Laure walked right into the evac at the end of a mission, carrying the body of a dead Xcom solider you had been unable to retrieve, and took the vacant seat. When asked what she was doing she simply replied "I'm sorry someone had to die for me, but this is where I'm meant to be." Her psi skills are off the charts, but she seems to prefer a gun in her hands.
*THIS IS LARGELY CHANGED NOW THAT LAURE'S AN ENGINEER ON THE AVENGER*
Happy-f***ing-birthday to me! Eighteen years old and not a bottle of anything even remotely alcoholic in sight.
ADVENT's searching the building. Some them walked into the traps I rigged, but I think it just made them angry and more determined to find me. It was just some EMP bombs and maybe a few small improvised shrapnel grenades that Aunt Anna would have a fit about if she knew I that I could make. Maybe the think there's others hiding with me - they're wrong, unfortunately. At least my bio-dampner is still working - just - or they'd be able to home in on my lifesigns or my heat-signature.
Anna is dead - she wasn't one of the ones who stayed to guard the building, but I just know it. So are the rest of the resistance that did stay - men, women, children... well, the lucky ones anyway. I did try to get to the room they had the kids under guard in, but I was in the basement, trying to get the building's defense net back up, when ADVENT breeched. They'd slaughtered all the kids before I could even get to the right floor. Children are useless to ADVENT after all, too young to undergo gene modding.
Anyone who survived, who wasn't too young or 'flawed' in some way, was taken away. In the end, it didn't matter how much I'd modded the stolen weapons the resistance had, or how much I'd ampped up the building's defenses, ADVENT's superior numbers and technology were going to win.
I can still hear gunshots and explosions in the distance, so I suppose the fighting is ongoing in other parts of the city, but since Eyes crashed, I'm not getting net updates anymore. And my tablet, earpiece, and mic may as well be pieces of costume jewellery for all the good they're doing me at the moment, since Eyes was running my interface tech.
I'm literally flying blind. Heh.
If ADVENT find me, they'll kill me... or maybe take me to a gene clinic to be 'fixed'.
I'd rather die.
I remember how they were when mother took me to them just as soon as the clinics were open - they told me that it would be so simple to 'fix' my eyes. It was just after my 12th birthday. Mother was killed by one of her tricks a few weeks after that, and Anna and her resistance cell found me after I'd been surviving by myself for over a month. Turns out the resistance is impressed when you build your own seeing-eye drone at 12 years old from some pre-Invasion directions in a book you stole because you liked the picture on the cover. And I've learn more than a few things in the last six years.
I don't need to be 'fixed'!
I pulled some circuitry from the building's auto-maintenance systems to get Eyes flying again - outdated, cobbled-together, piece-of-shite that he is - but he can only take basic voice commands, and his external communications systems and sensors are fried without some pretty specialised stuff that I just can't rig while climbing through air vents and with only a screw-driver and a pocket-knife. God, he was a piece of crap, but I feel like I've lost my best friend now that I can't hear his voice.
I'm also running low on rations. I'm going to have to get out of here soon.
I've also built two IEDs. Anna was careful that I didn't see her working on anything too extreme, but after they ordered her to let me work on the resistance's weapons, instead of just their benign salvaged tech, it was inevitable that I'd learn how to build something far more deadly. I mean, living with their explosives expert - what did she think was going to happen?
So, if I can get out of this deathtrap of a building, I'm going to blow it to hell. It'll be a fitting memorial for my friends, and for Anna.
I'd rather die on my feet, fighting, than be 'fixed' in a gene clinic.
Recording this while sitting on my new bunk on the Avenger. I’m not quite sure what to think about how today turned out….
I’m alive, so I suppose that counts for something. Not sure if it’s enough though.
It turns out that Anna did have a plan other than me hiding in the vents until ADVENT found me. She apparently used whatever power she had in the resistance and got me flagged as a VIP to be picked up by XCOM. They’re almost like gods to the resistance – they’ll lift you up out of this hell hole and take you somewhere where you can make a real difference, but only if you’re good enough, they only take the best of the best. Turns out our resistance leadership agreed with Anna and thought I qualified. They tell me the resistance started the riots so XCOM would have the distraction they needed to get me out. Oh, I don’t doubt that the resistance had other goals in mind too, but the amount of their soldiers who died today… was I worth it? I think Anna was trying to do what was best for me, but… god, I didn’t want this blood on my hands to get it.
I didn’t want her to die for it.
I’m going to lay out what happened in this log, and maybe the I can make it all mean something.
Turns out running the middle of the night from a building you’ve set to explode with improvised IEDs is the easy part.
I didn’t really consider how hard it would be to get around a rioting city without Eyes. I’ve always been one to push the boundaries of my limitation, but trying to run and hide from ADVENT with nothing but an improvised cane (read: piece of rebar I picked up from the wreckage) to help me from bashing into buildings or tripping over obstacles didn’t have that high a chance of a good outcome.
Eyes shorted out again – just dropped from the air like a stone. I didn’t have time to fix him again or to be slowed down by carrying him, so I just yanked his drive and left him there. I suppose you could say he’s still alive, but it just feels like there was one more casualty today for me. But it took one minute too many.
ADVENT caught me.
I’d always wanted to check out one of those stun lances they use up close. Guess today was my lucky day.
I woke up in a cell. I could hear the rioting still going on outside, but much closer now and much fiercer. Could we be in the Municipal Precinct, where Anna said the rioting started? I had no idea how long it had been since I was knocked out. There were no windows, so I couldn’t even see the sun. I guess ADVENT was too busy to start ‘fixing’ me right away.
It couldn’t have been more than an hour later that I heard boots on the roof. The ADVENT troops outside suddenly went from relaxed – well, as relaxed as those gene-modded bitches can get – to alert. Gunfire suddenly exploded above me.
I was lucky I heard the warning beeping of the grenade and threw myself under the bunk. One minute the roof was there, the next it was gone, thanks to Gregory ‘Stonejaw’ Grigorjew – grenadier extraordinaire.
XCOM had arrived.
Blowing out the roof might have been useful for them killing ADVENT soldiers, but it was useless to me – even someone who’s not blind can’t climb up the walls without a rope. And the door was still locked. Someone was going to have to come down to get me while ADVENT dropped reinforcements on the rooves all around us.
Cowering in a cell is not the way I hoped to go out, but ADVENT had left me with nothing except the clothes on my back and Eyes hard drive concealed in the secret pocket in my coat. In other words, I was helpless.
A nice XCOM solider, Devin Cwalina, dropped down through the roof. He confirmed that I was Laurelin Kallasai, then told me they were working to get me out. He tried the lock, but soon realised they were going to have to get a tech down to override it.
Oh how I wished for my tools.
While we waited for the tech, Cwalina asked me why they call me ‘Seer’, when it says in my dossier that I’m blind. I told him that some asshole started it because he thought it was funny, but it caught on because I told him that I have Eyes to see.
