This article is an introduction to the Reticulans, the alien race that was the primary adversary in UFO: Aftermath. It is intended to serve as background information for anybody who is interested in UFO: Aftershock but has yet to play UFO: Aftermath.

This article contains spoilers to UFO: Aftermath throughout, but I expect UFO: Aftershock will as well.

The Reticulan People

The main enemies in UFO: Aftermath are members of a renegade faction of an alien race called the Reticulans, and better known to enthusiasts of the paranormal and sci-fi as the Greys.

The Reticulan homeworld is located in the binary system of Zeta Reticulum, a pair of remarkably Sun like stars 40 light years away. Their homeworld is similar to Earth except that it has a lower gravitational pull and a greater oxygen content. Life there has a very similar biochemistry to Earth, and the in-game glossary goes as far as to suggest that life on our two worlds has a common origin.

Earth is very uncomfortable for the Reticulans because of the high gravity and low oxygen content. They can only survive here at all by using special environmental suits that double as combat armour. These suits are responsible for the distinctly reddish-brown colour of the Reticulans.

Although the Reticulans are vertebrates, they reproduce by parthenogenesis, a word derived from Latin and meaning virgin creation. During the course of her lifetime, a Reticulan ‘queen’ gives birth to large numbers of males that were developed from unfertilised ova. It is not known whether the few Reticulan females are reproduced in the same manner. Parthenogenesis does not necessarily mean genetic cloning – on Earth some species of social bee use this method to produce male drones which grow up to become genetically distinct from each other and their mother through a process not yet fully understood.

Reticulan society is highly regimented with limited room for individuality, almost like an insect hive. An individual who is willing to make personal sacrifices, including laying down his life for the good of the group is regarded as being highly virtuous. As the overwhelming majority of Reticulans are male, the females are highly regarded and well protected against danger. If the Reticulans have a religion, it almost certainly centres on the worship of a mother-goddess.

The Reticulans are known to have a limited psionic ability, although what they do with this power is uncertain. It may be useful for communication, although they have a complex written and oral language anyway. Reticulans are unable to use their psionic abilities in combat without the use of devices such as psi stingers and psi projectors. It is likely that this psionic ability was a factor in the development of the hive-like Reticulan society as personal space would be an illusion in such a society.

Despite their biology and regimented society, individual Reticulans have their own names and personalities. They are also capable of appreciating art and music; human art has become quite fashionable among their people.

Reticulan technology is almost entirely based on biotechnology. Tools, weapons and armour are grown from genetically modified organisms and not manufactured. Even their ships are organically grown around a Reticulan pilot who ends up mentally linked to the ship for life. The symbiotic relationship between ship and pilot is so close that neither can survive without the other. This is probably why refitting the captured Reticulan battleship in preparation for the lunar mission takes so long.

The Reticulans are known to have been spacefaring for several thousand years, which makes them as youthful as humanity in comparison with the age of the galaxy. They do not have a practical means of faster than light travel. Instead they use a network of Qports, which seem to be large space based facilities that act as an anchor for a rift between two solar systems.

The Dreamland Project

The first confirmed contact between Earth and the Reticulans was the 1947 Roswell incident. It is not known when they first became interested in humanity. Several popular authors have claimed that extraterrestrials have interfered in human evolution and history, particularly the building of Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, however there is no suggestion of this in UFO: Aftermath.

Shortly after the Roswell incident, the Reticulan government made unofficial contact with the leading national governments of Earth. Under the Dreamland project, several top secret bases were set up to act as a focal point for contact between the national governments and the Reticulans. The two known bases are Area-51 in the USA and Kasputin Yar in Russia, although there are probably others.

This unofficial relationship between humanity and the Reticulans was mutually beneficial and trade began to flourish. We got access to some of their technology, and they got access to our art. Although works of art were Earth’s main export commodity, it isn’t known if the Reticulans acquired original works or copies.

It is not clear how accounts of alien abductions fit into the UFO: Aftermath universe. The Reticulan renegades could not have carried out widespread abductions before the invasion without their government and the governments of Earth finding out about it. Also, according to the abduction accounts, the aliens tend to go out of their way to ensure that the abductee is unharmed. In UFO: Aftermath, the interiors of renegade Reticulan ships and bases are littered with human remains and body parts, so it is unlikely that they would show much consideration for the welfare of any luckless abductee.

