RP XCOM2: Liberation of Earth


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 1”

Sure enough, as they progressed along the docks they encountered a few turret emplacements. However, those were easily dealt with. Jezebel could approach, decloak and blown one up, and then go back into concealment. She did end up using the grenades she brought with her to ensure the takedown of the automated defenses, but as they were not more advanced versions (they seemed to be outdated) it did not require anything more than the stealth operation’s pinprick attacks to clear the way.

There was no sign of Peacekeepers. Whether that was to conceal the Overseer’s location or simply because the docks weren’t considered an important enough location to guard, it wasn’t clear. But Menace 1-5 found no further resistance along the way until the warship was in sight. In front of it was a few shorter stacks of crates, many of them missing their doors and thus left ajar. A pair of turrets stood in the way, these ones the most up-to-date models - though they were disguised to look like derelicts from afar with the application of some off-color paint.

Atka took that as a sign that it was time to start using the full range of firepower available to the squad. She lifted her amplitude anti-tank rifle, and let loose a shot from it. The rapidly-vibrating bullet zipped out at velocity equivalent to that of a railgun, impacting with the weak point on the turret - a spot on the base just below the gun barrel attach point. There was a small internal explosion from the stationary gun, and then it fell into nonfunctional disarray. The other one swiveled, searching for the camouflaged Ambusher that had opened fire. Before it had a prayer of locating her, however, a shotgun blast from Bombay shredded its armor, allowing Qamut to telekinetically accelerate a spray of bullets from his light machinegun to tear apart the turret body. Both were now taken out of commission, and the way seemed clear.

As the Commander of XCOM advanced towards the gangplank that would lead onto the warship, however, she stopped just shy of the crate piles. Something caught her eye. To her left was a white-furred cat. Not betraying that she had noticed it, she called back to her squad. “Let’s get onto that ship.” She took a few more steps forward, getting closer to the disguised Prowler. Never a better time to test out that trick Nouja showed me. Atka activated her ESP, and maximized her senses so that she could predict a few seconds into the future - insofar as the physical environment informed her of what was to come.

She saw that after three more steps, the alien feline would start to transform. So Atka took two forward, and then took action in a manner that she knew the cat wouldn’t be able to predict. Blue World! Her astronaut Reflection appeared in the air, close to the maximum extent of its range. It was close enough to the Prowler that it could attack. It reached out with a large hand, moving at a superhuman that it once was incapable of. Blue World seized the small enemy as it was trying to transform to its larger form. “It’s futile to resist,” Atka told the cat, her Reflection using its other fist to send a flurry of blows into the alien feline’s skull. The blows caused it to crack, and then cave in, rendering the Prowler quite-dead as Blue World tossed it to the side.

However, the Prowler was not alone. A second one transformed, and was surrounded in a telekinetic field provided by a Shieldbearer lurking in one of the crates as it leapt at Atka’s back - a point which Blue World could not defend her. Thanks to its ESP, the Prowler knew this. Several Peacekeeper soldiers rose up from hidden positions, revealing themselves to be Assassins as they drew sniper rifles and let loose high-powered railgun shots.

Several powerful shields sprang up around various members of the squad, at least redirecting the shots as taking them directly would have just shattered the attempt at defense altogether. Sparks leapt from the previously destroyed turrets and entered into the french operative’s hand, letting loose a quick attack that fried one of the assassins where they stood, killing them close to instantly.

Meanwhile, Elise moved forwards, dodging around incoming fire dexterously as she moved in, looking for the Shieldbearer who was protecting the alien attacking the XCOM commander. Upon finding him, the plates of her white face mask retracted as she gathered acid in her mouth and spat it out at the Peacekeeper to disrupt its shielding protocol and slowly corrode its armor.

Morpheus himself looked to assist in the action, locking his sights on the large alien feline, firing his HMG at the beasty with a growl, letting his contempt of the aliens overwhelming him as he sought to do nothing but utterly destroy the enemy.

The prescient alien leapt out of the way of most of the bullets, but it couldn’t dodge them all - some of the shots digging into its hide and causing it no shortage of pain. Atka swiveled, giving a grateful nod to Morpheus before unleashing Blue World’s speed and strength upon the second cat. Blow after blow rapidly rained down on the beast until parts of its flesh became like sinkholes, and its tortured body clattered into a crate - denting it with the impact.

The Shieldbearer facing Elise chose to drop his shield, instead pulling out his battle rifle and aiming it directly at her face. The support soldier had the opportunity to dodge, but she would not have been able to avoid a severe hit altogether if not for the crack of a pair of pistols. Two high-frequency bullets dug into the Shieldbearer’s arms, causing his shot to go wide and allowing the hybrid woman in front of him to easily duck out of the way.

“Got your back, Elise,” Jezebel informed her comrade, lowering her dual sidearms.

As another pair of Assassins revealed themselves and got into a sword-clash with Kevin, and a few Zephyrs harassed Qamut and the Heli-SHIV near him, there was a thunderous sound as hundreds of gallons of water were tossed to the side by something the squad couldn’t initially see. Then, without any further warning, the form of a Sectopod shot up to tower a few meters over the humans below in its high stance. The titanic machine’s wrath cannon was already charged up, and it spat scarlet death in Gwendoline’s direction. The force of the fusion blast was so much that it destroyed her Pavise Armor’s upscaled shield, and quickly began to melt the superheavy armor itself at a rapid pace.


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 2”

Alarms blared inside the armor, Gwen sweating with fright as she called upon her powers to begin trying to reinforce the area that was being hit the beam, the woman fighting for her life to keep back the damage that would kill her if she did not. Finally, when the beam stopped firing, thinking it had won, Gwen was left pretty much with a gaping hole in her armor’s chest with the power on emergency back up so the back of the armor could fall away and the Frenchwoman crawl out relatively unharmed.

Breathing heavily, She stared at the Sectopod for only a few moments before placing her hand against her now useless armor, drawing upon the large battery pack that was used to power the thing that was undamaged. Gwen’s left arm contracted a bit due to the large amount of electrical energy she drew having an effect on her muscles underneath the skin before she aimed the hand towards the sectopod and fired off a beam of her own aimed to try and overload the shield protecting the massive robotic unit.

The protective electromagnetic field around the Sectopod flickered violently as it was overloaded, creating a brief window in which the robot was vulnerable to bluescreen damage. Not wasting the opportunity, Ludwiga stepped out of cover with an EMP grenade in hand, tossing it directly at the towering titan and managing to short out its cannon system temporarily. Although the wrath cannon was recharging, the belly of the beast was left gaping open. A weak point that could be exploited.

The Genesis leader this time stepped up, leaving the others to deal with the remaining Peacekeepers as he dealt with the larger threat that could regain its defenses at any minute. He had seen quite a few demos of the hulking machines at work, and knew that trouble would be on hand if something wasn’t done. Desmond’s eyes glowed as he summoned a great deal of energy in order to form a psi lance that had a layer of fire surrounding it, sending the attack towards the weak spot. When it arrived, the flames were used to quickly melt away some of the metal before the attack punctured the innards of the robot and flew out the other side - riding the massive explosion of the Sectopod’s power core.

The gunfire began to die down, and then ceased altogether as the last holdouts of defenders were taken down. The wintery quietude once again overtook the docks, though it was now joined by the intermittent sparking of wrecked machinery. Atka smiled, looking between Ludwiga and Desmond. “Not bad.”

The red psion shrugged, looking over to the soldier he saw take a direct hit from the machine. “I believe there is someone else who deserves that sentiment more. I’ve seen armor trucks incinerated from those beams. Not exactly an easy thing to counter.”

Atka stepped over to Gwen. “You alright?” she asked the Juggernaut.

“A bit tired…” The soldier said as she rubbed her face, looking up at the smoking wreck of her Pavise Armor. “I feel a bit naked now though.”

“At least you’ve got your regular shield still,” the Commander remarked, referring to the defensive implement on Pierre’s back. “Will just have to be like old times. Though at least you have some finer firearm training now from yours truly.”

“Wow… toot your own horn much?” The young woman teased her commanding officer, taking the defensive implement and expanding it out to full size. “Let’s go hunt us an Ethereal.”

As the team boarded the ship via the gangplank, they were able to see that up close the old world ship had actually been converted quite a bit into something resembling alien design. The deck had been cleared of aircraft long ago, but underneath the layer of snow accumulated around, there were thick cables snaking across the length of the ship, penetrating into the bowels via small holes drilled in. The command deck had been completely renovated and was now taller, made of alien materials and from the outside looked quite menacing. One way windows could be seen at the top but for the psions with ESP, they could also tell that a very strong shield was being generated around the structure, meaning that trying to take it down by outside means would be fruitless.

Past some stacks of alien-looking crates and tools there was a hatch that led most likely to the interior of the lower bay. “Seems we are going in.” Desmond said apprehensively, moving towards the hatch. Once the XCOM forces managed to hack into the security panel attached to the door, they opened it up, and from inside cold air actually rushed out of the ship, as well as a thick layer of fog that began rising out of the hole.

“What the hell is this?” Kevin questioned, taking a step back. “Who themes their secret lair like this?”

“When I met him, Avyssos definitely was an enigmatic figure. Never expected to enter into a ship of horrors though. If you are scared Nash, you can always wait out here and enjoy the peaceful scenery.” The Genesis Commander suggested to his old friend.

“Oh, fuck you,” the New Yorker retorted. “Though… Niphua.” The heart-eyed A.I. appeared briefly at Kevin’s side. “Focus on reflex boosting. This looks like a great place to get ambushed.” The holographic girl nodded with a smile, and then vanished again.

“I am so lucky my suit is insulated and heated…” Elise said with a hint of relief, entering in first. “Damn reptilian genes.” She muttered as she was soon followed by Gwen and then Desmond.

Commander, the group’s Minotaur spoke up, looking at the Inuit woman as he knelt down. I must wait here. Those corridors are too small for me. I will keep the SHIV and stay here to make sure no forces try to come in behind you.

“Alright.” Atka knelt down in front of the hovercraft robot. “Keep a close eye out, Randolf. And watch Morpheus’ back.” The Ambusher stood back up, and descended down into the belly of the ship with the seven others that could fit down the tight corridors.

From the moment they stepped into the ship, it was clear that the place was left intentionally the way it was. The floor was not visible as the fog was merely that thick, and progress was slow as the team attempted to navigate the labyrinth of the naval vessel. They came upon a crossway, with left heading towards the engine room, straight heading for the armory, and the right leading towards the command deck.

“As much as I hate to suggest it, we may have to split up here.” Desmond spoke softly, looking down either path without having the ability to see much except through his ESP. “Me, Atka, and Qamut should head to the right to try and draw out Avyssos. Kevin, Pierre and Jezebel should head towards the engine room to see if power can’t be turned on. Lights would be helpful with this dense shit all around. The rest should head to the armory and make sure there is no one coming to ambush us from that end. Cover our asses here.”

“I’d disagree with you if we weren’t operating in such tight quarters. Splitting up is going to allow us to operate a bit more freely.” Atka wished the other group luck, and then began walking towards the command center with the team’s two strong psions at her side. “I’m hoping this won’t be too difficult,” she spoke quietly. “From what I was able to derive from our captive’s memories, Erebus is supposed to be one of the weaker Overseers. Not as feeble as Neptune was comparatively, but he shouldn’t have as much raw power as Mars did.”

“Won’t matter in the end. Me and you could take on Vekinte if we put our minds to it,” the Commander complimented the other with a smile hidden behind a new white mask that mirrored the one she destroyed during the siege of the Matterhorn.

“Don’t get too cocky, lest you start thinking you can take on an Overseer all by yourself. You’d upset your daughter if you died in such a stupid way,” Atka riposted with a chuckle.

“She isn’t the only one I wouldn’t wish to make cross with me again, so I will keep that advice in mind.” The man responded with a roll of his eyes, keeping his weapon at the ready as the small team continued on.


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 3”

Meanwhile, towards the back of the ship, Gwen walked in front of Kevin with her shield raised, looking at her breath blowing out the front of her helmet as a bit of frost had begun forming on the outside of it. “Why is it so much damn colder now?” The Frenchwoman complained with her tone a bit shaky from shivering.

“I get the feeling that a heater was never installed into this stupid ship,” Kevin responded, keeping his shotgun in his hands. “Turn on your insulators… can’t believe we need to use these outside of Antarctica.”

“I can’t wait for summer to roll around.” Gwen said as she took the Ranger’s advice, looking around a corner. As she did, Kevin could start to feel as if something was staring at him from behind.

The Ranger slowly turned for a moment, then finished his pivot with a fast swivel, leveling his weapon down the way they’d just come. When he did, there was nothing to be seen down the hallway, the fog merely swirling around from where they had moved through it. When Kevin turned back around when nothing could be seen, Gwen was gone, and he was alone in the corridor. “What the-” Niphua, can you pick up anything? Check infrared, UV, audio! Where did they go?

There was silence from the A.I. Suddenly, the air started to become warmer. The fog disappeared. The lights flickered on. Kevin stood in a familiar looking narrow hallway, one that tickled a memory of the old X-COM base. He was dressed in civilian clothes, and when he looked down he was holding nothing, not able to remember why he had suddenly stopped in the middle of heading back to his room.

The young man rubbed his forehead. “The hell…” Did I have too much to drink? No, I was training beforehand… right? His head did feel a little fuzzy, so the Assault couldn’t be sure what he’d been doing. Shrugging, he continued walking down the hallway, heading back to his room.

When he opened the door, Desmond was laying down on his bed, catching some shut eye quickly as per usual when there was nothing better to do. Sitting on a chair, looking up from a book with a happy look, their other roommate gave Kevin a friendly smile. “Welcome back, Kevin.” Madelyne greeted sweetly.

“Hey, Maddie.” Kevin pushed the door, letting it shut behind him as he leaned against the wall. “How was your day?”

“I’ve been bored for the most part. Atka insisted on working out some more and I found this one already here snoozing up a storm, so I figured now was as good a time as any to catch up on some reading. Are you alright? You look like you’ve ate some bad food.” The woman quipped with an amused smile crossing her lips.

“Maybe I have… feel like an old man,” Kevin complained with a smirk. “Can’t remember what exactly I’ve been doing today. Just feels like a blur.”

“War gets to the best of us sometimes.” The woman sat down her book, standing up and walking towards Kevin slowly. She stood on her tiptoes and placed her hand on Kevin’s forehead, the two face to face. “You don’t feel warm. Maybe you should go to Chandra and have her take a look at you. After all, everyone needs you, even if Atka and Desmond like stealing the spotlight from us more times than not.”

Kevin’s breath caught a bit at the proximity. “Y-Yeah, maybe I… should.”

Madelyn’s smile widened a bit more, and she giggled a bit. “You’re getting sweaty. Maybe something else is wrong with you?” she teased.

