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I'm walking alongside Dr. Vahlen, a little behind, as she takes Jonny out of his medically induced coma with some green stuff that I suspect would get the dead to stand up and walk. She explains the options quickly. He says that he wants to remain human. She says that it's really not an option, as it's commonly understood - he has to either get the MEC Trooper treatment, or be stitched together using Meld. He picks the latter, saying that he has a family to go back to. I can respect that.

The truth is, we've received pressure to try the Meld technology on someone other than Vee - Dr. Vahlen says she can go for a softer approach, and I suppose that with a patient giving informed consent, there's nothing to prevent that. She's almost sure that the Meld in Jonny's system will all be used up for the repairs and alterations, indicating that preliminary results haven't shown any problems. "At this time, our research into psionics is at too early a stage to check for compatibility with what we'll have to do to Meld-reconstruction subject... such as Jonny. We can run psi tests, but only after setting up a baseline."

That works for me. I'm honestly not sure what to do with psi stuff - any skepticism I had went out of the window when Kip and Kite showed me what they could do with intense concentration. In battle, the guess is that they'll be able to mess with an enemy's brain enough to cause confusion, maybe convulsions... we'll see. I can't help thinking that we're doing exactly what the aliens want us to do. That's actually another possible theory?; what if they're trying to get us to do R&D for them? We've already seen that with the alien MEC.

The Foundry is back in action - Dr. Shen shows us the shaped armor he's working on for our SHIVs and Vee's suit, with the science team telling me that while most everyone is super busy messing around with Zener cards and hand buzzers, some of them are working on new armor based on the new metallurgy result. The interceptor project continues - I don't want to write anything down about it, but while it's by necessity limited in scope, we're likely to get something good out of it. The lights are back on when they need to be. Overall... it looks like things are back to where they were. Well, except the infirmary is full again... I'm not the only one surprised to not be in it, to be honest.

Bradford hasn't changed his routine any; when the new folks came in, he saluted them back, then told them to get out of the habit. "My name is Bradford. You're all here because you're the best of the worst. Legion Etrangere, Navy SEALS, Folgore Airborne... NYPD. First off: You're out of the military, so no salutes, no uniforms, pants optional on Friday. Second: Anyone with an instructor patch on their shoulders, listen to them, they've been doing this a while. Third: You listen - and think. You're here because in a couple of months you'll be teaching the ropes to people who scored better than you on aptitude tests. Fourth: We're all out of bubble gum."

One guy doesn't get the movie quote and offers Bradford a stick of gum. He shares it with the rookies. I don't know what he and Dr. Vahlen do in the privacy of what used to be my office, but it's done him a world of good.

I can live with that. Someone made a WW2 style propaganda poster that's been showing up in a few places; we have a few designated walls for graffiti, and even though other than the restrooms and the double bedrooms the whole facility is monitored -- after the attack, it just has to be -- the security guys mostly run the tapes (actual tapes) through a motion detector and leave it at that. Things are calming down again, and again there's time for hope...



Heh, of course. Who's ready? I'm taking Lily for heavy support, Melissa Matthews - who doesn't seem keen on getting back to Canada -- and Maggie Burns -- who's a Scottish Independentist, and once came to me requesting to replace the flag patch on her armor, to which I told her that the flags are slotted in so she can put the Republic of Molossia there if she feels like it and His Excellency Kevin Baugh approves -- for close support, and BLISSEM and VIXEN. Bradford doesn't remind me that we're supposed to be showcasing doctrine options; it's a damn terror mission, the city will be crawling with Lovecraftian horrors, and if anyone wants to care about anything other than keeping the body count low I don't want to hear it.

Apparently some large saucer-type UFO came down to Ibadan by sea at low altitude, evading detection until it was called in by commercial shipping. It firebombed part of the slums surro, hovered above the tallest building left intact -- a three-story covered market - dropped off a bunch of still-unidentified creatures, and zoomed off. Local military and paramilitaries have already cordoned off the area; pretty sure it's crawling with bugs. "You know the drill with Herbie the Love Bug - get in its face and take it down. Your armor can take a slash, civilians can't and the last thing we want is a zombie outbreak."

I send BLISSEM in, top speed, scout mode - there are a few people on the building's ground floor, one of which takes the opportunity to run towards us and hide in the Sky Ranger. We're surprised to see two danglies, a wells and a drone in place of the dreaded insectoids. Another change of tactics? Did they know we were bringing robots?

BLISSEM is sent in with the same parameters - the SHIVs make a lot of noise, and the alien machines get properly distracted; a woman runs out, thanks us in excellent English, and I nod to Lily. "Lily, cover us. Everyone else, follow me! Get the Wells and the drone!" Melissa and Maggie get there before me - they slide behind a table, while I take cover against BLISSEM.

