Let's Play Freelancer Crossfire: Mission 5
WARNING: People participating in the drinking game "whenever something explodes near Edison Trent, take a shot" are strongly encouraged to overthink their life choices and at least downgrade it to a sip.
Trent walks up to Juni
Juni: I was wondering when you'd show.
(Yeah, riiiight. It took almost 10 months.)
Trent: Did you find Quintane?
Juni: That's the thing. The good doctor has just disappeared.
Trent: You mean like the others?
Juni: No, not like them. This one left a trail. But I need your help, Trent. Are you with me?
Trent: taht's why I'm here. Count me in.
Juni: Good. What do you know about xenoarcheology?
Trent: Not much, why?
Juni: Just let me do the talking and whatever you do, keep that artifact out of sight. I don't want a repeat performance of Manhattan.
Trent: Anything else?
Juni: Yeah, bring the bottle.
Juni walks off, Trent grabs the bottle on the counter and follows. They walk up to a guy seated at one of the tables and take seats.
Juni: Very nice of you to see us on such short notice, mr. Vance.
Vance: When you said in your message that you and Doctor Trent were from the Hammer Research Institute in Liberty, it was hard to refuse. It's not entirely unusual for Dr. Quintane to miss an appointment out there. Even one regarding funding.
Juni: We understand. We'd made it quite a while ago. I'm just pleased the University put me in touch with you.
vance: I do a lot of work for Dr. Quintane. Shuttling people and equipment back and forth to research sites. I'm sorry, usually I can find him, but...
Trent: You mean you don't know where he is? *turns to Juni* He doesn't know where he is! *Juni nudges him under the table* Ouch!
Vance: He hasn't been around for weeks. Probably doing deep research. he doesn't even tell us. Doctor Sinclair doesn't even know where he is.
Yeah, tell me about it. Hint: Quintane wasn't the only one in deep research during these months.
Also, Doctor Sinclair? We just got a new name.
Vance: Have you spoken to her yet?
Vance: She's been doing field work for the professor for years.
Juni: Has she? Do you think she'd mind if we look her up?
Vance: No. funding is what these scientists live for. Well, that and little recognition of course.
juni: Of course. Can you tell us where Doctor Sinclair is now?
Vance: Sprague. I'm afraid i can't get her a message. It's too far out.
Juni: That's all right, we'll go to her. You've been very helpful, mr. Vance. thank you.
Trent gets up, Juni follows.
Vance: I think Dr. Sinclair will be quite pleased. Last week nothing, this week you and Rheinlanders.
Trent: What Rheinlanders?
Vance: From the New Berlin Museum. They're also very interested in your work. You just missed them.
Juni: Get whatever you need here on Cambridge and meet me in space. Don't take too long, doctor.
Trent: I won't.
Vance: Heh. Academics.
Welp, looks like we're racing against the clock again. Then again, Rheinlanders took 10 months to find this Sinclair, too.
We don't really need anything at this point, let's go.
Juni: Took you long enough. We've got no time to waste, let's go.
Juni: These Rheinlanders could have left hours ago. We have to get to Sinclair before they do.
Juni: I checked the star chart. Sprague is a remote planet in the Omega 3 system. It's not too far from here.
Juni: Maybe this Dr. Sinclair is what we need to find out more about our artifact.
Leaving the trade lane
Battleship Norfolk: Incoming ships, this is the Norfolk. Your trajectory indicates that you're traveling to the Omega system. Be advised that the tensions between the Bretonian Empire and Rheinland have escalated. The military confrontation cannot be ruled out.
Juni: Roger Norfolk. Our destination is Sprague in Omega-3. We've no intention to enter the Rhenland territory.
Norfolk: Understood, we have no reports on Rheinland activity in that system. Norfolk out.
Juni: Hold on. We'll take this trade lane. You lead, Trent.