The Assault covered his eyes with his baseball cap. “N-no, I think it’s just… overly warm in here. Stupid AC is always acting up. You think they’d give the defenders of humanity better accommodations, but...”

“Oh Nash… you’re as transparent as glass.” The cap of the man was slowly raised, and Maddy leaned forward, pressing soft lips against Kevin’s, placing a hand on his cheek.

Kevin’s eyes widened, and he lifted his hands as if to stop her, but found himself unwilling to push her away. This isn’t… so bad…

The kiss lasted a few more moments, Madelyne pulling back as she blushed, brushing some hair over her ear. “T-That was rather forward. Sorry.”

The New Yorker rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t… mind, actually.”

“Of course you didn’t.” Madelyn smiled again, looking down in an embarrassed fashion. However, something didn’t entirely seem right about the situation, as if it was foreign to Kevin’s mind. His face began throbbing a bit as a dull pain was coming along suddenly.

Kevin brought his hands up, rubbing his forehead with a grimace. “Maybe I… am coming down with something.”

“It’s that weak constitution. We need to get more healthy nutrients in you than whatever it is you and Desmond gorge yourselves on. You’ll get sick less often.” The pain increased more and more in Kevin’s features as Madelyne cleared her throat. “There’s something… I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while now.”

“W-What is… what is that?” Something… something isn’t… why am I…?

“Kevin… I lo-” Reality snapped back to Kevin in a sudden rush, the cold and dark returning as everything came back to him. He was kneeling on the ground, in fact overtop something. Then he realized that something was a someone. Gwen slapped at Kevin’s face, his hands around her throat as she was struggling for breath, the smaller woman thrashing about trying to escape his iron grip.

As if burned by a flame, Kevin released the frenchwoman and stumbled backwards. “W-What… what was I… why…?”

Gwen sat up, coughing violently as she turned to the side, tearing off her helmet as she hacked onto the floor. She spit out some mucus, holding onto her throat. The woman wheezed in air quickly, finally able to breathe after being almost strangled to death.

“Pierre, I-” Kevin’s voice caught in his throat, the Ranger looking down at his hands in horror. “Why was I doing that… why was I back there…” He heard a slight rattling behind him.

Jezebel’s shotgun was shaking in her hands, and she had it pointed at Kevin. “C-Captain? Are you… do you have a hold of yourself?”

“I-I’m fine, Procellae. You can lower your weapon,” Kevin told her, trying to gather his wits. I’m a officer. I have to be strong, even if I… despite whatever just happened. “I think… I think that I was put under the mental influence of an enemy. Though… I’ve been mind-controlled before, and that was… unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.” Is that... what they did to Yakone?

“...y-yeah…” Gwen managed to squeak out, her breathing returning a bit back to normal as she sat against the wall, putting a hand over her face. “Your… eyes were different. Had a smile… on your face… like you were enjoying it.”

Kevin took a shuddering breath, rubbing the top of his helmet. “Bastard made me… recall a pleasant memory. Used that to… obscure the gravity of what I was doing, I think. Sounds a hell of a lot l-like what Yakone talked to me about with the Honored Overseer.”

“Just… glad we… got you back to your senses.” Gwen said hoarsely, laying her head back. “Just… give me a minute to recoup.”

Kevin nodded, turning to keep watch. Why didn’t you…?

I-I thought… you had a good reason… Niphua answered timidly.

Dammit! There’s no good reason for me to be attacking a teammate! If that happens again, lock my armor.

U-Understood, Niphua mentally whispered. I’m sorry...

The Ranger did not respond, keeping his weapon trained on the hallway and trying to keep his anxiety and uncertainty with himself from boiling to the surface. Maddie...


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 4”

Elise took point as she and Ludwiga made their way towards the armory as slowly as possible. The reason why the hybrid was in front was due to her quicker reaction time and ability to use close range acid if she had to do something unexpected. “So, been with XCOM long?” the Genesis soldier asked her temporary teammate.

“Since Matterhorn,” the German soldier responded. “Me and a couple of other Europeans joined up around the time the siege got started. I was on the op when they killed Mars, though… I’ll admit there was a lot less sneaking around on that mission. This seems a lot less… straightforward, and that’s maybe scarier than fighting an alien powerhouse. Usually XCOM are the ones ready to ambush from the shadows, but here…” the elder woman rubbed her neck, before placing her hand back on her arc rifle. “Here it feels like we’re the ones being stalked.”

“This is definitely maximum creepy levels right now. I don’t want to… know… what…” Elise trailed off as the captain looked around, sniffing the air. “Do you… smell that?”

“No… what do you smell?” Ludwiga questioned apprehensively.

The captain answered just as much so, “It’s… sickly sweet. Sort of like… decay.”

“Don’t tell me we’ve got a bunch of psi zombies coming our way…” Ludwiga sighed. “I’m too old for this shit…”

“Only one way to find out.” Elise groaned, now wishing that she hadn’t been the one taking point now as the two women pressed on. The came upon a set of double doors slightly ajar, the snake woman prying them apart with the help of her European teammate Once inside the armory, it was not hard to tell the place they were actually in was the cafeteria. The tables were out of place and some were flipped over but lining the walls were racks of old ADVENT equipment that seemed several years out of date. The smell was stronger here, so much so that now Ludwiga could not miss it herself. “What the hell is this place? Why is it so… not in use for an Elder’s base of operations?”

“Doesn’t make any sense,” Ludwiga agreed, scanning the room cautiously to make sure they were alone.

There indeed wasn’t anybody around, but off to the left there was a doorway leading to the kitchen area, the shutters closed and the women unable to see inside. “T-The smell is coming from there…’

Armbruster glanced at the support soldier next to her. “We could just blow up the door if you have a grenade.”

Elise shook her head. “I-I’ve focused more on actual support. I don’t carry explosives. Others usually always did.” Still, Elise’s curious nature was getting the better of her, and she walked forwards to the door, shooting a glob of acid on the handle. When the two girls were in place, she kicked the door open and rushed inside, suddenly looking around in confusion. “T-The smell’s gone. What the hell?”

“...I’d really prefer if we rejoined the others at this point,” Ludwiga muttered.

“Y-Yeah let’s…” There was a chittering coming from outside in the cafe and Elise cried a bit. “P-Please tell me you didn’t hear that and I am imagining things…” the captain asked quickly.

Ludwiga had her Gremlin throw up an aid protocol field around Venom. “I heard that…”

Elise looked around the corner of the door and caught the sight of three Chryssalids strolling through the doors, searching. Elise pulled back quickly and her whimpering increased. “They are real!” the younger woman said in a panicked whisper.

“We can kill three of those… we’ve got the weaponry for it,” Armbruster hissed back. “They have trouble with power armor in small numbers.”

“But what if we miss and they reach us!? They lay eggs in people. Eggs!” Elise stated with genuine terror, “Do you want eggs in your body!? We can… we can sneak around them, can’t we? Please tell me we can.” the hybrid pleaded, holding her gun close to herself.

Ludwiga sighed. She patted Elise on the shoulder. “Didn’t want to waste it this early, but alright. Stand back, would you?” The support complied, meekly shuffling out of the way. Ludwiga took a step back herself. “Let’s hope this doesn’t reach the armory,” the German remarked with a grim chuckle. She carefully and subtly took her missile launcher off her back, aimed it at the trio of Chryssalids, and pulled the trigger. A swarm of six pulsating green missiles screamed out of the weapon’s long barrel, a pair hitting each of the Chryssalid and creating a chain explosion that rocked the section of the ship they were in and reduced the alien insects to ash.

Elise once again went to peer around the edge of the doorway as if to confirm the deaths of the alien creatures. When she was done with her confirmation, Venom let out a relieved sigh and leaned against the wall. “I’m so glad that is over with…”

“Take a moment, and then we’ll keep going,” Armbruster responded with a nod.

When the hybrid took a deep breath, and moved out into the main room of the cafeteria once more, she looked over the out of date weaponry and tilted her head. “You know, I almost wonder if those troops we fought outside were freshly brought in. Is it too far out there to think that this Elder didn’t even keep a garrison until now?”

“From the design of this place he does seem like the creepy loner type,” the Paramedic agreed.

“It seems other than the handful of enemies we have… encountered,” Elise couldn’t help but shiver. “I think we can be safe to assume that nothing too horrible will be coming after us.”

Ludwiga bobbed her head. “We’ll sweep the room really quick and head back to the others, then.”

Giving a nod as well, Elise went looking around, though deep down wanted to crawl under something for protection.


Desmond looked both directions down the hallways that led to the command quarters of the alien-made tower portion of the ship. The alien alloys that composed the structure were dark in color, with only blue accent lights to illuminate the path at all. This made traversing the fog at least somewhat bearable. Ever since entering this part of the ship though, the three psions could feel a pressure on their minds - a barely noticeable anomaly that could be felt when psions were outputting a large amount of power. “I really don’t want to know what that creature is doing up at the peak of his obsidian tower…” the Genesis Commander noted warily.

“Preparing for us, no doubt,” Qamut surmised, pulling his powered shield off his back and wielding it on his left arm. He deposited his high-frequency SMG into his right hand. “The question is… do we wait on the others, or engage him before he has too much time to ready himself?”

“I worry about waiting too long. He might seek us out, and he knows the ship better than us. I’d rather engage him while we hold the power to make that decision, and count on the others to show up after we’ve felt out his abilities and stalled him for awhile,” Atka decided, having only her revolver out right now due to the tight quarters. “Reaching him should be our top priority.”

“As our distinguished leader says.” Desmond said with his tone giving away underneath his mask he likely had a smirk underneath. After the climb of several flights of stairs, the power could be felt more and more as they ascended. After a few moments, goosebumps would spread over Atka’s body, the hallway seeming to get a bit chillier. “Seems we have to rush things a bit.” Moments later, the man drew a fusion blade from his back and quickly ran it through Qamut, pinning the man into the nearest wall, leaving him pinned with the fatal wound. “If that what the Elder wishes, so be it…”

“D-” Atka’s words were choked in her throat for a moment. Her form trembled in shock and anger. “Why… why would you…?!”

“Simply, to get into your good graces and lull you into a false sense of security so that I could strike you down when you finally felt comfortable to fight side by side against an Elder. The plan was ingenious really. The noble and heroic Commander Ipiktok loses her life while fighting a Declension. Yakone would be so torn up, but good thing she would have her father to steer her along for now on,” the man said with an amused grunt. “You played into our hands perfectly.”


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 5”

Behind her, Atka’s shadow writhed. “Goddamn bastard! I won’t let you!” Calling upon her umbral Reflection, the Inuit woman was surrounded by the faint shade. “Kommanda-”

Flames leaped out from a ball that formed in front of the traitorous Assault, molten wings spreading out from it that sent out a heat wave to envelop the Reflection around Atka, interrupting her ability to reverse time. “Did you think me stupid woman? Your tricks won’t work against me this time. If you wish to fight, do it with your bare hands! Show me just how weak you truly are!” Desmond taunted.

With the destruction of Kommandant, Atka felt dread seep through her chest, drowning her heart in despair. Her hope to save Qamut’s life had been dashed. There was only one option left to her. The Commander’s old companion Revenge rested his palm on her shoulder, and a vengeful Atka lifted her revolver with a cold fury. “I’ll fucking blow your head off, you monster,” she spat with the deepest hatred, pulling the trigger. She intended to follow up the shot with a whip of her icy helixes, but found that the hope-based thoughtform would not answer her call.

Desmond shifted his body to the right, the bullet ricocheting off the stairs with a sharp pang. Moving forward, the Assault grabbed the barrel and twisted it away before it shot again, shoving Atka back with his shoulder. “You really have lost your edge. You were much faster in your youth.”

A storm surge of physically-enhancing energy washed over Atka’s body, the power crackling as if lightning when it conducted along her cybernetic limbs and sparked out of her mechanical eye. She clenched her fists tight and threw a punch straight for Desmond’s face, intending to turn the cruel grin she imagined lurked beneath into a broken expression of agony.

In response, Desmond used his telekinesis to cause the punch to shift to the side. It just missed his head, and Desmond immediately followed up by pressing his hand against her chest. He sent her flying down the stairs with fire alight on her armor. As she hit the floor, the flames expanded rapidly, and even the heat started to move to her body underneath. Searing pain erupted over the Commander’s body as she was slowly being consumed in fire.

In a bid to save herself, Atka created a seething cold aura of frost around herself that snuffed out the flames, though the thermokinetically-charged damage had been done. Atka’s armor was melted all over, the lower layers being the only thing intact as the rest had been turned to dust or rent to the point of uselessness. Struggling to stand, Atka focused all her anger into a point on her trembling palm. A boiling mindfray helix snapped outwards, lunging at Desmond’s skull.

There was no proper defense Desmond currently had in his repertoire for the mindfray, and the attack unfortunately hit home, causing the man to fall to his knees in pain. Atka rushed up the steps, using the psionic strength flowing through her form to make up for the restrictions that pain placed on her movement. With a baleful cry, she thrust her fists at Desmond again - this time while he was under the effects of the mind-scattering mindfray.

Her fist struck against the metallic face mask Desmond wore with enough force that the metal bent, and the repeated blows split the steel visage in two, revealing the heavily bleeding face below. The Commander of Genesis breathed heavily, slowly fighting against the effects of the mindfray. His eyes were closed as the crimson liquid did not allow him to open them, though he reached out, sending his own fist into her helmet with a prolonged growl. While she staggered slightly, Desmond used his ESP for sight and placed his hand against her helmet, attacking her own mind with a small amount of soul fire that caused no physical damage, but was enough to scramble her own thoughts.

Reality came back in a flash, Atka’s armor appearing not harmed whatsoever. Her revolver was still located on the floor where she dropped it, but the biggest change was the fact Qamut was instead propped up against the wall instead of with a sword through him, the fusion blade still clearly on the Assault’s back. Also still there was the bloody face and broken mask he had received from her own hand.

“W-What?” Atka held her forehead, grimacing. “Why…” Realization hit her with a sledgehammer. “An illusion… that… that was an illusion.” She tangibly felt the color drain from her features at that fact. At how easily she’d snapped. The signs had been there that something was off. But like a fool I fell for it. Goddammit! God damn me! Atka took a shaky step forward. “Desmond? Are… are you alright?”

“Fan… fucking… tastic…” The man said in clear pain, growling as his facial features twitched and caused even more pain. “Where’s Chandra when you actually need her?”

“I should have realized what was going on… God, I’m sorry,” Atka whispered hoarsely.

Sitting up slowly, Desmond held a hand over his face, placing his thumb and middle finger on his temples. Inside he was broiling in a rage but had to keep it suppressed both because he was more angry at himself for not trying soulfire sooner and for his pain. “Go splash Qamut with some ice and try and wake him up. He collapsed before you started attacking.”

