The Let's Play Archive

Freespace 2

by Psion, BloodWulfe, & Gasket Basket

Part 23: A Flaming Sword

A Flaming Sword

Watch the Command Briefing here / Mirror (10174KB)
Listen to the Command Briefing here / Mirror (1692KB)

I'm going to quote the entire text of this and highlight the "relevant" sections. I think you'll see the theme I'm headed for pretty fast

Admiral Khafre posted:

The Shivan juggernaut Sathanas is now en route to the jump node leading to Terran-Vasudan space. Command ordered all units to rally in Gamma Draconis in three hours' time. Though we have accounted for most of our fleet, at least six warships have failed to reach the rendezvous point. We can wait for them no longer. The GTVA Security Council has authorized the immediate destruction of the Knossos subspace portal.
To demolish the Knossos portal, we will detonate the meson bomb, an experimental new weapon under development at the Hideki Institute in the Vega system. Though its specifications are highly classifed, physicists claim the meson bomb has more explosive power than any other warhead in our arsenal, sufficient to destroy any small craft within a three-kilometer radius. The size of the bomb prohibits tactical deployment.
A small task force will oversee the demolition of the Knossos while the bulk of the allied fleet blockades the jump node leading to the densely-populated Capella system. Command has begun the process of evacuating the two hundred fifty million civilians inhabiting Capella, the largest exodus since the Great War. The Colossus will remain in that system to engage the Sathanas should we fail.

It gets better.

Watch the Mission Briefing here / Mirror (5347KB)
Listen to the Mission Briefing here / Mirror (991KB)

Commander Habu posted:

At 2230 hours, the GTVA announced its plan for the destruction of the Knossos device. For strategic and scientific reasons, we will not attack the portal with the main guns of our warships. The demolition of the subspace portal will be accomplished with the use of the experimental Meson bomb.

You know what? Screw it. This is stupid already. Hey I've got an idea, let's use an experimental warhead instead of the main guns of our capital ships, which could be used to smash the Sathanas in its weak flank and rear areas if it jumps through in case our crackpot scheme doesn't work! How could this get any better?


Once we have eliminated the enemy presence, a freighter carrying the Meson warhead will deposit the bomb at the detonation site. This is the first deployment of the weapon prototype. Because computer simulations predict only a forty percent chance of success, we have two more warheads standing by.

That's it.
I'm going home. Screw you guys. Seriously this idea is so stupid, my cable modem just disconnected out of sheer rage. (I'm not kidding either, it just went out right now. What the hell.)

I mean let's compare.
This is the GTVA's plan. Faced with the impending destruction of the entire GTVA navy, countless millions upon millions of civilian lives, and the eradication of two species, they feel the best weapon to deploy is:

A freighter.

A freighter with an untested bomb that has a sixty percent chance of not working. And they have three bombs, but do they use all three at once? No, of course not - ONE AT A TIME SEEMS LIKE THE OBVIOUS LOGICAL CHOICE.

Here is my plan, perhaps you will recognize it as "tactically sound and not STUPID AS FUCK":

Step 1: Surround Knossos with Mjolnirs, Orions, Hatshepsuts, whatever. Heavy capital ships. Colossus if you feel like it, I don't care, the more the merrier.


Really which one would you think has a higher probability of success?

Ah, well. This is why you are a nameless grunt and the GTVA is a bunch of idiots.
Apropos of nothing, there's a pretty useful button in the ship loadout screen I should've mentioned before.

In the upper left, you'll see the three triangles (or your 'wing' icon) highlighted under the mouse cursor. What this does is automatically duplicates your loadout (primary guns and secondary missiles) from your ship to your entire flight. By default, Alpha is carrying something moronic like generic heat-seeking missiles and Tornadoes. I felt a slightly better missile mix was worth having, so I just slapped this on my craft, hit the button, and then away we go, all 4 members of Alpha loaded out with something useful for a change.

And now, time to save the GTVA's bacon. Again.

Your wingmen form up on you with orders to guard your backside; the corvette Renenet is deployed to your rear, several kilometers from the node. Now many people I know don't like these orders, so they change them. But there's an odd quirk of the mission here which is any order you hand to your wing tends to apply (for some unknown reason) to the GVCv Renenet. So if you order Alpha to protect the Renenet, the corvette is surprisingly unwilling to fire in its own defense, as it's attempting to guard itself. Or something stupid.
So if you micromanage your wingmen (and I'd suggest it) make sure that when bad guys get NEAR the corvette, you order an "all wings, break and attack" command, so that not only your wingmen but the corvette fire freely.
It's useful to micromanage them also so they don't do something stupid like fly into the blast radius of the Meson bombs, which they have a depressing tendency to want to do.

Renenet: Command, this is the Renenet. We have detected 2 wings of Mara fighters 4000 meters from our position. The enemy has not engaged.
Someone needs to work on their ship recognition

So 8 Astaroths. Smart money would suggest ordering your wingmen back to the corvette, luring them close, and getting them picked apart, much like luring the enemy Hercules fighters back to the Rampart oh those many missions ago back in Feint! Parry! Riposte!

