We will be using the ranks from the critically-acclaimed Long War Classes mod for this story, because I refuse to use 'squaddie' as a rank. Nor can I envision any of the characters in it saying that word with a straight face. They're 'rookie', or they're 'private', but they are not fucking squaddie.
+++Against All Tyrants, Shadowboxing+++
I accepted, obviously. We both knew there was nothing else I was going to do since I wasn't a registered citizen.
It was hard to tell how Kelly felt about that, but I guess relieved is a good word for it because as soon as I said 'sure, I'll join your shady club' she got ready to leave, as though someone wearing a not-quite sweater had ordered her to recruit me and nothing else. The deal didn't seem so bad from what I'd seen, though. Free food and lodging was always a plus. The cuisine wasn't exactly 'gecko-kebab amazing' but I didn't really care, it was plentiful. And on the orders of another doctor- sorry, medical technician, I was to receive however many rations I wanted so long as it didn't dig into their stocks enough to cause any problems. Realistically, any organization that provided care like that couldn't possibly be all that bad.
Unlike the apparent rulers of Earth.
ADVENT. An alien coalition that lead a successful invasion in 2015, encountering minimal resistance and quickly overwhelmed humanity's invisible sword and shield, XCOM, in a matter of months. Twenty years later and only rebels and fringe elements lived outside of their sprawling cities, in communities that are routinely exterminated by the alien-human hybrid regime. Just last night, they pried open that round bodysuit I drunkenly helped to extract from the heart of a nearby city and retrieved their vaunted 'Commander'. A nameless man who had only lost to the invaders in the first war by the skin of his teeth when half of his staff betrayed him and the rest were slaughtered by aliens too strong to counter with ordinary humans wielding ballistic weapons.
And you know what? I'm not even surprised. Maybe I'm jaded, or this has just happened to me too many times, but the situation just doesn't have the shock it's supposed to.
When I landed in the Sierra Madre, choking on poisonous rust clouds, I'd been confused and scared. It was a long time before I was killing its inhabitants left and right to help my new companions out. Same deal in Zion, but the shock wore off even faster. It was interesting and new, full of dangerous creatures and people but the White Legs' tribe didn't stand much of a chance once I got my footing. They took the first opportunity I gave them to leave the canyon when I was through with them. By the time I got out of Big Mountain I'd flirted with two sentient light switches and my brain, then destroyed a robot scorpion mech with a laser stinger. The Divide and all its horrors didn't even faze me.
And neither did this.
According to the newly-promoted Corporal Jane Kelly, XCOM had never suffered a defeat with the Commander in charge, and had lost only a handful of soldiers on the worst of operations back when it was a war. I wanted to meet him, and not just because it's relatable to be the mysterious guy everyone relies upon to shape the world. I've never actually been part of a military unit before, it seemed like a good idea to know who was giving me orders.
Well, I was aware enough about the command structure to know it wasn't my place to ask for an appointment. Besides, there were more pressing matters to be concerned with.
After figuring out the mess of ladders it takes to get from the Avenger to the settlement outside (who would choose to build their base at the bottom of a ravine what the fuck) I got told it was time for a combat and psyche evaluation.
Oh boy, my two favorite things. Rorschach tests and poorly-put together obstacle courses. That was my first thought.
As it turned out, I was wrong on both counts. XCOM had a certified professional psychiatrist among them, and she was anything but 'not thorough enough'. The sun was setting by the time we were finished, and she followed me before splitting up to the observation area, joining the most impressive drill sergeant I had ever seen.
A Hispanic man, wearing a faded captain's insignia on his shoulder. He was missing an eye, and reminded me a little bit of Lanius by the way he carried himself, except the drill sergeant was much more alive. Muscular as all hell, except for one prosthetic metal leg. He didn't wear an eyepatch, probably to scare the recruits with the spider web of scar tissue that had filled in the gaps. Exactly the kind of person XCOM would want to weed out the soldiers they wanted from the people they were given.
"For those of you who don't have the pleasure of knowing, my name is Captain Perez!" he barked in introduction, thoroughly spooking the recruits next to me. "And this is your final test before induction!"
The training course he'd put together punctuated the thought that he was competent even more than his roar of a voice did.
Most of it was in the form of sunken trenches and flimsy two-story structures stitched together by plaster and plywood. I saw crawlspaces with barbed wire overhead, four-meter tall walls, moving targets with poorly-drawn aliens on rails, and more. Had to hand it to the captain, he clearly put his heart and soul into testing people as thoroughly as the psychiatrist, Dr. Jay did for me. As much as you can off the battlefield, at least.
