An image flashed on screen - a huge wedge sitting on rollers and a rubber chain. Atop that a hexagonal rotating box, from one facet a long thin tube emerged. Four others featured small barbetts, the lenses for the anti-missile lasers barely visible. On the rear, sixteen hatches for a vertical launch system. Almost as an afterthought, a grenade launcher on top of the hexagon, in its own little turret. The folding slats for stand off detonation, and the convertible like top that hid the upper works from top attack munitions weren't present on this one.
Instructor FFDE-03 snapped his pointer against the wall for emphasis.
"This is one of the most dangerous things you can face on patrol, possibly worse than an annihilator. A gun island. Or to use the - Human - term for it - "Emm-tree-zerro-neen Pow-el Thank"
You can see the dimensions printed in the margins, but that just doesn't do it justice, not until you've seen one. Its Longer than an Ekadie is tall, and weights several times as much. Yet, on open terrain, it is also faster, by at least fifty percent. Of course, in open terrain it doesn't need to outrun an Ekaide - that type three main gun can shatter a carapace at almost any visible distance.
Conversely, it is highly resistant to our weapons. Standard hot light emitters can't burn through anything but ancillary parts like rollers or optics, and short wave weapons don't seem to penetrate its armor either. Heavy rocket guns can pierce the sides or rear at optimal range - and only optimal range. Too close or too far, it won't have the energy. The only thing we have that can almost reliably damage it are missiles. Unfortunately, it has numerous systems to resit those - interception hot light emitters, and some sort of exploding boxes that destroy the missile just before impact. We're working on reverse engineering those."
One of the pilots in the back raised its right arms and hummed an interruption melody.
"Combat leader - what is the purpose of these things, where did they come from? Surly the humans had as little way of knowing we would show up as our leaders did."
"That is a good point. The short answer seems to be that the indigenous species are as divided into families and guilds as we are, but did not emigrate to new territory as readily as our defeated groups did. It is a relic from their wars, and as you must note, the geography of this world is very different from home. The land masses are far most contiguous, and often a bit flatter, deserts somewhat more rare. Ground transportation from our point of view isn't efficient - better to use boasts to go around the coast or fliers to go over terrain. Here entire wars could be fought without seeing water.
Actually, you could call this thank thing some kind of land ship. Shooting first with the biggest gun at long range, or having the armor to resit the initial volleys is just like on the water where there is nothing to hide behind.
Which returns me to my original line of discussion. Don't try to engage these in a fair fight. Keep terrain between you and it. Try to pull back and order in air strikes if we can spare any. Collapse structures on it - an encounter carapace is far more mobile and far better at going through narrow or rocky terrain than the human machine. Our power cells seem to last a lot longer than theirs, so if you can keep running, it will give up fairly quickly....
CFGB-4 eyes front - all of them! Are you paying attention?
"Care to tell me how many missiles the unit has?"
"It has access to multiple types of missiles - medium range anti-aircraft and smaller land attack ones. It can carry a mix of them, several of the smaller ones fitting in one launcher - but are unlikely to have all that many due to the current supply situation."
"Do you actually know that - or were you just reading ahead?"
"Can't it be both?"
"I really hate you shokenda types."
"Well you're stuck with us, or at least would be if it wasn't time for the patrols to get ready - looks like you're going to have to cut this briefing short."
"I am the one in charge here. I will decide when the briefing is over! As for the rest of you... this briefing is concluded. Get ready and be safe!"
Two dozen citzens stood up in unison, crossed their arms against their chests, and replied together "From the world to us - then on to greatness!"