Darkest Dungeon 4

JOURNAL 4

This evening, while I was engrossed in a very detailed account of the medicinal properties of silver dust ground together with nitrate, I was torn from my study by a loud shout from downstairs, immediately followed by the sound of shattering glass and a hound’s deep, booming barking.  Over the commotion of it all, I heard someone cry out for a surgeon.  Knowing that the people of this sad hamlet probably haven’t so much as seen a surgeon in many a decade, I reluctantly set my scroll aside and went downstairs to see what the urgency was.

The main floor of the tavern was in quite a state.  A large man wearing the garb of a houndmaster was straining to hold back a massive, bleeding mastiff from mauling another traveler, who was barely out of reach of the beast’s maw.  Blood was springing from the hound’s head and his ear was hanging by a mere shred of skin, as blood mixed with shattered glass below it.  The story was explained to me later, but at a glance it was obvious what had happened: the hound had attempted to steal the traveler’s dinner and had been smashed with a glass for his trouble.

I will confess to not being the most altruistic of physicians, with some saying that my avarice would be my eventual undoing, but I have always harbored affection for the Natural beasts of the world and it pained me to see a well-bred hound in such a state.  His master had been the one calling for a surgeon, recognizing that the ear was in danger of being lost.  The rest of the travelers looked on mutely as the hound strained at its collar, but once the master was able to pull him back the offending traveler found an opportunity to make a hasty exit.  To the master’s credit, whose name was Maxwell, he seemed far more concerned about his hound’s well-being than exacting revenge.  He was looking to me desperately for help, and I informed him that I might be able to offer it if he could calm the hound, whose name was Anselm.  With no small effort, Maxwell was able to calm Anselm from his deep, booming bark into a pitiful and pained whimper, which endeared me even more to the beast.  At this point, Anselm’s fur was matted with blood, congealing with his fine hair.  I directed Maxwell to lead him up into my quarters, where I was able to prepare for a minor surgery.

The hound was well trained and obeyed Maxwell’s commands despite its injury, lying down when directed.  I tried to examine the wounded ear but Anselm flinched away from my touch, presumably due to pain, so I retrieved a rag and damped it with ether.  I spoke soothingly to Anselm, both for his and his master’s sake, as I held the rag to his snout, watching the ether take hold.  Once I felt that he was suitably unconscious, I touched the ear again with no reaction from Anselm.  The blood had coagulated inside the wound, but the glass had nearly sliced the ear off the hound’s head at the base, barely leaving it attached.  The ear canal was free of injury, leaving his hearing unimpaired, and there did not appear to be any other significant wounds to his head.  I retrieved a bone needle and line of cattlegut from my surgeon’s bag, and set to work.

I have not had much experience with animal surgery, only treating livestock when I was a young physician, and Anselm’s skin proved to be incredibly thick and loose, making it difficult to force the bone needle through.  I was simultaneously gentle and firm, mustering all my experience as a physician to avoid damage to the ear, eventually feeding the needle through and successfully suturing the ear.  The length of the wound required 6 passes with a needle to ensure that the ear would be flush with the skull, while will hopefully result in healing well.  To prevent fever taking hold later, I took a small smattering of honey and rubbed it over the wound.

Anselm had remained unconscious throughout the entirety of the procedure, and remained that way for some time after.  Regrettably, this entailed Maxwell remaining in my room, though he proved to be an apt conversationalist.  To my credit, I did very little talking, allowing him to fill the silence.  He spoke at length of his time as a Master of Hounds for a royal family in one of the southern provinces before a civil war deposed them, requiring him to flee with Anselm.  During his time there, he had heard many rumors surrounding the Clarke family, tales of the elder Clarke dabbling in the old magic and pulling the young master Clarke from the belly of a demon, who had corrupted the estate as a part of some foul deal.

It all sounded impossible and ridiculous, though in the shadow of the castle on the hill, I could not help but feel there was a grain of truth to it.  Eventually, Anselm started to stir, finding the strength through the lingering ether to stand up.  While waiting for the hound to gather his wits, I asked Maxwell if he had plans to avenge his hound’s injury.  A dark look fell over his face but he remained silent, tending to Anselm.  Worryingly, Anselm tried to paw at the sutures, but Maxwell was able to soothe him enough that he stopped.  He thanked me for seeing to Anselm and left, presumably to his own quarters.

