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  • Taken out a UFO over central Texas, using the Firestorm - it did a good job, we need to improve its AI to put a plasma gun on it.
  • We're almost ready to make plasma guns for SHIVs; big plasma guns can be manufactured without alien tech although man-portable versions cannot.
  • Hyperwave comms indicate that the UFO mostly contains mechanized units, are they aping us?
  • We have enough stuff to upgrade Dee's armor.


I take Jonny, Melissa, Mary Holmes (I want to see what genetic enhancement does), Douglas and Grant. We're all in powered armor, so it's all good. It's night, so not too hot. The ship looks like a barge; is there another alien base? It's five in the morning so it won't be hot as balls for a while.

Right off the bat, we're greeted with a sorcerer and a MEC escort. The psionic alien is hidden behind an Elerium generator; Jonny fires a rocket, obliterating both. We don't care terribly much about losing the technology - we have examples, and duplication efforts are continuing.

I run at the MEC and shoot at it twice; Mary follows and finishes it. I don't think her enhanced eyes are doing much compared to the controls in the light plasma rifle and smart aiming system, but it's an excellent start for this take on combat doctrine... and it doesn't depend on people using assault weapons like they were thermal lances, although I'm sticking to that because I still can't aim for beans.

This is a supply UFO, but supply for what? Are they repurposing it as a troop transport? Jonny advances. He spots a Meld canister, on the raised platform that goes to the bridge. We ended up closest to the right side of the boat, so we move up the catwalk that way - alien lifts are interesting, they're basically jets of air that push you up. Some kind of aerospike for the nozzle, it's really quiet.

We regroup at the Meld canister, and Douglas secures it - there are noises outside the ship. We know that the aliens aren't likely to abandon it -- although it's a good question as to why -- so doctrine has been set to secure the bridge first, then sweep... although it didn't do much good last time. Me, Douglas and Matthews will breach, with Jonny and the others covering us.

It's weird. I know these people. Jonny saved my life before signing up, even. I just feel really disconnected, this may be what has become a routine mission but we're basically going through the motions. Last famous words, right? "Breach the next section!"

I skid behind a small crate to find the cargo section empty of both aliens and materiel. The ship got seriously busted, so some of its cargo got shaken loose, but... what's going on here? Mary, Diane and Jonny get through the side passage on the right, to find a similar hunk of nothing. Ghost ship? Are the aliens out of men? Is this whole thing going to blow up on us? No, Dr. Shen would have caught that, we got pretty good at finding plasma bombs.

I tell Diane to get up on the roof - there's a Sectoid-sized ladder that we can use even in power armor, thanks to alien overengineering. She says that most of the ship's lights are off and the front section that the ship crashed on is a right mess, but no activity there either. Yet we hear noises... I call for marching forth.

Lexi and Diane are going to cover us from the roof as we clear the cargo section; the reentry shield bubble has completely died out, so the roof is now a useful high ground. Provided there's anyone to shoot at.

I run ahead. Melissa easily gets in front of me, takes cover behind a bulkhead, and points out a sorcerer ahead. I hadn't seen it at all. Oddly, the lack of recognition is mutual - it seems dazed, and hasn't heard us coming. Melissa carefully lines up her laser pistol, perforates its head, and... well, now it's definitely seen us. Lasers are precise, but cauterize as they wound, so even a fatal strike isn't immediately incapacitating. Still, good job - I was getting careless.

Diane gets behind a shield projector on the roof. "There's two of them!" Rather than whispering it into the radio, she shouts it out - the two creatures react to her, giving the intense stare we've learned to associate with mind control. Maybe because of the head hit, both of the creatures fail - Diane just spasms and leans against her hiding spot. She says she's okay. Dr. Vahlen cuts in and tells us that she's shaken, but her brain is still in charge of her body.

The two little fucks are right past this bulkhead, all I have to do is come out shouting and wring their necks. So damn tempting. But they don't know I'm here. Maybe since there's a hole in my head they can't see me... no, that can't be it, sectoid eyes are better than ours.

