RP XCOM2: Liberation of Earth


Well-Known Member
Operation Mortem Ostium, Part 8

This being all the warning he would receive, Carolus began possessing him. Samuel had time to curse before his body was brought entirely under her control, her will overriding his. “Pah. Simple,” he uttered, looking over himself. “Ooh. Husky. Rough, but expressive. I like it. Do you sing, Samuel? You must. A voice with this range… it’d be a waste not to. And these muscles...”

A sigh. “Must be painful, knowing that you’ve trained yourself physically for this day when you should have been training yourself mentally.” Discarding his rifle, Carolus instead searched for his sidearm, locating the psi amp hanging at his belt instead. “... this is not a pistol,” she noted, disappointed. With a sigh, she settled for drawing his shotgun.

With satisfaction, she noticed that Umbra had not manifested. “Unfortunate that you had such a glaring weakness in the face of my will. Without your mind in control, you have no defense against me. And once again, I prove stronger than-” She stopped, spotting Azazel standing a few meters away with his arms folded.

Are you quite finished? he asked.

It was with that that Umbra expelled Carolus from its master’s body. Like an immune system recognizing a prior infection, it locked her out of Samuel’s mind. The Russian made a choking noise, as if spitting her out, before shaking his head. “... I can’t believe that worked,” he muttered to himself. “Holy shit… I love being right.”

The Arbiter, meanwhile, was mentally reeling. I don’t understand! I had him under control, Umbra shouldn’t have been able to manifest!

That would be true if it was a simple being. Evidently it is not.

She scowled. Very well. We will do this the standard way. While Samuel gathered himself, she returned to her body, finding it had toppled sideways in her absence. The Arbiter rose, a dull pain throbbing through her skull. She ignored it. What was the alternative, wait until it subsided while that heretic tainted this place with his presence? No. Unacceptable.

And so it was she stepped out from behind the statue of the reptilian alien, and leaned against it with her arms folded. “Turn, heretic,” Carolus commanded, her voice echoing in the crypt.

If it weren’t for the tactical disadvantage it would have brought, Nemesis would have conducted the rest of the exchange with his back to her to spite her. Despite this, he obeyed. “Yes?”

The Arbiter was a both a far cry from and nearly identical to the haughty, regal Elder she’d once been. Her Avatar was clearly designed with vanity in mind - beneath her dark bodysuit was ‘concealed’ a healthy, curvaceous female figure, which in any other situation would likely have pleased him greatly just to behold. The only interruptions to this rather bare outfit were the alloyed violet and white gauntlets adorning her hands, and a cape-like item of clothing fastened around her neck, also violet and white. Her facemask, whilst still the standard featureless fare, was rimmed by thin gold lines. The facemask itself took on a royal purple hue as she faced down her opponent.

“How did you throw my override off?”

Samuel chuckled. “What, you think I’d willingly walk down here alone when I knew for a fact you had that in your arsenal?” He pointed over his shoulder as Umbra formed a more coherent shape behind him. “Something I noticed when you left Ordero to the wolves got me thinking. She tried to mind control me a second time after you left, and for a moment it worked… and then failed. Turns out Umbra isn’t just physical defense after all.”

If someone who previously afflicted its master with a negative mental effect, whatever that was, tries again, it recognizes the foreign influence and forces it out.

The sound of Azrael’s voice caused Samuel to scowl. “Which reminds me. Where’s Albina?”

Carolus scoffed. “Dead. I had no choice, honestly. An Inquisitor is not meant to raise a hand against their Arbiter, and she not only did that but also defended an enemy of the Path. The Mandate demanded her blood.”

The ghost of Azazel noticeably wavered. … thought I was ready for that, he said shakily.

Outwardly, the Arbiter showed no change in emotion. Beneath her mask, however, a grin had started to spread like a disease wiping out a small country. “I made certain it was painful,” she continued. “Gave her a chance to defend herself… though without any kind of weapon she never stood a chance against me. I broke her back while leaving her alive, then made her watch as I assumed my new form.”

Samuel glanced sideways at his ethereal companion, his expression hardening. “Can you see him?” he demanded, interrupting Carolus’ gloating.

She did not respond, save for a barely audible ‘hmph’.

“I asked you a question, Carolus!”

“And then… I instructed Azrael to kill her.”

The Russian’s face paled, though beneath his helmet this sign of weakness was not betrayed. “You -”

Azazel had heard enough. Umbra! Do as you were created to do! Destroy her!

The Reflection briefly turned its head, as if in surprise at hearing its old master’s command, before lashing forward. The alien snake’s statue was within its reach, after all - it would be a simple matter to crush the Arbiter against-

The sound of steel ringing against air emanated across the courtyard, predicting the gold-trimmed scythe that struck back at Umbra. The Reflection recoiled, twisting away and retreating as Samuel backed himself away. Carolus began laughing, evidently finding the spectacle amusing in some form. “And then,” she finished, “Azrael transferred himself to me!”

From the disembodied hands holding the scythe Azrael formed, his appearance too being drastically different from what he had once been. Gone was the humble brown shawl that had once covered the angel, replaced by a white and gold one with red threads running along the rims. The shadow previously covering his face had been dispelled, revealing a human visage that would have been unremarkable were it not for the bandages running across his eyes, serving as a blindfold. The bottom of the blindfold was tinted red, an indication that blood had been present there at some point. Large feathery wings, previously tucked away, were now one of his most prominent features.

But most striking to Samuel were the shackles around the reaper’s wrists, the chains of which faded away into seeming nothingness a few links down. He scowled. “You mean you enslaved him!” the Aerotrooper accused. “Corrupted him!”

I cannot defy my master’s will,
Azrael stated, taking position directly in front of Carolus. No matter how I might wish to.

“One of the conditions of being a Reflection, I assume,” the Arbiter stated, shrugging. “Oh, don’t act so… what’s the phrase… ‘high and mighty’. You did exactly the same thing to Umbra.”

“I didn’t-” Nemesis growled. “That was different. We are in sync, we have the same goals!”

“We’ll see about that,” Carolus said, pushing herself off her support and standing straight. “Now then. Are we going to begin, or are you content to just stand there spouting your heresy all day?”

Samuel’s shotgun answered for him. At this range, he wasn’t expecting a hit, but it served to pressure his opponent into withdrawing behind some cover, namely the same statue from which she’d appeared. Azrael blocked any stray pellets, covering his new mistress for her retreat. The Aerotrooper was not concerned - the entire purpose of his attack was to allow him time to retrieve his rifle from where Carolus had discarded it.

As he did so, his mind raced, trying to determine an optimal strategy. I could wear her down, he thought as he scrambled for his own cover, the tall podium on which the statue of a human knelt. I don’t think she has biokinesis, and Azrael definitely doesn’t. Any damage I do to her will be permanent. The problem is dealing that damage.

We stand ready to help you,
Azazel noted. It doesn’t matter whether Carolus is capable of seeing us. It benefits her none.


Well-Known Member
Operation Mortem Ostium, Part 9

Unless she can work out which one of you corresponds to which form. Samuel checked his rifle’s ammo, ensuring the magazine was full. Might give her a few seconds warning to whatever I’m planning. And then there’s the fact that Umbra doesn’t change instantly. There’s a brief period of time in which she can counter-attack or escape.

Then try attacking her without switching, the dead Elder suggested. Commit to one form.

Nemesis took a moment. Inhaled, exhaled. How’d Alan take it?

Bit confused and irritated, but he’ll surv- A pause. … he’ll cope.

Good. You all ready?

Just… one thing. The ghost of Azazel looked him in the eye. I’m glad I choose you to carry Umbra on. You stand a better chance against Carolus now than I ever did or could. I believe you can do this.

Samuel smirked. Thanks for the pep talk. As far as vengeful ghosts go-

Further mental discussion was cut short as, evidently tired of waiting for him to pop back out, a strong gust of wind blew him out of cover. Carolus had approached, the Aerotrooper had time to notice, before Azrael lunged forward, scythe at the ready. Umbra, summoned in its Paladin form, shielded its master from attack before Nemesis himself fired. The bullets went past Azrael, clearly not meant for him, and towards the Arbiter.

Her response was to erect a yellow barrier tinted orange between the two, which caused the high-frequency torrent to slow before impacting it. “Fucking magnokinesis,” Samuel swore, retreating slightly.

Rather than pursue his target, Azrael also retreated back to his mistress, now floating protectively before her. Nemesis quickly noted the difference - it was likely he’d just stumbled upon Azrael’s effective range. Before him, Umbra locked its arms together to construct a shield. This shield blocked Carolus’ next attack, a glowing red psi lance that burst into flames upon contacting the shield.

The Arbiter frowned when Umbra remained still, unwavered by her pyro lance. “You place much faith in your shadow,” she noted, unclasping the cloak and letting the silken material slide off her shoulders. She held out a hand, as if waiting for some invisible butler to place an item in her grasp. A panel in the massive pedestal on which a statue sat opened, and a small object flew out. “But you forget I know it’s weaknesses well!”

The plasma pistol fired, green laser impacting Umbra’s shield. It was a guess, as unlike with its other forms Samuel was not visible through it. But even then the result was unexpected - rather than pass right through, as Carolus was expecting, the shot merely fizzled on the shield.

“Thank you, Samara,” Nemesis muttered, poking around his Reflection and firing another volley at the surprised Arbiter. She was able to recreate her magnetic barrier, but was too slow to minimize the damage as she previously had. A few cracks appeared in the barrier, prompting her to scowl in annoyance.

With great speed, Carolus propelled herself forward. “Cease hiding, coward!” she commanded, her hands spreading sideways. From cables lying underneath the metal floor, she drew electricity until her hands were crackling with energy. While Azrael flew around Umbra, she unleashed the pent-up power.

Samuel had already retreated inside his Reflection, however. Umbra stood stoically, electricity dancing off its form. When the angel of death realized where his quarry had gone, he began striking at the shadowy titan. You cannot hide in there forever, he pointed out.

“You’d be surprised how much denial I’m capable of,” the Russian snarked, though he had no idea what was going on outside - Umbra being opaque in this form might allow it to stop lasers, but it also had the effect of preventing anyone inside from seeing out. A similar effect seemed to have occurred to sound, given how quiet it was. Somehow Samuel doubted Carolus was just standing out there waiting patiently. He could feel Umbra weakening, albeit gradually. This wasn’t sustainable.

He needed to reposition, get some range. Carolus was the Arbiter, not a marksman. And Azrael did have a finite range. If he could escape, swap out Umbra’s form for the more precise one Holly afforded him…

The Reflection’s form blurred, and abruptly Samuel flew directly up. A few residual volts of electricity caught him in his escape, briefly causing him pain. Azrael made to pursue, scythe prepared to swing. But Umbra had already finished transforming - encapsulating Nemesis in dark fog, it literally spirited him away.

The Arbiter emitted an exasperated sigh. “This delay gets you nowhere,” she stated, turning around in an effort to locate her enemy. “Are you waiting to be saved from your inevitable demise at my hand? By who? Lord Vekinte will decimate your allies. The rest of your squad is incapacitated, one way or another. You are alone here, Samuel!”

“I’m not running or delaying!” Samuel shouted, drawing her attention over to the other side of the courtyard, where Umbra had deposited him. “Just repositioning.”

Beside him, Alan frowned. “Come on, man. You’re making me sound like a wimp.”

“You’re an Ambusher. It’s in your job description.” Bandit sighed, then blurred, reforming into Holly as Umbra itself changed. “Potshots here, Holly.”

“On it.” The Reflection reached sideways, tearing one of the sarcophagi off the wall. With a great heft, it launched the pod at Carolus. The Arbiter braced for impact, while her own Reflection made to intercept the projectile. A well-timed slice clove it in two, and the pieces instead crashed to the ground beside their target. “... damn.”

Azrael turned back, pausing. That one was still alive, he said, surprised.

Carolus tilted her head, before nodding. “Ah, you found Minos. Can’t say I feel much pity for such a fate. He was far too self-serving in his capacity as Arbiter. A shame you didn’t just wake him up, Samuel. I wouldn’t have minded an excuse to properly kill him rather than just stashing him here with the bodies.”

“I was just freeing up a spot for you,” the Russian threw back as Umbra grabbed the statue sitting atop the closest pedestal. The Balmadaar’s rigid form snapped, leaving two powerful legs still attached to their base. The shadowy thoughtform did not seem bothered. Once again, it held the object over its shoulder, while extending the other arm and aiming through the scopes lining the limb. This time, however, it did not throw just yet.

Instead, Samuel began taking potshots with his rifle, bullets pinging off the ground near Carolus. The Arbiter was unfazed, using destructokinesis to detonate the ground at her feet and propel her forward. Azrael surged forward too, his range drawing closer and closer to their opponent.

This was what Holly had been waiting for. Now, Umbra slung the statue forward, with Carolus’ opportunities to dodge or destroy the projectile limited aside from a vain hope that her trajectory would be different to what Umbra had predicted. It wasn’t.

The Arbiter spiraled out of control, impacting the ground with a cry of pain. But Azrael did not stop - Samuel was now within range regardless. Umbra had time to reform into its Boxer form before the angel arrived, slicing forward with his scythe. Samuel decided that the best defense was a good offense - rather than trying to directly block the attacks, Umbra punched forward, intercepting them with an impressive force of its own. Its speed was far greater than Azrael’s own, and thus it managed to jab him twice in the torso before the angel wisely retreated.

He took his place in front of Carolus, who had gotten to her feet. “Impressive,” she admitted darkly, rubbing a sore spot on her side that would likely bruise. “Admirable, even. Not many people are capable of turning the memories of their allies into such palpable assistance.”

Well, that confirms that. Samuel fired a few shots at her, though they were dispelled by a magnetic barrier. “Consider it a way of making you pay for everything you’ve taken from me,” he responded, reloading. “Though of course I’m not going to stop there.”

A chuckle. “So very angry,” the Arbiter taunted. “And so confident, too. You know, I’m reminded of when I last fought Umbra. Coatl was just like you… until I swept his victory out from under him.”

“That’s not going to happen again.”

“No?” Abruptly, Azrael fizzled out, appearing from thin air behind Samuel. “Then why did my teleimagery work so well?”

The Russian dove forward in time to avoid being impaled on the angel of death’s scythe, but he would soon discover that he was an incidental target at best. Umbra turned to attack as the scythe slashed the space between it and its master, fists ready. But rather than unleash another flurry of punches, it keeled forward as if struck by a sudden bout of nausea. Samson clutched his head and cried out in pain, staggering. Samuel felt his own head and chest throbbing, along with an oddly hollow sensation in his stomach.


Well-Known Member
Operation Mortem Ostium, Part 10

He fired another burst at Azrael, but the angel pirouetted away. “What the hell did you just do?!” he demanded, standing shakily.

Carolus giggled, clearly enjoying his plight. “Azrael can cut metaphysical ties,” she explained with a smug tone. “I first encountered this when it severed Ordero’s mind control over you. And, it seems, psionics are not alone in their vulnerability. The link between a Reflection and its master is just as prime a target.”

“The link between…” Nemesis glanced sideways, a move echoed by Umbra. The two of them realized what that meant simultaneously. “Carolus… how could -”

“And thus it is proven,” the Arbiter proclaimed, “that you and Umbra are not as similar as you seemed to think. In most cases, Azrael tells me, cutting the tie would be useless. After a moment or two, it would be reestablished. But you did not create Umbra, you inherited it. Without the same mindset, the same worldview as Coatl on that day…”

She grinned, though the motion went unseen by the horrified human across from her. “... your time with your shadow is now limited. Without a master, Umbra will fade.”

