The XCOM Saga, epilogue

Karla,

I apologize for the emotional distress my departure likely caused you and the team. If I had any less faith in our friends — or any less urgency about the task before me — I would have stayed behind to see everything through to the end.

Several months ago, I was possessed by an alien prophet. It was a traumatic event that lacks any parallel I can describe. However, it wasn’t that event that drove me down this path, but rather the realizations that came thereafter. XCOM wasn’t the solution to an alien invasion; it was the gateway for one. And by the time I realized it, the war was already lost.

A year ago, we were tasked with facing down an alien menace. By the end of the project, our science and engineering teams had over 400 of the brightest minds our race could offer, but our combat squad consisted of just 16 people, some of which had never fired a gun before. We were issued just one landing craft, and even when fully ugpraded, it could only carry six of us into a mission. At the time, I thought it was a frustrating reality created by an incompetent bureaucracy, but eventually I realized it was all quite intentional.

An alien race with so much technology, such vast intellect, limitless resources, and tendrils of corruption reaching into every level of our society could have just taken whatever they wanted from us. But they didn’t. Instead, they just harassed us with small craft, manned by minimal crews. They prodded and spooked our citizens, but always kept holding back. It was resistance, carefully measured to just keep frightening us into action. And after each battle, we walked away with insufficient resources to feel secure, but always enough to internalize some new alien technology. They were like cursed gifts that we blindly accepted in hopes of winning a war the aliens weren’t genuinely fighting.

It wasn’t long into the project before I noticed a trend in the alien autopsies. We saw multiple races that didn’t originate from a single world. Yet each of them had been modified through genetic engineering and implantation to be something new. Then I saw the inside of an alien saucer. There sat vats, filled with half-completed experiments on our own race. That’s the bigger picture. We were never meant to be conquered; we were meant to be changed. These same abductors likely held grays and hulks in the vats that now hold human beings.

When countless veiled and nonsensical missions came from the chairman, I knew something was amiss, but I felt that defeating the aliens was worth overlooking his indulgences. Dr. Vahlen kept insisting we change ourselves to be more like the aliens, and slowly the situation evolved until it really was our only way forward. We always had just enough alien technology to take one more, tiny step in that direction. We had sufficient scientists to unlock alien secrets, sufficient engineers to build them, and yet so few troops that we felt those advances were the only way to win. We created the very “solution” the aliens had been grasping for all along. We were like a group of lab rats, fighting to keep the doctors away as we shocked ourselves to death, exactly as they’d intended from the start.

The day we completed our research into transhumanism, we accomplished the aliens’ mission. And even if we had failed somewhere along the way, all of the technology we’d sold to member states to keep up our meager budget afloat meant someone else would do it eventually.

That’s entirely too complex to be coincidence. We were on their script, and the chairman was the director of the play. We can’t save the human race, because it’s already going extinct. Whether it’s from a desire to live longer or transcend human intellect and physique, we will end our species.

I know the team will defeat whatever is on board that giant alien ship. It’s been part of the script from the start. I’m sure they’ll put up a plausible fight, but you won’t see the millions of soldiers and thousands of attack craft that vessel should be carrying. But while you’re doing that, I’m going to take them a little off script. Maybe the age of humanity is over, but I’ll be damned if we become slaves in whatever happens next. And to guarantee that, I have to kill the puppet masters that have manipulated us from the start.

I got the chairman to begin sending messages via email, because it allowed me to track him over time. And then our satellites and hyperwave systems — gifts from the aliens I doubt he expected us to use this way — confirmed my work. In fact, I’m just down the street from the real XCOM headquarters. I’m going to give this letter to Dan Krenzke, so he can take it back to you. If you’re getting this by mail, then I suppose that means he followed me. Regardless, I’m headed inside to kill the faceless coward that’s been the real enemy this entire time. Whether he’s working for the aliens or just wanted this outcome for his own reasons, he will die by my hands. What happens to me thereafter doesn’t matter. It’s not victory, but at least it’s a defeat we designed.

Should I survive, I have to stay gone for a while. I need a quiet place to heal. Someplace very far away. I don’t know if the world will see me as a hero, murderer, or deserter, but I don’t care for the attention any of those will draw…particularly when the only phrase that really describes me is “useful idiot”. Just know that I love you very much, and I’ll be back as soon as I can. Failing that, I have no doubt God will help you find peace, just as He’s helping Beth.

Vigilo. Confido.
We are ever watchful.
We are ever relied upon.

If only I knew what that meant now.

Yours always,

Dan

Comments (10)

El Corsario NegroNovember 18th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Thank you so much, I really enjoyed the story.

As much as the original “X-Com Saga” of so much years ago (http://www.xcomufo.com/stories/xcom1.html).

Vigilo. Confido.

MintskittleNovember 18th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

And so ends the tale of the fall of humanity. It’s rather ingenious, isn’t it? Either way, win or lose, we become something the aliens have use of. We fail to drive them back, we become just another species to be used as fodder for the next invasion. We succeed, and we become their greatest creation.

Anyways, that was a magnificent read. I don’t know if you’d want to make a series out doing Let’s Plays, But I certainly wouldn’t say no to reading them.

MintskittleNovember 18th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Almost forgot, If we’re plugging other X-Com Let’s Plays, may as well plug the Let’s Play Archives and their playthroughs, where they make a single cohesive narrative out of all the old X-Com games.

http://lparchive.org/

IanNovember 18th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Yes, very good. Would definitely like a bonus episode about it.

DanielNovember 18th, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I read the whole tale with fascination. Great job, guys and gals!

NickNovember 18th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed the story and would like to encourage narrations such as this in the future.

Sgt Daniel KrenzkeNovember 20th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I hate hand waving. Check your PM Messages. ;)

PedroDecember 1st, 2012 at 1:13 pm

OMG…I suspected but this just confirmed, probably why I’m never gonna be a police detective LOL. I never even thought about it the way it was just explained. I was too wrapped up trying to defeat the aliens to even think about the possible ramifications of my actions beyond what was happening outside of X-COM…or should I say the alien ascension project. HA, hence the term x-com PROJECT. DAMN…I was so blind. I feel like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes when he rides up on the destroyed Statue of Liberty. DAMN THEM ALL TO HELL!

On a lighter note Thanks so very much for this narrative and to all the contributers. I have never enjoyed any forum read quite as much as this one. Great job to all, but especially to you Dan. Muchas Gracias!

John OAugust 23rd, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I had to stop at episode 30 to finish my own playthrough. The “boss fight” *was* too easy, even the locusts.

Excellent narrative, especially this last letter. I’ve been inspired to mimic this idea. Keep up the great work.

DanAugust 27th, 2013 at 11:31 am

I’m glad you enjoyed it! One of these days, I might continue the story using an old copy of XCOM: Apocalypse. Though there’s apparently some DLC on the way, so I might be able to continue the story within the same game.

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