Kato Strike Mech
Kato Strike Mech
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The United States Army sought new war machines of all types as the year 2300 approached. They were to incorporate a century’s worth of new technologies and design ideas to allow the Army to outgun all their foes. One of their primary wishes for the strike mech trials was that the new design use a particle accelerator gun slaved directly to a powerful nuclear reactor. It was judged that a single one of these weapons would make the design capable of destroying any enemy mech, and they were right. But they wanted a cheap mech and maneuverable mech too, and design after design failed the mech trials either due to being too slow, two fragile, or numerous other issues.
The Army began to wonder if they would ever find a suitable design when a small firm from New Japan sent them the Kato. The Kato’s price tag was far outside that envisioned by the Army 2300 Project, but it carried the required particle accelerator gun. It was also as fast as lighter scout mechs, and carried comparable armor to many main battle mechs. Rather than veto the design without further consideration, the Army chose to run the Kato through the tests. The Kato passed them all with flying colors and so the Army chose to purchase them in limited numbers. The Army required several changes before they would purchase it for general deployment though.
The original Kato sported electronic countermeasures, twin samurai swords, and aerodynamic fins that allowed it improved control while in flight. When added to the required particle cannon, this made the Kato a deadly close range combatant. The test pilot named it Leonardo after the famous sword-wielding superhero of his childhood and the name stuck. He often fired the particle cannon while closing to melee range, and then would use the swords he named “slice” and “dice” to take the opposing mechs apart in true Japanese anime style.
The final production model dispensed with the swords and aerodynamic fins and replaced the expensive power plant with a far more cost effective one. Many consider the final design to be nearly as effective as the first, while being substantially cheaper to build and purchase. This standard Kato soon began replacing the older strike mechs in the service, and by the time The War began we had a sold cadre of new Katos ready to engage the enemy.
Katos typically deploy in platoons of four mechs and use supportive fire while attempting to avoid detection similar to infantry units. They rarely engage more powerful tanks in pitched battle, but Kato platoons have been known to harass their flanks and even swarm single tanks left behind by their brethren. They met their greatest test during the Hyades Campaign as they often performed orbital drops behind Taro platoons and were tasked with engaging targets the scout mechs found. They helped keep the Chinese and Shang defenders off balance while main battle mechs and tanks landed and began major invasion duties behind them. Loses were high, but the Chinese learned to fear the sound of incoming Katos.
The variants of the Leonardo series also saw use in the United States Army, though were generally limited to command mechs or special forces. They often carried pulsed laser arrays, improved electronic warfare systems, and sometimes even particle boosters for the main cannon that made them even more dangerous. They also often used different types of swords or other physical weapons that gave them unique attacks compared to the standard mech. It is unsurprising that nearly all New Japanese Katos are these more capable versions.