Star Trek: Stargazer

On Ice
Try not to anger the local wild life!

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.

The Hunt for Kine-Uthra-Klul
The Key to surviving a Klingon Standoff is being in another sector!

The Stargazer crew arrives at Xendi Starbase 9. Congrats! It only took the crew 21 days – far better than anyone expected!

Stargazer is ordered to dock in XSB9’s main internal bay. The opening to the bay isn’t much larger than the Amazon herself. On the way in it’s fairly obvious that the main bay has been cleared out to make room. All the normal repairs are occurring in open space around the station. Several Murphs, tugs and tenders are in the area. Travel pods, repair pods and shuttles scurry from ship to ship and ship to station, making repairs and ferrying parts. The only other ship left in the bay is a freighter. The HUF Silverstone, Capt. Heaf Harga’s ship – the gentleman Stargazer rescued a few weeks ago.

Survivors from USS Kurzweil are moved to USS Vision (NCC 1530). The Miranda class commando transport has been redirected to XSB9 to treat the wounded and debrief the survivors – she is loitering in with the Murphs and other ships in the area, her crew is station side. Vision also brought one other gift: Commodore Drake. Drake has come to debrief the Stargazer command crew.

Drake has several messages to deliver. First, he wants to (begrudgingly) congratulate the crew on their endeavors. Second, he wants to convey Admiral Cho’s compliments, Admiral Cho is quite proud of the accomplishments of her experimental crew and relished reading the reports from Capt. Folla on the Harga Affair and the Kurzweil Trap. Third, and most importantly, Admiral Cho has placed the Stargazer and her crew fully under the command of Drake. With this being the case, and with Stargazer being reassigned as an ambassadorial transport, the current crew will be reassigned to other ships and a full and normal crew will be assigned to Stargazer.

“No more of this ‘Esigngazer’ business!” ~ Commodore Adam Drake

Drake dismisses the crew after any questions, reminding them that the officers are to report to the bridge at 700 hours, when they will be introduced to Ambassador Rata. Otherwise, the crew and officers have liberty on the station until assignments have been finalized.

That evening, Spanners invites the bridge officers to a drink at Dock 13. He’d invite DuCane, but he’s currently in surgery aboard Vision. As they are drinking, they are approached by Capt. Harga, who is very happy to see them! He has a PADD awaiting Capt. Folla’s approval. The PADD contains the bill for a new weapon for Stargazer, a large energy weapon to be placed in a ventral turret. The turret currently houses an obsolete sensor array. The OMB is paying for the gun’s transport and installation as a thank you to the valiant crew that freed them from such corruption. Dr. Andrews sends her compliments. She has named the weapon The Harga Cannon. As she predicted, it will have a low rate of fire, but it should be fairly accurate and it will deliver more punch than a salvo of torpedoes.

Capt. Harga introduces the ensigns to Urrok Zor, the bar owner and entertainer. Zor seems somewhat impressed that a crew comprised of ensigns is out this far with full permissions from Starfleet. He remarks on how interesting the last few days have been with not one but two Starfleet crews aboard the station, including a Commodore and now a Ferengi ambassador. Interesting times, indeed. Zor seems very curious about any good gossip the crew might be willing to part with – he promises to return anything good he might hear.

Almost immediately there is a spark between the large, green, chiseled singer and our Ensign Baristani

At 500 hours the next morning, orders arrive for the officers to be on the Stargazer bridge at 700 hours. They are to appear in their dress uniforms, accent color befitting their branch. Uniforms should be to inspection spec. There is a further standing order that all Stargazer crew will henceforth wear the standard duty uniform for starship officers & crew with accent color befitting their branch. The Ensigns are looking less like an experiment.

Gint rata700 hours, Stargazer bridge. The crew is assembled awaiting inspection. Before the turbo lift doors even open, a voice is heard screaming: “This Is An OUTRAGE!”

The doors slide open and out steps Drake and Ambassador Gint Rata, they are both quite irritated. The ambassador is dressed in a shiny red robe with enough latinum accents to buy a small moon.

