Xenonautical Adventures – Part 1 (Pilot)
1st of September, 1979, 11:19
“Contact, sir! Confirmed extraterrestrial contact! Orders?”
“Why now, after 20 years…”
“Launch Condor-1! Intercept course!”
“And have Charlie-1 and the response team get ready.”
It’s at the very edge of our detection, on the Soviet border north of India. It will take Condor-1 3 hours to get there. Maybe less if it keeps coming in our direction. The Soviets and the Chinese agreed on the compromise of letting us set up in eastern Mongolia, so here we are, watching most of Asia.
“Sir, the UFO has turned around! It’s heading back into Soviet territory!”
“Keep Condor-1 on it. It might turn again.”
Again I ask myself, why now? It’s been 21 years since the Iceland Incident. Why now? Is it just another solitary craft like then? Or are there a lot more of them this time? I had just ordered some expansions to the base as well, as I feared they’d cut funding by the end of the year. Might as well put in a work order for a proper medical facility now, assuming anyone gets back alive to make use of it.
I watch the radar screen as time floats by. Condor-1 is faster than the UFO, but it doesn’t seem to be turning again, so we might not have the reach. Damn it all. We have of course watched for blips over the years. Occasionally reports have come in, but we’ve never been able to catch sight of anything definite. Then just before midnight last night things started going crazy. Reports from all over the world started trickling in at ever greater numbers. And now this…
1st of September, 1979, 14:14
“Sir! The UFO has stopped moving! We think it has landed!”
“Condor-1 is to stay on course. Circle the target for as long as possible. Launch Charlie-1! Set course for the UFO! And make sure Condor-2 is ready for my word to go.”
This is so far outside our range. If Charlie-1 is to have enough fuel to make it back, that trip will likely take 10 hours. One way. There’s no guarantee they will sit on the ground for that long. Condor-1 reaches the area an hour later and starts circling. Now we wait.
1st of September, 1979, 17:02
“Sir, Condor-1 will have to turn back in one hour!”
“Understood. Launch Condor-2!”
And let us hope by all that is holy and unholy that we don’t lose them in the few hours it’s unguarded. Taking these risks is crazy. But I can’t stop wondering what they’re doing down there, and what they’re putting the locals through. The people under my command don’t question me. At least not yet. Charlie-1 is still barely reaching north of the Indian border. It will probably be another 6 or 7 hours until they get there.
1st of September, 1979, 18:00
Condor-1 has to turn back. Condor-2 is still three hours out. We’ve managed to convince a local radar centre to keep us informed of any changes that happen. They’re too short-range to keep tracking it if it flies off north or west, but at least we’ll know if it takes off.
1st of September, 1979, 20:57
“Condor-2 has arrived sir! Beginning to circle the area now!”
2 and a half more hours. That’s all we need. But they’ve been down there for 7 hours now. Even if they were trying to avoid us, surely they must have to go back to wherever they launched from eventually.
1st of September, 1979, 21:36
“UFO is taking off! I repeat, UFO is taking off! Orders, sir?”
“Tell Condor-2 to close in. Use of Sidewinders is approved. Bring it back down.”
Condor-2 acquires a lock and fires one Sidewinder, then the other. The UFO performs a roll our crafts couldn’t even dream of and neatly dodges the first Sidewinder. But they don’t manage to dodge the second one, so they go down anyway. The coordinates of the crash site are relayed to Charlie-1, and their course is adjusted. Condor-2 reported minimal damage on target, but it was enough to make them crash. Maybe some of them die in it. Maybe all, so we just have to clean up. However, from what I know of what happened in Iceland, there are likely to be survivors.
1st of September, 1979, 23:26
Charlie-1 has reached the crash site and is setting down. Now the hard part starts.
Charlie-1 Response Team on the ground. Night-time mission. Flares have been distributed. Dropship doors opening.
All we know so far is that the UFO came down in this industrial area. There was surprisingly little smoke, so exact pinpointing was tricky, but it should only be a short trip to the north of where we landed. The aliens may have spread out, however, so first order of business is to establish a perimeter around Charlie-1.
The soldiers start popping flares outwards from the dropship to be able to see properly. It would be premature to assume the aliens see on the same level as us, or even on the same spectrum, so we should not assume that they can’t see us just because we can’t see them.
This philosophy also extends to the uniforms, in a way. Until we should find out otherwise, we are going under the assumption that camouflage is a waste of time. Instead we went for uniforms that allow our soldiers to easily see eachother, so we don’t run into any confusion as to what and who is moving in the mission area.
The minutes tick by as the soldiers fan out. The sound of what is assumed to be alien gunfire is heard closeby. Perhaps they found a civilian or a security guard.
To our great relief the street lights are on, so flares are not as necessary as we first believed. The sounds came from the north-east (Author’s note: for this LP I have assumed that up-left is north, and up-right is east, to make it easier on myself), so the soldiers start making their way inbetween the containers directly east and around the material storage yard. Cpl Gardes, Cpl Squirrel and Sgt Riddium make up the rear guard, with the philosophy that it’s better to point the rocket launcher away from the other soldiers.
As the soldiers get ready to dash across the road towards the office building, with Cpls Troidell and Niña leading the charge, the rear guard spots movement!
