Level 4Crusader
By Jeremy Barnhill

Thunk-thunk-thunk. The staccato thumping from the boots of Knight Commandant Jaris reverberated down the marble-lined hallway, announcing his presence to the already assembled technicians that were awaiting his arrival. They stood at attention; their stark white coats contrasted drastically with the Knight Commandant's dress uniform.

Jaris approached the gathered technicians, who had just moved from the computer console they were gathered around before his arrival. The expressions on their faces were easy to read, and Jaris assumed the prototype had performed as expected during the simulated trials.

"Sorry to keep you waiting gentlemen, I had a prior engagement that ran longer than expected. What do you have for me?"

Reaching out with his left hand, he grabbed the clipboard that Senior Technician Cristobal Forma held out for him. The data on the clipboard supplied Jaris with a lot of technical and schematic data from the tests that were performed on the prototype earlier that morning.

"The test went as expected, Knight Commandant. The prototype performed amazingly well under fire. The UA-36 repair system is an exceptional piece of hardware; it actually recycles the excess nano-foam via a series of ducts and intakes and restores it into the repair system. This makes the prototype very rugged and allows it to remain in the field longer than any other CAV currently produced." Senior Technician Forma reported.

Forma waited for a response from the Knight Commandant, but the only acknowledgement from the Knight Commandant was a stern stare. The senior technician then continued his report, obviously nervous at the type of response he had received.

"When we add in the newly developed Watchdog targeting computer we can effectively change the role of the prototype to a heavy Recon/ESM CAV. As you know, the Watchdog system is able to accurately track several hundred targets simultaneously. In simulations we deployed the prototype as the lead element in deep penetration missions into the enemy's rear. From there we accurately tracked enemy movements as well as called down extremely accurate support fire from mobile artillery batteries or orbiting spacecraft."

Flipping the pages in the report he was handed, the Knight Commandant asked without looking up from the reports, "The data from the computer simulations is included in these reports?"

"Yes Knight Commandant, the detailed report starts on page nine. The prototype was deployed using the style of recon warfare made popular by Ritterlich forces during the first Galaxy War. As you can see, several sections were dropped on a planet occupied by an enemy; the mission was to scout enemy positions and report back the strength of the enemy's defenses. Each of these sections was led by one of the prototypes. The insertions were detected by the opposing force, and several CAV sections were sent to intercept and destroy the invaders. Expecting light recon CAV's, the enemy forces were unprepared for the prototype spearheading the advance of our recon sections. The enemy intercepting force was destroyed with the loss of only 2 invading Panthers. The remaining CAV's went into Guerilla mode and spent two weeks evading patrols and marking enemy positions. The prototype showed exemplary performance in these trials. When the transports arrived weeks later the prototype pilots reported the positions of several military installations and missile defense silos. All the targets were destroyed from orbit, proving the effectiveness of the Watchdog system."

The senior technician paused long enough to examine the copy of the reports he was holding before continuing his dissertation.

"The only negative feedback we got from the test pilots was that the lack of a secondary weapon system often left them feeling outgunned, and unable to finish off a target. We feel that the capabilities of the Watchdog unit far offset this drawback and recommend that we change the weapons load out from the originally specified Gauss Cannons to Particle Bolt Guns. This would give the prototype an unlimited range and lessen its dependence on re-supply, and of course amend its role to that of a heavy recon unit. The test data shows that it would be able to perform in that role extremely well."

Forma looked up nervously at the Knight Commandant, trying to judge his reactions to his team's recommendation for changing the prototypes battlefield role midway through development, surprisingly a wry smile played on his lips.

"Senior Technician Forma, I agree with your summary and evaluation. I can visualize this prototype as the vanguard unit in our crusade to wipe out tyranny and injustice in the galaxy. I will be recommending your team for a Gold Cross for their hard work and dedication to the Templar Nation.

"Now, what would you suggest the prototype be named? We can't call it 'Prototype' when I bring this before the First Knight for his approval."

This time it was Forma who had a smile on his face as he answered the Knight Commandant's question.

"Actually Knight Commandant Jaris, you just said it yourself..."


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