I can feel exhaustion start to take hold now, and the tavern seems to be blessedly quiet tonight.  I hope that by the time I wake, this young Master Clarke will have appeared so I may know if this journey has been a waste of my time.

Interlude 4

XCOM HQ
SITUATION ROOM

Ravenshaw stood with her arms folded, flanked by Talana and Maxwell. The big screen in front of them was showing multiple live feeds from Tokyo, where an alien terror attack was taking place. One particular feed offered an aerial view from a new helicopter, which Ravenshaw was focused on. The helicopter was flying above a freeway in Tokyo that the aliens had blown two ends off of, trapping what appeared to be hundreds of cars in between.

She felt her mouth dry out as the civilians panicked trying to get out of their cars, some of them packed together so tight that the doors wouldn’t open. She watched the civilians crawl over their cars as they ran towards both ends of destroyed freeway, seeming ignorant that there was nothing left but craters on either end. Suddenly, the camera panned along the highway and Ravenshaw saw a squad of Mutons on one end, firing plasma indiscriminately at the civilians, and she saw the blue exoskeletons of Chryssalids racing ahead of them.

“Oh, no,” said Talana.

The tide of civilians suddenly shifted, flowing away from the aliens. Ravenshaw winced as she saw a Chryssalid pin a civilian to the ground, while the Mutons gunned down several more fleeing civilians. The camera suddenly panned again and revealed a Sectopod deploying at the opposite side of the bridge, firing its cannon and destroying several cars in one go. She tore her eyes away and looked over the rest of the feeds, all of them showing a similar story.

“Turn it off,” said Ravenshaw. The screen suddenly went black, killing the feeds. She turned and stepped away, feeling bile crawl up her throat as Maxwell muttered, “Looks like things are still bad everywhere.”

“We should’ve gone,” said Talana.

“No we shouldn’t have,” replied Maxwell.

“We should’ve been there to protect those civilians!” exclaimed Talana. Ravenshaw turned and said, “No, Maxwell is right. Lose the battle to win the war.”

“But-“

She shook her head and said, “Enough. Both of you, go see to your squads. We’ve only got 5 days until we attack the command ship, be sure they’re ready.”

The two squad leaders nodded and departed the situation room in silence. Once she was alone, she pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed, trying to push the images of the slaughter out of her mind. Not wanting to see the other soldiers for the time being, she decided to head over to mission control.

As she walked the passageways towards the mission control, she found herself mulling over the scenes happening in Tokyo. She wasn’t entirely sure if calling the mission off was the right thing to do. She turned the alternatives over and over in her head, wondering if there was something else she could’ve done. Could she have sent Siren or Chimera? She didn’t want to tell them, but the risk of losing a squad leader was too great when victory felt so close. She could have allowed the one of the Bogeymen to lead a squad, but she held doubts about their leadership abilities, though their technical abilities were beyond reproach. And while she held great respect for the soldiers under her command, sending a squad without their squad leader against a Sectopod was out of the question.

“ATTENTION ON DECK!” someone shouted, startling Ravenshaw, when she realized she had wandered into mission control. She looked around the room, still seeing the scars from when the base was attacked, and then addressed the skeleton crew of technicians.

“At ease, everyone,” she said, allowing them to get back to work. She walked towards the hologlobe in the center of the room, looking up at the small symbol that denoted alien activity, when the technician asked her, “Anything I can do for you ma’am?”

“Can you focus on the command ship?” she asked.

“Absolutely, ma’am,” replied the technician, and the globe spun to reveal the purple outline of the alien command ship, still flying off the eastern coast of South America.

“Has it moved at all?” she asked.

“Negative, ma’am. It’s staying in the same exact spot, no activity in that area as far as we can tell. It’s just sitting there.”

Ravenshaw nodded, leaning on the railing in front of the globe. The scenes from Tokyo crowded into her brain once more, and she hoped that the gamble would pay off.