"You will run this course two times, both with a full combat load! The second time, you will be in teams of three! The slowest two teams will be disqualified, and if any of your teammates do not make it with you within five seconds, your team will be removed!"
"Perez is fucking insane," someone muttered next to me, earning a few nods. "He expects us to do all of that?"
All I could think in response was, 'You little bitch'. It's sundown, there's not even the heat to contend with. I'm still a goddam skeleton after who knows how long I spent tied to operating tables with as much as an IV drip to sustain me, and I didn't say anything. No fucking wonder XCOM was in such dire straits, the only talent pool they could recruit from was contaminated by a bunch of craven mouth-breathers who tried to play soldier.
I remained silent when Captain Perez shot them a look that could fuck a Deathclaw into cardiac arrest. "Since you all seem unsatisfied with my construction skills, why don't we come up with some new rules to make it more exciting? If any of you cockburgling shits take longer than ten seconds to get past a single module, you are immediately disqualified, courtesy of recruit Tannis!"
I put one leg forward, slightly bent and ready to run. A 'module' was probably just one of the obstacles, like the rope swings and the wall. Ten seconds seemed easy enough for any of them, probably even necessary if they were judging by time, but the guy who spoke up earlier ducked his head down as everyone near him gave him a glare, even the ones who were nodding with him before. It seemed like few people appreciated further restrictions and weren't afraid to display their ire.
Good. You earned it, private fuckwad. No one spoke up again until Perez saw fit to keep talking.
"Begin on my count…"
There was a small iron gate in front of us, hooked up to some hydraulics that weren't powered.
While most of the recruits were startled by the complete lack of a countdown, I surged forward and threw the inactive gate upwards. This was going to be the most fun tutorial I'd ever been through, and if XCOM wanted me to put on a show for them, well, I'd do exactly that.
"This is going to be the best mission we've ever had," Private Toman said, cheer evident even through his thick European accent.
Private Sophia, the sister of the Mason twins arched an eyebrow. "It's nice that you're enthusiastic, just make sure you're focused as soon as we land."
"Aw, lighten up a bit, Soph," her brother Elliot said, nudging her shoulder. Sophia's stony face cracked an inch, then turned irritated. "Can't blame us for enjoying when things are looking on the up for once!"
"Five minutes to drop, kiddos. Hope you're ready."
"See? Even Firebrand thinks we got this," Elliot said. "I think we're-"
"Know what I think?" the last soldier asked. They all turned to Private Cartwright, who was unabashedly glaring at Elliot while he spoke in his almost comically refined British accent. "I think you should make sure you check your corners and keep your head down for this operation. Not proclaim victory before we have it."
Sophia smiled at that. For all his allegedly 'royal heritage', Jack Cartwright knew his way around a rifle and a combat zone, something that had been very clear during their training. His remark also had the added benefit of silencing her brother, who was now going over his assault rifle. She checked her own, making sure the bullets hadn't evaporated since they were loaded. The equipment check had been comforting, and helped to steel her mind for what lay ahead.
That had been thirty minutes ago.
"How long is this going to take?" Toman demanded in a growl, magnetic rounds flying all around them.
Sophia tore her eyes from the datapad only for a moment to give the Czech a glare. "It's an alien power converter, not a fucking iPhone. I don't know how much longer it'll take!"
"Well then- shit!"
Toman pulled her off the train and into the snow with him as two beams of green plasma joined the magnetic hailstorm. A beam neatly went through the air she'd been occupying only a moment ago, while the other slammed into the package and caused its green glow to turn blood red. Sophia cursed and called for help while Toman returned the gunfire in kind.
"Alpha-1, Alpha-2, Four and I are pinned down and need immediate covering fire or we are losing the package, do you copy?"
"They're on it, Alpha-3." The Commander was not who she had been expecting to respond, but he wasn't unwelcome and neither were the two explosions that sent black dirt and frosty spray into the air. The gunfire that followed cemented her thoughts: The Commander was the main reason they were still in a fight and not a slaughter.
"Central, three hostiles neutralized, two wounded. Both are Sectoids."
No sooner had the words left Private Cartwright's mouth did the aliens in question resume firing. A green lance struck the ground near Toman, and the man cursed as the snow around him boiled in an instant.
