Friday, June 7, 2013

USS Carter 3

3: The Stars Overhead, the Stones Underfoot

The Carter arrives at the Sagan Observatory just in time to rescue it from a Klingon attack. During the attack Dr. Knox discovers a strange sensor blip from Charity V. This proves to be the drive compartment of a terran slowboat with records that the crew compartment was launched into the Burning Nebula some centuries ago. Their plot should be easy to track, and the nebula will have slowed them down -- can the Carter rescue them?


Hook:

The Carter arrives in the Charity system (home of the Sagan observatory and a lot of rocky planetoids) and drives off a Klingon vessel (which has no Earthly reason to be in this sector of space). While this is going on the Historian PC is on the Sagan, where she picks up senor blip from Charity V – evidence of a ramship drive section. Before she can complete an analysis she is rescued from a console explosion by an Orion (who also has no earthly reason to be here). The Orion blasts the hell out of the Saga controls and then vanishes via a non-transporter technology. The D5 will escape into the Burning Nebula nearby – a Nebula type that messes with sensor arrays.

Plot turn 1:

The Carter is now supposed to be at the Historian’s disposal (and might also want to chase the Klingon) with orders to expedite her work. However, Dr. Cotton of the Sagan pleads with them to stay nearby (within a light minute) while he effects repairs on his crippled station, which will take months. Starfleet is rerouting the USS Mowbrey to the Sagan’s position, but that will be a while. This is a simple moral conflict for the players, and so see how much they’ll push for autonomy. An NPC officer (Lt Siegfried) on the Carter will push for not moving away from the Sagan, just to give the GM a voice of the position the players are not likely to take.

Pinch 1:

eventually the Carter, or a shuttlecraft of same, will head to Charity V and investigate the Historians possible slowboat. Charity V is a rapidly spinning hunk of rock, roughly cylindrical and orbiting lengthwise - it looks kind of like a knobbly pickle hurled end over end through space. The rotation was undoubtedly caused by some impact. The side with the impact crater has a high radiation level, but that proves nothing: someone must go down and look inside the crater. Break out the spacesuits!

Inside the crater, however, is the drive section of the Gamma One. The remnants are still radioactively 'hot' and shouldn't be touched unless necessary, turning the descent into an obstacle course. Inside is one figure in a bulky, old style space suit. He's dead, but if his suit is intact it would have protected any recordings he made from the radiation. All they have to do is get his body out of the hot zone and they can access the data (as he does have no only his tape but the trajectory tape of the Gamma One).

Midpoint:

The recovered body reveals several things: the occupant of the space suit died from the impact with the planet, but his suit held. He was going to die from the radiation poisoning build up in his system. His suit recorder details his awareness of this: he knew he had absorbed too much when he'd tried to shut the drive section off. Alas, the reaction was fusing out of the control, the controls had frozen after that massive ‘bump’ and their only hope was cutting away from the drive section. He volunteered to be the one to do it as since he had already drawn the short straw on trying to shut down the reactor. No sense in the others sharing his fate. He mentions the great lengths he was going to protect the suit recorder and the drive tapes from the radiation, jury rigging the force field generator to protect him during the impact. This is in the hope that their radiation signature will attract other ships, give them an opportunity to find him, and through his trajectory tapes, find the Gamma One - assuming the gasses of the nebula don't slow them down… This is Ships Engineer Obidiah Smith, signing off…

They now have even more reason to leave the Sagan: the crew of the Slowboat is in a long-term jeopardy. Assuming that nothing else has happened to it, they're no longer at relativistic speeds and are either at dead stop at this point or a wide orbit at this one. Both would mean nearly a century of real time for the conscious crew and their decaying life support equipment. Unless they reached a planet, which is possible… Someone needs to check on this, and any delay might be too late.

Alternately, they've been out there for a century, so anything that was going to happen to them has happened, and they aren't worth risking the real lives of the Sagan's crew. This is, naturally, the position that Lt. Sigfried will make. In this case, he's right, but there's no way to know that.

In either case, the burden gets easier when the USS Mowbery & Captain Reynolds arrives on Stardate 7745, a little early. Of course, he arrives with a damaged ship - the Mowbry hit a subspace rift and sustained some gravimetic sheer damage. Nothing he can't fix, but it is enough to raise some concerns, especially from Dr. Cotton. Still, I expect it will get the captain to give the order to go into the Nebula.

