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What is the Order of the Talon? Edit
"Victorus aut mortis."
- - Inscription on the Talon coat of arms
It's a good question, and a difficult one to answer. According to publicly available records, the Order of the Talon was one of the earliest knightly orders sponsored by the Catholic Church, a forerunner of the Teutonics, Templars, Hospitallers, and others, and was dissolved after the First Crusade. Of course, highly classified files held by the Allied Nations, Soviet Union, Empire of the Rising Sun, and Mediterranean Syndicate say differently, as do, of course, the personnel of the Order themselves.
According to the Allies' files, the Talon are a covert paramilitary force operating mainly out of the Middle East, with suspected presence in Europe, North America, and South America, and intent mainly on fighting the influence of the Mediterranean Syndicate. All of this is true, but it is far from the real story.
The Soviet Union believes the Talon to be a cult, a militant offshoot of the Catholic Church that has survived underground and still clings to ideas and principles obsolete centuries ago. This is true, too, but again fails to acknowledge how pervasive and dangerous the Order is.
Imperial psychics have come to the unsettling conclusion that the Talon may have had a hand in the Third World War. There are too many troublesome questions about the late Emperor Yoshiro's childhood tutor, a man in a position no one would think to look at. Yet now, looking back, the Empire should have been more vigilant of even the most innocuous of people. These psychics are right to wonder - and perhaps fear - how far the Talon's influence reaches.
The Syndicate's Board of Classics have a better idea than most of what the Talon's aims are. They know about the Cult, and suspect that the Talon's objectives reach further than that. But even for them, identifying the Order's motives is little more than educated guessing.
Ask a common Footman of the Order what he's fighting for, and he'll give any number of reasons - striking back at enemies the Allies won't acknowledge, waging holy war against God's enemies, and fighting the rising tide of atheistic science are only a few of the most common. All of these reasons for the Talon's combat operations are true, but omit many other factors.
Ask a Crusader, and their answer will be more informed. They are aware they are warriors in a struggle centuries old, and a war in which mere guns and fire are but the most primitive weapons available. They know that the real war takes place in the heart and soul. Killing bodies, for the Order, has never been anything but a messy last resort... although that may be changing.
Ask one of the Triumvirate, the enigmatic leaders of the Talon, men with no faces or names, and only then will you receive the true answer to what the Talon is, and in so doing learn that some things are best left unknown.
The Order of the Talon is a conspiracy in every sense of the word. It is hidden from the world at large, carrying out machinations right under the noses of the supposed superpowers of the world. Its actions often seem to have no rhyme or reason to them, and make sense to none but its very highest levels of leadership. Talon personnel universally prefer to martyr themselves rather than be captured, but even for those skilled and fortunate enough to capture a Talon operative, little of use can be gleaned: the Talon takes excellent care of its own, but guards its mysteries, of which there are a great many indeed, very carefully. Many serve in the Order for their entire lives but never come close to learning what the real agenda of the Order is. Even the Crusaders, the battlefield commanders of the Order, seldom learn what the true strategic goals of a given Crusade are. Taking a city may only be of secondary importance to ensuring that the right person sees the Order in action. That the Talon is guided to some extent by prophecy is well known in some levels of the Order, as so aptly proved by Lady Maria, but one might wonder how that's possible, if the Talon have failed for so long as they apparently have.
The truth, if one could call it that, is that the Order of the Talon plays a very long game indeed. They know that making the right man see the right thing can have dramatic repercussions decades later, and many a conspiracy theorist has wondered just how much of the world's history was orchestrated by these enigmatic figures. The answer, inevitably, is less than the most wild of theories, but their hand has indeed shaped the world, and will continue to do so. But beyond that, the Talon are the only ones who could truly answer the question of how much they have influenced, and they certainly won't tell. In fact, only three of them could tell, and the Triumvirate are not the most forthcoming of men.
Cloak and Dagger Edit
"I walk down the street and I see them all around me. That vendor selling flowers, is she a friend or a foe? That policeman at the corner, is he on our side or theirs? That waitress winking at me, is she trying to be friendly or trying to give me a sign? Why are they all staring at me? Why are they ALL staring at me?!"
