The following is a summary of our first two full-play sessions. The players had a great deal of fun, and are eager for the next episode.
EPISODE 1: DECISION POINT
The USS Volant is a Nebula-class Federation vessel, albeit with modified nacelles to better handle its current mission. Its mission is to explore and chart the Shackleton Expanse, a vast uncharted territory tucked behind the Klingon and Romulan Empires, known to house strange and unusual temporal and spacial anomalies. Narenda Station, a joint Klingon/Federation station, will serve as its home base, but its primary duty remains in the unknown.
The last of the crew of the Volant had just arrived on Narenda Station when the vessel was scrambled into action, responding to a probe report that located a plasma trail; it was believed that the trail could be a sign of the fate of the SS Telsa, a civilian science vessel exploring the Shackleton expanse. An Oberth-class vessel, it went missing six weeks ago; the Volant hoped to find and rescue the missing six scientists aboard the ship.
Commander Barret arrived on the bridge to meet Captain K’mir for the first time, and was surprised to learn a Klingon, Khurron, was at navigation. K’mir had intentionally left that information out of his short briefing to Barret, to see how the Commander would react. Barret, though surprised, was welcoming and friendly to the unexpected assignment, and K’mir was pleased with the result.
The plasma trail led to the Orgun system, one with two Class M worlds. Both worlds had intelligent life and civilizations, though both were pre-Warp. Orgun II had a violent and martial culture, one roughly equal to Medieval humanity in technology level, with a species that called itself the Slithar. Orgun III had a more advanced civilization, about mid-21st-century, with a peaceful, unified society, calling themselves the Lormeans. The two different species appeared unrelated.
Knowing they would need to avoid the sensors and satellites of Orgun III, they modified their systems to protect their ship from being scanned. As they closed in on the Orgun system, the bridge crew was kidnapped in a flash of light. And suddenly, they were in a mockery of a courtroom, with a judge in red robes and a black hat on a chair above them. He regarded them with a smirk. “The Trial is never-ending,” he noted.
Commander Barret immediately recognized the judge from Starfleet reports he had read: it was the powerful being known only as Q. Q questioned them about how much they REALLY believed in the Prime Directive. “Is it something that you truly hold yourselves to, or is it a pleasant bedtime story you tell yourself to let you sleep at night in smug superiority?” Captain K’mir, taking the lead while the rest of the crew held back in silence, insisted they were on a rescue mission. “Oh?” Q asked. “And who, exactly, are you intending to rescue?” The crew of the Tesla, of course, K’mir noted. “Well then,” Q replied with a smirk, “I suppose I shouldn’t keep you. But I’ll be watching, Captain…” And they were returned to the bridge, without any time having passed.
After a quick briefing from Barret, supplemented with logs pulled by Yeoman Nala, K’mir suggested that the best course of action, with regards to Q, was to pretend he simply wasn’t a factor. Still, they knew the stakes had somehow been raised significantly.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 48215.3
A probe in the Shackleton Expanse has picked up a plasma trail, likely from the missing civilian science vessel the SS Tesla. The trail leads to the Orgun system which is home to two M-class worlds with native civilizations.
On our way there we ran into an entity known as ‘Q’, a being of unknown power that apparently makes a habit of harassing starfleet ships that go too far into space. It would seem that a trial awaits us in the Orgun system.
The Volant followed the trail into the Orgun system, where they discovered the Tesla had crashed on Orgun III, the more advanced world. Atmospheric disturbances made scanning difficult, but they managed to cut through it enough to find the crash of the Tesla, roughly 200 kilometers outside of the capital city, in the wilderness. During this scan, they also discovered a strange power source, even more advanced than Federation technology, buried 5 kilometers down, not too far north of the capital city.
The energy source was very perplexing, but it was not their primary goal. The atmospheric disturbances made the transporters too dangerous, so Ensign Ara piloted a shuttle down with an away team made of up K’Mir, Chirurgeon Bisha, Lieutenant T’rel, Lt Commander Klynn, and Yeoman Nala. Since the planet’s atmosphere made communication unreliable and there were potential issues regarding the Prime Directive, the Captain opted to handle the situation personally. Commander Avery remained in command of the Volant, while Lt Commander Kritassen and Sogh Khurron worked to find a way through the atmospheric disturbances.
