Sunday, August 7, 2016

Severed Line (XCOM Files)

PFC Jenkins & SPC Kobayashi, Mar 8, 2015
You want me to tell you about Shinji Kobayashi? The first mission that I ran for XCOM, I was under Kobayashi's command. He had just promoted to Specialist after distinguishing himself on his first mission under XCOM command. These guys don't give a shit about whether or not you're a decorated war hero back home, mind ya. The only thing that matters here is how many aliens you have packed up in bags for the lab rats to study. Until you nailed your first extra, you were as green as it gets around there. Kobayashi had already killed three of the things before I even got to see one up close and personal.

The mission itself was back home in Australia, maybe why I got picked. I don't know. The extras had started abducting people in a commercial area of Canberra. They sent us in to take em out. Aside from Kobayashi, SPC Rojas was second the in command veteran on the team. There was also PFC Cerna, Kovac and Natale with us that night. It was their first mission as well. We all knew each other from training, but none of us were really friends. The other three rookies were all from southern Europe, so they may have been the closest out of the six of us, or I maybe just imagined it. We were all chosen for a reason, though, so I knew I could count on them with my life if I needed to.

SPC Kobayashi didn't speak much. I'd never even heard the guy's voice before touching down that night. Even then, he only ever spoke when necessary, barking out swift orders over the comms in a heavily Japanese-accented English. His stoicism really set the tone for our team. Like his words, his actions were very deliberate and meaningful. He didn't like to waste time, especially in combat. At the time, I didn't know him particularly well, but I did like the guy.

Canberra Drop Zone
We were dropped on the street around 0100 local time on the 8th of March. I remember it distinctly, because it was exactly a week after Kobayashi had distinguished himself on the first XCOM mission against these alien bastards. I was nervous as hell, but Kobayashi and Rojas were calm and collected. Their confidence was reassuring. It was dark, but I thought the other three rookies were just as pale and shaken as I was. I like to tell myself that I wasn't the only hardened combat vet out there scared to death of these scrawny grey men with blaster pistols from outer space. It sounds silly, right?

In front of us there was this big, family Italian-style restaurant. On the left side of that building, there was a laundromat. We weren't sure where the aliens were now. There was enough evidence to assume they had already rounded up all the humans in both areas. The street was deathly silent aside from the soft shuffling of our boots and gear. You know, I'd make a joke about these naked little grey aliens being up all night doing their laundry or something, but honestly remembering the sight of human bodies all wound up in some green ooze turns my stomach at the thought. It's real hard to make jokes when you are seeing these horrible things from some sci-fi horror movie right in front of you.

Kobayashi & Jenkins Push To the Laundromat
SPC Kobayashi split the team into two groups with some waving gestures of his hands. He wanted me with him in the laundromat, while Rojas took the others to secure the restaurant. Kobayashi took the lead on our side, edging forward to the big windows of the laundromat cautiously. Sure enough, he startled three extras that scuttled across the tile floor to take cover. He raised his hand to motion for me to take a shot if I had one, so I fired my rifle. I nailed one of the extras cleanly on his side, he died instantly, spilling out on to the white tile floor. The thrill of that first, minor victory was intoxicating to me. I felt like I had earned my place on the team right then and there. This is why they brought me aboard, I thought. Before I could relish that feeling, the remaining two sectoids began to fire on our position.

I remember Rojas mentioned over the radio coming to reinforce our position, but before Rojas's small team could retreat from their position, several more of these sectoid things burst in through the back door of the restaurant and a fire fight broke out inside. I couldn't tell you, honestly, what was going on next door. Kobayashi and I had our hands full, taking fire from inside the laundromat. If we let them take any more ground, these two groups of aliens would have us surrounded. I advanced up to the window to get a better vantage point inside, while Kobayashi fell back into a flanking position. From his new positon, Kobayashi clipped an extra coming around the corner toward the entrance of the building.

