Part 32: Dunkerque
Briefing Video / Mirror 9521KB
Briefing Audio / Mirror 1585KB
At 2345 hours, Allied Command authorized the immediate evacuation of 3rd Fleet Headquarters in the Capella system. The installation has come under heavy fighter and bomber attack. The Shivans are deploying their wings from the SD Nebiros, a Ravana-class destroyer. The 19th squadron, assigned to defend headquarters, has been wiped out.
The evacuation will proceed as follows. Lambda 1, an Argo-class transport, will dock with the installation. Personnel will then board the Argo, which will take them to the GTD Messana. Command will deploy a second transport to extract the remaining personnel on board the installation. The injured have already been transferred to the medical vessel GTM Galen.
After Lambda 2 has docked with the Orion, the Messana will leave the system, and you will be authorized to return to base. You will take Alpha and Delta wings and provide fighter cover for this operation. You must protect the installation, the Messana, and the two transports. Once evacuated, the installation will be destroyed.
We have already extracted non-essential personnel, so the operation should proceed quickly. With the evacuation of Headquarters, the Alliance is preparing to initiate the final phase of its plan to hold the Shivans in Capella.
Dunkerque really isn't that plot-heavy a mission. However, a few numbers might interest you:
Total Shivan fighters during this mission: 28
Total Shivan bombers during this mission: 30
Total enemy craft faced: ~58 (Depending on how fast and whether you fail to protect the transports, a Ravana-class destroyer might jump in, so 58-59)
Total GTVA fighters in-system: 8
This is basically a non-stop rush to take out more or less every single Shivan as soon as possible. And not just the bombers - two wings of fighters have the obnoxious habit of destroying the Lambda transports as they attempt to move between 3rd Fleet HQ and the Messana (which is standing some distance off, presumably in case 3HQ blows prematurely. Or, really, to make this mission hard.)
I'm sure you can guess what I'll be flying and carrying, because I flew it in the last mission, and will be flying it in every mission hereafter. Except the mission where they don't give you enough Trebuchets
Seriously - this mission, as I've said, is the rapid intercept of almost 60 Shivan craft. Bring a missile boat. You'll be volleying a lot of dual Trebuchets at bombers, because when you have 10 Shivan fighters and bombers you need to kill rapidly who are also 4 kilometers apart from one another, well, guns don't reach out that far.
3rd Fleet HQ is the Arcadia station dead ahead, with the GTM Galen medical ship to the left. Upon our arrival, six Manticore fighters are attacking the station. Though they are no particular threat to the rather large station, it's in your best interests to take them out before they get friends who can do more damage.
Just get in range and start blasting them.
Alpha 2: What's your status, HQ?
3rd Fleet HQ: We have sustained minor damage. Evacuation of non-essential personnel complete. We have transferred the injured to the GTM Galen.
You've got Lambda 1 incoming; it takes about thirty seconds after it docks with the station to load its passengers, then it has to head out to the Messana, dock there, and then jump out. After that, Lambda 2 will be deployed and do much the same thing, only it docks faster (presumably, fewer passengers) and it stays docked to the Messana as the latter jumps out.
As an aside, if you don't have the support ship constantly pacing you, you're doing something wrong. I believe I ended up firing 83 Trebuchets this mission. You will be reloading like a Chicago voting machine here; have it pacing you and rearm every time you empty one bank, if not more often. You never know when you'll get swarmed by multiple wings at once and not have time for a rearm.
Messana: This is the GTD Messana. Standing by to receive transports.
After Aries goes down, Virgo (4 Maras) and Pisces (4 Nahemas) jump in just when the GTD Messana also jumps in, ready to recieve the Lambda transports passengers. Several Trebuchets later, three Nephilims from Cancer make their play; a pair of Trebs and some Kayser fire polish off these guys. The Shivans don't let up, though - just assume that another wing of 4 fighters and another wing of 3-4 bombers jumps in every single time you take one wing out and you're pretty much correct. And they come in from all over the place, making this an exercise in redirecting all energy to engines on a regular basis, as well.
The Galen makes it out relatively unscratched; nobody targets it specifically (or I never let anyone near it, either way) so concentrate on other matters.
When you see Leo - 4 Manticores - drop everything and take them out. They jump in 1800 meters from Lambda 1, and go for it full bore. They'll tear it apart if you let them have an unmolested firing pass. (I find it helps to order Alpha to protect the transport from the very start, do the same order for Lambda 2 later. Delta, with orders to protect 3rd Fleet HQ, I leave alone. The Messana can take care of herself as long as it takes for you to get into position to put Trebs up tailpipes.)
...Wait a second.
ZOOM! ENHANCE! FILTER! ENHANCE! ZOOM! CROP! (I hate CSI for this so much)
Oh why it appears to be a large number of Sathanas dreadnoughts just sort of hanging out near the sun. I'm sure THAT'S not an omnious sign or anything.
Next up, Taurus (3 Seraphim):
Cancer (3 Nephilim), Capricorn (3 Mara), and just as Lambda 1 docks with the Messana, Gemini (4 Nahema):
Lambda 1: Lambda 1 here, Messana. Initiating docking sequence.
Lambda 1: This is Lambda 1. Dock point secured. Transferring personnel now.
Messana: Welcome to the Messana. Phase 3 evacuation 50% complete.
Lambda 2: HQ, This is Lambda 2. We are now preparing to dock.
No rest for the weary - even as Lambda 2 jumps in close to the station to begin the final evacuation stage, Aquarius (3 Nahemas, and the first of 18 in this wing)
From now until the end of the mission, Aquarius will jump in, 3 at a time, forcing a near-constant need to be blasting them as fast as possible and as far away as possible. See why I like missile capacity?
Lambda 2: Messana, Lambda 2 here. We have docked with HQ. All remaining personnel are safely on board.
(This should also give you a sense of scale as to how big Arcadias are - pretty big.)
The Shivans, of course, keep sending in Nahemas from Aquarius, and bolster their attack with 3 Maras from Scorpio. Still, it's just wheat to the scythe; not much can stand up to a functionally infinite supply of Trebuchets from five kilometers out. Cheap? Oh yeah. Effective? Very!
When Scorpio bites it, Sagittarius (4 Basilisks) comes in.
And, of course, more bombers from Aquarius.
Lambda 2: Now initiating docking sequence, Messana. Stand by.
Messana: Roger, Lambda 2. You're almost there.
Lambda 2: Lambda 2 here. Docking sequence complete. Jump at your discretion, Messana.
Messana: This is the GTD Messana. Stand clear of the installation. Now initiating remote destruct sequence.
It takes a few seconds for the charges to work, so in the meantime Messana jumps clear:
Messana: Messana here. Engaging subspace drive.
Command: Well done, Blue Lions. Secure the area and return to base.
Personally, I don't think it's much of a victory to see our fleet headquarters destroyed, and certainly not with an unknown number of Sathanas juggernauts floating around the sun for some entirely unknown reason. The debris from 3rd HQ floating by my fighter as I jump out is evidence of that.
Total kills: 41
Total kills from being a Trebuchet whore: 39
Looks like the GTVA wants to get some of its own back.