Post Play Report—”Hell is Empty and All the Devils are Here”

A lifelong Trekkie and lover of all forms of storytelling, Johnny Karzai is a writer, filmmaker, and consultant in the Washington, DC area. His debut short film, The Killer of Grassy Ridge, has been selected for 50+ film festivals worldwide and is currently streaming on YouTube. In addition to Gamemastering two STA player groups, he’s also signed on to direct a Star Trek fan-film project in collaboration with Kaotica Studios and Farragut Films, currently in pre-production. His favorite Star Trek was The Next Generation… until he finished Deep Space 9.

About the Game

Mission 1 is an original “homebrew” adventure.

Missions 2 and 3 are adapted from the Star Trek Adventures Living Campaign mission Convoy SE-119, by Jim Johnson.

1. “Hell is Empty and All the Devils are Here” – Stardate: 47772.8 (Oct. 10-11, 2370)

Receiving orders to report to their new ship, the USS Resolute (Intrepid-class, NCC-74696), Captain John Irons, Chief Engineer LCDR Michael Gunn, and conn officer LT Norin Orok (Betazoid) depart Starbase 105 on the Aeroshuttle, an auxiliary craft specific to Intrepid-class ships, similar to a captain’s yacht. Halfway through their two-week trip to rendezvous with the USS Resolute near the Klach D’Kel Brakt system, the three officers respond to a distress call from a Klingon freighter, the IKS vaj (“warrior”), a par’tok-class freighter adrift in neutral space.

The Starfleet officers aboard the IKS vaj to render assistance and investigate, however, the majority of the 86 Klingon crew and officers are found dead, with many having suffered from an “undetermined medical condition.” Hours later, the IKS Hegh’ta arrives, a B’rel­-class bird of Prey under the command of Captain Akul. Akul assumes jurisdiction over the derelict Klingon freighter and, after a tense confrontation, orders the Starfleet crew to depart the system.

** BY ORDER OF ADMIRAL RANER’S OFFICE (STARFLEET SECURITY), ALL RECORDS RELATED TO THE EVENTS THAT OCCURRED ABOARD THE KLINGON FREIGHTER IKS “VAJ” ON OR ABOUT STARDATE 47772 HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED. **

2. “Welcome to Narendra Station” – Stardate: 47807.33 (Oct. 22-23, 2370) 

After rendezvousing with the Aeroshuttle and piping aboard Cap. Irons and his new senior officers, the USS Resolute docks at Starbase 364/Narendra Station for the first time. The crew quickly learns that things on the first jointly-administered Federation-Klingon starbase are not as copasetic as leadership suggests. As with all ships departing for the Shackleton Expanse, the Resolute must undergo a specialized sensor calibration to equip it for the expanse’s strong electromagnetic hazards, although station resources and engineers are clearly prioritized for the Klingon Defense Force (KDF). Chief Engineer LCDR Michael Gunn is approached by a disheveled young engineering officer, LCDR Glenn, Starfleet’s ranking engineer on Starbase 364, who requests assistance in dealing with the station’s Chief Engineer, an overbearing Klingon commander. Glenn mentions the recent sensor refit of the USS Venture was a nightmare, and that its departure was delayed for three weeks due to engineering resources being dominated by the KDF. Further, Glenn says that the station’s current leadership isn’t doing anything fix the problem. To make matters worse, another Bird of Prey arrived last night (the IKS Hegh’ta) and now her captain is demanding all the resources. Gunn agrees to look into the problem and notifies his XO, but chooses not to directly confront the Klingon Chief Engineer, who is in the station’s Bloodwine Hall deep below decks.

