Rating - R
My name is Dr James Roberts. The only thing I can see around me is darkness and without any sense of time, it felt like forever. I had been kidnapped and blindfolded from my lab in Scotland by individuals who knew exactly how to get into the facility and also knew just what to look for in that labyrinth of floors and corridors. Since then I kept having unusual lapses in time. Once we had reached the surface of the facility, everything around me fell silent. A few seconds later I could hear the ocean and I could feel my captors guiding me down a flight of steel steps, and then into a large chamber or room. From there all I could hear were the humming of machinery and computers at work, beeps and blips, and individuals bellowing orders and acknowledgments at each other. Some sounded human while others sounded mechanical. There was a woman’s voice that stood out from the rest due to it’s mature and commanding demeanor. Terminologies and keywords flew back and forth, some of which I could pick out from their conversations while I was there. I heard them mention USS Broadside, Trailbreaker generator, and Omega thruster. During the course of my career as a scientist, I had came across these keywords when my team from X-Com aided Sector-7 in reverse engineering alien technology that was from a race of cybernetic beings. From what I could remember, the USS Broadside is a heavily armored aircraft carrier, Trailbreaker is a generator that is capable of projecting protective fields of energy, and the Omega thruster is a very powerful rocket booster. I try my best to eavesdrop on the conversations around to figure out what could be going on.
Female Captain : Any sign of Javitz or Katu ?
Female Assistant : Avalon has detected Javitz’s life sign on the mountain side in South Georgia. Katu’s lifesign disappeared half an hour ago.
Female Captain : Alright then, we go in hard and fast. Set course for South Georgia, configure the Trailbreaker to full shields forward and aft, engage the Omega thruster, and get the Vanette ready for launch. Once we’re on land, we’re taking the Vanette out to rescue Javitz and we’re bringing the good doctor along for the ride.
Female Assistant : Captain, we’ve detected an energy spike on the coast ! The Phalanx’s coast artillery batteries are coming alive ! 6 ballistic missiles have been launched from the coast but it’s headed for the sky above us.
Female Captain : Red alert ! All hands brace for impact ! What’s our ETA to land ?
Female Assistant : 29 minutes ! The good news is that those 6 ballistic missiles are no longer on our scope, the bad news is that there are now hundreds of smaller missiles heading towards us from above, most likely delivered by those 6 ballistic missiles !
Female Captain : Bring up visual and audio of the Broadside’s flight deck and untie the doctor’s blindfold ! Disable the sprinkler system and tell Rusty the torch the meat slabs !
Female Assistant : Yes Capta-urghh…
Before the assistant could finish her sentence, the whole ship rocked violently as sounds of explosions filled the audio speakers in the ship’s command center. From one of the monitors in the command center we could see a very dense yellowish beam of light hit the ship’s bow. The air in front of the ship rippled with a blue translucence which is most likely the Trailbreaker at work. A few seconds later, that very same beam of light punched through the ship’s protective shield. The whole ship shuddered and moaned under the impact. Multiple screens in the command center turned to static as soon as the beam struck the ship’s bow. If that was bad, what happened next was worse. Hundreds of small missiles rained destruction from above to the point where virtually nothing remained of the flight deck. Another hit from that beam weapon or another round of missiles from above would be the death of us. The captain must’ve known we’re fighting a losing battle, so she quickly grab her assistant’s arm and mine. My feet started feeling very tingly and when I looked down at them, I could see myself slowly turning into green mist. The same was happening to both the captain and her assistant. I took a deep breath and before I knew it, we were in what appears to be the ship’s cargo hold. There, we were greeted by a man wearing the same uniform as the captain and her assistant who then ushered us into the Vanette which was nothing more than a conventional van.
Female captain : Rusty, is the Vanette good to go ?
Rusty : Yes ma’am !
Female captain : Good, we’re abandoning ship. Cargill and Dr Roberts get in, Rusty will be driving us once I teleport us to the South Georgia’s beach.
Here we go again I thought to myself. We all got in the Vanette and the female captain did what she did best. A second later we found ourselves a few hundred meters inland with the view of a mountain range in front of us. It wasn’t the kind we’re used to seeing. This mountain range was covered in rough, metallic looking matter from the base all the way up to the mountain’s mid section. Cargill picked up her binoculars and started scanning the side of the mountain range. Our driver, Rusty wasted no time in getting the Vanette racing along the grassy terrain.
Cargill : Captain, I’ve spotted Javitz ! Roughly ten meters from the summit !
