The Season Two opener sees a change to the crew. A young Klingon Ensign, Quacag of House E’lek, joins the Security department. Updates have been made to Stargazer as well as a laundry list of repairs. Most notably a change to the Harga Cannon that allows for a wide, short range beam instead of the high power long range beam.
Rear Admiral Daniel Boyd from Starfleet Intelligence invites the crew to Vision for a mission briefing. Intelligence has it that a Romulan General, Travik, and his staff were captured by a group of Breen raiders. The Breen are holding the Romulans in an interrogation facility on a rogue planet. SI wants the crew to free the General and get him back immediately for a debriefing.
The Romulans are participating in this operation, code named Operation: WINTERHAWK. They have loaned a cloaked shuttle to the effort. SI instructs Captain Dorgo to pick a team of six and go.
Why is this happening? Apparently the Romulans have had several encounters with the Breen and do not wish another. They have asked the Federation to do this as a favor. When the Romulans ask for a favor – the Federation Diplomatic Corps has little choice but to allow the Romulans to be indebted to them.
The interrogation facility is on a moon in orbit of Rogue 13597, a gas giant sitting in the middle of space. Six moons orbit along with two large rings of debris. Gamma is the largest moon and is L class – barely habitable with a limited ecosystem. In short, Gamma is a big ice ball. The interrogation facility is located on Gamma. At the beginning of the mission, this is all SI has on the moon.
The loaner Romulan shuttle arrives, it is evaluated in short order by Spanners, his report: “Auch! It’s a ruddy pile o’garbage, Cap’n!” The shuttle is a conglomeration of savaged bits, barely space worthy. It is more a housing for the cloaking device than anything. However, the cloak is the trick – turns out they strapped on a cloak made for a MUCH larger vessel. A vessel even larger than Stargazer. Captain Dorgo orders the cloak installed on Stargazer and the shuttle stowed in a hanger.
Stargazer makes the trip to the rogue system under cloak without issue. Once in the system, several observations are made. Gamma is quite a puzzle. The magnetosphere of the moon interferes with the magnetosphere of the gas giant. This causes ionization and effects much like the aurora borealis on Earth – this is the only natural light on the moon’s surface.
Active scanning will tip the crew’s hand, however a lot can be found by passive scan. The moon has an active constellation of detection satellites. The satellites are armed and mobile, upon detection, they would likely swarm on any unfriendly ship and attempt to destroy it. The crew find eventually they have entered the active detection range of the satellites and there is no reaction. Apparently, the cloak is doing its job.
Further passive scanning of Gamma’s surface reveals a lot about the weather. The atmosphere is quite ionized and turbulent. Winds race at 90 kph on the surface and much faster at higher elevations. Taking a shuttle down through the ionization and wind would be a serious chore, likely a fatal one. Either way, the shuttle would be instantly detected as soon as it hit atmo.
As the crew looked on, a Breen vessel decloaked in orbit. The Breen use a ground based field generator to clear the ionization, allowing the ship to pass relatively easily. Effectively, they have a natural gate keeping prisoners in.
Further scans reveal there is a very obvious anti-transport field in place covering about 9 square kilometers. This appears to be the whole installation. The surface is so cold that even through the ionization any heat shows up like a plasma fire in a dark room. It appears there is a structure with 10, maybe 12 individuals. Just from their temperature, they are Breen. A single non-Breen heat signature is in one room of the structure surrounded by three or four Breen. The temperature of the individual is high but fluctuating, as if it were under some stress.
Nearby is the larger set of structures. It appears to be a fence line with six towers – the towers have a low heat signature, higher than surface temp, but they do not appear occupied. Inside the apparent fence are eight buildings surrounding a large courtyard. Those buildings are, by comparison, much warmer, but would still be chilly by human standards. The individuals in these buildings are much warmer. Body temp alone suggests a few humans, maybe a couple Ferengi, the Romulans and … Klingons. About 45 or 50 individuals in total. Several individuals seem to be standing in formation in the yard – doing close order drills? Calisthenics? Difficult to tell.
About half a klick from these buildings is what appears to be a landing pad. The pad is heated just above freezing to keep it clear, plus it is surrounded by landing lights, making it quite obvious. From residual engine heat and other forms of radiation, it’s possible to see there are four ships on the pad; a freighter – possibly a troop carrier, and three small craft. These appear armed. Shuttles? Fighters?
Three teams of three Breen patrol the perimeter at a radius of 3 klicks and five more heat signatures make fast circles at 5 klicks out. Airbikes?
A transporter beam might be detected, but certainly less of a chance than a shuttle. A passive scan detects a weather anomaly. A super cold front is hitting a less cold front, this is creating a vortex, something of an “eye” – it’s small and it will get about 16 klicks from the camp. It will hide some of the transport beam.
The crew attempted to transport down the ionization opening when the Breen ship again rose to leave. However, the beam lost cohesion and were it not for the expert ministrations of Ovid, the transportees would have been lost. By this time, the vortex “eye” had moved off to about 25 kilometers. This was still the most likely landing and preparations were made to drop six crew, their gear, explosives and six airbikes. (As you might remember, these had been liberated from USS Kurzweil in The Incredible Shrinking Crew – a.k.a. “The Kurzweil Trap”.) The crew made a point to wear the best cold gear they could replicate as surface temperatures were -15, however, they wore no Federation or Starfleet insignia. In case they were caught they wanted to have plausible deniability.
