((As an aside the clocks go back in Europe tonight so we'll have daylight savings shenanigans next session. If we're not careful. Usual practice has been for EU to play an hour earlier if there's a lag with the US which should be fine by me at least.))
ALPHA had to search and destroy a generator that was messing with the ship navigation in the desert near the crash site.
On top of that, the betrayal of one girl we rescued in the city added up to the mess. Everybody was saying her boss, the official was a potential threat as it turned out it was the secretary. Was she the one who stole parts? She was dead now. JD was ready to throw a stun grenade to subdue her but someone decided that a knife in her throat was "more effective". Good luck trying to interrogate her corpse...
After the attack and destruction of the generator the team was sent to an underwater facility. JD did not need to get wet, just a little bit though as mag ammo (who did that?) pierced the reinforced walls of the facility.
Now it was time to repair things, stop the AVATAR and take care of that CODEX thing. In the middle of this JD was thinking about a decent burger, a good coffee and may be some jazz in the background...
As the last batch of ammo was compromised by some misguided laser beam (what the!) JD decided to try to make 4 packs this time. He would sleep less but it was worth it.
// JD making mag ammo (wishing for a 20)
Research: 1. Predator Armor 2. Powered Armor 3. Personal Shield
Manufacturing 1. Magnetic Ammunition (JD) 2. Nanoscale Vest 3. Shard Gun
It was a tough and bloody week, but they weathered the storm. Still, it looked like the mood was shifting to a quiet desperation with the revelations of the goals of ADVENT's project AVATAR. They were fighting against time now, just as much as they were fighting ADVENT.
The traitorous saboteur in their midst, Janet, didn't help either. Well, that's one human Daud would feel no remorse for killing. He did what he had to do when he took her down. He'd do it again.
With her pointing a gun at their power coil, as they were going down, Vic had made a valiant effort to talk her down- what else could he do? But they all knew there was no time for that. Janet had been distracted though, and Daud used that to move behind her and make use of the old switchblade he still carried to take her out.
It seemed for the most part everyone felt at least ok with it, if they didn't outright approve, although John seemed annoyed Daud had killed her instead of subduing her (although he wasn't armed with anything but a knife at the time). Because she might have known something. Maybe. But even if they knew for sure that she had valuable intel, Daud still would have killed her in that situation. Further sabotage of their engines after their cloak was already down WHILE they were already plummeting into an ambush could easily be the death of everyone on board, and chancing her capture just wasn't worth even considering when weighed against the risk.
After that ordeal, they managed to upload that footage to, hopefully, a wider audience during their underwater adventure. Also Cat got what she wanted. Who knows, at the very least, maybe it would stop a few people from willingly going into the meat grinder clinics. Maybe it would even slow project AVATAR down a little.
When they were back in their quarters, everyone calming down and processing the events, Daud was reminded that Old Man Henderson was sullen and Jess was still trying to decide if the experimental kit they had to use on her was ok or not. Daud wanted to help with whatever they were dealing with, but it wasn't like him to pry. He didn't know what to do except go on as normal. Maybe some cards would help lift the mood, or forget their troubles for a bit.
----- RESEARCH (after codex brain, since that is mandatory this time) 1. Beam Pistol 2. Elerium Power Armor 3. Anything extra into topping off autopsies and/or experimental surgery kit
MANUFACTURING 1. Psi Lab all the way 2. If there is extra, more vests? Mag ammo? Another spider suit for Bo/Jess/Stan? 3. Daud will make more mag ammo +8 craft mech
(( May I also suggest, after Jess/Stan finish with the permanent upgrade work, they consider the archon autopsy since it is partly machine.))
#14239113 Oct 31, 2019 at 06:47 AM · Edited over 1 year ago
Bo sighed looking over the list of projects still awaiting completion. She'd had hopes for the worth of Janet, others among them had grown from being given something positive to do but the woman had not. She blamed herself not Daud, he'd done the sensible thing given the circumstances and not to would have risked more. Hell knew what would have happened if John had thrown one of his grenades, as it was Janet hadn't seen it coming. No, she was at fault for not trying to find out what was on Janet's mind, the source of her fear.
