Demo Day! Exotroopers FAQ
For today, here’s a couple excerpts from “XX Exotroopers” in progress. One of the things I have been doing for this project is fleshing out or simply writing down details of the finbacks’ technology, tactics and philosophy that in large part were always in my mind, but that I never took the time to lay down explicitly. So, here goes:
“Here,” Zed announced sonorously, “are the doctrines of the exotroopers corps.
“First: The best way to stop a bullet is to shoot the other man first:
“Second: The best way to cover your rear end is with someone else’s front.
“Third: Practice makes perfect, or perfectly imperfect.
“Fourth: If you had to fight your way in, it is time to get out.
“Fifth: Even a magic bullet is still one bullet.
“Sixth: A bad can opener is better than a good Swiss army knife.
“Seventh: If all your eggs are bad, they might as well be in one basket.
“Eighth: Never bring a gun to a tank fight.
“Ninth: Given effective range, an axe beats anything.
“Tenth: Never go into battle with someone who cannot carry you back.”
The Flea and the Tick were unmistakably nervous as they stepped out into the center of the common room in full armor. The three women candidates were seated on folding chairs. “It just so happens,” Martinez announced, “that we have in here today our two most experienced hercegs. Both of these men have literally logged more time in combat than any other member of the corps, virtually all of it together. If you have any questions about our technology, weapons and tactics, feel free to ask them now.”
After a moment of silence, Dragon raised her hand. “There’s just one thing I want to know,” she said. “When you’re in all that armor… what do you do to pee?”
The Flea and the Tick looked at each other, clearly uncomfortable notwithstanding the toilet-seat collar around the Tick’s neck. It was the Flea who finally ventured to say, “Do?”
The session went downhill from there. “What do we do when we have to stop tanks?” the Tick repeated rhetorically. “We die. Law of averages, we jebanje die, it’s jebanjetanks!”
“All right, here’s how it works,” the Flea said. “No, you can’t really run faster in an exosuit, because the exo legs are only as long as your legs. We have leg extensions, these stilt things, that let us go really fast just by taking longer steps, but mostly they just left us way up high when everybody’s shooting at us. What you can do if you rig it right is go fast for longer, by letting the suit take some of the load off your muscles. It’s like being able to sprint through a long distance race.”
“The fins are radiators, they give us infrared stealth,” the Tick said. “Ceramic in the armor absorbs infrared radiation, but it can be saturated by heat from our bodies and the suit components. There’s tubing running through the whole suit that collects the heat with radiator fluid, that’s water with some extra chemicals, and then runs it to the fins where it’s dissipated by refrigerants and plain old air flow. The same tubes collect sweat, and yeah, urine, which just goes into the mix. After the first few hours, it’s going to level off at about 60 percent radiator fluid, 40 percent sweat and 10 percent piss.”
Martinez stepped in to answer another question. “The `fins’ are also housings for the suit’s two generators. The hoses running from the fins to the hips are conduits for radiator fluid, hydraulic fluid and even fuel, which is stored primarily behind the breastplate but also in secondary, rubberized tanks. A squire’s exoskeleton has the same basic assemblies, but with a much smaller radiator component. Because of that, and the thinner armor, a squire does not have full stealth capabilities, though under normal conditions our infrared signatures are still less than half that of an unhielded human body.”
“We get our rations through tubes in the mask,” the Flea said. “There’s two tubes, one to drink and one for food. The drink’s water mixed with sugar and electro-stuff, in one big bag in back, and the food’s like tooth paste, it even has a mint flavor, it’s in a couple packs under the shoulder pads. And for anything else, there’s an extra straw…” He demonstrated, unrolling a rubber straw to drink from a liquor bottle.
“If it’s my choice, I only pack one thing, my 3 cm auto grenade launcher,” the Tick said. He pointed to a weapon that, apart from the addition of a stock and pistol grip, was identical to a design fielded by the Soviets. “It takes 30-round drums or belt feed, and we’ve got a few different types of ammo, basic frag, shaped-charge and flechettes. The only other thing I want is the standard wrist launcher for the really close calls: double barrel, 43 mm, always with one smoke and one flechette canister. Kaka for accuracy, but if you really need it, anywhere in their general direction will count. Just give them one dose of phosphorous and a few dozen flechettes, and get out while they’re sorting themselves out.”
“I dunno, I use lotsa different stuff,” the Flea said. “I guess my favorite’s the MG 45. It’s literally practically a hundred years old, something the Nazis built. 8 milimeter, belt feed, 25 rounds per second.”
“What about the Luggage?” the Tick interjected.
“Hey! You said you wouldn’t talk about that if I didn’t…”
“Frankly, the difference in armor between different exoskeleton models and configurations is of minimal importance to survivablility,” Martinez said. “The protection of a standard 311A2 breastplate is equivalent to almost half a meter of homogeneous steel armor. Any weapon capable of penetrating even half that thickness will invariably inflict fatal injuries to the occupant by shock force alone. The greatest value of the armor plating is in fact simply in weighing down the exoskeleton, which improves controllability as well as the ability to absorb such things as explosions, falls, and the recoil of your own weapons.”
The Tick pointed to his collar. “You want to know why I wear this, why don’t you tell me why women wear heels! I just do, isn’t that enough?”