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Editor’s note: I played the tutorial for Star Trek Online during a recent visit to Cryptic Studios, the game’s developer. Instead of doing a standard preview, I decided to present the game in a narrative that Star Trek fans are familiar with: the captain’s log. -Jason
Captain’s Log: Supplemental. Stardate 86088.58
The words haunt my thoughts and chill my soul hours after hearing them for the first time.
“We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
The quadrant is in chaos. The Klingon Empire walked out of the Khitomer Accords, and the Klingons are embracing their militaristic ways of the past. We are at war with the Empire. The Romulans are scrambling to hold their empire together. The Cardassians are pursuing democracy.
But none of this may matter. The Borg are back.
Starfleet hadn’t had contact with the Borg since U.S.S. Voyager dealt the collective a significant blow before returning to the Alpha Quadrant four decades ago. But during an engagement that resulted in my ascension to captain, I found myself facing the Federation’s deadliest enemy.
I’m proud of my posting to the U.S.S. Bucher, even if she’s an old Miranda-class light cruiser. Sure, the Bucher was a relic even when my father first entered Starfleet 30 years ago. But it’s an honor to serve in Starfleet, even if the ship’s class first debuted when Captain James T. Kirk was at the helm of the original Enterprise.
The Borg, however, are a part of Starfleet’s history that I’d rather not experience firsthand.
We answered a distress call at the Vega colony. We found the U.S.S. Khitomer among the wreckage of numerous Starfleet vessels. The Khitomer‘s Emergency Medical Hologram informed us that the crew was battling Borg boarding parties and that a number of the senior staff had been killed.
We beamed over to the Khitomer. After helping the wounded, we went to secure auxiliary control. It was there that I saw my first Borg drone. Fear gripped me, even if the drones were on the other side of a force field. They looked like zombies from the horror movies popular in the 20th century. My fear and revulsion nearly overwhelmed me, but I focused on my duty: Every act onboard the Khitomer could help my fellow Starfleet officers and crewers escape joining the collective.
It didn’t take us long to discover that the Borg behaved…differently than the Borg that Starfleet encountered in the past. They didn’t coordinate or adapt to our weapons. Our phasers cut through their body armor. Our shields held them back. We could use the transporter to beam them into space. It was like they were disconnected from the collective.
The Borg’s odd behavior became most apparent while fighting in Engineering. The Borg appeared in waves randomly around the Warp Core. They didn’t engage in any tactics. We took cover behind consoles and repelled the threat with little difficulty.
Despite my fear, I was thrilled — we’d repelled the Borg, the most dangerous of the Federation’s enemies. That thrill quickly turned to a chill after I beamed back to the Bucher. I learned that the Borg had killed my captain and all of the senior offices on my ship.
Even though I’m an ensign, as the highest-ranking officer left onboard and long-standing naval tradition, I was now the U.S.S. Bucher‘s captain. I wasn’t sure that I was ready for such responsibility. I had just got my first taste of battle — could I order my ship, my crew, into danger? Would they follow the orders of an untested captain?
As I settled into the captain’s chair, we received a message from the hospital ship U.S.S. Seacole: They asked for assistance in gathering the injured from the damaged starships in the area. I ordered the helmsman to lay in a course for the first ship, fully aware — and proud — that my first order as a captain was given in a mission of mercy.
We beamed over survivors from four ships, dropping them off on the Seacole before receiving a hail from U.S.S. Renown: Search for and destroy Borg probes.
I would quickly learn if I could command my ship, my crew, in battle.
The probes, like the drones we destroyed on the Khitomer, didn’t adapt to our weapons. Miranda-class starships may be old, but they are nimble. We danced around the probes, presenting different shield vectors as we wore down their defenses. At this point, I still had a sense of unease. The Borg are dangerous foes, and I felt we were gaining the upper hand too easily.
After destroying the probes, we were ordered to beam down to Vega Colony and stop the Borg from assembling some unknown devices. They are pyramid-shaped devices of unknown intent. Maybe the Borg were trying to reestablish their link to the collective? Whatever their intent, the devices must be important — the Borg protected them with heavy drones and tactical drones.
We arrived inside the colony, and the Borg were everywhere. Some were making sloppy attempts at assimilation as others chased and fought colonists and Starfleet personnel. The Borg again fought without coordination, and we were able to overwhelm them as we made our way to the strange devices guarded by the elite drones.
While were stronger than standard drones, the heavy and tactical drones also didn’t adapt to our weapons. We were able to destroy the drones and the devices.
At this point, the fleet admiral ordered all remaining ships to rendezvous for a push against the Borg. The Bucher‘s viewscreen filled with the images of a Borg Sphere and a Cube. My fear came back as the Borg ships ordered us to stand down and await assimilation, but we pressed the attack. Our phasers and photon torpedoes found their marks. We successfully avoided the Borg’s cutting beams, and the fleet continued to pummel the enemy ships until the broke apart in fiery explosions.
The Borg incursion is over. I sit now in my cabin, recording my first log as the Bucher‘s captain. My ship languishes in spacedock as the crew repairs damage suffered in the battle.
Even though I’m in command of a ship, I’m still wary of the future. The war wages with the Klingons — will my future battles end as well as the first? Will I be able to protect my crew? The Romulans are in disarray, and I worry that their empire’s struggles will result in more trouble for the Alpha Quadrant. And the Borg could return, organized and as deadly as they were in the past. Yet the chaos opens up opportunities for exploration, for meeting new species, and for defending the Federation from our enemies.
I’m confident that the crew of the U.S.S. Bucher stands ready to face the future — as does its captain.