|Tal Yahalom "Underscore" Ravis|
Tal Yahalom Ravis, also known as Underscore or Snoopy, is a Sirius-born Freelancer who arrived in the Schatten system via splice. Formerly an interceptor squadron leader in the esteemed Gas Miners Guild paramilitary division, he found work with Solas Tempus as a fighter pilot, although he later became a Temporal Operative before being transferred to Special Services following the destruction of Blazing Umbra station. Perhaps SPECCOM's most controversial officer, he is infamous for his role in the Pereh incident and subsequent rescue of Admiral Lance Thomas.
Tal is well-trained and versed in the art of killing people and breaking things. An exceptional marksman, having qualified expert with rifles and machine guns according to SPECCOM standards, with emphasis on speed, accuracy, and silence. Master of squad and fireteam-level tactics. Reasonably competent pilot on the side, with a knowledge of CR and GMG paramilitary guerilla warfare practices.
|Health||█ █ █ █ █ ░ ░ ░ ░ ░||- "What the fuck happened to your face, dude?"||1/C|
|Agility||█ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ ░||- High speed, low drag.||1/B|
|Dexterity||█ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █||- Dynamically operates select-fire weapons in non-linear asymmetric environments.||1/A|
|Strength||█ █ █ █ █ █ █ ░ ░ ░||- Carried a 30-pound machine gun for a living.||1/C|
|Melee||█ █ █ █ ░ ░ ░ ░ ░ ░||- "What's so hard about swish-swish-stab?"||1/D|
|Ranged||█ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █||- Calls the automatic and wide-beam settings "family mode".||1/A|
|Leadership||█ █ █ █ █ █ ░ ░ ░ ░||- Terminal Lance.||1/C|
|Observation||█ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ ░||- If he was any better, he'd have been Recon.||1/B|
|Self-control||█ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ ░ ░||- Keeps it 3 hundred.||1/B|
|Charisma||█ █ █ ░ ░ ░ ░ ░ ░ ░||- "Tal, do you ever shut the fuck up?" -William Foulke||1/D|
|Piloting||█ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █||- Top Gun.||1/A|
Tal was born on August 6th, 798 A.S. in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district on Planet Manhattan, to a family of relatively poor blue-collar workers. Of the three Ravis children – Hudson, Xavier, and himself – he was the least successful, nearly failing out of grade school twice with a terrible disciplinary record filled with absences, disruptions, and tardies. He also showed no talent or interest in the arts, spending most of his free time playing in the streets with his friends. Later on, he helped form a small street gang with a handful of his friends, lurking in alleyways at night, waiting for unsuspecting targets to rob, managing to snag several thousand credits worth of jewelry and other valuables.
Young Ravis soon found out that this new gang lifestyle was volatile and unsustainable, as an LPI crackdown on crime ended in the arrests of all of the gang but him and two others. Lucky enough to avoid the cops, he quickly sought an alternative to life on the streets, and after graduating from high school, he turned to the Liberty Marine Corps, hoping that perhaps he'd be able to start anew or die trying in a blaze of glory. His parents, who were vehemently against the Rheinland war at the time, were intensely disappointed in his decision to enlist in what they saw as a pointless, unjustified war, and so Tal grew more and more distant from his family, moving out of their small apartment and purchasing a Scimitar-class light fighter, which he nicknamed Cruel Summer after the season in which he shipped out.
Tal Ravis proved to be a rather mediocre Marine, taking up a four-year enlistment contract to become a gunner in a machine gun section. Promised action by his recruiter, he was disappointed when his enlistment consisted of little more than carrying a thirty-pound general-purpose machine gun around and occasionally shooting at pirates, slavers, or Rheinland embargo runners. While LAHAAT machine gun teams were lauded for their ability to manipulate the automatically-targeting, sensor-directed weapons within ships to great effect, he felt that he was fighting a war he didn’t sign up the fight–one against slavery and drugs, rather than the Rheinlanders. He has two 6-month deployments, one aboard the Yukon and another aboard the Mississippi under his belt, during which he boarded several hundred transports with his MEU. It should be noted that while he did fire upon and kill several Outcast slavers, thus earning a Combat Action Ribbon, he did not fire upon a military target as part of any official conflict.
While waiting for his opportunity to stack dozens upon dozens of Kraut bodies in front of his MG, he did manage to qualify expert with the standard-issue rifle of the time, Ageira's "Backblast" tachyon rifle, and also graduated from EVA school. Sadly, his enlistment contract ended before he could fulfill his dream of indiscriminately slaughtering scores of Rheinlanders or Gallics, and he chose to seperate from the military at the age of 22 instead of reenlisting, mostly due to his lack of motivation. The influence of the Corps on him, however, never went away, as shown in his fighting style, spirit, and aesthetics, since his Solas Tempus combat outfit is derived directly from the Marine BDU.
