The Let's Play Archive

Escape Velocity: Nova

by Decoy Badger

Part 28: Federation - Part 03 - December 30th, 1179 NC: Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the Councilor?

December 30th, 1179 NC: Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the Councilor?

The Enterger 9 isn't the toughest ship, but it can certainly dish out the pain. Several pirates find out the hard way that we aren't the harmless freighter they were expecting.

While taking on a bounty hunting mission and blazing away at the target, a Fed Viper engages in a dogfight with a Rebel Viper. It goes on for an action-packed minute, with tons of maneuvering and snap-shots. Despite having the armour advantage, the Rebel pilot builds up too much inertia to dodge and the Fed pilot manages to get on their tail. A burst of blaster fire and the Rebel viper is space-toast.

Even in Sol these pirates and terrorists keep coming. We kill off a few Pirate Manticores and Valkyries after they manage to disable the rather light garrison. Failing to capture them for personal use hurts, but is no great loss. We land on the Kane band.


You feel a familiar tap on your shoulder and you turn to see a young soldier who indicates that you should follow him. You are lead to the room with the single blinding spotlight facing the door.

"It's about time you checked in," comes the lovely voice of Commander Krane. "Obviously I have found something that I can use to further test how loyal you really are."

You hear the familiar creaks of her chair as her weight shifts.

"Are you still interested in working for the Bureau?"
I don't think we have a choice at this point.


"Welcome to black-ops," she begins. "This operation is highly classified. It's only made legal because of our charter which gives us exceptional powers of arrest in times of emergency. As you are probably aware, the Third Auroran War has never been declared over, because, in reality, while the battles in space are over we are now warring in the fields of politics and intrigue.

"We have arrested someone who is deliberately undermining our efforts in these areas," she continues explaining. "His name is Faran Kurik, you may have heard of him."

You remember something about him being a political activist on the news vids.

"We can link him to any number of enemy intel agencies," she breathes, "and in the last few weeks he has been calling into question our very charter. We want to check him out thoroughly. Go to Dunroamin in the Journey's End system to pick him up.

"Be warned," she says seriously, "we believe that he has ties with the rebels, and you can expect them to try to stop us from talking to him."
They try to stop us from talking to him in the form of two Rebel Valkyries. The Rebels prove to be a lot better at stopping 200mm railgun rounds than they are at stopping us.


You barely recognize the hunched, sad-looking figure as the Faran Kurik from the news vids. As the counter-intel team brings him past you he looks at you out of the depths of his misery.

"I hope you're proud of yourself," he mumbles. You shrug.

While you remain unsure about the morality of the tactics used by the Bureau in this 'spy war,' you are worldly enough to know that in war no one is innocent, and sometimes certain actions which would normally be abhorrent are necessary. You are also beginning to realize that Krane is deliberately assigning these missions to you, and possibly even lying about their very nature to see how far you are willing to go. So far you are unsure as to whether or not this is your thing, but you get the feeling from the way the missions have been ramping up that you will have to make your decision soon.

After stowing Mr. Kurik in your cargo bay the leader of the team comes forward and in a respectful voice tells you that they are ready to go any time you are.
Well, game, thanks for spoiling the plot. On the way back to Earth, we spot a marauding Terrapin. It's not notable, just cute.


You look on as Faran Kurik is dragged away under relatively light guard. Your questions regarding the tactics used by the Bureau in this 'war' remain, but for now you have continued to stay loyal to the Bureau, but you get the feeling that crunch time is not too far away.

You shake yourself our of your reverie as the leader of the team you ferried back here comes over and thanks you for your help. She politely passes on the message that Commander Krane would like to see you before you leave.


Once again you make your way to the seemingly empty office, this time walking in confidently.

"Welcome back," comes the beautiful voice of Commander Krane. "Another successful mission. Things are looking good. It looks as though I might have to step up the timetable for someone as worldly as yourself.

"But so far you have performed admirably," she praises you smoothly, "I only really have one remaining question as to the level of your loyalty. Unfortunately I am going to have to wait until the right moment presents itself to test you for it. But for now, you are free to do your own thing. If I need you, I'll make contact with you in the bar as usual. You will find a significant sum of money has been transferred into your account. Enjoy yourself Kirk Picard."
Enough money to buy a handful of missiles, while we have enough to gold-plate our entire ship. While flying about I spot yet another named merchant. Hari Seldon was the last one, but I don't know the reference here. Lord of the Rings?

Krane has more work for us.


You feel a familiar tap on your shoulder and you turn to see a young soldier who indicates that you should follow him. You are lead to the room with the single blinding spotlight facing the door.