“And I may as well give up then and there,” Samuel muttered, pulling himself back to his feet. Behind him, Umbra reverted to it’s original shape, and Azazel replaced Samson. How long?

I don’t know. From her tone, I would say not long. Minutes at best.

Any way to extend that?

Not without altering your mindset and personality drastically. The dead Elder paused. And that isn’t something you want, trust me. At that point, you would be throwing away your humanity for rage, fear, and despair.

Nemesis ran forward, his jaw set. “Then you just numbered your own remaining minutes!” he shouted at his foe, lifting into the sky to avoid the bolt of lightning she speared at him and executing a running landing closer to her. His bullets pinged off her shield, which without being caught by surprise again showed no further signs of degradation. I need to get into close range, Samuel thought frantically. Puts me at risk of being attacked by Azrael, but keeping this to a sniping match will drag this out. I need to minimize the time it takes to win this, otherwise I’ll definitely lose. I can’t afford delays!

Carolus seemed to register his plan. “Ah-ah! Don’t you think about tainting my personal space, now.” A batch of steam, the hissing indicating rapid corrosion, wafted up from the floor between the two. After a brief second, lunar rock burst through the weakened metal flooring, creating a physical barrier in addition to the psionic one.

Nemesis scowled, but wasn’t about to waste time trying to batter his way through the Arbiter’s makeshift bunker. Instead, Umbra reformed into its more ghostly form, and enveloped Samuel within black mist. It released him inside, a brief moment of re-materialisation all the warning Carolus received before her enemy was directly beside her, shotgun ready.

The Arbiter weaved sideways, avoiding the first blast. Azrael, seeing Umbra needed a moment to transform into a more defensive shape, took the opportunity and lunged directly at Samuel. The Aerotrooper moved away, but not fast enough to avoid the scythe slicing his arm. A grunt of pain and a splatter of red blood, but so long as the limb was still attached Nemesis cared little. Umbra, back in its normal titanic form, smacked the angel away. The moment of opportunity for both sides had come and gone.

A psi lance, crackling with electricity, narrowly missed the Russian. A retributionary shotgun blast tore through the air, though the pellets were mis-aimed thanks to a small destructokinetic explosion directly next to Samuel. Azrael attempted to impale him once again, and was once again battered away by Umbra’s arm. The remaining three went for Carolus, who was finding herself backed into her own rock wall.

Lifting her arms, she brought boulders from the psionic-made structure to block both Umbra and Samuel’s attacks. Fists smashed rock after rock, pellets buried themselves in further stones that were then smashed to pieces. Azrael was forced to intervene in an attempt to stop the shadowy titan from crushing Carolus like the rocks she was defending herself with. Eventually, she ran out.

Rather than retreat, however, she pushed back. Flames spewed from her hands, engulfing Umbra and thus by extension Samuel. A few blind shots exited the Reflection’s torso, but with the orange glare in his face the Aerotrooper would not be able to properly identify where his foe was. Worse, a few licks of fire began entering Umbra’s body. He was running out of time.

… one last push, buddy. You ready?

Umbra did not respond. With all of its remaining effort, it rushed forward, Samuel following within, in a last ditch attempt to claim victory. As it bore down on Carolus, she merely chuckled.

“So desperate…” She tutted. “And so stupid.” When Umbra’s hands struck her down, they phased through, revealing her to be a mere illusion. When Samuel attempted to relocate her, his heart sank. She had moved behind them at some point, and was now out of reach.

Umbra turned as if to pursue, but then stopped. Slowly, it raised a hand, noticing that the limb was already disintegrating. Flecks of shadow poured from the thoughtform’s extremities, dissipating into nothingness as they did so. And from the rate at which this was occurring…

The shadow turned to Samuel, its massive tetrahedral helm glinting. And as the two locked gazes, Azazel’s voice echoed dimly in his mind, as if far away.

I am sorry. We all are. We failed you.

And with that, Umbra faded away, leaving only empty air where the titan had once stood. Samuel’s shadow was gone.

Silence resounded throughout the chamber, the sounds of conflict ebbing away just as Umbra had. Samuel could only stand there, despair settling in. He’d just lost one of his greatest weapons. One man against an Avatar and her Reflection?

The Aerotrooper hung his head. So this is what defeat really tastes like.

Carolus, meanwhile, made no move to execute him as he had expected. Instead, she sighed. “Almost heartbreaking, really,” she said in a tone that suggested anything but. “All that potential, all that hope, squandered away with a traitor’s echo. Umbra could have been a force for good in this universe. An enforcer of the Path.”

Samuel felt the scythe at his throat, hooked around his neck like he was some plant, ripe for harvest. Part of him refused to give up. Even as his would-be executioner had him there, defenseless, the deeper recesses of his mind were still searching for a way out. Some method of clutching victory from the jaws of defeat, anything.

But the rational part won out. This was a loss, that much was certain. Probably meant the end of his life, too. Another lost in the pursuit of freedom for his species. Another soul spent in the grand cost of this war.

Surprisingly, Carolus planted a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Oh, don’t look so down,” she said. “You did well. I’ll readily admit you had me worried at several points. No one, human or otherwise, has ever proven such a challenge.”

She walked forward slightly, until she stood directly before him. The Russian swallowed. “... I tried my best,” he said at last. “Couldn’t do any better.”

“And your best was good,” the Arbiter purred. “You’re a fine being, Samuel. Strong, cunning. If it were just you and me, no Reflections involved, I do have to wonder whether or not I would still emerge as the victor.”

He squinted. “Are you trying to flatter a man on death row?”

“Well…” Carolus took a step forward, invading Samuel’s personal space in the process. “Maybe you don’t have to die here.”

“... eh?”

“Consider. You’re a powerful opponent. Without your Reflection, significantly less, but the sheer potential…” She placed the hand back on his shoulder, her touch light this time. “I could find a use for you. My staff has dwindled, as you are well aware. I could use someone who can actually be useful. Finding a replacement for Umbra shouldn’t be too difficult.”

She’s… “Are you saying you want me to work for you?”

“If that would satisfy you. But I would prefer to work with you. If I needed someone to work alongside, after all, I would need them to be as powerful as me, or close. You fit that.”

He felt Azrael twitch. Flashing through his mind were a multitude of thoughts. A way out, but only by making a deal with the devil it seemed. Was life worth selling his soul? She’s… “You want me to sell out XCOM? The Resistance? Humanity?”

The Arbiter shrugged. “Are they worth your silence?” she queried. “When Vekinte emerges victorious, the Resistance will be weakened. All those prominent soldiers, the images, the paragons, all sent to die. If they do not accept his rule, they soon will.” She placed the other hand on his other shoulder, and brought herself uncomfortably close. “It’s too late for them, Samuel. You must look after yourself. Claim this opportunity.”


Well-Known Member
Operation Mortem Ostium, Part 11 (Final)

The scythe at his neck wavered. Samuel, you cannot seriously be considering-

“I would be your underling?” he interrupted, eyes boring into her facemask.

A pause, then one slender hand reached back. There was a slight hiss as the mask was detached, revealing the visage of Carolus’seravor to her captive. By design or by likeness to her original form, Samuel had to admit she was beautiful. Her eyes, colored a strange fusion of orange and green, carried an expressiveness at odds with what he’d seen of her personality so far. Was he wrong about her? “Not my underling, as such. My laʒir.”


“You-” She’s…“I don’t understand. Why?”

“I told you. You’re a worthy foe. Someone like you is worth noticing. Worth my attention. Only someone like that, someone like you, is deserving of me.” Carolus smiled, resting her forehead on his helmet’s visor. “If I was to join with anyone, I would want them to be my equal.”

She’s… Samuel swallowed, unable to stop the odd feeling of warmth the contact brought. “What if I wanted to… save someone?”

“You mean a friend? Or…” The Arbiter smirked. “Ah, you had another you were attached to? If they remain alive, they could be salvaged. Re-educated or kept as a pet, whatever you wished. I would grant this for anyone, in case you were wondering. Anyone from among the captured. If there were others that were appealing to you, I would allow it.”

“If they’re still alive.”

“Accept this, and we will move to assist Vekinte. Alone, he will be victorious, but with us alongside him XCOM’s defeat would be crushing. Ruinous.” She paused, a thought seeming to occur to her. “Vekinte himself might even be weakened. I would have to make a choice there, of course, but potentially… I could be High Commander. And you would be my closest. Second only to a goddess, Samuel. Tell me that isn’t a tempting idea.”


“Come on,” she whispered, breath misting on his visor. “Don’t throw your life away for a lost cause, not when you have so much to gain. Join me. Join with me. Please.”

Samuel hesitated. “... anyone, you say?”

The Arbiter smiled. “Yes, anyone. Why, a particular plaything in mind?”

“How about…”

In the midst of his defeat, he finally realized. He had all the ingredients already. Despair from his loss, from what it would mean for the resistance. Fear at death, of what the future would bring. And above all, anger. Anger at his opponent for tempting him like this, and sitting on top, anger at himself for even considering it. Three emotions. And what did those emotions first create, twenty years ago?

She’s… evil. A monster. An abomination! I can’t trust her!

Briefly, Samuel let it all flow through him. The hate - or was that adrenaline? - pumped into his veins, searing his blood hot. In a moment, his mind had cast off all other desires, all restraint. The only thing left was a lust that burned away everything else. A singular purpose. To destroy everything in his way.

A clenched fist was all the warning Carolus received. “... No.”

Umbra’s rebirth was rapid. The fists returned first, one snatching the scythe out of Azrael’s surprised hands, another batting him away. The last two sought out Carolus, who in her proximity to Samuel had left herself wide open.

“Wha-” She barely had time to utter an exclamation of surprise before being launched backwards, striking the central Elder statue and falling to the ground. “I… I don’t…”

Azrael tried to soar back to help her, but Umbra, who had by now reconstructed most of its body, blocked him. Which left Samuel free to stride up to his foe, who lay on the ground groaning, with his shotgun in hand. He didn’t waste any time, either. His boots stomped into her view, prompting the Arbiter to look up.

“No, wait, don’t you dare-”

He pulled the trigger. Pellets lodged themselves in her body, vibrating metal tearing apart the flesh it pierced. Even with the barrier she tried to create, her back was torn to pieces by the shrapnel. Still alive, but clearly not for much longer.

Azrael stopped fighting immediately. Umbra drew back a fist to silence him forever, but froze. Behind it, Samuel was staring at his workmanship, the woman at his feet whimpering in pain. In that moment he felt something that reminded him what made him human.


The hate washed away. With a clatter, Samuel’s shotgun hit the ground, slipping from his grasp. Umbra clutched at its chest, as if wounded, but did relax. This wasn’t quite the annihilation it had had in mind, but…

The shackles over Azrael’s wrists clinked open, before fading away. The angel of death rubbed them, before tentatively walking over to the two beings at the foot of the Elder statue. … Samuel?

He was still angry. Part of him still wanted to stomp on the Arbiter’s head, once for each dead squadmate, before blasting her once more to finish. But the involuntary pity had woken him up from the pit Umbra’s mind had locked him in, even if that pity had ebbed as quickly as it had arrived. Now Samuel stared at the broken Carolus, wondering how best to act.

Samuel, this is important.

He turned. The angel of death was waiting. “... what?”

Azrael pointed. Umbra was dissolving again, this time at a slower rate. Standing around it were those ghosts it carried, Holly, Samson, Samara, Alan, Azazel… they were celebrating. Even the ethereal Elder was partaking. “... I’m going to lose them, aren’t I?” Samuel asked quietly, the knowledge dawning on him.

I… would have collected them myself, Azrael admitted. But every time I tried, I noticed someone had already snatched their souls. I assumed one of the other Collectors had come. Chernobog. Michael, maybe. He looked at the ghostly legion, now assuming a line. Umbra seems to have been holding onto them. I will collect them as he fades.

“I don’t suppose there’s any way to bring them back?”

The angel shook his head. Death is absolute. Even if I knew of a way, it is not meant to be subverted.

The two watched them, living watching the dead. “They look so real.”

They are, in a sense. Just not for much longer.

“Where do they go, once you’ve collected them?”

I don’t know. To an afterlife, or to the void. It is not my place to know.

Samuel nodded. “They’re waiting for something.”

For you.

He glanced at Azrael. For a moment, he considered dumbly insisting he wasn’t about to die now, but he knew that wasn’t what the Reflection meant. He turned back. Holly had a half-smile on her face, eyes hidden beneath her aviators. Samson’s pose was cocky. Samara, ramrod straight. Alan’s face held a grin, the beanie on his head clamping down the black curls. And Azazel held an emotionless exterior, though beneath that Samuel felt he was probably smiling too.

With a sigh, he saluted. “Squad dismissed,” he said, unable to stop a tear welling. The ghosts copied the motion (with the exception of Azazel, who merely inclined his head), before turning and beginning to walk off into the crypt’s fog. Umbra stayed, pieces falling away, as if to ensure that its job really was finished.

Nemesis sighed wearily. “What about you?” he asked. “Umbra’s dying. I could use a stand-in.”

Azrael chuckled. We both know you don’t want me, he said. Your fight is over. You can sense that, deep down. There’s no combat left for you. Only the hope that the others finish their fight as you have. I will go to the ether knowing that one person at least believes in my existence.

Samuel turned around, spotting that Carolus had crawled towards his shotgun. “Uh-uh,” he said, picking it up. “I don’t think so.”

The Arbiter scowled. “You do it then,” she challenged, wheezing. “You’ll be the only one victorious today.”

“I don’t think so,” was the response, the Russian crouching down. “If I, a lone human, can almost beat an Elder in one on one combat, then how will Vekinte deal with the numbers Atka’s sending at him? Face it. You’ve lost. And soon, your High Commander will too.”

Carolus just stared at him, her brave exterior marred by the pain and despair in her eyes.

Samuel smiled. “Now then,” he said, standing. “This was fun and all, but I gotta run. You know how it is. I’m a hero now! Places to be, autographs to sign, babies to kiss, all that stuff.”

The Arbiter coughed, a splatter of violet blood hitting the metal floor. “You’re just going to - hack - leave me here to die like some animal?”

“Of course. You’re not worth the ammo. And without a biokinetic, which isn’t going to happen, you’re fucked anyway. My job is done.” He slung the weapon over his shoulder like a sack, and began swaggering away, whistling.

“Wait!” Carolus heaved, and tried to lift herself up. She succeeded in raising herself on her elbows, but got no further. “Samuel, get back here!” The balance didn’t last. She fell forward, head impacting the metal with an audible thump. “S-Samuel?! Samuel!”

He ignored her. As the last remnants of Umbra faded away, he addressed the angel he knew was watching. “So,” he said grimly. “How many were you up to?"


Well-Known Member
“Operation Primus Libertas” - Part 6

The double-doors into the meditation chamber shuddered for a moment. GZ-MO applied a bit more pressure, and they were forced open. The air whooshed out of the chamber due to a temperature and pressure difference between the inside and the outside. The room, it seemed, approximated the atmospheric conditions of Aetherum rather than a more balanced aerial environment like Earth’s. The sealed power armor suits of the dozen XCOM soldiers that entered meant that they were not adversely affected. And even if they’d felt burdened by the slightly higher pressure and somewhat colder temperature, they would not have turned back for something so insignificant. The end of their long road to the liberation of Earth was at hand. With the defeat of Vekinte, it would all be over.

They found him standing before the fountain-statue in the center of the room, standing calmly to face them - a golden aura around him. Before this all began, I was once but a humble chronicler. I merely preserved the histories of my people, and idly daydreamed about whether or not the future would hold greater or lesser things for my people - for the Protectorate as a whole. But when Thantos began ailing, I realized that I had to take action. I had to create my own destiny. Stairway to Heaven’s form ghosted in around Vekinte. The Fourth High Commander’s thoughtform seemed to do more than merely overlay her form over him this time, though. Instead, he was both wearing her armor, and merged with her very essence. The pair’s powers combined.

