SpecOps Team: Tau Sable
The Tau Sable team is a variable membership unit based around vehicular operations in North America. The unit is in many ways unique as it relies on seemingly retro-tech and the badly decayed and abandoned mass transit systems of the Petroleum Era.
Tau Sable was created during the Second Renaissance, as technology was recovered to the point that intercity and international trade were restored, along with the unintentional and unwanted rise of piracy. The unit was organized to provide armed support and protection for land based vehicles that were unable to rely on aerial units, or were in areas that lacked any air cover.
Sable 1: Appearing as a large cargo vehicle, Sable 1 is a combination assault vehicle and mobile command center. The cab of the vehicle has positions for a driver, a communications officer, and a third recessed seat for a gunnery officer to handle the vehicle's weapon systems. The cargo trailer of the vehicle has a forward section containing the mobile CIC and communications suite, staffed by up to ten operatives, including commanding officers. The rear section has an infantry bay capable of carrying a platoon of regular infantry or a squad of power armor troopers. On occasion, this section can be converted into a drone control pod, a guided weapons pod, or a housing unit for an autonomous trooper.
Sable 1 seldom engages in actual combat other than in defensive rolls. More often than not, it instead serves as a coordination center, and communications hub for area forces.
Sable Scout: The fastest element of Tau Sable, Scout is a high speed A-pod equipped hover vehicle. This allows the vehicle to cross almost any terrain with ease, and reach speeds comparable to conventional helocraft. Scout mounts a target acquisition system, high power sensor array, and a moderate amount of weaponry, typically short range missiles. The vehicle is controlled by a combat limited artificial intelligence (LAI) that is slaved to Sable 1. Sable Scouts are expendable.
A good Tau commander makes regular use of his Scout, but great Tau commanders have Scouts with no combat experience. The data an unnoticed Scout can deliver is more valuable than a few shot up shacks or a burning raider vehicle. Scout autonomous troopers have short service lives as their personality profiles tend to lead towards the adventurous and bold, which doesn't match well with their almost non-existent armor.
Sable Striker: Striker is a pure combat element of the Tau team. Like Scout, Striker is an LAI controlled vehicle slaved to Sable 1, but it has a highly aggressive engagement profile, good weaponry, good speed, and good armor. It doesn't excel in any of those categories, but it's well rounded build and aggro-program allow it to be a fearsome opponent. Strikers are typically armed with short range weaponry.
The Striker unit gained a massive upgrade after the conventional wheeled chassis was replaced with an autonomous trooper. The large robotic unit proved more capable in a fight, and gained the ability to use melee attacks in combat. This would prove invaluable as pirate and bandit forces gained access to black market and scratchbuild power armor and proto-mecha of their own.
Sable Shield: Superficially similar to Striker, Shield is either an LAI controlled drone or an autonomous trooper, but with emphasis on armor and protective engagement profiles. Shields take defensive positions, or will take out enemy units by crashing into them. As the Shields are drone vehicles, they are not limited to the abilities of a human driver, and a Shield vehicle can perform multiple impacts, so long as the drive train and other components remain intact. Shields and Strikers do not work well together
The Shield autonomous troopers are well known to the rural public, as they are to the rural regions what the wojeks are to the arcologies. These steel 'cops' are the most commonly encountered Tau units, as their non-aggression programming makes them the most suited for routine patrols, and non-slaved operations.
Tau Ranger: With the poor condition of the old road system, many areas are simply impassable. The Ranger unit goes around this, and was the first production series autonomous trooper integrated into the Tau Sable organization. While having a high speed wheeled chassis, the AT can engage and move around on foot, allowing it to cross rough terrain with relative ease. Rangers are not the fastest units, but they make up for this by having a good payload of gear and weaponry, as well as a more competent cortex.
Rangers are increasingly common ATs, as they have been adopted into service by environmental recovery organizations, search and rescue agencies, and pathfinder/trailerblazer operations. The unit has seen service in locals as mundane as regional forests and as exotic as the icy moons of the deep solar system.
Tau Gold: also known as a bait-mobile, Tau Gold is a vehicle only LAI controlled drone. The exterior changes as per the mission, but Tau Gold exists for the purpose of drawing attention to itself.
The Bait and Hammer trick is a common one for Tau Sable. The honeypot, Tau Gold, runs in a point position, bringing all the enemies attention to it, typically looking like the biggest and best target in the convoy. When the baddies move in, Gold is heavily armored, and has all sorts of tech countermeasures on it, scrambling radio comms, and deploying anti-personnel systems like acoustic devices. The rest of the team moves in and drops the hammer on them.
At it's height, there were 300 Tau Sable teams, more than half of which were deployed to North America. These forces harried terrorist factions like Amerikka Command, or the lawless wastelanders who held no allegiance other than their own. The original forces were composed of cowboy like drivers and squads of cars. At the height, more than 80% of the forces were composed of Auto-troopers, who proved exceptional at facing the variable forces that different groups could throw at them. The Tau Sable auto-trooper was a match for wasteland striders, or cheap legions of Amerikka Command skeletrons.
After funding was slashed, Tau Sable was reduced to less than 50 teams spread across three continents. Most of the Auto-troopers were mothballed, and are slowly being cannibalized for parts for the still operational units. The decrease in funding has also seen recruiting fall, and what agents are still working are doing so out of a desire for their jobs, and for working with the auto-troopers.
There is a very specific reason behind the cuts, Tau Sable was proving too successful in shutting down Silk Road traffic. Shutting down the Silk road was undercutting the efforts of the Utopia Initiative. The interests behind the Silk Road were quite unhappy about the level of interference the organization was projecting, so they used their influence and undercut them.
7. Manifesto or Creed: Tau Sable's Manifesto is simple, To Serve and Protect.
The organization exists as a mobile para-military law enforcement agency. It's primary purpose is to ensure safe passage, and to fight the spread of banditry and lawlessness that is always pushing at the edges of civilization. This is rather important as there are large sections of even the vaunted Atlantic Federation that are wastelands.
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A useful organisation against hardcore bad guys.