Baxter smiled, "Are we naming our weapons? If so, I call dibs on the name 'Tiddly-Winks.' Also, I think we need a better name for what to call the aliens as a whole. What do you guys think about 'Assholes from the Asteroids'?"
Thomas couldn't hide a sigh at the group's antics. While he realized some of the team were trying drop the tension of the situation, Baxter was starting to drive him up the wall and Adam was just as bad. However as the team was all here, he knew that it was time to head out. "Baxter, why don't we wait until we meet the bastards before giving them a name. Now, everyone whose here for the mission, get on board."
Following that, he moved towards the front of the skyranger so Cole could hear him. "Alright pilot, lets get this show on the road; the longer we wait, the less likely we are to catch them."
Cole waited for everyone to get on board and then began takeoff, damn skyrangers had too many functions for their own good and he wasn't used to the VTOL function either.
The roof opened above him and he took off towards the invasion site, assuming that's what it is.
*mumbles about who is the commander on the ground*
"I heard that... technically, Staff Sergeant Vanson is in command but as he hasn't shown any desire to command and has barely spoken, it falls to me due to rank."
"I'm not sure I understand the logic of me not being the most talkative before the mission would push me out of the running for command. And how old are you? You look like your around ten years younger then I am," he said somewhat indignant.
Thomas couldn't help but feel a little like a moron at the moment and thus could only come up with a "Sorry, Sir."
"Well, I was a Corporal before, can't imagine it resets. I shot A LOT of people to get to where I was... Although I vote man-bear for leader, if only because he scares me."
04:30 (UTC +1)
March 4th, 2015
In the Cabin of the Skyranger, the rudimentary volumetric projector located towards the forward end flickered to life, showing both a simple wire-map of an urban area, and a grainy live-video feed of Central Officer Hagen.
"Delta, this is Central. Stand by for briefing."
Once the ground team's attention was fully on her, Hagen continued, her voice maintaining a professional calm that she had gained through years of experience.
"At approximately 0130 UTC this morning, a number of unknown objects fell to Earth in an area just south of Algiers, in the city's outskirts. We've ruled out the possibility of a downed satellite, we've come to believe that these objects are....extraterrestrial, in origin. half an hour after impact, an Algerian military recon team was flown in via helicopter into the area, but the helo crashed after it reporded taking small arms fire and suffering a damaged engine. Any form of communication with the recon team ceased soon after. As such, the Algerian government is now requesting our assistance."
The wire-map expanded in display, as Hagen's video feed shrank.
"Welcome to Operation Devil's Moon. The weather forcast is rainy, and the enemy forcast is a big old blank." Hagen smiled weakly at the joke, but quickly went back to her briefing after it became apparent that the humor had fallen flat "The Algerian military has already established a perimeter in a two-block radius around the center of the site, located here."
A luminous red dot appeared on the wire-map, in the middle of a wide street. A blue square came into view as it encapsulated the surrounding area, denoting the perimeter.
"Your mission here is two-fold. First, you are to set down and sweep the area for hostiles, then investigate and secure any alien objects. Secondly, you are to acertain the status of the Algerian recon team, and evac any surviving members, if possible. I recommend that you start your search right here at this intersection, which is the only suitable area large enough for the Skyranger to set down."
A green outline of the Skyranger appeared at an intersection on the map a short distance from the center dot, while a red circle overlayed itself over a smal area that encompassed both the central dot and the LZ, denoting the area where the Algerian helicoper may have gone down in.
"As you all are aware, Algeria isn't a funding member of the Council, but they do provide us with manpower and material support. Therefore, we're all expecting you guys to do your best out there. That said, be careful, stay alert and come home safe. We're all rooting for you back here."
Hagen gave a quick salute as her feed became more and more grainier.
"Vanson is in command on the ground, but we'll be monitoring the situation from here. Once again, good luck to you all. Central out."
Cole set the skyranger down in the marked intersection and opened the back to the outside. Half expecting a hail of lasers to bathe the inside when he opened it he turned in his seat to the door and trained his pistol on the exit.
"Taking point." Baxter called out, hopping out. He dashed to cover behind a light pole, ducking behind it and checking his ammo again.
