When you visit a mysterious Federation holding facility to seek aid from an old enemy, you’ll find that you aren’t the only one that wants her blessing.
Commander Mesi Achebe informs Arwellyn that the Federation Council has authorized the release of the imprisoned Founder to meet Eraun’s terms so that he will help recover Deep Space Nine from Kar’ukan’s Dominion fleet.
Commander Achebe thinks someone who both Eraun and the Founder respects should handle the prisoner transfer, and Arwellyn in the obvious candidate. She transmits coordinates located in the Ayala system of the Regulus sector block, and Arwellyn immediately orders the helm to set a course. While enroute, Science Officer Lusura tries to research the Ayala system to provide Arwellyn with background information, only to discover that all records have been redacted by order of Starfleet Intelligence.
Arriving at the designated coordinates, sensors detect a large structure built inside one of the large asteroids nearby. A single Jem’Hadar vessel – Eraun’s – is also orbiting the station. The station’s Warden hails the Arkenstone, informing Arwellyn that her authorization to visit the station has just come through from Starfleet Command but refuses to admit the Vorta, pending further investigation. Arwellyn and one of her officers are authorized to beam to the station to speak to the Warden and release the Founder. Putting Lt. Commander Carem in command, Arwellyn and First Officer M’rilana head to the Arkenstone’s transporter room.
Facility 4028, as the prison is known, is a classified high-security prison reserved for the most dangerous criminals or those who are known to be major political targets, such as the Founder we are tasked to release. As such, the station is nearly fully staffed by photonics to avoid being manipulated by the prisoners. Only five humanoids work on the station, and only part-time. Arwellyn and M’rilana are instructed to meet the Warden in Isolation Zone A.
Arriving at the office in Isolation Zone A, Arwellyn interacts with the computer terminal and meets ISIS – the Inmate Security and Information System – which is the virtual brain operating the station. She acknowledges Arwellyn’s visitor authorization and access, then lowers the force field into the office where the Warden awaits.
The Warden is unaware that Arwellyn was sent to speak with the Founder – her initial authorization from Starfleet was simply permission to visit the station – and he assumed she was the representative he had requested to speak to Inmate 53160 some time ago. Since it’s been so long, and the Warden will need a few minutes to receive additional authorization from Starfleet for Arwellyn to speak with the Founder, he asks if she will take a few minutes to listen to the inmate’s grievances. With an exasperated sigh, Arwellyn agrees, but tells him to make it quick – ending the standoff at DS9 is more important than a prisoner unsatisfied with his meals.
The Warden engages the photonic walkway to the holding cells, and calls Starfleet as Arwellyn and M’rilana walk across to Inmate 53160’s cell, where they discover he is none other than Amar Singh who, some time ago, they had arrested on Ha’toria where he was conducting illegal genetic experimentation on Gorn and Klingons and had allied with Klingon Ambassador B’Vat. [Mission: “The Ultimate Klingon”]
Singh is still obsessed with creating his idealistic “perfect” race, but wishes for Arwellyn to ask Starfleet to allow him to complete his research and augment Federation crew members and troops to be stronger, faster, and more resilient fighters in the Federation’s multi-front wars. Arwellyn is strongly against Singh’s ideas but agrees to at least mention his pleas to Starfleet, though she doubts they will think any differently.
Returning to the security office, the Warden has verified Arwellyn’s authorization to speak with the Founder and has also allowed Eraun to transport to the station, though security protocols dictate he must remain outside the isolation zones. The Founder is held in Isolation Zone B, which is the next level below and through another processing area. Arwellyn and M’rilana gather Eraun outside Isolation Zone A and proceed downstairs to speak with the Changeling prisoner.
After thirty years in captivity, the Founder’s feeling about solids are unchanged. We are irrational, fearful and untrustworthy. She only surrendered to Starfleet so that Odo would return to the Great Link himself to provide the cure for Starfleet’s deady virus that was killing the Changelings. She knew if he returned to the Link he would never return, and she could not bear him staying with the solids… specifically with Kira Nerys. She has no interest in Starfleet’s current situation with DS9 but agrees to meet with the Vorta who accompanied Arwellyn to the facility.
Outside Isolation Zone B, Eraun prostrates himself in worship of the Founder but she has no time for his sycophancy. Suddenly, Kar’ukan and several of his Jem’Hadar soldiers reveal themselves! Kar’ukan wants the Founder’s praise for his capture of DS9 and her blessing to continue the campaign against the Federation. She denies, refusing to give him a second chance after his failure thirty years ago was the reason they lost the Dominion War. Kar’ukan flies into a rage and orders his soldiers to kill everyone except the Founder. Eraun has other ideas – he also secretly brought his own Jem’Hadar soldiers as protection. Fighting ensues, and while the Changeling eagerly joins in on the melee combat, Eraun turns out to be quite cowardly and spends his time quaking in fear. Kar’ukan immediately beams out of the station, leaving his men to fight.
