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Fight for Earth (XCOM Enemy Within)
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Scion Drakhar



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PostPosted: Thu, 3. Dec 15, 06:39    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Good stuff, Jonzac. And I now have a jones for some tactical turn based combat...


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Jonzac



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PostPosted: Thu, 3. Dec 15, 08:18    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I did too, which led to this story as well. Makes me want to keep doing missions, but I have to write each one as it happens. That is keeping more disciplined in my writing this week, which is pushing me through and will hopefully help with my X3 stories as well.



---------------------------------------------------------------



A few days later, Dr. Shen paged me to the hanger. He was standing next to our Skyranger, talking to several maintenance personnel.

“Oh, hello Commander. Thank you for coming. I…we, have great news.”
“Wonderful, Doc. I’ll take any good news I can get.”

Motioning at the maintenance troops Dr. Shen started, “We were looking at the Skyranger during the last periodic maintenance and we noticed a few structural redundancies that added significant weight to the aircraft. Working with these fine gentlemen, we replaced a few supports with nanotube based technology. The aircraft is over 300 pounds lighter. Additionally, we were able to tune the engines and gain a 2% increase in engine power. Now I realize that 2% does not sound like much, but with each engine producing 29,000 pounds of thrust each, we actualized another 1,160 pounds of thrust.”

The doctor looked at me with such an expectant look on his face, and as the seconds passed his face fell into a rather pointed look of frustration that I wasn’t jumping up and down. I looked at the troops behind him, both who had huge grins on their faces.

“What the Doc is trying to say, sir, is we have made enough improvements that we can take another soldier on your assaults.”

Now my face lit up with a giant grin and I slapped the Doc on the shoulder, “Now that is absolutely amazing news, Doc. Being able to increase our firepower by 20% on each mission is a God-send, outstanding work!”

The doctor’s face broke back into that cat that ate the canary grin. “Your welcome, Commander. I figured you would enjoy the surprise.”

“I certainly did, Doc.” I turned and motioned for him to follow me. “I just finished the report that the strategic analysis team developed. I like the idea of the explosive rounds for the assault teams’ small arms. Do we know how much range and accuracy we lose compared to regular round?”

“Commander, the ‘Reaper’ rounds lose around 20% of the range but adds approximately 40% to the overall damage total. Given the short ranges the assault teams find themselves in, I find that it would be an acceptable trade off.”

“I’ll look into that and talk to the teams. I also saw a new cannon for the interceptors?”

“Oh yes. One of the young aircraft weapons troops was wishing that the aircraft had ‘the cool gun from the A-10.’ We looked at the GAU-8 weapons system and by using some of the new alien materials to miniaturize and gain significant weight savings. We are able to produce a much smaller version that will still use the 30mm Depleted Uranium rounds. I was going to ask for your permission to build three of the weapons to outfit half of our aircraft fleet.”

“Absolutely approved. Any drawbacks?”

“Well, as a gun system it is very short ranged. The pilots will be at risk for longer during the approach to the UFO, however, once they get in range the improved damage gradient will down the UFO more quickly.”

“I also approved the building of the new engineering laboratory. I understand that you’re calling it ‘The Foundry.’ I hope that a facility that is more focused on practical application of the new technology will speed changes in fielding the improvements.”

“That is most excellent, Commander. I will get my team to work as soon as I return.”

“Good, good. I’ve also asked Dr. Vahlen to start looking into the material we’ve found in the glowing, yellow containers. We are finding them every time we encounter the aliens, and I’d like to know if it’s important or not. Well, I’ve got a meeting to get to Doctor. Good luck.”

I happened to be in the Control room the next day, when Technician Sims announced the last satellite uplink had been completed and we had complete satellite coverage of Africa. Looking at the hologlobe, I could just hear the complaints from the more heavily populated areas on why I was expending resources in Africa. Well, it was two-fold really. First, I wanted to test the strategically implication of continent wide coverage. Would the aliens continue their incursions when they were spotted before they landed? Second, I was counting on tapping in the wealth of the mines in South Africa, as well as, the rare earth deposits that are needed in all our advance technology projects.

Several days went by, when the alarm klaxon sounded throughout the base. “Red alert, Red alert. UFO inbound over the United States. UFO inbound over the United States.”

Running into the Command Room, the control team was spinning up the alert five bird.

“Roger that, Raven 02. You are cleared to launch.”

Lt. Col. Joseph “Knotso” Cool was finished the last of his launch checklist and then held his hands above his head. Seeing both his hands the EOR crew leapt forward removing all the red “Remove before flight” tags that allow the weapons to be launched from the aircraft. While the weapons crew moved around the weapons, the crew chief moved counter-clockwise on the last fluid check and catapult mounting verification. The catapult launch chief in his red shirt stood with his hands behind his back at parade rest watching the precise ballet happen around the F-22. The EOR crew finished their work and moved out, pulling the final restraint pin. The launch chief then moved his hands, making two fists with his thumbs moving in opposite directions.

Knotso, returned the sign to show he understood the “chocks” were pulled and the aircraft was ready for launch. He continued to watch the red shirt as he raised his right hand over his head and with two finders elevated started shaking it back and forth. Knotso put his hands on the controls and pushed the throttle under his left had to maximum. Twin columns of blue flame 50 feet long roared to life behind him. He continued to watch the red shirt kneel down and then with a final check to ensure everyone was out of way, dropped his right hand to the ground.

Knotso grunted and contracted every muscle in his body as the catapult thrust his aircraft skyward at over 6Gs. The catapult was twice as effective as one on an aircraft carrier and Knotso was supersonic a mere 20 seconds after the catapult engaged. He kept the throttles pushed to their limit and the aircraft at a 60 degree climb until he passed 30,000 feet. He leveled off and pulled the throttles back using the advanced aerodynamics of the F-22 to achieve supercruise, the ability to remain above supersonic speeds at less the 80% of max power.

“Control, this is Raven 02. I am at cruise and headed to the bogie. ETA 10 minutes.” The time quickly passed and Knotso kept his APG-77 solid-state radar in target acquisition mode scanning a cone 30 degrees from his centerline.

“Control, I have good lock on bogie. Range 15 miles. Closure rate of 500 knots.” He moved his left thumb to the weapons control on the throttle, bringing up the HUD targeting for the gun Dr. Shen’s team had developed.
“Bogie in sight. Looks like the same type as before. Breaking right.” The UFO was shooting small balls of green plasma at him. “Taking damage.” He glanced left and right as he put the throttle to the stops and barrel rolled around the next stream of fire from the UFO. He could see damage to the skin of his aircraft, but these energy bolts caused damage to the external skin but nothing below that. The damage was mounting as he made his approach. Corkscrewing as much as possible to avoid their fire.

“Range at 3 miles, closure rate 700 knots. Good lock.” His HUD was displaying a cone that extended down from his horizontal center line that showed the trajectory of his bullets. He was closing the gap and the numbers on the right side showed the distance and as the number hit 1500, he pulled the trigger in one second bursts. One, two, three times and he was flashing by the UFO. He pulled bank and to the left then rolled right to keep the UFO in sight. His helmet HUD continued to show the readings from his sensors, but his eyes told him all he needed to know. The UFO was belching a column of smoke tinged with green and was losing speed and altitude.

“Control, Bogie is going down. Repeat bogie is going down. I have damage to the several panels, but I have control of the aircraft. Please alert crash control. Landing in 20 minutes.”

“Roger that Raven 02, crash trucks rolling. Good shoot.”
I stood up and let go of the railing I had been clutching and turned to Bradford. “Ok, we’ll assume this one is mostly intact as well. Let’s send Anne Dixon as heavy weapons, Hassan as breach, Matt, Makoto and tell Ahmed Majid that he’s going as well. Damn, I love being able to send five guys.”

I turned and started the walk to the ready room where the team would be. I reached it just as they were leaving to get onto the Skyranger. I held Matt back with a quick glance. “I’m sending Ahmed in with you, any problems?”
“No boss. I know he’s Iraqi, but we’ve been working with him in the training range for three weeks now. He’s solid and I’ve got no issues.”

“Ok, Matt. Be careful out there.”

“Roger that, Sam.”

The team landed at 0656 local in Hutchinson, Kansas. The UFO had careened through downtown right through several multistory concrete buildings on the corner of South Main Street and East Avenue A. The team landed in a parking lot and immediately headed right into the ruined buildings for cover. Anne was hunkered down in a corner on the first floor, “Contact. Two Sectoids in the middle of the building. They are splitting up and one is climbing a drain pipe to the next floor.” Her burst at the first alien missed and the Sectoids managed to get to cover.

Makoto was in plain view of the Sectoid on the first floor, “Changing positions.” He jumped out of the bread truck he and Ahmed were in and hit the wall just outside. Pushing his gun around the corner he put a burst down range that missed.

Ahmed was still in cover in the bread truck and drew a bead on the Sectoid. He was on target and the alien slumped down the wall leaving a trail of green slime. “XRay down. Allah Akbar.”

“I’ve got eyes on the second one,” Alex chimed in. “Matt?”

“I’ve got him.” Matt said. He was using the new remote sighting device mounted to his sniper rifle. It took the sensor data from drones, satellites and most importantly from his fellow teammates to generate a firing solution, even though he couldn’t see the Sectoid personally. He drew a bead and in-between breaths pulled the trigger. The bullet sped from the gun though tangled masses of rebar to impact the Sectoid at the base of the throat and blowing a fist size chuck of alien goo out the back.

“XRay down,” Alex confirmed. “Damn I love that new sight.”

“Ok, let’s move up. Makoto and Ahmed watch the left flank. Hassan you have the right. Alex your point.”

“Me, I’m the damn heavy weapon!”

“I know, and now you’re a well-armed point man.” Matt’s voice was very calm.

“Fine, but if I get killed, I’m going to haunt you forever.” Moving forward to the next ruined wall, she could hear Makoto on the other side.

“Two Sectoids. 75 meters ahead. They’ve spotted me.” Makoto shrank against the wall as the Sectoids split up and both took shots at him which splashed into the very solid concrete column he was hiding behind. Leaning out he shot back, but it was mostly to keep their heads down and he missed completely.

Ahmed looked around the crumped support column and spotted the first Sectoid crouched behind a car off to Makoto’s left. He aimed, but the damn alien ducked right as he pulled the trigger. “Missed.”

The Sectoid in the back moved forward and started shooting that weird purple thread at the one closest to Makoto. The receiving Sectoid bounded forward, faster than he had been and kneeling behind a small remains of a wall shot at Makoto again. It missed again, but the column he was hiding behind was beginning to wear a little thin.

“Do they shoot at anyone else,” Makoto’s voice came over the comm.

A stream of bullets from Ahmed hitting the Sectoid closest to him drown out Matt’s answer. The Sectoid stumbled back from his cover and Makoto quickly leaned left and put a three round burst center mass to put it down for good.

“I don’t have a shot at the second one,” Matt said.

“I’ve got it.” Alex had the SAW out and resting on the top of the half wall she was hiding behind. She walked her shots onto the second Sectoid tearing huge holes through its body as it went down.

“Well, that was fast.” Matt commented. “Everyone reload and move out. Makoto, you and Ahmed take point. The UFO is directly in front of Alex about 100 meters. I’ll be on this stair as cover. Once they are in place, Alex you move up to provide a better fire base. Hassan keep an eye on the right. I’m expecting another one of those gold aliens again.”

