Project: Elastomer Soul
Project: Elastomer Soul is a secret military project of the Commonwealth of C. Numerous dieseltech technologies - namely auto-armor, stage automata, and RadNet-enabled drones - are worked together to create a force of fully-autonomous combatants which can be deployed without having to risk living soldiers. In essence, Elastomer Souls are drones integrated into experimental auto-armor chassis. Technical limitations and the extreme expense involved has prevented the Commonwealth from fielding these Elastomer Soul units in large numbers as of the year 10,000 AR - but, if these can be overcome, the project might one day completely overturn the balance of power in the War of Reunification. The name 'Elastomer Soul' refers to the synthetic rubber programming gaskets wrapped around spools at the heart of such a machine.
An Elastomer Soul's power plant, oversized biodiesel tank, and compressor assembly are partially subsumed into its torso, protecting them from direct attack more than those found on crewed suits of auto-armor. If the fuel level is ever permitted to drop below 3% capacity, a timer is activated which, after three minutes, triggers the unit's self-destruct mechanism (see Additional & Auxiliary Systems). This trigger can be overridden via radio commands, though this is only done if the unit is likely to be recovered for refuelling.
Because an Elastomer Soul relies on pre-programmed routes or remote control and lacks high-resolution perception of its environment, the unit is notable for its clumsiness around otherwise simple obstacles. Indeed, while the project remains largely a secret other than among Coalition Regular Forces researchers, a savvy observer could pick out Elastomer Souls on the battlefied by this relative clumsiness.
Weapons & Armament
Though Elastomer Soul operators do have a limited view of the battlefield via the unit's compound eyes (see Sensors), this view is significantly restricted in resolution. As a result, Elastomer Souls generally have poor accuracy with whatever weapon they are equipped with, and generally fair best with directed ordnance or automatic weaponry (i.e. some versions of the ever-popular grease gun) in ranged combat. Similarly, an Elastomer Soul is best suited to crushing opponents with its own mass rather than swinging around blades like other auto-armor operators might, as the latter method of attack requires a degree of precision.
Armor and defense
An Elastomer Soul's superstructure proportions are based off of captured examples of the Voxelian PM "Paladin" Main Battle Auto-Armor, though the Elastomer Soul's armor plating in any case is significantly thicker due to the fact that it need not accomodate a pilot. With adjustments, an Elastomer Soul can equip several different sets of armor scavenged from enemy or allied main battle auto-armors, from the Paladin to the allied PBA-5 "Pioneer" Main Battle Auto-Armor.
Communication Tools & Systems
All Elastomer Souls are equipped with encrypted RadNet transcievers, allowing operators to change programming gasket decks or directly take control of certain functions. Generally, operators must be located within around one cube of units they intend to control; otherwise, atmospheric conditions or ambient radio traffic might interfere with commands, and signals sent to or from the units might be intercepted or spoofed by enemy drone operators.
Each Elastomer Soul's helmet contains a multifaceted electro-optical 'eye,' the inputs of which can be used to influence the automaton's programmed behaviors or can be transmitted to remote operators. This sight is of extremely limited resolution, but it does allow operators to make decisions based on environmental factors. Each unit also contains a gyroscope for maintaining balance and a radio beacon which allows the operator to determine the unit's location remotely. The beacon is important because, when paired with dieseltech computer-enabled mapping at the operators' location, it allows the operators to direct the units as a formation to specific geographical locations without manually piloting the units there.
Additional & auxiliary systems
Elastomer Soul units always contain a self-destruct mechanism constituted of both a conventional explosive device and a dieseltech runaway trigger, both triggerable via RadNet commands or under pre-programmed circumstances. This mechanism is designed to prevent the capture or reverse-engineering of an Elastomer Soul. Pieces of cadaver bone and surplus uniforms included in the Elastomer Soul's structure make it difficult to determine whether the operator was a living person or a simple automaton; different uniform choices can be used in part to 'engineer' public perception of the units, allowing for false flag operations.
HistoryProject: Elastomer Soul has the dubious distinction of being the only 'super weapon'-style project to see actual use against a population center. While secret projects like the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy Marine Forces' Millenial Rain and the Manifold Conservation Society's MCSV Celestial Praxis have been constructed, they have not yet been used for their intended purposes as of the year 10,000 AR. Elastomer Soul units, in contrast, were deployed in the municipality of Craterhold in an effort to squash the Craterhold Uprising. The units involved in this deployment were clad in captured Grand Army of Voxelia Paladin armor and armed with captured mellification cannons, making them look like the first-in force of an impending Voxelian invasion. The Craterhold Uprising began as a spike in tensions between the majority Elovisian population and the minority New Voxelian population within the city. By launching what would be percieved as an external attack, then allowing local Coalition Defense Forces units (many of which would be New Voxelian in ethnicity) to respond, the Coalition command hoped to redirect the anger of the crowds against their shared external enemy. By using Elastomer Soul units, this operation could be conducted with no sacrifices in terms of CDF or Commonwealth personnel - though, to make the attack seem plausible and geopolitically (rather than ethnically) motivated, some locals of both ethnicities were fired upon by the Elastomer Souls. While the operation was successful in stopping the Uprising and providing justification for the Second Treaty of Vivaldi peak (which allowed the CDF to intervene in internal threats to the alliance), the Commonwealth government's relationship with the Craterhold Moot (who were initially kept ignorant in an effort to maintain upmost operational security) cooled significantly in the aftermath. To this day, Data Engines Limited production facilities located within the municipality face an unusually high number of surprise inspections and delays when working with local suppliers. The local lords insist that this is a simple coincidence, but DEL actuarial tables tell a different story when compared with those of other manufacturers in the region.
CCA (Commonwealth Combat Automaton)
There are only 20 Elastomer Soul units in the Commonwealth Regular Forces arsenal as of Iknemi, 10,000 AR. Their existence is kept top secret at all times.
Complement / Crew
Cargo & Passenger Capacity