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Literature
XCOM: The Why Bother Files
Chapter 1: Operation Dead Man Shopping
“42-inch chest” Sergeant Cassandra York announced, removing the measuring tape from around the recruits’ chest. York had joined the XCOM project from serving with the British Army in Afghanistan during the height of the campaign. A direct and uncompromising soldier to her enemies, her squad mates found her unwavering resolve even amidst a crisis served her well as the teams’ medic in the field. This clash of battlefield tenacity and unabashed care she displayed to those under her command earned her a position as a sort of surrogate mother figure among the younger members of the team.
“42 in the chest” Corporal Wesley Lambert repeated as he typed the measurement into the tablet held lazily in the crook of his arm. Having earned his stripes in the Kenyan Army by the age of twenty-one Wesley was among the younger of the recruits brought into the combat arm of the XCOM project. The son of a Canadian journalist and a
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Literature
XCOM 2: Fire in the Night
Chapter 1: Empty Quiver
Alicia Taylor was awoken by the sharp tones of her phones morning alarm. She didn’t so much regain consciousness as feel her tranquil serenity being ripped from her by the devices incessant beeping. It seemed despite experiencing a technological renaissance that thrust humanities transport, medical and communications technologies hundreds of years ahead of its time someone had yet to devise a more pleasant way of waking up in the morning.
Alicia reached out to silence the offending speaker with a clumsy flail of her hand, a near miss forcing her to make a second attempt as she finally struck the silence button. The interminable noise silenced she begrudgingly rolled out of bed to face the day that was to come.
“Ugh” Alicia groaned hoarsely. “Rachel, TV on”
“As you wish” the simulated voice replied.
At her instruction, her apartments artificial intelligence activated the television on the far wall of the open plan apartme
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Literature
English Dream Chapter 2
The Schooner rose and fell on the waves that rippled across the great divide which separated England from the rest of mainland Europe. Alessia and Adrianna leant idly against the railing which ringed the deck, continuing their conversation that had been interrupted in the port. Velia, as she often did during any available time, prepared her weapons for the coming operation.
Fina walked across the deck of the Schooner to stand beside their temporary Captain. “Tell me, Captain, how did you end up working with us?”
Charon’s gaze continued to linger on the sea in front of him. “I’m what you might call a freelancer, people who get them where they’re they want to go. Simple really”
“Sounds rather mercenary to me” Fina said.
“Perhaps it is” Charon replied. “But the reality of life is as long as at least two people have coin or influence someone will always want to get somewhere without drawing someone else’s attenti
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Literature
The Night of the Drunken Halla
Inquisitor Variya Lavellan awoke bathed in the warm glow of the morning light shining through the fluttering curtains on the east side of the tower. The elven Inquisitors mind hummed with a dull rhythm born of the previous night’s jollity on the lash with Bull and the Chargers in the Heralds Rest. Variya rolled over in the bed, keen to feel the warm press of her Antivan lovers bronze skin against her-
Variyas outstretched hand found the far side of the bed empty and cold. This was an occasional occurrence, Josephine being a meticulously early riser. By comparison, Variya’s sense of time had become somewhat more fluid after taking up a more permanent residence in Skyhold in the wake of Corepheyus’s defeat. Variya pulled herself up on the bed, feeling the cascade of the sheets across her bare skin. As her sunblind eyes began to clear she found the Inquisitorial quarters empty and a note awaiting her on her bedside table.
Reaching for the neatly folded note Variya recogn
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Literature
Murder by Moonlight
Prologue: Night on the Tundra
It was a cold, moonlit evening when I first met Inquisitor Lavellan. As the evening reached its peak I found myself standing at the doors of the former Chantry building perched on the side of a frozen mountain which now served as the headquarters of the Inquisition. I wrapped my cloak tighter around myself and began to wonder why the Maker had seen fit to place his faithful among such a frozen landscape.
My inquisitorial officer Captain Ventralis, having divulged few details of my forthcoming assignment beyond the most basic of directions, had instructed me to wait outside of the Inquisition headquarters for the arrival of Inquisitor Lavellan.
The large doors of the Inquisition headquarters swung open on well-worn hinges. Expecting to be faced with the emergence of some large individual or procession of Chantry sisters instead I turned to be met by a short woman in a thick winter cloak. The woman strode past with an unshakable determination, forcing me ont
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Literature
Taming a Wolf Howling at the Moon
Tokaku didn’t feel comfortable leaving Haru alone like this. Even as the cavalcade of would be assassins slowly thinned she could not afford to lower her guard until every single one of them had been dealt with.
Opening the door to their shared dormitory room it became immediately apparent that something was out of place. The moment she opened the door Haru should have rushed to greet her in her unusually cheery manner; instead she was met by uniform silence. Tokaku instinctively drew her dagger from her belt and began a cautious advance into the unknown.
A blade was a far more versatile weapon than a gun, firearms being limited to simple point and shoot and liable to jams and accidental misfires. A knife by comparison could only be truly operated offensively if the wielder made a conscious effort to attack. The floor creaked and flexed beneath her boots as she crept forwards. There were no signs of disturbance in the room, hardly a comfort when facing attackers who relied exclus
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Literature
The New Valuan Armada
The New Valuan Armada
A calm wind ruled the skies bathed beneath the lunar glow of the seven moons. Barely a flutter of pale white cloud marked the view of unbroken sky blue in all directions. A tranquil silence carried across the bridge of the New Valuan Armada Endeavour class experimental battleship, Captain Alicia Cousland stood on the raised command platform overlooking the bridge staff as they carried out their duties.
“All systems operating within normal parameters” announced the bridge engineer.
Upon ascending to the throne in the wake of the cataclysm five years ago Valuan Emperor Enrique had established a raft of reforms across all aspects of Valuan society, intended on reducing the vast social and economic gap between the wealthiest and the poorest across the empire. One of the largest reforms was the establishment of the New Valuan Armada. Built from the remnants of the previous administration its focus shifted towards technological advancement and training for c
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Literature
XCOM Beneath her Violet Flame Epilogue
Epilogue: So That Wars can End
Weeks had passed since her Gift had been revealed. As she had predicted others with the same abilities were soon discovered amongst the soldiers of XCOM. Men and women she had fought alongside since the beginning of this campaign, even raw recruits with barely their first taste of combat against the aliens were revealed to have these latent abilities.
In that time the engineering and research staff had completed construction of the Hyperwave Relay and with it discovered the Overseer and the Ethereal Device. Shortly afterwards the Temple Ship emerged, threatening to tear the planet asunder in their final desperate effort to bring the human race to its knees. Their only hope was for an individual to enter the Gallop Chamber and interact with the alien artefact that was the source of the alien’s power. In the end there could be only one volunteer, one sacrifice.
*******************
Big Sky touched down on the surface of the Temple Ship. Strike One, the
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Literature
English Dream
Chapter 1: English Dream
Five weeks had passed since their return from the winter city of Moscow. The time had been well spent training and leading anti-Templar operations within the Italian capital and the surrounding countryside. Now Master Auditore was dispatching them on their next assignment.
An Assassin cell operating in London had received word of a Borgia weapons contract being arranged in the city. Rumours circulated that the Templars were to meet with the goal of arming all of Europe for full scale war. The Assassins goal was to identify and eliminate the leaders of the operation with the primary target being the contractor them self. So far the only clue to their identity was their alias, Lupo. Master Ezio had informed all of them that the coming assignment would be personal for each of them.
For Fina, this Templar ordered the attack on her family after her father refused to bend his knee to forge Templar steel.
Velia, the Borgia seek to use the resources gained from this de
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Literature
The Norma Hunt
The Norma Hunt
A flash of lightning followed by a crack of thunder marked the storm which continued to rage beyond the walls of the facility.
She felt the burn of the cold concrete beneath her bare feet as she ran, the rhythmic clap echoing through the confined corridor.
She went this way!
She heard the rhythmic thump of approaching boots fast on her heels. She turned a corner at the end of the corridor, another long open expanse spread before her offering little safety. It had been this way all her life, for as long as she could remember. The cycle had to be broken, she had to escape, she had to be free.
The ever looming threat of death was proving to not even be her greatest fear in life. Her greatest regret would be to leave this world unloved, having only known happiness at the helm of a device born only to destroy. She continued to run down the open corridor, hoping and praying that her salvation would be found-
Stop!
A voice called out behind her. Her feet refused to slow.
We
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Literature
Mothers Shadow Chapter 2
Chapter 2: The Night of the Thief
The young traveller left the Sanctuary at the rise of dawn. Discarding her robes for a black leather tunic and pants concealed beneath a travellers cloak she hoped such sombre attire would allow her to tread the open roads undisturbed. She mounted her borrowed steed, Shadowmere, and set out on her journey towards the eastern fringe of the frozen land.
Sofie had chosen to remain on the main roads and soon found herself passing through the hold capital of Falkreath. Although the estate she had called home for the past few years had only been within a few miles of the town this was one of the few times since she had come here since her mother’s passing. As her horse trotted slowly through the street she strained to overhear the fleeting conversation of two men standing outside the local inn.
“Wasn’t that the estate of the Dragonborn?”
“Yeah, I heard something happened a few days ago. You hear anything?”
“The guard
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Literature
Dragon Training
Dragon Training
Sorceress Apprentice Bianca sat cross-legged on her large double bed in her quarters deep within the heart of the Sorceresses citadel. Bianca allowed her mind to clear, consciously ignoring all external stimuli from her mind. The gentle tweets of the birds on the windowsill, the heat resonating from the fireplace across her room washing over her bare face in waves, the slow thumping of her beating heart inside her chest all shifted in the background. Bianca let a slow, gentle breath flow silently past her lips.
Her eyes snapped open, she extended her arm outwards in front of her. “Ahring Abode Yabi!” she read the complex script from the spell book lying across her crossed knees. The small common plant in front of her began to rumble and shake, Bianca’s magical influence quickly expanding the creatures size to three times its natural mass. Pearl white fangs grew from the tranquil blue petals. Its alien throat growled with demonic rage. “As abang!&
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Mature content
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Literature
Photo Op Chapter 5
Chapter 5: The Long Road Home
“Angela?” Sasha asked as Angela lingered near the Bridge door. “May I speak with you?” Angela knew whatever Sasha wished to discuss was important, no one ever addressed her by her full name otherwise. Angela turned on her heel to approach Sasha. “Bridge staff, dismissed” Sasha ordered. Angela’s fears regarding the current situation only grew as the half dozen Galactic Rangers operating the Phoenix’s bridge without a word.
Sasha turned her command chair to face Angela. “I wanted to talk with you, alone”
Angela remained sceptical but was willing to entertain the idea. “Talk, about what?”
“I have noticed as we travel together that you have grown increasingly closer to our Lombax friend” Sasha said.  “I believe the two you of you share a history”
“I believe you do as well?” Angela interjected; Sasha simply stared back at her with a piercing, feline
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Literature
XCOM Beneath her Violet Flame Chapter 4
Chapter 4: The Scientist and the Psionic Soldier
The door to the secure laboratory slid open with a mechanical whirr. Kiara immediately felt an unnatural chill washing over her. Intertwined with the unsettling scent of disinfectant and sterile plastic hanging thick in the air indicating a medical facility came a looming feeling which hinted more towards a spiritual or other supernatural disturbance. Such was an odd combination which only served to feed her misgivings of what was to come. Two others dared to follow her into this unnatural abyss.
Sergeant Lewis ‘Broadsword’ Edwards had eagerly volunteered for the procedure. After his experiences during the assault on the alien base, and the tragic circumstances surrounding sister, he was looking for a shield, and a sword.
Corporal Evana Burke, a new addition to XCOM’s operations followed swiftly beside them. Her research duties diverting her away from Strike Team operations the past few weeks meant that Kiara had yet to
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Literature
XCOM Beneath her Violet Flame Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Ghost in the Laboratory
“Perhaps this time I will finally be able to have you assist us with a prototype which you will not so easily be able to crash or fly around the room like a blind bat” Dr. Vahlen said as they returned to the testing facility.
Kiara began to muse of the subject, she had to admit that the lack of a propulsion or self-contained rappel lines would prove difficult to crash, but she knew she would find a way. “I thought bats were blind anyway”
“A common misconception, my young soldier. The truth is bats can see perfectly well but rely on their echolocation ability to hunt their prey. But I did not bring you here to discuss the physiology of Chiropteran’s, instead please direct your attention to this specimen” Dr. Vahlen presented the prototype laid out on the low metal table before them. “This represents our latest developments in the field of stealth technology. Originally these systems were conceived to conc
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Very effective piece. The pale coloration and light blue hair demonstrates the subjects lifelessness. I quite enjoy the darkened eyes. ...