Marcella Kolpi – ‘Hellsing’ – was their tech for the mission. She has an awesome drone, and bypassed the lock in moments.
Cwalina and Hellsing told me the building was empty and that I needed to hide while their squad dealt with the reinforcements up top. I was clutching what was left of Eyes in my hand. Marcella recognised a drone drive immediately.
“That important to you?” she asked. “We’ve got some people who can get him up and running again.” She looked me over. “But, from your dossier, I bet you can do it yourself with the right tech. I’ll help you find something when we get back – call it a late birthday present.”
She squeezed my shoulder comfortingly before she had to climb back out onto the roof. She said they’d read your dossier, but you can’t believe she remembered your birthday was just yesterday.
We had to hold out for evac, because XCOM’s bird was in danger while the riots were still going on, and had to look for an opening.
The next thing I heard was familiar voices shouting over the rooftop, asking XCOM if they’d got me.
Check Out, Cherribomb, Spectre and Miss had shown up. They weren’t from Anna’s resistance cell, but I’d done enough work for cells all over the city to have a pretty good idea of who was who. They said they were some of the last resistance fighters remaining alive in the city, and they’d come to try to rescue me because XCOM was taking their own sweet time getting here.
One minute Cherribomb was calling “we were just coming to bust your fine arse out, princess!” to me, the next she was blown away by ADVENT bullets.
I think I screamed.
I climbed out onto the roof then. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do, but I was done hiding. I never thought I’d be so glad to be outside again, but I’d never been so close to an all-out firefight in my life.
ADVENT just kept dropping reinforcements all around us. I guess they really wanted XCOM dead. I was also fairly sure they wanted to capture the resistance soldiers and hold the customary public executions – no one defies ADVENT. I’d be lucky to be executed, after all of this, they were going to want to know why I was so important that both the resistance and XCOM would risk their lives to retrieve me.
I wouldn’t have minding knowing myself.
There was one XCOM soldier left on the roof, she introduced herself as Angelique Durand, “call me ‘Bonsoir’” during a few moments downtime. She asked me to go back down inside where it was safe, but I refused and said I’d spent enough time inside. She seemed to respect that and just told me to keep my head down.
I spent a long time on that roof, in cover, listening to the fight continue. If I was very quiet and held my breath, I could hear updates over Bonsoir’s earpiece, and occasionally, when she had time, she’d tell me what was going on.
I’ve mentioned all of their squad bar one now. Dio ‘Loony’ Karada gave me the creeps, and he still does. There’s something not right about the way he relishes killing ADVENT so much. I know it’s XCOM’s job, but he seems to enjoy it a little too much.
What seemed like an instant, and a lifetime, later, Bonsoir was telling me to get ready to run. Their evac bird had found and opening and was standing by. The field was clear for the moment, but they were expecting more ADVENT reinforcements. I was going to be first off the ground.
Hellsing called for the evac and Bonsoir grabbed my arm hard enough to hurt, and just told me to keep up, because we were going to jump down off the roof and then scramble for it. She pretty much ended up dragging me I think.
Kolpi rested a brief hand on my arm as she called for the Avenger to send down a rope to lift me out with a jaunty “see you soon, Seer.” Hellsing helped me wrap the rope around myself, and then I was being hauled up and up into the bay of the XCOM troop carrier. The pilot told me to sit down and buckle the hell up while we waiting for the others, because they were going to empty their clips before being evac’d.
It made sense, do as much damage as you can before you leave.
Marcella took it a little too literally. She just wanted to get in that one last shot, be the last one out. She stayed just a little too long, and now she’s not coming back.
I cried for the fried I’d barely made on the way back to the Avenger. Miss, Spectre, and Check Out tried to comfort me, but they’d lost everything that day too.
I could hear XCOM’s fabled Commander Odd over the comms, berating himself for letting Marcella stay just that little too long.
It’s good to know he cares about his people.
I went to the memorial shrine they’ve set up in the bar and lit a candle for Kolpi. I’ll never forget her.
Chief Shen has set me to clearing out a compartment of ruined alien machinery. She told me I could have anything I found there to help me fix Eyes so I can work on the more interesting stuff.
They’re deathly low on techs in the Avenger, so I’m never going to be short of work, and I’ll be helping to save humanity.
But I have to asked myself – was I really worth it?
NB To read about what happens before the next log entry (ie Alice's introduction to the story from her point of view), please see the replies to this log entry on this Youtube video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRF59mo3gH0
I had a visitor just before bed last night. I had just finished tinkering with Eyes, after Chief Shen helped me install him in a brand-‘spanking’-new body, and had turned him off in preparation for sleep when someone spoke to me.
I was dead tired and didn’t have the will to turn him back on, so the first introduction I had to Alice ‘Ravage’ McKinsley was just her voice. I doubt she timed it like that, but it was probably a good thing. Seeing someone in ADVENT armor turn up at my door – well, let’s just say I might’ve followed my instincts and asked questions later. A plasma pen-welder can do a lot of damage if you know how to use one.
Alice is an odd one, but I like her. She reminds me of Anna in a way, I think it’s mostly the sense of humour. She’s a former ADVENT lab-rat – they were trying to do something with Elder DNA? I’m not quite sure if I understand it, but she’s pissed as hell at them.
She really came to tell me that Marcella’s death wasn’t my fault. It’s true that it’s not my fault that Marcella stayed too long for one last shot, but it is my fault that she was there at all, even if it was because of events beyond my control. I hardly wish I was dead, but if I didn’t exist, Marcella might not be dead. And a lot of other people along with her, including Anna.
I’m still not convinced I was a good trade for them.
Alice was oddly formal, calling me ‘Miss Kallasai’, but when I asked her not to – she made me sound like my mother, who’s someone I’d rather forget – she called me ‘Lady Laurelin’. It made me laugh for a moment, until the tears came.
Anna ‘Lady’ Dae was the woman who found me after my mother was killed by one of her johns. She pulled me off the streets and gave me a purpose in the resistance. And now she’s dead. Just like a whole lot of other people. I’m going to make a list and put it on the Avenger’s memorial wall of all the people whose names I know that died yesterday. Anna will be at the top.
Maybe it’ll help me find some closure.
Alice must’ve thought I’d gone mad, sobbing my little heart out at her attempt at humour.
“Please, not Lady,” I finally managed to tell her, “that was someone else, someone I loved like a mother, another someone who died today. The resistance called me ‘Seer’ – don’t ask why, it’s a funny story but I don’t want to tell it now – or, if you prefer, you can just call me Laure.”
Alice just nodded, but there was a softening in her face that seemed to say she understood.
I think I might’ve made a friend.
Personal Log: Laurelin Kallasai, June 2 2035 I think I could get addicted to the hum of engines as I sleep. I sometimes used to leave Eyes on overnight just to have some noise to help me sleep.
This is better.