Cap. Irons is summoned to the office of Admiral April Hebert, the ranking Starfleet officer on Starbase 364, and his new boss. She asks about his trip to the station (alluding to the classified incident onboard the IKS vaj), which he describes as, “uneventful.” Adm. Hebert goes on to mention the importance of keeping the Klingons happy, noting that Chancellor Gowron is very temperamental and could shut off Federation access to the galactic “east” of Starbase 234 anytime the mood strikes him, making life very difficult for Starfleet in this region of space. She also briefs him on the Resolute’s first official mission, to escort a convoy of three civilian cargo ships to a remote outpost in the expanse; a mission which will serve the dual-purposes of delivering subspace relay equipment while also mapping new routes through the expanse’s electromagnetic storms. The Resolute will be joined by the IKS Hegh’ta, which will lead the convoy under Captain Akul. As Irons is dismissed, Hebert asks him to behave himself and to do his part to help keep the Klingons happy.

The Betazoid conn officer, LT Orok, explores Starbase 364, especially the shops, restaurants, and recreational facilities on the Galleria level. His observations and telepathy tell him that despite pleasant appearances, the base is deeply segregated, with Federation personnel on one side and the Klingons on the other. Starbase 364 has been operational for nearly one year, but rumor is that things have never been tenser between Federation personnel and the Klingons. There have even been a few brawls, but leadership has been quick to downplay any confrontations. While intermingling has been highly encouraged, both sides now seem to stay in their own areas of the station.

After being briefed by his XO on the delays to the sensor calibrations, Captain Irons brings his concerns about the KDF dominating the station’s engineering resources to Adm. Hebert, who tells him nothing more can be done, and reminds him to keep the Klingons happy. Irons then marches down the hall to the office of General Kargan, the station’s ranking KDF representative. He’s stopped in the waiting room by the general’s aide and made to wait 20 minutes before discovering that General Kargan is not even in his office. Frustrated and down to his last option, Irons calls a meeting with his new Chief of Security and former Section 31 operative, Master Chief Luther Grimm. Irons asks his old friend to quietly produce some results.

In the Resolute’s sick bay, the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) completes its analysis of scans conducted aboard the IKS vaj during the previous mission and provides a briefing to Captain Irons. The results of this analysis were provided to Starfleet Security and immediately classified. Following the briefing, Irons orders the EMH to erase all pertinent data from its memory.

At midnight, Master Chief Grimm dons civilian clothing and takes the turbolift down to the Klingon Bloodwine Hall deep below decks of Starbase 364. The dark room is full of long tables, each crowded by the crews of all the Klingon ships currently docked at the station. With all eyes upon him, Grimm walks to the bar, shouts ka’pla, and downs a tankard of bloodwine. He asks the bartender for the highest-ranking Klingon in the room, and is directed to Captain Akul of the IKS Hegh’ta, a towering 6’8” warrior sitting at the head of his ship’s table with his senior officers and crew. Grimm makes his way directly to Akul, kicks the chair out from under him, takes him to the ground, and drives a d’k tagh dagger into the deck plating beside his head. Just as Grimm is about to be eviscerated by the nearest Klingons, the XO of the Hegh’ta recognizes Grimm’s dagger and orders them to stop. The dagger is a ceremonial weapon emblazoned with the symbol of the House of K’mpec (the previous Klingon Chancellor who died in 2367), and is only bestowed upon those who have helped bring honor and glory to the Klingon Empire. Grimm helps Akul to his feet and demands a conversation, warrior to warrior, to which Akul agrees. This is not the traditional manner for Starfleet to handle situations, and Akul appreciates it. They step outside into the corridor and Grimm requests that the station’s engineering resources be diverted to the Resolute, to which Akul pledges his assistance. Grimm also asks about General Kargan, and though Akul is a proud Klingon who will serve his leaders and perform his duty, he mentions that Kargan is an idiot and a toothless bureaucrat. Akul goes on to say that the only reason Kargan sits upon his throne at the top of Starbase 364 is because he’s grown too fat to move from it.

Meanwhile, with no available assistance from starbase personnel, Resolute’s engineering staff are burning the midnight oil to get the sensor refit done themselves, but the process is challenging and tensions are running high among the sleep-deprived engineers. A junior engineering officer reports to LCDR Gunn that yet another Klingon ship has just decloaked and made an unscheduled dock at the starbase. With her 1,500 crew, the massive Vor’cha-class IKS Azetbur will undoubtedly require more engineering resources than the station can currently provide. Gunn reminds his staff that they should only worry about matters within their control.

