XCOM Team GIO IV: Wads of Ghostly Ashes - Noobtubin8er Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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XCOM Team GIO IV: Wads of Ghostly Ashes

Here it is, XCOM GIO Episode IV. Who will live and who will die, that is always the question. For those who are not familiar with this little project of mine, I will give you the rundown. In an effort to work on my creative writing (I do a lot of dull writing for work like memos and training manuals), I decided to play XCOM: Enemy Unknown using names and personalities of people here on GIO (always with their permission). I document the missions and turn the facts of what happened during combat into a creative story. I don't try to sugarcoat what happens in combat and XCOM can be, at best, unpredictable. So, my failings will find themselves on these pages, but that is half the fun.

I am always open to new members of the team. If you would like to be added, please let me know in the comments or via message here or on twitter @brianseavey. Ladies, I need more of you to join up...please..

Now, without further yapping from me, I present the next episode in the XCOM GIO saga.

****

The dull gun metal gray briefing room was alight with activity. Veterans and rookies alike were in small groups, swapping combat stories or reciting inside jokes from the combat training scenarios. Squaddie Jolt the Cynic sat in the back of the room, shooting spit wads at one of the recruits at the front of the room, an act that was obviously starting to annoy the rookie, Ashaman3000.

"Seriously, if you shoot one more of those at me, I'm going to beat the piss out of you!" Rookie Ashaman threatened.

Jolt flipped the small table in front of him and retorted, "I'd love to see you try. By the way, are you the more proper and advanced brother of Andre2k or just a copycat?"

The Rookie started to jump the chairs blocking his path to Squaddie Cynic, but was held back by his fellow rookies Ghost and Wadsworth.

The door opened and Sergeants Gardner and Saint entered the room as the tumult began. "Everybody sit down and shut up!" ordered Gardner, walking to the elevated podium at the front of the room.

Gardner stood at the front of the room, waiting for everyone to take their seats. "I know we are all on edge. It is tough to fight an enemy when you can't pick the terms of the engagement. But we just need to deal with it and pretend we are all adults for once." Jack began. "The tactical analysts have been keeping track of our combat situations and they have noticed an increase in alien aggression."

"DUH!" Corporal Mrkvicka quipped from the back of the room. "It doesn't take a degree in military tactics to catch that one."

Squaddie Cynic leaned forward and gave Mrkvicka a fist bump in response.

"Yes," Gardner continued, "we have all seen the enemy stepping up its game. More enemies are being dispatched to each battlefield and new classifications of enemies we haven't seen before are starting to pop up. I think it is safe to say we are going to continue to see this as time goes on. In response, the Commander has authorized an increase in team sizes. Effective immediately we will be moving in teams of five on all combat engagements. Rookies, you'll be dispatched with experienced soldiers to get a feel for combat with the aliens; firefights are different with them instead of other humans. Watch and listen to your experienced squad mates, you'll learn a lot."

Without warning, the base alarm kicked on followed by the sound of an alarmed woman on the intercom "Sergeant Saint, Squaddies Ace13 and Cynic, and Rookies Jones and Ghost report to the hangar bay immediately!"

Without further word, the five ran out the door, hurrying to the hangar bay two floors above them. When they arrived their gear was already laid out in front of a Skyranger. Next to the gear was the Commander.

"Listen up operatives." Commander Noobtubin8er began. "Gear up on board the Skyranger. You're being sent to South Africa and in a hurry. Panic has risen there to a breaking point and the aliens are seeking to capitalize on it. They are trying to abduct civilians from a fast food restaurant and are using more troops than we have seen in the past. Also, initial recon shows some aliens we have never seen before, so be ready for anything."

The team responded in the affirmative and grabbed their gear, ready for the mission ahead of them. 

Operation Flying Stroke
Johannesburg, South Africa
Undisclosed Fast Food Restaurant

With the Skyranger hovering 50 feet above the restaurant pavement, the XCOM operatives fast-roped into the restaurant parking lot, just 20 meters south of the building. The team pushed north, taking cover behind planters and cars on the southern end of the building. Saint silently directed his team with hand signals, not wanting to give away their positions.

Rookies Jones and Ghost moved to the west, covering a back alley while Ace13 and Jolt the Cynic covered the East. Saint held position at the center of the team, watching the windows of the building for movement inside and seeing nothing.

"This is Saint, cleanup team is in position. No sign of any civilians or..." Saint was cut off by the sound of small jet engines from the west side of the building. Three floating aliens turned the corner, identifying the team immediately.

Reacting to the sudden alien presence, the team opened fire with un-aimed shots, but none connected due to the speed of the new enemies. The floating aliens moved into attack positions, with one boosting itself up high, negating any cover the team had.

"Jolt, bring it down!" Saint ordered, pointing at the elevated target.

