894: X-COM: Resurrection – Chapter OnePosted: November 27, 2014
Title: X-COM: Resurrection
Media: Video Game
URL: X-COM: Resurrection: Chapter 1
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck
Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the point where we finally break the fuck away from those god-awful Quarter Quell sequels!
I just… good God, those were awful! I can’t believe I managed to weather the storm through all of those fucking sequels! I just… there’s gotta be something out there that’s bad but with at least somewhat decent prose, right?
There is? Sweet! So what is it?
*fic is lobbed at him*
Ow! My eye!
Hm… Let’s see this… Hm, X-COM fic with a dumb premise, but the prose doesn’t seem too bad. Really, it’s actually not bad prose by any stretch of the—
It’s got what!?
Okay, just for the record, I feel like I should say this now: I actually do not mind TVTropes pages on fanfics. Here’s the thing, though: this particular TVTropes page seems to have been made by the author himself, it’s apparent from a quick check of the edit history that the author himself is the sole contributor to that TVTropes page (there’s one other editor, but it was only for fixing formatting issues: otherwise, all tropes have been contributed by the author), and it was created after the time of TroperWorks. And oh yeah, there is the fact that it also has a characters page, too, which was also only contributed to by the author (with, once again, only two other editors to fix formatting issues).
Hm… Ladies and gentlemen, I sense a case of Small Name, Big Ego here.
And here’s the funny thing: I’ve been accused of “Small Name, Big Ego” over the Mass Vexations TVTropes page by people on that site. Of course, what those guys conveniently forget (or just didn’t want to acknowledge, considering the fact that they spent several pages of forum posts bashing MV) is that I made the MV trope page back when the TroperWorks index was still a thing, and that I just never disputed it when the TVTropes people moved it to the Fanfic index when TroperWorks was dismantled during MV2’s original update run. Also, I never made a Characters page for MV. And honestly, after seeing Subject 23 rip me off to the extent that it did, I don’t even want to glance at MV’s trope page again. I just don’t.
But yeah. Our author has a small name and a big ego, even if he’s much more subtle about his ego than Maxie-boy or Octavarius Kaiser Scott or Lord Asmo.
Hm… How does the fic start?
March 1, 2015
Huh. It starts with an accurate time-stamp in relation to XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s timeline. Okay.
Jeanne woke up.
Which is odd, because she didn’t remember going to sleep.
Holy God, that tense shift! Ow… Dear God in heaven, what is that?
Well, even with the tense shift, it certainly is an attention grabber, so… hopefully the rest of the prose is decent?
She was in a white room. The walls were white. The floor was made of white tiles. Her sheets were white. The bedframe was painted white. She was wearing a simple gown of rough white fabric. Even the old man sitting at her bedside was wearing white.
Oh, fuck, it’s the DRD!
Right. Swenia, fire away with the plasma cannons!
*BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM*
Whoah… I knew plasma was destructive, but damn, dude… That’s just—
What the—they’re not done!?
Swenia! Cue in the—
What the—oh, come on! How many times is this—
Okay, that’s it.
If our usual DRD traps aren’t gonna do the trick this time, then fuck it, it’s time I handled these guys on my own.
¡POR LA VIDA DE ERNESTO LECUONA!
[Scene Redacted for Extreme Violence]
Wow, I did not know the average DRD agents’ torso could bend like that.
Swenia: I also didn’t think you could be that violent.
Well, Swenia, that’s ‘cause you haven’t seen me when someone tries to steal from the key lime pie stash. You’re just gonna sit there?
Swenia: Well, I don’t have anything else to do…
Okay. Well, I’ll leave you to it. For now…
*sits back down, gestures to the fic*
The only noticeably non-white thing was a large wooden crucifix hanging from the wall.
Hm… Why do I get the feeling I just stepped into a Stanley Kubrick movie?
The man looked up at her. His expression was warm and kindly. He spoke in an odd accent:
“Bon matin, mademoiselle.”
