Fear was not an appropriate reaction for a Starfleet Captain.
No, that wasnâ€™t right. Fear was absolutely an appropriate reaction. It kept a Captain sharp, focused on the task at hand when lives were at stake. But Captain Mallory Stanford had never, in her entire Starfleet career, felt like she wasnâ€™t ready. Sheâ€™d stood on the bridge of the U.S.S. Boxer and faced down Klingons, the Borg and more, leading her crew through crisis after crisis. Mallory had felt afraid plenty of times. Sheâ€™d never felt unprepared. But the task facing her crew now was, quite literally, unbeatable.
She sat down in her ready room chair. Her first officer, had handed her their new orders, and Mallory had marched in here in a blur the moment she read them. With a reaction like that, the bridge would be buzzing with speculation. The crew probably thought they were being sent to the front lines. The irony is, she would have been ready for that. Instead, she found herself faced with two words she never thought sheâ€™d see again.
Cadet Stanford sank down in the hallway of Starfleet Academy. She had spent nearly forty minutes trying to find any part of this school that wasnâ€™t full of people celebrating. It was the week before graduation, and there seemed to be parties everywhere. Nothing official, but they ranged from friends getting together for a quiet drink to the blaring music coming from the mess hall. This morning, she would have joined them. Now, she couldnâ€™t stop shaking.
It was a stupid test. You were supposed to fail. That was the entire point â€“ their instructors had drilled that into them before they took it. The idea was to test your mettle as a Starfleet Captain, to see how you handle a no-win situation. It wouldnâ€™t determine whether she graduated. Why was she shaking?
No, it wasnâ€™t the test, or that sheâ€™d failed. That wasnâ€™t it. It was the content of the test. The simulations they ran at the Academy focused on diplomacy, exploration, and on combat, but none of them had ended like this. No matter what she did, more enemies appeared. Every order she gave seemed logical, but they all ended in disaster. The crew of the Kobayashi Maru had all died. Her crew had all died. She had died.
It was too much. Maybe she wasnâ€™t cut out for all of this. She took a deep breath, and brushed her curls out of her face. Before she knew what was happening, she was standing and walking again. Her instructors would understand. A last minute transfer from the Command Track to a different program was nothing new, even this close to graduation. All that mattered was that she never experienced anything like this again. She thought she heard a voice calling her name, but she kept walking.
â€œMallory!â€ the voice called again. She looked up. Striding down the hallway towards her was Lâ€™nel, from her astrophysics classes. They had barely ever spoken, but Lâ€™nel had been her helmsman in the test this morning. Her stomach grew cold and clenched up. This was about the test.
â€œI canâ€™t talk right now, Lâ€™nel,â€ she said, â€œIâ€™m heading to-â€œ
â€œIt will not take long.â€ Lâ€™nel said, closing the distance between them. Now that exams were mostly over, cadets were free to be out of uniform until graduation. She was dressed casually, for a Vulcan. Mallory hadnâ€™t even bothered to go back to her room to change, and she realized she must look haggard.
She stopped, and let the other cadet reach her, trying not to show the fear and indecision that made her veins into ice. What she wouldnâ€™t give to have a Vulcan's emotional control right now.
â€œI wanted to thank you,â€ Lâ€™nel said.
â€œThank me?â€ Mallory asked. That was â€“ not what she had expected.
â€œI have been performing the role of Helmsman in the Kobayashi Maru simulation all morning. Your performance was the most exceptional I saw.â€
â€œWhat? Everyone died.â€ Mallory said.
â€œMost of the cadets were under extreme duress at this first taste of failure. Many of them ordered me to do things out of fear that would have cost many more lives in much shorter order. One even ordered me, and I quote, to â€™ram the nearest Klingon cruiser.â€™â€™
Mallory couldnâ€™t help a slight smile at that. Lâ€™nel seemed unamused.
â€œWhile your decisions did not save our virtual lives,â€ Lâ€™nel continued, â€œwe held out longer than could be expected. And you performed admirably under the pressures of command. In addition, I sense that you did so under extreme personal distress at the nature of the test.â€
Ah, there it was, Mallory thought. She looked at the floor. This was the Vulcan version of pity. Lâ€™nel had sensed her emotions and come here to comfort her by lying to her. It was kind, but untrue.
â€œThank you,â€ she said quietly, â€œbut I have to go. Thereâ€™s a lot I have to think about.â€ She turned to walk away.
