Æther Marines are soldiers stationed on all Æther Fleet capitol ships. Their duty is to provide ship's security, protect ship's crew when on missions off the ship, repel hostile boarders and board to either capture or disable enemy ships in combat.
Æther Marines are not affiliated with either Army or Navy and have developed their own tradition using trappings of both. Æther Marines are known for their strict discipline and loyalty. Their uniform is the traditional red coat with black trousers and white gloves and campaign helmet.
Æther Marines are trained in the use of Blaiser rifles, bayonets and their distinctive armored æthersuits. Officers use blaiser pistols and cutlasses.
Æther Marines perform three separate duties onboard an Ætherfleet ship. The first is ship's security. Guarding vital sections of the ship, ensuring compliance of regulations, defending against intruders, etc. The second is protection of landing parties while off the ship while performing away missions. This might include completely separate military actions in place of the regular army. The third duty is the most dangerous and the one that requires the most training and expertise, boarding actions. When ships in ætheral engagements have been disabled and cannot run the Æther Marines leap into action. The marines are launched toward the crippled ship, grapple the exterior by use of tether lines, cut through the hull and infiltrate the vital sections capturing the ship and crew. This most hazardous undertaking results in a majority of marine casualties.
The Æther Marines are organized in military fashion. The smallest unit is the squad consisting of 5 marines. A corporal or sergeant would lead two squads. The sergeant major or color sergeant would be the most senior non commissioned officer. The contingent onboard the Dauntless, which is smaller than most, has but one officer who would be in charge of all marines on board. His naval rank is Lieutenant Commander but his army rank was but 2nd Lieutenant. As the least senior command section officer he or she will have big shoes to fill.
Only half the contingent of the marines on board will be active during regular duty. The other half are kept in stasis until either an emergency requires their service or their active duty term. The place the marines are stored in stasis is also the place where dead marines are kept for the journey home. Marines are not given burial in æther like the ship's crew. They are carried home to receive a proper military service. The stasis chamber area is treated as hallowed ground and disrespect of any kind is unforgivable.
The marines are recruited from the Queen's regular army units and transferred to Ætherfleet service. The Æther Marines at this point are no longer in the army nor are they a part of the navy. The Æther Marines are unique unto themselves. Ætherfleet intended such to aid them in performing ship's security. Having shipsmen perform security always lead to laxness and non-enforcement of regulation due to familiarity and fraternization. No tar would arrest one of his mess mates. Therefore the Æther Marines will always remain separate from the regular crew. The Marines right from the very beginning have been allowed to retain their army appearance, feel and traditions. This separates them from the navy traditions so prevalent within the Ætherfleet and keeps the two forces unconnected and distinct even though they share the same hull space. This division keeps both groups disciplined and efficient.
A wide disparity of mindset and tradition exist between army and navy and the differences have become a matter of pride. One of which is the title "Captain". Although many Marine commanders hold the army rank of Captain the title "Captain" is sacrosanct by the naval crew and is never used in reference to a Marine officer while onboard a ship. Another point of contention is the disparity of military discipline. The Æther Marines hold themselves to a much higher standard in behavior, interaction and dress in comparison to shipboard crew. Marines may try to enforce a very strict standard in accordance to Ætherfleet regulations which tends to create much tension between the two groups. Therefore the Captain must dictate the level of enforcement to regulation to the Marines and stand by there enforcement to his discretion.
Æther Marines while onboard the ship never dawn "the mufti" or civilian dress. Even when off duty the marines wear the class D uniform. The most common uniform for the Æther Marine is duty dress, which consists of a red double breasted tunic with double rows of buttons. White outer belt with a telæthergraph mounted on the side and if the marine is an NCO or officer a hand blaiser in a white holster. Officers may have a pistol and or a sword depending on the situation. White gloves are standard as is the white inner shirt. Standard black trousers and black boots shined to perfection gives uniformity to the marines naval counter parts. Any mission off ship would require the campaign helmet and possibly field pack.
When operating in hostile environments the Marine would wear the awesome looking battle dress. Battle Dress consists of a red and white Environmental suit complete with articulated metal helmet, breast plate and life support pack. The boots are metal as well having gripping crampons and magnetic soles. The suit itself has padded shoulders, elbows and knees. The controls to the suit are located on the wrist plates and on the front of the breastplate. Belts and bandoliers carry the various weapons, ammunitions and equipment for the marine.
Off duty marines wear a less encumbering tunic, no gloves and low quarter shoes but the familiar colors and style persists.