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Mission13

GEOSCAPE

And just like that, I'm in the gang. I figure its more the need to have people to point guns at stuff than any signs of competence on my part, but probably more by luck than judgement I get through it. And we caught an alien and they let me fire a fucking rocket launcher! I do recall afterward that I done paintballing once in a forest in Herfordshire but that went less well - I stormed out in a strop after getting capped in the ass by an over-enthusiastic intern (so fired).

I ain't cocky enough to think its gonna be that easy every time but at least its given me the confidence to know I can help. Its good to see Ultra's money coming on stream as well. The stunt with the pre-record was a bit of a gamble, and I think Kay saw right through it, but he isn't ready to go public on this, not yet. Probably still working out what his ROI on the whole deal is gonna look like.

So, what's next?

(as written by Jonny Flames)


I figure that Kite and Dr. Vahlen will publish the results of the yarnall autopsy when they're good and ready.... In the meantime, a quick poll is taken to whether alien interrogations should be made public; I lose by about 8 to 2, but veto a live audience, because it might affect the results.


"Why on earth were you assigned to assist with the autopsy anyway?"

"Because while you're the local expert on biology, cryptozoology, neurochemisty, and actually cognisynthesis as well, which annoys me because I'm pretty sure I invented that word, I am the local expert on tentacles that don't care about consent."

"And you're sure of that, are you?"

"Yes. Since we're being recorded, I'll refrain from mentioning what I think your name was there, but while your descriptions were great, you couldn't get your head around thinking with more than four limbs. Which frankly, I think is going to make this experiment absolutely hilarious."

"Hmph! A neural scanner is going to be a MUCH more effective interface than a keyboard was. And i'm not wearing one of those collars to go with this."

"Yes, you are."

"And who's going to force me?"

"Nobody. But if you don't, I'll abort the experiment the only way I know to be sure. Won't that be NICE?"

Ilse Vahlen hesitated, briefly, but reluctantly threaded the anti-choke collar through the somewhat bulky contrivance strapped to her back and hips, holding both the currently inert Yarnall tentacles dangling from either side of her spine, and the conductive pads of the sensors pressed to the skin of her skull and neck. "Well, that explains how you knew I was going to do this, at least." She glanced over to the computer showing the readouts from her brain. "Readings are good. Power to the tentacles."

"I'm amazed we have helmet-scale rigs that are near fMRI throughput. Where did those come from?"

"From reverse engineering alien tech for the last fifty years."

"I should have seen that coming." Kite flicked a switch, allowing power to flow to the tentacles arrayed along Vahlen's back. All of which immediately curled around her and started to squeeze. "Now, about this moment, you're realizing that you should have taken a more standard prototyping approach, particularly with a biofeedback rig, and used some longer wires to control the tentacles from across the room. And you're probably glad that you put that collar on, to say nothing of my tweaking the settings so they're only running at 30% power. Seriously, an analog computer system where the last commands it recognized were 'crush the wriggly organic until it stops moving' and you thought being one contraction from wrapped in them was a good place for a first boot test."

"Cut the power! Cut the power!"

"Nonsense. They can't hurt you. Much. And if you're not prepared to put in the effort of working out the biofeedback control that you yourself programmed, well, you might as well scrap the project."

"You utter, utter bitch."

"Well, yeah, you knew that years ago. But hey, better you've got a spotter who understands what's going on for a test like this, right? And unless there's an alert, there's nowhere i really NEED to be for the next, oh, call it four hours?" (As written by Kite Winters)


After pointing out to the interrogation team that torture has historically never worked, I am reassured by Dr. Vahlen that since we have no common language the interrogation will be conducted by exposing the alien to stimuli and observing its brain activity. Any gratuitous beating up will be reserved for our own entertainment. That doesn't reassure me much, but it seems like it'll be good for morale. I add this to the textbook as was presented to me -- the first interrogations will in fact be also used to estabilish a procedure. My hope is that we'll be able to get something out of the slendermen, given as they probably can at least understand a human language; the orks seem to be able to operate a weapon, but it's obvious that they have been strapped into their armor and have no sense of hygiene, so they're probably stupid. Dr. Shen says that some things about their armors can be copied, too.

I get an email from Riley -- he says he's been working on something, and will figure out how to deliver it. I'd rather him be back, honestly... He's safer here than just about anywhere else.

After the terror attack, a lot of countries have enacted legislation similar to the Patriot Act after 9/11. That worries me; the two situations are completely different. I chalk it up to knee-jerk response.

A little after Lena got back, a group of German engineers ask us for some alien weapon fragments to begin their own reverse-engineering effort. I'd much rather deal with them than with the Grey Market folks, if nothing else because they asked politely and were introduced by someone known. The more brains working on this stuff the better, so we approve the request -- they said they'd help us with satellite coverage.

