X-COM: Eulogy

Part IV

The other Cydonia veterans back at the Avenger had refaced their own memories back at the cauldron and in space. But the nine soldiers now standing on the inner chamber that once had housed the master alien they had tasted Death here and on the corridors leading to the room. Only Yusuf didn't show the mixture of awe and grimness on their faces as the group of men moved over the blue chairs that littered the place in silent rows facing the podium where the throne of the devil was located. King and other soldiers had found it amazing to see how the place hadn't changed since the last time he had stepped in here.

He had been there on the chamber to help carrying out the bodies of those fallen there. They left the bodies of the Ethereals at the locations where they had fallen together with the burnt remains of the master alien at the end of the room. Moving to the podium King climbed to its top and looked downwards. The Martian atmosphere had desecrated the biological remains that now where nothing more than veins of a brown and dry material that crumbed under his armored boots. "Die like the rest, sucker". Speaking from behind him Jones moved his hand over the surface and tried to pick a piece of the brown material but it crumpled on his fingers and the specks of dust felt back into the podium.

"Some bad karma there, Jones". Rodriguez had also come by and was looking at the remains of the huge alien. He wasn't the only one as several of the soldiers had also come close and were looking at the elevated podium with a mixture of curiosity and revulsion through the visual lenses built into the power suits. Between them a figure was also looking but unlike them his face was visible, although it was locked in thought. Yusuf had spend the best part of his adult life gathering the few data related to the Brain to try to answer the question of what that thing was and how it ever ended up here on Mars. Unfortunately the aliens captured had not revealed anything substantial and the aliens kept no records on the matter, which made the effort an impossible task at beginning. There were two opposing theories, one defending that most likely it had been the product of the aliens master genetic engineering skills upon a species that they must have encountered and put on their service. But there was also another intriguing possibility, first put forward by him: that the Brain species had taken over the Starspawn with its immense mental powers and had molded it to its proposes. That had caught the attention of the parties he was working with, which had collaborated with the aliens on the Alien War so that they could infiltrate the Starspawn and ensure human survival and dominance on the future. Knowing just how that take-over had occurred would greatly ensure the keepers's work and humankind as a whole.

Moving past Rodriguez, Yusuf brought out his camera and started working. The sergeant ignored him. The sooner the scientist was done the better since he and Jones would then stay behind since still have a last job to do using the power tools they had brought along on their backpacks.

**********

"Commander, I have the latest figures on the fuel situation. Clark noticed Boronin's red eyes and remembering his own haggard face wondered how the commander was pulling it after restless weeks combing through the area around Cydonia their search. His jumpsuit was open and the white undershirt was crumpled and dirty but he didn't mind because everyone else onboard the Valiant had the same laundry problems. Although the air was being continuously recycled the strict restrictions regarding the water supplies imposed on the last days had removed any possibility of water showers until they went back to Earth. They still had the chemical shower sponges but those were even worse since a continuous use would irritate the skin and bring rash. All of the soldiers on board had restrained from using them remembering their experiences at the return from Mars seven years ago but his wife and the two other scientists had taken into using them.

Boronin's dark hair was starting to have white flakes on it, Clark noticed as the older officer turned from his visiscreen to face him. "Is there anything new since the last report?" The commander knew the answer and dismissed Clark as he started speaking. "Sir, as captain of this vessel I feel I must report again that we are risking never going back to Earth. We'll be dead in space by the time we get there".

"Thank you Colonel. Acknowledged and dismissed". Usually that had been enough for Clark to turn around and go back to his business but he had already decided that this would be the time to press the subject. "Sir, I'm sorry but as an officer I must ask the commander to consider your decision. We've already reached the safety margin, sir. Now we are risking never getting back to Earth if something delays us on the trip back. And if we don't find Elerium we'll be left stranded here on the planet".

Taking a paternal role Boronin curled his lips to tell Clark that he had already considered that. "Thank you for the reminder Colonel. Just keep doing your duty like you have until here and we'll be fine". For the first time Clark started doubting the older man's wisdom and that frightened him.

**********

When Eva and the soldiers had come back from another mission she found Clark waiting for her by the airlock as always. A hiss told her that air was being pumped into the small chamber and a few seconds later Clark opened the door and she stepped inside the bay.

"Hey, how's it going? Any luck this time?" Clark unfastened the clamps on her helmet and helped Johannes remove it. She looked at the sensor she was holding and nearly threw it down on the floor. "Nothing. Again".