- - Tape recording found on body of a male corpse found in Thames, identity unknown.
When those conspiracy theorists who believe in the Order of the Talon can be persuaded to share their knowledge, through payment or ideals, the picture they paint of said Order is often an evocative one: According to many supposedly 'in the know', the Order is a world-spanning conspiracy with members in every government, every board of directors, and every gas station. Almost every major figure is either willingly or unknowingly doing the will of the mysterious group, and often anyone the theorist personally doesn't like will also be painted as an unwitting pawn of the secret world superpower. If these conspiracy theorists are to be taken at face value, the Order of the Talon is able to act through anyone, anywhere, at any time they like. There is nowhere they cannot see, and no honey pot they do not have their fingers in.
There is a certain truth to these rantings. Certainly the real Order makes use of foreign soldiers and labor who are unaware of the nature of their employers, and it is estimated by archivists within the Order that as much as 16% of it's total manpower may come from people who are unaware of their affiliations or ties to the Talon. Factory workers and common ground-pounders are after all in plentiful supply, don't tend to ask too many questions, and are deemed just dull and simple-minded enough by the chain of command to be beneath worth corrupting by the Black Hand. But for the most part, the Order prefers not to manipulate directly from the shadows. There are two major reasons for such a decision: on an ideological level, directly manipulating major world leaders and other such individuals is considered distasteful by members of the old guard within the order, who reason that such crude tactics are more evocative of the Black Hand and prefer to take a more subtle, guiding approach when working with such figures. On a more practical level, those figures who are directly manipulated have a tendency to, for better or worse, screw carefully made plans set up years ago by not talking to the person they should have or getting inconveniently killed before they were supposed to. As such, the vast majority of people aligned with the Talon are split up into two categories: Full members, and Cells.
Up to 23% of the Order of the Talon is composed of full members, made up of those who are directly aware of the Order of the Talon and what it's goals and overall orders are. They are the ones responsible for maintaining and piloting the immense Crawlers and vehicles of war to battle, the ones responsible for providing cover stories and implanting false data and muddying the truth to the point where it is no longer recognizable, and the ones responsible for overseeing the various bases of operations used by the Order. Full members are also the ones who are directly considered to be Talon 'personnel', and are often portrayed as the face of the Order (at least insomuch as a face exists) by the propaganda and inspirational departments in Palestine. It is a testament to their abilities that, in an organization as widespread and secretive of the Talon, they can effectively organize and communicate with other major Talon strongholds at all without being traced or discovered.
But for all their skill and organization, fully recognized and ordained members of the Order are still a minority within the Talon as well as the group least likely to actually encounter members of the Cult in the world today. That dubious honor falls instead to the remaining 61% of the Order of the Talon: Cells.
If being a full member of the Order of the Talon is a position of power and authority, of a strict but well-trained and prepared lifestyle, being a member of a Talon Cell is anything but. Knowing just enough about the Order of the Talon to be considered an asset to their mission, but not enough of an important asset to justify true induction, they are overseen by Talon officers who never reveal themselves directly and are sent on missions they know nothing about to kill people they have never met. Rather than terrifying figures clad in armored plate or armed with terrifying weaponry, cell members are armed only with what they can buy or acquire themselves on the open or black markets. Instead of battle tanks and Crawlers, they make due with minivans, jeeps, and occasionally civilian aircraft or commandeered police helicopters. There is no security in their assigned tasks, nor any chance of support from their shadowed superiors: should a cell member die, be seriously injured, or be confronted by police responding to a shooting, their Talon attachment may simply disappear, leaving them to face the consequences on their own. It is no surprise that many cell members fall to paranoia, forced into a life where at any time, someone could suddenly try to kill them: a random stranger on the street, a friend, or even a loved one.
