Xenonautical Adventures – Part 24: Desert Nights
13th of December, 1979, 11:52
Foxtrot-1 is back at base, and the UFO down in Zaire is still on the ground. Foxtrot-3 is ready for launch at any moment, and Commander Marabello has put together the least injured in case they need to fly out again. That means Sgts Kittan and Young will be staying on the ground, while Cpls Mumbles and Spectre take to the field.
I will admit I am not entirely happy about the possibility, but we need the salvage. The one in Turkey was closer, but that would have given the soldiers no rest at all.
13th of December, 1979, 14:20
There is still something harassing the ocean south of Australia. By the attacks I would guess a Corvette, but Foxtrot-1 is still hours away from being ready. I thought maybe they’d stay away from that area after they lost their base there, but clearly not.
13th of December, 1979, 16:51
I still have socks disappearing. I need to do a thorough search for more hiding places.
Now, I was thinking. If we can get the funding next month, maybe we should consider a third laboratory? That would require some expansion of the Euro-African base, but I think we could do it.
I was also thinking that although it’s the newest project, perhaps I should give priority to the base upgrades the Chief seemed so excited about? If it could increase efficiency in several areas, maybe it would save us time long-term?
We seriously have too much stuff to do, and not enough time to get it done.
13th of December, 1979, 16:58
The landed UFO has started moving again, so Foxtrot-3 has been launched. Hopefully it can catch up before the thing decides to land again.
13th of December, 1979, 17:22
A strafing attack in the northern past of Australia. The repairs on Foxtrot-1 are not complete, but it’s in flying condition, and I want that UFO gone. I hope I don’t regret this.
13th of December, 1979, 18:23
The Corvette was shot down near the coast in Gabon, not far from the border to Congo. Commander Marabello and I discussed whether or not we should send Charlie-3.
In the end I gave my approval. Yes, Cpls Mumbles and Spectre are still injured, but we need to recover what we can. It looks like it should be an open, deserted area, so that might give them some advantage.
13th of December, 1979, 19:23
Foxtrot-1 has discovered a suspected Corvette flying towards Indonesia. Intercept course laid in.
13th of December, 1979, 19:32
The Corvette got shot down over one of the smaller islands. It’s just a 10-hour trip for Charlie-1, so I set up a team for Charlie-1 to fly out as well.
Cpt Cuftbert was not at all happy about it, but I agreed with the doctors that she’s still too injured to go in the field unless there’s no choice. Cpt Herr was still too weak to object, and Cpt Beargal reluctantly agreed as she couldn’t even salute without wincing. Only Lt Berwolf’s injuries were light enough that let her go.
As an experiment, I set Lt Malo up with a riot shield and a laser pistol, since that configuration has worked out really well at the other bases.
“Launch Charlie-1! Set course for the crash site.”
13th of December, 1979, 20:40
I have received the report on the first of the alien weapons I sent to North America. The scientists call an ‘Alien Assault Plasma‘, but the soldiers and I just refer to it as the ‘plasma shotgun’.
While I would like them to continue on the weapons eventually, for now I think the new interrogation takes precedent. It could take a while, depending on how clever this particular alien actually is, but hopefully we will get some results.
14th of December, 1979, 00:28
Charlie-3 has arrived at the crash site. Commander Marabello has given them clearance to land.
I know I won’t be getting any sleep until they’re back in the air anyway, so I get a cup of coffee and sit in the command chair.
Charlie-3 Response Team on the ground. Night-time mission. Flares have been distributed. Weapons at the ready. Dropship doors opening.
The desert is quiet. Quiet enough to hear slight gusts of wind moving across the sand and among the rocks. We rate it as close to impossible that they did not see our approach, but even as we deploy and secure the landing site things remain quiet. Flares start flying through the air; they have to notice this.
The area is substantially rockier than we expected. We will need to be exceedingly careful with how we progress.
We creep ever so slowly away from the dropship, throwing new flares every couple of metres. We do not want to go too far before we know what we’re dealing with. This area is defensible; among the rocks anything goes.
It takes several minutes before the first sign of movement. A lizard runs past one of the flares as it goes into hiding behind a large rock pillar. We know these things like to get close before they open fire. Instead of rushing forward or letting it come any closer, Cpl Dima primes a gas grenade and slings it around the side of the rock.