"I'm sure you're doing your best, Eve". He pronounced the last vowel of her name into an elongated eh sound. "It is not enough Ron. The background radiation simply throws in too much interference to get proper readings". Unlike Earth, Mars didn't have its own magnetic field to protect the planet from the ion and plasma cloud that spread through the system fueled by the nuclear processes ongoing at the Sun. Earth's magnetosphere was the result of the liquid iron and nickel core of the planet that essentially acted as a huge magnet and gave Earth its magnetic poles. Mars had indications that once it had a magnetic field but now it was almost gone. Unzipping the legs and arms she when to remove them as Clark move to get her backpack. Her next words stopped him cold. "We need to get airborne. We need to get altitude scans. It was pointless on the first to be looking for Elerium here. The soldiers have already brought back whatever was left on this ruins and the only reason we are still digging around is because of Yusuf's survey of the ruins and Dr. Weiss's excitement with the Martian moss he has just discovered".

Slowly moving back towards her he simply spoke. "We might not be able to even get back to Earth at this rate". Shock was patent on her face but he quickly reassured her. "For now we are OK, don't worry. But this extended stay is really worrying me. I trust that the commander knows what he is doing because we never made any calculations before. We never thought we'd need them". She quickly picked that he had done them by now and asked. "How much more?"

His eyes flashed from one side to another. "Three days maximum. I would say four but Seymour says we can't risk that much and in this case I prefer to be safe".

"So, what happens if we extend that deadline?"

"We're trapped here until we find Elerium. If we use all of the fuel for the trip back instead for life-support and shut down most unessential systems on the ship we can hang here for an additional month".

"One extra month". The hidden implication kept nagging at her. "And if we don't succeed?"

"If anyone ever gets back here from Earth they get to bury our bones". He shook his head in frustration. "I don't know what to do, Eve, neither does Greg. He doesn't want to be left to die on this planet after surviving it on the first time. And I agree with him. I want to get back and leave this business and place once and for all: the aliens are dead for good".

For the first time in weeks Johannes smiled, not the thin peek she would give but a full grin and both rested their foreheads on one another. "I'm with you". Johannes voice was calm. "Even a month wouldn't help much. And even if we found it I wonder if it would be of any good". Looking around to make sure that they weren't being overheard by any of the other humans on board she added. "The scientific branch is getting booted also".

Clark's voice showed shock and anger. "What? I don't believe it!"

"Commander Boronin told me that they are going to deactivate Mother One and replace the command facilities by a smaller one at the Pentagon in Washington. He expects that soon all advanced aircraft will be mothballed for lack of Elerium and unless the aliens reappear we'll be disbanded in a few years. He's fighting it of course but more and more of our assets are leaving. People like you….and me".

"You've decided on the offer he made you for Ocean Base One?" Ocean Base One was the center of all underwater recovery operations of crashed UFOs. Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean it was a basically a big floating modular facility that had been originally put together as temporary measure until more proper installations could be designed and built. The facility was unique on the condition that it was the only force outside the navies of US, UK, China, France and the factions that had emerged of the former Russian Federation that operated nuclear submarines to conduct some of its operations.

"Yes… I'm going to refuse it. I've heard of the working conditions there and after the flight here I've decided I just don't want to be on that situation. Besides there's little I could to there. They already know enough about Elerium to detect it and their research efforts are turned into more practical things concerning the sea. And as you know, although there isn't much money around for scientific research nowadays, there isn't any university that would refuse to have me on their staff".

"You sure about this hon? You've been working here for a lot of time. I know it bothers you that we have to live apart most of the time but we could find a way…" She caressed his cheek feeling the unshaven skin. "I know. But the times are different now. Less and less people care learning about the aliens and their technology and there are still a lot of good researchers back at X-COM. I will be missed but they will get along without me fine. Plus, I've really decided that I want to do something different. You know?" She looked around and embraced him. "Forget about this. We've done our share already. I want to live a real life now, away from this coldness. I've endured it because I felt I had to but not anymore".

He smiled at her and they kissed briefly. Then she turned and lean on his chest while Clark held her in his arms. "So what are we going to do then?"

"You could leave the military you know? I seem to recall some aerospace companies have approached you".

"You have stopped trying to convert me into a pacifist haven't you?" His mocking tones made her slip from his embrace and pinch him on the stomach. "Stop. You know it doesn't really matter to me anymore. It's just….I want to settle down and I want you to be around, not locked into some Pentagon office all the time as a general".

