Part 4: A Lion At The Door
If you remember from the last update, I've been transferred to a new squad, namely the 107th Ravens. Before continuing with the next mission, there's a message from Lieutenant Samsa, the Ravens' squadron leader.
"Welcome to the 107th Ravens, pilot. I'm Lieutenant Samsa, squadron leader. As you know, the Aquitaine is now en route to the Gamma Draconis system. The details of the situation there have been classified at the highest level, so I'm as much in the dark as you are. The admiral will brief the crew when we reach 3rd fleet headquarters in Capella.
The 107th is a Heavy Assault squadron, so our fighter of choice is the Hercules Mark II. Implementing advances in fusion drive technology, the Mark II improves the assault fighter's speed and maneuverability without sacrificing loadout. The Herc has only two missile banks, but its ordnance capacity is greater than the myrmidon's. The original herc won the Great War, so we're proud to carry on the tradition.
I recommend that you review the Herc II training modules before the Aquitaine arrives in Capella. These modules review the advanced tactics, such as countermeasures and energy management. The Herc II is slower than the Myrmidon you've been flying with the 53rd, so leadn how to evade missiles and equalize shields. These skills will help you push your fighter to the limits. Master them, and the life you save may be your own.
According to your file, you are now authorized to use the GTW-5a Prometheus R, the GTM-19 Harpoon, and the GTM-4 Hornet missile.
The Prometheus R is a retrofit of a cannon developed during the Great War. After the Alliance lost contact with Earth, we lacked materials required for mass production, so engineers developed this retrofit version. The Prometheus packs a bigger wallop than the Subach HL-7, but it will drain your power reserves with extended use.
The Harpoon and the Hornet are both aspect-seeking missiles. While the Harpoon fires individual warheads, the Hornet launches a swarm of four projectiles. Eight if you're in double-fire mode. The training modules cover the proper technique for firing aspect-seeking missiles, so be sure to review that section carefully. That's all for now, pilot. The Aquitaine will arrive in Capella in four hours."
Quite a bit of new info here, the most important being that I now have aspect-seeking missiles. You target the enemy for a few seconds until you get a lock, and fire. These move quicker than the Rockeye heat-seekers and have a much higher chance of hitting their enemies.
The Prometheus is okay - it does more damage than our old Subach, but fires much slower.
Finally, our Herc Mark II. I don't like the fact that it's slower than the Myrmidon, but oh well, what are you going to do? At least it's not quite as bad as the oldschool Hercs we fought earlier.
After skipping the available training, I get a new message which gives us the skivvy on some classified information.
"To the officers and crew of the GTD Aquitaine, this is Admiral Petrarch. At 0115 hours, we received a transmission from 3rd Fleet Headquarters. A Shivan cruiser and three fighter wings ambushed and destroyed the GTC Vigilant as it patrolled the Gamma Draconis jump node in the Capella system.
Command deployed the GTD Carthage and the GVCv Dahshor. Though these vessels neutralized the immediate threat, all allied units are now in a state of enhanced vigilance.
Command has ordered the Aquitaine to spearhead the operation in Gamma Draconis as we investigate the origin and extent of this incursion.
Gamma Draconis is a remote, uninhabited system discovered shortly before the outbreak of the Great War. The system has no planets and no viable resources. The GTSC Erikson visited the system 15 years ago and reported nothing out of the ordinary.
Recon flights in Gamma Draconis detected activity near an uncharted jump node. Closer examination has revealed that this node is not a natural phenomenon but a massive subspace portal of unknown origin.
We do not know why the Erikson failed to detect the portal when it last visited the system. This device may have been inactive and therefore invisible to long-range sensors, or it may be of recent construction.
The Shivan vessels that destroyed the Vigilant were not of any class encountered in the Great War. The light cruiser, designated Rakshasa, and the fighters, designated Mara, have been added to your on-board database.
This is our first contact with this species in over three decades. Our objectives are clear. We must secure Gamma Draconis or face annihilation a second time."
Well, this is bad news. We're no longer just facing a war against the NTF, but against the Shivans as well.
I guess we've got no choice but to jump in to it, so let's head to Briefing.
Mission 4: A Lion At The Door
The Briefing is as follows;
"This is Lieutenant Samsa, squadron leader of the 107th Ravens. Here's the situation, the GTD Aquitaine entered Gamma Draconis at 1640. The Flagship will defend the Capella node as we advance to secure the system. Recon discovered a Shivan supply depot near the subspace portal, and this will be our target.
Command believes the Shivans are preparing for a more aggressive attack on Capella. The SC Behemoth, a Rakshasa-class cruiser, guard the depot with a wing of Mara fighters. Enemy freighters are entering the system, dropping their cargo, and departing through the portal. Your mission, pilot, is to execute a clean sweep of the area.