A bedside manner had never seemed important. She'd fixed up the people physically, frequently when they weren't even aware of her presence, and then the nursing staff had done the rest. Now that was changing, they didn't have enough nursing staff to spend time looking at crew who were not physically hurt. Victor's work at raising spirits was having an impact but those already on the downward slope were as likely to see his efforts as a symptom rather than a cure.
With another sigh she set the datapad aside and looked over to where Tygan's team were already focused on the readings coming from the Codex Brain. Maybe this time she should let someone else's opinions matter more than her own. This could wait a little longer, she turned and headed out of the lab. The ship was small enough that it didn't take long to find what she sought.
"Take a break, Jess. Let's talk about it."
((I'd suggest we all try to focus on the same priorities for the NPC rolls so that we complete some of these research projects, and help with them directly where we can. We've a lot of projects sitting with a couple of points in because each of us set different priorities and LB then has to spread the points. So it's taking ages for us to complete even minor projects.
I'm going to practice what I'm preaching and not introduce any new suggestions.
Bo is going to throw in with the Codex Brain research. Treat Injury 17 or Sense Motive 14 LB, whatever is most appropriate.
After that for Research 1. Beam Pistol 2. Elerium Power Armor 3. Experimental Surgery Kit, if we're lucky and we get points from others working on the technical things.
Manufacturing 1. Psi lab 2. Spider suit for one of the Techies as they have gone down the most.
In contrast to the rest of the team, it seemed, Vic walked into the barracks all smiles, rubbing his hands. He waved to those he saw, seemingly happy. "Getting some news back on the effect of our broadcast," he explained. "Good selection of the best footage we have of the things we've seen, with some of that standard news rubbish to juxtapose it. Hopefully, enough recorded it so that..."
He looks around, catching the gloomy mood... and changes tact. "Hey, uh... you know what's struck me, visiting those old X-Com bases? They had places to relax. Sit down and talk while we eat and drink. I was, uh, I was thinking. If we can clear out some of that junk downstairs, maybe we can open up some room for something similar. Set up a few stoves, some stills... this place is all work, you know? Gonna wear us out before long. Anyone up for giving me a hand with it, talk Central into it...?"
Research! 1. Looks like everyone wants those beam pistols 2. Power armour looks good to me 3. We're not going to get a 3 this week, I think
Manufacturing! 1. Build that Psi Lab 2. More Nano Vests! 3. Beef up our Mag Ammo supplies!
Vic's still doing radio broadcasts, but I think this week, he's likely to be trying to Persuade+11 some of the staff to help him build a bar on the Avenger in what spare time they have.
It was an odd feeling, despite feeling so natural and right. But it definitely felt like combat and missions were more like home than downtime was. And yet, Henderson knew there was something wrong about that. Maybe he had some kind of post traumatic stress disorder from the wars, but then he always thought those were more negative reactions /to/ war or combat. If anything, he was enjoying and relishing the combat. It made him feel alive. Made him feel comfortable. As if this was his purpose, the only thing he really knew.
Henderson shivered visibly after the thought in his chair. Probably garnered him more looks, but at this point he was starting to grow indifferent to it. Besides, it wasn't like he had that much longer to... Much longer? He had always deflected the question before, but... just how old... was he?
"Huh... I can't remember that either..." was all the old man said before shaking his head and taking a swig from one of the bottles of liquor he had managed to keep to himself.
((Henderson shall be working on the Creeper Autopsy, cause it needs doing, with Concentration! As far as research, after Codex Brain, Beam Weapons and Powered Armor. For manufacturing, the Psi Lab, followed by Mag ammo.))
