25 April, 2015
Television programmes across the world are interrupted by emergency news broadcasts.
The UFOs aren’t hiding any more.
They’re hovering in the skies across major global cities and firing on skyscrapers. In the wake of the collapsing buildings, aliens have been beaming down to sow more terror.
XCOM concludes that the change in alien tactics is meant to send a message: that no one can stop them.
The timing is indeed more than a little awkward, as the Commander has just sent two of the XCOM squad for gene modification.
Lieutenant J3w3l , Sniper extraordinaire, will be getting eye implants for extra depth perception, improving aim and critical chance when at a height advantage, as well as extra leg muscle fiber density to super jump to high locations without need for any ladders.
Our Assault squaddie Jeromai Wolf will be getting hyper-reactive pupils to increase aim after missing a shot (a base of 59 Aim isn’t terribly encouraging, y’know?) and adaptive bone marrow, which regenerates wounds and reduces recovery time (considering how much Taking One For The Team he’s been doing, think he needs it…)
One more Heavy was going to be sent for gene modification, but fortunately, the Commander remembered that it would be better to have a full squad on standby. Just in case.
Then all hell broke loose.
26 April, 2015
Amidst reports of escalating hysteria across the globe, one radar operator managed to keep their head long enough to pick up signals of a UFO fleet headed towards Shanghai. This was sent up through various relevant channels in time to get XCOM in the loop.
A response is expected, else the alien message of ‘abandon all hope’ will be the only one that rings clear and true.
It’s really not the best time, but there’s nothing for it. The last four unwounded and combat ready soldiers are called up.
Lt. Syl with her trusty shotgun and frag grenade.
Cpl. Othnieltcs, steady and stalwart in his MEC suit.
Cpl. Bhagpuss, complete with S.C.O.P.E. fitted LMG.
Cpl. Skyrim, our other sturdy Heavy on whom we paused for a time to dither between equipping with a nano-fiber vest for more armor, or a medikit, just in case. (“Just in case” won.)
Operation Blind Sword will be fighting back a terror attack in Shanghai, China.
Eliminate all hostile targets, minimize civilian casualties and rescue as many as possible.
The transport roars up by some docks overlooking the urban center.
As the squad spreads out to look for civilians, it’s clear that aliens have hit this place and hit it hard, but it’s alarmingly still, with neither alien nor civilian in sight.
Did XCOM arrive too late?
Lt. Syl makes it all the way into the warehouse before spotting the first civilian. Outside, naturally. Thank you, Murphy’s Law.
Then the aliens show up. Two Floaters pop up on the floor overhead, where apparently another civilian was also hiding.
Lt. Syl and Cpl. Bhagpuss get to take reaction shots from their surprise appearance, and one hits for 3 points of damage.
Cpl. Skyrim fans out to the right, where another civilian is spotted just outside.
Driven to haste by two abruptly cut-off screams of civilians, presumably being slaughtered from places unknown, Cpl. Othnieltcs rushes up to evacuate the civilian on the left.
He also takes 5 points of plasma gunfire as one Floater gets a free reaction shot at his bulk going past the large windows.
His large strides are sufficient to take him to another civilian to evacuate, and he does so without hesitation.
As he ends his turn, secure in the knowledge that two civilians are safe, he looks up and a chill run down his mechanical armored spine as he spots four sinister glowing yellow eyes and a pair of silhouettes with way too many legs.
(The Commander was so spooked that no screenshots were taken in time to catch the sinister duo. One can just about see them via Cpl. Skyrim’s heads up display below.)
After rescuing the citizen on the right side of the warehouse, Cpl. Skyrim smashes the glass and fires a volley at the nearest Floater. It does 5 damage, sending the alien machine crashing to the ground in an explosion of metal and organic goo.
One very wounded Floater remains.
Cpl. Bhagpuss moves up to intercept it.
95% chance to hit, 50% chance to critical from this range, one damage to go, don’t frickin’ miss, ‘Broad Side’, please…
Dat scope attachment, best gear ever.
He hits it and scores a promotion off it too.
It doesn’t rain, but it pours. Two more Floaters show up. moving around the back of the warehouse near where the Chryssalids are, doing heinous things to civilians in the background.
In the meantime, if you can look upon this scene without pissing your pants, you’re a better man than I.
To everyone’s immense surprise, the two Chryssalids go right past Cpl. Othnieltcs.
Not wanting to go through the effort of opening a can when there’s good smelling food already out in the open, perhaps?
One of them takes out the civilian nearby. The count so far is 12 civilians left, 2 rescued, 4 dead.
The other dashes right up next to Lt. Syl.
Boy, this feels a lot like déjà vu, doesn’t it?
Okay, don’t panic, don’t panic, we’ve been here before. Shotgun to the face…
…for 3 points of damage.