A pair of psionic-conducting cybernetic arms stretched out from behind Vekinte’s back - a relic psionic armor suit that the High Commander preceding him had worn into battle. The uppermost right hand glowed a blue color. Vekinte’s two right hands glowed gold and green. His two left hands glowed red and orange. And then… his other augmented palm brought with it a violet color. The aura around Vekinte’ecformin’cettnint began to pale, to turn more and more alabaster until it was a pure white. And now, the long journey is at its end. You have forced me to risk life and limb in order to achieve victory… and in doing so, you have allowed me to ascended to godhood. I must thank you for that. The psionic flames trailing off Atka’s eyes vanished. Yakone’s Overdrive ceased to be. Luke and Marx felt weak, as if poisoned. Gwen and Anna’s psionic energies left them.

I now possess Ascended Authority. None of you - not even your Reflections that use psionics - will be able to call upon your abilities. The white psion rules over all psionics.

“You… you can’t be serious,” Yakone breathed. “You’re just…” she grit her teeth, trying to call upon any vestige of energy left in her. But while she could feel her psionic energies lurking beneath the surface - and knew her will was still as strong as ```ever - she couldn’t bring any power to the surface. This was no subsume-esque drain. Her psionic powers were locked away as assuredly as she could negate the powers of a psion of the opposite color to her. “This can’t be happening…”

Luke tried to summon his powers: his fire, his firecracker, something, anything - but nothing happend. But Luke unlike the others started to laugh, the others looked at him as if he finally went crazy. “So we have a wannabe god huh,? Good I said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t need my powers to kill you. I have no problem bringing you down with my bare hands.” Luke loaded his Thorgun. “I will avenge my people no matter what, and I will see tomorrow... I will have my family…. I will have my children…. and the Earth will hear how XCOM destroyed the last remanding Elder in the galaxy! You hear me, maggot?!”

Vekinte responded with full-blown laughter. His voice - no longer fearful or tense, but filled with genuine mirth - echoed through the large room. Slowly, it died down to a chuckle. “You don’t seem to comprehend…” he noted, lifting a hand and crushing Luke’s minigun with telekinetic force, “the situation you find yourself in. ‘Wannabe god’, you say? True, even like this, my power is not at its full potential.” I am stronger, yes, and I reign over psionics… but my godhood will only be complete when Project Aether is complete and every sentient being on Terra channels a portion of their psionic energies into me. When that happens, I will have not only unlimited access to the wheel’s abilities, but unlimited power to draw upon as well.

“But for that to happen,” Vekinte murmured, scanning the twelve before him. “I must remove the one remaining obstacle in my way. The nine greatest Reflection-users in XCOM stand before me. I will kill all of you, and when I am finished no gun, no psion, no one on this planet will be able to challenge me ever again.” The Ethereal High Commander lifted two of his hands up, removing his mask. “These ceremonial masks are meant to be worn in public unless one achieves ascension, and no longer need wallow in the shame of being incomplete. I am the ultimate living being, now.” He tossed the intricate headgear onto the ground. “I need a mask no longer.”

Atka held Blue World protectively in front of herself. “Luke’s right about one thing, at least. We’re not going to give up, not even if you are comparable to a deity. We’ll fight you to our last breath! Don’t get cocky, you damn butcher! You’ve got the blood of thousands upon thousands of human beings on your hands! You’re going to pay for that, so help me God!”

“Arrogance requires one to think they are more powerful than they actually are,” Vekinte responded calmly. His eyes flashed blue. “I have become so much more!” The hands of the clock slowed for a microsecond, and then were held still.

XCOM’s Commander called upon her Reflection. Blue World, resume time! And… nothing happened. Atka felt her vision started to go black as she became as unconscious as the rest of the squad during the frozen time. Blue World’s ability… it’s… psionic, Atka realized too late.

Vekinte was now free to act in his two seconds without any impediments. He quickly closed the distance with the Commander, drawing his four Reflection swords. You fought valiantly. I was incorrect to believe that you did not have a determination on par with my own, Atka. In the end… you truly were a worthy opponent. But you have taken something dear from me, and that is unforgivable. Convictions be damned. You and your daughter killed my love. For that… this is retribution. Thrusting a sword forward, Vekinte/Stairway to Heaven drove a blade through Atka’s heart.

Time resumed. The other eleven soldiers witnessed their leader, in the span of an instant, impaled through the chest by the ascended Elder that was their indomitable enemy. He swiftly pulled the blade back out, allowing Atka to tumble to the ground. The High Commander pointed the bloodied blade at the rest of the squad. “You’re next.”

“Y-” Yakone felt her voice choked in her throat. Tears of disbelief welled up in her eyes. “N-no… NO! You couldn’t have-that easily… no! ATKA!” she screamed in absolute despair.

In that moment, all life drained out of the leader of Genesis’ body. His hand shook, and his entire body for an instant trembled so much he took a step backwards. His shaking hand balled into a fist, and not allowing himself a chance for tears, he ran forward with his sword and gun ready to tear that alien apart until it was a bloody mess on the wall.

Likewise, the other Reflection-users went on the attack. Scarlet’s gun thundered, Onimiki’s wings beat a buffeting gust into Vekinte. Fides brought his gigantic sword to bear, forcing Vekinte to cross two of his just to block. And yet, despite the vengeful, sorrowful fury of those that had known Atka, Vekinte stood unshaken. He pushed back Fides, and sent a burst of fire into Onimiki that put the thunderbird on the defensive. An outward burst of elecricity forced back Scarlet and Korelyive.

A blue-white gauntlet impacted with Vekinte’s side, knocking him backwards. Not yet. I won’t allow it to end this easily.

What is this? Vekinte questioned, his features contorting in surprise. “How are you still…?”

Atka stood, clad in Blue World as Vekinte was armored by his own Reflection. Although her psionics were sealed away, the determined fires in her eyes remained there. “I won’t give in. There’s still a world to save. There’s still a devil to defeat. For the sake of everything that I’ve fought so long for, I won’t allow myself to die yet! You may try to break my spirit, but it’s useless! I won’t give in!” Atka shouted in a fury, sending a barrage of punches into Vekinte to batter him further back. “Pour it on!” she ordered her soldiers.


Well-Known Member
“Operation Primus Libertas- Part 7

Yakone was equally as dumbstruck as Vekinte. I-I don’t understand. I saw her die. We all did. How can she be up and fighting?

“I won’t question a good thing.” Morrigan zoomed to the side. “If we can’t do this with space magic, we’ll do it with technology.” She pushed her armor and Vys’ abilities to their limits. She zoomed around the room, moving at blinding speed, hitting the “Ethereal god” from every angle, seemingly from multiple places at once.

Alexis ran to the side and waited until she was in cover to fire, not wanting to get hit if her attack was reflected again. “Damn, I wish Ayame had come with us. Her powers would probably still work, even if I’m unsure what she could do against this foe.” She fired again and again, desperately trying to reach the power locked within her. Each shot rebounded, forcing her deeper into cover.

Marx strode forward alongside Korelyive, the Ranger and the Chryssalid Ghost trying to get an attack in. However, as they neared and threw themselves at Vekinte, he activated his corpokinesis. They phased through him, and before Anna’s Reflection could meet him in immaterial battle, a flurry of sword strikes shattered her, taking her out of the fight - and causing her user such an immense headache that she fell incapacitated. Marx suffered hits as well - not feeling them, but finding his tendons cut and his legs therefore unable to support his weight.

Leon studied the battlefield, looking for his own opening to go in for, but his concentration was broken by a voice. “Hey kid, those relics of yours aren’t exactly psionic, are they?” Desmond asked, his face contorted so much it was like his face was made of linear planes of hardened steel.

The Grenadier nodded and raised his left forearm, showing his bracer with the broken hilt in it -not having drawn it for some time due to him having gotten good enough to merely manifest it when he had his psionics. “Why do you ask?”

“Because tech isn’t all we have at our disposal.” Phoenix formed in a smaller version besides Desmond, and he looked at the broken hilt. “If this fucker wants to play god, then we will just have to send some myths his way. Ever read the story of Prometheus?”

Chuckling, catching into the idea, Leon pulled out his broken weapon and held it out. Pheonix flew forwards and landed on the part of the blade that was still there, and the Reflection slowly reformed to fit into the conduit it was merging with. What was produced was a shining blade that shone with a white glow as a burning hot sun would, red flames licking the outer edges. “I’ll put this to good use.”

“You better. My daughter needs you by her side, even if I think she could have done better.” Desmond muttered, running to the side as he fired his revolver repeatedly to try and score a distraction from the others.

“Softie…” Leon retorted under his breath, and summoned the spiritual shield of Pacem. The re-equipped soldier went into the fray against the godly being. Yakone joined his side, her own blades drawn. If nothing else, she could fight with those thanks to Libertas. She and Leon met Stairway to Heaven’s swords, sparks spraying off with each strike exchanged between swordsmen. Blocking blow after blow, Yakone began to set into a rhythm. She glanced momentarily to the side, Praclaritas filling in for the brief gap in her attention.

Atka was still fighting, herself. She managed to break through a telekinetic barrier Vekinte had thrown up, and delivered a blow to her side. In exchange, the Ethereal High Commander stabbed into her shoulder. Atka seemed not to notice. Blood streamed out, accompanied by blue energy. From small gaps in Blue World’s armor, more blood - a blacker color - dripped out, steaming and evaporating before it hit the ground. Yakone began to understand, and felt her stomach sink. She’s… is she really… already dead?

A shockwave screamed out from Stairway to Heaven, buffeting Vekinte’s opponents back. “This is futile,” he insisted, absorbing a lightning bolt from Onimiki and sending enough electricity back at his user that she fell back smoking. You cannot defeat an alabaster god. Accept your fate. You will all die here.

As he said that, ghostly bullets started to hit him. Well, I’m already dead and I’m not going back to the grave thanks. Scarlet and Lilith both fired at Vekinte trying to weaken the false god.

The physical bullets were deflected by Vekinte’s vector shield, while the immaterial ones were blocked by his armor - which seemed incredibly durable, as his willpower was at an all-time high. Foolishness! This resistance is absurd! Every action you have taken, every move of defiance you have made throughout this war has been nothing but the height of shortsightness! It only reveals your incomprehension. I will make myself loud and clear! I am invincible. This battle is hopeless. Violet tendrils reached out to every member of Menace 1-5 that remained conscious. Vekinte’s master violet power drew them into the palace that was his mind.


Atka, Leon, Lilith, Morrigan, Yakone, Gwen, Desmond, Alexis, and Luke found themselves adfrift in space. Behind them was the blue orb that was Earth. And in front of them - casting a shadow over the Moon - was Vekinte. Glowing golden energy surrounded him, encompassing his form. Stairway to Heaven grew in size, becoming as large as a vertically-aligned battleship. Her swords brimmed with violet psionic energy, roiling off in waves of pure power. “Willpower is all that matters! Mine exceeds yours! My ambition cannot be contained - it cannot be broken!” Vekinte boomed from within his engorged Reflection Knight.

Morrigan shook her head. “Man, this guy likes to hear the sound of his own voice. Par for the course with these guys, I guess.” She rolled her neck around. “If it is a willpower fight you want, you can have it. Believe or not, this isn’t the first fight in a dreamstate a lot of us have had.”

“You think size is going to cow us? I thought you knew what to expect from us, Vekinte!” Atka taunted, crossing her arms. Blue World enlarged itself to match the size of Stairway to Heaven. Its head reformed as a helmet with clear glass on the front, and plated powered armor unfolded across the astronaut’s form - making it more durable.

“Heh making yourself bigger just makes you an easier target, Scarlet, let’s finish him.”

Finally. The two sisters started to fire at Vekinte. To no avail.

Luke stayed on the ground, with the lost of his gun, and his powers being taken from him. He looked around and sees he’s not in the moonbase anymore. Luke stood up, and looked at Vekinte. “Hey asshat, you think your willpower is strong? Really, what makes you so special, huh?! Let me tell you something: I've been tortured, been through hell, watched so many of my friend die. You think your will is strong? You're wrong.” Luke’s eyes started to glow and his arms erupted in flames. The fires started to cover his body, looking like his tribe armor with a wolf helmet.“I will show you just how strong my willpower is, then I will have earn what is my birthright.”

“Yeah, you tell that asshole!” Alexis encouraged. She floated up into the air, gaining a transparent form, wings of pure green sprouting from her back. “Let’s show him we have both the quantity and the quality.”

Morrigan grinned, and Fides seemed to form around her before surging up and out, growing massive, his sword alone looking like it weighed thousands of tons. In the center of his chest, Morrigan could be seen, her movements mimicked by her Reflection. “This is so cool! God, I wish Brigid could see me now…”

Meanwhile, Gwen donned a flowing white dress, her golden hair extending downwards past her feet and coiled around her body like a golden sash, an orb of sparking electrical energy floating above her hands in a mimic of her new Reflection.

Leon didn’t change much from his usual Fortis armor, the only deviation being the increased reinforcement in some parts of the armor, the lion shaped helmet and intricate looking spear that stood as tall as him in his left hand. “Hopefully we can end this quickly.”

“I wouldn’t count on it.” Desmond responded, robes of black fire surrounding him until he was covered head to toe in the garment, a plain white mask covering his face to given him an eerie resemblance to the reaper with gun in one hand and black sword in another.


Well-Known Member
“Operation Primus Libertas - Part 8

Yakone looked at the others, standing tall and proud. She wanted to join them, but her heart was heavy with her realization that Atka’s time was limited. It was hard enough holding back tears. But the dread, the knowledge that this was the end for her mother - overwhelmed the Crusader. Atka, you’re… she mentally imparted, even her mental voice choked up.

Atka smiled - a warm expression Yakone could feel down to the core of her being. I know. It’s alright. Keep fighting! Don’t give up now, when we still have a chance to pull through. That’s not you at all.

Shakily, Yakone smiled. “Yeah… that isn’t my style, isn’t it?” Yakone shut her eyes for a moment, inflaming her mind.

Bluegreen energy the color of a galaxy’s hue shined around her, encircled her, and allowed her to take on a massive form herself. While humanoid, it was completely made of burnished alloy plating, as if a gigantic mechanical being. From her back, a cape unfurled. It was blue like her one in the material world, but all along it, minature stars twinkled brilliantly. Yakone’s armor was white with midnight green highlights along the shoulder-joints and all over the gloves and boots. Her helmet had a blue visor over it that shaded her eyes to an aqua color, though they burned so brightly emerald seeped out the edges of the helmet’s visage. And in her hands were gigantic katanas made out of flaming emerald green energy.

“Let’s do this, Vekinte!” Yakone cried out. She and the other members of Menace 1-5 threw themselves at the gigantic Ethereal Knight. Swords clashed at blinding speeds nearing the speed of light, rendering the combatants whirling blurs of battle-fury. Waves of power rolled off the combatants as they fought,

The stars themselves came to Vekinte’s aid. The stellar background shone brightly, and a network of laser beams shot out from the heavens. They crisscrossed all over, impaling through the XCOM soldiers that dared to fight Vekinte in his own mind. Their astral forms were torn up, shot up, broken up - but did not break completely. Not yet. Not with their determined wills united towards one common purpose. “Still you fight. I don’t understand it,” Vekinte murmured in frustration. “Try this on.” Gouts of white flame sprouted from Stairway’s shoulderpads, and she grew even larger - until she dwarfed the Earth in size. The Reflection grabbed the Earth, placing it onto her chestplate and integrating the planet. My will is the will of Terra. And I wish to eradicate you here and now!

