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Fight for Earth (XCOM Enemy Within)
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Jonzac



MEDAL

Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 237 on topic

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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 01:56    Post subject: Fight for Earth (XCOM Enemy Within) Reply with quote Print

Well I have like four different X3:AP and X3:LU stories floating around in my head, all half written. I've lost the save for my Terran story so I'll have to just imagine that one.

To clear my head of X3 I decided to write a small story for XCOM (they both have X in it right?). It's not great, I'm not editing a ton just more of a writer's block mechanism....that said. Its vanilla XCOM Enemy Within, on Normal with Ironman enabled. (Means game automatically saves after every decision and every battle meaning there is no way to go back and reverse a bad decision.) Additionally, I've added some "Second Wave" options in the form of random stat changes for promotions and random skill trees for classes.

That said here is the start of the story, and I'll be glad to add your names for fodder, I mean grunts as the story progresses.

Also, a warning for salty language. I work with military folks and we are not soft spoken.
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This wasn’t like every other mission I had been on. We could all tell that even by the aircraft we were picked up on. I mean, I’ve been dropped from, jumped out of, or been briefed on every type of way we could be covertly dropped into a hostile AOR and there was never any mention of a jet powered hovercraft the size of C-27 Spartan. The pick up at 0315 was nothing unusual, but not being able to tell where we were definitely had me and the rest of the team on edge.

We disembarked in a strangely cavernous area the aircraft had landed in. Looking up we could see a large tunnel leading up and a hatch irising closed far above. Right then a memory of watching an old TV show with my Dad about a cool helicopter that fought bad guys and was based in the interior of one of those crazy towers in Wyoming came to mind. I wish I could remember the name; the helicopter would have fit in with the area here.
We moved into a briefing room, but I could tell we were being kept from several other areas. I motioned to the rest of my team to keep an eye out. I didn’t recognize the uniforms and I didn’t see anyone I personally recognized yet either. We ended up waiting for about a half-hour, we didn’t talk at all. The team was operating like we were in a hostile environment and I was fine with that.

“Please be seated.” The voice said behind me and I turned around and started toward the owner of the voice.

“You bastard, what the hell are you doing here?” Two guards were that were flanking him stepped up with their hands on the GR-36’s they carried. I started at that son of a bitch Bradford, “There is no way I’m doing a damn thing with you.”

“Hello, Sam. I’m sure this is a surprise for you, but we have a lot to cover and very little time to do so.”

“Room, Ten-hut.” General Votel, USSOCOM commander walked through. “Commander Jenkins, thank you for coming, please take a seat.”

The general looked at my team, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sure your very confused on why you are here and while Bradford will give you the specifics I wanted to be here to show you this is a legitimate operation with Presidential and my approval. Frankly Sam, things have gone to hell pretty damn quickly. You and your team are the way we are moving forward. Sam, you have now been put in charge of a clandestine operation called XCOM and Bradford here is your number two in the organization.” He could see my face starting to turn red and cut me off, “I know you have issues with him, but frankly I don’t care and I’m not sure you know the whole story anyway.”

He turned to the back and a video came up of a strange object landing in a city and spewing a green gas that seemed to trap and kill several civilians. “What you are seeing here is proof that we are not alone. Yes, I’m talking about E ****** T landing on Earth and not being friendly.” The team started muttering and he waved a hand, “I realized how crazy that sounds but it is true, this is not man made and we have made first contact and they definitely are not friendly. The XCOM project has been around since the 50s in various government organizations, but with a proven incursion our government, in conjunction with others around the globe, have decided to officially stand up and recognize you.”

“Me?” I turned to him, “Don’t you mean the Army, sir?”

“No I don’t Sam. I meant you and your XCOM team. You will be leading the effort to coordinate XCOM’s effort to identify and defeat this enemy. Right now the armed forces around the world will support, but we will be tied up with public control and damage mitigation. We hope that a small operation with significant funding will be able to more rapidly respond in a unified matter. You are that team.”

“You also are now officially on the clock, I had the rest of your team moved to an incursion site, Sam. A four person team is about to land in Kansas City. They have been briefed on the situation and you can run the op from here. I will do anything I can you help you. Good Luck.”

The General left and I was standing there looking at that bastard Bradford. “Fine apparently we’re stuck with each other…for now. So where is the ops room?”

Bradford turned and led down a passage way to a large room that was a standard ops center in many ways. I could see the LZ and the cameras on each of the team. Bradford handed me a headset and motioned to a tech sitting at a console. I took a breath, “Matt, this is Fox.”

“****, sir. Glad to hear your voice. This shit true?”

“Unfortunately, it is big guy. You are about to hit a LZ against little green men. Sounds weird as shit, but I’ve seen the videos and it looks legit. Good news is we have confirmation that they die and bleed just fine. So with that said, you have local control. I’m monitoring but there are no additional assets available and no backup. Things get pear shaped then you book it back to the extraction point, copy?”

Matt and his fireteam rogered and moved out of the VTOL. They landed on the outskirts of Kansas City at a diner along State Route 150 and Holmes Road. Matt had Liz and Fiona move right while he and Makoto hit the corner of the building to cover inside and the left flank.

“Sweet Baby Jesus,” Matt yelled, “Contact. Two grey things in the kitchen. They split with one staying and one moving back into another room.”

“That is what we are calling a Grey,” Bradford whispered to me. We’ve seen them before at the first site.”

The camera showed one of the Greys looking at the other and a purple ethereal thread springing up between them. The one Grey that was in the kitchen sprinted into the dining room right as Matt hit the wall in the corner. Liz took a shot, but missed and the Grey raised his arm and green bolts spit out hitting Makota.

“Damn, I’m hit.” Makota grunted and pulled a grenade off his belt and throwing it at the tango. The grenade went off shattering the table the Grey was behind, but it was still standing. Matt took another shot and missed. I saw Liz move up to a window along the building wall and send a burst downrange that killed the tango. Fiona also moved up to the building edge and put a three round burst on the second target with two of them hitting it in the head and putting it down.

Liz and Fiona then moved into the building to start clearing it and the kitchen with Makota and Matt who were in overwatch on the left flank called out movement of two more Grey’s. Makota’s burst missed, but Matt made up for it putting rounds into one of the Grey’s putting it down. The other one tried to skitter back, but Liz drew a bead from inside the building and put an accurate burst down range killing it. The team then conducted a room to room search and cleared the area. They found remnants of weapons on the Greys and two strange looking canisters that glowed yellow.
Bradford turned after getting the all clear and started what was obviously a rehearsed cleanup operation. I left him to it while getting directions to my office and motioning to my team to close up and follow me.

After finding my office and closing the door behind us I turned to look at my team. “So what do you think?”

“Sir, that was some of the weirdest shit I’ve seen.” Matt shrugged, “We’ve been through a lot together and I’m in this if you’re in charge, but I don’t trust Bradford.” The look he gave me reminded me that I wasn’t the only one that had an axe to grind with Bradford.

“I’m not sure what we fought, skipper, but it died when we shot it and I don’t see where aliens or terrorists get a free pass.” Fiona chimed in.

“Ok, ok. We’re in and that means dealing with Bradford and that is my problem not yours, alright?” I waited for the others to nod. “I’m not sure where were we are headed with this, but stand down now and let me know how Makota is, alright?”

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Jonzac



MEDAL

Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 237 on topic

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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 02:01    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

The team headed out and I opened up the computer and started reviewing the actions Bradford had been coordinating. He had the cleanup team bring all the material that was of alien origin, as well as, the bodies themselves, back for analysis. I was called down to the science laboratory to meet the director of that division, Dr. Vahlen. She’s a tall, blonde German, of course she’s German, who started the briefing with the available routes of inquiry she thinks is available.