Female captain : I see him ! Good work Cargill. Rusty, keep the van going. I’ll be back with Javitz.
Before you know it, she was back in the back of the van with a big bulky guy wearing an eye patch who appeared to be infected with that very same yellowish metallic material from his thighs up to his abdomen. Until now none of them have told me why I was needed. Looking at Javitz’s infection, I’m guessing this is where my expertise in genetics and biology come into play.
Female captain : Dr Roberts, meet Javitz our fellow Acolyte. Sorry to have kept you in the dark all this while. All will be made clear once we reach our next stop.
And with that, everything turned to green mist again and where we’ll reappear is anybody’s guess.
When I opened my eyes, I found that my whole world had literally turned upside down until I realized that our van itself had turned turtle when we all rematerialized. All of us were strapped in and hanging from our seats except Javitz who was in the cargo section groaning while lying on the ceiling of the van. Looking out of the passenger window, I could see the shore and that our van is upside down in few inches of water. Good thing for Javitz he was conscious else he’d be the first one to drown. The Acolytes in the other seats were shifting around and assessing the situation for themselves. I waited for the female captain to unbuckle herself first, then I put one hand on the van’s ceiling while I unbuckle my seat belt using the other hand. Now that I had more freedom of movement, I was able to use my arms to ease myself down into few inches of water at the van’s ceiling. The female captain who was sitting beside me slid open the van’s sliding door and crawled out onto the shore. We all followed in her wake and assembled together on the shore, dripping wet and shivering in the cold freezing winds.
Female captain : Rusty, generate some heat for us please.
Rusty : Yes, captain.
Javitz : What on earth happened Vought ? And since when did you become captain ?
Female captain / Vought : I became captain since Magneto is still in a coma and Exodus is still missing. There’s something on this island that’s interfering with my powers. We were supposed to rematerialize further inland and not upside down in the water. Dr James Roberts, allow me to properly introduce myself. I am Captain Amelia Vought, acting commander of the Acolytes in the absence of Magneto and his lieutenant Exodus. These are my comrades, Joanna Cargill, Isaac Javitz, and Rusty Collins.
Dr James Roberts : Nice to meet you all. I think you all know who I am since you’ve infiltrated my facility and kidnapped me. But to make it official, I am Dr James Roberts and judging by Javitz’s condition, I assume that’s why you need me.
Captain Amelia Vought : That is correct, Doctor. That is one of many reasons why we need you but we’ll need to get to the X-Com facility on this island before we can explain further on the other reasons.
Dr James Roberts : There’s an X-Com facility here ? What island is this and what makes this particular facility so special that you have to kidnap me from one X-Com facility and transfer me to another X-Com facility ? How is it that you have access to any X-Com facility or even know your way around one ?
Captain Amelia Vought : Yes Dr Roberts, there is an X-Com facility here on this island and it is one of the most secluded X-Com facilities in the world and the only one with the most research & development. We know our way around X-Com facilities via our comrade Milan’s friend, Dr Rehkard Vernyad. Welcome to Cook Island, Dr James Roberts. Everyone, let’s make a move. The longer we stay here, the more chance the Phalanx would spot us from above. Javitz, carry the van with us.
Cook Island is a pretty small place measuring just 6 by 3km. It is one of the southern most islands that make up the chain of South Sandwich Islands. It took us just 10 minutes by foot to reach the entrance of the Cook Island X-Com facility which was deep in a cave at the base of Mount Harmer. There isn’t much to see on the surface of Cook Island. Nothing but rocks, ice and snow as the landscape of the island is glacial in nature. Sometimes it becomes irritating to the eyes whenever the sunlight glares off the white snow and ice patches. Rusty lead the way in the dark cave with his fiery hands while the rest of us followed. Javitz was the last to enter as he had to put the Vanette on the ground and pull it behind him. We came to a stop at the access lift which transports personnel and supplies to and from the X-Com facility below ground. None of the switches or lights on the access lift were lit.
Captain Amelia Vought : Javitz, load the Vanette into the access lift. Guys, looks like we’re taking the stairs down. Rusty, continue leading the way.
Dr James Roberts : I was under the impression that this facility was still inhabited.
Captain Amelia Vought : You’re right Dr Roberts, it’s inhabited… just not by people. When the X-Com personnel of Cook Island abandoned this facility few years ago, they released the locks on all the alien containment chambers down below as a form of security against intruders hoping to cash in on the research & development materials they have stashed in here. We’ve no idea what kinds of alien life forms are waiting for us downstairs. That’s why I had Javitz load the Vanette into the access lift. That way, even if the power did come on by accident, none of the aliens down there can get into the access lift.
