Name: Lara Tannis (Wraith)
Faction: Holy Livonian Empire
Personality: Lara, as the third daughter of a noble house, does not have the poise or social grace that her sisters have spent so much time cultivating, growing up very much as the tomboy of the family. While she tends to be friendly, gregarious, pleasant, she is also generally somewhat more 'forward' than a woman of her station might be expected to be. By the grace of a natural charm, she is at home in most company, although the rules and social mores of her class tend to leave her by turns exasperated, baffled, or flustered. She is very intelligent, observant, compassionate and empathetic, factors that combined with a firm character and steely will have left her with many aspects of a natural leader. She believes strongly in the idea of a greater good and finds the tensions between the Confederacy and the Empire saddening, although, at least at the moment, unavoidable. It is probably not surprising that Lara has a strong sense of duty and loyalty to the Empire and its ideals. She doesn't demonize the Confederacy in her head, as many of her fellow soldiers have found convenient, but she believes the Empire is on the 'right side,' as it were.
Lara enjoys, and collects, songs and stories from anywhere she goes, from legends and myths to 'one that got away' tall tales and personal experiences. She likes to laugh, has a storehouse of bawdy jokes, and will, if given the chance, sing songs and spin tales until the sun comes up. Despite her time in the Navy, she remains refined, though not necessarily courtly unless she has to be. She has what could be called a Puckish sense of humor.
Appearance: Lara is above average height for a woman, but not by much. Her brilliant, starlight-white hair is cut short, almost like a man's, but with just enough length and subtle artistry to highlight the femininity of her face. Her features are more striking than pinup-pretty, with an expression that always seems a little playful or mischievous. Her large, clear eyes are the color of glacier ice and glitter with intelligence, never dull or empty. Her body is lean and strong but not androgynous, with several well-arranged curves should she decide to show them off. Despite the light coloring of her hair, Lara's skin has an olive tone, as though her family were from one of the warmer parts of Regarda. (If you need a real-world visualization, think Spanish, Arabic or Indian.)
When left to her own devices, Lara's fashion tends to be practical and comfortable, but also very well-made and well-tailored. She prefers simplicity over the multi-layered confections of the upper class, but is also very well aware of when what she prefers isn't appropriate. Both of her ears are pierced, though she doesn't have any tattoos or visible scars.
Lara's family are are minor members of the nobility on Regarda, one of the many that supply the Empire's Navy with the necessary materials for their ongoing military buildup. Primarily invested in starship engines, the house has made considerable inroads with the higher echelons of society in the last generation or so, and as such, those who are expected to carry on the family line have quite strict expectations set on them. As not only a daughter, but the third daughter in House Tannis' line of succession, Lara did not have much of an expectation to represent the family in any meaningful way, and as such found herself afforded a certain degree of freedom - or, if one is being less kind, a kind of benign neglect. Always more willful than her sisters, Lara would tear dresses climbing trees, ruin boots that hadn't actually been designed to be waterproof, and in general not behave as a Lady (as spoken by her mother, who could pronounce capital letters) ought to. Still, she rarely did anything publicly embarrassing, and seemed to be involved in precisely the right amount of scandal to keep the family's name interesting without being soiled.
When she turned eighteen, in order to both get her away from the household and to try and have something respectable done with her, Lara's family bought her a commission in the Empire's Navy, where to their surprise she flourished. Finally given an outlet for things that she couldn't do in high society, Lara took to the life quickly, though not to the point of letting it consume her identity. Enrolling in the combat pilot academy, Lara found herself in the mech classes, largely by having not been paying attention while she clicked boxes on the admittance forms. Rather than backpedaling out, however, she decided to stick in the field, in part just to see how things would turn out.
She has become a capable, if not magnificent mech pilot after graduation from the academy, and participated in a number of combat events with mercenary groups, Confederacy agents and, once, even a particularly wealthy private citizen who had cracked under some kind of strain. What she lacks in savoir-faire in combat piloting, Lara has made up in an ability to examine the battlefield and direct others to accomplish tasks as a group. She quickly gets to know people under her command and those of the same rank, and just as quickly figures out what they are going to excel at, and what tasks they should not be assigned for. This has fueled a steady rise in rank, currently as a Commander.