He settled down on his new sniper perch and waited for the team to move. Makoto had just reached the remains of a wall just outside the UFO when Matt saw that golden glow coalesce into an alien. He had been waiting for it and as it moved toward Makoto, the bullet was already in flight piercing it right between the eyes. It pitched backward and then decomposed into that yellow crystal again. “XRay down.”

Matt pulled the bolt back to clear the gun, “Alright let’s continue to sweep.” He waited in his perch, but there were no more aliens in the area. “Control, we’ve secured the area.”

“Great job, team.” Bradford announced, “Another great op with no causalities. Phenomenal work.”

I leaned back in my chair and though the same thing.

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Scion Drakhar



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PostPosted: Thu, 3. Dec 15, 23:51    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Jonzac wrote:
Makes me want to keep doing missions, but I have to write each one as it happens.


I know exactly what you mean.

You know I always did wonder how those RAVENS land back in that chimney...

Keep it coming, mate. I don't know how long the moderators will let you post about a Firaxis game in an Egosoft forum, but I'm loving it.


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PostPosted: Mon, 7. Dec 15, 03:00    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

The next day I had Dr. Shen place the order for the new ‘Foundry’ he wanted to expedite the fielding of new technologies to the field. Additionally, I had a laboratory extension started to assist Dr. Vahlen and her efforts. The facilities should be completed in a couple of weeks.

I was leaning back in my chair thinking dark and hateful thoughts at General Votel. I can see the writing on the wall and my days of kicking down doors is coming to a close. I’m stuck behind a desk. There is so much to do and plan for that I can’t leave and I can’t risk getting killed for no reason. It grates on me to even contemplate that scenario. I was still thinking about that when my intercom beeped and my secretary informed me that the Council of Nations was VTCing in.

“Ok, please tell Bradford.” I stood up and moved down the hallway to the Situation Room and the secure VTC there.

“Greetings, Commander. We have new information for you and your organization. There was a military convoy hit at Lille, France. Our sources tell us that there were both aliens and human present during the attack. We do not know if they were collaborating or if there is another splinter resistance group operating. We request that you dispatch a field team to investigate. Of course, France is willing to increase your funding if you can determine what happened to their convoy.”

Of course I didn’t want to send them, however, politically it would help smooth things over with France given we were unable to help them during the last round of incursions. Additionally, if there was any change of collaboration or a second XCOM like organization, we needed to know as soon as possible.

“Ok, I’ll dispatch a team. Please let France know that Operation Silent Moon is a go.” I turned and motioned to cut the connection. Turning to Bradford, “Silent Moon, who comes up with these names? Anyway, please have Matt, Makoto, Hassan, Ahmed and Anne suit up for the mission.”

It was a four hour flight with the sub-orbital flight path the Skyranger took and the team hit the LZ at 1056 Zulu. The convoy was hit near the Dassault Aviation manufacturing near the Lille Aerodrome. The team hit the ground to one side of the road. On their approach they saw the two destroyed VAB APCs. The Skyranger started its egress as Matt and Makoto moved to the edge of the first building and climbed up a rain pipe to gain roof access. Anne, Hassan and Ahmed moved to the same building to clear the lower level.

The building was empty and Hassan and Anne were situated on either side of a garage rollup door with Ahmed in position by a broken wall to watch the street to the right of the building. Makoto was in the middle of the roof, providing area security for Matt who moved to the North edge of the building. He reached it and peered over, “Contact. Two thin men. One just took cover behind car in the alleyway directly in front of you Hassan. The second moved behind something on the roof. I have no shot. Pulling back now.”

Hassan looked at Anne and nodded. He went prone and she hit the button that caused the door to roll up. “Got him,” Hassan grunted as he let loose with his shotgun. The thin man was taken completely by surprise and the round removed his face leaving the poison cloud that every thin man’s death leaves.

“Eyes on number two,” Anne breathed as she lined him up in the SCOPE of her SAW. A stream of lead and tracers reached out and removed the threat. Once the XRay was down, Matt moved forward and set up a sniper’s perch in the Northeast corner of the first building. That gave him line-of-sight down the main road and into the next building that had several holes blown in it.

Hassan and Anne moved across the street to start clearing the next building. Ahmed moved right to investigate the hulks of the VABs in the street. He grunted then ducked down behind the burnt out remains of one of the APC. “One thin man, down the street. He just moved behind the covered truck. I don’t see him anymore.”

“Ok, wait one, Ahmed.” Matt whispered. He assumed the thin man saw Ahmed and would run from the truck to the car about 20 meters in front of it to try and flank Ahmed. A flicker of movement drew his attention and Ahmed heard the shot and the high wail the thin men make when killed.
“XRay down,” Matt stated matter-of-factly. “You’re clear to move forward. Ahmed, cover the road.”

Hassan moved forward to a bar in the middle of the room and looking North through the windows called out. “Another contact, thin man at the edge of tractor trailer there. Anne sprinted forward and pressed her back against the wall and peered around it, only to scream as several bolts of green destruction hit her high on the left shoulder. Fortunately, it spun her around and out of the thin man’s LOS.

“Damnit. Flanking!” Hassan shouted as he pushed left out a door and into the alley. He cleared the Northern edge of the building and slid to a stop on the opposite side of the car the thin man was hiding behind. He quickly cycled off several shots pulverizing the torso of the thin man who exploded like a gas bad leaving behind a cloud of poison. “XRay down.”

“I’m on the way, Anne.” Ahmed moved forward and used the medkit to stop the bleeding and seal up Anne’s wound. “There just rub some dirt on it.”

I thought Anne was going to punch him, and then she just chuckled.
“Boss,” Anne called over the radio. “Looks like we have a survivor down here.”

Bradford stepped up and keyed the mike, “Matt, we need him here to figure out what happened and what that convoy was moving.”

“Roger, Control. Anne move up and start bringing him back to the dustoff area.”

“Will do.” Anne moved up and through her hot mike we heard the survivor say, “You might as well leave me here. There’s no way I’m going to tell you people anything.”

“Get up and start moving.” Anne grabbed the guy and pushed him toward the building where Ahman was waiting.

“Team, sensors show a wave of alien reinforcements headed your way.” Bradford relayed the information the Command Center was picking up from drones monitoring the area. One thin man seeming dropped from nowhere to the roof of the building where Anne and Ahmed were guarding the survivor and a second thin man dropped into the road, where Matt was able to bring it down with two shots.

The team was holding in position until someone could put eyes on the other thin man, when green bolts lashed out from the open door Hassan had sprinted through earlier to flank the thin man who shot Anne. All but one of the bolts missed, singing the right forearm of the survivor. Hassan reversed his steps and returned to the road, flanking the thin man and putting eight buckshot pellets into the thin man, killing it instantly.
Bradford was calling in yet another wave with a thin man and Sectoid, which dropped down on the roof next to Matt and Makoto. Makoto spun and put a burst into the Sectoid, but didn’t hit it square. It stumbled throwing Matt’s first shot off. Before either of the XRay’s could plant their feet, Matt’s .50 caliber slug split the thin man like a piñata. Makoto side stepped to get a better shot at the Sectoid, when it spun around as quickly as a cobra and fired at him. Fortunately, the quick turn threw off its aim and Makoto’s return fire put it down for good.

The team was able to make it to the Skyranger with the survivor before a fourth wave of reinforcements arrived. I had the survivor taken into custody for interrogation.

***********

“Alright then, let’s get the staff meeting started. Dr. Shen, anything?”

“Yes, Commander. I am pleased to announce that the alien containment facility has been completed and passed all of its tests with flying colors. Additionally, we have another satellite uplink and laboratory space under construction. I will need to excavate the remaining areas of the second level if we would like to expand further. There are several projects we can start to investigate at the Foundry, once our funding issue has been cleared up.”

Shuffling some papers mentally reviewed our finances, which were zero dollars. “Yes, we have pushed our expenditures with the construction of the uplink and laboratory. Assuming we are not called on to clear a down UFO, we should be able to proceed in less than two weeks when we receive additional funding from the Council.”

“That is good news, Commander.” Dr. Vahlen spoke up, “We have had a breakthrough on the yellow substance we are finding at the aliens incursion sites. We have taken to calling it meld.”

Dr. Shen broke in, “Yes, it is amazing, Commander.”

“Yes it is, Doctor.” Dr. Vahlen smoothly retook control of the conversation, “It is a crystal matrix in the solution filled with a bio-mechanical nano technology. This ‘meld’ can form complex structures and contain information. I believe that we can use them to combine alien DNA and their capabilities with human DNA, making our soldiers ‘super-soldiers.’” She positively beamed, and I wondered what in a German scientist’s DNA pushes them for a ‘super-soldier.’"

Before I could comment Dr. Shen added, “It is also possible to use the meld to build extremely robust and complex super-suits that connects at a cellular level with soldiers. Imagine the best science fiction has to offer on the subject and it would fall short.”

“So Doctors, what do we need to implement your suggestions?”

“Well, Commander.” Dr. Shen shrugged, “It will mean two additional laboratories committed to each path. So I’m assuming we will have to wait until further funding.”

“Yes, if that is the case. I’d like a more complete report with specifics on my desk by the end of the week.”

Our meeting was interrupted by Bradford, who was listening to his earpiece, rapidly turning and bringing up CNN. There we saw the alien’s answer to our fight. They had brought huge UFOs over a dozen major cities throughout the world and were laying waste through large portions of them with heavy weapons.

“I wonder why they changed their tactics?” Dr. Vahlen wondered. I looked at her and then Bradford, who answered for me, “To show us that our efforts are useless, this was a message for XCOM.”

“Yes, it was Bradford, and one we will ignore. Capitulation is not an option, because this does show that our efforts are impacting the aliens or they wouldn’t have felt compelled to display this much force. So, we will need to continue our efforts.”

Bradford had stopped listening to me again as more news came over the net, “Sir, I have new instructions from both SOCOM and the Council. There is a large alien force in Port Said in Egypt and the attack is threatening the Suez Canal. We have been ordered to send a team to ensure that the aliens do not damage the locks, not with the amount of oil that passes through the Suez.”

“Ok, people. The staff meeting is obviously over. Bradford, call up our most experienced team. Matt, Liz, Makoto, Hassan and Anne Dixon. I want the most firepower we can put on the Skyranger.”

The command staff broke up and we all headed out to meet the latest problem head on.

Several hours later Bradford and I were giving the team the update for Operation Severed Fear. “Ok, Matt. There are civilians in the area this time and protecting them and getting them out of the way is our number two priority. Our number one priority is defeating the aliens and saving the canal.

The five-man team landed amongst the dock warehouses and immediately they could hear the sounds the aliens made, as well as, the screams of civilians being killed. Blasts of plasma being discharged in the background lent an urgency to this mission.

“Ok, I’m headed to a perch on the right of the warehouse in front of us. Makoto and Hassan prepare to breach through the door. Anne and Liz provide a base of fire if they spot hostiles.” Matt ordered as the team moved out. Hassan and Makoto opened the rollup door and spotted two Floaters. Makoto got a quick shot off that hurt one of them, but didn’t bring it down. The Floaters moved to of the line of fire through the windows on the right of the building, but out of sight from Matt.

“I’m follow.” Hassan quickly moved to follow.

