Xenonautical Adventures – Part 9: How The Wheat Burns
21st of October, 1979, 02:46
Condor-3 caught up to the UFO over the Pacific ocean outside of Costa Rica. As the Condors don’t have the speed needed to tail a Scout until it’s over land, the call was made to shoot it down and having it crash into the ocean. Let’s hope the aliens don’t make ashore.
We are still awaiting Charlie-1’s return. I’ve already started thinking of how to write the letter to Sgt Labor’s family.
21st of October, 1979, 04:49
Sgt Labor’s body is taken to the morgue as soon as Charlie-1 lands. It has to be prepared to be sent home to the next-of-kin. We’ll be holding a memorial service tom- tonight, I suppose. It’s technically already tomorrow, even though none of us have slept.
The first soldier I’ve lost under my command. I fear there will be many more before this is over. I almost wish we could bury them here, as they feel as much like my family as anyone.
No more blips have happened, so maybe those three UFOs were all they sent this time.
21st of October, 1979, 10:25
After petting Major Merrywhiskers for a while, I signed the order to hire a new soldier. We are going to need a new Heavy Weapons specialist. It seems the soldiers thought of it too, because there’s an application on my desk for Sgt Cuftbert to take up the LMG. She would be crazy enough for it. I approve it and send it back.
I also approved an Order of Gallantry medal for Sgt Niña. He’s earned it with the aliens he took down on that last mission.
21st of October, 1979, 21:17
The memorial service was fairly muted. We made a toast for Sgt Labor’s life and service record.
22nd of October, 1979, 08:14
All of the soldiers, and most of the base personnel showed up to witness Sascha Labor’s coffin being shipped out. I got the letter ready to go along with it. The family has already been informed, of course, but there has to be a letter. It wouldn’t be proper otherwise.
23rd of October, 1979, 07:20
It’s been quiet.
I think I’ll take Major Merrywhiskers around the base today. Maybe people will appreciate her presence a little.
24th of October, 1979, 07:42
Still nothing in terms of alien activity.
The American base have received Condor-4 and their crew of engineers while I was asleep. Commander Dosjevsky has started construction of his own Foxtrot. He probably reckons as I do that we will need heavier munitions against UFOs soon enough.
24th of October, 1979, 09:06
The designs for laser weaponry replacements of our regular ballistics weaponry are complete. It’s going to consume a lot of alloys, huh? But I think the Chief is right that it could boost morale. Even the research team haven’t been immune to the sense of gloom that’s permeated the base lately.
Now what should I get them to work on next? I was thinking Stun Weapons, but the Alien Alloy Fabrication… no, let’s go for the Stun Weapons first. It’s about time we captured one of these bastards alive.
Maybe I should have them construct a laboratory in the American base as well, but… I am not certain we can afford the upkeep for that yet.
24th of October, 1979, 10:25
The shuttle was delayed, but our new soldier has arrived. Pvt Shelly Berwolf. Her file says she’s a crack shot, so let’s hope she will do us proud.
I will let her take Sgt Niña’s place and show us what she can do on the next mission.
25th of October, 1979, 08:19
I might have been slightly paranoid when I ordered everyone on Charlie-1 to wear Jackal armour. Even those already so weighed down they’ll lose movement because of it.
25th of October, 1979, 10:20
The American base have detected a UFO east of Ottawa, Canada, and have launched Condor-3 to intercept. The speed suggests it’s a Scout.
25th of October, 1979, 10:29
“Contact, sir! Confirmed extraterrestrial contact!”
Now they’re here too? Siberia, quite a ways to our north-west. Another Scout, by the speed of it.
“Launch Condor-1! Intercept course!”
It is also headed straight for us. I hope that’s just a coincidence.
25th of October, 1979, 11:30
Condor-1 was heavily damaged, but the UFO is going down.
“Launch Charlie-1! Set course for the crash site!”
25th of October, 1979, 13:08
While our UFO kept coming straight for us, the one in North America gave them more of a run-around. They now have their first crash site, and I give them permission to launch Charlie-2.
Two ground missions on two continents in one day. I am naturally worried. Especially since they don’t have any Jackal Armour yet.
25th of October, 1979, 14:12
“Charlie-1 has reached the crash site, sir!”
“Understood. Have them land and engage.”
I feel more nervous than normal.
Charlie-1 Response Team on the ground. Night-time mission. Flares have been distributed. Weapons at the ready. Dropship doors opening.
We’ve come down in farm country, and it’s really, really dark out here.
We immediately start throwing flares to secure the area around the dropship.
The west is clear. North, clear. To the south we spot what looks to be a couple of farmhands, one of whom has a shotgun. To the east…
It doesn’t seem to react much at the flare. It glances it at briefly as if to make sure it’s not dangerous, and then raises its rifle.
Cpl Jonely is quicker though, and has already loosed a shot. It hits the alien in the gut, which causes it to stumble. Our rookie Pvt Berwolf comes up behind Cpl Jonely and he goes into a crouch to allow her to shoot over him.