“Sir, we have several options we can pursue at this time. We have the actual alien bodies themselves, the remains of their weapons, and finally this material that we have found in containers at the combat site. I recommend the study of the alien itself, as we currently have weapons that are effective a more detailed examination of the alien could take us down some fascinating paths.” Her German accented contralto was extremely fun to listen to, but I disagreed with her analysis.

“I understand your reasoning, doctor. Your approach is perfect from a purely scientific standpoint, however, we need to understand and replicate the alien’s weapons as soon as possible. I mean one of those Greys took a full blast from a grenade and was still standing, without body armor. We need to get better weapons into the field.”

She simply nodded her head while looking me in the eye, “I trust Commander that future explorations into ‘pure’ science is something that you’ll give full consideration too?”

“Of course, Doctor. I understand your frustration, and I do agree we need to know more about them, however, I need to keep the teams alive long enough for us and your team to find us those answers.”

The next several days were spent with normal administrative duties. The base was new and frankly I wasn’t going to let Bradford do whatever he wanted with no supervision. I had the team start working out with some new recruits that were already inbound when I accepted this command. They seemed alright, they were from around the world and I knew several of them from working with their countries’ spec-ops in the past.

Almost a week had past and the routine was just settling in, when an alarm started blaring through the base and the intercom requested my presence in the situation room. I ran down the walkway and moved into the large command center. That bastard Bradford was there looking at the projection of Earth and the three red alert symbols on its surface.

“Sir, we have three confirmed incursions. One in Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Birminham, UK; and Vancouver, Canada. I’m sure you’ve seen the problem, we have only one Skyranger and assault team and three sites to choose from.”

I just stared at him, of course I could see that but the cold, callous way he talked about our inability to protect all of the world made me want to deck him. “I see that Bradford, thank you.” You bastard. I didn’t see away around it, South Africa and Vancouver were just not as populated at Birmingham nor as critical a manufacturing area.

“Ok, send Liz, Fiona, Matt to the Skyranger. Let them know I’ll be joining them.”

“Sir, is that a good idea? You’re the commander now, not a team member.”
Slowly turning my head, I just started at him. The others in the command room shifted and pointedly looked at their screens. “Thank you for that input, Central Officer Bradford, but I need to see these Grey’s close up. Now get the mission parameters loaded.”

He saluted as I turned and jogged down to the staging area and shrugged into my assault harness. I was still seething at Bradford. Of course, I was still with the teams. I needed to see how these ops worked from the ground or I would turn into the same time of officer that had put my team into bad situation in the past.

The Skyranger, the name they gave to the new VTOL aircraft they have to carry troops, took off and I looked over the team. Fiona, has shifted to an assault with breaching equipment loadout. A shotgun and grenades, with Liz moving into the squad heavy weapons support role. She had a SAW and AT-4 with the anti-personnel sleeve added. Matt and I were stock infantry with FN SCAR assault rifles and grenades. Given what we’d seen on the first op this loadout should give us enough long range firepower to suppress the enemies and Fiona should be able to breach and cover in an urban environment.

We arrived at 0120 local in the middle of the town, the civilians had been evacuated and the MOD had established a perimeter with local police and a few army personnel. They were calling up an army unit, one of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers I think. Bradford’s voice over the comm channel cut through my reverie, “Alight team, Operation Silent Crane is ready to commence. You are two minutes away from dropzone.”

“Any way we can lose him from the chain of command?” Matt whispered around his boom mike, “I don’t ****** trust him, sir.”

“I don’t either, Matt, but right now I’ve got no one else that can fill his spot. As soon, as I can get someone I can trust trained, and General Votel to sign off, he’s out of here.”

Matt looked back and nodded and then headed to the rear of the VTOL to get ready to egress.

The Skyranger came down and we deployed out the back ramp. We had landed at the intersection of Bristol and Bromsgrove streets and there was a large, brick store in front of us. I motioned and the team moved right using cars as cover until we could close on the building. I took tail-end Charlie, when Fiona called out.

“Contact, two Grey’s in the road.” I heard the hiss of the alien’s fire in front of me as those Greys, once again connected by that strange purple thread took a shot at Fiona and missed, but blew a large section of wall she was taking cover behind.

“Move, move, cover at the building.” I ordered and moved up the road to hide behind a truck that was abandoned there.

“CONTACT!” came over the radio from Liz who had just reached the doorway of the store, “Two Greys inside the building. They are scattering and taking cover by the counter. I am engaging.” She unhooked the AT-4 and swung it around, shattering the window to clear the flight path.

“Eat this!” She yelled as she let the rocket fly. The anti-personnel sleeve of the AT-4 turned the anti-armor round into an effective anti-personnel one. The rocket sped forward and impacted the wall directly between the two Greys in the building. The blast sent hundreds of small metal balls screaming into the room ripping through both of the aliens, causing green blood to by shot in all directions. “Tango’s down, two tango’s down.”

Liz then dropped the one-shot AT-4 and sprinted into the building to hide behind a support column and Matt moved forward into her recently vacated spot. He quickly got a burst off and hit one of the Grey’s in the road, but didn’t put it down. I had a good line-of-sight and squeezed off a round hitting the Grey that Matt had injured right at the base of the throat, sending it flying backward to rest in an ever expanding pool of green ooze.

The Grey seemed to freeze and Liz moved from her spot behind the support column to the hole in the wall the AT-4 had created. She quickly opened up with suppressive fire on the Grey, hitting hit with a stream of bullets that all but decapitated it. The team moved forward through the rest of the building and entire block, but this was apparently a small incursion. Why would they send so few into a large urban setting, why not attack in mass? I headed back the Skyranger, while Bradford arraigned for the cleanup. I figured I would catch a few hours of sleep on the way back.

Reaching the base, I headed up to Control to talk to Bradford. “Any issues in South Africa and Canada?”

“Some, sir. Neither place had a close army unit to intervene and the local cities were busy outside the areas handling the confusion and evacuation. I’ve been watching the news channels and right now the civilian populace is so confused that nothing is making sense. There is some panic in both places, but nothing that we haven’t seen after a natural disaster.”

“I wonder what they are doing, why not a full planetary invasion? Why this penny packet approach?” I looked over at Bradford, expecting one of those looks he gives when he has a secret and is holding it away from you, but that’s not what I saw.

“I don’t know Sam. It doesn’t make any sense; maybe these are just recon units. For all we know they aren’t alive and just expendable parts of a hive mind, kind of like bees.” He seemed genuinely frustrated. “We just don’t know enough to actually understand and formulate a response. I think we can rule out peaceful interaction as they’ve always come armed and very hostile.”

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Jonzac



MEDAL

Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 237 on topic

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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 02:12    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

The next day Bradford forwarded me a request from the Argentinean government that asked for priority in receiving XCOM satellite coverage. There was already a satellite ready to be deployed at Canaveral and in return the Argentineans would up there immediate funding level. I wanted to start setting up a network that would give us better warning on future alien attacks so I authorized the launch which filled up our remaining bandwidth. I sat down with Dr. Shen, the head of XCOM’s A4/7 logistics division, and we mapped out a plan for base expansion and capabilities. I had him start the project to lengthen the main elevator shaft so we can expand the base below the current level. Additionally, there is a thermal vent that we can use to create our own power, independent of the national electrical grid. Finally, I had him start a more advanced workshop on the first level of the base for future manufacturing capability.

It was amazing just how much technology the government had. DARPA had the capability to rapidly tunnel through rock while automated machinery put it supports and wall structures behind the digging rig, amazing stuff. They also had retrofitted several F-22s with more advance missile types with upgraded tracking and warhead capability, they called them Avalanches. I hoped they would work if we ever needed them.

