Monday, February 25, 2013

Voyage #2: Runaway Starship


U.S.S. Larson is in deep space, away from all normal spacelanes to pick up their Vulcan operatives. Sensors show nothing near the ship. Vulcan ships broke radio silence 5 hours ago and announced they were 7 hours away.

Prior to the Adventure

Sparring Partner: CPO Bergmann has heard of Ushaan’s desire to spar and offers himself as a partner. He most likely kicks Ushan’s ass, but Ushaan has the potential to learn from the man’s extensive combat experience.

In fact, he has more combat experience than anyone in Starfleet.

Dinner Partner: While eating in the mess hall T'Kara is joined by Dr. Chapel. She informs T'Kara that she is tired of almost everyone talking about her but no one talking to her, and so she has decided to befriend the first officer (it goes without saying that her lifelong fascination with Vulcans is in part behind this).

New Arrivals: In deep space, way the hell away from everything, especially normal spacelanes, the Larson rendezvous with three Romulan warshuttles crewed by 18 Vulcan Tal’Sorak operatives and some last surprise crew members: Dr. M’Benga, Dr. T’pok (vulcan, female, psychiatrist, M’Benga’s personal physician though she will not reveal this) and Surakir, the head of the Vulcan intelligence contingent.

Dr. Chapel is delighted to see her old friend and proclaims that he is probably the only doctor in Starfleet who knows more about Vulcan medicine than her.

Dr. T’Pok will identify herself as a psychiatrist and specialist in Xeno-psychology. If pressed, or threatened with removal from the ship, she will identify herself as Dr. M’Benga’s personal physician but insist she has much to offer the ship’s medical staff. She will not state what she is treating him for, on the basis of patient confidentiality.

Surakir requests that his 17 operatives and he be allowed to live on their vessels when they are on the ship, where they will eat Romulan food and speak only Romulan. He asks that any contact with the crew be restricted to him alone. If asked for a reason, he says the smallest thing could betray his operatives: vocal inflections, Federation smells, mannerisms. 

An Old Friend? Decker notices Crewman Rogers, his Section 31 “friend” is among the 200+ crewmembers aboard the Larson.

A Moment of Truth: While still in the shuttlebay, CPO Malcolm approaches Decker and T'Kara and asks for a moment privately. He has a confession to make. During the Four Years’ War, Larson-class vessels were equipped with two things: Mako-class breaching pods and units of marines. A breaching pod is a “shuttle”, but really it’s more of a bullet. Fired at a starship, the pod’s polarized hull plating allowed it to pass harmlessly through shields of that time. It would then penetrate the hull, allowing marines to swarm onto the ship.

During the war the existence of breaching pods and marines aboard the Larson-class starships was a closely guarded secret. The Federation used the pods and marines as an ace in the hole and surprised the Klingons with heavily-armed boarding parties that came out of nowhere again and again, both on ships, and on planets, where the Larson class would use its speed, oversized shuttle bays and complement of heavy shuttles to land troops on worlds and depart, assisting local guerilla movements and fortifying planets, then retreating before the Klingons even knew they were there.

After the war the entire program was classified and shut down. The official word was that the Federation wanted to reserve the tactic for a future conflict with the Klingons. However, given that the Klingons had learned by the end of the war that the Larsons had this capability, CPO Malcolm always believed they just viewed the entire program as “unseemly”. In effect, Starfleet had compromised their ideals and conformed to Klingon tactics to counter the heavy Klingon marine contingents that scored them victory after victory on the ground.

Because of this, the Larson’s original Captain, now retired, “accidentally” forgot to dispose of the breaching pods and a “random computer spike” wiped all records of the pods being on the ship from the ship’s computer core. The pods were then stowed in an out of the way place, behind some spare hull plating that “just happened” to hide them from inspections of the ship, which rarely spent much time in the shuttle bay.

The entire ship’s contingent of marines was also reassigned to the ship’s security force “for sentimental reasons”. CPO Malcolm tells the Captain and First Officer he is telling them as soon as he could- once the ship was out of spacedock. If the Captain does not want the pods, he can have them ejected into a nearby star and the incident will never harm Captain Standish’s service records.

Malcolm also points out that the pods don’t penetrate Federation shielding any longer but otherwise they are as functional as they ever were and have “seen action” many times. Only one of the original contingent of marines is still serving on the ship, CPO Bergmann, but that he has continued the tradition of passing on marine training to the ship’s security forces.

