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Ethereal Nights, or, The Many Adventures of Elder Ea. (Xcom AU Short Stories.)

To Snek, or not to Snek?

  • Snek.

    Votes: 2 100.0%
  • Not to Snek.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • That is the question.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Eh, Berserkers are where it's at!

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Ah, yes, 'Sneks'. We have dismissed these claims.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sneks. Why did it have to be Sneks?

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Active member
It all started when I got this silly little idea and went through with writing it. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a long series of short stories in my newly minted XCom AU that I hope you will find enjoyable. I'm TripleMRed, idiot extraordinaire and your guide into this little world of madness. I present to you Elder Ea, and his lot in life.

Christmas Spirit.


It has been 10 years since the Advent Administration had taken control. In that time, the new world government had made a lot of headway in clearing old human cultural markers. Celebrations, customs, beloved media, and even holidays had all been erased from the world. All but one: Christmas. It was not for a lack of trying, of course. Again and again, the leadership of the Advent Administration had tried to do away with that wretched celebration, but every-time ended in complete and utter failure. And so, as he did every year, Elder Ea sat upon his office chair, his lower arms tented together while one of his upper ones lifted a half-empty bottle of eggnog to the opening of his otherwise head covering helmet. A knock interrupted him.

"Who is it?" He asked, not bothering to sound high and mighty like his older peers. As the youngest of the remaining Ethereals, Ea's body retained more than enough strength to not have to be put into stasis like the others, at least not yet. The fact they still blamed him for this holiday continuing probably also had something to do with him not being able to get into a pod.

"Guess who." Warbled an all too familiar voice. Narrowing his aged eyes, Ea sighed before tapping into the Gift to open the door. Standing on the other side was Ea's...assistant. An old first iteration Sectoid walked casually through the doorway, a cup of coffee in hand and a tie around his neck. He was one of the first Sectoids produced for the Earth invasion 10 years ago, his official designation being a long and tedious thing to remember. For simplicity's sake, however, he had adopted an Earthen name after the invasion was a success.

"What do you want, Bob? Can't you see I'm trying to drown my sorrows?" Ea groaned as he lifted and shook his drink to emphasize his words. Having worked with the little bastard not long after he'd been 'gifted' his 'prestigious' office as overseer of all Earthen activities, Ea had long decided to throw out any attempts at a superior-subordinate relationship. Especially when the little bastard showed signs of being more willful than most of his kind, traits normally reserved for the Sectoid Commanders.

"Yes, I did see, and I wanted to ruin your day anyway." He cheerfully replied before taking a seat on a conveniently unopened cardboard box of Christmas trinkets and taking a sip of his drink. Ea stared at the Sectoid for a long moment before glancing at his own half-empty beverage.

"...How...did you do that?" The Ethereal asked with more than a little trepidation.

"Do what?" Asked Bob as some of the foam settled on his lower face into a pattern akin to a mustache. His mouthless face.

"...Nevermind." Ea sighed before taking another swig of his own drink.

"Whatever you say, chief." Bob replied casually. The little ingrate was very lucky that Ea was so tolerant of his flippant mannerisms in front of an Elder. Also, the fact that Ea's peers specifically forbade him from harming the obviously willful Sectoid really helped. Undoubtedly another part of his punishment. "So, what's got your arms in a bind this time?"

"What do you think?" Ea slouched deep into his chair, his lower arms hanging limply to his sides in addition to his free upper arm.

"It's the holiday, isn't it?" Bob asked before, somehow, sipping his drink again.

"Yes." Ea bluntly uttered.

"Man, when are you gonna let that go?" Bob asked before pointing at the Ethereal with his coffee cup. "To be honest, it's not that bad. I mean, really, what's so bad about getting free presents?"

"The presents aren't the point." Ea lifted himself up. "It's th-" He paused as he steadied himself from the sudden swaying that overtook him when he arose. Damn eggnog. "It's the one who delivers them. It's the fact that DAMN fat man is still out there!" The Elder pointed an angry finger to the snow laden window, out towards the starry sky. "These festivities would have been dealt with a long time ago if that fat bastard didn't get in the way!"

"Oh yeah, Nick!" Bob casually stated. "You going to his party?"

"NO I'M NOT GOING TO THAT HUGE OAF'S PARTY!" Ea roared, the whole of the room shaking as he let his power over the Gift flare up. Breathing heavily, he pointed a finger at Bob. "Wait, he invited YOU!?"

"Well, yeah. I go every year!" The Sectoid stated happily. "You'd know if you went. Mrs. C makes the best ginger bre-"

"For Gift's sake, Bob, you don't go to the enemies party!" Ea hissed.

"Hey, he's only an enemy if you try to mess with him." Bob said defensively. "Besides, he's actually not that bad when you get to know him!"

"Not that bad." Ea's eye twitched. "He turned my Battleship into a mountain of gift-wrapping and reindeer feed. While I was still on it!"

"To be fair, you were trying to orbitally bombard him." Bob noted.

"Speaking of which, do you know how terrifying free fall from orbit is?" Ea growled, his grip on his eggnog tightening. "Let me tell you right now, it's NOT pleasant."

"Again, wouldn't have happened if you weren't trying to kill him." Bob stated simply. Ea took in a deep, calming breath before returning to his seat. Bob sighed before getting up and moving over to pat his...'friend' on the knee. "There there."

"Don't touch me." Ea said, though his anger had left him drained, leaving him to sound more tired than annoyed.

"Look, he's just trying to be nice." Bob uttered. "Maybe if you go to his party, you'll see that not killing him was a pretty good idea."

"The only reason I stopped was because he threatened me with a candy-cane machine gun." Ea paused. "Still not sure how that worked." Bob only continued to sympathetically pat Ea's knee.

"Look, if it's any consolation, he's a pretty forgiving guy. I mean, he gives me presents and he invited you to the party, even though you're part of the force that conquered the planet!" Bob tried to reason. "Maybe you should give him a chance."

"...Yeah. Maybe your right." Ea said slowly. "Maybe-Wait." Ea stopped, having noticed something Bob said. "He gives you PRESENTS?! Why hasn't he given ME any presents?!" Bob stopped his knee patting in favor of gripping his coffee and chuckling nervously.

"Um, actually, he, uh, does." Bob gulped. Ea's eyes narrowed.

"Oh really. Then why haven't I ever seen a single bow adorned box from that enormous tub of lard?" Ea suspiciously inquired.

"I, er, may have been keeping all of your presents from you." Ea slowly leaned down towards the Sectoid. Even with his face concealing helmet, it was clear the Elder was seething. Bob gulped again. "Uh-" Ea put a hand on the Sectoid's shoulder.

"Show me. Now." Bob gulped once more.



"Okay, now, don't get mad." Bob was hoping to salvage the situation.

"Open. The. Door. Bob." Ea stated in a stilted manner. Yep, he was pissed. Bob nervously looked at the warehouse doors, knowing full well that their contents were going to send Ea way beyond 'mad'.

"Okay. But you asked for it." And so, Bob opened the doors to the warehouse with some effort. Ea floated in, only getting a foot within the door before realizing what was before him. Coal. Many, many, many metric tons of it. "Um, it's probably not a good thing to tell you that we actually dug a half mile hole in the ground here to fit it all." The Sectoid nervously tapped the tips of his fingers together. "Um...Chief? Boss?" He worriedly asked after several long moments of silence. "You, uh, alright?" Several more moments passed. And then, Ea spoke.

"THAT FAT SON-OF-A-" And so began the longest, most profane speech ever uttered by a noble Elder.


This is an old fic of mine I will be crossposting on to here for old time's sake and to see if there's a reception on here.
Walk in the park.
Floating the 'Lid.


Two years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Ea could not help but give a content sigh as he floated through the small park, cup of morning coffee in hand. He had personally seen to it that this place was built, both as a way to give the Humans under his direct oversight a place to unwind, as well as a place for he himself to go. Granted, he couldn't enjoy it without at least two dozen Advent snipers doing over-watch of the area, in addition to the officers that just so 'happened' to be patrolling the area. Kind of broke the mood the park was supposed to set, but he couldn't complain. Better safe than risking the odd insurgent happening upon him. In the middle of the park. At the center of City 1. The single most heavily guarded and screened location on the face of the Earth as far as Humanity was concerned...With the benefit of hindsight, maybe this really is an excessive amount of sec-

"Snrfl." Grumbled out the creature near him. Ea turned his attention to his admittedly odd companion; an albino first iteration Chrysalid. The red eyed creature sniffed at a near by tree, clearly searching for something.

"Blanco, no." Ea stated in a commanding tone, giving the leash in one of his hands a decisive tug. The Chrysalid relented from its apparent search to continue with its walk with its master. "Honestly, why do you always do that?" He asked in an exasperated tone, knowing he wouldn't get an actual answer from his...pet. The terrifying animal simply sniffed the air as it skittered forwards. Ea shook his head over his pet's actions, unaware of the terrified squirrel that ran down from the tree Blanco had been sniffing in favor of being as far away from the aliens as possible.

"Elder Ea, sir!" Ea stopped as he heard the distorted voice of an officer call out to him. The Advent Trooper line had been instated shortly after the conquest of Earth had succeeded, and with the assistance of the...'Tactical Aid' within the psionic network, they had proven to be a resounding success against every rebel threat to Advent thus far. The only thing that irked Ea was the fact that the Trooper had to resort to using vocalized calls rather than enter a psionic conversation with the Ethereal. While Troopers relied on giving each other on-field commands, for security reasons, they could 'call up' superior forces on the psi-net to commune quietly. Unfortunately, Ea was not connected to the psi-net. A punishment he'd received a long time ago due to friendship with certain individuals within the Empire. Pushing his bitterness aside, Ea put all of his attention towards a Trooper coming his way.

"Yes, T-402-7802?" Ea inquired, politely using the Trooper's designation. For his part, T-402-7802 almost seemed mildly pleased for being recognized by an Elder. "I read your name tag." Ea stated abruptly. The Trooper paused before glancing at the tag on his chest, which read 'Hello! My ID Code is T-402-7802!'. "We've got to give you guys names before people start catching on that you're not exactly a 'volunteer force'." Ea muttered, mostly to himself than anything else.

"Er, yes. Anyway, sir, we have some civilians coming into the park. Should we turn them away, sir?" The Trooper inquired, dutifully waiting for a response. For his part, Ea gave this some thought. On the one hand, when the others found out he was in the same area as potential insurgents, he was going to have some answering to do. Especially if Talo himself found out. On the other hand, he could use this as an opportunity to better relations with the Humans directly under his oversight in this city. After all, some good press goes a long way.

"You know what? Let them in." Ea decided with a wave of one of his lower hands. "This park was meant to be filled anyway." T-402-7802 nodded, pausing when he looked at Ea's pet.

"Um, will that be a problem, sir? Chrysalids have displayed aggressive reactions towards Humans 99.99% of the time." The Trooper spouted out.

"Don-wait, only 99.99%?" Ea asked in confusion over this statistic.

"Yes, sir. The .01% involves a musical number...We're still trying to figure that one out." The Trooper could only offer a shrug. Blinking, Ea shook his helmeted head. Questions for later.