Or I could just take on all eight at once, which is much more of an appealing idea. Perhaps out of spite at my superior skills, my wingmen start bitching about the meson bomb:

Alpha 2: It seems improbable a warhead would have sufficient force to demolish a structure of this size.
Alpha 4: Particularly a weapon of Terran design.

Alpha 2: The meson bomb is a join development, Alpha 4. We are full partners in this enterprise.
Renenet: Alpha wing, you would be well advised to concern yourself with the Shivans and leave these matters to the Security Council.

You know, Alpha 4 may be a xenophobic slimy (I have no idea if Vasudans are slimy) windbag, but Alpha 2? I can't really argue with the idea that an experimental 40% chance of success warhead would, indeed, likely fail to destroy this structure. Did nobody else pay attention to the damn briefing?

Anyway, the Astaroths I don't kill on the first pass try and bore in on the Renenet, but when I order a weapons free on my wingmen, the corvette lights them up and that's that.

Just to continue the theme of total incompetence, this exchange happens literally at the same time:
Renenet: Command, we have sanitized the area. All hostiles have been eliminated.
(4 Shivan Maras jump in.)
I'm not even kidding; I checked the mission replay log and these two events fired on the exact same second (02:32 into the mission in my particular playthrough)

Command sends in Lambda 1, the first freighter, with the meson bomb. The Shivans send in three wings each of four Maras, for a total of twelve, but they neglect to do it at the same time. They also have a fascination with killing the Renenet instead of, I dunno, the gigantic bomb near the gate.

Anyway, this is the bomb we're defending. Hooray.

Lambda 1: Command, this is Lambda 1. We are now in position. Initiating undocking sequence now.

Lambda 1 pushes it into position, undocks, and then makes a quick exit via subspace. It looks like the guy's jumping into the nebula, because he's making his jump RIGHT at the gate, but I guess not.

Lambda 1: Meson warhead armed and ready, Command. We're outta here.

Seriously though, look at this location for the bomb. Look at it:


I guess nobody in the GTVA ever had someone ram a stick into the spokes of their space bicycle; you screw up this rotation at ONE point and it goes haywire, but no, let's try and cause minimal damage across maximum area. WOOT 40% chance!
Still, the Meson Bomb is powerful enough you're ordered to stay 3000 meters away from it (or you WILL get killed, I've tested this) so it's one hell of a bang. Let's find out. After you and your wingmen clear out, Renenet starts the countdown:

The best part about this is the Shivans had the misfortune of sending twelve Dragon-class fighters through the gate right as the meson warhead went off. The results are less than pretty...for them.

Right. Way to fail. 40% guys! Oh and I hope you all remembered the Sathanas juggernaut heading for this node right now, I'm glad we took the time to screw off with a "minimum force" approach using the singular worst detonation site possible.
Renenet: Command, we achieved a clean detonation of the meson warhead. However, the Knossos portal remains fully operational.
Command: We will proceed with the second deployment. Demolition pattern Sigma. We will use the remaining meson bombs for this attempt. The Sathanas juggernaut cannot be far away.

Two more bombs come in, and finally have good placement - each tucked close to one end of the Knossos gate structure, drawing a line between them that bisects the gate cleanly in half.
Command: The Meson bombs have drawn the Shivans' attention. Defend the warheads until they are in position and the freighters have cleared the area.

Defending Lambda 2 and 3 is business as usual, swatting Maras with your billions of missiles (I <3 the Tauret).

Here's the placement I was talking about. Notice how this pattern makes sense? Why did we screw around with that first deployment again?

Okay, let's try again. Demolition Pattern Sigma, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Looking good so far!

Oh man.

Hell yes.
Renenet: Command, demolition pattern Sigma has proven successful. The Knossos subspace portal has been destroyed.
Command: Congratulations, Renenet. You just saved millions of lives out there. You'll get a hero's welcome back at the fleet.
Renenet: With all due respect, Command, this is no time for celebration. The destruction of this ancient artifact is an immeasurable loss.
Command: Our scientists have all the data we need to rebuild the portal in the future, Renenet. We just stopped the second Shivan invasion of our home systems!

Epsilon Wing jumped in there midway through the "countdown" to help us finish the job, but there's no real need for them. The point is, finally. No more Knossos.
The GTVA's stupid screwed up half-assed moronic plan ACTUALLY.

Wow. I mean wow. Talk about lucky the stupidest idea in the known universe somehow pulled off, right? "Dramatic tension" heh heh heh.


Oh hey what's that?




Renenet: Command, I'm picking up an incoming jump signature! The Sathanas is entering the system!
Command: That's impossible! Request immediate status update!
Alpha 4: The Jump node between Gamma Draconis and the nebula has stabilized. Our destruction of the Knossos had no effect.
Command: All units, return to base! We're pulling you out! Get out of there, pilots!

Don't have to tell me twice!

(this should also give you a bit of scale as to how enormous the Sathanas is.)