The Corps was where he first acquired the nickname "Underscore", where, in an attempt to make a commemorative tally mark on the side of helmet after his first kill, he accidentally had his helmet facing visor-up, thus resulting in a mark that looked more like an underscore than anything else.
Once out of the Corps, Tal quickly realized that he needed a means to provide for himself, eventually taking up a stable job flying freight for Ageira Technologies for two years until his adventurous spirit came back. With a sudden craving for more thrills in his life, he quit working for Ageira and applied to join the Liberty Police, the same organization that jailed all of his closest friends just five years ago. It was here that, over the course of a few months, he discovered that he had anger management issues, eventually deeming himself unfit for duty in the LPI. From here, he resigned and went his own way, using some of his pay to buy a basic model Sabre fighter in order to start his own mercenary company.
Named "Haven Tactical Security", he and an associate mostly flew low-level escort missions, failing to make much of an impact or name for themselves. Eventually, his associate departed from the endeavor, taking with him most of the company's assets and leaving Tal to his own devices.
Undeterred, he turned to the then-Colonial Republic for work, where he was hired as a fighter pilot. Preferring the Nyx multirole superiority fighter, he was pushed through an accelerated pilot training pipeline and was eventually assigned to the 49th Fighter Squadron, operating mainly in the Taus. He flew constant combat sorties against the Outcasts from the Carrier Hades in Tau-39 under the callsign "Snoopy", until he realized that the flashy lifestyle of a fighter pilot wasn't really for him. Stress, injuries, and trauma stemming from frequent combat with some of the best combat pilots in Sirius was rapidly getting to his head, and after a friendly fire incident in which he accidentally shot down a friendly Pytho bomber, he took his leave from the CR.
Life after the CR was sketchy, as he seemed to be unable to find legitimate work anywhere. His veteran status in the Libertonian Military put off many employers as the war with Rheinland was becoming increasingly unpopular, and so he simply roamed around Sirius, taking small jobs wherever he went. During this time, he became involved with the Junker Marauders, helping to erect and maintain Beaumont Spire briefly until he disappeared from Sirius for a month. It wasn't until much later down the line that Tal reappeared, this time working for the resurgent Core, having apparently undergone a journey of self-reflection and discovery. It is suspected during this away time that he completed Liberty Security Force Special Activities Division/Special Operations Group (SAD/SOG) indoctrination as well as a cursory deployment to the frontlines of combat on Leeds in order to train Bretonian rebels, although he dispels any such rumors.
Following the Core's successful capture of Yaren and Planet Nauru, Tal was part of a contingent of mercenaries sent to reinforce Core assets on Nauru, starting off with just a week-long search-and-destroy mission aimed at stomping out any remaining Corsair presence on the planet. The length of the mission grew and grew, until it was a full-on six-month garrison mission at a Core forward operating base. It was here that he survived the Great Ion Storm of 822, lucky enough to have received supplies from a transport just days before the storm hit Sirius. For the rest of the month, his garrison was on high alert, wary of any potential Corsair raids aiming to take advantage of the lack of communications between the base and Core command, although no attack ever came. It wasn't even known at the time if Nauru even had an appreciable Corsair presence planetside, and he never fired a shot in anger at anyone during his contract.
After Nauru, Tal found himself with a fair amount of money, and was willing to settle down somewhere a bit more stable for the long haul. After some milling about as a Freelance pilot, Tal found freight work with the GMG, after meeting Guildmaster Keiji Namura. Gradually, he became more and more part of the Guild, and was eventually absorbed into the GMG's esteemed Paramilitary division as an interceptor pilot. Stationed on Gas Miner Ogashawa, he flew sorties in a Karasu heavy fighter dubbed the Silver Bullet, after the ship's distinctive appearance and an aerial ramming attack incident in which he speared and disabled a pirate Waran bomber using the Karasu's distincive, sharp nose at high speeds.
Unfortunately, the original Silver Bullet was disabled in a confrontation between Guild forces and Nomad-Infected Kusari Naval Forces pilots, the first time he'd been shot down since his time in the Colonial Republic. While conducting a strafing run on an Isejin-affiliated gunship, his vessel was caught by a full primary battery salvo from a Hatchet destroyer, which erased the entire rear half of the fighter. With no weapons or engine remaining, he coordinated an ejection to avoid capture by Wilde forces and was rescued by Guildmaster Keiji Namura, suffering minor injuries to his legs related to the ejection.