So… Random person wakes up, and she’s in a room with a random guy… Hm, I wonder what her initial reaction will be.
Her eyes narrowed. “Who are you? Where am I?”
Hm… Well, it’s not enough to confirm either way, but the fact that her eyes narrowed at him…
Eh, I’ll take it. So she’s sort of just like “what the fuck is going on”. Fine, that’s acceptable.
The man’s response?
The man smiled. “I am Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome,” he said simply.
Okay… um… Okay, sure. Technically, the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, but here’s the thing: nobody would ever call the Pope “the Bishop of Rome”. Not unless—
Jeanne’s eyes, which had been heavy with sleep, flew open. She had never heard of a Pope Francis, but she knew it was true. She sat up and bowed her head. “Your Holiness…” she began, but the Pope cut her off.[/quote]
…it’s for dramatic effect. Yeah, never mind that it really doesn’t make sense in any way, shape, or form for the Pope to do that, we’ve gotta do it that way because Rule of Cool!
Wait, Jeanne as in… Jeanne d’Arc?
“Careful, my child. You have been through a lot. Besides, it is my judgment that even the Holy Father must show deference when in the presence of a saint.”
A saint? Me? How is that possible?
Yep, it’s Jeanne d’Arc all right. So, fic, you care to explain why the fuck Pope Francis and Jeanne d’Arc are in the same room with Pope Francis somehow not needing to learn how to speak Medieval French before doing so?
She stared at him, mouth agape. Francis looked down, then back at her. “Perhaps I should just give you the whole story.” He took a deep breath, and Jeanne lay back in her bed.
Ah, thank you, that would be quite nice.
Oh, and while you’re at it, can your prose stop being drier than a raisin? ‘Cause this prose… I mean, I’m all for not getting purple prose, but good God, man!
“You were burned at the stake by the English for heresy in 1431. France ultimately defeated the English, ending what is known as the Hundred Years’ War. In 1456, following a formal investigation by the Church, the trial was found to be invalid, and you were declared a martyr. You were beatified in 1909, and in 1920, you were canonized by Pope Benedict XV.”
It was all too much to handle. France’s victory was no surprise – why would He have called her if He did not intend for France to prevail? And she could comprehend being made a martyr, although it struck her as prideful to think of herself that way. But to be canonized…
Well, on the one hand, this is not information Jeanne d’Arc would’ve been privy to by now, if she did indeed travel forward in time. It’s not info the reader needs, though, and it’s sort of like…
Nah, I’ll give the fic a free pass on this. I mean, the character doesn’t know, so in this case the bout of exposition is not really that bad, especially since…
and the date…
“What year is this?” she asked, her voice weak.
“Today is the first of March, in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Fifteen.”
Yep, ya gotta set up the inevitable Fish-Out-Of-Water subplot. I mean, this is where Jeanne d’Arc is all “mon Dieu, est… est-ce reálité?”, right?
Two thousand and fifteen… Jeanne had never been skilled at mathematics, but even she could figure out that she had been dead for centuries.
Not that Jeanne would’ve learned math in the first place, but hey: we’ve gotta have our nonsensical analogy there somehow, right?
Francis continued, this time more gravely.
Wait, is that really all the reaction we’ll get to Jeanne d’Arc finding out she’s come back to earth after five hundred and eighty-four years!? What, no frantic questioning about God’s hand? No reaction to why she was pulled out of the afterlife and/or an identity crisis upon finding out the afterlife doesn’t exist? No reaction to finding out that the world has changed around her? Nothing? That’s all?
Hey, genius, here’s a newsflash: finding out that the entire word has changed around you and that you’re suddenly in the future would probably give you a much bigger reaction than “huh, that’s a lot of years”! And yes, that’s true even if the reaction extends beyond this initial conversation. I just… is that seriously the extent of your immediate reaction!?
I just… Wow. I don’t even know. Why would you just skim over something like that?