Atka nodded solemnly, going over to her fellow tribesman and washing a cold mist over him in an attempt to rouse the Enforcer. “What did that damn Declension do to you…” she muttered.

Desmond himself slowly forced himself to his feet, trying to wipe the blood from his face, falling against the wall as he felt woozy from the headshots. “When… did your hooks become so deadly?” he asked despite knowing the clear answer. Complaining kept him sane.

The whirr when Atka moved her robotic arm provided a succinct answer. Qamut started to come to, and his kinswoman stepped back as he began to awaken. “I really am sorry… I…” Atka reiterated to Desmond. She felt guilty to the core, but like a switch being flipped, her rationality asserted itself. There would be plenty of time to apologize and mope when the mission was over. Right now I need to focus. “I won’t be fooled by that again,” the Inuit woman stated to Desmond. It was the best repentance she could offer him right now.

“Fingers crossed. Next time I might lose teeth.” Finally clearing enough of the blood from his eyes, he finally looked around, recovering his main rifle. “Let’s get this Elder and go home.”

“Amen to that,” Qamut grumbled, forcing himself to his feet.

Moving their way up the final flight of stairs, the team came upon a large set of double doors reinforced with electronic locks. After a few seconds of puzzling out how to open the door, their Assault walked to the security pad and drew his sword, stabbing it into the console. The electronics hissed, and the doors began to open, the swordsman retracting the blade. The task was far more simple than expected. Compared to what came next, the ease of that solution was a godsend.

The room at the top of the tower was filled with several large viewscreens that showed off several parts of the ship, though which sections they were was unclear - the subtitles were marked with the aliens jagged and confusing calligraphy. In the middle of the room, there was a large casket-like object with the lid merely glass to show the figure inside. Lying on the bottom was an Ethereal in blossom pink robes - an unusual color to be seen on an Ethereal, as most wore more practical colors. The mask covering her face was smoothed completely, with no indents or any markings except the name etched around the side of the covering.

Past that, with his back to the three was another Ethereal, this one in robes of pitch black. Alien lettering ran up and down a sash that rested on his shoulders and fell all the way to the floor. The hieroglyphs were inscribed in gold -as was his helmet. When the Elder turned, his mask was much like the one in the coffin - this one, a glass black. All four arms were crossed across the alien’s chest. “Welcome.”


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 6”

“Welcome?” Atka echoed in astonishment. “That’s what you have to say?”

“My family has a closely-held proverb they have passed down since the first of our clan was established. ‘Greet a friend as an enemy, and an enemy as a friend.’. Since you have made it this far, a welcome is the least I can do for the Commanders of XCOM and Genesis.” Avyssos’ voice was not like other Elders. Where the others’ speech was usually not used often, his was smooth and cold like the very ship he resided in. “It is good to see you again Desmond. I expected great things of you. Standing up to my ilk was certainly the most I could have hoped for.”

“You say that as if everything is running according to plan,” Atka remarked with a narrowing of her eyes. “You’re unaware of the gravity of this situation if you think that everything’s going to be fine and dandy for you.”

The laughter that escaped Avyssos was rolling and mocking, smooth as silk but somehow containing an edge of frost to it that gave away the lack of care behind it. “Do you think I am afraid of death, woman? I sold my soul over to whatever controls the beyond long ago. What drives me now is one, sole emotion. Revenge. Revenge against the wretches who brought us here looking for conquest to sate their own agendas. Oh, and how revenge has been sweet to watch. My only regret is that you seem to be keeping some of my kind alive. That simply is just not going to do.”

“If…” Qamut shook his head. “If you wish to see dead Ethereals, then I don’t see why we have a reason to fight. Sure, you may not get everything you want when things are done our way, but you stand no chance against the Protectorate on your own. And killing us would only spoil your opportunity to exact vengeance.”

Atka crossed her arms. “You’ve caused me no shortage of trouble, but I’m not shortsighted. Qamut has a point. I’ll give you an opportunity to cease hostilities between us.”

“Self-important tools. That is how I see you humans. Puppets who my kind have used and are now ready to try and either fix with force, or toss aside. I have no love for your kind, nor my own. I prefer my void of solitude where I can wallow in my suffering, and through that I reinforce my hatred for all life. I will be death. For you, for my people, and for anything that dares stand in the way of my revenge. I was hoping those worthless Protectorate troops would have been enough. It seems however things will need to be taken into action personally. When you are disposed of, I will find Shen and the others, and end them. When my power is great enough, I go for the heart of the Ethereals itself. And when all is destroyed… then I will know peace.” Avyssos stated with certainty.

Atka exchanged glances with Qamut. “I rescind my offer,” XCOM’s Commander decided with abrupt assurance. Her icy helixes twisted from her hands, forming into Blue World in a neutral stance in front of her. “You’re just crazy.”

“Guilty as charged.” The Ethereal responded smoothly, not wasting any time in starting things off. Four psi lances quickly formed with two on either side of the black robed alien and went flying towards the team of three, two for Atka, and the other two for each of the men. The Overseer hit a button with telekinesis, and the glass of the coffin slowly slid back; the Ethereal inside began to rise slowly.

Qamut used his telekinesis to slid narrowly to the side of the psionic bullet as it neared impact range, dispersing the force into Desmond at his side to provide the same means of dodging for the Genesis Commander. Atka, similarly, skated across a path of ice to avoid the attack. She was unwilling to have her Reflection - now less durable than it had once been - take the hit itself. Instead, the astronaut thoughtform retaliated by slamming both of its fist on the floor, sending a groundwave of ice spikes at the Ethereal across from itself.

The form of the pink robed Ethereal retreated in front of Avyssos and held out her withered arms, a telekinetic shield forming that the spikes broke against. At the same time, fog quickly billowed from her robes, concealing the two in the misty cover. Diluculum rushed to the side of the room towards a large locker, while Avyssos tried something different to throw Atka off-guard. Subsume tendrils sprung from his back and launched themselves forward, trying to wrap up Blue World and attack the manifestation of her will -and vicariously Atka’s psyche.

Due to the fact that the psionics of Reflection and user were linked, the attack was quite effective. Atka’s eyes widened and she grimaced as psionic energy began to be drained off her with waves of fatigue accompanying the attack. “D-Dammit…” Having no choice, she attempted to dismiss Blue World - only to find that the tendrils were in essence grounding the astronaut in its material form. Trying to break Avyssos’ hold, she hit him with a mindfray - only to find that the mental attack had no effect. The terrifying part was that it hadn’t been countered by a strong will. Instead, it had merely vanished into the void. What kind of mind-shielding is that?! she thought in a panic.

Avyssos gave no chance for thought or respite however as he launched his own mental counterattack in the form of Soulfire, using the attack through the attachments holding Blue World to try and utterly destroy the Commander’s mind. The attack was interrupted last-minute as a bout of flames exploded in front of Avyssos, causing the robes to be singed but not entirely lit as the fog offered a moist atmosphere where fire was hard to manifest. From the side of the room -while the Overseer dealt with Desmond- Qamut was not easily forgotten either. The object Diluculum had gone to retrieve turned out to be a massive variant of a plasma sniper rifle that was wielded in the Ethereal’s four arms. Shots were fired, though the aim left much to be desired.

Surprisingly, the Enforcer chose not to dodge. He wanted to deal damage as soon as possible to the dangerous opponent, so instead he lifted his shield and interlocked the plates in his armor, configuring them in the ablative mode. The plasma shot penetrated his raised bulwark, but when it impacted with his armor enough of the superheated energy was dispersed that the pair of shots left deep scores in his armor, but did not penetrate it. In reprisal, he combined his offensive psionics for a potent attack. The air in a column in front of him was filled with oxygen, making it highly flammable. And through that ignitable zone he sent a burning shockwave forth, battering the enemy’s shield with a high-impact, searing strike.

The shield lasted a few moments before it broke away, the body of Diluculum being consumed in flames for several moments. When the attack dissipated, the Ethereal used fog to quench the flames and allowed the green glow around the skin to disappear, releasing the Overdrive. The mask stared down Qamut a few moments before firing once more.

Desmond dodged several lance attacks, sending some of his own in response to the Overseer’s persistance. While he avoided some of the attack, Desmond used his telekinesis to invisibly strike at the Elder, swatting him away and into the glass of the command post hard. The subsumed tentacles retreated from Blue World and the Genesis Commander quickly went to Atka’s aid. “You alright?”


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 7”

“Deja vu…” Atka muttered, clenching and unclenching her hands to fight away the numb buzz that had spread over her body. “I’m just… glad he didn’t get you into a bind like that. He didn’t… fully drain my of my energy, but had he hit someone with a burst-style and lower endurance like you…” She didn’t finish the thought, retrieving her ATR from her back and taking aim at Avyssos.

While she did, Qamut had been forced onto the defensive by the threat of the double-barreled sniper rifle Diluculum held. He had relied on his telekinesis to push him out of the way of several shots, but, tiring, he had planted his shield down upon his landing and placed his LMG ontop of that. He locked the Ethereal down with suppression, wanting to utilize a more powerful attack from the machine gun but knowing that the amount of ammunition in his magazine was his lifeline.

Avyssos was forced to have Diluculum provide them with illusion cover, some for Diluculum so she could escape the suppression and some for the Overseer so Atka’s shots did not land. “I tire of this.” With her mind weakened, there is no surviving this. Telekinesis activated another switch and the room lights went red immediately, there being a whirl around the entire room. “Die now.” Forming a shield around them, Avyssos and Diluculum broke through one of the windows of the command center and floated down towards the deck.

Desmond knew exactly what was coming. “Phoenix!” He called out, the fiery bird appearing from a fireball in front of the assault, spreading out its wings. Desmond reached out with telekinesis, dragging Qamut over towards them and wrapped his arms around Atka as suddenly the room exploded into fire. The flames were upon them in a split second. The only thing keeping the explosion from incinerating them was a combination of telekinesis and pyrokinesis, which was being supported through Desmond’s Reflection.

It was like trying to stop a bull mid-charge with only one’s bare hands. Still, even if only barely, the explosion was kept back. The back of the Genesis leader’s armor was scorched before the fire was completely pushed away. The command room had been left a scorched husk, with small residual fires all around. Phoenix retreated, and Desmond slowly retracted his arms from the woman he saved from facing the inferno. “Damn him…” the red psion said a bit tiredly.

“He’s trying to exhaust us. Everything he’s done has been to wear us out so he can sweep in like a vulture feasting on dying animals,” Atka growled. “We still have to finish this somehow, though.”

Luckily for the three on the command deck, Avyssos has descended to face an imposing Minotaur soldier and the hovering SHIV at his side. The latter unleashed a hailstorm of Crest HMG fire, barraging its targets with gauss-accelerated, high-frequency bullets. The former let out a primal roar at the sight of one of the Elders. Morpheus rushed forwards and -with his elerium axes in hand- struck out at the pair of Ethereals, only to be attacked by a mindfray that left him roaring in pain.

“We’re going to need the others. Now that we’ve engaged, fuck radio silence.” Desmond opened up all the comm channels and reached out to the other members of Menace 1-5 throughout the ship and ordered they all rally back to the deck. He looked over at Atka, and despite the fact his back smoked and his face was covered with half dried blood, he still was the one to ask, “Ready to go on? Or do you need to sit this one out?”

“Is that even a question?” Atka lifted Direwolf, aiming the ATAR at the Overseer below and pulling the trigger with abandon.

After a few minutes, between the struggle of the aliens and the few XCOM units, the others appeared to enter the fray for better or for worse. Gwen had the shield at the ready but kept a bit too far away from Kevin than she really should have. Meanwhile, Elise stayed close to Ludwiga, obviously finding comfort in knowing she had someone to rely on in case anything nasty popped out again.

Avyssos quickly surveyed the battlefield as Diluculum kept back the fire that threatened to hit him, avoiding the majority of shots as his brain processed the best course to victory. The plan begun by creating another screen of fog to cover their movements, the Ethereal in black taking control of the plasma sniper now as the other moved lower to the deck.

Her target was Jezebel, using a strong combination of suggestion and biokenetic reprogramming to try and turn her against her allies. Diluculum flooded her body with adrenaline and tweaked her mind after Avysoss had looked through recent memories. The appointed enemy given to the brainwashed soldier was Elise. In Jezebel’s mind her confession was a threat to her strength, and she didn’t truly care about her. After all, Elise did nothing while she sat in a cell. Jezebel’s eyes went wide and stayed that way, a ferocious grin forming on her features as she teleported behind the Support and let loose a shotgun blast.

Luckily for Elise, her snake half allowed her a situational awareness that was much like animalistic instinct. The support moved, but took a nasty graze that shot away armor and did some damage underneath, much to the Captain’s surprise. “J-Jezebel! W-What are you… doing?” She asked in pain, feeling warm liquid moving down her back.

“She’s being controlled!” Kevin shouted as he charged Bombay. The feline saw him coming, and darted to the side with a dodge - only for the Ranger to pivot and whip one of his sword hilts across her helmet to stun her. Thanks, Niphua.

Gwen took a shot into her shield, which she had placed down as stationary cover, holding her revolver and pistol combo. The frenchwoman fired to distract, and Avyssos didn’t even bother putting up a defense, merely dodging the small arms fire which at the range she was trying to hit was inaccurate to begin with. However, his attention was diverted, and his back towards Atka. It slipped his mind that the XCOM Commander was still up in the perch of the destroyed tower and was quickly reminded when a shot from Direwolf ribbed into his robes and punched through his lower side. The Overseer wavered in pain, turning his attention to the tower.

Qamut utilized this opportunity well. He had telekinetically hopped down to the deck, and had lurked in the shadows while Ludwiga had patched up his armor. He stepped out from behind the concealing mass of the tower as Ludwiga’s Gremlin went over to Elise to heal her up. The Enforcer’s LMG heated up as he kicked it into high gear, and lowered it at Diluculum. A hail of withering fire rained down upon the Ethereal. With her shields strained against the volume of gunfire in the other directions, only her overdrive aura and armor stood in the way of his shots. The overloading weapon spat out bullets without enough force that those defenses weren’t enough. The rounds that didn’t miss - of which there were plenty - forced their way through her armor and perforated her torso.

Still, the Ethereal remained floating, and made no hint of sensing any pain. However, Avyssos was thrown into a rage. “How dare you desecrate her form!” he yelled, using previously untapped anger to summon forth over twenty lances of psi energy, firing them all off at the singular target.

There was no way to dodge the curtain of psionic bullets that came Qamut’s way. Although he raised his shield, it was hardly enough to protect him from the sheer mass of attacks flying in his direction. His bulwark shattered under the hammering blows, and, left with no recourse, he took the rest of the lance impacts head-on. The shots burst out of his back, and he collapsed in a bloodied heap, crimson running along the deck of the ship.