"Anyway, El Blanco here is infertile. As such, he has absolutely no desire to attack any humans he sees. Plus, I always feed him, so he wouldn't be hungry anyway." The Elder guaranteed. And it was true, he personally tested it out many times on the human researchers and politicians that came to visit him. He always ended up having to order the carpets cleaned after that.

"As you say, sir." The Trooper said with a salute before turning around and rushing over to the gates. Ea nodded, mostly as reassurance for himself that this would all work out. He turned around, just in time to see Blanco chomping down on a pigeon.



"This...is turning out better than I expected." Ea uttered to himself as he watched the Humans passing him by. Many of them stopped to gawk at the honest-to-Gift Ethereal in their midst, though a mixture of Advent patrols and the albino Chrysalid with pigeon blood on its face kept any of them from coming closer. In all honestly, he had half expected the majority of the humans coming into the park to bum-rush him out of worship, or to get autographs. Then he remembered the albino Chrysalid near him. With pigeon blood on its face. Kinda hard to forget that, actually.

"We're keeping close eye on everyone sir." That same Trooper, T-402-7802, stated. "No indications of seditious activities so far."

"Good work, Trooper, keep doing...that. That's good." Ea stated absentmindedly as he looked around. Well, he got these people in here for good publicity, may as well mingle, right? What's the worst that could happen?


"Hello, citizens. Please, there is no need to be in awe o-Oh, go right ahead. Take a picture. It'll last longer." Ea held in a sigh as the fourth couple in a row took their picture with him before leaving unceremoniously. Ooooh, he was going to have a LOT of explaining to do...well, he could always destroy the photos....but then Enkidu would never let him hear the end of that, the damn bleeding heart.

"Sir! We lost your Chrysalid! Again!" Reported T-402-7802. Ea let out that held in sigh now.

"Just follow the trail of pigeon corpses and terrified, tree-bound squirrels." Was all Ea had to offer.


"Is...that blood, Elder?" Asked a woman as she managed the courage to get close to him. Ea looked to where she was pointing; Blanco.

"Yes, yes it is." Ea stated bluntly. The woman recoiled and stared in frozen shock. "Would it make it any better if I said it all belonged to pigeons?"


"Little girl, for the last time, I refuse to buy your cookies." Ea was an Ethereal. The youngest of them, yes, but a great Elder nonetheless. As such, it was taking all of his diplomatic skills that he had honed over countless centuries to deal with a small group of Advent Scouts.

"Please, Mr. Elder?" Their leader, a brunette thing by the name of 'Tiphony' or some nonsense, pleaded. Her eyes were the size of saucers and on the verge of shedding tears.



"Sir, the cookies have been transported to your room, as per your request!" Reported T-402-7802.

"Thank you, I was trying to forget I did that. So, really, thank you for reminding me." Ea stated in shame. An Elder. An honest to goodness Ethereal, ancient being of immense power and intellect, who's ability to toy with the vary fabric of existence by just thinking really hard was second to none on this planet...had lost a battle of wills to a little girl and her posse of money-grubbing fiends. Yep, he wasn't going to hear the end of this. 'Bradley' was especially going to have a grand old time when he heard of this, that no-good little piece of sh-


"-nd then my wife left me, a-and I just don't know what to do!" Cried the man on the bench. Ea stared down at him as he floated near by.

"I'm psychic, not your therapist. See a professional about this and stop wasting the time of those who could be doing better things." Ea retorted monotonously.

"Is...is that blood?" Asked a worried mother. Ea sighed.

"Like answering those kinds of questions. Excuse me."


"And I want a red rocket skate board, and a Captain Advent action figure, a-"

"I'm stopping you right there, child. One, I'm not Santa, I'm trying to kill him. Second, where are your parents?! And third, HOW DID YOU GET ON MY LAP!? WHY AM I SITTING DOWN!?! WH-"


"I'm so sorry-"

"He never does this-"

"This is so embarrassing-"

"Come on, boy, leave them alone-"

"Blanco, heel! Heel!" Ea wasn't sure what's worse: The fact that Blanco had gotten into a territorial dispute with a chihuahua, or the fact that the mighty albino serial-pigeon killer looked like he was starting to back down. One thing was for sure, the guys upstairs were going to have some serious questions regarding why the Humans still had pets. Just another thing to add to the pile of his mistakes today.


"I-Is that b-blood?" Asked a shy looking girl in a sweater. Ea just looked at her with tired eyes hidden beneath his helm.

"It's strawberry jam." Was his new, go-to reply for the day regarding this question.


"Thank the Gift, it's finally over." Ea was exhausted. To think, the day had started out so well. Now, the exhausted Ethereal didn't bother looking composed as he rode the lift up towards the top of the tower at the center of City 1, his home and headquarters. As the doors opened, he floated out of the elevator, Blanco following close behind. "Now, to just get to my chair, sit back, and reeeeela-" He stopped when he saw his secretary come up to him with a pad.

"Sir," The Human woman uttered, "You have a message." She offered him his personal comms.-pad, the only way he had any access to the higher psi-net. He took one look at it and knew he was not in for a happy time.

'We would like to have some words with you'. And that was Hama's psi-marker. Yep, no doubt about it. He was boned.

"Oh, fuck all kinds of space-duck."
Some 'splainin' to do.


Two years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Elder Ea was many things. Stressed, overworked, thirsty, underappreciated, a little depressed, and much more. One thing he especially felt at this moment was anxiety. This was mostly due to the fact he had severely miscalculated and did, as the Sectoids were so fond of saying, 'a stupid'. As such, he was now floating towards the 'great meeting hall', deep within 'Facility Zero' beneath the waves of Earth's oceans. Upon entering the hall, Ea saw that it was devoid of life. He knew, of course, that this was only true on the physical sense. He gripped the bag of Advent Scout cookies in his upper set of hands and waited.

"Well, well, well," Came an obnoxiously snobby voice, the kind one would expect from a parody of a rich, uppercrust human. "The Failure himself has arrived!" Ea narrowed his eyes; he knew that voice all too well.

"'Bradley'." Ea hissed. The ghostly apparition of an Ethereal appeared in the corner of the meeting hall. He lifted is head up with a huff.

"I told you a hundred times to not call me that, Failure." 'Bradley' stated.

"And I told you to stop calling me that, Bradley." Ea emphasized the name with rage.

"Only after you finally do something right, F-" Before this intellectually stimulating conversation could continue any further, a larger pair of apparitions appeared at the center of the hall, dozens more appearing at the corners to bare witness to the proceedings.

"Enough of your childish bickering." Hissed the rightmost of the two larger apparitions; Talos, the overseer of the Invasion two years ago himself. His distinctive voice caused the two younger Ethereals to stop their back and forth immediately. "Now then," With the argument done with, he turned his projection's uniquely helmeted gaze towards Ea. "Young Ea. We have much to inquire of you." Ea gulped. This wasn't the first time he had gotten into serious trouble, but that didn't make it any easier.

"Please, Talos, allow me." Came the soothing voice of the other large apparition. Hama, Talo's right hand and soon to be new leader of the Ethereal Empire. While arguably better to talk to, there was something about her that made Ea want to shake in his place. "Now, young Ea, we have had...disturbing reports come in recently." As in, a couple of hours ago. "Reports indicating that you allowed yourself to walk amongst the humans with little security."

"Well, it wasn't really li-" Ea begins, only to be cutoff by Talos.

"In addition, we have confirmed sightings of you interacting with them in a manner that is NOT befitting of an Ethereal. Even one as inept as yourself." Wow, okay, that stung. "One does not 'take pictures' with the primitives!"

"You see, it-"

"There is also the matter of the fact that the Humans in your city still posses pets." Hama calmly continued.

"There's actually a good reason fo-"

"Further more," Talos interrupted. "You were reported to be giving psychological console to a Human with marital issues. Need I remind you that you run a city and beyond, not a psychiatrists office."

"That's actually not what ha-"

"We also heard of an incident where you played the part of The Fat One." Hama noted. "Why would you try and pretend to be the one you are supposed to be trying to kill?"

"I'll be honest, I don't know how that ha-"

"And finally, and most egregious of all," Talos was sounding particularly pissed about this one. "You lost a battle of wills against a little Human girl! Who lacks the Gift!!!" This caused the others in the room, who'd been whispering loudly amongst themselves with each new piece of information suddenly burst into a loud rumble of shouts and jeers. It was taking everything Bradley had not to burst into laughter over his foes misfortunes. Only one Ethereal wasn't saying anything, an individual off to the opposite corner of Bradley.

"...Okay, that one really did happ-"

"So, Ea." Hama's voice was almost motherly as she spoke. "We ask you now, in light of all this news, do you have anything to say for yourself?" Ea froze. His mind was going a million miles a minute. He wanted to say something, anything, to explain what had happened, in a way that wouldn't end with him losing his position as overseer of Earthen activities. Something deep inside him clicked, and he finally managed to will himself to speak.

"...I brought cookies." He said dumbly as he lifted the bag in question. Talos responded by flinging a Psi Lance at the bag, reducing it to cinders. "...I paid good money for that." Ea added weakly.

"In spite of my apprehension, we've already decided to allow you to remain in charge of Earthen activities." Talos said, disgust clear in his voice. "However, you are to ensure incidents like this never occur again, you are to enforce the no-pets policy at City 1, and you are to never again tarnish your being as an Ethereal. Is that clear, Ea?" Ea blinked. All things considered, he was getting away with a slap on the wrist.

"Y-yes, sir. Thank you for giving this chance to redeem myself." Ea said with a bow.

"We're not done." Hama noted. Ea looked up at that. More!? "We have decided that you will need...assistance, in order to make sure you do not fail us or yourself like this ever again." At that point, Hama clicked one of her lower hand's fingers together. In a flash, a Sectoid appeared before them. "This is SU-T-783X-5/3401. He will be your new assistant from now on." Ea gulped as he stared down at the Sectoid, who seemed less afraid about what was going on and more confused over his sudden displacement.

"Understood, maám." Hama nodded as the other Ethereals that had been playing the part of audience began to fade away. Soon, only her and the Ethereal that said nothing at all remained.

"One more thing." Hama added. "You are not to, under any circumstances whatsoever, bring harm to that Sectoid. Is that clear." There was a hard edge to her normally soft voice. Ea just nodded, which seemed to be enough for her. "Good. Now, this meeting is officially concluded." With that, she too disappeared. Ea looked over to the Ethereal who remained, who gave him a friendly wave before disapearing as well.

"Enkidu, w-...And, he's gone." Sighed Ea. He looked back down at the Sectoid. "So...er, good to meet you SU-T-783X-5/3401." The Sectoid blinked.

"Nice to meet you, boss man! I'm Bob!" With that, he gave the customary Sectoid greeting by flipping off the Etherea-...wait, WHAT!?!
El Taco.
El Taco.


Two years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Ea tapped his upper hands' fingers together as he stared at the holoscreen before him. On it was the monthly reports from the various supervisors of City 1's districts. So far, so good. Still, even after two months following his....meeting with his superiors, it was still taking too long to deal with the pet problem. He sighed and rubbed his neck as he watched yet another clip of some teary-eyed humans begging for their little animal companions to stay with them. While most of his kind would scoff at the notion of such things, his time with El Blanco has given him a new perspective on the issue. Oh well, nothing that can be done. When the higher ups want something done, it gets done.

