Lore, Technology, and Politics of the Galaxy Edit
A silver river of light flows before an innumerable host of hungry civilizations. This is Mecha Galaxy. Like so many gems, its stars are sought for their lustre.
In the year 3299, thousands of planets are linked by trade and war through an irreducibly complex network of teleportation gateways, left behind by the transcendently advanced, lost forerunner species. As far as is known, these "Forbears" have utterly departed, leaving only their technology to haunt men's ambition.
The structure of intragalactic politics has shifted to reflect the strategic reality of point-to-point transport through forbear gateways. Force must be projected one mech squadron at a time through gateways with unknown or astronomically distant exits. As such, a quasi-feudal order prevails as clans of skilled warlords maintain trade and piracy networks across disconnected star systems, secured only by the peerless martial prowess of the elite mecha warriors they lead.
The gates have also opened the surfaces of distant worlds to exploration, and vast new territory awaits discovery. In this wide and splintered arena, anyone can achieve domination, provided their boldness (and their cunning) is great enough. What follows is required reading for all mecha pilots who would test their mettle in the unforgiving contest of war in Mecha Galaxy.
The rare metal niobium can be used to create "niodes," a technology with several applications in the MG universe. A niode looks like a stainless steel sphere the size of a baseball.
A niode can be used as a battery to store arbitrarily large amounts of "Lisi energy" which can be used to run mecha and other devices. Note that though a niode may store as much energy as you wish to put into it, there is a power limit to how quickly you can pull energy out of an individual niode. For more power, you need more niodes.
A niode can hold the transport signatures for gateways.
Niodes can be linked together into niode matrices, which have two important applications.
First, a niode matrix is necessary for travel through a gateway.
Second, niodes in a matrix can serve as strong, fast, precise actuators in machinery; you encase a niode in a ball-and-socket joint and use strong local magnetic fields generated through the niode to reposition the joint. This is a fundamental enabling technology for mechas, making it possible for them to move as gracefully as a living creature. Niode actuators need a human operator, since a mind is required to interact with the quantum wave state of the Lisi energy in the niode matrix, an the operator must be inside the polyhedron described by the niodes in a matrix to control those niodes, which is why mecha are piloted rather than controlled by computers or remote operators.
Most niodes are manufactured from raw niobium, but niodes constructed by the Forerunners are also sometimes found. These can be valuable because they may contain the signatures of gateways, including as-yet-undiscovered gateways. Forerunner niodes may have other extraordinary properties as well.
Niode matrices can be reconstructed, adding or removing niodes as desired, but this is an involved enough procedure that it cannot be done quickly in the field.
A mecha or "mech" is a big "robot" containing a human pilot. Mecha commonly take a roughly humanoid form, though other arrangements are possible, including wheeled vehicles and animal forms. The typical mecha is about 6-10 meters high. Industrial mechs can be as small as Ripley's loader from Aliens. Mecha can also be much larger, though mechs taller than 15 meters high will not be able to crouch down small enough to fit into a gateway's transport envelope, so these are rarely considered practical.
Piloting a mech requires a combination of a neurological talent (possessed by about 1% of the population) and rigorous training. A mech pilot wears a rig -- a "neural link" -- which gives her direct mental control over the numerous niode actuators in the mecha's joints. The pilot's ability to control her mech is dependent on visualizing the relationships between the actuators; this is the primary reason why mecha generally take human-like forms. Sensors in the mecha can provide feedback through the neural link so that the pilot can see through the mech's camera eyes, hear through its radio, et cetera. Thus the pilot comes to think of a mecha as an extension of her own body.
The more niodes employed in the structure of a mecha, the more gracefully it can move. More niodes in a mech also allow it to support more electronics and more powerful weapons.
Mecha are very strong. An ordinary mecha can easily lift a car, uproot a tree, or demolish a house "barehanded." Niode actuator strength is great but not unlimited, though most often the limiting factor in a mecha's strength is the structure of the mecha's "skeleton." Exceptionally strong mecha may use more niodes in their construction.
A mecha, being several tons of fast-moving steel, serves as a weapon in and of itself but battle mechs are typically outfitted with a range of weapons controlled and powered by the mech's niode matrix. Some mecha employ projectile weapons, but because niodes can store so much energy, they generally include various kinds of directed energy weapons. 11pies 06:33, April 25, 2012 (UTC)Exceptionally powerful directed energy weapons can test the limits of power that can be drawn from a mecha's niodes, requiring more niodes in the mech's construction. Many mechs also have blades and other hand-to-hand weapons for close combat with other mechs.