#14239828 Nov 01, 2019 at 10:26 AM · Edited over 1 year ago
Jesse's initial response to Bo's overtures were silence. Old-fashioned heart-to-heart conversations weren't exactly her thing. This lasted for a few minutes.
Eventually, she found her voice, though she did not stop tinkering around with the power distribution models on her tablet. She found talking was easier, that way.
"Not the first time I got burned, you know?" she said, pausing for a moment to reflexively touch the marked side of her face. "I mean, it's kind of hard to miss, I guess. Happened when my mom and I had to get away from this... refugee camp, I suppose you'd call it, when ADVENT's cleaners showed up. Lots of screaming and chaos and fire. Details aren't important. Point is, it took me... months, really, before I got to a point where it didn't just... hurt. Like, all the damn time. Didn't help that we didn't exactly have access to decent meds and had to stay on the move. Wound got at least half a dozen different types of infected. Still fucking stings, if I think about it too hard. And obviously, it never healed right."
Her voice was even; calm. Like she'd been putting her thoughts about all this in order for a while.
"Don't mean for that to be a sob story or anything. I don't actually mind it. The scars, I mean. Reminds me of things, you know? What happens when you take safety for granted. Why ADVENT needs to burn. That I can live through as much pain as I have to. How far my mom was willing to go keep me breathing. How much she loved me. Lessons learned. The usual."
A pause. She swiped something on her tablet, shook her head. No. That solution wouldn't do.
"No scars this time, though. Not physical ones, anyway. Not sure yet what kind of lessons to take from all of it. But.... well, it got me thinking, and not just about me. Not just about how weird and, well, wrong it feels to be breathing normally after all that. No, I've been... trying to imagine what the future looks like, you know? Even if we somehow manage the impossible and do what we're setting out to do here. We've got all this crazy stuff now. Miracle meds. All the crazy genetic engineering tech the aliens are working on. Weapons like nothing anyone on earth could have imagined twenty years ago. Whatever the hell that 'Codex' thing was - hopping around like a goddamn glitch in reality. And then there's this... mind-bending stuff. The psi lab we're building."
"People your age... I mean, people who remember, at least a little bit, what the world before was like - the way you talk sometimes, it's like you just expect everything to go back to the way it used to be. When we win, I mean. But all of that stuff - it's not going anywhere. Even if we torch all of XCOM's data banks in the victory celebrations or whatever, all the alien tech out there - people are going to use it. And I just... don't know what that's going to look like. Ten years, twenty years from now. Longer. World's not going to be anything like what you remember. Coming back from being burned alive to a crisp'll be the least of it. Good or bad, I think this future we're fighting for isn't going to be like anything we can imagine. People might not be like anything we can imagine."
She looked up from her tablet for the first time; made eye contact. Pursed her lips a little, thinking.
"So... yeah. That's what's been on my mind, I guess."
((Research: Think we should probably aim to get the creeper autopsy out of the way before the dang thing melts. Beyond that, beam pistol, excess into the 3rd tier of armor. Manufacturing: Not sure how many people don't have vests yet, but probably need one or two more? Beyond that, Jesse votes for building up a stockpile of ammo.
Jesse will be spending her time further upgrading science capacity, with +19 repair.))
#14239852 Nov 01, 2019 at 11:24 AM · Edited over 1 year ago
+600xp to Daud, John, Vic, Bo, Jesse, and Henderson for IC posting. +500xp to Bo, Daud, and John for critical success on skill rolls.
* * * Player character skill rolls were hot this week; lowest roll on my d20 was a 12.
FROM: LILY SHEN, X-COM ENGINEERING LEAD TO: MEMBERS, PLANNING COMMITTEE CC: CENTRAL RE: Research/Manufacturing Progress Report, Week Ending October 31, 2035
I’ve resisted going into Tygan’s lab this week. That codex thing creeps me out. I know it’s vital to our success in stopping AVATAR and winning this war, but I can’t help think that it’s staring at me with those disembodied eyes each time I look at it.