“I will have your stripes,” the Ambassador bellows, “I’ll have your pips and whatever other insignia you wear framed on my office wall! I will have your uniform glued to the front of this ship! And I will have your hide tanned and I will use it as a rug in the pen where my children keep their pets! Do you understand what this ship represents?!”

“I do, but …” sputtered the Commodore.

“But nothing! This ship attacked our ship! Killed the whole crew! This ship has strained relations between our peoples for 20 years! And now you want me to travel in it?”

“Admiral Cho feels that we can turn this symbol of hostility into a symbol of peace.”

“She’s either an idiot or an insane prankster and I don’t appreciate being the butt of her joke, huuu-man!”

The Commodore gestures weakly to the officers “May I introduce you to the current crew of your ship?”

“‘The current crew?’”

“Yes. We are assigning a veteran, experienced crew for this important mission.”

“More experienced, you say? This is the same crew that was involved in that dust up in the Harga system, correct?” The Commodore nods. “They seem experienced to me. Granted I don’t approve of unionization of any sort, but I highly disapprove of getting caught skimming off the top! If you are going to embezzle from the store, make sure they find someone else’s hand in the till – 78th Rule of Acquisition!”

“Never-the-less, these ensigns will be reassigned.”

“I see. Please excuse us, Commodore.” Drake appears stunned. “You heard me – shoo!” When Drake is gone, the Ambassador turns to the officers. “So. What do you think of that guy?”

The ensuing conversation was perfectly professional on the part of the ensigns. The Ambassador sees through most of this, sees the dislike and distrust in their eyes. He also notes that while being professional, the crew is also honest – a trait he appreciates. The Ambassador reveals this is not the first time Drake has bad mouthed the crew and that he doesn’t care for the Commodore or Starfleet in general. The Ambassador further probed the ensigns on their feelings toward Ferengi. Once again, the crew was cool and professional. When done, the Ambassador called for Drake to come escort him.

The next morning, word comes down that the current crew of Stargazer would not be reassigned, they had been specially requested … by the Ambassador.

Rear Admiral Daniel Boyd, Star Fleet Intelligence, approaches Ensign Landon Dorgo while he is on Xendi Starbase 9. He has a proposition. Not an assignment, that would create an evidence chain; a proposition.

The Admiral’s proposal goes something like this: There is a certain amount of chatter that a certain freighter is passing near Xendi Starbase 9 on its way to Ferengi Alliance space. Not much is known about the freighter. But much is rumored. What is known is the name of the freighter; The Kine Uthra Klul. That is all that is sure at this point. Rumors have it that the ship is carrying a large amount of high value goods. A king’s ransom. Some are saying drugs, some say weapons. All say it’s illegal and heading for a Ferengi black market auction.

Kine Uthra KlulAdmiral Boyd’s proposal is that the crew of the Stargazer find all information possible on the Kine Uthra Klul while remaining covert. Until Starfleet Intelligence has a better picture of what is going on with this freighter, no further action can be taken. In the case the crew is found out, Starfleet will declare the Ensigns went rogue – it would certainly be plausible. Ensign Dorgo is to report his findings to Admiral Boyd directly.

Not long after Ensign Dorgo’s encounter with Rear Admiral Boyd, Dorgo has encounters with both Karn Zax and Drew Tarred. Both mercenaries relate that attempts have been made to hire them for escort duty for a freighter. However, in both cases, the pay was exceptionally low. Coincidence?

After much research, the crew discover that the Kine Uthra Klul is indeed in the area. The ship belongs to the Orion Syndicate and has a long history. It had a rendezvous with a Ferengi Murph. From there it was easy to trace the old freighter’s exhaust trail. In the research, it was revealed that the freighter was heading to Triple Quasar Point. Ensign Baristani was able to find the closest three quasars and run a line from each to a remote star system. The system was merely a star with a large asteroid field, however scans showed a lot of impulse drive activity, including some debris with more clues. While examining the area, a Klingon Bird of Prey, The Arm of Kraytok, decloaked in the field. Apparently, they were hunting for the freighter as well.

