The Glory of Memphis

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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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Campaign Walkthrough


Shadows of the Great War - The Spirit of Ptah Mission 6

Player squadron: 26th Yellow Lancers

System: Altair

Description: Before the Alliance deals with the Hikuptah, it has to bring order and logistics back to Altair...

Created: September 17th, 2010

Released: October 16th, 2020


Background

The series of events that led the HLD Hikuptah to influence the strategical and political balance across star systems now culminates in Altair, where the Hammer of Light is involved in operations of uncertain nature. What the Alliance does know, however, is the fact that its loyal colonies have suffered several weeks of significant reductions to supply lines, and need more support or they would become too vulnerable to HoL influence. The enemy flagship is nowhere to be found, and a larger Ancient structure on the surface of Altair V, known as the Temple, hosts a major Hammer of Light headquarters where research on Ancient artifacts may be performed. Considering that anything involving the HoL is by definition bad for the fate of the Terrans and even the Vasudans, reestablishing safe supply lines towards the various settlements across the system would also allow, soon afterwards, to have better tactical tools to stop the HoL, regardless of what it is doing.

Walkthrough

We'll be leading Alpha wing as Alpha 1 in this mission, and as per SerRes' tradition, it clearly means that things are getting serious. Our loadouts can be customized to some extent, but it's strictly recommended to have at least the Disruptor as primary weapon in one of your banks; the Stiletto could be helpful too, but is not necessary. Our first job in what appears to be a calm defense duty is to oversee the transfer of cargo containers from a makeshift depot to several Allied outposts across the system. The operation is managed by the PVC Uaiput, a well armored and armed Mekhet cruiser which will also serve as local ATC manager to proper handle the waving of transports. It will take several minutes to get the transports to retrieve the cargo, during which we'll come under attack by a couple of Hammer of Light fighter wings which however don't pose much of a threat; the dogfight strategy should be rather conservative in this phase of the mission, and it'd be advisable to restart the mission itself should you sustain more than 35% damage from these fighter wings. Once the area is clear, the Uaiput will inform us that some of the Isis transports were HoL units in disguise, and provides us with the navigation data required to intercept them and investigate on their whereabouts. It turns out that doing so will lead us towards the HLD Hikuptah as it prepares two Satis freighters, the Insult and Injury, to land on it. Beta and Gamma wings will come in to assist us, and we needed them for real. We can't stop the freighters, but we can definitely start clearing some of the Ka fighters nearby ahead of the deployment of the PVD Hedetet, which will emerge from subspace on a safe attack angle towards the Hikuptah, which however will not turn and move to attack our own Typhon. It'd be advisable to order our wingmen, or most of them, to defend the Allied destroyer, because it will soon come under heavy HoL attack: not only will the Hikuptah deploy strike wings, but the HLD Hedju Hor, a warship we should have learned to love and - more importantly hate by now, comes in and brings its neutron cannons to bear on the Hedetet, while deploying its own strike wings. We must clear these neutron cannons, whose emplacements should now be familiar with you; once they're cleared, enemy bomber wings will be the only serious threats left in the area. The Hikuptah will warp to a remote region of the system, but we can't pursue it unless we take care of the Hedju Hor first, and even with the Atum turned into shreds, a new threat will emerge from subspace: two Sobek prototypes armed with the Khersht prototype flak, as well as a wing of Ka fighters, will jump in from the the Temple, the large Ancient infrastructure that now serves as an HQ for the fanatics. The Uaiput will come in to assist, and the Hedetet will launch its last bomber wing, Zeta to engage these threats; the Ka fighters will specifically go after these Amun bombers, so we'd better be prepared because two waves will come in to interfere with us. Please note that we can issue limited orders to Zeta and redirect some of its bombers to either corvette, depending on hull integrities and tactical situations, so issue these orders wisely and mind that while resistant, Amun bombers can easily be destroyed by a Ka wing. Our target is trying to destroy both corvettes, and in order to do this, we have to cover Zeta by waves of Ka fighters, which are far deadlier than the defensive turrets on the Renenutets. If our strategy worked, at least one of the corvettes will be destroyer, with the second one either going down too or escaping. The area will be clear, and we should rearm ahead of the forced jump to the estimated position for the Hikuptah, which will most likely break our subspace drives.

