The Star Trek universe has its own Assassins’ Guild – one the franchise has seemingly forgotten, but can now finally bring back in the perfect way. The idea of a secretive, ninja-like cult of assassins may seem at odds with Star Trek’s ethos, but in 2000-2001’s Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Killing Shadows, fans meet just such an organization: the Bodai Shin. This ruthless warrior cultists brutally tear their way through the Enterprise’s crew, showing their potential to be excellent Trek villains.
Within the Star Trek universe, there are secret organizations, such as the infamous Section 31. This group, the Federation’s equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency, does the dirty work needed to maintain the Federation’s interests around the galaxy. When the group first appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s sixth season, some sections of fandom voiced objections to Section 31’s existence, claiming that secret, clandestine organizations had no place in the Star Trek universe, as it betrayed the principles laid down by Gene Roddenbery. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Wildstorm obtained the license to produce Star Trek comics and introduced another, even more sinister organization. And whereas Section 31 ultimately acted for the greater good, there is no redeeming value in the Bodai Shin.
In the story from Scott Ciencin and Andrew Currie, the Enterprise has been dispatched to the colony world of Nydaris, to rendezvous with Doctor Noguri. Some mysterious force is killing prominent Federation scientists, and Noguri is believed to be a target. Thankfully, a Betazoid victim manages to send out a telepathic signal, allowing the Federation to learn of the Bodai Shin, whose existence had never been confirmed. In response, the Shin attack and kill Noguri, and beam agents about the Enterprise. The Shin fight their way through the crew, killing some in brutal fashion. The crew learn the Shin want the device Noguri was working on to use as a weapon of destruction. They also learn the Shin have stealth armor that allows them to move undetected. Finally, they learn the Bodai Shin serve something even more sinister than them – a being called « the Void. »
As cool as the Bodai Shin were as villains, they have never been seen again – and this is a crucial mistake, one the franchise should fix. The Bodai Shin are some of the most unique villains the crew of the Enterprise have encountered. Whereas the Borg or the Jem Hadar are one species, the Bodai Shin are a cult of assassins, ones who work in the shadows. The Enterprise crew are used to fighting foes they can see coming, but the Bodai Shin’s stealth armor allowed them to cut down crew members. The Bodai Shin made a mockery out of every security measure on the ship, and the crew beat them by the skin of their teeth.
It would make sense for the Bodai Shin to return in Star Trek: Picard, given Jean Luc was the captain who defeated them, however they’d fit even better into IDW Publishing’s upcoming Star Trek series, in which Benjamin Sisko will lead a team to discover who is killing the franchise’s godlike beings. If the Void is on this list, it would make the Bodai Shin a fascinating extra faction in play alongside Starfleet and Worf’s rogue crew aboard the Defiant.
Star Trek has many iconic villains, but the Bodai Shin pose a unique kind of threat, and their ties to Picard and larger cosmic powers means there’s never been a better time for them to take a hand in the wider affairs of the universe.