“The supply cache should be right behind this building.” – said Kaiser Scheppa. He was a Scout, so it was natural for him to take point during a concealed approach to an objective. Unlike the other three XCOM operatives on this mission, who wore standard XCOM fatigues with armored vests colored to fit an urban environment, Kaiser preferred a neutral brown scout’s coat with a long hood. It was equally useful in protecting from bad weather and unwanted attention.
Skyranger has dropped them off just a few minutes ago, so they did not have much of a chance to run into any Lost yet. There was still hope of quietly evacuating the supplies from the area without having to deal with any resistance.
Now the squad was standing before a tall building. Its first floor used to be a bar or cafe, but now, like the rest of the city, it was in ruins. Kaiser slung his sniper rifle onto his back, and said: “Continue through the first floor. I’ll get us a better view from the third.” – and began climbing up a fire escape ladder.
Leafstar took point and moved through the building, slowly panning his cannon from side to side, scanning for targets. Broken glass was crumbling under his boots.
Tesla followed, and they took positions near a doorway to the street. At the same time, Kaiser approached the other side of the building on the third floor, and looked out the window. He saw a big courtyard with a few rusted vehicles by a bus stop, and some ADVENT supply crates further in the distance.
“Objective sighted.” – reported he on the radio: “No contacts.”
Leafstar peaked out of his cover, but suddenly slid back in, and said over the radio, quietly, but emotionally: “ADVENT! We got ADVENT in the AO!”
Flashfox was still guarding the rear on the other side of the building, but as soon as he heard that, he took that as a signal to begin combat. He rushed into the building, kicking the door out of his way, and sprinted towards Leafstar and Tesla, who made desperate signs to Flashfox to get down into cover and keep quiet.
That broke Flashfox’s tempo, and he slowed down in confusion, trying to figure out what is happening. Leafstar whispered loudly to him: “Keep it down, you idiot! You will give away our po…”
Suddenly, Leafstar grabbed his head, fell on his knees and started crying out and muttering to himself, seemingly in intense fear. Flashfox ran up to him, trying to figure out what is happening.
He looked out the window and saw a sectoid making passes with its hands towards Leafstar. A purple glow has lit up sectoid’s head and hands. Flashfox yelled: “The bloody skinny is using psychic voodoo on Leafstar!” – and was about to shoot the sectoid with his shotgun, but a burst from an ADVENT mag rifle just above his head has forced him to crouch under the window frame. He heard heavy footsteps from the outside, and guessed that an ADVENT trooper was approaching the window from the other side.
Flashfox has pulled out his Arc Thrower and set its power level beyond maximum. Firing it in this state would overload the battery, making the Arc Thrower unusable for a few minutes, but the arc would cover a wide area, making it a nearly guaranteed hit. If anybody else had tried to do this, Arc Thrower would have probably exploded in their face, but Flashfox knew how to do it safely.
Without hesitation, he stuck the Arc Thrower out the window and fired it. It discharged with a bright blue flash and a loud electric crackle. The thud of a fallen body confirmed the hit, and Flashfox yelled to Tesla: “I knocked one out, go get them! I’ll look after Leafstar!”
Tesla sprung into action. He ran up to a rusty truck, taking cover from the sectoid, and took a moment to dispatch the stunned trooper with his shotgun, aiming at a vulnerable spot between the helmet and torso armor. The bukshot payload has turned the trooper’s neck into bloody pulp. ADVENT’s atrocities have long expunged any notion of mercy from Tesla’s conscience.
Meanwhile, Kaiser on the third floor was trying to figure out what was happening below. He couldn’t see the ADVENT trooper from his position, but he did notice the sectoid as it ran away to hide behind the building’s corner. Kaiser pulled out his Holotargeter and zeroed in on the sectoid’s silhouette. Kaiser’s custom Holotargeter could keep the lock on the target longer than average. Lighting up a target before executing it with one clean shot was the way Kaiser liked to do things.
Kaiser kept looking at the Holotargeter’s compact screen as it was establishing a lock on the sectoid, who still kept to cover behind the corner. Suddenly, the sectoid exposed itself for a moment to make a pass with its hand. Purple glow has engulfed the street for a moment.
Down below, Tesla was about to charge after the sectoid, but he heard – nay, felt – movement behind him. He turned around and shivers ran down his spine. He whispered: “It can’t be happening…”
The ADVENT trooper, who was stunned by Flashfox and then mercilessly executed by Tesla just a few seconds ago, was getting back up. Yellow blood gushing from the gaping wound that was the trooper’s neck. The trooper was moving unnaturally slowly, but there was no guessing as to its intentions – it lumbered towards Tesla, who froze like a deer in headlights, paralyzed by fear.
Kaiser stabilized his sniper rifle on the window frame and took aim at the sectoid. The holo mark he applied just a moment ago lit up the sectoid’s silhouette, making it that much easier to line up a good shot, even against a target mostly concealed by cover.
Kaiser exhaled and pressed the trigger. The bullet pierced the corner of the concrete wall, wounding the sectoid in the back. It let out a snarl, and moved out of Kaiser’s sight, leaving a trail of yellow blood in its wake.
The undead trooper has almost reached Tesla when he finally snapped out of his stupor. He screamed and shot the zombie with his shotgun. The trooper’s corpse has swayed slightly, but otherwise remained unfazed and continued towards Tesla, who tried to take a step back, but just pressed himself stronger onto the truck.
A shotgun blast has split open the trooper’s head from behind, and nearly blinded and deafened Tesla. The trooper’s body fell down on the asphalt like a sack of rotten potatoes, finally at rest.
It took some time for Tesla to realize somebody was shaking him by his shoulders. “What?!” – he nearly yelled.
“Are you okay?” – repeated Flashfox.
“Yeah.” – Tesla replied, all shaking and giddy from adrenaline: “Undead zombies raised by alien mutants. Why wouldn’t I be okay?” – he leaned on the rusted truck and asked: “Leafstar?”
Flashfox pointed behind his back: “Yeah, he’s still there, still muttering nonsense to himself. We should probably regroup with Kaiser…”
As he was saying that, a green beam of plasma has dashed through the dark of night, crumbling a part of the concrete wall of the building. Flashfox dashed inside, yelling: “Leafstar, you alright?!”
Tesla felt his blood boiling and growled through clenched teeth: “Okay, that does it, the skinny bastard dies!” – and ran towards the origin point of the plasma beam on the first floor of another tall building nearby.
Tesla jumped inside through a window, breaking the glass with his body, and saw a wounded sectoid just a few steps away. Yellow blood was running down its back and leg. The sectoid snarled and tried to point its wrist-mounted plasma blaster at Tesla.
“Too slow, you ****!” – yelled Tesla, jumping at the sectoid and slicing it with his sword he pulled from his back in one sweeping motion. At the last moment the sectoid tried to protect itself with its arm, and the sword cut through the plasma blaster, the arm under it, and finally through sectoid’s skull it tried to protect. The sectoid collapsed to the floor.
“That’s what you get.” – said Tesla with satisfaction and sheathed his sword. He looked around making sure he’s safe for the moment, and stashed the remains of the sectoid’s weapon into his backpack. No way it can be fixed, but the eggheads on the Avenger would give anything to take a look at the alien plasma technology.