XCOM War Journal – If at First You Don’t Succeed… 

PUSH THE RESTART BUTTON

1 March 2015

I was recruited to command a special international task force to fight an enemy this world has never seen. Aliens. Goddamn aliens. They came out of nowhere. I was stationed in Roswell when they first hit. The big cities were hit first. The higher the population, the more likely they became a target. They took some people, but…

The smell is the first thing I remember. It was a kind of burning, putrid sweet stench with an ability to assault the senses mercilessly. The smoke in the air scratched at your throat if you inhaled too much too quickly. And then we saw the bodies. They barely even looked human anymore. The civilians who were not evacuated in time were either taken or…disintegrated, for lack of a better word. I’ve heard witness accounts of large glowing pods crashing into the ground right before an alien attack. This always seems to be their first attack. Once the pods open, there’s a sudden blast. Anyone who gets caught in it immediately falls and turns into a person-shaped mass of jelly. Seeing the results first hand is just as nightmarish as hearing the rumors. No. It’s worse, actually. When I first saw the remains of what used to be a human, I couldn’t sleep for weeks. The asphalt was still smoking when I first arrived with my team. The green mass I stumbled upon looked like it was still twitching. Then I saw something that looked like teeth and I emptied out the entire contents of my stomach.

Today is my fist time actually commanding an entire organization on my own. It’s so easy thinking you know better than you superior officer when you don’t have the whole world looking to you to save them. Being a subordinate gives you the luxury of looking at things from the outside. But when you’ve finally made it to the head of the table inside the house, it’s [explitive delted] terrifying. 

We got a call in Brisbane, Australia about alien activity. The ink on my official reassignment documents were still drying. The civilians were already evacuated by the time we got there. All we have to do now is find the enemy and kille them all. There was also mention in the report of witnesses seeing multiple canisters onsite. Their purpose was unknown. Dr. Vahlen, XCOM’s chief scientist, suggested we obtain as many of these pods as possible for her team to study. I hate coming into contact with this alien crap, but if they can help us fight them, we might as weep use every resource we can find to better defeat the enemy.

Operation: Blinding Shroud had Patrick Kelly, Andrey Dobrynin, Olav Halvorsen, and Kamisi Legetho. All rookies, fresh out of boot camp. Then again, I feel like we’re all rookies in this war. 

  
Rk. Kelly was the first to secure a pod, which was near our landing zone, but an alien got the drop on him and killed him in one shot. The others then decided to stay close together. They were able to find the second pod and nuetralize the enemy, but Rk. Dobrynin was gravely wounded in the process. The doctor said he won’t be combat ready for two weeks or more. 

Before I could squeeze in five winks, I was called to Mission Control. I was told by the great head on the monitor that we need to always stay diligent and keep an eye out for any more attacks. I brewed myself a pot of coffee and set the satellites to “scan.”

It took four days before we got our first hits. Three minutes to midnight. Three more cities on three different continents were under attack. This was where I had to make my first painful decision. One of many, I’m sure. Lille, France, Benin City, Nigeria, and Edmonton, Canada were all under attack. I’m not sure what went through my mind at that moment. I took one look at the men and women ready to fight, and s brief moment of doubt rushed into me like a tidal wave hitting the shore. Two of my men were either dead or severely injured. We’re not ready… I picked France. Based on the intel given, it seemed like an in-and-out operation. Plus, it would give us some much needed extra funds.

I promoted Olav Halvorsen and Kamisi Legetho to Squaddies and put them on Operation: Hot Fist. They were joined by Rk. Laura Longtine-Rosado and Rk. Shaun Rosado, wife and husband. They were recruited just after I assumed command. They looked greatful to be allowed to fight alongside each other. I wish I got to know them better. I heard they joined the war because the aliens killed their entire family, including their kid. I wonder how many others have similar stories.

As soon  boots hit the ground, the aliens came at them sideways with no warning. Rk. Longtine-Rosado was the first to fall. Rk. Rosado lost control and  fired at anything that moved. He didn’t even noticed that one of them had snuck up from behind. Sq. Legetho was the last to fall. The aliens had him surrounded before he could blink. 

“Commander!” yelled Central Officer Bradford. He gripped my shoulder hard. There was an alarmed yet concerned look on his face. I looked around and noticed that everyone else in the room was staring as well. “I think you need some rest, Commander,” said Bradford. I looked at him confused. Then I realized that I was still in Mission Control, scanning for alien activity. I must have been more tired than I thought. I took a moment to assess myself. My heart was racing; I could feel beads of sweat drip from my face and underarms. 

“What day is it?” I asked.

“Sir, it’s March 1st. You fell asleep at the console. Next thing we knew, you started yelling and slamming your fists on the keyboard. You sure gave us a fright, sir.” Bradford smiled reassuringly as he helped me up out of my chair. He wanted to escort me to the medic, but I opted for the barracks instead. Maybe sleep will help. “May I ask, sir,” continued Bradford, “what were you dreaming about?”

I thought for a moment. It all seemed so distant now. But the feeling was there. The terror and dread I had felt lingered beyond my dream. “Nothing good, Bradford. Nothing good.”


SIDE NOTE:

    I couldnt help but laugh my ass off when Laura and Shaun died. I thought, “Hey, let me start putting my buddies on the team. I’ll pick an easy one so they can gain XP.” I forgot that I chose Classic as my difficulty. I totally underestimated how hard this game can punch you in the dick if you’re not careful. The they died. After laughing off my pain, I hit restart.
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