Written by: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor
31 October 2015 / Granite Peak / X-COM
“No, absolutely not.”
I turned the corner and found Dr. Vahlen and CO Brandon arguing again. They had been at it all week, screaming and shouting whenever they disagreed. The topic always changed, but revolved around the same central idea. CO Brandon was opposed to any type of genetic or physical manipulation of the soldiers, while Dr. Vahlen championed the idea. They stopped shouting when they saw me.
“Colonel,” Brandon said. “Sorry if we disturbed you.”
“What is it today?”
Dr. Vahlen scowled. “CO Brandon refuses to acknowledge my discovery. I would hate for all our efforts to go to waste because of his stubborn nature.”
“I’m stubborn? I’m at least willing to look at alternatives. You’re the one stomping down this abominable path.”
I held up my hands and, amazingly, they quieted down. I took a brief second to enjoy that power before I started. “Doc, you go ahead.”
She brushed away a strand of hair and collected herself before speaking. “Colonel, we’ve been making some pretty rapid advances in science since the invasion. Laser and plasma weaponry weren’t even theorized until a year ago, and now we have power-armor and the Firestorm to use as weapons against this terrible threat. Some of the soldiers have started to volunteer for genetic manipulation or mechanical integration, but I fear it will not be enough to combat what is to come.”
“And that is?”
Dr. Vahlen sighed. “I’m referring to the attack, Colonel. Our people are vulnerable to an advanced form of warfare, something we could not have possibly predicted. Worse yet, we have no idea how to protect ourselves from psionic warfare.”
I nodded. “So what are you suggesting?”
“After our interrogation and autopsy of the Sectoid Commander, we discovered something very interesting. Their latent psychic powers are not alterations, as we previously believed. This species evolved psionic powers as a form of communication. They were probably sentient, at least as well as dolphins or octupi, before they were modified into soldiers. They’re cerebral enhancements, especially in the commanders, led to incredible growth in terms of intellect.”
Brandon and I stared dumbfounded for a few seconds. “I understood none of that.”
She groaned. “It means that telepathy is a naturally occurring trait. And if it exists in nature, there is no reason we shouldn’t hypothesize that it could exist in humans. Using some of the technology we’ve recovered from the alien command ship, I think we could–theoretically–test soldiers for that particular gift.”
That got my attention. “You mean we could become psychics?”
“Telekinetics, actually. And also no, you wouldn’t ‘become’ anything. We would be discovering powers that already existed within you. This could be the next phase in human evolution, albeit a few thousand years earlier than expected.”
“We still have to build an appropriate facility using the strange beacon,” Brandon said. “We can hold off making any kind of decision until then.” He handed me a clipboard with a crew roster. “Just so you’ll know, these are the names of the soldiers undergoing Meld combination in the labs below.”
I looked over the list and swallowed a lump in my throat.
-Yuzuki Yamaguchi, genetics
-Ewan MacDonald, genetics
-Victor Fournier, cybernetics
-Fabian Romano, cybernetics
Brandon waited for Dr. Vahlen to leave before he leaned in close to me. “I don’t like this at all, Colonel.”
“Have you said the same to the Commander?”
“Until I was raw. We’re meddling with things that are way above our heads. We’re giving up our humanity so that we can save it?”
I shook my head. “We’re taking every measure to ensure the survival of the species.”
“And it doesn’t bother you that we may not be the same species at the end of this?” He closed his eyes and took a long calming breath. “This is the Devil’s workshop. The longer we play with his toys, the closer we’ll get to doing his work.”
He didn’t wait for me to answer that little speech. I watched him walk off toward Mission Control and disappear through the armored doors.
In order to defeat monsters, is that what we’ll become?