|The following information refers to the Solaris universe and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace continuity.|
Solaris - Mission 10: Survival
Description: ANI makes a discovery that changes everything. Ross disconnects.
Created: March 27th, 2019
Released: June 9th, 2019
The Commonwealth flexes what power it has left by diplomatically isolating the Combine for the destruction of Morik. The Combine hint at devastating weapons research by the Federation. The Prime Minister is unwilling to commit to military action.
On HMS Merlin, Ross and McKearney are estranged. A tearful communique by McKearney apologises for not telling Ross about being an ANI agent and reiterates her offer for Ross to accompany her back to Eirinn. Ross doesn't know what to think, or even whether to trust McKearney anymore. He decides to stay to see this through to the end, and get some closure from his Federation exchange.
Commander Quinn, CO of Merlin briefs McKearney and Ross. The weapons research data details the location of a relic in proximity to the Mira neutron star. Quinn intends to go in and find out what's there.
The Mira neutron star is cold and electromagnetic radiation is not as strong as expected, but the surrounding nebula is still a foreboding place with intense gravitational anomalies making astrogation difficult. However, Merlin's advanced sensors and information systems allow the corvette to jump relatively close to the relic's coordinates, close enough that it can be seen faintly in the distance.
Ross and McKearney escort Merlin as it plots a course to the relic. McKearney is glad that Ross decided to stay, but Ross's sarcastic reply sparks off another argument. Quinn pulls rank to establish comms discipline - it's likely that Combine ships are in the area. As if to confirm this, a wing of Defender fighters stumbles upon Merlin, and make a break to signal their comrades about the danger. While Merlin jams the fighters' comms, Ross and McKearney must eliminate the fighters before they get out of range (greater than 3500m from Merlin). The player only has approximately twenty to thirty seconds to destroy all the fighters, otherwise the mission ends in failure.
As Merlin continues on, McKearney comments on the size of the distant object, even at this distance. Quinn remarks the scale is beyond anything the Federation and Combine could have built, making it likely to be non-human in origin. Quinn breaks stealth by ordering an active scan of the device, revealing a cluster of signals nearby. McKearney and Ross are ordered to investigate the signals while Merlin cloaks.
The signals turn out to be a formation of Combine ships - cruiser CS Katherina, destroyer CS Scimitar, frigate Altin Urda and explorer ship Arbiter - around a large ship never before seen. Players will note that it looks like the unknown ship that destroyed Fifth Fleet HQ in Morik. Quinn orders a scan of the unknown ship before it escapes. The player must get close enough to scan while avoiding Combine CIWS fire before the unknown ship moves to jump out. If the ship jumps out without being scanned, the mission fails.
Once the ship is scanned, Quinn orders Ross and McKearney to evade the Combine ships and rendezvous with HMS Athena. The light cruiser jumps in several kilometres away and prepares to engage the Combine formation. Ross is pessimistic about Athena's chances of success, but Merlin launches a powerful nuclear EMP warhead to disrupt the systems of the Combine warships. Athena engages the disabled ships, while Ross and McKearney engage the Combine strike craft that were out of range of the EMP.
Though only a light cruiser, Athena's powerful plasma weapons and anti-ship missiles ravage the Combine ships. The destroyer Scimitar is neutralised, and CS Katherina sustains damage before her weapons systems come back online. As Combine ships warp out one by one, a series of nuclear detonations takes place around the relic. The Combine have seeded the relic with nuclear warheads, attempting to destroy it and deny the Commonwealth access. The device is undamaged by the detonations however and powers up in response. Ross, McKearney, Merlin and Athena are forced into hyperspace, and a few seconds later exit next to a large black hole. The device has thrown them 500 light years away in a matter of seconds, with a new hyperspace highway now formed between the black star and the Mira neutron star. The relic appears to be a device capable of carving out hyperspace lanes, phenomena previously thought to be naturally formed. Everything humanity has learned about hyperspace will have to be overhauled in the face of this knowledge.
Ross and McKearney are transferred to HMS Athena which transports them back to Commonwealth space. McKearney returns to Eirinn, and likely back to duty on board the dreadnought HMS Prince of Cambria. Ross stays in the Akrotiri system, self-medicating himself back to numbness.
Notable ships present
- HMS Merlin - Defiant-class corvette
- HMS Athena - Lion-class cruiser
- CS Katherina - Praetor-class cruiser
- CS Scimitar - Glory-class destroyer
- CS Altin Urda - Khopesh-class frigate
- CS Arbiter - Magellan-class explorer
- Commonwealth victory.
- The Combine lose control of the Mira relic.
- A new hyperspace lane in proximity to Rheinische Kaiserreich territory is created, a direct highway to the Mira neutron star.
- This is the first mission where the player flies Commonwealth fighters, and the first mission with Commonwealth warships engaging in combat.
- Players will notice the significant difference between Commonwealth weapons and those used by the Federation and Combine. Commownwealth directed-energy weapons fire faster but do less damage than kinetic mass drivers. Point defense lasers have unfailing accuracy, but do less damage per shot than CIWS fire.
- The nature of the Solaris weapon compared with that of the alien relic implies that thus far, humanity has an incomplete understanding of the alien technology. The Combine employ the technology in an uncontrolled and destructive manner, and it is likely the original purpose of this technology was not for use as a weapon.