“Wait, Hassan. I don’t have you covered.”

Hassan reached the side of the building and had just jumped through the windows the Floaters has broken through he noticed movement to his left.
“Oh my God, what the hell are those!” Makoto and Anne saw these strange purple spider-like creatures, or maybe crab-line. They skittered so fast and charged after Hassan and surrounded him at arm-length. Makoto fired off a burst, hitting one of the crabs with seemingly no effect. Hassan put a round a point-blank range into the same crab without killing it. Liz was running to the right corner of the building to help Hassan when his strangled scream of pain cut through the channel and then ended abruptly as one of the crabs eviscerated him with two of its legs. The other crab and Floater killed the two civilians who were in the area as well.

Liz screamed in hatred and brought out her rocket launcher. Now that the civilians were dead there was no reason not to use it. The rocket flew and impacted on the carapace of the crab that had been shot. The explosion killed that crab and a Floater, but the second crab was still standing. Liz's HUD automatically forwarded its data on the second crab to Matt’s holosight and he put a round through the natural armor of the crab that had been blown off by the rocket, killing it.

Makoto ran into the warehouse to cover Liz before she went to check on Hassan, when a honed instinct born of being shot at and hit too many times kicked in a he dodged fire from the second Floater that had been forgotten about. He hit a support column and returned fire, hitting the Floater but not killing it. Anne moved to the door Makoto just vacated and spotted the Floater and her burst turned it into a smoking wreck.

“Building clear.” Anne called out over the net.

The now four-man team splits up with Matt and Liz moving up the right side of the warehouse, with Makoto and Anne up the left. Makoto boarded a small boat tied up in the left dock slip. He jumped down and keyed his mike, “Contact, two more Floaters at the back of the warehouse.” The Floaters split up, and one disappears from his view and the other moves into attack.

The Floater inexplicably fired at the civilian huddling behind some rope coils in the boat killing her in front of Makoto. Matt stops his movement up the right side of the warehouse and take aim through the holosight and puts a round through damaged sections of wall on both sides of the warehouse, hitting the Floater but not killing it. Anne, who was trailing Makoto, unhooked a grenade and threw it at the Floater, who ducked down behind the two crates that were destroyed by her grenade. The now unmasked Floater was easy prey for Makoto’s burst.

Suddenly, there was a bolt sailing down from the sky. Apparently, the Floater the team had lost sight of had jumped onto the roof and then dropped down behind the team. He had Makoto in the open and put a burst of green fire that caused Makoto’s right arm to go limp. He immediately jumped up and sprinted to the small bridge, breaking out the medkit and cursing in Japanese the entire time.

No one had eyes on the target after Makoto ducked down, but Liz had already pulled out her specialized ‘shredder’ rocket and fired at the warehouse wall. She knew the Floater had been behind it and the explosion threw chunks of concrete that was now shrapnel into the Floater, killing it.

Fortunately, the Egyptian army had entered the AOR behind the team and eliminated the few other aliens that had escaped XCOM’s containment. Most of the civilians had been saved be XCOMs and the army’s effort.

“Great job, everyone. Let’s get you home.”

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Scion Drakhar



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PostPosted: Tue, 8. Dec 15, 05:22    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Hmm... you're soldier should have come back as a zombie when killed by that Chryssalid. Strange that it did not. In any case, keep it coming, mate.


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PostPosted: Wed, 9. Dec 15, 15:46    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Occasionally the chyrissalid just kill someone and don't implant them. I don't count on it, although it could have been the Floater that delivered the final blow. I put him in a VERY bad situation.

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PostPosted: Wed, 9. Dec 15, 15:46    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Occasionally the chyrissalid just kill someone and don't implant them. I don't count on it, although it could have been the Floater that delivered the final blow. I put him in a VERY bad situation.

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PostPosted: Sat, 12. Dec 15, 08:47    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

The alien activity is starting to pick up. The satellite over Argentina picked up another UFO entering the atmosphere. Raven 03 was scrambled to intercept, with Raven 04 placed on the Alert 5 catapult. The pilot had closed to visual range and confirmed what we were seeing on the radar return. This was a bigger ship about 50% bigger in total volume. Raven 03 was able to bring down the ship with Avalanches, but took a lot of damage in return. So far, despite their tech advantage, they seem particularly inept in the air.

I dispatched a team under Matt’s leadership and they did they’re usual job of cleaning things up. I was watching the intel debrief, when Matt walked into the office.

“Hey, boss.” He walked over to grab the whiskey and pour himself a drink. I noticed he took an uncharacteristically small sip and had some trouble swallowing.

“You OK, Matt?”

He waved his hand, “I will be. Once again we had something new thrown against us.”

“Really? I haven’t seen anything on the mission review, yet.”

“Well, you will…or won’t.”

“Matt, you know that make no sense, even for you.”

“Screw you, jackwad.” Matt grinned, “We found some kind of alien that looks like a floating squid. Nasty bugger as it has a stealth mode. It just goes invisible.”

“Holy shit, Matt! Does it fire from stealth?”

“No, at least not yet. It does however, pop out of stealth and strangle your happy ass.” He geastured at his throat. “Fortunate, you have a split second to hit it before it gets you. We took care of the first one like that, but the second popped up when it was only Anne and I. It jumps on top of you and squeezed. Anne killed it with a good burst. If I wasn’t choking, I’d have been scared shitless with all that 5.56 hitting a mere 10 inches above my head.”

“Good Lord. I hate these things.”

“Ya and Matt. We are going to have to figure out a way to hit them harder. The M4s are not capable of taking down any of the aliens except the Sectoids without multiple hits.”

“I know, it’s on the list. We have got to figure out a way to capture of these things and hopefully find out why they are here. I will give it the highest priority after that, OK?”

“Alright, I know you’re busy playing the juggler up here and frankly my throat is killing me. I’ll talk to you later.”

Matt left and I spent the little bit watching the op. Matt was right, those stealth units were pain in the ass and it was getting harder and harder to kill the new aliens. I jotted a few notes down for my next meeting with Dr. Vahlen. Hopefully her team would have the new ‘arc thrower’ bugs ironed out. She kept talking about how this was giving her ideas for a working laser system so we’ll definitely have to talk about that.

Four days later the now common incursion alert ripped through the base and brought me to the Command Room.

“What do we have this time, Bradford?”

“Well sir, it looks like Chihuahua, Mexico; Hong Kong…again; and Manaus, Brazil. The Chinese government still isn’t giving us official permission to enter their airspace.”

“Well screw’em then. Let’s see, I think we’ll take on the Mexican job. Canada has been making a lot of noise about the number of sightings in North America and they may have a point. Go ahead and send Matt’s team.”

“Excuse me, sir. Who do you want to send as the sixth member?”

“Six, when did that happen.”

“Well, sir. About two days ago Pratt & Whittney provided a new prototype turbothrust engine that increased power by 5%. I’m not sure why Dr. Shen didn’t inform you the modification of the Skyranger was complete, but we can now transport six assault troops.”

“Hot damn! That’s great. Send both Daniel and Kim. They worked well with Matt on the last UFO clearance.”

“Ok, let me know when they return. I have a VTC with Senator McCain of the SASC over some funding issues. God I hate politics.”

Later that day, “Commander, please report to the laboratory. Commander to the laboratory.”

Putting down the paper that was speculating on the next alien strategy, I headed down to see Dr. Vahlen.

“Alright, Doctor. What can I help you with.”

“Commander, I have great news. The team just radioed back news that the arc thrower worked and we not only have an alien to interrogate, we have two. They are both Sectoids, and additionally their weapons did not explode like they do after being killed so we have two of their pistols to examine as well. I know you wanted my team to focus on the potential of laser weapons, but I would like to start the interrogation immediately.”

“I agree, Doctor. Plus I read your report on the new automated autopsy machine. The University of Buenos Aries came through didn’t they?” The university had modified a robotic surgery machine to more rapidly perform autopsies. Given a robot never got tired, you received your report in what seemed like real time. We had just finished launching our latest satellite to complete the coverage over South America when the university delivered their machine.

“Please let me know when you get something, Doctor.”

“Actually, Commander, those reports are already in your email.” She looked extraordinarily smug.

“Well, then Doctor. If you wouldn’t mind hitting the highlights for me.”

“Certainly, as you know, we had three separate aliens in the morgue a thin man, floater, crab and the stealth unit. We performed the autopsies in that order and it was a fascinating experience and delivered a wealth of new information and possibilities.

First, the Thin Man is obviously an attempt to mimic human physiology. It appears as a 35 year old male, however, they were unable to change the eyes which are reptilian in nature. The finding was confirmed when we inspected the bone structure, which is segmented like a snake. We carefully traced the DNA function and cellular makeup of the Thin Man’s muscles and toxin storage. I believe that we can graft the increased muscular density into our soldiers with the genetic enhancements I described with meld. Additionally, I conferred with Dr. Shen and he believes that a modified toxin could be integrated into the medkit to increase its healing capability. He would need to complete practical application research in the ‘Foundry’, but it is possible. He was also muttering something about gas grenades as well.
Second, was the Floater. This alien is a mechanical-organic hybrid. They have had all of their internal organs removed and replaced with mechanical analogs. They also have implants like the Sectoids which are tied into their motor skills giving them an enhance evasion capability. We also have determined a way to use those implant to provide the same enhanced evasion for our interceptors.

Third, we have the crab, which we are starting to call Chryssalids. We used the name based on their reproductive method. They attack a host and their bite implants an egg that turns the host into a mindless drone…think zombie. The egg rapidly matures and then explodes out of the hose, killing it. These aliens are a complete genetic change from all the others. They are fascinating and we believe that we can mimic many of their capabilities. I believe we can duplicate their sensory inputs to allow a human to generate a small electrical field from their skin which would alert them to any enemy close by. This would be a counter to the stealth units we are starting to see. Dr. Shen has more applications, an improved armor vest using the organic armor on the Chryssalids and some type of grenade that shoots needles, but does not destroy the environment like high explosives do.

Finally, we have the stealthier, that we now call a Seeker based on its attack algorithms. The Seeker is not a biological unit, but a mechanical one. It has a bio-mechanical skin that interacts with a secreted vapor to bend light around themselves. The micro-motors that control the tentacles are amazing. Dr. Shen has used them to create an armored collar that immediately inserts a breathing tube into any soldier when it encounters any situation that prevents breathing, like Thin Man toxin and the strangulation of the Seeker. The real breakthrough was our creation of the vapor used for their stealth capability. Using the meld I’m positive we can change the genetic markers to interact with a vapor to allow a solider to become invisible.”

“Doctor,” I said with a hint of unbelieving, “You’re telling me that you can make a soldier disappear?”

“No, Commander, not directly. I believe that we can have them genetically modified to become stealthier, it would not make them invisible and an enemy could track them if they used the capability under line of sight, but if they were out of sight then the enemy wouldn’t know to look for them.”
“Doctor, that’s amazing. Let’s get started immediately.”

“Unfortunately, Commander, I cannot. You have not yet authorized the construction of the genetic laboratory I need to put these theories into action.”

I remembered the conversation I had with Vahlen and Shen when they discovered the uses for meld. “Alright, Doctor. I’ll take a look at the budget and work on that. In the meantime, please let me know when you get anything from the Sectoids.”

