The Mentak Coalition does not have a standing military, per se. Instead it operates on a continuous merchant marine/reserve system, where every Captain is provided a particular level of governmental support, and in return provides a particular level of military service to the Coalition. In addition, during a state of emergency, the Coalition can recall and press in to service any of its Captains. This could, in theory, provide the Coalition with a truly impressive navy if its government was ever truly threatened with annihilation.
As a result of its Independent Captain based reserve structure, the Mentak Coalition has no static flag officers. Instead, when the Coalition gathers a fleet of Captains together, the most senior or renowned of them will be designated as an Admiral for the duration of the battle or fleet’s existence. Particularly large battles or campaigns will see the temporary assignment of increasingly higher ranks of Admirals.
Infantry and other Ground forces also fall under this “Captain’s own” system. These forces are commanded, deployed and supported by their own captain’s ship. (Where they are often stored in stasis pods between missions.) Due to these particular arrangements, Mentak ground forces are quite small. For minor engagements, these are more than adequate. However, on the rare occasion when need arises these forces are freely and extensively augmented with mercenaries.
The Mentak essentially have two types of weaponry for their starships, the laser cannon and hydrogen missile. Defensively, the ships rely primarily on their plasma-steel armor, strengthened by compression fields that increase their effective tensile strength. As a secondary defense, all ships are equipped with deflector shields, as well as standard electronic countermeasures.
The laser cannon is more than a simple laser. Instead the mono-wavelength photons are captured within a condensed gravitational “bottle”. The package is than launched, where the space folding nature of its gravitational bottle allows it to travel at FTL speeds, until the field eventually disintegrates and releases the photons in a burst. It’s worth noting there is no acceleration period, and consequently no barrel required for laser cannons.
Ship to ship missiles also use gravity fields for their critical functions. Like the ships, the missiles are propelled at FTL speeds by space-folding hetch drives. When the missile’s onboard targeting computers detect proximity to a target, the drive’s field collapses and it used for it’s second purpose. The gravity field compresses a small quantity of tritium until it spontaneously undergoes nuclear fusion, and keeps the fuel at critical stages until it is almost completely consumed. Finally (a few milliseconds later), the missile collapses one section of the gravity field, creating a focused thermonuclear blast.
Plasma-Steel, a common construction element in the Mentak Coalition, is a simple ferrous alloy formed by heating all of the component materials to their plasma state, then cooling them back down under controlled conditions. This creates an extremely strong and thermally resistant material. When used as ship armor, plasma-steel’s toughness is further augmented by a compression field, which uses a combination of gravitational and electromagnetic fields to hold the armor together, increasing it’s thermal resistance and tensile strength.
Mentak deflector shields, the only kind of military shielding they use, does not serve to actively stop attacking projectiles. Instead the shield generator creates a tangential gravity field that warps an incoming projectile’s trajectory away from the protected craft. As it is gravitationally based, the strength of the shield is proportional to the target’s mass, and as such is most effective on large, slow moving projectiles like missile, and least effective on energy weapons, like photons.
The standard Mentak ship, and the basis of its fleet, is the Merchant Cruiser. These vessels are designed with the ability to operate in complete independence. Every cruiser mounts laser cannons, missile tubes and launch bays for attack craft. The amounts of each are always relatively balanced, although specifics differ depending on the Captain’s preferences and designs. It should also be noted that because these ships serve as merchant flagships as well as ships of war, they less powerful then dedicated warships of their same tonnage and tech level.In addition to cruisers, the Mentak fleet recognizes two other classes of vessel, based more on usage then tonnage. The Destroyer is a specialized, military focused vessel that forgoes a large portion of it’s cargo capacity and some weapon systems for a strong focus on a particular weapon type. Although a destroyer could be any size, they are typically on the smaller end. The Galleon on the other hand, is a focused merchant vessel, trading structure reinforcement and weapon systems for additional cargo space. Naturally, these tend to be found plying the safer space lanes.
In single or paired ship combat, the Mentak simply attempt to emphasize the use of the weapon system the enemy is least well equipped to defend against. When fighting enemies without specific weaknesses, Mentak captains will typically attempt to use attack craft to target enemy weapon systems, leaving them with a reduced ability to counter-attack when the ship moves into gun range.
