Wasn't too happy having to remove this as my featured submission on FA (on the basis the old version doesn't reflect my current standards) so pulled it back in to re-shade and re-line. It's already looking a lot better! :D
Chiran soldier (Sergeant Mei-Lin Jiang, 3rd Guards Infantry) and Aludran paratroop (Sergeant Mariella Lorii, 117th PIR) with equipment circa the Battle of Omar during the Fourth Battle of Kythen Ocean. Chiran gear is a standard bullpup 6mm carbine with a 36mm grenade launcher, Aludran a suppressed 8.1x55mm battle rifle with a night vision scope and a .22 calibre suppressed pistol, and both carrying single-shot anti-tank missiles.
Lorii is actually a member of 117 SPU, the specialist paratroop unit that carried out HAHO jumps ahead of the main static-line drops over Omar, with the aim of disabling Chiran air defence radar installations. An experienced paratroop drawing a Captain's salary (both militaries use rank to indicate command level rather than pay grade) her first combat jump was the one that established the SPU in the first place, the less than optimistically named "Operation Powder Keg." This HALO jump occurred in a bay near a bulk natural gas tanker that had been hijacked by pirates, with the Aludran force using captured Chiran SMGs to minimise the possibility of destroying the ship during the operation. The success of the mission led to years of the Aludran propaganda corps having to digitally retouch images of the team to replace these weapons with an Aludran SMG which was only on the drawing boards at the time.
Jiang is a member of the Chiran Guards, the lowest tier of special forces* in Chira. Guards units pre-date the modern Chiran Dominion and go back to the times when Chira was a group of states centred around two Empresses. The regular Guards were a force of specially selected Army soldiers charged with protecting important locations, the Imperial Guards were essentially police units tasked with apprehending dangerous outlaws, the Temple Guards the warrior-priestesses of the Chiran temples, and the Royal Guards the most elite soldiers hand-picked to escort members of the Imperial families. Today they are modern special forces units, though they retain many of their traditional training and selection methods.
The three Chiran species (lemurs, red pandas and genets) all have a large prehensile tail which is essentially a fifth limb**, and strong enough that a Chiran can actually lift her entire body weight up using just her tail. Because the tail contains a major artery to allow this, combat gear includes smaller impact plates along the top surface of the tail slip.
The need to protect their tails is also based in religion: Chirans believe their tail is the physical manifestation of their soul and their body the manifestation of their mind.
*Roughly equivalent to the US Marine Corps, minus being an all-aspect force.
**Yes, I know none of these species actually have prehensile tails.