Improved Mechanical Locomotive Steampack M1861 (IMLS)
“These contraptions are squeaky, noisy, stinky and spend more time in repairs than in battle. They can offer nothing over the dashing gallantry of true cavalry, but I would take a hundred with my men.”
Colonel James Ewell Brown Stuart
The American Civil War is witnessing an arms race, both to prevail over the northern or southern opponent and to best the many unnatural menaces arising all over the continent. Doctor Atticus Johann Weintraub leads the Confederate technological effort, a genius engineer-inventor who excels in the fields of steam, hydromechanics, propulsed mechanics and explosives.
Weintraub has improved the power output and design of steam engines replacing plain water for chemical admixtures with a lower boiling point and pre-injecting high-pressure vapour into the circuit, which dramatically increases the steam cycle efficiency. He has harnessed the power of a recent discovery: the petroleum, a fuel that burns much hotter than coal, thus greatly reducing the time needed to achieve full throttle. All these advances have allowed him to miniaturize massive engines to the size of a backpack, allowing foot soldiers to bring them into the battlefield.
To take advantage of his technological marvel, Weintraub has engineered a manner of propelled metal frame that can be worn as a sort of animated armor allowing the soldier inside great feats of speed and strength, albeit not without great physical strain (and quite a deal of risk, as their steampacks are highly volatile). Luckily, the southern army is well fitted with strong, young men eager to dashingly brave the peril of being pioneers with these new tools of war.
These contraptions are not exempt of downsides. They are awkward and exhausting to wear, limiting the time a soldier can use them, requiring expensive maintenance and a team of especially trained workers to help the man donning and removing them Beyonfd the maintenance tima and cost, they can’t be easily refueled, limiting furthermore their active time. Also, they rely on the engine pressure, which often goes below operative levels after great exertions, forcing a pause as it builds-up again. To partially solve this, Weintraub has designed a canister filled with highly pressurized gas that brings a boost in the steam circuit (and a flashy backdraft), so the soldier can quickly rush back into action at a key moment.
The IMLS (Improved Mechanical Locomotive Steampack) M1861 is designed and built for speed and close work. It turns foot soldiers into a cavalry force allowing them to run as fast as a horse and jump great distances. Albeit much more expensive to field than the animals, they provide smaller, harder target to hit when facing enemy fire. Military actions using the IMLS produce more reliable outcomes as they depends only on man and not in beast, andhis jumping capacity provides a key element in assaulting elevated enemy positions and fortifications. The IMLS “rider” needs one hand on the controls, limiting him to small firearms such as pistols and sawn-off shotguns. Nevertheless, he is lethal at short distances, quickly closing before the muskets and rifles can exploit their superior range.
Despite these apparatus’ drawbacks many officers request them for their operations, especially in the small scale, where these men-in-the-machine easily overcome the common soldier. A mere few of determined soldiers clad in IMLSs can bound among the foe, blasting in every direction as the enemy crumbles on all sides.