Sophia flipped her rifle from burst to auto, then sprayed wildly overhead. As soon as the enemy fire stopped, she scooped up snow in her hands and threw it on the device, instantly turning it into steam. It went from an angry red to orange, and she kept at it until the plasma returned and she was forced to empty the rest of her rifle. It was only when she stopped to reload that she noticed there had only been one plasma beam at a time, and there were two Sectoids in the field.
She turned her gaze to the purple glow enveloping her squadmate, and she froze, training forgotten as Private Toman's body jerked like an electrified marionette.
"Soph-… Private…" He took a hurried breath, rifle slowly moving to meet her, and Sophia didn't remember when she had drawn her service pistol or when she aimed it at his head. The violet haze warped his eyes, but there was no denying the inhumanity in them.
"Bitte verzeihen… Sie mir. I don't- No, Nein!"
The purple lights exploded outwards like a lightbulb with a firecracker inside it, and Private Felix Toman fell to the ground, unconscious but alive.
"Commander, Sectoid neutralized," Elliot reported as he joined his sister, slamming a fresh magazine into his still-smoking rifle. She dropped low, hand reaching up to the insensate soldier, finding a pulse and a blazing heat.
"He's fine," she said, voice shaky. "Fine," she repeated. "Has one hell of a fever, though."
Elliot nodded, casting furtive glances to their flanks to make sure it was secure. "Copy that, sis. The snow'll be good for him, at least. Hey, did he say 'nein' towards the end? I thought he was Czech."
She shrugged, struggling not to scream at him that that was the detail he was confused about. "Maybe he was raised in the German sector, I don't know. We can ask him when he wakes up."
He shrugged in response then clambered onto the train, setting his weapon aside and bringing up the discarded tablet she had been using a few minutes ago. He frowned. "These readings aren't good. Temperature is stable, but the actual core itself is degrading. We need to get it out of here and fast."
Sophia's gaze returned to the form of Private Toman before lifting him over her shoulder and letting her rifle dangle at her hip. Elliot looked over, then nodded, one hand to his earpiece.
"Commander, we have secured the package and are awaiting extraction."
"Negative, you still have hostiles in the area, Alpha-2. Take cover immediately."
A metal thorn punctured the dirt next to Sophia, and it beeped once.
"Grenade!" Elliot shouted, grabbing her by the arm before forcing her and the limp Private Toman behind an electrical box.
The shard beeped again.
Everything went blurry, and Sophia couldn't tell if it was because there was dirt on her visor or it was her brain that had been damaged. All she could tell was that she was tired, and it seemed like a great time to go to sleep.
"Soph! Sis! Hang in there!"
Nah, the ground feels pretty great right now. That's what she would have said, but her entire face was numb. Was that because of the cold? After all, it was awfully snowy around the train tracks.
"Oh shit, shit shit fuck. Alpha-1, request immediate medical support!"
The reply was garbled or just too hard to hear as black spots began to appear at the corners of Sophia's vision. It made the sky look like parts of it was stuck in night during the middle of the day. Hard to believe such beauty could be found on the field of battle, she thought, then wondered what part of her brain that had come from.
"Well hurry the fuck up, we got a MEC!" Elliot fired a single round at an unseen assailant, then dragged her further back behind the metal box and leaning against the corner of it and the train. He leaned around the corner, firing a few more bursts before an orange comet caught him in the shoulder and sprayed the snow with crimson. Her brother clutched at his arm as he fell against the electrical box, shivering lightly. The rifle fell from his grip and sank into the snow.
Wait a minute, he wasn't bleeding enough to color the ground like that.
Sophia's gaze went down in slow motion, and she saw the stringy remnants of muscle and jagged bone where her leg ended and the meat met a bloody trench of snow.
Elliot shouted something again, and she couldn't tell if it was meant for the radio or her. Her vision was going dark very quickly, and there was something warm and sticky pressing against the inside of her uniform. Probably shrapnel, if the struggle to breathe was any indication.
Darkness began to fall across her vision, and Sophia barely had time to make peace with her death before she felt a sharp and cool sting in her leg, then her chest. No, this wasn't dying. Was that Cartwright?
"…mediate… prepa…. Take cover."
The radio came back into focus just long enough for her to acknowledge the Commander's last transmission, and she brought her head down against the prone form of Toman. A ship appeared above them, thrusters blazing and guns alight as a stream of tracers departed. Firebrand.
