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  1. Xenonauts: Blue Crimson Introduction: OC: "OC" is the flag standing for out of character, or writing from the real world perspective. This story is based on a game of Xenonauts by Goldplay Interactive, version 1.09 HT, difficulty set to Normal, game reloads only for glitches and crashes. Due to interface problems, the story is being written on a different system. Files are being named after the processor code of the other system, story files "Meron" after the system the game is running on, and the game files "Northwood" after the story editing computer, which is not quite old enough to run the original Enemy Unknown without an emulator. The story's name was decided on a whim based on the colors of the belligerents' blood. Chapter 1: Briefings "Launch Director to all flight controllers, remain at your consoles, ," the man's right hand returns to his tie to center it. He then calms his breathing and tries to reduce his heart rate. He's in charge of a Delta launch operation in Hanger AE at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. His Delta rocket and its spacecraft were just destroyed late in the first stage burn. "Propulsion, what er- What indications did you get just before we lost the signal?""LD, from Propulsion," the voice comes back, "We're going over it now, but we had a big pressure spike on the LOX tank in the first stage, a smaller one on the fuel tank, and two temperatures were trending upwards. It wasn't near burst pressure, but definitely above design, and the pressure relief valves were open. We also had a small attitude disturbance." "What's your first impression?" the Launch Director asks, "Did we have a glitch in the pressurization system on the first stage?" "No sir," the answer comes back, "We're seeing pressure and temperature spikes all over the vehicle, except the third stage, which is under the fairing, and the spacecraft, which we don't have downlinked. The fairing pressure was increasing as well." "So," the Launch Director repeats, "What's your first impression as to the cause?" "It's too early to tell," the Propulsion officer reports tensely, "I really think we should have a deeper look at this da-" "Please," the Launch Director quietly insists, closing his eyes and hoping that what he saw on the video monitor is some sort of trick on his eyes. "I'd tell you sir, I really would," the Propulsion officer takes a deep breath, "but I'd rather not air this sort of speculation on a recorded loop. It's probably going to be overtur-" "Let's hear it," the Launch Director huffs, hoping for something that'll overturn the plainest interpretation of the visual record. "Uh," the Propulsion officer starts, "it looks a bit like we got shot down by a laser weapon. Like I said-" "Have you seen the tracking video?" the Launch Director interrupts. "No, sir," the Propulsion officer laughs, "We're so buried in the numbers over here, it takes us like four or five hours to look at that, even on a normal day. You're about to tell me just how absurd this-" "Actually, I was hoping you'd say something mundane, really," the Launch Director closes his eyes and rubs the bridge of his nose between them before depressing the microphone switch again, "The video shows a pink beam coming at the rocket from directly above it, hitting just aft of the interstage. It stays about there for two seconds until the explosion. We have four camera angles on it, and this beam is visible in all of them." After several seconds of silence, the Propulsion officer comes back on, "Really?" "Yeah," the Launch Director says, "The Air Force gave me a number to call if we ever saw this sort of thing." -------- The phone just keeps ringing. He answers this call, "X-COM" as though it were his first name and he was trying to get back to sleep. "Uh, hi," the caller nervously gives his name and affiliation, "We were launching this rocket from Pad 17A down here, and it kinda blew up-" "'Kay, why are you calling this number?" he asks impatiently. "'Cus it looks like a laser weapon brought it down, sir." After a moment, he asks, "What else would you like to know?" "Is there anyone missing, injured, or killed?" asks the X-COM guy. "Well, no," the caller answers, "it was a space rocket going at like Mach 14 and three hundred thousand feet." "Well," X-COM sighs, "That's an improvement at least. Thanks for the report." Click. He picks up the other phone, "Hi, Mr. President, I'm glad I could finally get through. The number of reports went up from fourteen to eighteen while I was on hold." "Marshal Kisberg, I think it's time to activate the Xenonauts," the President says. "I don't quite agree, Mr. President," Kisberg replies, wrapping the headset cord around one of his fingers. "Why not?" the US President asks, sounding slightly annoyed. "The