Juni: This entire conflict with Rheinland is about the damn alien artifact. Did you hear that the President Jacobi is trying to persuade the Queen to ban all Artifacts here in Bretonia? I'm sure she has her reasons.
Juni: There's the jumpgate. Trent, you dock first.
Juni: The star charts describe Sprague as an unpopulated planet with no trade lane connections. We have to fly from here to Freeport 1, and then through open space.
Juni: This is where we have to leave the Trade Lane.
Freeport 1: Incoming ships! Be advised, Rheinland forces have set up blockades in Omega 7. No ships are allowed access to Rheinland space. All merchant vessels are to remain at Freeport 1 until the crisis is over.
Juni: Freeport 1, we are on way to Sprague to deliver supplies to an archaeological expedition. Have you detected any Rheinland ships in the area?
Freeport 1: Negative, but Rheinland lies beyond our patrol groups. If you are attacked, we won't be able to send help.
Excuse me. Since when do Zoners take sides?
Juni: Understood. Thanks for the warning.
Juni: Trent, I've uploaded the coordinates for Sprague into your Neural Net. Come on.
Juni: The situation is REALLY getting out of control now! A blockade in Omega-7? Rheinland is now in direct violation of the Borman Treaty!
Juni: The colonies haven't been this close to an open military conflict since the 80-Year War between the Rheinland and the GMG!
Juni: Vance gave me frequency of the dig site beacon. I'm not picking up a signal yet. We probably have to get closer.
Juni: Almost there! Still no signal!
Juni: We made it! You dock first, Trent.
FOUR RHEINLAND VALKYRIES LITERALLY OUT OF NOWHERE!
When I first saw this, my heart nearly ejected from my feet. In my defense, I was, what, 12? The Kid Ajay was a very impressionable person.
Juni: Rheinland ships! Where did they come from? Break and attack!
Naturally, a brief combat ensues.
Juni: Last one! We have to get down to the planet and get Sinclair the hell outta here. Hope we're not too late. You first, Trent.
Dock with Planet Sprague Docking Ring.
Juni: We have to hurry. I have a bad feelings there's more of them out there somewhere.
Juni: These ships came out of nowhere. Looks like some kind of cloaking technology! Not even the Liberty Navy has ever managed to get those to work.
Apparently the Alliance descendants lost it. Because back in Starlancer, Alliance had cloaking technology on fighters.
Juni: The dig site isn't on any of the charts. We're going to have to search for it.
Trent: Let's hope it's still there and those Rheinlanders haven't found it already.
Juni: I'm getting a faint signal. Must be the dig site. Hold on... Yes, I think that's it! Looks like they had to excavate inside this rock formation to get to the dig site/ Activating landing sequence.
Juni: This must be the entrance. I'm going in.
Trent: No lights, no radio contact. This doesn't feel right.
Juni: Let's hope for the best. Maybe they're so busy digging for artifacts they don't even know we're coming.
Trent and Juni land and exit their ships.
Juni: Do you think we're too late?
Trent: We have to find Sinclair and get the hell outta here.
Sinclair: Did you say you got this where, exactly?
Sinclair: Look around you, Miss Zane.
Sinclair: You are standing in the living history of the Dom'Kavash, a race that predates early man for 10 million years. Up until recently, relatively speaking, they were the inhabitants of much of our new home here in Sirius. I've been working to piece together fragments of their past. Their culture, technology, language, anything!
Sinclair: These panels here have been the core of my research. They shed light on some of their writings, but thanks to this piece I'm really close to unlocking their code! Yes, I know quite a lot about this artifact, but not why would anyone kill over it.
Trent: Nor anything about cloaking Rheinland ships?
Sinclair: Mr. Trent, I'm a scientist, I deal with facts, not fiction.
Trent: Well, you're better listen to the facts. A lot of people died because of this trinket.There's something going on in the colonies. People are being killed. Others have disappeared like your colleague, Dr. Quintane.
Sinclair: Quintane hasn't disappeared, he's a recluse.
