Weekend open thread

Because turning this into a tradition is the best way to limit my midweek babble, and limiting my midweek babble is probably a good thing in the long run. After all, you’re not here to listen to me go on, except maybe (if you’re a regular reader) in a very specific way, of which posts like these are not an example.

Speaking of regular readers, I have on the order of 100 of them, if my hit counter thing is to be trusted. Of course, that discounts out of hand anyone with scripts disabled, but even so an estimate of between three and eight seems about right to me. Not the most impressive numbers in the world, but then again I’ve been going for less than a month, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. I will repeat my usual mantra of “tell your friends!” and return to my usual manic optimism about my current readership and its prospects for growth

Besides the usual things to say (mild self-deprecation, lamentations on the size of my audience, “tell your friends!”) I’ve got one more: X-COM: UFO Defense is absolutely murdering me. Allow me to paint you a picture[1]. Deep underground, just south of St. Petersburg, Russia, a red phone rings in the command center of the X-COM East-Central Europe base. A man with a lined, craggy face snatches it off the hook and listens for a moment.

“Yes sir,” he says, grimly (moreso than usual, even). He replaces the phone on the hook, and turns to the underling waiting for the word. “Sound the alarm,” he says. “They’re attacking Tehran.”

The base is suddenly a flurry of activity. Soldiers are roused from the barracks, and the drumbeat of booted feet pounds toward the hangars. The soldiers charge up the ramp of their transport, distributing equipment and strapping in while the pilot goes through her preflight checklist. Elsewhere in the base, the panels above Interceptor-1’s hangar slide open, and the airplane screams off into the sky…

Half an hour later, the transport nears Tehran. The radar screen shows the interceptor up ahead, circling on top cover, and the transport sweeps in for a combat landing. The ramp hits the ground, raising a puff of dirt, and the soldiers charge down, weapons swinging around to cover all the approaches. There’s nothing to be seen just yet…

“He went that way!” Ivan shouts, hefting his heavy cannon and pointing around the corner of the convenience store on the corner. A bolt of plasma had shattered one of the building’s windows and deeply scored the wall across the street. “Day, Takahashi—watch those windows. Davis, get on the north side of the street and keep his head down. Guthrie, you’re with me.”

Davis runs to the far sidewalk, but before he gets to his place there’s that infernal noise again, and a plasma bolt from the side of the street that was supposed to be cleared hits him full on, and he rocks to a halt, staring wide-eyed at the place where his arm used to be. His mouth moves, and he keels over. Day spins around and starts to fire at the window the shot came from, and Ivan screams at Guthrie to throw a grenade around the corner, and it goes off and Ivan and Guthrie charge after it, only to find themselves facing two of the aliens, pistols humming as they lift them to fire. They dive back behind the corner as the bolts fly past, and hear Day’s terrified scream. Ivan looks, and standing over Day’s corpse is a giant two-legged monstrosity, beady eyes swinging around to lock onto Ivan and mouth of razor teeth hanging open. “Go! Go! Back to the transport!” Ivan shouts, and his heavy cannon bucks in his arm as he puts an armor-piercing round right between the monster’s eyes and it’s still coming

Micheline Durand listens to the squad radio channel with growing horror. It’s a massacre. There are screams, and then the rattle of automatic weapons fire, which echo a moment later through the transport’s open ramp. Micheline tries frantically to raise someone, anyone. Another sound, then, without the radio’s distortion, and a plasma bolt slams into the wall of the transport inches away from her head. She cracks off a wild shot from her pistol and hammers the ramp switch with her other hand, cowering, trying to make herself as small a target as possible. The ramp rises painfully slowly, and Micheline dives forward into the pilot’s chair. The engines are still hot, thankfully, and the transport rises from the ground, small arms fire flashing past the cockpit window. Micheline looks at her hands, which are shaking uncontrollably. All dead, she thought numbly. All dead…

So yeah. There’s your weekend bonus[3]. You’d think that, since I’m apparently the only line of defense between the aliens and the poor defenseless civilians, the governments of the world would be a bit less stingy. I mean, $6 million a month, and then less when my soldiers, sans body armor, night vision goggles, and decent weapons, get slaughtered by aliens with plasma guns?

That’s not to say I’m not having a riot, though. It’s good to play classic games every now and again, if only to remind yourself how much more forgiving games have become.

Interesting. Clocking in at nearly one thousand words, this is the longest post currently on the site. I guess that’s what I get for sticking in a bunch of extra fiction.

[1] Only with words, though, because that’s the only kind of picture I know[2] how to paint.
[2] To some degree, at least.
[3] Slightly different from the weekday stuff in tone. Also probably not very good, since I just sort of threw it together without much in the way of actual thought.

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