html> Ten guys and a staple gun vs alien hordes

Welcome to the third installment. When last we met, we had finished off a Sectoid UFO with no deaths and one casualty, eU)NiCk. People on the recruitment queue will have to wait until more living space is available, so I can hire more soldiers. In the mean time, I stare at the Geoscape and wait for stuff to occur. More pistol clips arrive, ensuring that we'll have ammo until the laser pistols finish. Next, the Living Quarters completes, and I order more personnel, and start work on a third Living Quarters. I order twenty three more scientists, twenty more soldiers, and ten more engineers. The soldiers will provide a glut of potential names, the scientists will help me rush technology, and the engineers will allow me to make good equipment faster. The next event is the completion of the laser pistol production. After loading them onto the Skyranger-1, I tell the engineers to produce, well, more laser pistols. Not much of a choice, there. After that, some cannon rounds arrive, and the Alien Containment finishes. Meh. Next, an exciting thing happens -- the new personnel arrive! Everyone on the queue gets a soldier. Let's check out their stats.

Below is the table detailing them. Here are some personal comments: Woah gets a nice set of stats, with scout-quality TUs and Stamina, as well as decent reactions and amazingly high strength. He'd make a stupendous HW if he hadn't asked for SC. As it is, I'll probably give him bigger weapons and more ammo and more grenades and probably turn him into a walking ammunition depot later on. PeaceableGhost gets another nice set, with amazing TUs and Accuracy, and decent Strength. SS classification. MuLepton gets an interesting set of stats, with decent TUs, very high bravery and reactions, as well as decent accuracy and strength. I gave him a SC classification despite his only decent TUs, on the grounds of using him as a mobile watchtower, firing off opportunity shots whenever possible. Dibbler gets another good stat set, with high points being bravery and accuracy. I gave him a G classification.

Statistic Woah PeaceableGhost MuLepton Dibbler
TUs 58 59 54 51
Stamina 70 59 41 41
Health 25 26 32 31
Bravery 10 20 60 60
Reactions 46 31 60 33
Accuracy 49 67 50 62
Throwing Accuracy 57 70 72 62
Strength 40 30 30 24

Since there are now more named soldiers than space on the plane, we'll have to rotate missions. TheCheeseManCan, SnK-Arcbound, ZerG~LinG and Decay are thrown off the plane in favor of the four new recruits. The squad on the plane now consists of: Convider, Kevin, Epoch, Endersshadow, Desert Demon, Dibbler, MuLepton, eU)NiCk, PeaceableGhost and Woah. The next event is a large waiting period, followed by the sighting of a Large(yikes) UFO flying around. Since there's no way on earth that my Interceptors can take it down, the idea is to follow it until it lands, then attack it. Unfortunately, the squad consists of half rookies, half veterans. We'll see if the rookies can perform! However, tracking is soon lost, due to the UFO's high speed. I'll try to find where it landed. After almost nine hours of scouring Europe and Iceland, nothing shows up. Looks like that UFO is one fish that slipped the net, if you will. After that rather abortive event, the second Laser Pistol manufacturing completes, so I load up the Skyranger-1 with enough to give everyone one, then sell the rest and order up ten more. Next, the Large Radar System completes at .php, so I scrap the small one. After that, the Laboratory completes, but to fill it, I need more living quarters. After that, research on Alien Alloys completes, and I start research on Personal Armor.

Hurrah, more cash!Another set of Laser Pistols finishes, but instead of making more, I wait for Personal Armor to complete to I can make a set of that. At this point, January ends, and February begins. At the end of each month, the Council of Funding Nations takes a look at how many points you got in the month, by killing aliens, taking their loot, etc. then compares it to how many points the Aliens got by killing your men, flying around unmolested, successfully Terrorizing cities (EE's note: NEVER EVER EVER ignore a Terror site. EVER. I don't care if you have one guy with six bullets, FIND A WAY TO WIN.), etc. See the image for details on how much more cash we get each month. After that, the Living Quarters completes, and I order up as many Scientists as I can afford, that is to say, thirty of them. As soon as I do so, Personal Armor finishes researching, and I order up ten sets of it. Next, another Large(eek) UFO appears, soaring high above Africa and going over twice as fast as my Interceptors can. Maybe, if we're lucky, it'll land. With the interceptor tailing it, the enormous UFO flies east into China, and then flies over India. I dispatch a second Interceptor to make sure it doesn't get away, and then... Bam!

AAAAHHHHHHHHHHOur first Terror mission! It looks like that large UFO was actually a Terror ship. It lands in India, and starts terrorizing Karachi. I immediately dispatch the Skyranger-1, full of trepidation. Although (thank God) it won't be a night mission, Terror missions are no fun to do with half your squad being untried Rookies. Here's the interesting thing about Terror missions: the Aliens work in pairs. Each Alien type has a second Support alien that it uses in Terror missions. Since we're only in the second month, I think it would be unlikely that we will fight Snakemen and Crysshalids. If we do, though, I think we will likely die. I think it more likely that we will fight Sectoids and Cyberdiscs, floating UFO-like tanks that fire Heavy Plasma and explode on death, or Floaters and Reapers, huge, bestial aliens that fight in melee. With no armor, we can probably expect some losses. My plan is to be cautious, use buildings as sniper posts, and advance leap-frog style, two squaddies kneeling and covering two other squaddies who move up and kneel. Here goes.

Epoch: Secret alien sympathizer?  Or what?I equip everyone with a laser pistol in one hand and a grenade in the other, except for Enders and Desert Demon. Enders gets the autocannon, Desert Demon gets rockets. Upon landing, directly in front of the Skyranger-1 are some low buildings, and a Floater. That means Reapers. Reapers, as previously noted, are big melee fighters. Now my plan is to take the high ground and narrow alleyways, avoiding contact with the enormous aliens. I take the tank off the ramp and look around. Apart from said Floater, no other aliens are in sight. Epoch decides to "take care" of the Floater, and fires off two autoshots from his laser pistol. Out of six laser shots, one hits the wall, another the ground, two the Floater, killing it, another the wall behind the Floater and then, get this, one flying through a window and killing the Civilian that was behind it. Yes sir, Epoch is responsible for killing an innocent civilian. This hurts, people. Not only did I lose fifty or points for killing it, I also didn't gain the fifty for potentially saving that civilian! See if I take Epoch on any more missions! He has to redeem himself considerably to make up for that. As I start deplaning the troops, forming a block around the exit ramp, Convider spots a Floater hiding in an orchard a little ways away from the Skyranger-1. He takes it out with a few autoshots. End turn.

