Wednesday, June 19, 2013

USS Carter 8

8: Gamma One

the Carter, in the face of mounting threats from the Klingon/Orion and now Terabian alliance, re-enters the Burning Nebula to discover a staging area planet that not only houses Klingons and Orion Syndicate members, but also the Gamma I survivors *and* remnants of the Silicon Empire. Everything comes to a head in this season finale!


Hook

The Carter bursts back into the 23rd century through a separate subspace rift after an incredibly harrowing trip through time Almost immediately upon their return they detect two things: synchronization from the buoys indicating that the 13 weeks have passed and the radiation of a destroyed warp core reaching them from nearby.  Investigating that reveals the remnants of a not overly advanced ship that was destroyed by superior firepower, as well as a distant lifepod that still holds some survivors.

Those people turn out to be Betazeds, and they say their ship was destroyed by Terabains! For added problems, their lifepod is damaged, and the only thing holding it together is their shields (Betazeds don’t yet have transporters). Hence, the Carter has to pick them up, as they can’t drop their shields for transport.

Plot Turn 1

This is an information gathering scene, in which the Carter finds out where they are (Still in the same sector, thankfully) and what’s been happening. The following information becomes available and is corroborated from various sources

1) The Carter was missing, but not presumed dead as yet (Star Fleet has a minimum of 1 year on that…). The Carter was last reported in the Sin Expanse, but given current events they have only re-routed some small ships into the area while posting a general alert for other ships.

2) The presence of the Betazed crewmember got the Betazeds involved, they have been sending out ships for additional searching, and for additional patrols.

3) The Betazed are still dealing with Terabian revenge/terrorist cells, and the leader of one was broken out of jail by the same Orion who was involved in the Attack on the Sagan in Ep 1

4) The Klingons have stepped up their raids on the space lanes around these parts, stretching Fed resources even thinner, but the raid that destroyed the Betazed ship didn’t follow Klingon tactics, and the flight recorder/crew interview shows why – it was Terabians!

5) Analysis of the Attack pattern leads one to believe that the Klingons, at least, are attacking from within the Burning Nebula. (Really skilled rolls or good questions will reveal that the likely center is near where the Gamma I should be.)

The obvious thing for the Carter to do is to head into the Nebula and find the source of those attacks. The Mowbery would go, but it lacks the sensor suite and is on picket duty regardless. The Aerie is on its way, but it was quite distant. The Commonwealth is guarding Terabia. Other than much less defensible ships, the Carter is it for the time being.

Pinch 1

The Carter makes its return to the Burning Nebula, this time with fewer constraints on their speed and course of action. It should still be a creepy place, including the sudden static as subspace radio dies upon entry. The clouds loom ominously, and anywhere could house a Klingon or Orion vessel. The theory that the Orions have a map of the nebula is a good one, but wrong – what the Klingon ships have is a retro-fitted Champollion sensor suite that lets them navigate the nebula with fewer hazards, something the Carter currently lacks. Regardless the threat does not come from a Klingon ship, but from a tracking mine field, set as a defensive barrier by the Klingons, which the carter might or might not stumble into. The mines are actually lurking torpedos, which if the Carter gets too close too will lock on and launch at them at a high warp.

Again this should feel like a submarine sequence (hence, the mine field) and tests will include sensors, helm control, tactical and maybe science.  There’s a proto-star nearby and the Carter’s shield will hold against it longer than the mines will, and the Carter could dive into that to destroy them. There’s also one of the non-sensor fields, which the Carter could use to break the torpedo lock. Regardless, once through the mine field the Carter will discover…

Midpoint

…A world that had 4 Klingon ships in orbit, and a moon that isn’t actually a moon – it’s a hollow, silicate dodecahedron, not that the carter can immediately see that because the structure is clouded by particulate matter from the nebula, and is leaving behind a void ring in the nebula. There is also a strong energy signature between the planet and the moon coming from a building which, to no one’s surprise, looks like one of the buildings from the Easter Egg World. There are smaller such constructions at other places on the water-less world. Also, near one of the buildings is the remains of the Gamma I crew ship! Good heavens! What are the odds! And what else could go wrong? Oh, the dodecahedron, once stronger analysis is done, is seen to be creating ships out of thin air! What the hell!?!

Now the Carter has to figure out how to get to the Gamma I remains, find out what the Klingons are doing and somehow deny them this, without getting their butt’s kicked.

Pinch 2

I leave it to the ingenuity of the players as to how to get past the Klingon ships without alerting them. I think they might be able to boost a transporter beam, lure in some photon mines, or do something else equally clever. The trick is to make it feel dangerous – or if they totally flub up make it actually dangerous and they have to run away and try something else.

Plot Turn 2

However the players get there, they will end up at the airlock to the Gamma I Survivor’s building. There they will discover that the small, hardy band of survivors has thus far avoided detection, in part because the Klingons don’t care, and in part because the tunnels under the complex massively complicated

It’s also clear that the Orions have somehow mastered some of the silicon empire machines, some of which function as replicators. The Gamma I people have survived on a limited diet of what they figured out to feed into the machines to get back, and the system is kinds icky to watch, as the replication looks like sand flowing in reverse to form the item requested. The Orions might or might not have mastered this technology (which is imbedded all throughout the planet and not small in any case), but they have learned to use the big part – the dodecahedron is a ship construction device, which the Klingons are now using the replicate a fleet from the small number of ships that they originally had with them.

Resolution

The Carter and crew might just decide to get the Gamma I survivors and get out of dodge with this information, but more likely they’ll try to sabotage the process. I’ll leave them to determine how.

There are any number of options here, including making use of the replicators with the Gamma I people to create useful gear, somehow using telepathy to override the ship creation process the Klingons are using (remember that the silicon empire stuff is psi-sensitive, discovered in Ep 3).


My Players modified some probes into anti-matter torpedoes and fled, launching a spread of torpedoes back into the dodecahedron at a critical moment and then outrunning the blast. Yours may come up with something sneakier or more blowy-uppy. Unlike the TV sho you have a big special effects budget and sometimes it’s worth trotting out.