VAF-8 ALPHA FIGHTER
stats_vaf8.gifThe VAF-8 Transatmospheric Alpha Fighters were the standard Veritech fighters of the REF during the Third Invid War. Designed on Tirol by the engineers of Project Shadowchaser, the VAF-8 was the first original mecha designed from the ground up around the new cloaking technology developed to counter the Invid protoculture tracking technology. The original SF-7 Cloaking Device had been outfitted on a small group of [[[mecha|mecha, mostly VAF-6 Alphas and a few Mk III Gladiator Destroids. These new mecha (the VAF-7A Alphas and Mk IV Gladiators) were mainly technical experiments and were not really intended for mass production or use in [[combat|combat]]]. However, the push to equip the REF Jupiter mission with the latest technology necessitated these mecha being included with the mission's warships, and most of the prototype units were destroyed during the final battles of the Second Invid War. heerobackground.jpg
During the lull following the Jupiter Mission's departure from Tirol, the VAF-8 Alpha and VBF-2 Beta Fighters were perfected and put into production. The VAF-8 was intended to be the next main fighter for the REF, and as such was designed with mass-production in mind. The main design of the fighter centered around two brand new systems in the REF arsenal, the SF-10 Shadow Cloaking Device and the FF-3000 Fusion/Protoculture Variable Turbine Engines. The SF-10 was a more advanced version of the shadow cloak intended to be more reliable and cheaper to produce, although cloaking device production still remained the bottleneck of the VAF-8 production line. The FF-3000 was a new high-efficiency engine designed for use on transatmospheric fighters. The engine contained a variable thrust system that could use either air intakes (like a ramjet) or internal fuel supplies (like a rocket) to produce thrust. This made the mecha transatmospheric; the Alphas could be launched from an orbiting starship, engage in orbital combat, enter a planet's atmosphere to engage ground targets, and then escape the planet's atmosphere to return to the starship after the mission is complete. This engine fit in well with REF analyst predictions that most future mecha fighting would be fought in terms of orbital-to-ground engagements. Other improvements to the VAF-8 included an increased SRM load, wing hardpoints for variable missile loads, and the new GU-25 multipurpose gun pod.

After the Jupiter mission failed to report back from Earth, the threat of continued warfare with the Invid began to resurface. Mass production of the VAF-8 began in 2039, as the REF rebuilt and prepared for another possible conflict. Initially there were 3 different models of the VAF-8; the VAF-8A, VAF-8J, and VAF-8S. Although nearly identical in capabilities, the VAF-8A was intended for use by standard pilots, the VAF-8J by low-ranking officers, and the VAF-8S by squadron leaders. During the planning for the Icarus Recon Mission in 2042, Colonels John Korcheck and Roger Harris requested a special version of the VAF-8 for reconnaissance and electronic warfare. The REF R&D department developed the VAF-8R Recon Alpha Fighter to fulfill that request. The VAF-8R was slightly different from previous versions of the VAF-8, mostly because of the advanced sensor systems equipped on the Alpha. In addition, the VAF-8R was equipped with a copilot's station directly behind the pilot's station. This copilot was not actually intended to help fly the plane, but instead served to collect and correlate the massive amounts of data from the mecha's sensors. These copilots, called Recon Equipment Operators (REOs), were mostly intelligence officers who would analyze data and communicate it back to the command ship while the pilot and his escorts engaged the enemy and protected the VAF-8R.

Hundreds of VAF-8s were produced for the REF Icarus and Prometheus missions. Due to the rush for production, many VAF-8s were sent into service without the SF-10 cloaking device, which could simply not be produced fast enough to keep up with demand. Roughly 60% of the fighters used by Icarus and Prometheus were not equipped with SF-10 cloaking devices. Despite this flaw, the VAF-8s served well during the Third Invid War. Even with the blockade created by the Invid Orbiting Hives, many VAF-8 Alphas made it to Earth to bolster the resistance forces there. However, attrition prevented the numbers on Earth from ever becoming too high, as the Invid blockade made spares and replacement parts hard to come by on occupied Earth.

The VAF-8 served as the major fighter of the REF (and later the Robotech Guardian Forces) from 2040 up until 2058, when it was replaced by the VAF-9 Mark II. Even after production ceased, the VAF-8 remained a common fighter inthe RGF arsenal for decades, commonly seen throughout Sentinels Alliance territory until almost the end of the 21st century.

