Posted 07 October 2015 - 07:35 PM
The XCOM Tactical Ready Room was in somber mood. The entire tactical team, on and off-duty, was gathered round newly minted Corporals Wood and Ivonova, only survivors of XCOM's first real Op. The deaths of Haddad and Semyenov were written on all their faces. Bad news though that was, the rumour mill was saying that if the Op had been a failure, which it very nearly was, the entire XCOM project would have been terminated.
XCOM's soldiers stirred, stood and saluted as The Commander entered the Ready Room. "At ease", she said. When they had settled back on their benches, she continued.
"As you know I've been reviewing the combat footage and your after action reports with Tactical Intel. But I wanted to come down here and hear your personal impressions on our first combat op. I know it wasn't an easy one. I want to make sure we have learned the right lessons."
All eyes of course turned to Wood and Ivonova. There was still fresh blood seeping slowly into Natalia's abdominal bandages, but she had refused to be confined to medical. She coughed, painfully, and started.
"Ma'am, X-Ray outclasses us in firepower, lethality, ability to soak up damage, and at this point, probably also tactics. The mission was literally, almost Impossible. There's no point pretending that's not the case, and if we do pretend, we are not going to succeed. We need to address the shortfalls and fix them, A.S.A.P." She spelled the letters out, despite her nearly perfect English.
Daniel Wood picked up the thread.
"In detail, Ma'am, we are expending upwards of two rifle magazines per kill. That's not 'spray and pray'. That's two magazines of controlled fire against reasonably exposed, static targets. Meanwhile, their weapons are taking our guys down, dead, in a couple of volleys. What's more, their weapons strip away the hard cover, which we need to stay alive, in a single burst. The only weapons we have that are remotely effective are the grenades. Even then, X-Ray doesn't die, we need to get in with rifle fire to finish the job, but then it's more like a magazine's worth of fire, maybe less."
Ivanova shifted on her bench and winced. She noticed a little blood on her fingers from where she had been pressing against the bandages. She continued:
"Commander, we need heavier weapons. Ideally what X-Ray has. Failing that we need heavy weapons. Squad machine guns. Rocket launchers. Maybe, for close range work, autoloading shotguns. And grenades. We need many more grenades. They are the only things that really work against these chertovy alien bastards."
The Commander took all of this in. She said
"OK well that accords closely with the summary from Tactical Intel and it's in line with the recommendations that have been agreed with the Council."
The troops leaned in, expectantly. Ivanova coughed again, and asked
"What are the new recommendations, Ma'am. What is the new tactical loadout?"
The Commander paused for a moment, uncharacteristically almost... nervous?
"The Council has approved the deployment of squad LMGs, and potentially disposable one-shot rocket launchers. Also combat shotguns. These will be assigned to hand-picked, specialist personnel only, on a named basis. Wood and Ivanova, you will be the first authorised to carry. Shotgun for Wood, LMG for Ivanova - when she's fit for return to duty."
The assembled troops were underwhelmed. Wood piped up:
"What about grenades. What about standard loadout, for everyone who's not 'hand-picked'?"
The Commander smiled awkwardly.
"Ah, the standard loadout will remain basically the same. We're upping the ammo load to 24 mags of combined rifle and pistol ammo. But, ah, we are sticking with one grenade."
There was stunned silence until Ivanova spoke up.
"A backpack full of chertovy magazines, and one grenade?" She threw her hands up in the air.
Wood looked his Commander in the eye. "Why Ma'am? Why?"
"I'm sorry Daniel. My personal recommendation was for a decrease in rifle mags to 6 or 8, increase in grenades carried to 6 or at least 4, dependent on fitness, and if necessary leave the pistols on the ship. However we had, ah, objections from the Science Section."
"Yes. Correct. Dr Vahlen went over my head to the Council. She was actually insisting on no explosive weapons at all, of any type, on missions with X-Ray contact. She also requested that we issue low-velocity ammo to avoid the risk of fire and vehicle explosions or other secondary explosions. We were effectively deadlocked. I managed to hold the status quo of one grenade per soldier, plus permission to assign rocket launchers to specially trained, authorised personnel only. I'm sorry, it's the best I could do. "
The Commander noticed that no one would even meet her gaze, for a long time, until a hand went up at the back.
"Permission to transfer to the Power Generator section, Ma'am?"
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