Operation Dream Retrieval

Once again I sat in here, the lights barely illuminating the inside of the Skyranger as we flew to our destination.

I really couldn't help but be nervous, considering what happened to me last time. I really didn't like to be smacked across the head by some mutated thing.

Good thing I had my new baby with me.

My shotgun rested comfortably at my side and the new grenade each of us had been given helped matters as well. Still, it was obvious that we all were nervous, especially since I was the only one that had seen combat so far... at least the only one of this group that had seen combat during our tie at XCOM.

Each one of us kinda knew what he or she was doing but a successful mission required more than just individual skill. We needed to be able to trust each other and to cooperate well. We also needed to be able to trust the Commander's decisions.

This led me to another one of my worries.

I was supposed to be the glue holding this group together during this mission. I had made experiences in the field albeit only a few.

The screen switched to a bird's eye view of the AO and we saw what we were after.

Next to a road, smoke rising from its engine, stood a transporter more on the medium than the large side. The railing framing the road had broken away next to it, presumably when the driver had lost control of the vehicle.

"Alright, Strike One, your target is in the transporter. Considering the enemy went for stealth expect light resistance. Maybe six to eight enemies. Your job is to secure the area and eliminate any hostile activity. Avoid damaging the vehicle any further.", Central Officer Bradford briefed us on the situation at the site.

The Commander's voice chimed in. "Big Sky will let you out behind high cover. The enemy will notice our approach, however, so expect them to prepare during what limited time they have. Use whatever rocks and trees you find as cover. One or two of you might want to use the hills as high ground if you trust your aim well enough."

Each of us acknowledged her message in one way or another. I could feel the Skyranger slowing down and checked my equipment one last time.

The vehicle rumbled as it set down and the ramp opened to let us through.

We glanced at each other one last time and made our way outside.

"This is Big Sky, Strike One is ready to engage."

Immediately the Commander's voice came through our comms. "Müller, Krause: you take the high ground. Makhuba: stay near them. Connaught: Move straight to the fallen tree ahead of you."

I sprinted forwards, noticing some stones and trees to my left which the enemy might use as cover.

"Careful over there, don't get too close to the trees.", I gave my squadmates a fair warning.

"Acknowledged. On overwatch." , "Overwatch." , "On overwatch."

I looked around, no-one there.

Apparently, it wasn't so quiet back there.

"Enemy Contact.", my helmets interface showed me the approximate location of the hostile trooper: he was hiding behind a rock NNW of me.

The sound of Krause's rifle firing bullets filled the air. "Enemy wounded."

"I'll flank him. Going in for the kill."

I jumped over the fallen tree trunk I had crouched behind and sprinted over to the rocks. I closed in on my target, quickly took aim and shot my rounds.

The bastard had apparently been alerted when he got shot and barely managed to dodge to the side.

He leveled his rifle at me and I flinched back causing him to miss as well.

"I've got him in my sights.", Müller came to my rescue and attempted to shoot him.

Whether through luck or skill, his bullets hit home and my adversary fell.

I wanted to give my temporary hero a nod of acknowledgment but I spotted another one out of the corner of my eye.

"Enemy contact!"

Using the 'quick-marker' button on my helmet I ducked behind the stones after giving away the hostile's position.

Apparently, he had noticed the gunfire – it would have been more surprising if he hadn't noticed, to be honest – and fell back towards another tree... right into Makhuba's line of sight.

"Dammit, I missed."

And unfortunately, her shots went wide.

The bastard took aim and fired near at Krause's position, right next to Makhuba behind a tree on the small hill.

The sound and sight of his rifle firing had me worried for a second before I heard Krause's response.

"Close call, he missed."

"Press onwards, get him. Connaught, flank him."

"Got it, Commander."

I ran towards the guy, crouched next to a stone near him and took aim.

As it was, he saw me coming and ducked further behind the tree; my shots hit the cover's bark instead and I cursed myself for my bad aim, resolved to spend some hours at the HQ shooting range to fix that problem.

Krause sprinted towards me and took cover near me, on the other side of the stone I was crouched behind.

His shots didn't miss, somehow magically finding their target.

Showoff.

The bullets made his target stagger and opened an opportunity for Müller to go ahead and finish him off, the lifeless body falling to the floor.

"Target neutralized."

Seriously, surrounded by showoffs.

Makhuba went ahead and took cover at our collective 'cover stone'.

"Good job, everyone. Take a breather, that wasn't the last of them."

I was just reloading when the sound of a rifle penetrated the air and I felt incredible pain.

I quickly turned around and saw that some asshole had decided to sneak up on us while we were busy with his comrade.

Krause came to my rescue, however, and shot the bastard who sadly didn't go down quite yet.

I, despite the pain I felt at that moment, took aim with my shotgun and hoped for the best.

To be honest, I didn't expect to hit him. My performance so far hasn't exactly been stellar.

But I did hit.

"Target down." I managed to say as Makhuba took her Medkit from her belt and sprayed the contents at me.