Interrogating the Slenderman reveals two important pieces of information -- I am not there for most of the interrogation, but Dr. Vahlen, Kite and Vee assure me that it was conducted in a safe and sane manner.... in full view of the ork, who has been banging on the jail's walls for fully half a day. We're going to interrogate it right after, just so it doesn't dehydrate from the effort.

One, the dispersal of alien technology is at least somewhat intentional. Two, the aliens have a base on Earth -- what little we have figured out from the slenderman's hisses and the navigation/communication computers we've recovered point to the "crystal android" being the only entity in possession of its coordinates. While we have quietly disseminated this information to the Council, it'll probably take capturing one of those intact to get at where it is.

I hope it's a coincidence -- the slenderman's brain implants, which look fairly crude and again something that could've been taken from the ending of Battlefield Earth, were firing full blast at the end of the interrogation, and I am hoping that they didn't include a transponder -- but we catch a small UFO in Mexico. Mexican authorities notify us late, which means the Skyranger gets there when the thing has already landed. The plan is simple; capture the android.

Our first SHIV, DONAR (The official designation was supposed to be THUNDER, so we're going to compromise between that, something tasty, and a good folk metal song) is ready and undergoing final testing.

OPERATION

I'm sending Kite to cover everyone, Jonny and Lily to pump lead and try to capture the androids, and rookies Matthews and Manikas to get a first look at the critters -- I have no idea whether Riley and Stephen were debriefed properly by the Canadian government, so sending someone qualified back to that country is one of my priorities. Manikas is from Greece; the alien invasion has had the beneficial effect of refocusing the Golden Dawn extremists from racism to speciesism, but it's made the place even more chaotic. Since the UFO touched down in a remote area, there's little point in bringing a local.

Kite quickly finds a vantage point -- the Skyranger landed practically next to the UFO; everyone else scatters, with the intention being to enter the craft from two quadrants. Three danglies quickly get out of the ship, and the squad trades fire with them; Lily runs ahead, dives behind a stump, and fires her LMG into one of them. How does she do that? I wish I had her legs, seriously. (Dr. Vahlen, if you are reading this: I am not speaking literally).

The danglies gang up on Mrs. Manikas, and Kite had to flush one off her back so that she can reposition -- we're getting a little better at fire-and-maneuver. Matthews manages to take the second dangly out; is it worth it to call a capture? Lily goes for it, but rushes too far forward -- three more danglies in the UFO! One shoots her before they disperse, hiding behind the ship's control systems. Damn it. I have just ordered a friend into danger, and she got hurt for it... I'm not going to just turn into Bradford, am I?

Three slendermen come about from behind the craft, trying to flank the squad -- Kite drops one as she calls for Lily to come back.

The rookies charge after Lily! What's got into them? Lily must have target fixation; after taking another plasma shot she slams herself against the UFO's wall and thrusts the Arc Thrower into the dangly, taking it down. Manikas shouts something unintelligible, and throws a grenade at the remaining slendermen, obliterating them and producing a huge miasma cloud.

Jonny runs towards the other side of the ship, hoping the danglies will follow -- two do, but one takes Lily down! She's still alive, but barely. Kite has the only medikit. Finally, the android shows up. "Abort capture, kill everything, get Lily stabilized, and get out of there!" I call. Jonny ended up running into the android -- reasoning that it'd be just as hard to take it down with the Arc Thrower than with weapons fire, since it's too close to use the rocket launcher, he decides to go for it.

The android starts disappearing like it did before -- only, this time, the crystal remains behind; it looks like a miniature Meld canister, but Dr. Vahlen cautions me from making assumptions. Now it's just the danglies. "Kite, your call -- can you move to Lily's position safely?"

"No, and I'm out of ammo!"

Kite takes her sidearm and charges one of the danglies; the pistol shots ricochet off its shell, but as it turns around, Matthews sees an opening and finishes it. Manikas, still in a rage, runs right underneath the last dangly and shoots it in the booster, causing it to fly off and crash into oblivion.

"That was the last of them!" Kite starts moving towards Lily to stabilize her -- there was one more dangly! The misshapen cyborg flies out in front of her. Jonny was ready enough for it to be able to turn around and finish it.

I realize that I've seen Lily do what I have been doing the entire time; put myself in danger for that little bit of tactical gain, and act like I'm fucking invincible. This in turn put Kite in danger, as she had to leave her sniper's nest and run into the open. That was stupid. I was stupid, and put my friends in danger. Again. We'll have to adjust... we'll also need guns that are easier to aim.

The squad comes home with a Meld canister, two prisoners, and a badly wounded Lily -- she's about as bad off as I was two weeks ago. Hopefully the med team has learned a few things about plasma-rifle burns, but the odds aren't good; Lily almost lost a leg in the fight. She's about as likely to die, make a full recovery, or remain crippled -- we just don't know yet.

Vee and Dr. Shen tell me that there is another option.

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