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X-COM Chronicle – Entry 36: Homecoming

Written by: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor

22 December 2015 / Iowa / Operation Falling Shroud

They stare a lot more now.

I mean, I know I’m not a bad looking guy, but still.

Wait, that came off wrong. What I meant was, I haven’t had any major injuries to my face.

Jesus, can we start over?

Big Sky brought us down hard, letting the ramp slam onto the packed dirt with a clang. We had taken heavy fire approaching the LZ, and I think he just wanted us off the boat. The older pilot had just started dating one of the techs from the science lab, and it seemed he found he had something to live for. Well, they’d made things more official at least; I’m pretty sure they’d been sharing a bed for over a year.

I stepped off first, and it felt like my very first mission. The same fear, the same heightened senses. The forest smelled fresh and fetid at the same time. I recoiled, covering my nose as I sought out cover. There was a persistent ringing in my ears, something that had been there since I left the chamber. Dr. Vahlen said she was pretty sure it would go away. God, sometimes I really hate that woman. 

Yuzuki and I both wore Archangel armor, a new invention from the engineering side of the house. It was a modified Titan set, containing a slightly lighter amount of plating in favor of a rocket-assisted booster on the back and calves. It took some getting used to, but after a few days of slamming into walls I had mastered limited flight. Yuzuki, on the other hand, was a goddamn nightmare. She’d leap into the darkness, rocket high above the treeline, and just vanish. The only proof she was still alive was the odd sniper round reaching out and killing an unseen target. 

Up ahead, glowing bright blue behind the trees, was a small scout. Lately the aliens had been remiss to send anything heavy against us, mainly due to our success against their command ship. It was likely they were getting ready for another major assault, but so far it felt like we had them on the ropes. 

I couldn’t hold on to that same line of hope, though. Ever since my “procedure,” I had a hard time believing anyone’s line of bullshit. 

See, I can read minds now.

Yeah, it sounds like nonsense, even as I write it. But it’s true. I know it, just like I know about Big Sky and that young man from the labs, or Sam and the engineer, or Dr. Vahlen and CO Brandon (like anyone was surprised). It’s also how I know that Corey was told to kill me if I came out of that chamber wrong, or that the Commander still hasn’t been given a full briefing on what happened to me. 

I hate it. 

Mutons came running out of the ship, escorting a Berzerker. That’s all they send against us: canon fodder. Yuzuki put a round through one of the Muton’s heads, then Scott filled the other with plasma. Alone, the Berzerker charged. Chris and Corey got off a shot, but it was closing fast. I couldn’t get an angle with my rifle, and I heard Chris scream as the massive creature reared back to strike.

And then it happened. 

When I first left the chamber, I remember the feeling of pulling. It felt like I was connected to objects all around me. I don’t recall much else, but they say I was able to levitate objects. 

Anyway, the Berzerker was moments away from painting the ground with bits of Chris when I felt that sensation, that pulling. I reached out and grabbed, but not with my hand. I can’t explain it properly, but for a moment I saw the world through the eyes of the alien. I was inside its head, peering out. And I screamed. 

The Berzerker jerked back as though shot, blood spraying from its face, and it collapsed to the ground. 

The rest of the battle went without incident. A few Floaters and a Commander, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I don’t remember any of that. I only feel the sensation of alien brain tissue between my fingers, and the way it popped as I squeezed tight. 

What have I become?

Author: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor

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