In the wee hours, Master Chief Grimm stalks the deserted Starfleet office level and, after ensuring that his tracks will be covered, he carefully accesses Admiral Hebert’s personal logs searching for any information marked ‘classified’ that may have relevance to the Resolute’s current mission. He only finds one report that piqued his interest, concerning a Federation memo on biological weapons potentially being developed in the Shackleton Expanse, and an alert that such weapons may pass through Starbase 364. The logs show that Hebert initiated an investigation based on the report. Grimm boards the Resolute and enters the captain’s ready room where he awaits his old friend and briefs him on the night’s activities.

At the morning senior staff briefing, Irons and his senior officers are pleased to hear that the majority of the starbase’s engineers, including the Klingon engineers, have reported to assist with the Resolute’s sensor refit. Captain Irons posts security teams around major systems and limits the Klingon crew’s access. With the additional help, LCDR Gunn now expects the sensor refits to be completed and fully calibrated by 1800 hours. With the three cargo vessels and the IKS Hegh’ta waiting, Captain Irons orders his crew to get some rest. The convoy will depart at 0600 hours the following day (October 24, 2370).

3. “Convoy” – Stardate: 47811.64 (Oct. 24, 2370)   

With its sensors now fully calibrated for the Shackleton Expanse, the USS Resolute departs Starbase 364 escorting a convoy of three civilian cargo ships toward a remote outpost with support from Captain Akul and the IKS Hegh’ta. En route, a few sensor glitches are apparent, and the crew busies themselves by running diagnostics, mapping the route, and charting courses around the electromagnetic disturbances in the area.

That night in his quarters on Deck 3, LCDR Gunn inspects the 25-gallon cask of whiskey that he and his father distilled together, which is now aging in a second-run sherry cask in an artificial environment to simulate the atmosphere of Scotland. He’s unsure how the artificial environment will affect the evaporation process, but he is certain that this will be the first batch of Earth whiskey ever aged in the Shackleton Expanse.

On the bridge, an explosion is detected onboard the IKS Hegh’ta causing it to drop out of warp. The three cargo ships and the Resolute follow suit and soon the convoy is stopped amid a flurry of electromagnetic storms and eddies swirling on all sides. LT Orok is in his quarters with engineer Ensign Li Edon as the ship is shaken violently by electromagnetic turbulence. Orok is shaken up with minor injuries, but Ensign Li is knocked unconscious and taken to sickbay. Injuries are reported from all over the ship. Gunn’s forehead is cut and he reports to sickbay to get patched up. Irons declares Yellow Alert and calls for senior staff to report to the bridge.

Damage reports are received from the other ships in the convoy. The crew of the SS Shahana (an Antares-class freighter) has suffered severe injuries and is requesting immediate medical support. The second cargo ship, the SS Insomnia (another Antares-class freighter) is currently disabled with a breach to its engines and is requesting engineering support. The crew of the third cargo ship, the SS Night Star (a small Deneva-class freighter) is stable and self-sufficient but shaken up. Information from the IKS Hegh’ta at the front of the convoy is sparse, but the shields are down to 50% and Captain Akul is unconscious. The ship is currently under the command of the XO.

With transporters unreliable, a medical team launches in Shuttlecraft 1 piloted by LT Orok for the SS Shahana, while an engineering team shuttle with LCDR Gunn, Petty Officer Smith, and Petty Officer Kelly launches in Shuttlecraft 2 piloted by Ensign Dykes for the SS Insomnia. Once the two shuttles are deployed and docked to the cargo ships, the IKS Hegh’ta requests additional engineering support. After dropping off the engineering team on the SS Insomnia, Ens. Dykes (in Shuttlecraft 1) delivers LCDR Gunn and Petty Officer Kelly to the Hegh’ta at the front of the convoy.

