TFTD Fan Fiction

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#1 Dumb_Commander


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Posted 30 March 2006 - 02:51 PM

Terror from the Deep, Collaborative Fan-fiction.
Chapter I

#2 The Veteran

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 06:24 PM

It was a strange kind of day, Captain Benjamin Briggs was aboard the ship he had piloted for nearly twelve years now but he was restless. The Trans-Atlantic Liner Hyperion was the third of three new sister ships constructed by Cunard Line to sail the seas that divided America from the Eastern world. Hyperion's sister ships Gaea and Uranus, named from the mythical parents of the Hyperion's titanic namesake, had been sailing the Atlantic ocean for nearly twenty years, making Captain Briggs' liner very much the youngster of the trio.

The Captain knew where his unrest stirred from but today he felt particularly on edge. What with modern technology and the extreme levels of health and safety that the 20s had ushered in, there had been no naval mishaps of any kind for nearly fifteen years, save a few uncharted fishing boats and trawlers. The commercial seafaring industries seemed near untouchable, even by nature itself.

So why then the sudden increase in naval fatalaties thought Captain Briggs... Since the start of 2039, even slightly before, vessels had begun to vanish without a trace. Some had been discovered weeks later, deserted and empty. Others had left behind vast floating memorials as they apparently disappeared beneath the waves. Even more however had simply vanished, without time for even an SOS.

Of late, the Atlantic seemed to be possessed. Some sailors blamed the Bermuda triangle, others blamed international terrorists, but most blamed another source altogether... Since the end of the Alien war at the dawn of the twenty-first century, there had been an uneasy peace. The planet was overpopulated and polluted with unemployment at an all time high. Many countries had simply failed to survive after the governments of their more powerful neighbours practically denied their existence. But there was peace, mostly...

Only several years ago a newly surfaced 'religion' calling themselves the Cult of Sirius had begun worshipping the alien invaders of the twentieth century and even launched deep space probes inviting them to return now that XCom was no more. Much of what had remained of XCom had been lost when The Inquisitors clashed with the Cult in a mighty 'holy war'. Many of the war's heroes were lost and both sides were decimated in the ensuing bloodshed.

Many people were now becoming incresingly anxious that the Cult's messages had not fallen on deaf ears. Pilots of the sky and sea alike had seen colleagues simply disappear off the face of the earth in recent years and very few of them were buying the scientific explanation of 'magnetic anomalies' and 'freak storms'.

Captain Briggs was not a superstitious man, he had been born a year after the alien invasion and so had been left largely unaffected by its occurence. The world now was no different to what he knew as a child. True, it was becoming more frequent that the rain would burn and when he was a child his father had been allowed the use a private vehicle but on the whole, much had stayed the same.

Now as the sun began to meet the ocean, Captain Briggs leant out over the bow of his magnificent ship and sighed silently to himself. Perhaps he'd never know what was happening to the world around him, in fact he was quite sure that he didn't actually want to know...

The Captain watched the sun sink and passed an eye over the steady sea around him. It was calmer than normal, he was quite relieved to see a glimmer of something emerge briefly from under the waves. It bobbed again, up and down, travelling alongside the ship.

He smiled to himself as he watched the Hyperion's new companion rise and sink off the port bow. It was said that dolphins were good luck, perhaps this was a break for Captain Briggs. Maybe he could finally stop worrying about the world around him and get back to the world he used to enjoy.

Staring out to sea, he strained to make out any features that would suggest his luck was up but it seemed more like a whale than a dolphin. Smooth backed, slightly scaled even, it was too far off to tell. The Captain leant back off the railings and stretched as if to touch his highest mast, then looked back out to sea.

Whatever had been accompanying the ship it was gone, to hunt perhaps...

It soon reappeared, nearer to the ship and it drew more than a gasp from Captain Briggs. It was no dolphin, that was for sure. No whale either by the looks of it. The surface wasn't scaled, it was panelled, much like the hull of his very own ship but a sandy seabed colour...

The Captain watched as this small submersible floated alongside his own ship, wondering who else had seen it. A pale green light was emenating from the front of the craft just under the water, spotlights or portholes perhaps...

Captain Briggs stood stock still as the vessel slowly fell away from his liner. It drifted to the aft of the ship and then seemed to stop as the Hyperion sailed away from it. Looking back along the length of his vessel Captain Briggs could see a line of passengers and several crew lining the galleries and promenades watching the strange vessel now some distance away.

Suddenly snapping out of the trance he had succumbed to Captain Briggs turned from the strange view and descended a deck to the radio room to inform someone of this peculiar vessel, though he wasn't entirely sure who.

The submersible had continued to follow the Hyperion several hundred meters astern as if in tow and now was drawing a massive crowd. As the Captain attempted to compose a message to be sent something began to happen to the Hyperion's stalker...

The gathered crowd gasped in amazement, some fled in terror, as the pale glow flared up to a blinding green pulse of light. The light shone for several seconds before being released from whatever device produced it and flying towards the Hyperion's stern gliding through the water like a bird through the air.

An almighty panic ensued throughout the watching passengers and Captain Briggs sped out of the radio room just in time to see the green flare skim past the Hyperion's rudder and off to her starboard side.

As he watched in utter amazement the submersible began to glow again and Captain Briggs dived back into the radio room, snatching the transmitting equipment from the crewman seated there.

Opening an emergency channel to all listening frequencies Captain Briggs called his SOS just as he saw the second projectile coming straight for the Hyperion's bow.

"Mayday! Mayday! This is the Trans-Atlantic Liner Hyperion! We are under attack! Mayday! Mayd..."

The captain's last cry was never to be heard. The blinding ball of light struck the vessel directly below the bridge with a following explosion that tore the bow clear off. A blinding green flash hung in the air for minutes as the vessel slowly foundered, flooding from the front back...

Passengers and crew at the back of the vessel were throwing themselves off the ship shouting and screaming, panic filled the air as the ship dissapeared beneath the waves. The ship sinking too fast for lifeboats, passengers and crew alike clutched onto whatever they could find in a vain attempt to stay afloat once they hit the water.

Even as the glow faded from the sky the keel lifted from the waves and the first surviving funnel disappeared below them. The annihilated bow slowly sunk in shards and sections, relieving any survivors of their much needed floats.

Within ten minutes the Hyperion was gone, taking most of its passengers and crew with it. Those who had survived slowly lost grip on the flotsam they clinged to and lost their fight with the waves. With the sun now lost, the bitter cold of the deep dark Atlantic ocean began to gnaw at even the hardiest survivors.

Help never came to those who escaped the Hyperion. As night set in, the last survivor succumbed to fatigue and slipped silently into the waves. His lifebelt floated eerily on the surface, the only remainder of one of the twenty-first centuries finest vessels gone to an early grave.

They were back...
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#3 Accounting Troll

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 05:09 PM

By the time a rescue effort could be organised, it was too late for the crew and the passengers of the Hyperion.  It wasn't as if they hadn't tried; only the very rich could afford a luxury cruise on the Hyperion or its sister ships, and such people have a lot of political influence.  In December, hypothermia can kill in a matter of minutes in the cold waters of the North Atlantic.  It was therefore unsurprising that European Airforce seaplanes and rescue helicopters failed to find a single survivor.

When Triton-1 approached the wreck of the Hyperion over thirty hours after the disaster, its crew were under no illusions.  The purpose of this mission was not to locate and rescue any survivors, but to try to find out why one of the largest passenger ships in the world had sunk so quickly in good weather conditions, taking over three thousand people to a watery grave.

It was impossible to believe that the recent spate of what the international media had dubbed the "Mary Celeste sinkings", even though the whole point of the Mary Celeste was that it hadn't sunk, could be down to anything other than hostile action.  The question was who was responsible.

Every national government had denied responsibility and pointed to the list of ships and aircraft it had lost.  Quite a few terrorist groups had claimed responsibility for each sinking, but this was a pathetically obvious attempt to get some publicity for their cause.  Some of the more sensationalist news services were claiming that the aliens had recommenced their long aborted invasion, a theory that seemed to be supported by the testimony of the few traumatised survivors.

In an odd sort of way, Able Seaman Mark Reynolds hoped that it was the aliens.  If the crew of Triton-1 learned that a human faction was responsible for the Mary Celeste sinkings, a global nuclear war would probably be the result.  He particularly hoped that it wasn't the militant Welsh nationalists; being Welsh was hard these days because of all the nationalist terrorist attacks on public buildings throughout the European Syndicate.

"Okay, we'll be landing in five minutes," said the co-pilot over the intercom.  "Get suited up."

Mark went through the last minute checks of his diving suit and breathing apparatus before putting on the stuffy helmet.  He also made sure that his dart gun and the spare ammunition clips were securely attached to his utility belt.  Despite the name, he was well aware that the dart gun was effectively a crossbow designed to work underwater.  When all eight members of the squad indicated that they were ready, the passenger compartment was flooded, leaving the pilot and co-pilot snugly behind a water tight door.

Several divers left the Triton, each heading to a different part of the wreck. Mark turned on the integral light on his diving suit before he stepped onto the sea floor after them.  Although it was the middle of the afternoon on the surface, very little sunlight got through to 300 fathoms.  The seascape in front of him was dominated by what was left of the aft section of the ship.

"What the hell could have done that?" asked Able Seaman Brian Goldstein over the suit radio, as he stood next to Mark while taking photographs of the wreckage.  "And shouldn't there be more bodies in the area?"

That got Mark worried.  A lot of people would have been in the water around the ship, where they would have been sucked down when it sank.  And it wasn't as if the rescue flotilla had found any floating bodies.  Although scavengers such as hagfish would eventually eat the bodies, this process normally took months.

Mark and Brian walked up to the aft section of the ship, getting close to the area of the hull breach.  As Brian took more photographs, Mark gently rested his hand on the hull in wonderment, only the section to crumble away, leaving a two metre wide hole.  "That was inch thick steel," he said in astonishment.  "But it was no stronger than paper that had gone brittle with age."

"You guys had better get some samples so we can look at them in the lab," said Scott Gasvin.

"Hey, where's all the barnacles?" came the voice of Peterson.  "I can see the marks on the paintwork, but they must have just fallen off.  That sort of thing just doesn't happen."

"Are you sure?" asked Goldstein.

"The amount of time I've spent scraping barnacles off the Triton, not to mention the base?  Course I'm damm sure"

"Triton, did you just get that on your monitor?" came the voice of Jake Burton.  "There's something moving around there.  It's human shaped, but it's small, and it has a large head like a child.  I can't make it out clearly at this distance though.  I'm taking a closer look."

"Well there aren't any other divers in the vicinity," said Gasvin.  "It's probably just an octopus."