It was just two days later when Dr. Vahlen paged for myself, Bradford and Dr. Shen to come to the interrogation center. The Sectoid was no longer in the containment chamber. I looked to Dr. Vahlen with a question on my face.

“Oh, we had to destroy the alien, Commander. It remained hostile despite any of our attempts to convey our desire to talk to it.”

“Well, if you couldn’t talk, Doctor, then why are we here?”

“Well, sir. We were able to analyze its brain waves and with Dr. Shen’s help build a machine to interpret them. While we could not actually talk, we were able to generate several images that were of significant importance to the Sectoid.” She moved over to a projection screen and the image of a Sectoid initiating a purple connection thread.

“That’s the same alien we saw control the German Spec-Ops trooper that killed himself and the first team.” Bradford exclaimed. Looking at me, “That was the incident that prompted them to reach out to you, sir. There is nothing new here, Doctor.”

“Oh to be sure, Officer Bradford, but we were able to connect this mental picture to another with a strong memory.” She moved a control and a gold shaped alien was showing on the screen.

“One of the UFO aliens?” Bradford queried.

“Yes, there is a strong connection between the two that we do not understand.”

Cutting in, “Let me guess, Doctor. You’d like our teams to capture one of these?” I motioned to the screen.

“Yes, Commander. The capture of the gold alien is the next crucial step in understanding the aliens mission and behavior.

“Alright, Doctor. We’ll make it a priority, but I’m not sure how feasible it will be. On that note, have you started looking into your laser weapons project?”

“Yes, Commander. I’m hoping to have some progress for you soon.”
Heading back to my office, I was considering the news of the stealth capability and how that could be exploited. I needed to coerce some extra funding to get that project started, when I thought of something Dr. Shen had said. What sacrifices and what dark paths are we willing to go down? The same dark path that the aliens have obviously trod with genetic manipulation, do we dare? Do we have any choice? I didn’t think so. If we were to remain free, and be we I mean humanity at large, then XCOM was going to have to get its hands dirty. I’m not sure what the long term effects will be for those soldiers that have the genetic modification, but I’m VERY sure we are going to have to have them.

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Jonzac



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PostPosted: Sat, 12. Dec 15, 08:58    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Down at the workshop Dr. Shen setup, I watched as the engineer made the final adjustments to the device. He set it to his shoulder and a brilliant burst of light leapt from the muzzle and impacted the target. It burned a 6” hole in the target and left an impression in the concrete behind it.

“As you can see, Commander, we have produced the laser rifles and pistols that Dr. Vahlen’s team hypothesized. I have produced enough to equip those soldiers who use them. I am working with Dr. Vahlen’s team to find a way to boost output of the power supply for larger weapons. By next week I expect we will be able to build a SAW replacement, and more importantly, be able to build a laser repeater for our interceptors.”

“Amazing Dr. Shen, and I cannot wait until you can provide the heavier weapons.”

“Yes, Commander. I am hoping that after we solve the power problem, we can then work on miniaturization and build a workable replacement for the sniper rifle. A laser that can reach those distances would be good force multiplier, correct?”

“Commander to Mission Control, Commander to Mission Control.”

“Excuse me, Doctor, it looks like I have to leave.” I turned and moved my way to the Command Room. “Bradford, what’s up?”

“Sir, one of our satellites caught a UFO slowing considerably and we believe may have touched down somewhere in the Congo. We are working to triangulate its position now, but I think we have an opportunity to assault a landed UFO.”

“Do we know the size, Bradford?”

“It’s a large scout, the same size as the third UFO we shot down.”

“Well, do we know it will still be there?”

“Sir, we don’t but our previous observations show that it will remain grounded and initiate some abduction. I believe that if we dispatch a team now they will arrive before the aliens take off. This could be a good opportunity to capture a working UFO, that alone should give us a leg up in duplicating their tech, as well as, the opportunity to capture one of those gold aliens.”

“Alright, it’s going to be a tough mission, but I agree we have to chance it. Ok send a full six person team, Matt ‘Garrote’ Wagner, Liz ‘Sledge’ Andre, Ahmed Majin, Daniel Phillips, Kim Burns and Makoto ‘Mr. Clean’ Fujita.” I shook my head, “Damn I love the nicknames. Make it happen, Bradford.”

Watching the mission hours later, I was struck by just how good XCOM has become. The team moved right and eliminated three Floaters and two Seekers quickly. They approached the UFO and spooked another group of three Floaters and had them all down in less than 30 seconds. The breach went well and Phillips even managed to get close enough to a wounded Floater to use the arc thrower. Even more impressive was watching him charge in, avoid a shot from the gold alien and then stun it. I’m not sure to give him a medal or an ass-chewing. Either way, we have a couple more aliens to interrogate, although I’m not sure about the gold one, it turned into a crystal after the stun.

Later in the labratory, I stood with Dr. Vahlen and Dr. Shen at the lab looking at the crystal. Dr. Vahlen was extremely frustrated and it showed. “I’m not sure what it is, Commander. It’s organic in nature, but resonates at specific frequencies. I’m not sure what it is?”

“I believe, Doctor, that is because it is out of your specialty.” Gesturing at the crystal, “That is an antenna and it is sending an encrypted message.”

“Can you trace the message, Shen?”

“No sir, at least not yet. It is encrypted.”

“My team should be able to work on that, Dr. Shen.”

“I will build an algorithm for our satellite network to trace it when you are completed.” Dr. Shen nodded and then left for his laboratory.

“You’re doing great work, Doctor. I understand you’ve finished the interrogation of the Floater?”

“Yes, Commander. A mindless beast, filled with rage. I don’t know if that was its original condition or a byproduct of the mechanical manipulation to make it like this. I do know that investigating the way the Floater controls its mechanical assets has given us a direction for a more robust suit of armor for the team.”

“Excellent, you’ve provided the weapons and if we can become more armored we’ll be in a great position to take the fight to the enemy.”
Dr. Shen was as good as his word and he finished the research in both types of improved laser weapons, which were field tested in an incursion we stopped in Hanburg, Germany. The only minor injury was to Liz who was choked by a Seeker that has somehow had shaken off a full blast from Makoto’s laser.

The next few weeks were a blur, Dr. Vahlen was gaining a much greater insight into deciphering the alien technology and Dr. Shen’s team of engineers were able to quickly turn these new technologies into something we could use. Their latest collaboration was a new set of armor. The teams had started calling in Carapace armor because they felt it made them look like beetles...well armored beetles though.

The next step was analyzing the power sources we had found on the UFOs. Eventually the teams found that it used a previously unknown element they had named ‘Eleriuim.’ The element and containment unit were extremely efficient using 99% of the power contained in the atomic bond structure of the new element, compared to the rather smaller percentages our nuclear power plant operated at. We cannot duplicate the materials and miniaturization the aliens are capable of, as well as, we have no idea if we can synthesize this new element, however, the teams determined a way to modify the output connectivity for inclusion in our own power systems. They have promised new electrical power generators for the base if needed.

All the work the research teams have been going through proved their worth. I was sitting in the Command Room when one of the techs turned, “Commander. We have confirmation that a UFO has landed in the Congo. Our satellite got a late hit on an atmospheric anomaly so we could not scramble an intercept. It’s one of the smaller UFOs and their always harder to pick up anyway.”

“So the UFO just landed?” Turning to Bradford, “How long do they normally stay, seven or eight hours, right?” Bradford just nodded, “OK, let’s get a team suited up. Let Matt lead, but we need to give most of the team a break. We’ll send them in, but I want them all in the new armor. They should be fine with Matt in overwatch.”

“Ok, people. We are in the Western Congo in a heavily wooded forest. There should be lots of cover, make sure you use it. It’s a small UFO, so I’m expecting no more than six XRays total.” Matt finished his briefing as the Skyranger landed. The team moved left towards a small hill and hadn’t even cleared the LZ when Elsa Delgado called out.

“Holy shit. Contact, a new one. Three big green dudes with a huge weapon. They are splitting up now.”

The team raced to cover at the base of the knoll, ducking down behind trees.

“Whoa,” Anne called out. “That was close. Tore the hell out of the tree I’m behind as well.”

“Wait one,” Matt whispered. He hadn’t moved and was busy lining up the nearest BGD, (big green dude), in his holosight. He held his breath and inbetween heartbeats pulled the trigger. The pencil-thin coherent beam of light hit the BGD right between the eyes, drilling a neat hole through its head. “XRay down.”

“No shit. Nice shot, Matt.” Elsa grunted as she lined up a shot. The rest of the team had moved left for cover, except for Elsa. She was always a loner and had immediately sprinted right across a small stream and had unerringly flanked a second BGD. Her shot flashed from the laser rifle catching the BGD low in the back and the flesh instantly overheating blew out a five inch hole through its stomach. The BGD gave a low whine and then pitched over.

The last BGD broke cover and ran backwards just as Matt lined up his second shot. It hit the alien high in the right shoulder, but didn’t seem to slow it down any.

“Ok, Phillips. Move up on the left and cover the rookies. I’m relocating.”

“Roger, ‘Garrotte’”

“Piss off, Dan.”

Dan loved calling that stupid name over the comm, one of these days I’m going accidentally shoot him…somewhere not vital…maybe.

“Cover, take cover.” Dan was shouting into the mike. “Three Floaters right by the UFO.” Dan was crouched behind a rock outcropping putting rounds downrange to keep the Floaters down while the rookies get to cover.

One of them, Irene…or something, leaned out and took one out with shot. Matt finished his move to the left flank and started receiving data into his holosight. He was quickly able to knockout the second one and the third one did one of their high burns that pushed it behind the team. The teams had seen this before and Anne had already moved to the rear and potted the Floater out of the sky like a skeet disc.

“Ok, team. Let’s find the last one and get prepared to breach.” Matt continued to cover the left side of the UFO with Phillips and the rookie. She moved to the UFO and that gold alien sprung up and moved to flank her.

She quickly fell back, hoping to draw the XRay into Matt’s sights. When that didn’t work, Anne moved to the right of the UFO and then stopped with a cry of pain. The wounded BGD had hidden behind a rock shelf that was right by the UFO’s door. Anne stumbled back after being hit and out of the line of sight. Else charged forward, jumping from the knoll to the top of the UFO and then down right behind the BGD. She was all alone and out of sight of everyone.

She calmly aimed the arc thrower and put the ugly green dude down. Her position left her vulnerable to the gold alien inside the UFO to come out behind her. Phillips recognized the problem as Matt was yelling at Elsa. He sprinted to the edge of the left entrance and waited. Sure as a bear shits in the wood, goldie moved to get Elsa and Dan put him down.

The new power sources were amazing, but their first impact was the ability for the laboratories to provide an external power source to the navigational tables we’ve seen in the UFOs. We had been unable to get them to work until we determined how the aliens provided power. We have them up and running and are still working on a complete effort to decipher the encryption the aliens use. Regardless, we have determined some of their programing and the little bit we have has given Dr. Shen a few ideas. He believes that he could transform our satellites communication to mimic the aliens which would hopefully hide them from retaliation. Additionally, the way they run multiple frequencies in harmonic progression has allowed him to design a more robust satellite uplink facility. It would be able to double the amount of uplink data streams we currently can provide. I don’t have the money to build one, but getting one ready is a priority as I would like to get satellite coverage over Europe.

