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2 yrs ago
Current So many writing ideas, so little time to write. Being an adult sucks...
2 yrs ago
It's the most fattening time of the year!
3 yrs ago
There is a madness to my method. Or is there a method to my madness?
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4 yrs ago
Tis that time of year and I have just one thing to say: Happy Holidays! Whatever your celebrative holiday this time of year is, I hope it's a good rest of the year for you!
4 yrs ago
The world has become a place for two kinds of people: the kind who make jokes so they don't have to acknowledge that this is happening and the kind who don't care and go with the flow.


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Most Recent Posts

Spartan Lucas Ryker

Lucas had followed Aviza and Vael from their incident at the turret they knocked out to the rendezvous point, but once the fleet had appeared, the need for stealth was a lesser concern and he turned one of his two SMGs on a nearby patrol of URF soldiers and fired, putting them down before they could register what was happening. With everything happening and the swarm of phantoms descended on the base, he had no clue of knowing which one was heading to pick up the rest of the team as the group of three moved towards the roof. Another pair of URF troopers tried to move up behind them, unaware of the cloaked figures, who were extra hidden by the sandstorm. Swapping from his SMG to the DMR, two head shots dropped the pair where they stood.

"Won't lie, not having to worry about shielding around the head is a nice change of pace." Another pair of shots dropped two more URF soldiers, their bodies hitting the ground and disappearing in the storm. As they neared the top, the sight of Jiralhanae and a heavy URF squad getting ready to attack the rest of the team drove the SPARTAN IV to action. Storing his DMR on his back as he dashed past Aviza and Vael, his twin energy daggers coming free as he rammed his shoulder into the first Brute he reached. "Grikgar, hit those heavies with plasma!"

The Brute wasn't expecting an invisible SPARTAN, who suddenly became visible upon impact, to ram into him and went sprawling with the SPARTAN IV leaping on top of him and ramming one dagger into his neck and the other into his forehead. Ryker didn't even wait for the overgrown ape to stop moving before the twin blades came free and he leapt off to slide across the roof into the legs of another Brute, knocking him over and into the legs of a third. However, Lucas knew he was gambling being away from the others like this, but he was confident enough in his CQC skills to stay safe until the numbers were thinned out.
Hartford Military Base
New Star, Mars Colony
1115 hrs Local Time

Captain Gardner allowed the others to walk by before tapping the Corporal on the shoulder as he walked by, indicating to walk with him just out of earshot of the new bloods while keeping them in sight. “Bit heavy back there, don’t you think?” Corporal Renser shrugged, pulling out a toothpick and putting it between his teeth, chewing it a little before replying, any attempt at hiding his accent gone.

“Perhaps a wee bit, but if it means I’m not rubbin’ me blarney stone every ten minutes that we all make it home, I’d do it again. Let the gal resent me a bit, she wouldn’t be the first and I doubt she’ll be the last. Though, I have some concerns about Private Devries. I think she’s spent a wee too much time in the dating sims.” Trent shook his head and sighed.

“I’ll...have to look into it. But for that first bit, you Irish are a strange lot, you know that?” The only response as they walked up the ramp onto the skimmer was a chuckle from the Corporal as he took his seat near the exit. Meanwhile, the Captain stood before the seat nearest the cockpit and looked over his squad. “Alright, we’re looking at about a ten minute flight to the USS Bronzebeard. From there, the time is yours to spend as you see fit. Well mostly.” As the Holy Mackerel rumbled from take off, the captain stayed standing. “There’s a couple of team exercises planned to get used used to first working as a squad and second as a part of a larger force in preparation for the attack, which will take place near the end of the trip so the drills are fresh in our minds.”

Finally sitting, the Captain secures himself as the ship begins shaking from breaking atmosphere and heading into orbit, where the USS Bronzebeard is waiting for them. “That’s all I have for you for now, so once we’ve gotten you situated, as I said, the time is yours.”

