X-Com: The Unknown Menace

by Hobbes

April 1st, 2001

Near the California-Nevada border, US

"Colonel, we've just dropped off the clouds and are only a few miles away from the target but there's something wrong sir". Clark's voice made Johnson turn away from facing Patterson and look towards the front end of the Skyranger. "What is it Clark?"

"Well, you won't believe this sir but the land below us just turned flat and purple". What? They were heading towards the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California where an UFO had just landed. Johnson decided that Clark was either playing some sort of prank or had completely flipped out of his mind. He then felt Patterson's hand on his shoulder twisting him on his left as the officer spun him around. "Colonel! Look"

Johnson was already seeing it through the window of the Skyranger. The entire landscape had turned into a flat dark purple although the sky was still light blue. But before he could even mutter any response the plane dropped all of a sudden, sending most of the armored troopers crashing into the metal wall that separated the cargo section from the cockpit. Johnson and Patterson found themselves completely pinned down by the mass of power armor above him. And one of the metal feet had hit the Major's head, tearing a bloody gash on the side of his head. "Colonel, we lost all engine power sir! I'm trying to glide her down"

As the vibrations inside the Skyranger lowered a bit the troopers started to untangle themselves. But as Johnson grasped for air afterwards, he felt his lungs burning. All around him soldiers started coughing and Sergeant Baker from first platoon ordered quickly through a gasping voice: "There's something wrong with the air! Get your helmets locked-down"

Needing no further confirmation Johnson locked down the faceplate into position. The suit's life-support system automatically kicked in, sending the helmet with a clean mix of nitrogen and oxygen. But as he started scanning for the rest of the platoon he saw something on the edge of the faceplate that gave him concerns. In the middle of the confusion of the drop something had hit the windowed section while it rested above the helmet. It had been designed to be as tough as possible since it was the most vulnerable place on his entire armor. But it had collided with something and now couldn't properly seal. He now still had a considerable amount of oxygen but the breach would leak it out progressively, otherwise he could have lived on the suit for days.

The Skyranger jerked to the left making him worry more in getting secure in the middle of the upcoming forced landing. Grabbing one of the overhead metal rails that stood over the benches he waited for the crash.

The right landing wheel plane hit the ground at more than one hundred miles per hour on their conventional landing. The pressure exerted on the rear undercarriage proved too much and the leg snapped. A sudden shake was sent by the entire plane as the fuselage on that area hit the ground. The reaction movement sent the plane rolling over the sandy ground with the wings and remaining undercarriage being snapped away from the Skyranger.

When the plane finally stopped at an upright position, all of the troopers inside the cargo area started to get up from the ground or to unlock their safety belts. When Johnson finally got himself together he turned to Patterson and ordered. "Tell Jerrel to safe the landing area. I'm checking on Clark".

Both men moved away and he opened the door to the cockpit area. But Clark and the Seymour were still seated but their motionless heads were facing to the side of their chairs. Their skin had turned to blue, meaning that both pilots had choked to death while trying to bring down the craft safely.

Going back to the cargo area he saw that the there was only one squad remaining inside the plane. Grabbing a heavy plasma that was secured next to his seat he moved outside down the lowered ramp of the Skyranger.

As he stepped into the purple terrain he saw that it was sand, with occasional splotches of white and yellow vegetation that seemed alien to him. His soldiers had deployed in a circle around the plane to protect it from any possible hostiles in the area. There was what seemed to be some artificial construction to the left of the Skyranger, which displayed stone columns and nearly intact buildings all carved in vivid green marble. They definitely had to be somehow in an alien planet, Johnson concluded as he air leaking from his suit was actually forming bubbles that floated upwards. Apparently whatever gases were present in the atmosphere they were heavier than oxygen and nitrogen.

Crouched down behind one stone column, Rodriguez was also asking Jones that same question. The private replied. "Well, at least there are no aliens". But as he spoke, a large muscular figure appeared on the terrace of the temple and fired a plasma round at the Skyranger. Both soldiers looked at one another before they warned the rest of the platoon. "Dang! The buff green ones are out there"

It was pissing me off not being able to write about them again ;)

This story was written after using Scott T. Jones XcomUtil editor to combine both UFO and TFTD - download it at http://xcomutil.scotttjones.com/