time to activate the Xenonauts was twenty years ago," Kisberg replies, "Let's hope now isn't too late to save the planet." "Sorry, sorry, you're right," the President sighs, "I hope so too. NORAD's Charlie will pick you up in twenty minutes." Kisberg stretches his arm out to read his watch, "I can't get to the airport so fast-" "Just draw the curtains, Marshal," the President orders, "It'll be double parking in front of your house and might break a window or two. No joke. You might want to call General Wahlmer and Dr. Sneidly while you're waiting." -------- Scant hours later, Matthew Kisberg lands at NORAD. Wahlmer directs him to the prep room next to the hangar, "We've got the basic facility set up to hand over to Xenonaut Command, four hangars along the northern row, the command center in the middle, workshop east, laboratory west, quarters south, one of our best radar facilities in that corner, and secure storage in the other. " He points at a layout map. "How long before we can get an interceptor up to make a dent in this fracas?" Kisberg asks impatiently. "Two minutes from the scramble order," the General reports. "Really?" the Marshal raises an eyebrow, taking the clipboard and lifting the first page, "F-17 Condors made to Sneidly's specifications, too." He hands the clipboard back, "Finally some good news." "Uh," the General grimaces, "You might not think so once you see the squad. They're waiting on the ready line just outside the hangar." They march out, and General Wahlmer braces while Marshal Kisberg's jaw drops slightly in disbelief at the five men and three women coming to attention in baby blue combat fatigues. Kisberg spins about to face the man in the blue shirt, white lab coat, grey pants, Browning sidearm, and the Hitler mustache under, as opposed to above, his mouth. His hand drops, having pushed up his black rimmed eyeglasses and tucked a lock of his long black hair behind an ear. His frown indicates that he's ready to explain the sad state of the squad, and probably quite aware that Kisberg isn't going to like it. "Funding plans were just activated last night, Marshal. I kn-" "I know that part, Ken," Matthew growls, just above a whisper, "We have no specialized equipment, going up in Fighting Falcons made of magnesium so they can survive long enough to squeeze off a crappy missile, a Hercules turboprop transport with a landing rocket system from the Soviet lunar landing program loud enough to wake the dead in the middle of a hurricane, and we're freaking lucky to have a base at all." "Why the snit, Matt?" the chief scientist raises an eyebrow. After another brief look at the troops, he turns back to the scientist, "You expect the Xenonauts, elite alien fighting troopers to face fiery death in toddler pyjamas?" A slight squeak from the General indicates that his own reaction wasn't quite as incredulous, and that his faculties are being stretched just to keep himself from collapsing in laughter. "Camoflage doesn't work," the scientist answers simply, "but I hope you like the argon-filled magnesium riot shields that actually managed to survive a hit from a pistol recovered by the SAS last week." He indicates the corridor with his clipboard, "You'll have to excuse me, I'm working with nine other guys to make sense of the DSN's crazy radar reports in order to brief you on what's happening." "NASA's Deep Space Network?" the Marshal wonders, "Aren't they a bit busy with the Voyager, Pioneer, Mariner and Viking spacecraft to be looking for aliens?" "Nope," Dr. Sneidly answers, "Over the last three months, they've been disappearing one by one, and now they're all gone. The Space Shuttle's been canceled, Salyut 7 evacuated-" "Wait," Kisberg squeaks, "All the world's space programs are dead?" "There's only one person on Earth who can authorize a launch into space these days, sir," Dr. Sneidly says frankly. "Who?" the Marshal wonders. Ken reaches out and taps Matthew gently on the chest with his clipboard, "I'm looking at him." Then he walks off down the corridor to his lab, scratching his head with the clipboard. As Matthew takes half a step after Ken to try to quantify how desperate the situation is, General Wahlmer taps him on the shoulder, whispering, "The troops?" As the Marshal turns to face him, it is apparent that the military commander, still dressed in a somewhat sensible green parade uniform, expects his address to the gathered soldiers watching this strange conversation to have some news for the Xenonaut Commander, (X-COM for short.) "Welcome to the Xenonauts' North America base in Cheyenne Mountain," the General starts bellowing, "Yesterday it was called NORAD. Your mission, generally, is to defend Earth from an alien invasion." Yup, they're having trouble buying it. Maybe that's why they were given pastel blue combat uniforms. "How deep does