The latest Iconian War episode “Butterfly” rolled out last night, where the Krenim timeship is finally completed and the Alliance takes a stab at using it. If you haven’t played it yet, then SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
“Butterfly” of course refers to the Butterfly Effect, a key concept in Chaos Theory. It is so named by Edward Lorenz for the metaphorical question: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? Referring to the behavior of dynamic systems that are highly sensitive — and dependent — on initial conditions that even a minor change can cause massive changes in the outcome. When it comes to mucking with the timeline, this is certainly applicable.
I can’t even begin to imagine how you would run simulations on something like that, as the possible outcomes are literally endless. The episode goes through three such possibilities on the Holodeck:
- The first simulation shows the Dominion War is still going on in 2410, where the death toll is staggering. Intriguing but definitely not a great vacation spot.
- The second simulation shows that the Delta Alliance fails to form, presumably because there’s no Iconian influence to catapult the Vaadwaur into a major threat in the Delta Quadrant, which in turn removes any rallying point for the Delta species to band together. To be honest, this one didn’t seem so bad.
- The third simulation shows a timeline where Romulus is not destroyed. And one where the Separatist movement led by D’Tan is still blooming, hinting that a breakaway Romulan Republic is still a viable outcome.
Now I have to admit, that last one was a bit of a WHOA moment for me: what if this works? That is quite literally a GAME-CHANGER for Star Trek Online. It implies a full Romulan faction. Complete overhaul of many of the episodes and storylines. Surely Cryptic isn’t prepared to go back and make such sweeping changes to the game, right? Of course not, but for a few minutes I had to sit up and pay attention.
Then we’re off to rewrite history. Yes, we got Romulus back… not the one we all hope to see, but one that is completely assimilated by the Borg. Chilling, and it’s nice to be reminded that the Borg continues to be a primary galactic threat.
Of course we have to fix this: we get into a couple of obligatory space and ground battles to retrieve Borg records of this new timeline, so we know how to revert things. Except… something changed. The Tuterians are no more — honestly I don’t know what that means and how that is significant, and it sounds like the research team doesn’t either. They’ll need to delve into the shielded datacore and do more research, which hopefully will lead to revelations in the next feature episode.
This episode is a fun ride, and it feels very much like a TV episode exploring an alternate reality. There’s more here to think and contemplate about than the normal pew-pew, which is quite refreshing. At the end of the day though this episode doesn’t feel like it pushes the war story ahead, instead focusing on a side-story which is still very much in the spirit of Star Trek TV shows.
Just for fun, let’s talk a little bit about the rewards. This is a new set called Krenim Temporal Manipulation, with a new warp core, an antichroniton tetryon turret or omindirectional beam and a science console. None of my toons use tetryon energy, so the weapon is pointless for me. But this science core…. wow, Heidy drools for this! Since she runs Auxiliary Power at maximum at all times, this console really benefits her. Since my original post, I have further tweaked the USS Inquest (which now sports a gravimetric torpedo launcher along with the accompanying protonic console), so console slots are quickly becoming a rare commodity. I had to switch out the last Elite Fleet-grade Neutronium Alloy console to make room for this new Krenim one; the Inquest is getting more and more fragile, but its exotic damage output and shield rating are going up.
The really odd thing is that after slotting in the new Krenim console, I noticed what I think is a glitch: The Inquest’s crit chance went up to 71%! I know this isn’t possible, so I removed the console to check but the crit chance only came down to 69%. Like I said, I’m sure it’s a glitch but I should test it out and see if I’m actually scoring critical hits that often, or if it’s just a wrong number being displayed in the stats.