Dr James Roberts : So, what weapons do we have against these aliens ?
Rusty : That would be me. I’m the group’s very own flame thrower. It’s been proven that fire is a good deterrent to keep hostiles away. Cargill and Javitz are our close combat fighters in case my flames have no effect on the bigger creatures.
Dr James Roberts : Bigger creatures ?! Captain, are you seriously going to rely on flames and brute strength alone ? If anything happens to Rusty, our defenses would be broken.
Captain Amelia Vought : Don’t worry Dr Roberts, Cargill and I each have a Luger P08 sidearm.
We all entered the stairwell through the door that was a few meters to the right of the access lift. From the top of the stairwell looking down over the railing, it looked as though there was no end in sight and with Rusty’s fiery hands the only source of light that we have, it felt very claustrophobic walking down the spiraling stairwell. If that wasn’t bad enough, Javitz showed us just how much of an idiot he was by putting his head over the railing and spitting. It felt like forever as his spit fell through the air. Then inhuman, shrieking sounds can be heard, followed by sounds of movement and footsteps picking up pace as they got louder and closer. No doubt about it, Javitz inadvertently declared war with a whole nest of aliens.
There are 9 sublevels between us and the bottom of the stairwell. To avoid being pushed into a retreat by the oncoming wave of aliens, we tried our best to secure our position at each sublevel before moving downward to the next. We’ve managed to secure the stairwell portion of sublevel 3. Rusty threw some fireballs over the railing and let them fall on the aliens at the very bottom of the stairwell as well as those already on the stairs few levels below us on the opposite side. We have no idea what was down there besides the aliens but a minute after the fireballs hit their targets, the entire area at the bottom of the stairwell as well as sublevel 7 & 8 became a furnace. We could hear the weaker aliens of the lot scream and shoot frantically at us. We immediately crouched and leaned as close as possible to the stairwell walls to avoid the shots. I peeked over the railing whenever there was a break in the shootings, and I could see stronger aliens such as the Chrysalids running up the staircase while still covered in flames. They were already on sublevel 6. Another few more levels and we’ll be face to face with the Chrysalids. They’re not the type of aliens you’d want to get up close as their bite delivers an infection that can turn humans into one of them.
Their shiny black exoskeleton is what enables them to take heavy damage, long enough to reach their victims and infect them. Although, right now all we could see are flaming silhouettes of monstrous bipedal insect looking aliens running up the stairs. If that wasn’t bad enough, the door at the top of the stairwell where we came through creaked open and appeared very familiar looking red glowing eyes. Like a bunch of abnormally large wolves, the Phalanx entered the stairwell from the top and made their way down to us.
Joanna Cargill : The situation isn’t looking good for us ! The Phalanx are coming down from the top while these aliens are coming from below !
Captain Amelia Vought : Not good at all ! And I still can’t teleport us out of here !
Dr James Roberts : Here they come !
As soon as I shouted my warning, the Phalanx prowlers pounced at us from the top of the stairwell. What happened next sent the already horrible situation into further chaos when after crashing into us, the added weight of the Phalanx prowlers sent our portion of the stairwell crashing down onto sublevel 4. By now we were face to face with both the Phalanx and Chrysalids on sublevel 4. One flaming Chrysalid rushed at me and tried grabbing my shirt with it’s pincers. Captain Amelia Vought quickly grabbed me from behind with her left arm and pulled me close to her while she held her right arm in front of me and began shooting frantically at the Chrysalid’s head. After 5 shots from Vought’s sidearm, the Chrysalid finally succumbed to defeat and fell face forward. I could feel the humidity of Vought’s body and her sweat dripping onto me. The chaos in the stairwell had been escalating so fast that I hadn’t realized I was sweating as well until I had short breather from the Chrysalid’s attack. Maybe it was the sheer terror, the adrenaline rushing through our veins, the heat from the raging fires all around us, or a combination of all those that was making us sweat. One thing was for sure, if we didn’t get out of the stairwell soon, we’ll all be cooked alive. Suddenly, the sight of 2 Phalanx prowlers flying through the air over our heads and crashing into the wall gave me a shock.
Joanna Cargill : Look ! There’s a hole in the wall ! Javitz, make us an exit quickly !
Javitz : You got it !
Javitz grabbed another Phalanx prowler and began charging towards the hole in the wall while using the Phalanx as a shield. When he was almost at the wall, he leapt through the air and threw his weight against the wall until it crumbled down. All of us began running towards the large gaping whole in the wall, leapt through it and once again into the unknown.
