Interlude 3

XCOM HQ

“Attention to award!”

As Maxwell issued the command, the formation of soldiers snapped to attention, and Maxwell continued. “When your name is called, please fall out and take position in front of the formation to receive your award.

“Captain Gustavo Blacksmith, to receive the Global Campaign Medal, front and center.

“Captain Mister Coach, to receive the Global Campaign Medal, front and center.

“Squaddie Hackle Stacker, to receive the Urban Operations Pin, front and center.”

The 3 soldiers fell out of formation and assembled in a small group in front of Colonel Ravenshaw, who pinned the medals to their dress uniforms. Maxwell saw she had become far more adept at it, managing to get the medals to stick on the first try. After all 3 soldiers, she stepped back. The three saluted her, which she rapidly returned and dropped, and automatically they turned and marched off, returning to their position in formation.

“At ease, at ease everyone,” Ravenshaw said, addressing the soldiers. “Thanks for coming, though I suppose you didn’t have much of a choice.”

There were a few small chuckles from the group, and Ravenshaw clapped her hands and said, “Congratulations once more to the soldiers! I felt it was about time to recognize some of our more senior troops, especially Mister Coach, who’s been conducting operations against the EXALT. Which brings me to my first point: in 72 hours, we’ll be conducting simultaneous raids against the EXALT.”

Maxwell raised his eyebrows in surprise, wondering why this was the first he had heard of it. He glanced over at Talana in formation, and saw that her look mirrored his.

“Lancaster is going to lead Dracula into Nigeria and Coach will lead Siren into South Africa, with both squads infiltrating the countries in the same day. We’ll hammer out the logistics of this the day before the raid, but know it is coming. This will be the best way to finally seek out the EXALT and finally be rid of them.”

She paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts, and continued. “I appreciate everyone moving through the psionic screening. I know Dr Vahlen can be, ah, difficult to work with, though I’d appreciate if nobody told her I said that.”

Once the laughter died down, she said, “We’re sort of shooting in the dark when it comes to figuring out this psionic stuff, but as you all may know, we’ve had our first positive screening! He’s not here, currently, but Sergeant Arthur Crimson was determined to have latent psionic powers. Despite this success, the science team is trying to determine what he’s exactly capable of, which is the main motivation behind the 72 hour wait. We’re really excited to find out what exactly he’ll be capable of in the field.”

She looked over at Maxwell and said, “Do you have anything to share?”

He shook his head and said, “Negative.”

“Colonel Wolfswift?”

“No ma’am.”

“Awesome. XCOM! At the command to fall out, fall out and carry out the plan of the day. Fall out.”

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