Eyes in the Dark
|The following information refers to the Solaris universe and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace continuity.|
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Solaris - Mission 1: Eyes in the Dark
Description: The Federation sends a strike group to intervene in a regional war. A Commonwealth lieutenant fights alongside Federation flightmates as part of an exchange program.
Created: March 10th, 2018
Released: June 9th, 2019
The year is 2486, forty years after a devastating war saw the end of Earth rule over her colonies. You are Stuart Ross, a young Commonwealth pilot on a tour of duty on board the Federation cruiser-carrier Artemis as part of an exchange program. Ross's supervisor Captain Giles Cavill, callsign "Ahab", welcomes him aboard and looks forward to collaborating with the new arrival. Eirish-born Lieutenant Caitlyn McKeown is also on board Artemis as an exchange pilot and the two Commonwealth pilots instantly hit it off.
Amid rising tensions between the powerful Great Powers of the Federation and successor-state-to-Sol Sinarus Combine, the Artemis is chosen to be part of a task group sent to reinforce the Elam Republic, a regional neighbour at war. Federation Defense Intelligence believes the rival Qahtadnan Union is being given military support by the Combine to destabilise the strategically important region. This deployment is the Federation's response.
Task Force 55 is distributed throughout Elam territory. The Artemis's area of operations is the Durius system, an important logistics hub for the Republic. Ahab and Ross's first sortie is providing escort for the Elam corvette Sina as she deploys sensor buoys in a nearby asteroid field. Ahab is wing leader as Alpha 1, with Ross as Alpha 2.
This is the first in a series of tutorial missions to familiarise previous FreeSpace 2 players with Solaris mechanics and introduce the character of Stuart Ross. Your loadout is locked to the Viper fighter armed with Maxim anti-fighter primary cannons.
On departure from Artemis, comms greets Ross and wishes him luck, to the momentary discomfort of the normally taciturn lieutenant. The commander of the Sina orders Alpha wing to stay close as skirmishes over the past few days leads him to expect trouble today. The start of the deployment is slowed down by the supply freighter Hanging Fire departing the area.
Ross wonders if the Qahtadnans really are going to cause issues now that the Artemis has arrived in-system. He notes that they may have been emboldened by the Combine support. Ahab is dismissive - the Qahtadnans and Combine are welcome to give the Federation a reason to crush them both. As if to give Ross his answer, two Cobra fighters move out of the shadow of a nearby asteroid and make an attack run on the Sina.
This is your first taste of combat in Solaris. The maximum effective range of the Maxim is 2000 metres, and a circular gun reticle will appear once in range of the target. Similar to Diaspora's chase indicator, bring the reticle over your target as you fire. The game will automatically calculate the best chance of a successful hit by taking into account bullet velocity, velocity and vector of the target and bullet travel time.
The Sina will launch CIWS rounds and AAMs of her own to assist.
A little further into the deployment, two more Cobra fighters appear out of a cave to ambush the Sina.
As the Sina reaches her final deployment waypoint, a cluster of signals is detected. These are revealed to be two Stalker strikers escorted by two Cobra fighters. Ross has to make a decision: engage the more dangerous strikers, leaving himself vulnerable to the Cobra fighters, or risk the Sina by clearing out the air superiority fighters first. Ahab's advice to swing wide and chase them from behind is sound, but gives the wings time to close the distance to Sina. During this attack, Ahab is given orders to cover your fighter.
Once these threats have been eliminated, the Sina reports the area looks clear of hostiles and releases you from escort. The mission is over once you approach the Artemis.
Notable ships present
- FNS Artemis - Leander-class cruiser
- ERS Sina - Pegasus-class corvette
- ERS Ghadir - Pegasus-class corvette
- Federation/Republic victory
- There is a bonus objective for keeping the Sina's hull above 85%.
- Cobra-class fighters aren't equipped with countermeasures which makes them vulnerable to the Sina's anti-air missiles.
- Striker AI has only recently been fixed after years of being ineffective on attack. Older versions of the mission had a wing of three strikers, which has since been rebalanced to two.
- This mission calculates your position before deciding whether to send one of two possible attack wings. If you leave the Sina to wait near the usual striker wing spawn position, an alternate wing closer to the corvette will appear instead.