Atka gazed up at the titantic thoughtform. “Not bad… not bad at all.” She glanced to the others. “We’ll have to do this together.” Atka rose up into the stellar void, and the other soldiers became points of light that surrounded her. The Avenger appeared, enlarging and taking on the shape of a power armor helmet. A body formed under it, generated by the combined willpower of all the soldiers here. A surprisingly simple XCOM soldier was formed, taking on the appearance of a humble infantryman. You need to call her by the correct name, Vekinte. Earth is what we fight for, not that stupid moniker you gave the planet to try and claim it as your own. You’re a tyrant! That’s why liberty itself is on our side! And like all tyrants, you need to fall! You WILL fall! This I swear!

The planet-dwarfing soldier lifted his high-frequency rifle, firing rounds the size of battleships at Vekinte and the Reflection that encompassed him. He retaliated by thrusting his swords forward as the rounds began thundering into his astral form, bypassing any defenses like simulated vectokinesis that he tried to throw up. He started slashing into the form of the unison thoughtform the XCOM troops had created in the mind palace. He did damage to it, cutting deep grooves - but the minds of nine ultimately exceeded his own force of will. The astral Stairway to Heaven broke apart, and Vekinte was forced to cancel the ability or risk his intellect being destroyed.


In the real world, only an instant or two had passed. But just like that, the violet master ability was defeated. Vekinte was overwhelmed, and everyone returned to consciousness. “Unbelievable…” he breathed heavily.

“For you, maybe,” Alexis stated, her chest heaving, the mental exhaustion threatening to make her pass out. “You believed you would win… because you had to in order to validate your claim of godhood. You are no god. Not even close. Just another tyrant that got a taste of power. Like my friend said, now you fall like the rest.”

Back in their bodies, the soldiers of XCOM went for a material volley of attacks. Scarlet fired, Yakone and Leon slashed, and Morrigan cleaved with her Reflection’s gigantic sword. His willpower drained by the exertion of not only fighting so many in his own mind, but failing to beat them, Vekinte was now vulnerable. Cracks began to appear in Stairway’s armor, and the Reflection that had bonded with her master started to come undone. Cracks of interior blue light shone through the damages in the armor.

Atka was breaking up, too. Blue World’s form was starting to have flecks break off, shattering like glass and drifting off as mental dust. She wasn’t finished quite yet, though. Lunging for Vekinte, she went for a finishing blow. He froze time, moving to the side. But as exhausted as he was, it wasn’t enough. Time resumed, and Atka/Blue World hit Vekinte’Stairway to Heaven with enough force that armor was blown off, and the Reflection shattered. A flabbergasted Vekinte stumbled backwards, his white aura starting to fade with the loss of his thoughtform.

No… no! This isn’t… this cannot be! I was… I was a god! Vekinte protested, unable to comprehend the fact that he had become the white psion only to be defeated anyway. His neurons were frayed, and his defenses were completely down.

“You were a fool, you came to our world and underestimated us - this is what happens to those that grow arrogant. They don’t have anyone to reel them in, and I want to kill you so badly but I avenged my people just by getting you here just like this. As much as I would love to send you into space and let you suffocate, that’s not my choice.” Luke looked at everyone.” Anyone want the honor to kill the so-called ‘god’ before I change my mind?”

From the ranks, the Commander of Genesis walked forwards with his weapons in both hands, his head tilted downwards. “You’re kind has taken so much from me…” He began, struggling to keep his voice steady. “You took my friends… my home… my daughter… my love… everything.” Both revolver and sword slipped from Desmond’s hands as he loomed closer to the alien, reaching out and seizing the Declension by his scrawny throat. “Your path isn’t one of guidance, it is one to lead people astray. You led me astray, and ultimately in the end you killed me. Killed who I wanted to be, and who I was. Killing you… if I must hold sorrow without solace… then this will be merely be one small consolation.”

His grip tightened, and he cut off the airway of Vekinte, holding him like that. He would not give him a quick death, or a flashy end. He would make sure it was drawn out and painful, and worse of all, demeaning to one who had hold such a state of prestige. When the fight finally left the alien, Desmond tossed him to the side like trash, and turned his back on the dead Declension. From the corpse, a green miasma began to rise up. It rushed beneath the fountain, a golden glow emanating from it.

“That’s…” Yakone realized.

“He’s retreated into an Avatar,” Olivia said grimly, coming to. “Goddamn bastard… he’s not going to beat us like that.”

“One last act of stubbornness, I guess…” Atka muttered, larger and larger pieces of Blue World’s form coming undone. The body that was encased inside had become a white mist that had risen up into nothingness, and all that was left was her consciousness within the unraveling Reflection. “I suppose I understand… though I think I’ll have to leave that last bout to you all,” she remarked with a sorrowful smile, knowing her time was almost at its end.


Well-Known Member
"Operation Primus Libertas” - Part 9

“Damn you…” Desmond said, coming to stand across from her, his eyes slick with tears. “Damn everything… it should have been me, and not you. I should have… done more…” The man said, lowering his head as his tears hit the floor.

“Desmond,” Atka whispered, the astronaut armor around her starting to break away - leaving a ghostly rendition of the Commander’s form behind where it departed. “Don’t blame yourself. Promise me you’ll keep on living. For Yakone. For everyone that cares about you. For youself. For me.” The Inuit woman reached forward, tilting Desmond’s head up. “That’s all I ask of you,” she spoke quietly, giving him a passionate kiss.

Desmond shook from his sadness, the tears coming harder. I love you...

I love you too, Atka responded with intimate sincerity. She held her lover for as long as she could, only breaking away as Blue World’s armor shattered completely. She felt her ‘body’ starting to crumble, as well - starting from her heels, and beginning to rise up from her right side. The Inuit woman turned towards her daughter, who could no longer control her emotions. Yakone’s tears drifted down her face, and her expression was one of melancholy anguish. Her mother spoke to her directly, smiling a wistful smile.

“Yakone… the past few months I’ve spent with you have been the happiest times of my life. Sacrificing myself for your dreams, for your future… it is the most joyous offering I can give you.” Atka’s eyes drew downwards, as more fragments chipped off her form and floated into the air. “I know that you’ll cry for me again and again. I can’t ask you not to. Just know that I have no regrets,” she insisted, “save one: I won’t get to see you win. But I know you will.” Atka began to reach out, preparing to say what would be her final words. But Yakone seized her hand.

Mom, please! Yakone begged Atka. Don’t leave… not like this… there has to be another way. The Ranger’s mind raced as she searched for a solution. Deep down, she didn’t expect to find one - but it was in desperate times like this one that Yakone ended up finding a solution to seemingly impossible problems. You… you’re within your Reflection now. Transfer to me, at least temporarily! That’ll stabilize you!

I will only linger on as a ghost, that’s not-

I’ll figure something else out beyond that point! Yakone retorted, adding as the ground rumbled, and I could really use your help right now. Even if I can’t save you in the end, and you have to pass on… stay with me just a little while longer. Please. Atka seemed to consider for a moment, parts of her face about to disintegrate. Ultimately, she acquiesced to the request. Yakone’s hope for her mother’s survival allowed Blue World to latch onto her as its user, precluding Atka’s intellect from being lost into the abyss. Visibly, Atka shattered completely, and vanished from the world.

The statue burst apart, blown to pieces by a wrathful detonation of telekinetic force. Escaping the hole was a golden-colored Avatar, surrounded in an aura of burning psionic energy. You have ruined everything! I may never achieve ascension again now! What have you done with my heaven, dammit! Vekinte cried out in a rage. Stairway to Heaven reformed at his side, but it was more lightly armored. His ambitions had been - contrary to his proclamations earlier - shattered, and the less powerful Ethereal Knight fittingly reflected that.

Yakone clenched her fists tight. She whipped out her fusion blades, igniting them and filling them with equally-potent imbuing energy. “I’m gonna end this,” she told the High Commander. “I’ll make you pay! I’ll ruin your dreams and replace them with Atka’s!” Let’s do this, mom!

Right. It’s time to finish this.

The shattered pieces of Blue World flowed into Yakone, and modified Libertas’ form. An astronaut suit took shape around the embodiment of liberty, including the resume gauntlets of Atka’s Reflection. She rushed towards Vekinte, her Reflection meeting his in a storm of attacks, while her swords lashed out against the bayoneted blade on the Avatar’s psionic repeater.

“Well?” Someone asked from the side, Leon cladding himself in Fortis’ full form once again. “Are you all just going to let her fight on her own? Come on!” The Canadian man urged them on, rushing into the battle with a yell.

Marx stormed forth, covered in alloy armor head to toe. Gritting his teeth, he raised his blades as well, “You fucking cowards! Your whole race! If you had just stood and fought!”

Anna took her cousin’s side, though they were at least ten feet apart, as she fired her weapon into Stairway. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!”

A vectokinetic barrier deflected the bolt casted in Vekinte’s direction, and he shot it back at Anna. His fury not departing, the failed god activated Stairway to Heaven’s ability. Time ground to a halt, and he hurled himself in front of Yakone, trying to drive his blade through her heart. "Die, damn you!"

Yakone, using the resume bubble for the first time, activated it a moment too late to put up her Reflection’s arms to guard. The blade passed through her chest, but she avoided death - moving her heart to the side with her biokinesis. Bluegreen energy surrounded her like a tornado. “You… fucking… son of a bitch! Trying to kill me the same way! You shameless... arghhh! Blue Liberty!” she ordered her Reflection, who smashed her fists into Stairway to Heaven - collapsing the helmet partially inward and knocking thoughtform and master backwards as time flowed normally again


Well-Known Member
“Operation Primus Libertas” - Part 10

The Russian Ranger was quick to defend his friend, Raising two pillars and closing them in, trying to trap Vekinte’s blades. Anna, meanwhile, used this opportunity to launch a psi insanity at the weakened Elder, saving her powers until she was confident they would at least cause him to hesitate.

While he wasn’t driven mad by the attack, it unraveled his mental state further - making him paranoid and twitchy. Vekinte managed to make use of this for himself. He and Stairway phased through the pillars, and - coming out the other side - his Ethereal Knight was able to parry Blue World and Yakone blow-for-blow. He turned to face Anna and Marx, forming a collection of electrokinetic spheres to fire lasers from - only to have the electricity scattered as Onimiki barreled into him, knocking the High Commander into a wall.

“Quit forgetting me,” Olivia growled at the Ethereal. “Half of my squad’s dead thanks to your machinations. I’m not done with you just yet!” Electricity sparked all over the Elder, forcing him to defend by siphoning it away - thus splitting his attention.

As he tried to reach out for defense, Vekinte suddenly felt something fluctuate across his shield, only to realize what had happened. His own power was being used against him. Gwen was off to one side, and with all her might and mental capacity, she channeled through Jan’tiala in order to completely stop the Avatar’s movement. “I’m a quick study you bastard… don’t underestimate my effectiveness in that regard…”

“A… a mere human, utilizing vectokinesis?” Vekinte breathed. “I don’t bel-”

“There’s a lot of goddamn things you don’t believe! You go on and on about convictions, but really you’re just an overambitious shallow dreamer!” Yakone growled. A barrage of bullets flew through the air, traced by silver lines as they flew at Vekinte from the other members of the squad. He was forced to recall Stairway to Heaven to defend himself, only for the Reflection to be nearly shattered again by the chorus of impacts. “You think you’re so smart, but you get full of yourself the minute you attain new power!” Yakone lunged forward, Blue Liberty smashing past Stairway to Heaven’s defenses and punching a hole clean through the Reflection. She staggered backwards, struggling to maintain her coherency.

A tearful Alexis held her hands towards Morrigan, hitting her with an increase of oxygen, biokinetic physical strengthening, inspired metal strengthening, and a shield to protect her. Morrigan screamed in heart-torn anger as she ran to only a few feet before the Avatar and summoned Fides to stab into the vulnerability. Following up behind her, Marx launched himself into the decaying form with his shoulder with the speed of a cannonball, creating another hole straight through it and landing on the other side. Stairway to Heaven finally broke into a million shards, scattering every which way.

“I used to be like that. Prideful and unable to see my own faults and shortcomings. If you weren’t too busy trying to make everyone bow to your will, maybe you’d have learned something more about yourself. Maybe you’d have become a better person,” Yakone told the High Commander.

Vekinte pushed himself to his feet, grabbing his psionic repeater and taking aim at Yakone. “You do not unders-” Marx used his momentum to sprint towards the now-reflectionless Vekinte, blades raised and pumped full of energy as he prepared to add a shockwave onto the attack. In an act of desperation, Vekinte brought up his bayonet to bear - infusing it to make it impossibly sharp. The blade penetrated Marx’s chest, coming out the back as he strode forward. How can you still-

However, the Terrakinetic refused to be stopped as he suddenly reached forward and grabbed the High Commander’s shoulder, pulling himself up the blade as the other one clamped onto his throat. Marx then used his powers to close the metal hand, giving it much more force that it would’ve had normally. “Stop talking already!”

“Marx! Y-You’re…” Yakone whispered in horror. She brought her fusion blades down upon Vekinte, puncturing through the Fourth High Commander’s Avatar armor and coming clean out the other side. His golden eyes widened, and his vision swam with red. Yakone kicked Vekinte backwards. He fell off the Crusader’s twin katanas, and slumped onto the ground. Vekinte’ecformin’cettnint’s ‘Knowledge’, ‘Vision’, ‘Power’, and ‘Rule’ all fell away. His dreams of heaven would never be. He fell into the blackness of death, his golden aura fading forever.

Forgive me, Cordiam, he thought privately, and then thought no more.

Yakone was immediately at her fellow Ranger’s side. She began pumping biokinetic healing energy into her comrade, trying to save his life. “I won’t lose another, dammit!” Her voice quavered. “Please, don’t die on me too…”

Also rushing to his side, Anna was there in an instant, sobbing uncontrollably. “Marx! No, I can’t lose you! I was the one meant to die! Not you!”

He coughed violently, “Don’t… say that. Just because some dream or some vision led you to… believe that… just because it’s true there… doesn’t mean anything… We are here, we won… you deserve a good life…”

“M-Marx… you’re my family…” She clutched him.

“You are… and just because my parents are waiting for me… They wouldn’t want me to… die so easily…” He dug his hands into the floor as his strength returned, smiling at Yakone.

“Wha…” Anna looked up, seeing Yakone sweat as she healed him, “Did it really? He’s-”

“He’ll… be fine,” Yakone breathed in relief. “I keep my promises.” I just hope I can… keep the ones I’ve made to you, the Ranger silently confided in her Reflection.

Morrigan stared down at the dead body, a sudden urge to mutilate the corpse overwhelming her, Fides surging as Morrigan struggled to get her rage under control. In the end, she let out a primal scream, and Fides smashed his blade into the wall, smashing everything in his way and shaking the room. Finally, he disappeared, and Morrigan walked away, her anguish and sorrow pushing her to find solitude. Yakone turned her head, but let her go - putting away her swords.


Well-Known Member
“Operation Primus Libertas - Epilogue

Alexis was the opposite, unable to imagine being alone with her grief, and walked over to her best friend, tossing her helmet off and wrapping her arms around Yakone. The tension and determination of battle washed away from the younger Ipiktok, and she returned Alexis’ embrace. “We finally did it, Alex,” the Crusader whispered, her tone mournful but in some small way relieved. “We saved the world, like we always wanted to do.”

