AUTHOR'S NOTE: I decided to not do the Intermission 3. I'll have it rolled into this article.
Like the last time, landing on Manhattan springs a cinematics on us. Fasten your seatbelts boys, someone's playing The Rains of Castamere.
Trent: Juni, what's going on?
Juni: Over here.
Trent: Hey, what's wrong?
Juni: Nothing. Something. I don't know yet.
Trent: What do you mean?
Juni: Ashcroft is missing! He was on a Liberty dreadnought in a maximum security cell, surrounded by armed guards! Trent, you don't escape from that! After our last assignment I had a few questions for him about the Rheinland connection, when I got there he was GONE!
Trent: Who would transfer him without telling you?
Juni: He wasn't transferred! Every record of him being arrested was wiped clean, even the guards were changed! They say they never even heard of Sean Ashcroft!
Trent: What do you think is going on?
Juni: I don't know! But... there's more. Walker. He's gone too.
Trent: Walker's gone too? But he's a captain of a naval cruiser. Ship captains just don't go missing without someone noticing.
Juni: Neither do their ships. It's listed as lost five years ago.
Trent: Five years ago? That's impossible!
Juni: People around us are disappearing, Trent.
Trent: But we're here. What's our move?
Juni: We have to find what's going on. The last place Walker's ship was stationed in was California. Somebody must have seen him. That's where we'll start. Are you with me?
Okay. Looks like somebody's cleaning house in the Liberty Navy, and rounding up Freeport 7 survivors. If you heard the rumors and news in bars, you could have noticed that Liberty authorities have the FP7 manifest and identified all the survivors. And apparently Juni has been protecting Trent by taking him under her wing... and I can only think that her CO's disappearance as well as Walker getting listed as MIA is Liberty Navy trying to isolate her...
Because, speaking frankly, I can't believe that Juni - an officer of state security service - would have agreed to work with Trent without running a background check on him. She SHOULD have at least cleared it with her CO. And she WOULD have mentioned that Trent is a FP7 survivor...
But maybe that is why this is happening only now! Juni's CO was arrested midway through Mission 3. By this time he could have spilled the beans about Juni working with a Freeport 7 survivor.
So let's move this along. Both Trent and Juni are in mortal danger if they stay sitting on their butts.
Trent: When do we leave?
Juni: In a few minutes. I need to finish up some business inside first. *leaves*
Trent: Watch yourself.
Juni: Keep an eye out for our ships, okay?
As Juni leaves from sight, someone calls out.
Unknown: Mister Trent!
Oh look. It's Mr. Foreshadowing from intro cinematics again! His name is Syd, BTW.
Syd: It's very important that you and I speak.
Trent: And why is that?
Syd: Because we're the last two!
Trent: Last two what?
Trent: Wait, I know you. From the rescue ship. What happened out there?
Trent: You're telling me this is because of you?
Syd: It's not really about me, Mr. Trent...
Syd: It's about this. This is what they are after. And now they are after us. We need to get as far from here as possible...
Syd spots something behind Trent and breaks into a run, but a blaster bolt hits him in the back. Syd drops dead.
Well, RIP Mr. Foreshadowing. F in chat, everyone.
Navy soldier: Hold it right there! Get your hands up!
Trent: Whoa whoa, I can explain!
Soldier: I have my orders! All Artifact smugglers are considered enemies of the state and are to be shot on sight!
Juni: Freeze, soldier!
Juni comes back just in time.
Juni: I'm an agent with the Liberty Security Force. This man is a freelancer who is working with me on assignment.
Soldier: I found him dealing in illegal Artifacts.
Juni: Then arrest him.
Oh come on Trent. Juni is trying to save your life here.
Soldier: I'm afraid I can't do that!
Juni: Soldier, you are bound by Liberty Code to uphold the law. You don't have a choice. If he's a suspect, take him into custody. The law protects him and ensures a fair trial.
Soldier: Not anymore... *turns his gun on Juni*
A couple of seconds of stand-off, you hear a shot... and the Navy soldier drops dead at Trent's feet.
Juni: He was gonna kill me!..
Trent: What did you mean, "arrest him"?
Juni: He was going to kill us both!.. Who is that?
Trent: *Walks up to Syd's body and picks up the Artifact* I don't know. But he had a right idea. Liberty isn't safe for us right now. We gotta leave.
Juni: Trent, no! What about Walker?
Trent: We won't be any good to Walker if we're both dead. You see this man? *points at the dead Navy soldier* I don't think he's alone. Juni, we need to stick together, we need some time and distance to sort this out.
Juni: I know a place. Follow me.
With that, the cinematics ends, and you can go around Manhattan's rooms. Except...
Yeah. Liberty's dead pissed off at Trent right now. So... let's start our great escape.
