Elemental Power Suits
Here's how most people see Clan Elementals:
"...They resembled men, but their mottled gray and black flesh and the abnormal thickness of the armored plates on their bodies marked them as alien. Their heads looked like lumps raised from the shoulders as an afterthought. A dark V-shaped viewport passed for a face. Thick cylinders reinforced the forearms; the right arm ended in the muzzle of a laser, the left in an underslung machine gun barrel. The left hand consisted of a thumb and two abnormally thick fingers, and the feet looked like huge, bifurcated hooves melded onto the legs of a smaller creature. Only when the back-mounted missile launcher fired a missile at his Phoenix Hawk did Shin realize he was looking at a suit of infantry armor instead of a living entity..."
As with many things about the Clans, reality is different. The Clan Elemental is human, a genetically bred, perfect foot soldier. Larger, more muscular, and hardier than the average human, he also has another significant advantage that we are attempting to duplicate: a unique and powerful suit of battle armor.
Clan battle armor can take tremendous punishment from enemy weapons, and also performs automatic first aid on any Elemental that an enemy manages to hit. If the armor is breached, an as-yet-unknown substance inside the suit seals off the opening, covers the Elemental's wound, and administers drugs so powerful that they turn the injured Elemental into a battle-maddened fighting machine. The armor also enhances the Elemental's strength, allowing him to rip sheets of armor off a 'Mech with his hands.
Jet packs on the suits allow Elementals to jump significant
distances, keeping the enemy off balance. Built-in weapons usually include a small laser
in the right arm, a machine gun in the left, and a detachable short-range missile launcher
on the back. So far, only the Gray Death Legion has fielded significant battle-armored
infantry. The Gray Death power suits cannot match the Clans', because Inner Sphere
infantrymen lack the Elementals' size and strength.
The Role of the Elemental (3060 Update)
Early versions of Clan battle armor were tailored to specific combat roles and environments. Clan Wolf perfected the battlesuit known as Elemental battle armor, a compromise between teh various different types that was designed to function equally well in any environment and on virtually any type of mission. None of the earlier versions could match the WOlf suit's versatility, and so they faded into obscurity as Elemental battle armor gained wide acceptance among all the Clans.
Unexpectedly, the Clans' invasion of the Inner Sphere
disturbed the status quo regarding battle armor. Initially, Clan battle armor had no
equivalent among Inner Sphere troops. In fact, Elementals were mistaken for alien invaders
when first seen among Clan forces. However, as the Inner SPhere began to develop its own
battel armor, the Clans started to lose their dominance in that field. Especially in
recent years, with the introduction of innovative new suits such as the Draconis Combine's
Kanazuchi and the Free Worlds League's Achileus, Clan forces are finding their Elementals
outflanked and out-gunned.
In response, some Clans have begun to redevelop mission-specific battle armor to supplement the Elementals already in the field. The first two of these to see full-scale deployment are described below: the Hell's Horses heavy Gnome armor and Clan Fire Mandrill's incendiary Salamander suit.
Gnome Battle Armor
In 3054, rumors filtered to the Clan homeworlds that the Inner Sphere was developing assault battle armor in order to coutner the venerable Elemental design used by all Clans for the past century. Clan Hell's Horses, aware that any success in that field could threaten the edge they had long held over their fellow Clansmen as well as over the Inner Sphere, immediately set up a program to study the feasibility of such a concept. When the Clan's scientists, citing prototypes of pre-Elemental armor, demonstrated that assault battle armor was possible, Khan Malavai Fletcher ordered them to develop a similar system with Clan technology. The new armor, Fletcher insisted, had to retain its mobility, increase its firepower and be able to withstand all but the most powerful weapons.
Earlier models, tested throughout the hsitory of Clan Hell's Horses, became the basis of the new design. Each attempt had previously met with failure. However, advances in metallurgical, electronic and myomer technologies allowed the scientists to overcome many of the problems with those early cousins of modern Elemental armor.
The designers of the new battle armor dubbed it the
Gnome, after an elemental being that inhabits earth. Using the latest techniques in
small-scale, ferro-fibrous armor design, the Gnome moutns enough armor to withstand two
strikes from Clan medium lasers. Its main armament is an extended-range small laser inthe
right arm, with a fully articulated claw on the left arm. In addition, the suit upgrades
the Elemental's detachable SRM-2 launcher to a permanently attached Streak model for
increased range and accuracy. The Gnome sacrifices mobility for firepower and armor, but
thanks to advanced Clan manufacturing techniques, it is less ponderous than the Kanazuchi.
It maintains jump capability, though at 33 percent reduction in speed compared to standard
Elemental suits. However, the Gnome's sheer bulk reduces the user's dexterity to such a
degree that effective anti-'Mech swarming attacks are impossible.
The first Gnomes entered service in the ALpha Keshik of Clan Hell's Horses in the spring of 3056, and played havoc with the conventional suits used by the Omega Keshik during the annual sparring between the two Keshiks. Though the battle was only a simulation, Khan Fletcher was sufficiently impressed by the new armor's capabilities to order an immediate increase in production.
Salamander Battle Armor
Clan Fire Mandrill scientists were intrigued by the concept of heavy battle armor, but learned that Clan Hell's Horses had beaten them to the punch. Rather than pouring resources into developing a technology they could gain through a Trial of Possession, a group of scientists from Kindraa Faraday-Tanaga decided to take a unique approach to their new battle armor design.
One of the early Elemental versions, named the Salamander after the elemental creature of fire, was designed specifically for urban warfare and anti-infantry operations, before unarmored infantry had fallen into disuse among the Clans. The Faraday-Tanaga scientists chose to model their new armor after this prototype while enhancing the suit's anti-'Mech capabilities. They eventually created a potent guerrilla fighter and counter-insurgency weapon.
As much a psychological as a physical weapon, the
Salamander has a menacing look and aselection of weapons virtually guaranteed to break the
will of any infantry that dares to stand against it. The Salamander's primary weapon is
the flamer, which wreaks havoc with opposing infantry and can also be used to raise the
heat levels of enemy 'Mechs. The Salamander carries a 'Mech-scale flamer underslung on
each arm beneath a powerful claw for use in anti-'Mech swarm attacks. The suit's feet are
also modified with gripping claws and magnets to aid in grabbing onto enemy 'Mechs. As an
added anti-'Mech weapon, each Salamander suit als ocarries a single inferno SRM, moutned
over teh shoulder in an insulated launch tube.
In order to increase the Salamander's weapon load while maintaining its maneuverability, designers had to reduce its armor protection. In spite of this, the suit is still well-protected from attack, and its armor is specially formulated to make the wearer impervious to fire and flamer attacks - a vital safety factor, given the Salamander's weapon assortment.
Though plagued with design problems and bogged down by
the Madrills' usual infighting between Kindraa, the new Salamander completed field testing
in 3058, in time to be ready for the renewed invasion of the Inner Sphere when it comes.