More than a Prophecy

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The following information has not been confirmed by Volition
and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace universe. Also, it may contain spoilers regarding Series Resurrecta campaigns.


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Shadows of the Great War - The Spirit of Ptah Mission 5

Player squadron: 26th Yellow Lancers

System: Aldebaran

Description: Hammer of Light forces have moved to Aldebaran, but seem en route to Altair. PVI Command wants to exploit a funeral to execute a surgical strike on a major HoL battlegroup...

Created: January 9th, 2009

Released: October 16th, 2020


Background

After the discovery of the Shivan research outpost and its consequent destruction, both of which have been strictly classified, the attention shifts to Aldebaran, where most Hammer of Light forces seem to be headed to. Yet still, the gap in intel between what the Alliance knows about the HoL's agenda and the agenda itself is considerable, so further attempts have to been made to gather more data. According to intercepted communications, the former CO of the HLD Prophecy, Admiral Khenu, died following an attack on the Typhon, though the warship managed to survive. As per Vasudan traditions, a funeral will take place, during which the coffin carrying the admiral's corpse will be launched into the void. It is suspected that Khenu's items, including objects with precious intel, may be within the coffin so an operation is planned to retrieve the corpse and analyze everything. This, of course, is hardly acceptable by Vasudan standards, but the Alliance isn't taking any chances. One of the best squadrons on the Hedetet, the 26th Yellow Lancers, is disbanded due to prominent proof that its pilots were HoL agents. The squadron is reformed, and a Terran pilot is now included in its roster.

Walkthrough

During this mission we'll be leading Beta 1 on a Vasudan bomber, and we'll have limited control over the squadron's wings. In fact, we'll have absolutely no authority over Alpha wing, while Gamma can be called to cover us should the need arise. After the intro cutscene, we'll head towards the HLD Prophecy and its battlegroup as they start the ceremony. If you play this mission many times, you may notice that the disposal of Hammer of Light ships, as well as the angle of attack of your wings on the Prophecy will vary. We'll see six Ra pods reaching the battlegroup, and we must not destroy any of them or the mission will fail; instead, let them land and begin to inflict damage on the four cruisers assisting the Prophecy, as well as the escort fighters. This is a bombing mission but the true challenge lies in the fact that we'll be doing a lot of dogfighting instead; also, please note that no support ships are available at this point, so don't waste your torpedoes on the cruisers and keep some of them for a later stage of the operation. The coffin carrying Khenu's corpse will be deployed by the Prophecy: we must not destroy it. The mission is set in a way that makes the pod invulnerable to attacks if the player is far enough from it, thus protecting the Ra from accidental destruction, but we have to be extremely cautious in the process. The other pods we have seen before will now take off from the Typhon and follow randomized patterns, then jump out: these will be our targets, and we need at least to destroy several of them, as letting them all go would result in a handicap later on. These pods are extremely fragile, but please mind that they're nearly indistinguishable from the pod we must not destroy, so watch your aiming reticle carefully. Our next task will be disabling the Prophecy, as the destroyer will attempt to escape from the field: its engines subsystem is not as resistant, so we should be able to take it down before the Typhon escapes. At this point, our job is simple: clear the area from all HoL units, spacecraft and cruisers alike, except for the Prophecy itself.

Once the area is clear, a friendly transport, the PVT Kheben, will jump in to retrieve Khenu's coffin with Epsilon flying as escort. Its declared cargo is not well determined, and we receive encrypted messages asking us to get close to the transport, and destroy it before it retrieves the pod. Don't let the IFF shown on your HUD fool you, and ignore the messages sent by your wingmen: the transport must be destroyed and you're the only one who can do it. After its destruction, a randomized member of Epsilon wing will prove to be a traitor, and you have to take it out. A friendly (this time for real) Scarab support ship, whose designation will be randomized too, will retrieve the pod very quickly. At this very point we'll be able to shift to usual bombing patterns: Command wants us to eliminate the Prophecy, once and for all, and we can now call in support ships to replenish our secondary banks. There's one problem, however: engineers on the Prophecy manage to get the engines running, and the destroyer turns to attempt an escape run. We may disable it again, or destroy it outright - it is recommended to do the former, however. The destruction of the Prophecy will be a serious victory for the Alliance, and the HoL will respond by sending in more fighters. Destroy them as well.

The mission would seem over at this point, except it quite isn't. Sensor blips are detected from the distance, and in the message exchange that follows, during which ancient prophecies combine with new findings, we can notice an Atum destroyer as well as some Shivan forces of unknown designation, which are later found to be Moloch corvettes. The enemy destroyer is the HLD Hedju Hor, which we have scanned in the previous mission; it sends coded transmissions to Shivan units nearby, deploys a wing of Seshat fighters, and departs. We are ordered to clear the fighters, as well as the Shivan group behind them, comprised of three corvettes and many Seraphim bombers. The corvettes in turn deploy Manticore fighters. The consequent battle may be challenging due to the fact that we're flying a bomber, and the aggressivity of the Seraphims coming after us. However, thanks to the arrival of reinforcements, we can make it through. During the encounter, the HLSC Merdjefar will come up on sensors, but it is to be ignored, and will also jump out soon afterwards. Clearing the area from all hostiles will result in the mission being accomplished.

Notable ships present

Outcome

Despite minor Hammer of Light interferences, the HLD Prophecy has finally been destroyed, and its attending cruisers had a similar fate. A thorn on the side of the Alliance has been dealt with, and thanks to the capture of Khenu's coffin, vital information on the HoL will be obtained. The operation however raises several questions on the extent of Shivan derelict distribution in the peripheral systems, and how such derelicts are subject to Hammer of Light research. In any case, the immediate threats to the security of both the Terran and the Vasudan people are now history, and the time has come to investigate even further on what the fanatics are up to. Future operations will be centered on Altair, which is expected to be the final destination of the HLD Hikuptah. Vasudan settlements loyal to the PVE have experienced serious logistical difficulties following the recent growth in HoL ideology, and must be resupplied and monitored efficiently. Some of these settlements are vital for the research on Ancient culture and artifacts, and there's reason to believe that a good chunk of the discoveries are now in the hands of the HoL.

Notes

The entire sequence involving the capture of Admiral Khenu's Coffin is a tribute to the Colony Wars mission The Funeral Raid, where a similar task has to be performed. The quote that marks the beginning of the ceremony is exactly the same in both occurrences: "And they cast his body unto the wastes of space, lest his spirit never come to rest."