"They haven't made me a general yet".

"You know it is just a matter of time. But I think a colonel will be as capable as general to be a father". He turned serious until he found the confirmation of her words in Johannes' blue eyes. "Damn, you are serious, aren't you?"

*********

As his power suit chirped a warning at him Boronin checked the level of his own remaining fuel. They had been for hours scouting the Utopia Planitia region and checking locations that orbital photographs had shown to be of probable artificial construction after being checked for geometric, non-fractal patterns. They only thing they had found so far on the dust blown plain were rocks and mesas that had been carved by the wind.

The noise told him that his E-115 level had dropped to fifty percent but that what worried him was the condition of his carbon dioxide filters. The X-COM engineers that had designed them had followed the initial requirements that they should be able to perform for weeks before needing to replace the spent fuel Elerium but the filters that removed the carbon dioxide required more frequent replacements.

They would have to head back to the Valiant since their fuel reserves were nearly approaching a dangerous level. Their scavenging of the small portions of Elerium from ammo clips and other small power sources had allowed them to extend their stay for a couple more days but now they needed to departure in the following day unless they wanted to risk continuing the search until finding more of the fuel. They had already been on the planet for more than two weeks combing the Cydonia and starting to work on the areas nearby but so far they had negligible results to show. And yesterday ago the order of Council had arrived, a fateful message that stayed: "We are displeased with your lack of results. Take all necessary measures to achieve your objectives". He had complied with the order but had not yet relayed it to the troops. Clark and Seymour had already been giving him warnings on the dangerously low Elerium levels of the Avenger. The security margin needed to get back to Earth had started to decrease and Boronin knew that they were starting to be nervous about the situation although they had wisely refrained from any comments on the matter to him. He checked the data   himself daily and they would have reached the same conclusions as him by now. The soldiers and the scientists were going through extremes on the search, taking only four- hour rest periods on the 26-hour Martian day but it was necessary even if he had to drive them to pure exhaustion. We can't fail on this.

**********

When Boronin's squad went back to the Valiant and unsuited their armor he found Johannes waiting for his return but he dismissed her as he moved to remove his power suit. It was only after he was back into his dark gray fatigues that he finally acknowledged her in a tired voice. "What do you want doctor?"

"Commander Boronin, as leading science officer of this mission I am counseling you to initiate the launch preparations". She raised her voice to make sure that all personnel inside the cargo bay would hear her. "By tomorrow we won't be able to get back to Earth".

All conversations suddenly stopped as Boronin replied. "We're not leaving this planet until I say so! The Council has given us orders! If we don't find any Elerium than it is pointless to go back".

"Commander, I have no wish to die on this planet! What you are ordering is insane! There's nothing left for us on Mars. We're only here because of the Council's greed!"

"Your personal opinions regarding the Council, and the military in general, are well known by all of us doctor. However they are completely out of line with the question here. X-COM depends on this".

"I will not follow mad orders…"

Boronin nearly leapt forward and Clark wondered if he would have to step between his commander and his wife to defuse the situation as he noticed that she was getting as wired as a cat. "That is enough doctor! Sergeant Hopkins!"

The Afro-American jumped into attention. "Yes Commander!"

"Put Dr. Johannes under arrest for mutiny". A silence descended on the dozen or so individuals that were standing on the deck of the cargo bay surrounding Boronin and the scientist. Unsure of what he had heard Hopkins brow' tightened as he looked at both of them wondering what had just happened. "How sir?

"Find a way sergeant. I'll make sure that she has a fair trial when we get back on Earth and that we follow our orders". He screened both Clark and Yusuf. "Now any more objections?"

Johannes broke the stance. "You can't have me imprisoned…" Boronin's steely eyes made her stop. "I already have doctor. You are under military command and have just disregarded my orders. I'll report this back to the Council at once and I'm sure that they will support my actions".

Looking at both Clark still couldn't believe what had just taken place. He wanted to reverse the situation but knew that Boronin could also order him to be placed under arrest. "Commander…"

Boronin seemed to be already waiting since he had turned towards Clark as he was speaking. The wrinkles around his eyes told of his physical exhaustion as his eyes tried to focus on Clark. "Yes, Colonel?" The low acknowledgement rumbled across the bay.

"Sir, I don't want to undermine your authority…."

"You better not Colonel Clark or Major Seymour will have to drive this craft without you".

