You know how I said doing 'Meet The Squad' was probably a futile endeavour? Well, two things happened.
Number one, my PC's secondary hard drive, where the 'My Games' folder is kept, had a wobble, which corrupted my XCOM Iron Man save. Not a huge issue as I was mere moments into the game, but the randomly-generated nature of the soldiers means that John's now a dude and Kieron's now a girl. Perhaps that is as it should be. Other than that, it's the same setup as before.
Number two, half the squad got themselves killed. (Note - 'got themselves.' It definitely wasn't my fault. Nuh-uh.)
With everyone healed and ready, we're off on our first mission proper. Three nations are beset by Terror simultaneously, but we pick Argentina to help in this instance. Partly this is because we really like flame-grilled steak, but mostly it's because the reward of four Engineers if we succeed will be super-useful for building stuff with.
BATTLE REPORT #1
We're barely on the ground before the first Sectoids appear.
Walker takes one out with his first shot. This means Walker now has four kills under his belt and is in the running to be our highest-ranking soldier. Oh man, that just ain't right.
Gillen misses repeatedly, which surprises nobody.
Rossignol silently explodes most of a supermarket with his rocket launcher, just to get one measly Sectoid.
Meer, our sniper, is forever out of range of the enemies and spends most of the mission trotting along uselessly behind the rest of the squad. People do say that about me.
Walker, bursting inelegantly through a plate-glass window into a building, finds and kills another Sectoid with just one shot. Walker, of all people. What is going on here?
Meer, bored of dawdling at the back, gets up to the roof. From there he spots two Sectoids on another roof nearby, and coolly snipes one. Meer is so cool. You just wouldn't believe how amazingly cool he is. If you saw him, you'd want to be him.
The others are slowly running through the buildings to reach the other Sectoid. As in so many things, they just can't keep up with Meer.
Upon arrival Rookie Gillen gets his first kill, ending the mission and earning him a promotion. Assault! That means we've got the full class roster. And everyone's still alive. Good work team. Now, get a dustpan and brush and go collect all those mushy bits of exploded Sectoid to take home in a doggy bag.
Home, James [Rossignol].
Back at base, we're too short on money to do anything useful, so we watch the world spin for a little while. Soon enough, we get our first UFO sighting. For a moment, we consider how awesomely momentous a moment this is. Alien life, extraterrestrial technology, soaring across our humble skies! Then we blast it with missiles.
This first Interception offers little resistance, which means before too long the alien bird goes down, and our team is en route to scour the crash site.
BATTLE REPORT #2
We walk'n'Overwatch across the map, taking forever but failing to turn up any enemies. Eventually, we're right at the door of the alien ship, which is in a terrible state. With no foes in sight, all we can do is creep inside it and see what's in there. Walker, you go first.
Walker? Talk to me, Walker!
The ship's 'captain', the energy-creature known as an Outsider, was lurking behind the UFO's power source, from where it was able to take Walker out with a single shot from its plasma rifle. Sleep now, brave prince. And you never even had an opportunity to fail to heal someone. First blood. We will always remember you. We will always remember how your pathetic death cost us a vital line of a sight to the one enemy we'd found on this map, and now we don't know where it is again.
Gillen is next on the scene, sensibly taking cover against the corner of the UFO, hoping to spot and flank the Outsider. Unfortunately, he has an audience. Four Sectoids skitter on from the left and eyeball him. He manages to take one out, but then he's just stuck there, flanked, in deadly danger. Rossignol and Meer are too far behind to be able to help him out. Things don't look good for the inventor of games journalism.
The first of the three remaining Sectoids hits. But he doesn't kill. Maybe Gillen will live to proselytise another day. The second Sectoid aims.... and misses! Phew. Just one more miss and the writer of Chaos League will live to pen another manifesto.
No such luck. The former Minister Drill-Cock is, alas, no more.
Grimly, Meer and Rossignol clear up the mess without issue. Heavy Rossignol's rocket launcher takes out two of the Sectoids in one fell swoop, Meer snipes the outsider and the last Sectoid eats cannonfire.
So, we go home, reduced to half our former glory. We are very sad.
But at least Walker is no longer our best soldier, eh? For every cloud...
Replacements are now urgently needed. We could really do with a new Support soldier first and foremost, as wounds won't heal themselves in the field. Will it be Rookie Quintin Smith, who by sheer coincidence has a bit less Will than everyone else?
I haven't seen Quinns in ages so I don't know what his hair looks like now, but I would imagine it's a blond Guile 'do. His favourite colour is orange, and he hopes to be a sniper when he grows up.
Or perhaps it will be Rookie Tim Stone?
Favourite colour unknown, but I've given him a red suit because he probably likes the Red Baron.
With Rossignol currently hospitalised from a glancing Plasma Pistol shot, we need a third new recruit too. There are rumours of a super-soldier by the name of A. Smith, but now is not his time: he will arrive later, to light our darkest, most horrendously over-worked hour, as legend dictates.
For now, welcome aboard Rookie Lewie Procter.
Favourite colour unknown, but I've given him a hot pink suit because I miss having a hot pink suit in the field now Gillen's dead. Lewie is a woman.
While the new folk start learning the ropes, our R&D dept start poking Sectoid corpses with sharp things while Engineering constructs an Alien Containment Chamber.
We cool our heels for a while, and then:
BATTLE REPORT #3
The creepy, shadowy bald guy who speaks for the global Council asks us to do a special mission - escorting some dude safely away from aliens. With Jim still 'gravely wounded' (it was only one hit FFS you wimp) the now-Corporal Meer is the only officer in the field. The three rookies accompany him.
We encounter Thin Men for the first time, although their tendency to spawn on top of the large metal shipping containers in this level makes them easy prey for Meer's increasingly shit-hot sniping skills.
Stone takes a critical hit almost immediately. Oh no! Who will tell us how aeroplanes work now? Wait - he's still alive. Only just, and he'll be dead within three turns, but fortunately one of the squad is carrying a Medkit. Oh, Goddamnit, it's Meer. The only guy on the team who can shoot straight, but instead he's got to waste a couple of turns running over to Stone's bleeding body and practice his best CPR.
Meanwhile, the civilian darts from shipping container to shipping container, only narrowly surviving a blast from an Overwatching Thin Man.
Fortunately, Smith & Procter (sounds like an estate agent) recover from the freak-outs they had when Stone went down and manage to bag a kill each. Meanwhile, Meer stabilises Stone and returns to the fray. One more Sectoid down and the path is clear for the civvy to get out of here.
We all go home alive. Well, one of us is going to be in a coma for weeks, but alive is alive.
Back at base, there are rewards for a successful mission all around, except for that pussy Stone. Smith becomes a Heavy. Procter becomes Support.
Meer, meanwhile, is promoted to Sergeant, and with it is granted the nickname 'Zulu.' Awesome.
And with a Sergeant on the team, we can now build the Officer Training School and then upgrade squad size to 5. Rossignol's back in the game, but Stone's out for a while. So we need another fifth soldier. But... who?
(I just realised the character I named after myself apparently has one squinty eye. Huh.)