Trent: He's gone under, that's what I think. And men like him go under for a very good reason. I think he knew too much.
Sinclair: This is ridiculous!
Juni: Is it? We find out that Rheinland Is in active interest of your research and when we get here we were attacked by Rheinland ships using a technology I've never seen before! Still not enough of a connection for you? How about that friends of mine, trusted people in the Liberty Military assigned to stop illegal artifact smuggling are GONE! Like they were never there! Maybe they knew too much too? They just didn't see it coming like Quintane. But I do, and you should too.
Trent: And with him gone, that only leaves you.
Juni: I think that these ships are coming back soon, and there's no telling what else will they bring back with them. you, doctor, can either be an alive scientist on the run or dead one in the ground. Which will it be?
Sinclair: I'm not leaving without my work! Besides, how do I know you're not the enemy?
A man runs in
Unknown: Doctor, we've got about a dozen ships on our screen. I don't know what kind. We didn't see them coming!
Juni: I told you they were coming back.
Sinclair: Pack up what you can and send the others to their ships!
Unknown: Yes, doctor.
Sinclair: Alright, I'm with you.
Trent: Come on, we've gotta get outta here!
Two Rheinland Valkyries strafe the dig site entrance
Unknown: Doctor, the panels has been loaded into Mister Trent's hold!
Sinclair: Good, get clear when you can!
Trent: They're tearing this place apart!
Juni: Come on!
Our heroes get into their ships and take off as Rheinlanders make another pass...
...and drop a mine into the entrance.
Unknown: This is gonna be cloooose!
Welp, guys keeping track of the first drinking game, take a shot. The first on many today.
Sinclair: Oh my god, they destroyed our base, my work!
...no shit. They just blew up the docking ring. These Rheinlanders don't mess around with that, you gotta give them that.
Juni: Jeez. They blew up the docking ring!
Trent: Nevermind that, We're outnumbered, we've gotta get outta here!
Sinclair: Into the nebula. There's a place we can hide! I'm uploading the coordinates!
Juni: Quickly, people! let's move out!
A waypoint appears. Just charge your cruise engines and go there.
I did that, but I think you can take them. It's just a bunch of Valks and three gunboats, and at this point Trent is p much Hank J. Wimbleton IN SPACE, just with way less dying. To the point that Rheinland Military group sent to hunt for this artifact might as well be called Agency Against Edison Trent.
Also you probably noticed that Sinclair's got her own ride. It's a Clydesdale freighter. Good thing the NPC teammates are unkillable otherwise trying to keep her alive would have sucked control rods.
Juni: We're almost there.
Juni: Just a few more seconds. We'll lose them in the nebula!
The Rheinlanders indeed put up not even a half-hearted but a quarter-hearted pursuit and drop it the moment you enter the Graham ice field.
Juni: We made it! Checking radar... Clear! No sign of 'em.
Juni: Doctor. Where are we going?
Sinclair: Baxter research station. It's been abandoned for over a decade, but life support should still be functioning.
Sinclair: You weren't joking when you told me about ships appearing out of nowhere... thank you for getting me out of there.
Juni: You're welcome.
Sinclair: This is it. We should land here. Keep your eyes open, they can't be that far off.
Dock with Baxter Research Station.
Trent: I think we managed to shake them for now.
Juni: I hope you're right.
Sinclair: Do you ever get tired of this?
Trent: Running and fighting?
Sinclair: No, this.
Sinclair walks up to the window. Also a few transport ships will occasionally fly past, which is a CF-brought innovation and IMO shouldn't happen.
Trent: To tell you the truth, I don't even pay attention anymore.
Sinclair: It's a view like this that got me into xenoarcheology in the first place. I thought, if the universe exists for aeons but I can only experience it for a brief moment of time, I think of what more ancient race must have thought about it. I want it to live through them. If you're right and Quintane has hidden himself, it means he's still out there...
Sinclair: What's that?
Juni: They found us!