The Squaddie responded by bringing his sniper rifle scope to his eye, carefully aiming and anticipating any juke moves it might try to use. The round burst from the muzzle of the rifle and connected with the alien's head, removing it clean from the body while the lower half crashed to the ground in a heap of metal.

Rookies Jones and Ghost both opened fire on the enemies as they moved north, but the floating alien targets were too quick and dodged away from the storm of assault rifle rounds.

"Damn they're fast!" Ghost marveled.

Saint took a knee and removed his rocket launcher from his back. Aiming carefully at the corner of the building, between the remaining two floating enemies, Saint pulled the trigger, yelling "DODGE THIS!"

The rocket detonated between the two remaining enemies, blasting them over the fence and into the next lot of buildings.


Saint fires his trusty rocket launcher

"Apparently, rockets and explosions work on our new floating friends." Saint said into his headset.

The voice of Doctor Vahlen came over the radio frequency. "Yes, and now it will be difficult to determine what else is effective. I swear you and that damn rocket launcher of yours will..."

Saint cut off the doctor, causing static over the radio. "I'm sorry, yo..re..bre..ing..p" Saint crackled into the radio. To his right, Jolt made an obscene gesture.

"Ace, how are we on the east side of the parking lot? I assume anybody else knows we're here now." Saint asked.

"All clear so far." responded Ace.

"Ghost, Jones, take the restaurant through the main door. Ace, shift further east and cover the eastern parking lot." Saint ordered. Pointing at a 24 hour drive-thru sign, Saint called to Jolt, "Take cover behind this sign and help keep on eye on the eastern parking lot and the drive thru, but keep an eye on that alley to the west. I don't want any of those hovering things trying to take me from behind."

"Giggity." Responded Jolt as he moved up and took up a sniping position behind the drive thru sign.

The rest of the team followed suit, taking up their designated positions. As Ace moved to the east, she caught movement on the north side of the parking lot, on the other side of the restaurant. Three sectoids stood over a cocooned human body.

The aliens turned around quickly, seeing Ace moving for cover and dashed for cover of their own behind a car out of sight from the team.

"Three tangos to the north, behind the blue car! But I can't see them anymore." Ace called to the team as she took cover behind a car door and scanned the area for more targets.

Two more sectoids ran into Ace's view northeast of her position and fired on her, missing by inches. Ace returned fire, wounding one in the shoulder, but it continued to move until it was in cover. Two sectoids burst from behind the cover of the blue car, taking cover behind another vehicle southeast of their original position and dodging an onslaught of rounds from Ghost, quickly closing in on Ace's position behind the car door.

The sectoids fired at Ace from cover, two rounds from one of the aliens found its way through the open window of Ace's cover, hitting her in the chest and knocking her backwards.

Ace clutched her chest where the plasma rounds had hit her. The nano-fiber vest the geeks and nerds had cooked up saved her life and she was not seriously injured. But the encircling aliens, the barrage of incoming fire, and having the wind knocked out of her sent her mind reeling. A crushing wave of panic swept over Ace's body and she ran for the back of the car yelling incoherently as she ran. Reaching the back of the vehicle, she collapsed to her knees, dropping her rifle and hyperventilating.

Seeing the panic on Ace's face, Saint acted quickly. "Cover me!" he yelled to his team as he ran over to Ace's position and took cover next to her behind the car. Shots rang out from the weapons of the other three soldiers as they covered Saint's movement, but none found their targets.

Saint propped himself up behind the car and picked up Ace's rifle and put it back in her hands. "Listen to me Squaddie, I need you to get up and get back in this fight! I need you or we are all dead."

Ace looked up at Saint and regained her composure, turning back towards the enemies on the field and taking a deep breath.

One the two sectoids in the east parking lot ran towards the restaurant, trying to find cover while dodging shots from Jolt and Saint while the other took cover behind a large light pole. Another sectoid fired at Ghost, hitting him the left shoulder.

"Gah!" Ghost yelled, clutching at his shoulder and trying to block the pain from his mind. Leaning around the corner Ghost returned fire, but missed just left of his target.

Through the rear window of the car he and Ace were using for cover, Saint saw one of the sectoids' faces change slightly. He quickly realized the sectoid's mind was now being controlled by another probably the one they could not see behind the blue car to the north.

"Jones, I need that sectoid to the north dead and I need it dead now!" Saint ordered.

Thinking on his feet, Jones crashed through the restaurant window in front of him and ran as far as he could to the opposite side of the dining room he had crashed into. While running, he could see the sectoid behind the car to the north, concentrating its attention elsewhere. Jones pulled a grenade from his belt and threw it through the window as hard as he could at the sectoid, diving for cover.

The grenade crashed through the window and detonated on the southern side of the car, leaving the sectoid commander unscathed behind a now-burning car.

"Damn," Jones called over the radio, "it's still alive, no luck with the grenade."

Saint cursed on his breath. "This mission is going downhill really fast. Jolt, I need you to thin the herd for us!"

