Okay. Now that we have our overkill setup, let's get this show off the road!
And so the game springs the initial cinematics on us right off the bat...
Lonnigan appears and walks up to Trent, gun in hand
Lonnigan: Don't move. Just listen.
Trent: Lonnigan! Where have you...
Lonnigan: Stay still! I had to kill a man to escape today. What's one more...
Lonnigan: Why are you still here? Don't you see what's going on? Freeport 7? Zone 21?
Lonnigan: No! It's not just them, it's the Liberty! It's artifacts! They're on to something...
Trent: Look, let's just talk about this...
Lonnigan: *shoves the gun back into Trent's face* No more talking! I know what I'm doing now, I have a plan. I wanted to warn you, I felt that I owed it to you. Don't try and follow me, Trent. Get out of Liberty while you still can!
Lonnigan takes a few steps back and runs away
Trent: What the...
Welp. That happened.
Bartrender: Nice to see you again. How are things?
Trent: Interesting. I'm looking for Junko Zane. Have you seen her lately?
Bartrender: Yeah. She asked me to tell you to meet her on a terraforming station on California Minor.
Trent: Anything else?
Bartrender: No. That was all. Drink, Mr. Trent?
Trent: No, thanks, I better get going.
So, Juni got tired of waiting while we get our overkill setup and got this show off the road before we could join her. How about that.
On take-off from Manhattan, Juni contacts you.
Juni: I can't tell you specifics right now. Let's just say Ashcroft provided us with the information we hoped for. Meet me on California Minor as soon as you can.
Trent: I'll think about it.
Juni: I need you for this one, Trent. I'll be waiting for you.
A Rhino freighter forms up
Unknown: Mister Trent! We need to talk!
Unknown: I was with you on Freeport 7. We met on a rescue ship.
Unknown: Something's going on! I'm being followed. Other survivors have disappeared. Please, meet me on Los Angeles.
Sure, why not?.. Well, it's a hike from California Minor, but...
Three Defenders appear from the Trade Lane
Navy Fighter: Brandon Rowlett, you are under arrest. Cut your engines and stand down.
The Rhino starts to turn back
Navy Fighter: All units, fire missiles.
The Defenders launch a salvo of Firestalker missiles at the Rhino, blowing it into bits
Okay. I always wondered how did these jerks install Firestalker launchers when Defender doesn't have fitting hardpoints. Or were those Moonstalkers? I don't remember ever using those things, to be honest.
Navy Fighter: Civilian ship, this was a classified Navy operation. Do yourself a favor and keep this quiet.
Well, you can do as you're told and carry on. Or you can make this even quieter. After all, there are four people in the know of this classified operation. Let's cut that number down to one. Dead men tell no tales afterall.
In short. You can attack and destroy the Navy fighters. I'm not sure if I would be able to pull it off in vanilla, but with our overkill setup, they won't last long.
Navy Fighter: You fool! You'll pay for this!
Destroying the first Navy fighter causes a "Nomad Prototype" to spawn. You can pick it up.
This "Nomad Prototype" turns out to be a rather dinky Class 3 turret named Rowlett's Revenge. Sure, why not?
Juni: Trent. I have you on my scanners. Glad you're here. You're just in time.
Juni: Just land and I'll tell you everything you need to know. I wait for you in the bar. Juni out.
On landing, you are given an opportunity to fix up your ship and sell excess cargo. Going into Bar springs another cinematics on you.
Trent: You know, if you wanted to see me, you could have picked a quieter place.
Juni: I'm trying to keep a low profile.
Trent: Well this is low, I'll give you that.
Juni: The reason I called you here, Trent, apart from your glittering social commentary, is to have you do a job. Ashcroft finally talked. You interested?
Trent: Well, I flew all the way out here, didn't I?
Juni: Ashcroft's interrogation has given us a whole new perspective on the inner workings of the artifact smuggler ring. Apparently, there's someone working on the inside in Liberty. We don't know who yet. We're thinking a Navy. Maybe even an officer. My CO has ordered a priority operation to expose this traitor. And since I need a complete outsider for this, I thought of you.
Trent: Nice. So when do I leave?
Juni: When do WE leave. We're working together on this one.
Trent takes notice of the news running on the background
News: ..crippled the Order by bringing down their top man. Again, the LSF reports that the actual leader of the Order, previously known only by his codename 'Orillion', was shot and killed when trying to escape from Liberty into Rheinland space. In addition, Liberty officials have also just released his actual name...
News and Trent: ...Sam Lonnigan.
Juni: How did you know that?
Juni: Must have been doing recon before the attack.
Trent: It wasn't before, it was during. He almost died, it doesn't make sense. He wasn't smart enough to be a terrorist, much less lead them. He was trying to tell me something...
Juni: Well, whoever he was, he's dead now... Come on, Trent. We've got another scumbag to figure out.
