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#12100033 Feb 24, 2016 at 02:39 PM · Edited 12 months ago
528 Posts

THE FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN BY A VERY TIRED PERSON. DO NOT EXPECT IT TO READ WELL.

Our story begins mere moments following the appearance of the Temple Ship. If this were a cinematic cutscene, then players would have noticed the first hints of divergence right after Central Officer John Bradford addresses doctors Raymond Shen and Moira Vahlen, letting them know that... "If you two have any more bright ideas, now's the time."

This simple comment kick-starts a montage set to YouTuber LittleVMills' cover of the Deus Ex: Human Revolution. We would see glimpses of the hustle and bustle taking place inside the most prominent XCOM installations across the globe, including the organization's headquarters underneath Cheyenne Mountain, which is where the aforementioned trio are stationed. These moments are ones that you, as gamers, have likely seen countless time before in both movies and video games; shots of soldiers kitting up, looking at pictures of their loved ones, and hugging and / or kissing a friend. But it's the ones that take place within the depths of the "ant farm" that is Cheyenne Mountain that might make for the most noteworthy. Following a brief segue into the base's cybernetics lab that shows a person stepping into a which then seals itself shut around them like a set of Iron Man armor, things would cut to the hangar, which is seeing the most traffic out of any other on-site "facility."

As XFS-105s launch in the background one after another, soldiers are racing to secure themselves a seat aboard one of the few remaining Skyrangers. At the center of it all though is a much larger, unidentified dropship. Suddenly there comes a shout from behind, and all foot traffic stops dead. Heads whirl around en masse to look for the source of the commotion. Once people's eyes catch sight of Annette Durand (aka The Volunteer), Anna Sing (who has been given an appropriate Asian makeover), Mattie "Alecto" Hawkins, Nubia "Megaera" Tariq and Fatima "Tisiphone" Tariq all being followed by nineteen other XCOM operatives wearing "chunkified" armor and hefting man-portable directed-energy weapons, people step back to allow them to board the large VTOL.

(...)

From here things would skip forward in time thanks to a brief transition back to the holographic geoscape that Bradford and the others are looking at. When we catch back up with the Isegrim, we see from Big Sky's point of view hundreds of shimmering lights encroaching upon the Temple Ship from practically every direction. "Central this is Big Sky, you're not going to believe this." "Oh I just might, Big Sky," replies Bradford. Things would then zoom in to the source of some of the lights. It turns out that not all of them belong to Skyrangers and Ravens, but various other craft from the council nations, like F-16s and V-22 Ospreys. (At this point, were this author feeling more "with it," he would go into detail about a conversation that Bradford has with the man leading this particular charge from one of the Ospreys -- namely U.N. General Peter Van Doorn. But he's not, so you're just going to have to make something up.)

And then the shit hits the fan. Despite what Bradford said about humanity's arsenal not being able to make a dent in the Temple Ship, that doesn't stop whoever's on board from deploying a massive swarm of Seekers to impede their progress. You've seen Independence Day, right? The aerial battle that erupts between humanity's warplanes and the aliens' technorganic monstrosities is very similar to one of the most iconic segments from that movie! But the author starts to digress. As this battle rages on, a good majority of the VTOLs manage to break through the Temple Ship's air defenses and subsequently deposit their payload of soldiers onto the surface of the gargantuan alien vessel. Several, however, are destroyed; either while in the process of touching down or during their offloading period.

What comes next is yet another massive undertaking for humanity's warriors, as their force of roughly 120 seasoned fighters (who wear everything from traditional modern day special forces gear to Titan Armor to Mechanized Exoskeletal Cybersuits) takes on the Temple Ship's crew of over 1,200! It's a segment that's very "Michael Bay" in every aspect, and it ends with the remaining humans storming the bridge and coming face to face with the Uber Ethereal and his cadre. At this point the music that started off this whole thing ends, and the audience (if there was one) is left to listen to the surreal sounds that accompany the next scene. (Please stop watching after the 47 second mark! What happens next in that video does not reflect what happens next here!)

