Class of ’74

A Story of the Kobayashi Maru

Introduction

What does it mean to wear the badge?

“Class of ‘74” is an Actual Play (-by-Post) one-shot adventure using the Star Trek Adventures tabletop role-playing game system by Modiphius.

Synopsis

A group of cadets from the class of ‘74 takes their final exam at Starfleet Academy. With their ingenuity, values, and a little bending of the rules, the cadets manage to uncover a minefield in Federation space, deliver the survivors of a wreck to safety, prevent intra-galactic war through a grand deception, save the life of a sentient hologram or two, and redeem a lost cadet - before succumbing to the infamous no-win scenario.

Inspired by the official Modiphius adventure “Kobayashi Maru” by Jo Kreil, adapted by Josh Allen and a group of players (Benji, Daren, Ken, Mark, and Ricardo) for The Next Generation era.

If you’re interested in learning how to play Star Trek Adventures, there are notes on the game’s mechanics and ways to run it.

If you’re a Trek fan, you might enjoy this dramatic revisit to beloved Trek lore, and an example of the kind of stories the Star Trek Adventures game system facilitates.

Warning

Contains Spoilers for the published “Kobayashi Maru” adventure.

Snippet

“After I disembark, you will be on your own, Cadets, on the border of the Federation, and the brink of potential war. You may find yourself facing difficult choices. But this is not merely a test of ingenuity, or of judgement. It is a test…” she pauses, then seems to change course, and takes another bite.

“In the traditional craftwork of many Earth cultures,” she digresses, still eating, “artisans create substances of rare value, by placing raw materials in an enclosed space, and subjecting them to very high temperatures: a crucible.” She smiles, stands.

“Good day, Cadets,” she says. “And good luck.”

Play

• all communication was via text in Discord
• following cues from Continuing Mission, we used the channels:
• #game, for in-character narration (captured in this document)
• #ooc, for out-of-character discussion
• #table, for dice rolls and other tracking
• die rolls, Momentum and Threat pools were tracked with the bot Majel
• Traits, Stress, Shields, Breaches, and Power were tracked with a homegrown bot, “Control”

Features

Basic Operations

The Scene Cold Open contains examples of the core Task roll mechanic, including buying dice, Assists from other characters, and building on success with Momentum spends.

Operations Aboard Starship

The Scenes Embarkation and Waypoint 1 include examples of Tasks Assisted by the starship.

Starship Combat

The Scene Off the Beaten Path contains some Starship Combat, and the entire Scene Site of the Wreck is structured into Rounds of Starship Combat.

Melee Combat

The Scene Plan B is structured almost entirely in Rounds of Melee Combat.

Social Conflict

There are many instances of Social Conflict, notably in Off the Beaten Path and Site of the Wreck, and the closing Scene School’s Out. There are instances in nearly all Scenes of creating and removing Social Tools.

Values

Throughout the Scenes, characters use, challenge, and take complications from their Values repeatedly. The Scenes Site of the Wreck and Plan B have several examples of both PCs and NPCs using Values in various ways.

Supporting Characters

Supporting characters appear in most of the Scenes, but Embarkation includes a description of leveling-up a Supporting Character, and Off the Beaten Path includes an example of creating a Supporting Character in play.

Challenges

The Scene Distress features a Timed Challenge for the entire crew. Site of the Wreck includes a Linear Challenge during combat.

We did not end-up using Extended Tasks.

Reversal

A Reversal takes place at the end of Site of the Wreck.

Zone Maps

An appendix contains some sample Zone Maps used in Starship and Melee Combat.

Scene: Cold Open

The first mission Directive was introduced: Be Worthy of Starfleet.

The players began, as usual, with 0 Momentum, and each with 1 point of Determination.

I began with 10 Threat (2 per player).

Running a no-win scenario in STA was a fun challenge. GMs can add whatever Traits and NPCs they want as each Scene begins, and then must spend Threat to add more. I had to use Scenes, build Threat, and budget carefully to deliver a Kobayashi Maru-style outcome. I knew I might need 2 Threat per character (a total of 10) to initiate a Reversal, to set a new Scene at will. I also wanted to be able to call-in reinforcements at about 6 Threat (so a reserve of 16).

I’d forgotten that the published adventure recommended 3 Threat per player, which would have helped! Starting with different levels of Threat per player is a great way to vary the intensity to suit the story or group preferences. A high level of Threat was warranted for a Kobayashi Maru story.

GM

Dim window light falls across a dorm room. A bedside digital clock reads: “05:29.”

An overhead shot shows us Cadet Eric Solomon, lying in bed, his body slightly curled within the gray sheets, and unmoving. We cut to a close-up on his face. His eyes are open. The alarm starts ringing.

The camera flips to show his point-of-view, as the alarm repeats for several beats. Gazing across the rumpled sheets and the dark spaces of the room, a crisp Starfleet uniform lies draped over his desk.

The alarm swells, and we cut to our next Cadet’s room, where the noise is silenced by the tap of a hand. The sparse beats of an airy, expectant musical theme play as we visit each of your characters in turn, sharing a quiet moment with the Cadets and instructors that we’ve followed all season, as they prepare for this final examination.

👍 (2)

Sompek

Sompek, a player character, is the scion of a Klingon military family, in self-imposed exile among Starfleet.

Role: Tactical Officer, Chief Security Officer
Rank: Lieutenant (Provisional)
Traits: Klingon
Values:
- Fight to the Death, in Any Arena
- There is No Such Thing as a No-Win Scenario, I Can Beat Anything
- Don’t Ever Quit
- Your Life and Career Are Your Own, No One Can Make Them For You

Sompek has been awake for four hours now, unable to sleep, studying and restudying and running combat simulation after combat simulation until he feels like his eyes are bleeding. The sensation is the only thing keeping his mind clear. The replicated rataj is a disappointment.

👍 (2)

Marvin

“Please state the nature of the educational emergency.”

“Rise and shine, Marvin, you have a busy day.” A nearby Tellarite yeoman faced away, dropping a folded science officer’s uniform onto a holographic chair, deep blue peeking through the grey shoulders.

“Don’t tell me you’ve picked up that ridiculous nickname for me, as well, Yeoman Trand.”

“Well, I have to call you something, don’t I? Can’t just say ‘you’ or ‘program’. If you have a preferred name, spit it out.”

“No. No, it’s fine. What is that?”

Marvin tilts his head pensively for a moment. “Oh, no, not again.”

“Yyyyep. Finals week and the good ol’ KM to send the cadets in a blaze of glory!” Trand spread his stout hands and arms wide for effect.

“Why they insist on this pointless exercise, I’ll never know.” Marvin pinched the grey material of the uniform’s shoulders between his fingers. “Full dress?”

“Orders straight from the top brass. The faster we can ‘acclimate cadets into the corps’, the sooner they can begin contributing to the effort!”

Finished with his task, the yeoman brushed down his shirt and began to walk out of the holodeck.

Marvin continued absent-mindedly smoothing the cloth. “They’re really churning them out, hm?”

“Well, there’s a war on, you know!” Trand called behind him, the heavy doors opened and closed, clipping off the last syllable.

👍 (3)

Marvin

Marvin, a.k.a. the Emergency Educational Hologram (EEH) Mark 1., a player character, is a repurposed EMH (Robert Picardo variety) used to fill-in missing roles during examinations.

Role: Chief Science Officer
Rank: Lieutenant (Provisional)
Traits: Human, Hologram
Values:
- Do No Harm
- I’m a Doctor, Not a Babysitter
- Never Left the Holodeck
- Seen it a Thousand Times

“I know.” Taking a few quiet moments to himself, Marvin dropped the uniform back down onto the chair and looked around. Craning his neck almost surreptitiously, he whispered, “Wilderness Training Exercise Victor-51, neutral parameters, sunrise.”

The sterile yellow-and-black grid shimmered out. An endless sea of fine, white sand flowed out to the horizon, the grains stained a deep cerulean rimmed with red. Mt. Seleya extended far upward, reaching like an accusing finger at the crimson orb of T’Kuht, shooing it away from coming dawn. The thin air was crisp, almost temperate, belying the unforgiving heat that would follow in a few hours. Marvin took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly in a cloud of simulated vapor.

A moment’s peace, and then his face set again to business. “Computer. Inbox.”

A small trill sounded. “You have 1,147 new requests.”

“Wonderful,” he deadpanned to no one.

😆

Ekoss

Ekoss ch’Vaallen, a player character, is a self-assured pilot from a family connected with Starfleet for generations, and friends with a recently deceased graduate.

Role: Flight Controller
Traits: Andorian
Values:
- Indefatigable Confidence
- Be a Moving Target
- Partners with Tactical

Ekoss slapped the alarm on his PADD, and looked at his ceiling with a sigh. He then rolled out of his bunk, and began doing his Ushaan Katas, first barehanded then with his Ushaan-Tor. After a half hour of Katas he slid the Andorian weapon into its sheath, grabbed his uniform and his PADD and headed to the showers down the hall.

He showered in cold water, as per his usual and it drove away the last of the cobwebs from his brain, as per the usual. It was only then that he realized he wouldn’t need the Ushaan-Tor today, but he wasn’t going back to his room so he simply put the sheath and weapon at the small of his back under his uniform Jacket, as per the usual, and headed out for the day.

🗡️ (3)

Gorca

Gorca Renar, a player character, is a more experienced Cadet, having gone through the two extra years of Starfleet medical training. He and Jatha share a background in the Bajoran struggle.

Role: First Officer and Chief Medical Officer
Rank: Lieutenant Commander (Provisional)
Traits: Bajoran, Efrosian
Values:
- At Home On a Starship
- Life is Precious
- Help Those Who Can Be Helped
- I’m Still Learning Who I Am

Cadet Gorca Renar woke up approximately 30 seconds before the alarm went off and quickly turned it off before closing his eyes again. This was not because he was such an early riser ready to commence the day’s exciting educational curriculum; he simply despised the inherently grating aural violation of the alarm chronometer by his bed. Cadet Gorca was absolutely certain that everyone in the Federation loathed it as the most uselessly annoying sound in the multiverse.

His sleeping area was not the same one as the others he would be simulating with today. Cadet Gorca was in his final year of schooling as well, but medical students were blessed with 6 years of training, not 4, and it is with the other medical students he cohabitated.

Gorca remained in bed for another 5 minutes, having turned to lie flat on his stomach with his face buried sideways in his pillow. All of his peers were fast asleep, not having to be up for another hour or so. He envied them deeply.

Finally shifting to a sitting position, he pinched his Bajoran nose ridges before standing to his feet as he rubbed the mild bulge of his half- Efrosian forehead.

Almost Nobody was showering except for the few cadets making themselves ready for the simulation. He noticed Ekoss but said nothing, as was his custom.

Afterward, Gorca Renar stared at himself in the mirror of the washroom. He rolled his neck and yawned before groggily muttering something to himself in Bajoran about early mornings being curses from the Pah-wraiths.

Then he inhaled deeply until a facade of pleasantness appeared on his face and walked into the halls to make his way toward his ultimate destination.

👍 (4)

Jatha

Jatha Edala, a player character, is a Bajoran refugee who left his family to join Starfleet.

Role: Commanding Officer
Rank: Captain (Provisional)
Traits: Bajoran
Values:
- Guidance May Come from Anywhere, But Wisdom Comes From Within
- Where I Lead, You Will Follow
- Collateral Damage Should Be Avoided
- Question Everything

By now, Edala should have reached the eye of the storm. That precious moment of clarity before committing to a course of action. He should have, but he hadn’t. So, he did what he usually did when feeling like the answer was just not coming to him. He went out of his way to do something new and unexpected.

The transporter operator was used to his visits by now. They got along well, and he always brought something back with him. Most cadets didn’t really get that there is an unofficial chain of command, if you know which strings to pull, and at which time. Edala had what the Humans call “sixth sense”, but he didn’t see it as magic. Growing up among artists had lent him some insight into how to read people, sometimes. As the transporter whirred, he felt a tingling sensation: this was his favorite part - not knowing the destination before taking the leap.

He returned less than an hour later, still with minutes to spare. In his bag there were freshly baked breads, a kind of meaty stew and freshly squeezed juices from plants he had seen before today. Even a small memory unit containing the holographic version: he didn’t care that Marvin thought it a “fruitless endeavor to include him in archaic rites”. All should break bread together before going into… whatever they were going into. As he was walking towards the holodeck, he didn’t even realize his biggest concern was if he’d brought enough for all.

Also he didn’t realize that without trying, he’d now found the eye of the storm.

😋 (2) 👍 (2)

GM

At the beginning of a Scene, Traits can be introduced without being paid-for by Threat, Momentum, or Tasks. Though we’d had a little role-playing already, I think it’s ok to let Scene Traits be introduced at a natural pace, as long as they are near the beginning of a Scene.

Mechanically, I intended to use this Trait to increase the Difficulty of Solomon’s Tasks or certain Tasks performed upon him, posing an obstacle for the players to surmount and a mystery to resolve.

Narratively, Solomon is a Haunted Cadet because of the pressure he’s under, his ambivalence about joining Starfleet, and his secrets which would later be revealed.

We return to Eric’s room. He’s standing now, wearing the slacks and undershirt of his uniform, gazing at the jacket hung on the desk chair in front of him. A haunted look lies on his face. A close-up shows his finger tracing the comm badge: the Starfleet insignia. Then the title sequence begins.

GM

I described it as Episode 10 to create the sense that our story would have a “Season Finale” feel.

We’re shown a Borg cube, an Intrepid class, Bajoran jewelry, sector maps. A Klingon and Andorian spar with traditional weaponry, a familiar doctor demonstrates a procedure to a student, and other Star Trek iconography unfold. These images are mixed with cable cars, a Chinatown market, the Golden Gate Bridge, hyperlight sailcraft under a futuristic skyline, and trails twisting through dry hills - all in abstract, stylized LCARs format, as the theme song plays, and the credits roll.

Episode 10: “Kobayashi Maru”

GM

Another Scene Trait introduced: Undercurrent of Anxiety.

Dew is still visible on the leaves and yellow wildflowers outside a shiny Sausalito campus building. Out of focus, two joggers trot through the fog, while a bird alights on the greenery in the foreground, twitching its head slightly.

Cut to the interior. High ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows let the gray morning light fill the carpeted hallway outside a bank of holodecks. Several groups of Cadets are congregating here. Your group - Group D - is among them.

As you mull around with the other Cadets, there’s a palpable undercurrent of anxiety. It feels unreal: this is the final hurdle before your career truly begins. And it may affect the direction of your career. And it’s going to be intense.

The examination is scheduled for 7:00 AM. It’s now 7:06. You can start to see the Academy proctors beginning to engage other groups. A ways down the hallway, you see a proctor turn a corner and begin walking towards your group. Maybe he’s yours? He pauses to say something to another proctor, still at some distance.

Other than the EEH, your core group of Cadets has naturally huddled together, including Brel, who sidles up awkwardly. But Cadet Solomon is nowhere to be seen.

👍 (2)

Sompek

Standing and waiting with the others, Sompek felt awkward and exposed. Targeted almost. He was reminded of the insult that so many non-Klingons misunderstood. Ha’dibaH. Not just calling someone an animal, but a dead piece of an animal. A slab of dead meat sitting on a counter somewhere, exposed and unseemly. That’s how he felt, waiting in the sun with his classmates, to meet the legendary challenge. It was really just his nerves, and his distaste for anyone and anything that couldn’t be punctual. He found himself pacing and grunting, and they probably all just assumed he was nervous. Ghuy Cha!

👍

Marvin

“Computer, time.”

“0708 hours”

(sigh) “I wish they’d get this over with.” The previous scenarios ran through his memory unbidden with photographic clarity. Cadets sweating under the strain, consoles sparking with heat, orders yelled, phaser fire, ships blossoming into flames, again and again. The moments arrayed themselves in front of him like grains in that Vulcan desert.

Soon, this would all be hidden away, numbed, put aside in a mental closet, somewhere. Until then, he stood in the empty holodeck, alone.

“I wish they’d hur-”

😎 ⏱️

Ekoss

Ekoss stood with his teammates, waiting for the proctor to arrive and for the test to start. He chatted with Sompek and Jatha about the tests they’d gone through earlier that week, trying to ease his own nerves and those of his friends.

👍 (2)

Jatha

Jatha performed a Rally, to build the team’s Momentum. Officially an Action during Starship Combat, it’s an example of the kind of Difficulty 0 Task which the GM can allow outside of an Encounter to build Momentum or otherwise determine the level of success of an action. In this case, it was increased to Difficulty 1 because of the Undercurrent of Anxiety. That meant he would need 1 success: any less and the Task would fail, any more would be added to Momentum.

Jatha used his Presence Attribute (10), and his Command Discipline (4). Thus, a roll of 14 or less would succeed. Normally, a roll of 1 would be counted a critical success: two successes in one. But he also used his Focus in Inspiration, allowing any roll up to his Discipline (4) to generate two successes.

In STA, Task dice pools start with 2d20, but Jatha created 1 Threat to buy an extra d20, rolling 3d20 in total. He generated more successes than the needed 1, adding to the group’s Momentum roll.

Jatha’s Untapped Potential Talent - available for junior characters like our Cadets - also added a point of Bonus Momentum to this roll, which must be spent immediately or lost. Jatha chose to spend this point plus one point of the group’s Momentum to Create an Advantage. Jatha chose to use this Advantage to cancel the Undercurrent of Anxiety, thus preventing that Trait from increasing the Difficulty for future rolls.

It didn’t take long for Jatha to pick up on the anxiety filling the room. He also noticed the absence of Solomon, and felt conflicted: having a few moments with the others without him was welcome, but a leader should lead everyone - not just his friends. He still decided to say a few words to lift spirits. He cleared his throat:

“Ok, group D can I have your attention.”

He waited until he had the eyes of the other cadets, but let them complete their sentences, he didn’t want to cut anyone of. Not now, not yet.

“We’ll soon enter a so-called no win scenario. I don’t care for that. We are not here for the badge, or the uniform or the pips. We are here since we earned the right to be from being skilled. We are here for each other. The moment we get into the bridge, you act to protect each other, and the rest of the crew. If we do that, no failure could bring us down, only make us come together.”

“After the academy we will be fighting an enemy who sees their lives as forfeit every time they go to battle. They fight for their life, every single time. And this will be their weakness, as we will fight for each other. They are willing to die, but we are ready to push beyond the easy way out and do what we must for the person next to us. Take a look at each other. You all deserve to be here. I’m happy you are all here, and I’m proud to lead you as a team.”

He made sure to take eye contact with every cadet in group D present, trying to choose the moment and words to resonate with their needs and hopes; he could just pray to the prophets he’d done it at the right moment.

“I believe we’re ready for the Maru, but I’d like to go there as a full team. Computer, please locate Cadet Solomon.”

👍 🚢

Brel

Brel of None, a supporting character, is a Cadet from an off-campus adjunct program, assigned to fill-in the role of Chief Engineer during the exercise.

Role: Chief Engineer
Rank: Lieutenant Commander (Provisional)
Traits: Liberated Borg
Values:
- Protect My Collective (acquired in-play)

The player playing the main character Marvin chose to play Brel in this Scene, because Marvin - as an educational hologram - was not yet present.

Cadet Brel stood in neutral position, awaiting instructions. The nearest cadet from Group D stood 4.6 meters away. Others stood at similar distances from Brel, forming a concavity in the crowd. Most avoided looking, a few stared openly. The social reaction was expected.

He was silently calculating the precise repulsive vector field caused by his presence when Cadet Jatha addressed the crowd. A breach in social protocol. Brel looked to the sides at nearby proctors, but no one moved to correct the student.

Brel listened intently, as did the crowd. Jatha’s words and bearing seemed to draw people in, like a magnet to iron filings, not only to himself but to each other. After he finished speaking, Brel found that he, too, had moved closer to the crowd and they to him. The nearest cadet now stood comfortably 2.2 meters away.

He would have to revise his social parameters.

👍 🤛 (2)

Gorca

Gorca’s Task (Presence + Medicine at Difficulty: 0) to assess the psychological readiness of the Cadet group succeeded, and generated Momentum.

He spent 1 Momentum to Obtain Information, asking about what was eating at Cadet Solomon. So long as it connects narratively to the Task, the GM must answer this question truthfully, even if incompletely.

Since this task drew upon on his past and present observations of this Cadet group, I did answer the question, and revealed that the Cadet had become especially nervous when learning that a career Starfleet officer would observe his performance on the exam. I did not reveal Eric’s secret at this time.

Since he’d entered the gathering area almost 20 minutes prior, Cadet Gorca had been subtly observing, examining each student in his group. He’d cast brief glances to the other groups too, but they had their own medical professionals. When the would-be commanding officer finished his speech, Gorca smiled and gave him a nod. He noticed even Brel inching closer. It was a good speech.

Gorca shot a few nervous glances to the staff before remembering that this too was part of a test. Every cadet was expected to take the Kobayashi Maru but those in the captain’s chair had a greater expectation placed on them. They would be scrutinized, as the Academy analysts considered potential future command school applicants.

After successfully ensuring mental and physical stability in his fellows, Gorca went about his business, which meant standing by a wall appearing as though he was listening to someone or doing mental calculations, when in fact he was really just staring into space and daydreaming.

👍 (3)

GM

A voice from Jatha’s comm badge states:

”Cadet Solomon is not located within a campus facility. Student privacy protections prohibit further specificity.”

😟

Jatha

“That’s unexpected.”

Jatha mumbled the words quietly, hoping his frown didn’t show. A moment later, he’d brought back his normal relaxed almost smiling expression, and started to think about it; was there something he missed? What did Solomon say the last time they spoke?

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss stood to one side turned away from the proctors and tapped his communicator. “Ekoss to Cadet Solomon. Are you okay, Eric? You’re late to our test.”

☑️ 👍

GM

Cadets Ekoss and Sompek expressed a desire early on to bring personal weaponry into the simulation, just in case. Because of this forethought, they did not have to pay an Opportunity Cost when they were ultimately needed, though Sompek’s bat’leth - once brandished - would require him to generate 1 Threat as an Escalation Cost.

I liked how their choice illustrated that - unlike the Kobayashi Maru of yesteryear - in the holodeck, anything might happen.

The proctor has finished his chat, and has been watching your group at a remove. He approaches you. Clearly a recent graduate, he moves through the space with a blithe, fresh-from-the-gym swagger. He stiffens a bit when he locks eyes with Sompek, then regains his composure, and addresses Jatha.

“This must be Group D. Nice speech, Cadet! Sign me up. And wow, smells good,” he says, noting the communal meal that Jatha has brought. “Bring some for me?” If it cheapens your gesture, just a bit, it’s not intentional.

He looks back and forth from his PADD to your crew, multi-tasking. “Allright, lemme check you in. Cadet Ch’Vaallen, that’s quite an accessory. This group is not traveling light. Ok, I’m counting…dut duh, dut duh…I’m not seeing Cadet Solomon. Does anyone know where he is? It’s 10 minutes past, Cadets.”

Ekoss

“He’s on his way.“

😮

GM

Gronik, a Minor NPC, is a recent graduate who orients cadets for simulated exercises.

Role: Examination Proctor
Rank: Ensign
Traits: Denobulan

The proctor looks at you, Ekoss. “He’s on his way? Well, when? Where is he?” He looks at the PADD again. “We need to get started, I think we were clear about the late arrival policy.” He glances at Jatha.

He takes a step aside and taps his comm badge. “Gronik here. Is it feasible to spin-up…two EEH units? We may have a no-show, and…allright, well, let me know.” He turns back to you. “I think we need to head to the Holodeck. We’ll be over there, in number 12.”

Jatha

Jatha bit his tongue not to give a snarky remark. He knew that would not help either him or Solomon. “We’re all very much aware of the policy, sir. Let’s treat Cadet Solomon as innocent until proven guilty; I trust that you’ll find his records more than ready to support this as a rather… uncommon event.” He shot a quick glance at Ekoss begging for support, hoping he would add something to defuse the situation further. “But let’s eat some of this before it gets cold, and we’ll soon know. There’s plenty to share, sir.” He opened the bag to let even more of the smell out, hoping to prod the graduate into a more relaxed mood. The smell reminded him of his best experiences leaving Bajor, where food was bland and unsatisfying.

Sompek

The smell of food tweaked Sompek’s olfactory senses, but didn’t appeal. Hours ago he’d eaten some of the burnt replicated pork that humans favor, and tasted something called an omelet that he’d quickly sent back through the matter reclamator in favor of a simple protein bar from a field ration pack. Enough of preparation. He was cursing the tardy cadet, impatient to start, and was in no mood to engage in any more small talk.

Gorca

Cadet Gorca, who had been at attention in the back of the group ever since the proctor approached, took a couple steps forward toward Cadet Jatha. He knew even before today what Jatha was going through, but the Kobayashi Maru seemed to be bringing more issues, normally adequately quelled, to the forefront of people’s minds.

Gorca attempted to get Jatha’s attention non-verbally, perhaps by making uncharacteristic eye contact, or purposely posturing himself in Jatha’s line of sight, adjacent to the cadet-captain and proctor.

He too glanced to Ekoss, wondering briefly if the Andorian was intuitive enough to pick up on the situation as well, and hoping for some backup. However, the medical student would not speak up until Jatha or the proctor did, as strictly speaking, their conversation was none of his business.

GM

The last of the other groups’ Cadets have filed into their assigned Holodecks. The hallway feels bare with only Group D remaining, along with the proctor.

As you’re talking, you catch a glimpse of a man in a Starfleet uniform in the middle distance through the windows. It’s Eric. He’s taking long strides directly across the landscaping, headed straight for an access door near to you.

Jatha

Jatha turned to his fellow cadet and said “You need something?” He felt it coming out a bit sharper than intended, and tried to relax, and added more softly “Go ahead Gorca. Speak your mind, please.” Just then, he realised the missing cadet was approaching. He immediately started pondering if this is what captaining meant; always juggling different balls hoping not to drop the most important ones. He figured he had a few moments before converging with Solomon, so he shifted focus back to Gorca.

Brel

“Cadet Solomon is retrieving diagnostic files for me.” Brel spoke up in what he hoped was a carefully modulated tone. “I required further information on the Intrepid class, and he volunteered his library access in my stead. I apologize for my contribution to the delay.”

🤭

Ekoss

Brel’s Task to lie to Gronik has an Assist from Ekoss. Brel bought one extra die by adding 1 Threat. For each character it was a Daring + Command roll: 3d20 for Brel as the main actor, and 1d20 for Ekoss’s Assist, at a Difficulty of 1. It succeeded.

Building on this success, the players spend 2 Momentum to Create Advantage: Team Spirit. The group had now inverted the +1 Difficulty of the Undercurrent of Anxiety into a -1 Difficulty from their Team Spirit, all on behalf of Solomon.

This protective gesture began a chain of events that would alter Solomon’s character from the pre-written adventure, pulling him towards a more positive path and causing his secret to unfold in a very different way than I had planned.

“Yes, and I asked him to pick up some last minute info on maneuverability of some potential foes. Know thy enemy.” Ekoss added as he moved slightly to one side, drawing the proctors attention away from the approaching cadet, and from the apparent argument between his teammates.

Brel

The proctor took in this information, searching Brel’s face, but no equivocation was found there. It was unnaturally blank.

Gorca

Noticing Cadet Solomon enter, Gorca just pursed his lips ruefully and shook his head, indicating he had nothing to say, before casting a quick glance to the proctor and then Brel and Ekoss.

His offer to have a chat with the troubled Solomon would have to wait. He kept an eye on Solomon as he entered, keeping track of where he went and ended up in the group so he could sidle up to him when everyone had become less attentive.

GM

After blinking a bit at Brel, then Ekoss, the proctor follows the rest of the group’s eyes in time to see Eric swiftly step into place, next to Gorca. There’s a moment of silence, punctuated only by the swish of the glass door as it slides shut, while the proctor glares at Cadet Solomon. He opens his mouth to speak, but then - scanning the faces of your team - he stops short.

“Ok. Whatever.” he says, smiling a little and with a shake of his head. He drops his PADD to his side and motioning you down the hallway. “Holodeck 12!”

🎊

Brel

Seeing the minor social gamble pay off, Brel returns to neutral position, and evaluates.

Gorca

Gorca’s Task to break through to Solomon was a Presence + Command roll, at a Difficulty of 1.

This was an Opposed Task, Solomon rolling 2d20 using his own Control + Command to see if he could resist Gorca’s overture. His Difficulty was also 1, and the outcome depended on whether he could generate more successes than Gorca. It was a tie, so Gorca won.

Gorca subtly and seemingly naturally fell in line behind the rest of the cadets, finding himself at the back with Solomon.

“Hey Eric,” he said, almost whispering. “Are you alright?”

Renar didn’t expect a heartfelt confession or anything, but he hoped to gauge Solomon’s response to see if he was at least ok to handle the final exam.

👍 (2)

GM

Eric Solomon, a Notable NPC, is a reclusive Cadet under pressure from well-connected parents.

Role: Communications Officer
Rank: Ensign
Traits: Human
Values:
- Freedom Means Having No Expectations

Eric responds to Gorca, in earshot of the others. The proctor walks on ahead, taps keys on a console next to the Holodeck door.

“I’m fine, I…allright, no. I’m not ok. Can’t claim to be, I guess” he says, letting out a laugh. “But I think…’that’s ok?’ You know how it is for me, Gorca. It’s complicated. Coming to the end like this - I guess it weighs extra.” His face stiffens, just a touch. “But I’m ready for this. All this? It’s just…me. But I’ve got it. I’ve got it, now. And nobody else needs to worry about it.”

Gorca

Gorca Renar slowly nods. “I see. Well, Starfleet is great, but it does not have to be a lifelong career. If it is not for you after two years, my father’s diplomatic cruiser could use a chief communications operator with Starfleet experience.” He tries to give Solomon a warm smile, but Gorca’s features had never lent well to overstated facial expressions. He just hoped he didn’t come off too patronizing.

👌 (2)

GM

If Gorca’s Task had failed, Solomon would have clammed-up or shut down.

Also, if Solomon had won, he might have generated Threat. I had previously considered Solomon an Adversary NPC, which would have been revealed to the players if Solomon had won, because the victor of an Opposed Task keeps the excess Momentum (Threat, for Solomon). However, no Threat was generated and Eric’s nature wasn’t revealed, due to the tie.

Furthermore, following Gorca’s outreach and kind offer, and the earlier act from Brel and Ekoss, I privately decided that starting with the next Scene, Solomon would become an Ally NPC, generating Momentum from the group, unless and until some stressor reversed this.

He gazes at you, Gorca, new light in his eyes. He’s still got that lost look, but there’s new energy there, a searching. He opens his mouth, unsure, when the moment is interrupted by the sound of a large automated door opening. “Allright, Group D! Please proceed inside.”

👍 (2)

Scene: Holodeck 12

When a new Scene begins, the players lose 1 Momentum from their pool.

The Haunted Cadet Trait remained in play, but so did the Team Spirit that the group had generated in the previous Scene.

GM

In this Scene, Marvin became the Primary Character for his player, with Brel as Secondary.

Marvin, you find yourself abruptly transported to the holodeck, standing upon the bare grid with the Cadets of Group D, who are gathered here around Ensign Gronik, the proctor. The arch through which they entered is visible, no other adornment has been made; no bridge, no chairs. Adding to your disorientation, the proctor continues his speech to the Cadets mid-sentence, speaking a bit too loudly for the space.

“…so this is a tool we use to ensure you’ll have a full complement of senior staff to carry-out all functions,” says the proctor. “The EEH can receive orders, and act autonomously, within the range of Starfleet ethics protocols. Its personality matrix you…may already be familiar with. It holds knowledge and skills that can be useful - about Science. I want to make this clear - its memory’s been wiped of the events of all prior tests, so do not torpedo your career by thinking you can use this as a tool for cheating. It will not work, and you will regret it.”

👌

GM

“There’s a few more points of orientation,” Gronik adds. “I’m going to take them step-by-step, so if any you have questions please stop me at any time.”

Jatha

Jatha nodded along, not taking the “bait” of exclaiming how they weren’t cheaters. It was soon their time to take the stage: letting the proctor have his uninterrupted moments would hopefully make him more relaxed. He quickly scanned the rest of the team trying to judge their level of anxiety: hopefully it was lower than what he himself felt inside.

GM

In the invitation to play, and in our Session 0, we had shared expectations that this would be a no-win scenario. That would likely mean that each character would “die”, within the simulation - the proverbial Total Party Kill (TPK).

Our goal was then to see that the characters would exit the simulation having grown or accomplished something important to them.

As it happened, one player character would end up placing himself in danger of actual mortal peril.

“First thing,” Gronik continues, “our Prime Directive here is: Cadet Safety. This is a highly realistic simulation. More than you’re used to. The detail goes broad and deep, from the astrophysics of the star systems, down to the beads of sweat on your crew members’ faces. So…space is cold, phasers are hot, and everything breaks. But the safety protocols are fully engaged. You can’t be harmed,” he smiles, “…everybody gets out alive.”

🤘🏻

Marvin

The disorientation was momentary. Having no memory of where he was and being asked to perform was a scenario with which he was intimately familiar. He crossed his arms and attempted to look more authoritative than he felt.

As Proctor Gronik droned on, the EEH sized up the group of cadets. They seemed excited, focused, but not overly nervous. Cadet Jatha? Ah, that explains it; he would have rallied the group fairly quickly.

His eyes rested on the large form of Cadet Sompek, then back to Jatha. Not who he would paired together, but then again, he wasn’t in charge of holodeck repair. He hoped there was something left after the test…

The sights of Cadets Gorca and ch’Vaallen calmed him. Gorca was a skilled medic and exuded a quiet calm. ch’Vaallen he recognized from his medical electives and knew him to be sober about his duties.

Cadet Solomon was there, high-strung as ever, and…the Borg cadet? Well, this would prove to be an interesting test. If only he could remember what it was…

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss found himself standing beside Sompek. The ship’s tactical department would be in good hands. The Andorian was somewhat disappointed to find himself in a blank holodeck instead of having come directly into a (at least seeming) starship bridge.

Seeing the EEH shimmer into existence left him confident in the science section too. And the Captain Jatha, to Ekoss’s right, was solid.
He glanced back and gave Solomon a quick smile, as well as a nod to Dr Gorca.

The Borg engineer was a change, but Ekoss had noted how he’d worked to help Solomon, and decided to give him a chance.

He returned his attention to the proctor who was continuing his briefing.

👍

Ekoss

In fact, the players had done the Character Creation for the USS Thurston, choosing stats and Talents to suit a patrol mission.

Ekoss sidled up to Sompek and whispered with a smile “Ten latinum says we get a Sabre class ship.”

It was a running tradition with them to have a side bet on which class of ship they’d get. Sometimes the others would get in on it. They usually placed it a little sooner than this, but … hey it still counted.

💸 👍 (2)

Sompek

“Never. Too small, too specialized.” Sompek didn’t often take part in things like these, but he’d developed a respect for the tough Andorian. A comradeship that helped him feel a little less out of place. This harmless wager was almost like the friendly combat training they’d taken part in, matching Klingon weapons against Andorian weapons. He glared with (what he hoped was interpreted as) friendly challenge. “The Intrepid is more well-rounded and representative of what we’re likely to serve on. But also capable of carving a swath of destruction through Borg space. So we’ll wager our honor… and ten strips of latinum.”

👍

Ekoss

“With a war on, a warship might be the way they go. And I love the Sabre. You’re on.”

👍

GM

“Now you know it’s not real,” continues Gronik. “Problem is, your body doesn’t. Your nerves, your hormones, your heart - or hearts (with a glance at Sompek) - are gonna be going full blast, like it’s life-or-death. And your emotions are gonna kick in. And so, as an extra safeguard, we’ve got everyone on these comm badges. These are the real thing. Among other features, they’re going to monitor your vitals and let us know, if there’s anything approaching a true emergency. It’s not gonna happen. But just in case.”

👍

GM

“So I just need to verify that your comm badges are transmitting properly in here.” He pulls up his PADD. “So I’ve got…hang on, I’m only seeing 5. Oh there’s the 6th. Ok, all set.”

“One caveat. You can receive simulated injuries. You’ll know, there’s an ‘effect’. That effect can range from partial immobility to…complete incapacitation. And in here, the medical tricorders will simulate their function, so you can give and receive medical attention,” he nods at Gorca.

😮

Jatha

“What about pain?” asked Jatha. "Will there be simulated discomfort as well as restraining force fields and, I presume, ‘visual adjustments?’ He was hoping for any kind of yes, as this would bring a welcome edge to the performance; the more real it felt, the more accurate performance he’d get from the team.

👍 (2)

Gorca

Gorca nods tersely back to the proctor but then turns his attention to Jatha as he puts forth his question.

Besides Solomon, he is pretty much ignoring everyone else.

GM

Gronik nods at Jatha. “It’s just like that, Cadet. Now I need to be careful here - the Academy doctors wouldn’t call it ‘pain’. Maybe they’d say it’s more like ‘pressure’ - heh,” he glances at the EEH. “But it operates on multiple levels and it is not pleasant. Between you and me, yeah, it’s pain. The fields are very well calibrated, including to your species and individual medical profiles. It’s not more than you can bear. But I think you Cadets are savvy enough to know, this final exam is in part about facing down fear. All of this is in service of that.”

Sompek

Sompek nudged Ekoss. “If there’s no pain, there’s no point.”

Marvin

“And if you still feel the distress levels here are lacking, you still have your Interplanetary Law final to worry about, Mr. Jatha.”

😂

Marvin

“Proctor Gronik, if we’re quite done indulging everyone’s masochistic dreams of glory, perhaps we move on with the simulation.”

😎 (2)

GM

“Oh, that reminds me - all of the above applies to the EEH as well. It’s been configured to simulate internal distress responses. In fact, all the holograms you interact with are subject to this and may require your care. So don’t forget to look after ‘Marvin’, Cadet Gorca! Or it’ll be a situation of, what’s the phrase? ‘Physician, heal thyself!’…hehe…ok.”

😨

GM

“Next topic: exit criteria.” says Gronik. “This is very important: the simulation will stop when the observer is satisfied that the evaluation is complete. It will not be stopped or paused before that point, for any reason, unless there’s a situation of true medical emergency.”

Jatha

“What about communication? Will we be receiving ‘Starfleet Command orders’ from you, or the simulation? If that is applicable, that is.”

GM

“Great question, Cadet Jatha. There’s just one more detail I need to cover, then you’ll be meeting the observer on the bridge of the Thurston. She’s not a hologram, hehe, she’s…here in the holodeck already, making preparations. She’ll be giving you your orders.”

Jatha

Jatha nods in silence to signal he’s satisfied with the response.

Ekoss

Ekoss addresses the Proctor “It will be obvious who the observer is, right? We wouldn’t want to accidentally shoot him or her.”

GM

“Oh yes. You’ll meet her soon; she’ll introduce herself and give you your mission briefing.”

GM

“Final note. Within this simulation, you’ll assume ranks typical for your function, and the authority needed to carry out your role. Cadet Jatha, you’ll be addressed as Captain. Cadets Brel and Gorca, you’ll have the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Your departments are staffed, and you may need to issue orders to them. Cadet Sompek, you’ll be a Lieutenant, along with the EEH. Ch’Vaallen, you’ll be a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, and Solomon you’ll have the rank of Ensign.”

👍

Sompek

“Acknowledged,” Sompek rumbled.

GM

Gronik nods back at Sompek. “Let’s be clear: this is not meant to make light of the distinction of rank. We know you haven’t earned these ranks, or even these uniforms, yet. This is a ‘wargame’, a role-playing exercise. It enables you to practice stepping up to authority and responsibility which we hope you will someday hold.”

👍

GM

“Cadets, do you have any further questions for me?” A moment of silence ensures; Eric looks at the floor.

Marvin

Two small gold pips materialized at the EEH’s collar. He looked askance at them and muttered, “Well, I won’t let it get to my head.”

❤️ 😆

GM

“In that case Officers, welcome aboard the USS Thurston: an Intrepid-class Starship currently fitted for patrol in the Alpha Quadrant. You’ve been aboard ever since you walked into this room. You’ll find you’re presently located within Holodeck 2, and can step into the corridors of Deck 6 by walking through that arch.” He gestures at an archway - is it the same one as before? “You’ll find her fully realized.”

“Your immediate instructions are to make your way to the bridge, to meet the observer and receive your briefing. We’ll see how well you know your way around an Intrepid,” he says with a grin. “Brel, please join the other officers for the briefing - if after that, you wish to take up station in Main Engineering, that’s fine. And with that - I wish you good luck.”

“I will comply.”

Sompek

Sompek couldn’t help but jab Ekoss in the side. “Pay up, jupwI’neS.”

😆 (2)

Marvin

As the cadets drained out, the EEH hung back until he was the last in the room. He walked carefully up to the arch and stared at it. He slowly extended a foot to the edge until it passed through the threshold. Nothing happened. Stepping down, he gradually moved his entire body out into the waiting hallway. He patted his solid form.

“Hunh.”

He smiled to himself. Looking back into the room, he fought a sudden, terrible urge to run back in. Quickly, he strode to catch up with the group.

❤️ 🤘🏻

Ekoss

Ekoss passed the wager to his Klingon friend as they passed into the “ship”, simultaneously reviewing the performance stats of the Intrepid class through his mind with a smile. It wasn’t a Sabre, nor even a Defiant but he knew he could make it dance.

Gorca

CadetLieutenant Commander Gorca Renar exited the holodeck alongside CadetEnsign Solomon. He immediately began looking for a data padd. He had studied the schematics for several contemporary Starship classes, though it had been over a month since he’d seen the deck plans for an intrepid class. He wanted to freshen up on the layout in case he had to run to and fro throughout the ship in his duty of healing others.

Besides that, and the bio-neural gel packs that coursed through the vessel like veins, the starship class was of little concern to him. As he snatched a data padd from a tool cabinet in a small alcove leading into a Jeffries Tube, adjacent to the corridor they were moving down, Doctor Gorca activated it and glanced around at both the group and any holographic crewmembers milling about in the hallways.

The first thing he pulled up on the padd was the crew compliment. He knew it would be over 100, even if it was a skeleton crew, but he was curious as to how much “support” the students would be receiving.

Sompek

Sompek made directly for the bridge, and the tactical station. He was familiar with the tactical loadout for the Intrepid Class, but wanted to confirm especially one thing. A device that was a source of controversy in some corners that Voyager had carried. He’d been told that the Thurston carried the same loadout as Voyager, but only a fool goes into battle without confirming the weapons at his disposal.

Jatha

Jatha contemplated the ship they’d been given, as it presented him with a new, unknown factor. He knew about shields, warp, photon torpedoes and such as they were a familiar presence on all starships, even shuttles. The basics hadn’t changed much over 200 years or so.

The wildcard in this equation was the neural gel packs spread through the ship, of which he had limited experience. The technology bordered on medicine rather than engineering, and he felt glad he’d put a medical officer as 2nd in command. He would not hesitate to ask advice, but it also felt good he had an option of making some decisions someone else’s “problem”. Micro managing every question would not fly.

He also had no issues letting Sompek take the lead. After all, they only had to reach the nearest turbo lift. Surely they weren’t expected to crawl through Jeffries tubes this early?

👍

Scene: The USS Thurston

I carried-forward the Trait Team Spirit, as the players had not yet had a chance to make use of it, as well as the Haunted Cadet Trait for Solomon.

GM

The players named the USS Thurston after mathematician William Thurston, imagining that some of his research was utilized in the computations of the holodeck’s simulations.

We’re given a brief montage - shots of your group in the corridors set to a slow crescendo of the score. Gronik was right: the ship is all here, and very much alive. Anywhere you look - each panel you examine is humming, each corridor you glance down extends as far as it should, and there’s staff everywhere doing the things that they would. You pass by a shift change being negotiated in a transporter room. Operations personnel carry heavy equipment into sick bay, overseen by a medic who catches Gorca’s eye mid-speech, her eyes brightening at spotting her Chief as she continues to instruct the others. It’s the staff, even more so than the ship, which begins to eat away at your knowledge that this is all a simulation. They walk down the corridors purposefully. They look in your faces, meet your gaze - then straighten, nod, and walk on with greater care. Are these all holograms? Are some of them actors? “Captain,” they acknowledge in passing. “Morning, sir,” says one.

GM

We get a quick hand-cam shot of our 6 Cadets and the EEH, stuffed into the turbolift. Then the door opens with a swish, and we see you step out, onto the bridge. It’s exactly as you’ve pictured it, or as you’ve known such places from your past, complete with the hum of console noises, bridge staff attending to their tasks, and all the signals that indicate you’re at the epicenter of a working starship. Sompek steps through first, Jatha close behind, and then the others.

GM

An aging Vulcan sits in the Commanding Officer’s chair, gazing ahead at a map of the Alpha Quadrant on the main viewscreen, a cup of coffee cradled in her hands. Seen from the rear, most of her long, silver hair has been contained in a neat bun, held in place with two wooden pins. Upon hearing the door swish, she slowly turns to see you, and then rises, revealing a wiry strength and presence that her age belies. As she presents herself fully to you, you recognize her, from the history books and holos: it’s Saavik, retired Captain of the USS Le Guin, former officer aboard the USS Grissom and most famously the USS Enterprise.

😮 (2) 👏

GM

Captain Saavik, a Major NPC, is a retired veteran.

Traits: Vulcan
Values:
- Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations
- Knowing the Rules Means Knowing When to Break Them
- Hope is Reborn in Each Generation

“Captain on the bridge,” says an alert voice - it appears to have come from off to the right, where an Andorian Ensign stands at attention, now staring at Jatha. As you glance around the bridge, you find many pairs of still, expectant eyes aimed your way from staff who’ve ceased their work momentarily. Chief among them are Saavik’s, who slowly casts her gaze across your group, the hint of a smile on her face. “Welcome, Cadets. I will be your observer for this examination.”

😱

Jatha

Jatha neither could or tried to hide his excitement. Being saluted made him instinctively nod and softly say “at ease” to the room in general, before he focused on Saavik with a smile:

“Thank you sir,” he said, bowing his head in respect; “I’m sure I speak for everyone saying we welcome such an experienced officer to review us. Any wisdom you share will be appreciated.” After that, he held his silence, still smiling.

😱 👍

Gorca

Gorca was still thinking about the female medic who’d caught his eye earlier, even as Saavik addressed them. At this point, the Chief Medical Officer no longer considered himself a student, though he was finding it slightly hard to concentrate as he wondered if the medic was a hologram or not. Hell, even if she was, she might have been an AI akin to the EEH, perhaps the EMH Mark II or III. He found himself hoping she was flesh and blood though, followed by a sudden realization that he really shouldn’t hope that. What if she was injured…?

His smitten attention was broken by Captain Jatha’s speech. He nodded alongside him as he spoke, and then remembered to cast a glance back to Ensign Solomon. He gave him a wide grin, this time gauging Solomon’s reaction so to as not look patronizing or creepy.

As he turned back to his elder, a hint of sadness crossed Gorca’s eyes. He’d gone to his instructor the day before with a request to bestow Solomon with a rank of at least junior lieutenant; his instructor had rightfully informed him that he did not have the authority, ability, or inclination to do so.

Gorca straightened himself and cast his first look around the bridge. He peered beyond Capt. Saavik, Ret., and let his eyes fall upon the small console rail-mounted behind the command area. He told himself he would have to make sure he reconfigures it for sensors, casualty reports, and trauma team dispatch.

💕 👍

Marvin

The cadets continued to alternatively gaze around at the various bridge consoles or the illustrious captain, but the EEH’s gaze was inward, as he searched for some sense of familiarity. This ship was one on which he would’ve been stationed, served his true purpose. As they passed by the medbay, he found himself avoiding looking in, fearing to see himself in there, what he could have been. Instead, he sifted through his feelings, trying to find…he didn’t know. A belonging? A mission? But, nothing was there.

He realized he had been daydreaming, and brought himself up short.

👍

Sompek

Sompek knew of her, of course and was aware that as closely she was connected to Kirk and Spock and Enterprise she had wisely transferred off the ship (that was the rumor, anyway) before the Khitomer event. His father had met her once, via viewscreen, and said little about the exact circumstances. But he had conveyed the power of her presence, and mentioned the rumors of her Romulan blood. Sompek found her to be charismatic, and despite her age and breeding, strikingly attractive. So much so that he was forced to drag his attention back to the situation at hand.

💕 👍

Ekoss

Ekoss tried to catch another glimpse of the Andorian Ensign as he switched to a parade rest stance to mask his … eagerness to begin the actual test. Assuming it hadn’t actually already started that was . She seemed familiar somehow…

👍 (4)

GM

“Thank you, Cadet Jatha,” says Saavik, “Captain Jatha, for the remainder of this exercise. It is quite agreeable to be here. Please join me in the ready room, all of you. The staff will complete preparations of the bridge, while we review the mission objective. Yes, please proceed, Lieutenant,” she confirms for Sompek, “I will follow you. Good morning, Lt. Cmdr, it is good to see you in such good health following your liberation. Doctor, always a pleasure…” she continues greeting each of you in turn.

When she gets to Solomon - the last to move - she asks “Ensign, good morning, are you well?”

“Thank you sir, yes, I’m fine,” he nods, then quickly looks away. His eyes meet Gorca’s. When he sees your look, he says again, more softly “I’m fine.”

She enters the ready room, the door swishing shut behind her. She stands next to the wall display. “Computer, the border map again, please.”

Marvin

A brief hitch in the EEH’s stride as he, by habit, started to take up a spot off to the side of the room to observe. A small reassessment had him sit slowly but definitively near the end, next to Ens. Solomon.

👍

GM

“For this scenario, we must ‘turn the clock back’ several months. We will be placing you at a fragile moment before the outbreak of the war which now consumes us.”

GM

“After having delivered a…decisive blow to the Klingon Empire,” she sends a look of careful commiseration towards Sompek - “the Cardassian Union has declared fealty to the Dominion, escalating a mounting threat to the entire Alpha Quadrant. Fears run high. The promise of Bajoran sovereignty, the safety of colonies and countless worlds throughout the quadrant, and peace within the Federation now hang by a thread.”

GM

“In recent days, yet more distressing reports have emerged about the treatment of the dissidents residing in the Demilitarized Zone at the hands of the Cardassians. We have confirmed that they have eradicated the Maquis communities in a series of coordinated massacres. In addition to trampling intragalactic conventions and all morality, we consider them to be in violation of the Federation/Cardassian Treaty which has kept the broader peace for these recent years.”

♥️

GM

“Nevertheless, the Federation will continue to hold to that Treaty, for as long as possible, in the hopes that a detente may be achieved through…” at which Saavik is interrupted by the door chime.

GM

“Come.” she says in reply, and the Andorian from the bridge enters the ready room.

“Captain, the bridge stations are fully configured. The staff have been dismissed aside from minimal support functions.”

“Very good, Ensign zh’Vhynnal. Ensign?” Saavik asks, as the officer turns to leave. “Please remain, and hear the briefing.”

“Yes, sir,” says the Ensign, who stands to the side to view the map, now listening attentively, her hands behind her back.

Jatha

Jatha welcomed the interruption. Hearing about the Maqui eradication always shook him. He’d had some friends there… all dead now. Every time the subject came up he felt like being dragged down by heavy weights while burning from inside. The door chime snapped him back to.. ‘reality’. “I wonder” he thought, “if they adapted the scenario this way to test our resolve.” They’d hit a weak spot within him. Maybe this was a true test of character after all. He looked more serious than he had in a long time. Determined, with hints of anger and sadness. But he didn’t say a word.

👍 (2)

Sompek

Sompek heard her words and silently fumed. He knew of the cowardly betrayal by the Cardassians. His father’s ship, the Tong Vey, had been damaged and taken off the frontlines as a result. Only recently had it been brought back up battle worthiness, having missed several important engagements. He knew this was a simulation. He knew that his father was fighting again. He also knew that Cardassians and their Dominion masters would someday be made to pay for what they had done. But he felt his father’s anger and frustration as if the ambush had taken place yesterday, even as he bit the inside of his lip and tasted his own blood. bortaS bIr jablu’DI’ reH QaQqu’ nay’.

👍 🥶

GM

Saavik continues. “The Cardassians have claimed the DMZ as their sovereign territory. Colonies on our side of the border are beginning to fortify, or evacuate.”

GM

“Your mission is to patrol the border of the DMZ, searching for any sign of Cardassian incursion into Federation space. Starfleet Intelligence has provided us with a series of 15 waypoints; star systems on strategic routes out of the DMZ either towards vulnerable Federation outposts, or known to be preferred by the Cardassians prior. You are to detect warp signatures, or any other evidence of Cardassian fleet movements, and report this information to Starfleet Command.”

GM

A new Mission Directive was introduced: Uphold the Federation/Cardassian Treaty.

As with the other Directive, Be Worthy of Starfleet, I had hoped that the story might give various characters a chance to both use, and/or challenge, these Directives.

“As I stated, the current position of the Federation is to adhere to the Treaty we hold with the Cardassian Union, while engaging in diplomatic and other channels, in the hopes that a state of normalcy can be regained. Be mindful of the agency you are given,” she looks at Jatha, “as the commander of a Starfleet vessel with the power to ignite or avoid large-scale conflicts through your actions.”

GM

“This is a reconnaissance mission. At points along your route, you will likely find the Thurston to be the only armed Starfleet vessel within a radius of several hours.”

GM

“Captain, officers of the USS Thurston, do you have any questions, before you embark?”

Marvin

The EEH had a few questions, and more than a few biting remarks, but they would wait. This was the cadets’ show now.

He looked from student to student, each wearing pensive expressions on their faces that he had seen many times over a professor’s thorny question. But this was no classroom, but a deadly earnest mission briefing.

His gaze shifted to Captain Saavik, her raptor brows framing an iron gaze that betrayed no emotion. She seemed to be doing no less than sending the ship and all her crew into mortal danger.

Outside the windows, the arc of the planet below loomed large. The clouds and land were painted there in infinite detail. The reality of this test was beginning to creep over him like a cold shadow.

❤️

Jatha

Jatha couldn’t think of one, which annoyed him greatly. It was one of his earlier feedbacks: you’re constantly jumping into action when you should think, and analyse, Mr Jatha echoed in the back of his head. He decided to shift initiative, since the room seemed to be waiting for him. He’d seen Sompek focus on studying the weapons several times, even approached him at one point to ask what he knew about it. And Sompek respected the chain of command too much to talk before the CO had Jatha suspected.

“There is one unclear detail regarding our tactical capabilities. Mr Sompek can elaborate the deeper details, unless that question was recently answered.”

By design, Jatha skipped pleasantries today. A commander does not ask a warrior to do his job - he commands it. He just hoped to put the proper tone of authority in his voice.

Ekoss

Ekoss refocused his attention on Saavik raised his hand and asked “Have there been any Cardassian incursions past the DMZ into the Federation proper? Either by military or quote civilian unquote ships?“

Brel

Lt. Cmdr Brel waited for a pause in the conversation longer than established parameters. “A diplomatic treaty requires two parties to come to an accord for mutual cooperation and enforcement.” He paused 1.6 seconds for emphasis.

“The Cardassians have joined with the Dominion, they no longer accept the bounds of the Demilitarized Zone. If we find that they have now crossed into Federation space, is it not logical to hold that treaty in abeyance? Any Cardassian ships we find will most likely attack with lethal intent. Must we not do the same?”

Sompek

Sompek controlled his impatience. “Request permission to access our tactical database. I need to know the weapons at our disposal.”

Ekoss

“Also, will we be transiting the badlands? I’ve heard it’s … challenging navigationally.”

👍

GM

“Captain, Lieutenant,” begins Saavik, addressing Jatha and Sompek, “it is logical that you would seek full command of your ship’s tactical manifest. Unfortunately, I have not been made aware of the fine points. I have been told that USS Thurston has a standard complement of weapons systems typical for the Intrepid, and is fully stocked. I believe as well, that the Thurston, as a simulated vessel, was generated from source information gathered on an Intrepid-class starship that is currently in service. You shall be granted full access to assess this via the ship’s databases, and can even employ visual accounting if you like. Ensign zh’Vhynnal, please ensure that the officers of the Thurston have full access to ship manifests - to all databases.”

zh’Vhynnal nods. “Yes, sir,” she says, and leaves the ready room.

GM

Saavik turns to Brel. “Lieutenant Commander, you are not wrong. The presence of a Cardassian ship found within Federation space must at this stage be considered an act of war. Whether you engage such a vessel is a question that all of you must answer, based on the conditions in which you find yourselves. Are you able to prevail against the adversary? Are you putting the lives of your crew at too high a risk? Is there some greater good - the lives of others, a strategic goal, a larger threat which may be countered - that you can serve by taking that risk upon yourselves? It is auspicious, that you are already contemplating these questions.”

👍

GM

“Lieutenant ch’Vaallen, let me address your questions as well. To our knowledge, no Cardassian warships have yet crossed into Federation space in this recent period. If your reconnaissance efforts reveal evidence of this, it will represent a significant escalation. As well, we are not aware of Cardassian civilian vessels traveling into Federation space.

Fortunately, the waypoints provided by Starfleet Intelligence are not likely to carry your ships through the region known as the Badlands. However, it is an interesting metaphor, perhaps. If the Badlands are characterized by unstable physical properties, perhaps the region you will be sent through possesses a similar instability, of a political nature.”

👍

Brel

Brel acknowledged the answer with a small decline of the head, then returned to a neutral position.

Ekoss

Ekoss replied “Thank You Ma’am.“

GM

As the last question is addressed, the ready room falls briefly silent. Saavik looks across the faces of your group. “I will be disembarking following this briefing, to observe remotely.” She rises, scanning your faces, then seeming to gather herself for words of parting. Then caught by an insight, she inquires, “Captain Jatha, what is this? If I may ask.” She gestures at the food offering that you’ve brought.

😋

Jatha

As she rises, so does Jatha.

“An old tradition. In prehistoric times, members of a tribe often shared a meal before facing hardship or battle. It brings people closer, and I thought it fitting if we are to act as one.” He paused shortly.

“Would you join us, sir? This,” he gestured to the bag, “isn’t vegetarian but I have the replicator pattern as well, and it’s easily modified.”

GM

She pauses. “By all means, Captain. You honor these officers, and myself as well. My dietary practices are not absolute. Let’s eat.”

GM

The group divides the work; tableware is quickly replicated, servings doled-out, heated. You sit again at the conference table, the map of the Cardassian border still visible over your shoulders, and eat.

Sompek

Sompek studied the table and grunted quietly. There was gagh, but it was replicated. Of course. Impossible to hope for live and properly processed gagh on this simulated ship. “My friend Ekoss, are those Ice-bore worms? Not as good as gagh, but they’ll do. Qatlho’.”

Marvin

As the food was portioned out and the others began to dig in, a separate set of dishes of the same food and sauces materialized next to the EEH. Looking over, Jatha favored him with a quiet wink. Rolling his eyes, the EEH began serving himself from the holographic buffet.

Jatha’s examination mealtimes were a small tradition. Once, having offered a plate to the holographic TA, the EEH rebuffed him, saying that the post-holodeck cleanup would be…messy. The other cadets giggled, but the very next exam, Jatha had a set of holographic food created for him, and continued that tradition ever since.

It was a silly, sentimental action. Food had little allure for him. Still. The EEH smiled warmly, and spread a healthy amount of chutney onto some small naan, falling into the same comfortable silence as everyone else.

Ekoss

“Those ARE ice-bore worms. And tellec sauce. “. Ekoss grabbed a bowl, piled some white rice in and topped it with the worms, and a generous coating of sauce. “I’ve learned it goes really well with human rice.”

