FBI Agent Meets X-COM : A Suspense-Filled Narrative

*** Secret FBI Base - Location Classified ***

"And so that's how I finally solved the case and brought the criminal to Justice."

The Agent let out a sigh of relief that the Director's interminably long story was over. His fellow agents finished their polite clapping. The Director drank in the adulation and took a slow sip of his coffee. Then his expression became serious and the room fell silent. "We have a new assignment, and I believe you'll all agree that this is a big one. We have several reports of illegal alien activity from around the country."

He placed a stack of file folders in front of each of them. "I'm counting on each of you to do your part to get to the bottom of this case. It may not be glamorous, but it must be done! Dismissed."

Back at his desk, the Agent began sorting through the case folders. "Map. Newspaper clipping. Grocery list. Another map. Hey, what's this?" The Agent pulled a CDROM from the last folder in the stack. He saw the words "X-Com: UFO Defense" emblazoned on the disc. The accompanying notes identified the disc as evidence found inside the laptop of a Rookie agent whose body had recently been recovered.

"I knew this Rookie. I always thought that his stats were better than average and that he had a good chance to survive. Too bad."

He slipped the CD into his desk computer and a few minutes later his screen was filled with an image of the earth and several red dots.

"Looks like you're really working hard in here, Agent!" said the booming voice of the Director. The Agent looked up and saw that the Director was standing in the doorway, pointing at his screen.

"Uh, sir, I can explain."

"I don't need to know all of the details. I assume those red dots are the illegal alien activity we are investigating."

"Uh, yes these are definitely aliens, sir."

"Good work. The Bureau needs more men like you, son! Carry on!"

"Whew, dodged a plasma round there," thought the Agent as his boss turned and left his office. He adjusted his monitor so that the screen was no longer visible from outside his office. "I'd better quit playing and get to work... after just one more mission."

*** (LATER) ***

"Hey, Agent! How's the research going?"

The Agent looked up from the hidden base on his screen to see Pete, the Director's personal assistant, leaning against his office door post. The Agent replied, "Research is slow, but once I hire 50 more scientists it will go much faster."

Pete laughed. "I'll just tell the Director that your progress is 'Unknown' at this time. Let us know when you find something useful."

"You know I will, Pete." The Agent picked up a folder as Pete left the room. The Agent began to read when the computer flashed a message on the screen. "Hmmm. Heavy Plasma research is complete. I'll test them out on just one mission and then get back to work."

*** (LATER) ***

"Agent, I just wanted to say Goodbye."

The Agent looked up from the smoking remains of a gas station to focus on the Rookie nicknamed 'Dopey'. Dopey was carrying a small box with a few personal items in it. "Goodbye? What happened?"

I was playing a First Person Shooter game on my office computer and the Director caught me. He suddenly walked in and I didn't leave myself enough time to turn off my screen. He fired me on the spot!"

"Rookie mistake", thought the Agent. "Too bad, Dopey", he said out loud.

"I know I was a new guy here, and all, but why did you guys nickname me 'Dopey'? It made me feel like someone was just waiting for me to fail."

"It could have been much worse, Dopey. I could have nicknamed you after that guy who picked on me in 7th grade. Or Larry, Moe, or Curly."

"Alright, Alright. I better go. Bye"

"So long, Dopey."

After he left, the Agent tried to remember the rookie's real name, but couldn't.

"I'd better get to work or I'll get fired, too." the Agent decided. An alert from the screen caught his attention. "Alien Base 4 discovered. Base number 4! That means there must be a Base 2 and Base 3 somewhere! No wonder China cut their funding!"

*** (LATER) ***

"Hey Agent! Look what I just ran over in the parking lot!"

Without looking up, the Agent said, "Listen, Goober, I'm really busy right now..."

"Dude, LOOK at this! What do you think this is..., uh, I mean what it was?"

The Agent looked up to see Goober holding the bloody corpse of a furry, brown animal. "Goober, that's disgusting. Get it out of my office, now! Why did you even bring it inside in the first place?"

