RP XCOM: The Story of Defiance.


Game Master
Staff member
XCOM Warship “Jupiter”, Somewhere in the Upper Atmosphere
0900 Hours (Local Orbital Time), December 18th, 2018
Commander's Room/Office

Morrigan lazily hit a few keys on the computer before her, glancing ever so often at the cheat sheet she had been provided to try and work around the alien controls. Bored with that, her eyes darted around the room. Acedia's personal chamber was made to house one, but was big enough for five, and in the cramped confines of the ship, space management superseded Commander privileges. And so, she watched her new roommates go about their business.

Her Central Officer glanced over the schematics of the ship, as best she could, while her identical younger self occasionally glanced over, though her focus was more on the various drawings she had taken with her, smiling softly.

Wanting to keep her close, both because of the circumstances of the base evacuation, and because the camped confines of the 'civilian quarters' was probably bad for a pregnant woman five and a half months along, Jessica sat on her make shift bed, lazily feeding her alien pet she had successfully snuck out of the base while looking depressed, as she surely missed her beloved.

Finally, the oddest of bedfellows, Acedia work at a second terminal, having been assigned to work with Cheshire to make the alien computers easier to use by those who spoke an Earth language. She seemed passionate about her job, either because she could do it while relaxing, or because she was assisting in a cause she believed in for the first time in centuries. Likely a combination of the two.

Aya noted the Commander's sad eyes, and asked, "Miss Brigid?"

Morrigan slowly nodded. "But at least she's somewhere safe, or at least safer then here."

Your distance from your daughter gives you great pain, Commander, Acedia said sympathetically. But you can use it to push yourself forward, to strive for the day when you may reunite with her.

Morrigan nodded again. After a few moments, she asked, "Do you have any children, Aergian?"

Acedia stopped typing for a moment, then resumed her work. N... no, Commander. I...

"How old are you?" Morrigan inquired.

Thirty-one cycles, Acedia answered. Noting the Commander's questioning look had not left, she asked, What? I... oh, apologies, um... I believe in human years, I am... 390 years old.

"Excuse me if I'm... just ignorant of Ethereal society," Jessica said, "but nearly 400 years seems an awfully long time, especially if you had a..." Jessica's eyes suddenly saddened as Acedia's head dropped. "Oh... A-Ammelia said you implied your... laʒier was... um..."

Acedia sighed. No more... then my peers. Or my parents. It is... difficult, being born into a respected family ehen you fail to live up to certain standards. You can likely imagine how this is even more the case when you are part of a race that does not have many children. My... tendency to disappoint continued into my arranged union with Stentan'fanmacaria. His inability to live up to his father's impressive legacy left him with no shortage of frustration to direct towards others. This did not stop him from attwmpting to get some use out of me, however. At the very least, I could provide the DNA for an offspring that could make him pround.

Almost afraid to push Acedia any further, Eve slowly asked," How many children did you have?"

Acedia held up two fingers. Volupta, my daughter, was born when I was only ten cycles old. I... I did all I could for her. Having some semblance of power, I could at least assure she survived her birth and first cycle. I even carried her to term myself, despite the strain almost killing us both, because surviving a natural borth usually results in a stronger child. I.... I wanted to prove thatshe could surpass me, and all expectations, without the discipline I was given. Stentan insisted that I was spoiling her, and pehaps... he was right. By her sixth cycle, she was acting the part of rrevolutionary, publicly speaking out the Path and the spread of the Gift to other species that did not embrace it, regardless of how little people would listen. But Stentan heard her. He... he expelled her. Excommunication, I believe would be the human term, thiugh when you are excommunicated from the Path, your existence is void amongst the rest of our race. I... haven't seen her in 190 human years. Knowing what I know know, I... I doubt she is...

Morrigan nodded. "If I remember what you said before, that was around the time you started your... centuries long research project. I can see why now. And your... other child?"

Susancus was the loyal child my laʒier always wanted. A practical copy of him without being a direct clone. He was so loyal, in fact, he was all too happy to die by his father's side shortly before I came here. Acedia narrowed her eyes. Though... if the stories are to be believed, Susancus died in a much more dignified manner then his father.

Morrigan sighed. "Well... at least your husband's dark legacy is..."

No. Acedia start typing faster then before. Stentan's actions were just an extension of his father's actions. This will not be over until the he is dead and gone, but my ship will not be enough. She turned the computer screen towards the others. The Honored Overseer's Supra Battleship is in orbit, as we expected it would be. In time, if it is truly here to hunt us down, it will need to eventually drop into a lower orbit to continue its search, and to refresh its supply of fresh oxygen. That is when we must strike. We must hit it with everything we have, as it will be guarded, secure the power rooms, block the hanger, and take out the Honored Overseer.

Morrigan nodded, smiling faintly. "Alright. Just... heh, show me how to use the communication system on this again, and I'll get on the horn to every Interceptor on this planet to be prepared to ship out at any time. We'll show them what happens when you stir up a hornets nest."


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601 and ZombieSplitter53: “Facing Fears”

Ethereal Supra Battleship, Arkbird
Side Hallway
1915 Hours, December 21st, 2018

Atka stood at the window on the side of the ship, gazing down at Earth. The words of astronauts rang true, the blue orb seeming peaceful and calm. And with the battleship under XCOM control, that seemed even more true. Despite this, Atka felt her hands tremble slightly at her sides, a bit of doubt and fear creeping in. A gentle hand lowered onto her shoulder, and soft voice saying, “Atka?”

The Inuit woman jumped slightly, having been lost in thought. “Oh… uh… hello Jake.,” she replied quietly.

Jake looked out the window, trying his hand at a gentle smile. “Nice view, huh? Little scary, with the whole… window leading to a vacuum. Though… I find the distance from home the most unsettling. Still, this is something not many people got to see before us, right?”

Atka nodded silently. “I’m assuming the view isn’t what brought you here, though.”

“No… no, it isn’t.” Jake closed his eyes. “I… heard what happened on the mission. Particularly… how it ended for you. I’m sorry, Atka. I… can’t imagine what you must be going through.”

“It makes me wonder why I bother giving any of them a chance… when all of them are so blindly devoted they’ll die just to spite me,” the Colonel said weakly.

“Because, Atka, they’ve fallen off the deep end, but you haven’t,” Jake looked into Atka’s eyes. “You’ve been able to retain the goodness inside you, despite all you’ve been through. And you’ve reached out and blessed so many. There are just some who… are too far gone to save. But you’ll keep trying, because you’re soul is too pure to stop.”

“I…” Atka lowered her head. “You think too highly of me. Right now… even with this ship being ours… I just find myself vainly hoping that the Temple Ship won’t come, that this was the last battle… even if there’s no chance he’d turn back now.”

Jake thought for a few moments. Finally, he shrugged. “And? That tells me you long for an end to this strife, this… pain. A lesser person would desire for his arrival, for a chance at revenge. But after all you’ve been through, you just want him to leave us alone. I… I don’t blame you, because I want the same thing, if for no other reason, than because when he arrives, you’ll be at the front of the lines to fight him, and I’ll be back here, wondering if I’ll ever see you again.”

“I… said I wouldn’t die… I just wonder if I can keep that promise.” Atka shook her head. “Every other psionic foe I’ve faced… none of them have compared to the power I felt when I met Phobos. Even if I have everyone with me… it’s not going to be easy to beat him. Not by a long shot.”

Jake ran his hand across his face. “I… I-I know, Atka. I… I want you to… to stay out of it, to… to just run. Be safe, let others deal with it.” He sighed slowly. “But… that isn’t going to happen. You’re too passionate about this world, about saving everyone, about ridding us of these monsters. And if you left, who would take your place? Me? I’d die before I got on to that ship. I… don’t want you to go… but I know you have to, and it makes me feel so empty.”

Atka looked over to him. “I can’t promise that everything will go smoothly… but I can promise that I’ll do everything in my power to come back in one piece.”

Jake stepped forward, slowly wrapping his arms around Atka. “Please, don’t… don’t go into battle for me, or anyone else. Don’t think of me, because all I’ll become is a leash, a weight that holds you back. When you are out there, fight for yourself. Be yourself. If you do that, and think only of the battle ahead of you, I… I know… y-you will…”

Atka rested her head against his chest. “Alright,” she said gently. “Just promise me you won’t be drowning yourself in worry while I’m out there. We may lose video feed, since I’m not sure how much disruption the ship is going to cause.”

Jake nodded. “I promise, Atka. And… I won’t have to worry. I know you’ll come back to me. I… I love you too much to think otherwise.”

The Inuit woman leaned up, kissing Jake gently. “Well, I will have to now… I can’t not come back after hearing that.”

Jake smiled. “And remember, I’m not the only one.” The young therapist looked out the window again. “Your mother and father, Nouja, and the rest of your people are waiting for you. It might sound cheesy as hell, but somehow, I feel them just wishing for you to come back will be enough.”

“I doubt I’ll gain any special power from that… but it will certainly boost my determination,” Atka responded, seeming to have calmed down. “Sorry if I caused you any trouble.”

Jake shook his head. “What are you talking about, Atka? You have literally given me nothing but joy since we met. Since the day I desperately followed behind you a vain attempt stay alive during that fight, to you actually taking the time to thank me for my help, to you saying yes to me wanting to go out with you. To… to us getting closer. Not one moment of that has given me any trouble, and no matter what you say, I can’t help but think about how lucky I’ve been.” He grinned. “Helps that you’ve saved my hide more than once, too.”

Atka smiled, seeming a bit embarrassed. “Well… I’m glad I could do all that. You plan on barging into the Vatican and demanding I be declared a saint?” she asked jokingly.

“Nah… I figure when the people of this world learn about what you, and Desmond, and Emily, and everyone else did for them, they’ll do it for me.” Jake waved his hand out the window. “It… may be hard while you are still in the thick of it to see, but people are safer now. Temple Ship notwithstanding, most of the aliens have had to retreat. I’m… I’m actually confident that the girls are safe down there, assuming Hitomi doesn’t get them into trouble. And it is all thanks to you and the others. You guys saved us.”

The Colonel shrugged. “I’d say we were just doing our job… but they made it a lot more personal than that. The terror attacks, kidnapping and experimenting on people we care about…” Atka placed her right fist into her left palm. “Phobos deserves everything that’s coming to him.”

“And you’ll give him what he deserves, ten-fold.” Jake folded his arms, looking more confident than usual. “Just… do me a favor, if you can.”

“If it’s in the realm of possibility, I’ll do it,” Atka said resolutely. “So, what’s the favor?”

Jake looked around, as if making sure no one was listening in. “Well, uh… they’re pretty durable, so I’m hoping we might be able to unearth them when this is over. But if we can’t, I was only able to save one Ethereal mask thanks to Phobos. So, if it is at all possible, once you put that jackass down, could you… um…”

“I can try to retrieve his mask if I don’t break it in the course of beating him down…” Atka explained. “No promises there.”

“Thanks, Atka. You’re the best.” Jake sounded almost like a child thanking his older sibling, though the way he pulled Atka in for a kiss was anything but.

Atka smiled warmly, staying close. “Anywhere you want to go? We have some time to explore this massive city of a ship while we wait for the inevitable.”

Jake thought about it for a moment. “Well… this ship is pretty big. And has more individual quarters then even the base. I think, considering your rank and the amount of work you’ve put in, I think you should get to pick one out for yourself, especially with plans to pick up the rest of the civilian staff we left behind. Of course… if you didn’t mind a roommate, I know a certain someone who doesn’t have a room yet either.”

“Probably somewhere away from the main guns… the Exalts are swarming around those like moths to a flame right now,” Atka mused.

Jake nodded, and grasped Atka’s hand. “Let’s find something near the mess hall, and preferably away from any supply closets.”


Well-Known Member
Discovery Doesn't Derail - The Exalts

XCOM Warship “Arkbird”
1000 Hours, December 22nd, 2018
Weapons Maintenance Room

Elene looked over the hologram portraying the Arkbird's twin fusion cannons with an expression that could only be described as glee. The blueprints the engineering computers contained revealed the inner workings of the identical guns. Housed in protective, stabilizing alloy chambers was the structure of the cannon, solid except for ten power conduits on each side, top, bottom, and the two lateral sides for a total of forty charging sites. Above them were the small, compartmentalized fusion cores, which would conduct their energies into the barrel of the massive cannons until they were ready to fire.

But what was the most impressive was the breaching power of the fusion lances launched. By Avanix's estimation, no regular battleship could survive a single hit from them. The sheer power of the cannons was enough to impale the Jupiter in one shot. "It is well they did not get a chance to fire upon Acedia's ship, then," the heiress mused quietly to herself. But that was irrelevant now. This power belonged to XCOM and Legion now, and they could put it to use against the Temple Ship.

The data had also revealed several figures on the size of the Ethereal fleet itself, data that was invaluable. There were a total of four supra battleships like the Arkbird. They each had their own specializations. One was currently in orbit around Mars, seeming to focus on shielding to transport a mass of troops, likely the source of most of the invading troops and ships XCOM had been fighting all this time. The third was, unfortunately for the Ethereals, lost on their homeworld. Known as the Jewel of the Fleet, it was meant to be defending the homeworld as a durable, indomitable warship, but had been docked for repairs on a space station in orbit. Fleeing civilians contaminated by the bioweapon had resulted in the deaths of most of the crew, and Phobos had been forced to leave it behind.

The final Supra Battleship was seldom used, contained in a massive hangar just above the belly of the Temple Ship. It was Phobos's personal craft, and was actually the least capable of the four. Its greatest strength came from modified fighters docked in its hangars, piloted by a profusion of Outsiders. The ship itself relied heavily on A.I., the God of Fear seeming to prefer being untroubled by the affairs of the ship when he rarely used it. And that negligence made its systems outdated enough that Elene began to wonder to herself.

"Would it be possible to hack its systems with a similar code to what we used on the alien base in Siberia?" The clone thought aloud.

"Perhaps," Avanix stated. "If we could gain access to its fighters, that would prove invaluable in the coming battle. And commanding the ship itself would remove the threat of it being used to keep the Arkbird busy."

"Something we'll need to be wary of," Elene responded. "For we must focus on putting these cannons to proper use. Destroying the enemy's weaponry is our top priority. We may not be able to take the ship down, and if it warps too close to Earth, we'd risk it crashing down on the surface."

"I don't believe I need to explain the scale of destruction a 2,500 by 1000 kilometer spacecraft crashing into Earth would cause. Land or sea," Avanix replied grimly.

