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Mission4

GEOSCAPE

We have a cadre in place, finally. That'll be me, Vee, Riley, Kite, Stephen, (anyone else?). I don't want professional soldiers for this; when I said we'll be reinventing the wheel, I meant it. There is no way we can push off an alien invasion by ourselves, our role is to study their weakness and then relay our knowledge to the world -- hopefully the world will listen. So, better to start with no preconceptions.

Construction of the jail will wait until we have a power plant up and running; I want redundant power systems in place. I also allowed the engineering team to build themselves an extra workshop; unfortunately they wouldn't let me help out with that. Dr. Shen is aware of my background, but cautioned me against micromanaging his team, or showing favoritism. For now, I'm mandating that as long as there is digging to do some of the PT time be dedicated to helping out with it; it's good exercise and it will hopefully give people on base occasion to fraternize.

We're also going to have to expand the barracks, especially considering that some of the crew wants to bring family members in. That's absolutely understandable. Riley's proposal for hotel-style bedrooms that can be signed up for if one wants private time is sensible, but will have to wait. Kite's proposal for a tea-and-torture room in the jail is... Eh, I somehow suspect that she can talk Dr. Vahlen into it.

It looks like we have a few days of downtime, "downtime" meaning "not actively go out and shoot anything". The Raven needs repairing, armor needs banging the dents out of, the formal autopsies are getting done... It is also time to start estabilishing a curriculum. So far, it seems that alien androids disintegrate on death, Sectoids are squishy, and field experiments show that the best way to kill an alien is to hide behind a corner, then walk up to it and perform a Mafia stile nut-shot execution. Whatever guns they use are very powerful but fragile... Given the hit rate of our troops so far, myself definitely included, I'm going to start looking into melee weapons; if we can come up with armor that can withstand their energy guns, it seems that running up their faces and swording their heads off might be a viable option. Hey, worked in Star Wars.

The name "Sectoid" came about by consensus after a night in the bar, starting off from me noting that the UFOs and especially the guns looked like Steltek stuff. Someone misheard me, said that fortunately the aliens don't seem to be using stealth technology, and it kind of went from there telephone-game style. Looks like it's what will go in the textbooks.

We also have to decide on ranking; the semi-military hierarchy proposed by Bradford is a bad idea. Firstly because we are not a military -- we're a research group with guns, or a sentai team, if one must take the otaku route, but not a military or a police force. Secondly, because when our graduates rotate out their XCOM rank won't transfer to the organization they'll be returning to, which could cause animosity. Riley suggested lifting ranks from Wing Commander; Vee suggested using Shogi piece names. At the end of the day, these will mostly affect us, and we're just likely to keep calling each other "kitty" or "derp" or "hey, you idiot" like we normally do. For now I am going with Rookie for "student", Squaddie for "student who has bagged their first alien", and Graduate for "student who has learned all we could teach and is ready to rotate out".

Dr. Vahlen finishes the Sectoid autopsy; we've collected a dozen bodies, and so far they all seem to belong to two genetic templates. We can't tell if there is a correlation between that and the "boosting" ability we've witnessed yet, but the Sectoids are obviously made either in batches of clones, or by something similar to the Bokanovsky process in Brave New World. If the latter, it would mean that we've been fighting the equivalent of alien runts; that's anything but reassuring. We've also found brain implants in the Sectoids, which have clearly been done in series; do they relate to the booster power? All the implants looked alike. We'll definitely have to capture one of these alive. The Youtube video has been uploaded, and two thirds of the comments already mock the poor production values of this "fake".

Dr. Shen says that the implants can be recycled into satellite components, since they are light and small, and we can at least get them to work as transceiver units; this would let us incrase the bandwidth to and from our satellites enough to let us use them for targeting assistance. I ask the engineers to build up one so we can test it next time we get a chance. I miss doing that sort of work, to be honest.

The research team is asked to start looking at the alien metallurgy. Dr. Vahlen thinks that there may be immediate application in body armor, and well... Getting better guns won't solve the "we collectively cannot hit the broad side of a barn" issue, but having better armor will make it less of an issue by providing us with closer targets.