"I just wanted to examine it and see what makes it tick. Maybe I can sell it to somebody online!"

"Who would possibly want to buy a dead animal corpse?" said the Agent.

"Don't care, as long as the pay on time! Come by my desk later for a peek inside this critter!" Goober said as he left.

"No, thanks", thought the Agent. "But, I wonder if something dead really can be sold." He began clicking on the computer and after a few minutes said, "Now I have tons of money! What do I need to build for my new base?"

*** (LATER) ***

"Still hard at work, I see."

The Agent snapped his attention away from a night-time jungle scene to look at the Director who was standing in his doorway. "Yes, sir! I hope to have something substantial to report soon."

The Director smiled. Then a burst of laughter sounded from the office across the hall. The Director's smile faded as he turned around in time to see Pamela run out her door with 4 plastic binders balanced on her head.

Moving carefully, she walked the length of the hall to the copy machine and turned around to return.

Several agents and technicians were either in the hall or leaning out from their doors, chanting "Go, Pam, Go!" When Pamela finally completed her circuit of the hall, without dropping a single binder, the crowd roared in applause.

The Director waited for a few seconds before he bellowed, "EVERYONE BACK TO WORK, NOW!" The effect on the crowd was immediate, as people scurried back to their offices with their heads down and their faces red.

The Director turned back to the Agent and said, "Is it just me or did someone replace my hard-working staff with this bunch of mindless zombies? Well, at least I can still count on you! Let me know when you make some progress."

The Agent waited for the Director to reach the elevator before he turned back to the computer. "I should save it here and get to work," he thought to himself. The scene on his screen showed an alien fire some new weapon that exploded, taking out most of the human squad with a single blast.

"What was THAT!" the Agent said out loud as the scorched jungle scene revealed that a single human soldier had survived the blast, but the alien shooter had not. The Agent directed his lone squaddie to pick up the alien weapon and take it back to the base. Only when the sole survivor was safely home with his prize did the Agent relax.

"I bet this will be a fun toy to play with!"

*** (LATER) ***

The agent re-read the instructions on his screen and exclaimed, "I have to capture a WHAT?"

A few seconds later Pete stuck his head in the room and yelled, "We've got INCOMING!", and ran to his own office.

The Agent looked out into the hallway to see the commotion as his co-workers walked about with panic on their faces.

Goober walked by talking to himself. "Why are they coming here? Is it just a friendly visit, or some sort of retaliation?"

The Agent stopped Pamela in the hall and asked her, "Who is coming?"

Pamela's face lost all color as she whispered, "The Commander is on his way. Here… Now... Why is he coming here?" She didn't wait for an answer before she ran to hide in the ladies room.

Within minutes the Commander and his team had arrived. From his office the Agent could hear strange sounds from nearby offices and the occasional cry of terror. Goober ran into the office and closed the door behind him. His face was sweaty and his eyes were wide open with fear.

"It is BAD out there, Dude! Most of our guys were wiped out within minutes of their arrival. A few of us hid in the break room, but they tracked them there. It was terrible!"

"What happened to them?" the Agent shouted, but Goober could only whimper unintelligibly.

The door suddenly burst open and Pete ran in holding a bottle of cola in his shaking hands. "They got the Director! I can't believe it. He's gone, just like that! I've... I've never had such low morale before!" Before the Agent could intervene, Pete opened the bottle and cola began spraying randomly across the room.

Goober never had a chance as the blast of carbonated liquid hit him in the eyes. Screaming, he rushed out the door and down the hall.

At that point a strange humming noise came from directly over the Agent's head. Pete dropped the coke bottle on the floor and stared at the Agent.

"He's trying to get you, just like he got the Director! Resist it, Man, resist it!"

The humming sounded again, followed by the Commander's voice over the intercom, saying, "Agent, you are hereby ordered to report to me in the Administration Meeting room, now."

"Sir, I'm really busy right now. Can I come by tomorrow or sometime next week?"