The nebula should be a spooky experience, with swirls of blue, green and purple mist that surround the ship, and the sudden static on the sensors before the system compensates. The ship suffers a slight bump on actual entry as well, but nothing major. Scanners will report functional, but the Communications system will go dead.  “Switching to radio communication" comes from Lt. Sigfried. "We now have a 30 minute delay on communications with the Mowbry, and that will quickly become worse. Recommend we set up a recording probe to launch back to the Charity system if something happens, Captain. That would  be much faster than relying on this primitive radio bandwidth."

After another day the science officer will have news- the ships sensors have detected the first Hugora-class pocket of the nebula, directly in their path. Entering it would likely render the sensors useless. What should we do? (Note, the Hugora class parts of the nebula are the low end of the spectrum - red, yellow and orange mist.) Again this is tension related color. It’ll be another day in the nebula before something else happens.

Pinch 2:

This is when we get two things on the sensors: One is another Hugora class Nebula, the other is are some sort of metal inside the barest edges of the Hugora Nebula (actually, the subspace rift is drawing the nebula into it…). The Carter will have to come closer to the Nebula to get a better read on the materials, or use the tractor beam to pull them closer.

Once they do so, they get caught in a Gravimetric Sheer generated by the subspace rift that's holding the Gamma One's remains, and is partially hidden by the Hugora Nebula (the rift will ride up the tractor beam). The rift does moderate damage to the ship and will short out one random ship console. The crew has one minute before they take another mess of damage, and that time they have to pull out from the rift - especially since any second now they'll be inside the Hugora nebula - and blind - as well! Unfortunately, the damage to the Engineering sector has crumpled several main conduits and frozen the backup. Someone needs to go into the Jefferies Tubes and manually open the valve, then make corrections to the computer flow.

Plot turn 2:

Once the Carter frees itself from the Rift they’re in a quandary: the Historian was able to pick up enough from the sensors inside the rift that the life support compartments probably aren't present, and that the Gamma One probably followed a three stage propulsion system. The wreckage could contain valuable clues as to their mission as well as the lives of the colonists. Plus, they've come all this way. Lt. Sigfried, of course, advocates against doing anything that will draw them back into that mess, especially since they're already damaged.

They have a couple of options: like doing direct shield modulations before going in, which should protect them, or extending the shields over a shuttle to get people closer inside. The nature of the Hugora means a visual confirmation, as the sensors aren't reliable and therefore a probe will be of little value - it could record visual sightings, but that's it, and direct control is out because of the Burning nebula's blocks on subspace communication - they'd have to rig it for radio control and then hope that the time delay doesn’t make the search impossible, or that the probe could be protected enough to resist the sheer (but, being a compact and solid piece of equipment, it probably would survive for a short time).

If it looks like they're about to leave the area, that's when the Klingon D5 IKS Kren shows up. Otherwise, the Klingons will wait inside the Hugora until the Carter sends people into the rift or re-enters itself to take maximum advantage of the situation. In any case they're not leaving here until they deal with the Klingons. When the Klingons show up, they float there ominously for a few seconds to give the federation some time to meditate on their doom before opening fire. Of course, our heroes will do nothing of the sort.

Resolution:

Following the tour bus model I don't really know what they'll do here, because so much depends on what they have already done. All I can do is roll with the punches from here.
It is possible for them to use the Carter's two tractor beams to link the D5 with the Subspace Rift, which would throw the Klingons for a loop. They could also fire the tractor beams full power into the Rift with their modulated shields and hope to ride out the explosion. Either of these are good resolutions to the scenario.

They could just try to fight, but I'd rather they think things out. They have serious advantages in the brains department, and more time to study the rift.

They could make a break for the Hugora nebula, but inside they'd find that the IKS Kren can track them through it! This will be a nasty shock that shouldn't kill them, but it does mean that the Nebula isn't the answer.


They could just run, but the Kren will follow. They need to destroy the Klingon ship - alternately, they could launch the probe ahead of them at Warp 9, then follow up a best speed along their safe track. If they manage to make warp 8 they can get back to the Sagan and the Mowbry in 45 minutes (71 minutes at Warp 7), while the probe would have beaten them by 15-30 minutes, giving time for the Mowbry to set up an ambush and summon the USS Aerie, the Andorian vessel in the area. Let them make a quick plan on this, but anything like this will work, getting the Kren caught in a crossfire.