"I've seen enough octopuses to know that they don't walk around on two legs," said Burton.  "I think there's a couple of others walking around there.  One of them almost looks as if it's holding something.  If only I could see more clearly... Holy! Are you picking up these creatures on my cam?  He then screamed violently for several seconds.

"Burton?  What happened?" asked Gasvin.  Silence!  "The rest of you, find him and bring him back to the Triton."

Another crewman screamed in agony as his bones were jellified by some mysterious weapon that must have been far more powerful than the dart guns carried by the crew.

"Kill your lights, we're under attack" shouted Mark as he fumbled for his dart gun.

"Who by?" asked Gasvin.

"I don't know"

#4 The Veteran

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 07:26 PM

Mark and Brian had stayed together as two of the higher ranking Able Seamen on the Triton. Scott Gavsin and Dale Petersen had also joined together but as Seamen they were less experienced than Mark and Brian. They moved slowly and cautiously, more than a little anxious as to what they might find.

Another pair of seamen, Richard Pritchard and Peter Brines were already inside the Hyperion's broken hull. Already several hundred meters from the Triton and with no clear view of it they were already slightly afraid at the prospect of hostile contact in the vicinity.

Two more able seamen completed the Triton's full compliment for what was supposed to be a routine reconnaissance mission. Matthew Gardna and Andrew Munt were both less than thrilled to be caught up in the middle of any excitement at all, both being nearly as lazy as the other. But now it couldn't be avoided they were both switching on rather too rapidly for their liking.

With Burton and his team mate Joseph Crawley already wounded or possibly worse the remaining eight men were left with a large area to cover in low visibility and with a hostile presence. Add to that the freezing cold water and uncomfortable diving gear and it was no wonder these men weren't best pleased to be here.

Able Seaman Reynolds was the first to take some kind of control over the situation and after a brief check of his heads-up display he decided the two stray seamen were the teams first priority. Pritchard and Brines were already inside the Hyperion, now with several hundred feet of corridor between them and the missing bow.

Gasvin and Peterson were near to Reynolds and Goldstein as it was, their lights were still visible. Mark opened a channel to the two inexperienced aquanauts and firstly advised that they extinguish their torches and secondly that they make their way to himself and Brian.

The other two more senior divers, Munt and Gardna, were headed off in a completely different direction to the other teams altogether. On exiting the Triton Matthew had seen a green glow in the distant murk of the ocean. It had faded to nothing now but he was certain it hadn't moved so the team were now moving to investigate it.

From where the Triton had stopped, the Hyperion was directly ahead to the West. Brines and Pritchard who were now attempting to leave the wreck were approximately 300 meters from the craft and Reynolds and Goldstein were slightly southwest of the Triton, only 200 meters from the Hyperion.

Peterson and Gasvin were to the North of the Triton making their way south towards the Able Seamen near the Triton while Munt and Gardna were now almost 250 meters south of the Triton on what was possibly a wild goose chase. Unfortunately both divers would rather find nothing than meet what caught up with Burton and Crawley. At least if they did find this glow it probably wouldn't kill them they thought!

As Gasvin and Peterson came into view of Reynolds and Goldstein, Mark waved his dart gun above his head, something made rather difficult by the ocean around him. The four aquanauts made their way towards each other, converging almost directly east of the Hyperion's wreck.

After almost ten minutes of eerily silent comm. channels Mark opened a link to the stranded divers to the West for a status check.

"Richard? Pete? This is Mark, how are you guys doing? Are you out of the wreck yet?"

The line crackled for a moment before a reply came. "Hey Mark, we can see the ocean again now, we're literally feet from being outside but I think I see some movement"

Mark knew Peter Brines, even over the godawful comms that Xcom scavenged when they returned to Alpha-01 to take over from SORESO. Since SORESO's owner F. Denman Williams had begun preparing for war himself, he'd been drawing a lot of high ranking government attention. Besides, noone even believed the rumours of alien invasion except Williams himself so exactly who he was planning to fight was a mystery...

Williams had been profiting greatly from the mysterious sinkings of the recent years. They not only gave him a defence against the losses he was encurring personally but also provided a wealth of salvage that no other company could reach. This and other things made many government and military officials think that perhaps personal glory was more of an incentive to the man than global wellbeing.

By the time Xcom was authorised to take control it was well known that Williams was missing more than a few barnacles below the waterline!  The number of experimental craft he was losing was increasing everytime he produced a new prototype and with each loss claiming five divers he had been getting a lot of unwanted attention.

Williams was finally removed from power when one of his prototypes imploded spectacularly at a demonstration he'd laid on to encourage funding from the 16 powers. Late in 2039 the SORESO craft Khimtar had also been lost, near the Titanic in the Northern Atlantic. Nearly two months later, The Pentagon received a belated distress call from the vessels captain. It concluded simply "I think they're back"

Now with the Hyperion in view and two men missing, presumed dead, Mark was beginning to wonder if maybe that message hadn't been the hoax that the world had labelled it as.  After all, here he was!
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#5 Accounting Troll

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 05:47 PM

Mark thought for a brief moment.  Countries were blaming each other for the Marie Celeste sinkings, and China had nearly gone to war with America back in July when the Zedong, a 240,000 tonne air/sub carrier had disappeared on its shakedown cruise.  Only the sinking of the USS Jeb Bush in similar circumstances had convinced China that America was innocent.  And the Syndicate had already publicly blamed Egypt for the Hyperion disaster.  This was the world's best chance of proving who was responsible for the attacks, and they had to take it even if it meant more casualties.

"Richard, Pete, don't say anything unless you have to but keep your radios on, I don't want you to be overheard.  Whatever you saw wasn't one of us, so it must be one of the terrorists.  Take him out if you can, and then get back to the Triton with his body and equipment before his mates turn up.

"Munt, what's your status?"

"There's defiantly something big out there.  I think it's the enemy sub."

"Okay, see if you two can get close enough to take some pictures, and then get back as quick as you can.

"Goldstein, you and Peterson had better see if you can find out what happened to Burton and Crawley.  Be careful as their attackers might still be out there.  Gasvin, you and me are going to help out Richard and Pete.  I don't need to remind you guys to stay in sight of your partner."  Mark wished that there was an officer around to make these decisions for him, but they were all too busy sipping fine wine in the officer's mess.  Still, at least the inexperienced Peterson and Gasvin would have experienced partners and everybody still had plenty of oxygen.

Seamen Brines and Pritchard heard something moving down the corridor, so they decided to hide in what had once been a luxury cabin.  When the terrorist passed by the open doorway, they swiftly despatched him with their dart guns.  Peterson turned on his suit light to get a look at the terrorist, and what he saw shocked both himself and Brines.

"It's a frigging Sectoid" shouted Pritchard over the radio.

"Could you repeat that?" asked Reynolds.

"We've shot a Sectoid"

"Are you sure about this?" asked Goldstein

"I've seen plenty of photographs, to say nothing of the pickled Sectoids in the Imperial War Museum.  This one looks a bit different, but it's still a Sectoid.  But it doesn't have a diving suit, so how could it survive down here?"

"How can it survive at all?" asked Brines.  "The Alien War ended decades ago"

Now Mark was really worried.  There was a common misconception, carefully encouraged by the governments, that the aliens had been utterly destroyed in the war.  Three years after the Battle of Cydonia, X-Com had detected a group of alien bases on Phobos, one of the two asteroids orbiting Mars.  Three Avengers, nicknamed the Judge, the Jury and the Executioner had carried a taskforce to Phobos to defeat the aliens and recover their technology.  Three quarters of the personnel in the taskforce were killed before all eight alien bases on Phobos fell.  Was it possible that they had missed other alien bases, thus giving the aliens time to regroup?

"Okay you two, take the Sectoid body and any artefacts on its person, and get back to the Triton immediately."  The body would be weightless in the water, and if they could recover it, they would be able to prove that aliens were behind the sinkings.

A moment later, Goldstein spoke.  "I've found Crawley's body.  Oh god, it's like all his bones have turned to jelly"

"Okay, bring him back," said Mark.  There didn't seem to be any further point in looking for Burton.  "Munt, Gardna, I think it's time for us to get out of here."

"Give us another few minutes," said Munt as quietly as he could.  "We can just about make out the enemy sub.  I'm getting lots of pictures here."

"Look at that," said Gardna a moment later.  "Those sick bastards are hauling away the bodies from the Hyperion.  Why the hell would they do that?"  He had known that there would be some stomach churning sights, after all, the Hyperion had only gone down the previous day and scavenging species such as the hagfish would need longer to do their work.  But nothing could have prepared him for the ghastly sight of aliens piling up the bodies of people who had recently been enjoying a luxurious ocean cruise.

At that point, the alien submarine emitted a ray of greenish light as bright as a naval searchlight, illuminating and Munt and Gardna in full view of the alien crew, who promptly began to fire at them.  There was no possibility of returning fire with any accuracy as they were both dazzled by the light, so they decided to make a strategic withdrawal back to the Triton.

As they started swimming back, Munt was narrowly clipped by the corona of a sonic beam; he was unharmed but shaken by the noise.  Gardna was less lucky; two sonic beams caught him in the torso, killing him within seconds.

Goldstein and Peterson heard Gardna's death scream as they manhandled Crawley's unpleasantly limp body back to the Triton.  "Triton, get ready, we're going to want to leave in a hurry" shouted Goldstein through his radio.  He knew that there was no way they could win this fight; the best they could hope for would be to escape without any further losses.

#6 The Veteran

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 08:11 PM

"Matthew" Andrew turned in the water to be faced with no more a body than jumpsuit... Gardna had been posted at XCom's underwater facility almost as long as he had and seeing him extinguished so quickly was unbearable.

Andrew reached out to Matthew's outstretched hand but his body simply sailed gently to the seabed, a small cloud of dust silently echoing his fall.

Mortified though he was, Andrew knew staying still for too long would see him dead too. He half ran, half swam, all as fast as he physically could. The diving gear was heavy, cumbersome and now only just keeping out the water where the first shot had barely missed him.

Goldstein and Petersen were already at the Triton with Crawley's jellified body by the time another scream was heard.

Brines had been dropped by another bizarre alien attack and lost with him were a host of alien items as Pritchard preceded to race for the triton.

Munt arrived back at the Triton absolutely exhausted but it was certainly worth the rush to avoid a similar fate to Gardna... Pritchard was the last to arrive back at the Triton, half carying, half dragging the only alien casualty to their four human losses.

Pritchard was hauled through the Triton's cargo bay doors by several waiting hands all eager to leave and the hatch closed behind him almost before he was through it.

No sooner were they shut than the Triton was mobile, the pilot no keener to meet these creatures than the other six men who'd escapped alive...

