|“|| Our bows are drawn as foes draw near.|
- Archers Creed
Recent info about the latest Empire of the Rising Sun's Infantry, the Archer Maiden, was available during our research into Uprising-era arsenals. Though the Archer is female, like her airborne counterpart, the Rocket Angel, the Archer Maiden prefers to engage targets with a Greatbow, which, suprisingly to many an Allied airman or Soviet pilot, are capable of targetting and even following aircraft, as well as being a mean anti-infantry weapon. They fill a critical niche that cost the Empire the war, and thus are a important addition to any Imperial Commander's arsenal, yet still are capable against other units.
|“|| They've cut me!|
- Archer Maiden under fire
|“|| Bring down the Heavens!|
- Archer Maidens barraging an enemy with a peircing barrage
The war took a heavy toll on the Empire of the Rising Sun, even in the days when the Empire's ultimate victory seemed certain. Consequently, by the time the Empire's enemies discovered and began exploiting a particular flaw in the Imperial Grand Stratagem, leaders of the island nation could do little to respond. This flaw, of course, was the Empire's overdependence on new, largely untested antiaircraft technology. Exotic dual-form robot weapons and variable base defenses proved somewhat less effective against enemy air forces than the Rising Sun's war ministers guaranteed, and the Allied Nations and Soviet Union were relatively quick to punish the Empire for its hubris. Therefore, by the time the first Imperial archer maiden division was deemed battle-worthy, popular consensus both inside and outside the Empire's borders deemed the effort to be utterly in vain. This type of dismissal only began to subside after the maidens single-handedly brought down a top-ace squadron of Allied Vindicator support bombers scouting the coast of Hokkaido.
The women in the ranks of the archer maidens are no strangers to loss and dejection, and likely all share a disposition of drawing strength from such negative feelings. Even as their male counterparts' seemingly-limitless spirit finally began to falter in the face of military setback after setback, the archer maidens' ranks swelled, and the maidens became emboldened to make some sort of difference... even though hopes for the Empire's inevitable victory by then had turned into a palpable sense of imminent defeat. The question is, then, why did the archer maidens choose to take up arms in the twilight of the war?
The simple answer is these women had nothing left to lose. Their husbands, brothers, and friends had perished in the war. And the elite ranks of the Imperial Rocket Angels would not have them, due to restrictions on age, birthright, physical strength, or any number of other factors. According to the archer maidens' Code of Manner, the maidens formed after two female friends rejected from the Rocket Angel ranks returned to the Angels' training headquarters in Hokkaido with their ancestral bows, intending to shoot the Angels' chiefs from the sky. The women on the ground plainly announced their intentions--this was the only way, they said, to make the Angels admit to their pride and their weakness. The Angels' chiefs obliged this duel, and in the ensuing fight, two women died; one held fast to her bow even in death, while the other, an Angel, fell far to the ground with a heavy thud.
The surviving archer was cast from the Angels' headquarters, exonerated for acting vengefully but in a manner consistent with the warrior-virtues of the Empire. The woman swore an oath of celibacy, vowing to dedicate the remainder of her life to the defeat of the Empire's enemies while welcoming like-minded women from across the nation to unite under that common cause. Alone, she restored a run-down old temple in a particularly mountainous region of Hokkaido, and soon began accepting many other women like her into what came to be known as Shin Kyudo Monastery. There the women trained for months in the art of the bow, while leading a strictly ascetic lifestyle. It took only another year or so for the remnants of the Imperial shogunate to formally recognize the group, and it was then that the archer maidens gained their signature weapons and uniforms, and were invited to join the Imperial military in full status.
This was a humbling moment for the Empire of the Rising Sun, though by now, it was one of many. The archer maidens cordially accepted the shogunate's offer, even though everyone, even the Empire's enemies, knew that the maidens had long since proven themselves in a series of guerilla-style ambushes in the defense of the Empire's northern borders. To this day, the maidens remain committed to protecting their homeland at any cost and to fighting on for the sake of the memories of their loved ones.
