Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Central Officer John Bradford dropped his head into his hands as the door closed behind him. These interviews were exhausting, emotionally, and the hours weren't helping. He didn't think he'd managed to sleep more than a few hours since they'd managed to wipe out the attackers, and reclaim the HQ.

The worst part, the part the Commander had confided was also keeping him up nights, was the implications of the whole thing. The X-Rays knew where XCOM HQ was; maybe they'd always known. With the seemingly inexhaustible forces they were able to put on the ground, they'd launched a token offensive that had still managed to take them off guard and result in multiple casualties. The X-Rays could probably wipe out XCOM any time, but hadn't. That was the thought that woke him multiple times a night drenched in cold sweat. Why? What was their purpose in holding back?

There came a knock at the door, and Bradford took several moments to compose himself before he spoke.

"Enter," he said, raising his voice to be heard through the door. The analyst who came through the door was one of the ones he'd been dreading; He knew that today, the last day of interviews, had been stacked with painful interviewees. The man had a bruise on his face, and refused to meet Bradford's eyes. The last time Bradford had seen him, he'd noted the manic, violet glow, and had put the man down hard.

"Intelligence Officer Pidgeon, reporting as directed, Sir," the man said, standing stiffly before the table, until Bradford gestured at the seat.

"Sit down, David," he said. "This won't take too long."

"Sir," replied the analyst, sitting down, still as stiff as ever, and looking everywhere but Bradford's face.

"I want you to tell me everything you remember about the attack," he said, lifting a recording device to indicate that the interview was being recorded. "Start at the beginning, go slow."

"Sir," the analyst said again, stalling a moment while his gaze turned inward, remembering. His face scrunched in pain, but then he took a deep, slow breath, and began speaking. "I remember my screen flickering, several times. I leaned over to... Anderson, I think? To look at their terminal, see if they were having problems too. Then the hologlobe got all flickery, and..." The man trailed off, his eyes flickering up to the bruising on Bradford's temple for a second.

"Go on," Bradford replied, knowing full well what Pidgeon was remembering.

"Then... things got weird." The Australian swallowed heavily. "I heard a voice telling me to grab the fire extinguisher. It seemed important, so I did. I knew what I had to do. You-" another swallow, followed by a nearly inaudible gasp, "you needed to be stopped. So, I hit you, and you went down, but you weren't out. I came in again, but you were quick enough to stop me." The man let out a sudden, barely human sound, and squeezed his eyes shut, until tears leaked from the corners.

"It's alright, David. It happened, and it's over, but I need you to continue." Bradford didn't feel the calm he heard in his own voice. He felt the adrenaline spiking, and his jaw ached from the effort of not clenching it.

"Sir, I'm sorry," Pidgeon replied, wiping at his face, and visibly taking control of himself again. "You pushed me away, and got the gun. I was trying to get up, to stop you, but you put the gun to my head. You... said something? I don't know what you said. It was like gibberish. It- it scared me."

"You couldn't understand what I said?" Bradford nodded as he asked, as it confirmed the stories of others who'd been controlled.

"No sir," it was just garbled noise," he grinned suddenly, mirthlessly. "I recall thinking that the accent was American, though." The smile faded, replaced by the same thousand-yard stare he'd been wearing the whole time. "Then you hit me with the gun, and that's all I remember until I woke up later, in the brig."

"That's all?" Bradford waited, and when the analyst nodded, he nodded in return. "Thank you, Intelligence Officer. That's all I need from you, for now." When the man got up and moved toward the door, Bradford spoke up suddenly, surprising himself. "It wasn't your fault," he said. "I don't blame you. It was them, not you, who attacked me."

"Yes, Sir," replied the other man listlessly. His tone gave no doubts that he didn't believe the reassurances. "Thank you, Sir." Then the door closed, leaving Bradford with his thoughts again.

He suddenly remembered that IO Pidgeon had been a friend of SSG Parsons; They'd been countrymen, and had become friends shortly after the project started. He thought it likely that IO Pidgeon was carrying the guilt of that, as well. He made a note on the tablet before him to pass that on to medical.

Another knock on the door signaled another interviewee. He indicated that they should enter, and SFC Leigh Fahey walked in. He looked at her for a moment, studying her features. She looked tired, but did not allow any sign of what she was feeling show on her face. When he indicated she should sit, she slumped into the chair.

"Sergeant First Class Fahey," he said, "I'd first like to offer my thanks, and those of the Commander, for the excellent service you rendered during the attack." She nodded, her body language showing discomfort at the praise, the first emotional response she'd shown. When she didn't speak, he continued. "I'd like you to tell me what you remember from the attack."

She delivered a crisp, accurate narrative, from her arrival in Delta section with some of the base defense personnel until they'd finally declared the All-Clear. Only briefly when she described de Matos' death did her voice break for even a moment.

"Staff Sergeant de Matos was a friend of yours, wasn't she?" Bradford asked quietly.

"Yes, Sir." The brief flash of emotion from earlier was well hidden this time. This time, he was the one to sit quietly, and she was the one to finally break silence. "She was a friend, and a damned good medic, Sir. Didn't know the others that well, though, the Lieutenant, and Parsons. The security personnel who came in with me, Liles and Walters seemed like good troops. Obeyed orders." Her litany finally stopped, and she looked around the room, her posture speaking frustration. "Do you need anything else, Sir?"

"Unless you've remembered anything else to add to your report, that will be all, Sergeant." Immediately, Fahey got up and moved to the door. When she opened the door she suddenly stopped and he heard a sharply indrawn breath. Bradford jerked his head over his shoulder, his instincts keyed, but he only saw the next interviewee waiting, and it was she that had made Fahey stop in her tracks. Sergeant First Class Lieselotte Faber barely looked like the confident young woman Bradford had frequently seen around HQ. She stepped aside wordlessly and let SFC Fahey exit, then glanced in at him. Bradford stifled a sigh and nodded to her unspoken question, gesturing her to sit immediately.

"Sergeant Faber," he began as soon as she sat down listlessly. He was ready to launch into the now rote interview, but instead, he clicked the recording device off, and asked a different question. "How are you doing?"

"Sir?" she blinked and her eyes focused on his. He could see that they were red, and he had no doubt she'd been crying recently. "I am fit for combat, Sir." There was an edge to her answer, challenging him to disagree with her.

"That's not what I'm asking," he replied gently. "How are you doing? I know that Sergeant de Matos was important to you."


"Sorry, that Monica was important to you," he corrected.

"I will survive," she replied, her tone studiously devoid of emotion. "I will keep fighting, keep killing those bastards." The German woman looked up, meeting his eyes for the first time. "For her." her voice broke on those last words, and she dropped her eyes again, but not before he could see the sheen of fresh tears.

Bradford made a decision then, one he hoped he would not regret. He scribbled a note on the tablet "SFC Faber - Recommend immediate return to duty status." He looked up at her, and nodded, once. "I'll see to it you get your chance to do that."

"Thank you, Sir," she replied, real gratitude warring with the grief and anger in her voice. Bradford nodded again, and clicked the recording device back on. "Sergeant First Class Faber, I'd like you to tell me everything you remember about the attack. Start at the beginning, go slowly, try to remember it all."

It was a rough interview, but they got through it, even though she was shaking by the end. When the door opened, he saw SFC Fahey and SFC Colman standing outside, and they immediately took the German sniper into their arms as the door closed.

Was it all worth it? Bradford wondered. With the X-Rays launching such an attack, there was no way of knowing if they could even be beaten. Was the loss of loved ones, friends, teammates worth it? He sighed and rubbed his temples as the ever-present headache of the last several days began to throb in earnest; not even half-way through the interviews for the day. The only way to know the value of what they did would be to finish it, one way or the other. It would be the worst sort of insult to the many men and women who'd given their lives before now to do anything less.

