Blood and Ash
|The following information refers to the Solaris universe and is therefore not canon for the FreeSpace continuity.|
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Solaris - Mission 7: Blood and Ash
Description: The Federation's salvation may lie in an abandoned base. McKearney connects while Ross withdraws.
Created: May 27th, 2018
Released: June 9th, 2019
The butcher of Fifth Fleet is revealed: Admiral Lucja Romanowska on her carrier CS Imperatrix commands the Combine armada. Captain Lancaster on Longview describes the disaster at Bulwark not as a battle, but a "cataclysm". Romanowska's superweapon is a force of nature.
Lancaster's ships are running out of supplies, ammunition and equipment from attrition. Due to a shortage of pilots, the Federation is forced to throw logistics and support personnel into combat roles. Lancaster's hopes rest on couriers sent to various nearby task groups for reinforcements, but at current rate of consumption their supplies won't last long enough for them to arrive.
Several weeks ago the FNS Artemis attacked a Combine base in Mira and secured a data cache. Lancaster believes the data is related to the Combine superweapon and that retrieving it will help future operations against Romanowska. The data is currently located at Command Base "Juliet" on Bulwark's surface, which happens to be a major supply depot for Fifth Fleet. Gathering everything they've got, Lancaster's forces make a desperate run on the base.
Ross and McKearney as Alpha 1 and Beta 1 respectively are the only fighters deployed, but it is expected that strike craft stored in the base hangars will be able to provide reinforcements once they are made flight-ready.
Recommended loadout: Thunderbolt-class Interceptor, Vulcan.
Juliet base is located in a mountain range in a tectonically stable part of the planet. However the air is thick with sulfur and ash, impeding visibility. Ross and McKearney launch from the heavy transport Rocinante and scout ahead toward the base. Finding it intact but powered down, Ross flies a circuit to confirm the base is clear of hostiles. A pair of stealth fighters decloak to ambush Ross and McKearney, and a dogfight develops above Juliet.
Like the previous encounter, this is a potentially tough battle. The Juliet buildings can provide limited cover if the player commits to the dogfight, but Rocinante and her two accompanying shuttles are available to provide fire support. Hunter fighters are strongest when able to engage other strike craft unmolested, faring less well when facing point defense fire.
Once the hunters are dealt with and the area is confirmed clear, the transports move to Juliet base to dock. Shuttle Uriel moves to the power hub to reactivate the base power and automated systems. Shuttle Phoenix plots a course to the nearest hangar to search for fighters and other craft in flightworthy condition. Rocinante heads to the command centre to extract the Mira data once the base power comes back online.
In the lull McKearney checks in on Ross, who has become more distant than usual since leaving Artemis. Ross doesn't have much to say, but goes along with the conversation. On finding out that Ross hasn't seen his family for years, McKearney invites him to accompany her to Eirinn when she returns to the Commonwealth. Uriel activates Juliet's backup generator, allowing Rocinante to access the data archive. The process is expected to take a couple of minutes. Phoenix workers find two flight-capable Viper fighters, and Longview CAG Lieutenant Murphy joins Ross and McKearney in Gamma wing.
Combine light fighters encroach on Juliet and the Federation pilots try to protect the transports from incoming fire. Shortly after, Uriel activates the CIWS and AAM emplacements, providing supplementary fire against the fighters. Two LACs arrive on the scene and attack a shuttle each. This is the moment of greatest danger for the shuttles, and McKearney notes that it is unlikely they can save both transports from attack. The player has to make a decision on which transport to save. However, it is possible to destroy both LACs quickly by ordering all wingmen to focus on one LAC at a time. Giving the Thunderbolt interceptor to both Ross and McKearney will make this easier due to the Vulcan cannon's armour penetration.
The Rocinante downloads the Mira data but finds it encrypted with a sophisticated algorithm of Federation design. As a wing of strikers moves in to attack Rocinante, Lancaster advises of incoming Combine cruisers towards the station. If Uriel is still intact, the transport offers to bring the base heavy turrets online to deal with the cruisers. If Uriel is destroyed before this can happen, Lancaster deploys a wing of LACs to engage the cruisers.
The light cruisers Venturous and Stella Pollare move into sensor range and begin bombarding the base with Javelin ASMs and mass drivers. Uriel brings the mass driver emplacements online. By this time a wing of Hornet strikers has been launched from Juliet's hangars, which can be used to destroy turrets and missile silos on the cruisers. As the cruisers approach Rocinante, Uriel powers up the base heavy missile silos, with a swarm of Coyote anti-ship missiles devastating both Combine warships.
With the destruction of the cruisers and strike wings, Lancaster declares the area clear and deploys the rest of his flotilla to the base to load on supplies. The mission is complete.
Notable ships present
- FNS Rocinante - Miranda-class transport
- FNS Phoenix - Hermes-class Shuttle
- FNS Uriel - Hermes-class Shuttle
- CS Venturous - Halberd-class cruiser
- CS Stella Polare - Halberd-class cruiser
- Federation victory.
- The Federation gains possession of information about the Combine superweapon.
- Juliet base is destroyed in an air attack by nuclear bombers flying from Imperatrix.
- There is a bonus objective for surviving the hunter fight at 95% hull or greater.
- This simulates a "ground" mission in a planet's atmosphere, with gravity taking effect on debris and disabled ships. The player is still able to glide and strafe.
- The Combine cruisers are able to descend into the planet's gravity well through the use of ventral repulsor thrusters. Ships in the Solaris universe up to battlecruiser dimensions have this capability.
- The player is given some hints at Ross's backstory, describing an isolated, lonely life. However Ross doesn't seem bothered by this, implying that this is by preference.
- Solaris is the code name for the superweapon.