Large fleet actions generally require more mobility, and focus on wide, multi-vector assaults that attempt to break up enemy formations and take advantage of the Mentak’s lack of need to maintain tight formations for mutual support. Mentak rarely commit to holding actions or decisive battles, and captains are expected to withdraw their ship prior to its destruction.
With few exceptions, Mentak ground forces are considered part of crew of the ship they hail from. They hold naval ranks and follow their ship’s chain of command, ultimately answering to its captain. The majority are also inevitably stored in stasis pods between engagements to save on costs. As would be expected from a series of units each independently raised and outfitted, the exact composition of such forces differs dramatically. There are, however, at least a few consistent points.
Mentak Infantry can essentially be divided into three types. Armsmen are continuously active onboard a the ship in question, acting as a garrisoning police force during the ships normal operations. The number of Armsmen tends to depend on the discipline requirements of the ship in question, but typically isn’t many. Commandos, by comparison, are the general term for the Mentak’s Special Forces personnel. They are few in number, around a half-dozen per cruiser, but exceptionally well equipped and very well trained. Lastly, Solders comprise the rest of the ground forces. Reasonably well trained and equipped, soldiers are the line infantry of the Coalition, with their training particularly focused on CQB for cityfights and boarding actions. Unlike the others, Soldiers are almost always kept in stasis between deployments, to save resources, boredom, and increase the number a ship can carry.
Regardless of type, all the Mentak infantry use the same general types of equipment. Armor is made from the leather hide of a thick skinned animal originally native to the Zaren homeworld. It’s natural toughness and shock absorbing quality makes it comparable to ballistic weave. It has also been found, when treated with the correct chemicals, to be highly energy resistant. In addition to armor, commandos and other well equipped individuals will use the expensive but effective personal deflector shields.
Infantry (pulse) weapons are available in a stunning variety of sizes, strengths, ranges and rate of fire. They all, however, utilize the same basic principles. Chakan oil (a refined bioproduct) is released along with hydrogen and oxygen into a small gravio-magnetic containment sphere. An electric spark ignites the oil, which quickly shifts to the plasma state. The contained plasma is then projected out the barrel of the weapon using magnetic induction (similar to a coilgun). The resulting pellet burns a hole through the intended target. They are not particularly deadly weapon compared to kenetics, but make up for it in armor penetration and clip size. In addition to direct fire weapons, Mentak infantry utilize a variety of specialist weapons and grenades.
The other half of the ground battle equation, Mentak Armored Units, are very rare but they do exist. They use powerful and reliable gravity-canceling drives to provide a hover capability and motive power, though without full hetch drives, they remain much slower than the Mentak’s aerospacecraft. They have thin vertical profiles and turreted main cannons. They are almost never deployed as collected armored companies, but rather as infantry support vehicles. They can be found as light and heavy variants.
Defensively, all Mentak armored units are constructed from plasma-steel, though armor thickness will depend on the weight allowances of the vehicle in question. All but the lightest units will utilize density enhancers to strengthen the armor during combat. Particularly high end vehicles will also be equipped with deflector shields.
Offensively, Mentak vehicles are in the position to use a variety of weaponry. Some are equipped with heavy caliber pulse weaponry, topping out the size the plasma can be effectively created and contained. Others utilize starfighter sized laser cannons instead as their primary weapon. Secondary weapons may include any number of pulse, missile or other variations.
Large scale planetary conflicts (planetary invasions, for example) are fought almost entirely with mercenary forces. The Mentak themselves are unable and unwilling to maintain a ground army large enough to fight those wars on a continuous basis. While they will be fully supported by their Mentak employers, they are left to fight according to their own doctrine and methods.
The Mentak do, however, maintain sufficient ground forces for small, theater scale conflicts and special military operations. In the cases where these are deployed, the first order of business is always to establish aerospace superiority over the area in question. Once this is established, the Mentak will attempt to perform a series of rapid engagements that send overwhelming force against isolated or vulnerable positions, as per standard military doctrine. Withdrawal and redeployment is (almost) always considered the better option over protracted fights or fighting over holding ground. Naval air support is considered critical by Mentak ground doctrine, and even isolated soldier units can expect regular airstrikes.