“The captain’s going down with his ship so I don’t have to”
The right man in the wrong star system can make all the difference in HOME WORLD
Homeworld is a classic space opera. As armadas trade blows to an orchestral accompaniment, little room is given for personal perspectives. This is a story of civilizations rising and falling, of noble Kushan exiles taking their ancestral home back from the sprawling Taiidan empire. What difference can one person make? A fair bit, it turns out. Captain Elson is introduced in mission 13, Karos Graveyard. He’s defected from the evil empire along with the crew of his destroyer, the Kapella. When I came back to Homeworld this month to finally wrap up the campaign, he left a mark.
The final fight over Hiigara drops you in the thick of it and doesn’t let up. A locust swarm of mothership-melting ion frigates, followed by cruisers and destroyers. When one wave falls, a fresh hell warps in from wherever my guns aren’t looking. Repair ships work frantically to keep my mothership alive. It’s rough.
Fleet intelligence calmly informs me we’re overrun, as yet another fleet warps in. But instead, there he is. My Lafayette, loaded with guns and ships in a burst of blue hyperspace. Elson’s arrival signals the end. We mop up the last of the enemy forces. Silence falls and we survey the scene.
The good captain makes a break for it. Surely, I figure, he must know his formation won’t make a dent in the Emperor’s lines? I have gathered a fleet of dozens: Heavy cruisers, destroyers, enough frigates to end this war without further losses on our side. But on he goes.
Maybe this is just dodgy late-’90s AI in action. But it could be how Elson is choosing to close out this chapter. He’s a defector, a former captain in the Taiidan Elite Guard, and he probably didn’t get his job as captain of the Kapella without getting his hands dirty. The Emperor’s flagship is within sight and he guns it.
Suicide miss ion
I imagine Elson struggles to think of how people like him will last in the new age. His time has passed, but there’s still a moment left to give one last gift to the Kushan. As his formation breaches the asteroid field surrounding the flagship I see it. He’s split the Emperor’s fleet. Instead of a wall, it’s now a broken trail, slowly moving to deal with the traitor captain. By the time my fleet arrives the disarray will prove deadly.
According to the wiki, the Kapella survives. Elson is proclaimed a hero across the galaxy. But something feels off about that ending—it’s far too tidy for Homeworld’s melancholic opera.
As alarms flare, and the Kapella, and Elson, goes up in flames, I can see the Taiidan Emperor looking on from his throne as the debris clears. The smugness on his face evaporating as my fleet—a legion of ships that will shatter an empire and end an age—floats silently and unstoppably onwards.
By the time my fleet arrives the disarray will prove deadly
’Ere we go, ’ere we go.
They’re not pulling any punches, huh?