Star Trek: Peaceful Occupations

S0E07: Esteemed Passengers

Session 7
Attended: Alex, Andrew & Nenad
Venue: My place

Covers events on Stardate 37440 to 37498.

Acting Captain’s log, stardate 37440.1

We have finally emerged from the Styx Rift, our survey complete. We made contact with Starfleet and were immediately contacted directly by Admiral Sturek. He has ordered the Rutan to investigate a distress signal that has been received from a civilian passenger liner, the S.S. Gradalis.

Chief Engineer’s log, stardate 37440.1

Indecision kills, and Bell is lucky it didn’t kill us. We had barely left the Styx rift behind when we were diverted to answer a distress call from a Medusan ship named the Gradalus, a specially design cruise liner.

It turned out that a pirate ship, the Regis Heart, had disabled the Gradalus by literally blowing one of their warp nacelles off. After dithering about what to do, Bell sent me and a boarding party across to the Gradalus where we ascertained that the crew and passengers were alright.

I’ll be frank, Medusans make my antennae curl. Scary, scary things. Though it turns out that their passengers are even weirder. Seemed civil though.

Unfortunately after that things went very pear-shaped. The pirates caught us with our pants down with the transporter tactics – beaming in, first, a bomb, and later boarders. I immediately went about using our excess dilithium as inefficiently as possible. Though that worked sort of.

I have to say, Bell’s tactics were dubious, but in my magnanimous way, I’m going to blame on first engagement nerves. Which he shouldn’t have.

Eventually the Regis Heart fled, after we had their shield down. And our prisioners were freed. Looking at it, I found a damage positron displacement coil, which is the likely reason for the brig shields failing. Shouldn’t happen again.

Chief Science Officer’s log, stardate 37440.1

Well, we have finally left the Styx rift, it has been a long four months, and I was looking forward to some R & R, but it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon.

As soon as we have left the rift, we were sent on another mission. We had received a distress signal from the Gradius, and, being the closest federation ship, we needed to respond. The ship was crewed by Medusans, and transported six passengers. I was looking forward to having a chance to examine some of the stranger species in the federation, but ended up spending all my time on the ship.

When we arrived to the site of the distress call, I observed three bodies, and as we got closer, I was able to identify them. One of them was the Gradius, while another was ‘The Rigel’s Heart’, a federation starship which had gone missing about 20 years ago.

As we approached even closer, we realised that the Gradius had been damaged, and one of its warp nacelles had been blown off. We also observed a tractor mine between the two ships. The distress signal was coming from Rigel’s Heart, rather than from the Gradius. Neither ship responded to our hails.

Closer scans identified that the Medusans and the bedeels were still on their ship, while there were a lot of Orions on Rigel’s heart. We decided to interrogate one of our prisoners when we realised this.

It took some persuasion, but eventually, one of the prisoners admitted that he had heard of the ship, and that it was a smuggler.

After a lot of deliberation, we beamed an away team across to the other ship, while I continued monitoring the scanners. The team reported that the crew and passengers were unharmed. They were fired on by Rigel’s heart, and key components of their ship were beamed away. A scan of the Rigel’s Heart confirmed that the missing components were there.

As soon as we beamed the away team back, all hell broke lose. I detected another transporter signal coming into our ship from the Rigel’s heart, and an explosion shook the Rutan. Simultaneously, the Rigel’s Heart raised its shields and began firing on us.

Two of the cargo bays that showed up empty on my scanners revealed that they actually contained shuttles altered for dog fighting. Bloody Orions! We should have blown the ship out of space the moment we saw them.

During the battle, they rammed us, and beamed one of their kind into our brig, where he tried to free the prisoners, but I managed to contain them all in that area.

I am not sure what Shran did to one of the probes, but when it hit the Orions, it completely knocked out their shields and engine.

We thought that we had them, especially after they ejected their warp core, and started negotiating for us to take care of their wounded, but they powered up their shields, and beamed their people back to their ship, before running away, like the cowards that they are. They even somehow managed to deactivate the shields on the brig… I didn’t know that they had that kind of technology.

We made our way back to the nearest starbase, towing the gradius, where we finally offloaded all the samples that we have collected from the Styx rift, and we got some new crew to replace our losses. We will not have time to rest for long, since we have to go on a mission to the Beta quadrant. Well, at least somebody has noticed my scientific skills. I have been promoted to Lieutenant.

GM’s Summary:
However, all was not well! (Again.) Suspiciously, the signal did not appear to be coming from the Gradalis itself. As the nearest Starfleet vessel, the Rutan would have to take its chances and investigate anyway, as the next nearest vessel was the training ship, USS Saracen NCC-33470(1), still a week away. Having received a temporary promotion to Commander, Bell led his ship towards the distress call. Approaching cautiously, Graan(2) was able to detect that there were three large objects at the source of the signal. One was a Sydney-class ship, like the Gradalis, but the other two were a large asteroid and a second ship of the Deneva class. Neither ship responded to hails.

Moving in to visual range, it was confirmed that they were indeed looking at the S.S. Gradalis NDT-10116, as well as the S.S. Rigel’s Heart NFT-8896, a freighter reported missing with all hands years ago, near Klingon space and Starbase 22. A warp nacelle, apparently belonging to the Gradalis, hung in the space between the two ships. The Rigel’s Heart appeared to be transmitting the Gradalis’s emergency signal. Very cautiously, with shields raised, Bell ordered Rutan to inch closer. Fortunately, Lt Wise at Tactical, noticed that an unexploded gravitic mine was also sitting between the ships. This was fired on from long range and destroyed.