As the craft accelerated and ascended to the warmer, shallower waters of the atlantic, the cargo bay emptied and the decompression sequence began.

Pritchard, who was amazingly still standing, threw his travelling partner to the ground by his feet, face down, bloody darts up... Goldstein had set down Crawley's body before the Triton had left the seabed but now found himself lying disturbingly close to his former colleages missing organs. He sat up rather sharply...

As the other divers came to their feet and either grabbed a handrail or took a seat, the Triton left the sea and entered the air... Now that the quality of ride had improved, it was time to be sick, and Andrew was first to succumb...

Tearing off his helmet, he quickly deposited what looked eerily similar to Crawleys missing body parts in a neat pile on the floor. He coughed once or twice then fell backwards into the nearest seat.

Pritchard also removed his helmet, wiping his brow and sighing for a million different reasons. Goldstein, still beside the ex-aquanaut Crawley, kept his helmet firmly on and closed his eyes as tight as biology allowed. Until they got back to base, he just didn't want to know...

Gavsin clearly agreed but having an apparently rather low level of control over quite what level of consciousness he desired, he simply fell over...

Petersen sat down and removed his helmet, eyes going from human corpse to alien corpse... Mark just stared out of the window. The sun was rising, a new day... A new world... A new war...
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Posted 28 April 2006 - 05:46 PM

The UN investigative committee studying the Marie Celeste sinkings reached the base by helicopter less than two hours after the return of Triton-1.  The video evidence acquired by the surviving crewmen, their testimony and the autopsy report convinced the committee that they had an alien situation on their hands.

Alpha Base was the only facility on the planet that was ready for immediate action against the alien threat.  It was equipped with an advanced passive sonar system, a Triton, two Barracuda hybrid attack subs, and numerous personnel including ten scientists, ten engineers, and eight surviving aqaunoughts.  The only problem was that it still technically owned by F. Denman Williams.

The eccentric software tycoon had made a fortune in the years after the alien war through marketing new computer systems loosely based on alien technology; employing some of the scientists laid off by X-Com had been a highly profitable investment.  However, his business acumen seemed to have deserted him in recent years; he had squandered much of his fortune on his ongoing efforts to search the ocean floors.  Ironically, he had sold the research on the failed Khimtar project to a rival corporation a price that represented a tiny faction of what he had spent on the project.  They corrected the design flaws and used the research to develop the Triton.

It was widely suspected that F. Denman Williams was more interested in his quest for personal glory and making money from alien technology than in stopping the aliens.  Such a person could not be allowed to be associated with X-Com.  The result was a carefully worded ultimatum.

If he handed control of SORESO over to the UN with immediate effect, he would be able to retire into obscurity on his private estates.  He would be allowed to give a face saving speech to the news services stating that he had initiated this change upon the discovery that aliens were behind the sinkings, and only through international cooperation could the aliens be defeated.  History would remember him as the man whose vision had saved humanity's first line of defence against alien invaders from the accountants - a far more formidable enemy.

However, if he refused, the UN would prosecute him through the World Courts for negligence and deliberately withholding information that had led to the deaths of the passengers and crew of the Hyperion.  He would certainly be executed because they would arrange for the trial judge to be someone sympathetic to their aims.

Faced with permanent disgrace, something he feared even more than death itself, he immediately capitulated to the committee.  Besides, this was only for now; he would find a way to regain his rightful position of supreme commander of X-Com and saviour of mankind.

Thomas Ferguson, the American representative on the committee very much doubted that a man as obsessive as F. Denman Williams would give up that easily.  He would probably come up with some sad little plot to retake control of X-Com, or at least to severely embarrass the UN at a time when global unity was called for.  However, all national governments knew how to arrange for such a person to quietly meet with an unfortunate 'accident'.  He wondered which country would be the one to carry out the assassination.

The committee was now listening to Able Seaman Munt, who was arguing that the X-Com charter should be revived to deal with the aliens.  It was necessary to obtain unanimous backing from the sixteen nations of the UN to reactivate X-Com.  While the boys at SORESO were ready to have another go at the aliens, they would need diplomatic permission to enter territorial waters.  Also, filtering out alien craft from the tens of thousands of human ships ploughing the ocean waves would be impossible unless X-Com had access to data from national surveillance systems.

"Up until the Hyperion went down, you all thought that the Marie Celeste sinkings were down to international terrorists or a rogue nation," said Able Seaman Munt.  "You let your citizens think the aliens were back because it was better than having them demand revenge on the next country over.  Nobody wants a nuclear war.  But now everything's changed because we've proved that the aliens are back.  If you don't reactivate X-Com, most of you will have a civil war on your hands inside a year"

"I believe that all the SORESO employees are from the European Syndicate or America, and this base is, of course, just off the European Atlantic coast.  What assurances do the people of Free China have that X-Com will not spy on our military secrets?"

He had known that somebody would ask that question, but he had been surprised that it was the Chinese delegate in view of their flagrant theft of foreign technology in recent decades.  "X-Com was a multinational outfit last time round.  And it was directly supervised by a specialist UN committee.  I suggest you continue this policy."

"Assuming we reactivate X-Com to fight the aliens, how do you plan to proceed?" asked the Egyptian delegate.

"Over to you, Mark," said Munt.

"Thank you.  Our biggest barrier to putting up an effective defence against the aliens is that we don't have enough data to work on, but we have worked out a plan to deal with that.  So far, most of the alien attacks have occurred in the North Atlantic, the North Pacific and the Artic Ocean.  This means that the aliens must be travelling between the Atlantic and the Pacific via the Artic as it's a long journey the other way.  Assuming that they prefer to stay below the thermocline layer to avoid detection whenever possible, this means they must be using the deeps between Rockall in the British Isles and Iceland.  I propose that we establish a line of sonar buoys between Rockall and Iceland.  Any alien submarine entering the Atlantic can then be intercepted by the two Barracudas at our base.

"We will also establish other bases at choke points such as the straights between Alaska and Eurasia to restrict the alien movements and speed up our response time to alien incidents.

"Eventually we will figure out how the alien technology works and use it against them.  Until then I recommend that ships avoid the deeps and travel in convoys protected by the military whenever possible."  He had the scientist's knack for taking a proposal a little bit further than most people were willing to accept.

"Impossible," roared the Brazilian delegate.  "You would have us cripple international trade.  Have you any idea how many trillions of dollars your idea would cost?"  Some of the other delegates were nodding their agreement.

Up until that point, Ferguson had been thinking about recommending that Reynolds would be given supreme command of X-Com as it wasn't as if anybody else had any ideas for fighting the aliens apart from nuking the deeps at random, and to hell with the environmental consequences.  However, they would clearly need an experienced military leader with a proven ability to handle politicians.  "I believe the point is moot.  Most people now realise that the aliens have established their control over the oceans.  They know that our ships are entirely at the mercy of an alien civilization that doesn't understand the concept.  Who the hell is going to sail the oceans now without military protection?  The only way you can stave off economic depression is to reactivate X-Com."

That argument proved to be the clincher with the politicians.  A global economic downturn would anger the corporate sponsors of the political parties in power across the world.  The sponsors would then switch their support to political parties that promised to pursue an aggressive policy towards the aliens.

By the unanimous agreement of the UN, the X-Com charter would officially into force again on 1st January 2041 at 00.00 hours GMT, with Alpha Base becoming the first X-Com base.  Its passive sonar system picked up their first USO four hours later!

#8 Zager



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Posted 08 May 2006 - 02:10 AM

"Though I realize that you are not the same group of IDIOTS who disregarded my warning forty years ago, I still believe that this is an appropriate juncture for me to say that I told you so," Dr Zager snapped. Changed in many ways since the first alien war, Dr Zager still had the same, mad gleam in his eyes that betrayed his supreme intellect. He was seated in a wheelchair at a meeting of the funding nations of X-COM. A bald man in a green tunic was standing behind the wheelchair. He had the same purple eyes and cybernetic enhancements of Dr Zager, marking him as a psionic. The fact that he was obviously no older than twenty-five, coupled with the fact that psionics had been banned for over thirty years, indicated how little Zager cared for the international laws of the land.

"This council does not have to put up with your-" the American delegate started to say, as other delegates started to mutter.

"As a matter of fact, you do," interrupted Zager. "Cane" His disciple handed him a cane, which he then proceeded to slam down on the table with a loud crack.

"You need me. I warned the council that there was an even greater threat than the Alien Brain after we killed it, but they refused to believe me. It's just like a politician to ignore a threat until it's staring him in the face. We could have prevented it  from ever coming this far if you followed my orders forty years ago."

"We have ordered you here because your knowledge of the aliens," said the European delegate, trying to regain control of the conference.

"You did not order me. You made a request, which I honored, beause I feel that I have something to gain from this. You are under the delusion that I need you or the rest of humanity."

Thirty years of working on his own vision of the perfect human society obviously hadn't improved Dr Zager's temperment.

"Here are my terms. I will be named chief scientist of X-COM. I will be allowed to bring the personnel and equipment from my base to X-COM to use as I see fit. Me and my team will be allowed unlimited access to any remaining stockpiles of both Elerium and pre-war technology. You will accept these terms because you have no other choice. I am the only one with the knowledge to save you."

"As a gesture of goodwill, I will make available the schematics for a prototype univeral, non-elerium powered plasma gun that should function underwater. I developed the theory a number of years ago, but I have no need for such devices at my research laboratory."

It took the council thirty minutes of deliberation, but the result wasn't in doubt. Dr Zager became X-COM's new chief scientist.

#9 The Veteran

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 02:11 AM

The klaxon had been sounding for several minutes but to say not everyone was certain of their current duties would have been an understatement! The meagre gathering of people who were actually currently stationed at Alpha-01 had been attempting to hold some semblance of a New Year bash, needless to say it had been cut short!

Obviously now that XCom was officially active there was a strict alcohol ban in the mess hall where the do was being held but who was really expecting a confirmed contact so soon. That is to say, most of the supposedly combat ready team was currently slightly worse for wear...

Thankfully the duty pilot for the day was slightly less social than most and though he was enjoying their company and the atmosphere of the party, he'd supped slightly less of the amber nectar than the rest of the base's compliment.

As a result, by quarter past four, less than ten minutes after the alert, Jonathon Finn was already kitted up and ready to launch in Barracuda-01...

The story for the Triton's compliment was very different however. Only six members of her original crew had survived the first encounter at the Hyperion and no funding or means had as yet been made available to XCom for additional recruitment procedures.

This had left arrangements hazy at best amongst most of the crew. By the time Barracuda-01 was on its way out to sea, the Triton was still sat in dock all on its own...

In the Barracuda's dock the tanoy sounded as a loud clear voice carried out a one way conversation with the crafts pilot.

