Star Trek: Stargazer

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.

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JerichoBrown

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