XCOM: Ranger

by Wanderer D

Chapter 142: Losses


Chapter 142: Losses

By Wanderer D

Everyone gathered around a large holographic table that Fiss and his brethren had managed to somehow put together. On it, a basic map of the city was displayed, with the main buildings enhanced in size and colored orange, instead of the blue of the rest.

"Here's what we know…" Sunset started, "At some point last night, an all-out war started between ADVENT and, presumably, the MEC Factory. Since that's where Julian is located and where the second request for help came from, it is likely that the MECs would be on our side for this one."

"Are we really going to risk it?" Fridge asked.

"No," Ember said, "We'll assume they're all our enemies until confirmation of some sort occurs. At least with ADVENT we are one hundred percent sure that they'll attempt to kill us on sight. Especially with the Hunter being here."

"Has anyone here fought the Hunter?" Security asked, "And I don't mean fought as in, they were in the same AO as the bitch. I mean, actually had a fight with her."

"Our only encounter with her didn't involve us fighting her at all," Sunset admitted, "which really makes her a problem. Worse still, she's a sniper, so getting close enough to her might be a problem. It might even be down to a sniper of equal skill to hers to take her down."

"So how are we doing this?" Jane asked, "Including me, we have five specialists, three alone in Dragon team."

"My team should take lead on the MEC factory with Lily," Ember said, glancing around with confidence. "If we are stuck fighting MECs, we're the best equipped to do so, and if we need to assist them, we are also the best option for that."

Sunset bit her lip. "Julian doesn't know you."

"He knows Lily," Ember retorted.

"You understand that it is possible that Julian might be on our side, correct?" Sunset asked.

"Yes, but until we can prove he is, I'm not going to walk in waving a white flag."

"That would leave us fighting ADVENT," Elena said, "We should be able to deal with them."

"Keep them occupied while you contact Julian and possibly obtain his alliance," Sunset muttered.

"I hate to even suggest this, but do you want anyone from my team?" Ember asked.

Sunset looked around, then sighed. "To be honest, we could use the help, but we don't know the capabilities of the Hunter, Ember. For all we know this could be a suicide mission."

"Please, as if I had so little trust in my team." Ember nodded at Fridge and Trojan. "I figure you could use a Sniper, and a Grenadier."


"Keep Trojan far and away. As long as she has a clear shot, you can spot for her and she'll hit her target. Given your experience with explosives, I would assume you'd know what to do with Fridge?"

Sunset chuckled. "Fine. I'm not going to argue against this."

"Ma'am, are you sure?" Trojan asked.

"We're going inside a building, Greg," Ember replied, "You're both going to be of more help out there in the city."

Fridge grimaced. "If you say so, boss."

Ember grinned. "Come on, besides," she motioned with her thumb at her hovering GREMLIN. "I'm never alone, I have GARBLE."

The GREMLIN made a threatening whirl of servos.


"You named your GREMLIN "GARBLE"?" Jane asked. "Why?"

"Because he's a pretentious dick," Ember said, shrugging. "What, you haven't named yours? Even Twilight named hers."

Jane, grimaced, "I haven't thought of a good name, okay?"

"What are the names so far?" Sunset asked, curiosity nagging at her.

"Well," Ember said, "you know GARBLE…"

"And ROV-R…" Lily said.

"Mine's named TALIA," Security said, "because she hates me."

"She?" Sweetie asked, "And why would you name… her… Talia because of that?"

"Long story."

"Anyway," Breaker said, "mine is named: FIXIT. I challenge you to figure out why."

"Not interested." Elena stated.

"What other names are there?"

"Well, Twilight named hers, "GREMLINISCIOUS"," Jane said.

"Of course she did."

"And you know Jaws?" Jane continued, "from Wolf team? She named hers "FLIPPER"."


"Beats me."

"Now I feel old," Annette muttered.

"Well, then," Sunset said, "Make sure you ponder the nature of your GREMLIN's name, Jane. Wouldn't want to be the only one out there that couldn't name their assistant. Now that that's out of the way…" She coughed. "We still need to figure out how to evacuate the civilians."

"Sunset," Ember growled, "We're talking about thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people."

"We can't leave them behind!" Sunset argued. "They'll get killed!"

"Even if we somehow managed to figure out a way to rescue them all from imminent death, we can't evacuate them. We don't have the resources, and we'd have to empty the Avenger completely to fit…" she turned to glance at Sweetie, "How many people?"

"Um… last census I believe was two hundred, seventy five thousand, eight hundred. Rounded up."

"Yes. That many people." Ember shook her head, licking her lips and locked eyes with Sunset. "We might just have to cut our losses."

Sunset grimaced, but couldn't argue the point. How could she, or anyone, save that many people with their resources? It was impossible.

"What about my parents?" Jenny asked from behind them.

Ember and Sunset exchanged pained glances.

"We'll do what we can," Sunset said, turning to face the young girl. "We don't know all the details, or where they're being held. Once we do, we can plan again, right?"

Ember sighed. "Sure." She smirked confidently and gave Jenny a thumbs-up. "We'll figure it out."

"Ugh-GAH!" Scootaloo sat up fast, chest heaving, eyes wide, forehead covered in sweat. She held onto the sides of the metallic bed she was lying on to keep her balance and, truth be told, just so she could actually hold on to something.

She looked around the room where she had woken up, trying to figure it out. It was mostly solid-looking metal. Here and there circuits lit up and beeped, but other than herself, there was no organics around.

Three guesses as to which side had captured her.

"Hello?" she called out, glancing around the room. She looked up at the sterile white lights above, trying to see if there were any cameras. "Hello? Hey? You caught me? Um… what happened to my friends?"

There was no reply. Unnerved, she turned on the metal slab—really, calling it a bed earlier had been too generous—and slid off, walking a couple of steps to the nearest wall and banging on it. "Hey! I'm talking here! Why am I in this room? Come on! I didn't do anything wrong! What's with the prisoner of Azkaban treatment?"

Greetings, Scootaloo.

Scootaloo blinked. "Apple… Bloom?"

Not quite. The being known as Apple Bloom is currently incapacitated. I am her assistant. AppleSeed.

"Oh, haha, yeah… uh… you're… uh… not a Bioroid, are you?"

Obscure reference noted. But no, I am merely a construct. I am not sentient, but my coding is advanced enough to simulate a real AI.

"How do I know you're not lying?"

Does this look like a face that would lie?

"I can't see your face!"

Therefore it is a face that cannot lie.

"Y-you… ugh. You were definitely programmed by Apple Bloom." Scootaloo closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. "Where is she? Why am I here?"

You were separated from your companions at the time of acquisition due to your relationship with Apple Bloom.

"Well, where is she? Are we in the MEC Factory?" Scootaloo asked slowly feeling more exasperated.

You will be guided to her. However, it is imperative that you understand the situation.

"What situation?" Scootaloo groaned. "You mean that fight outside between ADVENT and MECs?"

ADVENT is trying to exterminate everything in the city, including civilians, to cover for the loss of control over their mechanical assets.

"Okay… that is… horrible," Scootaloo said, "and I get that we're all collateral damage, but what does Apple Bloom have to do with all of this?"

The attempts did not begin in the streets. Apple Bloom was caught by an ADVENT official assisting Julian. She was accused of treason, and immediately executed. This prompted a response from us, and war commenced.

o.0.o End Chapter 142 o.0.o