Annette and her fellow Psi Operatives have had enough. After giving Van Doorn, Sergeant John Carlock and Private Glenn Friendly instructions to join their fellow soldiers in securing the room that they just entered from, they commit to an all-out assault on the Uber Ethereal using their vast array of Psionic abilities. (The battle is something that the author literally cannot describe. All he can tell you is that it's short and very Matrix-like, with lots of jumping and dodging while scenery explodes in super slow motion as stray Psionic attacks collide with it.)

(...)

With a scream that rattles the very foundations of the Temple Ship, Annette shatters half of the Uber Ethereal's mask with a Psionic attack identical in every way to a Kiai from Dragon Ball. Purple, bio-luminescent mist billows from the hole, which the Uber Ethereal attempts to cover with one of its four hands. The others, which attempt to project a Null Lance, are pinned down through invisible, telekinetic hands projected by the three Furies. "This is not your path!" The Uber Ethereal cries. "Not your purpose! You need our guidance to hone this power! Without us, what are you?!"

Annette exchanges a significant look with her sisters, then glares back down at the writhing creature. She says one word - "Free" - before obliterating it with another Psychokinetic Strike. And here, my players, is where things really divert from canon. The energy released with the Uber Ethereal's death is sucked into the over-sized Ethereal Device that resides at the front-most portion of the Temple Ship's bridge, but it does not stay contained there. It dances around the liquid-like core and then rebounds on Annette and the Furies in the form of writhing tendrils made of pure energy. Another such tendril attempts to embed itself in the forehead of Anna Sing, but for whatever reason she is able to fend it off with a hastily erected Telekinetic Field. Just then Van Doorn and several others arrive to investigate. "Go!" Anna screams to them before deflecting another tendril with Neural Feedback. "Get out of here, while you still can!"

Van Doorn takes one look at the other women - who all are standing stock-still, their heads thrown back, their mouths agape, their eyes glowing purple but not staring at anything - and then nods. "You heard the lady, it's time to go! All forces, this Van Doorn, we are pulling out! I repeat, we all pulling out!"

But wait, it gets worse.

"Axis has failed," says Annette and the Furies as one. "But we have determined that this species is indeed worthy of nurturing. We shall now deploy the Second Wave."

"Oh, fuck me." Van Doorn says.

Cue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXGxW7p6seQ

Alien ships, dozens of them, from Scouts to Battleships begin "phasing in" all around the Temple Ship. With the camera tracking Van Doorn as he runs pell-mell toward the evac zone, we watch as the ships orient themselves and begin opening fire upon the human craft outside. (The author advises you to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-1FjrvUH3A to get a good idea of the type of ass-kicking that our heroes receive at this juncture, before Van Doorn is able to miraculously make it aboard an Osprey and depart the scene with roughly a dozen other allied VTOLs hot on its tail.)

Back at XCOM headquarters, Bradford sinks to his knees in despair. Similarly, all pretty much everyone else can do is watch in horror as the massacre unfolds. Even the various commanders of the world's most prominent XCOM installations that Bradford is currently in a video conference with appear to be in varying states of shock. Of them, one appears to be a tad more panicked than the rest. "Central, this is Installation Kaduna! Radar is tracking multiple inbound signatures! More than we can count, headed straight for us! Please advise!"

Bradford doesn't need to spin to globe to see what the man is talking about. Installation Kaduna is the largest of the three XCOM facilities in Nigeria, which, for the aliens, was practically within walking distance of the Temple Ship. Kaduna may have had a reputation for getting lucky when it came to collecting "assets," but he knew that not even the likes of Martin Herbert and William Rizer - Kaduna's top-two fighters - could hope to lead a successful counter-counter-attack against an entire Assault Carrier's worth of invaders.

"There's no way that you boys can repel a force of that magnitude. Give the order to evacuate; get the hell out of there, Mal!"

"Sir?"

Bradford glances over at the technician, then back up at the Geoscape. He hadn't seen it before in his haste to provide orders. It's not just the installations in Nigeria that this new batch of aliens is going for, it's all of XCOM. The organization has been compromised on a global scale.

"My God. How long until they reach us?"

"Less than 30 minutes."

- - -

Players, this is where you all are when general quarters is announced.