Alexis nodded slowly. “Yeah… I guess we did.” She sobbed softly. “Now what? I don’t… know who to turn to… now that…”

Yakone held her friend tighter. “Lean on me, then,” she spoke quietly, insistently. “If I have to be strong for all of us, I will be. Atka entrusted the future to me. I’m not about to let her down.”

Leon looked on at the two friends embracing, opting not to interrupt the moment between the two. He looked to the side, his gaze resting on the armored figure who stood away from everyone else, leaning against the wall with his eyes downcast. The soldier approached, trying to think up something to say. “We finally won. We couldn’t have done it without your help Desmond.”

“Yeah…” he said with a sigh, looking at his hand. “I suppose you’re right.”

Leon followed his gaze down to the man’s hand, and not seeing the importance of it, he reached up and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I know it’s hard but… oh my… Desmond, your…” Finally he put two and two together.

The once angular planes that made the man look harder than steel were no longer there, and instead his face was soft looking, as if all the foundation underneath had been crushed. What stunned Leon the most was that the glowing red eyes that had been his signature look were now a dull, bland gray. “A final defeat… one I am sure Vekinte is laughing all about.”

“Your will to fight…” Leon confirmed audibly, and the older man gave a solemn nod. “I’m sorry for your loss.” Not wanting to give Desmond any more urge to want to break down, the Canadian man turned and left the beaten man to himself.

Yakone looked over to him, her heart heavy. Should I tell him you’re still in my head? That there’s a chance?

No… I don’t know if I can persist as anything more than your Reflection, Yakone, Atka thought sorrowfully. You can search for a solution, but promise me… if you can’t find one, allow me to pass on peacefully, alright?

I… I don’t want to… Yakone sighed. I-I promise, mom.

Anna looked down at the dead Elder, feeling sick to her stomach. Marx huffed, walking up next to her slowly, prompting her to turn towards him.

“Anna.” Marx stopped her there, “Your life is worth more than you think... You’re my family… You deserve to live a happy life…”

“Thank you…” The former prisoner nodded, wrapping her arms around her cousin, “I love you Marx.”

Yakone, after a time, let go of Alexis for the moment, walking over towards the center front of the room. She reached down, picking up the fallen anti-tank rifle on the ground. Direwolf slipped into a secondary holster on her back. She started to open her mouth to speak, but caught movement out of the corner of her eye. A flicker of recognition crossed her features. “...Patrem. I know you’re there. Come out.”

The form of a shorter-than-average Avatar slowly revealed itself. The Honored Overseer held a rifle, one that shook in his trembling hands. “I-I’m the High Commander now… I have to…”

“No, you don’t. If you’re going to take your father’s place… don’t throw away your life senselessly,” the Inuit-Caucasian woman cut him off. “Put down that damn rifle.” After a moment of hesitation, Patrem complied. It seemed he didn’t truly have the will to fight, with his parents dead and the Protectorate army in shambles.

“What am I to do now?” the Fifth High Commander wondered, falling to his knees in despair. Yakone approached him, extending a hand.

“Get up. We’ve got a ceasefire to negotiate,” she answered, “between two Commanders.”

Luke went to the center of the room and grabbed the former Protectorate leader’s helmet and looked at it. “Serves you right…” Luke turned his attention to the new High Commander and approached him. “So you’re an Elder child huh, humm not what I expected.” Luke held up his father’s mask .” You asked what to do, you lead your people to a better future one where you do not kill and enslave million of people. Make a bright and better future for the sake of your race.” Luke held the helmet in his hand offering it to the young child.

After awhile, the bereaved Ethereal took the ceremonial mask. “I suppose that is all I can do,” Patrem murmured. He accepted Yakone’s hand, and rose to his feet. His eyes flashed violet for a moment, as he opened a telepathic channel to the Protectorate forces outside. This is… acting High Commander Patrem’ecformin’cettnint. Stand down. The war is lost. We are offering a surrender, and will negotiate terms… he glanced at the crestfallen soldiers surrounding him, after both sides have had time to grieve for the fallen.


Well-Known Member
Operation Mortem Ostium, Epilogue

The language of sentient beings is war.

He had moved past the entry to the crypt, expecting the Mutons at the door to attack him. But they’d simply knelt at his feet, recognizing the victor. He left them to it.

It's a language that needs no translation. When humanity found we weren’t alone in the universe, the first word uttered was a gunshot. The first sentence was suppressive fire. The first book, a full-on war.

Climbing the steps, avoiding Alan’s body once again. Alone in the passage that had led him to his nemesis.

And now, the war is won. All the lives lost, all the bodies ruined and mangled in the course… the price has been paid. This broken world is what we’ve purchased.

The door slid open, admitting him to the garden. Bonnie, lying against the wall beside him, lifted her head wearily. She smiled, seeing him alive, then her face fell slightly. “Where’s Alan?”

Samuel looked at her for a moment, then sighed, and began walking forward again. The question is, what do we do with this product? How do we deal with the ills we’ve reaped? Do we burn those who caused them?

Further in, he found both Arthur and Ignium seated on the ground, weapons lying in the dirt beside them. The two were clearly exhausted, and both had cuts rent in their armor. But both were alive. Arthur stood as Samuel approached, nodding. Ignium merely looked up and, seeing the Aerotrooper and Bonnie approaching, hung his head in defeat.

“I will cede to your will,” he mumbled. “Do what you must.”

The Russian’s eyes were glazed behind his helmet. Do we burn… or do we let those weeds live? Thrive, even. If we exterminate, we’re no better than those we threw off.

He walked away. Arthur glanced between him and the prostate Avatar before moving after his friend, slightly limping. Ignium looked up in surprise as Bonnie passed, considering what he was to do now. Wordlessly, he stood, and began following, sheathing his blade on his back.

No. We started this war because we knew we were better than them. On the cusp of victory, after all we’ve lost, after all the friends that fell, the families torn apart… turning back on that… that would be heresy.

The entrance to the garden had been locked behind them. To Samuel’s surprise, Ignium walked forth with the passcode. And as the door slid open, the four were silhouetted by fake sunlight.

We are humanity. We don’t conquer. We don’t oppress. We liberate.

And we decide our own damn future.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, MarineAvenger, and ZombieSplitter53: “Lazarus” - Part 1

March 22nd - Two Days Post-Liberation - 2038 A.D.

Yakone stood before the hologlobe in the Avenger’s bridge. Outside the windows, the blue orb that the crew called home was coming back into view - beginning to grow large enough that it dwarfed the visual range the XCOM flagship afforded. Being here - at the forefront of it all - Yakone felt out of place. This wasn’t how things were meant to be, she felt down to the core of her being. Her vanguard was a different sort of frontline. She fought, confident in the commands of her leader. Her mother. But she’d been forced to deal over the past fifty hours. With only the guiding voice of her Reflection to whisper in her ear, the Marauding Crusader had put away those blades of her, and begun the process of negotiations with the new High Commander of the Ethereal Protectorate.

There was still much to be done. All Yakone had done was initiate the process. The terms of the Ethereal Protectorate’s surrender currently included the withdrawal of all combat forces from Earth, as quickly as possible. They would leave behind their robotic workers and such, by Lily’s injunction. The Chief Engineer had reasoned that the Ethereals had plenty of such in their capital, and did not need the ones on Earth. Humanity did. There were nations to rebuild: a process that would certainly take years on its own. A long haul that Atka’s vision of an enduring XCOM would ensure went smoothly. Yakone had a general idea of what her mother had wanted. But she didn’t want to be the one to enact that ‘Marshall Plan’.

I’d much rather you were there to put the wheels of change into motion yourself, Yakone mentally told her Reflection. Leading is your thing. This time, Atka did not protest - did not remind Yakone of how improbable it was that she could be saved. For the one person Yakone had confided in about the enduring consciousness of her mother was Patrem, who had sensed the presence of a second mind lingering around the acting Commander. He had an idea of what could be done. I don’t know if it’ll work the way he hoped, but… it’s worth a shot. We just need the right people to help us.

“Lily.” Yakone’s voice broke the somber silence on the deck. “I’m going downstairs. Make sure the descent goes smoothly. Take us to Matterhorn.” Without further words, the coat-clad Inuit-caucasian climbed into the gravity lift and descended.

An-Yi watched her go, her gaze lingering on the elevator shaft for awhile. I hope she’ll be alright… she’s been so withdrawn, she thought, unknowing of the true reason Yakone was keeping to herself. The wielder of the Reflection that contained hope - in more ways than one - was avoiding getting the hopes of others up for nothing.

Making her way to the medical bay, Yakone brought the Medical Chief aside. “I need to speak with you,” she told him abruptly, motioning for him to follow her into his office - out of earshot of the injured.

Kai stood where she had stopped him blinking a few times before he cleared his throat and followed after as he got over the shock of the new Commander appearing out of nowhere. He closed the door behind him and the Medical Chief stared at Yakone a bit. “So… you sick or something? What’s with the secrecy?”

“...explaining it is going to be rather difficult. It’d be easier to show you.” Yakone closed her eyes for a moment, drawing upon the hope she was clinging to in order to summon Blue Liberty. The Reflection - an astronaut with Roman-style armor on the shoulders and other critical points - slowly reached up, removing her helmet to reveal Atka’s features. “You might be able to help me with something. There’s still a chance. She’s still here, so to speak.”

Kai stared at Atka’s features for several moments and sighed. “I rue the day that I am not shocked by these kinds of things anymore. But what do you expect me to do? I can’t reverse death.”

I’m not dead. Not in the technical sense, anyway. My consciousness is still here… and the most unlikely of sources presented a solution to my predicament, Atka informed Kai. Apparently, Patrem is in an incomplete Avatar body - one that hadn’t received the genetic infusion that would allow it to hold two major colors. That’s had adverse effects on him, but he proposed the possibility that if a similar form were produced, and my consciousness could be transferred into it… that would be more suitable for me.

“So, let me see if I got this straight. You, Yakone, have been harboring the consciousness of your near-dead mother ever since the final mission in the very small hope that me, completely unskilled in the Avatar technique could complete a surgery never before attempted in the history of all known medical history. That about sum things up?” The doctor asked with a raised eyebrow as she leaned against the wall.

“I need your help because you have samples of her DNA,” Yakone responded, shaking her head. “I’m planning to go to Shen’lutusus and his Exalt allies for the main process - though I imagine they could make use of your abilities.”

“Oh… well then…” Scratching his head at his somewhat downplayed role, he shrugged. “I have no qualms helping I suppose. No reason to.”

“Let’s get this started then… we’ll need samples ready for Shen when we touch down. I’m going to contact him and let him know the situation,” Yakone said, rushing off to do so.

“Thanks for your help Kai, we really appreciate your apart of the team Kai…” Shaking his head, the Doctor left his office to go retrieve what he had from the cryo-storage systems.


On the monitor before Yakone, oddly zoomed in so it only showed his masked face, Shen slowly nodded his head. “Interesting… very interesting. And quite uncommon, even among my… my people,” he said in a tired-sounding voice, hesitating a bit on the last words. “I never imagined purposely making what would technically be an incomplete Avatar, but the theory is sound. I can not guarantee success, but it certainly does so like our best shot. And, of course, my labs are open to you. I owe your mother at least that much for what she has done.”

“Thank you,” Yakone responded gratefully. “I’m hopeful that the knowledge of genetic manipulation that you and the Episcopo family share will heighten our chances of pulling this off. One of my biologists will be helping you with the process… he’ll meet up with you when he lands.” The acting Commander took a deep breath. “I’m putting my faith in you. Let’s hope this works.” The Inuit-Caucasian woman ended the call, and made her way back to the deck - wanting to insulate herself with her duties to distract from a situation that was now out of her hands.


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, MarineAvenger, and ZombieSplitter53: “Lazarus” - Part 2

March 25th - Five Days Post-Liberation - 2038 A.D.

The facility that was the nexus of Shen’lutusus’s laboratories - and indeed was the center objective of all Ethereal research on the planet Earth - contained the resources necessary to put together an Avatar. Long-since vacated of human test subjects, however, it had taken on a much less menacing tone that structures XCOM had broken into in the past. Instead, the room was brightly lit, with columns of shaded genetic fluids pushing into the corners. Much of the equipment had been cleared out, though recently one large vat laid flat had been put back into the chamber. It was larger than the space needed for a humanoid body, but much of either side of the pool-like container was filled with machinery. In the center of the biological ‘bath’ was a ‘mold’ shape for where a subject could be created.

Presently, that space was filled by an androgynous human form. Eyes closed, body still, it was the epitome of a template - an incomplete specimen meant to have genetic code built over it. Verona Episcopo peered over the subject, her orange eyes darting back and forth in contemplation. “I must admit, despite having raided some of your facilities personally and gotten an even bigger taste of what your species is capable of during time allied with you and XCOM… I’m still surprised at how effortless you can mold genetics,” Vee congratulated her Ethereal companion in the room. “Though I feel… you should be using that knowledge to keep yourself together.”

Shen slowly looked over to her, the strain of moving to much to be done at this point without careful assistance from telekinesis. She did not see his smile behind his mask, but she could hear a bit of levity in his tone. “I don’t think that would be proper, dear. Though if that is concern for my well being, I appreciate it. Don’t worry, though. I believe I have enough time to finish what needs to be done.”

Verona sighed. “If that’s your prerogative.” She glanced over at the XCOM doctor present. “I believe it is all set up now. You can begin infusing her DNA into the template.” Kai nodded and he brought out the sample, taking it out of the vial via his psionics. Bringing it to her body, he placed the crimson liquid against the template and slowly began delicately infusing the tiny structure all throughout the hollow ‘corpse’.

Shen watched the process, and let out a soft sigh. “As delicate as this is, it is likely the easy part. Getting a disembodied soul to attach to it? Much harder than it sounds.”

Yakone nodded from the sidelines. “I know. But I have to try.” You might say you’re ready to pass on, but I’m not ready to let you go. To lose you, when you still have so much left to live for.

As Atka’s DNA flowed into the template, its features began to change. Like clay being molded, flesh stretched and softened, bones and tendons shifted into place, and the previously startlingly-featureless body began to look more and more like the Inuit woman - until the form before the scientists was the spitting image of her - save for hair that was now alabaster-white. Soon enough, the first step was complete. The second would be much more difficult.

The daughter stepped forward. “I guess it’s my turn, huh?” She held a hand firmly over her heart, steadying its rapid pulse. I can do this. I have to. Blue Liberty formed in front of Yakone. For a moment, Blue World and Libertas separated from one another - and the armor of the astronaut-thoughtform detached in a manner similar to how Fortis’ weapons would sometimes encircle Leon. Yakone departed from her own body, activating her override in order to step out as a psionic ghost and interact with Atka directly. She took ahold of her mother’s hand, and the psionic spirit immediately began to decay from detachment from a vessel. Just hold on. I’ll get you through this, I swear.

Pulling Atka over to the body below, Yakone drifted through the air, floating in a manner that seemed almost graceful - if not for the urgency in her movements. Once in close proximity to the vessel, Yakone gently grabbed her mother’s shoulders, and lowered her downwards. The spirit of Atka descended beneath the waters of the Avatar vat, causing them to shine brightly enough that light glittered off the surface as if illuminated by the rays of the Sun. The form below was no longer visible. Yakone ethereally stepped back, and then retreated into her own body.

“Now, rise,” she whispered hopefully when she regained her senses, as if a priest declaring a baptism complete. For awhile, nothing except the shimmering upon the still water occurred. A full minute ticked painfully by, feeling as if an eternity for all those invested in the outcome. Verona monitored the status of the body, checking for brainwaves and assessing how the body was accepting the intellect placed inside it. Whatever the results were, though, she had promised not to say anything until a certain outcome had been reached. The collective breath of those in the room was held tight, seized by the hand of fear.