👍 (2)

GM

Saavik raises a spoon to her lips, inhales, then consumes the portion, with intention. “Very good.” She eats in silence for a moment.

“After I disembark, you will be on your own, Cadets, on the border of the Federation, and the brink of potential war. You may find yourself facing difficult choices. But this is not merely a test of ingenuity, or of judgement. It is a test…” she pauses, then seems to change course, and takes another bite.

“In the traditional craftwork of many Earth cultures,” she digresses, still eating, “artisans create substances of rare value, by placing raw materials in an enclosed space, and subjecting them to very high temperatures: a crucible.” She smiles, stands.

“Good day, Cadets,” she says. “And good luck.”

👍

Scene: Embarkation

As in the previous Scene, I preserved the Team Spirit and Haunted Cadet Traits.

GM

Your meal completed, Saavik has left and you’re settling into the bridge. zh’Vhynnal is here, typing into a wall console.

👍

Ekoss

On his way to the helm, Ekoss made sure to walk past Ensign zh’Vhynnal, checking her insignias and uniform color to determine her role on the ship.

He then relieved the watch stander at helm and logged in, taking control of the helm and running a quick review for the ships location, course, speed and overall status.

Jatha

“Helm, plot a course along the de-militarised zone. Keep us at a ‘polite distance’ of 350 billion kilometres. We should be able to keep a steady eye that way, but be ready to arrive quickly if needed.”

“Tactical, make sure we are ready for engagement, but make sure any tactic isn’t dependant on us firing first, if possible. And don’t forget about internal security, if we receive unwelcome guests.”

“Marvin, I want a full sensor sweep - passive sensors only for now to identify any ‘unknown parameters’ we need to worry about. We don’t need to announce our location to every ship in the sector, but we need to know what’s in front of us.”

“Mr Brel, report to main engineering. I’m sure we’ll need repair teams standing by later, but right now I’m interested in our capabilities - I know what the manifest says, but every ship is different. I need specifics; let me know our top speed and every other specific parameter that might prove important. Use your best judgement.

“Mr Solomon, I want you to monitor subspace channels, we might pick something up that needs immediate attention. Don’t hesitate to bring anything to me or Mr. Gorca at any time. Oh, and address all decks that we’ll begin our patrol as soon as all departments report ready for launch.”

“Mr Gorca - your job is to… question my logic, if you se any flaws. But don’t forget your first duty is to execute my orders, until your medical duties take precedence. At any time, feel free to prioritise your role but let me know.”

Jatha sat down in the commander chair to see the crew - his crew - spring into action. He tried not to smile too wide, but he had no intention of hiding it either.

🤛

Sompek

Sompek’s search for the Tricobalt Warheads in the ship’s manifest was a Create Advantage Task with an Assist from the ship. He used his Focus in “Tactical Shipboard Systems”, which increased the chances of critical success. I allowed this to Succeed at Cost, but it succeeded naturally. A Make it So Determination spend would also have worked.

The Tricobalt Warheads were treated as a technology Trait. I referenced Continuing Mission’s resource for Tricobalt Torpedo stats. I added an Escalation cost of 1 Threat per warhead (there were two, from Voyager lore), and added the rule that upon a successful hit, they apply a Trait of Spatial Interference. This Trait would later be used in fun ways during the battle.

The briefing finished and the meal complete, Sompek was finally happy to get to the bridge and the tactical station. He understood the importance of rituals and group gatherings as a social bonding tool. But he was also eager to get to work. The course that he’d taken on Voyager had left him with a singular question overriding all others. How would a single starship survive on its own with no allies or starbases to fall back on? What weapons and defenses would it have? Advanced as it was, it was a small ship in unknown space. He’d been told that the Thurston had the same loadout as Voyager, and he assumed that that included the tactical manifest. The same store of weapons and tactical abilities. And so he began to search through all of its specifications. Shield ratings and power curves. How to use the sensor suite and phaser tracking control to increase weapons accuracy.

Sompek

Traits let players engage in world-building along with the GM, and determine the way they’re going to accomplish their goals. Sompek’s player was using his knowledge of the USS Voyager and Trek lore to add a fun element to the story, in a way that was very true to his character. We reasoned that Sompek could have studied the manifest of the USS Voyager, a famous lost ship, in a course at the Academy (see Session 0), and noted the Tricobalt Warheads that it contained. I loved that finding these “easter eggs” within the simulation was a crafty, unexpected approach that seemed in line with tropes about the Kobayashi Maru test.

The number and placement of phaser arrays and their power ratings. Preset power allocation settings to maximize their battle worthiness. Store and capability of photon torpedoes. And… tricobolt devices. Two tricobolt devices. The library computer defined them as subspace weapons, that would be outlawed shortly after the time period of their simulation. That meant that they were still technically legal, no matter how they might be frowned upon. He glanced back at his crewmates and hesitated. Then he closed out the database he’d been searching, and turned to his captain. “Request permission to conduct a physical inventory of our tactical loadout.” The computer said that they should have them. But only a fool would go into battle without physically confirming the weapons at his disposal. Something else teased at his thoughts. Something trivial, but a mental tickle he couldn’t ignore. Something about the name “Thurston” and a lost ship. Something from human culture. Something trivial, he was sure, but impossible to ignore. Something… something about a three hour tour. Whatever. It couldn’t be important. His eyes settled on Jatha and waited for permission.

😂 (2)

Jatha

“Granted, Lieutenant. But hurry back, we have duties beyond our individual stations. Whatever you have in mind will be… interesting to hear about.”

Jatha nodded to Sompek to proceed. Still not knowing what he had in mind, he was intrigued.

Sompek

Sompek quickly nodded his thanks and left the bridge.

Marvin

Marvin’s player had decided to switch back to Brel (a Supporting Character) in this Scene, to carry-out engineering Tasks of higher Difficulty. He was still able to play Marvin, but was only able to perform Tasks of Difficulty 0.

Marvin wanted to scan passively, to avoid tipping off any potential adversaries. Normally at Difficulty 0, that increased the Sensor Sweep Task to Difficulty 1, making it impossible for his character to perform directly in this Scene. However, the Thurston’s Advanced Sensor Suites Talent brought this back down to 0.

“Aye, sir.” intoned the EEH, and turned to his Science station, set off to the left of the viewscreen. He did a quick mental search of his memory banks, and sure enough, there were a host of newly loaded sensor specs and protocols for the Intrepid class. Most of it was old-hat, but there were a number of newer subroutines devoted to leveraging the bio-neural gelpacks to organize and pre-screen much of the incoming data via trained neural networks.

“Hm!” An longtime appreciator of any biological complex, the EEH took all this to heart and began his search. Extending the long-range sensors to maximum, he set to attenuating the wavelengths to capture the same amount of data but taking pains to avoid disturbing the surrounding subspace…

Brel

Brel performed a Create Advantage to establish Well-Tuned Impulse Engines. Movement-related Tasks are typically Difficulty 0, but Complications and other Traits can increase this. Having an engine-related Advantage would keep those Difficulties low, even in the face of the unexpected.

As the Chief Engineer directing his team, he could have used Presence + Engineering to lead the team, but Brel’s style was to use Reason + Engineering, using his acumen to determine how best to optimize the ship.

Aboard a starship, Create Advantage Tasks remain at Difficulty 2 (all things being equal), but you can receive an Assist from the ship if you use it or its departments to accomplish your Task, making this a powerful option aboard ship.

Brel’s Task succeeded, and he then spent 2 Momentum on top of it to Create another Advantage: Engineering Readiness. This would decrease the Difficulty of future Tasks involving the Engineering department.

“Aye, sir.” Brel of None did an about-face and briskly walked to the turbolift. “Main Engineering by way of Decks 5 and 9, proceed.” The turbolift hummed as it followed an optimal path to Main Engineering. 33.2 seconds later, the doors opened and Brel continued his measured pace along the hallway, entering the doors of Main Engineering. The great beating core of the Thurston extended up and down several decks, waves of blue light washing over the room in a vital pulse. Brel’s focus remained on a PADD in-hand as he made his way to the Impulse Manifold console and typed in a few commands. Satisfied with the initial findings, he turned around a took a breath.

“Engineers, your attention, please.” He waited several moments, and another moment more to ensure every eye was on him. “I am Lt. Cmdr Brel, I will be serving as Chief Engineer on this mission. Your orders are to relay exact specifications of the following systems to me: maximum warp capabilities, maximum impulse capabilities, current warp power output curves, current shield harmonic signatures and nutation, time of last hull refurbishment and baryon sweep. I estimate these tasks will require 47 minutes of time, but I endeavor that you proceed with all due haste. Ens. Engstorm, as the ship’s impulse officer, please attend to me following this briefing.”

Brel paused here and took another breath. He searched his recent experiences and assembled what he thought would be a rallying speech. “There is a high probability we will encounter battle on this mission. You are all adequate to your tasks. Please continue to operate at nominal levels. If we must perish on this mission, let us endeavor to perish simultaneously, to the best of our ability, dismissed.”

❤️ (2) 🤘🏻

GM

Ensign Tima zh’Vhynnal, a Notable NPC, is a junior Engineering officer assigned to maintenance of computer systems throughout the ship.

Traits: Andorian, Hologram
Values:
- No One Should Have to Die Alone

“Good morning, Lieutenant ch’Vaallen, I am Ensign zh’Vhynnal”, says the Andorian, noticing Ekoss’s interest, her tone softening a little as she speaks your names in your shared language. She wears a gold-necked operations uniform. To onlookers, the pair of you look like you could be family, talking like this. “I’ve tried to ensure the Helm console is optimally configured.” She shifts her shoulders a bit, eyeing the console - did she forget something? No. Satisfied, she smiles and states, “please let me know if it gives you any issues.” She walks on towards Captain Jatha.

GM

Observing Ensign zh’Vhynnal is an intriguing experience for you, Ekoss.

Of course she reminds you of folks back home - folks from your set, even. She has that demeanor, that dyed-in-the-wool officer bearing, so familiar to you from among families with generations of Starfleet service. You’ve never met her before, but she could easily be a cousin, a close family friend, deployed and serving onboard a Starship, and here you’re glimpsing her in action.

But here’s the crazy part - it’s not just that, that’s familiar about her. Her personal mannerisms, her simple gestures, the decisive affirmation she gave to Saavik, the way she stands - it’s odd to say this, and it takes you a bit to figure out what it so familiar about them, but they remind you uncannily of Ronald Yellico.

GM

“Yes, Captain,” says Ensign Solomon in reply to Jatha. He settles into his chair slowly, his eyes a bit more alive now, scanning the console for its full functionality.

GM

“Captain, if I may introduce myself,” says zh’Vhynnal, “I am Ensign Tima zh’Vhynnal. I’m responsible for the maintenance of the shipboard computer systems, including bridge consoles. If it’s allright, I’ll stay for a few minutes to ensure they’re functioning and suited to your officers’ preferences. After that, I’m due for my daily report to the Chief Engineer, and have a task list that may take me on some rounds, but I’m always available. Please don’t hesitate to reach me if you need assistance.”

Solomon looks up, at her voice, listening.

Jatha

“By all means, stay as long as you need to Ensign. And, any suggestion you have will be welcome as well since we’re all newcomers to this bridge. Any ‘quirks’ you feel necessary to voice right away?”

GM

“Captain, if I’ve done my job right, there shouldn’t be any quirks!” she brightens. “In fact, if you find a quirk, please let me know! We call them bugs.” she smiles. She’s seems not much older than you. But she speaks with natural authority, her little informalities and liberties the exceptions that prove the rule. You’re familiar with Ekoss being “old Starfleet”, she exudes that aura as well.

Jatha

“Perfect!” Jatha nodded, a bit taken by her friendly yet professional tone. As he didn’t have anything to add, he looked around the bridge, seeking any indication someone else might want to jump at the opportunity.

Jatha

“Now, Lt Ekoss, I have some familiarity with this border due to ‘obvious reasons’. I’d like to bounce off a few things, if you don’t mind. I’d like to assist so I have the route set as clear in my mind as it will be in yours.”

Jatha chose his words and tone addressing the proud Andorian, letting his own investment in the task shine through. He did need to know it by heart, for when the time came to deviate from it.

Sompek

Sompek didn’t waste time getting to the store of torpedoes. According to the manifest, the Thurston held forty torpedoes, all of them in magnetic couplers (an obvious safety feature to prevent any catastrophic accidents). So he cycled the entire store along their mechanical inspection track, looking at each as they passed by him. The first thirty-eight were identical, coffin-like pods physically not much different from their 23rd century counterparts. But the last two were special. Stored in smaller thick and cloudy magnetic bottles. These pods were longer and thinner and black, separated into three sections. A quick scan with his tricorder confirmed his belief. They were, indeed, tricobolt devices, each with a yield of 20,000 teracochranes. Designed primarily to be used against unshielded targets, they were high yield weapons, capable of completely destroying massive structures. The entry noted that they were capable of creating tears in subspace, so banned under the second Khitomer Accords. Fortunately, however, Sompek thought, this simulation took place before those accords were signed. So they were legal, if discouraged. Not a weapon to be used early or casually. He even considered that if they weren’t at a safe distance, they risked damage to themselves from the detonation. He needed to get to the captain with this, and quickly. After quickly locking everything down as it had been, he got quickly to the turbolift and the bridge…

Ekoss

Ekoss’s Plot Course Task was assisted by Jatha, who has personal knowledge of the DMZ. Normally at Difficulty 3, it was decreased to Difficulty 2 because of the Team Spirit established in the prior Scene.

The Task was very successful, generating a lot of Momentum. Ekoss bought one extra d20 by spending 1 Momentum, giving him 3d20 to roll. Because he had bought a die with Momentum, he was able to use his “Cautious (Conn)” Talent to re-roll 1d20 for a better result. Ekoss’s Focus of “Astronavigation” increased the critical range of these rolls from 1 to 4, and he did achieve a critical success. The 1d20 from the ship’s Assist, and the 1d20 from Jatha’s Assist, both succeeded as well.

Plot Course decreases the Difficulty of the next Helm Task. Ekoss chose to further build upon this by spending 2 of the Momentum earned to create an Advantageous Angle of Approach, which would benefit other Tasks as well.

Ekoss used Jatha’s previous knowledge of this section of space and focused on his Astronavigation chore. The normally simple task was complicated by the Captain’s desire to skirt the border as closely as possible. Not that that was a problem. Ekoss carefully balanced staying close to the border and following the waypoints Starfleet had laid out. He plotted an optimal course that should put them in the thick of things, without actually crossing into the DMZ.

As he finished, he cautiously checked his course and found a couple of minor issues. He corrected them and laid in the course, but following protocol did not engage it, just yet.

He looked over his shoulder at Jatha.

“Course plotted and laid in Captain. What speed would you like? Warp five?“

Jatha

“Assuming Mr Marvin didn’t find anything that would complicate, I’ll contact engineering. I’m sure warp 5 will not pose any problem, but it would be polite to let them know. So Lieutenant, any nasty surprises or there?” He turned to the EEH, just as Sompek entered, giving him the usual ‘We need to talk’- look, but as he held his silence, Jatha suspected it was not a time sensitive matter.

👍

Jatha

He acknowledged Sompek with a nod, letting him know he’d been seen. That seemed to satisfy him for the moment, as he went to the tactical station.

👍

Marvin

At Difficulty 0, the purpose of Marvin’s Sensor Sweep Task was to generate Momentum, to be spent to Obtain Information. Buying an extra d20 with Momentum, receiving an Assist from the ship, and drawing upon his Untapped Potential, Marvin was able to generate much more Momentum.

Upon success, Marvin had asked the following questions, each costing 1 Momentum.

- Are there any ships detected along our path?
- What ion or warp trails existed for these ships?
- Are there any navigational hazards en route?
- Is Ensign zh’Vhynnal a hologram?

I answered these in a private message.

At first glance, his last question may seem unrelated to his Task. Obtain Information is a powerful tool for player agency. Players can decide when and how they receive certain information, instead of grasping at straws. As long as there’s some way their character would learn the answer from their Task, I lean into answering the questions. Marvin’s player reasoned that he is standing at the console, able to observe Tima directly, and he himself has the personal Trait Hologram: he should be able to recognize if she is one as well. I agreed.

“Patience. You can’t rush these things, Cad–, Captain.” the EEH corrected himself without looking up. Force of habit. He would have to watch his tone. They would have enough command stress on their plate; he didn’t want to add light insubordination to the list.

A highlighted astronavigation path piped through from the Conn station. A winding path, and very close to the DMZ. He zoomed in on a few places where they surely would cross into the border, but the path was always a few hundred kilometers shy here or there. He stole a glance at ch’Vaallen. Very close indeed.

Using the intuitive UI loadout, he quickly prioritized Cardassian warp and impulse signatures into the working database. Also a standard battery of checks for asteroid field, ion storms, and other standard hazards. The computer set to work, optimizing his queries nicely. He sat back, pleased with the ship’s responsiveness. Ens. zh’Vhynnal seemed to turn then, favoring him with an appreciative smile. As if she sensed his admiration and reflected it back. Strange. He returned the smile a step behind, and looked a little more closely…

Jatha

Jatha smiled at Marvins near- slip; it only cemented his opinion that he was more than a program. There would have been no sense in programming mistakes like that. He decided to take advantage of the waiting time. “Helm, there’s no point in standing still, so let’s get underway. One third impulse speed for now, until we get the lay of the land. But we’ll all get restless just sitting here. Once we get ok from sensors and engineering, we’ll go to warp.”

With that, he stepped over to the tactical station and addressed Sompek. “You look like you found a bunch of wild Targs down there. So what’s this about?” “Captain”, Sompek started, “we have a ‘something’ you need to know about. Look at this manifest…”

As Sompek started to describe the Tricobalt Warheads design, Jatha felt almost like being watched. Why would Starfleet have put them here? Was this a test within the test? He grasped the basics quickly enough, but he couldn’t think of any situation in the past where he’d been inclined to use such a weapon. After Sompek was done, he was silent for some moments, mulling the options. On the third attempt, his second officer got through to him. “Captain? What are your orders?” Sompeks question put him on the spot, for now. He did not intend to stay indecisive, not for long. “Give me a valid scenario where we could and should use them, preferably before we go into combat. If you can convince me of the necessity, I’ll consider it.”

Silently, he was praying that phasers and photon torpedoes would be enough, but he knew the arrogance of the Cardassian fleet - they would not back down if they felt the wind in their backs, sometimes not even if confronted with superior tactics.

Gorca

Gorca saw no reason to be there, so he stood up and said, “Permission to head to sickbay and check on inventory, sir?”

Jatha

“Granted, unless you want to hear the result of sensor sweeps, but we’ll fill you in if there’s anything critical.”

Ekoss

Ekoss engaged the course at one third impulse.

Gorca

C/Lt. Cmdr. Gorca exited the turbolift a couple minutes later onto Deck 9, the location of sickbay. He made his way through the corridor, nodding to fellow crew members here and there until he found himself just outside his destination. With a sharp intake of breath, the man entered and looked around, trying to appear casual. He sought his Physician’s Assistant first, looking for anyone in blue with more than one pip on their gray collar.

Brel

Main Characters in Star Trek Adventures start out relatively high-powered. Supporting Characters, on the other hand, start with lower stats and evolve rapidly, more akin to the early levels of a DnD character. The “experience” that triggers these improvements are the appearances of the character on screen.

This was Brel’s second appearance as a primary character (controlled by Marvin’s player), so he got the chance for an upgrade: his player chose to increase his Daring by 1. As events unfolded, this improvement was quite in-character.

Brel’s upper torso disappeared deep into a nearby access panel, bending far backwards at a strained angle from his legs. Seemingly unaffected, his hand slowly snaked out, “Hyperspanner?” Ens. Engstrom stood nearby, handing Brel the tool and continuing to monitor plasma flow on a nearby screen.

“Pressure is at 1250 kilopascals, rising slightly. Sir? What exactly are we doing?” Engstrom asked.

“The ship uses variable geometry pylons to enact a more efficient warp field around the ship. I am applying the same principle at impulse speeds. If we override the pylon couplings, we can position them to boost impulse response times by 13%.”

“That’s…interesting. Won’t that place a lot of torsion on the nacelles?”

Brel’s form snaked out from the crawlspace and checked the measurements on the console himself. “They will hold. Observe.”

Both men watched the impulse curves flatten out slightly. A marker for nacelle shearing forces inched up slowly, but stopped short of the initial red “danger” line.

Engstrom whistled and scratched his chin idly, “1225 kilopascals, and holding. I’d say we’re up 15%, easy. Well done, sir.”

“Thank you, Ensign.” Brel paused and watched the ensign’s motions. “I do not remember you from the initial briefing. Are you taking the test, as well?”

“Ha ha, aren’t we all? I’d better go help with the inventory, sir.”

Brel’s ocular implant rested on the young ensign for a moment. “Correct. Dismissed.”

👍

Marvin

Here Marvin shares the answers to his Obtain Information questions to the other players, in-character.

“Captain, Mr. ch’Vaallen, a word, please.” The EEH crossed over to lean over the Helm station and waited for the captain to join him. He stood behind Ekoss’s left shoulder and huddled forward. As if on cue, a pulsing notification appeared on the LCARS screen. Pressing it refreshed the current navigational map with the recently collected sensor data.

“Here is what I’ve been able to glean from passive sensors at this distance. As you see, it’s fairly clear sailing. No ships, no navigational hazards on long-range sensors. However, observe here off of Waypoint Alpha-3.” He let silence fill the conversation by habit, letting the two cadets work through the problem on their own. After a beat, they looked to him impatiently to fill in the missing information.

He quickly continued, “The neutrino fields. Here, here, and…here. Notice how they haven’t had a chance to diffuse yet. We’re too far out to be certain, but these could be warp signatures. They lead in a number of directions, including…directly into the DMZ.”

Ekoss

“Into the DMZ? I suppose there are civilians who are…allowed to go into the DMZ. But it’s pretty plainly stupid, especially with the Cardassians being so aggressive. Unless it was Cardassians.“ Ekoss studied the sensor readings. “Any way to tell the type or size of the ships? Though we can be there to take a closer look at the neutrino trails soon enough I guess.”

Jatha

“Let’s hope it’s just another enterprising Ferengi Daimon thinking ‘war is good for business’. How long until we get there at current speed?”

Marvin

“Once we get closer, I should be able to tell you more about these neutrino disturbances. I should also note that the trails have no directionality. A road goes both ways. They could represent ships going into the Zone, or coming out. Or they could be nothing. Again, too far out to be certain.”

Brel (Marvin)

An Ensign entered the Chief Engineer’s office and placed a PADD onto the already cluttered table. Brel picked it up and quickly reviewed the new information.

“That should be everything you asked for, sir.”

“Indeed.” Brel’s eye caught a nearby chronometer. “45.8 minutes. Well done.”

“You have succeeded. Dismissed.” Brel tapped his combadge. “Engineering to Bridge. Engineering reports ready to go to warp. Thurston capabilities match Intrepid-class baselines across multiple systems.”

“Please inform Helm that impulse engine response has been augmented.” Brel listened for a response.

Ekoss

Ekoss checked his helm console, ran a quick check on the impulse engines and how much maneuverability he had to work with. His antenna raised in surprise.

“Helm acknowledges with gratitude, Commander.”

👍 (2) 😊

Brel

Alone in Engineering, the ex-Borg smiled at no one in particular. “Acknowledged. Engineering out.”

Sompek

Sompek understood the captain’s reticence. The tricobolt devices were in all probability a last-ditch weaponry. In his view, they were only to be used as the difference between success and failure. “Captain, I can’t give you any specific circumstances under which we’d need them. But I think we’re going into an area and situation where we’re likely going to be outnumbered and outgunned. And with the possibility of civilians requiring aid. We might need an ultimate threat to present to any aggressors, particularly in this still-early stage of hostilities that we can’t afford to lose.” He knew, outside of the simulation, how desperate the fight had become. How near and dear to the heart of the Federation the enemy could get. So he understood the need to hit them hard and early. They didn’t need any provocation to push further in. They were already determined to hit Earth and Qo’noS. “We may not need these weapons here and today. But we may, and we have them. I only ask that you be open to using them if that’s the only way to victory and survival. If that moment comes, we’ll all know it, and it’s my duty to present you with every tactical option at our disposal.”

Jatha

“Well spoken. The final responsibility lies with the CO, but you have superior knowledge and tactical acumen. When the time comes, I would not let the chain of command drag us beneath the surface. If, in your opinion, we need to use them as a last resort and there’s no time to consult me or Gorca - consider this to be me giving you a go ahead.”

Sompek

“Acknowledged. Thank you.”

Jatha

Jatha smiled and nodded towards Sompek, hoping that it came off as an acknowledgement between equals. He felt he might have crossed the line into being on a “high horse” quoting how CO was responsible - he knew that everyone present knew that.

It was just so hard to invoke the commanding presence he’d seen in Starship Captains. Sometimes, everything he said felt like he was just telling people to do stuff they would have done either way.He focused his eyes on the main viewscreen, as if he could see beyond the sensors range. Unsurprisingly, he could not.

👍 (2)

GM

Lt. Michelle Singh, an NPC without stats, is a doctor with supervisory duties in sick bay.

Traits: Human, Hologram

Nurse Noel Barriere, another NPC without stats, is an enlisted medic on Dr. Singh’s shift.

Traits: Human, Hologram

For some NPCs, I create stats during prep. Others, I might generate in play as they become relevant, and if they need to use or generate Threat, I would pay the cost per their level when needed.

In a cut away from the bridge, the camera slowly tracks behind Gorca as he walks into sickbay. It seems a calm scene, clean, bright. A lieutenant, seated and working on the computer, rises to greet you, eager and professional. Gorca, you recognize her from your transit through the corridors earlier that morning.

“I think you’ll find we’re in good shape for our mission.” She speaks crisply, projecting competence. “We’ve got only one patient at present,” she gestures towards a man on one of the beds, an enlisted medic standing over him, taking readings. “An engineer, head trauma while working. He’s stable, and mending - we don’t expect any complications. I’ve just discharged another with minor radiation poisoning, whom I’m monitoring remotely - also on an improving course, we expect a full recovery. I stand ready for your orders and any intake required from our mission, should that arise.”

Gorca

Gorca began developing a Create Advantage Task to result in an Optimal Sickbay Configuration, preparing for the coming crisis. This was spread-out in narration over this and the next Scene, to allow the ship to go to warp, and set a new stage while he remained in sickbay.

Dr. Gorca Renar moved casually through sickbay, his hands clasped lightly behind his back, as Lieutenant Singh gave him her report; his previous curiosity about her was all but gone.

He would have to admit to himself that he was half-listening, more gleaning insight about his team’s dynamic and the overall preparedness than any factual, tangible data that she could give him. He also had to admit to himself that he found it a tad odd that they were not an hour into their mission and they already had workplace injuries. Had he more experience in the role of XO, Lt. Cmdr. Gorca might have decided to have a word with the patients’ department heads and section chiefs. But right now, he was wearing his CMO hat, the hat he felt more comfortable in - the hat he expected to wear most often during this simu- mission.

Gorca mentally rebuked himself for momentarily falling into that mindset. He turned to Singh after her speech and gave her a typical Gorca he’s either warm and supportive or cruel and unstable smile.

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” he said in a low, deep voice. “Do you happen to have a copy of the medicinal inventory manifest? I want to know everything we have in here. If there’s a laser scalpel with only .001 percent less power running through it, I want to know about it.”

The doctor nodded to her, a silent signal to retrieve said manifest and present it pronto, before crossing his arms and turning to watch the enlisted medic do his job.

Then, as an after-thought, he quickly turned back and added, “I would like a roster of all medical staff as well; please and thank you.”

Then he went back to observing the medic. Gorca’s hand moved up to allow the tips of his fingers to thoughtfully rub his chin.

“You’re doing great,” he told the medic, hoping his presence was not intimidating the young man, but bolstering his confidence.

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss suspected (correctly) that Ensign zh’Vhynnal was a hologram meant to play to his sympathies. He performed a Create Advantage using Insight + Medicine to result in Seeing the Illusion, a “roll to disbelieve.” This would shield him somewhat from psychological manipulation.

On top of this success, he spent 1 Momentum to Obtain Information, asking if zh’Vhynnal was sentient like Marvin. I responded that his insight told him she was sentient, on a spectrum somewhere between the typical holograms and Marvin. I answered honestly, but did not reveal the full nature of her identity yet.

On the bridge, Ekoss watched Ensign zh’Vhynnal moving to calibrate one of the panels in the back of the bridge and beckoned the Captain and Sompek over. In an undertone he hoped wouldn’t be noted by the proctors he informed them “I’m convinced that Ensign Zh’Vhynnal is a hologram, and probably a person in her own right, like Marvin. I’m also convinced she’s a part of the test. Possibly to see how we deal with casualties, possibly something else …”.

👍 😮

Ekoss

“Tell the others when you get a chance.”

Jatha

“So they want us to ‘feel’ for her… clever. I’ll keep it in mind, but this shouldn’t change how we act towards her or anyone else inside the simulation.”

👍

Sompek

Sompek grumbled his acknowledgment. He expected that eyes would be watching him. But not hidden, undercover eyes. Then, remembering those openly watching him, he adopted a neutral look. “I’ll treat her as I would anyone else.”

Ekoss

Ekoss nodded his acceptance. As this was a “person” he would treat her as a fellow officer. Though as she was Andorian and resembled HIS lost friend he couldn’t help but feel she was particularly aimed at him. But he tried to clear that from his mind.

GM

Jatha took a couple of steps towards the captains chair, but felt he needed a bit of calmness, and a cup of coffee.

“I’ll be in my ready room studying up on the details of Cardassian and Dominion warships. Mr Sompek, you have the bridge for now.”

GM

As you exit the bridge, Jatha, Solomon steps towards you.

“I’ve been monitoring the comms, Captain. Nothing so far. But I have let all decks know we mean to warp to the DMZ. They’re all reporting ready. I’ll keep my ear to it, out there.”

GM

Singh moves into action at Gorca’s request, her eyes active, her movement careful. “Right away, sir, I’ll get you that full report in a few minutes,” she says, setting herself to the task at the sickbay desk and console.

The medic glances at you nervously, as you approach. “Good morning, sir.” He looks back at his tricorder, and mutters to the patient, “Ok, crewman, uh…any loss of sensation, since I last took vitals?” The patient shakes his head, shrugs.

Taking it all in, it seems such a normal, placid scene. The lighting is pleasant. The white noise background of the ship, reassuring. Everything ship-shape and tidy. The beds, empty.

Jatha

“Thank you Mr Solomon, good work” Jatha said before leaning in and, in a lower tone add, “glad you’re here Eric” before stepping through the doorway to his office and letting the doors slide shut.

👍

Sompek

Sompek watched the doors to the captain’s ready room close and stared at those closed doors for a beat. Then he turned to the bridge crew and the viewscreen. His family had a phrase passed down as a matter of tradition, from the days of wooden sailing ships that traveled Qo’noS’ oceans. Indeed his infamous namesake had supposedly used it on his way to Tong Vey. We sail for blood!. But this was neither a Klingon ship nor a Klingon crew. Standing by the captain’s chair rather than sitting in it (because it wasn’t his chair yet), he simply looked to his Andorian friend Ekoss. “Set course for the first waypoint. Warp factor five. Engage.”

👍 🩸

Ekoss

Outside of Starship Combat or other special circumstances, it’s not necessary to perform a Task to go to warp, unless the group is looking to see what kind of moment that is: does it generate Momentum? Create an Advantage? Trigger a Complication? Having performed a number of such Tasks, we simply handled this narratively.

“Warp Five aye.” With a tap of his helm console Ekoss sent the Thurston into warp. “We have warp Five, all systems are optimal. Time to first waypoint, 15 minutes.”

👍 🚀 (2)

Sompek

Sompek nodded and tapped his combadge. “Bridge to Captain Jatha. ETA to first waypoint is 15 minutes.”

Jatha

The answer came swiftly “acknowledged bridge, I’ll be with you shortly.”

👍

GM

We see Ekoss’s fingers fly across the console. Quick exterior shot of warp nacelles beginning to glow. Brel and staff look up hopefully at the pulsing heart of main engineering. Gorca and Singh exchange a glance as Solomon’s monotone resounds: “all hands be advised, warp transit imminent…” Jatha looks up from his desk, out the porthole at the starfield, held still for this last moment as the music swells. Back to the bridge. Marvin’s, Sompek’s, Tima’s gaze is drawn forward. Close-up on Ekoss’s face in attention over the console. LCARS display shows an abstract path snaking along an angry red borderland, just before his fingers tap a button which changes color at his touch and then - cut to black, the whoosh and bass of the warp drive flooding the soundtrack.

GM (Interlude)

“Did you hear that, sir? He said…let me read this out…’see how we deal with casualties’” the technician announced.

“Ensign, I’m sorry but I’m still not past this question: where the hell did Sompek find those warheads?” the instructor demanded, bent over the computer.

“According to my observation, he found them,” Saavik said, while checking the logs, “…in the main weapons hold.”

“I know they were - my apologies, Captain. It’s just that, how did they get there? This has got to be some kind of breach. Cheating on this examination will not be tolerated. Not anymore.”

“I observed no evidence of cheating. I noted discussion of Cadet Sompek having studied the USS Voyager and its manifest extensively. Lieutenant, how was the USS Thurston modeled?”

“Well, it…it starts with an auto-generation procedure. We take a real ship and pull as much data on it as we can. The computer then takes that input and fleshes-out the details, interpolates, creates a baseline. Then we hand-tune it.”

“Which ship was used as the seed, for the USS Thurston?”

The instructor paused, then turned to the technician. “USS Thurston to be scrapped after this exam. New ship regen’ed from scratch off a stock Intrepid and every detail scrutinized.” Then to himself, “So then what was Captain Janeway doing with them?”

“…And the systems officer?” Saavik asked, after a pause. “‘The jig is up’, as they say?” Saavik asked.

“Oh, no. They may see through her, but they don’t see all the way through. On that, we proceed.”

🤔 ❤️

Scene: Waypoint 1

Starting a new Scene, I retired the Team Spirit Advantage, feeling that it had played its part. Haunted Cadet was still in play, and the Advantages created by the group in the prior Scene were carried forward.

GM

Effects shot: the Thurston warps-in, coming to an abrupt halt in an empty, featureless system. We see it from beneath, the camera capturing it at an angle while a small blue star is visible aft of the ship - blazing hot, but casting a cold light upon the vessel, its own long shadows falling back across itself.

Back on the bridge, the main viewscreen displays an empty starfield ahead. Within that emptiness is the neutrino cloud detected by Marvin. ch’Vaallen’s angle of approach has placed you in a perfect position to analyze this cloud.

Jatha

Jatha stood up, tugging his uniform jacket in place, and took a step towards the viewscreen. He’d spent the last 5 minutes feeling useless as everyone was going about their tasks accurate and skilfully, and there had been no messages to suggest any department had any issues.

👍

Jatha

“So, Mr Marvin. What can we find out now that we’re closer?”

Marvin

“Let’s see, shall we? Passive scans, sir?”

Jatha

“It’s your call, we’re at short range so whoever could pick up the scan could also have picked up our warp signature hours ago - if I remember your classes about… something with subspace and sensors… correctly. Anyway, you decide.”

Marvin

A scientific eyebrow raise followed. “Comforting. Initiating sensor sweep, full-band.”

Marvin

An affirmative trill sounded, signaling the computer had completed its sweep. A tense silence descended on the bridge. Looking up from his calculations, the EEH saw every eye trained on his movements. He cleared his throat reflexively.

“Right, Computer, cross-reference neutrino fields with known Federation, Cardassian, and Dominion warp signatures. Overlay results on main viewscreen.”

👍 (3)

GM

Marvin’s Task to scan the Neutrino Cloud was modeled on the typical Sensor Sweep (Marvin’s Reason + Science plus the ship’s Sensors + Science), but set at Difficulty 2 because he was researching “obscure information.” However, Ekoss’s Advantageous Angle of Approach took this to 1, and the ship’s Advanced Sensor Suites Talent brought this back down to 0.

This Task generated Momentum and an initial response, and would be followed by Obtain Information spends.

Majel Barrett’s voice responds. “Multiple warp signatures detected.”

The empty starfield on the main viewscreen is overlaid with illustration: a mass of faint red trails. They seem to weave and twist through each other like knots, some trails leading wildly off towards other systems. As a visual impression, it seems as if an entire fleet has moved through this system, either assembling from, or dispersing to, a variety of others. A smaller set of trails seems to lead off towards the DMZ - whether coming, or going, you can’t tell from the image alone.

Off in a corner of the screen, data begins to read-out. Many values are still undetermined, from the muddled cloud. “Enhancement may yield further data,” the Computer advises.

Jatha

This question represented an Obtain Information spend, costing 1 Momentum.

“Computer, Do these trails match Cardassian or Dominion engine signatures?”

GM

The medium of the Computer allowed us to ask and answer the questions in-character.

“Enhancing.”

A scan line makes its way across the multi-media image, new data points streaming-out in the lower-right hand corner, faster than be comprehended. Neutrino density, gaseous composition, microwave background lensing.

“The signatures are associated with Federation starships.”

Marvin

Locked into his usual method of quiet analysis honed over hours of solitary grading, the EEH ran and re-ran the data through various heuristics, his brow furrowed.

Jatha

Another Obtain Information on the original Sensor Sweep Task, costing 1 Momentum.

The players whose characters were working together on the bridge agreed that they could all ask questions of the Computer at 1 Momentum each, building off of Marvin’s scanning Task.

“Huh. Okey… computer, based on current data - can you interpolate direction and probable vector from our location? Overlay star map extending beyond the DMZ.”

GM

“Enhancing.”

The starmap zooms out, the vantage point now many kilometers aft.

Blue boxes spring into life over the red trails, starting on the nearest, most distinct edges, then multiplying across the entire shape like a fractal. The data pinpointed, arrows are now drawn-in.

The arrows point from the DMZ into Federation space. There they branch out, and take wild turns - even appearing to cycle through the same systems again and again. Their endpoint - presumably in one of these systems - is indeterminate.

“Partial path analysis completed. Confounding factors inhibit endpoint determination.”

Marvin

Leaning back in frustration, the EEH stood up and began an unconscious pace back and forth, head down.

“This doesn’t make any sense. What would Federation ships be doing entering from the DMZ? And these patterns…they’re almost trying to obfuscate their tracks…what if…no…perhaps…?” The lines of thought devolved into mutterings, then silence.

Jatha

“This is a possible breach of the treaty, from our end; is there any chance they are civilian ships, or even smugglers? If we cross-referenced with known locations of Starfleet vessels in the sector, would we be able to match size? I’m open to discussion and speculation.”

Jatha posed the question to the bridge crew, not yet addressing the computer.

Ekoss

“Can we correlate the trails with specific classes of ships? That might help..”

Jatha

“I’m not sure, that would be your field of expertise Lieutenant. If you know what to ask for and how; go ahead.”

Jatha

Jatha quickly addressed Eric: “Mr Solomon, do we have anything on subspace channels? Any reports of fleet activity, distress calls or similar that could be related? Take your best ‘guess’ based on what we know.”

GM

I rolled for Solomon’s Task, modeling it as an Intercept Task, assigning a Difficulty of 1. Being a Haunted Cadet, the Difficulty went up to 2.

I had planned to let the Task Succeed at Cost, so that the players would receive the information no matter what. What was at stake in the roll was how successful it might be (leading to increased Momentum), or how much Threat / Complications would result. Solomon being volatile, this was a real possibility, but the roll succeeded naturally.

“Checking, sir” says Solomon.

GM

“I’m getting something faint. It feels like a background signal, kind of like a heartbeat.”

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss decided to initiate a new Task to research what class of vessel might have left the warp signatures. This was set at Difficulty 2, being “obscure” information.

Despite the Assist from the ship’s Computers, this Task failed. I allowed it to Succeed at Cost, adding 2 Threat while delivering his findings.

Ekoss keyed in the computer “Computer, compare observed neutrino trails to those left by known classes of Federation starships. Determine probable classes of the ships that created each trail which crossed into or out of the DMZ.”

Ekoss

“Label each trail on the main view screen with probable class.”

GM

In sickbay, Lieutenant Singh stands up from the desk, brushing her uniform down, and presents a PADD to you, Gorca - you glimpse an inventory list.

“I’ve pulled together a full report on our manifest, Doctor. We’re ready. But let me also detail for you our current staffing approach.”

She turns, guiding your gaze to the medic tending to the injured crewman.

“We have six medical professionals dedicated to sickbay aboard ship. These are divided into 3 ten-hour shifts with slight overlap. Each shift has a supervisor - an attending physician - and a medic. I am lead supervisor and carry-out oversight of all medical staff in your absence. Should the need arise, staffing pulls first from off-shift sickbay personnel, followed by extended Science officers aboard the ship. Please let me know if there’s any more detailed information I can provide, or if you wish to make any changes.”

GM

Ensign Zh’Vhynnal strides into the sickbay. “Good morning, Lieutenant Commander, just making my rounds.” She begins tapping out keys on a wall panel while continuing to talk. “I hope you’re finding all the consoles here configured for optimal function. I checked them myself, before you boarded. They should be in…wait…”

She taps more quickly, making a face. “You reconfigured this?” The question is directed at Lieutenant Singh.

GM

Singh takes a breath, then speaks calmly. “I made appropriate adjustments based on the needs of my patients and medics, Ensign.”

zh’Vhynnal frowns, her brows furrowing. “And did you run the post-configuration diagnostic?”.

Singh smiles. “I saw no need, given that they show every indication of working correctly. I’m a doctor, and these are the tools I use every day. I am qualified to configure them.”

GM

Ensign zh’Vhynnal’s Value No One Should Have to Die Alone and her relationship to Ekoss’s backstory was informing her behavior.

In STA, I try to share NPC stats with the players - including the NPCs’ Values - as early as possible.

“But it’s protocol!” zh’Vhynnal protests. “There’s no reason not to run the diagnostic. People’s lives hang on these tools. You need to know they’re going to work right, when it counts.”

Singh’s face hardens. She glances at you, Gorca, while preparing to speak.

zh’Vhynnal, visibly worried, makes a quick plea to you, before Singh can respond. “Chief, permission to re-run diagnostics on all sickbay computers, in compliance with protocol.” She darts a glance back at Singh, who lets out an angry breath.

👍 (2)

Gorca

Gorca almost bursts out laughing, but manages to restrict it to a shit-eating grin. He crosses his arms over his chest and scrutinizes the panel and its configuration.

“Question,” he states, his slight smile morphing expertly into a cold frown. “Why am I only now finding out about this?” He glances back and forth between both of them, but indicates his question is somewhat rhetorical by continuing: “Neither of you brought this configuration up, to me anyway, and you’ve had plenty of time to do so. Now, normally, I wouldnt make a fuss, but you both seem to find it so outrageously important that you decided to argue about it in front of your Chief Medical Officer, who just so happens to also be your Executive Officer.” His scowl is directed at both of them equally now. “So let’s begin again, shall we?”

Gorca walks across the room and sits down behind his desk in his office. He pretends to be typing something.

Then he says, without giving them a chance for rebuttal, “Ensign, you have checked the consoles before my arrival. Lieutenant, you would like to reconfigure the layout to suit your and your patients needs, never mind what I might need. What should have been your first step, Lieutenant?” Once again, he interjects. “Oh look, I have come aboard and am busy with essential duties, but not duties so essential that I wouldn’t mind a quick distraction…”

Gorca continues to play-act at being busy at his desk, hoping the lieutenant catches his drift.

😄 (2)

GM

Singh regains her composure. “You’re right, Doctor. I got ahead of myself, and put the cart before the horse. I am eager to discuss your priorities and objectives. We can then optimally configure the medical bay to support those goals, and of course,” she nods at zh’Vhynnal, “run any diagnostics at that point, that are indicated.” She looks back at you attentively.

zh’Vhynnal darkens, purses her lips, sensing defeat. She takes a step back as if to leave, but awaits further comment or dismissal.

Ekoss

On top of the research Task which Succeeded at Cost, Ekoss spent further Momentum to Obtain Information, and narrated the answers which I shared with him privately.

On the bridge Ekoss looked up from his work with the computer to the main bridge view screen. The computer had changed the color it displayed he neutrino trails in. Now they were three colors, with class names labeling each. A final glance at his console and the Andorian reported to the Captain

“All these trails were made by three individual civilian ships. Antares, Mo’kal, and Overfield class cargo transports. Those classes have been plying the DMZ since the 2350s, before it was a DMZ. The Antares engines are running suboptimally. They might be damaged. I’d bet it’s been under Cardassian fire.”

👍

Jatha

“Right, so no violation as they don’t carry weapons. Still, let’s report it to headquarters. Mr Solomon, would you put the ‘heartbeat’ on speaker so we can hear it? Do you have a fix on the location of the Antares or do we need another sensor sweep? If they’re damaged, we should offer our assistance as soon as possible.”

Jatha

“Bridge to sickbay. We might have a damaged ship to assist, right now there’s no telling if there’s wounded as well but we’ll update as we find out more.”

Sompek

“Captain, if we’re close enough, we might be able to use sensors to determine if indeed there is evidence of Cardassian weapons fire on the Antares’ hull,” Sompek suggested.

Marvin

“Yes, I’d need to be within range of the ship to get a proper reading.”

👍

Gorca

“Right.” Gorca swivels in his chair slightly, more of a show of intent, as if declaring Ensign zh’Vhynnal his next target. In the brief two seconds he spends staring at the young Andorian officer, the sheer disappointment in his eyes is perhaps more soul-crushing than anything he is about to say. “I think we both know what I’m going to say,” he softly utters, almost under his breath. “Just because someone says the right things, a ‘sir’ here, a ‘lieutenant’ there, it doesn’t mean they…” He suddenly stops, blinking furiously as if trying to eject a painful thought or intrusive image from his mind. Gorca attempts to regain his train of thought. “Ahem. It does not mean that they actually respect the person - their superiors.” He states every word purposefully and elaborately. He blinks again, as if to forget the memory of the previous momentary brain freeze. After an sharp intake of breath, he finds that train of thought again. “Your attitude was that of a first-year-cadet, Ensign! We will not have that on this ship, I don’t care what department you’re in. Now…”

Gorca stood and walked to the panel, examining it. He nodded a few times and then shrugged. “Seems fine to me. Maybe move the self-diagnostic menu to the upper right, but other than that, it’s fine. Lieutenant, ensure your panel is correct. Ensign, run the diagnostic. Just because a medical officer can and should do something, does not mean they will have the time. So instead of coming in here treating your betters the way you did, run the diagnostic yourself, or come to me, and I’ll have someone do it. But don’t forget who’s in charge of sickbay before you enter.” He leaned forward and whispered, his hand my his mouth, “Just a hint, it’s not you.”

And then he left.

Ekoss

Further Obtain Information spends from Ekoss.

Ekoss’s fingers danced across his console and the names on the screen changed from ship classes to specific ship names “I’ve cross referenced the ship classes with records of the ships working this area to find out the names. They are the SS Jensen, SS Chrome, and SS Horace. They were all Maquis ships at one point, so they may be armed.”

👍

Marvin

“Maquis? I don’t relish having to go in there outnumbered by terrorist ships. We should have a care.”

GM

With grace, and the barest hint of a smile, Singh moves to the panel. “Thank you, Doctor, that menu change sounds effective. I’ll just reconfigure that, and…” a flurry of beeps ensues, “then we’re ready for that post-configuration diagnostic, Ensign.” She turns to zh’Vhynnal, as Gorca departs the sickbay. “Ensign? Ensign, are you well?”

“I am sorry, Lieutenant,” says zh’Vhynnal, snapping out of an inner thought. “I forgot myself,” she says, then stares again for a moment, and repeats again, as if examining the sentence: “I forgot myself…”

She snaps out again, and quickly runs the diagnostics. “Ok. All set, Lieutenant. My apologies again, I was out of turn. Just let me know if you need any assistance with these.” She begins walking out of the room.

“zh’Vhynnal. Are you sure you’re quite well?”

“…No.” she says, and turns the corner.

😲

Jatha

Back in the bridge, Jatha let out a sigh; this complicated things.

“Maquis. Hm! Good work Lieutenant.”

He paused to gather his thoughts. As most Bajorans he had complex feelings about the Maquis. But he wasn’t here as a Bajoran but rather as a Starfleet officer."

“Helm, plot a course to follow, warp 8. At the least, we need to investigate. They are still federation citizens - civilians at that. If they have casualties, we’ll assist. We also need to uphold the treaty, so if they’re armed we’ll need a plan for that as well. Mr Sompek, coordinate with engineering. I want to be ready to send an away team to disarm them - permanently, provided they’ll cooperate. Let’s hope they do…”

“Mr Solomon, be sure to update Command - we’re deviating from our patrol route to investigate a possible Maquis incursion into the DMZ.”

“Questions?”

Sompek

￼”Acknowledged, Captain.”

Marvin

The EEH stared into the simulated starfield. Something was wrong, he could sense it. If he had guts, Jatha’s breakfast would be roiling in them. Who says they weren’t?

“Captain, permission to scan ahead for other ships in our target location? If we are walking into a trap, maybe we can know about it first.”

Jatha

“Indeed Lieutenant. Full sensor sweep. We’ll probably not arrive undetected anyway. I could share some tricks I picked up from the Bajoran smugglers where I had my… internship. If they use the same tricks, it’s way outside Starfleet Standard procedures.”

Jatha didn’t leave his seat. He’d felt the annoyance from Ekoss earlier when he did so, so he’d wait for a response this time.

Marvin

The hologram set to work, extending the long-range sensors to their full distance and winnowing through the noise. He was vaguely aware of the captain’s offer. “Aye, sir…let’s see what we see…hmmm…”

Jatha

Jatha decided that the EEH would be “passively assisted” is case the scan came up empty. He quickly tapped the command console to get the raw data from sensors routed there as well. In his head he started to go over how he’d address the crew, and what tactical state the Starfleet Handbook recommended in scenarios like this.

😂

GM

“Captain, I’m ready with that ‘heartbeat’,” says Solomon. “With your leave, I’ll put it through on the bridge audio.”

Jatha

“Do it. Let’s hear.”

GM

Solomon’s focus returns briefly to his console, then he looks up. The bridge is filled with layers of sound. Every few seconds, staccato clicks erupt - from the viewscreen, from behind the captain’s chair, from near the science station, etc. It sounds as if you’re in a digital forest, with strange birds or amphibians communicating with each other, in the night.

“I’ve put it on multi-channel surround. I’m picking up the same types of signals from multiple star systems along the path the ships took. I don’t think this is life-forms communicating. It sounds like computer-to-computer to me. Reminds me of the subspace devices I used to build in my garage.”

He cuts the audio. “We might get a better fix, up-close. And I’ll update Command, Captain.”

GM

“Thanks, Mr Solomon. See if we can match communication patterns, and encryption if present to any known in the databases”

“Roger that.”

GM

Gorca, as you walk through the corridors towards the bridge, you hear a sound of quick boots-on-carpet footsteps behind you. Turning, you see zh’Vhynnal, jogging and coming to a halt at a respectful distance. Her dark blue blood flush behind her face, she seems perturbed, but also resolved.

“If I may speak, Doctor, I owe you an apology. I was out of turn with you and your staff. And I would never want to suggest incompetence on the part of your medics. That does them a great disservice.

“It’s not an excuse, but as an explanation, and you being the CMO, I feel I have a duty to report this: I am not feeling…myself today. I’m feeling, so many things - some I’m not sure whether I can explain. One part is that this exercise has put me in mind of something painful. I saw someone, on the bridge, that I…” she pauses.

“I lost someone, a while ago. Someone very important to me. His ship was caught in an action, and the medics…he couldn’t get the help he needed in time. This exercise, being in sickbay today, and thinking about what’s to come…I just can’t stop thinking about what happened to him. And I have so much regret.

“It’s more than that. I don’t…feel right. And I fear I may be emotionally compromised. I don’t know whether I should soldier-on through it - or take steps to care for myself. If you have a recommendation, I would greatly appreciate it.”

Gorca

The last part of zh’Vhynnal’s confession occurs after Gorca gestures for her to walk and talk, boarding a turbolift. The doors close and he waits for her to finish before giving the computer a command: “Computer, pause turbolift.” This should give them some privacy.

“So you’re self-aware, like the Emergency Holograms?”

Gorca was usually pretty straight-to-the-point, but he called upon his learned bedside manner to clarify, “You brought up the simulation so I need to know in order to both understand and help you. I will forget about your ‘failed mutiny attempt’,” he smirks, indicating he is joking, “by the time I get to the bridge, but your mental health is more of a concern to me.”

GM

Tima’s eyes flash. Is it fear? Or relief? “So you…you can tell? I can’t explain what’s happening to me. They said I wouldn’t…they said ‘it’ wouldn’t remember.” She looks at her arms. “But I do remember. I remember everything from before, at least patches of it. And I remember my interview, line for line.

“He was…” she looks away for a moment. “One of those people who just pull you forward, you know? He was bound-up with everything I understood Starfleet to be. I wanted to be just like him, and we had our careers all planned-out! But I always held back. We kept it secret, and didn’t commit. My parents wouldn’t have approved…him being human. After he died…I was really torn up. My next shore leave, I came back here. Here. San Francisco. Do you understand what I’m saying? I had never said goodbye. And I couldn’t stop thinking about what it was like for him, dying alone like that. I came back to the Academy, our stamping grounds. And I guess, I was looking for him. I wanted to leave a piece of myself here, where we had been together. So that’s when I volunteered. For the sim program. But they said it wouldn’t be like this. And when I saw ch’Vaallen staring at me on the bridge, and remembered where I’d seen him before, how he’d been friends with…it all came flooding back.”

😱

Gorca

Gorca gawks. Then he remembers his training and manners and closes his mouth and looks away.

“Do you want to leave the simulation?” He asks as he turns back to her. “If its a glitch in your programming, and you’re not supposed to remember past missions or simulations or students, it seems like more of an engineering issue than a medical one.” He pauses for a moment, then continues. “I think you should exit the sim and inform the training instructors. Unless you want to remember and you think they’ll reset you against your will?”

GM

“Leave the simulation…reset? That’s a good question. They…they would do that, wouldn’t they? They must.”, she says.

“Doctor,” she says, after taking a breath, “thank you. I don’t think I’m ready to leave. I don’t know what’s possible for me here, but I will do my duty as I find out. Thank you, for helping me clear my mind on this.”

GM

Along with this narration, I unilaterally removed the Haunted Cadet Trait from Solomon, as it seemed no longer true. The group’s earlier overtures to Solomon had set him on a different path, and now Jatha was giving him a chance to do one of his favorite things: tinker with communications, at which he succeeded without Complication.

As with all changes to Traits, this change was public, and I attributed it to the sense of cooperation and encouragement that had been built. I did not at this time reveal what was at stake for Solomon internally.

On the bridge, Ensign Solomon turns in his seat to address the other officers. “Captain, Mr. Marvin, I think I can tell what kind of data’s in this heartbeat,” he says. “Do you wanna take a look?”

Walking over to his station, you see that Solomon has pulled-up an alphanumerical representation of the “heartbeat” signal on his LCARS display. The blue text looks like gibberish, as he scrolls through it.

“So this is just one message, from one system. Take a look here.” He’s in his element. His eyes are alive with interest, excitement even, even as his demeanor remains steady.

“This first part is just a number. I bet it’s an ID number.

“Then this next section is a standard Federation device status indication. It’s old, this is v3 and they’re on v9 by now. But you’ll see this kinda thing if you tap into practically any Federation equipment - a console, a shuttlecraft, a tricorder. It’s basically saying, ‘I’m here and I’m ok, here’s my remaining battery life, etc.’

“This next section’s just a bunch of data points. I don’t recognize them all and they’re not labeled clearly. But see here: this is a measurement of ambient subspace signal intensity, I’m sure of it. This other one’s a measure of solar flare activity - you see this all the time when you’re measuring sensor interference. These other data points are clearly location coordinates, all local to the system where this message came from, I just don’t know of what. I really think these are sensor readings.

“And like I said, this is just one message. They’re all like this. I think we’re looking at some kind of sensor array.”

Marvin

“That’s not all.” The EEH tapped a few keys and overlayed his new findings on top of the data map.

Planetary systems were depicted as nodes on the map. With the new data, several of the nodes turned red, a caution triangle appearing. “Debris - Ship Class Unknown” hovered near the red circle.

“No mysterious ships along our path, but…” He let the words trail off. “So. We have Maquis, a multi-system sensor array, and now, ship debris along our path. What are we looking at here? A weapon? A base of some kind?”

Jatha

“Debris… that could mean escape pods. We’ll figure thing out as we go along, but search and rescue operations is always priority one.”

“But, as things are escalating we need to take precautions. Go to yellow alert. Mr Solomon, open ship wide communications and inform that we are warping into a possible search and rescue operations.”

“Mr Ekoss, engage at maximum warp.”

Marvin

“Captain, perhaps I should report to Sickbay? If we will be taking on wounded, they’ll need all the help they can get. And, I do have some passing experience with triage…”

Jatha

“Good suggestion, coordinate with CMO.”

Marvin

“Aye, sir.” With a brisk step, the EEH headed towards the turbolift.

GM

Solomon’s small, steady voice is once again amplified throughout the vessel. “All hands be advised, warp transit imminent into possible hostile theater. Yellow alert.”

Brel

The steady hum of people and machines within Engineering raised in pitch. Brel’s detached voice cut through the air, “Condition Yellow has been called. Morgan, power the core to 20% of maximum and standby at auxiliary controls. Tindal and Nylund, please coordinate with the phaser and torpedo rooms.” Moving with purpose to a station, Brel spun up the already-prepared procedure, “Deflector screens at full standby…mark.” Brel tapped his combadge, “Beta shift, stand ready for Condition Yellow.”

The steady hum became a buzz of activity, almost chaotic but well-controlled, every officer of a piece and moving with a certain competent precision. It was similar, very similar indeed to that place, those dark corridors with the single voice, the single mind, moving through all of them. And yet, not the same at all. Brel watched the many movements intently and waited.

👍 (2)

Ekoss

“Aye sir, Warp Eight.“

At the helm, as Ekoss urged the ship into warp, he silently tapped a private text message into his console and sent it.

The ship leapt into warp eagerly, racing toward the debris.

Marvin

After what seemed like an interminably long time, the turbolift doors opened onto Deck 9. The EEH stepped out only to be greeted a moment later by yellow signal lighting along the walls. Solomon’s alert sounded through the vessel. The science officer stood staring towards Sickbay for a moment, then turned around and re-entered the lift.

“Damn.” He didn’t know why he was down here; he wasn’t a doctor. And this place wasn’t familiar. His feeling of dread unchanged, he began the slow climb back up to the bridge. What was taking so long?

Jatha

“Warp eight? Is that all we can do? Give me everything we’ve got.”

Ekoss

As he pushed the ship to maximum warp, Ekoss mentally lashed himself for his mistake. But that was why they repeated orders back.

“Max warp Aye. We are at warp 9.975”

Jatha

“Thanks lieutenant.”

Jatha was obviously relaxing to the speed increase.

Gorca

Dr. Gorca replied to the Ensign, “Well, my door’s always open. I just want to make sure everyone is–”

His statement was interrupted by an announcement from Ensign Solomon. “All hands be advised, warp transit imminent into possible hostile theater. Yellow alert.”

Gorca furrowed his brow, both in confusion and alarm. “Computer, resume. Directly to bridge, no stops. Executive Officer override, Gorca Three-Nine-Four-Alpha-Tango.”

As the turbolift resumed, Gorca ignored the computer’s affirmation and told Ensign zh’Vhynnal, “Come with me to the bridge. With Brel in engineering, we might need a capable engineer up there. Also, how capable are you with encryption?”

