Department of HumanitiesPsychology/Sociology Section
For: Chief EngineerSubject:: Acheron's void.
How many well-lanned berks know that the void of Acheron is navigable? Not many, I suspect. Yet there are flocks of birds that soar through it. I've had the opportunity to fly between cubes. Let me assure you, it is a sight to behold. Cubes in all directions for as far as a berk can spy.
So what's this have to do with Acheron and the war machine? Well, there are several reasons why a single bird in flight is a bad omen. Either dragons or some other airborne predator is near, or some other horrors that may reside in the void are floating by. The battles in the skies led some canny cutter to figure out that, through the manipulation of spells, and possible through the help of the Arcane, could build a fighting force capable of causing massive amounts of damage.
It wasn't long before the armies of the air sprang up. They had one single-minded goal amongst them: conquest and dominance of Acheron. Soon, debris from the battles of the air proliferated the spaces between the cubes. The lanes of passage in flight were clogged with the flotsam and jetsam of wars no one could win. There was a period in Acheron's history where collisions between cubes were just a secondary concern compared to the rain of waste in the skies above. Reports of this time say that you could visibly see the path of a cube through the void as is cut through the trash.
Present day tactics differ in that the forces are more structured and are primarily supplements to the ground forces. See, the commanders finally realized that you can't hold the air if you don't have any ground to control. So, when the great houses fight each other, you can be assured that they will use elements from their air corps to bolster and strengthen their own fighting forces. Air support has the great benefit of destroying enemy troops with the risk to your own. And so the battle for supremacy in the skies lingers on. Airborne troops cannot benefit their unit unless they have eliminated those of the enemy.
There are so many variations to airborne vehicles that I can't go through them all and effectively describe them to you in this one paragraph. Airborne tactics would fill a tome all its own. However there are a few basic styles: winged, platforms & balloons. Winged craft are designed for maximum stability with speed. Platforms are designed to transport troops and goods. Balloons are primarily spotter units who report back what the enemy is shaping up into.
Airborne tactics has also given rise to two special styles of troops unique to the skies themselves: "ace fighter pilots" that man the winged attack craft and aerotroopers. Aerotroopers serve as a special form of light infantry troop, yet they have been trained in airborne attack techniques. They also perform such maneuvers as the "airborne assault" where they drop from their perches in the sky to wreak havoc upon a military force using a "surgical strike" to root out potential problem units and devastate them with a gruesome efficiency.
Airborne troops pride themselves upon their effective use of spear, lance and javelin along with bows and the sword. Other weapons used by the air corps are "black pudding bombs" (they are little more than a sack with a black pudding in it), darts, oils, Greek fire, ballistae mounted in the noses of winged craft, and even the rare jettison, a form of "mass driver" which drives a mass forward at horrendous speeds and instantly crushing it's target without mercy or question. They are deadly accurate and can clear swaths through the largest of armies, yet they take large amounts of materials and are agonizingly slow to load. It is a weapon that works best as a psychological terror, rather than a reliable, steady rate-of-fire weapon like catapults and archers are.
The hidden terrors of Acheron's void are of little match to the crack crews of the great houses and have even come to fear all flying craft. Only the intelligent beasts of the air dare to take their chances against the well-armed and well-defended craft. This avoidance of the airpowers has allowed the cubehopping campaign take on a whole new aspect. While it will never truly replace ground cube-hoppers, it does allow the armies of the air to conquer bits of Acheron -- one cube at a time.