The Second XCOM Saga, part 50
by Dan Repperger

November 21st, 2017…

  • An alien supply barge is spotted departing the temple ship.  We don’t care where it’s headed or what it’s carrying, so long as it hits the ground hard.
  • A Firestorm is scrambled and proves more than a match for the alien cargo ship.
  • As Dan tries to think through the right team for this mission, he can’t help but notice the folder of transhuman requests still sitting on his desk.  If this is the future of XCOM, then we have to learn what it looks like on the field.  We don’t have any gene-modified units yet, but we’ve got everything else.
  • Dan calls Ryan to C3.  The team has been selected for him, but it’s his to command.  Annette, Kite, Chris Hussey, and both SHIVs.  That gives him a psychic, two MECs, and two robots to work with.  Krenzke has volunteered to be the nominal ground commander and also the only normal human on the field.
  • When handing over the C3 headset, Dan makes no pretense about it: this is a field test of a new form of combined arms warfare that we’ve been avoiding up to this point.
  • Dr. Shen has been working on the ARC throwers over the past few months, and has modified them to be capable of not just stunning aliens, but also repairing the SHIV and MEC units.  Annette and Krenzke will both be carrying one.
  • Dan gives one final note to Ryan, which is that he may consider the SHIVs disposable when compared to any other unit type.  He then sits in a nearby chair to observe the exercise.
  • Once loaded, the Sky Ranger departs for Brazil.  It lands in the rain forest at night.  Why do we always make these runs at night?
  • The troops are deployed directly in front of the main loading ramp of the alien ship.  Ryan sends the two SHIVs forward to take the first look, forming up the other units in a line behind them.  Krenzke will be paired with Kite, and Hussey will be paired with Annette.
  • L1 picks up a Meld canister just inside the ship.
  • The team moves through the cavernous, forward bay unopposed.  Chris notes an aural contact, but it’s coming from deeper in the ship, behind raised energy fields.
  • There are three exits from the room.  Before anyone can muddle out how to handle them, three bugs race into the room.  Fortunately, they move on the closest targets, which happen to be the toxin-immune SHIVs.
  • Annette tries to flay the mind of one of the bugs, but finds no purchase in its psyche.  The creature is so simple that it’s difficult to strike with psychic powers.
  • Hussey and Kite converge fire on the closest bug, incinerating it.  Kite follows up with a grenade, injuring its two allies.
  • The surviving bugs swarm around L1, but they simply weren’t bred for this kind of warfare, and their claws do little to its armor.
  • As L2 locks down a Meld canister, L1 obliterates one of the bugs.  Hussey locks onto the second and puts a particle beam through its torso.
  • Still facing a room with three exist into the next chamber, Ryan elects to have the SHIVs form on the middle door, with the two side squads roughly near the left and right doors.  The SHIVs will move through first, and based on what they see, the flaanking teams can either move toward the middle, run along the sides, or pull back to the prior chamber.
  • L1 begins fabricating new armor to fill in the gaps left by the bugs.  Ryan gives Dan an odd look.  “Yeah, that’s a thing,” the commander says sheepishly.  “Dr. Shen built it a while back.  I probably paid for it.  The file is in my desk somewhere.  I don’t recall the project name.”
  • The SHIVs move into the next chamber.  A long, narrow hallway runs down the middle of the ship with cargo nooks lining the sides.  Walkways run along the exterior of the ship.  Going down the middle means leaving the troops open to ambush from the ledges, but going down the ledges means potentially leaving one of the flanking teams on its own.
  • Before Ryan has to make that call, three hulks rush from one of the ledges and into the middle of the room.  The watchful SHIVs soften them up a bit but don’t drop any in the initial exchange.
  • Through holes in the wall left by the firefight with the bugs, Hussey and Annette are able to see the targets.
  • The MEC slays one hulk in a flash of energy.
  • Determined to master her psychic powers — and for the right side this time — Annette focuses her thoughts on another hulk, leaving it on the ground with a hemorrhaging brain.
  • With the last hulk hiding beneath a platform, the SHIVs have no lock on it anymore.  However, Kite is able to step just through the right-side door and kill it with a shot to the back.
  • Looking over the layout of the craft, Ryan makes the tough call.  The group will move down the center.  The flanks are simply too far apart and would leave the fire teams isolated if something went horribly wrong.  So instead, the SHIVs will lead the way, and the two fire teams will trail behind them, keeping what cover they can and always watching the sides.
  • No sooner than the team starts to slip through the cargo hold, a prophet and its two elite guards come into view.  Dan rolls his chair up to a console, rewinding the helmet cams to confirm what he saw.  “Why aren’t they in the flight room?” he ponders to no one in particular.
  • There’s no perfect position from which to conduct this fight, so the teams will have to improvise.  Ryan starts by ordering the SHIVs to lock down where they are and keep the center aisle hot.
  • The prophet floats forward.  Seeing only SHIVs, it has nothing to attack with its vast, psychic arsenal.  A bony arm reaches from beneath its robes, pointing at L2 as the creature speaks in its native tongue.  This seems to imply their constant chatter is internal communication and not meant for our benefit.
  • Being under no threat of psychic attack, the SHIVs advance and hook into the next set of bays, putting them on either side of the prophet.  They tear into its body with focused energy.  Hussey is able to take a single step forward and drop a grenade at its feet, burying the creature.
  • The two elites fall back into a cargo bay on the left.  They both open fire on L2, but neither hits.
  • L2 retaliates and kills one of its attackers.  L1 moves up and into a clear line-of-fire, but its shots fail to connect.
  • The SHIVs are a bit exposed, but Ryan keeps the other units moving slowly.  There’s only one elite left in the area, and no one will weep over a wrecked SHIV, anyway.
  • Even under a slow advance, Kite manages to catch a glimpse of the elite.  She’s locks on, fires, and exterminates the alien.
  • As the SHIVs continue leading the advance, L1 spots the other Meld canister and stabilizes it.
  • By the time L1 and L2 reach the far end of the cargo bay with the rest of the team a short distance behind, the mid-section of the craft buckles from the damage it sustained both during impact and the more recent firefight.  Fortunately, no one is hit by the debris.
  • An energy elevator leads up and onto a terrace surrounding the flight room.  Two grays and a smith are standing guard.
  • Kite fires two shots at the smith.  The first strikes home with devastating effect, but the second shot misses the mark.
  • As the SHIVs hold guard up front and the MECs hold the near flanks, Annette and Krenzke are able to move up a bit, keeping cover, but looking for an easy target.
  • Fortunately, the smith makes a mistake.  It tries to align for a shot on Hussey, but our MEC is faster on the draw, burning the alien cyborg down before it can fire.
  • As the team maneuvers for better positions, we can hear the grays — and possibly other targets — moving around the terrace above.
  • The SHIVs go up first.  L1 immediately spots and drops one gray, but the other is unaccounted for.
  • As the rest of the team moves up, prepping to breach the flight room, the SHIVs are sent to run a circuit around the terrace in search of any stragglers.
  • The SHIVs spot side doors, meaning the entire team can swarm the the command center from three directions.  However, L1 also spots the gray and drops it.  By the time the group enters the command room, they find it empty.
  • 12 xenos dead, 0 XCOM losses, and no team injuries, though L2 will spend a day in the shop.

Comments (1)

mkbJanuary 15th, 2014 at 1:51 pm

It seems that moving away from humanity makes tactical sense…

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