"Shut up, you big baby. You'll be fine."

And it did. Quite so.

Thankfully, the pain subsided after a moment.

I had no idea how these Medkits worked but damn they were useful.

Only problem? That was the only one we had with us for this mission.

Sucks, I know.

Thankfully, we had three of the foam grenades from the last mission left. Now, I hadn't been there but I had seen the recording of the whole thing. Apparently, these little things were insanely useful.

"Don't take any more risks. If you see a group of enemies, use your grenades."

Yep, just what I thought.

We only had one problem... There wasn't any cover ahead of us, except the railing of the road... Still, we could see our objective on the other side of it and at least that meant our enemies couldn't charge at us without noticing them again.

Our group went ahead, taking cover behind trees and stones, carefully moving towards the truck.

"I think I heard something. Ahead of us, to the left of the objective."

"Hold on, I'm gonna scout ahead.", Makhuba moved towards the road's railing, staying ducked.

I was tense – we all were – and waited for the almost certain enemy she was going to spot.

"Contact. He's moving towards the other railing."

The Commander's voice came through our comms, relaying orders.

"Makhuba, on overwatch. Krause, Müller, move forward and shoot. Connaught, next to Makhuba."

While I was moving toward my squadmate I already heard the guns of the two Germans going off. About fifteen metres and light cover should be doable.

"Shots wide./Missed."

Or not. Fuck.

Suddenly, Makhuba fired her rifle, narrowly missing the guy that I only just noticed was moving towards the one side of the transporter. At least she surprised the guy as he immediately hunkered down behind next to the trucks back wall.

I saw movement in the corner of my vision and another bad guy – this one with a stylish yellow bandana covering his mouth – came at us from the right, positioning himself next to the bent railing the truck had crashed into and readied his rifle, taking aim and shooting at Makhuba.

The bullet hit her left shoulder and she hissed in pain.

Meanwhile our still alive enemy to the let his rifle wail, thankfully not hitting his target, instead barely missing.

"Connaught, grenade the right ones. Makhuba, shoot the one at the truck."

Aye, Commander. I quickly drew the grenade after moving a bit closer and threw it at the foe cowering behind the railing.

It landed directly at my targets feet and he was already diving away with fear evident in his expression when it exploded, covering him in containment foam.

I imagine he was both relieved and shocked at being safe but also disabled.

Meanwhile, Makhuba's shots found their target and the thief fell to the ground in pain, unable to move.

It was a little strange to work with safe containment means and lethal force but I figured we'd just take prisoners we managed to and eliminated anyone else.

The leftmost guy also fell, his chest pierced by my other squadmates' rounds.

At that moment, we all took a breather. Almost done. Hopefully, there wasn't anybody going to ambush us when we opened the door of the truck.

We briefly looked at each other and moved forward at the Commander's behest.

Krause and Müller took to securing the front side of the vehicle while Makhuba and I went to the back to see if anybody was left on that side.

"Are you okay? Is the bullet stuck?", showed my concern.

She looked unsure. "I don't think so, but I could be wrong. Hurts like hell, though."

I tried to lighten the mood a little bit while my eyes roamed the area, particularly the small hill. "Don't worry, the docs at base work wonders."

Her lips formed a bittersweet smile. "I sure hope so."

Something flashed into my right and I shoved my companion away. "Look out!"

Three rounds made their way into my right side and I kneeled over in pain, coughing.

Makhuba rolled to her feet and fired at our attacker who recoiled as the bullets hit. He sprinted for cover but was picked off halfway to a fallen tree by Müller who had come sprinting around the corner after hearing the enemy's rifle fire.

The guy fell to the ground, blood pooling from his back.

"Shit, come on, get it together. We'll be done soon."

They helped me up and I nodded gratefully.

Krause came to us and we moved towards the transporter's door.

Slowly opening it we lay our eyes upon the objective. The pulsing beacon we fought to reach.

"Central, this is squad leader John Connaught. The objective is secure."

"Great job, Strike One. Prepare for extraction."

[VIGILO CONFIDO]

A/N: Alright... this took an incredible while to write and I'm incredibly out of practice, as one might notice during the second half. I tried a combat movement and cover system or this chapter with a predesigned map instead of one straight out of Google Earth. Let me know how it was.

Did you like this style or should I return to the old system of not having a system at all? Or should I just do the shot percentages with the new system and the rest like before? Please let me know.

-Azralan

[VIGILO CONFIDO]

We had just arrived at the base when Makhuba and I made our ways towards the Medbay, supporting each other.

They had offered me a stretcher but I declined, probably out of some idiotic sense of pride...

We just reached the door and Makhuba reached for the open button when she hesitated. I looked at her, waiting for her to open the door when she turned around and gave me a quick peck on the cheek.

"Thanks for taking that bullet for me, John."

She pressed the button and moved inside while I stood still, baffled into silence.

Lehana turned around again with an amused smirk. "You coming or not?"