The deviation helps to demonstrate how truly insignificant we are against the other populaces of the universe. While some believe earth...

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The deviation is inspired. The creature is portrayed as elegant, mystical and mesmerising. The light almost appears to flow across the ...

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Chapter 1: Operation Dead Man Shopping


“42-inch chest” Sergeant Cassandra York announced, removing the measuring tape from around the recruits’ chest. York had joined the XCOM project from serving with the British Army in Afghanistan during the height of the campaign. A direct and uncompromising soldier to her enemies, her squad mates found her unwavering resolve even amidst a crisis served her well as the teams’ medic in the field. This clash of battlefield tenacity and unabashed care she displayed to those under her command earned her a position as a sort of surrogate mother figure among the younger members of the team.

“42 in the chest” Corporal Wesley Lambert repeated as he typed the measurement into the tablet held lazily in the crook of his arm. Having earned his stripes in the Kenyan Army by the age of twenty-one Wesley was among the younger of the recruits brought into the combat arm of the XCOM project. The son of a Canadian journalist and a British schoolteacher his fair skin combined with his deep accent embodied a melting pot of cultures akin to his homeland.

York shifted the measuring tape to measure the recruit’s height. “76 inches”

“You’re kidding me?” Lambert could not help but protest.

York rechecked the measurement. “No, 76 on the dot”

“You realise that means it’s going to have to be a custom order” Lambert replied as he continued entering figures into the tablet.

“Not necessarily” replied York, recoiling the measuring tape and walking over to inspect the readout on the tablet

“What do you mean ‘Not necessarily’?” Lambert queried, adding the final entries with a flourish of his free hand.

“Can’t we just, you know” York insinuated with a shift of her head. “I mean he’s hardly going to feel it or anything”

“Well, that’s not really the point is it” Lambert insisted. “It’s a form of respect for those who served”

“Who says he’ll be around long enough to do anything” York persisted. “Remember Jenkins?”

“You mean the one with the…?” Lambert asked.

“No, the other one” York replied. “The threshing machine”

“Oh yeah” replied Lambert, the memoires returning to the forefront of his mind. “But, really, what are the odds on that happening again?”

“Fine” York threw up her open palms in admittance of defeat. “I’ll ask him”

Finally acknowledging their recruit, who until now had been patiently waiting as the discussion had gone on without him York retuned to face the young man.

“Tell me, what was your name again son?” York asked the recruit.

“Squaddie Adam Wyatt, ma’am” Wyatt was very much the spitting image of the all-American soldier. Early twenties, close cropped brown hair, light skin, toned physique beneath his standard issue olive drab fatigues.

“All set to fight some aliens?” York asked.

“It’s what I trained for ma’am” Wyatt replied with the same enthusiasm York saw in every recruit she met; they soon grew out of it. “Just hand me a rifle and point me where you need me”

“Where are you from, Wyatt?” York asked.

“Traverse City, Michigan” Wyatt replied. “Just north of Chicago”

“Got any family back home?” York continued with her questioning.

“Parents and a little sister” Wyatt continued.

“And do you love the Earth?” York shifted the subject.

“Undoubtedly, it’s our planet” Wyatt said.

“And you want us to have the best chance of protecting it?” York asked.

This question threw him for a moment. “Of course”

“And you understand that to do that, we all have to be prepared to make sacrifices?” York asked. This time Wyatt simply nodded in reply. “So, you get how a small amount of discomfort with it being a bit tight would do a great deal towards helping the XCOM project succeed?”

“Tight, ma’am?” Wyatt asked, confused.

