Intelligence has been a part of Star Trek lore for years. Section 31, the Obsidian Order, and the Tal Shiar have been integral to the story lines of TNG and DS9. Today, most ships/bases in the Starbase 118 fleet have an intelligence officer. But what you might not know is that long ago intelligence existed as its own simming group. This is the tale of Black Tower, a group that was not a starship and not quite a base. Roughly ten years ago Black Tower began operations under the command of Lieutenant Colonel K’sena of Kyrl.
This was a group unlike any other that had previously been under the command of Starbase 118. When Black Tower was first introduced, to join a player must have been in the fleet for no less than six months. They would then have to submit a new application, creating a new secondary character. As part of this application, which ensured that every player joining Black Tower was truly elite, the applicant had to write two assessments. The first was an undercover mission impersonating a Tal Shiar officer aboard a Romulan Warbird. While collecting information for SFI, the applicant uncovered a plot that would destroy an unsuspecting Federation fleet. The second was more open-ended designed to explore the writer’s creativity. They simply had to expound upon their tricorder suddenly picking up energy fluxes that their ship did not pick up during a planetary scan.
Unlike other simming groups, Black Tower had its own set of specialties. Although the usual security, operations, counseling, science, and engineering positions were available, Black Tower players also had the option of simming as a crypto/intelligence analyst, infiltration specialist, linguistics expert, or specializing in insertion/extraction. Additionally naval ranks were replaced with marine ranks for the entire group. Mission types were well thought about by Black Tower’s commanding officer. Black Tower was expected to participate in Counter Intelligence, Deception & Disinformation, Extraction, Infiltration, Reconnaissance, and Investigations. Each of these mission types were detailed on the Black Tower website.
The group took part in two missions,the first to monitor a spy within Romulan space and extract her if necessary. Intelligence officers disguised themselves as Zibalanians and piloted a freighter across the Neutral Zone. Black Tower’s second mission was to the planet Tantalus, where Black Tower personnel would retrieve captured fellow intelligence personnel that were being held hostage. However that would be it for Black Tower. Most of the crew would transfer to the USS Albion under the command of Commander Mike Rourke, ending what has since become a footnote in Starbase 118 lore.
Perhaps the reason that Black Tower did not flourish over the long haul may in part be due to its recruiting practices. Black Tower was almost exclusively made up of secondary characters. Although the group was filled with pre-screened quality players, most players that have played multiple characters are well aware of the challenges of simming in two groups and with an entire group made up of mostly secondaries, it put Black Tower at a severe disadvantage. The other issue was that her commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Kyrl was forced to leave the group as the player’s real life commitments overruled her simming time. Kyrl was about to begin medical school.
Today Black Tower exists merely as a curiosity within our group’s history. Players who have heard about the old group are often intrigued by its potential. Players that once simmed there reflect fondly on their time simming with the unique group. The consensus is that it was a shame that the group disbanded and for years people have rooted for its return. Perhaps someday, Black Tower or some other derivation of intelligence may make a return to the Starbase 118 fleet.