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Part 8”

Atka did have one option available to her, though. Her shadow solidified, and encompassed her. Kommandant wordlessly turned back the clock, sending Atka back several precious seconds to a span of time before her friend had attacked Diluculum. Qamut! She’s some sort of psi zombie, don’t waste your time with her!

The Enforcer, bewildered but trusting Atka’s judgement, changed his target to Avyssos. He fired in much the same manner, this time at the Overseer. However, alterations in the timestream had caused the Ethereal to not be so distracted by Atka - or wounded - that he saw that strike coming and was able to distort Qamut’s vision enough that he only scored glancing hits.

Events indeed transpired a bit differently this time, and this fact only became more proven when this time -not having heard how futile the attack against Diluculum would be- Morpheus hefted his second, slightly smaller axe which was more balanced for throwing whereas the other was meant for slashing, and he threw the bladed object at the floating puppet. Blade tore into robe and flesh, and the force sent the already dead Ethereal flying backwards into the cold bay water.

Avyssos was motionless for several moments, his black mask staring in disbelief where he old love had been, and his head slowly turned to the monster which had given Avyssos access to much deeply hidden rage. “How dare you desecrate her form!” The Overseer yelled, calling upon thirty psionic lances all at once. Before the attack was launched, an acid cloud popped up in his face, obscuring vision and causing the alien to begin to cough violently as the strong poison made it into his weak system.

“Bullseye.” Elise whispered proudly.

With the Overseer blinded and somewhat incapacitated, Desmond saw fit to put an end to the fight. The red psion brought out Pheonix one last time, the bird extending out its three massive wings. With one violent gust, tendrils of flames circled out in all directions and began to converge on the black robed Ethereal. The tendrils collided, swirling them around with the violent psychokinetic energies of a psionic rift. The Blazing Soul Rift tore away at a person both physically and mentally, and was one of the greatest powers Desmond kept in his arsenal. As violently as it began, it ended, the flames exploding outwards, sending the Ethereal flying away.

However, he was caught in a telekinetic grip and brought close to the bridge, Avyssos barely alive. Desmond reached out, grabbing the helmet and removing it as a last show of shame to the alien. “I hear my daughter likes to collect these. I hope your void is everything you want it to be.” With finality and a wave of the hand, the Overseer of North America was flung aside into the cold water where his dead love had been tossed. Frozen fangs surrounded Avyssos as water rapidly entered his body, the clouds obscuring any sunlight coming from above, leaving him in darkness.

The void… beckons me. Diluculum… I… am coming… Fog clouded the Ethereal’s vision, and he embraced death like a long lost friend.

Atka descended the exterior ladder of the command tower, stepping onto the deck when she disembarked. Erebus had been returned to the primodial darkness from which he came. The battle was over. But she felt no relief from victory. Twice now she had watched a dear friend fall, and the memory of those events - however unreal or averted they were - clung to her like leeches devouring her sanity. More than ever, she felt that the power to reverse time was a curse. An abomination that should not be, and would drive her as insane as Avyssos should she continue to use it. If its adverse effects on her mind weren’t enough, it came with dire consequences. Morpheus had nearly died because of her.

Because of that ability. The Commander glanced back at her shadow. Then Atka looked forward. Avyssos… drove himself mad by holding onto the past. By refusing to move on from the death of one he loved. What if that were to happen to me? If someone I cared for deeply suffered a fate that Kommandant couldn’t avert? Even if that does not come to pass, I will continue to see those I love die in front of me. Their deaths may be reversed, but they’re all too real in my head. I detached my despair from myself, hide it in my shadow… and yet it still tries to drag me into the depths of my own personal hell.

As strategically poor as the decision might have been, Atka knew she had to let go of the secondary Reflection. The umbral thoughtform had to be purified by the light. She turned to face it, and the solidified shade rose up and did not move. Atka looked at the silhouette of herself - of her darkest hopelessness - and formed Blue World to seize it. “I won’t hide from you as I have been. You’re a part of me… but no longer can I grant you the power that I did. Lest you control me.” The shadows flowed into Blue World, recreating the wristwatches on the tops of its hands. This time, however, there were no rewind symbols on them. Merely a pair of play buttons.

Only then did Atka feel the tension of battle and the weight of fear leave her. She breathed out deeply, letting the negative emotions flow away. Blue World dismissed itself, and she turned to face Desmond again. “Good job with the finisher, there,” she told her friend.

Desmond crossed his arms and shrugged offhandedly. “I’m just glad this is over. I never liked houses of horror when I was a kid anyways. Speaking of which though…” Desmond closed his eyes and let out a deep grumble in the form of, “will you come over here and heal my damn face already!?” he yelled at the medic irritability. If a robot could fly over meekly, Ludwiga’s Paramedic Gremlin certainly did. It provided medspray to heal Desmond’s wounds and then flew back to its equally-sheepish controller.


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Epilogue A”

The ride back to the Avenger was certainly an awkward flight, some things going unsaid between the members of the team. Gwen sat nearest to the pilot, next to her being Elise. The reason Elise was there was to act as a buffer to Kevin, who sat beside her. And Kevin was there to separate Elise from Jezebel. Desmond looked on at the group with a mix of amusement, astonishment, and plain confusion. Are you guys always so mopey after a win? he psionically asked the woman next to him.

Well, considering what happened to Jezebel I’m not surprised she’s… well… Atka sighed, looking over the Banshee - who was merely staring at the floor, rubbing her forehead incessantly. In regards to the other two… I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who were puppeteered. Though I have no idea what he went through.

Well, this is a mess certainly. I suppose I should count my lucky stars that you didn’t make me require an iron jaw by the way. That metal arm is cheating. I could have taken you like I did when we were in the original X-COM with your fleshy self, Desmond mused, his tone now only sardonic.

I can’t apologize enough for that, Atka responded, hanging her head a little. I shouldn’t have been so quick to assume the worst.

Desmond let out a light laugh, something he found himself doing more and more lately. Ditching the psionic conversation, he noted regularly, “If I held every time you kicked my ass against you, Yakone would have never been born. Forget about it, okay? Apology accepted, and all that mushy junk.”

“Alright,” Atka conceded, not about to argue. “I just hope it’ll be that easy for the others to move on from this,” she mumbled.

The Genesis Commander glanced over at Atka a few moments, then rolled his eyes at his own hesitation as he reached over an arm around her. “Elise isn’t one to hold grudges. When we get back to the Command Tower I’ll have a talk with her about what’s eating her. As for Kevin… he’s survived this long. When he is ready to open up, he’ll let himself. Jezebel and Pierre… eh. We’ve had to wing things in the past with some success. Why should it be any different now?”

Atka chuckled. “What changed, Desmond? I recall quite keenly that you were never this much of an optimist in the past. Had to push you to have confidence in yourself, let alone other people.”

“Twenty years passed. I’m becoming an old man. I don’t have time to brood anymore. I can do that when I’m dead. Besides… I’ve regained enough to help restore my faith a little bit in humanity.” the red psion said, giving her a smug smile.

“Well, we’ve certainly got this far. Four Overseers down, one on our side, two to go. Though knowing what I informed you about Chronus… it’s not going to be a remotely easy task to take the remaining two down.” Atka shook her head. “That’s an issue for another day, but that day will be coming soon, I’m sure.”

“When it does, we’ll be ready. I’m sure of it.” Desmond closed his eyes, letting out a sigh. You know, when the command room exploded, Phoenix only came because I thought of you and Yakone. Thought about losing you two. Time has a part of my mood change, but you two are the main reason, he admitted more privately.

The Inuit woman shook her head. Why you continue to hold me in such an important place in your heart despite the lingering doubts I’ve shown is beyond me.

Atka exhaled slowly herself. I’ve been… thinking about what we discussed in Chicago a few weeks ago. Going back and forth on the seesaw between principle and honesty. I’ve realized that I’m as tired as you are. I’ve fought for two decades in the name of freeing the world of the alien’s grip, and seeing justice meted out. I still intend to see the Protectorate’s eviction through to the end, and using my influence where I can to ensure the transition back to normalcy goes smoothly.

A pause. But I’m not in a position, morally or rationally, to hold you accountable. I don’t have room for any more hate in my heart without poisoning myself. I want to be free of all the negativity that’s surrounded and charged me for all these years. Granted, my forgiveness, my lack of contempt for you… I have to keep that private. The public excuse for exonerating you is that I’m not in a position to risk the ire of Genesis, before or after the conflict ends.

Atka fell silent again for awhile. Indeed, no one can know that I truly have let go of the animus I had towards you. Or that… I’d be willing to give you another chance. For both of our sake’s and Yakone’s.


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Operation Tenax Erebus, Epilogue B”

Desmond shrugged offhandedly as he also seemed to do very often when confronted with something of great meaning, and responded with a simple, Well, since you asked why I care… I suppose I should answer that question. It’s because I love you the same as I did the day I departed. Even back then my own anger didn’t squash those feelings. Nothing ever left me to be replaced. I suppressed it of course, but never threw it away. As for the world, I’ve become resigned to being hated. Let them hate me for what I was. I certainly don’t want to imply I don’t deserve it. As long as I draw breath, I am going to make use of this second chance. Desmond Walker entered this world a nobody, only poetically fitting he goes back to that when his duty is over, the man thought with a longing smile.

Can’t disagree with that sentiment. Atka smiled faintly. I won’t be dishonest. I can’t… return the same amount of passion you’ve showed me. Not entirely, at the moment, perhaps ever. You outclass me far too much in your devotion. But I can tell you that from the time we’ve spent as allies again, and the common fight we’ve fought… I’ve been reminded of why I fell in love with you originally. And I’ve… felt those feelings returning, obligations be damned.

Even if those feelings never truly return… Desmond began, looking to the side to look at Atka’s changed eyes with a very subtle grin, hearing that made my holdout these past twenty years worth it. Glad I proved to myself sometimes I am not a complete fuckup in all things.

Well, that depends on your perspective. Had you not captured my heart all that time ago you wouldn’t have had to deal with such a persistent thorn in your side during the final months of ADVENT. It’s quite the tradeoff. Your vision for the world or the girl… fact that you picked the latter makes you a hopeless romantic. Atka’s laughter echoed mentally between the pair. Not that I mind.

Desmond shook his head, looking to the ceiling with a drawn out sigh. Be careful Commander Ipiktok. You might make an old man blush.

You’re not that old. You should see Bradford again sometime. Man’s a workhorse, Atka retorted. Though I won’t act like I’m not that way myself. I… hate to admit it, but I have noticed some early gray hairs.

Be careful. If they start to show too much, that young soldier you recruited will never let you hear the end of it, Desmond noted, and when Atka gave him a shocked look, he added, Yakone is as much of a gossiper as her father is.

Smartass would be a better word. Atka glanced down at the mask in Desmond’s hands. You should give that to her yourself. I think it’d be more fitting that way.

Desmond’s smirk took on a more somber note, Yeah… I certainly have a lot of birthdays and Christmases to make up for. Better to start somewhere... the Genesis leader noted wryly.

As do I. I’m just… glad that despite everything, she’s turned out to be the virtuous young woman she is. And that she’s overcome her shortcomings that held her back from being the hero she desired to be. It’s not often that someone is able to realize their dream, but she has.

You know, seeing who her mother is, I’m not all that surprised honestly. She certainly didn’t get that stubbornness to never give up from me. I gave her most of her good looks after all. She needed something from you.

She also got her immaturity from you, I’m certain, the Inuit woman riposted.

You wound me so, Atka, Desmond thought, waiting a few moments. About to say something else, he was interrupted by the pilot, who reported that they were on approach for the Avenger. The announcement stayed his tongue for the time being, and the rest of the way was left in silence. When the ship landed, and everyone began loading off, Desmond waited a few moments before seizing Atka’s wrist. “There’s something I want to let you know before we get off. Likely won’t get a chance to say it for awhile after I depart tomorrow.”

Atka gave him a questioning look. “Go on.”

“Well, it’s all quite simple really,” he tugged on her arm and brought her close, giving her a kiss that neither had shared for a good two decades in the privacy of the ship’s hold. A few seconds later, he pulled back. “Just wanted to give you a quick little nostalgia trip.”

Little, he says,” Atka muttered in response, feeling a little woozy. “The gesture is appreciated, of course.”

“I’d hope so. I’ve been saving that one for a special woman ever since I left X-COM.” he admitted without hesitation.

“Not like I’ve had anything myself. Never felt right… and I haven’t been in the mindset to enjoy something like that in a long time.” Atka couldn’t help but smile. “I’m glad that has changed.”

“So am I. My face has hurt enough today. I didn’t need your metal hand slapping my shit. Come on. We linger too long, people’ll get suspicious.” Desmond said as he made sure he had everything before departing the Skyranger.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601 and Dahlexpert: “Stiff Stubbornness”

1132 Hours, February 7th, 2039
Resistance Shanty City La Paz
Harbor Training Grounds

Falling onto their back and kicking up desert dust, a recruit was rebuffed by Atka. “Again,” she instructed them. “But this time, don’t telegraph your attack so much. I saw that lunge coming from a mile away. You drew your leg back before coming at me, and took too much time to do so to boot.”With a grunt, the Resistance newbie pulled themselves up, and tried again. This time they made a conscious effort not to give away a tell, and stalked around Atka for a few minutes before taking a swing at her. The Commander blocked the strike with ease, deflecting with a swipe of one arm and then locking her opponent’s limb in place with the other and flipping him. “Better.”

The crowd that had gathered to watch XCOM’s Commander laughed, and the person she had so summarily beat sulked off. “Do make sure you don’t break their spirits too much, Atka,” Guillermo remarked with a smirk.

“Snuffing out some of their ego is good for teamwork. Trust me, I’m familiar with such people from experience,” Atka remarked with a knowing chuckle. “He’ll be fine.”

Guillermo shrugged. “I’ll take your word for it. Was never trained in a formal military like you were, after all.” He turned, glancing back at Atka. “I’m going to get some drinks. You want anything?”

“Just some lemonade, if you can find it. I’ll drink when it’s a reasonable time to.” With a nod, the La Paz resistance coordinator walked off, leaving Atka to sit down to the side of the arena and take a breather.

Atka could hear clapping on the far end of the area. When she turned, around she saw Luke smiling. “Training the newcomers, huh? It’s been awhile since I saw you actually training the newbies. Hope your not beating them too badly.”

“No more than is necessary,” Atka responded offhandedly. “What brings you out here, Luke?”

Luke shrugged his shoulders. “A few things really, but I mostly I could use a training partner. And I be lying if I didn't want a rematch from a few months back, and i’m sure the recruits will enjoy the show.”

Atka stood up from her chair, stretching her arms. “I suppose I could go for that. Just remember… against you I won’t hold back. You can take what I dish out.” With the sound of chains being unravelled, Atka’s telekinetic helixes wound into the space in front of her, fashioning themselves into Blue World’s skeleton - the Reflection taking shape fully only a split second afterwards.