When the announcement finished, Adam heard the radio in his helmet crackle to life. Slipping it on, Adam gave a hearty, "Right on, let's cap some bad-guys!" before ducking into the Skyranger.
On the other end of the radio, Daniel calmly sat down and prepared himself. Switching to 'offical' channels, he contacted his superiors.
"Commander, as you may have read in my application, LandWarrior is installed inside Adam's equipment. After consolidating the system to HQ's computers, I am able to put my comrade Adam's POV through a variety of filters, such as Thermal, Night and my own personal invention, Bullet vision."
Daniel continued, pride seeping into his voice, "Bullet Vision makes use of sensors inside Adam's helmet, scope, and armor to predict the path his bullets will travel. In other words, with Bullet Vision, Adam and I can place a shot wherever we want almost 91% of the time."
"I ask for your permission to use this program, as well as request that you allow me to work with Engineering to mass-produce and upgrade this system."
Daniel concluded, noting that if he was green-lit, everything would be ready well before the strike team were to be engaged.
Adam stepped out of the ship and found the highest ground he could, "In position!" He said over the team's radio.
04:52 (UTC +1)
March 4th, 2015
"Delta, this is Central. I recommend extreme caution on your sweep. The objects were few and they're pretty small as far as we can tell, so you shouldn't be facing anything big, but still; take no chances. Primary objective as of now is to find the recon team. Central Out."
Commander Attano turned his attention away from the display of the ongoing mission to listen to the suddenly-speaking Mr. Mastick. Despite hearing out the young American, Lucas felt that the respose he was about to give would probably not be the one that the young man had wanted to hear.
"Euh, Mr. Mastick, if I'm not mistaken, I believe that your "Bullet Vision" may be rather redundant, at least in the way you describe it. Cannot a shooter already predict where his bullet will go with a reasonable degree of accuracy by simply looking through the scope? And perhaps taking in enviromental conditions as well, if the shot requires it? If that isn't the case, then the accuracy problem may not be with the technology, but rather with the man holding the rifle, don't you think?. I believe, perhaps, my young Yankee friend, you may be over-engineering your solution to a rather simple problem."
Attano looked at the crestfallen American sadly. He didn't like delivering bad news, after all, and he doubted that his next scentence would be recieved any better.
"And I'm afraid that having Engineering produce more Land Warrior kits would be rather redundant as well, I'm afraid. I've already secured a few dozen kits of the Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés, or FÉLIN for short, for our troops, which should arrive within the next day. I also secured copies the production equipment, so that we can produce any more of the kits that we need in-house. The addition of your Land Warrior system, updated and upgraded as it is from the out-dated stock version, would be rather pointless."
Attano was really starting to feel rather bad now, particularly as he looked at Mastick.
Perhaps Brit is right, maybe I can be overly-hard on my subordinates...
Attano looked back at Mastick, and placed his hand on the American's shoulder. He tried to speak in his warmest tone (though he suspected that he failed to sound all that warm).
"If I may, Mr. Mastick, offer some advice? Focus on the task at hand, help your comrades in the field. Don't trouble yourself with the long-term subjects such as what Engineering should produce. Leave those to me; I'll handle them. Don't worry."
With that, Attano went back to his spot near Hagen, as he resumed monitoring the ground team's progress.
"Not exactly doing your best to dispell the "French Jerk" stereotype, are you?" Hagen whispered, out of earshot of anyone else.
"I though I was rather gentle." The Commander replied.
"I've seen softer cacti..."
"Oh, please, I'm sure that....who's that?" Attano asked, as the door from the base proper to Mission Control slid open "Oh, no."
"Uh, Delta, Central here. Just a friendly reminder, both Command and Doc V are monitoring your progress here. Might want to turn your radio volume down a bit, this could get loud..."
Daniel quirked an eyebrow, "Sir? I believe you misunderstand. When I explained that Adam and I could place a shot anywhere we wanted, we meant anywhere. Across hyperlong distances and several layers of material, if the firing equipment allows. But I understand, and would like to lodge a request to examine your systems, perhaps merging the two for the best possible experience."
