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XCOM: Second Contact Thread the Third

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Agayek, Feb 19, 2013.

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  1. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    FFN Link

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    Table of Contents:
    Chapter 2a:2b:2c:2d:2e:2f
    Chapter 3a:3b:3c:3d:3e
    Chapter 4a:4b:4c:4d:4e:4f
    Chapter 5a:5b:5c:5d:5e:5f:5g
    Chapter 6a:6b:6c:6d:6e:6f:6g:6h:6i:6j:6k
    Chapter 7a:7b:7c:7d:7e:7f:7g:7h:7i
    Chapter 8a:8b:8c:8d:8e:8f:8g:8h
    Chapter 9a:9b:9c:9d
    Chapter 10a:10b:10c:10d:10e:10f:10g
    Chapter 11a:11b:11c:11d:11e:11f:11g:11h:11i
    Chapter 12a:12b:12c:12d:12e:12f:12g:12h:12i:12j
    Chapter 14a:14b:14c:14d:14e
    Chapter 15a:15b:15c:15d:15e:15f:15g:15h
    Chapter 16a:16b:16c:16d:16e:16f:16g
    Chapter 17a
    Thread 2
    Thread 4
     
  2. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    ******

    The last half-kilometer to the dig site passed uneventfully. The lack of enemies didn’t sit right with Shepard; he couldn’t shake the feeling that it meant something big was coming. Surely if they were after the beacon, there would be more of the things around it, wouldn’t there? It wasn’t like they hadn’t landed enough.

    The dig site coming into view a moment later brought him out of his thoughts. The hill to the left side of the path they had been following had been carved out to reveal the Prothean site. A circular metal pad marked by concentric ridges in three rows around it extended two-thirds of its width out of the sheer rock face created by the excavation. Metal obelisks of varying heights ringed the visible portion of the circle. Two of the obelisks, eight foot tall blocks the width of a man, rose from the edges at 90 degree angles along the circle. Assuming symmetry, two more similar blocks were buried further in the dug out hill. Another three obelisks, three feet tall and almost six wide, stood along a line a meter further out from the center of the circle. These three were placed at 45 degree angles off from the taller monuments, with one out in the open and two still partially buried in the ten foot tall rock face. Also in the cleared area was an excavator, presumably the same device responsible for digging out the hill, and a squat prefab building that likely housed some equipment for experimenting with the beacon. All in all, it looked like a pretty standard dig site.

    The one thing that stood out in its absence however, and sent Shepard into an internal rant that would have made a sailor blush, was the Prothean beacon. The geth must have taken it already. “Damnit,” he said aloud, echoing the sentiments being expressed by his squad. Quickly channeling his frustration into a productive form, he started barking orders. “Alright, spread out and search this place. There has to be clues to where they took it. Rex and Tcha, check the platform. Jenkins and Kadderal check the building, see if it has any cameras that caught anything. Everyone else keep an eye out for hostiles. Be careful folks, there’s no telling what kind of surprises they left behind for us.”

    The squad acknowledged his orders and started to move to fulfill it. Rex and Tcha started carefully examining the circle while Jenkins and Kadderal made their way toward the building. They’d barely made it halfway when an unholy roar filled the air. The ground erupted under Shepard’s feet, bodily throwing him into the wall of the excavation where he tumbled into the dirt. From where he lay, he had a clear view of the upended, burning wreckage of what had once been a HWP and Warren crushed underneath it. “Fuck!” he barked. “TK field going up!” And he suited actions to words, creating chaotically swirling patterns of force over the field of battle to misdirect enemy fire and give his team a chance to recover. He took the slight breather to survey the hostiles.

    On the far side of the circle from him, a pair of aliens were dueling with Rex and Jenkins. Another group of at least three was firing on the squad from within the research building, and both the building and the excavator had one on top carrying a rocket launcher. Judging by Alenko and Kadderal’s fire, even more were on the bluff above the dig site.

    Fuck this shit, Shepard thought furiously. “Tcha! Take out that building!” he barked. The alien atop the excavator turned its weapon on Shepard, but before it could fire he flexed his mind and a purple spear lanced its side, catapulting it into the building hard enough to force it through the thin metal wall. An instant later, the team’s heavy unleashed a ball of angry green death from his blaster launcher straight through the hole Shepard had made. The bomb detonated a heartbeat later, turning all five barriers of the building into a wave of deadly shrapnel. The alien on the roof was shredded instantly, pieces of it carried by the shockwave to rain down over the entire area. The aliens inside fared even worse; the biggest piece left was the size of a man’s fist.

