Torchbearer

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Country of Origin  Palestine
Trained at  Darkwater Industries Corporate HQ, Hebron
Key Features  » L-5 "Ignus Dei" Heat Carbine
 » Underslung Heating Battery
 » "Tutus Flamma" Fire Retardent Chainmail
 » "Nemo" Optical Mask
 » Sunscreen

Tactical Analysis

  • These little lights of mine: Darkwater's standard troopers, Torchbearers answer back at foes with portable Heat Ray rifles that dissolve human flesh with utmost ease. Aircaft armor is not exempt from melting, as these rifles are remodeled to accurately aim at higher distances.
  • Pyrotechnicians: Should enemy soldiers attempt to close in at them, torchbearers can overcharge their weapons, effectively making them flamethrowers. 'Overstatting' might further their damage output, but the required energy renders them to incinerate objects at a smaller range than usual.
  • Dying down: While formidable combatants in their own right, these mercenaries are just as easily slaughtered by dedicated anti-infantry tactics as any other soldiers. As Heat Rays aren't dedicated anti-tank weapons, they merely leave singe marks at armor.
  • Passing the torch: Torchbearers worth their keep are granted improve rifles with highly-volatile chemicals mixed in. When their flames (both in rifle and flamethrower modes) make contact with anything, sustained fire can set them off, leaving nasty afterburns for the affected.

Background

"Mmph mpha mphmm mphr mph mphom"...

- A Torchbearer discussing the Order with an undercover journalist.

Not all who fight for the Talon get to fight another day - a fact best backed by majority of cells, those not considered to be full members by the Order. Local police or military personnel, former criminal organizations, armed sympathizers: the Order draws cannon fodder from these sources and many more to kill much cultists as possible - then be killed after their service is finished.

Reforms were eventually made, but to much debate. Banneret Canavan was one of the loudest voices supporting a change in the way the Talon treats ordinary cell members; to quote, "Our policy of dealing with pawns only needlessly culls those could be mighty enough to be inducted to our cells, and leaves the weak to get strong with the help of the Cult." Lady Maria and her cell, unsurprisingly, took his side, even going so far as to take the more powerful ones as her own protégés. So, in order to silence some of the uproar caused by two experienced crusaders, the first ever Talon-aligned pawn company was formed in Hebron consisting of Maria's own disciples.

Their assignment was to neutralize the local GLA cell responsible for sustained attacks against Order strongholds in ad-Dhahiriya. Older Talon members, at first, were expecting that they would be gunned down easily, a sentiment also shared by a few of the Lady's own soldiers. Those doubts mildly disappeared when the company had with them the first-ever "heat ray" weaponry - successfully replicated from H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" (the mechanism of the one portrayed in the book was intentionally doctored). All those uncertainties about the company's survival vanished for good when they immediately set ablaze the guards outside the compound. As the pawns breached through the front door, the dumbfounded rebels could do nothing as the intense heat from the rays flashed their bodies near-instantly into flame. A local street urchin described the aftermath as, "so thoroughly incinerated, not even the crisp was spared from the inferno."

Once they got out bearing the news of the GLA commander's death, the squad was about to be knighted as full members until Canavan himself interrupted the proceedings. Describing his encounter with former Irish legionnaires from Satellite City, he suggested that while the truly exemplary warriors should be inducted as crusaders, "the Eternal Crusade must pool a fraction of its resources if it would stray hired muscle from our foes." After yet another long debate, the Hebron company were still knighted, but pawns are no longer disposed off after battles, and Darkwater Industries immediately set up shop in the same city a year later in 1963.

Today, torchbearers are the veritable third option in the dilemma between buying legionnaires or enforcers. While neither affluent nor affordable as the two, these "hired torches" light up the battlefield as easily as them. Themselves former pawns, they began advertising their services to their former countries (although the planned holovideo game about the exploits of the "Hebron's Firestarters" was shelved due to fears of poor sales), which surprisingly led to a great turnout of recruits with much more defined consciences than those who would sign up for the Legion. It helps that many of the same recruits tend to come from war-torn countries, who have seen first-hand the worst excesses of the Sprawls, or the uptick in heinous crimes by individuals who have scorpion tattoos anywhere in their bodies. Template:Darkwater