Summary: What happens when a new agent joins the Chimera Squad, and as luck would have it, one that used to be a Reaper? With a new target to tease, an uneasy relation builds up between him and Torque.
Do have fun.
A young teenager was darting through a forest, his shoes kicking up dirt as he was barrelling through bushes, not having a moment to catch his breath. A loud hiss behind him, a cruel reminder of the reason he was running, getting closer and closer. With adrenaline being pumped into his veins, he did not care how much his lungs and legs were burning. He simply kept going, choosing paths that were easy enough to navigate through for him, but less so for his pursuers.
He never thought that exploring the woods and running around with his friend would ever help save his life. The area was well-known to him, and with the situation becoming more and more dire he knew there was only one way he was getting out of it.
His thoughts were pulled back into focus when a loud crack pierced the silence of the woods, a bright green plasma shot flying just above him. It smacked against a large tree, a hole cleanly blasted into its side. A warning shot or a miss? It didn't matter, he only made sure that every fiber of his being was focused on running as quickly as possible. A single shot decimated the target it did hit and he did not wish to see what effect that would have on his body.
However, the teenager was just that, not a trained soldier. His stamina was running out and the hisses, with occasional orders to stop in English, were only growing louder. But then, he saw his goal - a waterfall formed by a local lake. The memory of his friend joking about the price of the bet to jump down off it flooded his mind. The teen thought how he should collect that debt sometime, as he ran to the water and then... down. No more running and a moment of peace as his body flew through the air, the water approaching fast with every second, as more green lights lit up the night sky just above him.
David, callsign 'Safeguard', woke up on the train on the way to City 31, the terrain outside the window he was leaning against just a moment ago passing by at an absurd speed. Much could be said about ADVENT, but they did know how to set up great rail transport. They might have been used for rather... nefarious purposes during the war and before, but a new coat of paint, some seats and you had a ready-to-go train network.
He shook his head to fully awaken from the recurring dream and checked his phone, to see the time and how far away he was from the city. Luckily for him, there wasn't much distance left to his destination.
"Huh, it seems like I might have napped longer than I expected..." He quietly said to himself and wondered what he could do to make the time fly by faster. He unlocked the device, once more opening the document of agent files he was given to read over. Most of the squad he'd be joining soon seemed to be decent folk. A couple of veterans from the war, some other humans with experience in the field, hybrids which he got used to from his contact with Skirmishers ...and then there were the aliens. But, he was willing to give them a chance. Just like he did with other factions during the war. As long as someone could pull their own weight and had good intentions, he'd be able to put up with them. He only hoped he could do the same with Vipers.
After the war ended, he kept his contact with aliens, even the friendly ones to a minimum. Most of the Reapers did, and with the Lost and Chryssalids still popping up in unexpected places, there was plenty of work to do for someone with a gun. He had deployed in a joint operation with X-Com during the war once, and was impressed with their skill and efficiency during a sabotage mission, but was surprised to hear back from them after this long. He realized his old friends must have put a recommendation about him to X-Com. His willingness to work with the others, something some Reapers outright refused, made him a good candidate for joining the Chimera Squad.
He wasn't going to pretend that he was the only human with some scars from the war. Almost everyone was affected, be it soldiers or civilians that had their family members taken or killed... or tested on. But being chased by a squad of Vipers at a young age, thinking your parents had been killed and joining a group of people that hate the ex-invaders... It was hard for that mindset not to rub off on the personality. It certainly did not help that Vipers happen to be great hunters, as much as he hated to admit it. Great sense of smell, being able to feel vibrations on the ground, a tongue that can simply catch you from afar and snag you in a second... Was he afraid of them? Maybe just a little, but he'd sooner be dead than admit that to someone. Who wouldn't be freaked out by an alien that was essentially a killing machine?
The thought of working with one did not fill him with joy, that's for sure. But, he figured, as long as they weren't a burden, and were at least respectful... maybe it wouldn't be as bad. As long as he had the thing in his vision at all times.