“Only a few inches” York assured him. “You’ll hardly notice”

“I guess so” Wyatt replied, the resolve in his voice faltering this time.

“Glad to hear it” York gave him a reassuring clap on the back. “You’re goanna make your sister proud. And don’t worry, we’ll make all the adjustments. A little off the top and bottom and you’ll fit right in” York took the tablet held out by Lambert. “Just sign here and we’re all done.

Accepting the offered tablet Wyatt’s eyes scanned up and down the page until they came to rest on- “Wait, does that say coffin?”


*******************************

GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENT – ALL XCOM PERSONNEL

Effective immediately, Sergeant York and Corporal Lambert are relinquished of any duties related to supply and outfitting of new recruits and will be reassigned to less ‘people-orientated’ positions.


XCOM Rule 134: Rookies are measured for armour during induction, not coffins. Stop telling them otherwise.
134a: ‘We don’t measure you for coffins because there usually isn’t enough left to bury’ is not a viable alternative either.
XCOM: The Why Bother Files
A series of short stories based on the original 'Things XCOM Operatives Are No Longer Allowed to Do' list as well as a few other rules thrown in for good measure.

The full original list can be seen here.

docs.google.com/document/d/1Bq…

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Chapter 1: Empty Quiver


Alicia Taylor was awoken by the sharp tones of her phones morning alarm. She didn’t so much regain consciousness as feel her tranquil serenity being ripped from her by the devices incessant beeping. It seemed despite experiencing a technological renaissance that thrust humanities transport, medical and communications technologies hundreds of years ahead of its time someone had yet to devise a more pleasant way of waking up in the morning.

Alicia reached out to silence the offending speaker with a clumsy flail of her hand, a near miss forcing her to make a second attempt as she finally struck the silence button. The interminable noise silenced she begrudgingly rolled out of bed to face the day that was to come.

“Ugh” Alicia groaned hoarsely. “Rachel, TV on”

“As you wish” the simulated voice replied.

At her instruction, her apartments artificial intelligence activated the television on the far wall of the open plan apartment. The first channel that came on, as always, was the state approved ADVENT News Network.

“-Top story today” the newscaster announced. “Construction has begun on a new clean energy facility on the south coast of the of the British settlement….”

Alicia went about her usual morning routine. Walking into the kitchen she retrieved a bowl of cereal and fruit from the cabinet, eating to the tune of the news broadcast playing in the background. After breakfast, she headed into the bathroom to shower, feeling the warm cascade of the water over her heated to just the right temperature.

Returning to her bedroom, refreshed and ready for the day, she settled on an office casual outfit consisting of dark trousers and a snow-white top lined with icicle blue trimming. Opening the top drawer of her dresser she retrieved the small laser pistol concealed underneath a pile of freshly pressed tops. The weapon would likely prove little use if she ever came to needing it but it none the less remained a source of comfort as she willingly marched herself into the lions’ den.

As one of the new prototype laser pistols remanufactured from the aliens’ own weapons technology the techs on the Avenger assured her it wouldn’t register on the alien’s scanners. Probably. Sequestering the weapon in the hidden pocket of her jacket she steeled herself to step out of her apartment and into the street, prepared to play the role of the perfect ADVENT citizen.

Walking down the spotlessly clean streets of this glittering utopia of New Luxembourg City her mind began to wonder of what things had been like before the invasion. At 25 years old her memories of life before the occupation were few and vague at best. But if archive TV shows were to be believed it was a hilarious laugh a minute comedy intermixed with hopeless romanticism intercut with grand gestures of love. She began to ponder if any of those living in the settlement, those who experienced it and those who did not, ever considered what life was like before. Or maybe they were so caught up by the stories of the aliens being able to read minds that they never deviated from the state sponsored happy thoughts even within their own heads. In reality, the stories were true, but it was unlikely that happy thoughts would have helped either way.

As she continued her morning walk she withdrew her phone from her pocket, to all the world appearing to be musing herself with some idle distraction or another. The truth was that the device had been stripped of all but its most basic functions, lacking the navigation and interconnectivity and therefore tracking capability present in all phones available within the settlements. It would have been strange for her not to at least appear something to have one to hand so this served as the most effective compromise.

Glancing up from her phone she finally began to take in the view of the glistening skyscrapers which rose high around her on all sides. She had never liked cities, having grown up in the countryside in England. But she remembered dad having mentioned coming here for business one time, how he described the rich culture of the historic district.

After the alien regime change she had relocated with her mother and father to the newly created settlement founded over what had once been London. At first it had seemed idealistic, but only a few years later a freak road accident had taken her mother away from her, it seems some tragedies persisted into this new world order.

Shortly after her twenty-first birthday her father had begun to develop the initial signs of Cancer. A visit to the local Gene Therapy clinic lead to a recommended transfer to a facility in New India for specialist treatment. Alicia offered to go with him but her father had insisted her work was too important to give up. She lost contact with him shortly after he left.

Attempting to gain any information through the local Gene Therapy office proved fruitless. But it was during one of her frequent trips to the clinic to consult with another in an endless stream of bureaucrats or doctors that she began to hear talk of others who had lost contact with relatives sent for treatment. At first she ignored it but the more times she visited the greater in number the stories grew, each sharing common elements and themes. After deciding to seek answers herself she travelled to the facility in New India only to be told that they had no record of her father ever being admitted for treatment.

Her suspicions raised even further Alicia decided to seek out a group she had heard rumour of who were investigating the disappearances. It seemed that just knowing of their existence was enough to warrant a visit from the authorities and she soon found herself in ADVENT custody. It was only the timely intervention of operatives of a group previously unknown to all but a few that saved her from disappearing herself. This was how she found her slef a part of the revived XCOM project under the leadership of the same Commander who had resisted the initial invasion.


After some initial training, she was inducted in XCOMs strike team as a Specialist. While her skills were more technically based than suited for infiltration it was decided she would be the best operative to undertake this assignment.

Adams, the teams’ demolition specialist and a veteran of the first XCOM project, freely admitted that he was far more suited to the role of destroying targets rather than attempting to subvert them.

Sterling, their recon and assault specialist, had been the initial choice only for some initial investigation to discover that he was still on an active wanted list in the settlements. As far as could be ascertained he was wanted by the ADVENT for the damage done during his escape from the Frankfurt settlement involving some X4 charges and a modified steamroller. Security camera footage obtained after the event showed him riding the vehicle through the city centre while yelling to his accomplice (Rough translation) ‘Drive closer, I want to hit them with my sword!’.

And Croshaw, the teams’ sharpshooter, agreed to do it on the condition that she be allowed to wear her Serpent Suit crafted from the remains of the Viper King. She always had been a strange one. Although, perhaps not as strange as the person on the R&D team with the dark sense of humour to come up with the design in the first place. Lieutenant Edwards said it was the alien equivalent of turning Her Majesty the Queen into a fetching battle-ready onesie.

PRESENT IDENTIFICATION

Alicia suddenly found herself bathed in a beam of blood red light, a mechanical voice calling out to her from overhead. She topped in her tracks.

Time to see if Tygan understands alien technology as much as they claim.

Alicia reached into her pocket and held up her falsified administration identity card for inspection. If it turned out Tygan and his team were less adept than they thought this operation would be over before it could even begin. The red light tightened around her as the scanner performed its analysis. If it found her wanting, it would only be a matter of seconds before the ADVENT-

IDENTITY CONFIRMED. TURNER, CHARLOTTE.

The red beam dissipated as quickly as it had emerged, leaving her free to continue her way. Alicia wasted little time before resuming her walk, eager to remove herself from the scanners range before it could request a second investigation of her ID. But even as she walked away that name continued to stick to the forefront of her mind.

Charlotte Turner, her mother’s maiden name. Clearly someone on the development team had a dark sense of humour.

Turning the corner onto the next street she finally caught sight of her objective, a nondescript office building overlooking the main city square which housed the European Headquarters of the ADVENT Transport Operations division. From here a combination of human office workers and artificial intelligences co-ordinated ADVENTs road, rail and flight operations for the entire continent. This marriage of human and computer labour begged the question of why such a thing proved necessary in the first place. Even before the invasion humanity was on the verge of completely automating their logistics and transport infrastructure in developed countries within the next few decades. With the introduction of the alien’s technology, and a twenty year advance no less, this kind of work should prove mere child’s play for a suitably advanced AI.