this rabbit hole go?" one of the three women says just loudly enough to be heard by the General. In three strides, General Wahlmer closes to within three inches of the tall, brown-haired Russian, "I'm sorry, Corporal Alice-?" "Katerina Sokolova, Sir!" she bellows back, "Awaiting orders, Sir!" The General steps back and continues the briefing, "I'm sure you've all heard of the incident in and around Iceland on 23 April 1958 where eight nuclear warheads detonated off course, one after crashing on the northern coast while being disarmed. That's the cover story. The final so-called nuke wasn't such a device, but was the power source of an alien cruiser the seven previous nuclear warheads had shot down. Thirty-two fighter aircraft went missing that day, not because of the off-course nukes as reported, but because they were vaporized by this cruiser's weaponry, which we know almost nothing about. Our scientists believe that part of the reason for our successful shoot-down was because the alien crew had trouble controlling the spacecraft in our atmosphere, magnetosphere, and gravity field. The craft we're seeing today are much smaller. The specific idea is to either shoot down or catch on the ground one of these smaller craft, after which you come in. Your job will be to kill or capture the crew and recover alien technology to reverse engineer in our lab and those of our funding nations all over the world." The General takes a step back and introduces, "This is Marshal Matthew Kisberg [the player character], who will now brief you on how these missions will be run." "Prior to today," the Marshal begins, "most of this was theoretical, but we're now to see if it really works. I will be managing for each of you, a five million dollar monthly training and equipment budget. For this reason, our supplies of normal weapons and ammunition is practically limitless. Your performance has been distilled to six figures: speed, durability, strength, accuracy, reflexes, and stability. The last isn't meant to reflect on you in a derisive way, but is drawn from tests of situational awareness and decision making capacity under extreme stress. Why we care about it is because the aliens have the ability to project hallucinations and cause sudden changes in neurotransmitter levels, inducing all sorts of adverse symptoms. We call the field psionics, and, frankly, I seriously doubt our stability figures will matter much. Now, let's get you kitted out." He comes to the first, "Sargeant Nils Andersen. Assault Role, Sir!" The Marshal takes a look at his figures, quietly turns to General Wahlmer and whispers, "John, you suck at this. Nothing personal." The General holds the clipboard while Matthew rolls up the weapon cart and grabs one of the biggest rifles, chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum. The Norwegian Sargeant smiles. He was a sniper in the HJS, after all. "Let's work out a standard sniper kit," the Marshal tilts his head nervously, "and hope it does something awful to these alien jerks." The previous kit included a pistol backup. Matthew immediately ditches that and grunts, "You'll be in trouble without armour and close enough to use that." Addressing the squad as a whole, he explains, "The only way you're going to survive out there is by working as an interlocked team, assault roles up close to deliver grenades and take the fire, snipers delivering damage from a distance to pin them down and eliminate them." Returning to Nils individually, he says, "I'm sure you'll be a great assault trooper: you're fast, tough, and the accuracy spec will serve you well with pistols, too. The assault kit will be too heavy and slow you down. Work on your strength please." "What do I do to avoid getting hit, sir?" the pensive sniper asks. The Marshal puts a grey cylindrical grenade into his hand and says, "Hope they can't see through smoke." OC: Don't take that too literally. His hands are full of the sniper rifle on the equipment screen. "Everyone gets chitosan wound packs," the Marshal continues, "Some of you will get hit, and we can't have you bleeding out before the battle is over. The aircraft has no room for corpsmen, and you would not have time for them to catch up with you if it did." Flipping the page, Matthew raises an eyebrow with pleasant surprise. Wahlmer had slotted him as a sniper. Matthew, on the other hand, says, "Kacper Gorski, I was hoping for a guy like you. You can handle the Pig." "Actually, sir," the Corporal from Poland who faced fire from the Mujahadeen only a few weeks earlier, "I'm used to the RPD." "Well," the Marshal hefts the less reputable M60 to his shoulder, "This isn't your granddaddy's Pig. John and his friend Olaf over in the workshop put some sense into it with this foregrip, and by attaching the carrying handle to the barrel instead of the receiver. They