"External docking bays are now open," the voice called out into the hangar. "Barracuda-01 your mission is go, repeat your mission is go."

This was enough for Jonathon and he immediately flooded his craft's ballast tanks, diving the craft below the water in the massive swimming pool of a dock. A walkway surrounded the central pool of water that housed the Barracuda when it was idle and currently most of the new years party were surrounding it watching intently as the craft disappeared from sight.

As Finn took the Barracuda into the docking tube that led out into the Atlantic ocean several members of the Triton's compliment arrived through corridors from various adjoining facilities, all looking as bemused as each other. Slowly they gathered themselves together and debated where they should be and what they should do.

Even as they did so Jonathon was passing the passageways to the other two docks at Alpha base and he could now see the final exit from the bases underwater corridors. He didn't pretend to know how the Barracuda worked, super-heated laser engines they told him but he'd only ever heard of laser propulsion in space...

He didn't care, he just accelerated as quickly as he could. Within seconds he had become the fastest travelling aquatic mass in the oceans of the world. Almost... Somewhere off the east coast of America was XCom's first USO, and it was travelling a damn sight faster than Finn's Barracuda!

It was almost half past four when the Triton's full compliment had finally got organised, equipped and assembled in the Triton's docking facility. Their diving suits were all onboard which had made life easier, and judging by the state of several seamen it had probably saved at least ten minutes too.

While Alpha-01 lacked a commander or any real form of organisation to speak of it had obviously been functioning adequately for the last few years. Unfortunately that was before there were aliens, interstellar conflict and worldwide catastrophe looming over a once again oblivious planet...

Right now a very frantic Sergeant Nielsen was trying to make something of the mess in front of him. Six men and an unknown enemy with far superior weapons and presumably armour and craft to boot... He really wasn't expecting to see any of the men in front of him or the Triton ever again but they had to try. Even though they had been caught off guard, they had to  at least try...

"Right guys, I don't really know if there's anything I can say to prepare you for this so I'm just going to come out and say what needs saying... You've all seen these creeps before and we've already beaten them once. Now its time to clean up the oceans too."

The Sergeant turned to a man behind him, some of the seamen recognised him from their wanders in the workshops. He took a harpoon gun off the man and turned back to the Triton's crew.

"I know you're probably all petrified to go back out there after the Hyperion but we're already making slow progress. On such short notice there was very little time to prepare but we have some new weapons for you. The dart guns you had before may have taken one of these aliens by surprise but I sure as hell wouldn't want to be left in hostile waters with just that for defence so here's your upgrade."

He brought up the weapon so the troops could all see it. It was certainly more imposing than the pistol version they'd had. It would have been hard to stop a dinghy with one of them... To all intents and purposes, this was an underwater rifle that fired foot long steel barbs at immense pressures.

Truth be told they had been acquired slightly illegally by XCom after a routine patrol had discovered a well established whaling rig in the North Pacific. Most hunting and gathering had been banned years ago, even certain methods of agriculture had been prohibited.

Still, right now noone cared where they came from, all they saw was a nice new shiny yellow harpoon gun that looked more than a little painful to its recipient. The sergeant explained the simplicity of the weapon, similar to the dart gun, twice as good in every way. It also provided automatic fire for those hairy situations when things just don't want to die!

There were fourteen of these new weapons on board, one for everyone who should be there, but two for everyone who actually was there. This was including the groups newest addition, Alexander Milne. He'd been stationed at Alpha-01 for some time in craft maintenance but he'd recently decided he'd like to get out of the base and join the recon team. Unfortunately for Alex, this was now the combat team, but he seemed happy enough so far...

By now, the engineer who had brought out the harpoon for Sergeant Nielsen had returned with an interesting and very confusing looking remote control. Every so often he would step back through into the next room to coax his new toy into the dock.

Eventually it emerged and although it was something most of the present seamen had seen before, they were all quite surprised to see it again. The small orange vehicle before them was generally used in aquatic mining but this particular one was one of Denman's SORESO modifications, it still bore the name on the side.

The personnel who were familiar with the machine had named it Bubbles due to the endless amount it produces once submerged and active. If nothing else though it could be used as some form of aquatic smoke screen! Denman had attached two harpoon launchers and a metal cutting disk namely intended for use on alien hulls. At a little over four foot square it wasn't all that imposing but it made everyone feel better when it was loaded into the Triton behind them...

Finally everything was go, it was 5am and the Triton was loaded and cleared, the pilot now awaited the same clearance that Finn had needed less than an hour ago.

In that hour however, Finn himself had been more than slightly speeding, he was downright playing... Jonathon was never a pilot, always a submariner, he had completed contracts for SORESO more than once but declined many more after some reliable contacts warned him of foul play on Denman's part...

Finn was well aware though that he was en-route to a potentially life ending situation, he didn't particularly want to get there quicker than he had to but he knew he had to get there quicker than he could... That's why he was out of the water, whatever superheated lasers do for a craft, they did it better in the air!

Alpha-01 had been monitoring the USO on long range and international sonar since it's detection and by the looks of it Jonathon was rushing unnecessarily. USO-01, although technically USO-02, had been heading for the English channel for the last twenty or so minutes and the speed was quite incredible.

Jonathon had been in contact with Alpha Squad's combat advisors several times but they were hardly XTC... He knew he was only minutes away from the contact but that was all he knew. Slowly he dropped into the ocean and dived to USO-01s depth, then suddenly it appeared on his sonar...

The pilot checked his cannon for rotation, loading and gas by firing off a few rounds into the seabed below him and armed the first Ajax missile in his launcher. This was it, the real first contact. There were no second chances he'd been told. These freaks had been raping the trading lanes for years, he was to shoot on sight...

They'd invaded once and lost... Why on earth had they come back? Jonathon couldn't help but wonder what was really going on. He gripped both joysticks tightly and switched to all manual controls. This was it...

No second chances...
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!

#10 uriaheep


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Posted 09 May 2006 - 03:19 PM

There was quite a bump as the craft surged forward and the more nervous of the crew were visibly anxious with the change from the smooth decent to the turbulence of speeding through the water.  Nielsen sat impassively, equipment checked he was left with his thoughts. Goldstein toyed with what looked to be a lucky charm and Crawley and Reynolds gazed constantly into nowhere in particular.  

Munt still seemed to be rechecking equipment and Pritchard was nervously humming some doleful tune devoid of any melody whatsoever.  Peterson was quietly talking to Pritchard who now and then would nod or stop the humming for a second to add some quite word or two.

Milne sat and looked at one of the new darts they had been supplied with.  He was worried. What the hell was he doing here?  He wanted combat but no one had said anything about water.  He had been to sea many times but ON the waves not under them.  After the rushed basic diving training he was more than a little aware that underwater there is no running, no dropping to the floor to fire prone and no chance of survival if you had suit problems.  The odds seemed to be very much against them.  He looked at the dart again.  His engineering mind was working many things out.  

Inside this craft, and his experience told him it was a fabulous machine, much better than anything they had in the air, so they seemed safe, but when that door opened a whole new world would come flooding in. The dart held his attention once again.  He fingered the barbs, yes it looked lethal but he knew that even fired from a potentially more powerful gun the sea drift, plankton and the viscosity of the water would slow the dart down and make it very inaccurate at anything but point blank range.

There was no news as yet from the Barracuda but the Triton had been launched as soon as possible so as to be at the wreck site, if there was one.
It was impossible to know how long this journey would take, the USO may try to outrun them, it may turn and attack - they could be sat in this small compartment for hours.

There was nothing to do but wait and every crew member lived a lifetime waiting to find out their future, if the USO outran them there would be nothing to do but turn around and head back to base and though many would like to have turned around there and then the anticlimax of that would be soul destroying.

Eventually a red light came on Nielsen stood.  "Okay get ready," he growled.  There were many checks to do before they would be ready to exit the ship, above the forward hatch was an amber light that would flash when the flight deck was about to be sealed off from the rest of the ship.

It was a light none of them were looking forward to seeing.
The drill required them to be suited up, just in case the sub was hit and water came in, they also had to be ready to exit as soon as possible.

Milne felt his bowels tighten.  He needed to talk but his helmet was now on and the latches were being checked.  

"Radio check," called out the Sergeants voice on the helmet intercom.  One by one the team confirmed radio check. Milne looked over to Goldstein who was trying his lights.

"Hey Brian, are sectoids as short as the one in Madame Tussauds?"

"Yeah, and just as ugly."  Goldstein was nervous too and he thought the quip may lighten his heart. It didn't.

"Haven't you seen the ones in the Imperial War Museum?" interrupted Reynolds.

"No," replied Milne. "When I went it was after that incident with the Cultists and all the exhibits had been removed."

"Okay, tool up," called out the Sergeants voice on the radio. The crew reached to the weapons racks and picked out one of the new guns and a set of darts.

"It would have been nice to have tried these out first," groaned Peterson.

"You'll have plenty of chance to try them out soon."  Barked Nielsen as he checked his weapon was loaded and the safety was on.

Inside he was worried. This was a relatively new and untried team and if he was honest he'd prefer that all crash sites were nuked first but they needed data.  "Contact from Barracuda-01. He's beginning attack sequence."

"Let's hope he's firing missiles," said Gasvin.  This raised morale somewhat, it was nice to think someone was roughing the aliens up before they had to face them.

"Well Milne," said Gasvin.  "You wanna hope that the first real sectiod you see is a dead one."

Milne wasn't looking forward to seeing one in any state of health.

"They're not sectoids," interrupted Pritchard fitting spare ammo to his suit.

"What?" asked Gasvin.

"Well at least not like the ones I've seen preserved in jars. When I brought that one from the last mission, it had no breathing equipment with it," added Pritchard.

Gasvin was going to ask another question but stopped as Reynolds began pre-flood checks on Gasvins air tanks.

"That doesn't mean it didn't have any, it could have fallen into the sand at the bottom," Milne explained.  There was no further input from Pritchard, he couldn't explain it, he had just noticed it. Goldstein had noticed it but hadn't considered it until now. Reynolds gave a quick look outside, saw nothing and checked the pressure on the dials and tried not to think about the fact that he too had noticed something weird about the sectoid, it had webbed hands and feet.

The team completed checks as Nielsen gave the command to clip into their restraining straps, then the lights from bubbles came on, they had forgotten it was there until it buzzed into life.  Reynolds watched it move one of it's arms then he looked towards the door and glanced at the control that would soon open it.

"Any news on the Barracuda?" asked the sergeant to the pilot over the radio.

"Nothing yet," announced the pilot.

"I hope they're all blown to hell before we get there," murmured Milne.

"Quiet there," said Nielsen. "Use correct radio procedure from now on."  He heard a sound he knew, a kind of hiss and he looked up to see the orange light flash.