Despite the danger and the double-life cell members must lead, however, they still fight. Some cells are made of former criminal gangs who found the truth and were blackmailed in return for their service. Some were police or military squads whose superiors were replaced or converted into full members, and must face the possibility of being fired or dishonorably discharged if they do not comply. Some truly believe that the Black Hand is a threat that must be addressed, and are willing to do anything they can to try and stop them. Some want to protect their families, their homes, or their country. Some just like to hurt people and receive praise for it. But no matter what their background or reason for fighting, once a person becomes a Talon cell member they can never go back. Many continue to go on and lead double lives until they die from battle with Cultists or other causes, always watching out of the corner of their eyes for masked figures. Some are assassinated deliberately or accidentally by Cultists in running firefights and sudden home invasions. Some accidentally die in conflicts with other cells, tricked by the Black Hand or ordered by faulty information from their superiors. A few go mad.
The full members of the Order of the Talon do not like to focus much on the 61%. Someone has to fight the everyday battles, but there has to be secrecy. Caution. Planning. In a day and age where any camera can capture an errant armoured figure, any plane can spot the steam from a factory site in the middle of nowhere, and anybody could be a Cultist, brazenly attacking the forces of the Black Hand in open daylight is no longer enough. Attacking with full force when the Scorpion has been cornered is welcomed whenever possible, but somebody has to weaken it first. Assassinating Cultists is all well and good, but the Cult hasn't survived this long either without also being able to cover its tracks very well.
And so the few sacrifice the many to save the world, and pray when night falls that their actions were not in vain.
Life In the Order Edit
"Good food, comfortable quarters, working air conditioning in my tank, and all they ask is that I attend church every night? If I'd known, they wouldn't have needed to kidnap me to begin with."
- - A Talon officer, lately of the Soviet Union, appraises the conditions of his service.
The question an outsider might have, on learning of the Order's organization and purpose, would be to ask what life for the average member of the Order is like. The answer, surprisingly, is comfortable. While the Talon hold the ascetic, monk-like officer as an ideal, they are in truth more practical in their expectations for the majority of the Order's personnel. The Talon provide comfortable quarters for all officers and personnel, light on luxury but heavy on the quality of the furnishings, and even Talon barracks are relatively comfortable. Talon bases and Crawlers include well-equipped mess halls, and while no one would call Talon food luxurious or even especially good, the Order does like to keep its personnel as happy and comfortable as possible. This is not an altruistic decision: most of the Order's personnel could potentially be very dangerous if they decided to betray the Order, so it is in the Talon's best interest to keep its members content.
One of the most surprising revelations for new converts, however, is that the Order has evolved a more practical approach to ensuring a high degree of physical fitness among its members, even the non-combatants: all Talon bases come with a large and well-equipped gymnasium, and most have an outdoor sports area as well. Tennis and boxing are always popular pastimes among the Talon - Erik Svensgaard, the current Master of the Forges, was at one point the Order's champion pugilist - and recent decades have seen organized games of soccer become a regular fixture of the Order's physical training and recreation regimes. Strange as the concept of people like the Order of the Talon playing sports for fun is to an outsider, it is as ever a development with a pragmatic side: clean, wholesome sports are seen as a far better form of recreation than the other common recourses of military organizations like recreational drugs and gambling (not even the Talon are stupid enough to ban drinking from off-duty entertainment).
The exact nature and extent of the Talon's dogmatism, in turn, varies by location. The Sanctum Majoris and Saint Peter's Bastion, naturally, are the most dogmatic and conservative. This tends to diffuse by distance, however, with the Order's other European dominions sharing a deeply conservative nature, while occasionally to the consternation of the Talon's leadership, more distant bases of operations, especially the Order's stronghold in Australia, are looser in nature.
This is a relative term, however - the Talon is by any definition a highly conservative organization, and makes no bones about it. At its heart, it is openly sexist in the modern sense: Lady Maria was the Order's first female member since Joan of Arc, and even she wasn't so much accepted as barely tolerated. More women have joined the organization since Lady Maria, but almost all are relegated to civilian and support roles - women like Arianna Martella, fanatical Domina and Crusader of the Michael Crawler Cell, are rare, and it seems all too likely that Lady Maria herself will never rise above the Grand Council. The Triumvirate is a group of men by name, and even Lady Maria is considered, usually behind her back, to be unreliable and innately less capable than a man: the Talon cleave to the Judeo-Christian ideal that women are supposed to be submissive to men. Incidents like the highly unconventional liaison between Scribe Deirdre Winter and Shipwright Masoko Okamura have not been officially recognized by the Order as having happened, because the very idea is unthinkable to Order sensibilities, much less the concept that such activities took place between members of the Order.