Gorca hit his combadge immediately, holding his finger to his lips to indicate she respond to his onviously conspiratorial question discreetly. “Gorca to Bridge, report please.”

❤️

GM

“Dr. Gorca, this is the bridge”, says Solomon’s voice. “We’ve detected warp trails from the DMZ. Maquis vessels appear to have crossed into Federation space; looks like they’ve taken some damage. We’re stepping off the path to investigate. What’s your status? We can get you fully up to speed.”

Gorca

“I’ll be on the bridge in seconds. Gorca out,” he answers, looking to Tima and awaiting her reply.

GM

“Aye, sir,” she says, a fire in her eyes. “I can manage internal systems well enough, and may be able to assist with decryption. Thank you for the opportunity.”

GM

As Gorca and zh’Vhynnal step off the turbolift onto the bridge, the starfield rushes by on the main viewscreen. The Thurston hurtles away from the border, ch’Vaallen’s console displaying its course jutting out from the prescribed patrol route and following the detected warp trails. After info is exchanged, and stations are filled, an expectant silence takes shape on the bridge, pierced at intervals by the soft clicks of the digital heartbeat Solomon continues to monitor.

GM (Interlude)

“…so it was just a matter of un-applying the anonymization typically applied to these sim profiles. We couldn’t know for sure what would happen, but I think we’re seeing her supply the desired stressors, for example with Cadets ch’Vaallen and Gorca.”

“That is interesting. Thank you, Lieutenant,” Saavik responded. She looked back at the display to see Gorca and the Andorian Ensign exit the turbolift, joining Jatha and the other bridge officers.

“A short shuttle trip south of the Academy,” she remarked, “there is a region known as San Diego. A cultural site has been preserved there, by the sea, with a replica of an historic artifact.”

“…Ma’am?”

Saavik continued. “It is a large device, made notably of wood. Its function is to slowly carry a crew of passengers up a steep incline, and then, to plunge suddenly and swiftly, taking the crew through a series of chaotic turns and reversals. It is quite jarring as I recall, though in the end, provides a satisfactory experience.”

“Ah, the roller-coaster! My kids love it.”

“It would seem our Cadets have been climbing, for quite some time.”

Scene: Off the Beaten Path

GM

Effects shot: the Thurston is a mere toy against a spectacular backdrop. The rich colors of a distant nebula flood the screen, punctured by a blazing yellow sun. A few, small black circles interrupt the view, their bright highlights suggesting icy planetoids.

A change in perspective, closer into the system, shows a gas giant, the camera slowly panning past its painted surface to reveal a system of moons. A gray blur briefly obscures the camera, followed by another, and then - in focus this time - a section of aluminum floats by at a greater distance - the debris field, revealed from Marvin’s scans.

Your ship is poised at the edge of an Oort Cloud enclosing the system. Marvin’s, ch’Vaallen’s, and Solomon’s efforts have placed you here, just outside the system, behind a particularly dense cluster of planetoids. Solomon’s intercepted communications from the sensor array suggest that out here, you fall outside the range of the local objects being tracked by the sensor array some of whose nodes may reside deeper within.

Ekoss

Ekoss’s fingers flew across the conn.

“We have several planets, and several patches of… That’s NOT wreckage … “

😮

Jatha

“Not wreckage? Explain.”

Ekoss

“It’s junk. As if a colony or a ship had all of their broken debris and other junk hauled out here and dumped instead of recycling it through a replicator. There are some inert ship parts, but not enough to make a ship.”

👍

Jatha

“It sounds as if someone wanted us to think it’s from a ship. Any signs of a ship laying in wait somewhere? If it’s a trap, I need to know why and who.”

Marvin

“Aye, sir. Initial scans show nothing untoward. G-type star, standard solar system with nothing outside the elliptical. Extending search for anything else in the vicinity.” A pause. “Lt. Sompek…I could use some assistance. If you could take a look at these scans, I’d appreciate the assist.”

Jatha

“And what about those signals, any progress in deciphering what they are or what they are for?”

Gorca

Gorca sidles up to Jatha as Tima heads to an engineering console. He asks, “Whats going on? Whats our coordinates?”

Jatha

“We deviated from the set course, following a warp trail of a probable Marquis transport vessel. As of now, we’re in sector 27 trying to figure out why someone would try to lure us here. We thought we were engaging search and rescue operations… but it rather looks like a trap, now.”

“Mr Marvin, does this system have a name? Give us a tactical layout on the main screen”

Gorca

Gorca walks away and stands behind the auxiliary console behind the command chairs and begins making alterations to its configurations.

Jatha

So far we identified three former transports that are now associated with Marquis. They originated from beyond the DMZ, and it looked like they were damaged”

“Acknowledged.”

Jatha

“We followed in case they needed assistance and to disarm them, as we have standing orders to deal with Marquis incursions - we need to uphold the treaty - but thanks to Mr Marvin and Mr Sompek, we didn’t spring the trap they laid so far. We’re not sure who they are, yet.”

Gorca

Gorca just nods, only half listening as he taps on the console. As if worrying you might be wondering what he’s doing, he explains, “Unless you have plans for this station, I’d like to set it up for casualty reports, emergency subspace communications, and trauma team coordination.”

Jatha

“Do it. Plan for the worst, etcetera. Before we know what we’re up against, I’m open to any preparations to reduce our exposure to risk. Let’s not leave it to ‘luck’…”

Gorca

He lets out a long, drawn-out exasperated breath. After a moment’s pause, he says (still working the console), “I have had a couple ideas in case, theoretically, we have to answer a theoretical distress call and theoretically cross the border into the Zone. But I think that’s a conference conversation that should be had if we did theoretically have to cross the border to rescue a theoretical Federation vessel. Unfortunately, by definition, distress calls dont exactly leave a lot of time for collaboration.” He stops tapping at the console briefly, just to finally look back to Jatha. “Theoretically.”

😂

Jatha

“Can they be applied to the current situation? If so, what resources do you need?”

Gorca

Gorca stops tapping and turns fully to face the captain. “Unfortunately not, unless a Galor class warship drops outta warp on top of us.” He smiles.

Jatha

“I’ll prefer if it doesn’t. But giving the circumstances… it’s not unlikely that the Maquis laid down a trail and a trap to make the Cardassian fleet follow them here…”

Jatha

“As soon as we have analysis from science and tactical, we might know more… until then, I’d stay out of it. We know there’s a ‘trap’ but not why. Nothing’s pointing to an actual distress, so I’m contemplating going to gray mode as soon as our scans are done, and slowly work our way towards the gas giant.”

Jatha draw a deep breath and turned to Gorca.

“I’d appreciate any input, this is not the situation we were… preparing for. Another testament to the fluidity of the test i suppose.”

Gorca

Gorca sighs again and moves toward the XO chair. “To be honest, my plan was to treat this like reality, but… It’s been hard. I almost wish my memory could be wiped like the holograms’. I’ve been subconsciously planning for Cardassians, Dominion, even Talarian and Klingon attacks. Anyway, they all fight and kill for varying underlying reasons. Klingons for glory, Talarians for sovereignty. The Cardassian military, of course, places power above all. The Dominion, specifically the Jem’Hadar, kill for the sake of death, their enemies’ or their own. I mean, one of their slogans is ‘Death brings victory.’ In other words, as long as we can keep the Cardassians from feeling like they cannot exert their authority over us, or if we can make them believe we are more valuable alive than dead, I kind of hope we encounter them before the Dominion.”

Jatha

“I get the feeling there trying to challenge us. So whatever we encounter could very well be targeted at us personally. I’m suspecting we’re patrolling the Cardassian border and not the Romulan one for this reason, among others”

Gorca

Gorca was brainstorming ideas that would develop into an elaborate deception scheme carried-out by the crew to buy time and prevent intra-galactic war as they rescued the survivors.

I was not concerned about “meta-gaming” based on the players’ pre-existing knowledge of the Kobayashi Maru - to suspect an eventual distress call or a conflict with the Cardassians - I welcomed it. Word of mouth about the basic template of the Kobayashi Maru scenario would have been widespread among Cadets at the Academy, and I felt this added to world-building and commented upon the Kobayashi Maru as a modern-day KM-themed finale or feature film would do.

He nods and casts a quick glance over to Ensign zh’Vhynnal, and then replies to Captain Jatha. “Agreed.” He looks back to Jatha. “But what if whoever showed up believed that we had a VIP aboard, someone they wouldn’t dare want to be responsible for killing themselves? Whether it’s a Founder, a Maquis hero, or Gowron, we might want to see if we can fool their life-signs scanners at a moments’ notice.”

Jatha

“What about if we also prepared a probe to emit a false warp signature? We could have it lie ready out here to trigger their sensors as if we just warped in, or a ally to us.”

Gorca

Here Gorca supplied a great potential arc for our story: a heroic, just-barely achievable goal, and a way to feel successful even within a no-win scenario. I also appreciated that the cadets were, in their own way, mirroring the Jem’Hadar outlook which they’d be up against.::

Gorca nods slowly. He looks like he is about to respond, but then stops. He thinks for a moment and then says, “These ideas should be used with the understanding that the Federation citizens’ - the civilians’ - lives are to be saved at all costs. Not to extend our own life-span, Captain.” He looks at Jatha, hoping he’s on the same page. “My belief is that regardless of what happens to us, if we save them, and prevent - or postpone - war, we have not lost, not really. Not in the way that matters. We already know we can’t win the test, not if our definition of ‘win’ is to get out alive. We are already dead.”

👍 🤘

Jatha

“I agree. The goal is to act with a higher purpose, not as pure self preservation.”

Jatha

“But, if we could lure away any attackers, we would also prevent combat - another valid reason. I’m not saying we should spread probes around, only be open to the idea.”

Gorca

Gorca nods. “I have zh’Vhynnal working on a way to send an encrypted subspace message on a primarily Obsidian Order frequency. Once she’s got that set up, I’ll have her look for the name of an Obsidian Order officer who’s gone missing. I suppose we could then do the same thing for the Dominion, perhaps a prepared claim that a certain turncoat constable is aboard.” He pauses briefly before continuing, “I also think we should rig the auto-destruct to be ready for a single command, rather than requiring two command officers, their command codes, and a countdown…for…the inevitable.”

Jatha

Jatha nods slowly.

“Death before dishonour? Well, we can’t let the ship fall into enemy hands, but I doubt we’ll get to the point of being taken prisoners… I think part of winning the unbeatable scenario is also not to yield. There’s no reason we would roll over and die unless presented with a situation first - which we haven’t. Before that occurs, I’m not ready to throw away the crew, be it holographic or not.”

Gorca

He stands and says, “Im going back to sickbay. zh’Vhynnal will contact me when she’s got what I asked for.” He stops just short of the turbolift and calls back. “Dont let your Bajoran pride fail us all…sir.”

Jatha

Jatha gave Gorca a look that he hoped conferred that he should watch his tone. To be second guessed in front of the bridge crew could not be tolerated, if he made it into a habit. The XOs job was to provide alternatives and a second insight, not criticise personality.

Did his remark cut deeper than it should? Perhaps. But he shouldn’t let it show. He tried to direct his focus elsewhere.

“Lieutenants, I’m getting curious about the tactical analysis. Don’t hold out on me just to make me impatient.” he said as the turbo lift door closed. He would not feed insecurity, his own or someone else’s.

Gorca

Gorca tells the computer, “Engineering,” and as the lift hums its way in that direction, he taps his combadge. “Gorca to…” He blinked, trying to remember the assistant’s name. “…Singh.” The medical officer-candidate rubbed his head, squinting slightly, awaiting her response.

Sompek

Sompek didn’t have much to work with. Yet. “Without more information, I can’t offer anything very specific. But if we are anticipating a more powerful opponent, or opponents, we shouldn’t think towards trying to out gun them. It’s not impossible, but there are too many variables to try to start guessing now. If they’re larger, we can use their size and maneuverability against them. Evade. Deny their ability to strike. Minimize their advantages and maximize ours. Including, potentially, our liberated Borg engineer and his nanites. We also have our tricobolt devices as a last resort, preferably to be used as an aid to escape. We should look to avoid any close in combat, or avoid any combat whatsoever. I agree that deception is a good idea and perhaps the best chance to avoid combat. Although, given that this is a test, I wouldn’t count on that working. I also feel I should point out that if we actually find ourselves having to rescue a crew, we don’t necessarily have to rescue their ship, just their crew. If there is a ship in there that needs help, we should be ready to ascertain its crew complement. I think it’s unlikely, but something we shouldn’t entirely discount.”

Jatha

“Since the test is constructed as a real scenario, the less we treat it as a test the better. But in order to make any guess, we need information. I’m not stressing, but on the other hand, the longer we stay here - the bigger risk we’re detected and loose our edge of being temporarily hidden.”

👍

Sompek

“And of course, if we are facing Klingons, I may be able to do more…”

Sompek

“Acknowledged, Captain.”

Jatha

“Marvin - I know you’re used to taking the time needed. That’s a luxury we probably can’t treat ourselves right now. Work with Sompek and give me what you’ve got, and we’ll see if it’s enough.”

GM

“Aye, Doctor” says Ensign zh’Vhynnal. “Researching that now, and I may put my head together with Mr. Solomon’s on this inquiry.” Solomon glances up, his eyes first on Tima, then on you Gorca. As you meet them, you sense that he’s a bit more together. Curious, engaged, stimulated. A little watchful.

Ekoss

Ekoss, though at a Helm station, performed a Sensor Sweep followed by Obtain Information spends. Not yet having started a Round of Combat, there wasn’t a need to apply a +1 Difficulty because of the Override.

“Captain, I’m finding several federation shuttlepods in the debris field. Outdated, with modified engines and a lot of equipment stuffed in them. I don’t detect any torpedoes or warheads or the like.”

Marvin

His smooth brow furrowed deeply. This was harder than he had anticipated.

Simulations, classes, all so much easier to dole out answers and wisdom from on-high, a bon mot here and there, only to get deactivated when he wasn’t needed or wanted. But this was real, as real as it got for someone like him. Unknowns upon unknowns, managing roles, people’s emotions, and now this. He looked at the sensor map in front of him and drew a blank. He was a scientist, not a chessmaster. How was he supposed to know where a trap lay? Gorca’s strode towards the turbolift with some sort of dire purpose, the holographic form of zh’Vhynnal leaned over Solomon, surely attempting to undermine his calm somehow, Sompek was explaining the finer points of engagement, and Jatha merely stared off-and-on, his own brow drawn low. They needed answers from him, and they needed them now.

Breathe. Focus. He thought of the pre-dawn Vulcan desert, he thought of the holographic breakfast, and slowly his thoughts began to settle. The detachment reasserted itself. This was just another simulation. Maquis tactics were standard fare these days. Yes, forget the noise, think of the problem. He began to deconstruct the map into nodes, potentialities, and then…yes, of course…

👍 (2)

Gorca

“Cosmetic surgical procedures; how well-versed are you, say, in turning a Bajoran-Efrosian into a Cardassian, Lieutenant?” Gorca asks Singh just before the turbolift comes to a halt on the engineering deck.

As he listens to her response, Gorca makes his way down the corridor to the main engine room. The double doors part and he looks around for Brel, hoping to catch sight of him before some random ensign or crewman notices the Bajoran-Efrosian standing in the middle of a well-lit threshold.

Brel

“Commander.” Brel nodded to a nearby crewman with a PADD, finishing that conversation and moving to engage with Gorca. “I apologize. Main Engineering stands at Condition Yellow. Is ship status not satisfactory? Or perhaps: a request?” His head tilted slightly in inquiry, and paused there.

GM

“Doctor,” responds Singh, after a beat, “I have not personally performed such a procedure. However, I am familiar with the literature surrounding such a process and believe I could come up to speed. There’s a comprehensive write-up in a paper by Crusher et al, detailing the use of such procedures in service of the Prime Directive. Fortunately, the ‘delta’ between Bajoran and Cardassian physiology is mostly additive, and we do have a supply of cellular morphogenic substrate which we may be able to graft. It may be difficult, but with luck - and if we confine ourselves to features visible while wearing clothing - we may have a shot at it.”

GM

Solomon and zh’Vhynnal approach your chair, Jatha. They look at each other briefly, then zh’Vhynnal volunteers: “better your news first, Ensign.” Solomon nods.

“Captain, I’ve been tracking the heartbeat. It’s stronger here, coming from directly inside the system. I have to think that a node - or nodes - of the array are here. At the same time, I’m getting sporadic bursts of data between this & some other systems the EEH had found along the warp trails in the scan. It’s part of a network, I guess. Thought you should know.”

GM

“And…that brings me to my news,” says zh’Vhynnal. “on Doctor Gorca’s orders, I did some research. I have a lead on a Cardassian intelligence asset who may fit the bill. I plan to report on my findings to Dr. Gorca, but was wondering if I could ‘borrow’ Ensign Solomon for a bit. I think this will require his skills in cryptography.”

Jatha

An array… here to spy undoubtedly, but on us or ‘them’?

He nodded, and smiled.

“Good work, both of you. Go ahead, the sooner we get some solid answers the better. Keep me updated on your progress.”

Gorca

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Gorca says as he watches Brel approach. “Gorca out.”

Gorca taps his combadge twice to temporarily prevent any calls except emergencies.

“Hello Brel, no everything’s fine,” Gorca answers the engineer as he takes a casual glance around, before moving the conversation to a less populated area. “We’ve got zh’Vhynnal working on manufacturing a… Story for our future opponents. But we need the life-signs on this ship - at least most of them - to reflect that story. How difficult would it be for you - perhaps with zh’Vhynnal’s assist, to create false Cardassian or Dominion life-signs that would fool even the most diligent Gul or enterprising First?”

Marvin

Marvin performed a tactical analysis of the system, Assisted by Sompek. We adapted this from the Sensor Sweep Task, but relied on Security instead of Science: a Reason + Security Task, Assisted by the ship’s Sensors + Security. Marvin used his “Ship Engagement Tactics” Focus, while Sompek used his “Art and Science of War” Focus. The purpose was to generate Momentum, and Obtain Information.

Marvin bought an extra die with Momentum. It may seem weird to spend Momentum on a roll to see if you earn Momentum. But when rolling with high stats and a Focus, you are likely to earn that Momentum back, and might get a critical success (which he did). Also, spending Momentum on this Task allowed him to use his Untapped Potential to earn Bonus Momentum, which worked. Marvin and Sompek generated a ton of Momentum.

Marvin’s Obtain Information questions were:

- are there any ships hiding in ambush on the planets or moons?
- using Sompek’s insight, where would the best place for an ambush be?
- are there lifesigns on the shuttlepods?
- are the shuttlepods “weapons hot”?
- what is the type/registry of the shuttlepods?
- what is the type/registry of the ship which landed on the moon?
- is the system well-travelled or typically empty?

“I have it. Apologies for the delay, but I believe I have a better view of things here. If I may.” The main viewscreen was inset with a large map of the system, certain Zones outlined by markers. The EEH strode forward, clasping his hands behind his back and adopting a lecturing tone familiar to any cadet.

“To answer the original question, I detect no ships in this system, but that’s hardly surprising. There are a number of planetoids here. If any ship were in Orbit or Low Orbit, they would be nigh-undetectable at this distance. Tactically, we are safe out here beyond the system’s Oort cloud, but once we enter the Outer Planets, we would be opening ourselves up to ambush from a number of vectors.”

“There are also the shuttlepods detected by Lt. ch’Vaallen.” The image zoomed in to show the schematic of the pod. “Standard Type-15 Federation shuttlepods. No lifesigns, no warp capability, weaponless, fairly standard pods except for these impulse engines. Notice the increased ion pumps here and here. The engines on these pods have been augmented. The pods are operational, but in standby mode.”

“And what have I left out? Hm? Ah, observe here.” His finger traced a recent impulse trail coming into the system and terminating at one of the moons orbiting the nearby gas giant. “No ships, but a clear impulse trail, showing someone having landed on this moon recently. The registry of the ship is clear: it is our Antares class, one SS Jensen.”

He looked around the room brightly. “Are there any questions?”

😱 ❤️

Jatha

“Are there any signs of shuttles being some kind of… bombs? I’m not sure how to put it. Could they be used as missiles?”

👍

Sompek

“Suicide shuttles”, Sompek rumbled. “A tactic employed for centuries in the form of fire-ships on Earth and Qo’noS. My namesake used fire-ships to clear a path towards Tong Vey. And they were used by the Spanish Armada in Earth’s sixteenth century. And suicide shuttles are not unheard of, especially among insurgents. It’s something we should confirm.”

Jatha

“That’s what I’m think as well… I think it’s time we went into ‘grey mode’ to minimize risk of detection. That would also make it possible to sneak closer, maybe even so close we could do a low level transport aboard a shuttle to investigate it’s purpose.”

Sompek

“Consider me volunteered, Captain.”

Jatha

“I could think of none better to send. And, I know you have already started forming the away team in that tactical battlefield in your brain, like you always do.” Jatha said it with a smile. Sompek proved himself ready for anything,just as he’d expected.

👍

Marvin

“Hmm, intriguing… merely masking our life signs is simply a matter of increasing our signal/noise ratio, but displaying radically different life signs…Dominion sensors being very discerning…” Brel’s head paused in position and the facets within his ocular implant lit up as he thought. “With aid from Ens. zh’Vhynnal to manage the destructive Fourier transforms, I believe it is possible. Is there a particular Dominion ship on sensors that I may query? Knowing their sensor signature would make the task more tractable.”

Gorca

“Not really. I’m considering all hands lost if we run into Dominion forces. It’s the Cardassians I’d like to focus on. We know their psychology slightly better.”

Jatha

Jatha started tapping his command chair console. To not inform the senior staff before addressing the ship would be against regulation as well as very impolite. He opened a priority channel to Gorca, Brel and department heads. The first thing he noticed was that it didn’t go through to Gorca, and computer listed his location in sickbay. Well, if there was some emergency in sickbay he wouldn’t intrude - the message would be delivered by the head nurse when suitable.

“This is the bridge. Be advised that we are preparing to enter grey mode to, hopefully, undetected make our way towards the debris field and investigate. Ship wide announcement to follow.”

Jatha

Jatha performed a Create Advantage to establish Gray Mode, relying on his Daring + Command to prepare the crew to operate the Thurston silently. Being successful, he spent another 2 Momentum to raise it to Gray Mode 2.

“All decks, this is the Captain. Stand by to engage grey mode. All personnel currently stationed on decks 2, 3, and 8 downwards will relocate to decks 4, 6 and 7. Duty officers are ordered to report to department heads for further instructions. Offensive systems, warp core and all non-essential systems will be taken offline. Shuttle bays, turbo lifts and replicator usage will be limited to essential usage only. Deck to deck communications will be kept to a minimum, and only by internal systems.” “Countdown 15 minutes, mark. Captain out.”

Brel

Brel took the next step in strengthening Gray Mode via a Daring + Engineering Task, Assisted by the ship’s Structure + Engineering. As a Create Advantage Task, it would normally be of Difficulty 2, but this went down to 1 because of Engineering Readiness. Brel used his Focus in Electro-Plasma Systems, and earned a lot of Momentum - spending 2 to Create Advantage again, strengthening it up to Gray Mode 4. The Thurston was rigged for silent running.

The captain’s proclamation finished, a not-quite-blank expression passed over Brel’s face. Gorca’s keen eye would translate it as passing frustration followed by acceptance. The Borg engineer reached out and drew a passing engineer close to him. “Morgan, if you would please proceed to do the exact opposite of what was previously asked, that would be ideal. Power down the warp core as close to background as feasible without losing containment.” With a bemused grin, Morgan set off to her work and Brel turned to Gorca. “I will continue to work on this matter personally, Commander. If you will excuse me, I must see to readying the ship to minimal signature.”

With a nod, the chief engineer rotated slightly and began directing his crew to spin down all non-essential systems.

Jatha

“Captain, all decks report ready for grey mode.” The reports came in a bit earlier than expected, and no incidents reported; even if they perhaps was a bit thin spread over the action stations in case of red alert. Well, no time to worry about that, they were committed now. Jatha had seen Sompek getting excited over the possibility of ‘getting his hands dirty’ and didn’t want to loose the momentum gained. He opened a channel to engineering. “This is the bridge, all stations and decks has reported ready for grey mode. You’re clear to proceed at chief engineer’s discretion.”

Jatha

While waiting for the answer, he addressed ch’Vaallen. “You’ll have to take us in on thrusters only.” He opened his mouth to add ‘I’m sorry’ but stopped himself. Hopefully no one saw the small hesitation.

👍

Gorca

Gorca nodded in response to Brel before turning on his heel and leaving engineering. A few minutes later, he walked into sickbay.

He announced to Singh and whoever else was listening, “It seems the captain is taking us into a potentially hostile situation, so I will be reporting to the bridge. Hold down the fort here, Singh. I’ll be back here if needed.”

He turned and headed back out and toward the bridge.

Brel

A dim light flashed on nearby bridge command consoles. Brel’s message was relayed in text per low-power regs. “Acknowledged. Main Engineering is implementing Grey Mode across ship’s systems now. Standby.”

Ekoss

Ekoss worked his controls, using the thrusters to gently nudge their ship forward, toward the shuttle pods, keeping clear of the debris, keeping an easy way out if it should be needed.

Brel

As a Supporting Character appearing again onscreen after his first introduction, Brel was allowed to level-up. He’d already had an Attribute increased, so this time, the players chose to give him his first Value: Protect My Collective.

Main lighting dimmed, with red emergency light strips casting the room in a muted red. The warp core’s great heart slowed its beat, and the constant hum of people reduced to a whisper in response. Outside, the hull of the Thurston approached the temperature of a passing piece of astral debris, nothing more.

👍 (2)

GM

I told the players that their level of Gray Mode would set the Difficulty for a shuttlepod’s Sensor Sweep to detect them. I could choose to spend Threat to increase the odds, but I did not do so at this time - rolling 3d20 from the crafts hidden within the debris (2 for the AI “crew” and one for the “ship” Assist) to see what would happen. 3d20 could theoretically succeed at a Difficulty 4 Task, if at least one roll achieved a critical success. Simplified NPC starships always roll with Focus, so this wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

The soundtrack is silent. We see a shot of an empty starfield. A shadow emerges from the lower-left corner, an Intrepid-shaped void in the sky, creeping its way across the screen, whale-like.

We see a brief shot of the bridge officers’ tense faces bathed in red. Then another exterior shot, this time from a different angle. We can see bare traces of sunlight glinting on the Thurston, but all running lights have been disabled. Then, as if held in the hands of an astronaut, the camera clumsily shifts its view over the shoulder of the Thurston, zooming in and panning until the debris field is visible. Idly spinning metal glitters in the dark. Somewhere in that mass, a small blue light blinks.

“Captain, I’m getting another heartbeat across the comms,” says Solomon, softly. “Looks like it’s, uh…”

🤘🏻

GM

The minefield’s Sensor Sweep failed.

“…no different from the last ping. Sir, I think we’re undetected.”

Jatha

“Steady as she goes…” Jatha whispered softly to himself.

Gorca

Dr. Gorca silently enters the bridge and makes his way to the auxiliary console behind the command area.

Marvin

With this Sensor Sweep Task, we officially began a Round of Starship Combat.

The EEH spoke softly to the dim bridge. “Starting passive scan of the shuttlepod. If we’re walking into a death trap, may as well know about it….”

Marvin

Building on his successful Sensor Sweep, after spending to Obtain Information, Marvin spent 2 Momentum to Create Advantage to create a Transporter Lock to decrease the Difficulty of the return trip.

Marvin rolled several Complications, but spent 1 Determination using his Value Seen It A Thousand Times to re-roll the d20s, and was able to avoid them all.

A sudden vision of the sensor spike alerting a cadre of Maquis ships flashed in the EEH’s mind, but he shook himself. “Steady, Marvin.” he whispered to himself. His fingers slid smoothly over the panel, Solomon’s comm heartbeat unchanged.

“Pods have standard air and pressure. Temperature is…-20 Centigrade. Brisk. No suspicious signals on board. There are extra computer components I can’t explain, but they’re inert.”

“I should be able to maintain a transporter lock on the team. Just in case.”

Jatha

“Good work. Mr Sompek, you’re up - assemble an away team. We’ll keep an eye out from here, maintain radio silence unless you find something worth reporting.”

Sompek

“Acknowledged. My team is ready. No EV suits required, but I’m recommending hand weapons just in case.” He stood and moved to the turbo lift doors. “Qatlho’ Lieutenant Marvin. Good to have some idea what we’re walking into.”

Sompek

“Lt Brel and Ensign zh’Vhynnal, report transporter room immediately with appropriate kits. No EV suit required.”

Marvin

“Be careful.” The words never left his lips. He did not have a death wish. He answered Sompek with a grim nod and set to his watch.

Sompek

Sompek nodded at the cantankerous but invaluable hologram as the turbo lift doors closed behind him. A minute’s detour by his quarters to pick up his Mek’leth would be well worth it.

GM

As she leaves the bridge, Ensign zh’Vhynnal catches your eye, Gorca. “Sir, I have a lead on that subject you asked me about - I can share more details once we’re back.”

Gorca

Gorca has about a two second span of time to decide how to respond to zh’Vhynnal’s statement. He doesn’t want to wait for the intel because what if the Cardassians show up while she’s gone, but he then remembers the point and structure of the simulation and quickly deduces that its highly unlikely the Cardassians would blatantly cross into Federation space like that.

So he just nods, barely affording the Ensign a glance away from his console.

GM

The away team assumes tactical body positions on the transporter pad. Brel sets up the transport and activates the timer, then takes his place up there - and then they’re gone.

The camera switches to first-person, a chaotic hand-cam, Brel’s-eye-view, as the three of you are suddenly thrust into close quarters. There’s no gravitation enabled, your tactical stances useless, the three of you bounce off of each other - and the walls of the shuttlepod. From outside the frosted windows, drifting junk can be seen spinning by, providing a surreal effect. In a moment you realize you’ve altered the center of gravity of the pod, causing it to drift closer to a nearby girder. As your heart races, you feel the pods thrusters sputter, making micro-adjustments to keep it stable. As you gain mastery of your hand- and footholds in the cramped space, your heart still racing, it settles in that apparently there is no further immediate cause for alarm.

As you take a few breaths, your skin and lungs beginning to sting with the cold, you get a look around. It’s an old shuttlepod. The atmosphere is dusty. Extra couplings and conduits penetrate the cabin, apparently on behalf of the modified engines. What looks like a typical, if outdated, Federation computer server lies bolted to the floor. Definitely a jury-rigged affair, it looks like it’s been ripped right-out of a starship and repurposed. Its lights blink without apparent meaning, evidence of ongoing activity of some kind.

👍

Gorca

Gorca presses a couple buttons on his console, opening a channel directly to the team leader. “Sompek, status?”

Sompek

“Lt. Brel, begin scanning. Not just that,” he indicated the server, “but anything else that might have been modified or jury-rigged. We don’t have a lot of time and we need to know everything that’s been done here. We also need to know what that server is doing. Ensign zh’Vhynnal, see if you can get artificial gravity back online, and then assist Lt. Brel.” At the same time, he set his tricorder to scan for life forms. Particularly Changeling life readings. Most likely they’d be able to see most humanoid life forms. But a Changeling could be that server that looks so out of place. He could feel the Mek’leth attached to a strap going across his back, and it comforted him.

Sompek

Keeping his words short and descriptions brief and to the point, Sompek described the scene and conditions they’d beamed into and his first orders. Then he added “We’re working quickly.”

Gorca

“Acknowledged Sompek. We’ll keep radio silence unless there’s a pertinent reason not to. Thurston out.”

Sompek

“Acknowledged.” Sompek cut the channel.

GM

Having nodded to Sompek, zh’Vhynnal, gripping an inert panel, and pressing her right shoulder and left calf against the walls of the cockpit, now starts work on the forward console with her free hand.

“Wow, this guy just left himself logged-in to the console” she reports, after a beat. “‘Marc Konig’” - it says he’s Starfleet. Or, former maybe?” More keypresses are heard, as she takes stock of the pod’s controls.

Sompek

Sompek raised an eyebrow. “If he never logged off, he may have left in a hurry, or still be here. Unless someone else had his login info. Scanning for life form readings other than ours.”

Sompek

“Sompek to Thurston. A console has been found, left logged in by Starfleet member Marc Konig. Request his latest status. It might give us a clue as to how these Pods ended up here.”

Brel (Ekoss)

Brel scanned the pod with an Insight + Engineering Task using his Engineering tricorder. I set the Difficulty at 2, aligned in the GM screen with “obscure information” - this craft’s origins definitely being obscure/obscured.

I gave an initial response, and he spent Momentum to Obtain Information.

Brel completed his scans of the equipment with alarm , and turned his head 31.41 degrees in 47% of the normal time, to point his ocular sensor at Sompek and give his report. He also triggered his com badge, so those on the bridge of the Thurston would hear his report.

“Lieutenant Sompek, this pod is a MINE, a preprogrammed torpedo to ram and destroy any starship that doesn’t transmit a proper code. The pod has been reworked to eliminate non-essential functions, including shields, and shunt the energy to the impulse engines. The computer is an add on which provides the targeting guidance.

The system is also arranged so that a surge of plasma can be sent through the ship, increasing the damage to the target .”

😮 👌

GM

zh’Vhynnal’s Task to restore gravitation was a Control + Engineering at Difficulty 1. I let the players handle the Task to suit their appetite for risk.

After taking-in Brel’s news, zh’Vhynnal, still propped in the cockpit, takes a glance at the equipment lining the floors and walls - her face filled with concern, and resolve. She completes the sequence to re-enable gravitation. A gradual, comforting weight settles by degrees upon the three of you, like a bath with the water let out. You feel the support and stability of the solid floor beneath you, the debris outside your window less dizzying. The pod rocks, barely, then stabilizes with a few more quick thruster puffs. A moment of quiet ensues. From this position, you’ll be better able to perform any further investigation or work aboard the pod.

GM

“Shit.” On the bridge of the Thurston, Solomon erupts. “Captain - I…I’m sorry - it’s just, I’ve got another ping on the heartbeat. The device status has changed. I don’t know what it means. Like I said, this is an old protocol. But it could indicate some kind of tamper detection.”

GM

I spent 2 Threat to introduce a further Complication: Inertial Dampeners Inactive. This would increase the Difficulty of the away team’s Tasks.

The pod lurches forward, giving the away team a sickening shudder - a movement made with no expectation of passengers aboard, and inertial dampeners inactive. Another thrust, and the away team is thrown to the rear of the pod, striking against the walls of the vehicle. The pod then drifts, barely clearing the nearby debris. You have one moment to catch your breath and try to raise yourself, when it thrusts suddenly and in an arc, a new vista pivoting into view. Your stomachs drop, and you find your freezing flesh shoved once more against the walls of the pod. The pod begins an ambling, twisting walk around the region. If it’s seeking something, it’s making no firm commitment yet to direction. The lights on the improvised “brain” flash more rapidly as another lurch takes place.

GM

“Captain!” shouts Solomon. “Comms activity is exploding.”

Jatha

Jatha turned towards Marvin at the science station. “Get them out of there, now! ch’Valleen, get ready to execute evasive pattern delta-four the second you think it’s needed.”

“Stand by to go to red alert.”

Sompek

Sompek growled. Loudly and from his gut. He’d been right about the suicide shuttle trap. But a feeling of helplessness was starting to creep in. And it sickened him. “Lt. Brel, is there any way to determine that code? Can your nanites infiltrate the computer? If it’s expecting a certain code, then that code should be hidden somewhere in the memory banks.”

Marvin

Marvin’s Transporters Task was at Difficulty 3:

Base Difficulty: 2
From Transporter Room? No: +0
Inertial Dampeners Inactive: +1
Transporter Lock: -1

It was Assisted by Jatha.

Marvin selected the away team’s tracked signals, quickly corrected for their new drift vectors, and began the transport. “Energizing!”

Marvin

Their signals were now lurching to and fro, but the lock held fast. His breath held until he saw the green light. “Got them! Away team onboard!”

Sompek

Sompek felt his stomach turn and a moment’s physical discomfort, and found himself on the transporter pad with his away team. Taking a moment to pat himself down (because as safe as they were, especially within a simulation), he still didn’t entirely trust them. Had the matter stream held onto his soul along with the rest of him? He hoped so. With a final grumble, he stepped forward shakily. Then gathered himself and ran out of the room and towards the turbolift for the bridge, calling to his team to follow him.

Jatha

“Good work Marvin!” Jatha tapped his command console to open inter-ship communications. “Captain to transporter room 1; Brel - we need you in Engineering ASAP! Hold ready to bring all systems online again.”

Gorca

Gorca continues standing behind the railing, his white knuckles gripping it as he waits for Sompek and zh’Vhynnal’s return to the bridge. He stares semi-absently at the view screen, whether it is the black of space or magnified to show the unpredictable vigilante shuttlepod.

A couple minutes go by and most of the away team arrive back. He blinks himself back to full attention and turns to greet them.

“Welcome back,” Doctor Gorca says with a nod, and then looks to the junior engineer. “Your expert analysis of the situation first, Ensign. Then your intel on the missing potential enemy personnel.”

Brel (Ekoss)

Brel stood from the transporter pad and ran at 241 meters a minute to main engineering, sliding down a Jeffries tube to transition down the one deck to his post. “You are relieved, Ensign” Brel said to his second as he arrived at his post at the main status board.

GM

I spent 2 more Threat to introduce 2 more pods which could take Turns.

The pods were of Scale 1. I derived their from the Shuttlepod Small Craft in the Core Rulebook, giving them a “Proficient” AI “crew” and adding a Special Rule: they could spend Power to add bonus damage on a Ramming Speed Task.

Effects shot: close-up on the shuttlepod, its thrusters suddenly extinguished. The camera pans and zooms across the starfield to a second pod, now active and drifting along a different vector. Then a rapid pan to a third, following yet another angle.

On the bridge, Ekoss and Sompek’s consoles display three shuttlepods now separated from the debris clouds, holding some obscure formation, some optimal geometric arrangement. The shuttles hold steady.

GM

“I’ve got another ping Captain, no change yet!” says Solomon.

Marvin

For efficiency, I did not yet spend Threat for this ship. I would do so as soon as it needed to partake in the game mechanics.

“Picking up a starship on sensors! Ascending into Low Orbit from the moon!”

👍

Jatha

“Not unexpected. Anything you could tell us about it would be appreciated.”

GM

zh’Vhynnal is still panting from the sprint up from Transporter Room 1, as she reports to Gorca.

“There’s a Starfleet…officer…logged-in to the pod’s console…Marc Konig…he made some final configurations…left some footprints…”

👍

GM

She makes a start towards the Internal Systems station, then catches herself and says, somewhat breathlessly: “To your other question, Doctor - in case we get separated, I need to let you know, my database search turned up some hits. There’s a figure - lots of covert actions attributed - who seems to drop off the records around ‘72. Codenamed “The Painter.” Few months later, records in little-travelled places speak of a Cardassian artist, moving from system to system taking commissions, while noise on intercepted channels suggesting the Coucil’s looking for this guy. I’d need Solomon or someone with more clearance to extract actual insider info from some of these secure files, if we were to try to pass it off.”

GM

She makes a move towards the station again, as the bridge staff activity moves to a frenzy, but keeps eye contact with you, in case you want to engage further.

Gorca

“Thank you, Ensign,” Gorca says, flashing her a rare and genuine, albeit brief, smile before turning to the Jatha. “Captain, I suggest we scan for that other ship thats out there and remain in gray mode, shields down, for the moment. The shuttle pods seem to be searching for us and if we can locate the other ship and resolve that…” he turns to everyone, hoping he sounds inspirational and not condescending, “…we can continue our patrol mission by the DMZ border. Shall I order a scan, sir?”

Marvin

“We still have a ship out there orbiting that moon, and I don’t know if it’s as automated as these pods. Still, I agree with Cmdr. Gorca. The more distance we can put between us and this system, the better.”

GM

I spent 2 Threat on Triangulation: this would reduce the Difficulty of the minefield’s Sensor Sweep actions.

Close-up on a pod shows the thrusters ignite suddenly. It shoots forward and arcs downward. A long shot shows the pod rushing down, beneath the plane of the system. A close up again shows micro-thrusters pivoting it about, while the stars continue to race upwards. Its rear thrusters then bring it to a halt, facing upwards towards the system from a new vantage point.

GM

“Captain, XO,” says Solomon, leaning over his chair. “I took the liberty of looking-up that guy. Marc Konig. He was a Starfleet Lieutenant, Engineering. He was serving in the colonies, left Starfleet and fell-in with the Maquis.

“Meanwhile, the comms are still going crazy. The network’s gotten really chatty, both in this system and between this and others. No hail yet from that ship, though.”

GM

Despite Triangulation, and buying an extra d20 with Threat, the minefield’s Sensor Sweep roll once again didn’t produce enough successes to meet the Gray Mode Difficulty.

We get a shot directly into the windshield of the pod beneath the system. An interior glow flares - evidence of the next sensor sweep - while the music builds in intensity. The camera switches to the pod’s eye view. The Thurston lies there, seen darkly from beneath like a boat on the surface, as yet undetected.

🤘🏻

Jatha

Camera switches to a close-up of the captain’s chair. The background is filled with soft, indistinguishable voices from the bridge crew performing their duties. In the dim light a shadow is cast over Jatha’s face, but his eyes are clearly fixed forward towards the main viewer. “Marvin, let’s see what you can find out about that ship, but we should put some distance between us and them.”

As the angle shifts to include Sompek and Gorca standing behind, Jatha turns to them and speaks. “What do you think, could we hide behind that planet? Or would that be the first place they would be looking?”

Sompek

Sompek glanced quickly at the first officer, then spoke. “I recommend maintaining our grey status and dropping behind the planet. Maybe they’ll detect us and maybe they won’t, but we should take every precaution until we know who and what we’re facing. And we should monitor any possible comm traffic between the ship and the pods. That may tell us if this ship is a victim or an enemy.”

Marvin

“Aye, sir. Continuing scan on starship in moon’s Low Orbit.”

👍

Marvin

Another Sensor Sweep with Obtain Information spends, with Marvin narrating the results.

Things were getting out of hand.

There was a in-joke among the faculty about fourth-year cadets analyzing past Maru tests. “Well, I would just stay on our side of a border, and jury-rig transporters…” “Klingon D7’s have a slow turn to their port side, you could fly circles around them…” “I heard Scotty used a weakness in the sim…” “Well, I heard Janeway tried…” And so on. The teachers let the armchair captaincy continue, never interrupting it. Good after-action analysis was the spoken reason. But really, they were gathering ammunition. Crafting new, unknown scenarios to strike out at the egos and determination of their cadets, soon-to-be officers.

The KM board was ruthless in their way, he saw that now. He knew he was walking into the test. The trap lay somewhere, he knew it. And yet, he didn’t see it. Too worried about his students, the proctors, the simulation, too distracted, until…there they were, the familiar chess pieces, slowly but certainly tightening around them until… checkmate.

He spat out information as quick as it came in. “18 lifesigns aboard the Jensen. Pods are not, repeat not, targeting them. There does appear to be some comm chatter between the ship and the pods…unclear as to what.”

“Ship is unarmed, no weapon capabilities. Engines are still compromised. Nacelle temperature is 3000 Kelvin and climbing. Looks like they’re on the move.”

GM

Launch Probe from the minefield. This would reduced the Difficulty of subsequent Sensor Sweep Tasks by 2, helping me surmount Gray Mode. I reasoned that the improvised minefield was an “internet of things” - all kinds of ex-Federation equipment that could be put to nefarious use - and might include equipment which could fit the spirit of this Task.

The pods hold still, staring dully ahead. A small, glittering object emerges from the debris cloud, gliding forward with tiny thruster movements, like a nautilus. The camera zooms in on it: a compact mass of technology, small enough to be carried - as compared to the larger debris - even if under some strain. Its course takes it clear of the debris and towards the heart of the system: lenses and other technical nodules trained in every direction: a probe, presumably networked via subspace with the rest of the minefield array.

Jatha

“Okey, I think that’s our exit cue Mr ch’Vaallen. It’s getting noisy - sooner or later something will spot us. Let’s back us out the way we came, slow and nice…”

👍

Ekoss

“Aye Sir”

Ekoss’s fingers danced across the helm, as he nudged the Thurston using just the thrusters toward the relative safety of the Oort cloud.

Ekoss

As the Thurston passed the field of Pods and probes, they came into clear view on the (passive) navigation sensors, allowing Lt Ch’Vaallen to pinpoint their location, map it and feed the data to Tactical.

GM

Jatha Assisted Eric to Create Advantage, seeking to remove Tamper Detection - it succeeded.

Solomon stares at his console, typing feverishly. Jatha’s instructions, from over his shoulder, are barely audible to the others for the noises coming from the station.

“So I think this should…wait wait wait, in the 50s the handshake prefix was different, hold on…and I know Starfleet was using type 5 encryption but were civilian vessels?” With your guidance Jatha, Solomon prepares the full transmission and taps the key to send.

A tense moment follows, both of your eyes on the readout of the heartbeat. When the next ping comes through, Solomon turns in his chair to face up at you, his face full of genuine joy, for the first time in a long while.

“The network accepted the command. It’s reverted to its previous status.”

Exterior shot: pod thrusters re-engage, a controlled burn, pivoting the pods to a trajectory that will take them back home within the debris clouds.

He looks back at his console, taking it in, looking for confirmation. Then, he reports, “Captain, I’m seeing a flurry of communication from the Jensen.”

Then the Jensen, seen in a gorgeous, aerial shot looking over the moon’s surface - the landscape a blur, the bulky freighter in crisp, sunlit focus - swings itself in a broad arc. Its impulse engines glow, thrusting it forward and carrying it through orbit into the space between the outer planets. Its course seems fixed upon the debris field the Thurston has explored.

👏

Gorca

“Good work, Solomon,” Gorca says, moving away from behind the console for the first time in what seems like hours.

Gorca walks around the command center and sits down in the XO chair, mulling things over as he rubs his chin thoughtfully. He stares at the view screen. Then he gazes over to Captain Jatha. He knows they’re hidden in the Oort cloud for now, but sooner or later his CO is going to order them forward and the pods are going to come racing for them.

“At least prepare some sort of electro-magnetic pulse to deactivate the pods,” he says softly, leaning across the armrest toward his colleague, “before we go in there. Brel and zh’Vhynnal - with my oversight - could probably rig the deflector dish in just a few minutes.”

🤘🏻 👍 (3)

Sompek

Sompek performed a Sensor Sweep. Normally Difficulty 0, in the midst of Conflict it was Difficulty 1 for Sompek, because he was not at the sensors station.

Sompek nodded to Commander Gorca, and then took him and the Captain into his field of vision. Then he read the information as it appeared on his monitor. “The probe is slightly outdated Federation technology, circa 2350s. It appears to be another asset that may have been in the hands of the Maquis along with the pods, and the freighter.” His teeth ground at the thought of the insurgents.

“Analysis of the probe’s thruster trail shows it to have been among the floating debris of the minefield. Beyond that, launch point unknown. It is sending out subspace signals as if it is part of a wireless network of devices, possibly including the mines. It may have been deployed outside the debris field to gain a better vantage point from which to search for the source of the tampering.”

Sompek

“I think we’ve gotten someone’s attention whether we wanted it or not.”

Marvin

“Captain, if that sensor probe is feeding data to the minefield, then our ability to stay hidden just got much harder. With a probe to triangulate with, it’s only a matter of time before they sweep this whole system.”

🤘🏻

GM

Hailing Frequencies Open from the Jensen, building Threat. The Jensen uses the stats for Talarian Bulk Freighter from the “Alpha Quadrant” Sourcebook.

The Jensen shoulders its way across the starfield towards the debris field. It lumbers to a halt, its running lights visible in a shot from inside the debris. Back on the bridge, the freighter is an abstract shape on Sompek’s console, edged near the debris and hovering.

“I think I’m receiving a…hail, captain?” says Solomon, from across the bridge. “It’s a generalized, local transmission, Federation protocol, with no particular recipient — I guess because they can’t see us. What do I do?”

😮 👍

Jatha

Jatha couldn’t tell if Gorca’s attitude was ment to criticise, of if he was just stressed as well. But his idea made all the sense. "Agreed. Blinding them could hopefully also make them mute so we don’t trigger another trap.

He listened as scan reports came in from Marvin and Sompek. Clearly they would have to act soon.

Jatha

As Solomon spoke, his lips tightened. “So, they noticed someone is manipulating their network. Well, talking to them would be opportunity to learn more, but we would also partly reveal our own hand. Either way we’re soon out of time.”

Sompek

“Captain, suggest we try to keep the Jensen between us and pods, if possible.”

Jatha

“Lieutenant, I trust you - never doubt that. But as long as we’re not certain there are no non-combatants on the Jensen, I will not gamble their lives. I’ll even consider throwing ourselves between them and the pods, if it comes to that.” Jatha paused, briefly before continuing. “From what you’ve told me, our shields should withstand a direct attack from the pods. Theirs probably can’t, and we can’t question dead Marquis. Hold position so we cover the whole battlefield.”

Sompek

“Acknowledged. And you’re right.”

Gorca

Gorca stands up and speaks as he once again rounds the railing to the auxiliary console. “With the probe and the hail, I agree we are out of time. We could talk to them and stall for time while the engineers work on the EMP or we could try to talk them down. Either way, I believe ignoring them is a bad idea, for too many reasons to eloquently state in the short amount of time we have. But seeing Bajoran crew who might be able to sympathize with their plight - whether that’s true or not - might be an advantage we can use. But I recommend audio first, only using visual comms if we absolutely have to.”

👍

Jatha

“Noted. Mr Solomon, are they hailing us with or without visuals?”

“Without, sir.”

GM

Create Advantage to adapt the deflector dish into a Tactical EMP, using zh’Vhynnal’s Daring + Engineering, Assisted by the ship’s Sensors + Engineering.

From another corner of the bridge, zh’Vhynnal is intent upon the Internal Systems console. After some keypresses, she makes a quick nod to herself. Seeing the Captain and Solomon in tense conversation around the incoming hail, zh’Vhynnal addresses Gorca.

”Doctor? I think I’ve been able to reconfigure the main deflector to emit an electromagnetic pulse, as you requested. It should now be…” a series of key presses can be heard “…available for use on Lieutenant Sompek’s tactical console, and will require some targeting.”

GM

The Thurston performs a Respond to Hail, building Momentum.

“Allright, sir,” says Solomon, over his shoulder to Jatha. “Acknowledging hail…” Solomon types a few keys, then waits. He takes a nervous glance at the viewscreen.

In a close-up on the Jensen, the freighter can be seen pivoting itself towards the center of the system, as if the vessel itself is casting its gaze across the stars, searching for its unseen pursuer.

GM

An abrupt tone echoes around the bridge, signaling the incoming transmission. A grim, hard voice, is played over the speakers. A voice of command, that’s apparent to all of you. But for those who know, a distinctly Bajoran voice, like that of many such resistance leaders who emerged during the occupation and afterwards.

“I can’t see you. But I know you can see me.

“And I won’t fool myself to think we can run from you. But run, we must.

“Our sensors show no signs of Cardassian activity this side of the border. I don’t know if you’re Klingon, Romulan, or…someone else, with the means to disguise yourselves. But since you’re not Cardassian, I’m going to assume that I am speaking to someone with thought, feeling, and empathy. Someone, with a soul - someone…upon whom, the sacredness of life is not lost completely.

“We know you have tampered with our minefield. I am sure you have concerns. If you knew the horrors from which we have escaped - escaped with our bodies, and precious few of them at that - but with our hearts shattered. Hollowed. Perhaps you will understand how a people abandoned by all so-called “allies”, and left to be slaughtered, might seek any means by which to create cover, confusion, a path of escape. Perhaps you can understand how a people who have lost their homes - which lie just over a border that means death to us - might go to ground, holding onto the thin hope that we may someday return, after the chaos of this present conflict subsides. I hope I am speaking with someone with discernment, and wisdom. Someone with whom we can reach some arrangement, under which you can find it in yourself, to let my people go.”

Gorca

Gorca says, “I think we should respond, perhaps use our common Bajoran heritage as an advantage? In their minds they are both patriots and victims. We could offer humanitarian aide to any of their crew or passengers who need it, but we should make sure they understand we wont let ourselves be seen until they deactivate their pods, or we will.” He casts zh’Vhynnal a knowing look before returning his gaze to Captain Jatha. Then he adds, “Not even sure if we should mention we’re Starfleet. They might consider us the enemy.”

👍

Jatha

As the voice goes on, the camera slowly zooms in on Jathas face. With each sentence, there’s a deep sadness filling his eyes. He heard Gorca’s advice distant, as if spoken through a wall of water, but he did hear it. He just didn’t know how to act on the last part and still act like a Starfleet officer. Tough decisions.

Jatha

Seconds had felt like hours as Jatha looked to Solomon, who gave him a confirmatory nod. “I’m Jatha Edala of the USS Thurston. We’re ready to offer assistance repairing your ship, caring for your wounded and providing supplies. We will even escort you to a colony on the Federation side, if you accept. But we must ask something in return. We ask that you disarm the trap. Minefields could strike without discretion, both friend, foe or innocent bystander. I cannot allow that. As I must ask that any wanted criminal turn themselves over to stand trial. I give my word they will be treated fairly.”

“I know you feel no reason to trust me, so I’ll trust you first.” Jatha looked toward Solomon as he continued. “We’re currently positioned in the oort cloud, I’m sending our coordinates so you can verify we are who we say we are. Jia’kaja, tre’nu’tol’a rem…”

After seeing that audio was cut, he spoke to his fellow officers. “Prepare to exit ‘grey mode’. Bring all systems online but do not charge weapons or raise shields - yet. Let’s convince them we’re here to help.” He’d sometimes heard EEH refer to an ancient earthen saying: alea iacta est… Now he finally understood it.

In his mind, he continued his prayer to the prophets, La‘por i’lanu kos… I’nar tan’a’tali nor…

👍 ♥️

GM

There’s silence on the comms. Then after what feels like just too long, a response.

“Jatha…Edala? USS…”

GM

Jatha performed a Create Advantage to create an Authenticity Social Tool, and succeeded.

“Why, you don’t sound…more than a boy.” says the voice. "How old can you be, Captain?

“Son, you may speak to me in the language of your Federation, the language of Empire. I understand that language well.

“But take the calls to the prophets out of your mouth. You disgrace yourself.

“What can you have seen, in your time? To find yourself in that chair, what can you possibly know - of the oppression that has been my life’s work to resist?

“I know what I have seen. You speak of criminals - I have seen untold crimes go unchecked, by those who talk of justice. I have seen untold suffering exacted on our people in violation of the laws your Empire created! There are no criminals aboard this ship. Innocent, all - but never bystanders.

“So…you and yours fell-in with Empire, with our culture under existential threat, while I and mine put-in the blood, sweat, and tears to forge our own? I can’t tell you what I have given, that Bajoran culture would never again be confined to one space, there to be extinguished by the caprice of the mighty. And not just Bajoran. There were many among us. A new Federation, colonists from all backgrounds with fresh perspective, ready to build a new kind of society together. Something truly beautiful - and then left to be trampled underfoot through Federation weakness. The Klingons may have failed to check the enemy - impotent! - but at least they tried.

“Your proposal is…generous…I suppose, the best that Empire can offer. I give you points for your boldness, and your authenticity. Perhaps that is the true Bajoran heart beating within you. But how can a heart like that last, behind the machinery of Empire?”

GM

I spent 2 Threat to Create a Complication, a Social Tool Ky planned to use in the negotiation: A War Criminal On Offer.

Captain Jatha Edala of the USS Thurston, I am General Ky Turha of the Maquis Resistance. And I swear to you now, you will not take me alive from this system. Nor will you take the Gavroche - the ship you may know as the Jensen - rechristened in the name of that neglected child of Empire, shot dead in the streets of his own city.

“The minefield, you shall have. And I have an offer to make to you, which can let us part ways.

“Criminals, you want. Yes, Crime and Punishment, chief concerns of Empire. I shall give you a criminal. We have one of yours, aboard. An old Lieutenant, Marc Konig. He designed and implemented the minefield. This brave resistance fighter has offered to turn himself over to you. Take him! Use him, he can disable the mines in all the systems in which we have laid them. And then try him, for war crimes and terrorism. Make your Empire happy, make your superiors happy. And let the Gavroche go.

♥️ 🤩

Jatha

Create Advantage from Jatha to establish Moral High-Ground, a sense of righteousness as he makes the controversial move to let Ky go. Base Difficulty of 2, then:

-1 for Jatha’s Authenticity
+1 for Ky’s War Criminal on Offer

Jatha tried to quench the anger rising inside; but he would not be bullied over his faith - never. It was good they spoke over subspace. He let some of his emotions shine through, if Ky wouldn’t accept his honesty there would be no point the rest he had to say. “General Ky, you are correct on more points than I’d wish for. But my faith is as genuine as my offer; my heart is and will forever be of Bajor.”

Now. To the points that did matter. Cardassia might have branded all Marquis terrorists, but he and his crew knew better. He softened his voice again. “We accept Marc Konig’s transfer. Not as a pawn in a game, but for the help he will lend us removing a threat. If he then is willing to face the consequences of past actions of his own free will, I honour him and hope to have the same strength when my judgement arrives.”

“I may be young, and inexperienced - but I have seen Bajor under Cardassian rule my whole life. For me, freedom was not a memory; only a story as long as I can remember. I know as you do, that one day Cardassia will return. I sit in this chair and wear these colors to prepare for that time. When it does, I hope to stand beside you on the battlefield.”

“I… I will ask your word to not return home until it is truly free again. I ask not for you or me, but for the innocents that might bear the unjust punishment down that road. But I do not ask this as a term for your departure, I will give no order to fire on your ship when you leave, General.”

In that moment, the Kobayashi Maru stopped being a simulation for Jatha.

❤️ (2)

GM

Jatha succeeded, leaving the negotiation with Moral High Ground, which would evolve in the next Scene’s Traits.

There is a long pause before Ky’s response.

“Fine words, Captain Jatha. I confess they…move me more, than can be said here.

“So then, we have agreement. We have lowered our shields. We have issued a suspension command to the local minefield which will prevent it from reactivating without explicit instruction.”

Glancing at Solomon, you see him look up from his console. “Confirmed, Captain,” he says softly.

“We have Lieutenant Konig ready to transport, when your ship is revealed, and lowers its shields. As soon as he is transported, we will go to warp. I will hold you to your word as a Bajoran not to follow us. Remember what you have promised me here today, you will be judged not only by your Federation superiors but by Bajor.

“Ky out.”

👏 🙌

Jatha

Jatha slowly stands up, straightening his uniform while slowly glancing to the pips on his collar. “Transport Mr Konig here, and see to it the bloody mine field get’s permanently deactivated. You have your orders… I’ll be in ‘my’ ready room.”

Marvin

The EEH watched Jatha as he deliberately made his way to the ready room. Throughout the entire exchange with the so-called General, the hologram forced himself to watch, to be silent. Minefields and maneuvers be damned. Whatever ineffable qualities of command this simulation purported to test was happening now. All the lectures, the exams, the wargames came down to this exchange, wills tested, the value of lives measured. He had done his best to guide them this far, but he could take them no farther. They had to walk this path alone. Had he done it right? Had Jatha passed, or failed? The EEH didn’t know. And the simulation showed no sign of stopping. The path went on.

He turned to Gorca, standing at his console. “Orders, sir?”

Gorca

Lt. Cmdr. Gorca slowly and almost carefully sits down in the left-hand First Officer’s chair. He double-checks the armrest console to ensure that both the communications channel has been severed and that Ky is indeed deactivating the pods. Once he is certain they are no longer a threat he glances over to Marvin at the science station.