We hit our stride in the engineering bay. The raw materials you guys secured last time allowed us to boost our output on all fronts. We should have enough mag ammo for a good while, thanks to Daud and John’s work on the assembler, while the new Psi Lab should be ready for new vict—ah, candidates, very shortly. Better you than me. The new armor research has already opened up some new schematics for improvements to our existing armors. I’ll have research outlines for the Wraith Suit and the W.A.R. Suit available in the next day or so.
Doctor Ranma says that we’ve had some spoilage in the specimen storage facility. The Faceless corpse you recovered some missions back has decayed beyond use, and the Creeper specimen you brought back is starting to get a little squishy. I know some of you were working on it, but the Doc says we might want to put that on the top of the list unless you want to see your work literally disintegrate. She has no idea what those particular specimens seems more susceptible to decay, but she believes that the Creeper’s biochemistry could advance our medical program significantly. And its unique adaptive camouflage gives me some ideas that could expedite the Wraith armor project.
The new component that Jesse added seems to be working perfectly. We have one more left that can be installed to permanently upgrade the Avenger facilities.
Base rolls: X-COM Research Capacity (3d10+5): rolls 7, 8, 10, +2 (Darius Singh) +2 (Greta Kanem) +1 (Permanent Upgrade) (15/15 in Codex Brain [completed], 15/15 in Powered Armor [completed], 8/15 in Beam Pistol, 4/15 in Experimental Surgery Kit, 1/10 in Gauss Weapons, 2/5 on Purifier Autopsy, 2/5 in Creeper Autopsy).
Bo: +14 vs. DC20 on Codex Brain, roll 20 (Critical Success). +3 to project. +500xp.
Henderson: +11 vs. DC20 on Creeper Autopsy [indirect skill], roll 12 (Success). +1 to project.
X-COM Manufacturing Capacity (3d10+4): rolls 7, 8, 3, +1 (Mendoza), +2 (Tieffendahl), +1 (Johnson). (2/10 on a Nanoscale Vest, 12 boxes of Mag Ammunition completed, 20/20 in Psi Lab [completed]).
Daud: +8 vs. DC15 on Mag Ammo, roll 18 (Critical Success). Six boxes of ammunition produced. +500xp.
John: +9 vs. DC15 on Mag Ammo, roll 16 (Critical Success). Six boxes of ammunition produced. +500xp.
Jesse: +19 vs. DC25 on Avenger Upgrade, roll 14 (Success). Permanent +1 to Research.
X-COM Medical Capacity (3d6): rolls 5, 5, 5 (15 new medikits produced this week)
Victor: morale support on Avenger: +11 vs. DC20, roll 17 (Success). Shipboard morale boosted (+1 applied to Research). I’ll have to install the bar in the next version of the mod. :)
D&D is all about tradeoffs. You could have built a skill-focused character like Jesse or Stan, but then you'd have been less effective in combat.
Hope the DST demon doesn't claim its usual toll... game time is in 30 minutes here, as VM noted we traditionally stay on the US's calendar (thanks, farmers) as our players include a wide range of places with differing takes on the time shift.
They weren't yet in the belly of the beast, but it sure felt like it. The pressure to not be seen was at once exhilarating and terrifying. Daud knew the feeling well from all his times scavenging less than legal sites. That feeling of life or death being a hair's breadth apart was only amplified here.
The door below notwithstanding, their first real obstacle was a... wall. Maybe 15 to 20 feet high. It was heavily guarded on both it's northern and southern ends, so going around it wasn't really an option. That really only left going over it or going through it.
After reporting this, the team took a moment to consider. There was a patrolling MEC that came by every now and then, but it wasn't as much of a concern as the ADVENT trooper nearby, next to the building (a building they needed to get inside) just on the other side of the wall.. That made just scaling the wall a little more of a risky process than it would normally be.
But someone had the idea of making a zipline running from the building next to them to the one across the wall. Daud liked the idea immediately. If they got it right, less people would have to climb under pressure, in plain sight of any enemy who might happen to turn their heads at the wrong time. And they could get across to the building Daud was assuming they wanted.