The Tesla had crashed mostly in one piece, but there were definitely two graves outside, and Ensign Ara picked up a spike of anxiety from Yeoman Nala, despite her external professionalism. The atmospheric disturbances did not affect close-range tricorder readings, which confirmed a human and an Andorian in the graves, two of the six crew of the Tesla. When the bodies were identified, Nala gave an emotional flash of relief, sensed only by Ara.
As they investigated the crashed Tesla, they found that someone had disabled the warp core before the crash, preventing an even worse tragedy. The crew’s personal effects were gone. And the sensors on the ship were active, and transmitting somewhere….
…and that’s when the airborne transports arrived.
The crew initially took cover, trying to hide themselves, but the Lormean Security officers announced that they were welcome, and that the scientists they sought were safe in the capital city. Realizing that there had already been a breach of the Prime Directive, and seeking to minimize it, K’mir emerged to speak with the security force, who explained that they wanted to escort them to the city to meet with the scientists. Ensign Ara sensed no deception about them, though they were definitely nervous about something… and not just the Away Team.
Captain K’mir asked if their engineer, Klynn, would be allowed to stay behind to try to find a way around the atmospheric disturbances, and that was acceptable. Klynn kept the crew’s weapons, since the Lormeans didn’t want to bring armed people to their capital city, and the away team didn’t want to let the Lormeans have access to phaser technology. Chirugeon Bisha, however, insisted on her ushaan-tor coming along so it could remain closeby, though she allowed the security forces to carry it; she referred to it as a “tool.”
Upon arrival in the capital city, the Away Team was introduced to the surviving members of the Tesla, who were quite happy to see the Volant’s crew.. But especially Doctor Orimu Faz, a Trill… who ran forward to embrace Ensign Nala, thrilled to see her, because their Symbionts used to be in hosts who were married to each other. However, they both quickly stepped back from their embrace, realizing it might be inappropriate.
The surviving members of the Tesla brought K’mir and the rest of the Away Team up to speed. The Tesla had been hit by an energy wave that caused a cascade failure. The Captain was killed while stopping the accident from completely destroying the ship, and the Andorian was killed in the crash. The other four survived with nothing worse than a couple broken bones. The Lormeans found them and gave them the best medical treatment they could, welcoming them to their world. And because the Tesla crew were civilians, they were not bound by the Prime Directive. They told the Lormeans a great deal about the Federation… and also offered to help the Lormean people.
For the last several months, the planet of Orgun III had been experiencing increasing geological instabilities (which is also about when the atmospheric disturbances started). And their best scientists had revealed that Orgun III would begin to shake itself apart within a matter of two weeks. Before the scientists arrived, they had a plan to evacuate a few hundred people to Orgun II. It would probably still mean the end of their people, because even if the locals didn’t wipe them out, there wouldn’t exactly be enough genetic diversity to assure the species could survive long-term. But there would be a remote chance of survival, however unlikely.
With the arrival of these scientists, and their enthusiastic offer of help, they thought they would evacuate even more people to Orgun II… which would give the Lormeans a better shot at long-term survival, but definitely cause major issues for the less advanced Slithar.
The Tesla scientists, especially the new acting leader, Dr. Emmett Sherman, were absolutely shocked that the Volant wouldn’t just help transport the whole population of 15 million Lormeans to Orgun II. They pointed out that the Prime Directive didn’t really apply to the Lormeans anymore, since that ship has sailed, though of course Starfleet still required officers to minimize damage when possible, and prevent harm to the residents of Orgun II as well. But there weren’t exactly any other worlds to do any sort of evacuation to with the time left. Faz’s perspective, thanks to multiple lifetimes, was a bit different, so while he definitely agreed with the other scientists, he was also able to see the Captain’s point of view without immediately being as defensive and angry as Dr. Sherman was.