"Excellent!" exclaims the lovely voice of Commander Krane. "You are just in time. I was going to have to send someone else if you hadn't checked in when you did."

You hear the familiar creaks of her chair as her weight shifts.

"I warn you now, this one will be tough," you have never heard the beautiful voice sound so serious. "But you will probably find out exactly the way things stand around here as a result of this mission. Are you still interested?"


"This is another black-op," she explains. "But I am going to be sending you in blind. I want to find out exactly where your loyalties are, and I can only do that by seeing how you react in the field.

"As usual, we want you to pick up a team and their prisoner," she continues calmly. "They are on Port Kane in the Kania system. That is all I will tell you for now. If you return here it will either be because you have proved your loyalties or because our enemies have destroyed us. I know which one I am hoping for.

"Good luck, Captain Kirk Picard."
The trip in isn't too bad, just a handful of Rebel Lightnings to take care of. Did I mention just how awesome our Hellhound missiles are at taking down fighters? They're fast, hard to jam and have an ionizing AoE effect. They also look damn cool except when they blow up in your face.


As you pilot your way into one of Port Kane's docks, your comm system lights up and you receive a message from the leader of the counter-intel team you are supposed to be picking up telling you to meet them in the bar, they need your help on the ground.

You wonder what help a single civilian could give, but as soon as you land you jump out of your ship leaving the engines hot in case you need to leave quickly and head off towards the bar.
Hundreds of planets and 95% of the plot is confined to about a dozen of them.


You walk in to see the four members of the counter-intel team crouching behind the bar trying to drag an uncooperative man in a rumpled yet obviously expensive suit towards the door whilst exchanging fire with civilians similarly behind cover trying to pin them down.

"Help us out here!" yells the leader of the c-int team.

You are about to draw your blaster and lay down covering fire when the man being manhandled towards the door looks up and with a shock you recognize him as the elected Port Kane representative to the Federation Council.

"Please," he pleads between blows from his captors, "I was only trying to set up a meeting with rebel representatives so that they can present their side of the issue. The Bureau can't be allowed to kill freedom of speech as well."

"Shut up!" hisses one of the c-int soldiers, clubbing the politician with her blaster.

You realize that you must make your choice. Will you stay loyal to the Bureau even if it means violating one of the 'inalienable rights' of the Federation?
1) We are currently in plain view of four heavily armed Bureau agents.
2) We don't negotiate with terrorists.
Let's get shooty!


In a split second you make the decision to stay with the Bureau and you pull out your blaster and start firing into the back of the now smoke-filled room in order to allow the c-int team to get out. From there two members of the team take charge of dragging the now unconscious councilor along while the rest of you lay down fire on anyone emerging from the bar.

As soon as you get onto your ship you start to rush through your pre-flight routine as quickly as you possibly can, leaving out every non-essential item you can.

As you work the leader of the c-int team comes forward to thank you for your help, "It was pretty hairy out there," she grins. "The intel we got about how popular that guy was with his people was a little inaccurate."

That comment makes you wonder if Krane had these guys deliberately duped in order to make you take a hand directly.

'Oh well,' you think, 'that's one way of making someone prove themselves.'
Time to get the hell out of here. This part is extremely frustrating: The Leviathan is big, slow and takes about a minute to explode from the killing blow, and the game spawns no less than five Rebel carriers to chase you down. It took me about half an hour to survive this 30-second gameplay segment. Fuck this mission - this is exemplary of just how erratic the difficulty curve of this game is.

See the red dots? That's a whole load of FUCK YOU with Kirk Picard's name written all over it.

Argh! I can't even survive long enough to get to the Hypergate literally 50 pixels away from Port Kane. Somehow I eventually manage to squeeze through, and then jump to Earth with no shields left and the Rebels in hot pursuit.

Oh gods, why? I died so much that I discovered a new feature in the game. If you play on "quiet" or "no bloody noise" sound settings to avoid the minute of siren wailing accompanying yet another death, you get a visible pulsing hostile alert overlaying your screen.

We make it back to Earth with barely enough armour remaining to keep the vacuum out. If this is how the Bureau protects its agents...


You watch impassively as the unconscious former councilor is carried off your ship. You have made your choice, and your loyalty lies here, with the only organization that has the ability to do what needs to be done to take humanity beyond its current bickering state and on into a glorious future. If there are a few casualties along the way, so what?

Without even being politely reminded you head off to Krane's office to find out if she fully trusts you now.
If they were so willing to mount such a large rescue operation he really must have been a Rebel agent. Why wasn't the Port Kane militia sent out?


Surprisingly the room is well lit when you arrive, and inside you see a tall slim attractive woman in her mid-thirties with blue eyes and curly ash-blonde hair.