Of course, it wasn't the only alien kind in the Chimera Squad. It was a big poster team of humans, hybrids, and aliens working together, after all. Mutons he did not mind much. They were predictable, loud, easy to see coming and out of all the species, one of the more normal ones. Unlike Sectoids, which had their psionic abilities. Thankfully, there was a requirement for them to wear nullifiers in public areas, and the ones that didn't have one... All it took to resist was willpower. Of that, Safeguard had plenty as he found out during the war when one of them tried mind-controlling him, only to earn a bullet in the skull.
Both the Muton and the Sectoid in the squad he expected to get along just fine. Both of them had been working with X-Com for a while, and most importantly, they did it out of their own will. Axiom peacefully surrendered when the Elders lost the war and then helped with preventing both human and alien casualties. Verge aided X-Com even during the war, solidifying the fact that he wanted to help. He couldn't say the same about Torque, the snake in the team. Everything in her file was about conflict. First ADVENT, then being captured, then prison. And the only reason she chose to cooperate was that she was bored. No change of heart, no empathy for the side she used to murder. If it wasn't for Colonel Jane Kelly, he doubted the Viper would have a place in the squad in the first place. But, if she was good enough to impress the higher-ups at X-Com, that meant she was good enough to... tolerate. He wouldn't allow her to be the reason for him being kicked out of the Chimera Squad, he was sure of that.
As for the city? If one would believe ads trying to get people to move there, then it was the city of the future - the industry was being pushed forward by countless androids that did the heavy lifting, lots of gene therapy clinics and most importantly - its population was made of human, hybrids and aliens, all living in harmony. The reality was not as pretty, and everyone knew it.
The new mayor, a reasonable hybrid lady. A step forward for everyone, only to be assassinated not long after. That combined with the increased activity from various gangs that have resurfaced... And that was without the regular uneasy mix of the population even mentioned. If one came to City 31, they were going to get into trouble sooner or later. But with his history of a Reaper, he was used to it.
His recruitment into the Chimera Squad wasn't only because of his experience, which he had plenty of. He had no previous connections with the rest of the agents, and that was a big reason for him being picked. People were starting to get paranoid, some were throwing ideas such as the whole mess being X-Com's fault. The accusation came from the fact that just when Chimera Squad got into the city, everything seemingly got only worse. The agency needed manpower to be successful, and another alien or hybrid could make everything even more of a mess. So, the director went with a safe choice that was bound to be useful to the team, and at the same time, wouldn't raise further suspicion.
His thoughts were interrupted by a loud honk of the train, as they approached the station. David hid his phone, stretched out, and grabbed his bag, ready to start a new chapter in his life.
"Safeguard! Welcome to the team," Whisper greeted David as he entered the field office. The place did not look very impressive, certainly not something he expected out of a special force. But compared to where he lived at times? At the very least that building had a ceiling.
"Thanks, Whisper," the two men shook their hands, "I assume this location wasn't what you asked for?"
"This dump? Do you even have to ask? And since we are going for difficult questions, I must ask - did you guys eat aliens during the war?"
The newcomer couldn't help but roll his eyes. At this point, that question felt more like a greeting from people that never met a Reaper.
"When there's barely any food, you can't be picky. But no, I did not. I knew some Reapers that did though, even with a steady supply of food from farms," He said in a rather serious tone.
"Is... I can't tell if you're serious or not," Whisper worryingly responded.
"And you might never find out. So, where's the locker?"
Whisper pointed him to a nearby 'room' if you could call it that. In reality, it was just another section of the field office.
"Before you go... As much as I might not get along with her, try not shooting Torque on the spot?"
"Sure thing Whisper," he then left the room with a big holographic map, doing a small two-finger salute as a goodbye.
David went there to get a locker for himself and found one of the other agents there - Verge, the Sectoid.
"Hello, fellow agent," Safeguard offered his hand for a handshake, hesitating for a moment since he wasn't sure if the alien would understand the gesture.
