Log copied from First Jalot’iklar’s ship log (encrypted and sent to “F.D.”):
I am troubled by what we found on Karemma. Worse, I am bothered by what it implies.
It was a routine mission at the Dosi system that began these events, but it led to….
I cannot say it. I can barely think it. We have been betrayed…but I cannot decide who the betrayer is. The gods are in conflict. But the gods cannot be wrong. So how can there even be conflict? Dukan’Rex is of the belief that we must begin to question everything. Has he gone mad? Or is he seeing more clearly than I can?
I do not know. All I do know is that the Dominion remains in danger. The Hur’q remain a danger, no matter the conflicts between gods. My duty remains the same. Serve the Founders. Serve the Dominion. If I remain true to my duty, that should be enough.
It must be enough.
Appended notes from Commander Two of Five:
Sir. Given what we now know, I feel that we must treat the Dominion as hostile. The Vanguard Jem’Hadar may prove to be a useful wedge, however, and I urge that you allow me to remain at my post. I feel that it is in our best interests to avoid open conflict until Starfleet Command is notified of the situation-particularly since I believe that Command has yet to be apprised of the truth of the situation. It is important that we remain vigilant and look for openings that may be exploited.
As always, if you believe I should pull out, I am ready to do so at any time. If you believe I should take action, I am likewise prepared. I will continue observing, and will await further orders.
Agent Two, out.
Response to Commander Two of Five from “F.D.”:
Your orders are unchanged. Continue your observations.
Well, take what you know about the story in the “Victory is Life” expansion for Star Trek Online, and prepare for a story of betrayals. “The Search” is an interestingly titled episode, because it shares the same name as an original Deep Space Nine episode. That episode, amusingly, also covered a journey into Dominion territory, and included a surprise from the Founders (in that case, who they really were). Perhaps you can draw some conclusions on that.
This episode could almost be an episode of DS9 by itself, given the number of show alumni with significant speaking roles here. By my count, we have no less than five characters from the show with face time in this episode (and speaking parts, to be more specific). Your character is almost an afterthought, which bothers me a little. One of the big dangers of including so many characters from the previous shows is that they can take away the spotlight from where it should be-on the player character. This isn’t to say that the NPCs have to be incompetent and all, but one would like it if the player captains had a bit more of a role than saying “agreed” so often.
Let’s get into the spoilery nuts and bolts after the image.
You know this episode is going to get interesting fast when you get a distress call from Quark, one of the more infamous Ferengi in the galaxy. But it really kicks into gear when you discover that he’s behind the lines of a Dominion fleet-which, as Garak says, is interesting since Odo said that there were no other fleets left in the Dominion. The explanation from the fleet leader feels kind of forced-and it comes from another Founder, who (while not explicitly said, is surely implied hard) is the Founder who led the Dominion War and was freed a while back during the 2800 arc. (I haven’t gone back to see what’s been retrofitted into previous arcs; comments by Weyoun for my Starfleet captain implies a previous meeting that never happened. The 2800 arc seems like the logical place for it. If so, RIP Eraun….)
The events of the mission sure put Jem’Hadar captains in a real pickle, because unlike the days of the Dominion War, when it was easy to avoid Odo as he was a constable on DS9 and not involved in the wider conflict, he’s now a major mover-and-shaker in the Great Link, and the ambassador to the Alliance. In other words, both sides are in a position of authority over the Jem’Hadar, which could bode ill for the Jem’Hadar characters. What will happen if gods go to war? Given the actions of the Dominion fleet over Karemma, one has to suspect that could be on the way. This could begin the splintering of the Dominion itself; the refugees on DS9 may be the lucky ones.
Of course, things get more complicated when a number of deceptions begin to get revealed all at once. This may not bother the Jem’Hadar captains, but it sure complicates things for Starfleet, Romulan, and Klingon captains. That might cause more problems down the road-who do you trust? (Hm, that sort of theme always seems to come up when shapeshifters are involved, and the Founders have always been better at that sort of thing than, say, the Undine.)
As I mentioned above, there were a lot of moments which felt like the player captain was sort of a passenger in conversations, both in dialogue and-worse still-in the cut scenes. The big scene that involves that box above had absolutely no input from your captain other than standing there while others talked. I could almost see that from the Jem’Hadar, but I can’t see it from the other faction captains. Hence, my comments about being overshadowed. What I can’t argue with, though, are the twists and turns of the story itself, and the action parts of the mission are fairly satisfying. Additionally, the Karemma individuals you interact with are sort of entertaining in a criminal sort of way.
The conclusion of this mission puts us at the halfway point in the “Victory is Life” missions, and it’s hard to argue that this one’s a big turning point-less for the Hur’q and more for the Dominion itself. Where does it go from here? Well, as they say, stay tuned. More secrets are waiting to be revealed.