The Let's Play Archive

X-Com: Enemy Within

by Speedball

Part 5: Sergeant-Class and Lower Orientation

Part 5: Sergeant-Class and Lower Orientation:

Greetings, recruits. By now you should be aware of the fact that aliens are real and are slowly but surely invading our planet. What you do not know is this is not the first time.

The original incarnation of XCOM was a repurposed Cold War bureau of the United States government, intended to mount a resistance against Soviet invaders in case they nuked America and won. This was back when everyone thought stuff like Red Dawn was an inevitability and the human race was wasting an enormous amount of resources on history’s biggest pissing match.

The Soviet invasion never occurred, but instead, the world was paralyzed by the incursion of a different form of invader: aliens we code-named Outsiders. Their real name was “Zudjari” but that doesn’t matter now. The short version is: we won, but the original XCOM was destroyed in the process. Only a handful of people survived, including me. And no, I’m not telling you which one I was.

The Zudjari used an artificial virus —really more like a nanomachine— and infected 95% of the earth’s population with it. It was designed to slowly take over people’s minds, with the final stage turning them into drooling mindless zombies called “Sleepwalkers.” Defeating the Zudjari destroyed their mind control network and cured the disease, leaving almost everyone with memory loss. Today, the outbreak is thought of as a biological weapon that went awry, with both the East and West agreeing on a total ban of all bioweapon use in the future.

If you’re wondering why there’s no physical evidence of previous alien invasions, it’s because when we kicked their asses off our planet, we got rid of all their junk. This was vital. The image you are seeing here is not an alien city. It is a tower that was constructed within a single day on Earth. But all that metal had to come from somewhere.

Zudjari technology drains the resources around it in minutes to accomplish its tasks. Because of this, their home world was completely unsustainable, an industrial wasteland. That’s one of the reasons they were invading. And we Earthlings already have a problem grappling with the concept of “resource conservation.” We would have killed ourselves in five years if we had retained access to this.

Of course, this was also the Cold War, and nobody wanted to look weak during the Cold War, so the liars running our nations decided it would be best for the public to pretend aliens never invaded in the first place. However, we haven’t been completely sticking our heads in the sand since that day. One leftover technology we retained is the device that lets our satellite detect UFOs.

Modern XCOM does not answer to the United States government. It answers to a council of member nations that fund it, but even they are not where XCOM ends. We have staff and soldiers from all nations in our employ. We do not care if you are male, female, or undecided. We do not care if you’re black, white, brown, or minty green. The stakes are too high here for the petty squabbles of nations. Before you leave today, you will swear an oath that the good of the planet comes before your personal, familial, or even national needs. Our world is a tiny island in a vast ocean, and it’s time to grow the hell up.

One final note about fraternization: go for it. Everybody here is from somewhere different on the planet. Morale is important to me, you’re not allowed off the base, and you might learn to care about someone who’s not from your own neighborhood. So I’m all for it. Just use protection and it’s all good.

Hmph. I’m gonna go play cards with Zinchenko.
I don’t even have a social life. Guess that needs to change.

Ah, I see from the pink hair that you’ve been exposed to the Meld already, Sergeant. Looks like that’s how General Van Doorn knew of it. But, uh…why the pink armor?

The blue one gave it to me, she said it would go with my hair. …and I don’t think she was kidding, either…
And “Princess?”
A nepotism joke that got way outta hand when the pink hair struck. Sir, I have a really bad feeling about integrating with this…group. They’re not just undisciplined, they’re weird.
Right. I have something I want you to see, Sergeant.

You’re telling me we should risk the lives of our troops so we can bring one of these things in…alive?
Yes. Without a live specimen, we’ve reached the limits of what we can learn. From my studies, their nervous system is quite similar to ours. A large electrical shock delivered at close range will—
Close range?! And what happens when it doesn’t work? Do you think it’s worth the risk?

I do. We do not know our enemy. How can we hope to stop something we don’t understand? If we can capture one of these creatures alive, we may be able to communicate with it.
And…interrogate it…find out where they’re operating from…
Yes. That possibility outweighs all risks, in my opinion. Though I’m not sure how we could communicate, they don’t even have mouths…
Leave that to me! You just work on a place to store them.

Central Officer Bradford is actually quite intelligent, but he’s the end result of 5,000 years of military history refining the ultimate soldier. He’s overspecialized. If we suggested interrogating a human enemy, he wouldn’t have to be walked through it like a child. But now he’s dealing with something he doesn’t really consider people, so it never occurs to him that communication is a possibility.
I see…
If humans were the only enemy Bradford had to deal with, he’d be unstoppable. But we are dealing with things outside the earth, so we need people who think outside the box, literally. People whose capacity for original thought hasn’t been drilled out of them by instructors more interested in obedience than creativity. That’s why the soldiers you’ve met so far have been “eccentric.” Earth will not be saved by people who conform. It’ll be saved by the weirdos.
Well, when you put it like that, sir… Sergeant “Princess” reporting for duty! Heh.

What are your specialties?
I’m trained to coordinate with spotters, like all good snipers, and when it comes to close-range combat I’m deadly with a sidearm. My father’s idea of a gift for a 13-year-old girl is to give her a nine millimeter.
Yeah, that sounds like him. He’s being brought on board, too. Nobody ever really leaves XCOM once they’re aware of it. He’ll be in charge of our officer training school.

Not much to do but wait until our projects are finished…or the aliens attack again…