On take-off, you are greeted by Juni herself.
Juni: There you are. I'm switching to a secure channel. *beep beep boop* Time to find out if there really is a traitor behind the artifact smuggling. We'll take the Trade Lane to San Diego. You first, Trent, let's go.
It is also worth noting that Juni flies an unique ship.
Trent and Juni dock with the Trade Lane
Juni: The LSF took out a criminal hideout in Magellan based on an information I got from Ashcroft. We found hundreds of artifacts. The convoy we're escorting is bringing them to the LSF research lab here in California.
Juni: The existence of the convoy has been kept secret, and only a selected few know about its cargo and destination.
Juni: If Ashcroft is telling the truth and there is a traitor working inside the Liberty military, or the LSF, this will lure them out. It's simply too good to pass up.
San Diego: This is Liberty border station San Diego. Please identify yourself.
Juni: LSF Commander Junko Zane. We're here on special assignment to escort a convoy to Research Station Willard.
San Diego: Acknowledged, Commander. The convoy has already left and is waiting at the Barrera passage. Hold on, we're uploading a waypoint to your Neural net.
Juni: Got it. Thank you, San Diego. *beep boop* Trent, we gotta hurry, let's go.
Juni: Transport HX-17, this is Commander Zane. Sorry we're late. What's your status?
Transport Leader: All systems are green. We're ready to enter the passage.
Juni: Acknowledged. Let's go.
You can just form up on transport as they pass navigational buoys...
Transport Leader: We reached the entrance to the pathway, Commander.
Juni: Transport leader, proceed to the first buoy.
Transport Leader: Acknowledged. Proceeding to first buoy.
Juni: Everybody stay alert.
Transport Leader: Commander, we reached the first buoy.
Juni: Continue to the next buoy and keep your eyes open.
Transport Leader: We're at the second buoy.
Juni: Proceed to the third. There's an opening in the passage and an abandoned supply depot coming up. Keep your eyes open.
Outcast ships spawn all around
Transport Leader: Proximity alert! Scanners picking up something!
Juni: Where? Where is it?
Transport Leader: Alert! We have multiple inbound contacts coming in from all around us! They're everywhere!
Okay. In Vanilla FL, this was a tough fight. Here? I'm half thinking to put an age restriction on the combat video because of the unspeakable cruelty towards the NPCs that Trent was displaying with these Heavy Flashpoints. Yes, I did use HSRF. Yes, I did warn you we were in the overkill territory.
Juni: I read them, Transport Leader. San Diego? We're under attack. I repeat, we're under attack and need assistance, over!
Gamma 1: Commander Zane, this is Gamma 1 from San Diego.
Juni: Gamma 1, we need your help. Engage the enemies!
Gamma 1: Acknowledged. Engaging.
Outcasts are down
Juni: All of the hostiles are destroyed.
Juni: We've gotta get out of here. Transport Leader, proceed to the next buoy on the other side of the passage.
Juni: Gamma 1, take flanking position. We are not far away from Willard.
Gamma 1: Acknowledged.
Juni: This is the last section of the Barrera passage. Station Willard is very close.
Juni: I'm glad you showed up, Gamma 1. It was starting to look grim.
Gamma 1: We got here as soon as we could.
Convoy arrives to Station Willard
Transport Leader: Yes! We did it!
Willard: Incoming ships, this is Willard Station. Identify yourself. Over.
Juni: This is LSF commander Zane. We're escorting a supply of classified materials to Willard Station.
Willard: Understood. We've been expecting you. Proceed to the station. Docking ports are currently offline. We'll have it fixed in a moment.
Juni: Thanks again. *beep boop* Trent? I have to land on a station and contact a few people. It's pretty obvious now that there's a mole in the Navy. I'll see you soon.
Willard: Commander Zane, you are now cleared to land. Docking ports 2 and 3 are ready for you.
Juni: Oh. I recommend you land and get yourself some equipment. We'll meet back in space in a few minutes.
Now you have to land on Station Willard, run maintenance and take off.
Juni: Switching to a secure channel. *beep boop* Something's terribly wrong. I wanted to brief my CO on what happened with the convoy and base my orders on Manhattan, my contacts telling me that he's been actually placed under arrest for treason!.. I tried to find out more but all my friends in LSF headquarters seem to disappear! The only person I was able to contact was King. He's still on Pittsburgh.
Juni: ...Hold on. Radar shows several ships on an intercept course.
Juni: Wow. What are Rheinland Valkyries doing here?
Juni: Attention Rheinland vessels. This is Commander Zane of the Liberty Security Force. Please identify yourself, over.
Well... here's one more weird thing: Rheinland Military fighters out of nowhere!
Get used to seeing a lot of these guys later on. In fact, you can get another drinking game started: whenever you see a wing of Valkyries on an intercept course, take a shot.
Juni: Rheinland vessels, please respond. Trent, stay alert, something's wrong.