He took two major leaves of absence from his duties in the Guild, one to participate in a Blood Dragon ground offensive on Planet Tomioka, where he was wounded five times over the course of a 2-week long campaign in which he led mercenary forces against elite, battle-hardened veterans of the Kusari Naval Forces. During this time, he racked up at least 30 confirmed kills with his carbine, fighting day and night for control of the rear fuselage and engine of a downed Blood Dragon battleship, the Mount Fuji. Officially, he was never there, as he operated under the alias "Daniel Recker" to preserve his neutral Freelance reputation in Kusari.
The next leave of absence involved his associate, Komachi Kurosawa, and a temple on Nauru, which they investigated to no avail after Tal accidentally disrupted the temple's structural integrity using a large detcord oval charge, collapsing it on themselves once they were inside. After a while, they freed themselves from their stone coffin, although their search was ultimately fruitless. However, working later for the Core, Tal managed to retrieve an ancient artifact from a Zoner digsite, and planned on contacting Kurosawa for another investigation prior to being spliced out of Sirius.
In late-823 A.S., he and the rest of the 2nd Interceptor Division were temporarily reassigned to Iejima Station following a threat from an independent group of Corsair battleship captains, flying T-493-B Kaichous from Iejima. Once two weeks had passed without an attack, he and his squadron were relocated back to Gas Miner Ogashawa.
Tal was later given command of the 2nd Interceptor Division, nicknamed "Dealers in Death", and was reassigned to fly in support of the VWA-BD-Order Anti-Corsair Joint Strike Force, nicknamed Geyer squadron. The 2ID will be stationed on Ogashawa for the forseeable future, although now without Tal at the helm.
Saving Guildmaster Namura
In early 824 A.S., Keiji Namura mysteriously disappeared without a trace, leaving most of the Guild puzzled as to his whereabouts. Tal Ravis and the 2nd Interceptor Division were tasked with the initial combat search-and-rescue operations as Ogashawa was closest to the Guildmaster's last-known location, although their preliminary search yielded nothing. Efforts are being made to allocate more resources into finding Keiji Namura, with the 2nd Interceptor Division poised to play a central part in finding the former Guildmaster.
While on the search for Guildmaster Keiji Namura, he stumbled across a "rogue jump hole" inside one of the nebulas, likely created by the then-recent detonation of an NEMP bomb in the system by a gang of Outcasts. Unknowingly, the rift was actually a splice, and as he moved to fly past it, it slurped him up and spat him out in orbit of the Blazing Umbra station, where he was intercepted by patrolling fighters and eventually forced to land on the station.
Solas Tempus Service
Shortly after being intercepted, he was acquianted with the station and Admiral Lance Thomas, who convinced Tal to sign a contract with Solas Tempus in exchange for a guarantee that he would be allowed safe passage back to Sirius should such an opportunity arise. For over five months, he'd serve as a fighter pilot, starship captain, and temporal operative.
One of his first missions was to fly top cover for a wormhole test, which resulted in the party being engaged by several hostile fighters. He was ultimately able to dispatch the hostiles with some assistance from system security. Later, he engaged Romulan warbirds in his Karasu as part of a larger operation conducted against a listening post in the system. Since then, he has fought against all manners of enemies in space, from Nomads to an Imperial fleet. His starship, the Steamrunner-class assault frigate USS Bonhomme Richard, was effectively employed against a Nomad invasion fleet and was key in repelling the attack, at the cost of the ship and 80 of its crew. Notable among his fighter achievements is the incident when he dueled two elite TIE Interceptor pilots in Soteria's atmosphere in his Karasu and won, taking considerable damage in return. After the reorganization of Schatten's forces, he was given command of the Sigma interceptor wing, stationed on Blazing Umbra Station.
His service was not exclusively in flight, and he has fought on the ground numerous times. He acquired an M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle for personal use early on in his service, using it on two occasions to stop the alternate personality Shinra and to clear The Derelict with his boarding party. He was present during the Romulan listening post boarding mission, using the prototype DRX-23 beam rifle to kill several guards. He would also become one of Solas Tempus R&D's chief testers, providing input on the DRX-24 program before it was ullmately cancelled. The weapon was used once to great effect inside the station's amphitheater, with Tal racking up a considerable kill count before getting wounded by a tesla cannon.
More recently, he accompanied William Foulke and Four-Seven to a mysterious temple, having been sucked into the center of the sun by a shockwave generated by a reaction caused by William's artifact. There, after Tal accidentally ransacked someone's vacation home, they uncovered the secret behind the artifact, which acted as the key to a gate between realities. The trio returned to Blazing Umbra unharmed, although Tal did make an attempt to desert Solas Tempus in order to return home to the GMG.
Following the first mission to the Temple, Tal was almost the victim of a Nomad infection, having been ambushed in his room by an incubi that was lurking in the station's vents. Thanks to action by his AI, he was able to break free of the psychological hold it had on him and killed it using his suppressed PDW.