And then, the light faded. The waters became transparent again, revealing the form beneath. Nothing, for a moment. Then, movement. The incomplete Avatar sat up, liquid rolling off her form. Her eyes opened, one moment a blank gray - and then in the next, shifting to a brilliant cornflower blue. Silence. Then, words in a whisper. “Yakone…”

The daughter was immediately at her mother’s side, unable to stop tears of joy and relief from flowing down the sides of her face. “Good morning, mom,” Yakone whispered back, taking ahold of her mother’s hands again. “I knew it could be done.”

“You believed even when I did not, when I was ready to pass on,” Atka murmured, resting her head against her daughter’s. “You’re more deserving of Blue World than I am, in the end. I’ll pass that torch of hope onto you.”

“The gift’s appreciated, but don’t count yourself out so easily. I shouldn’t need to remind you how much you’ve changed for the better over these past few months,” Yakone muttered sincerely.

The reborn Inuit woman smiled. “No. You don’t,” she admitted, rising to her feet.

Slowly, a smirk etched itself onto Yakone’s features. “Let’s get you some clothes,” she noted slyly.

The XCOM Commander’s eyes widened, as she registered her nakedness. “R-R-Right…” She glared at Verona. “Have some dignity…”

Vee rolled her eyes, taking them off of Atka’s form. “Alright, alright. I’ll go get your clothes. Ungrateful…” she muttered something else under her breath, walking out of the room to retrieve some attire for the revived Liberator.

Kai kept his eyes averted, clearing his throat. “Despite Lily’s help, I doubt looking would be well advised on my part longer than I had to. It’s nice to have you back Commander…” Kai noted with a hint of nervousness.

“There really is something quite charming about humans and modesty. I suppose it creates a bit of enticement for the nude form that makes it all the more desirable. At any rate, it is time we finish the procedure.” He looked to the side, and a large surgical bone saw floated into his hand. “We probably should have done this before you woke up, but better late than never. The arm or the leg first?”

“Hilarious,” Atka responded. Her forehead creased, as if she was trying to reach out with something beyond her own limbs to bat the saw away. She glanced over at Blue Liberty. “That’s… going to take some getting used to.”

Yakone chuckled. “Seems like I’m better than you, now.”

“Combat-wise… I have to concede that point,” Atka confessed with a defeated smile.


On the Avenger’s deck, a multitude of XCOM staff had been called to assemble by the acting Commander. A reason hadn’t been given as to why. Qamut leaned against the railing, glancing off into the evening horizon. Looking in the opposite direction towards the Genesis Commander and the others brought here - including Morrigan, Alexis, Ayame, Bradford, Leon, Gwen, Nouja, the Mavericks, Joseph, and Veronica - Kevin asked Desmond, “What do you think Yakone wants us all up here for?”

The now gray eyed man shrugged, the Genesis Commander wearing an outfit meant to keep him somewhat hidden, wearing a black cloak over a black shirt and matching color pants with combat boots. His cloak has a maroon lining on the collar and the inside of the cloak was completely the dark reddish color. Desmond not having shaved for several days, leaving him with a scraggly stubble and his hair had begun to grow out, now more gray than it had been. Despite having lost his psionics -all except some minor telekinesis that seemed to be the only thing spared since he wasn’t in complete desperation- the man had not fallen as far as he could have dealing with his love’s death, though largely ignored any show of sympathy and had kept secluded until he had been summoned.


Operator 21O
Staff member
DarkGemini24601, MarineAvenger, and ZombieSplitter53: “Lazarus” - Part 3

Soon enough, the acting Commander showed herself. Yakone straightened her blue plaid coat as the Skyranger’s lift finished carrying her up. Approaching the others as they stood to attention, Yakone removed the pin from her jacket that signified her as Commander of XCOM. “I’ve come here to resign,” Yakone stated bluntly.

Amongst the murmurs of the crowd, Morrigan stepped forward. “But… you can’t! With Atka… who is going to... Command… Yakone, we need you more then ever now! There is so much more to do!”

A smile crept across Yakone’s features. “That’s because I’m restoring it to who it belongs to.” From behind the XCOM dropship stepped out a woman clad in a familiar white shirt, brown khakis, and black formal jacket. Yakone passed the Commander’s pin to Atka, who placed it back on her own coat. The now white-haired Inuit woman approached the others, a quiet smile on her face. “Hello again.”

Everyone stared in disbelief, unsure what to say. Ayame broke the silence with a, “Holy crap… explain maybe?”

And so Atka and Yakone did, to the best of their ability. From the point in which Atka had seemingly passed on in the final battle against Vekinte, up until her revival in the laboratories of Matterhorn. “It doesn’t… completely sit right with me,” Atka acknowledged, “but Yakone’s reminded me time and again that it would be wrong to leave you all like this. Although I have nothing but contempt for the Avatar Project…”

“...at least we can put that research to some good use for once,” Yakone finished, crossing her arms in certainty.

Ayame’s eyes darted about, thinking of the troubling thoughts she had with Anna over the Avatars. Ultimately, however, she smiled. “Welcome back, Commander!” she shouted, and was supported by a round of cheers.

“It’s good to be back,” Atka replied.

Alexis wiped a tear from her eye, and sidled through the crowd, reaching Desmond and giving him a small shove. “What are you waiting for?”

Desmond looked down at Alexis, his collar high enough it obscured half his face so it made his sad stare more sinister than it was intended to be. Instead, he turned away and began to walk away from the crowd rather than go directly for Atka, looking more like a skulking bear than a happy man.

The Inuit woman looked in his direction, her expression becoming one of concern. “...Desmond?” she spoke his name questioningly.

Joe followed her gaze, and quickly went after him, catching up just as he got to the end of the room. “Hey, where the hell are you going?”

“Why was I not told about this?” Desmond asked, not exactly to Joe but more as a general statement of the question.

“I don’t know,” Joe answered. “From what they said, it sounds like it was a long shot. I wasn’t told, and I bet no one else gathered here was. But what does that matter? She’s back now, and you’re just going to walk away? This is a miracle. Treat it as such.”

“When Veronica was returned to you were you keen on meeting her in front of a deck full of eyes? I would like my privacy when I speak to her again. You all enjoy your time now. I still have matters to tend to on my own anyways. Some promises I still need to keep.” Without waiting for a chance to have Joe make a counter-argument, Desmond was already on the move again.

Joe squeezed his hands tightly. “Damn it, Desmond. Why can’t you…” He held a hand to his forehead and let out a grim laugh. “Every time I talk to him, it seems to go this way. Almost like I should take a hint…” He shook his head, and returned to the others, hoping Desmond knew what he was doing.


About an hour after everyone got their turn with their newly brought back hero, there was still the lingering feeling of Desmond’s rather abrupt departure. It was not hard to find out the location of where he had gone, and as Atka entered the comms room, the man was just ending off a conversation. He turned, staring at the Inuit woman for several moments. “It’s almost too surreal.” he admitted a bit softly.

“That’s no excuse to run away. I thought you’d know better by now,” Atka responded, walking up to him.

“If it’s all the same to you, I wasn’t about to march right up to you and sweep you off your feet with everyone there like that. Call me selfish, but I wanted my time with you alone.” Sighing, he leaned back against the console and placed his knuckle against his chin. “Church has done as I instructed and the dissolution of Genesis is already underway. In case any small lingering doubts remained.” His tone wasn’t accusatory.

“You owe Chambers some reassurance… I think he’s got the impression you hate his guts now,” Atka muttered with a shake of her head. “And I took you at your word. I hope your soldiers can help the returning nations rebuild their armies and infrastructure. Might as well make some use of the network the Coalition used to have.”

“Already ahead of you on that.” Tapping his foot a bit, Desmond tried to think of the right way to present his next words. “As for the matter of Chambers… I know the impression I give. I want to think that everything could go back to being dandy but Kevin is a different matter then him. Two entirely different close friendships came from the two. I don’t exactly know how to apologize yet to him. Sometimes I think he isn’t justified not hating me, after all: the betrayal I did to him was almost as severe as the one to you, given how high in esteem I held his friendship in those days so long ago.”

“You’re going to have to figure out something. I imagine I’ll be visiting Alexis plenty, and by extension him. If you plan to stay around me, you’ll come face to face with Joseph time and again,” Atka cautioned him.

Guilt plagued Desmond’s softened features, and his eyes closed, the man crossing his arms underneath his cloak. “After the fight was over, I planned on running away again. Losing you dealt me a blow greater than any Ethereal could do to me psionically or physically. My plan was to just… wander, without a cause. Stay in contact with Yakone just enough not to seem too distant. I lost a part of myself when I thought you were gone forever. I don’t exactly articulate things perfectly most of the time but… make no mistake, having you back has made me happier then I ever have been.”

Atka sighed. “Desmond… I told you to live when I thought it was over for me, not to pretend to continue on life.” She stepped closer to her fellow old soldier, placing a hand on his cheek. “Let me in more. Let others in. You’ve closed yourself off for so long during your time in ADVENT that I think you’ve forgotten how to open up the doors of your heart again. Give me a chance to teach you how again.”

His eyes opened slowly, and he reached his hand up, putting it over the Inuit woman’s. Despite her words, he still managed a chuckle. “You lost some of that famed intelligence when you got killed if you think living a life without you in it would be doing anything other than pretending to live. I have to say… at least you can hold the title proudly of being the only person to get under my skin so entirely with her antics.” The older man noted with a small hint of humor.

“I’ll accept that title as much as I’ve come to accept ‘La Liberador’,” Atka allowed, smiling softly. “I’m grateful to Yakone for giving me this second chance.”

“Suppose it makes you even for delivering her in the first place.” That spark of humor seemed to wink out a bit, worry causing creases to form on Desmond’s features. “I hope I can make things up to her. I’ve missed so much of her life. I just hope having me around now can at least start to make up for the worst mistake in my life.” After a few moments of internal debate, he reached down and this time did swoop Atka up in his arms, not having lost any of the strength twenty years and genetic modification had honed. “And not just to my daughter. To my one and only love in the world too.”

“It’s my responsibility to give back some of the attention I’ve neglecting giving her too, you know,” Atka responded, holding onto Desmond tightly. “And I have to pay you back for making you think I was gone. I can think of one reward…”

“Going to keep me in suspense being so cryptic like that?” The old Walker asked with a slight suppressed laugh.

“I’ll give you a hint,” Atka offered. “It’s something I haven’t gotten to do in twenty… long years.”

“Fine, fine, but only on one condition that you must swear to.” Desmond retorted with a wry grin.

“What might that be?” Atka inquired.

“I’m not going to wait on this again until something else comes and ruins plans. I will make you my wife, Ipiktok.” Desmond assured her with utmost certainty.

“So be it,” Atka acquiesced with a smile.


Game Master
Staff member
Dahlexpert & ZombieSplitter53
Big Brother, Little Sister
Part One

On board the Avenger
Soldier barracks

Luke looked at his helmet and how war torn it was. He saw the cracks on it and how beaten up it was. "Heh, look at it. I've been through a lot huh? And now it's over." Luke put his helmet next to his trophy collection.

Lilith opened the door, and looked at Luke. "Hey Luke, you okay?"

"You know, I've been fighting all my life, and now I don't have to. It's strange."

"I understand. Look Luke, now that this is over, you can start your family and actually be a normal person for once. Isn't that what you want?"

"Mr. Van Dam?" A familiar blonde on the short side peaked her head through the open door. "Do you have a minute or... two?"

"You know me, come on now. I'm not old enough to be called mister. And yes, I have a minute what is it?"

Brigid rubbed her wrists nervously as she stepped in, looking up at Lilith, then back to Luke. "I, uh... uh... heard a rumor that... you're leaving. You, and Ms... and Alexis."

"Hmm, word travels fast, that's the one constant here. Yes sunshine, I'm leaving with Alexis,. With the war now over and me having a home in Matterhorn, which I haven't seen in months, I want to see my home first."

"Oh..." Brigid turned her head down. "When... will you be coming back?"

Luke looked down and looked at his aunt. Lilith left the room and waited outside. Luke took a knee in front of Brigid. "That's the thing, sunshine... I... I'm not coming back. Not this time."

"I was afraid you were going to say that..." Brigid sniffed, not looking up, not wanting him to see her tears. "Will... will you invite me to your wedding at least?"

"Of course I will, why would I not? Look Brigid, I do love you. You're like the little sister I wish I had. The reason I didn't want to tell you is because I didn't want to upset you." Luke brought Brigid close to him and hugged her. "I don't want to leave you, but I have to. Do you understand?"

Brigid nodded her head. "I understand. And... and I want you to go and be happy. I'm... just going to miss you. You... you were like a brother to me. The special kind that spoils me. You treated me like a kind sometimes... but it was okay when you did it for some reason."

"Hmm, guess I would make for a big brother. Speaking of spoiling you, I did get you something." Luke let go of Brigid, and went into his dresser and pulled out a large case. Luke opened it and it was a flute with a butterfly engraving on it. Next to it was a necklace of what looked like two wolves making a ying-yang symbol. "Here Brigid, this is yours, as a final present from me."

"Whoa... cool." Brigid took it and looked it over lovingly. "But... what's it for? You already got me a birthday present."

"I know. This is a more permanent one. If you grow bigger, you may out grow of that bracelet. This necklace and flute are made for adults. This way, you will always have it with you forever, you understand?"

"Wow, I..." Brigid wiped her eyes, and let out a soft sob. "Thank you, Luke... thank you so much."

Luke started to get some tears falling down his face. "Yeah, don't mention it sunshine." He hugged Brigid again. "I'm gonna miss you more then you think."

Brigid laughed softly. "That makes me happy. But... but I'll ask mom to let me visit, okay? I-I bet, with all the technology and stuff left behind, travel will be much easier now. And... and I want to see all of your babies, okay?"

"Yeah, alright little one, I'm sure that they will be happy to see you." Luke stood up and started to leave the room, but Looked back at Brigid. "Look Brigid, I'm only going to be here a few more days, then I'm leaving, so we have a little bit of time together."

Brigid nodded. "While we're docked, Mom and I were going to relax on the top of the ship. You want to come?"

"Heh sure, why not? I can use a distraction." As Luke opened the door, Lilith was standing next to it.

"Hey you two, hope you had a good talk."

Luke nodded his head."Yeah, we were going to the top of the ship. Mind joining us?"

"Heh, I don't see why not. Gives me something to do."

They all headed to one of the lifts, which quickly made its way up. "What are you going to do now, Lilith? Are you staying with XCOM, or going off on your own too?"

"Well, that's the question. I'm not fully sure. For years, I wanted to see the aliens dead, and now that they are, I'm not sure what to do. I guess I can stay in XCOM. Not much for me out there, but first thing on my to do list is to get my skin back to it's natural color."

"Oh, I know!" Brigid clapped her hands together. "There is that nice Elder guy that helped save the Commander. Why not ask him for help? Or a job?!"

"Hum, I think I spent enough time working with ADVENT, but Shen might need help with repairs of the city, most of which was caused by you." Lilith looked at Luke

"Heh heh we were at war, it was a n attack. I wasn't thinking about property damage."

"And yet his museum is still in one peace, not one trace of soot or ash or plasma rounds. Which means, boy, you have restraint when you want to." Lilith could see Luke getting nervous, and changed the topic. "Anyway, me working for Shen might be good for me. I get to live in the same city as my boy and his soon be wife. And I will more then likely be given a little bit more freedom to lead teams to help take out bandits and so on."
Last edited:


Game Master
Staff member
Dahlexpert & ZombieSplitter53
Big Brother, Little Sister
Part Two

"Luke, Lilith!" Morrigan walked over as they stepped off the lift. "Brigid mentioned she was going to see you. I'm glad you could join us."

