10 April, 2015
Another simultaneous three-pronged abduction.
The aliens have realized XCOM’s weakness, unable to be in three places at once. One squad may win a battle, but lose the war.
The Commander’s decision is a little tougher this time. The base desperately needs money, and Nigeria is promising a respectable sum for XCOM’s help.
The base definitely doesn’t need a new sniper (yet), and is doing fine on engineers, though more are always welcome.
The panic level in Germany is not at all good though, and there’s the concern that leaving the population to fend for itself this time may produce panicked riots and force authorities there to pull out of the XCOM project to see to their own internal troubles.
Munich, it is.
Operation Blind Thunder is underway.
The objective is simple, neutralize all hostiles conducting an abduction somewhere at a petrol station (or gas station for ze Americans) in Munich.
Sergeant “Bad Luck” Izlain was not involved in this action, having been given some R&R time after five missions in a row. (ie. He was ranking up way too fast and leaving the rest behind in the dust.)
The transport deposits the squad in front of the petrol station.
Sq. J3w3l ascends to the roof to take a cautious look around, while the rest fan out alongside on the ground. All quiet so far.
In the meantime, the Commander is having way too much fun reviewing Sq. Othnieltcs’ capabilities inside his MEC suit. Look at that health bar, 14 hp!
One ability can destroy any cover a target is hiding behind and do some damage to boot. This particular suit was also equipped with a kinetic fist, instead of a flamethrower, which allows for a 12 damage (!) melee attack.
Then the Commander took a look at the distance a MEC armored trooper can move (and still fire – dashing would double the distance shown) and gasped with awe.
Striving not to be distracted by this lethal fighting machine, the Commander orders Sq. Wolf to head to the left, where a Meld container is discovered. Still no aliens in sight.
Moving Sq. Bhagpuss to the right though, he catches sight of the first group of aliens. A pair of Thin Men, leaning over a cocooned civilian pulled out of a car.
They scatter for cover.
Sq. Bhagpuss fires wildly at the pair, but misses.
Sq. J3w3l unfortunately can’t get a good view of them from where she’s standing on the roof and has to move up to get them in line of sight.
One is not able to move and fire a sniper rifle in the same turn (unless you choose a specific ability for it) so she pulls out a pistol instead with 78% chance to hit.
It does hit, but it’s only a graze for 1 damage.
Sq. Othnieltcs is asked to move up, and it’s about this point in time when the Commander realizes one of the downsides of a MEC suit.
It’s so big, it’s impossible to take cover.
Oh. It’s a good thing there’s 14 health bars to work through, then.
Of course, it -does- have a rather big gun too.
There’s not much need to take cover if your opponent is a green puddle spreading out on the ground. (And vaporizing into the air, in this particular case.)
Sq. Wolf, meanwhile, collects the first Meld canister unmolested by aliens.
Moving up on the right flank though, we encounter a chilling sight. A hitherto unknown and unseen pair of tentacled alien creatures. (New to the Commander too, as an Enemy Within addition!)
We barely get a good look at them, impossible to say if they’re organic or mechanical or a mix of both, before they fade out of sight and vanish from all scanners.
Dr. Shen suggests that this invisible unit was made for the purpose of tracking isolated single targets.
A chill runs down the Commander’s spine at the realization that one squadie was sent out alone to the left to grab a canister and that the sniper is alone on the roof. Oh, this is not good. Time for Plan B, everybody find a buddy and move in pairs at the very least.
The aliens, though, get to move first.
The remaining Thin Man snakes its way to the cover of a lamp post, braving a gauntlet of fire from Sq. Bhagpuss, who misses.
And Sq. J3w3l, who also misses. (Though this one is, as usual, a careless commander’s fault for leaving pistol selected and going into Overwatch too quickly, having forgotten to swap back to a sniper rifle.)
The Thin Man buggers off unharmed.
The Commander radios Sq. Wolf to rejoin the rest of the squad urgently, worried about where the invisible duo have disappeared to.
As Sq. Wolf dashes to cover the distance from left to right, a careless order leaves him out of cover, standing in front of the door to the petrol station’s office. –
A large commotion is suddenly heard inside as something spots Sq. Wolf’s shadow or silhouette against the door.
A pair of Mind Melding aliens, and a pair of floating mechano-organic monstrosities. The -four- aliens scramble for cover, then turn to look threateningly at the only human in their view, carelessly out of cover.
There’s only one thing left that the Commander can think to do. Radio a coded distress burst to Sq. Othnieltcs, who gamely breaks off from the careful advance with Sq. Bhagpuss up the right flank, and dashes nearly his full MEC suited distance, smashing through a window with great fanfare and looming in the center of the room, head nearly scraping the ceiling.
The servo-motors in the suit are too stressed from the dash to actually operate the minigun, so all we can do now is pray.
Sq. Bhagpuss, suddenly left alone (with only one alien in sight, and two more invisible ones that could be -anywhere-), with Sq J3w3l still working her way down from the roof, goes into Overwatch behind the trunk of a car…
The alien in front ignores Sq. Othnieltcs and fires furiously at the caught-out-of-position Sq. Wolf, critical hitting him for 6 points out of his 7 health bars…
The Thin Man ducks away from Sq. Bhagpuss again, eliciting a hail of overwatch fire, which still misses.
Back in the building, the second alien has, thankfully, taken the bait and fires at Sq. Othnieltcs…
The floating alien outside throws the other entrance open and fires at Sq. Othnieltcs (yes!)
…and misses! (YES!)
Just then, a strange sound is heard outside, as the first of the invisible creatures reveals itself.
Right next to Sq. Bhagpuss.
Is this the end for our intrepid heroes, foolishly thinking they could go anywhere without Sgt. “Bad Luck” Izlain?
Stay tuned next post for the heart-stopping conclusion to Operation Blind Thunder!