He was once again present during the second expedition to the Temple, accompanying Admiral Thomas, Commander Yasei, and Will. There, they met the owners of the temple, who explained their predicament to the party after they were ambushed by the secret organization Onyx. Tal killed several with his SCAR-H CQC carbine before using it as a makeshift melee weapon by throwing it at a charging operative, allowing him to gain the upper hand and get his knife out.
During the psionic field incidents, he was called to assist in controlling riots on Umbral Shipyard, where he and a security team were eventually able to pacify the crowds. Moving to the residential district, they were again ambushed by Onyx agents, fighting it out briefly before gaining the upper hand and clearing them from the shipyards. Following this, Tal noticed a shuttle depart from the shipyards, heading to the gas giant Schatten IV. Notifying Will, the pair took a shuttle and conducted a series of scans of the planet's atmosphere, returning to Blazing Umbra to process the new information before participating in the raiding party that ultimately destroyed the Onyx installation, getting shot in the chest in the process and losing both his armor plate and his trusty FWG-5 pistol, losing another one of the few objects he kept from his time in Sirius.
He later participated in the hunt for and boarding of the Victory-class Star Destroyer Stardust, after CAP pilot Alema was abducted by marauding Imperial forces. Onboard the Stardust, he led a squad of 12 marines, along with assistance from Dalton Stone and the Type II Combat Systems Computer's new android body, as part of Alpha squad, distracting Imperial marines long enough for a second team to find and extract Alema. The Stardust was destroyed in the confrontation, after both squads successfully evacuated. His squad suffered one wounded and five dead in the assault.
Tal returned to Sirius in September of 2381, by means of the Janus Station supergate, taking with him his Liberator and both remaining Sirian firearms. Upon arrival, he was detected by Buffalo Base, which deployed several fighters to intercept. After unsuccessfully attempting to down the nimble light fighter, a Scylla destroyer was dispatched from the Philadelphia Debris Field to engage, using 4 cruise missiles to destroy Tal's Liberator. His pod was tractored into the cargo hold, and the Scylla made for Rochester base in an attempt to sell off the "cop" to the Maltese as a slave.
Naturally, he escaped by hijacking a freighter docked on the destroyer, killing 5 men with his pod door, 3 with his PDW, 9 with a captured laser pistol, and 3 with a commandeered flechette rifle in the process. Once he was home free, he escaped north to the Colorado system, and onto Kepler, where his calf wound, caused by a frangible depleted uranium flechette round, was treated by the Zoners on Ames Research Station.
Over the next 9 months, Tal journeyed to Sigma 19, where he found out that Namura's Guildmaster council was disbanded and taken over by the Yukari family, a group of settlers raised on Planet Honshu and Miura. In their purge of "spacers", personnel who were foreign-born or born and raised on the various gas miners in Sigma space, Tal and his squadron were discharged and disbanded. Sent home to Manhattan, Tal began to dig deeper into the new Guild leadership, until he found that the then-current Guildmaster had deposed Namura's temporary replacement by means of assassination, using an elaborate cover story to mask her tracks. With this knowledge in mind, Tal set out to track down Namura's whereabouts, despite the fact that he'd been missing for months by then, and eventually got lead that he was being moved from one Outcast base to another, having been ambushed, captured, and forced into slavery in the far Omicron systems.
In Tau-23, he intercepted the Outcast freighter carrying a full hold of slaves, using the superior firepower of [i]Cruel Summer[/i], his customized Scimitar light fighter, to disable the ship. He then boarded it and killed the crew using a reproduction M1 Garand firing .30-06 high-explosive incendiary rounds, pocketing a gold chain and a relic trophy handgun along the way. He was shot once by a pistol round, although it failed to penetrate his body armor and he quickly dispatched the foe, eventually rescuing Namura and towing the crippled freighter to Java station, where the slaves were picked up by IMG miners.
With Namura freed, Tal accompanied him to Sigma-59, where they confronted the incumbent Guildmaster, Kara Yukari, with the assistance of the resurgent 2nd Interceptor Division which had refounded under independent Iejima station's flag. In the ensuing battle, Tal killed Kara Yukari and her associates on Niigata Star City with his Garand, ending the brief GMG civil war and forcing the rest of the Yukari family into hiding. For the next two months, he roamed Sirius, digging the remaining Yukari family members out of hiding and executing them under Keiji Namura's direct orders. After tying up the final loose end, he was allowed to retire from the GMG with a significant sum of money, as well as the Guildmaster's blessings, but not before the Yukari family and Outcasts had actually put a bounty on his head. On his way back to Manhattan from Gas Miner Ogashawa, he took a stop at Barrier Gate Station, where he was jumped by a band of Outcasts and unlawful mercenaries. Shot 3 times with frangible flechettes and with his fighter heavily damaged despite taking out one of the hostile fighters, Tal conducted an emergency recall back to Blazing Umbra, where he was rescued and treated of his wounds.
