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Combat Equipment Kit of the Ziru Sirka Infantry

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted to the TML in 2006 and was reprinted in the May/June 2023 issue.

Introduction

The Ziru Sirka was the first starfaring race to establish faster-than-light travel since the Ancients destroyed themselves. The Ziru Sirka stood for several thousand years by establishing and maintaining a rigid, jobs-based caste system, but one of the less well known aspects was their equally rigid equipment standards. The Ziru Sirka found out what pieces of equipment worked for a given job, then produced it as a standardized design on a thousand worlds, and almost never modified it.

On Earth, very few people were satisfied by the status quo. Locked in on a single world, countries, companies and individuals competed constantly, always experimenting, changing and “tweaking” products and services. While this had certain benefits, it also meant excessive waste and huge duplication of effort.

As a consequence, during the early period of the Interstellar Wars, when forces from multiple Terran states invaded a Ziru Sirka world it was not uncommon to find the various forces using different weapons and equipment, as well as different radios; often, the various forces could not even communicate effectively, due to a lack of a common language!

It is little wonder that many of the surviving notes and journals of Ziru Sirka field officers are somewhat wild and disjointed, speaking of multiple races invading their planet (most Terran armies of the period wore signifcantly-different uniforms). Indeed, until well into the Fourth Interstellar War, many Ziru Sirka officers were convinced that they faced several different space-faring races rather than one.

In contrast, Terran forces never knew what to expect when hitting a defended Ziru Sirka world: either the defence would be poorly-led, and result in a walk-over, or it would be competently-led, resulting in a long slug-fest, as Ziru Sirka infantry units hung on for extended periods, drawing on long-cached supplies.

This article will explore one aspect of that logistical base: the standard personal infantry kit. This is important because these items were so well made, and were made in such quantites, that intact and usuable supply caches may still be found throughout the Third Imperium’s territories to this day.

The Kit

The ZS infantryman of 2200AD (Terran calender) was little different from his Terran counterpart of the preceding one hundred Terran years.

He was equipped with a 650mm semi-automatic rifle1, firing a 100-grain projectile from a fixed, 10-round rotary magazine fed by 10-round charger clips through a chrome-lined barrel from a roller-locked breech. The “iron sights” were graded to 1000 meters. A bayonet with a fine, 10cm blade was stored by folding underneath the barrel.

The only cleaning tools typically included were a braided cord, roughly 1.3 meters long, which included a wire brush (this cord was capable of completely cleaning both barrel and receiver in one stroke), and a small brush with plastic bristles, closely resembling a Terran “toothbrush”—clear evidence of the “form follows function” theory of parallel development.

Made of exceptional-quality materials, the rifles were molecularly stabilized after manufacture via a simple heat-treatment process that extended barrel life to over 100,000 rounds. Even today, more than three thousand years after the Ziru Sirka’s fall, properly-stored examples of these weapons are still fully-functional and capable of being used on the modern battlefield.

The rifle came with an integral sling, and had a rail system on the receiver to allow for the mounting of various optical packages. There was no provision for rifle grenades in the Terran sense, although various types of hand grenades were issued in time of war.

Integral to the system was a load-bearing harness similar to the late-20th Century (Terran) “ALICE” modular system, with velcro-analog pockets running up the front straps, each containing two 10-round charger clips. Attached to the back and shoulder-blade straps was a large, flexible water bladder with a capacity of about four litres; again, a similar Terran analog existed, universally called the “Camel-Back”. Drinking was accomplished via a tube that could be hung over either shoulder; it included an attachment to allow its use with a chemical-protective mask.

There were four large pouches on the belt itself, all fully detachable and adjustable as necessary. Each pouch could carry either five 10-round charger clips, or two 20-round box magazines (ZS light-infantry support machine guns used both 20-round box magazines and 100-round disintegrating-link belts)2. These pouches also had attachment points for hand grenades of varying sizes.

A fifth pouch, usually worn in the small of the back and roughly three times the size of the ammunition pouches, contained various mission-specific items; in some units, it contained personal items not subject to inspection by the unit commander.

The ZS infantry uniform was tailored for a specific world, but was usually either a base-brown or a base-green colored one-piece coverall with large “cargo” pockets on the outside of the thighs and upper arms. All of the coveralls inclued internal pouches for ballistic armor inserts; a vest made of carbon-fibre-thread reinforced ballistic cloth and a helmet of the same material completed the personal armor package. These were issued as necessary, but were not typically included in supply caches.

This kit held true for an estimated 80% of ZS infantry units. Certain elite units, like the Shirsar’Ni (the word means both “scout” and “hunter” in Galanglic), and the Luukimik’aa (lit. “Assault Fighter”) units used different weapons and equipment; this was deemed acceptable in spite of Vilani conservatism, because the ZS recognized the need for certain units to perform special functions, thus requiring special equipment.