“The world has seen many changes since your death. But perhaps none more so than recently.
Oh, that’s right: we wouldn’t want to get in the way of this fic’s exposition, would we? Nah, interesting character moments are for wimps, after all!
All right, what is it?
On January 5th, a strange object fell from the sky in Stuttgart, Germany. A team of elite soldiers was sent in to investigate. They learned that the object had carried several aliens – beings from other worlds. The soldiers fought the aliens… and were nearly wiped out. The only survivor has lost her leg and will never walk again. So the nations of the world formed an organization called X-COM, intended to defend this planet from outside threat.”
What Jeanne should actually say: [in French]“What in God’s name are you talking about? What is Stuttgart? What is this about other worlds? What is a planet? What other nations are in the world? How did France and England put their differences aside? What are you talking about?”
What she actually says: absolutely nothing.
Author, you do realize that Jeanne d’Arc grew up as a peasant, right? And you realize she was executed eight years before Guttenberg created the printing press, right? And you realize that before then, information was not so easily disseminated among commoners, right?
On with the story!
He paused again, and looked at Jeanne.
Oh, right, and that reminds me. One other question Jeanne should’ve asked:
“And what does all that have to do with me?”
“And then came the Lazarus Project. X-COM’s scientists found a way to resurrect the dead. I do not know the details. But I have seen others they have brought back, and they possess not only the appearance of their former selves, but their memories, personalities… even, I believe, their souls. So I gave my blessing for them to bring you back as well.
We need you, Saint Jeanne. You will join a team of the greatest warriors in human history. All of you have been given knowledge of modern weapons and technology, as well as knowledge of the English language. I wish I could say they were all virtuous sons and daughters of the Church, but that is not the case. Most are heretics or infidels. Some are guilty of horrible crimes. Nevertheless, they are all famed in history for their exploits on the battlefield, and they are all human.”
Did I… did I really just hear that? Aliens invade, XCOM (without the dash, author, because that’s characteristic of old school X-COM and not Enemy Unknown/Within) is formed… and their first thought is “hey, let’s see if we can resurrect historical characters”? I just… what!?
What kind of morons would respond to that sort of thing with… this!? I mean… that’s, how much money wasted? Why would you pay for the money to bring them back and then train them? ‘Cause it’s not just weaponry they’ll have to learn! They’ll have to bridge the gap across untold years of cultural shifts, they’ll have to bring them up to date on math and science, they’ll basically have to give them an entire education, and that’s on top of the military training! Basically, you’d have to give an entire K-12 education to some of these guys to help them catch up, you somehow have to do it quickly, and you have to do it in combination with military training!
And yes, they will need training. Knowing about the weapons is not the same as using them! I don’t care if you’re a Kye-Stu type where you pretend to know stuff about weapons when you really don’t or if you’ve done tons and tons of research into it, you still need to get a feel for how to use them before you go into a combat situation! Knowing about what they are and how they work is not the same thing as knowing how you’re supposed to use them!
And really, if you’re going to have to train them anyway, why not just hire soldiers from the present day? Because here’s the thing: for all the money you poured into resurrecting them (and by the way: no, said method of resurrection is never explained), you could’ve just used actual soldiers that lived in the present day. I mean, think of it this way: XCOM is an organization that is multinational, it’s working with fairly limited resources, and even as you go through the game you’re still building up its HQ. So you see, not even its HQ is complete! With that said, why the fuck would you think it would be a good idea to resurrect famous historical figures—a process that the author has stated elsewhere on the internet takes millions of credits—when you could just hire soldiers for the ten credit cost as you see it in the actual game!? If you’re strained on resources, you’ll try to cut costs, which means that resurrecting soldiers is completely off the table, especially when you’d have to train them!
“Oh, but Herr, the next chapter explains that the experience of how to use them was implanted in their heads!” Yeah, I’ll get to that when that’s brought up, but to make a long story short, it actually makes the premise dumber than it already is.
