We're in luck. The day we pick is a dark and dreary night lit only by the evil red glare the aliens seem to prefer for lighting, perfect for a quick smash and grab. The aliens have the place too fortified for us to take down or even better to comb through. Like the refinery, we're here to see what they're up to, take what we can, and get out. Hopefully without any major injuries or death.
Out in front is another heavily armored andromedon and a codex. The alien forces certainly have evolved since we first started this mess. The ambush goes off flawlessly. Susanne begins with a plasma grenade, weakening the andromedon's armor and scaring the codex into cloning. The rest of the team batters the suit with a barrage of fire, Health landing the killing blow on the andromedon. The suit, naturally, begins working autonomously, but Trajan is there to put it into stasis and eliminate the original codex. A followup shot from Hyme kills the clone.
The stasis lasts long enough for us to catch our breath and give it another barrage of fire. JCan,as usual, tries for a hack but the software is a little too strong. Our snipers take it down instead. We spot another patrol, two soldiers and a heavy mec. They take some weakening fire from our team, giving Van Wezel a good opportunity for a sword strike. His initial blast had missed, but did hit the vehicle they were using as cover. Trajan thinks fast and works to distract the soldier's mind with a psionic attack. Her first attempt and she mind controls him, keeping him nice and close for when the car inevitably explodes. The last soldier, wounded and clearly outmatched, retreats back to the bridge.
We give chase, but aren't fast enough to catch him before he reaches the next squad, an archon and an armored shieldbearer. The archon moves to fly over the chasm, while the hybrid soldiers fortify the bridge. Unfortunately for them, their fortifications haven't advanced enough to really protect against our new weapons. Van Wezel's plasma grenade blasts their cover and kills the wounded soldier, leaving the shieldbearer vulnerable to cannonfire to the face from Susanne.
The aliens bring in reinforcements in the form of a sectopod. These things are massive, and were used extensively to defeat conventional forces in the initial war. It's going to be tough to bring down. This thing walks through cover as if it weren't there, when I was proud of this cover being blown up by a grenade. The remaining archon makes a foolish leap across the chasm, running into fire from Trajan and JCan that drops it down into the chasm. Now it's just us and that sectopod.
Can you guess what happens next? JCan attempts a hack! Which fails, of course. But he couldn't resist. We're going to need conventional weapons instead. Susanne fires an acid grenade right on top of it, melting the armor and leaving it's unprotected innards available to a lucky shot from Health. Down goes the sectopod from a single shot.
Earth's armies were pansies if this was what killed them. The team reloads and makes their way across the bombed out bridge, thankfully made out of rather stern stuff.
Ahead of us looms the building we've come to investigate. The aliens don't seem to build anything that isn't intimidating. No more troops are in front, the rest remaining inside to defend whatever it is that's in there. The ADVENT troops take up a fortified position along the walls and behind the door, ready to shoot. Susanne drops a grenade from above to make her own "door". JCan goes for a hack on the heavy mec, "Making new friends" he calls it. He succeeds, and the remaining hybrid soldiers are really looking at a bad day. Van Wezel hacks the shieldbearer, burning out his mind and Trajan puts the officer in stasis. He gets to watch as a full squad of XCOM soldiers surround him and train their weapons down upon him. JCan gets the honors with two shots to his noggin, and then has his new "Friend" go scouting down the halls for the next patrol.
Tygan and Shen, working off the feeds from our soldiers, look along the halls and speculate on what's happening. As far as they can tell, this seems to be a factory of sorts. Hybrid soldier clones are being grown here. No wonder there's been so many; they don't need to recruit. Who care about losing a bit of meat and metal? At the back of the facility is a peculiar looking stasis pod, like the one they initially found you in. Looks like we've found our prize, as the techs want it brought back for investigation.
Guarding the pod is another archon and two codices. Our new friend is inside, but they're smart enough not to fire on it. It's beefy and hard to kill, but it doesn't have the aim to hit such quick targets.
There's no hiding from Trajan though. In a real display of power she sends a null lance through the wall into both codices. The blast of psionic power outright kills the nearest codex, while the second clones out next to our resident sword wielder who puts it down quickly. The remaining codex teleports out and creates a null field, but fails to find any cover. JCan ends it with a well-placed shot. The archon and mec have a bit of a duel while this goes on, neither doing much damage.
The aliens regain control of the mec, but Health is there to put it down before it can damage any in the team. Hyme works on the archon, weakening it for a melee attack from Van Wezel to put it down. The pod secured, we move in.
(At the beginning of the mission there was an evac zone put up near where we started. I thought initially that we'd need to make a run back to it , as there's usually only one evac zone and I had the squad setup for a run back the way we came. As it turns out, opening the pod leads to a new zone being created ahead of us, which makes this next bit fun)
Inside the pod is another stasis suit, exactly like the one you were found in. Just what are these aliens doing here? Time to grab it and run. The aliens are already setting up reinforcements for us, it won't be long until we're overrun. Just to keep things interesting, the new evac zone is ahead of us, behind the reinforcements. Two soldiers and a heavy mec, oh joy! Susanne uses her last remaining explosive to wound the mech and shred its armor. Hyme follows up with a strong sniper shot, but can't bring it down. For once, JCan neglects attempting a hack and instead just shoots it to bring it down. He follows up with a grenade into the first soldier, who's finished off with a pistol shot from Health. Health uses her pistol and grenade to kill the last soldier, leaving the field open for us to move towards that evac zone.
The reinforcements arrive before everyone is safely away, and they're setup to shoot anything that moves. Rather than fight them, Susanne runs forward attracting their fire so the others can get out unharmed. She's armored, but that still did some damage.
Given a little bit of time, Tygan sends words that he's discovered what that thing in the suit was. It's a template of sorts, with holes in the genetic code that the aliens could potentially add in codes from other species. What seems bad about the situation is that they seemed to be focusing on the psionically gifted portions of humanity. More soldiers that looked vaguely like humans is scary, but not the worst that could happen. We've been lucky that very few of the ADVENT forces are psionically gifted. Having hordes of them against us would be quite deadly. And that's before factoring in that the elders seem to be looking for something to stave off their muscle degeneracy. Perhaps this is what they were looking for? Moldable human DNA?
We'll need to visit the final site to find out. We'll go as soon as the team is healed.