After a bunch of hidden movements and the death scream of another civilian (grr) I begin to move through the city. Kevin and eU)NiCk go through a building to the far top edge of the map, planning to circle around and pick off unaware aliens. Endersshadow, Desert Demon, Convider and Woah are going to head down the left edge of the map, through some large buildings. Epoch was democratically elected to be point guard for the squad going towards the center of the map, and blasts a hole in the wall. MuLepton, PeaceableGhost and Dibbler are the ones going to said center of the map, along with the Tank, who so far hasn't seen any more aliens. Seems like they're all on the right or bottom parts of the city. End turn.

You know it's a dangerous kaboom when there are skulls in the fire.Two more death screams. Great. Aliens reveal themselves, though, as Woah fires off an opportunity shot (missing) at a Reaper that knocked down a wall. Some Floaters floated around, too. On my turn, Enders and Woah fire on the exposed Reaper, and miss really really badly. Out of six shots, Enders hits once, and out of nine shots, Woah hits once. Slick. Fortunately, they blow up enough of the walls that Desert Demon, armed with a Rocket launcher, can deliver a rather explosive end to the Reaper. Behind it, however, is a second Reaper. Alien opportunity fire reveals a Floater near Kevin and eU)NiCk, as well as one down the street from the tank. Soldiers advance, and the turn ends.

Kevin and eU)NiCk start dismantling the building they suspect a Floater is hiding behind, but they don't find it yet. The second Reaper runs up through the smoking ruin that marks the Rocket blast, has second thoughts, runs back, then has third thoughts and runs forward again, putting it in the perfect position for another rocket blast, which Desert Demon is all too happy to give to it. Epoch turns a corner, sees a Floater, and guns it down. Behind that Floater is another Floater, and Epoch guns that one down, too. The tank moves in to provide cover, and the rookie squad continues its cautious advance. Meanwhile, the veteran squad advances, Convider covering while Woah and Endersshadow move up. Woah, moving first, spots a Floater, er, floating one level above the ground. He fires two Autoshots, and misses each time. Endersshadow moves in front of him to take HIS turn firing, and the Floater gets an opportunity shot. A blue globule shoots out, exploding on the two soldiers! Messages: Woah, SC has become unconscious! Endersshadow, HW has become unconscious! Curse that Floater, it hit those two with a stun bomb! If I had Medikits, I could revive them, but I don't. Woah and Enders are out of the fight for this one. End turn.

Man, the veteran squad is having the worst luck. The Floater that Kevin and eU)NiCk were hunting shows itself and shoots Desert Demon in the back. He goes down to 11 HP and takes 2 Fatal Wounds. Ack! Dead in six turns. I have to finish quick! Kevin takes out the backstabbing Floater, and with the imminent death of Desert Demon looming over my head, I maneuver my soldiers quickly. Convider is ready to take out the stun-bomber Floater, and the Rookie Squad moves into the street, ready to cross. End turn.

Ooh, not good.A civilian on a second story is killed by plasma. Looks like the stunner Floater has exchanged its launcher for a plasma weapon, or there's two Floaters skulking around back there. Convider has some work to do. Desert Demon falls to nine hit points. The Rookie Squad starts to comb the right side of the map, not turning up anything this turn. Epoch and the tank prepare to come to the aid of the largely incapacitated Veteran Squad, and just when it seemed things could not get any worse, Convider goes around a corner and gets hit by a stun bomb. Joy. Kevin and eU)NiCk start to rush to the area, hoping to finish off the two Floaters there. I also plan to break my "don't use the HWPs to fight" rule and start flooding that area with rockets through an alley. End turn.

KABLOOIEThe Rookie squad keeps searching, but doesn't find any. Epoch hugs the wall and prepares to go in alone, Rambo-style, but the tank gets there first, as you can see, and blows up a Floater pretty magnificently. Kevin and eU)NiCk start getting closer to their goal, but Desert Demon is now at seven hit points. If a Floater is hiding somewhere way on the wrong side of the map, DD's a dead man. End turn.

Desert Demon drops to five hit points. Three rounds of life left! Kevin jumps into the fray, spots a floating Floater and takes it down. Continued scouting reveals no more aliens, and I end the turn, hoping that the on Kevin killed was the last enemy.

I wonder what was stored in there.  Probably souvenirs.No such luck. With Desert Demon now having two more rounds to live, I press onwards, seeking the alien foe, rushing the entire squad to the area. MuLepton shoots down a wall that leads to a warehouse, and is immediately greeted by a plasma blast, mercifully leaving him relatively unharmed. MuLepton flees the building, Epoch blasts a hole in it, and every member of my squad who can reach it starts throwing grenades into the building, and the rocket tank starts demolishing it. By the next turn (leaving Desert Demon at 1 hp) the building is completely destroyed. Mission saved, with Desert Demon at, as I just noted, one hitpoint. Lucky guy indeed.

Yay, promotions.As you can see, we hardly got any points out of that, compounded by the (total) loss of 80 points due to Epoch killing that civilian. However, we got a live alien out of that deal, which turned out to be a Reaper Terrorist. How useful! As you can also see, we got a truly gigantic amount of promotions out of that, even though some of them didn't make sense, because many of them, like Mark4, weren't even there. Speaking of Mark4, both he and Lithium_ are healed of their wounds and are back in action. However, Desert Demon is wounded for twenty days, but he is lucky to be alive at this point. Since I have so many soldiers, everyone on the recruitment queue gets a spot, as does a new personality of my own design. Here are the new recruit's stats.

Now HERE is one ugly critter!

Some_God gets a G classification, with nothing standing out except his strength score. RabidMurloc gets a HW classification, with good strength and bravery. Landon_Fox, too, gets a HW, with good strength and super reactions. Haike nabs a G classification, with ugly bravery and low accuracy. Commander_Keen gets a G classification, also having a horrible bravery score (I am recruiting such cowards!) but having decent accuracy, good strength and good health. NtN-Scissors gets a G, with good bravery. Primal gets a HW classification, having great TUs, super bravery and strength, and very respectable accuracy. Wow. Odin's Raven and Avail, the last two on the queue at this time, get G classifications, both having good stats. Finally, the new fictional character, Leslie, gets a SC classification due to high TUs and Reactions.