We had a field-op early this morning. I don’t personally know any of the soldiers who were sent down, I’ve been locked up in that compartment, clearing out alien junk, since I got here, so I’ve yet to meet a good portion of the people on board the Avenger. But I can cheer for interrupting some ADVENT VIP on a bullshit PR tour. They brought him back to interrogate him, but not without some serious scrapes, and I’d just love to get in there and get a piece of that ADVENT bastard too.
But it turns out there’s a line. Probably a good thing… for ADVENT.
Shen says when the area’s clear, then I might get to help build something worthwhile in the compartment, but either way she promised my next assignment should be more challenging. One of the other techs told me it’s something they all have to do when they’re first recruited, newest usually gets the grunt work. That seems to have panned out, as the newest recruit to XCOM, another engineer, was tagged to be my compartment-clearing buddy. Instead of taking me well over two months to clear this compartment all by myself, Boyd and I will be able to have it done in just over a month.
Saving the world has never been so glamorous.
I live for the time I spend in my bunk at the end of the day, tinkering with Eyes. Alice drops by sometimes, and I offered to mod her ADVENT armor to stop it from trying to send signals to her non-functional neural-chip and augment her untrained psi abilities. She should stop getting headaches every time she wears it now. God knows the resistance salvaged a crap-load of ADVENT armor in their time, so I know my way around it even with Eyes turned off.
Dr Tygan is still going on about possibilities for fixing my sight.
Chief Shen keeps telling him to lay off. She said if I can do what I’ve done already, then I don’t need his solution if I don't want it.
Of course, it doesn’t help that one of the new recruits, Matt Ross, is interested in getting ocular implants. As I understand it, he lost his eyes to ADVENT in some rather brutal way. I suppose if I had once been able to see with my own eyes, I might want them back too.
Despite the Chief's attempt at running interference between us, I got into an argument with Tygan when he kept saying that if he builds one set of implants for Ross, then it would be simple to build an extra set for me. I told him I didn’t need to be f***ing fixed and to keep his filthy, blood-stained ADVENT hands off me.
Needless to say, I haven’t made any new friends in Dr Tygan or Mr Ross.
I’m writing this in my extended afternoon break. We’re on odd hours today because there’s another field-op going out this evening and we’re all going to be up well into the night until they return. Apparently it's been a busy few weeks aboard the Avenger - they don't usually go out this much.
Alice is going with them. I don’t know what I’ll do if she doesn’t come back.
She says it’s just a routine supply raid. God, I hope she’s right.
Personal Log: Laurelin Kallasai, June 2, Supplemental
So, umm… Alice is going to kill me when she gets back, if she’s not too exhausted and just collapses into her bunk as soon as she’s able – a perfectly legitimate response to field-work, if I’m any judge.
This will be for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve gotten myself confined to quarters when I’m off duty (and she did kind of ask me to stay out of trouble); although she will be happy to know that it had nothing to do with Recruit Ross or Dr Frankenfucker (btw, have now changed his official XCOM record to reflect this as his call-sign – I think Shen knows, but isn’t blaming me because it’s funny as hell). The reason is because I hacked the Avenger’s communications systems so I could listen in on the live feed from the drop-team while they’re deployed… well, mostly just Alice’s feed, actually. I thought I was discreet, but it turns out that Chief Shen is a little paranoid when it comes to having this pile of junk’s systems compromised (honestly, it’s not as though I left a loop-hole for ADVENT to exploit). So, yeah, that’d be why I won’t be joining Alice for a drink at the bar in the foreseeable future (not that we did that anyway, neither one of us is comfortable in crowds). I was supposed to be confined indefinitely (read: until Shen thinks I’ve learned a lesson – which lesson that might be exactly is still somewhat unclear, possibly to be even more circumspect next time?), but then the other reason Alice is going to kill me happened.
So, Alice came to see me just before she left to reassure me that she would be fine and that she was going to kick some ADVENT ass and then come home, if not unscathed, then at least in one piece. She also cemented in my mind that Frankenfucker is even more of a douche than I thought he was already. In response to his douche-ness, Alice apparently scared the shit out of him by hauling him up by his throat and telling him to keep his hands to himself. And in response to hearing of that feat, I blurted out ‘marry me!’ to Alice in the heat of the moment. She went an adorable shade of red and started stammering – I’ve never seen her lose so much of her composure, it was cute as hell.
The issue comes with the fact that Check Out happened to be walking past at exactly that time (there is fuck all privacy here, even less than when I was living off the grid with the resistance) and heard me. So now the entire Avenger is buzzing with the (entirely fictitious) news that Alice and I have been in a whirlwind romance since I came aboard, and that I fell so hard and fast for her that I’ve asked her to marry me. And, of course, now everyone is waiting on tenterhooks to find out what her response will be when she gets back from the mission.
Alice is going to be mortified, she’s such a private person and I have no idea what her opinion is on being in a relationship with another woman, but one thing I do know is that since we haven’t been dating (secretly, whirlwind-like, or otherwise) she hardly wants to marry me.
This rumour may… may have been helped along by the fact that Boyd saw my tablet’s wallpaper is now that lovely shot Eyes took of Alice. Not the one where she’s as red as her armor, but one from a few moments later where her blush had faded from red to a pale rose and she’s wearing a sort of bashful expression.
…God, is this what it’s like to have a crush? I thought I had a crush on Check Out when I first met him in the resistance, I mean he looks like a movie hero, but it wasn’t like this. (Also he's now running for second place in the Laurelin Kallasai douche-i-ness list, right behind Dr Frankenfucker, for putting me in this situation).
Anyway, Shen apparently heard the rumour and came and sort of grudgingly apologised to me, saying that she hadn’t known Alice and I were an item (she looked particularly put out about that, because she always seems to know everything about anything going down on this bird). LILLY, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, FUCK OFF OUT OF MY PERSONAL LOGS; ALSO I’M TELLING CENTRAL THAT YOU’RE HACKING INTO PEOPLE’S PERSONAL LOGS THE NEXT TIME YOU FIND ME DOING SOMETHING YOU DON’T LIKE.
And that she’d drop my punishment down to one month if I showed her how I’d hacked the system so she can patch the loophole (which I already did after I exploited it – not a moron, thank you very much). She also said I could keep the tap on Alice's comms if Alice was okay with it.
Yeah, I’m 99% sure Alice will NOT be okay with it, especially since she doesn’t know.
When this month is up, Check Out is going to hear about how much shit he dropped me in so hard that it’ll make the ‘Viper-eyeballs exploding out of the lockbox’ (sans acid of course, I’m not a complete wanker) prank I sent to Frankenfucker look like candy hearts and flower (eww, thinking about sending romantic gifts to Frankenfucker makes me want to puke).
So all of this happened while the drop-squad was traveling to, deployed, and then traveling back from their mission, so Alice hasn’t heard about any of it yet, because we’re not allowed to communicate with soldiers on Firebrand – they have mandatory radio silence for them to unwind some while they’re commuting.