“Commander, this is Dr. Vahlen. Could you please come to the laboratory, I have a status report on the weapons fragments you asked us to look at.”

“I’ll be right there Dr. Vahlen, hopefully it’s good news.”

After a quick trip to the laboratory, my hopes were lowered after hearing her results.

“So finally, Commander, while we cannot yet replicate the alien’s weapons, we can replicate a human equivalent to their hand weapons tracking and aiming system. Dr. Shen has assured me he can build them to fit onto existing weapons and tie into an upgraded helmet mounted HUD system, he calls them S.C.O.P.Es”

Looking at her, “Like the marines in Aliens?”

“I don’t quite understand, Commander. This item is not an alien artifact, it is a specifically modified tool that provides equivalent targeting support that the aliens currently enjoy.”

Waving my hands to showed I understood, I realized that she would never get a movie reference. “Thank you Doctor, this is good news. Now why don’t you start on the protocols needed for an autopsy of the Greys.”

“Oh, thank you Commander. We have already been thinking about that and I should have something back to you next week.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

Another week passed, which was helpful as the elevator shaft had been extended and the excavation of the thermal vent was underway. The satellite over Buenos Aries was up and running and DARPA had delivered two more F-22s that I had stationed in Argentina to cover that area, now that I had some satellite coverage.

Late on the 15th of March, an alert went off in the base and I ran into Control. Bradford was already on duty and coordinating the alert.

“Status report, Bradford.”

“Sam, looks like the satellite network caught a small UFO entering Earth’s atmosphere over the United States Midwest. Should I scramble the interceptors?”

“Yes, scramble both. Their orders are to immediately open fire and bring that UFO down.” If they could, I finished to my self.

“Yes, sir. Ravens one and two you are cleared to launch.”

I looked down at the monitors and marveled again at the tech we had. The modified F-22s fit into a vertical launch catapult and they were shot out of the top of the base with enough speed to hit Mach 1 within 15 seconds. I shifted my attention to the large holographic display that showed Raven flight closing in on the UFO. I’m not sure the aliens saw the interceptors as the bleed off of radiation and heat from their reentry must have been playing hell with their systems.

“Closing in, Raven 2, split now, now, now.” The flight lead called out and I watched as Raven 2, rolled and pulled straight down, losing over 10000 feet of altitude before leveling out and moved to pinch the UFO between the two.

“Control, this is Raven 1, I have good tone. Fox two, fox two.” The aircraft let out two of its six missiles, followed by another ripple of two more. “Shit, it’s firing back at us. I’ve been hit...noting serious I have control. Good tone on the missiles.”

I watched the telemetry and the first missile hit while the rapidly evading UFO caused the second to overshoot. It had bled speed to do so and both the third and fourth missiles hit sending the UFO careening to the ground.
“Good hit, UFO spinning out of control. Scratch one UFO.” Raven 1’s pilot sounded like all pilots do after a shoot down.

“Good job, Raven 1.” I answered, “RTB and great shooting.”

Bradford was bent over a console down in the pit and then looked up motioning the tech to display what was on his console to the holograph, “Sir, we have a problem.”

I looked at the display and saw it was the crash site of the UFO as Bradford continued, “The UFO has hit in rural Oklahoma, but it looks intact. I recommend sending a team to inspect the ship before I send in the cleanup teams.”

Looking at the display I could see that the UFO had received very little noticeable damage after three missile hits and a crash landing. We needed to get that UFO back to base to start studying it, but Bradford was right. Something was strange here, if the UFO had survived there was no reason that any aliens inside the thing might have made it as well.

“Alight, send Fiona, Liz, Matt and Hassan.” I stopped and thought of the team make up, close range specialist, heavy weapons; Matt with his sniper requal complete, and a newbie. That would work, “Lift off in fifteen.”

Bradford nodded and turned to start issuing the necessary commands, while I looked at the mission parameters for Operation Twisted Sword, amazing the intel pukes had actually come up with an ops name that was appropriate and cool.

Fourty-five minutes later the team landed at 1906 local and egressed the Skyranger. The area was in a remote area of northwestern Oklahoma. It was lightly wooded with a few hills and rock outcroppings. The team egress and Matt started issuing orders for a counterclockwise sweep around the UFO. He wanted to clear the area around the UFO before attempting a breach. Watching the op through the four individual cameras and the drone overhead gave me a great situational awareness and a feeling of helplessness. The team adopted a diamond formation with Hassan leading, Liz and Fiona on the flanks and Matt in the rear.

“Contact, two Greys. 75 meters out at that hill. Damnit they moved back behind the crest of the hill.” Hassan called out as he took cover behind a rock.

“Roger that, Hassan.” Matt called out as he moved up beside Hassan and covered the hill with his sniper rifle. “Fiona, Liz start back right and work your way to the base of the hill. There is some cover there. Try and get a good position on them. We can hear them moving around, but have no visual.”

“Roger that, Matt.” Liz answered back as she moved out and stopped in overwatch as Fiona moved past her. The two of them bounded forward for another 50 meters before turning to approach the hill.

“Ok, on my mark, we move out. Fiona and Hassan first, then Liz and I….Mark.”

Fiona and Hassan moved out right as Matt caught a glimpse of movement on the hill. It was farther East that previously and before he could call out a warning, the two Greys opened up and each one tagged their target.

“God damn, stupid son-of-a-bitch.” Fiona was always expressive when the bullets started flying, especially when she got hit, and I watched as Matt and Liz moved up and bounded ahead. Liz slammed into a rock outcropping and leaning left sighted a target. Wasting no time, she brought up the SAW and put a full burst downrange sending one Grey flying backwards like a rag doll.

“Moving up,” Liz called out.

“No, damnit Liz. I don’t have you covered.”

Liz jumped to another rock as green fire missed her head by a foot. “**** you!” she yelled as she cut loose with another burst. “Tango down. Tango down.”

“God damnit, Liz. You stupid….” I heard Matt bite down on his comment, “Close up and rally at the hill.”

The rest of the team moved up and I heard gasp over the comm net. “Control, we have the UFO in sight. I see some damage, but nothing significant. Fiona and Hassan start moving to the right and see if you can get a look inside through that hole.”

The two started to move out, leap frogging each other when Hassan called out, “Contact. Two more Greys at the edge of the UFO. They are scattering, it looks like back into the ship. Taking cover.” I watched as the contacts were lost. Thirty seconds later, both Liz and Matt opened up.

“Tango just came out of the door we were watching. The glowing forcefield went down. We both missed. Shit, that was close.” Matt flinched as bolts of green death hit the rock he was hiding behind. “I have the shot.” I heard the round fired, “Scratch one tango, control. Anyone have eyes on the second one?”

A chorus of negatives through the comm channel came through. “Ok, Hassan and Fiona, continue your sweep. Liz and I have overwatch of this entrance.” I watched the drone feed as Hassan moved forward around the rock he was hiding again, then out of nowhere more green bolts of fire splashed all around him.

“Damnit, found him. He’s pulling back. Control do you have eyes on him.”

I hit the microphone, “Roger that Hassan, it’s pulled back to the next clump of trees 20 meters forward and to your right. Hassan moved around the rock and I could see him pull his grenade out and throw it toward the trees. The drone caught the explosion and I could see the Grey being thrown against a tree and stop moving. “I think you got it, Hassan. Nice toss.” He gave a thumbs up to the drone and then moved to a covering spot as Fiona got ready to move in.

“Alright team,” Matt said, “I’m not going to guarantee it, but we have no sight of additional aliens inside the UFO. Fiona, go ahead and move in.”
Fiona moved out from the rock and ran to take partial cover behind some debris at the crash site. Suddenly she screamed, “What the hell! CONTACT, oh my God, what the hell is that.”

