• Published 2nd May 2013
  • 71,670 Views, 7,291 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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Silent Rain




02:40, 04/16/2015, SKYRANGER HANGAR

David Bradford had never been one to consider lurking, but the longer he waited at the far side of the hangar the more he felt the term applied. He stood ramrod straight out of force of habit and perfectly still beside the door leading the command center with his eyes locked on the door leading to the access stairwell. And, as if summoned by the sheer stubbornness of his stare, the door opened and Harris briskly walked in and surveyed the now empty hangar before signaling to the door, and the others moved in behind him, including the current source of Bradford’s more recent headaches.

The video footage doesn’t do it justice, Bradford thought to himself as the group moved towards the center of the room. Even from across the hangar he could see curiosity on its face. Curiosity and fear. When the hangar doors opened it looked up to the starry skies with unabashed wonder before looking to Shen and saying something. Shen smiled and nodded but remained silent.

“Commander Bradford, there is an incoming Council transmission,” Came a voice from Bradford’s headset, and for a brief moment he was sorely tempted to groan and cover his face with his palm. Of all the times for the Council to call…

“Understood, inform them that I’ll take their transmission in my office in five minutes. Raise the alert level of the base and scramble Strike One, Strike Two and Strike Four,” Bradford crisply ordered through his headset and started making his way toward the group in the hangar. The lights all came on at the same time as the alert klaxon sounded. The alien in their midst jerked and its ears folded back from the sound, though one ear twitched in Bradford’s direction. A moment later those purple eyes were upon him, and Bradford met that gaze with one of his own.

David wasn’t unfamiliar with the concept of the stare-down, and was perfectly willing to deliver one if necessary… which wouldn’t be this case. Within a second of eye contact the alien visibly withered under his glare but still maintained eye contact, and then the moment passed as Shen met Bradford half-way.

“Shen, get everyone back to the lab. Council transmission is incoming, and you know what that means.” Bradford reported crisply before doing an about face and heading towards the hangar exit. He had gotten a half a dozen steps when a loud crack of displaced air sounded behind him. A glance behind him revealed that he was now alone in the hangar. He tapped his headset and asked, “Location on Charles Shen?”

A moment of silence passed before the reply came, “Chief Engineer Charles Shen is currently in the Stardust Labs, B3F.”

Teleportation…right, he remembered from the Vahlen’s research notes as he ascended the stairs to his office. Something tells me this mission is going to get a lot more interesting than usual.


02:43, 04/16/2015, B3F CORRIDOR

“Matt…” Lana started as the pair sprinted through the corridors.

“I know, Lana,” Matt replied as they rounded a corner and caught sight of the stairwell leading up into the barracks, “We have to let Fowler know about the situation.”

“And how would you explain the situation? ‘So sorry, can’t go with you on the mission because a pretty purple unicorn cast an unknown spell on us’? She’ll smack both of us if we tell her the truth and Bradford will smack us again for telling the truth about what happened,” Lana said, and her tone was missing her usual snark.

Damn it, she’s right. And there’s no time to come up with a plausible alternative. Damn it, Matt thought to himself. “All right, command decision. When we get to the armory, just follow my lead. If there’s any trouble it’s on me and not you.”

Lana didn’t reply to that, and Matt couldn’t look over his shoulder to see her expression as they hit the stairwell and bound up it three steps at a time. A quick exit from the stairwell and a few more turns brought the tardy pair to the Armory, and they were greeted by the bustle of nearly a score of soldiers getting their kit sorted for the mission. Unfortunately, Matt and Lana’s absence was not unnoticed.

“I swear to God I’m going to put my boot up both their asses the next time I see them,” Fowler seethed as she plucked her rifle from the armory locker and proceeded to the depository to retrieve magazines for both it and her pistol, “Muster call is absolute, anyone who misses that gets on my personal shit list.”

Matt braced himself for the verbal thrashing as he stepped up to Fowler, but she pointedly ignored him and continued to rant, “In case you knuckle-draggers hadn’t noticed, I’m in a bad mood, and the only thing that will get me out of that bad mood is the unlikely possibility that all of Strike One is miraculously on the Skyranger at the start of the operation.”

Command decision time. If we don’t suit up and meet them at the Skyranger, Strike One will be under-strength for whatever the mission is. If we join them they’ll be full strength but we’ll have to risk whatever Twilight’s spell was, Matt’s mind began to crunch the best and worst case scenarios, and made a decision.