“Guess I have a go ahead to not hold back either. I will try not to severely burn you Commander. Don’t want to do the aliens job for them by accident.” Luke sent fireballs around Atka, except he was not aiming for her. Instead, he launced fireballs behind her and to her sides. “Now then. Please make this entertaining Commander.”

Atka could feel the heat radiating off the thermokinetically-charged flaming spheres as they rotated around her. “You’ve definitely improved since the last time we sparred. This is firsthand proof of it. However…” Blue World punched rapidly, one fist on either side of the Commander sending waves of cryokinetic mist outwards. The flames began to die down, and Atka then extinguished them with a potent stream of cold from her own hands. “...so have I.”

Ok, the plan somewhat worked. It still can fully. Now, how do I take on this defense? Oh, I think I have something. Luke once again used his thermokinesis, only this time he used his fire to create an oval around Atka surrounding her with fire. Luke then used his shockwave hoping it will hit Atka.

Seeing what he was doing, Atka took the only way out in this situation. She physically enhanced her legs with a wave of suffusing blue energy, and then leapt into the air out of the ring of fire - coming down in front of Luke. Blue World, bound her to, came with, and unleashed an uppercut at Luke as Atka touched down on the ground.

Luke shook his head after being uppercutted, He then used his psi lance as a distraction. Calling on his thermokinesis again, he shoot fireballs behind Atka and around her - only this time he made sure to spread out the fire so it wasn't as close as it was the last time. Alright she didn't put my last batch of fire out since she jumped over my shockwave. Just need to keep spreading my fire out. I’m going to have to come up with another plan soon this is not looking good.

This time, Atka didn’t immediately make a move to exit the fire. Instead, she lifted a hand - creating a watery mindfray helix that seemed to be shrouded in a light mist. When it hit Luke, the attack did not cause his vision to blur or outright hamper his psionic abilities. Instead, it made him anxious, increasing the possibility that he might make a mistake, and opening him up to further psionic assault.

Luke felt his head throbbing just like last time, Luke immediately realized that the Commander used her mindfray on him. Dammit, I thought I had an upper hand on her. Damn! I don’t have time to waste. Luke seized control the fire he created earlier, and made a what looked to be a circle of fire around Atka. Luke then closed the circle. hoping that the Commander will at least panic as the fire threatened to burn her. Please don’t die here Commander, the moment I hear one scream I’m stopping this.


Well-Known Member
In contrast to what Luke was expecting, Atka remained as cool as a winter breeze. She encapsulated herself in Blue World as the flames approached. I don’t have the output to match his temperature alteration… but I don’t necessarily need to, as long as I keep the worst of the heat away from me. “Have you ever heard of the ‘Snowball Earth’ theory, Van Dam?” Atka questioned. “I read about it once in a discarded shanty magazine. Apparently, Earth at one point froze over…” A familiar cold aura surrounded Blue World. As Atka had thought, she couldn’t extinguish the sphere of fire surrounding her. What she could do, on the other hand, involved playing keep-away. The flames were kept at bay by an intense cold surrounding the Commander, turning a continually-renewing defensive field into billowing smoke as ice was evaporated into water at a rapid pace.

It was enough for Atka to charge through the flames, nearing strike range with Luke again. “It’s futile,” Atka informed him, reaching out with her hand - and simultaneously Blue World’s - to grab him by the front of his shirt, and flip him onto the ground on his back.

As Luke laid on his back, he thought about what to do next. Surender went through his head, as well as what else he could do as the Commander’s Reflection was on top of him. Luke lifted his hands at the Reflection, while his arms had fire around him and his eyes glew red. “Die, you Reflection!” Luke used a combination of his firecracker, and his thermokinesis to attack the thoughtform. However, as he built up that energy, Blue World moved faster. Three strikes made it through, interrupting Luke’s attack and causing him to collapse in agony.

“Still haven’t learned to accept defeat, I see,” Atka muttered, dismissing her Reflection. “Knocking you onto your back was a finishing move, Van Dam. If I had wanted to, I could have had Blue World rush you into unconsciousness when it was in range of you. I didn’t want to risk hurting you, however, so I thought putting you into a prone position would communicate the point. I suppose not.”

Luke grabbed his sides. “Dammit, and here I thought I would finally at least get one hit on you. I still have work to do I see.” Luke stayed on the ground for a little bit longer, then he slowly got to his feet.

“I’ll always be here when enough time has passed for a rematch. But remember… not every foe can be beaten on your own. That’s what a team is for.” Atka dusted off her gloves.

“I’m starting to come to terms with that.” Luke sighed and looked at Atka. “Commander, can I ask you something, what do I have to do to get promoted? Do I have to work with others better, do I need some leadership skills do I need to somehow get stronger? What do I have to do?” Luke put his down where he was looking on the ground.

“Well, for starters, don’t ask for one. I don’t promote people because I think they’re strong, or because I like them better than others. That’s not what being an officer is about.” The Commander shook her head. “Being a leader mean being responsible for the lives of others. It’s a burden, not something you should be striving for. It’s not something you should seek as affirmation. Only you can truly know yourself, and take pride in yourself.”

“So it will never happen then? I’m trying, Commander. I’m trying to be a team player. But let’s be honest, with what I’m capable of I’m better on my own. But I’m trying, I do care for the others and I will do what I can to help them. It’s just I don’t know what to do to get better, maybe I’m just not leader material.”

“Not everyone is suited to lead others. Striving to work better amongst others is more important than a title in front of your name. That’s a fact,” Atka stipulated. She chuckled. “And you’re wrong about being better off on your own. Remind me of how you were just beaten? You’re all offense, that’s what red psionics are best at. You need a green like Alexis backing you up to keep you from being torn apart by an opponent that matches your destructive power whilst having defenses of their own. That sort of mentality is why I’ve seen you as better suited to be led, rather than lead.”

“Heh… yeah, I always was better at attacking than leading. Still dosen’t mean I wouldn't like the chance to be a rank higher than the newcomers.”

Atka frowned. “And this is why you are looking at it the wrong way. It wounds your pride, doesn’t it? Let me make something clear, then. It doesn’t matter. If it damages your ego that you don’t outrank our newer recruits, that’s your problem. Not mine.” Atka thrust an arm out to the side. “You know what the real issue is? Freeing Earth from alien control. Glory is a welcome bonus of fighting for freedom. Not the objective. The rank in front of your name on the roster, compared to that, is utterly meaningless. You need to recognize it as such.”

“I understand, Commander, and I will do everything to free my home. God knows I have plenty of reason to want to free my planet, but I still have a lot to learn. I just conquered my inner demon so I can become better at becoming a more team player, and I have been going to the guerilla training school more just to learn more tactics and how to be a leader so it’s not like I’m trying. It’s just a little more work then I thought, but I’m still trying.”

The Commander turned. “I’ve said my peace. My point stands, and as I said before, I certainly don’t promote people that request it. That’s not how that works, and that’s all I have left to say.” With that, Atka departed, going to retrieve her drink.

Luke turned around, and looked at his surroundings. He then took a deep breath and exhaled. “I wasn't asking for a promotion, I wanted to know why I’m not promoted. Now I know. Well I still have work to do I guess, better get started.” Instead of Luke going back to the Avenger, he decided to take a walk around the area to clear his head and see what new ways he can use his powers.


Game Master
Staff member
Dahlexpert & ZombieSplitter53
Like a Mother

Onboard the Avenger

Emile stood in front of Joe and Veronica's room, pacing back and forth, wondering if he should knock on the door.

Come on, you haven't seen her in years. I mean, she's practically your second mother, right?

"I know, but how do I put this? She's... very annoying."

Well you have me, so you should be used to it. Just knock on the door and say hi.

Emile sighed and knocked on the door. "Veronica? It's Emile. Are you there?"

"E... Emile?" The door slowly opened, and Veronica peaked out of it. "Is... is that really you?"

"Yeah it's me. I's been awhile. How are you?"

Vicky quickly rushed out of the room, and hugged him tightly. "Emile!"

Emile's eyes widened, it being the first time someone had hugged him like this. Emile hesitated, but he slowly hugged Veronica back. "It's good to see you again. I'm not sure how to deal with reunions."

"That's okay. Oh Emile..." Vicky sniffled, tears on the edge of flowing out. "I was so worried about you after you left."

"Oh, come on now, I did have military type training before you found me. But it's nice to hear you were worried about me. Didn't think anyone cared."

Veronica pulled back, looking a bit wounded. "Now why would you think that? You know you were the closest thing to a son I ever had. Why wouldn't I care about such a good, strong, noble boy?"

"I'm not as noble as you think." Emile rubbed his head." I'm... I'm just glad to see you again. I was worried that after I left, the aliens found you and the doc."

"Well, they almost did a couple of times," Vicky admitted. "Heaven knows they would have found me if I had been by myself. I'm more surprised they didn't find you. You're not the most subtle person in the world. I hope you got that reckless streak you had as a kid out of your system."

Emile chuckled ."It's been a while since I've been' reckless, or remember being like that. I have worked on it. I've was a loner for a few years until the resistance found me."

Veronica folded her arms and slowly walked around the man. "Let me look at you. You all here? Didn't lose anything important over the years, did you?"

"My arm that you and the doc gave me is still attached. Other then my lack of empathy, I'm fine."

A small pink A.I appeared on Emile solder. Though he did gain a lovely A.I that is helping him find his humanity again.

"Oh, my... how cute!" Vicky giggled. "Though it doesn't really fit with the tough guy exterior, huh?"

Oh, he's grown to accept me, isn't that right partner?

"That's debatable, but you have your uses." Emile smiled at the A.I to insure her he was joking.

"So adorable. Come..." Vicky grabbed the man's hand and pulled him along. "There is something I enjoy that we could never do together because of your age or because we were too busy."

"Why am I getting a bad feeling about this? What are you talking about anyway?"

Veronica laughed. "Nothing naughty that might be going through that brain of yours. I want to share a drink!"

Emile's face turned beet red." I was not thinking of anything perverted!"

Yes, he was.

"Boys will be boys. Come on!" She led the young man to bar, taking a seat at the bar itself. "So what do you drink. Pleeeeease tell me you drink, at least a little."

"Yes, I drink. I'll take a beer if you don't mind." Emile motioned the bartender, who gave Emile a beer.

"Beer huh? How boring," Vicky mumbled. "Gimme a tequila sunrise and a shot of vodka!" She glanced at the man with her. "What? It's five o'clock somewhere..."

Emile shook his head at Veronica. "Well, unlike you, I have to train after this, as well as a few other things."

"All work and no play makes Emile a dull boy," Vicky countered with. When the drinks arrived, she said, "So what exactly happened after you left?"

"Heh, what didn't happen? After I left, I became a traveling bodyguard, offering my service for supplies. I then witnessed ADVENT's strength. I saw them wipe out settlement after settlement. Each time I was reminded of my home being attacked. After I don't know how many attacks, I just gave up. I stopped protecting them. I didn't care anymore. So I turned to a scavenger and started hitting ADVENT patrols. After that, the resistance found me. And now I'm here."

"Oh... I'm sorry to hear that even such a strong willed man's determination could be crushed by their ruthlessness." Vicky downed her shot. "But... you did what you could for those settlements, right? That's something to be proud of."

"Yeah, well, I guess it counts for something."

You guess!? Nut appeared in front of Emile on the table. You tried to help those people, you did everything you could to help. You did more then a typical hired gun would do.

"That's right," Veronica agreed. "Too many people here spend so much time focusing on what they didn't do or couldn't do, they forget what they did do. You should be proud that you stuck your neck out and at least tried where lesser men would have never bothered to help."

Emile chuckled and hugged Veronica. "You know, I forgot what having a parent is like. It's a nice feeling."

"I'm happy to hear that." Vicky took a small sip of her drink and stared down at it with a sad smile. "You know... you helped me out to in a way, and I never properly thanked you."

"I'm a soldier. It's my duty to protect civilians, even as a young teen. That's all I'm good for, being a soldier and nothing else." Emile told the bartender to give him a vodka shot.

Veronica nudged his shoulder. "Stop that. That isn't all you're good for, and that isn't even the thing I wanted to thank you for."

"Oh, really? What do you want to thank me for? You shouldn't feel the need to thank me, it's me doing my job."

"Being... something of a child... to me." Vicky looked away in embarrassment. "At the time... I-I thought... that my family was gone. It left a whole in my heart. But having someone to look after... to teach and care for... it meant more to me then you realize."

"Wow, I, um... I didn't think I meant that much to you. Or brought you that much joy. Heh, wish I was a better son though."

Veronica looked back at him. "You were a fine son. I understood things were hard for you. That you had your struggles. But you were there, and you were respectful where it counted."

"Heh, thanks, I... I really needed to hear those things. You know, after I left, I became colder. I gave up on my humanity because I thought there was no use in trying to stop ADVENT. I attacked small groups of them, but it was for supply only."

Vicky nodded in understanding. "And what about now? Have you got any of that humanity back?"

It's a work in progress, I'm slowly helping him talk to more people. Heck, a few weeks ago, he kissed a girl, though she did say she's not interested.

Emile looked down at his A.I " Will you shut up."

"Oh?" Vicky's eyes gleaned with curiosity. "What girl? Do I know her? And how can she say she's not interested in such a handsome face?"

"Her name is Anna, and she just wasn't interested. Not that I mind. I would make a terrible boyfriend."

Veronica scooted her seat closer, downing the rest of her drink. "Do tell, Mr. Negativity. Why are you so hard on yourself? What would make you a bad boyfriend?"

"I'm not good at talking with others. I'm not romantic. I barley considered myself human until recently. Point is, I don't know how to be anything but a soldier." Emile downed the rest of his drink and asked for another.

Vicky motioned for one of her own and laid her head against his shoulder. "Oh, Emile. You don't deserve these feelings." She sighed. "What you need... is more friends to make you feel better. I mean... what are we really? We are what we think we are to an extent. But just as important is what we are when other acknowledge our existence. And if you had more friends to acknowledge you're a better person then you think, maybe you'll start to believe it yourself."

She's right. I mean, you have Tom and that's it. Tom is a good guy and all, but having more people care about you will help.

"Hmm, I don't know. It's hard for me to trust others. I trust them to get me through a fight but I'm not sure about having relationships with other people and getting that close with them."

Veronica placed her hand against her cheek. "What about... me? Am I your friend?"

"Heh, you're more of a motherly figure then a friend, but you're still a friend I guess."

Vicky laughed. "I'll take that as a double compliment. Um... what about my daughters? You could be their friend."

"I don't talk to them much. Hell, they probably don't remember me."

Well what about Luke? You talked to him and fought along side him a few times.

Look, I'm working on it alright? I'm trying to make friends alright, so give me some credit."

Veronica nodded. "No problem. Good job. And... I'm proud of you, Emile. I want you to know that."