I nod at Melissa. She runs forward and bowling-balls a grenade at the aliens - there's a green and purple flash as one of them tries to shield itself from the blast. A shower of fragments later, one of the sorcerers is bleeding profusely and the other is dazed. Douglas interrupts us. "Wells! Drones!" Guess this is a robot transport after all. She blinks in a pattern and marks the spot for Jonny to shoot at.

I run forward, shots from the alien disc missing me by a few feet. Empty the laser's capacitors into one of the sorcerers. Stab the other with the taser - it doesn't go down. I'm about to call that I got this, except I don't - wide open from the wells, the drones, and what I think is a dangly. "Suppression fire!" I don't want anyone to get hurt because I was an idiot again. "Matthews, get the sorcerer!"

She gets behind me, staying in cover, and takes the little bastard out with another precise shot.

I duck, but it's too late -- the cybernetic disc and one of the danglies, which are staying in the back -- looks like they're in armor now -- shoot me without difficulty. The armor takes most of it, but I feel my side getting cooked inside it. Jonny takes one of the drones out as it comes out in the open; Mary misses her shot on the other.

Lexi ignores the drone on her side, and fires a rocket at the Wells since Jonny is too far away for a shot that won't risk hitting me - I see a dangly get caught in the blast and not go up in a puff of rocket fuel. Definitely got better armor on it.

"Dangly up here!" Mary calls. She and Diane take cover and try to take it down, but to no avail - the extra armor hasn't slowed them down any.

I scurry to cover and stick the medikit in my side. The disc advances, and dodges the suppression fire from Jonny and Melissa - then takes careful aim and shoots her right in the face. "I'm fine!" she calls out before the smoke clears. Like hell she is.

The armored danglies half boost, half scurry through the roof - so much for a tactical advantage. Jonny takes out the other drone. We're in trouble here. The Wells has unfolded itself to fire at Melissa...

"Everyone, get off the roof!" The power armors don't give us any extra strength, but they effectively negate their own weight - and let us drop from two storeys up and land on our feet. Hopefully. We only did lab tests on this one.

Lexi is the first to drop - a dangly had flanked her. She ends up right in the Wells' robotic face, Jonny and me run at it at the same time, and burn it to a crisp. We're exposed, but the enemy's big gun is out of the fight. "Everyone else, get into cover! We'll take the danglies one by one." They're still dumb, right?

Melissa gets out to pick a target. I tell her to not do anything stupid - she's hurt. "Why not? You do!"

Bradford icily notes that she has a point, even as she does hide in one of the cargo bays.

The danglies take potshots at us as we go hide - we're still out of cover. Lexi is hit hard, she'd be dead if it wasn't for the new armor. Good thing we have medkits... We got two seriously wounded, not counting me. The danglies can't fix their ship, and if we get into one of the cargo bays, we won't be able to get back out without a firefight. We need some way to generate a distraction.

Not me. Right. Not me. These guys aren't dumb - there's four of them, and if we do anything but run the hell away, we're in the crossfire of at least two of them. And they're too spread out for us to use rockets or grenades effectively.

"Let's get out of here."


"Run away. Let's get back to the rear section, the roof is intact, they won't be able to fly there."

Good point, let's do it. They didn't expect it - we don't even get shot at. There's a structural wall to hide behind before we can get back to the rear section. "RUN!"

Mary is safe, Jonny is safe, Diane is safe...

Melissa and Lexi can't make it before the danglies get a bead on us. I sure as hell can't. The forward bulkhead only has one dangly covering it, and it's on the ground. "I AM CORNHOLIO!"

By the time it takes for me to beat the dangly's face in, Lexi and Melissa have taken cover and deployed their medkits. Only one left in the entire squad...

"... Beavis and Butthead? Really?" Bradford tells me that we'll have a serious talk when we get back to base. It was a calculated risk.


Lexi takes another hit when the remaining danglies retaliate. Three left. One up on the roof, the other two are probably trying to flank us out of sight. I wish Kite was here. I wish Vee was here. I wish Riley was here. You know, people who can actually shoot. Not me. I keep bringing a bludgeon to a gun fight.

"I can get him!" Diane calls. Before we say anything, she climbs up the ladder and shoots the armored dangly in the back. Jonny says at this point, so much for the tactical retreat plan.

