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The Battle of Betazed

by Daniel Matteson, Writing Team Manager

2nd November 2020

"We just received a priority one communication from Starfleet Command. The Dominion has invaded Betazed." --Kira Nerys

"In the Pale Moonlight" is arguably one of the greatest hours in Star Trek history, and certainly a top episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. As you're probably aware, the episode, as narrated by Captain Benjamin Sisko himself, is about the lengths the bold captain is willing to go in order to bring the Romulan Empire, until this point carefully neutral, into the Federation's war against the Dominion as an ally. As Sisko schemes with not-just-a-simple-tailor Garak, Sisko is pushed to the south end of his moral compass, and beyond, as he continues to justify to himself that his immoral, inexcusable, criminal actions, were not only acceptable, but necessary, for the greater good.

This article isn't about any of that.

Let me back up a little bit and talk about what I was doing at the time this episode aired, back in April of 1998. I was 18, and so far had had a mostly sheltered, reclusive life, by that time living in a very small rural New Hampshire town. I didn't make friends easily, at least not in real life. However, I had become a veteran user of America Online at this point, and had already had three years of experience participating in weekly online Star Trek RPG sessions. Moreover, I was constantly writing short stories that told the further adventures of my character outside the weekly chat room. Dozens of stories. Hundreds, by the time I retired from the group in 2000 after a five-year run. I had friends there, a few of which I'm still in contact with today. This was where I went for social interaction. This was my life, that I could not find in person, at home, in school, or anywhere else.

I was invested.

Since I played a character in a game session that took place in relatively "real time" in the Deep Space Nine era, major events that took place on the show would often impact events in our sessions and my character's own life. The start of the Dominion War, naturally, caused major changes to the game world, and thus I would study each new episode of DS9 in detail, scanning it for any important news, just as Captain Sisko himself scanned the news feeds and communications for war updates and lists of officers killed in action.

"If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that bad news invariably comes in the middle of the night." --Benjamin Sisko

Lemec

The Federation was losing the war, and badly. Despite a strong alliance with the Klingon Empire, the Dominion forces in the Alpha Quadrant had simply grown too numerous. In addition, the Dominion had made alliances of their own in the Alpha Quadrant, allying with the Cardassian Empire and later the Breen, among others.The Romulans remained the only major power to have stayed out of the fighting thus far.

But you knew all that.

And just when we thought things couldn't get much more worse, the bombshell drops that Betazed, a valued member world of the Federation, had fallen to the Dominion, putting them within striking distance of founding member worlds such as Tellar, Andor, and even Earth (which itself would be later attacked by the Breen).

There were a couple lines of dialogue where Sisko discussed the situation with his staff, asking what mistakes were made that could have caused this event to happen - and then the subject changed as the episode quickly got back on track with its major plotline of attempting to provoke Romulan involvement. Although the plot had shifted away, I was excited to hear more about this major situation. How was the fall of Betazed affecting Federation morale? What was life like on Betazed now? Was there an occupying force? Did anyone on Betazed attempt to evacuate? Were there refugees now fleeing the area? How did this news affect prominent Betazoids we already knew in Star Trek lore, such as Counselor Deanna Troi, or her mother, Lwaxana Troi? Were they there when the event occurred? Did they go there afterward?

It was never mentioned again.

Twenty-two years later, there has still been no canon resolution of the Betazed conflict mentioned on any televised Star Trek media. (At least, to the best of my knowledge. I haven't seen Star Trek: Picard or the third season of Star Trek: Discovery yet, but I'm willing to bet it's not there.) And thus, a major battle potentially leading to lasting, permanent change within the Federation, was acknowledged and set aside, nearly reduced to only a throwaway line of dialogue.

"Photoshopped art that's so good, you'll wonder if you are forgetting an episode." --Charlie Plaine

All right, let's get this out of the way.

Izir'isel

I had just about the reaction Charlie described when I first saw Lemec and his ship, Izir'isel. Gul Lemec - previously seen way back in The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command" - led the Dominion attack on Betazed? Is this actually canon? Of course I didn't miss an episode, but it's not like our designers or Creative team to just make up something large like that. So is it previously established information?

Off to Memory Alpha, the repository of all canonical Trek knowledge, I ran, and there it was:

"In the novel The Battle of Betazed, Lemec was the commander of the Cardassian forces that helped the Jem'Hadar conquer the planet. They were building a Cardassian space station similar to Terok Nor and Lemec hoped to be Prefect of Betazed, as Dukat had been of Bajor. Lemec was captured during the liberation of the planet. Lemec was also in the Tales of the Dominion War story "The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned." Lwaxana Troi and other Betazoids sensed Lemec's elation over Cardassia's penetration that far into Federation territory."

So there was my answer. Though technically a non-canon source, this was such a major event in Star Trek lore that was regardless worthy of a mention on Memory Alpha.

It's rare that Star Trek CCG delves into non-canon material, but it has been known to happen. Most commonly, it's done to flesh out basic character information, such as the first name of Elizabeth Shelby. Two whole cards based on an event we never saw on-screen sets quite a precedent!

Of course, I haven't read The Battle of Betazed. Somehow, despite reading dozens of Deep Space Nine novels, including several that even took place during the Dominion War, I completely missed that this novel even existed!

That's my story on the story of these cards. Let's look at what they actually do.

"The Cardassian Union has yet to decide how it will respond to this latest provocation. But rest assured, we will respond." --Lemec

The new Dominion-colored Lemec shares a few features with his Cardassian-affiliation counterpart from way back in Premiere. He's still a 3-cost Gul with a command star and attributes of 4/5/6. Plus, both versions of Lemec have a method of boosting his Cunning and Strength by 2, making him a solid 4/7/8. The new version has almost an entirely new skill set, looking very similar to some versions of Dukat (though lacking Treachery), including a double Security skill. Also, Lemec's boosted attribute form also excludes him from random selections, making him a very valuable Dominion asset indeed.

Though expensive at 7 cost, the Izir'isel boasts strong attribute numbers at 9/9/9. In addition, the ship's boosted form weakens opposing ships at the same mission, making it great for engagement strategies.

So what's all this "boosted form" talk? Both Lemec and Izir'isel become enhanced if three or more of your opponent's dilemmas have been removed from the game. While these cards will bring some new unique traits to that Subjugated Cardassia deck you've already started building, their abiltiies are actually more suited to fit perfectly into a Terok Nor dilemma removal deck. It will be interesting to see how these new cards get used as Apocalypse Rising releases.

At long last, a missing chapter in Star Trek lore is now represented in Second Edition. Whether you're out to conquer Betazed, Cardassia, or other worlds, I hope you'll give these cards a look.

 


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