Matt and Liz saw a glowing yellow light form into a tall golden colored alien that quickly moved to cover. They both took a shot and missed after the complete and utter surprise. Hassan also saw the golden alien through the hole in the UFO and squeezed off a burst, a very accurate burst and he saw sparks as the bullets hit home with seemingly no effect.

“NOOooo,” he cried out as the alien raised a much bigger weapon than the Grey’s had been using and put out an accurate burst at Fiona, whose head seemed to explode like a melon under the plasma bolt put out by the aliens gun. “Noooooooooo,” Hassan screamed and triggered another burst down range that caused the alien to jerk back into cover.

“Target in sight,” Matt’s cool, detached voice came over the comms. He squeezed the trigger of his Mk21 Precision Sniper Rifle and watched the head of the alien snap back. “Tango down.” He whispered as he watched the strange new life form coalesce into some strange yellow crystal.

The team continued their sweep, but there were no more aliens alive. “Control, site secured. We found evidence of four more Greys in the wreckage that must have been killed by the attack or the crash. Request evac.”

“Roger that, Matt. Skyranger inbound.” I turned to Bradford, “Start the cleanup operation, Bradford. Let me know when the team arrives.” He nodded and then turned to his monitor to finish the operation.

An hour later I was at the landing pad of the Skyranger, joined by most of the base as they lined up in a double line to the door. The med crew rushed in as the ramp opened to see to Hassan and after a few minutes they wheeled him on his gurney to the Medbay. Ten minutes later, another gurney was wheeled down escorted by Matt and Liz. The gurney started the journey from the Skyranger to the morgue and as it passed though the line everyone would snap to attention and render a salute as the group slowly stepped through. Everyone would hold the salute until the procession had passed them and then drop back to parade rest. Finally, after the body of Fiona Kerrigan left the hanger the troops and support personnel slowly moved off to whatever they were doing before.

I stood there looking at the door my friend Fiona had just been wheeled through. She was not the first casualty my team had endured, but that didn’t make the hurt and anger magically go away. I turned and made my way down to see Dr. Shen.

He saw me enter and quickly moved to greet me, “Commander, please let me extend my condolences for Ms. Kerrigan.”

“Thanks, Doc. I was wondering if you had any ideas for a medkit using some of this advanced technology. The weapons the aliens are using cause so much damage that any hit is likely fatal or extremely debilitating.”
The doctor looked at me with a troubled look on his face, “Sir, I hate to mention this but we already have an advanced medical kit. Its fully automated for any soldier to use and we had it built with adaptable nanotechnology to augment rapid cell regeneration in a highly localized area. In short, it stiches the skin back together by spraying the healing agent.” I stared at him and he realized I had no idea what he was talking about. “Sir, we just need your order to manufacture the medical kits. They are bulking and only hold one application, but I think they are exactly what you are looking for.”

I just continued to stare at him, then gave myself a shake. “Yes, Doctor. Please manufacture several of the medkits for our use. One question, did Bradford know about these medkits?”

“I believe so, Commander.”

“Thank you again, Doctor. If you will excuse me.” I turned and walked back to Control where that cocksucker Bradford was. He turned as he heard me walk up just in time to catch the right hook I was swinging. He crumpled to the ground.

“You son-of-a-bitch, you knew we had a medkit that could have saved Fiona and all of the wounded we’ve had? Stand up you sack of shit so I can knock you down again.”

“What the hell, Sam. Of course I knew and so did you. At least you would have known if you just talked to me or read your damn email. I asked you for permission to build one as a test, but you never responded and I don’t have the GODDAMN AUTHORIZTION to get it built.” He yelled, “Votel made you the Commander, Sam and then locked me out of the organization I’ve been building for ten ****** years. I can’t authorize anyone to take a shit without your OK. So if you’re looking to blame someone, AGAIN, then look in the mirror you sanctimonious prick!” He picked himself off the ground, “If you every suckerpunch me again, I put you in the hospital.”

I stood there breathing heavily as his words sunk in. I had so much email and I hated going through all the routine bull reports and frankly I didn’t trust Bradford and often just deleted his email as pure bull. I could have saved Fiona and I didn’t because I hated this bastard so much.

“Fine, your right I’ll take responsibility. Frankly, I should have expected you to pass the buck. I don’t suppose that you could have come and talked to me.”

“When would that be, Sam. You ignore me, bypass me, belittle me in front of the entire base. So excuse me if I don’t just continue to be your whipping boy.” He continued to breath heavily and flex his hands into fists, “Perhaps if you pull your head out and talk to the one guy that’s been involved in this for the last decade you might not have killed Fiona.”

I started at him, when Matt and Liz appeared behind me and grabbed my arms, “Ok, boss. We’re good. Why don’t you come back here with us and leave him alone.”

I let them pull me back and escort me to my office. I motioned to them to sit and reached into my bottom drawer and pulled out the Johnny Walker, Black Label. I pulled out three glasses and poured three stiff drinks. Handing them out and then raising our glasses, “To Fiona.” We then finished the whiskey in one motion and smashed the glasses on the ground.

“**** me, guys. I just found out we had a way to save her and I didn’t. I just didn’t want to talk to the bastard and it cost us Fiona. Son of a bitch, I’m sorry.”

Liz and Matt looked at each other and shrugged, “Sometimes boss, it’s your time. You know that as well as we do. It sucks, it sucks big time, but we’ll get the bastards. We’ll make them pay.”

“Thank, I know we will. I want to kill them all. First they come here and try to take what’s ours, well ****’em.” We all looked at each other, nodded and then went our separate ways.

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Annette Barret





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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 06:33    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Jonzac:

I like the story so far but have to confess I haven't heard of XCOM or the Ironman whatever. Still I doubt anyone on this forum will take exception to that, they are all like me... suckers for a good story.

Looking forward to more.


Annette.

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Jonzac



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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 07:09    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

XCOM is a remake of the 1980's hit XCom UFO Defense. It takes an alien invasion and you are the commander of a small defense force funded by all of Earth's governments.

For us old gamers (ie. I remember and had PONG) it was one of the best games of the 80s and the remake (available on STEAM) is a worthy successor. I can't wait for the next installment where Earth LOSES the war and XCOM is driven underground as a terrorist force against the aliens and their human puppet governments.

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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 07:17    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Good to see you around Jonzac. I don't know if you're aware of it but you gave my writing a shot of morality.

Also, if you like XCOM, you should really give the Long War Mod by Johnny Lump and company a try. Jake Solomon, the lead designer for XCOM, has actually been referring to XCOM Enemy Within, the official game, as a 20 hour tutorial for Long War. It's that good... although, it will now take you several hundred hours to complete.

Either way, looking forward to more. Keep that salty language coming.


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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 14:19    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I still like X-Com Interceptor, it's the one that got me into space games and eventually lead me to X3. So yay!


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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 14:53    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Thanks Scion,

I did enjoy writing Chief and if that had an impact on your story then I am humbled beyond belief. I find coming up with outlines or broad story arcs fun and easy, but the actual grind and work of conversations and the small details are still beyond me...for now.

I have played the Long War and its great. Hard and a little repetitive in the middle but I thought for a story that vanilla would be better

Thankfully I have a day job. Wink

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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 21:49    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Doing it as an after action report works pretty well for me.

Chief was awesome though.


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PostPosted: Tue, 1. Dec 15, 21:53    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Chief was awesome, and humbling you was not my intention. I really enjoyed the Chief and thought him, Calon Bro, and Kleo Rana ganging up on a kid that was way too big for his britches was just perfect. I'm also gluttonously absorbing all of the military jargon in your writing. My time in the Navy didn't have quite the same feel. I was a machinist mate in a specific field that tended to be... less than formal? Now, as a writer, I regret not paying more attention. The language you use, the acronyms and verbiage create an authenticity that I envy.