"Yo boss!" Called a voice that was by now all too familiar. Ea groaned as SU-T-783X-5/3401 pushed his way through the door, something alive in hand. "Look what I found!" The Sectoid, wearing an earthen tie around his neck for who knows what reason, lifted the object in his hands up in the air. It was...a chihuahua. A fat, panting, shaking chihuahua, it's eyes bugged out and it's tail looking like it was trying to escape from its body.

"SU-T-783X-5/3401-" Started Ea.

"It's Bob, boss, we've been over this." 'Bob' Interrupted.

"Whatever." Growled Ea. "Why is that rat in your hands?"

"Oh, this ain't a rat, chief. It's a chihuahua, a type of dog tha-" Bob began to explain.

"I know it's a chihuahua, I'm calling it a rat on purpose." Ea took a moment to glare at the fat creature breathing in his air. It blinked one eye, then the other. "So, again, why is it in your hands?"

"Duh, because I found it and I wanted to show you, jefe!" Joke Bob. "Isn't it cute? I call him 'El Taco'." At that, he let the thing down to wander the room. It stayed in place for a moment before it began to roll around the carpet.

"By the Gift, the stink will never come ou-wait, what did you call me?" Was it another insult? It sounded like another insult.

"Jefe means 'boss' in Spanish, boss!" Bob explained as he watched El Taco roll around. "I thought you knew Spanish? I mean, you named that Chrysalid 'El Blanco'."

"Just because I know some words, doesn't mean I know them al-What's it even doing!?" Ea asked, his patience being worn thin already. He had come to realize a disturbing correlation between interacting with Bob and increased agitation. This did not bode well for his future, of that much he was sure.

"I think it's marking its territory." Bob said as he continued observing the canine roll on the carpet. "Fascinating."

"Make it stop." Growled Ea as he gave the beast the evil eye.

"How?" Bob inquired with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Pick it up! Kick it! Mind control it, it should be simple enough for a Sectoid of your caliber to do!" Ea retorted angrily.

"But it looks so happy!" Cried Bob. Indeed, El Taco did seem satisfied with its current situation, to the point that it was drooling. All over the carpet... "Besides, why don't you do it?"

"Because I'm not going to lower myself by touching that oversized rat!" At that instance, El Taco ceased to roll around and stood back up. Both aliens in the room stared in silence as the thing waddled over to Ea. It blinked one eye, then the other, before managing to focus both on the Ethereal, it's tail wagging wildly. "What's it doing now?" Ea asked in an exasperated tone.

"I think it likes you!" Bob cheerfully stated. Ea merely glared down at the animal before raising one hand.

"....Shoo." Ea waved the hand in the appropriate manner to accompany the word. "Shoo, go away." El Taco did his blinking thing again before turning to the side and raising one of its hind legs. "What's it doing no-waaaait a minute."


"HE DIDN'T MEAN IT!" Cried Bob as he ran out of Ea's office, El Taco under one arm. Within the office, an otherworldly storm was brewing; holo-tablets were flying wildly in the air alongside wisps of purple energy as Ea bristled with rage.

"THIS WAS MY FAVORITE ROBE, BOB!!!" Roared the Ethereal before he tore after the fleeing duo. "MY MOTHER GAVE ME THIS ROBE!!! GET BACK HERE WITH THAT WRETCHED THING!!!" And so began the Great Taco Chase of 2017, a day that the workers of Central Tower would remember for as long as they lived.
Science has been done!


Two years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Ea had many jobs as overseer of City 1, on top of monitoring all other Earthen operations. Chief amongst them included reading and acting on important reports sent in from Advent Troops patrolling the streets, prevent seditious activities from occurring, manage the budget for the local troop division, making sure the Humans living here were happy and content, appearing at the local college for graduation ceremonies(Under very, very heavy guard, of course.) judging the annual Advent Chili Cook-Off, and occasionally answering the letters from the locals he received live on Channel 1, 'The Elder Channel'. Today, he was being given a tour of one of Advent's research divisions within his city.

Advent's research went into a wide variety of categories; psi-tech, biochemical manipulation, weapons research, and much more. A lot of it was focused on Project Avatar, though that was still a long, long way from baring any real fruit. The research laboratory he was currently in had nothing to do with any of those things. Research Laboratory 1-1 was dedicated to improving Advent's control over the Human population of Earth.

"-s you can see, we are currently testing a way to make the effects of the Alien Entertainment Devices-" One of the head researchers explained to Ea as they and several other lead scientists looked into a room through a one-way mirror with several Human volunteers sitting before a television. Bob pressed his face against the mirror, his eyes wide as he watched the test-subjects.

"The Joy Toy." Interrupted Bob.

"I'm sorry, what?" Asked the scientist that had been talking.

"The things you're talking about, the ones that cause euphoria in the one's who watch? It's called the Joy Toy." Bob explained, his eyes not leaving the glass. "Seriously, you guys have been working for us for two years now. You should know what it's called."

"...Right, well, as I was saying," The scientist continued. "We are currently looking for ways to make the effects possible through the screen of the average television unit owned by most people in the Lower Urban Areas-"

"Slums." Corrected Bob.

"...Yes, those." The scientist said, sounding annoyed by the interruptions. Ea felt slight elation in his heart; it was good to know that he wasn't the only one annoyed by Bob. "By managing to broadcast those effects through normal televisions, we will be able to spread Advent's influence farther and decrease dissent at the same time!"

"And you guys are not succeeding." Bob chimed in. "Like, at all. Half those people in there look like their about to fall over dead from boredom."

"We are still working on that." The scientist stated quickly.

"Come on, guys, thing just stimulates all the pleasure centers in the brain. You're already using TV as a medium, so you got like half the job done already! What's the problem?" Bob asked.

"Well, it's kinda hard to make existing TV's do that." The scientist said simply.

"This is all very interesting, no doubt about it, but could we move on? I have a very busy schedule." Ea said, wanting to move onto the next thing. He'd seen a half dozen things by this point and one had failed to truly impress him. Plus, this whole brainwashing TV thing, while ingenuous, made him feel a tad uncomfortable. 'Damn Enkidu and his bleeding heart.' "So, who's next?"

"That would be me, sir." One of the other scientists stated as he stepped forward. "Please, follow me." And so, the group went on to the next testing area, with the TV scientist sharing a glaring contest with Bob. "Now, sir, we've been asking ourselves, 'how do we better ties between Humans and Alien life?'" Ea could imagine quite a few answers to that question, most of which would be dismissed on arrival by the higher ups. "So, we decided to try an old classic; dating!" Most of the other scientist's either groaned or sighed. It was clear they didn't want to go for this idea, but somehow this guy got his way.

"That's probably never going to be allowed by my superiors, but let's see what you've got so far." Ea stated bluntly. The group stopped before a window. On the other side, a Viper sat across from a Human male, a candle lit table between them.

"So, what do you do for fun?" The Human asked, only slightly nervous to be in close proximity to a multi-meter long snake woman.

"Well, I enjoy target-practice, hunting down insurgent forces, bringing dissidents to heel before the might of Advent, and putting the fear of the Elders into our enemies." The Viper said honestly, which seemed to make the Human slightly more nervous. "Oh, and I like to go shopping." She added.

"O-Oh! For clothes?" The Human man asked, thinking he'd finally found something semi-relatable to talk about.

"No, paint for my rifle. Mods aren't allowed, but those of us at higher ranks are allowed slight cosmetic modifications to our weaponry." She took a sip of the tea on the table. "I plan on making my modification a bunny made from the blood of my enemies."

"Well, that looks like it's going well." Ea sardonically noted.

"Really? It looks more like it crashed and burned harder than a Scout Ship full of Mutons after a hard night of hitting the Imperial Ale." Bob said as he watched the whole thing unfold alongside everyone else.

"That was sarcasm, Bob. You know what that is, don't you?" Not even bothering to wait for his 'assistant's' reply, Ea turned his attention to the group of scientists around him. "Come on, people, we give you virtually limitless resources to play around with and this is the best you could come up with? You can do better than this!" Ea stated. He knew damn well Humans were more capable than this. HE proved that time and again during the invasion. Letting out a sigh, Ea looked around. "Now, is there anyone here who's looking into something that's actually showed anything resembling actual progress?" Someone raised his hand. "Yes, you?"

"Well, sir, I think I have something that we're getting some actual results from." An older gentlemen stated. Leading the group to another testing area, Ea was surprised to see what he did on the table at the center of the room; burgers.

"Burgers?" He uttered in confusion.

"Yes, sir." The scientist stated. "As you know, we've been tasked by Advent to look into recreating the success of fast-food chains with an Advent branding, however we'd been having some trouble making a memorable and lasting flavor all of our own. Until now." The Burger Scientist turned his attention to a communicator on his person. "Send in the next ones." A pair of humans, one male and one female, were let into the room. The two made their way over to the center, looking pleasantly surprised.

"Holy shit, burgers!" The male stated excitedly.

"When was the last time we ate out at a burger place?" The female asked as she picked one of the edible objects up and inspected it.

"Wait, wait!" The male said as he picked one up. "Let's do it at the same time."

"Okay." The woman said. "So, what do you think it's gonna be closer to? Mickey D's or the King?" She asked, her mouth watering at the sight.

"Only one way to find out. Ready, go!" As one, they both took a bite. They chewed vigorously at first, slowing down as their eyes widened. Soon, they stopped altogether and stood there, staring forward.

"...Holyshit." The woman muttered through a mouthful of burger. Ea raised an eyebrow as the two finished off their respective meal, savoring each bite until it was all gone. As the pair were led out of the room to be asked a survey on their experience, the table was restocked with another pair of burgers, awaiting the next pair of testers.

"As you can see, sir, we think we've found the perfect flavor for the Advent Burger progra-"

"I call bullshit." Ea said ineliquently. Everyone blinked, even Bob.

"...Sir?" The Burger Scientist asked.

"I've eaten a lot of burgs in my time. No way this can be that good." Ea said, mentally slapping himself for revealing that embarrassing fact about himself. Best not to say anymore on why he'd eaten human cuisine like the burger.

"Uh, sir-"

"I'm going down there." Ea decided. Without another word, the Elder made his way down to the testing area, ignoring the Scientist's clamoring behind him. As he entered the room, he looked down at the pair of sandwiches. Memories flared to life from two years back. Back to his job during the Invasion, back to when he ate identically shaped meals as part of his punishment. Picking one up with the Gift, the Elder wasted no time in bringing it to his aged mouth and unceremoniously taking a bite. He chewed, letting the flavor into his being. In a moment, he stopped, his control over the Gift fizzing out. As the sandwich fell back to the table, the Burger Scientist arrived behind him.

"S-sir!" The man gulped. "I-are-....w-what do you think." He asked nervously. Ea looked back at the man. Slowly, the majestic Ethereal pointed a damning finger at the burger before him.

"Get this shit out to the masses. We have hearts, minds, and stomachs to win here!" He demanded. The very next day, construction of what would become Advent Burger restaurants began. Within a week of their opening, remaining resistance to Advent's sovereignty fell down by 42%. It would be a very difficult to acquire new members for various resistance movements around the world for a long, long time, for the power of the Advent Burger was a mighty one.
Orientation day!
Meet the new guys.