Perhaps their alien overseers considered such trivial work below even the worth of an AI. The much more sinister explanation was that the conquers realised that leaving their subjects without purpose would only leave them time to contemplate rebellion and dissent.  Better to keep the wheel turning just enough to keep the population docile.

Allowing humanity to take their place in their operations may prove their undoing however, because Alicia was going to use what she learned here to bring ADVENT to their knees.
XCOM 2: Fire in the Night
Playing XCOM 2 I wish they had included more Gurellia element similar to how you dealt with EXALT in Enemy Within by dispatching operatives into ADVENT sites for Recon/Sabotage. The mission would then either be you sneak your way to the objective (Making use of the conceal ability to stay hidden) to evade patrols and watchtowers to avoid being captured or the operatives cover is blown off screen and you have to get them out. This could build up to identifying who amongst your team has turned traitor or has been replaced by Faceless (Infiltrators) and you have to find out who it is before they turn on you in the middle of a mission and make your task that much harder.

There also seems to be little plot regarding the human collaborator that was shown in the opening scenes, more to do with the Aliens running things. It would have been cool if you could have had missions to undermine the government in each sector culminating in you kidnapping the leader himself. Get him alive, you interrogate him for a lead to a prize, dead you decrypt his datapad which takes longer leading to the enemy having time to destroy/move part of your reward.
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The Schooner rose and fell on the waves that rippled across the great divide which separated England from the rest of mainland Europe. Alessia and Adrianna leant idly against the railing which ringed the deck, continuing their conversation that had been interrupted in the port. Velia, as she often did during any available time, prepared her weapons for the coming operation.

Fina walked across the deck of the Schooner to stand beside their temporary Captain. “Tell me, Captain, how did you end up working with us?”

Charon’s gaze continued to linger on the sea in front of him. “I’m what you might call a freelancer, people who get them where they’re they want to go. Simple really”

“Sounds rather mercenary to me” Fina said.

“Perhaps it is” Charon replied. “But the reality of life is as long as at least two people have coin or influence someone will always want to get somewhere without drawing someone else’s attention”

“That sounds like a rather bleak outlook” Fina said.

“I consider myself something of a realist” Charon replied.

“Do you ever consider that there could be a way to make use of your skills to the benefit of humanity as a whole?” Fina asked.

“Look little lady” Charon replied with a weary sigh. “Philosophy is of interest only to those well off enough to not have to work for a living” Charon swiftly returned to the subject at hand. “We’ll land at Dover and once we’re there you-”

“Ship ahead!” Velia declared from her position at the bow of the ship. “They’re flying the English flag”

The entire entourage abandoned their other duties to watch as a military Schooner rode the ways towards them beneath the English flag. The speed at which the small craft approached set the usually calm Charon ablaze.

“Christ, they’re going to board us” Charon cursed. Without warning their Captain swiftly charged towards the middle of the deck, releasing a latch he pulled up the trap door which lead down to the hold. “Get under the deck”

Fina, Alessia and Velia followed his instructions and sequestered themselves beneath the deck. “Not you” Charon told Adrianna, stopping her with the press of his large hand on her shoulder before closing the hatch. Charon retrieved a discarded cloak and cast it over Adrianna’s shoulders, the heavy material stinking of rotten sea life. “Keep the cloak on and don’t say anything”

The English Schooner pulled alongside, the crew casting out hooked lines which swiftly bound the two ships together. Without delaying to receive an invitation a man a military uniform, an officer based on the audacious elaborateness of his attire, came aboard followed by three of his subordinates. The man cast a contemptuous eye across those before him.

“Am I to assume that you are the Captain of this vessel?” the English Captain asked.

“Aye, I am” Charon said, offering little beyond that which had been requested of him.

The Captains eyes traced disapprovingly across the ship in front of him, his gaze passing over Adrianna only to linger slightly longer than she had anticipated. Adrianna raised herself up on her feet, feeling herself being consumed beneath the sheer size and weight of the heavy cloak.

“Who is she?” the English Captain asked to neither of them in particular, simply expecting the answer.

“She’s my daughter” Charon said. “Trying to teach her an honest trade like her father” Adrianna remained silent. “Captain, if I may ask, for the reason for-”

“We have received word of the presence of stowaways wanted by the crown” the Captain said. “Our patrols are searching every vessel we come across until they are found”

The Captain paced across the deck as he spoke, his stride bringing him perilously close to the hatch which concealed the prize he sought. Adrianna saw the glint of metal beneath the Captains jacket.

“What are you looking at girl?” the Captains words awoke Adrianna from her lingering thoughts. “Speak girl. Didn’t your father teach you to show respect for authority?”

“She didn’t mean nothin by it, Captain” Charon interjected in an attempt to diffuse the situation.

The Captain raised his hand high above the girl in preparation to strike. “Speak-”

Adrianna reacted on instinct, drawing her short blade from beneath her cloak she lashed out against the soldier. The weight of the cloak across her shoulders slowed her movement and brought her arm up as she fought to reassert control, turning what should have been a swift and decisive cut across his throat into a harsh gash across his cheek. The cut swiftly erupted in a flurry of blood, the wounded Captain stumbling back and clutching the fresh wound with his free hand in a desperate effort to stem the flow of blood.

The Captains escort were swift to react, drawing their weapons in preparation to deliver vengeance against the one who dared to resist their leader. With the soldier’s attention focused on Adrianna the Assassins, having heard the commotion brewing on the deck, burst from the ships hold with a loud crash of wood striking wood.

Fina made the first kill. Focusing on the entourage, she cast a flurry of daggers towards her closest targets, the sharp tips of the weapons pierced the chest armour of the two closest English soldiers. Drawing her short blade from her back Fina lashed out to cut down the first soldier in her path, the decisive attack causing his body collapsing beneath his own weight and collapsing unceremoniously to the deck. The second soldier, still recoiling from the impact of the dagger, proved himself equally unable to save himself as Fina swiftly approached. Fina feinted with her short blade, coaxing the soldier into attempting to counter only for Fina to force her whole weight behind her shoulder and forced the soldier over the side of the deck.

Velia moved with deadly speed, unimpeded by the weight or constriction of armour. Velia ejected the dual hidden blades from her gauntlet, the freshly polished metal glinting in the midday sun. The hidden blades struck their targets, burying between the plates of the soldier’s armour.

Alessia took the most direct approach to face down the final two soldiers of the Captains entourage. The first English soldier threw out a wild swing of his sword, Alessia deflected the blow with the curve of her bracer. Wielding her longsword in her other hand she slashed the soldier across his chest, the fine edge of the blade splitting the smooth leather of his armour. Utilising her forward momentum she lashed out to attack the second guard.

Having recovered his footing the English Captain drew his sword from its sheath, intent on striking down the one who had dared to defy his authority. The Captain swung with the blade of his sword, Adrianna deflected it and intended to retaliate with a slash across his front. Before the blow could connect the Captain struck out with his free hand, the blow met her unguarded midriff with the full force of the impact. The shock of the attack forced Adrianna to her knees as she clutched helplessly at her chest, whimpering weakly to stifle the crushing pain left in the wake of the attack.

As the Captain raised his sword for a final blow Charon emerged at his side, brandishing a discarded sword in an unsophisticated mimicry of true form. The Captain deflected the crude attack with a flourish of his weapon, a retaliatory flourish slashed Charon across his unprotected sword arm. Charon’s sword clanked to the deck, the ferryman clutching his bloodied wound before falling to his knees on the deck.

With the English Captains back turned to her Adrianna saw her movement to strike. The reality of combat was that often fighters expended so much energy protecting their head and their chest they neglected to take into account the vulnerability of their armour around their inner thighs. The presence of several major blood vessels and the lack of significant armour made such a vulnerability one a fighter could ill afford to have exploited.