Lexi hides behind the second Meld canister, apparently the only thing of value inside the cargo hold, while Jonny and Mary move forward, staying in cover. Melissa shouts a "Hell Yeah!" and runs to the fan-lift... which drops her right next to one of the other danglies. I'm about to tell her to stop, then she discharges the scatter laser in the thing's boosters and blows one of them up. The dangly makes a disturbingly familiar sound, and drags itself away - first time we've seen one scared. It shoots at Melissa's general direction, with no result. "It's falling back!"

She gives chase, and finishes it off. "Okay, that's the bridge!" The bubble-shield door is one of the few things on the ship that are still powered up.

"Hold on. We're all hurt. I want a vote. Take it or go home?"

I think I just left Bradford speechless. Secret ballot, so what I'm going to say is that taking it won four against two, and I voted last so rank wouldn't count.

We take our time getting to the bridge, and use the last medikit to patch up Lexi. I'm about to call breach, when the bubble shield turns off by itself.

Other than Mary, we're all hurt - she volunteers to breach the bridge. We have one rocket and one grenade between us. She can go.

"Yaah! Hokay!" She runs in, and finds an intact NAVCOM console, but nobody in there. "I think we can go home!"

"Remember what happened to the last squad, folks" Bradford comments "make your way back to the Skyranger as if you knew there was still something out there."

He's got a point. Mary kicks a wall, and we prepare to make our way back through the ship -- despite most systems having gone offline, it's better lit than the surrounding area, and thus safer.

Doctrine in these cases is to have half the squad run forward, the other half advance calmly and keep an eye out for trouble, then switch, switches happening every twelve seconds or so - this lets us move at a decent pace and have some firepower ready to bear quickly. At least we all got to take a breath.

After all the giant mess that we went through to traverse the cargo hold, we find ourselves practically strolling back through it. The fires, lights and noises are dying down. Bradford reminds us to stay on our toes.

We get to roughly where I said we were going to regroup, with Mary ahead of us, when she spots three sectoids, one of which in a MEC suit - she skids behind some debris while we catch up. Melissa runs ahead of me again, and takes out one of the sectoids.

The MEC doesn't let me distract it, and unloads on Mary - she's down but not out. "We're out of medkits!"

"There's one in the Skyranger. If you take the MEC and the other Sectoid fast enough, we think they're the only aliens left in the area. I can have the pilot run out and bring it, once it's safe."

"You heard Bradford."

Diane hisses. "I got the little guy." She manages to be quiet enough to get behind the ramp and shoot the sectoid in the back. The remaining four of us jump down and surround the MEC.


The alien MEC goes down without understanding what hit it.

After Mary is stabilized, I finally get to meet the Skyranger pilot - nominally she's US Army - not Air Force, Army - and apparently was under strict orders to not talk to anyone except for Bradford. Once Mary's heartbeat is giving us a steady beep-beep-beep, I introduce myself.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Heidi Beemer." She's wearing lieutenant-rank pips. She puts her hand on her earpiece. "And I'm still not supposed to talk to you."

Okay... I guess that's how the Council wants to keep us on a short leash.

The Skyranger takes off to the Texas Rangers showing up to cordon the crash site, and we all compare bruises.

"... Guys, I don't think I should be in charge tactically. Literally every call I make got someone hurt."

"But we're all going home in one piece." Mary came to enough to answer. Before I can reply, she drifts off to natural sleep, or pretends to.

Melissa is finally qualified to graduate - she saved everyone's ass a few times. Mary will need two weeks in the infirmary. While we were flying back, the Canadian government all but demanded that she undergo MEC treatment, and then be sent home with the normal rotation. I have to wonder how much it will cost me politically to tell them to go suck an egg on this particular topic - every time one of their troops gets hurt, they push to do to them what Vee decided to have done to herself. What's going on with Canada in particular? I expected the Americans or the Chinese to be pushy, but why them?

By the time we get home and get our plasma burns cleaned up, it's past dinnertime; we're all off combat duty for a week, but only Mary got seriously hurt, fortunately.

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Page last modified on February 04, 2015, at 06:23 AM