Bird of preyStargazer eventually finds Kine Uthra Klul and forces it out of warp. No sooner does the old hauler drop into normal space than two Klingon Birds of Prey and a Klingon D7 battle cruiser, all from House Duras, decloak and prepare to defend the freighter. In the next moment, four more Birds of Prey, this time from House Kraytok, drop their cloaks in opposition to the first Klingons. Weapons begin firing all around. Stargazer’s first shot is with the Harga cannon, which utterly obliterates the D7. Stargazer, using the freighter as cover, takes more shots at the remaining Klingons, the Klingons also continue to fire on each other. Soon, the numbers on all sides are less. The Bird of Prey Honored Blade of Kraytok takes a great deal of damage and bugs out. Stargazer mops up The Arm of Kraytok as well as the remaining Birds of Prey, leaving only the freighter.

An away team boards the freighter to find thousands of forced sleep tubes. Thousands of slaves are being transported to market – a king’s ransom indeed. Stargazer took the ship in tow and returned to XSB9, where the slaves were processed and freed.

For their efforts and heroism, Ellemir Baristani, Landon Dorgo and Surok were field promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade. Spanners was promoted to Crewman 2nd Class.

The Incredible Shrinking Crew
The Little Things Matter!

Leaving the Harga system, on the way to Xendi Starbase 9, the crew encounters a faint distress signal. The signal is audio and automated. The signal states:

The USS Kurzweil is in distress. Please proceed to coordinates. Coordinates follow.

The crew follow the automated coordinates to the Xendi Nah-Lil system. There they find a science vessel, the Kurzweil, in a decaying orbit around an M class planet, Nah-Lil 4. XO Ensign Landon Dorgo detects a strange energy signature emanating from the planet – so he calls for shields and to load photon torpedoes! The energy pattern is unlike anything they have seen before or anything on record.

Upon orbiting Nah-Lil 4, Stargazer is bathed in a beam from the surface. An amber light. The shields spark and sizzle but do are not damaged. Stargazer achieves a parking orbit next to the remains of the Kurzweil. Kurzweil is beat up, her nacelles appear charred, several sections are open to hard vacuum. The open areas do not seem to be the result of explosions, but of having been cut open, carefully. No life signs on-board. The distress signal isn’t coming from Kurzweil, her main comm antenna, deflector system and phaser system have been carefully un-installed and are missing.

The Kurzweil was reported lost in 2333, last seen about 350 light years from Xendi Nah-Lil studying sand mites on XR-GS-002. She was Captained by a respected Starfleet officer, Christine Hardy.

Analysis of the strange energy pattern is conducted. The energy from the planet shares the same pattern as the energy beam hitting the shields. The signal is artificial, but based on organic brainwaves, a very specific wave, found in the psionically gifted. It’s decided to drop the shields around the comm antenna and allow any resulting signal to enter a “fire-walled” system. Engineering Crewman “Spanners” Tavish created the fire-walled hardware and observes the results. His early observations show that something is forming in the fire-wall, an executable. Further analysis shows there is an artificial intelligence forming. The AI seems to be “tasting” the system, testing its boundaries. Eventually, the AI appears ready to bypass the fire-wall. Spanners disconnects the system from the network and even removes power. However, very shortly, the AI appears to figure out a way to generate its own power, then it finds a way to broadcast signal. In short order, it finds a way, undetected, to interface with Stargazer systems. The first system it “tastes” is the deck plating in engineering, making the crew lighter then throwing them to the ground. Quick thinking and skillful analysis by Ensign Ellemir Baristani stops the AI and restores gravity to several sections. The hardware containing the AI is then disintegrated with the transporter system. (Unknown to the crew, this was the same method the Kurzweil crew used to remove the AI from their ship, but too much damage had been done to save the ship.)

In order to understand the signal being received, Medical Officer Surok reaches out with his mind to the signal. All at once, it’s as if a thousand voices hit an impossibly high note in his head. The others watch as he staggers and clutches his head, unable to do much else. Quickly, Ensign Dorgo sedates his fellow ensign, breaking the link to the signal.

On the surface, on the northernmost continent, an energy field, roughly ovoid in shape, covers a 3 kilometer area. The automated distress signal is coming from the surface, inside this field and is quite faint. The crew decides to send two teams in shuttles to the surface, one to the north and one to the south of the energy field, flying in at tree top level. Unfortunately, both shuttles were touched by the amber beam. The shields boiled off almost instantly and before the crew knew what hit them, both shuttles had crashed.