Return to Blazing Umbra
Ultimately, due to circumstances back in Sirius, he opted to return to Schatten while under fire during an ambush by Outcast hunters. After the pursuing ships were dispatched and driven away by station security forces, Tal was reinstated into TEMPCOM and resumed service with Solas Tempus. He was present during the capture of Nimbus Station and the destruction of Blazing Umbra station, after the latter of which he was recruited into SPECCOM and assigned to Cell #4783, callsign Dagger, tasked primarily with kill or capture mission. Here, he conducted numerous raids and operations against Onyx or suspected Onyx assets and affiliates, garnering a reputation for effectiveness and his unofficial “no prisoners” policy. Over a two year deployment period, he was offered a battlefield commission and eventually was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Command of Cell #4783 was passed to him on June 9, 2382, and he continued to serve as section leader until early 2384, when the cell was reassigned to Nimbus Station as part of their deployment cycle.
During a major Onyx assault on Schatten, Tal assumed command of the experimental Pereh missile carrier, a small frigate carrying twelve highly-destructive variable-yield ALR-X missiles. In utilizing these missiles, he was able to destroy several enemy capital ships, including a Super Star Destroyer, and rout the attacking forces, but damaged or destroyed several Solas Tempus facilities and ships in the process. With an overall combined casualty count well into the hundreds of thousands during this one brief engagement, Tal was immediately suspended from service, pending trial. Knowing that life imprisonment or exile awaited him, he enlisted the aide of Nine to rescue Admiral Lance Thomas, who’d gone missing after the attack, from a secret holding facility, and in doing so, revealed a conspiracy in which an imposter Admiral Sal D’Amico was revealed to have replaced the true one during a temporal incursion.
Following the incident, Tal was granted a pardon and allowed to resume service after extensive psychological evaluations and counseling.
In early 2384, Tal, acting as a representative of SPECCOM, accompanied a team of elite temporal operatives on a mission to stop an infinity wave from destroying the timeline. Deploying from the Lilith, the team’s mission is to prevent Onyx from destroying Sol with a trilithium device, and to recover any data they could as to the origins of the device. Eventually succeeding in their mission, Tal returned to Nimbus, where the station was soon contacted by Starbase Pandora and brought back to the present.
Clothing and Equipment
Tal's combat attire consists of and is built around the Modular Reinforced Insulated Sheath Armor system. In combat, he wears all three layers, along with the "platehead" helmet, and has a customized chest rig for use with the Type 21.
Tal's normal shirt consists of a custom Blue Team synthetic long-sleeved combat shirt incorporating Ageira Technologies' proprietary synthetic fabric, the same kind found in the ubiquitous Libertonian Marine BDU, along with a flexible nano-composite armor layer derived from that of the Class 1D Body Armor. The shirt is flame-resistant and incredibly durable, owing to the treatment of the fabric and the armor padding underneath. Adding an armor layer was a recent modification by him, after sustaining multiple shrapnel wounds onboard the VSD Stardust, and while it reduces user comfort and adds some weight to the shirt, the added degree of extremity protection (shoulders and arms) from hostile fire more than makes up for it.
Previously, he had a wide variety of different camouflage-colored shirts in his wardrobe, although he has since standardized them to plain black sleeves with a gray-ish chest. This matches Solas Tempus Uniform regulations, as well as provides a decent degree of camouflage in most environments. However, he does keep a few shirts in flat white for the snowy, mountainous regions of Soteria, should he ever fight there.
As a heritage item, originally authorized by the Libertonian Marine Corps as a tradition that he carried over to his service with Solas Tempus, Tal wears two IR black-on-white 50-star US flag patches, one on each sleeve. These have the side effect of acting as an identification method, as they glow brightly when viewed through night vision equipment, although they may lead to misunderstandings with those more familiar with the 2000s-era United States.
Tal’s gloves of choice are specialized tan Gas Miners Guild pilot gloves, which feature a flame-resistant Nomex construction along with aluminized carbon-x layers on the palm to reduce heat transfer. The inside of the fingers and part of the upper palm are covered in Keratan leather for a better grip when piloting a fighter, as well as providing a small degree of abrasion protection. Along the knuckle is a molded polycarbonate handguard, covered in a layer of digital leather, perfect for clocking someone in the face.