The knock on the door signaled another interview, and Bradford squared his shoulders. There was work to be done, and there was no one else to do it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016



PREPARED BY: CPT Jared Houston


o Enemy Forces:
 - 5x Mutons, 5x Floaters, armed with plasma rifles and grenades

o Friendly Forces
 - LT Jared "Mercury" Houston (United States)
 - SFC Constance "Deadbolt" Makhandule (South Africa)
 - SGT Jermaine "Da Pain" Glynn (United States)
 - SGT Beatrice "Preacher" Rydberg (Sweden)
 - CPL Qutuz "Bad Hand" Safar (United Arab Emirates)
 - CPL Viktor "Dragon" Lehmann (Germany)
 - CPL Rhys "Blizzard" Waddell (Canada)
 - SPC Glenn "Freaky" Friendly (United Nations)


o Strike Team deploys to Dao Paolo, Brazil, 12 SEP 2016 @ 1603 hrs, IOT disrupt Abduction Operations.


The Mission Alert came in at 1434 hrs. The Skyranger was wheels up by 1450, with boots down by 1603 hrs. As soon as we were on the ground, I sent Waddell up to get a look into the graveyard. Immediately he called contact with a squad of Mutons moving to engage. Preacher, Glynn and I all opened fire, while SPC Friendly moved to cover and tossed a plasma grenade into their midst, and SFC Mak launched a rocket. The rest of the squad advanced, firing, and the surviving pair of Mutons withdrew into the darkness.

Advancing under cover, Waddell spotted a pod of Floaters which attempted to swarm us; I managed to kill one, with Safar using his psionic abilities to disorient another, which slowed their advance; Meanwhile, Waddell managed to eliminate one of the Mutons who'd withdrawn earlier. The Floaters continued to aggress, Friendly winged one just as it shot me, burning through my armor.

Waddell and Lehmann advanced, drawing fire and managing to severely damage one of the Floaters. Meanwhile Glynn, still in the backfield, blew the head off one of the bastards on the right flank. Under the cover of fire, Deadbolt did what she does best, putting a Shredder rocket into the heart of the Floater cluster, killing one. Preacher and Friendly followed up, with Rydberg killing one of the Floaters, and Friendly crippling the last remaining Muton. 

Cowed, the surviving X-Rays did not advance; The Floater dropped down behind a tombstone, and the firing blindly at Waddell's position. Waddell ran forward, screaming wildly as the plasma burst all around him, then drew his laser pistol and executed the dying Muton. While the Floater was tracking Waddell, Lehmann darted forward for a flank and blew the Floater to pieces. 

We finished crossing the graveyard, but met with no further resistance. It was a surprisingly light mission, all things considered; It is my recommendation that we brace ourselves for heavier resistance in the future.


o Sustain:
 - Synergistic fires and maneuvers
 - Maintaining tactical momentum

o Improve:
 - Explosive firing discipline
 - Distribute medkits throughout the squad

Tuesday, November 17, 2015





o Enemy Forces:
 - 3x Thin Men, 8x Chryssalids, 3x Seekers, 2x Zombies

o Friendly Forces
 - SFC Leigh "B.A.M.F." Fahey (United States)
 - SSG Monica "Azrial" de Matos (Brazil)
 - SSG Lieselotte "Maschine" Faber (Germany)
 - SSG Rainhard "Ogre" Horn (Austria)
 - SSG Sylas "Fawkes" Maillet (Canada)
 - SSG Peter "The General" Van Doorn (United Nations)
 - SGT Ward "Shroud" Parsons (Australia)
 - SGT Simone "Tomahawk" Ribeiro (Brazil)


o Strike Team deploys to Montreal, Canada, 27 AUG 2016 @ 1558 hrs, IOT halt a Terror Mission in progress. 


The Mission Alert came in at 1520 hrs. The Skyranger was wheels up by 1536, with boots down by 1558 hrs. As we approached the AO, I sent SGT Parsons ahead to get a better look, and he spotted three Thinnies moving to cover. Liesel provided overwatch, taking one of the Thinnies down with a headshot. Az moved to cover, then immediately reported contact, as a pod of Lids came charging up. Horn was ready though, and leveled 'em with a rocket, and Fawkes followed up with an AP 'nade to finish them off. The General cut loose on one of the Thinnies, but didn't manage to kill it, leaving it to Tomahawk, covering my six as I advanced, to put it down for the count. With most of the X-Rays down, I moved up to the first civilian and sent him packing toward the Skyranger.

The last Thinny hightailed it, but we didn't get a break, as another pair of 'Lids ran into sight, backed by a zombie. Az managed to wing the first Lid, send it staggering into my line of fire, where it went down hard. I heard another blaze from Maschine's snipe, and then she reported the walker was down. I was focused on the second 'Lid as it approached. I waited until I could see the slaver glistening on it's mandibles before I blew it's head clean off, then waved another nearby civilian to run for it.

In the brief respite that followed, I ordered everyone to advance, double-time. The slower we moved, the more civilians died, which we could clearly hear them doing. I took point, bursting into the store, and taking cover by the bookshelves, just as a pod of Chryssalids came careering toward me. I shot the lead monster point-blank as I backpedaled, yelling for backup. It kept coming, even after Parsons nailed it with a solid shot through the window, though it was obviously hurting. Just before it leapt at me, Horn managed to put it down with a third hit. As I got to cover, Monica winged the second 'Lid, and Fawkes tossed another AP grenade into their faces; Both were briefly stunned, but they kept moving. To make matters worse, I heard Tomahawk yelling about Seekers on our flank.

The General decided to make himself useful, and eliminated two of the Seekers. Meanwhile, the 'Lids decided to go after softer targets, one fleeing back inside the building, the other going after a civilian, just as the surviving Seeker went into stealth mode. Fawkes managed to slag the one Lid before it could reach the civilian, but the other was out of sight inside the building. Az ducked inside for a quick look, but didn't see it before I ordered her back out.

We needed to regroup, so I had everyone find cover, and check their weapons; Fortunately, as the Cryssalids burst out of the side of the building, and Tomahawk cut it down; A zombie, presumably a recent victim, followed immediately after, but The General blasted it off of its feet. When it tried to rise again, Az finished it off, and I moved toward the cowering civilian that had been the target of the recently dead 'Lids, and Shroud reported that he was taking to the rooftop for a better look. Everyone else regrouped and kept an eye out for the Seeker. When it finally appeared, trying to grab Maschine, it went down in a hail of laser fire. 

Based on SGT Parsons' motion-sensor report, we swept out to envelop the back room of the building. I ducked into the building, only to find a Thinny raising its weapon; I dodged through the doorway before it could fire, nearly crashed into a civilian, and swatted him out of the way, telling him to run. Everyone else came running on my report, while that coward-ass X-Ray decided to murder another unarmed civilian rather than coming out to play. Luckily, Van Doorn managed to get a good angle, and lit that fucker up before it could get back into cover.

We moved through the rest of the building, clearing all of the remaining civilians, and finding no more hostiles. We dropped the civilians off near a refugee camp that was forming outside of Montreal, and returned to base.


o Sustain: 
 - Aggressive advancement saved lives
 - Judicious use of explosives and cross-fire

o Improve:
 - More use of the motion sensors
 - Better awareness of our flanks

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Familiar Path (24 AUG 2016)

SFC Leigh Fahey paced quietly down the corridor. She was looking for SGT Glynn, whom she'd been asked to find by CPT Lindemann. When she'd checked his bunk area and found him gone, SGT Parsons had said he'd seen Glynn and Zhu headed toward Mission Command. Her steps took her into the armory, and she felt her pace quicken as the familiar path played on her memory, reminding her of the many times she'd pounded in here, scrambling to get her gear on for a mission. She paused a moment, glancing around at the orderly rows of rifles, the crates filled with neatly packaged grenades and other devices.