Kobayashi Takes a Shot Through the Front Door
I heard a grenade go off in the restaurant. The chatter over our comms told me Rojas had moved into a forward position to get a good line of sight on the aliens. They had them pinned down at the back door to the restaurant, but it was a stalemate. Sometime after the grenade blast, Rojas was hit. He went down hard, but he was still breathing and more importantly - he was still shooting. In that moment, Kobayashi was beside me. He didn't panic or falter for an instant. He told the other half of our squad to stay calm and protect Rojas. I couldn't believe how cool this guy was under this kind of pressure. I remember the moment so vividly because Shinji put his hand on my shoulder and said to me, "I have to go over there. You take this last one. He is yours." He spoke with such assurance that I felt full of pride and resolve. They were counting on me to secure this building, and Kobayashi seemed to know I could do it.

Jenkins Takes the Laundromat
I didn't have sight on the enemy inside, but I could hear where he was hiding. I tossed in an anti-personnel grenade to flush it out - hoping it would just straight up kill the bloody thing, to be honest. I moved into the building as the grenade exploded in the back. The slippery bastard scrambled out into the open, covered in its own mucus-looking blood from the shrapnel embedded in its skin. It tried to take cover behind a folding table, but I took the shot before it even lifted its weapon in my direction. I sent word over my headset that the building was secure, and Kobayashi responded with one single word, "Good."

As I swept through the rest of the building to make sure there were no more creepers lurking in the shadows, I heard Private Cerna ordered to patch up Rojas who was suffering from a pretty serious shot. The rookies had a hint of anxiety in their voices, but Kobayashi was as firm as ever. He had Kovac and Natale push their way into the restaurant. Apparently a successful endeavor because Kobayashi soon asked me if there was access to the back alley through the laundromat. He had everyone but Rojas ready to breach into the alley expecting to find more resistance waiting for us there, but it wasn't the case. We could tell from some unusual sounds that there was activity inside the building across from us, so again the four rookies took up positions against two doors hoping to get inside and surround any enemies we found there.

Jenkins & Cerna Fire on the Drones
We threw open the doors together and were surprised to find these strange little robots buzzing around - drones by the look of it. Nothing like any drones we'd seen before but unmistakable alien robotics bobbing around the inside of this store like insects in flight. I assumed they were some kind of advanced scout, trying to keep watch while the little greys did their business. The aliens probably weren't pleased about how their last abduction ended in Vancouver so now they had these drones watching out for their troops. Fat lot of good it did for them, though.

Natale and Kovac managed to hit one, but it was Cerna next to me who finished it off. I managed to land a hit on the other drone as it tried to swarm out into the alley, but Kobayashi - that madman - ran intot he store and fired a bullet straight into its little drone face. I guess he was pretty confident that these things weren't swarming all over that store - or maybe he just knew we'd be able to take them down if they were. Whatever he was thinking, it was as crazy as it was impressive.

Kobayashi Finishes Things
This guy is intense, right? It was that mission Kobayashi strapped as many grenades to his body as he could find. Most of us were only carrying one or two of them to get ourselves out of a tricky situation, but not Kobayashi. He had four, maybe five where ever he could strap them on to his uniform. He was later known for his tenacity as a grenadier, but I'm pretty sure that's where it all started. The troops at XCOM would later start calling him "Kaiju" after the popular Japanese film genre. I can only imagine the first time he heard that name being tossed around the base, he just gave some approving nod and said in a low voice, "Good."

  • from a talk with John Jenkins on the subject of serving under Shinji Kobayashi

XCOM Report - March 8, 2015 - "Severed Line"

SPC Shinji Kobayashi (Japan) - Squad Leader

  • Confirmed Kills: 2 (1 Sectoid, 1 Drone)
  • Total CK: 5 (4 Sectoid, 1 Drone)

SPC Roman Rojas (Guatemala) 
  • Confirmed Kills: 0 
  • Total CK: 2 (Sectoid)
  • Condition: Serious Injury

PFC John Jenkins (Australia) 
  • Confirmed Kills: 2 (Sectoid) 
  • Earned Promotion

PFC Barbara Natale (Italy) 
  • Confirmed Kills: 1 (Sectoid)
  • Promotion Earned

PFC Jarmila Cerna (Czech Republic)
  • Confirmed Kills: 2 (1 Sectoid, 1 Drone)
  • Earned Promotion

PFC Peter Kovac (Slovenia)
  • Confirmed Kills: 1 (Sectoid)
  • Promotion Earned

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