At the secret research facility belonging to Doctor Shinji Shimada - the Shiro Sanitarium, to be more exact, Yuriko Omega learnt that a detachment of Archer Maidens had accepted an assignment at the base to provide extra security in exchange for being given psionic training.
(Arguably) Rogue Imperial commanders Shinzo Nagama, Kenji Tenzai, and (in a sense of irony) ex-Rocket Angel leader Takara Sato deployed Archer Maidens against the Allies durring the Uprising as well, many seen training at Shinzo's Dojos just prior to the Allied capture of Shizno. Tatsu, during his double-crossing of the Allies, deployed the Archer Maidens, likely either prisoners of war pulled out of prison by Tatsu or those loyal to Tatsu before and trained using Shinzo's captured Dojos. However, they proved to be, although brave in standing against the newest Allied air forces, such as the Harbinger gunship, they were, litterally, mowed down like grass, but not without giving the gunships damage and taking down other Allied air units such as the Apollo, Vindicator, or Cryocopters attempting to freeze Shinzo.
Notes from the field
|“|| We defend the way.|
- Archer Maiden
Battlefield reconnaissance has revealed at least these facts about the Archer Maiden:
• Putting the 'great' in greatbow -- The archer maiden's weapon appears deceptively traditional. In effect, its projectiles have more in common with laser-guided armor-piercing rockets than with arrows of the past. And unlike the Imperial tankbusters' plasma cutting cannons, the maidens' greatbows can be just as effective against infantry as they are against aircraft or other lightly armored targets.
• The piercing barrage -- Archer maidens are trained to use specially-charged arrows that split up into a flurry of white-hot spikes. Such a rain of shrapnel can be deadly to clusters of enemy infantry, though is ineffectual against anything else. The maidens' bows must briefly recharge in between launching the heavier ordnance.
• Suitable for internal use -- Most modern infantry are trained to fight from inside garrisoned structures due to the prevalence of urban combat in today's wars, though archer maidens train more extensively at this than other Imperial divisions. When garrisoned, maidens can take down enemy aircraft from even greater range than usual.
• Specialized generalists -- Although archer maidens are arguably the most versatile of all the Empire of the Rising Sun's infantry forces, they are fewer in number than the Empire's fighting men, and therefore somewhat costlier to deploy. Their relatively slow rate of fire is another reason they tend to be more effective fighting in concert with other infantry classes instead of by themselves.
|“|| Heh heh... I wish we had more ladies in our infantry divisions... heh heh.|
- An Allied Peacekeeper upon seeing the Archer Maidens during the Allied assault on Shinzo's clan village
The Archer Maiden is a suprisingly powerful addition to the Imperial Arsenal, capable of both taking down aircraft and engaging infantry. However, they are still infantry, and thus are still mortal. Because of this, they are usually deployed in concert with over infantry such as the Imperial Warrior. They are most effective in groups of aproximately five, especially when targetting Allied aircraft such as the Apollo Fighter or even the Vindicator (against the latter however, they will take casualties). However, heavier aircraft such as the Harbringer Gunship can mulch them like grass, uniting many of the Archers with their loved ones swiftly and messily.
Against infantry, they deal more damage per shot than an Imperial Warrior, roughly the same as a Peacekeeper point-blank, but without the knockback. The Peircing Barrage is most effective against infantry and in squads, but reconisance recovered from Imperial archives indicates that they may be able to destroy lighter buildings, such as an Allied Powerplant, with the barrage, given enough time. The report indicates that it was a group of then when this was done, but due to it's slowness, it is best reserved as a last-resort method to remove power, or when a wall blocks the line of attack.
Against armor and buildings, they are about as effective as an Imperial Warrior with a direct shot, but they are incapable of damaging walls with a direct shot, instead having to use the peircing barrage. It is advised that, assuming en masse is not an option, that Tankbusters be used instead.
As a note, despite what some Commanders and infantrymen beleive due to their... intresting choice of uniform, they can't swim, likely due to the difficulty of the greatbow's size and the battle standard (more accurately flag) that they all carry. So if you see one taking a swim... probably an Allied Spy in a very difficult disguise.