The Order of the Talon sharply discourages personal liaisons in general for its personnel. Spouses are seen as a marked weak link for Talon members, unreliable and with a disturbing habit of learning more than they should. Some within the Order take it so far as to pronounce marriage as an unhealthy distraction for members, though this extreme a view is not universal. Again the Talon ideal of the ascetic rears its head: the true Talon ideal is of a man with no love but that for and by the Lord God, shunning worldly luxuries and distractions in favor of a purity of purpose and duty. The Triumvirate, however, is practical enough to realize how unrealistic that ideal is even as they encourage it. Men have their libidos (as do women, loathe though the Triumvirate are to acknowledge it), and actively trying to suppress such things cannot help but be detrimental to discipline and morale, as so aptly demonstrated by the uglier side of the Crusades - the Talon had no part in the mass rape and butchery of Jerusalem, among other places, but it noted the atrocities and decided, however reluctantly, that a solution had to be found. One of the Order's secrets most seldom spoken of is a number of young women in the Order's employ, prostitutes kidnapped from the world's cities (especially the Sprawls) and brought under the Talon's wing. They are violated as before their "recruitment", but the Order does extend them medical care, weans them off the drugs they are frequently addicted to, and teaches them more useful skills for a career later in life - many of these young women take places in the Chamber Unseen when their "service" is complete. The women especially of the Order consider it an ugly and necessary evil, but one might point out that it has had its successes.
The other earthly love many Talon personnel have, on the other hand, is carefully regulated but tolerated: Order members are permitted to stay in touch with the families they had before joining the Order, subject to Talon censoring of their communications, and the Order discretely provides pensions and counseling for the families of Talons who died in battle. Talons are not often permitted to visit their families (exception: members of the Chambers Epistolary and Unseen, obviously), but the excellent pay members receive is often enough to justify the service of most members, even before considering their faith and mission. On a less savory note, it is not uncommon for the Order to use these visits as a way to indirectly spread misinformation via the unwitting Talon.
Talon Dominions Edit
"Australia is effectively under our control, councilors. The retrofit of the Ayer's Rock station with a full suite of difference engines is complete, and our agents have infiltrated all relevant levels of the Allied government. The Chamber Epistolary has enjoyed considerable success, and church attendance rates in all urban and rural sectors increase weekly. We still cannot operate openly there, but I recommend further expansion of the Ayer's Rock facility and the establishment of secondary facilities to directly supply our presence there, as well as investigate the ongoing reports of unidentified warcraft in and near Antarctica."
- - One of the Grand Council reports on the state of Talon operations in Australia.
In truth, there is only one area where the Order of the Talon can operate directly. Nevertheless, as the separate Dominions of the Talon page catalogs, the Order's influence is global. By and large, where compatible religious sentiment has been historically strong, the Talon have maintained a presence as well: Western Europe, Central and South America, and the United States of America. Where compatible religious have historically been weak or nonexistent, the Talon have not established a permanent presence: Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Operatives of the Chambers Epistolary and Unseen operate throughout the world, including the government of the Soviet Union, Empire of the Rising Sun, and even the Atomic Kingdom of China, but it is rare for the Talon to establish a permanent base in a given geographic region.
It is difficult to generalize what life is like in these stations, as their operations so often depend on the nature of their home region. The Dagda and Copenhagen forges masquerade as Allied weapon factories, and employ ignorant labor like any other defense-related industrial plant, albeit with uncommonly generous pay and benefits that ensure there is never a shortage of workers, and with visible support of community churches and outreach programs. More isolated facilities like Port Vigilance employ only Order members, who serve terms of defined duration at the facilities with little to no access to the outside world to ensure the facility's secrecy. Fort Absolution and the Redemption Grounds are more like prison camps in their format of operations, with defenses placed as much to defend from attacks from within as from without. The Talon's global reach results in an accordingly diverse range of operations.