The VAF-8 series Veritechs have the sleek, angular lines of the VAF-6 Alpha series, but are equipped with swing wings (as in the VF-1 series fighter) and redesigned leg/engine units. The head of the mecha is located ventrally in fighter and Guardian modes, and each wing contains a single hardpoint for variable missile loads, both similar to the older VF-1 Veritechs. The VAF-8 series marks the return of the REF to distinctive head styles to indicate rank. Though the head-mounted lasers are exactly the same for each model, the head shapes are different and recognizable for each version of the Alpha. In addition, each fighter has highlight colors and identification numbers painted in different colors by model. The VAF-8A is color is blue; the VAF-8J is red; VAF-8S is green. The rest of the mecha's color scheme is usually based on where the unit is stationed; i.e. space Veritechs are often painted flat black, desert Veritechs are painted with a light tan camouflage, etc. Some of the shadow-equipped models are painted black with red canopies, perhaps out of nostalgia or a whimsical sense of humor on the part of the factory technicians. The VAF-8R has a slightly elongated and raised nose compartment to accommodate the additional REO crew member, and a shoulder-mounted sensor unit that contains many of the advanced sensor systems for the Recon Alpha. VAF-8Rs are usually highlighted in white to distinguish them from 8As, 8Js, and 8Ss. The VAF-8R uses the same head design as the VAF-8J Alpha.

SCHEMATICSvaf8pict.gif
Click on the icon to the left to view some pictures from the REF VAF-8 Alpha Fighter maintenance guide, document REF-5482-344-4387.

RPG STATS
Vehicle Type: Transatomspheric Stealth Veritech Fighter
Models: VAF-8A (Standard Model)
VAF-8J (Low-Ranking Officer Model)
VAF-8R (Reconnaissance Model)
VAF-8S (Squadron Leader Model)
Crew: One

M.D.C. BY LOCATION

(1) Head 75
Head Lasers (2) 30
(2) Shoulder Sensor Unit (8R only) 55
(3) Main Body 400
Shoulders/Missile Pods (2) 100 each
Forearms/Missile Pods (2) 100 each
Hands (2) 60 each
Upper Legs (2) 120 each
Lower Legs/Thrusters (2) 120 each
Wings (2) 100 each
Tail Fins (2) 60 each
Reinforced Pilot's Compartment 200
Reinforced REO's Compartment (8R only) 150
Wing Weapon Pods (2) 50 each
GU-25 Gun Pod 100

Destroying the head will destroy all optical enhancements and cause penalties of -2 to strike, parry, and dodge. Main communications is also destroyed for the fighter, though a backup radio system provides the veritech with short-range radio communications. Radar is stored in another area of the plane and is unaffected.
Depleting the MDC of the sensor unit on the VAF-8R will destroy many of the Recon Veritech's advanced sensor systems. The XR-A Doppler Radar, Sonar, and Nightvision Optics are all lost.
Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will shut the mecha down completely, rendering it useless. Be sure to note the special rules regarding failure of the SF-10 cloaking device, listed in the Equipment section.
SPECIFICATIONS
Jet Mode: Mach 3.7 (2479 mph/3989 kmph) maximum.
Jet Cruising: About Mach 1.5 (1005 mph/1617 kmph)
Guardian Mode: Hover stationary to Mach 1.5 (1005 mph/1617 kmph)
Battloid Mode, Flying: Hover Stationary to about 400 mph (644 kmph).
Battloid Mode, Running: 180 mph (290 kmph)
Battloid Mode, Leaping: 100 ft (30.5 m) up or across without booster assistance. 350 ft (106.8 m) with booster jets' assistance.

Height: 34 ft (10.2 m) in Battloid mode
21 ft (6.3 m) in Guardian mode
15 ft (4.5 m) in Jet mode
Width: 13 ft (3.9 m) in Battloid mode
23 ft (6.9 m) in Jet and Guardian modes (14 ft/4.2 m with wings in swept position)
Length: 39 ft (11.7 m) in Jet mode
32 ft (9.6 m) in Guardian mode
Weight: VAF-8A, J, S: 11.6 tons without missiles, 17.2 tons fully loaded.
VAF-8R: 13.0 tons without missiles, 18.6 tons fully loaded.
Cargo: VAF-8A, J, S: 8 cubic foot compartment behind cockpit for personal items. VAF-8R: 3 cubic foot compartment behind REO's compartment. Cyclone spaces can also be used for spare storage and can hold up to 500 lbs.

