Before Operation Demon Mother Zhang was called into action, merely hours after he was picked up from Beijing and dropped off the alien artifact with the science team. He requested a machinegun and a rocket launcher, the biggest weapons they had on issue, despite the fact that while he had used a machinegun before he never had used a rocketlauncher. He sits in the skyranger, actually reading the instructions as he waits. "Seems simple enough," he mutters as he hefts the rocket launcher to his shoulder to make sure he gets a feel for its targeting reticle, pointing it out the back of the vehicle and focusing on the first soldier coming into view. Ryan hopped up into the boarding ramp and saw the business end of a rocket launcher pointed straight at him. "Dude, I know you're new to the whole alien killing business, but uh, I'm not an alien. No aliens in XCOM." That brought a slight smirk to Zhang's lips but he pauses a moment before lowering the muzzle of the rocket launcher. He speaks in Mandarin taking a guess after seeing thne name 'Chen' on the soldier's uniform. "One can't be too careful. I find myself wishing I had a little more time to familiarize myself with this weapon before being sent out; however, it seems the aliens aren't fond of giving you XCOM soldiers much of a rest. I was barely out of my own security debriefing before they told me I had to go fight." He shoulders the rocket launcher and goes about checking his new machinegun, racking the slide and inspecting the belt feed to make sure it won't jam. Despite his Triad background, it's immediately clear this not his first time handing a heavy machinegun. "Not that I'm opposed to fighting though I'm not exactly used to working with others when I have to go kill... things." Ryan grimaces and feels his way through some halting Mandarin. "Er, my pu tong hua is a bit rusty." He drops into a seat. "At least you can shoot them from a distance. Command assigned me this stupid thing," he complained, slapping his shotgun," when I would rather stay at least 30 meters away from the little ben dan. Especially if that new super alien shows up again." Zhang looks at the shotgun that Chen is carrying and to the pistol he's carrying on his hip. He changes his language to slightly accented english, seemingly the most common language within XCOM. "A shotgun is very good at killing men. So is the pistol. Unfortunately... we are not hunting men. As for the Assassin, I'm not so sure we will see one of his kind for awhile. I'm sure there are more who look like him, to our human eyes, but he moved like a professional. At the very least, like a rival." "I really should see about claiming his skull. Looking at it would remind me that even a professional can be taken down if taking on too many at once. If he was smarter he would have circled the edge of our group just out of sight, picking us off one by one like he did for Wildchild. She got overconfident, going too far ahead to scout. After she died, the Assassin got overconfident." "Even among the most professional, mistakes still happen. Unfortunately, this is a case where those mistakes are going to result in scars to remind you of your foolishness. And that's if you are lucky. If you aren't lucky... well..." He draws a finger across his throat meaningfully. "That's how you got your beauty marks, eh? Well, note to self: Just don't be foolish, and I'll be pretty forever." Ryan chuckles quietly. "Ever been to Brazil? I'm looking forward to getting some Brazilian barbecue after the mission, I think. There's some nice food.. and nice hotties, but I don't think Command will appreciate us loading a few women as 'battlefield salvage.'" He grins conspiratorially. Zhang touches the scars twisting his smile lightly and shakes his head. "Not these scars. These were a gift when I decided to join the Triads. There were five of us, street urchins and such, all of us desperate. They put us in a pit with three wild dogs that were hungrier than we were and threw in two knives. They said there was one position for the survivor, IF there was one. If we fail then they would know which dog to bet on at the fights." He shrugs as if it is a meaningless detail. "I did not get a knife at first, I held a dog at bay. They assumed I was going to lose so they attacked each other first. Eventually I got my chance, and a knife. The dog was delicious. The scar is both fang and blade but a reminder to never assume an enemy down if he is not dead." "Damn, dude, that's hardcore. My worst time as a kid was when I broke my arm playing ice hockey." Ryan laughs and shrugs. "Well, guess you won't freak out once the shit hits the fan, eh? Seen it all. Mostly, yeah?" The eyes of dead jade regard Chen with a stare that looks into him, not just at him. "If you panic, you are letting the enemy win. They want you to panic. To make mistakes. It makes it far easier to kill your target if they are afraid. In this