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Ninothree

Short story

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In a similar vein to the Crimson Dagger novella, I was thinking of writing short story in a xenonauts/xcom universe. This is partially for myself; it is to get practice at writing fiction which is something I've been meaning to do for a long time. But it is also directed at all of you; this community is probably the only selection of individuals who will get the references, and indeed, possibly the only people who will ever read it at all. I'm posting this thread to ask for suggestions on narrative content / overall feel.

From what I read in these forums, I think that a many people here have an affinity for the martial and strategic elements of xenonauts; there certainly is a fair ol' amount of discussion about the realism of guns and the nature of conducting ground combat. I'm never going to crack any combat-realism because I simply don't know it or read enough about it. However, I am interested in taking on the sci-fi elements of a xenonauts/xcom story. For example, addressing the rationale of alien invasion, the (psychic) tools they'd use and also creating a cyber/cipher-punk setting in which it can all take place.

Intentionally, I want to make this xenonauts/xcom themed but not to encroach on the stories that're already out there. That would be both rude and boring. So, I'm not looking to borrow from the cold (secret) war setting, nor to have Sectoid abduction ships or Praetor bosses. Rather, I want to pull out some of the bits of this game genre that we all love and give them more exposure than they'd normally receive.

Essentially, if there are bits of the game that you'd like to see in more depth, and specifically in the kind of depth that a story can explore better than a game, then I'd like to discuss those bits and weave them in with my own.

Thanks.

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A citizen of some country finding himself in the midst of a ground combat scene between Xenonauts and some aliens. Hiding in fear of the battle taking place between the two unknown groups around him/her. After the battle he/she crawls out of the hide-out and sees the known surroundings changed by heavy destruction. Human and strange-coloured blood can be seen but no bodies (Xenos have taken their fallen and all aliens with them). He/she finds an overlooked alien device, grabs it and flees.

In his/her home the tiny device in the pocket is forgotten. He/she dwells in after-shock for some time, having nightmares due to the combat as it seems. But over the next few days he/she sees visions of strange origin, with aliens and humans and some obscure feelings of dread and terror of things to come without knowing what this all means. After some visions have passed he/she is growing the need to tell somebody about the found device and the visions of strange seemingly ill-intended aliens and so tries to find out about the Xenonauts as they seem to be the counterforce to the aliens.

He/she is studying the yellow press about strange encounters and occasional battles the regular press and the government seem to ignore or hush-down.
After finding out that some famous scientists and well-known technologists have been gone missing for some time (recruited by Xenonauts), he/she can trace their last steps towards some unknown organisaton named Xenonauts. This aroused suspicion of the Xenonauts and he/she is observed for some time and finally captured.

Then after some time of custody and intense interrogation he/she is urged to work for the Xenonauts as he/she being the only one to be able to have visions in the vicinity of the found device. Thus becoming the very first psychic human in the team of the Xenonauts research section....

 

I imagined the overall story as seen from the personal view of the citizen, going through horror after the battles experience and the dreaded visions going near insanity before realizing why the visions are happening. Further then, trying to find out why all this happen (tin-foil around the device are stopping the vision :) to get a clear head and overcoming the dread) similar to the protagonist in H.G.Wells "War of the Worlds".

 

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Intriguing. Billy-the-farmer never got much back story. Maybe it is time to see what lies behind the shotgun and blue checkered shirt ;)

I like the idea of a perspective rooted in paranoia, with a protagonist uncovering the xenonauts organisation bit by bit - but the reader having a clearer picture of how the pieces fit together from experience playing the games. Also, it would be good to capitalise on the dread and terror as witnessed by a mere civilian: them being poorly armed and neither able to understand the aliens nor to communicate with the Earth's forces.

Not quite sure how to play it with the psychic element though. It is core to xcom but can feel a bit of an immersion-breaker; I definitely lean towards a grounding in scifi rather than swirly purple magic.

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"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke, 1961

If you would go back to let's say ancient Rome and pull out a flashlight, what do you think the people would take it for? Technology or magic?

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I do love that quote! But it doesn't quite address the problem I have with psi powers. Not to get in a quote-bragging-contest, but this is kinda the way I want to think about making psi a sci-fi concept:

Quote

In a Dick story, if you were behind with your rent, your apartment door would refuse to open, and would lecture you on your responsibilities. The taxi might be a flying machine, with a robot at the wheel, but it would dispense psychiatric advice mixed with folk wisdom en route to your destination.

Source: Malcolm Edwards, introduction to Minority Report.

What I'm trying to say is that I don't want to create something so advanced that it is indistinguishable from magic but rather something that feels a bit more viable. Your post at the top talked about visions - these could be a really useful way to progress plot etc, though I just can't get over the fact that they jar so much. hmm, well I'm not actually sure what I'm trying to say here but hopefully I'll have something written soon which can express it better! Thanks 

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I think I understand what you mean.

Maybe the visons should be not the real psy, just visions not possible to control, not possible to switch on/off when wanted. Just like a watcher of a surveilance camera.
If you want to avoid the "real psy" just stop there and say this "brought a first glance into an unknown communication method of the aliens". Only after some research, way after your story this lead to the Xenonauts Psy-program. The protagonist hands over the device after all research that is possible on that level has been done and can go his way, free of dread and visions.

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Well, I have an idea that has been playing in the back of my mind for quite a while, basically... it's post Xenonauts, or in this case post-"Praetorian Invasion". The world has been saved (with hundreds of millions confirmed dead, with tens of millions MIA at best, much of the infrastructure has to be rebuilt, etc.) and all that needs to be done is pick up the pieces.

 

Problem is, despite the Xenonaut's best efforts, the major powers of the world -be NATO aligned or Pact aligned nations- have gained control of various minor Praetorian bases, allowing them access to Praetorian technology. This has upset the balance of the Cold War, among other things. So, the Xenonauts became essentially GDI and quickly started setting up facilities all across the world (and in the late '90s, in space) to help keep the situation from going out of control. Thanks to a leak from Xenonaut probes, everyone has discovered that there is alienium and the base components of Alien Alloys -aka 'Praetorian Alloys'- in them hills and started a massive race of space colonization.

 

In addition to this, the Xenonauts discovered that humanity has psionic abilities, just nothing like the Praetorians and their thralls, mostly empathic and minor telekinetic (with the latter being what the Praetorians wanting) abilities. In an unanimous decision of all the departments, the Xenonauts have made an entire section of the organization simply dedicated in getting now-budding psions from pretty much everyone else, knowing what would happen if they don't.

 

The Xenonauts have bee trying to keep the peace in Sol for decades, but one incident in the Jupiter Sector would lead to war...

 

Another idea is basically the 'post-Xenonauts' setting above and having the Xenonauts discover -via the largest Praetorian base on Earth- that the Praetorians have discovered an alien energy signature on the moon near Tranquility Base that has them scared shitless, so the Xenonauts -once they got the equipment- sends a team to the area and investigates... discovering a Chozo facility dedicated to observing humanity. The Xenonauts quickly build humanity's first base on the moon -also called Tranquility Base- around the entrance and quickly gave access to the site a Black Omega rating. With complete and utter care, the scientists, archaeologists, and engineers at Tranquility Base uncover the secrets that the facility holds, and learn more about humanity in the process.

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