"I think I can do without a massive crater bigger than Japan and a civilization-ending tsunami," Vee chimed in cheerfully. "So we will have to confront him, then."

Elene nodded. "To win this war will we have to defeat Phobos himself and take control of the Temple Ship. If Sapentia is to be believed, we may end up killing civilians in the process of crippling the craft's offensive capabilities so we can get to our foe."

"As regrettable as it is, we are faced with an 'us or them' situation," Avanix intoned dispassionately. "We will attempt to minimize needless deaths, but we cannot risk caution over survival." The original A.I. crossed her mechanical arms. "In any case, it is Thanatos who must shoulder the blame for civilian casualties. He was foolish enough to bring them here in his war, and thus he must face the consequences."

"And we get to kick the fucker when he's down." Vee grinned widely, pushing the grimmer thoughts out of her head. "Sounds like karma to me."

Silicid Breeding Chambers

Emma cautiously kept a hand on her holstered plasma pistol, even if she and Lily were confident with their calculations. Although the biological programming necessary to make the slug-like creatures recognize the Exalts as their masters was not overly complex, the slightest error in judgement could be dangerous. "Be cautious, Lily," the silver-haired clone warned.

"I will be." The copy of Lusett reached out a gloved hand as a small port in the wall opened, and one of the gray creatures slithered out, crawling onto Lily's shoulder. "Hm. It seems to be passive. But let us see if it will be obedient."

"Legion, come in here," Emma commanded one of the A.I.'s frames.

"Does it involve those horrible creatures?" The robot intoned, unusually uncomfortable.


"I refuse, then," the android decided.

Emma sighed, knowing the machine had not yet recovered from losing four of his forms to the alien slugs. "Very well, bring on the second test subject then, at least."

Weapons Maintenance Room

"Onto less ominous matters but serious ones nevertheless," Avanix declared, looking at her mistress. "You had promised to talk to Markus earlier, did you not?"

Elene sighed. "Sometimes, having you in my head can be as much of a deteriment than it can be a blessing."

"You are going to, right?" Vee asked, her expression unusually neutral.

"I am... is something the matter, Vee?" Elene asked worriedly. "With Tom?"

The destroyer shook her head vehemently. "No, we're good. He was a badass, shooting that Ethereal in the chest. I just... I got you two together, in a way. I don't want to see you and him drift apart." Lowering her voice, she added, "I guess that's just childish of me."

Not at all, Avanix echoed in the black-haired clone's head. I wish to preserve the love Elene has found as well. But I believe this is something they will have to resolve on their own.

"We'll see..." was all Vee whispered in response.

Silicid Breeding Chambers

The disabled cyberdisc that Black King had captured was hauled into the room, and Lily knelt down beside it. Do your work, she told the creature in a command from implant to implant. The slug slithered into the inner workings of the round machine, but surprisingly, it soon was practically spat out. "Why...?"

Emma rubbed her chin in thought. "It appears Doctor Vahlen was onto something when she mentioned the Cyberdiscs weren't exactly conventional machines. Their organic components seem to reject total control by the Silicids. Try just the guns."

Lily commanded the alien slug forth again, and it slipped into the guns. While unable to move them accurately, Lily got the feeling that they could be fired at the very least. Or be prevented from firing. The Silicid returned to its brunette master after this second test.

The silver-haired shadow operative knelt down by the cyberdisc, which had an electromagnetic device wrapped around its length. "Are the suppressants working properly?" A nod from one of the engineers. "Then allow it to function, if only slightly."

After brief hesitation, the XCOM staff member nodded, allowing the cyberdisc the ability to turn on some of its systems, though Lily's pet ensured that it had no chance of firing its guns. Realizing it could not terminate the humans around it, the slowly opening cyberdisc merely rested on small landing pads, biding its time.

Emma fixed her gaze on its single, pulsing yellow optic, considering this strange machine silently. "What are you?" She whispered, mostly to herself. Lily and another engineer placed conduits onto either side of the machine's processing banks, opening up two maintenance panels. It briefly resisted, but the electromagnetic suppression device (ESD) quickly quelled that struggle with a stifling thrum. Getting up, Emma looked at databanks as Chesire decoded the alien symbols. Or... tried to.

"What's the matter?" The shadow operative wondered as only half-progress was made, other symbols remaining unchanged from their previous renditions.

"Interesting... a lot of this isn't Ethereal runes," the A.I. stated, manifesting with a crooked smile on the keyboard. "It's a different computing language entirely. Likely, whatever amounts to the Cyberdisc's 'brainwaves'. Or their language... programming... something."

Emma curiously regarded the cat and the translated Ethereal information. "These are... overriding codes implated in. Like... biological programming. So if we remove that..."

"The Cyberdisc will gain its own version of 'free will'. Though I don't know if that'll mean its hostile or not," the striped cat mused. "If I were you dear, I'd go with the former."

"You can do it though." Emma tapped her foot. "Do so, and begin working on translating this new code if you can. Not only can we learn more about this particular foe, but we might even be able to use it to our advantage."

Lily patted the Silicid as it crawled back onto her shoulder. "Strange how the smallest things can lead to the largest discoveries. Thank you, Zejek." The Silicid let out a soft gurgle, almost like a purr, as Chesire got to work.


Operator 21O
Staff member
"Tying the Threads That Bind Us" Part One (DarkGemini24601 and MarineAvenger)

XCOM Warship “Arkbird”
1530 Hours, December 22nd, 2018
Markus Grathem’s Quarters

There was an odd silence in the room Markus stayed in, one he would not have thought of if he had not known he was on a massive battleship. He sat on the bed, holding his head in his hands, slight black bags under his eyes from exhaustion. He had not slept a wink since the battle, both fear of attack and the uneasiness he felt from being in the vacuum of space didn’t help to his sleep efforts. Even Riley laid on the floor of the room on his side, whimpering slightly as even his furry companion was feeling uneasy. Eve’s rifle leaned against the bunk next to him as he always seemed to keep it close to him, now even more so. “Sometimes I think my entire situation is detrimental to my sanity.” Markus thought out loud, Riley barking in response and earning a slight grin from the scientist.

A knock came gently on the door, Elene speaking from the other side. “Are you currently busy, or can we perhaps talk?”

His head slowly turned to the closed door and said, “My door is always open. Usually if I am busy I lock the damn thing...though the locks are kind of complicated on this ship.”

Elene pushed open the door and walked inside, taking a seat in a chair at the desk nearby. “I’m… not exactly sure how I should begin this conversation…” she muttered.

“What conversation? Most of the time aren’t you supposed to actually know what you are going to say before coming? Though I do make the mistake of saying what I think on the spot and hoping for the best. Thoughts aside, just come out and say what you need to.”

“What are your plans for after the war?” Elene asked plainly.

“I...thought we already hashed this out. Why are you bringing it up again?” His voice was cold, but there was no scorn in it.

“I’m not exactly sure the answers I gave you were satisfactory. You’ve… been avoiding me,” the heiress replied, shifting uneasily.

“I may have, though you are largely not at fault to be honest.” Markus sighed a little bit and rubbed his neck. “Is that what this is all about?”

Elene nodded. “I merely wish to know if there is anything I am doing wrong and correct the error if possible.”

“Elene…” Markus looked at her, even though he would have preferred not to. “It...it just isn’t something you can fix as if you are a machine. What is wrong is the fact that…” He was silent, suddenly losing his courage.

“It isn’t a matter of reprogramming,” the clone responded curtly. “More of changing behavior that may be causing a rift between us. And I cannot do that if you do not speak honestly with me.”

“Look...you have your plans after the war but...your plans can’t be mine. I don’t want to just sit on the side and wait for you to have the time of day for me. I have a life back home, one that I love and it frustrates me that I am forced between choosing you or myself. I want you to be happy, I really do but I don’t think you will be able to do it with me holding you back.”

Elene frowned, considering him for a moment. “I’m not quite sure I follow… what about our goals is incompatible? I have stated that I can set up a base of operations in Australia, and in all likelihood I can manage the affairs of Exalt Enterprises from there… so unless you specify what still does not line up, I cannot understand what is bothering you.”

“That is just it, I don’t want you to come to Australia and still have to worry about your company. I understand that what you're doing is helping people but I don’t want to have to worry about your job whisking you away at any moment. That life...is just not one that I want to follow...Elene…” Markus said in a low voice.

Elene was silent for awhile. “You’re… saying I have a choice between running my company and thus…” The clone shook her head. “Between that and you?”

“I should have never said anything,” Markus mumbled. “I never wanted to do this. Never wanted to force something like this...I should have known this was a mistake.”

“Then why are you? Why is it such a massive issue that I might not be able to spend all of my time with you? That isn’t possible for anyone,” Elene countered. “You’re not thinking about this rationally.”

“I’m not saying every second of every day but I shouldn’t have to be competing with your job for your attention. I hate to say it but...I don’t think I could make you understand. It is not a feeling I can just teach you like anything else. It is not about thinking Elene, love never is.”

Elene looked down for a moment, massaging her temples. “So what is your solution, then? That I do nothing instead? Or did you not even consider a solution, and are just confronting me with an ill-conceived problem that I have no hope of correcting?”

“And that is why this is so tough. I am not saying I want you to stop pursuing your goal I just…” Markus averted his eyes. “I just don’t see myself following the same path.”

The heiress sighed. “Then what path would you follow? What do you want, specifically, that I cannot provide if I pursue my own dreams?” Elene looked up with frustration evident on her face. “I won’t take ‘you won’t understand’ for an answer here… if that’s all you have to say to me then you aren’t being reasonable at all.”

“I want to be normal again Elene! Look around you, do you really think any of this is where I thought my life was heading? You were born into this...I wasn’t. I want to be normal, and to not have to worry about anything concerning this god damn war!”


Operator 21O
Staff member
"Tying the Threads That Bind Us" Part Two

Elene shook her head. “I didn’t have a choice in my origins just as much as you didn’t expect the job offer to turn out to be EXALT. But do you really think your idea of normal is going to remain constant? The world changes… and it will change even more now that all this technology has been developed. It would be foolish to just… try and seal it all away… perhaps even impossible. So regardless of whether you follow me or not, you’re not going to lead the exact same life you left off as if nothing had ever happened.”

“Well...we all have dreams now don’t we?” Markus laid himself down on the bed, covering his eyes with his arm. “I love you, I really do, I just don’t know how much I can take…”

Elene clenched her fists. “Damn it, Markus! Listen to yourself! And listen to me! I have no interest in arguing with someone who won’t budge a centimeter!”

Markus was silent, knowing anything he said would just make her even more angry. I should have never said anything… “Look...I’m sorry. I just...I’m just…” He slowly lifted himself up and looked at her. “I guess I am just in a rough spot, I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I know this isn’t your fault I just don’t want to lose you. You mean a lot to me.”

“Then don’t… hurl issues at me that are impossible to resolve. You’re not going to be competing with my company for my time… no more than anyone else. That’s ‘normal’.”

“I guess so…” Markus got up from his bed and he grabbed another chair, sitting down next to her and putting his hand on hers. “You’re not the one to blame for my problem. I just haven’t slept in a while and I am guessing the stress is taking it’s toll.” He gave her a weak smile and slumped down slightly in the chair.

“Sleep is not something one can simply neglect forever… and you are allowed to tell me about your problems, all I ask is that you be reasonable with me about them,” Elene furthered.

Markus slowly nodded his head. “No one can really prepare you for the rough spots, huh? I guess maybe we needed this, to get mad at each other for once. I think it would have been a bigger problem if we never fought at all.” He chuckled a bit and lightly squeezed Elene’s hand.

Elene shrugged. “Perhaps… though it is not a situation I want to repeat.”

“I am sure we will have a few later on in the future. Can’t completely avoid it after all.” Markus scooted closer to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t want you to think I resent you or something like that because of this. Me and you are a team after all, I don’t think anything can change that. So do what your heart says. Might sound a little stupid but you have been doing it more and more lately, and I am proud of you. I remember a time where things would have to be explained for fear they flew over your head. Shows how much you have grown.”

“That is true… and starting this business is part of that growth as well. It will work out, I promise. I may need time to get past the hectic beginnings, but after that… we could probably start a family like you wanted,” Elene stated simply.

He smiled, wrapping his arm around her and pulling Elene close to him. “Vee, Emma, Lily, and you are my family. I am sure ours will come in time but for now...I can live with what we got already.” He smiled, adding, “I wonder if they will like to meet Will and Chelsea. Now that I think about it, Emma reminds me of my brother a lot actually. Fuse Lily and Vee together and you basically got a spitting image of my sister, the massive nerd she is.”

Elene chuckled. “I’m sure they’ll get along, then.”

“I am sure my parents will love you too. Never brought a girl home before, so this will definitely surprise them. I don’t think my siblings told them yet.”

“Do you honestly trust siblings not to?” Elene asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Trust me, they would do it just to make the situation all the more awkward for me.” He kissed the top of her head for a long while and laid his against hers. “I’m just glad I survived getting Desmond’s permission. At least Vee was actually supporting us, I don’t know how the hell I would have convinced her.”

“Judging from how tense she got when she was worried about us, I don’t think she would have it any other way. And if you had actually tried to leave she might have kidnapped you,” Elene said casually.

“I have the feeling there is more truth to that statement then I care to think about.” Markus looked out the small window of his room and took in a deep breath. “It really is peaceful now that I think about it. No simulation could top something like this.”

Elene smiled. “I may end up building a space station… who knows?”

“Lets start small first. No need to go all out right away, then the fun would be gone.” Markus took a long, drawn out sigh and rubbed his eye. “I think I might get some sleep...maybe I will feel better afterwards. Care to join me? I am sure you have been working hard with your sisters and we might as well. Besides, you could always sneak out after I fall asleep…” He said with a small smile.

“As if I’d want to,” Elene replied, lying down next to Markus.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, Frostlich1228, & ZombieSplitter53: "A Beginning and an End."

X-COM Headquarters, Warship “Arkbird”
Dec. 23rd, 1030 Hours

Ammy sat over Mary’s bed, smiling gently at her sister as she silently laid there. Her face was covered by a clear breathing mask and plenty of tubes went in and out from under the blankets. Plasma blasts has severely damaged the right side of her chest, melting part of her heart and destroying one of her lungs. She hadn’t woken up since they brought her into the ship’s infirmary and the doctors explained that even with our advancements in medicine it would still take almost a week. Ammy was just thankful of that gene-mod that she got; it is better to hope for the best but prepare for the worst after all.