She drifted to the ready rack, where the precious few laser weapons and sets of phalanx armor were laid out; she traced a finger lovingly along the bulky shape of the scatter laser that she'd carried several times already, then spent a few moments looking at the various sets of phalanx, seeing the slight irregularities where the engineers had repaired plasma burns; Each set of armor told a different story, but in amalgam, it was a story of pain, injury and triumph. With a sigh laden with meaning that is only comprehensible to those who have felt the exhilaration and terror of being in combat, she turned away from the racks of equipment, and left the armory behind.

Mission Control was a very different place. Where the armory was all orderly gleaming gunmetal and stillness, the nerve center of XCOM was chaos barely held in check, with a low hum of constant talk as the many technicians communicated with outlying stations, reconnaissance elements, and the various Council Nations. Dominating the room physically was the hologlobe, showing near-real-time intel from all over the globe, integrating the multiple flows of information from the workstations all around into a single cohesive picture which the Commander and Bradford used to coordinate XCOM's efforts.

As if thinking of him summoned him, she saw Bradford move out of the shadows on the catwalk overlooking Mission Control. He appeared to be coming from the Situation Room; The Commander probably had a tele-meeting with the shadowy Council head. Bradford leaned on the railing, looking down at the hologlobe and the busy technicians below. Leigh, in turn, looked up at him. She'd only spoken to him a few times, during debriefs, but his demeanor never wavered. Stiff, formal, professional. It sometimes seemed that XCOM ran on his willpower alone. Bradford's eyes shifted, and she realized he was looking directly back at her, and she jumped slightly. She raised her right hand toward her brow in a casual half salute, and Bradford acknowledged it with a nod before turning his eyes back to the hologlobe.

Leigh stepped off again, letting her feet carry her along the well-known route to the Hangar, as she still hadn't seen Glynn. She had a hunch that he might be in there; Many of the troopers liked to hang out in the Hangar when they were doing maintenance on the bay doors, as it was the only time other than missions that any of them saw sky. Sure enough, she could smell the distinct aroma of fresh air, so different from the machine smells of oil and smoke, and the ever-present scent of moist granite. As she entered the Hangar, Leigh turned her gaze upward involuntarily, to where she could see a few stars winking through the lowering twilight, barely silhouetting the tiny shapes of mechanics working on the door mechanism.

"Sergeant Fahey," she heard, and dropped her eyes to find SSG Zhu raising a hand in greeting, with Glynn sitting next to him, with the single S.C.O.P.E. held to his eye as he gazed upward. She walked the short distance to the stack of crates they were seated on, and waited a moment until Glynn turned his attention to her.

"SGT Glynn," she began, "CPT Lindemann would like you to drop by his room this evening, when you've some time. He wanted to get your take on something from the bridge."

"No problem," Glynn said. "I'll swing by there in a few." He passed the S.C.O.P.E. over to Zhu who also put it to his eye and turned it upward. "What do you think?" he asked after a few moments.

"What are you doing?" Leigh asked, looking upward to try to discern what they were looking at.

"We're checking out some new tweaks to the S.C.O.P.E." Glynn explained. "Engineering's working on some new features, and they asked us to give our input."

Zhu dropped the device to his lap, and nodded. "I agree," he said shortly. "the calibration is a little off. Also, did you notice that the overlay tried to give him a third arm? It was actually a wrench on his belt."

Glynn burst out laughing. "I guess the computer is trying to extrapolate for new breeds of X-Ray?" he speculated. He glanced at SFC Fahey, then reached out and grabbed the S.C.O.P.E. and offered it to her. "Take a look."

Leigh took the device, and held it to her eye, raising it up. The auto-focus hesitated for a moment, then suddenly the lip of the bay doors came into sharp focus, and she could see the workers moving around. As she watched, the light level raised gradually. "Place the center reticle over one of the workers," she heard Zhu prompt, so she did so. Within a couple seconds, the man was overlaid with an outline, and data appeared on the edge of her view, designating him as human and giving his distance; There was also appeared two dots, one over his head, another over his heart. She let out a slow, appreciative whistle.

"That's pretty impressive," she said. Wouldn't be much help for a shotgunner like me, but I can see how that'd help you make some deadly shots."

Yeah, they're working on integrating features to help line up on more critical zones on our targets. They've been making some big improvements in the Foundry." Glynn grinned wolfishly, and Leigh returned it with one of her own.

"I'll write up our observations, then send it to you for review," Zhu said as he accepted the S.C.O.P.E. back from Fahey. "I think our time here is done anyway." As he spoke, muted klaxons sounded, and the bay doors began to swing closed.

"I guess so," Glynn agreed, sliding off of the crate. "I think I'll go see what the Captain wants," he said. "You coming back to the barracks, Sergeant, or are you going to stay here?"

"I'll come," she replied with a last glance at the sky, just as the bay doors cut it off. "I'll walk with you. I wanted to talk to CPT Lindemann again anyway."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015



PREPARED BY: LT Jared Houston


o Enemy Forces:
 - 1x "Berzerk Muton Thing", 1x Muton, 6x Floaters, 4x Drones, 2x Outsiders

o Friendly Forces
 - LT Jared "Mercury" Houston (United States)
 - SFC Jade "Mineral" Colman (United Kingdom)
 - SGT Svetlana "Eclipse" Petukhova (Russia)
 - SGT Lara "Athena" Jordan (Australia)
 - SGT Clarisse "Interrogator" Poncelet (Belgium)
 - CPL Kelly "Luna" Meirelles (Brazil)
 - CPL Osazenomwan "Mental" Olufunke (Nigeria)
 - CPL Al Safi "Stretch" Ahmadi (Egypt)


o Strike Team deploys to Boston, Massachusetts, 23 AUG 2016 @ 1547 hrs, IOT exploit a splashed UFO.


The Mission Alert came in at 1520 hrs. The Skyranger was wheels up by 1539, with boots down by 1547 hrs. Big Sky had dropped us closer than expected; No sooner than we'd pushed through the underbrush, but the UFO was before us. I ordered CPL Ahmadi to stretch his legs, and take a look around the aft of the UFO; Before he'd gone any sort of distance, a pod of Drones appeared, several of them taking shots before he could duck behind a stout tree. Eclipse had been tracking him with her scope, so it took her no time to refocus on the drones, and take one of them down. The rest of the squad cut loose, with SFC Colman and Poncelet registering kills. The remaining Drones zipped forward, with Athena and I managing to damage it, before Interrogator darted forward and took a close-range shot to finish it off.

With that initial engagement done, I order the squad to find cover before we advanced again, especially considering the likelihood that the Drones had signaled for reinforcements. Unfortunately a pair of Mutons and a pair of Floaters came around on our flank from the fore of the ship. The larger of the two mutons was different than anything we'd seen before. First, it was MUCH larger than its companion, and red; It also did not appear to be carrying a weapon. While the other muton and the Floaters took some sort of cover, this beast came charging directly at us, fast. Ahmadi took a shot at it, but misjudged its speed.

We repositioned and started taking shots at the monster, but it kept coming, despite several solid hits. Only the fact that it seemed intent on charging whoever shot it kept it from reaching me in no time at all. It was terrifying to see the juggernaut shrugging off laser fire, and I heard someone whimpering behind me; At the moment, I was only glad it wasn't me. Finally, as it closed on Luna, its monstrous paws reaching to tear her apart, she shoved her scatter las into its chest and fired; Finally, the beast succumbed. 