"No sir. But it is my duty as officer in charge of this craft to remind you of our fuel status. Discovery of additional Elerium supplies will soon become essential to ensure our survival". None of the soldiers moved at that mention but Johannes stirred while Yusuf tried to dismiss the allegation. "Colonel, your own calculations show that our supplies ought to last two more weeks. That should be enough time to discover this elusive Elerium supply".

Clark gave a brief look at Johannes before turning back to Yusuf. "Probably, if my wife was willing to continue the research and I believe she would be responsible enough to put her feelings aside and help us. But, sir". Boronin was blinking his eyes while Clark moved back to him. "What about the men?"

Captain White instantly replied. "We are completely at the Commander's orders, Colonel. Don't worry us". Clark shook his head. "That's not what I meant, sir. Look at White and the others: do they deserve to die here?

For a moment Boronin froze. "They all know the risks…"

"And we all fought a war that no one expected to live through! Sir, you are right to believe that X-COM will disappear if we don't find Elerium but I ask you to think what will happen even if we find the damn thing! And I'm sure Dr. Yusuf knows it also! The aliens are gone and we are simply curiosities of a lost era. No one ever cares about the military in peace. You know that!"

By saying that Clark knew that he had stepped way over the line and most likely he would join his wife, either in imprisonment back to Earth or dying on Mars, but he trusted he knew enough of Boronin to judge to himself that he had done the right thing. The Commander's next words weren't what he feared but they weren't also what he expected. "Colonel, what do you propose to do? Just fly back and head into retirement, leaving Earth without a force capable of fighting the aliens again?"

"No sir. To give us all a choice. All of us already took tremendous risks when we joined X-COM. Some died by chance, others by choice like Commander Illyuschenko or my flight mate but we all died with a propose. To die here now is pointless. If the aliens ever get back the only chance we have is if we go back and keep living our lives and sharing what we know with others. We don't know if the aliens will ever come back and we probably will be dead by then. But we must ensure that we simply won't be buried on the dust of this planet with no reason!"

Everyone on the cargo bay seemed to consider those words but Boronin only flinched for a second before Yusuf immediately started replying. "Commander, despite the Colonel's eloquent rhetoric we must get this over and go back to our mission. After all Commander, both the dead and the living of this unit respond to the Council don't they?"

To the dead and the living.

All of the sudden Boronin felt into attention as the words touched old and painful memories. He couldn't tell if Yusuf knew the meaning of those words although Hopkins shifted his head uncomfortably and a few other soldiers also recognized old post-battle salute that the X-COM Russian team made at the conclusion of every mission. But to Boronin the recognition went further than that, to the weeks before they had launched from Earth, to an unexpected meeting that had taken place in Geneva when he had flown there to discuss the final aspects of the mission with the Council of Funding Nations. He had come down to the lobby of the hotel after he had received a polite request from the front desk to come down and had met a former X-COM officer there who had then asked him to join his association on something that they would like to propose him. After finally consenting after five minutes of determined invitations and assurances of his safety he had stepped out of the hotel and boarded a parked limousine and had found another familiar figure already inside. After a quick explanation of their proposal he had considered the whole idea insane and pointless, even though he had agreed with their arguments of the hopelessness of the Council. But, as he was brought back, the man named Williams had simply said. "Commander, we must preserve the memory of dead and the living. I trust you'll do the right decision".

Thinking back, Boronin wondered how possibly the man could know so much of what had happened on Mars before their return to the planet. Like he had claimed there was no organized alien presence left on the Mars and so far they had failed to encounter a single alien besides the incident at the Pyramid. So much was lost Dmitri Stepanovitch. But Earth has survived like you told me before you stayed behind. And we will live even without Elerium: we have made it before.

"Commander?" White was looking worried at him but he turned to Clark instead. "Colonel, I've just reconsidered Dr. Johannes' arguments again and changed my mind. There's no point in remaining here on the planet and risking our survival. Please start the preparations to get back to Earth and if it's safe include a last scan of the planet before we leave Mars' orbit just in case we missed anything. Dr. Johannes, you may reassume your functions. Everybody back to your stations".

Jones and Rodriguez sincerely considered the possibility that the commander had just gone bananas but as the small crowd dispersed silently around the bay they kept their mouth quiet.

**********

King's dark hair was cold and he rubbed it to get rid of the numbness he was feeling on his scalp as he sat down on the main cargo area of the Avenger. The soldiers were already starting to take off their bulky power suits and later they would be hung from the ceiling of the craft to save space. Rodriguez was also securing another plasma rifle, removing the Elerium clip before starting to disassemble the weapon for storage during the flight and later. Looking at the black cartridge that held the precious Elerium he asked King. "Hey Virgilio, how much do you think this is be worth in two years?"