Ayame slowly entered her room, followed by Buniq. The sight of Mary’s condition was painful, even if it wasn’t the first time. Still, she tried to smile, pulling up a chair on the opposite side of the bed so Buniq could sit next to Ammy. The trio sat in silence for a few minutes, before Ayame finally broke the silence. “This, uh… hell of a birthday week, huh?”

“Yeah… I regret not celebrating it earlier, but with all the drama that’s been happening it slipped my mind…” Ammelia replied slowly, “I’m just happy she’s alive…”

Ayame nodded, reaching out a squeezing Mary’s hand. “She’s strong. Takes more than a point blank shot to put her down. Just… damn, I was right there, and yet I couldn’t do anything. If only I’d been a little faster. Didn’t expect flying Mutons, though… damn it…”

“It’s alright… I’m sure it wasn’t your fault… Although her teammates were strangely vague about what exactly shot her…” Ammy said, still wondering why.

Ayame’s eyes darted back and form for a moment. “I’m… not sure. I think it must have been one of those psions… I guess.” She shook her head. “Damn monsters. And then there was that kind monster.” She grinned at Buniq. “I saw the footage from those helmet cams. Pretty badass. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I didn’t know you had it in you.”

Buniq rubbed the back of her neck. “I-I wasn’t sure I d-did either…”

Ammelia looked over at Buniq, “When I heard you were going to fight The Honored Overseer, I think I almost had a panic attack… But I shouldn’t have worried so much, you’ve been improving so much lately. I’m really proud of you.”

The chryssalid hybrid nodded slowly. “W-with full c-control over my p-plating and the r-rift blades, I c-can hold my own… t-though I’m no g-good with guns… b-because of my a-aim.”

Ayame shrugged. “Well, practice makes perfect, though you could always go with those mini plasma shotgun things Atka swears by. Aim would be much of a problem close up and with a scatter shot, right?”

Buniq blinked. “Y-you’re right… t-that might w-work.”

Ayame smiled, and looked back down at the sleeping soldier. “Ammy, I… I know you two haven’t had much time together, but… but would you say you know a bit about how Mary thinks? Being her sister, and all?”

“I… Think I’d know a little about how she thinks…” The sniper answered, “Why?”

Ayame sighed. “I… I need to go back to America when this is over. I have work to do there, and I promised Atka I’d be nearby to help her and her people. I know Mary will probably want to go back to England, and I know we promised each other there’d be no hard feelings if we don’t last, but… but I don’t want her to go back there. That’s where all her pain is. The… the sad life she had to live. I want to take her away from that, but I’m afraid she’ll say no.”

Ammy sat quietly for a second, “I… I don’t really think she has a reason to go back there… I don’t think she had too many friends in the military… And I know how much she loves you… I think she’d choose you over England… You make her happy after all.”

Ayame smiled again, and squeezed Mary’s hand a little tighter. “Thanks, Ammelia. That… that means a lot.” She took a deep breath, and decided to cheer up. “So, Buniq, are you returning to Canada with Atka, or are you going to stick by Ammy’s side? I’m sure Dr. Cross would love to have you.”

“I-I’ll probably go with A-Ammelia… C-Canada’s not bad, b-but that’s not m-my home… that was h-hers. I might v-visit, though,” the hybrid explained.

Ayame glanced at Ammy. “Do you think you could find some work for her… when she’s old enough, at least.”

“I think I could find something for her to do, “Ammy smiled, “Too bad you can’t get paid for being adorable though.”

“Y-You say that w-without being able to s-see me y-yet… o-outlines are a-adorable?” Buniq asked, reddening slightly.

“No, you're adorable. Your personality. Although, if you look anything like I think you do, everything else about you is just as adorable.” Ammelia responded.

Ayame grinned. “You are quite cute, Buniq, and Ammelia will see that with her own eyes soon enough.” She chuckled. “Could you imagine, though, if they put some different parts on her, like those Chryssie eyes, or those drooling mandibles. As far as hybrids go in the looks department, I think you’re as perfect as they come.”

“I think she’d still be perfect even if she did have drooly chryssalid mandibles.” Ammy replied, smiling.

“S-Stop…” Buniq whined like a child.

Ayame laughed loudly. “You two make a great couple.” She looked back at Mary, moving a hair out of the sleeping woman’s face. “I… I’d like for the two of us to get to that stage someday. If she came with me to America, it would be a chance for her to start over. She deserves that chance.”

“You two make a great couple too…” Ammelia replied, “Oh! I almost forgot…” Ammy reached over and pulled out a wrapped rectangle shaped item, sitting it on the table next to Mary’s bed. She unwrapped it, revealing a small cake with both their ages written on the top with chocolate and surround by white icing. “I asked one of the kitchen workers back on Acedia’s ship to help me make this the day before the mission. One half is vanilla, for me, and the other half is chocolate, for Mary.”

“That’s really sweet of them.” Ayame frowned. “Just… just wish Mary could wake up to enjoy it. It just isn’t fair. Between her chest, my hand, your spine, and the torture they put Buniq through…” She sighed in frustration. “But it’s almost over. I just hope Mary will be there with us to take down that bastard leader, and maybe a few more Ethereals for good measure.”

“The doctors said she’d be out in less than a week.” Ammy added, “I’m sure we could store it until she wakes up.”

Ayame nodded, and gave Buniq a serious look. “Ammelia, I… I know you aren’t going to like this, but… but I think Buniq should go with us, too. She’s proven how capable she is, and I feel we would be at a loss without her.”

Ammy gave Buniq a slightly worried look, “I… I’m scared she’ll get hurt… But… I won’t let that happen if I’m there to protect her.”

The Asian woman nodded again. “You’d make quite the pairing. A short range and long range team, with Mary acting as the medium range.” She smiled gently at Buniq. “Of course, it is your decision. I know the Commander would never force you.”

“I-I’m willing to go,” Buniq said resolutely. “I-I think a-anyone that c-can is willing to.”

“Then I’ll be sure to protect you… I refuse to let you walk through hell without someone you love by your side.” Ammy said, bringing Buniq in for a hug.

Ayame smiled gently, and kissed Mary lightly on the cheek. “Not too long, Mary,” she said in a practical whisper. “It’ll all be over, and we can put this nightmare behind us.”

As Ayame kissed the sleeping gunner, Mary’s right eye opened slightly, looking into Ayame’s as the corner of her mouth turned up a little.


Game Master
Staff member
MarineAvenger & ZombieSplitter53

X-COM Headquarters, Warship “Arkbird”
Main Engineering Bay
December 22nd, 1130 Hours

Alice lifted her fingers, wiggling them slightly and frowning. “It… it feels really weird.”

Sunny nodded. “I’d imagine so. But it isn’t like it is something you’ll have to get used to.” She smiled as Desmond approached their little corner. “Hey, over here. Thanks for coming.”

“No problem. What did you need me for exactly?” He asked, crossing his arms and leaning against a table.

Sunny slipped on a small helmet, the top of it glowing a faint violet. Alice stepped forward into a small open space, and Sunny said, “Can you spar with her for a quick minute?”

“Uh…” He looked at Alice for a quick second and back to Sunny. “What is this for if you don’t mind me asking?”

Sunny waved her hand in the air, and Alice mimicked the gesture. “It’s an interface. It directs my technokinesis directly into Alice’s body, giving me full control. I just need to make sure it works during a fight.”

“And this won’t...hurt either of you, right?” He asked a little worried.

Sunny thought for a moment, then shook her head. “No, as long as you don’t hit her with a mind fray or something.”

“Well no worries with that, I don’t use mind powers like that anyways.” He took a loose defensive stance and held up his hands. “Come at me.”

Sunny and Alice nodded in unison, and Alice charged forward. She swung with her usual impressive strength and speed, but seemed off. Despite the fact that she was using her usual brand of fighting and changing things up, everything she did seemed delayed, and Desmond soon got into a rhythm of blocking all of her attacks and throwing his own Alice couldn’t block. After a few moments, Sunny sighed and took off the helmet, rubbing her temples. “Darn it… so close…”

“Well, it seems your problem is obvious…” Desmond started, rubbing his sore arms from blocking the androids attacks. “Sunny, why are you even doing this? It seems Alice can handle herself for the most part so why the manual control?”

Alice shook her head. “It isn’t out of a lack of trust. It is a contingency.”

Sunny nodded in agreement. “We don’t know if we’ll encounter a Ethereal strong enough to get past Alice’s mechanical lockouts and take control of her biological components, so I wanted to design a system that’ll let me control the machine part of her remotely. And now that we’ve encountered a biomechanical alien… slug… thing, that can basically mind control machines, so this needs to be ready incase that happens as well.” Sunny smiled as she looked at the readings on her computer. “But I… I think you’ve helped me narrow down the issue.”

“Alright, it was the least I could do. New arm works wonders by the way, I like the new design changes.” He said with a smile, lifting up the arm and tapping it.

It is quite the impressive piece of technology from one so young. I would love to see the schematics for it one day. Acedia stood next to Desmond, admiring his arm, the psionic soldier not noticing her at first thanks to the bracelet on her arm that suppressed her energy.

“Oh… hello. I guess those bracelets really do work. How have you been since our last meeting Acedia?” He asked, looking at her with a little bit of caution.

I have been well, considering the situation. Your Commander has been most forthcoming with me, though I do not have you full trust, for obvious reasons.
The Ethereal looked Desmond in the eyes. I was actually… hoping I could request your assistance with something, Mr. Walker.

His eyebrow rose slightly and he straightened up. “With what? I don’t really know how I could be useful to you at the moment.” Desmond asked, rubbing his hand.

Obviously, you underestimate the trust those close to you have in you. I was informed there was another Ethereal on board by Luxuria, a young one. If she is who I think she is, I would like you to introduce us.

Desmond stroked his chin for a bit and he nodded. “Sure. I could introduce you to Jan’Tiala.” He gave a small smile and nod to Sunny and Alice in departure and began walking with Acedia in search for his Ethereal friend. “I want you to know my caution is not particularly against you. Just give me a bit and I will adjust to you.” He accented with a small smirk at the Ethereal and looked forward again.

Acedia bowed her head slightly. That is very kind of you to say, and I appreciate your open-mindedness. I only hope Jan’tiala did not suffer too much in earning trust thanks to the misguidedness of her people.

The pair entered a small lab on the side of the ship Desmond had claimed as his own. Desmond entered with the confidence of one who was at home, but Acedia was a bit more reluctant. The teenage Ethereal looked over, smiling at Desmond, but her smile faded when she noted his company. “What… what is this, Desmond?” she asked out loud, as if to defy the Ethereal’s usual manner of speaking.

“My… friend here wanted to meet you. She has an inhibitor on so do not worry about her using any powers.” He took a seat on a chair and waved for the two to introduce one another.

Acedia slowly bowed her head. I… I am Aergian'hynopheus. Though I am used to being called Acedia. I was informed of your presence here by Luxuria, and felt we might… meet.

Tiala folded her arms. “Well… hello. We have met now. And you may go.”

Acedia’s shoulders slumped a bit. That… reaction is fair. Though I wished we could speak a little more. Your… your full name is Jan’tialamacaria, is it…

A dark aura burst out of Tiala, and she lifted her arms. The inhibitors giving the younger Ethereal the advantage, she thrust Acedia into the wall, pinning her there. Don’t you dare refer to me by that name!


Game Master
Staff member
Desmond rushed to Tiala’s side and wrapped his arm around one of hers. “Stop! Release her this minute!”

No! Only a spy working directly under him would know that name!

N-no, I… I’ve… I-I’ve done research, I… I am sorry, I mean you… n-no harm….

Desmond had his sword in his hand and had the tip pointed at the young Ethereal’s neck. “I gave you an order! Do not make me have to use force on a friend.” His eyes flared with anger and he clenched his jaw. “Now.” He simply stated.

Tiala shuddered a bit, and Acedia telepathically shouted, No, please, don’t, she… she has a right. I could never live it down if I let my… my friend’s daughter…

Jan’tiala’s eyes widened a bit, and she carefully released the other Ethereal. Her aura dissipating, she slowly turned to Desmond and bowed her head. “I… I am sorry, Desmond, I… lost my temper…”

Desmond sighed in relief for a long while, putting his sword on his back once more and pulling Tiala in a hug. “Now tell me what is going on. What does she mean by her friend’s daughter?”

Acedia slowly rose to her feet, and cautiously approached the others. I… I was close to her mother. I met Tiala’leomacaria before she became Thantos’s partner. I… I had always known she had a child with him, but after Jan’tialama… Jan’tiala was born, I almost never heard from her. And… and then I was informed she died in an accident…

Tiala scoffed. “She didn’t simply die. She was murdered… by your Exalted Commander, for trying to save me…” She waved her hand towards Acedia and looked at Desmond. “Just another Ethereal lie to get close, then she’ll stab us in the back.”

Desmond looked at the young Ethereal with a hard look. “Do not be harsh. I remember a time where we said the same about you if I recall correctly. You should at least hear her out.”

Tiala looked away and childishly folded her arms, but nodded. Acedia smiled at Desmond. Thank you, Mr. Walker. But as I said, she has a right. It… it is my fault she ever met her laʒier… though I suppose if it were not for me, you wouldn’t have been born.

And you say that like it would be… Tiala shook her head, and turned back to Acedia. How did you know my father anyway?

Acedia hesitated, wondering if she’d be lashed out again. I… I had a union with his son… a-arranged union. A-and not one I approved of…

“Well it seems obvious it was not something you approved of. Arranged marriages are tricky things, that is why our culture moved away from them, though some areas around the world still do, and it is not like some relationships without the arrangement are always happy.” Desmond looked between the two Ethereals and he locked his gaze on Tiala. “Look...I know how you feel about your father, but if Acedia is here, it is a sign that she has no love for him either. Give her a chance...for me.”

Tiala looked down for a few moments, before finally nodding. “Very well. If… if you can trust her, then I will as well.”

“Good. Now please, talk this out…” He looked at Acedia and gave her a nod.

Acedia crouched down in front of Jan’tiala. I did some investigating after her death. And the work on you. It… it was difficult, but I believe I found evidence of the true experiments done on you. It will take time, but with what else I found, and your mere existence, I believe we can end this bloody campaign.

And… and you would do this. Defy the Path like…

No. What this war has become is defying the Path. I… know you have no reason to care about your people, but with your help, and the help of the humans, we can set them on the path of redemption.

Jan’tiala nodded. That… that would be acceptable. She smiled at Desmond. “With your help, of course.”