    Shepard threw himself to his feet and called out, “I’ve got the top, cover me!” Kadderal and Alenko’s fire re-doubled, hopefully forcing the aliens back into cover. At the same time, Shepard lightened himself and flew high into the air with his Archangel pack. Atop the bluff, two rocket wielding robots were covering behind large trees while a boulder in between sheltered two others with lighter weapons. Nearly the same instant he cleared the top of the rise, he was forced to dodge a pair of rockets with a telekinetic push on himself, throwing his body up and over their trajectory.

    “Ow,” he grumbled quietly. “I’m gonna feel that one tomorrow.” The aliens didn’t give him the courtesy of letting him recover though, and he was forced to duck and weave constantly, despite the plasma raining on their position from his squad. He didn’t need to be exposed for long though, and with a fierce scowl of concentration, the telekinetic field he had deployed earlier was suddenly moved then concentrated in both area of effect and power, forming a full-blown rift.

    Psionic light swirled in chaotic patterns, forming a vortex of ripping and tearing power. The aliens, their cover, even the earth itself was quickly torn asunder and pieces flung through the air. The high pitched chittering the aliens used to communicate filled the air, and he thought he heard panic in their cries. Pieces were sheared off the aliens one at a time as they were battered by the debris carried in the psionic storm. White fluid filled the air, mixing with the dust kicked up by his efforts and forming a thick, viscous sludge that coated everything within. He kept the storm going for only a few seconds, but when he relaxed his hold, the resulting crater held a soupy mixture of debris and alien pieces, none larger than a shoebox.

    Shepard turned back to the rest of his squad just in time to see Rex and Jenkins finishing their enemies. The squad called in the all clear as they finished up and the adrenaline quickly drained out of his system, leaving a mild version of the strange mental weariness of psionic overuse in its wake. “Looks clear from up here too,” he said tiredly. “Status?”

    “Lost my Archangel sir,” Kadderal’s voice came back. “Shrapnel from the explosion.”

    Everyone else reported mostly intact, so Shepard called down, “Good. How is...” He trailed off as he realized that answer was obvious. Warren couldn’t have survived that. “Tcha and Jenkins, flip Bane over and get Warren out from under it. If you can, put her inside. Her body’ll be safe enough there until we can come back for her.”

    “On it,” Tcha said as they set to their task. Shepard then brought himself to a landing and staggered from a sudden bout of dizziness. Yea, he had overdone it with the rift.

    Lauren rushed up and helped steady him. “You alright sir?”

    “I’m fine,” he said. “Just give me a minute.” He distantly noticed the loud thump of the HWP getting flipped back over. Forcing his thoughts into order with an act of will, he said aloud, “Bane, you still in there?” The tank remained silent, but an outline of the vehicle, including a damage report, appeared on his HUD a second later. Shepard studied it briefly and sighed. The gravity drive and most of its weapons were scrap. Still, there was one thing it could still do. “Pop the top, Bane.” The hatch slid open smoothly and Tcha gently placed Warren’s body into a seat within. The big man climbed back out and it slid closed. “Keep her safe for me.”

    Turning to his squad, he then said, “Let’s keep moving. I saw a couple more prefabs further down the trail. I think that’s the primary research center. We’ll head there and see if we can find anything.” A chorus of affirmatives came over the comm and the squad moved out.

    ******
     
  3. Nice snippet.
    Continuing from threads past, given the very common occurrence of psis in the population, there must be some criminal psis out there.
    Or just mentally broken.
    But my question is, does the Coalition have some way of preventing someone from using their psi abilities?
    An inhibitor collar or something?
     
  4. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Yes. It's called very heavy and constant medication to make it impossible to achieve the required mental acuity.

    Barring that, there are "helmets", for lack of a better word, that can detect certain patterns of neural activity (specifically, the ones most commonly representing various psionics) and will then deliver a shock or otherwise disrupt the victim's concentration and therefore disrupt the ability.

    There's no way to flat out squelch psionic abilities themselves though.
     
  5. Sounds pleasant.
    Too bad for the AY, bet they would have moved heaven and earth to join the coalition/xcom for access to them.
     
  6. So, judging by your description of it, Rift is a physical phenomena rather than something like the High Templar's Psionic Storm from SC?
     
  7. Mandemon

    Mandemon However, I am trustworthy

    I doubt it. Considering what being AY means, I don't see public being very receptive of them.

    "Oh great, alien space succubus. Exactly what we need. How again are we to trust these people?"