Daniel's attention snapped to the monitor. "Adam, did you see that?"
Adam looked puzzled, waiting for Daniel to spot targets for him, "See what?"
"About seven hundred feet to your 10-o-clock, my system is picking up..."
Adam shifted his gun in that direction, not able to see his brother's source of confusion.
"I see...something. LW is showing a big-ol' anomaly at that area. Be careful."
Adam paused, before relaying what he was told to the team.
Thomas left the skyranger and quickly moved to the buildings on the left side, using any outcroppings as cover. He made sure the area was clear before moving forward. When Adam relayed the information he got, He quickly turned to try find a good vantage point for recon.
Alex stayed silent during the conversation of who outranked who as the skyranger jetted towards their LZ. He was pretty sure staff sergeant out-ranked private. In fact, he was pretty sure everyone in the skyranger out-ranked him. Just another mystery as to why he was even here in the first place.
Then the briefing began. It was short and sweet, with no real information; surprise, surprise. It was increasingly frustrating to have to deal with superiors who refused "conjecture" in any of their reports. It made the young man wonder how any other military force functioned without a working grasp of educated assumption. Then again, the French didn't have the most polished military record in history.
Alex's internal chastisement was cut short as the skyranger swooped low, readying for landing. He gripped his rifle tightly, nervous and anxious about what he would encounter in the streets of Algiers. Before he could think about it, his legs were pumping him forwards and out of hatch in the back of the transport. He heard Baxter shout out that he was taking point which caught Alex off-guard. He almost hesitated, wondering where he was going to position himself if he wasn't taking his designated position. It was something he would have to worry about later as the LZ needed to be secured.
Filing out of the skyranger, the young man rounded around the transport to take up position on their six. His trained eyes quickly scanned the horizon down the sights of his rifle, picking out every detail with precision. After he knew the coast was clear within his field of view, he gently tapped his comm to activate it.
"All clear on the six," he barked out in a very stoic manner, "what are our orders, sir?"
Vanson thought quickly before saying, "Black, Yates, and Labelle, your with me. Team two will be led by Hill. Summers and Larson go with him. Hill take the left side of the street with your men. I will take mine and cover the right. Remember, don't leave cover unless you are moving to new cover. I don't care if it will give you a better firing position. I don't want anyone getting liquified on the first mission under my command. Any questions?"
"Yeah, can we shine a light on that place Adam pointed out first? I want to make sure it's a hallucination before we start moving." Baxter started moving towards Vansons position, making sure to follow his advice.
4:55 (UTC +1)
March 4th, 2015
"Frau Doktor" Commander Attano greeted the newly-arrived Head of Research with a smug smile and raised eyebrow. Contrary to what nearly all of XCOM's staff believed about the relationship between Commander Lucas Attano and Dr. Silvia Vahlen, their rivalry was actually a friendly one, and their constant needling of one another was generally in jest, playing up their national rivalry for fun. Their arguments, however, still could get rather heated, even if both participants weren't really trying to get on eachother's nerves.
"Still practicing that German singing voice of yours I see, Monsieur Commander." Vahlen replied, returning the raised eyebrows and following up with a faintly amused grin.
At this point, Hagen decided to intervene. She may not have been in charge concerning rank, but this was her Mission Control, and she would be damned if she'd abide by this kind of distraction. Not at a moment like this.
"If you two don't mind, we do have business to attend to."
Both Commander and Doctor stared at the Central Officer, then glanced at eachother, then wordlessly walked towards Hagen's monitoring station. It was rather out of character for "Sunny" Hagen to put a damper on something like this, she was notorious for attempting to maintain a light modd during even the most serious of times, and the now-serious Norwegian matching their gazes unnerved both of them.
It was at this point that Daniel Mastick chose to make his remark to Commander Attano's earlier words. The Commander assumed that he would have said more, but Hagen's now-withering death stare probably had something to do with the shortness of his statement. "No more interruptions, Mr. Mastick. Focus on the job at hand." She deadpanned.
Hagen now turned her attention back to monitoring the ground team.
