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A Game Mod for the Free Space series, Wings Of Dawn has a completely new setting and story, rather than being an addition to the existing canon. Boasting a heavily Anime-influenced plot, a metric ton of Shout Outs, and Lampshade Hangings galore, it is also notable in that it was completed by just one guy, known as Spoon.
The year is NC 0145. The war between the Terrans and the Cyrva ended 62 years ago, and the two species are on friendly terms, though not integrated. In an effort to improve interspecies relations, a joint military academy is founded in the Abyss system, where cadets of both species would study alongside each other, and form the mixed-species Joint Guardian Angels Strike Force upon graduating. Now, the first class of the academy is graduating, and Misuzu Stella, Crystal Is'va Dertanya, and their classmates are looking forward to some routine peace-time assignments on board their new command ship, the LSF Guardian Angel. However, they soon find themselves fighting on the front lines against a sudden invasion by not one but several alien species.
The story remains lighthearted even at some of its darker moments, with a few surprising plot twists, and generally feels like something straight out of an anime space opera, not that this is a bad thing. It has been mostly well-received by the Free Space fan community, many of whom found its lightheartedness refreshing after the Hopeless War that is Free Space.
There is a sequel that has been announced to be in the works titled Wings of Dawn 2: Into the Void.
This mod includes examples of:
- Ace Custom: Misuzu gets a custom Ray Mk. III. Depending on the player's preference, it can be either slower and more powerful, or weaker but more maneuverable.
- Ace Pilot: Subverted. Justice has many years of flight experience, but has only been in about five battles prior to the current conflict.
- All There in the Manual: The tech room contains massive amounts of background information on people, species, history, and planets, truly fleshing out the Wings of Dawn universe.
- Alternate Calendar: The NC calendar starts somewhere in the vicinity of 2230, coinciding with the UEU taking power on Earth.
- Airstrike Impossible: Several Cordi motherships and the Hertak Flagship are destroyed in this manner.
- Animesque: All character art is drawn in an obvious anime style, and there are plenty of anime tropes and Shout Outs present.
- Apocalypse How: Class 6 on the previously-inhabitable planets of the Abyss system, as a result of the Terran-Cyrvan war. Rather than repair or terraform the ruined worlds, both species let them stand as they are, to serve as bleak and permanent reminders of the war.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Adasyas have incredibly powerful Deflector Shields, and are tough for capital ships to take down... unless a sneaky fighter pilot flies under the shields and shoots the core (this is pretty dangerous, as the Adasya still has numerous point defense turrets, and its homing lasers will hit you on the way in).
- Benevolent Alien Invasion: The Cyrva have already done this to one alien species, the Yehio, and are currently "guiding" their society's development. They tried to do the same with the Terrans... that didn't go quite as well.
- Bio Augmentation: Humans resorted to this after World War Three (which was nuclear). Since the overthrow of the UEU, use of genetic engineering has been greatly reduced, save for medical purposes. Still, there's no doubt that a century of tinkering with genetics has done humanity good: disease is far more uncommon, the human lifespan has been increased to 140 years, with aging delayed to around age 70, and humans in general are more intelligent and physically fit.
- Catch Phrase: Tempest - "I'm not getting paid enough to <insert action here>!"
- The Nordera - "YEAARGH!"
- Cool Starship: The Guardian Angel, the Fura'ngle Adasya-class warship, the Aestival-class fighter...
- Infi, dammit! Infi!
- Cowardly Lion: The Fura'ngle. They hate fighting, and run away from any conflict that looks like they might possibly lose. They also have technology on par with (or even surpassing) the Cyrva, and possess some extremely powerful weapons. They are also the only race smart enough to concentrate on omnidirectional turrets, which can make them extremely irritating to fight.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: Infi reveals several neat tricks in its final run that it was never shown to have before, such as jamming its enemies' targeting systems, and hacking into their capital ships to overload their jump drives, instantly destroying them.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The UEU, or "United Earth Union", the government that ruled humanity before the League of Terran Worlds overthrew it.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Crystal's older sister Isa has appeared in the "Ask a Crew Member" Q&A sessions long before showing up in-universe.
- Fandom Nod: During an intense battle, Tempest mentions a "BoE-3" simulator with similar situations. "BoE" refers to "Battle of Endor", a term used by the fans to describe huge battles involving many capital ships.
