Game Recap: Star Trek – Episode 2

This is the second episode of Mark’s PDQ#-based Star Trek game, run on the Monday night Skype open games. The premise: the crew of the USS Resolute is the second-wave team, charged with establishing diplomatic relations and trade with suitable worlds that were recently visited by the Constitution-class ships like the USS Enterprise and the USS Hood.

The characters are described here and the first episode summary is here.

Edit: Character creation rules are here.

Episode 2

Captain Stone receives a Starfleet briefing about the situation. The Talithans are humanoids with bluish skin and a funny nose and forehead; they have regressed to a mid-20th century Earth technology level (1950s-60s), although they did reach warp technology at one point but lost it in the war 30-some years ago. The Klingon vessel IKS ghangwI’ (pronounced CHONG-JI), a D7 class battlecruiser, has been spotted in the area.

The captain emphasizes to the Resolute crew that the first priority is to bring Talitha VII into the Federation; if the Klingons are seen, their presence should be discouraged, but a shooting match is not the preferred choice.

They set a course for Talitha VII and spend the week of travel buffing up on Talithan etiquette. Upon arrival in-system, Captain Stone takes the Resolute into orbit and monitors Talithan communications without revealing the ship’s presence. Adriana points out that the Klingons could already be there, cloaked, and inform the Talithans of the Resolute’s presence. Captain Stone acknowledges this, sends Lt. K’hepri in a shuttlecraft to monitor for any anomalous energy readings in the area.

Upon scanning the planet’s atmosphere, they first get warning of a possible warp core breach, but then realize this is background radiation from the war. Large sections of the planet are devoid of even unicellular life — barren swashes in the middle of lush jungles. There is also a substantial amount of hydrocarbon pollution in the atmosphere, but also readings from 70 or 80 fission plants and a couple of fusion plans. The planet has one large moon and two small ones. There are 13 planets in the Talithan system; there is some sort of outpost on Talitha VI, some sort of scientific facility, but no permanent structure in the asteroid belt itself.

After this pass in-system, Captain Stone takes the Resolute to Talitha VII and hails the planet. After a couple of hours of back-and-forth to convince the Talithan Air Defence, he gets Tarkan Laziene on the comm. They exchange a few words about the diplomatic mission, and Laziene invites them to the planet for a welcoming ceremony. Lt. Curry insists on sending a security escort with the captain.

Captain Stone speaks to Dr. Warden before the surface mission, asking her to keep an eye on the effects of the large amount of residual radiation on personnel, and to use her nanite capabilities to perform extended additional monitoring. With the possibility of some sort of warp accident, Dr. Warden quickly takes a look at research Starfleet Medical has on Warp Radiations effect on humanoids.

Next, Captain Stone speaks with Adriana Katsopoulos about the negotiations and her assessment of the Talithan situation. He asks her to conduct the negotiations, but to keep the presence of the Talithan VI outpost off the table. Adriana sets her own personnel to examine readings from the planet for specific warp technology remnants, and identifies the fusion power plant on the outskirts of the capital that seems to be late 21st, early 22nd century technology experimental warp intermixer; 70% of the reactor’s output is going to this facility. At one point, a short-lived warp bubble forms, then fades. She also finds a biosignature there that is not quite Talithan. She takes the information to Dr. Warden, who determines that the signature is closely related to the current Talithan population, but diverged some 100,000 years ago.

Adriana then reports her findings to Captain Stone. He asks her to check how prevalent this species, is, and to scan for Klingon life signs. He takes the Resolute out of geosynchronous orbit above the capital and once more around the planet to perform the scan. As soon as the ship moves, they receive a call from the Talithan Air Command, asking why they are moving. Captain Stone tells them they are running engine tests and will be back shortly; he courteously offers to provide his flight plan.

Dr. Warden, assisted by everyone, does not locate Klingon life signs, but she does identify four targs in one location — Tarkan Laziene’s residence. She also identifies over a million of the second Talithan species (“Grays”) on the planet, in small pockets totalling less than one tenth of one percent of the population. She also notes areas of higher than normal incidence of illnesses resulting from radiation poisoning.

