The story I've written is about one of my soldiers in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, one Colonel Ruben Jordan. He was a sniper who met a tragic demise (mostly due to strategic error) but that had had such an epic mission before, that I thought it proper to write something about him. Let me know what you guys think, and please do give me feedback on how to better my writing!
Australia was a warzone. XCOM seemed more worried about maintaining their operations in the American and European countries, leaving the rest of the world as fodder for the alien invasion. That was about to change, as mission control decided to launch a satellite to keep an eye over Australian space. But then, the council contacted us:
"A key member of the Australian government has been ambushed in Sydney. We need you to investigate and extract the VIP no matter the cost. Council out."
The reward for the mission wasn't much, but Australia was on the verge of panic. A refusal or a failure in this matter would force them to drop out of XCOM, reducing the already low funds even further. We decided to send our best men to ensure complete success in the mission, and among these brave soldiers was Colonel Ruben "Claymore" Jordan.
The mission started off as usual. They were dropped off near the area where the VIP was last seen. The operatives positioned themselves in order to begin search and rescue efforts, all going according to plan. The location was a lowered street, near a bridge, where the VIP's limousine was last seen before the ambush. It was a dark night, making it hard to see things in the distance. "Mr. Clean", the support specialist, was the first to make contact with the enemy after moving to cover. He easily dispatched the thin man with a blast from his light plasma rifle, hitting it square in the left eye. Advancing further towards the vehicle, the squad dispatched 4 more thin man, all of them attempting to ambush the squad, Claymore himself claiming two of the deceased. Captain "Collateral", the heavy weapons specialist, was the first to make contact with the VIP's security officers near the limousine.
"Thank god you arrived!" - Said the first officer.
"Where is he?" - Asked Collateral.
"We were ambushed! There was smoke everywhere, we never saw it coming! And then-" - Panicked the officer.
-Collateral slaps the man hard across the face-
"Where is he? We don't have time for this!"
-In the distance, a cry for help is heard-
"Help! I'm stuck!"
Mr Clean had just made his way to the car. He tapped Collateral on the shoulder and pointed at the truck parked down the road, motioning him to move forward while he supplied suppressing fire. Collateral acknowledge and made his way to the back of the truck. Colonel Jordan stood in the distance, watching the situation unravel and keeping a close eye for enemies.
Collateral managed to open the back door of the truck, where he found the VIP alive and conscious inside, without any major injuries apparent.
"Thank god you're here!" - Said the man.
"Keep your head down, and we'll get you out of here." - Ordered Collateral.
The VIP made his way to the front of the truck, keeping his head down. Suddenly, a message from mission control arrived.
"Attention all XCOM operatives, we are reading multiple gamma signatures closing in on your area. Prepare for engagement."
It was only a split second before four more thin men appeared, all in a vantage point within a reasonable distance of the truck. They took their time to get in position and prepare to fire upon anything that moved. A stand off ensued, where neither the VIP or Collateral could move without getting badly hurt, if not killed. Collateral looked around to see if there was anything he could do, but he had no line of sight with the targets, and moving away would spell disaster.
"Stand down." - Said the voice on the intercom. It was Colonel Jordan's.
As quick as the voice had been heard, a laser beam traveled straight from a hidden location in the rearguard to the first thin man's head, making it explode and knocking the lifeless body to the ground. Colonel Jordan felt a rush of adrenaline surging through his body as he pulled the trigger for the first time. This new found energy, this divine inspiration, enabled him to enter a state of pure focus. For all intents and purposes, he was in the zone, and there he would remain, undisturbed, as he took his next shot, downing another thin man. The remaining squad members could not do anything but stand still and watch a master at work, a craftsman of death. Another laser beam was seen, and the third thin man was downed, a shot straight to his lizard heart. There was no stopping Claymore. This was his finest hour. This is what made him join the force. A final shot, and the last thin man is killed. Claymore stands watch as he sees Collateral moving with the VIP, loading him into the Skyranger for extraction. The mission was successful.
On the flight back, the entire squad was celebrating aboard the aircraft, except for Claymore. During these brief moments of peace he preferred to isolate himself from the rest and look over the mission notes, find out what went right and what went wrong, look for ways to improve his efficiency. You don't become a Colonel without making mistakes along the way, mistakes that can cost the life of good men and women. Claymore knew that. He already had lost 9 men up to that point. Rogue, Whiskey, Combo, all worthy soldiers, losing their lives while serving humanity. Unsung heroes that would never be acknowledge by those they helped save.
Reaching the base, the squad was sent to the barracks while the council evaluated the mission. They were satisfied enough with the result, and the Australian government sent some engineers as a form of displaying their gratitude over a job well done. Following an announcement regarding the safety of the VIP, the panic levels in Australia were shown to have gone down by 30%.