It was a very steep drop once we leapt through the hole that Javitz created. All of us fell into a big pool of water or maybe it was a lake. It was too dark to see what we got ourselves into but the nice cooling water was a welcome surprise for us after being trapped in a burning stairwell. I looked up at where we fell through and it looked like we fell by 1 sublevel. The flames had crept all the way to the hole in the wall and several flaming Chrysalids could be seen just standing there not knowing whether to jump in after us or go back. Rusty held his fiery hands up near the wall where we are now and we could make out the words Sublevel-6. Looking around from where I was, I could see columns of concrete jutting out from the water as far as the eye can see. They had metal rods and wires sticking out from the top of them.
Dr James Roberts : Guys, look around you. This facility must have still been under construction when the X-Com personnel here abandoned it. Looks like they’ve stopped at sublevel 6.
Joanna Cargill : If this is sublevel 6, then everything including the labs are submerged under water.
Dr James Roberts : I doubt that. There were lots of aliens in the stairwell just now and the bottom of the stairwell looked dry. There’s several layers of concrete and metal between each sublevel. Most likely sublevels 8 and 9 are bone dry.
Captain Amelia Vought : Rusty, throw some fireballs at the far end of this chamber.
At her command, Rusty threw several fireballs towards the far end of the chamber. We still couldn’t see the wall at the other end of the chamber but a pair of fins sticking out from the water caught our attention. Captain Vought checked her sidearm and pulled the trigger several times only to be greeted by sounds of clicking.
Captain Amelia Vought : Great, just when things couldn’t get any worse. I’m out of ammunition and there’s something waiting for us on the other end.
Joanna Cargill : I still have a few rounds in my Luger. Judging by the size of those fins, that thing is huge. I don’t think our sidearms would have any effect on it.
Dr James Roberts : It doesn’t look like they’re moving and they look very stiff. If it was a creature, the fins would be moving, and drooping to one side.
Rusty : What do you think it is then ?
Dr James Roberts : It’s a sight for sore eyes. Come on, let’s get closer !
Joanna Cargill : What !? Captain ?
Captain Amelia Vought : Let’s follow the man, Cargill. Anywhere is better than here.
After swimming through the water for 5 to 10 minutes, our bodies brushed against something under the water. Reaching out with my hands, I tried feeling the object. It had a smooth rounded surface with metal trimmings. I grab a hold onto the metal trimmings and pull myself closer towards the fins until I could paddle no more. From that smooth rounded surface, I was now able to make contact with a cold, hard, metallic surface using my arms and legs. I found myself crawling through the water until I had reach the pair of fins. The metallic surface, rigid fins, and smooth rounded surface made me realize that I was now on top of an X-Com Skyranger. We were at the hangar area of this X-Com facility.
Dr James Roberts : Just as I suspected, it’s an X-Com Skyranger. It’s an aircraft that we use to transport X-Com troops in and out of the field.
Captain Amelia Vought : Good work Dr Roberts, perhaps there are some weapons and supplies that we can salvage from this Skyranger. Cargill and Javitz, assist Dr Roberts with the salvage operation.
Joanna Cargill : Yes Captain ! Lead the way Dr Roberts.
Cargill, Javitz and I crawled past the fins to the rear of the Skyranger, took a deep breath and dove into the water. I keep feeling my way around the rear end of the Skyranger looking for a particular button. Once my hand struck gold, I pressed hard on the button to bring down the Skyranger’s rear loading ramp. Powerful hydraulics on the rear tried their best to force the loading ramp open against the pressure of being submerged in such a large volume of water. Cargill and Javitz assisted by going under the Skyranger’s rear and lifting it high enough so that most of the rear end was free from water. Just enough for the loading ramp to open up completely. While Javitz was busy lifting, Cargill quickly surfaced and helped me climb on board the Skyranger. From there, I quickly grabbed all the weapons and supplies that were in their containers and threw them out of the Skyranger. Then I pressed the button again to close the loading ramp. Once that was done, Javitz came out from under the Skyranger and surfaced for air. We assembled our collection of weapon cases on top of the Skyranger and marveled at the bounty that we’ve gathered. We had an auto canon with armour piercing rounds, Blaster launcher with blaster bombs, and several rifles with plenty of ammunition to spare.
Captain Amelia Vought : I recognize the auto canon and rifles. Should be easy enough to use but I’ve never came across a blaster launcher before. Maybe you could enlighten us on that, Doctor Roberts ?