USS Bronzebeard
Orbit around Mars
1622 Shipboard Time

The trip to the Bronzebeard certainly proved to be quick, and landing was so smooth, none of the new recruits knew they had reached their hangar until the Mackerel’s loading ramp opened, with the Corporal down first. During combat, his job would be to ensure that their skimmer isn’t rushed during insertion, but right now, he was simply to guide the new bloods to their line-up position. Once everyone was in position, the Captain stood just in front of them at their right with the Corporal standing behind him. Several other squads were lined up similarly, though there was much more variation to them than to Ox Squad, several containing MEC troopers and even the shimmering advanced concealment cloaks of Strikers. There was no sound after everyone lined up, just stretching silence.

After what would have felt like an eternity, three figures walked out of a door on the other end of the hangar, towards the depths of the Super Heavy War-Cruiser. Two were clearly armored up in the Praetorian armor of the personal guards of Military Command while the third bore the military uniform of none other than Brigadier General Joseph Hartman, who had led the purging of the Europa Chrysalid hives from the frontlines no more than six years prior. Standing on a podium that had risen up in the center of the hangar, his glowing red cybernetic eye unflinching. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the XCOM Initiative, my fellow soldiers. Today marks the first time we’ve actively sought conflict with the Alien Hive Mind led by the Ethereals since they first touched down on Earth, over sixty years ago. Their technology and unfamiliar physiology gave them an early edge on the standard militaries of the world, but the UN and its allies had foreseen this possibility and created a task force specifically to counter any extraterrestrial threat, founded in the form of XCOM. Using ambush and guerilla combat tactics, the Commander single handedly turned a losing war into the greatest victory humanity has ever seen against any foe. It was because of XCOM’s R&D that we were eventually able to turn the tools and technology of the aliens against them and even the playing field, first through improved energy dispersion armor and laser weaponry and then through full Ostryx armor and plasma weaponry. Needless to say, XCOM was the foundation of victory for us.

But that victory did not come without its price, as the memorials show. Not to mention, thirty years ago, after the end of the War, Germany and the United States shut their borders to the rest of the world in response to the revelation that the enemy had been using mind control on their people to get results that cost an unnecessary loss of life. Germany has since rejoined the world at large and the United Earth Government in recent years and now we are prepared to launch our first real counter attack in nearly half a century. Among the long-time squads that are here today is a batch of new bloods,” at this point he points to Ox Squad, everyone’s eyes following his indication, “in Ox Squad, who’s job will be to take on and either contain or eliminate the Ethereal waiting for us on Arthan-3. Everyone else is to secure the stronghold and support them. Now, the UEG regulars don’t know that and we’re going to keep it that way. Far as they know, everyone has objectives that line up.” He looked over each and every squad assembled in the hangar before nodding. “For Humanity! Dismissed!”

And with that one word, the hangar became a flurry of activity as the squads gathered up their gear and split off down different doors heading into the War-Cruiser’s interior. Captain Gardner led his squad through a door on the right side of the hangar and down a series of halls that seemed to take them down lower before reaching a door with the head of an Ox painted on it as two other XCOM squads entered doors further away from them on either side, talking and laughing with each other. The path to their barracks and back to the hangar had been easy for the group to memorize and as they walked in, it wouldn’t be surprising if they decided to keep to themselves in their barracks, as it was most definitely one of the most advanced setups any of the newer recruits would have ever seen. “Welcome to Ox Squads barracks here on the Bronzebeard. Like I said, we do have independent facilities here, as you can see, but at least TRY to play nice with the UEG regulars. They’re what make up the bulk of our forces after all. Go ahead and get comfy, dismissed.” The Corporal was already on his way to a small section clearly intended for the squad's SIC and the Captain headed for the only other REAL closed door besides the showers and restrooms and opened it up, revealing an office.

The door closed behind him and Damian was content to set to cleaning his revolvers once his gear was stowed away, which left the others to do what they liked, including checking out the training and PT areas, the mess hall they had and the shooting range. After a few minutes, the Captain came out. “Specialist Weisser, a word before you get too deep into exploration.” He went back into his office and waited until she had come in and the door closed before speaking.