They all tried to remain calm but none were. Milne thought about his family and looked at his watch.  How much longer to live? he thought.

Their helmet radios clicked and the pilots voice said "Sergeant, there's a message from the Barracuda."

#11 Accounting Troll

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 07:02 PM

“Put him through.”

“The USO has touched down in the North Sea, just over one hundred miles east of Aberdeen,” came the voice of Finn over the scrambled radio channel.

“Touched down?” asked Sergeant Nielsen.  “Didn’t you manage to engage it?”

“Negative.  I couldn’t get close enough for a missile lock.  Should I engage it now while it’s sitting on the bottom?”

“No.  We need to recover it and the crew.  Keep an eye on it though.”

As the Triton adjusted its course to intercept what would go down in the official logs as USO-1, Reynolds was thinking about what this development meant.  “The aliens must have learned a few tricks since we kicked their backsides at the beginning of the century.  They couldn’t land underwater because their hulls corrode on contact with sea water.”

“Their weapons have to be different as well,” said Munt.  “Plasma technology doesn’t work properly underwater.”  He knew that everybody else in the squad was as nervous as him; the only difference was how well they were able to hide it.  Getting them talking about a scientific problem might provide some distraction.

“So if they aren’t using plasma rifles, what kind of weapons are they using?” asked Goldstein.

“I’ve got a theory about that,” said Reynolds.  “Do you remember what had happened to the hull of the Hyperion?  Solid steel so brittle that it disintegrated to the lightest touch?  My guess is that the aliens have gone over to using some sort of sonic weapons.

“Sound waves can be very destructive.  High pitched sound of the right frequency causes glass to shatter.  And aircraft aren’t allowed to exceed the speed of sound over land because the sonic boom causes structural damage to buildings.  I’d love to know how they manage to direct the sound waves.”  The scientific discussion continued as the vents opened and the compartment began to fill with seawater.

“Four minutes to landing,” came the voice of the pilot over the intercom.  Reynolds felt slightly jealous about the pilot and co-pilot sitting there in their nice comfortable cockpit on the other side of a sturdy air-tight door.  He wasn’t sure what the aliens wanted in that part of the North Sea; fish stocks were exhausted and the last of the North Sea oil had been extracted in 2017.  All that was left was the rusting hulks of the oilrigs that hadn’t been decommissioned because it would cost too much money.  There were also some barrels of toxic waste that had been illegally dumped in the North Sea, making it too polluted for the kelp farmers who preferred the cleaner Atlantic waters.

Time to organise the troops, thought Sergeant Nielsen.  He had been given a five page official document entitled “Rules of Engagement” that had been hastily cobbled together for this conflict.  It contained a lot of rubbish about positioning and committing reserves, but whoever had written it had failed to address the main problem: the aliens would probably be well positioned ready to butcher the squad as they got out the door.  The author had also assumed that the squad would consist of highly skilled soldiers and not a bunch of frightened scientists and engineers.  Unless one counted the Hyperion debacle, he was the only one in the squad with any real combat experience, and that was against Quebecois insurgents and not the aliens.  He knew he could rely on Gasvin, but he wasn’t sure about the others.

“The good news is that it’s about an hour after local sunrise and the USO is only in 150 metres of water, so it’s going to be fairly light out there.  Milne, you’re going to be at the console, controlling Bubbles.  As soon as the hatch opens, drive it straight out as fast and noisily as you can towards the USO.  That should draw the alien fire.  Reynolds and Pritchard, you try to circle to the left of the USO.  Munt and Peterson, you take the right.  Gasvin, you’re providing infantry support for Bubbles; remember to keep behind it at first though.  Goldstein, you and me are going in the opposite direction to the USO so we can secure the area in case the aliens try taking us from behind.  Don’t get out of sight of your partner whatever you do.”

The pilot landed the Triton approximately 120 metres from the USO, angling it so that the hatch would be facing the USO.  The hatch was opened in the last stages of the landing procedure so that the silt kicked up by the landing would help provide cover from the squad as they emerged.

“Good luck everybody,” said Sergeant Nielsen as the hatch opened.  They would need it.

#12 Dumb_Commander


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Posted 11 May 2006 - 06:29 PM

As soon the Triton doors opened, Bubbles rolled out and started going to the USO, Gasvin was following a little slower than Bubbles, but still was able to cover the machine. As soon the machine was one meter away from the Triton, a green shot was seen coming from an nearby hill of garbage and waste barrels.

Gasvin tried to shot there but the shooter already hid himself, Gasvin shot the last place where he seen the shooter. As the projectile touched one of the barrels, the whole hill exploded and a high pitched scream was heard, it seems that the barrel contained some kind of substance that would react to heavy hits like a hammer or a dart.

The other aquanauts did what the Sarge Nielson said. Suddenly an object similar to a grenade landed couple of meters away from Gasvin and Bubbles.

"Oh shit" Said Gasvin, and after couple of seconds the grenade exploded.

EDIT: I edited the spelling

#13 Accounting Troll

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 06:11 PM

Fortunatly, Milne had spotted the danger a moment before Gasvin.  He had no idea what the alien object was, but he doubted that it would be conducive to Gasvin’s health.  He backed up Bubbles over the object, so that when it exploded, Bubbles took the force of the blast, wrecking the remote controlled drone but saving him from the worst effects of the explosion.

Gasvin was still thrown onto his back, rupturing one of his oxygen canisters.  Fortunately, the two oxygen canisters carried by an X-Com diver are separate units, so he was able to switch over to entirely using the other tank after a few moments of panicked fumbling with his suit controls.  He wouldn’t be able to spend as long submerged as the other members of the squad, but at least he was still alive.

“Bubbles spotted the alien when he launched whatever that thing was,” said Milne.  “Reynolds, it’s about twenty metres from your position at an angle of two o’clock if you’re facing the USO.  He’s hiding in that patch of seaweed there.”

As Reynolds and Pritchard opened fire with their harpoon guns to keep the alien pinned down, Gasvin managed to sneak close enough to the alien to let off an aimed shot that went through its skull, killing it instantly.  The three men shouted triumphantly.  

Reynolds made a private note to put in a request for one of the new hydro-jet cannons he had seen demonstrated a few months earlier.  In addition to armour piercing bolts, it could also fire high explosive and incendiary rounds, and it even had an auto fire mode!  A rapid firing area effect weapon would give the squad a big advantage when it came to rooting out aliens hiding in patches of seaweed or behind rocks.

“What species was the bug?” asked the sergeant.  During the last war, Earth had been attacked by a large number of alien species working together, however their differing environmental needs meant that an alien ship was generally crewed by only one or two species.  X-Com had soon learned that a tactic that worked against one species would be a costly failure against another, so knowing what species he was up against was immensely useful for a field commander.

“Sectoid,” replied Gasvin, “Well, a sort of aquatic Sectoid.”  A burst of radio static meant that what the other aqaunoughts heard was “aqua…toid”.  The name Aquatoid somehow felt right so it stuck.

“At least they’re not Mutons,” said Sergeant Nielsen.  “Gasvin, go up to the sub and see if you can figure out where the entrance is.  The rest of you proceed as planned.  Oh, and stay away from the barrels dumped around here as some of them are highly unstable.”

“You don’t need to tell me twice,” said Munt.  There’s some barrels here leaking some kind of glowing green chemical.”

A moment later, the squad heard a terrible scream over the radio followed by the sound of a harpoon gun firing on burst mode and the sound of the sergeant swearing.  “Some bastard Aquatoid plugged Goldstein.  The little runt won’t be killing anyone else though.”

Reynolds felt as if he had been punched in the guts as Goldstein had been his best friend.  They had joined SORESO together when it had still been a civilian outfit, and they had both been promoted to the rank of able seaman at the same time.  It had been Goldstein who had saved the life of Reynolds and the other crew of Triton-1 when its first test voyage had nearly ended in disaster due to a previously unsuspected design flaw.  Now Goldstein was dead just because he had accidentally stumbled in the way of a bunch of psychotic aliens with ambitions to rule the universe.

No more aliens were discovered in the sweep of the area around the USO.  Gasvin located what appeared to be the door in the front of the aquiline vessel, although he was careful not to get too close as the aliens had used automated doors on their vessels in the last war.  The bronze coloured plates the USO was constructed from reminded the sergeant of a Jules Verne story.  He formed the men up into a line facing the USO and pondered what to do next.

In the last war, at least half the alien crew remained inside a crashed or landed UFO; the first soldier to enter the craft would be killed by the aliens nine times out of ten.  Before X-Com developed psionics, which meant that a psionically controlled alien would often take point for the squad, their only options would have been to wait the aliens out or to blast their way in from several directions simultaneously.  Without Bubbles or any area effect weapons, there was no possibility of blasting a second entrance, and they couldn’t wait the aliens out because they only had so much oxygen, especially Gasvin.  The only options that were left were to either abort the mission or to launch a frontal assault; as the entrance could only accommodate two men at a time, they would take losses.

To make things worse, aborting the mission probably wasn't an option.  Some bigwig scientist was being assigned to the project and he would want a reasonably intact USO to examine so X-Com could learn more about the new alien technologies.  During the last war, X-Com had regarded an entire squad as expendable if there was a chance of securing a new alien artefact, and the sergeant expected this policy to continue.

“I’ve got an idea, sergeant,” said Reynolds.  “If we get Milne to bring us some of the spare harpoon guns, we could have one in each hand.  They won’t be very accurate, but if we use burst fire, all those harpoon bolts’ll just scythe down the aliens.”

“You willing to volunteer to be one of the first two to go in?” asked the sergeant.

“Yes.  I want to pay them back for Goldstein.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Peterson volunteered to be the other one.  Milne came up carrying five harpoon guns in his arms a few moments later; even he would be expected to take part in the final attack.

We’ve really got to get some area effect weapons before we try this again, thought the sergeant as the men assembled.  Reynolds and Peterson, a fully loaded harpoon gun in each hand, stood a couple of metres away from the entrance,   The sergeant and Pritchard were similarly equipped and standing right behind them, while the others formed a line behind them.  “Begin the attack.”

The door automatically opened as Reynolds and Peterson approached it, and they began firing wildly into the dark interior of the alien submarine.

#14 Dumb_Commander


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Posted 16 May 2006 - 12:24 AM

When Reynolds and Peterson stooped shooting there was silence. "Move in" Said Sarge Nielson. The squad moved in the USO.

There was a corridor, it had two doors on oposite sides. Gasvin aproached the left door, it opened when Gasvin aproached it. Behind the door was an alien raising its weapon, he had no joice, it would be to late to shot, so instead of shoting he hit the alien in the head with the but of his harpoon gun, the alien fell on his back releasing his weapon from his hand. Gasvin spotted already an other alien in the room that was preparing to throw a similar object that he met before.

