Xenonautical Adventures – Part 27: Night of the Dead
16th of December, 1979, 14:18
Charlie-3 has landed again. From reading the report, it seems they were only just able to avoid a disaster in certain situations. I agree with Commander Marabello’s assertion that it’s time Cpls Spectre and Tomalinsky were made Sergeants, and we feel that Sgts Campster, Dima and Ruts are ready to become Lieutenants. Sgt Spectre’s record also qualifies her for the Order of Gallantry now. First commendation of that base, I believe.
Now, what is more troubling is this addendum to the report based on a statement from Lt Campster. According to him he experienced visions down there. The first one he said to not remember well, but it led him to advising extra caution when they first deployed, but for the second one he described an alternate version of how breaching the UFO went in disturbing detail, after which he urged further caution about breaching it, something the other soldiers can corroborate. He claims both visions ended with his death, and then suddenly he was a few minutes back in time.
We know the aliens possess various psionic powers… could humans have a similar potential? I asked the Chief for his opinion, but he said there has been no evidence of anything like that in human beings so far. Though he also admitted somewhat obtusely that no one has really known what to look for. So I suppose the short answer is: We don’t know.
16th of December, 1979, 21:47
I have barely seen Major Merrywhiskers since this morning. Time to call it a night, I think. I received a status report from Commander Dosjevsky earlier. It seems his soldiers are becoming a tad stir-crazy from the lack of ground missions, even though they were initially happy about it. I can understand that. I saw it in my own before we discovered that alien base. And now several of them are stuck in the medical centre for a while.
17th of December, 1979, 07:34
I asked for a progress report from the Chief. For nearly a week now, it feels like he’s been saying they’re “really close” to the final breakthrough for the new thruster system, but I’ve heard nothing new. Maybe by noting that down, I will have to eat my words when the report arrives later today.
Over in North America they are reporting progress in communication with the alien officer, though they’ve had several near-incidents as well. I imagine that might have been worse had we caught a psionic officer. The lizard just seems to be really resistant to anything and everything.
17th of December, 1979, 13:01
Another equipment inspection. I want to make sure everything is back in order after our two recent missions. I think Major Merrywhiskers is getting accustomed to coming along on inspections. She’s no longer quite as eager to climb anything and everything she sees.
17th of December, 1979, 19:42
Hah! Here it is. The report for the Directional Thruster Array. The Chief even delivered it himself, with a smug look on his face.
I once again feel a mix of impressed and dismayed. This is so far ahead of us. That the Chief feels confident he can make an inferior copy will help, but more than ever I feel like we’re simply operating on borrowed time. Soon enough they will be able to bring ships into our atmosphere that we might not stand a chance again unless we speed up our progress.
It’s too much to hope the aliens will take a Christmas break to let us clear some of our workload away, isn’t it?
The Chief laid out a project for a new dropship, which we do need, but I’ll grant his previous request and let him start on the base upgrade project. Getting that done as soon as possible might let us speed up other things. I hope.
17th of December, 1979, 21:57
Have I mentioned I have no particular fondness for bureaucracy?
Let’s just get to January, and then we can start the next stage of our plans.
18th of December, 1979, 07:11
With a second laser carbine created for both this base and the North American one, and Cpt Cuftbert completely recovered, I feel like we should direct our attention to creating weapons to ship over to the Euro-African base. They seem to be getting the most UFOs now, and they’re the least equipped to handle them. Our funds are ticking down, but we have little choice.
18th of December, 1979, 20:00
For once I can actually retire for the day on time. Paperwork and base maintenance are proceeding smoothly right now, no incidents are happening, and only Cpt Herr still has any significant recovery left.
Maybe I can spend some time tonight looking for Major Merrywhiskers’ new sock nest. My quarters aren’t that big, so you wouldn’t think there would be that many places she could hide them, but since I found the last one, she seems to have stepped up her game.
19th of December, 1979, 07:44
I won’t claim to pretend I know how she got the idea to hide them in that vent, but at least they’ve been found. They hadn’t even gotten moldy yet.
For today I think I’ll take a trip down to the laboratory, and see how the Chief and his staff are doing. I am somewhat curious as to how they work on designing and creating these upgrades.
19th of December, 1979, 12:52
I shan’t claim I even understand half of the doodads and thingamabobs they were puzzling with down there. But the Chief seemed pretty excited about it all, so I think that’s a good sign. Maybe I’ll understand better when they’re installed in their correct places and are doing what they were made for. Maybe. I expect a significant portion of their little experiments won’t ever be implemented, though.