The alien is trying to steady itself as the second shot impacts its chest and knocks it over.
With that sorted, the team check again to make sure the dropship is secure before splitting into two groups. Lt Gardes takes Cpls Jonely and Wanyal and Pvt Berwolf, and goes to check out the concrete yard. Lt Riddium takes Sgt Cuftbert and Cpls Squirrel and Volatar and heads for the wheat field, as the farmhands swear they’ve seen and heard movement through the grain.
The night is eerily quiet aside from the hissing of the flares that both groups keep throwing ahead of them.
Suddenly an alien comes into view among the wheat, and fires on Lt Riddium.
Cpl Volatar grabs his med pack and rushes over to Lt Riddium as a second alien fires from somewhere in the darkness beyond. Fortunately it misses and only singes the hedge.
Cpl Squirrel takes up firing position and takes down the alien we can see, while Sgt Cuftbert attempts to throw flares far enough to see where the other one is, but it’s beyond anyone’s throwing arm. It has stopped firing, though we’re not sure if that’s because it has moved, or because it can’t see us without its friend spotting. The research team speculated on a telepathic link, after all.
Lt Riddium’s group advance slowly through the grain, trying to throw flares far enough to spot the second alien, but it remains out of reach. We are starting to see the end of the field, though.
Lt Gardes’s group have found nothing up there except a terrified farmhand and closed off concrete compartments. Nowhere to advance through, and all hiding spots are checked, so they start moving into the wheat field from the north.
They throw a couple of flares of their own, and everything is quiet, until Lt Gardes heads into the grain herself. Two shots fly out from the darkness and strike her dead centre.
The first hit melts most of the armour away, and the second gets through, burning a hole in her chest. She is probably dead before she hits the ground.
Having seen where it comes from, Cpl Volatar rushes forward and launches a flare in that direction. The alien is revealed taking cover behind the brick wall and Sgt Cuftbert is the first to open fire. The whole team starts firing, causing the brick wall to crumble and the alien to be hit, but it’s Lt Riddium who finishes the job.
The alien is no more, and the wheat is on fire, but the team advances with cold hearts.
By the time we advance past the brick wall, the fire has started to spread.
It’s hard to get proper vision, even with the fire helping us see, so we have to keep throwing flares, even though many of us would rather just charge.
The harvested field is clear, so we start advancing on the potato field to the north.
Cpl Wanyal and Pvt Berwolf get a little ahead of the others, and suddenly a burst of plasma bolts comes flying out of the darkness.
Luckily they’re not hit, but they are suppressed and duck for cover. Cpl Wanyal is able to throw a flare that reveals the alien, but it is also behind a brick wall, and the rest of the team are having trouble getting a clear firing line on it.
In the ensuing firefight Cpl Jonely is hit, but the alien is driven back, disappearing out of sight towards the UFO.
Cpl Jonely takes cover where the alien is unlikely to get a line of fire, and Cpl Squirrel helps him with the injury. The armour took most of it, so luckily he got off with only minor burns.
Cpl Volatar and Pvt Berwolf creep slowly through the potato field, staying close to the hedge, while Lt Riddium, Sgt Cuftbert and Cpl Wanyal start heading around the other side.
The alien suddenly comes back and takes a shot at Cpl Volatar, but it misses him by mere inches. He returns fire.
We move in and start guarding the door while Sgt Cuftbert and Cpl Wanyal secure the outside area.
Once we are satisfied that there are no more aliens outside, we advance upon the door.
When everyone is ready, Cpl Volatar opens it. He immediately spots an alien looking up from behind a railing near the door, and blasts it in the head.
There’s a red-jersey in there who tries to shoot back at us, but Pvt Berwolf puts a stop to that. We spot a final blue-jersey cowering in the back of the cabin, and Cpl Wanyal takes it out.
We hear another alien scurrying in the back, no doubt alerted by the sound of gunfire. Cpls Jonely and Squirrel advance on the door, covering one side each, while Pvt Berwolf covers the door. The rest of the team take up defensive positions, just in case there is anything still out there that might come at us.
Once they’re nearly ready to open the door into the back, the alien comes rushing out, firing wildly. Cpl Jonely is hit again, but Cpl Squirrel manages to shoot it while everyone else ducks down. It falls down, but is still alive.
As we have no way of sedating it, Cpl Jonely raises his rifle with the last of his strength and puts a bullet in the thing’s head.
Cpl Squirrel and Pvt Berwolf help him to the dropship, while Lt Riddium and Sgt Cuftbert carry Lt Gardes’s body onboard. In spite of his injury, Lt Riddium insisted.
25th of October, 1979, 14:41
No… not another one… it’s all going wrong now. First Sgt Labor, and now Lt Gardes. Is this just a taste of what’s to come?
Charlie-2 should be reaching their crash site soon. I fear for them.