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Recap: Star Trek Online - Foundry - “Bait and Switch”

As this is a Recap page, expect spoilers.

"Bait and Switch" is a Star Trek Online Foundry mission series by StarSwordC. The first chapter went live on September 29, 2013 and is playable by Federation characters of any level. StarSword is also writing a novelization, Bait and Switch, starring his Fed toon Kanril Eleya, published in chapter form on the STO forums and Fanfiction.net. A trailer for part one, made by aleniskendra from the STO forums, can be viewed here.

"Bait and Switch" uses an atypical style that fuses the typical STO mission with prose character dialogs, something like a Visual Novel.

Synopsis:

Things are getting worse in Beta Ursae Sector Block so Admiral Marconi sends a request to Starfleet Command for additional patrol ships. Command sends the Player Character. On their first patrol, they blow up some Jem'Hadar and rescue a freighter, but then Marconi pulls them off their route to investigate a garbled message from the Bajoran colony world Dreon VII. They find that the Orion Syndicate has attacked the colony and multiple other lightly-defended planets across the sector, killing or kidnapping almost a hundred of the inhabitants in this case.

Starfleet Command dispatches the Marduk Carrier Battle Group under Admiral Amnell Kree to respond and try and track down the kidnapped civilians from all across the sector, and reassigns the Player Character to Kree's command. With the help of a Section 31 operative with an inside source, the battle group quickly locates an Orion base in the Badlands and launches an assault. They destroy a large fleet of Orion warships and board the station, but unfortunately most of the 10,000+ kidnappees had already been transshipped. The mission ends with Kree telling the Player Character they'll call them back when they learn something useful.

Tropes:

  • Ace Pilot: Admiral Amnell Kree, though it's an Informed Ability since she commands a battle group now. She flew a Peregrine-class attack fighter in the Dominion War and scored nineteen confirmed kills, including a Cardassian capital ship at Third Deep Space 9 (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels").
  • Brick Joke: The first time you board the USS Marduk in an acting ensign has done something involving green clouds and a plasma plume in Main Engineering, the chief engineer is standing there yelling at him, and a Klingon ensign on the balcony above is pointing-and-laughing. All three characters return in the epilogue, with the chief engineer complaining to Captain Bronok Zell about the ensign, the acting ensign standing there looking sad, and the Klingon pointing-and-laughing again.
  • Buffy Speak:
    Player Character: Do you know where the rho-vertion emitter is?
    PO1. Theel: You mean that weird purple glowing thing that's keeping you from beaming everyone out?
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The "Random" button is very good at making very individualized extras. There are some repeats due to a shortage of costume slots, but not many. Judicious use of stock NPCs also helps.
  • Cool Starship: The USS Marduk, an experimental pocket carrier variant on the Prometheus-class that lacks the Multi-Vector Assault Mode. Admiral Kree's dossier describes it as the "Marduk-class Fast Attack Carrier".
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The mission start dialog mentions that your orders come from Admiral Nadifa La Forge. This is Geordi La Forge's niece, who turned up in the TNG novel Losing the Peace set in 2381.
    • A Fleet Admiral Riker is mentioned in passing by Admiral Marconi. This is indeed Will Riker, formerly first officer of the Enterprise-D and -E and then captain of the USS Titan.
    • Some of the names of ships that may spawn in the Marduk Carrier Battle Group. See also Shout-Out, below, and note that most of these will only show up if more than one Player Character is playing the mission.
      • USS Shran, as in Thy'lek Shran, an Andorian military officer from Star Trek: Enterprise.
      • USS Entente refers to a ship that was mentioned in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The Star Fleet Technical Manual explains it to have been a Federation-class dreadnought.
      • USS Natasha Yar refers the Enterprise-D's first tactical officer.
      • USS Yamato was a Galaxy-class that turned up or was mentioned in a few episodes of seasons 1 and 2 of TNG, and was destroyed in "Contagion".
      • USS Wolf 359 should be self-explanatory. USS Hanson = J.P. Hanson, a Starfleet admiral who was killed at Wolf 359.
      • USS Tora Ziyal refers to Gul Dukat's half-Bajoran daughter, who was shot in DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels" for betraying the Cardassians and allowing the Federation and Klingons to retake Deep Space 9.
      • USS Laporin refers to Captain Laporin, a Benzenite who was one of Benjamin Sisko's Academy classmates, and was killed by the Klingons during the Klingon-Federation War in 2372-73 (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising").
    • Captain Bronok Zell, Admiral Kree's flag captain, refers to TNG: "Journey's End" from the perspective of Cardassian colonists who had the opposite problem from the Maquis. He's Cardassian, from a planet that ended up in the Federation when the borders were redrawn.
      Zell: Goes without saying, we got the better deal there.
    • During the epilogue Admiral Kree obliquely refers to a raid on the Utopia Planitia shipyards "earlier this year." This happens in an early mission of the KDF campaign, "Second Star to the Right, Straight on 'til Morning".
  • Creator Cameo: Sort of. The Dungeon Master, a character who appears in the end-of-mission "Thanks for playing!" message, is a facsimile of StarSword's Fed toon Vice Admiral Kanril Eleya, the protagonist of the novelization.
  • Creator In-Joke: Admiral Marconi mentions that along with your ship, Starfleet Command also sent him the USS Kagoshima and USS John Paul Jones. StarSword used those names on two of his previous ships in STO.
  • Cryptic Background Reference:
    • During the mission briefing Kree makes reference to a starship called the USS Mjolnir that worked with the Maquis. If queried, she speaks of a Saber-class under a Captain T'Chon that defected to the Maquis before the Dominion War. T'Chon apparently considered the terms of the Federation-Cardassian Treaty illogical and decided Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right. The crew remain listed as missing and presumed dead.
    • While delivering the Take That mentioned below Kree takes the name of something or someone called "Chentara" in vain.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The Player Character, assuming certain dialog options are chosen.
      Captain Jerek: What happened to the Orions?
      Player Character: I did.
    • Petty Officer, First Class Mera Theel, a female Orion noncom from Starfleet Intelligence. The first time you meet her she's undercover as an Orion matron and wearing an Orion-typical Stripperiffic outfit, but reveals herself when you burst in guns blazing.
      Player Character: Prove it! Show some ID!
      Theel: I left it in my other pants. Seriously, where can I possibly hide a credential in this ridiculous outfit?
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Certain dialog trees give different responses based on minor interactions. For example, two separate encounters with a Bajoran hostage and his Romulan expat wife respectively turn off the "I haven't seen him/her" and turn on the "We've found him/her".
  • Disposable Pilot: The shuttle you use to board the Orion space station in the Badlands gets redshirted by their fighters right after dropping you off, before it can even disconnect from the station.
  • Easter Egg: Captain Zell mentions offhand that he has to go deal with something in Engineering, and that this "idiot acting ensign"note  keeps wrecking things with his science projects. Guess what you find if you take a walk around the ship instead of going straight to the briefing.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: A few characters' backstories are expounded upon in dossiers available on two different consoles the first time you visit the Marduk.