Main Engine: FF-3000 Fusion/Protoculture turbine in each leg
Range: 16 Protoculture cells will give the mecha an active combat life of about two years. The mecha can operate on half as many cells (8) for 12 months, but maximum speed is reduced by half and the mecha is at -1 to strike. As a last resort, the mecha can operate solely on fusion power, but maximum speed is reduced by 75%, the head lasers cease to function, and the mecha is at -2 to strike and -2 to dodge.

WEAPON SYSTEMS
MM-70B MULTI-MISSILE SYSTEM: Similar to the MM-60 missile launcher system used in the VAF-6 and VAF-7 Alpha Fighters, the MM-70B retains the same electronic systems but can include an additional 10 SRMs due to the increased size of the VAF-8. A total of 70 short range missiles are included; Shoulders: 8 each, Forearms: 12 each (6 on both sides of the arm), Lower Legs: 15 each ( 3 launchers on each leg).

Primary Purpose: Assault
Secondary Purpose: Anti-Aircraft
Missile Type: Standard RDF short-range missiles, usually high explosive, armor piercing, or plasma. A typical combat mix of missiles is 35 armor piercing, 25 high explosive or plasma, 8 fragmentation, 2 smoke.
Mega-Damage: Varies with missile type; typically 2D4x10 M.D.
Rate of Fire: One at a time or in volleys of two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty or all. The number of volleys a character can fire per melee is equal to his/her attacks. Remember, a volley, regardless of the number of missiles, counts as one attack.
Range: Varies with missile type; 1 to 5 miles.
Payload: A maximum capacity of 70 short-range missiles. Mini, medium and long range missiles can not be used.

HEAD MOUNTED TWR-25 PULSE LASERS (2): 2 tirolian-built lasers are mounted on the head of the VAF-8 and can be used in any mode; fighter, guardian, or battloid (similar to the old VF-1 Veritech). In combat the lasers are limited to the number of attacks the pilot has, but they can also be used in a continuous beam, making them useful for cutting or demolitions.

Primary Purpose: Assault/Defense Weapon
Secondary Purpose: Tool for Cutting
Mega-Damage: 4D6, or 2D6 if only one is fired. The lasers can also be fired in a long continuous blast that lasts the entire round and does 2D6x10 M.D. However, this mode is unsuitable for combat purposes and imposes a -2 to strike rolls to attack moving targets.
Range: 4000 ft
Payload: Unlimited

WING HARDPOINTS: The VAF-8 has two hardpoints (1 per wing) which can be used to mount missiles and other ordinance for heavy assaults and bombardments. Each hardpoint can mount 1 long range missile, 3 medium range missiles, or one pod of mini-missiles. These missiles do NOT have to be dropped prior to transformation into battloid mode; however, the missiles cannot be fired in battloid mode because they are covered by the tail fins of the mecha.
NOTE: VAF-8s found in the field will typically NOT be equipped with missiles on their hardpoints, as these missiles are usually used up within the first few minutes of combat.

LONG RANGE MISSILES
Primary Purpose: Heavy Assault
Secondary Purpose: Anti-Spacecraft
Missile Type: Standard REF long-range missiles, usually proton, reflex heavy and reflex multi-warhead.
Mega-Damage: Varies with missile type.
Rate of Fire: One or two.
Range: Varies with missile type; 500 to 1800 miles.
Payload: One per hardpoint; two maximum.
MEDIUM RANGE MISSILES
Primary Purpose: Heavy Assault
Secondary Purpose: Anti-Mecha
Missile Type: Standard REF medium-range missiles, usually high explosive, armor piercing, or multi-warhead.
Mega-Damage: Varies with missile type.
Rate of Fire: One, two, three, four, or six (all).
Range: Varies with missile type; 50 to 80 miles.
Payload: Three per hardpoint; up to 6 maximum.
MINI-MISSILE PODS
Primary Purpose: Assault/Defense
Secondary Purpose: Anti-Personnel
Missile Type: Any except plasma. Armor-Piercing is standard issue.
Mega-Damage: Varies with mini-missile type; usually about one mile.
Rate of Fire: Volleys of two, four, or eight
Range: Varies with missile type
Payload: 15 per launcher; up to 30 maximum.

