For The Honor of the Second

The drone stood in the hangar, its blunt nose and forward-swept wings scarred with the black lines of kinetic strikes and near-misses with explosive-tipped missiles, the capped remnant of one sensory pod dangling uselessly from its side.

“For great valor in the face of the enemy,” the Wing Commander read, “when on Theater Elapsed Day 17 of the Liir Conflict the Second Squadron off CS Calencine Upreaching was ambushed by a numerically superior force, six squadrons of Liirian wingdrones. While englobed by the hostile force, the order to immediately retreat to low orbital positions was given, although with the expectation of heavy losses.”

“In defiance of standard procedures for such circumstances and the order as given, unit Calencine-2-18 of the Wing remained in the battlespace to cover the retreat of its fellows, utilizing innovative tactics to draw the attention of the Liirian wingdrones to itself and avoid destruction, allowing the majority of the Second Squadron to escape from the ambush with only minor damage.”

“Wingdrone Calencine-2-18’s innovation and valor saved his squadron and defeated the ambush laid for them, and reflects the highest traditions of the Imperial Navy and the Military Service.”

A small utility spider scuttled across the dais, and in a shower of sparks and the thunder of applause, welded the silver medal to the side of the drone’s carapace.

Calencine-2-18 itself, not being designed to be sophont, thought very little during the ceremony.

But not nothing.

Trope-a-Day: Attack Drone

Attack Drone: Hell, yes!  From personal protection drones, through the combat drones that make up the larger part of pretty much any fireteam (half-a-dozen slaved to each mechagrunt), through the wingdrones accompanying aerospace fighters, to the Imperial Navy’s AKV-drones, the Imperial military (and mercenaries, and law enforcement, and private security) does love its drones.

Now, some might say that being AI controlled, these aren’t drones, these are Mecha Mooks.  Well, no, those are one step up the chain.  Those are the autonomous mechagrunts and AKVs that the drones are slaved to, and which in turn answer to the actual people in the command chain.  This isn’t mere force multiplication, this is force raising-to-the-power-of!

And that has been the name of the game ever since they were big, lumbering, steam-powered things with Stannic cogitator brains.