Adrianna saw her moment, drew her dagger and buried the blade into the Captain’s inner thigh. The primal howl of anguish accompanied the eruption of blood as the weapon was yanked free only to be plunged back down in a frantic bloodlust. Being reduced to little more than butchered meat and torn muscle the man’s leg could no longer support his weight, stumbling to the deck on his knees on the deck.

Adrianna scrambled back to her feet, holding the dagger in both shaking hands in anticipation of another attack. Instead she was faced with an enemy who was beaten, kneeling on shaking legs as he struggled to maintain consciousness.

“Little gutter ra-” the Captains final curse died upon his lips as he fell lifeless to the deck.

The fog of battle began to disperse, the adrenaline which had flooded their bodies began to sweep away to be replaced by the encroaching weight of fatigue. A conflict which had felt like hours in reality had lasted mere minutes, the perception of the world returning to its normal pace.

“What the hell happened?”

A voice returned Adrianna to the stark reality, feeling the warmth of the fresh blood which tainted her snow white robes drifting further away.

Charon fought to keep himself upright, clutching his wounded arm as he leant against the ships mast to steady himself. “The little bitch stabbed him” Charon pointed a blood soaked finger in accusation with his good arm, wincing with refreshed anguish at every movement.

The gaze of the three assassins turned to Adrianna, their unflinching vigil demanding an explaination.

“He was a Templar” Adrianna spoke in her own defence. Adrianna knelt down over the body of the fallen English Captain, still expecting the Captain to return to life. Drawing back the ruffle of his jacket Adrianna retrieved an ornate cross centred by a blood red jewel, the insignia of the Templar order. Velia accepted the offered trinket from her counterpart, holding it up to the light to test its authenticity.

“If the Templars are already aware of our presence it can only be because of that stunt at the docks” Velia said, turning to her companions. “This could compromise our entire operation”

“That ‘stunt’ was what allowed us to get out of the port in the first place” Alessia was first to interject in her friend’s defence.

“We could have found another way” Velia persisted, having spent her life crafting a hunting style based around precision and subtlety only to see it go up in flames.

“And by the time we made it to England the Templars meeting would already be over” Alessia persisted. “It’s not Adrianna’s fault, she wouldn’t do anything-”

“Do not allow your personal attachments to interfere with the assignment” Velia retorted.

“Do not speak to me of attachments” Alessia snapped. “We all have a personal stake in this assignment”

“Which is why we cannot afford to risk the assignment on someone who is a liability” Velia said.

Alessia refused to falter. “Adrianna is here under Master Auditoures instruction-”

“Do not use the Masters name as a shield” Variya pointed an accusing finger at Alessia. “Your history with her should not afford her any special privileges now”

“I am afraid I have to agree with Velia” Fina interjected. While her companions had been consumed debating amongst themselves Fina had taken it up on herself to treat their wounded ferryman. Having treated the wound with medicine she had bandaged it as best she could with the few supplies she had to hand. Fina raised herself to her feet and rose to join the ongoing discussion. “If her actions continue to work counter to the objective we can ill afford to have her”

“But she did the right thing, both here and at the docks” Alessia pleaded. “She has done nothing but risk her life to assist the mission”

“She was lucky both times” Velia said. “How can we be certain our luck will continue?”


*************************

In the wake of the unanticipated delay the Schooner was brought back to its original course, bound for the southern coast of England. To conceal the fate of the English patrol the ship was scuttled with all hands aboard. As far as the world at large would know it was an accident, a tragic loss of life with none to blame but the sea.

Fina took position at the tiller, guiding the ship beneath the watchful eye of their injured Captain. Velia resumed methodically cleaning and preparing their weapons for the coming task. Adrianna sought to keep herself busy, useful and distant from her high-strung companions and set about removing the lingering blood stains. It was vital that everything appeared normal by the time they reached the port, cleaning the deck seemed an appropriate task for a novice of the group.

Alessia appeared next to Adrianna, taking up another cloth she began cleaning a stain on the deck beside her. In their previous life the very thought that the future lady of the household would be on her knees scrubbing the floor would be utterly unthinkable. As the two friends continued to work side by side Adrianna was the first to fill the silence between them. “Velia hates me doesn’t she?”

“A rather blunt question” Alessia replied, noticeably she did not deny it. “Velia is a complicated person. She is not the kind of person to rush into action, preferring to act with thought and precision. She takes time before she can trust another person”

“And what about Fina?” Adrianna asked.

“Fina is a wonderfully creative and loyal person” Alessia said. “Once you are accepted by her she will not hesitate to lay down her life for you. Betray her, and she will find no end of creative of ways to inflict pain”

“You seem to know them both quite well” Adrianna said.

“We’ve been working together continuously since I departed. You tend to form attachments with people you find in a similar situation as yourself” Alessia reached out to clasp Adrianna’s forearm in her hand. “Just try to keep it together once we reach England”

Adrianna gave a low chuckle. “You sound like a mother scolding her daughter”

“Perhaps I do” Alessia replied. “But it’s only because I don’t want to see us return to the three-person team”
Inquisitor Variya Lavellan awoke bathed in the warm glow of the morning light shining through the fluttering curtains on the east side of the tower. The elven Inquisitors mind hummed with a dull rhythm born of the previous night’s jollity on the lash with Bull and the Chargers in the Heralds Rest. Variya rolled over in the bed, keen to feel the warm press of her Antivan lovers bronze skin against her-

Variyas outstretched hand found the far side of the bed empty and cold. This was an occasional occurrence, Josephine being a meticulously early riser. By comparison, Variya’s sense of time had become somewhat more fluid after taking up a more permanent residence in Skyhold in the wake of Corepheyus’s defeat. Variya pulled herself up on the bed, feeling the cascade of the sheets across her bare skin. As her sunblind eyes began to clear she found the Inquisitorial quarters empty and a note awaiting her on her bedside table.

Reaching for the neatly folded note Variya recognised the elegant script as belonging to the Inquisitions Antivan Ambassador.

Variya

There have been moments since we have been together when I have felt I could not even begin to comprehend what motivates you to do the kinds of things you do. Last night I believe you finally revealed your true colours to me after all this time. The things you said resolved any lingering thoughts I may have had as to the future of our relationship.

I will be away at Redcliffe for a summit; we will talk more when I return this evening.

Josephine

Variya noticed a note hastily scrawled at the bottom.

I told Alicia to prepare my things; I suggest you do the same.

Variya read and re-read the note in her hands, clearly overlooking something in the words. While they may have had disagreements, like any other couple, they had always resolved them together. Even with the weight of the world resting upon their shoulders their relationship remained resolute, the thought that Variya could have done anything to upset Josie they could not resolve together was heartrending.

Variya racked her brain thinking what may have transpired the night before but nothing returned to her no matter how hard she tried to recall it. Variya could not stand the idea of sitting idle in anticipation of Josie’s return, the thought only drove her to find the cause before-

“Good morning” a familiar voice drew her back to reality.

The voice belonged to Alicia, a human attendant from Haven, who had served the Inquisition almost since its inception. The young woman, entering into her early twenties, had a soft round face dotted with a varied constellation of red freckles. Despite her attempts to constrain it in an Orlesian braid some strands of her curly red hair rebelliously escaped to cascade across her shoulders. Alicia was wearing the practical attire with just a hint of class as befit her position with the Inquisition.

Variya was still coming to terms with the concept of having attendants at her service. While the Inquisition was embattled with Corepheyus things had been simple. Variya would go out long operations and upon her return to Skyhold she would always find fresh clothes prepared, baths drawn and a fluffy bed for her to fall into. With Corepheyus defeated and engagements away from Skyhold few and far between Variya was forced to confront the reality of having someone dedicated to her service. Alicia, to her credit, undertook her duties with a large degree of autonomy, ensuring the bed was always freshly made and the quarters were thoroughly cleaned.

Alicia threw open the curtains with an elegant flourish, temporarily blinding the Inquisitor as she shifted beneath the covers. “How are you feeling today, Variya?” Alicia was unique among the Inquisitions staff among the few who referred to the Inquisitor by name rather than by rank, some continuing to do so from habit and others from reverence.

“Alicia” Variya said, clearing her voice hoarse of the lingering remains of the night before. “Have you seen Josephine today?”