19th of December, 1979, 14:51
“Contact, sir! Confirmed extraterrestrial contact! To our north-east! Medium-sized UFO with two escorts!”
Feels like it’s been a while since one appeared this close. It’s flying southward as well. While there might be more coming, I have little choice.
“Launch Condors 1 and 2. Intercept course!”
19th of December, 1979, 14:58
Got a report of a Soviet facility bombed up there. So it’s not a Corvette then, I think it’s safe to say. Let’s hope our Condors catch them quickly.
19th of December, 1979, 15:07
Report of an abduction from a boat north of the Brazilian coast. Foxtrot-2 is launching to investigate.
19th of December, 1979, 15:12
“Contact, sir! Confirmed extraterrestrial contact! Close to the first contact! Medium with no escorts, sir!”
Interesting. They were fairly clumped up last time in Africa as well.
“Understood. Launch Condor-1! Intercept course!”
19th of December, 1979, 15:54
“Third contact, sir! Confirmed extraterrestrial contact! Further east, over the ocean! Medium with two escorts, sir!”
Oh for… that’s us out of interceptors then, and I doubt Commander Dosjevsky’s can reach us.
“Understood. Keep an eye on them.”
19th of December, 1979, 16:16
And now a report off the east coast of Australia. We need Foxtrot-1 back to even go looking down there. Not much we can do right now. Considering it was a military craft shot down, it’s quite possible it’s a wing of fighters that Foxtrot-1 couldn’t handle anyway. But it could also be a Corvette, so we should investigate as soon as we can.
19th of December, 1979, 16:32
Foxtrot-1 have shot down a Corvette near the Siberian coast, and are coming back home. I will not launch Charlie-1 until the skies are clear, but I’ve told the soldiers to get ready.
19th of December, 1979, 16:44
Foxtrot-2 have discovered a lone medium-sized UFO north-west of the abduction site. They’ve changed course to intercept. Waiting for it to come in over land doesn’t seem like a good idea in this situation, so it seems Charlie-2 won’t be lifting off for this one.
19th of December, 1979, 16:54
That’s one Corvette heading down into the Atlantic. Foxtrot-2 is heading back home.
Just after we received that report, Condors 1 and 2 radio’d in that they’ve taken out the bomber and its escorts. Apparently they were circling the munitions depot they bombed earlier. For what purpose, we can only guess at. The Condors are coming back home.
19th of December, 1979, 23:08
We’ve seen no more activity down by Australia, so although Foxtrot-1 is ready, there’s little point in sending them at the moment.
On the other hand, after several nerve-wracking hours, Condors 1 and 2 are finally ready to fly again.
“Launch Condors 1 and 2! Intercept course for UFO 67!”
20th of December, 1979, 02:17
Airliner shot down over the Australian mainland. Condor-1 sent to investigate. If it’s a fighter wing, Condor-1 is to lure them into coming up here.
20th of December, 1979, 02:26
Condors 1 and 2 have shot down a Corvette with two escorts over Japan. Again I’m curious if there was any particular reason it had escorts.
I call in an air strike for the Siberian crash site, and tell Charlie-1 to stand by until the fighters are dealt with. If we have to bring them back up here, they might go after Charlie-1 in the air.
20th of December, 1979, 03:40
Foxtrot-1 has found what is indeed a fighter wing. They are heading back to base, while trying to lure the fighters the whole way, so hopefully we can have the Condors ready for them.
20th of December, 1979, 09:35
It was a cat and mouse game for hours until we could get Condors 1 and 2 ready for launch. Finally the skies here are clear.
“Launch Charlie-1! Set course for the Japanese crash site!”
I don’t like leaving the aliens alone on the ground for so long, but hopefully things will be okay.
20th of December, 1979, 14:47
“Charlie-1 has reached the crash site, sir!”
“Understood. Have them set down and engage.”
The best of luck to you, soldiers.
Charlie-1 Response Team on the ground. Night-time mission. Flares have been distributed. Weapons at the ready. Dropship doors opening.
As we pour into the dark fields, everything is dead quiet. No fires this time. Just an eerie silence, and the sense of something being out there in the darkness, waiting.
We throw the first ring of flares out from around the dropship, but nothing immediately reveals itself. There’s a small passage to the north, and vast fields stretching east. The west and the south are both blocked off.