"Enough to buy a tropical island? I don't know.  Most likely that gun of yours is nothing more than a very sophisticated but useless toy right now". Rodriguez held it tight on his fist. "You're right. Too bad they have every scrap of this thing accounted for".

"What? You're planning on going civilian and starting your own smuggling business". Camay's green eyes sparkled at him in amusement. "You already look like a South American drug lord with that mustache you've grown".

Slapping her in the shoulder in mock indignation, Rodriguez replied. "Hermancita, it's a man's thing. I've come to the conclusion that my father was right when I asked him why he had one. It represents my virility".

"Yeah, dream on". Jones started laughing and the rest of the squad followed suit as the tension from the past weeks had considerably lessened after the commander's announcement. The only one who didn't laughed was King, who finished placing his weapon on a rack before securing it. Moving next to him Camay casually asked. "You look absent. Thinking back home?"

"Actually no". Looking at the chronograph on his wrist King counted one hour before take-off. "I'd prefer to know if we really got all the aliens down there".

She nodded to him. "Still thinking that you saw an alien?"

"I saw something moving. Maybe it was simply a light trick, maybe there's native critters down there and Dr. Weiss failed to detect them on his search for Martian life, I don't know".

She completed his logic. "Or maybe some aliens managed to survive until now. Just because we didn't see them doesn't mean they weren't there".

"Well, they can all freeze to death. I'm not going back to check if the thing I saw was an alien. If it was then let the last of them to freeze down there on that battlefield". He sneered back to Zeera and shrugged his shoulders. "Who cares anyway?"

**********

Looking down from the mesa where he was located the Sectoid's blank eyes could see the shape of the Avenger as it blasted off the ground silently and headed to the dark night above. The humans seemed finally to be leaving and although they would not disturb him anymore he was again in near isolation. Without further company most likely he would turn insane but probably before that the dwindling food supply that still remained on the crashed UFO only predicted dire tidings for the future.

But he would have much to think about on the times ahead.

Moving back towards its hideout he wondered the strange intentions of the creatures in coming back to the planet. He had listened to their thoughts concerning the lack of the precious fuel that was only born from the spawn of massive supernovas and could only be recovered from locations filled with radiation and other dangers. They had seemed interested in discovering the strategic stockpile the Ethereal leadership had accumulated for support of the invasion but during their time on the planet their thoughts had been on other subjects most of the time. Procreation, sorrow, despair, material concerns, all those things were not compatible in seeking their logical goals. The Sectoid's notion of individuality was quite limited: he could understand the concept and the biological reasons that dictated it but like the rest of the Starspawn he had always considered it to be self-defeating.

Of all humans that had landed on the planet he had found the female to be the more intriguing to probe. The alien had first taken mind control of the creature on the depths of the pyramid without her ever noticing the intrusion on her brain. From her he had learned about their goal of discovering Elerium and therefore he had been extremely careful to avoid crossing their paths although he had almost been hit by fire on a corridor of the alien base. The infantile human apparently didn't know the fact that his psionic skills were like a beacon of light when used to enhance the body senses. The plasma bolt had barely missed his bulbous head but he had quickly disappeared back into the darkness of the base before the humans could pursue.

But after leaving the female unconscious she had set a spark of curiosity in him. Standing hidden from view on the debris that littered the outskirts of the ruined pyramid his mental powers had allowed him to monitor her thoughts and at one time the conversation she was having with another human, that had ended with an embrace. Worse, they were having what he considered degenerate and bizarre emotions.

He had carefully probed her he had discovered to his surprise that the human female wanted to procreate but the male had been reluctant until that point. Coming from a clone, asexual society the alien had always looked at the sexes based human species with more depreciation than interest. Human society was mildly chaotic on his experience, although he had never had any direct contact with the abductees that had been brought onboard his ship. Their coupling method produced a wide variety of genetic information, something the Sectoids were always interested to replace their own, but they had never thought of applying basic social and biological measures to control their population both in terms of numbers and quality of the available live material.