Shen didn’t catch me (or, rather, didn't confront me about) listening in on the mission comms until after the mission was over, so I got to hear the action live while the squad was in the field.
Alice is a fucking beast! A beast on fire! A beast on fire with the sexiest fucking voice I’ve ever heard (and it’s not just that Russian accent either, although that’s a big part of it)! I’d never seen (or heard) her in action before, and I have to say it’s kinda hot.
She started off scouting, as she usually does if the squad hasn’t gone in ‘hot’. I wasn’t too keen on her straying far from the group to try to find other pods on her own, but I guess staying concealed at least keeps her out of the direct fighting for a while. It was so much worse when the Commander moved her in, ready to engage in direct combat.
Also, Alice is a fucking sexy beast on fucking fire with the sexiest fucking voice I’ve ever heard who dashes half-way across the fucking battlefield to use a fucking sword! How awesome is that? Okay, so my heart was in my mouth the whole time she was pulling off that crazy stunt, but jeezus!
She didn’t even get shot at once the entire mission. I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe her when she said she’d be fine, but now …well, actually, I’ll still never believe it until she comes back in once piece, but now I know there’s quite a good chance of that happening.
Yeah, so after re-listening to what I've already recorded, I definitely have a crush on Alice… no hiding it. Also not a clue what to do about it, I've never been in a romantic relationship before, let alone tried to start one with someone who I have no idea how they feel about the subject in general, or about me personally.
I shouldn’t really be gushing like this either. Someone died today. Just a split second and they’re gone. I heard it over Alice’s comm – just a soft little gasping sob of surprise from her in the instant of Snow’s death.
But it isn’t like the other deaths, the ones I have to resign myself to knowing I had some responsibility in, whether Alice wants me to dwell on that fact or not. I’m sorry Snow is dead, I really am, from the little I’ve heard she was a good woman. But she didn’t die in vain, the mission was completed and those supplies will allow us to go on and keep fighting – I hope that would’ve made her happy. I hope this doesn’t make me sound too shallow, I’m just glad beyond words that it wasn’t Alice.
Vale Zoe Snow. Your sacrifice will be remembered.
Alice seems fairly pragmatic about people dying for the cause, other than Penny, of course. But I don’t know how she’ll take Snow’s death. I imagine it’s hard losing someone who’s on your squad, but I don’t know how close they were.
No one’s really going to have any time to mourn though, because we’re on high alert. The AVATAR project (something that seems to have developed almost directly from the experiments that ADVENT was running on Alice) is almost complete and we have to stop it before it’s complete. No one’s really sure what it is, but we do know what one thing:
I haven’t heard from Alice since before her last mission. It’s been about a week since she was back on board. My confinement to quarters doesn’t mean I can’t have visitors, so I think she’s avoiding me.
She doesn’t know how I feel about her, I never had a chance to tell her, if I even would have this quickly, but Check Out’s rumour won’t seem to die. According to the ship’s grapevine, Alice and I are having a lovers’ quarrel because I’m pushing her for too much too soon. It’s almost close enough to what I think the truth is to make me cry.
I knew having her personal life splashed around this rust bucket for the entertainment of the crew would be hellish for her (even if it is entirely fictitious), but I didn’t realise it would mean she would just disappear out of my life like she was never there to begin with. Although, in retrospect, it may have more to do with my tapping her comms than Check Out’s stupid rumour.
Shen found out that I didn’t have Alice’s permission to listen in, and has re-instated my indefinite confinement to my quarters when not on duty. She says she’ll let me out again when Alice forgives me. Since I’m having exactly zero contact with Alice at the moment, that might be after we defeat the Aliens… or die trying.
So my life is now in purgatory, split between my bunk and that godforsaken room of alien trash. Boyd isn’t talking to me either, except what’s absolutely necessary – the expression on my face when he tries must be frightful. On the slightly more positive side, I think we’re almost through, maybe just a week or so to go.
It won’t make much difference, though, when I’m reassigned, because I can’t go looking for Alice, even if I knew what I would say to her. If I’m found wandering the corridors without the express intention of either going to my job or back to my bunk, Shen says she’ll have my computer access revoked, and she’ll send me down to the bows of this bird to clear out junk until the end of time.
I know I could use the tap I have on Alice’s comms to listen in on her mic – if she’s wearing it on the Avenger – but I won’t. And I won’t hack her personal files either. Listening in on drop-missions to make sure she’s okay is one thing, invading her personal life is another entirely.
Even Check Out and his band of Merry Ex-Resistance aren’t talking to me, which might be a good thing, since I have the overwhelming urge to stuff his head and send it to Alice as an apology.
Eyes is the only person I’m really talking to these days.
Lilly sent me some of the latest tech they’ve just installed on the recruit’s GREMLINS so that I can tinker with Eyes some more. She may be starting to feel a little sorry for me. Not sorry enough, mind you, to give me Felix’s choice new job in our brand-new Proving Ground. Maybe that’s a punishment in itself.
Bonsoir and Miss were on the last mission. As promised, I stayed off their comms, so I have no idea how it went. I understand they were under siege and a lot of people died down there. None of our recruits though, although I hear most of them, including Bonsoir, are badly wounded. I’d go and see her, maybe take her something nice, but of course I can’t.
Everyone’s still running around her like headless chickens. The “Doom Tracker” is still counting down the number of days we have until AVATAR is complete.
This means longer hours on-shift for everyone. For me, it means more digging through alien garbage.
Alice isn’t up for the next mission. I don’t care anymore if it makes me a bad person, it’s the only thing I have to be happy about at the moment.
Alice kissed me. Well, actually, I kissed Alice. Quite a lot.
Neither of us had ever kissed anyone before, romantically that is, so it was kind of a mess, but it was the best mess I have ever gotten into.
If it wasn’t for the fact that making out on my bunk is kind of like making out on a bench in the middle of Grand Central Station, there probably would’ve been quite a lot more kissing too.
But the engineers’ quarters are, firstly, communal, and, secondly, shared between both the scientists and the engineers. Fortunately, Lilly and Dr Frankenfucker both have their own personal quarters, even if they are only the size of a storage closet, but at least they’re not down here. Alice tells me the recruits’ quarters are much the same, although they’re divided by sexes, while we’re just all tossed in together.
I have a bunk, which is more like an alcove in the wall than any sort of bunk-bed I’d ever seen, and it has a privacy shield that you put up when you sleep. It is sound-proof, in a sense, which is a gift when it comes to blocking out snoring, but is probably not as discreet as you’d like for other activities. Not to mention that there’s another identical bunk both above and below mine.
It’s my habit to return to my quarters straight after my shift (well, at the moment that’s compulsory on my part), when everyone else is usually out in the common areas socialising. This usually means the bunk-room is empty then. It gives me a chance to voice-record my logs in peace; not many of us voice-record because of the lack of privacy, but while I can use a tablet to write with Eyes’ help, it’s easier just to record them verbally and let the computer render my official logs into text for me.