A pair of hands wrapped around her, even as someone attached a harness to the power converter. She got hear her brother speaking to her, trying to keep her conscious even as she smiled dreamily. "It's okay, it's okay. You're gonna be fine you're gonna be-"
Fine? She was better than fine, even if there were sharp pains and aches whenever she moved and even when Elliot set her down gently into one of the Skyranger's seats. Private Cartwright appeared not long after, carrying the last member of their fireteam. Something round and orange was attached to the end of the troop transport, and Sophia would have laughed at the sight if it didn't hurt so damn much. She was more than fine. They'd all survived their first real operation and completed the objective without any losses.
Not bad for a bunch of misfits on their first mission. Not bad for the Commander, either.
Past a certain point, it took a lot to surprise someone. After losing an eye to a pair of Mutons and losing a leg from being pinned beneath a burning truck, Captain Joseph Ricardo 'Mia' Perez found that he had passed that threshold years before. The survivor and winner of countless battles, he had refused to let the aliens win by crippling him, and sought to make the next generation of soldiers as strong as he could shape them for their upcoming war. 'One final way for me to spit in their faces' he often explained, taking great pride in only giving XCOM the best he could manage whenever they were short on soldiers.
That was how he had passed the last decade. Perez had seen many things over the course of his very eventful life, but the past few hours had managed to surprise him in ways he didn't think were possible.
Yet they had happened regardless, which was why he found himself standing in Bradford's office, next to the base's psychiatric expert Christina Jay, giving his report.
"Central, sir." The man in question gave him a nod of acknowledgement as he entered his office.
"We can skip the formalities, time is short as ever. The Commander is prepping another operation for tomorrow, so we should start now."
"Yes sir," Perez said as Bradford sat behind his desk, activating his terminal and angling the screen so all three of them could view it. The Captain stepped forward, inputting his access codes before switching to the surveillance feed of the training grounds earlier that evening.
"I kept an eye on the new recruit as you asked, and these are the results for the final obstacle course given to our more promising recruits," he said, tapping at the screen. Anyone running the 'pit' course could be tracked at all times by the cameras mounted to poles ringing the perimeter. There was no sound, but the video feed often proved sufficient enough. Perez was finding himself wishing they had recorded audio.
A countdown started in the upper left of the screen, and Perez talked alongside it.
"As you can see, the Courier was unfazed by the suddenness of the course's start. She immediately-" Already, the dark blur of the Courier's armor had disappeared from camera-1 and he switched to the next, his words bleeding into each other as the man was forced to keep up. "The Courier forced the gate open and already passed the first module of pressure sensitive plates before the next fastest recruit made it past the gate. She didn't trigger any of the alarms and made it past them all in record time."
Bradford nodded, having paused the video to give the Captain a chance to breathe. The cameras they used weren't well-maintained or high quality, but even so, they had a sharp clarity to every frame. Except for the ones with the Courier in them, who seemed to always be a rolling black afterimage. Either she was moving too fast to track, which only a handful of recruits had ever managed before, or something about her cybernetics was interfering with the sensors. Possibly both.
Perez' good eye looked to him for permission, and Bradford motioned to continue. The Captain unpaused the video. They saw the Courier scaling a five-meter tall rope ladder with ease, then leaping off into a roll that sent woodchips and sand flying on impact as she dodged the stun rounds being fired at her from the pillboxes on the far side of the course.
Perez had been genuinely impressed at that point. There had only been a dozen or so recruits who had accomplished such a feat before.
"The men I had manning the stun rifles weren't able to acquire her, she kept ducking in and out of cover."
The Courier reached the first complicated part of the course; a simple plywood house filled with training guards and 'popup' targets on the interior and exterior. They were little more than caricatures of aliens and humans spray painted onto a plastic board and held up by a metal stick. Some were meant to move back and forth to confuse recruits, and the aliens' cutouts had lights on them to signify attacks. If they lit up while a recruit was not behind cover, they were considered 'killed'.
"In both the solo and the team-based test, the Courier displayed some degree of tactical sense, and may have more but it was difficult to determine given the limited nature of this test. In either case, she made good use of her environment as protection, and advanced rapidly while advocating her squad cover each other."
Two videos played, one right after the other. The first was from the original test, and showed the Courier shoot two of the Sectoid cutouts moments after they had emerged. She slid behind a pile of sandbags before the rest lit up in red, then emerged again when the ground went dark. Her revolver took down the one furthest to the house as she scrabbled to her feet, left fist pulled back—then it whipped forward and broke the neck portion of the Sectoid board, forcing the steel pole that kept it upright stuck halfway into the 'deployed' position.