Statistic Some_God RabidMurloc Landon_Fox Haike Commander_Keen NtN-Scissors Primal Odin's Raven! Avail Leslie
TUs 56 55 52 54 56 50 58 53 55 57
Stamina 56 61 53 62 47 46 54 56 67 57
Health 33 37 40 28 39 25 37 32 29 32
Bravery 30 50 40 10 10 40 60 60 50 20
Reactions 45 35 59 48 32 31 31 30 36 49
Accuracy 44 59 51 40 53 41 63 57 47 64



68 76 64 61 52 61 77 65 70 56
Strength 36 34 38 25 33 28 40 21 25 31

Some other classification-related notes: due to all the recent promotions, I have looked over the stats and have decided to reclassify some soldiers. Here are the changes: Epoch has changed from G to SC, due to his reactions. Kevin has changed from G to SS, because of his now-higher accuracy. Desert Demon has changed from G to SS because of his accuracy. With all of that out of the way, it's time to change the lineup on the Skyranger-1. The squad for the next mission is as follows: Some_God, RabidMurloc, Odin's Raven!, ZerG~LinG, Mark4, Haike, Landon_Fox, PeaceableGhost, MuLepton, and Leslie. This setup gives Mark4 a chance to do his thing, and also gives the traitorous Dane another chance. The rest of them are still rookies. I sit back and await the next event.

Yet another call rang out. Kevin got out of his bunk, expecting another UFO touched down in some field. Surprisingly, fighting aliens got very boring very quickly. As the squad assembled, with some of the new rookies who had arrived earlier in tow (Kevin had questioned them; they were, indeed, internet geeks. He resolved to have a talk with General General Eldritch as soon as he could.), Enders, as the commanding officer of the squad, said: "Folks, this is no normal mission. A large UFO has landed in, uh, Karachi, India. Floaters are roaming around killing civilians at will, and reports of some huge alien species that rips walls down with its bare hands have begun circling. Our info squad has kept it quiet, but we gotta act fast. Everyone aboard."

The Skyranger-1 hovered low over the burning city, screams of dying humans barely reaching the ears of the squaddies. Kevin fidgeted with his new weapon, a laser pistol. He had never had to work to save anothers life before. Well, except his fellow squaddies. The Skyranger-1 touched down, and the tank rolled off. A Floater was hanging around a building. Epoch, reacting with the reflexes that made him such an asset, fired off two bursts: zap-zap-zap, zap-zap-zap. The Floater went down, but one yellow line went through a window, and a human scream followed. The squad coughed.

"Zat is, uh, how you zay, um, oh shit?" Epoch asked, embarrassed. Kevin sighed. "You bastard!" Enders raged. "You just shot a civvie! Alright, everybody, here's the plan. Convider, Desert Demon, Woah and I are going that way," Enders pointed around the side of the Skyranger-1. "Kevin, take the brit here, and-" At this point, eU)NiCK interrupted.
"I am not British," he said in a thick Austrian accent. "I am from Austria." Silence followed.
"Okay, Kevin, take the Terminator here and go up through those buildings. Circle around that way, take the aliens from behind. Epoch, you're taking point for the rookies here. Go to that road and cross over, comb the buildings. Tank, scout around." Murmurs of assent, followed by movement. Convider shot through an orchard and was rewarded with the death cry of a Floater.

Kevin shot down a wall and hustled into a home, with nobody inside. eU)NiCk followed, saying, "Hey, boss, I think I hear a Floater. Behind that building." he pointed through a window. Kevin thought for a moment, then glanced at his weapon. "Start shooting the building to pieces." The two of them began to fire at the walls of the building, melting them down, causing the roof to begin to cave in.

The tank driver said to Epoch, "Hey, a couple plasma blasts come from downrange. Wanna check it out?" Epoch nodded, crouching down the road. Spotting a floater, he fired off a burst, searing the alien's flesh and bringing it down to lie in a smoking heap on the road. Behind it was a second floater. Epoch fired, and that one died, as well. Epoch smirked. That should show the rest of the squad. The rookies began their cautious, nervous crossing of the exposed road. A few civilians milled about, not knowing what was going on or why. Meanwhile, Enders ordered a slow advance down the grassy lawn. Whoa pointed. "Oh god!" he said. "It's huge!" Then he shot off two bursts. It didn't seem to do much except remove key portions of a fence. Enders sighted along his Autocannon, and the sharp triple-rap of a burstfire rang out. The fence disintegrated entirely. Desert Demon rolled his eyes, aimed, and fires a rocket. The spot they were firing at exploded, and a choked roar, abruptly cut off, sounded. Lying in as smoky, burning haze lay an enormous, orange, hairy, two-legged creature with huge horns, teeth and claws. Woah swallowed.

The building crumbled. "I don't see it," Kevin said. "You sure you heard something? I'd hate to hate destroyed somebody's home for no reason." the Austrian frowned. "I could've sworn I heard it."

Desert Demon reloaded his rocket launcher, sighted, and fired again, bringing down another of the huge beasts where it stood. The alley they were in was now a smoking ruin. Enders motioned to move the troops forward. Woah, moving first, shouted, "Floater! Ahhhh!" before firing wildly at it. Enders stepped in front of him, sighted, aimed, and was struck by a blue glowing, flashy object the size of a small child's ball. He held it up. "What do you suppose-" he began, and then it exploded. When the smoke cleared, Enders and Woah were stretched out flat. Desert Demon swore. Then he was shot in the back.

Both Kevin and eU)NiCk said, at the same time, "There!" and opened fire. The Floater fell. But before it did, it shot Desert Demon in the back. His voice crackled over the comm. "Kevin, get down here! I'm hurt. Real bad. Kill the Floaters quick." Kevin and eU)NiCk exchanged looks, then began to sprint down to the site.

Epoch, muttering to himself, was the first to hear Convider calling out for assistance. Since he outranked the rookies, he issued order for them to converge on the site, then slowly paced along a wall, ready to duck into an alley. The tank fired off a rocket, and said alley exploded in flames, followed by the death cry of a Floater.

