25 April, 2015
Operation Morbid Thorn
Alien abduction in progress at Alexandria, Egypt
From right to left, Cpl. Othnieltcs, Cpl. Bhagpuss, Lt. Izlain and Lt. J3w3l disembark from the transport.
Besides the heavily armored MEC trooper, the rest of the team is equipped with the new carapace armor.
We’ve also invested in a S.C.O.P.E advanced targeting module for Cpl. Bhagpuss, which gives a +10 to Aim. (That should help change the odds of hitting the broad side of a barn to something better than a coin toss.)
The site appears to be some kind of temporary observatory or monitoring station.
All is disturbingly quiet. Cpl. Bhagpuss opens the door of the first building and finds no one inside.
Cpl. Othnieltcs fans out to check the left flank.
The container tanks outside look a mite worrisome, with the possibility that they might be carrying some sort of flammable gas or liquid.
Then he hears it.
The sounds of some shifting movement, not from the XCOM squad, but from the building adjacent to the first one.
Lt. Izlain joins Cpl. Bhagpuss inside the first building, and carefully opens the adjoining door.
Inside, is a veritable nest of aliens.
A pair of Seekers, who promptly go into stealth.
And a duo of Thin Men, doing something nefarious to their abductee.
They scatter for cover.
Lt. Izlain only has a 57% chance to hit the Thin Man from across the room, from where he’s using the doorway as cover, but at the moment, there’s not enough pay in the whole world that could induce someone to step in there just yet.
It will have to do.
His aim, as usual, is spot on.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Commander has to invest in better guns soon. Only 2 damage. Everything’s still alive in there.
The alien duo drop into Overwatch. Goodness knows where the stealthed Seekers have gone.
This would have been a good time for Lt. J3w3l’s battle scanner, but she’s busy backing up Cpl. Othnieltcs outside.
And a good thing too, because out of nowhere, a pair of Floaters rocket up with their characteristic scream.
Cpl. Othnieltcs’ overwatch shot misses.
Feeling a little exposed with no ability to take cover, and all these potentially flammable canisters in the way, Cpl. Othnieltcs uses his superior mobility to hustle back under the sniper’s watchful eye.
Both drop into overwatch and lie in wait for the first alien to fly by.
(Hey, if LOS around a corner is good enough for MMOs… We can play the same trick here.)
Meanwhile, inside the building, there’s an almost tangible sense of danger in the air. Like something bulky is standing or floating in the doorway.
(It’s kind of a dead giveaway where you hold down right click and find out that you aren’t allowed to move into the room at all.
Hmm, maybe ‘dead’ was not the best choice of words to use, eh?)
There’s nothing for it but to wait, though. Neither soldier has a frag grenade that would justify moving them out of position, and Cpl. Bhagpuss can’t move and fire his rocket launcher.
Better to just cover each other in overwatch. They’ve got more armor now, right?
The first Floater outside screams its way around the corner, and then screams again as Cpl. Othnieltcs minigun turns it into Swiss cheese for 6 points of damage.
Inside, we have the expected Seeker strike, strangling Lt. Izlain for 2 points of damage.
Guess it’s all on Cpl. “Broad Side” Bhagpuss now.
84% chance to hit and 50% chance to critical at this range.
The angle’s awkward, but it’s a hit!
Though only for 3 points of damage.
It does, however, force it to recoil off Lt. Izlain and free him to catch his breath.
The wounded Seeker jumps near to the door the squad used to enter the building.
The Bullet Swarm ability on Heavies allows them to fire twice in a turn if their first action was firing the primary weapon.
Cpl. Bhagpuss takes aim again, with a 68% chance to hit and 50% chance to critical.
And finishes it off for good this time.
Outside, joint overwatch fire from Cpl. Othnieltcs and Lt. J3w3l takes care of the second Floater.
(Love the corner. All hail the mighty corner.)
Inside, that tangible sense of foreboding is still making it impossible to enter the room.
