XCom: Enemy Unknown: Operation Burning Sunset


I decided to write down my stories, in case they become the last ones told.

My squad was taking a breather after a tough firefight when a giant green behemoth charged through the burnt out husk of a Japanese office building and battered the front door into splinters. I’d never seen this alien before. Several of my soldiers were completely unprepared for another engagement- their magazines down to their last bullets and vitals were starting to wane. They had been scattered about the map, rummaging through the crumpled bodies of the large-headed Sectoids and the businessman-impersonating Thinmen trying to scavenge whatever loot they could to take back to HQ before starting the search for the lone Thinman that had retreated out of sight. The brute ran for the cover of a nearby planter, trying to keep its head low and prepare for its attack.

It was my fault the team wasn’t ready, I hadn’t been careful enough. Now their survival depended on my ability to think through the situation.

From his vantage point to the creature’s right, Captain Andy Watson was the perfect place to start. One of my assault units, he bolted between cover and flanked to get a clear shot. Taking his rifle, he buried several slugs into the green suit. The alien was hurt, but refused to go down. I did the same with Sergeant Richard Smith but since his view was obstructed, his rounds hit the ceramic planter. The next best choice was Lieutenant Yoko ‘Boom Boom’ Murakami, but my monitors told me her machine gun was dry and would take a moment to reload. It was then that I remembered outfitting my sniper, a Corporal by the name of Murphy, with Skeleton armor, an advanced suit my staff had built from alien tech that allowed him to grapple up to higher elevations. Getting to the roof of the building across the way, I calculated that his chances of getting a critical shot meant this fight could be over. It needed to be. It was the end of the month and if I could just get through today, the Council would wire over my monthly budget tomorrow; then I could outfit everyone with better gear. In case the shot failed, I ordered Sergeant Krishnan, my support unit, onto overwatch so he could react to the enemy’s movement with a counterattack. From his perch, Murphy took aim, and pulled the trigger.

The invasion happened a month ago; an event straight out of some pulpy sci-fi novel or bad radio drama. Little green men and their flying saucers began attacking every major country across the globe. They brought bizarre weapons that spat green goo and turned people into oozing piles of muck. Those they didn’t kill outright were abducted and never seen again. With the entire human race in jeopardy, sixteen nations came together- each free to leave when it saw fit- and formed a clandestine Council that would finance a secret organization to combat the threat across the globe. XCom was born and I was assigned to command.

The first few missions went by smoothly. Stationed out of Africa, I dispatched squads to rescue council VIP’s, clear out a couple UFO landing sights and kill a few dozen of the little bastards while we were at it. My soldiers grew in strength and I began to understand how to make them work together. I became attached to them. In retrospect, I should have known it wouldn’t stay easy forever. I hadn’t properly allocated my resources. I dumped my money into gear trying to give my men the protection and firepower they would need. But I hadn’t spent enough on surveying the nations. With few satellites in orbit, individual nations began to panic and I wasn’t in a place to be as attentive to their needs as I could have been. Canada was the first to drop out and took their funding and support with them. It was a blow I still felt. Satellites became a priority. I’ve got two in production right now.

So when I got word that three cities were being attacked and that I could only aid one, I weighed my options carefully. Mexico, Nigeria, Japan- each was in need of help and all were offering me a different reward for my efforts. Mexico had a lower overall panic level so they could wait a little longer for help. Nigeria was throwing a decent sum of credits my way but the high difficulty left me wary that I might lose my troops. Japan was the perfect choice. Not only did it seem like I could make it out with few wounds but I would get a few scientists for my troubles, people I could use to improve my research and better understand the extra-terrestrials and their technology.

That’s how I got here. And as Murphy’s bullet tore into the giant green monster, I was one step closer to calming them down. I ordered Sergeant Krishnan, our support unit I was using as a medic, to hunker down and stay out of the way. That choice proved prudent. Krishnan put his fist up and everyone dropped into cover. Our fight had drawn more attention- we could hear something banging around but couldn’t see them. Instead, we saw plasma as it flew from the window of the office building Murphy was standing on and hit Krishnan square in the chest. The man doubled over, alive but well on his way to bleeding out. Another shot flew past Boom Boom. It wasn’t until the bio-mechanical frame of a Floater descended behind my forces- a classic pincer move- that I realized what we were up against. But it was my turn to react.

From the roof, Murphy was in no position to attack. Sergeant Smith still had a Medikit so I ordered him to get to Krishnan and stabilize his life signs. He was four steps in when the Thinman who had earlier retreated took aim. Smith wasn’t as lucky as Krishnan. I did the math; one man down, one dead and three x-rays just inside the office building and one opposite. Things were getting desperate. My choice was simple: ‘Boom Boom’ took hold of her rocket launcher and braced her feet as a rocket blasted its way out of the titanium tube and blew a hole out of the structure. They made a costly mistake grouping up. Dr. Vahlen would chew me out for destroying their weapons and corpses, but that was less important in that moment than my soldiers. I tried to make it up to her with one last gambit: Captain Watson jumped from his cover. Sprinting to the floater, he pulled out his arc thrower and stunned the monster. The good doctor would be grateful. The battle done, it was time to go home.

The return was bittersweet. For their work, a few soldiers were promoted and a few went to the infirmary. Richard Smith’s name was etched onto our memorial among a handful of other dedicated men and women who lost their lives for humanity. I want to rethink my squad build: maybe if I brought in a second sniper I could stay further away from danger, maybe I should outfit everyone with medikits. Regardless, I had several rookies that were itching to see combat. Among them, the young heavy Fabiano Rubin. He’s got something I can’t put my finger on. A gift. Oh man, I really need to get better armor.

I got word an encrypted message was coming in. He sat in a fancy chair shrouded in shadow, as he always has. My benefactor congratulated me on a job well done. He closed as he always does: ‘We’ll be watching, Commander.’ Everything from the science and engineering departments reminded me of that fact. Every inch of the facility was designed to my specs, making sure every cog worked together as efficiently as possible. The overhead was massive, the upkeep expensive. I needed the Council’s money to keep it running. I got a requisitions request- the Brazilian government wanted a shipment of metal alloy. But I could use them too. Whatever, I had a couple days to think it over.

Even with the little time they’ve had, the science staff have made great strides in gathering data on the enemy. Dr. Vahlen took a break from ‘interrogating’ the Floater I’d captured to fill me in on the green corpse I had recovered. Most of it went over my head. The only thing I needed to know about the alien the troops had nicknamed ‘Muton’ was that I could kill it. Engineering was just as productive and Dr. Shen filled me in on an idea he had for a new mechanized squad mate. Sounded promising, but I had other priorities- I put in three orders for titan armor. I’d have them in a few hours.

Then the alarm’s blew out the air. Satellites were detecting a bogey over Europe. I scrambled one of our recently upgraded RAVEN Interceptors to pursue and engage. The two ships exchanged fire and my jet’s systems were overloading. As I watched every section drop into red, I nervously put my hand to the abort button, ready to recall my fighter before it was too late. But just when I was ready to punch it, explosions rocked the UFO and sent the flaming wreck careening to the earth.

And now the fighting starts anew. It’s a cycle that just keeps on going. As I fly to the crash site, I wonder what the next chapter of this tale has for me. I land in a forest and my boots stomp ground. Egypt, my fifth mission, had started this way…but that’s a story for another time. Because right now, the United Kingdom is threatening to leave XCom.

-Supreme Commander XCom



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