. Having never seen a warship's fusion engines in operation, let alone seen one aimed at the atmosphere for an extended period, the pirates did not realize the danger. A few lived long enough to realize something was terribly wrong as titanic lightning bolts (the mark of invisible protons and electrons plowing through air) hammered the ground around them. High accuracy was not needed. Each bolt from the Cassiopeia's stern battery flattened tens of thousands of square meters of terrain, ablated tons of armor from the pirate mechs, and blew gouts of dirt into the air. "Moving mud," the warship gunners termed it.

When the manmade Wrath of God ceased to fall, a report from the Cassiopeia reached the Marines. There was one pirate mech fleeing toward the Marines, another was crawling in the target zone, and those were the only surviving pirates. The Cassiopeia's ground support coordinator helpfully explained that the warship had used its radar to determine this due to the obscuring dust, smoke, and heat signatures around the target area. The Marines politely thanked the Cassiopeia for its aid and kept derogatory comments to themselves. That the warship had used radar was obvious to anyone with tooth fillings. The electrically roiled and dust-laden atmosphere below the Cassiopeia had required an obscene megawattage for the radar penetrate. Despite the good focus of radars meant to image EW-protected targets over one hundred thousand kilometers away, the radar side lobes had driven the Marines' mechs' electronic warfare suites into catatonia and made their tooth fillings sing (or the Marines imagined they could hear their fillings sing).


While the Nomads have unusual names for battle armors, protomechs, and battlemechs, their organization of all types of "mechs" is not unusual. They group battle armor and protomechs into into squads of 5, then into platoons of 4 squads, and then follow the usual 3-fold progression used by the Inner Sphere (companies of 3 platoons, battalions of 3 companies, etc.) Theoretically, they would group battlemechs and tanks into platoons of 4 battlemechs or tanks, but Nomads rarely use those ground units. Support vehicles (protomech and battle armor transports, cargo vehicles, etc.) tend to be organically included to the squad or platoon they support. When deployed in strength, a Nomad Marine (proto)mech battalion thus consists of 180 mechs.

Soon enough, the surviving pirate mech - a nimble Locust - came flittering over the hills. With the luck of a light mech, it seemed unscathed. It was, however, covered in brown, dusty soil that  left a faint contrail behind the mech, and it's headlong charge toward the line of Marine mechs (mostly behind a ridgeline, but still...) showed that the mechwarrior must have been in a deep panic. The Marines strucked when the Locust slowed to negotiate a broad, dry gully. The flanking companies, spread over a 2km line, folded in around the lone mech while the center company rushed forward to pepper the Locust with their Tyson Long Rifles. The first salvo had not been especially accurate or powerful (long shots at six hundred meters), but the terrified pilot was not prepared for the attack. The battlemech's feet went out from under it and it dropped butt first onto the lip of the gully. The second salvo of almost 200 high explosive rounds blew the light mech apart.

As the auroras faded - the Cassiopeia was pulling away from the planet at 2Gs - the Marines swept into the bombardment zone to find the reported last pirate mech. A movie or novel might've tried to describe the bombardment zone as "a picture of Hell," but the reality was...it was just dirty. The craters were flat and shallow and the surviving scrub was covered in dry, gray-brown dirt. Fires were few - the falling soil had smothered most of them. Metal trash and confetti littered the area like a junkyard in a desert. Some of the larger lumps of metal housed materials that burned greasily (myomers and oils used in some heat sinks), with thick, black smoke. If any ammunition was left in the wreckage of the pirate battlemechs, then it was long finished cooking off. The last surviving pirate battlemech was hobbling not quite straight away from the Marines.

It was clear why the battlemech had survived. It was a titanic Banshee. The Banshee was not a standard model, either. For one thing, shreds of supplemental armor plates hung from improvised mounting brackets. For another, the mechwarrior adroitly used a very non-standard giant hatchet as a crutch to offset the battlemech's mangled right leg. The Marines didn't particularly care what alternate weapons it might have; the numbers were decidedly in their favor. Two companies swept through the bombardment area to shoot any relatively large lump of pirate wreckage while the third company just charged the Banshee. The pirate noticed the threat and hobbled through a 180-degree turn to make a futile stand against the innumerable small opponents. Some popgun lasers flailed uselessly at the Marines while a not-so-useless gauss rifle banged out a half-seen, deadly-fast glitter. One Marine mech was snapped through a 360-degree counterclockwise spin when the gauss rifle slug connected off-center with the mech's torso. The mech skidded to a halt on its face while its fellows pummeled the Banshee with hundreds of rounds from their Long Rifles. Like the Locust, it was no challenge. But that was not surprising, if you knew the Nomad Marine Motto.

In truth, there are a lot of Official Nomad Marine Mottos. Depending on how many beers you got into some Nomad Marines and what war story you got them to share, you could get any of a dozen different "Official Marine Mottos," and half of them you probably could've picked up from the latest joke e-mail circulated on the platoon mailing list. But at least one of the regularly circulated "Official Marine Mottos" was: "Fair fights are for suckers."


