"Right. We're done in LA then. We're heading down to Antartica for an undetected launch, then you won't see ground until Cydonia. We clear?"
Murska spoke up
"Sort of, sir. That doesn't explain why the bag you picked up in LA is struggling and making 'MPH! MPH!" noises."
"It's for the movie. So, we're clear then. We got flight suits for everyone. Except Copper. You're wearing an old power suit."
I figured we might as well review some things on the way. No sense in leaving anyone in the dark on important mission plans now.
"Right, special orders for the mission. On the surface? Try not to kill any Sectoids you don't need to. Special request from Chumbley. They are technically sort of like people, and only leaders and commanders can radio in distress signals. Besides, someone to give you all practice on the proper use of the psi amp as a subject might be handy. Once we're in, priorities shift. Kill everyone in your way, but try to minimize property damage if you can help it. Some good tech in the central base, and if the central Ethereal empire takes offense at our little cleaning operation, we'll want every edge we can get."
I thought for a moment.
"Also, it's probably safe to let Nathan Fillion out of the bag now."
Kane looked a bit shocked.
"Wait. You kidnapped an actor? That's what the stop in LA was about? Some stupid autograph hound thing?"
"Of course not. He's starring in the X-COM movie, and I figure he should have some idea of what the work is like."
"You could have just invited him over to the base or something! There was no need to have the LAPD knock him out and stuff him into a bag for the trip to Cydonia!"
"Well, the other thing was plan 'A', but we kind of don't have time for that now. Ethereal fleet's planning an attack on HQ. Now or never, pal."
Of course, Fillion had some questions on getting out of the bag. Silly civvie questions like "Where am I?" "Why?" "Dear lord what is that thing?" and of course, "If those are high explosives, shouldn't you be storing them in a secure locker instead of juggling them?".
Well, answering those questions at least kept the troopers minds off of their all but inevitable demises. And soon enough, we neared Cydonia.
Or what we assumed was Cydonia. Hard to tell through the explosions in orbit.
"I don't know much about this X-COM thingy (other than the fact that it's commanded by a raving maniac) but aren't the UFOs supposed to be shootin' at us, and not, you know, each other?"
Huh. Looked like the Sectoids and Mutons had kept up the rebelling thing they'd promised. Well, it meant the alien's main fleet and the massive anti air batteries were occupied. Which meant we had a shot at actually landing alive.
"Nano, seems some people our buying us time with their lives. Be a shame to disappoint them by dying in orbit. Take us down."
"Aye Aye, Commander."
It was, of course, a bit touch and go for most of it, but we landed safely.
"Alright. We're in. Sheila, you and Lopez start scouting."
"Wait. The tank. Is named. Sheila."
Fillion. Good actor, but the guy had the dumbest questions.
"Yes. Now, Jimor, Tengu, BRC..."
"Wait. Why is there a woman over there without a space suit?"
"That's Slaanesh. Just be glad she's not naked. Anyway, Jimor, Tengu, BRC, mind whammy the sectoids they spot. Should have a clean map soon enough. Fillion, here's the blaster launcher. Aim it at that pyramid over there. It should pack enough of a kick to make an opening for the heavy armor."
"Wait. You're handing me the high explosives. Rather than the people supposedly trained to do this kind of thing."
"I let the psychotic AI pilot a tank. I let Copper over there live. Compared to that, giving the guy whose war experience consists of a minor role in 'Saving Private Ryan' fire the gun with the world's easiest to use interface is prefectly reasonable. Just set the waypoints and fire."
"We aren't dead. I am noting a conspicuous absence of perishedness in this craft."
Trazoi responded well enough to that comment.
"Good shooting, rookie. When and if we make it back to a bar alive, drinks are on me."
He paused for a second.
"Except Jimor's. Even a captain's salary cuts off well before it can pay that."
Rapture seemed mildly irritated not to get a kill shot. Tough for him.
After a bit of fun with the psi amp, a Sectoid leader, and a live grenade, and a lot of work for those of us (Me, Rapture, Slaanesh, Tengu, BRC, Murska, Kane, and Jimor) at the psi amps, we were ready to head to the apparent transport deeper in the base.
I went down first, carrying that X-COM flag someone made as a prank a couple months back.
One small step for a man, one giant leap for all future bragging rights. I love this job.
Rapture dealt with a Sectoid that had somehow missed the sweep fairly well.
"Back in the box, insect."
Good to see some enthusiasm for the work.
Kane seemed exited over something. I headed over as quick as I could."
"Alright! A loaded Hernia Pete!"
"Just a nickname we Fort Fri boys had for the heavy plasma. Hauling it around tended to give new guys a hernia. Should even the odds a bit."
"Alright. Everybody in?"
A chorus of yeses, rodgers, one "I don't want to die" and one "Escape will make me God" met my question. Seems we were ready to go.
I hit the switch. And then, everything went black. All that was left was darkness and the new hovertank steadily singing
He ain't no slouch, pal.
He'll make you ouch, Hal."
It was going to be a long day.