But more abhorrent was the notion of physical contact; something that the Sectoid concluded with disgust that it was what the pair of humans was experiencing now. Besides humans there were few intelligent species encountered by the Starspawn that used the unpredictable and largely unreliable method of sexual reproduction and indulged in physical contact. Snakemen hatchlings enjoyed it while they were being raised on their breeding pens and later they would not completely relish it although it was unnecessary since each Snakeman carried its own fertilized eggs, requiring no external help. Only the Muton species had females but they were too vicious and lethal to be put of service to the Starspawn as fighters. Even their use on fertility programs was of limited use due to their aggressiveness when bearing offspring. Mutons lived on semi-intelligent   matriarchal packs, ruled by the females and where the males would be kept off the herd as they matured sexually. The Muton females would raise together the youngsters and would only make contact with the males for coupling, something that also had its risks as the violence of the act could result on the death of the smaller male. The Ethereals captured the lone males as the basis of their shock troops but even with   Mutons physical capabilities enhanced by artificial means a single female was more than a match for a squad. Worse, undetermined reasons the females were naturally resistant to psionic attacks and even an Ethereal would act with caution close to one. Human females were somewhat more docile but they would still protect their young quite fiercely, especially when having the hatchlings removed from their protection.

But even more puzzling had been the artifact the humans had left behind at the Brain's Chamber. 

It had taken the Sectoid days to reach the City complex plus long hours to deal with the City underground maze before finally reaching the long corridor that led to the lifts to the Brain's chamber. He had been before on the facility and remembered his way around but piles of debris had cut off several areas and he had to make several detours before reaching the corridor whose doors were slightly closed but with plenty of space for him to pass through. At the end of chamber he had another smaller problem since the lifts had long ceased to work and it had a height of five meters, the humans had left the ropes they had used behind.

When his thin hands finally moved to grab the metal floor of the Brain's room and pull him upwards he suddenly felt a great coldness overfilling him as memories of a gone by time came through of legions of alien officers filling the room and seated on chairs, all enjoying a unique emotional link. The psi areas of his brain went active and looking for other any other presence, companionship but found none.

He had come here as the Avenger had finally taken off and flew into the direction of space to find out why the humans had been so interested on this location. He had been carefully to plant wrong suggestions on the human female's brain about possible locations of Elerium sites and from his monitoring he had been pleased that he had led them into a useless search. However he hadn't inserted any reference to the city so he assumed that they had another motive to come to Sol Four.

It had been easy to know the reason of their interest in Elerium: it could only be harvested on far away stars and although the human species was so inferior they had taken great strides based on technology stolen from the aliens. But they still lacked the ability to travel between the stars and now it seemed that they would never possess it after their remaining Elerium stores run out. The humans would still be dangerous but they were confined now to this star system and they would never be a threat to the Starspawn. They hadn't been the first species to be underestimated and that had fought off temporarily integration. The Snakemen had been pretty resilient on their resistance even though they had barely evolved past tool using. After initial victories the invasion forces on the planet had to call huge reinforcements since they had dismissed the self-reproduction capabilities of the Snakemen. Every single individual could in a few months hatch fifty more and their numbers kept growing geometrically despite of the massive casualties. The mistake made by the Sectoid Hierarchy had only served to increase the Ethereals position as they finally landed on the planet with ranks of Sectopods, killing most of the Snakemen while enslaving the rest. And there had also been reports of contact with a species that had just mastered the dynamics of interstellar travel and where starting to become a threat. But neither them nor the humans where a threat as long as Nemesis, the alien home world, remained undiscovered. And it would be impossible to discover its location since not even the Ethereal leadership was privy to it.

Still the humans would be integrated into the Starspawn one day, although it would take thousands of years before a new expedition was sent unless they somehow expanded their presence into other star systems. It didn't worry the Leader because he knew that it was the way of things: the more a race resisted integration the more valuable it would become later for the Starspawn and the Sectoids had tended Sol Three for a long time.

Then as he turned his head away and started moving back down he stopped looking at the strange metal artifact that was now implanted on the black wall, between the holes of the ruined elevators. Again, it didn't felt outrage at what most humans would classify as an offence, placing such an object on such an important location for the aliens, even if the Brain was nothing more than charred atoms now. Instead he again felt confusion and curiosity at trying to understand the motives that drove such strange creatures. His knowledge of Sol Three enabled him to read the carvings and what they meant but during the time on the planet until his demise by starvation he kept remembering the words although despite his efforts the idea expressed by them was simply….too 'alien' for him to understand.

"TO HONOR THE X-COM SOLDIERS WHO

DIED ON MARS ON MARCH 9th, 2002

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE"

The End André Galvão, 2003