Dr James Roberts : Sure, the pleasure is all mine Captain. The Blaster launcher is similar to a rocket launcher but the difference is that you can program the flight path of the blaster bomb to hit any target you choose without leaving the safety of cover. Simply put, you can shoot in the opposite direction and the blaster bomb will still follow it’s programmed flight path to it’s original target. Allow me to demonstrate.
I unpack the Blaster launcher from it’s case, load in a round, program a zig zag flight path for the bomb and set the wall closest to the water just near where we fell as the destination. I then pull the trigger and let everyone awe in amazement as the bomb zig zag through the air and blow a huge hole in the wall roughly 9 meters in diameter. Water started draining through the hole in the wall and after 20 minutes, we could now see the cockpit, wings, and part of the Skyranger’s nose.
Captain Amelia Vought : Thanks for the demonstration Dr Roberts. Now let’s drain some more water and punch a hole through the floor 10 meters to the left of the Skyranger so that we wouldn’t have to take that damn stairwell again.
The water became quite shallow after loading in another round, and blowing another hole in the wall. It was ankle high this time. It took me a few rounds to blast through the floor on sublevel-7 which was hidden under water. Whatever remained of the water flowed through the hole in the floor and there before us was our shortcut down into sublevel-8. One by one we climbed down through the hole and into what felt like home to me.
It was so good to be back in familiar surroundings. We dropped through the hole into one of the many white washed corridor which were brightly lit. Save for the debris and water that littered the floor, the walls and ceiling of the corridor did not have a speck of dirt on them. The doors into various rooms had a silver-grey frame to distinguish it from the wall. On the wall at either far end of the corridor had the signage Sublevel-8. Other than that, the doors in this facility were unmarked. Most likely to make it harder for intruders to find what they’re looking for. Even though there were no signs of any aliens on this sublevel, we still made it a habit to search each and every room with caution. At every door, Rusty would stand in position to roast any hostile as soon as Cargill opened the door. After an hour or so checking out the rooms on the outer corridors, we shifted our search towards the rooms in the inner corridors of sublevel-8. There were rooms full of supplies, and a few medical stations. The fifth room we came across in the inner corridors was a sight for sore eyes. It was one of the living quarters for the X-Com personnel of this facility that had an abundant supply of fresh clean clothes and uniforms. Nothing is more uncomfortable than walking around in wet clothes and soggy shoes. We took turns getting out of current clothes and into X-Com’s basic coveralls.
If the aliens in this facility ever had a doubt about whether we were friend or foe, the X-Com uniforms that we were wearing would help them very much in their decision. A few doors down the corridor, we loaded up on medical supplies as well as a bag full of proximity grenades. This facility is a huge place and with just 5 of us in a group, it’s impossible to secure the area before moving on. Therefore, we start priming and placing proximity grenades at every junction before moving onto the next. That way, the proximity grenades would detonate if there were aliens sneaking up on us from behind. This tactic forces the aliens to come at us from the front.
Captain Amelia Vought : We’ve been searching every room for the past 2 hours Dr Roberts. Is there anything you hope to find other than clothes, and supplies ?
Dr James Roberts : Yes, I’m hoping we can find a working laboratory or even a command centre so that I can scan through X-Com and Sector-7’s archives for any possible solution to our Phalanx problem. So far there’s no lab on this floor. I’m guessing it’s all on sublevel-9. There should be an access lift at the core of this sublevel.
From the outer corridors to the core of sublevel-8, it had taken us around 3 hours to search every room. It was a mix feeling of delight and dismay during the long search. Delightful only because we could change into a set of fresh clothes and stock up on supplies while the dismay we felt was because there were no laboratory or archives on this sublevel. The feeling of dismay still lingered with us by the time we got onto the access lift at the core of sublevel-8. That feeling changed to a mixture of dread, suspense, and anxiety for all of us. Fortunately all of that changed when we arrived on sublevel-9. Nothing made me more happy than to see hundreds of computer terminals and screens spread throughout this sublevel and there were rows and rows of vertical tubes with alien specimens in them.
Occasionally we came across several different types of sarcophagus here and there. The sarcophaguses are new to me. We’ve never had any of them in our X-Com bases. Just from glancing at one of them, I could tell that they contain the most lethal and dangerous kinds of aliens as they had 9 sets of biometric locks on the surface panel of the sarcophagus. The label on the one I was looking at had the name Xenomorph while another sarcophagus nearby had the label Genestealer. No doubt these sarcophaguses can only be opened by the X-Com personnel who have long abandoned this facility.