Desmond smiled weakly and looked down, scratching his head. “Hey...look...there is something you should know. Look Tiala, I am just here to fight the war. Afterwards...I leave that to the Commander and Atka. I intend to lay low after all of this. I have other things to worry about and besides, I was never much of a proper leader. I just took up the call when I was needed.”

Tiala shook her head, and quickly floated up to Desmond, cupping his hand in her four. “I would never ask you to push yourself like that. It is not your responsibility. I… I just ask for your assistance in assaulting the Temple Ship. After that, I would only insist you live your life how you want to… how you deserve to.”

Desmond put a hand on her head and smiled. “One final battle. Now that this is here...it almost seems surreal. A few months ago I was a nobody who was trapped in a cell like a lab rat. Now...I am starting a family. Things really do change quickly.”

Tiala nodded, smiling gently. She turned to Acedia, and waved towards the door. Well… shall we make some plans then.

Acedia nodded, and the two headed out. The older Ethereal stopped at the door and turned back. Thank you, Desmond. I am in your debt. Do not hesitate to ask me if there is anything I can do for you.

Desmond waved her away, chuckling to himself. “Go on. You owe me nothing. Just...keep her away from chocolate.” He warned.

Acadia blinked a few times. What… what is chocolate?

Desmond tensed and waved his hand. ‘Don’t worry about it! You stay away from it too!” Taking a deep breath he calmed himself down. “Just...go hang out with your new best friend.” Acedia smiled again, and rushed off.


Game Master
Staff member
MarineAvenger & ZombieSplitter53
"The Soldier and the Bureaucrat"

X-COM Headquarters
Laboratory of Desmond Walker
Dec. 23rd, 1000 Hours

Taking a second to look around the large, new lab that had been assigned to him, Desmond couldn’t help but feel a tinge of guilt about his old one. It had held all the small gadgets and contraptions that Ryan had made when he was still alive, all obliterated it an instant. “We are nearing the end, buddy. We will make your death mean something...I promise…” Turning around, he looked over a couple of schematics for some items Sunny had sent his way to look over, wanting to get some second opinions on some new ideas.

A gentle knock came from the door, a woman’s voice calling out, “Mr. Walker, are you in?”

“Yeah, come on in!” He yelled in response. Not looking up from the work he was doing.

A middle-aged woman with dark skin and grey streaks in her black hair stepped inside, and looked around. She let out a soft whistle as she approached Desmond, and said, “My, my, Mr. Walker. Ms. O’Brien sure must put a lot of faith in you to give you such a large space to work in. Not that we are lacking in space. Though, call me nostalgic, but I prefered the base we had spent decades building and maintaining over this ship, firepower and mobility notwithstanding.”

“And I am sure many share your sentiment. To be honest I don’t know why they gave me such a large space, the last one I barely used for the purpose it was given to me for in the first place. Just became a sort of personal hideaway and training spot.” Looking up, Desmond rose an eyebrow and crossed his arms. “I don’t think we have met before, Miss...?”

“Carter. But please, call me Rebecca.” The Councilwoman extended her hand. “I was actually on the base for a while, but I had to stay out of sight. I’m sorry we didn’t meet until now.”

He took her hand and shook it briefly before Desmond found a couple of seat and sat down in one. “So what is it you do, Rebecca?”

Rebecca smiled, and sat across from him. “Well, at the risk of this conversation ending here and now, and assuming they don’t come up with some bull to keep me out, I am the American representative of the Council of Nations.”

Desmond’s face hardened slightly and he sat upright. “The Council, huh? I admit, you really have some guts coming here, I will at least tell you that.”

Rebecca grinned, and leaned forward. “Oh, come now, Mr. Walker. You aren’t going to threaten a woman more than twice your age, are you? I… may I call you Desmond?”

Desmond nodded. “If there is one thing you will come to know about me Rebecca, it will be that I don’t make threats, I make promises...now why are you here?”

Rebecca’s smile faltered a bit, but it was obvious she had made a career out of talking to people that don’t care for her. “Desmond, I want to be completely honest with you. There was a lot of dissatisfaction amongst the Council when we learned that you were… not completely honest when you came here. Many pushed for your continued imprisonment… including myself, at first. The, uh… the fact that you’re a clone didn’t help with that. I’m telling you this so you’ll know I’m going to be honest with you. No bullshit.”

“Then allow me to be honest with you.” Desmond leaned forward and put his chin on his knuckle. “I don’t trust any of you, nor do I like any of the Council, especially when they threatened my family.”

“And you shouldn’t,” Rebecca answered flatly, the smile dropping from her face. “This probably comes to know surprise to you, but with a few exceptions, the Council members were… are… more concerned with the Council itself, if not simply their own countries. They didn’t trust your family, that’s for sure. They ordered your Commander to plant a bug in their room, something I am glad to say she didn’t do. So why should you trust them? But… but there is a reason you can trust me.”

“Oh I am sure you do have a reason, one that will appeal to me as a person and most likely directly involves me. If there is one thing I take pride in, it is my logical intellect, so please, don’t insult my intelligence and get to the point.”

Rebecca rubbed the back of her neck. “Well… she did warn me to expect this…” She shook her head, and smiled again, though this smile was a bit sadder. “Well, Desmond. If we can’t build a trust, then what I am about to say will likely ring hollow to you, but… but I came here to assure you that neither you, or the Exalts, are at any risk from the Council. I know for a fact that there was a question about how we’d react to your respective involvement with X-COM human opponents and Elene Exalt’s cloning experiments, but… but we have better things to worry about. So we plan to leave you be.”

“You say me and the Exalts but what about the others? The Elites, and Grathem...and what about Lusett’s reputation? What about those? And how can you guarantee that the Council will not come after us in the future?” Desmond took a deep breath and rubbed his face, letting out an angry sigh. “Look...you have to understand that you have given me little to no reason that I should ever trust any of your kind. People like Morrigan earned my respect, you haven’t.”

“I know, Desmond. I know.” Rebecca shook her head. “After the… the aliens destroyed my home, killed my best friend, and nearly killed me… after I found out how they found me, I… I had a lot of thinking to do. Reflection on who was really the most important to this world. People like me, or people like your teammates, who risked themselves to save me.” She closed her eyes, sitting in silence for several moments. When she spoke again, she said, “Your allies will be okay, and I can assure you, all of Lusett’s assets, which were seized when Viktor Dorian’s use of them was discovered, will be turned over to the Exalts. And… if you are willing to listen to me, I have an answer for that final question of yours.”

Desmond looked to the ground, closing his eyes and his hard look not vanishing. “I will listen to you...for now.”

Rebecca slowly reached into her pocket, and produced a large flash drive. “Desmond, are you above a little blackmail? To put it a less… sinister way, how do you feel about fighting fire with fire?”

“What are you talking about?” He asked, shifting a bit in his seat.
“This… this flash drive contains incriminating evidence on all of the Council members. Things that wouldn’t paint them in a good picture if they tried to betray X-COM after the war is over. I, and the members that helped make this, will inform them of its existence once we are done with this battle. It… it even has a few juicy details that could get me in trouble. Which means… my fate is as much in your hands as yours is in mine… if not more so.” Rebecca leaned forward, offering the device to Desmond.

Desmond stared at the device and took the device. “How many of these exist?”

“Three,” Rebecca answered. “On three flash drives. I gave one to your Commander, and one to Colonel Atka. It is the least I can do after they saved my life. And I give the third to you to share with the Exalts. When the war is over, if the Council tries to take action against them, you have the means to ruin them. To ruin me. I… I’m trusting you to use that responsibly.”

“I don’t know if you are stupid for doing this or commendable for it.” Desmond pocketed the USB and stared at Rebecca. He sized her up, his unusual red eyes seeming to peer into her. “If I am going to be honest, I don’t want anything to do with this war after it ends. Nothing would make me happier than to be forgotten by the world, I don’t need its thanks. I just want a better life for me and my family, whether it is the Exalts or my own.”

Rebecca nodded. “I understand,” she said, almost sounding sad. “And you deserve it. You all do. I just want to make sure you can do it worry free.” She rose to her feet, and smiled softly. “Well, I… I did what I came here for. I’ll get out of your hair. And don’t worry, you… you won’t see or hear from me or any of the other Council members again. That information will make sure of that.”


Operator 21O
Staff member

Desmond nodded, sighing to himself. “Look, you can stay a little longer if you want. Besides, there were a few questions I had for you regardless.”

“Oh? Alright.” Rebecca sat back down. “Okay. I don’t have many people to talk to lately. So please, ask me anything.”

“This is more business related but I promised I would at least ask if I got the chance. Me and the Elites are going to need proper identities after the war is over. Will you be able to set those up for us?”

Rebecca rubbed her chin. “Well… I don’t see why not. It shouldn’t be too hard to set you up with the credentials you’ll need to live normal lives.” She grinned. “Just don’t ask us to set you all up as millionaire playboys. Even we have our limits.”

“I can’t speak for the others but I know me and my wife will largely take care of ourselves.” He said, crossing his arms.

“Just a joke, Desmond.” Rebecca chuckled. “I’ll personally make sure your credentials make you as inconspicuous as possible.”

Desmond nodded, leaning backwards. “Like I said, I can’t speak for the others.” He grinned slightly and scratched his nose. “Now, what do you have to ask of me? Even if you do this from the bottom of your heart, I am sure you want something in return. I could maybe share some things with you if you want to know more about me or the others.”

“Well, Desmond… like I said, the idea of cloning didn’t sit well with many of us. Though I can say now, talking with you, I see no real difference then talking to someone else.” Rebecca sighed. “Understand, it isn’t a personal thing. You can’t help it, obviously. And I’m sure Elene has good intentions, even with how many of her clones ended up being used. Do you… mind if I ask you a question about that?”

“I already gave you the permission to ask, did I not?” He said.

“That you did. Tell me… what do you know about the… original Desmond? Do you have any of his memories? His emotions, his ambitions? Strengths and weaknesses? Or are you a completely different person aside from appearance.”

Desmond considered the question for a moment, tilting his head slightly. “I can’t really say definitively. Every clone seems to be a different. Although I do not know much of the original Desmond, what I do know is that I have retained the same genetic disease that had killed him. However someone like Buniq has retained some memories from her template, and some like the Exalt girls share personality traits with their templates.”

Desmond took a second to gather his thoughts and continued, “Now...someone like Asher and Markus really share very little in common other from looks. To be completely honest, cloning really isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. Nothing wrong really takes place. If the template has consent, there really are no repercussions, clones and their template can lead completely separate lives or lead similar ones, it is a hard call to make.”

“I suppose it is the case with a number of advances in science. In the right hands, it is used the right way. In the wrong hands, you get… Dorian…” Rebecca shook her head. “But I’m sure your sisters are different. Do you know if they’ll continue their experiments? I’d ask them myself, but… somehow, I think they’d give me an even less warm welcome then you did.”

“In the most likely of scenarios, they will. Cloning was Lusett’s last project after all, and to them, the benefits could outweigh the consequences. We saw how ineffective Viktor’s clones were because he had not mastered the process. I mean look at me. It took 42 attempts to get me, and there were no successes afterwards until Elene. It might sound biased, but I would leave her to her work.”

“That sounds like a wise idea.” Rebecca looked a bit hesitant, and slowly said. “Just… one last question. A personal one, and one you can choose not to answer. Your… wife. Does she know… about how you came to be?”

“I have left some of the more...darker parts out of the story but she largely knows about it, as well as the illness I have. To be honest, I don’t think anything I could say would drive her away from me anymore. She loves Elene and the others like sisters and we have...another reason to want to end this war quickly.”

“Agreed. Did you… have anything else you wanted to ask me?” Rebecca inquired.

Desmond thought for a moment and nodded his head. “Just one. If there is another big war in the future, will you call on us again?”

Rebecca thought for a moment, then answered, “I’d prefer to let you live your life as you wish. But you are one of the best. If we need help, we might ask for your assistance. But… I quite like your Commander’s volunteer-only policy. We will likely hold on to that.”

“Alright then.” Desmond stood up, holding out his hand to Rebecca.

Rebecca gladly took it. “I’m glad we could talk on a more civilized manner, Mr. Walker. Even if I’m sure you still have plenty of reservations.”

“I am absolutely livid.” He stated, grinning slightly. “But someone has to be the hardass around here. Atka and Morrigan are good people, so they need me to add a little sharpness to that double edged sword. We probably wouldn’t have made it far in this war if it wasn’t for that simple fact.”

“You certainly have that tough-as-nails soldier edge.” Rebecca shook her head. “But it is good to see you have your priorities straight. Take care of that wife of yours. And good luck with parenthood.”

“I will lose that edge soon enough, so enjoy it while it lasts. I am afraid the next time you see me I might be driving a minivan. My, how the mighty have fallen.”


Well-Known Member
A super soldiers cure

X-COM Headquarters, Warship Arcbird
Primary Laboratory

Dr. Vahlen rapidly typed on her computer, the results of the blood test she had taken displayed, as well as several notes on MELD and gene mods. She periodically moved to the side, peering into a microscope and making a inquisitive noise before returning to the computer. Jessica read pver her shoulder, and periodically smiled back at Eva, who ws eagerly awaiting the results of the test.

All rights doc, I allowed you to see my blood.granted I'm still nervous about showing you my blood,but I want to know what those little alien device are doing in there. So doctors, how's it looking?

"Interesting, Eva. Quite interesting..." Dr. Vahlen examined the findings for a few moments longer. Finally, she turned to Eva and asked, "You said you had enhancements done to you before coming to X-COM, did you not?"

Yes, and I rather not go over the gruesome details of how I got my augmentations, or what had to happen to me to get them. Well it wasn't gruesome but, I rather not talk about it it's a weird topic.

"Well, based on what is not ours, I can assume most of these were for life-saving purposes, and can make the appropriate conclusions from there." Dr. Vahlen casually took off her glasses and started cleaning them. "Eva, you have jad an interesting reaction the the mixture of your mods, our mods, and the MELD."

"More so then any other soldier," Jessica explained. "Obviously your original mods didn't use MELD. I... I don't suppose you know what was used, do you?"

What do you mean? You mean that my body has bonded with the meld right? Eva's eyes widen "Wait wait wait wait, I absorbed the meld. And what do you mean my mods aren't simply mods did they change or something?"

Dr. Vahlen took a deep breath. "You have completely absorbed the MELD into your system. It is remarkable. And because of it, your mods... aren't simply mods. They are completely part of you, and are giving you a variety of benefits."