“Doctor Warden, Lt. Curry, Ms. Katsopulos, please report to the ibn Shukir (one of our shuttlecraft.). Mr K’hepri, you have the con.” Captain Stone takes his landing party one a “side trip” to Talitha VI. Lt. Curry takes his security with him. Adriana equips herself with surveillance devices and weapons disguised as jewellery. The Talithans ask about the shuttle, but the Resolute sends an evasive answer about routine procedures.

It takes three hours for the shuttle to reach Talitha VI; Captain Stone carefully chooses his trajectory and orbit to avoid attracting Talitha VII’s attention to the research facility on Talitha VI. A scan by Dr. Warden reveals than the planet is almost devoid of atmosphere and that most structures are powered down; the one active facility contains only 18 life forms, all Grays. Adriana’s scan reveals that the technology here is much more advanced, almost to Federation level. Most of it is old, up to 100 years old; some have been mothballed or dismantled, some were damaged. The single functioning facility is a hodgepodge of salvaged technology. Some of their low-power innovations attract Adriana’s mercantile interest.

A hail produces no response, so Captain Stone decides to go knock. They land the shuttle on the hard surface, about half a mile away from the facility; gravity is a little lighter than Earth’s. The dome is perhaps 60 meters across. The landing party makes its way on foot, scanning for various aspects (life forms, security, technology). Adriana notices that the power readings suddenly go up. Dr. Warden’s readings indicate that the 18 life forms in the dome are of widely differing ages, from infant to very old. Despite getting no answer, Captain Stone keeps repeating his message of peaceful intent.

About halfway there, Adriana reads a spike in energy readings. Dr. Warden’s tricorder picks up two life forms approaching at about 100 km/h, and one of the security people notes that an energy curtain has just been raised after letting a vehicle out. A buggy zooms in, comes to a (silently) screeching halt. Two Grays in spacesuits are on board, looking stunned with amazement. Captain Stone orders everyone to keep their weapons holstered and show their hands, and he gestures to the Grays, making “talking” signs ad pointing to the buggy.

The Grays let Stone into their buggy and he explains who he is and why he’s here. They agree to let the landing party into the dome; they give everyone a ride back with the security team handing onto the outside of the buggy. They have never seen anyone come to their world, the last time anyone came here it was the Blues, a long time ago. The energy curtain seems to provide modest shielding. They drive to the center of the dome, which is built like a large sporting arena. This looks like it was perhaps a manufacturing facility but is now filled with a couple hundred shanty shelters.

The Grays gather with shocked expressions. The captain asks Dr. Warden to check the locals’ health and Adriana to lead the talks. Adriana does her best to put everyone at ease. When she asks to speak to the Gray’s oldest folks, she is introduced to Leena, who is around 70 or 80. Dr. Warden takes a look at the elderly, brittle woman and gives her temporary improvement.

Leena says she never paid much attention to politics and doesn’t know how the war started; she is crushed to hear what happened to the Grays and how few of them are left on Talitha VII. She begs Captain Stone to take the Talitha VI survivors back to the Homeworld or some place safe. (There isn’t quite enough space on the shuttle to take all of them back).

The landing party has a huddle, discussing the mission and implications of the Prime Directive. Adriana tells Captain Stone she thinks Leena is hiding something. She snoops and scans around to locate computers or archives; she locates the powered-down mainframe and swipes some recording liquid crystals. After a lecture on the comparative merits of different recording media to hook them up to her tricorder, she confirms that the world leader at the time of the war was in fact a Gray, and that conflict between the races had been brewing. A virus had broken out devastating the Blues but leaving the Grays largely unharmed — and uninterested. The Blues were at the time very resentful of this.

Captain Stone examines the facility and determines that it was some sort of biological manufacturing facility. Dr. Warden sends her nanites into a Gray to snoop around the Grays while the away team returns to Talitha VII. They bring Leena, the two infants, and their mother back to the shuttle. They are returning home and get a hail from the Resolute; Cdr. K’hepri announces that they have detected a Klingon shuttle in the capital, but they are detecting a sensor gap in that area, for reasons unknown. Captain Stone takes the ship to yellow alert. Adriana speaks to her team; it appears there is simply no signal reflected back from the planet.

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