TRENT, YOU JINXED IT!
Juni: We've gotta get outta here!
Sinclair: Where? Where are we going?
Station starts blowing up...
Surprisingly, the game does offer you a chance to restock on Baxter despite the station falling apart. While back in Mission 4 you weren't offered such luxury on Benford which was alright until Liberty Navy cruisers shown up. Moreover...
You can buy Adv. Barrier MK2 shield there! But we have an Adv. Brigand MK2, so... you know, it could have been an option to do a big brain move: grab shields of different types and swap them according to the weaponry of the expected enemies.
But I'm too broke to buy it now and too dumb to have thought of it before writing this paragraph. So there you go.
The station conveniently explodes just as you leave it. Though I think this cutscene is bugged in CF, it doesn't show your ship leaving.
And yeah, the drinking gamers are to slam yet another shot.
Juni: The station is exploding! We can't outrun them this time. Trent, engage!
There's a bunch of Valks and a gunboat.
Considering the loadout we pack, the words "Trent, engage!" might as well be Juni's equivalent of "Dracarys!".
Juni: Radar's clear! Nice fighting, but I think there should be more. We have to get to Trent's friend in Leeds. I'm sure the jump gates are being watched. Sinclair, what's your status? Any ideas on how to get outta here?
Juni: Okay, let's go.
Fly to Cambridge Jump Hole
Sinclair: So tell me, why did you come here? Surely not just to return the artifact to me?
Juni: Doctor, ever since Trent came in posession of that artifact, we've been hunted. First by the Liberty Navy, and Bounty Hunters, now Rheinlanders, everybody seems to be after it! And we don't even know what it is? My friend told us that Professor Quintane could be able to shed some light on it.
Sinclair: And Quintane has... disappeared?
Juni: His lab was destroyed. The only lead we could find was your pilot Vance. He told us where to find you.
Sinclair: There's the jump hole.
Juni: Trent, you go first.
Fly to Omega 3 Jump gate -> Battleship Norfolk trade lane
Juni: Trent, take the lead. head to the new coordinates!
Juni: We need to know what's going on with this artifact. Why everyone's after it?
Sinclair: No idea. I found it on planet Pygar and knew immediately it was going to have great archaeological significance. I was scheduled to fly to Cambridge to get Prof. Quintane's expert opinion, but then the artifact was stolen, and I didn't even go to Cambridge. I actually haven't seen the professor in the years...
Juni: Damn. I guess the best thing we can do is fly to Leeds and regroup.
TWO RHEINLAND VALKYRIES OUTTA NOWHERE!...
Guys, are you kidding me? It didn't work the first time you tried to jump us...
Juni: Dammit, they found us. Trent, engage!
Rheinland Pilot: Stop! Do not open fire. We mean you no harm. we're here to warn you.
Juni: Why should we trust you?
Rheinland Pilot: Because we have deserted from Rheinland. Our squadron opened fire on us after we disobeyed orders to destroy a civilian transport. We had no choice but to flee. The Rheinland military is watching ALL exits from this system! You have the artifact they want and they know you're here in Cambridge!
Juni: Why are you telling us this?
Rheinland Pilot: Survival. We need you as much as you need us. We're heading to a jumphole that will take us directly to Leeds. It'll be watched, But they aren't guarding it well because very few people know about it. Together, we might be able to fight our way through.
Sinclair: I believe them.
Juni: Fine, we'll come with you.
Rheinland Pilot: Follow us. We're uploading the coordinates.
Welp, that happened.
Fly to Leeds jump hole.
Sinclair: What's the plan?
Rheinland Pilot: Our wing was outfitted with cloaking devices. Strange looking things, the part of a secret Rheinland weapons program. We'll cloak ourselves before we reach that jump hole. They'll think you're an easy target, but we'll give them a little surprise.
Also I just have to point out that somehow, one of those Valks has the wings shifted into the cruise mode.
On leaving from the nebula...