"We're receiving reports of abductions happening in Buenos Aires. We need you to stop the aliens before they get out of hand. Council out." - Read the message at the terminal.
The sirens were sounded throughout the base, urging the squad to present themselves at the hangar and prepare for deployment.
"Listen up, men. Let's make this as quick and clean as possible. Get in, eliminate the hostiles, move out. We've had no casualties for the past weeks, and I want to keep it that way. Now move up!" - Said Claymore to his troops, the same squad he had just commanded hours before.
One by one they entered the Skyranger. Their faces displayed certainty at victory. They had never failed a mission, they hadn't lost a man in a while. Success seemed a matter of time. Get in, clean up, get out, had said Claymore. But he wasn't looking his same self. He had displayed his legendary confidence when giving the instructions to his men, but now, standing near the Skyranger ready to board, there was a hint of uncertainty in his stare.
The site of the mission was a train yard. The locals had been evacuated from the area, leaving the site clean of possible collateral casualties. Descending from the Skyranger, the squad took their positions. All but one of them knew where they had to stand and take cover. Claymore was having trouble trying to find the perfect spot to wait, so he joined Mr Clean near a train cart. The sheer amount of train carts and rubble made it hard to get a clear line of sight with the end of the yard. The men stood and waited.
They didn't have to wait long. A couple minutes into the operation, a squad of 3 mutons appeared from behind some carts. Claymore attempted to shoot one of them, but missed. You could read the frustration in his eyes.
Mr Clean, however, was much more accurate and landed a critical hit on the foremost muton, hitting him in the stomach, sending guts flying everywhere.
The two remaining mutons scampered into the darkness, away from the squad. Claymore moved away from Mr Clean, to get into a better position and have a better chance at hitting the mutons. He bet that they would appear behind the other train cart. He was right.
The first muton appeared from the darkness and Claymore showed his prowess by landing a laser beam between the muton's eyes. But something wasn't right. Claymore could feel it.
It was then that out of the darkness to the north of the truck where Collateral was hiding, a cyberdisk appeared, bringing two repair drones and an elite muton with it.
"This cannot be happening." - Thought Claymore.
The cyberdisk moved to close in on one of the soldiers. Claymore. The Colonel was his target. Flanking him, the cyberdisk opened to reveal it's vast arsenal of weapons. It let off a single plasma blast. The survivors of the mission say that time slowed down as they watched the ball of energy travel through the air, hitting Claymore square in the chest. Collateral could not believe it was happening. Claymore was lifted off his feet into the air, then fell down to the ground, with his sniper rifle clutched in his hands, and a pool of blood behind his head. He uttered no last words, no prayers, he simply gazed at the sky and drew a last breath before closing his eyes.
Mr Clean was able to read the fury in Collateral's eyes just in time to get as far away from the cyberdisk as possible. Just as he made it to cover, a rocket went flying in the opposite direction, narrowly hitting him, but connecting square on with the cyberdisk, blowing it and its allies to pieces. The remaining mutons were no match for the surviving squad members.
As soon as the terrain was clear, Mr Clean rushed to Claymore's side and attempted to resuscitate him. He tried once, twice, three times. He attempted to use all the expertise that years as a field doctor had incurred in him. To no avail. The damage was too much. Colonel Ruben Jordan was dead.
The remainder of the mission went without a hitch. Without the cyberdisk, the remaining aliens were no match for the superior firepower of the XCOM squad. The mission was a success, but at a cost.
On the flight back, there was no party.
"The president of Argentina wants to congratulate the squad on a mission well done. His people are grateful, and many lives were saved due to your intervention." - Said the council announcement aboard the aircraft.
No one dared to say a word. Claymore's body lied inside a bodybag. Somehow he knew this was to be his last mission. He had given everything to XCOM, to the people of Earth, and they would never know. He had made the ultimate sacrifice in order to guarantee the safety of everyone.
Mr Clean had been the one most affected by the loss. He had been with Claymore ever since they were rookies. He accompanied the advancements of his friend, feeling happy for his meteoric rise to the rank of Colonel. And now he was gone. Just an hour ago he was standing near him, giving him support. When Claymore moved away, he knew something wasn't right, he couldn't tell why at the time, but he knew.
"It should have been me." - Thought Mr Clean.
Arriving at the base, there were no celebrations. Never in the history of XCOM had a Colonel been killed in action. His body was placed in a special sealed casket, then shipped off to an unknown location on Colonel Jordan's home nation, Ireland. There were no special burial, no military honors, no report of his death. Like others before him, all casualties in the XCOM program are treated with big discretion, and no fanfare. All that remains of Claymore is his laser sniper rifle, retired and left in what had been his locked. As well as an inscription in the Hall of Heroes present at the base, that reads:
"Colonel Ruben "Claymore" Jordan - 45 Kills - 20 Missions - Last Op: Operation Cryptic Jester - 18/07/2015"