"Delta, this is Central. I have an update on the missing Algerian Recon team. the team was six men strong, and judging from the final radio transmissions, they never were able to properly land their Helo, an Agusta-Westland AW101. With that in mind, you should expect to find them, and any of the chopper's surviving crew, close to the crash site. Speaking of which, we may have a fix on the helo wreck's location: approximately 340 meters from your position due north...right by that anomalous contact that Larson picked up. Seems like it went down right in front of a warehouse. I'll have TP&I try and pull blueprints for it, but in the meantime, proceed with Caution, Delta."
"Do you notice a bit of radio interference, Brit?" The Commander asked, pointing to the connection strength indicator on one of the nearby displays.
"Might just be weather conditions, or possibly some residual atmospheric entry radiation from the ET objects."
"Possibly, but something's bothering me about it..."
"What's bothering you about it, Commander" Dr. Vahlen interjected, also examining the connection strength indicator "Is that the interference isn't constant, but rahter is in a regular pattern of higher and lower interference. It actually may be..."
"...A radio broadcast." The Commander finished, coming to the same conclusion as the Doctor. "What are our contact protocols with the Algerians on the perimeter?"
"They's supposed to use a secure encrypted channel to contact us. What you're looking at, isn't that. It's basic, regular, and unencrypted."
"Big Sky" the radio chimed in the Skyranger "this is Command. We have what may be an anomalous radio transmission originating in your area. Set one of your secondary radios to channel 610.00 and have it automatically forward us whatever it picks up. Command out"
"Good question. Yes we can soldier. We will move to check it out. Just do not leave formation unless you are told otherwise by me or Hill if I am not available. Any other questions before we move out to check out the possible bogie?" Vanson said in a forceful tone mostly because he doesn't know how to speak any other way. Vanson then heard the message from command. "Heh guess we had to head there anyway."
Nathan checked his rifle and began walking towards the crash site.
He turned on his radio contacting command "Are we shooting first or are we going to wait for them to if we see them?"
Daniel's brow furrowed, barely comprehending the officer's words, "Adam, look around some more, i'll see if I can't- Oh. Oh dear."
Adam didn't like the sound of that. "We're not about to get buttfucked, are we?"
"Well...I've lost them. Switch to thermal." Adam did so.
"Jesus christ, I've sighted the target." Adam said into the Team's radio. "A couple hundred yards straight ahead, we've got one hell of a hot mass ahead. Probably the downed chopper. Ain't no word on the X-rays, they've gone off towards it though."
Daniel inched closer to the screen. "Night Vision."
Daniel recoiled when his partner switched viewing modes. "Oh my god...CONTACT!" Daniel practically yelled, before Adam had the chance to relay his brother's sentiments.
"Warm bodies approximately twenty meters to the side of the presumed crash site. They're fully mobile, which isn't usually common in aviational accidents."
Adam was lining up a shot, waiting for confirmation from somebody.
Vanson replied in his deep south accent, "Well, they appear to have already made there intentions clear due to all the missing people. So I would say that if you have a shot you better take it, soldier." He heard the yells of Adam and Daniel, "Well it looks like we are going to make contact boys. Open fire when you see fit."
"Wait, we should at least check to make sure it's a bogie, right? We could be shooting a friendly. Perhaps a signal with our laser sight?" Baxter raised his rifle in spite of himself, aimed to kill anything that moves. He smiled grimly at his own hypocrisy.
04:57 (UTC +1)
March 4th, 2015
"Delta, this is Central. Confirm your targets before firing, I don't want blue-on-blue!"
"I need a visual on the subjects, someone pull up Larson's feed!"
The image was grainy, the lack of clarity from the camera was exacerbated by the Night Vision filter through which the scene was viewed. Hagen, the commander, and Dr. Vahlen all studied the picture.
The image showed the large bulk of the helicopter, still very warm and possibly having a few embers still burning, judging from the glow it gave off. To the right of the crash site, there were the warm bodies, moving and pulsating in the darkness, staying in the same few spots but clearly moving and shifting around. There wasn't a clean visual, though, and the graininess and the smoke coming from the wreck obscured the bodies. Still, something didn't seem quite right...