Unscathed, both teams emerged from their shuttles to discover they had shrunk! Eventually they discovered they were a mere 10 centimeters tall. In short order the teams discovered the following: a) Something that appeared to be a building, at their scale, with Starfleet markings b) A back pack with a broken sample container, the sand mites once contained were loose and had not shrunk! c) The two teams had crashed relatively close together near the western edge of the ovoid shaped energy field. d) Comm badges no longer work.

The sand mites were agitated and appeared ready to attack, they stood directly between the two teams. A quick thinking Surok ordered one of the crewmen to toss Surok’s overloaded phaser into the pack of mites. The resulting explosion killed most of the mites and scattered the rest, the only casualty being Ensign Baristani’s uniform as she caught a sand mite corpse square in the chest.

The “building”, having no entrances on the ground level, appears to be something else to the crew. Spanners, recognizing it at the Emergency Distress Beacon from the Kurzweil (he read the markings on the side), is tasked to climb to the top to turn the thing off, keeping others from getting into trouble. Once at the top, Spanners discovers that this model of beacon comes with a powerful surface to orbit comm system. XO Dorgo climbs to the top to speak with Captain Folla, inform her of their situation. It’s discovered at this point that a transporter beam will not penetrate the energy field.

The party proceeds West, toward where the amber beam was observed to originate. After some walking, the dust in front of Ensign Baristani explodes! Globs of mud intermix with the ichor from the sand mite on her now thoroughly trashed uniform. Then, the dust explodes behind the party, throwing more mud. It’s pretty obvious they are in a rain shower. But this rain is deadly! The party seeks shelter amid some tall, broad leafed plants and rocks. No one is hurt.

The rain clears in a moment – a brief summer shower. The moment of serenity passes quickly, Crewman DuCane yelps in surprise as he is drug by his feet away from the party. Something is wrapped about his ankles! A green tendril … possibly part of one of the local plants? The party fires at the tendril as other tendrils pop up. Some make whipping attacks, others have thorns and what might be poison sacs! A melee ensues. Ensign Dorgo is able to free the Crewman. He then fires a disintegration blast at another of the plant’s tendrils, eliminating the plant. However, tendrils remain from another plant! The fight continues. Ensign Surok is entangled by a poison tipped tendril! He attacks it with a spray hypo. The sedative causes the surface of the tendril to wrinkle like a prune. Then, the tendril tightens, but the Medical Officer’s knowledge of martial arts allows him to recognize a nerve bundle, he is able to strike and paralyze the tendril – releasing himself.

Meanwhile, Dare-Devil DuCane has gotten himself entangled again. This time the plant has a tendril wrapped around DuCane’s head. The plant has the Crewman raises above it’s mouth, ready to drop him in for a meal. XO Dorgo, in an attempt to free DuCane, phasers the tendril. The Crewman is released, unfortunately he falls into the tri-toothed maw of the carnivorous plant! DuCane bellows in panic and pain, but fights on, as does the rest of the crew. Eventually, DuCane rips through the side of the plant, releasing the acidic contents of what passed for the plant’s stomach. DuCane lost his left arm and had chemical burns over anywhere his uniform didn’t cover. Surok was able to heal his burns and seal his wounds, but the arm will need a replacement.

Surok scanned the area for more dangerous plants or animals, but instead found faint humanoid life signs! The life signs are still quite a walk away from the “Death Weeds”. The walk is uneventful. Soon, the party comes upon the remaining crew of the Kurzweil, dressed in older red jacket uniforms, sheltering near a rock. Six are dead, the other eight are severely injured, one having lost a leg to one of the Death Weeds. Captain Hardy is alive, but has a badly broken arm & leg.

The survivors are happy to see the party, but are quite confused about the uniforms, not to mention a group of Ensigns rescuing them. Apparently the survivors used shuttles and escape pods to get to the surface, only to find the away team from XR-GS-002 fighting their own collected samples! The distress beacon appeared on the surface on its own, nearly killing the remaining crew as they fought the mites! As far as they are concerned, this all happened in the last few days, not thirty years!