Harold Thatcher? You're medical bay, helping oversee the recovery of several dozen wounded soldiers.

Erin Wynne, Manaia Enoka and Jacob "Dallas" Jackson? All three of you are in the mess hall.

William "Gears" Achilles and Johan "Heimdall" Ræder? Both of you are in the Foundry, working to repair the latter's Guardian-class MEC that had sustained significant damage in a battle against a Mechtoid some weeks back.

Natalie "Harrier" Hashimoto? You are on the cusp of being released from the Genetics Lab with all your shiny new Gene Mods installed.

Take note that I have very specific plans regarding when, what and how many of the enemy is going to attack, meaning that none of you have permission to make them jump the gun and show up early. Understood? Good! Welcome to the apocalypse! There is no posting order.
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#12103686 Feb 25, 2016 at 01:50 PM · Edited over 1 year ago
55 Posts
Johan flexes his hand, looking down to it as he examines the runes tattooed up the inside of his arm. Tiwaz, Uruz, Mannaz, Kaunaz, Nauthiz, Ehwaz, Jera. The honor and power of mankind will conquer hardship and bring trust and healing... More or less. He had never been very good at the runes of his heritage, but something resounded in the core of his being with them. Some not-so-distant part of him truly believed they held some kind of power, but he had never taken it seriously. He had taken comfort in them, however. Knowing the rough definition of each, and their connection to each other brought a stillness to his mind.

He shook his head of his thoughts, looking up to affectionately stroke the arm of his MEC. "Guess I'm not as invulnerable as I like to think I am. How's it looking over there, Gear-"

"This is the Central. Moments ago, this base received word that our gambit to defeat the invaders failed. A counter-attack is already in effect. We do not know the size or the disposition or the strength of the enemy forces, but all indications point to a massive assault against the entirety of our planet's defenses. Commander Malcolm Castillo's base in Nigeria has already gone dark, and even as I speak we are losing contact with others. Furthermore, we do not know the status of those that were deployed to the Temple Ship. How this has come to pass doesn't really matter now. What does matter is that we prepare to meet the oncoming enemy force head-on, and hope to delay them long enough to ensure that all non-essential personnel get to safety. This is not a drill."

"Gonna have to do!"

Raeder barely waits for the engineer to step back before climbing into his suit, the exoskeleton clamping into place around him. The runes on his own arm mirrored on his suits' arm. The metallic giant grabs a large handcannon holstered on it's leg, and loads, before a shield pops forward and out on his other arm, covering most of the MEC.

"Central, this Heimdall. Myself and Engineer Gears are down in the Foundry. I'm requesting that all hands report in with their location. Repeat, I need locations!"

Johan looks down to the engineer, and gives a grin, "Just stay behind me, Lieutenant."
Homo Homini Lupus
For More Often Than Not, We Forget to Act Human to Others
But Still, Despite Our Forgetful Nature, There is Always the Next Day
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#12108143 Feb 26, 2016 at 05:25 PM · Edited over 1 year ago
528 Posts
Back in Mission Control...

"Heimdall?" Bradford mused aloud, clearly trying to recall just who was associated with that callsign.

"Captain Johan Raeder, sir." One of the technicians replies after doing a quick scan of the base's active duty roster on his terminal. "He's one of our MEC operators."

"Right, patch me through."

Bradford slaps a fresh magazine into an SMG and sets it down on top of the console directly in front of him. When he's given the go-ahead nod by the same technician as before, he touches a finger to his earpiece.

"Raeder? This is Central. I hate to say it, but you're going to be operating half-blind for the foreseeable future. We've been forced to reallocate a majority of our power to the satellite nexus. Right now our top priority is to ensure the safety of the XCOM project, and that means staying in contact with our installations across the globe. The ones we're still hearing from, anyway."

There's a pause in the communication as a small tremor shakes the very foundations of the mountain.

