“I’m bored.” Julia complained. “This is worse than when we had to play bodyguards for that stuck-up brat in the capital.” She sighed in the cockpit of the Power, her mecha humming around her and obviously just as bored as she was. Targeting sensors kept locking onto everything that moved. The Gear was like a little kid trying to find something to do.
“A hunter is often best served by allowing his prey to come to him,” Leon countered. He’d been trying to meditate for an hour now, but Julia wouldn’t stay quiet for more than a minute at a time. “We’re here to test new technology, and that means we need to draw the enemy into our trap. You’ll have your fun once they arrive.”
“Why would they come here anyway?” Julia asked. “The only thing that’s here is a bunch of stupid rocks.” The valley had been the site of a battle, months ago, and had been left fallow since then. There were blast marks across the barren ground and boulders, which Leon had spent some time identifying as one weapon or another, and a smattering of wreckage that had been left in the mud. There wasn’t anything worth salvaging, but the metal and fallen mechanized beasts would serve to make the ambush more difficult to detect.
“Our forces have carelessly left an opening in this direction,” Leon explained. “The enemy is being surrounded by enough of a force that they will have to either break through or seek escape. By my calculations, they will decide to flee, and this is by far the most attractive option for them to do so.”
“And they’re going to run… why?” Julia frowned. “They’re going to think it’s suspicious, right? If they have any experience at all they’re going to assume it’s a trap.”
“Mm. Perhaps. They’ll be on high alert.” Leon folded his arms. “But you must always leave your enemy a way to escape, lest they fight knowing they have nothing to lose. An animal backed into a corner is far more dangerous than one that thinks it can flee.”
“Whatever,” Julia sighed. “So they’ll come this way and we’ll blow the hell out of them with whatever surprise you’ve got planned.”
“…Did you pay attention during the briefing at all? I prepared numerous slides on this, and my presentation was quite detailed.” Leon adjusted his glasses. “I still have the data with me, and I could send it to your Gear so you can read over it again.”
“I fell asleep after about ten minutes while you were still explaining science stuff.” Julia yawned.
“You fell asleep?” Leon frowned, starting to lose his cool. “I spent hours putting that together.”
“I could tell. Every minute I tried to listen to it felt like I was spending hours trying to pay attention. It was like some kind of an endless hell of spreadsheets and charts.”
Leon glared through his monitor at the tarp-covered Power, knowing Julia couldn’t see it, but wishing his gaze could go right through the Gear’s armor and set her on fire. Before he could start yelling at her, one of the green lights on his command and control board turned red. He sighed and steadied himself, putting on his helmet and sealing it carefully.
“They’re coming,” Leon said. “Make sure your power is down to minimum levels. We don’t want to trip any of their sensors before they’re in the center of the array.”
“The what now?” Julia asked.
“Just-“ Leon took a deep breath. “Just wait until I tell you, and don’t move a muscle.” He could feel a headache starting. After the mission was over, he was going to have words with their commanding officer.
A massive, looming shape roared into the valley. The enemy ship was brightly colored, the paint job marred where recent damage had scorched the hull. It was a blocky, powerful-looking beast, though it was so large it shouldn’t have been able to fly anywhere, much less hang impossibly over the valley floor, keeping low to avoid sensor sweeps. The Wagner. It was a symbol of how the rebels had a technological edge over the GAF, a gap that was going to narrow today.
“Switch to laser communicators,” Leon said. “I’m bringing the array online.” Thankfully, instead of arguing, he saw an indicator appear as Julia did as he asked. Leon shut down most of his sensors and glanced at her. The tarp had shifted, the Power’s bladed tail twitching like it was a cat ready to pounce on its prey.
As the Wagner hit the center of the field, Leon flicked a switch, sending a signal down the hardwired connection to his Gear, the Victory sitting at one end of a web of cables like a spider. He’d concealed the prototype jamming nodes in the wreckage and blasted rocks around the valley, and according to the designer, they’d turn the whole area into a soup of jamming in every frequency they could affect.
Antennae raised up like tuning forks, glowing with a harsh purple light that burned the naked eye to look at. The effect was immediate, the Wagner halting as its sensors suddenly cut out. Leon could see his own screens start to fade to static. The only thing he had was a low-gain camera, the hardened sensor able to feed him just enough through the jamming to maneuver.
Leon took the Victory out into the open, not trying to hide.
“What are you doing, you idiot?!” Julia yelled. “You’re in their firing arc!”
“I have full confidence in the technology,” Leon explained. He stood boldly, waiting for the ship to respond, and it only took a moment for them to respond in force, beams of light blazing into the valley floor. Leon didn’t flinch as everything went wild, the jamming confusing the targeting sensors so badly that the crackling beams did little except chase ghosts. Missiles launched vertically, screaming down only to scatter into rocks and wreckage, two actually twisting to hit each other.
“Does this mean I can go now?” Julia asked, her Gear already standing, crouched and tense, ready to attack.
“Be my guest,” Leon said. Before he’d even finished, she’d launched into motion, pushing the Power as fast as it would go, the Gear moving like a living thing and rushing across the uneven ground, dropping to all fours to skim across a field of boulders as Julia laughed, stumbling and only barely catching itself, kept going more by momentum than any semblance of control.
Julia screamed and body-slammed the ship as she ran into it with full force, a silvery bulkhead bending and deforming, sparks flying from the contact as she grabbed onto it, hanging on with her gear’s clawed hands.
“They’re deploying two Gears on the upper deck,” Leon noted. “They might be trying to act as spotters to manually aim the ship’s weapons.” He braced his Victory and took aim, launching a swarm of attack drones at the enemy. As soon as he tried to telepathically direct them, though, Leon felt a spike of pain in his temple.
