• Published 25th Jan 2018
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XCOM: Ranger - Wanderer D



Sunset Shimmer escapes Equestria... with unforeseen consequences.

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Chapter 160: Commitment

Ranger

Chapter 160: Commitment

By Wanderer D

Many things ran through Lily Shen's mind as the group made their way safely to the side of the factory and followed along the wall, hugging it tight to avoid detection by any cameras Julian might've set out despite AppleSeed's (Or was it Apple Bloom's?) assurances that there were none.

Her father's life had been dedicated to the Avenger ever since they had managed to escape ADVENT, and her father had a single-minded focus when it came to that, ignoring every other project and knowledge they had gathered from before the war to concentrate fully on bringing XCOM's new mobile base to full functionality.

She was often asked, by the troops or other Engineers, how it was possible that all the knowledge from their previous experiments had been lost. And it was a long list; armors like the ones they had found in the old XCOM base, laser weaponry, MELD, Plasma Grenades…

It was a staggering amount of information lost, and it was almost as frustrating to her as it was for them to find out they had all that and that there had been no time spent on recuperating it. However, the Avenger was no easy project.

Their understanding of Alien Alloys was… good, but not as thorough as it could have been. As such, many of the repairs needed to be done for the Avenger had to rely on the odd Engineer they managed to liberate from ADVENT, and their own knowledge of that was sketchy.

The Avenger was definitely a marvel of technology, but there was a reason it couldn't stand up to a fight against Alien battleships. It wasn't armed, it didn't have all the things that made the alien vessels so versatile.

It was an amalgam of human and alien technology and her father had poured all his energy into making it not only functional, but also untrackable by ADVENT's and modern technology in general. That wasn't easily achieved. It had taken him years and by the time the Avenger was done and he could focus on something else… his body had finally given up.

It had fallen onto her, with incomplete references, files… only things her father had told her about this and that project. Frankly, the only things left from old XCOM were the medikits and old, basic armors.

They had to start from scratch. The laser weaponry they had left… the odd gun, mostly, was ineffective against ADVENT armor. The new alloy plating they used was refractive, any sort of light-based weaponry would basically just reflect, and they didn't have the means to make something as powerful as the Cyberdisk's lasers, without any references.

As much as she had distrusted Tygan at the beginning, it had been thanks to him that they had so many breakthroughs. Now, things were all over the place with projects, and outside herself, the engineers in the ship were mostly technicians… capable people for sure, but unable to invent and improve without her direct input.

To say that Twilight's experiments on her GREMLIN had been a breath of fresh air would be an understatement, even if they sometimes went sideways. But now… things were different.

If the commander was to be believed, Scootaloo was an ADVENT expert on spaceship construction. And Apple Bloom herself—if it was really her and not an AI—was a recognized expert in Engineering as well.

As silly as it was… she wondered if she could convince Chrysalis to let those two work with her. Form her own team of sorts and maybe start that Foundry program of her own. Replicating diagrams was fine for mass production, but if they wanted to make some of Sunset's and Twilight's and hell, her own designs happen… she needed more than bodies.

She needed experts. Her father's SPARK Project was certainly a new gift for XCOM and herself… but it had unwittingly given her a chance to expand beyond even what she had originally thought she could… and she aimed to make good on that chance.

SPARK itself opened many, many opportunities. If it was a unit that could be produced quickly enough, XCOM's losses could cut as well. Dangerous missions where chrysalids were a known factor would be less so, without the risk of XCOM's soldiers being poisoned or turned into egg sacks.

Perhaps there would even be missions where humans could simply not go. SPARK could potentially assist there. Whatever the possibilities, she would make sure her father's designs were put to good use. His legacy would only help humanity.

Which brought up the question of what to do with Julian. On one hand, she understood… the frustration and insecurity of being left alone, but at the same time, she couldn't justify his murder of so many civilians, or the revelation that he had tried to get Sunset and Jane killed to cover his existence, or—if Apple Bloom was right—his attempted murder of the Engineer.

Julian had been tortured in a way by ADVENT… if what Sunset said was true, he had been rendered into pieces and patched together again… she wondered if that's when things had gone wrong.

Lily grimaced.

Every time that the Elders touched something, it became corrupted, just like the Sirens had become the monsters that they were today; how by all accounts all the aliens they fought had been individual species with their own cultures and evolutions before they were subjugated, experimented on and then simply used as troopers... or how places of healing were fronts for experimentation on humans… how new cities were little more than gilded prisons where disagreeing with the Elders was akin to treason and deserving of execution.

This world hadn't been perfect before the arrival of the Elders... but it had at least been free. Despots and tyrants and terrorists… they were Earth's problem and she had no doubt that humanity would succeed in surpassing them in the end.

Of course that was all in the past. Now it was time for action, and to bring the end of the Elder's rule.

But what to do about Julian? They couldn't leave him unchecked. Despite everything, he was a powerful entity to deal with, and his actions couldn't go without consequences.

It also didn't help that he had been created by her father… in a way, all those deaths were on her family… and even if she told herself that ADVENT was responsible for turning Julian into a monster, she couldn't really be sure… and it didn't mean it wasn't a result of her father's creations.

Ironic, that his wish to protect humanity had ended up in this.

"Here it is."

Ember's voice brought Lily back from her musings. She had simply followed the others, stopped when they stopped and moved when they did, lost in thought, but now that they were here, there was no more sinking into memories as a distraction.

She took a deep breath. "Alright… so Apple Bloom is currently offline and Scootaloo is currently working in there… we need to get her and SPARK and Apple Bloom's core out in one piece… and figure out what to do with Julian."

Security growled. "If he's responsible for all those deaths we need to make sure he goes down once and for all."

"But the question is how," Coyote asked, "I don't know if you remember, but he's not one. He's three. And he waded into a sea of plasma and explosions like it was nothing. And it's still going."

"We'll figure something out," Lily said, "Let's secure the assets first."

"Right," Ember said, nodding. "The door is unlocked, as Apple Bloom promised. Dragon, we have our orders, let's go."

Following the others, Lily cast one last glance in the direction of the city before silently making her way inside.

Julian's attention was on the battle in front of him. While he was limited inside the three bodies, it was offset by the sheer control he had over the MECs that came into the battlefield, and the power of his bodies.

Even now, as more and more powerful aliens arrived to battle him in the Elder's name, he still had the upper hand, as humans said.

As his blast obliterated a small group of Andromedons, Julian hijacked ther systems and turned them around to fight one of the other Sectopods he hadn't been able to hack earlier.

One of his bodies was under heavy fire, but it would be fine… the cannons from the factory were providing razing fire as well, eliminating all nearby units that worked against him. He couldn't see or sense Lily right now, but with the battle taking place, it was no surprise she and her team had hidden away.

No matter.

Soon they would meet... and they had much to discuss.

o.0.o End Chapter 160 o.0.o

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