Some areas, however, fall indirectly under the shadow of the Talon. Saint Rita's Hospital in Minnesota, USA, is only part of a shadowy network of the Talon that has infiltrated much of the American Midwest. Australia, unbeknowest to both the Allies and its own population and government, is under de facto complete Talon control. In such regions, the Talon employ a strategy of influence mainly from the bottom up: after the local government is compromised, the Order prefers to evangelize the population through both direct Talon missionaries and clueless missionaries from other churches manipulated into sending missionaries into the area. Defying what the conspiracy theorist would think, the Talon don't actually care, usually, what a compromised region does. They are not there to crack down on crime or immoral behavior - though ideally, the religious revivals in Talon regions takes care of that on its own - and do not actively spy on clueless normal people. The Talon has far more useful things to do with its time, and would never risk detection over something trivial and transient. Here again, one must remember that the Talon play a long-term game: their motives are not always obvious, and indeed not always intentional. The Talon control of Australia, for example, is quite literally an accident on the part of the Order, but was recognized as useful once it happened.
Obviously, however, the Talon's influence is far weaker in some parts of the world than others. The Allied Nations have proven easy enough to infiltrate over the years (though that is changing), but the insular, culturally stagnant Empire of the Rising Sun and Atomic Kingdom of China are far harder for the Talon to subvert. Ironic, one might note, that one culture centuries behind the times has had the most difficulty infiltrating other cultures equally culturally obsolete. Other regions have simply never held any great interest to the Talon, including Asia, but also Africa and South America. The Talon's reach is long, but finite.
Finally, there is Palestine, the region in the Middle East focused on Jerusalem where the Order operates in the open. Shielded from discovery by simple obscurity and the Chamber Evangelical, modern-day Palestine is a bizarre combination of the archaic, the modern, and the fantastical. It is not uncommon to see stone buildings that date back centuries sprouting smokestacks and hastily added wings containing steam boilers side by side with relatively modern construction. And, by and large, the region thrives. The Order's efforts to eliminate inter-religious hostilities in the region have been very, very thorough. Signed in 1939, the Jerusalem Accords have been accepted by the Roman Catholic church, the majority of Protestant denominations, and the vast majority of Jewish and Muslim religious leaders as a formal peace treaty between the Abrahamic religions.
Indeed, life in Palestine for the average civilian is peaceful and pleasant. An outsider might note, however, that the entire region seems trapped sixty years in the past. Electricity is rare outside the major cities and their enormous steam power plants, horses and donkeys outnumber automobiles, and even local fashions and societal functions seem frozen in a bygone era. Churches, synagogues, and mosques dot the cities and desert in [occasionally very strained] harmony, and visitors quickly feel like genuine outsiders in a world that has long since passed in the rest of the world. Palestinians are rarely seen abroad, but their British Commonwealth passports are sufficient to alleviate most scrutiny. They are nevertheless stereotyped as extremely conservative, terminally old-fashioned, deeply suspicious of new-fangled inventions, and quite possibly inbred. Eccentric and the butt of many jokes, but harmless, and few ever have any desire to travel to this particular sector of the Middle East.
For the most part, the Order does not overtly interfere in local politics and culture. Their presence is sufficiently entrenched that their hand is simply not needed except on rare occasions. The Order's existence is also not a secret to the local population, although their scope, motives, and capabilities very much are. They are, by and large, treated as part of the landscape by locals - autonomous, to be respected when they do act, and rarely a significant concern to anyone. The Order does enjoy considerable respect and support from the local population for their efforts in assisting with natural disasters, defending the region from the GLA, and occasionally offering remarkable assistance to those in need, however, and many young men (and, in recent years, a few women) seeking to rebel against their families or seek adventure knock on the doors of an Order outpost to seek training as a yeoman or squire. Those who are accepted - after a discrete but thorough background check - are often surprised to see a considerable number of foreigners in the Order, but by that point the recruit rarely questions the Order's activities.