“Lana, prep our armor and kit, I’ll gather our guns and ammo,” Matt hissed at Lana, and when she started to object, he turned back, “This is on me, just do it!”

Strike Two stacked up and filed out of the armory, followed by Strike Four, and through hours and hours of practice, Lana and Matt were able to get their kits together and join the end of the stack as Strike One departed for the hangar. Not one member of Strike One acknowledged their presence as they tabbed towards the Skyrangers. It seems we’re persona-non-grata because of our late arrival…ah, there will be hell to pay when we get back.

The crew chiefs for the three Skyrangers waved each team to their respective ride, Strike Four would launch first, followed by Strike Two, then Strike One. Matt and Lana were the last in the stack to enter the Skyranger but Fowler stood at the base of the ramp and glared towards the hangar entrance. The crew chief for the Skyranger ran up the ramp and began to check and recheck all the harnesses for the boarded members, but stopped just before he got to Lana and Matt and turned to the lieutenant on the ramp.

“Sir, we’re leaving in ten seconds! Get inside now!”

Fowler turned and headed back inside the Skyranger, her displeasure clearly apparent on her face.

“Is there a problem, sir?” Lana asked tentatively, and Matt sucked in his breath. Please don’t think she’s being sarcastic. Please…

The reaction from both Strike One and the crew chief was not what Matt expected. The soldiers sitting beside Lana and Matt would have jumped out of their seats if they weren’t harnessed, while everyone else whipped around to stare at the two like they had just materialized out of thin air. The crew chief was the first to respond by checking their harnesses and heading back to the front of the craft, though he gave both soldiers a dubious expression while he did so. Fowler’s reaction was to simply give the two a flat look before taking her seat and strapping into the harness.

As the ramp closed and the Skyranger taxied to the launch pad, Matt gave Lana a silent look. What the hell was that about?

Lana’s only response was to shrug.


02:50, 04/16/2015, MISSION CONTROL

Bradford looked up at the massive holographic globe as he structured the briefing for the soldiers in his mind. I hate that we don’t have more time to collect intel or brief the soldiers more than we do, every mission feels like I’m throwing them into danger blind.

The globe continued to lazily spin and Asia came to face the commander. His eyes quickly fell upon Hong Kong and again he had to resist the uneasy feeling the mission was giving him. He had always felt uneasy with the missions that XCOM routinely handled, but this particular assignment was making his insides roil.

The door to the Armory opened and the first of the strike teams made their way across the command center towards the hangar. That’s Strike Two, McKenna, Briand, Holiday, Beecham, Roland, Enderton and with Uther in command. Bradford nodded to the team and wished them luck as they passed, and the second team entered Mission Control. Strike Four, Halverson, Buettner, Green, Thacker, Amada, Rodriguez, Alvarez, and Payne in command. Again, Bradford nodded to this team and wished them luck.

Another eight soldiers filed out from the armory, and Bradford repeated the process with them. Strike One, Dryzimski, Anderson, Lee, Potter, Henderson, with Fowler in command. The door to the hangar closed behind them and Bradford turned back to the spinning globe, though he couldn’t quite keep the doubt off his face this time. It feels like I’m missing something. Something important.

“Bradford, Shen,” The engineer’s voice filtered into Bradford’s ear, sounding tired and a little concerned.

“Bradford here, I read you. Did you manage to finish the production model remote weapons in time?”

“Ah, yes, I did,” Came Shen’s reply, “Three of the new Shivs should be ready for the mission, and I hope they’ll prove useful. I had one question regarding the mission though… did Corporal Harris or Private Jenkins join the mission?”

“I didn’t see them, no,” Bradford admitted, and that flare of doubt spiked uncomfortably. Why feel doubt now? It’s too early in the mission for that. “Were there any problems back at the lab?”

“Ah, no ‘problems’ so to speak. It can wait until the mission is over. Good luck, commander.” And with that, the line closed and Bradford turned back to the globe just as the Skyrays launched and headed west.

The communications officer prompted Bradford and he switched his headset to the command channel. “Our mission area is in a suburb of Hong Kong. We’ve received intelligence that an organized crime syndicate has been offering an alien artifact for sale on the black market, and the source of this intelligence has managed to procure this artifact and is offering it to us instead. Intelligence on the device itself isn’t complete but it was certain that it is intact and in working order, so retrieval of the device is our top priority.”