call it the 'E3', whatever that means." [OC: I'm not sure if Goldhawk gets noticed at E3, but the real M60E3 has the features described, although it came out much later than Xenonauts' setting.] Kacper also gets three smoke bombs, his strength rating indicates that he can launch them quite some distance, as well as handle the machine gun. "Corporal Lynn DeJong," the first of the ladies barks, "Assault Role, Sir!" "Agreed," Matthew replies, handing the clipboard to John, "but the assault role might look a bit different than you're used to." He grabs one of the huge magnesium riot shields from the cart and hands it to her. "The shotgun goes on your back, as this thing won't stop alien plasma for long. Once it takes a hit, drop it and the pistol and switch to the shotgun." Former Spetsnaz operative Inga Novikova, the second lady, also gets this kit instead of the FAL rifle General Wahlmer had previously issued her. [OC: The game depicts an M16, but the specification is more consistent with a 20 round 7.62mm NATO/.308 Winchester rifle, such as the M14, AR-10, or FN FAL.] Colin Henderson, a black former US Navy SEAL (although with a speed rating of 41, both John and Matthew wonder how he passed the BUD/S obstacle course.) The General thought a heavy weapons kit would be appropriate, doubtless due to his strength rating of 67. The Marshal considered an assault kit appropriate for his low accuracy rating of 43, but such a slow trooper has little hope of staying near the front of the formation as the battle advances. He's astonished to find himself holding a sniper rifle, his belt jingling with flashbangs and smoke grenades. The Marshal doesn't like frag grenades, his instinct telling him that with the long fuse, a typical alien victim would almost always cut the thrower down before it detonates. The Swedish Corporal Jonas Bergdahl, once holding the FAL rifle, is briefly considered for a machine gun. The Marshal decides that more shields are needed in the squad, and so he gets an assault kit. He has a very high stability rating of 70, and a face that looks like it has been rearranged over a few beers once or twice. "Let's hope the locals don't mistake him for an alien," the Marshal could overhear among the whispers. With an accuracy rating of 69, Matthew expects he'll be a sniper once armour suits are available. "Hello, Alice," the Marshal smiles, "Welcome to Wonderland." [OC: I'm not a fan, these AiW references are actually homages to The Matrix and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home] Katerina Sokolova is a little sheepish being reminded of her earlier comment during the briefing. She is issued the fourth and final assault kit of the squad. The Marshal is again pleasantly surprised at the combination of strength, accuracy, reflexes, and stability in the final selectee who is far to slow on his feet to keep up with the assault line. The squad gets its second machine gun, rounding it out at four assault, two snipers, and two heavy gunners. "Corporal Ross Jenkins, formerly US Army Special Forces, fought in the Vietnam War." "Yes, sir!" he answers sharply. "I think you entered your birth date incorrectly, Corporal," the Marshal explains, "If this were correct, the Vietnam War ended when you were sixteen." [OC: Actual bug. Game says he's 22.]
  2. I know plenty of you have been awaiting the release of Xenonauts: Crimson Dagger for a while - it's finally here. This is the story of the Iceland Incident, humanity's first contact with extraterrestrial life and the events that led directly to the formation of the Xenonauts. The novella is written by Lee Stephen, who is the writer of the Epic Universe series of novels. Lee is a huge fan of X-Com and wrote Crimson Dagger free of charge as an extra to go in our Kickstarter. Thanks, Lee! This novella will be available free on this sub-forum for the forseeable future, and will also be bundled with every copy of the game on release. You should also be able to find it free on Lee's site, and on Amazon (where I think it costs $0.99 as free release may not be possible). For now, though, it is a Premium Pre-Orderer exclusive, so enjoy it! Naturally, if you enjoy it, then it would be worth checking out Lee's other work! PDF: http://www.xenonauts.com/devfiles/Xenonauts_Crimson_Dagger.pdf EPUB: http://www.xenonauts.com/devfiles/Xenonauts_Crimson_Dagger.epub MOBI: http://www.xenonauts.com/devfiles/Xenonauts_Crimson_Dagger.mobi
  3. I'm afraid I can't access the Novella due to the fact I didn't link my account to my premium pre-order, I was....a tad lazy at the time and never bothered to do it. By the time I realized the Novella was out and I can no longer acquire my premium order badge, I'm now stuck in quite a jam.....I'm hoping somebody could help a poor fellow out of this ordeal. Appreciate any info on the subject.