Eva shakes her head and looks at Jessica. "Ou um sorry Jessica I was just taken by surprise um, to answer your question about my original mods. No I didn't have Meld in me at that time period, um let's just say to make a long story short I was put into this program that had only one subject and it was me. Eva looks back at Vahlen. But can we get back to you explaining how I absorbed the meld and how my mods aren't mods and that there a part of me." Eva says with a worried expression on her face.

Vahlen held up a hand, smiling softly. "Relax, Eva. Perhaps I should have worded that better. What I meant was... your body has completely incorporated the mods into your being... in a good way. I can hypothesize that what ever was used with your original mods mixed with the MELD, improving on it."

"Your iron skin regenerates faster then usual because of this," Jessica added. "You also heal faster, and while I don't suggest trying it out on Ebola or anything, you body can fight poison, viruses, anf bacteria with alarming efficiency."

Eva rises her eyebrows "So, I'm some kind of super human that has some sort of super ability's. I kinda already knew that I was different then most people, and I knew that I was a some sort of super human but to hear this. to hear that the mods adapted around me is just amazing."

"Well, part of the thanks goes to whoever modded you before." Dr. Vahlen gave Eva a serious look. "This... this is quite the advance. Particulary in regards to medical science. We... we can learn a lot from your blood, Eva."

Eva's start's to glare "Are you asking me to give you my blood? Because I'm going to be completely honest with you Vahlen my answer would be No."

Jessica gave Eva worried look. "No one is trying to force you, Eva. But think of the benefits this could have in the medical fields. The illnesses we could cure, all because of you."

"Yea, and imagine all the corrupt people that would try to use my blood as a weapon. They will think to themselves. Wow this stuff works Marico's, I wonder if we tweak abet we can turn this into making the next nuclear bomb."

"But Eva," Jessica insisted. "What about all the people we could potentially..."

Vahlen held up a hand, and Jessica fell silent. Giving Eva a calm, relaxed look, she asked, "So... is there no convincing you?"

"Sorry but no, look I understand that I'm coming off a bit cold but understand. I can not allow any on to get hurt because,some sees my blood as the future of warfare. Please understand my reasoning."

Dr. Vahlen nodded, much to Jessica's surprise. "I do understand, Eva. And I know the risks, as do you it seems. So... I won't push it anymore. I just ask that you keep it in mind for the future."

"I would, thank you for understanding my reasoning. And Jessica I know your disappointed, but please understand my logic and thinking.

Jessica didn't look happy, but she slowly nodded. "I... I do, Eva. I understand."

Eva gives Jessica a disappointed look "Sigh look Jess, I know your up set but there reasoning to my methods. Eva looks back at Vahlen. "So doc, did you find any thing else in my blood?"

Vahlen shrugged. "Only that your body seems to be producing its own brand of MELD. That is quite the immune system you have there."

"Hum how very interesting."Eva signed. "Jessica can I barrow you, out side the lab for a quick minute?"

Jessica looked over at Vahlen, who nodded. "We're done here. Thank you for your time."

Jessica smiled, and walked out of the lab with Eva, still nervous in the unfamiliar alien ship. "What did you want to talk about."

Ok look jess, I want to give you my blood because I understand what it can do medical wise.But I don't trust Vahlen,she kind of gives me a mad scientist feel.

Jessica's eyes darted back and forth. "Y-you... really? W-why me?"

Because I trust you that's why,that's all the reasoning I need.Now tell me,what can my blood do in the medical field?

Jessica shrugged. "I... I won't know for sure until I test it in full. But your blood could contain antigens and antibodies that could hold the future to curing, what are know, incurable illnesses."

Eva rubes her head Ok,look I'm going to give you as much of my blood that you need to get testing.But if you win some sort of Nobel prize,I want you to mention me and Lsett Exalt,are we clear.

Jessica nodded, smiling. "Th-thank you, Eva. But... but I don't want you to feel pressured into it. I do understand why you said no, even if I was upset about it."

"Don't worry Jess your not pressuring me, infact your kind of doing what Lusett wanted. I mean she created Desmond 8 years before she had me, so in that time she hade a lot of work to do and so she kind of put her life's work into me. So your pressuring me, just make sure no one else get's my blood K.

"You got it, Eva. Just... we better wait until after we're done here. My work and files are public access for the most part."

Yea it's probably best we do that, again I'm nervous doing this. However I understand that after the war people will need medical help, and god only knows what kind of diseases the aliens left. So if my blood can help people out then that's great.

"And if I find anything, your name, and Lusett's, will be included in all my findings. And I'll share all my findings with your daughters." Jessica gave Eva a big smile, and offered her hand.

Eva shakes Jessica hand "I knew there was a reason I trusted you when I first got here.Eva looks down at Jessica stomach "Your going to have a very polite mommy when you grow get out of there, I don't like the fact that someone that's 9 years younger then me, is having a baby before me."

Jessica giggled. "Perhaps you and Jean can work on fixing that."

Eva holds her stomach "Yea work on that, I'm not going to lie it would be interesting to see another blue haired girl running around or a brown haired one."

Jessica nodded. "Come on. Let's go talk about it over lunch."

"Yea, it's been a while since we last talked pulse. I need a distraction after the last mission."


Well-Known Member
Adrammalech and ZombieSplitter53: “Probation Officer”
X-COM Headquarters, Warship “Arkbird”
‘Office’ of Morrigan O’Brien
Dec. 23th, 1200 Hours

Morrigan looked over the various pictures she was able to hold on to of Brigids. She hummed a soft lullaby as though her daughter was with her now. As painful as it was, though, she knew she should take the advice of Acedia, an Ethereal of all people, to have that pain push her to continue forward.

A soft knock came from the door, and Morrigan quickly snapped out of her state of mind. “Is that you, Ms. Fischer? Come on in.”

Emily walked in and took a look around Morrigan’s new workspace. “Commander, you rang? Nice new office.”

“Thanks. It was the best I could come up with. Wish we had time to get more human sized furniture, but this’ll do.” The Commander motioned for Emily to sit in front of her desk. “Please, have a seat. I just wanted to check in, and to ask how your… other you is doing.”

“She’s good, mostly minding her own, although she flirts with basically everyone she formally meets,” Emily chuckled, sitting down. “I think she’s addicted to compliments on her new body, more or less.”

Morrigan shifted a bit uncomfortably in her seat. “But… but other then that, she’s behaving… right? No risk of her… going nuts. Not that I’m saying she will, but… she was in that cell for a reason, and we haven’t tested those mobile inhibitors on beings as strong as her yet. I just… need to be careful. Which is why I ordered her to listen to you.”

“Oh, yeah, she’s fine,” Emily nodded. “She’s focused on the same things as us right now, albeit for different reasons. I’d actually trust her to fight with us, if it came down to that.”

“If it comes to that, we’ll see.” Morrigan sighed. “I’m sorry I had to push this burden on you, but you’re the one person she has respect for, and the only person I feel she’d listen to without trouble. I appreciate it, Emily.”

“Really, it’s fine,” she smiled. “She might even surprise you with other people now. She’s changed a lot since I shoved that arc thrower in her gut. More human, even though she’d never characterize it like that.”

“I’m… actually happy to hear that. It shows that it really might be possible to not end this with as much bloodshed as our enemy seems to want.” Morrigan leaned back. “And what about you, and your squadmates? It’s nice to get out of the smaller confines of the other ship, but this ship is still… well, for lack of a better term, alien.”

“Well, I’m comfortable, I spent a lot of my life on weird ships, combine that with an imposed affinity for alien alloy walls and it’s pretty cozy,” Emily remarked. “The others are adjusting, but the cause brings them together like it always has. If we have to stay onboard after Phobos is dead though, you might start hearing some whines.”

“And what about your growth, so to speak,” Morrigan asked. “Anything new from your connection with Luxuria?”

“I’ve been doing it on my own lately, I learned the lance from Desmond and I worked on that pretty religiously before what happened...other than that, I haven’t done much. I could probably ask for more, but I’m kind of glad I have my own progression rather than mooching off of her.”

Morrigan chuckled. “Yeah, I heard about how vigorous you’ve been with your training, working yourself into the infirmary. Remember, Emily, all the training in the world won’t help if you kill yourself training.”

“I’ve got a hold of it now,” she smirked. “I just wanted to show off, really.”

“I see.” Morrigan sighed, and looked down at the photos on her desk. “It’s almost over, Emily. At least, I hope it is. We’re going to need everyone to be in top form. To be prepared for the worst. I’ll be counting on everyone, especially one of my most trusted soldiers.”

“You can count on me,” she nodded. “After this, everyone who ever met, allied with, or got destroyed by the Ethereals will know that we want peace, and we have the strength to keep it.”

Morrigan thought for a moment. “Tell me, Emily… speaking of those who allied with the Ethereals, what do you suppose will happen to them? What… what if we call for peace with the Ethereals, but the other aliens want more? I… I’m afraid they might call for blood.”

“Well, the Mutons will likely follow whoever is the strongest, the Floaters whoever program them, and the Chryssalids whoever holds their leash...the Sectoids may be the problem, but its not like they’ll be in a position to argue,” Emily replied.

“True. But then there are any other aliens they’ve crossed over the centuries.” Morrigan thought in silence for a few moments, then finally shook her head. “I guess, in the end, it’ll be their problem to deal with. The best we can do, assuming they’ll even listen, is suggest they start making penance. It’s not like they can’t do some good with those powers and technology of theirs for a change.”

“If they conquered anyone else, they likely took their resources and anything else of value for their work. Paying it back would likely be the solution,” Emily explained. “I’m sure Luxuria would be open to something like that.”

“Would she?” Morrigan rubbed her chin. “That raises an interesting point. If we are to end this without too much bloodshed, we’ll need a go between. A diplomat of sorts. I… I am not too keen on letting Luxuria go free, considering her crimes, but you said she’s changed for the better, right? Honestly and truly, not some act?”

“She’s always seemed genuinely remorseful when I’ve talked to her recently, and the more remorseful she gets, the more she wants to change things,” Emily explained. “Although I’m not sure Luxuria would make a good diplomat, when she talks about changing things, it’s usually about taking over whatever government they have and forcing them to change, not so much a lot of talking.”

“Indeed.” Morrigan steepled her fingers together. “The Ethereal Atka brought in is cooperative, but not quite trustworthy yet. And Acedia might be the friendliest Ethereal we’ve encountered aside from Jan’tiala, her apathy leaves much to be desired as far as trusting this to her. Luxuria would be our best bet. And the Ethereal in a human body would make her easier to talk to by humans. Do you think she’d be up for it?”

“I think she’d be up for anything that changes the normal Ethereals’ minds about us,” she nodded.

“Excellent. I would like you to ask her on my behalf. Tell her that… that if she does this… if she is willing to extend a line of peace between our people, I’ll… she can consider herself free. After the war ends, of course.”

“I think she’d be up for it, especially with the freedom part. Although she acts pretty free as it is,” Emily chuckled. “I think her rooming with me is going to her head.”

Morrigan let out a chuckle of her own. “I’m sure she enjoys it. As long as you don’t spoil her. I’ll leave you to your task.” She smiled gently. “I… I mean it when I thank you, you know. You, Atka, Desmond. And others like Sunny, Ammelia, Albert. Even Eva. I… we couldn’t have done this without you.”

“We haven’t done it all yet,” Emily said, standing up, “we still have to kick that bastard in the teeth first.”

“And that we will.” Morrigan bowed her head. “You're dismissed.”

Emily nodded. “We’re thankful for you too, you know. You’ve carried us this far.”

Morrigan smiled. “Thank you, Ms. Fischer. That… means a lot to me.”


Well-Known Member
“Safe Return”
XCOM Headquarters, Battleship ‘Arkbird’
Primary Medical Bay
December 23, 1431 Hours

Gentle beeping echoed through the room, the machines indicating that yes, the man occupying the hastily converted surgery table in the center of the room was indeed still alive. Albert Foulke gently turned the page of the book he held in front of his eyes, a worn and dusty copy of Starship Troopers.

Our behavior is different,’ the book read. ‘How often have you seen a headline like this?--TWO DIE ATTEMPTING RESCUE OF DROWNING CHILD. If a man gets lost in the mountains, hundreds will search and often two or three searchers are killed. But the next time somebody gets lost just as many volunteers turn out. Poor arithmetic, but very human. It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature--a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price.’

With a hiss, the door leading into the improvised outpatient ward phased open, letting in Holly Summers. Albert glanced up, noted the page in his book, and set it to the side, adjusting himself with his good arm to prop himself up slightly more.

“Didn’t expect you to visit,” Albert said as he finished his adjustment. “What’s the occasion?”

“Came here to apologize,” the engineer replied. “Here I’ve been, giving you the cold shoulder for the past few months, and then you go and risk getting your life force sucked away to save me. You really know how to make a girl feel guilty, y’know?”

“Aye, that’s why I’m able to get away with so much stuff regarding my wife,” he joked. “Besides, no need to apologize. I’d have done the same to anyone else if I had the chance.”

Holly shook her head. “No, I do need to apologize. One thing my mother always taught me is that whenever you wrong somebody that you didn’t mean to wrong, you apologize. Simple fact.”

“Then consider your apology accepted,” the Amero-Anglican replied with a half-hearted shrug. “And I forgive you, of course. I feel where you came from. You needed somebody to blame, and I was a nice and easy scapegoat.”

Holly raised an eyebrow. “You seemed to have figured out my motives quite quickly,” she responded questioningly.

“I’ve been around the block a few times about this matter. Soldier dies under my orders, I send the letter, next time I take shore leave I have to dodge certain areas of Britain to avoid the wrath of their families,” Albert replied, his tone indicating that he’d accepted this fact quite a while ago. “Simple fact of being a CO. You get high up in the chain of command, you start having to carry those chains.”

Summers was silent for a moment, thinking. Finally, she shook her head and said, “Regardless, thanks for what you did. I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to shoot my own arm off. How’s the prosthetic coming?”

“I talked to Sunny about it recently,” Foulke answered. “Jokingly asked for a pulse cannon in my new limb, but I think she might have taken the request seriously given how she started muttering about ‘power supplies’ and ‘activation commands’.”

“Hey, you might be the next Bartlett if you get that approved,” Holly joked, though Albert merely raised an eyebrow in response.


“Character from a video game, Final Fantasy... Fourteen I believe,” the engineer explained.

“Ah, I see,” Albert replied. “Never played that many video games past the SNES generation, so I wouldn’t know. That was always more of Richie’s thing.”

“Shame, they’re good games. Maybe pick them up after the war?” Summers asked.

“Nah, I’ll probably be very much on the busy side post-war,” he replied. “Gonna be helping my wife get into the political scene, as well as try to start a family. Might even go to college.”