Emile slowly started to smile, and chuckled at what Veronica said. "Thank you, I really needed to hear that mom. Well, step-mom.

Veronica nodded. "Any time." She took a big swig of her drink. "Emile... just one question for you; what are your plans for after the war?"

"Heh, that's the question of the day huh? I honestly don't know. I don't know how to be a farmer, and most of the settlements will have better technology when this is over. Honestly, I don't know what to do. All I've ever known was this war. Without it, I lose my purpose."

Veronica shrugged. "You said you know Lilitih Van Dam, right?"
Last edited:


Game Master
Staff member
"I know of her. Why?"

"Well, my husband suggested she use her talents after the war to help with the upheaval. There will be bandits. There will be riots. There will be need people to help maintain order with the transition. Why don't you do the same?"

Emile and Nut looked at each other. "It could be a good way to keep us occupied, and I'm sure there will be plenty of people against to the Elders dying off."

Annnd, if we're lucky, we can find you a good mate, if they're out there.

Veronica pointed at Nut. "I like the way you think. Give it a try, Emile. If nothing else, it will occupy you while you look for something else."

"Heh yeah, thanks mom." Emile finished his drink, and stood up. " Well mom, I'm out. Thanks for the talk."

Vicky quickly stood up and have him a tight hug. "Don't be a stranger. Next time, we'll drink until we're smash and passed out on the floor."

Have I mentioned I love this woman? It's great to see you, Veronica.

"Right, and when I out drink you, I don't want to hear any complaining." Emile hugged Veronica back, and left the bar.


Well-Known Member
XCOM Mission Parameters

Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia
1200 hours, February 9th , 2039
Eliminate the Watcher of Australia, Data Aquisition

XCOM Forces

Menace 1-5
LT Matthew Lester [Specialist]
SGT Samuel Yokolov [Aerotrooper]
CPL Marx Tvarnov [Ranger]
SQ Arthur Wei [Phantom]
SQ Alan Lazarus [Ambusher]
SQ Anna Stone [Ambusher]

SQ Samara Vermaak [Juggernaut]
SQ Samson Johnson [Harrier]
SPARK-002 “Lucifer”

Taxor the First and Frostlich1228: Operation Shimmering Discord, Part 1

“I don’t need a fuckin’ nickname,” Samson responded, folding his arms. “What’s wrong with my normal name?”

“Allow me to demonstrate,” Alan answered. “Oi! Sam!” Both Samara and Samuel, previously lost in their own thoughts, looked up. “See?”

The three Sams glared at each other before the Harrier sighed. “Alright fine, you got a point,” he admitted. “The fuck you gonna call me though?”

“Aside from ‘dickhead’?” The Ambusher shrugged. “Well, certain members of our squad were thinking something like ‘King’.”

“Certain members?”

“Don’t make me say it.”

Samson thought for a moment. “Ah. Well, if she thought that would be a good one, who am I to say no?”

“Samson huh?” Anna confirmed, “Like the bible? Slayer would fit quite well, there is a certain ring to it, an edge.”

Samson laughed. “Maybe… if my head had more than two or three hairs on it,” he said, running a hand over a hairstyle so close cut it ran the risk of being bald. “Don’t mind it though. Guy was strong as fuck, am I right?”

Marx leaned back in his seat, getting into the conversation. “What about ‘Close Shave’?” He said half seriously.

“Man, now you just makin’ fun of me.”

Samuel had gone back to hanging his head. Curious, Lester elbowed him. “Are you ok?” he asked.

The Russian started. “Huh? What? We there yet?”

“... were you having a nap?” the Specialist asked incredulously.

A yawn. “So what if I was?” Samuel asked. “I’ve been exhausted over the past week. Not getting as much sleep as I’d like. Just catching up now.”

“Maybe you should have stayed back with Bonnie,” Samara suggested. “Just sit on the Skyranger until we’re done.”

“And let you have all the fun?” He scoffed. “No way. Squad Vodka will be strong today, right you two?”

“Who picked that name exactly?” The Ranger questioned, raising an eyebrow. “We don’t all like Vodka.”

“I like tea.” His cousin chimed in.

“Neither does he,” Alan answered, jabbing a finger in Samuel’s direction. “And… well, it was a collective effort.”

“‘Collective’ meaning ‘not including me’,” the Aerotrooper noted.

“You were too busy sleeping off your sleeping with,” Bandit chuckled. “We might need to hold an intervention at this rate. Stacie’s doing you more harm than good.”

A sleepy “Bugger off.”

Looking over to Samuel, the ‘witch’ smiled, “I’ve seen some stuff about you, it’s good to meet you.”

“Eh?” Samuel rubbed the back of his neck. “What, you mean like wanted posters or something?”

“Well… In my dreams…” She replied, regretting mentioning it. “Don’t worry about it.”

“In your-” The Aerotrooper tilted his head. “Uh… o-ok. Can’t say I’ve been greeted like that before. Mostly when a woman dreams about me, they do it after we’ve actually met.”

Arthur shook his head. “I don’t think that’s the kind of dream she meant,” he explained.

“I’m just a… unique woman, I guess.” The Russian Ambusher stated.

Any further conversation was ended as the Skyranger reached it’s location - some way away from their target destination. Boots (and a set of giant metal legs in Lucifer’s case) hit the ground outside, the squad finding themselves next to a body of water. A large metal bridge, shaped in an arch, sat rusting above them.

Samuel examined the area with more than mere tactical curiosity. “So this is Sydney, huh?” he asked no one in particular. “Seems a bit more… empty than my father led me to believe.”

“Nobody’s set foot on this continent since the Elders evicted us,” Lester explained, fiddling with the armor at his wrist. “Nobody knows what they’ve been doing here, or if they simply thought it’d be too hard to maintain it all.”

“I think I know what they’ve been doing.” Marx stated pointing towards the Sydney Opera House, now transformed into what seemed to be a gleaming golden fortress. Spotlights from the bottom shone across the arches of the structure, surrounded by a moat of crystal blue water that almost sparkled in the sun. It was anything but inconspicuous with its silver support beams and windows made of what seemed to be crystal. Adorned on the front was the common theater symbol of the twin porcelain masks, one laughing and one crying as it looked down upon them.

There was silence among the squad for a moment. “... the fuck is this?” Samuel asked, bewildered. “Rest of the city looks like a ghost town, and here it looks like the party never stopped.”

“Then consider us party crashers,” Samson said confidently.

“Leave it to the Elders to care only about their own vanity.” Anna gripped her weapon, “We should move.”

The squad moved forth, approaching the fortress of opulence with some caution. Alan cleared his throat. “So, uh… where the hell is the door?"

Lester indicated the ‘end’ of the Opera House, where the base was flattened. “If it’s anything like it was before… whoever it was got their hands on it, the main entrance should be there. Anyone’s guess what the interior looks like, though.”

Looking around under the two masks, there was no indication of any entrance where Lester had indicated. Just a flat, golden wall with an image of a smiling face on it, it’s eyes upturned into crescents. Marx scratched his head, looking over the wall, “There’s nothing here… no door… no anything. Just that smiley face.”

Samuel frowned, and stepped forward, Umbra forming behind him. “Not gonna be smiling when I’m through with it,” he growled. Drawing a fist back, the massive Reflection began beating at the image, but as soon as his first punch connected, it’s fist went through like air as the entire wall faded away, revealing an arched door. “Well… I wasn’t wrong. It’s not smiling now.”

Arthur glanced around. “An illusion? But for what purpose? And by whom?”

Lester merely sighed. “Probably our Watcher. I hate artists.”

Suddenly, speakers hidden somewhere outside began to blare a voice. “Welcome! I’m pleased you could join us, Ihad a hunch you might just be coming for me considering the efficiency with which you’ve been dispatching the rest of my friends and allies. I’m sure you remember Aquatef and Neptune, those two you murdered… But I am not so cruel as that, so please leave.”

Samuel grinned. “Well, since you asked so nicely. Come on fellas, pack it up. Strategy be damned, we were politely asked to leave.” He shook his head. “Really. Add one to the list of ‘Elders who thought commanding us to do something would make us actually do it’.”

Lester rolled his eyes. “Means ‘no’,” he summarised.

The speakers blared once more. “Twas not a command. I said please didn’t I? Although I really didn’t figure that would work. So enter then, and try not to track mud.”

“Finally, a request I can follow,” Alan praised as the squad began to make their way inside. “This… probably means there’s a shitonne of traps, right?”

“Watch out for anything suspicious. Trip wires, trap doors, and so on.” Marx turned his head, his mask shining slightly.

“So anything I would do. Got it.”

Moving into the Opera House, they were first confronted by a giant set of steps that let up to a lobby, slowly moving up it Anna clicked onto an exposed spot in the floor, pressing it down. Suddenly panicking, Anna looked up to the rest of her teammates, “Guys, I think I stepped on something!”

Marx was the first to over, looking for anything that the trap may have triggered, but finding nothing. Arthur resorted to a more in-depth search, attempting to utilize his ESP to locate any changes in the local environment. This too failed to turn up anything. “I see no device that could have been triggered,” he admitted. “It… could be outside my visible range.”

The ‘witch’ slowly lifted her foot off of the platform, this caused a small trapdoor to open up above them, prompting Anna to quickly grapple to safety. However, the only thing that fell out was a number of multicolored confetti and streamers.

Before anyone could properly react the intercom clicked on again. “Please watch your step in the future. That could’ve killed someone, If I had intended it to, that is.”

Samuel scowled. “We’re being toyed with,” he noted quietly. “I hate being the butt of a joke, and I’m getting a similar feeling right now.”

“You’ll get the chance to express your displeasure when we get to her,” Lester said, attempting to calm his second in command. “For now, eyes on the ground too. Next hatch might contain a Chryssalid or something equally vicious.”

Stepping up to the first lobby, the squad could hear the whirring of motors, the ground sliding away to reveal two elevators rising up, but with nothing on them.

Marx grumbled, “This is getting redic-”

Suddenly plasma shots appeared out of thin air, assaulting their position and forcing them to take cover, but not before striking the unprepared Ranger in the arm.


Well-Known Member
Taxor the First and Frostlich1228: Operation Shimmering Discord, Part 2

The squad fired a few shots back in the general direction of the attackers, each seeking their own form of cover, be it behind Samara’s shield or behind one of the pillars lining the stairs. “Who’s carrying the medkit?” Samuel demanded, noticing his fellow Russian’s injury. “Did anybody see where those shots came from?”

A wave of negatives. Alan, activating his Chameleon suit, slunk away from his cover in an attempt to locate the foe. “Still can’t see anything,” he reported, sounding confused. “If I didn’t know better I’d say those beams are appearing out of thin air.”

Arthur considered. “Marx, your injury. I don’t suppose that’s an illusion?”

“If it is, I can’t tell!” He replied honestly, “Though if she can’t fake my armor melting, it’s very real!”

Lester rolled his eyes, tapping a few buttons underneath a flap on his arm’s armor. “Allow me to clear up any confusion,” he stated, the Gremlin floating beside him unleashing a pulse. Although the pulse didn’t actually seem to do anything physical, a few shapes were marked on the squad’s helmets. “Ah, see? Cloaked. Two Zephyrs, a Lancer, and a standard Trooper.”

“Easy pickings then,” Samuel stated, taking aim at one of the shapes and firing. With the squad using their own unexpected maneuver, it caught the Advent trooper as off guard as they had been caught as he stood up. The shots were sent into his chest, leading up to his head and sending the soldier to the afterlife.

Meanwhile, the scanning protocol revealed that one of the Zephyrs was trying to slip behind them by going up and around, but as it realized the detection, it rushed for Marx hoping to surgically slice him a part. Thankfully the ex-farmer’s honed reflexes allowed him dodge narrowly, following up with a blast from his cannon that tore the machine apart.

Now confident enough that he wouldn’t be shot midway through, Arthur charged up the steps, blade drawn. The Stun Lancer was forced to block the first slice with their rifle, which was cloven in two by the blow, and then backpedal until they too had their lance ready. The two danced in this manner for a few seconds, sparks flying off the weapons as they collided. But the Phantom held the upper hand - a psi lance, formed quickly and thus rather weak, was fired at his opponent, forcing them to dodge into his waiting blade. A few stabs later and the Lancer fell, Arthur chuckling to himself at the spectacle.

Which meant all that remained was a single Zephyr, revealed and with nowhere to run. Alan was the one that pursued this kill, firing his electrically charged rifle at the machine and cursing when it darted away. “Oh, come on!”

“He’s probably headed back towards the rest of his allies.” Anna stated, looking over towards Alan.

“Then we stop the prick, don’t we?” was the response, Bandit grinning and running after the machine. Running up the stairs towards the second lobby, he was greeted by the intimidating sight of upwards of ten Mutons staring him down, guns raised.

“Wow… you just ran up there? That wasn’t a good idea.” Quella’entriessis spoke with surprise in her voice.

“Yeah I got that impression!” Alan remarked, examining his options in the brief seconds he had before he was probably gunned down. Aside from running, that was.

Samuel could see his ally above, though exactly what he’d run into was obscured by the lip of the stairs. The more tactical side of his mind would have frowned, ignoring the emotional response of ‘he’s going to die isn’t he’. If I could throw something up there, I might get it to curve over the top. But… what would I throw?

Unseen to him, Umbra had formed. And also unseen to him, it had, for lack of a better word, morphed its form. Arthur had witnessed it grow blurry for a moment, then recombine - smaller, with only two arms, but with tubular structures like cans running up those arms. Sitting atop the bridge of its mask were two lenses, each placed where one would expect its eyes to be like a pair of sunglasses. Otherwise it was largely the same, shadowy titan it had been before.

The Reflection reached to the side, grasping one of the pillars, and wrenching it from the ground. Samuel had half a second to recognize this and the shadow’s plan, before he grinned. “Alan?”


“Duck.” The tubes along Umbra’s arms flicked sideways, allowing it to hold one arm outwards in a way reminiscent of someone looking down a scope. With its free hand it hefted the rock, then catapulted it forward with pinpoint precision. The pillar sailed over the top of Alan’s head, the curvature of gravity then forcing it to barrel right into the middle of the squad of Mutons. It passed right through some of them, revealing them as illusions, though two were caught by the errant support.

As the column connected with the Mutons, they were flung backwards into a nearby wall, splattering blood all over it as they were violently crushed. However, the rest of the Mutons began to lay fire towards Alan and Samuel, unphased by the grisly death of their comrades.

One of the Mutons charged towards Anna, who had moved up to take cover behind this staircase’s set of pillars. Lining up her bolt caster, she fired, passing through the creature’s lower body with a harmless shimmer, but revealing it for what it really was. As the tentacles of the disguised Zephyr from before wrapped its tendrils around her while she was caught off guard by its sudden transformation, Korelyive manifested herself, quickly lopping off the machine’s claws before burying them into its chassis, ceasing its operation.