  4. Greetings all! I received the go-ahead from Chris this weekend to upload Crimson Dagger on Amazon. You can find it HERE. "Officially," the novella's publication date is logged as June 1, 2013, though obviously those of you who received it as part of the premium preorder package got a chance to read it earlier. So how can you help? By reviewing Crimson Dagger, of course! If you read it and enjoyed it, put your opinions out there in the form of an Amazon review. What did you like about it? Did it get you excited about Xenonauts? Does it stand on its own, Xenonauts aside? These are all things that will get people checking it out. If you received it earlier as a preorder goodie, you can mention that, too. That kind of thing won't hurt! Just be honest and that's all that matters. The thing to keep in mind is that there will be people who have never heard of Xenonauts before who will discover it through Crimson Dagger. That was a big motivation for this thing getting done, in addition to having it as a Kickstarter goodie. An enjoyable experience reading the novella will translate into readers looking into the game. Having the game and the novella out there creates a sort of Xenonauts universe. We want people checking that out! Having reviews posted for the novella will help accomplish that. I know at some point Chris will have XCD posted on the site publicly for free. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't allow you to set list prices as free. Until things change with Amazon, that's the best we can do. There may be some back door loopholes out there to help make it free, but I need to look into it. It may or may not be able to happen. I'll definitely keep everyone posted as things develop. Thanks to everyone who had such positive comments toward XCD in the goodie forum here! I'm so glad it helped to flesh out the Xenonauts universe for you. It was a ton of fun to write. Take care, all! P.S. - Yes, Chris, you officially have editor cred on Amazon. Welcome to the literary ranks.
  5. (First and foremost, thank-you, Chris, for allowing me to post this!) For anyone curious about my pre-XCD series, Epic, you'll get the chance to dip your toes in the water for free between April 2-4, when the first book in the series, Dawn of Destiny will be FREE on Amazon Kindle. This is part of a huge promotion for the series in what should garner Epic a slew of new fans. If you've read Crimson Dagger, you'll have a good idea of what to expect in the Epic series, except with much more time dedicated to character growth and development. XCD is essentially the equivalent of a single battle in Epic. I loved writing XCD. But Epic is my baby. You'll definitely get a feel for where I come from as a writer, and you'll absolutely see the influence of games like X-Com in the way I write military science-fiction. I dedicate a slew of time to character storylines in every book, so if you enjoy attaching yourself to a character and seeing where their journey takes them, this will be right up your alley. I also want to let you guys know that I'll be doing a live Twitter-chat at 7:00 pm CST (hashtag #epicchat) on Wednesday, April 3, to discuss Epic and writing in general. I am also more than happy to talk XCD, so don't be shy about bringing it up! You can find me on Twitter @epicuniverse. And if you feel so inclined, definitely feel free to spread the word (about DOD being free and the Twitter chat)! As most folks know, I'm an indie, so we live or die by word of mouth. Every little shout-out counts. I'm excited about getting you guys into Epic, and hopefully catching some of you on the Twittersphere! It should be a ton of fun.
  6. As part of the celebrations for reaching our 100% funding on Kickstarter, we've announced a digital novella for all the Premium Preorderers and above (you'll recieve it if you Premium Preordered prior to Kickstarter too). This might be anything from 7,000/8,000 words up to 20,000 words. It might take a few months to arrive, but it'll arrive before the game does. It will tell the story of the Iceland Incident, humanity's first contact with extraterrestrials and the event that led to the foundation of the Xenonauts. It will tell the story of a Russian commander involved in the battle for the crashed UFO. It shouldn't be spoilerific - really it should just set some of the background for the game. It is to be written by Lee Stephen, who is the author of the Epic Universe series of books - they are currently the top selling independent sci-fi series in America. Writing is a very subjective thing, so but Lee has offered to write this for free - if you love what he writes, great! If you don't, fair enough - but it hasn't diverted any funds away from the game. So this can only be a good thing for us. Lee is a huge X-Com fan (hence why he's working for free), and I've pointed him at this thread. Please make him feel welcome and I'm sure he'll be happy to answer any questions you have. Alternatively, if you just want to wait and see what comes out of his brain over the next few months, that'll be fine too!
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