Battle Spear Uniform
Valya looked at the dummy wearing the black-and-purple uniform, a part of her still wondering if she was dreaming. She was barely convinced she wasn't, because even in her wildest dreams she had never imagined becoming a Battle Spear. Her shocked state was disrupted by Dr. Manasiev clearing his throat. She turned towards him as he began reading from a clipboard. "So, the uniform is designed to protect you from a number of threats. You must take care to remember that it is not infallible, and neither are your new powers. How much do you know about its capabilities?" Based on his expression and tone, it appeared he meant well but simply had not received information about her. With a grin she answered him. "Resistant against fire, acid, slashes, impacts, bullets. Limited stretching abilities in support of transformation powers, buckles that release at a certain force to not obstruct the user in emergencies. Chemically treated against Black Lung Powder, sealable helmets with a ten-minute airtank, emergency beacons. Did I miss anything?" Dr. Manasiev stared at her in a confuddled manner, as if she was a data anomaly he had to figure out. She smiled and decided to put him out of his misery. "I helped stress-test the current design two years ago, including combat training exercises. Unleashed the flamethrower myself. Of course I am not aware if you made any covert updates since then?" She saw the sudden spark of recognition in his eyes, before he shook his head. "None that really matter. Alright, I guess that does cover the next twelve minutes of my schedule. Since the others will still be in a meeting, we have enough time to take a quick break. So... Tea?"
The Battle Spears
Serving as bodyguards of the Science Department, the Battle Spears are a unit of superpowered troops on planet Ymir. Their uniform is designed to help handle both their various superpowers, and the dangers they face during explorations. The uniform has gone through several iterations over the years, to better fit with both usability and the public image of the Battle Spears. While the Battle Spears have an internal hierarchy, based on a combination of power tiers and experience, they display no such thing in their uniforms. This has been the case since the very start, as a symbol of the fact that the Battle Spears are not soldiers but civilians, even though they recognise no authority but their own.
"Does the lab supervisor wear a different coat from the other scientists? No? Why not? Ah, because everyone already knows he's the supervisor? Then why should I wear a different uniform, or my seconds? We're not soldiers, we're not officers, we're not civilians looking pretty. We're bodyguards. There are no ranks that matter when it comes to keeping people safe."
Of all people on planet Ymir, only the Science Department is exempt from martial law, though not from the military's monopoly on violence. This official independence, which also comes with extraterritorial rights, is a fundamental part of all Starseed vessels. No ship leaves Earth without acknowledging scientists as equals of the government. Additionally, the military doesn't want to betray those protecting the people from alien flora and fauna. To remain independent, the Science Department must be able to protect itself. By depending on the military for its safety, no actual independence can be assured. This is why a very large portion of the budget is allotted to the Battle Spears. A lot of resources go into the superserum program and equipment development, as to keep the Spears safe, is to keep the Science Department safe. Dr. Marko Manasiev is in charge of uniform development. He works closely with Kayla Kateb, the scientist in charge of the Battle Spears, who is constantly researching their abilities. As she is a Battle Spear Executive, Kateb is not addressed as Doctor. Together, the two of them manage uniform production and alterations. No change is made, or test performed, without their explicit approval. Only in recent years have they started training future replacements. At the Science Department compounds, scientists do not need to be escorted individually. Compound security is left to drones and Battle Spear patrols. However, if a scientist leaves the compounds, they will always receive a personal bodyguard. Directors even must have at least three bodyguards, and may not leave in a delegation including less than six Battle Spears. Furthermore, no Director may leave without wearing power armour.
Production & Materials
Initially made solely with Earth-brought materials, the uniform has come a long way since. Metal components are locally-mined, while the rest of the materials are almost all harvested from Ymir flora and fauna. The sole exception is the bamboo used to produce bamboo silk underclothing and facemasks. The Science Department maintains different bamboo populations and keeps backup seeds, just like with other Earth-brought species, so that an epidemic won't wipe out the entire species. Most of the outfit is made of Alces Major leather. This is treated with various chemicals to make it more flexible, and partially dyed with crushed Aries horns for the purple parts. This dye is used to employ the natural camouflage these creatures have developed. Man-made dye may look similar to the human eye, but completely different to a predator. Scientists are experimenting with ways to chemically produce these colours without requiring animal parts, but because of the high risk involved in field tests, testing proceeds slowly. Large green Serpens scales are used to protect the shoulders and thighs. Their colouring also serves as a source of natural camouflage. Furthermore, the scales are more reliable than metal plates when it comes to taking hits, and significantly lighter. Crushed smaller scales are used to dye the belt and shield. The shield cornerpieces are made of an aluminum cover, coated with the same dye, and then anodised. The uniform is treated and coated with various substances, many of which were researched by AI during the Starseed's journey to Ymir. Aside from the mentioned flexibility, these treatments also allow for partial stretching without compromising integrity, which is useful for some of the Battle Spear abilities. Moreover, the outfits can handle acids at the level of battery acid, and can protect against temperatures up to 1400°C for twelve seconds. The coating also prevents Black Lung Powder from adhering to the outfit, making it easier to disinfect.
