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



Sunset Shimmer escapes Equestria... with unforeseen consequences.

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Chapter 210: Exasperated

Ranger

Chapter 210: Exasperated

By Wanderer D

Twenty Years Ago

Their run through the large room before they had reached the end of the lower level had accounted for the deaths of four more chryssalids, six mutons, a mechtoid, and two more floaters.

"Gah!" Sunset growled, her psychic power slamming the last of the floaters onto a wall with such force that it exploded in a mix of metal and meat with a shrill cry. Around her the others staggered and regained their composure from the constant battling.

It seemed never-ending. And their cries… it got to her nerves.

That was one of the things about the aliens. Their cries when they died. It was never a cry of fear, or a cry of pain, or even relief in the case of the obviously injured ones. It was a cry of anger. Every. Time.

Even EXALT soldiers cried out in pain if they got shot before getting angry. The aliens… they were unable to do so. It was all anger. All purpose. Physical pain didn't make them react the way it would anything else.

Even Vahlen's subjects were angry when she dragged information out of their minds with her experiments. Not scared or intimidated. One second they were suspiciously calm, then suddenly they were violent. Reactive, regardless of what you did that didn't knock them unconscious or outright kill them.

Only one alien had shown anything other than anger, and that had been the Ethereal she herself had captured. Even when her own unaided power was more than a match for it, it had exuded contempt up until Vahlen had used her machines to extract information out of it.

It was surreal how, in her visions, she had seen her young self fighting alongside aliens.

Even though their enemies were still the Ethereals, there was choice in the future, and it was a result of this mission. It was in part the reason she was here. In taking down their leader, not only would she help Earth survive… humans wouldn't become creatures of anger and violence unable to think for themselves or make peace.

Even aliens would be affected.

"Let's go," she said, taking a deep, calming breath. "We can't stop. Everyone's future depends on us."

Next to her, ever faithful Zhang grimaced as he finished bandaging his arm.

It was a minor wound, really. But painful, she knew. It stung like hell. She could feel it.

Lionel groaned, pushing himself away from the wall, while Irvine—who had slid down to sit on the floor—forced himself to stand. Elaine rolled her shoulders and cracked her neck.

They had stopped for a rest just below the next level up, right next to the Alien warp fields that would transport them up there.

"What do you feel, Colonel?"

"Plenty of enemies…" Sunset said, blocking off the voices. I sense more sectoid commanders and… mutons. No chryssalids for now but…"

"Yeah… we know," Lionel said, his hand going up to Bor's tags.

The alien "elevator" was an experience all to itself. You stepped into a blue, glowing field that suddenly pulled you up and deposited you up in the next floor in seconds, but there was no additional acceleration you had to fight when you got there.

Vahlen had once explained it had to do with the aliens manipulation of gravity—presumably the same technology which allowed for this monstrosity of a ship to simply float there, immobile without any thrusters they could see.

The upper level they had reached had three building-like structures just past the elevator, with two paths between them. Roughly three stories high, they appeared to be look-out spots of some sort.

Perfect for snipers to nest.

As soon as Irvine was there, she pointed at the one to her right and he nodded, while made her way to the one on the left.

The moment she passed the path on the left, however, she heard the tell-tale sound of massive mechanical feet slamming down on the surface.

"Sectopod! Take cover!"

She barely managed to make it to the corner of the building and jump to safety before a red ray of energy sliced right through where she had been.

Sectopod.

Once, some time ago, she had dreamed she had been sitting on top of one of the things, facing the actual sunset. At the time, the fantasy had been kind of amusing, and Chrysalis had even laughed when she told her about it.

But, that fantasy was less appealing while in actual combat… and when you were inside a giant metal cage, floating above the ocean, surrounded by enemies on all levels, and just when you thought you had gotten past the worst part…

...they proved you wrong. She dared look and felt her heart sink. Not one. Three. The other two hadn't engaged quite yet.

Lionel, Elaine and Zhang had pressed their backs against the middle building, but it wouldn't do much good. They needed to act fast.

She signaled them to stay put and climbed up the side of the building, missing her grappling hook already.

"We can let them live, young one." The Ethereal's voice was a whispering, grating, reminder that they would take any advantage to convince her to quit. Either they could see the future and knew they couldn't escape this one… or they were just playing with her.

"Surrender child…"

"For the last time…" Sunset hissed.

Present Day

"What's going on?!" Central asked as the lights in the room flickered. The computer screens glitched, going to static before turning off for just a second… then they all lit up, with a clearly pissed Sunset Shimmer, sniper rifle hanging from her shoulder and in her psi armor.

The cameras were looking down on her, exactly as the vision they were seeing from the Commander.

"Princess?!" Central asked, turning to stare at Luna and the Commander, but both were frozen in place, eyes wide and glowing.

"Central, what do we do?" Shen asked.

"I—"

"We feel you tire, child. Why fight us? You have proven yourself worthy. You have proven your race worthy. Join us. Let us exalt you. Let us transform you into something new." the voice sounded like some sort of echo from his nightmares.

"FUCK OFF!" Sunset shouted from the screen. "I'm tired of you stupid assholes trying to use me! I'm tired of you killing off humanity for whatever experiment you have in mind! We will never surrender! We will never bow to you! I'm never going to join your side!"

"You cannot win. Surrender. Do it for your people. No more suffering. We will—"

"You will fail! You won't enslave humanity!" Sunset retorted. "You will do nothing! I will not only stop you from controlling us! I will break your hold over everything you take so much condescending pride in controlling!"

The group stared, baffled, at the screen as the horrifying, whispering voice replied Sunset's challenging cry.

"We have traveled the universe. Destroyed and subjugated untold cultures. Taken the strongest, most resilient species we have encountered. Improving them. All for the greater cause. If you will not bow, child… you have already proven the potential of your species. You are disposable."

Sunset's eyes never wavered as she took her sniper rifle and shot the nearest Sectopod, rolling down to avoid the return fire. They could still hear her reply. "I'm taking you down. And the universe will be better for it. Chrysalis and Central… Charles and Moira… the other me. They will finish what we start here. You won't turn humanity into mindless beasts… I don't care what your 'greater good' is! Right now… you answer to me!"

There was a pause.

"So be it."

Several shots flew past Sunset, others exploding against her cover, but despite the barrage, Sunset grinned, picking out her player from her pocket.

"Let's see how you like this one..."

She hit play.

o.0.o End Chapter 210 o.0.o

Author's Note:

Getting back on track is always more difficult than I anticipated. Thank you for your patience!

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