Part 11: Rebels & Renegades
Rebels & Renegades
So to nobody's surprise, I volunteered for SOC's dangerous covert operation. I'm not sure why they felt the need to get yet another agent inserted into the NTF when we're busy kicking their ass eight ways from Sunday with the Colossus, but hey.
Watch this Command Briefing Here / Mirror
Audio-only of this Command Brief Here / Mirror
Special Operations Command (SOC) is an organization that works with Galactic Terran-Vasudan Intelligence, the GTVI. SOC missions are carried out deep in enemy territory, with "minimal logistical support" ... yeah, we know what that means. SOC does infiltration, sabotage, surgical strikes, and intelligence gathering.
Unsurprisingly I'll be doing all four of those. My mission is to work undercover within the Neo-Terran Front, leading Alpha Wing of the 185th Fighter Squadron.
...Let's pause a minute here. The NTF is either so desperate or so stupid they'll let some random guy walk up, join up, and then lead a fighter wing? Stylish guys Or ... is there a deeper meaning?
My contact is Lt. Commander Christopher Snipes, otherwise known as The Coolest Guy In The GTVA. Seriously. He's been undercover for six months, and will helpfully give me my "NTF" objectives as well as my "SOC" objectives, because we have a secure comm system helpfully preinstalled in our fighters.
What are we doing undercover? We're looking into the NTF's "Project ETAK." Nobody knows what ETAK is, but GTVI wants to. They do know it's centered around the Iceni - remember that frigate in the asteroid? It's Bosch's personal project - he oversees it directly, so it's important to him.
And then they leave me with this. It's titled "A Final Warning," but they might as well have titled it "FORESHADOWING"
"We are working with the full cooperation of Vasudan Tactical Command and the Terran 6th Fleet. The probability that you will have to engage Allied fighters will be minimal. However, should you come under Allied attack, you have limited authorization to return fire in self-defense or to complete your mission objectives as defined by Lieutenant Commander Snipes. Show restraint, and use your judgement."
Watch the Mission Briefing / Mirror
Listen to the Mission Briefing / Mirror
The mission itself is pretty simple. Snipes briefs the NTF pilots, including you, telling you that because of Admiral Koth's defeat (here is where I whistle innocently) Bosch is evacuating the Iceni into the Regulus system. The Regulus jump node happens to be located inside an asteroid field, so we're deployed to pop a few rocks along the way and to provide top cover in case any bad guys show up. Which they won't, because GTVI is on top of this situation! FULL COOPERATION with the Vasudans and the 6th Fleet.
So, mission start. Snipes talks to me over our secure channel and asks me to get a scan of the Iceni, hopefully we can get some information about ETAK.
BONUS POINTS: There's an NTF science vessel, a GTSC Faustus called the Hinton here, too. Let's scan it, because scanning is totally the best part of this game. Remember when I said Fenris cruisers had the hull strength of reinforced paper? Well, science vessels don't even bother to reinforce the paper. I'm pretty sure this thing dropped to 80% hull strength because I looked at it once.
It's totally safe though, look at all these Lokis. They don't suck, remember?
And suddenly, out of nowhere, Vasudans show up! A GVC Mentu cruiser, the Yaaru, escorted by a wing of heavy fighters, and a wing of Sekhmet bombers. I have to give the NTF credit - the Iceni was blasting the Yaaru just as it finished the jump. Itchy trigger fingers!
Here's a random fact. To get credit for a kill, you have to do the most damage to a target, and do at least 20% of the total damage dealt to a target. Funny thing is though, beam fire doesn't count. It's as if that damage never happens for calculating it. So if, for example, I hammer on this cruiser and the Iceni only uses its beam cannons, I do almost 100% of the "damage" dealt - becaues the only OTHER damage is the Iceni's beams. Which means I got a cruiser kill for pew-pewing it for 15 seconds. Hell yeah.
Oh right Snipes tells me to shoot down bombs and disable turrets and generally not kill people, but that these Vasudans are renegades, so if they shoot at me I can shoot right back. If you stop to listen to his speech, though, I would not get my precious cruiser kill!
The Iceni really doesn't like this cruiser.
Anyway after beating off that attack (haw haw) where my wingmen smoked every fighter and bomber (in conjunction with the Iceni's flak turrets - it's astoundingly well armed for its size) we take a breather, right up to the part where this mission becomes literally one of the most frustrating in the game.
See, to win the mission, get the Iceni to the Regulus node, fine. To finish your secondary objectives, you have to get the Hinton to the Regulus node. And as I mentioned before, it's made of paper. So there's only one real problem with doing this. Right after the Yaaru gets smoked, the Vasudans jump in one of these fuckers:
Let me tell you a little about this Sobek-class corvette:
It has two forward-mounted anti-capital ship beam guns, both of which come to bear on the Hinton really fast. It has no less than two anti-fighter beam guns AND several flak guns which can be brought to bear on you if you try and kill those turrets.
But you have to. If you want the Hinton to have even the slightest chance of surviving more than twenty seconds, much less the mission, you have to go in and disable the Asar's forward anti-capital and anti-fighter beams.
Let me tell you something else about those anti-fighter beams. They ignore your shields. And they don't really miss. Pure hull damage, every time. And you can't dawdle.
See that flare in the upper right? That's a beam gun charging up. That (this screenshot is from a failed attempt, but you'll be seeing a lot of it) leads to this:
OK. Fine. Let's restart the mission:
I'll try Harpoon missiles this time!
Hercules instead of Myrmidon?
FUCK YOU I'VE HAD IT THIS'LL TEACH YOU
Even if you hate Tempest dumbfires, CARRY THEM. They are seriously the only way to make a quick run on a turret, smash it, and then loop out of firing range before a beam cuts you to pieces. Repeat a few times and pull the corvette's fangs.
Crazy melee! (Note the Sobek firing at the Hinton - it got destroyed in about 0.02 seconds - it was at about 90% hull before the Sobek's blast, it's at 14% and dies uh rapidly) and this shot is just cool so I'm sticking it in here, thematic flow be damned. Consider this what you will USUALLY see if you are not lucky enough to nail those turrets without sucking beam yourself.
(Full size (linked) of above shot)
The Iceni helps out:
Actually I'm not sure that last image REALLY conveys the feeling most people have when they've successfully defended the Hinton and killed that fucking corvette. This is a little closer to the mark:
Actually, this image really could be this entire update by itself. It really encapsulates this entire mission. Right here, this is it.
So, the asteroids? yeah whatever. No threat at all because there are about five of them and the Iceni's gunners are bored and tear them to pieces. The Hinton jumps out (THANK YOU GOD) and the Iceni follows:
Oh, and SOC gives me a covert citation (just like they're a covert organization, right)
Explaining to Bosch that we had NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT SERIOUSLY
Probably some other NTF scheming involving the ETAK Project!
NO MORE FUCKING CORVETTES WITH THEIR FUCKING BEAM GUNS WHICH IGNORE MY PERFECTLY GOOD SHIELDS ARGH
(Ignoring shields is a specific beam-gun flag normally not attributed to hostile craft or used at all; I'm not sure any Shivan beam, for example, can do this. But hey this corvette has it )