Panzer Kunst Gruppe
|Panzer Kunst Gruppe|
|Home Base||Grunthal, Mars|
|Population (2015 rough)||<90|
|Allies||Cyber Confederation, Catgirl Industries|
|Stereotype||Cybers gone way too far towards the machine, and proud of it|
Originally founded by Alita Gally in 2011 with the aim of defictionalising the cyborg martial art Panzer Kunst, the Panzer Kunst Gruppe are made up of those cybers capable of undertaking combat operations in open space without the use of a powered suit. As a result, the Kunstler are among the most cybernetically modified residents of Fenspace. Half of currently active Kunstler are more than 90% artificial, and all are above 70%.
Individually, a Kunstler is among Fenspace most powerful fighters, however at any given moment there are only about thirty to forty active Kunstler, with the rest of the faction strength being made up of trainees. Of those 40, usually around half will be actually available to fight, with the others either resting, undergoing repair or maintenance, or training themselves or other Kunstler. This leaves between 15 and 20 Kunstler ready to fight at any giving moment. Of these, it's highly likely that some will already be engaged in operations.
For the most part, they follow a rating system ranging from Anfanger(Beginner), to Krieger(warrior), with some individual variation. A Kunstler’s rank depends on their experience, their skill and their overall physical power. The only Kunstler who regularly see action are those above Geselle rank. The school will occasionally sponsor the cyberisation of an interested student, having an ongoing partnership with Ares Medical. Those the school pays for are expected to remain at Grunthal for a minimum of five years - or pay the remaining balance when they leave. A lot of effort is made to ensure that anyone approaching the Gruppe for sponsored cyberisation understands exactly what life they're getting into..
Individual Kunstler often differ wildly in form and function, many modifying their bodies of the years to better suit their own personalities, desires or for some perceived social effect. It's not unusual for a Kunstler to identify as male, while choosing a female form, or vice-versa. As a result, some Kunstler can appear almost human, with synthetic skin replacements covering artificial muscle while others may only be vaguely humanoid in form . Most will fall somewhere between the two extremes and almost all will at least have a natural-appearing face - the Cyber Confederation's minimum Quality of Life standards all but requiring it. 
Independent at first, the Gruppe established its home base Grunthal, in the maze of canyons that make up Noctis Labyrinthus at the far western end of the Valles Marineris on Mars. Politically, the Gruppe has tried to look after its own interests, and partakes in Martian politics only as necessary to secure its own independence. Alita Gally currently sits on the Martian Terraforming council.
The Gruppe took part in Operation Great Justice with some distinction - being assimilated into the Sabre Corps where they specialised in tackling Boskone cyborgs and armoured troops along with near-vacuum combat. The Kunstler also found themselves doing everything from courier missions, to ship boarding, intelligence operations and blitz raids against Boskone bases. Notable actions include supporting Tango Shoes operations against Jusenkyou, the Battle of SerenityCon, the raid on Shipwreck Island and the Steelyard on 16 Psyche.
The Gruppe has maintained some links with the Supers, with individual Kunstler filling roles on JLI teams that can’t yet be filled with biomods, with the JLI providing reciprocal recognition of Gruppe training. Official direct involvement with Great Justice tailed off after 2017, with the Gruppe now preferring to take a background training role - training power-armoured or cybernetic forces of other factions - while providing paid security for high-value transports.
The Gruppe aims to focus more on martial arts, than on direct military action and has withdrawn from front-line roles with Great Justice. The Gruppe will still provide support to GJ and Space Patrol operations against Zwilniks and remaining Boskone leaders by special request, though such missions have become much rarer. This doesn't prevent individual Kunstler from working either with the Space Patrol, or Great Justice; several Kunstler either have been, or currently are, Troubleshooters with Great Justice, with at least one being OF-8 grade.
German for ‘Armoured Art’. A fictional martial art originating from the Battle Angel Alita manga, designed for use by cyborgs, Panzer Kunst teaches a cyborg how to live and fight in sync with their own body and its enhanced abilities, aiming towards a oneness within the self, and between all senses. Panzer Kunst emphasises the humanity of it's practitioners despite the added technology in their bodies and encourages self control. The true skill of a Panzer Kunst Meister is not in teaching the basic tenants of the Kunst, but in teaching the individual student how to adapt the Kunst to their own body's requirements. This resulting Personal Wisdom is the true secret of the Panzer Kunst and is something that is very difficult to study from a book.
