The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

X-COM Chronicle – Entry 31: Hypersensitive

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

03 November 2015 / Granite Peak / X-COM

 I sat inside the cramped office for close to an hour before Dr. Vahlen appeared. She looked ragged, as if she hadn’t slept for days. CO Brandon and Dr. Chen walked in behind her, closing the door. There was barely enough room for everyone to stand. 

CO Brandon turned on the wall projector and blue light bathed us all. Seconds later, the Commander’s face appeared. 

“Colonel Korenman, it’s good to see you up and about.”

“Thank you, sir.”

He eyed the other people in the room. “Doctors, Brandon. I know you’ve all been working overtime to get the new project off the ground. I think it’s time we brought our team leader up to speed.”

Dr. Vahlen pulled out a clicker and the screen split in two. The Commander’s face watched on as a slide show presentation began. I recognized the beacon in the first image. 

“Since the capture of the alien beacon, we have worked around the clock to discover its secrets. One of the most troubling aspects of the device is a single strand of energy we’d been tracking since before the its capture. Dr. Chen? Can you elaborate?”

The old man smiled and took the remote from his counterpart. “Thank you, Dr. Vahlen. Colonel, the Hyperwave Beacon, as we’ve come to call the device, acts as a transmitter. It’s how we managed to locate it in the first place. The Outsiders, those glowing alien commanders we found near downed ships, reported back to the Sectoid Commander through the beacon. In turn, it appears that all of the aliens we’ve encountered were following orders projected out through this incredible machine. 

“The Sectoids and the other X-rays communicate through a complex psionic network. Only the Sectoids appear to have this innate ability in their DNA, while others have been augmented to receive and transmit signals. It is a remarkable discovery. An entirely new method of communication.”

Dr. Vahlen nodded. “But with this came a troubling realization. The Hyperwave Beacon was transmitting and receiving data in unimaginably powerful bursts, and we can’t find the other end of the line. After carefully studying the beacon and the signal, we’ve come to a startling conclusion. The Hyperwave Beacon communicates through interdimensional space.”

I guess my poker face wasn’t on, because they knew I hadn’t a clue what that meant. 

“We’ve been trying to figure out where the aliens came from.” Dr. Chen clicked through the slides until he got to a galactic map. “So far, we’ve been unable to connect them to any suspected life-bearing planets. It was only when we examined the beacon that we determined they weren’t from anywhere in the Milky Way. Wherever they started from, they got to us through trans-dimensional space. That means we won’t be able to hunt them down back to their homeworld, and it means we have no idea how to stop them.”

“Well, not quite,” Dr. Vahlen said. “We are currently building a reaction chamber for the Hyperwave Beacon. A psionically-tuned candidate should be able to interact with the signal and locate the alien command center. With that information, we could launch a strike against their most powerful ships, and maybe even put an end to this war.”

I mulled that over. “Wait, psionically tuned? What does that mean? We’re looking for people who can do what the aliens do?”

“Yes,” Dr. Vahlen replied. “We believe that humans have the capacity for psionic power in the same fashion as the aliens. We have devised a method to test this theory, although it is as of yet unproven. With the Commander’s permission, we will ask for volunteers to try it out.”

A knot formed in my stomach. “What happens to these candidates if they are attuned?”

“The process is simple and painless, if somewhat tedious. Inside the reactive chamber, we bombard candidates with increasingly potent psionic signals replicated by the Hyperwave Beacon. If they are not gifted, they will most likely suffer a few headaches and be fine upon release. If they are gifted, their bodies will react in defense and send a counter signal.”

CO Brandon shrugged. “I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me either. But the Commander fully endorses this plan, and it may be our only hope at finishing this fight. Colonel, I know you’ve been asked to handle an incredibly burden, but we need your support when this goes to the soldiers. They have to believe in this plan.”

There was no sense in fighting it. I stood up, pushing away from the table. “I’m on board, but with one condition. I want to be the first through these tests to see if they’re safe. I won’t subject my soldiers to anything dangerous if I’m not willing to take the risk myself.”

Dr. Vahlen seemed especially pleased. “Remarkable news, Colonel. We can begin whenever you’re ready.