Eclipse reported that she never had a clear shot at the beast, so she focused on the others; I was too distracted to notice, but she reported a Floater down once we'd finally taken down the berzerker. Luckily, the remaining X-Rays didn't feel like engaging after we'd taken their monster down, so they withdrew and we had time to reload and regroup. As we prepared to advance, the other Muton darted out, apparently trying to surprise us, and was cut down by combined fire from myself and Jordan. 

As Ahmadi was in the back of the formation after our re-direction, Luna took point. As we neared the fore, several Floaters darted in, just at the edge of sight; Jordan and Petukhova managed to take one down, but the others remained out of range, taking potshots at CPL Meirelles. While they focused on her, Interrogator darted forward and took a shot, taking one more of the ugly bastards down. The other cowards had had enough, and withdrew again. I didn't allow myself to get overeager, and ordered the squad forward carefully. Meanwhile, Luna talked Eclipse onto the only visible target, which then quickly died.

Once in position, Mineral made short work of the only other Floater in range, and we moved forward again, until finally Ahmadi spotted and engaged the last Floater as it attempted to flee toward the far side of the UFO. It didn't make it. At this point, I was tired of chasing X-Rays that didn't want to fight, and re-directed again, into the UFO. It was time to take down the Outsiders I knew would be waiting inside. An earlier motion scan had given us their rough position, so we moved in through the deflector shields to engage. 

Once we were in position, Athena dissolved the door, and Luna darted in, just in time to see both Outsiders waiting for her. As she reversed course, dodging for cover, I order Olu to blow the wall. Before the smoke had even cleared, Mineral laid down a blazing wall of laser fire, covering Poncelet's advance with an HE grenade to further destroy any cover they may have left. As soon as I could see, I took two quick, targeted shots, one at each Outsider, hoping to wound them enough to try for another capture, but Interrogator's grenade had worked too well, and both of them went down.

Surprisingly, though we waited for reinforcements, and then did a sweep of the perimeter, there was no further resistance; Either this was a skeleton crew, or many of them had been killed when the craft crashed down.


o Sustain: 
 - Explosives shape the battlefield to our advantage
 - Preparation leads to smooth execution

o Improve:
 - Don't make assumptions about X-Ray locations
 - Never assume we've seen everything

Friday, November 6, 2015

Passing Time (22 AUG 2016)

The barracks were nearly empty. Most of the troopers were down in the common room, or the gym, but here and there someone laid on their bunk reading a book, or with a laptop propped up, casting pale light onto their faces. While there weren't many people, that didn't mean the barracks were quiet. Laughter and conversation rang out from the back corner, where the overhead lights were still on, illuminating four women. On one bunk, SSG Monica de Matos sat, leaning back against the wall with another woman's head in her lap. The reclining woman, Lieselotte Faber, was writing a letter and not taking part in the conversation, though she smiled occasionally at the banter that was going on.

Another woman sat backward in a chair that had been pulled up to the bunk, her legs straddling the seat, and her forearms crossed on the back. Recently promoted SFC Leigh Fahey was a boisterous, loud woman who had a joke and a smile for nearly everyone. On a nearby table, SFC Jade Colman had a cloth spread out, with several rocks and tools laid out on top. At the moment she was examining a promising specimen, looking for the best place to strike to break it open with her rock hammer.

"Heard your last mission was an interesting one," Jade said, never taking her eyes off the stone in her hand, turning it left and right slowly.

"Oh man," Leigh said with an exaggerated eye-roll. "this Van Doorn character." de Matos chuckled as well, absently stroking Liesel's hair.

"Get down here!" she said, affecting a deeper voice, which sounded oddly charming with her Brazilian accent. "Can't let me have all the fun!" Colman glanced at her and laughed.

"Rumor says he's going to be joining us, along with his attache," she said.

"Yeah," Fahey replied. "I checked the roster this morning, after hearing about that. Must be weird for 'The General' to not be in a command position, but they are giving him a field 'promotion' to Staff Sergeant." Her wry expression and air-quotes made it clear how she felt about that decision.

"It was a strange mission overall," Monica added. "The Council intel made it sound like we'd be stepping into an absolute warzone, and the devastation on the bridge was pretty bad, but the resistance wasn't anything, really." She patted her hip, where she normally carried her medpak. "I never even had to open my kit."

"Seriously," Leigh agreed. "We had to chase that last Thin Mint clear to the end of the bridge. It was like they weren't even trying to put up a fight. Why bother blowing the bridge if they weren't going to commit?"

"Who knows why the X-Rays do anything?" Jade asked rhetorically. "Still, I wish we could have been there with you girls." Liesel looked up from her letter briefly, nodding in agreement. "But I get with the Captain just getting his RTD Orders from medical, Command was eager to get him back in the field." Monica nodded; She'd served with him for half of her missions, and she held a great deal of respect for CPT Lindemann. Leigh shrugged; She'd rather have had Jade along, but it was Command's call, not hers.

The conversation lapsed for a few minutes, the quiet broken only by the nearly silent scratching of Faber's pen on the notepad, until Colman took up her hammer, and struck the stone firmly, resulting in a sharp crack as the stone broke cleanly in half. Leigh half-rose to get a look.

"Whatcha get?" she asked, leaning to catch a glimpse around the other woman's shoulder. Jade turned around, presenting her prize with a satisfied grin.

"Amethyst geode," she declared. "A good find." When Fahey held out her hand, Colman passed the stone over, smiling as the American woman held it up to the light, the crystals casting back tiny sparkles that played across the other woman's dark skin.

"Nice," Leigh agreed, reaching out to pass it back. "Amethyst is my birth stone."

"Keep it, then," Jade offered. "I've still got the other half."

"Really?" Fahey's brows lifted in surprise.

"Absolutely," the British woman smiled, suppressing a pang as she remembered the last time she'd given away one of her stones. She wasn't going to let sad memories stop her from sharing her love of stones, though. Leigh's eyes widened further as she saw the play of emotion across Jade's face. Her friend seemed oblivious to her scrutiny, so she said nothing, merely folding her hands around the stone.

"Thank you," she added after a moment, which earned a smile from Colman.

Monica, who had been there when CPL Huismann died, knew a little of what Jade was feeling. She looked down at Liesel who was so focused on her letter that she was actually biting the tip of her tongue absently. She didn't know what she'd do if anything were to happen to Liesel. She looked up then, at Leigh, Colman, and to where she saw someone across the barracks, faintly illuminated by a laptop screen, she thought it might have been SGT Parsons.

"Where would you be," she began, then paused to formulate her thoughts. "Where would we all be if not for this war?" Colman and Fahey looked at her, but didn't say anything, realizing that she wasn't quite done speaking, despite the question. "I would probably be in Manaus, doing some training Op for some cadets or something." She looked at each of them again in turn, meeting their eyes. "I wouldn't know any of you."

"You saying this war was a good thing?" Leigh asked, a certain mischief sparkling in her dark eyes.

"Not at all," Monica answered seriously, not catching the joking nature of the question. "But good ha come of it, I think. Look at the technological advancements we're making, that one day we'll be able to share with the world. Look at us, close friends from different countries, different parts of the world." Liesel looked up at her with a soft smile that was mostly in the eyes, and Monica stopped talking, meeting her gaze.

"I agree," Jade added. "I think that the human race will come out of this stronger and more unified than we ever were."

"I certainly hope so," Leigh said with a sigh. "We've got a lot to make up for. I certainly hope that this is a start." After several moments of silence, she shook herself. "Aren't we a bunch of Serious Susans? Hey, Liesel, you almost done with that letter? Let's go hit the common room and play some pool, first round of near-beer is on me."