Juni: Damn it! The jumphole is blocked by a battleship! What are we gonna do?
If this is "aren't guarding it well", then what forces do the A.A.E.T. have on all the OTHER exits?... does that mean Rheinland just went and blocked all other exits of a BRETONIAN system with even more forces? WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FLAK?
Rheinland Pilot: We'll take care of the battleship. Maintain radio silence.
The dissenters pop cloak on approach to the battleship.
Battleship Wotan: Commander Zane, Mr. Trent, we've been looking for you. Hand over the artifact and we will spare your life.
I remember how this line sounded in Russian localization. Rather than somehow replicate the accent, they made that line in broken Russian, as if spoken by a foreigner. Novyi Disk screwed the job up here and there, but this could be seen as a nice touch.
Battleship Wotan: Have it your way. All fighter wings, engage. Target their engines.
Dissenters uncloak and launch torpedoes at the battleship.
Battleship Wotan: It's a trap! Incoming torpedoes! Evasive maneuvers! We're hit! All hands, abandon ship! *static*
...okay, I see what you did there...
Rheinland Pilot: We have to destroy the remaining fighters! Break and attack!
Well, there are only five Valks. You could say it was...
A Valk in the park.
Okay, okay, I'll go and sit in the corner now.
Rheinland Pilot: That was it! Let's get out of here. Mr. Trent, you go first.
Juni: We made it! Thank you for your help.
Rheinland Pilot: You're welcome, but this isn't the end of it. Something has happened to Rheinland, and I'm afraid the worst is yet to come. We'll fly to the Norfolk and give ourselves up. Hopefully someone in the Bretonia military will believe our story. Good luck to you.
Juni: The trade lane to Leeds is near. We should go.
Sinclair: Who are we meeting on Leeds?
Juni: An old friend of Trent's. This will be interesting.
Juni: Take the trade lane, we're almost there.
On arriving to Leeds
Sinclair: Can't believe we made it through all of this. Thank you.
Juni: Don't mention it. Land on Leeds. We'll meet in the equipment room.
Trent walks up to Tobias as the pallet with the panels rolls past
Tobias: Trent, where have you been? I was worried about you! *Juni walks up* But I see you've been in good company.
Trent: Juni, meet Tobias.
Tobias: Richard Winston Tobias, Esquire, dear lady.
Trent: Tobias sort of... raised me.
Juni: And from such humble beginnings, your head grew to its present size?
Trent shrugs, Sinclair walks up
Sinclair: We're all clear, nobody followed us.
Tobias: And who do we have here? Another girl? *laughs* Tell me boy, what were you doing?
Juni and Sinclair exchange glances
Trent: Tobias, we need a safe place to lay low for a while.
Juni: Doctor, can you decipher a writing on the artifact?
Sinclair: I can do most of it, but not alone. I need Quintane.
Juni: Like it or not, Trent, before we get some answers, I think we need to find Quintane.
Trent: I knew you were going to say that...
Juni: Look, this might take some time. Sinclair will do everything she can with her work, and I'll dig around for any leads for Quintane. You try and scare up some business, we could use some credits. Anyway, I can't have any lounging around like a big ox waiting for things to happen.
Trent walks off, Juni shrugs
Tobias: I can't remember when I ever saw such a vision of loveliness...
Juni: Oh, brother... *Walks off as Tobias has a laugh*
Aaand that's all for Mission 5! Once again, we need a sum of credits to reach before getting the next mission, but I don't think it's going to be a problem. For the next Intermission, we're going to go slightly off the well traveled paths, take a leaf from Pre-Game Trent's book and go for a walk in Border Worlds.
See you... well, I'm not sure when. Maybe this month, maybe next. I hope you enjoyed this one because writing the voice lines from the recorded video materials was tedious af.
Encounter over Sprague
Cutscene - meeting Sinclair
Cutscene - aboard Baxter
Skirmish at Baxter
Back in Cambridge