They had the tools to do it. Both Daud and John had the grapples in their spider suits., and rope besides. If one of them could get to the building across (probably Daud himself), they could fire their grapple to the other, waiting at the roof of the other building.
Of course, that still meant that the team would have to get to the roof of the first building still, but there was probably a lot less chance they would get caught.
He polled the team, was this something they wanted to try?
Out of the smelly sewers John joined the other team members. The team seemed to be stuck between hammer and anvil. They either had to get to a rooftop or get over a wall and find cover very quickly. Both options seemed bad. Going over the wall was probably worse. JD looked at his jumpsuit control panel. It was fully charged so he could jump three times if necessary. How much weight that thing could take was unclear. Perhaps he could take someone not wearing a heavy armour. Then what?
He looked at Daud: “Are we thinking the same thing bro?”
“Guys, if we get a rope up that roof, can you all get up there on your own?”
JD was not not sure what they would do next but he always like the idea of solving one problem at a time...
Bo looked up the wall of the building towards the roof with a huge sigh.
"I really wish we'd finished making another one of those suits because I don't fancy my chances of making it all the way up there alone." She looked along the alley in the direction of the small wall. "But then if we can avoid a major fight, which would inevitably flag our presence, then I'm willing to give it a try."
"At least if you go up there you might see something better once you are." She pursed her lips and looked at Stan and Jess. "Is there some way to rig a pulley once they are up there to so that those of us without the technology could be helped?"
Vic looks sceptical. "This is a shoe-in for you and the others in old fashioned kevlar," he says. "But Henderson and I weigh a ton. Did they tell you much about the strength of those cables, how much weight they can take? The last thing I want to do is just fall down into the street."
He grimaces. "If the grapples work for you, then you should use 'em. If it looks dicey for Henderson and me, we can figure something else out between us."
Jesse winced. "I don't love the idea of climbing. How much have we experimented with those grappling hooks? Maybe we can rig 'em to pull people up... uh, but even then, I'm not sure if we'll get Vic and Henderson up without some extra help. Those suits are stupid heavy. And loud."
Stanley hadn't been all that keen on having some machines probe his mind, so he had watched to see how the others survived the experience before finally submitting to the testing himself. He was quite relieved when the doctors told him he didn't seem to have any significant psionic potential. He was more than happy to let others delve into such training and get back to working with his hands on the projects list.
Now, they were once more trying to infiltrate an alien post and were trying to do so secretly, a rather challenging undertaking when half the team were in heavy armored suits. He examined the climbing gear they had and the grapple device in the spider suits.
"I may be able to rig up a pulley of sorts with these elements, but I'm not sure of the weight bearing strength. I could probably use a double line to improve that, but then nor sure we'd have enough for the distance we need."
#14244102 Nov 08, 2019 at 03:24 AM · Edited over 1 year ago
The FORGE. The very name itself resonated with Henderson the moment he heard it during the briefing. It felt like the answer to the questions that had been plaguing him. He didn't know how, but it just was. So he knew he needed them to pick this mission.
Thankfully it worked out and Lady Luck was on Henderson's side with the coin flip. Yes, he had a good feeling about this job.
"Damn it, we lost another subject. They went brain dead again."
"Another!? Well how's Henderson's vitals looking? This is the 7th subject we've lost this month."
"The old man's fine, somehow. He's showing some signs of stress, but the old man is made out of something, that's for sure. Should we give him some time to rest and get back to full green?"
"No, we can't afford that kind of time. You know how much ADVENT has been getting on our rears to make sure the FORGE is a success. This project is a top priority."
"But why... though? I mean the aliens already have psionic capabilities and research done, which itself was a shock, so why do they need this research on the brain done?"
"Who knows and who cares. All that matters is we get a breakthrough done, and soon. Either way though, we'll be set for life."