Verge looked down at the offered hand for a second, before grabbing it. A genuine smile on his face as he accepted Safeguard's greeting. "Greetings. You may call me Verge," The Sectoid let go of his hand after a brief moment and took a step back. "Safeguard, correct?"
David expected to feel the cold tendrils of attempted psionic intrusion into his mind, but when he felt nothing, he realized that Verge was asking. "Yeah, that's me."
Verge nodded, not saying anything else as Safeguard looked over the locker room. "I took a peek at your file, getting some information on the tactics we could use together. I think we might be able to do some good work together."
"I know," Verge said, which caused Safeguard to pause and glance at the Sectoid, before a wide grin appeared on his face, "That was a joke."
Verge pointed to individual open lockers, directing Safeguard's attention as he spoke. "These few are empty right now, so feel free to choose the one you like. One next to me is open, but if you take the next open one to the left, you'll be right next to Cherub. I'm sure he would love to have a new neighbor."
"New neighbor shall I be," with that, he went for the on the left and started to make it a bit more personal.
David barely got to unpack his bag into the locker, before a loud alert sounded through their field office.
"Verge, Cherub, Torque, Safeguard - to the map, ASAP," Whisper's pressing voice sounded through the field office.
David paused, and looked at his armor he just placed in the locker. He sighed as he took it out once more and started preparing for the mission.
"Alright, so here's what we have. We've heard reports of suspicious individuals transporting equipment around Riverside. Normally that would be a job for the 31PD, but according to the intel we gathered, several sources point to something big going down... We most likely have a bomb scenario on our hands, so you go in, take down hostiles, and take care of the threat. All of this will be taking place in a research facility, one that has been making progress on the Fade sickness. A target like this already cuts down the list of possible culprits behind it. The lead up to this might have been sloppy, but something this important wouldn't be left to low-level enforcers. Someone in there has more information on what's going on, do your best to capture them alive. Any questions?" Whisper said and looked around at the four agents.
Torque, giving the newest member a dirty look, raised her hand.
"Uh, yes?" He asked with a raised brow.
"Does he have to go?" Torque moved her head into the direction of Safeguard.
"Yes, Safeguard is now a part of the team and this is a perfect chance to get used to one another. Any actual questions? No? Alright, finish any last second preparations. The APC is gassed and ready. Any updates will be patched through comms," Whisper said as all the gathered agents went to the vehicle.
They entered it one by one from the side, Safeguard taking a seat next to Cherub and in front of Verge. The door closed and the APC went off, heading to the mission's location.
The momentary silence was interrupted by Cherub poking the new agent with his elbow, a smile on his face.
"So, new guy. We haven't introduced ourselves properly yet! Everybody calls me Cherub," he offered his hand, and then the two made a handshake.
"Safeguard. It's nice to meet you. Any tips for the first mission?" David asked as he was double-checking all of his equipment, starting with his marksman rifle.
"Just make sure it doesn't go as poorly as mine did. Hard to beat getting shot right into the face and bleeding out on the floor! But hey, it could have gone worse," his optimistic nature was refreshing. It only took a short moment of being around Cherub, and David already knew the two would get along just fine. These days a lot of people simply worry - about tomorrow or how will they coexist with the aliens that were invaders.
"Don't tempt fate. You might be a walking shield and that can tank a shot, but I don't have that luxury," Safeguard smiled and strapped his helmet on. He noticed that Verge was staring at him, without much tact to it.
"Something wrong?" David asked.
"Yes. I have read your file. When I went through it, I expected hostility when I first met you, yet even now I sense none," Verge said.
At first, David had a dreadful thought of the Sectoid going through his head, but he realized that he wasn't sure how exactly the psionics works. And the alien didn't know about his thoughts, just that there wasn't any hostility. He figured that maybe emotions were like an aura to a person. That could certainly be handy during missions.
"Do you sense any here?" Torque asked, ending with a hiss.
"I would rather not answer that," Verge simply stated.