Two years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Ea hummed as he skimmed through the latest batch of updates on his data slate. Reclined in his office chair, the Ethereal had managed to get most of his work done for the day, leaving only for him to finish reading through these updates. As his aged eyes looked through a message detailing patrol routes, he found himself feeling...bored. He usually had something more than just reading updates to keep himself busy. Sooner or later, he'd find himself going a little stir crazy.

"Hey, boss!" Called Bob as the Sectoid pushed open the door.

"Yes, Bob. I'm here." Ea said, hoping against all odds that the little grey alien had some good news.

"I know, that's why I came into your office." Bob replied lamely. A silence stretched out between the two, causing Ea to lower his dataslate and look over at the Sectoid.

"Well? What is it? Gift knows you wouldn't come in here without a good reason." Ea replied, no small amount of sarcasm in his voice.

"Right, uh, sorry. It's just that I just remembered the others around here told me not to tell you." Bob said. Ea froze. There were only a few reasons why his employees wouldn't want him to know something.

"...Is somehting on fire?" He asked, trying to deduce what it was.

"What? No." Bob stated.

"Is Chad from Accounting throwing a bar-b-q?" Ea inquired.

"Um, n-wait, I thought his name was Bob?" Bob scratched his head in confusion.

"Are we getting....TEMPS?!" Ea hissed. He remember the last time the took in a bunch of temps. Good press wasn't worth a repeat of that headache!

"N-wait, your just trying to figure out what their trying to hide from you, aren't you?" Bob pointed out, having finally realized what was going on.

"Yes, yes I am, and thanks to you I've succeeded!" Ea stated triumphantly.

"Ah crud, now I'm never getting invited to a B-B-Q." Bob deflated in defeat.

"Don't be sad, Bob." Ea said gleefully. He had deduced what it was his employees wanted to keep secret from him. Ohhh, they always kept this quiet, but thanks to Bob, he'd found out! "Because, today's the greatest day for an employer such as myself! Nay, for an Ethereal!" With almost maniacal glee, Ea rubbed his hands together. "It's-"


"-Orientation day." Michelle, Ea's personal secretary, finished off her opening speech to the various new employees within City 1's tower's orientation room. The dark skinned woman quickly glanced over the assembled humans before her. Many were relatively young individuals, people who had been in college in the midst of the invasion. Now, two years after the event, they were ready to enter the work force as full fledged adults. Granted, it wasn't anything that required any 'new' skills or education. They were just office workers, accountants, and even the occasional janitor. The only thing that separated this lot from many like them in other locations all over the word was the fact they were deemed good enough to work here at City 1's tower. "Any questions?"

"Uh, yes, Mrs. Michelle?" Asked one individual with the name tag 'Kennedy'.

"Please, it's 'Miss'. I'm not married." Michelle stated with a wave of her hand, hiding an errant twitch in one of her eyes. 'Thanks for reminding me about that.'

"Yes, um, sorry. Anyway, will we be able to meet Elder Ea while working here?" He asked, no small amount of hope in his tone.

"Most likely, yes. Elder Ea has a tendency to make it a point to meet his employees at least once." Michelle said before looking away from the young man. "Any other questions?"

"Yes, I have one." Said a woman with the name tag 'Stephanie''. "Will Elder Ea make an appearance here during orientation?" This caused everyone seated to lean forward, their eyes wide. Like puppies awaiting food to be poured into their bowls. 'OH HELL NO!'' Was what Michelle wanted to say, and had to physically stop herself from yelling out. Instead, she went with a less extreme response.

"Unfortunately, Elder Ea is doing a lot of work and won't be able to make it." The secretary said with the most lopsidedly forced grin imaginable. She and her fellow veteran employees here at the tower had made sure to avoid ever telling Ea about orientations for new employees. Not like last time. Never again.

"I believe you shall find I am quite free of work for the day, my dearest secretary." Came an all too familiar disembodied voice. 'Sweet merciful bouncing baby Buddha, NO.' Michelle mentally whispered to herself, her eyes widening as the Ethereal she worked for appeared in a vortex of psi-energies, a dizzy Sectoid by his side. 'Goddamn you, Bob.' She added as she glared at the little bastard. The whole room was full of stunned, almost reverent whispering as the new employees giddily 'ooed-and-awwed' at the being before them.

"Elder Ea!" Michelle stated through gritted teeth. "What a surprise!" Bob wasn't sure why, but he had the strangest feeling he was going to be strangled tonight, and not in a 'fun way' like how Bob from accounting described.

"Indeed it is a surprise!" Ea said, uncharacteristically unrestrained glee in his voice. "Forgive me, young ones. It seems my invitation to this orientation was lost." He said, throwing shade at Michelle. "But now that I'm here, I'd like to congratulate you all on working hard and bringing honor to your family by doing so. Give a round of applause for yourselves!" The new guys all clapped their hands, still thinking this was a wonderful event. The poor, unsuspecting fools. "Before I go any further, would someone care to explain to me what this orientation would entail normally?" He asked in a sickeningly sweet manner.

"Oh, uh, after the speech your secretary gave, we'd bee taken on a tour of the facilities, be told benefits and hours,-" Said a man tagged as 'Jeffery'.

"That is correct, and that's still going to happen." Ea interrupted. "But first, I shall gift unto you an orientation custom of us Elders." The crowed oohed at that. 'You fools!' Cried Michelle within her own mind. "You see, young ones, we Elders have a long, treasured tradition amongst employers and their employed to do something special on that employed's day of acceptance, I.E. 'orientation day'. The precise details vary on the different employers, but for you all, I shall do unto you as my masters did unto me at the start of my job before this one." With that, he summed forth his tools; a fish in each of his four hands.

"....What the f-" Began one individual.

"Come on, now! Everybody in a line!" Called out Ea. Too enraptured by his presence, as well as confused by what was happening, the new guys all got in line as he instructed. The first one to receive Ea's gift was Kennedy.

"Uh, what exactly does this entail, sir?" Kennedy asked meekly as he look up at the Elder. Beneath his helm, Ea smiled gently. Behind him, Michelle turned away from the sight that would ensue.

"Sweet summer child, observe." And so, Ea began his version (Technically Talos's) of the most ancient and honored tradition amongst the Ethereal's; violently slapping the ever loving shit out of some poor dudes face with marine life, shouting the sacred words with each hit. On the fourth and final hit, he chanted the full of the holy text recited to him so long ago before delivering a most righteous final blow that sent Kennedy flying into an awaiting Advent Trooper that had discretely entered the room.

Everyone stared in shocked silence. Bob was disgruntled by the fact one of the fish rested on his head as the Ethereal in front of him reset his arms into launching position.

"NEXT!!!" Ea called out. Too stunned to argue, a woman named 'Jenny' stepped in as she was next up. And so it continued, the second (and final) Orientation Day ever to be graced by Elder Ea. Forever would the memory haunt those who took part in it. That and the fish smell. That never really came off.
I liked Ea in the park. It was entertaining heh.
I noticed a mention of a bunny in post number 6. Was that a misspelling or no?
Bob and friends.
Co-Worker Relations.


Two years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Bob hummed to himself as he looked over the counter-top to the various meals that had been prepared in one of the cafeterias of the tower. Or at least, tried to. The neck brace he was wearing after Michelle's 'word' with him over revealing the latest orientation day to Ea was getting in the way. The fact the secretary had made sure to have him wear an old anti-scratch collar for dogs also didn't help.

"Hmm, wonder what the boss will like." Hummed Bob as you tried to see what to get the Elder for lunch. Most of the cuisine was of Earthen make and origin, an unspoken bonus for working at the tower, so it was a little difficult for the Sectoid to decide on what his superior would want today. "What do you think, Ted?" Bob asked the chef on the otherside of the counter; a Muton in a chef's apron and hat. The much larger alien looked down at the Sectoid, his kind's normally intense gaze replaced with a gentle, sage like vision.

"Je ne sais pas, petit tas de viande grisâtre. Pourquoi tu vas pas lui ramener la même merde que tu lui prends à chaque putain de fois." The much larger alien rumbled wisely.

"You're right." Nodded Bob, not understanding a word the Muton was saying. "I should get him what I always get him; the Spicey-Sweet Super-Chalupa Supreme!" The Sectoid stated before reaching over and picking up the dish from the counter. "Thanks, Ted! I owe you one!"

"Adieu, tas de merde. Tes rêves, je chie dessus." The Muton retorted before turning his attention to the book in his hands, 'Atlas Shrugged'. Like Bob, the Muton had a stash of Human culture media. Unlike Bob, the large alien made no effort whatsoever to hide it. Bob waved him goodbye before turning around to start walking to the elevator.

"Well, if it isn't the leprechaun." Came a nearby voice. Knowing who it was already, Bob turned to the speaker with a happy expression on his face.

"Toby, how are you!" The smaller Sectoid asked to the first one to speak; a current iteration Sectoid, one that Bob knew since before he received his upgrade. The tall, lanky creature was looking down on his shorter compatriot, both literally and figuratively. The key difference between him and most of his kind was the fact he was wearing clothes, specifically the most stereotypical office clothes imaginable. He even had a tie, like Bob, though his was more...professional, then what Bob wore around his neck.

"Just fine, lawn-gnome. I see you were trying to talk up Frenchy over there." Toby said while pointing a thumb over at Ted.

"Va au diable." Was Ted's immediate response to being brought into the conversation.

"Love you too, honey." Toby sarcastically stated before turning his attention back to his diminutive lesser. "So, getting the boss some grub, huh?"

"Yeah, how'd you know?" Bob asked innocently.

"...Because why else would you be in the cafeteria?" Toby asked. "It's not like you can eat anything."

"Not with that attitude." Bob said in a chipper tone. Toby just sighed and rubbed his eyes with one hand before deciding to drop the issue.

"Right, whatever. Anyway, I was wondering if it's true that you dropped the ball on letting the boss know about orientation." Toby asked, his arms crossed. Bob coughed before rubbing his neck-brace.

"Y-yeah, funny huh?" Bob said with a forced chuckle.

"Hysterical. Especially the part where Michelle almost broke your neck." Toby gave a chattering laugh at recalling that. "Which reminds me, me and some of the other 2nd iterations are going to play some baseball after work. Wanna join?" Bob's eyes widened at the offer and he immediately started back-pedaling towards the cafeteria door.

"Oh, man, I'd love to, but I, uh, have stuff and things to do! Bye!" Bob said before crashing into someone, who also had a neck-brace. It was by pure luck that the Chalupa Supreme remained on its plate.

"Damn it, Bob, not again!" The man yelled as he clutched his leg.

"Oh God, I'm sorry Bill!" Bob yelled as he scrambled to get up and bum-rushed the door, intending to keep as much distance between him and Toby as possible. Moments later, Bob was in front of the main elevator for the floor, panting from his impromptu run through the halls. "Th-that...was close." He whispered to himself before rubbing his neck-brace. "Note to self, no running while wearing this thing." With that, he pressed the button to call for the lift and waited.

"Heeeello, Boooob~!" An ethereal voice crooned in his head. Bob gulped as he turned around to meet with the speaker; a Gatekeeper known as Phyllis, a new arrival for the mailing department.