The others quickly agreed. The gravity of the moment was seemingly forgotten as the four women made their way out of the barracks, chatting and laughing once more.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015



PREPARED BY: LT Oskar Lindemann


o Enemy Forces:
 - 7x Mutons, 5x Thin Men, 5x Floaters, 2x Sectoids

o Friendly Forces
 - LT Oskar "Armarnis" Lindemann (Germany)
 - SSG Leigh "B.A.M.F." Fahey (United States)
 - SSG Sylas "Fawkes" Maillet (Canada)
 - SGT Monica "Azrial" de Matos (Brazil)
 - SGT Ward "Shroud" Parsons (Australia)
 - SGT Rainhard "Ogre" Horn (Austria)
 - SGT Jermaine "Da Pain" Glynn (United States)
 - SGT Simone "Tomahawk" Ribeiro (Brazil)


o Strike Team deploys to La Plata, Argentina, 21 AUG 2016 @ 2053 hrs, IOT rescue U.N. General Peter Van Doorn.


We received the Mission Alert at 1923 hrs. The Skyranger was wheels up by 1937, and we arrived at the mission site at 2053 hrs. As soon as we were on ground, a U.N. soldier made contact, identifying himself as Friendly. The whole area was in flaming ruins, so I knew the X-Rays wouldn't be far; I ordered SGT Parsons forward first; He immediately spotted a pod of hostiles, some of which advanced, others retreating. The rest of the squad moved to cover and engaged. SSG Fahey moved up to protect the U.N. troop, who explained that the General had moved up ahead to try to recover an injured soldier. SGT Parsons took a well-aimed shot, and put the Muton down, while I and SGT de Matos took down the Floater. The X-Rays retreated further, so we advanced, and SGT Parsons took down a Sectoid. It's companion stayed in cover, at the farthest range of visibility, until SGT Glynn shot it, and SGT Horn finished it off. 

Now it was time to move forward to find the VIP. We did not immediately discover any further threat, so I activated my motion sensor, which revealed several hostiles on the wrecked section of the bridge. The VIP made contact via radio shortly after, explaining that he was currently hidden in a wrecked car, and the soldier he'd gone to recover hadn't made it. I told him to stay put until we'd cleared his immediate vicinity of threats.

While we were communicating, the X-Rays made their move, as a Muton and two Floaters ascended from the wreckage. Shots were exchanged, but other than a hit on the Muton that didn't seem to even slow it down, no one was injured. Once they'd established a beachhead, two more Mutons climbed up, taking cover positions. SGT Horn said he had a shot; I told him to take it, kill them all if he could. His rocket exploded at the precise point of maximum effect, and two of the Mutons were killed outright. SGTs Ribeiro and Parsons cut down two of the remaining hostiles, leaving SSG Fahey to eliminate the Floater which was coming down on top of her position. This left our level clear, but there was still heavy resistance below; SGT Fahey advanced to the edge and took a long range shot, injuring another Muton.

I had a shot on one Muton below, so I cut loose with a long burst, ripping it to shreds as the squad moved closer to the edge. The Floaters responded by moving up, trying to use their air mobility to flank us; Maillet and Fahey proved this futile, eliminating one of them, SGT Horn reported that one had come down from a high flyover. Our attention was diverted forward however, as another Muton climbed up and started taking shots at Fahey. In response, she dodged through its fire, rolled into cover behind it, and blew it away. A few seconds later, Horn reported that the Floater behind us was no longer a threat. SSG Maillet called to Fahey for a spot report; Then he lobbed a grenade over the edge. After the detonation, I saw SSG Fahey turn back with a grin and report a clean kill.

I advanced SGT de Matos and SSG Fahey to make contact with the VIP, while preparing the rest of the squad for whatever retaliation we'd see from the X-Rays. De Matos reported that the VIP was uninjured, and I ordered her and SSG Fahey to stay with him as he came back up. Then we heard Friendly come across the radio; There was a X-Ray immediately near him, but he'd crawled into one of the wrecked cars, and it didn't seem to have seen him yet. I ordered the squad back toward the Skyranger to protect him. The VIP advanced as well, despite not having a weapon to engage the enemy; He said he owed it to his men to not go down without a fight. 

Then the X-Ray, a Thin Man, stepped around the cars and shot SGT Glynn. He reported that it had scorched his armor pretty good, but that he was okay. De Matos called out movement behind us, so I told her and SGT Ribeiro to stay on rear-guard. SSG Maillet, meanwhile, lobbed a grenade over the cars; Glynn reported that it was hit, but was still moving, so SSG Fahey once again charged into the breach and finished it off. With the way forward clear, I told the VIP to get to the Skyranger, just as I looked back toward the wrecked section of bridge. It was pure chance that I saw the Thin Man, not advancing as expected, but falling back. I sprayed the area with my Autolaser, and put the X-Ray down. No sooner than another Thin Man dropped down from the overpass above, directly in front of me; I thought I was dead, because I couldn't bring my gun around in time, but then several lasers fired, intersecting with the hostile's body; It was dead before it had a chance to raise its weapon.

SGT Horn turned back toward the Skyranger, and caught sight of another Thin Man creeping up; It didn't see him in time, and he shot it down. Then SSG Fahey escorted the VIP back to the Skyranger, and I directed Friendly to join him. Central reported continued movement back toward the wreckage, and directed us to clear any further hostiles. If we could keep the X-Rays from reporting the rescue of the General back to their command, perhaps it would give us an edge. 

I directed the squad back, down into the wreckage, cautiously looking for any further resistance, but at first we saw nothing, even with the motion scanners. It wasn't until SGT de Matos advanced up to the high ground on the far side of the wreckage that she saw a Thin Man, weapon ready. She ducked behind a car before it could draw a bead on her, and I used her report to light up the target, but not quite enough to kill it. SGT Glynn, right beside me, sighted in and put a single shot into the wounded Thin Man's head. SGT De Matos and SSG Fahey reported that the bridge was completely gone just beyond the Thin Man's position, which is probably why it hadn't retreated further; There were no more hostiles. 

We made it back to the Skyranger, and returned to HQ with the VIP and his surviving soldier. Both expressed interest in staying on with XCOM; It is my official recommendation that they be allowed, as their courage and level-headedness against an unknown enemy are traits I want to see more of in our troopers.


o Sustain: 
 - Controlled advancement allows us to fight on our terms
 - Hold the high ground whenever possible

o Improve:
 - Never assume the enemy is only in a single direction
 - Use motion scanners/ battle scanners more judiciously

Tuesday, October 27, 2015



PREPARED BY: SFC Shaojie Zhang


o Enemy Forces:
 - 22x EXALT Operatives, armed with conventional weapons

o Friendly Forces
 - SFC Shaojie "Chilong" Zhang (China)
 - SSG Jade "Mineral" Colman (United Kingdom)
 - SSG Leigh "Beacon" Fahey (United States)
 - SGT Ward "Shroud" Parsons (Australia)
 - SGT Lara "Athena" Jordan (Australia)
 - SGT Rainhard "Ogre" Horn (Austria)
 - CPL Jermaine "Da Pain" Glynn (United States)
 - SPC Kaseem Quadri (Indonesia)
o Covert Operative
 - CPL Joosef "Loki" Hintikka (Finland)


o Strike Team deploys to Nigeria, 13 AUG 2016 @ 0755 hrs, IOT protect transmitted EXALT Data.


The Mission Alert came in at 0619 hrs. The squad was assembled and ready to roll by 0633. I made contact with Covert Operative Hintikka who informed me that the data was transmitting back to XCOM HQ, but that the local EXALT cell had caught on; Operatives were in-bound.

