"I braced myself for the ripple of impacts, but instead of the explosions I'd expected, I felt no more than the faintest of tremors through the soles of my boots, as the fast-moving projectiles impacted without detonating against the adamantium hull plates. 'They didn't go off!' I said, buoyed up by a sudden surge of relief, which dissipated almost at once as the obvious explanation occurred to me. 'They must be—' "'Prepare to repel boarders,' Gries voxed through the ship's internal speakers, confirming my conclusion before I could voice it."
Boarding another vessel
to capture or sabotage it in the heat of battle is an old standby of science fiction, since like so many of other space tropes it happened on the high seas first
. Sometimes, though, the usual methods for getting your troops to the other ship won't work. Maybe there's a Teleport Interdiction
field in place, and the enemy's Space Fighter
screen would prevent boarding by shuttle. Perhaps their Deflector Shields
are still up so you can't dock at an airlock, and the enemy's security teams probably have the airlocks covered anyway.
Fear not, for Trope Co.
has come to the rescue with the Boarding Pod, which allows an enterprising commander to stuff some troopers into a hollow missile and shoot
them at the enemy. Boarding pods are usually single-use weapons that penetrate the target ship's hull by brute force, bypassing defenses
and unloading Space Marines
in unexpected places. Alternatively they attach to the hull and cut through it with saws or fusion torches or what-have-you. They may or may not have their own propulsion systems and guidance, though those that do have advantages (since space is big
, it's easier to hit the target when you can adjust your trajectory).
Subtrope of Boarding Party
and There Was a Door
, and the ship-to-ship version
of a Drop Pod
. May be part of a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet
and may be used in a High Speed Hijack
. Contrast Escape Pod
, which is when the pod is for getting off
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- Ciaphas Cain:
- At the start of Cain's Last Stand Cain, his commissar cadets, and a PDF force are sent to investigate an asteroid mining operation that went silent. After tangling with tyranids and having to evac, an SDF patrol boat finds that they arrived by means of a mycetic spore from the hive fleet that buzzed through the Perlia System earlier that year.
- In The Emperor's Finest Cain is aboard a Space Marine cruiser tracking a genestealer-infested space hulk. They come out of the warp at one point and are immediately attacked by orks, who board the ship with pods.
- The Mote in God's Eye. After the Imperial battlecruiser MacArthur is taken over by Motie miniatures, the battleship Lenin's cutter is used to get a boarding party onto the MacArthur by ramming through its Langston Field and into the ship.
- In Star Carrier: Deep Space a battalion of USNA Marines use one-man pods to board a Slan warship to rescue a captured fighter pilot. The pods use the setting's ubiquitous nanotech to disassemble their way through the hull.
- In Stargate SG-1 Replicator ships are known to board other vessels by firing a projectile composed entirely of Replicator blocks, which then rearrange themselves into combat forms.
- They're called "breaching pods" in Babylon 5, and in "Severed Dreams" President Clark's forces use them when attempting to retake the station from the heroes. They turn up a couple other times as well. Incidentally, the Earth Force breaching pods share some obvious design traits with the Starfuries.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), when the entire Galactica was used as one to board a Cylon colony.
- Star Trek: Voyager. The Kazon use one of these to steal some of Voyager's advanced technology, much to the surprise of their local expert Neelix who says he's never heard of them using such technology. It's a sign that their former foe Seska is back and is using her knowledge to help the Kazon.
- Flying Buffalo's Berserker board game, based on Fred Saberhagen's Berserker stories. The Human player has ram ships which can pierce the hull of a Berserker ship and release boarding parties inside it.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Space Marines launch small shuttlepods at spaceships they wish to board. These things attach to the other vessel's outer hull and create a breach that allows the troops to enter through it.
- Orks are adepts of such tactics as well, with crafts ramming through the hull to vomit the Green Tide inside.
- The incident with the Necron World Engine, a Planet Spaceship that previously withstood a concerted bombardment from fifteen space marine chapters and almost the entire Imperial Navy sector fleet. In an extreme form of this trope, the Astral Knights chapter rammed their battle barge Tempestus through the shields and crash-landed on the surface, then disembarked and started blasting everything in sight to bring down the shields.
- Usable in gameplay in the spinoff game Battlefleet Gothic, which features both boarding torpedoes (usually unguided) and reusable Assault Boats (shuttlecraft that attach to the hull to cut through).
- X3: Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude allow missile frigates to fire boarding pods, and even have one that can do nothing else (though in practice the Sirokos is Cripplingly Overspecialized). This has both advantages and disadvantages over spacewalk boarding: on the one hand it requires less mechanical skill for your marines to penetrate the hull* , and the pods are a good 200 times faster than jetpacks which makes release position almost a non-issue. On the other hand you now have to distract the enemy's point-defense in addition to keeping their shields lowered* , and then there's the logistics issues since there's no factories available to build your own pods.
- A specialty of the Zuul (whose species name means "pirate" in their own language) in Sword of the Stars. Other species can research them but only specialized ships can carry them, while the Zuul mount them on other ship classes and get the tech for free. While PD missiles are generally good at quickly taking care of the pods, if even one latches onto the hull of a ship (even a massive dreadnought), it will be taken over in a matter of seconds. A bit of Fridge Logic, as this implies that a crew of thousands can't fight off a few dozen enemy marines.
- Used by the Covenant in Halo. They first appear in the opening level of the first game, Halo: Combat Evolved where they are, naturally enough, deploying troops onto our heroes' ship. They repeat this in Halo 2, boarding three of the space stations in Earth's orbital defense grid to blow them up and open a hole for the Prophet of Regret.
- In the the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, at least two flashpoint missions ("The Black Talon" and "The Esseles") feature the players defending against boarding pods or boarding other ships via boarding pods.
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption featured the Space Pirates using strangely organic versions of these to attack and swarm the GFS Olympus at the very beginning of the game, and they were also present attached to the derelict GFS Valhalla. Scanning them mentioned that they were practically Armored Coffins.
- One part of Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior has Shas'la Kais fighting off Imperial Guard stormtroopers who entered an Emissary-class cruiser with these.
- In mission two of The Babylon Project's "The Raider Wars" campaign, the Raiders attack an Earth Alliance freighter convoy, destroying some ships with fighters and attempting to High Speed Hijack the others with breaching pods.
- Star Trek: Armada has the Klingon SuQ'Jagh assault ships that can launch boarding pods capable of penetrating any shields.
- A recent addition to Grinner galleons in Warframe, where the Grineer sometimes use them to board Corpus ships. You can actually sometimes use them yourself when fighting alongside the Grineer in Invasion missions set in space, although sometimes they use more direct means (such as ramming the two ships together and connecting them with a boarding bridge) and the Corpus instead tend to use teleport gates to board Grineer ships when it's time to repay the favour.