Thanks to Klynn’s jury-rigging skills, he managed to put together a pattern enhancer field. By standing between three pylons he put together, one could safely transport to the transporter room on the Volant, and vice versa. Most of the doctors refused to leave, even temporarily, as they refused to abandon the Lormeans, and Dr. Sherman was all but ready to accuse Captain K’mir of wanting to kidnap them away from the endangered people. Faz, however, agreed to come aboard the Volant to discuss the issue. Chirurgeon Bisha opted to stay behind to check on the three remaining scientists, and she confirmed they were in excellent health and in no way emotionally or mentally compromised.
Faz was brought aboard and, buying K’mir time to brief his commander privately, Nala brought Faz to sickbay for a quick checkup. There was some chemistry there, even between the two hosts now, and despite Trill thoughts on never getting into a relationship with a previous host’s partner, he asked Nala if, once this was all over, maybe they could go spend some time together? Just as friends, of course! Friends and colleagues, investigating the same expanse. Surely they could safely compare notes. Nala was tempted, and said she’d consider it.
As they all gathered to discuss things in the briefing room, Kritassen delivered more information. Thanks to his work on scanning through the atmospheric disturbances, aided by Khurron’s knowledge of astrometric properties, he discovered the unknown energy source was pulsing with the planet’s quakes. It seemed to be connected to the planet’s destabilization. They also found caves on the planet’s surface that eventually led down to the energy source.
Faz insisted on going to investigate. If they could save this world, or even buy them more time, he wanted to head there immediately.
This, of course, further complicated the Prime Directive. While K’mir could consider the Lormeans to have sent a request for aid — one of the occasional rare exceptions to the Prime Directive — there was limited time to assist and evacuate the Lormeans anywhere other than Orgun II… which was simply outside the realm of possibility, as the harm to the Slithar would be too great. If the threat to the Lormeans was caused by an unnatural, outside force, K’mir felt justified in providing even more aid, though again, there were limitations on what they could offer.
Captain’s Log, Supplemental
The SS Tesla crashed on Orgun III, the home of the more technologically advanced race. Two of the six scientists perished in the crash. The local sentient species, the Lormeans, took in the remaining four and cared for them.
Unfortunately it’s not as simple as picking up the scientists and leaving. There are some sort of geological tremors that are projected to tear Orgun III apart, and the Lormeans with it. The scientists have promised to stay and aid them, and told them Starfleet would do the same.
The Lormeans’ current plan is to colonize Orgun II, which has its own native sentient life. At this point, there is no hope of containing contamination with the Lormeans, but the natives of Orgun II must be protected as well. The Lormeans near-warp technology is far more advanced than theirs. Any colonization of Orgun II would be a potential threat.
Our only hope now is to delay the breaking down of the planet in order for more Starfleet vessels to arrive and aid in evacuation, such that the Lormeans can colonize an unoccupied class M planet.
While an away team, made up of Kritassen, Klynn, Barret, T’rel, and Faz, along with security Ensign Fisher, entered the caverns, K’mir arranged to call the other two Federation vessels, the USS Thunderchild and the USS Venture, to come to help evacuate as much of the world as possible within the time they had. While waiting to hear back, K’mir reached out to Chief Minister Toorel of the Lormeans.
Toorel understood where K’mir was coming from, though also explained that K’mir’s ethical stance was a cold comfort when she was trying to save as many of her millions of Lormeans as she could. She explained that, regardless of what K’mir might do, Toorel would save as many Lormeans as she could, even if it meant endangering the culture of the Slithar. K’mir explained that they understood, and would not interfere in her actions, but neither could the Volant aid them in any action which could harm the Slithar people. Toorel also asked one other favor of K’mir: they had taken genetic samples from different species of their world, forming an “ark” of sorts. She asked K’mir to take it to their scientists, so it would not be lost. Should the Lormeans someday join the Federation, they would be able to take ownership of their planet’s lost genetic heritage at that time.