Panicked, Gasvin stepped back, and the door closed in front of him. Some seconds later there was an muffled explosion.

#15 The Veteran

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:28 PM

When Gasvin had stepped back from the door, the mood had lifted slightly in the people surrounding him. If truth be told, he'd basically just panicked and pulled back but he'd also unwittingly saved himself and several other members of his squad from the second alien grenade they'd encountered in less than an hour.

Scott turned around to see Reynolds and Peterson, guns still raised, but both now smiling slightly. Reynolds lowered his gun and chuckled. "That was a sharp move, you've got some good reflexes on you I'll give you that"

Petersen moved further into the ship, past the door on his left. The door opened automatically as he knew it would but judging by the colour of the walls there wasn't much of the aliens worth recovering anyway. He made his way into what seemed to be the ships command center, two strange blue spheres stood on brass coloured shafts at either side of the room and two computer-like terminals were set into the back wall, protruding out of the rear of the craft by the looks of it.

Petersen turned back to the entrance to the craft and shook his head so signla the craft as clear. Reynolds had checked the other door opposite the one Gavsin had cleared and that room was empty too.

With the area seemingly secure, Nielsen ordered a further sweep of the surrounding area. The aquanauts slowly moved away from the Triton and the alien submersible widening their search slowly but steadily. After more than an hour of this, Nielsen ordered a withdrawl to the Triton.

His men gathered up the artifacts they could find and carry and also the two alien corpses from outside the craft. Those inside had been virtually pureed by the blast... There was no way to recover the USO, it was a rushed operation and there were no cutting tools on board the Triton and certainly no way to attach the sub to its belly as had been common practice with the smaller UFOs in the first war from time to time.

Everything was so much harder underwater, everyone had noticed that already. Gasvin had virtually exhausted himself simply swinging his rifle, no doubt it contributed somewhat to his withdrawl... As for the alien grenades, everyone who'd seen them and had ever tried to throw anything underwater were mystified. It's just not possible to throw things in water...

Unfortunately, none of the devices had been recovered intact so it would remain a mystery for now at least, ruling out any chance of developing XCom equivalents any time soon.

Able Seaman Munt and Seaman Pritchard were to stay with the USO until the Triton could return with some scientists and engineers ready to examine the site. They couldn't leave this thing in the water, it would be a massive breakthrough to recover it intact, or maybe even get the thing working under its own steam again.

As the Triton emerged above the waves once again, her crew was amazed at the changes in the sky. It had gone from pre-sunrise right through to high noon in the time they'd been diving but it certainly hadn't felt that long to the aquanauts... Bearing in mind most of them hadn't slept in almost 36 hours Nielsen was incredibly impressed with how well they'd all performed, but now they knew the real time everyone started dropping like flies.

Nielsen tried to remember... Don't let the techies tell the sentries what time it is...
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#16 uriaheep


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Posted 16 May 2006 - 09:20 PM

Even before the Triton was docked safely in her pen the ground crews were refuelling her so that she could return with the techs to try and salvage something from the USO wreck. Barracuda 02 had already left to drop air and give protection to the sentries there, the ocean floor can be a depressing place when you are alone.

The returning crew were jostled about by the techs still at the base, eager to get to anything the crew had salvaged.  Even if the alien that Gasvin had clobbered had lived and not been blown to atoms by the explosion, it probably wouldn't have survived the journey as was the case in the First Alien War, once these creatures were separated from their hive like society they would quickly die without life support systems.  

Neilsen thought that an alien containment like the type in the first war would be a priority and he would speak to the techs about it. First he needed a drink.

He collected his messages from his quarters and made his way along the stark passageways.  In the canteen he sipped a Brandy and considered the first contacts with these new aliens that someone in the team had called 'Aquatoids'.  

All the team were exceptionally fit but under the sea with all that pressure the most simple tasks become almost impossible.
He would have to devise a new fitness regime that would be suitable in the cramped confines of the base.

Peterson entered the tiny canteen, he looked tired and drawn.
"Well?" he asked as he reached for a bottle of beer.
"Well what?" frowned the sergeant.
"Are they different to the sectoids?"
"You saw the live one we brought back, if they're not gills at the base of it's skull then they must have a very strange mating ritual."  He finished the drink and poured a second.

"One of the techs said were are getting some new faces round here."
"Oh yeah." smiled Neilsen as if he couldn't care less. The truth was he was fretting about the lack of a commanding officer, he was more a man to carry out someone else's orders to the letter, not give them.

"That's what he said, two brilliant pathologists trained in alien physiology and a UN officer. I reckon he must be the new Commander."  
"He's not," laughed Neilson. "I've just read my orders, he's a French Major and he's taking over our PR.  He's coming over to see the base but he'll probably be based on land."
"But he'll be our most senior officer." frowned Peterson as he finished the bottle. Neilsen was doing a great job but everyone was eager for proper 'brass'.
"True, but he's army, not navy and as X-Com don't have the Major rank he's going to be an ensign. The Major rank he'll keep on land though because it helps with the press if he's more senior."  Peterson shrugged his shoulders and stood to leave.
"I'm off for some sleep." he turned and left.
"Yes, much fitter." thought Neilsen.

Just over a thousand miles away Major Ferreau was packing his effects ready to drive to the nearby military airfield and then fly by helicopter to the X-Com base. His telephone rang buzzing out 'La Marseillaise', his patriotic ring tone.
"Allo ........ yeah......... straight away? ........... yeah, ........... okay."  He snapped the phone shut.  
Only two people in the world had that number and he was one of them.

At the moment X-Com did not have a commanding officer, orders came from an emergency office at the UN, the person he had just spoken to was probably a civil servant in that office but until the Commander was in place at the base Ferreau took his orders from that office in the UN.  

It seemed a car was to collect him from the hotel.  He was to forget about going to the base just yet. The car would take him to a Press Conference.  He had no orders, no brief and he knew little or nothing about X-Com.  One thing was for sure though, somebody had heard something and it was going to be his job to talk to the press, even though he had no idea what was going on.  
"I hope someone gives me some notes before I get there." he said to himself.

Back at the base, Milne was sifting through the mangled jumble of parts that was once Bubbles.  
         "Mmm." he said thoughtfully.  He looked around the sub pen and saw a small trolley that was used for moving stored. He brought it over to the crippled Bubbles and with the help of a passing Tech he had the wreck on the trolley and was heading to the Tech bay.
         "Soon have you back to normal old girl." he smiled.

#17 storm turmoil

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 12:16 AM

David Brown waited as the elevator slowly descended into the depths of what he supposed would be his knew home for the forseeable future.

For yet another time, he was entering a secret base, and it wasn't funny. He'd spent most of his adult life up iuntil his thirites trapped in Xcom bases. Then the alien war had ended. Now It seemed it was starting up again, and he was back in another X-Com base...

It was almost like coming home.

just like old times.

well, not exactly like old time...the other bases had been on land, but close enough. Certainly the Hardware wasn't any different. The elevator could have been the same one form Pine Gap.

As the the doors slid open at the base of the shaft, he found himself trooping into the open corridor, only to be confronted by a nervous looking technician.

" Uh, Mr Brown, sir?"

" Just David, please."

" Uh, right, well, I was told to escort you to the living quarters so you can ditch your gear, and then take you over to Workshop one..."

" Don't waste any time, do you?" David asked rhetorically, " lead on"

the trip to the living quarters was an eerie exercise in deja vu. the layout was different, but the base facilities were so standardised the resemblance was spooky. Dumping his carryall on the bunk apparently allocated to him - as at Pine Gap, engineering staff got short shrift on living space, and David could tell his back was going to protest climbing up to the upper bunk unless he could get the allocation changed.

Then it was off to workshop one. It was like walking back into the past. He was different, though, now, instead of him being the newcomer, looking up to the other engineers, he was the one the newcomers were looking up to. He glanced around the assembled faces.

" What's all this gawping at?" Came a voice from outside the workshop's far exit, and David froze. He knew that voice...

" You" Zager exclaimed.

David smiled nastily. He and Zager had never seen eye to eye. " Yes, me. Which other mug did you think they'd drag in?"

Zager was about to say something, but apparently thought better of it, and instead left, not deigning to dignify Brown's question with an answer.

" You know Professor Zager?" one of the technicians asked.

" Yes, unfortunately. We worked together during the last Alien war. I just hope this doesn't cause trouble." David answered.

* * *

Around the corner, Zager was smiling. it was a small, triumphant smile. " At least I don't have to worry about incompetent engineering staff..." He muttered. He had issues with Brown, but the man's ability with machines was not one of those issues.

Zager allowed his mind to slip once more into the realm of mathematics as his wheelchair slowly trundled along the corridor.

* * *

David Brown was lying awake in his bunk long after lights out. One of the minor benefits age had brought was needing less sleep. In his case, he'd gone from needing a bare minimum four or five hours a night to averaging three at best. But the curfew was strictly imposed. Non duty staff were in bed by lights out, no exceptions. That left him lying awake, and trying his best not to let his memories overwhelm him. How many friends had been made -and lost- in the last war? how many were gone forever?

And did their sacrifice mean a damn thing, if the damn bastards were back?

alone in the dark, he had no answer. All he knew for sure was that from now, on, all the battles would be in the dark, in the depths where man hadn't stepped before.

Who knew what these new aliens were capable of, their only known intention seeming to be a drive to bring terror from the deep.

#18 Accounting Troll

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 11:00 AM

Commodore Elizabeth Anson disembarked from the aging military helicopter onto the base that represented her latest command assignment.

The UN decision to appoint her as the supreme commander of X-Com had been the result of several days of political bickering.  Since the X-Com charter allowed it to enter national territory at will, no nation was keen on X-Com being commanded by a representative of an economic and geopolitical rival.  The result was that a candidate from the sleepy backwater of the European Syndicate was selected as a political compromise.

Upon entering the base, the first thing she did was to find someone, a technician by the look of him, to direct her to her quarters, and then her office.  Before she entered her office, she said to him “I want all the aqaunoughts to assemble on parade in Submarine Pen one in thirty minutes.”

“But they’ve not long come back from a mission.  They’re exhausted.”

Ooops, she thought.  But I can’t look indecisive or weak-willed on my first day.  “I think you’ll find that I’m in charge now, and I’ve just given a military order.  Thirty minutes and no excuses!”

As the frightened technician hurried off to find Sergeant Nielsen, she opened the door to her cramped little office; space being at something of a premium on the base.  A strange man with a Mediterranean complexion was standing in front of her desk.  Although he appeared to be the wrong side of sixty, he had the build of one who was determined not to let himself go.  “Who the hell are you?  And what are you doing in my office?” she asked; she tended not to beat around the bush.