"Hey, Phyllis. How's it going?" Bob offered, hoping to not have to talk too long with the Gatecreep-er, Gatekeeper.

"Juuuust fine, Boooob~! I'm bringing maaaaail to department threeeeee~!" It said in a sickeningly cheerful psi-voice, putting in effort to draw out some words, seemingly at random.

"That's greaaaat, Phyllis." Bob said with faux-cheer as the elevator doors opened up. "Listen, I'd love to talk, but I have to get the boss his lunch, so, you know, bye!" The Sectoid scampered without another moment to lose into the lift before slamming the button for the top floor.

"Byyyyyye, Booooooob~!" Phyllis's 'voice' wavered away as the lift's doors closed and started to take the Sectoid up. He shuddered over how creepy that floating ball was. It didn't take long for the elevator to take him to the top of the tower, the door opening to allow the Sectoid to leave towards his boss's office. He tried to make himself as little as possible as he scampered by Michelle's desk, the Human woman's eyes burning a hole in the back of his head. Not wasting another second, Bob pushed the door's to the office open.

"Hey, boss! I brought lunch!" Bob cheerfuly stated before lifting up the Chalupa Supreme. Elder Ea didn't bother to look up as he busied himself with a pile of paperwork.

"Uhuh, thanks Bob. Just leave it over here or something and help me with this." Ea stated.

"Sure thing, boss!" Bob said happily, taking one step forward...and immediately snagging his foot on the carpeting, causing him to trip and spill the dish onto said carpeting.

"Damn it, Bob!" Ea called out angrily. "Every time! EVERY TIME!"
(Special thanks to @Rufus Shinra for helping me with the French.)


19 years post-Advent Ascendancy.


It was a quiet night. No distant cars, no Advent patrols, not even a single cricket. It was a perfect night outside the limits of Advent control. Which made it a perfect night for a trio of armed individuals to crawl through the wild wheat and bushes undetected.

"What the bloody hell are we doin' out here again?" Hissed one individual with a difficult to place accent, a burly man in his mid-forties, a beret on his head and an unlit cigar in his teeth.

"I think we're supposed to be helping Diana find supplies she said she hid away around these parts." Whispered a younger man, clearly still in his late-twenties. He wore a gas mask on his face, something that most of his fellows found weird but he never paid it much mind. One of these days they'd come across a Viper, and he'd be damned if he got poisoned!

"Right." The burly man said as he chewed on his cigar as the group waited in the tall grass. Despite the lack of patrols, they and others like them had long ago realized the importance of caution even in the wilds. "Say, Red, why do ya have one of those newfangled drones if'n ya ain't a techie? Never saw ya do anythin' more complex on the comp aside from playin' games and searchin' the Resistance-Net."

The younger man, 'Red', looked to the burly man before looking at the floating piece of metal next to him. The drone opened it's panels and waved them up and down as its master looked at it.

"I'unno, Chris. I just know Skippy's the only one who gets me most days." Red said dramatically.

"Iffin ya two are done with yur bitchin', let's git a move'n. Way's clear an' mah shack's still there." A thirty-ish woman, Diana, stated in a drawl. Her skin was tanned and a cowboy hat sat on her head. With that, the trio left the grass and headed towards their destination; a desolate farm that hadn't been tended to for many years now. Specifically, a shack near the main farm house. "Tha's where mah stash is."

"Ya never tol' us what these here supplies are, lass." Chris stated as they arrived at the run down shack. Diana, a well built woman in her own right, smashed through the ruined doors with ease. A wry grin was spreading across her face.

"Ya'll see." Was her cryptic reply. The inside of the shack was a mess of overgrowth and rusted tools. It didn't take long, however, for Diana to find what she was looking for. "Gotcha, ya lil' varmit!" She hissed with satisfaction as she pried a rotten piece of loose wood from one of the walls before taking out a box. The thing was metal, rusted, but looked sturdy enough to keep whatever lay inside safe for almost two decades of neglect. She opened the thing carefully, taking out one of the objects inside, a surprisingly pristine magazine, and flipping through it. "Yep, jus' like ah left um!" Chris looked over her shoulder and his eye twitched.

"....We crawled through 20 miles of muck and grime from base-camp, side stepped wild animals, and almost got lost for three hours...for SMUT!" To his credit, the man managed to keep his rage below a bellow.

"Not smut; moral boostin' material." Diana said, a lecherous grin on her face. "Ah personally collected or printed all these babies mahself when ah was a teen. Nothin' but tha best!" Diana said happily.

"I fought a bear! A BEAR! With my cigar! For your porn stash!" Chris hissed, lifting his LMG as if he was considering to hit Diana with it.

"Ah, calm yur tits gramps, it's good moral boostin' supplies! Look, even Red's gettin' inta it!" Chris looked and sure enough there was Red, hold a magazine sideways as his head tilted to the side.

"...Most of this is weird, Diana. Like, pre-Advent internet weird. I should know, I remember going through that thing." Red stated.

"You complainin'?" Diana asked as she flipped a page. Red said nothing while Chris rubbed his temple with his free hand.

"Let's just pack it up and go back ta base camp." Oh, how he couldn't wait for their camp to finish up resource gathering. Then they could all go back to the Avenger and get away from this place. Oh, how far they'd come...
Sleepy time!
Sweet Dreams, Ea.


Three years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Ea hummed to himself as he observed the reports on the screen before him. As usual, most of it was light fair; patrols through the streets, the occasional scare from some civvies getting false-negatives during scanning, post-New Years clean-up duty taking longer than expected due to some punk kids spraying the sides of buildings within camera blindspots, ect.

"Same old, same old." He muttered as he drank the last of the eggnog in his mug. Likely the last drops of the sweet liquid he'd be having until next New Years. He'd failed to kill that bloated tub of lard, again, but he was confident he'd be able to do it right next year. Next year, he planned to bring out the big guns; an actual Battleship class vessel! Oh, he couldn't wait for that day! But it would have to wait for next year, when the jolly-bastard showed up again. Being traceable for only one night in an entire year made finding him incredibly difficult, but unlike a certain rebel group, he only ever went to one place every year. Impossible to find outside of that day, but its there. Just got to wait for the right ti-a sound tore through the room.

Ea blinked. It was a strange sound, an unfamiliar sound. For a whole minute, he looked around the office, thinking it was some sort of prank by Bob. Eventually, though, the sound occurred again, and this time Ea realized what it was; it was him. He'd just yawned. He blinked at this realization, for it had been so long since he'd given out a proper yawn. His kind didn't do much sleeping. None at all, in fact. They could still sleep, of course, had to when they were young, but every Ethereal alive was too old to need to sleep nowadays. Really, it was more of a recreational thing more than anything.

"Man, it's been years since I fell asleep." Ea uttered to himself, a light buzz clouding his mind. 'Wonder why that is?' He thought to himself. He had a reason not to. But the buzz was making it it difficult to remember why. With a shrug, Ea sighed as he reclined his impressive looking chair back into a makeshift bed and got comfortable. 'Well, a little nap won't be that bad, eh?' He thought to himself as he closed his withered eyes and cleared his mind. Soon, very soon, his consciousness dissipated into darkness.


Rudrigal was a quiet world. While it would be naive to say it never saw war or strife, it was calmer than most others. Anyone on the surface could take a look around and safely say it would be a nice place to settle down. Fields of purple grass, forests of ancient trees bearing colorful fruits, rivers of teal tinged water; save the odd predator to wander into a cities limits, it was a paradise. Perfectly safe to the point where one could allow ones children to wander the fields without worry of danger. As was the case for one such child.

"Ohhh, pretty." The young child uttered as he watched a six-winged dancer fly flutter through the grass. Carefully, he reached out with his mind and gently encapsulated the creature in a grip of psionic power. The child let out a satisfied sound; just like his much older friend Enkidu taught him! As he observed the insect more closely, gently manipulating its frozen limbs with his four hands, he missed the approach of someone behind him.

"What do you have there, Little Spark?" An adult female's voice asked. The boy looked up and saw the pleased face of his mother. He returned the expression right back as he showed her his catch.

"A dancer fly, momma." He said proudly. "I caught it all by myself!"

"My, you're growing up faster than I imagined." His mother chuckled. "You take care not to harm the poor creature, alright? You remember what I told you?" The boy nodded obediently.

"Of course I do, momma." The boy said as he turned his attention back to the fly, making double sure to be gentle with his proddings. Like momma said, just because you can overpower something didn't make it right to harm it.

"Excellent." His mother said warmly as she looked at her wrist mounted holo-pad. "It's about time for lunch. Come on, Little Spark, time to go. You can come back later, alright?" The boy let go of the dancer fly, which continued on its merry way like nothing had stopped it dead in the air and hand toyed with its appendages.

"Okay, momma!" He was getting hungry anyway, so he got up and took one of his mother's lower arms in hand. Together, the two made there way towards home. The float over hadn't been long, only an hour or so. It helped that their home was closer to the fields than most that remained in the inner-city. The boy had come and gone this way countless times already in his young life, but that never stopped him from looking around the tall, sleek buildings that existed even in the outer-city. "Momma, when's poppa coming back?" The boy asked. He asked this question every once in a while, always curious despite having received the same answer so many times in the past. His mother's face lost its cheer for a moment before it came back, more forced this time.

"When he's done helping to protect us, dear." While the answer wasn't satisfying, the boy had long ago learned to accept it. He just nodded. When they finally got home, he found himself at the table with the days lunch; chopped lancets liver with various vegetables. Unlike most kids his age, he loved his purples and liver. It made him feel more like an adult when he ate 'grown up food'.

"Thanks, momma!" He said before digging in. His mother chuckled before joining her son in the meal.


"Goodnight, momma!" The boy said as he laid tucked into his bed, his room full of holo-stills of various artists and their works. He always like art, so decorating his room with it only made sense.

"Sweet dreams to you, my Little Spark." His mother said before looking at her holo-pad as it got a new message. "Momma's going to have to leave to go to work to fill in for aunt Nu, alright honey?"

"Okay, momma. I love you!" The boy said as he felt the heaviness of sleep begin to come over him. He'd see his mother in the morning, like always.


The first thing he noticed that was wrong was the fact that wind was blowing on his face. As he opened his eyes, the boy realized he was being carried through the streets. The second thing he noticed was the one carrying him was his mother, who looked scared as she did so.

"Momma?" He asked groggily. That's when he looked up and noticed the third thing; the city was burning. Not on fire, exactly, but it was burning. "Wha-"

"It's going to be okay, Ea." She hissed. Ea frowned. His mother only ever used his real name when she was being serious. "Everything is going to be okay." She sounded...in pain?

"Momma, what's going on?" He asked, starting to get scared. She just kept repeating her mantra, however, as she carried him. A shape flew over them and landed down not too far away. As his mother took them closer, Ea saw that it was one of those small saucer ships that his dad had left on years ago. Lots of adults were being brought on board, the person at the entrance being none other than Ea's older friend Enkidu.

"Come on, get on!" He yelled as he directed dozens of adults to get on board the vessel. That's when he noticed them. "Teria, thank the Gi-" He stopped dead as he looked at her midsection. Now, Ea was panicking. Why'd Enkidu stop talking when he saw momma?

