Full Item Description
A sports car amongst tanks, the Scorpio boasts a smooth, flat design with prominent front and hind turbine exhausts, a translucent dome for the commander, and several arrays of targeting and communications equipment.
Its low prow with spotlights emerging from the hull and aft fins emphasizes the appearance of a speedster civilian vehicle. Any pretense at being someone’s fancy recreational hovercar is blown when one observes the (in comparison) huge particle projector cannon which is as long as the hovertank itself, mounted on a rotating platform, its lethal curves enhanced by the radiation warning signs and baleful blue glow when it is charging.
Light Mech battalions and even many tanks find it hard to fit decisive, armor-shredding system-frying weapon systems into their payload, struggling when they encounter the lumbering heavy-weight defense forces. So it was with the ascending Aerian Republic when it turned the tables on it aggressive neighbor, the Dominion of Taunar, and began to assault its worlds.
While the Dominion’s forces were burdened with a feudal and squabbling leadership, contradicting orders and flawed economy, the invaders faced problems of logistics and insufficient firepower to counter the regiments of colossal war machines stationed on key worlds.
Before the atack could lose impetus, the Scorpio was fielded by the Aerians, and gave them the edge they needed, for long enough to break through, take Taunar and end the war.
Intended as a stopgap measure, the Scorpio was an all-or-nothing single-minded design with the sole purpose of hunting down Mechs and heavy tanks; still, its success and flashy design earned much public acclaim, and Defiance Industries sold several thousand even after the war was over, due to overwhelmingly good PR.
At the present, one frequently sees a Scorpio tank as a heavy weapon platform in poorer armies, or as a fast strike unit in invasion forces.
Lightning fast, the Scorpio can travel at speeds approaching 300 km/h over level terrain, water and gentle hills; yet is exceedingly difficult to drive. It tends to kill rookie crews without mercy when it exceeds 200 km/h, for only a true wizard can pilot it then. Often, crashes are so sudden that the crewmen have no time to eject. The fact that the cannon changes the hovercraft’s aerodynamic properties when it is rotated adds to the difficulty of driving the thing. Even veteran drivers rarely utter the word ‘hovercraft’ without adding a juicy pejorative to it.
Being a hovercraft, the Scorpio has to be adjusted for the atmospheric density and gravitation; an unadjusted hovertank will prove to be an untamable stallion.
The overly sensitive throttle makes many drivers go barefoot, to have a better feel for the pedal; later models have been modified with three manually adjustable throttle settings for convenience. While the latest Scorpios have a VR-assisted driving system, plugging into the pilot’s neural pathways directly, most are driven the old-fashioned way, by hand. Besides, the VR makes the vehicle overly expensive, which is not a tempting option for a hovercraft that tends to scatter its pieces over a swathe of ten kilometers when it crashes.
Sacrificing everything for firepower and speed, the Scorpio is pitifully armored; also, enemies familiar with the tank make it a prime target. Some soldiers claim Scorpio tanks blow up in the most beautiful fireballs when they are hit; the crewmen don’t find it too amusing.
Even at medium to long ranges, the intense particle beam of the Hammer 4K projector cannon is able to vaporize even fortification-grade plating on a direct hit; lighter Mechs lose head and limb to the cannon’s hits, while even assault class behemoths begin to spew parts after a dozen strikes.
This brings us to an important fact: the vehicle’s energy cells can sustain but six shots before a charging period of three hours per cell is required. Most Scorpio commanders do not sit around for so long, hurrying back to the base instead to load up with fresh cells. An experienced tech team is able to fit a new set of six in slightly less than nine minutes, at least that is the standing record.
Besides the sole cannon, the Scorpio bears but two pintle-mounted medium machine guns against infantry.
The Scorpio excels at sudden strikes, and is able to intervene on different parts of the front, as needed. Operating in squadrons, the preferred tactic is to drive in, guns blazing, to bring down the desired target, and to be gone before a response can be mustered. The hovertank operates best with accurate intel and constant guidance from above, to let it avoid undesirable targets and dangerous spots.
Given its nature, it takes a certain kind of madman to crew the Scorpio - brash, brave, and craving adrenaline so much that he is willing to overlook the fact that there are very few venerable Scorpio tanks and veteran crews. They see themselves as the modern cavalry, brave lancers that charge in to pierce the heart of the dragon, heedless of the danger and the odds. They paint their craft excessively with phoenix, flame and skull motifs, or whatever else looks cool.
The sane elements of the armed forces are more than content to let the jockeys have their glory, and pick up the comm to ‘call down the Hammer’ when it’s needed.
An infantry grunt summed it up nicely:
"I love to fight beside a Scorpio yet dread having to fight in one."
Meanwhile, Mech pilots hate the thing with a passion, understandably so. More than one pilot has died to a headshot from a hovertank that wasn’t there a second ago. A wise mechwarrior will set his battlefield alertness systems to recognize the distinctive shape of the Scorpio and alert him to their presence without delay. While the small tank does not have strong emissions when the main weapon is powered down, a battle-ready hovertank shows a noticeable energy peak.
Gatling lasers, autocannons and spread out missile volleys are the preferred tools to bring down a Scorpio; guided missiles have a notoriously hard time locking on to the vehicle.
A several times more expensive variant features an antigrav generator, and is suited for the use on airless worlds; it is somewhat less difficult to steer, yet the engine needs significantly more power.
The Harasser modification holds a miniature compact fusion plant instead of the cells, to supply the particle projector for longer, without having to replace or recharge cells. What looks like a great design on paper runs afoul of the reactor’s instability and tendency to overheat rapidly; even two shots fired in quick succession have a disturbingly high chance to make tank and crew disappear in a flash of light.
The Firebird variant replaces the long range Hammer 4K cannon with twin Plasma Cannons with a drastically shorter range, yet comparable punch; the cannons can also be used as high-powered flamethrowers. This mod has become a favorite terror weapon of several heavy-handed backwater regimes.
As if the Scorpio was not dangerous enough, the Venom upgrade adds jump boosters to the vehicle, allowing it to leap over walls, chasms and the like; most crews avoid the red ‘JUMP’ button like the plague.
Finally, the Duelist variant mounts rapid fire gatling lasers, and is used to rapidly intervene and dispose of aircraft or light tanks - like the Scorpio.