Excavation continues; by now there is a fairly large cavern under mission control, we estimate we've opened up about half the space we possibly can, on two levels. Time to start filling it! In the meantime, we'll be using the empty room for training exercises. We've found another steam vent, which we will get to in due time -- until we tap it with a generator, I'm going to allow volunteers who can do some carpentry to put a sauna there. Bradford tells me that this will sink morale when we have to tear it down.

OPERATION

We were just settling down to some sort of routine when I am told to get to the situation room immediately; there I am briefed by the Council about what would seem to be a followup to the mess in Germany that we weren't there to witness. Another round of abduction has caught in some UN official, and apparently that's important enough to warrant a rapid extraction -- unlike, you know, everyone else who got involved.... is this how my employers expect me to think? Apparently the reward for this mission includes a seasoned sargeant to help with training the troops... which, I remind the Council, completely defeats the point of this exercise. My request for more engineers instead is ignored; so much for having been promised no management interference.

Given the nature of the mission, I elect to go personally, and take my friends with me; I'd love to talk to this UN official in person, and if there are any political shenanigans, I want people I can trust. Besides, we can't teach what we can't do.

We land on a stretch of Autobahn that seems to have been either strafed, or blown up -- Bradford assures us that it's the second; recon confirms that we won't have to deal with being shot at from the air. Apparently we're to pick up a "General Peter Van Doorn". No word of what UN office he belongs to. Kite is going to carry the prototype medikit. Honestly I am more concerned with the skin of me and mine than of some guy I never heard of who gets special treatment because of rank, but maybe he'll turn out to be a decent person. We'll see.

One of Van Doorn's escorts signals us from behind a car; Riley sprints over there to talk to the guy, and learns that the General has been caught in the blast while trying to find another one of his men. Okay, I can't dislike the guy after hearing that, although it was a stupid thing to do. Riley and Kite are the two of us who can actually hit things, so I'm going to let them set up in a good vantage point and cover Vee and myself while we go look for the guy.

I plod ahead (would like to call it a sprint, but it'd be offensive to people who can actually run) and see a human figure ahead! "General?" Wait, something is off. The proportions are slightly wrong, and... How does he move like that? The figure stands up -- Oh shit. It's Slenderman. I kid you not. Unnaturally thin and tall, with an old fashioned suit. It's fucking Slenderman. I freeze for a moment, and stand there with a deer-in-the-headlights stare instead of getting into cover while the creature somersaults back and hides against something. We're here to stop Slenderman from kidnapping a UN dignitary. And me with a shotgun I barely know how to use... Heh, at least the whole "aiming" thing should be optional with this.

Vee prepares to flank the nightmarish apparition.

OH SHIT HE'S SHOOTING AT ME! I'm jittery enough to flinch just at the right moment, and the glowy green stuff misses me. I thank God like the hypocritical deist that I am.

"Oh No, You Did Not Shoot That Green Shit At Me!" That's what I'm going to put in the book as having said, even though it sounds a lot cooler when Will Smith says it. In reality, I just shouted something incoherent. You know the part where I can't run for beans? Turns out I can run just far enough to get close to the mockery of a man. I have a shotgun, so aiming is optional.

Slenderman dies, and my heart calms down. Everyone else advances, cautiously. Vee spots Van Doorn, and starts to get closer to him -- Kite has the medkit rather than her, but she can deal with getting him out from under the car.... I get worried again when a noxious clouds comes out of Slenderman's corpse. Sorry, but this is legitimately scary! I take a step back and hold my breath.

Kite and Riley position themselves to cover the two, soon three, of us as we get the hell out of here. I'm going to need a lot of chocolate after this mission.

I'm winded. Vee sprints to Van Doorn after he calls out "Not fair if I have all the fun!" I think she actually tagged him before taking position behind a car to cover him. The guy can probably shoot better than any of us, but he messed up his hand in the crash -- he'll live, unlike most of his escort, but he needs to get out of here immediately. So do we. We hear the skittering we've come to associate with Sectoid, and sure enough, between the three of us -- I didn't see a thing -- we spot three. At least they don't fart poison when they die... Okay, let's get out of here.

Bradford agrees with me: we need to get Van Doorn out as soon as possible. Uhm, and, you know, our own asses?

