"Krause, I think you stepped onto alien giblets again."

Fuck. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to get snakeman chunks out of your power armor boots? No, you don't. You're likely just one of our engineers, watching my armor vlog. "Screw you, Ragulin. Warn me BEFORE I step into that kind of shit."

He snickers, my inbuilt helmet comm unit picking up the sound transmitted by his.






As we come close to the warehouse's outer wall, Dimitry "Mad Russian" Ragulin drops to one knee, the heavy plasma rifle already covering both the door and the spots any alien stupid enough to jump off the roof could land on.


Seconds later, I do the same, dropping into the gibbed remains of the idiot snakeman stupid enough to walk in front of our guns earlier.

No prisoners, no second chances, no mercy, that's how X-Com works. Us against them, and we're finally turning the tide of this damn war.

"Krause squad ready and covering the exits. Orders, sir?"

Commander Unger himself, the one-man army, the man who defended ChiBase by himself after the Floaters butchered the others, the unquestioned leader of X-Com has joined Strike Team I on our defense mission today.

"Give me a motion sensor readout, Colonel."

That's right, bitches, I'm the man, the third in command of X-Com, Colonel Gerhard "32" Krause. The "32" stands for "32 alien captures with nothing but a zappy stick", in case you are curious. I love that zappy stick.

I grab the motion sensor off my belt and get a reading.

"Extremely heavy post-movement warnings, sir. Two very fast and four slower targets, or three fast and one slow target."

We're fighting snakemen here, in the beautiful city of Berlin.

It's a nice, sunny afternoon. Really, the perfect day for anyone who gets some leave from EuroBase to visit and relax for half a day.

Too bad, really. We're fighting snakemen, after all. After Venice, everyone in X-Com knows what fighting snakemen in a city means.

"Checks out with King's readings. Cover his descent from the roof, Krause."

Damn. Spencer "WingDing" King, the ascended techie geek. Formerly part of the scientist staff of EuroBase, he saved our asses when the fucking Sectoids attacked us the last time. Took one of the spare Blaster Launchers, spent half a minute tracking everyone's relative locations, then fried nine aliens with one magnificently well-placed blaster bomb.

That's when our squad - down to five people from that horrible, horrible battle in the rural areas of eastern poland against the first UFO full of Mutons - ran him through the X-Course until he qualified for active frontline duty.

Poor sap locked himself into a closet until we promised him he'd get to use the first of the new flying suits. Totally paid off, too. For a geek, he's a pretty damn fine shot. Don't know how many times he delivered fiery plasma death from above. Heh.

Whhhh-irrrrr-KLUNK. And there he is.

"Yo, Wing-man. Cover our rear, will ya?"

He makes a rude gesture at me, his back already turned and his rifle at the ready. But that's how it works. But my thoughts are interrupted.

"This is Commander Unger. Krause squad, stand ready and remember Venice."

How could anyone forget Venice? Sixteen hundred casualties, and we only contained the Chryssalid outbreak by firebombing the entire Piazza San Marco. They blamed it on terrorists. Damn, I wish all we had to deal with were ordinary terrorists. The worst they do is blow you up, or shoot you. Chryssalids? Those things are fucking nightmares. Nobody deserves what they do to people. Nobody.

"Iwasaki, Okamoto, two by two on the warehouse."

Woah. The Commander wishes to drive home a point, it seems. Two by two to our B-L squad. No, not Boy's Love, though it's hardly a secret that the Blaster Launcher team shares more than just a common interest in working out, but fiery death and destruction. And that's what a 2x2 is, two shots of each Blaster soldier, one salvo to shred the wall and one shot to shred whatever is inside the warehouse.

Fuck structural integrity, and fuck the civilians. If there are any surviving civvies in there, trapped in a building with chryssalids, dying from the Blaster shell is infinitely more merciful than what the chryssalids would do to them. Trust me. It is. It really, really is.

Two seconds later, the first salvo of shells zips in, miniature silver comets, and the warehouse wall my team had covered just... vanishes. The blast wave buffets my squad, but the gyros of our armors compensate easily.

Though the gibbed snakeman I'm kneeing in does flop around and spreads bits and pieces of it all over Dimitry's armor. Ha, sucker. Mock me again, will ya?

Twelve seconds until the next salvo cleans out the warehouse, and that means twelve seconds of panicked aiming and praying that no 'lid comes out to play.

I fucking hate Chryssalids after Venice.

Sixteen hundred casualties in less than two hours. They begged us to shoot them before they turned. Poor fuckers never knew that it was already too late at that point.

We shot them anyways.








As always, I am calmly collected when facing the worst nightmare humanity could ever encounter.

It moves so fast, so incredibly fast - you have no idea how bloody fucking fast those things are.

Imagine a man, any man, sprinting hundred meters in ten seconds.

Then imagine that man supported by the finest powered armor humanity can manufacture sprinting hundred meters in five seconds, plowing through fences and thin walls as if they weren't there.

Then multiply that by four, and you have the approximate speed of a chryssalid on a slow day.

But that thing is wounded, ichor streaming down its sides, and it's slower than usual - I could probably track its movements with my bare eyes, if I weren't fully suited up. Yay for auto-tracking systems in the suit helm.

One-two-three, fwoosh, fwoosh, fwoosh.

You gotta love the heavy plasma. Bullseye. Ragulin and I spray the thing with plas-fire, and after the seventh hit - nine shots, bloody hell, each of us fired three full bursts to kill that bloody thing - it finally screeches and dies.

King, bless his flightsuit, hovers over us and shoots its carcass just to make sure. Fucking chryssalids.

And then, two seconds later, the second salvo of the great battlefield equalizer rockets in, taking out anything in the lower level of the warehouse and most of its supporting walls.

I wonder what keeps those buildings standing every time X-Com comes through... since we usually take out two walls of four. Oh well.

Motion sensor time.

"This is Krause. Commander, reporting all-clear. No movement in two minutes. Requesting permission to move in and do a sweep."

A short burst of static, followed by a gruff "Permission granted. If you find anything, remember Venice."





Once inside, we find three dead chryssalids, bunched up behind what once was a stack of heavy containers. There's a reason why I call the blaster bombs the "great equalizer". All matter becomes vapor and dust when confronted with those.

And one snakeman, cowering in the corner, one arm torn off, hideous burns all along its body, trickles of what passes for blood amongst aliens slowly oozing down its carapace.

And as I raise my H-P rifle, lining it up with the damn alien's stomach, all I can think of are the tourists, their bellies swollen with the larval stage of the snakeman terror weapon, mewling with pain.

"Remember Venice, bitch."

I love the sound of screaming snakemen in the afternoon.