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One of the people I requested when this program started, Lily, showed up. Now there's an interesting person; she's positively tiny, smaller than Kite, but can lug a light machine gun about and shoot it. Occasionally, she even hits what she's aiming at. I know because I got to see Bradford tell her that he doesn't want her here, but his hands are tied, so she'll go through basic like everyone else. I mean, that's fair, but he didn't need to be rude to her just because she knows me. She refused to state her national origin, although I am fairly sure she's American by birth I won't bother with correcting the record... not that anyone would likely listen, mind.

Dr. Shen wakes me up to ask me how I feel about setting up a Foundry -- an expanded workshop that would contain a robot-making facility; he seems ambivalent about cybernetic augmentations for our own soldiers, but teleoperated drones are another thing. Obviously, I am enthusiastic about this; we stay up as much as I can discussing previous experiences both of us have in the field. Dr. Shen apparently got to meet Volker in person, how amazing is that? Anyway, we're broke, and Bradford holds the purse strings so all I can do is give an empty blessing. I'm also told that the "danglies", while originally humanoid, are in fact also batch-cloned aliens rather than former abductees. It's obvious that the aliens have been conducting abductions in multiple countries in order to get a wide sampling of human DNA; even so, we're both relieved that the aliens aren't here to stick rockets up our asses.

Bradford has ordered Vahlen to focus on immediate goals, and to start working on the weapons fragments; I approved her suggestion that she take apart a yarnall -- apparently, it is not a creature, but a very well designed biomimic drone -- but, again, my suggestions are overridden. I am told that Bradford hasn't changed his title to Director, but has indeed moved into my office... which I haven't ever used, anyway.

Vee has taken her new drill sargeant duties seriously, and set up a rolling paintball tournment in the still-open section of the cavern.

I still have a feeding tube, so I am only made aware of the fact that my volunteer-based approach to cooking has been rescinded by word of mouth. While I am still under armed guard, people -- largely from the engineering staff, although Stephen passed by once or twice to tell me that Riley is doing better and is already in a state where he doesn't have to spend the night alone -- keep finding reasons for swinging by and loudly commenting about things as if they were talking to themselves; this and the security monitors keep me in the loop, albeit passively.

With Lena back in action after her wounds -- it looks like I will be out of here about when Kite will be ready for duty, at least as far as my wounds go, although since my release is conditional to Bradford signing off on my mental health, I won't see the sky for a while longer -- we have what passes for a full teaching staff. The rookies' training schedule is pretty grueling, and Bradford has made this place look a lot more like a military academy in just a few days, but maybe some of that was required... I just hope to be out of here before we swing too far in that direction; the world already has this sort of system in place. I am getting to where I can sit up, although there's still enough tubes in me that I look like a basestar hybrid and my right lung needs continual drainage. Someone left a car battery here. Hmm.

The klaxon sounds! There's a UFO over Mexico. We have an interceptor to go after it with, and this will be an excellent time to test the satellite uplinks -- I would love to be involved, but there is little decision making involved unless you're the pilot. We are getting pilots from the various countries' air forces, and they're all supposed to be very good, so I am not too worried. This is a larger UFO than the one we took down last month; hopefully our missiles' improved AI will prove adequate.

The uplink is set up -- the missiles easily triangulate a solution to the UFO as it slows down in the upper atmosphere, and -- NO! The downlink system burned out! Looks like that the implants we got out of the Sectoids need to exist in a specific environment, or they fail after a few seconds of use. The UFO returns fire, and the pilot ends up hitting the afterburners and crashing the interceptor into the alien ship. Both craft go down -- it's the first time I've seen Bradford genuinely worried. We're down a fighter, but the pilot bailed out. Now it's a matter of going after the survivors before they get to him.

Lena elects to take Sgt. Diaz along, plus three rookies. That's supposed to be standard procedure from now on, so no objections. I don't catch the rookies' names because that's all the force roster says: three rookies, USA/Canada/Mexico, standard loadout. What the hell, Bradford? Why don't you issue them red shirts, too?


What the flying fuck! He actually did! Something about Sectoid eyes not picking up this shade of red. Hey, idiot, we haven't properly autopsied any other alien type yet, and -- Gah. Dizzy.

The UFO crashed south of Texas, so it's weapons free on illegal aliens jokes, especially since the three rookies are American. I'm stuck in a hospital bed with a feeding tube, a hose in my lung and some sort of temporary pacemaker. Great.

Lena takes point -- the UFO landed in a patch of forest, although the ground is dry -- and spooks a trio of Thin Men, sending them scurrying for cover; one of the rookies, Kelly, drops one as it runs. Lena is squarely in Bradford's camp, as far as I can tell, but she's very professional on the field and takes risk for her charges -- except she's more responsible about it than I have been. I see why her nickname is Shield.

Another rookie, Lily, takes cover behind a felled tree and drops another Thin Man; one to go. Wait, Lily? But she just got here! Even though she can't see me, I wave at the monitor... Fortunately, she hit the ground running and made a heck of an entrance. Lena's flushing action was excellent; I hope Bradford is taking notes. I try to, but every time someone slips me a pen, it gets taken away on grounds of it being pointy, so I'm taking notes with a nail polish brush on my pillowcase. The third rookie, Christine, steps forward and takes cover behind a tree while Sgt. Diaz covers her.

