Checkmate War Zugzwang
A lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek look at the real robot genre.
Technically, the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting. Now, generally a post-apocalyptic setting assumes that we'll all be shoveling dirt forever afterwards, but this isn't the case here. Forty years ago, World War III broke out under circumstances nobody cares to remember anymore. It all went down - nukes, satellite weapons, the whole shebang. Roughly 90% of humanity was wiped out, and the bulk of the planet was made uninhabitable for the radiation. The remaining 10% remembered to bring their tech with them, however, and so it took about 20 years to rebuild rather than 2,000.
Mankind lives in self-contained cities or space colonies, which are united in small groups of five to ten - of these, two are large enough to be main players. The system of government largely depends on the group - the main characters live in a corporatocracy, with everything being set up as part of one large company. The cities and the areas around them are clean, while the rest of the planet is slowly being cleaned by the roving fallout sweepers, autonomous tank-like devices which suck the lingering radiation from the environment and seed the ground with bacteria to begin replenishing the ecology. In the meantime, food needs are largely met via hydroponics plants within the cities.
There are two main groups of mecha - the hero units are known as Advanced Troopers, or ATs, while the first season's villains instead use the Eva-like Xenomorphic Modules, or XMs.
- Kerykeion: The prototype AT, it was armed with folding blades along its arms and a set of gatling guns on the wrists. It was a test model only, and never saw live combat.
- Kerykeion Mark II: A production model based on the performance data from the original Kerykeion, the Mark II is the workhorse of the Corusa Industries arsenal, armed with a longer armblade than its predecessor as well as trading the gatling guns for the more refined beam submachineguns, two on each wrist. Designed to be a solid all-around unit, the Mark II runs on batteries and prioritizes speed and agility. It's functional both on land and in space, but cannot fly in atmosphere.
- Kerykeion Mark III: The prototype next-generation Kerykeion, the Mark III is the hero's unit for the bulk of the first season after his Mark II is trashed. It begins unarmed save for its submachineguns, which are identical to the Mark II's but visibly stronger. The unit's unique trait is its power source, a baryofission reactor called the Baryonic Drive which was developed on the moon. This is both its greatest strength and a weakness early on, as it's revealed that the frame cannot actually handle the strain. A stopgap measure is produced in the form of a set of energy-consuming equipment, which is destroyed in battle with the Korol - afterwards, the unit is upgraded with its full set of equipment, including its new armblade and a thruster pack that allows it limited atmospheric flight. Between the first and second seasons, the Mark III is mass-produced as a replacement for the Mark II - the makers are careful to make sure that they mass-produce the full thing rather than a watered-down version.
- Pheora: A demonstration in why it's a bad idea to call a short-tempered mechanic a "chick", Pheora is built from scratch onboard the Arbalest near the end of the journey to Earth, and serves as the personal unit of Yui Laryandor. Like the Mark III, it uses a Baryonic Drive which Yui appears to have built herself through unknown means - unlike the Mark III, Pheora takes full advantage of the bosons created as a byproduct of the reaction to allow it to fly freely in atmosphere. Its primary weapons are a set of beam talons on each forearm, standard submachineguns, and a set of four remote weapons called Feather Fangs. Though it fairly well outclasses the Mark III in almost every aspect, Pheora's control scheme is horribly complex for someone who can't intuitively think three-dimensionally, and so it is never mass-produced.
- Streik Falken: A jet fighter designed for all-purpose aerial superiority - it's armed with four plasma cannons, two of which are mounted on detachable funnel pods. It can also be used as a subflight lifter by a Mark II or Mark III to allow for oversea combat.
- Arcenciel: A light tank designed for ground assistance and heavier firepower than a Kerykeion Mark II can equip - its primary armament is the wide-range spectrum cannon mounted on its top, which fires a prismatic laser capable of striking multiple targets successively.
- Peska: The standard XM, equivalent to a larva - it's equipped with a combination beam saber/rifle that forms the entirety of its left arm. While more powerful than the Mark II, it is not as quick.
- Korol: The unique XM that appeared before the Arbalest on their way back to Earth. Power and armor are immense, with its thruster-enhanced graviton axe possessing power enough to crush any shield and its shoulder-mounted shock cannon possessing nearly equal power at range. It was eventually defeated by Alexander Kanbara in the completed Kerykeion Mark III, and subsequently destroyed by Pomfret Akumu in the Ladja.
- Ladja: A rare and powerful class of XM, possessing power and speed equal to the Mark III. Its energy manipulation abilities are greatly enhanced over a Peska's, giving it the ability to release concussive blasts of blood-red energy or form beam sabers over its hands. One of note was piloted by Pomfret following his demotion, and was the only XM not to be slain in the conflict. In the second season, it upgrades itself by consuming the heart of an Estark after its armor is shattered, enabling it to regenerate and enhance its own abilities. Incidentally, this Ladja is a female, which does not go unnoticed by the rest of the cast.
- Ferz: A fully matured XM of the same class as the Ladja, piloted by Sealt Arris during her ship's pursuit of the Arbalest. The frame has taken on a lizard-like body structure, with digitigrade legs assisted by organic wheels in the back of each foot for high-speed overland travel and enormous jumping capability. The right arm grows out of proportion with the left, forming a massive three-fingered claw which can crush an AT with ease and project its reach via energy manipulation.
- Kon: A heavy bomber-type XM - possesses remarkable durability for an aerial unit, armed with twin railguns, smaller chainguns, and a nose which functions as a beam saber for use as an impact weapon. Like a Streik Falken, it can be used as a subflight lifter for a groundbound XM. One of note is piloted by Kareita Afrit.
- Slon: A heavy tank-type XM possessing some traits of a crocodile. Armed primarily with a large, extremely strong mega launcher weapon on its back. One of note is piloted by Kareita Afrit.
- Alexander Kanbara: The hero of the story, a young pilot serving aboard the Arbalest on its mission to acquire and transport the Kerykeion Mark III to Earth.
- Yui Laryandor: One of the mechanics serving aboard the Arbalest - she eventually is upgraded to pilot status when she constructs Pheora.
- Sera and Reese Ryship: Twin bridge bunnies onboard the Arbalest, distinguishable only by their hair color.
- Lydia Radsorm: The Arbalest's captain.
- Ian Corusa: The CEO of Corusa Industries, a gifted engineer and strategist.
- Pomfret Akumu: The original pilot of the Korol - later demoted and given the technically weaker Ladja after disobeying orders and deploying in Korol without authorization. Alex's rival for the entire first season - returns in the second acting on his own, still piloting Ladja.
- Sealt Arris: The captain of the battlecruiser Patient One, which pursues the Arbalest on its journey. Occassionally pilots the powerful XM Ferz.
- Kareita Afrit: A child soldier serving on the Patient One, who pilots both the Kon and Slon units.
- Damon Crow: The mysterious leader of the faction which pilots the XMs. Nobody, not even his own followers, seem to have an inkling of his motives...