Convider watched Desert Demon slowly sink into unconsciousness, and swallowed. He knew there were Floaters around the wall. He had to act! For the good of mankind, he stepped around the wall. A blue flashing ball hit him in the face. "Ow!" he said, then, "Oh, sh-"

Kevin rushed into the area, and gunned down a surprised Floater. MuLepton shot down a wall, and Epoch gave the order to destroy the warehouse inside. eU)NiCk got Desert Demon inside the Skyranger-1, and the squad, convinced the last of the aliens were slain as the warehouse disintegrated, hurried back to the base.

The next event turns out to be the arrival of a shipment of rocket launchers and their ammo. I load the stuff onto the Skyranger-1. After that, the scientists arrive, and I put them to work. Next, research on Medikits completes, and I start researching Laser Rifles. As soon as the set of armor completes, the engineers at .php will begin to make a set of medikits, which are used to heal fatal wounds, raise morale, and bring you back from unconsciousness. Days pass. Laser Rifle research completes, and I order up some more engineers, 'cause these armor sets are taking forever. More days pass. I drum my fingers on my desk. A small UFO, high over the Atlantic, is detected, but it is going much faster than my Interceptors can. In vain hope I send one out after it, just in case. However, tracking is immediately lost, as it starts flying over the US. Out of my hands, now. Another small, fast UFO is detected over the middle east, heading for central asia. Another interceptor dispatched. Tracking lost. Hmm. If only these UFOs would stick to Europe. Next, the Engineers arrive, and the Personal Armor completes. Yes! Everyone on the Skyranger-1 has a suit, now. Armor absorbs some of the damage dealt by enemy fire, allowing you to survive a hit or two, or if you get badly hurt, enough for somebody with a Medikit to get to you. I start production on a set of Laser Rifles. Another UFO is detected and it runs off. Grrrr. Research finishes on Small Launchers, and I start on Stun Bombs. The laser rifles finish production, I load 'em onto the Skyranger-1, and start a new paragraph.

The Laser Rifles will be our primary squaddie weapon, now. The pistols will be used as sidearms for the HW guys. Next, Stun Bomb research completes, and I load the small launchers and their ammunition onto the transport. After that, Medikits finish producing, and I load those, and start another set to sell later. Then...

AHHHHHHHHH part twoOh, wonderful. A night terror mission (god how I hate night terror missions) with a Skyranger full of largely rookies. Expect some casualties here, folks. Touchdown! In sight of the Skyranger is a Sectoid. We'll see some Cyberdiscs, too. And as the tank rolls off and looks around, my expectations are fulfilled. A cyberdisc, almost right next to the Skyranger-1. We seem to have landed at the far right edge of the map. Time to act! And act we do. As the tank rolls off the ramp to make way for troops, a plasma opportunity shot flies out from somewhere in the dark, and destroys the tank in one shot, despite its huge armor and health stats. Wonderful. Next, Some_God steps onto the ramp, kneels, and fires at autoshot at the faraway Sectoid, hitting it once. Before he can fire a second time, it turns and shoots him in the face, killing him. Aliens: 2, EE: 0. Not lookin' good.

Oh my god, the casualties!As Rabid Murloc moves up a step, the evil sniping Sectoid fires an opportunity autoshot, thankfully missing him. RabidMurloc tries to unload a rocket at the blasted alien, but runs out of TUs due to being encumbered. (Note to self: don't overburden soldiers!) As he jumps off the ramp onto the tank corpse, a plasma autoshot flies out from the darkness, missing the soldier. Odin's Raven is the next soldier to step out, and he fires an autoshot at the Sectoid, killing it, and then going back inside the transport for cover. Some_God is avenged! However, all is not well. ZerG~LinG hops onto the ramp to take care of the nearby Cyberdisc with his rockets, fires, and misses, and then gets shot twice in the face by said Cyberdisc, killing him. Jeeze! That's two dead soldiers and a dead HWP, and so far, all we've killed has been one Sectoid. Not good. Not good at all.

Oh my god, more casualties!For the rest of the soldiers, there is little else to do but move up to cover the ramp incase anything moves up to try and kill 'em, and end the turn. Plasma autoshots from Cyberdiscs and unknown enemies skip and ricochet off the hull of the Skyranger-1 as civilian death screams echo across the landscape. RabidMurloc, the only soldier currently exposed, takes a careful look around. He spots a Cyberdisc floating not too far from him, almost around a corner. He fires a rocket, hitting the 'disc but not killing it. However, the death groan of a Sectoid also greets him. Seems like there was one of those darned kiddy aliens hiding behind the 'disc. Good shot, Murloc! Odin's Raven hops down the ramp to cover him, and Mark4 sneaks a look around the side of the Skyranger-1, and spots the Cyberdisc ZerG~LinG missed with the rocket shortly before his death. Mark4 quickly hops back inside the Skyranger-1, not wanting to risk being blown up by the death explosion of the disc. Haike steps out and blasts the Cyberdisc to pieces.

Eek.The explosion, as you can see, took out a large portion of the wall and, for some reason, killed Odin's Raven!, despite the fact that he was hiding behind the ramp and that the explosion didn't harm Haike, who was actually closer. This is turning really ugly. PeaceableGhost and MuLepton leapt off the ramp, double teaming the Cyberdisc that RabidMurloc hit with a rocket. Its death explosion blew up the rest of the wall and part of the street. Good thing we don't have to pay for property damage! End turn.

Two more civilian death cries, but fortunately three surviving civvies are right next to the Skyranger, so I post MuLepton and to guard them. Meanwhile, the rest of the squad prepares to hunt down the remaining aliens. RabidMurloc loads an Incendiary Rocket into his launcher. These aliens are going to fry. End turn.

Another civilian death cry, but a fourth civvie runs down the stairs to come under MuLepton's protection. A Cyberdisc is floating above the building they're hiding in at the moment, so I try to shoot it down. PeaceableGhost, being the peace-loving glob of ectoplasm that he is, brings it down single-handedly. You go, man! The rest of the squad advances.

