Posted 02 January 2019 - 03:04 AM
"You have been volunteered for this 'Extraterrestrial Combat' Unit of the UN."
The lieutenant frowned. Everyone else in the tattered remains of his company had 'volunteered' also, but at least they were somewhat more excited of the prospects. This man saw no reason to join a band of incompetent international policemen, however. The Self-Defence Forces were his home.
"With utmost respect, sir, I don't see how one more soldier will matter."
The major leaned over next to the lieutenant's ear.
"We are fully aware of your impressive loyalty to Japan and the Forces."
The officer walked behind the seated soldier.
"And that is why we have chosen you."
Patiently waiting for an explanation of that phrase, the lieutenant resumed looking at the dull white wall ahead of him.
"Kazutoshi," chirped the major, almost using the lieutenant's first name in a sarcastic fashion, "You must consider our position here. Another military force is setting up a base on Japanese soil. These are Americans--just like the US Navy, Army, Air Force, and... Marines."
The officer stepped back into the lieutenant's field of vision. Looking him straight in the eyes, the major muttered, "And we know what Americans can do."
The lieutenant bristled. For over fifty years, American soldiers had been stationed throughout Japan with predictable results. 'Yankee go home' was a surefire way to get elected to office in the wake of the worst incidents... especially after that young Okinawan girl's rape.
"The Forces--Japan--needs honorable soldiers within this 'XCOM' to serve as its eyes and ears, and if need be, hands."
The lieutenant stared at the wall ahead of him.
"Are you up to the task?"
There was no hesitation on the lieutenant's part.
"Mister Schancer, what have you done?"
The Southerner peered at the grim visage of the Japanese Councilman. A year's worth of aging had left its indelible mark on the bureaucrat, tracing wrinkles across the man's cheeks and forming bags under his eyes. The commander absentmindedly wondered how much of that disfigurement had occurred in the last week's time.
"I've given XCOM what it has lacked so far--direction. We've been on the defensive so long- "
The Councilman's impassive look silenced the soldier.
"No, you have done many things, but that is not it. You have split the Council and caused Brazil to withdraw. You have forced Commander Kalinkov to assume total control over the European Theater. You have convinced my subordinates that SDF action is necessary... necessary to halt your power-mad insanity.
"Commander Schancer, I relieve you of your command."
A long moment passed.
A thin smile surfaced on Schancer's face.
"That's not your decision to make, my friend," answered the Southerner. "What can you do now- -cut off that trickle of yen into our account? I'm sorry, but we've found far superior ways to make due. Don't let it devolve into that. Instead, why don't you up your funding?"
The Councilman glared back, somewhat puzzled.
Leaning closer to the monitor in a most conspiratorial manner, Schancer uttered, "We don't need to be foes. Do you know what less nations at the table means? Japan gets more of a say. No more bargaining with the Europeans, no more carrying their load. Why do you think I chose to stay here, in Kansai?"
"It couldn't be that you actually like the weather," caustically muttered the Councilman.
Schancer smiled. His gamble was working.
"Yes, America does have more bases... but you and I know where the best soldiers come from. Why don't we keep things the way they are for now?"
The man in the monitor grunted.
"Commander Schancer, you have chosen a very dangerous game to play. Just why, I do not know. But one misstep... Good day."
The screen blinked off.
Leaning back in his chair, Schancer breathed a sigh of relief. He doubted that the SDF would dare act against him, not after having found XCOM a useful and powerful ally in Tokyo. However, there was the chance.
The commander looked over the spec sheets for the new plasma cannon defense structures, the latest research out of Nevada Base.
A grim look on his face, he hoped it would never come to that.
The wall monitor chimed.
"Priority vidnet message for the commander," announced the PA. Schancer tapped his PDA and the monitor blinked alive.
Shriveled and ancient and now attached to a respirator, the American Councilman peered at Schancer through two bright, beady eyes.
"Excellent work, just damned excellent!" coughed the old man. "Your father would be proud."
Shrinking at the mention of his deceased parent, Schancer muttered, "Thank you, sir."
"All of us back here in the States thank you for finally having the balls to do what Tureen, what Larsen should've done a long time ago. It's high time that the US got its fair say in this shit--let's get it over with so I can die in peace."
Schancer realized what was wrong with the picture presented. The Councilman didn't have his customary cigarette.
"Now that I can assure the boys that the 'COM has got a man with half a brain running the show, I can damn well promise a three hundred percent increase in funding. Looks like you're going to need it, too, because every damn European Councilmember seems to be on the verge of calling it quits."
"Thank you again, sir."
"See you around," waved the old man. "If you're ever by Bethesda, give me a call. Damn fine nurses around here..."
Schancer touched the monitor off, feeling slightly nauseous.
"LET'S ROCK, XCOM!" screamed Hirsch.
In two bounds, the sergeant was flying up the 'Havester's' lift. Heavy plasma still steaming from the two greens he'd dispatched in the lower level of the ship, Hirsch ignored the syrupy yellow blood splattered across his armor, focusing instead on every sound, every vibration, every nuance of the alien vessel as he rose up the glowing column of light.
