• Published 2nd May 2013
  • 59,100 Views, 7,181 Comments

Stardust - Arad



Can Twilight earn the trust and friendship of people who are by nature suspicious and hostile to anything that isn't 'human'?

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Consensus

23:28, 04/30/2015, UNKNOWN LOCATION

The room was dark and almost devoid of furniture, save for an almost featureless desk and chair. The room might have been mistaken for a long-forgotten office or storage room were it not for the lack of dust combined with the well-dressed man who stepped into the room. Out of long-ingrained habit he sat in the seat after straightening his tie. His posture was ramrod straight as he pressed a seemingly random spot on the desk before tapping in front of him as though he had a keyboard.

The wall across from the desk flickered as power fed into a monitor hidden in the darkness. Text began to scrawl as the system powered up.

>>SYSTEM ACTIVATION
>>LOGIN/PASSWORD REQUIRED
>>”0”
>>”********************”
>>USER AUTHENTICATED
>>ESTABLISHING SECURE CONNECTION
>>SECURE CONNECTION ESTABLISHED
>>0 IS NOW IN ATTENDANCE
>>CURRENT ATTENDANCE INCLUDES 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
>>ALL MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE

“Good evening, gentlemen,” The man known as Zero said to the empty room, and his speech appeared as text on the monitor. “You all have had time to review the reports compiled by Commander David Bradford. We will now discuss—“

Before he was even finished speaking, a line of text appeared that was followed with a synthetic voice. More lines of text and synthetic voices began to join in as the conversation began to spiral out of control.

2: Are these reports a joke? This Stardust project is housing an alien captive? A cooperative alien captive at that?

5: That appears to be the case.

3: I can’t believe Bradford’s allowing it. He’s compromising the security of the XCOM facility in North America. We cannot afford to have our efforts threatened from within at this time.

10: Vahlen’s reports show suspicious activity from numerous personnel who have come into contact with the specimen. A significant portion of the base personnel might be compromised.

>>16 has called for a vote: ENABLE ‘BLANK SLATE’ PROTOCOL, NA FACILITY
>>Yes votes: 5 total, No votes: 8 total, 4 Abstain.
>>Proposal rejected

11: You can’t be so short-sighted. For the first time we have a living, breathing alien specimen that’s willing to cooperate without physical persuasion. The benefits of such an asset are unknowable.

1: Its motivations are completely unknowable as well. What proof do we have that it isn’t an infiltrator designed by the invaders for the expressed purpose of gaining our trust? They’ve proven they are capable and willing to tailor-make forces to fit their environment.

9: You’re forgetting that the infiltrators we’ve been seeing thus far have been somewhat less than convincing. This ‘Twilight’ has none of the tell-tale signs of deliberate engineering that the Thin Men have displayed. Look at the Medical Imaging data. No surgery scars, no redundant or obsolete organ structures, and no implants. It appears to be a product of natural evolution wherever it’s from.

16: Are you seriously trying to argue that somewhere in the universe there’s a world filled with brightly-colored unicorns?

15: Look at the art assets uploaded from the project. I think unicorns are the tip of the iceberg. Gryphons? Dragons? Hydras?

13: It’s all evidence that this thing is an invader tailored to cater to our preconceptions. There’s irrefutable proof that the invaders have been studying us for a significant amount of time. How else could it know about such mythical creatures from our culture?

5: You seem to be discounting the possibility that Twilight isn’t the first visitor from her world to ours.

3: So the explanation of all our myths is aliens?

5: You know what I mean. Don’t be pedantic.

7: Perhaps we should come back to this subject, as we’re getting nowhere. What we should be discussing is the capabilities the creature has displayed. I don’t believe it’s ‘magic’ for one second, but what it can do at will is disconcerting.

3: I’ve read the reports. I’m not happy that the only thing keeping it in place is something as mercurial as a good mood.

10: I concur. Its telekinetic capabilities could render all projectile weapons useless against it. Where are we on reverse engineering the invaders' plasma weapons?

11: Nowhere near finished. Current timelines put the earliest working prototypes at least two months from now. ARC Throwers seem to be the best option, though there’s the problem with range.

13: Range is the least of our concerns considering Twilight’s ability to teleport as well as render itself invisible to the naked eye. I’m struggling to understand why it doesn’t just walk out at any time.
.
2: Or fight its way out. The armor cameras quite clearly show how it dispatched a Chryssalid with rather excessive force. What’s stopping it from simply blasting its way out to the surface?

11: I still can’t believe how intentionally ignorant you all are being. Read the logs and the audio, and spend five minutes looking at the video footage. That thing is desperate for approval and companionship. So long as it is provided, I suspect Twilight will stay and obey orders.

13: I know what the damned logs say, but we cannot know what it is thinking for certain. It is not human and there’s no way to guarantee it thinks in the same manner we do or holds the values we do. Attempting to project human values onto it is foolhardy at best.

1: I concur.

15: The logs do mention the virtues of her people. Kindness, generosity, loyalty, laughter and honesty; do those sound like anything the invaders hold dear?

1: It’s too good to be true.

3: Agreed. An alien that is all sunshine and rainbows shows up out of the blue while we are facing the possibility of extinction at the hands of other invaders. There’s no such thing as coincidences that big.

5: She did not come here by accident. An entity called ‘Discord’ sent her to us against her will.

6: I did notice that, and it greatly worries me. If the reports on the limitations of teleportation are accurate, then Discord knows about Earth. What I don’t understand is why he would send Twilight here.