"...Larson may be a bit jittery. We've got warm bodies in view, but they don't look mobile. Looks like two bodies close together, both appear to be moving, that might explain why he thought it was one fully-mobile contact. There's a similar group a short disrance closer to the wreck."
"Mastick, relay to Larson, tell him to do a visual sweep of the front of the warehouse. It looks like what he saw may be what's left of the Algerian team.
"Delta, this is Central. It looks like you may be looking at the bodies of the recon team, or possibly the chopper crew. There still appears to be movement, though. Someone may still be alive. Move to investigate, but proceed with caution. And again, confirm targets before you fire. Stand by for any more information...."
"We've managed to identify the weird radio transmission that we noticed earlier, sir. Looks like it's a looped message." said one of the Tactical Planning & Information personnell.
"Play it." replied Attano.
The sound quality was garbage, but there was still words very clearly being spoken on the other end. Being spoken in a human language, no less. Attano was the first to pick up on it.
"I'm out of practice, but I'm fairly certain that that's Arabic. It sounds like whoever is on the other end is saying "Help Me", in the Formal register, stragely. Normally interjections like that are spoken in the colloquial dialects..."
The transmission continued to repeat the same words slowly, over and over again, but then something changed.
"That's French! Accented, but recognizable. Whoever is on the other end is still saying, however, the same thing. 'Help Me', is still being repeated. Can we get a fix on the signal's origin?"
"Only in a general direction, sir, we don't have the setup for in-field triangulation."
Attano looked at the TP&I tech "Well?"
"Relative to Big Sky...It's coming from...the direction of the crash site, sir."
"Commander" Dr. Vahlen spoke up, again examing the various monitors "judging from the strength of the broadcast, I would hazard to guess that it is originating from withing a structure near the crash site. Perhaps the Warehouse."
Hagen reached the inevitable conclusion at the same time as the Doctor and the Commander. She turned to another TP&I tech.
"As soon as you get those blueprints for the warehouse, send them to Vanson's tablet."
"Delta, this is Central, we have a new development. We're picking up a strange radio broadcast from your area. Putting it on now..."
Hagen played a small portion of the broadcast, samples of both the French and Arabic alternating parts, over the squad's local radio net.
"It keeps repeating over and over: 'Help me' in both Arabic and Arabic-accented French. We're not sure for certain, but we believe that it may becoming from the warehouse by the crash site, based on the signal strength and direction. Judging from the content of the broadcast, it may be one of the Algerian recon soldiers. After you've investigated the wreck, we want you to check this out. We're forwarding the warehouse blueprints to you now. Central out."
After Central finished it's broadcast, Daniel cut back into Adam's head. "Orders from on high, we gotta get a better look. Command says could be friendly."
Adam relayed Daniel's words to the squad, adding, "But if someone opens fire, I say we go for the legs and see how they react. Anyway, let's get our asses in gear, right boys?"
Adam moved up before hearing Daniel again, "See if you can get bullet vision of the contacts, it should be able to tell us whether of not these things are... terrestrial."
Adam began moving forwards, aiming to be a hundred yards away before scoping into BV mode. He made sure to keep pace, and a bit behind the rest of the squad, though.
Nathan looked around before sprinting towards the crashsite, ahead of the rest of the team.
04:59 (UTC +1)
March 4th, 2015
"Crashsite's coming into view now."
"I see it.....My God, look at that..."
The Crashed helicopter was, at first glance, unremarkable, the only signs of something strange having occured were the anomalous burn damage site, similar but far smaller in scale to the American fighter jet that had been hit a more than a week ago; but the bodies near it were certainly strange.
"Some appear to still be alive, but only just. That explains the movement that we saw."
"Doctor, is there anything that our troops can do for them? They are carrying medkits..."
A finger pointed towards the display "I'm afraid, Central Officer, that our men are too late to help." On screen, one of the bodies ceased to move, soon followed by it's nearest neighbor. The other bodies in view lay still, giving no indication of clinging to life.
"...Damn. So, we lost the recon team, or at least, most of it. Let's take a count; 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... and it looks like there still may be one body in the cockpit. That's the crew accounted for, and nearly all the team, save one..."