Joanna Cargill : Looks like you’ve hit jackpot Dr Roberts… It’s Research R Us down here.
Dr James Roberts : Finally, after all that trouble I can start searching through research databases and archives for anything similar to the Phalanx.
Captain Amelia Vought : That won’t be necessary doctor. Look at this tube. It seems the X-Com personnel of this facility knew about the Phalanx before the rest of you guys.
I approach the vertical tube that Vought had pointed and looked up at a human looking figure with an amputated left forearm. There were yellow techno-organic material protruding from where the forearm had been amputated. The label at the base of the specimen tube read “Specimen-7208 : Phalanx, infiltrator class” . This definitely will make searching for a solution all the more easier for us. My only wonder was why didn’t the other X-Com facilities around the globe know of all these specimens. Most likely due to the secluded location of this particular facility, the X-Com personnel here did their own research & development in parallel to the other facilities. Maybe this was X-Com best kept secret, their way of surviving in case aliens infiltrated the other facilities the same way they infiltrate governments. I wasted no time in searching through X-Com’s databases for Specimen-7208. A few minutes into the search I managed to retrieved pages of research on the Phalanx. The last several pages interested me the most which were known solutions to the Phalanx.
Dr James Roberts : I think I’ve found our solution guys. Follow me.
Javitz : Do you think it can cure me of this Phalanx infection ?
Dr James Roberts : I hope so… Let’s see.. series 8000… series 9000… Here it is ! Specimen-9547 : Scraplets. According to the research database, these little critters are a possible solution to the Phalanx problem. They devour anything that’s mechanical in nature including cybernetic organisms. Hypothetically these creatures should strip the Phalanx of their cybernetic components leaving behind the organic portions.
This particular specimen tube was filled with hundreds of self-replicating organisms called the Scraplets. They looked like miniature versions of pac-man with razor sharp teeth more akin to piranhas. According to attached research materials from Sector-7, they were responsible for the decimation of an entire race of cybernetic beings called Cybertronians. Knowing that their end was near, the Cybertronians allowed Sector-7 to reverse-engineer their technology so that Earth has a fighting chance against the worst kinds of alien species out there. Suddenly, we heard the familiar cold inhuman voice of the Phalanx speak up from behind us just when victory was within our fingertips.
Captain Amelia Vought : Phalanx designate Amelia has located the threat and is now proceeding to neutralize known threat. Requesting additional units at present location to assist in destruction of Specimen-9547.
Dr James Roberts : I should have known better… all this time you claimed your powers weren’t working when in fact you don’t even have any mutant powers. What happened to the real Amelia Vought ?
Phalanx Vought : Amelia Vought’s life essence had been extinguished upon arrival on Cook Island by this unit while all those in your party had been unconscious. From that point in time, this unit’s mission is to locate and destroy any threat to the Phalanx hive-mind.
Rusty : Crap, you were riding with us the whole time since arriving on Cook Island just to find out what can kill you guys. What now ?
Phalanx Vought : Now, my Phalanx brethren will descend upon this facility, destroy Specimen-9547 and assimilate all living organisms trapped here.
Javitz : Screw this !
Javitz rushed at the Phalanx likeness of Vought and wrestled it to the ground. It was just enough distraction for me to load my Blaster launcher with a fresh round. By the time the bomb was loaded, the Phalanx had ripped Javitz to pieces and pounced onto Cargill with such immense speed and force that Cargill didn’t have time to put up her arms in defence. Rusty stood by my side and erected a barrier of flames to give us some protection like it would matter. The protective glass of the specimen tubes are few inches thick just like all standard X-Com specimen tubes. I held up my Blaster launcher and aimed it at the glass… I could hear Rusty’s blood curdled scream next to me as I tried frantically to pull the trigger with no success. In my panic I realized that I had accidentally left the safety switch on… By the time I had switched off the safety switch, I fell onto my knees in pain and I couldn’t feel anything with my fingers. The Blaster launcher fell to the ground still pointing at the specimen tube and I fell down beside the launcher staring helplessly at the trigger.
Everything around me moved in slow motion as I was living through the final minutes of my life. The last thing I saw before everything faded to darkness was the trigger of the Blaster launcher being pulled back as though by an invisible hand, and the clicking of the launcher’s firing mechanism as the blaster bomb left the muzzle of the launcher. In the split second before impact, a specimen label fell to the ground. It read “Specimen-2085: Yautja”.