We have been waiting for the new Featured Episode arc for a year. The fleet — Federation News Service, supplier of embedded journalists to Starfleet — was logging in more and more, getting ready to do whatever would be asked of us. Fleet mates were watching the relevant Deep Space 9 episodes. We were totally there.
We even specified uniforms of the day (four variations) so we’d be dressed appropriately. Because while the poor, doomed residents of Deep Space 9 didn’t know what was going to happen — we did.
I shouldn’t say that. I think the current Deep Space 9 commander knew, because he got out alive, leaving his XO to die. But we’ll get to that.
We gathered outside Deep Space 9 — I, Talyn, Azz, Galo, and Kermoon. Well, I shouldn’t say “together”, since we were in three of the many instances outside DS9. And we weren’t ready to start, even though we all had “Start Second Wave” buttons, because you get those whenever anyone has gotten the quest. One of us had gone to the Episodes screen and gotten it, we all had the button, but only one of us was going to get the end rewards. ANYWAY. We all entered the mission — and found ourselves on Deep Space 9.
Well, most of us. Talyn got his own instance.
We were called up to Operations, where the station XO greeted us and apologized for the commander being away, making preparations for the quadrant-wide conference on the Borg invasion. Perhaps if we could go find the delegates and tell them there was some delay…
I was reading (this is sort of parenthetical) recently that Star Trek was a futuristic depiction not of our society, but of Victorian society — tall ships, a love of old books, a complete absence of social technologies — a future where our present had never happened. Not surprising, since the tall ships of the Horatio Hornblower Sail Age stories were an explicit inspiration for Star Trek.
Anyway, the point I’m making here is, why can’t they just use their comm badges to inform everyone of the delay? Or send an ensign? I’m a VICE ADMIRAL. I should be ATTENDING this conference. Which eventually does happen. I’m foreshadowing again.
Well, we could have just chatted with the delegates and continued on the quest, but each delegate also had a task to perform. The Cardassian ambassador wanted some Bajor slave wine from the occupation. The Deferan ambassador wanted to get his freak on in a holosuite. The Andorian ambassador wanted some ship repairs (completed as Duty Officer missions) if you were a Federation captain. If you were a KDF captain, the Klingon ambassador (a Gorn) wants your crew to help with some espionage (again as Duty Officer missions). Many of those missions have sub-missions. Basically, you run around and complete meaningless tasks.
I’m really not sure what the point of those was. With a full group running around, it was hard to keep track of who was doing what to which quest. This portion was clearly better for one or two people — Bryn and I did it over as a duo and it worked well.
Anyway, mini quests done and delegates notified, we took the turbolift to the conference room and took a seat at the table.
The conference started immediately. The Klingon ambassador (who was a Gorn) trumpeted that that Klingon empire was strong and would never accept defeat (the Gorn, remember, are a conquered race. Talk about your textbook Stockholm Syndrome). The Deferans proposed to do nothing and let everyone else help them because that has worked so well with the Breen and the Borg. The Cardassians aren’t big fans of anyone else. The Federation ambassador promises to keep the entire quadrant safe, eventually. They’re really working hard. A solution is just around the corner. Your words may be assimilated by then but help is on the way.
This discussion isn’t going anywhere. The station commander asks for our input. If your diplomacy skill is high enough, you get the decisive arguments and can select them. Otherwise you have to drill down into a conversation tree. Your arguments are either persuasive or miss the mark. I think you get an accolade if you sway all of them to your side.
That’s when the wormhole opens and a Dominion fleet streams through. They quickly strike through DS9’s defenses and beam Jem’Hadar troops into the promenade. The delegates must be brought to safety, by us!
The turbolift drops us onto a promenade in ruins. Jem’Hadar troops are everywhere. Tactical officers can take a gun from a fallen security officer and give it to the Gorn. Engineering officers can unjam a bulkhead and free a security officer. Science officers can heal a security officer. Doing all three gets you an accolade. It’s a running fight down to the ship docks, and we needed both energy and melee weapons to take the Jem’Hadar down. Several Cardassian Lock Boxes dropped, and quite a lot of Ketracel White.
I, as a fabrication engineer, was a little depowered because I could not make most of my devices, like turrets and stuff. Fab engineers are not allowed to make their devices on DS9 because they are considered spammy. Fine, but I felt underpowered on our trip to the docks. I was able to call down some Orbital Bombardments now and then. I don’t know from where, or how it hit without blowing a hole straight through the station, but there you go.
We eventually made it to the docks, cleared the area of enemies and boarded our ships, splitting the delegates between us, apparently.
(I just realized I took no screenshots of the space battle… sigh… well, it was kind of busy).
The space around DS9 was sick with Jem’Hadar fighter ships and boarding parties. The station shuttle fleet was hemmed in. We made short work of those ships — there must have been twenty, easy. But we were up for it.
From the wormhole came a new Dominion battle group — several battleships, a squadron of support ships and heavy escorts, and an enormous Dreadnaught. We were going to need help. Four Federation starships were in the area, dealing with portions of the attacking fleet. We had to go help each of those ships with their battles so they could be free to help repel the battle group, while also opening a path for the refugee shuttles to escape to Bajor.
Just as we finished that, the vanguard of the Dominion battle group reached DS9.
Cutscene as a Jem’Hadar beams in to DS9 Operations and kills the XO, leaving the station commander (who escaped on the Defiant) squawking on comm about what was happening. A Vorta woman beams in and announces that she is Loriss, and is claiming Deep Space 9 on behalf of the Dominion.
You can either warp to Bajor at this point, or stay behind and kill the battle group. There doesn’t seem to be any reward for sticking it out. Plot-wise, the battle group made it to the station, after all.
Warping out brings you to Bajor orbit, where you release the delegates to their delegations and receive your reward (if you remembered to get the mission before starting it. I had to go back and do it again.)
Loot is one of two weapons, some Jem’Hadar pistols or a Jem’Hadar rifle. The rifle is part of a set, the set which will clearly be completed by other episodes in this arc. So get that. Do it again for the pistols if you like. The other rewards are consumable weapon power-ups. Presumably future episodes will need these weapons, so look for more ground missions in this arc.
Here’s my Klingon captain modeling the rifle. Look at his spindly legs and laugh! Laugh! Ask him about his smooth forehead! See how he cowers in fear! He is no true warrior! Hahaha!
Having now done the episode four times (twice for T’pral, once for Tipa, once for Krontar), I can say it works best with one other person. One person has to run around a lot in the meaningless task portion (which is optional, I have to point out). Two people can do it far more effectively, and are also sufficient to clear the promenade and take on the battle groups outside the station. Five — a full group — is too many for the pre-conference stuff (which should be skipped in a group that size). I guess three captains, one of each specialty, would be best in order to pick up the accolade in the promenade. High diplomacy is helpful, too.
We know the plot going forward; the summaries for all the remaining episodes have been posted. What we don’t know is — are any of the episodes going to require a full group? Previous feature episodes — the Breen arc, especially — have taken great advantage of full groups. Some, the Devidian Arc, have been balanced between the two.
I would really like to know ahead of time what sort of group we should be bringing to these things. Knowing what I know now, with our full group today, I’d have skipped the subquests, but we really had no idea if they were important to the plot or eventual reward in some way. I’m still not sure.
But whatever. I do know now, and now so do you.
See you next week!
This has been T’pral Zarek reporting for the Federation News Service.