Mission 43

OPERATION VENGEFUL FATHER
OVERSEER UFO RECOVERY
UNITED STATES

Blacksmith leaned forward and fired the mortar on his back, watching to detonate between the 2 Mutons Elite. The explosion peppered them with shrapnel and destroyed their cover, scattering the UFO debris. Despite their wounds, they continued to exchange fire with the squad while moving to a new position, though Ravenshaw was able to cut one down, before the second dug in behind a particularly resilient piece of UFO hull.

“Blacksmith, Vincent, keep it pinned! Gray, Paddon, move up and flush it out!” shouted Ravenshaw. Blacksmith raised his particle cannon and fired at the piece of hull as Vincent laid down continuous fire while Gray and Paddon started to creep around the side. Suddenly, a volley of plasma streamed out from behind the hull and impacted against Gray’s armor, throwing him backwards. Another volley of plasma streamed over Paddon as he flung himself to the ground, and Ravenshaw shouted, “Get Gray to cover! Blacksmith, knock it down!”

Blacksmith called out to Vincent, “Get your rocket ready!” and leaned forward, feeding power into his proximity mine launcher. They Muton was still peppering the ground with plasma all around Paddon, who was attempting to drag Gray to safety, and Blacksmith launched the mine, watching it land directly in front of the alien’s cover.

“NOW!” shouted Blacksmith, and he heard the scream of Vincent’s rocket as she launched it. It impacted directly on the front of the Muton’s cover, obscuring it in dust and smoke, when a second detonation immediately followed as the proximity mine was triggered by the blast. The Muton’s weapon went silent as the entirety of the front of the UFO was hidden by the smoke. Blacksmith kept his particle cannon trained on the UFO, wary of any more contacts. As the minutes passed and the dust started to settle Blacksmith spotted the alien’s body lying 20 feet away, sprawled amongst the debris, as well as Paddon crouched over the body of Gray next to the UFO hull.

“Contact down!” shouted Blacksmith, and immediately Ravenshaw called out over the radio, “Is he alive?”

“Yea, he’s alive,” replied Paddon, “His shoulder is banged up pretty bad, plasma went straight through the armor.”

“Blacksmith, Vincent, maintain the perimeter, Dead you’re with me,” shouted Ravenshaw, standing up and dashing over to the wounded medic. Blacksmith held his position and scanned the forest, his eyes glancing over the Sectopod wrecks. He looked down at the scorch mark the giant robot had left on Vulcan, and was quietly thankful that the engineers had taken the plunge on upgrading to Paladin armor. The area around the UFO was completely still, and Blacksmith guessed that whatever enemy forces remained where holed up on the UFO bridge.

He glanced back to where Gray lie, and saw him standing up with Paddon’s assistance. One of his arms hung limply and his shoulder was mangled mess of metal and blood, though he seemed otherwise uninjured. He awkwardly slung his plasma rifle over his shoulder and unholstered his pistol. They started to move towards the UFO entrance, and Ravenshaw waved Vincent and Blacksmith to their position.

Both soldiers moved towards the entrance as the rest of the squad moved inside through a narrow hatch, and Blacksmith allowed Vincent to go ahead of him. Once she was through, he managed to barely squeeze Vulcan after her, avoiding any damage to the suit or the UFO.

Once he was inside, he was surprised to see decorations adorning the bulkhead, which was a first as far as he knew. It looked to him as if the aliens had mounted a stained glass image inside the UFO that was interiorly lit, depicting some sort of tall, thin alien that didn’t look familiar to him. There was unmistakable air of royalty surrounding the picture, bordering on religious worship, when Vincent said, “What a creepy looking thing.”

“No kidding,” muttered Ravenshaw. Blacksmith looked around the darkened UFO, thankful for the light provided by the strange pictures. It looked different than the typical large scout layout, and he wondered if the bridge was still in the same place. As he tried to wrap his mind around the geometry of the place, Ravenshaw said, “We’ll need to split up. Gray, Blacksmith, and myself will wrap around the left side. Dead, Paddon, Vincent, go around the right path. Call it out if you find the bridge.”