“My name is Ali Hussein.  I served in X-Com during the last war against the aliens, and I have come here to offer my services as a recruitment officer in the current war.”  He handed over his ID card; she spent a couple of minutes scanning the card into her computer terminal to ensure he checked out.  As well as confirming his identity, it revealed that he had been awarded a Cluster of Mars; a medal made from an alloy of iron extracted from the Martian rock samples X-Com had taken back after the Cydonia mission and alien alloys.  It had been exclusively issued to the X-Com soldiers who had taken part in the Battle of Cydonia, posthumously in some cases.  After a brief ceremony, most of the surviving soldiers were told that they were being laid-off to cut costs.

“Okay, your ID checks out”, she said as she returned the card.  “How the hell did you get on a top secret base?”

“You might like to work out some new security measures, like getting the information on this base removed from the telephone directories.  After that, all I needed to do was to ask the locals when the next passenger flight here was going to be.”  He spoke English with the formal precision of someone who learned English as a second language.

“What do I need a recruitment officer for?  I’ve already got a squad of soldiers here, and there’s others on the way.  The UN is sending me an American team of special forces operatives, and they’ve said they’ll send me more if I ask for them.”

“With respect, Commodore, they will not.  You were lucky to get this much out of them.”

“What are you talking about?  They’ve given us their full support.”

“You lack the resources to train up raw recruits, so you are going to be depending on finding experienced soldiers who also happen to be experienced divers.  Not many people have such a combination of skills.”

“Maybe, but X-Com’s going to get first choice.”

“I would not count on that.  National governments are setting up their own taskforces to deal with the alien problem.  They will not allow these taskforces to be headhunted by X-Com.  To be blunt, they do not think you can ever do more than mount guerrilla operations against the aliens.  X-Com was only reinstated to keep the public happy.  Half the UN is looking for a chance to shut you down.

“If you are serious about recruiting more soldiers, you will have to get involved with the mercenary scene.  I have thirty years of experience as a mercenary soldier, and I have many useful contacts across the world.”

“Mercenaries?” she asked, barely able to keep the contempt out of her voice.

“Although a mercenary fights for money and not a cause, he would not dream of breaking a contract.  Those that do are usually murdered by other mercenaries.  And not all my contacts are mercenaries.”  He noticed that she was still unenthusiastic.  “My first loyalty has always been X-Com, and nobody else with that loyalty has my level of contacts.  I suggest we postpone this discussion until after you have had a chance to inspect your current squad.  If you do not wish to deal with me after that, I will leave and never bother you again, however I think you will.  Three hundred years ago, your namesake circumnavigated the world with a crew of Chelsea Pensioners because of a bungling Admiralty, and I fear that you are facing a similar task.”

The X-Com charter gave her full authority to recruit whoever she liked, without going through official channels.  Also, he was a Cydonia veteran, so surely he deserved to be given a chance.  “Okay, we’ll talk later.  Get yourself something to eat in the mess hall.”

Sergeant Nielsen hadn’t been able to get back to sleep after the return of the Triton.  He decided to write the official letter to Goldstein’s family, informing them that he had been killed in action.  He had been getting a lot of practice at this lately.

While the other squad members crashed out on their bunks, the sergeant noticed that Able Seaman Reynolds had started packing up Goldstein’s personal effects.  “Get some sleep lad,” he said in a kindly tone.

“I tried on the Triton, but all I could dream about was Brian, and the guys we lost the previous time.  Brian and I were at university together, and we’ve always worked together.  Up until this morning when I got lucky and he didn’t.  I’m not letting anyone else pack up his stuff.  Even you, sarge.”

“I know what you’re going through.  I went through it myself enough times when I was in the Euro Marines.  Maybe you should take a holiday and then be reassigned to the lab.  You’re an oceanographer, not a soldier.  Fighting aliens isn’t in your job description.”

“I’m going back out there.  Next time I encounter an Aquatoid, I’m going to cut its head off and nail it to the wall above Brian’s bunk.”

“I wouldn’t, that’s an external wall.  You don’t want to flood us out.”  Although Mark laughed, Sergeant Nielsen was worried about his mental state.  The sergeant resolved to keep a close eye on him and the other surviving squad members.

The sergeant was still lost in thought when he was approached by one of the base technicians.  “”We’ve got a new officer, sergeant.  You’ve been ordered to get your squad on parade in Sub Pen one in, uh, 25 minutes.”

“Has he arrived already then?” asked the sergeant.  He didn’t think Ferreau would be due for another day.

“It’s a woman.  Said she’s our new commander.  I’ve seen some icy women before, but nothing like her.  I thought she was going to have me executed when I said you guys’d only just come back from a mission.  If you want me, I’m going to be spending the next week hiding in the workshop with Bubbles.”

Typical, thought the sergeant.  They give us a new officer to take charge and don’t think to mention it to us.  Still, he was relived as this meant that there would finally be a bit of order to the base.

Commodore Anson looked in dismay at the small squad assembled in a close approximation of a parade, Sergeant Nielsen at her side.  She stood before Exhibit A.  “Sergeant, who the hell’s this?”

“Able Seaman Munt, ma’am.”

“He needs a haircut.  Munt, do you have any previous military experience?”

“Erm, well I once dated a girl in the Logistics Corps.”  One look at her steel grey eyes told Munt that his new CO didn’t have much of a sense of humour.

“I’ll take that as a no.  And if I catch you joking again, you’ll get two weeks punishment duties.”  She moved on to the next ‘soldier’.

“Combat engineer Milne, ma’am,” whispered the sergeant.

“Combat engineer?  How much combat experience do you have?”

“One mission.”

“What’s your callsign?”

Milne turned to the soldier next to him.  “Hey, Dale.  What’s a callsign?”

“I think it must be a military thing,” said the other soldier.”  

“Silence on parade,” shouted Sergeant Nielsen.

The commodore felt the onset of a headache.  She couldn’t bring herself to finish the rest of the inspection as it would be too depressing.  “X-Com soldiers are supposed to be the best of the best, but you lot are a complete shambles.  What the hell makes you think you’re good enough to defend the planet against invading aliens?

“Well, we’re not proper soldiers are we?” said one of the other soldiers.

“Quiet, Reynolds,” said the sergeant.  “Save it for the mess hall.”

“Well, we aren’t.  We’re mostly scientists and engineers.  The bugs ambushed us when we were investigating the Hyperion sinking.  Then those of us who escaped were given harpoon guns and told to go out again to die for king and country, neither of whom give a stuff about us.  Now you’ve got the nerve to run us down for not being proper soldiers.”

“You are fined one week’s pay for insubordination,” shouted the commodore.

“Big deal.  We haven’t actually been paid for two months now.”

“Mister, you are one inch away from being dishonourably discharged, which carries a two year prison sentence during wartime.  Is that want you want?”

Mark struggled to control his temper.  He would not be able to avenge Brian’s death in a military prison cell.  “No.”

“Better.  Okay, parade dismissed.  I’ll put together a training schedule for you over the next few days.”

“Okay, you’ve got yourself a deal,” the commodore said to Ali Hussein back in her office.  “I’m paying you thirty thousand US dollars per month, plus reasonable expenses.  I need an additional eight soldiers within the next two weeks.”

“Thank you.  Might I suggest we set up a rendezvous point for picking up the recruits I find?  I happen to know a small bed and breakfast lodging in Pembroke.  The owner used to be in the SAS, so he will understand the need for secrecy.  I suggest you place a permanent booking on two of the room.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have a great deal to do before I leave the base.”

Sergeant Nielsen entered the office shortly after Ali left.  “You were a bit hard on Reynolds weren’t you ma’am?  Fining him and bawling him out like that?”

“I had no other choice; he had just disobeyed two direct orders to remain quiet.”

“Well, I think you should cut him a little slack.  Maybe you didn’t know this, but his best friend was killed in action this morning.”

Way to go Lizzie.  Maybe you could see if anybody has a pet kitten you can kick around.  “I… I didn’t know.  But there has to be discipline or we won’t stand a chance against the aliens.”

“I understand.  I’ll talk to him and smooth things over.”

She nodded her thanks.  “Let me tell you something about the last war.  The first time X-Com lost an aircraft, it was down to negligence and not enemy action.  Two pilots took their interceptors up on an unauthorised training exercise.  They then tried to outdo each other in stupid macho stunts to show off their flying abilities.  One of the interceptors crashed, and the pilot was very fortunate to escape with only minor injuries.  The base commander at the time seemed to think that only the most minor reprimand was called for.  I don’t even know who the pilots were because he didn’t think to make a note in their files.

“A soldier managed to break the security codes and gain access to off-limits areas of the base.  His careless prodding caused a potentially fatal lab accident.  Another two squad members found time to have a punch up, and most of them attended a drunken party.  In each case, either the commander decided that this was acceptable conduct or he didn’t know what was going on.

“All these incidents occurred before X-Com first engaged the enemy.  With that kind of rampant indiscipline, it’s a wonder that any of that rabble survived the first month.  Anybody at this base who behaves in such a reckless manner is going to be keelhauled and then kicked off the project.

“Concerning the subject of alcohol, I am well aware of the New Year party.  I am not going to impose a total ban on alcohol, but anybody who cannot do his job properly because he is the worse for wear is going to end up with worse things wrong with him than a hangover.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Perfectly ma’am.  I’ll inform the rest of the squad.”

“Okay, now perhaps you would like to tell me why you hold the rank of sergeant.  An army rank in a naval organisation.”

“I was a sergeant in the Euro Marines before I joined SORESO.  They said I could keep my old rank.”

“That won’t do, you need a navy rank.  I’m making you a leading seaman.  I’m going to need an ensign when the new recruits arrive, so I’ll consider you if you do a good job.”

Leading Seaman Nielsen was delighted when he left the office.  Finally a bit of organisation!  He wasn’t sure about the Ensign bit though; he didn’t want to become a Rupert at his time of life.

After Nielsen left, Commodore Anson busied herself with reading the reports that had been sent to her computer.  There was a particularly disturbing report about the new head scientist that had been forced on her.  As if reading the report had called him up like some malevolent spirit, one of his assistants opened her door, and the wheelchair bound scientist entered the room.  Anybody else would have knocked first.

“Commodore, I would like to complain about the poorly trained chimpanzees you assigned to help unload my lab equipment.  When one of my assistants writes “this side up” and “fragile, handle with care” on a box, he does so for a reason.  I designed and built a lot of my equipment, and it could set me back months if any of it is broken.

“And another thing, the laboratory you have assigned me is rather cramped.  Do you think I have Sectoids for assistants?  How long will…”

“SHUT UP!” roared Commodore Anson.