On cue, the communications officer brought up the map of the suburban area for the operation. A large cemetery with a neighboring temple, some single-story buildings on the road nearby, and an empty parking lot filled the monitor in front of Bradford, and he began to relay his instructions to both the Strike teams and the Skyrays, “Big Sky, you will deliver Strike One to the parking lot. King Fisher, Ominous, you will remain in a holding pattern in the event that the extraction gets complicated. Strike One, your civilian contact can be found near the temple beside the graveyard. The alien artifact is priority but retrieval of the civilian is an optional objective. There is also the possibility of interference from the criminal element, so don’t assume any human present is civilian or friendly. Good luck, Command out.”


06:25, 04/16/2015, HONG KONG

The Skyray roared over the graveyard with its VTOL engines before coming to a rolling landing in the parking lot. The ramp dropped to the asphalt and Strike One boiled out of the aircraft and sprinted for the nearest cover in the barren parking lot. “Big Sky, Strike One Actual, we’re clear.” Fowler reported.

“Solid copy, Strike One. Command, Big Sky. Strike One is on the ground, we are assuming overwatch now,” Big Sky reported as its VTOL engines flared as it lifted off and disappeared into the evening sky. With their eyes in the sky now firmly established, Strike One moved from cover and headed towards the graveyard entrance. “Strike One, Big Sky. Thermal imaging puts one human male outside the temple, looks like that might be your guy.”

“Copy, Big Sky,” Fowler said, and called for a halt as they approached the entrance to the cemetery. “All right, I want no chances taken on this. Three and Four,” She indicated to Potter and Henderson, the two marksmen in the squad, “I want you two on that building and covering the street and as much of the cemetery as you can. Yes, I know the damned trees will be in your way but we shouldn’t be out of sight for more than a minute. Seven, eight; I want you two camped out to cover the entrance of the cemetery. We absolutely cannot get bottled up here if it comes down to a fight.” Lana and Matt nodded at their assignment.

“The rest of you are on me. Let’s get this guy and get out. No muss, no fuss.” With all orders given, Strike One split up. The marksmen dashed across the deserted street and scrambled up the fire escape to the roof of the store across the street. “One, three. We are in position, no contacts.”

Matt and Lana chose a position just inside the graveyard, along an elevated walkway that would give them a good line of sight on the entrance, limited line of sight on the street running beside the cemetery, and plenty of cover to go with it. “One, seven. We’ve got the entrance covered.”

“One copies. ETA on the objective is two minutes.”


06:30, 04/16/2015, MISSION CONTROL

Bradford watched the visual feeds from Big Sky like a hawk as Strike One split to cover the graveyard. It was a sensible move, especially with the risks involved in the mission. Considering the lack of hostiles so far, moving the entire squad was less important than securing their exfiltration route. Despite the potential incident that occurred in the hangar, this mission is going smoothly. Too smoothly. Again his instincts prodded at him that something was going to go wrong, or already had and he had missed it.

“Strike Two Three, Command. Check your two o’clock.” Bradford said, and the marksman complied. While uncommon, it wasn’t unheard of for Bradford to issue orders to the soldiers in the field in the event of emergency or new objectives, and they had learned to trust his instincts. Still, it’s best to keep my hands off most of the time, the unit leaders don’t need me micromanaging their men for them…

“Copy Command,” Potter confirmed, and his armor cam showed a long and deserted street. “Looks all clear… Strike that, I have four contacts moving in two-by-two formation towards the graveyard entrance. They look human, small arms, no armor and black suits. Big Sky, can you confirm?”

“Strike One, Big Sky, confirmed four human contacts heading towards you.”

“Copy, Big Sky. Three, keep eyes on those targets but hold your fire. Seven, Eight, get into position and take them out silently if you please.”

“Solid copy, one. Jenkins, on me.” Seven said, and both he and Jenkins moved to a better vantage point to ambush the would-be ambushers.

Wait… Jenkins? Bradford thought with a start and a chill ran down his spine as he recalled the events from earlier in the evening, I saw all the strike teams go to the Skyrays and I did not see those two in the group. Fowler, Dryzimski, Potter, Henderson, Anderson, Lee. Six names…eight soldiers. I distinctly remember eight soldiers leaving the armory. Shen specifically asked if I saw them and I know I didn’t. What the hell. What the HELL. David Bradford was as detail-oriented as commanders came, and he was absolutely certain that he had recognized six of Strike One’s soldiers, but eight had left the armory. Something big is going on here…

Again, Bradford’s instincts screamed at him and he turned back to see Harris and Jenkins ambush the four would-be ambushers. The humans moved from door frames to alleyways across the street from the cemetery, and they regrouped inside an alleyway outside of the sniper’s view but still within the all-seeing view of Big Sky. That view twitched further down the alleyway to catch a pair of fast moving shapes sprinting towards the human interlopers, with the thermal cameras it appeared as nothing more than a blur. The humans were quick enough on the uptake to turn their guns and fire, but their pistols were no match for the monsters approaching them.