Trent: What's the plan?
Juni: First Fort Bush, and from there to Badlands. When they find the bodies on the landing pad the navy will lock down all trade lanes, we have to hurry.
A wing of Liberty Navy fighters shows up
LN: This is the Liberty Navy! Cut your engines and prepare to be taken into custody!
The first objective is to get to Fort Bush trade lane, but it is blocked.
WARNING: If you're doing this fight in a Vanilla level equipment for a challenge, make your Nanobots and Shield batteries count!!!
Juni: Damn! They blocked the Fort Bush trade lane? Come on, we have to get out of here now.
Juni: We have to get to the West Point! It's the only way out!
Juni: The Unity's blocking the trade lane! We're surrounded! Trent, I don't think we're getting out of this...
To make matters worse, a group of fighters and another cruiser enters the fight!
Juni: I'm picking up additional hostiles coming from Manhattan! There's just too many of them!.. I'm sorry...
Yeah, and there are Walker and King with them. Great!
Incoming ships turn on the other Liberty Navy ships
King: Juni, this is King. Proceed to West Point.
Walker: Walker here! We'll take care of the battleship! All hands, fire at will! I repeat, all hands, fire at will!
Michael Motherflakking King and Marcus Motherflakking Walker, being a pair of total bros, bail us out.
Unity takes heavy damage
Unity: Code red, I repeat, code red! This is the Battleship Unity! We're under attack and taking heavy casualties! *static*
Unity is destroyed
Unity: All hands abandon ship! *heavy static*
Whoever keeps track of the drinking game? Take a shot, as Battleship Unity joins the list of large objects exploded in Trent's vicinity.
Labmda 1: This is Lambda 1to all fighter groups. Move to intercept remaining fighters!
Walker: The Trade Lane is clear! Juni, Trent, get out of here! King, go with them!
Juni: What about you?
Walker: I'll be fine! Now go!
Trent, Juni, King and two Lambda wing fighters dock with the Trade Lane
King: This is gonna get rough. The West Point will be alerted that we're coming. What;s the plan?
Juni: we have to get to the badlands. There's a place where we can hide.
King: Understood. Lambda 4 and Lambda 5, take flanking positions. We're heading straight to the old Trade Lane to Ithaka station.
Approaching West Point
King: Hostile fighters detected. They're closing fast!
Juni: Here they come! Several wings of Navy fighters!
Just charge cruise engines and go for the next trade lane.
Lambda 4: We'll provide you cover!
Juni: Understood. Quickly Trent, we have to get to the Badlands! Take point!
King: Lambda 4 is down! Quick!
King: Lambda 5 has been destroyed! We have to get out of here, now!
Entering the Trade Lane
Juni: We made it. the Badlands will shield us from their scanners. I don't think the Navy will follow us in here.
Gee, you also thought the Navy give a flak about the Liberty Code either.
King: Dammit, that was close. I think we managed to shake them.
Juni: Thanks for getting us outta there. Was starting to look grim.
King: Thank Walker. When he told me Trent's name showed up on the Navy's Most Wanted list, I knew you were in trouble.
King: He's wanted for murder, artifact smuggling, treason and destruction of Freeport 7. Quite an impressive list, actually. Look, I have to rendezvous with Walker near Detroit. Stay low for a while. I'll be in touch.
Juni: Trent, I uploaded new coordinates. You're gonna meet a friend of mine. Take point.
A series of waypoints appear.
Benford Station: Approaching ships! This is restricted area! Turn around at once!
Juni: Doctor Van Pelt, this is Junko. Junko Zane.
Benford Station: Juni, is this you? I've heard the news about you on the secure channel, what is going on?
Juni: Too long to explain. We need a place to hide!
Benford Station: You are cleared to dock. I'll meet you on the deck.
After the waypoints, you arrive to Benford Station and are ordered to dock.
Van Pelt: Juni, I'm glad you made it. The secure channel is buzzing with reports about you.
Juni: This is Trent.
Van Pelt: Van Pelt's my name, young man. Welcome.
Juni: We just need to lay low for a while.
Van Pelt: Well, you've come to the right place. The only visitors I get is a supply ship once a month.
Trent: If you don't mind my asking, what are you doing this far our?
Van Pelt: Studying the anomalies in the Badlands. This station you see around you was part of a grand experiment to fuel Liberty's waning resources. That was long before the Gas Mining Guild of course.
Trent: I never heard of it.
Van Pelt: How would you? There was an accident here. Liberty doesn't like to publicize its failures. The station was abandoned. Except for me of course.
Trent: You're here all alone?
Van Pelt: Except for the machines. I like it that way. Not a lot of distractions
Message: To all Liberty Bounty Hunters and peacekeeping forces. Be advised, there is a bounty for two suspects wanted for questioning. Sending identity data now.
