So, if you were wondering what I’ve been up to these past few weeks, here’s an answer. Star Trek Online, a shiny MMORPG based on the Star Trek universe is now a free-to-play game. As a longtime fan of Star Trek, of course I had to check it out. I really like it. It seems, to me, a lot more story-based than other MMORPGs. There aren’t any quests where the mission text is “Go kill 50 slimes and report back to me.” You may, of course, wind up killing 50 slimes, but the missions usually come up with a compelling reason for you to do so. Also did I mention the graphics are shiny?
I started playing and quickly became hooked, but all is not lost, Reader! This game allowed me to get a character out of my head who’s been up there forever trying to get out! Her name is Carlin Drel and she is a young joined Trill (Trill are humanoid aliens whose only alien features are apparently the two fashionable stripes of leopard print running down sides of their body and their ability to join with long-lived symbiotes–called symbionts–and merge personalities and memories with the symbiont and any previous hosts, forming one distinct personality that benefits from the experience of previous hosts. The last name of a joined Trill is the symbiont’s name and is shared with previous hosts only: thus Carlin Drel consists of the humanoid Carlin joined to the Drel symbiont, with Perciv Drel being a previous host). She’s sort of a tribute to Ezri Dax, who I thought was a fascinating in Star Trek Deep Space 9, even though she really only shined in one episode (“Field of Fire”–one of my favorites, where she tracks down a killer and wields a gun that can shoot through walls and is made of undiluted awesome). Ensign Carmen Drel first appeared as an inexperienced and somewhat inept pilot and semi-major character in an uncompleted story about an Intrepid-class ship named the USS Nautilus fighting off Borg with the help of time-altering alien androids. Subsequently, she starred as Captain Carlin Drel of the Nova-class USS Horizon in a partial pilot episode script (the teaser set her up as having worked aboard the Miranda-class USS Nautilus–a cannon ship–under a Vulcan Captain Sokar until his death and the ship’s destruction, at which point, she was promoted and reassigned to the Horizon). When I started playing Star Trek Online, I noted in the character creation options I could make a female Trill (a joined Trill is apparently something you have to buy, which is a rip-off in my opinion: being joined is a defining feature of the Trill species–so naturally I bit the bullet and bought the extra feature). I made Carlin Drel. The tutorial gives you command of your own ship (though it has a nice story-related reason for doing so), and guess what it is? A Miranda-class starship, which I quickly dubbed USS Nautilus (in fact, the game randomly assigns one of three classes, Miranda, Centaur, or non-canon Shi’Kar-class)! When I saw how story-friendly the game was, I just had to write a fan-fiction about Lieutenant Carlin Drel’s adventures.
It’s interesting to see how this character has developed in my head over the years. Carlin Drel, once an overall helpless character who was a good pilot has now become an overall good character who is a helpless pilot. She remains aboard the USS Nautilus under Vulcan Captain Sokar (though the original story cast her under the human Captain Mason), and of course, she’s back to fighting the Borg. Interestingly, the Vulcan female Lieutenant T’Paie has stayed with Carlin throughout, serving as Science officer in the original story, Chief Medical Officer in the script, and now returning as Chief Engineer. Energetic-but-shy crack-pilot Ensign Hinoki Hayashi from the script also makes an appearance, albeit in a heavily revised form (her name is changed to Tanya Pierce, and to say anything else would give too much away).
The game itself shapes the story. Spoilers follow, you can see them by highlighting the text. In the tutorial, your ship is responding to a Borg attack on the Vega Colonies. Your ship arrives a little late and finds the place in disarray. Ordered to report to the USS Khitomer it finds the only signal coming from the ship is a distress call from its EMH in the Auxiliary Medical Bay (and yes, the EMH–Emergency Medical Hologram–is annoying). You, as an Ensign, are sent down to solo the situation aboard the Khitomer because of course you can help a holographic doctor and solo dozens of hostile Borg drones! After helping the EMH (which really consists of scanning one patient and administering a hypospray), you go out to find some Borg trapped behind a forcefield shooting at it while an Andorian Lieutenant reboots the main computer. You beam them out into space, then go down to blast some Borg widgets that are messing with the internal sensors (and any Borg who happen to object to you blasting their widgets). Following this, the Borg rush Main Engineering, but you and the NPCs mow ’em down. Afterwards, you are rewarded with a female Andorian tactical Bridge Officer and sent back to your ship where the transporter chief (an NPC named “Mercy” Thomas) informs you that the Borg tragically killed every higher-ranking officer on the ship, leaving you in command. You get a space movement tutorial rescuing crew members from four damaged ships for the USS Seacoal, a hospital ship whose transporters are down. You then get your shields and weapons enabled by talking to Captain Vo’Lok of the Renown. You then go for a combat tutorial where you shoot unarmed and then armed Borg probes, followed by full combat against a Borg sphere and a Borg cube, assisted by other players.
I kept to the game’s plot somewhat, deviating a little so that things would make more sense (really? an Ensign in command, and fighting all those Borg by herself?). I also inserted a bit for introducing Tanya, a liberated Borg character (not available from the gameplay, I bought her) and her story. Incorporated into her story is my merging of a later mission where the player may go back in time to the initial Vega mission, fighting Borg who have traveled back to that time and built underground installations featuring instant-assimilation machines–which the player of course destroys. I also added a stardate, rather than giving everything in years (the game takes place in 2409). I calculated the stardate by taking the last year-linked stardate on Memory Alpha’s site and figuring 1000 units=1 year. What follows is the first installment of the story, in six parts. Each part is introduced by a “captain’s log” segment which should help you remember where you left off. Enjoy! 🙂