Alice surprised me just as I was finishing up my personal log yesterday. I hadn’t really expected to hear from her again. She explained she had been avoiding me for what she thought was my own good. She didn’t care that I’d tapped her comm, and was as overwhelmed by the situation Check Out’s stupid rumour had put us in as I was.
And then she suggested we ‘give it a shot’. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I’d misheard her for a moment. But she meant it.
I made some terrible robot joke, and she laughed for me. I don’t ever think I’ve heard Alice laugh before, but it’s wonderful. She’s no mechanical-girl, whatever ADVENT did to her, there’s a flesh and blood woman under it all, and I’m falling for her, hard.
So we kissed. And then we ended up on my bunk kissing some more. I honestly don’t know how long it was until we heard people in the corridor outside.
When Boyd came in – of course it had to be fucking Boyd, by garbage-clearing buddy – Alice and I were sitting on the edge of my bunk, quite composedly, and in no sort of compromising position.
He stopped, startled. “Sargent McKinsely,” he choked out.
Alice bowed her head a little. “Good evening, Engineer Boyd,” she replied coolly. She stood gracefully, turning to me. “Goodnight Laure, I will see you tomorrow.”
Then she leaned in and pecked me on the lips, before turning and striding away.
Yeah, there might be something in those rumours after all.
Personal Log Laurelin Kallasai, June 23
After Alice spoke to her, Shen once again reduced my confinement to quarters. It’s only to last until the end of the month. Since I can’t spend any time anywhere else on this dishwasher at the moment, Alice comes around every evening, while most of the others are out, to spend time with me. Sometimes we work on her weapons or armour, sometimes I work on Eyes while she does her paperwork (it’s the end of the world, and we still have to file reports); other times we lie together on my bunk and read.
Or sometimes we just cuddle. There’s nowhere near enough privacy anywhere on this tub to trying anything more intensive then making out, and both of us are comfortable with that for the moment. I’d like to think what’s between us means more than just a quick tumble with whatever privacy we can snatch for a few moments.
Besides, neither of us would have a clue what we were doing, really.
I don’t know what Alice said… or did, to Check Out, but he’s been very diligently trying to retract the rumour that Alice and I are engaged, and been rather a champion of the cause that we be left to ourselves in regards to the rumour mill. He also made a lovely apology to me, in person even. I almost wish I could’ve watched, it would’ve been funny as hell to see Alice have at him – she’s the intimidating type, before you get to know her.
I kind of feel bad about rigging his tablet to stream kinky gay porn loudly to every nearby console every time he turns it on. …Kind of.
Alice says she wants to help me brush up on my sparring skills when I can go to the training rooms again at the end of the month. She thinks it’s important that I can protect myself. I learnt to scrap in the resistance, but getting out of a dust-up over the last bar of soap, and fighting again ADVENT are two very different things. She also promised me that when I’ve shown that I know what I’m doing, she might train me a little with that sword of hers.
She also wants me to learn how to fire XCOM’s guns – all of them that we can get our hands on. She says that if we engineers are going to be tinkering with their equipment, we should at least know what it feels like to use it.
I tend to agree. After lugging around that resistance shot-gun back on the ground, I’d had some ideas for stabilising the weight of them in the field.
Lilly’s more interested in the things I’m doing with the GREMLINS and their interfacing in to the field-techs, making them more intelligent (if that’s the right word), more able to follow complex orders from their operators, and more useful in tactical situations, mostly knowing when to dodge in the field, and knowing how not to give their operators away if ADVENT doesn’t already know where they are.
Boyd and I are still cleaning out that compartment of alien junk, we’re down to less than a week now, assuming nothing else interferes. You couldn’t credit how much work we need to do on these rooms to make them viable for the systems we need to install on the Avenger.
Despite how relaxed I’ve made it seem, everyone here is on edge. We have about four days before AVATAR is complete. The Commander is running our time down to the wire for us to gain the best possible advantage. Then we’re going to hit the Black Site we discovered with everything we’ve got.
I was afraid Alice was going to be slated for the Black Site mission, but an opportunity came up just before we were to set course, a chance for a raid on an ADVENT supply convoy. We’re running dangerously low on supplies, so the Commander obviously decided we couldn’t pass up this mission, no matter how close we’re running to the line.
Alice, Gregoriev, Cwalina, and Miss are up for next mission. This is the first time so many of my friends are going to be out there, and, of course, the one I care about above the others. It’s likely none of them will be up for the Black Site mission, because they’ll all need time to recover after being in the field, so that’s something to be relieved about, but they’re not all going to come back fine from this raid.
Alive, maybe, but not unscathed.
Alice tries to reassure me, but the only thing that makes me feel better is working on her weapons and armour, trying to get just that little bit more out of them, so she comes back safe. I haven’t been sleeping since the Commander put the mission roster up, just working on plans for Alice’s armour late into the night.
Lilly said to give anything I come up with directly to her, and if it’s safe, she’ll make sure it gets implemented before they go into the field.
I’ve done everything I can, but it’s never going to feel like enough when Alice is out there. I’ll be listening in, this time with permission, but there’ll be nothing I can do when she’s on the ground, and I’m stuck up here in this flying pumpkin.
“Laure, your concern is both understandable and deeply appreciated, but please be reasonable.” Alice’s words fell on deaf ears, as Laurelin continued pouring over every nook and cranny of the schematics for Alice’s arms and armor, tracing her finger down everywhere and running able fingers down the lines of every plate, seam and separation. “Does the weapon feel alright in your hands?” “Yes, the weight is optimal and the handling is superb, now-” “Does the armor grind or lock up when you last tried it?” “The joints are fluid and my range of motion is unhindered-” “Are-”
Strong, steady hands clasped Laurelin’s shoulders, locking her in place as Alice brought them face to face. "Laure, please calm yourself. Whatever potential "tweak" you might still miraculously manage to squeeze out of my equipment would be in decimals so infinitesmally small not even ADVENT's most powerfull electron microscope would be able to detect it. Additionally, despite her interest at the first few additions, I believe Chief Shen is growing quite exasperated that you keep sending her an updated plan for my gear with increasingly pitiful performance differences. I believe her words were: "I can understand that every little bit helps, but there's a damn difference between 1.3 % and 0.00001%!"
Laurelin had the decency to look abashed at just how far she'd let her bout of mania take her. "Yeah well, 0.00001 extra bit is something I'm willing to push for when it comes to you. And no offence to Lily, but it isn't her girlfriend that's constantly jumping feet-first into hell."
"And were our positions reversed, I have similarly minuscule doubts I would be feeling exactly as you are, Dearest." Alice assured with her usual calm smile that seemed almost reserved for Laurelin these days.
