TFTD Fan Fiction


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#21 uriaheep

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:22 AM

"Major, could you tell me exactly why you, a UN soldier have been drafted in for this press conference?"  The woman was from 'The New Guardian", a UK based newspaper, he knew that he had seen her before and he also knew she did her job well.

      "I'm part of a small task force to investigate specific ship disappearances." He didn't really know what to say, the hand written notes he had been given just before the conference began said very little apart from 'Tell them nothing'.  That was damn difficult to do.  It was their job to find the truth.  It was now Ferreau's job to keep it from them. Another reporter put up his hand and asked.

        "Is there any truth in reports that X-Com has been reformed and the ship disappearances are due to alien attacks?" Ferreau smiled. He spoke in excellent English with only the faintest French hint of accent.
        "My job is not to speculate, my team has only just begun to examine their brief, we have a response team working at one of the sites but until their work is finished we will not know why so many ships have gone missing."  Ferreau was bursting inside, he knew damn well that if X-Com had made him active there must have been contact, indeed now that X-Com were active there was no doubt, aliens must be here once more.

         "So are you saying that you are now working for X-Com or not?" insisted the man. Ferreau shook his head.
         "My orders come from the UN, I know nothing about X-Com at this time." That was true, he smiled inside as he thought about the disturbing lack of information he had.

         "Yes, the young lady in the green." Ferreau pointed to an attractive reporter wearing spectacles.
         "Major Ferreau, in the past you have been brought into important hot-spots around the world, many of the situations that we have seen you in the past have been highly sensitive. Why has the UN brought you in on such a seemingly routine operation as this?" This angered Ferreau a little.

         "Madam," he began with an English inflection rather than the French. "Missing and sunken ships where hundreds of lives and millions of Euros are lost at sea may seem routine to you but be assured that the UN take a very dim view of it. Consider if it were terrorist action, would you be sitting safe at home knowing we were doing nothing to prevent this?"

Again he smiled inside at the clever rebuke.  He was getting into his stride now, he felt like himself again, working well under pressure but he once again saw the troublesome reporter from The New Guardian. He looked around but she was the only one with her hand up.
          "Yes?" he asked reluctantly.  He knew she always saved a bombshell for the end.
          "Can you explain the recent activity off the west coast of Cornwall or the flurry of craft that were at...." there was a pause as she looked down at her notes.  Ferreau knew her well and he also knew she didn't need notes - this was for effect. ".... the site of the sunken Hyperion?"

Where the hell did she get her information?  Ferreau wished they worked for him.
          "As to specifics Miss Carter I can reveal nothing until our findings are complete but I assure you that there is activity in many other places than you mention, all reports of loss are being investigated." He turned to look for other questions but she continued.

          "Then can you tell me why a certain deep sea salvage operation is expanding exponentially?" This was the bombshell. Ferreau knew from experience that she had deliberately left out reference to SORESO to give him indication that she knew much and would say more unless he gave her some kind of 'snippet'. Snippets were impossible to divulge but Ferreau knew how to handle her.  After the conference he would meet her, give her a cocktail of lies and information that was about to be announced to keep her happy.  Unfortunately this time he had no information. All he could do was bluff.  In fact he decided to out Poker her at her own game.

          "Ahh. you mean SORESO." Ferreau watched her deflate as he admitted the name. "That I can explain.  SORESO has a great deal of specialist equipment and some of the best divers in the world. They are loaning their equipment and expertise to the UN."  Of course there was a risk that if any of the other reporters had done their homework they may see the connection but it was doubtful, anyway it got him off the hook for the moment.
"Any other questions?" asked Ferreau.


Milne was back in a corner of the workshops putting some extra parts on what was fast becoming Bubbles once more.  She didn't look quite the same that was for sure.  She was now driven solely by tracks and had a multitude of colours from the various spare parts fitted to her but he was getting there.  

Two single shot harpoon rifles had been fitted, Milne knew this would be completely ineffective but it made him feel better. A few more days work and he may even be able to try her out.
           "Bubbles Two?" he said to no one in particular.
           "What?" asked Peterson.  He knew little enough about the workings of Bubbles but he and Milne were getting on famously, their humour collided at the same point. It was a droll humour which was becoming a characteristic of the whole team.

            "Sorry Dale, I was thinking aloud.  I was wondering what to call her 'cos she doesn't look like Bubbles much now."
             "Her?" laughed Peterson.  "You must have gone out with some strange women in your past."
             "Mmm, have you ever been to Glasgow? Anyway, I'd rather date Bubbles than the Commodore, Bubbles has more heart."  Peterson nodded then said.
            "So you reckon Bubbles Two then?"
             "Maybe." answered Milne.  "Maybe it should be something different."

Milne had a passing interest in Marine Biology and considered naming her after a fish but nothing seemed to sum up the unlovely lines of Bubbles.
          "What about Mermaid?" laughed Peterson. Milne smiled but the machine looked nothing like a Mermaid.
           "We could name her after the commodore and call her 'Frozen Fish'." he smiled.  Peterson burst out laughing and turned to walk down the corridor. "I'm off to tell the team."  His laughing could be heard down the corridor until Milne was left alone with Bubbles Two and a few late working techs.

Milne wasn't the sort of man to blow his own trumpet but he had been thinking of a way to bring the crippled USO back to base.  It involved inserting floatation bags inside the craft and blowing it to the surface for easier towing back to base. He questioned one of the techs about it and showed him a set of drawings that used Bubbles or a similar craft to insert the devices.
           "Well, I'll have a word with the chief in the morning if you like." said the tech. That's all Milne wanted. Just someone to try. Now he was off back to his bunk.  
          "I think - 'don't over do the alcohol'." said Milne to himself thinking what Neilsen had said. The Scottish burr had returned to his voice as it always did when he though of drink.  In his foot locker he had hidden a bottle of Lagavullin and this may be the night to open it.
LAST OF A DYING BROOD.

#22 Accounting Troll

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 08:23 AM

January 2nd

Commodore Anson knew that she would have a busy day ahead of her; there was so much chaos she had to sort out in order to turn X-Com into a functional military force.  Her first priority was to deal with the personnel on Alpha Shift in the base control centre now that they were reasonably sober.

The control centre was dominated by the holographic projector that gave a real-time view of the entire world.  Data from the sonar array was automatically fed into the projection, thus allowing it to track X-Com, alien and civilian vessels.  She would have felt a bit happier about it if F. Denman Williams had gone for a standard military Geoscape Projector and not one of the cheap knockoffs produced by the Benin State Electronics Group.  The coastlines were blocky and misshapen, with the artic looking particularly bizarre.  And she was certain that Trinidad was just off the northern coast of South America and not in the middle of the South Atlantic, despite what the Geoscape Projector was claiming.  Unfortunately, the standard military Geoscape Projector would cost over $20 million, and there were more immediate concerns, like the sonar.

“So you’re the main sonar operator then?” asked the commodore.

“Yes ma’am” said a nervous looking young man by the name of Hamish MacDonald.  It had been a relaxing job during the F. Denman Williams era as he had pretty much let them do things as they wanted.  From what he had already heard about the Iron Lady, it was unlikely that this state of affairs would continue.

“What sonar system is the base equipped with?”

“The Hitachi OQS-8.  It’s a Japanese military model.”

“Was, you mean.  About 40 years ago.  What the hell are you using a museum piece like that for?”

“I think we got it cheap when the Japanese decommissioned their Abukuma class frigates.  It’s always been good enough for us.”

“But you’ve only used it for collision avoidance.  It’s not even as powerful as the passive sonars in the Triton and Barracudas.  It certainly cannot detect an alien sub hundreds of miles away.”  She was going to have to order the pilots to mount regular standing patrols in order to increase the chance of detecting alien activity.

At least the radio equipment seemed to be up to scratch, although she did have to berate the radio operator for getting biscuit crumbs onto his keyboard.


Shortly after a snap inspection of the communal living quarters, the commodore found Leading Seaman Nielsen tinkering with a large device that was labelled ‘Prototype simbooth’.  “What’s this thing then?”

“A sort of advanced artificial reality suite, ma’am.  The Old Man was developing it for the American military to use for training purposes last decade.  Then they elected a new president who cancelled the project as part of his defence cutbacks; this prototype is the only one ever built.  We’ve been using it for training for the salvage missions.  Now I’m trying to program in some combat simulations so we’re better prepared next time we go up against the bugs.”

“Good work, but there’s something I want you to do first.  This base is supplied by civilian contractors I believe.  Cancel the lot and use vetted military contractors instead.  And I want all the locks changed.

“This afternoon, we’re getting a squad of five American special forces operatives, and I think there’s going to be a couple of other recruits as well.  Show them round the base, and point out what areas are restricted.  Tomorrow, you are going to take the Triton out so the lot of you, including the existing recruits can get in some underwater target practice with the harpoon guns.”