I directed the squad forward, taking positions around the trailer where CPL Hintikka and the Transmitter were located. Shortly after we were in-place, SGT Parsons reported contact, in the same moment that CPL Hintikka did so, followed immediately by the sound of laser fire; Moments later, Parsons confirmed one EXALT Operative down, but that several more were in possession of the Encoder.

This was unacceptable, so I directed the squad to advance, to reclaim the Encoder before EXALT could hack it, and gain access to the transmitter. Unfortunately, when SGT Parsons advanced, he spotted another group of EXALT in the other trailer to our front left. As we were positioning to deal with this new threat, I heard CPL Glynn come across the comms "I got this," just before one of the EXALT Operatives, in the cover of the trailer, took a laser in the head. SGT Jordan came in a moment later "Me too," and shot another hostile who was out of cover. CO Hintikka then informed me that the EXALT would be busy for a little bit, so I ordered everyone else to advance.

The EXALT began hacking the Encoder, so I knew time was growing short. SGT Horn announced "Shredder Out" before sending an air-burst rocket into the target zone, injuring several EXALT agents. SPC Quadri followed it up with an HE grenade, but only managed to kill one of the hostiles. Meanwhile, Glynn reported moving to a sniper nest on top of the trailer, and Colman managed to wound another hostile in the target zone. Unfortunately, the EXALT still had decisive control of the Encoder. That was when Hintikka dodged down into the construction zone, and took cover behind an EXALT transponder, furiously trying to hack before they could bring a shot to bear. SSG Fahey followed right behind him, dodging past, right into the midst of the EXALT troopers, and blasting one of them out of cover. With their comms interrupted, the enemy panicked, fleeing in all directions, while Fahey, cool as ice, executed another two of them at close range, and Hintikka snapped a shot off, finishing off another. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the distraction, I took a pair of shots at the hostiles in the trailer, killing one, and wounding the other. 

While the EXALT agents were recovering, SGT Parsons and CPL Glynn teamed up, designating, then eliminating a sniper who had an advantageous flank on the target zone. Once CPL Glynn announced it was clear, Fahey dodged around the cement truck, took a moving shot to eliminate a target, then continued her move into cover to reload. Meanwhile, Quadri moved up and soft-lobbed a grenade, putting it within feet of the remaining EXALT sniper, blowing him down before he could react. The last remaining operative ducked in cover, so I ordered Horn and Jordan to assist me in setting up a kill zone, while Hintikka moved for the next transponder. When he saw that, the hostile took a chance, and paid with his life.

We didn't get a lull, as we received a report of several more EXALT moving into the zone. Glynn reported eyes on the sniper that dropped into the crane overlooking the construction site; A second later, he reported that the hostile was no longer a threat. SPC Quadri managed to injure another agent with a grenade; CO Hintikka, having finished hacking the next transponder, charged toward the injured operative, his pistol (which he later reported was bone dry) raised as if to shoot. When the panicked EXALT agent ran, I took him down with reactive fire. The last hostile charged into the fray, but SSG Colman and SGT Horn were ready, and he only took a half-dozen steps before he was gunned down. 

In the brief lull that followed, the squad moved to more advantageous positions in and around the Encoder, and reloaded their weapons. Then the last wave of hostiles came in, a large contingent; Unfortunately for them, we were ready; Quadri stepped around the corner and flanked an EXALT medic, taking him down. Glynn reported another dead sniper in the crane, and SSG Colman eliminated another at almost the same moment. SSG Fahey and SGT Jordan maneuvered on the last visible hostile, but it was Parsons who took the shot and eliminated him. Horn, having taken several seconds to steady his launcher, fired the lost shot sending a rocket clear across the construction zone to blow the last operative completely out of cover. 

Shortly after, XCOM HQ reported having received the data, and we exfiltrated, not waiting for any further EXALT reinforcements. 


o Sustain: 
 - Positioning makes all the difference
 - Judicious use of explosives

o Improve:
 - Ammo discipline
 - Pre-op review of the intel maps

Monday, October 26, 2015

Great Big Sky (06 AUG 2016)

It was usually fairly quiet in the pilots' barracks, and today wasn't any different. Unlike the barracks for the troopers, there were rarely more than 6 or 7 personnel at any given time, unless there was a pilot awaiting transfer to another air base. Most of the pilots were a mix of U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots, with a smattering of pilots from other countries. There was only one former U.S. Army pilot; Flight Officer Thaddeus "Big Sky" Gentry.

Lt "Casper" Fallis and Flight Officer "Raven-4" Johnson were sitting in the common room, playing a casual hand of blackjack; The pot was the next week's trash duties. XCOM didn't employ any cleaning staff, so excepting the occasional punitive work details, all personnel were expected to maintain their own living and work areas. Johnson was a rookie pilot for XCOM, only recently in from the Interceptor course. His pre-XCOM record was impressive; all of the pilots had impressive records from before, all of them with actual combat missions under their belts. Still, Fallis knew that Johnson really didn't know what it was to fly against the aliens, and it couldn't really be explained, no matter how many simulator missions you ran or cockpit recordings you viewed.

"So, what's up with the bus driver?" Johnson asked, nodding toward FO Gentry's room. "He never seems to come out of there except to hit the chow hall, gym or showers."

"Dude," Fallis said, disgust coloring his tone, "shut the fuck up."

"What'd I say?" Johnson asked, his features warring between surprise and anger. "I'm just asking what his deal is."

"His deal," the Lieutenant replied, allowing himself to take on a lecturing tone, "is that he's not a fucking bus driver."

"Whoa, chill out," the rookie shot back. "I know his mission is important, I'm not trying to disrespect the guy. But he hauls the kids back and forth. He's not out there exchanging fire with the X-Rays."

Fallis just stared at him for a long moment, letting the silence stretch out. Johnson flushed, and the anger started to come to the fore. He opened his mouth to say something else, but Fallis cut him off.

"You really don't get it, do you?" His tone was now more surprised than critical. "Lemme ask you something. How many of us are there, Interceptor pilots?"

"Um," the junior pilot considered for a moment. "Between us here and the pilots in the African base? A dozen or so."

"Nine," Fallis supplied, "to be exact, including those on recovery rotation to South America. Next question: How many "bus drivers" does XCOM have?"

"Just him, so far as I know."

"Exactly. He's flown dozens of missions. I'm the most experienced Interceptor pilot XCOM has got, and I've flown barely five, most of which didn't result in a downed enemy."

"So?" Johnson shook his head. "His missions are cakewalks. Fly in, drop off the squad and wait around until they're done."

"Tell me something. You ever see any ground combat?"

Johnson shook his head. "No. Plenty of fights in the sky, though." Lieutenant Fallis rubbed at the bridge of his nose, then lifted his card to peek underneath, buying time to think.

"I was shot down in the early phases of the Iraq war. Got cocky, barely made it out alive. I broke my leg when the eject mechanism misfired, but I made it to the ground in one piece. I had to sit in hostile territory and wait for Para-Rescue to come get me, and I will tell you something; Having to shoot a man in the face before he can do it to you is a very different thing than what we do in the sky."

"I got no disrespect for the troops-" Johnson cut in.

"I'm not finished. What we do in the sky is a video game. Line up the dots, push the button, and we're rewarded with an explosion if we do it right. He," Fallis paused, nodding toward FO Gentry's door. "has to get down in the weeds every day. Yeah, he's waiting outside the combat zone for the squad to get back, but the X-Rays don't always follow the rules. You know he went through 3 co-pilots in the early days, before he asked the Commander to stop giving him one? Having to sit in the LZ and hope the X-Rays don't come sniffing around isn't a cakewalk."