————————————————————————————————

Blacksmith took a deep breath, steeling himself for the breach. Vincent and Ravenshaw had placed themselves on opposite sides of the door while the remainder of the squad gathered behind him. There was only one way in, and it was up to Blacksmith to go in first. As he readied his flamethrower and the rest of the squad made their final preparations, he felt a twinge of trepidation and silently thought that Mendiola would’ve been better suited for this.

Ravenshaw gave the signal and Vincent held up three fingers, silently counting them down until she had a closed fist which she slammed against the energy door. The door started to recede from the bottom up, and immediately a volley of plasma soared through it, narrowly missing Blacksmith.

“GO GO GO!” shouted Talana, and Blacksmith charged forward. He saw 2 Mutons Elite, bearing down on him with their heavy plasmas, flanking a tall, robed alien that looked eerily similar to the pictures in the passageway. The center of the bridge was commanded by large pedestal, holding up a blue orb, and Blacksmith suddenly found himself within flamethrower range. He raised his right fist and sprayed flammable jelly over all three aliens, coating the bridge in it. The jelly stuck, steadily scorching the aliens, as the rest of the squad engaged with their plasma weaponry, cutting down the 2 Mutons quickly. Despite the apparent frailty of the new alien, it proved to be surprisingly resilient, standing under the flaming jelly as well as absorbing a plasma volley. Its robe started to burn away, and Blacksmith caught a glimpse of 4 thin arms before another plasma volley struck the alien, knocking it backwards. To Blacksmith’s untrained eyes, it appeared lethal, but before the alien fell to the ground it suddenly levitated and convulsed, and Blacksmith felt a wave of pain shoot through his head. He heard some other members of the squad shout in pain, and then the new alien fell to the ground, clearly dead.

A few moments passed as the squad recovered their bearing, and Ravenshaw shouted from the rear of the squad, “Anyone hurt?”

No one rogered up, and Ravenshaw muttered, “Good clear.”

The squad moved out of cover and through the bridge. Blacksmith quietly engaged the positive pressure system on his helmet to vent out the smell of the flaming jelly as he looked over the 3 smoldering corpses, watching the flames slowly die out. Ravenshaw and Gray approached the pedestal holding the strange blue orb, and Gray asked, “What isthat?”

“Could be some sort of communication device, like in the base,” replied Ravenshaw.

“Wasn’t that pretty big, though? This doesn’t look like it’s on the same scale as that…”

“Alien black magic, probably,” called out Vincent. Blacksmith and Paddon chuckled, but Gray and Ravenshaw seemed enraptured by the glowing orb. Worryingly, Ravenshaw started to raise her hand up to touch it, and Blacksmith said, “Uh, boss, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

She threw Blacksmith a dirty look, and said, “I know what I’m doing.”

She raised her hand up towards the orb, her fingers hesitating just above the surface of it, before she plunged her hand inside of it down to her wrist. Blacksmith’s eyes widened and Paddon yelled, “Holy &$%#!”

Her hand was only inside for a moment before she yanked it out, screaming and clutching her head as Gray jumped to her side. She fell to her knees, moaning in pain as the squad converged around her. Gray waved them off, kneeling next to her, and Blacksmith stood uselessly aside as watched the scene play out. She grew silent but stayed on her knees, with her eyes clamped shut. The squad stared in concerned silence, waiting for her to move or speak, when she finally muttered, “…in my head.”

“What was that?” asked Gray. She shook her head and said, “It felt like something. Was in my head.”

“That’s not great,” muttered Dead.

“Jesus, that hurt,” said Ravenshaw. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, and finally opened her eyes. Blacksmith grimaced as Paddon exclaimed, “There’s blood in your eyes!”

“What?” asked a concerned Ravenshaw, bringing her hand up to her face. She pulled her fingers away, not seeing anything, and then looked accusingly at Paddon, saying, “There’s nothing-“

“It’s inside your eye, Colonel. Subconjunctival hemorrhage, looks like. Turns the sclera red,” said Gray. “It’s not a big deal, though I’d like to check it out at base. Are you feeling well enough to stand?”

