So let me get this straight: Besides the prisoners, I'm the only biological being here?
Players pick up this week's episode and are immediately informed that Eraun, the Vorta who so kindly followed you back from the Gamma Quadrant in the previous episode (Operation Gamma), has spoken with Starfleet authorities, and an agreement has been reached. The current incarnation of The Dominion will assist Starfleet in removing the Jem'Hadar holding Deep Space Nine in return for the release of the Female Changeling. She has been held in prison since the end of the Dominion War over 30 years before and is considered to be a deity by both Jem'Hadar and Vorta.
It's the player's job to escort Eraun to the prison where the Changeling is being held, ensure her safe release, and return her to Deep Space Nine so she can persuade the errant fleet to depart.
Upon reaching Facility 4028, the player is greeted by Eraun's ship. Putting him off briefly, the player hails the facility's Warden, who seems surprised at her arrival as well as Starfleet's permitting Eraun to speak with the Changeling. It doesn't take long to deduce that the Warden is a photonic being, as his holographic projection flitters briefly on the communications screen.
The player is invited to beam down to discuss the situation before Eraun is allowed into the facility. Thinking this is a wise precaution, my Admiral tells Eraun to chill for a bit, and she beams down with a single bridge officer in tow as an escort.
Upon the player's arrival on the transport pad, it becomes clear that she may very well be the only biological non-prisoner. (This, of course, depends on the race of the player's attending Bridge Officer.) All of the prison guards are photonic.
After winding her way around a very meticulously and accurately created prison map, right down to the painted lines on the floor (I know this because I used to be a jailor), the player finds the Warden.
Not surprisingly, he goes by the name Warden because really, he has no name. Oddly, he seems to think the player is a Starfleet representative he had asked to consult with a different prisoner. Still a bit surprised that his most famous prisoner is due to be released, he explains that he needs to contact headquarters to confirm the situation. Yet before he moves to contact HQ, he asks the player if she doesn't mind visiting the other prisoner. Stymied, my Admiral agrees if only to get things moving along.
A few more corridors later, she is looking face-to-face with Amar Singh, whom my character had arrested much earlier in the game for his illegal attempts to use genetic manipulation to build a super-race of Gorn. He's surprised by her visit as much as she's surprised to see him. Yet it all seems pretty fruitless as he's as remorseless as ever and is begging to have access to lab equipment so he can continue his genetic experimentation. To say the least, my Admiral tells him that she doesn't have the authority to help him and turns away to talk to the Warden once more.
Can we go now?
Eager to get the Changeling on her ship, my Admiral gets the directive to allow Eraun to beam down, and he follows both Starfleet officers down the long corridors. Once into the secondary holding area, the player is not surprised to be scanned by a friendly tactical exocomp.
I was tickled by this tiny little detail! I think I had my player stand there for two or three minutes, and I grinned wildly every time the exocomp came to verify my Admiral's identity. I just wanted to give a tip of the hat to the developers on this incredible environment. From the extending walkways and the exocomps to the photonic guards, watch-rooms, and especially the audible overhead announcements, the map felt
like a prison. I knew having an all-photonic guard regiment was going to be a problem from the moment I read about it, but I brushed away the obvious foreshadowing every time the exocomp scanned someone.
Eventually, I moved my Admiral through the remaining maze, following the red line like a good little soldier to reach the isolation cell where the Changeling has resided for the past 30 years.
You would have thought her link with Odo would have lightened her up.
The Female Changeling is not happy to have a visitor. After reading her history records, my Admiral becomes aware that all attempts at rehabilitation have been fruitless. She also becomes aware that the Changeling cannot be treated medically simply because Starfleet Medical still hasn't been able to grasp Changeling physiology. Feeling like 30 years has been wasted, my Admiral reluctantly lets the bit... uh, I mean the prisoner
out of her cell so Eraun can grovel at her feet.
It wasn't long before the sinking feeling I got at the onset of this mission kicked in. Sure enough, every single photonic officer dissipates and cell doors open. Apparently the guards' systems were also conveniently tied to the transport inhibitors my Admiral hoped were in place, and the group is confronted by none other than the wayward Jam'Hadar himself, Kar'ukan.
But mom, I thought you'd be happy!
Much to Kar'ukan's and my Admiral's surprise, the Female Changeling is none-too-happy with the fact that the wayward fleet is now trying to make up for lost time. She berates the Alpha for his tardiness. She then tells him that he is a failure.
Kar'ukan doesn't take this news very well, and at that moment, probably realizes that his god (who somehow couldn't get herself out of a prison full of photonic guards) may not be a god after all. He commands his lackeys to kill everyone but the Changeling, and even though every reasonable person knows you don't carry weapons into a prison, the player magically has her handy-dandy anti-proton sniper rifle! She kisses it off to a combination of good luck, stupid photonic officers, and an incompetent-but-cute little tactical exocomp who scanned her multiple times and yet still couldn't find any weapons! Who knew the Facility 4028 was run a lot like the TSA?
As I've stated before, I play my characters true to their nature. My main bleeds
Starfleet. She doesn't like to kill, so when she's offered a non-lethal way to put the prisoners back into their cells and get the Founder safely aboard her ship, she took it. I doubt I would ever use the lethal option in this game unless I were playing a Klingon, so I am interested in hearing what the lethal option does.
Eventually my Admiral gets the prisoners back to their cells, has another brief and rather annoying conversation with Amar Singh (it's only at this point my Admiral wishes she had used the lethal option), and beams back aboard only to find a group of Jem'Hadar vessels ready to go all Klingon on their gods.
Surprisingly, the player never really does get to participate in a space battle. The entire ending to the mission is a series of incredible cutscenes.
Starfleet warps in just in time to take the heat from the Jem'Hadar, leaving the player an opportunity to escape with the Changeling and the Vorta back to Deep Space Nine. Many Starfleet sacrifices were made so the player could escape as the cutscenes show fellow ships being decimated by the enemy.
Just when the player is ready for more, she is left hanging, but she's given a set of Jem'Hadar duty officers and her choice of a Jem'Hadar personal shield or a Jem'Hadar tactical officer for her troubles. She is also made aware that the prison is missing two of its other inmates, and while one was known to be taken by the ever-watchful Iconians, the other seems to have disappeared without a trace.
All in all I thought this was a great episode. I played it solo, but fleetmates who teamed up for it stated they felt they were a bit overpowered in the prison battles. I personally did not run into any noticeable bugs. It played smoothly and quickly. It's possible to read a plethora of prisoner bios and talk to prisoners in their cells; however, I chose not to in order to proceed with the mission. Again, my main is a pretty by-the-books kinda girl, so she wouldn't have spoken to prisoners on a whim.
I am very much looking forward to the finale of The 2800 series, which premieres on Saturday, March 10th, at 1:00 p.m. EST! Until then, live long and prosper!
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