The commodore spent the rest of the morning examining the base in more detail and shouting the engineers into repairing Bubbles, or Frozen Fish as they were now calling it for some reason, in less time than the seven days they had estimated.  She decided to get in some contractors to expand the base facilities.  The base would need more living quarters, storage space (a refrigerator had been requisitioned from the canteen for holding the Aquatoid bodies; one of the engineers had been given a start when he went to get a cola from the refrigerator), an extra sub-pen, a wide-array sonar and some sort of alien containment facility; the design used in the last Alien War should prove sufficient.  Dr Zager had also put in a polite request for a stair lift so he could actually get into his new lab without the indignity of having to be carried up the steps by his assistants.

Unfortunately, all these necessary improvements would mean that X-Com’s budget for the month would not extend to building a new base or taking one of the other two ocean bases out of mothballs.  She wondered whether budget limitations had been a major problem for X-Com in the last war.

#23 uriaheep

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 11:32 AM

"Welcome to Base Alpha One." Smiled the commodor as she shook hands with her latest recruit.  He was dressed in a smart army uniform as a major but she deliberately held off mentioning his rank, as from X-Coms point of view he was now ranked as Ensign until she decided otherwise.  "If you come with me I will have your security checked and then I will find someone to show you to your quarters."  

He smiled back and nodded.
"Thankyou." he purred with a little more French than usual.  The commodore was impressed with his bearing and his dress, he was obviously a career soldier and it dripped from him, she was glad to have a true professional on the team but there was a side to this man she was not happy with. He seemed to see her as a woman as well as the commanding officer and she was most uncomfortable with that. She knew she could knock that out of him very soon.
His X-Com pass showed that he had full clearance at the base which irked the commodore.

"It seems....." she hesitated, she almost called him major. "Excuse me but I have to use your new rank, it seems Ensign Ferreau that your security pass has been configured incorrectly, I will keep it for the moment and have it altered before you leave."
"Of course." smiled Fereau.
"I will take you to Sergeant Neilsen who will find you quarters for your stay, we are a little cramped at the moment."
"Certainly, it must be difficult on such a small base." She did not elaborate but entered the corridor on her way to find the Sergeant.  
"You have quite a reputation Ensign Fereau, I have seen you on many broadcasts."
"It is not as interesting as it may seem Ma'am."  She was glad he had placed the military epithet at the end, it gave her room to manoeuvre for very shortly she would drop the 'Ensign' and call him Ferreau and she didn't feel comfortable with his down grade of rank.  She had no way of knowing that this had come about by Ferreau's own suggestion.

She stopped at the coffee machine and filled two cups offering one to Ferreau.
"I know you have been given 'saddle orders' from the UN," she stopped to stir her coffee. It was horrible, vending coffee but as of yet she had no 'staff' so she too had to use the machines. "But the situation is such that once you have toured the base and return to Europe you will be under my direct command."

She waited for the torrent of reasons he should stay under the command of the UN, but none came.
"Of course, I do not think I could operate at my full potential without knowing all the facts." He sipped the coffee and tried to hide the disgust he felt at it's diabolical taste.
"Good." she said as she continued down the corridor.  "I know you have much experience Ferreau." She hesitated slightly.  "and I am grateful that I personally do not have to deal with the PR but there will be much happening here in the next few months and I want it understood that nothing is released until I give my personal authority."  He nodded as they walked. "I will not interfere in your methods as long as you inform me of everything that happens on shore."

"Ma'am, may I say that I was commissioned with the army, but now I work for X-Com, I work for you.  I have always been loyal and honourable towards whatever employer I undertaken to join.  I take my work very seriously and you can rest assured that I will do all in my power to ensure that the face of X-Com on shore with be the face that you wish the public to see." She looked slightly towards him as they turned into the sub pen corridor and was almost knocked over by someone coming the other way.

It was Peterson holding paints and brushes.  He stopped, coughed in an odd way, made some strange hand movement that had a faint similarity to a salute and then continued on his way with a very loud, "Sorry Ma'am."  
"Stand there." demanded the commodore.
"Who is that?" asked Ferreau.
"Unfortunately one of our Triton crew."
"A trooper?" he asked with raised eyebrows.
"I'm afraid so, I will be glad when the new recruits arrive."

She peered round and instinctively looked inside the nearest sub pen. Ferreau followed and for the first time laid eyes on the magnificent Triton.  The commodore was more concerned with what Peterson had been up too. To the right of the pen near the armoury racks was Milne with a tech and the small submersible known as Bubbles.  It looked like Bubbles was almost complete and had a dull grey coat of paint. On the side someone, obviously Peterson had painted on 'Bubbles 2' showing off a previously unknown artistic talent.  Milne stood nervously by the machine. She studied the artwork of yellow lettering with the figure 2 formed by exquisitely painted bubbles seemingly drifting upwards. She turned to Peterson still in the corridor.  

"Have you done this?" she asked.  
Peterson nodded not sure if that was the right answer.  Neilsen arrived.
"Is everything all right Ma'am?"
"Ah, Sergeant, I have a task for you." She returned her gaze to Peterson.
"What's your name?"
"Peterson." there was a gap before he received a hard stare from Neilsen. "Ma'am." he added.
"Peterson, I want you to do this on all the craft, go to the pilots of the Barracudas and ask them what the names of their craft are and then paint their names on the side. Then sort out a name for the Triton and have some artwork painted near the bow ... er nose."  She was unsure what to call the front but what she was sure of was that military aircraft, ships and even tanks had name on them. It was traditional, was considered lucky and gave the troops a sense of belonging.  A moral booster, and she knew moral needed to be kept high. Peterson smiled and said. "Aye aye."
"On your way Peterson." insisted Neilsen.

"Sergeant, this is maj...... this is Ensign Ferreau, find him some quarters and tomorrow please give him a tour of the base.  Ensign Ferreau, I will brief you before you leave."  She turned and left, yes it was certainly a busy day and there was still much to do.

Ferreau turned to look over the Triton but he was interrupted by Neilsens voice.
"This way Ferreau."  Neilsen turned to Milne as he left. "What you gorpin' at Milne? carry on."


It didn't take the Triton crew long to come up with a name and even less for Peterson to sketch out the artwork on a pad for the side of the craft.
Men cramped up in this situation need things to keep them occupied.  It was bad to sit quite, it was bad to be alone. No one on shore could understand what happened to a mans mind when he came across a real living alien for the first time, particularly one that was trying it's best to kill you.  
There had been a mental condition in the first war particularly amongst civilians that was generally called 'Bug Trauma' and it required lots of time for it to go away. Only the few living veterans of the first war understood it and it could be guaranteed that the new recruits would not have the training for it.  

In the meantime the men on Alpha-01 kept it at bay as well as the loss of friends by any means possible.
At the moment, that was following orders, unusually.   Peterson had completed his preliminary sketch and the name had been decided.  Triton 01 would be called "The Ice Queen" and Peterson's talents were aired to the full with wonderful flowing letters under a pale and glassy mermaid armed with a Trident, showing rather more of her anatomy that a respectable girl ought.  Both Peterson and the crew had decided that the fact that the female bore a passing resemblance to the commodore was purely coincidental.
LAST OF A DYING BROOD.

#24 The Veteran

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 02:09 AM

January 2nd PM

Finally Petersen was in his element and he felt so comfortable knelt beside the Triton, exercising his talent. He had no idea that he'd been at it for so long but while he had a lot had changed. Phone calls had been made, people had been hired, firms had been silenced and new suppliers acquisitioned. Suddenly the base was alive...

It had been going on for almost an hour but as Petersen sat back to admire his progress he heard it for the first time. Power tools, damn big ones by the sounds of it. He stood up and walked towards the sound, away from the Triton's dock and through various corridors. The echo was deafening but he was a curious one...

As it turned out, he wasn't alone in his need to know, the corridor he stopped in was already too full to go any further.

"What's all the noise about?" he asked the nearest person nearing a scream.

"They're excavating the sea cliffs, adding some new facilities... Another sub pen and some stores from what I gather. Maybe some more quarters too, it would certainly be a good idea with all these new faces turning up."

The drilling had stopped while the two men spoke, making conversation slightly more possible.

"Speaking of new faces," replied Petersen, "I don't think we've met."

The stranger produced a hand, "Jonathon Finn, I'm one of the Barracuda pilots here."

"Dale Petersen," he replied taking Jonathon's hand.  "Have you been out yet, or was that the other pilot?"

"No that was me, I was the only sober one at the time! I don't know if you noticed but your pilot had had a bit too much himself"

Dale laughed, "I thought I didn't usually get seasick"  He processed some information that he was sure meant something, then it clicked.  "Oh hey, I'm doing some artwork on the Triton, already done it on The Frozen Fish. I need to do your Barracuda too. Any ideas?"

"You're asking me for a name? I have no idea... What's the Frozen Fish?"

"It's a long story," replied Dale, chuckling to himself.  "The Triton's got nicknamed The Ice Queen and I'm just putting the name on the side with a bit of morale boosting artwork if you know what I mean"

This time it was Jonathon to chuckle, "Yeah I know what you mean"  he replied as the pair began to head for the Triton's sub pen.  "How about Stingray? I used to watch it as a kid, years ago... Reckon you could work something out around that?"

"I'm sure of it," replied Dale, "not sure I can work in the same amount of flesh for that kind of name though"

"Just see what you can do, I'm sure you'll think of something"  Jonathon slapped Dale on the back and laughed.  "It's good to meet you Dale, see you around."