"Right now your top priority should be hooking up with your squad and proceeding with them to Rally Point Alpha. I recommend sticking to shortwave burst transmissions, and setting your MEC's built-in Motion Tracker to ping your squad's sub-dermal IFF transponders. Doors and elevators are still operational, but I can't guarantee they'll remain that way for much longer. You better move, Captain. Good luck."
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#12111902 Feb 27, 2016 at 08:11 PM · Edited 1 year ago
106 Posts
Gears adjusted his hat before he moved behind the mech. The shotgun that was strapped to his right thigh was pulled into his hand and quickly checked for ammo before he stood ready to move. His SHIV flew up behind the two, hovering a little bit behind Gears as he followed the Captain.

"Lead the way, Captain." He had tapped into the coms, trying to listen through for anyone else to call in.

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

Dallas and Enoka both threw their cards down onto the table in frustration when the news broke. Without being asked to, they quickly jogged to the lockers in their rooms and equipped all of their gear. Once they were geared up, they quickly jogged back to the mess hall to receive further instructions from any officer that might be present there. They both decide to tap into the coms and try to make further sense of the situation while they wait to receive orders.
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#12112234 Feb 27, 2016 at 11:24 PM · Edited 1 year ago
528 Posts
Gears, to describe the communications situation would be like describing a traffic jam in Los Angeles or New York at rush hour in storm conditions. There have got to be tens of voices yammering away at once, either requesting orders or giving them. Lucky for you, the person you're meant to be taking orders from is already with you. Luckier still, his MEC is perfect for diverting the foot traffic that you encounter as soon as you set foot outside the Foundry. Most of it consists of groups of two armed soldiers running this way or that, but every now and then you and Heimdall are asked to make room for a group of people wearing lab coats. These people, you know, are on their way up to the base's hangar via the primary access lift. Too bad you're not going in the same direction.

- - -

Dallas, being that you and Enoka are only of Private rank, neither of you have access to the frequency being used by the higher ranking soldiers to communicate with Central. What you do tap into is a garbled mess of voices of those like you who are seeking guidance. You're just about to make your way out of the mess with several of your brothers and sisters in arms who're sick of just standing around, doing nothing, when one Sergeant Erin Wynne begins to address the room...
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#12112388 Feb 28, 2016 at 01:05 AM · Edited 1 year ago
19 Posts
Erin sat in the center of the nearly full mess hall, she was tapping her nails on the table to the beat of a French song someone in the room had decided to play until, eventually, the announcement from Central came starting with a loud ring to get everyone's attention. Silence fell on the room very quickly as everyone listened closely to what he had to say, the first line came out clearly to everyone: "This is the Central. Moments ago, this base received word that our gambit to defeat the invaders failed..."

This was almost immediately followed with groans from a few of the people, namely the more experienced ones who had been hoping this would be the end of everything the aliens had messed up, but they quickly quieted back down."

"...A counter-attack is already in effect. We do not know the size or the disposition or the strength of the enemy forces, but all indications point to a massive assault against the entirety of our planet's defenses. Commander Malcolm Castillo's base in Nigeria has already gone dark, and even as I speak we are losing contact with others. Furthermore, we do not know the status of those that were deployed to the Temple Ship. How this has come to pass doesn't really matter now. What does matter is that we prepare to meet the oncoming enemy force head-on, and hope to delay them long enough to ensure that all non-essential personnel get to safety. This is not a drill."

Erin sighed and stood up from her seat to overlook the crowd. "Alright everyone, you heard 'im. All non-essential personnel, get on out of here. That means you, scientists, engineers, a few men will escort you to where you should be, in case you forgot where to go." she looked around as all the scientists and engineers stood up at once and started out of the mess hall in the same direction, led by a guard of about fifteen soldiers, she turned to everyone left in the room "Alright, so you lot, get ready." she beckoned to the remaining people in the room before turning to a particular pair of rookies in the room "You two, with me." she dragged them out into the hallway with most of the other soldiers who had taken the time to equip themselves.