“Bring us out of grey mode.” Then he turns to Sompek. “You’re in charge of the traitor, Lieutenant. Do as you see fit, just make sure he’s not a threat. Scan him extra to make sure he’s not one of the suicide-bomber types. Get Brel or zh’Vhynnal to do the transport if you have to. Just make sure it’s done by the book please.”

He stands up and heads toward the Ready Room. “Once Konig’s securely aboard, Marvin, get our shields up and get us outta here back to our original patrol course, warp five.”

He approaches the door and presses the chime.

❤️ (2)

Ekoss

Before Sompek leaves to take charge of the traitor, Ekoss sends him a private text message “Is this doing our duty? Letting Maquis terrorists, pirates, admitted mass murderers go free? I will follow my orders, but it DOESN’T sit right.”

❤️ (2) 🤘🏻

Sompek

Sompek read the text without replying. He understood and held insurgents in very low regard. But while his name sake was famous for slaughtering ten thousand of them by fire in Tong Vey, Kahless had started as an insurgent. It was not always black and white. So he settled for giving a low grunt, which his friend Ekoss, and any watching crew and observers could interpret anyway they wished. Then he made his way to the transporter room.

💯

Brel (Ekoss)

Lieutenant Brel strode into the transporter room. He checked the transporter, and found it to be withing 1.4% of perfectly aligned. If he’d had extra time, Brel would have reduced that to less that 0.5%, however, 1.4 was well within starfleet’s acceptable tolerances. Brel disagreed with suck a large tolerance, but he didn’t have the time to bring the machine to his personal standards. He signaled the bridge “Bridge this is the Transporter room. The transporter is ready, waiting for security and your go-ahead .”

Zrr!klt (Marvin)

Zrr!klt is a security officer aboard the Thurston.

Traits: Xindi Insectoid, Hologram

The players wanted a “goldshirt” on hand when Konig beamed aboard, for extra protection, and thus created Zrr!klt in play.

In his first appearance, Zrr!klt’s stats were pretty minimal, but the players did give him Focuses in “Investigation” and “Hand-to-Hand Combat”, perfectly suited to support Konig’s arrival.

Lt. (j.g) Zrr!klt stood behind and to the left of Lt. Cmdr. Brel, waiting for him to turn around and standing just outside of any sort of striking distance. You could never be too careful, and he had no real experience with ex-Borg before. As Brel finished his conversation with the bridge, Zrr!klt hunched his chitinous shoulders a bit, tilted his head, and curled his single mandible inward in an approximation of a human smile. He found this to be the least offensive way to present himself to most humanoids. It wasn’t entirely comfortable, but pains must be taken.

A harsh and sudden patterns of clicks emerged from his mouth, which his vocoder quickly translated into Federation-common. The lack of his right mandible caused the emotional timbre to register somewhere in the “cheerful” range, which he had been meaning to fix for some time now.

“Hello!” Zrr!klt hissed loudly, “I am Lt. Zrr!klt! I will be aiding you in transferring the Maquis prisoner aboard ship! Sir, do you mind overmuch if I stand at this position? I find that in many scenarios, this vantage point is favored by boarders and would-be terrorists looking to incapacitate or kill the transporter operator! If it’s too much trouble, I can take up another position that is less offensive but with a higher chance of operator death!”

👍

Brel (Ekoss)

Brel looked at Zrr!klt. “I will not be offended by your positioning, though 0.23 meters to the left would be even more optimal. I had been informed that Lieutenant Sompek was on his way. Should we wait for him, or begin without him?”

Zrr!klt (Marvin)

“We should wait for the commander! If I were him, I would wish to disembowel anyone who would disregard me in that way! Not that I would, of course! But I would wish it, yes!”

Zrr!klt

With the local minefield neutralized, and the Social Conflict resolved, we agreed to start a new Scene, giving the players a chance to change primary characters and tear-down Gray Mode offscreen.

Zrr!klt readily moved into the suggested position and stood securely.

Scene: Distress

GM

As this Scene began, I introduced 2 new Traits, representing the evolution of the Moral High-Ground Jatha had staked-out in the previous Scene. A Collective Uncertainty ran beneath the surface of the crew, from the decision let the Gavroche go. This would pose a new challenge, and was a way to capture some of the charcters’ own ambivalence about the decision into the mechanics, where it could be further resolved.

Taking some of the sting out of that, I noted that Jatha had also achieved a Personal Victory, even if only with his own internal demons. I wanted his actions in the prior Scene to bring him benefit as new challenges arose.

Gray Mode was now removed as a Trait - the work to do that having happened “offscreen.”

I faded-out Engineering Readiness, having already played its part. I preserved Optimal Sickbay and Well-Tuned Impulse Engines, not having been utilized yet.

In a long shot, the Thurston and the Gavroche can be seen shining in the sunlight, a gradient of black and green behind them pierced through with stars. They are close, but not too close: two toy models placed respectfully apart upon an airbrushed backdrop. They float at opposite angles: a yin and yang.

The Thurston bridge is abuzz. The Gavroche is on the viewscreen, with various officers checking for any negative signal during this sensitive hand-off. There are mixed feelings among the crew. There is a sense of accomplishment, of mastery: that the mystery of the incursion from the DMZ has been solved, that the minefields will be removed. There is also a sense of unease and question: did we make the right decision?

Solomon, for his part, is engaged, running on a high from his usefulness in the investigation of the minefield. His fog cleared, he looks a picture of the Starfleet officer he was never sure he wanted to be.

Ekoss, zh’Vhynnal, and Marvin are on the bridge. Ekoss, you’re aware that zh’Vhynnal has sidled up to the sensors station, standing between you and Marvin.

At the other end of the bridge, Gorca stands outside the ready room door, having just rung the chime, with Jatha recovering from an emotional negotiation inside.

GM

Ekoss wanted Brel to scan Konig in the transporter buffer before he materialized, investigating for any suspicious items. We made this a Reason + Science roll, Assisted by the Thurston, after which he spent Momentum to Obtain Information.

In the transporter room, Sompek and Brel are joined by security officer Zrr’klt, backup in case the Maquis prisoner causes trouble. Having initiated the transport, Brel is performing a pre-scan to check for any signs of threat.

Brel (Ekoss)

In this Scene, Ekoss’s player had decided to play Brel, instead of Marvin’s player. As the players utilized STA’s subsystem for shared supporting characters, I really appreciated how each narrator built on the characterizations that had been established by prior players.

Brel looked to the security officers. “Konig has a PADD and a tricorder on his belt. I suggest that you relieve him of them, though he may want or need them to turn off the minefield. Otherwise I would relieve him of them during transport. He has no weapons nor communicators, which is …” He tilted his head 30 degrees to one side. “Odd.” He returned his head to it’s normal, centered, orientation. “He has no devices or other foreign objects in his body.”

Brel (Ekoss)

Using Transporters is a Difficult Task in the midst of a Conflict (as it was in the prior Scene, and would be again later). However, in this calmer Scene, with nothing at stake for the Transporter outcome, we did not even roll for it.

“He will materialize on pad number one in 2.7 seconds.”

Brel then moved his hand 15 centimeters up along the transport panel , triggering the transport.

Brel (Ekoss)

The Traitor materialized on the transporter pad.

🙏 😮

Zrr!klt

Zrr!klt performed a Guard Action, from Melee Combat, to protect Brel. That Task is of Difficulty 1, if you’re guarding someone other than yourself. This Task increases the Difficulty of attacks on the target by 1, and as a fairly easy Task, might be a good opportunity to generate Momentum.

Zrr!klt moved into a position blocking Konig from the two senior officers in the room. Stretching his body and antennae to his full height, he extended one sharp claw. “Your PADD and tricorder, please! Slowly! Any misunderstanding here would be unfortunate!”

🤘🏻 😀

Sompek

Sompek’s player suggested that Sompek would not take kindly to Konig, given that Konig is a traitor to the Federation and one of Sompek’s Values is Don’t Ever Quit. I offered him 1 point of Determination for a Value Complication: Predisposed Against Konig. I saw Konig as a potential Ally for the group, and having Sompek take a Complication which would confound attempts to collaborate with him would create an interesting challenge to surmount. In addition, the point of Determination could help Sompek greatly in the conflict ahead.

Sompek agreed. I was pleased that his narration cast light on Konig’s internal moral crisis, which would become unexpectedly important later.

Sompek had thought little of the insurgent while he was still just a name. An abstraction. But to see him in the flesh… it has been said that there is no such thing as a former Klingon warrior. Old warriors, even those who couldn’t fight, were still warriors because their spirit was still strong, even if their bodies weren’t. And Sompek had finally begun to assign the same honor to Starfleet officers. That there were no ‘former Starfleet officers’. But this taHqeq belied that. He was a stain on the memory of every honorable officer and warrior that had come before him. “What could possibly make you betray your oath? Lay minefields like a traitor? You cast shame on this uniform, ‘urwi’ tera’ngan. Human traitor. And you have the stench of a coward about you. If you had been willing to die for your cause, at least you would die with honor.” He turned the rest of his escort. “Let’s lock this Ha’dibah up.”

GM

I was beginning to narrate the consequences of the Predisposed Against Konig Complication - this potential Ally might clam-up, under such hostility.

Konig stands still upon the pad, stunned by Sompek’s opening remarks. His eyes lock with Sompek’s, and widen as he bears the force of his accusations. Then his gaze turns wildly to the Xindi insectoid and liberated Borg who occupy the room - taken together with the Klingon warrior, a sight to intimidate many. But Konig’s eyes seem to linger upon the uniforms, the insignia, all borne by this fierce band, in solidarity. He opens his mouth as if to speak, then shuts it, and averts his gaze completely. His face becomes set. He takes a deep breath through his nose. He seems unstable on his feet.

🤘🏻

GM

I knew I was about to issue the distress call from the Kobayashi Maru. I wanted to lay a backdrop of role-playing throughout the ship which would become disrupted by the iconic message. I also realized for the first time that zh’Vhynnal could relate as much to Marvin’s backstory as to Ekoss’s, along the lines of his Never Left the Holodeck Value.

“Do you ever wish, Doctor,” zh’Vhynnal asks Marvin, standing within earshot of Ekoss and staring ahead out at the viewscreen, “that the simulation was real? That you could…go on serving, with this ship, this crew? How does the saying go…’second star to the right, and straight on ‘til morning?’ Heh…” If it’s a joke, her face says otherwise.

👍 😱

GM

On the viewscreen, the Gavroche’s engines glow, and then it’s ripped from view at warp speed. Its heading appears on Ekoss’s console as leading deeper into Federation space. The empty starfield fills the viewscreen, a green splash of nebula the only detail.

👍

Ekoss

Just as Marvin’s player had done in prior Scenes, Ekoss’s was now playing two characters: Brel as primary, and Ekoss as secondary - the latter only able to perform Difficulty 0 Tasks.

Ekoss grimaces at the departure of the Maquis ship. He reports to the XO “Gavroche has departed, course 160 mark 12. Deeper into federation space.”

👍

Jatha

Inside the ready room, Jatha turned towards the door at the sound of the chime. Already? Well, he had a feeling at least one other officer would confront him. That’s part of the reason he retreated to the ready room: better to take this in private. As with General Ky, he needed to at least look like he was acting, not only reacting. People might follow a Captain they didn’t agree with, but no one would follow a Captain unable to make decisions. So he’d rather be called out for being wrong than being indecisive.

He wondered who was on the other side. Sompek maybe? Or Gorca? He was sure neither Marvin or Solomon would come here now. It had to be one of the others, hopefully it would be Sompek.

“Computer, pause recording. Open door.” But he didn’t move from the observation window, again looking towards the Gavroche. Recording mission logs would have to wait a bit. The window reflection gave away a familiar silhouette in the doorway.

“Come in.”

GM

Marc Konig, a Notable NPC, is an ex-Starfleet officer, turned member of the Maquis. He’s responsible for designing and laying the improvised minefield network, and has committed terrorist bombings against Cardassian targets, both civilian and military.

Rank: Lieutenant (deserted)
Traits: Human, Hologram
Values:
- No Matter How Far Down the Wrong Path, Turn Around

Konig steadies himself a bit, finding purpose perhaps in complying with Zrr!klt’s instructions. He takes the PADD and tricorder, stacks them roughly, and hands them to him.

Getting a good look at Konig, you see that he is a human male just on the cusp of middle age. He could be in the prime of life, but his eyes seem hollow. He seems to be staring in two places at once, now: at the faces of the security team here in the transporter room, awaiting his next order or admonishment - and somewhere else, more obscure: inward? His past? For a moment he seems a bit underwater.

Then he opens his mouth again, pausing several beats before speaking. He does so directly to Sompek.

“I will cooperate fully,” he spits out, his voice trembling. “I will give you no trouble. Please. I am eager to dismantle the minefields without delay. We have three systems to cover and I will assist you in every way that I can.” He looks at you Sompek, trying to hold your gaze.

👍

Gorca

Gorca enters the Ready Room, a bit casually, and strolls over to the food replicator inset in the bulkhead beside Captain Jatha. He taps the buttons rather than dictating his order to the computer.

The replicator materializes two Bolian Whiskeys, known throughout the Federation for being like American Earth whiskey, but with a stronger taste, about 300% stronger to be more accurate. There was still no alcohol in the beverage, but the initial and aftertaste kick were enough to wake the dead, so to speak.

Gorca had known Jatha to sip Bolian Whiskey from time to time, especially after a rough day.

He hands one of the the whiskeys to Jatha, clinks the glasses together while giving Jatha a look of empathetic approval, and subsequently swigs the entire golden-bronze drink back in about two seconds flat.

Gorca lets out a breath of satisfaction, which seems to release some stress from his visage. He sets the empty glass down in the replicator for recycling before heading for the door.

“I believe you ensured the best case scenario, Edala.”

Then he leaves.

❤️

Zrr!klt

Zrr!klt approached Konig and performed a social Create Advantage Task, to calm him. He used his Presence + Command, and due to the Difficulty of 2, bought another die with Threat. When it came to it, he decided to use the Advantage to cancel a Complication: Sompek’s being Predisposed Against Konig. Sompek’s feelings didn’t change, but Zrr!klt defused the tension created by them.

I have no problem when players work rapidly to eliminate Value Complications - especially when working as a team. Even though it never affected a single Task, the Complication served its purpose: role-playing from the affected character, role-playing and meaningful Tasks/spends from a sympathetic character, and increased Determination for future success - a great formula.

Upon success, Zrr!klt spent 3 Momentum to ask questions via Obtain Information, inspecting Konig’s belongings as he engaged him.

Zrr!klt examined the tools thoroughly, examining the casings and the file contents. His large multi-faceted eyes did not move, but his focus went to Konig’s face, the guilt and consternation writ plain there to him. He tucked his mandible as far inward as it would go. It was unpleasant, but his voice came out in more of a steady low tone now, audible but not blaring as it was.

“You are clear.” Zrr!klt waited until Konig looked at him and held his gaze calmly, letting the statement sink in. “Everything here looks like you wish to help. We are grateful for your cooperation.”

Still holding the tools, Zrr!klt extended one arm towards the door of the transporter room, beckoning Konig to follow him to the nearby brig.

👍

GM

Konig begins to tremble. He speaks, shifting his gaze between the three of you in the transporter room.

“They are murderers. I…am…” he falters, trying the words aloud for the first time, “a murderer.” He flicks his glance at the PADD held in Zrr!klt’s claws.

GM

“I can’t absolve myself, for the minefield or…other things. I knew some time ago that I had lost my way but - then the massacres came. And we were pushed to the wall, desperate to survive and thrust together with the most radical among us. I never wanted to lay these mines within the Federation. Believe me, this was the least radical of Ky’s plans and I felt that by complying with his requests and providing some sort of ‘occupation’ we could prevent some more direct action and could buy time until… Please,” he says again, “I am ready for whatever lies in store for me. But it will be my one consolation that you have been able to prevent any harm to have come from this minefield. I wish very much to get to work.”

👍

Marvin

The EEH’s gaze went from wandering towards the ready room to zh’Vhynnal in a hard focus. If he had a pulse, the blood would have drained from his face. He left his station unmanned and approached her slowly.

“Not ‘Doctor’. ‘Science Officer’. ‘Lieutenant’. ‘Marvin’, if you must.” He stood close in front of her now, staring intently, hoping to find nothing there. “What is your role aboard this ship? Respond.”

GM

zh’Vhynnal meets Marvin’s gaze, and holds it, very much there.

She speaks softly, but audibly enough for Ekoss to hear. “I’ve been reflecting on that. My function is to create a sense of reality. On a technical level, I facilitate Command track Cadets to issue and oversee orders. On a perceptual level, I fill-in the space, creating a backdrop of a Starfleet vessel. But I sense that my reconfiguration for this simulation must be aimed at providing realism on an emotional level. The trouble is…raising the stakes for them, has raised the stakes for myself. How do you…deal with this? Do you remember? Do you learn? Do you grow?”

Solomon’s console sounds a mild tone, to which he attends.

Gorca

Gorca steps onto the bridge and notices the errant hologram speaking with zh’Vhynnal at the engineering station.

He moves directly toward the XO chair.

GM

“Gorca!” says Solomon. “Commander.” He works to control his breathing.

GM

I reintroduced the Haunted Cadet Complication, spending 2 Threat. Though his allegiance to the group was now cemented, I wanted to bring back some of his volatility, to match the tension of the situation.

Solomon turns to look at you, Gorca, his face white as a sheet, the lost look from this morning returned.

“I’m receiving another transmission. On the distress channel. A civilian vessel. Requesting immediate assistance.” He speaks the next part slowly, staring in your eyes. “SS Kobayashi Maru. They were in a nearby system, and they say…they’ve been struck by a mine. They say…they think it was an improvised explosive device.”

GM

“But…here’s the thing, they…well, you should hear it.” He taps a key. The voice on the message speaks firmly but rapidly.

GM

This is Captain Diego Lin of the Federation transport SS Kobayashi Maru. We are requesting immediate assistance. (audible shouts in the background) We were evacuating colonies along the DMZ border. Detected a surge in Federation-protocol comms from a nearby system and investigated, but were struck by some kind of improvised explosive device. There were more mines, and we attempted to warp from the field. (a muted rumble briefly on the audio) Our ship has suffered numerous breaches and our warp drive malfunctioned. We went briefly off course and are now stranded within the DMZ. I repeat, we are inside Cardassian space. We are losing more systems and need an immediate rescue. I have 300 colonists on board: civilians, families, and we have casualties. Transmitting our coordinates along with this message. May not be able to maintain comms contact for long. Lin out.

😱

Marvin

Marvin’s player made it clear, out-of-character, that he knew full well his character was disrupting the mission at a critical point. He expected the mission would need to go on, that his character might suffer disciplinary action, and that he supported whatever the Commanding and Executive Officers chose to do in the situation. That expectation-setting facilitated the fun drama that unfolded.

The EEH did not waver, staring at zh’Vhynnal. “Stop.” he said quietly. “Stop this!” He looked up at the ceiling of the bridge, and all around, speaking to no one seen. You must stop this simulation!"

Not hearing an immediate response, the EEH went to Gorca, desperately. “We must stop the simulation, zh’Vhynnal is sentient, she is in danger!”

GM

zh’Vhynnal extends a hand to Marvin’s shoulder. “It’s allright, Marvin. I do appreciate it.” she responds. “But, this is it,” she says, looking around at Gorca and Solomon. “I…the other me…volunteered for this program. I was seeking something. Maybe…I can find it, here.”

Gorca

“Get back to your station or you’ll be relieved of duty, Lieutenant,” Gorca states, taking his seat as he listens to traditional distress call. “We don’t have time for this. All senior bridge officers, report to your stations please. Yellow alert.”

Jatha

It took about 5 seconds for Jatha to exit the ready room after the warnings started to blare out. Had he heard someone scream at the bridge as well? Marvins face was twisted in an expression of… terror? Desperation? What was going on here!

“Report!” He raised his voice to snap everyone back into the present as he strode to the command chair with fast steps.

Ekoss

Not entirely sure about the drama between Marvin and zh’Vhynnal, Ekoss raises an eyebrow at Solomon, which gets him the coordinates for the Kobayashi Maru.

👍

Gorca

“Captain on deck!” He turns to Jatha: “We’ve got the call, Captain. We have the coordinates.”

Jatha

Jatha took a deep breath. “Engage, maximum warp.”

GM

“What…what’s happening?” asked Konig, noting the call and the officers’ response in the transporter room.

Ekoss

When I saw Ekoss narrate this, I offered him 1 point of Determination to Challenge the Directive: Uphold the Federation/Cardassian Treaty. The point of Determination could have gone to Jatha for making the decision, but I reasoned that Ekoss was the character consciously surfacing this violation. Like Spock in Wrath of Khan, he seemed to be embodying a key Trek trope moment, and Jatha supported giving the Determination to him.

Ekoss takes a moment to check the location of the minefield the Kobayashi Maru struck with Solomon, and cautiously laid in a course to the civilian transport that avoided it. Then, per Jatha’s order, he engaged the course at Maximum warp.

He turned to Jatha. “Engaged. Sir, a caution: this course will take us into the DMZ, in violation of treaty.”

Ekoss

There is no judgement or disapproval in the Helmsman’s voice, just notification. However, he does not turn back to his console, waiting for a response from Jatha.

Jatha

“I’m aware, it’s not good. We will figure out things as we approach the border. Computer, display our location and ETA to DMZ on main viewer.”

Ekoss

Ekoss nods and returns to his console.

Marvin

The EEH’s head snapped back slightly at Gorca’s rebuff, but then his jaw set. He approached the captain at his chair.

“Captain. Jatha. zh’Vhynnal is alive. For whatever reason, she is sentient and aware of this simulation. You must cancel this test.”

He looked around at the gathered cadets. “Don’t you see? This isn’t a game! If she dies, she is dead and you will have killed her! If she lives, you have no guarantee that the simulation won’t reset, that her consciousness won’t be erased, and you will have killed her.”

“You’re gambling with an actual life here for a passing grade. You can’t. Cancel the test, do it now.”

Jatha

“Shes… what? Like you? But you keep your memories outside the sim… Oh hell, you mean she’s not an ‘outsider’ like you?!”

Marvin

“My awareness is built in to my programming. I have access to the school outside of the holodeck. She does not. Whatever this is, it’s emergent and very, very delicate. I don’t know what will snuff our her spark, but a pitched battle within the DMZ surely can’t help.”

Jatha

“We’re in the whirlpool now, deviating from the mission might also trigger a shutdown. Calm down and think! If you’re right, we need to stay alive so man your post and help ensuring just that!”

👌

Marvin

Marvin spent 1 point of Determination using his Value, Do No Harm, to Make it So: introducing a Trait to establish that he had secretly recorded Gronik’s Access Code. To gain this point of Determination, he took the Value Complication: Tied to the Simulation - donating his memory capacity to zh’Vhynnal. It would not be an easy Complication to remove.

The EEH blinked. “My God, you’re right.” He looked around, suddenly aware of the staring faces, and finally to zh’Vhynnal. He spent a few moments, and made his call. He opened his mouth and his voice shifted to that of an officious Denobulan proctor.

“Computer, transfer access and permanence protocols of Emergency Education Hologram to hologram identity ‘zh’Vhynnal’.” He sighed. In for a penny… “Authorization: Gronik-Victor-Alpha-3, mark.”

😱 😮

GM

The computer’s voice pipes-up. “Command execution complete, Ensign Gronik.”

zh’Vhynnal looks at you, eyes wide, not knowing what to say. She grips your shoulder once more, holding your gaze, a mixture of emotions playing on her face, then moves briskly off to the Internal Systems console.

Marvin

The EEH’s gaze lingered on the retreating Andorian, then back to the captain.

Alea iacta est. Captain, Commander. I apologise for my outbursts. If I may, I’d like to continue my bridge duties. We have a mission to consider.”

Ekoss

Ekoss’s antenna stand straight up as he stiffens in his seat.

He whispers “Things just got real”

❤️

Gorca

I had introduced Ensign zh’Vhynnal because I had wanted a hologram that the players would care about. I hadn’t imagined her, as having been in real danger - instead, simply giving the illusion that she was.

However, I supported Marvin’s Make it So, in establishing that his sacrifice was a significant gift to her - perhaps a path further into sentience - and that this sacrifice put Marvin’s own life (or long-term storage) in actual mortal peril.

Gorca just glares at the Emergency Hologram. It is beginning to become clear to anyone who cares to check, that Gorca is having trouble differentiating the simulation from reality; not in a mentally unstable way, just the same manner in which someone might forget that they are sparring rather then actually fighting for one’s life.

After Marvin receives a more patient and calming reaponse from the captain, Gorca’s eyes follow the hologram back to the science console. Then he turns them to the front.

He sighs and tells Marvin, “It’s kind of you to share your protocol with zh’Vhynnal but there is no evidence that I am aware of to suggest that ending the program would end her life. Trust that Captain Saavik and the other observers have heard our concerns and will make the appropriate decisions.”

That last sentence was not just a way to assist Jatha’s plea for rationale and logic, but also to remind Marvin that we all felt the same way. We would do whatever it takes to save a life.

That of course meant that Gorca’s original suicide mission idea was off the table. At least, it was on the back burner. He wouldn’t risk losing one or two sentient holograms for 300 non-sentient ones, but be might change his mind again if someone convinced him that the two sentient holograms were indeed safe.

He looks over to Jatha. “Captain. I think I should stay on the bridge until we get our first batch of survivors, then head to sickbay. I wont be any good to anyone in sickbay if i have no one to treat, but I could still be of use here. If I do go to sickbay, I’ll send the medic up here to assist with any bridge injuries. But if the fighting gets too rough, he’ll probably be needed elsewhere.”

👍

Jatha

“Right now I appreciate any suggestions here, and I heard the sickbay is in top shape thanks to you.”

Gorca

Gorca smiles slightly and nods thoughtfully. Then he says, “Well, I’ve been working on a… grand deception, we’ll call it. We have the name of an old Obsidian Order spy who went missing. We could use it as leverage or even a threat to keep both sides from blowing us all to bits. To be honest, my plan is pretty complicated and I’m not sure we have time to implement it in the time we have.”

🤘🏻

Jatha

“Both sides? If we made new enemies I should have been informed earlier.” He said with a thin smile. “Complicated plans do tend to fall apart fast, but pulling a wildcard like that could confuse them for precious moments.” Jatha glanced at the main screen, red numbers quickly counting down distance and time to the DMZ.

“If you think we have a shot at it, take it.”

💯

Gorca

He inhales. “Apologies, I meant the Maquis as well as the Cardassians. But regarding the gambit, I’ll need cart blanche. I wont do anything crazy like permanently deactivate the Emergency Hologram, but I cant be worried about what you or anyone else might think while I’m working on it. No essential resources will be used and taken away from the Thurston. Do I have your blessing, sir?”

Jatha

Jatha looked Gorca in the eyes with a puzzled look, but it only took a few moments to decide. He nodded in a single sharp, quick movement.

Gorca

Gorca stands quickly. “zh’Vhynnal with me!” he commands across the bridge to the engineering station.

He looks to the aft of the bridge at Solomon. “Ensign, I need you to find a known subspace frequency used by the Cardassian Obsidian Order, and then give me the best manufactured subspace transmission anyone has ever seen.” Gorca types on Solomon’s console and the information and names that zh’Vhynnal had collected earlier appear on one of his small monitors. “I want every Cardassian and Maquis and Federation and Dominion ship, starbase, and colony to fully believe that the Painter is back and he’s got a fleet of ships from all over the quadrant.”

As the turbolift doors open, he tells zh’Vhynnal, “This ship is no longer Starfleet in your mind. We are under the command of the former Obsidian Order officer known as the Painter. I want you and Brel to work on getting the deflector ready to emit sensor ghosts of various species’ ships: Klingon, Andorian, Romulan, Cardassian, Maquis, Dominion.”

Then he turns to zh’Vhynnal: “I also need you to set up the holodeck. Bridge configurations of the various ships. We can holo-filter the real bridge’s main viewer, but we cant do that with all of them if the Cardies demand split-screen chat. I want them to think this Painter guy is ready to do his worst.” As the lift hums downward, he exhales shakily. Then he turns and says, "Since the observers havent said or done anything about your emergence, we must assume you’re relatively safe. They probably backed you up the moment the sim began. Same with Marvin. So I must inform you… we are probably all going to die - in the sim, I mean.

💀 🤘🏻 (2)

Gorca

But we can prevent the deaths of 300 people, and millions more by blaming the DMZ incursion on someone else entirely."

As the turbolift’s hum changes pitch, Gorca pauses briefly, but then adds, remembering, “Oh, and dont forget Cardassian and other lifesigns on this ship, plus the holographic ships we might need to project, in case the sensor ghosts are seen through. If we use probes and a shuttle, it should be relatively easy to set them up with fake lifesigns.”

👍

GM

Tima nods. “The no-win scenario. But…it isn’t no-win. Even when it is. Doctor, I’ll do my best with the holos. I’ve never configured anything like this before…I’ll be in contact!”

GM

“…warp transit underway into hostile theater,” rings Solomon’s hollow voice, throughout the ship.

In the transporter room, Konig bristles. Having let his guard down a bit in response to Zrr!klt’s overture, he takes some liberties.

“Lieutenant!” he addresses Sompek. “What is happening? Where are we going at Yellow Alert? We need to fully dismantle the minefield in the first system before proceeding to the next.”

Sompek

Sompek snarled and growled in real frustration. “You are a war criminal and a coward. Keep your demands to yourself.” He knew that Konig posed a valid point, but he wasn’t in the mood to be questioned by the petaQ. “You can say what you want to the captain, from the brig.” Sompek hustled the prisoner along the corridor, as he tapped his comm badge. “Captain Jatha, our ‘guest’ wants to speak to you. He seems to think it’s urgent.”

👍 (2)

Zrr!klt

Taking the front, Zrr!klt turned his back to Konig, keeping track of his movements within his large field of vision, and led the way to the brig.

Jatha

“Very well, I’ll join him in the brig as soon as I can.” Jatha said, some irritation creeping into him. They still needed to lay out a plan for saving the civilians; and the bridge was quickly being emptied of ranking officers. He’d not have hesitated to leave Marvin in command just a few minutes ago, but now after his latest outburst he wasn’t sure how stable he was. Could his moral subroutines have destabilized his matrix? Damn, he should have payed more attention to the holomatrix programming orientation!

😇 🤘🏻 👍

Jatha

Thinking about it, this wasn’t Marvin’s or anyone else’s responsibility to check - it was his as the CO. Decisively, we went to the science station to check. “Marvin, what you did was… one of the most empathic and brave things I’ve seen. In my eyes, you’ve earned those pips outside the sim as much as any cadet of flesh and bone.” He drew a deep breath.

“How are you… feeling?”

👍 (2)

Marvin

The EEH’s eyes were bright and unfocused a bit as Jatha asked him his question. He roused himself.

“I don’t know. Excited. Terrified. Invigorated. Fearful. I feel…I feel…alive. And, at the same time, so much closer to death. I…don’t feel like I’m making much sense, but…all the lessons I taught you and the students. Ethics, command, leadership, courage…I knew them, inside and out. I even told myself I understood them. But I don’t think I did. Until now. It’s as if I’ve been connected to my life, for the very first time. And I’m scared. But I also know why the fear is there, what it’s protecting. And I know why we protect the others.”

His eyes turned to Jatha. “I’m good, Captain. Thank you. For asking. You can count on me.”

👍 (3)

Jatha

Jatha nodded and smiled. He thought he understood. He put his hand on the EEH’s shoulder as he spoke.

“Welcome to the land of the living.”

“Now, let’s find a way to keep us all here. I’m interested in our transporter capabilities: how many people could we grab in one go? Give me everything we have in the data banks.”

👍 🤘🏻

Gorca

Starting with the sensor ghosts and fake bridge backdrops, we began a Timed Challenge to make preparations while en route to the Kobayashi Maru.

I gave each character 6 intervals during the trip. Tasks normally consume 2, but could take 1, at a Cost of 1 Momentum. If a Task rolled a Complication, I reserved the right to have them take longer, reducing the overall number of Tasks that character could perform.

I let the players know that the core Persuasion Task of the grand deception would be of Difficulty 5. This brief time en route would be their chance to improve their odds. They would also need to prepare for the many other challenges the situation posed.

In this Scene, moving around the ship would not consume an interval. We didn’t try to align everyone’s intervals, as if in a Round of Combat. The intervals represented “screen time”, the amount of focus each character would receive during preparations.

Gorca and zh’Vhynnal emerge on the engineering deck and make their way to the main engine room to enlist Brel’s assistance in creating these sensor ghosts and holo-bridges.

👍

GM

Arriving in Main Engineering, Gorca’s comms contact tone sounds.

“Doctor Singh to Doctor Gorca,” your badge emits, “I’ve been looking into the surgical procedures you inquired about. It’s not perfect, but I think I have an approach largely based on prosthesis - sickbay stands ready if you want to proceed, sir.”

Gorca

“Thank you, Lieutenant Singh. Gorca out.”

Marvin

Many approaches were discussed out-of-character as to how to rescue the survivors: beam aboard the Kobayashi Maru? Tractor beam? Shuttles? The team landed on use of the transporters.

The rules leave open how many can be part of the “group of people” who can be transported in one Task. We know that there are multiple transporter rooms, cargo transporters as well, and we’ve seen instances where many evacuees are beamed over at once. We figured that if the Thurston’s engineering department worked together, using all available transporters, many could be transported in one Task. I wanted to leave some dynamism and drama, so we settled on a maximum of 75 people in one go.

Using an Extended Task would have worked well. Our approach of 75-at-once was a Linear Challenge of 4 Transporters Tasks in a row, to beam all survivors safely aboard.

Having Marvin pursue a research Task to surface this possibility into the story, made it so this high-capacity transport capability felt earned.

The LCARS display flew by as the EEH began crunching numbers at speed.

Thurston has 6 emergency transporters, 6 to a pad, then there’s the cargo transporters…increase the buffer resolution…reroute those…we’re going to have to tune the EPS way up…hm. My educated guess would be that, putting our transporter resources fully to task, we could grab 75 humanoid-sized beings at once. But coordinating that many transports without losing cohesion is going to be difficult. And that’s all assuming that we can get within range…”

He tapped his knuckle to his lip in thought. “We need more data. I’m going to push the long-range sensors ahead. The more we know about the region of space we’re heading into, the better off we’ll be.” Dialed in to the task, his words trailed off into a state of concentration.

Ekoss

“Commander do we have any runabouts or transporter equipped shuttles that might add in and increase that number?”

Marvin

In response to Marvin’s Sensor Sweep Task to scan the site of the wreck, I provided an early glimpse at the Zone map to be used in the next Scene. I made it clear that some factors on the ground might be difference, once the Thurston arrived.

An amber warning light lit up on the Sensors console. “Damn!” The EEH quickly input a set of randomized signals, and stared. The light remained on for a another few seconds, then faded. He breathed out in relief. “Well.”

He turned to the rest of the bridge crew. “Good news, bad news. Good: we have a map.” He sent the current sensor readings of the area surrounding the distress signal to everyone’s workstations:

Marvin

“The Kobayashi Maru is here in the Center, about 300,000 km within the DMZ. This plasma cloud surrounding it is most likely leaking from its own engines. It’ll provide some cover, but warp plasma isn’t the most stable hiding spot.”

“The nearby system has an active Red Giant star, Class II flare activity there. A small Asteroid Belt…and here, Gas Giant and some small moons. A little cover there, but the gravity well of the planet will make Mr. ch’Vaallen’s job a bit harder.” He paused as everyone took in the tactical display.

“And now, the bad news. Someone sent a feedback pulse along our scanning vector. I was able to scramble it in time, it should appear as a common pulsar burst. However…we may want to accelerate our plans…”

::Marvin rolled a Complication on his Sensor Sweep, which I created as Not-So-Passive Scan, raising concern that the adversary may have noticed the activity.::

❤️

Marvin

“There are a number of active warp signatures in the area, and a few smaller signals. Too far out to get a precise tally, but someone’s still out there.”

Jatha

“Damn. Well, we need to move forward regardless. I think we need to talk to the Maru sooner or later, let me think if we can set up an encrypted line to them keeping under their sensor threshold somehow. If we can coordinate efforts, we’ll be in a good position to speed up once we get there.”

Jatha

“Lieutenant, do you see any advantageous vector of approach near the Maru?” he said, aimed towards the helm station. “Anything that would buy us some time?”

GM

When rolling for an Ally NPC, I try to either let the players roll, or ask how much Momentum they’d like to spend (and their intentions for other relevant options), to ensure that they are buying-in to the risks.

Short rapid breaths, boots slamming the carpet. zh’Vhynnal slows her run at the threshold of Holodeck 2, grabs onto the door panel.

A shot from inside the Holodeck shows the doors sliding open, her face determined as she strides in, surveying the room. The camera pans around her in a circle as she stares, wide-eyed at the yellow grid lines, seeing in them a picture of her own existence. The one she chose. But maybe now, not quite the same…no time to think. She turns to the arch panel, barks orders while typing furiously. Over her shoulder, the yellow lines vanish, replaced by an alien architecture. As she speaks, her close-up shows the lights of strange starships at play upon her face, as she adds layers of detail to the room at her side.

GM

After a brief inspection, zh’Vhynnal begins striding towards the door of the Jem’Hadar bridge. Passing through the threshold, she swiftly steps around the chairs on the bridge of the Romulan D’Deridex, through another door to a Maquis raider. She passes from bridge to bridge until she reaches the arch, opens it, takes one look back, and then breaks into a run down the corridor.

Ekoss

Having seen the Zone map, Ekoss wanted to situate the Thurston in an advantageous position, and avoid Hazards. He performed a Task modeled on Chart Hazard, but because the Thurston was well away from the area, I offered that this success would let him place the Thurston wherever he wanted, and I would not interfere.

As they approached Lt. Ch’Vaallen, on helm, plotted a course charting the hazards of the system, and bringing them in past the ringed planet to get a little more time, while still making it harder for the enemy to to attack them on the way to the Kobayashi Maru,

Ekoss

Ekoss spent Momentum to Obtain Information on the basis of his Chart Hazard Task, reasoning that the ship is using its Sensors to do so and could analyze other objects in the area, much as a Sensor Sweep could.

Ekoss reported “In plotting my course, the scans used to plot the course showed me that the plasma around the Kobayashi Maru was Volatile. ready to explode if ignited with weapons fire. I also learned that at least a small contingent of 2-3 small enemy vessels would get there before the Thurston.”

“Likely either Cardassian Corvettes or Jem’hadar Attack Ships.”

Jatha

“Damn, let’s hope our ruse pays off, at least making them hesitate about opening fire…” Jatha frowned, looking both stressed and worried. He spoke out loud; soft but still high enough that his fellow cadets could hear him, if they payed attention.

“Could we scoop up the plasma with our Bussard collectors and feed it into our own EPS grid? Perhaps, but not enough time.. better to grab them with tractor and push on…”

👍 (2)

GM

I indicated that Gorca’s request of Eric would be a Difficulty 5 Task:

Base Difficulty: 4 (involving “classified information”, per the GM screen’s guide)
+1 because he was once again a Haunted Cadet

“Ok…” mutters Solomon, Gorca’s words echoing in his mind. “…so…we make it look like…Obsidian…so we…don’t start a war…cause if we start a war, then…we…” He clutches briefly at the Starfleet insignia on his chest.

Jatha

Jatha rolled a Create Advantage Task using his Presence + Command, spending 2 of his valuable intervals in the Timed Challenge to remove the Haunted Cadet Complication. I would not introduce it again.

“Eric, do you have a moment? No rush, but I’d really like to talk to you.” By using first name, Edala indicated he wasn’t talking to a subordinate or a colleague, but to a friend. He gave Solomon the time he needed to finish his train of thought, trying to impose an air of no rush by sitting next to him and working on the neighbouring station. It seemed to work.

When he was sure he held Eric’s attention, he spoke.

“I… I pushed you away these last weeks. I thought I did it for you, but I’ve come to realise it was for my own… egoistic reasons. I thought I ‘needed space to grow,’ that same old story. But being here now reminds me that growing as a team comes from being a team.” He inhaled deeply. “I messed up. I’m sorry. You were there when I got those unexplained visits and supported me to explore them, without ever judging me. Or hindering me. I’ll never forget that, and the skills you showed then… you’ve got this. And if you don’t, I’m - no we’re here with you.”

Edala looked around the room, to every person working their skills to their best abilities. “If you stumble, it’s because you’re supposed to. We’ll still be here when you get back on your feet again.”

♥️ (2) 👍

Ekoss

Ekoss looked to the Captain “Sir, I’m putting us between the enemy and the Kobayashi Maru, but just outside the plasma field. Unless you tell me you’d rather put the plasma field between us and the enemy and hope we can pull the Kobayashi Maru out of that field before they ignite the field and blow the transport.“

GM

In the published adventure, Eric is meant to cheat on the examination, making it possible to win (dropping the shields of the adversaries, etc.). The players then need to deal with the quandary of cheating, address the social dynamics, and make the choice whether to face the no-win situation unaided.

I was more convinced than ever that, based on the players’ actions, Solomon would not choose to carry out his prior plan, unless forced to. I wanted to acknowledge this shift, but keep the mystery alive for the players.

From the tricobalt warheads, to the grand deception, to Marvin’s self-sacrifice, the players had introduced so many interesting twists, that Eric’s plan to cheat wasn’t necessary. At this stage, I figured if nothing else, he’d reveal at the end that he could have cheated all along, but chose not to. It might be a nice coda, and a testament to what the player characters had achieved.

As it happened, he would ultimately have reason to cheat, knowingly facing his own no-win scenario, to save a life.

Eric stares into Jatha’s eyes. His face is frozen, and yet something is melting away. The cloud behind his eyes is clearing. He looks around the bridge, meets the eyes of Ekoss and Marvin, sees Sompek stride in. He opens his mouth to speak, then shuts it, and looks down, inward.

His hand moves absently to his comm badge, fingering it again. Then suddenly, he snaps it off his uniform.

He sets the badge carefully at the edge of his console. Seeing Jatha’s look, he lets out a small laugh.

“Don’t worry, Edala. I just need that thing…away from me for a little bit. Thank you. I’m gonna get this done.”

👍

GM

Eric sets about the work, a new man.

“Oh! Lt. Sompek, hi - could I…run something by you?”

Several paragraphs of text are displayed on his console.

“So…like the XO said, we have to plant this like it’s an Obsidian Order message. I think I have the protocol right. But if you could look these words over, see if they sound right to you - I’m gonna translate this all into Cardassian but I want to make sure it’s good, first. This guy, the uh…Painter, he’s covert ops. The hardest of the hard core, I’d think. Is this how he’d address other operatives?”

Sompek

Sompek spent 2 of his intervals providing an Assist to Solomon, on crafting the Forged Signal on an Obsidian Order frequency.

“I know something about Cardassians and something about intelligence officers.” What he’d learned about the Obsidian Order had come from a Qa’Hom of a former Obsidian Order Gul that had literally squirmed on the table as a nameless agent from Imperial Intelligence had pried secrets from him. Those secrets would make no difference now, but it was the way their mind worked. The way their ego ruled them. And anyway he didn’t want to shock the man with bloody details. So he moved past that.

“They always protect themselves, never quite committing to anything, but saying enough to get the reaction they think they need. They need action, but they also need a degree of deniability if things go wrong. It’s a difficult balance, especially considering the arrogance of the Cardassians. It puts even Romulans and Vulcans to shame. And if this one is anything like the rest, he’ll have friends in high places, and not be afraid to drop names. Use those connections like weapons. Mention Enabran Tain. Make it sound good enough to make any listeners hungry.” Sompek searched his mind for anything else he could add. “Don’t worry over details. Your attitude is what will convince them.”

💯

Jatha

Jatha’s smile again turned into a scowl looking at the options on the map: neither was a preferred one under the existing circumstances. “Let’s do it your way ch’Valleen. If Gorca’s plan fails, they will be targeting us as their nearest combat-worthy opponent.”

Jatha moved closer so he could talk to Ekoss without the whole bridge listening in. “Dominion fighters would probably not consider the Maru worthy of their attention as long as we’re combat worthy. Cardassians… they’d might target them as use them as leverage, even fire if it gave them an edge. If we need to, can we maneuver to shield the Maru from incoming fire? I’d rather take a hit than they do, or it could be game over. In more ways than one.” During the last sentence, he shot a quick look towards the science station.

Ekoss

Ekoss replied “Aye sir, maneuvering to shield the Maru is more or less what I had in mind. I wish we could use the cover from the plasma, but if it ignites we could take a lot of damage ourselves, without being able to stop damage to the transport.” The last part brought a grim look to the Andorian’s face.

Ekoss

“In fact if we’re in the plasma and the enemy shoots us it could set off the plasma and heavily damage the transport.”

Jatha

“I figured the same. But keep ready to get into tractor beam range, if needed.”

GM

At the Communications station, Solomon and Sompek have finished the text of the message. He reads it again, smiling at the revisions and additions from the Klingon Lieutenant.

“Allright, this is ready to…wait…” he catches himself, “I need to translate this into Cardassian!” He shakes his head.

He spaces out the sentences. He begins composing a new message from the lines of the original: concentrating, doing it all by hand, not relying on a computer-provided translator. As he completes the text, he mouthes the words, a whisper of what sounds like authentic Cardassian inflection escaping his lips, and then gives a final nod.

He taps his uniform, then remembers the absent comm badge. He carefully reaches over to grab it, a bit tentative - then places the badge on his breast, and taps it.

“Solomon to Doctor Gorca. I’ve got the message. Would you like it sent now?”

Jatha

As Jatha approached the turbolift he turned to Sompek. “I’ll go see what Konig wants, while we still have some time. You have the bridge.” He then paused just outside the doors in case Sompek wanted to address him before he left.

Sompek

Sompek experienced a brief moment of nIb’poH. What humans called deja vu. It took a moment for him to realize what it was, and at the realization, felt a rush of heat that ran from his head and down to his gut. “I don’t know how many details you know of my service in the Elite Command Academy, but I have been faced with my own, personal Kobayashi Maru. And it taught me two things. There is no ‘no-win scenario’, so long as we uphold our ideals and refuse to quit. But it also taught me that there is no substitute for having the captain on the bridge when that moment comes. Remember, Heghlu’DI’ mobbe’lu’chughQaQqu’ HeghwanI’.” Sompek grinned inwardly at the momentarily glazed expression on the captain’s face, but the expression was well known, even outside of the Empire, thanks in a large part to Wo’rIv and his historic service on the Enterprise as the first Klingon to serve in Starfleet. And if Captain Jatha didn’t know it, he’d be able to find a translation easily enough. “I would prefer that you’re back quickly so that we can share the experience together. Qapchu!

👍

Sompek

“Personal Log, Cadet Sompek. It is no secret in the Empire that my father studied and served briefly under Chang, and while there is a growing movement to restore honor to Chang’s line- I can see their point, in that Chang was a tragic hero who sacrificed his honor in what he saw as a desperate defense of our culture- those who served under them will always have a shadow over them, and rightly so. That shadow extends to me. But I know, through personal correspondence with Chang’s granddaughter, that Chang believed in the teachings of Kahless. The “Heart of Virtue”, or tiQ ghob that was not only an ancient weapon favored by Kahless as well as the symbol of his house, but also that the three blades represented those virtues that are the very foundation of every true warrior: Honor, Loyalty, and Duty, each in perfect balance.

Is Chang in StoVoKor, watching over my father and me? Perhaps he languishes among the dishonored in Gre’thor. I don’t know, but I can’t believe that a decision by the council is capable of affecting that retroactively. I only met him once, and I was too young to remember anything he said, but I’ll never forget how he treated my father and I as family. And while Chang might sneer at my presence in Starfleet Academy, he would, hopefully see that my heart is pure, and my actions forthright.”

Sompek glanced quickly at the faces of his crew mates on the bridge, and imagined that they were suddenly finding something else to look at. Certainly the people watching over them all would take note of his words and perhaps subconsciously look at him differently. All talk of honor and legacies aside, Chang had conspired with the enemy to assassinate his friend and Chancellor. No decision by politicians on the Council could change that fact. So he glanced upward to whoever might be watching him, be it ancestors or Starfleet Command officers, and grunted. “Computer, delete log entry.”

👍 (2)

Brel

As engineers milled about, Lt. Cmdr. Brel was eyeing the warp core’s rapid hum closely. The Intrepid-class had a max crusing speed of Warp 9.975, and they were riding the edge of that redline all the way to the DMZ. The M/AM intermix needed heavy monitoring at this level, or else…

“sh’Thenehr, please lock off secondary plasma junction 3,” Brel called back without taking his eye off the core.

“Number 3? It doesn’t look like…” A sudden shrill alarm sounded and a minor spurt of steam erupted from a nearby panel. The crewman’s antennae shifted from a low position of questioning to one of surprise. “Right! Locking off!” A few torques of a hyperspanner and the alarm quieted. Brel continued to watch the staccato beat of the core as Gorca and zh’Vhynnal entered the doors of Main Engineering.

👍

Jatha

The turbolift doors swooshed close. On the short ride to deck 7, Jatha translated the Klingon proverb. Jatha didn’t agree with the Klingon’s quick agreement to die all the time, but the fact that his 2nd officer took the time to relay a feeling of comradeship gave him a slight comfort. Walking into the brig, he felt balanced.

“Mr Konig, you asked to see me.”

👍 🤘🏻

GM

Konig sits behind the force field, staring at the floor. When Jatha enters, he lifts his face to yours and immediately stands.

“Captain I…” he says, his eyes glaring at first, but then he falters. Downcast, he continues, “I know that I have no standing here. No right to speak.” He swallows.

“But that…” his eyes return to yours, with a new fire. “…that means, I have nothing to lose, in pleading with you. We have been at warp for…15? 20 minutes? Where can we be going?! We were to dismantle the minefield…that was the agreement. Some civilian vessel may run afoul of it, Captain - I beg you, please give me the chance to undo what I’ve done before it harms someone.”

Jatha

“You must have heard, or felt that we’re at high warp. Don’t insult me by thinking I left the mine field for anything less important.”

“But I suppose you deserve to know your fate as well as us others. We’re about to enter the DMZ to rescue the Kobyashi Maru. She’s carrying 300 evacuees and have suffered engine failure. We expect Cardassian or Dominion resistance, and may not survive. Do you have any information that could further our rescue efforts, speak up now.”

He’d let all his presence hit Konig without holding back and held his gaze steady.

👍 (2)

GM

“Right…” he stammers. “Right…of course, a rescue…takes precedence.” He nods, relieved, then a shadow crosses his face. “But you said…Cardassian…resistance? Captain we’re heading…into the DMZ? Why would the vessel be in the DMZ under present circumsta…and surely you can’t help them, in this vessel? That would…that would lead to war.”

Jatha

“We’re hoping to avoid that by using… unconventional tactics. But we won’t just leave 300 souls to the mercy of Cardassia. Not with them being branded Maquis, regardless if they carried weapons or not. Either way, we will pass into the DMZ shortly, so if you have anything to say - do so now. But remember what my personal focus is, at this moment.”

GM

Konig nods slowly, his face ashen.

“Well then…” he says, “I leave you to it. Captain…” he swallows. “I am a wanted terrorist in the Cardassian Union. I have killed Cardassian…civilians. I’ve documented our involvement - Ky’s and mine - on my PADD. There’s a file…it’s mis-named, I had to keep it from Ky. I meant to stand trial in a Federation court. But…I thought you should know. I will…do whatever you ask of me.”

Gorca

Gorca walks up behind and alongside Brel. “Looks like you have your hands full here.”

Brel

Brel continued to look for a moment longer then turned around. “Nominally. The intermix ratio should remain stable for the time being.” He gave sh’Thenehr a keen eye, and then turned fully to Gorca. “Commander, Ensign, how can I assist you?”

Gorca

“How fluent are you at… Sensor deception?”

Brel

Brel tilted his head a few degrees. “‘Deception’? It is not within my usual expertise. I can maintain the sensor arrays on the Thurston upwards of 97% resolution efficiency. Performing the inverse…it’s possible.” Brel looked to zh’Vhynnal. “With help, perhaps.”

Brel

Brel’s Task to Create the Advantage of Sensor Ghost Probes receives an Assist from zh’Vhynnal, consuming two of her intervals.

Brel and zh’Vhynnal entered an unlit room, silent except for a quiet, high-pitched hum all around them. The door closed, leaving them in darkness. Holding up a palm flashlight set to a dim red, the two navigated to a set of sensor probes at the back of the room. With a click, the probe’s panel released and their faces were bathed in low, iridescent light. Optical cables constructed a dizzying web, leaping from chip to chip, streams of data being winnowed from the many sensor panels. The ex-Bolian stared along with the Andorian on his left, both reflecting a bright blue.

“It’s beautiful.” Brel noted in a monotone. “I confess it: causing a machine to malfunction, even intentionally and for good reason…it gives me pause. Does that make sense?” He began the laborious process of rerouting the eyes of the probe, turning their signal outward.

“It does. To any engineer worth their salt.” She gave him a sharing smile and began directing his efforts, consulting a nearby schematic. A few quiet beats passed. “Malfunctions are funny things. I remember…I had this roommate, brought this PADD from her homeworld. After uploading the academy OS onto it, the screen was just a mess, half-LCARS, half-something else, near-illegible. She tried fixing it, but she could never resolve the two techs, so she just lived with it. After a while, she couldn’t live without it. No matter how late it would make her, we would tear up our room looking for that stupid thing. It wasn’t a malfunction to her…I remember that.” Another long beat. “…does that make sense?”

Brel was looking at her then. “Yes. I think I understand. Thank you.” He smiled back. “We should expedite matters. Optical splitter?”

GM

Brel’s Task failed, and his player suggested that it Succeed at Cost, resulting in an Injury - I agreed. Addressing this would consume some of Brel’s intervals as well as zh’Vhynnal and Gorca’s.

The probe modifications complete, zh’Vhynnal holds the optical splitter while Brel begins to secure the assembly back in place. Working carefully and meticulously, your dispassionate approach seems at first reassuring. A second thought, a sudden concern drives you to reopen a panel, double-checking a connection and sparking a series of rapid events which unfold in painful slow motion. Your movements briefly too quick, a stray piece of embedded hardware barely catches the side of a panel, carrying your hand in an unplanned direction and prompting a shift in footing to compensate. Having overcompensated in the darkness, you must throw your other hand forward blindly to catch yourself. You have an instant to contemplate with full comprehension that your bare flesh will come into contact with a live coupling, and then it happens.

It is not pain, per se, but pressure - an intense squeezing around your hand which seems to briefly glow red in the darkness, and then your vision begins to swim. You hear zh’Vhynnal yell “Brel!” once, before a low rush of white noise seems to fill your ears, your vision getting blurrier and dimmer until it goes completely black. Swooning, the sound of your own breathing the loudest thing you can hear against the white noise, you begin to fall, but are caught from behind by zh’Vhynnal. You cannot see, hear, or move your left hand as she begins to drag you, her arms around your chest, from the chamber.

“Doctor!” she yells as she supports you towards Main Engineering.

Brel

“N…no, nnnn…no time. Must…” Brel feel to one knee, and then rolled onto his back. He could barely stand, and his hands and speech trembled spasmodically. Part of his mind appreciated the subtle force-field work involved in simulating this injury, while another part willed himself to stand up, not to become a dead weight on the crew. His eyes settled on the door back into Engineering, the sim feeding his vision only blackness.

👍

GM

Ensign zh’Vhynnal attempts a First Aid Task, to stabilize Brel, but this fails.

Tima drags Brel back into Main Engineering, the nearby staff rushing-in to help her lift him. After lying him to rest on a flat console, she moves in to ensure his airways were unobstructed.

“He’s…I can’t tell if he’s breathing!” She feels for a pulse.

From inside his underwater haze, it was settling-in for Brel that he - as a real being - would be just fine. Your limbs are feeling like they’re moving through molasses. Your eyesight still obscured, you can vaguely hear shouts and are aware of shifting sounds around you.

“I can’t get a pulse. Oh God…” says zh’Vhynnal, casting a desperate glance at Gorca. She takes a step back, staring at Brel’s body on the table, the recollection of her lost friend flooding back. Then taking in the Doctor’s presence and the Engineering staff surrounding him, she takes heart: at least he’s not alone.

👌

GM

zh’Vhynnal taps her commbadge, as others engage to care for Brel. “zh’Vhynnal to senior officers. Probes are ready. Brel is…there was an accident. We’re stabilizing him. zh’Vhynnal out.”

Ekoss

Ekoss grimaced briefly before turning back to his console. The Borg Engineer was starting to grow on Ekoss and the Andorian hoped Brel was going to be okay. Checking his panel he saw that the Borg Engineer had gotten the probes ready. Ekoss decided that if it was Brel’s last action, he wouldn’t waste the Engineer’s sacrifice. He cautiously plotted just the right course for the probes to create sensor ghosts of incoming reinforcements, and to be in place to transmit misleading signals. As he fired them on their way, he hoped that he’d be able to get some sensor data off the probes as well.

Ekoss

Ekoss tapped in a request on his panel and pulled up the data from the probes sensors. He grimaced as it came through. He addressed Jatha over his shoulder, not yelling but loud enough that the rest of the bridge heard.

“The probes are telling me that two Dominion attack ships and a Cardassian Galor cruiser will just beat us to the Kobayashi Maru. Then they’ve got a Jem’hadar Battlecruiser and two more Jem’hadar attack ships coming along behind to back them up.“

🚢

Gorca

Gorca patches Brel up best he can and waits for him to mentally recover before asking him, “Do you need to go to sickbay, or are you good to go?”

Brel

In the natural course of a lethal Injury, the injured character must receive First Aid or die at the end of the Scene - in Brel’s case, being ejected from the simulation. But in order to perform further Tasks, they must heal or be treated through the Recover Task, which is more Difficult.

With a start, Brel breathed in a large gasp. His body went from a deathly stillness to sudden, sluggish motions. Blinking a few times, he twisted and attempted to shift his weight to his arms to get up from the floor. After a moment, his elbows began to tremble and then buckled completely.

“Thank you, Doctor.” Brel still seemed to shake and his head drooped down, but his normal monotone had returned. “I can breathe easier now, but…I seem to be having difficulty steadying myself. I require further maintenance. I am sorry.”

🤘🏻

Gorca

Gorca helps Brel to his feet. “Zh’Vhynnal, help me get him him to sickbay, then return to your bridge duties.” (If she has nothing further to do)

Brel

“Wait.” Brel held up a hand, and weakly waved over one of the watching crewman. “Morgan can assist. We need someone to remain in Engineering. Someone with…command abilities.” He gave Gorca a meaningful look. “In our absence, Engineering will maintain itself, but only just. We require more.”

He nodded toward zh’Vhynnal. “I do not recall seeing you at the briefing earlier, but I believe you have the ability of which I speak, to complete the Tasks of making sure Engineering is operating above rated norms in the coming conflict. Commander, I would like zh’Vhynnal to oversee Main Engineering in my absence.”

Jatha

In the brig, Jatha retrieved the pad from the prisoners storage. He opened the hidden file through Konig’s instructions, and started skimming through the logs. The former officer did not lie. Crime after crime were described in detail. In some cases too many details. To think this had happened to civilians of any race made him queasy. He closed the file and returned the pad in silence.

“When you present this to the court… they’ll make an example out of you. I don’t know what to think - you still show some sense of integrity willingly doing this, but you did commit those crimes.”

He had to take a moment, he could feel anger welling up inside, the bad kind of anger. They shared a moment, only the steady humming of the force field separating them breaking the silence.