"You too Jonathon, take it easy."

"Will do, and Dale?"

"Yeah?"

"Jon's fine"

The two men grinned at each other, "Ok Jon, cya later"

While Petersen went back to his painting, Jon strolled back to his quarters. He really did hope they built some more accommodation, the stuff they had at the moment was abysmal... He was one of the lucky ones in that he didn't share with the soldiers, but the private accommodation wasn't much better. In fact he was convinced that his particular room was just built in a natural cave with silver painted walls, there wasn't a single flat surface in the room save the floor.

Jon passed Nielsen in the living quarters. He was on his way down as the pilot made his way up. He had in tow a group of at least eight to ten men. Ranging from smart black suits to battle worn combats to casual weekend attire. He wasn't too sure who or what they were, he wasn't even too aware that Leading Seaman Nielsen was until recently Sergeant Nielsen. The pilots had very little contact with anyone other than tactical command.

As Nielsen moved from the sub pens to the accommodation, to the canteen, he couldn't help but wonder what tomorrow's target practice would bring. He was intrigued by the new recruits, they were certainly the best XCom could afford right now, but he also had a feeling that the men he'd already met, mechs and techs though they were, would most probably stick around for quite some time yet...

Meanwhile the Commodore was pacing her office thinking the complete opposite. She'd been with Nielsen to greet the newcomers but had left soon after. It hadn't been easy to get expansion work started so quickly and she'd been run off her feet with personnel paperwork, invoices, memos and just generally trying to turn the base around...

Now at least there were some real soldiers on side she thought. Her five special agents had arrived, one young woman with a promising report, the Commodore always liked to see a strong woman making her way in the world. Mostly because she knew how damn hard it was when you were at the bottom looking up.

Along with the Commodores new super troopers there were several other individuals who had been suggested by their respective authorities after certain anonymous government questionnaires had been issued to the worldwide forces.

One recruit was SWAT, another a military diver and a third was a highly decorated submarine commander hailing from the red country. There was another female diver in the new batch of recruits, an Australasian saboteur. She wasn't as well trained as the American agents though, and in the Commodore's eyes that meant trouble. The British diver seemed all above board and the SWAT's addition to the team also seemed sound enough. There were several others in the group of more questionable worth. Above all others however, the Commodore was wary of the Russian.

Rifts had never healed after the resurrection of international hostilities in the 20s between Russia and America. Unfortunately this time the European Syndicate had also been dragged into the equation and for not the first time in history nuclear war was very narrowly avoided...

Still the Commodore was as professional as office furniture and by the looks of his paperwork so was the Russian. She would have to give everyone some time and see how well each of them performed their new tasks. There wasn't a doubt in her mind however that the men currently populating the base's only squad wouldn't last long enough to see one of the new recruits make ensign...

She would soon see, Nielsen's target practice was tomorrow and she was half tempted to go with them, get a real chance to judge them for herself... Still it was late, and if she was above water she would have seen the sun set hours ago. The rest could wait until morning.

As she stood, the night shift began working to excavate Sub pen 3, it was going to be a long night. And a long war...
Welcome back to the wonderful world of Fan-fiction! (it's short for fantastic!)
Go check em out, UFO TFTD and Apocalypse all under one roof!!!

Also why not check out XCom : Colonisation over in the special projects forum. Won't kill you if you do, might kill you if you don't!

#25 Zager

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 12:08 AM

"Captain Tagachi?" a British man asked in Japanese, stepping into the dojo that Sato taught at.

"I'm retired," Sato replied, standing up from a meditative position. "But that's me. And just who are you?" He looked the X-COM recruiter over. His bearing and stance indicated that he was a member of the military.

"I'm Sergeant Benson sir, I have a proposition for you," he said.

"I told you, I'm retired. I'm a civilian now, you don't have to sir me."

"Do you have somewhere private where we can talk? Sergeant Benson said.

"There's an office in the back. Follow me," Sato said, interested, and led the way.

*******************



"So, what's this all about?" Sato asked, leaning against a desk.

"I represent an international task force that's been formed to combat-"

Sato cut him off. "I'm retired, son. I don't work for the military anymore and I'm not interested in going back. There's lots of military divers out there, talk to one of them."

"You're one of the best," the mans stated flatly. "How many bombs did you defuse in that last mission. Thirteen? You're one of the few combat divers on the planet to ever engage in combat activity in the extreme depths."

"Fifteen bombs actua;;y. And best, in my business, is generally only by a very slim margin."

"Just the read this file, and you'll see how important this is."

Sato sighed. "All right, I'll read it, if only to convince you that I DON'T want to go back to active service."

Sato picked up the file, and started reading it.

Fifteen minutes later
"This is for real?" he asked, rhetorically, laying the file down on the desk. Benson nodded.

"All right. I'll need a day to tie up my matters here. I'll be reporting to X-COM within forty-eight hours. I'll provide you with a list of what gear I need."

#26 uriaheep

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 10:08 AM

Milne had awoken early, he had arranged to meet one of the techs, a younger man called Dawson but known to Milne as "Brains".  He was quick and intelligent, full of ideas and always ready to share them.  He had spent some of his own time helping Milne put Bubbles 2 back together and was constantly improving her systems.  His naivety caused him to be the only one to still call Bubbles by her old name. Everyone now referred to the machine as Frozen Fish.

This early meeting was to test Frozen Fish in the empty corridors before underwater tests could be arranged. There was much to test.  Milne now saw the machine as an evolution to a better unit, a newly designed weapons platform rather than just a helpful submersible.  
He and Dawson already had drawings of the new vehicle which was known to them as E1, Evolution One, but Milne wasn't sure if they would ever be given the resouces to be able to build it.

Dawson had come up with two excellent improvements. The first was to scrap the single shot harpoon guns and fit a single ten shot type that was servo controlled and had an arc of about 80 degrees.  The second improvement was the best.  He had developed a HUD style helmet projector that allowed Frozen Fish to be controlled by retinal movements. The technology had been around since the beginning of the century, there had been plans to fit it into the Barracudas and Dawson had simply adapted it for use in diving helmets rather than aircraft or submarine cockpits. This system when installed would allow the machine to be controlled by any of the Aquanauts in the field.

At the moment, there was no funding for the new system as the project was unofficial, and Frozen Fish crept out of Sub Pen 1 under remote infrared control.
"Okay," smiled Milne to Dawson.  "Begin tests."  

Dawson pressed the keypad and the machine moved forward with Milne following on to watch the progress.  Dawson tested the grab arm on the side and tried the two lights at the front. One of the more slight improvements was that the machine should not create as many bubbles as she moved which gave away her position.
Underwater, sound travels like bad news, fast but much altered.

Of course this test would have to wait as would the accuracy of the new gun set on the top but everything seemed to be working fine at the moment. Milne looked back up the corridor to where Dawson was operating the machine, occasionally glancing down to the tiny screen which showed a forward view from Frozen Fish. Milne gave the thumbs up and smiled.

From further forward came the sound of voices, Milne looked ahead and two men came walking his way, they were obviously two of the new recruits. There had been much talk of what would happen to the team when these new troops arrived, most thought they would be stood down and this depressed them.
Everyone thought there was much they could still do, they all wanted to do their part in the coming war.

Dawson trundled Frozen Fish away to one side to make more room for the two men to pass.
The taller of the two stopped when he reached the machine and turned to the other man he was with.

"Hey look at this bag of bolts," he said with a strong American accent. He turned to Milne.
"Is this the coffee machine?"  The two men laughed loud but Milne just smiled politely.  He knew a 'Glasgow Kiss' probably wasn't the way to make friends with the new recruits so he said nothing.

The other man who sounded British added in a silly whispering voice.  "Hey, this may be their secret weapon. No wonder they sent for us."  They laughed loudly once more.

Maybe they didn't realise Milne was one of the combat team, he was wearing tech coveralls, or maybe they didn't care but Milne considered himself very much part of the team. He had spent all waking hours either rebuilding Frozen Fish or training with the others on the range or running around these tedious corridors. He felt he had learned a great deal since arriving.  These two men standing before him had insulted the machine he had spent so much time rebuilding and more to the point they had insulted the team.

Milne gave them a sickly smile, turned his head towards Dawson and gave him the thumbs down. With a steady by positive movement the grab arm on the side of Frozen Fish moved out as the tiny camera swivelled to meet its aim. The 'hand' opened and grabbed hold of the tall Americans ankle.

"Hey" he called out but he was held fast and the harpoon gun spun to his direction.  It was not loaded but the ten clicks that it crackled out certainly worried the two troopers.  The British man lunged forward at Milne but Frozen Fish backed up causing the lunging trooper to loose his footing and causing the American great pain.

"What the hell is going on here?" bawled Neilsen coming from behind Dawson.  

As he came closer to Milne the grab let go of the American and Milne said.  "I was just explaining to these two gentlemen where the heads were Sarge."

Neilsen was no fool; he knew exactly what was going on here.  "You two."  He pointed to the recruits.  "Aren't you supposed to be somewhere?"  