"Working with Skirmishers did teach me cooperation with a past enemy. As long as I can rely on you, we're good. Besides, we're on a job. There's no time or place for personal grudges. I'm willing to give a chance to everyone."
"Of course you can rely on us, we're in this together now! We need to work as a team to succeed," Cherub quickly added before any possible comment from the Viper.
The team's talk was interrupted by the sudden braking of the vehicle, as it came to a full stop. The squad was waiting with their gear ready as the door of the APC opened up. They jumped out quickly, running to the front door of the research facility. There was almost no traffic on the streets as the squad got to the entrance. 31PD had already blocked any roads leading there, making sure as few civilians as possible were in danger. It kept them safe, but also let the targets know something was coming.
From the outside, it didn't seem like anything was out of order. The hologram with the name of the company was working just fine, even despite the gentle rain that was covering the whole city. The door was locked, a red light flickering being the only clue that something could be wrong inside.
"We tried to avoid detection by the terrorists inside, intervention by 31PD was unavoidable, but they have no clue what Chimera Squad is capable of. Aside from blowing a new hole in the wall, the only entrance is the front door. I got in contact with the owner of the building, and she gave us a passcode that should give us administrative access. Normally I wouldn't advise on going through the front, but with how quickly we got here? They won't be expecting us," Whisper's voice sounded through the comms.
Cherub took the lead, using the code from Whisper to unlock the door. With a beep, the light changed the color to green and the automated door hissed open. The hybrid went in first, followed by Verge, Torque, and finally Safeguard.
The quick mobilization of the team and their rapid entry left most of the terrorists surprised, not expecting police so soon and certainly not the Chimera Squad. They were busy stacking objects to work as a cover, and only one seemed to react in time. A lightly armored terrorist gripped the edge of an office table, overturning it as makeshift concealment as he yelled. "The cops are here!"
"We're home!" Cherub yelled as he sprinted in, shield flickering as few of the enemies tried to shoot the charging target. Safeguard saw a heavy gunner pulling up his rifle, aiming at his fellow agent, but before he could even line up a shot, Verge's hand shot out. A purple aura surrounded the target, pulling him up in the air and leaving him there. A loud hiss filled his ears as Torque spit out her poison into a group that was scrambling to get behind a cover still.
Safeguard knew he had to use the element of the surprise to the fullest and focused, trying to see the best target to take down. His team already knew their jobs, and now it was on him to make a move. He looked around, remembering the location of the enemies and he finally saw it. The target that was levitating thanks to Verge had a grenade on his belt, normally quite hard to spot when he'd be behind cover. Using that opportunity, he aimed his rifle and shot the explosive with a single round, making it go off in a green cloud of plasma. The terrorist had no way of surviving it, the blast even managed to damage nearby cover of two other enemies.
"Nice shot," Verge complimented him as the whole team took cover after the initial breach, the terrorist group doing the same.
"How the hell did they send a tactical team so quickly? We should have had more time" The muffled voice of a heavily armored terrorist yelled over the gunfire, "Hold them, we aren't ready to fall back yet!"
With the advantage of numbers, the terrorists stuck to cover, hoping to stall Chimera Squad as much as possible. Every time Safeguard tried to line up a shot, several bullets hit nearby, causing him to pull back. They were being suppressed.
"Time for a distraction!" Cherub struck his shield, holding it in front of him as he advanced. Even if he announced his intent, the very real threat of his movement made several weapons turn on him. The shield flickered as bullets struck the field, red marks of where they connected slowly disappearing as it held strong.
Cherub charging in gave the others a second to breathe, letting Torque return fire while Verge called out enemy locations. Safeguard used his time wisely, instead shifting around the outskirts of the battle. He dashed between cover, managing to flank a target that was firing at Cherub. The defensive approach was strong but predictable, and when they lost track of Safeguard for a moment, he lined up the shot... Stationary targets were a blessing, as all he had to do was wait for him to pop his ugly head out to fire and... boom, the shot went across the facility, piercing the target's skull and hitting the wall behind them.