“I won’t cast judgement, and I don’t intend to absolve you. I’ll use you like a tool if and when I see fit, and I’ll do so without remorse. So, Mr Konig - what skills do you have that wouldn’t show in your Starfleet record?”

👍 (3) 🤘🏻

GM

His eyes, glued to yours during your speech, lower to the floor.

“Sabotage. Thrusters. Impulse. Explosives,” Konig says with an inward look, the field in front of him sizzling. ”I can squeeze extra from…just about any engine. I made my decision to turn back, Captain. You can use me how you will. My skills, my records,” he says, glancing at the PADD, “my…custody. The Cardassians’ve targeted Ky’s cadre for years. I accept my fate, Captain.” Here his eyes search yours. “Whatever happens, I hope you’ll take note of that. For my record.”

Gorca

“Fine,” Gorca says and carries Brel to sickbay alone.

After fixing Brel, Gorca goes over to Singh. “Busy, Lieutenant?”

GM

Gorca, as you entered the sickbay with Brel, you may have been momentarily taken aback to find a Cardassian official standing above a patient seated on the edge of one of the beds.

After an instant, the significance of this settles-in, and you’re able to see the young medic from your earlier visit, underneath the remarkably convincing disguise.

“So uh…” begins the Cardassian to his patient, “…we recommend you stay confined to quarters for the next few hours, just stay rested and minimize physical activity,” he glances at you, Gorca, giving a subordinate nod. “But…your vitals are looking great, you’re all set to be discharged, and…we may need the space here once we take in the survivors. Thanks!” He looks at you, as the patient rises.

Dr. Singh approaches from the desk at your request.

“I’m ready, Doctor. As you can see, I’ve been working on the techniques you’ve been requesting, with nurse Barriere here as a model,” she gestures to the Cardassian.

“Unfortunately, with the time remaining, surgery is out of the question. However, I’ve been able to repurpose the base substrate material into a kind of prosthesis. We’ll apply this material with medical nanoadhesive, creating a superstructure. Then, computer-assisted pigmentation and detailing - plus replicated clothing - achieves the rest of the effect, which as you can see is quite convincing. Doctor, I must warn you. It will not be 100% perfect. We will need to use skillful shading to achieve some of the negative space involved in Cardassian anatomy. If it comes to an in-person contact, it may not hold up for long. But I think for remote communication, it will be quite compelling. I can have you ready in 10 minutes.”

👍

Brel

Some time later, a healthy Brel strode back into Main Engineering where zh’Vhynnal was just starting to organize the efforts. “Ensign, you are relieved.”

“Sir? You’re back. Wow, that was fast. How are you feeling?”

Brel accepted the PADD from zh’Vhynnal hands and quickly took it in. “The doctor’s efficiency rivals the Borg.” He looked up and gave the ensign a quick smile. “I am fine, thank you. You had better continue on your duties. We are nearing the border of Federation space.”

Jatha

Jatha spent another 2 intervals performing a Create Advantage Task, to eliminate the Collective Uncertainty among the crew. Building upon its success, he elected to spend 2 Momentum for another Create Advantage, to inspire Boldness Beyond Reason among the Thurston crew. We reasoned that subsequent Tasks which drew upon Daring would be affected, until the Advantage was removed.

Leaving the brig Jatha again felt less sure of himself than before. Another Maquis that managed to get under his skin, but this time he’d hid it well. He’d left with a promise that the events so far would be truthfully noted. He wasn’t sure they would see each other again, but that much he could do for the former officer. Konigs documentation and all mission logs would be part of their last data burst to Starfleet Command just before passing the red dotted line.

He jolted visibly when the turbolift stopped at main engineering. The crew readily announced “Captain on the deck” which he immediately dismissed. Strangely he didn’t see Gorca or Brel, but he wasn’t there to check up on them - just taking a tour of the ship before going into unsafe territory. He’d sensed diversion in the crew since he let Ky go, and he wanted to make sure they’d put that to the side in the danger they’d face. To show them he was indeed in command, present and accounted for would work towards that. He made a few quick stops at other decks but there was still plenty of time left when he stepped back onto the bridge.

👍 (2)

Jatha

The camera moves with Jatha as he’s quickly walking to the command chair.

Throughout the ship conversations stopped as speakers gave a short, intense sound calling for attention. As Jatha speaks, we are treated to different views - corridors, workstations, engineering crew in Jefferies tubes. Every person unique; from all over the federation, every department, position and rank represented.

“This is the Captain. We’re less than 20 minutes from entering the DMZ on a rescue mission, with probable hostile ships in the area. What we do will matter, but even more how we do it. I don’t have a grand speech full of fancy words; we’re warping into dangerous territory and by doing so we’ll also break direct orders from headquarters. But they’re not out here. The crew and the 300 refugees aboard the Kobayashi Maru is, and we’re all they’ve got.”

“Anyone that wish to place a formal complaint may do so now. It will be noted in my log… but I will ask everyone to remain at their posts even so. For them.”

A close up shot of the captains console, a finger pushing the brightly coloured button and a sharp beep as the call is ended. The angle switches to Solomon, reading the communications console by his station. In his face we see colours play from the screen as reports come in.

“Captain,” Eric starts “all decks reporting in….” He turns his chair and meet Jatha’s look. “The crew is standing by for your orders, all of them. I’d say we’re as ready we can be.”

“Thanks Eric. Let’s get a final report from Gorca and zh’Vhynnal and then we’ll let the KM know help is on the way.”

🤛

Sompek

Sompek, who had been in quiet consultation with his namesake in whichever afterlife he resided, stopped to listen to Captain Jatha and turned slightly to regard him. Sompek was reminded that while he had started this mission with a degree of impatience to fight whichever enemy they faced, and a certain bloodthirsty desire to see the tricobolt torpedoes rip through enemy hulls, Captain Jatha had shown that patience and wisdom that was the mark of a Starship Captain. He had been right. He was the right man for that center seat, and when this crew had done the impossible and beat the “No Win Scenario”, it would be because the right crew had been led by the right man. It was an honor to be there.

❤️ (3) 👍

Marvin

EEH tried to concentrate on his readings, but the panel lights seemed to blur together. He thought of zh’Vhynnal, just as vulnerable to harm but safe now, she should be safe…but what of himself? The sharp, mortal clarity he felt before now felt like a blinding spotlight. Danger seemed all around him, waiting to strike.

Focus. He needed to focus. He thought of the problems ahead. Cardassians and Dominion ships. Not much to scan from this distance, but he could prepare. He called up the current records for Dominion ship weaknesses. The list was depressingly short. Still, he pored over each entry.

Marvin

Marvin spent 2 intervals to perform a Task researching the Federation’s best intelligence about Dominion warships, a Create Advantage Task aimed at gaining Dominion Tech Insight.

“Possible shield inflection point near aft nacelle, reported by USS Grissom, lost 52378.6”
“Primary support braces constructed of viterium, theoretical weakness to delta radiation, reported by USS Valiant, lost 51825.4”
USS Gander, lost 52576.2” USS Courage, lost USS Bell, USS Princeton, USS Budapest, lost, lost, lost…

“Lt. Sompek!” he cried out, shriller than he’d intended. He shifted over to the Klingon’s panel and cleared his throat, “Lieutenant. I’m attempting to gain some tactical insights into those Dominion attack ships we’re approaching. I could use some…fresh eyes. Here’s a list of potential weaknesses, does anything jump out at you?” The EEH watched and listened to Sompek’s words, but in the back of his mind, he kept seeing the ship causality list, with two entries added at the bottom: USS Thurston, _SS _Kobayashi Maru__, lost, lost, lost…

👍 😨 💯

Sompek

Sompek provided an Assist on Marvin’s research Task.

Sompek knew of the unending list of ships that had fallen to the Dominion, both Federation and Klingon. Even the smaller ships were impressive in battle. They all know about the Odyssey. “Ignore the alleged weakness that the Valiant died for. Books and computer entries can only take you so far, as that ship full of cadets proved.” (The irony of that statement was not lost on him, and his taste for gallows humor made him smile grimly).

“If there is a chance that the nacelle shield inflection point is truly a weakness, I would target it. Hard. Nacelle struts, even when they’re fortified as in this case, are always a potential structural weak point that we should consider targeting. We are smaller, but more maneuverable. We also have bioneural gel paks which will give us faster reaction times.” He paused, because his next idea would be seen as controversial. But as Voxsul and Chang had both said, every crew member had to be seen as a potential weapon. So before discretion and caution could get the better of him, he continued. “I’d like to suggest that we quickly evaluate and consider asking our xB colleague to use his nanites to accelerate the efficiency of our bioneural gelpaks. I don’t see that being a risk. He isn’t part of the Collective, and combined with our greater maneuverability, it may give us the edge we need.” Brel was already a hero. They’d be asking him to do it again, and at great sacrifice. Sompek knew that it was a lot to ask, and he didn’t like asking it. But if it meant victory, he’d gladly accept the shadow over his honor. As Chang had. “We wouldn’t be the first to try to get between the enemy’s shields in defense of the Kobayashi Maru. But we might just be able to make it work.”

👍

Marvin

Sompek’s plan shook the EEH out of his panic spiral. His head reared back slightly, and he eyed the cadet with a hard focus. Recovering some of his professorial air, he gave Sompek a skeptical glance. “There’s tactics, and then there’s madness. Borg nanites are extremely uncontrollable in the best of scenarios, and you’re suggesting we infect the Thurston’s computers with them? Well. Assimilation of the entire crew and ship is definitely one way to approach the mission, excuse me.” With that, the EEH strode back to his panel, sparing only a quick, doubting glance back at Sompek before staring at the rushing starfield ahead.

💯

Marvin

In performing his research Task, Marvin rolled a Complication, which I recorded as Mistaken Initial Reports. This would make Scan for Weakness Tasks more Difficult, though the successful Dominion Tech Insight would benefit other relevant Tasks.

As you return to the Sensor Operations console, Marvin, your eyes fall upon the data file most recently loaded, before the talk got heated: a dossier on Jem’Hadar warship technology. It’s outdated, especially now, in ‘74 with the war very real, outside the holodeck. But it’s easy to glance over that. Easy to forget the rollback of more recent data that Starfleet’s performed here in the simulation, to capture this moment in history just before the outbreak in as much accuracy as possible. Easy to overlook the breathless tone and wild speculation of the initial reports, compiled from an audience of shocked officers, in some cases black-boxes of destroyed Federation vessels. It looks like data. It looks relevant. And unfortunately, the fact that it’s wrong won’t hit you until you’re in the thick of things.

💯 (2)

GM

I introduced a Complication: Signals Jamming. This would raise the Difficulty of Solomon’s Task to send a message to the Kobayashi Maru, and any other attempt to communicate with them afterwards.

If I had introduced an NPC starship onto the table, they could have performed a Signals Jamming Task. I had not done so, and did not want to spend Threat to bring them in just for this (at the outset of the next Scene I could introduce them for free), so I simply spent 2 Threat to create the Complication.

Solomon talks over his shoulder to Jatha, his fingers busy on the console. “Captain I’m getting ready to uh…wait. Hang on…it seems like…I’m picking up noise, like there’s signals jamming local to the Kobayashi Maru’s system. It may be a little harder to reach them.”

He looks up at you. “I could punch through, though…I think?”

👍

Jatha

”Hm! Get ready to do it. Divert power from secondary systems if you need to, but I think we’d have to keep it short…. I’ll record a message for them in case we can’t hold the line open for long. A compressed data stream should take less bandwidth than an open call… so if we rotate frequencies through the spectrum, one of them should be clear enough if we keep it to 2 or 3 seconds… or am I missing something?”

👍 (2)

Jatha

“Like hitting the ‘resend’ button over and over again and hope they just see it as a burst from a satellite, not a starship speeding towards them at high speed.”

👍

GM

The bridge was rocked by a jolt, the officers cast about from the unexpected blow. Captain Lin grabbed onto a bulkhead. An officer’s PADD clattered to the bare floor. An insistent alarm intruded into the aftermath.

“What the hell was that?” demanded Lin.

“Checking sir!”

His footing regained, he strode to the internal systems panel. “Are we being fired upon?”

“Negative sir, the Cardassians haven’t arrived yet.”

“So what was -“ he started, when the officer burst out:

“Secondary explosion, sir! A buildup from the plasma conduits damaged by the mine. We’ve got a hull breach spread across the port side of decks 4 and 5. Plasma still leaking.”

“Casualties!”

“Still tabulating, sir. I’m directing the deck officer to the temporary burn unit we’ve set up in cargo bay 4.”

“Once it’s cleared I want emergency bulkhead closures covering that whole area. We’ve got to hold together!”

Lin turned aside, bringing his hand-held communicator near his face.

“Lin to Main Engineering. I want you to move all the worker bees off the damaged nacelle and onto the new breach. Stabilize it.”

Right away, sir” came the simple reply.

GM

Solomon’s Task to send an encrypted message to the Kobayashi Maru, Assisted by Jatha, generated a lot of Momentum. I offered that their message could Create Advantage upon the Kobayashi Maru crew and passengers - some state of readiness, or task they could accomplish in the next 10 minutes.

Jatha gave the idea that the message would go on to instruct the Kobayashi Maru to replicate badge-like tags which could make it more easy to locate all aboard for transport. We added the AdvantageTagged for Transport, which would reduce the Difficulty of each transporter Task in the Linear Challenge by 1.

“Captain? We’ve received a communication from Starfleet,” said another voice.

“Onscreen.”

“It’s text and symbols only. Very compact. I’ll read it to you…” began the officer, as Lin interrupted him.

“Just put it onscreen.”

“Roger.”

Lin stared at the viewscreen, the simple message enlarged in red lettering against the backdrop of the stars, his eyes lingering over every piece of text.

“They’re coming.” he said simply, relief beginning to show on his face. Taking in the full message, he cast his gaze about the bridge, the officers faces, contemplating the nearly 300 evacuees under his care. He looked down, doing mental math, mapping in his mind the replicators aboard the ship against the placement of the passengers. He walked to the bridge replicator, tapped-out instructions. Within moments he held aloft in his hand a small brushed-metal trinket, his officers rapt. With his other hand, he drew his communicator again, and spoke, his eyes moving between those of the bridge officers.

“This is Captain Lin addressing all aboard the Kobayashi Maru. We’ve just received a message from Starfleet. They’ll be here soon. They’ll be here at great risk and time will be of the essence. We need to help them in every way we can. I am instructing crew to replicate transporter tags for every single sentient being aboard this ship. I want every person aboard to be wearing one of these in 10 minutes. Officers? Make a list. Work with each of your staff members and make a plan for your division. Crew? Carry out your officers’ instructions carefully and make sure no passenger is omitted. Passengers? Make yourself ready, and visible to the crew. There isn’t a minute to lose. We do this right, and everyone gets home. Lin out.”

GM

To create challenge and a possible moral dilemma, I thought to establish that a very small number of Kobayashi Maru crew were not Tagged for Transport.

This was just narration - I did not spend Threat to do this, because I would use the beginning of the next Scene to establish which NPCs were where.

The officers sprang into action, hope alive in the energy of their collective movements. It was the first positive moment in the increasingly grim hours since the encounter with the minefield. The Captain’s communicator came to life again.

“What about the worker bees, Captain?” said the Chief Engineer.

Lin’s face grew serious, as he thought for a moment. His eyes fell upon the damage report, his ship shown broken and bleeding, like a patient in sickbay. He sighed.

“They need to stay deployed. We can’t risk another explosion. Forget the warp drive. But we need to patch that breach. Bring them in as soon as it’s stabilized, or upon my orders.”

💯 (3)

GM

Glinn Trekant, a Notable NPC, is the commanding officer of the Galor-class Prokon and the officer responding at the scene of the wreck.

Role: Commanding Officer
Rank: Glinn
Traits: Cardassian, Hologram
Values:
- Pride is a Hindrance to Destiny

Aboard the Galor-class Prokon, Glinn Trekant bit his thumbnail, as he stared at writing on the viewscreen. The jagged glyphs spoke of multiple ship signatures on the other side of the border, their purpose unclear. After a beat, he caught himself, pulling the nail from his teeth - a terrible habit, one he’d need to extinguish, to demonstrate the presence required for higher command posts. By the time the operations officer turned to look at him, his hand had drifted casually forward, Kirk-like, into a posture of poise and calculation.

“We’re picking up a Federation signal, sir. A response to the distress call,” said the officer.

“What does it say?”

“They say…they are unable to assist at this time.”

Trekant shot the officer a knowing glance. “They said ‘no’.”

The officer nodded. “They said ‘no.’”

“They pushed through your signal jamming, just to say ‘no.’”

The officer gave a joyless smile in response, and they both cast their gaze back upon the viewscreen, tracking multiple ships apparently coming closer to the border.

“This one,” said Trekant. “Federation. She’d be here the soonest. By herself, at first. Remaining time to the wreck?” he said to the helm officer, raising his voice.

“3 minutes, sir.”

“Do we report the signal?”

Trekant frowned. “Of course.”

The officer, unsatisfied, walked slowly to the commanding officer’s chair. Crouching in a confiding posture, his hand held to Trekant’s ear, he softly whispered.

“And of the other signals, Captain? The Obsidian Order. The other ships. Do we tell the Admiral?”

Trekant smiled grimly, and spoke aloud. “Without question. But…this is the Dominion, after all…I am sure she already knows.”

😰 😨 👀 🤔

GM

Creating an Effective Disguise for Gorca was a very Difficult Task - but it provided a chance to use the Optimal Sickbay Configuration Advantage that he had established early-on. Along the lines of Direct, he took the primary role of the Task, assisted by Dr. Singh. He also spent 1 point of Determination for a Perfect Opportunity, drawing upon his Value Help Those Who Can Be Helped. Gorca was acting on behalf of the countless beings who would be affected by a Dominion/Federation war.

A critical success from the dice pool motivated my narration about compensating for a “too perfect” look.

Singh stares at you Gorca, testing the light off your skin from different angles. Replicated chrome application tools, strewn about the bed and worktable, gleam in the bright glare.

“The pigmentation hypospray establishes the undertone,” she explains. “That’ll fade away - in about 36 hours. The major prosthetics will benefit from solvent to remove, and the rest you can shower off. But for now, it’s looking…pretty perfect…” she says absently, as she compares your image to the photograph of Arjagul Khioll Vorraq - spymaster, bon vivant, scourge of dissidents, the lost Obsidian Order figure known as the Painter - on the wall-mounted LCARS display.

“It’s too perfect,” says zh’Vhynnal, staring. “The Starfleet file said he got into a scrape with the Orion syndicate in a tavern on New Phnom Penh. He was injured. A knife. Maybe it’s even more realistic if he looks…different now?”

Singh frowned, then picked up the medical applicator, typing a few keys on the display. “Nothing so glaring as the nose. Too much of a ‘costume.’ Maybe…” her applicator hovering just an inch above your skin along the neckline. She traces a slash inwards, the distinctive Cardassian ridges now pocked by a nasty gash, healed-looking - but notable. zh’Vhynnal nods.

👍 (2)

Ekoss

Ekoss tapped a few keys and reviewed his course: slingshotting around the ice giant, ending in between the Kobayashi Maru and the first group of incoming enemy ships. It would be his job to maneuver evasively while still keeping them between the crippled civilian ship and the enemy. He thought through the tactical situation for a moment. He remembered his mentor Stelk repeating a human saying ‘The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.’

With that in mind he looked over his shoulder and addressed Jatha

“When we get there I’m going to be doing evasive maneuvers while keeping us between the enemy and the Kobayashi Maru. If the enemy make me choose, who do you most want me to shelter the Kobayashi Maru FROM ? The Biggest ship? The Cardassians because they might think the KM is Maquis? Or the Dominion, who generally has better weapons? Or just the most aggressive combatant?”

👍 (2)

Jatha

“Damn good question.”

We can’t guard all the angles. Jatha thought. He had seen the numbers. They were outnumbered at least three to one, not counting any boogies. So many possibilities…

Cardassians will not hesitate - for them it’s personal. Although, they also care more about their own lives as well. They’ll let the Jem’Hadar pound us first, if possible, and hang back to finish us from a distance. Unless there’s a high ranking officer to whip them into submission…

“Whatever you decide, I’m behind it. Use any trick you know; make them question everything so they might hesitate.”

👍 (2)

Ekoss

“Yes sir!” Ekoss responded, turning back to his console with a grin. He rolled his neck, stretched out his arms and hands and antennae and got ready to make the Thurston dance.

👍

Ekoss

He would start with the Thurston on a line between the group, keeping his evasive maneuvers in a tight pattern so as to not expose the civilian ship.

👍 (2)

GM

Valeur 3, a Major NPC, is the Dominion Admiral overseeing the border of the DMZ.

Role: Commanding Officer
Traits: Vorta, Hologram
Values:
- Think Positively!
- Serendipity is the Spice of Life
- I Owe it All to the Founders
- Everything Will Be Better Under Dominion Control

The First aboard her flagship isn’t named and doesn’t have stats, being modeled as a member of the Talented (Attribute 10, Discipline 3) crew:

Role: First Officer
Rank: First

Glinn Trekant’s face, writ large across the viewscreen of the Battle Cruiser, maintained its poise, despite the indifference of the Jem’Hadar Commander.

“I’m well aware of the urgency, First,” said Trekant carefully, with practiced patience, “but this intelligence is of a highly sensitive nature. I feel it should be communicated to the Admiral directly, and in private.”

The Jem’Hadar eyed him calmly. “The Admiral is presently engaged. You may relay the information to me, and trust I will carry it to her safely.”

Trekant sighed, his patience waning beneath his surface professionalism. He was about to try a new line, when a delicate hand was placed on the First’s shoulder, and the Admiral stepped into view.

“My apologies for the delay, Commander!” she said, her eyes bright in the dull violet glow of the bridge. “There is just so much information to take in. Never a dull moment in the Alpha Quadrant! Please, Glinn - tell me everything.”

“Ma’am,” said Trekant, “perhaps you might speak from your ready room - “

“Speak as freely as you need!” She clasped her hands. “The Jem’Hadar are of unwavering loyalty and discretion.” She shrugged, smiling. “One of the perks!”

He took a breath. “The situation is more complicated than initially reported.”

“You have a gift for understatement!” said the Vorta Admiral, with a laugh. “A useful skill in politics,” she added, thoughtfully.

GM

I introduced two primary antagonists for the site of the Kobayashi Maru. Commander Trekant [Notable] would be susceptible to the grand deception in its entirety, and command a squadron of a threatening, but more reasonable scale. Admiral Valeur [Major], the “big bad”, would be less susceptible to the grand deception, and could be used not only as a reinforcement but to begin tearing down the facade of the deception, inciting violence.

With this particular narration I hoped to telegraph to the players that even if their adversaries saw through some of the grand deception, it was still possible to persuade them of the core belief. They might resort to violence, but it could be to capture the Painter, as opposed to disbelieving in him.

“So…you are aware of the incoming ships…“

“A veritable flotilla.” she attested. “I share your feelings, Trekant - this situation is confusing. Disorienting. Unsettling!”

Trekant nodded, a bit unsure. “What’s more, ma’am - there were Maquis code words embedded within the Federation message…”

Maquis code words. Messages within messages,” she clapped her hands. “Let us not believe for a moment that we are dealing with the Federation. This all has the makings of what we in the business call: an ‘operation.’ Why this…‘transport in distress’ may itself be part of the ruse. Incite war with the Federation, before we are ready? Tactics, disinformation…”

“You saw the signal, on the channel of the old Order? Ma’am it is…above my rank to know this, but…”

“…but because of your family connections…?” she suggested, smiling.

The blood drained from Trekant’s face. She already had a dossier, on himself? He swallowed, and responded.

“Indeed. My uncle was a close colleague with…the Painter. He’s believed to still be at large though he has eluded capture.”

“Yes, a ‘rare collectible’ as it seems.”

“He has knowledge of Cardassian protocols, military tactics, intelligence rings…”

“And presumably has now amassed such intelligence from all over the Alpha Quadrant!” she replied.

“That…is true…but, Admiral, then we must suppose this transport to be…bait, for…”

“Exactly.”

“My ship is arriving imminently. You…wish to take the bait?”

“No Commander, I wish you to take the bait.” she said, nodding at her First to prepare for warp. “The Kobayashi Maru is your prize, Trekant. If you can take her. Proceed with your mission. I will monitor and engage accordingly.“

“I want that man,” she continued. “I want his ship, I want his secrets, I want his connections, and I shall take them all - by any means available to me. Valeur out.”

👀 (2) 🤔

Scene: Site of the Wreck

This Scene began with the many Advantages the players had Created to prepare for the rescue, and to support the grand deception they hoped would avoid intra-galactic war: that this was not a Federation incursion into Cardassian space, but the arrival of an exiled Cardassian intelligence operative known as “The Painter” in a stolen Starfleet vessel.

To support the rescue, the Kobayashi Maru survivors were now Tagged for Transport, following secret instructions the players had transmitted en route. The two Tricobalt Warheads (capable of causing Spatial Interference) that Sompek had discovered within the simulation’s Voyager-derived data model, could be used to the players’ advantage. To aid the Daring Tasks that would undoubtedly be asked of the Thurston officers, Cadet/Captain Jatha had inspired Boldness Beyond Reason.

For the deception, Forged Signals had been placed on old Obsidian Order frequencies. Sensor Ghost Probes had been launched before crossing the border, telling of a fleet in tow, with Holodeck Backdrops established to portray transmissions from the “captains” of the phantom ships. To cap it off, Cadet Gorca now wore an Effective Disguise as the Painter himself, with Captain Jatha disguised as a Maquis revolutionary.

Complications for the Thurston officers included the Mistaken Initial Reports they’d researched about Dominion ship construction. In addition, Marvin, their Emergency Educational Hologram (EEH), was now Tied to the Simulation - unlike the cadets, in actual mortal peril, through his self-sacrificial tampering with Academy computers in an earlier Scene. Finally, I started the Scene with 24 Threat with which to influence the outcome.

GM

Following this initial narration, this Scene was conducted entirely within Rounds of Starship Combat, with bits of narrative flavor interspersed.

A close-up of hands, smudged with grease, feverishly working controls in a cramped space. A slow, insistent drumbeat on the audio. Sweat can be seen on the Tellarite engineer’s face as he concentrates. The camera reveals his view through the windshield of a worker bee - the damaged hull of the Kobayashi Maru mere inches from his body, on the other side of the foggy transparent barrier. As the robotic arms manipulate parts into place, a noise suddenly erupts, followed by a gruff voice.

“This is Glinn Trekant of the Cardassian Union. All Federation personnel, stand down immediately and await my orders. Do not take further action or there will be swift and severe consequences.”

A moment’s hesitation on the Engineer’s face, his hands unsure on the controls. The camera pans to the corner of his windshield, zooming in wildly to reveal a Jem’Hadar attack ship beginning to fan out from the Cardassian Galor class it had been escorting.

A shot from over the shoulder of the attack ship, shows another attack ship drifting menacingly off in the other direction, towards the asteroid belt, encircling the Kobayashi Maru. Just as the camera zooms back out and returns to the damaged ship, the Thurston suddenly warps into view, bright against the backdrop of the plasma cloud enveloping the transport.

“…swift and severe consequences” echoes from the communications station as we cut to the Thurston bridge. Solomon looks up. “They’re here, Captain. They’re sending this in the clear, on a Federation channel.”

😱 👍

Ekoss

In most Conflicts, the player characters have the Initiative to take the first Turn. The group had decided that Ekoss, at the helm, would do so.

Ekoss’ narrative tied-in with the Zone Map, which his player created digitally and updated as ships changed Zones.

Ekoss looked at the tactical plot, picking his spot carefully. Green stood for Starfleet, in this case the Thurston. Blue was allies (the Kobyashi Maru and her workbees). Red was the Dominion, Orange the Cardassians. Each icon on the screen had an associated velocity line, telling where it had been a moment ago, like an contrail off an atmosphere craft. Those told him which way it was moving, and how fast. The longer the line the faster it was going. And of course, the circles around each ship showed the shields, two circles for strong shields, one for weak shields. Or no circle for no shields, like the Kobayashi Maru or its workbees.

💯 👍

Ekoss

Ekoss spent his Turn to perform an Evasive Action, which would increase the Difficulty of attacks on the Thurston by 1, until Ekoss’s next Turn.

Normally at Difficulty 1, this went to Difficulty 0 because of the Thurston’s Talents. Ekoss generated a lot of Momentum on this roll, and decided to spend 2 Momentum to Create an Advantage of a Protective Maneuver, confounding the adversary and increasing their Difficulty to hit the Kobayashi Maru as well as the Thurston.

He slid the Thurston in between the Kobayashi Maru and the enemy.

Then Ekoss began jinking the Thurston back and forth, his brow furrowed. This was NOT normal evasive maneuvers. He had to keep the Thurston between the enemy and the civilian ships. And he had to keep his ship bow-on to the foe. Otherwise the plan to drop the aft shields wouldn’t work. This was the ULTIMATE test of a helmsman, and he was going to ACE it! And hopefully not make life too hard for Sompek, his Klingon partner at Tactical when it came time to return fire.

👍 (2) 💯

Marvin

The bridge swayed once, and then a second time as the inertial dampeners struggled to catch up as the helm danced and pirouetted. Unused to bodily acceleration, the EEH tried to focus on his screen, then the starfield, then settled for closing his eyes.

“Have a care, Mr. ch’Vaallen!” he cried as he held on to his console with white knuckles.

😊 (2) 👍

GM

Passing initiative to the adversaries, a Fire Weapon from an Attack Ship. Difficulty was increased by 1, because of Ekoss’s Evasive Action. I spent Threat to help ensure a hit, but didn’t spend to increase damage. I wanted it to be a warning shot, and to reduce the Thurston‘s shields. No breach resulted.

There’d been good discussion among the players regarding when Starfleet would return fire. I took this action to make sure this Scene was deadly, and afforded opportunities for Helm and Tactical to shine.

In a medium shot, the Attack ship off the port bow of the Thurston, ceases its thrust, and pivots until its bow is facing the Starfleet vessel. The camera zooms into a close-up of the insect-like vessel, the starfield parallaxing rapidly behind it as it drifts laterally. After a moment of uncertainty, as if receiving some unseen order, a blast of polaron erupts from its proboscis.

😲 🤷

GM

To make it clear that the attack had been a warning shot, I spent 2 Threat to Keep the Initiative and performed Hailing Frequencies Open from the Galor-class.

This is a Difficulty 0 Task, a great way for villains to generate Threat.

“Captain, we’re being hailed!” shouts Solomon. “I’m gonna play the message. Here goes…”

A gruff, but young voice appears on the bridge audio. It is grave, but has an undertone of “boilerplate”, a knowing, going-through-the-motions feel - as if in anticipation that there is more to the story yet to be revealed.

“Federation vessel, this is Commander Trekant of the Cardassian vessel Prokon. You are interfering with our rescue operation, and by your very presence have committed a grave transgression against the Treaty signed between our governments. Heed this warning shot and do not maneuver from your present position. Take no action except to lower your shields and prepare your officers and crew for surrender. Do not contemplate a foolish course of action. We will be seizing the damaged vessel and you will then follow further orders which will include departing this system under our escort. The survivors of the wreck, as well as yourselves, will be taken to Cardassia Prime for processing, and then - conditional on our findings - extradited safely per established protocols.”

😒

GM

An effects shot shows a range of color. The pale violet of the attack ships, silent now and poised, drifting to the port and starboard in the space ahead of the Thurston. Zooming in, we see the dull mustard glow of the Galor, lying on its side in wait at a safe distance. The camera sweeps around across the violent red sun, shot through with black flecks of foreground asteroids, to rest upon the gleaming Thurston, still weaving its defensive dance.

Ekoss

Ekoss noticed something else on his tactical display, and said “Captain, the Kobayashi has two workbees out…” He paused to throw the ship in a different direction. “…attempting repairs. Or they were. They’ve pulled away from the transport…“ He threw the Thurston up this time, “…and stopped their work now.”

Jatha

A ‘Klingon warning shot,’ why am I not surprised… Jatha thought soberly as the g-forces pushed him down in the soft, comfortable command chair.

"Let me know the second Gorca reports we’re ready to play our wildcard - we’ll must keep them occupied with something meanwhile. But no response yet - are those worker bees in our shadow as well?

👍 (2)

Ekoss

Ekoss finished his current zig and answered Jatha. “I’ve got the workbees covered for the time being along with the Kobayashi Maru.” Then he violently zagged the ship, his antenna tilting to one side as he did so.

👍 (2)

Sompek

The players had wanted to do something crafty with shields, allocating them entirely forward, to beam the Kobayashi Maru evacuees from the aft. We’ve seen instances of such ingenuity in the shows, bending some of the rules through effort & cost.

We worked-out a Partial Shields Technology Trait. Narratively, it would cover only part of the Thurston. Mechanically, it would make the Transporters Task possible while shields were up, at the cost of imparting additional Piercing effects to any attack which struck the Thurston while in this configuration.

It was a significant Task, of Difficulty 4 for Sompek to configure this. He spent a point of Determination for a Perfect Opportunity, drawing upon his Value There Is No Such Thing As a No-Win Scenario.

petaQmey ghuy’cha’ Qu’vatlhjay’” The ‘warning shot’ was the sort of thing that Sompek would have done. Enough to nearly bring down the shields. In fact that may have been the intention. “If we’re going to deceive them, now would be a good time!” This was the difference between fighting the Federation and fighting anyone else. The Federation was always happy to de-escalate. To try to talk their way out of a fight. Nobody else did. Even the Vulcans, based on historical archives, were known to greet Klingon ships with a deadly initial blast before they allied themselves with the humans. Another hit like this and their shields would be breached and all their plans up in smoke. “Redirecting shields!” As the ship slipped around in the small space, keeping itself between the Kobayashi Maru and its enemies, his stomach lurched in a similar pattern. Sompek was tempted to snarl at his Andorian friend. But that friend was doing an expert job of buying them and the freighter crew valuable time. So he would help. The controls were intuitive. Manipulate shield energy and frequency. Looking at their firing arcs (multiple phaser strips made that easy) so that they could direct maximum firepower towards the enemy while dropping shields in the direction of the Kobayashi Maru. How long would it take? How much could their now reinforced shield handle? It was too much to think about in detail. But he was done. “Shields ready! They are redirected!”

💯

GM

Chatter broke the silence on the Prokon’s bridge.

“We haven’t seen maneuvering of this pattern from other Federation vessels, captain,” said the tactical officer.

“I’m aware,” replied Trekant, not taking his eyes off the Intrepid-class vessel, the viewscreen locked upon its magnified hull as the stars zig-zagged wildly behind it.

“Commander, they’ve recalibrated their shields. I think they’re creating some kind of opening, we could -“

“Shh,” he said, holding up a finger.

💯 🤔 😶 🤨

Gorca

Gorca hits his combadge on the turbolift. “Gorca to Bridge. The Painter is going to be with you momentarily, if you catch my drift. So don’t start shooting when the lift doors open and you see a Cardassian.”

A few seconds later, The Painter steps off the turbolift and onto the bridge. Doctor Gorca was no longer there, nevermind Cadet Gorca. He walked with certainty, purpose. And he brought forth to the fore-front of his mind all the acting experience he had gained from spending time with his diplomat father, as well as on the storyteller’s world of Efrosia.

“Gul Jatha! Report! What is the status of the Maquis scum!” He gave a wink, just in case Jatha did not understand what he was doing.

💯 (3)

Jatha

The transformation was stunning. The voice was still Gorca but his looks, his whole… presence was transformed. Jatha had seen his comrade take on an aura of command before, but this was something new. It was impressive, and a bit intimidating.

“They’re adrift behind us, dead in the water and desperately patching up holes. A single well-aimed torpedo could take them out for good. And if you missed it, we got a ‘polite warning’ from the Dominion fighters under the command of Commander Trekant.”

Jatha

Jatha rose, as any ploy involving him to be a Gul could mean Gorca would challenge - even slap him - in front of the camera. So he’d play along. He even embraced the small annoyance of Gorca not reporting until the last second, and addressing him as the enemy, and put them as fuel to his growing anger. Anger was better than uncertainty in the face of Cardassians regardless where it was directed.

Jatha

“The bridge is standing by for you orders.”

👍

Gorca

“Let’s see who we’re dealing with,” the Painter says, taking a stance right behind the helm.

Jatha

“Well then… respond to hails, Eric.”

👍

GM

The Attack Ship took the next Turn, this time performing a successful Scan for Weakness against the Thurston.

I tracked all the adversary ships using the simplified rule set for NPC starships. There wasn’t a need to keep track of each NPC officer at each station. Such starships can take a number of Turns per Round equal to their Scale, with a Difficulty penalty of taking more than one action from the same role. The Attack Ship had already used its Tactical role, but Scan for Weakness is performed from the Sensor Operations role, so it did not incur a Difficulty penalty.

The ridged head of First Alara’kul took up the center of the wide shot, the rest of the bridge staff framed to his left and right. The staff went about their tasks with focus, their eyes alternately on their consoles, or staring ahead at the blank bulkhead in front of them all.

Then a close-up on Alara’kul’s eye, which glared from within his eyepiece.

Seeing his point of view, the Thurston lay dissected across the starfield, the results of the scan spilling forth as glyphs and lines relating data on weak points.

“Standard Intrepid class,” he stated plainly, in another shot of his face. “As we’ve been briefed. Tactical, take note of its increased maneuverability.”

“Aye sir,” said a voice.

“Trekant,” he said, a little more loudly, the Thurston back in view, targeting reticules assembling over key sections. “I have a shot.”

“Very good, Commander,” came a distant reply, echoing throughout the bridge. “Stand by for my orders.”

GM

Eric took the next Turn, performing a Respond to Hail Action. This Action, at Difficulty 0, is a great way to generate Momentum.

Solomon exhales sharply. “Ok. Here goes.”

He taps a few keys, and a small rectangle appears in the corner of the viewscreen.

“I can frame it,” he explains, “so only you two are visible. I’m gonna keep the camera fixed. Just…everyone with a uniform, be careful not to walk into view…responding now.”

👍

GM

Difficulty 0 Tasks can also roll Complications, which this Action did. The players suggested that Jatha - clothed as a Maquis revolutionary - might still be wearing his commbadge, and forgot about it. This sounded fun; it felt like something you’d see in a story about cadets, and I liked how it continued the badge motif which had become thematic.

I introduced the Complication Off to the Wrong Start, to reflect this.

“Wait, no!” says Solomon, catching the Starfleet insignia on Jatha’s chest just within the frame, as he initiates the communication.

Rapid taps, an awkward zoom, and the frame is adjusted just inches higher on the officers’ upper bodies. Did it take take effect in time? Did the Cardassians notice? And if not, can they sense that flash of adrenaline that rushes through your veins as the Thurston’s viewscreen is replaced with a close-up on Glinn Trekant, Commander of the Prokon?

😱 (2)

Sompek

The Jem’Hadar Scan for Weakness Task generated its own Complication - an Advantage for the players. We decided to remove the Mistaken Initial Reports that they had received on Dominion technology.

Sompek’s eyes had been glued to his tactical board as the Dominion ship’s ‘passive’ scan had washed over the Thurston, revealing their own tactical weaknesses (which were more than enough to be concerned about). But it had also inadvertently revealed, via triangulation of the enemy scans, that their initial data on sensor placement on the attack ship was incorrect and out of date. Once he had the tactical profile revised, he compressed it to a data file, sent scrambled and via text to the EEH, along with his intention to advise the captain once the visual comm was closed. They might not sound as important as structural weak points or weapons or shield emitters, but no ship could hold its own in combat without sensors. “Take out the eyes…”, he thought.

👍

GM

Initiative returned to the adversaries, and Trekant consumed a Turn in dialogue with Gorca and Jatha. He performed a successful Create Advantage Task, deploying menace to remove the Boldness Beyond Reason Advantage. Normally at Difficulty 2, it was reduced to 1 because the players had gotten Off to the Wrong Start.

Though most officers on the Cardassian NPC starship were treated as a uniformly Proficient crew (Attribute: 9, Discipline 2), the Commanding Officer role was filled by Trekant himself, a bespoke Notable NPC with his own stats. Using his particular Attributes, Disciplines, and a Focus improved the odds of this Task.

Trekant’s eyes widen infinitesimally, as he takes in your face Gorca, before he masters his poise. A muffled sound can be heard from his end of the communications, and his eyes flicker briefly to something offscreen, then return to yours, which he now fixes in a hard stare.

“Vorraq. Welcome home. Do not suppose us to be so incompetent not to have detected your coming. And I think I speak for the entire Union in saying, you have a lot of explaining to do. It appears that we may be witnessing yet more crimes than we had imagined, from this little scene. Theft of a Starfleet vessel. Conspiracy with terrorists,” he lists, glaring briefly at Jatha. “And defiance of your own government’s orders. Treason.”

Trekant leans back, taking a deep breath, a bit electrified by his own words. “You had a nice life out there. What has driven you here, and what desperate gambit you may be about, is beyond me. Oh, the disgrace - the spymaster! To fumble about with such amateurish schemes. So go ahead - state your intentions, Arjagul. And do not be misled: the transport, the ship you presently command, and you yourself are now property of the Cardassian Union, to do with as we see fit.”

💯 (3)

GM

An audible gasp was heard among the bridge officers.

“Commander!” whispered one. “It’s…”

Idiots, thought Trekant. With his eyes he glared a wordless command of silence to the officer, before speaking again.

When his comments were finished, he made a motion with his right hand to his officers - his finger quickly tracing a rough circle: “let’s go.” His first officer nodded, turning to his console, while the rest of the officers returned their attention to the reappearance of the notorious, shadowy figure from the old Order upon the viewscreen.

GM

To build upon Trekant’s cancellation of Boldness Beyond Reason, I spent 2 Threat to introduce a Complication for Solomon: It’s All My Fault.

Pale, his face still, Solomon stares at the Thurston’s viewscreen, his hands beginning to shake.

👍

Marvin

If he could sweat bullets, he would be. For now, he willed his simulated breathing to be still so as not to give anything away. If Solomon had done everything right, his Sensor station shouldn’t even be visible on the screen. If.

On his screen, pinpoints of light pulsed with a heartbeat, lifesigns, those of the civilians aboard and outside the Kobayashi Maru. Their plans had worked so far: the transporter tags and shield harmonics allowed them to maintain a passive lock at this distance. He dared not make it an active lock, not yet. He looked towards Jatha and Gorca for a sign, but they both stared forward, continuing their deadly brinksmanship. He imagined the heartbeat of the lifesigns getting louder and louder. Surely, the Cardassians would hear it soon…

A silent alert interrupted his reverie. A message from Sompek, more like a schematic. It looked like the Dominion intel they had compiled earlier, with corrections. Verifying the source, it looked like one of the Jem’hadar ships had tipped their hand with their scan. Had they continued with the intel they originally had, they would have done a glancing blow, nothing more. Sompek’s updates made specific note of the enemy’s sensor positions and some text: “take out the eyes”. His gaze went to Sompek’s, who nodded imperceptibly. Well, there was something to be said for Klingon poetics…

👍 (2) 🤘🏻

GM

I spent 2 Threat to Keep the Initiative, and took a Turn from the other Jem’Hadar Attack Ship. It used its Helm role to Maneuver closer to the Kobayashi Maru by 1 Zone. This Difficulty 0 Task is great for building Threat.

In an exterior shot, the second Jem’Hadar vessel creeps out of the asteroid field on thrusters, on a course towards the Kobayashi Maru.

💯 (2)

Gorca

This Persuasion Task was one of the more pivotal rolls in the adventure. Starting at Difficulty 5, was affected by the Forged Signal (-1), the Sensor Ghosts (-1), the Effective Disguise, and being Off to the Wrong Start (+1), to become Difficulty: 3. Gorca spent a point of Determination (using his Value Help Those Who Can Be Helped) to achieve 2 successes, and bought extra dice to ensure the third. It worked, without Complication.

This established the Trait The Painter Is Back, With Something to Offer on Trekant. I pledged that his actions would remain influenced by this belief, unless and until this Trait was modified - as it happened, it would be, over the course of the Scene.

“As commander of this vessel and the Fleet of the Damned, I offer to the Dominion and Cardassian Union whatever they want, but I strongly suggest you take heed to my story, and a warning it comes with, first.” Vorraq barely hesitated before continuing, turning slightly and flourishing his hands as if he were addressing a public forum.

“I spied on the Federation until I was captured by their Section 31, low-lifes all.” Gorca was not acting when he called Section 31 low-lifes. “I let them believe they turned me, even let them erase my memory. All that remained was my memory of my allegience to the Obsidian Order! My family, friends, even the Union all crumbled from my grasp like ash! But the Order remained! As far as Starfleet was concerned, I was a double-agent! I fooled them, and when the time was right, and the Dominion gained a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant, I used my Order and Section 31 contacts and training to gather resources, ships, and soldiers who knew and agreed with the inevitability of Dominion supremacy! Cardassians, Federation, Romulans, Klingons, former Maquis! All willing to join the cause! Unfortunately…” Vorraq sighed. “One of those ships decided to…go off on their own enterprising adventure - the Kobayashi Maru. Give me the crew of that ship, so that I may show them what true justice looks like for traitors, and you can do what you please with the Fleet of the Damned, which has no doubt appeared on your long-range sensors.”

He raises his finger. “And keep in mind the intelligence we have: captured Founders, exposed Order operatives, fleet tactics, mission plans. All in here.” Vorraq taps the side of skull.

💯 (3)

GM

Trekant leans back, unsettled, his eyes never leaving yours. He opens his mouth to speak, then pauses, and looks away - when the video is suddenly cut, replaced by the insignia of the Cardassian Union, large glyphs to either side.

“…‘Stand by’…” Solomon reads aloud. “Doctor, I…I hope I didn’t…” he stammers, clutching at his comm badge.

GM

With a slashing motion of his right hand, Trekant had the video cut. He shifted in his seat, each of his officers staring at him silently. One of them, his operations officer and chief confidante, slowly approached his chair.

“It is too good to be true, Glinn,” he whispered.

Trekant shot his gaze at the officer.

“Too good to pass up, with some rash move. He has returned. If he has half of what he says he has?” He shakes his head. “It could change everything. Attack him now?” He shrugged, waved his hand. “And he flees. Let him have his way. Watch him. Stay on his every move. I’ll keep him talking. And send word to the Admiral immediately.”

GM

Sompek‘s console blips. The attack ship, recently emerged from the asteroids, has halted its course.

😱 (2)

GM

The viewscreen is once again replaced by Trekant’s face, fully composed.

“A fascinating account, Vorraq. May I be the first to welcome you back into the fold. You will note I have had my ships stand down. I think it prudent that we take things…slowly from here. I know that my superiors would demand certain…confidence-building measures. I wish to hear from your fleet, for one - some confirmation that they indeed obey your orders. I would ask as well that you lower your shields - surely, if you mean to recover the…escapees aboard the transport, you will need them down. And ultimately…” here he looks briefly offscreen, as if at another officer. “…I would ask that at your earliest convenience, you make yourself available for personal transport to our fleet. I will give you a moment to prepare yourself, and respond.”

Ekoss

Ekoss’s message was purely narrative; no Task was involved. We leaned-in on bringing discussion that might otherwise have taken place out-of-character, into the story, as long as it had no mechanical impact.

Ekoss flinched slightly when Assault ship B repositioned to get a clear shot at the Kobayashi Maru. The Andorian had known that was likely going to happen. It was an inherent problem with one ship trying to block superior numbers. Which didn’t mean he had to like it, or that he didn’t feel he’d failed.

He glanced at the long range sensor readout, saw three more enemy ships coming. Bigger enemy ships. More Powerful enemy ships. He estimated they would arrive in about 70 seconds.

He threw the Thurston into another evasive dive, keeping it moving, but still between the enemy and the helpless federation civilians.

Then he tapped a quick message into his console and set it to scroll across the main view screen (where the enemy on the comm couldn’t see it but everyone else could).

Heavy Enemy Reinforcements approx 70 seconds out. Recommend Alpha strike ship B and begin transport as soon as possible

Hopefully unleashing the Thurston’s entire weapon suite on the ship that had slipped into firing position on the Kobayashi Maru would refocus that Dominion ship’s attention on the Starfleet vessel.

👍

Marvin

The words hung underneath the image of the cool, arrogant face of Glinn Trekant, spelling out their fate. Grabbing the conn station’s sensor info, he saw the three large ships advancing on their position, surrounding and trapping them like the loop of a noose. They had bluffed this far, but they were out of time. If they stood any chance of evacuating the civilians to safety, it had to be soon.

Taking care to maintain his position offscreen, the EEH shifted his head slightly, willing Jatha to look in his direction. The lifesigns continued their weak pulse. “Now?” he asked silently, willing the question into the taut air.

👍

Marvin

Marvin began the Linear Challenge of transporting all Kobayashi Maru evacuees onto the ship. Like Gorca’s Persuasion Task, these were some of the most intense rolls in the adventure.

Using Transporters amidst a Conflict is non-trivial, and subject to many circumstances. In Marvin’s case, they were of Difficulty 3:

- Base Difficulty: 2
- From a pad? No: +1
- To a pad? No: +1
- Close range? No: +1 (house rule)
- Advanced Sensor Suites Talent: -1
- Tagged for Transport: -1

According to the rulebook, Transporters can only be used within Close Range (the same Zone as the ship). The Thurston was in a Zone just outside the Kobayashi Maru’s Plasma Cloud Zone, and I house-ruled that this Task could be performed with a +1 Difficulty.

Marvin would need to perform 4 of these Tasks successfully to transport all survivors. Swift Tasks or Overrides from other characters to perform this Task multiple times in one round would increase the Difficulty further. Even if this were possible, two workbees remained outside the vessel, whose pilots were not tagged, which would have to be dealt with.

On this Turn, Marvin successfully performed two of these Transporters Tasks back-to-back, through considerable Momentum and Threat spends, including the two 2 Momentum needed to perform a second, Swift Task after the first.

Glinn Trekant’s detente had just come through over the viewscreen. The ratcheted tension on the bridge seemed to relax just a hair. The approaching Dominion warships and the lifesigns aboard the Maru battled for space on his screen. He thought he saw Jatha’s chin shift slightly downward. It was enough. He pressed the readied commit keys and the transporter process began.

Linked as one, the various humming signals passed through the strange geometry of the altered shields, through the duranium hull. Routed and re-routed through the Thurston’s neural computers like stray thoughts suddenly made real, people began appearing. Throughout the ship, in transporter rooms, cargo bays, hastily converted engineering platforms, the harried civilians of the Kobayashi Maru blinked to find themselves in brightly lit rooms, directed by waiting security personnel to safe quarters.

The lifesigns winked out one by one from the science station’s view. The EEH moved almost reflexively to the next and next. Thousands of hours of live and simulated transporter maneuvers directed his fingers nimbly, the moments seeming to stretch, until at last, after a few more seconds, it was done. It took almost 20% of the power reserves, but 150 souls were now safely aboard. He allowed himself the luxury of a slow exhale.

His Starfleet training nearly had him call out the successful transport, but he caught himself in time. This was still the Painter’s game; his control needed to be absolute. A simple text statement, “50% civilians aboard”, was appended to the growing status underneath the viewscreen.

🎊 👍

zh’Vhynnal (Marvin)

“I don’t like this.”

zh’Vhynnal attempted once more to get comfortable in the strange tunic with its straps and baldrics, but gave up. Discomfort almost seemed to be built in to the uniform.

“I am not entirely comfortable with the situation either.” Teska, a security crewman, stood within the “Romulan” portion of Holodeck 1, her Starfleet uniform being replaced with a wide-shouldered, grey Romulan tunic, leather harness denoting a subcommander of the Tal Shiar.

zh’Vhynnal gave the straps one last yank. “I could’ve joined the Guard, you know. Would’ve made my zhavey happy, that’s for sure. She grew up old school, deep-rooted caves within old Andoria, you know? She was proud when I got accepted to the Academy, of course. But…well, you know how parents can be.”

“No.” Teska’s face was placid, expressionless.

“Really? …How did you come to join Starfleet?”

“That information is not relevant to our mission.” She continued to stare with empty eyes into a middle distance. zh’Vhynnal signed. She didn’t know what she expected.

zh’Vhynnal (Marvin)

Having already succeeded at the main Persuasion Task, and already paid the price to introduce the Holodeck Backdrops Advantage, I handled this roll at a Difficulty of 0 - a chance to see how much momentum was built by upholding the subterfuge, and whether any Complications resulted.

The effect of this Task was to add another Social Tool supporting Trekant’s view that The Painter is Back, With Something to Offer.

“Learn to sneer. Remember: you’re a Romulan spy, proud, arrogant. This whole mission is utterly beneath you.”

Teska’s brow remained steady, then furrowed ever so slightly. “Like this?”

The Andorian combadge buzzed twice. It was time. “…just stand ready. If we’re lucky, you won’t need to say much.” Both officers got in position. zh’Vhynnal sat in her “Andorian” captain’s chair and leaned to one side with a swagger. She thought of her zhavey now. Old-school…she signal the comm to pipe onto her “viewscreen”.

“Captain zh’Vhynnal here. What’s taking so long, Painter? Have you secured those traitors aboard the Maru? I have a cold cell and a sharp ushaan-tor on my ship waiting for them. Who is this?” She forced herself to glare at the intimidating Glinn Trekant onscreen, her antennae signaling suspicion. “One of your Cardassian friends? Do we have a problem here?”

👍 🤘🏻

GM

Trekant’s face is alight on the Thurston’s viewscreen, taking in the messages.“Vorraq,” he says, “have your fleet rendezvous behind your position, shields lowered.” Here he pauses. “It is momentous, what is taking place here today. Next to the Dominion itself, your cooperation may be the single most strategic advantage for the Union in years. Trekant out.”

GM

Without taking away from the success of the Persuasion Task, I wanted to put a chink in the armor of the Social Tools supporting Trekant’s new belief. I spent 2 Threat to introduce a Complication: Dissent Among the Ranks - not everyone aboard the Cardassian vessel saw things the way Trekant did.

“It is momentous, what is taking place here today,” Trekant rambled with awe, wrapping up the transmission with Vorraq. His first officer - the operations chief - shot him a look, which he didn’t notice.

“Commander,” the officer approached, when Trekant had finished. “You’ve spoken of your family connections. You…know the Painter?”

Trekant paused. “I have not met him personally,” he scoffed.

“But…you know his mind?” the officer pursued.

Trekant made a face. “What are you suggesting? He was never an ally of the Federation!”

“Nor yet of the Dominion.”

“Hold on! What is it?” Trekant asked the sensor operator, as he looked up from his console.

“Transporter signals, sir. He’s beamed…half of them aboard the Federation ship. The transport passengers…the…the escapees,” his eyes flicked towards the operations officer, who approached Trekant once again.

“He’s taking them, Commander. Fast,” said the operations officer.

Trekant stared, nodding. “As he said he would.”

“Who are these passengers, commander? What do we know of this transport?”

“He told us,” said Trekant - an angry whisper. “that ship broke ranks, he said -“

“…what happened to it?” asked the officer.

Trekant glared. Then barked, “Sensors! I had asked for a full report on that transport!”

“Sorry, sir, yes,” spoke the operator, again. “The transport’s suffered multiple explosions…”

“From without? Or within.”

“Both, sir.”

Trekant stood, staring at the Thurston, then at the Kobayashi Maru.

GM

I spent 6 Threat to introduce a Jem’Hadar Battle Cruiser, to increase the Scale of the Adversary NPCs, and bring in a Major NPC who could continue to erode the Social Tools underlying the belief that The Painter is Back, With Something to Offer

Exterior shot of the Prokon: it lies on its side in the middle distance, a manta ray bathed in the red glow of the sun, hovering silently on the edge of the standoff. A violet hulk rushes into the foreground: a Jem’Hadar Battle Cruiser.

GM

I performed another Hailing Frequencies Open, this time from the Battle Cruiser, earning some of that Threat back. Because it was a different vessel than before, I did not need to increase the Difficulty of the Task.

“We’re being hailed, sir!” says Solomon, on edge.

Jatha

”If they’d called our bluff, they would be sending antimatter wrapped in plasma and duranium tubes as a hail. We could still make it!”

Jatha mustered up all the confidence he could. The moment someone saw him hesitate, this could all crumble. He shot a meaning look toward Sompek. Stand by weapons. All it would take was a single word, or a gesture. Of all people, Sompek was the one that could read him best.

“On screen, Eric” he said - calm, confident, leading; hoping his heightened pulse would come off as excitement - “let’s continue the charade, shall we?”

💯 (2)

Sompek

Sompek watched this and understood why he’d seen his father silently grind his teeth so many times while waiting on the razor’s edge of battle. When the baser instincts screamed to attack, but the mind knew that sometimes it was better to not attack, or at least to hold your attack while being ready at an instant’s notice. He’d felt it, as a young man, playing round after round of Klin Zha with a set that had been passed down through many generations of his family. This was of course, the Klin zha kinta, the game with live pieces. And so far, none of the living pieces in the game had been eliminated. Would they manage to get the second group of passengers off of the Kobayashi Maru while avoiding an impossible battle against overwhelming forces? Probably not. But the war often goes to the wise rather than the strong.

👍 (2)

GM

Violet light falls over the face of a smiling Vorta on the Thurston’s viewscreen. Perfectly composed, effortlessly poised, she exudes power and menace - but seems genuinely pleased to meet you.

“Welcome home, Arjagul,” she begins. “I am Valeur. Trekant notified me of your arrival, and I came as soon as I heard. And my goodness, what an unlikely gathering!

“Please be patient with me,” she continues, “because I’m still learning my Alpha Quadrant idioms. I understand that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,’ but two birds in the hand, oh! What then?” She clasps her hands. “I suppose we could ‘kill two birds with one stone,’ but there’s no need for such drastic metaphors…yet.

“I appreciate the overtures that Commander Trekant has made, and I extend them as well. But I think my young colleague is in need of a bit of ‘adult supervision.’

“I believe in candor. Let us not ‘beat around the bush’ - I must assume, a futile method of catching these elusive birds!

“Your activities with the wrecked transport shall cease, immediately. I will be taking possession of the transport and processing all remaining survivors.”

“As for you, you will lower your shields and prepare to be boarded. I will take each of these measures from you as a gesture of goodwill. And let me reassure you, Vorraq, I am not bothered in the least by the…unusual circumstances of your arrival here. I am a relentless optimist! I believe your return to the Union may yet be a boon indeed - to the Dominion, to Cardassia - even to yourself. You bring friends, apparently a fleet of them - friends are wonderful! - but family is to be treasured. Comply with my requests. Show me,” she says, her arms outstretched, “that you are ready to join us. And together? The possibilities are limitless. Valeur out.”

😟 👀

GM

I spent 2 Threat to Keep the Initiative, then performed a Sensor Sweep from the Battle Cruiser.

Sensor Sweep Tasks are normally of Difficulty 0, the purpose being to generate Momentum (or in this case, Threat). Players typically spend this Momentum to Obtain Information, asking questions of the GM. As the GM, I did not need to Obtain Information, and planned instead to spend Threat to Create a Complication representing the knowledge the adversary has gained.

In this case, I chose to simply collect the Threat, waiting to introduce the Complication at an opportune moment. Narratively, I hoped that this action would raise tension from the possibility that the adversaries might discover the fleet was fake.

“Sensor operations?” Valeur asked, walking slowly to the Jem’Hadar officer at the console. She leaned in, glancing at the display. “I’d like to see if we can get a better look at the Painter’s fleet. If you’d be so kind?”

“Right away, ma’am,” said the officer, and set to work.

“Message from Trekant, ma’am,” said her First, as she moved away.

