Monday, November 27, 2017

Superiority

Earth was unprepared for a war with Mars. Her R-Ray technology lagged behind the Area forces. Mars had an larger and more experienced fleet and years of Arean subterfuge had greatly impeded Earth's involvement in the Solar System.

Building more ships would take time but could be done. Earth had the edge in population and resources. Likewise, building more ships would lead to advances in R-Ray propulsion and weapons. To deal with Arean influence Earth turned to the Special Forces. Highly trained teams would land to gather intelligence, train allies, and damage Arean interests and property. 

SpecFor in turn had two problems: lack of vehicles and lack of firepower. Most of the teams were transported via Luna class ships repurposed for covert operations. They were ostensibly merchants or explorers and did not mount ship vehicles. In many case SpecFor had vehicles provided by locals or they stole them. The SpecFor of course had lifter belts but these were not always sufficient. 

SpecFor were issued rocket pistols but felt they needed a weapon to answer the Martian disintegrator. The earth's answer was the blaster but this weapon had problems as detailed in an earlier post. As for the vehicle problem, the answer was the One Man Aerial Platform or Jitter

Jitters were small platforms with lifter technology and small powerful engines burning metallic hydrogen. Using lifters stretched fuel duration. They could manage 100-200 kph. Higher speeds could result in the engines melting. A jitter could ascend to 100 meters and operate for 2-3 hours between recharging and refueling. 

They also made good targets as the wearer stood up in them with their feet in braces similar to ski boots. The jitter was controlled by leaning in various directions, toe, and heel pedals and quite responsive. 

The initial reaction of the SpecFor was skepticism (or outright laughter). Still they trained and began to learn to use the jitter's speed and maneuverability to present poor targets to sniper fire. They also learned to fly closer to the ground. 

The jitter had the advantage of being discardable. In the event of an engine failure the wearer could eject and still use their lifter belt and have a chance of escape. In addition the SpecFor were happy to be as far from the metallic hydrogen as possible and strongly objected to mounting rocket engines on their lifter belts for this reason. The jitter also could hold a lot of fuel and multiple engines. That much mass in a lifter belt would make the user clumsy despite the belt reducing his weight. 

Lt. Salazar is equipped with a Mk. 1 blaster, Mk. 3 lifter belt and a  Earth Dynamics Jitter (One Man Air Platform or OMAP). Her helmet is non standard issue but a design adapted by many SpecFor in the field. Apparently the wings also contain sensor and radio antenna.

Some SpecFor loved them and some hated them resulting in mediocre performance reviews. 

Then some genius decided to give the jitter another try while using his blaster. Blasters, you may recall had a serious recoil problem. Wrist guards were a muss. Underweight troopers just didn't use them. However, anyone could use a blaster on a jitter. You flew at the target and fired and the recoil was countered safely and gradually by the lifter. You'd move back a meter, maybe less for skilled users. Earth began working on blaster rifles.

It was a rare case of two mediocre devices making an excellent hybrid. SpecFor operatives grew adept at using jitters for pop up maneuvers, hopping up several meters from a place of concealment, firing several shots quickly and then descending quickly to reload. The Arean troops faced with this tactic often drained their disintegrator charges with little significant damage while concealed snipers whittled them down. 

Jitters saw extensive service on Venus where they could dip under the tree canopy to avoid enemy fire  and even maneuver between tree trunks quicker than other vehicles. eventually several were designed as stretcher bearers and cargo pallets to extend SpecFor range and capabilities. 

In the Uplands Camapign on Venus a SpecFor company used jitters to move and set up a number of pack guns within range of the main Arean airbase. When the Earth and native forces began their counter attack these guns began a lethal shelling of the base and paralyzed operations for over an hour. The slow response allowed the earth attack to succeed and Earth fighters took command of the skies decisively for the entire campaign.