“Lady Josephine left Skyhold early this morning” Alicia said. “The attendants mentioned something Redcliffe, and that they’d be back by nightfall” Alicia rounded the edge of the bed, placing a water bowl and fresh towel down on the bedside table. “If I may say so, you don’t look quite right this morning”

That was putting it diplomatically; still it was more than anyone else would have ever said. With the whole world placing her atop a pedestal Variya felt it was important she had people close to her who could keep her grounded.

“I have the strangest feeling I may have done something incredibly stupid last night” Variya replaced the note on the bedside table. “And I intend to find out what” Variya cast the bed covers away with a dramatic flourish. “Come Alicia, the hunt is afoot”

And with that Variya stormed out of the quarters with renewed fervour determined to uncover exactly what it was she could have ever done to dishonour-

Variya returned to her quarters as swiftly as she had left. “Right after I put some clothes on”



*************************

Variya decided to begin her investigation in the one place she was certain she had been last night. With her faithful companion Alicia at her side she adjusted the rim of her Halla stalker and made best speed towards the tavern.

Entering the Heralds Rest they found the place bustling with activity, Inquisition soldiers, house staff and merchants. Moving deeper inside they found Iron Bull and his chargers in their regular spot in the back of the tavern, enjoying a late morning drink.

“Hey boss” Bull welcomed the Inquisitions Herald with her more down to earth moniker. Reaching down beside his chair he retrieved a fresh bottle, holding it aloft to his companion. “Care for an ale?”

“It’s barely noon” Alicia interjected.

“Your point being?” Iron Bull asked.

“This isn’t a social call, Bull” Politely declining the offer with a raised hand Variya took the vacant seat beside the Qunari mercenary, her lithe elven frame providing an almost comical juxtaposition to his muscled body. “I am currently working under the impression that I did something monumentally stupid last night”

“I’ll say you did” Iron Bull could not resist breaking into a haughty laugh. “In honour of it being Tuesday I broke out the Taliskar Reserve for our closing round of drinks” replacing the offered drink by his side he reached down to retrieve an empty bottle. The jet black glass, illegible script and repeated dragon motifs suggested its Qunari origins. “It translates roughly as ‘Serpents Fury’, named for the trail of anguish it leaves in its wake as it slithers its way through your digestive system over the course of about 6 hours”

“Sounds like a fun time” Alicia interjected, a wry smile creasing her lips.

“Krem got tipsy just from sniffing the fumes” Iron Bull countered. “Dalish took a sip and made it about half way through the joke about the elven hunter before falling asleep at the table. You held on surprisingly well, you managed a whole glass before you started giving praise to the Inquisitor and challenged the whole table next to us to Wicked Grace”

“I mean something stupider than that, Bull” Variya interrupted. “I think I did something last night to make Josie really mad and for the life of me I can’t remember what I did”

Bull took another swig of his drink. “Well it wasn’t anything you did here. When you left here I thought you were heading back to your quarters. I was about to go with you, you know how your impenetrable fortress on top of a frozen mountain can turn rough after dark, when some wet nosed Mabari pup made some comment about my mother being a Bronto. I, of course, made sure to deliver a comprehensive lecture on the proper cohesion of multi-national armies by pinning him to the wall by his collar. I figured there was little damage you could do between here and the other end of the courtyard” Bull chuckled beneath his breath. “Perhaps you’ve managed to prove me otherwise”

Satisfied that they had learned all they could Variya rose from her seat and prepared to set off in search of their next lead. “Thanks Bull. Buy your Chargers another drink on me”

Bull replied with a coarse laugh, his voice trailing after Variya as she departed. “Who do you think has been paying so far?”



*************************

Varric Tethras sat basking in the warmth in the fireplace of the Great Hall, seemingly deeply engrossed in another volume of one of his latest series. “Lovely morning isn’t it” Varrics gaze remained transfixed on the book as he gave his greeting.

“Varric” Variya said. “Were you here last night?”

“I was, Inquisitor, as I usually am” Varric replied.

“You didn’t by chance see me pass through did you?” Variya asked.

“I wouldn’t’ say you passed through” Varric clarified, setting his book down on the table. “What I will say is you stumbled in here, sat across from me and immediately set about telling me what a great author I was for writing Hard in Hightown”

“Like you weren’t already aware of that yourself” Variya joked.

“You told me how much you loved the book and gave me several recommendations for the next chapter” Varric clasped the tip of his stubby nose between his two gloved fingers as the memories of the previous evening swiftly returned to him. “Honestly, it was like the worst fan mail I’ve ever received but in person” shaking his head clear he returned his gaze to meet the Inquisitor. “So, what may I ask has brought on this sudden curiosity?”

“I think I did something last night which officially placed me top of Josie’s list, the one she keeps in the little black book, and I can’t remember why” Variya explained.

“You don’t say” Varric replied. Variya saw it.

“What was that look?” the elven Inquisitor immediately pounced.

“What look?” Varric asked, his gaze awash with faux innocence.

“That look” Variya reaffirmed, unwilling to concede so easily.

“This is just my normal face, Inquisitor” Varric continued to feign ignorance with the same unassuming tone he used so you could never decipher if he was being sarcastic or not. “It’s what I look like when I talk about the things I see”

“Which means you know something” Alicia interjected.

“Which means you think I know something” Varric clarified with a pointed finger. “However what I will say is that upon the conclusion of our conversation, rather than continuing to your quarters as one might expect, you made a sharp detour towards the library”

“Intriguing” Variya mused.

“Variya” Alicia asked. “Why are you suddenly holding a pipe?”

Variya took a long drag of the elegant pipe styled after the curved entwined horns of a bull Halla. “Elven herbal leaves. It helps keep my head clear in a crisis situation”

Variya exhaled a billow of clear smoke into the air, discarding the prop as swiftly as it had appeared. “It seems we need to have a talk with our Tevinter representative”



*************************

Variya and Alicia ascended the stairs leading to the Inquisitorial Library, among one of the finest repositories of knowledge and rare books in the known world. As usual Variya found their Tevinter representative lounging in a comfortable chair, surrounded by tomes and texts from all cultures and every nation.

“Nice to see you again, Inquisitor” Dorian placed his book aside, taking up his wine glass to inhale a snifter of the fine drink. “What pray tell may I assist you with today?”

“I’m looking for anyone I might have spoken to last night” Variya explained.

“I can confirm that I was partial to the pleasure of your company last night” Dorian said. “We shared an excellent drink provided by the latest trade delegation from Antiva and played some games of chess. I must admit that you played surprisingly well given your inebriated state” Dorian took another sip before continuing. “As the night went on the topic of conversation shifted to a discussion of who would win in a duel between a Tevinter Magister, a Ferelden Templar and an Elven Hunter”

“How is that even a debate?” Alicia asked.

“I know, right” Variya said. “The hunter clearly has the advantage in terms of speed and dexterity”

“Which can be easily annulled by a Magisters well-placed ice and fire mines” Dorian countered.

“Which are absolutely useless against the anti-magic abilities of the Templar” Variya said.

“And the Templar would be too encumbered by their armour to fight a fast moving hunter who could strike at any range” Dorian said.

“You see how this could have gone on for a while” Variya turned back to Alicia. “But it wasn’t any of that. I’m looking for something I could do that would upset Josie”

Dorian swirled his wine glass in his hand as he pondered his reply. “I admit that as I remained here the entire rest of the evening, sequestered with my books, my knowledge of the outside world is rather limited. While I may count myself an expert on the subtleties of the female temperament, if anyone were to know the comings and goings within these walls would it not be our Spymaster herself?”

“The mystery deepens” Variya made a grand gesture into the air before her. “Come doctor, we must away”

“Did you just call me doctor?” Alicia asked.

“You applied that salve on me after I fell into that nest of stinging nettles” Variya replied. “If that doesn’t make you worthy of a medical qualification I don’t know what does”



*************************

Climbing further up Skyholds tower into the Rookery, they began to feel the sharp chill as they approached the Spymasters quarters. Variya could never tell whether the air was naturally chilly due to the altitude or deliberately invoked by the Spy Master herself to aid the ambience.

