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Fighter squadron: 222nd Nightwolves
Description: The 14th Battlegroup attempts to jump through the Delta Serpentis-Sol jump node and replicate the conditions that brought them to this universe in an attempt to go home.
The Fortune and Solace have used up most of their supplies in order to sustain the fighting capabilities of the 14th Battlegroup and repair ships damaged in Shivan attacks. The entire fleet now risks running out of supplies with nowhere to go for help. For this reason, Admiral Bei has decided that the fleet will make its way back to the Delta Serpentis-Sol jump node. He is confident that, if the conditions for their original jump to Sol were replicated, the fleet will make it back to their home universe.
Admiral Bei has also sent a private communique addressed to you only. After speaking to Rear-Admiral Carey, Commanding Officer of the GTD Temeraire, he decided not to submit you for court-martial for insubordination, disobedience and desertion, reasoning that because it is unknown how Vishnan psychic influence affects your sense of judgement and because of supporting evidence from your two wingmen, Corey and Taylor, your actions may not have been of sound judgement. That, officially, is his reason.
The admiral, however, acknowledges the amount of courage it required for you, a former Commander, to lead an entire fleet of Vishnan ships, including a destroyer approaching juggernaut specifications, into Delta Serpentis and guide them into aiding the Orestes and her battlegroup in their time of need. That is one of his two unofficial reasons.
Concluding the communique, Admiral Bei's other unofficial reason is this: While he openly treats your testimony on Vishnan psychic communications with the same level of scepticism as Rear-Admiral Carey and Admiral Nechyev of the Terran sleeper ship Sanctuary, he concedes that he too, over the past few days, had experienced the exact same things you experienced before you merged with the Vishnans.
Captain Kristae of the Temeraire's 56th Squadron has attached a report regarding the flight records obtained from the Pegasus stealth fighter you piloted while pursuing the two Vishnan Missonaries deep in the Knossos beyond N362. What the Temeraire's engineers have extracted from your flight data so far shows no trace of anything that happened to the ship out there.
In the briefing room, your squad leader, Al'faddil, gives a quick status update on the fleet's transit to the jump node. The destruction of the Sathanas has triggered several massive skirmishes between Vishnan Sacred Keepers and Shivan Sathanas juggernauts all over Delta Serpentis. The 14th Battlegroup has succeeded so far in not getting in the way of any of these conflicts, but the long-range sensors on the fleet's warships have detected a massive build-up of Vishnan and Shivan fighters at the Sol jump node—the 14th Battlegroup's destination.
The Orestes and Temeraire are now preparing all remaining combat-ready fighters for launch immediately after the fleet jumps into the vicinity of the Delta Serpentis-Sol jump node. From there on, Orestes control will give you additional orders.
Al'faddil will be staying on the Orestes to assist in coordinating all escort fighters, while you have been given field command. He has given you permission to use his own Erinyes heavy assault fighter for this mission.
This is a lengthy escort mission across several warships, so choose a ship that befits a role you are comfortable with. Although Al'faddil's Erinyes fighter is chosen for you by default, you have the option of swapping it out for other ships, including the GTF Ares. If you prefer to do close-combat intercept, the Erinyes or Perseus, armed with a Balor, GTW Maxim and at least one bank of Trebuchets, should do nicely. If you just want to sit around and chuck ordnance from beyond the normal range of conventional weaponry, the Hercules Mark II and Ares fighters are there for this reason. Alternatively, you can choose to fly bomber escort, but this is not recommended for less experienced players.
This mission begins with the entire 14th Battlegroup jumping in to the area surrounding the Sol jump node. From your view port, you can see two massive warships at the node. One of them is parked directly behind the node and is of Vishnan origin, simply designated the Preserver; the other, parked to the left and facing the first, is obviously of Shivan design, and shows up as the SJ Dante on your ship's sensors. Orestes control notes that both ships are so massive, they exceed the minimum specifications for a juggernaut by at least five times.
You order your wing, Alpha, as well as Beta and Gamma wings to form up and wait for further orders. As your wingmen do so, Beta 1 voices a question: Why are they not fighting?
The Temeraire sidesteps this question by remarking that the rotating devices of the Preserver are generating some strange energy readings in the jump node. When Orestes control asks if it is a weapon, Temeraire control returns an inconclusive response and suggests being on the alert just to be safe.
As the fleet waits, you pick up a heated argument going on between the two juggernauts.