"Take him!" His mother yelled, taking her son away from her and moving him towards Enkidu. "Take him with you now!"

"Teria, we need to get you to a doctor!" Ea squirmed in his mothers grip.

"Momma!?" He yelled.

"We both know its too late for me!" She hissed. "Take him and save yourselves!" Enkidu froze for a moment, the adults in the ship panicking and demanding they leave ASAP.

"Teria, I-"

"NOW, ENKIDU!!!" Realizing there was no time to argue, he took the boy in a psi-grip and levitated him to his side.

"Momma!" Ea yelled as he turned around, being kept in place by Enkidu's grip. "Mo-" He balked when he saw there was a festering hole where his mother's stomach used to be. "-mma..." He weakly finished, dumbstruck in horror.

"Ea, look at me." His mother demanded, bringing his face to look at hers. "You have to be strong for me, alright? Live for me and your father, Ea, please!" She said before the doors began to close. Snapping out of his stupor, Ea began to struggle against his psionic bonds.

"No! Momma!" He yelled, tears rolling down his face. "Momma!!"

"I lov-" Was all Teria managed to say before the doors closed and the ship began to take off. Ea's panic increased and his struggles did so as well.

"Momma!?" The child's screaming increased in volume, ignoring everything else around him as he tried to move towards the door.

"Ea, please calm down!" Enkidu said quickly but gently, trying to calm his young friend down.

"Momma, momma-" The hysterical child kept repeating, desperate to tear out of the psi-grip holding him in place. Little by little, Ea found himself moving despite the grip, until he finally broke through the psi-grip and began to hit the door with his fists. "NO! OPEN UP! I WANT MY MOMMA!" Enkidu shook his head, feeling the backlash from having his psi-grip forcibly broken by the young boy.

"I'm sorry, Ea." He groaned as he summoned his powers again and forced a calmness to take over the boy. Suddenly feeling drained, Ea collapsed into Enkidu's waiting arms before he was lifted up. "It's going to be okay, Ea. It's going to be alright."

"Momma." He kept repeating tiredly. At that moment was where the young boy noticed the fourth thing that was wrong; the screaming. Not the panicked cries of the adults or the echoes of his own demands ringing in his ears, but the one that was in the back of his head. It was a horrible, wretched thing, like the voices of the damned howling in agony and anger. As darkness claimed his mind again, the screaming stayed with him as he slept.


Ea woke up with a start. The Ethereal clutched his heart with one hand while he protectively gripped the bottle of eggnog in two of his other ones. His final, fourth hand was clutching his head, tears streaming down his face. Without another moment to miss, he doubled down on focusing all his attention on his work, desperate to keep those memories away. This always happened, every few decades or so, when he found himself a little drunk. And each time, he'd remember very clearly why he didn't want to sleep anymore...
Sooo, is that a no on the pizza?
Of Weirdos and Pizza.


Three years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Michelle hummed to herself as she shifted through the paperwork on her desk. Well, not paperwork. All of the tasks to be done were on the holographic 'computer' before her, but the task was the same as when she was a secretary back before Advent and datawork didn't have the same ring to it. A ringing tone rang through the air, causing her to pause her work.

"Yes, this is Elder Ea's office, to whom am I speaking with?" The diligent woman asked after pressing down on the holographic button to answer the call.

"Yes, hello? This is Regional Manager Chad. I was just wondering if Lord Ea received my recommendations-" The man on the other end of the line began, only to be stopped by Michelle.

"I'm stopping you right there, Chad." Michelle said in an even tone. "Elder Ea is a very busy being and as a result I have been given the responsibility to look over any and all recommendations sent in, and for the last time; no. We're not going to do the Disco Moon thing."

"Ahhh, come on! It would be so cool! And it's well within our technological capabilities to see it through!" Chad uttered.

"Yes, but it's not in the budget." Michelle said in the same even voice.

"But we'd make back all the money if we just-"

"No, Chad." And with that, Michelle closed the line. She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Every time with that man, I swear." With that, she returned to her important work. 'File under revenue management, file under mail, fi-Oh! our first death threat for this quarter! Those are always fun for a read.' Michelle thought to herself as she shuffled through the datafiles and put them under their respective folder. 'Wonder how long before the police find the sender...Also, got to remember to make back up copies for posterity and in case of a cras-' The ringing began anew. 'Wonder who it is this time.'

"Yes, this is Elder Ea's office, to whom am I speaking with?"

"Yes, hello, this is the janitorial staff down here on floor 64." 'Oh Lord, these guys again.' Michelle pushed down the urge to groan.

"Hello, what can we do for you tod-" Michelle began politely, only to be interrupted.

"Yeah yeah, fine how-do-you-do and all that. Anyway, when are we going to get the replacement soap for the dispensers? We've been out on this floor for two days now and we're getting sick and tired of all the complaints from the employees down here."

"As I've told you yesterday, you will receive the replacement soap when the shipment gets to us." Michelle explained.

"Are you kidding me? The other floors have soap, why don't we have soap!?"

"Because by the time we got to distributing the last shipment to the other floors, we found out there wasn't enough for all floors, so we had to ration it out. and there just wasn't enough for every floor." The secretary continued.

"And why were we the ones that missed out, huh?"

"Because we drew straws and you guys lost out." Michelle said honestly and candidly.

"....Well that's just no fair."

"No, it isn't, but that's how it worked out." Michelle responded. "Look, if you guys really want to keep complaining about this, file it in a form to the complaint department."


"We all have a lot of work to do, both you and I, and the sooner you go to the CD the faster we can both do our jobs. Thank you, and if you have any other complaints please see to filing them with the CD and not the personal secretary of the Elder. Thank you and have a nice day." With that, Michelle cut the call short and returned to filing. 'Still gotta do the reports summarizing the progress for various regional agenci-' The phone rang again. 'Please don't be a weirdo.' "Yes, this is Elder Ea's office, to whom am I speaking with?"

"Helloooooo~!" Came the psionically generated voice of one of the new Gatekeepers in the mailing department. "I'm trying to fiiiiind a Mr. Tiiiiibs so I can give him some maiiiiiil~!"

"That's a problem for employee resources to solve. Please see them on floor 3 to find a specific individual." Michelle said before cutting off the line. 'Now, back to wo-' Ring. Ring. 'Damn it all, if this keeps up, I'll never get everything finished for today!' "Yes, this is Elder Ea's office, to whom am I speaking with?"

"Yeah, hey Mario. Let me get a double olive, double-"

"Who is this? How'd you get this number?" Michelle asked, feeling a little exasperated by this new inane thing to interrupt her job.

"Wait, this isn't Pizza Castle?"

"What? That hasn't existed since Advent's take over! Have you been living under a rock?" Michelle brusquely asked, professionalism ignored in favor of venting.

"....Well, that's not entirely inaccurate."

"Good-bye, sir." Michelle said as she disconnected the line. "Some people, I swear."


Meanwhile, far from City 1, a band of resistance members worked tirelessly within the bowels of a downed alien vessel.

"Yo, P! You order the pizza?" One of them asked loudly as one of them came back from the makeshift comms. room.

"Man, would you believe Pizza Castle's gone?" 'P' complained loudly.

"Aw man, this sucks." The first to speak groaned. "I really wanted a slice, ya dig doc?"

"That's fine and all, Clarence, but could you help me with this?" The aged and bespectacled human male uttered as he looked over what seemed to be a computer. "Bradford's still getting sober and I'm having trouble getting to this circuit board."

"You got it, doc." Clarence uttered as he moved to help.

"Thank you. And to think that Bradford was worried you new recruits wouldn't be up to sn-wait....was that last transmission encrypted?" The doctor asked with a concerned frown.

"....Uh, probably?" 'P' said with a shrug. The doctor sighed.

"Someone get Bradford. We're moving to Site B. Hopefully that one will be in better condition than this current mess." The doctor sighed again as he shook his head. 'Here's to hoping.'
Evaluations R Us, Pt. 1.
It Followed Me Home.


Four years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


Ea stared at the current document before him, eyes glazed over as the urge to fight off the boredom consuming him alive was failing him. Another new years, another pile of paperwork. Honestly, in the modern age of advanced digital libraries and Psi-Net documentations, the fact that he still had to deal with actual, physical paperwork was appalling. He would personally punch the one who had insisted on the idea, except then he'd be punching himself, and by 'insisted' it had actually been a one off suggestion at a meeting that the higher ranking Ethereals had actually thought was one of his (few, in their words) good ideas. Uh, of all the things he wanted taken into consideration, an off-handed comment was not one of them.

He didn't even have the chance to do as he planned and take the battleship against that fat jolly bastard, either. Why? Unfilled paperwork of course. Only the Talos and his punishments could lead to a vaunted Elder having to fill out paper work in order to gain access to a battleship. Oh, the indignity.

The temptation to take a break loomed over him, telling him to take a load off, come back to this work later when he was ready. And honestly, it was a temptation he decided to indulge, getting up from his seat to stretch his arms and legs while his body still retained the strength to do so. A frown crossed Ea's face beneath his helmet. How much longer did he have, he wondered? The Dessication, as the conditiona had come to be known by among the Elders, its origins a tightly held secret even among their kind, was something that came to all Ethereal Ones the older they got. Indeed, even Ea was feeling it's effects at his age, but as the youngest of his kind, he was not in any danger of it having truely crippling, lethal effects.....yet.

How much longer did he have? A decade or two? A century more or three? Honestly, as the youngest by a wide margin, it was difficult to pin down just how much time was left. A sobering thought, and one that terrified almost every Ethereal alive save a handful like Ekidu. Ah, Ekidu. The soft hearted one. The one whose appeals to morality and ethics had always been ignored in favor of brutal effeciency and ruthless pragmatism, whose words for patience and kindness fell on deaf ears.

Well, not entirely deaf ears. Ea was man enough to admit he owed his softer qualities to his old mentor and friend, and despite how long it had been since they had last had an actual conversation with one another, he still cared for his old friend enough to have no shame in taking those lessons to heart, even if they did end up biting him in the ass given the rest of the Elder council's leanings.

"You know," He muttered to himself as he stared out the window. "Today is a beautiful day. I think I'll get Blanco and go for a walk-"

"Hey boss-man!" And like that, his good mood instantly soured. With a growling groan, Ea turned his head to see the source of his endless annoyances: Bob. That damnable first generation Sectoid, with his stupid tie, and his stupid name, and his stupid.....stupidness. Stupid Bob.

"What is it?" Ea asked, withholding a sigh at having to converse with this constant annoyance.

"I got a message for you, your eyes only." Bob said as he hoisted a data pad up for Ea to take. Using his mastery of the Gift to snatch it out of Bob's hands, Ea levitated the device over to himself before inspecting it. Indeed, the datafile on it read 'Elder Ea's Eyes Only', and was locked with a Psi lock that would only let him activate it. No apparant psi-signature. Ea rolled his eyes. Probably a secret message from Bradley. Who the hell did that snobby idiot think he was, doing something so dramatically stupid as this?

"Alright, let's see what this is all about-" Ea's voice caught and died within his throat as he activated the message.....and the distinct voice of an old friend spoke to him.