The last Thin Man hits Lena, but she calls that she's okay, and orders Christine to flank it -- she does, but our assault rifle again proves its uselessness. Susan drops it, with Sgt. Diaz again providing suppression fire. Lena orders forward, and again takes point. We can see the UFO, although there's no trace of the interceptor wreck.

Lily is told to range off to the side and look for hostiles; she spots a Meld canister, which has for some reason been dragged out by the aliens after the crash, from the skid marks we see. Susan and Sgt. Diaz join up with Lena as they get ready to breach the UFO. Christine is also told to catch up, but remains in the open.

According to Lily the aliens who pulled the Meld canister out are probably still close to it, she could see some movement; she and Christine carefully move to check it out. Susan expends her medikit on Lena while Diaz catches up. Seems the aliens are staying put for now...

Lily and Christine get to the Meld, slowly and cautiously; everyone else sets up a firing solution on the UFO by taking advantage of a tree trunk it took down while crashing. The UFO looks pretty banged up, but the power is on. After getting to the canister, the two set up behind another section of the fallen tree. We can play the waiting game, but someone'll have to go in to bait the aliens... Bradford orders that the second canister be found and secured before it dissipates; so much for caution.

Lena gets into position on the side of the energy-heatshield "door", and pokes it with a stick, causing it to dissipate; Diaz prepares the rocket launcher. "Hurry it up, people! Bradford calls, then orders Christine to breach. She hasn't gotten a kill yet; is he doing that because she's the most expendable? Lena amends the order with "mit caution." Lily follows. Still no contact... they can't all have died on impact, so they're probably barricading themselves around the navigation room.

The rest of the squad runs in; Bradford tells Christine to keep moving, but Lena countermands the order and sends Diaz forward instead. Using the rocket launcher inside an alien ship with the power still on would be a bad idea, so the big Argentinian stomps forward. Still nothing... I can't hear anything, but it's obvious that the team can from how tensely they move. The UFO is symmetrical -- Diaz moves on by the port side, so everyone follows suit.

"Breach!" Lena and Diaz surge forward past another forcefield door.... to reveal the reactor chamber. The powerplant has been completely obliterated in the crash. Where are they? More repositioning, this time to get to what we know t be the front of the craft. Diaz sets the rocket launcher up behind the reactor's wreck; if the aliens are planning an ambush, losing salvage is worth greeting it with high explosives.

"Breach!" Lena calls again. "Petersen, go" Bradford interrupts. The rookie, startled, does. Vahlen is elated to see a nav computer in one piece -- but still no aliens. What's going on here? Should we just begin mop-up? With three rooms in the UFO combed through, it's obvious that the ambush is in the final one. Lena quickly orders everyone to take positions near the door, with Bradford again mandating that Christine take point.

"BREACH!" Lena gets in right after Christine -- it's another one of those crystal androids! Lena and Christine drop it, with only a few bullets hitting the computer; the construct all but dissipates. What is the function of that thing? High fives start, but are interrupted by the raspy growl of a thin man; they must be on the other side of the UFO!

Susan spots the second canister, and is told by Bradford to hurry and secure it before it dissipates; Lena countermands the order, since there are still hostiles around and the canister is in the open. "Enough, Krause! I am in charge of this operation! You were brought here to teach military discipline, not pick up these people's bad habits!"

"You heard the man, Susan" Lena comments with a snarl. "Step behind that beam, stay in cover."

The rookie rushes forward just to see the Meld canister close itself and let out a small puff of yellow glitter. "You idiots! I tell you run for it, you run for it! Now we've lost half the Meld! Take your damn time with your sweep."

Diaz and Lily run past the front of the craft, eyes peeled; still nothing. If the aliens have escaped through the woods, they may be making a run for the border -- with potentially huge casualties if one of them decides to start blasting at a customs post line. And I don't even want to think what happens if the Mexican cartels get a hold of any of this technology.

Lena chooses to take Bradford's last communication as an order, and regroups the squad; the plan is to head back to the Skyranger in a wide arc sweeping the side that wasn't scouted out on the inbound trip.

The approach pays off; Lily has ample time to take cover when she spots two danglies -- realizing they've been seen, the cyborgs fire their boosters and dash behind cover. Diaz easily takes one out mid-dash; the subsequent shootout is fairly one sided, and the last dangly goes down in a hail of bullets. It takes about forty minutes reviewing the video to determine who to assign the kill to -- apparently Susan got it.

The team lands to a cold reception by Bradford, who despite complimenting the squad for a well executed mission -- Lena got hurt, but not severely -- seems mostly angry at the loss of the interceptor and, much more so, the Meld.

Lena is given a 8-day prognosis, but when she gets to sickbay I hear her taking bets on whether she'll be leading PT again in four.

Lily is cleared to begin heavy weapons training with Sgt. Diaz, and given a LMG and rocket launcher. I could tote that sort of kit around no problem, when I'm not tied to a bed anyway, but the fact that she manages to do that and fire the damn thing is thoroughly impressive to me -- kid weighs about half as much as I do. I was hoping to ease her in, but Bradford had other plans... I try to not think him to be callous enough to send people to his death; Riley would probably be telling me to grow up and face the fact. I hope Stephen's taking good care of him. I hope he stays.

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