Part 28: Argonautica
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Pretty simple mission here. A Shivan cruiser ambused the Aquitane near the Gamma Draconis node, and managed to disable the Aquitane and her fighter bays (shades of Wing Commander II here, I tell you) so, although the Aquitane's gunners destroyed the Shivan cruiser, they need to send in a transport with parts to make a field repair. It shouldn't take long after the part arrives on an Argo transport (Escorted by an Aeolus-class cruiser, the Agrippa) but until then your wing is tasked with defending the destroyer.
I'd like to point out I find it absolutely amazing the GTVA sends in an escort with the repair freighter. Almost as if they WANT this mission to succeed?
PS: Bring at least one rack of Tempests. And don't fly that damn Serapis. It'll help, trust me. (If you insist on flying the Serapis, bring a set of Maxim guns, but this mission is a prolonged anti-bomber defense. It's actually playing to the Tauret's strength (unbelievably deep secondary bays).
The mission starts with the combat zone already hot: A wing of Maras is tooling around the Aquitane, which is firing back with everything it's got.
Command: Negate the Maras, Alpha. Secure this area on the double.
Aquitane: Thank you for your assistance, Alpha wing. The Argo should be here in under five minutes.
In fact, it will be. It will jump in exactly 280 seconds (for the less math inclined, 4m 40s) from mission start, whether you've finished the Maras or not!
It's not hard to take out the Maras before then. Then you can cruise around and look at the Aquitane's cool looking gun turrets (this is a flak battery I think). Or, I suppose, if you want to make this mission easier on yourself (yeah, I know) you can wait for the Shivans to send in the SCv Abbadon and go hammer it.
You know, I swear "The GTD Aquitane is attacked by an SCv Moloch-class near the Gamma Draconis jump node while inside the nebula" sounds familiar but I can't quite tell you why. Weird feeling.
Anyway, it's easiest for this mission if you smash the Moloch with your Tempests (see!) and take it down to 25% quickly, then disengage and attack the Shivan fighters and bombers - I had bombers spawn just about when I got the Moloch down near 25% hull, which worked out great. (Past 25% and you need heavy weapons like beams or bombs, and Aquitane has the former and you don't have the latter.)
Best of all, in this mission the Aquitane's forward BGreen, instead of its slash beams, has the angle on the Abbadon.
Aquitane: Alpha, this is the Aquitaine. You take care of the fighters, we'll worry about the Abaddon. Destroy its beam turrets if you get the opportunity.
So although the corvette fires first,
The Aquitane fires harder:
Which lets you tuck up reallllly close to the Abbadon (after taking out its main beam and a pesky flak emplacement) and hitting it until you can hurt it no more:
Also this shot looks really weird if you have no idea what's going on, I think. For reference I'm tucked up behind the main 'fin' on the dorsal side of the corvette, hammering away.
Just keep killing bombers from then on; if you brought Abbadon down to 25%, the Aquitane will finish it off before you can even worry about it, and without its main gun, it does basically no damage to the destroyer.
Command: We have nullified the Abaddon!
About a minute before the Argo arrives, the Aquitane will announce they've taken enough hits that they're going to send out some escape pods to ensure as many of the crew gets off, in case of the worst:
Now the pods don't travel very far before making a quick jump out, but it goes without saying you should eliminate every Shivan nearby to ensure they DO get out.
Aquitane: All escape pods have jumped out safely.
Aquitane: Aquitaine here. That's the last of the escape pods. It's do or die for the rest of us.
Anyway, right on schedule, the Argo (actually the Argo, the very first Argo transport ever right here if the GTVA follows naming conventions like modern navies) and the Agrippa show up. Defending the Argo on its run to the Aquitane is thus very easy.
Agrippa: This is the GTC Agrippa. We are now in position, Command.
The rest of the mission is straightforward. Defend the Aquitane and the Argo transport from the Shivan fighters and bombers (they send in quite a few of each)
This, of course, is the best way to kill bombers:
WHO'LL BLINK FIRST!? (Hint: Them, because you destroyed them.)
Argo: Argo transport here. Now initiating docking sequence. We're almost there, Aquitaine.
Argo: This is the Argo. We have secured our dock point. Materials are now being transferred to the Aquitaine.
Command: What's your status, Aquitaine?
Aquitane: Repairs are 50% complete. Core module has been replaced. We are now running diagnostics.
So basically this entire mission has been "Defend the FedEx guy while he delivers the critical part." Good to know we're really doing our part for the war effort, huh?
Anyway, as soon as the Argo docks, Command pulls the Agrippa out. I'm not really sure why they felt the need to give the cruiser a two-minute head start back out of the nebula, but they do.
Command: Good work. Agrippa, we need to pull you out. Proceed immediately to the Gamma Draconis node.
Agrippa: Roger that, Command. Good luck, Aquitaine. Agrippa out.
Once the Aquitane's engines are back on line, it heads right for the node; the Argo stays docked with it. Defending them both is a matter of killing the Shivan wings which have an obnoxious tendency to jump in on opposite sides of the destroyer; afterburn out to get one side and then you have to hustle back to get the other.
Aquitane: Command, we are 2,000 meters from the Gamma Draconis node. ETA one minute.
And there we go.
Aquitane: Aquitaine here. Initiating jump drive sequence. See you in Gamma Draconis, Alpha. Thanks for your help.
After the Aquitane jumps out, stick around. Send your wingmen home if you like. Aquarius wing will keep jumping in reinforcements, four at a time, until you get to Aquarius 24; basically 6 full wings of 4 bombers will spawn regardless of mission status. This means free kills, because although they have the Infyrno fighter-suppression warhead, it's pretty easy to just suck up the few stray seekers which will hit you or pop a couple decoys every time one detonates, thus ensuring more or less immunity while you fill the bombers with cannon and missile fire. Chances are they've only been able to deploy eight or so bombers, maybe twelve, by the time the Aquitane makes it out to Gamma Draconis.
I ended up with 23 Nahema kills on this mission, and a total of 37. Statpadding, never!
Oh and we're getting an awful lot of medals here. Here's the haul so far:
(Click for full-size)
As if you have to ask whether I'll accept or not.