Reaching the upper level, he dived to one side, frantically panning around for enemies. The room was devoid of bugs, its only contents a few computer readouts, the lift, and three doors out.
"Clear!" he yelled, Squaddie Tokubetsu already halfway into the room. The Japanese rolled into a corner. Another soldier rode up the lift.
One of the rookies arrived. Aishu, a frail boy of twenty one, who shouldn't have been in the SDF, much less XCOM, scrambled out to make way for Squaddie Ika.
"Tokubetsu, Aishu, secure the reactors!" ordered Hirsch, pointing to one of the doors in the square chamber. The two soldiers rushed out.
A thick droplet of sweat flowed down the sergeant's cheek, and Hirsch wished he didn't have his helmet on. He hated fighting the greens. Unlike the greys, which made up over half of his two dozen 'confirmed kill' stripes, the greens had the annoying tendency to keep on fighting even after receiving several plasma bolts.
More like absorbing, thought Hirsch, recalling Sakurai's complaints about how the monsters could 'eat plasma and shit elerium.'
A doorway started to slide open--not the one into which Aishu and Tokubetsu had disappeared.
"DOWN!" yelled the sergeant, instinctively. He leveled his plasma at the door and opened up, the bolts pitting and scarring the alloy, clawing at its mirrored surface until finally bursting through.
The green on the other side bellowed surprise as a shot ripped through its shoulder.
Then the other door hissed open, or actually started to open.
Oldest trick in the book, grimaced Hirsch, throwing his left forearm and its heavy alloy plating before his vulnerable faceplate.
A single metallic 'clink' and the lift room was flooded with a sickening, disorienting blast. Praying that his plasma was still combat-ready, Hirsch blindly fired a burst in the direction of the entrance. Its reassuring recoil eased the sergeant's mind, and he dropped to the floor, weapon still pumping out rounds.
A green stuck his head and the tip of his plasma into the room, totally disregarding the bolts falling around him.
Ika, crouched in a far corner, lanced a laser beam through the bug's thorax. Squealing with pain, the green charged in, plasma lashing out against its assailant.
Hirsch sneered as one of his bolts caught the alien's knee, mashing it to a bloody pulp. The bug flipped on its back, the alien atmosphere of the harvester thick with smoke and misted yellow blood.
Ika groaned as the other door, the one which Hirsch had brutally defaced, flipped open and another grenade rolled in.
"Fuck," muttered the sergeant, tucking himself into a ball.
The dread explosion completely gibbed the wounded green buck, rendering its arms, hands, digits from the rest of its corpse. Ika coughed, a thick pool of crimson growing under his belly.
"Ika?" asked Hirsch.
The soldier slowly dropped his laser emitter, his body relaxing and lying still upon the welted alloy flooring.
"IKA!" screamed Hirsch, enraged. The non-mangled door collapsed inwards, providing a just proxy for the sergeant's writhing internal pain.
"One for America, one for Mom, one for apple pie," snarled Hirsch, gutting the muscular alien. Streaming blood from the three massive holes in its chest, the green stumbled into the lift room, fumbling with a grenade in one hand. It fell to the floor at Hirsch's feet, unconscious.
"And twelve for Ika, you sunuvabitch," finished the sergeant. He planted his plasma on the bug's cerebrum and opened fire.
The engine room door opened, Tokubetsu and Aishu piling in.
"Whatto happen?" asked the squaddie.
"Ika wa shinda," mumbled Hirsch.
Aishu, the rookie, staggered over to his fallen comrade. A streak of drying yellow blood ran down the kid's arm, indicating a tangle with a green engineer.
"Fuck," muttered Aishu.
Tokubetsu took up the dead man's position, covering the other two doors with his plasma rifle.
"Whatto next, sah?" asked the squaddie, not a tear on his tanned face.
Hirsch reloaded his heavy plasma, tossing a smoldering cartridge to the flooring. He glared at Aishu and Tokubetsu, as if their delay had any bearing on Ika's death.
"Let's clean out the rest of this fucking flying septic tank."
"Hai," responded the remains of his squad.
Hirsch kicked open the middle door while his mates watched the blasted one. A small passage between the lift room and the space hull was splattered with yellow blood and led to the right. The sergeant followed it around, facing a small area filled with nutrient vats. On the right was the other door back to the lift room--Tokubetsu peered out.
"Clear," sighed Hirsch, the murderous rage dimming in his ears. The two soldiers stepped into the store room, only a single door off across the rows of odd canisters.
The sergeant glanced around, catching sight of the blood trail. It led around the lift room, to the right.
"Entrance to the right, cover it," ordered the American. He stepped between a pair of vats, suddenly hearing the distinct hiss of a door opening.
"DOWN!" uttered Tokubetsu. Hirsch dove behind a frosted storage tank made of some transparent material. He hoped it was equivalent to alloy.
A plasma bolt streaked by and tore into the vat behind Hirsch. Soupy mush flooded out, wetting his armor.