“You haven’t gone to college?” she asked incredulously.

“Nah, life stuff was going on that led me to go straight into the military rather than go for higher education,” Albert said, shrugging slightly. “Only had enough post-secondary education to get me into the officer corps back when I was with the Army.”

“Anyways,” Holly replied, glancing at her watch. “I’ve gotta get going. One of the firestorm pilots is gonna start a small poker game in a few minutes, want to get in early.”

“Right, I’ll let you go,” Albert said, waving Holly off with his stump arm. “Just leave the disabled veteran to rot.”

Summers chuckled slightly and gave a slight wave, before exiting the room. Albert gave a slight sigh, and reached over to pick up his book once more, flipping open to the correct page. Can’t believe I remembered to grab this and not my damn wallet, he thought annoyedly, before letting himself get engrossed in the book once more.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601 and ZombieSplitter53: "Hijacked Nova, Part 1"

Sol System (Native Sentient Time)
1700 Hours, December 24th, 2018
High Orbit around Mars

You ought to be enjoying yourself, Carthigi… this is sort of… I don’t know, relaxing, Upyllus mused as he reclined in a chair, staring out at the red rock surface of the planet beneath the Supra Battleship.

After what happened to Sapentia? Are you out of your mind?!

The Watcher of Asia tensed, holding up his hands pleadingly. I-I just meant relax… worrying about him won’t do him any good… the intelligence report suggested they didn’t kill him…

If they don’t then command certainly will. Carthigi shook her head, turning to look back at the Sectoid Commander before her. N-422, how is production going?

Not at all badly, master. The First One forces are being expanded, we have plenty of Balmadaar anyway… b-but…

What this bumbling idiot is trying to say is it will be awhile before we have enough Reptilians to do anything with. Most of them are either dead or useless to us now, S-051 finished for his counterpart.

Carthigi sighed. Very well. You may return to your posts. The Ethereal floated over to the front of the bridge, gazing down at Mars, then to the stars. So few of us left now… and you’re bringing civilians here. Why, Exalted One? Is there some plan you will not share with us? Some clever reason? she wondered to herself.

Um… Carthigi, are you quite alri-

Leave me, Upyllus.

I was only-

Now! The other Ethereal didn’t question a second time, getting up with a mixture of fear and masked irritation, and floated out of the room, leaving Carthigi to her thoughts. The respite did not last long, though.

A distress beacon sounded out, and a young Ethereal glanced up from her station. We… we are picking up a distress call from a fast approaching ship. Initial scans indicate heavy hull damage, and fluctuating life support on board. What… should I do?

From the homeworld? I thought the Temple Ship picked up any stray vessels… perhaps it came from the Jewel of the Fleet. Are you getting any response beyond the initial signal?

N… no. I’ve tried hailing them on all channels, but their communication equipment doesn’t seem to be functioning. They… they are using an old signal. Though it might be all they can manage to broadcast with their equipment damaged.

Carthigi crossed her arms. Have AF-325 take a supply ship out to meet them. I want to confirm the crew is alive and uncontaminated before I let them onboard the Novum.

Wise idea. Supply shuttle A-7 is preparing now. They will be ready to leave as soon as the damaged ship arrives. Shall we… send a unit of Balmadaar with them, just in case they try to enter by force? E… e-even our kind tend to act foolish in the face of that world destroying weapon.

Do so. In times like this caution is essential, Votuma, the older Ethereal affirmed.


As the battered and beaten craft floated outside of the Novum, AF-325 reported back to his Commander. The ship is occupied by a single Balmadaar, a trio of Reptilians, and a… um… a prisoner.

Specify, 325. What is the prisoner like… Aside, Carthigi wondered to herself, Why do they not have an Outsider, Sectoid Commander, or Ethereal in their presence… unless the plague got to them.

It… it appears to be a Dagon. I thought they were all… th-the Balmadaar claims they captured him from the resistance. It took all they had to beat them, it would seem. Hence the… condition of the ship. However, they seem to be free of the plague. Orders?

Disable the ship itself and take our forces onto the supply ship… we’ll turn theirs into a prison for that… creature. I am NOT bringing a Dagon onto my ship, Carthigi responded.

As you command. We shall… There was a moment of silence. The… the Balmadaar is requesting an audience with you. What shall I tell him?

Escort him in here. I want a full report, and I don’t care how inarticulate they are, I ought to get it.

Yes, Honored one.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601 and ZombieSplitter53: "Hijacked Nova, Part 2"

The small group left behind to guard the shackled captive, the Balmadaar and his three companions were escorted to the bridge. In Carthigi’s presence, they dropped to a knee and bowed their heads. “We thank you for your assistance. We fear our vessel would not have lasted much longer.”

Carthigi merely inclined her head in acknowledgement. You encountered the one they call War, then… but what of Conquest? Did you terminate that murderous scum, or did he elude you?

“Worry not, honored one. He put up a brave fight, but he died all the same. We were forced to board his ship after he disabled ours. Unfortunately, we did not anticipate the need, and damaged his ship quite extensively at first. I executed him myself.”

The Ethereal frowned beneath her mask. Do you have the body with you? I feel that parading it in front of the Balmadaar here would do much to show them that such actions will not be tolerated… and more importantly, to assure the Exalted One that he will threaten our people no more.

“I anticipated that this would be desired. You will find him in our cargo hold, or what is left of him. And we took the Dagon alive so our rescuer might have the honor of finishing the last of his accursed kind off. He did not put up much of a fight in the end. He likely believes he can escape us. But that won’t happen unless one of us were to release his restraints, and who would do that?”

None would. Carthigi glanced at the Ethereal at the helm. Turn the ship around… I believe a fusion cannon would be a fitting way to terminate that Dagon. And… the safest one.

Taking aim. I will contact AF-325 and make sure everyone leaves the ship. After a few moments, the young Ethereal tilted her head slightly. I can not… get into contact. I’m… not even reading his psionic signature. P… perhaps the instruments are malfunctioning.

Leaving that creature alive even for a few minutes unrestrained puts us all in grave danger! If AF-325 is still alive he would know better than to cut contact. Destroy that ship immediately! Carthigi demanded fearfully.

The young Ethereal hit the keys rapidly to type in the appropriate commands. Before she could enter the last, one of the Thin Men suddenly jumped forward, and jabbed a needle into his own chest. A few moments later, it spat a cloud of poison at the Ethereal, and she writhed and moaned in her seat for a few moments before slumping to the ground.

“Thought I’d have more time before that,” the Balmadaar said calmly. “You sure are trigger happy, as the humans would say.”

V-Votuma… Carthigi clenched a fist, turning quickly to face the Muton Elite. I was a fool… I should have realized my mistake sooner. You will not leave this ship alive! Lifting all four of her hands at once, the Ethereal sent three mindfrays forward at each of the revealed foes, and a psi lance at the Balmadaar for good measure. The guards on the deck were momentarily shocked, some of the Mutons hesitating while others moved to follow the Ethereal’s lead.

Two of the Reptilians dropped to their knees, but the third shrugged of the attack, having taken a note from the humans with a mind shield. He rushed towards Conquest, and willingly took the psi lance in the Balmadaars stead. A burst of poison erupted from his body, the noxious fumes seeming darker than usual, and quickly spread ahead of it. Using the sacrifice to his advantage, Conquest pulled his personal oversized plasma pistols, and put two shots in the heads of a pair of his fellow kin.

He does not care about you! Carthigi practically screamed to the other Balmadaar. Kill him! Placing her hands together in two sets, the Ethereal produced another psi lance, and imbued it with energy, before launching it in a fit of rage at the genocidal Muton. Two of the Balmadaar under her command put down the mindfrayed Thin Men, but they did not yet attack Conquest, hesitant to do so.

“That is right. Continue to attack me until I kill you or you kill me. Fight for this creature that would enslave our kind when we have a weapon to destroy them once and for all.” Conquest hit a switch on his belt, a miniature energy shield forming around him and stopping enough in the psi lance’s power so it didn’t breach his armor. “It is as simple as this to defeat them! Watch!” Conquest took a few steps back, passing through the cloud of poison spewed from the downed Thin Men. He stepped behind cover, protected from Carthigi’s lances. She could easily flank him, though, as long as she was willing to step into the poison.

Carthigi grimaced as the Balmadaar watched her falter, and executed those of their kin that still served her. You… you will pay for what you have done… to our world… to Votuma… you call that honor?! Floating backwards, Carthigi lifted two of her hands, and telekinetic force pressed down on a few buttons. Five Outsiders materialized from the consoles, charging forward at Conquest. Three of them went down quickly to plasma fire from his new comrades, the other two managing to make it to his flanks, damaged by still functioning. The Balmadaar sealed the doors to prevent reinforcements from aiding Carthigi.

“Enough of this, Ethereal. My comrade is already likely made his way on to the ship and is making his way here.” Conquest rapidly fired at the Outsiders, forcing them to take cover each time they tried to shoot back. “Why not accept your death with dignity? Not like the sniveling fool we killed to take that ship.”

Rather than respond verbally, Carthigi lifted her hands, straining herself as she tore two of the consoles from their bindings, and hurled them at Conquest. The metal chunks slammed into his cover, knocking him back a few paces, and threw up a cloud of dust and debris. Nearly collapsing from the drain upon her energies, the Ethereal weakly reached for a button on the wall, opening the way into an escape pod. Falling to her knees, and pressing a hand against the Outsider shard within as the Balmadaar, she quietly commanded, Get me out of here.

“Damn it.” Conquest rushed forward, snatching up a fallen Plasma Dragon and lifting it towards the escape pod. Before he could fire, it was launched, and he angrily thrust the weapon to the side, leaving a large dent in the wall. “Off with you then. We have your ship. We’ll take care of you later.”

Carthigi propped herself up against the wall, watching the receding red rock landscape from the small viewport. I’ve… failed then… just as Sapentia did. The Ethereal shakily clenched a fist. I will… enact my vengeance… though… even if I have to commit blasphemy and betray my people to do it. With the last of her energy, she commanded the Outsider to send out a distress signal to the other Supra Battleship in the sector. If you, by some miracle, win this war… humans… make him pay for me… not as my puppets, but as the inheritors of my vengeance, the Ethereal mused, before blacking out.


Well-Known Member
Emily Fischer
XCOM X.W.S. Arkbird
Sol, Milky Way
December 23th, 2018 - 5:00 PM

Emily walked into the room designated for her squad, including Luxuria. The former Ethereal was the only one there, and she realized this was a perfect opportunity to bring up what she had talked to Morrigan about.

“Hello, Emily,” she said. “You know, a visit from you just doesn’t feel the same now…”

“I’m sure we could build you a cell if you’re missing it,” Emily smirked.

“I am, actually. I believe you humans have a word for it.”

“Stockholm syndrome.”

“Right…if only Avy was alive. He could explain to me what Sweden has to do with happy prisoners.”

“I wouldn’t get too excited about getting back into a cell though. The Commander’s considering letting you go free.”

“Really?” Luxuria sat up. “Even after all that’s happened?”

“She wants a diplomat who can run communications between the Ethereals and us, and she wants you to do it,” Emily explained.

“Diplomat?” Luxuria’s nose wrinkled. “Not sure about that…”

“You had something else in mind?”

“Once Phobos is dead, our people need someone powerful, and someone wise enough to apply the power,” Luxuria noted. “An infrastructure needs to be built, a new code, a new government. If they can’t, I will.”

“And you’ll be friendly with us, and stop the experimenting?”

“Of course. You think I’d just take off and forget you?”

“No, of course not. Just…I don’t know if Morrigan would be alright with giving away that much power.”

“They wouldn’t change much under a provisionary government, if you humans were even capable of administering one. If anything, they would get more violent. You only need to look to your colonial era for that.”

“I guess it’ll get sorted out when the time comes,” Emily sighed.

“If you say so, but I do not see another logical conclusion. Your ‘Jan’tiala’ is too impulsive, as I’ve learned, and Acedia has no love for any work.”

Emily shrugged, turning towards her bed. Luxuria raised her hand to stop her.

“By the way, I’ve been thinking. If it’s alright, I’d like to try something,” Luxuria said.


“I want to join with you again. Symbiotically now, rather than maliciously.”

“You just want to see my dreamscape or something?”

“No, I want to be one with your mind again, like we did at my old base. Temporarily, of course, and without those inhibitors.”

“How do I know you won’t try to take me over again?”

Luxuria shrugged. “Do you trust me?”

Emily thought for a minute, and then nodded silently. Luxuria smiled warmly and held her wrist forward, and Emily stepped up to her. As Emily removed the inhibitor on Luxuria’s wrist, a strong and visible connection went between their brains, and Emily closed her eyes. Luxuria’s mindset rushed in as it had once before, but instead of excitement and aggression, she felt joy and friendliness. As information continued to flow, Emily sorted the two apart, building up her dreamscape and putting them both within, so that their personalities could manifest properly apart instead of mixing into one.

You have kept your dreamscape my home. Luxuria noted.

Yeah, Desmond eventually figured out how he could change it for me, but I declined…it had kind of grown on me since then.

It was nice. Once, anyway…

Ethereal emotions drilled into Emily’s mind, unspeakable mixes that had no word in human terms. Trauma and relief washed over her as the image of Luxuria’s body – her own body – shriveled and died before her eyes. The panic and the despair of knowing mixing together as Avaritia spoke his last words into her ears. The obedient sadness but the rebellious happiness of learning about her father being shot into nothing. Insecurity and confidence about her body, enjoying the intricacies of her systems while despising its appearance, wanting to cover herself in a new skin, any skin, to be free from it. Horror and guilt at what she had done, who she had hurt, what she had written.

Then came the memories, all deciphered and catalogued as if she had lived, forgotten, and remembered them all herself. Feeling her father’s psionic fist drill into her forehead, splitting her mask, the only thing that protected her visage from the public eye. Being rejected by mate after mate for her frail form, odd psionics, and infertility. Feeling her animus wake inside her, the personality being lashed and brought to her heel, birthing a new confidence and forcefulness. Writing, experimenting, learning, demanding. Spending twilight to twilight in green-lit grease-smelling laboratories with her only friend Avaritia, experimenting on drones, Jie’lios, and discs. Arguing with him passionately about this semiconductor and that psionic charge, and then smiling when it was all done.

