Mortar Headds of the Five Star Stories
Nothing is as destructive on the battlefield or as decisive to victory as the mortar headd. These mechanical juggernauts have no equal and are considered necessary for the success of any military campaign. They are usually 15 meters in height (measured from the shoulder to the ground) although some have been built as large as 40 meters. Unlike most science-fiction mecha, mortar headds are not merely humanoid vehicles that are built and disassembled as needed. Each one is a unique creation and highly prized by both its pilots and home nation. The article Internal Structure of Mortar Headd shows how mortar headds are put together.
Mortar headds are operated by a headdliner pilot and a fatima copilot (normal humans are not even able to make mortar headds move). The headdliner has complete control of the mortar headd’s movements through manual controls and an electroencephalo drive that links to his/her helmet allowing the machine to mimic the movements of the pilot to a certain degree. The fatima, genetically engineered for the task, serves as the onboard computer system by mentally merging with the mortar headd enabling her/him to control weapon systems, scanning, communications, teleporting and flight systems (teleporting and flight systems aren’t installed in every mortar headd). The combat effectiveness of a mortar headd depends on 3 factors: the skill of the headdliner pilot, the quality of the fatima copilot and the quality of the mortar head itself. In place of a fatima a more simple genetically engineered creature called an etriml can be used. Etrimls are similar organisms to fatimas but much simpler. Lower grade mortar headds are often equipped with etrimls instead of fatima cockpits.
Mortar headds are not only designed for battle but are also works of art. In a galactic society of knights and royal families a mortar headd serves as a representation of a knight’s status and is a focal point for national pride. They are thus designed to be fearsome to behold on the battlefield and beautiful to see in parades and processions. Many mortar headds have intricate frescoes permanently fixed to their external armor plates and colorful designs worked into their paint jobs. If not destroyed in combat, a mortar headd can continue operating for hundreds of years and is passed to a successor after a headdliner retires from service.
Some mortar headds have shown evidence of being alive. On a few occasions mortar headds have moved on their own volition and more than once the fatima copilot felt the emotions of the machine through the mental link. The higher grade, custom mortar headds more often show these traits.
Creators of these awesome machines are known as mortar headd meights and are afforded noble status in society. The services of skilled mortar headd meights are eagerly sought out by kings and prime ministers to give their nations an edge in warfare. Mortar headd maintenance is performed by specially trained mortar head meisters.
Development of the Mortar Headd
The primary weapons in large-scale conflicts in the Joker Galaxy used to be the Prowler Fighter and the planetary bomber. These small airborne vehicles carried buster weaponry capable of destroying large areas of land and countless lives. As time passed the motivations behind the fighting began to shift from destruction to subjugation. The land, people and resources of rivals’ territory became too valuable to risk destroying. New weapons were needed to occupy and defend conquered lands.
The first of these new weapons was the humanoid machine named "grand head." In JC 530 the grand head gave way to the machine messiah. This new weapon was powered by an ezlaser system - an external combustion engine that ran on solar light. These new "electric knights" were exceptional machines but extremely difficult to control. Their ability to maneuver almost instantaneously required the pilot to possess reflexes and coordination that could only be found in headdliners, descendants of genetically altered soldiers from the wars of a past age. These headdliners were capable of controlling the movements of the massive machines but the onboard systems such as radar and communications were too difficult to handle. Fatimas, genetically engineered beings closely resembling humans, were found to be capable (if designed properly) of having great computational abilities. When altered to include headdliner genetic material the new breed of fatimas were strong and quick enough to handle the load of systems operation for the pilot. In time, these formidable new weapons came to be known as mortar headds.
In the world of Five Star Stories the term "machine messiah" is reserved for relic mortar headds surviving from the distant past that contain technology much advanced over that which is available to Joker society.