Part 37: A Snake Story...
So I kinda forgot to record that mission. I didn't want to just pretend it never happened because of couple of cool things occured in it.
SELECTED FAN ENTRIES
Allen Wren posted:
Written on notebook paper, stuffed into the back of a copy of Time from a month or so prior, locked in the bottom drawer of my desk.
From the desks of Allen Wren, El Duque de la Mierda del Toros
EYES ONLY. NOT FOR CONSUMPTION BY ANY ORKER OF COW.
Whee. My recent request to Operations, Lily's recent beurecratic finagling and a few other factors have all been poured together and turned into a cocktail of horrific proportions. I'll do my best to keep the events and effects in order. Originally, I was custodian for the laboratory block, seconded to Dr. Takakumi. Over time, as I actually took care of the paperwork for my office, I was moved up the ladder to chief of custodians, reporting directly to the Director of Facilities. At the same time (partly for reasons of a growing friendship, partly for reasons of keeping a watchful eye on the labs) I continued to work in the labs, keeping Lily's domain operating as smoothly as possible.
This worked far better than originally planned, resulting in the Doc's recent request to have me permanently seconded to her lab at a Special Assistant Grade---this brings me under the Science/R&D branch of the organization as well, a slot down from Dr. T, two down from Director of Science Dr. Markus. Through both intentional action and sheer happenstance, I've found myself on Lily's side in the constantly-bubbling conflict between Markus and Takakumi, which makes any connection to X-Com's Science Branch a tricky thing---I'll explain why that is for myself in a moment.
The other main issue is that when I joined the organization, someone screwed up. Big time. They crossfiled my contract with both Facilities (for the custodial work) and Operations (at a military rank.) There's two files on me in the system - my main, correct file which has me reporting to two branches of the organization (Facilities/Science), and this rogue one that's of the third (Ops.) So, when I made my recent request to Ops to include non-Ops personnel in basic combat training (in case of another alien attack on X-Com facilities), I assumed that was the reason behind the memo that I got, asking me to meet with Dr. Markus.
I should have been suspicious when I saw how much he was grinning his damn fool head off. I understood the score, though, I figured that all of the staff on-base would be going through the same psionic screening that I was sitting down with Markus for. I've seen the film, I know the aliens can get in your mind. Apparently I'm fair-to-middling at the spoon-bending arts, and have been sent to training. Markus is smiling because he knows I'm being sent off to die, now.
Officially, I have no issue with psionic training---with a big enough brain, I could slaughter aliens like a wolf among lambs, and X-Com Has Need Of Me. Unofficially, I am damn dissatisfied with X-Com's organizational structure. I should not be in all three of the main branches (Ops, Science, Engineering/Facilities) of the organization at three wildly different ranks (Private, 1st Assistant, Chief Custodian.) I've tried to sketch out what that does to the org chart - it makes it look like a damn pretzel.Privately, I'm livid that I've become a football in the continuing power struggle between Lily and Markus. Personally, I need to make sure my Facilities commission remains secure, because if Dr. Markus were to "restructure" the Science department and cut me out, I'd need to make very, very sure that I don't get stuck getting busted down the payscale (and up the deathscale) to rank private.
Also - as I return to scheduling next week's bathroom rota (B. O'Logiss gets containment pen duty for trying to use high explosives on stains---BLEACH WORKS JUST FINE, PEOPLE.), I'd like to note that I'm doing three jobs for single pay here. Officially? Bullshit!
Side note - Well, I'm no scientist, that's not what I went to school for, and I'm not a doctor, so I don't know much about medicine...but I suspect that the Boss, Lily, is going to be a mother as this year turns. I don't want to perpetuate any unfair stereotypes, but...pregnant women can get crazy. I've seen it. Just when you thought the workplace wasn't dangerous any more, you look around and the joint's landmines from wall to wall. I gotta be ultra-cool now. But still gotta be nice. 'slike I said. I LIKE my boss. She's great fun, though a bit wackier than I usually hang out with. Just...can't let emotion get the better of the rest of the brain---we all gotta survive, and these petty power struggles and disagreements could very well be the death of us all.
[LOG ENTRY: JEAN MAURY, RECRUIT IN TRAINING]
[LOG ENTRY TITLE: e son ooh maize mow DEET cigarettes de marde]
[<TRANSCRIPTION NOTE: LOG WAS TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH, WITH EXCEPTION OF UNKNOWN TERMS (IN ITALICS)]
Well, what the crisse is going on in this shit? One minute I'm thinking, hey, it's the weekend, I can go down to Club Supersexe, see les filles faire un strip [? sic]; the next moment I'm getting a call on my cellular from the boss who is telling me to get down to the office, immediately. I sacre myself (?) a bit, then I pull out the car and drive to the office.
I get there, the boss, he is telling me I've been assigned to this project, I tell him to se faire foutre, he screams in my face and tells me I do it or I get fired. I shrug, I say okay, I turn and light a cigarette to piss him off, he yells at me some more, tells me the documents are on my desk, then to get out of his office or he'll fire me anyway.
