Collateral Damage

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The following information has not been confirmed by Volition
and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace universe.


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MISSION 02
ACT 1, MISSION 02

Fighter squadron: 170th Fighting Navajas

Description: Third Fleet's Exodus continues. Two ships are out of communication, and the Navajas are sent to investigate.


Background

After a twenty-minute break following their last mission, Alpha wing of the Navajas receives a situation report on the evacuation of Third Fleet and new orders from Captain Tefler.

Flight operations to cover Third Fleet's remaining assets are in full swing and have achieved limited success. While two additional cruisers have been recovered, the Alliance managed to destroy six haulers. Beta wing of the Navajas is in the midst of launching to cover evacuation operations at Jovian storm platforms.

Alpha wing is now deployed to one of a number of likely misjump sites to locate two missing frigates, the Karuna-class Akula and the Narayana-class Ranvir. These two ships are part of a flotilla that crash-jumped from Europa orbit while under heavy fire. Their course was vectored by reconnaissance, but their eventual exit point is not known. Alpha wing's job is to sweep the area where they are most likely to end up in and find them before the Alliance does so.

Sensors have also detected a pack of Allied corvettes sweeping the area as well. The evacuation effort means that the Solaris's assets are severely limited for this sortie. Although the 12th Shuduhune are on standby to intercept Allied warship targets, they will not be deployed except under the most dire circumstances.

Walkthrough

You can only pilot the UEF Uhlan in this mission. As with the previous mission, the default loadout should suffice, but feel free to change your loadout as you see fit.

This mission begins with Brie yelling an order to turn hard left and hit afterburners as you jump right into the flak and AAA range of the Cho, an Aeolus-class cruiser. As you recover, you see the two missing frigates on your escort list and radar being besieged by three Deimos-class corvettes. The Ranvir is able to hold off the Idomeneus on its own, but because of the corvette, it is unable to assist the less powerful Akula, which is under attack from the Cardinal and Regensburg some ten klicks away because of considerable damage to her navigation systems. Brie attempts to call the Solaris for reinforcements, but he realises that there is massive jamming in place, preventing anyone from requesting outside help.

The Ranvir will chase the Idomeneus off eventually, and the Cho will follow suit not too long after. Almost immediately, Brie alerts you and Kassim about a wing of Aurora-class fighters setting up a subspace missile strike on the Ranvir. The Ranvir acknowledges this transmission. As the frigate bears down on the two corvettes attacking the Akula, the subspace missiles—numerous Eos torpedoes—warp in. Intercept as many as you can. This will be followed soon after by a wing of four Artemis D.H. bombers. Destroy them quickly, as they pack numerous Cyclops torpedoes that will whittle away at the Ranvir's hull if left unchecked.

With the added firepower of the Ranvir, both the Cardinal and Regensburg are eventually forced to jump out. As the battlefield falls silent, the jamming clears, and the Ranvir and Akula finally make contact with Second Fleet HQ. HQ plots an exit path for both ships, as they are still capable of making a jump to subspace under their own power if given proper navigation coordinates and enough time to recharge their jump drives. The two frigates follow HQ's instructions, with the Akula, well over eight klicks ahead of the Ranvir, taking point.

The Argus, a hostile Charybdis-class AWACS, will jump in about forty-five klicks away not too long after. Brie orders you and Kassim to ignore it and stay close to the Ranvir, as the Argus is most likely vectoring in additional attack waves. All too soon, a wing of Ares-class fighters jump in about four klicks away. Brie predicts an anti-fighter Trebuchet sweep. True enough, the fighter wing departs right after releasing one round of Trebuchet missiles. Keep the lock indicator as far left or right to the reticle as you can and pay attention to the lock alert. When it starts to drastically increase in frequency, release your countermeasures and hit your afterburners. Done correctly, you should be able to evade the Trebuchet missiles locked onto your ship without having to mash your Countermeasure key.

The Ranvir signals your wing after the Trebuchet threat has passed on. It is concerned that the Argus may vector in heavier forces, like a bomber wing or warship. Just then, the Akula detects another wing of Ares fighters attempting to gain targeting lock on her. Brie immediately orders you to intercept the fighters, but you are too far away. As you watch, you see numerous subspace wormholes forming all around the Akula—more than you can count. From them emerge countless Eos torpedoes heading directly for the frigate. The torpedoes hit home as the fighter wing jumps out, and the Akula is completely and utterly destroyed. Your scan of the debris field returned no survivors.