It had been so long since anybody had dared to talk to Zager in that way that he did so out of shock, but not for long.  “Perhaps you are unaware of whom…”

“I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP!”  She had long grown used to the fact that as a petite blonde, now dyed, naval officer, her male colleges had difficulty taking her seriously until she had crushed a few egos.  She certainly wasn’t going to take any crap off a scientist who behaved like a petulant child, no matter how brilliant a mind he might have.  He looked like a freak with those purple eyes anyway.  “Now listen up, because you’re only getting the one warning.  I know about your illegal and unethical experiments and how you use your psionic ability to mess up people’s minds, even if you don't always intend to.  I don’t care how good a scientist you are, if you pull any stunts like that here, I will personally throw you and your lapdogs off the base.  And that means you won’t get your sticky hands on the latest alien technology, which is probably the only reason why you signed up.  The only way you are going to get near a single piece of alien technology is if I personally approve it.

"And I have received a report about your confrontration with Brown earlier today.  Whatever past there is between you, put it aside for the good of the project.  I cannot have playground bickering among my senior staff, and I will be telling hm the same thing when I visit the workshop."

In his younger days, Zager might have demanded that the UN replace her, but they would have just found an even stupider career officer as a replacement.  When he had insisted on rejoining X-Com, he had accepted that he would have to put up with some hotshot officer as his nominal superior as a necessary evil; he just hoped that she wouldn’t start getting ideas about interfering with his lab work.

#19 Zager



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Posted 17 May 2006 - 02:33 PM

"I feel it necessary to clear up a few misconceptions on your part," Zager said to Commodore Anson. While he disliked that which interfered with his own research endeavors, he admired strength of spirit and commitment when he found it. He felt they were qualities lacking in most of humanity.

"Number one, my primary purpose for being here is somewhat selfish, you are partially correct on that. However, it is not in the way you think. My purpose in being here is that I would find it very difficult to continue my own research in a world that has been taken over by aliens. And given the fact that I am quite possibly the one person with the greatest understanding of aliens on the planet, I am uniquely qualified to head up any research into them. Hence, by the tenets of enlightened self-interest, it is in my own best interest to become the chief scientist of X-COM, and do everything within my power to ensure the defeat of the aliens."

"Second, I have never expressed any interest in possessing alien artifacts. My interest in alien artifacts lies solely in how they will advance my knowledge of the functioning of this universe."

"Third, my relation with Brown is irrelevant. I may find his lack of interest in science to be a poor character quality, but you may be rest assured that a simple MRI and catscan have always sufficed for my research purposes. I have no intention of murdering him. Regardless of what some of my critics may claim, I am not a Dr. Mengele."

"I'm sure it'll be a pleasure working with you commodore," Zager said, wheeling his chair around. "I'll be getting back to my lab now. I still have to finish setting up some of my esoteric equipment." And then he left the office.

#20 The Veteran

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 03:35 AM

As Zager wheeled himself back to his lab, unsure as to whether he'd come out on top or not, he passed Leading Seaman Nielsen who was taking his time getting back to the living quarters where he knew his troops would be reeling at the Commodore, especially Reynolds...

In fact, the scene was quite different, Reynolds was sat on Goldsteins bed, folding and packing, packing and folding... A lot was stil going through his head, not least the Commodore but Brian was still on his mind too.

The living quarters were one of the few facilities that had changed since the last war. In XCom's underground bases forty years ago, personnel had shared twin rooms regardless of the job they did. When the underwater bases had been built soon after the first war had concluded, the same luxuries were not provided. Living quarters were built over three levels, corridors and access stairs on the ground floor then a large twenty man bunk room above it. The top floor, above the general accomodation had initially been built for high ranking visitors to the base and specific personnel. Now the base was being used again indefinitely, the soldiers had been given the shared room and the private accomodation above them had been afforded to the numerous technicians, scientist and other personnel on the base.

The layout of the facility therefore left Reynolds surrounded by five other aquanauts. Gasvin, Petersen, Pritchard, Munt and Milne were all there, only the newly promoted Sergeant was missing...

Gasvin, Petersen and Pritchard weren't overly bothered by the new commander, as only Milne and Munt had been officially accosted and of course Reynolds had spoken up but that was technically his problem... Now he sat with a furrowed brow, mind working overtime, but he was still smiling, trying not to in fact.

Munt was sat on his own bunk but he was like a child at Christmas, every so often he'd jump down off his bed, walk around excitedly for a while then climb back up again. He hadn't really stopped smiling since he'd quipped with his new superior, evev though she hadn't returned the gesture.

Petersen was sitting with Milne, talking about callsigns and every so often joking about the parade. Everyone somehow felt like it hadn't gone the commodore's way!

Pritchard and Gasvin were on their own bunks both watching Munt parade about the place, each to their own certain level of amusement. Everyone had known Goldstein and it would have been untrue to even suggest that the other aquanauts didn't feel for his loss but one for four was not bad going, they knew that. They also knew that it hadn't been them on the recieving end! Everyone knew how high the mortality rate was in the first war, they were doing ok so far and there was no denying it, it was only just starting mind...

Eventually, after a little more pacing, Reynolds could no longer maintain his frown and he left Goldstein's packing for a moment to watch the commotion behind him. "What exactly is it you're getting so excited about Andrew?"

Munt paused for a second, turned to Mark and laughed. "This new officer! I think she's going to make the place a lot of fun to be in"

Perhaps not the brightest thing to say to a man who'd just laid his career on the line in front of this woman but Mark responded admirably... "I'm not sure about that," he said raising an eyebrow. "Were you on the parade I was? She seems like a total nightmare."

"Yeah, you do have to hand it to him," said Gavsin, "she is a bit of an ice queen."

"Exactly" said Andrew happily. "How much fun can you have with someone who doesn't really care what you do?" Everyone else seemed to be fairly perplexed at this point so he continued... "Look, all I'm saying is that this bird looks like all it's going to take is a few late nights some after hours entertainment to push her over the edge! That's when the fun begins"

"Andy, what part of the world does your brain understand?" said a still confused Peterson. "Playing up with this woman isn't going to get any of us anywhere except out of this base and off the team... Now I may change my mind in a few weeks but right now I don't really want that, do you?"

"Oh come on, lighten up Rich! If we can't try and show this frosty old commodore the error of her ways then what can we do? I don't know about you but I'm not going to wile away my time here chalking up days on the wall! I need a bit of entertainment and what have we got?"

It was true, since XCom now needed a laboratory AND a workshop, there just wasn't enough space for a rec room any more. The pool table and fruit machines had long been packed into storage, Reynolds and Goldstein had done well to smuggle the foosball table into their quarters!

"I see your point" said Reynolds uncertainly. "But I also see reason... And I don't think its a good idea to go causing chaos just yet. We need to prove to this witch that we're worth having around before we start taking liberties. For now at least we really need to keep our noses clean"

"Witch is a bit harsh don't you think?" said Andrew leaning against the end of the bunk below his. He suddenly wondered why he'd chosen a top bunk when the room was half empty... But then there was a lot of kid still left in him!

"To be fair, she's not a bad looking girl, just a bit harsh..." said Gavsin from across the room.

"Be honest Mark, you wouldn't say no to those guns... Don't pretend you weren't looking either, she's got to be what an 8 at least?"

Reynolds laughed, "Come on Andy you shouldn't even be thinking that sort of stuff! What is she, early thirties? Surely got to be at least early thirties..."

At 23, Andrew was the baby of the group, Mark was 30, Scott 29... Everyone was round about that age except him so he was used to the jokes by now!

"I reckon that's a bit harsh, I'd say maybe late twenties..."

"She's 34," said Nielsen as he entered the quarters for the first time as a Leading Seaman.

"See," said Mark smiling at Andrew before returning to Goldstein's packing.

"Really? That old?" said Andrew, genuinely surprised and slightly upset by the whole incident!

"Really, and if you call 34 old again you'll feel my boot up your backside young Munt... Watch it" Nielsen smiled as he spoke, he already felt like he was getting to know the aquanauts quite well.

"So what did she have to say about our parade?" asked Gavsin nervously.

"Well, I'm now a 'leading seaman' to keep up appearances... She said alcohol is an issue but it won't be banned so long as it isn't abused... And to be honest most of the rest of the stuff she said was just having a go at old Genega from the last war."

"The Genega?" asked Andrew. "General Genega from Pine Gap? 'The Knight'?"

"Ok, ok, you know your history, fair play to you... Yeah the one and only. She was going on about how there was no real order in the last war and how he let his soldiers do as they pleased and run riot through the base... She went on about punch ups, parties and pilots, sounds like its going to be pretty dull around here for a while"

Andrew perked up. "What did she say about pilots?" he asked smiling slightly.

"Apparently before the first base was operational in the last war, Pine Gap it was in Australia, two of the pilots there took up their prototypes for a bit of a jolly. Ended up with one of them on the tarmac in lots more pieces than it started off in"

Andrew burst out laughing for no apparent reason. Everyone in the room turned to observe the aquanauts joy.

"What's so funny about that?" said Nielsen inquisitively. "Apparently the pilot was lucky to get out alive..."

"Yeah she was fine," replied Andrew wiping a tear from his eye.

"She?" said Nielsen furrowing his brow. He hadn't mentioned a female pilot had he? Come to think of it nor had the commodore... "Who?" he asked hopefully.

"Sorry," said Andrew, "I didn't realise you didn't know. That was Gia O'Connor... The other pilot was my grandfather"

"Really? I didn't realise you had a history with XCom?"

"Oh I don't really, they did, I didn't join up until SORESO was taken over by the funding nations. I'd always had my name on the list, its how I got in with no real training."

"So where's he now? I've already seen a couple of faces from the last war been rehired to fight another one. I know it's not quite flying a plane but he must have been good to make it through all of that alive..."

Nielsen could tell straight away by the change in Andrew's face that maybe he hadn't... He froze, didn't know whether to speak or not. Just as he was about to apologise Andrew stopped him.

"It's ok, he did make it through the war. He was the best they had, or so I'm told..." Andrew paused for a long moment. Everyone in the room very deliberately went back to what they were doing, but kept an ear out just for curiosity sake. "He was an Inqisitor... He was killed when they fought the Cult in '36. Same year I joined XCom, he never even knew..."

Andrew looked up at Nielsen who was still listening intently, it wasn't often troops would open up so soon. "XCom lost a hell of a lot of fine men that day," he said in an attempt at comfort.

"All for nothing, the Cult get's more powerful every time a boat sinks, every time a plane crashes... It doesn't really matter how many times we're attacked from out there does it? The real enemies will always be right here..."

Nielsen placed a consoling hand on Andrew's soldier and stood to leave. He had a feeling he'd just brought back a lot of old memories...
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