The aliens have certainly upgraded their defenses this time around. Standing guard outside the door we find a muton, sectoid, two vipers, and a new alien type we call an "archon". There's a lot of health in that initial group, and they don't know we're here yet. If I wanted to be safe, I could choose to wait for one group to get separated to make for a more sure ambush. But, up until this point ambushes have been quite overkill. Health especially has talked about a new technique she learned that would allow her to watch down an entire corridor. Anything moving within that would be a viable target, and given her new sniper rifle has both upgraded damage and ammo capacity, the potential here for damage is staggering.
The rest of the team sets up, and unusually for us we'll start off with a boom instead of a bang. Susanne loads up one of her specially upgraded grenades, and the fight is on! The archon dashes off, and meets up with overwatch fire, avoiding any direct shot and suffering only minimal damage from Lovenought and Potassium. The rest of the aliens go into cover, and Health gets a shot on each one, but the result is the same for each. Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss. Gaius and Culise were both on pickup duty for any alien that lived and threatened our position too much, but there's no way they could conceivably completely salvage this situation.
Culise manages a grenade on both the archon and the wounded viper, killing the viper and leaving the archon open to a strong shotgun blast from Gaius.
Three aliens still left. As if things couldn't get worse, a patrol of two soldiers and a codex wander in. Health uses her last bit of ammo to damage the codex, but we suddenly find ourselves outnumbered 7 to 6 as the codex clones itself.
Gaius dodges a tongue grab, but a followup poison blast can't be pleasant. The mutons, smartest of all alien forces, uses a grenade on our position. Blasting apart trees and leaving Potassium, Gaius, and Lovenought all out of cover and reeling from the blast. Inspired by his intelligence, the remaining sectoid uses his gun instead of his psionic powers and blasts away at Potassium, knocking her dead to the ground.
Things looking bleak, Susanne uses a rocket on their position, killing the codex clone and heavily damaging the muton. Lovenought follows up with a risky play. "Rampage!" he yells and gets up close and personal with the aliens.
He eliminates the viper with a clean shot, then turns and goes for the muton, but misses his shot. Rampage over. Good for him, Gaius is able to power through the poison and easily kill the sectoid. Culise eliminates the original codex, but that still leaves two soldiers and an angry muton. The battle devolves into a large brawl as the trooper cuts into Susanne with his sword and the muton bashes at Lovenought, stunning him and leaving him vulnerable.
Health gives the trooper a glancing blow with her pistol, removing the shield and giving Susanne a chance to bring the big guns to bear.
The muton in his rage neglected to get behind cover, giving Health a clear shot to his vitals, bringing it down. Gaius uses her skulljack on the remaining soldier, failing to jack in, but distracting him long enough for Culise to unleash a devastating attack to outright kill the soldier. (Hail mary attack, 28% chance to hit, 30% chance to crit. 8.4% chance to kill and he nails it) The team emerges battered, but mostly alive. The clock is ticking though on that distress beacon. (For anyone wondering, the walls were fixed this time. No visibility problems)
Lovenought finds himself doing something different this mission: becoming the team's healbot. Or at least ordering his GREMLIN to be the healbot. He patches up Susanne, Gaius, and himself quite well. They should be in good shape for the remaining forces guarding the distress beacon. Inside is a squad of hybrid soldiers lead by an officer. The UFO is a challenging area to fight in, as high cover is all over but shooting angles are scarce. Missed shots abound. Thankfully, Lovenought's GREMLIN is able to flow and easily dodge any fire, so we don't have to get into the open in order to disable the console.
A soldier runs out towards a better firing position and is caught by Health's shot, injuring it and leaving it low enough that a grenade from Susanne can finish him off. The group loops around the center and catches the remaining two troops in their flanks. Health lands a shot on the shieldbearer, who is finished off by a slice from Gaius. The officer sits huddled in a corner as cannon fire from Susanne and Culise bring him down.
The mission is a success, but a somber one. Minor injuries for some, but Potassium's death dampens the mood. One mission, one shot, one damage. Such a short life she lead. The aliens will pay.
In honor of her memory, I have Shen work on some new armor. A new vest that will help protect them, and heal them if they take damage, keeping them in the fight. As well, Tygan finishes his work on examining the codex data. He says it should help us understand why the aliens are doing all this, making Humanity's life hell.
The data contains information on the elders. The caste of aliens with strong psionic powers, powers that make the sectoid look like child's play. They haven't been seen on Earth for almost a decade, likely because they're experiencing severe muscle atrophy. They're dying. They've been roaming the galaxy, taking what they can find of other aliens and incorporating them into their army through psychic and genetic domination. With Earth, they decided to stay, whether because they saw something useful in us that was special, or that they've become unable to look further. Whatever the case, it seems likely they're going through our genetics to find something of a cure.
But that's all he was able to obtain from the fragments of data. Filling in the final pieces will requiring skulljacking a codex. This should be fun.