They nodded and turned to leave but the American stopped and pointed at Milne, the end of his finger just inches from Milnes nose.  "Don't get in my sights Jock."  He turned away.

"And you are off my Christmas card list," replied Milne.

"Milne, in my office in ten minutes," growled Neilsen.
LAST OF A DYING BROOD.

#27 Accounting Troll

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 04:56 PM

Mark Reynolds had decided not to bother with film night in the mess as he had already seen The Poseidon Adventure plenty of times already.  As a result, he was the only one in the communal living quarters when a group of five new soldiers wandered in and started looking for some spare bunks.

One, a man with a strong American accent was loudly complaining about being "dissed" by some "stinking Jock and his coffee machine".  Mark vaguely wondered what it was about, but it didn't seem to be as important as the report he had downloaded onto his tablet PC about mysterious algal blooms, and carried on reading.

"Is this bunk spare?" asked a young Afro-American woman brightly as she indicated the bunk to his left.

"Erm, not really.  It's Brian's, but he got killed yesterday."

She wondered if it would be worth pointing out that logically this meant that the bunk was now vacant, but decided it could wait, especially since it looked like there were plenty of spare bunks.  "What about this one?" she asked, indicating the next one along.

"I suppose so."  He wasn't too keen on sharing the living quarters with a woman, and he was mortified at the thought that they would have to share the communal shower with a woman.  Technically, the commodore was a woman, but her quarters had an en suite bathroom.  Besides, he didn't think of her as a woman.

"Weren't you one of the guys who captured that alien ship yesterday?"

"That's right."

"What are the aliens like?"

"They're sort of like Sectoids, but they've got gills and they can breathe underwater.  Their weapons work underwater, so they have to be different to the plasma weapons they used last time."

"Sectoids, eh?" said one of the men.  "This is gonna be easy, those guys are even easier to kill than the Quebecois.  Can't wait to get suited up and have a go at them"  His knowledge of the aliens mostly stemmed from post-war video games that pretended to be an accurate depiction of X-Com's fight against the aliens.

"You used standard diving suits for missions against the Quebecois insurgents, didn't you?  That's fine when we're fighting the aliens on a continental shelf, but I've got bad news for you.  If all the Marie Celeste sinkings are down to the aliens, then they hardly ever stray into continental shelf territory if they can help it, and that means we're going to have to fight them in the deeps.

"If you think fighting the aliens in the deeps is going to be a doddle, think again.  Standard diving suits just don't work down there; you'd be crushed to a pulp before you left the Triton.  There are specially armoured diving suits, but they tend to be somewhat bulky.  The alien vessel we recovered was too cramped to be able to use armoured diving suits.

"That only leaves us with one option: liquid breathing.  It's counter-intuitive for a diver to allow his lungs to be filled up with liquid instead of air.  Perfectly safe these days, but I've seen a lot of experienced divers panic as soon as words like perfluorocarbon get mentioned in mission briefings."

"Seems to me you're just making excuses because you got your asses kicked," said the soldier who had made the earlier complaint about coffee machines.  "It's just a few bugs left over from the war.  We'll soon splat them for you"

Mark stared at the gung-ho moron in disbelief for a moment.  "And how the hell do you lot propose to do that then?  The aliens are able to travel and strike at will across two thirds of the planet.  We don't have a clue where their bases are, or even if they have any permanent bases.  And even if we find something to attack that we can actually reach, we're still screwed because they've got better weapons than us."

"That hardly stopped us last time," said one of the newcomers, an Englishman with a south coast accent.

"Things are worse than last time.  X-Com was never expected to go up against the likes of the Mutons and Chrysalids armed with just crossbows."

"So? They have to surface at some time, and then we'll have them," said the Englishman.

"Surface where?  The Hyperion only had a few seconds to get off a distress call before it went down.  How the hell do we get to the site of an alien attack before the aliens can slip away?"

Mark stomped off to watch the rest of the Poseidon Adventure.  He didn't think it was worth asking the names of the newcomers as he suspected they wouldn't survive long with their attitude.



The Triton left for the training session at 4am the next morning.  Nielsen had picked a nice area of deep water just to the north of the Azores, which meant that the new recruits would get to try out the liquid breathing system.  Frozen Fish was staying at home so that there would be more room for equipment, including the targets - metal poles covered in florescent paint.

There was another reason for picking the Azores: the Triton would be out for the whole day and the scientists were keen on borrowing the empty submarine pen for the day: apparently they wanted to demonstrate some prototype weapon for the Commodore, and they needed the space.  Besides, Dr Zager had sent Nielsen a memo explaining that he didn't want soldiers getting in the way and breaking irreplaceable scientific equipment.

Nielsen was wondering how he could get the aquanauts working together.  The newcomers were sitting around making dirty jokes and timing each other to see who could strip down a laser rifle and reassemble it in the fastest time; a pointless exercise as the laser rifle would have to be stored in one of the watertight lockers during the training mission.  Meanwhile the Mechs 'n' Techs were having a conversation about algal blooms; a couple of them had a theory that the algal blooms of the last few years were caused by sediment thrown up by alien activity on the sea bed, although the others took the view that the run-off from chemical fertilisers used in agriculture was to blame.  Nielsen didn't need Zager's psionic abilities to detect a strict line of demarcation between the two halves of the squad sitting in their separate areas of the Triton.

"Okay squad, at this depth we have to use the liquid breathing system otherwise the water pressure would crush your ribcages.  Before you put on the breathing equipment, you will each be injected with a temporary muscle relaxant.  That's to stop you from trying to cough up the liquid when it starts filling up your lungs.

"When you're using the liquid breathing system, you won't be able to talk to each other over the radio, but you can still receive radio messages.  The pilot and co-pilot will be monitoring your respiration and heart rate from the Triton, so they will know if you get into trouble.

"If you want to communicate with each other, you can use hand signals or send a Morse code message using the light on your suit.  We've got some special hand-operated communications devices on order from an underwater mining company that'll allow you to type simple messages to each other, but they haven't arrived yet.

"One other thing, at seventy fathoms or above, the buoyancy of the human body means that you are able to float back to the surface.  Below seventy fathoms, the water pressure is too great.  This means that you are going to find yourselves having to walk around on the seabed.

"Oh yes, and do try to stay away from the volcanic vents unless you want to be boiled alive."

Liquid breathing was old hat to the Mechs 'n' Techs, but they were glad to see one or two of the newcomers looking a bit nervous during Nielsen's briefing, the arrogant Englishman in particular.



When the Triton landed, Reynolds and Munt were given the job of planting the target poles into the sediment several hundred yards from the Triton.  The breathtaking scenery reminded Reynolds of why he had chosen oceanography and diving as a career.  Tall and narrow pillars of stone reached up further than the powerful lights of the Triton could reach, an awe-inspiring sight that put him in mind of the time he had visited Durham Cathedral as a child.  At this depth, more light was coming from the eerie volcanic vents than the sun.  With the space programme stalled, this was the only place left on the planet for people who wanted to explore a truly alien wilderness.

#28 The Veteran

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 11:23 PM

Nielsen was standing in the Triton doorway watching two of his men as they finished arranging the targets for the firing range. A lot of the present soldiers had never had to fire a harpoon rifle in anger, even from the original squad, so this would be an eye opener for everyone.

The rest of Nielsen's crew were floating around outside the Triton, checking kit and weapons, just taking in the scene in general... The new arrivals were mostly still in the Triton, all looking rather unwell and none of them enjoying the liquid breathing too much. To the delight of the Mechs n Techs, the Englishman had gagged on the liquid even with the aid of the relaxant so it was already one point to the hometeam.

Munt and Reynolds finished arranging the targetsand walked back to the Triton where most of the squad was waiting for them. Their stroll had been punctuated with glances first to each other then to one of the new recruits with the addition of a suitable gesture to show what each man thought of each newcomer.

Nielsen stuck a thumb up to the approaching aquanauts and was awarded another in return to signal the targets were in place. He handed a harpoon rifle to each of the men then pointed to Reynolds and held up one finger to indicate he had first shot.

Reynolds waved his hand and suggested as best as he could that he go second, and one of the new recruits went first.

Nielsen shrugged and nodded, pointing to one of the new troops, it was hard in th apparatus to tell which it was. They hadn't got their suits personalised yet or even named like the original recruits had.

The soldier brought his rifle up to his chest and loaded the first harpoon, removing his safety. From the diving suits small window some uncertain and very nervous eyes peered into the murky distance at the targets in front of them. The cockiness had suddenly all but disappeared...

The troops all looked to one another when the first shot missed, a smile for the old recruits, an increased sense of nervousness for the new. Another shot fired and another shot missed, the movement of the water and the cushioned recoil of the rifle in the sea made it hard to hit target with an untrained eye.

Nielsen tired quickly of what was getting them nowhere, and unfortunately being unable to speak left him completely unable to impart any wisdom on the so called pro...

He signalled for him to stop shooting and gestured to Reynolds again who nodded and moved to the last soldiers position. He'd placed the targets so he had the advantage of knowing the local currents. That meant he knew exactly which targets were easiest to take out and he went straight for them.