“Yea, yea. I think so,” she said, allowing Gray to help her up. He helped her stand up and Blacksmith saw she was uneasy on her feet, though she managed to stay standing. She clutched her head and said, “Man that was a mistake. I think that thing is best left to the psionics. Felt like something was crawling inside my head.”

She walked a few steps, staying on her feet, and then turned to address the rest of the squad. “I’m fine, now, so don’t worry about me. Someone needs to get on the horn with HQ, get the salvage team out here. Let’s wrap this thing up and go home.”

Mission 42

OEPRATION LOST FOG
ALIEN ABDUCTIONS
MACHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM

“Watch the left, watch the left!”

“They’re moving around the shack!”

“Incoming!”

Ran listened to the shouts from the squad as he scanned the area around the shack. It had become the focal point of a pitched battle as the squad engaged two Heavy Floaters and 3 Mutons, though they appeared to be sporting significantly improved armor and weapons. Suddenly, Ran caught a flash of movement from the roof of the shack and saw a Heavy Floater rocketing to a higher altitude.

“Floater, Floater!”

“Take it down!”

The alien brought the full force of the squad, plasma and laser piercing its armor until it was a twisted mass, and it fell to the roof of the shack with an audible thunk. The second suddenly dodged from behind the shack, but was quickly dispatched by a shot from Oranis’s railgun.

“Reloading!” called out Oranis. Taking advantage of the brief reprieve, Maxwell tried to get the squad to fan out amongst the cover provided, saying, “Keep your weapons topped of. Stay alert.”

Ran quickly loaded a fresh plasma battery into his rifle, and he heard the click from Man’s laser rifle as he did the same. Suddenly, one of the Mutons in red armor thrust himself out of cover and attempted to cross the short gap between the shack and the train, but was intercepted by the squad’s fire. Ran watched his plasma bolt connect with the alien, boring a hole through its torso armor and dropping it, but he heard the rapidly fire of a heavy plasma and Oranis shouted, “2 on the right!”

Instinctively, Ran ducked, but saw Burning Man absorb the volley a few feet away. His Titan Armor crumpled under the force of it, small rivulets of metal flying off as he fell to the ground.

“MEDIC!” shouted Ran, adjusting his rifle to get a view on the new threats. He saw 2 of the Mutons on the right side of the building, firing down at the squad, before Ran could retaliate Topnotch had already fired a rocket in their direction, detonating directly on one of the Mutons. For all their armor it clearly stunned the Mutons, allow Comrade to sprint back towards the snipers’ position. Ran fired a plasma bolt at the lead Muton, but was horrified to watch it go wide as the aliens collected themselves and started to reposition themselves behind cover. Thankfully, Maxwell was able to lob a grenade under them, keeping the pressure on. With their cover shattered, Oranis lumbered in front of them and sprayed his flamethrower, dousing the area in flaming jelly. The jellied Elerium stuck to the alien armor as they staggered backwards, screaming as the flames quickly consumed them. They fell to the ground, smoldering corpses inside their armor, and Oranis called out, “Contacts down!”

Ran glanced over towards Comrade and Burning as the squad’s medic pushed the medikit into the wound, injecting the medical compound into it. Burning gasped and started to stir, though he didn’t sit up.

“Chimera 7 is stabilized,” reported Comrade over the radio, “Though he won’t be able to continue on the mission.”

“Roger that. Make sure he’s in a safe place, we’ve gotta continue sweeping the AO.”

Comrade looked up at Ran, confused, and replied, “Sir, I don’t think it’s safe-“

“You’re a soldier first and medic second, Chimera 4. Get him in a safe place and rally on the squad.”

“Roger that.”

Ran dashed over to Comrade and helped him pick up Burning, before moving him into a position behind a stack of pallets. He was barely conscious, muttering to himself, and Comrade placed him gently on the ground, leaving a canteen next to him. The two soldiers ran over towards train tracks where the rest of the squad had gathered and Maxwell made a gesture to be quiet, signalling 3 contacts nearby. Ran quietly slipped into a nearby boxcar that offered a view of the highway that ran under the tracks, and saw 3 Mutons spread out among the cars below. They were obviously alert, having heard the battle that had taken place, and Ran kept a low profile as the rest of the squad moved into position. After a few moments of quiet, he heard the Oranis’s mortar fire as it landed in between the 3 Mutons, spraying them all with the shrapnel. Ran fired with his plasma rifle and dropped one of the Mutons, while a flurry of laser fire dropped another. The remaining Muton sprinted deeper into the highway, trying to flee the squad, but suddenly stopped, dropping its rifle and clutching its heads, before falling to the side.