Panic levels climbing.
The two Heavies hustle to Lt. Syl’s rescue. Pray hard they don’t miss.
Cpl. Skyrim’s turn: 72% chance to hit, 0% chance to critical.
Another 3 points of damage. The thing is still standing.
It’s all on Cpl. Bhagpuss now. 76% chance to hit, 0% chance to critical.
4 points of damage, one dead Chryssalid at long last.
The other Chryssalid has gone out of line of sight.
Moving from where Cpl. Othnieltcs was standing on the boat, and the next point of cover… it turns out to be a completely blind (but lucky? unlucky?) guess that he winds up right next to it.
I guess it’s a good thing he’s got one of these.
Two can play at that lethal melee attack game.
Kinetic fist PUNCH!
Just as we’re chortling at the one-hit-killed Chryssalid splattered on the ground, a shuffling sound from behind Cpl. Othnieltcs reminds us that we’ve forgotten something…
The civilian the Chyrssalid killed earlier… is not so dead after all.
With one blow, it does 9 points of damage.
Cpl. Othnieltcs crumples to the ground, critically wounded.
O. M. F. G.
What the fuck?!
The only thing that comes to mind at this point is that it’s still damnably lucky that he’s not outright dead, and that one thought to bring a Medikit along, “just in case.”
Problem is, the Medikit is kind of far away and he ‘s only got 3 turns before he bleeds out for good.
And there’s two Floaters in the way. Oh, and the zombie, of course. Let’s not forget the zombie.
47% chance to hit is not usually a chance I’d take. Especially not for Cpl. Bhagpuss.
But you know the saying about desperate times.
It’s a hit!
3 damage only though, still alive, still able to fire on everybody.
Lt. Syl has used Run and Gun to dash up to Cpl. Othnieltcs’ prior position on the boat.
100% chance and 70% chance to critical…
4 points of damage.
The THING has 10 health bars to work through.
Then the aliens get to attack.
One Floater rockets up into the air and with its height advantage, hits Lt. Syl for 4 points of damage.
One is starting to wonder if the squad is going to suffer more casualties trying to save one fallen soldier.
The other Floater fires, and fortunately, misses Lt. Syl entirely.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t even aiming at her, but a civilian. Which it most definitely hit.
Oh well. The whole operation is kinda FUBAR’ed already.
Next turn, we briefly ponder the wisdom of attempting another shotgun blast at the zombie, then think the better of it.
Lt. Syl has her lucky frag grenade.
Not only will this do 3 damage to the thing, the idea is to take out the entire left side warehouse wall, so that the two Heavies have a faster route to Cpl. Othnieltcs.
She hurls it. Wall goes boom.
Yes, this will work nicely. Cpl. Bhagpuss now has unobstructed line of sight, the zombie is down to 3 health and has no cover.
80% chance to hit, 50% chance to critical…
…if he wasn’t already pending a promotion, I’d promote him again.
Our Medikit holding savior has an uninterrupted dash towards Cpl. Othnieltcs. 2 turns left before he kicks the bucket.
Back to the aliens.
One of them lands and fries another civilian.
I think, by now, we’ve gone numb to the situation.
More importantly, on the very next turn, Cpl. Skyrim scrambles up near enough to Cpl. Othnieltcs to stabilize him with the Medikit.
Tombstone and memorial inscription narrowly averted. For one more mission, anyway.
Cpl. Bhagpuss turns his attention back to the Floater on the ground. Another 3 damage.
Both have one bar of health left, but are still capable of plenty of mischief.
Cpl. Skyrim takes 4 points of damage from the plasma fire from on high.
Floater-on-ground fries yet another civilian.
Cpl. Bhagpuss has another go at Floater-on-ground. 64% chance to hit…
… first shot’s a miss. Of course. At least it’s not a clutch situation.
The Bullet Swarm ability allows for a second go.
And he makes damn well sure this time that it’s dead.
Yep. I think we can safely conclude that.
Lt. Syl moves up to take on the last Floater.
64% chance to hit with a shotgun, straight up.
Pretty fireworks in the sky.
Operation Blind Sword comes to an end.
7 aliens killed.
0 XCOM operatives lost. (Unbelievably so.)
11 of 18 civilians saved. (Well… 61% survival rate. Could be worse.)
The after action report is busy indeed, with two wounded heroes.
All the Corporals have now been promoted to Lieutenant and have earned the right to official nicknames. (Insert ye olde standard disclaimer of automatic nicknames and drop me a line in the comments to request better ones, yadda yadda.)
I’ve gone ahead and given a Taken One For the Team medal to Lt. Othnieltcs. The +5 bonus to cover doesn’t really apply since he can’t get into cover anyway, but I think he’s definitely earned it several times over now. :)