As the purple gas blankets the area, we hear that horrific cough-like sound. It goes quiet quicker than we expected, so Cpls Ruts and Campster move up to get a look. They see the lizard in the gas, holding its breath and still moving. Cpl Campster takes a shot which hits the alien in the chest, and causes it to expel the breath it was holding in rage. It doesn’t realise its mistake before it keels over unconscious.
Our feeling of victory passes quickly as mere moments later Cpl Mumbles raises the alarm. A Reaper has emerged from among the cacti to the north.
It is still skulking, perhaps not realising it’s been seen, as the whole team scrambles into mad action. Cpl Ruts already has a good set-up, so he’s the first to swing his weapon around and fire. The LMG rounds pulverise several cacti, and a couple of them even strike the creature. We believe we can hear it snarl as it extends to its full length and starts coming towards us. Cpls Campster, Spectre and Tomalinsky all open fire. While most of the shots hit, the monster’s charge isn’t stopped until it’s close enough for Cpl Mumbles’ shotgun to tear into it.
Again our elation is short-lived as Cpl Wulf suddenly lets out a scream. While everyone was distracted by the first one, a second Reaper had started charging at her. It’s too close for her rocket launcher now, but Cpls Dima, Mumbles and Spectre manage to swing around and fire just as the thing scrambles to get over the rock between it and Cpl Wulf. She had been trying to grab the baton off her belt, but panic had set in.
With that done, the team takes a moment to calm down while still watching the perimeter closely. A third Reaper is unlikely, but there are certainly more lizards out there.
Now starts the search and destroy. Cpls Campster and Scouter follow the road heading up towards the UFO. Cpls Dima and Wulf head west to make sure nothing has gotten too far out. Cpls Mumbles, Ruts, Spectre and Tomalinsky spread out north to north-west to search among the cacti and rocks.
We quickly run into another lizard that comes charging out of the desert at us, but Cpl Tomalinsky takes it down with a couple of well-placed shots before it can do anything.
Our trek through the desert feels painfully slow. Cpl Ruts spots one lizard among the rocks that is taken down by Cpl Spectre, and Cpls Campster and Scouter play cat and mouse with another lizard on the road before finally deciding to just gas it instead of getting too close.
Cpl Scouter is the first to throw a flare that actually illuminates the UFO. He and Cpl Campster take up position watching the door, while Cpl Tomalinsky watch their backs. The rest of the team continue scouring the surrounding desert, but as they find nothing, we all eventually find our way to the UFO.
We see the door opening a few times with lizards trying to see outside, but they seem content to stay in there. It’s not until Cpl Campster takes a couple of pot-shots at them that one of them charges out and gets a bullet right between its eyes as a reward.
They don’t seem keen to try that again, so things go quiet until we have time to set up outside. Cpl Wulf finds a good firing position for her rocket launcher, and Cpls Mumbles and Scouter approach the door. Cpl Scouter opens it, while Cpl Mumbles stands guard. Nothing is at the entrance, but we see a lizard far back. It hisses at us, but only in time to receive the gas rocket Cpl Wulf fired in there. As soon as he hears the boom, Cpl Scouter closes the door again, and both he and Cpl Mumbles retreat.
It doesn’t take long for one of the lizards to come stumbling out, only to be greeted by Cpl Ruts’ machinegun. It is cut down before it even manages to set foot on the sand.
After about a minute we figure it’s about time to refresh the dose. Cpls Mumbles and Scouter both approach the door again, and Cpl Scouter readies a gas grenade. It lands right behind a lizard that was crouching in the room, and after a mad scramble it falls over.
We retreat for a minute again, before bringing forth Cpl Dima. She holds her shield firm as she leads Cpls Mumbles and Scouter into the UFO.
They wait for the gas to dissipate, then slowly move up the corridor. Another lizard comes charging through a door, but is brought down by the combined shotgun power of Cpls Mumbles and Scouter.
After scouting the rest of the UFO, it turned out that was the last conscious crew-member. We quickly executed the officer that seemed to have been knocked out by the crash, or perhaps our generous use of gas, and then made our way back to the dropship.
Charlie-3 heads home.
14th of December, 1979, 01:15
As I get confirmation that Charlie-3 is returning with all soldiers intact, I get that familiar sensation of tension leaving my body.
Sure, Charlie-1 is still in the air, but I take the opportunity to go to bed. I ask them to wake me in time for Charlie-1’s arrival, but in my current state it’s possible they will “forget” that order.
Major Merrywhiskers wakes up as I enter the room and insists I feed her before I go to bed. When did my life get so odd?