As he walked past the retreating trooper, Reynolds loaded his weapons with the apparent ease of a man who had done so a million times before. He took target, compensated for currents, rested on the trigger, compensated some more, then fired. Right on target...

He grinned... That was two-nil then...
Welcome back to the wonderful world of Fan-fiction! (it's short for fantastic!)
Go check em out, UFO TFTD and Apocalypse all under one roof!!!

Also why not check out XCom : Colonisation over in the special projects forum. Won't kill you if you do, might kill you if you don't!

#29 uriaheep

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 11:04 AM

Three - nil was just around the corner.  Anderson, one of the quieter recruits was beginning to have a panic attack brought on by the liquid breathing, he was swallowing the material and it was effecting his stomach.  He began to wave his arms about and Nielsen noticed he was groping about for his helmet latches.

Running was impossible on the seabed but the Sergeant made as much haste as he could towards the trooper. Reynolds was there first and tried to calm the frantic American.  Reynolds held his arms and then tried to make a sign that was to mean "Stop doing that" but all Anderson saw was "You're gonna die." and he panicked even more.

Nielsen arrived and bundled Anderson back into the sub and motioned to the rest of the troops to follow.  Some were already on their way. After seeing Anderson panic they had decided something was wrong.  Back inside the door was closed and the pressure equalised so that the troops could return to air breathing.


One thing that had been omitted at the briefing was the fact though getting the body to accept liquid breathing is next to impossible, getting it to accept air again afterwards is impossible. As the helmets came off the cabin floor became a sea of vomit. The co-pilot had entered to assist Nielsen but he went straight to Milne who was choking violently, this was his first time on liquids too.  He had considered taking to breathing liquid was similar to a good night in Glasgow, but coming back to air was worse than the worst hangover.  The co-pilot gave Milne an injection and moved on to Chavez, another American in the same condition as Milne.

Probin and Mason were 'green around the gills' but recovering well. These were the two recruits that had been accosted by Frozen Fish,  and the American, Mason seemed to be a natural despite his gung-ho attitude. The most comfortable of the new recruits seemed to be Greg, the Afro-American woman who had upset Reynolds just by being female, Reynold looked at her and wondered if she was part fish. He could feel a nickname coming on for her.  

Peterson shuffled around through the vomit and glanced over to Reynolds.
"Hey Mark. Minestrone Soup for tea then."  Anderson threw up once moreand went into convultions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Milne and Anderson were taken straight to sick bay and the rest of the troops including Chavez were allowed to return to their quarters.  As the first of them arrived in the mess room Ferreau was seen at one of the tables busily typing away on a small keypad, he took no notice of the troopers entering.
"Looks like Anderson's in a bad way." grinned Probin.
"Yeah," laughed Mason. "I don't think he'll make the grade. It was nice to see that Jock barfing up his lunch too." They both sat at the nearest table as Greg entered and walked past them.

"Hey Greg, you got gills or what?"  The young woman sat and turned very deliberatley to the pair.
"No," there was a long pause. "I just know how to relax."

Chavez entered and walked over to one of the vending machines.  Reynolds followed by Munt entered and sat as far out of the way as they could considering the cramped mess room. Soon Reynolds stood and moved towards the vending machine where Chavez was kicking hell out of it. Reynolds tapped his arm and Chavez swung around.
"This damn thing won't work." His face was furious.
"Allow me." said Reynolds in a calm and resolute voice.  Reynolds seemed to be calming the retched beast, laying his hand over it and purring,
"Come on old girl, play for the nice man." whereon he banged it violently on the top and the machine dispensed.  Chavez thanked him and left as Reynolds once again struck the machine several times and returned to his table with Munt.

"Hey Chavez, that limey is playing with you and you're too dumb to see it."
"Go to hell Mason, I've told you, leave me alone or I'll be on your ass."
"Any time you like Chavez, any time you like." grinned Mason motioning with his hand for Chavez to come forward.
Reynolds made a slight coughing noise and Munt smiled as he had a good idea what was coming next.
"By your reference to 'limey' I surmise you mean English, due to the fact that eighteenth century English sailors were given limes to prevent scurvy. Is that a correct assumption?"
"What?" Mason turned to Probin. "What did he just say?" Probin just shrugged his shoulders.
"I am saying that you are assuming that I am English." smiled Reynolds.  Munt tutted and shook his head.
"Yeah, that's what I said, limey. You deaf?" Mason raised his voice on the last two words.
"No I'm not deaf but neither am I English."
"He's not, he's really not." added Munt shaking his head in a condescending tone.
"Well limey," stared Mason, "You sound like an Englishman."  Reynolds stared back and replied,
"You sound like a dick head but I'm sure you'll tell me otherwise."
Mason jumped to his feet and his chair went flying across the room.

"Sit down Mason."  interrupted a clear and determined voice.  It was a voice like the tinkling of a bell and yet it had the spirit to entice a ship onto a rocky promontory.  Mason looked around to where the voice came from. It was the man seated close by, and he was still typing. He stopped typing and looked up at the American.
"Or would you like me to tell them about your service record?"  Mason stared back at Ferreau for some seconds but there was something in the mans eyes that told Mason he was already beat. He picked up his kit and left giving Reynolds a harsh stare.

"Now that chap," smiled Munt pointing to the retreating trooper. "Is going to end up as Billy No Mates."
"Tell me about his service record and who the hell are you?" asked Greg.
"Christophe Ferreau, at your service ma'am." He bowed slightly even though he was seated. "I know nothing of his service record but people like that always have something to hide."  There was a scraping of a chair as Probin left giving Ferreau a stare.

"And now a question for you," smiled Ferreau.  "Why is an Englishman part of an American Special Forces unit?"  
"Oh Probin?" nodded Greg. "His mother is American and he was born there, I think he moved back to England when he was young, after his parent split." She toyed with the empty cup on the table. "He's a good soldier and not a bad man, he is just easily lead by Mason."

"What about Anderson?" asked Munt.  Greg looked over to the pair at the table but she refused to comment. Chavez replied.
"He's good, don't let that episode on the seabed cloud your judgement.  In a tight spot I'd rather have Anderson with me than anyone else."  Munt and Reynolds considered that they would be in a tight spot soon enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I've got you all together for a very important statement."  Announced Nielsen.  In front of him were all the combat personnel including Milne and Anderson who had been pronounced fit after check ups.  
"After the trials I have spent several hours in a meeting with the Commodore and although she does not see that we are ready to be pronounced operational she admits that we have no option but to respond to any situation."
"But sarg?" spluttered Peterson.
"Quiet trooper, I will give you all chance to ask questions later."  Nielsen picked up some papers from the tool locker at his side.  The sub pen was the only suitable place for such a meeting.
"From 06.00 hours tomorrow you will begin an extensive training programme of which much will be liquid breathing combat situations."  There were audible groans and sighs but Nielsen let it go.
"There will also be a new system of marking in place. What this means is, if any of you do not make the grade, you are out of here."  Nielsen allowed time for them to take this in.  There was quite a bit of shuffling and a few whispers.

"The long and short of it is that you either work together as a team or there is no place for you here."  He looked around all their faces. "Questions?"

"What the hell are the enemy like Sarg?" asked Anderson.
"The ones we've seen up to present are basically sectoids either bred or evolved into sea dwelling.  We will know more when the full analysis has been carried out on the corpses."

"Do we get to see the bodies?" asked Probin.
"Yeah," replied Nielsen. "After this meeting."

"If they are like the sectoids then they should be easy to kill." added Greg.
"They are." replied Nielsen.  "They die easy enough but it's getting an accurate shot off before they reply, an' you don't want to get on the working end of one of their weapons. Go through your briefs on air breathing aliens.  What you find is that each of the races we encountered in the First Alien War had some kind of terror back-up. The sectoids had saucers, the Etherials had sectopods and there were many connected 'altered' races too. We have no reason to believe that the same situation will not occur this time."  

"So what are the odds?" asked Gasvin. Nielsen stroked his stubble and seemed a little doubtful about an answer.
"The scientists tell me," he stopped for a minute. "They tell me that based on evidence collected from attack patterns and alien genetic material,"  he paused again. "there is a 67% chance of other types being found." There was a general buzz in the pen.  "That of course is based on speculation, but I'm just saying we have to be prepared for the worst."

Peterson stood up near the back.
"Does that mean that we could find a water breathing Muton down there?"
"No, not at all."  Nielsen fumbled with his papers. "It is doubtful that these 'Aquatoids' as they are being called have the technological breakthroughs that their air breathing cousins had. Take a look at their ships for instance, they are not as well equipped as craft previously seen."
There was more mumbling.

"Just let us at them, who cares what they look like." called out Mason.
"Before we let you at them trooper, you will have to prove yourself in the next few days of training.
LAST OF A DYING BROOD.

#30 Accounting Troll

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 12:29 AM

Commodore Anson had been somewhat disappointed by the results of the first training exercise.  The divers the Americans had sent her had proved to be dangerously inexperienced at liquid breathing.  This would not be a problem if the USOs were conveniently shot down over a continental shelf, but most suspected alien activity had been out in the deeps.  Meanwhile the divers X-Com had inherited from SORESO had more experience of the Deeps, but they had little military training.  Instead of getting rid of the civilian divers as she had hoped, she was going to have to get them to work with the military divers, compensating for each others weaknesses.  To make things worse, some of the new military divers, particularly Mason, had demonstrated the sort of gung-ho attitude that had generally resulted in a quick death in the previous war; brains and not brawn were what was needed against technologically advanced aliens.