So the papers say I have to go to CFS Val d'Or - which was fucking closed in the 70s! - and take a military transport to some base somewhere for training. DND letterhead, SQ letterhead, a letter from the Premier Ministre, tabernac, telling me how important en maudit the whole affair of shit [? tr. sic] is. Tells me to leave my uniform, but take my guns from the arsenal with me, just in case. Well, I didn't want to disappoint the damn military, so I went to the armory and signed out my Glock and one of those rifles I can never remember the name of it doesn't matter in damn [?], they shipped it back anyway.
So I drive up in my bagnole rouillé [? car?] after packing some clothes from home and there's a bunch of military there, serious as damn [?]. They frisk me - I think the one was gai comme un fan des Leafs [??] - and put me on the chopper with a bunch of other guys, nobody talking. I was for grabbing a cigarette when a military grabbed my cigs and said in English, "No smoking, pal". I said to him, "Why the 'ell no?" He says, "Safety regs. I'm keeping these." It was a long flight en tabaranac without cigarettes.
Now I'm here in some sort of training base - it's like back at police academy again, but in English and with 'psionics'. Like the trainers watched too many episodes of the X-Files on the cable. Seems to me pointless, but I suppose that whatever, if I do well maybe I can get my cigarettes back.
Audio Playback Beginning
Well fuckballs. I thought it was a joke when one of the sergeants said I'm just as likely to die from friendly fire as I am from enemy fire. I at least thought he was referring to the battle field... Anyways just when I think things can't get much worse reality has a way of proving me wrong. It all started when I received an email saying I had to be at one of the labs first thing in the morning. I didn't think anything of it but when I arrived no one was around, I just looked around a little bit then I turn around and I realized I had just walked into a trap.
Dr. Lily Takakumi: Hello Jonas Aldor
Torlon: Please don't call me that I prefer my middle name of Torlon. And I swear I haven't touched anything!
Dr. Lily Takakumi: Oh I'm not worried about that, the nerve gas would've gone off if you had
Torlon: Nerve gas?!
Dr. Lily Takakumi: Stop being so paranoid, even though things are out to get out
Torlon: Oh gee thanks, ignoring my own metal issues why am I here and how can I leave this room while keeping most of my internal organs internal?
Dr. Lily Takakumi: Well it's just Ms. Cuddles would like for her new little toy to be finished and the suit uses a lot of your research so I thought you'd love to help finish it or at least play with her and her new toy. The choice is yours which will it be?
Ms. Cuddles: Myuu!
I'm fairly sure the first choice was the one that let me keep my internal organs internal so I agreed to help complete the armor. This deal was not without it's perks though, the good doctor gave me access to a great deal of the X-Com database and luckily for me that's all I needed to fix the problem of armor plating the tail. It was actually fairly easy because she had already built a prototype tail but it had the habit of causing huge electrical discharges. This bug we decided to make a feature in the working model. When the MEOW is done it'll able to electrocute people, aliens, and mice at a range of 0 to 30 yards away as well as fire plasma at a range and strength comparable to X-Com issued weapons.
Yeah, seeing how I first signed on as a medic this is exactly what I thought I'd be doing for X-Com. Helping design weapon systems that are just as likely to attack friendly units outside of battle as enemy units in battle. I feel like I'm working for the daughter of Dr. Wily. I swear if she comes up with some kind of device which allows the MEOW to combine with the power armor I might have to end up going AWOL.
This is Trainee Torlon signing off
Audio Playback Halted
Audio Log, L. Takakumi
Well, I must say, he crumbled much easier than I'd expected. Then again, I do remember the security tapes showing he was a witness to the rocket boosters, and hey, the nerve gas line never hurts.
A lot of them think I'm kidding about it though. One went so far as to try to call my bluff. Ah well, not all soldiers die from alien fire, and that's Darwin in action!
So anyway the MEOW now has the Tesla Inducting Tail completed, and combining that with the what I call a 'Plasmic Unrestrained Supreme Slaying Yielder' are all part of the first steps to what I hypothetically call the Feline Ultimate Crusher and Krumbler.
Torlon gave me the idea when he thought I couldn't hear. A kitty's dream is a giant robot, after all, and I've decided Ms. Cuddles needs to be prepared in case Japan is attacked by, like, Ghidra, because Godzilla just can't be counted on to appear like in the movies.
If he were gonna appear, he would have stopped the bugs from destroying my ancestral homeland.
In other news, Ms. Cuddles has seemed a bit fussy of late, and I think it's because she's a bit jealous of my, uhm, state. So anyway I had her escort Allen into town so they could go hunting for a husband for her.
Just think! She'll be Mrs. Cuddles and then there will be lots of adorable kittens running around.
Oh, and note to self - Tell Allen the litterbox is henceforth o be emptied in Dr. Markus' sink.