In any case, it's good to see you still around and I do look forward to more. I always wanted to deck Bradford myself... that or just tell him to take a Valium during EXALT missions. Wink


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PostPosted: Wed, 2. Dec 15, 07:25    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Well, I was a Boatswain Mate for eight years in the Navy Reserve then moved to be an officer in the Air Force after that. So I've been in the military for the last 29 years or so...all of it around folks that are a bit "salty."

Chief was fun especially his attitude toward Wildcat...he was just like several of the young fighter pilots I dealt with at the time...good fun to write.

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PostPosted: Wed, 2. Dec 15, 09:09    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Aye, I had Bosun's for RDI's. Before meeting them I had no idea the human being was capable of either such volume or such vulgarity. I do believe the Boatswain's Mate may just be the definition of "salty".

And aye, Wildcat did like to push the envelope. I think he made me a better writer, too. I was constantly adapting to his latest shenanigans.


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PostPosted: Thu, 3. Dec 15, 05:47    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I had been asleep for just four hours when the alarm in my room started wailing, jerking me up and out of my bed. Hurriedly throwing on my uniform I headed to the Command Room.

“Status report.”

“Three additional incursion sites, sir.” Bradford pointed at the hologram. “Salvador, Brazil; Hong Kong and Alexandria, Egypt.”
Looking at the map, I once again had to choose which site would give me the greatest political and economic benefit. Looking at Bradford I asked, “Did the Chinese government give us clearance into Hong Kong?”

“No, sir. We would have to go in completely black, but the op is right in downtown.”

“So China is out and frankly I’m not going to get in the middle of Egypt right now for any reason. So that leaves Brazil. Send out Elsa Delgado, Anne Dixon, Makoto with Matt Wagner as team lead.”

Bradford nodded and made the necessary calls. I headed back to my office to get some work done, while the team transited to the incursion site. After my last run in with Bradford, I had started clearing my inbox religiously. It was tedious, in fact, I’d rather drive a dull pencil through my left eye…slowly…it would be less painful than the paperwork; but it had to get done.

I would never allow my inaction to jeopardize my troops again.
Bradford nodded as I enter the Command Room again, “Sir, the Skyranger is five minutes out. LZ is cold and satellite support is up and running. I flipped a half salute at him and looked at the hologram. It was now configured in an overhead 3D display of the LZ, a small construction site at the edge of Salvador along Avenida das Amoreires and Alameda Salvador near the Hotel Intercity.

There was a basement dug in the middle of the site with several office trailers placed around it. There were several pieces of large equipment in the hol and spread around the site. I have no idea what the aliens would want in this place. I was frustrated, I didn’t understand them. Normally, you can find a pattern or a goal that the enemy wanted. I couldn’t with them, in fact they most closely mirrored small terrorist cells. Independent from each other with no further goal than wanton destruction and wide-spread terror.

Regardless, the team had arrived and I watching the hologram I opened up the channel the team was using. I loved this hologram and the SA it gave me, I had to remind myself not to start controlling the op from here. The situation was only as good as the sensors on the ground.

“Ok, Delgado and Dixon, move to the first trailer and clear it before we move out. Makoto and I will watch the left flank.”

The two girls moved out, flanking the door and slowly opening it. Makoto used one of those weird alien pods they drop as cover and Matt was at the corner of the trailer.

“Trailer clear,” Elsa whispered. “Moving to far side.” Watching their icons slowly move across the trailer to the windows on the other side. “No contacts. We’re clear through here and no XRays in the center hole.”

“Roger, that.” Matt motioned Makota to move up to the second trailer on the left side using the equipment as cover. Matt covered him then trailed up and they both took opposite corners of the building.

“Wagner, Delgado. I have sound contact to the right of the hole. Dixon and I are moving to investigate.” Putting action to words they busted through the windows. Dixon took cover behind another alien pod and Delgado was at the gate of the fence that surrounded the dug hole. The team stood in place for about 30 seconds with no further contacts.

“Ok, D & D. Hold tight while Makoto and I clear this trailer.”

A three round burst from behind him spun Matt around as Makoto came up on the net, “Contact. Two groups of Greys, four XRays total. Well three now.” Makoto’s first burst had put one of the Greys down. He cut loose with another burst that missed. “Second XRay pulled back and I missed him, damnit.”

Matt continued to scan his sector, “D & D hold tight for now. I have contact 100m in front on the edge of the pit.” He lined up his M21 and pulled the trigger. The bullet accelerated at over 3000 feet per second, slamming into the Grey right where the human heart would be. The impact of over 13,000 foot pounds of force blew a hole three inches in diameter out the back of the alien and sending it four feet backwards. “XRay down. Two left. Delgado, slide left along that fence line.”

“Roger.”

Makoto on the other side of the building was busy as well, lining up the Grey that he’d missed earlier who was crouched on the opposite side of the building Makoto and Matt were using as cover. He was accurate as always, hitting the Grey but not killing it. The alien answered fire, missing Makoto but destroying a six foot section of wall along the trailer.

I noticed that these green bolts of plasma they aliens used were dangerous and release a significant amount of energy when they hit, but had no penetration capability at all. Where the mass of our bullets could penetrate some of the light cover the aliens tended to use.

The second Grey that Matt could see leapt out of cover and moved down the side of the building and then jumped into the pit out of his sight, “Damn, I lost him. Delgado do you see him?”

“Just a second.” She peeked around a break in the fence line. “Roger, that. Grenade out.” She pulled M67 Fragmentation Grenade and lofted it over the fence and about three feet behind the Grey. It made a small shrill noise that was silenced by the concussion and screaming pieces of metal that pierced its flesh in dozens of places. “XRay down.” Delgado deadpanned.

“No shit, Elsa. Nice throw.” Matt muttered then ducked as another burst from Makoto went off behind him.

“XRay down.” Makoto’s distinctive accent came over the comm. “Reloading.”

“Ok, everyone reload. Delgado, stay there and watch the pit. Makoto, on your mark lets clear this trailer.” Matt slung the sniper rifle and pulled out the M1911, like most shooters Matt believed any pistol was OK as long as its caliber started with four.

“Matt, go in 3…2...” Makoto counted down.

“CONTACT, two XRays. Greys on the right side of the pit.” Dixon called out. I could hear her shots through her mike. “Missed. Both Greys split and moved into the pit. I’m following to fence line to get eyes on.”

“Shit,” Matt muttered. “Delgado, do you have eyes on yet? If not slide right until you do.”

“Roger, sir.” Elsa answered.

Dixon called out, “Spotted them. One is by the shovel and the other is close by. Dumb son of a bitches are clumped together. Grenade out.” She pulled the pin, counted to two and threw the grenade between the two. Once again, hundreds of metal slivers sliced out cutting the two Greys to ribbons. “XRays down, both XRays down.”

“Ok, lets continue the sweep.” Matt started the team moving through the rest of the site. I sat back and noticed that the troops were using different terms for the aliens. We’ve always used Tango, but that was when we were hunting terrorists. Now I’m hearing XRay used in the field and the base more and more. Makes sense I guess, as someone who watched X-Files it made a lot of sense.

My reverie was interrupted by Matt’s voice, “All clear control, go ahead and send in the cleanup team.”

I keyed my mike, “Great job Matt. Your team was top notch. Beers are on me when you get back.”

“Oh, don’t think we won’t hold you to that, boss.” Matt answered.
Several days and one massive hangover later, I got a call from Dr. Vahlen and Dr. Shen asking me to come see them at the lab. I told them I’d be there in about 15 minutes and finished the requisition paperwork for another satellite.

