Part 27: Let's Try Diplomacy!
Update 24: Let's Try Diplomacy!
"This is Commander Vault, April seventh.
We received and interesting message on the fourth. A radio communication directed at North America, only it wasn't coming from any of our equipment or anyone else's out there. It was a communication attempt from the Reticulans, or more precisely two Reticulans that claimed they wished to defect. They claimed they saw the war was turning against them, and that their 'grand experiment' of the biomass wasn't turning out how they thought.
Skipping through the rest of it, the message can be summed up like so: These two defectors stole a small ship and tried to flee the base they worked at. They were discovered and shot down, and left isolated in the wilderness near Delhi, India. The ship was able to send the message that reached us and they are willing to defect to our side. The deal is protection and asylum with the CoE, in return for technology information, locations of Reticulan bases, that sort of thing.
Personally I thought this was a load of crap from the start. What kind of alien wipes 90% of humanity out and then tries to seek asylum with them? Still, the chance that those two walking hamburgers wanted to turn sides and help us save the planet was work taking the risk of sending a team out to them. The down side is if we wanted those bastards coming back with us, it meant less space in the helicopter for our soldiers. So I had to send Hero and her squad there short handed. All of Booyas squad is still recovering anyway, Jimmy is barely out of critical condition."
Hero: Right, another day another mission. We're looking for two Reticulans that wont be shooting us the instant they see us. Should stand out pretty well around here so just keep your eyes open.
Rabbit: You really think they want to change sides?
Hero: Who knows, thats what the rookie is for.
Redeker: Hey, I'm not a rookie. I served X-Com way before you guys formed this CoE deal.
Fastball: You're a rookie if the lady says you're a rookie, rookie.
Fastball: Oh my head... just got a headache all of a sudden. Hey! You're doing that!
Robo-Canuck: NEW TRANSGENANT SIGHTED.
Rabbit: What the hell is that?
Robo-Canuck: IT LOOKS LIKE A MUTATED JELLYFISH.
Rabbit: On land?
Redeker: Do you guys always sit around and ask questions like this, back in X-Com we just shot the hell out of anything that moved and maybe talked about it later.
Hero: Alright, fine rookie. Go ahead, shoot it.
Redeker: Holy crap is that a fucking crab?
Hero: Uh huh, welcome to the CoE rookie.
Fastball: Got one!
Rabbit: Oh shit...
Rabbit: We're surrounded.
Hero: Calm down, just pick your closest target and keep shooting until it dies.
Robo-Canuck: CAR CRAB TERMINATED. ACQUIRING NEW TARGET.
Robo-Canuck: UNKNOWN ALIEN TYPE LOCATED. WARNING, INCOMING MISSILE.
Hero: What the hell is that?
Rabbit: It's like a floating cape with a face and a rocket launcher.
Redeker: Look out, incendiary ammo!
Hero: Get up on the hill and kill those aliens on the other side.
Rabbit: There's a ton of them up ahead.
Hero: Just shoot whatever you can and watch out for those missiles!
Robo-Canuck: EAT FIRE ALIEN SCUM.
Redeker: Incoming, watch out!
Fastball: Oh god!
Redeker: Fastball is down, and he's on fire!
Rabbit: We'll help him in a second when the fire goes out.
Hero: Burn those damn aliens on the hill!
Robo-Canuck: ROGER THAT.
Redeker: Did you say something about killing them with fire?
Rabbit: Holy shit, now thats how you do it rookie!
Redeker: Told you I wasn't just a rookie.
Hero: Just watch the front while I take care of Fastball.
Fastball: * cough* Oh man.. I feel like a baked potato wrapped in tinfoil.
Hero: You'll make it back to base. Get on your feet. How's it going up there?
Rabbit: The cape thing is burning. No more missiles.
Robo-Canuck: STILL THREE MORE TRANSGENANTS SPOTTED.
Redeker: If you're done helping Fastball, I could use some medical attention too.
Hero: Yeah, I'm coming, just keep burning those fuckers.
Redeker: It's still coming after that?
Rabbit: Watch out for the lightning!
Fastball: Ow god! First baked then microwaved.
Robo-Canuck: ALL TARGETS DEAD OR BURNING.
Hero: Good. Everyone patched up? Let's find those damn Reticulans.
Fastball: Whoa, one of them is brown.
Hero: Wonder if they speak english.
Reticulan: parlez-vous français?
Hero: Aw fuck.
Fastball: We should have brought Frenchy.
Hero: That doesn't even make sense! Why the fuck would they speak French?
