A/N: This takes place after the ORCA ending of Armored Core: For Answer, and during the First Contact War of Mass Effect. So far, this is just a one-shot, but it can be expanded on. Not quite sure how, but I'm sure it could be done...
When humanity finally left Earth, they didn't discover new life. They discovered that the galaxy could truly be traversed. They found planets capable of supporting their ever-growing population, be it through terraforming, or naturally being that way.
They also discovered a new potential energy source on Mars, now known as Element Zero. Among the ruins on Mars where Element Zero was discovered was also a mention of something at the edge of the Sol system. Buried beneath the frozen surface of Charon was a construct, powered by this new element. Utilizing Element Zero, along with the construct, humanity was catapulted into the galaxy.
Humanity soon discovered how appropriate the name Charon truly was.
Eight years after extraterrestrial expansion began, a small exploration fleet came under fire by unidentified space-faring vessels. One ship escaped, and the new Alliance was warned. Humanity was not alone in the galaxy.
Eventually, the colonial planet of Shanxi came under the attention of the extraterrestrial aggressors. All efforts by General Aaron Williams to reclaim the colony were futile, and in the interest of preserving the lives of his men, he surrendered.
General Williams' surrender raised numerous fears, and Shanxi was believed to be truly lost. Seeing no other option, the Alliance utilized its last resort. NEXTs were mobilized to reclaim the occupied colony.
"You going down there is a bit overkill, if you ask me. This mission should be easy for you." The operator was currently briefing her charge on the upcoming task. "You're going up against a large occupational force, and they've never seen us before. Your objective is to wipe out all occupying forces so that the Alliance can pick up their men. Try to leave the colony intact. Any damages are coming out of your pay. Also, due to the location, Primal Armor is not allowed. Kojima drives stay off." Serene Haze, as she was known, finished the brief, saying, "I would tell you good luck, but you've never had it before, so I won't bother."
The man she was addressing only nodded in affirmation before turning to enter his NEXT, Strayed. It was based on the White Glint platform he had worked alongside in a mission years ago, but utilized the CANOPUS high-powered laser rifle in its right hand, and the 07-MOONLIGHT laser blade on the left. Assault Armor capability was also absent, opting instead for greater thrust and maneuverability by utilizing the standard KB-PALLAS overed booster.
After directing the NEXT's transport into one of the drop-pods, he mounted himself within the cockpit, and began linking to it. On the HUD, along with his own information, was the armor integrity of the three other NEXTs he would be descending with. Blind Bold, Les Anees Folles (minus the Kojima rifle), and Split Moon were all ready and waiting for the drop.
Prior to the drop, all of the assembled pilots were reminded of the mission and objectives. "Attention Lynx, this is Admiral Drescher. The Alliance saw fit to utilize your platforms and skills to liberate our men on the surface of Shanxi. Due to the position enemy forces occupy in the colony, an orbital drop is more likely to get you in than a ground approach. We don't know what emplacements they have, or how many there really are down there. The whole area's been dark since General Williams' surrender. Good luck."
Moments after the admiral's speech, the drop pods closed around the NEXTs occupying them, and the sequence for insertion began. The pods were propped upright now that the mechs were secured within, and mechanical arms grabbed hold before the bay was evacuated and vented of atmosphere. The drop would be when the NEXTs were the most vulnerable. The arms holding the pods extended away from the hull of the orbiting ship, and a signal was sent to each pod for thrusters to ignite. Moments after ignition, the arms released, and the pods hurtled towards the planet below.
The pods shook violently upon entering atmosphere before stabilizing. They had a lock on the coordinates they were to be dropping on, and fins soon extended from each pod to guide them toward their destination.
A few minutes later, more rumbling began to shake the drop pods, as anti-air platforms began firing upon the descending NEXTs. The small rounds caused little damage individually, but the rapid rate of fire, and the sheer amount of them, eventually tore through one of the pods. Facing inevitable destruction, Blind Bold manually detonated the release charges, and began falling at a much slower rate. Utilizing powerful boosters, the NEXT attempted to dodge the incoming fire, but the veritable wall of projectiles eventually tore it apart. The intel on Blind Bold's condition vanished from Strayed's HUD.
After Blind Bold's destruction, all the guns on the ground began focusing on the next pod down the line. Les Anees Folles soon met the same fate, except she was torn apart within the drop pod itself.
Split Moon was the target after Les Anees Folles was destroyed, but, like Blind Bold, he manually detonated the release charges moments before any protection from the pod would have vanished. Unlike Blind Bold, however, he had much greater luck avoiding the incoming fire, due to the superior output his boosters provided.
Splitting their attention, and thus making Split Moon's avoidance less difficult to maintain, the defenders below also began firing upon Strayed. Because of how close the NEXTs were getting to their target, and the attention now being shared between the descending mechs, damage to the pod was much more spread out, when it was focused against Blind Bold and Les Anees Folles. Due to this, Strayed was able to remain in the pod until the altimeter automatically sent a signal to release the mech within. Because of the lack of Primal Armor, the anti-air weaponry was able to cause significant damage for the beginning of the mission, leaving Strayed with 70% of the standard armor still intact upon landing. Data on the HUD revealed that Split Moon was approaching 50% armor integrity, and losing it fast, due to the singularly focused fire.
Resigned to facing a solo mission with a handicapped start, the pilot directed Strayed toward the colony he was tasked with liberating.
A/N:2: Well, not much else to say, besides the fact that this is it, so far. Hope you enjoyed it.
As far as why Primal Armor isn't allowed, well, Kojima Particles are established to be highly radioactive, and quickly pollute any environments they're introduced to. Earth has practically become a deserted nuclear wasteland because of how widespread the use of Kojima technology became, and is only just making a recovery. Technology made a significant jump forward with the introduction of Element Zero, but the NEXT remained the deadliest weapon ever created by humanity.
Primal Armor and Mass Effect shields are almost the same thing, in functionality. Mass Effect shields are just much more environmentally friendly.