(Anybody in the soldier queue who wants to fly Skyranger 2, speak up. Otherwise I'll just spring another mod.)
A medium UFO was sighted over South America. Interceptors 1 and 2 were launched to engage. Contact via ground tracking was lost as the Interceptors vectored out, but they quickly reacquired on their own radars. It turns out that Scotty alone would have been enough, as he downed the enemy craft within moments of closing to weapons range. It crashes amid the Andes.
With SpardaSon of the Area 51 team still wounded, and hopeful that the relatively small size of the UFO meant it was unlikely to turn into a serious meatgrinder, the decision was made to launch Skyranger 2 and Squad 2 on their first mission.
First alien contact came before Flipside even disembarked the tank as dropping the ramp revealed an alien who was staring at the damage to his ship and somehow hadn't even noticed the Skyranger land. Headdie took it out with a missile shot, and Squad 2 has its first kill. No, nobody fired incendiaries during the day. Somebody ****ed up the coding of mountains in a semi-amusing way, you see.
It takes nearly four turns before we encounter another hostile. LordMelvin opens his career as an HLPX-COM operative by firing a three-round burst at an alien who for some unfathomable reason was also facing away from the direction the Skyranger landed in and the missile came from. A single laser beam connects, separating the alien's head from its shoulders.
More turns pass in relative silence. The rookies aren't as quick as the veterans yet. LordMelvin moves towards the breached hull on this side of the alien ship. He spots another alien and takes it down with a single beam, fired from the shoulder. Despite a lowish number of TUs in comparison to some of the other Rookies, he's showing considerable promise so far. Ravenholme spots another alien lurking in the shadow of the UFO.
It only takes quick burst to kill it. The little grey bastards have lost a lot of their bite since we got Laser Rifles. (Note from the future: this was a stupid thing to say.)
Another alien appears and takes a couple of shots at LordMelvin, but his aim is off and he ends up hitting nothing but rocks. IronBeer moves in and takes a few shots, but it's a no-hitter. LordMelvin goes in next and finishes it.
One of the aliens we assumed dead in the crash woke up. It scared the hell out of IronBeer, but it didn't grab its gun before coming to its feet, and IronBeer discovers that whatever their technical achievements, a Grey can't hit somebody for crap. IronBeer pulls out his Stun Rod and zaps the bastard. EAT WATTAGE, WORM!
One of the aliens attempts to conduct a psi attack on Mjn.Mixael and force him to panic. It doesn't work.
There's only one working lift aboard the alien ship. Turambar prepares to ascend. He arrives on the top floor and gets immediately plasma'd in the face by an alien who's camping the lift. Shameful dishonorable tactics!They saved Goober5000's brain!
But not his ability to carry a heavy weapon. Goober5001 ascends the lift after Turambar. The alien's aim is low this time, and the round impacts the chestplate of Goober's armor. The armor stops it cold and Goob is uninjured. He expresses his displeasure at being shot with a quick auto burst that kills the alien, then descends again to clear the way for Ravenholme and LordMelvin to set up overwatch on the upper level.
Another alien emerges to take a shot at Ravenholme. It demonstrates exceptionally poor aim worthy of an HLPX-COM Rookie, missing three shots at five squares away in an enclosed space. Ravenholme fires back, showing considerably better aim.
LordMelvin attempts to advance down the hallway he was guarding, only to discover a rather troublesome problem: the floor blew out along with the side of the alien craft when it was shot down. That hallway is impassable.
The alien's psi attacks finally find a purchase; Ravenholme freezes up and blocks further progress. IronBeer, frustrated, and wary of a possible berserk episode, requests permission to hit him with the Stun Rod; but Headdie denies it. (Apparently, you can't use melee weapons on friendlies.)
Next to ride the derpout train is LordMelvin, who panics after two separate psi attacks on him. An alien and Ravenholme have a frank exchange of views at range of three squares. Two plasma shots and a laser beam later, neither of them has hit. Then psi attacks panic Ravenholme and Berserk IronBeer (who fortunately never turns around to see Goober behind him).
Ravenholme and IronBeer cease responding to their comrades on the radio, even as Ravenholme takes a plasma hit. Both of them briefly space out and Goober notes that IronBeer actually struck him with his fist, but nothing comes of it. A moment later both are in a panic again. Ravenholme is injured and weaponless, but nobody can get to him to treat him and he's frozen up.
(Both of them were briefly mind-controlled, but Ravenholme had dropped his gun and IronBeer's primary weapon in hand was a Stun Rod; the aliens don't seem to get how to use melee weapons and didn't notice he had a laser rifle in his other hand/didn't turn around to see Goober...or he failed his panic check for the aliens, too.)
Ravenholme is slowly bleeding out a couple of turns later, but hasn't been shot again. Goober rushes forward to treat him quickly when IronBeer briefly regains his senses and moves out of the way, then ducks back. Ravenholme, patched up, recovers his wits and his rifle, and pushes forward. CommanderZane slaps IronBeer as he passes, but the babbling soldier is in his own world.
Ravenholme then goes nuts again, screaming about aliens coming through the walls and spies sapping his sanity, and then abruptly sprays lasers everywhere, one of which hits Goober. CommanderZane immediately patches Goober up, but this nonsense has stretched Goob's temper to the breaking point. He returns fire. It misses, but being fired on by a friendly temporarily snaps Ravenholme out if it.
Ravenholme, once more himself, pushes into the UFO's command center. A single alien stands there. He will not do so long. Ravenholme, screaming bloody vengeance, takes the alien down with a burst of full auto...and is fired upon by another. Fortunately, two rounds miss and one is stopped by his armor.
Ravenholme ducks back into the hall and deliberately drops his weapon, aware that he may not be mentally functional soon. Goober advocates throwing a grenade into the room, but CommanderZane pulls his stun rod. “No! I want this bastard alive!” IronBeer chimes in, having also recovered his wits, and agrees.
One of the aliens emerges and shoots CommanderZane twice in the chest a second later, wounding him. CommanderZane will not be stopped by such petty matters as a sucking chest wound (seriously, he got screwed up pretty bad and was hanging on with two or three HP) and chases the alien several feet back through the door before hitting it with his stun rod. Then he grabs a corner. Goober is moments behind him, and spots the last alien. This one will not escape. Goober guns it down.
Mission Complete. The alien IronBeer stunned did not survive the return flight to Dekker's Pad. While the actions of Squad 2 in that case are understandable, they have been warned that in the future aliens captured in the control room of a UFO are to be returned intact.
Though far from a loss, and in fact one of the best UFO recovery missions HLPX-COM has fought, this mission relied a great deal on luck. I honestly thought I was going to lose, and probably should have lost, Goober5001, Ravenholme, IronBeer, and CommanderZane. That they survived speaks more to the incompetence of the enemy than it does to anything I did.
Victory, as it often does, went not to the smartest or the strongest, but to the side that ****ed up the least.