Tokubetsu and Aishu opened up, but the bug kept after the sergeant. A burst of plasma shattered the other side of his cover, flash-boiling the vat's contents. Appalled, Hirsch realized that a human corpse had been floating in the tank.
A bolt slammed the transparency before his eyes, blinding him with the flash--his polarizing filters cut in moments too late. But Hirsch was already down, hugging the floor, as another three shots sailed through the space where his head had been.
The bug screamed, and the sergeant rolled to face the sound. Swinging his plasma up, Hirsch laid down a thick screen of wild shots, time enough for one of his soldiers to loose a grenade. Its blast pierced a few more vats.
Head slowly clearing, the sergeant blinked repeatedly.
"Status?" he gasped.
"OK," chimed his chorus.
A cold sensation gripped half of Hirsch's body. Fearing a psionic probe, the sergeant flung away his heavy plasma.
"Sah, why you do thatto?"
Peeking at Tokubetsu, Hirsch glanced around. He found himself lying in a pool of the nutrient bath.
"Damn," muttered the American. He retrieved his plasma.
"Mike, what's the overall status?"
"Are those reactors secure?"
"Goddamnit Henry, report that sooner! I've been holding Gamma back because I thought they'd suicide."
Hirsch grimaced. Another four soldiers would've been nice.
"We got two dead and three wounded out here. You?"
"None wounded, and one dead, sir," mumbled the sergeant. "What are the tallies?"
"Bagged ten of them outside, four in the lower-"
The sound of far-off plasma fire interrupted and someone swore in Japanese over the command channel.
"Make that five. Katoh nailed one jumping out of a second-story doorway. How about you?"
Takayasu raised a finger.
"Uh, I got four up here. Katoh, was that bug you just nailed wounded?"
"Negative," responded the Japanese sergeant. Hirsch rolled his eyes.
"Alpha, let's rock and roll."
Pointing down the corridor to the right while stationing himself at the door before him, Hirsch ordered, "Toku, Aishu, clear that."
The two cautiously advanced down the passage, checking the door at its midpoint.
"That's where he came from," reported Katoh, spotting Tokubetsu's waving.
At the far end, the soldiers stopped.
"Doa down hea, sah."
Aishu nudged the alloy plating and stepped aside, Tokubetsu covering him. The squaddie took a look inside the small room, spotting only a glowing shaft of light leading through a hole in the ceiling.
"Lift to third level, sah. Upu?"
"Yes. Hold position in the room above."
The sergeant recalled the computer recreation of this 'harvester' class of UFOs. Two lifts up, into two rooms across from each other, separated by the navigational area...
Hirsch opened his door, half expecting a hail of plasma fire. The room was silent, however, and Hirsch stepped in.
"Third level, sah. One doa," chirped Aishu in the sergeant's ear. Hirsch grunted, and leapt up the lift in his room. Arriving at his destination unassailed by greens, he scanned this room. Dull grey alloy plating, the lift, and a door. He pressed himself to the wall beside the doorway.
"On three, open your door, Tokubetsu. I'm straight across from you, so don't get too trigger happy," ordered the American.
"Yessah," replied the Japanese squaddie.
"One, two," muttered the sergeant.
A kick into the doorway activated the plating, pulling it aside. Hirsch burst through, heavy plasma seeking targets.
Two greens tinkered with the various navigational controls, probably wondering why their ship had suddenly lost all flight power. Another one applied thick, yellowish salve to another, patching the messy hole in his shoulder. Completely unaware of the three humans spilling into the room behind them, their wide-shouldered backs presented blessedly easy targets.
Aishu flung a pair of stun grenades from his hands, diving to the floor. Just as the two phosphor charges bounced off the floor, a green turned his head.
Hirsch sighted his plasma on the nearest bug and shut his eyes, firing like a madman.
The double WHOOSH of the grenades, the screaming of the scalded greens, and the roar of Tokubetsu and Hirsch's plasmas was over in a second. Three perforated aliens and one blinded, twitching live capture lay sprawled over the charred control systems of the UFO.
Reloading his plasma, Hirsch muttered, "Nothing like cheap shots to brighten your day."
Aishu nodded vigorously.
Tokubetsu stalked over to the moaning alien, stun baton in hand. The squaddie brutally jabbed the weapon's contacts into the pitiful green's crotch, discharging thousands of volts. The bug ceased its squirming.
"He not wake up foa long time," muttered the soldier.
A doorway hissed open, and Hirsch instinctively threw himself to the floor, plasma up and tracking the source of the sound. Behind him, a shocked green staggered out of a small communications room. Its beady eyes bathed in the carnage of its crew mates, the bug squealed its dismay.
A pair of bolts slammed into the creature's face, obliterating its pinkish skin and blowing the contents of its skull in all directions.
Hirsch stood up, peeked into the comm room, and kicked the navigator's corpse. The soldier rubbed his shoulder.
"UFO clear, sir," he announced into his tacradio.
My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube
Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!