Okay, here's Juni, but who's the second guy? Okay okay, just kidding, it's Vanilla FL's Trent.
Message: They are armed and extremely dangerous. End transmission.
Van Pelt: Juni, what is all this about?
Trent: I think it has something to do with this.
Van Pelt: Ah, i see... clearly an artifact... but... I've never seen anything like it...
Van Pelt: It's very ancient... crystal setting... Still active. Hm. You might try Quintane.
Juni: What, doctor?
Van Pelt: Not what, dear, who. Professor Ronald Quintane of Cambridge. I can't help you with it, but he might. He's a respected xenoarcheologist.
Juni: I don't understand, help us what?
Van Pelt: What? Identify it.
Juni: I don't wanna identify it, I wanna get rid of it!
Trent: We can't get rid of it now. There's a reason all this is happening and we're in the middle of it. At least if we keep it we have a bargaining chip.
Van Pelt: I'm afraid your young man is right, my dear.
I'm going to interpret "your young man" as Van Pelt shipping Juni and Trent. Either way, Juni is not amused.
Juni: Oh, this is just great.
Van Pelt: Don't worry. You'll both be safe in Bretonia. Now how to get you there...
Announcer: Liberty ships, approaching.
Van Pelt: Long range scan shows a Liberty patrol. They must have followed you somehow. They never come up this far...
Trent: So much for laying low.
Van Pelt: I'm setting an automatic defensive system to cover you. Take the back way.
Juni: What back way?
Van Pelt: one of the things that was left behind here was a jump gate to Magellan. No one has used it since the disaster, But it still works! It's deep in the badlands. I'm loading up the coordinates for you now.
Juni: What about you?
Van Pelt: I'll be fine. Take care of yourself.
Van Pelt: Good luck, young man.
Trent: Thank you.
Juni: I.. I don't know...
Van Pelt: You must go. Now!
Trent: Come on.
And you aren't even given a luxury to resupply. The game automatically kicks you out into space.
Van Pelt: Juni, the patrol is getting closer! The interference from the anomalies will only hide you for so long. Quick, head into the Badlands!
LN Fighter: Unidentified craft, stay right where you are! You are in violation of the Liberty Security code and subject to immediate termination!
Van Pelt: Liberty patrol, this is Benford Station. These people are here under my authority!
LN Fighter: Negative, Benford! Target renegade ships, on my signal!
Juni: Oh my god, van Pelt!
LN Fighter: Fire!
Juni: No! Come on Trent. we've gotta help him!
So, basically, another gauntlet with Liberty Navy fighters.
Van Pelt: Juni, get out! The defense system will hold them off!
Juni: We're not leaving you!
Oh come on, Juni, the dude made his mind. All we can do is to not let his sacrifice be in vain.
And eventually, Liberty Navy brings out the big guns.
Van Pelt: I'm picking up more incoming ships!.. oh my! Three cruisers are incoming fast!
Juni: Doctor, you've gotta come with us! We're coming in to pick you up!
Van Pelt: There's no time, they're almost on top of us. You've got the coordinates to the Jump Gate! Go!
Van Pelt: Juni... *static* get out of here... *static* I can do... save your... *static* Juniiii! *static, Benford Station explodes*.
Juni: No!.. You'll pay for this...
To note, you just can't save Benford Station. The cruiser becomes invulnerable at about half HP. So... Another round of Fs in chat. And another round of shots for people in the drinking game.
LN goes neutral
LNS Justice: Commander Zane. Power down your engines and surrender now.
You get a waypoint for Magellan jump gate. Go to it.
Juni: Alright Trent, we've gotta get outta here! Head to the coordinates! Quickly!
LNS Justice: They're making a run for it. All fighter wings, break formation and pursue!
Juni: We've gotta make it to the jump gate.
Trent and Juni reach the jump gates
Juni: According to van Pelt's data we should be close to the gate.
Juni: Thank God, they're working. Let's go.
Juni: I've disabled the gate, but we can't sit still. We have to keep moving.
Juni: The only station around here is Freeport 4. We'll stop there for repairs and will try to figure out what's going on. Come on.
The waypoint appears on Freeport 4, but midway to there you encounter these guys...
Juni: I've multiple signals on an approach vector, prepare to engage!
Bounty Hunter 1: Commander Zane, you are outmanned and outgunned, surrender and we will spare your life.
Juni: Trent, there's a bounty on our head. They'll never let us out of here alive. We have to fight.
So it's another gauntlet and this time with Bounty Hunter fighters... When I first played Freelancer, this is where I died the most. Then again, a) it was vanilla FL, b) I had a motley arrangement of guns including one Dragoon Type 1 and one Magma Hammer Mk1, c) I was twelve. Or thirteen?