Now it was Laurelin's turn to be the blushing one, which only increased when the word ticked in her brain. "...Dearest?"
Alice lightly tilted her head in that way that Laurelin always found both amusing and endearing. Although, the fact that her smile was still in place gave Laurelin the sneaking suspicion that her belle was actually... "Terms of affection are par for the course in relationships, no? I felt it appropriate." Yep, no longer any doubt, her belle was teasing her! Well, she learns quick. Laurelin giggled, beaming inwardly, until an abrupt thought sobered her right quick.
"She learns quick." Had been word-for-word what Anna had once said to describe her. Back in the days where the "Lady" of her cell taught her everything she'd need to know to survive in this harsh, biting world. Back in the days were things were hard, but the woman had helped her become harder still, always shouldering her, even if it came in the form of shoving, both literal and figurative.
She really had been like a mother to her.
The tears sprung forth before Laurelin could even think to stop them.
Stunned at the abrupt shift, Alice nonetheless hugged her closer, unknowing of what was fully wrong, but doing her damned best to be comforting, rubbing Laurelin's back in gentle circles and holding her tight. Such endeavors were made mercifully easier from the fact that, at the current moment, Alice was out of her armor as Shen worked to implement Laurelin's string of last minute enhancements. The warmth of Alice's skin and the fleshy density of her musculature felt so cozy to Laurelin, almost heavenly as she gorged herself on the sensation of just holding her close like this. Spurred by such a feeling of security, she confessed the root cause of her spontaneaous bout of distress. "I just...I've lost so many of the people who've mattered in my life. My birth mom. My friends in my old Resistance Cell. An...Anna." She hiccuped, burying herslef deeper in Alice's welcoming arms. "Even Marcella, for however little I got to know her. I just can't stomach the chance, the thought, the nightmare of losing anyone else. I can't. I can't!" She ground out hoarsely, practically smothering herself in Alice's embrace. "Not again...please never again..."
For a while, maybe minutes or hours but they cared not, they both stood there, Alice wrapped around Laurelin, holding her and comforting her as best as she possibly could.
"Laurelin. Look at me." Afore them, Eyes beeped and blinked, his programming uncomprehending at the redundant request, a confusion shared by his owner. "No, not through Eyes. Look at me." Finally understanding, Laurelin nonetheless didn't budge just yet. Alice began to gently coax her, rubbing her arms while tugging upward with feather lightness at her shoulders. "Please, Dearest. Look at me." Finally, Laurelin inched her face out of Alice's chest and toward her face, until they could both clearly feel their breath on each others faces, their noses practically touching, Laurelin knew that, just beyond the veil of her unseeing eyes, Alice's were gazing into them with more intensity than even Eyes' sharpest sensors could ever hope to capture.
"There you are." Laurelin could hear the soft smile in Alice's voice, that voice never more beautiful to her than now, as the ravennete gently began brushing away the tears with her hand, uncaring of any mess. Laurelin shivered at the touch, burying her cheek in Alice's palm.
"No matter how much I ache to put your mind at ease, Dearest, I have never and will never be one to make promises I cannot unequivocally keep. I promised you I would return the last time, and so I did, in no small part thanks to your own efforts in fixing my armor. I will never forget that. But we always knew things were going to get harder moving forward. I may return from this task once more completely untouched. I may even receive not even a single injury more from now until the final conclusion of this thrice-damned conflict. Or I may perish less than a few hours from now. Or over the course of the countless future engagements that I will need, and want, to partake in to actually bring about said end." Alice took the time to squeeze Laurelin a little tighter at the wimper this drew from her. "And so, once again, I cannot make any promise as to what might happen from here on out. No more than any other man, woman or child on the face of this planet. But there are two things I can and will promise you." Alice cupped Laurelin's face in both her hands, once more bringing them so close together their noses brushed. "I promise you that the time I have spent with you has been the most worthwhile, the sweetest that I can recall in all my memory. And I promise that I have each and every intention to fight like Hell to come back, so that I may partake in it for just a while longer, for as long as I can. This time, and all times to come."
A beat as the power and soul of Alice's words sunk into Laurelin's heart, during which the ravennette leaned forward to capture her lips in a gentle kiss. Then the silver-haired lass leapt up, cinching her arms and legs around Alice's shoulders and waist as Alice's own arms easily slid under Laurelin's thighs to support her, pressing up against the wall behind them as the kiss swelled with a burning passion.
What seemed like an eternity passed in the blink of an eye, and they separated, flushed and panting, mere moments before the ship-wide intercom came to life. "All designated operatives please report to the Armory to commence mission preparation."
Laurelin tighened almost reflexively around Alice, but her belle could only give her a small smile barely tinged by sadness. "I have to go." Nodding as the tears threatened to return with a vengeance, Laurelin slowly, reluctantly untangled herself and lowered her feet to the floor. But she still didn't let go just yet, drawing Alice in almost desperately for one last but what she hoped, prayed, would never be a final, hug. "...Remember your promise." Was all she could think to say, her voice hoarse with emotion and barely a whisper. Alice nodded resolutely, and leaned in for one last peck. "Always." And with that, they finally separated, their hands the last thing to let go, as Alice turned around the quarter's door with one last lingering look, and then she was gone.
Laurelin stayed there, as if transfixed, before she sat back on her bunk, silent of the maelstrom storming inside her. Then she picked up her datapad and waved Eyes closer. She debated whether or not she actually wanted to do this, but quashed the hesitance soundly. If she couldn't be by Alice's side, the least she could do was watch over her, even in the smallest way she could. Please. Come back safe.
The mission was a cluster-fuck almost from the very beginning. The Commander has never had very good luck with supply raid missions, and this one proved no exception.
I listened to the mission through my ear-piece as Boyd and I got to work on our room of alien trash. I have to say I was hardly getting anything done, but we were almost finished, and he was being a good sport about it.
“Just get your bot to project it on the wall,” he said, “I wouldn’t mind seeing what’s going on either.”
So I asked Eyes to project Alice’s armour-cam onto the wall.
She started out scouting, as she usually does. But it all went to hell almost immediately as more and more aliens started appearing out of the woods. Oxton took a heavy hit straight out of the gate, and she waived slightly, but managed to stay on her feet.
I could hear the skittering sound of chryssalids over Alice’s mic, it made my skin crawl. I don’t like spiders at the best of times, chryssalids are a thousand times worse, and juding from the sound, they were very, very close.
Oxton fired a grenade at the ones in front of Alice, the explosion was deafeningly loud, then the second explosion from Grigoriev’s grenade flattened the chryssalids. If it hurt my ears, Alice’s must be ringing. It also blew her cover, so she was now standing out in the open.
So what did my girl do? Fired rockets.
Miss took a hit next, her pained grunt clear in Alice’s mic. Alice fell back to try out some sniping with her shotgun. An unconventional strategy, but a seeming effective one – it looked like some of those tweaks I made came in handy. Boyd and I both let out a cheer as her shots hit. Then, suddenly, there was a blast of light and Oxton was down.