After a brief deliberation, Maj Riddium goes for the northern passage with Cpts Beargal and Troidell, while Cpts Cuftbert and Niña lead Lts Berwolf, Malo and Squirrel due east. Maj Riddium is the first to spot an alien.
After exchanging a short nod, Cpt Beargal takes the thing down with a single shot. This causes a series of hisses and other noises to raise up from the surrounding area. Even in this cacophony we can distinguish the calls of the Reapers having found new prey.
The sounds felt like they came from all over, so we are not quite sure where they will be coming from. Maj Riddium’s group slows down to a crawl, wary of ambushes, while the other progress a little quicker across the fields, throwing new flares every few metres.
A lizard suddenly storms out from the north, but is quickly wounded by Cpt Beargal and finished off by Cpt Troidell.
Maj Riddium then leads the other two into the paved yard, and throws a few flares around before all three hunch down to wait for a minute.
While there is no news from the eastern front, a Reaper suddenly runs over one of Maj Riddium’s flares. Cpt Beargal fires a couple of shots, but the thing is too quick. The second shot hits close though, close enough for the thing to hesitate for a moment, giving Cpt Troidell the opportunity to take it down.
Maj Riddium throws another flare in the direction the Reaper came from, and a zombie comes shambling into the light. With a curse he takes a couple of steps backwards before kneeling and readying his launcher. He radios the others and calls for assistance, as we don’t know how many more there might be. Cpt Beargal fires, the zombie pops, and Maj Riddium launches a rocket.
By the time the smoke clears and we see the giblets from the light of the fire, Cpt Niña has reached Maj Riddium’s group, and takes up a defensive position along with the others.
There is still nothing to report from the east, as Cpt Cuftbert’s group reaches the edge of the farm before turning north themselves.
A third reaper comes out of the darkness by Maj Riddium’s group, and dodges a shot from Cpt Beargal, but it’s not quite so lucky with the blast from Cpt Niña’s carbine.
Nothing new moves for the next minute or two, so Maj Riddium says they need to move on. None of them particularly wish to do so, but they decide to further investigate the direction the Reapers came from.
Aside from the now burning and crumbling shed, there is not much to be found in there, so after checking all the corners, they head eastwards. Maj Riddium checks the corners around the concrete wall, and manages to spot a hiding lizard before it spots him. With a quick signal to Cpt Troidell, she rounds the corner and blasts it dead.
We also find the body of a farmer, still clutching his shotgun, in front of a dead lizard. He went out fighting, and at least he died before the Reapers caught him. A small comfort.
Cpt Cuftbert’s group continues to find absolutely nothing, but we know how the lizards are, so we can’t afford to leave any corners unchecked.
After clearing all sections of the paved yard, Maj Riddium’s group finds the crashed UFO. They hear noises from inside, and suddenly a lizard bursts out, only to be greeted by carbine blasts from both Cpts Niña and Troidell.
The ship looks largely intact, so they spread out, keeping in mind that the officers tend to carry grenades. Maj Riddium goes to check out the far side of the UFO, as they can see the lights from Cpt Cuftbert’s group’s flares as they approach from the other side. Cpts Beargal, Niña and Troidell guard the door while waiting for the other group to meet up with them. In preparation, Cpt Niña lobs a gas grenade through the door before closing it again, and then we wait.
Once the groups have nearly reunited, Cpt Troidell lobs a second grenade inside. We wait a minute for most of the gas to clear, then quickly board the UFO before the lizards have time to re-enter the room. Lt Malo and Cpt Troidell in front, with Cpt Cuftbert and Cpt Niña behind. Bringing our biggest gun to face that officer seems prudent.
The door doesn’t even have time to close behind us before the officer charges into the room and is brought down by multiple carbine rounds before it can do anything. Another lizard comes in from the opposite door, though it appears to hesitate at the sight of what happened to its officer, giving Lt Malo ample time to pop it in the head with his laser pistol.
It goes quiet after that, and a careful search of the ship reveals that was the last of them. It seems like the aliens killed all the civilians nearby, so there’s really nothing left for us to do but board Charlie-1 and head home.
20th of December, 1979, 15:42
I was getting worried, but I hear they’re safe in the air again. Thank goodness. The message sounded rather sombre though. While everyone on the team was alright, it seems that the locals were not as fortunate.
With that done I sorely need to get some rest. It’s hard to think, and even to write these words.