4: Self-preservation. Twilight’s own reports, if they can be trusted, describe Discord being given an ultimatum to surrender peacefully or be annihilated by whatever the ‘Elements of Harmony’ are. The Elements can’t work without Twilight’s active participation, so by removing her from the equation he’s ensured his continued existence for the time being.

3: So you’re saying it’s not the destination that matters, but her place of origin? That she ended up here was just another coincidence? Why not just teleport her into a star, or deep space?

15: Twilight’s reports describe Discord as… not a stable individual. It might be twisted about like a ball of twine, but I imagine he must have had some logical reason for sending the unicorn here. Perhaps he didn’t know we were at war?

5: Or perhaps he did.

11: I can’t help but notice that everyone is pointedly avoiding the other superpower that Twilight has mentioned personal contact with. This ‘Celestia’ that she mentions--

13: Are we seriously taking religious devotion into consideration? You can’t go two steps outside these days without someone claiming they’ve spoken to their god. And how many kids write letters to Santa Claus with the sincere belief that there’s an obese toy maker at the North Pole who reads them?

7: Your sarcasm is not constructive in this matter.

16: Enough. This speculation is pointless as the only evidence we have comes from an alien. Without independent verification we cannot act on it. Agreed?

1: Agreed.

3: Agreed.

5: Agreed.

4: Agreed.

10: Yes.

11: Agreed.

16: This creature has provided a veritable flood of information that cannot be verified, and I suspect that it is holding back. There have been a handful of occasions where it has refused to comply with Vahlen’s testing procedures, as well. The gentle approach has produced no results that XCOM can use in the field so more severe methods of question may be necessary.

5: You’re wrong. The successful acquisition of alien assets during Silent Rain could be attributed to the creature willingly using her abilities to assist the two volunteers she interacts with.

13: Abilities that she had not displayed when asked to describe her capabilities. Abilities that alter the perceptions of everyone around her. That sounds dangerously close to mind-altering powers. She also used this ability without consent being given. What else has she done while the science personnel weren’t looking?

15: Others have mentioned it as a weapon against Twilight in these proceedings but it’s a sword that cuts both ways. She is not human and does not think like we do, and none of you can deny the desperation for approval she shows when she’s around the volunteers. Where she is from, asking for such help would likely never have been considered since it’s so readily given.

13: Again, what other abilities has she been using without the knowledge of the science team, all to ‘help’?

1: We’re getting off track. It was mentioned earlier that alternative methods of interrogation were being considered?

13: Why are we considering alternative interrogation at all? Just give the thing to Vahlen and let her perform her usual procedures.

16: I’ll have to disagree with that recommendation. This creature is one of a kind, and Vahlen has a tendency to expend her subjects after operations. As enlightening as that interrogation and subsequent autopsy would be, it would waste the potential here.

13: What exactly are you proposing? Stop beating around the bush.

16: The Vault containment facility is nearing completion in Argentina. Its highest security cells were designed with the likelihood of capturing alien command elements intact. The primary holding cell operates like an elevator car. Any sign of breach and the cell drops into the Copahue lava vein while the elevator shaft is demolished with sequential charges. Should the creature attempt to force the doors, it would drop and burn. Regarding teleportation, known restrictions involve line of sight combined with knowledge of the distance between points. Should the subject be sedated and deprived of sensory input in transit, I’m confident potential teleports could be curtailed.

1: These seem like reasonable countermeasures.

16: In addition, professionals can be acquired to coax more information out of the creature while preserving its physical condition.

13: Coax more information? Just come out and say you intend to torture it. I hear it’s a specialty in South America to be proficient in such things without leaving a mark on your victims.

16: Aren’t we a little past the point of being ethically squeamish? We’ve done far worse to these invaders and there was far less objection.

5: What’s wrong about this is that this creature is willingly cooperating with us and will continue to cooperate so long as we’re reasonable.

10: Until it decides it doesn’t want to cooperate any more. I would rather be prepared to throw it into a deep dark hole the moment that happens rather than hope it doesn’t come to pass.

11: I can’t seriously believe that this is being considered. The first friendly alien we’ve ever met and we’re debating how best to torture it.

1: We’re here to ensure the survival of humanity by any means necessary. If you cannot put humanity’s needs over those of an alien then perhaps your replacement will need to be contacted.

“Enough.”

Instantly the debate died as the Zero spoke.

“I will be the first to admit that this creature presents a problem. It might not be a problem that XCOM anticipated, but it is a problem it will need to deal with. Preparation of the Vault will continue. Experts to staff the facility will be contacted, however this will remain as a contingency for the worst case scenario.”

A long moment of silence passed before a response was apparent.

16: I can sense a ‘but’ coming.

“Commander David Bradford’s judgement thus far has been exemplary in both his tactical acumen as well as his management priorities. As it was his decision to house the creature in the manner it now finds itself in which has elicited all the information we have thus far, I recommend the final decision be his. The question now is, ‘Does this Council continue to trust the Commander’s judgement?’”

>>0 has called for a vote
>>Yes votes: 17 total, No votes: 0 total, 0 Abstain.
>>Proposal Accepted.

“Excellent. If there are no further matters to discuss, this Council is now adjourned.” One by one the other Councilmen disconnected.

Zero tapped his desk as he too disconnected from the conference. He tapped another place on his desk and clasped his hands before him.

“Good evening, Commander.”

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