Written by: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor
05 March 2015 / Granite Peak / X-COM Central
I haven’t stopped shaking since we touched down.
Doc says it’s normal; just a side-effect of close-quarters-combat. I wouldn’t know. Until a few hours ago, the only deployments I had under my belt were against hurricanes and floods. The National Guard taught me a million things about the military, but not a single word about fighting off an alien invasion.
I’ve been searching the reports from Los Angeles for any familiar names. I’m lucky to have any friends from the old world at all. SGT Fontaine, our squad leader, is the only person left from her entire town. I met her first thing after CO Brandon’s briefing. She had been with X-COM from the beginning, back when NORAD first caught wind of incoming objects from outer space. Amber spoke in a heavily accented English–she had grown up in Bruges, this tiny hamlet in Belgium–but she was very eloquent.
Corey and I spent some time in the infirmary with Akemi, catching up. Neither had been military before the invasion. Akemi had owned and operated a successful restaurant franchise in Tokyo, and Corey ran a production studio in Chicago. Blind luck had them traveling with soldiers when the world suddenly flipped on its head. Now they were here, drafted into service against the biggest threat humanity had ever faced.
Akemi, for her part, seemed to be enjoying the change of pace. She’d quickly been pegged as a heavy gunner–despite being 100 pounds soaking wet–and she carried a modified 240B machinegun like it was nothing. She told me that this wasn’t her first stint in the medical ward and showed me the four inch gash on her leg to prove it. A Sectoid had managed to claw through her leg plate and into her skin, leaving her out of the fight for a few days while they checked for infection.
Across the room I saw Dr. Vahlen. She was the chief science officer for the base, and a bit off if you asked me. She rarely interacted with the soldiers, unless it was to ask about some new alien activity or to look at a wound. More often than not she stayed in her lab, cranking out research. One of the other soldiers, a real pretty Brit named Carol, had overheard the science team talking about developing new weaponry to give us an edge in the field. That would be nice.
When Corey and I got back to the barracks, the Commander was waiting. He was tall, with salt-and-pepper hair worn in a flat top. He looked like Richard Burgi, that guy from The Sentinel. Most of his uniform seemed devoted to medal after medal until you could barely see the black wool underneath. Brandon stood beside him, still dressed in his sweater and tie combo. The Commander walked over and beamed at me, offering his hand. He had a strong, warm grip.
“Glad to have you aboard,” he’d said. “War is gonna need people like you. Military experience is in short supply outside these walls.”
Apparently, word of my arrival had reached even him. I guess, aside from a few of the higher ranked operatives, I was a rare commodity: A genuine soldier. It didn’t matter that I’d never before fired a weapon in combat. At least I knew which end to point at the bad guy.
The Commander offered us small pins and gave his thanks for our service before disappearing. He was gone a full minute before I realized I’d just been promoted.
Adam Korenman, Squaddie, X-COM