Raider: Ballad of a Resistance Fighter

This strange idea just came to me after a thought occurred to me of the lack of any stories of the Greater Terran Union during the dark days of the Invasion, that there were no tales of those who fight the Tyrum on the ground, and the horrors and valor they had faced.

And I thought that I could try a stab at making a certain character at least semi-canon or at the very least, head canon to one of the members of the Templin Institute. Granted, my execution isn't going to be the most imaginative, it just might make it a stepping stone to make a kind of prequel saga of stories set during this dark history of the GTU possible with other, more capable authors *hint, hint*.

And considering that this isn't an IP I own….

Disclaimer: The basic intellectual properties that inspired this story are not own by the author. Stellaris is owned by Johan Andersson and Paradox Interactive, while the setting of Stellaris Invicta is inspired by the let's play webseries of the same name by the Templin Institute YouTube channel. Please support the respective official release of each property however possible.

Sortie 1: Lure

The night was dark; the alien smog clogged much of the stratosphere in this section of the world due to the spires of the unknown invaders. The sky was illuminated only by the flashes of light that were extrasolar weaponry mounted upon equally alien war machines as they patrolled and hunted their prey. For what purposes did the aliens have for humanity was largely unknown and the only concrete evidence found so far after only three years into the Invasion were the traumatized accounts of those who survived their flight from occupied territory.

Still, the fight continued as a pair of soldiers, less volunteers and more conscripted due to the casualties the militaries of the world, or what's left of them, had suffered at the hand of alien invaders. Their names were Larry Sinclair and Darc Markstryder, and they had a mission, an objective to fulfill. They weaved through the ruins and debris of the ortillery bombardment that had greatly scared the Earth all those years ago, when humanity was given the frightful answer of their solitude in the universe. That they were not alone and alien powers wished that they were.

Soon enough they caught sight of their target; a roving alien fighting machine on patrol. In the sky were flying machines too alien and too impossible to be mere aircraft, to be of the Earth, as they orbited the fighting machine in escort. The two soldiers crawled through the old debris, the graves of the dead as they moved to intercept their target as it smashed through the old world. Sinclair and Markstryder moved from cover to cover, ever vigilant of the aliens' own senses. From all accounts, the aliens had poor night vision even compared to a human, but they made this up with their bright searchlights that made many a military scientist theories that their sense of sight were poor and must be augmented with the brightest of lights in order to see.

This was an advantage as it showed the aliens were limited in the dark, vulnerable in the dark. Thus military operations were planned, organized, and executed in the dead of night. The night was their only advantage against the technological superiority of the aliens.

As Sinclair and Marcstryder hid behind the hulk of what was once an automobile, the latter spotted the approach of an alien flying machine. If they did not act fast, they would be spotted and gunned down by alien fire, if they were lucky. Most weren't. Thus they jumped through the crack of a fallen wall to hide behind them and await the alien flying machine's lights to pass by and continue their mission.

However, they were not the sole occupants of the impromptu cave as there were other survivors who awaited the passing of the alien war machines. They reached for their weapons when Marcstryder first placed the flat of his fist upon his chest, where his heart is located, followed by a gesture that was known in ages past as "devil horns". It calmed the survivors enough not to draw and use their weapons on them, proved to them that they were not with the aliens and paid them little mind as the two soldiers flew out of the impromptu cave and back onto the battlefield.

They sprinted, dashed, jumped, and dodged throughout the ruins of the battlefield to avoid the notice of the alien fighting machine. Soon enough, they have reached the point in which they may begin their attack against the aliens and readied their shaped plasma charges to attack the relatively vulnerable undersides of the alien fighting machine. The remains of a shopping mall were used as cover as they primed the plasma charges and prepared to toss them into the path of the alien fighting machine.

Marcstryder's toss was perfect as it was in the path of one of the fighting machine's legs and the sudden loss would cause an imbalance and have it crash into the ground, hard. Sinclair's toss was equally perfect as it would have forced the explosion into the thorax of the fighting machine and caused even more damage, however her toss was too late as one of the searchlights had caught her form as she crouched to hide.

The alien weapon fire was as brutal as it was efficient as the rounds that impacted Sinclair's body ripped her apart from the immense steam explosion. Marcstryder could only give Sinclair a moment of silence, a moment of mourning as her disembodied head attempted to scream in horror but no sound came. Instead, her jaw moved to impersonate the yell but slowed due to the absence of life.

Only half of the mission was completed as Marcstryder ran before the fighting machine became an inferno and crashed into the ground. Quickly, a technical drove up and both the driver and Marcstryder switched places as the driver manned the salvaged alien gun and Marcstryder floored the accelerator pedal. They both knew that the destruction of the alien fighting machine would cause the flying machines to reap vengeance on whatever took out their charge, and they were as relentless as a swarm of wasps.

One of them found the technical and began to give chase as the gunner fired back at the enemy; all the while Marcstryder opened a channel. "This is sergeant Marcstryder to all available units, I have a flyer on my tail so get the guns ready, over!"

"Rodger that, sergeant. Give us coordinates for intercept-"

"No time! Lock onto my transponder and send everything you got!" Marcstryder interrupted.

"Watch the road!" The former technical driver yelled. "I can't get a bead if you hit EVERY! SINGLE! BUMP!"

"It's not our job to dust it!" Marcstryder yelled. "We just need to-" A bolt of alien fire close to the technical caused the vehicle to roll onto its side and crash into another ruined vehicle. The former technical driver was pinned by the impact of the vehicle, given the grace of a quick death. Marcstryder, however, was trapped and the flames began to crawl into the cabin of the technical. He could do little more than scream in frustration that he would meet his end in such a manner.

"Don't be cry baby!" A deep, cyrillic voice called out as Marcstryder was pulled out of the toppled technical and into safety. High above, attack VTOLs fired missiles that had downed the alien flying machine. "Safe. Da?"

Marcstryder padded the dust from his salvaged battle dress uniform before he turned back to his savior. "Thanks, Fox. I owe you one."

"Owe me plenty, Marcstryder." Fox chuckled as salvage teams arrived with a flatbed transporter. "And last time, call me 'Vasyli'. We close friends, nyet?"

"Which reminds me, what kind of a Russian name is 'Fox'?"

"Not always." Vasyli shrugged. "Real name too much like woman here."

"Either way, this is the last time I volunteer to be bait. And I KNOW you cheated!" Marcstryder accused Fox.

"Zachem? You bad Poker face." Before the argument continued, the familiar shrill of alien flying machines could be heard from the distance.

"This isn't over." Marcstryder promised as he, Fox, and the recovery team exfiltrated the crash site with their recently acquired prize.

And there's one glimpse of the Invasion that arguably gave birth to the Greater Terran Union. Not sure how well my interpretation of Darc Marcstryder would be taken, but at least he has a better life expectancy than those who have the name in X-Com.

Also, bonus internet cookies who can guess the references mentioned in this little blurb of mine. They're few, but the most meta savy would probably get them. Probably.

As always, flames and brutally honest reviews are not a requirement for this. I KNOW it's not that well written. This isn't an echo chamber.