"I didn't realize," Johnson said, glancing toward the closed door. "So what then? He doesn't socialize because of his dead co-pilots?"

"It's a lot more than that," Fallis said. "Do you realize that we've lost four troopers just in the last month? Two of them veterans who've been here since the very beginning."

"Yeah, I heard about those."

"Gentry's got to bring all of those people back, plus many more wounded. They've got another LT in critical care right now, after the last UFO. They're not sure if she'll pull through."

"Yeah..." Johnson said quietly, his face troubled.

"We've got the luxury of not seeing all of that," the Lieutenant gestured around. "We've got our own barracks, separate from the troopers. All we really see is the bulletin board announcements. Even though we fail to take down the enemy more often than not, we usually manage to make it back alive, and get the crazy stories to tell."

"Okay, fuck man, I get it," Johnson said, raising his hands in surrender. "I'm an asshole, alright?"

"Nah," Fallis said, finally knocking the table to indicate he'd stay on the nearly forgotten hand of cards. "You're just new here. This is a different kind of war than we've ever seen before, and we cannot afford to bring old prejudices with us." Johnson also decided to stay, so they flipped up their cards to reveal their hand. "Shit, twenty one. Looks like I've got trash next week." The senior pilot glanced toward Gentry's door as they shuffled their hands back into the deck. "Honestly, I worry about him," he said quietly.

Then, almost as if the comment had summoned him, Gentry's door opened, and he stepped out dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and running shoes, with a towel around his shoulders. Johnson looked at Fallis quickly, then seemed to make a decision.

"Hey, Gentry!" he called, rising from his seat. "You're headed to the gym, yeah?" FO Gentry stopped, and gave a cautious nod, his deep southern accent rumbling a quiet affirmative. "You mind if I join you? I won't be but a few minutes behind you, just gotta change." At the non-committal shrug, Johnson glanced back at the Lieutenant with a brief, apologetic smile, and moved toward his room.

Fallis leaned back in his chair, and shuffled the cards a few times, meditatively. He doubted that FO Gentry would be drawn out of his shell so easily, but maybe it was a start. This war didn't look like it was going to end any time soon, and if they wanted to survive this, they'd all have to learn to lean on one another.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015



PREPARED BY: LT Jared Houston


o Enemy Forces:
 - 5x Seekers, 3x Floaters, 1x Thin Man

o Friendly Forces
 - LT Jared "Mercury" Houston (United States)
 - SGT Svetlana "Eclipse" Petukhova (Russia)
 - SGT Monica "Alpha" de Matos (Brazil)
 - SGT Leigh "Beacon" Fahey (United States)
 - CPL Sa'idah "Wing" Ramli (Egypt)
 - CPL Rhys "Blizzard" Waddell (Canada)
 - SPC Caio de Abreu (Brazil)
 - PFC Mahjoub Benhassi (Algeria)


o Strike Team deploys to Boston, Massachusetts, 07 AUG 2016 @ 1508 hrs, IOT disrupt an Abduction in Progress.


The Mission Alert came in at 1425 hrs. The Skyranger was wheels up by 1448, with boots down in Boston by 1508 hrs. We approached the office building cautiously, but met no immediate resistance. Once the squad was positioned inside, I sent CPL Waddell up to open the door that lead deeper into the building. Immediately, a pod of Seekers swarmed through the door. PFC Benhassi had a rocket readied, so Waddell and SGT de Matos scrambled back as he fired, severely damaging the Seekers and most of the nearby walls. Before the smoke even cleared, Alpha snapped a shot off, and de Abreu followed up with an AP grenade, destroying most the original Seekers just in time for another to come into view, as well as a pod of Floaters entering the back room.

Waddell was completely exposed, his cover having been blown in the rocket blast, so I yelled at him to get to cover, as Ramli and I finished off the last of the Seekers. Before he moved, he reported a Thin Man in the back; Eclipse said she had him, and a long moment later I hear the sizzle of her rifle and the gaseous detonation of a dying Thin Man in the distance.

Rather than advancing into the unknown, I order the squad to stay put, and let the Floaters come to us. They jet into range, and Alpha is the first to fire, putting down the first of the monstrosities. Beacon dives through the window and blasts the second Floater that was moving directly for Benhassi. A few tense moments pass, and just as I'm about to order the squad forward, a Seeker comes in on our rear flank, and goes down in a hail of laser fire.

Another minute of silence, and Waddell reports that he believes he heard the sound of a Meld canister from the back, so I direct the squad to move that way. No sooner than we start our advance than a final Floater blasts into view on our right flank. Petukhova cripples it as soon as it comes into sight, and I execute the severely damaged wretch with a quick burst.

We continued our careful advance through the building, managing to recover the Meld, and encountering no further resistance.


o Sustain:
 - Explosives to deal with clustered threats
 - Massing fires to quickly remove threats

o Improve:
 - Flank awareness
 - Don't count on cover to survive an explosion

Tuesday, October 13, 2015



PREPARED BY: SSG Spencer Donohue


o Enemy Forces:
 - 2x Outsiders, 4x Floaters, 5x Drones, 5x Sectoids, 1x Muton, 4x Seekers

o Friendly Forces
 - LT Naomi "Artemis" Bowden (United Kingdom)
 - SFC Ana Lucia "Mustang" Mardones (Ecuador)
 - SSG Spencer "Leo" Donohue (United States)
 - SSG Jade "Mineral" Colman (United Kingdom)
 - SGT Sylas "Fawkes" Maillet (Canada)
 - SGT Jirina "Stiletto" Markusova (Czech Republic)
 - CPL Rainhard "Ogre" Horn (Austria)
 - SPC Jermaine Glynn (United States)


o Strike Team deploys to Nigeria, 02 AUG 2016 @ 1123 hrs, IOT exploit a landed UFO site, and extract an X-Ray Captive.


When the UFO was spotted over Nigeria, they told me to assemble my squad at the Skyranger, just in case. The interception did not succeed, but the 
UFO was reported as landing at 0948, and we were boots up by 0954, with touchdown at 1123. The site was a forested area, with the UFO immediately to our left flank. The LT sent Stiletto up to get a closer look, then we all took up cover positions, except Glynn, who remained on watch.

Immediately, a large pod of Floaters lead by a Muton came across the front of the UFO. Half of them scattered back out of view, and Stiletto and Fawkes managed to land a pair of solid hits on the Muton as it moved for cover, but did not finish it off. The LT took a shot as it reached cover, and put it down. We repositioned to engage the remaining visible Floater. Glynn managed to injure one of them as it took a shot at the LT, who returned fire and finished it off. 

SGT Markusova moved up to get eyes on the other Floaters, dodging reactive fire as she advanced. As soon as she called contact, Glynn brought down the pain, blowing the first of the Floaters to scrap before Stiletto, lacking any decent cover, withdrew. We heard the remaining Floaters pulling back, and LT Bowden deemed it unsafe to try the UFO before we'd cleared the known threat, so we advanced across the front of the UFO, careful to avoid lines of sight to inside, while Maillet and myself moved to cover the only open entrance to the craft. Unfortunately, Mustang got spotted by a large pod of Sectoids as she advanced, causing us to refocus to our right, away from the UFO.

Mineral took the first shot, putting a Sectoid down for the count, as the remainder of the squad, out of position for the new threat, moved back to cover. Then one of the Sectoids, glowing with ethereal, violet energy, dodged into view, avoiding two shots, and put a bolt of plasma directly into the LT's chest plate. Before anyone could react, several Seekers burst from the inside of the UFO. I managed to shoot one down point blank, with Maillet taking down a second moments later. Glynn and Colman took down the remaining Seekers, clearing them from our midst, before Colman slewed her gun around and crippled the one that had shot down LT Bowden. Meanwhile, Stiletto was focused in on the Floater that had come back into view, and shot it down with a well-placed shot. I don't even think she'd noticed the LT was down yet.