For the citizens of Palestine, the only regular external threats to worry about are the Global Liberation Army and, occasionally, the White Guard of Saudi Arabia. Originally formed from religious leaders who rejected the Jerusalem Accords, petty warlords defeated by the Order, and more than a few would-be rebel leaders stirred to action by the Cult, the GLA is regarded by most Palestinians as a menace to society and by local Talon forces as a nuisance. Although every attempt by the GLA to launch an open attack on Palestinian towns or Order strongholds has either spontaneously collapsed due to infighting or attacked Soviet, Allied, Syndicate, or even other GLA targets due to bad intelligence, occasional raids, rocket attacks, and suicide bombings are a fact of life for Palestinians. Simply put, the Order cannot prevent every attack, especially small-scale operations.
The Order, Science, and TechnologyEdit
"When all is said and done, most technology was invented by men for one of three purposes: to kill with it, to make money off of it, or to have sex with it."
- - Deirdre Winters, over lunch with Saint Veritan the Thunderer
Contrary to what one might think, at the core operating levels, the Order of the Talon is not comprised of Luddites, is perfectly accepting of science and technology, and makes no effort to curb scientific or technological development. There are, of course, outliers, but it is an exaggeration to claim that the Order of the Talon is truly technologically backwards or unscientific. The Order takes it as granted that the Lord God is omnipotent and omniscient, and that by definition, all technological and scientific discoveries and inventions are only possible because God wishes them to be possible. Charles Darwin's books did not cause a significant furor in the Order, and in fact the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 was regarded with amusement by the Order: is evolution possible, the Order asks? And they answer: yes, and it may be manner by which God created man and all life on Earth. The very idea that evolution is against God's will strikes most senior members of the Order as a bit ridiculous - if it was against God's will, it would not exist.
The Order does have a certain cultural anxiety and distrust of technology and scientific progress, but this has nothing to do with the science in and of itself. Over the centuries of the Order's existence, they've seen scientific revolutions come and go, earthshaking discoveries made, called heretical, accepted, and taken for granted. However, the Order has seen inventions made for peaceful purposes, and promptly used to kill and destroy. How and why the Nobel Prizes originated is a lesson the Order hasn't forgotten. Simply put, the Order fears what humanity will do with new knowledge and new technology, and believes that technology is swiftly outpacing humanity's ability to control it. Cybernetic augmentations and synthetic limbs are well and good, but the Order saw the battlesuits of the Mediterranean Syndicate and all the attendant horrors that go unadvertised coming long before the first battlesuit came online. When the Order of the Talon learns of the Electrical Protectorate, they will not be surprised. To them, it was only a question of when artificial intelligence would slip its yoke.
It is true, to be sure, that the Order is slow to adapt to new technology, but it is also true that the Order largely does not need to quickly adopt every new technology. For one thing, their resources are vast but not inexhaustible, and equipping every knight with a spectrum rifle and all the attendant infrastructure to maintain the weapons simply isn't feasible. For another, the Order's existing equipment remains highly capable. The Order's mechanical engineers, though they don't use the term, are among the best in the world, and in particular are masters of metallurgy, hydraulics, pneumatic engineering, and mechanical engineering. A spectrum cannon may be powerful, but when a steam-powered cannon can do the same job just as well, substituting a boiler for the equally massive power supply needed for the energy weapon, the Order is content with the steam cannon. Archaic as it looks, the Order's technology for the most part maintains parity with the Order's rivals in every area the Order considers relevant.
Moreover, the Order has some unique forms of technology found nowhere else in the world. Talon Steel, of course, needs no introduction, but perhaps the most interesting scientific frontier of the Order is found in their ambiaric and etheric devices. These devices operate on much the same scientific principles as technology used by the rest of the world, but perhaps as a result of the dramatically different construction of the devices, the Order has learned how to create technology that differs - sometimes significantly - in application from the rest of the world. As a result, the Order's knowledge and utilization of the electromagnetic spectrum has been proceeding along parallel lines to the rest of the world, using similar processes and principles to very different ends. Confederate seismic technology uses very similar principles to the deadly sonic resonance of the Jericho Cannon, for example, but the results are completely different.
