Pawnee and Machine Paranoia
One of the cornerstones of the Andromeda council is military paranoia. The sentient machines that run the day to day operations, and decades long plans of the Federation are deeply concerned about fighting and winning a defensive war against an unknown non-terrestrial foe. To this end, the AISCs of the Council have supported military adventurism, boutique hardware and design, research accelerators, and monstrous works like the Castles Avalon, and the continued construction of the Federation Class Battlestars. Some military monitors feel that the firepower and resource advantage of the Federation, along with it alliances with terrestrial powers like the Pacific Rim Coalition, Kingdoms of Scandinavia, and smaller elite powers like New Themyscira give them a massive home court advantage. In space, their dominance over the production of spaceship fuel, and alliances with the Seibertronians and the Five Metal Dragons give them massive offensive capability
Project Pawnee is an answer to the question: What if this isn't enough?
The Pawnee Keeps
The Pawnee Keep is functionally a storage arcology built in space. The basic model is just over a kilometer and a half long, and has a massive amount of internal space. As stations, the Pawnee class keep had a marginal power core, and only enough thrust capability to maintain it's location and trajectory around the Sun. The most important thing about the Pawnee wasn't it's size, or minimal capability, it was their ability to be unnoticed. The outer hull was coated in radar absorbing material, and any heat it generates is eaten by a dimensional heat sink.
The Pawnee is a space cache designed to hold large amounts of war material in a state of near readiness, especially battlemechs, aerospace fighters, and sub-capital warships.
A standard Pawnee can hold a regiment of battlemechs (typically 108-112 machines) a wing of aerospace fighters (36-48) a division of armored vehicles (typically APCs, IFVs, and light and medium tanks, and support vehicles), enough rifles and body armor for a another division worth of infantry, and docking points for the assault ships to carry them.
There is minimal staff operating a Pawnee. The bulk of this staff are composed of synths and other robots, while there is only an incredibly minimal human presence. The average Pawnee has 2 or 3 human staff, and these tend to rotate through periods of suspended animation. This reduces the amount of space the keep needs for food storage and production, as well as allowing it to go for extended periods of no contact and no support. The secrecy of the Pawnees is maintained by the fact that almost nothing ever goes to them after they are fully loaded and supplied.
The human staff have the job of making sure the synths stay on task, which is keeping all of the machines in a state of near readiness. For the most part this is routinely powering each machine up, running it through diagnostic cycles, and cycling all the electric and myomer systems so that they remain in good working order. As upgrades are processed, Pawnee staff will keep the operating systems of the machines up to date, including keeping the L/AI systems in the mechs active and engaged.
There are several Pawnee variants that have been constructed and remain on extremely low power standby.
Medical Annex - this variant is a full medical complex with facilities to house and care for thousands of critical care patients, complete with equipment to facilitate cybernetic augmentation, genetic augmentation, and psychotronic training. It is half hospital, half super-soldier factory.
Fleet Annex - this variant is 50% larger, and has almost zero ground based equipment. Instead, the fleet annex houses assault ships, heavy aerospace craft, sub-capital ships, and the like. These are much larger, and require a higher degree of material support, as they have fuel demands beyond electricity.
Damocles Annex - there are only a few Damocles installations, as they are used to store capital and naval grade weaponry. While many of the weapons housed aboard a Damocles Annex might no longer be cutting edge systems, having large stockpiles of space grade autocannons, naval lasers, plasma and particle cannons, and mountains of anti-ship and anti-city torpedoes cannot be overlooked.
The Pawnee Keeps have served for several decades without incident.
Transit to and from the keeps is typically done via AtFed ghost ships, typically civilian listed medium cargo ships that can take off on long jaunts, blink off radar and be gone for months and show up again without incident. There's a lot of stuff out beyond the belt, and they pay cash and dont ask questions.
It is expected that if the Pawnee's are ever needed, they will be part of the last line of defense, to be activated soon after the serious threat/war is engaged and military systems determine that the active forces will not be sufficient to handle the said threat. The Pawnee caches will activate, and while ships are sent to recover the materiel, the crews of the keeps will go into high gear and bring everything to near readiness. The standard drill allows for a fully engaged Pawnee to transfer its full compliment of machines and gear to ships in less than a 24 hours. The largest bottleneck is that most ships aren't designed to accept mecha as fast as a Pawnee can deliver them.
Projected Uses in the Cosmic Era (speculative)
In the simulated Midway War, a conflict between an alliance of outer system factions against the Federation, along with terrestrial foes joining said alliance, the Pawnee keeps turn into anchorages and jumping off points for relatively small and fast ships to reach the keeps, gear up from their surplus, and use the gear to launch counter assaults against outer system targets. Thus, terrestrial forces are not required to leave Earth undefended, and the Midway alliance is left facing two different military forces, one somewhat dated but completely cycled out of their military logs, and one that is cutting edge.
In the simulated Solar Invasion, an outside alien foe assaults the solar system, and the Pawnees form secret bases to strike from against the foes. The mecha and aerospace assets allow for a bolstered defense, while the Damocles allow for rapid rearming and repairing of ships damaged or depleted fighting the foe.
Author's Inspiration - the idea I had was of a giant military storage facility isolated in deep space. There is one guy who patrols the place and does the routine maintenance, and his main source of company is the onboard AI, and the lesser L/AI systems in the machines, where he does the diagnostics, but carries on conversations with them, maybe even developing relationships with said machine intelligences. It is so very loney.
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