"I don't care what YOU want to do! You are under MY control! I order you to come here at once!"

"Yes, Sir."

Pete screamed, "Fight it, man! Don't let him get you, too!" Then Pete ran out the door and disappeared into a small closet.

Against his will, the Agent left his office and approached the elevator, feeling very, very alone.

*** (LATER) ***

"Come in, Agent. Sit down."

Obediently, the Agent did as the Commander told him. "May I ask what this is about, sir?"

The Commander pulled his dark-orange overcoat tightly around him and sat down in his chair across the desk from the Agent.

"It's about the future. You see, we have been monitoring this Bureau office for several days after receiving complaints about workers slacking off on the job. The results have been astounding. While you were hard at work on your computer, your co-workers have done nothing but play on company time! You haven't even been seen outside of your office for 2 days and the hidden camera in your room proves you were focused on your Computer. Your peers played games, surfed the Web, Arrived Late, Left Early, Took 2 hour lunches, and generally wasted time while you continued to work."

"Well, thank you, sir, but..."

"We have fired everyone else at this office, including the Director. Your Ex-Boss was a task-master, to be sure, but he was oblivious to the conduct of his team. We want you to be the new Director."

"Wow, sir, me?"

"Agent, you've earned it!"

"I don't know what to say, sir."

"Say that you will accept my offer, and you can forget about all that boring research you have been doing on your old computer. In fact, we will bring in a new team for you to manage. They will be doing all the research so you won't even need a computer anymore."

"What.... No more X-C... I mean no computer?"

"That's right! What is your answer, son?"

The Agent knew that there really was no choice. The alien fight must continue. He could not sleep until he had defeated the threat.

"I respectfully decline the promotion, at least until I finish my research."

"What! Do you realize the privilege I'm offering you, Agent? What is so special about this research, anyway?"

The Agent thought for a moment, and began to see a possible way out.

"Sir, I'm glad you asked. Please sit comfortably while I tell you in detail about this fascinating research I'm involved with."

"OK, Agent. I'm listening."

The Agent began to describe as much as he could remember about the illegal alien case he was supposed to be working on. Once he ran out of facts, he started making information up. He reported the names of TV characters as important suspects, described a crime scene in minute detail which just happened to resemble his cousin's backyard. He related theory after implausible theory about what the recent activity was related to. Then he saw the Commander rest his head on his hands and his eyes droop just a little.

"Sir, do you want me to continue this later? It has been a really long day, after all."

"No, Agent," said the Commander, stifling a yawn. "Please continue."

The Agent continued, illustrating the benefits of kneeling when taking a shot, explaining when to prime a proximity grenade and when not to, and describing in detail the periodic table of elements, including Elerium and the theory behind Plasma Weapons. After several more minutes of monotonous rambling the Commander stopped responding to questions, his eyes fully closed. The Agent quit talking to ensure that the Commander was asleep, in a stunned-like state. When he heard soft snoring, he knew it was safe to escape.

Exiting the Administration office at a run, the Agent returned both to his computer and to the alien struggle.

*** (LATER) ***

The Agent knew he was running out of time, but he had to keep going. He had taken the fight to the alien's turf but had already lost more that three-fourths of his squad due to sinister mind-control attacks. His remaining soldiers were at a distinctive T-shaped intersection of the alien base, about to charge upward through two separate lifts.

It was then that the Commander's voice boomed from the intercom. "I know that you're still here, Agent. Nobody says 'No' to me!"

The Agent ignored the voice and pressed the assault. A few minutes later he was rewarded with a game-winning cut-scene. He had done it! He had stopped the aliens in their tracks! He was a hero!

Suddenly, the Agent's celebration is interrupted by a burst of plasma fire as it disintegrated his office door. The Commander floated through the smoking hole and pointed a Heavy Plasma Rifle at the Agent. The Commander's orange overcoat was now unbuttoned, revealing only dark shadow underneath.

