OPERATION COLD PROPHET
“Attention to award!”
The formation of soldiers snapped to attention as Lieutenant Paddon called out commands. He held the paper out in front of him, and called out the list of awardees.
“When I call your name, please come to the front of the formation to receive your award. Captain Talana Wolfswift, to receive the Squad Leader’s Badge, front and center.
“Captain Anselm Maxwell, to receive the Squad Leader’s Badge, front and center.
“Lieutenant Dalen Volkov, to receive the Global Campaign Medal, front and center.
“Corporal Xethyr Gray, to receive the Urban Operations Pin, front and center.
“Squaddie Topnotch Garbageman, to receive the Urban Operations Pin, front and center.”
The 5 awardees fell out of formation and assembled facing towards the rest of the soldiers as Major Ravenshaw collected the medals from Paddon and moved down the line, pinning the medals to their dress uniforms. Once all the soldiers had been pinned, she turned to address the soldiers in attendance.
“I understand the timing of this ceremony is a bit odd, since Corporal Coach is out on mission right now, but since we’ve had a string of successful missions I felt it was important to address it. After the catastrophic loss we suffered in Operation Unceasing Stroke, losing one of our most talented squad leaders and half of Gold Squad to the aliens. But XCOM has bounced back, with one of our newest arrivals, Captain Wolfswift, stepping up to command a new squad, leading them on a UFO recovery with no casualties.”
She paused for a moment, seemingly gathering her thoughts, before adding, “And commendations are due to Gray Squad for conducting a UFO assault against a brand new type of UFO, the abductor, and successfully engaging the new Muton Berserker without any casualties.”
Paddon watched her, noticing how she rushed the last bit of her sentence and he gave a slight grin. After she stumbled through the awkward task of congratulating her own squad, she continued.
“Stand at ease, everyone. I’m sure everyone here is fully abreast of what the future holds for us, but I’ll brief you on it anyway. Corporal Blacksmith is nearly done with his, ah, conversion into a MEC pilot, just going through a bit of coordination training currently, and Captain Maxwell has volunteered to be the next subject for genetic modification. Most importantly, though, we’re going to assault the alien base before the end of the month. We’re taking the fight to them.”
Ravenshaw let that hang there for a moment before continuing. “Operations will continue as normal. Blue Squad is spinning up to extract Mister Coach in a couple of days, and we’ll continue to respond to abductions around the globe. Due to the unpredictability of combat operations, the squad that will go won’t be announced until 3 days prior to the assault. The squad will be handpicked, but don’t be offended if you don’t go. We just can’t afford to take any more chances than necessary.”
Paddon quietly wondered to himself if he was going to go, going over the list of possible soldiers who would be picked. Suddenly, Ravenshaw clapped her hands and said, “But that’s in the future! Right now, let’s all extend a big congratulations to our awardees. For all interested, once we’re dismissed, the afterparty will be in the lounge.”