In the last five years, Lara has been assigned a fairly unusual machine to pilot. She found it in an old hangar on a disused part of the base she had been assigned to, the walls patchy with rust. Inside, a number of mechs had apparently been stored, some even with titanic dust sheets over the tops. After reporting the find to her commanding officer, Lara found that the hangar contained the leftovers from a number of research projects, most of which had been mothballed for political, rather than practical, reasons. Many of the specimens inside still functioned, though most had crude, poorly-documented, or outright missing control cockpits. One titanic example loomed at the rear of the storage hangar, its controls barely labeled, but built almost as well as something ready for mass-production.
The machine turned out to be a final testing unit for a kind of walking siege engine, with thick armor plating and vast, though imprecise, firepower. It also contained an unusually advanced communication array, suggesting that it may have been intended for a kind of command-and-control role. It took quite a long time to secure permission to un-mothball the machine - especially since it no longer appeared in the Navy's asset books - but over the following months and years, it has been brought up to combat-ready status, and performed well when deployed.
Magnetic Personality: Lara gets along with people. She likes people. They, in turn, tend to like and respect her. This tends to give her an edge both in command and in personal life. You wouldn't believe the deal she got on her car.
Tactical awareness: Lara has an almost uncanny ability to know who is doing what, where, when, and how they intend to do it, as a running process in her head. From mentally keeping score of what nobles are talking with what servers at a party to keeping track of a dozen minor engagements and their participants in the heat of battle, it's just something she has a knack for. This also includes each individual's capabilities, and the rapid assignment of tasks to those best suited for it, or to identify where resources could be used better.
Not Actually That Good A Pilot - Lara's skill with people does not, necessarily, extend to fine control over the machine she's in charge of. While others may be able to flit around like a dragonfly and perform dazzlingly complex maneuvers to the edge of their mech's performance envelope, Lara's actual combat capability could be described as 'deliberate.' While she is by no means incompetent, there are quite a few direct combatants who outclass her.
Arrogance - Tends to assume that her plan is objectively the best one. She does listen to advice, but in the heat of the moment has a strong tendency to go with what she thought of first, rather that others' suggestions.
Piloting Style: Lara is not a hotrod pilot, and as such tends to be very traditional and conservative in the movement of her own machine. She tends to keep her distance on the field, where the slow movement of her machine's weapons is less of a hindrance and where she can get the widest view, both visually and with instruments, of what's going on. When involved in direct combat, she will tend to find a way to deliver a single debilitating strike rather than spend the effort or finesse to whittle an opponent down. She is most adept at directing others, relaying information and calling for assistance or reinforcement if she is under heavy singular attack. Unsurprisingly, she also tends not to take the field alone; her mech may have tremendous destructive capability but it would quickly turn into a serious liability by itself.
Name of Mecha: Anghammarad
Type of Mecha: Super
Origin of Mecha: Final testing unit of mothballed weapons project (heavily modified)
Appearance of Mecha: A titanic machine on the scale of the Confederate Unganze model, this machine towers over the battlefield. Squat and lumbering, with huge reinforced joints, its carapace almost resembles some kind of monstrous sea creature as with heavy armor plates slide over one another at articulation points. The main body is low and wide as opposed to the traditional humanoid shape, the cockpit nestled in a recess where heavy armored plates can snap over it at a moment's notice. The thick, massive legs are digitigrade, and end in wide, surprisingly articulated feet. Most of the weapon systems are built into the heavily-armored torso, with its two main weapons housed in enormous outboard pods, connected to the rest of the body by short, stubby arms almost as massive as the legs. It is painted largely in bluish-grey, with highlights of dark blue, its hull number and name marked out in white block letters.
Biography of Mecha: Unlike the general-purpose mechs being designed at the time, the project that would eventually produce Anghammarad opted for a very focused approach. Adopting the idea that a jack of all trades is a master of none, the original plan had been to develop a series of specialized flight suits, each with their own specialization, and try to get the Navy to adopt that design ethos going forward. To that end, the company, flush with cash from excited investors, decided that making as large an impression as they could would be to their advantage. The design teams decided on a super-heavy mech that could, with appropriate support, lay siege to hardened targets, demolish soft targets, or be used as an element of a crippling surprise attack. It would function as a battlefield command post, with impregnable armor, heavy weapons and the kind of complex communication system to allow its pilot to coordinate and communicate with its support and allies.
