Revisiting my Anno Astra setting with something I set aside back in 2011...
The Grillon is a combat demi-shell developed and manufactured by Dauphin Biospatiale S.A., a consortium formed by Dassault, Finmeccanica and their biotechnology subsidiaries. Intended for production in areas with a limited manufacturing base (such as frontier worlds many standard months’ transit time from the nearest major trade route), the most distinctive aspect of this demi-shell’s design is its heavy reliance on pseudo-organic materials and manufacturing processes in its construction. It also makes heavy use of open-source software & standardized, commercially available off-the-shelf components that can be easily obtained on the market.
The internal endoskeleton is made of a blend of composite materials grown onto a CNT latticework via a bioengineered microorganism derived from hermatypic corals. The manufacturing processes and facilities involved do not require a significant industrial/technological base, making it possible for frontier worlds to manufacture limited numbers of demi-shells indigenously at reasonable investment costs.
In lieu of more conventional cermet-ablative-CNT laminates requiring specialized facilities and high power requirements to manufacture, the armour plates are fabricated by means of a simple process where various inert materials are bonded, with the use of a special epoxy resin, with each other & onto a flexible ballistic polyamide framework placed within a mold of the desired shape. Heat & pressure are applied as it cures and hardens into a reasonably lightweight, yet tough and highly resilient, fibrous mass that, depending on the base materials, can provide good protection against medium-velocity projectiles, blunt impacts and low-intensity DEWs. The castings are then overlain with thin-film capacitive sensors and clad in a wear-resistant GRP material before being fitted onto the demi-shell’s frame.
The legs, down to the feet, make heavy use of Exsilitol-D, a pseudo-organic material derived from resilin and chitin. This gives the Grillon a distinctive bouncing gait when moving at cruising speeds, as well as a significant drop in energy usage for locomotion compared to other demi-shells of the same weight class. This is due to the material’s efficiency in storing & releasing energy as a spring. This particular feature, one of the demi-shell’s main selling points, significantly improves its combat patrol range.
Unfortunately, Exsilitol-D suffers from deteriorating performance beyond a relatively narrow temperature range. It becomes more brittle & less resilient at temperatures below 270 degrees Kelvin, while temperatures above 350 degrees Kelvin causes it to soften and deform under heavy loads & repetitive stress. Passive insulation and active temperature regulation can mitigate this to an extent, but at the cost of higher energy usage—which sort of defeats the material’s purpose.
This particular Grillon, with accompanying infantry, is on perimeter patrol somewhere along the outskirts of the planet Ausaria’s Great Comet Rift, notable for its very broken terrain and localized weather extremes. The lack of any markings or insignia and the simple camouflage paint job suggest that this is part of the security element for one of the many independent prospecting operations scattered over the planet’s surface. Conversely, these may also be one of the many bandit groups preying on such operations.
Handheld armament is a 25mm semiautomatic coilgun, with an internal ‘floating’ assembly to reduce felt recoil. On the left shoulder is a 4-round HVM pod. While the Grillon is completely behind cover, the missiles can be launched & guided with the use of the telescoping mast-mounted sight/target designator located on the left dorsal plate. Point defense is provided by a small-caliber coilgun repeater mounted on the right dorsal plate. The shield, a lightweight sandwich of foamed metal alloys, RESA ablatives and plastics on a spintube latticework core, bears a set of reactive armor tiles, providing additional protection to one of four facings (top, left side, front or rear) as desired by the operator. Its narrow shape requires it to be wielded in a more active fashion, a task usually performed by the onboard AI system. A pair of 3-tube countermeasure dischargers is mounted on each side of the glacis plate. Flexible polyamide gaskets have been fitted over the major joints as protection against shrapnel & the elements.