After a massive explosion ravages Sydney and kills 2.1 million people, a multinational black-ops unit called S.W.O.R.D (an expy of the SCP Foundation and Blackwatch is tasked with maintaining peace and order, with the aid of the JDSF, USMC, NZDF, UNPF and RKA (when in reality, S.W.O.R.D's searching for a rogue member of their inner circle, who was sighted in the blast's aftermath). S.W.O.R.D have wasted no time in sealing off Sydney from the outside world by establishing a no-fly zone over the city, blockading Sydney's coast with a large-scale fleet and constructing a massive wall stretching from Nowra to Gosford, inducing an internet blackout and tapping into other people's phone calls.

While S.W.O.R.D and co have succeeded in restoring order and allowing unhindered access to humanitarian aid, their only form of opposition is the Degenerates: humans that have been parasitized by a gene-altering pentastomid and styled themselves after the Scythians. The Degenerates have constantly proven themselves to be a thorn in S.W.O.R.D's side by using guerrilla, mounted and asymmetrical warfare tactics along with their habit of abducting civilians and military personnel in order to create new Degenerates or use them as sustenance.To make matters worse, the Degenerate's "king", Idanthyrsus is an "Ascended", a sentient being that can draw upon an energy source called the Nexus (à la the Force) to enhance his physical abilities as a byproduct by having his soul bound to an incredibly powerful and ancient weapon referred to as a Divine Tool.

An Ascended has 3 - 4 primary abilities that embody their most dominant personality traits. One of Idanthyrsus' abilities is the power to activate a person's connection to the Nexus via psychical contact and turn them into a "Pseudo-Ascended". All of the human-born Degenerates are Pseudo-Ascended who have had their connections to the Nexus activated after being turned into Degenerates with one power (ranging from invisibility to fragokinesis and the ability to amplify their physical prowess or strengthen their weapons for short periods of time.

In order to level the playing field, S.W.O.R.D has tasked their prestigious Perioikoi Branch (which cooperates with various military research agencies to develop advanced military technologies) a fully autonomous humanoid combat robot capable of engaging a Pseudo-Ascended Degenerate in long range and close quarters combat code-named "Project Atalanta". Rather than outright replacing S.W.O.R.D's soldiers on the battlefield, Project Atalanta is designed to serve as a highly agile and incredibly strong support unit capable of operating in urban environments and the Australian wilderness while coming up with complex strategies on the fly. It just so happens that you are one of the many Perioikoi assigned to Project Atalanta and have been given a dossier detailing the strengths and weakness of the 3 subspecies that human-born Degenerates are divided into.

Here is a brief outline of each subspecies and their commonly shared traits:


  • Locomotion via bipedalism but will resort to knuckle-walking when carrying a human in their jaws

  • Large forward-facing and light-sensitive eyes covered with tapetum lucidum that allow for a nocturnal lifestyle

  • An arthropodal, dual-layered carapace capable of resisting small caliber gunfire and physical trauma

  • Large robust skulls with strong gorilla-like jaws and venomous interlocking canines

  • Can grow bigger and stronger with age while possibly being able to live for centuries (Idanthyrsus himself claims to be at least 105 years old and is 40 meters tall)

  • A healing factor that allows a Degenerate to draw upon the excess biomass in their body to heal wounds like internal bleeding and lost limbs within seconds

    • When the process is complete, said Degenerate develops a hunger of varying intensity depending on how much biomass was used during regeneration

    • If too much biomass is depleted, the Degenerate will enter a hyper aggressive mindset that forces them to consume prey in order to replace expended biomass

enter image description here (Just remove the small pair of arms and spider abdomen thing, while giving it a shorter humanoid limb structure, anthropoid torso, enlarging the eyes and replacing it's mandibles with Gorilla-esque jaws. You'll get a very good idea of what Scythi look like)


  • Height: 1.8 meters | 6 feet tall
  • Weight: 72.5 kilograms | 160 pounds
  • Combat Roles: Snipers, grenadiers and mounted riflemen
  • Favored Armaments: Sniper rifles, assault rifles, rocket launchers, anti-materiel rifles, grenade launchers, pistols, revolvers, grenade spears, acinaci, sagaris, maces and makeshift shields (including Peltarion, Gerron, Simferopol, Pazyryk, Solokha and Celtic-types)
  • The least commonly encountered of all Degenerates due to their methodical approach to combat and lackluster durability
  • Short, stocky limbs ending in five talon-like digits allow Scythi to switch from a bipedal to quadrupedal stance
  • Can be distinguished from other human-born Degenerates by their multiple forward-facing eyes, which Gelonians and Agathyrsi lack

    • The greatly enlarged eyes of Scythi are densely packed in a row at the front of the skull consisting of two large principal eyes and two smaller lateral eyes, like those of Jumping Spiders
    • A Scythi’s lateral eyes sense the motion of moving objects while the principal eyes allow for sophisticated depth perception to accurately determine the distances between objects -Tests and intensive studies conducted on the eyes of Scythi concluded that Scythi are potentially able to visualize and follow a mobile target from a distance of 6 kilometers (or even further by using the Nexus to improve their already impressive vision)

enter image description here


  • Height: 2.1 meters | 7 feet tall
  • Weight: 154 kilograms | 339 pounds
  • Combat Roles: Scouts, light infantry and light cavalry
  • Favored Armaments: Shotguns, assault rifles, sub-machine guns, light machine guns, pistols, revolvers, grenade spears, maces, acinaci, sagaris, chekans and makeshift shields (including Peltarion, Gerron, Simferopol, Pazyryk and Solokha-types)