Stretching their budgets to the absolute limit, the prototype frame, with weapons normally reserved for planetary-defense, successfully demonstrated the platform's viability and capacity to withstand firing its huge weapon complement to the Navy's admirals and decision makers. Funded now by the Empire's own government, the project went forward through several other development phases. Due to the phenomenal cost of building the original prototype, instead of a series of iterated designs, the original design was simply modified over and over again, in an near-constant state of teardown or rebuild.
While the tests continued successfully, and the project began to pick up speed in the Navy's circles, unfortunate political rumors began to surround the company. The CEO had embezzled funds, the chief weapons researcher had slept with a nobleman's wife. It all came to a head when, due to a brief but significant mismanagement, the targeting systems on the final test machine identified a runway full of the Empire's fighters as the test target, and the machine's pilot opened fire. The accident cost the lives of several Navy maintenance personnel, and two pilots. Shortly thereafter, the project found its funding from the Navy cut, and few investors willing to fund any improvements. Virtually overnight, the project found itself shuttered, and the prototype, formally the property of the Navy, was trundled off into the equivalent of the junk drawer.
Almost a decade later, Lara Tannis found the Anghammarad demonstrator along with several other failed or canceled projects in a huge, dusty hangar. She successfully petitioned the base commander to assign resources to assess its operational status, and furthermore to allow her command of it, once it checked out. She has operated the Anghammarad unit for the last several years, where it has performed above expectations. One suspects with a more daring pilot, it could be made to be everything its original designers intended it to be.
Mark III Multiple Artillery Battery - A single enormous pod about half again as long as the squat torso containing four large barrels, this weapon fires truly frightening artillery shells with selectable ammunition. Variations include a round for destroying hardened installations, an air-burst explosive that has a tendency to set infantry on fire, scattershot, or a tactical nuclear weapon. All four barrels can be fired quickly in sequence or all at once, but take about 30 seconds each to reload.The weapon has very limited ammunition, as storage for propellant and the shells themselves are at something of a premium. The nuclear weapon is not carried unless the mission profile specifically demands it. The pod itself is attached to more of a turret than an arm, but it has five degrees of freedom and the pod itself can spin in a complete circle, albeit not very quickly. The weapon is designed to fire in an arc, rather than as direct-fire. Lara has labeled the trigger for this one, somewhat prosaically, as LEFT.
Mark V Rotary Anti-Materiel Cannon- The second outboard pod is on a similar stubby arm and contains a huge rotary gun around half the overall length of the artillery system. Capable of firing much more quickly than the cannon, it allows the pilot to focus on more immediate threats, or to simply rain destruction on targets that it would not be appropriate to use the artillery cannons on. The gimbaling system on this pod is somewhat faster than the left arm, thanks largely to the reduced length of the pod, but is still deliberate. The arc of fire can, of course, move quite quickly at a distance from the mech itself. The trigger for this one reads RIGHT.
Local Threat Management System - Located on the top-left of the mech, this is a bank of agile, guided rockets designed to pursue and engage smaller mechs that get too close. While the launcher has been modified to use the Empire's standard guided munition, the rockets have a hard time keeping up with the fastest mechs. It nevertheless provides a useful distraction. Someone labeled this control as "MISS. BEHAVE," and Lara has chosen to keep it that way.
Destruction Avoidance System - Dotted over the main torso hull are a series of powerful lasers. Not strong enough to damage a combat-capable mech, they are designed to target and disrupt incoming weapons, like large missiles, bombs, or possibly suicide attacks. They work quite well, even if the mech starts to look like a disco ball under heavy fire. Under absolutely ideal conditions, they are about 45% effective. Combat conditions are, of course, less than ideal. The trigger for this system is a colorful creative curse word, under a glass cover.
Speed Rank: Lo
Energy Rank: Hi
Agility Rank: Min
Armor Rank: Hi
Cockpit Rank: Med
Adaptability Rank: Lo
Wothahellizat: As there is exactly one of these mechs in existence, it is not part of any standard engagement profile. This can lead to less-adaptable opposition commanders not quite knowing how to attack it or what to do about it, giving Lara and her crew valuable moments.