A drop pod is a vehicle used to deploy infantry, auto-armor, and equipment onto a cube layer from the air - or even the inflection layer - above it. Drop pods are typically employed when a traditional airborne insertion or direct-to-ground transport are considered too dangerous, when time is of the essence, or when ground conditions would prevent the vehicles at the commander's disposal from getting to the location through traditional means (i.e. no roads or clear runways). Airships, skystations, skymoths, and some cargo aircraft can deploy drop pods, though fixed-wing aircraft and autogyros typically use traditional airborne insertion techniques rather than employing drop pods.
Most drop pods are unpowered, arresting their fall with parachutes, ballutes, or unpowered gyrocopter rotors. The initially trajectory of a drop pod is set by the vehicle or Skystation that drops it and can subsequently be controlled through a combination of air brakes and small, disposable solid rocket boosters affixed to the outside of the aeroshell. The landing itself is cushioned with air bags or shocks. Once deployed to the surface however, a drop pod is immoble and must be recovered by an airship to be used again.
Weapons & Armament
A drop pod is seldom armed in its basic configuration, but one or more of the auto-armor slots might instead be taken up with a crew-served weapon emplacement to provide fire support for the other passengers.
Armor and defense
The weight limits imposed by air travel set an upper bound on a drop pod's capacity as well as the amount of armor it can mount. Still, the walls of a drop pod provide full concealment for its occupants and a modicum of protection against debris, small arms fire, and environmental conditions. Once landed, a drop pod can be used as a temporary shelter. Dropping under the cover of darkness is often advisable to prevent spotters from tracking the pod to its landing site. One of the major advantages of using a drop pod over more traditional airborne insertion methods is that the contents of a drop pod are usually completely indistinguishable by the enemy. The object falling from the sky could be a decoy, a massive bomb, a drop pod full of troops ready to rumble, or a month's ration of toiletries. There have been attempts to use dieseltech computer technology gauge the contents of a drop pod based on how it wobbles and how fast it falls once its drogue chutes are deployed, but this can also be spoofed by adding sandbags or tanks of liquid as ballast to the pod. Particularly insidious commanders have been known to fill drop pods - weighted and marked to look like cargo - with poisonous gasses, ravenous Distal predators, or disease-carrying carcasses to give any enemies looking to investigate it a nasty shock with long-lasting consequences.
Hangars & docked vessels
Drop pods come in various sizes, the largest of which are capable of housing up to four occupied suits of auto-armor along with a stock of spare rations, fuel, and ammunition. The walls of the aeroshell might be frangible or open with hinged doors to disgorge the passengers.