Rabbit: Canuck, you got any translation programs in your head?
Redeker: I should be able to communicate with them.
Hero: How's that?
Redeker: Telepathy of course.
Hero: Well, go for it. Tell them we got their message and are willing to take them back in exchange for their help against the other Reticulans.
Hero: Well? The hell are you guys doing?
Redeker: It's not that easy to commutate directly with them, but they're ready to get out of here and are willing to help us when we get back.
Hero: Good enough I guess. Let's go.
Rabbit: So, they say anything about why they want to leave?
Redeker: It's kind of hard to tell exactly. It's tough to figure out exactly what they're trying to tell me.
Hero: They say anything about the Biomass?
Redeker: Yeah, that was pretty clear. Something about it being their grand experiment. Or giving birth to a god. Not sure exactly what they mean by all that, but they say it got corrupted or tainted some how.
Hero: The hell is that supposed to mean?
Redeker: Like I said, I'm not sure. It's tough to read their thoughts... wait...
Redeker: They're hiding something. I can tell.
Hero: Hiding what?
Redeker: I don't know. But some things in their mind are easy to read and understand. But the more I ask about their reasons for defecting the more guarded they seem.
Fastball: That doesn't sound good.
Reticulan: heure pour le plan b !
Reticulan: Tuez l'hybride!
Robo-Canuck: THEY HAVE GUNS!
Reticulan: but pour la fourche!
Redeker: Oh god, they shot me in the crotch!
Hero: Kill them!
Rabbit: Shit! What the hell happened!?
Fastball: They shot Redeker!
Robo-Canuck: HE IS BADLY DAMAGED, BUT ALIVE.
Hero: Fuck, who knows what the hell is going on. It must have been a set up. Canuck, do what you can for Redeker and we are getting the hell out of here.
"Fastball is recovering in medical for severe burns and Redeker is still in medical for multiple laser wounds. At least the weird alien armor helped keep his vital organs functioning while he was flying back to base.
As for the whole affair, our best guess it was an attempt to get agents inside our bases or commit some form of espionage. With out Redekers psionic abilities we might not have detected their hostile intentions until too late. Whatever the case is, something is happening in the ranks of our enemy. Either they are doubting they are able to win the fight against us, or are merely using the guise of diplomacy to deceive us.
In the meantime we've made more breakthroughs in our research. Both in the weapons department and in understanding the nature of the Biomass.
With our understanding of how these things work, we can give them to our soldiers for use as well as understanding exactly what happened to Jimmy and how to help him recover. These are some innovative new weapons where thicker armor doesn't necessarily mean more protection. However our enhancements to the heavy armor suits we have should be able to withstand these warp attacks at least partially as well as offering superior protection from the aliens plasma and laser weapons. It is taking us about 31 hours to manufacture one suit of this armor, so it will be a while before the entire squad will be able to use them. Golden and Redeker are the only soldiers so far to request use of the alien armor we've produced. So far they have little complaints, the suits offer decent protection with out the weight and limitations of heavy armor. However we have yet to replicate a suit of the green alien armor, and the engineers are baffled over it estimating over a week just to modify a captured suit for human use.
And here is what the scientists have come up with. The Reticulan game plan. To turn our world into a super psionic brain. Aside from the process destroying earth and humanity, it could be capable of conquering any other race out there. So it looks like there is a lot more then we first thought at stake here. This has only hardened my resolve to fight the little bastards. Who know what they would use a psionic super weapon like this for? Nothing good, that's for damn sure.
What followed this discovery was another huge shock to us.
They're offering us a truce. A way to end the fighting and to take care of our population. The plans they sent us included some blueprints to the proposed shelters they are willing to build for us. Giant floating islands that would be set up in earths upper atmosphere with self sustaining power sources. Hell they even have the city surface planned out to look something like our cities used to before the war. It's tempting, a place where we don't have to fight daily for survival, scratch and farm for food, or worry about transgenant hoards or Biomass. All it would take is shaking the hands of the alien bastards that almost wiped us all out in the first place, and the abandonment of Earth.
I of course say no to this offer. Not after they killed so many people. I will fight these Reticulans to my last breath. Unfortunately not everyone is as resolved as I am. Some people want to take the easy way out, a nice city in the sky where they can live peacefully. It's a trick, an illusion I say. Once we stop fighting them, what's to stop them from stabbing us in the back? Still, a few people want to see what will happen with the biomass. Creating and controlling a God. I think they're crazy. What makes them think Humans or Reticulans could control a God, let alone create one? The price is too high and the outcome isn't even certain. I will fight these aliens with or with out the CoE.