As engineering and medical support is underway, two heavily armored Merchantman-class freighters and six small Argus-class fighters emerge from an electromagnetic storm to the convoy’s port side (see Engagement Diagram 1). As the Resolute goes to Red Alert, the fighters open fire on the SS Insomnia, inflicting a breach to its sensor system. The Resolute moves to intercept and immediately fires a phaser salvo that destroys four of the fighters, however, the two remaining fighters perform evasive maneuvers and successfully dock with the SS Shahana and Insomnia. Two boarders step through the airlock of the Insomnia; one is clearly a Nausicaan, but the other’s face is covered. Both wear piecemeal leather and scrap-metal armor, and they march aft toward the engineering section engaging the freighter crew, directly toward the position of Petty Officer Smith, the sole remaining Starfleet officer aboard the Insomnia.        

One hostile freighter moves toward the Resolute as the other moves toward the crippled Hegh’ta at the head of the convoy. Onboard the Hegh’ta, Gunn is able to restore the ship’s shields to full power, and by diverting power to fire its RCS thrusters, the bird of prey rotates to port nearly 80°, and just enough to attack the approaching freighter with a devastating blast from its port disruptor canon. The freighter, whose shields were down (an after-action analysis shows that her transporters were in the process of powering up, likely to beam over a large boarding team) did not expect the thruster maneuver from the crippled Hegh’ta and was immediately destroyed by the Klingon disruptor blast.

Upon seeing its counterpart destroyed, the second hostile freighter changes course and escapes the engagement at warp on a course of 271.7°. LT Orok docks his shuttle with the Insomnia to assist Petty Officer Smith, although the shuttle is damaged during the docking maneuver (see Engagement Diagram 2).

With all active enemy ships destroyed or escaped, the Resolute crew scans the SS Insomnia and Shahana and attempts to transport four hostile boarders to a transporter room based upon the signatures of their weapons fire. Master Chief Grimm and a team of eight security officers await in the transporter room. Transporter Chief MacMillan and Crewman Daniels are selected to attempt this difficult transport, although the latter is relieved by the more experienced LT Jameson (Gunn’s Deputy Chief Engineer). The transporters energize, and four pirates materialize in a surprised state on the Resolute’s transporter pads; a Bajoran, Human, Nausicaan, and a female Andorian. All weapons were automatically deactivated by the transporter system, with the exception of a device held by the Bajoran male, now believed to emit an ultritium explosive pulse. Ultritum is not detectable by transporters, and thus was not deactivated during the transport. The pirate opened fire on his closest target, Master Chief Grimm, and inflicted an injury to his right shoulder. The security team stunned all pirates; they fell to the transporter pad and were taken to the brig.

As Gunn and the Klingon crew work to repair the explosion damage on the Hegh’ta, Captain Akul regains consciousness and reclaims his bridge, infuriated that he missed the battle. In Shuttlecraft 1, Ensign Dykes picks up Gunn and travels to the SS Shahana to retrieve the medical team who have successfully treated all serious injuries on board. With Petty Officer Smith’s help, LT Orok repairs the Shuttlecraft 2 docked to the SS Insomnia and all deployed crewmembers return to the Resolute. Master Chief Grimm is unconscious in sickbay, although his shoulder wound is superficial and he is expected to make a complete recovery.

As the convoy mobilizes and resumes warp, Cap. Irons and LT Orok question one of their four prisoners – the Andorian female (whose name they will soon learn is Val’Shana). Despite projecting a tough appearance, Orok’s telepathy detects extreme fear. A closer probe reveals that she is specifically afraid that her employers will harm her family if they believe she is providing information on “the Network” to the Federation. Irons admits to the Andorian that LT Orok is a Betazoid and can read her thoughts. When asked who exactly she’s afraid of, the image of an Orion male flashes through her mind, although Val’Shana quickly disguises her thoughts to hide this. Orok mentions that he can ask who the Orion is, or she can simply tell them. Now realizing that her captors are not bluffing, Val’Shana asks Captain Irons if he can guarantee the safety of her family, to which he immediately confirms.

With a resigned sigh, the Andorian looks at Captain Irons, leans back in her chair, and says, “what do you want to know?”

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