Mecha tend to operate in squads of 5-10. Major engagements may involve companies of about a dozen such squads. During the Second Galactic War, the Battle of Lem featured several thousand-mech battalions on each side, but few believe that a battle of that scale will ever be fought again.
A gateway is a teleportation device left behind by the Forerunners which enables instantaneous travel between planets using a wormhole. Known planets typically have several gateways, though planets with only a single gateway, or with dozens, are not uncommon. Gateways are often, though not always, placed in clusters several hundred yards apart from one another.
Each gateway is a triangular platform twelve meters across; objects transported by the gateway must fit into the "transport envelope," the tetrahedral pyramid implied by the gateway platform, limiting the size of things that can be transported.
To be transported, an object must have a niode matrix; the more massive the object transported, the more niodes the matrix must include. Though the niodes used in mecha will work for this, most transport is done using shipping cubes with a matrix embedded in them.
A typical gateway is linked to several other gateways distributed throughout the galaxy. Some gateways link only to a few others, while other gateways may link to a hundred others or more. Note that different gateways on a given planet may or may not link to the same gateway on another planet; thus to go from Planet A to Planet B, it may be necessary to gate to Planet C, travel overland across continents to a different gateway on Planet C, and then gate from there to Planet B.
A link between gateways is not enough; to travel from gateway A to gateway B, you need a niode imprinted with the signature of gateway B. If a niode has been imprinted with the signature of a gateway, it may be used to gate to that receiving gateway from any gateway linked to it. Niodes acquire a gateway's signature by "touching" the gateway by entering the tetrahedral active space above it. There is no known limit to the number of signatures a niode may store.
Objects do not collide when something gates through to a gateway; a forcefield pushes everything out of a receiving gate a moment before anything comes through.
No known force can destroy a gateway. In a desperate move, the Radix Tribe once tried a direct hit from a thermonuclear weapon to kill a gateway. The nuclear strike temporarily disabled the gateway but did not destroy it; it soon began to function again.
Gateways cannot be moved. They are tightly locked to the space-time deformations created by an entire planet's mass; to dislodge them would effectively require destroying the planet.
When a niode matrix travels through a gateway, it needs several hours to recover before it can use that gateway again, though it can use another gateway right away. This appears to be part of why the Forerunners clustered gateways as they did.
Simple sensors can be constructed which can detect unseen gateways at a range of a few hundred yards; most mecha are equipped with these. But no known technology permits the long-range detection of gateways. As a result, there are new gateways discovered on planets all of the time, making the "geography" of the galaxy change, sometimes dramatically.
The Balance of Power Edit
The technologies of niodes, mecha, and gateways combine to create a galaxy of clannish politics.
Nation-states as we know them are impossible: the bottlenecks of gateways prevent massing large armies, and the weird networked "geography" of planets created by gateway connections renders territorial borders well-nigh meaningless. It is also tactically impossible to completely secure a gateway, as anything can come through it, though in practice a gateway site of course can be forcefully occupied, giving it great strategic value.
Between the instability created by this geography and the hunger for niobium, the political situation is in constant flux. With geography and mecha technology unfriendly to large modern armies, small squads of mechas can project great power, and can operate with great independence. Meanwhile, the areas near gate sites tend to function as city-states with protectorate relationships with small bands of mecha pilots, called clans.
There are three main galaxy wide alliances among the clans: The Illyrian Hegemony, The Meiji Shogunate, and The Society of Cogwerk Planets. These three factions claim relationships with the clans on about half the planets in the known galaxy, though many of those relationships are loose, with mercenaries and local protectorates dropping in and out of these alliances as circumstances change.
Of the un-allied planets, about a third are properly settled, under the protection of independent clans. The Three Alliances would like to claim these territories, but there are not resources enough to sweep them all up. The remaining un-allied planets are effectively "wilderness," dotted with small outposts and roamed by bandit claves. Most of these claves are small, though there are some midsized alliances: the Clarke Federation binds eleven resource-rich planets in an alliance, and Blackwing is a bandit chieftain who brags three hundred mecha under his command.
The Three Alliances engage in endless brushfire conflicts, fighting to tame the wilderness planets and wrestling with each other over territory and resources. Many small mercenary squads of mecha make temporary pacts with Three Alliances when it suits them, flying the flag (or rather, wearing the transponder) of the alliance and swearing to fight their enemies, much as privateers did in the Golden Age of Piracy.
by Temple Of The Written