A Relic’s Return

Author: Armsman
Mission Code: ST-HRGENW9BK
Date Played: April 3, 2011
Length: 20-40 minutes

Author Description:
Kintara Prime, a newly discovered UFP applicant world that mines and supplies dilithium for the Federation war effort, has requested diplomatic assistance. The Orion Syndicate have taken a 150 year old relic of great cultural significance, and the Kintarans want it returned.


Right now, A Relic’s Return has only two reviews on Holodeck. This is a crying shame, because Armsman delivers what few STO missions can: an excellent mix of combat and dialogue, all wrapped around a classic Star Trek-esque enigma.

The Federation-Klingon war serves as the backdrop for A Relic’s Return, and the exigencies of that conflict affect every aspect of this mission. Kintara Prime is a recently discovered planet interested in joining the United Federation of Planets, and to the benefit of the Federation, it happens to possess vast quantities of dilithium. Unfortunately, a valuable Kintaran artifact has been stolen by the Orion Syndicate, and my captain has been asked to help return it.

Thanks to the quality briefing Armsman uses to open the mission, I was quickly impressed with the three-way conflict evolving in the Kintara system — there is the Federation, interested in securing the Kintaran’s goodwill (and dilithium); the Orion Syndicate, who has “negotiated” the rights to said dilithium, and has stolen the titular relic to ensure Kintaran compliance; and the Kintarans, whose motivations grow murkier as the mission continues.

Traveling to Kintara Prime required I fight off several groups of marauding Orions, but the conflict flowed naturally and presented a chance to characterize our Orion antagonists. I was initially concerned about where I needed to go — despite explicit instructions to “head north” on the space map, I would have appreciated a clearer use of objective circles. Not only would it have been more subtle, but my fears of getting lost in the Briar Patch would have been eased.

The mission’s well-written dialogue relates an extremely interesting story with several twists. The mysteries surrounding the Kintaran’s relic hooked me on a way that few other STO missions have. I want to say more, but it’s best I that preserve the surprise and let you all play it on your own. Suffice to say, the story favorable reminds me of many a good Star Trek episode, with a dash of Homeworld thrown in for good measure.

The worst thing I can say about A Relic’s Return is that its pacing is very similar to STO‘s first Feature Episode, Cold Call. This is by no means a bad thing — Cold Call is an excellent, Trek-like experience — just an observation. The story is told sufficiently different that I didn’t feel like I was playing a carbon copy, but the intrigue and negotiations were superficially similar. (To put this criticism in perspective — I’m currently crafting a mission that draws inspiration from TNG‘s “The Wounded.”)

Ironically enough, my largest qualm with A Relic’s Return is that I wish it ended more like a Feature Episode. Having discerned the Orion Syndicates base of operations, my ship set a course out of the Briar Patch — only to blunder into a Klingon taskforce sneaking into Federation space, en route to support the attack on Starbase 24. This was an excellent coda to the mission, and a nice reminder that the Federation-Klingon war can affect any starship at any time.

But immediately after the battle finished, a note from the author popped up, stating that the mission was still a work-in-progress and would be finished later. There’s definitely enough content in A Relic’s Return to justify concluding the mission, and rather than such an abrupt, immersion-breaking ending, I would have preferred a graceful sign-off that none-the-less promised future adventures — perhaps a hail from Starfleet admitting it would take longer to find the Orion base than originally thought, or that the detection of this covert fleet meant that the recovery of the Kintaran’s relic would have to temporarily wait. As it stands, at some point in the future, I’ll have to play through a mission’s worth of repeat material to get to the new content — not a fun prospect, even for such a well written mission.

All said, “A Relic’s Return” took roughly a half hour to finish. There were several space engagements, sprinkled with exposition-providing dialogue, followed by limited ground-based diplomacy. An analysis of the Orion wrecks my ship had generated previously, and the aforementioned Klingon battlefleet, brought the mission to a close. Nothing ever felt like a chore, in part because of well-timed, relevant communications from my bridge officers.