“Alright, Specialist. I know the Corporal gave you quite the roasting, so you have my permission to speak freely on the matter. Nothing you say to me will leave this room and I will not reprimand you for any of it. It wasn’t hard to see how that left you...unhappy and I need your mind clear for the upcoming mission.”
Damian Gerard|Outside Crocus

To be fair to Damian, he had never spent quite so much time focusing on simply increasing the amount of the Hercules Blade's elemental control before, but now that he was, as the wind around the blade howled and whipped past him, the implications of the elemental effects of both it and the Ares Blade scared him maybe just a little. Regardless, he started to get a feel for just how powerful this summoned polearm was, but right as he went to unleash the power he'd collected around the blade in an attack he'd just formed in his head, the sound of an explosion echoed in another part of the field, breaking his concentration, which turned out to not be a good thing. Without any real warning, the wind power stored by the Hercules Blade blasted outwards, sending the young mage sailing up and back through the air. "Yikes!" He sailed across the field, past the tree his two furry companions had been lounging under before the wind exercise, and then rolled several dozen meters more before finally coming to a stop. Laying still for a moment, Damian eventually got up with a groan, moving his limbs to make sure nothing was broken.

Jaëger was the first to reach him, the large male sniffing his master with a glint of concern in his eyes before huffing and pushing Damian with his head as Carmilla arrived and did her own sniff check. "Easy guys, I'm fine...mostly. Guess I should learn to maintain control even when I'm not immediately focusing on it too...Now about that explosion..." Picking himself up, Damian looked around for the source until he spotted two mages, whom he presumed were from Fenixtear, sparring with each other. One mage seemed to use a type of water magic while the other was...Is he propelling himself using explosions? Or are the explosions also weapons themselves? Hmmmm... Already his mind was surging with ways to both counter attacks from a magic like that and use that same magic as an effect siege and AOE weapon. Admittedly, thinking that way about his guild mates was hardly the most flattering thing he could do, but often times it was how he processed a magic or encouraged him to have a conversation with the user to get to know them on a more personal level.

A huff from Jaëger that blew against his arm brought him out of such thoughts, however, and he summoned the Hercules Blade as he turned to walk back to where he'd been training before. "I know, I know. I swear, sometimes you're uninvolved and other times its like you're my dad." The walk took a couple of minutes and in that time, the sounds of explosions stopped and quiet fell over the field again. Resuming his stance in the same spot, Damian focused again on gathering the power of the wind and in no time, the hurricane force winds from before had returned. However, where as before Damian simply gathered it to see what happened, he had a purpose this time. "Howling Gale Fang!" Spinning around, Damian pours all the power he'd gathered around the Hercules Blade into a powerful thrust and unintentionally slices through the woods behind him, four trees deep, before the wind power exploded outwards and shredded the trunks and branches of another ten around the point of impact.

Blinking in surprise, Damian looks from the damage to his polearm and back a few times before dismissing the weapon and retrieving the top of his armor and the sleeve shirt that went underneath it. "We'll, uh, pretend we don't know what did that, OK guys?" The two wolves simply flank him as he heads back towards the city, glancing at each other and hoping that he would just stay out of trouble for a little while. Passing the water mage, Damian nods to her as he starts whistling to himself, an old marching toon that he sang in the military that he always enjoyed. Carmilla and Jaëger paused to sniff the young woman, familiarizing themselves with her scent so they could begin to figure out who was in Fenixtear without having to see them right away or their guild mark. Damian, who had kept walking, realized they'd stopped following him and turned around.

"Come on, you two, foods calling! Sorry about that miss, they're just learning their new territory is all."
Hartford Military Base
New Star, Mars Colony
1113 hrs Local Time

Damian listened to each person and then proceeded to match the Duelist’s gaze evenly after everyone had finished. He didn’t immediately speak after they’d finished either, instead approaching the holotable and pulling out a modern USB drive. While it would seem that with all the technological advances made, mobile storage would have changed after so many improvements, scientists found that the size of a USB was excellent for easy transport, even decades later.

As he plugged it in and started browsing through the files, he finally spoke, his Irish accent finally coming into full swing. “Well, a pleasure to know all of you better. Now before I give all of you more information about me, let me sum up what I’ve just learned. Private Devries, you joined the UEG military out of either a sense of moral obligation or because you enjoyed the training sims in high school. Likely the latter based on your excellent ability to defeat the Crescent Moon Empire’s emperor so quickly. You, Private Steinboden, likely joined the UEG to find access to metals that you’re not allowed to handle on Earth and see what it was we actually faced in the war. Perhaps also because you like smashing things with your ax.” The video he had been looking for was now queued, but he didn’t play it yet, instead turning to put a flat gaze on Helene.