"Yeah, good to see you too Red. Heh, didn't think you would try and find us. I knew Sunshine here would be worried. It's nice to see I made a good impact on you."

Morrigan scrunched her nose and folded her arms. "What are you talking about. You're a good friend, a good ally, and you've always been good to my daughter. Why wouldn't I... not want to enjoy one last bit of time with you?"

"Heh, Red, we will be in the city, so you know where to find us. I mean, Luke and Alex will have their apartment. Me, well... I need to find a home. That shouldn't be hard to find. But what about you and Brigid? What will you do?"

Morrigan sighed, and walked over to where she was seated before, sitting back down and starring at the clear blue sky. "Mark and I had a long talk about it. Then we had the same talk with Brigid. Though it... really wasn't that long of a talk. We were all pretty happy with the decision." She looked over. "We're staying here for as long as Atka and Yakone need us. I... I'm starting to think this soldier thing... isn't so bad if you can avoid getting killed."

"Heh heh. Yeah, being soldier is tough, but traveling all over the world is fun and all. And with no aliens, dealing with bandits should be really easy."

"Unless you run into the smart ones." Luke intervened. "Trust me, I fought some smart bandits, and they can be just as deadly as ADVENT soldiers. Their the ones that run most territories in the outlands and would have no trouble attacking caravans or settlements out right. Most of their leaders are psions too, so watch yourself."

Morrigan motioned for them to sit with her. "Well, you've given me combat training and advice. Give me some advice for dealing with these bandits. Anything you can tell me would be great."

"They saying take the head off the snake usually works, but kill the leader and another will rise up. So take out their leaders first, but also take out their scouts. They're usually scavenging the old ruins. And more importantly, if you raid on camp, they will know about it and will hunt you down for it. So play it smart and take whatever you can from them. They usually have maps on certain areas they plan on attacking."

"So in short, do what we did to ADVENT and you will be just fine."

Morrigan chuckled. "Never thought this freedom fighter organization would train me to be a bandit hunter." She glanced over at the pair. "I'm... not the only one who is going to miss you two, you know?"

"Heh, I'm going to miss you two Red. I mean, yes, you didn't trust me your first day here like a lot of others. But you became my first friend here and I'm glad I could become your friend and sort of mentor. I'm glad to have met you Morrigan and you are always welcome to visit us."

"Thanks." Morrigan thought about it, and laughed. "That really is weird, huh? I've learned so much from you, and I was such a bitch to you at first. Uh... mind my language, Brigid." Brigid only rolled her eyes, and Morrigan continued. "I was so mean, and look how much you and Luke have done for us. Oh... if I could go back in time, I would box my own ears."

"It's fine my friend. After what ADVENT did to you, I understand. You had every right to not trust me. Besides, what happens happens, so I'm not mad at you. I never really was. So we're fine friend."

"Good." Morrigan laid back and stared up at the sky. "Nice day."

Brigid did the same, closing her eyes and smiling. "Hey, Luke?"

Luke looked at the sky, then back down to Brigid." Yeah Brigid? What is it?"

"Do you... want a boy first? Or a girl?"

"Heh, that's the question. If I had a choice, most likely a boy. But I don't care which really. But if I had a daughter, I would like for her to be like you. OR Alexis and her sister... but more like you."

Brigid giggled. "And maybe I'll have a son some day, and he'll be just like you. That would be weird, being the mom to someone like someone who was like my older brother or something, but it would be totally cool to. Maybe I'll name my son... Lucas. Or name a daughter Lily."

"Heh, I appreciate it little one, but don't be thinking about kids at all yet. But I do appreciate the settlement." Luke picked up Brigid and kissed her cheek. "My final present to you." Luke then started to pepper her with kisses.

"Alright, Romeo, you don't want Alexis getting jealous, do you?"

"No." Luke put Brigid down and rubbed her head.

Morrigan stood up next to her daughter, and held out her arm to Luke and Lilith. "It has been a pleasure to work with you."

Luke shook Morrgian's hand, while Lilith held the back of it. "The pleasure has been ours friend. I will miss both you and you're daughter."

"Yeah, Red, it's been fun beating aliens with you. Hopefully we'll do the same with bandits."

Morrigan nodded. "And no matter where we go, we'll always be brothers and sisters in arms." She laid back down, and closed her eyes. "But for now... we are victorious soldiers enjoying the sun."

"Yep, I can agree to that. I have twenty years of resting to catch up on."

I can agree with that. It's going to be smooth sailing from this day forward."
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
There are some thing that last forever

On board the Avenger
Central Community Lounge

Ayame had the entire lounge to herself, and was using the peace and quiet to relax a little. With all the celebrations and congratulations, she felt like she had been up for days. So she laid on the couch, eyes shut, thinking of all the friends she had made and the adventure she had taken with XCOM.

Before she can fully rest someone dive bombs on to the seat next to her." Hello Ayame." Luke said waking her up.

Lilith is right behind him shaking her head." Hay Ayame, sorry about Luke he couldn't help himself."

Ayame chuckled. "No, no, it's fine. Just... revisiting memories. Want to make sure I log them away so I can look on them and smile for a long time to come." She sat up and nudged Luke's arm. "How you doin', you sly hunk of man meat."

"Well been getting ready to leave actually, all ready said my goodbye to Brigid. Now there's you."

"Heh yea, we couldn't say just leave without saying goodbye to you."

"Well, I sure as hell hope not." Ayame leaned back. "Matterhorn, right? Are you moving in with them, Lilith?"

"Yeah, figure I can become head of security there as well as change my skin back to what it used to be."

It's about time, been waiting for you to do that."

Ayame folded her arms and have Lilith a smug smile. "I thought you didn't care about appearances or none of that."

"I don’t, but I would like to have my natural color back.

Ayame have her a light punch on the arm. "Just messing with you, grey. Last thing you need is people judging you as a former ADVENT dog when you were an XCOM wolf that helped save the world. But, uh... how you going to do it? I guess a really good tan isn't what you have in mind."

"Heh the same people that did this to me will be the same people to fix me, if not then." Lilith looked at Luke

"Then I will just have to convince them otherwise."

Ayame held up her hands. "Whoa there, tiger. No point starting another war. I'm sure there a plenty of human scientists that can do that. And I'm sure you aren't the only person who'll be looking for the same thing. Maybe you'll be able to get help in Matterhorn. You'll be there anyway, right?

"That's the plan anyway, I can't wait to get red of this gray and finally be me again. And don't worry Ayame Luke wasn't going to do anything drastic right boy."

"Yea yea, say Ayame have you ever tasted the blood of a red psion before?"

Ayame laughed. "Well, that's kinda random. No, I can't say that I have. But I'm not that kinda Vampire, dude. I live off of life energy, not blood."

"Well damn, and here I was offering you a red psion to try out. I mean why not right."

"Ayame i'm sorry for him, his curiosity is sort of getting the better of him."

Ayame shrugged. "Well, I haven't... 'eaten' today if you're offering. Do you really want to do it?"

"Sure why not, i'm curious how this works with you. Also since you won't get another opportunity why not."

Lilith shakes her head. "Ayame please don't drain Luke, i'm sure he has a few words for you once your done with him."

Ayame nodded. "Daily consumption means I don't even have the room to store enough energy to drain him, even if that was possible with the kind of vitality he's probably packing." She stood up, motioning for Luke to stay seated so they could remain at eye level. She stepped in front of him and placed her hands on his shoulders "You ready?"

Luke smiled at Ayame. "As ready as I'll ever be, take as much as you like."

Ayame grinned. "Just remember, you asked for it." She brought their faces close together, their noses practically touching. Her eyes slowly turned white, and she opened her mouth. Moments later, a flow of visible essence, white with a tinge of blue, flowed out of Luke's mouth and into Ayame's. The forming could feel his energy slowly draining.

Lilith looked at it in aw, she couden't describe what she was seeing. For Luke he can feel his energy being drained out of him, once it was done Luke felt a bit out of it. "Ugh, well that was a very interesting experience."

"Yeah, I'll... erp, say." Ayame held her stomach tightly, dropping to a knee. "Just... gimme a sec..."

"Wait Ayame, what's wrong, I figured that you would be fine i mean you have done this to other people right?"

Ayame chuckled, taking several deep breaths before rising to her feet. "I'm okay. I just... man, you... you're energy is some of the richest I've ever had. The closest I've had is from a green psion, but yours... I underestimated you."

Luke layed his head on a nearby pillow." Yea that's good to know, don't get used to it i'm actually tired now. Wait you said green psion did you do this to Alexis to."

Ayame had to actually think about it. "Um... I don't think so. Though I did with Yakone. She and her mother were the first to find out about me, and for a while, Yakone was my main source of essence."

"Well that's nice to know, say i'm gonna rest for a bit you two go ahead and handle your businesses." Luke turned over and his face was facing the otherwise of the coach."

Lilith looked at Luke and back at Ayame."Well I think you tired him out."

"Yeah, well... you'd think after all this time, I'd be able to control it more, but here we are." Ayame stepped in front of Lilith. "You know... I'm not sure if I've ever told you how proud your ancestors would be of you, Lilith."

"I have a feeling they would be more proud of Luke then me, I wen't ageist everything we stood for but I have a feeling my people if they were still alive would be proud of me and Luke. Heh more so him for all the monster he killed."

Ayame wagged a finger. "Don't sell yourself short. You fought too, and helped ready all of the Matterhorn troops for the siege. You, Lilith, should be proud of yourself, and that's that."

"Heh, yea it seems that my role it was saposed to be with my clan still holds now. If my people was around I would be I would be training the young, the ones that are Brigids age. I be training them on how to hunt collect berry's and teaching them which plans are poisons or not and so on."

Ayame did that. "Well... why waste that potential? Sounds to me like you'd be wasting your gift just being a guard or some random soldier. Maybe you'd make a great instructor. Teach people the way of your people. Let the legacy of the Van Dams live on, not just through Luke's children, but with the wisdom you spread."

"Heh that sounds like a good idea, I could teach others to fight like my people and other tactic. That sounds like a good way to spend my retirement."

"Good." Ayame nodded in satisfaction. "As for me..." She scrunched her nose in thought. "Besides sticking with Tomislav, I'm not sure. But I've never been sure what I'm going to do. Something usually just comes up."

"Heh well I would sagest try starting a family, but as a vampire i'm not sure how that's possible. Since your undead and all."

Ayame nodded. "There is always adoption. I just..." She slowly frowned, and looked away. "I-I don't... think that is a good idea. I... but of course, if Tomislav wanted to, I would... no matter... how hard it might be."

"Well there are plenty of kids in the waist land that need loving parents, but do whatever makes you happy Ayame god knows after how many years you've been alive you deserve a moment of happiness."

Ayame kept her head turned away. "Will... that make me happy? Having a kid will make me happy? What about... losing a kid? Watching him... die..."

"Remember what you said about me, and me spreading my wisdom. You could do that for many children throughout your life, you could help others like you did here."

Ayame let out a long breath. "You know... years ago... centuries ago, I made a friend. A kid. He was five... maybe six. He wasn't sure, since he was orphaned at a really young age. I felt sorry, and I gave him a hand out. Then another. Then every time I saw him. The next thing I knew, I was taking care of him. Encouraging him, and trying to help him make something of himself... with my help. Do you want to know what happened to him?"

"Knowing how these story's go, i'm guessing something bad. So he's ether dead or something went very wrong."

Ayame chuckled grimly. "Well, of course he died. This was hundreds of years ago. The thing is, he died... when he was eighty-nine. He died of old age. He died a proud man, and one that made me very proud." She sunk back onto her seat. "That's the problem with being immortal, one people don't really think about. You live on while... everyone dies. And I honor them as best as I can, and I love Tomislav with all my heart. But... someday, he'll die... and I'll have to move on without him. I just... at times like this, I actually envy normal people and their mortality."

"Humm yea guess we never relay think about that, I mean we deal with our mortality because it's everyday life. But to have that gone, to no longer fear death and watch so many other people die that's depressing."

Ayame nodded, then laughed, rubbing under her nose. "I'm sorry. You came here to say your goodbyes, and I got all depressing. I'll... give the adoption thing a thought. Like you said, there are plenty of orphans out there that could use some help. Just as long as you keep that Lilith, Combat and Survivalist Instructor, thing in mind. Deal?"

"Deal, and Ayame as long as you keep helping people then being immortal isn't so bad."

"Yeah... I guess it's not." The petite woman jumped to her feet, and held out her hand. "A pleasure to fight alongside you, Lilith."

Lilith shakes Ayame hand." And it was a pleasure to meet you Ayame. I wish you the best life for an immortal being such as yourself."

"And in a hundred years, I expect to fight someone taught in the fighting styles of Lilith Van Dam


Well-Known Member
“Anniversary” – Yakone Ipiktok

‘Time really flies, huh? It was only a year ago today that XCOM worked up the strength to face ADVENT in battle. In those days we fought from the shadows, making surgical strikes where we could in a desperate bid to wake the people up. Look at where we are now! With the blessing of Earth’s populace, we confronted the Ethereal fleet directly and broke through. We raided their lunar stronghold and took out their leader. Just like that, we grasped victory firmly in our hands.

My situation – no, our situation – has changed so much in the past year. We’ve all grown so much – too much to explain in one journal entry. I’ll let the others speak for themselves, through actions – as I will. Why make this documentation then? I guess I see it as my testimony. Actions speak louder than words, but they can be forgotten, exaggerated, or understated. Writing about the past and my life from here on out carves something permanent in stone, so to speak. So I’ll keep writing as long as I have something to say. If you’re seeing this, dear reader, then I’m glad someone will get to remember me – my failures and triumphs alike.

There was a time that I’d only want you to see me as some glorious, flawless hero – but, as I said earlier, I’ve changed. For that, I cannot thank my friends and family enough. You’ve always been there for me, and only my best has been satisfactory. Thank you – all of you. I don’t need to name names. You all know who you are, and what you’ve done for me. You’ve allowed me to become a better person throughout this conflict. Fighting together towards a common goal, we’ve united and improved upon one another. Those bonds will endure the test of time – I’m sure of it – and their formation allows me a new beginning, free from the anger and sadness of days come and gone.

So! Let’s begin at the ending, shall we? Rhetorical, of course. I’m going to do it that way; the nature of our ‘conversation’ means that while I may pour out my heart to you, we can’t truly speak to one another. That’s fine. I’m glad that you’re a captive audience anyway.

On 2039’s vernal equinox, we took the final life of this war. Vekinte fell that day, and his son succeeded him. For awhile I was in basic negotiations to get the Ethereal Protectorate off-planet as soon as possible. That mass withdrawal concluded a little after we rescued Atka from the brink of death. From there, the two Commanders got down to serious business. I wasn’t privy to all of the details, but what follows is what I know:

Evacuating the Ethereal civilians wasn’t as hard as we thought it would be. It turns out that the lunar city was actually built upon the submerged Temple Ship – you know, the craft that brought the bulk of the invasion force to Earth. With that in mind, it was easy enough to arrange for the extraterrestrials to depart from Earth entirely. Before that happened, though, we exacted some compensation: the Ethereals paid us back in knowledge. Atka got them to spill technological and navigational secrets. We ended up keeping most of the alien robots on Earth – the X.S.S. Horizon of Tomorrow has a Sectopod on it now, emblazoned with an XCOM symbol. Lily’s proud of that one, and she’ll be in heaen for the coming years, I’m sure.

In addition, the Protectorate transferred half of their battleship armada over to human control. We have the necessary knowledge to build those behemoths now. It’ll just be a matter of getting supplies and making… I think An-Yi said something about needing orbital shipyards for the bigger ones. The future’s going to be interesting, but regardless… we get a defense fleet, and they keep enough to protect themselves from the enemies they’ve made.

