The Cost of War
|The following information has not been confirmed by Volition |
and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace universe.
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ACT 1, MISSION 01
Fighter squadron: 170th Fighting Navajas
Description: Europa is lost, and the great bastion of Jupiter has fallen. A convoy from Artemis Station needs protection from GTVA strike wings. A rookie flight is dispatched from the Solaris to cover their escape.
You are Ensign Noemi Laporte, a rookie pilot fresh out of flight academy under the United Earth Federation. With your admission onto Home Fleet's flagship, the UED Solaris, and induction as a Federation pilot, you write an entry—your fourth—into your personal log. In it, you relate the suspicions of other crew members on board the Solaris that the reports of a "raid" on Jupiter was something much, much worse—the complete and utter loss of Jupiter, as well as all tangible assets in that region to the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance, and the retreat of Third Fleet. You understood how difficult it was for the Jovians, as they had been playing subspace chess with the GTVA almost entirely on their own for a year and a half. However, Admiral Calder, Commanding Officer of the Federation's Third Fleet had said, a fortnight earlier, that the Alliance wanted to wage a slow war to capture as many Federation assets as they can, and while Admiral Robert Byrne, Commanding Officer of Home Fleet, as well as the Elders, who head the Federation, agree that the Solaris and Home Fleet should remain in Earth orbit as a fleet in being, Byrne will have no choice but to deploy fighters to assist the retreat of Third Fleet.
In short, this means that you will be thrown into the thick of battle for the first time in your life.
Although you reassure yourself that your training, as well as the fact that your Uncle Manuel and brother Kassim will keep you alive, and that your death would be a quick one if you fail to survive your first sortie, you still cannot help but wonder what would happen if you do survive, and whether you would be laughing over the deaths of your own species with Kassim post-mission.
You look back at your roots. You were born on Earth, raised by your parents on Earth, and taught the philosophies of Ubuntu, the belief that every life in the universe, roach or human, friend or foe, was sacred, and that destroying another's life will cause you to lose a part of your soul. This is a far cry from what you were taught in the academy, where you were trained to perceive the enemy as a machine, a lifeless and flawless object that must be destroyed.
You knew how difficult it was to be cleared for flight duties, so you resist the urge to consult a combat psych about your woes. Your log concludes with your question of whether you would be in one piece if you somehow managed to get back in one piece.
Not too long after you logged this entry, Admiral Byrne sends a communique throughout the Solaris, confirming the rumours that Jupiter has fallen to the Alliance after an eighteen-month standoff. The Jovian government has surrendered under threat of orbital bombardment. Byrne gives a summary of the final series of events, as well as its implications of what this loss has: by successfully capturing Jupiter's infrastructure and gate network intact, the Alliance now has the foothold they need to wage a full-scale war on the Federation.
Admiral Byrne requests that everyone on board the Solaris will place their trust on the Elder's strategy and maintain a defensive stance until they have achieved a diplomatic resolution. For now, however, the focus of the war now should be on safeguarding the retreating remnants of Third Fleet. The admiral announces the commencement of flight operations.
Your uncle, Manuel Brie, has attached a second communique following Admiral Byrne's. Brie's request is for you to believe in yourself. He knows how low your aggression level is, as well as about Kassim's discipline issues, but he also adds that you and Kassim have better aptitude scores than almost everyone else in this fleet. This is why he requested for both of you to form his wing. He has seen you fly, so he knows that you and Kassim will survive, and he himself knows a few tricks of the trade.
At the ready room, Captain Tefler confirms Admiral Byrne's communique, and delivers some additional information. Third Fleet's flagship, the UED Toutatis, with Admiral Calder himself on board, is on the run, as are all remaining Third Fleet warships and a sizeable number of civilian vessels, to Mars. Byrne has agreed to cover Third Fleet's retreat by deploying the fighter wings of the Solaris. While Gamma wing escorts the UEFg Rhineland and Beta wing remains on standby, Alpha wing, under Brie's command, will be sent into the asteroid belt to assist a small convoy of civilian transports that escaped the capture of Artemis Station but failed to reach Mars. This convoy is currently escorted by the two Sanctus-class cruisers Ironhide and Suffron. The convoy has already been attacked, and it is highly possible that additional attack waves may be deployed against them. Because these transports do not have jump drives, they must use the gate network to reach Mars, during which time they may be attacked. Their last transmission puts them between Belt Gate 42 and Belt Gate 3, with them heading towards the latter, which provides a direct link to Mars itself.