For legwear, Tal has several pairs of “assault pants”, which were originally envisioned as a low-profile, no-compromise, dedicated assault uniform pant for Solas Tempus Temporal Operatives. These are typically aggressively cut for maximum mobility, with padded waistbands for a snug fit and stretchable knee and lower back panels for comfort. These pants have 10 pockets along the legs and buttocks, along with cutouts on the knees for use with removable lightweight kneepads. They incorporate the same synthetic fabric and nano-composite armor layer as his combat shirt.
Similar to his shirts, he previously had a large wardrobes of specialized camouflage pants like these, before switching to a standard black color to comply with Solas Tempus regulations. For snowy areas, he has a single pair of plain white combat pants.
Unlike most of the pilots in his squadron, he wore a pair of tan Ageira Technologies Light Assault Boots when in the cockpit of his interceptor, just in case he’d ever be separated from his ship and forced to survive on some desolate planet in the Sigma systems. Weighing little more than 14 ounces, they provide plush shock absorption and ventilation thanks to the synthetic outsole, midsole, and upper ankle materials, along with a set of lockable rugged nylon laces.
He keeps a pair of gold-framed aviators on him while he’s on the station, solely to make shitty jokes around William Foulke and put them on to act all smug afterwards.
Following Tal's acquisition of Siegfried, he found that her deployed combat form drained too much of his own energy to allow him to operate heavy weaponry, including the Ithaca 37, Mateba Autorevolver, and Mark 1 and Mark 2 railguns. His largest weapon in-inventory is the 6x28mm Caseless Mark 15 Block 2 rifle, and he is currently exploring alternate firepower options.
Mark 15 Mod. 2 Adaptive Combat Rifle
- "It always comes down to the infantryman and his rifle."
The Mark 15 Adaptive Rifle System is a compact, magazine-fed, open bolt, electronic impulse, radial-delayed blowback-operated select-fire rifle employing a high-velocity 6mm caseless round. While similar in design to the PDW-30/C, the Mark 15, or the XV-15, is a rifle originally produced by Ageira Technologies that was adopted for service with select TACCOM and SPECCOM personnel in early 2384.
Following the cancellation of the Mark 24 rifle program, Solas Tempus began issuing modifications for existing stocks of Mark 15 rifles as a stopgap solution to a perceived need for a long range-oriented battle rifle system, due to the system's high-velocity ammunition and ergonomics. Chief among these were new, longer barrels with lengths between 14.5 inches and 22 inches, extending effective range by several hundred meters depending on barrel length. A new type of open-tipped match ammunition was introduced parallel to the modifications, which offers better performance at more extreme ranges.
Tal was first issued the 20-inch experimental barrel, with provisions for a quick-detach suppressor with a length of roughly 7 inches. Realizing that his assignment on Nimbus would rarely see a situation in which he'd need to use a highly accurized long-range rifle for it's intended purpose, he dialed back the barrel length once his initial evaluation period had ended, to a more CQC-manageable SPECCOM-standard length of 14.5 inches. For optics, he utilizes a quick-detach cantilever scope mount with a stripped down 1-8x low-power variable optic. A pair of backup iron sights allow him to stay in the fight if the scope is damaged beyond use.
The optic is hooked up to a dual pressure pad switch, which also serves as a transmitter for the combination IR illuminator and target detector. A miniaturized ultrasound scanner is built into the scope, which projects forwards in a 90-degree arc and picks out moving targets from a still background out to 200 meters. The range of the scanner typically varies based on environment, and in tight, confined spaces with significant clutter, range is reduced below 20 meters. The IR illuminator provides target illumination, a laser designator, and a visible aiming laser, with a small exographic sensor array attached to the left side. Similar to the TR-240 kit, this significantly miniaturized version has a much shorter range than the full device, but can still pick out targets hiding behind cover or waiting in ambush and relay their approximate position to the operator, at the cost of visual clutter and mental fatigue after prolonged use.
Attached to the underbarrel is a bipod. With a standard magazine capacity of 40 rounds and an automatic fire mode, Tal's Mark 15 can easily act as a light support weapon in a pinch.
Detroit Munitions FWG-5
The Detroit Munitions FWG-5 "Featherweight" (Free-electron Weapon, General-purpose, Mark 5 Mod. 0) is a customized laser pistol produced in limited quantities by the Detroit Munitions arms company, based off of the successful FWG-series of directed energy weapons. Owing to its name, the 5-model is a traditional free-electron laser that focuses amplified light in order to damage targets via heating materials to melting temperatures, though as with all traditional laser weaponry, the effective range and firepower are affected wildly by environmental conditions. Nonetheless, it remains a popular duty and carry weapon, especially in the Edge Worlds amongst Freelancers looking for a lightweight, if not long, sidearm that is highly effective at close ranges.