The dreamscape shifted as recent memory treaded in, clouds as black as pitch snuffing out the hues from the red sun in the distance, a blood-red liquid bursting from the ground and flooding the streets and buildings. The lights of the city below froze in place, the purple foliage stopped being tended and began to overgrow, and not a sign of an Ethereal mask or vehicle could be seen from her observatory. A feeling of panic hit her like a truck, and she felt the need to cry, or scream, or give up everything. Just then the realization hit her, this was a chemical attack on the Ethereal homeworld, one she was told was true by Sapentia. She knew the event and the perpetrator as if she was being told first-hand.

He…he did this?

Yes…”Conquest.” I don’t know if it happened like this, or if it could even be seen. But nearly half of my people are apparently dead…the rest corralled in a ship and homeless.

It’s like a ghost town…like Chernobyl…

Luxuria raised her arm. I’ll change it back…

No. Not until this is done. Not until he pays.


Well-Known Member
The slightly acrid smell of the Ethereal atmosphere had given way to a new pungent aroma, like a sweetness-tinged chlorine; the red chemical continuing to flow across the ground. Emily walked away from the edges of the observatory and walked to the center, slumping into one of her chairs, trying to recover from the influx of information and separate herself from Luxuria. The former Ethereal lifted her mask off Emily’s table of cherished people, bringing it over to her and holding it in front of her.

Now to test that you can understand me as I understand you. Can you read this?

Emily nodded, reading the runes along its curves as if it were English or German. “Acra’siathi, daughter of Tien'lyssigan – Overseer of Asiatic Earth – Scholar of Alien and Domestic Biology – Master of the Application of Wisdom.”

You should have no trouble reading our language now that we have merged again. This was my purpose, as I thought it may prove useful when we engage Phobos.

What happens if I see a word you don’t know?

Unlikely. Although I suppose you won’t be practicing cryptology any time soon. Luxuria chuckled and set her mask down where Emily had last left it. There is one more thing you should have access to. You know that your rift is a special ability, born by the momentary merge we shared. For all intents and purposes, it is special to you.

Yeah, I’ve figured that out. The other orange psions use it differently…some kind of dark field of doom.

Yes, it is different in application and force, but still useful. Now I believe you can use what is special to me.

Luxuria walked away and held a fist up, glowing her home color of yellow. An illusion strode out from her, walking a straight line away from her.

I don’t want to insult you…but a lot of people can do that lately.

It’s not the same. I detect only one of your psions can use these like me. Luxuria created another illusion, this time of the Brazilian boy she met so long ago, Gabriel. These illusions can be taken and implanted in someone’s mind, only visible to them. For example, when you attacked my base, the woman I lured you with was your medic’s wife. And the Chryssalids that burst out was your engineer’s worst fear. I stole them from their minds, and imposed them back into yours.

Emily focused, replicating Luxuria’s thoughts and motions. An illusion of Acedia emerged from Luxuria, walking away and turning towards her.

Easy application, hard to hone. Even using my knowledge, you will likely need to practice to use it better. There is also…another use.

What’s that?

We should do it in the real world. It is difficult to manipulate mindsets and still remain separate entities when we are together like this.

Yeah, this is giving me a massive headache…

The connection retreated back into Luxuria’s mind and Emily’s consciousness re-emerged into the real world, noticing that for everything she felt, thought, and learned, she was merely standing in place the whole time. She collapsed into a chair and sighed with exhaustion, rubbing her forehead hard as her brain tried to catch up with everything. Luxuria on the other hand was mostly unaffected, already well-studied and exposed to the human brain.

“You okay?” Luxuria asked.

“Fine…just a lot to process at once. I can’t believe that happened to your home…”

“I don’t even know for sure, although people have given me little reason to doubt. But I don’t know if Conquest truly did it, or if he even survived the attempt. It seems unlikely.”

“Don’t underestimate them…they shot our Commander to escape. We’re going to find him, whether he’s a corpse or not.”

“I am in agreement. He must pay for Avaritia,” Luxuria nodded, looking at the recovering human. “Now, for my combination…it may help with the stress you are going through.”

“It’s perverted, isn’t it?” Emily sighed.

“No…it just benefits from perversion.”

“Go ahead…”

Luxuria held her hand out in a lemon-lime color, pointing it towards Emily. The muscles in her body untangled and relaxed, her sense of color swelled and became saturated, and her vision blurred away the picture of Luxuria as if she was near-sighted. Suddenly, two hands touched her from behind, one from Dallas and one from Kieran, their touch connecting with her realistically, if not even better than realism. They tugged her playfully and possessively, causing her to grin dopily at the idea. As their hands dived into her clothing, the voice of Luxuria returned through the haze.

You can disable a target like this...granting their fantasies and animal desires. It relaxes and disables their adrenaline, making the weak-willed completely forget about their woes and indulge.

The effect was profoundly strong on Emily, who was well-attuned to Luxuria. She found herself mired with strong and generous men, kissing and touching all of her body. Although such fantasies never enticed her consciously, the way their touch lit up her skin and their scent filled up her nose, Dallas’ smiling face filling her range of vision as his hands sunk below her waist, she could barely sense that this was still an illusion. She groaned a bit as the scene faded away, her senses and logic returning to her as the power subsided.

“The only downside is that you could only practically engage one person with this. It would be very taxing to use this on two people, and probably impossible for more. You’re doing a lot at once.”

“Sounds…interesting,” she sighed irritably, obviously needing intimate contact after such an abrupt ending. “Although the squads you use wouldn’t make it very effective to have a single-target attack, and I don’t really want to think about what the Floaters or Chryssalids fantasize about.”

“It’s all just sex,” Luxuria shrugged. “Even with human thoughts in my mind, I still don’t understand why you humans deny it so much. You can breed without syringes and test tubes and you hide it like its wrong.”

“That’s a debate for another time, when I’m more awake…”

“Very well. I believe we’ve achieved a lot,” Luxuria smiled. “Now we can apply it in practice. You should get some rest as well, since hosting me appears to have still worn you out.”

“Yeah…I just have to have a talk with Jack…”

Luxuria tilted her head curiously as she left, the human watching the walls, looking for signs of a closet somewhere. She smiled and relaxed into a chair, musing on how she would introduce the concepts of Ethereal democracy and individualism. She leaped up and rushed to a computer, quickly writing down a thesis that had popped into her mind, and beginning to build a paper around it.


Game Master
Staff member

X-COM Headquarters, Warship “Arkbird”
Central Meeting Center/ Cafeteria
December 25th, 1800 Hours

The room bustled with the sound of chatter and gossip, of laughter and cheering, of loud grunts and soft whispers. Aside from the occasional sneaky grab and mouth pop, everyone waited patiently for the rest of the staff to arrive before they ate. Morrigan looked down at the computer pad below her, the sarcastic A.I. informing her that everyone was accounted for, aside from the skeleton crew that hand volunteered to stay out for the others. Stepping up to an improvised podium at the head of the room, she waited in silence for the room to quiet down before speaking up.

“We are… gathered here tonight to put the war aside for at least a few hours. We deserve a break, and with the looming battle ahead, now is the time. As many of you know, today is Christmas, a day of gathering, of celebrating with loved ones, of giving and receiving from those you care the most for. Many of us… most of us… can not be with our loved ones today. But we can be content in the knowledge that being away from them means protecting them. You have all given so much, and I truly wish there was more I could give you back. But I’m afraid this… impressive spread of delicacies from across the world, made possible but the donations of our supporters, will have to do… for now. This is almost over, people. The alien leader is on his way, and instead of worrying, I am relieved. It means we don’t have to go through the trouble of hunting him down. So, content in the knowledge that it will be over soon, I want you to celebrate. Eat, talk, be merry, and enjoy. Tonight, we are not soldiers, crewman, or staff. Tonight, I’m not your Commander. Tonight, we are all just close friends, family even, enjoying a pleasant meal together.”

A smattering of applause rang out here and there, and the party goers thankfully dug into their meals. Sunny tried her hand at a christmas goose, and was pleasantly surprised. Sitting next to Modya, Jessica tried her hand at a few Russian dishes. Ayame dug into a healthy plate of ribs, not something she was going to pass up, while Aya and Eve, seated next to the Elites, nibbled on pieces from a honey ham.

Emily claimed an eight-seater table with the rest of her squad, Dallas sitting next to her and Nika, Sven, and Kieran taking whatever seats they fancied. The soldiers hungrily chowed down on anything in their vicinity, as human food was usually more carefully doled out due to being on a ship. Emily and Dallas had come full circle since their sneaking days, wearing their rings and holding hands openly. The others smiled, told jokes, and exchanged rumors, treating the Christmas feast like an ordinary day in the cafeteria, the way they liked it. Luxuria carefully joined them, followed along by an even more out of place Acedia, who tried to integrate with the group’s carousing.

Mary smiled, looking over the plethora of foods she’d never seen before, grabbing whatever looked interesting and making sure not to forget the turkey. After she was done, she sat down next to Ayame gave her a kiss. Ammelia, however, was a lot more picky with her choices, grabbing mostly classic American foods with a large amount of vegetables. She looked over the large room, quickly spying Jessica, her sister, and Buniq, all seated apart. She stood there a second trying to figure out which group to eat with first before seeing Aergian at a table with Luxuria and the new ethereal. As much as she didn’t like the idea of sitting with Luxuria, she wanted to keep her new friend company, at least for a few minutes anyway. Her roommates waved to her enthusiastically as she approached.

Albert munched away at whatever finger foods he could find within arm’s reach, putting off gathering a plate as he told a small handful of non-combat personnel the story of his battle with the Honored Overseer, adding small embellishments here and there for dramatic effect. Meanwhile, Chopper and his wingmen celebrated their recent aerial victories over a short round of drinks, a friendly pat on the back going to Grimm for making five kills in one dogfight. Fay watched her friends with amusement, keeping close to Minato as the sniper gathered food onto her plate.

Jeanne stuck to some French cuisines, and her brother rolled her eyes. “You should try something different.” He cut into a steak, and smiled at Eva. “So, dear, did your family celebrate Christmas when you were a kid?”

Eva was devouring an array of food in front of her Eat a mix of Swiss American and Chinese food. She finally swallowed her food and answered Jean. “Yeah, my family loved Christmas. We’d make gingerbread men, made candy and ornaments. We got presents from time to time but my present was seeing my dad on christmas day.”

Jean nodded. “Did you… ever think of letting them know you are still alive? Maybe after the war?”

Eva stopped eating and sighed. “Jean, there’s a reason I never contacted them when I was revived. Let me remind you I was clinically dead for a month, and in that they gave me a funeral, closed casket of course, and they moved with their lives.”

Jean nodded again. “Something to keep in mind, I guess.” He took a large bite of turkey, hoping he hadn’t soured the mood, but Eva seemed to be enjoying herself all the same.

Acedia watched over the crowd, fascinated by all the happy faces and everyone’s ability to put the war aside for the moment. She glanced at Luxuria, more interested in Emily, and was surprised to see Ammelia wondering over. Ammy, what… brings you over here? Would you not rather be with your sister?

Ammelia smiled at her, “I’m going to be wandering around a little, but I thought I’d sit with you first. You seemed a little lonely with just Luxuria and the other guy keeping you company.”

Acedia rubbed her arm. I am… not one for crowds. This food does seem enticing, though. I envy Luxuria’s capacity to eat much more than I, though I am trying a little. She carefully bit into a piece of ham, smiling lightly. Not bad…

Ammelia sat down next to her, “Don’t Ethereals usually eat nutrient paste? Must be weird chewing.”

That it is. It is a sign that our people are a bit… spoiled by our powers. Not needing to eat like others, not needing to walk, not needing to speak. Though it seems Luxuria has embraced the need to do those things. I am not going to change to a human body any time soon, but perhaps I should stop being so… lazy.

The sniper forked some of her salad up towards her mouth, making sure to swallow before speaking, “Well, people aren’t exactly going to bend over backwards for you anymore, but I could feed you some grapes again if you want.” She replied, smiling.

Acedia chuckled. “I… that will not be necessary,” she said in a raspy voice.

“I imagine that the Ethereals don’t really have a holiday like Christmas, do they?” Ammy asked.

“No… we have a few celebrations, but nothing nearly to this level. Not that they would celebrate much if we did. Too much devotion to the path.” Acedia turned her fellow Ethereal and smiled. But I do find this to be… pleasant? What about you, Sapentia?

I would be in agreement. The Watcher of Europe rotated his mask between his two upper hands with telekinesis, adding, Human culture certainly is interesting. It makes me wonder if we’ve come to lack much of what we once had in pursuit of that particular ambition… I speak blasphemy, but I doubt it matters anymore. Either way I wouldn’t be able to return to my former position.

Acedia shook her head. You should not concern yourself with ideas of blasphemy. What matters is your devotion to the Path. It is my belief that the Path is pure, but the Ethereals have lost their way. Ammelia here, as well as her sister, have helped me see this, and Luxuria’s resolve has motivated me to reform our people. There is always room for you to join us, my friend. You need but to cast aside these feelings that you are… you are always doing something wrong, so to speak.

“Per…” Sapentia coughed for a moment. “Perhaps… I am just used… ahem… to following my laʒier’s lead in matters of the Path…”

“And she may join us too, if she wishes.” Acedia placed a hand on Ammelia’s shoulder. “What is it you humans say? The more, the… happier?”

“Merrier” Ammy corrected, “By the way, I got you a present!”

Acedia tilted her head. “Oh? What is that?”

“It’s in the hall… Was a little too big to wrap…” Ammelia said, smiling.

Acedia nodded, and stood up. Cover for me, Sapentia. I will return.

Ammelia led her towards the door and out into the hall wear a long, intricately decorated couch sat, a small red bow wrapped around. It had a white cushions and a few pillows covering the corners, the legs were made of a gleaming gold substitute that still wasn’t exactly cheap, but mimicked the look of real gold perfectly. “I originally wanted to get this for your cell, but since… you know. I thought it’d look nice in your new room.”

"Th… thank you, Ammelia. I’ve never been given a gift before. I… I will cherish it forever." She smiled. "I will be sure to get a gift for you as well, when I… have the ability."

“Thanks.” Ammelia said happily, “Now, go in there and try to talk to some people. I’m sure Emily wouldn’t mind.”

Acedia nodded, and headed back inside. Returning to her seat, she hesitantly looked at Emily, smiling as she spoke with her comrades. Unsure what to say, she started with, Um… h-happy… Christmas, Ms. Fischer.


Game Master
Staff member
“Merry Christmas,” Emily smiled. “How are you enjoying it?”

Very much, actually. It… it is nice to see humans and Ethereals… enjoying something together. In a way, we owe it to you and Luxuria.