The next day’s training would be a little different.  The squad badly needed to become more used to liquid breathing, but it would be too dangerous to train in the deeps where it would be hard to rescue anybody who got into difficulties.  She pulled a few strings to obtain the exclusive hire of an Olympic sized swimming pool in Rabat for the day.  The squad wouldn’t be able to get in any marksmanship training, but a few hours of marching up and down the floor of a swimming pool with backpacks containing ballast would get them more comfortable with liquid breathing.

There had been a scare overnight which had emphasised how woefully under-prepared humanity was for this conflict.  A surface vessel had strayed into a busy sea lane in the Bay of Biscay and had failed to respond to a radio challenge by the Coastguard.  One of the X-Com Barracudas was sent to intercept it, however the pilot was ordered to get an active sonar image of the vessel before he engaged it as X-Com badly needed more, or indeed any, data on the alien craft types and their capabilities.

It was just as well that the pilot had been ordered to obtain an active sonar image as it turned out that the unidentified vessel was just a tramp cargo ship.  The bridge crew of the night shift had all been drunk at their posts.  A potential disaster was narrowly averted and the shipping authorities repeated their warnings about the security measures that had been implemented for the duration of the emergency.

With the aquanauts spending another day on training, one of the sub pens was free for the demonstration of the prototype Gauss weapon.  During the previous war, Dr. Zager had learned the dangers of having grunts around at a prototype demonstration.  They had a tendency to prod things even after being specifically told not to, with the result that expensive, and sometimes irreplaceable equipment had frequently been broken.  “Commodore,” he said, when she walked into the sub pen right on schedule.  “We’re ready to begin the demonstration immediately.”

“I take it that is your prototype,” said Anson, indicating in the direction of one of Zager’s assistants, who was holding a bulbous device about the size of a briefcase.  She also noticed that it was powered by a lead connecting to the electricity mains.  There was an anaesthetized pig on the other side of the submarine pen; expensive and rather hard on the pig, but there was no way that she going to allow one of the few Aquatoid bodies they had recovered to be used for the demonstration.  Commodore Anson had no problem with animal testing, providing she felt that the benefits outweighed the suffering of the animal.  The carcass of a second pig had been lowered into the water and tied in place, perhaps ten feet below the surface.  Zager’s assistants had set up several cameras around the sub pen to record the demonstration for the benefit of the engineers and the grunts.

“That’s right.  Don’t worry about the power leads, the final version will be fully portable.  Conventional batteries lack the capacity to power a Gauss weapon.  The power cells I invented for the laser rifles we developed in 1999 are required, although they need some modifications to make them waterproof at extreme depths.  The additional materials we need are currently on order.”

The commodore remembered that she was dealing with the world’s leading expert on psionics.  “You can bloody well stay out of my mind, and that’s an order!”

Zager remembered that for once he wasn’t dealing with a tame disciple, gutless politician or blackmailable criminal.  The commodore already suspected that at 95, he was past it and just trading on past glories.  If he antagonised her, she would not be afraid to kick him off the project, and that would be a disaster for humanity and himself.  He knew he was the best in his profession; he also didn’t have much time for self-effacing modesty.  His next words had to be chosen with care, something he was not used to having to do.  “It is impossible, even for me, to read another human mind unless that human is a trained psionic.  The aliens X-Com fought in the last conflict had been engineered to take orders transmitted psionically from a remote location.  Taking over that command link to gain control of an alien who expects and needs psionic orders is a lot different to probing the thoughts of another human.  I would not want such an ability because filtering out other people’s stray thoughts would be virtually impossible.

“You are a highly intelligent and capable officer, or you would not have been considered for command of X-Com.  It is therefore logical that you would immediately spot the flaw in the prototype.”

The commodore was mollified, at least for the time being.  “Okay, let’s get on with the test.”

The Gauss weapon was placed on a stand, and aimed carefully at the pig carcass through the use of several targeting lasers.  There was no noise when it fired, although there was a slight high-pitched whine as the capacitors charged up, much like the flash on a camera.  Mercifully for the pig, it was a neat killing shot, far more humane that what would have happened to it in an abattoir.

An examination of the pig carcass revealed that a hole had been bored right through the pig and into the asbestos/ceramic sheet used to stop the beam and prevent the room from being damaged.  The wound had been neatly cauterised, a common occurrence with the plasma weapons the aliens had used in the last war.  The smell of roast pork filled the air, reminding the commodore that she had skipped breakfast.

Zager was relieved by the success of the first test.  All scientists dreaded the experience of having a prototype that worked fine in the lab refusing to work in front of the people who controlled the purse strings.  A successful demonstration would greatly improve his status in the eyes of this battleaxe of a commodore, but a failure might see him thrown off the project.  “The second test will demonstrate that plasma beams work underwater.  The Gauss weapon will be fired at an angle, into the water, as it is not fully waterproofed.  However, there is an immutable problem with using plasma beams under water…”

“You’re talking about cooling times and the effect on range and beam intensity, aren’t you?”

He wasn’t used to dealing with military officers with more than two brain cells to rub together.  “Correct.  As you know, water is a far more efficient coolant than air.  The effective range of plasma weapons underwater will therefore be reduced, but it will still be significantly greater than that of gas powered harpoons.”

The second test was also successful, although it took a little longer to set up due to the aiming difficulty caused by the refraction of the light entering the water.  The burst from the prototype Gauss weapon lanced through the pig carcass, although the damage to the asbestos/ceramic sheeting was considerably less than in the previous test.

“Encouraging.  When will we be able to equip the aquanauts with portable Gauss weapons?”  Zager realised that this was probably the most praise the Commodore had given anybody since she had arrived at the base.

“Three to four days to create the blueprints for a portable Gauss pistol and the waterproof clips to go with it.  After that, it all depends on the efficiency of the esteemed Mr. Brown and his colleagues.”  He had even managed to keep any tone of sarcasm out of his voice in his description of the engineering department.

“That’s fine.  Now is there anything else you need to talk about?”

“There is one other minor concern.”

“What?”

“There is still no wheelchair access to my laboratory.  I do not appreciate having to be carried up and down those steps.  One of my disciples has looked into the matter, and a military contractor with the appropriate security clearance has given a quotation of $4,000 for installing chairlifts here and in the canteen.”

What the hell?  The arrogant old sod they forced on me looks as if he’ll be useful after all, thought the Commodore.

#31 uriaheep

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 09:52 PM

Ferreau was using the quiet of the base to brush up on the backgrounds of the diplomats he would have to deal with in the UN.  With the troopers away on training the base was calm and relaxed and Ferreau lay on his bunk in his standard issue underwear.  The klaxon which erupted almost caused him to soil that very same underwear but he managed to jump to his feet and toss the tiny laptop to the bunk.  

"Que dans les dieux appellent? he hissed in his native tongue.  "A USO and everyone away." he continued in English.  

Without hesitation he ran towards the comms room to see what was happening but as he entered the corridor he bumped in to a large trooper.
"Who the hell are you?" spat Ferreau.  He looked up at the large man, making his own frame look quite diminutive.  The trooper just stared at him and replied.

        "Hafner." Ferreau still had no clue but demanded.

"Quick, come with me."  Hafner thinking that this half naked lunatic could be an officer chased after him.  Ferreau turned by the common room and down toward comms but as he turned into the Sub Pen section he saw a fire team running into the nearest sub pen. He slowed to a jog and then a quick walk.  "Which idiot decided to have a fire drill when there was no one here?" he thought to himself.  Hafner caught him up and asked.

        "What was that about and why has the siren stopped?"

        "Don't ask me, maybe the commander is pressing her underwear and they caught alight." replied the Frenchman in a cynical tone.  They both turned into the sub pen to see just about everyone else left at the base and the fire team looking over a smouldering pigs carcass.

        "Ahh, Ferreau." exclaimed the Commodore but stopped almost as soon as she turned to him.

        "We thought it was siting, a USO or something." he frowned.

        "Oh, I see." she replied staring into his eyes. "No," she replied turning her head a little and considering that they must schedule a drill so that the newcomers at the base would know the difference between the Emergency Klaxon and the damn fire bell. "It was the test with the new gauss weapon.  We never thought about the smoke detectors, it just a but of roast pork."  Ferreau thought there was a hint of a smile on her lips as she turned to gaze back to him. This annoyed him as he hated being disturbed.

        "What does she find so amusing?" he thought. She broke her gaze to look at the man by his side.

        "You must be Hafner?" she asked.

        "Yes ma'am," Hafner stiffened. He had been told that there was no saluting but the pips on the Commodores shoulders made his instinct raise his arm a little before dropping it and standing to attention. "I arrived about an hour ago and was told to wait in the Pursers office but I can't find it."