STEALTH RECON PODS (2, typically used by the VAF-8R): The VAF-8R Recon Veritech is usually equipped with two special electronic warfare suites instead of missiles on the wing hardpoints. Called Stealth Recon Pods (SRPs), these pods are actually remote-controlled robot vehicles used for data gathering and reconnaissance, spy satellites, or beacons. The SRPs are powered by miniaturized fusion reactors and contain NO protoculture systems, making them undetectable by Invid protoculture sensors. The SRPs contain an internal antigravity engine that allows them to maneuver at will after being launched, or even return to the VAF-8R after completion of a mission. The SRPs must be controlled by a human operator (usually the REO) at all times, as they do not possess any form of artificial intelligence guidance. Like the missiles, the SRPs do not need to be ejected before the Recon Alpha converts into battloid mode.

Primary Purpose: Intelligence-Gathering
Pod M.D.C.: 15
Range: Essentially indefinite (uses nuclear energy source). Data transmission systems have a 400 mile range, which can be extended using satellite or other transmission systems. Speed: 200 mph max; cruising speed while gathering intelligence is usually only 50-100 mph (any faster blurs the images)
Bonuses: +2 to dodge
Payload:
Optical Sensor Packet including telescopic (4x), infrared, and
Radar Sensor Unit. Range: 40 miles. May track up to 30 targets simultaneously.
Motion Detector/Collision Warning System. Close Range: 200 feet. Helps the SRP operator avoid collisions and plot locations of pieces of debris too small to be picked up by radar.
Laser Targeting System. Range: 100 miles. Aids in pinpointing enemy targets precisely so long-range missiles may be fired from the Beta or other planes to take them out.
Telemetry Computer: Analyzes and organizes sensor output for transmission back to the Alpha (or whatever site is analyzing the data). Transmissions are scrambled and broadcast on low-band frequencies to avoid enemy detection/decryption.
Radio Communications: Used primarily for relaying sensor readings back to the Alpha, but may be reprogrammed for use as a satellite relay system. Range: 400 miles.

GU-25 25mm QUAD-BARREL HAND CANNON: The VAF-8 Alphas are armed with a new miniaturized gun pod, resembling a giant Ingram MAC-10 for mecha. The new pod is less bulky, less unwieldy, and can hold more ammunition than the GU-XX. Two may be mounted and used, but one is standard-issue.

Primary Purpose: Assault/Defense
Range: 4000 feet (1200 m)
Mega-Damage: Does 3D6 MD short burst, 6D6 medium burst, 1D6x10 full melee burst.
Rate of Fire: Short or medium bursts count as one attack. The pilot can fire as many bursts as his combined hand to hand attacks per melee. A full melee burst takes the place of all other attacks.
Payload: Can fire 48 short bursts, 24 medium bursts (equal to 2 short bursts), or 12 full melee bursts (equal to 4 short bursts).
NOTE: Four GU-25 ammo clips can be stored in the legs (two clips in each). Reloading requires two melee actions.

OPTIONAL USE OF ANY OTHER GUN POD. Although almost always assigned a GU-25, the VAF-8 series can use any mecha gun pod (past or present) if needed and available.

OPTIONAL HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT. Punch does 1D6 M.D., Body Block does 1D6 M.D., Kick does 1D6 M.D., Leap Kick does 2D6 M.D., Stomp does 1D4 M.D., but is limited to targets no more than 12 feet tall. Body Flip and Body Block does 1D6 M.D.

STANDARD EQUIPMENT
SF-10 SHADOW CLOAKING DEVICE: VAF-8 series Alpha Fighters are designed to use the SF-10 Cloaking Device, the new standard cloaking device for the REF. A much improved version of the original SF-7 cloaking device, this version incorporates changes that makes the device smaller and more affordable to manufacture. The device still operates like older versions; rendering the mecha invisible to all electronic forms of detection, including radar, Invid Protoculture sensors, and microwaves. Only light- based detection systems, such as optical and laser tracking will detect the mecha.
The SF-10 is the first cloaking device to feature THREE modes of operation instead of only two: ON, in which the device operates normally; OFF, in which the device is shut off and the mecha is detectable by all forms of electronic detection; and SAFETY, in which the device emits a "4th dimensional blip," which is detectable by other REF mecha's collision warning systems. The SAFETY mode is used for close formations where mecha proximity could potentially cause disastrous collisions.