The Preserver, representing the Great Preserver Vishnu, demands that the Dante grants the 14th Battlegroup passage. However, the Dante, representing the Great Destroyer Shiva, refuses to do so, adding that the Terran fleet is not what the Shivans are looking for. The Dante then asks the Preserver why the Vishnans are protecting the Terrans. The Preserver brushes the question off, stating that Shiva is no position to exercise judgement on the Terrans. The Preserver adds that the 14th Battlegroup does not belong here, rebukes Shiva for failing to fulfil its duty, and questions it over its reason for relentlessly pursuing them even when they no longer pose a danger.
The Dante's terse reply: The Terrans are just like them. They destroy. The Dante then laments that the Terrans do not create like "the Brahmans of old" and are "a threat to those" of "the potential" they are looking for.
Vishnu feels otherwise. Vishnu has seen the Terrans create communities where they could live peacefully alongside their former enemies, the Vasudans. They have created peace from war, a peace where the two races, once the most bitter of enemies, are now the closest of allies. Vishnu expostulates that both the Terrans and Vasudans "exhibited potential".
An unusually long pause follows, before Shiva replies with two simple words:
As soon as you hear the Dante utter those words, the Orestes and Temeraire pick up multiple wings of Shivan fighters and bombers jumping in all around the battlegroup. At the same time, the Preserver and Dante begin exchanging beam salvos.
Disregard the Preserver and Dante. Engage incoming Shivan bombers, and be careful of bomb shockwaves.
Just as Shivan forces come within striking distance of the 14th Battlegroup, the Preserver sends out a message to the entire fleet:
You alert the Orestes, but it was unnecessary; they caught the message as well. The Preserver has finished making alterations to the jump node to send the fleet back to your home universe. Without hesitation, the Orestes orders all ships to make a run for the node.
Be sure to keep an eye on the overall situation. Use the F3 menu to highlight Shivan wings if need be. If any of the vulnerable cruisers come under attack, sortie your wingmen to defend them.
You can lose up to three cruisers in this mission and still pass. Every other ship must get through to the node, no matter what happens. If you lose anything larger than a cruiser, the mission ends immediately and is considered a failure.
The last ship to jump out will always be the Sanctuary. When it does, the battlefield falls silent once again, as the two juggernauts conclude their argument.
Vishnu expresses its disappointment at Shiva for betraying the Vishnans while pursuing its own agenda. Vishnu banishes Shiva from the Great Council formed by Brahma in the First Time. With what can only be described as universal finality, Vishnu orders Shiva to remove its brethren, the Shivans, from "this place" and never return, adding that, in time, the Vishnans will find "another caretaker" but it will not be them.
With these unsettling words, the Dante jumps out.
Vishnu now turns its attention to you.
- It's unclear whether the jump home would have succeeded without Vishnan assistance.
- The Spacesuit was originally available for use in this mission. It has been removed since the Director's Cut release of Age of Aquarius.
- In the original version of this mission, the Dante would always end up dealing more damage to the Preserver as the latter is almost unable to fire back, save for one beam turret, due to positioning issues. The Preserver receives a hitpoint buff in the Director's Cut, and the sole beam turret that has an unobstructed view of the Dante will target and destroy one of the Dante's main beam cannons each time it fires. In this fashion, the Preserver usually ends up robbing the Dante of any powerful forward armaments by the final cutscene.
- The Shivan determination to wipe out the Terran presence in Preserving the Balance was a harbinger of what is revealed here: the Shivans and Vishnans appear to be carrying on a dispute over the suitability of the Terrans and Vasudans for some unknown purpose. The Vishnans are optimistic, but the Shivans are not.
- Whether the Vishnans play a regulatory role, superior to the Shivans, whether they are genuinely the other side of the coin from the Shivans, and how this schema fits into the idea that the Shivans are both preservers and destroyers remains unclear.
- The revelations in the dialogue between the Preserver and the Dante are ambiguous. The war between the two powers may be over, or it may continue to rage in this universe, or even between or across numerous universes.
- Do not concern yourself with the fighters. Your allied fighters and warships will take care of them on their own. Focus on the Shivan bombers instead. If you go after them, you will do just fine and you will get many more kills to boot. The two Rakshasa cruisers that jump in midway through the mission will also be taken care of eventually without your intervention.
Total number of forces
(*) May be replaced with the GTF Hercules Mark II, GTF Ares, GTF Perseus, GTF Myrmidon, GTB Artemis, GTB Ursa, GTB Boanerges, GTF Aurora and/or GTF Kulas
(**) May be replaced with the GTF Hercules Mark II, GTF Ares, GTF Perseus, GTF Myrmidon, GTB Artemis, GTB Ursa, GTB Boanerges and/or GTF Aurora
(***) May be replaced with the GTF Hercules Mark II, GTF Ares, GTF Myrmidon, GTB Artemis, GTB Ursa, GTB Boanerges, GTF Aurora and/or GTF Kulas