No less than thirty seconds after this, Command alerts your wing and the Ranvir that their listening posts have detected a massive subspace transit into the immediate vicinity, and are scrambling reinforcements to assist. The Ranvir prepares to make another crash-jump.

And then, they arrive.

Three corvettes—two Chimera-classes, designated Hydra and Pilum, and a Bellerophon-class, designated Marcus Glaive—emerge a few klicks away and well within beam range. There is a moment of silence before the Ranvir sends out the following transmission:


"It's Serkr Team, Steele's war dogs, the ones who took Artemis. Alpha, clear our blast zone. You've done all you can."


The artillery frigate barely manages to send out this message before the three Allied corvettes charge their frontal beam cannons—nine in all. As one, and with a sound that could almost make your ears bleed, they annihilate the Ranvir with their combined firepower.

Two wings from the 12th Shuduhune arrive on the battlefield just as the frigate disintegrates into a debris field. Shuduhune Alpha 1 identifies herself as Captain Lila Zhiyan and immediately commences a heavy strike attack with her wingmen. Brie gives her a status update before asking her about the rest of her strike force. Her reply: there are none. She and her three wings are given the near-suicidal task of delaying the corvette trio to prevent them from attacking other fleet assets. They are not expected to survive.

Brie gives new orders. You now have to protect Shuduhune Alpha, comprising of two Durga bombers, Shuduhune Beta, consisting of four Uriel gunships, and Shuduhune Gamma, a wing of two Uriel gunships, from enemy fighters. As the heavy fighters and bombers charge towards the corvette, three Myrmidon-class fighters show up, designated Cetus wing. Intercept them before they rip through the Shuduhune wings.

As the strike force nears the corvettes, Captain Zhiyan orders Brie, Kassim and you to disengage and withdraw to beyond the striking range of Serkr Team. The three of you can only watch as the three wings fly straight into a maelstrom of anti-fighter artillery. The corvette trio departs not too long afterwards.

As Serkr Team leaves, you realise that this mission is over. Brie was hopeful that the Shuduhune managed to slow the corvettes long enough for another frigate to make it to safety. Kassim is furious that the three of you were the only ships that stood between the Akula and Ranvir and countless tons of explosive warheads. Brie, however, acknowledges that the two frigates were already lost even before your intervention; the Alliance's plan of attack was far too great for three fighters to stop it.

Brie gives orders to return to base. Jump out.

Notes

  • The Ranvir uses the Hydra Torpedo in this mission. This was originally necessary because the Apocalypse (the standard capital ship missile of the UEF) didn't have the turn radius to reliably engage the corvette. In-universe, the Hydra is a swarm weapon that is designed to penetrate thick point defenses by saturating the enemy with missiles, but at the cost of lower overall damage output.
  • The Cardinal and Regensburg sport new pulse weaponry in addition to the normal loadout of a GTCv Deimos.
  • The Hydra and Pilum are normal Chimera-class corvettes with more powerful weaponry, befitting Captain Tefler's description of Serkr Team.
  • Strangely enough, the GTCv Hydra did not make an appearance in Artemis Station despite being part of Serkr Team. It did, however, appear in Delenda Est (without the rest of Serkr team) which may indicate that it commonly goes on individual missions.

Total number of forces

Forces involved
Belligerents
Ships



Strikecraft
  • 7 UEF Uhlan
    • Alpha 1
      • Brie
    • Alpha 2
      • Kassim
    • Alpha 3
      • Laporte
    • Upsilon (4)
  • 6 UEF Uriel
    • Shuduhune Beta (4)
    • Shuduhune Gamma (2)


Casualties


  • 0-6 UEF Uriel
    • Shuduhune Beta (4)
    • Shuduhune Gamma (2)


Veteran Comments

Read the Veteran Comments policy before editing this section.


This mission is sort of a tutorial, albeit of the trial-by-fire type. It shows you three things: 1.) story-wise, you are not going to win all the time. It brings the themes of loss and the grim reality of wartime operations to your attention again. 2.) It shows you the new tactics you will and face see in WiH, first and foremost the subspace strike, but also other tactical maneuvers. And 3.) it demonstrates the lethality of capital ships in Blue Planet, with you being heavily damaged the moment you start the mission without knowing what expects to Serkr Team's barrage.