“This is One, I hear shots fired! Who’s shooting?”

“One, Seven. Confirmed Chryssalids engaging civilian targets! Eight, use your frag!”

At this point all four of the black-suited humans had died gruesomely, and the Chryssalids had begun to hunch over the corpses. Before they could, one of the soldiers lofted a grenade into the gory pile and reduced everything to meat. The Chryssalids survived however and began to stumble and limp away to new targets, only to be chased down and dispatched with shotgun blasts.

Bradford had seen enough. “Big Sky, Command. Start thermal scans in and around the temple, starting with neighboring blocks. Ominous and King Fisher, deploy your packages and prepare for close air support. Strike One, Command. Get that asset and get out of there, now.”

A chorus of acknowledgements flooded the radio, and Bradford turned away and switched channels. “Get Charles Shen on the line right now.


06:33, 04/16/2015, HONG KONG

Matt flicked his rifle over to full auto as he covered the alleyway that the Chryssalids came from. Lana pumped another shotgun blast into each of the Chryssalids before giving the mutilated humans a quick look to make sure none of them would rise again. “These guys are down for the count.” Lana reported as she sprinted across the street and back into cover beside Harris.

“Strike One, Big Sky,” Their observer started, and the hurried tone and raised voice didn’t mean anything good, “You have multiple contacts moving in on your location. Thin Men, Chryssalids and Floaters. Recommend exfiltration immediately.”

“Oscar mike with the civilian--, wait, weapons free!” Fowler shouted through the comms, and the staccato reports from rifles could be heard in the distance. Instantly the radio exploded with contact reports and gunfire.

“On me, Jenkins!” Harris shouted as he sprinted back to the elevated position they had prepared earlier. Two loud reports came from across the street, and the two snipers reported kills over the comms. Harris and Jenkins slid into cover and began to search for targets, when the radio crackled again.

“Command, Strike One Two, Anita Fowler is KIA,” Sergeant Dryzimski shouted between machine gun bursts. “ETA to extraction is one min—“ Dryzimski’s report dissolved into a horrible coughing sound that most of the strike teams were becoming uncomfortably familiar with. “I’ve been poisoned.”

“Seven, Four! Three and I can watch the entrance. You and Eight reinforce the others.” Before Matt could confirm the new orders, Henderson interrupted with a shout, “Seven, xrays on your back!”

Before either Harris or Jenkins could so much as react, a Chryssalid bounded up the street-side wall into their elevated position, barely ten feet from their position and between the two soldiers. A thousand painful deaths ran through Matt’s mind as he got that too-close look at the alien monster. He had quite recently seen how fast they could run, and kill. Lana’s shotgun could probably stop it, my rifle might on full auto but neither of us can bring our weapons to bear before one of us dies. Matt thought, and a flood of anger filled him at that.

Matt’s anger at the situation turned into shock as the Chryssalid sped up…and leapt off the elevated walkway and into the graveyard without so much as looking at either soldier. A second Chryssalid leapt up near where the first had and scuttled along the path and passed by Lana close enough for her to touch it, but completely ignored the two soldiers as the previous one did.

A second passed which seemed to stretch on into eternity before a trio of Thin Men added themselves to the mix, taking cover positions along side Matt and Lana as though they weren’t even there. Will wonder what the hell is going on later, for now deal with the Thin Men. Can’t use guns, they’ll cough up poison, but…

With practiced ease, Matt let the rifle hang from its sling and whipped out the Arc Thrower. Two trigger pulls later and two of the Thin Men were down without so much as a fight. He turned to look at Lana only to see her flip her shotgun over into a barrel hold and execute a beautiful golf swing that connected with the last Thin Man’s face and sent it tumbling over the railing and onto the lower level. She flipped the shotgun around again and caught it by the stock, then went sprinting after the Chryssalid further down the path.

“Shot wide, damn it!” Potter shouted through the comms. “Seven, I’ve got no angle on the bug. Tag him or flush him out.”

Matt holstered the Arc Thrower and raised his rifle as he spotted the Chryssalid in question. It was hunkered down behind a dividing wall and one of the giant trees just inside the cemetery, likely lying in wait to ambush the retreating squad members or to hide from the sniper, or both. Doesn’t matter either way, he thought grimly and lined up his shot and fired a burst. The first shot sank into the bug’s lower torso, the second clipped one of its arms while the third connected squarely where one of its legs attached to the body. Not expecting the attack, the Chryssalid squealed and stumbled out of its hiding spot, only for its head to explode a moment later.