- In addition, one of the squadrons are known as the 42nd Hard Light squadron, featuring many cameos of various forumites.
- Fan Service: Several pictures of the female cast buried in the game's files, as well as one loading screen.
- Requests on the forum for additional fanservice pics resulted in one mostly uncensored picture of Dawn in an onsen. Hilarity Ensued when this started a dedicated "Fanservice Request Thread" (which thus far, has yielded nothing).
- Fantastic Racism: The Cyrva, despite formally recognizing Terrans as their equals, retain a superior attitude about their culture and technology. Some Terrans remain prejudiced against them, particularly those of the Harcon system (like Scar).
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: Dawn gets tossed into the future due to a Phlebotinum Breakdown.
- Fragile Speedster: Cordi fighters. They go down in two or three hits, but good luck keeping them in your sights.
- Genetic Memory: Hertak males can pass their skills and experience on to their children. The downside is that they are very slow to learn anything, but once it's learned, it's learned forever, provided the bloodline doesn't die out.
- Genki Girl: Misuzu.
- Genre Savvy: The main characters. Leads to much Lampshading.
- Gratuitous Japanese: Usually courtesy of Misuzu (she at one point claims to be of Japanese descent, but she has also claimed to be Polish nobility, so nobody really believes her).
- Crystal also has a moment of this, shouting "Itai!" after hurting herself. Rooming with Misuzu for a few years might have rubbed off on her.
- And then there's this from the "Ask a Crewmember" Q&A:
Question: "Does Isa have a warm side and does she show it often?"
Crystal: "100% tsun, 0% dere."
Misuzu: "I'm proud, you're getting the hang of this!"
Isa: "I have no idea what you are on about little sis..."
- Half Human Hybrids: Terran and Cyrvan biology is close enough for them to interbreed. However, the Cyrva disapprove of the practice, due to their substantially longer lifespans, and the fact that they marry for life. Thus, hybrids are very rare.
- Heel Face Turn: The Cordi after Crystal helps them rescue their Queen from the Hertak. A squad of Zy fighters also defect in the middle of the climactic battle, and prove instrumental in taking out a priority target. After the Flagship goes down, the Zy and Fura'ngle turn completely, and begin waging war on the Hertak to take back their homeworlds.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Infi, preventing the Hertak Flagship from escaping the final conflict.
- Hive Mind: Averted. The Cordi are individuals and free thinkers, despite being bugs. That said, they are fanatically loyal to their Queen, and will disobey no order from her.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: In "A Nordera Day", the JGASF Guardian Angels themselves, who use computer hax to shut down your fighter. You can only watch helplessly as you are taken down... by none other than Misuzu!
- Hulk Speak: THE NORDERA LIKE BIG BOOM! ROCKETS ARE FUN BECAUSE THEY ZOOM AND THEN BOOM! YEAARGH!
- In-Series Nickname: Most of the JGASF pilots. Also "Infi", the AI onboard the Prometheus Frame.
- Further, Cyrvans are sometimes called "Space Elves" by Terrans.
- Interface Screw: Scar decides to have some fun with the examination simulator.
Crystal: "Okay, here we g- who messed with the simulator settings!?"
Scar: "That was me, this program was so easily hackable. Figured it would be fun to add a bit of a retro feel to it."
- Macross Missile Massacre: Swarm missiles are very common on Terran, Cyrvan, Zy, and Hertak fighters. One Terran warship takes it Up to Eleven, capable of firing volleys of what looks like several dozen at once.
- Made of Explodium: Anything ever built by the Nordera. Note, however, that this doesn't mean easy to destroy; their ships will absorb huge amounts of punishment before exploding like giant powder kegs.
- Mildly Military: Probably as a result of having a Cyrvan as the commanding officer, as it's been stated that Cryvan crews lack the strict discipline present in human crews (largely because, they claim, they can do their jobs just fine without said discipline).
- Mission Control: Crystal, most of the time. Sometimes she takes to a fighter herself because she doesn't want to see everyone else hog the glory. Or because it has a mecha mode for breaking people out of hostile flagships.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Armageddon-class dreadnoughts.
- Nintendo Hard: "A Nordera Day", in which you play as the Nordera. Which means: no shields, no targeting, no afterburners (at first), and no homing missiles.
- No Kill Like Overkill: Seems to be standard Hertak design philosophy. The Aleyurians as well: the uber-powerful Prometheus Frame was their idea of a "light" fighter.