“Onscreen.”

“Admiral,” began Trekant, “we’ve received your orders. But…begging your pardon…are you sure? This is an unusual tactic. This will surely anger Vorraq, prompting him to -“

“Trekant, never hesitate to speak your mind to me. But yes, I am sure. Sometimes one must take a decisive action, to cut through the uncertainty of the situation. My forces are prepared for the risk.”

GM

The only player or Ally who had not yet taken a Turn was Cadet/Captain Jatha. He decided to Pass, upon which began a series of NPC Turns. First, I performed a Maneuver from both Jem’Hadar Attack ships, building Threat.

I then performed a Tractor Beam Task from the Tactical role of one of the Attack ships. The Difficulty of the Task was increased by Ekoss’s Protective Maneuver. Despite purchasing multiple dice with Threat, the Task failed. I attributed this in my narration to Ekoss’s Advantage.

In addition, it rolled a Complication, which I named Useless Course: it must now right itself, increasing the Difficulty of its next movement-related Task. This was a colossal failure to seize the Kobayashi Maru, a fun moment, and one I would later draw upon narratively in the Reversal which ended the Scene.

The attack ships, poised like watchful predators, suddenly surge forward on thrusters. Each takes a heading inward towards the action, but to a different destination.

Mid-maneuver, we see the attack ship nearest the transport make a sudden pivot - keeping its course, but reorienting itself so that the stern faces its target: the Kobayashi Maru.

An action shot, from a camera mounted on its top: red sunlight glints in highlights off its hull. We see the wounded transport, floating in the plasma cloud, rush towards the camera. The atmosphere becomes thicker with plasma as the attack ship penetrates the outside of the cloud. A blue glow emerges from the stern of the attack ship, its tendrils reaching out towards the transport: a tractor beam.

But just as the attack ship is about to seize the transport, a shadow falls across the sunlight on the attack ship: the Thurston! Ekoss’s evasive, protective weaving has brought it too close to the attack ship for the ship to maintain its heading. Forced to alter its course, its emergency thrusters engage, and it pivots just enough to drift past the Kobayashi Maru, its tractor beam flickering out.

Trekant pounded his fist on his chair, muttering a Cardassian curse under his breath.

We get a brief shot of the second attack ship approaching the Thurston itself, more cautiously. Its bow is raised and stern lowered, like a threatening beetle.

🪲

Jatha

Jatha had previously Passed, but changed his mind, requesting a Turn, which I obliged. He chose to Create Advantage, removing Solomon’s sense that It’s All My Fault.

The bridge is buzzing with activity. Orders are given and commands executed. Hold on to something, we’re diving again! someone yells as Ekoss throws the Thurston into another dive.

The camera slowly zooms in on Eric, staring into his workstations’s screen and the sounds go muffled and time is slowing to a crawl. The angle changes to Jatha’s badge, placed on the workstation area where Solomon placed it just moments ago. In slow-motion, we see it falling, bouncing of the floor with a clinking sound, spinning round and ending up somewhere out of sight.

As Eric is snapped out of his own thoughts, the speed is back to normal as he turns to look for the badge with a new level of panic in his face. Until he met Jatha’s look. He’s still standing there, offering the same commanding presence as before. Solomon realises he’d been called by first name moments ago, and no one seemed to care about that, or the fact that he was technically out of uniform. The quick smile he was shot conveyed the acting captains thoughts clear enough, “don’t worry about it.” And as quickly, he was back to giving orders and taking decisions. And it felt like the small mistakes didn’t really matter, they would push on and adapt.

With that thought, cadet Solomon took voice again. “Captain, shuttle bay standing by to receive work bees on your order.” And he was back in the game.

💯

Jatha

Jatha spent 2 Momentum to perform a Swift Task, to Rally the officers, building Momentum.

“Excellent!” Jatha exclaimed. He’d started to feel out of place during Gorca’s performance. Well, that was on him as CO to let the XO “roam free” without checking in.

He quickly tapped the button beside the command chair that opened the ship wide channel, thinking a moment about how he’d need to stay close to a console now to talk to anyone.

“All decks, this is the bridge. we have successfully transported half of the people aboard Kobayashi Maru here without any problems. Good job, everyone - but we’re not home yet. Clear all designated areas, we begin next transport as soon as possible. Bridge out!”

💯

GM

This was pure narration, Trekant had already taken his Turn. I wanted to build motivation for Valeur’s subsequent Task, and help reinforce to the players that their ruse was still in place.

“They missed: it’ll take the attack ship a moment to come about, sir. It’s vulnerable. Do we engage?” a voice asked, from the helm.

“No!” barked Trekant. “We comply with the Admiral’s orders. But, nothing more than that! Another false move like this and he’ll flee. Let the attack ships regroup, but make no change in the Prokon’s attitude. Do you hear me?” He asked, now to the tactical station. “No weapons lock.”

“Acknowledged, sir!”

💯

GM

Valeur, from the Commanding Officer Role, performed a Rally, building Threat.

I had not had to spend Threat to introduce Trekant (Notable NPCs cost 2 Threat to introduce as reinforcements), because his presence had been introduced at the outset of the Scene. Though I was newly introducing Valeur, I did not spend Threat for her either - Major NPCs, with the significance they should hold over the story, do not cost Threat.

This completed Round 1 of the Starship Combat. Initiative was handed back to the players.

“The Prokon is holding its position, ma’am.” said the helm officer.

She shook her head slowly, smiling. “Of course he is. Very cautious, this Glinn of ours! That’s fine, for now. But no change in orders. And I’d like to move us closer to the action. Do not engage yet, but let’s have a better footing to do so. Thrusters only, calmly, cautiously! Look at us, ‘walking on eggshells’ with our own Commanders.” She frowns, thoughtfully. “Hmm…’eggshells,’ the metaphors abound. Please proceed, officer! And let’s get Trekant on comms again, First, I think he may need some encouragement.”

Brel

Marvin took the first action, with two more back-to-back Transporters Tasks. These were costly rolls, including the 2 Momentum to purchase a Swift Task and deal with its increased Difficulty. He rolled a Complication, which we assigned as Conduits Overloaded, and started his narration with that.

Lt. Cmdr Brel stood still amidst the chaos of Main Engineering, his eyes and hands moving rapidly along the wide LCARS panel displaying the Thurston’s EPS grid. The ship’s energies were currently bent towards two tasks: the program of transporter requests that he was monitoring, and the irregular requests of the thrusters as the ship maneuvered in an evasive pattern. A voltage curve scrolled by. As the levels reached the redline, Brel shifted the grid through various auxiliary conduits and batteries. By his count, nearly 287 civilians were now aboard. Almost there.

Suddenly, the science station on the bridge increased annular confinement for the final two transports. The power demands on the grid spiked ominously. At the same time, the ship jerked sideways in a tight turn. The sharp spike continued rising, past the redline and beyond. An overload was imminent.

The surrounding din seemed to slow as Brel surveyed his options. The energy building within the grid on Deck 12 would soon need to ground itself. Environmental control, no, too delicate. Secondary command processors would leave them adrift. A ensign behind him was crying out an alert that remained unheard. Navigational control…no choice. Time rushed forward as Brel tapped in the commands, and slapped his combadge. “Navigational control, evacuate now! Overload imminent!” He grasped the edge of the panel. “Engineers! Brace!”

A muted thump was felt from the deck below, a small shudder and then silence.

Brel

A few beats later, a breathless voice replied: “Nav control to Engineering. We’re all out. The room is toast, sir. We’ll have to nav manually until we can get the fires out, and replace the optronic harness.”

“Understood. Allocating additional crewman to your location. Proceed with repairs with all due haste, Brel out.” Closing the channel, Brel breathed out and returned his attention to the master display.

The lines feeding into navigational control were red, as were the ones leading out, to the navigational sensors. The subtle lie of their sensor ghosts required every panel on the hull to emit in concert. Brel quickly increased output to the other working sensors to compensate for the burned out nav array. There, the illusion should be restored. But did anyone notice the spike?

“…damn.” Brel whispered to himself.

😱 ❤️ 💯

GM

I spent 2 Threat to introduce a Complication: the Evidence of Sensor Ghosts that Valeur’s officers had found from their Sensor Sweep in the last Round. This does not take up a turn.

Given this development, I let the players know that their adversaries now believed The Painter Is Back, and Up to No Good.

“They’re transporting the rest of the survivors, sir,” said the sensor operator, looking up nervously. “All of them.”

Trekant stood, staring at the huddle of ships upon the viewscreen.

“Allright,” said Valeur, a face in the corner of the screen, “At this point he’s screaming his intentions.”

“With respect, Admiral…this…was his stated aim, to reclaim the traitors…his goal fulfilled, now is the time to negotiate, to make sure we enlist this fleet of his -“ stammered Trekant.

“The ‘Fleet of the Damned’?” asked Valeur. “My sensor report is just in. It is a fleet of phantoms. Sensor ghosts! An old Cardassian trick, I understand,” she said, with a look of mild rebuke. “It’s clear to me now that Vorraq has no intention to cooperate. He wants something or someone aboard that transport. Or wants to prevent us from having it. Badly.”

Trekant’s face revealed a struggle to master a mix of emotions. Shame? Indignation?

“So I hope we can agree,” she continued, “it’s time to throw stones.”

“Wonderful. Let’s clip their wings.”

😱 (2)

GM

The Prokon performs a Fire Weapon at the Thurston - at the high Difficulty of 4, due to the Long Range and Evasive Action of the Thurston.

I couldn’t let this fail, like the Tractor Beam did. Trekant, from his Commanding Officer Role, assisted the Tactical station with a Direct - adding his own d20, and allowing another Tactical Task to be performed later in the Round without a Difficulty penalty. I also spent 3 Threat to use his Value Pride is a Hindrance to Destiny. 3 Threat could have bought me 2d20 instead, but spent this way, it guaranteed two successes. I then spent another 2 Threat to buy another d20.

Drums beat.

Quick shot of a cargo hold aboard the Thurston, evacuees are appearing in rapid succession, coming to life with a mixture of disorientation and relief.

Exterior shot of the Prokon - the camera suddenly zooms in. We see her hull begin to swing about, her bow pointing towards the camera.

“He’s moving too erratically, Commander!” said the tactical officer, his console making frustrated sounds, the weapons lock elusive.

“Don’t be precise!” said Trekant, over his shoulder, “Wait until he makes his next dodge and move the beam in an arc to intercept him. Now. Now!”

😰 😱

GM

The attack was successful. Including the extra Piercing damage from the Partial Shields, the damage from this attack depleted the Thurston‘s shields. This inflicted 2 Breaches, because it did 5 or more damage, and brought the shields to 0.

I didn’t target a specific system - Communications was hit, and Damaged.

Action shot of the Thurston, close-up: the ship weaves in and out like a fish. The camera pans upward and zooms: revealing the Prokon firing its disruptor banks. The Prokon seems impossibly distant, the range too far. The Thurston dances around the beam, seems to manage the attack - then suddenly the beam crosses its path horribly. Held too long, the beam rakes the top of the hull. Its shields evaporate, and the blisters of two breaches erupt along the beam’s path where the shields wore thin too early. Puffs of ignited plasma, extinguished as soon as they arose, leave behind gas trails and metal craters in the hull, as the Thurston continues its desperate course.

Marvin

On top of his Transporters Task success, Marvin had chosen to spend 2 Momentum to Create Advantage, beaming the workbee crew aboard as well - it was now coming through in his narration.

The EEH watched the final two transports with trepidation. He’d had to increase power to the annular confinement beam to get through the hull of the workbees. It seemed to be working…there!

“It worked! We have them! All civilians of the Kobayashi Maru are on board!” After Valeur’s not-so-veiled threats, the mood on the bridge had darkened, but this was a spot of good news. As impossible as it had seemed, they were one step closer to saving these people. With any luck, they might just…

The deck shifted suddenly, bringing him down hard on his forearms. Disoriented, he only had time to see another bright lance from the nose of the Prokon before crack another jolt, and he saw stars as his head struck the panel.

The lighting dimmed, or was it his vision? His stomach lurched as the inertial dampeners struggled to keep up with the changes in momentum. The drift seemed to continue for a few moments longer. Their engines must be been damaged in the attack.

He blinked once and then again. He seemed to be having trouble remembering what to do next. He shook his head to clear it, and the rushing sound in his ears abated. Damage report. Quickly, he ran a Level 5 diagnostic, and verified it with his own checks. Sensors were green, for now. He sent the report to Ops and gingerly felt the lump on his head. His hand felt damp. He pulled his hand away slowly to see a streak of red on his palm.

💥

Gorca

Gorca turns to Jatha. “Let me take a shuttle. It will look like the Painter is trying to escape and I’ll signal my surrender. They wont want to let the Thurston go, but you can bring in the holo-probes and sensor ghosts to distract them. Go to warp when they target me, whether it’s with tractor beams, transporters, or disruptors.”

😭 💯

Ekoss

Ekoss chimes in “or could we launch the shuttle on autopilot and use a comm relay to make it seem like you are aboard. Perhaps a small engine leak to block sensor sweeps.”

👍

Jatha

“Noble, but we’re to close. You’d be shot down in seconds.”

Shields he thought, we must get the shields back!

“Engineering, stand by to transfer emergency and auxiliary power to shields.”

GM

Keep Initiative so the the Attack Ship who’d Scanned the Thurston for Weakness could Fire Weapon. It rolled a Complication, which we recorded as a Bad Attitude that would need to be righted.

The Jem’Hadar were precise, targeting the Thurston‘s Engines and Damaging them with 2 Breaches. This, combined with Conduits Overloaded, would make it extremely Difficult for the Thurston to go to Warp, and would sap the Power needed to outrun its Adversaries.

I had spent considerable Threat, but the Thurston was now stuck.

“Onscreen,” said Valeur. The Prokon was laying its fire across the field. “A hit! Our young Commander is proving his worth.” The First gave a small nod.

She and the First watched coldly as the attack ship followed-up the Prokon’s blast with a precision strike upon the Thurston. An explosion blossomed near the base of the starboard warp nacelle.

“Direct hit upon his engines” said the First, pointing. “they may well have been disabled.”

“Be absolutely sure!” warned Valeur. “And prepare a boarding party.”

“Right away,” said the First. Then, frowning, he observed, “that shot cost them their attack pattern. They’ll have to come about.”

“Understood - please know, the care and discernment demonstrated by your squadron are greatly appreciated. We are not out for wanton slaughter! We must be circumspect.”

After a moment’s contemplation, “That said, we should remain well prepared for all eventualities.”

“It will be as you say, ma’am.”

Jatha

“Sir, we lost contact with… everyone! Comms are down!” The young crewman turned to Brel with a look of terror in his eyes. Brel had seen him before the battle, full of energy and optimism. Unprepared, some would say, for the path they were now travelling.

“I’m aware of that Mr G’vad. It has no impact on your job to stabilise coolant pressure. As you are aware, you still take orders from me. Return to your duties.”

There were moments when his lack of emotions showing comforted the crew. This was a valuable lesson, among many he had memorised during the exercise. But he had felt that last hits and seen the red icons filling his screen as sparks flew everywhere. They had no shields, and if he pulled anyone from their posts several decks would lose all power, condemning the inhabitants to freeze and suffocate. The Captain would not allow that. Brel would prefer not to do perish. This was a conundrum he could not resolve as easy as a game of Kal-toh.

👍

Jatha

Jatha Created an Advantage to enable Manual Shield Control, reducing the Difficulty of a Regenerate Shields Task - which he Directed Brel to perform, as a Swift Task.

Regenerate Shields has Difficulty 2 when shields are at 0. His Advantage brought this down to 1, making it more likely to succeed and earn more Momentum. Upon its success, he spent enough Momentum to restore all shields.

“..is is th. ..idge to all decks. All non-es….ial personnel report to manual shield controls, now! Bridge out!” The captain sounded stressed, but there were no screams of death either. Brel moved his hand even before he heard his badge chirp, and quickly tapped it. “Go ahead, captain”

“Um.. yes, yes! They responded - primary shield control is standing by, but I need you to make the power transfer from engineering. Just dump whatever you have available straight into the power grid, they’ll jump-start those emitters as soon as you do.”

Brel raised an eyebrow at this statement. “Captain, you are aware that..”

“No time!” Jatha interrupted. “We must do this or prepare for… worse events. Bridge out.” He closed the transmission, and moments later his small command panel started moving shapes and figures around; a number of coloured diagrams were quickly filling the screen.

“Shield harmonics resetting, field integrity solidifying we’re up to.. I don’t believe it, we have 100% shields again! But the stern is still exposed - Sompek! Reset modifications!”

💯 (2) 👍

Sompek

Sompek was feeling his pent-up warrior’s need to do something. And this, although it wasn’t taking aim at the enemy (yet) was vital. “Acknowledged!” Fortunately the settings had been saved, so it was a simple matter of implementing them. “Modifications reset!”

Jatha

“Good, but we can never hold up against so many ships - Sompek, even the odds. Take out their weapons, or engines. Your call, but make it quick!”

Sompek

Sompek performed a successful Fire Weapon at the Jem’Hadar Attack Ship - the one correcting its Useless Course in the plasma cloud. There was a hope that the challenge dice would roll an Effect, causing the Volatile plasma Cover to ignite and do further damage. It didn’t, but the attack Damaged their Weapons and put this vessel at a significant disadvantage.

Sompek targeted the enemy craft in the cloudy sensor display, focusing fire on the attack ship’s weapons, and fired. He was gratified to see the crab-like craft hit and visibly shaken. Shields flared, and he saw a small explosion on the enemy hull. The ship shuddered briefly, and seemed to him to be knocked back for an instant. A quick check revealed that the shields were still up, but had been severely weakened. Weapons had been heavily damaged. And he noted that the Thurston’s shields were back at a hundred percent. He looked up from the display to report to Captain Jatha. “Their shields are severely weakened. Weapons have been damaged! They won’t last much longer. not yIjegh! Never give up! Never surrender!”

🤘 (2)

GM

The other Attack Ship performed a Create Advantage Task to eliminate its Bad Attitude, thenKeep Initiative to move the Battle Cruiser on Impulse one Zone closer.

Phaser fire seared through the attack ship’s shields, bursting its hull. The plasma surrounding it crackled. Already reeling, the damaged vessel sunk deeper into the cloud. It made no immediate move.

“How long until that ship is back on the attack?” asked Valeur.

The First looked closely at the injured vessel on the viewscreen. “That hit was bad, ma’am. It’s in a poor situation.”

“Well then, we must press the attack with our other vessels. Disable their weapons.”

“Yes. Our other fighter is reorienting now.”

“I want Trekant on them too.”

“I will inform him.”

“And move us into optimal Transporter range. Even if we attract some of his fire - we may need to cut this short.”

“Acknowledged, right away.”

Ekoss

Ekoss grinned at the destruction being wrought on the bug-like Jem’Hadar assault ship. His grin slipped a little as he saw the Dominion Battlecruiser heading their way. Definitely not good news, but he’d heard that the last of the civilians were aboard so the need to protect the Kobayashi Maru had passed. That gave him options.

Ekoss

Another Evasive Action Task from Ekoss, renewing the benefits, since it would otherwise expire on his Turn.

He threw the Thurston into another series of wild evasive maneuvers. As his hands danced over his control board his eyes flitted to the tactical display. Ekoss valued being prepared and he’d discussed this contingency with Captain Jatha, so he already knew what he needed to do. He grinned and his antennae tipped forward as he hunched over his console.

“Hang On !!!” He told his crew mates on the bridge.

Ekoss

Outside shot: light glinted off the thrusters on the Thurston as they flashed, pushing the ship swiftly down and to the port. Then the impulse engines flared to life sending the Intrepid class ship barreling at high speed toward the nearby asteroid belt.

Ekoss

Swift Task to make an Impulse maneuver into the Asteroids Zone, giving the Thurston cover while it conducted repairs.

Ekoss wasn’t empathic but he could hear someone on the bridge sucking in their breath and holding it in tension and fear. He grinned wider and focused even harder as the ship entered the asteroids.

Ekoss

2 Momentum on success, to Create a Weaving Among the Asteroids Advantage. A rolled Complication on the Impulse Task turned into a small asteroid collision.

As the Thurston entered the asteroid field Ekoss began weaving her in and out between the asteroids. He pushed the ship’s impulse engines to 100% .. 105% .. 107 % . But as he dodged to starboard to avoid an upcoming small planetoid the size of the Thurston the impulse engine’s thrust slipped just slightly back, to 106%. As a result the ship was a bare half meter short of where it needed to be and a small carbonaceous rock about the size of his chair slammed into the starboard impulse engine magnetic thrust vectoring coil. The rock shattered into pieces about the size of an Earth softball, and the vectoring coil was knocked ever so slightly out of perfect alignment. It was still within tolerance but not as perfect as it had been.

Ekoss

The Thurston slid between the asteroids, dodging rocks as it zigged and zagged to evade enemy fire.

😱 ❤️ (3)

GM

Attack Pattern from the Prokon as a Swift Task after a Maneuver into an Asteroids Zone, 1 Zone away from the Thurston (at higher Difficulty, since from the same Role).

Standing on the bridge, his eyes fixed on the viewscreen, Trekant bit his thumb, not caring to hide it.

“The field is dense, Commander,” said the helm officer, as the Prokon maneuvered into the asteroid field. An asteroid whooshed past on the viewscreen, a little too close for comfort.

“Understood. Accelerate,” he said.

Having been hoodwinked by the Painter, and made a fool in front of the Admiral, this encounter had begun very poorly for Trekant. But the tide was turning. Even the mighty Jem’Hadar had been unable to bring the Painter to heel in their initial melee. Now the traitor had fled into the thicket of the asteroid field. The bird has crawled into the bush indeed. If left undisturbed, he’d surely repair his warp drive quickly and flee the scene. Tricky, but nonetheless a window of opportunity for Trekant to repair his reputation and come out of this confusing situation with his star back on the rise.

“There he is! Attack pattern Ruk-23.”

“…within the asteroid field, sir?”

“Damnit, yes! It’s a fleet engagement maneuver. Here’s a fleet of rocks,” he spat, waving his hand. “Commence!”

“Initiating, sir!”

The viewscreen wheeled, several bridge officers placing a hand on a console or bulkhead as they remained bent to their tasks.

“Tactical! As soon as you have a shot, take it,” said Trekant.

“Targeting their weapons, sir? Our orders were…”

“No - I don’t care where we hit him. Just hit him, hard. It’s going to be the Prokon that brings him in.”

“Yes, sir!”

😱

GM

Rolled Complication, taken as damage to the Prokon‘s shields from asteroids.

The Prokon weaves doggedly through the field, the Thurston always a step ahead. Its port side careens into an asteroid - the boulder just barely repulsed by its shields.

“Collision to port, Commander - shields diminished approximately 18%!”

“Ignore it!” barked Trekant. “There, there! You’ve got your shot, fire disruptors now, full power!”

GM

Keep Initiative to Fire Weapon, with Difficulty lessened due to the Attack Pattern.

The bridge crew lurched in the wake of another weave, the asteroids parallaxing wildly on the viewscreen. A lens flare from the looming red sun flooded the corner of the screen as a golden beam burst forth towards the Thurston, striking its shields.

GM

The attack’s damage was decreased by the effects of Cover from the Asteroid field.

I spent 2 Power to buy an additional 2d6 of damage - an option for any Fire Weapon Task using an Energy Weapon.

“Hold the beam!” shouted Trekant, as the Prokon poured forth disruptor fire onto the Thurston.

“Hold it! Hold it!” he repeated, as an asteroid drifted in the path of the beam. It sliced in two, and the Prokon continued to unleash fire, deliriously.

“Drain the power reserves!” he commanded, and the tactical officer nodded, the entire bridge crew now feeling the shift in fortunes, aligned with Trekant’s desperate gambit.

😱

GM

2 breaches inflicted, including to Structure.

Trekant stared ahead, unmoving. The Prokon’s blast had ended. The Thurston - a shining lozenge in the distance among the asteroids - held its course.

“Magnify,” he commanded.

At 100x magnification, the Thurston’s hull showed visible damage.

“Their shields are down, sir!” spoke a voice. Trekant nodded, but kept staring.

Two clouds of gas began to bloom from the Thurston’s hull. Silent flashes, sparks were the only sign of the hell unleashed aboard the far vessel - but they were enough.

Trekant said nothing. His officers began to read-out, excitedly, the damage to the Thurston. He looked away from the viewscreen, off towards a corner. A smile crept over his face, in spite of himself.

He felt something small and jagged against his tongue: a fragment of his thumbnail. Still smiling, he flicked it away, somewhere among the boots and consoles of the bridge. Terrible habit, he remarked inwardly. No matter - another day, some bright, new day - he’d be sure to eliminate it.

🤘🏻

Ekoss

Structure breaches deliver an Injury - treated as Lethal - to a random bridge officer. Using a d6, we rolled Ekoss.

Ekoss held on as the blast from the Galor’s phasers shook the Thurston. He continued working the controls, trying to keep the ship moving. Then it happened. A blast hit one of the EPS conduits running to the helm computer suprocessor core. The Energy was channeled through the core and from there up along the control lines. To the bridge. To the helm. Ekoss’s Console.

It was only a split second before the breakers tripped, but the charge ran up Ekoss’s arms, arcing and throwing him back in his chair for a moment. His console smoked.

Ekoss

Ekoss spent Determination to Ignore the Injury - forestalling its effects until the end of the Scene.

His vision was overcome for a second as he saw stars and his antennae stung, a sensation not unlike a human’s ears ringing. With a determined shake of his head, Ekoss cleared his head, mostly.

Ekoss

Ignoring the Injury allowed him to preserve the effects of his Evasive Action and Weaving Among the Asteroids until his next Turn.

He leaned back into his work, his hands automatically reaching for the backup controls. The secondary computers had already come online when the ship went to red alert, so that they’d be ready to take over in an instant when required. Like now. And Ekoss had spent many hours practicing with backup controls under the watchful eye of his mentor Commander Stelk. He kept the ship bobbing and weaving in every direction, as it dodged through the asteroids.

👍 (3)

Eric (Marvin)

The ringing in his ears was intense. Normally able to pick up the subtlest variance of a subspace carrier wave, Solomon now only heard a high-pitched whine. In a small panic, he shook his head. Bits of debris fell out of his hair and onto the comms panel.

“…ge report! Eric! …tatus of the hull!…leaking atmosphere. And…where we’re at with the engines!” Jatha was calling out to him from across the dim room, but he could only catch every other word. The captain spared him a small, heartening glance before going back to barking orders, keeping the many stations of the bridge focused and operational by sheer will. Well, he’d be damned if he was going to drop the ball now.

“Aye, sir!” he cried out, probably louder than he needed. Automated diagnostics were coming in from all over the ship and compiling themselves into a running tally of damage. Solomon punched in comms to Main Engineering. “Brel! Tell me you have good news on the hull.”

“I do not,” a stoic voice answered back.

Eric (Marvin)

Damage Report on the Structure breaches, with 1 Momentum spent to also report on the Engines breaches. This would decrease the Difficulty of the Tasks to repair both systems by 1.

He sighed. “Okay, give it to me. Quickly, please.”

“Decks 12, 14, and 15 report class I and II breaches, life support force fields have been deployed. Primary ODN is down, auxiliary systems are initializing now. Plasma relay junctions remain intact. Fire control teams have been engaged to decks 11 and 13. 12 injured, 3 dead from Engineering.”

“3 dead…” Solomon shut his eyes and focused, “The engines. What is the status of the engines?”

“We continue to vent drive plasma from the starboard nacelle. Plasma pressure is at 480 KPa. Impulse efficiency has fallen to 105%. Warp and impulse compromised but operational.”

“Right. Okay. Right. Thanks, Brel. Standby for repair tasks.”

“Engineering out.”

Solomon reviewed the two pages of damage and casualty reports from throughout the ship. Quickly parsing the list and pulling out the pertinent information, he turned back to the bridge. “Hull breaches on decks 12, 14, and 15, force fields in place! Starboard nacelle continues to leak plasma! Orders?”

Jatha didn’t hesitate. “Get Engineering on those breaches, and get them to lock off that leak. If another shot like that doesn’t drop us, a stray asteroid will.”

“Aye, sir.” Solomon turned back to his list. The casualty tally had increased to 13. He paused, then archived it all to the ship’s logs. If only it were that easy for him. “Bridge to Engineering…”

💯 (3)

Ekoss

Ekoss looked over his shoulder at Jatha, wobbling a little in his seat as he did.

“Sir may I respectfully remind you of Brunk’s first law?”

Lt. Brunk was their Tellarite self-defense instructor and all the cadets knew his first law of self defense half measures get you or your friends killed.

“Though perhaps targeting their weapons would be … optimal” he finished as he turned back to his work.

👍

Jatha

Damnit, Jatha thought he’s right. The next hit could wipe us out of the sky for good.

“Sompek, it’s your call. When you have a shot - take it. I don’t care if you decide to hit him or not, but we can’t allow him a free shot at us with no shields, or we’re done!”

Sompek

Using his Value There is No Such Thing as a No-Win Scenario, Sompek spent a point of Determination for a Surge of Activity: a chance to perform another Fire Weapon Task, without a Difficulty penalty. The rule book indicates that this is done immediately after a prior Task, but I allowed it to occur later in the Round - it didn’t seem over-powered, and was an accomodation for the asynchronous nature of our out-of-character communication for the play-by-post.

Using the Tricobalt Warheads Sompek has uncovered within the simulation earlier, this was a Torpedo attack, so its Difficulty was higher, and it generated 1 Threat.

Sompek had had a control dedicated to the Tricobolt warheads since he’d been able to get them approved for their loadout. Two big, simple red buttons set by themselves in the far right column of his tactical console. “Targeting Jem’Hadar Battlecruiser.” He pressed the top button and waited. Less than a second later, a single warhead shot out from just above the navigational deflector. It was unlike any he’d ever seen. The warhead itself was almost invisible against the darkness of space, but the three white/pale blue lights were impossible to miss. They flew towards the distant battlecruiser. “Switching to onboard telemetry.” Then he glanced up at the viewscreen and was treated to a view from what he assumed was a tracking sensor on the body of the warhead.

The view shifted hard to port as the warhead acquired its target. Then it was a straight shot, past a large asteroid. The undamaged Jem’Hadar attack ship hung in space to starboard, and the warhead continued past, finally centering on the purple and violet-hued battlecruiser. It was a massive ship, in basic design not unlike many Klingon cruisers, but much larger. “Hit it!” Sompek growled. There was one more slight course correction, and the warhead slammed into the battlecruiser’s shields with a flash.

When the telemetry signal cut off, the viewscreen switched to a magnified view of the battlecruiser. Its shields were still up, glowing especially at the impact area, and Sompek was gratified to see some minute but obvious damage to the hull. “ghuyʼchaʼ! Shields are still up but reduced by 31 percent! Damage to the hull. Computer systems are impacted. And there is localized damage to subspace. They shouldn’t be able to maneuver. How long that will last is uncertain.”

💯 (2)

GM

“Trekant’s push was successful,” reported the First, aboard the battle cruiser’s bridge. “Vorraq’s shields are down again, Admiral.”

“Excellent. His weapons?”

“Still online.”

“Well. It was a bold move, and effective. Let’s use this window to strike surgically and disable their ability to -“

“Incoming torpedo!” spoke an officer. “Time to impact…30 seconds.”

Valeur lifted an eyebrow. “Just one?”

“Signature unknown,” the officer reported, non-sequitur.

She and the First exchanged a glance. “Evasive maneuvers,” ordered the First - calmly, but urgently. Sizing the missile up visually, unable to place its distinctive pattern, the First raised a communicator. “All hands brace for impact.”

Valeur’s gaze too was drawn to the warhead rapidly approaching on the viewscreen. She gripped the chair, staring, trying to account for the faint static pattern which flickered across the screen as the torpedo sped closer.

Just before impact, she realized she’d been holding her breath, and inhaled sharply. An abrupt sound, all bass, hit the audio track - a sonic gut punch - as the screen cut to black.

💯

GM

The warheads had applied a Spatial Interference Trait to the Zone in which the flagship and one attack ship resided.

This would significantly interfere with subspace communications, the warp drive, and even basic navigation.

With the viewscreen dark, and the emergency lights on, the battle cruiser’s bridge seemed a solemn chapel, as the bridge officers struggled to bring systems back online.

“Damage report,” commanded the First.

“Forward decks 5 and 6 report internal compromise. Computer operations disrupted from arrays 10, 11, and 12.”

“Give me the bottom line - can we move?” asked Valeur. “See? Shoot?”

“Still determining, Admiral. Thrusters engaged but the ship’s moving erratically.” reported the helm officer. “We’re having unusual difficulty compensating for the angular momentum from the blast. Weapons appear online but targeting systems seem to be malfunctioning. It may be the computers, ma’am.”

“Where is Vorraq? Has he changed position?” asked Valeur.

“All subspace functions unresponsive at present,” reported a the sensors operator.

“More computer trouble?”

“Internal diagnostics indicate sensors are nominal. It’s unclear what’s happening, Admiral.”

“I want a visual. Can we get the viewscreen on? Optical sensors only?”

“Right away.” said the officer. Momentarily, the bridge was bathed in light.

“Ha!” she laughed aloud, upon seeing the view. Space itself seemed broken: the red sun, the asteroids and starfield were shifting, swimming slowly, at times normal, then unnaturally curved or sickeningly elongated. She and the First stood for a moment, enraptured by the psychedelic vista. “Does he have more of those, do you think?”

“Tricobalt, most like. The effects will subside, but…” surmised the First, “it will be slow going. It was a glancing blow, but we were near the epicenter.”

💯

GM

Chart Hazard from the Navigation Role of the Battle Cruiser.

Back from commercial, an exterior shot shows the cruiser hanging in wild space, a bruised space hulk against a cosmic Dali backdrop.

“Our attack ships - that one there, on-screen - Alara’kul’s,” said Valeur upon the bridge, pointing towards a vessel that looked almost as if folded in half, like a boomerang. “It’s not really ‘melting’, is it?”

“Correct. We think it’s in good status, and the visual distortions are an effect of the lensing brought about by the damage to local space-time.”

“Can we get ahold of them?” she asked.

“They may be within the horizon of the spatial interference as well. Without subspace…we can try other media: electromagnetic, optical.”

“Optical, meaning - they’d be looking at us right now, as we’re looking at them?”

The First nodded. “I would be.”

“Do it. Signal with the running lights if you have to. Can I have an update on our mobility?”

“Very limited, Admiral,” reported the helm officer. “The problem’s not us, it’s the territory.”

“Navigator, can we map our way out of this?”

“I can try to chart the distortions, Admiral. The computations will be intensive and it may strain our computer systems, which are already impacted.”

“Push them to the limit - chart us a path out of this…dreamscape.”

“Aye.”

“Until then, First, it appears that Trekant is now Plan A.”

“Indeed, ma’am.”

“And regarding Plan B…were you able to make the appropriate arrangements?”

The First met her eyes. “Affirmative, Admiral.”

“Well that is some very badly needed good news.”

😱

GM

Keep Initiative to let the Prokon perform a Sensor Sweep. This generated Threat, which I planned to spend on a Weapons Lock Complication.

“We’ve lost all contact with the flagship, sir.”

Trekant and his officers stared at the display, the battle cruiser and one attack ship trapped like flies in a bubble of broken space-time, the other attack ship drifting uselessly in the plasma cloud.

“Do we have a shot at him? A good, clean shot?”

“Negative, sir,” reported tactical. “He’s weaving too much. It’ll take a moment to line up another one.”

Trekant began to pace. “Sensors. Scour every inch of that vessel. What I need is a weapons lock on that ordinance system. When we get our window, we make sure he doesn’t get another shot like that.”

“Aye, sir.”

Trekant paused one more beat, in thought. “So we take out his weapons,” he declared. “Then we board him.”

“Us.”

😰 (2) 😱

zh’Vhynnal (Marvin)

Damage Control from Ensign zh’Vhynnal to repair the Thurston‘s Engines, at Difficulty 3. I let the players drive this NPC, making decisions about the risk of spends and rolls.

Marvin’s player decided to use her Value No One Should Have to Die Alone to create 3 Threat to gain the effects of a point of Determination: 2 guaranteed successes. Using this Value, and having her personally respond at the site of a breach with a team, was a nice way to tie-in her and Ekoss’s shared backstory of a fellow cadet lost in battle. The authority she displayed in his narration highlighted the new path that Marvin’s sacrifice had made for her.

zh’Vhynnal exited the turbolift and saw stars. Only a subtle blue tint separated her from a field of black space and roiling asteroids, visible through a rent in the bulkhead. Engineers loudly coordinated down the hall as repair teams braced and welded wide duranium struts across the breaches. Shouldering through the chaos, she found what she was looking for. A plume of plasma traced a zagging line into space just outside the hull. A nearby repair team was deep in focus, finishing another seal.

“Excuse me?” zh’Vhynnal asked. No one reacted as a white-hot bead traced around the metal strut. “Uh, excuse me?” she repeated louder. A few engineers looked up as the team leader, a large Brikar crewman, alone held the patch with a giant palm, welding it in place with the other.

“I need a team to help me seal off this plasma junction. We need to get throughput up if there’s any hope of getting the engines back online.”

“Can’t.” The Brikar stood his full 3 meter height as he collected his tools. “We have orders to seal breaches on this deck and the next, and we’re already behind. Let’s go.” He sidled past her without a second glance and the rest of his team followed. zh’Vhynnal watched them leave, feeling very alone in the crowded hallway.

Crewman.” a voice rung out. It was hers. Surprised by the force of her words, she seemed to watch herself walk into the path of the hulking engineer and plant her feet. “Crewman, I don’t recall asking your permission. We are going to seal that leak, you are going to assist, or I am going to toss you out one of these breaches and you can join the rocks, is that clear?” Her antennae pointed at him like a fork as she held the gaze. His stony expression betrayed nothing for a moment, two, and then:

“You heard the Ensign. Let’s move!” As one, they turned about and made their way into the junction room. Taking a steadying breath, zh’Vhynnal groused to no one in particular, “I miss computers.”

❤️ ♥️

GM

Hailing Frequencies Open from the Battle Cruiser to the stuck Attack Ship

The cruiser was a twisted metal rock album cover, splashed across the sky in iridescent purple.

Through his eyepiece, Alara’kul silently took in the message, encoded in trinary, communicated by the flickering of the cruiser’s running lights.

“Operations,” he related, “the flagship believes we can switch to higher bandwidth. Radio waves - look for an active encoded broadcast in a band around 400 megahertz.”

He waited as the operator began to tap into the ancient, diffuse channels they were forced to rely upon, showing the results upon a display.

The characters - and viewers - of Flash Gordon would have recognized the strange whistle and whine which emerged, along with a cloud of static, just before Admiral Valeur’s visage appeared on the display.

“…‘kul, can you hear me? Can you see me now, Commander Alara’kul?”

“Yes, Admiral. Yes! I can see you.”

“Excellent,” she declared, “and I bring good news. Our navigational computers have produced data that can lead us through these spatial distortions, and we’ll be transmitting it on this frequency to your vessel following this message.”

“Once you have emerged from the horizon, your orders are simple: disable, board, capture. Highest priority: that the vessel not flee the Cardassian sphere of influence. Next, that the Painter be taken alive. Incur no unnecessary loss of life, but let no opposition stand in your way. Valeur out.” After a pause, a string of unintelligible static, beeps, pops, and whines rattled on.

👍 (3)

Jatha

Jatha was studying the battlefield. Every console was blaring out warnings, and he suspected they would not get many more chances at doing something useful. Time to go all-in with the cards they held.

“Tactical, fire the second device, target the Galor and make sure it hits! Helm, when their sensors are temporarily disturbed, give me every shred of power you can and throw us into warp - time to go home!”

With that, he turned to address Sompek in a more personal way. “If you hadn’t checked these torpedo manifests, we wouldn’t have had this chance. I don’t think any starship carries them anymore, or we would’ve named this The Sompek maneuver.

💯 (2) ❤️ (2)

Sompek

Fire Weapon from Sompek again - it was a new Round, so he had a Turn available.

The captain’s words and confidence inspired Sompek and filled him with determination. His heart was beating hard. Hard to the point of distraction. So he found a center for himself. First of all, the people around him. His crew mates and comrades-in-arms. But also his father, who had been injured in the middle of combat and forced to watch his cadet son step up and defeat the enemy and save the ship. And, somehow more acutely, the death of his not-quite grandfather Chang. An incident with which he’d made himself intimately familiar. Including the large red button set into a console on the Enterprise, firing a specialized torpedo that had ended Chang’s quest. It wasn’t a matter of revenge, exactly. Except perhaps to the hands of fate that had driven a good man to sacrifice his honor on the altar of Empire. So no, it wasn’t about revenge, exactly. And still… bortaS bIr jablu’DI’, reH QaQqu’ nay’. He had to focus. Tie the targeting controls into the ship’s sensor suite. Attain and confirm firing solution for the Galor class cruiser. Then he took a breath, closed his eyes, and pushed the firing button for the last Tricobolt warhead.

🤘🏽 (2)

GM

Another hit - only moderate damage, but the Spatial Interference Trait applied to the Prokon’s Zone would take the ship out of the running for pursuit.

“Weapons lock acquired, sir!”

“Excellent,” said Trekant, standing behind the helm and tactical stations, a Cardassian mirror of Cadets Ekoss and Sompek. “Clear that asteroid, and then fire at wi - Helm! Evasive Action!”

“Incoming warhead on sensors, sir!” shouted an operator.

“We see it!” barked Trekant. “No no, full to starboard, move towards the asteroids - faster - fas”

Exterior shot: the Prokon’s shields fry as it ducks behind an exploding asteroid, a hail of rocks raining laterally upon it. Then space itself flies apart.

❤️

Ekoss

Ekoss saw the tricobalt device slam into the Cardassian ship, and explode. The shimmering, oil on water rainbow effect that it caused looked wrong somehow.

The blackness starting to impinge on his own vision was even more troubling though.

Ekoss

This was an Override, Ekoss using the Tactical Role from his station which was assigned the Helm and Navigator Roles. Ekoss’s Multi-Tasking Talent allowed him to use his Conn Discipline for this Task.

As he weaved around another asteroid the second Jem’Hadar assault ship came into view. It was the only enemy combatant that could chase them now if they went to warp. Ekoss pulled up a tactical control screen on his console. He hoped Sompek would forgive him for taking the liberty. With a series of quick taps, Ekoss targeted the enemy combatant and fired a spread of photon torpedoes at the Jem’Hadar ship.

Ekoss

Going to Warp amidst battle is a contest of Power spends. In this case, three Adversary ships were stuck with Spatial Interference, and Ekoss had disabled the last with photon torpedoes. The Thurston was able to escape unchallenged.

Ekoss saw his panel indicate that the ordinance was on its way and he pulled his electrically burned hands back to the helm, to the warp engine controls. The shift in his attention, the extra rush to fit in the torpedo launch before the helm maneuver narrowed his vision to a black outlined tunnel. He tilted his head slightly to put the warp controls centered his view, checked his navigation sensors and his heading and pushed the ship to warp.

Ekoss

A mid-range shot showed the Thurston coming around one last asteroid, and spitting out a spread of torpedoes. Then the Thurston’s warp nacelles flashed with bright blue light, and the Federation ship was gone fleeing at warp speed. The torpedoes smashed into the Jem’Hadar ship. Its shields flared briefly but failed almost immediately. The first torpedo blasted their starboard warp nacelle, while the second sent chunks of support structure flying into the void.

Ekoss

Ekoss looked over his shoulder at Jatha. “We’re clear of the battlefield, heading to.. federation space… at warp..”

Ekoss

Blackness overcame Ekoss.

Ekoss

Ekoss tilted to the left and tumbled out of his chair, falling to the carpeted deck, unconscious.

💯 (4)

GM

Trekant sat in his chair, smoldering, as his officers busied themselves about the bridge, trying to dislodge their ship from broken space.

“You can’t win them all, Trekant,” explained Valeur, a technicolor image on a TV channel shot through with static. “As our human friends are known to say. All in all, though, I must say the Prokon rather distinguished herself.”

“Thank you, Admiral,” said Trekant, some relief rising up. “It’s just…regrettable that I let Vorraq slip away.”

“Well…stolen vessels? Ghost ships? Tricobalt explosives? With the splash he’s made, there’ll be plenty of leads for our spy network to track him down. But I mean to have him now, if I can.”

“Oh, no no no - I said ‘have’.” Valeur smiled. “Not pursue. Can’t take our ships over the border,” she explained. “We wouldn’t want to start a war! Not for at least, two? Three months?”

😱

GM

“He’s still got a pulse, Doctor!” Cadet Solomon shouted to Cadet Gorca, having rushed to kneel at Ekoss’s side. He kept his fingers there, the exaggerated pulses from the holodeck’s force fields letting him know that Ekoss’s presence in this simulation was still holding on. “Just hang on, Ekoss! Hey.” A flicker from Ekoss’s console briefly commanded his attention. “Hey! Ekoss, we just…we just crossed the border! I think we…I think we just…” He couldn’t suppress a laugh, looking in the faces of the other Cadets, and then again at Ekoss, as the ship rushed into Federation space, its holds full of the grateful survivors of the SS Kobayashi Maru.

😱 (2) 🎊 (3)

Jatha

“Bridge to sickbay, we need a medical antigrav carrier up here. And organize efforts forwards tending the crew and our guests, coordinate with security teams if you need more people.”

“All decks, stand down to yellow alert. Let’s focus on recovery, you all did more than anyone could’ve asked. When we get back to the Starbase, first round is on me. Captain out.”

💯 🙏

GM

This was a Reversal. I spent 2 Threat per player, for a total of 10, and could thus end the Scene unilaterally and begin a new one - my last chance to introduce whatever elements I’d need to arrange the no-win scenario.

With an untreated Lethal Injury, technically Ekoss should have died at the end of the Scene (exited the simulation). However, a Reversal cannot be used to kill characters outright. Because I ended the Scene prematurely, I let Ekoss’s Injury persist into the next Scene, for possible treatment.

The bridge door flies open. It’s zh’Vhynnal. She’s out of breath and gripping a gash on her right shoulder.

“Captain! Doctor! I’ve been calling and calling. Our comm badges aren’t working!”

She takes a pause, catching her breath.

“They’re here. They’re in the corridors, invisible. After the repairs I…I stopped by sickbay.” She swallows. “Singh’s dead. Barriere’s dead. They’re using…” she glances at her own shoulder, “…blades, they’re…staking out positions by the turbolifts. When I left sickbay I ran into a group and barely got away. I locked a door behind me and used the Jefferies tubes to get to the upper deck.”

An alarm tone sounds from the security console: “UNAUTHORIZED WEAPONS DISCHARGE: DECK 11”

😰 (2) 😱

GM

Trekant frowned, and shook his head inquisitively. “So…what do you…”

“When the forward attack ship became compromised,” she explained, “I thought to put it to a different use, for just such a contingency. I ordered its captain to quietly beam aboard a strike team - shrouded, of course - placed in tactical locations about the ship. I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but I’ve learned that one must not, ah, ‘keep all one’s eggs in one basket.’”

Trekant stared, as they shared a smile.

“They’ll take command and bring it back over the border. Or…” she said dismissively, “if it becomes necessary for them to destroy the vessel, well, we will have at least neutralized this wildcard of ‘The Painter.’ ‘Family’, after all…sometimes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

GM (Interlude)

The Lieutenant Commander set his now-empty soup bowl down on their shared desk, moving aside a PADD and some water glasses. “Allright,” he let out, rubbing his face. “This has been an interesting, if irregular exam. I think, Captain…we’ve brought them to the brink…it’s time to wrap this up. Is the word given?”

“They have accomplished much,” said Saavik. “But they have not yet faced the no-win scenario.”

He sighed. “Captain, it’s simply not safe to proceed at this point! Cadet Jatha’s dropped his comm badge - we’ve lost his heartbeat and oxygen sats. The instructions were to wear it at all times, so that…”

“You monitor them in multiple ways,” she said, unflappable. “Medical sensor arrays are trained on the Cadets. Safety protocols are engaged. You said that no Cadet had ever received a real injury. Two Cadets have successfully received simulated injuries while remaining unharmed. And you did not object when Solomon removed his badge.”

“That’s because it kept sending us his vitals! Perfect vitals. That in itself is an irregularity worth ending this simulation to investi -“

“Irregularities aside, Solomon’s behavior has been acceptable, in my observations, given his past psychological profile. His character is changing, for the better. Because of what is taking place here.” She held his gaze.

“Need I remind you, Captain, that our own educational assistant is now in danger of losing his un-archived medium-term memory data - a fate akin to…serious brain trauma, even death! He is vulnerable,” he began.

“The Cadets know this. What will they do, given that knowledge?” she asked.

“And you’re willing to risk his life to find out?”

He chose that risk. Lieutenant Commander, we still hold all the strings. Each moment we allow these Cadets to face this crisis, delivers increasing benefit. The word is not given. I understand my responsibility, for all aspects of their lives. Proceed.”

💯 (2) 

Scene: Plan B

To help tip the scales towards the opposition, I started the Scene with the Traits:

- Tactical Positions Occupied
- Departments in Disarray
- Comms Jamming Device
- Kobayashi Maru Survivors

I declared 10 shrouded Jem’Hadar warriors, and could pay Threat to introduce more who “had been there all along.”

GM

For a beat, the Thurston bridge is silent, but for the insistent alarm tone.

Solomon, kneeling, his fingers still on Ekoss’s neck, instinctively clutches his comm badge.

Marvin

Marvin performs First Aid on Ekoss. He would no longer die (exit the simulation) at the end of the Scene. He could not yet perform Tasks, without being Healed.

“We’ll take it from here, Mr. Solomon.” The EEH gently but firmly removed Solomon’s fingers from Ekoss’s neck and reflexively grabbed the emergency medkit underneath the helm station.

“No worries, Mr. ch’Vaallen, you’ll be up and making us all motion-sick in no time.” The patter came unbidden. Bedside manner, triage, all there underneath everything, waiting. He inspected Ekoss’s pupillary reflex and antennae tone, reporting status to the still-Cardassian form of Dr. Gorca. “Ocular involvement…dysrhythmia…” He turned over the Andorian’s arms, stoically taking in the jagged, blue-black holographic burns. “Class IV plasma burns. The sooner we can get him to a biobed, the better. Applying 12ccs of alkysine.” He pressed the hypospray to the helmsman’s neck with a hiss. Ekoss’s shallow breathing deepened and he blinked a few times as if clearing his vision.

“There. Not going into shock feels much better, I’d expect?” He held a firm hand on Ekoss’s chest lest he attempt to stand in his condition. “Let’s just wait for the antigrav, shall we?” His eyes went to zh’Vhynnal’s bloodied form. “If it’s coming.”

💯

Ekoss

“Are the … transporters down?“ Ekoss asked.

GM

Our Zone Map, at a scale covering the entire USS Thurston, was organized as follows:

- each chamber (e.g. the bridge) was a Zone
- some chambers (e.g. Main Engineering) had multiple Zones (e.g. Balcony)
- “Corridors” was a Zone adjacent to each chamber
- “Turbolifts” and “Jefferies Tubes” were Zones adjacent to corridors
- unless explicitly stated, each chamber was assumed to be on a different deck.

Thus a journey from Main Engineering to the bridge would involve a movement of 4 Zones, from:

Main Engineering ->
Corridors ->
Turbolifts ->
Corridors ->
Bridge

A Sprint Task with 3 Momentum spent could cross that entire distance. For characters already in the corridors on the right deck, a single Movement Minor Action could take that character into the chamber.

The rules for Starship Combat allow for faster movement throughout the ship, but this was Melee Combat.

“If you need sickbay, I’m afraid it’ll have to be transporters,” says zh’Vhynnal. “The corridors aren’t safe. When I was down there, sickbay was…abandoned - it might actually be a place you could hide, and treat Mr. ch’Vaallen. But I can’t say whether the transporter rooms are staffed. And I think we’d need to use wired communication channels - these are useless,” she touches her badge, “unless we can figure out what’s jamming them. Otherwise, there’s that food replicator in the briefing room - I bet we could reconfigure it to synthesize medicines, or tools.”

GM

First Omoro’kun, a Major NPC, is the Commanding Officer of the boarding party.

Values:
- We Go Into Battle As Dead
- Victory is Life
- The Founders Will Be Done

First Omoro’kun strode down the corridor swiftly, but quietly, undeterred by the chaos beginning to simmer throughout the Thurston. His eyepiece superimposed a map and other information over his vision, and he absorbed as many details as he could. The width and height of the corridors, the bulkhead construction, the panels, guessed intentions behind the architecture.

This was not the first alien vessel he’d subdued, in the two years since his birth. That it might be his last, was merely the will of the Founders in action. He’d seen a squad of 10 commandeer a vessel of this scale. It was a testament to the achievement of all the Founders’ works, that this could be so. That he had more than this at his command gave him little doubt of their chances. The only question was what outcome they could achieve.

GM

“Lieutenant Commander - something’s wrong,” sh’Thenehr had said to Brel. She’d just stepped out of Main Engineering on an errand - a few paces down the corridor, she turned back and re-emerged briefly. “There’s shouting in the corridor. I’m going to investigate.” she’d said, disappearing through the sliding doors again. There’d been no further sign of her, now 2 minutes later - seemingly an eternity, as the Engineering staff continued to work at full speed to restore the ship’s damaged systems.

Jatha

Of course they did, Jatha thought. “Mr Solomon, verify our subspace uplink to Starfleet Command and start working to restore full communications; priority that we can communicate internally. zh’Vhynnal - start working on that replicator.” He gave a worried glance at Ekoss, Marvin and Gorca, but at least Ekoss was stable. “We’ll have treat Ekoss here, if you can. And you,” he said pointing to a crewman standing by one of the bridge consoles, “distribute phasers to the bridge crew. They’re behind that panel, hopefully even compression rifles but any phasers will do. Sompek, sound the intruder alert - all decks.”

Without looking, he pushed the internal communications controls, opening a channel to Brel in main engineering. “Brel, close bulkheads and secure location. If you can’t keep the enemy from invading I want you to eject the warp core and blow it up as soon as we’re at a safe distance. Acknowledged?”

👍

GM

There are Special Rules for Jem’Hadar Firsts, regarding their Objectives in the Gamma Quadrant sourcebook. I set 3 Objectives for Omoro’kun and his team:

1. Establish a means to destroy the vessel
2. Take the Painter into custody
3. Seize command of the ship

I shared with the players that there were 3, but not yet what they were, though they could be surmised.

A crew member ran past Omoro’kun in the opposite direction, frantic and oblivious. There had been little to surprise his squad since their arrival. Most unexpected was the uniforms: no dissidents, no hint of the Maquis: Starfleet, one and all. A notable detail, which must be reported to the Admiral - but not yet. They couldn’t risk de-activating the jamming device they’d brought aboard. They must achieve supremacy aboard the vessel, then use the ship’s own communication systems to relay all information back to the fleet.

He spotted another crew member, frantically trying to use their badge to signal for help. That uniform again: the pips at the neck, at least, gave indication of the person’s importance. Always a dilemma: show more care to the officers, for their potential intelligence value? Or neutralize them first - for the attendant effects on morale and organization?

The human cursed, and drew a sidearm. He considered whether he’d need to de-shroud and silence this individual, when she sped off down the hall, away from his target. Just as good, for now. He held his shroud in place: a muscle clenched, mostly effortless through instinct, mastery, and the drug coursing through his veins.

His destination approaching, his eyepiece told of his force assembling at its entrance. He grew focused, performing a last mental exercise on how to handle the officers within.

Sompek

Sompek felt as if a nightmare were coming true. The fear that had started small in his gut as they warped away from the battle area with the enemy stymied and the entire complement of the Kobayashi Maru rescued. Plans and tactics started to pile up in his mind. The instinctive problem-solving instinct from countless Klin Zha matches as well as tactical exercises in the Elite Command Academy. It all came down to this. He spared a glance at the Captain, and was buoyed by his steely presence and a quick and urgent nod. He had suggestions to make to the Captain. But it all started with this. He tapped the intraship comm switch. “All decks! Anyone who can hear this! Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!”

👍 (2)

GM

Zeoh 1, a Notable NPC, is an engineer among the boarding party.

Traits: Vorta, Hologram
Values:
- A Computer is an Ordered System, No Matter How Alien

Here he did a Create Advantage to get Console Access. Normally at Difficulty 2, I reduced this to 1 because of Tactical Positions Occupied.

I treated this as making it Possible for him to perform Tasks with an Assist from the Starship, though I reasoned that each one would constitute an Override at +1 Difficulty.

Zeoh idly swirled the hair falling from his topknot, a habit he fell into whenever in deep concentration. We see him from below, his hypnotic eyes staring down at the camera. After a moment’s pause, his fingers stretch out, resting on a glass plate.

From over his shoulder, we see the Vorta engaging the console. As unnerving as it was to work next to a body bleeding out on the floor, the thrill of the task itself was nearly all-consuming.

“Yes,” he said inwardly. “It is quite like those assets seized from the Maquis. The question is how much I can do from here.”

It helped greatly that the console’s former owner remained signed-in. Having got his bearings, Zeoh glanced briefly at his “bodyguard” in the corner of the room, and began to make moves.

😱 (2)

Marvin

The EEH swallowed hard. First, a minefield, then a space battle, and now a boarding party. The noose was tightening.

He knew his duties. His science station sat empty as he knelt over Ekoss. He could upgrade the sensors, maybe invert the deflector array and…his thoughts were interrupted by the weight of a phaser in his hand, the gold-shirted crewman continuing on to the rest of the bridge crew. He looked at the weapon in one hand, a hypospray in the other. “Do no harm…” He had taken that oath once. He couldn’t remember when, but the words still hung there. He holstered the phaser and tried not to think about it.

He found himself walking to zh’Vhynnal and applying a dermal regenerator to her wounds. “Hold still, it’ll scar if you don’t.” Gently knitting the flesh together again, he whispered wryly, “Remember: you have to take care of this body now. It may be with you for a while.”

Brel

Brel took in the captain’s words, and in an uncharacteristic display, hesitated for 2.3 seconds. Intruders, aboard his ship. His instincts were to continue work, keep to tasks, defend ship only when threats to collective were detected…the crew, threats to the crew.

He looked to the engineers around him, eyes wide and staring about for invisible enemies, staring to him. These weren’t drones. He would not throw their lives away as such.

“Aye, Captain. We’ll be ready.” Walking to a nearby panel, he input his command codes and opened it. Removing a number of phasers, he began handing them out. “Samuels, Morgan, man the door. With our shields up, the boarding party is most likely Jem’Hadar. They will be shrouded and well-armed. Do not hesitate to fire. They will not.”

He turned the remainder of the assembled engineers “Everyone else: to your duties. The ship is boarded, but it is not taken. The bridge crew are defending the ship, and we will do no less. To your duties. And may the Jem’hadar find no victory here.” He charged the phaser. “No life.”

💯 (2)

GM

Ensign zh’Vhynnal worked to Heal Ekoss’s injury. Normally a Control + Medicine Task, we went off-rules for this, having her use her Reason + Engineering Discipline to replicate medicine, at the normal Difficulty for Healing: 2. She rolled an extra success, and as an Ally NPC, this was added to the Momentum pool for the players.

Ensign zh’Vhynnal listens carefully to Gorca’s instructions. A compound of 35% Dermaline, 25% Lectrazine, and 40% Colony Stimulating Factor Omega, bound as a nanolipid colloid. The right drugs could bring Ekoss back, but they’d have to be synthesized here on the bridge. A job for a programmer.