Cattle mutilations and crop circles probably have terrestrial origins in UFO: Aftermath, just like in real life. Cattle mutilations are the work of Satanists – the underbelly of the Neo-Paganism revival. Crop circles are the work of local farmers as either a practical joke or an art form, and they rarely appear on a wet night!

The Invasion

The beneficial relationship between humanity and the Reticulans came to an abrupt end on May 25th 2004. In the game, the renegade faction is simply referred to as the Reticulans, and the mainstream faction is referred to as the Old Greys. >From this point on, this article will do the same.

On May 25th 2004, a Reticulan ship entered Earth’s atmosphere and released millions of spores which reproduced rapidly and blocked out all light from the Sun. They ensured that the Old Greys would not be able to stop them by destroying the Qport that connected our solar system with the rest of the galaxy, and then launching conventional attacks on the Dreamland bases. On June 1st, the spores rained down and wiped out most life on the planet.

A few weeks later, the spores broke down and the few people who had survived in air-tight shelters emerged into the new world. The only signs of life they found were mutated zombies of some of the people and animals that died in the attack. These strange monsters, called transgenants only had one purpose to their existence – to destroy the surviving humans.

The Old Greys were ready to use military force to stop the Reticulans, but in practice there was little they could do to help humanity. Very few of their personnel on Earth had survived the invasion. Although their government despatched a fleet to stop the renegades, the fleet did not have the ability to travel faster than light. The estimated journey time from the nearest intact Qport (probably at Alpha Centauri) was twenty years.

It wasn’t until January 1st 2005 that some kind of order emerged with the creation of the Council of Earth, whose forces were spearheaded by the elite multinational force known as Phoenix Company. Although the Council of Earth forces initially only controlled a small geographical area, a series of military successes against both the transgenants and their Reticulan creators caused the Council held territory to expand rapidly, and other groups of human survivors peacefully accepted the leadership of the Council. But then evidence of the true Reticulan plans began to emerge.

Outgrowths of alien vegetation, known as the Biomass appeared and began to grow rapidly. Nothing was able to stop or even slow its growth, and any territory that became overgrown was lost to humanity. Even worse, it could cross narrow seas such as the North Sea and the straights between Australia and Indonesia.

It transpired that the Biomass was being deliberately planted by the Reticulans as part of their plans for Earth. The brutal interrogation of Reticulan prisoners of war eventually revealed the nature of their plan. They were using the Biomass to turn Earth into a giant organic computer possessing immense psionic powers that they intended to harness. The destruction of humanity was something that they regarded as a regrettably necessary evil in order to create something far greater.

Council scientists managed to find a way to stop the Biomass based on research on captured alien artefacts, prisoner interrogations, researching files recovered from the Dreamland bases (now under Reticulan occupation) by Phoenix Company, discussions with the surviving Old Greys and by studying the Biomass and the transgenants. They eventually realised that the Biomass was vulnerable to psionic weapons, so a specialist base equipped with a vast psionic emitter would repulse the Biomass over a wide area.

The Biomass repulsor bases became prime targets for direct Reticulan attacks. Most attacks were scotched either by the Council of Earth air force or by intervention of Phoenix Company on the ground. With the Biomass shrinking rapidly, the Reticulans only had one option left.

The Reticulan Offer

The Reticulans made a one time only offer to end the war and to build a giant space station to house the remnants of humanity and they were also desperate enough to offer to share control of Planetmind – the name they gave to their intended creation. The wording of their offer indicates that by this time they regarded humanity as noble savages, but it should be remembered that they waited until their plans were on the verge of collapse.

The player then has to choose whether to accept the offer or not. Accepting the offer immediately ends the game. Rejecting it (which most people do) means the player has to find the location of the Reticulan leadership and put together an expedition to wipe them out, thus ending the war.

UFO: Aftershock is based on the idea that the Council of Earth accepted the Reticulan Offer and agreed to end the war. Presumably they were not certain that they would achieve victory. Besides, even a victory would have meant that the human survivors would have had to survive on a ruined and transgenant infested Earth until the Old Greys turn up and sort everything out.

It seems that survival on Earth would have been possible as in the time of Aftershock it is inhabited by four human factions that the player will have to interact with. As the ETA of the Old Grey fleet was twenty years and Aftershock takes place fifty years after the invasion, it would appear that either the Old Greys are a bit late or that they turned up and were defeated.