Most of Asia has dropped out of the XCOM project, beginning with China. I just couldn’t get to the rest of the Far East, particularly Australia. We still get sporadic reports from informants from those areas, but nothing actionable.

My intercom buzzed and Bradford was asking me to meet him in the secure VTC. That meant the council had something to say to us.

“Commander, we have finished questioning the survivor you captured and we have confirmed that there is an organization that is attempting to undermine XCOM. They have a misguided vision of working with the aliens and are actively attempting to sabotage your efforts. The organization calls themselves, EXALT, and we have tracked one of their operational teams to India. There is an opportunity to work with CBI, the Central Bureau of Investigation, and insert an operative into their cell. The operative would go in with minimal equipment. He would be able to hide a pistol, and a few grenades but that was it. Looking over the roster and balancing the need to stop incursions, I had Squaddie Dominik Jaworski, who spoke fluent Hindi. I told him to contact us through the sat phone when he was ready for extraction and I’d bring the entire team to get him out.

A day later I was glad that I kept the more experienced team together. They had an incursion in Toronto that was pretty tough. No one was hurt, but only because the veterans kept their heads on a swivel and the new equipment. Two days later, Dominik called in and needed an extraction…like right now.

Matt led our most experienced people for the extraction, Liz, Makoto, Anne, Phillips and one urban specialist Erin Ryan. They hit the ground in Raipur near the library in the Sindhu College. Liz and Makoto hit the wall near the main entrance and immediately spotted three Exalt agents in the library. The looked and moved like spec-ops, Matt was able to sight one from the LZ and the spear of coherent light connect him with the smoking hole in the chest of the Exalt operator. The other two broke for cover.

“Thank God you’re here. I’ve put the encryption console here in the storage room to the right of the main floor. The main harddrive is in a garage in the back, Exalt will never find it until they break through the firewall on the encryption console. They also have dropped off comm jammers and signal boosters. I’m going to disable the first one here, that should allow you to talk to Control.”

“Roger, that. Phillps, Anne and Erin, you three move to protect the encryption console. Take cover and wait there.”

A chorus of Rogers came through with Erin and Anne taking cover inside the room and Dan covering the outside corner.

Meanwhile, Makoto and Liz were trading shots with two operatives. They had just taken out on and wounded the other, who used a medkit on himself when our decluttered comm channel to Control broke through.

“Matt, more hostiles inbound. They are rappelling in from helos.” Bradford managed to get through in time.

Matt spun from his perch behind a car on the left corner of the library and hits one of the rappelling agents. All the Exalt reinforcements came in behind the team or on the far right flank. Matt’s shot had killed one and both Makoto and Liz moved to find cover while firing at the two behind them. It took several shots but they managed to down one while Matt took out a second one. Dan on the far right flank spotted one moving to come around the right corner and hit him with a blank point shot.

“Rear is clear.” Matt radioed to the team.

“That’s what she said.” Someone whispered over the comm and I heard several snickers over the comm channel. It never ceased to amaze me how people reacted when the bullets started flying.

“Clear the channel you lecherous bastards.” Matt called out.

“Library clear.” Makoto called out as he put the last of the three initial contacts down.

“Dominik, there is one of those jammers over here in front of me.” Matt called down and watched as Dominik sprinted down the length of the library and slid to a stop behind the jammer.

“Oh, shit. Two more Exalt down the left side.” He called out to Matt.
“Got them.” Matt said putting words to action and knocked down one of the Exalt snipers there.

“Big push coming in to the storage room.” Anne called out. She and Erin started firing at a three man Exalt team peering and firing through windows at the rear of the library.

“Fire in the hole,” Ann called out as she cut loose with a rocket. It killed one of the agents and removed the wall the other was hiding behind. Erin saw the exposed agent and finally managed to land a round, killing him.
Dan moved into the room and hid behind a stack of boxes. He sighted down the laser rifle and put the third agent out of action.

“Matt, more helos inbound. Looks like the last of Exalt’s available forces.” Bradford called out. “They are dropping behind the library.”

Anne moved forward to attempt to get an angle on them and exposed not only the three reinforcements, but a second three man team that had been on overwatch.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” She yelled as she turned around to get to her old position. Unfortunately, their heavy weapons support brought out his own rocket that removed the outer wall, but also caught Anne and knocked her down. Another agent moved forward and just before the bolt of light from Erin killed him, threw a grenade that landed at the feet of Anne.

“I hate this sh…” She curled into a ball to minimize the exposure of her armored body. The grenade went off, but her armor stopped most of the shrapnel. She quickly crawled back behind a large book rack out of sight of Exalt. Dan unstrapped his medkit and tossed it to her. He then caught an Exalt agent who had low crawled to the encryption console and started to connect to it. Liz and Makoto sprinted through the main library room and found flanking shots on two other agents.

“Tango down,” Matt called out from the left flank as the second Exalt agent Dominik had spotted broke cover in front of Matt to try and get a rear shot on Liz, only to receive an early grave at the hands of Matt.

The last Exalt agent charged down the right flank only to skid to a stop as Daniel Phillips spun around, leaned right and from six feet away put a bolt of lightning right in between his eyes.

“Ok, team. Looks clear. Dominik go pick up the harddrive and let’s boogie.”
The techs in the Command Room where going over the intel that the team and Dominik had saved and forwarded their findings to Bradford and I.

“Looks like we have another one of these Exalt cells in France. I’ll work with DST and send in Dominik again. Sound good?” He looked at me and I concurred.

“I’m not sure what they want, but we have the next cell and we’ve been able to rule out anywhere in the Arctic Circle for their base.”

“Right, keep me informed. I’m going to get ready for our monthly Council debrief.”

The meeting with the council was brief and to the point. Although Japan and Australia left the XCOM project the council was fairly pleased with our overall progress. The month funding allowed me to put Matt, Dominik and Daniel into the new gene melding program. They all volunteered, but I still feel a little weird about introducing alien DNA into humans. When the program is done, Matt will have increased muscle density and the ability to jump up to 30 meters. Dominik will have the chameleon property with his skin and Daniel will have the sensitive skin and increased bone marrow which will allow him to identify stealth units and heal himself internally.

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Jonzac



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PostPosted: Sat, 12. Dec 15, 09:15    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I was also spending more and more time in the laboratories. Especially when the good doctors finally figured out the Outsider shard.

“Commander, we are ready and the shard is tied into our satellite network.” Dr. Shen said straightening up from the installation.

We waited a few minutes and watched as the technicians collected the signal intelligence. The screen then swung around to focus on a small island in the Caribbean.

“Get me a satellite over that.” I barked.

“Recon two coming on line, sir.” The technician worked to clarify the visual stream we were receiving. The scan showed nothing on the screen.

“That’s not right,” Dr. Shen sounded irritated. “It’s there, I know it is.”

“Control, give me thermal images please.” We waited and then found a large warm spot underground.

“Ahhhhhh, give me a radar mapping and substrata grid.” The picture resolved into what looked like underground structures. “There you are.”
“Ok, Doctor. Now how do we get in?”

“I thought you’d never ask, Commander. I can fashion a key from the shard that will resonate at the required frequency to allow access. Give me a few days to fashion the ‘skeleton key’ and you’ll be able to assault the base.

“I wonder what we’ll find there?” Dr. Vahlen was already musing.

“I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

The base was on pins and needles as we waited for the skeleton key to be made, when the tension was broken by the wailing of an alert.

“Attention, large UFO entering atmosphere. Large UFO entering atmosphere over Canada.”

Bradford looked at me as we reviewed the readout. “I suggest we send out our best aircraft and pilot for this.”

“I agree, spin up Raven 02. I guess we’ll see how good that new laser system is.”

Once again, Lt Col ‘Knotso’ Cool grunted under the acceleration of the catapult. The new engines the interceptor had pushed him well into Mach 4. He had less than 10 minutes before he arrived at the target. He started the weapons system warm up, which ironically cooled down the laser head.

“Control, target coming up. Jesus Christ that ****** is huge. Making approach now.”

We were watching Raven 02’s approach when twin bolts of green death spat out at Knotso. He quickly broke right then reversed in a barrel roll.

“Damn that was close. I’m still too far out, Control.”

“Roger, Raven. Initiating evasion protocol Gamma.” The tech pushed in the code and I watched as Raven 02 accelerated and moved incredibly quickly. Far faster than any human could react.

“Ahhhh, I hate it when the stick moves.” Knotso complained as the computer took control in conjunction with satellite feedback. The interceptor dodged and weaved avoiding the giant blobs of death.

“Guns, guns, guns!” Knotso called out as he took back control. “The bolts are tearing into it. There it goes. UFO down, UFO down.”

“Ok, we’ll need to get a team down for that one, Bradford. Let’s send Matt, Liz, Anne, Makoto, Domonik and Josette.”

The team settled in the LZ, which was on the starboard side of the UFO. Matt headed to high ground and Dominik activated his camo and moved down the side the UFO. The rest of the team took positions around a ramp that led into the UFO, with Josette moving to the end of the UFO that was torn up from the laser fire and impact.

“Contact, two Seekers.” Dominik whispered.

“Got them,” Matt said and pulled the trigger. The laser lanced through one of the Seekers and the second reacted by going into stealth mode. The team rode out the next few minutes, but the Seeker never reappeared.

Liz and Anne moved up the ramp and Dominik moved back by Matt. Liz and Anne where by a door sealed by the glowing energy they always have when a second door on the platform disappeared, Liz turned and there were three Chyrssalids moving from the door to another ramp that disappeared into the ship. Liz fired a shot hitting one as it moved into the ship.

“Oh shit! Chyrssalids. Moving now.” Anne announced as they both ran like hell down the outside ramp to the rest of the team. Matt, Dominik and Makoto pivoted to keep the area under observation, when a purple horror burst out of the door and was immediately put down by a combination of Matt’s and Makoto’s shooting. A second Chyrssalid came through and Dominik hit it, but it kept charging at Matt. The third wounded monstrosity followed. Anne spun from the rock outcropping she had made it too and fired dropping the charging Chyrssalid at Matt’s feet. Dominik fired again at the third XRay bringing it down.

The team breathed a quick sigh and as they started reloading the second Seeker came out of stealth and sped toward Matt. Liz was amazingly fast and hit it right as its tentacles were reaching for Matt.

“Nice shot, Liz.”

“No problem, Matt. Can’t let them touch that pretty face of yours.”

Matt just smiled and gave waved his hand to get the team going. Everyone but Josette got onto the platform where Liz and Anne had just been. Josette went around the ship and into the holes in the front. She sprinted to the end of the room and started up an internal ramp. Unfortunately, she was not at the rear of the UFO, but the control room and that activated the ships Outsider. The XRay sprinted away from her and flanked the rest of the team. The alien put a burst into Matt, who was feeling very picked on at this point. Josette chased after the Outsider and brought it down before it could fire again.

“Ok, team. We’ve got this part covered. Let’s start working our way to the rear. Dominik you get busy and lead the way.”

“Ja, Matt.” Dominik activated the camo and started moving from corner to corner. Once he verified there was no aliens the team would come through and secure the area. The team got to the rear section, a place with two ramps leading down when Dominik spoke up, “Wait. I hear sometink ahead.” The team spread out to the top of both ramps that were closed with the glowing door. Liz and Anne handled the port ramp and Makoto and Josette the starboard. Dominik couldn’t pin down where the sound was coming from and Matt station in the small corridor in between the ramps ordered Josette to deactivate her door.