Finally, it should be noted that although the Order of the Talon is generally scientifically literate and technologically adept, its members do not see themselves in such terms, and many would be offended at the suggestion. There is a shroud of mysticism over the Order's very real understanding of science, barring the occasional convert who hasn't yet been completely indoctrinated into the Order's mindset, and most of these are quickly snapped up by the Fellowship of Saint Thomas. As is so often the case with the Order, a great deal of truth and reason are obscured behind ritual and dogma.
Experimental Weapons of the OrderEdit
Throughout the centuries, a considerable number of experimental weapons and vehicles have come into the Order's possession, some stolen prototypes from other world powers, others the magnum opii of particularly innovative and headstrong artificers. These weapons have not seen full production even by the Order's standards, but should the need arise, the Order has never thrown the blueprints away.
|(Minor) faction(s)||Order of the Talon|
|Country of Origin||Canada|
|Outpost Occident, British Columbia|
|Key Features|| » Weight-shift trike controls|
» Radar-transparent materials
» Etheric communication array
» Night vision goggles with binocular function
» Rations and water for six days
To date, the Raven remains a unique model of aircraft in the world, an extremely small, ultra-lightweight fixed-wing aircraft with only a small gasoline engine for thrust. The brainchild of a particularly eccentric Canadian artificer of the Order, the Raven was conceived of only as a recreational aircraft for personal use. The Inquisition, however, immediately recognized the value inherent in such a small, long-duration aircraft, and acquired the Raven's schematics for their own use. Initially intended for night use, it was only after a Raven observed a skirmish between Indian and Red Chinese forces that the Inquisition realized they had something else entirely. By accident or design - the Raven's builder had died some months previously in the United States after a bizarre experiment involving attaching a massive number of helium balloons to a lawn chair - the Raven had been constructed out of materials that were almost entirely transparent to radar waves. The Inquisition immediately branded the Raven a secret of the Order and began actively suppressing research into ultralight aircraft throughout the world, and each Raven is rightly regarded as a precious intelligence asset, not to be risked in battle.
Goliath Assault TrackEdit
|(Minor) faction(s)||Order of the Talon|
|Type||Super heavy tank|
|Designation||Super heavy line breaker|
|Country of Origin||United States|
|Pacific Car and Foundry|
|Key Features|| » 180mm hull-mounted cannon|
» Casemate hull for extremely low profile
» Extremely heavy armor (300mm at front)
» Double track suspension system
» Gasoline engine of grossly inadequate power
In 1947, the Order of the Talon received an interesting new toy from a highly placed agent in the United States Army: the sole surviving example of the T95 Gun Motor Carriage, also known as the T28 Super Heavy Tank. The T95 had been a typically American experimental armored vehicle: exorbitantly expensive, over-engineered, and too late to do any good. Essentially a monstrous tank destroyer, the T95 had been intended as a line breaker of the first order, able to crack super heavy armored vehicles and defenses in addition to swatting aside lesser adversaries. Testing was problematic, however, and one of the two T95 prototypes suffered irreparable damage from an engine fire during testing. Coupled with an Allied shift away from a super heavy tank doctrine to deal with the prospect of Apocalypse Tanks and other super heavy weapons, the T95 program was canceled. Mysteriously, however, the surviving prototype simply vanished from American records after the program's termination.
When the T95 prototype rolled off an Australian-flagged container ship in the Middle East, the Order of the Talon designated the machine as the Goliath Assault Track. However, the Order's own trials of the design have met with mixed results in the eyes of the Chamber Militant. By and large, the Cataphract and Lucifer designs are considered more than adequate for the Order's purposes. However, at the request of the Chamber Militant, the Order's forgemasters have begun an extensive redesign of the Goliath for future use in the Order's arsenal. In particular, the Evangelical arm of the Order's armed forces has expressed an interest in the Goliath as a heavily armed centerpiece for their own forces, complementing the Order's older super heavy weapons. The Order's experience in powering such behemoths has been invaluable during the redevelopment of the Goliath, and while an exhaust stack for the new steam engine does mar the T95's sleek profile and the armor plating has actually been reduced, the increase in power has yielded its rewards - the present Goliath is shockingly fast for a machine of its size. More problematic has been the question of how to arm this behemoth. Sonic cannons similar to the Jericho Cannon have been proposed, while another consideration has been a massive thermal cannon that can reduce an entire infantry platoon to cinders or even a fiendish proposal for what is essentially a wide-area thermobaric cannon that performs similar to a massively oversized shotgun. If the Order's previous design processes for the Goliath's older brethren are any indication, the Goliath will finally see production sometime in the 1970s and bear only a passing resemblance to the original design, while the original prototype will be dumped in the back lot of an obscure army base.
