In the first scenario in the Terminus campaign, the Challengers are ambushed immediately upon landing their shuttle. While the attack is initially directed against the Challengers themselves, Terminus' true objective is to destroy their ship and leave them vulnerable to further attacks.
Commander Aiden struggled uselessly with his ship's controls. Terminus clearly had assumed control. But where were they being taken? The dense cloud cover finally broke, and he could see a barren desert landscape. The ship was starting to slow down, and the landing sequence was somehow triggered. It appeared that Terminus wanted to set them on a high plateau, with an imposing-looking valley just a few hundred meters away.
The ship had barely come to a stop when the proximity alarm sounded. Aiden looked at the scanner - they were being approached from each side by three human-sized metallic objects. There was something else - the unmistakeable signature of light particle weapons. There was no time to waste. He ordered his men to grab their carbines as he lowered the ship's entry ramp.
Terminus' first test had begun.
Since I prefer smaller games than Gavin Syme wrote, I ended up downsizing the suggested forces a bit. I also reduced Terminus' victory conditions from three "demo charges" to one. My Challengers were two five-man teams of Rebel Minis Earthforce Homeguard. The Challengers' ship was represented by Brigade Models' excellent Athena VTOL. I deployed a team on each side of the ship.
I figured Terminus' forces should look like something that can be... controlled. So I went with two teams of three Rebel Minis Scourge Infantry.
The battle was short but intense. I pretty much followed the same sequence each time for the Challengers - Hunker Down with the first action and Shoot with the second. Terminus responded by shooting and moving ever closer to the ship.
Despite their superior weapons, Terminus' warriors weren't very effective in combat. They only managed to get a single Winged result from a Challenger in the first three turns, while five of their number were killed. On the fourth turn, the final Terminus warrior assaulted the Challengers on the ship's starboard side. It killed the Challenger with its final action of the turn. The Challengers on the port side, having dispatched their opponents, raced around the front of the ship to help.
The Terminus warrior had a clear path to the ship. If the Challengers failed to take initiative in the fifth turn, Terminus would destroy their vessel. So I grabbed the dice I had been using... grey for the Challengers, white for Terminus, and threw them into the ol' Litko dice tower.
The Challengers were able to concentrate all of their fire on the single Terminus warrior. It was quickly destroyed.
The Challengers had survived the first challenge from Terminus. But they had lost one of their number, and a second had been Winged during the assault. I rolled on the USE ME post-battle table. He would be forced to carry his Winged counter into Scenario Two.
Terminus had promised each challenge would prove more difficult. After they placed Trooper Jamiss' remains into a cryo-pod, Commander Aiden checked his scanner. He saw numerous small blips in the adjacent valley, closing in on their position. And unlike the mechanisms they had just fought, these appeared to have life signs. There was no time to grieve. He ordered his men to unpack the drone-mounted rail cannons, and sent his lead scout to find a good firing position.
"You may just be getting warmed up, Terminus," thought Aiden. "But you still have no idea who you are facing. No matter what you have, we'll be ready."