The Battle Spears are well-trained with several weapons, all officially meant solely against alien wildlife. The Ymir Weapon Law state that only Defenders are allowed to own and use weapons. Only two groups are exempted from this restriction, namely the Battle Spears and the Homesteaders. However, neither may carry weapons within city limits, unless they receive dispensation. As such, a Battle Spear should never end up wielding a weapon against a person. The entire arsenal of a Battle Spear is very heavy to wield, and their firearms have incredible recoil due to their large calibers. While a normal Defender would need two hands and all their strength to handle these, the superserum gives the Battle Spears massively increased body strength. As such, they can easily wield these items one-handed. The primary weapon is an 80-caliber pistol with 7-round magazines. Due to the discrepancy between ammo caliber and barrel length, the gun's accuracy suffers at range. This makes it primarily suited for close quarters against animals with thick hides. Shock rounds are also used, which care less about accuracy so are useful at a safer distance. Against larger herds of easier targets, the 60-caliber rifle is employed. Capable of automatic firing, the rifle has a 48-round helical magazine, designed to prevent external complications. However, reloading requires a partial disassemble, or individual round-feeding through a special opening. In addition, the feeding system becomes unreliable during continuous firing, requiring short bursts to prevent jamming. Melee-wise, the machete is simply meant for handling foliage, and is backup in case guns are no longer an option. The boar spear, which is the origin of the Battle Spears' moniker, is only brought out if a stampeding animal must be brought to a halt. The shield helps protect against tusks and horns, allowing the user to hold off an attack. Performing a successful block helps create an opening to strike back.
The uniform's first version was designed back on Earth, and optimised by AI on the flight to Ymir. Its appearance and functionality heavily mirrored the power armour that scientists were meant to use. However, the Battle Spears received less power-assist, which allowed for a longer battery life, but required a far better physique of their wearer. Then came the first complication, when it was discovered the superserum troops were far stronger than expected. Their strength developed to the point where the power-assist was actually holding them back. Moreover, the hard metal was too bulky, slowing them down as well. Several experiments were done with mixing leather and metal plates, before scientists discovered Alces Major hides and Serpens scales were most suited as primary components. Battle Spear helmets proved redundant and actually restrictive in action, because their hardened skulls can stand up against heavy blows, while helmets muddle their improved senses. Furthermore, gas masks proved to be overkill against dangerous substances. As such, the helmets were replaced with facemasks, soft-armour head wraps, and optional goggles. In case of hazardous gases, they use sealable helmets with an internal air tank. Meanwhile, Ymir fauna turned out to be far sturdier than initially theorised, forcing the use of bigger calibers. Here the increased physical strength proved useful, as the weapons evolved from tasers and normal hunting rifles, to essentially small cannons. Fortunately the scientists had brought a massive arsenal, to keep their options open. As the Battle Spears grew into prominence, due to aiding the community against several Ursa Major stampedes, their colour-scheme became a problem. To better differentiate from the scientists they were protecting, first their outfits were painted in camo colours. However, this caused civilians to mistake them for Defenders. Eventually, research settled on natural Ymir camouflage, which didn't work well against humans but was great against Ymir fauna.
The biggest reason why the Science Department needs bodyguards, is exploration trips into the Ymir wilderness. Because of Ymir being tidally locked, it was always known that parts of the environment would be extremely hostile, so every iteration of the uniform was designed to handle various extremes. Chemical treatments were developed to help handle venom, acid, fire, and water. The resulting power armours and uniforms are now capable of handling every dangerous circumstance that the Battle Spears encounter. The arsenal of the Battle Spears was also designed to be able to handle local wildlife. Both shield and boar spear were always part of the uniform, in case a large animal had to be fought up close and personal. Silk underclothing was added for when an attack breaks through the uniform, to help keep wounds clean. Initially, explorations included small tanks, but with Battle Spears being able to wield large guns themselves, these vehicles were phased out. Currently, each exploration includes twelve scientists, each owning a clean room vehicle while being paired with a Battle Spear. To help protect the scientists while Battle Spears scout ahead, thirty Defenders are sent along. These wear gas masks and armour treated similarily to that of the Battle Spears and scientists. Finally, six mechanics keep technology running properly, and take care of drone support. These let them serve as eye in the sky. Part of the treatment goals was always to help safeguard against dangerous bacteria and viruses, while also capturing samples to analyse. This worked well, as the Science Department discovered Black Lung Powder during the first year on Ymir, and warned the government against it. When the first outbreak happened four years later, partial treatments already had been developed and helped keep casualties to a minimum. Vaccinations took two more years to complete.