Mustang ran up the hill, roaring in anger, taking a plasma bolt on her front armor plate; With it still sizzling, she executed the Sectoid that may have killed the LT, and took down the one that shot her for good measure. I just hustled my ass down to check on the LT; She was breathing, but only barely. When a pod of Drones flew out of the UFO, Horn calmly stepped out, set his rocket to airburst, and blew them all to sparking wreckage. I was able to stabilize the LT, but she wouldn't be coming back into the fight.

We repositioned, and waited for the X-Rays to come to us. Stiletto managed to wing one of the Sectoids, but no one else had a clean shot, as the aliens remained back in the trees. I did manage to kill a straggler Drone as it exited the alien craft, though. We exchanged a few shots with the one visible Sectoid before I winged it, and Mineral finished it off. SFC Mardones advanced to try to put eyes on the remaining Sectoid, but it put eyes on her first; She took another shot in the chest, but managed to stay vertical, and crawl to cover. When the Sectoid scampered out of cover, Stiletto took it down, while Mustang made her way back toward me, so I could give her a double-dose of repair nanites, stimulants and pain-killers.

SFC Mardones, temporarily recovered, took charge, and ordered us to assault the alien craft. Ogre was the first one in, getting clear eyes on the interior, and Stiletto took up a good position inside, so the rest of the squad could follow. The Floater took everyone by surprise when it jetted into the bay, avoiding several reaction shots; Colman, standing ready in the back, unleashed a barrage of laser fire, and took it down before it could kill Stiletto.

Moving tactically through the medium-sized craft, we finally approached the aft-chamber of the craft, immediately behind the control console. Thus far, we hadn't encountered any of the Outsiders that usually crewed the alien craft. When Stiletto breached the aft-chamber door, that changed. Mustang fired through the dissolving wall of light as the Outsiders scattered, seriously injuring one. The rest of the squad focused fire on the other, which attempted to flank by coming around to the other side of the control chamber. Colman and Glynn managed to nearly cripple it.

That was when Mustang made the judgment call, abandoned the Outsider in the aft-chamber, and pulled the Arc Thrower as she approached the staggered Outsider, and blasted the X-Ray to the ground; It dissolved, but this time left a strange crystal behind. When she called "Got it!" I stepped out and blasted the other one; We had what we'd come for. 

Before we could return to the Skyranger, SFC Mardones collapsed; The painkillers weren't able to keep her conscious anymore, with her extensive injuries. It didn't matter. Horn shouldered her and we made our way back, picking up the LT on the way, with Maillet carrying our prize.


o Sustain: 
 - Decisive response to new threats
 - Tactical advancement

o Improve: 
 - Recklessness when things go badly
 - Utilize lines of sight better

Tuesday, October 6, 2015





o Enemy Forces:
 - 1x Outsider, 2x Cyberdiscs, 4x Drones, 3x Floaters

o Friendly Forces
 - SSG Shousei "Lightning" Daiwa (Japan) - KIA
 - SGT Yusuf "Thunder" Hassan (Sudan)
 - SGT Anant "Rooftop" Dhalon (Pakistan)
 - SGT Beatrice "Preacher" Rydberg (Sweden)
 - CPL Simone "Tomahawk" Ribeiro (Brazil)
 - CPL Osazenomwan "Mental" Olufunke (Nigeria)
 - SPC Synclair Mallari (Phillipines)
 - SPC Caio de Abreu (Brazil)


o Strike Team deploys to rural Oklahoma, United States, 31 JUL 2016 @ 0813 hrs, IOT exploit a crashed UFO site, and extract an X-Ray Captive.


The UFO was splashed at 0403, and Central told SSG Daiwa to have his squad ready in the Skyranger by 0800. We touched down in Oklahoma by 0813, SSG Daiwa moved first, spotting three Floaters immediately. As soon as he called contact, I drew a bead on the first one, and put a laser beam through its head, while the rest of the squad found cover positions. SSG Daiwa took a shot and wounded another, then we waited for them to come to us. The first took to the air, firing a shot that singed SSG Daiwa's armor, while the second blasted off, coming down on our right flank. SGT Dhalon moved to flank the second Floater, destroying it with a close-range blast, while SSG Daiwa finished off the one he'd wounded, before he ordered the squad to come up on line.

Unfortunately, when CPL Olufunke moved up, he set off a Cyberdisc and its attendant Drones. The Drones moved toward us, drawing startled reaction shots from the squad; The drones were both winged, but not disabled. The Disc took a shot at CPL Olufunke, but he managed to hunker behind his cover and avoid injury, or worse. SSG Daiwa ordered us to focus fire on the Cyberdisc. CPL Olufunke lead off with a Shredder Rocket, killing one Drone, and shredding the Cyberdisc. SSG Daiwa moved to position to get a clean shot on the Disc, designating it for the rest of us, and damaging it severely. SGT Rydberg and I focused fire on the Disc, but as it had closed into defensive posture, we were unable to finish it off. Meanwhile, CPL Ribeiro took a shot of opportunity on the remaining Drone, and took it down. The Cyberdisc continued to focus on CPL Olufunke, so SPC de Abreu took advantage of this to move into range and kill it. While we dealt with that, SGT Dhalon took the opportunity to grab the meld canister to his immediate front.

SSG Daiwa directed the squad forward cautiously, until we had a good position on the UFO, encountering no resistance as we advanced. SSG Daiwa activated his stealth camo, and move directly up to look into the UFO, though he reported no X-Rays inside. No sooner than the squad had gotten into position, however, than the Outsider, a Cyberdisc and a Drone entered the UFO from behind, spotting the squad. Reaction fire took out the Drone immediately, and CPL Olufunke blew out the front wall, removing cover for the Outsider and the Disc. 

SSG Daiwa ordered us to focus on the Disc, as we wanted to capture the Outsider alive. SPC de Abreu tried to soften our targets with an AP grenade, but the Disc's armor appeared to absorb the blow, and the Outsider was only caught in the periphery. SSG Daiwa, CPL Ribeiro, SGT Rydberg and I pumped several rounds into the Cyberdisc, which succumbed to our massed fires, leaving only the Outsider. SSG Daiwa was shouting that we should soften the Outsider up before Dhalon attempted the capture when it moved up to the wreckage he was taking cover behind, and shot him point-blank in the head. 

De Abreu started screaming, and lobbed a grenade at the Outsider, knocking it down and destroying the wreckage. Realizing that someone had to try to salvage the mission, I started yelling over the comms that we had to take that bastard alive. I thought I was going to lose control of the situation, until Dhalon unholstered the Arc Thrower, and said that Vahlen would make that thing regret coming to this planet. Before the Outsider had recovered, I heard the agreement of everyone in the squad. Ribeiro drew her pistol and shot it straight in the chest, knocking it back down, while Dhalon moved up and fired the Arc Thrower at it. At first we thought it was down, but when it raised its plasma carbine toward Dhalon, I knew we'd lost this one, and put a shot through its head, and watched it dissolve in flickers of orange light. When the last Drone hovered into sight, it met the massed fires from the squad, and was nearly disintegrated.

SGT Dhalon checked on SSG Daiwa, but he could only confirm what we already knew. A quick sweep through the UFO revealed no more resistance, and we called the recovery team to come in and salvage the wreckage.


o Sustain: 
 - Massed Fires
 - Threat prioritization

o Improve: 
 - Longer engagement range
 - Equipment that actually performs its function