The J Continuum: Reflections on The Iconian Story Arc



LLAP, Qapla’ and Jolan Tru fellow STO players, my name is Jacien and my column is all about the rich lore and story lines in the game. The latest feature episode, Midnight, brought to a close the longest running story arc in the game. We’ve been told for years that the Iconians were the Big Bad antagonists of the STO universe and indeed they have been. It was the Iconians who used their gateway technology to make the Undine think forces from our Galaxy were attempting to invade their universe. This in-turn caused the Undine to begin infiltrating the major powers of the alpha and beta quadrants.

They infiltrated the Gorn leadership which then went to war with the Klingon Empire once Ja’rod, son of Lursa discovered their involvement. When the Federation would not support the Klingon Empire in their fight against the Gorn, it became the final straw that broke the Khitomer accords. They were actively involved in the destruction of Romulus and the rise of the Tal’Shiar, always working in the shadows and through intermediaries they destabilized the entire alpha and beta quadrants. They were behind the resurgence of the Vaadwaur Supremacy, giving them advanced technology and controlling their leadership with Elachi-engineered parasites. Time and again our Federation, Klingon and Romulan captains have thwarted their efforts until we drew their ire.

The Iconian Was was by far the most destructive conflict in the game’s history to date. When we finally met the Iconians on the field of battle they were everything you’d expect from a race known as the Demons of Air and Darkness. These goddess-like beings made of fire, lightning and shadow proved to be a most implacable foe. Their minions, The Heralds, were quite challenging as well. During recent feature episodes and the Tales of The War blog, we begin to see deeper into the Iconian persona yet the mystery only deepens. Who is this “Other” they refer to, another powerful being? That’s what I thought at first and I was wracking my brain, flipping through my mental rolodex of Star Trek characters who might fit the bill. Everyone from The Caretaker’s mate to Trelane, who would’ve been powerful enough to save them?

In Midnight we find out that the fabled “Other” is us, and I’m sure it didn’t come as a surprise to a lot of people as it’s a well-used trope in science fiction. What was surprising and ultimately made the conclusion of this arc so satisfying was the twist that was Iconian society 200,000 years ago. We all knew the story of the Iconians, a despotic ancient civilization that used their gateway technology to enslave countless other worlds until a coalition of other races banded together to overthrow them and decimate their homeworld. But when we go through the time portal what we find is a drastically Iconian society.

Their civilization is a peaceful one dedicated to the arts and sciences. They have a rule about sharing their advanced technology with younger races that may not be ready for it, much like the Federation’s own prime directive. The coalition of younger races that overthrew them were not former slaves of the Iconians fighting for liberty but an invading force, jealous of their superior technology. It is in this that you find the core of a really good star trek story, the morality play.

Star Trek isn’t the most successful Science Fiction Television genre in history because it’s about aliens, spaceships and ray-guns. Don’t get me wrong, those things are are really cool and awesome but at the end of the day it’s all just backdrop. Star Trek is at it’s best when it acts as a mirror to ourselves, our society and our failings. The morality play in this feature episode is simple, Is it right to punish a people for crimes they’ve yet to commit even if we know they’re going to commit them. I think STO did a far better job on this moral dilemma than Minority Report did, lol. The Iconians become what they are, in-part, because of Sela’s interference and we come to find out that it was her betrayal that caused the Iconians’ interest in the Romulan Star Empire. Though there are a bit of inconsistencies in that part considering that the there wouldn’t even be a Romulan Star Empire for another 194,000 years so the Iconians should’ve been able to figure out that The Other was from the future.

In the end the war is brought to a close the this epic arc that has weaved its way through the game’s entire story is wrapped up in a nice mobius-shaped bow. Truly a paradox done right and a well-executed morality play.

5 Comments ON " The J Continuum: Reflections on The Iconian Story ... "
  • alt_example

    Stephen September 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Nicely put!

    And don’t forget that those god-like Iconians are responsible for the JJ-Verse too.

    Win some, lose some 🙂

  • alt_example

    War games September 25, 2015 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Great article jaicen but i dont think the story line is quite over even though they say it is…one question keeps going through my mind who exactly attacked the iconians and why? When playing midnight they reminded me of vaddwaur but then why would they help them rise to power again? Nd why did they have so much hate against preservers to destroy them? O still a bunch of unanswered questions for me!

    • alt_example

      GavinRuneblade October 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      We know it wasn’t one single race, there were several.

      Also the Iconians did not hate the preservers. Remember M’tara’s conversation:
      M’tara: It brings me no pleasure to have to destroy you.
      Preserver: Then choose another path my child.
      M’tara: I cannot.

      There’s no hate or anger there. It sounded in her voice more like she barely accepted the decision to do it. If I had to guess, M’tara chose to be the one just so it wasn’t T’ket killing them, because T’ket would not have been kind.

      The Iconians were worried that the preservers would help the alliance defeat them. The preserver archive was destroyed as a strategic goal, it was nothing like Romulus & Remus that were destroyed as an act of vengeance.

  • alt_example

    seannewboy September 25, 2015 at 8:36 am - Reply

    The current explanation for them knowing about romulans is currently that Kagren did it, while he was waiting for the rest of the crew. Im fine with that.

    An excellent article.

    Considering myself a Romulan, i still want to chuck both Sela and T’Ket into a singularity, together, they both deserve it. This whole thing the combination of their stubbornness.

  • alt_example

    Marcase September 28, 2015 at 1:48 am - Reply

    “Midnight” was an enjoyable conclusion to the Iconian Arc. The minor but still a bit annoying thing in the last two episodes was the overt appearance of Section 31’s Franklin Drake.
    Section 31 is/was still not officially sanctioned by the Federation – which of course is *not* the same as Starfleet, so maybe Starfleet did something “not-quite-legal” here.

    Or it could’ve been a sign of the sheer desperation at the time that Section 31 was so openly part of the Warcouncil, but basically having Drake there goes against the core of the Federation’s belief, and I can imagine it could’ve had a real political backlash within the Federation.
    Then again, messing with the timeline(s) – which in itself was a weapon of mass destruction wiping out an entire civilization (see previous episode).

    I hope that in Season 11 we’ll see some of this adressed.

    Good piece.

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