The Third XCOM Saga, part 15, RP Interlude 23

As written by Dan Repperger and Michael Repperger…

By the time Tex arrived, Dan had a stack of paper-written notes ready to go. Ideas have been written out, underlined, crossed-out, added to the margins — all in chaos that at least seemed to make sense to him.

“I think we’ll immediately agree that ammo is the first priority,” he said to his older brother, motioning for him to take a seat. “But it’s also cheap. Marsec’s Hawk interceptors are wildly superior to our Valkyries, but we’d have to sell off both to afford one. All eggs in one basket; I think we’d both agree that’s a bad idea. So let’s cut to the parts worth discussing. I want to build another combat training facility. Our current one is over capacity. Maybe a second containment unit for aliens, same reasoning. Any comment there before I move on to our saucer problem?”

Tex pulled back a chair, sat down, and drew it closer to the desk. “While having only one interceptor would put all of our eggs in one basket, the current ones haven’t actually caught anything. Having one effective interceptor might be better than two ineffective ones. Although we don’t actually know how a battle between a Hawk and a saucer would play out. So we risk buying an interceptor fast enough to get itself shot down…” He let the thought trail off before shifting gears. “I agree that we should expand combat training, especially since I think we’ll likely need to recruit more soldiers, given the cult’s open conflict stretching our manpower.”

The Commander picked up his pen, flipping through his pages of ideas. “Then perhaps we should revisit the saucers with every option on the table. If we sell both Valkyries, we can not only purchase one Hawk, but also outfit it with the best available gear in every subsystem. Alternatively, we can purchase higher performance engines for the existing fighters and hope that alone makes the needed difference. Finally, we can purchase ground vehicles — three Griffon AFVs to be exact — outfit them with anti-air weapons, and put them in around-the-clock interdiction beneath the gates.”

Tex shook his head. “Option 2 may be the worst if the saucer’s put up a tough fight. We risk making the Valkyries fast enough to get themselves in trouble. If a Griffon can actually shoot down a saucer, that would likely be the best choice as we can cover more gates. But if the saucers can evade the Griffons, then a single, maxed-out Hawk might get us at least one shoot-down. Given the alien’s history that would allow us to split our forces into two teams, rather than three to deal with the alien foot soldiers.”

Dan pondered that for a moment. “I can’t argue with your logic. The Griffons will get off their shots, but what would motivate the aliens to hold still long enough to be shot down by a slow-moving tank? And if the Hawk makes the kill then that potentially solves one of our other problems: small squads and the complete lack of troop rotation.”

Tex nodded. “Let’s hope this is the right choice. We’ve never actually seen a saucer in battle. So this is just our best guess.”

Dan made a few notes on his sheet, crossing out some lines and rewriting others. “Alright, I’ll get us a Hawk. That might also help with troop fatigue. If it doesn’t, I think we need to immediately begin hiring at least four to six new soldiers. Better to acclimate them before we need them than after. Though their arms and armor won’t be cheap.

“My next item requires tackling the elephant in the room. This fight with the cult is only beginning. Do you still stand by your suggestion of avoiding attacks on their temples?”

“I think the cult already made my decision for us,” Tex replied. “While we weren’t in open conflict I was willing to risk waiting to focus on the immediate threat of the aliens. But since the cult has openly fired on us, our hand has been forced. I feel a little slimy at the concept of ‘mining’ a human organization, however they could be a source of funding for us if we time attacks on them in such a way that we don’t compromise our ability to deal with the aliens.”

Dan put the pen down, his expression darkening and eyes wandering across the room. “I’ve been thinking about it in terms of human cost. Each run on their organization is a risk. One of us could come back in a body bag. But if we let them gain strength economically and use the invasion to swell their ranks, they’ll eventually bring the fight to us, and we won’t have the advantage of choosing the time and place. Kill them in their own homes and they can’t come for us.”  He then looked to his brother, suddenly focused.  “Tell no one of this, but I intend to organize a raid on one of their temples. We’re going to rob it of resources and burn the building down from the inside. That should dent their war chest a bit, though I know full well it’s nothing shy of a terrorist act. And it leads to my final question.  We’ve been fairly tight with explosives and should remain so when cleaning out reasonable organizations. But Marsec is now selling us their demolition charges and missile launchers. How do you feel about adding them to our armory?

Tex was quick to reply. “If we’re cleaning aliens out of a non-cult, human building, then minimizing collateral damage is a very important, secondary objective. But the primary objective should be eliminating the aliens and bringing out people home safely. I don’t mind expanding our options a little. Although in combat I’d only use them if I felt not using them posed an immediate risk to the outcome of the battle and/or the lives of our people. If we’re planning to cause economic and psychological damage to the cult, then more liberal use of explosives might be appropriate to the mission.”

“Then we’re on the same page,” Dan said, scribbling a few more notes. “I’ll add them to the armory but require special permission for their use. Any further priorities you want to cover?”

“It sounds like for the moment we’re focusing on upgrading the existing base, expanding the number of soldiers, and replacing the interceptors. Am I correct that given our financial constraints, we aren’t making plans for any additional bases; at least in the next month or two? It likely wouldn’t make sense to purchase an additional base if we couldn’t staff and equip it properly. Hopefully the faster interceptor will at least partially make up for our single location.”

“No,” the Commander answered. “Even the empty building would cost twice what we have.”

“Then I think we’ve discussed all of my current concerns. I’m looking forward to having a few new faces around here. Training the rookies might be a pleasant diversion for our veteran soldiers. I’m concerned that the high ops tempo might wear on morale without a constructive outlet.”

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