"In addition to her impressive agility, the Courier displayed strength that I can only assume is a result of her physical augmentations. I went down there after the test, that one's broken and will need to be replaced, if you were wondering."
Bradford looked contemplative as the other video played out. There were more Sectoids this time, but the Courier ordered her two teammates to fan out and get to cover quickly. They both made use of suppressive fire to cover their advance, but the Courier only fired to kill. Both times for clearing the front of the building were record-breaking.
Perez had been forced to admit to himself he felt a slight bit of amazement at watching it happen. The woman had all the brute strength of any Muton or MEC, and was faster than both.
The cameras switched to the building's interior as Perez continued. "She seemed very familiar with CQC, disarming all armed human opponents and neutralizing every popup target within. As far as our tracking equipment could tell, she hit every target with a headshot and killed no civilians."
Two men rushed at her as soon as she entered the doorway, one with a rounded knife and the other with a police baton. She dropped low and gave a sweeping kick to the one with a baton, then snatched it out of his hands before he hit the ground and used it to bat the knife out of the other's hands without injuring either of them. Two more Sectoids appeared behind an overturned table, and they went back to the ground with splintered frames as she sprinted up the stairs. Perez glanced at the timer, noting how it seemed to move in slow motion when he wasn't looking at it.
There wasn't all that much left to say, only a few short responses to Bradford's questions. The Courier moved past every obstacle they set up, leaping halfway over a gap that required a balance beam to cross and running the rest of the way without falling, shoulder-charging another popup target hard enough to damage the mechanism, and sprinting to the finish line after clearing the second hostile house mockup, even faster than the first one. There was more than two minutes of waiting that they skipped to see the Courier, standing in front of the gate again, slowly being surrounded by the armored forms of the other recruits. They were drenched in sweat and moving slower than before. While some were panting and gaping at her, most wore the same face of disbelief, envy, and a slight amount of fear towards her.
Perez frowned slightly as he saw himself come into frame, seeing the same thing in his own eyes even through the grainy footage, although he at least seemed less affected than the recruits. He had given out teams, sending the Courier one of the best and the worst-performing recruits from that batch.
Her final time had beaten his personal record by more than a minute. He wanted to know if she could repeat the same thing as a team.
In the time it took him to walk back to observation, she had apparently managed to motivate and coach them to the point where they were trailing after her instead of being left in the dust. Torres slipped up on the rope ladder, and the Courier righted him before proceeding. Chen almost lost when he didn't make it behind a car wreck on time, but she pulled him back before the arena lit up in red. The pair made mistakes, but all three covered each other throughout the entire course and were the first to make it to the end. Only two of them had any 'injuries' from the stun round guards, and they were less than half a minute slower than her solo time.
Perez didn't know how he felt at the end of the test. He was still unable to identify the feeling in front of Officer Bradford, who looked at the printed report on his desk before turning his attention to the one-eyed Captain.
"Your professional opinion of her, Perez?"
Perez straightened up. "She's formidable, sir. More than any other recruit we've ever had, even Wally and Shintaro. In both tests she displayed immense aptitude in every field, and the rangemaster's report on her firearm handling is under the psyche evaluation. Said he's never seen anyone who could manage 95% accuracy at those distances, or mastered the explosive ordnance test on the first try. She could easily fill any role we chose for her."
Central nodded. "And your opinion of her?"
Perez hesitated. "She's dangerous, sir."
He turned towards the base's psychiatrist, who had been watching the video and their exchange in silence until then. "And you, Doctor Jay?"
Dr. Christina Jay wrung her hands before sighing. "I can't say for certain, Central. My report is thorough, however. You'd be better off asking me specific questions regarding her, but she seems stable enough for combat, and has already familiarized herself with the proper terminology for field communications."
"What does 'stable enough' entail?"
She stared back into him, letting years' worth of irritation flash. "It means that in comparison to the various elements we have had to incorporate in our endeavor to fight, the Courier is mentally stable. I feel the need to remind you both that she was still under the effects of severe muscle atrophy and starvation as a result of her captivity, yet she insisted on completing the tests that same day. Make of that as you will. I would suggest reading the report for more information, but as we all know, the decision is ultimately up to the Commander."
They were glad about one thing the last twenty years had done to Central Officer Bradford, it had made him think fast. Not a moment later he picked up the reports and headed for the door. "Thank you, then. You're both dismissed, I have to see the Commander now."
Then they were alone, and Doctor Jay gave him a "farewell" before she took her exited after Central, leaving him standing alone in the man's office.