What looks a bit like a lanky man in a blue jersey fires off a shot that heavily damages a concrete wall. Cpl Squirrel fires back in response and hits the alien square in the chest.
It doesn’t go down immediately, but it does appear rather stunned and slow to react. Squirrel goes down on one knee, steadies his aim, and finishes the job.
The team start pulling back from the road and moving through the material storage yard instead. They move from cover to cover until they make it to the north road, and the alien vessel is revealed.
As we slowly creep closer, the doors to the UFO slide open and another alien in blue sprints out and out of sight before anyone can manage to react. The doors slide closed again before anyone gets a good look at the inside, but it seems like a safe assumption that there’s at least one more in there. Cpl Niña comes around the side and spots the alien huddled down behind a wall, but can’t get a clear shot.
Cpls Beargal, Squirrel and McNutcase creep closer to the UFO while Sgt Riddium and Cpl Niña watch the other way to make sure they don’t get flanked. Cpl Gardes moves further back into the yard to try to find a good firing position, and the rest of the team move up from the back.
The alien creeps forward into lower cover, and the entire front line attempts to hit it, but unfortunately all shots hit the cover rather than the alien, and it manages to unleash a bolt of plasma into the left side of Cpl Squirrel’s torso. Fortunately the man doesn’t catch fire, but he is knocked over in excruciating pain. To his credit he manages to avoid blacking out and reaches for his own med pack to ease the worst of it while the others deal with the alien.
Cpl Beargal lays down suppressive fire to allow Cpls McNutcase and Niña to sprint forward and unload their shotguns right in the alien’s face.
Sgt Riddium gets over to Cpl Squirrel and helps him with the med pack, as the rest close in on the UFO and constantly scan their surroundings. It seems the UFO’s crash landing was more landing than crash, as the surroundings seem relatively unharmed. After popping a few flares into the parking area and towards the factory, they congregate in front of the UFO’s entrance. Once everyone is ready, Cpl Niña triggers the door, and… aside from some wisps of smoke, nothing moves inside.
With the others covering him, Cpl Niña presses inside, and finds another alien corpse, this one wearing a red jersey. The pilot?
The interior is well lit, so it doesn’t take many moments to establish that there is indeed nothing alive in there. Sgt Riddium moves in to secure the vessel (and possibly be its last line of defence), while the rest spread out to see if there are any more aliens.
Cpl Squirrel has managed to pick up his rifle again, and helps Cpls Gardes and Beargal guard the road, while Cpl Troidell creeps around the back of the UFO, and Cpls Labor, McNutcase and Niña close in on the factory.
The inside is dark, so none of them have any warning before a barrage of plasma erupts from a second floor window. Cpl Troidell is splashed across the back and knocked forward, panic in her eyes. Cpl Labor is hit in the leg, and nearly buckles, but she bears the pain and stumbles forwards a few steps before she unleashes a barrage of gunfire into the second floor windows.
Even over the sound of the roaring LMG an unearthly squeal can be heard, and finally silenced as Cpls McNutcase and Niña close in and fire a few rounds through the window with their shotguns.
With that dealt with, Cpl Niña runs over to Cpl Troidell and swiftly applies first aid before helping her back up, and Cpl Beargal helps Cpl Labor with her leg. Cpl Gardes hangs back, but keeps a close eye on the road, while Cpl McNutcase watches the factory like a hawk in case another alien should burst forth.
Once everyone is patched up as well as can be managed, Cpls McNutcase and Niña burst into the factory, and find the final alien. This one also has a red jersey like the dead one in the ship, and doesn’t seem like it wants to engage. McNutcase and Niña can’t get a good shot on it, but the thing flees out into the road where a well-placed shot from Cpl Gardes puts it down.
With the scene thus secure, the soldiers load back onto Charlie-1 to head back to base, and salvage crews go to work.
2nd of September, 1979, 00:06
At the news of a successful operation, some of the tension drains from my body and I let myself sit down. No personnel deaths. At least there’s that. I’m glad it’s not my job to inform the civilian’s family. Now there’s just another 9 and a half hours to wait for for Charlie-1 to come home. I should get some sleep.
2nd of September, 1979, 06:43
I am woken by a harsh buzzing. The science team say they have an urgent report. I grumble as I get dressed since no one can hear me, and head into my office to read the report. Hm… it’s only going to get worse, it seems… while both of their suggestions are valid, I instead send word for them to start research on the alien alloys we picked up as soon as they come in. Charlie-1 shouldn’t be far away now. I consider going back to sleep, but at this point I might as well do my morning routine and get some coffee. It’s likely to be another long day.
2nd of September, 1979, 09:28
Charlie-1 has landed. Cpls Labor, Troidell and Squirrel are rushed to our simple medical room, and luckily they’re all expected to make a full recovery. Labor and Troidell are allowed to go back into service immediately if needed, but to take it easy for a week or two until they heal fully. I have a feeling they won’t get that long until I have to send them out again. I tell myself things will be better once the new medical facility is up and running, and the new doctors are on staff. I don’t really believe it.
Cpl Squirrel is ordered to rest for two days before he’s even allowed to get up again. I’ve awarded him with the Crimson Heart for soldiering through such a serious injury.
I look at our reserve roster. Two whole soldiers. I need to hire more, but first we need somewhere to house them. Any chance the aliens will just turn around and leave?