The FWG series is notable for their reinforced polymer frames, capable of withstanding heat from the prolonged discharge of a directed energy weapon without any deformations and allowing for a much lighter weapon overall. While normally plated entirely in a decorative nickel alloy, the Featherweight model has removed most of the coating aside from some essential accents to reduce weight, an overall theme mimicked in modifications such as the indentations along the upper around non-critical components. A modified removable "double-stacked" heatsink unit, accessible and vented to open air via a traditional release button on the grip, provides a 40% weight reduction over the stock heatsink while retaining 90% cooling efficiency. Power for the actual laser is provided via a small, highly-efficient power cell in the rear of the weapon, which can be accessed and replaced by pressing two recessed push-buttons on the sides. Overall, the Featherweight model is lighter, better balanced, and more pointable than the stock FWG-5, though slightly less durable and heat-efficient.
Fire control is manipulated via a recessed knob located forward of the trigger guard, which allows visible/non-visible, continuous beam or pulse, and rate of fire control from 200 to 1200 RPM. There is no manual safety, with Detroit Munitions opting for a trigger safety that only actuates off of a specific, firm finger movement. Depressing the safety lever "activates" the weapon, while depressing the trigger gives the command to fire.
Tal's personal example is equipped with an additional beam-focusing diode, a compact weaponlight, and a slide-mounted closed-emitter LED reflex collimator sight, commonly referred to by both him and members of his team as a "Roland Special".
Ships - Series CX "Scimitar" Border Worlds Light Fighter
- "It may be classified as a light fighter, but there is nothing light about this ship. "
- —Border Worlds Shipyards Advertisement
Tal's original tool of destruction is a Series CX Scimitar light fighter named Cruel Summer, bought secondhand from a dealer on Planet Los Angeles. Following his return from Sirius, he has replaced the written-off Karasu fighter with the more versatile Scimitar.
It has provisions for five weapons and one cruise disruptor or missile launcher, with eleven hardpoint pylons under the wings and fuselage for mounting external or auxiliary weapons. Like most other Freelancer fighters, it has provisions for a mine dropper and all-aspect countermeasure systems.
Envisioned as a sturdy multirole fighter designed for taking on the rigors of unexplored deep space, the Scimitar proves adept at most mission types, from exploration to close air support. While classified as a light fighter, it's more akin in size, armor, and power rating to a heavy fighter, with armament to match: 5 forward-facing guns, compared to 3 or 4 for most other light fighters. It accommodates the Class 6 weapon doctrine well - energy-hungry weapons with medium-high refire rates doing disproportionately high damage when compared to other weaponry.
It has two large inverted wings, canted 45-degrees forwards, with intakes for the single engine at the roots. The wings house electronics, pylons, and two lift fan ducts, which blow air in support of the modified VTOL system. There is one high-efficiency plasma engine mounted at the rear of the craft, feeding off of refined H-Fuel. The engine exhaust nozzle is tipped with a 3D thrust vectoring nozzle with a maximum range of movement of +-35 degrees in any direction, while the nose is tipped with recessed 360 degree maneuvering thrusters in order to achieve and sustain angles of attack of up to 76.39 degrees. Additionally, the engine is capable of pitching down up to -105 degrees, in accordance with the VTOL system's requirements. There are no vertical or horizontal stabilizers, and the craft relies on small thruster nozzles to compensate.
Cruel Summer is registered in Liberty as POI998 with the serial number 14-009, and the ship has been with Tal for over 7 years now, facing extensive modification along the way. The first of his distinctive modifications involved caging off a section of the cargo bay for re-purposing as a living area, featuring a small metal cot, a folding table attached to the wall, and storage drawers underneath the bed. A small bathroom with shower, toilet, and sink is placed across the small hall, which leads back up to the cockpit. These modifications were necessary considering that Tal grew more and more distant from his family prior to and during his enlistment, and as such he had nowhere to stay during downtime.
The second of the modifications were two navigation lights, one red and one green, placed on the wingtips of his ship. These help to alert other ships of his presence and lower the risk of collision.
The third of his modifications involved getting a lift fan installed and hooked up to his ship's stock engine, allowing him to conduct vertical takeoffs and landings. While completely unnecessary with the inclusion of stock vertical thrusters, he purchased the modifications anyways to better distinguish himself. This VTOL system was used once on Planet Nauru, where the jet exhaust from his engine kicked up sand hard enough that it chipped paint off of a nearby parked Anki freighter.
The last of his modifications so far are mainly cosmetic, as he got his stock engine swapped out for an HN-series light fighter plasma engine. The new engine's longer exhaust proves to be a hazard when used in conjunction with VTOL mode, as it has been shown to melt some older-model launchpads on Manhattan.