Perez sighed. He'd had promising, even truly remarkable recruits go through his course before. Some had even broken his record, but only by seconds. They had gone on to become XCOM's greatest soldiers and only stopped causing trouble when their bodies were too filled with plasma and too mangled to continue. It took a special kind of fire to forge soldiers like them, one that just couldn't be made with a rudimentary training course and the average horrifying and destructive backstory all their recruits possessed. Idly, Captain Perez wondered what kind of Hell on Earth it took to make the Courier who she was.
He hoped he never found out.
Dr. Christina O. Jay, XCOM Psychiatric Counselor
Patient: Courier Six (No first name. No surname.)
Report: Unfortunately, I was unable to glean significant information in the way of the Miss Six's origins or her motivation for joining. For much of the interview, she maintained an expressionless façade and seemed to speak in an almost rehearsed-sounding voice. She claims that the title of 'Courier Six' is, "The only name I can remember" (SEE ATTACHED AUDIO LOG 0:18). Furthermore, she refused to answer where she was from, claiming we would not be able to find it regardless of where we searched. When I prompted her with the information that the Avenger and the intelligence staff are more than capable of infiltrating all manners of ADVENT communications and information lines, she remained adamant that we would not be able to locate it, and asked that I not pry any further.
Personality-wise, I at first thought her to be a battle-hardened thrill seeker. It was evident in her posture and the control she displayed over herself that Miss Six is a former soldier, likely since childhood if her claim of being no more than 22 years old is to believed. As for the second remark, while she passed the observation post in the training course, I saw her smiling, as though she relished the adrenaline rush of combat and looked forward to a real deployment. However, upon further reflection of her answers to my questions and considering her general disposition, I no longer believe her to be a simple adrenaline junkie.
Despite her unchanging voice and facial expression, Miss Six was extremely charismatic and managed to dissuade me from pressing questions she did not want asked, on several occasions. She was in control for much of the interview, and now that I am free to compose this report I believe she was probing to see how much information she was required to relinquish as part of joining XCOM, and only allowed me to know as much as I do. She exhibits some minor traits common in sociopaths, such as her unnerving ability to charm others into revealing things they normally wouldn't consider. However, she seems to have a strong moral conscience and an attachment to her teammates, if the answers in the attached questionnaire and performance in helping her team on the obstacle course is anything to judge.
It is quite possible she has had severe mental trauma inflicted on her at some point as well. The one occasion I noticed her face slip from its inscrutable self was when I asked her why she wanted to fight the ADVENT administration. She glared only for a moment, greatly perturbing me before answering with, "I dislike slavers" (5:10). It is quite possible that the aliens or some malicious group of humans have severely physically/sexually abused her, the extent of the damage this may have caused is unknown but likely affected her memory. She claims to remember very little of her life as a child and a young teenager, which supports my theory that she was abused early on and had the memories repressed, but that theory remains to be pure conjecture. When I asked Miss Six about her scars and mentioned it had been in Dr. Tygan's medical report she brushed it off and convinced me to skip to the end of the evaluation.
In terms of mental capability, Miss Six remains completely uninhibited. She showed no aversion to danger, stress, or working with others, excelling in all categories where our other potential recruits have struggled. In the short time we had together, she displayed high levels of comprehension and retention, a notion I find reinforced after she recited all proper XCOM-standard callouts in the multitude of training situations she underwent despite having reviewed it only in passing. Not only that, she maintained her composure at all times, barring the venomous remark about slave practitioners, and seemed to be very well-spoken despite the rapid questioning, making use of a vocabulary I did not expect of a simple soldier.
Conclusion & Diagnosis: I feel as though I repeat this often in my evaluations, but I do not believe that the patient should be cleared for immediate combat operations. Despite being extremely competent in the field and seemingly fully-functional, Miss Six has clearly sustained some form of posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as possible nerve damage if the sutures on the back of her neck and spine are any indication. She may also be suffering from mild clinical depression resulting from and aggravated by the two previously mentioned conditions.
I recommend and request that the patient undergoes a minimum 1 month of regular psychotherapy sessions, in addition to taking regular doses of antidepressants to prevent possible neurodegradation. However I am well aware of the current situation, and I reluctantly grant authorization to deploy the patient in field operations. With your permission, Commander, she will be added to the ranks of the Avenger's active combat staff, effective immediately.
There are two names signed below. Ironically, the doctor's is the one that's easier to read. The Commander's is scribbled and indecipherable, but both their names have a red stamp inked over them that says, 'CLEARED'.