Your primary target will be the Mara fighters. Once the escorts are down, destroy the Behemoth and any freighters in the vicinity. You'll need to hold down fort until we deploy the Carthage and Dahshor. After you secure the area, we'll send wings Delta and Epsilon to relieve you."
Simple enough. We just need to destroy a few fighters, a cruiser, and a few freighters.
We enter the battlefield.
Immediately to the right is the Subspace Portal. You can see two parts of it on the screen. It's eight massive objects that fly in a circular pattern.
Alpha 2: "Command, this is Alpha 2. We're in. I've got a visual on the subspace portal."
Command: "How many hostiles in sensor range?"
Alpha 2: "One wing of Maras closing in fast. The Behemoth is 2.5 clicks out. Two freighters and a half dozen cargo units are in the depot area."
Command: "Destroy those fighters. The Shivans will send reinforcements, so let's secure this area as quickly as possible."
We fly to meet up with the Maras and the battle begins. They're very fast and agile, much more so than anything we've fought before.
Luckily we do have aspect seeking missiles on our side, which make the entire affair much easier. I take down the first fighter.
Beta 1: "The Maras are too fast! I can't get a lock!"
Beta 3: "I've never seen anything like it! These fighters are unbelievable!"
Ain't that the truth. With the slow fire speed of the Prometheus, I'm better off just unloading my missiles on the Maras. It generally only takes 3-4 Harpoons to kill one.
After taking down the last of the Maras, I turn to face the Behemoth.
It's not very big for something named the "Behemoth", but I suppose looks aren't everything.
Command: "Incoming jump signature! Hostile configuration!"
Oh, what is it now?
Three more Maras come tearing out of Subspace. Around this time, the freighters Maul and Neqael warp out. If you just go and try and destroy them before they warp on their own, they just jump in to Subspace right away. I don't think I've ever destroyed them before, but correct me if I'm wrong!
The second wing of Maras goes down about as easily as the first, followed shortly by the Behemoth.
We then destroy the Baraquel (which I believe is the depot? It's never really clarified ) and the Semyaza, which is a freighter. These, expectedly, put up little resistance.
Alpha 2: "Area secure, Command. Standing by for further orders."
Command: "Hold your position, pilots. We are now deploying the Carthage and the Dahshor."
Alpha 2: "Command! We've got 4 or 5 hostile wings coming through the portal!"
Beta 1: "We've got a new fighter class here! Designation Astaroth!"
Alpha 2: "Where's the Carthage? We need reinforcements ASAP, Command!"
Command: "Take evasive action, pilots! Help is on the way!"
Alpha 2: "There's too many of them! Send in the Carthage or get us out of here!"
We begin to battle the Astaroths. They're much faster and tougher than the Maras, clocking in at an average speed of 104 meters per second. Our Hercs can't go much higher than 56 without taking too much power out of weapons or shields.
We still somehow manage to overcome. The Carthage warps in when there are only a few Astaroths left.
It's shortly followed by the Dahshor. The Dahshor is followed by the Shivan Goliath, a wing of Asteroths, and a wing of Shivan Seraphim Bombers.
Bombers are the most important targets in the game. They can rip a capital ship to shreds in seconds. They generally have some strong shields and armor, but move fairly slowly.
The only target that is a higher priority than the bombers, is the bombs themselves. They each launch one Cyclops torpedo at the Carthage. I target the bombs and start to blow them up before they reach the Carthage.
Meanwhile, the Carthage and Dahshor battle the Goliath.
As soon as all of the bombs are destroyed, I get a chance to attack the Seraphim themselves. Bombers take a very long time to reload their warheads, which gives me ample time to chase them down and exact my vengeance.
Once they're down, it's simply a waiting game. I can't approach the Goliath because its Anti-Fighter Beams would tear me a new one. I do swoop in fairly close shortly before its death to get these pictures, though.
Carthage: "All hostiles have been neutralized. Now deploying Delta and Epsilon wing. Alpha, you may return to base."
"You survived your first sortie against the Shivans. Though we had only a small opposing force to contend with, survival is half the battle. The C.O.s of both the Carthage and the Dahshor commend our squadron for the outstanding cover we provided. The Shivan Cain cruiser and its complement of fighters might have destroyed these vessels had we not intervened. Well done, pilot.
A joint Terran-Vasudan task force, under the direction of Dr. Mina Hargrove, is now studying the subspace portal. We expect a preliminary report in a few hours.
For preserving the systems of the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance from Shivan invasion, you are hereby awarded the Allied Defense Citation."
And here's a picture of our new medal