Minerva has long held the advantage against the raider groups and paramilitary dictatorships that it has encountered. This is due in large part to Minerva’s Aegis Mobile Assault squads. While gunships, satellites and armored troop transport vehicles all serve their part, in hostage and rescue missions the infiltration ability of an Aegis squad is unmatched.
Aegis squads – composed of 20 soldiers cross-trained in various aspects of medicine, support, and combat roles – are broken down into 4 pentads of 5 soldiers each. The armor capabilities of a standard Aegis soldier are sufficient to stop nearly all small arms fire and even long rifle fire up to 50 caliber rounds.
Even at the beginning of the Rebirth, when the world was in chaos from the War, the strength of Aegis’ armor was sufficient to maintain an extremely low fatality rate for the standard soldier. However, the increasingly advanced and organized opposition – based around pre-War military installations – has led to a higher incidence of fatalities due to the widespread use of armor-piercing and high-caliber anti-personnel rounds.
In order to respond to this increased threat, Aegis required improved armor. While developing a response to this problem, Glaucus’ researchers delved into the indexed databases of ancient researchers maintained by Oculus.
The researchers found that a common early limitation for personal body armor centered around the weight carrying capacity of the soldier. This capacity is the maximum amount of weight the soldier can carry while still being able to effectively react against the present threat. Stronger, heavier armor was desired for increased protection, but above a certain weight the soldier lost too much mobility. Since a soldier’s mobility is stressed sufficiently by the gear and pack required for an operation, adding another 200 pounds of armor plating would be excessive, essentially turning the soldier into a static defense unit. Historically, this conundrum led to the evolution of the tank and shift in military dogma to large and powerful remote strike units. Air superiority and naval presence allowed for long distance strikes and proved the axiom of “a strong offense is the best defense”. However, during the Rebirth, hostage and small scale skirmishes became the de facto standard. House to house combat and rescue situations rendered the larger and more deadly solutions ineffective.
At the same time, advances in biotechnology by Glaucus researchers allowed for economic and controlled growth of carbon nanotubes. This led to the development of artificial muscles that provided the flexibility needed for motive force. Unlike previous attempts using pistons and actuators, these organic muscles could provide the range of movement required for warfare. Semi-organic armor plating was also able to be “grown” using layers of nanotubes. This created a system of scale-like armor which allowed for flexible but strong plating, reducing the pinching found in more rigid armor. The resulting armor is essentially a living inner suit of armor upon which more rigid armor plating can be grafted. The inner armor, being a fibrous-based material, is by itself capable of resisting smaller caliber rounds. The outer armor plating can redirect and reduce the impact of higher caliber and advanced rounds.
Using this and other technological advances, Glaucus’ is currently developing a solution. Known as project “Oracle”, it consists of the improved power-armor with artificial muscle technology and an adaptive Artificial Intelligence (AI) interface. The integrated AI in each armor unit not only assists in basic control of the suit and integrated battlefield analysis, but by theoretically linking with the soldier’s mind it could allow for rapid twitch reflexes and movement. A finely calibrated AI could be able to detect the approach of bullets, shells, or rockets and adjust the armor panels to deflect the main force of the round. Given the costliness of this prototype solution, it is currently issued only to squad captains in order to determine its efficiency.
Similar armor solutions were conceived by the pre-War people. Early 21st century authors explored the concept of what war could be like if advanced technology overcome the weight carrying capacity of soliders. Books such as:
- Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein
- Armored by John Joseph Adams
- The Diamond Age by Illustrated Spectra
explored the theoretical possibilities made real today by Glaucus’ research.
Continued analysis of the technical limitations and enhancements of armor will be continued in parts 2 and 3 of this document. We welcome feedback and critique to this analysis and would hope that when completed it will serve to ground the science of this story in relevant 21st century technology.
[Art by Dan Butcher, creator of the excellent superhero comic Vanguard.]