“And then there’s you, Specialist Helene Weisser, granddaughter of the legendary Psi Op Steven Weisser. Your records called you a prodigy, even at a young age, and the Templar program is keeping an eye on you according to rumors. I can give the other two members of our squad a pass, they don’t have the legacy of a hero to look up to and live up to, but you? You’re here with grandiose ideas of just what this fight will be like, the role you’ll fulfill and where you’ll end up. You’re going to be the one that insists on being the first off the skimmer and the first in the door, throwing some psionic power around with the intent to intimidate and kill as many aliens in one fell swoop as you can.” He shakes his head. “You’re a right idiot. Rancor Squad was formed a few weeks ago, just before we started mobilizing, full of new recruits full of potential and heading off on their first chrysalid hunt to get them some combat experience. Typically these aren’t particularly dangerous and most of both the UEG’s and XCOM’s new bloods cut their teeth on them regularly. But Specialist Ria Blackwell had big dreams and plans concerning her new position as an XCOM prospect. Here’s how that ended for them.”

Hitting play on the holo terminal, the video starts up. From the angle of the camera, it’s clear that this was pulled from someone’s body cam. The video starts out with the usual patrol banter as the squad heads into a tunnel just behind another squad, XCOM patches and a Chimera patch on their backs as they move into the cave. “Chimera squad was to be their leash, their handlers. Get the new blood squad in, and get them out in one piece. Specialist Blackwell was Rancor’s temp NCO until their actual CO recovered and she, unfortunately, had other ideas.” The video had continued playing and as Chimera Squad made a left at a fork, a voice came into the private channel of the soldier’s radio, presumably Specialist Blackwell’s, that ordered them right. In minutes, she’d lead them to a small hatchery, if the grotesque scene before them could be called that as gestating bodies littered the ground. The voice came in again as the group took up positions around the nest on higher ground.

“Alright, we’re going to toss incendiary to rile up the bugs and then deploy the Napalm grenades to deal with the main rush. Clean up should be easy after that. Prep,” the camera shifts around as the person it’s on pulls an incendiary out, “and throw.” There’s the sound of numerous metal things hitting the nest before flames ignite it. There’s an inhuman screeching before chrysalids come out of every faucet that the camera can see, way more than the nest size would indicate. The scene that proceeds to play out is horrifying as the squad of new bloods attempts to fall back towards the tunnel they’d come in at. Plasma shots sear into the darkness, tearing apart the bugs as they surge forwards, but not fast enough and the last person in the group, a youthful looking red head, gets grabbed and pulled back, screaming as she’s ripped apart.

Two more get pulled into unseen side tunnels as they run past, their fates no less grizzly as purple psionic power rips into the tunnels, too late to save anyone. The video cuts as Chimera squads flamethrower armed MEC comes into sight, bounds past the last two survivors and unleashes napalm on the horde behind them. The Corporal pulls the USB and turns back. “Former Specialist Ria Blackwell was the great niece of Colonel James “Rusty” Blackwell, an accomplished assault specialist within XCOM who lead the attack on the underground base that truly turned the tide in the Invasion war. If that name isn’t familiar, Specialist Weisser, then you didn’t pay attention to the men your grandfather served with and under. Because of her Uncle’s stories, she got the idea that she could be the next Colonel Blackwell, especially after she manifested the Psionic powers her great-uncle had lacked. Because of them and his name, she assumed she knew better than Chimera Squad. That nest? That nest has never been cleared because of what happened to Rancor. We called it the Feeding Grounds because while it looks small, there are more chrysalids hiding in it than in the other three major nests on Mars combined.”

He looked over each of the new bloods before continuing. “Blackwell is now serving time in prison, charged with willfully disobeying a superior and getting her three squadmates killed in action unnecessarily. And this was routine and standard for training out here. Now we’re going up against the Ethereals and their armies and I can practically see the delusions of grandeur in your head. For the luck of the Irish, get rid of ‘em before it gets ya killed. I want all of you to be able to tell stories like Stefan Weisser got to.” His grim story delivered and point made, the Irishman lightened up. “As for my hobbies, I build firearms, camp and hunt. I also enjoy the odd bit of gene modding where it’s permitted, making and testing new mods in the simulation programs.”