The big disc is behind a column from where we're standing; we fire at a dangly, and Maggie takes it out. Looks like so far every alien that is here is capable of flight; this would explain the drop tactic. "Lily!"

The disc is weaving around a structural column - can't risk hitting that. Instead, she takes down the accompanying drone. The remaining dangly screams in frustration, and we hear the chitter and clops of two bugs coming in at a gallop! One runs right into VIXEN, and gets burned full of holes when the robot's motion sensors react. Where's the other?

"Take out the disc! If you can't get to it, find the bug!" They must've used the disc to carry down the bugs. Melissa runs forward and lobs a grenade at the wall - the blast covers two civilians in rubble, but reveals the insectoid. VIXEN springs forward, takes aim - and takes out the remaining dangly instead, its sensors confused. BLISSEM makes the same maneuver, and takes the bug out just as it was about to sink its claw into an old man. So much for listening to my tactical advice, but - we've managed to coordinate without it. Zombie uprising averted, maybe.

We try to shoot at the disc, but it keeps spinning around the column - I get a shot in, which causes it to change its movements; it almost comes to a landing and starts spinning on itelf. Is it going to blow itseld up?

"AH!" Whatever it shot at us, it's HOT - molten metal of some kind, sprayed out of some vent. It goes right through the plaster wall, and we hear three people outside die even as the stuff singes us through our armor.

After that, the thing stands there, fans whirring. It obliterated our cover, so there's nothing to it but blow it to pieces - Melissa gets the final shot on the disc. "Get the SHIVs to patrol mode around the building, we'll head upstairs".

Finding an intact staircase will be a problem - we send the SHIVs past a partition wall into what used to be a collection of food stands. What we see surprises us - six orks, two of which are clad in berserker armor, ransacking the meat! The two brutes roar. I roar back, and even bang my chest. Come at me, assholes! That's right, ignore the people cowering. Come on!

The two creatures run towards me, and come right into view of our robots' short-range sensors; neither falls, but we see smoke as their armor melts and sizzles on their bodies. "Get them! NOW!" This would be a great time for a rocket, but Lily is out of position and we risk hitting someone cowering under the stands. Maggie fires, and takes out one of the berserkers; I miss my shot. The creature tries to lift the SHIV next to it, doesn't quite manage to pick the hunk of armor up in its weakened state, and claws at it.

The remaining orks do something I've never seen -- they run away from us, and start shooting civilians! We're too far away to do anything other than watch as they take out three people, melting them with plasma.

"Robots, forward! Lily, cover us! Maggie, take that berserker out!" I run towards the other orks. Lily slams herself against a retaining wall, getting ready to shoot a rocket. VIXEN is run into an ork, laser blazing.... and manages to miss somehow. BLISSEM has better luck; Lily can't get a clear shot with the rocket still, and fires against one of the ork's cover. My turn. I run behind VIXEN and fire blindly at the ork it missed, taking it out. Maggie is exposed - she takes shelter behind VIXEN and tries to pin down one of the remaining orks.

The ork turns its back on her, and shoots a woman under one of the stalls. "Come at us you damn cowards!"

The other ork runs outside the building and behind its far corner, and we hear plasma shots. "Central, sic VIXEN on it! I'm fine!" I call out. Melissa calls out that there are two survivors under a burning stall, and helps them free themselves.

The ork is pinned down - VIXEN is emptying its capacitors at its position, and it's hiding behind a pile of garbage. This is new - we figured orks to be some sort of barbarian figures, if anything. Them turning their back on us to attack civilians is... new. Are they being controlled? Is there a lich nearby? What are these things thinking?

We run towards it - I want to kick the damn thing to death - and VIXEN eventually finishes pumping it full of holes. Death toll; eight, three by the Wells and the rest by orks just shooting at the easy targets. None of us are wounded, and I feel guilty about it. I didn't run fast enough, I didn't take enough risks...

The Council rates our performance as "good", and I have to admit that a combination of assault troopers and SHIVs is perfect for this sort of situation. Still... Melissa and Maggie are celebrating; Lily sounds a little distant. I put a smile on my face and praise their performance, and that of whoever was controlling the robots from home.

BLISSEM will spend a few days in the shop, but that's it - this was Maggie's last mission; her performance was excellent, and she's going to go back to Scotland to teach the Homeguard how to handle the aliens.

Melissa asks if I'm holding her back for graduation - I answer that we've sent a lot of people back to Canada, and if she stays on longer, she's going to be able to bring new information to the military and RCMP there.

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Page last modified on January 02, 2015, at 05:22 AM