Captain Hardy informs the PCs about a local structure, built to their scale, with automated defenses. The defenses zapped one of the currently dead crew, the Vulcan XO of the Kurzweil. It also zapped one of the human crew, apparently giving him psionic abilities but driving him mad in the process. The building is built of white shot with green marble in a classic column & arches style. It’s several meters on a side, rather large at this scale. Only one apparent entrance. In front of the entrance is a gravel fore court with several flat stepping stones. Apparently, the human crewman from Kurzweil stepped on the gravel, purple lightning jumped up killing the Xo and another crewman.

XO Dorgo opens his mind to the building, discovering a psionic library! Thought recordings from a lost civilization. The recordings detail the history and fall of the civilization and how they prepared a way to share their heritage with others. It’s decided that perhaps only the psionic members of the crew should check out the building as the lost civilization seemed to be quite arrogant.

Dorgo, Surok and Ovid approach the building. It’s determined that the stepping stones that are of the same white shot with green marble are the proper ones to walk on. This appeared to be the correct case as no one was injured. An inspection of the building, including Ovid climbing on the roof, revealed only one entrance, a large, ornate arch. Just passed the arch, there is a long corridor. Blades thrust out of the walls, swing from the ceiling, rise from the floor, buzzing and cutting the air to ribbons. A tossed stone bounced off one of the blades and shot back at the party. After much discussion, Surok simply walked down the corridor, the blades made way or passed through the party members without harm. Once all had reached the end of the corridor, the blades dissolved out of existence.

At the end of the corridor was a darkened room. When the party finally gathered, the lights came up revealing three doors. Each door had a different locking mechanism, one a padlock, one a combo tumbler, the last a keypad. Ensign Dorgo, catching on, simply tried opening one of the doors, which caused all the doors to vanish and reveal the museum!

Meanwhile Spanners and Ensign Baristani tried to find some way to contact Stargazer, eventually returning to the Distress Beacon, only to discover Stargazer isn’t answering. Was she even there anymore?

The museum contains thousands of artifacts. Beautiful works of art; paintings, pottery, statuary, holography – all depicting a willowy, birdlike species – similar to peacocks, cranes and flamingos. As the party explored the museum, they discovered a control room. The psis are once again scanned with an amber beam of light and again they hear the sopranos hitting the high note – but less this time and only for a moment. In the center of the room, what appears to be a cup, a decorated chalice, forms in midair. Then the cup is replaced by what appears to be a wooden ladle, maybe made from a gourd. The ladle is replaced with a mallet. The mallet fades out and a steak on a silver plate floats there for a moment. The amber light fades from the psis and a voice rings out “Language Pattern Identified.”

A holographic member of the lost species appears in a pink toga. It says the following:

“My species is gone. My civilization is dead. We saw our end and prepared. We left this collection to show we were once here. We put the building in a field outside the time stream. We shrank the building so the field would use less power. We have watched you grow. We knew you could defeat our tests. Thinking is more than problem solving. Thinking is more than analysis. It is trying the simple thing first. Why build a new building when you have an old one? Why conquer a new planet when the ones you have will do? Why make war when peace is less costly? There is much for you to learn here. Your scientists will study this building for a thousand years. However, there is one more test. Failure means this museum will be your tomb.”

The figure put up three feathered fingers and displayed a pleasant expression on its beaked face. XO Dorgo scanned the psychic library, finding this gesture indicated the number 4. After much discussion, the three psis asked two questions which caused the hologram to drop two fingers. Finally the party determined to ask “Please turn off the field.” The Hologram dropped his fist and congratulated the party on their intelligence. Both crews and the museum building returned to full size and Stargazer was now contactable.

Kurzweil isn’t salvageable, the main structure has been weakened, severe metal fatigue, she would likely break apart in-tow. Her orbit will eventually cause her to enter the atmosphere – sooner than was originally thought – she might cause a lot of damage on the surface. She should likely be destroyed. A plan to have Spanners build a new comm antenna connected to the Kurzweil computer system went off without a hitch, except for the fact that the amber beam never again connected to the ship. Eventually, Captain Folla ordered Kurzweil destroyed.