- Speaking of overkill, just what the hell did the Zy put in those Anti-Fura'ngle missiles? They easily make the largest explosion seen in the game.
- Non-Indicative First Episode: While relevant to the plot, the first mission contains a setting, technology, and weapons that only appear once more in the game.
- No Transcyrvanism Allowed: The Cyrvans absolutely forbid genetic research of any kind, for any reason. (Strangely, interbreeding with Terrans is permitted, though not encouraged.) Terrans aren't quite as strict about this, but view genetic engineering somewhat unfavorably, since the oppressive UEU used it heavily, and often on unwilling subjects.
- Older Than They Look: Crystal is 42. Still very young by Cyrvan standards, as they often live to be Really Seven Hundred Years Old.
- Dawn was in a Starlance for a hundred years, technically. The game Lampshades this by listing her age as "19 (119?)".
- Oh Crap: Everyone has this reaction when the Hertak make their dramatic appearance. The Hertak themselves when they are confronted with Infi, and again when they realize that Infi's about to disable their Flagship's super-hyperspace drive.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Most of the JGASF pilots, with the exception of Misuzu and Crystal. Their real names are mentioned in the tech room.
- Otaku Surrogate: Misuzu is a major Humongous Mecha fangirl, and collects model kits.
- Our Elves Are Better: The Cyrva are longer-lived, more physically flexible, more able to multitask,in general better shots than Terrans, and their ships are much, much more powerful and advanced. Terrans do have some advantages over them though, they are physically stronger and have a much higher pain tolerance, to the point that a fist fight between a Terran and a Cyrvan will always end in a Terran victory. Terrans are also more experienced and determined in warfare, which is one of the reasons they were able to fight the more technologically-advanced Cyrva to a stalemate. The other, and arguably biggest, reason was the fact that as the war dragged on public support for it on the Cyrvan side dwindled, which meant that the volunteer-run Cyrvan armada stopped receiving reinforcements.
- Palette Swap: Fura'ngle Astrays are just red Sweepers with added firepower.
Misuzu: "A palette swap? How cheap!"
- Power Crystal: Fura'ngle Adasyas have one. Guess what happens if you blow it up.
- Precursors: The Aleyurians.
- Press X to Not Die: Several in quick succession in Infi's final mission.
- Proud Scholar Race: We'd say the Cyrva are Space Elves in all but name, but humanity wasted no time in nicknaming them exactly that when they first met.
- Proud Warrior Race: The Nordera. The Zy as well, although they've mellowed out some after allying with the Fura'ngle.
- Psychic Powers: Dawn's genetically-enhanced brain appears to give her some low-key precognition and empathy. Some rare Cyrvans are also minor precogs (it is suggested that Luna might be one, but never confirmed).
- Purposefully Overpowered: The Prometheus Frame, aka Infi. Let's see: it has a powerful primary weapon that can kill any fighter in about three shots that aims itself at your target, four Wave Motion Guns that allow it to chew through capital ships with ease, AI-controlled anti-fighter beams to deal with enemies trying to flank you, two variations of extremely powerful heat-seeking swarm missiles, and capital ship strength Deflector Shields. The only things really capable of taking Infi down are over a dozen fighters attacking at once or an Armageddon dreadnought. The R&D folks really weren't kidding when they said this single ship could probably turn the tide of war on its own.
- Roboteching: The Adasya-class vessel has homing lasers (truly homing at that: these are 100% accurate). The cast points out that this should be impossible.
- Running Gag: Cordi ships and their tentacles.
- Screw You, Elves: The Cyrva thought Humanity needed guidance. Humanity did not take it well.
- Sequel Hook: What was the information Infi imprinted onto Dawn's mind? Who are the Fir'kyr? What was their relation to the Aleyurians, and why were the Hertak so interested in this?
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships: If Terran ships were any shinier, they'd be emitting light themselves. Possibly justified by the tech room because the ships have reflective armor to protect against energy weapons.
Lots of these
- Star Control:
- The Hertak are enslaving other species and using them as "battle thralls" (yes, those exact words are used), out of fear of being destroyed themselves. Their Armageddon dreadnoughts somewhat resemble Ur-Quan dreadnoughts in shape, and the fighters they launch use beams as a primary weapon. In other words, they're basically the Kzer-Za. They even get a remix of the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za theme accompanying both their first mention and their first appearance.