Speaking of which, the question soon arose: how to we respond to the warcrimes the Ethereal military are guilty of? True, only the officers were culpable – but the public’s got a lot of vengeance on their mind, and the Elder civilians would be lost without their leaders. So we made an arrangement. A week ago, an execution of the remaining Ethereal generals was held. Their decrepit bodies fell, while their psyches passed into hidden Avatar bodies in the pool below where their corpses were preserved as evidence. The world thinks that all of the Ethereal leaders are dead, and that’s a win-win for both sides. It may be underhanded, but it preserves the peace. That’s what matters most. By the time anyone reads this, the understandable war-hatred of the Ethereals will have passed, I’m sure. Time heals most wounds.

All of the blacksites have been dismantled and cleared of genetic material. We had the reborn Merenu hand over the dossiers. The families of those that were taken can finally get some resolution. Some of the names on there were inevitably relatives of XCOM staff. Although the sight of that made my blood boil, I know the time for violence has passed. The public, as I’ve said, got their retribution. We’re the cadre, the best of the best. We can bear the burden of the truth. And we’ve killed a lot of soldiers in our fight. It’s better to leave the brazier of battle quenched, lest we sully our very souls in a shortsighted grab for vengeance.

Besides, we really did need Rhea’s aide. She was true to her word. The death of her venerated prophet seemed to shattered Merenu’s confidence in the Path, and she agreed to fulfill her end of the bargain as quickly as possible. The Chryssalids were put to rest, and the proper ‘Broodkin’ are being cultivated for a return to their homeworld. Most of the other species, though… they agreed to stay with the Protectorate despite being given a choice. Despite having their mental programming removed. As we’d suspected, they were too thoroughly conditioned through decades of service to be liberated in a fortnight. Humanity was lucky to have broken free when we did, it would seem. While there are those that still see the ‘Elders’ as the pinnacle of wisdom, the shocking truth drove most of them into the light. Only a few Peacekeepers didn’t want to be a part of Earth… and we let them join the Protectorate in their stellar wanderings.

Maybe someday the Ethereal Protectorate’s vassals will reach out for their independence. Until that day though, we bid them farewell. A few days ago, the last Protectorate ship left the solar system entirely. We gave them a chance at the future in an act of gracious mercy, with a stern promise: fuck with us again, and we won’t give you another chance. I don’t know if humanity will ever run into them again. Probably not in my lifetime, ideally. Give the world the time it needs to mend its grudges.

The only alien races that stayed are those that are our ‘neighbors’ – the races that are from the solar system too. The Lutumax (including the Mindleeches and Silicids… and those nasty Gatekeepers) as well as the Volomi (the insectoids we called ‘Keepers) were left behind. The Silicids were provided machine bodies to take back to Europa, so they might technologically develop their homeworld. The Kashtir hive returned home to Chronus. They might just want to be left alone, although it’s exciting to hear that there might be other groups of those bugs hidden in the outermost planet’s caves. Maybe they’ll make first contact with us soon – and that’d be the first time we’d meet another species on amicable terms.

All of that said, it’s done. It’s over. Earth has been liberated. National governments are being reformed as we speak, although not all of them are the same as the ones before. New alliances and forgotten (or intensified) ethnic ties are leading to the unification of some regions and the division of others. But the technology we have access to now will improve the quality of life for everyone. The world will be rebuilt swiftly. The future’s looking up, to say the least.

That leaves me in the present. I’m still figuring out what to do with my life next, as many, many other people are. But there’s one thing I’m certain about…’

Yakone lifted her pencil, regarding the engagement ring on her finger.

‘…the next time I write, I’ll be writing as Yakone Sinclair.’


Well-Known Member
DarkGemini24601, MarineAvenger, ZombieSplitter53, and Dahlexpert present: “Cherished Culmination”

Toronto, Canada | June 5th, 2039 | 3:49 P.M.

Yakone’s gaze was lost in the mirror of her dressing room. Only after about a minute of contemplation did she turn away, glancing at one of her bridesmaids. “You sure this is real?” she questioned Morrigan. “I’m not still trapped in an illusion, and this isn’t all an elaborate ruse?”

Morrigan scratched her chin. “Um… it’s not… but I’m pretty sure if it was, I wouldn’t admit it.” She grinned. “Want me to slug you in the arm? Probably wouldn’t do that in an illusion.”

“I’ll pass,” Yakone replied with a roll of her eyes. “I’ve gotten hit with way worse enough times as is.” She looked at the pure white dress in front of her. “...you guys are going to have to help me with this.”

Ayame nodded. “Of course. That’s what we’re here for. Not the first time I’ve helped a woman into a dress.” Her eyes darted about. “That came out… I mean, of course we’ll… heh, help."

The Inuit-Caucasian woman laughed. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the view while we do this,” she teased the Jiangshi.

“Almost as much as you’ll enjoy the day… as long as you don’t get cold feet.” Ayame glanced at Gwen. “Looking forward to a new sister?”

Gwen rose an eyebrow over at the smaller vampire, offering up a chuckle. “You’d assume wrong in presuming she already wasn’t.”

Morrigan placed a hand on Yakone’s shoulder. “You’ll enjoy married life, I promise you. There is something about… knowing he is yours, and you are his, and you’ll always have someone to come home to that… warms the heart, you know? Not to get overly mushy or anything.”

Yakone smiled. “I get what you’re saying. I’m not worried about this at all. I’ve been dreaming of this day… I’m overjoyed that it has finally come.”

“Good. So…” Ayame cracked her knuckles. “Let’s get you dressed. You got a man to make the luckiest of them all.”


Meanwhile, on the other side of the hall that the two were able to have booked for their wedding, Leon stood looking out one of the windows, still fiddling with the buttons on the cuffs of his dress shirt. “This is taking too long. I’m so anxious, I feel like a rabbit about to jump out of my own skin damn it.” The native-born man grumbled in an annoyed tone.

Luke rolled his eyes and helped Leon with buttoning his cuffs as well as assisting him with his shirt. “There, that’s one victory: you didn't lose to a suit. Come on, man. Relax. It’s just the biggest day of your life. No big deal, I mean you already faced the deadliest day of your life with the High Commander, so this should be no problem.”

“The deadliest day of my life was not the High Commander fight. Geez… it is a sad thing to say that of all the enemies we faced, my wife turned out to be the deadliest to me,” the groom-to-be noted with slight mirth.

“Heyheyhey. Come on. Be happy you’re getting married. Look, that Ember shit is done: she’s dead and buried and Yakone has moved on from it. Now get ready, I’m gonna check on a few things make sure the proceedings are going to go smoothly. You're not going to jump out the window and run when I’m gone are you?” Luke said half-jokingly.

Leon waved his hand with a grumble dismissively, grabbing his black dress jacket and slipping it over his arms, looking down at the tie with disdain and opting not to fumble with that mess.

Luke left the room and rubbed his head. “Ugh, this is going to be a lonnng day, I just got to keep it together and - more importantly - make sure the groom won’t get cold feet. Best I go check on the church itself and make sure it’s on the up and up, don’t want any accidents to happen.” Luke made his way to the church, hoping that Leon will be fine.

It was not long after Luke entered the chapel that Leon followed. The building had the doors opened, allowing a cool, lake-stirred breeze to float up into the air of the church. Light poured in through stained-glass windows, illuminating the church brilliantly with lights of many different colors, most predominantly green, orange, and red. All of the pair’s friends were assembled, sitting on the pews in anticipation. Atka was towards the front, well-dressed in her uniform and sitting next to her sister and her old friend Melissa. The hair stylist’s daughter and father were present, as were Olivia’s squadmates.

Behind that group, Luke had taken a seat next to his mother and Emile, Tomislav nearby. Opposite the right side, the other front row occupants were the Chambers family (save for Alexis) - and near them were the cousins Anna and Marx. Sitting not too far away from Atka was Kai, sitting next to Lily who had insisted he be here and not being a hermit. Of course, Artyom was dragged here too by the excited bundle of joy that was his girlfriend.

The priest at the altar soon called Leon up, accompanied by his best man. They came to stand at the altar. Beams of light shined down from a high-up skylight. Alexis was the third to approach, bearing the ring - with Brigid casting flowers onto the ground behind her. And finally, Yakone entered - struggling a little to maintain her balance in the dress - her left arm wrapped around Desmond’s right.

“You look beautiful, Yakone. A lot like your mother back in her prime days. I couldn’t be more proud of you for how far you’ve come despite everything.” Her father whispered encouragingly, having a small, proud smile on his face.

Yakone resisted the urge to make a jab about ‘prime days’, not wanting to ruin the moment. “Thanks, dad,” she instead spoke softly, approaching the altar with him.

The priest went through his opening script, and then turned to the groom and the bride directly. “Do you both pledge to share your lives openly with one another, and to speak the truth in love? Do you promise to honor and tenderly care for one another, cherish and encourage each other, stand together, through sorrows and joys, hardships and triumphs for all the days of your lives?”

Yakone smiled warmly, meeting Leon’s eyes with hers. “We do.”

“Do you pledge to share your love and the joys of your marriage with all those around you, so that they may learn from your love and be encouraged to grow in their own lives?”

“We do.” Leon said with a slight nod, his mouth turning upwards on one side.

The priest gave them their rings, stating, “May these rings be blessed as a symbol of your union. As often as either of you look upon these rings, may you not only be reminded of this moment, but also of the vows you have made and the strength of your commitment to each other.” He looked towards Yakone. “Repeat after me: I, Yakone, take you, Leon, to be my husband. To have and hold from this day forward, till death do us part.”

Feeling a pleasant warmth spread throughout her body from the heart afterwards, Yakone sincerely repeated, “I, Yakone, take you, Leon, to be my husband. To have and hold from this day forward, till death do us part.”

Satisfied, the priest shifted to face Leon, asking him to do the same.

“And I, Leon, take you, Yakone, to be my wife. To have and hold from this day forward, till death do us part,” the man repeated sincerely.

Without further adieu, the priest declared, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Alexis leaned forward, a big smile on her face, a tear in her eye, watching in as much anticipation as if it were her own wedding kiss.

Hay hon, think you're getting to into it. Don’t worry that will be you very soon. Luke told Alexis telepathy

We better, Alex responded, he smile widening a little.

As Luke looked at his friend being wed, he couldn't help but smile at his friend and smile at him.

Without a moment more hesitation, Leon leaned forward, putting his hands on Yakone’s sides as they took their first kiss as newlyweds.

Luke along with everyone in the church clapped for the newlyweds,” Congratulations you two.”

Ayame let out a loud whoop. “Don’t spend all the affection here! Save some for that honeymoon!”

Yakone ignored them for the moment, relishing in the moment. Only after she’d gotten what she wanted did she glance over at Ayame. “Shut up,” she told her friend jokingly with a shake of her head.

Ayame clapped with the others and gave her a nod, shedding a tear of her own.

Lilith looked at the happy couple and clapped for them.”I hope you two have a loving life together.” A few tears ran down Lilith’s face, as this wedding reminded her of not just her own, but her sister’s.

Frostlich1228 (Alt)

Well-Known Member
"Roomies Forever"

*Takes place shortly after "Lazarus"*

About to open his door after getting patched in the med-bay, Marx could hear speaking and laughing from inside. There were very few problems thanks to Yakone's biokinesis, however, they did want him to check in. Normally he would've been upset that Keloe hadn't paid him a visit, but it look such a small amount of time to confirm his health, it didn't particularly matter.

As the Farmer opend the door, all of his roommates turned towards him, everyone has sitting around in the middle talking with one another, Krystal, Cathy, and of course, Keloe.

The Samoan stood up quickly, walking forward and deliviring a slap to the side of the Ranger's face, but after a moment of realization, she remembered that wouldn't be very effective. She grumbled, "I can't even... How could you do something that stupid? Rushing into the Ethereal High Commander like that?"

"I don't see the problem." Marx responded, "I've rushed things much more physically impressive before."

"You jumped ONTO his bayonet! Do you have... Zero concern for your own life!?" Keloe yelled.

"I didn't expect him to use it, but it worked out, didn't it?" He stated, "I don't think he was expecting me to still be alive enough to grab him."

"Because that blade was a HALF INCH from your heart! Do you know how lucky you are? Yakone can heal alot, but a exploded heart might've been a little too much for her!" The Enforcer continued.

"I feel like you might be upset at me." He grinned, bringing her close for a kiss. "Does that make it up to you?"

"No..." Keloe said, despite being caught off gaurd, "No that's not going to cut it mister... Not after that! I have something much better in mind..."

"Hey!" A smiling Cathy said, sliding between them, "Did you know you guys are adorable together?"

In response, Marx put his entire palm over Cathy's face, gently pushing her, "Everything is adorable to you."

"Well, not everything exactly." The pig-tailed girl said, putting her hands behind her back, "But you two? Definetely one."

Keloe turned now, crossing her arms and smirking, "I don't know, I'm not really feeling the 'adorable couple' angle, I'd much rather have the 'fearsome' one instead, right Marx?"

"Whatever you say." He accepted. "Despite this being a bittersweet victory, I have you to be happy about."

The Enforcer girl punched him in the arm lightly, "Big softie."

"You did this to me." He added.

"Someone had to, couldn't have you be a quiet hardass all your life." His lover responded, "Although maybe if you kept being a hardass our fearsome relationship would work even better..."

"Can't I just be hard and soft?" He questioned.

"That's cheating, no you can't." Keloe smiled, nudging him in the arm.

Krystal stood up from her bed, looking at Marx, "So, have you decided what you're going to do now?"

"I think..." Marx said slowly, "I think I'd like to stay with Xcom, for a time at least, I don't have too many other places left to go."

Keloe gave him a mixed look, "I'm glad, but what about your home? Don't you want to go back there?"

The Russian man looked down, "Maybe sometime... But not anytime soon, it's still fresh... I'd rather remember the good things about my family home, seeing it now would just cloud all of that."

Krystal then turned towards the chef, "Cathy? What are you and Artyom doing?"

Cathy turned her head, "Weeell, I'm sure Artyom is going to live with me at Matterhorn, he can even help with rebuilding if he likes." The peppy girl stared off for a moment as she spoke, "And hopefully he wants to work in my restaurant with me, although, if the cooking doesn't appeal to him, I'd understand."

Keloe stepped forward now, asking a similar question, "Krystal, what are you going to do?"

"Me?" She said, unsure, "I... Well... I have no idea... I guess I'll see if they need me here or not, I'm sure my skills would be more useful here than anywhere else."

Cathy stepped over to Krystal, bringing her over to everyone else and wrapping her arms around them all, "You guys are amazing, you know that? You're all the best roomies a girl could ask for."

"You know, If you told me I'd say this when I first came here, I'd tell you were full of it." Marx responded, then nodded as he smirked, "But yeah, you guys are the best."

Squishing them all together, Catherine beamed, "Friend hug! "

"It's a shame you're the only one not staying with us Cathy." Krystal said out loud.

"I know, but my dream is waiting for me now... And it's thanks to all of you, along with Atka, Yakone, Desmond, and even Shen'lutusus." The pig-tailed girl listed off.

"You were basically chief of morale, Cathy, don't forget that." Keloe laughed.

This prompted her to just scratch her neck, "There were somedays I wasn't so sure I was helping... But I put everything I had into it, even if it was a small part."

"Well, you sure helped all of us." Krystal smiled, "We all sure have come a way."

"You can say that again." Marx said, looking over towards Cathy's bed, at the rainbow mural he had once hated, and simple smiled.