Down in the caverns, the away team had a treacherous journey. A tricorder warned them of an unstable cavern, leading them to take an alternative route, but that route went through a cavern filled with a toxic gas. Thankfully, it was a gas that was harmless to Kritassenn, so while he waited in the gas, his mask was altered to temporarily provide oxygen instead, and each member of the away team went through, borrowing the mask one at a time, before the mask was returned to normal function and returned to Kritassen. A short time later, they found their way blocked by a ravine, and T’rel cleared the gap with a rope, to allow others to pass more safely, though she sprained her ankle in the process.
Back on the Volant, K’mir spoke with Captain Shar Togsvik of the Thunderchild, a Tellerite who seemed quite perturbed. He appeared annoyed that K’mir was demanding his own mission be suspended, to help K’mir with theirs. As K’mir began speaking of the issues facing the Lormeans, Togsvik demanded to know why the Prime Directive was not applicable to the situation. For every point K’mir made, Togsvik had a counterpoint, until K’mir brought up the possibility that the situation facing the planet was artificial, from some unknown species. “Aaaah,” Togsvik nodded. “That is the defense you will want to lead with, if there is an inquest into this issue. It is by far your strongest argument. I will be there within three days, Captain, and I will be certain to help you shore up your legal defense if one is needed.” Captain Gradis Daal of the Venture, a Xindi of the arboreal species, was even more friendly, promising whatever aid they could to Captain K’mir and the Lormean people, saying they would follow K’mir’s lead on this, though they would not be able to safely arrive for ten days. Unless the away team could find a way to delay this, he would have aid of two other ships for only a handful of days.
The away team, deep underground, made their way past steam vents, though Faz was temporarily blinded and scalded as they did so. They soon found a collapsed cavern wall had opened a partial passage into a tunnel, one that had clearly been mined out, leaving perfectly smooth walls, leading to a turbolift of some sort. They took the turbolift, and found themselves in a vast chamber filled with alien technology, misfiring with shots of electricity. As Kritassen and Klynn investigated, aided by the partially blinded Faz, they came to a startling discovery: Orgun III had originally been in a different star system. It had somehow been transported to the Orgun system, thousands of years ago, and these devices, intended to help adjust for the shock to the system, could affect all levels of the planet’s physical state, from its atmosphere to its tectonic activities. It was breaking down from centuries, or possibly millenna, of neglect, and was directly responsible for the threat the planet was currently facing.
Even as the device threatened to break down further, causing eruptions of electricity or brief tectonic shifts, the team worked to understand the device’s controls and worked to repair what they could. With teamwork and effort, they managed to stabilize the device, and learned that they likely had six months of stability. After that, the device would begin to fail, and the planet would break apart completely.
With the device under their control, atmospheric disturbances ceased, and they were able to communicate their findings to Captain K’mir, and teleport back out. A science team was dispatched to investigate the strange machine.
Two weeks later, the Volant, the Thunderchild, and the Venture were each loaded with a first batch of Lormean refugees. They would be taking the refugees to a nearby system with an unoccupied Class-M planet, to start the relocation process and establish the new world. Several much larger colony vessels were being dispatched from Federation space, and were expected to arrive within three months, hoping to have the entire planet evacuated within the six month deadline they now faced. Faz, whose vision was long-since healed, explained to Yeoman Nala that he planned to remain with the Lormeans for now, to help facilitate their transfer. The Lormeans hoped, once stabilized, to begin investigating warp technology, so that they could someday join the Federation. Still, he noted, he would regularly be around the Shackleton Expanse. Perhaps he and Nala should exchange contact information and talk regularly… just so they don’t surprise each other again. Nala gave a small smile and nodded.
Moments later, those who had seen Q earlier were summoned to his courtroom again.
“So, finding loopholes in your precious Prime Directive, then?” Q sneered.
“It’s not about loopholes,” K’mir protested. “The Prime Directive isn’t a single binary with yes and no answers. It’s an ideal we challenge ourselves with, to uphold to the best of our ability, to guide us through difficult situations, when an easy answer is not clear.”
Q smirked. “Then we shall see how well it guides you in the time to come, Captain. I’ll be watching…” With another flash of light, the crew was returned to the Volant.
The Volant left the Orgun system to take its Lormean refugees to their new home.