“Contact!” She shouted. “Two Sectoids and a large armored XRay.”

“Commander,” Dr. Vahlen broke in. “The readings indicate that the aliens have built a rather large armored suit for a Sectoid. We have no idea of its capability, but we assume it to be extreme.”

Makoto knew he and Josette were out of position so threw a smoke grenade on his position to cover his and Josette’s move to cover. One of the Sectoids reached cover farther away from the team and created that purple thread with the armored alien. Unfortunately, the armored alien charged at them and the smoke provided cover for the alien as well. No one could see and everyone missed the monstrosity that reached the top of the ramp, turned right and popping out of the smoke a mere 10 feet from Matt and put a large volume of fire into him. The alien hit the same spot on his armor that had been hit before and the green plasma bolts lanced through Matt throwing him a good six feet and almost cutting him in half.

“You bastard!” I yelled, a call that was echoed by Liz.

Dominik who had been moving under stealth to the lower level had the Sectoid that initiated the mind meld in his sights. He quickly put it down, which caused the Sectoid in the suit to scream, but not go down. Liz had been reaching behind her and pulled out her shredder rocket and fired. She removed all cover and the small fragments tore rents in the suit’s armor. Makoto turned the corner and hit the armor, with the laser penetrating through the now weakened armor. Anne rushed up and with her heavy laser almost touching the suit held the trigger down. Her laser fire ripped through the armor and killed the Sectoid inside. Dominik ended the fight with another shot at the last Sectoid that was trying to run away.

It was dark in the office, just like my mood. I was angry and drunk, never a good combination in any trained killer. The pictures flowed through my mind, the giant armored Sectoid, and everyone is calling it a Mechtoid now, sprinting up the slope and turning directly to Matt. It ignored all the other troopers to focus on Matt, like every other ****** alien on the UFO. It was like they had a psychic compass that pulled them to him. I wonder if they could somehow track the genetic modifications he underwent? I pulled the bottle closer and refilled my glass. Another image, the body bad on a gurney being wheeled out from the Skyranger, an image of a younger Matt at BUDS training, another grinning during a firefight in Fallujah.

My train of thought was broken as the door opened, right as I was about to ensure that whoever disturbed me would regret it for a long time, I recognized who was coming into the office. I sat back down and offered the whiskey to Makoto and Liz. We all just sat there and drank for a very long time. We were all that was left of the original team.

“I want those ****** aliens, Sam. I want in on the base and I want to burn the bastards to the ground.” Liz mentioned in a disturbing light tone.

“Hai, Gaijan. We must send many of them to whatever afterlife awaits them. I owe it to his soul after my mistake.” Makoto quietly hammering himself for what happened after he threw the smoke grenade.

“Makoto-san, there was no way to know how quickly an armored suit like that could move. It was like watching one of those old manga cartoons. It came after Matt and ignored everyone else, and it couldn’t even see him at first. We will take our revenge; you have my word of honor.”

“I want them all dead, Matt. Every last one of them.” Liz continued in that conversational voice.

“I know, I know. If I could get a nuke, I’d drop it on the base regardless of the intel we’d lose.” I rocked back, imagining the searing wave of overpressure incinerating the flaccid bodies of the Sectoids. Their shrill screams of pain right before the final end. “We’re going. They’ve finished the autopsy on the Mechtoid and it’s a cast iron bitch. The Doctors want us to wait another eight days or so while they finish the research needed for a heavier armor suit, but I’m not going to. We’re going in tomorrow afternoon.”

“We, Gaijan? You coming too?”

“Oh yes, I’ll be there. I’m not sitting this out, not after what happened. We three plus Dan Phillips and Dominik are going in. So, let’s put this bottle up for now and get ready to get some of our own back.”

We landed on the Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas, on the east side of Lake Rosa. The skeleton key opened the hatch and we repelled down into the stuff of nightmares. We were surrounded by those containers that held the remains of human in some sort of suspension, and all around there were weird tubes that looked like veins and arteries following the rough edges of the cavern we were in. There were several rows and column of the tanks with three suspended walkways headed into the gloom. I took Liz and Dominik on the far right walkway and Makoto started onto the middle walkway with Anne and Phillips.

“Contact, two flying drones of some sort; correction only one drone left.” Makoto initiated over the comm line and then removed one of the drones with accurate laser fire.

I heard a whine of a discharged laser behind me. “Second drone down,” Dominik reported from his perch.

The teams were moving forward together and we had just reached some arch that all the walkways had when Makoto and his team scrambled to cover.

“Another damn new thing, Gaijan. Looks like a flying silver disk with two drones. What the hell?” Makoto exclaimed. I looked over and saw the disk transform, it was like watching Optimus Prime in the Transformer movie as pieces slide and whirled and then there was a floating, death tank on the walkway.

“Rockets away,” Anne reported. She had taken her AT-4 and pulled off the anti-personnel sleeve, changing the weapon to its original anti-tank configuration. The rocket hit the death tank and a jet of incandescent plasma pierced its skin and rocking it back. Shrapnel from the explosion also took out one of the following drones. The XRay transformed back into a disk, but while certain of its components were exposed Dominik put a perfectly placed shot causing the disk to wobble and drop to the ground belching smoke. The second drone pulled back past the arch and disappeared from sight. The team took the time to reload our laser powerpacks.

The teams started moving forward and I had just reached the archway on our side when Dan called out two more drones on the far left walkway. Makoto and Anne moved to a small platform overlooking that walkway and with two shots took out the drones. Right as that happened movement caught my eye, two Seekers had popped out of the darkness.

“Seekers, shit they spotted me.” I said as the Seekers went stealthy. “Close up, close up.” Liz and I hugged the wall we were at and Dominik sprinted down from his perch beside me. Makoto and his team had finally cleared the archway and were headed my way when both Seekers unmasked. The first was reaching for me when Liz’s weapon knocked it out of the sky. The second Seeker then stopped and oriented on me and fired hitting my in the right shoulder, but didn’t penetrate the armor…much. Grunting with the sharp pain I raised my new weapon, a laser shotgun, don’t ask me how it worked and I took out the XRay.

“Sam, you OK?” Liz asked.

“I’m good, it hardly got through the armor. Hurts, but I can move the arm fine.”

My walkway ended in glowing door that was easily 20 feet tall. Liz and I guarded the edges, while both teams moved up. Makoto team’s walkway didn’t have a door, but led to platform. Liz and I deactivated our door and we saw an Elerium power supply and a smaller walkway leading to meet where Makoto was peeking around the corner. There was a raised platform directly in front of Makoto’s team and there looked to be another walkway on the left side that mirrored the one in front of me.

“Dominik, you head up to that platform in overwatch. Liz and I will cover this walkway. Makoto, take your fireteam and put eyes on the left catwalk.” The team moved out when Anne’s heavy laser buzzed into action, cutting the drone that had retreated into a million tiny pieces.

“Oh shit, contact.” Dominik whispered. “Three Thin Men spotted me and one is headed your way boss. The other two went to ground in the depression just in front of me. They’re hiding behind some contraption.”

“I spotted them,” Liz said unlimbering her rocket and firing down in to the depression. The lowered walls kept the blast concentrated and I saw the toxin clouds that were the remains of two Thin Men. I was still trying to get settled after getting hit when Dominik blew by me, at least I’m sure it was Dominik as he had activated his camo and was peering around the corner. I looked his way right as the third Thin Man appeared around the corner. The Thin Man had no idea Dominik was there when he pulled his plasma pistol out and standing no more than 8 feet away removed the head completely in a bloom of green bolts.

“Thank, Dom. Ok, team. Let’s get ready. Dom up on the perch there, Makoto take your team left and we’ll meet in the middle of that depression.”
The depression was clear and led to another walkway that had surgery beds on it, at least that’s what it looked like. Humans with their heads under a cover lying in a mechanical hospital bed. We would have to come back for them after we cleared the base.

“Control, XCom Six. There are humans down here, prepare several medical teams and extraction for them.” Bradford acknowledged and I turned my attention to matters at hand.

The team crested the platform with the surgical beds at the same time, ducking behind a few pieces of monitoring equipment.

“Shit, another one of those disk things, boss.” Liz announced. I could see her pulling her second AT-4 out and sighting down the length of it. “On the way!”

The rocket streaked into the disk, ripping a giant hole its armor and pushing it four feet or so backwards. Dominik repeated his feat from earlier and put a bolt of light directly into the hole in the armor and destroying the disk internal power. Phillips then popped up over a built in desk and potted the one drone that had accompanied the disk. We cleared the room and Dominik activated stealth and moved to the frame of another giant glowing door. We could all hear something heavy stomping around on the other side.

Dominik deactivated the door and we could see a small hallway running perpendicular to use with two centrally placed ramp up to another platform. The ends of the hall had a glowing curved blue tube from the hallway to the same platform the ramps led to. There was space in between the two ramps and I motioned Dominik and Phillips to peer around the corners of each. There was nothing in sight so Liz moved down the hallway to the left, when bolts of green screamed past her.

“Oh shit, contact. Mechtoid and a Sectoid on that platform. Damnit, the Sectoid just melded with it and Shen said that gave it a shield of some sort.” Liz was grunting from ducking down behind cover. “Here it comes!”
The Mechtoid charged the team stopping at the top of the left ramp. Liz bolted out of cover and threw herself into the blue tube which pushed her up to the platform and flanking the Mechtoid. She opened up with her heavy laser hitting it.

“Spotted,” Makoto said from his over watch position at the glowing door frame we had entered through. His shot connected and the Mechtoid stumbled as the damage got through the shield and took a chunk of armor off.

“No angle,” Dominik called out.

Anne charged up the right ramp to where she could get an angle and poured fire into the Mechtoid. Her bolts were very effective, tearing holes in the Mechtoids armor from legs to its shoulders. Phillips and I charged past her ending up behind the Mechtoid. We could see the Sectoids, but we focused on the large armored monstrosity. Phillips bolt hit it dropping it to a kneeling position as it tried to balance the from the damage it had received.
I stepped up and put my weapon right behind its head, “This is for Matt you ****** alien!” Pulling the trigger the bolts ripped through the this canopy and vaporized the Sectoid’s head.

The Sectoid ran backward down the ramps on the back side of the walkway we were on. Dominik sprinted up to the platform we had just killed the Mechtoid on, which overlooked a huge cavern with walkways and platforms at all different levels.

“Oh, my God!” Dominik screamed as three Chyrssalids jumped up from the platform below this one. I turned and pumped a round of laser fire into one, followed by Phillips killing it. Liz hit another one from her spot on the left, but it didn’t kill it. The two turned and attacked Dominik. The first punctured his torso and he was held there in mid-air screaming and the second pierced his abdomen with its claw arm and he collapsed to the ground.

The remaining team pounded the two remaining horror shows into the ground, when Dominik suddenly stood up and without speaking shambled over to Anne and bringing his right hand around punched a hole through her armor. She screamed and fell to one knee.

“Oh, shit. He’s a zombie Vahlen talked about. Kill it, him.” I screamed
Liz fired and hit him and I followed up with two point blank shots. His body seemed to shudder and I poured more fire into the corpse until I was sure the Chyrssalid embryo inside him was dead as well.