The final stage of the mission will determine the fate of the Alliance. That's it, the Hikuptah, moving towards a very large structure built around a Lucifer superdestroyer, the SSD Pandemonium, in an apparently inactive state. These assets are too much of a challenge for a few errant fighters, but there's something we can do about this work in progress apocalypse: order our wingmen to cover us, and move in to attack the communication subsystems on the HoL flagship. Attacking it from above would expose your fighter to heavy fire, so it's recommended to attack it from the front, and strife multiple times until it's destroyed. We'll hear messages about Shivan wings of two unknown classes taking off from the Pandemonium, clearing a HoL science vessel and moving in to engage, but we must not get distracted from our primary duties. We'll then be asked to destroy the navigation subsystem on the Hikuptah, which is close to the subsystem we have just eliminated. Staying right between the beam weapon arms will cover us enough to perform strafing runs on this subsystem, and eventually clear it too. If done in time, the Hikuptah will divert all of its remaining energy to its engines - which we must not disable - and get as close as possible to the Pandemonium to unleash the power of some mysterious Ancient artifact we are unaware of; a good plan, but since the navigation subsystem was destroyed, the flagship will collide with the Lucifer, and both ships will be turned to shreds, saving the Alliance. The mission will end soon afterwards. However, if we don't accomplish the mission objectives quickly, the Hikuptah will trigger these devices, communicate with the Pandemonium and unleash the opening of a jump node leading to an uncharted system, from which the SD Beast will jump in to lead the way to a Shivan invasion we'll be no longer able to stop. A good chunk of the outcome of this mission is determined by a variable that keeps track of the player's accomplishments throughout the campaign - if you haven't performed well, the Hikuptah will be faster and taking its subsystems down may be nearly impossible.

Notable ships present

Outcome

The mission has two possible endings, one of which is truly apocalyptical for the Alliance, as it unleashes a new Shivan invasion triggered by the Hammer of Light. Their ideology nearly collapsed on itself following the destruction of the Lucifer, but the discovery of the SSD Pandemonium, which also led to the construction of the HLD Hikuptah, helped them regain new momentum. Now, with the Shivan forces storming Terran and Vasudan space, the political instability is not the primary threat, as both species have to face a new onslaught threatening their very survivals they may not have the power to counter.

With respect to the positive ending of the battle, and the ultimate destruction of both superdestroyers, the Alliance may in fact have a brighter future ahead, but hard questions about the Shivans, the Ancients and the Hammer of Light will remain. The Ancient mystery in particular will get even more complicated, as Ancient artifacts were deemed vital tools to understand Shivan technology and counter it, yet they've also proven to be used in favor of the Shivan assaults. This leads to suspect that, as they faced extinction, even the Ancients watched their own ideology fragment, and while some of them worked hard to find a solution to the Destroyers' relentless advance, others developed devices that would have even accelerated it.

Notes

The mission title refers to the ancient Egyptian name for the city of Memphis, which was in fact Hikuptah. The word "Hikuptah", which is considered the root of the modern words for "Egypt" in most languages on Earth, means "the Ka of the God Ptah", where "Ka" indicates the soul. The Ka fighter is the elite Hammer of Light unit serving on the Hikuptah itself, as well as on the most critical HoL assets.

The variable that keeps track of the player's performance during the campaign and determines the final speed of the Hikuptah as it attempts to trigger the Ancient artifacts that would reactivate the Pandemonium and open an uncharted jump node from which the SD Beast would emerge, is named after the Aida character Amneris that ultimately tries to save Radames from his high treason death penalty.

The two Satis freighters delivering powerful Ancient artifacts to the Hikuptah, the HLFr Insult and HLFr Injury, are named after two Empiret ships from Colony Wars 3: Red Sun.

The initial plans for the TSoP campaign involved a seventh mission as the final one, with a transition between the sixth and the seventh similar to that seen in the final stages of Gehenna's Gate, but it was ultimately decided to feature a single, final mission in a progressive crescendo from an apparently calm cargo depot escort to the final battle with the Hikuptah.