The SF-10 is slightly more reliable than its predecessor. Once the main body MDC of the fighter has been reduced to 200 M.D. or less, there is a cumulative 10% chance of the SF-10 failing for every 20 points of damage beyond that. For example,there is a 10% chance of the device failing when the main body MDC is between 180-200, 20% when the MDC is between 160-180, 30% when the MDC is between 140-160, etc. Once a cloaking device fails it CANNOT be repaired; it must be replaced by another working SF-10, either from a salvaged fighter or a parts depot.

BONUSES: (ON and SAFETY modes) The Veritech always gets first attack in the first round of combat. After that, the mecha has a +3 on all initiative rolls. Also provides an additional +2 to dodge, and +1 to strike.

LASER-RESISTANT CERAMIC COATING: A Southern Cross invention, this coating scrambles laser tracking and reduces laser damage by half (lasers ONLY).

RADAR: The VAF-8 is equipped with a dual radar system. The first system is a long range radar that has a range of over 100 miles (160 km) and can track up to 25 targets simultaneously within that range. The problem with the system, however, is that the powerful long distance radar waves tend to give away the position of the craft; attackers using radar-guided weaponry have a +2 to hit the VAF-8 while the system is on.
The second radar is a combat radar that has a range of 10 miles (16 km) and can identify and track up to 100 targets simultaneously. This radar uses frequency hopping and a number of other techniques to prevent its emissions from giving away the position of the VAF-8.

NOTE: In general, Invid do NOT use radar-tracking weapons.

RADIO COMMUNICATIONS: Wide band and directional radio and video telecast capabilities. Range is 600 miles (945 km) or can be boosted indefinitely via satellite relay.

LASER COMMUNICATIONS: Long-range, directional communication system. Effective range: 100,000 miles (157,500 km).

COMBAT COMPUTER: Calculates, stores, and transmits data onto the cockpit computer screen or heads-up display (H.U.D.) of the pilot's helmet. Patches in with targeting computer.

TARGETING COMPUTER: Assists in the tracking of enemy targets and is partly responsible for the VAF-8's high strike bonus.

LASER TARGETING SYSTEM: 100 mile (160 km) range. Assists in the striking of enemy targets and is partly responsible for the VAF-8's high strike bonus.

MOTION DETECTOR AND COLLISION WARNING SYSTEM: 500 ft (152.5 m) range. Sounds an alarm and red light warns pilot of impending collision and/or immediate target.

TELESCOPIC OPTICAL ENHANCEMENT: 2000 ft (609 m) range. 20 ft (6.1 m) field of vision.

HEAD SPOTLIGHTS: 600 ft (182 m) range, normal light.

INFRARED SPOTLIGHT: 2000 ft (609 m) range. The infrared spotlight sits in the front of the sensor head. It emits an infrared light beam that is invisible to the normal eye. However, an enemy with infrared optics can easily see the beam of light and track it to the Veritech. Smoke impairs vision/beam.

THERMO-IMAGER: 2000 ft (609 m) range. A special optical heat sensory unit that allows the infrared radiation of warm objects to be converted into a visible image. It also enables the pilot to see in darkness, shadows and through smoke.

EXTERNAL AUDIO PICKUP: 300 ft (91.5 m) range. A sound amplification listening system that can pick up a whisper 300 ft away.

EXTERNAL VIDEO SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM: 600 ft (183 m) range. A video camera system with telescopic capabilities (8x magnification) is built into the head. The video images can be relayed to a cockpit monitor and stored on removable video disks. Maximum disk capacity is 24 hours. Disks can be erased and reused.

EJECTOR SEAT: In case of an emergency, the pilot can be instantly ejected. In battloid mode, the pilot is ejected out of the mecha's back.

CE-1 CYCLONE EJECTOR SYSTEM: Also in case of an emergency, the VR-135 Forager Cyclone will also be ejected from the doomed mecha. This system is activated automatically when the pilot pulls the ejection lever. The cyclone will deploy parachutes once outside of the mecha and then land within 1D6x1000 feet of the pilot. This system was installed to allow pilots to retrieve their cyclones even after their veritechs had been destroyed.