Cruel Summer prior to refit was armed with 4 Garand VI tachyon cannons and 1 CP-L Mark 1 Mod. 0 Advanced Debilitator pulse cannons, with iridium armor struts (Universal, Level VIII) in the cargo bay. The shield array, which remains unchanged, is tougher than most light fighter or even heavy fighter shields, with a Class 10 molecular-type array that repulses projectiles by manipulating magnetic forces.
In mid-2384, Cruel Summer was modified to become Solas Tempus R&D's own first Low Atmosphere Testbed Vehicle (LATV). Given the designation Mark C-X, the ship was given a facelift, receiving a new, larger wing kit, moving nose strakes, prominent leading-edge extensions, and a slight fuselage extension. The original engine was replaced with a smaller, more efficient plasma impulse engine designed for high-performance light shuttles, losing the VTOL system in the process. Onboard living arrangements and most of the cargo bay was replaced with a large ammunition storage compartment, fitted with blowout panels in event of cookoff, and the gimbal-mount hardpoints were replaced with fixed weaponry. Two Type XI phaser emitters are embedded in the wing roots, while a quartet of experimental Mark 23 high-velocity 25mm cannons (derived from the Mark 22 Heavy Machine Gun) were mounted behind the nosecone, within the extended fuselage. The original aim of the project was to test modifications for more efficient in-atmosphere performance, increasing the maximum sustained angle-of-attack from 76 degrees to roughly 87 degrees.
Considered a success, Cruel Summer was given a new, novel weapons loadout for testing, relying on heavyweight 25mm depleted-uranium projectiles fired by it's four Mark 23 cannons to bypass enemy shields entirely and hit crucial components. The concept revolved mostly around fast-paced, close-in in-atmosphere combat, where the complex, delicate small craft used by most of Solas Tempus' adversaries could easily be disabled by crippling flight control surfaces, internal power, or engines. Each cannon was capable of an electronically-boosted cyclic rate of fire of 1,500 RPM, and the array is arranged to stagger-fire in pairs to maximize target saturation. The high throw-weight of the cannons, coupled with the high combined rate of fire, were designed to maximize damage in the short engagement windows present in high-altitude dogfights between aerospace fighters.
To extend range, a warp-capable jump ring that can attach to the fighter is in the works.
General Characteristics (Mark C-X Scimitar-Class High-Alpha Modification)
- Crew: 1
- Length: 40.4 ft (12.3 m)
- Wingspan: 40.4 ft (12.3 m)
- Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
- Wing area: 410 ft² (38 m²)
- Airfoil: Root: NACA 65A005 mod., Tip: NACA 65A003.5 mod.
- Empty Weight: 22,600 lb (10,251 kg)
- Loaded Weight: 38,500 lb (17,463 kg)
- Maximum Takeoff Weight: ~100,000 lb (45,359 kg)
- Powerplant: 1x Light Shuttle-Class Plasma Impulse Engine
- Maximum Speed: In excess of Warp 0.6
- Range: ∞ (pilot-limited)
- Service Ceiling: ∞
- Rate of Climb: 78,740 ft/min (400 m/s) in Atmosphere
- Wing Loading: 55.121 lb/ft² (269.124 kg/m²)
- Thrust to Weight: in excess of 3.5 (full combat load) in Atmosphere
- Maximum g-load: +25.0 g
- 4x Type IX Phaser Emitters
- Auxiliary Hardpoints: 11 total: 2× wingtips, 6× under-wing, and 3× under-fuselage pylon stations with a capacity of up to 45,000 lb (20,411 kg) of stores
- Any combination of up to 70 microtorpedoes in external pods
- Mine Droppers
- 1x MX-17A Nuclear Mine Dropper with 50 modified Transphasic mines
- 1x Ageira Technologies SUU-15A/A "Fortress" All-Aspect Chaff Launcher System (6 Launchers) OR
- 1x AN/ALQ-131 or AN/ALQ-184 Electronic Countermeasure Pod OR
- 1x Fighter Light Cloaking Device OR
- 1x targeting pod
- Up to 7x 480 U.S. gal (1800 L) H-Fuel tanks
- Ageria Technologies AN/APG-98A Advanced Cargo Scanner system
- Ageira Technologies AN/ALQ-166 self-protection jammer pod OR Ageira Technologies AN/ALQ-203(V)12 integrated defensive electronic countermeasures system
- Ageira Technologies AN/ALE-50 or Deep Space Engineering AN/ALE-55 towed decoy
- Ageira Technologies AN/ALR-89(V)6 Radar Warning Receiver
- Ageira Technologies MIDS Datalink Transceiver
- Ageira Technologies SM-e2 Class 10 "Advanced Barrier" Molecular Shield Array
- Type VIII Armor Upgrade