Tefler reminds everyone present that, although many members have never seen actual combat, the ships being escorted comprise mostly of civilians and must be protected at all costs. Every ship that goes down means a thousand lives lost at the very least.
Before you suit up, however, Brie stops you. He passes you a namkha that your father gave him, to be given to you on your very first proper sortie.
Your primary objective in this mission is to protect the civilian convoy until they reach the Mars Belt Gate. Your secondary objective is to make sure that both the Ironhide and Suffron make the jump to Mars.
You can only pilot the UEF Uhlan on this mission. The default loadout, consisting of two banks of Vulcans, two banks of Javelin aspect-seeking missiles and a bank of Hellfire dumbfire missiles, will suffice, but you also have the option of using the Maul, a slightly more powerful cannon that sacrifices energy efficiency and refire rate for greater damage per shot, as well as the Dirk aspect-seeking swarm missile.
As you jump in, you see the convoy under attack from a wing of four Hercules Mark II heavy assault fighters and a wing of four Myrmidon space superiority fighters. The Hercs will gang up on the Argent Mist, a Demeter-class freighter, and unless you are very good with UEF weapons, it is unlikely that you can save the Argent Mist even on the easiest difficulty level. The Myrmidon fighters will gang up on the Ironhide but will get turned inside out regardless of whether you assist the cruiser or not. Destroy all of them as quickly as you can and form up on the convoy.
The Ironhide and Suffron are not happy. Prior to this, they lost two ships to previous attacks on the convoy because of a lack of fighter cover.
After a fairly lengthy dialogue, in which the Suffron manages to keep Kassim quiet by telling him the macabre details of the UEFg Nelson's final moments, and that the Suffron was the only ship that escaped the carnage, the second attack wave, consisting of two wings, jumps in. The first comprises of four Kulas interceptors. The second comprises of three Artemis strike bombers. The bombers are equipped with the Maxim anti-hull cannon. Dump all power to engines and intercept them as soon as you can. Each bomber will target one of the Sigma transports, and it is impossible to reach them fast enough to stop them from unleashing a barrage of Maxim fire unless you position yourself so that you are less than 200m away from their warp-in point, so as you speed towards them, watch the hull integrity of Sigmas 1, 2 and 3 plummet. When you are done, assist the cruisers in taking out the Kulas fighters.
Once this wave is dealt with, another lengthy period of quiet follows. Use this time to rearm if you have taken heavy damage or are running out of missiles.
As the convoy gets to within a few thousand klicks of the Mars gate, the third attack wave jumps in some 9000 meters away. This wave comprises of a wing of two Perseus space superiority fighters, a wing of three Rhea strike bombers and a wing of three Boanerges heavy bombers. Do not engage them when they jump in. Form up on Brie's wing and wait for him to tell you to engage. As the Ironhide turns away from the convoy and places itself right between both sides, Brie gives you the order. Follow him and Kassim as they fly ahead and damage the lighter craft and finish off any ships that they have inflicted damage upon. When the Boanerges bombers release their payload, intercept the warheads before they hit the Ironhide.
This mission will end once the remnants of the entire convoy and the two cruisers jump out, or if all civilian vessels are destroyed. Return to base when Brie tells you to.
- The mission uses a variable—a hidden number tied to certain events in the mission—to determine how well, or how poorly, you fare in this mission, with a value of 0 being the best possible outcome (no casualties) and a value of 9 being the worst (all five civilian ships destroyed). There are three separate debriefs for this mission; the debriefing you get is determined by this variable. Obtaining a value of 5 or less allows you to continue on to the next mission.
- True to what was mentioned during this mission, the Suffron was one of the three Sanctus-class cruisers that screened the UEFg Nelson during Artemis Station.
- Veteran pilots who prefer using the so-called "Subach-Tempest" combination of the GTW Subach HL-7 or GTW Mekhu HL-7 with the GTM Tempest in FreeSpace 2 will be in for a rude shock if they attempt to emulate this combination with any UEF primary weapon combined with the Hellfire missile. The huge disparity between the velocity of the Vulcan and Maul and the velocity of the Hellfire means that this combination cannot be easily used to great effect.
- The Federation's support ship is not only capable of repairing damaged and/or destroyed subsystems as well as reloading your missile banks, but can also repair up to 69% of your hull integrity, so consider a rearm if your hull integrity is starting to go critical.
- There is a bonus objective in this mission. Keep the entire civilian convoy and Ironhide alive.
Total number of forces
(*...) Affects a mission-specific variable; each * represents a value of 1.