  • Frontline General: Admiral Amnell Kree, the commanding officer of the Marduk Carrier Battle Group.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The in-game version of the USS Marduk doesn't actually have a fighter bay or Prometheus-class powers due to really being a reskinned battleship mob. Enforced due to Foundry limitations.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Admiral Kree is designed to be older (graying hair) and battle-scarred, but still attractive.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Three alien characters are given to intermixing words and phrases from their native tongues with English dialogue.
  • Hacking Minigame: To unlock the Orions' transwarp conduit, and lampshaded to hell and gone by your chief engineer, who can't believe they're using trivia questions instead of something like an encryption key dongle.
  • Humans Are White: Not even the aliens are consistently white. You've got several Bajorans in varying shades of brown, with Varus Jolin at the black guy end. There's also a number of different Marduk crewmen of various shades, including the black Acting Ensign Mark Alston. Finally your ship's conn officer is Korean.
  • I Did What I Had to Do/Realpolitik: Section 31 has involved itself in working to stymie Gaila Hyrax's power grab because maintaining the status quo is more beneficial to the Federation: Hyrax is a fanatic, whereas the Orion Syndicate's current head, Melani D'ian, is, in Agent Grell's words, "relatively malleable if you keep your wits about you and your pheromone masker turned way up."
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Varus Saeihr was six months pregnant when the Orions kidnapped her from Burinac Colony. The PC rescues her and the medical team gives her a clean bill of health.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: An unnamed Orion mook who managed to hit a guy's phaser pistol with his disruptor and fried it completely.
  • Interspecies Romance: The Varuses, Jolin and Saeihr. The former is a Bajoran male, the latter a Romulan female who is six months pregnant.
  • Military Brat: According to her dossier Admiral Kree's father is a retired Starfleet science officer.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: According to Admiral Kree's dossier her symbiont's previous host, Edrin Kree, was a historical fiction writer and military historian.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The author has gone on record on the STO forums that he likes the way Mass Effect handled the Planet of Hats trope: a stereotype rather than actual truth.
    • Grell is a spy instead of a businessman, though he does quote one of the Rules of Acquisition once.
    • Mera Theel hates the Stripperiffic clothes she has to wear while undercover because they're uncomfortable and impractical (there's nowhere to put a concealed weapon, for starters). Her Starfleet uniform, while probably still qualifying for Custom Uniform of Sexy, is much more practical.
    • Varus Saeihr, a Romulan who is a naturalized Federation citizen, and an accountant instead of a sneaky bastard.
    • Bronok Zell, a Cardassian who, far from being a Space Nazi, is a Starfleet captain.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: At one point Varus Jolin is described as saying "something that your universal translator refuses to elaborate on." On the same map, an Orion tells you to do something that is anatomically impossible, and "even if it wasn't it would be against regulations."
  • Nepotism: Strongly implied. Captain Zell thinks he got saddled with Acting Ensign Mark Alston because "he's some ambassador's kid or something." Alston's personnel file confirms that he's the son of the ambassador to the Klaestrons, but is mum on how he got the appointment.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Several characters call the Orions "greenskins" or "greenies".
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently while you were boarding the space station in the Badlands, the crew back on your ship did a "little maneuver" that saved the USS Ivanova.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The Bajoran Militia characters used to wear kitbashed Starfleet uniforms simulating Bajoran Militia uniforms because the actual Bajoran Militia uniform wasn't available in the Foundry. They were added to the uniform selectors in the 08/14/14 STO patch, and StarSword promptly replaced the kitbashes.
  • Oh My Gods!:
    • Captain Jerek refers to the Orions attacking Dreon VII as "sons of Pah-wraiths".
    • Amnell Kree wonders what in the name of Chentara that psychotic imbecile Janeway is teaching cadets at the Academy these days.
  • The Only One: Double Subverted. The Player Character is not the only captain available to respond to the distress signal from Dreon VII. Instead, you're just closer than the Jadzia Dax and Amaterasu and arrive fifteen minutes before them.
  • Only the Knowledgable May Pass: The Hacking Minigame questions are taken from Star Trek Online lore from The Path to 2409. Used with heavy Lampshade Hanging from your chief engineer:
    "They're using a series of history questions you could solve with a common search engine instead of any actual encryption method that would actually stand up to scrutiny, like a transmitted randomly generated encryption key."
  • Operation Blank: The offensive against the Orion Syndicate is codenamed Operation Blue Friday. Lampshaded in a dialog option:
    Admiral Kree: Any questions before I move on?
    Player Character: Permission to speak frankly, ma'am?
    Kree: Go ahead.
    Player Character: Who in the world names these things? I mean, seriously, "Blue Friday"?
    Kree: Random number generator. Any other questions?
  • Orwellian Retcon: Various patches tweaking and changing details to fix bugs, and at one point StarSword removed an entire map that really had only one thing to do on it.
  • Pardon My Klingon: A Bajoran medical officer aboard the Marduk calls a guy who tried to catch a baseball with his face a "stupid krish," while Agent Grell calls Gaila Hyrax "a skritz-jeb fanatic." Later, Varus Jolin says something in his native tongue that the universal translator refuses to interpret.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Like with all joined Trill, Kree zigzags this. The host is 69 and looks relatively old, but the symbiont had at least one host before her.
  • Rugged Scar:
    • Admiral Kree has very heavy scarring across her left eye, implied by her in-game dossier to be the result of injuries sustained at the Battle of Cardassia at the end of the Dominion War. They serve more to mark her as a Frontline General, however.
    • The scar on Grell's left forehead is left unexplained.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The 38-minute travel time to Dreon VII from the Malon System is a reference to how long a stargate can stay open.