"Commander Krane?" you ask a little tentatively.

"Congratulations, Captain Kirk Picard," comes the reply and you recognize that perfect voice instantly, "it seems that I can trust you after all. After the last couple of missions when you came back with doubts all over your face I began to wonder if you were going to make it past this last hurdle, but obviously I was wrong."

She sits down in an ancient chair which creaks every time she moves.

"It might be a while before I need you for anything worthy of your talents," she muses, "I don't want to start sending you off on stupid little assignments that can be handled by c-int teams, your efforts on the Federation front-line proved that you are worth more than that. In the meantime you are being given the naval rank of commander, which is the rank given to all Bureau field operatives that might have to deal with the Federation military. It means you get a meager salary, you get a discount when purchasing our goods and you don't have to buy licenses to get most things. The only licenses you are still required to purchase are the 'fighter bay license' and the 'capital warships license'.

"Add all that to the fat contribution we just made to your bank account, and you should be enjoying a merry time of it until we require your services again!"
The big reveal: She's not fat. Were we supposed to have expected Baron Harkonnen? Now we get 200 credits a day, not enough to even feed our pet Cunjo. We already bought every license we could a long time ago to boot. At least now we can buy some military ships.


You feel a familiar tap on your shoulder and you turn to see a young soldier who indicates that you should follow him. You are lead to the room which has the single spotlight facing the door. Except that this time the spotlight is off and the normal room lights are on.

"There's no longer a need for that level of security," explains the blue-eyed Commander Krane in response to your unspoken question. "And I'm glad you checked in. I believe that I have something that is uniquely suited to your talents."

You hear the familiar creaks of her chair as her weight shifts.

"How do you feel about going undercover with the Rebels, Commander? Interested?"
We have an official rank now!


"What I want you to do," Krane continues, "is to head over there, do their bidding for a while and eventually get inside their organization. We'll spread the rumor that you are on the run from us after trying to rescue the councilor. That should be enough to get you started.

"If, during your travels," she shifts again, "you see a ship called the 'Prodigal Son', it'll be because we want to contact you. Finish your current mission then come to the bar here and we'll go through the normal procedure. Perhaps it would be best if you continually checked the Earth bar, in case you miss the 'Prodigal Son', or if we can't put it in your path.

"Go now to Rebel II in the Koria system," she orders with quiet authority, "and tell the rebels you want to aid them somehow, as the Bureau is not what you thought it was. They will take it from there.

"Be careful, Kirk Picard," she warns sincerely. "I only just recently gained your services, I don't want to lose you now."
This section is word-for-word the same as in the Vell-os missions. Go and reread those if you want, but we just move some supplies, save some agents, and meet General Smart. Krane signals and we meet back up a few months later.


As you step off your ship you see the stunning figure of Commander Krane waiting for you.

"You took your time Kirk Picard," she begins in her beautiful voice. "Tell me what's been happening."

You make your report and she is very interested to hear about the appearance of General Smart and that you are now rescuing agents. She asks you to expand on a few points and after another ten minutes or so of grilling you she relaxes, satisfied.

"Good work," she congratulates with a pretty smile, "you have done well! Now we must start using your position to best advantage.

"From here on in," she states, "I want you to bring any rebels you pick up here and we will do a quick body switch, so that we can start planting a few agents in amongst their network. Hopefully they will start getting you to place agents in future, and then we will be really getting somewhere.

"In the mean time," she continues meaningfully, "I want you to deliver this message pod to my man on Earth, you know who he is. Good luck!"
He tells us to keep on infiltrating. No real point to this mission.


As you head back to your ship you cannot help but grin. It is always good to be working for an organization that is not only professional, but is also ruthless. Ruthless not only with those it is striving against, but also with its own members. You cannot wait to get into these rebel agent replacement missions.
The last run around, we cried for two hours instead. Off we go. Once again, it's the same shtick as in the Vell-os missions.

Terminus. I have no idea what this is from. We head to Honor to pick up our charge.

Honor posted:

The first thing you notice about Honor is the weather. While extremely changeable, the rains are never extreme (more like sun-showers), and the hot days never too bright or too hot. Honor is seen by the Taoists as the perfect example of balance, and there are many temples of that philosophy here, as well as Shaolin Buddhists. Honor puts one in mind of a picture perfect day in the ancient Middle Kingdom on Earth, and certainly many of the population are oriental in background. By general unspoken agreement, Honor is fairly low tech, with any areas that must be modern discreetly hidden from casual view. The spaceport is often missed by tourists from the air.

Honor's Bar posted:

On entering this bar you see a number of young Shaolin monks drinking heavily. You are about to question why when the bartender tells you that they are attempting to train in some style of drunken martial arts. You find this idea amusing, but you decide not to push the issue just in case.


