Starfleet officers are saddled with an immense amount of responsibility. It seems like each day is just another chance to be vaporized, tortured, spaced, sucked into a black hole, or anything else in the pantheon of untimely demises. And yet, the beloved organization of exploration and defense grows its ranks and carries on a legacy of honor and optimism: boldly going where no one has gone before.
These risks are accepted by all aboard, but there seems to be one duty description more hazardous and unpredictable than any other, and that’s the specialists who handle first contact with new species.
A variety of Star Trek episodes show us what happens when first contact goes horribly wrong. In “Tin Man” an entire Starfleet landing team was massacred due to a cultural misunderstanding. The risks and dangers of first contact, and the numerous ways it can be performed poorly, inspired Starfleet to insist on creating General Order 1, otherwise known as the Prime Directive. While this mitigated certain issues, the fact that someone would still need to speak for the entire Federation in truly precarious situations remained. That’s probably why Starfleet captains are vetted on the basis of their ability to diplomatically and tactfully introduce an entirely new race to the people of the United Federation of Planets, among other things.
So this week’s poll asks: Do you believe your character would be comfortable handling first contact situations on a regular basis? Would they relish the importance and the strain? Would they collapse under pressure? Perhaps something in between?