February 7, 2013 by Daniel
The Commander’s Logs: May 18/2015
We finally got hit with our first major casualties on May 1st, 2015.
As I documented in my last report, initial alien attacks were met with success; zero soldier deaths, panic levels under control, scientific research moving along at a steady clip. That was before the attack on Russia of course.
Panic levels had been rising steadily for the past few weeks, but they reached a head when the enemy dropped a capital ship in the middle of Volgograd and attacked. Without immediate intervention, Russia was in risk of pulling out of the XCOM program entirely – we had no choice.
Despite tensions being high, we managed to get in and out with a precision that can only be referred to as surgical. Our soldiers were barely injured, and despite one or two civilian casualties, we evacuated most of the citizens in the city. The only negative aspect of the mission was the discovery of a new, unknown alien unit; a fast, quadruped species with the disturbing ability to turn their victims into – this is going to sound crude – zombies. We didn’t get a good read on the new extraterrestrials; not even enough to come up with a name. And the science department was oddly ambivalent towards this new discovery; must have been too preoccupied with identifying the communication artifact we recovered from capturing a specimen of the new energy-based Outsider unit. Regardless, we had to kill two reanimated civilian corpses; the troops did it without hesitating, but I imagine the psychological scars were much deeper. Maybe that’s why we lost two soldiers on the next mission.
Thanks to that Outsider power source that we captured – another beautiful stun courtesy of our CQC boy Spike, by the way – we managed to find the location of an extraterrestrial base. Our medic, Strings, became the new leader of our squad after Tectonic had to sit a few missions out, and earned himself a brand new laser rifle in the process. With our hardened close-range fighters outfitted with carapace armor, and Schwartz’s recent promotion to Sergeant – gaining the nickname “Snake Eyes” – I figured we’d have no problem wiping out the alien scum within. How idealistic that was.
We had no idea just how big the base would be. We fought off two full waves of aliens in that sickening green structure. The troops got cocky. They positioned themselves before a narrow hallway, where only a few soldiers would be able to safely go forward at any one time. Tectonic took point, barreling forward to where he thought he’d be clear from any oncoming extraterrestrials. He was wrong – a trio of quadrupeds appeared, practically out of nowhere, and gutted him swiftly, ending his life in a millisecond. When he proceeded to lift himself off the ground – his skin drained of colour, his usual determined sprint decayed into a slow, limping gait – Strings panicked, frozen by the prospect of having to shoot the squadmate that he had come up through the ranks with and rendering himself useless for some time. Not the best situation to be in when you’ve got a few feet between you, a reanimated mentor, and two deadly aliens. Luckily, the combined forces of Snake Eyes and our newly-promoted Heavy, Rory McKay, were able to take out Tectonic and the two aliens coming towards with a mixture of ingenuity and pure luck. He deserved better.
At the same time as this was occurring, I had sent Spike and Stalker westward, in order to flank the enemies from a similar entry point across the map. One of the quadrupeds headed for them, and they ended up taking him out – though not before the son of a bitch got a poisonous bite on Stalker. She pressed onwards, ignoring the pain, but her time was running out.
Strings recovered from his paralysis, patched up McKay and Snake Eyes, and pressed onward; Spike and Stalker did the same from the other side. The trio on the right found a group of three or four thin man creatures – the soldiers on the left found something much worse. It was an alien that looked like a regular sectoid – small in stature, bulbous head, round eyes – but its skin was a deep red colour instead of the usual pale grey. I sent Spike forward to engage, Stalker set up for support, but it backfired – the sectoid, who we theorized was a commander of sorts, took over Spike’s mind somehow. He turned back and headed towards Stalker, his intentions clear – he was going for the kill.
The group on the right had taken care of the thin men, albeit all of them inflicted with poison. They tried to shoot the sectoid commander, but they all failed; everybody was tired from the poison and the length of the mission, close to the brink of death, and no one could find an advantageous firing position. For a second, I thought I’d be losing my whole squad. It was up to Stalker, her hands shaking and blood starting to drip from her mouth, to take the final shot. If she couldn’t make it, Spike would remain under control of the sectoid, able to wreak havoc on the rest of the squad unless we’d be willing to kill him ourselves.
She lifted her rifle. Our computers gave her a 65% chance of hitting the target. She tilted it up slightly, aiming for the head. She held her breath and squeezed the trigger. The bullet went right through that bastard’s oversized cranium. Spike snapped out of his trance and got his arms under Stalker as she collapsed. She died in the arms of her comrade.
It was an honourable death. Just about the best one you could hope for in this line of work.
I figure it’s only a matter of time before things get much, much worse.