SELF-DESTRUCT: A last ditch effort to prevent the capture of a Veritech unit (usually preceded by the pilot's ejection from the Veritech) is self-destruction. Explosive damage is fairly contained. A VAF-8 Alpha without missiles (or few) does 2D6 x 10 M.D., but a Veritech with all or most of its missiles (35 or more) will do 2D6 x 100 M.D. to a 50 ft (15.2 m) radius.

SMOKE SCREEN SYSTEM: The VAF-8 Assault Alpha can emit a thick cloud of smoke from its rear to create immediate cover. The smoke screen system can discharge a maximum of 4 bursts before needing replacement (smoke missiles can be converted to function in the system). Each burst will cover a 60 ft area (19.8 m).

HEAT AND RADIATION SHIELDS: Special shielding prevents the penetration of life-threatening heat and radiation.

INDEPENDENT OXYGEN AND CIRCULATORY SYSTEM: Built-in tanks provide 48 hours of continuous oxygen. A special recycling system can keep the air breathable for a maximum of one week.

SURVIVAL GEAR: The VAF-8 includes a VR-135 Forager Cyclone, four weeks' compact emergency rations, an emergency signal beacon, three first-aid kits, and a life raft. There is space for an energy rifle to be attached to each ejector seat, and the pilot can of course carry a side-arm.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR VAF-8R RECON VERITECHS
Because of their primary duty as the main intelligence gathering mecha for the Icarus forces, the VAF-8R Alphas were equipped with additional sensor systems not found on standard VAF-8 Veritechs. Most of these systems are included in the external sensor unit on the shoulder of the mecha, and loss of this unit will seriously reduce the VAF-8R's reconnaissance capabilities.

XR-A EXTERNAL DOPPLER TRACKING RADAR: 300 mile (480 km) range, and can identify and track up to 140 targets simultaneously. However, the powerful waves of this radar create a tremendous radar image on enemy screens, giving enemies with radar tracking capabilities a +4 (!) to hit the Veritech.

SONAR: 20 mile (32 km) range underwater. Can identify and track up to 30 targets simultaneously.

RECONNAISSANCE CORRELATION COMPUTER: Operated by the Recon Equipment Operator (REO), this high-tech computer system analyzes reconnaissance data and projects it on the REO's screens. This system is also tied in with the Combat and Targeting computers of the mecha; the REO decides what data should receive the pilot's attention.

NIGHT VISION OPTICS: 4000 ft (1812 m) range. An image intensifier that is passive, meaning it emits no light of its own, but relies on ambient light which is electronically amplified to give a visible picture. Night vision can not work in absolute darkness (but infrared and thermo-imagers can).

TELESCOPIC IMAGE SENSORS: Can magnify a visual image up to 1,000 times.

"BLACK-BOX" TELEMETRY RECORD SYSTEM: A special reusable laserdisc recording system records all visuals and data collected by the REO from the Alpha's sensor systems for later analysis. Each disc can contain up to 36 hours worth of complete telemetry, including visuals, audio, and sensor readings from all instruments. The recorder is specially shielded to survive a crash (M.D.C. 100) and can be recovered later in the event that the VAF-8R is shot down.

SEISMIC SENSOR SYSTEM: When on the ground, sensors in the VAF-8's legs are used in concert with the laser targeting system to read the passage of vehicles or major troop movement, as well as natural and unnatural seismic activity, within a range of 20 miles (greater in case of large vibrations). The reconnaissance correlation computer can read out, with a 70% probability, the approximate types and numbers of troops/vehicles, or the Richter Scale ranking of the seismic disturbance and distance to its epicenter. This system was often used to detect the location of Invid Genesis Pits during the war.

EJECTOR SEAT: Both the pilot and the REO are equipped with ejection seats in case of emergency. These seats may eject in either fighter or battloid mode.

SURVIVAL GEAR: The VAF-8R includes one Cyclone cycle (the REO must walk), four weeks' compact emergency rations, an emergency signal beacon, three first-aid kits, and a life raft. There is space for an energy rifle to be attached to each ejector seat, and the pilot and REO can of course each carry a side-arm with them.
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