Welp, I guess we know what’s coming again.
Yep. Called it.
Cpl. Bhagpuss repeats his “84% chance to hit, 50% chance to critical” shot again.
This time it criticals for 6 damage and drenches Lt. Izlain in a shower of defensive stealth smokescreen as the broken machine crashes to the ground.
(His armor, alas, does not have the right materials and surfaces to interact with the vapor and help him go invisible like the Seeker does.)
Outside, Cpl. Othnieltcs advances again, and picks up a Meld canister signature.
The earlier one was lost, since there was no way in hell that Lt. Izlain and Cpl. Bhagpuss were going to dash into the second building (between being exposed to lots of Thin Man shots and spit, and later a practical impossibility when the Seekers were physically blocking the doorway.)
This one, though, seems clear enough.
Perhaps the Floaters were previously guarding it.
Cpl. Othnieltcs will pick it up in the next turn.
It’s time for the pair in the building to venture into the second room.
All is quiet again, and assuming the Thin Men were in cover where we last saw them, the Commander orders Lt. Izlain to move up slightly to the full cover of the pillar on the left.
To everyone’s surprise, a Thin Man pops up from where he was previously crouching unseen and takes a reaction shot at Lt. “Bad Luck” Izlain.
That’s 3 damage of hot plasma pistol burns to the chest.
Okay, that’s seriously taking protectiveness testing of the new carapace armor a little too far.
Wanting to return the favor, Lt. Izlain takes aim for a 92% chance to hit and 10% chance to critical.
This is the previously wounded Thin Man, so 1 damage is all it takes to kill it.
The shot misses…
Cpl. Bhagpuss is somehow just out of line of sight of this sneaky little git and can’t fire.
It may have been a slight tactical misstep to dash up to the telescope in the center of the room and wait for the next turn, instead of moving up to the furthest railing and seeing if the Thin Man was in line of sight then.
(The Commander was generally nervous about moving up too far and finding more aliens lurking in wait to take advantage of a separated squad.)
The slimy little Thin Man repositions itself…
…flanking Cpl. Bhagpuss from behind and nails him for 4 damage.
All this, when it’s only got 1 bar of health left!
What is it? Some kind of Thin Man hero?
Heroes become martyrs though.
Two can play at that reposition and flank game.
91% chance to hit, 50% chance to critical…
…and a full automatic burst from Cpl. Bhagpuss’ LMG finally puts paid to the wannabe alien legend.
Outside, Cpl. Othnieltcs has retrieved the Meld canister and the MEC trooper and sniper duo move up to enter the building from the side doors.
One disadvantage of moving too quickly with powered mechanical limbs, it’s impossible to stop and turn on a dime.
Cpl. Othnieltcs crashes through the first door to find the last Thin Man unexpectedly in that small room.
It gets to take a 4 damage reaction shot as the MEC trooper rushes right past.
By the time Cpl. Othnieltcs screeches to a stop, he’s well into the next room.
Oh well, he’s got 14 armor and health bars to work through anyway.
And the Thin Man really doesn’t have that kind of time.
Who knows if aliens think or dream? But if they did, I imagine the last thought going through this one’s head would be “Life’s so terribly unfair.”
A sniper lying in wait outside to cut off any hopes of escape.
In the other direction, 99% chance to hit, 60% to critical, from a minigun wielded by a ten-foot tall mechanical exoskeleton suit.
That’s all she wrote.
Operation Morbid Thorn ends at 5.09am.
6 aliens killed.
0 XCOM operatives lost.
1 out of 2 Meld canisters recovered.
All in a day’s work for our experienced XCOM squad.
The carapace armor seems to be working relatively well. Our only casualty is Lt. Izlain who has to take 4 days to recover from first-degree burns to the chest and some minor bruising around the neck.
We also seem to have picked up some extra medals. Any nominations?
Hooray, with this post, we’ve finally caught up to the present day and I get to play XCOM again shortly.
I do hope the long interval hasn’t left me too out of practice…