Ran kept his rifle trained on the alien, waiting for it to get up, before asking over the radio, “Hey, uh, we’ve got a Muton down there playing possum down there, I think.”

“It’s down. I nailed it my, uh, mind, I guess. Psionic stuff,” replied Comrade.

“Right,” muttered Ran, scanning the rest of the highway. He looked for any more signs of movement, but saw nothing. “Anyone see anything else down there?”

“I got nothing,” replied Maxwell. “I think this may be it. Small AO. Chimera 4, collect Chimera 7 and get him back to the Skyranger. We’ll sweep the rest of the site, but I don’t think we’ll find anything.”

Darkest Dungeon 3

JOURNAL 3

The townspeople are of a curious sort.

I prepared my concoctions and medicines, surprised by the high quality of the ingredients the alchemist was peddling.  It was still the early afternoon when I had finished, and finding myself overcome with boredom, I decided to explore this ramshackle hamlet.

I went downstairs, finding it mostly empty though restored from the destruction visited upon it the night before.  The owner was the only one present, a one eyed man with horribly twisted back.  He quick with food, though he only spoke in barely audible sentences when he spoke at all.  His daughter was around, doing most of the cleaning up, and she proved to be much more useful, even if she was a mere country bumpkin.  I asked her what she knew about the Clarke family and she was more than willing to indulge me, but fell silent under the withering glare of her father.  Not wanting to risk his wrath, I let the subject quickly drop until he wandered off to take care of some other business.  Once he was out of earshot, she started to speak quickly, divulging her secrets as if I were an older sister.  She was young and didn’t say much that was useful, simply that she had always been warned to stay away from the Clarke castle, and that she was forbidden to travel to certain parts of the countryside and had to stay on the road.  In a hushed voice, she told me that she had tried to sneak off to the nearby coast to see if mermaids lived in a cove there, but she had seen strange things moving in the woodland and didn’t get very far.

I asked her what she knew about the Clarke family, and she told me that the elder Clarke had returned to the estate a few months ago , but he had hidden himself away until his sudden passing several weeks ago.  She seemed unsure how, she said she had heard a pistol shot the night he died but no one wanted to talk about it.

Once the subject of young Master Clarke came up, she became unusually quiet and averted her eyes.  I asked her what she knew about him, and she stammered out that he had been brought into this world without a mother.  I asked her to explain, but she muttered something about an evil mouth and then grew quiet.  Efforts to get her to explain what that meant proved fruitless, but anyway, her father had returned and was glaring at me with his one good eye.  I paid for my meal and left, thanking both of them.

It has been 8 long years since I graduated the physician’s college and chased the plague across the continent, healing and profiting in its wake.  While death and disease were aplenty, I had also seen much fouler things arise from locations where the plague was particularly devastating.  So much death in one place would twist the energies in a place, corrupting it and allowing other things to arise that could only be cleansed by non-scientific means. Those locations had a particular air of corruption about them, where darkness seemed to seep into even the brightest spots.  This whole estate has a similar air surrounding it, and the focal point of it all seems to be that damnable castle upon the hill.  The feeling of being in its shadow constantly is unshakeable, and it amazes me that life is somehow able to flourish under it.  Though this can hardly be described as “flourishing”, merely surviving.

I saw some more of the townspeople outside, and all of them seemed to be in a similar state as the tavern owner, all diminished and twisted it seemed.  I found myself wondering how these people lived in such a harsh landscape.

