"The Caprician Highlands are no place for an Ashantite," concluded Karlyn. She allowed herself a moment's reminiscing, then licked her lips and concentrated at the task at hand.
Karlyn held her breath as she crawled her Hunter over the gray broken ground. Her gear was nearly at the crest of the ridge, and the safety harness was the only thing keeping Karlyn from falling forwards onto her controls.
"Better this than zero-gee," she grew queasy at the thought. Hopefully she would be able to stay dirtside on Caprice for a long time. The vomit brown camouflage pattern her Hunter was sporting was the unfortunate result of her sharing her last meal before leaving Terranova all over Sgt. Carruthers. How come Carruthers was in charge of camouflage?
Past the ridge was the CEF supply depot. The 32nd Black Talon always seemed short of fuel, and here was a way of killing two birds with one stone. In the darkness her optics could just make out the silhouette of Jing's black Hunter slowly easing up to the ridge some seventy meters to her left. The pair had been quietly approaching the base for a few hours, and they were now in position. Karlyn double checked her weapons and waited.
Just ten short minutes away were supplies: food, water and fuel-glorious gallons of fuel.
The Pink Panthers were about to strike again.
With Caprice under CEF occupation and the schedule for liberating Caprice pushed back even further by Operation Icarus, the Westphalia Cabinet has been hard pressed to come up with alternative methods of carrying the fight to the NEC. The Black Talon program has received additional funding from the Polar leagues, thus putting more pressure on Talon Command to produce results. As eager as the recruits are, they still have to be trained; training takes time.
There has also been political pressure from the Leagues as to how the Black Talons are to be outfitted. While the Dark-series gears are exceptionally powerful and versatile, comments have been made in military circles that the Black Talons are spoiled with the latest technology only because they are a passing fad. While most of these comments are misguided, it is questionable as to just how effective a Dark gear is over the more mundane gears found in the employ of the Polar leagues, especially in the protracted guerrilla battles many of the Talon teams have been fighting.
The 32nd Black Talon was one solution to the above concerns. Talon Command had been toying with a long-range reconnaissance and commando unit for some time, and the 32nd was created in order to fill the specific operational requirements while also responding to some of the more reasonable overall critique of the program.
"Long range recon is a fun job. You're on your own; you get to breath in the fresh air, live off the land, relax and enjoy the sights. Kind of like a very extended camping trip only with bullets. Sure, you have to pack, festoon and strap down everything you own onto your gear, but at least you don't have to worry about some martinet sous-commandant riding your ass about how you're scruffy looking and proud of it. Then again, on Caprice, there's no air to breath, no vegetation to live off of, and you can't relax. Why'd I take this job again?" -Caporal Anton Carruthers.
The 32nd Black Talon was formed in order to provide long-range reconnaissance and strike capabilities, without the need for any space-based logistic support. The unit relies heavily on indigenous Liberati support when not on duty; otherwise, the 32nd is entirely self-sufficient. The gears carry all the unit's equipment, and the pilots of the 32nd are cross-trained in survival techniques, as well as field repairs and advanced guerrilla warfare tactics. Expected to be in the field for extended periods, the 32nd Talon's pilots are selected on their problem-solving abilities and self-reliance.
Currently, there are sixteen members of the 32nd Black Talon. Standard procedure is to operate in groups of four, though it is quite common for pilots to be paired up for more discrete operations. Missions generally consist of raiding and reconnaissance, as well as helping in the development of a massive Resistance network among the various Liberati clans in the Highlands.
"Right, the Pink Panthers. Well, unlike all those Talon teams with the fancy gears, I can tell you all about the 32nd Talon's gears. Hunters. Yup, solid, reliable, slab-of-armor, boring old Hunters. Sure, I tweak 'em a little, but any tech worth his weight in springer dung can still figure them out. Heck, even the PILOTS can fix the things!" -Anonymous Black Talon Werks technician.
In order to ensure that nothing short of total incineration will prevent a gear from the 32nd being repairable, the 32nd Talon has been issued Hunter heavy gears. Though Jagers were considered, even the Southern design's rounded armor was seen as too difficult to repair in the field. However, the Hunters issued to the Pink Panthers have been given a quick upgrade by the Black Talon Werks in order to make them more suited to their mission.
Remove: All weapons except VB, APGL, HG
Add: Stealth: 1 (RAM paint), Fuel Efficient: x1.5, HEP: Cold (Surface of Caprice)
Change: Walker top speed to 8MP, Ground top speed to 13MP. Deployment Range to 600km.
The weapons and equipment of the Pink Panthers is varied. Each gear's load is customized to the role that gear plays in the unit, and the preference of the pilot. Naturally, high maintenance weapons like lasers and particle beams are not carried. As well, due to concerns about ammunition consumption, autocannons are less common than rifles. It is also common that each gear carries multiple hand-held weapons, stowed on the hip armour plates and rear armour plate.
The Pink Panthers are a throwback to the days of jeep-mounted commandos driving around in the desert, looking for any sort of enemy installation to blow up. Players can take the role of some of the pilots, who are selected based on the variety of skills they have, and their self-reliance. They will have little to no support from Talon Command, thus forcing the unit to work in conjunction with the Liberati. As an added perk, the 32nd has a free hand in how to do run things, an added bonus for characters that don't like dealing with authority, but still want to fight the CEF.
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