Spanners was able to conduct a little salvage from Kurzweil, including three Federation shuttles of older design; Matathias, Galahad and Merlin, also, 6 hover bikes.

The Graduates Part 2
Don't mess with the Union!

After the amazing events of the first part of our story, there were only loose ends to tie up … a cut Gordian Knot’s worth of loose ends!

Drew Tarred began our episode by calling for a parley. He was locked in the brig with several of his men, he is the leader of Tarred’s Tigers. He was a simple mercenary, his people flew the shuttles with the hot-shotted mining lasers that did no real damage. Sure, they scared people, and they set some fires and damaged some property, but no one got really hurt and certainly no one was killed. There was no profit left in the fight. Tarred was willing to trade what he knew for his freedom and the freedom of his men. In turn, they would bug out and cause no more trouble. The Crew, under Capt. Folla, agreed and Tarred called the Tiger’s main cruiser. Tarred’s Tigers left the system fast and noisy.

Meanwhile, at the mansion of the Governor Executive, Ensign Surok was still stalking around. At this point, a lot of action happened on the ground. The Romulan shuttle that had been camouflaged on the grounds of the mansion suddenly began to lift off. It took a shot at Stargazer in orbit and missed! With Stargazer on alert, Ensign Ellemir was able to shoot at the evading Romulans. The Romulan shuttle turned to run and attempted to cloak. However, with the recent damage from Stargazer, the shuttle was a sitting duck and Deb blew it to duranium particles.

A single escape pod exited the shuttle in its death throes. Stargazer was able to tractor the pod aboard, finding Romulan spy Ralic inside. He was unwilling to talk, but seemed quite smug about his future. A moment later, a pair of gun ships dropped out of warp. The same gun ships Stargazer had chased away from Harga1 just the day before. The ships hailed and were answered. On screen, a Cardassian, Karn Zax – who immediately began to negotiate. Knowing he was out-gunned, seeing his employer in the hands of the Federation, Zax offered to leave the system causing no further problems in exchange for the return of his men who had been cooling their heels in the brig since the encounter on the station. Again, the exchange was made, freeing a cell in the brig for the now less-than-smug Ralic.

With the combined information from Tarred & Zax, plus what had earlier been gathered, the Crew, with help from the OMB, conducted a coup! Bloodless, and frankly rather quiet, but a coup none the less. The team conducted Tay and his brother Ellit to separate rooms. A live feed from Ellit’s room was passed to Tay’s room. A feed from both rooms was fed to a third room containing members of the OMB and Marizka. These feeds were also passed to the state media. Ellit was asked questions under the premise that Tay was being investigated. Ellit, seeing the trap, immediately gave his brother up, even making up a few things. Tay, of course, denied and gave up his brother and the Romulan spy, Ralic. The union members in the other room roared with horror and anger and had to be kept from storming the interrogation rooms to kill the brothers. In short order, a call came up for Marizka to take her place as Governor Executive and have her brothers arrested and tried. Largely peaceful protests, calling for the above, broke out system wide. The OMB was exonerated and Marizka took her place at the HMC.

Marizka made good on her promise, delivering 4 shuttlecraft – all civilian models but working; two 4 person models, one 6 person and one 8 person. Technicians from the OMB also boarded Stargazer for some repair work. They were able to repair the major battle damage, perform some minor upgrades, restore shields and get the old girl back to a reliable Warp 3. Warp 3 might seem slow, but it was discovered that had the ship conducted ANY more warp speed activity, they would have lost their Bussard collectors and this would have likely created a cascading failure throughout the vessel.

The crew also asked Dr. Andrews to build a new weapon from Hargatite 45. She agreed and said she would let Stargazer know when she had more information.

The Graduates
Out of the pan into the fire!

The Ensigns have graduated Starfleet Academy – June 1st, 2364. Congratulations!

Unbeknownst to our innocent Ensigns, they are about to be tossed into a political imbroglio.