Malcolm concludes by saying that CPO Bergmann also has in his possession, hidden in his quarters, hand plasma units that date back to the Four Years War. These were used by boarding parties to cut through interior surfaces of ships. Malcolm again points out that the former Captain’s orders were that these be retained.

New Orders- Briefing: While on shakedown, the PCs receive urgent new orders: a Constitution-class Cruiser has been spotted screaming through Federation space at maximum warp, heading straight for a heavily populated planet.

The ship’s transponder has been deactivated so an exact identification is impossible but Starfleet suspects the ship is the U.S.S. Defiant, thought lost until “The Arkadelphia Incident”. The U.S.S. Larson is the only ship in range to intercept the ship before it reaches a world with over one billion inhabitants, a world the Defiant could turn to ash.

The PCs are ordered to intercept the vessel, attempt to identify it. If the ship is the Defiant they are ordered to engage and attempt to force the ship to drop out of warp. A task force of other vessels are on the way, if the Larson can slow the ship down, the task force will be able to engage.

Objective #1: Identifying The Ship

Wall of Sound: As the PCs draw near for a close sensor scan to identify the vessel they are assaulted by a wave of noise from the ship. After a time, Reyes is able to sort the noise out and realize almost every personal communication from the device is in use, broadcasting screams of pain and phrases like “help us”, “stop us”, “put us out of our misery” and “destroy us”.

Scanning the ship: Lt. Standish can confirm that the ship is not the Defiant but is in fact the U.S.S. Victory, missing for almost three years.

Startling Revelation: At this point Dr. Chapel and Dr. M’Benga burst onto the bridge and proclaim that they know what the creatures are: parasites that control humans through pain. The Enterprise (and then-Nurse Chapel) encountered them. Their sole goal is to spread themselves to more planets. They control the actions of their hosts through pain, but they have no concept of language, allowing the hosts free to speak, incoherently because of the pain.

Dr. Chapel believes she can cure the crew if they can gain access to the ship’s environmental controls.

She also advises that the crew’s minds are fogged with racking pain. If the Larson does not directly attack but instead finds some subtler way onto the ship, the alien lifeforms probably won’t react, being almost solely focused on reaching new worlds with more hosts.

Objective #2: Boarding the Victory

Remind the PCs that transport at Warp is not possible during the TOS time period. Also, the shields are up making the boarding pods useless UNLESS the PCs can accomplish two things:
     First, the Larson must get close and merge the shield envelopes of the two ships (Deflector Shields check). Each time this check is failed the Helmsman has to make a Helm operation check or the Larson will take some structural damage (1-4 points).
     Once the shield envelopes are merged, the Breaching Pod must be piloted at ramming speed right into the Victory’s hull. Shuttlecraft Piloting skill check. Failing this check will cause the shuttle crew to take some damage and put them further away from Environmental Control.

Objective #3: Navigating the Victory

Emphasize how dark the ship is. Almost all the lights are out.

As the PCs progress they hear buzzing and trilling in the distance.

Once on board the ship’s Environmental Controls will have to be hacked (Computer Ops). Once Environmental Controls are hacked, Dr. Chapel will flood the ship with a low level of radiation

As the PCs make their way to Environmental Control, they will face the 1-4 of the following obstacles (roll 1d10):
1-2 Parasites: When this encounter is rolled, the mosquito-like buzzing will get much louder. These will make a melee attack and attempt to latch onto the PCs. A graze inflicts damage, on a solid hit the parasite has attached itself to the outside of the PCs’ EVA suit and begins burning through it with a mild acid. Burning through the EVA suit takes one round and if the PCs have not successfully stunned the parasite by then it will take over the PC.
3-8 Infected Crew: These attack almost mindlessly, using clubs and melee weapons. They have no chance of surprise as they yell warnings to the PCs before and during their attacks.
9-10 Damaged system/environmental hazard: The ship was damaged during the takeover attempt and there is a chance a PC will encounter exposed circuitry along the way.

Objective #4: Long Live The Queen

Any Vulcans on the away mission have a chance (Psi check) to hear a psychic scream and know that it was directed at the Triangle. They also suffer 3d10 stamina damage.

Objective #5: Repair the Victory

The PCs will then have to help the Victory with repairs, though soon the area is crawling with Starfleet vessels when the Task Force arrives.


PCs get 10+5 per night of the adventure. Also allow them to raise one attribute by 1 point. 

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