Kunstler start as Anfanger and spend the early part of their training learning solely how to live with their bodies. Anfanger learn first and foremost that their cybernetics make their bodies a literal weapon and that they are in real danger of injuring someone by accident. Next, they are taught how to control themselves and how to keep others safe. The self controls are ingrained on the psyche, so that it's a natural and automatic thing for the Kunstler' to do.
Beyond this, Kunstler at Tzehreter(enthusiast) levels learn some basic techniques for self defence, with the emphasis on not using lethal force against an opponent. It's at this point that most would finish their training. This is also the level of training given to the armoured troopers sent to Grunthal for training by outside factions. Very few are ever offered the chance to go on to train for full combat. Generally, the secrets of full combat Panzer Kunst are taught to those considered least likely to use them.
Kunstler at and Lehrling (apprentice) and Geselle (journeyman) level learn how to turn their self controls off, and apply their maximum power in combat, sparring with each other, with the AR-series and with members of the Gruppe they intend to join to develop their technique. Kunstler must undertake a final test, the Letzte Kampf Prüfung, before receiving the distinctive patterned-steel blades that mark their skill. It's not unusual for a Kunstler to take a new name at this point - a tradition that began as a purely pragmatic way of keeping loved ones safe from reprisals.
Krieger level Kunstler are some of the most powerful fighters in Fenspace and both instruct other Kunstler and lead them into combat if necessary.
|Sidebar: Received Wisdom, and Personal Wisdom...|
All cybers are different - defined by who and how they were built. There is no mass-produced standard template. There can be no real standard instruction, like with a human being. An important part of instruction therefore, is adapting Panzer Kunst teaching to the individual Kunstler, and teaching them how to do it themselves.
Received Wisdom, is what is given by the instructor - the basic tenants of the Kunst. Personal wisdom is the individual adaptations, each Kunstler develops
The rumour is that a large part of the Received Wisdom is new being delivered cybernetically - through some form memory implantation rather than specific instruction. Alongside the instructional implants, traces of the originating personality are also carried over - elements of identity, tastes or even common dreams are rumoured.
Whether this is a bug, or a feature, depends on who you talk to.
Kunstler specialize in fighting armed and armoured opponents as well as zero gravity and aerial combat. Panzer Kunst in combat tends towards striking, rather than grappling and on parrying into an attack, rather than throwing the opponent. There is strong emphasis on maintaining speed and controlling momentum, working in sync with the body, while reading the movements of the opponent in order to find an exploitable weakness. All machinery has it's own natural rhythms which can be exploited. Kunstler also employ distinctive vibration and shockwave based attacks that fracture bone and armour and jelly flesh. The strongest members are known to be able to crack a truck’s engine block with a single punch.
In the field, Kunstler use a wide variety of weapons, ranging from their distinctive and deadly Damascus Blades, to large calibre firearms and even internal body-mounted weapons. The choice is usually made by the individual Kunstler based on their own preferences and fighting style. Many take this further, adapting their body towards their own aims and objectives independant of who they see themselves as. It's not unusual for a Kunstler to still refer to himself as male, while choosing a feminine body-style - or vice-versa. It depends on a number of things, including the reaction a Kunstler would like to get from other people. Some motorballers take this to an extremes to enhance their performance on the track. Cyber Confederation Quality of Life standards put the brakes on anything too extreme. Others regularly swap depending on the occasion, mission or their mood, or may have maintain a seperate puppet avatar.
'Soft' Panzer Kunst teachings have unexpectedly found a wider audience among the recipients of unwanted or unexpected biomods. After all, one of the lessons every Kunstler must learn is how to come to terms with their own bodies. Many of these lessons are as applicable to biomods as they are to cybers.
The Shuttle Melchizedek was ordered by the Panzer Kunst Gruppe in early 2015, originally solely to have a multi-role craft available to the Gruppe, which would be capable of handling multiple mission profiles. In order to fill the shuttle's downtime, the Gruppe began to charter the shuttle out for cargo services, specialising in secure cargo. A pair of armed Kunstler are aboard to ensure than anyone attempting to hijack Mel will seriously regret it.
After the Rigil Kentaurus mission, the secure transport service had gone from being something done to fill the shuttle's downtime, to a full-time job. Because of this, the Panzer Kunst Gruppe Secure Transport Service (PKGS for short) was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Panzer Kunst Gruppe. The new company was incorporated with its head office in a container just outside Shannon Airport in the Republic of Ireland, to take advantage of favourable laws regarding taxation and transfer pricing and to gain easier access to the erdeside market.