'Ea.' Ekidu's spectral voice spoke through the device directly into Ea's mind. 'Ea, listen to me. There isn't much time.' The joy Ea felt over hearing his old friend's voice again was undercut by the urgency in said voice as he relayed his message to his younger ward. No 'how are you', no 'I hope you are well', no anything of that nature. Straight to the point. Ea's eyes furrowed with concern as he listened intently to what Ekidu had to say.

'I don't know if this will reach you in time, but if it does, you must know: Surprise effeciency inspections are to begin soon. Effeciency Inspectors will be going to every major governing and production facility and habitation region on Earth when it begins. But yeah, you have to know who they're sending to City 1, to you.' .....No.....No, no, it can't be. They wouldn't. They wouldn't. They can't. 'Ea, my friend, they are sending.....her.' Impossible. They have never, ever sent her to inspect the same being more than once. Once has always been enough.....'Prepare yourself Ea. I will not be there to help you this time. You will have to deal with her on your own. Prepare your people, and prepare them well. Their lives rest in your hands now.' With that, the message ended, and the data pad up and died, its internals self destructing to prevent anyone ever finding out about Ekidu's warning.

As for Ea, he was deathly, deathly still. He was calm. Too calm. His four arms were at his sides, his hands curling and uncurling. So. That was how it was going to be? His hands finally decided on staying closed, balled into fists. So be it.

"Uh, what's happening?" Bob asked, clearly confused. "Who is 'her'?" Right. Bob was made around the time of the invasion. He was too young to know about....HER.

"Bob, listen to me, and listen to me very very carefully." Ea said in a slow, uncompromising manner. "You are to go to every non-human employee of authority in this building, and you are to tell them this: 'Code Pink.'" Bob anxiously twiddled his thumbs, an uncharacteristic worried look on his usually upbeat face, concerned and blissfully unaware of what was to come.


"Bob, you have many questions, but I cannot answer them right now." Ea was not angry towards Bob, but calm. This was the calmest Bob had ever seen Ea act towards him in, well, any context. In that instance, Bob's concern mutated into fear. "Go. Spread the word." Ea turned to return to his desk. "Now, Bob." It was not a yell, but a command of authority. Bob went scrambling for the door on all fours. Ea sat down at his desk. All four hands began to move with a precision and deftness not used in a long, long time. His aged eyes were sharp and clear as he tore through documents, finishing and filing them away at blinding speeds. Where once there was a pile of paperwork, there was now a pristine desk and neatly stacked folders completed to the last. Ea pressed a button on his intercom system.

"Yes, sir?" Michelle asked from her spot at her desk outside of his office.

"Code Pink."

"....W-Wh-Sir, y-you said they would never-"

"I was wrong. Code Pink. You know what to do."

"I'll get everyone whipped into shape, sir." Ea didn't reply back, simply letting go of the intercom and steeping his hands together as he stared forwards in contemplation. They were pulling this on him. They would announce Effeciency Investigation dates tomorrow, he knew as much given the timing of Ekidu's message, but she would arrive the day after instead of the supposed date they would give him. He had already would have everyone ready by then. They had to be. For their sakes.


The day came exactly as Ea had predicted. The day before, announcments. And just this morning, they were informed that she was already on her way. The landing area near the top floors of Tower 1 had been cleared of any vessels that might get in the way of her arrival. Everything was in perfect order: Dropships and two platoons of Advent Troopers flanked the pink carpet leading to an open landing zone. Behind the platoons were the assorted workers of Tower 1, managers and top employees alike. Those on the right were the human workers, standing at attention but otherwise lost and confused as to the need for all the pomp and ceremony. Those on the left, meanwhile, were the alien workers of Tower 1.

There was only one emotion among them, and that was barely contained terror. The Sectoids were wringing their hands and a handful were discretely offering prayers to whatever deity would heed their calls for mercy. None of them stood at the front of the others, all of them trying to stay a far back as possible without visually looking like they were hanging back. The Mutons, meanwhile, stood tall and proud, seemingly not afraid. However, their scent betrayed them, as each and every one was emiting the distinct pheromone signature of fear. It was Ted, his chef's hat replaced with a barrett of war, who stood at their lead.

"Courage, mes frères! Courage!" He told them, and they all managed to stand up a little straighter. The Vipers of Tower 1, tech nerds one and all who spend their days observing the data centers and monitoring stations of City 1, all stood in grim silence, their forms cloaked in ceremonial garb that didn't look out of place at a funerary service, their eyes covered up by veils.

And at the end of the pink carper, waiting to recieve the Grand Effeciency Investigator, standing on a small raised platform, was Ea himself. To his right was Michelle, his Secretary stone faced and silent. To his left was Bob, who due to the need of getting everything in order had still not been informed of what was happening or who this was. Silence reigned as a holographic timer overhead detailed the time to contact as the Investigator's dropship was coming in for a landing. Seconds ticked by as they waited until, finally, the Dropship came into view of the hanger. It was typical of Advent dropship designs, functually an elongated box with elongated thrusters on its four corners.

It landed, one side facing towards the pink carpet.....And then, nothing. For a full minute, nothing.

"Uh-" Bob began, only to be interupted by one of the Vipers taking out and playing some alien instrument. A grim dirge reverberated through the whole hanger, and as if waiting for that as a cue, the drop ship's door opened, a pink, suffocating mist flowing outward. Those nearest to it had to fight the urge to gag as a sophicatingly sweet perfume filled the air. Everyone tensed up as she approached.

Slithering out of the mist and unto the carpet, drssed in a pink jacketed, white skirt-blouse combo and wearing a red sun-hat, was an albino Viper with an extremely cute face, big emotive eyes bright and cheerful. She was also smaller than other Vipers by several feet, both in length and in how much height she gave herself as she slithered on her muscular tail. She was also holding an oversized clipboard, hugging it to her chest. She was, by all appearences, absolutely adorable.

"Daaaaw." Someone from the human section blurted out. Michelle froze up, but slowly relaxed as the Grand Effeciency Investigator seemed to not notice. The Advent Troopers were silent, proffessional, but otherwise showing no fear of this newly arrived Viper. The aliens behind them, meanwhile, were fighting not to bolt away in panic. The humans opposite of them were utterly confused. Bob, meanwhile, was scratching his head in confusion.

"I don't get it." He whispered to himself. Behind the Grand Investigator, a sound occurered, echoing through all the room: A loose magazine from one of the newer, less experienced Troopers had slid out of his rifle and had clanked unto the ground. He was quick to pick it up and slam it back into his rifle, but the error had been done: The Grand Investigator had stopped in her tracks, absolutely frozen in place as she stopped, staring ahead. The humans looked on in confusion. The Troopers stood up straighter, expecting one of their own to recieve a harsh repriman for that mistake. The aliens, meanwhile, all looked away or shut their eyes, knowing what was coming. Bob kept staring in confusion, Michelle morbid curiosity, but Ea? He stared at what was to come, fists clenched beneath his robes in anger.

The Grand Investigator did not turn around. She did not turn her body, nor her head, to look at the trooper. She remained there, staring straight ahead like a statue....and then, her eyes moved, pupils sliding until they were looking to the side which the Trooper in question was, as if she could see him clearly despite him being directly behind her.

The Trooper stood tall, ready for his reprimand. He cleared his throat. Coughed once. Twice.

And collapsed on the floor, like a puppet with cut strings. The Viper's Dirge had taken on a new, somber quality.

As the humans looked on in shock and confusion, one of them asking 'is he alright', the Troopers all, impossibly, stood up straighter. Unlike the humans, they knew immediatly what has occured to their brother: His biometrics, without warning, had just....stopped. They had gone from standing straight out of proffesionalism to doing so out of fear.

Bob stared in shock. He had sensed nothing. Not use of the Gift, no apparent movements to signal some sort of weapon. Nothing but her eyes. As the gravity of the situation settled over everyone in the room, the suddenly Grand Investigator continued her journey until she stopped just short of the podium. She had to look up to look Ea in the eye form her position, but to everyone in attendance, it honestly felt like she was the one looking down. The Elder was the only one to show no fear, but rather an undercurrent of rage at what had just happened. To everyone else in attendance, their already high opinion of Ea rose ever so slightly, but noticeably.

"Little Ea." The Viper coo'd in a sickeningly sweet voice that sounded authentically bubbly. "It has been a while, hasn't it? My, how time sure does fly!" Bob stared at her in horror. Her expression. It was still the same. Her voice, sweet and friendly, like someone hadn't just up and died behind her. What the hell?

"Miss P." He said in a voice so low, it came out a growl. "When does your evaluation begin?" He did not have to ask: He already knew the answer. But by being the one to say it, she would have to answer him, and that meant everyone in attendance would know.

"Ohohohoho!" The Viper laughed, hand coming to her mouth in a haughty laugh. "Dear little Ea, it's already begun!" She said. She smiled at him. Aesthetically, it was a nice smile, friendly and charming. On anyone else, it was reassuring. But on her? Ea had never hated a smile as much as he did this one. "Now, enough of this." She waved at the hanger around her. She leaned in, expression same as when she first left the dropship.

Evaluations R Us, Pt. 2.
Lunchroom of Terror.


Four years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


When Effeciency Day arrived in the Elder Empire, it was a cause for much attention. When the Investigators came to perform their inspection, they would either pass or fail the offending party, no question's asked, based on the performance during the evaluation. It was simple like that: You either passed and continued your work, or you failed to meet a set standard and were summarily looked into to see what steps were needed to increase effeciency back to an acceptable level. A simple system with simple results.

That is, if you were given a normal Investigator to oversee your facilities.

Because out there in the Empire, there was one Investigator that was not only dreaded. She was actively feared. The names for her were many: The Pink One, The Office Reaper, The Slithering Death. The Grand Investigator. Regardless of what she was called, 'Miss P.' was the one name no leader ever wanted to see appear on the Investigator assignment list for Effeciency Day. When a normal Investigator came around, the punishment for failure was a tightening of the belt. When Miss P came around, people died. And that was for those who passed the examination. Nobody knew what happened to facilities that failed with her around. Oh, there were always rumors, but nobody knew for sure. The facilities always needed new staff, but nobody actually saw any bodies or other indications of what happened to the previous inhabitants.

So it was this knowledge that kept everyone in line when the news that the Grand Investigator came around. Everyone, of course, except one particular individual.

"How the fuck do you not know about the Pink Terror?" Bob blinked as Toby demanded to know about his apparant ignorance on the subject matter in question.

"By.....Not knowing about her?" Bob said almost like a question, as if he was asking to see if he had the right answer. Toby, for his part, smacked his hand against his forehead and began to rub the spot between his eyes with his index finger and thumb.

"Fucking hell, Lawngnome." Toby hissed as he adjusted his tie for the fifth time since Bob came into the lunch room. "Look, it's pretty simple: She's the grim fucking reaper and if you step out of line, you die."

"Come on, tell me the truth." Bob said, tone light even as concern crept into his psionic signature.

"As far as anyone knows, shortstack, that is the truth." Toby growled. "She just.....showed up one day, a long time ago, and she's been on the Elder's payrole ever since. Anyone that doesn't meet her standards gets cut, and-" Again, he adjusted his tie. "Well, you saw in the hanger."