Admiral Lydia Cho caught wind that the USS Stargazer had been gifted back to Starfleet. She also knows that a certain Ferengi Ambassador wishes to have his own ship, provided by Starfleet and crewed with Ferengi. Cho, guided by her dark sense of humor, fully aware of Stargazer’s past, arranges to give Stargazer to the Ambassador, likely hoping to insult him and back him into a corner of giving him exactly what he asked for.

The Enterprise is scheduled to rendezvous with a tug. The tug will tow Stargazer to Xendi Starbase 9. But, Cho thinks, why waste a perfectly good tug on such a menial task? Instead, she has a whole new crop of Ensigns and Able Crew. Why not assign a skeleton crew? They can take 30 days to limp the ship under impulse to Xendi Starbase 9, make some repairs and clean up on the way. When Stargazer arrives, she will be fitter and will have a crew with some experience under their belts.

Cho passes her commands to Commodore Adam Drake – who is not amused. Drake, officious and bureaucratic, takes his bitter pill orders and gets to work. While he might not agree that a bunch of untried Ensigns and green crew should get their own star ship, he picks ten “Officers” and twenty crew, issuing orders with haste, hoping the orders arrive before the grads get a chance to poison themselves with excess celebration.

The Graduates indeed get their orders and rally on the USS Hood. The Hood makes haste to the Xendi Sabu system while the tenderfoots bury themselves in documentation, studying up on Constellation class star ships.

On arrival, a mere 72 hours after graduation, the Grads look out the view port to see not only Enterprise in all her flag ship glory, but also the storied Amazon, proud sister of Valkyrie; USS Stargazer.

All aboard Picard’s previous command, it’s obvious the old girl needs some TLC. She has fire damage throughout. She has had no maintenance for 9 years – and this becomes the mantra of the day. Her systems are in tact, but not trustworthy. The only shuttles were a pair of small, two man pods. Commodore Drake lays out the plans and orders: get her cleaned up and get her to Xendi Starbase 9 – in thirty days.

Enterprise, Hood and Drake are gone at high warp as quick as they arrived. The Ensigns set about deciding who’s Captain and who takes what spots. Ensign Jake Dwyer claims Captain as his right and is quickly shouted down. Ensign Folla Micci throws her hat in the ring and finds it full of votes. Captain Folla picks Ensign Landon Dorgo for XO, Ensign Ellemir Baristani for Helm, Ensign Talley Williams for Ops. Ensign Surok teamed up with Doctor Melissa Boyd in Sick Bay.

Impulse engines to full, course laid in for Xendi Starbase 9. Three hours into the trip, a faint distress call comes through, audio only. The call is from Harga1 – a station in the nearby Harga system. “Nearby” by Warp standards. Harga1 is under attack, or so claims Alice Andrews, the lead researcher on the base. At Warp 6, Stargazer is an hour away. Dr. Andrews tells the crew she might still be alive by the time they get there.

On arrival, Stargazer finds Harga1 under attack by three corvettes. They are small, 12 meters long, distressed, dull rust in color. They appear to be old Ferengi designs. The station’s shields are at about 10%, the corvettes are attacking irregularly, apparently just to keep the shields at low power.

When contacted, the attackers claim to be “The Fist of the Organized Miner’s Brotherhood”. They demand the station drop its shields to attone for Federation crimes against the Hargans. The crew refuses. Next, the attackers offer that if the shields are dropped, they will transport over unarmed protestors only. Again, the crew refuses.

The crew works out a plan to shuttle people through the shield. Once aboard, the crew discoverers the reserchers are not alone. Aboard are three others. When discovered, they are Hargans. After a short firefight, the invaders surrender – and it’s discovered that the invaders are in Hargan disguises, they are really … Cardassians!

Inspecting the Cardassians, they discover isolinear chips containing research as well as samples of Hargatite 45. Upon inspecting the base, they find a fourth member of the raiding party. Apparently, he tried to transport just as the shields went up. Whatever was left of him was a cooked, awful mess.

