“I’m sad to report the General got away, Commander.” – Bradford reported. Commander asked grumpily: “What, the magical force field has materialized in broad daylight right in the middle of a town street and stopped our operatives dead in their tracks?”
Bradford remained unfazed: “No, sir. They were preoccupied with other ADVENT forces in the area.”
“Any casualties?” – asked Commander seemingly with no concern for the answer, but Bradford knew it was all a pretense. He put doctor Tygan’s report on top of other documents on Commander’s desk. It was a short report.
“Squaddie Don took a moderate wound. He’s stable, but he’ll need a good few weeks to recover.” – said Bradford, unnecessarily pointing at the report with his hand.
“Good.” – Commander leaned back in their chair with relief, put one leg on another and invited Central to sit as well with a hand gesture: “Tell me how it went down.”
Bradford pulled out a notepad from his pocket and sat down. He opened it to check up on his notes:
“Since the mission was to assassinate a high priority target in an urban environment, Deadput and Kaiser took sniper rifles. Their plan was to nail the General from a rooftop, while Don and Flashfox would provide cover and scouting.”
“Sounds good so far.” – Commander nodded: “During the briefing you mentioned there was supposed to be a Skirmisher battle party in the AO. Did they decide to abort?”
Central shook his head: “No, sir, they were there alright. They went ahead of our squad and got close to the general. They could probably take them out, but they chose to prioritize other targets. Per your orders, we did not share our intel on the general, so they were unaware of their importance. And by the time they could figure out what’s what, the general has already escaped on an ADVENT dropship.”
Commander has leaned forward, hiding their face in their palms. Wiped their face and looked at Central with exhaustion: “I know what you’re going to say, John, but we cannot trust them. For all we know, they let the general escape on purpose. And one of their officers just got captured by the Chosen Assassin. What if the Ethereals will figure out how Skirmishers have managed to break free, and regain control?”
“You’re not willing to take that risk, sir? Even if it means the ADVENT will succeed in putting up a network of jamming towers that will make it that much harder for the Avenger to avoid detection and perform scans? Even if the person who tipped us off is going to get captured and tortured?” – pressed Bradford.
“No, John. Not yet. Not while Mox is in ADVENT’s hands. He knows too much.” – Commander took a covert action assignment from their desk and passed it Bradford: “Send Tesla and one of the rookies to work with the Reapers on finding where ADVENT is holding Pratal Mox. One way or another, we must deprive them of this source of intel.”
“Sir, you can’t possibly mean…” – Bradford took a step backwards in disbelief: “The kind of storm will break loose if Skirmishers find out that XCOM has assassinated one of their officers!”
“This is war, John. Skirmishers know it better than anyone. War is all they know.” – said Commander pensively, then tried to reassure Bradford: “We’ll try to recover Mox alive, if at all possible. Killing him is the absolute last resort. We’re not monsters, but we’ll do what we must to survive.”
“Understood, sir.” – Bradford saluted and marched out of Commander’s quarters.