Landon_Fox, left as a rearguard, spots a Cyberdisc floating behind our men, and fires a rocket at it. He misses, and hits the wall in front of him, wasting a rocket, destroying his cover, and exposing himself to the 'disc all in one move! Smooth. End turn. The 'disc returns fire at Landon, missing him once, hitting a civvie next (argh), then hitting him, bringing him to half health with some fatal wounds. Mark4, PeaceableGhost and Leslie move up to save him. Leslie and Peaceable doubleteam the 'disc, with Peaceable getting the kill. Mark4 runs up and medikits Landon. The rest of the squad -- Haike and RabidMurloc -- keep hunting for Sectoids. End turn.

so horrible ;_;Leslie spots a Sectoid, standing triumphantly over the bodies of two civilians, but doesn't have enough TUs to act on it. PeaceableGhost moves in to assist, as Mark4 tries to climb up some ruined stairs. Haike and RabidMurloc spot a Cyberdisc, with Haike having a respectable 50% hit ratio against it with his fire, but RabidMurloc succeeds only in igniting a storefront with his rocket. At this time, it would be good to look at the state of the city, as shown in the image. Pretty horrible collateral damage. End turn.

Leslie gets shot by the Sectoid, but her armor takes the damage. A second Sectoid shows up and then vanishes. Peaceable goes inside the warehouse to hook up with MuLepton, while Mark4 and Landon maneuver themselves. MuLepton finally gives up trying to herd the civilians together and joins the alien hunting. The Cyberdisc Haike and RabidMurloc were fighting pulls off a wonderful disappearing trick, and is nowhere to be seen. So far, the count of living aliens stands at two Sectoids and one Cyberdisc. Here goes. End turn.

MuLepton is FIRED.And just when it seems that things couldn't get any worse, when you had hit the metaphorical bottom of the barrel, the barrel reveals that its bottom actually contains another barrel, leading a private and fascinating life of its own, and that barrel has a bottom, too, and you just hit it. MuLepton, despite his good stats, apparently has all the willpower of a jellyfish, and falls under alien control. He was paired up with PeaceableGhost, and MuLepton promptly shoots him. R.I.P, Peaceable, you can finally live up to your name. And as if THAT weren't bad enough, Mark4 gets shot and falls unconscious. Thankfully, Leslie is right there with a Medikit, but it looks like Mark4 is out of the mission until Leslie can bring him around. Haike and RabidMurloc spot a Sectoid, and RabidMurloc brings it down with a really really big rocket. The thing destroyed an entire street, and that Cyberdisc that had been skulking around, and that explosion pretty much turned that entire screen into a smoking ruin. End turn.

MuLepton is ANGRY about being FIRED.Hoo, boy. Leslie brings Mark4 back to the realm of the living, and he starts rearming himself. MuLepton, although no longer under alien control, is so distraught over his betrayal of PeaceableGhost that he starts shooting boxes for no reason which is, really, preferable to him shooting his teammates for no reason. Leslie fires at a Sectoid nearby, but her aim is terribly impaired by the Medikit I forgot to remove from her left hand. Landon_Fox tries to contribute by performing his favorite trick: blowing up a wall with a rocket. Now, at least, the Sectoid won't have any cover when it kills us. End turn.

Fire pretty!Well, it didn't kill us. It shot, missed, and ran into a building. A second sectoid shot, missed, and ran into a room right next to MuLepton. Speaking of MuLepton, his Crazy Level has been downgraded from Beserker Red to Panicky Orange, and he is now sitting gibbering by a box. Not wanting to play silly games with the first Sectoid, Landon Fox fires his last rocket, an Incendiary, into the room it's hiding it. It will either die or come out, and Leslie has an entire round in which to cover it. Mark4 tries to get to one of the two doors that sneaky Sectoid can come out of, hoping to save MuLepton. End turn.

Such devastation!Sadly, Leslie never got the chance to take out the burning Sectoid, as she was killed by the Sectoid hiding in the room to her left. Poor Leslie: we never knew her. Take a look at the amazing damage dealt to the city, by the way. Mark4 hops out and avenges Leslie by killing the Sectoid that brought her down, and Landon_Fox drops his launcher in exchange for his pistol, bringing down the hiding Sectoid. Haike kills another Sectoid, and hopefully, I end the turn.

Woe!Nope! Not the last one. Time for more hunting. Mark4 steps out a bit, sees the last Sectoid, and kills it. Looks like that was the last one. And so ends the costliest night terror mission I have ever participated in. Four promising recruits, cut down in their prime: PeaceableGhost, whose aim never wavered, and whose steely eye and steady hand brought down two Cyberdiscs, nigh unaided; Some_God, whose, uhh... Well, he could spit forty feet, and for that, we loved him like a brother; Odin's Raven, who slew a Sectoid single handedly, well, he had some help from Some_God, cut down in his prime; and finally, Leslie, the fictional character I had intended to act as a foil for Kevin, died. Also we mourn the loss of Sergeant ZerG~LinG, a brave soldier, known best for almost blowing up Mark4 with a rocket. Rest in pieces, little buddy. Oh, and the Tank died, but who cares about THAT?

That mission was bad for a couple of reasons: we had a REALLY bad landing site, covered by two Sectoids, a Cyberdisc at range, and a Cyberdisc right next to the Skyranger-1. This caused four casualties (ZerG~LinG, the Tank, Some_God and Odin's Raven!) and prevented us from saving civilians until more than half of them were dead. Secondly, MuLepton getting mind controlled was really really unlucky, bordering on some cruel programmer trick. Neither PeaceableGhost or Leslie would have died had he not been cursed with a brain made out of Jell-O. Thirdly, all of our squad except for ZerG~LinG and Mark4 were total rookies. Some of them were good rookies, to be sure, but they were still rookies. Fourthly, I made a few tactical errors, like sending Mark4 to save MuLepton instead of having him guard Leslie, because MuLepton was way lower on the potential target list. Really bad luck, in fact, almost insane bad luck the way the rockets were flying, as well as a few circumstantial factors, ended with half the squad killed and a HWP destroyed. At least we didn't get negative points, though.

