Written by: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor
21 August 2016 / Granite Peak / X-COM
In just a few days, the mission begins.
Analysis of the Outsider yielded some pretty amazing discoveries. First of all, they aren’t actually lifeforms. The Outsider is a conduit, designed to interface between the alien ships and some form of command. They are constructs of energy, held together by the central crystal. That’s why, when destroyed, they splinter into pieces.
That energy wasn’t just a power source, either. It was a transmitter, sending out a signal to an unknown source. Dr. Chen, through some form of engineering wizardry, managed to trace the signal to its origin: Argentina.
The country had gone dark months ago, silencing the voices of millions of its people. The aliens had full reign, and who could guess what they were doing. It made sense that they would set their base up in the exclusion zone. We wouldn’t dare strike them at the heaviest concentration.
CO Brandon delivered the briefing in his usual somber tone, though I could detect a hint of optimism peaking through. Maybe he saw the end of this thing after all.
The next slide in the presentation was less promising. Two aliens, each way too horrible to be real, loomed larger than life in the room. On one side was an image of a silver disk escorted by two drones. The other showed a Sectoid wearing a giant suit of armor.
“We call these ones,” he pointed to the saucer, “Cyberdisks. They are heavily armored and pack some of the most advanced weaponry we’ve seen from the aliens. Despite looking like machines, these are actually living organisms. Dr. Vahlen can explain a little better.”
The scientist took her place at the podium. “All life that we know of is carbon-based. That is to say, all life we’d known before the aliens arrived. Carbon is common, lightweight, and has the ability to bond with a variety of elements. They are the building blocks that make up everything on our planet. That is not to say, however, that all life in the universe follows the same blueprint. These Cyberdisks appear to be born from a silicon-based ecosystem. They appear mechanical, but inside their shells they are very much arranged like a living organism: Circulatory and Respiratory systems, vital organs, and nerve structures. We may not understand the physiology of these beings, but they are as alive as you or I.
“These other creatures are Sectoids, like the average soldiers you’ve faced so far, but wear a complex armored suit. Dr. Chen? I believe you had a little more experience in this area?”
Dr. Chen took over at the front of the room. “Thank you. These Sectoids are indeed wearing a suit of armor, but what you see is a bit more complicated than just equipment. The aliens are actually attached in a very physical way to their suits. I believe they use the Meld substance to replace parts of the creature’s anatomy with mechanical connectors, allowing them to make the armor a part of the alien’s actual anatomy.
“While this may seem ghoulish, the effect is quite extraordinary. These Mechtoids can take a large amount of punishment, and dish it out in equal measure. Do not consider them an idle threat because of the familiar face inside.”
CO Brandon returned to the podium. “In order to appropriately face this new threat, the science and engineering teams have come up with some pretty impressive hardware themselves.”
On cue, technicians carried in a series of silvery and green rifles and machineguns. The weapons were sleek and polished, with curved edges and gorgeous highlights. I’d never been much of a gun nut, and I was getting excited over this stuff.
“These are Dynamic Particle Accelerator weapons, though we refer to them as Plasma Rifles. Using the same techniques as our enemies, we were able to harness a bolt of heated plasma and turn it into a lethal projectile. Damage output is ten-times that of a simple kinetic device. No matter what the aliens throw at us next, we’ll be prepared. And, with that in mind, I’d like to reintroduce the man behind our next attack. General Van Doorn.”
We rose to our feet as the acclaimed officer entered the room. I’d met General Van Doorn only a week ago, during a rescue operation. He’d been in remarkably good spirits during the extraction, and seemed even more jovial now. He took the podium with swagger, waving his hand and shooting us a shit-eating-grin.
“Well, it’s about time I let you in on the plan. This is what the aliens were keen to keep me from sharing.” He pointed at the projector. “We’ve been on the defense for too long, reacting to their ships, their assaults, and their raids. Now it’s time to take something from them. Thanks to your intel, we’ve managed to secure the location of the alien command vessel. Argentina isn’t going to come back from what’s happened to them, but we can make the aliens pay for what they’ve done.
“Using the alien gate key you’ve fabricated off the Outsider shard, you’ll infiltrate their command vessel and strike them where it hurts the most. Take down every single creature aboard, and bring that commander back here for interrogation. Maybe, if we can speak to it, we can negotiate their surrender.
“Now go out there and take those bastards down. I’d come with you myself, but there’s no need for me to have all the fun.” He winked and we laughed, albeit out of politeness more than anything else.