        "As you were Hafner, that's because we have no pursers office.  The pilots of the transports have an odd sense of humour. I see you have met Mr Ferreau."  The 'Mr' agitated Ferreau even more. "I want you to know Hafner that normally we require our soldiers to be fully dressed outside their own billets." Ferreau suddenly became aware of what the commodore was alluding to.

        "I'm sorry ma'am, as I said" The commodore cut him off.

        "I understand. This is trooper Hafner." Hafner thought for a moment she had said "Troopi Hafner" and for an instant he almost laughed. It was his nickname after all but he managed to hold it back.  The commodore continued. "He is the one I was telling you and Nielsen about." She turned to Hafner and continued as the fire team dragged out the smouldering pig.  "You are to be our Support Weapons specialist, we may have some weapons the like of which you have never seen before but at the moment they are large and cumbersome.  You will have your work cut out for the next few weeks but if your record is anything to go by you will fit in here very well." She turned to Ferreau and raised her eyebrows.

        "Of course ma'am. Come with me Hafner, I'll show you to your quarters." They returned the way they had come.

        "She seems okay, I was told she was a dragon but I'm sure I caught her smiling." said Hafner.  

        "Yes, but at my expense I feel." frowned Ferreau.

        "Mmm, to be truthful you are a little underdressed." smiled the big man looking down at Ferreau.  Ferreau thought he would wipe the smile from his face.  

        "Have you ever done any liquid breathing?"  Hafner stopped dead.

        "What?"
  
        "Liquid breathing, you know where you forsake thee million years of evolution and breathing air to return to breathing water? Oh it's all the rage around here, you'll love it." Ferreau continued walking smiling to himself.

        "Wait a minute, if you think that I came all this way to..." His words were cut short as once again a klaxon erupted into life. Hafner looked up as the main lights went out and red lamps lit all the corridors.

        "That is different to before."  said Hafner.

        "Yeah." replied Ferreau gazing at the red lamps.

        "That is not a fire alarm is it?" said Hafner.

        "I doubt it." frowned Ferreau.  In the red light features looked odd, almost demonic.

        "It's not good news is it." Hafner got no reply as Ferreau once again sped off down the corridor.  Hafner took up the chase.  

        "Here we go again." he barked.




The comms room was alive with activity, the red light not as strong here with glow of many screens. The commodore was already there.  Ferreau entered and looked over to her. She looked concerned.

        "We've called the Triton back but I have launched B1 to intercept.  We have a Tango, 52 miles west of the Ushant bearing 178.  We just have to hope that we can get the Triton back in time."  Ferreau sat, realising he was still not dressed, Anson didn't notice this time.

        "Alpha One this is Fish One, I'm clear of the base and climbing to 16 thousand, bearing 180." The familiar voice of John Finn crackled out.

        "Receiving Fish One this is Alpha one, the tango has altered course to 092, repeat 092, speed  2 point 2." the comm.. operator replied.

        "We just have to wait now." sighed Anson as she joined Ferreau at the rear seats.



The next thirty five minutes dragged by until Barracuda One called in.
"Alpha one, I have visual ...... matching speed and course to intercept over."

        "What can you see Fish One, can you ID the UFO? over."  There was a pause and then came.

        "Er, that's affirmative Alpha One.  It looks to be about the size of an attack fighter, twin engines and ........ and."  There was another pause, then.  "Er, is there? ....." Another pause and the listening few in the comms rooms began to think there was something wrong.

         " Alpha One this is Fish One, I have the Tango on my Port wing.  It looks like."  There was yet another pause. The comm. operator was as anxious as the rest of them.

        "Fish One this is Alpha One, is there a problem?"

         "Alpha One, is there any military movements scheduled for today?"  Finns voice sounded annoyed.  The comm. operator glanced through his notes.

        "That's a negative Fish One, no scheduled flight in that area today over."

         "Well someone is telling fat lies cos' I've got a military jet on my wing pulling two and a half mach and the pilot is defiantly not a sectoid." The comm. man turned around to look at Anson who said nothing.  He turned back to his console.

        "Keep to standard procedure Fish One.  Are there any markings on the UFO? over."

        "Affirmative Alpha One.  It's not a large roundel but this box of bolts belongs to the French and all I'm receiving from that bird is embarrassed looks."

         "Okay Fish One return to base."

         "Damn those stupid bureaucrats." swore Anson.   "Tell Finn to buzz that crate before he turns for home." She got up to leave. "Ferreau, in my office in five and for gods sake get some clothes on."

Hafner had been standing by the door and when most had left he walked over to one of the techs.
"What was that about?"  The tech looked up.  

         "Oh it's all good fun." replied the tech in a heavy American accent.  "The French it seems are experimenting with their own Interceptors, trying to keep it quiet by not using transponders."

         "They are ID beacons aren't they?"

         "Yeah that's right." replied the tech as he pushed a chair for Hafner to sit on.  "The trouble is, to anyone who can spot it, the plane comes over as another Tango and therefore an enemy.  It's just a good job that procedure requires eyeballing before we shoot or Xcom could now be at war with the French."  The tech smiled as he pulled a snack bar from behind his console and began to unwrap it. "It seem the French don't trust us to keep the alien menace at bay. At least they are taking the threat seriously which is more that can be said for some countries. Mmm, people soon forget."

         "This could cause a diplomatic rift I suspect." frowned Hafner.

         "Too right, that Frenchy was doing his best to shake old Sharky off his tail. But the might of the Barracuda won out."

         "Sharky, who's that?"  asked Hafner watching the American eat the snack.

         "Oh," he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and replied. "Finn, Jonathan Finn. He's the guy that downed USO 1.  Now we call him Sharky Finn, the flying shark."  

Hafner walked back to his berth to unpack.  It was going to be interesting here.
LAST OF A DYING BROOD.

#32 Dumb_Commander

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 08:03 PM

Cellman walked in the  corridors of the base. Being a quiet guy. It was a day or two when he finaly got here just forty minutes ago. He decided to first talk to the commander of the base.

Tough that would be a little difficult. After doing few turns, he understood that he was at his starting point. After asking a passing tech about the Commander's loacation. He finally got to the office where the respected commander was.

He knocked on the door to the office after couple of moments Cellman heard. "Come in" He walked in, and was a little shocked. I never thought that I'll meet a someone so similar. tought Michael while looking at commondore Anson. He spoke before Commondore Anson was able to ask.

"Michael Cellman, reporting for duty." while speaking Cellman had tried to hide his sad look.

=-=
I think that should do. If not PM me.

#33 Accounting Troll

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 05:59 PM

“Oh yes, you arrived on the last transport.  Sit down please,” she said indicating the spare chair as she called up his file on her ultra thin OLED display.  “Now perhaps you could tell me why a New York cop has been transferred to a military underwater covert operations unit.”

“Well maam, after my family were killed, I joined a SWAT team.  That’s not exactly an easy job in New York.  Most of the city’s ungovernable these days.  I spend my vacations deep sea diving in the Caribbean…”

“On a police officer’s wages?” interrupted the commodore.  Surely Sergeant Hussein hadn’t missed this!

“I know what you’re thinking, but I’ve never taken a bribe in my life.  I must have been the only one in my department who never did that crap!  My family had money.  Check my records if you don’t believe me.”

She did, and found that Sergeant Hussein had appended a note confirming what Cellman had told her.  “So why didn’t you retire?  You could have just walked away from it all, but instead you’ve volunteered for one dangerous assignment after another.”

“I just hate injustice.  When I heard that X-Com was being reactivated to go after the bastards behind the Marie Celeste sinkings, I jumped at the chance!”

His record contained numerous commendations for his honesty as well as reports on his combat skills.  This explained why his transfer request had been approved: senior police officers always get nervous around an honest subordinate.  “All right, you’re in.  What do you know about what we’re up against here?”

“Only that X-Com is being reactivated to investigate the possibility of an alien connection to the sinkings.”

“It looks like your superiors have downplayed the situation.  We now know that the aliens have been destroying ships and aircraft across the planet for several years.  Their submarines have gained control over the oceans away from the continental shelves.  We’re at war, and so far we’re losing.”

“So it is a second invasion.”

“I think it is fairer to say that the first invasion never really ended.  The politicians wanted closure when Cydonia was taken, so we didn’t get to ask questions like whether the aliens came from somewhere else and just used Mars as a stopping off point.  We certainly never found any industrial facilities on that worthless dustball.  Then there was that whole business with the Martian moons in 2009, for once the conspiracy nuts were right, and now this.”

Cellman had never expected the woman tasked by the UN to lead the war to give such a grim assessment.  “So how can we fight them?”

“The aliens have lost the advantage of surprise.  And the squad you’ll be joining managed to capture one of the alien vessels the other day and our scientists are going to learn its secrets and use them against the aliens.  We also have some new weapons in development that should reduce the advantage the aliens have in battle.

“Leading Seaman Nielsen, who I believe is in the mess hall at the moment will give you a guided tour of the base and tell you what areas are off limits.  Now, if you would excuse me…”

He took the hint.  It was time to see what he had signed up for.