Samara yanked Alan back from his exposed position with her tractor beam, saving him from his own predicament. “Lester, I don’t suppose you could-”

“When we’re going to fight the person responsible for all this visual trickery?” was the snappy response. “No, I’m not using scanning protocol again. I’d rather like to have some way of countering that later thank you.”

Arthur shook his head. “Lucky for you that we have an alternative,” he muttered, closing his eyes and projecting his senses outward. “The real ones project heat. The fakes do not.”

“If you can just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I’m aiming at one, that’ll do. I don’t need an explanation of what you’re doing,” Samuel huffed, firing a burst at the enemy and clipping one of the illusions in the shoulder. “Oh for fucks sake.”

Upon hearing this, the Mutons and the illusions changed places, making it even harder to tell the real from the fake to anyone except for Arthur, who they quickly fired towards while others locked down Marx. Counting all of them, there were still seven real and fake illusions fighting them, with only the Phantom being able to pick out the three real ones.

“What I wouldn’t give for one of Bonnie’s grenades right about now,” Nemesis muttered. “Samara, cover Arthur, stop him from getting shot up. Lester, come with me, but don’t run. Alan, Anna, harass them. Marx, with me. We’re going to clean this up.”

Instructions given, the Aerotrooper bolted out of cover, using his jetpack to help him ascend the staircase faster and drawing his shotgun. Lester, after working out what Samuel was asking him to do, blinked up to the top, weapon at the ready. Marx quickly pulled out his blade, following behind. Looking through the targets, Marx shouted towards Arthur, “Where are the real ones!?”

“Far left, across two, and one from the right,” Chariot murmured in response. “The rest are fake.”

Samuel and Lester’s combined firepower ended the middle one quickly, but the blast the former sent towards the rightmost target only glanced at such a range. The Muton began retreating, leaving the Aerotrooper to pursue it before it got away. In the meantime, Marx was on his way towards the one of the far left, dodging between blasts. When he reached his target, the Muton slammed the stock of his weapon into Marx’s gut, but that only stopped the ranger for a second as he ripped the gun from the alien’s hands and brought his right hand machete up into the creature’s jaw.

Samuel, after firing a few more blasts at his retreating target, finally cornered them at the back of the second lobby. The large alien registered their path ended here, and made to fire at the now mostly-alone Russian following him. The weapon merely fizzled, requiring a reload. Samuel chuckled. “Sorry buddy,” he said, aiming his shotgun. “But I’ll tell you what. I’m feeling generous today, so I’ll let you live if you show us where your boss is. Try to reload your gun however, and I’ll blast you between the eyes.”

The Muton glanced at him, then back at its rifle, seeming to weigh up the deal in its head. “Don’t you dare,” Samuel warned. “I’ve still got one shot left. Don’t want that going into that thick skull of yours, do you?” At least… I think I do. One, two - yeah no, I should have one left.

Seemingly making up his mind, the Muton charged towards Samuel, reloading his weapon mid run and planning to blast him in the stomach at point blank range. Anna quickly ran up to where he was, getting a eerie sense of deja vu as scenes from her visions of Samuel played out in reality, events were repeating themselves. The violet psion quickly shot out a psi panic into the Muton’s head as it closed in, causing it to grip it’s head in agony before Anna launched a psi insanity through her first violet strand, doubling up and breaking the creature’s mind as it simply fell on the floor, occasionally twitching.


Well-Known Member
Taxor the First and Frostlich1228: Operation Shimmering Discord, Part 3

Samuel raised an eyebrow, turning to her. “I had that.”

Anna panted as she shook her head, “N-No… it’s… you’re… out of ammo.”

“Eh? Don’t be stupid, I’ve still got one shot left. Look.” He cocked the weapon up into the air and pulled the trigger, blinking when the barrel merely fizzled. “Oh. Shit.” He turned back to her. “Well… I guess I owe you a thank you then. Glad you were keeping count when I clearly wasn’t.”

“No… You don’t quite understand… I can see… into other worlds…” She walked up, putting the Muton out of its misery with a quick shot from her bolt caster. “Normally it doesn’t line up like that but… it played out exactly how… you would’ve died there…”

Samuel glanced at the dead alien. “Without your help, probably,” he admitted. “Other worlds? What the hell do you-” He shook his head. “You know what, I’m not going to ask. We’ve got stuff to do, and I get the feeling it’d be a long explanation. I’ll just stick to the ‘thank you for saving my life’ bit for now.”

“You two better not be kissing or something up there,” Alan warned over the communicators. “Might piss someone off.”

“Lay off,” Samuel responded derisively, chuckling. “He’s right though, probably should rejoin them.”

Rejoined the group the intercoms cut on yet again, “You killed them all? Usually I try not to be so… lethal… But I guess that’s simply how it has to be, tis a shame they had to die like that.”

“What the hell else were we gonna fuckin’ do?” Samson demanded. “Invite ‘em out to dinner? Give ‘em a striptease?”

“That sounds lovely… Nothing wrong with putting on a good show.” The Elder said with obvious snark. “Anyways, it is time. Please enter the auditorium and join said show.”

This caused a few members of the squad to exchange glances. “I don’t like the sound of that,” Alan asserted.

The squad chose to stay together, ignoring one of the two staircases they now had access to. According to Lester, they both led to the same location anyway. He was proven correct - the path ended at the far end of the building, in a room that looked out over what used to be known as Sydney Harbour. There were open doors leading into the main part of the Opera House - the auditorium, where before the war many performances had played out. Cautiously, the group of XCOM soldiers entered.

The room was dark, but as soon as the were a few feet in, the stage lights up on, both on the floor and ceiling, all pointed to one place in particular. A single Elder was standing on stage, clad in bright yellow robes with green patterns lining the end of the sleeves and the bottom. It also included spirals of the same color placed haphazardly all over it, giving it an almost cartoonish vibe. To finish the look off was the silver mask, the design of with had a matching inlay on the bottom with eyeholes and a mouth mirroring the symbol they found on the entrance, a bright, happy smiley face.

“Welcome to my showroom!” Quella’entriessis spoke loudly, unusually well for an Elder. “I don’t suppose you all would like to congratulate me preemptively on my promotion?”

Samuel tilted his head. “Promotion?”

“R-Really? You didn’t know? I assumed that was why you came, to stop me before I became an Overseer?” The Ethereal asked, puzzled.

“Doesn’t this continent already have an Overseer?” the Aerotrooper asked, equally puzzled. He turned to Lester. “Wasn’t that part of the reason we came here? To figure out where the hell they were?”

“Do you think I plan to take Cordiam’s place? I’d have to pry it from her cold, dead fingers, and even then I’d think her psionic resonance would give me a hard time from the grave.” Quella stated, “Of another continent surely, or perhaps they will simply move Cordiam… If not, I’ll have to relocate my showroom!”

Silence. “Wait, wait, back up,” Alan said, shaking his head as if struggling to understand a concept. “You want to take the Sydney Opera House - or what remains of it - and dump it somewhere else?”

“Yes, I’m sure one of our crafts would be large enough. The real problem would be location… Any suggestions?” The tall figure spoke into the microphone.

Obviously done with all the games, Marx raised his weapon at her, “How about hell? That sound good?”

“If you could see my eyes, they would be rolling…” she responded, “I understand what you all are doing, but I’m afraid I can’t let you succeed here… The Avatar project must be completed at all costs.... You see, you will do anything to reach your goal, remove anyone in your way… I suppose I am of a similar mind in this regard… And we are fated to battle, our ideals clashing like swords on the stage of destiny.”

“So, I will ask you this once more. Please lay down your arms, if you surrender, you will be judged by me when I become Overseer. I will be lenient, you have my word.” The Elder explained sincerely.

Samuel glanced at the group behind him. “Anyone? No? Damn, shame. Looks like no surrender for you.”

“I have a counter-offer,” Lester stated. “You give us access to whatever data you have. Show us where to find Cordiam. And we will let you live.”

“You see, I’d can’t do that… especially not in front of my friends here…” Quella said, taking in a deep breath. “Ladies and Gentlemen! Elders and Sectoids alike! Please allow me to introduce the stars of our play! The lovely, red hot Ignium’cremetorro! The powerful, hard as stone, Terrash’velesoro!”

Behind the squad, two thumps hit the ground. They belonged to the two Inquisitors that were announced, Terrash’s muddy-green robes gleaming dully as he brandished his hammer. Ignium’s appearance was vastly different, however - rather than the shape of an Elder, his was closer to that of a human. Draped over his shoulder in the manner of an ADVENT Captain was a molten-orange cape, a color echoed in the glow of the mask covering the entirety of his face. Otherwise, his armor was largely identical to a variant Samuel had seen once before.

“And finally… your host, Quella’Entriessis!” The yellow-clad watcher finished, floating down from the stage.

“Another Avatar?” the Aerotrooper asked, suddenly wary. “This day just gets better and better.”

“I found it a necessary step to continue my duties as Inquisitor,” Ignium answered, drawing his cleaver and igniting the edges in fire. “Duties which include the removal of heresy and protecting the proponents of the Path.”

You ‘Elders’ truly are a species of parasites who call themselves gods… Feeding off of all of us like leeches. Koreyive hissed out as she formed.

“Some would call that the natural order,” Ignium responded gruffly.

“The semantics are irrelevant!” Terrash declared. “If you would harm the Watcher, come forth! I will strike you down, if you are too weak to stand against me.”

Samuel examined their battlefield, and the opponents against which they’d be pitted. Alright, here’s the deal, he broadcast mentally. Marx, Samson, we’ll take Terrash. Samara, Anna, Alan, Arthur, you take Ignium. Lester, you and Lucifer try and get that Watcher. Intervene into each other’s fights only if necessary. Otherwise, you’re all on your own.

It was thus the group spread out, moving after their respective targets. Terrash, with a booming laugh, separated his foes from the rest with an arena of rock as he had on the Three Gorges Dam. Ignium was not so restrictive, instead merely launching a few volleys of fire as his opponents approached. Lester, along with Lucifer, moved towards the stage, hunting for the currently invisible Quella.

Marx gripped his blades tightly as he faced off against Terrash, looking confidently up at him. “I’ve been looking forward to this fight.”

The Inquisitor of Earth adjusted his grip on his warhammer. “Oh, another fan? And one of the same class as the last, too.” A flick of the hand, and a section of the floor tore itself away, a roughly human-sized boulder of concrete resulting. “Hopefully you will prove just as fun to fight!” With the poise of a golfer, Terrash smacked the floating rock with his hammer, sending it careening towards the Ranger.

Marx quickly punched his arms forwards, then wrenched them to the side, causing the boulder to fly around the psion and right back towards Terrash. “I intend to.”

With an almost gleeful laugh, the Inquisitor smashed the projectile midair. “And a terrakinetic! Oh, this will be entertaining indeed!”

Samuel rocketed upwards, a cocky grin appearing beneath his visor. “Hey, what about me? Don’t go focusing on-”

With barely a scoff, Terrash made a gripping motion in the Aerotrooper’s direction. This was then followed by the hand dropping, a movement soon echoed by Samuel himself. “Fight honorably or do not fight at all,” the Inquisitor of Earth sneered. “I will be more than happy to get to you when you cease trying to escape your fate on fake wings.”

“Let’s do this then.” The Russian Ranger cracked his neck, raking his hands down and assaulting his opponent with two large alloy pillars from the ceiling above.

Two boulders, chipped off the side of the arena, were enough to throw the pillars off course. Using the dust and rubble they threw up on landing as a smokescreen, Terrash leaped forward, hammer swinging towards first Marx, then the recovering Samuel. The farmer responded by pulling one of the walls of the stone arena towards him to block the attack, then pushing it into his attacker. The Inquisitor altered his trajectory in response, which while precluding him from attacking further did prevent Umbra’s retaliatory swing from reaching him. Samson’s attempt to shoot the Elder midway through with his shredstorm similarly failed as a result, the pellets and plasma burying themselves deep into the stone instead of Terrash’s body.


Well-Known Member
Taxor the First and Frostlich1228: Operation Shimmering Discord, Part 4

“Are we just going to keep flinging rocks at each other until one of us gets somewhere?” Samuel demanded, noting his Reflection had reverted to it’s usual massive four-armed form. “Is that how a fight between terrakinetics works?”

“Apparently!” Marx gritted, pulling the chunk of wall back and blasting out a small hole it in which he used to fire his cannon out of.

Terrash, spotting the hole and working out the intent in time, raised the earth in front of him to provide cover. “Guns?” he asked. “Ha! The weapon of a coward.”

“Is that so?” Marx grumbled as he ran out of ammo, “Fine then.” He quickly pulled out his twin machetes, dropping his weapon on the floor as he launched himself over the wall with a stone pillar, intent on bringing them down into Terrash’s skull.

“That’s more like it!” the Inquisitor of Earth thundered, dodging sideways and smacking the pillar hard enough to crack it. “Yes, this is the kind of battle I seek!” He twirled his hammer with one hand, a few rotations that resulted in his holding it upside down. With a chuckle, he beckoned. “Come then. Do your worst!”

Through one of the holes in the arena however, a burst of fire shot between them. Across the way, Ignium frowned internally. The Phantom had escaped the blast by mere inches. “Once again you escape death at my hand,” the Inquisitor of Fire murmured. “Whether that is due to luck or skill remains to be seen.”

Arthur brandished his blade. “Likely a combination of the two,” he admitted readily, pacing sideways back to Samara, who had planted her shield on the ground over an unconscious Alan and was not budging.

Ignium glared at them. “You intend to escape the inferno behind that piece of metal?” he asked, almost incredulous.

“Try it,” Samara taunted. “Come on then.”

Snarling, the Inquisitor raised his cleaver, the fat point of which pointed in the direction of the Juggernaut. From the tip spewed a fountain of fire, the flames licking the shield and heating it. Samara could already feel the weight of the object shifting, as parts of it began the process of melting. “Anna, some help!”

“On it!” The ‘witch’ yelled, grappling towards one of the balconies above, using the elevated position to fire on Ignium with her bolt caster.

The Inquisitor was forced to abandon his torching to block the attack, doing so by raising the flat end of his blade and using it as a makeshift shield. ‘Now you have my attention,” he murmured, jumping off the ground and using telekinesis to elevate him to the Ambusher’s perch. “You will regret that mistake,” he warned, slowly walking towards her.

Quickly backpedaling, Anna kept firing shots from her main weapon, before suddenly sending out a psi insanity towards the Elder, hoping to slow him down. A strong will forced the attack to peter out however, and the hybrid continued his approach. “You’ve put yourself in this position,” he pointed out, gathering a ball of fire in one hand and slinging it towards her. “Your only way out is down. Or you could stand and fight.”