Her crew, along with Mel herself, are listed as the company's Board of Directors and enjoy a surprising amount of autonomy in running the company's affairs, though the requirements of the Gruppe occasionally take precedence over commercial needs.
PKGS has a number of partnerships with other corporations, including one with Stellvia Corporation. PKGS is also a member of the consortium developing the Vulkan heavy-lift system, supplying some of the cash and volunteering Mel for the initial test-flight of the system.
Each Kunstler Gruppe consists of a number of Geselle, led by a Krieger responsible for both their training and their combat operations if and when they deploy together in the field.
Specialise in heavy anti-armour operations, boarding actions and assaults, along with the use of internally mounted weapons. The Kammer’s are the most physically powerful Gruppe and are often the most visible Kunstlers. Each Kammer is usually a BNF in their own right. They are the most likely to publicly work alongside the JLI.
The Kugel Gruppe was formed from Kunstlers who, not wanting to learn combat arts, took to the sport of Motorball. The second most visible Gruppe after the Kammers, since the end of the Boskone War they have been holding exhibition matches at various locations in Fenspace. While undoubtedly spectacular, the tendency for players to lose limbs has limited the sport’s uptake among most Fen who can’t easily replace a lost arm at a pitstop.
Specialising in aerial and space combat, the Engels are Kunstlers capable of controlled and sustained flight. When operating alone, Engels are often couriers of important information. When operating as a Gruppe, Engels perform high speed raiding attacks or provide light air cover to ground assaults.
The smallest Gruppe is often assigned ‘Special’ operations. Also the most likely Gruppe to work with the Space Patrol or JLI. Most members will often be officially assigned to another Gruppe while assigned to TUNED Gruppe.
Though not officially ranked as Kunstler due to being fully artificial, in an emergency the ‘Alita Replica’ androids built by Daisuke Edo can deploy in the field either as their own Gruppe, or as part of Gruppe they commonly train with.
Should the Panzer Kunst Gruppe ever deploy in full, the Krieger Gruppe is formed from the leaders of all other Gruppes, in order to maintain proper situational control and command awareness. This has only happened once, during the Battle of SerenityCon. A member of the Krieger Gruppe is known to be an OF-8 troubleshooter.
Constructed Artistry: In the original source, there were multiple schools of Panzer Kunst, Alita Gally chose the name Gebaut for her constructed school.
Artist’s blades: On reaching the rank of Geselle and being assigned to a Gruppe, a Kunstler receives a set of Damascus blades. Manufactured from pattern-welded handwavium-steel, these are extraordinarily sharp and resilient. The design of the blade depends on the preferences of the individual ‘’Kunstler’’, but most tend towards a single butterfly-handled sword, or a pair of elbow-mounted blades. Manufactured for the Panzer Kunst Gruppe by the Adeptus Mechanicus in exchange for protection, the blades serve as both a badge of office, and a potent reminder that it is the human imperfections of the soul that give the wielder their true strength.
Grundlose deutschen : In order to distinguish the Panzer Kunst from eastern martial arts, German attack names, titles and some commands are used, which often causes actual speakers of the language to wince, since they were created using Babelfish.
Shaded eyes: Before going into combat, out of tradition, Kunstlers apply a distinctive eye-black to their cheeks. More often red rather than black, in actuality.
Buried Secrets: A number of captured Boskone technologies are rumoured to be stored at Grunthal, either being kept safe from exploitation or in the hope of future peaceful research and application. Among them is the original prototype of Quattro's mind transference and memory editing machine. 
Alita Gally and the AR-Series, Yoko Rasierklinge, Jet Jaguar, Ashen Tiger, Lenneth Lucien, Erwin Lee, Tiegel Armin, Jana Hall.
- Construction, installation and maintenance of Deltaware and Edgeware components not coming cheap, even after their service period is finished
- Similar to Ghost in the Shell-style cyborgs
- Some Motorballers especially take it to extremes for the sake of speed
- For reference, most Kunstler will look somewhat like Fiora of Xenoblade or This for males.
- Rumours of the AMP STU having Panzer Kunst training, and what that implies, continue to circulate.
- TUNED members are most likely to be able to pass themselves as human
- An often spread rumour after the Quattro incident is that the VSW technology has been adapted to accelerate Kunstler training, and provide the benefit of actual battle experience to trainees who have never seen real combat.