  • Identifiable by their four arms, which grant Gelonians increased dexterity, strength and the ability to dual wield weapons

  • Skeletons are hollow and lightly built, making them faster and more agile than their contemporaries

  • Highly developed legs and arms allow Gelonians to run at speeds of 90 mph on two legs and 120 mph on all six limbs (or even faster when tapping into the Nexus)

enter image description here


  • Height: 3.0 meters | 10 feet tall

  • Weight: 300 kilograms | 663 pounds

  • Combat Roles: Shock troops, cavalry and cataphracti

  • Favored Armaments: Light machine guns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, assault rifles, grenade launchers, shotguns, modified heavy machine guns, modified automatic grenade launchers, grenade spears, maces, contus, acinaci, sagari, klevets, chekans and makeshift shields (including Gerron, Simferopol and Celtic-types)

  • The most commonly encountered and deadliest of all human-spawned Degenerates

  • Legs are extremely broad and columnar with flat tree-trunk like feet, only allowing Agathyrsi to sprint over short distances

  • Slow-moving but are incredibly tough and capable of clearing several meters in a single leap or throwing multi-ton cars with no apparent effort

    • Specimens attaining heights of 5.4 meters (18 feet) have also been reported to lift M1 Abrams high over their heads with some degree of difficulty
  • Massive club-like fists and bony knuckles reinforced with gristle allow them to deliver bone-shattering punches without harming themselves

How would you design Project Atalanta to effectively engage and slay these creatures?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking us to design a creature to defeat the other creatures ? It's very hard to make out from your question what you're asking. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2018 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenG That's basically it. Expect that it's a combat robot, not a creature that needs to be designed. $\endgroup$
    – user48508
    May 25, 2018 at 3:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You know what kills these creatures (as you designed them) and despite the length of your question we don't know that. If you know what kills them then you simply design a robot to do that. I don't understand your problem ? I would point out that in a normal military you would not try to design one weapon that kills everything, but multiple weapons that kill different things well and combine them in units. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2018 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ Wasnt the limit to the amount of made-up words&titles per book around 3, and up to about 5 or 6 if it was a damn good story? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    May 25, 2018 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ I can lend you one of my ships if you want :) $\endgroup$
    – Alexcommil
    May 25, 2018 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


First off, why a humanoid combat robot? Aside from being a hoary old trope, the bipedal form really isn't all that effective if you need to use heavy firepower, climb vertical surfaces or fly. What you need is an entire range of combat chassis, ranging from very small ones used to scout and ID targets, to large tank sized robots that can flatten buildings or fire heavy high velocity cannon, or other weapons (mortars, guided missiles,laser weapons if we have that sort of technology). Other form factors might include snake like robots to enter small holes and crevasses, or explore underground tunnels.

enter image description here

Other form factors. This might be what a robot fire team looks like entering a room

The second thing you need to consider is how, exactly you intend to deal with these enemies? From the description, the true threat isn't bizarre looking humanoids, but rather the alien pathogen infecting them. In other words you are dealing with a biological warfare threat (and frankly, allowing people in or out of the quarantine zone isn't a particularly smart idea.

enter image description here

Not exactly the best way to go around in a combat zone...

This also puts some severe limitations on your weapons. While it may be nice to fire a 120mm HEAT-MP round at a humanoid, the resulting splatter is simply making the problem orders of magnitude worse. So while there will be a real need for scouting robots to identify the targets, and possibly engineering vehicles to breach obstacles, the offensive action will have to use cleansing fire to ensure the infection does not spread.

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Panther engineering vehicle. It can also mount plow blades and other engineering tools

enter image description here

TOS-1 thermobaric rocket launcher, to incinerate area targets

For more precise application of thermobaric firepower, the Russians already issue single shot thermobaric rockets, which robots can be adapted to fire.

enter image description here

RPO-A Thermobaric rocket

As well, the humans outside the zone can deliver thermobaric rounds via artillery or mortars. Aircraft can fly over and deliver small UCAVs which are also armed with thermobaric warheads, the USAF has experimented with flocks of UAV's which can be delivered by aircraft at high speed, being dumped out of the flare dispensers:

enter image description here

F-18's launching PERDIX drones at high speed

So the short answer is:

  1. Small scouting robots to identify the targets and report
  2. Mid sized, multi legged robots capable of firing thermobaric weapons at identified targets, or calling in firepower from outside (artillery and aircraft). Ideally the mid sized robots can also climb walls and over obstacles.
  3. Large engineering vehicles to demolish obstacles or fortifications if needed (alternatively, to lay down obstacle belts to channelize the enemy
  4. large self propelled rocket or artillery vehicles to bring heavy thermobaric firepower at close quarters if needed.

Systematically go through the city block by block, and maintain a tight quarantine to prevent the spread of the pathogen. Its the only way to win.