“Seven, you’re clear! Move up and we’ll cover you.”

“On it!” Matt shouted as he vaulted the railing and dropped down to the lower level, stopping only to put a pair of bullets into the Thin Man Lana had punted before moving to the gravestones for cover. The staccato reports of rifle fire were almost constant now. “Two, Seven. Status?”

“Two’s out, this is Six! We’ll be at the exit shortly.” And just as he predicted, the remaining squad mates appeared. Lee and Anderson were retreating in good order, while a third figure had Dryzimski’s unconscious form over his shoulders. The third figure was a Chinese man with a shock of white hair and goatee and a rather vicious-looking scar on the side of his face. He also wore the same black outfit that the hostile humans had worn.

So that’s our civvie, Matt thought, and was mildly impressed that he was carrying the unconscious soldier rather than bolting and getting himself killed. He also was aware enough to move during covering fire. Smart man.

Matt’s evaluation of the civilian was cut short when he spotted another Chryssalid bound out from a row of tall gravestones and sprint towards the retreating soldiers. He tried to line up a shot but this Chryssalid was either smart or lucky as it weaved between the gravestones and kept the retreating soldiers between itself and Matt. Lee saw the Chryssalid approach and began to panic as he switched to full auto and began to hose down the bug, but it wasn’t enough. One clawed hand slapped the rifle aside while the second tore out his throat. A gurgle came through the radio as Lee fell, and the bug stood over the dying soldier to commit one of the most horrifying things any human had ever witnessed: egg implantation.

Or it would have if a shotgun blast didn’t tear a wide chunk out of its chest and knock it to the side. It turned to search for this new threat only to get a second shotgun blast in the face. The corpse began to spasm, and Lana put one more shotgun blast into it. “Command, Strike One Eight. Private Donald Lee, KIA.” She reported before sprinting to the rest of the group.

“Damn it, Lana, stick to cover!” Matt yelled as he turned to suppress a pair of Thin Men who appeared behind a tree to the group’s right. Surprisingly, the Thin Men didn’t fire a shot in her direction, instead directing their fire at Anderson and the civilian. One fell from a body shot by Matt, while the second was crowned by one of the snipers.

Lana assumed Lee’s place in covering the retreat as best she could with her shotgun while Matt continued to take shots with his rifle from his position at the gate. Anderson, Jenkins and the civilian regrouped for one last push, when the worst of all possible scenarios occurred. It was purely by chance that Matt saw the flicker of movement as the Floater ascended above them, and a thrill of horror went through him as he saw it toss a grenade.

Matt’s eyes traced the trajectory of the grenade and realized it was going to land between the retreating soldiers and himself. Lana must have noticed it too as the group started to sprint towards the gate. Despite the increased speed, there was no way that any of them would survive the blast.

No! I will not let this happen again! Matt’s mind screamed as he leapt from cover. He moved without conscious thought as he charged for where he expected the grenade to land. The grenade landed and bounced once, at just the right height for Matt to turn his sprint into one massive kick. His boot connected with the grenade just as the retreating soldiers passed him by. Had it been something other than a grenade, it would have been an absolutely beautiful kick.

Unfortunately, it was a grenade, and it detonated just under a second after the kick, knocking Matt off his feet. Oh hell that’s going to hurt in the morning, he thought as he rolled over and staggered to his feet as he rubbed his chest with his free hand. It feels like I just got kicked in the chest.

Henderson had reached the gate and was taking pot shots at targets somewhere behind Matt as he staggered through and turned to provide his own covering fire, and hesitated. “Jenkins, get the civvie and Dryzimski to the extraction! We’ll buy you time.” Matt’s tone brooked no argument, and Lana offered none as she pushed the civilian into action.

“Command, Strike One Seven, objective is approaching the extraction zone but we are in danger of being overrun. Requesting close air support, danger close!” Matt shouted into his comms as he raised his rifle and fired off a trio of shots at the pack of aliens rushing their position. The dreaded sound of his magazine running empty was offset by the chorus of replies through the radio.

“Big Sky copies, we are at extraction and retrieving the objective shortly,”

“Ominous copies, fire mission danger close ten seconds.”

“King Fisher copies, station keeping over the extraction zone.”