Riley has a shot at a sectoid and takes it! Boom. Headshot. He's a lot happier with a bolt-action rifle than with an automatic, I think. "G'day!" he calls out, to mild groaning by Kite, who is actually Australian. She can't get a bead on anyone, but keeps an eye out to cover Vee as she helps Van Doorn navigate around the noxious cloud. I just get back out in the open, and keep lookout standing there; Sectoid weapons don't do much damage, and well, if they have to shoot at anyone, I'd rather it be me. I can probably take a hit or two and walk it off. Vee stays behind for a moment in order to cover Van Doorn's dash to relative safety.

WHAT THE CHRIST! Slenderman jumped back up and he's behind me! No, wait, it's another creature -- looks the same as the first one. Who know from where it jumped out of. Without thinking, I shoot blindly in its general direction, which makes it flinch -- Kite, fortunately is a lot more level headed than me and drops it with one bullet. This one also farts out a green-blue cloud of who knows what when it dies; it's far away enough from us that it won't be an issue if the wind doesn't shift.

Van Doorn rejoins the remaining member of his escort; they can both get into the Skyranger with a quick run from where they've taken cover behind. I see a sectoid right in front of me -- don't think I can hit him from this far, and neither Kite nor Riley have a clear shot.

Vee starts pulling back. The Sectoid I hesitated about takes aim at her! I fire in its general direction -- I may have grazed him, and it's enough to make him miss Vee. She takes cover; I tell her to keep moving. Again, if anyone gets shot at, it should be me, dammit.

The Sectoid I grazed, emboldened, comes after me! I smell burnt plastic and burnt flesh as green stuff hits my shoulder. Doesn't hurt more than a soldering iron burn, past the initial sting. Heh. I asked for it.

Riley spots another slender man behind us -- they're probably jumping up from the ground. That's a hell of a jump... We'll have to make sure it doesn't snipe anyone, especially Van Doorn, since he has no body armor. Neither him nor Kite have a very clean shot at the thing, but both take one -- Riley's connects. Now this cloud of crap we will have to navigate around in order to get back to the Skyranger. Kite, ever the mature one, takes a breath and resumes her overwatch.

"I owe you one. Seriously. Without your help I wouldn't be here." General Van Doorn and his remaining escort dash into the Skyranger. Bradford recommends we eliminate any remaining hostiles; I'm inclined to say "fuck that, let's bail". Van Doorn cuts in, and tells me that it's actually safer to pull back in an orderly fashion; getting shot in the back as we run back to the dropship would be horrible. He's got a point.

We walk back in an orderly fashion, keeping an eye on things -- and the little grey fuck that shot me earlier almost hits Riley! Okay, that one has to go. If Riley doesn't get it, I will. Fortunately Riley does.

Kite offers to suture me. I seem to be fine, and signal her no -- she stays put and keeps covering us. Vee, however, comes over to make sure I'm all right.

While we retreat, the last sectoid comes up to us -- before it can fire, Vee shoots it at what for us passes for long range.

On the way back, we get to talk to Van Doorn -- he gives us a comprehensive critique of our tactical methods, which is appreciated, and tells us that his work with the UN relates to brokering peace talks between Syrian factions, so nothing that can help us. It seems that while mugging sectoids is a viable tactic, Thin Men (apparently Slenderman is copyrighted, and I don't want to associate these critters with a scary meme) will need to be dealt with differently. I note that Kite ran through the "death fart" of one with no ill effects because she was wearing the medikit's included surgical mask.

Bradford compliments us on having done the job by the numbers; my shoulder aches a little, but it looks like I'm the only one who got hurt, so that works out. My plan is to let the medics take a look at the wound, then spend a day in bed. Hopefully there'll be cuddles.

The Councilman says that if this project wasn't under the radar, the UN Secretary General would thank me personally. I tell him that there's no real reason why this project should be under the radar, but get no answer. "Remember, we will be watching." Okay, if that's your thing watch all you like, but let us work, please. Given that we still aren't sure what plasma burns do to flesh, I'm told that I will be under medical observation for six days rather than just one. Can't say I'm happy about it. Hopefully there'll be cuddles.

We're slated to get a drill sargeant first thing in the morning. Technically he, or she, outranks all of us, according to the rank structure that this place came with; XCOM rank doesn't transfer out, but external rank transfers in. Haven't had time to change it. Fun times.

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Page last modified on January 02, 2015, at 05:01 AM