Allen Wren posted:
OPERATION CODENAME - SIERRA POPULI
TIMESTAMP 2030, Multi-Purpose Laboratory 3
The lab was silent, hunched and shining, smelling of chemicals and cold as it waited for the next alien corpse to pass through its doors, on its way to the dissection table. Wren faced the back of the room, hoping that he appeared to be staring inscrutably into space, but also hoping he didn't just look like an asshole.
The door behind him opened, two X-COM recruits entering. Wren did not turn around.
"Gentlemen," he began, then slowly turned towards the door. He paused. "Sorry. Gentlepeople. Ma'am. Sir." He gestured at the two stools on their side of the gleaming dissection table. "I assume that you're aware of who I am, which, in turn, makes you wonder why you're here." He sat. "Science division has need of you."
The soldiers blanched, apparently well aware of the nature of Allen's connections to SciDiv.
"Yes, this project is under the purview of Dr. Takakumi's R&D branch, but our need is purely military. You've been chosen because Dr. Takakumi and I feel that not only are you capable security operatives, you can be trusted with handling information of a sensitive nature. If you feel you cannot handle the mission we're about to offer, there's the door."
No-one moved. Wren nodded. "The reason behind the secrecy is because we are about to embark on what may be the first undercover operation in X-COM's operational history. This is also the first activity that X-COM has conducted aboveground within the...neighborhood, so to speak, of Early Light. On the surface. Interacting with the locals. Anything that blows our cover...well, you can imagine the bullshit fallout. Still with me?"
"So, we all get to go outside for a bit. That's the other side of this secrecy coin. As we have to keep activity above the base---the secret, hidden base---minimized, X-COMmers, as you're aware, don't leave, except on assignment. No-one on this base is to know that we were outside. Understood?"
"Now, two things." Wren reached down to his belt and pulled out a pistol, laying it on the steel table between them. "This mission is the escort of a VIP. If you blow X-COM's cover or if you laugh at the VIP's identity, I will ventilate the skull of the one of you responsible and make the other one clean up the brain matter. Capische?"
Wren stared hard for a moment, making sure the grunts understood the deal. "There are some street clothes in the equipment locker under the table. Bring your sidearms, but no lasers. Pistols and bullets only. I'll be back in five minutes with the VIP."
TIMESTAMP 2107, An elevator.
Wren looked at the two rookie operatives. "See why I said not to laugh?" he remarked, gesturing with the leash he held.
TIMESTAMP 2230, Carabinieri surveillance van, bugged by X-COM COINTEL
The girl, wearing a sensible pair of jeans and an overlarge sweater to conceal her sidearm, walked to the right, the street side of the trio. The younger male had his weapon in his baggy pants, overlarge shirt hiding the grip. The man in the middle walked behind the trotting, gold-furred feline, which looked rather pleased with itself, all things considered.
"So where did you get that ugly-ass shirt?" The rookie asked, indicating Wren's garishly-colored, shiny red shirt with green trim, the number 14 and the name PASHININ on the back. "Won it in a poker game off some Russian who got greased pretty early on. I feel a little obligated to wear it, he was a big-time fan."
TIMESTAMP 2245, Carabinieri surveillance van, bugged by X-COM COINTEL, compared with traffic cameras, same location.
"What the FUCK did you do? I leave you assholes alone for one minute..."
The view cuts to the crime-stopper camera on the nearby lightpole, showing the three of them chasing unearthly howls of pain around a corner into an alley...in time to find Ms. Cuddles sitting atop the twitching corpse of a much larger tomcat, gently chewing a bit of meat from the other cat's throat.
"Like mother, like daughter, eh, Al?"
"And you sleep with that woman?"
"Can it, rooks. My boss is my business."
TIMESTAMP 2300, apparently a Tapas bar. In Sicily. No, we don't understand it either.
Wren sat with cat on lap, feeding it a piece of lamb. "I can't even see how you're hungry after that."
The female of the species tapped Wren on the shoulder. "Al. You'll wanna see this."
"The cover band? They've been there all night. They've sucked all night, too. The accordion plus hair-metal is a combination from hell. I never want to hear "Don't Stop Believing" or "I Can't Hold Back" again."
The other rookie leaned in. "Yeah, take a closer look at them. Uniforms. Hair."
Wren obligingly spun around, munching on another piece of lamb. Onstage, four guys crashed their way into another crappy song. Four guys with towering flat-top haircuts and grey jumpsuits. The lead singer lifted his hands from his accordion and yelled into the microphone:
"WE ARE THE X-COM SEX BOMBS! 1-2-3-4!"
There was a brief pause in motion at the table as three of the four minds seated there crashed to a halt.
Allen's brain very quickly calculated concepts of heads on platters and whose should grace the plates to keep his attached to his neck. His mood darkening, he muttered, "Weapons cold. We can't grease them here." He thought for a moment more, asking deadpanly, "Who. Are. They."
Both rookies shrugged.
Wren glared, giving Ms. Cuddles a scritch behind the ears, the cat leaning into his hand. "FIND OUT."