In a matter of days, Earth's top scientists discover that the damage of the alien wars is not yet done. As was the case after the first war, much of Earth is in ruins. However, this time more insidious damage has been dealt. The explosion of the alien colony ship T'Leth in the Gulf of Mexico has released vast quantities of hazardous materials and toxic gas. Within hours of the explosion dying away, hundreds of thousands have already died, and millions more across the globe suffer some form of toxic infection. The Gulf Coast is entirely evacuated as cleanup begins.
In addition to this, the explosion of T'Leth increases the rate of global warming. World agricultural output suffers, and coupled with the world-wide overpopulation problem, serious starvation and famine are added to the problems of the weeping Earth.
It was hoped that the new alien substance, Zrbite, might revive the failed interstellar travel program. However, these hopes are dashed as it is discovered that across the entire globe, every single piece of Zrbite has become inert, it's reactive properties lost. It is rumoured that this is linked to the destruction of the alien molecular control network that encompassed the world. The revived X-COM, fearing what may become of them as it did before, steps up its own research efforts. Despite initial successes, many scientists abandon the organisation, seeking higher salaries offered by private corporations. Once again, X-COM funding is cut.
Representatives of X-COM's main funding bodies meet to discuss the future of the organisation. It is recognised that the alien threat may not yet be entirely gone, and that X-COM should maintain operative status, but private financial interests are the order of the day and X-COM barely receives the funding it requires to keep it alive. In despair, F. Denman Williams again agrees to fund X-COM from his own reserves. In an attempt to boost income, X-COM adopts a corporate outlook. Planning ahead, Williams includes a clause in the organisation's business strategy that decrees that in the case of world-wide emergency, the government may again take control of X-COM.
X-COM engineers, possibly the finest in the world, use their experiences with alien technology to begin to produce advanced weaponry that is sold to the highest bidder. X-COM veterans are hired for peacetime operations as mercenaries. These two activities ensure a constant supply of finance for the organisation, and X-COM becomes one of the world's most successful corporations
In contrast with this, sociological, economical and ecological problems in the world reach their zenith. To more effectively share resources, consolidation again occurs as merger nations appear. The first and largest is made up of the United States of America, Canada, the People's Republic of Alaska, and the New Mexico Co-operative, becoming known as the North American Alliance. The NAA establishes a new ruling body headed by the "Premier-President", possibly the most powerful official in the world. Alexandra Scott is elected as the first Premier-President and serves three two-year terms of office.
Come mid-2052, full access to X-COM's UFOpedia databank is allowed to Transtellar Corporation for research purposes. Transtellar plan to develop a practical means of interplanetary space travel independent of alien technology.
Ecologists predict that Earth will be run dry of most natural resources within the next two decades. As a result, Transtellars efforts are recognised as, quite possibly, mankind's last hope for survival. Supporting Transtellar, many of the world's largest corporations begin research into similar fields, risking their own futures for mankind's overall.
On New Years Day, 2054, the Mark I Conversion Drive is revealed by Transtellar. The ion propulsion system generates power through helium-carbon fusion - the key of which is a fusion reaction containment chamber with a shell composed of inert, and almost indestructible, Zrbite. Transtellar almost immediately are showered with money, and are officially appointed with exclusive rights to operate all Earth-based spaceports until the turn of the century. The Mark I goes into mass production, and the first generation of colony ships are prepared. Within a year, several lunar colonies are established.
Freighters carrying ores from the lunar mining colonies arrive on Earth. This helps alleviate Earth's problems with shortages of raw materials, but still more is required. In June, Solmine Corporation begins work on a major spaceport and shipyard facility. Within six months, the first three Solmine vessels depart in search of mining prospects in the asteroid belt beyond Mars.
Solmine lease out space in the shipyards on Tranquillity Colony to Transtellar, who begin construction of a series of military transport vessels. With state-of-the-art equipment and weaponry, the new 'Patton'-class military transport is ready to serve in military and civilian roles for the next two decades.
X-COM's profits soar as governments the world over negotiate exclusive weapons, equipment and manpower deals. X-COM establishes its first offworld base on the third lunar colony. An X-COM mercenary team is maintained on-site to provide security for existing and future lunar colonies.
A group known as the Kabron Pirates discreetly begin sporadic raids on freighters running between Earth and Luna.For the most part, they utilise antiquated X-COM Avengers, with conventional drives that do not rely on elerium-115. The pirates are informed enough to know which freighters are hauling precious metals, and focus their attacks on these. Based upon this, and also the fact that no stolen materials reappear on the black market, X-COM believes that the Kabron pirates are in the pay of one of Earth's mega-corporations.
In 2057, one Harvey Wayne replaces Scott as the Premier-President of the NAA, going on to serve three consecutive two-year terms, the maximum permitted. One month later, in February, the first of Transtellar's military spacecraft, the UGS Patton, is commissioned at Tranquillity Base on Lunar. X-COM snaps up the vessel, and is immediately sent on patrol duties in pirate-troubled areas. Within two years, there are eight such vessels in active service, and pirate activity has greatly slackened off.
The fleet of mining craft despatched from Tranquillity base several years before has by now established three mining colonies in the mineral-rich asteroid belts. Unfortunately, the vast distances between the belt and Earth mean a 10-month round journey for the freighters, even with the latest Mark III drive from Transtellar.
Unmanned probes are despatched to Mars to seek out potential mineral-rich sites. However, much of the vast surface area of the planet remains unscanned. In the October of 2061, the probes send back reports of what might be a vast elerium stockpile some distance from Cydonia. Plans are immediately formulated to send a manned expedition to Mars.
The UGS Patton is withdrawn from her patrol duties. It is intended that she provide transport and protection for the Mars expedition, and as a result is stripped of weaponry. Delicate sensor arrays and more scientific equipment replace it. She is manned with scores of top scientists and engineers, with only a tiny complement of X-COM mercenaries remaining to pilot the vessel and fulfil other mundane tasks. On April 23rd, she departs.
Four months later, the vessel reaches Mars. A stable orbit is achieved and detailed scans of the surface are initiated. To test and calibrate the equipment, they begin by scanning the Cydonia base with their new hyperwave pulse sensors. Shortly after the scans, sensors show a tremendous power surge from the base. On Earth, technicians are shocked as contact is lost. Three days later, with still no communication, a high-speed probe is launched. After a three month journey, the probe relays reports back to Earth - there is no sign whatsoever of the missing vessel.
The probe's sensor arrays turn to Mars itself, and evidence of a vast explosion over the Cydonia base leads Earth to believe that the Patton's drive systems must have failed and she crashed. The board of inquiry responsible for this decision rapidly close the case.
|Rights Holder:||Take-Two Interactive|