This time, it seemed as if there was a fair chance that the USO that had sparked the latest alert  when it was caught travelling in a northwards course nearly a hundred miles west of the base was alien in origin.  “I can’t make out anything with passive sensors,” said Jonathan Finn.  “Switching to active sonar and radar…  It’s small, no more than three metres across.  One man craft I’d say.  Probably unarmed.  What do you make of this telemetry, Alpha One?”

“Inconclusive.  Can you move closer to the object?”

“I’ll try,” said Finn as he moved his Barracuda to within half a mile of the USO.  “Damm, he’s trying to evade me.  Hang on.”

He spoke again a moment later.  “It’s pretty manoeuvrable, but not as fast as a Barracuda.”  It appeared to be manufactured to a similar style to the captured USO, but on a smaller scale.  “I think it’s an alien this time.”

“Confirmed.  You are clear to engage, repeat you are clear to engage.”

He remembered that the smaller alien craft were often destroyed by air to air missiles during the last war and that X-Com badly needed further alien artefacts for study.  “I think I can get it with the gas cannon,” he said.

He took his time matching his course and speed with that of the target, no easy matter in the rocky waters off the Outer Hebrides, and then opened fire.

#34 Dumb_Commander

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 01:29 PM

Previosly:

Leading Seaman Nielsen, who I believe is in the mess hall at the moment will give you a guided tour of the base and tell you what areas are off limits. Now, if you would excuse me..."

Cellman took the hint. It was time to see what he had signed up for.


-~-

Michael walked out from the commodore's ofice and headed to the mess hall, his toughts were calm and collected, tough they always turned a little fuzzy when he tought about the commodore.

I have to get over it. She is dead and I'm alive. Live on, damn it! Michael tought, his face a that time changed expressions from sadness to anger. The passing base personel stepped away from him.

When Cellman finaly got to the mess hall, he saw that some of the aquanauts were there some chating some eating. Before walking to one of the tables and asking, Michael had put up his unemotional mask on, tough his eyes never lost the emotion of sorrow. "Where is the Leading Seaman Nielsen?"

Probably it was just luck, but Cellman asked just the right person who he was searching.

"Right in front of you. What do you want?" came the reply from Nielson.

#35 Tepid tasoth

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 12:52 PM

Meanwhile, Troopi Hafner managed to find his bunk an unpacked his belongings. When he was done with it, he sat on his bunk and looked around. No one was around except him.
"So, this is my new home for a while. Guess I'm gonna make it some more confortable." he thought and took a furry Teddy bear out of his sea-bag, giving it a careful hug before putting it next to his pillow.  It was a birthday present from his parents when he turned three years old.
"Better get you out of view before someone laughs at me." He said to his furry buddy and hid it under his blanket.
Hafner got up to take a stroll around the base and get some food and a coffee. "Maybe I'll meet that funny French dude at the mess hall, naked again." he thought amused.

#36 Dumb_Commander

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 10:02 AM

"I've just had the talk with the Commodore and she had directed me to you for a tour of the base... and show what parts of the base are off limits and such... sir." as Mcihael said that Nielson looked him over and when he finished Nielson spoke.

"Sorry, can't do that. Just had an USO alert, I can only show where you will be bunking. Follow me..." with that Nielson proceeded to guide Cellman to his quarters. As he walked out Michael briefly saw a twenty years old or so German looking soldier walk into the mess hall.

---

"Here, you'll be bunking here with another guy. I think his name was Gerhard." with that Nielson left Michael to his own devices. Michael sat on another unoccupied bunk and looked around. Michael shrugged an upacked his meager belongings, just some minor accessories and a picture frame he put on his pillow face down. After that he headed back to the mess half to grab a bite to eat.

#37 Rasicar

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 11:16 PM

Wiping the condensation away from the mirror after he got out of a hot shower earlier in the morning seemed like a year away. He remembered looking at his, now almost slate grey hairline, and scarred face and vaguely remembered the young face that used to look back at him in the mirror when he was at Pine Gap, during the first war. The face had slowly changed over the course of the war as battle took its toll on Jack's body. He didn't recall exactly when he lost the young face of the fresh cadet that was brazen enough to take down a rifleman during practice; he was sure it wasn't when the blaster launcher had given him a scar on his face that made his nickname change from Ripper to Two-Face. In fact, he thought it was when he came home from Cydonia; one of the few that survived that mission with both their body and mind intact. But the innocence was gone when he mentally looked back at the cost of the war. Humanity had survived, but the cost was part of humanity's soul. That was proven when, after the alien menace had been countered, nothing changed. Countries went back to warring with one another over petty squabbles; there was no real unification of mankind.

The Cult of Sirius had also proven just how little the politicians and bureaucrats cared about preventing misinformation. The  aliens had proven that they were hostile from the get go. Cattle mutilations and abductions were just the start. Eventually they moved to a full invasion, and the cultists still insisted that they were our friends. After the battle between Sirius and the remaining X-Com battalion (that had secretly formed a para-military group called 'The Inquisitors') ended, there was little place left on this planet for old war heroes. Jack didn't want the fame of being a survivor, though he accepted the respect that came with it. But he feared dying sick in a bed and not on his feet. He spent the remaining years staying as combat ready and capable as he could. He knew that the head-shrinkers would probably have labeled him as suffering 'Bug Fever', a form of post-traumatic stress unique to the Cydonia assault survivors. He just considered it having something worth living for; now he just needed a new cause.

That cause came in the form of a phone call two days prior. He remembered it as well as he remembered how to field strip an X306 Plasma Rifle.

"Mr. Donovan?" a voice said.

"Who is this?" Donovan replied.

"My name is Ali Hussein. Is this Captain Jack Donovan?" Ali asked.

"Former Captain. I was discharged, what's this about and who are you?" Donovan asked.

"Yes, well. I don't know if you remember me. We served together in the Cydonia assault. We were from different locations though. You served at Pine Gap while I served at Unterkep in Deutschland. We met up in the alien base after the structural collapse. You saved my life."

Donovan had to dust off some cobwebs from his memory. He did recall a very young, mildly inexperienced Corporal that he had hauled out from underneath a large girder after a structure collapsed from a poorly aimed blaster bomb.

"That was a long time ago, but yes I do remember you. How have you been?" Donovan asked.

"I've done well enough. About as well as you did after they discharged us due to lack of funds."

Donovan remembered that day too well. He had just received a promotion to Captain when he was informed that that he was being honorably discharged from X-Com because the founding countries decided that their money would best be spent elsewhere.

"Anyway, I'm going to come straight to the point. What I'm about to tell you is considered Code Black, Top Secret, and any other eyes-only terms you can think of, so you must not repeat it to anyone at this time: X-COM has been reassembled and is in need of seasoned combat veterans. While you may not have much skill in diving, you survived Cydonia, and were one of the very few soldiers who started out at the beginning of the war and lived to see it's end. We would be foolish to let that skill go to waste. Your age may be a liability in some eyes, but I want to offer you this opportunity to come on board and at least have a shot at proving yourself. You are also one of the only original fighters still alive and in good enough shape to serve."

At that point, Donovan was not looking out of his eyes, he was almost seeing himself in third person; hovering right over his own shoulder. No sooner did Ali finish his statement then the words "I'm in" come out of Donovan's mouth.

"Mr. Donovan, you have to understand that this is only an invitation to see if you can pass the necessary tests. You'll be having to do things, that quite frankly, a body of your age has never tried. It is highly likely you will fail, possible that you will have a severe adverse reaction to the point of paralysis and, or, death."

"I may not know what rank you have now, but I would like to point out Corporal,  that if I pass the tests, I have a higher chance of dying. I will pass those tests. I may die afterwards, but at least it will be on my feet and not in a bed," Donovan said.

The rest of the phone call he couldn't remember; aside from chatting about old times and swapping war stories they also went over where he was supposed to go and who he was supposed to report to. He came to like Hussein during that call and was looking forward to meeting him at some point.

That was two days ago. Now he was just getting off a transport ship with a duffel bag slung over his shoulder and a fresh, familiar military cut on top of his head. He knew that he would pass whatever tests they had given him. There was no way that he wouldn't. He was glad that he enjoyed swimming, though he'd never fought under the water. At least he finally felt alive for the first time in years.


He didn't speak with the other people in the transport. He kept to himself, reading a book and going over the information and reports that he had requested Hussein send him. While he was keeping his Captain rank in X-Com, he knew coming in as an untrained officer wouldn't fly with the base commander, so he requested a ordinary uniform with a rookie rank; he used his real rank to get eyes-only information so he could know exactly what was going on - he hated being in the dark. In his periphery he did notice the other recruits periodically stare at his horribly scarred face, but none of them bothered saying a word to him. He was fine. He'd get to know them eventually; he was more interested in the sit-rep he was reading.

When the lift to the surface reached bottom to the main part of the base, there was a klaxon going off and red lights were flashing. Something was definitely going on. Rather then track down the base commander, he wandered around the base before he finally the barracks and an empty rack between two filled bunks. He tossed his duffle and started unpacking, putting stuff in his footlocker and some books on a stand right next to the rack. Though he didn't know, this was the bunk that previously belonged to Goldstein. While the siren was blaring, he kept reading; eventually feeling the urge for some chow, he put the eyes-only file in his pillowcase and wandered off to find some food.




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