    • The names of some of the ships that can spawn in the Marduk Carrier Battle Group. See also Call Back, above, and note that most of these will only show up if more than one Player Character is playing the mission.
      • USS Ivanova = Commander Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5.
      • USS Anderson and USS Shepard = Admiral David Anderson and Commander Shepard from Mass Effect. The fact that there's also a USS Shepard (named for Alan Shepard of Apollo 14) in 23rd century Trek is a nice bonus.
      • USS Fearless = HMS Fearless, Commander Honor Harrington's light cruiser in On Basilisk Station. USS Madrigal = HMS Madrigal, an RMN destroyer that had a Heroic Sacrifice in The Honor of the Queen.
      • USS Alexander Koenig refers to Admiral Alexander Koenig from the Star Carrier series.
      • USS Maiar refers to the Tolkien's Legendarium equivalent of angels, what everyone else calls wizards.
      • USS Emancipator refers to the ISD Emancipator, a New Republic-affiliated Imperial-class star destroyer from the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
      • USS O'Neill = Jack O'Neill from the Stargate Verse.
      • USS Berganitan refers to a Confederation Navy starship from the Confederation of Valor series.
    • Captain Zell mentions that his previous command was the USS Kyle Brennan. Brennan's the Player Character of X: Beyond the Frontier.
    • You find a wrecked Federation ship from the Dominion War in the Oort Cloud of the Ultima Thule System. Your sensor officer says there's no survivors, "just ... dust and echoes." This refers to one of Cortana's final lines in Halo: Combat Evolved.
    • A science officer aboard the Marduk says some technobabble involving flux capacitors.
    • Petty Officer Theel's code phrase, "Those Klingons are dancing in the parlor again," is a reference to a Manchurian Agent trigger phrase from X-Wing: Solo Command.
    • The Narrative Profanity Filter entry with the Orion telling you to do something that is anatomically impossible and against regulations is a reference to very vaguely described Slaaneshi tapestry in Ciaphas Cain: The Traitor's Hand.
  • Shown Their Work: Travel time for a warp 6 microjump of 9.4 astronomical units during the patrol in the Malon System is mentioned to be 20 seconds. Minus a few seconds on the starting end for maneuvering this is carefully consistent with the warp speed equation given in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual.
  • Sound Effect Bleep:
    Tactical Officer: (over the radio) Skipper, don't worry about us; deal with your own—HA! GOT YOU, YOU UGLY SON OF A—
    Narration: A burst of static washes out whatever your officer was going to say.
  • Space Is an Ocean: This is Star Trek, after all. There's a reference in the narration to "eight bells", an old, old method of marking time aboard ships at sea that means the end of a four-hour period. Certain NPCs on your ship are also given to calling you "Skipper," a familiar form of address to a ship's captain. In a modernized version, the USS Marduk's bridge is referred to as a "combat information center".
  • Starship Luxurious: Zigzagged with the USS Marduk interior maps. Deck 6, the location of the conference room, is on the Engineering deck and uses the interior map from a Defiant-class. The corridors and rooms are cozy at best and quite cramped at worst. The CIC, however, uses an Odyssey-class bridge map and is enormous.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Your science officer wants to use a technobabbly solution to the tech that the Orions are using to block you from beaming onto their space station. Admiral Kree tells you to use your shuttles instead.
    Science Officer: But I had such a good plan!
    Player Character: Maybe next time, Science.
  • Stripperiffic: Orion women, as usual. Lampshaded by Petty Officer Theel after you ask her to show ID (see Deadpan Snarker above).
  • Take That: During the attack on the Orion base Admiral Kree delivers a pointed one at the Star Trek writers' habit of forgetting that Starfleet capital ships have shuttles and acting like "no transporters" = "trapped". She also calls Janeway a psychotic imbecile.
  • Technobabble:
    • Captain Zell recounts the following anecdote. StarSword got help from another Foundry writer for this one.
      "Oh, you wouldn't believe the crazy things I've seen captains do with a Luna-class. I once saw one take out a squadron of Romulan warbirds by creating a subspace inversion field and then detonating a charged particle burst. Least, that was what my science officer said she did. All I saw was, one second there's three warbirds on an intercept course, then there's this seizure-inducing flash and there's three loose drive singularities where they used to be."
    • Then there's this one during the Ultima Thule stage:
      Science Officer: I have an idea. We should be able to scramble their sensors and communications pretty thoroughly with an anti-dekyon resonance pulse from the main deflector dish. It'll do a pretty good number on ours, too, mind, but it'll wear off in a couple minutes.
      Dialog option: If that makes sense to you, Science, that's good enough for me.
    • Also a mention of Reverse Polarity later on, though that one is defied by way of Cutting the Knot, above.
  • Teleporter Accident: Discussed. Thanks to the Orions using technobabble to jam your transporter targeting sensors, MCOS. Wiggin says that this would be a likely outcome if you were to try to beam over anyway.
    Wiggin: If you were to override and try to beam over, I have no idea where you'd end up. Even odds you'd materialize inside a wall or miss the station entirely.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Petty Officer Theel, an Orion woman who works for Starfleet Intelligence instead of the Syndicate.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes:
    Agent Grell: We've been tracking the matron running this part of the Orion Syndicate, Gaila Hyrax, for almost two years now. Erm, that's two Ferengi years; that'd be around three-and-a-half standard.
  • The Worf Effect: To drive home how much trouble there is in Beta Ursae right now, the USS Defiant is described early on as having been thoroughly thrashed, though repairable, by a rogue Cardassian legate playing warlord.

    Recap/Star Trek OnlineStar Trek Online - Foundry - “Divide ut Regnes”
Rockman No ExileTroper WorksStar Trek Online - Foundry - “Honor of _” Series

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