I was always on edge walking into the laboratory, it was always so quiet and I just knew that dismembered parts of aliens were brewing away in many of the instruments. I saw that Dr. Vahlen, Shen and Bradford were over by one of the digital displays. They turned as I arrived, “Hello everyone, what can I help you with Doctors.” I just ignored Bradford, but I did notice the flicker of annoyance that crossed his face.

“Sir,” Dr. Vahlen started. “I have completed the analysis of several tissue samples and autopsy procedures and safeguards and we have made a most startling discovery.” I motioned for her to continue, “The alien’s physiology at the cellular level is extremely similar to our own, albeit with significant genetic modifications. We have started a much more extensive autopsy of the grey aliens we have encountered so far. We are calling them Sectoids based on the extensive separation internally we are starting to see. Additionally, Dr. Shen and I have a theory we would like to propose.”

“Yes, thank you Dr. Vahlen. Given the cellular similarity and the initial results coming out of the autopsy, we believe that they aliens will be substantially susceptible to extreme shocks. They would react very similarly as humans do.”

Bradford straightened up from the wall he was leaning on, “You’re talking about incapacitating them, like a Taser?”

“That is correct, Officer Bradford. We believe that an alien can be subdued by inducing the shock and I can build a containment facility to hold a live alien in.”

Bradford was getting more agitated, “Tasers are really short ranged, are you saying that you want to risk our soldiers getting in extremely close to capture one? What if the weapon doesn’t work? You would be sentencing them to death!”

I was very surprised at the level of aggression and consternation Bradford was showing about soldiers’ risks and causalities given what he did in the past. Before I could answer Dr. Shen responded, “Yes, I believe it is worth the risk. We cannot understand what they are here for? What they want, until we can capture one and learn to communicate.”

“You mean like question them, Doctor?” Bradford looked more thoughtful, “Find out their weaknesses, their strengths, where they are based at?”

“Yes, Officer Bradford, that is exactly what I’m insinuating.” The Doctor turned to look at me, “I’m not saying it will be easy. We still have to research and develop a weapon that will generate a sufficient shock, as well as, build the containment facility. I believe that this must be done.”

The three of them looked at me, “I just so happen to agree, Doctor. I have been wondering why they are operating the way they do. What their strategic goal could be? After the autopsy is finished, I want you and Dr. Vahlen to start developing this weapon. We will look at our funding stream and DARPAs ability to support another facility and put your containment facility as number two on the priority list with only another satellite uplink higher on the list.”

We broke up with Dr. Vahlen assuring me that she and her team would have a complete report on the Sectoid in a week. I walked back to my office thinking about Bradford’s reaction. It was completely at odds to what I knew about him. I knew the people who had been involved, knew their story and their views and what I just saw out of Bradford didn’t click. I might just have to reach out to someone I really didn’t like talking to, there was something….off about what I “think” I know about Bradford.

The next week went quickly, the prefabbed workshop and thermal vent powercore both went online. We now can build weapons and equipment more cheaply and the Thermal Generator has allowed the base complete independence from the national electrical grid. If fact it was so quiet I was almost relieved when Bradford entered my office.

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PostPosted: Thu, 3. Dec 15, 05:52    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

“Sir, we are receiving an Omega call from the Council of Nations.”

“Bradford, what the hell is the Council of Nations?”

“Well sir, it’s the name given to the ministers and heads of state that have decided to secede the fight to XCOM. They provide the state sanctioned funding, and in return they have the ability to bring special tasks to XCOM if the council agrees as a whole."

“Well, here I thought I was working for SOCOM. I can see that there are deep layers here that I am going to have to understand…sooner rather than later. Well, put them through Bradford, and stay here for the conversation.”

“Hello, Commander.” The figure was backlit so I could not see their face, which did not inspire me with confidence. “We have a special mission we would like you to consider. There has been suspicious activity in Nigeria and we believe there is a significant threat that needs your attention. We are confirming our sources, but request you immediate sent a team to Kona, Nigeria to handle the situation.” I thought about what they needed and where. Africa had become a hot bed of activity and our inability to deflect any of the alien activity had driven most of the population there into a near panic. If we could show a successful raid in Africa, it might help tremendously. It would put a strain on some of my team, but this seemed important enough to risk it.

“Ok, we’re in. Please pass the information to Officer Bradford here immediately. We are wheels up in 15 minutes.” Turning to look at Bradford, “I don’t know what the situation is so I’m taking my team in personally to assess the situation. Please have Liz, Makoto and Matt meet me at the Skyranger.” I could see that Bradford wanted to argue my going again, but just sat back and nodded his head.

“Ok, sir. I’ll radio on the way with the mission parameters once the Council sends them.”

About 30 minutes from the LZ, Bradford called in and I circled the team around. “Ok, sir. I have the data package and they have confirmed the aliens are building a megaton plasma bomb on the Kona Road Bridge that spans the Hadejia River near the Kano Science and Technology University. The actual bomb looks to be on the bridge span itself. Your LZ is on the South side, the bridge is a four-lane highway with only a concrete barrier in the middle. There are numerous tractor-trailers and vehicles on the bridge that the Sectoids could be using as cover. Additionally, we are getting scattered readings of power nodes. I’ve brought Dr. Shen online to discuss those. Doctor Shen?”

“Yes. Commander I’ve analyzed the radiation spectrum from both the bomb and these ‘power nodes’ and have concluded they are some type of destabilizing agent for whatever powers the Sectoid’s weapons. I’m sure that if you can disable, or destroy, each node you will slow down the time required for the bomb to reach critical mass.”

“Roger that, Doctor. Destroy or disable the nodes to give us time to find and disable the bomb.”

The Doctor and Bradford signed off and I motioned to the team. “Ok, things are both simple and hard. Simple in the fact there is only one approach for us. On foot, we will keep to the right side of the bridge to the extent possible. Both I and Makato will be the primaries for disabling the nodes with Matt and Liz as fire support. We are going to have to be quick to disable the nodes and to generate enough time to get to the damn bomb.” Looking at their eyes, I saw nothing but confidence in themselves and me. “Hard in the fact that we don’t have enemy intel, numbers, location and no way of finding out. So be quick, but careful.”

We hit the ground and moved to cover. Makoto immediate headed to the nearest node while both Liz and Matt took cover behind a Toyota 4-Runner. I headed to the left flank behind one of those crazy pod things. Makoto took one look at the node and then jammed his rifle butt into the housing crushing it and causing the weird green, glowing light inside to dim.

“Ah, Commander. This is Doctor Shen, we have recorded a slowing in the bomb mass absorption rate. It looks like you’ve bought yourself a little more time.”

Makoto started to move forward and to the right for another node and both Liz and Matt leapfrogged to the end of the truck to cover him. I moved up the median concrete barrier to another node when I noticed a tall, thin, pastey man about 100 meters away. “Friendly, 100 meters along the bridge.” I went quiet as he turned and I noticed a large, silver weapon in his hand. “Oh shit. Contact a tall thin man-alien left side of the bridge. I’m pulling back.” I had a shotgun and that was too far to shoot, so I crushed the node and fell back to my starting position.

Liz and Matt shifted their focus to the left and then both opened up on the thin man as he sprinted forward to hide behind the hood of a Crown Victoria that had seen better day. They both missed and I could see him looking right at me. The XRay stood up and made what looked like a spitting motion at me. All of the sudden, I couldn’t breathe and it fell like my skin had been dipped in acid. I stood and sprinted toward the node I had just destroyed. I had to get out of the cloud of whatever the alien had spit. I could see the alien bringing up one of the larger rifle plasma weapons when bullet from Liz’s SAW split him open from navel to head.