Afterward, M’rilana informs Arwellyn that all contact with the Arkenstone has been lost. Something is blocking the signal, but we’re close enough to the secondary ISIS core that we should be able to investigate. Reaching the secondary core, Arwellyn brings up the terminal. The primary ISIS core is offline, and the secondary core has only limited functionality. Emergency protocols have put the station in lockdown: holomatrices are offline, communications are blocked, a transporter inhibiting field is active and the shuttle bay’s force fields are up. With the holomatrices offline, all photonic officers on the station have dematerialized, and the inmates being processed are now freed. Attempts to override the security protocols fail and the secondary core is unable to reboot the primary core until order is restored. Only two protocols will allow the primary ISIS core to reboot after a catastrophic failure: One, subdue the loose prisoners and tag them for emergency site-to-site transport back to their holding cells, or two, Starfleet Command has authorized the use of lethal force to regain control of the facility. Not wishing to outright murder the inmates, Arwellyn engages the non-lethal protocol then she, Miri and the Founder, accompanied by the cowardly Vorta, fight their way back up to Isolation Zone A and the primary ISIS core.
Finally arriving back outside Isolation Zone A, Amar Singh is waiting. He does not fight back but has no wish to return to his cell. However, Arwellyn convinces him to cooperate as Singh lists off his escape plans, none of which are currently viable. Once he is back in his cell and order has been restored to the facility, Arwellyn is able to reboot the primary ISIS core, restoring all functionality back to Facility 4028. The Warden and all the other photonics rematerialize. After completing a brief diagnostic routine, the Warden thanks Arwellyn for her assistance then requests an engineering team from Starfleet to get the station back to peak operating capacity. Arwellyn takes her people to the station’s transporter room and everyone beams to their ships.
However, Kar’ukan has his fleet ready, and this time orders them to destroy everyone including, to the Vorta’s horror, the Founder! Just in the nick of time, some Starfleet ships warp in, led by Captain Shon of the U.S.S. Belfast, one of the members of the Borg conference on Deep Space Nine where this all started. Their presence was enough to buy the Arkenstone and Eraun’s ship time to escape but from all appearances, the Jem’Hadar fleet was too much for the few ships Starfleet could afford to send. As the Arkenstone warped out, the last thing Arwellyn saw appeared to be the destruction of the Belfast. Shon and the other captains sacrificed their ships and crews so that Arwellyn and the Founder could escape to Deep Space Nine and end Kar’ukan’s occupation.
To be concluded…
This was a really fun episode to play! Much like The Vault was a very impressive interior space environment, Facility 4028 is another impressive ground environment, containing multiple levels and some very cool features. Plenty of computer voice informing you of your present location and directions to other wings of the facility, and a decent approximation of Majel Barret, who voiced the ship’s computers in every Star Trek series and film until her death in 2008. In addition to the computer voice and the colored lines we’re instructed to use, player’s can also click a navigation button and for a few seconds a glowing pathway will point us in the right direction, tech first seen in “Cutting the Cord,” the final mission of Series 3. All these are handy on your first play-through of Facility 4028 as it can get a little confusing which way to go and how to get from one point to another.
I am unsure why Amar Singh was included in this mission, other than merely to show up as a recurring villain. Only, he wasn’t the villain and since he voluntarily went back to his cell, will not be the villain for the conclusion in Episode 5. Maybe something will come of it later, but until then it just seemed like he was a “remember me?” deviation to take up a few extra minutes of time. At the end of the mission, Singh is also a plot hole: all the other prisoner groups were being processed by the photonic officers, so it makes sense that when they dematerialized those prisoners were loose. However, Singh was already in his cell which not only had its own force field but was also separated by the photonic walkways. To my memory, all force fields remained in place while the ISIS core was offline and even if they had failed, I don’t think even the augmented Singh would have been able to leap the chasm from the cell block to the security office when the photonic walkway was offline. But I’m sure that’s what the excuse will be.
While I do enjoy the newer, faster ground combat in Star Trek Online, the story that a supposedly super-advanced virtual intelligence computer cannot reboot until loose prisoners are captured or killed seems contrived, to put it mildly. That and the fact that the backup secondary core is pretty much useless. For role-play purposes, I chose the non-lethal protocol with Arwellyn, so that things played out as I wrote here. That turned out to be more time-consuming because I had to defeat the prisoners, then tag them for transport before the force fields to the next security area would lower. Problem was I didn’t always see where prisoners were defeated. Some were inside doorways that had already closed or behind columns, so I ended up having to backtrack through most of the facility to find them. Even though they are “interactable objects” in the sense that the prompt to tag them comes up within a close radius, they are not the “glowy interactable objectives” which respond to tricorder scans, so attempting to use the tricorder to find them was fruitless. When I played on my Klingon, I just killed them all and that was a much faster and smoother way to do it. Also, choosing lethal or non-lethal protocol seems like one of those “moral choices” that would have been a perfect opportunity to provide an Accolade for each decision, yet there are none.
One of the reward choices for “Facility 4028” is a Jem’Hadar tactical bridge officer. That’s cool and all, but after running around the station and seeing those awesome-looking photonic guards, I think I’d rather have one of those instead! They look like mildly Borg-ified Spartans (the Halo kind) or at least ODST with Starfleet emblems instead of UNSC. Want! But I also want my photonic science officer to “flicker” like these guys do, too. Otherwise he just looks like another human bridge officer.
Wouldn’t that guy be a sweet bridge officer? Boldly seeking out and kicking the ass of new civilizations, just like Master Chief? C’mon!
Posted in MMO, Star Trek Online by Scott Geeding with .