Bounty Hunter 1: Target their engines, we need it intact.
A new party arrives soon...
Hacker 1: Bounty Hunter ships! Cease fire! These two are under the protection of the Lane Hackers!
Bounty Hunter 1: Negative. Those two have a big bounty for their heads. Clear out, there's no bounty for Hackers.
Hacker 1: You leave us no choice! All ships, open fire!
Bounty Hunter 1: What the... Are you crazy? You'll pay for this!
A group of Lane Hacker ships appears and attacks the Bounty Hunters.
Juni: Last one!
Hacker 1: We've got to get out of here! Everybody's looking for you! I'm uploading a waypoint to your neural net. Come with us!
You get a waypoint to Mactan base.
Juni: Thank you. But why are you helping us?
Hacker 1: The enemies of Liberty are our friends.
Hacker 1: We're maintaining a base in the asteroid field nearby. The Navy isn't aware of its existence. It's the only safe place for you right now.
Trent and Juni arrive to Mactan
Hacker 1: This is Delta Wing. We found them. Repeat, we found them.
Juni: Understood. Trent, repair your ship and buy whatever equipment you need. I'll see you shortly.
You can refill your reloaders and actually buy some other ship here. take off to progress.
Soon after Trent undocks, Juni undocks as well.
Juni: The bad news is that Liberty has dramatically stepped up their policies against illegal artifacts. Rumors speak of hundreds of arrests, and there's a reward on our heads. One million credits, can you believe that? The artifact is the key. We have to find out what it is and why they want it so badly.
Hacker 1: Alert! Unknown contacts are closing in fast! Launching all fighters!
Alright, guess who?
Four Rheinland Valkyries out of nowhere! Guys keeping track of a second drinking game? Take a shot!
Mactan: I'm picking up at least four Rheinland heavy fighters! Man all turrets!
Juni: Rheinlanders again. They're here for the artifact. Trent, engage!
First Rheinland fighter down
Mactan: One down.
Second Rheinland fighter down
Mactan: And another one!
Mactan: That's it. Last one! Ms. Zane, we can no longer protect you. Leave Liberty while there's still time. Good luck.
Juni: It's best that we split up. With that bounty hon our head every Bounty Hunter in the colonies will be after us. I'll go to Cambrisge to find Professor Quintane. Trent, find your friend on Leeds and stay out of sight. I'm uploading the coordinates for the Leeds jump hole.
So... Trent is coming home.
Juni: I'll contact you when I'll reach Cambrisge. Good luck, and be careful.
Juni: Trent, this is Juni. I'm on New London. King contacted me. he's with Walker now. He says that the Liberty navy has been placed on heightened alert, with Jacobi declaring all artifacts as illegal. And congratulations! You and I are now Liberty's most wanted criminals. Take on a few jobs and try to get a new ship. I'll contact you when I'll find Quintane. Juni out.
Juni: Trent, this is Juni. I've made it to Cambridge. No luck so far finding the Professor, I'll contact you when I'll hear anything. Until then, keep a low profile. Every bounty hunter in the colonies is probably looking for us.
On landing to Leeds, going to the Equipment Dealer springs the final cinematics.
Tobias: You won't be sorry for that, let me tell you! You can trust Richard Winston Tobias to make you the best deal anywhere! *clients leave, Tobias shakes head.*
Well, meet Tobias. Trent's parental substitute and a total bro.
Tobias: I was wondering when you will come back. Are you in some kind of trouble?
Trent: You could say that.
Tobias: The I must say I told you so. I didn't take the time to apprentice you so you could throw it all away on some fool's scheme, but you knew better! "The deal of a lifetime", you said, remember? Now look at you, And that hunk of junk on the landing pad?
Actually, that "hunk of junk" has turned a fair bit of Liberty Navy's fighter corps inside out by this time...
Tobias: Hm. I suppose you'll be wanting a few parts for that thing. 'S good to see you, boy. So are you back now, for good?
Trent: It's complicated, Tobias. Seems like all of Liberty is after me.
Tobias: I see...
Tobias: Well, the first thing to do is to get a new ship, that likely has your description about it. It will make you a popular target for Bounty Hunters. You'll need something that blends in better out here... I want you to go to the ship dealer in New London. I'll tell him you're coming. He'll have a ship for you.
Tobias: For once, just do what I tell you, boy! I've put some aside. You'll have enough. Come with me.
And with that, the Mission 4 is over! The path to Liberty is now closed (well, we can go there, but all lawful bases will be hostile), but paths to the rest of Sirius is now more or less open!
Escape from Manhattan
Meeting van Pelt
Escape from Liberty
Firefight at Mactan