"Ma'am, the radio message is still playing, and we may have something new on it. We thought it was a loop at first, but we've analyzed the pitch and volume variance; it's a live broadcast, just spoken in monotone."
"Live? Then, that must mean that..."
"Delta, this is Central. We can confirm that the entire helo crew and almost all of the recon team are KIA, but it looks like our mystery broadcast coming from the warehouse in the last remaining soldier. We don't know his condition or exact position, but if we hade to guess, he's probably located somewhere in the center of the structure, most likely on the ground floor. This overrides everything else. Get inside and find that soldier. We've analyzed the blueprints on the warehouse, and I would recommend a simultaneous breach through the front door and front windows, after checking through them, obviously. After that, move as a group towards the center of the warehouse, but go slow and be careful, this has trap written all over it. Keep a sharp eye out and check your corners and flanks, you're going to have a lot of narrow spaces in there, and it could get difficult to manouver through those box piles. We'll be monitoring your progress. Central out."
Nathan slinged his rifle onto his back and began checking the dead for weapons and ammo.
He found an assault rifle near the helicopter and grabbed a few magazines for it from the nearby corpse, as well as a grenade.
He checked the rifle, decided that it was in working condition and approached the building, he positioned for the breach at one of the windows.
*comes running out of the skyranger being the most Lilith member she seems to cover more ground then her bulky male mates and takes cover behind a flipped over ambulance*'Central am in position and i can see one of the objects and a very badly mangled body it looks military how copy central"*peeks around to see where the Sergeant is and the big heavy and sniper went*
Baxter flashed an 'I told you so' smile to his comrades, jogging to the warehouse, ever mindful to stay behind covers. He took a position near the window, peeking in.
"It's really fucking dark in there, flashlights on when we go in."
The second squads had been drawn up, Alex had moved into a protective firing position to cover Adam. Sniper babysitting wasn't really up the young man's alley, but it wasn't as if he had a choice in the matter. Besides, he thought, Sergeant Hill will want to get moving up soon enough. He had seen the sergeant drill and the man seemed to prefer being at the vanguard of the action.
However, time passed and there were no orders to move. Sergeant Vanson's squad had already made contact with the crew as more and more information was fed from Central. Alex was almost on the balls of his feet, ready to sprint towards the breaching point if it weren't for his lack of permission. He gave another sideways glance towards Adam, then Thomas in turn, waiting impatiently for the order to move up.
"Figures..." he muttered under his breath.
*reach's out to flick the lamp on that's at the end of her shot gun*Soon Bella so what do you think happened to those body's tho there all mangled and hacked up ? also i'll take the right sir * ( ok am a tad confused as to whose who here can we maybe get like a set up from central on whose positioned where ? )
05:02 (UTC +1)
March 4th, 2015
"Delta, Central. I would recommend a 2-3-2 entry plan for the warehouse; Baxter and LaBelle, take the right window, Hill and Makhuba will take the left window, while Vanson takes the double doors with Larson and Black. If at all possible, I would recommend a quiet entry, but regardless, go in expecting a fight. We've managed to pinpoint the location of our missing POI, you should be able to get a visual on him the moment you clear the first aisle of boxes. Assume he's armed, and assume that there are hostiles covering him. I get the feeling that this is too convinient to be anything other than a trap, so make sure you cover all your angles. We're sending you an updated floorplan of the warehouse now. You may breach when ready...Good luck."
The Central Officer turned towards the assembled Mission Control techs, addressing them. "I want every video feed and audio feed from Delta fully recorded. Everything. Get every single bit of information that we can pull. Tell the Algerians to put a copter in the air, one with recon gear and give me an out-of-zone flyby. Relay the findings to Delta. I want to see if there's anything that we're missing."
Baxter wasn't a fan of quiet, but he felt his friends would prefer it. He held his breath as he opened the window. It echoed through the warehouse, but there didn't seem to be any movement. He exhaled, and slithered his way in, looking a bit ridiculous in the process. When inside, he turned on his flashlight, taking the rightmost route deeper inside.