The travellers were easy to spot, in comparison to the townspeople.  There is a certain vitality about them, a worldliness.  By my count, there are maybe 8 of us present.  I’ve seen some coming and going from the church to keep the faith and others seem to only hold the faith of the bottle.  I encountered the soldier I had met on the first day outside of the tavern, and we exchanged pleasantries.  He introduced himself simply as Blacksmith, stating that his name was of no consequence, his trade was what he was.  When I asked if he had been an armorer for the army, a brooding look came over his face and denied it.  He is lying, clearly, though to what end I am unsure.  He informed me that the rumor was that the young Master Clarke was due to return tomorrow with a wagon full of gold.

Since it seems that he had interacted with the others more than I have, I asked him what he thought of our companions.  He complained at length of a woman from the Pagan East that was staying at the tavern, proclaiming that her surname was Wolfswift but may as well be hellion, but the rest seemed to be of a solid sort.

I thanked him for the information and we parted ways, returning to my room.  As I write this, I can hear the rabble returning downstairs, consuming their ale and creating a racket.  I will do my best to become absorbed in my work and ignore it, hopefully getting a better night’s sleep than last night.  I hope that the rumors are true and the young Master Clarke returns to his homeland tomorrow, and that this venture will not prove to have been a waste of time.

Darkest Dungeon 2

JOURNAL 2

I barely slept a wink last night, due to the never ending din coming from the bottom floor of the tavern.  When I arose this morning, I found myself pushing past patrons who reeked of ale and whiskey who were, at this early hour, just retiring to their beds.  As far as I am aware, they had all come to this dismal hamlet for the same reason I have, and I can only hope that whatever I may be tasked with, I will not be forced to be paired with the lot of them. Fortunately, I did not count the soldier I had met among them, so perhaps there was hope yet for at least one stalwart companion.

When I had arrived last night, it was too dark to pay much mind to the house upon the hill, and how it seemed to be cloaked in shadow.  In the light of day, however, there was no doubt that the house was of sinister character.  What is more, however, is that its shadow seemed to extend until it covered the whole hamlet, despite the fact that such a feat would be impossible, and that seemed to prove true for the countryside.  The only reasonable explanation would be that everything that fell under the manor’s view was touched by darkness, warping it and corrupting it.  I suspect that old magic may be infesting the manor and spreading outward, and perhaps this would explain the young Master Clarke’s willingness to pay good gold to purge his lands of it.

I found the apothecary with ease, a small wagon that had pulled up on the edge of the town.  Its owner was a wizened and kindly man, who was far more informative than anyone else thus far.  He had lived in this small town as a young boy, under the lordship of the elder Clarke.  It was a time of prosperity for the town, though the elder Clarke seemed to be utterly removed from the duties of lordship.  Rumors abounded about the distant lord, rumors of dabbling in the old magic. One day, when the man had just started to ‘prentice under the apothecary,  the elder Clarke drew upon the men of the town in an excavation under his great mansion, an expedition that lasted several years.  One day, he recalls, there was a great rumbling of the earth, threatening to swallow the land whole.  It stopped, and several days later, the elder Clarke fled the town in the dark of night, laughing and wailing, while the rest of the men were never seen again.  The town quickly fell into disarray and the inhabitants fled over the years, reducing the town to what it was now.  His father had been one of those that fled, and was unaware of what may have happened in the meanwhile.  He had only returned one week ago, once he heard the rumor that the young Master Clarke was returning to his ancestral homeland to finally cleanse it.

Feeling that I understood the situation better, I thanked him for the information and purchased supplies.  He was able to supply me with two tinctures of mercury, a vial of honey, maggots, leeches, and pouches with various herbs.  As he retrieved my supplies, I asked him what had become of the elder Clarke.  He replied that the elder Clarke had perished some several weeks past, in the town, though the circumstances were unknown.  Some say he was trampled under horse, others said that he finally paid for some dark bargain with his soul.  As he handed me my willow bark, he said that the small church had collected his body and had given a small service for the deceased Clarke, but were otherwise silent on the matter.

I thanked him again and departed for the tavern, surprised to see a sister from the Order of the Mended Chain within the town.  She disappeared inside the church, but her presence only further confirms the old magic.  The Order did not take up mercenary work, they only appeared from their monastery to purge the old magic from infested areas, scouring the earth of its evil.