We have a few days until we have to broadcast our response. The CoE is discussing this almost every hour until that time. Everyone is being asked about it. From the command, the soldiers, even the people that live around our bases. I hope we do the right thing."
Posted by Liberal_l33t
(Found posted on the walls of several CoE bases)
In all seriousness, I favor accepting the Reticulans offer. While the Reticulans did indeed devastate Earth, and humanity has been at war with them for some time, there is no reason to believe they are dishonest in making this offer, and since the Reticulans have never shown themselves to be especially emotional, there is no reason they would exterminate humanity rather than integrate us into a greater society.
Of course, even if the trustworthiness of the aliens is established, there is the question of whether the experiment that is the biomass is worth the incredible risk involved. I say it is. Think about how little of humanity has survived, and how much of our achievements are gone. How will we ever recover from the Nightfall, especially with the Reticulan and their creations harrying mankind at every turn? The biomass threatens humanity's very existence, true; but if the biomass is destroyed, all that awaits humanity is a long twilight war against the Reticulans and a new dark age. Mankind's last, best hope for true greatness and power is the Biomass and the unfathomable energies at it's command.
We have fought hard and well, and we deserve peace, but more even than peace, we deserve to move beyond the endless, ugly series of wars that has defined human history since first contact with the Ethereal empire. And so, to be succinct what I wish to say is
I would rather die having glimpsed eternity than to never stir from the cold furrow of mortal life
Captain Lionel Coombs, CoE North American air-defense squadron.
*Written underneath the above proclamation*
You will be the first I will come after if this is agreed to.
Posted by Cooked Auto
(graffiti found at an European CoE base)
"To be Unclean,
That is the Mark of the Alien
To be Unpure,
That is the Mark of the Alien
To be Abhorred,
That is the Mark of the Alien
To be Reviled,
That is the Mark of the Alien
To be Hunted,
That is the Mark of the Alien
To be Purged,
That is the Mark of the Alien
To be Cleansed,
That is the Fate of all Alien"
(graffiti found on several CoE bases around the world)
'Listen not to the alien, look not upon the alien, speak not unto the alien!'
Posted by Rear Admiral BOOYA 'Booya'
*** ALLOW NOT THE ALIEN INTO YOUR MINDS; SURRENDER NEVER. ***
Journal of Malcolm McLean, ( "BOOYA") dated xx/31/2085.
We've been fighting these stupid sons of bitches for the control of our planet for a few years now. I've lost men, my own flesh and blood, and have been harmed in places I didn't know I could be harmed in the line of active duty. Now, they are offering us a cease-fire, on the condition that we stay out of their way while the assimilate the rest of the earth with the bio-mess that is creeping up everywhere we're not repelling it.
Oh fuck that. Nuh-uh. Fuck. That.
I've got me some big ass guns, lubed up and ready to go, and I'm going to go out in the way that generations before me have gone out: Fighting to raise the flag.
**** TRUST NOT THE MUTANT, THE HERETIC, THE XENO; THE UNCLEAN SHALL BE PURGED ****
Posted by Mutant Headcrab 'Ackbar'
In this troubling times, I have found it difficult to find time to write my thoughts upon this tome. When I am not fighting, I pray. When I am not praying, I fight. Allah's mighty hand is not only upon me, but most of my team mates. Even the women, though inferior to a man in every fashion, have earned my deepest respect.
The infidels from the stars have ravaged our sacred home. The Earth is a gift from Allah, a training ground for the faithful. Yet these infidels come and they slaughter us. They ruin the lands. In the course of their blasphemous actions they have over taken the holy land.
And now they offer peace.
I will let it be known that there can be no peace with these infidels. Too long have they lingered upon our soil and hovered above our skies! If peace should be chosen, then I shall continue to fight to my dying breath! No mercy for the infidels!
Posted by lilljonas 'Hero'
Personal log of Megan "Hero" Okembo. Supplemental.
We knew they were assholes. They everything we had, killed everyone we knew, bombed us until only a few survived in concrete safe houses, all this without a single proclamation of their intent or purpose. To create a fucking computer to increase their ability to do the same to other planets! And now, now that they feel the threat of our biomass reducers, when they smell the charred flesh of their transgenants, they expect us to quietly go into some reservation where we won't be a threat to them?