Coming in closer, Graan scanned the two ships. The Gradalis contained its 27 Medusan crewmembers and 6 giant Bedeel passengers(3). The Rigel’s Heart was crewed by a number of Orions, Nausicaans and Humans, as well as a few who went unidentified. They appeared to be carrying a cargo of unprocessed iron ore, and had clearly modified their ship since its disappearance. Curious to know who they were dealing with, the crew went down to the brig, to see if their prisoners(4) knew anything. They quickly became impatient when “Richard” let slip that he knew something, but wouldn’t give any details. After hitting him around and almost throwing him out the airlock, he finally agreed to tell them that he had heard that it was a smuggler’s ship. This seems to have appeased Graan and Shran, who had led the interrogation (Bell left them to return to the bridge), and he was returned to his cell.

Continuing to be cautious, Bell ordered Shran to beam over to the Gradalis with a security and medical team, to establish contact with whoever was there. Once aboard, they spoke to the Medusans via the ship’s intercomm, and found out that the Orion ship had attacked them unprovoked, destroying one of their warp nacelles and transporting away key sections of their EPS conduits before they could raise their shields. This left them stranded and unable to call for help.

Rutan’s crew worked out an elaborate plan to storm the Rigel’s Heart and capture it, but this came to nothing, as the Orions had been awaiting their moment to strike, and as Rutan lowered its shields to transport Lt Shran back, they snuck in a transport of their own, setting small explosives next to each of the ship’s computer cores. As these went off, the Orions raised their own shields and charged in to attack the Rutan, revealing their uprated phasers and launching a string of shuttles (previously undetected by Graan’s scans) to help in their concentrated attack. Eventually, their overwhelming attack breached Rutan’s shields and they transported an Orion aboard, who freed the prisoners and stunned the guard on duty in the brig. Fortunately, somebody raised the brig’s internal force fields, trapping them inside.

The Rigel’s Heart continued to pound the Rutan, buckling its port nacelle. Bell ordered the ship to flee while they still could, leaving the shuttles behind. However, when the Rigel’s Heart turned back and began to fire on the Gradalis, Bell was forced turn back and make a hit-and-run attack on the pirates. Fortunately, Shran had been working on modifying a probe to use as a makeshift torpedo(5), and this was just about ready. As the Rutan flew by, the probe bomb hit the Rigel’s Heart solidly on one side, and the ship immediately began to suffer from failing systems, including warp, impulse, main power, weapons, shields, etc.(6). A hail from the Orion captain seemed to confirm this, as he surrendered unconditionally and requested medical assistance for his crew. Bell accepted the surrender, once the Rigel’s Heart had jettisoned its warp core, and ordered the first batch of 6 Orions to be beamed aboard. However, the tricky Orions had not ejected their warp core, but merely a decoy. No sooner had Rutan beamed the first batch of Orions across than the Rigel’s Heart reactivated all its systems (which had, of course, never really been damaged by the probe bomb) and beamed them back, except for one unfortunate bugger, as well as grabbing the four who were trapped inside the brig.

Having recaptured their men, the Orions went to warp, fleeing towards the Styx Rift. Bell ordered the Rutan to give chase, but changed his mind after a while, deciding that it was more important to deal with the disabled S.S. Gradalis. The Rutan’s engineers gave the Gradalis a field repair, before the USS Saracen arrived and the two Starfleet ships jointly towed the hulk to Starbase 282, while the USS Mek’leth NCC-62537 was sent to hunt for the Rigel’s Heart. In trying to work out how the prisoners had been beamed out of the shielded brig, the crew found that the Orions had attached a device of some sort to the brig wall, shortly before their transport, but did not get around to examining it closely enough to say for certain what it was(7).

At the starbase, the Rutan and the Gradalis both received repairs, and the Rutan’s many samples collected in the Styx Rift were offloaded, while Bell gave his report on the ship’s last few months of operations. As the repairs were soon over, and Starfleet Command already had plans for the Rutan, Bell had his temporary promotion extended indefinitely and was ordered to take the Rutan to the Alpha Quadrant, where it was urgently needed for some unspecified task.

What will this new mission be? Tune in next week, more or less, and I may or may not have another log prepared for you to find out(8)!

GM’s Commentary:
(1) This Miranda-class ship was also the training ship with which Lt Graan had his cadet cruise, several years earlier. I’ve also obviously stolen the whole ship directly from Jason Green’s USS Saracen game, though by 2371, when that game began, it had been reconverted to an active duty Starfleet explorer once more.

(2) Scot, who plays Dr Amri, was unavailable for this session.

(3) The Bedeels are highly intelligent 40 meter long mammalian centipedes. Made them up myself, and I was quite proud of them. Of course, they were only ever intended to fill a small role in this adventure, so I didn’t really get to show them off, but I have this strange feeling that they’ll make a second appearance at some point…

(4) “Thomas”, “Richard” & “Henry”, the two Orions and a Nausicaan who the Rutan’s crew apprehended back in episode 3.

(5) The Rutan, being a standard Oberth class ship, has no torpedo launcher.

(6) For a makeshift bomb, a result like this, even against an old freighter, should have been really suspicious, but the crew appear to have swallowed it.

(7) Also, I had to make this up on the fly, as I’d forgotten about those damn internal shields. But I can justify it now, should anyone bother to ask. You see, I’m trying to make this as much like the real Star Trek experience as possible, and poor continuity and a good dose of RetCon is very important.

(8) The point of this mission, from the GM’s point of view, was purely to get Thomas, Richard & Henry off the Rutan and back among their Orion buddies. Whether this was for important future plot purposes or simply to cover up a blunder of my own before anyone noticed it, I am unable say at this juncture. Unfortunately, I didn’t prepare for this adventure quite as well as I should have, so it didn’t run 100% smoothly, but I think it was still fun enough.

From next episode, we’ll also be featuring some new player characters.

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