"Either way? What do you mean?"
"I mean either we succeed and live lives of luxury, or we fail and don't get to live. So back to work."
He could always hear the scientists talking like that. They never cared if they got overheard, in fact he almost swore they did it on purpose. That disdain, that total lack of empathy. No, those scientists viewed them as less than human, as mere animals for their research. Understanding that didn't make it any less horrible, though.
The cell he found himself in was dirty and cramped, despite how everything else outside literally gleamed and shined. Well, it wasn't cramped anymore actually. It was just him and the old man left. No one else seemed to survive the experiments so far. It was probably just a matter of time for him too. No one seemed to survive these experiments... except for the old man, if the scientists could be believed.
He looked up at the old geezer. It didn't make sense. The old man still looked adamant, strong. Like he wasn't broken. As if he thought he could still get out of here... But the old man had been here for so long. Why wasn't he broken? The boy just couldn't understand.
He looked down at the boy from his bed against the wall, stretching his arms as he sat up against it. Those damned scientists never stopped talking it felt like. Forge this, brain that, memories this, connections that. And so much science jargon. It almost made him miss remembering those millions of acronyms all the different branches and divisions of the military and government used.
The experiments were far more troublesome, however. Not only did it always leave him in a daze afterwards, but his whole body would ache for days. He could take it, though. He'd been through every major war since the first one, including the Alien War, and he'd won and lived through them all. Well okay, he didn't win the Alien War, but surviving it was almost the same. Although the consolation prize definitely could have been better.
The boy though... He had had to watch so many young men and women die over and over again, for so many years. All for this pet project of ADVENT. It was a repulsive one, honestly, at least if his suspicions were correct. He might not have some fancy college degree, but listen to enough science for a decade and you learn something, no matter how old you are.
Still... it never got easier to watch. Especially the ones who just gave up. Heck, if you don't have hope what's the point of living? And life's worth living, even trapped like rats, cause you never know when lady luck will give you your chance.
"Boy, what are you doing just sitting down there moping? Surely you can find something better to do with your free time."
"... Old man, how the hell are you so... I don't even know what to call it, so I'll go with optimistic. You know we're going to die here, but you act as if this is your day job!"
"Well heck, it /is/ my day job. Only I seem to be a salary work who works tons of unpaid overtime... Really should try and renegotiate my contract."
"See, that right there. How can you even have the energy to joke around like that? You've been trapped here for years, haven't you!?"
"Something like that. I mean I kept count of the days at one point, but after the second year it just felt pointless. I don't think I've been here a full decade yet though, I figure they'd get me a cake or something for that anniversary."
"Ugh... just talking to you is exhausting."
"Well so's looking at ya with that mopey expression."
"Well sorry if I don't feel particularly happy that I'm going to die soon."
"See, that's the attitude. It's like they say, 'turn that frown upside down'. If you don't believe things might turn around, then they probably won't."
"And what, if I suddenly start believing I might survive this whole thing and get my life back, I will?"
"You'll definitely have a better shot at it then if you just lay down and die, boy."
"... You're crazy, you know that ol' man?"
"Eh, they've called me far worse names. Out of jealousy I think, personally."
He couldn't help but shake his head as he looked up at the old man.
"What's your name, boy?"
Not a bad name he thought as he looked down at the young man sitting there on the ground. He definitely looked a little less mopey, if not more annoyed, now.
"What... was that?" Henderson barely spoke the words, more mouthed them merely. As the others discussed a way to ascend past some wall he had a literal flashback it appeared. Was he kept here, in the past? Was the FORGE where he had been experimented on? He couldn't remember much about the time he had suffered under alien experimentation very well, but that flashback felt so vivid, so wrong, so real, as if he were there, as if Henderson were there, in that cell.
Something... he could almost grasp at something there. If he concentrated, maybe he could reach it, even if it were something... he shouldn't? He knew what it was, what it meant, even if he didn't understand it right now. But just what did that mean?