- The Fura'ngle are essentially a more serious version of the Spathi in their mannerisms...
- ...but resemble the Chenjesu physically, and their fighters have defense satellites like Chmmr Avatars.
- The relationship between the Zy and the Fura'ngle mirrors that of the Ur-Quan and the Taalo.
- The Nordera, much like the Shofixti, are a relatively primitive warrior race that got into space with help from a more advanced species (in this case, the Hertak, whom they willingly serve in exchange for getting to kill aliens, which suits the Hertak just fine). They tend to act more like the Thraddash, though.
- When a partial translator is used on Cordi speech, the output greatly resembles Orz *spitting*. (Yes, the word "*campers*" does come up.)
- The Hertak Flagship's "plane shift" drive sounds a lot like the Quasi-Space Portal Spawner.
- The Cyrva had a civil war long before the game begins. Said conflict was called "The Doctrine War".
- The Yehio have yet to appear themselves, but are confirmed by Crystal to be very similar to the Yehat, "except less Scottish".
- Misuzu notes that the red Fura'ngle fighters do not go three times faster than the others.
- Also, said fighters are called Astrays.
- The decal on the Ray I is the king of hearts from G Gundam and the decal on the Hazel is from the Advance of Zeta test team.
- Misuzu begins to shout "Leeroy Jenkins!" as a battlecry in one mission, before being shushed by her wingman. (Their battle plan for the mission actually was "just charge in and cause havoc.")
- Hard Light Productions members appear as a friendly squadron in one mission. Another apparently flies for the Nordera.
- Aestival-class fighters.
- Star Control:
Misuzu: "It just takes some guts and courage!"
- The first of the multi-target-homing swarm missiles you're give is called the IT-AN-0 after the man who made the Macross Missile Massacre famous, Ichiro Itano.
- The heaviest missile available happens to be called the Dragonslave.
- The "Playground" simulator mission includes the ability to call in Nanoha Takamachi from the reinforcement menu. You can guess what happens next.
- Cyrvan capital ships include the Starlight-class and the Breaker-class.
- The Terran "Ray" series of fighters is named for the Ray series of robos in Custom Robo.
- Though we only see his back, artwork of Justice looks suspiciously like Gene Starwind. He shares Gene's fascination for space and spaceships, and he also shares a last name (Hawking) with Gene's partner Jim.
- One of the weapons, the HEDR-3, is given the nickname 'Spiritus Lucis'.
- "Shoot the core for terrible, terrible damage!"
- The fighter power up sequence in the flight testing missions is exactly one extra line from Mechwarrior 3's mission-start lines.
- The Battlestar: Not very common in this, unlike most Free Space mods. The Nordera Battleaxes do it because culturally they can't bear to leave a fight (and their fighters don't have jump drives), the Hertak Armageddons because they're
copying the Ur-Quanjust that scary. Neither the Guardian Angel itself nor the Cordi Mothership, however, are any great shakes at ship-to-ship, and the Adasya doesn't appear able to deploy fighters.
- The Big Guy: Axe. Comes from growing up on a high-gravity world.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Hertak, who enslaved the other hostile species Ur-Quan style.
- The Mothership: The Hertak Flagship. Since the entire royal family is onboard, destroying this throws the entire Hertak empire into disarray, and costs them both their battle thralls and the war.
- The Cordi have a ship class called "Mothership", but it doesn't fit the trope.
- The Quiet One: Luna. Most of the cast finds her kind of weird, and have a difficult time speaking to her.
- The Unpronounceable: The Cordi Queen's name, Lop'ferj'kk the Third.
- Tron Lines: Apparently Cyrvan capital ships possess these.
- Transforming Mecha: Aestival-class fighters have a mecha mode. Unfortunately, due to engine limitations, this is only shown in a split-second cutscene.
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue: The final scene dictates what happened to everyone after the war, where they went, and what their current occupation is.
- Winged Humanoid: On extremely rare occasion, a Cyrvan is born with white, feathery wings. This is considered a good omen.
- Word of God: Have some questions about the setting or story? You can ask the characters themselves!
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Dawn. Other than her, though, the trope is surprisingly averted. The only other character with unnatural hair shown is Tempest's bright pink, but Word of Spoon says she dyes it, with her natural hair color (red-brown) being more believable.
- ↑ somewhere around AD 2375