Alice hissed softly beneath her breath.
“She’s still breathing,” Cwalina called, “but we need to get her stabilized.” His worry for his squad-mate cost him dearly, because he took the next shot. It sent him to his knees, but he dragged himself back up, wavering slightly on his feet, but his gun steady.
The next shot went for Miss, almost scoring a direct hit.
She lost it.
I could hear her panicked screams over Alice’s mic, and Alice’s soft whispers to herself of: “Fuck, fuck, fuck What have you gotten us into, Commander?” But Alice’s shots didn’t miss, her hands were perfectly steady.
Cwalina limped his way over to Oxton and picked her up, staggering under even her small weight, then signaled for evac.
For a moment, the field was clear. Alice went back to scouting, but it was a much more dangerous game now, with just her and Grigoriev, and the most-recovered, but badly wounded, Miss following after. The aliens knew where they were, and they had no idea what was coming next.
Boyd and I, not to mention the ground-team, held their breaths as they inched forward, trying to get the drop on any enemies. My heart was in my throat, if they walked into an ambush, it wouldn’t end well.
Which, as it turned out, was exactly what happened.
Four enemy troops rushed them, and they had no choice but to run.
Two of them shot directly at Alice. “Duck!” I yelled, covering my eyes.
Oooh baby, every sleepless night and Lilly’s frustration with my obsession over every little detail was worth it. I’d take that 0.00001% efficiency increase in her armour if it allowed her to pull off things like that.
“Thank you, dearest,” she whispered. The comm wasn’t two-way, but she knew I’d be listening in. She hunkered down behind her cover until it was clear.
Lest I make Alice sound like the hero (although she was), Grigoriev took down a muton centurion by himself – although the damn thing was an idiot, standing there in the open as he emptied his entire clip into it.
It wasn’t until he threw a smoke grenade to cover Alice and Miss, that I could breathe a little easier though. Not much, mind. Those smoke grenades had been giving all the engineers grief for ages, and I’m surprised Shen even let the Commander equip them for fieldwork, with all the malfunctions they’d been having.
“Keep your head down, baby,” I whispered as shots flew into the smoke.
Alice, my shotgun-sniper, ended it all, hitting the last enemy directly in the soft-spot, dropping him.
Central’s “Area Secure” announcement had never sounded so good.
I’d just cut my connection with Alice – I respected the soldiers’ right to a private commute on the Firebrand – when Body spoke: “Go,” he said, “I’ll cover you here for the rest of your shift.” I went.
Alice was covered in a crust of blood and mud.
She’d been helping put pressure on Oxton’s wounds in the Firebrand while Grigoriev, who had more medic training, was tending to the other two of their team. She was also a mess from the flak from the two grenades that had gone off in front of her, bleeding scratches covered the upper half of her face, the only part of her that her armour didn't cover.
She handed her weapons off to be cleaned and stowed, and then she saw me. She came toward me, but paused at the last second. “I.. I’m not…” she said, looking down at the state she was in.
“Don’t be stupid,” I said, flinging my arms around her and kissing her until we had to break apart to breathe.
“I fought like hell,” she whispered, “and I came back.”
The few days since that hellish Supply raid somehow passed both lightning quick and through a sluggish haze. Alice had recovered with relatively unsurprising swiftness, the sore ears and scratches on her face healing without even leaving a scar. She was once again forced to admit, even though she had personally blasted the twisted minds responsible to oblivion, she was grateful that her body had indeed been augmented into that of a super-soldier, and part of that meant increased healing. A sentiment Laurelin wholeheartedly shared.
Currently, the two were in the Gym section of the GTS, dressed in workout fatigues and going through basic routines. Since Laurelin's confinement to her quarters had officially ended, Alice began making good on her promise to help Laurelin with weapons training and physical conditioning, and eventually perhaps some swordsmanship practice.
Laurelin was all for it. It reminded her of the training and drills Anna used to put her through, and at least this time she didn't have to worry about something exploding if she made a mistake. And hey, more time spent with Alice would always be a big fat plus in her book. Plus...getting to see Alice work up a light sweat, and feel her strong muscles against her as she used a hands-on approach to show Laurelin the ropes was... a welcome bonus. One she was having Eyes record every second of. Purely for review and practice purposes, of course.
"Well, nice to see you to going at it strong." They turned to see Laurelin's sister in silver hair and Alice's sister of the sword, Cyla "Blake" Hawk, approach them from another part of the gym, dresses the same and similarly worked up, smiling brightly at the both of them. Alice nodded and offered her own light tilt of the lips. "Cyla. Likewise good to see you doing well." "Yeah well, what can I say? Gotta keep sharp for the next big one. All or nothing, and we're gonna take it all home. Plus Rangers have to stay in top form to make sure nobody else on the crew needs to run headfirst into death." Cyla smiked, flipping back an errant bang. "Agreed. It is a shame the Commander never sees fit to send us both on the same missions. I suspect our opposition would swiftly be reduced to ribbons." "You know it!" Cyla chirped as she held her palm out. In a display of her ever-heightnening awareness of casual social cues, Alice only took a second to respong with the appropriate high-five. "But meh, us Triple S's can't just go hogging all the work now can we?"
"I'm sorry," Laurelin cut in, momentarily perplexed. "Triple S?" "Sword and Shotgun Sisters" They two rangers chorused. In the moment she took to blink and hold back her giggle, Laurelin felt thankful that neither apparently knew or wanted to think to invoke the "Jinx".
And it was also when an elbow belonging to the THIRD Ranger on the ship perched itself on Alice's shoulder, seemingly out of nowhere. "Aww, now I'm hurt!" Dio "Looney" Karada proclaimed with ever ounce of melodrama he could muster. Which was about equal to the weight of the Avenger. "You guys have a whole little Ranger get-together, and you don't invite me? I mean, the readers will think AllForFire and Keagan don't care to acknoledge me!" "...What?" Cyla deadpanned. "Who?" Alice asked. "How did you even get there?" Laurelin choose to pose instead, distancing herself from the man's mad ramblings.
Instantly, the man's eyes, behind his usual unnerving mask, where upon her, and Laurelin wished she'd kept quiet.
"Weeell Hellooo Gorgeous." Looney smoothed as he waltzed toward her. "You Remember me at least, don't you? Was on the team that pulled your hot little ass out of that rioting clusterfuck? Keagan even made it a point that you were 'creeped out' by my utter badassness at killing ADVENT goonies. I mean REALLY woman!" He suddenly shouted at the ceiling, flexing. "How can you be creeped out by THIS?"
"Very easily." Laurelin responded flatly under her breath. Louder, she said "Killing ADVENT is one thing. Loving the act of killing them is another.
