Hey there, thanks for checking out my humble effort! :) I thought it could be fun and a bit of a challenge for me to try to basically retell the story of an XCOM campaign in writing. Thing is, there really isn't a point to it if there is no one reading it so I thought I'd share it with you hoping for some critique and such. I've finished the first "chapter" will probably continue a little while longer no matter what, then - knowing myself - it will probably depend on your feedback if I keep working on it.
Anyway, here is the 1st part. Enjoy!
Vigilo Confido - An XCOM StoryThis was never supposed to happen.
Part 1: Adventus
Luckily, some people so high up you couldn’t have even seen them from the top of Mount Everest had a backup plan anyway.
Not that I believed any of it until I saw it with my own eyes.
It all started with a sort of an exchange program for hopeful soldiers from all around the world. A camp, if you may, for the most promising of us, surrounded with the latest high-tech gadgets and know-how and a group of elite commanders forming us into an iron-clad group of military might. And when that was done, we were supposed to go back home and spread the knowledge.
Or at least that was what they were telling us.
Something was fishy. I guess we should have figured it out shortly after an airship we have never even heard of before landed in the middle of the base and then blacker-than-black ops guys with helmets and the sickest guns I’ve ever seen escorted us onboard. It didn’t seem like any boot camp I’ve ever been in.
So there were we, me and my buddy Rob and two guys I’ve never seen before from a completely different part of the world plus a bunch of those mysterious loonies next to us with loaded guns. I decided it wasn’t the time to make acquaintances.
Half an hour or so has passed until we landed right in the middle of nowhere with pinpoint accuracy to boot. We were in a desert and they were not going to tell us which one it was. „It is for your own safety”, they said. Because it really makes a man feel safe if he has no idea where the hell he even is.
The next thing I saw was so ridiculous I thought I somehow ended up a Bond movie or something. It took us five minutes on foot to reach a mountain of sorts with a gigantic metal blast door in one of the craters. It opened as soon as we got near to it and I got my first glimpse of the place I was going to spend the upcoming months in: a hangarbay of sorts full of construction tools and workers and the blinding light of blowtorches.
„Sorry boys, the runway is still too bumpy for the Skyranger. It should be patched up in a few days” – said one of the ones in the fancy helmets as we descended on a dodgy little elevator of sorts. „This one’s here for the workers but we thought you’d prefer this to climbing down on ropes.”
„Seems more reliable than the coffee machine back where we came from”, quipped Rob. He had a tendency to make these remarks, corny little jokes that only one or two of the group could possibly get. I could have confirmed that said monstrosity was worse than a laundry in Chinatown but I thought it would be better to stay silent. For all I know, those could be Chinese under the helmets.
No one else took the liberty to respond as they’ve escorted us to a waiting room of sorts. I never saw such a grey waiting room in my life. One of the anonymous spec ops people spoke into their earpice, addressing some sort of „Commander” and informed him that „the last ones have arrived as well, sir”. Those of us who were paying attention to them could also learn that „all personnel are accounted for” and „if everything goes as planned, this place should be fully operational in two days”. Then they all left the room. It was the time slot allotted to making friends.
„So, do you have any idea what is going on?”, asked Rob what was surely on the mind of all of us. He was a lot more talkative than me, not that he had a chance to showcase it since the start of this weird endeavor.
„No clue, man. They never want to tell us anything in Brazil, it would seem”, shrugged one of the fellow passengers that I didn’t know. „Where do you come from?”
„From the UK. The name’s Robert.”
„Robert Cooper”, he said, grinning. He always hated to mention his last name. Family issues he couldn’t get over in 28 years.
„The one next to me”, he continued, „is Wayne.”
„Wayne Seaman for the curious type”, I added.
„I’m Luiz Melo”, he answered. „I wish I knew what was going on here, too. It just doesn’t feel right, does it?”
„No, it doesn’t. I’ve heard rumours that the Russians were maybe up to something and that’s why we are here now. I have no idea but even I can tell you this is not a goddamn „exchange program” or whatever they want to call it.”
I sighed. Rob, always the first to know of all the rumours and always the last one to let them go after an official explanation surfaced. „Just wait and see, he’ll still be on about the Russians after we get back home”, I thought, still slightly clinging to the hope that this is actually what it is said to be.
All of a sudden, the fourth guy spoke up.
„It’s not the Russians”, he said. „It’s X-Rays.”
„How do you know that? From what I’ve heard, the Russkies…”
„My name is Vladimir Pankov. If this was something against Russia, I would probably not be here, would I?”
That silenced my friend. Quite the accomplishment.
„X-Rays, you say? What have you heard?”, asked Luiz, sitting up in his chair. I knew he was thinking of the Varginha Incident. Not that that wasn’t quite some time ago.
„It’s exactly what you would think. UFO-s, some abductions here and there and well-documented and unbelievably classified cases of alien aggression. From what I’ve heard, we’re here to strike back.”
„That would explain the ridiculous security”, I said.
„But if so, why us? Why not the best of the best? The absolute elite?”
„I guess they are relying on beginner’s luck.”
The discussion continued right until the men in the helmets returned, ready to escort us even deeper inside this mysterious place. We shut the hell up again.
The whole situation was nothing short of intimidating.
Then came a few minutes of us slowly walking through narrow metallic corridors, footsteps echoing everywhere, the lights on the ceiling blinding us all. It was quite a relief to reach our destination. As I later learned, they were the living quarters.
It was chock-full of men and women that were quite clearly in the same shoes as us: confused, worried, and also some of the best rookies the world had to offer.
They kept us waiting for a few minutes without any order to speak of which we spent with, well, making acquaintances. If you can call „asking everyone in sight if they know what the hell is going on” that.
Some, but by far not all of the answers have been revealed after we’ve been told to take seats in an auditorium of sorts (which, as we later learned, was going to be the officer training school when any of us became experienced enough for a promotion but also not turned into jelly on the battlefield) a corridor or two away. A man in a ridiculous green pullover with a logo yet unknown to me walked on stage and gave us a briefing of sorts.
„I am Central Officer Bradford”, he said. „From now on, you will all address me as your superior. I will be providing tactical support when you’re on the field. Time is of the essence so allow me to showcase the weapons you will be using while you’re taking part in this project. You may have seen some of them already if you have looked at the equipment of any of the operatives who escorted you here. This”, he said, as he took away one of those awesome-looking rifles from one of the mysterious men, „is going to be the standard issue equipment down here. An upgraded version of the assault rifle you are probably used to with lesser ammo consumption, a higher fire rate and slightly increased accuracy. One of the most important parts of this project is to assess the effectiveness of these weapon prototypes. There’s more weapons to showcase but I’m afraid that will have to wait for now.”
I couldn’t wait until I got my hands on one of those.
„You will also receive specialized armor for testing purposes. It should be more effective than a standard kevlar vest. As for this”, Bradford continued, lifting up a frag grenade that I had no idea where he got from, „I think you have seen these before”.
He was probably trying to feign a joke or something. He was better at it than Rob was ever going to be.
„Now it’s time for you to head to our armory and get in combat gear. Four of you will be selected to a special task, they will be informed separately in twenty minutes. You can take that as your first order.” He stopped for a second and then theatrically added: „Welcome to XCOM HQ, soldiers.”
XCOM. Didn’t sound like anything even remotely related to Russians. I made a mental note to mention this to Rob when I get the chance.