As they peaked the final step they found the Inquisitions Spymaster at her desk, her quilling tracing gracefully across the page before her. “Inquisitor” a final elegant flourish saw the report placed aside, her attention turning to her visitors. “Am I to understand, based your recent actions, that believe me either blind, deaf or hopelessly senseless”

“She’s speaking calmly” Alicia said. “That’s never a good sign”

“I take it that you already know why I’m here” Variya said.

“Normally I would leave your business to yourself” Leliana raised herself from her seat, stepping around her desk. “But when I heard that Josie was involved I must admit that my interest was suddenly piqued” a metallic flash of a dagger as it emerged in Lelianas hand from some place unknown. “You do remember what I said to you when you first courted Josie?” Leliana turned the point towards Variya.

“I believe the words ‘ears’, ‘nailed’ and ‘grain cart’ were involved” Variya said.

“Did she really say that?” Alicia asked.

“Say it?” Variya said. “She left some iron nails next to my bed after I complimented Cassandra on her flourish technique”

“You understand that was merely an Antivan marriage custom” Leliana countered. “A close relative is chosen to ensure the resolve and dedication of a potential suitor. In the absence of Josies parents I had to improvise”

“That” Alicia interjected. “That is what makes her terrifying”

“As for why you are here, I’m afraid I can offer little more than you already know” Leliana said.

“That seems like a surprising admittance for you” Alicia said.

“I’m afraid my eyes do not extend to maintaining a constant vigil over the Inquisitor. I suggested the use of a collar but I’ll leave that between you and Josie” Leliana replied. “Although I have heard tell that the Inquisitor was spotted by one of the staff leaving the stables late in the evening” Leliana turned the point of her drawn dagger aside before returning it to its concealed sheath. “Do with that as you wish”



*************************

Stepping into the Stables they were immediately overcome by the looming smell of animals and hay, a scent alien to Alicia after having spent her tenure with the Inquisition as house staff. They found Blackwall at his workbench, indulging in what had evolved into something of a hobby of his, making simple toys out of raw materials for the children living in refugee camps administered by the Inquisition. Blackwall glanced up from placing the finishing touches on a carving of a Mabari. “Well, you look no worse for wear”

“I’ve been told that a lot today” Variya replied. “I assume that means I met you as well last night?”

“You could say that” Blackwall brushed his hands clean of dust. “Way I remember it I woke up in the middle of the night to find you standing next to my bunk. You told me you’d sheared the Hallas, milked the Nugs and would that be all sir?”

“Milked the nugs, really?” Alicia glanced quizzically towards Variya.

“Before I could get my head together you’d run outside and across the courtyard” Blackwall pointed a large finger back towards the tavern at the far side of the Citadel.

“So you’re saying that after all of this we end up back at the pub” Variya said.

“Sounds like it was a fun night” Alicia said.

“It’s not over yet, apparently” Variya said.



*************************

After hours of searching the route of their investigation brought them back to where they had first begun, the outside of the Heralds Rest.

As they approached they noticed the Inquisitions resident Chantry Seeker, Cassandra practice sparring with a training dummy outside of the armoury. It was in that moment it dawned upon her that Casandra was always training in the courtyard until late without fault. Variya and Alicia approached as Cassandra enacted a final flourish against her opponent.

“Cassandra” Variya said, Cassandra turning towards her. “I’m sure you’ve heard by now”

“I have. I had hoped it would remain undisclosed for the sake of the Inquisition.” Cassandra sheathed her practice sword at her waist, a faint sigh escaping her lips. “I came out of the armoury after completing my training for the evening and found you sparring with the training dummy, and losing. I hefted you over my shoulder and carried you back to your quarters, I met Josie and she helped you back inside. I’m afraid that’s all I know”

“That’s it” Variya cast her hands up in defeat, succumbing to fatigue and allowing herself to collapse flat against the ground beneath her. The hope and adrenaline that had been sustaining her had vanished from her body. “We’ve searched up and down Skyhold and we still came up with nothing”

Alicia moved to crouch beside Variya. “As bad as things may seem they’re never as bad as you expect”

Variya glanced up at her. “I enjoy your optimism. The truth is I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to face Josie when-”

“Inquisitor”

A messenger approached, a young man barely into his twenties, dressed in weathered Inquisition armour snapped off a fine salute. “Inquisitor, Lady Josephine has returned”



*************************

Variya had been preparing herself for this moment since morning. Variya shuffled forlornly towards the main gate of Skyhold, the high shadow of the fortification cast over the main courtyard. The entourage, a few Inquisition soldiers and attendants guided a lumbering baggage cart towards the stables to finally rest the haggered beast that drove it. From amongst the crowd she saw the familiar golden plumes of her beloved Josephine’s sleeves, looking as resplendent even after a day’s long ride back from Redcliffe. Josephine noticed the Inquisitor through the crowd, greeting her with a reserved wave even as her face seemed to light up with happiness. Josie was a master of diplomacy, keeping a smile on her lips no matter what she may have been thinking to herself.

“Hello, love” Josie greeted Variya as she approached. “How was your-”

“Josie” Variya interrupted, uncharacteristically downcast. “I am so sorry. Whatever it is I did I am so sorry and I hope you can forgive me” Variya’s hands clasped over her face, steadying herself for what she was about to say. “I have spent the entire day running around all of Skyhold speaking with everyone I could think of trying to decipher what I could have possibly done to upset you and I promise if you’ll hear me out I’ll-”

The press of Josie’s lips to Variyas silenced any more flurried attempts at apologies. “Variya, my darling, I love you with all my heart” Josie held Variya’s cheeks in her hands, feeling her warm blush beneath her fingertips. “But you truly can be a complete and utter clot” Josie’s hands descended to clasp Variya’s in hers. “Now what made you think I was upset with you?”

“You left a note and-” Variya said.

“Oh Andraste!” Josie clasped her hands over her mouth in a rare display of loss of composure. “I’m so sorry. This is all my fault; you should be mad at me”

“Ok” Variya said. “Why should I...”

“Don’t you remember?” Josie teased. “What happened a year ago?”

The gears turned in Variyas head, finally clicking into place with a sudden jolt. In her panicked stupor it had completely passed her by. “Our anniver- Josie I am so sorry I forgot-”

Another impress of Josie’s lips to hers stifled any more fervoured attempt at apologises. “I have been so consumed by work for the past few months that it completely slipped my mind. I fabricated the story about a meeting in Redcliffe so I could have the Castle Forgemaster make you a present. I left the note for you but I was in such a hurry I didn’t consider how it would be interpreted”

Now that Variya repeated it in her mind the script did appear rather rushed, unusual for a woman who would tear up a 500-word report and begin again on the basis of a misplaced apostrophe.

Josie reached into her satchel mounted on her horses’ saddle, retrieving a large piece of hardwood mounted with a golden plaque. Variya read the elegantly engraved inscription:

Inquisitor Variya Lavellan

Inquisition Antivan Fencing Champion

9:41 Dragon



“We came together after you challenged Lord Ortanato to a duel, despite it being an incredibly stupid thing to attempt” Josie said.

“So, just to clarify, what was it I did last night?” Variya asked.

“Cassandra helped you back to our room last night” Josie recounted. “You were completely insensible; Cassandra even said you tried to kiss her”

“Cassandra really said that?” Variya asked.

“Well Varric said it and Cassandra immediately flared red and panically denied it” Josie said.

“Varric was there?” Variya asked.

“Of course, he was helping Cassandra carry you back” Josie said. “I asked him to tell you all of this when you woke up this morning”

“That sneaky dwarf” Variya fumed. “I knew he was involved!”

“The moment that we were alone together you whisked me into your arms and tearily told me how much you cared for me” Josie reached out to clasp Variyas hands. “It was in that moment I decided it was time you met my parents. So I have arranged a trip to Antiva to my families summer retreat, just you and me”

“Josie” Variya brought her lover tightly into a warm embrace.