Jolt peeked out over the sign he was using for cover and lined up a headshot on the sectoid that had just run across the parking lot. Through the scope, Jolt could clearly see the head of his enemy one second and in the next it was gone. The sectoid fell lifeless to the asphalt, void of its abnormally large head.

Having regained her senses, Ace turned to the sectoid behind the light post to the east and fired a volley from her rifle, but the shots went wide. To her left, Saint reloaded his weapon while reformulating his plan.

To the north, the sectoid behind the burning car became distracted from the concussion of the grenade that had just been thrown at it and removed its connection with the other sectoid. At the same time, its previously connected host ran back towards the burning car and opened fire on Jones, hitting his right shoulder and causing him to drop to the floor.

Jones leaned back up just in time to see the car explode in a brilliant cloud of flame and debris. He smiled, entranced by the flames.

Saint leaned his head around the corner of the car, seeing the two sectoids behind the detonating blue car obliterated by the explosion. "For aliens with the technology to fly through space, they certainly are stupid." Saint mused. He leaned up against the car and yelled "Suppressing fire!" as he unleashed a constant barrage of rounds towards the remaining sectoid to the east.


Saint provides supressing fire for Ace

Using Saint's covering fire, Ace carefully aimed and snapped off a burst of rounds at the same target, hitting the sectoid in the chest and killing it.

Saint clapped Ace on the back, "Nice shot!"

The team started to collapse back to the center of the parking lot for extraction.

"Skyranger One, this is cleanup team, ready for..." Saint couldn't finish calling in the extraction as there was a loud bang to the northwest of the restaurant. The team spun on their heels, astonished any enemy wasn't involved in the last exchange of fire.

"Jones, Jolt, take the roof! Ghost, push to and cover the northeast side of the building. Ace and I will move north and west through the back of the parking lot." Saint quickly ordered.

Jones quickly ran to a gutter pipe leading to the roof of the structure, deftly climbing it to the top. As he cleared the top, he identified two sectoids doing the same thing from the northwest side of the building.

Jones quickly dove for cover behind two air conditioning exhaust fans. "Two enemies on the roof!"

The two sectoids quickly took cover and tried to flank Jones' position.

Seeing the tactic, Jones moved to the southwest side of fans, keeping cover between him and the aggressors. Jones leaned out over his cover and fired on the eastern-most sectoid, the inertia of the bullets blasting it off the roof.


Jones on the roof preparing to fire one two sectoids

Jolt climbed the drain gutter as fast as he could, reaching the top just in time to see the remaining sectoid fire on and barely miss Jones' head. Jolt ran for cover next to Jones and fired too quickly on the sectoid, his shot flying just wide of his mark.

Jones used the covering fire from his teammate to exit cover and fire on the sectoid, knocking it off the roof and on top of the body of its partner, dead.

"I think we're clear now." Jones said into his microphone.

The team finished a quick sweep of the area, gathering the alien bodies to take back to the researchers at base.

****

The team exited the Skyranger into the XCOM hangar where medical teams were waiting to take Jones, Ghost and Ace to the medical station.

Commander Noobtubin8er stepped to the base of the Skyranger, waiting as Sergeant Saint and Squaddie Jolt exited the craft. "Good work, team."

Jolt nodded to the Commander and continued towards the hangar exit while Saint stayed back.

The Commander lifted a vest in his hands. The vest was covered in green scorch marks on the front, the vest Ace had been wearing into combat. "Nano-fiber suit." The Commander said. "Looks like the nerds cooked up something useful for once."

Both Saint and Noobtubin8er laughed at the poor excuse for a joke.

"Is she going to be ok?" Saint asked.

"Physically, she'll be fine." The Commander responded. "The vest seems to have taken the brunt of the hit, though she probably has a bruised rib or two from the impact. Mentally, well, I'll let the quacks evaluate that one. She is tough and I suspect she'll be fine in a day or two."

Saint nodded quietly in response.

"I need to speak with you and Sergeant Gardner later regarding a request from the research teams, but it can wait. In the meantime, I would like for you to write up and present promotions to the rank of Squaddie for Jones and Ghost. Get them hooked up with Ace when they are out of the medical wing to train as support troops. Also, see that Ace is promoted to Corporal, she deserves it." The Commander smiled as he walked away.

Jolt exited the hangar quietly, ready to forget about the day. As he stepped out, he saw Rookie Ashaman to his right, leaning against the wall, obviously waiting for him.

"I don't have time for your sh-" Jolt started until the rookie cut him off.

"You've got it wrong. "Ashaman responded. "I was in the command room with Corporal Mrkvicka, watching the satellite feed from South Africa." Ashaman stopped, not sure how to continue. "Look, I just wanted know if you wanted to join the Corporal and I for a beer at the bar."

"Free beer?! Hell yeah, I do!" Jolt responded emphatically.

****

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