Makoto raced up from his overwatch spot and pulled out one of the team’s two medkits. The monitor ran a quick scan and then sprayed the healing nanotech as well as driving forceps it Anne’s shoulder bringing out a small round object that was immediately started shriveling and smoking when it came into contact with the air.

“Ok, Anne. We got the egg out before any damage was done.” Makoto said.

“Team, spread out. Phillips head left with Liz for close protection. Anne are you, OK?” I asked. She nodded and picked up her weapon. “Ok, move to the right platforms. There is still a Sectoid out there.

Liz moved carefully down the left side walkway that ended in a balcony that was four stories higher than the far end of the platform that was bathed in an orange light from some strange device. She poked her head out, “Contact. One Sectoid and another one by the device., wait one.” She was fiddling with her sight, “The Sectoid by the device is different. Bigger head and it glows orange, sending data to everyone now.”

Control took the data and pushed it to everyone’s HUD.

Dr. Vahlen cut into the comms, “We’ve seen this Sectoid before. It was at the scene in Germany when the German recon team was killed.”

“That’s right,” Bradford said, “It also looks like the image we pulled from the mind of the Sectoid you interrogated, Doctor.”

If that was the leader of the aliens then we could end it all right now. “Ok, Liz. Can you get a shot on the leader?” I asked.

“No problem, it’s long.” She put words to action and started laying fire down on the leader. She missed and it moved back away from the device.
I was getting ready to run down to the next platform when a strange pressure started building behind eyes. I felt tiny worms of pain inside by brain and my eyes were dragged to look at the leader, there was a purple thread connecting us and I watched as I stood up and sprinted to the flank of Phillips and Liz. I was screaming in my head as my hand came up, with the last medkit and I sprayed the healing nanos on my shoulder.

“Boss, you OK?” Phillips asked looking at me. I couldn’t answer him, I could see Liz jumping down to the platform below and taking another shot at the leader grazing it and forcing it out of cover. Makoto popped up from his spot just behind Anne and hit the leader, forcing it to the ground and dragging itself over the floor. He stopped and looked at Anne as she raised her weapons and she suddenly grabbed her head and started screaming.

I felt my hand raising my laser and aiming at Phillip’s head.

“Boss, what the hell!” I couldn’t stop it, I could feel my finger start to take up slack in the trigger when all of the sudden the pressure eased and I was in control of myself again. I looked up and saw Makoto ducking back into cover after killing the leader with a second shot. I was just standing there when Liz fired for the last time, killing the final alien in the base.

I slumped down, scared out of my mind. I had just about killed Phillips and there would have been nothing I could do to stop it. How could we fight that? The chatter on the radio seemed distance. Why me? Was I more vulnerable than others? I was shaken to the core, I’d never doubted myself before. Finally I started paying attention to the comm channel.

“We will need to study the new Sectoid as soon as possible.” Dr. Vahlen said.
“I believe that we can expect an increase in attacks not, Commander. There is no way that losing this base was part of the alien’s plans.” Dr. Shen was saying to me.

“Right, Doc. Ok, bring in the team. We need to see if we can help those we found and we need to see if any of this tech is useful.”

Back at the Command Room, Bradford was walking around congratulating everyone. “What’s wrong, Dr. Vahlen?”

“Isn’t it a bit premature to start celebrating?”

“We just took out their base and killed the leader. I’d call that a win, Doctor?”

She just turned and walked away.

Later in her office, “There was nothing I could do, Doctor. It controlled me and I’m sure got into Anne’s head as well.” I said.

“We will definitely look into this, Commander. I am hoping that we discover something when we examine the Sectoid. I’m glad you’re here, Commander. I think you agree with me that this is not the end.” She paused and looked at me and I nodded. “I believe that alien artifact you brought back is a communication device and if that was the leader…then who was he talking to? No, I don’t think this is over at all.”

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Jonzac



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PostPosted: Sat, 12. Dec 15, 09:21    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

A day later I was looking at the reports Dr. Vahlen’s team delivered to me. The death tank, now called a Cyberdisk is apparently a silicon based life form and not strictly a robot. I’m not sure what to think about that. We have seen such a wide array of alien lifeforms, why are they working together? The drones we’ve seen are mostly repair bots for the mechanical units in the alien army, but the most interesting report was on the Sectoid Commander.

The brain of the commander is larger and denser and internally it was very different from a regular Sectoid. The commander’s brain had denser neuron connectors allowing for over three times the processing power, which explains their psychic abilities. More importantly, Dr. Vahlen believes that we can duplicate this ability in certain humans. We will need to build some specialized facilities, but we could be able to meet the aliens with their own superpower. After reading the report, I looked at the funding and decided to sell a great deal of the equipment we took from the base. The more tech we spread out the less the XCOM project became a single point of failure. The extra money allowed me to start the construction of the psionic lab, which should be done the same time as the new, improved satellite uplink facility. I already had satellites ready to launch.

Life and my raw emotions over Matt’s death started to settle down during the next week with alien activity at a standstill after the loss of their base. I’m sure they will be formulating a response, but what could it be. They’ve not responded with overwhelming force, except the bombing runs they made last month. They would have to respond to the base attack, so I had the troops running through the shooting house to keep sharp and train some of the new rookies I had brought in.

“Sir, Priority 1 transmission from the Council.” Bradford said poking his head into my office. I looked up and nodded that I would be on my way.

My situation with Bradford had finally settled down into a comfortable working relationship. After our last big blowup I decided to do some digging. I had hated Bradford based on a story that had been told among the teams for the last decade. Told by people I trusted, so I had no reason to believe that it wasn’t true. That Bradford hadn’t left his team to die and disappear for over seven years. We knew he was alive after we recovered the rest of the team’s bodies. SOCOM even had radio traffic that showed he panicked and ran letting everyone else die. Turns out, like everything associated with XCOM, there was more to the story. Bradford’s team had been caught in an ambush and the team shot to hell, but their comm to SOCOM was jammed. Unknown to anyone else, XCOM already had a small team of people in the same area chasing down a lead on an alien artifact when they heard the frantic calls and gunshots. They turned and moved toward the battle and took the terrorists from behind killing them all. Bradford had been found wounded and covering the last team member alive. The XCOM team started to help both when Tim Hartford die, leaving only Bradford. XCOM couldn’t allow anyone to know they existed, so faked comm data and took Bradford. Eventually, he stayed especially after word of his cowardice spread through the spec ops community.

Now I never told him what I found out, but it sure made putting my anger at him behind me a lot easier. Now that we aren’t fighting each other, I’ve given up a lot of daily control to him and the base has been working a lot more smoothly.

I got to the secure VTC and the council’s backlit face appeared. “Commander, we have uncovered a situation that needs your specialized talents. There is a village near St. Johns, Canada that has dropped off the communication grid. No one is answering; there was a frantic call for help then silence. Overflights by the Canadian military show small fires and damage to the buildings, but no movement. We have evidence to believe that there is alien involvement and the Canadian government has requested our assistance. We need you to send a team to investigate the issue.”

“Why are we worried about a small village? The aliens have been abducting people from much larger towns and we haven’t been called.”

“Commander, our experts suggests this is a new tactic the aliens are engaged in after your successful attack on their base.”

“Well, it would be nice if your ‘experts’ were here and talked to us, but alright, we’ve had some down time so I’ll send out a team. XCOM out.”

Turning to Bradford, “What do you think?”

“Oh, we’ll need to go, if only to keep the funding stream coming. I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Sam. The council would ask for a team to inspect a small village unless they knew something.”

“Well damnit, why not tell us then? Ah, screw it. Send it Liz, Makoto, Anne, Ahmed, Josette and Dan Phillips. If the council is that worried, we’ll send in the A Team.”

The team landed at night and part of me always wondered how we managed to get there to fight nightmares at nighttime. The satellite recon showed a very small village with about six small docks, an admin building, fish processing plant and a few sheds. The actual houses were farther away from the smell of the processing plant. Fortunately, it was summer and not -40 degrees like it happens in the winter.

The team stepped off the ramp with the water to their left and the admin building directly in front of them. Makoto started clearing the admin building with Ahmed, while Phillips, Josette and Anne started to the right to clear the smaller outbuilding and Liz kept overwatch on the docks area.

“Oh, shit. Contact in the main admin building. Zombie.” Makoto called out over the comm. He had just opened the door to the main one-room office building and spotted a zombie.

“Zombies, mean Chyrssalids team. Keep your heads on a swivel.” Bradford cut over the comm.

“Firing,” Makoto said hitting the zombie. Ahmed moved to other side of the door frame and hit the zombie as well, burning a hole in its chest, killing it.
“Another zombie coming your way Mr. Clean,” Josette called out to Makoto. She had spotted a zombie that had sprung up and crashed through the window on the right side of the admin building and headed for Ahmed.

“Roger,” Ahmed and Makoto both fired again killing the zombie after it had taken just a few steps into the building. They reloaded and Liz joined them moving through the admin building to take up overwatch positions on the north wall, looking through windows. The rest of the team finished clearing the small shed and the whole team moved north through a few open stands.

“Oh God,” Phillips said as he just finished moving to a position in the middle of the stands. “Three Chyrssalids!” They immediately turned and charged at him. The team was still in the middle of moving to new firing position and was completely out of position, and no one had overwatch on Phillips. The three surrounded Phillips and tore him into two large messy, chunks of flesh. Anne was already getting her rocket ready and when Phillps was killed, it cleared the area of friendlies. She fired and killed two of the nasties and Makoto, who had finally moved to a spot he could see them, took out the third.

“Damn,” I said. “Does it seem like every soldier we have genetically modified attract the aliens, Bradford?”

“It seems like it, Sam. Maybe we should look into the Mech suits Dr. Shen keeps harping on.”

Moving forward a little bit when, Ahmed called in, “Sam, do you see that big shark strung up on the crane there? Does it look weird?”

I had his suit camera dial up the zoom and the shark was writhing in a way I’ve never seen.

“Contact,” Liz called out. “Zombie on the dock below.” She started firing away at it, when Ahmed gave a started yell.

“Allah help me, a Chyrssalid just burst out of that shark!” He fired hitting it and Anne finished it off at the same time Liz killed the zombie.

“Commander, there is no way that shark is big enough to hold enough Chyrssalids to overrun the village. We need to find out the site of the infestation. I’ve sent the feed to Dr. Vahlen for her analysis of the situation.” Bradford had started moving to ensure the data collected was being stored here at XCOM.

The team moved forward to the processing plant and spotted a much larger ship that had apparently crashed into the docks.

“That ship definitely seems to be where this started,” Bradford said and watched as Josette crossed over the dock where the bow of the ship had crashed. She quietly moved across the main deck and a gasp let us know she had found something. We brought up the camera and saw a giant blue whale in the hold that was disgustingly oozing yellow alien fluid.

“Commander, there is no way I have the firepower to stop all of that.” Liz said over the comm.

“I agree, we have the Canadian airforce lifting off now to airstrike that location. We need you to activate the ships locator beacon for the weapons to home in on.” I said, “Then get the hell out before they land.”

“Roger, that. Josette, you’re there. Be very quiet and activate the beacon. The rest of us, get into overwatch positions and prepare to cover her.” Liz ordered.

Josette moved from the bow to the bridge on the port side of the ship, when a Chyrssalid jumped up onto the deck behind her. She started sprinting to the bridge and had just rounded the corner when the Chyrssalid caught up to her and then inexplicably turned around and headed back down the port side of the ship.

