OPERATION SWIFT HYMN
COVERT DATA RECOVERY
Comrade aimed his plasma rifle at the exposed EXALT sniper and fired, the plasma splashing against the enemy, knocking him to the ground. A flurry of retaliatory lasers flew over his head and drove him back into cover, and Maxwell shouted, “Don’t them get that encoder! Drive them back!”
Comrade moved to the opposite side of the crate and leaned out of cover, firing at the nearest EXALT soldier. The center of the construction site had become the focal point of a pitched battle, embroiling the better equipped XCOM squad against the more numerous EXALT. Lasers crisscrossed over the site as Chimera held its ground, even though the EXALT was funnelling reinforcements in via helicopters and keeping them away from the vital encoder.
The lances of sniper fire streaked downrange, the squad’s pair of snipers discouraging movement, and Maxwell shouted, “Oranis, move up, flame them out! Cover him!”
Comrade leaned back out and fired his plasma rifle, forcing the EXALT soldiers to take cover behind the construction equipment as Oranis waded into the thick of the fighting. A trio of enemies had ducked behind cover, and once Oranis was in range he fired a stream of flammable jelly towards them, coating the whole area in fire. Comrade heard their screams as they left cover, the jelly sticking to their skin as the fell to the ground. He stared at the smoldering corpses, the smell making his stomach churn, but his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a pair of approaching helicopters. The rotor wash started to buffet him as one of the helicopters took position directly above the squad, the EXALT soldiers fast roping down in to the middle of the squad.
Comrade tried to shout out a warning, but was drowned out by the rotors of the helicopter. A few feet away, an enemy medic slid into view and immediately hurled himself towards Comrade, knocking his plasma rifle to the side. He grabbed the barrel of the laser rifle, trying to keep it out of his face. The barrel suddenly heated up as the EXALT soldier fired twice near Comrade’s face, hitting the asphalt under him. Comrade let go and kicked upward, pushing him away. The helicopter had departed and Comrade could now hear the sounds of fighting all around him as the squad engaged with the new arrivals, and reached for his plasma rifle. Heavy boot came down hard on his wrist, keeping him from reaching the rifle, and Comrade immediately reached down to his hip. He pulled the arc thrower up and pressed it against the soldier’s leg and pulled the trigger, flooding the soldier with electricity. He immediately fell backwards onto the asphalt, convulsing violently, and Comrade quickly picked up his plasma rifle off the asphalt. Nearby, he saw Maxwell quickly put two more plasma shots into the chest of one of their machine gunners, and Topnotch gunned down a fleeing soldier that was trying to scramble behind a nearby bus. Looking over the construction site, he saw Mister Coach and Oranis trying to defend against another push on the encoder. Another machine gunner was trying to skulk around the edge of the perimeter and Comrade aimed quickly and fired, dropping the enemy.
Comrade turned to the EXALT soldier he had stunned, who was starting to stir. Comrade started to assess his options for restraining the soldier when he suddenly spotted a massive syringe in his fist.
“NO!” shouted Comrade, lunging towards the soldier, but it was too late. He buried the needle in his neck, injecting whatever it was in the syringe. Within moments, saliva was spilling out of his mouth and he had gone completely limp.
Oranis and Coach announced that the area around the encoder was clear, and Comrade glanced to make sure no more threats were in the area. The squad held position, waiting for more reinforcements, though none came.
“I think that’s it,” called out Maxwell, “Does anyone see anything else?”
“Negative,” replied Comrade, and the rest of the squad followed suit. Comrade approached the dead captive and knelt down, placing his fingers on his neck. Feeling no trace of a pulse, Comrade pulled the syringe out of his flesh, casting it aside. Topnotch walked over to him and said, “These guys are pretty serious about not being taken alive, apparently.”
“I didn’t even mean to,” replied Comrade, “But he pinned my firing hand and all I could get was the arc thrower out.”
Comrade stood up and walked towards the encoder site, and saw Coach connecting his laptop to the computer. He tapped fiercely away at the laptop for a few moments, pieces of information flashing across the monitor, when he hit the ground and shouted, “Oh, come on! We still don’t know where it’s at. This is crap.”
“What do you mean?” asked Comrade.
Coach disconnected his equipment and started to pack everything up and said, “Well, we know it’s not in Egypt. We’ve narrowed it down to South Africa and Nigeria.”
“Why can’t we raid both?” asked Topnotch. “It’s not like we’re lacking manpower.”
“The Council countries won’t appreciate an XCOM raid on their own soil,” said Maxwell. “If we accuse them of harboring terrorists, they’ll probably leave the Council. If we raid them unannounced, and they find out….”
“They’ll leave the Council,” finished Coach. “Though, Nigeria already pulled out…”
“If we push things with Nigeria, they might try and convince the rest of the African countries to pull out,” said Maxwell.
“What are they going to do, write an angry letter? We can end this tomorrow. We can launch simultaneous raids.”
Maxwell sighed and said, “I’ll talk to Ravenshaw about it tomorrow. Let’s just get everything together and get back home for now.”