Back at .php I compose letters of apology to the families of those killed, buy another tank, and give you some info on Cyberdiscs (no picture, alas): Cyberdiscs are big, have a lot of armor, and take a lot of firepower to kill. They're fairly accurate, and explode dangerously on death. So make sure to aim that rocket for the middle Cyberdisc first. And on a final note, I declare the MVPs of that mission to be the dynamic duo of Haike and RabidMurloc. They, alone, killed one Cyberdisc (and got an assist on a second) and killed three Sectoid, too. Props.

A full squad and a half of rookies had arrived today. Kevin, Enders and Lithium_, being the three original squaddies that still lived (Four still kept largely to himself) questioned them about their past and, indeed, they were computer nerds. Kevin began working up the courage to speak to General General Eldritch. As he walked to his office, the call rang out. Kevin turned, but the General emerged from his office. "No need," he said. "you're not going. I believe you wanted to have a word?" He opened the door to his office, and they stepped inside. On his desk was a radio. He could hear the chatter of rookies, and the thick Danish accent of Leing. Kevin asked, "So, what's the mission?"

"I would remind you that your question has to be phrased, 'So, what's the mission, sir?' if I was the kind of person who cared about that thing," the General said evasively as he fumbled for a pair of shot glasses. "Want anything to drink?" he asked.
"No, thanks," Kevin said. "Actually, I-" he was interrupted.
"Shh!" the General said, and turned up the volume on the radio. "I've bugged the squad. It sounds like they're about to touchdown."
"Where are they touching down?"
"Oh, some city somewhere. It doesn't really matter. Why?
"Wait, you mean this is an urban mission? The last time we had this kind of thing, Desert Demon almost died!"
The General shrugged and poured himself a shot. "Cigar?" he asked.
"No," Kevin said. "This is ridiculous, you can't send rookies out on an urban terror mission. The aliens will cut them apart. Besides, it's at night. They can't see."
"That's true," the General replied, sounding as though he wasn't really listening. Kevin looked frustrated. The voices over the comm crackled.

"Okay, troops," Four said. "You know the deal. Tank goes out and spots aliens, you go out and shoot the aliens. Let's see it." The tank rolled out onto the ramp. "One Sectoid and what looks like a hovering, small UFO to the left. I'm going to get off the ramp." The tank rolled over onto the right side of the Skyranger-1, when a glob of green smacked into it, and apparently hit something critical, and it exploded. "Holy smokes!" Some_God swore. "The tank got blown up!"

General General Eldritch winced. "Oof, they lost the tank. There goes five hundred grand."
"And a pilot," Kevin reminded him.
"Sure, sure," the General replied. He lit his cigar and reclined in his chair, listening to the radio.

Some_God stepped onto the ramp, ignoring the humming, floating UFO to his left. He knelt, aimed, and fired. The alien got shot in the arm, turned, aimed, and shot Some_God in the face, which melted. The rookies recoiled in horror. Except for one. A brave soul named Odin's Raven hopped out, aimed, fired, killing the Sectoid and then jumped off the ramp to land on the wreckage of the tank. Another rookie, name of RabidMurloc, hopped off to join him. "Sergeant," Four said, "Take your rocket launcher, and blow that hover disc into bits."
"Yes, sir!" the Dane said, and then he jumped onto the ramp, aimed, fired, and hit the ground a little bit aways from the disc. The disc rotated. It seemed to be looking at the Dane. He backed away, and then the disc shot him. He fell instantly. The rookies groaned. Four winced.

"Oh, great. Two dead, General! Already!" Kevin said.
The General gave him a slow look. "So what?" he asked, "Didn't the dane almost kill you?"
"That's not the point! That was an accident! The point is, these are people out there, dying! Don't you care?"

"Haike, destroy that disc." Four said.
"Yes, sir!" The rookie responded. He leapt out onto the ramp, fired off an autoshot, and was knocked over by the ensuing explosion. A wall of the nearby warehouse was destroyed, and a piece of shrapnel took off Odin's Raven!'s head. Four blew out a sigh. This was not going well at all. "Squad," he said, "move off the ramp to the left. MuLepton, I want you inside that warehouse. Gather any civilians you can and make them safe. Haike, RabidMurloc, go down along the wall and into the street, clear out any aliens you see. The rest of you, come up this way with me."

"Care? This is war. If I wept at the death of a soldier under my command, I would never have made it to General. Soldiers die in war. People die in war. That's what war is." The General puffed on his cigar, listening to the squad over his radio. "Four is a good officer," he added. "We made a good choice hiring him." Kevin looked frustrated, searching for words.

The screams of the terrified mass of humanity being subjugated by the aliens echoed around the soldiers. The squad moved out, shooting down any aliens they saw, bringing down another two of the strange, explosive discs. MuLepton ran into the warehouse and began gathering people there. Rockets fire and laser bursts dance in the air, as explosions rock the very ground the squad stands on. Terrified civilians rush for cover as alien fire burns and craters the ground. Landon_Fox, one of the new rookies, is shot by another disc, and quickly the squad converges on him, bringing their medikits.

"It sounds like a mess down there," The General remarking, sipping his drink. "I wonder if they can win."
"Of course they can win," Kevin snapped. "But at what cost, sir? I'm sure you know about Phyrric victories." The General only smiled in response.

The battle lines fell apart as buildings crumbled and debris rained down on the heads of the squad. Four fell, terribly wounded by a plasma blast, but luckily was healed by a new recruit, named Leslie. PeaceableGhost, one of the more talented rookies, ran into the warehouse and waved to MuLepton. "Lepton!" he said, "Hurry, we've got to go through that door, there's a Sectoid out there and we need to kill it." Then he noticed MuLepton was clutching his head, that his breathing was ragged and irregular, and that he was covered in sweat. "I can't," he says, "I... KILL ALL HUMANS." Then MuLepton shot PeaceableGhost in the chest, and slunk off into the shadows of the warehouse. Leslie was gunned down by a second Sectoid as an incendiary rocket lit up the building it was in. Four shot it, then fell across the dying form of Leslie.