You land and go through your normal post-flight checklist as normal. When you are finished you head outside to stretch your legs and await the arrival of your passenger.

Within five minutes he arrives and you bring him on board giving him the regulation five minute tour. Then you head back up to your cockpit to begin preparing to take him off to New England in the Wolf 359 (system) so that Commander Krane can start to organize the infiltration of the Rebel network.
Being Evil pays some dividends - there is despair, but it isn't ours this time.


Your passenger exits straight into the arms of the waiting Bureau 'investigators'. He looks confused for a second before going red and turning on you, enraged. He lunges only to be forcefully restrained by the pick up team.

"You're going to pay for this!" the rebel agent yells with impotent fury.

"Well I doubt it will be by your hand," you state sardonically. "Enjoy your all expenses paid for holiday my friend, care of the Bureau."

One of the men restraining the rebel club him over the head with a short baton and he slumps unconscious.

"Good thinking," nods the leader and the man is dragged away. She turns to you, "Commander Krane isn't around at the moment, but I'll make sure she hears about this. We will have a replacement for you to take back to the rebels in a few hours. Meet us in the bar."
We return to Merroll with the Bureau agent and get paid for our efforts. We're hit up next to start performing insertions.

A whole bevy of references abound on our way to the pickup. New Sydney is a Star Trek planet, J.L. Seagull is a pretty terrible novel. I have no idea what Coventina specifically refers to.


Fiona looks a little confused when she sees the Bureau strongarms when she steps out of your hatch. Comprehension comes slowly as she turns to you in despair. You have no wish to hear any of her whining so you give a push and she stumbles into the arms of the waiting Bureau team.

"Thanks," says one of them casually as another smashes her over the head a few times with the short batons they all seem to carry.

"Commander Krane left a message that she will make contact with you soon and that you are being temporarily relieved from active duty," says the attractive team leader as her team drags away the unconscious rebel. "She says to keep an eye out in bars and mission BBS's around the place in case she needs to get in contact with you. We will take care of the rest of this operation to replace her with one of our own."

You take a few moments to savor the sight of the team leader walking away from you and you wonder why Krane has taken you off the active duty list.
What's interesting here is the text you get if your gender is female: "You spend a few moments thinking on the necessity of your actions as the team leader walks away from you..." The female is supposed to be less inherently violent?


"Good to see you again Commander," begins the stunning Krane brusquely. "I have something that I think needs your delicate touch."

She indicates that you should sit on the sidewalk bench beside her and you comply. She pulls out her datapad and calls up a display of what appears to be a very detailed map of Auroran space.

"We have been working out the details of a long-range plan," she explains, "that involves the Aurorans. Our preparations are nearing completion and we want to confirm that our intel on the political situation amongst our neighbors is correct. Of course, the other reason I want you to go is because I am going to be sending you on a number of missions amongst the Aurorans, and this is an easy way for you to familiarize yourself.

"How do you feel about a short jaunt into the Auroran Empire?"


"Good," she continues in a business-like tone. "I knew I could count on you.

"Obviously," she tells you with a casual wave, "I can't reveal to you any details of the coming operation for reasons of operational security, so you'll be going into this a little blind. I'm sorry, but I'm sure you understand."

You nod and indicate that she should continue.

"I want you to head down to Moash in the Moash system," she informs you after referring to the map on her datapad. "Have a quick look around, find out what you can about their current status politically, economically and militarily. When you've given the place the once over, head back here and report to me.

"Any questions?" she asks. "No? Good. Well, then good luck, Captain Kirk Picard. Have fun!"
We're no longer a Captain, damnit. We're the Commander!

Next time: Political and literal maneuvering!

Now, if you choose to rescue the councilor instead you're immediately thrust into the Rebel storyline, with some impressive cutscene powers to boot:


You quickly decide that there is a line you won't cross and you draw out your blaster and shoot dead the surprised four man c-int team.

The councillor gets up and dusts himself off before coming over to shake your hand.

"Thank you," he says sincerely, "I owe you my life. These men would have destroyed my mind for some pathetic spy-game benefit. They'll be after you too now. I suggest that you get the hell out of the Federation as soon as possible. My only suggestion would be for you to go to Rebel planet of Merrol in the Aldebaran system and ask for Jay in the bar. He might be able to make you disappear into the everyday life of a freighter captain.

"You never know," he grins, "from there you could go on to become a high-ranking member of the Rebellion. I am going to head out of Federation space myself. Today has shown me that I cannot survive for much longer if I stay here.

"Whatever you decide to do, Captain," he claps you on the shoulder manfully, "I wish you luck."