I just… seriously, this makes about as much sense as it would to have two guys write a novel about how Germany’s only possible response to an alien invasion is to resurrect SS soldiers and have them do battle with those aliens!
*goes to Uncle Goo—*
Let’s… let’s just move on. Please.
Jeanne nodded. She wasn’t sure she understood the concept of aliens,
So why don’t you, I dunno, ask!? I mean, granted, I know you came from France in the 15th Century and all that, but God damn, woman, you had a lot of pull for a woman at the time, and you were quite headstrong if historical accounts are to be believed, too!
but she understood the idea of joining together with others for a common cause. And if they could bring her back, then it made sense to bring others back, others who could fight against a common foe.
Let’s hope they don’t resurrect Caligula. Jeanne would have him speared through the heart before he could say… um… however you say “cheeseburgers” in Latin.
“I have three things for you, Saint Jeanne,” Francis said. He reached down to a small bag, and opened it, withdrawing a rolled up piece of paper. He handed it to her, and she opened it. To her surprise, she could read the words perfectly.
Somehow. Even though French from the 15th Century still has a few differences from its modern counterpart.
“This is a Papal Bull, declaring a defensive Crusade to preserve the whole of the Earth. I have called upon all Catholic nations to support X-COM and provide assistance. And I have commanded you, Saint Jeanne, to join X-COM and represent the Church in this matter.”
So Pope Francis has called on all Catholic nations to support XCOM… despite the fact that the modern world doesn’t have “Catholic nations” in the sense Jeanne might know them by. Also, you realize that Pope Francis generally talks about “Christian nation” in a metaphorical sense that wouldn’t involve pluralizing “nation”, right? And why would he declare a holy Crusade against an alien force when every other nation on earth has already pledged to fight them?
He withdrew another piece of paper, and handed it to her.
“This is a letter from François Hollande, President of the Republic of France, appointing you to the rank of Brigade General in the Army of France, and commanding you to represent France within X-COM.”
What Jeanne should say: “Wait, Republic of France? What in God’s name are you talking about? And “president”? What is a president? Who’s the king?”
What she actually says:
Jeanne nodded again. “Thank you, your Holiness. And the third thing?”
Because why have a realistic reaction to hearing terminology she would be completely unfamiliar with, am I right?
And also, why the fuck has the president of France promoted someone to the rank of “Brigade General” in the French army when she hasn’t fucking proved she’s capable of holding that title? I know, I know, rallied the French against the English and all that jazz, but what has she done in the modern day to deserve that? Because one would think she’d have to prove her worth in the modern day long before you get around to getting promoted to general. And wait, can you really do that to someone who’s not technically part of modern-day France’s military?
Francis smiled, and reached behind his chair, pulling out a sheathed sword.
“When you are well, you will be given modern weapons. But I thought you might like this. It is a sword worthy of a crusader… and a sign that we trust you.”
Ah, right, we shall bestow upon you a sword! Because as we all know, a sword of a similar construction to that found in the early 15th Century can totally do damage against a bunch of aliens that shoot lasers and balls of plasma at you!
Jeanne took the sword. She drew it partially, and examined the blade. It was simple and unadorned, yet beautiful at the same time. As she laid it across her lap, Francis stood.
“And now, the time has come for me to go. Rest, Saint Jeanne. You will need your strength in the coming days.”
“May the Lord watch over you.”
I’d make a comment about hoping Pope Francis would say that to us, but really, I haven’t got the face to do that. This fic really is more “blah” than it is anything else at the moment, though I’m sure the premise is about to get a lot stupider at some point.
Anyway, that’s actually all for this week. Yeah, if nothing else, these chapters are at least short. I could keep burning through it, but really, after the failure of the Quarter Quell sequels, I don’t know if I really want to put up with much more really abject stupid.
So next week, we’ll go back to this. See you guys next week with the only other uploaded chapter of X-COM: Resurrection!