“OH GOD…can’t…breathe.” I panicked as I tried to breathe and couldn’t seem to get any air in. It was like tear gas only 100 times worst. Suddenly, as my vision started to blur the sensation went away and I drew in a huge breath that hurt like hell.

“Boss, BOSS, SAM, answer damnit!” Matt and Liz were yelling into my earpiece. I looked down at my shaking hands and noticed that whatever it was had left lesions on my hands.

“I’m fine,” looking at where the thin manthing had been killed. There was a cloud poison just like the one at my former position. “Ok people. It looks like we just found another kind of alien. The cocksucker had a big gun and spits poison, wonderful.”

“Jesus, boss.”

“I’m fine, Matt.” Let get going. I could see a timer in my visor HUD that showed the bomb countdown was much less than it was.

“Makota, you at the next node?”

I could hear a crunching sound, “Hai, I have destroyed another.”

“Ok, move up. I’ll be at the front of the tractor. Liz and Matt get moving.” We moved forward and had just settled in when Makota called out another contact. I could feel my balls trying to disappear into my body at the thought of another thin man.

“Sectoid. Left and forward about 125 meters, anyone else have him?” Makota asked, “I’m a bit busy trying to slow down a bomb.”

“Roger, that.” I looked right and saw Matt sighting down his rifle. “XRay down, head shot.”

Nice shot, Matt. I sprinted down the length of the truck to get behind another node. Which allowed Liz and Matt to move up again.

“Contact, two Sectoids. Our side of the road 50 meters from me.” I called out. I watched as that weird purple thread sprung up between them.

“I got the rear one, Gaijan.” Makoto said as he squeezed of his shot, which caught the Sectoid center mass, sending it flying backward. I peeked around at the other Sectoid who was keening and grabbing his head, which seemed to explode internally. It hit the ground with green blood oozing out of two holes where are ears are.

“Well, that’s new.” I commented. “If you can kill the Sectoid that starts that purple thing you kill the one he’s connected to.” Interesting, I wonder if Dr. Valhan could figure out why in her autopsy.

“Let’s get moving, Commander.” Makoto said as he crushed another node. “The bombs right up there.”

I looked at saw a tall metallic casing in the middle of the bridge. I glowed with that same weird, green light. I looked the bomb casing over so that Dr. Shen could see it through the camera.

“We’re out of nodes, boss.” Matt called, “Better figure this out in the next few minutes.”

“Roger, that. Dr. Shen, any ideas?”

“I believe so, Commander. Do you see that black square near the base of the bomb? I believe that if you remove that it will prevent the material inside from further reaction and stop it from reaching critical mass.”

“Ok, Doc.” I bent down and pulled out a small multitool from my belt to pry the square loose. A small container of weird green crystals fell into the my hand and I promptly dropped it, because it was as hot as hell.

“Ouch, damnit Doc. That was ****** hot!”

“Congratulations, Commander. You’ve done it. The readings have dropped to zero.”

I looked up at the bomb and noticed that weird glow was gone. I leaned back on my heels and took a deep breath.

“COMMANDER, inbound aliens to your position!” Bradford’s voice screamed over the net and as I turned I could see one of those thin men seemingly appear from the other side of the bridge and land on the top of the tractor-trailer on the edge of the bridge. The small part of my brain not trained to a razors edge marveled at the fact the alien had jumped from below the bridge to the top of a trailer 13 feet high. I could see the thin man turning my way as my sight picture firmed up and the M1014 combat shotgun slammed against my shoulder. The buckshot shredded the thin man leaving an expanding cloud of gas on the top of the trailer.

“Makoto, behind you!” Bradford called over the comm net. I turned and heard a pistol barking as Matt has slid to the right side of the truck he was taking cover from. Jolting the thin man and giving Makoto time to spin and bring is rifle up and put three rounds in to the XRay.

“Spread out, take cover!” I yelled in case there was more inbound aliens. We finished clearing the bridge and then spent time ensuring that the gaggles of civilians were kept away from the bodies until the cleanup time arrives.

“Ok, people. Saddle up, time to go home.”

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PostPosted: Thu, 3. Dec 15, 05:59    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

“Sir,” Specialist Kahn looked up from her communication console, “Message from the Nigerian government congratulating us, along with notification of an immediate increase in funding.”

I nodded my thanks and typed in a message to Dr. Shen, asking him to authorize the building of another satellite uplink facility. He answered back that he had already prepared the contract with DARPA and the facility would be available in fourteen days.

I had been spending most of my time in the sickbay the last few days to recover from the lesions remaining in my throat and hands from the thin man acid. I had to relinquish a lot of the day to day control to Bradford, which made my brain itch. I was starting to get the feeling that there was a whole lot more to the situation and the history with Bradford that I was aware of. Regardless, he had the base running well while I was in the sickbay. After I was completely cleared for duty I headed down to the laboratory. Dr. Vahlen had been looking for me and this was the first chance I had to see her.

“So, Doctor. I understand that you finished the autopsy on the Sectoid?”

“Oh, yes Commander. It was fascinating to actually investigate a specimen of alien origin. Our findings are in the complete report, however, I will summarize for you if that is acceptable, ja?” I nodded my assent. “There are two significant findings and one practical application we have determined from our examination. The first involved the genetic makeup of the Sectoids, in fact, there is no genetic variation in any of the corpses we analyzed. They are clones of each other. The second item is that each Sectoid has been implanted with cybernetic implants to increase strength, speed and reaction time. The implants are very interesting as they compensate for the rather weak physical attributes of the Sectoid. The technology in the implants was amazing and working with Dr. Shen’s team we believe that we can harvest the implants from Sectoid corpses and create a single-use tracking enhancer for our interceptors. In essence we can tie in data from more than the aircraft’s own sensors to provide a temporary increase in weapon system accuracy.” Dr. Vahlen stepped back and ran a simulation that showed an almost 10% increase in aircraft accuracy, a phenomenal change in overall effectiveness.

“Wonderful, Doctor. I believe that we can definitely use the increase in combat capability. What do you think of the Sectoids themselves?”

“Frankly, Commander, it frightens me. It does not bode well for the ultimate condition of the human race if they are willing to do this to themselves…or someone is willing to do this TO them.”

“I see your point, all the more reason to understand them and ultimately find a way to defeat them. On that note, I’ve read your recommendation on the next path of research and I believe that a more in-depth study into the alien building material is our next step. If we can replicate the tensile strength they have on their UFOs that could be a big step in meeting them on more equal footing.”

Another week passed without incident and several of the wounded were released from sickbay to restart their training. The daily routine was moving with no issues, especially as I had not taken those duties back from Bradford. We had reached an uneasy equilibrium around each other. On one hand I was tired of pussyfooting around him, but the results of delegating more authority to him was astounding. Sitting at my desk, my phone rang.

“Sir, Bradford. We have an incoming VTC request from the Council of Nations. Five mikes until start.”

“Thank you, I’ll be right down.”

I sat down in the small classified briefing room as the technician brought up the video teleconferencing unit. The picture showed static that abruptly changed to the view of a bald man backlit to prevent seeing his face.

“Commander, thank you for coming.” A deep, bass voice rumbled from the speaker. “On behalf of the Council I wanted to thank you for the exceptional performance XCOM has shown in the last month. We are extremely pleased with your progress and have convinced the member nations to increase their funding slightly for your program.”

“Well, thank you…” I paused for him to give his name and when he didn’t I continued, “We have been very lucky and we are starting to make some progress on the research effort. Additional scientist that have been cleared would be extremely helpful.”

“We understand, Commander. We have convinced two additional experts to join your organization and they should be there later today. We hope that you will be able to use them effectively. Thank you again, Commander.” The screen went dark.

Looking at Bradford, “A man of few words I see. Do you have any idea who he is?”