“I just talked now and then, really. Although things could’ve been a lot different. Really, we owe Luxuria for letting herself get captured,” she smirked.

Very funny.
Luxuria scowled towards her.

Acedia chuckled. “At least your capture was a bit more dignified than mine. Even if you were being a bit… more aggressive. It is at least better than being under the thumb of one of your supposed allies.”

“At least she’s gone,” Emily smiled, taking a large bite out of a biscuit. “You made it in the end and she didn’t.”

“This is true.” Acedia smiled at Luxuria. “Remember to eat in moderation. You have a body to maintain now, and I doubt the Exalts wants you trashing that one.”

“Don’t worry, I still have a fairly small appetite. So long ‘eating’ our way doesn’t give me much of a drive to eat with my mouth, even if it tastes good,” Luxuria explained.

“I see.” Acedia took another small bite. “I wonder if Gula was in your situation, would he have agreed. He always was one for self-indulgence. Can… can you imagine him in a human body?”

“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, he could get eaten by his beastie thing,” Emily said.

Nika put down a dinner roll and scowled. “Can we not talk about eating people…?”

“Sorry,” Emily smirked.

Morrigan smiled at the exchange between human and Ethereal as she wandered over to to Ashley, sitting next to her. “I bet, with how large your family is, this kind of big meal thing is right up your alley.”

Ashley smiled. “You have no idea, though there’s not as much food as this. But yeah, my family Christmas is usually a lot more chaotic than this. Though, I wish Cassia and Catherine were here.”

Morrigan nodded slowly, placing her chin in her palm. “Yeah… feel the same way about Brigid. I’m enjoying myself, I really am. I just wish she was here to enjoy it with me.”

“Yeah.” Ashley looked at the X-COM forces and the Ethereals. “Heh heh, it’s funny, you have two old war dogs sitting over here looking at the future of the human race. Hell, you have an Irish veteran and an old Assassin just looking at these young people, wondering how many of them can we save.”

“It looks like that change you wanted is happening, at least.” Morrigan smiled softly. “And we’ll save as many as possible. If there is one thing I have, it is faith in my people to pull through just about anything.”

“Yeah, and I hope my people are beating the crap out of the alien back on earth. Oh yeah, Morrigan I got you something.”

The Commander laughed. “Really? What is it?”

“Well you definitely to love it, and it’s editable.” Ashley pulled out a cake case “It’s a chocolate whisky cake.”

Morrigan laughed again, looking the pastry over. “Wow, thanks Ash. This is really thoughtful, thanks. Wanna share it with me?”

“That was kind of the plan. Besides, it was hard trying to keep this thing, so I hope your ready for some Van Dam cooking.”

Morrigan chuckled as she took a bite. “You know what, Ashley. You’re alright.”

“What, after Scarlet, were you expecting another loose cannon, serial killer? Morrigan I’m their leader for a reason.”

Morrigan rolled her eyes and nudged Ashley. “Just take the compliment.”

“I know it was, but I like being here. It allows me to be a soldier again, and I do miss those days when I was an assassin. Those were fun days. But we all have to change eventually, right.” Ashley decided, sinking her teeth into the cake.

“Right,” Morrigan agreed, leaning back. “I’m gonna have to give motherhood a lot more work now, what with Brigid being all mine now. But I’m confident in myself, even if she has those powers.” She frowned. “Not looking forward to those angsty teen years, that’s for sure.”

Ashley gets a worried look “Oh, good lord, you're going to be in trouble when she hits puberty.” Ashley said with a laugh.


Minato scanned the room, looking at all the faces and the people and shuddering in his seat, looking down at the few scraps of food he had taken and not touched.

“Not accustomed to crowds?” Fay asked between bites of her meal, raising an eyebrow to accompany her question.

“Not accustomed to...just this in general.” He stated, waving his hands around. “We didn’t celebrate holidays in the mountains, there were no reasons. On occasion, some of the elders would take young ones down to the towns for the occasional festival but even then I never went to one. What was the point?”

“Build bonds of fraternity, learn of the outside world, relax for a short period of time?” Fay offered.

The shinobi shrugged, taking a sip of cider. “Had no interest in any of them, but...I am here. If I try and escape I have the feeling you have something hidden up your sleeve that will force me to stay.”

“Training round to leg,” Fay confirmed. “Nothing too harmful, merely enough velocity to keep you in place.” Letting out a small smile, she added, “Still, glad you are here, even if under duress.”

Rolling his eyes, he just put an arm around Fay. “I will try to at least some what enjoy myself.”

“Perhaps an introduction to your comrades, then?” Fay glanced up at the shinobi, tilting her head slightly as she asked the question. “Do not recall having met them.”

“And you most likely never will. They hate everybody here about just as much if not more than I do. They will just walk away if you approach them.” He said, poking a piece of ham and setting down his fork.

“Hmm, a shame.” Fay scooped a spoonful of mashed potatoes to her mouth, before stopping and continuing, “What of that Saka girl you mentioned back when we first met?”

“Oh…” Minato glanced over at the girl, bouncing around and annoying anyone she could get to look at her. “I think she has herself entertained. I just hope no one was stupid enough to give her alcohol...she is still only 17.”

“Afraid she might end up in our boat?” Fay jokingly asked.

“I’m more afraid she will jump off this boat.” He said, smirking to himself as he thought of finally being rid of the girl. “Besides, she is already flamboyant enough, no need to add something else on top of that.”

Fay gave a short chuckle. “If it is said so,” the sniper said. “Another note, recall that rain check from before the base was destroyed?”

“Yes, I remember.” He affirmed, looking at Fay with a raised eyebrow.

“Cashing it.” Fay paused for a moment, thinking, before finally asking, “Plans for after war?”

Minato stopped, his glass on his lips before he put it down, not taking a sip. “I...don’t know. I was planning on returning to my clan but…” He looked at Fay and sighed, “Not much of an option now.”

“Why not?” Fay responded. “Could follow you, not much to be left behind.”

“Because there is no life for you in the mountains. At least you could make something of yourself rather than waste away in the snow.”

Fay was silent for a long moment, subtly biting her lip as she thought. “Perhaps, but do not wish to draw you away from your clan,” she finally said. “At least, not just for my sake.”

Minato pulled Fay close to him and sighed. “We will see. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to leave. Not going to just abandon you now, especially after I gained your trust enough for a relationship.”

“True, though that leaves both of us without plans,” Fay analyzed, running a hand through her pockets. Slowly shaking her head, the sniper added, “Do not intend to return to America, at least that much is certain.”

“We will see what we have to work with when the battle is done.” He finally said.

“Then we shall make our own future from there,” Fay replied, finally finishing off the food on her plate.


Game Master
Staff member
Jessica seemed to casually shovel food into her mouth with little care. “This stuff is delicious, Modya. Can we eat this all the time in Russia?”

Modya chuckled. “We can attempt to eat to this level of quality, but I am not so sure about quantity.”

Jessica raised an eyebrow, then looked down at her belly. “Good point. Probably not good to continue eating like this when these two are out. Don’t wanna get fat.” She gave her messy hands a worried look.”I’m not fat now, am I?”

Modya held up his hands defensively. “Not what I meant! You’re not going to get fat from indulging yourself once…”

Jessica grinned and took another bite of chicken. “Thanks. You always know what to say.” She wiped her mouth. “You can get fat, if you want, though. I’d love you either way.”

Modya shook his head. “I think I’ll pass on that… don’t want Mikhail thinking he can get away with it.”

“So, um…” Jessica hesitated. “You parents are… cool with me coming with you, right? Even after you told them about our… arrangement?”

Modya nodded. “I talked to them about everything, including Alex and they were understanding, like I had hoped they would be.”

“Cool, cool.” Jessica scratched her chin nervously. “I… I bet they were really surprised, huh?”

“Surprised, but they don’t think badly of either of you,” Modya replied seriously. “Trust me, they’re not going to treat you differently because of it.”

Jessica’s smile widened, and she leaned her head against Modya’s shoulder. “We’re going to do alright together, aren’t we? And to think, it all started with me… getting drunk, and you being a gentleman about it.”

The Russian smiled. “And even then, I had no idea what I was getting in to…”

Jessica sighed. “Well, I… I have no regrets. You?”

“None,” Modya replied, giving her a gentle kiss. “I have no idea why I would.”


Ayame and Mary wandered over to the Exalts table, the latter having to help wash off the former’s barbecue covered face like she was a child. Taking a seat next to Vee, Ayame shrugged the destroyer, casually saying, “So, you and that suit seem to be getting along really well. You two a thing now or what?”

Vee tilted her head. “Where have you been? We’ve been a thing,” she said with a grin.

Mary smirked,“ He’s net’ ‘ad ‘ooking, ‘aybe eh’ ‘ittle te’ ‘business-y’ ‘or meh, beh’ eh’ ‘ouldn’t ‘ind spending th’ ‘ight wit’ ‘im.” (He’s not bad looking, maybe a little too ‘business-y’ for me, but I wouldn’t mind spending a night with him.)

Ayame laughed. “Well, I… wouldn’t make a fuss if you wanted to indulge a little, though I get the feeling that Vee wants him to herself.”

Vee tapped her finger on the table in thought. “Hm… I dunno… might be fun. I’m sure I could convince him of adding another girl to the mix for an interesting night…”

Mary chuckled, “ Are ye’ ‘oing te’ ‘ake ‘im use ‘tection? Cause ye’ two ‘ould al’ays je’ swallow.”(Are you going to make him use protection? Cause you two could always just swallow.)

“I think you’re forgetting who is male and female here,” the black-haired clone muttered.

Mary gave her a strange look, “‘At de’ ye’ ‘ean, eh’ ‘an’t ‘et ‘ocked up ‘member?(What do you mean, I can’t get knocked up remember?)

“You said swallow as if you had a… you know what, nevermind,” Vee concluded.

Ayame laughed loudly, rubbing some tears from her eyes. “You guys crack me up.” She smiled softly, a happy look in her eyes. “I… I am so glad I came here, you know. So many great people I would have missed out on meeting if not for that stupid mission in Chicago. And I met two gorgeous women.”

Vee grinned. “No point in mentioning the third, since I think even Mary has to acknowledge she’ll never get into the pants of a certain Colonel…”

“Or Comman’er” (Or Commander.) Mary added, looking over at Morrigan.

Ayame followed Mary’s eyes, and laughed. “No… you didn’t. Really? When?”

“‘Ack ‘en she ‘anted me te’ ‘eak te’ Rose, ‘aid she ‘in’nt ‘ing ‘at way. Bummer, ‘ed heads ‘re hot.” (Back when she wanted me to speak to Rose, said she didn’t swing that way. Bummer, red-heads are hot.) Mary giggled.

“Jesus…” Ayame rubbed the back of her neck. “And I thought Vee lived dangerously…”

“Yeah, you may be a little too crazy, Mary…” Vee mumbled.

“‘at? eh’ ‘fer te’ ‘ell ‘eople ‘at eh’ ‘eally ‘ink. Neh’ ‘oint hidin’ et’ ‘rom em’.” (What? I prefer to tell people what I really think. No point hiding it from them.) Mary said, finally trying some of her foreign food.

Ayame wrapped an arm around Mary. “And I love that honesty about you. Really.” She leaned in close, and whispered, “Amongst other things…”


Jake gave Atka a quick kiss, and slowly walked over to Albert. He frowned at the sight of the soldier’s still healing arm, and sat across from him. “So, uh… if I can ask a stupid question… how are you feeling?”

Albert glanced up from his plate, slowly working away at cutting his ham into manageable pieces. Taking a moment to process the question, Albert replied, “Well, there’s the obvious thing that’s working away at my mood. Thought having my right arm in a sling was bad enough, but at least with that I didn’t get the urge to try and pick something up with it. How ‘bout you?”

Jake shrugged. “Well, to be honest, I’m… happy. Things are looking up, Atka loves me, and we might actually win this thing.” He frowned. “Still, sorry to see a friend suffer. We can make you a prosthetic, though. They’re pretty advanced.”

“Yeah, from what I’ve heard mine’s already in the works,” Albert said. “Regardless, be sure to send me an invitation to the wedding, whenever you have it. It’ll be good to have a big reunion after all this is over.”

Jake scratched his chin nervously. “Heh… not sure if we are at that level yet. Though… I’ve already met her parents, we’ll be living with each other, and we already have kids to raise, so…”

“Might as well go ahead and tie the knot, eh?” Albert replied, letting a slight smirk splay across his face. “Trust your ol’ uncle Al, it’ll be the second decision you won’t regret.”

“Alright, maybe I will.” Jake grinned. “And what was the first decision?”

“Asking her out in the first place, you chucklenut!” The Amero-Anglican’s smirk turned into a hearty grin. “Seriously, I’ve seen lead zeppelins less dense than you.”

Jake laughed. “Yeah, I get that a lot.” He took a quick bite from something he didn’t recognize, but enjoyed. “Is it hard, maintaining a relationship? You’ve done it for quite some time, right? Is it easier than I’m afraid, or are you just good at it?”

“It’s easy, if you know the right trick,” Albert said, settling himself in for an explanation. “The key to a successful marital life is simpler than most people think. All you have to do is just never stop dating. That advice has kept Foulke men and women happily married for generations.”

“That… sounds simple enough,” Jake agreed. He poked the food in front of him for a bit, frowning. “I hope I didn’t… start the two of us off with the odd way I approached you at first, Al. You seem a cool guy, and you are obviously fairly self-sacrificing. I just wanted to make sure it was for the right reasons.”

“Hey, you were honest, that’s all that matters.” Shrugging slightly, Albert continued, “Now, if you had tried to slide in all conniving-like and try to worm my problems out of me, then we might have had a problem. But hey, honesty breeds honesty, and that’s why I’m not beating you down with my stump arm. You’re a good kid, Jake. Just hope the future doesn’t take that from you.”

“As long as I have people to support me… and people I can support, it won’t” Jake nodded his head towards Albert’s arm. “Just don’t let this war take you, all at once or piece by piece. You have someone waiting for you at home, and she’ll be glad to have you back.”

“That was never part of the plan, especially with how few battles we have left to fight.” Albert scratched his head, thinking of the future. “It’ll be a great day when I finally get back home. No more war, just me and her and whatever comes our way.”

Jake nodded. “And you have your priorities straight. And that is what is important right now. First Phobos, and then a nice little retirement for you and the little missus.”

“And to you and Atka as well, can’t forget,” Albert added. “I’d say this would be the war to end all wars, but we both know how that that turned out last time we said that. Still, a man can hope.”