I'd say we set fire to them. Now is when we must be prepared to sacrifice ourselves to avenge what they took from us, avenge our families, our friends, our fallen comrades of the Phoenix Squad. I can't even imagine anyone in the squad to consider this "truce", not after all we've been through. And I sure as hell hope that the same goes for the Commander. They wanted to exterminate us and failed. Now we return the favor, but do it the right way. The human way.
We all had a brief personal chat with the head doctors about the issue, and I claimed that there were not a single soldier in my squad who would give surrendering a second thought. I pray to God they did me proud.
Posted by Liberal_L33t
Broadcast on CoE radio channels
My friends and fellow members of the Council of Earth,
This is Council of Earth Assistant Director of Research and Development Gunnar Schrooten speaking. Not many of you may have met me, but most of you have likely heard of me. I am proud to say I have worked with the Research and Development division since not long after the inception of the Council of Earth, and I express deep gratitude to all the brave men and women in our combat teams who have fought so long, so bravely, and with such distinction, all without complaint. Though I had my share of fame among the scientific community before the Nightfall, the knowledge that my work during these harrowing times is being used to do real and immediate good is more satisfying than any accolade. Those who have fought with such stoic determination and skill are a credit to the human race, heroes who shall be remembered forever.
But what if all those brave fighting men and women on the front lines, all YOU brave fighting men and women, give your lives in heroic struggle only for your species to die a slow, lingering death and fade into obscurity? That is my question. What awaits humanity, what REALLY awaits us, if we continue living on this dying world like nothing has happened? Try to see through the haze of nostalgia, and realize that the Earth was sick and laboring for breath long before Nightfall. Blame the Reticulans and their sunken city if you want, blame them for Nightfall, but ask yourself what life is going to be like, for now until the death of mankind? Will we be able to steal enough of the Reticulan's technology to return the Earth to the way it was? To turn back time perhaps? Such wonders are beyond even them. Think on that a moment.
Captain Lionel Coombs, a personal friend of mine, published, with help from several silent supporters, a short but contentious argument yesterday. I had spoken to him and urged him to wait until we had gauged the reactions of the larger Council of Earth, but he is an impulsive man, strong willed and impulsive.
The various responses both directed to Captain Coombs (A highly decorated pilot, I might add, one of the few from the beginning of the war still alive) and publicly posted or written have been more negative than positive, and sadly most combat troops and militia are vehemently opposed to the Reticulans offer, though a number of scientists and technicians have quietly expressed support, as well as many civilians, especially parents with young children.
I am very disturbed, however, by the implied threat of homicidal violence in a great many anti-treaty messages. Since almost all of these messages not only claim they have no intention of acceding to the Council of Earth's decision should it decide against them but often threaten harm to those who would seek asylum with the Reticulans, I have no choice but to draw up plans for the evacuation of citizens and personnel who support accepting the offer in the case rogue elements of the CoE military attack those waiting for the Reticulans or hold a sham vote at gunpoint in order to force acceptance of their agenda.
To those of you who would turn on your fellow man, think on this. You may have killed men before, raiders and cultists and other such scum, but this time you won't be killing violent thugs, you'll be killing your friends, comrades and loved ones. You'll be killing people whose only crime is the desire for peace.
I am very sorry that this issue could not be decided with a civil debate, but I suppose that is impossible in these dark times.
That is all.
Posted by Cooked Auto
Journal of John Hastings - Security guard at CoE Paris base, Dated *no given date*
I've just about had it with everything. First the constant throbbing headache from the repulsors constant humming and now these strange voices that haunts me every time I go to sleep. I started just a few weeks ago after we lost parts of Northern Europe to the biomass. I was sleeping soundly when this voice started speaking into my head out of nowhere. I can still remember what it said.
"What is a drop of rain, compared to the storm? What is a thought compared to a mind? Our unity is full of wonder. That your tiny individualism can not even conceive."
I more or less bolted upright after hearing that, scared more or less shitless. At first I thought someone was pulling a prank on me. Or I was just having a bad dream. But the etherealness of the voice was so memorable that it couldn't be a dream. And when I got back to sleep again I heard it once more.
"We do not know death. Only change. We can not kill each other. Without killing ourselves. Is your vision so small, that you can not see the value of our way?"
I don't think I really did sleep well that night. The voice continued to echo in my head throughout the night. Sometimes I couldn't really hear it. But other times it was clear as someone standing next to me. It haunted me through the night.
I must have fallen asleep or something because the next thing I know it was morning. I decided to call in sick that day and decided to talk to the shrink at the base. I think her name is Rebbecca Chambers.