Bradford shook his head, “No I don’t. I always dealt with someone from the DoD before this. I think this Council is a fairly new construct once the world leaders, or at least the worlds most powerful, realized this problem wasn’t going away.”

“Well I’m just a giddy inside that they are happy with us.” I rolled my eyes. “Any word from the labs on the alien material research?”

“None yet, but the good Doctors believe they will have something in the next day or so.”

Two days later I was sitting at my desk reading the report the lab had sent up on the alien material. It was not something that we would ever be able to make, however, we could manipulate any material we brought from alien UFOs. Right now Dr. Shen’s lab had been able to create nanotubes that could be woven into a lightweight armored vest. I wrote back to Dr. Shen to being production of several vests. Not every soldier would need one, as it was some additional weight and precluded the wear of tactical rigging so trooper that used the nano vest would not be able carry grenades. That limitation prevented me from issuing one to everybody.

I then asked my ops team to meet with teams from both Drs. Vahlen and Shen to start a tactical think tank. I wanted to spend about a week looking at the new technology and projected research and how they would impact our equipment and tactics. The new powerful weapons and new soldier protection might drive our research into areas we don’t need at the current time.

Another week passed and I was getting concerned that we were missing something. It had been over two weeks since the last alien sighting and I didn’t like it. Was this a standard operational pause? Maybe they were not expecting the level of resistance and were reevaluating the need to invade Earth? It was actually a relief with Bradford called me to the Command Room with news they incursions had started again.

“Sir, looks like a standard incursion. Three sites, Fukuoka, Japan; Lyons, France and Johannesburg, South Africa. Realistically only Japan and France are viable candidates based on distance from our base. I suggest Japan as Europe had been ignored in last month’s attacks. I’m not sure if there will be an Africa left after this.” He looked a little worried and frustrated, as we all were that we couldn’t cover the whole globe.

“I agree, Bradford. Please have Hassan, Makoto, Liz and Matt suit up. Tell them I’ll rotate them out of the schedule after this.” He nodded and made the announcement over the 1-MC. I continued to wait in my secondary office attached to the Command Room until the team was approaching the LZ.

“Roger that Wagner,” Bradford said into his mike. “Operation Morbid Sentinel is a go. LZ is the Nanakuma Branch of the Nishi-Nippon Bank. Time is 0505 local. No threats visible on satellite and all civilians have been evacuated.”

“Roger that Control,” Matt answered back. “Move out people. I’ll cover right flank, the three of you get to the bank and start clearing it.” The team gave a thumbs and Matt moved to the street on the right of the bank and took cover behind one of those crazy alien pods. Liz was crouched at the drive-thru sign as Makoto and Hassan approached the door.

“Movement along the road at the back corner of the bank. No ID on contact, just a vague sense of movement. Be careful, maybe all the civilians didn’t get pulled out.” Matt called over the radio.

Liz stayed where she was to help Matt provide overwatch on the right side as Hassan slid right to peek around the corner.

“WHAT THE HELL!” Hassan pulled his head back around the corner as everyone heard what sounded like rockets. “Contact. Two torsos with rocket packs. I cannot believe this shit!”

“Eyes on,” both Liz and Matt called out. The torsos had hopped or flew or whatever down the right side of the bank. They had obviously seen Hassan. Bullets streamed from Liz and Matt, each taking a flying torso. Liz’s stream of bullets plucked on out of the sky. Her bullets ripping through the rockets on the back causing an explosion that sent pieces of the XRay all over, Matt’s shot missed and the XRay flew to cover behind a car in the street.

Under cover of Liz’s and Matt’s fire, Hassan sprinted from the corner of the building to a second alien pod in the street which flanked the torso. His shotgun barked out knocking the alien down.

“Clear.” Hassan called out.

“Ah, not clear.” Makoto whispered in the mike. “Two more of those new XRays on the back side of the bank. I have eyes on through the windows. Taking the shot, now.” His three round burst tore chunks off of the window frame, but missed the target. “Moving now.” He ducked and moved to his left to the left corner of the building. “There is one of those crazy yellow glowing containers in the street to my left. I’ll head over there in a second.”

“Ok. Hassan and Liz move left and help Makoto. I’ll move up near that ATM on the right side for flank security.”

Liz and Hassan moved toward the window where Makoto had been. “Contact,” Liz said. “I have one torso. I’m bringing out the AT-4.” She allowed her SAW to fall with combat sling taking the weight of the weapon and swung the AT-4 around. “Fire in the hole.” The rocket sped out and I could see the explosion that incinerated one of the flying torso and blew the corpse of the second out to the middle of the floor. “Two XRays down.”

“Nice, Liz. OH SON OF A BITCH.” Matt’s congratulations turned to a shrill yell of surprise.

“Move Matt, move!” I yelled into the mike. “Two Sectoids just jumped out of the window and are going to flank Matt.” Matt had started moving the second he saw the Sectoids, standing and sprinting back to the drive-thru area of the bank. Hassan pivoted and moved back to the right to cover Matt’s withdrawal. Fortunately, the Sectoids didn’t know Matt was there and were too surprised to get a shot off.

After one of those weird lulls in any shootout, Makoto said, “Alight, I’m headed to that container.” He left the corner of the bank and was halfway to the container when bolts of green plasma hit him in the back of the right shoulder. He made it to cover behind the container touched the control panel causing the top to slam down on the yellow radiance. “Those Sectoids are in cover on the wall of the bank. Damnit that hurts. Watch out, they are connected by that purple thread and I don’t know which one initiated it.”

“You stupid git, why do you get shot every time we go on a mission.” Liz said through gritted teeth as she moved down the left wall of the bank. “I have eyes on.” She lined the rear most Sectoid in her ACOG and pulled the trigger. The firehose of bullets walked up the wall to splash into the torso of the Sectoid. It squealed and fell to the ground. The second Sectoid grabbed his head and fell to the ground as well. “Well, I guess we know which one started it. You OK, Makoto?”

“Hai, I am ok and do not need to use the medkit.”

“OK, team. Close up and let’s clear the area.” The team spent the next ten minutes ensuring the area was clear and then called in the cleanup team.

Hours later I was looking down at the monstrosity on the examination table, I shuddered. It was the weirdest, most concerning thing we’d seen yet.

“Yes, Commander.” Dr. Shen said, “If they could do this to their own kind, what do they have in mind for us. We will need to get an autopsy in as soon as possible.”

The creature in front of me had no legs, it was a torso and thin head integrated into a mechanical vest-like body. It had what looked like two jet engines on the back and numerous tubes and mechanical linkages that merged the metal and flesh. “That’s two more different kinds of aliens we have encountered, Doc. I don’t understand, are they working together? Who is in charge? It doesn’t make any sense!”

“I agree, Commander. We need data, a lot more data, before we can find a solution.”

“Well, that’s what the field team is for I guess. Thank you, Doctor.” I walked back to my office and like always started into the reports waiting for me. Africa was in a complete panic, all of Africa except Nigeria that is. We had not been able to get teams there in time and the populace and governments felt abandoned. Fortunately, I now had a solution. The new satellite uplink facility had finally been completed and I could show our assistance to the continent by placing monitoring satellites over Egypt and South Africa. I also procured two more F-22s to provide coverage from any UFO that flew over. It wasn’t as good as having a base there, but it gave a sense of support to everyone which calmed the situation down. I had Dr. Shen and his workshop building additional satellites, as I had bandwidth for one more satellite. Finally, France was not happy with my decision to bypass Lyons and the government there was dealing with several riots across the country.

One happy by product was the increased funding from Japan. I was able to complete the excavation of the entire first level of the base and start the construction of Dr. Shen’s alien containment facility. We still need to figure out how to build a weapon to deliver the shock, but the containment facility needed built before that anyway.

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