Back aboard the ship, the Cardassians are tossed in a cell. Captain Folla has managed to destroy one corvette and chased the other two off. Only a few minutes later, a distress call comes from a nearby ship, a Hargan frieghter moving Hargatite ore. The frieghter is under attack. On arrival, Stargazer observes several small shuttles blasting at the larger ship. However, none of their shots seem to do any damage. The shuttles turn on the starship and still do no damage. The shuttles have the letters “OMB” scrawled on the side – the Hargans don’t natively speak English. Stargazer destroyed a few and chased off the rest, much to the relief of the freighter captain. The captain railed against these attacks, especially since they were using the OMB as a cover and he was a member of the OMB!

A little later, a call comes in from a female Hargan we later find out is named Wen. She is secretary to the Governor Exceutive of the Hargan system and the Harga Mining Corporation, Tay Harga. Governor Executive Harga invites Captain Folla and the crew of Stargazer to a formal dinner at the mansion on Harga 3. The Captain, Mike, Deb, Bill and crewmen Michael DuCane and Sean “Spanners” Tavish put on their dress uniforms and beam down for cocktails.

The Governor Executive proves to be the perfect politician. His answers are not answers at all and he never takes a side. However, he does promise to allow the crew to speak with his brother, the second in command of the HMC and governor of Harga 2, Ellit Harga.

While at dinner, one of the crew was approached by the Minister of Trade, Orin Harga, who asked for a meeting at his office at 2 AM.

After dinner, a drunken Spanners had made a few connections while he was at dinner. He lead the crew to a shuttle parking structure in the middle of town. A lift brought the group to the lowest sub-basement level. There, parked in military rows, were 50 shuttles, each with “OMB” quickly painted on the sides, exactly like what they had just fought. Spanners marvelled drunkenly that the mining lasers attached to the shuttles made a very loud noise and a big flash of light, but they did almost no damage – they might set something on fire, but nothing else. To prove it, DuCane stood in front of the laser. Spanners fired it and sure enough, DuCane’s jacket caught fire but that was all. The group proceeded to disable all the shuttles to keep them from flying.

The crew attended the meeting with the Minister, only to discover he was not alone. Instead, he was with Marizka – niece to Tay & Ellit and leader of the Organized Miner’s Brotherhood. She roundly denied that she or any of her people were responsible for these attacks. They were peaceful, only looking for better pay, benefits and safety standards for the miners and pilots working for the HMC. She assured the team that her people wouldn’t attack their own people, like the ore frieghter that had been attacked earlier, they certainly didn’t have any issues with the Federation, other than feeling their cause had been ignored. She also thought the “OMB” on the sides of the shuttles was just a picture, a scribble – she didn’t realize those were letters from another launguage. Mike worked out a deal with Marizka to trade the location of the 50 armed shuttles for some shuttles for the Stargazer. Those have yet to be delivered.

While talking, the crew asks how they can get access to the financial records of Tay & Ellit. Marizka and the Minister look at each other conspiritorily. The Minister places a call to Wen, the secretary, who apparently has a crush on the minister. She arrives and walks the team through the financials. Tay recieved a large sum of gold pressed latinum, or at least bonds for that latinum. Those bonds were issued from a Romulan bank. Ellit had made several large cash payments. One amount about once a month for the last six months. A larger amount about six months ago and a similar large amount last month. The larger amounts together would have paid for nearly 100 shuttles. However, all of Ellit’s payments together wouldn’t have equalled what had been paid to Tay.

Mike attempted to infiltrate Ellit’s house on Harga 2. He found the computer and discovered Ellit was going to a meeting. Mike followed Ellit and saw Ellit pass a container of gold pressed latinum to someone flying one of the armed shuttles at the parking structure back on Harga 3.

Meanwhile, Deb was analyzing the sensor logs from the station for travel patterns in the system. She found the normal commercial traffic. She found the three corvettes. She found the attack shuttles. And … she found a Romulan Scout that uncloaked and landed on Harga 3 – on the property of the Governor Executive.

Bill infiltrated the grounds of the mansion. He was able to get sensor data and video of Romulan soldiers on the grounds of the Governor Executive’s mansion – damning evidence!

Meanwhile, Deb’s tracking caught the armed shuttles, leaving a patch of asteroids where they seemed to regularly hide and head for the station. Stargazer intercepted, destroying several, capturing five pilots and scaring off a couple.

That’s a lot for less than a week after graduating – and still there is more to come!


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