First engagements against the Shivans
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WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the following storylines:
- FreeSpace 1
- Main article: Heist of the Avenger Prototype
The incident of the GTSC Plato
The Avenger Prototype was being transferred to the Ribos system by the GTSC Plato, a Faustus-class science vessel. The jump node was barely defended by Vasudans, only a number of fighters and the PVC Taurus holding it down. A squadron of PVF Anubis fighters were ordered to attack the Plato, but the captain of the Taurus underestimated the escort of the Plato. The PVC Taurus jumped in with her fighter escort to block the way of the Plato, which was moving towards the jump node. Before the sides could engage each other in combat, unknown aliens appeared and attacked both sides. The Vasudan fighters quickly fell and the Taurus was destroyed. Alpha 1 was ordered to approach the Vasudan forces and get visual data. While doing so, the aliens attacked the Plato with bombers and fighters. The crew of the Plato managed to elude destruction; they used a GTEP Hermes escape pod to take both themselves and the prototype to safety. The Plato was destroyed by the unknown aliens, but the escape pod made the jump. The fighter pilots were shocked to realize that their ML-16 weapons were completely ineffective at penetrating the Shielding systems of the aliens. They managed to destroy a single attacking fighter by focusing their fire on it; the combined power was enough to penetrate the shield and get to the fighter inside, which had a weak hull and was soon blasted to pieces.
Other encounters with the unknown aliens, soon designated the Shivans, occured all across the system. The Shivans destroyed GTA forces in the system and inflicted heavy damage on Vasudan forces as well. The two former enemies agreed to a cease-fire and non-aggression pact. Following a diplomatic agreement, the 14-Year War between the Galactic Terran Alliance and Parliamentary Vasudan Empire officially ended, and the Great War began. Shivan attacks destroyed a large number of capital ships, almost including the GTD Galatea, which was succesfully escorted by GTA fighters through an asteroid field, including Alpha 1, and managed to jump out. Many other vessels weren't as lucky, falling victim to the new enemy and getting blasted to smithereens, their crews dying very unpleasant deaths.
Acquisition of shielding technology
Terran Command was forced to launch reconnaissance missions to acquire Shivan shields without weaponry on the fighters which could penetrate Shivan shielding systems. Scorpion fighters ambushed the Terran fighters, who, unable to defend themselves, had to quickly scan the containers and then jump out. Only one fighter managed to return to the GTD Bastion. Using the scan data acquired, the GTA acquired shielding technology for the first time in the history of human space travel.
By the time the Shields were ready to use, the Avenger cannon had been optimized for use against shields. The first notable victory for the Alliance came while transferring the Shield prototypes to Beta Cygni. Using the Avenger cannon, the attacking Shivans, no longer invincible, were destroyed and the cargo was successfully delivered.