Retainers provide the bulk of any Triad force, usually led by an experienced gang Boss. Dragonflies, Sumos and a range of other warriors provide support. Triad gangs are also likely to receive support from any VASA forces that may be operating in their sector.
The foot soldiers of the Triad gangs, these thugs and cutthroats are most often engaged in the business of the streets, fencing stolen goods, manipulating labour unions, or running a lucrative black market trade in everything from cyber-splice decks to human kidneys. Periodic bloody turf wars sharpen their fighting skills and this, coupled with their uncompromising code of honour, makes them fierce opponents—just so long as the rewards of a situation continue to outweigh its costs. Usual armament is either Gauss Rifle or Naginata pole-arm.
As the Triads have come into more open conflict with regular military forces, they have often adopted weaponry and tactics that the more traditionally minded view as somewhat dishonourable. Snipers are an example of this.
Triad Retainers armed with sniper rifles are increasingly common in any force. The long ranged support they provide is valued, though often begrudgingly.
Retainer Tiger-Claw Teams are increasingly seen providing anti-armour support to their clan brothers. The rocket launchers that they carry, nicknamed ‘Tiger-Claws’, are capable of destroying many heavily armoured targets with a single well-aimed shot. As with Snipers and other similar fighters that wield non-traditional weaponry, Tiger-Claw Teams tend to be recruited from lower ranking clan members.
Only the best rise to level of Triad Boss, those that posses the savvy of a corporate executive, the insight of a career diplomat, and the cold-blooded ruthlessness of a professional killer. Such individuals oversee criminal activities in a defined territory, commanding the respect of many retainers and families. They are proven leaders skilled in street skirmishing and brutal hand-to-hand combat.
While some Triad women master the arts of management and diplomacy, others receive intense mental and physical training in the esoteric arts of an ancient warrior tradition. The deadly Dragonflies best exemplify the Triads reliance on the old and new, practitioners of a millennia old martial art form they soar city skies on lightweight graviton wings similar to those favoured by VASA’s high-tech elites. Dragonflies are swift and ruthless killers, most often used as assassins.
VASA and the Triad clans enjoy an uneasy alliance, one of convenience. It is not in VASA’s long-term interests to give full aid to the Triads in Iskandria, and thus VASA’s arsenal of sophisticated high-tech weaponry will not be left in the hands of the criminal underworld. However, the Triads have their own methods, long traffickers in stolen technology and military hardware they posses many potent weapons and devices. The Oni class battlesuit is one such, used in the violent but ritualised gang wars that punctuate Triad politics its existence was a closely guarded secret by all the clans. It is clearly based on classified VASA Shogun designs, though it lacks the latter’s jump capability. The usual armament is a naginata or katana close combat weapon, backed up by an autogun mounted in the ‘head’ of the battlesuit.
Triad bosses live in constant danger of assassination, whether from the hired killers of another clan or the ambitious members of their own gang. In the complex web of family and group loyalty that is Triad society it is sometimes best to employ ‘outsiders,’ individuals who have no clan or family ties to interfere with their personal loyalty. The Sumo Bodyguards are such men, separated from their families in childhood and raised in special schools they are sold to any clan boss who can afford their services. Iron-muscled frames sheathed in mountains of fat, the Sumotori are the products of a strange bodybuilding regimen of force-feeding, hormone injections, and tortuous strength and endurance routines. With surprising speed they interpose themselves between their boss and potential threats, a living wall of unyielding flesh capable of sustaining grievous wounds. They are masters of unarmed combat, using mass and leverage to their advantage, though many Sumotori prefer the bone-crunching power of the kanabou, a weighted iron club.
Kabuki is an ancient stylised dance form of such complexity and nuance that only the most cultivated of aficionados can truly appreciate its subtleties. Revitalized and adapted for the tastes of the more traditional-minded Triad Bosses it has become an iconographic form of status entertainment in the criminal underworld, especially on Iskandria. Most performers of Kabuki theatre are professional dancers and actors, however a small and secretive cult of masked assassins also trains its members in Kabuki, treating the intricate gestures and extreme posturing of the dance as the basis for a martial art form. These Kabuki Dolls, as they are called, receive lifelong training in diverse arts, from assassination, protection, and diplomacy, to proficiency with exotic and traditional weapons like the naginata and battle-fan, as well as skill with a musical instrument, rhetorical excellence, and of course Kabuki dance. Triad bosses flaunt their Kabuki Doll escorts when in public, as there is no greater status symbol in underworld society, and accomplished Kabuki Dolls can command the price of a starship for a single evening’s entertainment—or a single, spectacular kill.
Dragon Rocket Launcher Teams signal the transformation of the Triads from an irregular underground force of gangsters to a field army capable of waging war in the streets of Iskandria. Dragon Rocket Launchers are easily fabricated, and simple to operate and manoeuvre; and these weapons provide valuable support for Triad infantry. Originally intended as a way to set fire to enemy held buildings, the Dragon Rocket Launcher is now being pressed into service in increasing numbers as a way to thwart the ever growing numbers of Koralon in the city.
Those retainers that distinguish themselves as more than street brawlers and petty criminals become part of a clan’s inner circle in the form of Hatamoto. These are the elite foot soldiers of a Triad clan, ferociously dedicated to their patrons, accomplished in the martial arts, and experienced in war. They form the private armies of top bosses and are paid as professional warriors rather than being assigned territories or gangs to run. Thus removed from the dirty business of organized crime, they instead spend their time perfecting their martial skills and cultivating a full range of meditative and artistic disciplines, and many Hatamoto have brought honour to their clan as poets or painters. These warriors are great respecters of tradition, and thus favour the weapons of their ancestors, the katana and naginata.
While Triad runners accelerating through the night streets of Iskandria on fragile, ultralight zip bikes may have been a common sight in the days before the Koralon Incursion, current conditions demand something better. The VASA Viper Wing road bikes are perfectly suited to the chaos of urban war, a fine balance between speed, manoeuvrability, and, due to their rugged suspension, all terrain capability. These bikes are ubiquitous on VASA garrison worlds, and the Triad gangs have had little difficulty in acquiring them for use by their elite soldiers.
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