So I went and talked to her about the strange voices I heard during the night. But all she did was smile and dismiss it as stress. Stress! I know we are at war with the Reticulans. But it just couldn't be stress. I'm sure of it. But she just smiled and gave me some sleeping pills and told me to take one before going to bed.
At first they actually worked. I felt clear and awake the next day. And the day after that. But the one night I heard that voice again.
"How can you choose cold metal before the splendor of flesh? But you fear us. We read your thoughts. And they rage for your brothers believed dead. But they are not. They sing in our symphony of life"
I wanted to scream. But I couldn't. And then I saw something that horrified me. I saw pictures of great walls made out of flesh. Was this what Phoenix Squad saw during their missions to the biomass? I saw fleshy horrors that I still can not describe without shivering and sweating. And just the thought of them makes my hair stand on its edge.
And all the while the voice continued on.
"The individual is obsolete. When your kind are extinct. We shall cleanse our collective memory of the stain of your existence."
The Biomass true intention scared me profoundly. More than even the reticulans had done when I first saw them. This thing was just a pure monster intended to devour the entire planet, wiping us out and leaving no trace behind?
When I woke up the next morning I was afraid. I barely dared to go outside. I just wanted to lie in bed and wait for it all to end. But if I feel asleep I would be subjected to the horrors of the voice again.
I have no idea for how long I stayed up. I must have been days. I refused to go to sleep and pretty soon the effects were visible on me. I grew distanced with the others at the base. My mood turning sour for every passing day. I tried every trick in the book to help me stay awake. I tried to work every single day. Even doing others assignment just to keep me active. But it didn't help. One day my body had enough and shut down and I crashed into the deepest sleep I ever had.
It was then I heard the voice again.
"We offer to join us. If you chose to lie down with the machine. We will rend you apart. And put you separate from the joy of the mass."
All the while images of flesh and their offspring's spawned
Join them? No. No I couldn't join them. I refuse to be swallowed up into them.
And then it spoke again, as if sensing my resistance.
"We are many. And you are one. How can you hope to prevail against us?"
I suddenly was washed over with a sense of crushing despair. They we're right. How could I alone prevail against them? But then I realized that I was not alone. All of humanity was against them. And together we would prevail. That notion strengthened me and somehow I managed to get rid of the voice for the rest of my slumber. The rest of my dreams were about Rachel.
My beloved wife Rachel. I miss you so. I hope I can meet you again after the wars over. I know you wanted me to go with you when you evacuated to the American mainland. But my duty lies here to protect this base. But I promise you we will meet again some day.
When I awoke again I was filled with a sense of relief. I knew that together we would be able to beat back the Biomass and the Reticulans once and for all.
But then I was wrong. So wrong...
Journal Entry of John Hastings, dated *no date*
The Reticulans are offering PEACE?! No. No it can't be. I refuse to believe this. Not after what I've seen while I was asleep. Not from what the voice told me. That voice. It haunts me. It is somewhere in the background when I sleep. I know it is there. I hear it whispering to me. But I refuse to listen to it.
But this. This message of peace. It has sent the base spiraling into a wild discussion. Some say we should accept to end our suffering. Others say we should fight on. To prevail and show that humanity can't be squashed or bartered with. Posters and graffiti with different slogans have already appeared on the walls and the base is close on collapsing in a spree of violence and infighting. Is this what the Mass and its voice planned? Are we all in the end doomed to become their slaves?
No way. Not me. They're not going to get me. They're not going to change me. Rachel. Kids. I'm sorry...
-Security Entry #465-
Personnel on scene: Security Officer Mike Vega. Security guard Gordon Vance.
Victim: John Hastings. ID number: 2106147822 Occupation: Security guard at CoE Paris Base.
The victim was found at 0930 after neighbors heard the sound of gunshots in the vicinity. The victim was found slumped over in a chair near his desk lifeless.
Cause of Death was bullet fired from close range from the left side of the head. Bullet passed through the brain and exited the right side of his skull and lodged itself into the nearby wall. Death was imminent and painless.
Handgun was found near the body with the victims fingerprints.
The incident is declared a suicide. All investigations halted.
-End of entry-
-Medical Profile #591-6-
Name: John Hastings
ID number: 2106147822
Date of birth: 06/14/2021
Location of Birth: London
Psychic profile: Patient has a shown slight acceptance for training psychic warfare, rated around Gamma levels and thusly poses no threat. Rated levels lie below the standard of Delta for further training into the development of his psychic abilities.
Suggestion: Remove from list of suggested candidates for psychic warfare training.