As deployed, the Kit was usable with no modification by the vast majority of humanoids within the Ziru Sirka.

When the Terrans began capturing ZS infantry supply depots, they found that a complete set of loadbearing equipment—complete with a basic load of ammunition, including four unloaded 20-round magazines (8 charger clips of ammunition were included separately, to eliminate spring tension)—and a field-stripped rifle were usually packed into a single, hermetically-sealed polyethylene bag, packed five to a case (a nekari). These cases were made of an impact-, fire-, explosive- and solvent-resistant polypropolene/ballistic plastic analog.

When the Terrans asked for the name of an individual kit, they were told Gushirer; as there was not a direct analog word in English (the most important predecessor to Galanglic), the word was accepted until a officer with a PhD in English history referred to it as a “stand of arms”, after a term used to describe an equipment unit containing a flintlock musket, bayonet, cartridge box and their associated straps and sling, dating from the early days of that regime on Terra.

Ever after, the ZS infantry kit was called a “stand of arms” or simply a “stand” by the Terrans.

The Cache System

The ZS infantry system was based on the Zumrarish-ani—a military formation of roughly 1000 sophonts, or roughly equal to a Terran “battalion” in size.

The ZS recognized that it was necessary to maintain a ready supply of gushirer on their worlds. This would allow them to rapidly draft and train infantry replacements as necessary3,4. Although considered highly unlikely for most of the ZS’s existence, it was necessary often enough (for equipping loyal citizens during unrest and rebellion, for example) that a system was developed to safely store vast quantities of military material against possible need.

Ziru Sirka infantry unit caches, called sarkakgash, were typically built in a region relatively remote from heavily-populated regions, usually on the outer edge of farming regions. They were built on a farm owned by a family with a proven record of loyalty, a Kanash-sar (lit., “loyal man”), people who an Iishakuu (planetary governor) could rely on to support them at all times.

The cache was buried on the Kanash-sar’s property, and it was the Kanash-sar’s responsibility to keep an eye on it, reporting any unauthorized attempts at withdrawing the equipment (authorized withdrawls would be accompanied by a specific document on specific letterhead—kept only in the Iishakuu’s personal desk), or damage from tectonic activity or flooding.

The locations of caches were closely guarded secrets; once placed, only the Kanash-sar and the Iishakuu knew their locations.

Each cache contained two chambers. In each were 210 nekari-ii, packed into 22 rirna-ii. Each rirna contained five normal nekari-ii, and an equal number of nekari-ii containing not gushir-ii, but a manar-shum, or “ammunition package”. Two of the rirna contained five nekari-ii, containing four light machinegun kits each, instead of rifles; their manar-shum contained 30k rounds, vis the 20k in the rifle packs5.

Also present were fifteen field-desks, containing blank forms, paper, file folders, message pads, carbon-paper analogs, and graphite-analog pencils -- the officious nature of Ziru Sirka administration could not be allowed to atrophy, after all.

These caches sat silently, awaiting the day they were needed. Because of their usually-careful construction and siting, they seldom fell victim to natural disaster. In time of invasion, they were occassionally broken into, but many times were left intact by the victorius Terran forces.

The system was modified by the Second Imperium to include a variety of other weapons, including shotguns and SMGs. It is unknown how far these Second Imperium caches extended through the frontiers. Additionally, no data is known to exist showing how many First Imperium caches were rebuilt/restored.

As the Long Night settled into place, many of these caches were snapped up by looters and petty dictators. Because of the collapse in record-keeping, it is unknown how many caches were opened, but in many core sectors of the Imperium, “Vilani Rifles” are commonly found in private homes.

As of 1107, First and Second Empire caches are still occasionally found unlooted; if the cache’s integrity remains unbroken, it is virtually certain that within are enough weapons and ammunition to equip just over 1000 humanoid sophonts as light infantry.

Glossary

Vilani Term Galanglic Equivalent
Zumrarish-ani battalion
Shirsar’Ni scout/hunter
Luukimik’aa “assualt fighter”
Gushirer infantry kit; 0.60cy
Gashema militia
Sarkakgash cache
Kanash-sar ‘loyal man’
Iishakuu planetary governor
Nekari a case of five (5) Gushir-ii; 4.2cy
Rirna A crate containing eight (8) Nekari-ii; 50.4cy
Manar-shum an ammunition package, containing 20k rounds of rifle ammunition in 10-round charger clips, 20 smoke and 30 fragmentation hand grenades; light machinegun packages contained 30k rounds, packed in 100-round disintegrating-link belts, in lieu of grenades; roughly 20% of all ammunition were "tracers".