Unknown to the group, the Captain hadn’t actually gone that far, instead stopping to listen to his Corporal and second in command give his warning and make sure he didn’t go overboard about it. The other survivor of the squad, now Sergeant Ethan Sanders, was still attending therapy after what he saw. The body cam didn’t show it, but Sanders had seen what happened to the squadmate that was pulled into the left tunnel and it had him waking up in screams some nights. His promotion to sergeant had been a reward for surviving his former NCO’s arrogance, but he had yet to be given a new squad due to the PTSD. A chirp in his ear had him rounding the corner, acting like he wasn’t aware of what had happened, but after the others had responded. “Alright everyone, time to get to the skimmer. After that, we’ll need to get comfy.”
who says this?
"Sure, we put our lives on the line every mission but most dangerous of all...we risked our humanity to defeat them."
it's in green, but I don't know who's dialogue is in green

I think the coloration is just do differentiate the line from Helene's normal speech. More of just a general quote if you will.
Hartford Military Base
New Star, Mars Colony
1110 hrs Local Time

The captain listened to each question closely, looking at the speaker accordingly and nodding in acknowledgement to each spoken question. “Good batch of questions, for the most part. We leave in ten, our skimmer will take us to the USS Bronzebeard in orbit and we’ll jump to slip space about ten hours after that. There are two other strongholds being attacked simultaneously with our objective, but ours is the closest, so our jump is last. As for the number of tangos, expect numerous, Private Steinboden. This is an enemy stronghold after all, so they won’t slouch on keeping it manned. Private Devries, you’ll be retaking the course on Earth’s interstellar travel when the mission is over, but I have addressed the first question. Your second question’s answer is quite simple, and that’s that there is no particular rhyme or reason. Another squad is Hawk Squad, you’ve got the Vengeful Sharks, a Spec Ops team of mostly Rippers with a couple of Reapers in support. So, no particular reason, just where our lot fell most likely.”

The captain, having given a quick brief of general details and gotten all the new bloods to talk, walked around the table and hit a button on it, bringing the holographic display up on the fortress that they’d be helping to assault. “And since no one asked, I’ll give you guys something more in depth. This is the stronghold Alpha as we’ve labeled it, though intel says the aliens call it Outpost Warden. Regardless, the official plan that the Commander laid out for us is to insert at the top of the stronghold and work our way down to the main hall while also dealing with any defensive emplacements we can.” The gunslinger spoke up at this point.

“But we both know you got a second set of orders from the Commander that weren’t so official, which are?” The captain, chuckling softly, nodded.

“He did and that was that the unofficial plan is to move as we see fit and focus on getting to the enemy leadership and contain or neutralize. Orbital support is being tasked to remove anti-air and anti-infantry emplacements on the outside of the outpost. Seems simple enough right?” Damian nodded and took another bite of his jerky as the image shifted to a layout of the Bronzebeard. “Now, as for our accommodations on the Bronzebeard, XCOM units are considered a branch of special forces, so we’ll have our own armory, barracks and mess hall for our small unit, though it is encouraged that we mix and mingle with the UEG regulars at meal times and during PT.” Snapping his fingers, Captain reached behind him and withdrew three XCOM patches and approached each of the new bloods.

“These are your XCOM patches, signifying that you are members of the unit within the UEG and that if you say your mission is of dire importance, then the regs had better listen to you. However,” the change in the captain’s tone caused the new bloods to jump, “don’t abuse that power. You ever hear of the boy who cried wolf? That’s what’ll happen to your authority.”

Returning to his position at the table, the holographic projection turns off and the Captain starts to walk off. “I’ll be back in five to gather you four for the trip up to the Bronzebeard, but until then, get to know each other. You’ll be working closely for the foreseeable future.” And with that, he and his Gremlin were gone. After a moment of silence, the Irish accent in Damian’s voice won out as he jumped down to converse with his new squad mates.

“Alright then, where’s everyone from? Hobbies, likes, dislikes?” @Lunamaria Hawke Have a discord link.
Ox Squad

Trent Gardner, Advanced Infantry
Drachen Steinboden, Duelist
Marcia Devries, Rifleman
Helene Weisser, Psi Operative
Damian Renser, Gunslinger
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