Part 12: Love the treason...
Right, first thing's first. After that exciting last mission:
Love the treason...
As you can see, we're escorting a transport, the NTT Sunder, and the NTF is taking it seriously - each fighter icon is a full wing of four Hercules II Fighters.
Watch this briefing here / Mirror
or Listen here! / Mirror
Pretty simple, really - the GVD Psamtik's battle group is kicking NTF ass, and the NTF is redeploying to compensate. One of the things involved is the NTT Sunder, which has a cargo that's very highly classified. And a twenty-eight fighter escort. Snipes is flying Beta 1, and I'm leading Alpha wing in Alpha 1.
The mission starts and we're looking at one well-protected freighter. I feel almost sorry for whoever's going to screw with this crew.
With no warning, my ship gets rocked by an explosion: It's one of my wingmen blowing up out of nowhere:
To make matters worse, every NTF pilot auto-highlights red on my HUD. They're just as surprised as I am, but I react faster. Red means more kills, so I snap into a turn and frag the remaining two fighters from Alpha as quickly as my guns can cycle.
Unfortunately, only half the NTF Hercs exploded ... and seven of the remainder come right for me, guns blazing.
While busy shooting me, some of the remaining NTF pilots whine about a reactor core breech and that Snipes and I are traitors. Whoever put this plan together sucks, and I'd like to know what the hell is going on while we're at it.
Long story short, I took out the guys shooting at me and smoked a cigar. Then I sort of noticed Snipes was ... having a bad day. So I scraped these four Hercs off him. They were so intent on hammering shots into Snipes' tailpipes (useful protip: He's invulnerable) that I had no problems picking off two on my first pass and a third soon thereafter. The fourth died trying to run.
Snipes brings out one of the best complaints in the game about why ALL the NTF fighters did not mysteriously explode: "I even followed the directions!" (Listen to this here) Apparently he and the crew chief of the 185th (ALSO a GTVI agent) set bombs in every NTF fighter but they had a relatively low success rate. Even better, the jammers they put on the NTF com systems, well...didn't work. The plan is to hijack the NTT Sunder, whose pilot is - guess - a GTVI infiltrator. One has to wonder at this point how many members of the NTF are actually loyal. I'm really guessing 5. Our wingmen? Also GTVI infiltrators, they just forgot to get the memo. Admiral Bosch? Also a GTVI infiltrator. It's all a giant scam so the GTVI can practice infiltrating things.
So those jammers? Yeah. Way to screw that up too, Snipes And Crew Chief:
Two wings of NTF Herc-I fighters pop in, and Snipes tells them some sad-sack story about a "new kind of fighter." Well, yes, I am a new kind of fighter, by which I mean dashingly good looking, competent, availabl---oh.
This time, Snipes even has the decency to warn me, instead of letting me suddenly watch over a dozen NTF Herc-II's go hostile, so I'm ready and waiting behind some poor sap's exhaust when his friends he mentions warp in. It's GO TIME:
The GTVI apparently has AWACS support. Let's hope this sucker can jam enemy transmissions better than Snipes and his crew chief's bombs -- still, as long as the Hamako's alive, NTF Command will be none the wiser about our skullduggery and think we're still loyal and devoted rebel pilots.
And hey maybe he wasn't lying about those "new kind of fighters." Meet the GTF Erinyes heavy fighter, flown by the SOC's elite squadron, the 99th Skulls:
A little note about these Erinyes fighters. They're a heavy fighter, like the Herc II, but they have the distinct advantage of being one hell of a lot better. Though their secondary capacity is relatively low, they carry a 2x4 front battery of guns, for a total of eight cannon slots. Further, the 99th Skulls are using the UD-8 Kayser, the most powerful fighter weapon in the GTVA arsenal. For a bit of comparison, the Subach HL-7s I'm using do 67.5/52.5 damage per second to armor/shields. Kaysers do 112/100.8 dps - a third and almost twice as powerful. Although it's not as important, the bolts travel faster and have a longer range with nearly the same refire rate.
As you can probably tell, I want them. Yesterday. The plan is, the Charybdis AWACS will jam NTF communications (so we have to keep it alive) and the eight Skulls, in Skull Alpha and Skull Beta wing, will help us cover the Sunder to the Regulus jump node, where the GTVI will detonate a decoy transport (thus fooling Bosch as to the fate of the Sunder) while GTVI really steals the thing and hopes it can shed some light on the ETAK project.
The NTF, even though everything SHOULD be normal, really wants this transport. A damaged GTC Aeolus cruiser and seven more Herc-Is pop in for a quick look. The Aeolus is, bar none, the finest anti-fighter platform in this game. It bristles with flak guns and anti-fighter beam weapons, its only real weakness being a relatively weak hull compared to a corvette such as the Deimos and relatively weak - though excellently placed, paired turrets right on the nose of the cruiser - light anti-capital ship beam guns. Still, don't sell it short - in some tests set up by other FS2 fans, an Aeolus can stand up to twenty Shivan bomber wings before finally falling to the death of a thousand cuts, because those bombers don't tend to actually get real bomb hits.
The Skulls finish off this damaged cruiser so fast, it never has time to establish a solid flak perimeter and pick off everyone with its beams. Not that I'm complaining I don't have to wade through a near-certain death.
The NTF tries again at the jump node with the Hellespont, a fully armed and operational battle stat--cruiser. While I wisely choose to ignore it, the Skulls in their rapemobiles steal all my kills:
And just because the GTVI loves us, they jump in a Deimos-class corvette, which flatly outclasses an Aeolus in capship slugging matches. To make it even more lopsided, it comes in with eight more Erinyes fighters as top cover, and the NTF can only manage another wing of six Herc-Is. It's no contest when the odds stack up to be eighteen on six ... before you count the armed AWACS and heavily armed corvette. Here that corvette is blasting the Hellespont with three medium anti-capitalship beam guns:
The result is predictable:
The decoy transport jumped in with the Deimos corvette, Naxos, so we're clear for the Sunder to jump out and the decoy to explode, covering our tracks:
After the Charybdis AWACS, Naxos, and all the Skulls jump out, Snipes and I are left with the wreckage of an Argo-class transport and a case of the Sarcasms:
Snipes: We'll now scuttle the decoy transport. If the Rebs think we destroyed the Sunder, they won't know how much we know. We'll also be able to continue our covert operation. Of course that's if they don't hang us for failing the mission. We might be pushing our luck here, but what the hell."
Yeah thanks for asking me for my input
Snipes: All right Alpha 1. All we need to do is wait for the NTF. Hold your position.
Yeah because this isn't suicidal. The NTCv Sevrin jumps in, and Snipes goes to town on the poor bastard.
Listen to this conversation (as always, BloodWulfe is your savior) here. Seriously listen to it Snipes gets pissed and it's awesome.
Best defense is a good offense! Let's just blame the poor bastard who was supposed to meet with us and the Sunder for all the "failures" our twenty-eight fighter escort had. Then again given how many infiltrators the GTVI has in the NTF, chances are our debriefing officer will just do the secret SOC handshake and we'll be off scot free!
I wonder what'll happen NEXT!
(Again, to BloodWulfe for helping out with the video/audio as always. Teamwork!)