matter, I may know more than most on the subject." "But enough about me, I'm not even sure why I am telling you all this. Perhaps it's a novelty of being in a group that does not already know my reputation, not that it matters here. We have to work as a team, I can't have you too afraid of me otherwise our overall ability to survive will be compromised. So tell me of you, Chen. Why are you fighting against these aliens?" "Uh, I actually applied to be an engineer. I was a US Marine, though, so, I guess they figured I'd be better off in the field, and be the guy they hand any new tech to field test it. But hey, they pay us, and this is definitely the cutting edge of tech. When this war is over, I'll have a head up on getting another job in engineering." "Engineering." Zhang goes back to inspecting his machinegun. "War doesn't teach us to build anything, just how to destroy. How much tech have you been able to analyze since they gave you the position? I've heard of some advances from Dr Vahlen and her team but I have not had time to really find out what those are yet." "No idea, I'm not actually in engineering." He chuckles. "But hey, there's MEC Troopers. Cyborg soldiers, dude, how cool is that?" "Cyborg soldiers. I think I heard them referred to as MEC soldiers in passing. Well, that changes everything. Why didn't I see one on the mission where I was picked up? Or why am I not seeing one on the Skyranger with us now?" There's a grimness in his tone. "How much does one have to sacrifice to become one?" "He, uh, got shot up pretty bad in the last mission, but since he's half metal, they could just replace those parts. It looks like they rip off your arms and legs. You get two sets of prosthetics. Regular sized ones that seem to work pretty well for everyday stuff. Then there's the combat ones where you're like two times as tall and tote around a minigun like it's an assault rifle. Oh, and a giant super powerfist that turns aliens into mush." "And this was developed using technology that the aliens already possessed? Then it stands to reason they too have such a soldier that we have not yet seen. But I will be interested in seeing how a MEC works in action and what remains of a man after you remove his arms and legs..." He pauses and smirks slightly as if remembering something. "Well, without the intent to kill him anyway. Still, the experience would be rather traumatic." "With such technology, a soldier so changed could never be anything but a military weapon. There would be no other job for such a person when this war is over. Or at least none that the military would allow. Yet if that's what it takes to win this war, I imagine there are some who would make the sacrifice." "Y'know, I'm pretty sure Arsène got voluntold. But he seems to be taking it okay. But yeah, in the end, we gotta win this thing. Whatever it takes." Operation Demon Mother Shit shit shit, Ryan thought as the rookie ran through an ambush. She got shot up bad, making it behind cover, but wasn't looking good. Ahead of him, some of the sectoids had shifted position, exposing him against the truck. Again, he silently cursed his issued shotgun. If he pulled back, he'd be way too far to make any contribution to the firefight while he repositioned. Fuck. What'd they teach in Marine Combat Training? Assault the ambush, right? He gripped his weapon, ducked his head, and bolted forward, slamming up against the trunk of a burned out car, just ducking a plasma bolt. He heard some machine gun fire from off to his left, and popped his head up to see if they'd taken anything out. He looked straight at a sectoid aiming at him. Oh hell. He tried to twist away and got blasted right in his right shoulder. The agony was unbelievable. "Aagh! I'm hit! Cover me!" Ryan crouched down, gritting his teeth against the pain. The smell of his own seared flesh filled his nostrils. He blinked back tears of pain and looked down at his medkit. On the right side. Of course. When my right arm is useless. He flopped at it uselessly, his right hand unable to grip it. Taking a breath, he straightened up. He let his shotgun hang on its sling and twisted his left arm across his body to grab at the medkit. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw he'd popped back up into view and drew a thin man's attention. The plasma ate clean through his armor and burned through his chest, ribs, and lungs. He stared up at the starry night sky, choking as he felt blood leak into his ruined lungs. Faintly, he heard the shriek of a rocket, followed by a muffled blast. Heh. Guess Zhang figured out who to point his rocket launcher at. Stars seemed to wink out as his vision darkened. ... No light? ... They always said there would be a lig- Legacy of Ryan Chen Stashes of goods hidden around the base. Everything from DVDs, liquor, sat phones, and high quality Belgian chocolate. One cafeteria, signed out and set up for a Chinese food night.