Rook Escort BoatEdit
|(Minor) faction(s)||Order of the Talon|
|Country of Origin||Norway|
|Key Features|| » Firefighting water cannon|
» Civilian registration (Saudi Arabia)
» Sealed compartment at front of the boat
» Military-grade steam engine and pump
» Fog horn (loud)
The steam-powered tugs that ply the harbour waters around the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and southeastern Mediterranean are regarded by most as a charming anachronism of the region, small but deceptively powerful steam-powered ships darting around massive supertankers to tow them into and out of the region's port cities. Most of them, it is also known, are also fireboats with powerful water cannons to smother any fires that might erupt in or around the ports. What is not commonly known is that a civilian shipyard at Malta has built almost all of these quaint little ships, nor that unbeknowest to their crews, these tugs are a vital part of the Order of the Talon's intelligence network in the region. For the most part, these ships are benign enough. However, some of these ships, indistinguishable from the others, are something else entirely.
An ongoing pet project of rogue Imperial naval engineer Masoko Okamura has been the conversion of some of these ships to something far more dangerous in preparation for the apocalyptic conflict so many in the Order believe is coming. Getting hit by a firehose is no joke, as many anti-Allied protesters in North America and Europe can attest, but Okamura has been taking the idea one terrifying step further. By installing a far more powerful steam engine and pumping apparatus, heavily reinforcing the pipes, and adding a specially shaped nozzle, the firefighting cannons of these ships have been transformed into something far more lethal. Although plagued by technical problems that haven't yet been completely worked out, these hydrodynamic cannons fire narrowly focused jets of highly pressurized water at extreme velocities - extreme enough to punch through steel and turn a human body into something with the consistency of marmalade.
Okamura and a handful of Order artificers who like the idea are continuing to work on the tendency for the cannons to explode in spectacular fashion when fired, and the necessity of dropping anchor to keep the boat from capsizing when the cannon is fired, but for now these ships have not been approved for active military use. As an added bonus, by removing the enhanced nozzle, the firefighting function of the cannon remains fully operational.
Nephilim Clockwork WalkerEdit
|(Minor) faction(s)||Order of the Talon|
|Country of Origin||Palestine|
|Sanctum Majoris Forges|
|Key Features|| » Talon Steel tipped articulated legs (x8)|
» Breech-loading flintlock muskets (x2)
» Clockwork-based motive engine
» Ribauldequin volley gun (x1)
» Crew compartment (very cramped)
When it was first developed in the 18th century, the Nephilim Clockwork Walker was one of the Order's heaviest and most advanced weapons, used very much like the tanks that later superseded the machine. A low, compact machine built around a complex motive engine that could power the walker for up to a week at a time before requiring rewinding, the Nephilim resembled nothing so much as a giant mechanical spider, albeit one that was heavily armed and well suited to ripping apart any foe of the time it might encounter.
In battle, the Order of the Talon could trust to the Nephilim's volley gun to quickly tear apart enemy foes foolish enough to attack it head on; then, these walkers could be used to spearhead the assault, employing their muskets to good effect and ripping apart foes in close combat with the sharpened tips of their legs. With only incremental improvements along the way, the Nephilim walkers served the Order faithfully for more than a hundred years before the march of technology finally led to the Nephilim's retirement from active service with the Chamber Militant.
Though only a dozen Nephilim walkers were ever built, all of them still exist today, enshrined honourably in Order reliquaries and mausoleums. Should the need arise, however, these old machines require only a rewinding of their motive cores to serve the Order once again.