Kromey’s Adventures

Just a nerd with aspirations to delusions of grandeur

XCOM: This is why we send the rookie first

09 Oct 2013

This is a post I first wrote on a forum almost a full year ago, about a particularly exciting recent mission in the stellar game XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I’ve just recently come across it again and have decided to share it with a wider audience. Enjoy!

In Earth’s continuing struggle against the alien menace under my leadership, the latest assault on their war machine turned out quite exciting indeed.

It started as your typical UFO assault – our spy network identified a landed UFO mutilating cattle (seriously – when my guys landed the landscape was littered with mutilated cattle!!), and not wanting to know what perverse pleasures they we were being used for, I immediately dispatched 6 of my best soldiers to protect Earth’s precious cattle.

Well, 5 of my best. “Deadeye”, one-half of Earth’s most elite sniper squad and boasting the second-best mission survival rate and kill count, was still in the hospital recovering from wounds received in a previous mission guarding Earth’s most precious resource: an office building.

So I had 5 experienced and hardened soldiers, and a rookie tagging along for the ride. (Well, his rank was actually squaddie, owing to a recent Officer’s School upgrade, but it was his first mission.) I equipped all my soldiers in the standard-issue black armor, except the rookie, who was issued the probationary red armor – after he cleaned the armor’s former owner out of it, of course.

Anyway, so my soldiers land and survey the scene of horror before them: cattle everywhere, mutilated in obscene ways, with containers of unknown design or purpose set nearby. Even my most hardened soldiers admitted later to feeling queasy at the sight, although they managed to fight down the nausea. Well, all except the rookie – the next wearer of that probie armor will have a little something extra to clean off it…

Once recovered, they set of carefully across the landscape, soon coming upon a trio of elite mutons guarding the door. One rocket and a few plasma volleys later, and the enemy squad went down before they even got a shot off.

Entering the craft, they were presented with 5 options; having previously visited a craft of similar design, my team knew immediately to take the high road on one side or the other, and chose left. Creeping forward with the skill and caution that has allowed these soldiers to survive where so many others have fallen, they eventually reached the end of the short hallway. The rookie, eager to prove his merit, lead the way around the corner.

It seems that 3 separate squads of aliens were gathered in what my intelligence analysts now recognize as the mess hall, having a spot of tea together. Apparently the aliens are not unlike the British (although despite better teeth they are uglier), and very much dislike having tea time disturbed. (My intelligence analysts have promised to focus all their efforts into deciphering the aliens’ clocks so we know when their tea time is, so we can avoid such a cultural faux-pas in future encounters.)

Seeing 4 mutons, 2 berserkers, and 3 cryssalids charging down my gullet, I did what any brave XCOM commander would do: I sent my entire team running the other way at full tilt.

Unfortunately, the rookie had already used half his movement; he could only get back to where he started the turn, and was left alone to face down the rampaging hoard of pissed-off, tea-loving aliens.

His first encounter with alien combat was greeting a berserker’s fist with his mouth. To his credit, though, he was the first soldier I’ve seen stand up to an attack from a berserker, albeit with fewer teeth left than a professional hockey player at retirement, and I began to have hope that he could continue the dash and rejoin his comrades (although I’m not sure you’d be able to call his life of eating nothing but soft foods “living”).

Then he had his first encounter with alien plasma weapons, as his face was melted off and his head exploded. It was a bit like that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, except that he was all three of those guys rolled into one poor rookie. Although the person I have the most pity for is the next rookie, who will have to clean out that armor.

Fortunately, though, his sacrifice meant that the rest of the squad… aw, who am I kidding? The rest would have made it back to the open area at the rear of the craft anyway. It was his blundering into the aliens’ tea party that enraged them in the first place and forced the rest to retreat.

The rest of the mission went much more smoothly: My squad took up ambush positions and just waited for the tea-party aliens to come to them, at which point they were gunned down one by one by one. By one by one. Then they had to press forward to find and then gun down the last one. After that, it was smooth sailing until they got to the bridge, where the ship’s commander, an alien most likely from the aliens’ leadership caste and incredibly psionically powerful, managed to mind control “Cyclops”, the other half of Earth’s most elite sniper squad and boasting more missions and more kills than anyone else. She almost dropped “Yeti”, my heavy weapons expert, in a single shot to the face, but the team managed to take down the alien and free her from its influence before they had to put her down – or she put down any of them.

From there it was a simple matter of walking in to execute the leader’s single guard, cowering in a corner. I let Megan “Whiskey” Black, Earth’s foremost psychic warrior (actually, Earth’s only, since the untimely demise of Sgt. Ruiz, back before “Whiskey” even saw her first action), make the killing blow: she literally thought the alien to death.

And thus ended another successful mission. Final tally: 27 cattle mutilated, 14 aliens vengefully slaughtered, only 1 ear lost to friendly fire, and the rookie armor has a little extra caked-on “yuck” for the next guy to clean out (the plasma burns sear in the juices for that extra little “squish squish” as you scrub!).