(Unbeknownst to the crew that were transported to the surface, the Breen detected the transport beam. They immediately cut off communications from Stargazer and a firefight ensued. The fight took an immediate bad turn for Lt.JG Folla as she was totally out-gunned. She faced six Breen cruisers. She immediately turned to run. Ovid, while attempting to reroute the disabled #3 nacelle, was nearly sucked into space, saved only by a structural integrity field that popped up. Air running out, he found the closest escape pod and jettisoned himself from the ship. Stargazer left the fight fast and noisy.)
On the surface, the crew discovered that there are some features; low plants. The plants are only 10 to 15 cm tall. The stem is woody, about 5 cm in diameter. Each stem is topped with one or two wide, grayish leaves. The leaves are thick and leathery. The plants dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. They appear to be using the aurora for photosynthesis. A six limbed creature with gray and white fur, like a furry star fish, could be seen scuttling in a furious whirling motion, sliding along the ice, from plant to plant. Now and then the “Furstar” stops to wrench off a bit of a leaf and shove it under its body.
Not long after the crew begins their trek toward the installation, the forces guarding the facility begin angling toward them. The airbikes come first. The crew begins firing on the incoming bikes only to discover Gamma has a surprise; the Furstars apparently react to weapons fire by attacking it. They fly up and impact the weapon or the wielder. A circle of fangs on the underside inject an itching agent and, it was later discovered, embryos! The crew battles valiantly. Even with incoming local wildlife, the first three bikes go down one at a time. The last two Breen come at once. One takes out Ensign Quacag and his bike is destroyed. (The Breen, for its part, took four Furstars and crashed.) The other Breen is dealt with and after some quick first-aid by Captain Dorgo, Quacag mounts one of the armed Breen airbikes.
The ground forces have come together and dug in a bit in one location. The initial plan by the crew was to fly around their rather ineffectual Maginot line. The inscrutable and unpredictable Breen had one trick up their sleeve: a rocket launcher. The first rocket homed in on the Captain and he took it out in flight. This caused the crew to turn and fight. The fire fight resulted with defeated Breen and the loss of two more bikes. While the crew tended their wounds, the Breen fighters were launched.
The fighters closed the distance, flying low and fast. They were armed with full sized torpedoes. These they began to launch. The Captain decided to dig in himself and start sniping at the incoming weapons and fighters. The others took turns firing and dodging as well. It turns out phaser beams impacting the fighter’s shields created enough of a light show to stimulate the Furstars. In turn, their furry, fiery impacts created enough stimulus to incite others to hurl themselves at the shields. When the Captain decided to fire everything in his weapon at once at the fighter, this created enough of a light show to attract dozens of Furstars. In the end, with the aid of the furry, ice scooting star-fish, the fighters were destroyed. Once again, the crew was heading toward the installation, two to a bike.
A quick firefight at the main building took out two of the heavy stunners in the towers, the comms array and four more Breen armed with stunners. Entering the building found the Breen in charge, Thot Vran, holding a phaser to the head of Romulan Commander Mellat, General Travik’s adjutant. The Commander was obviously bruised and bloodied from having just gone through a vicious interrogation session. The Captain wasted no time and stunned the Breen from the hip.
The facility was quickly examined. The tower guns and fences were disabled, albeit with some difficulty due to the Breen language and computer controls. A padd was found on Thot Vran’s person, the padd contained notes on the interrogations. The Romulans, especially General Travik, were thought to have close ties to the Ferengi. The General was tracked down by finding a human cargo vessel that traded with some Ferengi. The Ferengi in turn traded with a Bird of Prey captained by Commander Prag of House Glark. Prag had recently transported General Travik and his retinue to Cardassia for talks. All of these ships had been captured and the crews interrogated here on Gamma. A rescue mission from House Glark was also captured. Some captives were tortured to death for information on their ties to Ferengenar.
Notes mention tracking down Travik, he was thought to have close ties to Ferengenar and might lead the Romulans to intervene. Further notes show Travik denied having ties or even dealings with Ferengenar. He volunteered time and again that he couldn’t have cared less about the Ferengi.
There is a directory on the padd titled KRILL SAUSAGE – the UT was obviously still not doing so well. Information in this directory points to a future direct Breen assault on the Ferengi. The plan is simple: pillage and abandon. There is even a trade agreement for Ferengi slaves with the Orion Syndicate.
The Breen are planning to go to war.
The prisoners are in bad shape but are still unbroken. The Romulans are the worst for wear, they have been most recently interrogated. All prisoners wear shock collars. If asked, Prag will volunteer:
“We have tried to escape. The tower guns are set for heavy stun. They heal most of our wounds. They won’t let us die! We are without honor!”
The prisoners have organized into one cohesive military unit. The highest ranked, Travik, is in command. The Klingons did this before the Romulans arrived to keep up their morale. The Romulans agreed to participate because it was a good idea and with a few exceptions they are in command.
Third in command is the Klingon captain, Commander Prag.
The crew discovers at this point that they cannot contact Stargazer. It is decided to load all of the captives and the crew on the troop transport, demolish the facility and leave the system. As a distraction, the satellite constellation is set to begin firing at random, then swarm in on anything hit. This works well enough to allow the transport to make a short warp jump. A search is made for Stargazer only finding Ovid in his escape pod. The transport is aimed at Xendi Starbase 9 and they are off at the ships’s top speed: Warp 3.
Admiral Boyd is happy to have his quarry, but unhappy that the crew decided to install the cloaking device on Stargazer. Boyd insists the shuttle and cloak are reunited and returned to the Romulans. General Travik, conversely, accepts the shuttle but puts the cloak on permanent loan to the Stargazer crew.
Capt. Dorgo raised Quacag in rank to Lieutenant Junior Grade.