"They are dying out there!" Kevin raged. "You ordered them to their deaths, you heartless bastard!"
"Heartless, eh?" The General asked, setting his cigar down. "Ordering off men with no regard to their safety, not caring if they live or die?" Kevin nodded.
"Yes! You are responsible for their deaths, and you don't even care. How do you live with yourself?" The General appeared to give this some thought.
"I supposed," he said, "it's because I have seen the deaths of thousands of men. Men who earned my respect and trust. I couldn't care less for the lives of some... Some twenty-first century twenty year olds who sit on their ass all day long, surfing their internet. I suppose working for the FBI hardens your heart."
"They are still people!" Kevin shouted. "You have to care about them! They-" the General interrupted him.
"I don't, really," he said. "Even if they did exist, I wouldn't care."
"They don't exist," the General said, patiently. "You and I are the only real people here, Kevin." Kevin frowned, uncomprehending. The General sighed.
"Look," he said, "You never really died. You came very close. But what actually happened is this; you fell into an invisible field, created by the Wraiths. We don't know what it is. What we do know is that it transports you across space and time. You ended up in a different existence, many hundreds of years before your time. After some careful study of this existence, we managed to get me and a few choice operatives through a few minutes before you arrived. When you did, we snapped you up and tossed you into a place where you could be studied and contained under my supervision. X-COM."
"I... I don't understand," Kevin confessed. "The FBI? The Federation Bureau of Intelligence?" The General nodded.
"The very one," he said. "After you, uh, vanished, I lead the Federation to unite known space. It was a very costly operation. I, personally, was responsible for over ten thousand deaths, on all four sides. The war itself claimed millions of lives. But-" a voice over the intercom sounded.
"General? The squad has returned." The General replied, "Very good. Send Captain M. Four in to see me, please." The voice protested.
"Sir, he is badly wounded, and requires-" the General interrupted.
"Do not contradict my orders. Send him in."
"Yes, sir."

Four arrived, ashen-faced, holding his side. "Y-you wished to see me, sir?" he asked.
"Yes, I did," the General replied. "It is my understanding that half of the squad under your command, that is to say, five XCOM soldiers, as well as our only artillery support, perished in the mission. Is this so?"
"It is, sir."
"Ah. Do you care to explain?"
"Perhaps you didn't hear me. I asked you if you cared to explain how you managed to have a seventy percent casualty ratio on your mission?"
Four was silent.
"No? I thought not." The General steepled his hands. "As punishment, the costs of replacing the soldiers killed and the purchasing of a new tank will come out of your pay. Dismissed."
"Sir, but my family, it needs that money!"
"Captain, you are dismissed." Four hesitated, then said, "Yes, sir," and left. Kevin trembled with righteous anger. "Let him get this straight," he said, "first, you order these people on a suicide mission, and then, you blame him for it? That's evil!" the General waved a hand dissmissively.
"Oh, get out of my office." Kevin did.

Now we add everybody currently on the queue to the roster. Timid gets a G classification with good stats all around, while Dagomar gets a HW classification, with good strength, reactions and accuracy. Both snowyday and Wigum get SS classifications, both having very good stat sets and super high accuracy.

Statistic Timid Dagomar snowyday Wigum
TUs 53 55 51 57
Stamina 51 61 64 42
Health 32 38 28 28
Bravery 60 20 50 20
Reaction 40 49 31 32
Accuracy 50 61 69 67
Throwing Accuracy 50 70 60 54
Strength 28 31 30 30

Now, with the new recruits in, we have to decide on the squaddies included in the Skyranger-1. Since too many greens on the transport was a mistake, I think a nice rough 1:2 ratio of experienced soldiers vs inexperienced rookies will be good. Since we have fourteen open slots with no HWP, it will be five experienced warriors and nine inexperienced newbs. The unlucky chosen are: Epoch, Lithium_, Kevin, Endersshadow, eU)NiCk, Commander_Keen, NtN-Scissors, snowyday, Primal, Wigum, Dibbler, Dagomar, Timid and Avail. Now to wait for a mission.

Aw, nuts.  Less cash.Ahhh... Huh. Well, the problem here is that Februrary is a short month, two UFOs escaped into Asia (causing problems there, notice the two nations reducing funding) and the only missions we got were Terror ones, both of which netted us very, very little points. Still, it's no biggie. We'll recover. March continues, and... Continues, for days, with no UFO detections. Worrying. Heavy Plasma research completes, and I start work on its ammo. Six days later, a tiny superfast UFO is detected and it quickly flies off. Hmph. Would it kill these things to stay in Europe? Fortunately, it slows, and my Interceptor manages to catch it. One missile and it... Blows up? Yikes. I guess it was really small. Later, research finishes on Plasma ammo, we load a few onto the Skyranger-1, and start working towards getting new planes, namely, the Firestorm and Avenger. It is now the fourteenth of March, and there's been no detectable UFO activity except for that one tiny UFO. Very worrying indeed.

Another night terror mission pops up Wonderful. It's in Beijing. We're all going to die. The Skyranger-1 takes off and lands at the site, prepared to perish in a glorious firestorm. And then I noticed something. I only have five suits of armor left, because I forgot that dead soldiers lose all their equipment when they die. I equip the experienced troops with armor, and plan to keep the rookies out of harms way. In the mean time, let's end some alien lives!

Hah, take that, you ugly thing.I equip most soldiers with a laser rifle, a grenade, and an electro-flare. The HW guys get rockets and laser pistols. A few of the other lucky troops get heavy plasma. Here we go. Epoch, being the rather awe-inspiring scout that he is, steps off the ramp first, spotting that we are on the far right edge of the city. Jumping onto the grass to the left of the ramp, he spots two(!) reapers outside the Skyranger-1. Carrying a heavy plasma, Epoch kneels and opens fire. Two autoshots later and the first Reaper falls. However, hidden behind said Reaper was a Floater, which opened fire on the TU-less Epoch. One shot hits, but it is absorbed by his armor. Lithium_ is the next soldier to jump onto the soft ground outside the transport, and is also toting a Heavy Plasma, and he quickly brings the Floater down with his characteristic efficiency. One Reaper left in sight of the Transport, Endersshadow hops off the ramp and takes it out with a well-aimed small rocket. The other soldiers to deplane are Kevin, covering the north, Commander_Keen, covering the southeast, NtN-Scissors, covering the southwest, and eU)NiCk, covering the west proper. End turn.