â€œMallory.â€ Lâ€™nel had a quiet steel in her voice. â€œI am in training to be a shipâ€™s counselor. What you are currently experiencing is known as a panic attack. It is very common in your species. While Vulcans do not experience such things at that level, I do have experience in the loss of control that can come from overwhelming emotion. I have, at least three times during this our years at this school, allowed myself to consider leaving Starfleet Academy as a logical solution.â€
Mallory tried to process this new information. Lâ€™nel had spoken to her before, mostly about class related issues. They had never had a conversation this personal.
â€œHowever, these attacks on us by our own psyches are not logical. They are not real. You performed admirably today, and in a test that was in any way fair, you would have saved many lives. You must decide now if what you experienced today will break you or not, but I assure you, you did not fail. If I had been a member of your crew, I would be honored to continue to serve with you after such a performance.â€
A warmth spread through Mallory, and she felt her stomach muscles finally relax. Lâ€™nel was right, of course. This was a part of her life she would have to deal with, and she alone would decide whether it would control her, or she would control it.
â€œLâ€™nel,â€ Mallory said, turning back with a wry smile, â€œif what happened today was real, youâ€™d be dead.â€
Lâ€™nel arched a brow, and it was the closest Mallory had ever come to seeing her smile. â€œA minor concern. Such things cannot break us.â€
Mallory was less than a minute into her breathing exercises when the door chime to her ready room buzzed.
â€œCome in,â€ she said, putting down the PADD.
She looked up, and smiled warmly as her shipâ€™s counselor entered the room.
â€œLâ€™nel,â€ she said, â€œWhat brings you up here?â€
The Captain gestured to the chair across her desk, and Lâ€™nel sat down. â€œCommander Hojo notified me that you left the bridge rather suddenly. Is anything the matter, Captain?â€
The datapad slid smoothly across Malloryâ€™s desk, and Lâ€™nel took a moment to study it before raising a single eyebrow.
â€œWe are retaking the test?â€ she asked.
â€œNot just us,â€ Mallory leaned back in her chair. â€œThe whole Alliance. Even the Klingons get to take a shot at this.â€
â€œFascinating,â€ Lâ€™nel thumbed through the mission information. â€œDo you think they are all prepared to fail as we did?â€
Mallory laughed. â€œI hope so. How about the crew? Most of them hated the test in school. Do you think theyâ€™ll want another crack at it?â€
â€œThe crew tends to take great pride in beating unbeatable challenges,â€ Lâ€™nel replied. â€œI would not be worried about them.â€ Mallory nodded in agreement.
â€œAnd Captain,â€ the Vulcan counselor leaned forward, setting the data pad aside. â€œAre you all right with this course of action? Are you prepared to face the Kobayashi Maru again?â€
A slow smile spread across the Captainâ€™s lips. â€œOf course,â€ she said, â€œAfter all, such things cannot break us.â€
Star Trek Online
https://www.arcgames.com/en/games/star- ... l/10548964
This is the Kobayashi Maru... nineteen periods out of Altair Six. We have struck a gravitic mine and have lost all power...our hull is penetrated and we have sustained many casualties.
Prepare to face the most infamous Starfleet test! The Kobayashi Maru, the â€œoriginal no-win scenario,â€ comes to Star Trek Online as a limited-time challenge for your captains. How long can you hold out against ambushing enemy ships? Can you keep the Kobayashi Maru intact while facing down waves of hostile attackers and space hazards? What would Kirk do?
The Kobayashi Maru event will come in two forms: timed and untimed. In each case, you will fight to keep the freighter intact while destroying successive rounds of enemies who will become more and more dangerous as the simulation continues. The longer you last, the greater your rewards! Once everyone on your team is defeated at the same time â€“ or when the timer runs out, if youâ€™re playing the timed version â€“ the mission ends. The mission also ends if the Kobayashi Maru is destroyed.
Participating in the Kobayashi Maru event will give you a choice of marks, and if you survive for a significant amount of time youâ€™ll also earn bonus dilithium ore. Playing the Kobayashi Maru for at least three days out of the eventâ€™s duration will also unlock special limited-time rewards for you: the Prolonged Engagement Phaser Beam Array and Prolonged Engagement Phaser Dual Cannons, which are both energy weapons that become stronger the longer that your ship is in combat.
The Kobayashi Maru event will run on PC starting on June 29 at 9 AM PST through July 3 at 9 AM PST. The queue is available to all captains of level 50+.
Staff Game Designer