X-COM: A Story of Despair
Chapter 1: Frail Beginnings
Jungles of Nigeria
March 16th, 2018
Serina managed to stay up, and got to a tall, overturned stone, returning fire and taking down a Floater so that only the large enemy soldiers were left in sight, and were forced to start climbing down. “Get up, you idiots, or I’m leaving you here!” Serina yelled.
Desmond grabbed his side, his healed side now having a bit of shrapnel in it. When he tried to stand, he was met with a jolt of pain, falling back down as he reached out and grabbed his pistol, pulling out the clip and replacing it with a fresh one. “Get out of here!”
“I can’t just leave you here!” Atka pleaded, pushing herself to her feet and trying to get the spinning feeling out of her head, not even noticing a piece of alien alloy lodged in the side of her leg at the moment. She took aim with her marksman rifle, reasoning that the enemies were at just the right range for her to strike and them to be forced to advance. A shot echoed out, adrenaline allowing her to aim, and fired a shot into the helmet of one. It didn’t completely break it, but Atka only momentarily faltered, firing again and taking down the enemy before they could respond. The other three sought cover, advancing more slowly.
However, help had already snuck into the jungle, and two sets of plasma bolts leapt out, one narrowly missing Serina and the other claiming the life of the last member of Team B, leaving only the three from fireteam A alive. Serina turned, an expression of rage and denial on her features. “You aren’t going to kill me that easily, you damned aliens!” She briefly recognized the shooters as Outsiders, and fired off her rocket into their midst, blowing up the energy constructs before they could have a chance to regenerate.
One of the Mutons, who got courage from seeing the lowered number of enemies began to advance towards Atka, determined to get close and personal with the kill he was going for as she was reloading again. The alien stopped short however, reaching up as if grabbing some invisible force around his face. The Muton rose slowly in the air, dropping his weapon and trying to hit whatever was doing this to him, but fell limp as his head imploded, spewing out liquid like a crushed grape, his arms swinging back and forth as they fell to its side.
The body flew to the side, Desmond collapsing to one knee, vomiting up his meal from earlier as a wave of nausea rushed over him. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his armor, slowly looking to Atka. “I thought… I told you to run…” He said with a small smirk, nearly falling flat on his face but stopping himself as he propped himself up with his arms.
Atka looked at him in a mixture of gratitude and horror. “Serina, help… help me with him.” The two, one not really happy about it, helped Desmond to his feet, guiding him into the trees and out of sight from the Mutons. The Skyranger quickly came into view, but Serina suddenly stopped walking. Atka glanced back at her, her expression becoming one of terror as she realized that there was a spiral of violet energy connecting the American’s head to a strange-looking Sectoid in the brush, seeming to have burn wounds from the rocket earlier.
“Die,” Serina said with uncharacteristic calm, pulling out her pistol and firing at Atka. The shot punched through the nimble Inuit woman’s arm, and she fell to the ground in pain, alive but injured further, the pain starting to flare up. The Sectoid Commander vanished into the brush, content to let its puppet do the killing with no risk to itself.
“S-Serina… get a hold of yourself…” Atka begged, trying to reach down to her pistol but her right arm failing her. “Don’t… do this…”
An unnerving smile crossed Serina’s features. “Oh, but this is so fun… to make this one kill her friends for what she did to me…”
Scar said, her voice sounding mixed with one that was certainly not human. She aimed at Desmond’s head.
“Resist… damn you!” Atka weakly raised her right hand, and a helix of blue leapt out, looking like a half-frozen set of icy lines crossing like a rigid strand of DNA. The mindfray impacted with Serina’s head, temporarily disrupting control, but not enough. With a growl of mental anguish and rage on both the controller and the puppet’s parts, Serina dropped her pistol, and reached back for her SAW. Pulling it out, she aimed at Atka, only to realize the Inuit woman had drawn a pistol just a second before.
Unfortunate, but at least I have my direct revenge,
the Sectoid Commander mused to itself as Atka pulled the trigger, putting a bullet through Serina’s head.
Atka collapsed to the ground to her knees, her eyes seeming vacant from what she had just done, her pistol dropping to the jungle floor as she did. After a while, Atka would feel a pair of arms wrap around her, a bloody and battered Desmond having to muster any strength he had left for the act. “You had to.”
“That… doesn’t make it right…” Atka mumbled, shakily getting to her feet, knowing they had to get to the Skyranger before the Sectoid Commander returned with friends. She and Desmond dragged themselves into the Skyranger, taking off with only 2 survivors from a squad of 12.
Back at base, the two were taken to the medical ward, where Commander Jones awaited, seeming somber but also eyeing them with distrust. “What… did you two do out there? An alien’s head exploded after some red glow… and Darger…” He seemed to lose his nerve momentarily, the image of what Atka had done to her still in his head. “Not only did she suddenly seem weakened, but you… you two have their powers, don’t you? How can I be sure this wasn’t a setup? That you’re not spies that were allowed to survive?”
“Because you are not currently experiencing what that Muton did right now for sending us on that crap-shoot of a mission.” Desmond stated, too tired and in too much pain for pleasantries.
“I’d watch your mouth, I-”
“Commander, enough. Please,” a second voice came from the doorway, the aggrieved central officer standing in the doorway. “No one could fake the hell you can see they’ve been through. We’ve lost enough people today… just… leave it be. They may have psionic abilities, but they aren’t spies. They may be two of our best soldiers.”
The Commander shakily stepped back, seeming to have only been able to gather his wits enough to make those initial accusations. “You’re… probably right. I… think I need to be alone for awhile.” Without another word, he departed, leaving the two to be sedated and treated.