"You're... You're... an alien!" stammered the Agent.

"And you are just another pitiful, weak-minded human. You should have finished me off when you had the chance."

"Why are you here?"

"We need your planet and its resources. My team will soon send the signal to our awaiting invasion fleet and it will all be over."

"What do you want with me?"

"One of our spies heard that your bureau had become aware of our invasion plans and had observed how you were so diligently researching us. I was able to influence the rest of your office-mates to stop working completely, but your single-minded devotion to your work thwarted my mind-control attacks on you. I figured I could convince you to take the promotion and then make you my unknowing puppet, overseeing a new team of mind-controlled minions. But, no! You had to turn me down just to get back to your precious research! Now I am left with no choice but to speed up the invasion timetable."

"Wait!" said the Agent. "You thought I was researching actual 'alien-aliens' this whole time. Our office was investigating illegal HUMAN immigrants, not you outer space guys. And, I was actually just playing an old computer game the whole time, called X-COM. I was only fighting imaginary aliens in a computer-generated world."

"A computer game? Not a strategic simulation? You don't know our secret plans?"

"Not at all. You don't need to invade, right now. Why don't you just put away that weapon and calm down? You can even try out this game if you want… unless you think it would be too difficult for you?"

"How DARE you insult our superior intellect? I will accept your challenge and conquer your pitiful game. This shouldn't take long!"

*** (LATER) ***

The alien Commander pointed to the Agent's monitor and laughed.

"See how easily you weak humans will die if you try to stop us! Your simple weapons are no match for our superior firepower!"

"But we humans don't give up easily, and we learn really quickly. Keep playing and see."

*** (LATER) ***

"Die, Ethereal scum!" yelled the alien Commander as he guided his onscreen missile through the hole of the alien ship. The resulting explosions and alien screams brought a celebratory cheer from the Commander.

"Nice shot", said the Agent. "But, uh, aren't you an Ethereal yourself."

"Shut up, human!" growled the Commander, as he directed his squaddie to fire again.

*** (LATER) ***

The alien Commander watched the ending cut-scene then switched the monitor off. "No matter what we try or where we attack, you humans will not give up defending yourselves, will you?"

The Agent replied, "That's right, sir. We won't quit."

The Commander continued, "And our superior weapons and technology will only make you stronger in the end. Any advantage we have, you will soon replicate!"

"Correct again, sir."

"But we can see better than humans do at night! If we could limit our operations to night-time only then we could..."

"We've already invented Night-Vision Goggles. I have a pair in my desk. Wanna try them?"

"No", the commander sighed. "It is clear to me that we have seriously underestimated your innate survival instincts and adaptability. I fear the invasion, while enjoying initial success, will end in total disaster for us."

"Then why invade at all? There are billions of planets out there, and surely your technical know-how would let you find what you need. Why waste your resources here?"

"You make a valid point. I have much to discuss with my superiors. I will release my mind-control on your co-workers and things will go back to normal. But, I'm afraid I cannot allow you to remember any of our conversation."

The Commander raised his hand and the air around the Agent's head glowed for a moment. The Agent's eyes closed as he slumped down onto his desk and began softly snoring. The Commander opened the computer and removed the X-COM disc. "Just an old computer game, is it? I'll need something to do for the ride back home."

"Farewell, Agent, until we meet again."

*** (LATER) ***

"Are you sleeping on the job, Agent?"

The Agent woke up with a start and looked up. The Director was leaning against the office door, shaking his head. "Sir, I can explain..."

"No need to explain. It's after midnight. Go home and get some rest. Tomorrow is another day. Who knows what secrets we will uncover? Good night."

The Agent gathered his coat and briefcase and closed the door. He thought the door felt different somehow, and he smelled a hint of fresh paint in the air. He paused for a moment, trying to remember something important that was just out of reach. Finally he shrugged and said, "I must've been working too hard."

As the Agent left for his home, one of the lights in the sky grew steadily dimmer as an alien spacecraft also returned home.