"Central, this is Wynne, everyone from the mess hall is on their way out of this place. I count about sixty soldiers heading to the barracks right now, including myself. I left a small force with the untrained, they're being led to the hangar right now." she could see the barracks now though it was still rather far away "We'll all be ready soon, how long til they get here?" she turned to see if the two were still following her, she smirked at them when she saw they were there "Get ready for the fight of your lives, rooks."
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#12112421 Feb 28, 2016 at 01:30 AM
528 Posts
"Sergeant Wynne, this is Central. Currently we are tracking twelve alien ships on an intercept course with our installations here in the United States. They should make contact with Cheyenne Mountain within 30 minutes. Once you're geared up, I want you and your squad to rendezvous with Captain Raeder up here at Rally Point Alpha. Doctors Shen and Vahlen agree that the enemy is likely to be coming in through the front door."
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#12137847 Mar 05, 2016 at 08:16 PM
329 Posts
Needless to say, the chaos that Corporal Thatcher had found himself in amongst his fellow medics was already pretty high, before the announcement came. Moving injured, holding down those who had "freak outs", medicating others through triage. After the announcement came? Of immediate and possibly fatal invasion?

Thatcher grunted as he got shoved about in the confusion, barely able to hear any orders from his superiors. So much for "order". The most he heard over the surge was about the "wounded evacc'd first". So he had to comply.
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#12186810 Mar 20, 2016 at 08:59 AM
119 Posts
Elsewhere, in the Research Division the Scientists of XCom affectionately referred to as the "Incubator," fluid was rapidly being flushed from a large, egg-shaped containment unit. Inside, Natalie Hashimoto, opened her eyes as the sedatives faded from her system. The Scientists (Or rather, the only two who remained to make sure their project got out) chattered hurriedly, repeatedly talking about an ongoing invasion and evacuation as well as the changes she'd need to be aware of.

Normally such a hurried info-dump would be easy for Hashimoto to understand and process. But even as the pod opened and she stepped out, intravenous tubing popping out of various spots on her body, she fell to her knees, taking her first non-"Jellied" breath since she agreed to undergo the modifications.

Coughing, she 'struggled' to her feet, though what felt weak actually propelled her up at a normal pace. She looked at the two scientists. "Get. . ." She wiped her mouth free of an imagined liquid. . .Though it was probably just drool. "Get me a radio."

They complied, and Harrier found herself tuning in to Command's frequency, 'limping' towards the Armory. "Central, this is Harrier. Got time for a quick sit-rep?"
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#12198983 Mar 23, 2016 at 04:54 PM · Edited over 1 year ago
528 Posts
The reply would come following a worryingly long burst of static. It was Bradford who answered, and the tone of his voice suggested that he was dangerously close to losing his cool. "Harrier, the situation is FUBAR. Kit up, rendezvous with Corporal Thatcher in medical, and head to Rally Point Alpha ASAP. You'll find the rest of your unit there waiting for you. I don't care whether or not you put your game face on, so long as you're capable of kicking ass. The Navy and Air National Guard are doing everything they can to slow the X-Ray's progress, but --" The transmission briefly returned to static as another low rumble sent tremors throughout the underground facility. "They're losing. We all are. This isn't a fight anymore, Harrier, this is a last stand. And we're going to make our best of it. Central out."
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#12206441 Mar 25, 2016 at 07:20 PM
55 Posts
The whir-thud rhythm of Raeder's footsteps... The sirens blaring... The hurried footsteps and shuffling of people... All the noise seemed to fall away from the Captain as he made his way towards the nearest IFF marker. The same words had rang through his head since their announcement, "...our gambit... failed..."

At the time he hadn't really thought about it, but now it hit him. This was it. This wasn't a defence mission. This wasn't a matter of holding the trenches. This was about a last chance. This was about making sure enough people got out that XCOM could live on, not as it is now, but in the hearts of the people. This was about the future, not the present.

So lost in his thoughts was he that he almost missed his turn, grabbing the corner with his shield hand to stop the momentum of the MEC in time. A sigh escaped, and he glanced back of the Lieutenant. Too many people depending on him to fuck up now, get your goddamned head in the game, Raeder.

Glancing down to his IFF, Raeder clicked his comm, "Sergeant Wynne, this is Captain Raeder. Hold position, we're linking up with you."
Homo Homini Lupus
For More Often Than Not, We Forget to Act Human to Others
But Still, Despite Our Forgetful Nature, There is Always the Next Day
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#12692602 Sep 08, 2016 at 04:00 PM
528 Posts
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