“Now come” Josie took her elven lovers hand in hers and lead her towards their shared quarters. “You’re going to tell me all about you running around Skyhold trying to make things right”
The Night of the Drunken Halla
While working on The Night of the Inquisition I hit upon the idea of a side-story of a Sherlock themed mystery involving the Inquisitor and a member of the Skyhold staff serving as their trusty attendant. It was at this moment the idea sort of took two divergent paths, one a romantic comedy full of classic Sherlock gags and the other a Thedas murder mystery plot. Here is the completed former, and feel free to check my profile for the opening prologue of the latter titled Murder by Moonlight.

I found this one a lot closer to my established way of writing, lots of terrible jokes and larger than life interpretations of the established characters. After completing something as long and generally more serious in tone (If only slightly) like The Night of the Inquisition it’s nice to kick back and just write something relatively short, fluffy and endearing based on a random idea you had.
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I know I don't write journal entries very often but I decided to now because I have 'Good News Everyone', of sorts.

As far as submissions and random comments my profile is about to go quiet for a few weeks (Yes I know, you're crushed) but the reason for this is because at the end of the week I shall be departing on my first trip to the United States. As some of you know I've been training as an Aircraft Pilot and so now I'm heading to Michigan to train with the air school in Traverse City. Any locals will recognize me as the brit student in a brown bomber jacket who seems way too interested in aircraft and engineering for most people. Anyone who suspects they may have encountered me may utter the phrase 'The Black Wolf from Soviet Russia' to identify themselves as someone who has read this posting. If you receive the response 'Only in winter 1986' rather than the traditional response of 'What the bloody hell are you talking about?' then you'll know you've found the right person.

However before I leave I've got two more chapters to review before I submit them. The first is the next chapter of Soulstorm- Spirits of the Wasteland, in which the Tau finally make contact with the elusive Eldar of Kaurava. The second is the continuation of Photo Op- Maktar Resort or Bust, the continuing saga of Ratchet and companions on the run from the Galactic President for daring to seduce his daughter. After I finish reading over them again I'll submit them into the gallery by the end of the week.

I know that while this is rather late to most PS3 gamers but since I've only just recently acquired one myself I finally managed to complete the PS3 exclusive Valkyria Chronicles. Any of you who have yet to play it I highly recommend it as another instalment from the studio that created Skies of Arcadia (Another of my all time favourites). The two games are rather similar except with VC focusing more on tactical shooting and SoA more towards world exploration but they're both rather like Final Fantasy but actually understandable in what's going on!

Anyone who's been read some of my works will know I hold a love of the video game Mass Effect and the TV show Avatar the Last Airbender. As such it's been an enjoyable time recently which saw the release of Mass Effect 3 and Legend of Korra. Ever since their releases I have been hunting for inspiration to write something on both of them. I don't know whether it was simply a massive case of writers block but it's taken me quite a while to come up with any inspiration sufficient to write about. Finally though the spirit of non-profit writing has smiled upon me and I have finally come up with sufficient inspiration to start writing. Hopefully I'll have something worth showing by the time I return so stay tuned.

I know it's pretty much a mortal sin now to mention Mass Effect 3 without referring to the much debated 'Ending'. (Please note some may consider what I'm about to say spoilerish so take that into consideration). I can kind of see why people would be angry about how it turned out but personally I wasn't surprised. Rather than being annoyed about the ending I think most people are simply bummed that finally most of the mystery has been revealed. Back in Mass Effect you learn the Reapers are an Advanced Machine Race out to kill you, Mass Effect 2 you learn the Collectors are the Protheans, Mass Effect 3 you find out the whole cycle of destruction is to preserve order through mass slaughter. Much like with 'What the Quarians look like' I think most people preferred it when they could let their imaginations go nuts and each had their own personal theories, once the series has given the 'True answer' all that speculation evaporates. I was expecting something along the lines of either the Reapers were pre-programmed from some previous war and after their creators got killed they simply repeated their previous orders or it was their method of growth/development, as suggested by the Human Reaper in the Collector Base.

Personally I don't think the line 'We kill you all to preserve order on the command of another higher being' seems a bit defunct to me but I guess since they've got to have some other mystery to solve in the next instalment otherwise where are they goanna go next?
  • Listening to: The Now Show
  • Reading: Republic Commando
  • Watching: Sea Patrol
  • Playing: Valkyria Chronicles
  • Eating: Unkown substance
  • Drinking: British Tea

deviantID

alimination602
Alex
United Kingdom
Current Residence: UK
deviantWEAR sizing preference: As loose as they come
Print preference: Glossy
Favourite genre of music: Swing
Favourite photographer: Unkown
Favourite style of art: Photo-Manipultation
Operating System: Windows
MP3 player of choice: Windows Media Player
Shell of choice: Unkown
Wallpaper of choice: Red vs Blue
Skin of choice: Lombax Fur
Favourite cartoon character: Sarge
Personal Quote: How Evil
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Journal History

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:iconsargechris:
sargechris Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013
Nice job on your story's its been a while since i been on this site. and posted anything. Well if you watched ep 9 of spartan ops they revealed something more a key to ancient forerunner tech.
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:iconlonewolfartist:
LoneWolfArtist Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the kind comment It's really great to know that theres also someone othyer than me who enjoys lindsey stirlings work I actually play the viola so she's a big inspiration to me ^^"
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012
You play the viola, thats really cool.

I've never been very musical but being in engineering i always find her music calming and relaxing to listen to as i draw up 60 page wire drawings.
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:iconlonewolfartist:
LoneWolfArtist Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Student Digital Artist
yeah everyone says the viola and violin are hard to play but there really simple.and yes her arts are always impressivly relaxing
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
I'm guessing it requires a lot of timing, memory and co-ordination to be able to do it well.
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(1 Reply)
:iconlorcan0c:
Lorcan0c Featured By Owner May 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Hope your birthday is treating you well

:party::cake::party:
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner May 5, 2012
Thanks. I've finally had some quiet time to relax and do some writing.
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:iconlorcan0c:
Lorcan0c Featured By Owner May 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad to hear it.
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:iconwatchamacallit-daal:
watchamacallit-daAL Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks for the fave :D
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:iconsailor-star5:
sailor-star5 Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2011
hello, could you do a star wars clone war story showing bariss trying to help Ahsoka live past the event of the trandoshan kidnapping her.
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
I don't usually take requests and i can't legally be paid upfront for writing them (Copyright laws and all). However if you are feeling generous towards a deviantART writer you could always poke around my wishlist.

I am in the process of writing a similar story involving those two after the incident on Geononosis. However that project is in early stages of writing right now.
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:iconsailor-star5:
sailor-star5 Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
I understand what you say (Unfortunately i am broke as hell at the moment) though i am happy to hear that last tidbit.
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:iconratchetfan123:
Ratchetfan123 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
I faved the first three chapters of photo op by the way its pretty good.
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:iconratchetfan123:
Ratchetfan123 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
Looking thorugh Your favs if you dont mind. The Ratchet and Clank ones especially. I am a big Ratchet and Clank fan so those pics appeal to me. Srry if I sound nuts.
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:iconratchetfan123:
Ratchetfan123 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
Hey man whats up? Hope you had a good new year.
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
Pretty good so far.
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:iconahsokatanofan2:
AhsokaTanoFan2 Featured By Owner May 30, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
lol nice profile checkout mine
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:iconahsokatanofan2:
AhsokaTanoFan2 Featured By Owner May 30, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
lol nice profile checkout mine
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:iconhanaraad:
hanaraad Featured By Owner May 22, 2010  Professional General Artist
Thanks for the watch!
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner May 22, 2010
No prob. I especially like the ME2 comics!
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:iconcoreythemighty:
coreythemighty Featured By Owner May 16, 2010
I absolutely loved your Halo stuff. There needs to be more people like this on the internet. I just don't see or read about people that "get" Halo on the internet. Keep the media coming!
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner May 16, 2010
Thanks alot.

As long as ideas keep coming, i'll keep writing
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:iconcoreythemighty:
coreythemighty Featured By Owner May 17, 2010
I hope to read some new stuff from you soon. It's taking forever for the next Halo book. I'm so ready to find out what happens after Ghosts of Onyx.
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:iconalimination602:
alimination602 Featured By Owner May 17, 2010
Me too.
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:iconrandomness2k9:
Randomness2K9 Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2009
Hey, I realised you didn't appear on my watchers list. What's going on?
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