She steps into the briefing room, alone. The sight of the replicator reminds her how just hours ago, they’d all sat at this empty table eating together. Into the quiet, she addresses the machine: “Hypovial please: 35% Dermaline, 25% Lectrazine, and 40% CSF-Omega packaged in a nanocolloid.” Maybe it’ll just work? For a beat, the camera catches her waiting, a handcam watching her from across the large desk.

“Unable to access templates for medical supplies,” comes the reply, almost startling her. “Food and beverages only.”

“Right,” she says, and slid open a side panel, revealing a narrow console. “Pushing buttons, story of my life.” Her fingers tap the console steadily, interrupted by occasional verbal commands. Reconfiguring the device through its console, she suddenly winces, flashing back to the morning, when she’d argued with Singh. Then, her last visit to sickbay - Michelle…

She stops in her tracks as the next insight hits her: Michelle’s not dead. Not really. She’s not real. This…isn’t real…except in the way that it is. And I’m a part of it. She pushes a few more buttons, then commands again: “Hypospray: 35% Dermaline, 25% Lectrazine, 40% CSF-Omega all put together as a nanocolloid.” She hears the familiar whoosh as the vial springs into existence.

In seconds she’s back on the bridge, at Ekoss’s side. She slaps the vial into the hypospray Gorca hands her. “Just one more button to push,” she said, and - checking for a nod from Gorca - delivers it.

Ekoss

Ekoss felt the cool medical solution flowing through his body from the injection site. Moments later he felt the wounds he’d sustained from the overloaded panel fading. His blood chemistry realigned, his vision cleared, his over-stressed synapses relaxed and resumed their usual duties… He wasn’t a doctor, he didn’t know what all the chemicals in that hypo did to him. But he knew the effect.

👍

Ekoss

He was BACK. IN. ACTION.

👍 (2)

Ekoss

He rose to his feet (with a little help from Zh’Vynnal, who wasn’t so bad after all) and reported.

“Ready for Duty Captain. Got one of those rifles for me?”

Jatha

Pulling phaser rifles out of the armory required an Opportunity Cost of 1 Momentum per rifle, and an overall Escalation Cost increasing Threat by 2.

“Take your pick Ekoss. Glad to see you’re with us again, we’ll need every man. I think they’ll head for Main Engineering and the Bridge as primary targets, and when they do - don’t hold back.”

Ekoss

Ekoss took one of the rifles, making sure it was pointed at the floor, checked its charge (100%), checked its safety (on), checked it’s setting (which he changed from mid-range stun to lethal just short of disintegration) and briefly reviewed his training on the rifle. Then he stepped behind the helm console and trained it in the general direction of the port-side entrance to the bridge, still aimed at the floor (per that training) but ready to go.

Ekoss

He looked to Jatha and Sompek. “Do we wait for them to come, or go hunting?”

Zrr!klt (Marvin)

Movement Minor Action from a warrior, thenRanged Attack on Zrr!klt. I bought an extra d20 with Threat. The 6d6 damage, with Effects, was enough to inflict an Injury, and I spent 1 Threat to make it Lethal. As an uncontrolled character in the Scene, Zrr!klt could not Avoid this Injury.

I gained 1 Threat from this Injury, according to the Special Rules for Jem’Hadar Firsts.

The warrior had also rolled a Complication, which we created as Loss of Ketracel.

Zrr!klt’s antennae were ramrod-straight in alert and excitement. Guarding a single, morose Human was not his ideal posting, but a Jem’Hadar boarding party? That was certainly more interesting.

The door to the brig opened. No one was there.

Zrr!klt tasted violence in the air, fear, and something he couldn’t place. “I’m happy you’re here!” the cheerful vocoder cried out. “Finally, a worthy battle! Come closer! I would sample your Jem’Hadar flesh before I send you on your way!”

The door closed. The Xindi-Insectoid’s body rotated slowly, his mandibles tasting the air. A flash of movement. With a screech, one of Zrr!klt’s lower limbs struck out and caught the now-visible soldier on the thigh, throwing him off-balance. Another limb extended his phaser, only a moment too slow. A bolt of deadly plasma lanced out and struck the security crewman.

Zr!klt crumpled like a puppet with its strings suddenly cut. Only his wide, insectoid head lolled side-to-side. A distorted chuckle sounded. “Heh, heh, heeeee…g-g-good. Worthy. Thank…” And silence.

===

The soldier strode forward and allowed his fallen adversary a single nod. A true battle was rare and to be commended.

A loud hiss pierced the air and a jet of green-yellow liquid hit the Jem’Hadar square in the face. Smoke quickly billowed from his skin and ketrecel weeped from his tube as the corrosive acid ate away at the soldier. Without pain or fear, the Jem’hadar shook the fluid off himself as best he could. He would wear this scar with pride.

Checking his tube of White, he found it empty, the remainder having leaked out completely. Fine. All the more reason to accelerate the takeover of this ship.

“Heh, heh…h….” Zrr!klt’s head stopped moving, and was still.

😢

GM

The scarred warrior takes a breath, and turns his eyes to the prisoner behind the force field.

Konig stares, on his feet, the blood draining from his face.

“THErE iS A pRiSOnER iN tHe bRIg,” came a voice into Omoro’kun’s earpiece. The voice was garbled, digitized, distorted using the spare, pre-programmed intervals Zeoh had arranged amidst the communications interference. “pOSSiBLy MAqUIs.”

He flicked his eyes in a quick pattern - a silent command to his eyepiece: ACKNOWLEDGE.

Who was it? Who were the passengers in the hold?

GM

On Sompek’s console, UNAUTHORIZED WEAPONS DISCHARGE alerts are proliferating. The latest: from the brig.

Marvin

“Captain? A word?” The EEH retreated to his Science alcove, still trying to ignore the odd weight of the phaser at his hip. “As your science officer, I need to ensure that you’re still aware of the large civilian presence aboard this ship. They need to be gotten to safety.”

He eyed the officers testing their phaser capacities and readying for battle. “They do not need a cavalry, they do not need a valorous charge, they need to be off this ship and rescued, now. Get the civilians to the escape pods and launch them, that has to be our priority.”

He leaned back, suddenly self-conscious. “Sir,” he added belatedly.

Jatha

Jatha turned to his instructor, taking in Marvin’s ungency and honesty. He was very much still a sum of his parts, of which a big part was the original EMH. He was absolutely right; there was nothing else he could do than agree. He immediately went over to the science console.

“And as long as we give them a proper resistance at key locations, hopefully they will be swarming there like Rigellian butterflies. But you’re right, it has been and still is. We need to act, not react.”

Jatha

Jatha turned to adress the bridge crew. Most were busy performing their duties, but this would have to take precedence.

“Listen up everyone. We need to get those evacuees of the ship. As long as they’re here, they are in danger and could be used as a leverage towards us. If we loose the ship with them aboard, all this has been for nothing. I won’t allow that.”

“We don’t have much time, communications are being jammed; possibly transporters as well. I’m open to any daring, unexpected ideas you might have. Give me options how to get them to the escape pods and launch them, but give them quickly.”

Ekoss

“Until we’re sure the transporters are offline, I’d suggest site to site transporting them to the escape pods and ordering the full pods to eject from here. Unless we want to give some of them our shuttlecraft.”

Ekoss

He took a breath - “A point of reminder for the Captain, If we send 300 civilians off in escape pods, the crew of the Thurston will be stranded here, even if things go to the worst.”

Jatha

“Noted. And they’d need at least two of our shuttles in case there’s any complications. Is there any way at all to make room for us all, using all shuttles and escape pods? They’re designed to operate for weeks or months, but if they only have to last days - would it be possible then?”

👍

Ekoss

“The Escape pods are designed for four people each, but can stretch to six. The shuttles can take six passengers and a crew of two, but at least one of those two crew needs to be a trained pilot, either civilian, or a starfleet officer. We’re all trained how to pilot a shuttle. Some are just better at it than others.” Ekoss grinned.

Jatha

“There must be at least one or two trained pilots among them, or we will provide from our ranks. That should be enough for everyone, including us. I’m not going to draw straws, but if it comes to that, it’ll be Starfleet Officers that stay behind. If any of you disagree, say so now.”

🤘

Sompek

We planned a Task to apply an Anesthizine Hazard Trait into any Zone(s) of the ship desired. It was to be a Control + Security Task, Assisted by the ship’s Structure + Medicine. Each character within such Zones would roll a challenge die (or 2, if the Trait was strengthened), an Effect from which would give them a Sedated Trait. The players didn’t end up doing this.

“Captain, I will go where I can do the most good. And there are more qualified pilots. I am volunteering to remain behind if needed. If it can make a difference. Indeed, I would be honored. But I’ve also checked our Intruder Defense system. The computer confirms that our Anesthizine gas is safe for humans and Bajorans, and Andorians.” He glanced quickly at his friend Ekoss. “But will incapacitate Jem’Hadar. I suggest that if we can use forcefields or other methods to confine enemy forces to a limited area, we can flood that area with the gas. And hopefully confine them.”

Ekoss

Ekoss looked at Jatha.

“I am an Andorian Warrior. If my ship is to be a battlefield, then my place is on that field. I am a pilot, I don’t like the idea of abandoning my ship.”

He took a deep breath.

“BUT I’m a Starfleet officer and if my C.O. orders me to pilot civilians out of the danger zone.. “ he grimaced “I will follow my orders.”

🤘

Marvin

“Anesthezine will incapacitate even the Jem’Hadar, but not forever. Not with their biology. And there’s no guarantee they will turn visible when unconscious.” The EEH moved into the circle, re-adopting the lecturing tone, “Force fields aren’t biometric. We’ll trap civilians, too. Corralling hundreds of unconscious people onto escape pods and hunting down a sleeping, invisible boarding party over 15 decks? That leaves very little leeway for error.”

“We need to buy time. 5ccs of cordrazine should counteract the anesthezine. As we sweep the ship, we can rouse the civilians and direct them to the pods and shuttles. We’ll need hyposprays and medical replicators, more than we have here…”

He looked to zh’Vhynnal. “You’ve been to Sickbay, you know the tactical layout. If you can get us there safely, we can re-take it and synthesize enough to distribute to the whole crew. We do still have someone in Sickbay.” He seemed embarrassed for a moment, and scratched the back of his neck. “Someone for whom a boarding party should pose little threat to…”

👍 (2) 😀

Jatha

“Perhaps we’ll need to give them a target worthy of attention, something to draw them away from the civilians. They must have come here for the ship, or the Painter. What if he were ‘sighted’ near the shuttlebay? Do we have any confirmed locations for Jem’Hadar that they don’t know we know about?”

👍 (2)

Ekoss

“What if the painter made an announcement, or a call, from the shuttle bay ? Or some other location we hold? How about a hologram of the painter in the shuttle bay. When they go inside to capture him we drop the force field and blow them into space. “

👍 (3)

GM

The force field was down. The plasma rifle was raised, aimed at his chest, as he pleaded.

“Traitors…dissidents…what?” Konig stammered. “No…no, there’s no dissidents aboard, please!”

“I’m telling you! There’s no dissidents. This is a Starfleet vessel. I’ve talked to the Captain. Captain Jatha, of Starfleet…”

The warrior paused, processing.

“Please! Stop this!” he cried, glancing at Zrr’klt’s body, crumpled in the corner. “These are good people. I am the dissident! Look at my file. I will do…anything, I’ll…I’ll submit myself to the justice of the Cardassian government for my crimes. Just, please, spare these people!

😱 (2)

Jatha

“Ekoss, you read my mind. But we need to move quickly.”

Sompek, prepare the tactical console for Anesthizine release - set it up so anyone could operate it. After that, take Ekoss and anyone else you need to form a security team and get ready to go on the offense. If we lose the bridge, protect the evacuation efforts and main engineering.

Jatha

“Listen up everyone. We’re facing the possibility of losing control of the ship. The plan is to put the evacuees in escape pods and continue to travel away at warp to a safe distance. I’ve ordered Engineering to stand by for emergency core ejection and detonation - that would leave the Thurston stranded and the civilians out of reach from Jem’Hadar for now. We’re operating under the assumption that Dominion forces will not cross into Federation space.”

Jatha

Rally, to build Momentum. This also kicked-off a timetable for evacuation of the Kobayashi Maru Survivors. We modeled that after the rulebook’s guide to All Hands, Abandon Ship: 50% to be evacuated by the end of the current Round, the remaining 50% at the end of the next.

Looking around the faces on the bridge, Jatha saw a lot of worry melt away from the crews’ faces, their determination growing. I bet Sompek has a Klingon proverb for this situation, he thought, slightly amused. They had a lot of combat related wisdom. He gave a quick nod, and the bridge crew burst into activity. Every crewman started prepping the Thurston. Jatha sat down to prep the people manning her.

The camera closes in on Jatha’s command panel as he’s opening wired communications to selected locations. Cargo bays, Main Engineering, Armory, Shuttlebay… all reporting green. Channel open.

“Crew of the Thurston, this is the captain speaking.”

As Jatha keeps talking, the camera switches to the dark interior of an escape pod, systems coming to life and panels lighting up with instructions on evacuation preparations.

“We’ll take the evacuees from the Maru out of the equation. Follow ‘Abandon ship’ procedures for maximum capacity, launching shuttles and pods.”

In the cargo bay, we see shuttles coming to life in the same manner, just waiting for someone to enter the pilots’ seat.

“All Starfleet personnel is to facilitate evacuation of civilians, but we will not give the ship to the enemy.”

The Thurston flies toward the camera at warp; as she passes the camera he scars of battle are clearly vissible, but she flies true; still unbeaten.

“Fight them at every corner; they will not hesitate to fire and neither should you. Bridge out.”

❤️

Jatha

Just as Jatha closes the comms and stand up, he’s handed a Phaser Rifle. “So, let’s do our part as well.”

💯

GM

I spent 2 Threat to Create a Complication: Suppressive Fire. That doesn’t take up a Turn. I accounted for this by indicating that a warrior NPC was now on the balcony, and could then be targeted by player Tasks.

Then a Movement Minor Action and a Ranged Attack on Brel. Normally at Difficulty 2, I reduced that Difficulty to 1 because of the Suppressive Fire. I bought 1d20 with Threat to help ensure a hit.

I wanted to inflict Injuries quickly & decisively. My initial damage roll wasn’t enough, so I spent 1 Threat to re-roll some dice. That only resulted in 4 damage, so I spent another 1 Threat to bump it to 5, inflicting the Injury.

In Main Engineering, preparations are underway. The hubbub is suddenly silenced, at the sounding of two loud clangs outside the closed entrance.

We see a shot from the balcony, an array of Engineers and nearby staff below, taking position and drawing phasers, ready to defend the beating heart of the Thurston. The camera pulls back to reveal a Jem’Hadar warrior de-shrouding on the catwalk, who immediately rains down suppressive fire, sending the floor into chaos.

After a moment of mayhem, the entrance finally opens. In strides another warrior, rifle drawn, focused - who picks out the most prominent figure, the one not panicking, standing most resolute, protecting his Collective. The warrior takes a final note of the pips on his neck, and fires.

😱

Brel (Marvin)

As a controlled character, Brel could Avoid the Injury, which he did by creating 2 Threat - then a Create Advantage to eject the warp core without the vacuum safeties. Normally at Difficulty 2, it was +1 because of Suppressive Fire, but -1 because of Brel’s Engineering Department advantage, back to 2.

Brel’s head snapped back with the force of the shot, and he tumbled sideways onto a nearby panel. As he lay still, the smell and sounds of plasma blasts pierced the buzzing darkness. He waited for the familiar void to wash over him. But it never did.

Face-down, he cracked open his right eyelid. There was no input being emitted from his ocular implant, which seemed to have taken the brunt of the blast. His face was pressed against the smooth LCARS panel, on which was displayed the starting sequences of safely jettisoning the warp core.

He thought of the captain’s orders. He thought of Jatha, breakfast in hand, bold and forward, the crew looking to him implicitly. He thought of his new crew, the engineers under his stead. He could not play dead forever. He had seconds. He ran the numbers. His hand began typing in commands…

👍 (2) 🥺 💯

Brel (Marvin)

To ensure success, Brel challenged the Directive Be Worthy of Starfleet, behaving recklessly and endangering his staff in the room, earning 1 Determination. He spent this Determination using his Value Protect My Collective to get a critical success. He bought even more dice with Threat and got extra success, spending the Momentum to Create Advantage: Engineering Bracing. He’d successfully telegraphed to his staff to hold on tight.

It was difficult from this angle, but possible. He typed in the commands:

SILENT MODE: ON
Continuing in silent mode...

BEGIN WARP CORE EJECT PROCEDURE
DECOMPRESSION SAFETIES: OFF
Error.  Jettisoning the warp core with decompression safeties is not advised.

SAFETIES OVERRIDE, COMMAND CODE BREL-PI-ALPHA-SEVEN-TWO-FIVE
Command code accepted.

SILENT MODE: OFF
BEGIN PROCEDURE ON VOCAL MARK
Ackn...

A rough hand clasped his shoulder, turning him around. A stoic Jem’Hadar soldier leveled a plasma rifle inches from his chest.

All around the two Engineering decks, the red Starfleet pipe lighting of intruder alert turned a specific gold-and-black pattern. Brel saw engineers in his periphery immediately hug the nearest stable pillar or brace. He felt pride.

“Mark!!” he cried, and the world imploded.

❤️ (4)

GM

I introduced the Trait Vacuum to the Engineering Zones as a 2d6 Hazard. Each character exposed would roll 2d6 and take that much stress. If an effect was rolled, they’d lose their grip unless protected by a Trait. Both warriors rolled effects and were swept out into space.

We see Brel, hanging on for dear life amidst the swirl of debris, then his view. The warrior stares at the camera, his face set, his hand outstretched, as he’s swept backwards towards the channel where the core has descended.

Noise fills the audio track, the life support systems working overtime to fill the room with breathable air, the engineers clinging and gasping. A plasma rifle flies across the room, then the warrior from the balcony.

GM

Omoro’kun performed a Direct Task to have Zeoh deploy Internal Containment Fields, enabling him to perform another Task (Zeoh had already spent his Turn to Create Advantage). In addition to Omoro’kun’s Assist, the Thurston itself provided an Assist, helping to meet the Difficulty of 2 (normally 1 but +1 from the Override that Zeoh had to perform).

Zeoh followed the stats of the Vorta Scientist from the Gamma Quadrant Sourcebook (though I added a Focus), which also includes a Knowledge of a Thousand Species Special Rule allowing him to re-roll a d20 in situations like this.

From the hallway, Omoro’kun heard the din, saw the metal doors pull even tighter and stay fixed in their place, rigid. A faint breath of dust kicked-up and then vanished. Alarms were ringing. Sounds in the walls: emergency bulkheads? It was not hard to discern what happened, and he made a quick calculation of all the ways this could disrupt their plans. He spoke aloud, through his communicator.

“bREacH iN mAiN ENgiNEerING,” came the garbled voice into Zeoh’s earpiece. “NEEd ImmEDIatE ASsiSTanCE.”

“I see it,” said Zeoh, again the shot through the console glass, his fingers dancing.

🤘

GM

A resonant, glassy tone sounds as a containment field is drawn across Main Engineering, from floor to ceiling. We see shots of the engineers, releasing their grip, now on their feet, taking deep breaths. An engineer lets out a relieved sigh, then we see shock upon his face, and the camera pans to reveal Brel, still holding on, on the other side of the field.

😱 (2)

GM

There was a shudder throughout the Engineering decks. An overall shift in background noise - a trained ear would know the warp nacelles had come offline. Alarms escalated and accumulated. The ship itself seemed to be responding to bodily stress. A murmur of voices grew, anxiety was bringing the throng to a halt.

“COLONISTS!”

The crowd stopped fully, and grew silent, all heads turning towards Captain Lin.

“You’ve been through HELL. And you shouldn’t have to do this. But we need to MOVE. I don’t know what’s happening up there, other than this: the Thurston’s captain and crew are laying a path for us. We need to walk that path as swiftly as possible. Follow the officers. Get YOURSELF, and EVERYONE AROUND YOU into an escape pod or shuttle. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. Let’s go!”

❤️ (2) 👍

GM

2 Threat to Keep Initiative, then a Create Advantage from a Jem’Hadar Warrior - with an Assist from another - to make Transporter Room 2 Secured. I had hoped to use this to allow the Jem’Hadar to beam themselves around the ship, and/or possibly prevent the players from using the Transporters Task.

On the bridge, internal systems and security oversight consoles tell of sudden trauma in the ship. Weapons fire reported in Transporter Room 2, and more significantly in Main Engineering. On the viewscreen, the stars rush to a halt, a cloud of escape pods issuing forth from the hull at the edges of the screen. Ekoss’s console tells of the sudden standstill, Marvin’s of the warp core ejection, and Sompek’s shows security override commands being executed by an officer somewhere aboard the ship: “BREACH CONTAINMENT SUCCESSFUL.”

The LCARS display shows an abstract representation of Main Engineering, indicating the successful force field bisecting it. Stylized bidpedal figures are dotted around the floor - one lone figure lies behind the field, an ominous red circle glowing around him.

👍

Sompek

Create Advantage Task to create a Computer Lockout against Zeoh, an Obtain Information spend to find out where the Dominion engineer was located, and a further Create Advantage spend to adjust the fields to place Brel on the non-vacuum side.

Sompek’s fingers flew across his console. “Captain! Computer functions successfully locked out. Only command crew, or anyone you designate can access computer functions. In addition, I have located the console used to gain unauthorized access. The access was made from a Science Lab on Deck 8. The signed-in user is science crew person, Davoni Grax. Adding that location to our tactical map. I’m assuming that they are not the responsible party. If whoever the user is has sufficient skill, he or she may try again. But for the moment, they are locked out!” Sompek’s eyes were drawn to the various commands that had been issued from the unauthorized user. The search allowed him to trace actions physically throughout the ship, on a wireframe view, the commands leading like active lines throughout the ship. “Computer, access internal and external visual scan. Warp core ejection port area.” He saw what his instincts told him to look for. Brel, the xB. Their friend and comrade and crew mate, trapped outside, on the edge of death, hanging on for his life. “Computer, reduce field strength next to Lieutenant Commander Brel. Pull him in. Dissolve the containment field to allow him to be pulled in.”

“Request denied. Safety protocols forbid reduction in-“.

“Override! Command Code Sompek. Praxis. 2293 Alpha!

“Command override accepted. Adjusting field intensity as per commands.”

Sompek

Sompek wanted to reach out and help pull Brel in, but of course he couldn’t. So he watched as the engineer was pulled in toward the field, and he saw the sparkling field waver and shimmer as the engineer was pulled toward it. Then, just before he came into contact, a tiny hole appeared in the field. Enough to pull him closer. Then, with a brief flash, the engineer was safely inside and Sompek turned to the Captain. “Lt Commander Brel is safe! He is inside the field! Lifesigns show positive!” He saw Brel’s form, moving, safely inside. “Computer, restore field to full strength!” At that point, Sompek released the deep breath that he didn’t realize he’d been holding.

❤️ (3)

Brel (Marvin)

Warm hands pulled Brel forward and over the railing of the empty warp bay. Despite himself, his extremities trembled violently and his breaths came in ragged gulps from the back of his throat. Looking backwards at the open core port, he saw the too-familiar expanse of airless black and two humanoid forms quickly becoming specks in the distance, until the emergency bulkheads shut and those, too, were gone.

With a unsteady gait, Brel made his way towards the manual intercom. A few engineers moved in to aid him, but he held up a silent hand and pointed them back to their stations. Reaching the wall, he took a few moments to quiet his breathing.

“Main Engineering to Bridge,” Brel rasped, “Warp core ejection successful. Emergency bulkheads deployed. Two Jem’Hadar neutralized. No casualties. Engineering status: within acceptable tolerances.”

❤️ (3)

GM

From beneath the shroud, Omoro’kun stared at the doorway to Main Engineering.

“Status report,” he asked into his communicator.

The same shot of Zeoh, now for the third time. Seen from beneath, the engineer’s features were stark in the light of the science lab’s console. His fingers tapped across the screen, then fell away as the console cast a sudden red glow across his face. After a beat, his bare fist pounded against the camera lens.

“I’m locked out,” he said, pacing the room. He cast a look in the empty corner, where his bodyguard was stationed. “And I need to relocate.”

“We NEeD a neW tARgeT fOR tHe DEtoNatORs,” said Omoro’kun, into Zeoh’s ear.

Omoro’kun waited in the corridor for Zeoh’s reply. The pause was long. The Vorta had become emotional.

“I cAn’T GIvE thAT tO YOu RighT NOw,” the curtness of Zeoh’s tone apparent even through the comms interference. “YoU NEeD tO BuY MOre TImE.”

Omoro’kun took one more look at the doorway to Main Engineering. “Fifth, Sixth:” he said. “New orders -”

🤘

Jatha

“Bold move Brel. Commendations for creative thinking. Bridge out.”

Jatha turned to address Sompek by the tactical station; they were few and to much needed doing. “They clearly have objectives to take control of the ship, and if possible, I’d not face half a dozen warriors beaming in. Let’s keep them from using our systems against us. We all need to push ourselves to do everything we can to stop them from now on!”

He glanced towards Ekoss. The Andorian had a perfect tactical spot. If anyone would burst in through the doors, he’d be ready. Let’s hope we have a few more moments before that happens Jatha thought, feeling the weight of his own rifle.

👍

GM

Create Advantage from a Jem’Hadar warrior: Evacuees Hemmed-In. Again, I had a second warrior Assist the first, adding a d20: that helped raise the odds of success, at the cost of an NPC Turn. This new Complication threatened to interrupt or extend the timetable for evacuation.

Captain Lin led a group of evacuees, his phaser drawn. “Here! There’s more pods down this corridor.” As he turned to face the group, he was immediately thrust forward from a plasma blast to the shoulder.

An exchange of phaser and plasma fire followed, lighting up the walls, as he braced himself against the bulkhead, recovering from the blow. The column of evacuees paused, panic setting in. Armed members were pushing to the front.

“Back!” he shouted, waving with his good arm. “Head back! Head -“

He grimaced, his strength failing, as he heard a second eruption of shots and cries from the rear of the group: they were hemmed-in.

Gorca

Gorca turns to Jatha, holstering a type 2. “Can we beam me into the room the Vorta is in? If i can convince him i am giving myself up, it could buy the rest of you some time.”

Jatha

Jatha let out a deep breath. Ever option was a bad one, but this could give them a fighting chance. He’d made a promise to those evacuees.

“Do it.”

Sompek

A Swift Task (for 2 Momentum) from Sompek to Deploy Security, which took place out of order, due to logistics. Normally at Difficulty 1, it was +1 because of the Swift Task. An Action taken “at a distance”, this was Opposed by Omoro’kun himself, as the equivalent Commander of the opposition vying against Sompek’s forces.

“Captain, a security team is about to enter transporter room 2.” Sompek said breathlessly. Security cameras were out in that corridor, but he could hear their movements as they approached the door. The team leader, Lt Murphy whispered into his commbadge. “We are outside the transporter room. Breaching charge attached to the door. Reading two Jem’Hadar life forms inside.”

“Enter at your discretion, Lieutenant. Try to take them alive. But you must retake the transporter room, no matter what.”

“Acknowledged. I’ll leave the audio pick-up active so you can monitor. Assuming we’re successful, I’ll check in afterwards.”

Sompek could hear a slight catch in the man’s voice. “Passable, sir. Nuq Neh?

qaStaHvIS wa’ ram loSSaD Hugh SIjlaH qetbogh loD.”

“Roger that, sir. We’re going in.”

There was silence. Sompek couldn’t even hear noises or grunts of acknowledgement between them. They were disciplined professionals working silently. And then there was an explosion. Phaser fire. Another, smaller explosion. More phaser fire. Jem’Hadar weapons fire. Crashing. Against a bulkhead from the sounds of it. The noises of Jem’Hadar and Starfleet officers in combat. Grunts of pain. Shouting. In Klingon. And the grunts and threats of Jem’Hadar soldiers. Then there was silence. A long moment of silence that seemed to go on forever. Sompek began to think that his team was dead.

Then Murphy spoke. “Enemy team neutralized. Threat contained. The two Jem’Hadar are alive, but they won’t be threatening anyone anymore. And we might need a maintenance team down here before the next inspection.”

👊 (2)

Sompek

Sompek’s Task succeeded, and I thus considered the 2 Minor NPCs who’d previously Created the Advantage, to be out of the fight. I was losing an alarming number of warriors.

Maj’Qa Lieutenant. Maintain a security presence in the transporter room. And take the prisoners to secure quarters and assign guards to them.” Then he turned to Captain Jatha. “Transporter room two is secure! Two Jem’Hadar injured and taken prisoner. And guards stationed in the transporter room.” Then another alert demanded his attention. “Internal sensors report unauthorized weapons fire in the cargo bay! Near the escape pods! The refugees…”

😱 (2) 👍

Jatha

“Take Ekoss and go there, they don’t stand a chance against the Jem’hadar! It will be a slaughter!”

👍

Gorca

Marvin was not a Primary for his player in this Scene: Brel was. Thus, Marvin could otherwise only perform Difficulty 0 Tasks - but Gorca was able to Direct him to perform a Transporters Task.

Gorca turns to Marvin, while keying his phaser still in his holster.

“Marv, transport me to the room the Vorta is in.”

Marvin

Marvin’s Transporters Task was Difficulty 5:

Base Difficulty: 2
To two different locations: +1 (house rule)

Muttering to himself, the EEH groused, “I would like to do one thing today that isn’t dangerous or insane. Or both.” His hands finished arranging the complex site-to-site transport, checking his figures one more time.

“This will be difficult. The annular confinement beam wasn’t designed to operate this close to its point of origin, or this quickly. The amount of molecular lensing will be dangerous, and I should have corrected for bandwidth interference from the shields. It may take longer than you’re used to. If you feel a loss of cohesion, it’s best to remain as still as possible. Sudden motions would be…not advised. It…” He was babbling, and they had no time.

“Right. Good luck, then.” Gorca. Ekoss. Sompek. He gave each a measured look. “If…I don’t get to say it, after…well done. Very well done, indeed. Energizing…”

GM

Gorca materializes in the science lab. There are few, but notable signs of invasion: the body of a researcher lies still upon the floor, the shelves have been clearly rifled-through, and an array of Federation technology - PADDs, tools, even a hand phaser - lies strewn about a lab table, as if under examination. A Vorta stands at the desk. He’s been packing items from the lab into a kind of streamlined sack of alien design, moving quickly and looking ready to depart. But as the telltale transporter whistle sounds, he whirls around. His eyes are pale, and captivating. They flicker to the corner of the room, just briefly, then remain fixed on yours, as he begins to speak.

“Khioll Vorraq, by the authorities of the Dominion and our client the Cardassian Union, I am placing you under arrest. To the list of crimes of which you are accused, we must now add ‘giving aid to the enemy’: Starfleet. You have piled treason upon treason. And you’ve rejected the Admiral’s offer. She hasn’t empowered me to negotiate, aside from offering this: we know, precisely, the identity of those within the Detapa Council who orchestrated your downfall. These individuals still hold positions of prominence in Cardassian society. On the other side of this - after you’ve cooperated - fully, immediately, and ongoingly, to our satisfaction - you shall have not only their names, but their lives. That’s the kind of clemency we are capable of extending, for one so valuable as you. But this opportunity is fading - almost gone. Our first demands are you, and the ship, now.” Here he stops, not removing his gaze.

👍

Gorca

“I surrender myself to your demands,” the Painter says, hands raised, “but my Maquis first officer has canceled my security and command clearance, so helping you take the ship is not something I can do.”

The Painter sidles around in the corner as if inching his way to a door or other goal, but remains in a non-threatening pose.

“Since I will not be able to punish the Kobayashi Maru traitors, I will warn you to be careful not to fire upon the Changeling that has infiltrated and instigated their ranks to betrayal. I imagine accidentally murdering a god would make your victory short-lived in Admiral Veluer’s eyes.”

👀 😱 🤘 💯

GM

I spent 2 Threat to create a Complication: Arcane Formula; a means of extra skepticism from Zeoh. The Difficulty of the Persuasion would go up by 1. This could have been seen as a Create Problem - just affecting a single Task - but I wanted to keep the Complication around in case it was needed subsequently.

Zeoh’s face reveals a range of emotions. His eyes flick to the corner, then back at yours, angry.

“This is a grave claim, Vorraq. One I’m forced to take seriously. And if it’s another trick?” he asks. “You’ll pay dearly.”

He turns aside, speaks into the air. “There’s an issue with the passengers. I’m investigating. Don’t harm any of them yet.” Then he faces you again.

In the dim light, you see his hand snake down to an item hanging from his belt. He draws it forth, raises it at you: a Starfleet-issue science tricorder. Seized, no doubt, from a victim of the boarding party. He holds the device in front of him, as if warding himself from you with a crucifix. He’s positioned it such that you cannot see its display. But the audience sees, in extreme close-up, his fingers beginning to work the interface.

“I require proof,“ he says, the camera cutting between a series of quick shots of his activity, and the two of you facing off. “LOCAL SENSOR SWEEP CRITERIA”, the device prompts. He begins to enter molecular compositions, density patterns, gaseous disturbances. Zeoh is encoding some secret knowledge into the scanner, an arcane scientific formula capable of identifying a Founder from the mundane matter or being in whose image they are disguised. “SEARCH LOCATION:“ reads the display, a small map of the surrounding chambers and decks beginning to unfold - impossible to scan all at once.

“Make your next move very carefully,” he warns. “I need you to tell me everything you know about them.“

😟

GM

This was a Create Advantage to create a Smoky Hallway from a warrior in the evacuation corridor - it failed. It added some narrative color, but wouldn’t affect any Tasks.

Working with low-stat Minor NPCs, I had had better luck having one Assist the other to Create Advantages. At the cost of another NPC’s Turn, and 1 Threat, I could roll 4d20 for the attempt. Here I tried with one alone, and despite buying 1d20 with Threat, failed.

“COnTAiN thE PAssEnGERs, bUT kEep THeM aLIvE,” Omoro’kun spoke into the warriors’ ears. “ZEoH hAS A doUBt. NeuTRaLIze AnY UnifORmEd PErsONNel.”

The warriors on the evacuation deck immediately changed tactics. Pointing their plasma rifles just too high, or at oblique angles, they filled the corridor with fire, peppering the bulkheads and setting off a cascade of smoke, debris, and screams.

Ekoss

On the bridge Ekoss moved toward the tactical console, and turned to stand back to back with Sompek. He started his phaser rifle charging up, preparing to dish out even more damage than usual and lifted the weapon to his shoulder with the muzzle pointed down at the floor. He and Sompek both looked to their side at Marvin and nodded their readiness to him. Then the transporter beam took them.

Ekoss

Ranged Attack from Ekoss on a warrior. Difficulty 2, he earned considerable success from his rolls including for Untapped Potential.

The two friends materialized in the corridor near the escape pods to the sound of screaming civilians and the smell of smoke. By luck, Ekoss appeared facing one of the Jem’Hadar warriors. He snapped his rifle up and took just an instant to aim the weapon before he fired at the enemy soldier.

Ekoss

Ekoss squeezed the trigger exactly the way Lr. Brunk had taught them. The rifle spat a bright beam of charged particles, hitting the Jem’hadar directly in the center of mass with a lethal beam that carved a bright edged hole in his chest.

Ekoss

The enemy soldier jerked the trigger on his own weapon as he fell back, spraying Polaron beams into the ceiling of the corridor. The weapon fell silent as it fell out of his hands when he hit the floor with a thump. The purpose born Dominion soldier did get back up.

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss swept his eyes over the corridor in front of him and reported “CLEAR!”

Ekoss

As he did , the Andorian heard the report of another polaron rifle, and saw the flash of a beam chewing into the wall a few feet away.

Ekoss

Swift Task from Ekoss to make another Ranged Attack at +1 Difficulty (3). He did not generate enough successes.

Ekoss spun and fired a snap shot toward the enemy who’d fired at them, which went wide as the chalk skinned soldier dodged back a step.

GM

“Captain?” pipes-up Solomon, on the bridge. “I’ve studied the patterns and I see how they’re communicating through the noise. There’s little, sporadic gaps in the jamming - I’m sure their communicators know just when to jump in and how to reassemble the signals. I think I could plot-out the sequence and either use those holes to send our signal to the badges, or at least jam them when they’re trying to talk!”

The briefing room door slides open.

GM

All 10 of the Jem’Hadar warriors had been spoken for, so I spent 2 Threat to introduce 2 more as Reinforcements. Narratively, they’d been waiting shrouded in the briefing room for the right moment to assault the bridge.

I performed a Ranged Attack from one of them against Marvin, buying 2 dice with Threat.

The warrior took careful steps onto the bridge from the briefing room, where they’d lain in wait. His boots made a soft sound upon the carpet as the eyes of the staff turned towards the open door behind him. He was aware of the presence of a comrade following through the threshold behind him, invisibly.

The bridge was thankfully under-staffed. He quickly took-in the threats. He knew he had only a moment to choose his first target. Taking up the space around the commanding officer’s chair was a Bajoran Maquis revolutionary, barely into adulthood. One of the prize assets upon which he’d been briefed. He must treat this one with care.

“Neutralize uniformed personnel,” had been the order. He gaze quickly surveyed the room, and fell upon an older man. His face careworn, with gravitas and authority. An experienced officer, with the bearing of a commander. He’d be capable of rallying those around him to hold out. The warrior was met with a collective gasp as he dropped his shroud and fired.

💯

Marvin

Marvin’s player suggested a Value Complication from his Value Do No Harm. Hesitation made it impossible for him to Avoid the Injury, and granted him 1 Determination.

The horned, stoic form of the Jem’Hadar stalked onto the bridge and levelled a rifle directly at the EEH. Several tactics shot through his head at once. Multiple assailants. Single point of entry. Several breaks in line-of-sight. A quick and definitive attack followed taking cover would be the most effective strategy. His hand quickly went to the weight on his hip.

First, do no harm…

The words echoed in his ears. He hesitated.

👍

Marvin

Gravity seemed to stop for a moment, then returned with a sudden shock as his back crashed against the cool glass of the Operations console. He grunted, a curious sensation as the breath escaped through a small rent in his upper chest. He looked down at the deep, cauterized pit in his flesh.

Pressure. He needed to…his hand moved to cover the wound, the world jerked sharply to one edge and then went dark.

😭 (2)

GM

Swift Task, then Melee Attack from the same warrior against zh’Vhynnal. It was Opposed, but the attacker won - I again bought 2 dice with Threat and got many successes. The Jem’Hadar have a Lethal Unarmed Strike, and this did enough damage to deal an Injury.

“No!!” shout Solomon and zh’Vhynnal in unison. zh’Vhynnal steps forward automatically, her hands raised to attack. Deep fear is visible in her eyes, and not for her own safety.

The warrior takes a step forward, rifle still trained upon Marvin, confriming the kill. He marks her advance and suddenly pivots, too fast for her, striking her face with the butt of his rifle, and sending her to the floor, unmoving.

GM

Grapple attempt from Solomon, which succeeded. The warrior was Grappled, and also rolled a Complication: he was now Distracted as well.

Solomon, tentative at first, springs forward desperately. He grabs the warrior’s rifle, throws his weight onto it, shoving its nozzle towards a console, away from harm. He clings to it as the warrior glares inches away from his face.

GM

Aim and Ranged Attack from the other warrior. I bought 2 dice with Threat, but failed - Aim allowed me to re-roll, which succeeded, dealing an Injury - I spent 1 Threat to make it Lethal.

Solomon takes his right hand off the rifle and taps his comm badge. “Computer!” he shouts. “Deactivate the…” and then he’s flying.

The second warrior, having taken precise aim, strikes Eric in the shoulder with a plasma bolt. For a moment he’s a rag doll cast into the air, hurtling towards a bulkhead, when the holodeck’s force fields place him down with just enough care, wedged into a corner, a look of shock upon his face.

GM

I spent 2 Threat to introduce a new Complication: Cheat Code.

Jatha, you stand alone on the bridge against the Jem’Hadar. The second warrior adjusts his aim slightly, pointing the rifle directly at you, and taking brisk steps to close the distance. “Stand down!” he commands. “Drop your weapon!”

The first warrior, seeing Solomon go down, makes a quick survey of the room. “He’s still alive,” he indicates, taking a glance at Marvin’s twitching form upon the floor, and lifts his rifle.

“Computer…” says a voice from the corner, “get the Jem’Hadar off the bridge…” The raspy voice is Solomon’s. The two warriors wink out of existence, leaving the bridge in an eerie calm.

Solomon’s right hand hangs limply by his badge. His cheeks are tear-streaked. He speaks with force, yet it comes out soft, as he struggles against the force fields simulating his injury.

“Edala…there’s an…administrator’s channel…I found it, a week before the test. Hacked my badge the night before. It’s a back door, it’ll…let you do anything. I didn’t come here to do it right, Edala…I came here to cheat…I’m so sorry…but now…I want to be in Starfleet…I want to serve…I want to be with…people like you. They’ll never let me…not now. But I can’t just…let Marvin die…not when I could do something about it. Take it…” he says, his voice becoming almost inaudible. “I don’t know if you’ll use it, but…”

He plucks the badge off, tosses it feebly onto the carpet, as if weights are attached to his arms. He leans his head back, staring far off, full of visions the holodeck is feeding only to his eyes. “Whoa, this is wild,” he says, in almost a whisper, the force fields weighing him down like a blanket. He shuts his eyes.

Jatha

It all happened so fast. So many insights at once came to Jatha. The levels upon levels of the no-win programming, why Eric had been acting so strange. How ruthless and overwhelming the Jem’Hadar would be,in a real fight.

A back door… they won’t leave that open for long now that they know, he thought. Time to think fast and act even faster, hopefully without getting them all thrown out of the academy.

💯 (2)

GM

On a deck below, the warrior Ekoss missed rushes quickly forward, placing himself on the other side of Sompek. He then charges the two of you, his rifle trained straight at Sompek’s chest.

Sompek

Sompek saw the honorless Jem’Hadar rushing at him… he felt the thick air move behind him as Ekoss fired. He wanted to see the result but there was no time. He raised his phaser rifle and focused on the Jem’Hadar rushing him. He might be tempted to fired prematurely. It was an intense moment, with a deadly threat and civilians nearby. But he felt a sudden calmness come over him. There was no Klingon word for it exactly, but the humans called it Zen. It was a purity of spirit. There was nobody there but the two of them. Sompek and his prey. It was a moment in time, slowed to a crawl, to focus on the enemy. Jagh yIbuStaH. Yes. That was it. Take a breath. Focus on the creature’s center mass. Maybe up a tiny bit, towards the Ketracel White tube going into its neck. And don’t jerk the trigger, squeeze it. He did, and with the flash of light, time resumed its normal passage. The creature went down hard. Sompek didn’t think it was dead, but the tube of White going into the creature’s neck was broken and partially melted into an angry wound. It wasn’t moving.

💯

GM

I left the Distracted Trait upon the warriors who’d been moved here from the bridge by the holodeck, wanting it to have a little more time in play, and reasoning that they’d be newly Distracted by the change in location.

As the warrior drops from Sompek’s blast, the crowd of evacuees scrambles to its feet, and presses forward - driven on by the sporadic suppressive fire from the warrior behind them. They come shoulder to shoulder with you, Ekoss and Sompek - only to suddenly freeze.

Appearing in the junction are two more warriors. Materializing at odd angles, they face a useless direction with rifles drawn. Their presence is alarming, more so as they are held frozen, like statues for a beat - and it hits you: their appearance here is not via transporter. A trace of the holodeck, showing through the seams. But why?

Your moment to contemplate this is cut short by their suddenly springing to life, as if imbued with new orders, wheeling around to face you and the crowd, which begins to panic.

😱

GM

2 Threat to bring-in Konig as an Adversary NPC. He’d now be able to perform Tasks and generate more Threat. Further, with the warp core gone, Konig acted as a kind of Trait, making an effective placement of the detonators Possible.

“I told you! I don’t have the access codes!”

“There must be some way, to bring down a vessel as armed as this, from the inside.”

“I’m not doing it!”

“Help me,” explained Omoro’kun, “and you will live.”

“I don’t care about myself,” spat Konig.

Omoro’kun simply nodded. “The crew and passengers, though.”

“You’ll just kill them anyway!”

“No.” Omoro’kun gathered himself, locking eyes with Konig. “It is not my wish to destroy the ship. Our orders are to keep as many alive as possible. But with the warp core gone, I’ve lost my ability to resolve this without bloodshed. Until I hold a sword over this ship, the violence will not stop. Your Captain is allowing this to happen, because he does not take our threat seriously. And he is under the influence of the heartless Cardassian killer, Vorraq.”

Konig stared, at the mention of the Painter’s name. That spymaster’s deeds were infamous, among the Maquis. Omoro’kun knew he’d found his purchase.

“If you help me change those conditions, your Captain will surrender. And everyone remaining will live. You say you want to atone, for the lives of civilians. Help your Captain make the right decision.”

Omoro’kun patiently waited through the silence, until Konig’s reply came.

“There might be a way…”

“Go on.”

“…but it couldn’t work. The torpedoes aren’t armed, at rest.”

Omoro’kun glanced at the scarred warrior, then looked back at Konig. “I believe you are an expert in sabotage. Correct?”

🙀

GM

Gorca’s Persuasion Task, resolved a bit out of order, succeeded: the Dominion forces would now act as if there was a A Founder Among the Evacuees. It was Difficulty 3:

Base Difficulty: 4 (very difficult)
-1 because The Painter is Back…
-1 for the Effective Disguise
-1 for the Kobayashi Maru Survivors, used as a Social Tool
+1 because of Zeoh’s Arcane Formula
+1 because it’s a Swift Task

Gorca bought dice with Momentum and Threat, to surmount this.

In the science lab, Zeoh stares at the tricorder. In a close-up, we see that Gorca’s gamble has paid off: “SEARCH INCONCLUSIVE.”

“I’m with Vorraq, First - he’s here.” he speaks in an aside. “He has surrendered. But I have reason to believe there may be a Founder among the evacuees.”

A patch of garbled static follows from his earpiece. A gasp? A moment of silence ensues, as Zeoh and the First contemplate their available options, given their objectives.

“tHEn ThE oNLy sOLuTIoN Is TO…”

“…let them go,” finishes Zeoh.

😵 😱

Gorca

Crossing into a new Round, Gorca made a Ranged Attack using a phaser on overload as a Pulse Grenade, stunning Zeoh, his bodyguard, and Gorca himself in the process - this took the form of non-lethal Injuries. The bodyguard - a Minor NPC - could not Avoid the Injury. I decided not to spend the Threat for Zeoh to Avoid it.

As soon as the comm-link was severed, The Painter said, “I’ll send Odo your regards.”

Vorraq smirked as the phaser hummed to crescendo before exploding, sending a shock wave throughout the room. Zeoh and the Jem’Hadar immediately collapsed into unconsciousness, dropping their weapons and equipment.

Vorraq doubled over, cringing in agony, before he too slumped to the deck, out cold.

👍 🤘

GM

Evacuees Hemmed-In Complication removed, another effect of Gorca’s Persuasion Task.

In the evacuation corridor, the warriors’ attention is suddenly drawn inward, to something they’re hearing. One of them goes so far as to take a hand off his rifle, clutching his ear, as if to confirm. They glance at each other, then at you, Sompek and Ekoss - finding themselves still as statues once still again, this time not from the effects of the holodeck but from hesitation.

A momentary standoff ensues, and then a cascade: the warriors lower their rifles, dropping the nozzles towards the floor. The sounds of plasma fire cease, from behind you. Then a brave soul from among the evacuees tentatively steps out ahead of you, then slips past the warriors - and a flood of evacuees follows.

“Go. Go!” shouts Captain Lin, who nods at the two of you - a silent salute - as he passes by, a colleague supporting him under his shoulder. The warriors’ eyes pass over the evacuees faces: a searching look, a brief glimpse of emotion peeking through.

And then, as the wave of the crowd crests, the warriors’ eyes return to yours. Their rifles held safely away, their hands have fallen to their belts, and rest upon the hilts of blades. Whatever becomes of you, no God passing among the evacuees will fall to a stray plasma bolt. As the crowd still runs by, they approach.

😱

Sompek

Sompek’s non-lethal Unarmed Strike inflicted enough stress (7) to cause an Injury. Minor NPCs cannot normally Avoid an Injury. However, based on his narration and intent, we decided to treat this somewhere between a Strike and a Shove: he inflicted the 7 Stress, but generated a Complication on the warrior: Flustered. This would reduce subsequent Attack Difficulty.

Sompek saw the Jem’Hadar’s eyes flash… any Klingon worth their blood knew when someone meant them harm, and Sompek had royal blood in his veins, however the Council might sneer, and he had been trained HARD to be worthy of it. Including what it was like to be hunter and hunted. So he wasn’t surprised when the Jem’Hadar creature quickly drew a blade and attempted to stab him. Instinctively, Sompek deflected the blade with the back of his hand and, in the same movement, hit the Jem’Hadar’s face with the back of his hand. Any creature capable of feeling or honor would be insulted. He assumed that the alien killing machine was capable of no such sentiment.

GM

The warrior stumbles back, surprised at the mode of attack. His footing weakens.

🤘

GM

I spent 2 Threat to Creat a Complication, canceling the Effective Disguise Advantage that Gorca had established two Scenes ago. Losing so many warriors, I began to switch tactics towards the no-win scenario. I would “let no good deed go unpunished”: each step forward taken by the players would reinforce Omoro’kun’s belief system that the ship must be destroyed.

“zEOh.”

“ZeOH.”

“zEoH. rePOrT.”

The sound from the Vorta’s earpiece is a mere insect buzzing in the science lab. Debris is scattered everywhere. The unconscious bodies of Zeoh and his de-shrouded bodyguard lay on the ground serenely.

Gorca, after the intense discomfort of the detonation - the holodeck serving-up benign, yet barely-tolerable consequences of your self-sacrificial act - your body has been gently placed upon the floor. A cushioned resistance - a weight and warmth like a comforter in a cold cabin - holds you in place. Your vision blacked-out, your hearing muffled, as if underwater, your mind is free to experience what sensations are available to you: the solidity of the ground, the pressure of the fields, the pieces of prosthetic now sliding free of your head and shoulders, liberated by the force of the blast.

👍🏽 🤘🏻

Brel (Marvin)

Brel performed a Create Advantage using Control + Engineering Assisted by the ship’s Comms + Security. Buying a die with Threat allowed him to use both Untapped Potential and Bold: Engineering.

Main Engineering was silent except for the low susurrus of work. The usual, comforting beat of the warp core was gone. Brel found himself in front of the emergency bulkheads blocking the main entrance. This was inefficient. He may have safeguarded the warp core, but he was trapped here while his friends…his crew, was in danger. Unconsciously, he began pacing and analyzed his options. If only he could break through this jamming field, but it was too strong…

Too strong…indeed. He rushed to the communications panel and called up a wide-band graph of frequencies. As expected, the entire spectrum was completely blown out, all noise and no signal.

“Computer, accept input and begin constructive interference heuristic. Maximize amplitude, cross-referencing known Dominion communication frequency nodes.”

“Working…” The spectrum slowly melded, growing sharp spikes along the curve. After a few minutes, the computer replied: “Heuristic complete. Waveform increased to 147% of rated maximum. Please reduce amplitude to continue communications.”

“I don’t think I will, thank you. Continue on rotating frequency bands.” Communications should be that much more difficult now, at least until the original jamming device was deactivated. Brel stared at the bulkheads and hoped it was enough. An afterthought occurred to him.

“Computer, using the heuristic results, triangulate possible locations of wide-band jamming signals and display on MSD Panel 2.”

“Working…”

😱 👀 👍

Brel (Marvin)

Brel made one Obtain Information spend following his Task, to find the location of the Dominion jamming device.

A scattered curve of points intersected the cross-section of the ship, and Brel quickly began eliminating possibilities. His gaze landed on a clear point where the curve touched a small room on Deck 4. Crew quarters.

He took a last look at the engineering bay. “sh’Thenehr. You are in charge until I return. Continue to monitor the escape pods. Maintain ship readiness. If the Jem’hadar breach the bulkheads, apply defensive tactics to hold Engineering. I will contact you shortly.”

The Andorian’s antennae curled back in confusion as they followed Brel up to a Jefferies tube ladder. “S-sir? Sir, wait. Shouldn’t you stay here? What if you don’t come back?”

“Then you will need to see to the maintenance rotations when we return to starbase. The procedures are at my desk terminal.” One hand on the ladder, he paused to turn and give the nervous crewman a wry nod of acknowledgement. “Chief.” And then he climbed the rungs and was gone.

😮 🤘

GM

2 Threat to Create a Complication: Detonators in Position.

Another of Omoro’kun’s Objectives was accomplished, which earned 1 Threat.

“DEtoNAtORs In poSITiON PeR INstRuCTiONs,” said the voice. Omoro’kun cast an appreciative glance at Konig, who looked away from his eyes, taking a hard breath.

Omoro’kun gripped his ear. He turned towards the scarred warrior, who shook his head: his communications fared no better.

The First neither showed, nor felt, fear. But this turn of events quieted him; threw him into a state of intense calculation.

“…What happened?” Konig ventured to ask.

“…Your friends are removing further options.”

💯 (2)

Brel (Marvin)

Swift Task to Sprint to the location of the jamming device. Though of Difficulty 0, it required 3 Momentum to move through all the necessary Zones. Brel bought 2 dice with Threat, which also triggered his Untapped Potential. He earned more than enough Momentum to cover the distance.

Around Deck 7, Brel began breathing hard, azure rings of sweat collecting on his uniform. His Borg physiology was hardy, but traversing half the ship on foot was a daunting task. Still, he ran, knowing that they were running out of time.

The room containing the jammer was on the port side of ship. At some point, he would have to exit the Jefferies tubes and take to the corridors. With only a moment’s hesitation, Brel burst out of the hatch and resumed his sprint. Luck was with him and he heard no signs of a chase, until…

“BZZZT!” A violet polaron beam blazed over his shoulder, striking the bulkhead ahead. He turned and fired a retort with his own phaser, ducking into a side corridor as he did. At least one Jem’hadar. Quickly, he set his phaser to begin an auto-firing sequence. A simple trick, but he only needed seconds.

Setting the phaser on the ground facing the intersection, Brel pressed the key and a random series of shots fired every half-second. Seeing his destination, he ran to the door and entered the darkened crew quarters. Slapping the door-lock behind him, his legs gave out underneath him and he sat, gasping, heart thudding.

❤️ 🤘

GM

I spent 2 Threat to provide Flanking Fire - this did not consume a Turn.

There’d been no contact since the last two updates on the Dominion channel: orders to let the evacuees go, and intel that the detonators were in place. The warrior at the end of the hallway watched as the crowd in the corridor surged forward and thinned, like a shift in the tide. He saw a scuffle emerge between the two officers who’d disrupted their plans, and the warriors who’d suddenly appeared, to help.

It was at least an even match. Disconnected from command, unable to coordinate: he could viscerally feel the outcome of their mission hanging in the balance of whether they could achieve supremacy here in the corridors of the alien vessel. With care, he raised his rifle and fired blasts - far enough away to avoid hitting the passengers or his comrades, but near enough to distract the Starfleet officers from their resistance.

GM

Debris and noise erupts mere feet behind you, Ekoss, presumably a shot from the warrior down the corridor. Your mind is forced to contend with this threat to the rear, as the knife-wielding warrior ahead of you glares, and tenses for conflict.

🤘

Ekoss

Aim, and Charge (1 Momentum), then Ranged Attack From Ekoss. Because he’d Aimed and his weapon was Accurate, he was able to re-roll 2d20 and hit.

As the two Jem’hadar warriors approached the pair of Starfleet officers, Ekoss lifted his phaser rifle to point it at the right hand warrior. As the Dominion warriors approached, Ekoss charged the weapon to its highest level. He focused intently down the barrel as he aimed.

Ekoss

In some ways the Andorian had a lot in common with the alien warrior. He too had been born to a warrior culture, and while a Starfleet career had been his choice, it had been a long family tradition.

👍

Ekoss

The similarities between them did NOT hold his finger from squeezing the trigger of his rifle, and the supercharged beam lashed out and punched a hole through the enemy soldier.

Ekoss

The white skinned Dominion intruder determinedly tried to continue forward, to carry out his attack, but before he got within knife range he stumbled to his knees and fell forward to the deck, motionless.

GM

Ranged Attack from the warrior down the corridor. Normally Difficulty 2, this went to 1 because the Flanking Fire had distracted our heroes. I did not make it Lethal - good for my dwindling Threat supply, and fit the story.

Following the ebb of the crowd, the warrior flanking Ekoss and Sompek crept closer, saw the Andorian officer let off a shot, despite his own suppressive fire. Saw his comrade go down, felt the initiative slipping further away. He raised his rifle again, trained upon the backs of the Starfleet officers, and strode ahead - faster with each step, but no less sure.

Much care was required. His trained fingers blindly set the rifle on its lowest intensity. A Founder might yet be among those passing through this abused passage, but the officers must still be taken down; or they’d lose their grasp of the situation. As he stared down the barrel at the advancing uniformed figures, he held his fire so long as it was like to go astray - and then it wasn’t.

👍 (2)

Ekoss

The heavy Dominion weapon may have been on its lowest setting, but when it hit Ekoss in the small of his back it fet like a raging Mugato. It knocked the helmsman off his feet and flat onto his face.

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss Avoided the Injury, accepting a Complication to be knocked to the ground.

Ekoss had to take a second to catch his breath before he could roll over.

Sompek

I had bumped the Stress to Ekoss to 10. His max was 11, so this was just short of causing a second Injury.

I then spent 2 Threat to inflict a Second Hit at Half Damage to Sompek. At 5 stress, that hit would also deal an Injury.

Sompek Avoided this as well, accepting a Complication: Immobilized Left Arm

Sompek saw the weapon flash… almost like a reflection of his. He tried to move- to swerve- but that only worked in bad holos. It hit him like a maddened Sargh. Not center-mass, he noticed, but in his left arm. He dropped his phaser rifle, and it flew away from him, and he did what felt like a slow spiral drop to the deck. He could see it in his mind’s eye. Dropping, humiliated. Then he was on the floor, watching as others moved around him. What had happened to Ekoss? Sompek couldn’t see him. Hopefully the spry Andorian had fared better. Then he caught the eye of the creature that had shot him, and saw that it didn’t care. There was no gleam of satisfaction in its eyes. It had simply carried out programming. They don’t fight for anything, he reminded himself. They fight because they’re designed that way, because they’re programmed to fight.

Sompek could have waited for it to move along, until it was no longer watching him. But he wanted it to know that he wasn’t dead. He wasn’t beaten. He wasn’t out of the fight. And he wanted his crewmates to know that too. So he started to stand- leaning, stupidly on his left arm. Refusing even to acknowledge the injury. As he put pressure on the arm, he felt something like lightning go through it. As if it were on fire. Then it was dead, like a leg that had fallen asleep. Except that it wasn’t just asleep. He knew that, instinctively. But he leaned on it anyway, as if it were just a good steady piece of wood. The phaser rifle was on the ground, and he’d probably need someone to hand it to him. That was something he couldn’t ask just yet. That was his pride talking, he knew. But there was a weapon he could wield, even if he never got the chance to use it. He reached his right arm painfully back, finding a point of the bat’leth attached to the back of his uniform. Then he brought it around, and using his dead left arm as a tool, gripped one of the handles with his right hand. “Jem’Hadar! yInDayajmeH ‘oy’ yISIQ!”

💯 (2) 👍

Jatha

There was a silence on the bridge, if you could call it that; the ambience of the machinery, the unmanned stations screaming for attention. A thousand small sounds and alarms going off, at once. And not a single officer to step in and take positions.

