So here we are—the most highly-trained soldiers Elysium Colony has, with the most advanced gear available—and our highly-trained asses are standing around like props in an advertorial show.
Okay, I can see the point: Civilian morale is important, so we get a colony-wide party for the anniversary. And it'd suck, bigtime, if the Enemy did attack while there's a dense concentration of civvies, so us Rangers are on duty. So it's not a total waste of time and resources. I get it.
But I don't have to like it.
So okay, Connor gave his speech. There was a lot of live applause, so I guess it helped? And us Pals—some of the regular Rangers call us that because we're color-coded, and that makes us a Palette, right? We armored up, on command.
And that was when the godsdamned Enemy deployed their godsdamned spore pods. Four of them. Simultaneously.
I advanced through the crowd as fast as the traffic let me, towards the closest pod. Of course the pods were spraying spores everywhere, so I left a trail of unconscious not-yet-Sporelings behind me. I reached (and took out) the first pod pretty fast, and I'm pretty sure Blue neutralized a second at about the same time. Two down, two more to go.
Too many godsdamned Sporelings! KOing them is the endgame, but it's not the immediate objective—not while a godsdamned pod is making three new Sporelings for every one you take down, it's not. So I jumped for the pod. I figured that way, I'd make better time than if I pushed through the crowd. First jump I overshot, second jump I got the calibration right and I hit the godsdamned thing dead center.
Look, it was a calculated risk. I got the same genetics all the other Pals have, that makes us super-resistant to SRS. And on top of that, I'm wearing the powered armor, okay? Protecting against bio and chemical weapons is one of the reasons that armor exists! So I figured I'd probably be okay—no spore effects—and even if the pod did zap me, I'd take less effect than a civvie would. Anyway, the big brains'd probably get some useful data from the suit's telemetry. And the sooner we fried all the godsdamned pods, the fewer colonists would turn Sporeling. So damn right, I figured it was worth a shot! And, hey, I did take less effect from the spores than a civvie would.
Instead of going full Sporeling on the spot, I grew claws and got itchy.
Sporelings get brainwashed along with the body-shift. Me, too. But just like the body-shift came on slow, so did the brainwashing. My mind got more and more fuzzy, and I really don't have a lot of clear memories of what I did while I was under the influence.
I've seen video. Don't like to think that that birdman in what's left of a purple uniform was me, but… Apparently, I got more and more violent, and eventually I somehow took command of a flock of other birdified Sporelings, and I led the flock straight to CDF HQ.
Hell if I know what I was thinking.
I'm told I absorbed 20-odd stun shots before I went down. Woke up in one of the high-security rooms in the infirmary.