The drones slammed into the deck, but he wasn’t going to be able to do more than barrage the area. The jamming was working all too well.
“I can’t get a lock on anything!” Julia complained, having obviously found the same problem. She jammed her Gear’s spiked tail into the deck and pulled herself up. “How is this supposed to help? This is stupid!”
“It’s not stupid,” Leon said, getting annoyed. “It does appear that our countermeasures are not as effective as expected. However, we still have the element of surprise on our side.” He fired another barrage into the Wagner’s deck, one of the two Gears it had deployed falling off and handing heavily on a pointed boulder, the Gear’s weight sending the granite spire deep into its frame, something exploding wetly inside, black smoke pouring from the wound as it lay still.
“I can barely… hit anything!” Julia yelled. She tried to bring her Gear’s bladed tail to bear with a thrust, but it went so wide it was clear that she was aiming at ghosts. Her opponent wasn’t doing much better, firing blindly to the side.
“I’ll make sure to note your complaints in the official feedback report on the new technology,” Leon said calmly. Julia was flailing blindly on the deck, but managed to catch the enemy Gear as she sent the Power into a spin, lashing out in all directions. The huge horns caught it in the side, bulldozing it over the side to meet a similar fate to the other fallen rebel Gear.
“So if I bring this thing down I get promoted two ranks, right?” Julia asked, her gear shaking its head like a dog trying to dry itself. “I can barely see it with all this interference and I’m standing on top of it!”
“Where did you get that idea?” Leon asked, pausing his barrage as the question distracted him.
“There’s a rumor going around that says anyone who brings down the rebel flagship will automatically be promoted two ranks! Hey, maybe I’d be your commanding officer!” She started laughing.
Leon felt the blood drain from his face at that suggestion. “Fate would never be so cruel to me.” He glanced at his displays. “On your left. They’re deploying something else. I haven’t seen this Gear before.” Leon couldn’t even begin to get anything like a clean scan of it with the jamming. However, it was threatening Julia, not him, and that was improving his mood already.
“Looks like things just got interesting,” Julia asserted with confidence, the Power’s tail lashing and bending the deckplates behind her Gear. “I bet I can take this guy on my own.”
“It’s your funeral,” Leon remarked, watching as the rebel Gear started to glow with a green light. Julia roared, her Gear expelling a burst of flames from the incinerator mounted in the Power’s chest. A cone of red flames washed over the deck, parting as they impacted a sphere around the Gear, the edges glowing faintly as the shield deflected the bulk of the fire.
“He’s a stroppy one,” Julia said, her Gear jumping over to the other side of the Wagner and slamming into the deck where the enemy had been a moment before. “Fast, too!” Julia yelled. She spun, only to find herself face-to-face with the yawning barrel of a cannon.
Time seemed to slow as she forced her Gear down at the same moment it fired, the shotgun-like blast ripping through her Gear’s shoulder and into the deck beyond. Only Julia’s quick reactions kept it from going through the cockpit.
“He’s stronger than the others,” Leon commented. “Be careful.”
“I noticed!” Julia shouted. She stayed on the ground, spinning like a break dancer and sweeping the rebel Gear’s legs with the Power’s bladed tail. As it fell, she retreated on three limbs, the damaged arm hanging limply as she stood.
Julia smiled in her cockpit and fired the flamethrower again, the smile fading as the flames again failed to reach their target. “What an annoying little…” She growled, jumping towards the Gear as it fired again, a spray of beams that narrowly missed the Power as it leapt through the air. Julia’s Gear slammed feet-first into its chest, grabbing onto its shoulders with flexibility and a reaction time that were almost superhuman. “Let’s try that at point-blank,” Julia said, firing the incinerator right into the rebel Gear’s head and chest, smothering it with flames.
“The Wagner has started to move again,” Leon warned. The green lights on his indicator board started flickering yellow and red. “It’s moving out of the focus. We’re going to lose jamming soon.”
“It’s fine! I got this!” Julia yelled. The rebel Gear kept moving, even with its upper body on fire. Julia grunted as they struggled before she was thrown aside, flung off the Wagner entirely and towards the ground.
“Very nice,” Leon mocked her. “You definitely got this.”
“Shut up!” Julia yelled, spinning in midair and landing heavily on her Gear’s feet, one ankle snapping from the impact. She looked up and saw the bow of the Wagner coming right for her, and she let the Power collapse, lying low as the battleship flew overhead. “We need to finish them off while they’re weak!”
“They’ve left the jamming area,” Leon said, standing down. “We got good data on that run. We don’t have enough support in that direction to follow them on our own, and they likely have reinforcements en route.”
“Whatever,” Julia growled, as her Gear struggled to get up and failed. “Next time, we do things my way. My way works better.”
“I’ll make sure to keep my expectations low.”
Introducing Interference Terrain
Interference Terrain is a specialized version of Defensive Terrain, jamming sensors and obscuring vision. Unlike Defensive Terrain, Interference Terrain does not provide real cover, it only makes you harder to pinpoint and is thus useless against weapons that don't require precise targeting and cover a wide area of effect.
Interference Terrain works both ways, any Units attacking from within, into or through Interference Terrain will suffer two Disadvantages to the Might Test unless it is with Weapons that have the Blast ability or that affect Zones instead of specific targets. That means you can use it offensively to force enemies to move out of their current position, defensively to nerf their (most likely) strongest weapons, or as a barrier between both groups to do a little bit of both.
Like other terrain types, multiple instances of Interference Terrain will stack, and there will be ways to create zones of it like with any other type.
The grand majority of the content in the expansion is for new games ran in different settings and new characters using fresh concepts, but I also want to have things that are easier to 'slot in' into existing games and characters. More varied types of enemies and terrain help with the former, while general use powers and upgrades help with the latter.