“Strike Four is engaging enemy reinforcements! Strike Two, can you assist?”

“Strike Two is ten seconds from the graveyard, we’ll try and intercept! SHIV support is en route!”

The empty clip clattered to the cement and Matt brought a new one into place before signaling for Henderson to retreat. He then sprinted across the street and towards the parking lot. He had just rounded the corner of the block in time to see Big Sky land in the parking lot and a SHIV roll out followed by the Skyranger’s crew chief with a rifle. Lana kept herself behind the civilian and Dryzimski’s unconscious form until he was safely inside before sprinting back toward the fight. The SHIV quickly outpaced her and began to rattle off shots at distant targets. A second SHIV zipped out from a nearby alley and joined in the firefight, followed by the leading elements of Strike Two. They waved the surviving elements of Strike One forward as they provided covering fire.

The rattling fire of the SHIV was quickly drowned out by a second Skyranger as it roared over the parking lot on its VTOL engines, and its blunt nose turned towards the oncoming horde behind Matt. “King Fisher on station, tally ho.” A gout of fire erupted from the Skyranger’s nose, followed by a visible spray of spent shell casings raining down to the street. Matt could feel a few of them bounce off his helmet and armor as he sprinted towards Big Sky.

C’mon, you’re almost there, Matt told himself as the distance closed, but with every step his legs and arms felt more and more like lead blocks. To make things worse each breath caused a spike of pain in his chest. His free hand rubbed his chest and it came away wet, and Matt spared a glance down at his palm. “Oh,” was all he was able to say before collapsing to the pavement.

“Shit, Harris is down!” Matt heard someone say, though they sounded far away, “Come on, we’re at the Skyranger, Matt. Stay with me, stay with me!” He tried, he really tried to stay with whoever was talking, but it seemed like a much better idea to go to sleep.



(Documented by Lt Payne)

Author's Note:

Supplemental Information:

The Council: A multinational organization that funds and directs the XCOM project in its strategic goals. While mostly uninvolved with the day-to-day operations of XCOM, their contributions ensure the smooth operations of the organization. Among their duties involves providing the vast majority of the income that keeps the organization running, scouting and procuring new personnel as well as managing political fall-out from operations. Any request forwarded by the council is expected to be treated as the highest priority.

Skyrangers: Skyrangers are supersonic troop and cargo carriers with stealth and VTOL capability to enable deployment of XCOM personnel anywhere in the world in a short amount of time with a minimal amount of exposure to local civilian or military personnel. Once troops are deployed, Skyrangers provide overwatch for the operation and close air support if necessary.

Operational Doctrine: XCOM deploys troops in the field via Skyrangers in squads of 6 to 8 soldiers. Squad callsign is 'Strike' followed by number. Deployed Strike teams number from 1 to 9, and in the unlikely event that more than nine squads are deployed, letters are used for the 10th squad and onward. Squad makeup can be tailored to the operation but standard squad makeup consists of four riflemen and four specialists. Specialist roles include (but are not limited to) heavy weapons, marksmen and demolitions experts.

SHIV: Super Heavy Infantry Vehicle. A remote control weapons platform designed to provide fire support for field operations. Armed with a machine gun and armor plate, it is capable of providing significant amounts of firepower to any squad without putting the soldiers of the squad at risk. SHIVs are also designed as a 'hard counter' to aliens with the potential for mind control or mental attacks.

Chryssalid Implantation: While the appearance and bloodthirsty behavior of Chryssalids is reason enough to fear them, it's their method of reproduction that inspires terror in the most hardened soldier. Chryssalids implant an egg in critically wounded or freshly killed victims that assumes control of their body while leeching nutrients from their bodies. Within fifteen seconds of implantation the victim becomes hostile to other human beings and will attempt violence against anyone who comes near. Within forty five seconds the implanted egg has matured into a juvenile Chryssalid which then violently erupts from the body of the victim.

Thin Man: The 'Thin Man' is an alien infiltrator designed to mimic the appearance of a caucasian human male wearing a blue suit and gold-rimmed glasses. Eyewitnesses to infiltration often describe feeling uneasy around Thin Men, that they felt something was 'off' about them but were not able to place the source of that unease. Upon discovery of their nature, Thin Men display extreme acrobatic ability combined with a tremendous vertical leap which allows them to seek the high ground in almost every battle. Their most loathed ability is tied to their reptilian nature; they carry within them a liquid poison that becomes an aerosol upon contact with the open air. Thus far this poison penetrates all forms of air filtration and proves fatal within hours if not treated immediately.