The tavern was empty when I returned, only containing a sweeper who was attempting to clean the floor from last night.  I have retired to my quarters to prepare my medications, though that can only last for so long.  I hope the young Master Clarke arrives soon, for I can only take so much of this boredom.

Mission 41

OPERATION DEBRIEF

NAME: Black Bell
MISSION: Assault and salvage of supply UFO
LOCATION: United States
DATE: 15SEP2015

FRIENDLY FORCES
Siren 1
Siren 3
Siren 4
Siren 5
Bogeyman 2
Minotaur 2

CASUALTIES
Siren 3 – Moderate plasma burns to torso

OPPOSING FORCES
3 Mechtoids (Destroyed)
3 Sectoid Commanders (Destroyed)
2 Sectoids (Destroyed)
4 Mutons (Destroyed)
2 Berserkers (Destroyed)
2 Seekers (Destroyed)
2 Drones (Destroyed)
1 Unknown (Destroyed)

SUMMARY

Green Squad assaulted a landed supply barge in the western United States. Its mission remains unknown, but due to past intelligence gathered on alien activities, its location in rural farmland, and the presence of specimen tanks onboard, it can safely be assumed that its mission was to gather live specimens. To what purpose they would serve and where they would go remains unknown, due to the elimination of the alien base previously. Attempts at tracking enemy craft have failed and efforts to locate a second base have not gleaned anything of value.

The assault began on the western side of the UFO, with the squad immediately adopting a defensive position on the exterior of the UFO. From this position, the squad was able to successfully engage with and destroy 2 Mutons, 2 Mechtoids, 1 Berserker, 1 Sectoid, and 1 Sectoid Commander. Due to the open nature of the supply compartment of the, the squad was able to easily infiltrate the UFO, though the high hull of the UFO slowed the squad down significantly. It was during this time that a Mechtoid with Sectoid accompanying revealed itself to the squad, firing at and hitting Hackle Stacker. The squad retaliated with the fullest force possible, quickly destroying the Mechtoid. Siren 1 directed the squad into a defensive perimeter as Bogeyman 2 utilized his mimetic skin to scout ahead and discovered 2 Mutons and Berserker waiting in the fore compartment of the UFO, though the directed and controlled use of explosives destroyed them quickly. Bogeyman 2 continued his reconnaissance and discovered an unknown enemy (see attached photo). The new enemy type appears to be some sort of large, bipedal robot featuring heavy, nearly impervious armor and was accompanied by 2 Drones. Mobility and armament, at the time of this report, are unknown. Sensory capabilities seem to be unremarkable, since Bogeyman 2 was able to remain undetected at firing range. Bogeyman 2 judged what appeared to be the enemy’s armament and targeted it, potentially removing its firing capabilities, though the scientist’s report will be able to confirm this. The squad formed a firing line and unleashed its full armament on the enemy, including plasma and laser fire, ballistic rockets, and alien grenades. Its armor stood up to this assault, with each attack appearing to have a minimal effect on it. It finally succumbed to the assault before it could deploy its weapons, though the amount of time it was able to weather the assault is worrisome.

The squad cleared the rest of the compartment before moving towards the UFO bridge. En route, the squad encountered 2 Seekers, which were dispatched with ease. Upon breaching the bridge, the squad encountered 2 Sectoid Commanders who were quickly dispatched through a combination of Minotaur 2’s flamethrower and laser fire from the heavy weapon operators. The bridge was the last section of the UFO cleared, and the science team was called to salvage the UFO, which was largely intact.

The presence of this unknown enemy is both worrisome and a relief. Its size, design, and heavy armor all point to it being a considerable piece of ordnance. I hope that the research department can glean something of value during its autopsy, including its full combat capabilities. It is also a strong signal for XCOM to make the final step towards plasma weaponry, deploying both heavy plasma and alloy cannons, since our current mix of laser/plasma seems dangerously close to being inadequate, especially if we were to ever encounter multiples of them. However, it is worth noting that since it is such a considerable weapon, it is probably the last of the alien forces, meaning that they have now thrown everything they have at us. If we can destroy it once, we can destroy it again in the future. It’s a relief to know that the aliens have no more cards to play.

Signed,
COL Wolfswift