I made Lt. Commander last night in Star Trek Online. This is a milestone event. This is the first time you get to pick your new ship, the second specialization you make after creating your character. I was looking forward to leaving the Miranda class light cruiser behind. The Lockheed had served me well for the first phase of my career in Starfleet, but I felt a new ship calling.
Mainly because I didn’t play enough of the beta to make it to the first tier ship selection.
So I did what any Star Trek fan would do if they were going to get a starship. I started to obsess.
I was writing down ship names whenever I had the chance. Would I go with one name, “Whisper?” Or a two name ship, “Silent Resolve?” Would I go serious or funny? For instance, “Furious Diplomat,” a name that initially sounds serious but only continues to get funnier the more I think about it.
I read forums and looked up ship name generators.
I decided I was going to go with a science vessel because I really wanted to be able to target subsystems and science vessels were the only ship that could do that without having dedicated bridge officers with “target subsystem” skills. This way, I could take down shields for my team, or just take out the engines for a quick getaway, or just take out the weapons systems and leave them powerless.
You could say that I was kind of excited.
A couple of days of play had leveled me up to the point where I was a Lt. Grade 10. This was the last rank before new ships were unlocked.
I looked at my XP bar, and it was very close to the end. There was no doubt I was going to make Lt. Commander this session. Curious, I hovered the cursor over the bar.
Seven skill points to make Lt. Commander.
In terms of character progression, seven points is nothing. You gain a skill point for every enemy you defeat and upwards of four or five skill points depending on the level of the enemies you’re fighting.
This was going to be easy.
If I was thinking straight, I would have entered a deep space combat scenario and just helped the Federation with their Gorn problem, but instead I opted to finish an exploration mission. I entered the Arucanis arm and headed straight for the first anomaly the Lockheed’s sensors found. It was just some radiation samples, not a system with a randomly generated mission. No combat.
I headed for another one. This time, an alien artifact. Again, no combat, no skill points.
Finally I found a system with a mission. It was an asteroid belt, that featured an abandoned base. But it was truly abandoned, no Gorn, no Nausicaans, no Klingon occupying force to be found anywhere. Instead, Starfleet requested that I beam down and check to see if the crew of the Lockheed could salvage any research from the computers on the station. This mission would reward skill points after completion.
I only needed seven points, but I had waited this long—what was one more mission? I brought the Lockheed up to full impulse and headed straight for the abandoned research base, ever hopeful that some Gorn would warp in and protest the Federation’s incursion into Gorn space. But it was a long and uneventful trip, even at full impulse. The base was on the exact opposite end of the map.
I beamed down with my away team, and found the first console. There was no research Starfleet was interested in, but they wanted me to check the rest of the station. It was at this point, that I started to wonder if I should just abort the mission and move on. But it was late in the evening, and I was already in mission, so I stuck with it.
I wandered the empty corridors when the crew of the Lockheed contacted me via communicator. Orion ships had been detected on long range sensors and were approaching the asteroid base. Combat was imminent, I thought. Surely, any second, I would beam back to the Lockheed and take on the Orions ship to ship.
I could taste the seven points.
But then my crew said they had everything handled and I was left scavenging holographic storage chips about the mineral makeup of the asteroid. Before they signed off though, they did note that they detected Orion transporter signatures, so I should be careful.
I had hope yet. It wasn’t long before we ran into an Orion away team. I set up a shield generator and a phaser turret and told the away team to hold their ground. While the shield generator was on, the away team’s shields were constantly being replenished. The battle was never a question of who would win, merely a question of how long it would take my away team to come out victorious.
A few minutes later I was surprised to find that I had not, in fact, made Lt. Commander. I thought that perhaps I had missed a notification message in the fracas. The air was filled with phaser and distruptor beams, it’s not unlikely that I had missed something.
I checked my character profile. I was still a Lieutenant. Still Grade 10. I hovered over the XP bar again.
One point stood between me and ranking to Lt. Commander.
The Orion away team was a six member squad, and I had gained exactly one point for every Orion.
I sighed. It was a long, resigned exhalation of breath. It was the exhalation a person makes when they have decided to burn everything. I ran the away team through the deserted halls, searching for another Orion away team. Through room after room. Nothing.
Finally, nearing the end of the map, Orions showed on the minimap. I ran straight for them and engaged them in battle. I didn’t even bother setting up a shield generator or a phaser turret. In fact, some of my away team were still stuck in another room, their pathfinding algorithms locked in a never ending slow motion run on the doorway of the previous room.
I selected the first Orion I could target and then activated sniper shot. My phaser bolt hit true, and then—
—My screen froze. And I nearly yelled, save for the fact that shortly afterward, the display corrupted. And then, I actually yelled. It was something incoherent, something to the effect of, “gwaaugh?!” Followed shortly by an incredulous sounding, but no more coherent, “whauh?” My brain had blue screened.
The Star Trek Online client had crashed.
It had crashed hard. I sat there and looked at the screen. My palms instantly struck both sides of my forehead in utter disbelief. I stared at the screen for at least ten seconds. This was a betrayal. One of the highest order. There is a tier in Dante’s hell specifically for this. I sat there for another ten seconds, listening to the sounds of phasers firing and computer warnings about enemy combatants being in close proximity.
Then it hit me. I was so awestruck at the irony of the moment that I did not notice.
I hit the one key to fire my phaser bolt rifle, and I heard the telltale sound of a phaser firing.
The client was still running.
It was still running. Even though the display had crashed, it was receiving keyboard input and acting on it. Desperate, I hit my keybinds for “target nearest” and “all allies attack my target.”
Then I fired that phaser bolt rifle for all it was worth. Just for good measure, every now and again, I hit the two key.
This went on for an excruciating two minutes. Without any visual indicators, I must have selected the strongest enemy combatant, probably an Orion Matron or a fully shielded Brute. My team had no shield generator in place and my science officer was shield damage focused—not a doctor. With no way to regenerate shields or health, I feared a total wipe.
Then it happened.
There was a triumphant sounding noise amidst the phaser blasts.
“Congratulations Lt. Commander.”
I immediately hit the enter key and typed in, “/quit” quickly logging me out of the server and quitting the client. The noises of battle stopped. It was silent. I rubbed my face with my hands. Regardless of what time it was, I was now more than wide awake, and on top of that, I needed a glass of water. My mouth was dry. My hands were jittery.
My desktop never came back. It was a hard display crash. I had to turn off my computer.
I haven’t logged back in since.
Update: I’ve since logged in and I got my science vessel.