9 March, 2015
A small flying saucer has been detected in the vicinity of Japan. The bogey has been classified UFO-1.
An interceptor is scrambled from the XCOM base somewhere in a remote part of the Philippines.
The interceptor is en route.
Shortly after, a tense air battle begins, the interceptor exchanging shots with the larger alien vessel while Command and Control can only watch with bated breath and crossed fingers.
The interceptor takes heavy damage, but the UFO drops out of the sky.
Back at the base, Mission Control crew break out into a round of spontaneous claps. The relief is palpable. These alien craft -can- be hurt with our current missile technology.
Not that much though. Surveillance indicates that the grounded UFO is still mostly in one piece, and that alien crew are moving at the crash site. Salvaging for supplies to repair their craft perhaps?
We can’t have that.
The only one doing the salvage today will be XCOM.
A squad is scrambled.
The mission: Operation Vengeful Jester
The team is to locate the crashed UFO and eliminate any remaining crew members.
Secondary objectives are to secure any Meld canisters and preserve as much of the alien craft as possible for salvage.
The transport manages to find a clear landing zone on a road that’s wide and flat enough.
The team disembarks into a streetscape filled with rubble.
The uncontrolled descent of the UFO has shaved off the tops of many of the buildings in this area. It looks like the aftermath of an earthquake, fires smouldering in the distance, burst pipes leaking their contents, the skeletal wrecks of cars abandoned on the road.
Hopefully, an XCOM communiqué went out in time to the Japanese authorities to order an evacuation of the area, minimizing civilian casualties but the team doesn’t have the time to look too closely.
They’re here for one thing only: Get in, neutralize any X-rays, take apart the craft for usable salvage, get out.
The squad proceeds down the road, spreading out to take advantage of the ample cover from the rubble and before long, startles their first batch of aliens.
We already spent our turn moving, so the aliens get a free turn to do whatever nefarious things they feel like doing, without getting shot at.
They scurry behind cover. And they do love their Mind Merge…
(Gives +25% Critical chance, +25 Will, and 1 additional Health to the receiving alien. Conversely, if the originator of the link is killed, both will die.)
Then the buffed alien takes a shot at Rk. Skyrim.
And hits for 4 bars of damage, leaving him considerably wounded, with just two more bars to go.
Now the XCOM team moves.
Sq. Izlain approaches, using the wreck of a red car for partial cover, and takes a shot at the nearest alien.
(As much as it would be nice to take out the originator of the Mind Merge, the cunning little things are clever enough to stay further behind and I didn’t want the squad to get too spread out.)
He hits for 3 damage, something that would normally kill them, but it’s saved by the last bar of Mind Merge.
Not for long:
Sq. Syl is now the one toting the shotgun (I checked this time before firing willy nilly) and she runs up to stick the barrel in its face.
95% chance to hit, 20% chance to critical… Goodbye, linked alien.
Rk. Bhagpuss is a little too far away to have a good chance of hitting the other alien, but since there’s no point rushing up further to give the alien a free close-range shot, has a go at it anyway.
Choosing caution as the better part of valor, the wounded Rk. Skyrim is ordered to use the sturdy sides of the van for full cover.
He will be later positioned to support the assaulting Sq. Syl as that half of the team approaches a signal indicative of a Meld canister.
As there’s already two soldiers on the left flank to chase after the last alien, we veer Sq. Syl to the right to pick up said canister before it self-destructs.
She also successfully locates the crash-landed alien UFO in the process. and startles a second group of aliens…
…who scurry off into the cover of ruins and darkness out of sight.
Oh, that’s not so good.
Rk. Bhagpuss is hastily ordered to head to the right as well, and go into Overwatch to wait for the aliens to show themselves.
(I have full confidence that Sq. Izlain will be able to take on the one measly alien on the left…)
As expected, the little critters show themselves.
Rk. Bhagpuss takes a reaction shot, but they’re pretty fast moving little gits and he misses. (Overwatch has a -20 Aim penalty, and even more if the target is dashing (-40) but hey, it’s still better than not shooting.)
Sq. Syl also gets to take a reaction shot,
and hits for 4 damage!
The alien squeals most satisfyingly as it explodes in a shower of strangely colored goo.
Well, that teaches them to run around without care in front of a shotgun.
Meanwhile, Sq. Izlain is in pursuit of the retreating alien from the initial encounter.
In a low crouch, he stalks through the rubble of a collapsed building to creep up on the alien.
Then he stands up, leans over the rubble and critical hits the alien with an automatic burst from the assault rifle for 6 points of damage.
Over in the right corner, it’s now Sq. Syl’s turn to take action.
Oh look, another frag grenade.
Well, it was -outside- the UFO.
And in this mess, who would notice one more thoroughly wrecked piece of rubble?
All four tangos down, the squad starts moving to regroup with each other and approaches the UFO cautiously.
As they peer in through the strange glowing window? doorway? entrance? a strange being unfolds itself from what previously looked like a hovering shard of crystal.
Through the inbuilt cameras on the team’s suits, we get a close up look at the UFO’s hull, which is still mostly intact after that high-velocity crash landing. Dr. Vahlen, the XCOM lead researcher, marvels as much over the comm links, but the squad really isn’t interested in that as a priority.
As the otherwordly alien glides around inside the alien craft, Sq. Syl opens fire from Overwatch.
And unfortunately misses.
Still alive, the Outsider alien returns fire at Sq. Syl, but also just as fortunately, misses too.
The Commander on high expressly orders Rk. Skyrim to follow the Meld signal and retrieve the last canister before the window of opportunity for salvage is lost.
As much as it might be nice to move up in support of Sq. Syl to take potshots at the strange alien, there’s no point risking the wounded soldier when there’s also an important job that needs doing.
In the long term, the retrieval of as much Meld material as possible for the scientists and engineers back at home base may end up the key to winning the war.
Rk. Bhagpuss is moved up in support instead, ready to offer covering fire on the next turn if needed.
Sq. Syl suspects she can end it without any issues arising.
There’s no cover in the intervening space, so it is a risky maneuver, exposing oneself to whatever else may be inside the ship lying in wait.
But well, that’s what Assault troops are for, taking the big risks to go in first.
Luckily, there’s no other aliens within – the survivors must have all exited the wreck already.
At this range, we’re talking 100% chance to hit and 70% chance to critical with a shotgun.
6 points of critical damage completely disrupts the structure of the strange energy being, and it explodes into a hundred harmless motes of… stuff. Whatever it’s made of. The boffins back home can figure it out later.
No further live aliens are detected on site.
5 aliens killed.
0 XCOM operatives lost.
2 of 2 Meld canisters recovered.
Operation Vengeful Jester ends with an Excellent rating for all categories.
The after action report. No promotions just yet, Rk. Skyrim is wounded for 4 days. (That’s pretty fast considering the extent of the damage!)
The team has barely enough time for any R&R because the Council sends XCOM an urgent message.
I guess we’re going to Paris.
We’re one member down, so we have to pick up a fourth.
Team, meet your new sniper.
Coming up next, Operation First Law in Paris, France!