    It is the type of disaster that requires sudden appearance of Idiot Ball to be allowed. It would require willing misunderstanding of what Monasteries are, what they do and how AY are treated. It also basically ignores what being AY entails, deciding to ignore the problem for kneejerk reaction to thing not understood.

    Rift can damage robots. Which means it's Physical event.
     
  8. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Yes. At its most basic level, it's very similar to a biotic Warp effect, except instead of randomly shifting ME fields tearing things apart, it's raw force being applied on random vectors to everything inside it.
     
  9. Their mind melds kill, not by any control of their own.
    Before they meld with someone they're fine and they only discover they're an AY after their first meld.
    When they kill someone by accident.

    Now. Say XCOM did have inhibitor collars, then all these people who through no fault of their own are prevented from interacting with the galaxy and cannot experience something that is a fundamental biological process or they will kill someone, can now live normal lives. They can find significant others, they can have children.
    They aren't relegated to a lonely existence where their only choices are isolation, suicide, or murder and constantly running.

    Not to mention that because of the way the mind meld is wired for AY, it's pretty much Super-Crack.
    Which means they start their existence as AY, already addicted.
    So they have to deal with that for the rest of their lives too.

    I'm pretty sure they qualify as sympathetic.
     
  10. templar627

    templar627 Capitalism, ho!

    Guys. Don't have sex with Asari. They might be AY!

    Abstinence. The only safe option. :p
     
    ShadowCub likes this.
  11. Hectonkhyres

    Hectonkhyres Seething with increasing levels of bitterness.

    The only problem is when they have sex. All they have to do is, well, not... which isn't all that hard so long as they are only first timers. Peacebond them with a biosensor bracelet or somethingorother and I foresee few (statistically speaking) problems.

    There is also a chance... not a huge one, but there... that sufficiently powerful and experienced psychics can actually survive the Ardat-Yakshi experience. They naturally channel such huge amounts of psi energy that Ardat-Yakshi melding might be the sort of thing you can experience twice. They seem to kill by the same mechanism that kills human psis who overclock their own brains too much. The more powerful you are, the more you have to push for things to count as overclocking.

    We would only discover this by accident, however. Lets say... Morinth gets it on with a fool of a high-rated human psi who is violating protocol and can't keep it in his pants. And then he asks her if she is free next weekend.
     
    Night_stalker and templar627 like this.
  12. And then we had sex-powered super long distance wormholes and psi-lances that could core a battlecruiser.

    "This is the Orbital Defense Platform Make Love, Not War, you have 5 seconds to leave the system before my smoking hot girlfriend starts blowing me. And then I blow you."
     
    Itgotworse 26, Arjac, Leliel and 20 others like this.
  13. And yet the damage received is modified by one's Willpower. Suggesting that it is a hybrid of Physical and Mental components.
     
  14. Hectonkhyres

    Hectonkhyres Seething with increasing levels of bitterness.

    More likely it would weaken the psi, bringing them closer to the overclocking maximum that makes their brains explode. But, still, as long as you are strong enough that it never reaches that maximum... yeah. I don't think anyone would complain any more than they would complain about becoming exhausted after three straight hours of conventional sexual olympics.
     
  15. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Hmm, first casulty so far, and it's to a rather mundane thing, a flipped MWP...

    Then again, that's war. Not all deaths are Noble.
     
  16. Nox

    Nox Eldritch Thingy

    Hmm, I might have missed the reason why, but shouldn't Ashley have shown up by now?
     
  17. templar627

    templar627 Capitalism, ho!

    I think she might have gone with the beacon. She might have followed the geth that took it.
     
  18. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Butterflies, perhaps?
     
  19. Nox

    Nox Eldritch Thingy

    You know, I hope Ashley shows up and sticks around, and has a view matching her game one. In this verse, her mild xenophobia is actually likely going to be more along the open-minded of human perspectives. So she is exactly the same, yet in the lenses of this universe a notably different person.
     
    Tavi and Night_stalker like this.
  20. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Likewise, she's kinda a personal favorite character for me.
     
  21. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Ash shows up in the next snippet. I think she'll be interesting.
     
    Nox likes this.
  22. Nox

    Nox Eldritch Thingy

    YAY!
     
  23. Teal_Thanatos

    Teal_Thanatos Seducing the innocent

    Nice work for three threasds worth
     
  24. Ace of Scarabs

    Ace of Scarabs Certified Mechanoid pilot

    Rift friendly fire is not pleasant. Admittedly I've exploited it to make mind-controlled Ethereals self-terminate with their own.
     
  25. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    From a post in the old thread:

    It should.
     
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