"Ooooh, I get it." Dio nodded with a 'sagely' tone. "You're one of the those Captain America types amirite? Personally was always more of a Punisher fan myself. Plus I gotta say, the new takes Marvel's been doing of em are top notch. Right Viewers?" "WHAT are you even talking about?! And WHO are you talking to?!" "Apapap!" Dio shushed her, even placing a finger on her lips, startling her. "Sorry hot blind babe, my lips are sealed. Not literally of course, because DAMN was that the stupidest thing Fox has ever done-"
Before he could continue his rambling, an iron grip locked itself around his throat, and another wrenched back his offending arm hard enough to hear a faint pop.
"Touch her like that again." Alice uttered coldly in his ear as she held him in her chokehold. "And I will tear off your limbs and burn them." "Talk to her like that again." Cyla continued in the same tone as she pulled harder. "And I turn you into a Choir Boy." "...I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be terrified or turned on." Karada looked down. "Welp, that answers that question! Thanks for clearing that up, 'Fire!" He looked back at Laurelin. "Betcha wish you were in my spot now, huh honey-buns?" It was only when he heard both women crack their knuckles that he gulped. "Children in the audience, avert your eyes!"
And funnily enough, Laurelin, as she got comfy to watch the show, suddenly wished she had some popcorn. 'Oh well, the show's enough.' She smiled as the first of many screams resounded off the GTS walls, as Eyes dutifully recorded in the background.
*Personal Log Laurelin Kallasai, July 1* Thank god my restriction to quarters has finally been lifted. I’ve never been gladder to be out in public before.
Alice was finally able to take me to the training rooms this morning. Have to say, it was kinda hot.
Eyes got good recordings of Alice for… educational purposes, of course.
Hawk showed up in the middle of our training. I had no idea she and Alice were so close, but Cyla is awesome. They’re apparently the ‘Triple Ss’ – who knew?
And what would the SSSs be without a third member? Karada chose that moment to show up.
He is officially off his rocker. He talks to people who aren’t there, and seems to think everything is one big story that someone is writing purely for their own entertainment. He also apparently thinks he’s god’s gift to ...well, everyone.
He’s also a psychopath.
And… he has a thing for me – the ‘hot blind babe’, but then, he seems to have a thing for just about everyone.
Alice wasn’t amused. She dislocated his shoulder and put him in a chokehold.
Cyla joined in too.
I’m with Karada on this one – it was pretty hot watching them double-team him.
I made them stop soon enough, but I let Loony sing for a bit first. I mostly made them stop, because he managed, between squeals, to compliment me on my taste in the pornography that showed every time Checkout turned on his tablet.
He’s still insane, but he might not be so bad.
After they herded him back out of the training room, Cyla said she’d been looking for us, and wanted to ask me to make the same adjustment to her armour that I had for Alice; she said that no one was that fucking lucky without a little something extra on their side, and since she was up for the Blacksite Mission, she wanted everything she could get.
I guess every little bit helps, right?
She also said that I looked like I showed some promise, and that she and Alice should do a sword-fighting exhibition for me and the other trainee Rangers some time, and maybe we’d learn something.
Yeah, I’d learn something… it might be how to spontaneously combust.
The door opened again at that moment, and we were all ready to shout at Karada, but it was Dr Frankenfucker who walked in, and headed straight for me.
“Engineer Kallasai,” he spoke as if I was something he’d found stuck to his boot.
I felt Alice tense behind me.
“Dr F-… Tygan,” I replied coolly, “how can I help you?”
“You might be aware that we have made little progress in breaking the alien encryption? Central suggested I ask Chief Shen if any of her engineers have expertise in code-breaking, which I did. The first name off her lips was yours – I believe she said ‘please, god, keep that little shit busy so she stays out of my systems’. Since you overrode the safeguards to my lab so effectively as to place a rigged lockbox and get out without being detected; and managed to alter classified XCOM files without being traced; not to mention overriding the consoles on this ship to stream… questionable material in the presence of certain soldiers; I tend to agree with her assessment of your expertise.”
He thrust the tablet he was carrying at me. “This contains a sample of the encryption, please let us know if you have any insights. We expect to have more to study after the Blacksite mission.”
“Wait,” I stuttered, “you’re really going to let me play with the alien coding?”
“I would rather you decrypt than ‘play’, Engineer,” he replied. Then he turned and stalked out again.
“Well, fuck,” Cyla said. “At least he seems optimistic that we’ll succeed.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, still a little stunned.
“I guess it will give you something to do, in light of Chief Shen’s new assignment for you,” Alice added.
She wasn’t wrong. Boyd and I had finished digging out one room, and I’d been put straight onto clearing out another, because Shen said she thought I did my best work when I wasn’t distracted. So Boyd got to build the power relay in the areas we cleared.
I get to spend over a month by myself, locked in another room in the bowels of the ship.
Yeah, thanks heaps Lilly.
We’re right down to the red line on AVATAR now, but Cyla and her team are hitting the Blacksite tomorrow. Not only am I now worried for my new friend Cyla, I’m worried for the fate of our world.
If this fails, we’re done.
Personal Log Laurelin Kallasai, July 2
Alice and I rushed up to the med-bay to see Cyla as soon as we reasonably could. She was badly hurt on the Blacksite mission.
She wasn’t awake when we got there, she’d been heavily sedated because of the pain. The medical staff said she’ll make a full recovery, but she’s going to be out of commission for over a month.
I’m going to try to get ahold of some of the fresh fruit that gets smuggled aboard every supply drop. It’ll cost me, but it’ll be worth it if it brightens Cyla’s day.
I think I saw Karada skulking in as we left.
They’d certainly set back the aliens on the AVATAR project, but they were already so close, the question is how much they really accomplished. We’re going to have to knuckle down and hit them where it hurts if we want to make a real dent in their plans.
I was also doing some repairs up in the commander centre and overhead Central mention a UFO that’s stalking us. Yay! Or something.
Bonsoir and Spectre are up for the next mission. I hope they fare better.
Personal Log Laurelin Kallasai, July 7 Morale on this flying circus is at an all-time low. The Council asked us to rescue a VIP, and we failed.
The upside is that no one was badly hurt, but I keep thinking about how easily that could’ve been me. Bonsoir’s team could’ve come just a little too late, or I could’ve taken an unlucky shot, just like Marcella, and I wouldn’t be here.
Alice asked me to stop talking about it, and told me I should put it out of my mind, because it didn’t happen. She’s more of a live-in-the-present person than me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be here, doing my part, and being with Alice, but it all could’ve ended so differently. I don’t know how she can put it out of her mind. Life is so fragile, one moment it’s there and the next… it’s not. We’ve got to be prepared for death.
But how can we be?
God, that’s maudlin. Maybe it’s just the mood on the ship.
Personal Log Laurelin Kallasai, July 11 Things are slowly going back to normal around here. We’ve all realised that we have to live in the present.
Things could be worse, a lot worse, and one failed mission – at that one – was not the end of us.