And respond, they do. By opening fire.
Juni: They're opening fire! Trent, engage!
Naturally, these guys don't last long either.
Juni: That was the last one.
Juni: What's going on? Rheinland military ships in the middle of Liberty? Why would they attack us?
Juni: Do you think this has anything to do with the Artifacts? I just don't get it. Rheinland? If there really is a traitor within the Liberty military, what do Rheinlanders have to do with everything?
Juni: We have to get to California Minor and talk to Walker.
Juni: Alright Trent. I'm going to find Walker. Meet me in the bar in a few minutes.
Juni: Hey Trent! Over here!
Trent: This place is starting to feel like home.
Trent: So I've been told.
Walker: Seems nowadays it's not the smugglers, it's the Order. Or some other scum trying to take advantage of us. Piracy is running rampant. Y'know, Trent, the Liberty military is always looking for good pilots to join in the full-time. So worthy cause.
Trent: Thanks but no thanks. Causes come and go. I think I'd rather just keep freelancing if it's all the same to you.
Walker: Suit yourself. Now if you'll excuse me I need to make preparations. Nice meeting you. I'll see you at the rendezvous.
Juni: See you in space, Trent.
Trent takes off
Juni: Walker and his cruisers are standing by on the far side of the planet. Let's go.
Naturally, you have to fly around the planet to get there. King contacts you soon.
King: Junko, this is King.
Juni: King, what's going on?
King: After you called me from Willard, I started to ask around a bit and confirmed that your CO is in prison. There's been a major shake-up in the higher ranks of LSF.
Juni: That's only a tip of the iceberg. We were attacked by Rheinland Valkyries!
King: What? Rheinlanders?
Juni: King, we're almost at the rendezvous point. I'll contact you once I'm at the Willard Station.
King: Okay. I'll try to find out what's going on. Talk to you soon.
Walker: There you are. I'm switching to a private channel. *beep boop* Juni, I just received new orders from High Command. My group has been ordered back to space dock for an inspection. We're supposed to depart in half an hour.
Juni: Did they give any reasons?
Walker: They claim there are inconsistencies in our maintenance records. Not sure why, we had a complete work-up only two months ago.
Willard: This is research station Willard! We're under attack and taking heavy damage! We won't be able to hold out much longer. Repeat, this is station Willard, we're under attack!
Walker: Forget about space dock! All ships into battlestations! Set course for Station Willard!
The group starts moving out and you get a waypoint at Station Willard.
Walker: Station Willard, this is Liberty Cruiser attack group South, Captain Walker speaking. We're en route to your location and will be in range within two minutes. What is your status, over?
Willard: We're being attacked by Rheinland gunboats and a wing of attack fighters. Several torpedoes have hit the Harmony and the station is on fire. Automatic defenses are failing and our fighters are shot down like flies!
Walker: Understood, Willard. Try to hold them back until we get there.
Walker: Willard, this is attack group South. We're entering the asteroid field and will be at your location shortly.
Willard: Acknowledged... Two more torpedoes have hit the station! We lost life support to multiple sections, hurry!
Juni: Oh god... what a sight...
(Now if you notice the mismatch between the screenshot and the combat video down at Video Aids, it's because I had to rerun this part due to a bug I encountered).
Walker: All fighter wings, engage the enemy! Cruisers, break formation and defend Station Willard!
Juni: Acknowledged. Trent, watch yourself, this is going to get rough.
It would in vanilla. Actually, I loved the flak out of that part back when I first played Freelancer. And I was an early teen back then.
Walker: These gunboats are too fast for our turrets. Fighters, concentrate your fire on them.
First gunboat down
Juni: Yes! That's one down!
Eventually, three more Valkyries named "Rheinland Bomber" show up.
Walker: I'm reading several Rheinland bombers. All fighters, intercept the bombers before they can launch their torpedoes!
Juni: Acknowledged. Trent, get on it.
They are actually a concern. I managed to avoid that, but they can actually destroy one of Walker's cruisers and as a result Juni will dock your pay.
The bug I mentioned was that I managed to destroy all Rheinland ships before bombers show up. As a result, I ended up far from the Willard when I had to fight the bombers and as a result, I missed the final banter.
Last fighter down
Juni: Got 'em.
Walker: We did it! All their gunboats are out of it!
Walker: Junko, I'll have to stay here and deploy repair teams. Why don't you join me on the station so we can discuss what's going on in the LSF and the Navy?
Juni: Okay. Trent? This will take some time and you've gone beyond the call of duty already. I'm transferring your payment now.
Juni: I recommend you take a few jobs in the meantime. Once I'll know more I'll contact you again. Right now I need to find out what's going on.
And with that, Mission 3 is complete! Be on the look out for a short intermission 3 and intense Mission 4.
Meeting Brandon Rowlett
Return to California Minor
Battle at Station Willard