|The following information refers to the Solaris universe and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace continuity.|
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Solaris - Mission 5: Post Tenebrus
Description: The command carrier Excelsior attacks. Artemis and Euphrates hold the fort for the dreadnought Colossus. Ross has finally found the action he was looking for.
Created: March 10th, 2018
Released: June 9th, 2019
The international order goes up in flames as the Sinarus Combine withdraw from the Miranda Accord. Forty years of bitterness comes to a head with a massive multi-system invasion of Durius by Combine battlegroups. Both sides take huge casualties as the command ship Excelsior sweeps through Elam space, her sights set on the Durius system. Admiral Akrami deploys his dreadnought Colossus to intercept the carrier.
Artemis and Euphrates are all that stands between the Excelsior and Durius Station. Akrami is on his way, but the Excelsior must be held off until the Colossus arrives. As if things weren't difficult enough, a Combine wolfpack is on the way and will arrive before Akrami's dreadnought.
Recommended loadout: Thunderbolt-class Interceptor, Vulcan.
This mission requires the player to apply the skills gained from previous missions: dogfighting, ASM interception, turret suppression and wingmen management.
The player has the choice of F-80 Vipers, A-66 Hornets, M-21 Cobras or A-15 Stalkers as pilotable craft. The previously unseen F-75 Thunderbolt interceptor is also available. The choice of craft will determine the primary role the player will take on during this mission, and what roles will need AI wingmen to fill. Choosing the Thunderbolt interceptor will give the player the greatest freedom to influence the different phases of battle, despite not performing particularly well in any specific role. Craft loadout for AI wingmen is fixed.
The mission opens with a wing of Ka-15 Defender air superiority fighters on the attack. Quick reflexes on the first pass may destroy one of the fighters, tilting the balance of the ensuing dogfight. As Alpha wing enters battle, it becomes evident that several Artemis pilots have indulged in a higher-than-normal dose of the cocktail beforehand.
A wing of Uly-34 Interdictor strikers attacks the destroyer Euphrates, with the potential for heavy damage from their HEAP grenade launchers. The Ka-15s are a distraction force and are best treated as low priority targets in favour of the incoming strikers. The player needs to balance intercepting the striker wing with evading Combine fighters.
Two nuclear bombers are launched from Excelsior's hangar. The Excelsior is still some distance away at this point, but if the bombers are allowed to close the distance a swarm of Eos nuclear missiles is launched at Artemis. The Elam contribution to the battle launches from Durius Installation soon after - Gamma wing flying Rhenaric-made Rapier heavy fighters. It is recommended to send these Elam fighters with their heavy cannons to intercept the medium-armoured bombers.
With the nuclear threat over, a wing of Ka-18 "Raider" interceptors are launched at the same time the Excelsior enters ASM range of the Artemis. The interceptors are meant to tie up Artemis's wings to allow the Javelin missiles to reach their target. Though not as devastating as nuclear missiles, these conventional ASMs still hit hard and should not be ignored. The second ASM launch is accompanied by an Eos nuclear missile salvo. The nukes should be prioritised over the conventional ASM launch, but if the player feels confident enough they can target the closer Javelins before moving onto the Eos missiles.
Captain Ramly has had enough of swatting away Combine missiles at range and orders the Artemis to close quarters battle with the Excelsior. The Euphrates takes position alongside Artemis as fire support. However, the stakes increase further with the arrival of a Combine wolfpack consisting of three Glory-class destroyers, accompanied by two support carriers from the remnants of the Qahtadnan Navy. The support carriers launch a striker wing to attack Artemis. The danger from the destroyer mass driver turrets is acute - if the player is flying a striker or interceptor the mass drivers should be targeted as a priority. Gamma wing will also serve well in this role. Delta wing in Hornet strikers is launched from Artemis soon after - they should be directed at the destroyers as a priority.
Fire from the Combine mass drivers is withering and the Federation ships take heavy damage. Just when the situation looks bleakest, the dreadnought Colossus arrives at the port flank of the Excelsior and opens fire with her main battery. The destroyers move to engage this new threat, but not without firing a few parting shots at the Euphrates and Artemis.
The Excelsior ignores the new arrival, firing further missile salvos at Artemis. As heavy shells impact the carrier's hull and the ship flounders in space, Admiral Akrami authorises the use of Aurora nuclear weapons against her. If the nuclear salvo isn't intercepted enroute to Excelsior, a couple hits is enough to destroy her outright. Neutralising warship point defenses and Combine fighters will help in this regard. Otherwise the carrier engages hyperspace impellers, abandoning the attack.
The Colossus cleans up the rest of the Combine ships with mass driver fire and the battle for Durius is soon over.
Notable ships present
- FNS Artemis - Leander-class cruiser
- FNS Euphrates - Constitution-class destroyer
- FNS Colossus - Vanguard-class dreadnought
- CS Excelsior - Executrix-class carrier
- CS Majestic - Glory-class destroyer
- CS Independence - Glory-class destroyer
- CS Dauntless - Glory-class destroyer
- Qadesh - Khopesh-class frigate
- Gassulawiya - Khopesh-class frigate
- Decisive Coalition victory.
- The Combine invasion of Durius is repelled.
- Several ships of Task Force 55 are destroyed or heavily damaged.
- This mission has the mood set to "Desperate", with built-in wingman messages reflecting this.
- There are two bonus objectives for destroying the nuclear bombers before they launch their payload, and keeping the Euphrates alive until the end of the mission. The second objective is particularly difficult and requires quick disabling of the destroyer mass drivers. Flying a Hornet or Stalker Striker will make this easier.
- There are no advantages to choosing the Cobra-class fighter, but the Stalker gives the player the option of a faster striker (320m/s on afterburners compared to the Hornet's 250m/s) with the same firepower, at the cost of rate of turn and durability.