Two civilians perish that turn, to my regret, but nothing shoots at the squad. The strategy is for a little over half of the men (three veterans and five rookies) to go through the middle of the map, killing aliens indiscriminately, while the rest go south and circle around. Epoch, Kevin, NtN-Scissors, Commander_Keen, Primal and Dibbler will be going south, while eU)NiCk, Endersshadow, Lithium_, Dagomar, snowyday, Timid, Wigum and Avail go straight through. In both cases, the armored veterans will be taking point, leaving the rookies free to fire over their heads. The downside to this is that the veterans are inordinately exposed, but they should be okay. The environment seems to be very urban, with shops, stores, and homes everywhere. A huge two-story building also dominates the space next to the transport, and I plan to post three soldiers there to provide long-range support. End turn.

Double kill!Three civilians die, including one who was shot through a window in the aforementioned two story building. Also, something large exploded a little ways south of the southern expeditionary force, almost certainly an alien grenade. Something's down there. eU)NiCk, being the only SC classified Veteran soldier in the main expiditary force goes ahead, spotting a Reaper and firing at it, but not killing it. Enders, large rocket in hand, steps up, aims, fires a rocket through a window and destroys a large potion of the nearby shop. Not only does he kill the Reaper, there was also a Floater hiding right next to it, and THAT got smeared all over the ground, too. Three kills for Endersshadow this mission so far, way to go. snowyday, Wigum and Dagomar are the three soldiers picked for third-story-sniping duty, as both expeditionary forces continue to maneuver. End turn.

One more civilian dies, out of my sight. A Floater tries to autoshot Epoch through a wall, but since the wall is quite solid, fails. Epoch now has a clear shot at the alien, which he takes with relish. Chalk up another Floater to the dead list. NtN-Scissors jumps into the room to the right of the dead Floater, spotting a second Floater with its back turned. Cackling like a madman, he kills it. The rest of the squad continues to move forward, making use of cover, choke-points and crossfire setups. Dagomar, snowyday and Wigum make it up to the second floor of their sniper post, and get ready to man the windows. End turn.

Noooooo!  Timid! ;_;Well, something, somewhere, shoots a plasma blast, but nothing comes of it. We also, tragically, take our first casualty: as Timid moves up to a wall, an opportunity shot flies out of a store window across the street and clotheslines him. Unfortunately, plasma tends to do rather more than knock you over. R.I.P, Timid, you were brave. Enders, full of righteous fury, fires his Incendiary rocket into the store. Unfortunately, the rocket misses the window as I had aimed it, and hits the wall next to it, lighting the area in front of the store on fire more than the inside.You will burn...  With FIRE! Still, a good shot. More maneuvering follows, with NtN-Scissors hopping up on the second floor of the warehouse to check it out, and the Second Story Squad moving towards the windows, and everyone else messing around. End turn.

Two Floaters make themselves obvious as one of them shoots at Lithium_, missing, and the other floats about in a garden. Lithium_ takes out the Floater with one shot, while Avail, toting his Heavy Plasma, displays poor aim by missing the garden Floater entirely. A valiant effort is make to assist by nearly everyone, with Dibbler trying to shoot through a very solid warehouse wall, and the Second Floor squad lining up by a window. They do have a shot, but not enough TUs to do anything about it. Is this the end for Avail?! The answer is, of course, no. Lithium_, having only used an autoshot this turn, merely rotates a bit and takes out the Floater with all the simple ease of target practice. Primal blows up a Reaper with a rocket, and Commander_Keen, scouting, sees another Floater, but lacks the TUs to do anything about it, so he hides. End turn.

Smokin'!The Floater Commander_Keen spotted before the turn ended hovers around on the other side of the wall from him. A second Floater tries to shoot at Kevin, but it misses and hits a barrel. A third floater, in the garden, throws an alien grenade across the map and tries to destroy the Second Story Squad. It bounces off a wall and onto the porch-like area outside, then explodes, taking out a good dead of said wall, as you can see. Commander_Keen rounds a corner, spotting a Reaper and a Floater sneaking around behind the warehouse. He opens up on the Floater, deciding that Primal can handle the reaper, and runs back behind the wall as soon as the Floater is dead. Primal, rocket in hand, doesn't have the TUs to both see the Reaper and fire at it, so he merely advances. The Second Story Squad gets its first kill with snowyday killing the Floater in the garden with one aimed shot. Wigum accidentally falls down. The rest of the squad maneuvers themselves a bit, but the only known living alien is the Reaper by Commander_Keen and Primal, as the turn ends.

DURR DURR, LOOKIE ME IM A REEPER DURRHah! The aforementioned Reaper displayed all the characteristic intelligence and guile of its species by parking itself on the outside of a window Kevin is currently occupying. He quickly shoots it down with impunity. Meanwhile, expecting that to be the last alien, I end the turn.

Lithium_ gets shot at, the shooter misses, he returns opportunity fire, hits, and kills the Floater that ran out of the burning store. That's like the second one to come out of there. Sheesh. End turn.

Gah! More enemies! Another Floater runs out of the store, filled with vengeance, but dies to Endersshadow's excellent Laser Pistol aim. End turn.

Loot for me!  None for you!Okay, this terror mission was a lot better than the disastrous previous one. The reasons were because of our skilled Veteran troops being, well, quite skilled (MvP awards go to Lithium_ and Endersshadow), and having a great map setup. We were able to take the urban center of the city with a few rocket and plasma blasts, giving us great positioning and forcing the aliens to come to us. The downside was we didn't go out and save civilians that weren't in the urban center already, but they were mostly dead already anyway. Highlights were Enders double kill, Lithium_'s single-handed defense of the west side of the map and snowyday's aimed shot from across the map.

Beijing, China spread out below the squad as they circled over the site, fires raging across the landscape. Floaters and the huge bipedal beasts now called Reapers were swarming through the downtown of the city. The squad rushed out of the transport, rockets and laser lines, as well as some of the alien weapons the scientists figured out how to use, Heavy Plasma, flied across the landscape, butchering the surprised Aliens where they stood. One of the more unfortunate new recruits, Timid, was shot by a Floater before being revenged by Lithium_. The mission was short and viscous, it seemed to Kevin, his thoughts preoccupied with reviewing the long talk he had with the General. As the Transport flew away, he couldn't help but wonder... Could it be the General was right?

I am ending the third installment here. Please use THIS comment section to apply for a job as an XCOM soldier. Any comments in the previous sections will be ignored from here onwards. Thank you for reading.