"None of the humans have been 'cut' though." Bob pointed out. It was true: Over the course of the last few days since the evaluation started, of the three deceased found for suboptimal work standards, none of them had been a human. All were aliens.

"They've probably got some kinda immunity or something." Whispered a weedy looking Sectoid in a maintenance outfit. Bob almost jumped out of his skin at the sudden unexpected new speaker.

"Jeez, Steve, don't do that!" Bob huffed as he clutched his glowing chest. The signature chittering laugh of a Second Gen Sectoid filled the air as Steve was amused by his smaller coworkers reaction.

"Immunity, huh?" Toby uttered, ignoring Bob's near heart attack. Steve nodded as he drank his nutrient soup from its can.

"Yup." The maintenance Sectoid hissed out lowly. "Immunity. Humans are the Elder's favorite pets right now, and we're in City 1's main tower. Naturally, we're at ground zero for our work here, with a bunch of humans around. That means they're off the 'kill if they get out of line' list for the Pink One." Toby groaned.

"Great, we get put on the chopping block and the apes get to continue being hairless monkey's all they want. Fantastic. Superb."

"I'm just happy not as many people are going to wind up dead." Bob chimed up, a genuine relief to know not everyone was in danger. At that, a frown came over his face. "That witch. I don't care if she is the Elder's right hand inspector, she shouldn't be killing us like this."

"Consider yourself lucky no Sectoids got hit by her yet." Steve stated. "Mutons, Vipers, Hybrids, they get Cut, simple as that. But psionics, like us? We've got some sort of immunity or resistance or whatever to what she has, which means she has to handle us personally." A frown came over Steve's face. "She gets crushy when she handles things personally...." As if to illustrate his point, Steve crushed the now empty soup can in his hand.

Before the group could continue their discussion any further, the doors to the lunchroom suddenly flew open. Everyone froze and in near perfect unison turned their heads to gaze at the newly opened door. Standing there, in her pink-jacketed , white skirt-blouse combo, was her. Her pink colored eyes slid across the room, sliding over each and every individual she could see. She glanced at the clipboard in her hands before looking back at the crowd.

"Will one 'Franky', M-44352-123 come forward? You have been selected for private reevaluation due to having a salvageable service record." Not once in the whole time that she was there did her faint, disturbingly pleasant smile fade or falter. Standing up from his table, a second gen Muton with the name tag 'Franky' stood up and marched grimly towards the albino serpent. As he walked, his brothers in the room, Ted included, gave him salutes, knowing what was in store for him. As he approached the Viper, physically he towered over her, but her sheer presence made it seem like she was the massive one between them.

"Let's get this over with." He rumbled. Before anything else, however, she turned her head once more to look directly into the crowd. Directly at Bob.

"'Bob'. I will handle you next. A witch, am I?" Her tone of voice was light and friendly, but her presence only became more oppressive as the doors seperating her and Franky suddenly closed. A moment later, the Muton's voice rang out loud and clear.

"N-no! No! Not like this! Ah-AHH-AAAAAAGH!"

Silence filled the room before someone turned to look at Bob.



"Bob, RUN!" Someone on the other side of the room opened one of the emergency exists, and in a flash, Bob was scurrying as fast as his four legs could carry him.
[Glances at the site reaction named 'Alias' being a bunny] ......Really? I would never have guessed. It's a complete surprise. :V
I'm full of surprises :p I chuckled. No oppressing of you today by mod bunnies. :p
Evaluations R Us, Pt. 3.
Run, Bob, Run!


Four years, post-Advent Ascendancy.


In every career path, there are consequences for actions taken. Failing to accomplish your task results in demerits, write ups, and warnings. Destruction of company property can result in termination, or demotion. Insulting your boss within earshot, however, depends heavily on their mood and your relationship with them, with the penalties ranging from a slap on the wrist to something much more severe.

In the case of SU-T-783X-5/3401, also known as 'Bob', insulting the Grand Investigator within her hearing range, of which was an unknown but disturbingly far reaching amount of distance, the end result was him being on the run for his life. He had never really given much thought to his kind's diminutive, awkwardly proportioned first form, but as he tore through the halls and scampered through down every stairwell at break neck speeds, he found he quite liked the agility running on all fours gave him.

Of course, the time to appreciate this agility was not at hand: Dodging, bobbing, and weaving his way through obstacles as he desperately fought to put as much distance between himself and the two meter long death-snake he had unwittingly gained the ire of.

'Stupid, stupid, stupid!' He thought to himself. 'Why did I think to say that outloud!?' Too late for going back now, Bob yelped as he barged through a door to find himself within the server room level of the building and came face to face with a Viper.

Thankfully, not the Viper he was afraid of, as the diminutive Grand Investigator was neither so tall nor wearing either a sweater or a pair of spectacles. The Viper server operator blinked as she stared down at him.

"Bob?" The Viper uttered in confusion.

"Hi Denise, can't talk," Bob said as he looked around frantically for another exit. "-I'm-"

"On the run from the Grand Investigator because you did something that now puts your life at risk from her wrath?" Bob blinked.

"Yeah, how did you know?" The Viper just pointed behind him, and the Sectoid could only look back in mounting horror to find, despite his head start and breakneck speed, the Grand Investigator looming at the doorway, her eyes glued to him and her unnervingly pleased smile still glued to her face, as though she wasn't about to commit horrible bloody murder.

Without a second though, Bob leapt past Denise in an amazing display of athleticism for his small frame, all while the normal Viper slid to the side to not get in the way. The Grand Investigator, for her part, just flickered her tongue to take in the taste of fear in the air.

"I do so enjoy it when they run." She cooed before she began to follow behind her prey.


To say Ea was frustrated was an understatement. While it was true that the casualties so far had been mercifully low, the fact any happened at all enraged him to no end. He had hated it when it happened in his old job in the Empire, and he hated it now. Miss P. The bane of his pride as a benevolent boss to his employees.

"What are we at now, Michelle?" He growled to himself as he fought hard not to glare at his secretary.

"We have a reported 7 missing non-humans, and 15 missing Hybrids, sir." She grimly noted. By Miss P's standards, this was a miraculously low body-count. To Ea, it set a fire to his heart as he fought down the fury mounting within him.

"I see." He growled through grit teeth. "Anything else to report?" Michelle opened her mouth to speak when her communicator began to buzz. She quickly tabbed it open and her eyebrows raised up.

"It seems, sir, that she's going to handle your assistant for you." Ea froze.


"She's gone after Bob, sir. It seems she's chasing him through the server rooms as we speak." Bob. That tiny, annoying little nuisance who had been assigned to him by the higher ups as a part of his punishment. Bob, the clumsy, hair-brained little oaf who brought some canine-rodent creature into his office that proceeded to wet his most favored robe.

That little rat bastard was going to die, and he would be free from him! No more Bob! No more Bob, whose heart was bigger than his head and who despite his incompetence genuinely wanted nothing more than to help. No more Bob, a disgustingly bright little ball of positivity in the crushingly mundane day to day operations of his work!


.....Damn it.


There are many oddities regarding 1st Generation Sectoid biology. For example, a lack of mouth and digestive system. Or how they were able to drink coffee despite not having either of those previously mentioned things. One such oddity was the fact that, despite an apparent lack of nose, they had a surprisingly powerful lung capacity that, combined with their quadrupedal running motions and relatively small size and low weight, meant they could run far, fast, without getting tired easily.

So it was a testament to the amount of athletic activity as Bob bounced to and fro in the Server room, dodging strikes and glancing hits from the Pink Terror that he was starting to feel tired. After the 7th near miss in a row, it was starting to dawn on him that maybe, perhaps just maybe, she was screwing with him and actively trying to make him tired so he'd be exhausted when the end came.

As that realization dawned on him, and the second realization that no matter how hard he tried, there was no escaping this, he came to a decision and stopped in the middle of an intersection within the server room.

"Finally grown tired, deary?" Miss P asked in a sickeningly sweet voice. Bob, for his part just turned around and glared daggers at her. From the sidelines, Denise and her fellow Server Vipers stared with baited breath at the execution about to happen. So it was to their unmounted surprise when, against everything they knew Sectoids to be-Small, frail, cowardly, frightened creatures who ran if not forced to fight-Bob stood up a little taller, a little prouder, before he raised up his hands, balled into fists, into a fighting position. He didn't say a word as he stared down the Grim Reaper herself.

For her part, Miss P just maintained her eerily calm, passive smile as she stared with her cold, faux-friendly eyes right back at him.

"I see." She uttered. "Then you will die braver than most." With that said, she raised her tail to strike him down while he tensed up to go down swinging. The tail reached the zenith of its arc towards the Sectoid's head, when a burst of Psionic power eclipsed the room as none other than Elder Ea himself appeared in front of Bob, standing between him and the Viper. Miss P's tail froze immediately, defying its inertia by stopping dead in its tracks like a picture frozen in time. Slowly, she turned her eyes without moving her head to look directly at Ea's helmet, as he now was the one to glare down at her. "Really, now?"

"Not this one." He growled in a voice more ferocious than any in the room had ever heard from him.

"I'm doing you a favor." She cooed in her too sweet tone. "With him dead, you won't have to deal with his annoyances anymore. I will even personally speak to the council of lifting this part of your punishment. Don't you want him gone?"

"Not to you." The Elder hissed. Bob blinked. The Vipers blinked. Miss P's face remained passive as always before slowly she returned her tail back to its coiled position as she stood up straighter.

"I see. As you say, Elder." There was no venom in her tone, but it was difficult to tell if she said his title with any respect or with thinly veiled insult. "If that is the case, I have finished my review of your workplace environment, and have found it.....Mostly free of incompetence. You receive a passing grade. Congratulations."

"Good." The Elder uttered in a clipped tone. "Get out."

"But of course." She cooed with a dainty little curtsy. As she turned to leave, she stopped for a moment without turning back to look at him. "It is good to see you finally found some backbone, young Ea. You will need it." Behind his helmet, Ea just narrowed his eyes as the Grand Investigator continued on with taking her leave. He didn't relax even as she left the room until, as he sensed with the Gift, she suddenly disappeared from his senses once sufficiently out of sight.

"B-Boss?" Bob uttered in shock.

"Bob." Ea growled in his more normal annoyed tone. "The next time you get in trouble like this, I will personally see to it that you will be scrubbing toilets for the next five years for making me have to come get you out of it." The sudden influx of levity shattered the ice, and Bob found himself laughing nervously as the Vipers continued to stare in shock at what just happened.

"I, uh, appreciate it, Boss."

"You will not be if I have to have you clean out the Muton barracks." Ea uttered as he relaxed and began to float towards the stairwell, Bob now by his side. "You're lucky I have the foresight to know if you die, they'll send someone more annoying to replace you." He added, careful not to be too hasty with how he said it so it seemed like that was his reasoning behind saving the little creature's life.

"Yeah, yeah, of course Boss, of course." Bob nodded along with the explanation. "....Thanks."

"Just get me a coffee, Bob." Ea sighed. "And try not to trip this time. We have only so much in the budget for new carpets this quarter." It is technically impossible for a Sectoid to smile, due to the lack of mouth. But there was an equivalent, with the corners of Bob's eyes creasing in just the right way to indicate a positive emotion.

"You got it, Boss man!"
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