APA MARK IV HEAVY POWER ARMOR
9 tons
Inner Sphere Technology*
900kg internal structure
2000kg 75 fusion engine
....Walking: 5
....Running: 8
....Jumping: 0
0kg 0 heat sinks
500kg cockpit
1950kg armor
....Head: 2 6
....Torso: 9 15
....RA/LA: 2/2 4/4
....Legs: 5 10
3650kg pod space

*Note this means piloting skill rolls are required for the same reasons on mechs, and that the "near miss" results on the hit location table are ignored and re-rolled
**When not present, Main Gun hit location results are ignored and re-rolled. When present, armor must be provided for the Main Gun out of pod space.

Configuration A--
ER Medium Laser (Main Gun, 1000kg)
5 heat sinks (1250kg)
3pts Main Gun Armor (150kg)
Machine Gun (500kg, RA or LA, pilot's choice)
MG Ammo (250kg, 50 shots)
5 Jump Jets (500kg)

Configuration B--
Streak SRM 3 (2250kg, Main Gun)
60 Streak SRMs (600kg, 20 shots)
3pts Main Gun Armor (150kg)
Machine Gun (500kg, RA or LA, pilot's choice)
MG Ammo (150kg, 30 shots)

Configuration C (Long Range sniper)--
LRM 4 (2000kg, Main Gun)
60 LRMs (500kg, 20 shots)
3pts Main Gun Armor (150kg)
Machine Gun (500kg, RA or LA, pilot's choice)
MG ammo (500kg, 100 shots)
(Alternate: replace MG with SL, heat sink, 30 extra LRMs)

Configuration D (Scout/Electronic Warfare)--
Beagle Active Probe or ECM (Torso, 1500kg)
5 Jump Jets (500kg)
TAG (1000kg, Torso)
Machine Gun (500kg, RA or LA, pilot's choice)
MG ammo (150kg, 30 shots)

Configuration E (Space-to-Space and Orbital Drop)--
Jump Jet Reaction Mass (1250kg, 100pts)
Medium Laser (1000kg, Main Gun)
3 Heat Sinks (750kg)
3pts Main Gun Armor (150kg)
5 Jump Jets (500kg)

Configuration F (Low Tech Threat Suppressor)--
SRM 2 or LRM 2 (1000kg, Main Gun)
SRM or LRM Ammo (500kg, 25 or 30 shots; fragmentation LRMs are population)
3pts Main Gun Armor (150kg)
5 Jump Jets (500kg)
2 Machine Guns (1000kg, RA/LA)
MG Ammo (500kg, 100 shots)

VARIANTS
In addition to the military model, the basic chassis finds limited use in civilian applications as a heavy-duty cargo loader (in spin gravity or on the rare planetary bases of the Nomads). Leg armor is reduced by 4 points and the torso armor by 3 points. Many of the military features (omni mounts, targeting computers, encryption software on communicators, etc.) are removed. Total cargo capacity is 4 tons, though the arms are limited to lifting 1 ton. These units are commonly equipped with jump jets and fuel for extended operation in space. With 5 heat sinks to handle extended jump jet operation and 2250kg of fuel, the civilian protomechs are often capable of landing and taking off from large moons and small planets (Luna, Ganymede, Mercury, etc.)
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

Ratwedge

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Re: Nomad ProtoMechs
« Reply #1 on: 14 July 2011, 01:22:11 »
Do you have any plans to adapt Magnetic Clamps and IJJ's for Protomechs?


« Last Edit: 14 July 2011, 08:35:28 by Ratwedge »

cray

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Re: Nomad ProtoMechs
« Reply #2 on: 14 July 2011, 13:49:17 »
Do you have any plans to adapt Magnetic Clamps and IJJ's for Protomechs?

I don't use those items often enough (and actually dislike IJJs) to invent home rules for them.

If you mean official rules, I'm not a line developer and thus have no say in outlining plans for upcoming products, rules, and units.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

RunandFindOut

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Re: Nomad ProtoMechs
« Reply #3 on: 11 September 2011, 14:18:46 »
Nice seeing you reposting old stuff on the new board cray.  You're one of the few people in the BT community whose posts I will specifically search for just in case I've missed something new from you. 
One does not just walk into Detroit

She ignored the dragon, and Freddy Mercury who arrived to battle it with the Power of Rock.

Dragon Cat

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Re: Nomad ProtoMechs
« Reply #4 on: 11 September 2011, 19:10:49 »
This is stunning work!!

I'd really like to use them at somepoint but just don't know how I'm very impressed and OmniProto ish thing too is quite cool but the fluff alone was worth the read both here and sarna

well done!!
Below are links to my fan fiction pages.

https://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-fiction/alternate-timeline-with-thanks-(full)/

https://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-fiction/alternate-timeline-with-thanks-full-part-2/

As always please enjoy and if you have any questions about my AU (or want to chat about ideas I could incorporate into it) feel free to PM me.

Korzon77

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Re: Nomad ProtoMechs
« Reply #5 on: 29 September 2011, 22:43:35 »
Well, it looks like Jihad FR is coming out soon-- and that measn we'll get to see what the WOBies were able to do with their own version of protomechs.

 

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