“Oh thank, God.” She whispered and then activated the beacon. “Extracting now.” The beacon must have resonated with the hive as three more Chyrssalids emerged from the whale and started toward Josette. She started running down the starboard side of the ship toward the team.

Unfortunately, for her the team is distracted when the larger grouper they were standing by exploded and a Chyrssalid jumped out. The team all fired and killed the immediate threat to them, which allowed the two Chyrssalids to catch up to Josette and hurt her badly.

I was straining forward in my seat trying to give Josette extra speed as she jumped down and sprinted on the lower dock toward the rest of the team. The Chyrssalid that had turned away from Josette initially showed up on the main deck and the team all fired at that one, killing it. The two Chyrssalids jumped up and over the fire that Josette was forced to run around and killed her which another blow each.

“Go, go, go.” Liz screamed. Now that Josette was dead there was no reason to stay. The entire team turned and sprinted toward the Skyranger. Makoto and Anne were in the lead with Liz and then Ahmed. The Chyrssalids that had killed Josette jumped up and started chasing and another two appeared from on the boats on the dock and angled to cut the team off.

“Allah Akbar!” Ahmed shouted as he turned and fired at one of the XRays coming from the boats, wounding it and drawing all the XRays to him. He fired again wounding another before he was overwhelmed and his screams abruptly stopped…at least until the groaning of the zombie that was Ahmed go up and moved toward the Skyranger half a minute later.

The rest of the team scrambled toward the open ramp and Makoto and Anne hit the ramp. “Lift off, lift off now!” Makoto screamed. He and Anne both reached down and Makoto grabbed Liz’s hand. “I have you,” he said when her eyes opened wide and she grunted. Her hand went slack and she slipped from his grasp as her body and the three Chyrssalids with their claws in her fell back to earth. “Noooooooooo!” Makoto wailed as Anne stood on the ramp shooting her heavy weapons at the cluster of aliens around Liz’s body.

“Voodoo one inbound, splash in 10 seconds!” The Canadian flight leader called out and the Skyranger sped away as the ground disappeared in blooms of fire and death.

I hunched over the console as the view from Makoto’s camera was shut off. “Strike completed, Sam.” Bradford said as he stood beside me. He put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed, then turned to the Control Room. “Alright people, let’s get the intel down to the labs and prepare a brief for me to send to the council.”

I stood and made my way back to the office. Another gone, she had been soon close. Makoto was the only original left. I thought of Makoto and how he was going to feel, of course, knowing him it would not show on his face and I would not dishonor him by acknowledging his pain. That wouldn’t stop me from mourning in my own office by myself.

The team had returned and Makoto and I had studiously been giving each other space. I attended more research lectures, where the good doctors had developed a much heavier armor. They are calling it Titan armor, as well as, modifying the current Carapace armor with a grappling hook. Another Exalt cell had been spotted in the UK and I had to send an untrained rookie, Donna Stener undercover.

Finally, Dr. Vahlen called me down to show me the completed psionics lab.
“Commander, I believe that we have reached a major milestone in our fight against the aliens. We will now need several volunteers.”

“No we won’t, Doctor. I’m not sending anyone through this procedure until I am sure it’s safe. The only way to do that is for me to go through it first.” I said.

“But, Commander. I’m not sure that is the wisest course.”

I waved her down and interrupted, “It’s not up for discussion, Doctor. I will start the treatments and Bradford will be in control until it is completed. Ten days you estimate, correct?” She nodded, “Ok, let’s get started. Bradford already knows.”

I awoke days later apparently to the klaxon of the base sounding like the shrieking banshees of old. Bradford’s voice came over the intercom, “Now hear this. We are under attack, multiple hostiles attacking Delta section of the base. Power is down and you will not be able to reinforce Delta section until Dr. Shen can reroute power.”

I moved to the comm unit and brought up the camera feed for Delta and the comm link. I didn’t try to take over, Bradford was already issuing orders and I had no idea what the status of XCOM was right now. It was six days into the treatment and I didn’t feel all that great right now, very fuzzy. I called up the last week’s event log and saw that we had responded to the shoot down of a large scout that had two Sectoid Commanders, and seven Mutons. That was followed by an incursion in France where the team ended up fighting a Mechtoid, Cyberdisk, two Mutons, and two Seekers. Those battles were followed by the extraction of our undercover agent in the UK. There were not problems and only Anne had some armor damage. Makoto had led all of them in the new Titan armor he and Anne were wearing made a big difference and they had managed to keep the newbies alive through all of that. I noticed an alert for me that I opened up notifying me that Russia had pulled itself from XCOM after we did not go to Novgorod’s aid during another large bombardment. Bradford had made the call as the teams were worn out from the previous three engagements.

Looking back at the screen, I scrambled to focus on the information. I saw Makoto, a new team member, Adele ‘Cobra’ Richards, Anne and two members of the security team Jeff Gibson and Diana Young. The team spread to the edges of the command room with the giant hologram of the Earth as Bradford called that contacts from the vents in the ceiling were inbound. I watched as a Chyrssalid and Mechtoid dropped right in the middle of the room and two Sectoids landed on the catwalk above where the two security guards were. Another Mechtoid was seen dropping into the mech room to the east of the command room.

Makoto, Anne and Diana Young shot and killed the Chyrssalid and Mechtoid in the middle of the room. They used rockets and grenades, but Makoto finished off the Mechtoid with an accurate shot of plasma is it reeled from all the explosive damage.

Finally, a Sectoid commander arrives at the West guard shack and attempts to mind control ‘Cobra’ and fails. She turned and sprinted into the guard shack and put a full round of laser fire into the commander, which wounds it very badly. Jeff Gibson jumped down after killing a Sectoid on the walkway and with his M4 almost touching the commander put three rounds through its head, killing it. Diana Young followed her success against the Chyrssalid with an accurate burst of fire that killed the second Sectoid.

Bradford had managed to cycle the power to the door that allowed Kim Burns and two more security guards into the area. Unfortunately, the second Mechtoid crashed the wall into the room they were at. The two guards, Roberts and Lopez took cover behind a table and fired, pinging a few shots off of its armor. Kim ducked behind a wall and hit it with bullets from her SAW. The Mechtoid fired twice, killing both Roberts and Lopez with successive shots. Kim retreated farther around the corner, but the Mechtoid winged her before she could get away. Meanwhile Makoto and Anne moved toward her and cover where the Mechtoid should appear. He bursts through the door and both Anne and Makoto hit him knocking it out.

During the fight against the Mechtoid, Makoto, Anne and Kim, missed the call that additional forces had dropped in the mech room. Cobra and Jeff heard the call that air units were on their way to the guard shack and Cobra skeeted a Floater out of the sky before it breached the guard shack.
The contacts in the mech room turned out to be Chyrssalids that moved right at Anne and Makoto, in addition to a Muton that had dropped into the corner of the command room. Kim reached for her rocket in desperation and tried to keep the shell pattern hitting the Muton and Chyrssalids, but she jerked in response to the Muton firing and missing her, which caused her rocket to land very near Makoto and Anne. They took severe damage, but their new Titan armor was up to the task. The explosion weakened the two Chyrssalids, so they were easily dispatched. The Muton moved forward to flank Makoto, was hit by Kim and after hitting Makoto with a few shots, Makoto responded with plasma of his own killing the Muton.

There was no help from the other side of the control room as a Floater entered first and was hit by Jeff Gibson. A disk floated through a window, transformed and hit Cobra with fire. The wounded Floater jetted away from Gordon and a disk floated in. Gibson immediately sprinted away from the disk and followed the Floater and putting it down with another burst. After getting hit ‘Cobra’ hightailed it out of the guardshack and the disk followed her. Anne was done with her battle at that time and Anne used her second rocket to stop its advance, which allows the others in the room to hit it in a cross fire and kill it. The second Cyberdisk floated back out of the room and hit Gibson, wounding him badly. He sprinted out of the shack to take cover and stop the bleeding.

Bradford called out no more contacts in the command room, so I wondered what happened to the second Cyberdisk. Well apparently, Cobra didn’t believe him either so she stayed in overwatch of the guardshack door. Meanwhile, Bradford called out four more contacts in the mech room. Makoto shift to the East wall and spots four Mutons in the room and hits one, but doesn’t kill it. Anne follows Makoto and spots a second Muton and kills it with a well-aimed burst. The wounded Muton tries to rund and Makoto’s second shot takes it down. Kim had moved back into the room where Roberts and Lopez had been killed and spots a third Muton. She fires a shredder rocket, wounding it and removing the cover it had been hiding behind. That allowed a security guard, Sarah Martinez who had been hiding on the catwalk in the mech room to pop up and kill it with a M4 burst.

Concurrently, the second disk that Bradford had lost track of showed up and missed its shot at Cobra. She sprinted right next to the disk behind a column and hit it with a devastating shot, Anne sprinted back at the call on the comm link and she connected with every bolt from her heavy laser cannon. The Cyberdisk was struggling to remain stable and smoke was bellowing from several rents in its skin when Gibson tossed a grenade which knocked the Cyberdisk out. I then watched the disk hit the ground and explode sending shrapnel into ‘Cobra’ wounding her lightly.

Bradford had just gotten the door open and Erin came through which was fortunate as Bradford called more contacts in the Eastern forward access. A Chyrssalid charged through the hallway that connected the mech and command rooms which allowed Erin and Makoto to skewer it with plasma fire bringing it down. A second Chyrssalid charged through and Anne hit it with grazing laser fire and then killed it with a more concentrated burst.
Bradford announced another wave of aliens coming through the East access. Cobra charged into the mech room to prepare an ambush when the last of the Mutons that everyone had forgotten about, turned and shot her in the back, killing her instantly. Guard Martinez then dropped a grenade over the railing and on the Muton, she then pulled a second grenade which infuriated it. The alien stepped back and hit Martinez with green fire, but did not kill her. She screamed and leaned over the rail and put three 5.56 rounds through its face.

“Last of the power, Makoto.” Bradford said and I watched at Kathleen O’Dohtery, our new sniper apparently, came through with another security guard. The team had formed a skirmish line at the border between the mech and command room, waiting. Suddenly, Martinez started shouting, “Get out of my head.” She turned toward Kathleen who was forced to kill her after the Sectoid commander just showed up.

The team watched as a Mechtoid, Cyberdisk and a second Sectoid commander moved into the mech room. The second commander mindlinked to shield the Mechtoid, Kim lined him up in her sights and despite the distance hit it with two controlled bursts killing it and wounding the Mechtoid in the mental feedback. The Cyberdisk floated through and with one shot killed the guard that came through with Kathleen. She responded with an accurate shot from her laser power sniper rifle and Anne caught and killed the disk with an accurate burst.

Makoto took a shot at the Mechtoid and hit it before it disappeared from everyone’s line of sight in the lower section of the mech room. Anne spotted the second commander initiate a mind link with the Mechtoid. She propped her automate laser heavy weapon on the ledge of the window she was by and sighted down the length of the barrel. Her well placed burst took the commander high in the shoulder and head killing it. The team heard the Mechtoid squeal and then it charged into the open right into Makoto’s sights, who quickly dispatch it with one burst of plasma.

Bradford was giving the all clear when I started to collapse and I could feel several orderlies find me and catch me before I fell.

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