“I think up might just still be an option!” Anna said, grappling to the roof again and using the cord to swing herself over towards the Ethereal, revealing Korelyive and hoping to drain him dry. Ignium was surprised by the appearance of the ghostly insect, though not enough to paralyze him. Raising his cleaver blocked several attempts to puncture him, the Reflection’s claws scrabbling off the metal. Anna riposted by grabbing his blade and pulling herself over it, giving Korelyive a clear shot at the Elder’s head.

An Elder was finally within her reach, causing Anna’s desire for revenge to swell and fill her reflection with power. Korelyive’s mandibles snapped apart, her jaw almost detaching into what appeared to be a sickening attempt at a smile. The Chryssalid queen’s lower body split in twain, revealing a twisted spinal cord as her chest began to separate into jagged ribs. The twisted reflection reached through the Elder’s chest, grasping at the monster’s soul as she laughed insanely, her voice becoming almost statically charged. Yes! Yes! You are mine! Mine!

What manner of creature is this?! the Inquisitor demanded, psionic energy crackling across his limbs. Unhand me! The pulse of soulfire ripped forth in an ever-growing sphere around Ignium, a desperate attempt to dislodge Korelyive. To both Anna and her Reflection’s surprise, this sent a cracking force through the Chryssalid’s limbs, causing them to violently dissipate as Korelyive was shredded apart by the blast sending Anna flying into some nearby chairs.

The ex-prisoner gripped her head in pain, “W-What… b-but… how?!”

Ignium grasped the side of his head, trying to dismiss the dull ache there. Slowly, he turned his gaze to Anna, still thinking logically enough to notice she was largely incapacitated. “I know not what you just tried,” he admitted, stalking forward and raising his cleaver. “But I don’t want to find out!”

The downward swing was interrupted by another blade, this one pushing upwards and forcing the Inquisitor to defend himself. Arthur pressed his attack, sending a flurry of slices Ignium’s way. “Anna, are you alright?” he asked, blocking the Avatar’s attempt to retaliate.

“H-He… overloaded my Reflection… Korelyive…” She explained, standing up but falling back into yet another chair, but instead, she found it was squishy and slimy. Looking up the woman found herself leaning against a towering faceless, standing over her as it raised its claws for attack.

With a curse, the Phantom fired a distracting psi lance at his opponent before disengaging and blasting the flesh-colored goop in what he assumed was its chest with his shotgun. “You need to get up,” he urged, turning back in time to dodge Ignium’s downward swing. “Before you get yourself or one of us killed, get up!”

Anna quickly rolled to her feet, and, upon seeing that the shot had merely passed through the Faceless, followed up by blasting it’s head off with her weapon. The creature’s body melted as it’s nervous system was destroyed and Anna found her way into cover behind one of the rows of seats.

Crashing through the door that led to the balcony from outside was Samara, not able to simply jump up with telekinesis as Arthur had. A few warning shots at Ignium forced the Inquisitor to backpedal, far enough that he fell off the edge of the platform. “... you’re kidding me,” the Juggernaut muttered. “Just when I get up here…”

Ignium found himself stopped mid fall, however, by a projected yellow force field courtesy of Quella. “You should really watch your step Ignium!”

The Inquisitor slid off the force field, grumbling to himself. “I was intending to land on my feet,” he noted, waiting for his foes to jump down to him again. “You do not require our assistance yet?”

“No, I believe I have these two handled.” She replied looking over to Lester and the mech, the robot currently pinned against the wall by a forcefield.

“I’m afraid in my current position I cannot be of much use to you,” Lucifer stated pleasantly. “In fact, I am finding it quite difficult to move my limbs in any capacity.”

Lester grumbled, turning to the Watcher. “I don’t suppose asking you to let him go would be something you’d comply with?”

“Mmmn… okay.” She answered, letting him falling into a few scattered chairs, which turned out to be four more hidden faceless. “Just makes it easier to do this anyway.” The yellow-clad Elder raised her hand towards Lester, causing his vision to split into double, then triple, overlapping images.

The Specialist blinked his eyes, attempting to make sense of what he was seeing. Trying to aim his weapon did him little good - the disorienting effect of seeing several versions was enough to throw his aim off, and the shot went harmlessly into a wall. “I… Lucifer, I need your help for this.”

The devil however was having difficulties untangling itself from the Faceless. A barrage from its cannon melted one, but the remaining three latched onto the robot’s chassis, restricting movement further. “I may need to request you help me first,” Lucifer admitted.

“I’m in no position to-” Lester scowled, shaking his head and moving towards what he assumed was his restricted ally.

“Having a little trouble there?” Quella asked, giggling a little at his stumbled movement.

“You are just as bad as Alan,” the Specialist muttered, cocking his shotgun and firing in the general direction of his AI partner.

Lucifer was not pleased with the action. “Master Lester, why are you shooting at me?” the devil asked, confused. “Did I do something wrong?”

“I’m trying to get those Faceless off you!”

“Well, you completely missed.”

“Oh for-”

“Can I keep him after you have all been properly subdued?” She smiled under her mask, “Oh why am I even asking. Don’t worry, just keep going straight, I’m sure you’ll get there.”

Lester seethed, attempting to reload his shotgun and dropping the ammo in the process. “This is intolerable!” he complained.


Well-Known Member
Taxor the First and Frostlich1228: Operation Shimmering Discord, Part 5

“Place your hand on the ground.” Lucifer instructed.


“I am attempting to guide you to your ammo,” the devil said calmly. “Place your hand on the ground.” With a sigh, the Specialist complied. “Now, left. Left. Too far, right again.”

Triumphantly, Lester grabbed the cartridge. Almost dropping it again, he fumbled with his weapon. “Now what?” he demanded.

Lucifer was silent for a moment before his chassis slumped, engaging shutdown. The Faceless bogging him down, seeming to register their target was no longer operational, slid off. One began making its way to Lester, intent on removing him from the equation too, confident that a foe demonstrating such ineptitude would be unable to retaliate.

Hence the creature’s surprise when, with as much precision as one can muster with a shotgun, it was blasted directly in the face it lacked. The living sludge stumbled and, to Lester’s eyes, fell over several times, dissolving into simple goop.

You-! I liked him!” she said, throwing up a forcefield around the barrel of his gun, aiming at preventing him for firing. This action, however, reduced the severity of Lester’s scrambled vision, making it clear that she couldn’t hold both up at max effectiveness.

Lucifer rebooted, having briefly transferred into Lester’s armor to provide him a chance at shooting straight, and took half a second to get its bearings. Another Faceless was gunned down, leaving only one of the sludge monsters left. Lester’s attempt to kill it failed miserably thanks to the forcefield over his weapon, and the fact that he would have missed completely in any case.

His AI partner was, however, unaffected by either of these issues. Choosing to ignore the remaining Faceless for now, the robot unleashed a barrage of weapon fire in the direction of the Watcher.

Surprised, Quella quickly threw up a forcefield to block it, diverting power from the one on the previously disabled gun. Starting to get used to the alterations to his sight, Lester grimaced and attempted something that in hindsight would likely be considered rather stupid. He blinked forward, so that he was now quite close to the Watcher, albeit on the other side compared to his AI partner. His first shot missed, losing him the element of surprise.

“Look, you can keep juggling shields and illusions and eventually tire yourself out, or you can just surrender!” Lester exclaimed hotly, evidently fed up. “It’s really not that difficult!”

“I can do more you frustrating little man!” She said, reaching out to grab him by the shoulders, her arms sparking with bright blue lightning.

Lester stumbled backwards, briefly carrying him out of her range. Lacking any other option, Lucifer swatted the Faceless away, and fired once again at the woman chasing his master. “Cease and desist,” the AI requested.

The shot was intercepted however by a massive boulder, thrown towards their direction by Marx, still fighting Terrash with the stone arena crumbling around them. “Fuck… missed…” He panted out, clearly exhausted as he charged towards the terrakinetic Ethereal again, much like a rampaging bull.

“I appreciate your bravery at least!” the Inquisitor shouted, raising his hammer. “If not your intelligence.” He slammed the hammer on the floor, transferring the shockwave he’d been charging in his hands through it to the ground. The wave shot outwards, at a pace that would be difficult if not impossible to dodge correctly given the Ranger’s proximity.

The shockwave connected, blasting Marx backwards and into one of the walls, almost certainly breaking a number of ribs. The ranger shook his head however, unaffected by the pain as he transformed the remainder of the wall into a stone hammer of his own, not significantly smaller than Terrash’s own. He gripped it in his fists, blasting a similar shock wave back towards its sender, although much weaker in raw power, his fatigue clearly showing.

The Inquisitor’s response was to punch up the ground beneath himself, sending him flying into the air. Though this didn’t quite protect him from the shockwave - it still briefly incapacitated him in terms of combating his enemies - it did prevent either Samson or Marx from attacking him.

Against Samuel, however, he had no defense. The Russian appeared right next to him in the sky, grinning widely beneath his helmet. “Should stick to where you’ve got control!” Nemesis barked as Umbra slammed a fist down, effectively causing Terrash to fall somewhat faster than he would have had gravity been the only force involved.

The Inquisitor’s landing was undignified, and when he rose it was clear he was in pain from some internal injury or other. “Outmaneuvered,” he admitted, chuckling and wiping the side of his mask. A small amount of violet came away, which Terrash wiped on his robes with some disgust. “You aren’t the only ones with allies, however.”

A green glow suddenly enveloped Terrash, quickly repairing any damage that had been done by Samuel’s attack. Turning to locate the source, Marx saw Quella defending against Lester with a forcefield as she healed her companion, clearly showing some panic. However, that wasn’t all she did as the image of the Inquisitor of Earth’s weapon faded from the two Russian men’s view.

“Now, I don’t usually resort to range,” Terrash noted, opening all of his hands. There was no clatter, indicating his hammer was being suspended via magno- or telekinesis. “But this is a… what do you humans call it? A golden opportunity.”

Umbra retreated until it enveloped Samuel in its torso, thus hopefully preventing him from being attacked. Samson and Marx, however, did not have this defense. “Watch for anything strange,” the Aerotrooper warned. “You feel a breath on the back of your neck, you fucking roll out of the way.”

After a second passed, Marx felt just the sensation, dodging towards the left and hoping to avoid whatever was coming his way. But Terrash’s magnokinesis was precise - the invisible hammer lopped sideways, knocking the Ranger directly on the head and knocking him out.

Samson stood over him, intending to be a meat shield if necessary. “Samuel, you wanna get this guy or what? You waitin’ for an invitation?”


Well-Known Member
Taxor the First and Frostlich1228: Operation Shimmering Discord, Part 6

Half a second later, the boulder Terrash had been concealed behind was wrenched sideways, the reason revealed as Umbra drew back a fist. The Inquisitor of Earth was able to replace the boulder in front of him, thus preventing the Reflection’s full force from striking him. But the blow still connected, sending him reeling. “No,” Samuel responded glibly. “Just looking for the prick.”

A battering on Umbra’s back revealed the position of Terrash’s hammer, though the shadowy titan being at near full-strength still meant the blows were largely ineffective. Samuel responded by opening fire with his rifle, though his shots glanced off a hastily-erected shield before his target.

After putting up said shield, Quella’s psionics were finally at their limit, causing the barrier she was using to keep Lester at bay to falter and allowing shots to pass through into her side. The Elder gasped, her mask juxtaposed to the true expression on her face. The injured Elder dropped everything she had previously been holding up, transferring it into a desperate cloak to cover her exit.

“Nice try,” Lester said, pressing a few buttons under the flap on his armor. “But not enough I’m afraid.” The Gremlin floating at his side emitted a pulse, searching for any hidden entities nearby and revealing the fleeing Watcher.

Ignium, seeing what was about to happen, scowled. Terrash! he called. The battle is lost here. We need to get out.

For a moment it seemed that the Inquisitor of Earth was about to retort something, but instead a weary sigh was conveyed. Very well, he said at last. Prepare yourself. Rather abruptly to the humans attempting to kill them, the two Inquisitors dropped through chasms opening beneath their feet, disappearing into the ground below.

Samson groaned. “Fuck me man, again?”

Lucifer wasn’t paying attention to them, however. The AI had another target in his sights. “Final warning. You have five seconds to comply with our demands or I will open fire. Five.”

Lester blinked in front of the retreating Quella, cutting off her escape. “Four.”

Samuel rocketed up into the sky, aiming his rifle at her. “Three-”

Under the mask, they could hear what sounded like the Elder crying. “They left me… Those backstabbers… even after I put myself at risk to save them.” Turning to face them, struggling to remain standing, Quella nodded. “I’ll tell you whatever you want to know… after your recent victories against my brethren, I figured if you got this far, I wouldn’t be able to stop you… but I had to fight…”


“Lucifer!” Lester snapped, waving a hand. “Enough. I think we’ve got ourselves a surrender.”

Samuel hesitated. “... so don’t shoot the tall alien?”

“Not unless you want to be court-martialed and probably thrown out the airlock when we get back,” the Specialist responded, evidently miffed. “Now then, I assume you know what you’re getting into? Just because you’re complying now doesn’t mean you get to walk free after this. I’ll be surprised if you’re not locked up in some way shape or form. Clear?”

“Clear…” She said somberly. “I know I am not in a position to make demands of anything but… may I ask one thing of you?”

Advocate glanced at the rest of the squad, who were approaching with weapons still raised. “... fine,” he said at last. “Though I can’t guarantee we’ll do it.”

“I do not like killing… I never have… and yet, I saw my kind kill so many in the name of the path. It is a rare thing for a strategist to have zero confirmed enemy deaths.” She explained, “I suppose that is why they put me here on this secluded continent. Even when I framed it under the guise of a self-imposed challenge, they still had their suspicions I presume.”

“But I stayed the path, because I heard rumors of an Avatar project, which you have seen today. To take the body of an Ethereal and transfer it into a healthy one.” She slowly took off her mask, looking it over before them. “My sister… she has a much more aggressive form of my kind’s typical muscular degeneration. I’ve been taking care of her, I made it this far for her. I hoped this promotion would give me the power to help her permanently, but it appears they cared little for me, even after everything.”

“Could you please send her to Shen’lutusus? Ask him to watch her for me? I am aware he is aiding you now.” Quella’Entriessis asked sincerely. “He’s an old friend. It he refuses however, then such as it is. That is all I ask.”

“I’m going to assume that won’t take us raiding another facility,” Samuel stated. “Else that might be hard to fulfill.”

“Do not worry, she is behind the stage, under the care of my Reflection, Intensive Care.” She turned and pointed. “As she has always been.”

“I’ll… put the idea past Central,” Lester acquiesced. “There’ll be no hope of that happening if you aren’t cooperative, though.”

“Of course. Ask anything.” The Elder stated.

A glance back at the squad backing him up. Advocate swallowed. “Where is Overseer Cordiam?”