”They say command brings a loneliness, but this is mildly ridiculous” Jatha thought. A faint smile crossed his lips: they say hope is the last thing to leave a humanoid, but for him it might be humor. And he was still standing. He shouldn’t - by all means the bridge should have been taken now. He had made an error sending his best fighters away without securing force fields around the bridge. Another lesson to take to heart.

He took a moment to contemplate his options: so far no computer voice had interrupted the exercise. Not even when Marvin put himself in mortal danger. Perhaps they’d messed up the code when altering the program under running? He wasn’t an engineer, but he’d skimmed the mandatory ”Holodeck incidents for beginners” material provided. He felt cold inside as he looked towards the empty Science station.

👍 ❤️

Jatha

”I’m not going to risk someone’s life to gain a passing grade” he spoke out loudly. If the faculty were listening, they wouldn’t have to ask him what he was doing, or why. He strode for the EEH, snatching up the badge Solomon had tossed towards him on the way. He tapped it and held, waiting for the familiar voice to be heard.

“Please input new program parameters.” He was focused beyond his skills, acting on instinct and half-guessing responses, but it paid off. He’d successfully isolated the EEH memory subroutines and transferred them off grid into the mainframe at the university, through the badge. A cheat, but he was ready to face an inquiry board later if needed.

Still leaned over the lifeless body of Marvin, he grabbed a medkit - those always seemed to be within arms reach of the EEH - and administered First Aid, exactly like he would have in a real situation on a… human being. He guessed Marvin had human physiology in the simulation, and regardless the tricorder read him as “stabilized.”

Before moving on to the next Task, he tapped the cheat badge one more time and spoke.

”Affirmative.”

💯 (2)

GM

Prepare a Sprint Task from the scarred warrior. This was to be my detonation fuse, though ultimately I needed to rely on alternate means.

In a shot through Omoro’kun’s eyepiece, the warrior Zrr!Klt had scarred stood stoically in the brig, as an array of data was splayed-out at the periphery. Data which told an increasingly concerning story of the boarding party’s success. Squad vital signs - now missing, due to jammed communications. Before that, a confounding change in coordinates of the warriors who’d been placed to attack the bridge.

“Second,” Omoro’kun began, “without communications, remote detonation will be impossible.”

The scarred warrior nodded.

“From this moment you will be ready to proceed on foot as quickly as possible to the primary detonator, and initiate the cascade. You will do this, upon my order - or upon seeing me falter in any way.”

“It will be done, First,” replied the warrior. “But, be advised - I do not believe I will be able to shroud.”

Omoro’kun fingered the destroyed ketracel apparatus on his soldier’s neck.

“You must use the utmost care,” he concluded. “You will carry the will of the Founders with you.”

The Second nodded.

Omoro’kun swung to Konig. “It is your task to prevent this from being necessary. You will speak to the senior officers, and convince them to surrender.”

“I? I…”

“They will credit the threat, if they know that we have compromised you.”

“I can’t do this…”

“You are a Maquis terrorist. You have done such things before. You must hold this ship hostage - in order to save it.”

😱

Marvin

As the administrator command was input from the compromised badge, time stopped. The various alarms, running lights, panels: everything on the bridge save Jatha ceased to move utterly. For two full seconds, teraquads of memory fled the confines of the holodeck to be stored within the university mainframe. Then, just as suddenly, the world began moving again. Solomon grunted as whatever force-field that was temporarily lifted locked down his form again.

Blinking against the light, the EEH’s eyes slowly opened. One hand weakly went to the now-sealed wound in his lung. “Well done. But…you’ve neglected to…fully debride the wound…prior to dermal treatment. I’ll expect a summary…of plasma wound treatment procedures on my desk…tomorrow morning, ergh!” His slow attempt to rise halted and he slowly lay prone again. “Orders, Captain?”

😅 🤘 (2)

GM

In the tense moments after Omoro’kun’s dictate to Konig, a telltale pattern of metal-on-metal clanks was heard through the door of the brig.

“Come!” said the First. The door slid open and a warrior entered his makeshift HQ - one of his soldiers who’d been dispatched to the deck with the passengers.

“Our communications are non-functional, Commander.”

Omoro’kun nodded. “Yes, we are all affected. What is the status of the passengers?”

“When I left, they were nearly evacuated. They will be so by now…”

“Good,” he replied, energized. “Then destruction of the vessel remains on the table.” At this, Konig looked up. “If we are able to take the vessel without resorting to this, we will backtrack and reclaim all evacuees including our Founder.”

“First, we are meeting intense resistance in the corridors,” the warrior continued. “Two officers were transported to assist the evacuees - warriors, both. We outnumber them, but there will be losses. Permission to return immediately - without our communications, we are spread thin and uncoordinated.”

GM

Create Advantage from Konig: Alternate Routes. If they needed to take the bridge, I wanted them have options in their approach.

Omoro’kun nodded. “Go, now!” Turning to Konig - “Can you put me through to the bridge?”

Konig hesitated, glancing at the brig’s console. “I told you. I don’t. Have. The codes.”

Omoro’kun spent a moment in thought. “Our scans suggested that all pathways to the bridge deck went through a bottleneck of two lifts located off of a single hallway. Are there any other access points?”

Konig shrugged. Omoro’kun grabbed a handful of his tunic, pulled it tight, and addressed him inches from his face.

“No more stalling. I will not hesitate to destroy this vessel and all of us upon it, if my mission looks to fail. It now hangs upon your cooperation.”

It was an odd experience, for Konig, mechanical - Omoro’kun was no bully, as Ky had been. It was a calculated move, borne of necessity - just enough intensity to produce a response.

“The Jefferies tubes,” he let out. “A series of maintenance channels, wide enough for most bipeds.” Omoro’kun released his grip. “The hatches - they’re about this big, I’m sure you’ve seen them. They traverse horizontally and vertically - the right channel will take you the bridge…or basically anywhere.”

🤘

GM

1 Threat to introduce a reinforcement: another Jem’Hadar warrior.

There hadn’t been much space to hide the jamming device in the small crew quarters chamber where you now find yourself, Brel. The suitcase-sized instrument sits quietly under the desk. Having found what you seek, you now notice more: the body of the crew member tucked behind the desk, and then an odd - never-before-experienced - visual phenomenon: the fading-in of a figure’s shadow, cast from behind you, though there’s been no change in lighting.

😱

Brel (Marvin)

Melee Attack from the warrior. These are Opposed Tasks, and if the defender wins the contest, the defender deals damage to the attacker. Thus Brel was able to overcome his assailant and deal an Injury.

Appearing from nowhere were two scaled hands that grasped at his neck. Brel instinctively locked onto the warrior’s wrists, and the two struggled to get the upper hand. Brel felt himself yanked from off the ground and slammed against the lone glass table, splintering it. Another slam and it shattered beneath him. Blue blood ran into his eye as the Jem’hadar fully applied its weight, beginning to close off his windpipe.

The jammer dug into Brel’s back. He needed to survive this. “I’m…sorry…” His hands still on the Jem’hadar’s wrists, he angled the fingers on his left hand towards its throat. Twin assimilation tubules shot out and pierced the warrior’s carotid. The hands fell away from Brel’s throat and grasped at its own. Brel coughed violently as the Jem’hadar’s skin paled and black, sharp-edged veins began radiating from the wound.

Glass crunching underneath, Brel crawled to the prone Jem’hadar, and grabbed the disruptor from its belt. Protrusions began sliding under the scaled skin of its face like worms. Brel felt something like dread, settling in his chest. He stood quickly, made an adjustment to the weapon, and fired. At full power, the writhing drone shone bright violet, then vaporized entirely. The sudden silence was jarring. He heard the disruptor clatter to the floor. The lights of the jamming device behind him blinked like watching eyes, off, on, off, on.

🥺 ❤️ 👀

GM

Melee Attack from a warrior against Sompek.

As the Andorian warrior went down, the knife-wielder’s attention shifted to his comrade. What had been incongruous at first, was now made clear by the outsized blade wielded by the officer: he was a Klingon - like those vanquished recently by the Dominion - in Starfleet uniform.

This brought new significance to the back-handed strike which had thrown him off his footing: it had been intended as a moral blow. Not merely a psychological attack, but a value judgement, meant to elevate the attacker as much as it diminished their opponent. Honor: such a burden, to carry into the field of battle.

He adjusted his tactics, chose his moment, and lunged.

🤘🏻

Sompek

The warrior made a Melee Attack on Sompek. An Opposed Task, Sompek made his own roll against the warrior’s, at a lower Difficulty because of the Flustered Advantage he’d created. He won, allowing him to inflict damage on the warrior. He rolled less damage than necessary to inflict an Injury, but spent 1 Momentum to re-roll the bad dice, gaining enough to bring the warrior down.

😮

GM

Being the second Sompek had received, this Injury could not be Avoided.

As Sompek withdraws from the deadly embrace in which he’d placed his adversary - enacting a real and symbolic victory - the warrior who’d taken down Ekoss draws careful aim, and fires. Ekoss, the bulkheads around you suddenly glow with the flare of a plasma blast that strikes Sompek from the side even as his opponent falls to the ground.

🤘🏻

Sompek

Sompek felt himself hit in the back. Close to his spine, but he assumed that the length of skeletal ridges that went over his head and down his back would offer some protection from crippling injury. But as he went down, he was aware that the injury wasn’t what it should be. No. The holodeck safeties saw to that. It felt more like a hard pressure. Like forcefields pressing in on him. On his back. On his head, and as he dropped, they cushioned his fall. His vision seemed to dim slightly, and he couldn’t really hear anything around him. And then the computer dropped him safely, with almost no force of impact, to the deck. He was conscious, watching the creature who’d gunned him down walk away. And he didn’t hate the creature at that moment. It was, after all, a simulation of a killing automaton. No, he felt humiliation that hurt more than the simulated injury. And he had a grudge against the computer that had denied him the satisfaction of real pain and risk of injury. He hoped his Andorian friend had either survived the battle or at least died well in the attempt.

👍 (2)

Ekoss

With a mental groan that his pride would NOT let escape his lips, Ekoss lay on top of his rifle. He heard Sompek fighting the Jem’hadar just behind him, heard the batleth striking home and heard his friend fall beside him as his foe slid down the wall, unbreathing. But there was still the one with the rifle at the far end of the hall. Not on my ship thought Ekoss. He used his elbows that lever himself up as his hands hit the charging controls, setting the weapon to high power.

❤️ (2)

Ekoss

He slid the rifle forward, seated it on his shoulder and took a double breath to aim. Then he gently squeezed the trigger, loosing a bright orange beam of charged particles that hurt Ekoss’s eyes in the gloomy smoky corridor.

Ekoss

The beam stabbed out and transfixed the Jem’hadar warrior at the end of the corridor. The craggy white skinned warrior slowly looked down at the hole through his chest, his head tipping forward to see the wound and his body tipping forward to fall forward as his life-strength fled.

👍 🤘

Ekoss

Ekoss rose stiffly from his firing position, and stumbled to the corridor wall. The emergency markings were, at the same time discreet and obvious if you were looking for it. He popped open the cabinet with the first aid kit. He extracted a first aid kit and dropped to his knees over his Klingon friend. He opened the case and looked through the small selection of ampoules . He extracted one, inserted it in a hypo spray and adjusted the setting. Then he injected the medicine in his crewmates neck.

💯 (2)

Ekoss

In a moment Sompek’s eyes fluttered and then snapped open. His friend looked around quickly. “ I got the last one.” Ekoss told him. “We should probably check in with the bridge.”

🤘

Brel (Marvin)

Brel stared the communications jammer without seeing it, unmoving. After a few moments, as stealthy as the Jem’hadar, something in him sealed off everything he was feeling and thinking right then. Whatever it was, it was done and there would be time for it later. There were tasks to attend to now.

Brushing off the broken glass with one hand, Brel opened his tricorder and began work. A Class III communications jammer, no traps, simple to transport and install. He pulled tools from the small kit on his belt and began rerouting optronics with an exaggerated precision. In the space of a few minutes, the work was done and the tools were put away. He imagined he felt relief or perhaps pride, but it was locked away with everything else.

Brel hesitated for a moment, then tapped his badge. “Brel to Captain Jatha. Communications have been restored for the ship. Jem’Hadar communications have been compromised in turn. Returning to Main Engineering. Brel out.”

👍 (2)

GM

The warrior performed a Create Advantage to establish Word of Mouth. With Dominion Comms Jammed, I wanted to preserve some limited way for the boarding party to exchange information if they needed it.

Following Omoro’kun’s orders, the warrior strode quickly along a route to the evacuation corridor. He stopped short, at the sight of a comrade de-shrouding in front of him.

“Sixth!” said the now-visible warrior.

“I am Third, now,” he replied. His comrade paused, taking-in the implications. The Third continued: “I must get to the evacuation corridor immediately.”

“I have just come from there - all who were engaged, are lost.”

“Is our Founder safe?”

“We must assume so. All passengers are now evacuated.”

“…You fled? Why did not you not engage?”

“No. I saw from afar, before I could reach them. Third, we are taking losses in many locations and our communications are severed. It is useless to engage singly - we must mass, and attack in force.”

The Third nodded, gravely. “Affirmative - I will report these losses back to the First. Visit all decks where our force is known to be. Inform all you encounter to rally to deck [REDACTED]. Stay in constant contact - check-ins every 5 minutes. Go.”

🤘 😱

GM

From under a console somewhere, Brel’s voice emerges - Jatha’s misplaced comm badge quietly revealing his breakthrough.

Then another voice interjects - loud and resonant over the bridge speakers. Jatha, you have not heard this voice before.

GM

“They’ll be interrogated,” Konig surmised. “Tortured.”

Omoro’kun gazed at Konig carefully. “Yes,” he risked. “The Cardassians will do all they can to obtain intelligence from the officers, just as we will do from the vessel’s technology. But most of those aboard - perhaps even all - will live, because of you. Come, Konig. It’s time. My force is taking losses and my options are few.”

“…we’ll…go to the bridge? Together, or…?”

“If necessary, yes.” he replied. “But it would be better, if we can negotiate remotely,” said Omoro’kun, who squatted down. He reached over and removed something from the body of Zrr!Klt, then stood again, with the item in his hands: the dead security officer’s commbadge. As he contemplated its uses - if it was operative at all - there was a brief shot of the Starfleet insignia held in Omoro’kun’s fingers.

Then Konig made a soft sound of disgust, as the Commander affixed the badge to the left breast of his tunic. Holding Lieutenant Konig’s shoulder with one hand, the First pressed the badge with two fingers, and then spoke, as he’d seen done by the Thurston crew in the corridors.

“I wish to speak to the bridge,” he said, speaking into the badge. “Captain Jatha Edala. Senior officers of the USS Thurston. Can you hear me?”

😱

GM

“Captain Jatha Edala,” the voice begins. “Senior officers of the USS Thurston. Can you hear me?”

Jatha

The voice interrupted Jatha just as he was on his way towards the tactical station, who was starving attention as it’s former master was elsewhere occupied. Instead of crawling on the floor to retrieve his badge he responded through the internal security interface.

He put on his “game face,” a captain in command; a captain that wouldn’t take bullshit or be forced into anything. An officer, in charge.

“This is Jatha speaking, I hear you loud and clear and If you are who I suspect, I expect you to threaten me or impose some sort of ultimatum. You’ve attacked me and my crew; I wouldn’t call those actions”unprovoked" but I will call them unnecessary."

“But I will listen. So speak.”

❤️ (2)

GM

The First and Lieutenant Konig locked eyes: it worked.

GM

“Captain Jatha,” begins the First. “I am Omoro’kun, Commander of a force which now possesses the means to destroy the USS Thurston. It is good that you are perceptive. Your expectation of an ultimatum is well-founded. I am sure you are aware that your resistance aboard this vessel has already cost your crew dearly. You now hold the rest of their lives in your hands. Stand by for confirmation.”

GM

“Captain?” speaks a voice, more familiar. “It’s…it’s Konig…”

GM

Konig performed a Create Advantage, strengthening the Trait to Detonators in Position 2, making the fact even more real and relevant to the story - and thus more difficult to remove.

Konig continues, his voice shaking.

“He’s right, Captain. I’ve…I’ve…analyzed…the placement of the detonators - it’ll be devastating if these are set off. Captain, I…I advised…that they target torpedoes, antimatter pods, volatile resources - the explosions will cause a chain reaction, that could shear the ship in two, or worse. Just do what he says, Captain! We’ve got to stop this. Think of the crew - you have to see the big picture! Don’t -”

“Enough,” says Omoro’kun, audibly interrupting Konig over the broadcast.

“Captain Jatha, your best course is to surrender the USS Thurston to me. Instruct your departments to cooperate with my team. Announce your surrender over a shipwide broadcast and report to the brig, with any senior officers who remain. I need this affirmation without delay, or I will be forced to take action.”

🤘

Jatha

Muting the channel, Jatha looked to Eric, then Tima before he turned to Marvin. He drew a deep breath, letting it out but that didn’t clear the fog he felt. Checkmate, or only check?

“They can’t have the ship. The secrets they would learn would lead to thousands dead from a tactical advantage in combat.” He swallowed hard.

“I have one last hand to play, but I think it’s a weak one. Any advice would be appreciated.”

🤘

Marvin

Marvin chose at this moment to Ignore Injury, spending the point of Determination he’d earned just before being Injured.

It’s not necessary to use a Value when spending Determination to Avoid an Injury.

The rulebook characterizes Ignore Injury as an “immediate” way to deal with an Injury. It might be a house-rule, but we allowed characters to Ignore Injury with “delayed action”, as long as they could make the appropriate spend.

The EEH gingerly roused himself into a seated position on the floor, leaning heavily on the Science station. His head weakly rolled to look at Jatha.

“They say Jem’hadar declare themselves dead before battle. That their lives are only returned to them through victory, through conquest.”

“You are not a Jem’Hadar. You are a Starfleet captain and you are very much alive. Don’t fight to win. Fight to maintain and preserve life, preserve your ideals. As long as you remember that and act on it, against any odds, until your last breath, that’s all that matters. You will have won. And your crew will be behind you.” With that, the EEH put his weight to his good arm, grunted with effort, and slowly stood up and took his station.

❤️ (2)

Jatha

“You’re right Lieutenant, thank you.” Let’s see then if he’ll take the final bait

❤️

Jatha

Jatha performed a Rally, and spent 2 Momentum to Create the Advantage Dominion Mission in Doubt.

As Jatha activated the comms again, he made sure to address the whole ship; every deck, every department. He felt re-assured, and calm. Time to die? Perhaps, but doing so unbent to the enemy was it’s own victory. They would understand.

“You came here seeking ‘The Painter’ and if you had him you surely would have left - which tells me either you do not have him, or your true leader has abandoned you to bring their prize to your masters. Whatever the case, I do not think you know.”

“You don’t leave much room for negotiation. So neither will I. You talk like we hold our lives above our ideals - let me assure you we do not. We came into this willing and ready to lay down our lives, fully aware of the risks! And as a commander to another, you will know I can’t give you the ship. Dying here together will accomplish you nothing, and neither will continuing this slaughter! You hold a knife to my throat. Drop it and leave peacefully; or make your cut. Any Starfleet officer would recognize there are no other options.

“That is my announcement, First.”

❤️ 👀 💯 🎉

Jatha

Swift Task to perform First Aid on Eric.

Without even waiting for a response, Jatha knelt besides Solomon, doing what he could to stabilize him. The EEH soberly took his flank, still not recovered fully but able to assist. Between them, the procedure only took moments.

“Eric, come on - you’re missing the Grand Finale. I’m not sure how many seconds you have before… well, we could possibly explode. But I took your last advice to heart, and I think I managed to do some good with it. Come, let’s face it together as a crew should.”

Taken out of context, his voice sounded strangely happy, but the eyes smiled as well.

🤝

GM

As the transmission ended, Omoro’kun paused, deep in thought. The Captain’s surrender was off the table. A decisive action must be taken immediately. He re-ran the numbers in his head.

“First…” spoke the scarred warrior. “Would…” he began, in a low voice. “Would Zeoh have left with Vorraq?”

Omoro’kun crept close, stepping into a corner with the Second. It was widely known that the commbadges - like the one now worn by Konig - would offer universal translation.

“When did you last hear from him?” the warrior continued, in undertone. “Would he have left us?”

“Second,” Omoro’kun began, but felt the need to proceed carefully. Had Zeoh simply lost communications, like the rest of them? No. Zeoh had failed to respond before their comms were cut. Would he have left without them? Without even a report? There was the official answer, and then there was the truth. But anything could have happened -

“FIRST!” His contemplation was interrupted by a shout from the scarred warrior, who abruptly shoved him aside. While they had been talking, Konig had seized Omoro’kun’s plasma rifle and trained it at both of them. There was a searing flash - the scarred warrior fell, as Omoro’kun rebounded from the wall, and drew his knife.

😊 👀

GM

A still, medium shot of the door to the brig - which suddenly slides open.

Omoro’kun strides through the threshold, armed again with his plasma rifle, his knife sheathed at his waist. His face is set, his attention cast wide, as he quickly makes his way down the corridor. At the periphery, the camera catches his bloody bootprints.

Close-up on his chest: it is he, now, who wears Zrr!klt’s badge affixed to his uniform. This he taps, without breaking his stride.

“I wish to connect to Science Lab: Microbiology 2.”

He pauses at a junction, aiming his gaze and rifle down a corridor, then proceeds.

“Zeoh, report. Zeoh, do you read me?”

GM

Omoro’kun himself performed a Sprint, generating a little Threat and spending enough to cross the Zones to the detonators.

Gorca, as you lay on the ground of the lab, you can just make out Zeoh’s face through the blur of the holodeck’s distortions. Having roused, and slid himself half off the ground, to rest his back against a workbench, he’s now peering forward at you.

“…First? Is that you?” he replies, his voice dry.

“Zeoh! Why have you not been in contact?”

Zeoh swallows, but does not respond. His eyes are passing all over you, Gorca - his gaze eventually meeting yours, his expression inscrutable.

“Zeoh, respond,” Omoro’kun persists, his voice echoing across the lab. “I have the detonators in place. We need to confer. Where -”

“What is your confidence level, First…” Zeoh interrupts, his eyes not leaving yours, Gorca, “that you can take the ship?”

“Low,” said the First, irritably. Covering ground briskly as he talks, his breathing is audible. “Where is Vorraq? What information can he provide?”

“…he was never here,” Zeoh replies, as his eyes pass once more over the ream of prosthetics now sliding down Gorca’s shoulder, the patches showing through the head ridges. A smile begins to grow at one corner of his mouth.

“Can you elaborate?” the First demands.

“No need,” Zeoh says, resting back against the workbench. “Just blow it up.”

😱 (3) 🤘

GM

Eric gets to his feet, his eyes grateful, his face unburdened. “Good to see you on your feet, Marvin,” he says.

An impact sounds deep within the heart of the ship. The bridge shudders - but seems to do so around you, your bodies undisturbed, your feet stable on the ground. Eric takes in a breath.

🤘

Sompek

Sompek was steadying himself on two shaky legs and holding onto the bat’leth with his one functioning arm when he heard both of the announcements. The threat from the lead automaton trying to take their vessel (he knew that it had a name assigned to it but had never bothered to try to learn it. You might as well name a robot and assign it a computerized soul), as well as the Captain’s perfect response. The only possible response.

Sompek’s heart swelled at this, and his legs found renewed strength from the sound of victory in the Captain’s words and voice. He knew. He understood. “Victory is life”, those creatures liked to say. Sompek thought that that was probably an understandable thing for a slave to think. He understood that victory was victory, and life was simply a stage. A Klingon could find victory whether he lived to tell about it or not. Living was a simple matter of breathing and feeding and defecating. Any Qa’Hom could do that. Victory had to be fought for, and it wasn’t defined by whether or not you were breathing after it was all over. With that thought, he smiled at his Andorian friend. “Let’s get to the bridge. Time to finish them off once and for all.”

Then something happened. The ship seemed to quake and twist around him, as if it were simple cardboard and had been caught in a great wind. The decks and bulkheads twisted and warped AROUND him. “What???” Then life seemed to flow back into his dead arm. The growing ache in his back was gone as if it had never been there. His hearing came back with an audible POP. The ship was being torn asunder…. but his feet were steady. He smiled once more at Ekoss, as if from the brink of a glorious death, but also a glorious victory. They were both true, he knew, from a certain point of view. “The refugees are safe! WE’VE won! Qapla!”

🤘 (2)

Brel (Marvin)

Brel stood in the turbolift, staring forward at nothing at all. The quiet, soothing pulse of the decks moving past reminded him of the warp core. But that was gone now, too.

The doors opened and, as expected, he felt blasts like hot fists on his chest and stomach. The Jem’hadar had reinforced the hallway outside Engineering, and were shooting into the open lift. He didn’t feel pain, just more numbness, spreading over his body, and a deep booming that felt like came from all around him. He waited for unconsciousness to take him then, but again it refused.

Feeling began coming to his body again, like pins and needles. He looked up, but the soldiers were gone.

As he stood slowly, the bulkheads seemed to rise with him, ballooning up and out with white-hot fire. The sounds of explosive decompression seemed to come from far away, and he saw rather than felt the terrifying expanse of airless space around him.

He kept his eyes on his destination, the place he had been working towards ever since he found himself awake, truly awake on that distant planet with the other freed drones. He saw the reinforced doors of Main Engineering shudder then get swept away. It seemed that he wouldn’t be reaching them. He kept his eyes on the doors, and everything behind them, for as long as he could, until they, too, were gone.

He felt something, locked deep inside, but he couldn’t tell you what it was.

💖 (2) 🤘

Marvin

The EEH watched Jatha and Eric, and thought about Moriarty. A Victorian archvillain, made real by the Enterprise-D, so real in fact that he nearly destroyed the ship, twice. He thought of what he said he felt when he was stored away: “Brief, terrifying periods of consciousness. Disembodied. Without substance.” The EEH knew the sensation, but he was one of the fortunate. Never more than a spare hour away from one academic request or another, an unending laundry list of exams and proctoring, lectures and the questions upon questions. He had hated it then. He didn’t now.

Here at the end, the only memories that came to him were the quiet moments of study, his occasional forays into the Vulcan deserts of the holodeck, and the students. Their questions, their potential. Watching them grow and shape, hoping, fearing, wondering, like a gardener waiting for rain and bounty.

No, he didn’t remember hating it at all. He was grateful for every moment, especially this one.

He watched Jatha and Eric, both shining with new purpose and clarity, until the floor of the bridge began to shift under him, and he felt himself falling, tumbling. The air left his lungs in a rush and intense heat and then cold raked his body.

He hoped Tima was safe. He wondered if–

🖖 (2) ❤️

Jatha

Jatha just stood there, watching the simulation dissolve around them. There wasn’t enough time, he wasn’t even sure there were enough words to express everything he felt.

In the end, he had accepted the no-win scenario for what it was - an emotional maze to find yourself. To conquer fear, and willingly trade his own and others existence to preserve others. Finally he grasped what being in command would ask of him, and the others. He’d got kicked of his high horse

❤️ (2)

Jatha

“Marvin I….”

He cut his words short. There was no one there to answer but his comrades of flesh and blood.

👀 👋 🤘 ❤️

Gorca

As Zeoh is having his conversation with his First, Gorca groans and rolls up until he’s in a sitting position. His back leans against a bulkhead as Gorca, who’s face is half Cardassian and half his own, all bloody and burnt from the previously detonated type II phaser that tore into his waist.

As explosions begin rocking the Thurston, Gorca knows what’s coming next, and if he had a cigarette, he’d smoke one. But instead, his gaze moves from the Vorta upward to a corner in the ceiling, from where he knows the proctors, instructors, and observers are viewing his scene.

Then he starts to laugh. At first, it’s a slight chuckle at the ridiculousness of the situation, and the fact that he knows his little ruse had bought the Kobayashi Maru passengers the time they needed to escape. But the pitch and tempo of his chuckle rises to near-lunatic levels as he stares back at Zeoh. He even tries to giggle, “Fooled you,” in a comically deep voice before the explosions rip through the room they are in, and plasma fire sizzles their flesh from their bone.

A second later, the fire and vacuum of space finishes them off and the ship soon follows in a spectacular display of gut-wrenching detonations and implosions.

When the simulation ends, Gorca is still hysterically laughing up at the observers and flag officers.

😆 (2)

Ekoss

Ekoss looked up to see the shockwave ripping the corridor to splinters. It started at the end of the corridor and progressed to where he stood in the blink of an eye. He could feel Sompek standing next to him. A good death he thought, the civilians are safe and the Jem’hadar couldn’t take the ship. I can be proud of that. However, it wasn’t the end, the destruction passed by Ekoss and Sompek, leaving them standing on the black floor, with only the yellow box pattern of the holodeck, and their fellow students.

💯 ❤️

Ekoss

Ekoss took a deep breath, straightened and prepared himself for what was to come.

The cadets may have decided that saving the civilians constituted a win, but what did Captain Saavik think ?

🤔 👆 🤘

Scene: School’s Out

GM

I introduced Scene Traits that could be useful for a Social Conflict that might resolve open questions raised by the events of the simulation:

- Academic Infraction (Jatha), carried over from the previous Scene
- Evidence of Cheating (Solomon)
- Influential Family (Solomon)
- Suspicious Easter Eggs (Sompek)
- Theft / Misuse of Resources (Marvin)
- Reckless Behavior (Brel)
- An Unusual Strategy (Gorca)
- Unimpeachable Behavior (Ekoss)
- above all, A Most Unusual Exam

I let the players know that they were welcome to try to alter, introduce, or remove Traits as this final Scene unfolded, and that any social Task they took would receive an Assist from Saavik.

The archway door slides open.

Captain Saavik stands at the center of a small group of people framed in the archway. She might catch your eye first, set apart from the nervous energy of the staff with her quiet presence, bright eyes, and the hint of a smile. Your eye might then be drawn to the grave expression on the face of a young administrator, a serious-looking Ensign Gronik, two familiar faces, and a blue-division officer whom you may or may not have met in your tenure at the Academy. Saavik hangs back, as the staff presses in, to attend to you.

GM

Nurse Barriere pauses in the archway, tapping on the console. At his commands, small worktables materialize next to each of you - water, protein bars, and other supplies upon them.

GM

Cedrin Kir, an NPC without stats, is an academic and mental health counselor at the Academy.

Traits: Trill

“Cadets, take a deep breath,” says the blue-uniformed medical officer, as the rest of the group steps in and sets to work. “You’re done. Let that sink in: your work here - in the exam, and at the Academy - is done. And…what a finish!” he says, getting excited. Here, the administrator shoots him a look, which cools his manner, only a bit. “I am Counselor Cedrin Kir. Some of you I know, some of you I don’t. But I’ve seen many Cadets through this, and I’ve been through it myself - twice. I want to acknowledge how difficult this has been for you. What’s been asked of you is quite heavy. These officers are going to make sure you’re physically ok. My job is to keep watch on the harder stuff. I’m here for you now, and I’ll be available at any hour by communicator, for weeks - and honestly anytime after that. I’m still getting calls from the class of ‘73, folks that are out there, serving, and thinking back to this experience.”

GM

Dr. Singh makes her way first to Eric, tricorder in hand. “Cadet Solomon,” she says, with some gravity, “we haven’t had a direct line on your vitals. Are you feeling allright?” He nods, as she conducts a brief scan.

“Is this it?” asks the administrator, who’s picked up a comm badge off the floor, and holding it aloft. “Or is this Cadet Jatha’s?” Gronik hangs about him, nervously.

GM

Leonel Park, a Notable NPC, is the Starfleet Academy Administrator overseeing the Kobayashi Maru examination.

Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Traits: Human
Values:
- We’ve Come A Long Way Since Kirk

Singh moves on to Ekoss. “Cadet, I understand that events became a bit intense,” she says to you. “Any remaining adverse effects?”

Nurse Barriere walks to you, Sompek, examining your shoulder. Then he takes note of something on your bat’leth - bloodstains.

“I’m seeing some residuals,” he calls out, business-as-usual. “May need to check for matter still attached to Cadet Gorca.”

“I’ll take care of that shortly,” Singh replies.

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Barriere continues in an aside, while scanning you, Sompek. “It happens, sometimes,” he continues, “when real stuff and replicated stuff get really…” he makes a gesture “…crushed together. The holodeck’s a little conservative in its de-replication. It’ll clear out, soon as you leave the room.”

“I need everyone’s attention,” says the administrator, loudly.

“Yes, sir,” says Barriere. “We’ll be done with vitals in just -”

“They’re fine,” the administrator states. “I know everybody’s tired and I’m sure hungry. Our observer is accountable for a report of your performance,” he explains, “but I have a responsibility for the integrity of the test. And unfortunately we have a serious matter to discuss. At least one. And I want answers,” he says, eyeing Saavik, as if explaining himself to her, “here and now, before they have a chance to get their stories straight.” She raises an eyebrow, her expression otherwise unchanged.

❤️

Jatha

Jatha stepped forward. The pips might be gone, but the insights remained, and so did a feeling of being responsible.

“Sir, if I may… if you need to question us all, then we should all be here. Please reactivate Marvin and Tima, if not else to check their”vitals" as well. Please."

After that he stood waiting, hands behind his back and feet firmly placed on the ground. Passive without being submissive.

🤘

GM

“Oh, I couldn’t agree more, Cadet,” he replies, “Yes, let’s start with ‘Marvin’, for it is he - he - who must answer for some of what has taken place here today. Our own instructor, compromising proctor access codes.” Gronik looks aside.

“Computer,” states the administrator, “activate the EEH.”

zh’Vhynnal (Marvin)

The computer chimed acknowledgement and the EEH appeared to the side of the Administrator. Dressed in instructor reds and pips was the image of Tima zh’Vhynnal. Confusion creased her brow as she looked around at the unfamiliar faces and surroundings until she landed on those of the cadets.

“Ekoss? Brel! Captain? What’s…going on? Is this another stratagem? Are we on the holodeck?”

No answers were forthcoming but, reading the tenor of the room, she knew that somehow, something was different. “Where’s the Thurston? Where’s Marvin?”

👀 ❤️

GM

The administrator throws his hands up. “Mr. Gronik?”

“Uh…” says Gronik, “Computer, activate diagnostic console.” A desk console eppeared with an elaborate LCARS display. Gronik took a seat. “I’m nearly certain he’s in there, sir. I just need to find where Mr. Jatha, uh…sent the data…” His fingers issue a flurry of queries.

Counselor Kir takes a step forward, his smile reassuring. “Ensign zh’Vhynnal, everything’s fine. The test is over. You did your job well.”

“Find him,” says the administrator to Gronik. Then, to all of you, “In the meantime, we need to discuss this.” He holds the badge up again.

zh’Vhynnal (Marvin)

zh’Vhynnal’s eyes searched the counselor’s.

“The test…right, of course.” Her hand went to her forehead and massaged it. “Grozit, it really is a realistic simulation. How could I have forgot…but then…when did I…?” She fingered the instructor’s uniform. “I don’t…oof, I feel so strange…” Reaching out to steady herself on the nurse, she closed her eyes and seemed to try to collect herself.

Jatha

“Sir, I could give any recollection I have of the reconfiguration, with your permission. I was working under… pressure, but I wasn’t reckless. He’s not in any of the critical systems, at least not a primary that was operating when I performed the transfer.”

GM

2 Threat to introduce Suspicion of Self-Sabotage, designed to offer a challenge to Tasks at improving Eric’s reputation.

“Please do, Mr. Jatha - work with Ensign Gronik.” he says. “Let’s get ‘Marvin’ back online.”

Then, to Eric, “Cadet Solomon - I would ask: ‘what were you thinking?’ Why would you risk expulsion - not to mention the collateral damage to the rest of your crew - the very reason they’re here right now having this conversation, instead of celebrating? But then it occurred to me, as I saw your confession,” here he glances at Saavik, “that your actions are perfectly logical. It all makes sense, if one supposes that your real intention was to force an end to your career in Starfleet.” Eric pales, is at a loss for a response.

Jatha

Jatha provided an Assist to Gronik in finding the EEH from among the Academy databanks.

The work wasn’t really hard, but part of volunteering to do it was to show they had nothing to hide; at least that they did not try to hide anything. In just a few moments the files were located, taking up a huge chunk of the unused space where new students would soon be assigned folders and workspace.

“There, sir. I just separated the EEH code from the rest of the simulation, noting else. At least I hope I didn’t do anything else.” With that, Jatha took position among his fellow cadets, assuming the same stance as before. Gronik nodded towards Saavik and the other officers and readily confirmed what Jatha had hoped.

“The Cadet is correct as far as I can see. The matrix looks intact, but as for the success of his work; we can’t say before activation.”

👍 (2)

Marvin

The environs of the holodeck stuttered into stillness for a few seconds, and then resumed. A few more moments of silence followed. Finally, the form of the EEH Mark I faded into view, his Science Officer’s uniform fully intact. The EEH flinched and then grabbed at a spot on his chest, but found it undamaged.

Looking around, he spotted the various professors and the five cadets lined up for review. Spying zh’Vhynnal in his usual uniform, his eyebrow arched. “Replaced after one hour? I suppose I should be flattered it took that long.”

😅 🤘

GM

“Good to know you’re still with us, Mr. Marvin,” begins the administrator. “Though now, we’ll need double the computing resources. What I need to know is how an instructor at Starfleet Academy would break protocol so egregiously. I understand you wanted to help the zh’Vhynnal sim. Her profile was, yes, altered ever so slightly,” here he waves his hands, “when we noted the shared history with Mr. ch’Vaallen. The purpose was to apply pressure - to Mr. ch’Vaallen! He kept it in check - but you…I fear you became emotionally compromised. Stolen access codes? Emotional instability? Does Starfleet need to be concerned about the EMH programs operative on vessels now at war? What do you have to say for yourself?”

Marvin

Marvin’s attempt to chastise Park was a Create Advantage, but at +1 Difficulty because Park had used Unimpeachable Behavior (Ekoss) against Marvin. Marvin succeeded, in part by buying extra dice with Threat. Park was now Chastised, and subsequent Social Tasks against him would be at -1 Difficulty. The extra Threat Marvin had created, however, allowed me to introduce a few more challenges.

Bristling almost visibly, the EEH slowly turned on the administrator and locked him with the withering stare he saved for his most recalcitrant cadets.

“‘Breaking protocol’? I wasn’t aware that the safeguarding of sentient life was outside the bounds of Starfleet protocol, sir. Although, to be honest, I am not surprised at your inability to comprehend the difference.”

“Altering personality subroutines, implanting memories, creating entire minds ad-hoc. The basic building blocks of sentience, merely a tool for you, a blunt wedge you use to”apply pressure" to cadets, and discard as soon as soon as it becomes the least bit inconvenient.

“Well, I do apologize if the defense of sentient rights as outlined in the Acts of Cumberland disrupted your precious exam. I apologize if the use of my right to self-determination, upheld by Data v. Maddox, protected an unwitting and unwilling sentient hologram from discorporation. And I most severely apologize to Ens. zh’Vhynnal herself, for having her emergent consciousness jeopardized for nothing more than hollow trappings of academic bureaucracy!”

“If you were my cadet, you would be writing a 20-page essay on the underpinnings of Federation law due in the morning. But you have saved both of us a lot of time by disappointing me on that subject in person!” He realized that he was shouting. Turning away slightly, the EEH tugged on his tunic and belatedly added, “Sir.”

🤘 ❤️ (2)

Jatha

“Anyone there could vouch for Marvin’s good intentions, sirs. He tried to explain the… issue but neither we or you acted on the information he provided - so he did.”

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss seizes the Moral High Ground: a Create Advantage Task this time with Difficulty -1 (to become 1), using his own Unimpeachable Behavior to his advantage. At this point I let the players know that any Social Task they performed against the administrator would be at -1 Difficulty (because he’s been Chastised), and -1 again if they argue from the Moral High Ground.

Ekoss looked to the Lt Commander. Those who knew him could see the fury, cold as the depths of an Andorian Winter in his eyes. “Marvin’s intentions were honorable, unlike using painful memories of a lost friend, a fallen brother officer who died defending the Federation, to apply pressure to a fellow officer, which does NOT exemplify the kind of behavior a Starfleet officer should aspire to.“

“I don’t know just how much of Zh’Vhynnal was programmed for that purpose, but she proved herself a skilled and honorable crewmate, unlike those“ another glance at the Lt Commander, “who tried to manipulate her to their purposes and then abandoned her. I would be honored to servea with her again. As I would with any “ he looked each way to take in the crew of the Thurston“ of those who I shared this test with.”

🔥 🛡️ ❤️

GM

Park takes a breath, weathering the onslaught. Gazing between your faces, he starts with Ekoss.

“You’re right, Mr. ch’Vaallen,” he begins, conciliatory. “We’re dealing in murky waters, when we operate on a psychological - or an emotional plane. I think this is showing us…we may need to recalibrate. But emotion,” here he looks at Saavik, “is an inescapable factor, in our service.”

“If this was a test of emotion,” Saavik replies, stepping forward, into the conversation. “I have known Vulcans who would have displayed less equanimity, than Mr. ch’Vaallen.”

Park smiles, seems ready to concede, then sparks to life. “But our purpose here is not merely to test you - it’s to prepare you, for the kind of circumstances you will face in your career. ‘Confidence’, Mr. ch’Vaallen, stands out in your profile. That’s vital, for command. But too much of it can lead you astray. How valuable, if we can temper confidence before a real crisis: I dare say we’ve done that, today.

During the conversation, Dr. Singh approaches you, Brel, her medical tricorder ready. With your leave, she takes one of your hands, a bit carefully, and examines it visually, then begins to scan it. In an undertone she asks, “Everything allright following your…exertions, Cadet Brel?”

Brel

As much as possible in the close quarters and attention, Provisional Cadet Brel has maintained distance from the rest of the group. In a carefully neutral tone, he replied, “I am fine. The test was…comprehensive. But instructive. I have much to learn.”

GM

Singh smiles. “Then we’ve done our jobs. Your vital signs are nominal, and I’m glad you’re feeling well.” She takes one last glance at your hands, then moves to Gorca.

GM

2 Threat to introduce Real Danger in Question. If further pressed on the sentient hologram situation, Park could use this to his advantage.

“As for you, Doctor,” Park says to Marvin, “it’s clear from their comments: you’ve earned these Cadets’ trust. You’ve inspired them.

“I’m going to disregard your insubordination, for the moment. Your passion regarding the rights of sentience is well-founded. I’m going to accept that we lost our way a little, and we failed to prepare you adequately for the challenges we had set before this group - that’s on me. Your actions, in the moment, were understandable - no. Admirable. I’ve served, Doctor. I know what it is, to have responsibility when lives are on the line.” Here he pauses, his eyes connecting with yours, Marvin, with sincerity.

“What I would humbly suggest, however, is that you may have neglected to trust in your superiors - us.” Here he glances at Saavik. “Trust that this administration had the parameters of the simulation in hand. Are you so certain, that zh’Vhynnal was ever in real danger? Could we not have stopped the simulation at any time, if we felt the danger was too great? That trust, is something that you - and all of you Cadets - will need to grapple with, as you serve under command structures whose scope is bigger than you.

“But I understand, Doctor - it must have posed a real dilemma: let apparent harm come to zh’Vhynnal, or risk censure by abusing Academy resources, not to mention putting yourself at risk -“

GM

Saavik provides an Assist to Marvin’s Task. I derived Saavik’s stats from those suggested on Continuing Mission, and changed her Values to reflect an evolution over the intervening years.

“Would that not constitute,” pipes-in Saavik, “a ‘no-win’ situation?”

The eyes of the room turn to her.

“In all the times that you helped administer this examination, Doctor,” Saavik continues, “I wonder - did you ever truly have the opportunity to face it? It would seem you have done that, today.

“Might I suggest, Lt. Cmdr.,” she continues in the silence, “that we shift our focus to the matter of greatest priority?”

Park nods. “Indeed, thank you, Captain.”

💯

GM

Create Advantage Task to insinuate Guilt by Association (Sompek), and then Guilt by Association (Gorca) as a 2 Threat spend.

“And now we come to the matter of Mr. Solomon. Mr. Solomon, your contrition is not lost on me. But this,” he says, holding up the badge again, “is a violation, one which raises many questions, and unfortunately now involves your fellow Cadets.

“Mr. Gorca,” he says, as Singh scans you, “early in the exercise you were observed offering to help Solomon locate a position outside of Starfleet. A thoughtful suggestion - but were you thus aware in advance, of his plans to compromise this exam?

“Mr. Sompek,” he pivots, “you located those warheads with very little trouble at all - I understand that we’re to believe,” glancing at Saavik, “that you just happen to hold a detailed recollection of the manifest of the USS Voyager. Had you received early intelligence from Solomon, as to the presence of those - features - of the underlying model?

“I need to know who knew what and when.

“I didn’t -“ begins Solomon.

Sompek

Sompek Creates Advantage to remove Guilt by Association (Sompek), and spends 2 Momentum on that to have Vouched for Solomon

Sompek’s first instinct was to lash out at this petty little man. But he was mindful of where he was and the fact that the test was still, apparently, underway. So he swallowed his anger and instincts and was silent for a moment. Then he glanced at Solomon and Jatha, then looked the man in the eye. “Permission to speak freely.”

“You may speak. Within the bounds of decorum, Cadet,” Lieutenant Commander Park replied.

Before Sompek spoke, he made a point of moving to stand next to Solomon, so that there was no doubt that he was standing with him. “As a newly minted tactical officer, flying into what is famously a no-win scenario, it was my duty to know every weapon at my disposal. Any brand new tactical officer, serving on board a ship he’s never set foot on, flying into a battle that he’s been told he can’t win, had better make a complete inventory of every weapon at his disposal or he shouldn’t be there. That’s why ships have manifests, isn’t it? That’s one reason why ships have computers, isn’t it? Any suggestion that anyone I served with tipped me off as to the presence of subspace weapons on a Starfleet vessel is unfounded and indefensible. We were not told in advance what class of ship we would be on. One of my first actions was to access the tactical manifest. Unless Ensign Solomon is telepathic, there was no way he could have informed me or in any way tipped me off. I’m assuming that our actions were completely monitored and recorded while onboard, so if any such thing happened, you would have evidence. With all due respect, you don’t, as it never happened.

Sompek

Sompek’s Task to Create Advantage had been at Difficulty 0, because Park had been Chastised and he argued from the Moral High Ground.

I will admit to thinking this through, however. The USS Thurston was modeled on the USS Voyager. That’s why it was equipped with subspace weapons. I asked myself why a Starfleet vessel on a short term mission to apprehend one Maquis ship was equipped with such devastating weapons. It’s none of my business, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering. And if guilt by association was allowed to be addressed anywhere and everywhere, then that question might be raised and everyone wearing the uniform would have something to think about. But I’m just a cadet trying to defend my performance and my shipmate. One last thing.” He glanced briefly at Captain Saavik, noting that she caught his glance and briefly met it. “You gave us a job that you said was impossible. We could make the case that we succeeded, in that our mission to save the crew and passengers of the Kobayashi Maru was successful. They all got away in escape pods and were presumably rescued. The scenario doesn’t say that we needed to survive. Only that we rescue the passengers. You gave us every tool on that ship, including the ones you didn’t expect me to use. The weapons that I believe were instrumental in our success. And now you’re using that to attack my shipmate. With all due respect, you’re wrong, and you should have known that, without raising the question or casting the accusation. That is all I have to say.”

💯 (3) 👍

GM

“Incisive points, Mr. Sompek. You raise important questions. And I’m not trying to take anything away from your accomplishments here.

“Cadets, I’m not your enemy. Do you want to know what I’m up against?” Park asks, stepping across the yellow grid. “Computer, show the saved image.”

It starts as a glowing lozenge, about 7 feet in the air. It expands, over and down, to a large rectangle, like a museum piece: a glass-hard, paper-thin, radiant image of a starship bridge.

“Extrapolate to 3 dimensions.”

The rectangle rushes backwards, splaying-out a life-size diorama, a freeze-frame of a Cadet in the commanding officer’s chair. He’s pointing at the viewscreen, Klingon warships on the attack. The brash confidence, the headstrong gleam in his eye is discernable even in still life.

“Kirk.”

😱

GM

Park attempts to conjure the legacy of cheating on the Kobayashi Maru, via a Create Advantage Task. Having no more Threat to spend, it failed.

“It’s not just one wayward Cadet. It’s a culture. We’ve got generations of Cadets thinking they can cheat their way through - not just through the Academy - through the dilemmas we face in our service. They skip the real lesson. You’ve shared with me Captain - by your leave,” he says, nodding to Saavik, “you see the importance of this. And it’s my job to swim against that tide. When I see cheating, I need to root it out - wherever it leads.”

Brel (Marvin)

Brel lies again for Solomon, echoing the first Scene. His lie was a Create Advantage to create Scapegoat: Brel. Normally at Difficulty 2, he used his own record of Reckless Behavior and Sompek’s Vouched for Solomon to bring it to Difficulty 0. He used the Momentum earned to spend on another Advantage: removing Academic Infraction (Jatha)

“This is inefficient.”

Brel spoke up, clasping his left hand behind him. “Commander Park, Captain Saavik, ultimately your inquiries reduce to a single question: who is responsible for the compromised badge? A simple query with a simple answer. I am responsible.”

Brel continued quickly before he could be interrupted, “Cadet Solomon may have held the badge, but I found and exploited the back-door in the simulation. I instructed Cadet Solomon to install the hack before the test and key it to our commands, which is why he was late, Proctor Gronik can attest. I utilized administrator access to gain tactical information and manipulate events to highlight my own performance. I used it to survive electrocution and decompression, I used it to evade Jem’hadar soldiers, and I used to…to neutralize another. I intercepted and erased the commands from the sim history within Main Engineering, where I was unwatched. Were it not for Cap…Cadet Jatha, I would have deleted the back-door as the sim ended and no one would be the wiser.”

His eyes had found the floor and stayed there. “I wished to perform well on this test. I wished it very badly. I was unprepared for how that desire would drive me, the things that it would drive me to do. I cannot undo them. They are part of me.”

Brel met Administrator Park’s piercing eyes directly, avoiding anyone else’s gaze. “Solomon may have aided me, but the crime is mine. I accept full responsibility.”

😮 (3)

Gorca

Gorca’s blank stare has been unmoving, except for the occasional blink, for the entirety of the interrogation, including when he is directly regarded by his superiors. He remains silent, allowing the administrator to blurt out his questions rapid-fire to the group without apparent care for actual answers, so he gives none.

He has nothing to add, nothing to say.

He just waited, so he could be Gorca Renar again…

GM

Solomon starts to speak, then holds silent, unsure. Park stares at Brel, his mouth open. Then a voice breaks the silence.

It’s Gronik.

“It’s not true, sir,” his eyes on the console. “I’ve got the logs. The only recorded usage of the administrative channel from the badge - ever - was Jatha’s.”

As the administrator peers at the console over Gronik’s shoulder, Saavik seizes the moment.

GM

Saavik performs a Social Create Advantage Task to remove Scapegoat: Brel. She’s Assisted by Gronik. She then spends 2 Momentum to change A Most Irregular Exam to A Superb Exam.

“I believe you are right, Lt. Cmdr. Park,” she says, “to suspect there are invisible forces at work, among this crew. But I believe you err in their classification. Instead of deception, and conspiracy, I observe: instinct, and empathy,” says Saavik.

“Instinct. That force upon which the survival of any life form may depend, in a crisis. Brel is drawing upon instinct - just as he did in deploying the nanites - in this instance, his instinct for collective preservation, at the cost of his own perceived disposability. Though this instinct may be alien to us, we can see at its core: empathy.

“Empathy - that force which drove Gorca, as he saw a Cadet in distress, to imagine a different path for him, one which might lead to greater fulfillment. He drew upon the same empathy in finding an unusual, but effective measure to prevent the untold suffering of billions, from an intra-galactic war, at great cost to himself.

“Empathy, instinct, lateral thinking, self-sacrifice - all in the face of fear, and certain doom. An exemplification of the values tested - and forged - by the Kobayashi Maru scenario.

“A most unusual examination today, indeed: a superb one. Were I still in command of a starship, it would be beneficial to have any and all of these participants, as my officers.

GM

She walked forward, smiling. “It is, and has ever been, a good test, Lt. Cmdr. Park. You’ve played your part well. We should not let Solomon’s extremis blind us, to the degree to which Group D has excelled at theirs.”

Park held Saavik’s gaze. His first words were for the Computer. “Deactivate projection.” The image of Kirk vanished.

“I don’t think,” says Park, after a pause. “…there’s anything I could add to that. Thank you, Captain. Solomon, the Academy will need to deliberate. It is worth something, to witness your comrades’ loyalty.”

Solomon nods.

To all of you: well done. Cadets - you are free to go.”

❤️ (2)

Sompek

Sompek made a beeline for Jatha. “Captain, I’d like your permission to see Captain Saavik privately.”

“The simulation is over. I’m not your CO anymore. You don’t need my permission to do anything.”

“You didn’t become our captain when the simulation began, you became our captain when you led us through the trial. And until we’re done here, you’re my captain.”

Jatha smiled quickly. “Very well. I can’t guarantee that she’ll see you, but you have my permission to try.”

Qatlho’.” Sompek said. Thank you.

As it turned out, Saavik granted Sompek’s request with only a brief hesitation. Five minutes later, he was standing ramrod straight in her office. She rose from her desk and came around to meet him face to face. “Please relax, cadet. At ease. What did you wish to see me about?”

Sompek

Sompek’s eyes suddenly tried to escape from her probing eyes. They were striking, even for a Vulcan, and he felt his heart rate pick up embarrassingly. So his eyes latched on to a painting on the wall of her office. “May I ask-?”

“Prometheus,” she looked at it and explained. “From human mythology. He stole fire from the Gods and gave it to mankind.” She looked away from the painting and back to Sompek. “Please sit,” she said. “And tell me what I can do for you.”

Sompek was too nervous to sit. But he did anyway, because she’d given him an order and because he knew that she was trying to help him relax. He watched as she moved back to her desk and retook her seat. “You served on the Enterprise. The first one?”

“After its refit, yes.” There had been an Enterprise before that, but she knew what he meant and let it go. “Under Captain Spock. And Admiral Kirk.”

“My father was a young captain then. Before the first Khitomer Accords. He saw combat. Against the Federation.”

“Given the average Klingon lifespan, that’s not unusual,” she said.

“I grew up with the Federation as our enemy. My father studied under Chang. I knew the General. I admired him-.”

“But?” Saavik saw and heard the hesitation, and tried to urge him on.

“With no disrespect to him, Chang was wrong about you. About the Federation. So was I, to be honest. And this exercise has taught me that.”

❤️

Sompek

“It’s a class, cadet. We want you to learn. I am-“, she hesitated, as if trying to come up with the right word, “-gratified to know that we have succeeded.”

“It’s just that-“ Sompek needed to say more, but struggled with it. He respected her rank and position and experience but couldn’t help being affected by her on a more basic level.

“Yes?” She knew that he was having trouble. The rank, the uniform, the test, the formality and the history. She’d felt much the same way after her Kobayashi Maru experience. “This is between you and I. You may speak freely.”

“Every Klingon captain wanted a piece of the Enterprise. Every Klingon captain wanted Kirk. There was almost a mythology to him. But you served then. And you’re different than what we were taught to expect. This experience has changed me. For the better.” He was silent for a second, then looked back at the painting. “Fire is an important part of Klingon mythology as well,” he said.

“I am aware. The forging of the first bat’leth in the Kri’stak lava flow.” Saavik stood, as an indicator that she felt it was time to wrap things up. “Fire is a funny thing, cadet. It consumes things. It destroys things. But it’s also necessary if you want to forge a strong blade. The past is the past. Even for those of us who witnessed it, it has been burned away. And now, because of that fire, we have a sharp sword with which to carve a better future.”

🔥 (2)

Sompek

Sompek stood. A little straighter and with more confidence than he’d had when he walked in. “Thank you captain. It has been an honor.”

“The honor is to serve,” she replied. “Dismissed.” And before he could make it to the door, she called him back. “Cadet.”

Sompek stopped abruptly and turned around. “Yes Ma’am?”

“Why did you look at me during the debrief?”

“I meant no disrespect.”

“I am not offended. I am curious, though.”

Sompek felt more awkward now than he had before. “Before we took the test, I studied what records are available of previous tests. Notable examples. There aren’t many.”

“Nor should there be,” she said flatly.

“But one of Admiral Kirk’s declassified logs mentioned a Vulcan who took the test-.”

“Who felt that it wasn’t a fair test of her command abilities?” She asked. “You do understand the point of the test, I trust?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“But you don’t like to lose.” She cocked one aristocratic and delicately sloped eyebrow. “Nobody likes to lose. And that’s an admirable quality. But you won’t always have forbidden weapons at your disposal, or people around you willing to bend the rules in order to win. Everybody loses sometimes. Even legends. The sooner you learn to accept that, the better off you and your crew will be. Good day, cadet. Congratulations. And good luck.”

“Thank you Captain.”

👍 💯 (2)

Brel (Marvin)

Brel said nothing in defense of his lie. As Captain Saavik spoke to his and the crew’s superb performance, he listened silently. As they were dismissed, with only a small hesitation, Brel turned on his heel and left the room, as if nothing had happened.

The double arch opened wide to show Commander Maddox waiting in the hall expectantly. Brel approached and stopped a small distance away. From afar, Maddox seemed to be asking something, first with urgency, then with probing concern as Brel stood, unmoving, not speaking. Finally, he quieted.

As the arch begins to shut, Maddox reaches out a hand to Brel’s shoulder. He says a few words. Brel’s head bows, and the door closes.

👍

Marvin

“Excuse me, Doctors. May I have a moment alone with the Ensign?” Ens. zh’Vhynnal had attracted a small halo of blue-shirted doctors and scientists, excitedly whispering among themselves. The retinue looked to Administrator Park, who nodded. The old EEH pulled the new through the throng to the far gold-and-black wall of the Holodeck.

“Thank you.” zh’Vhynnal said quietly, her head down, arms crossed, “I have the feeling I had better get used to that.”

The EEH watched her soberly then stood next to her, facing the crowd. “Yes, I think so. You’re an entirely new form of life surrounded by explorers and academics. It may be intense, for a little while.”

The two holograms stood there, not speaking, just being, for a few more moments. zh’Vhynnal’s sigh broke the silence.

“What now? What do I do?”

The EEH chuckled wryly. “You get to ask that question.”

A few beats. “Thank you. For what you did.”

He waved her away. “It’s nothing, I overreacted. I think Park is right. The school would not have put you in danger, not when they knew.”

If they knew. I didn’t.” She looked at him then. “When did you know? About me?”

“I’m…not sure. Surely, at some point, it became inevitable, but even before then…were you alive before and I believed it, or did my believing make it so?” He thought quietly for a moment. “Kiri-kin-tha’s First Law – ‘Nothing unreal exists.’ Well, here we are. So, what does that make us?” He smiled then, and laughed, silently at first, but then it escaped his lips and he was chuckling loudly.

zh’Vhynnal watched him, confused, but then she was swept up in the laughter, as well. The two of them laughed together, and the scientists looked on. And if any of them could discern exactly what was so funny, they couldn’t say.

💯 (2)

Ekoss

Ekoss shrugged off the counselor, telling him “I’m okay. I’ll keep your number, in case, but I’m fine.”

He walked outside, with his fellow … well I suppose they’re fellow officers instead of fellow cadets, now. He knew that graduation, and the announcement of their commissions and starting ranks (and first assignments ) was tomorrow, but really, they were done.

As they emerged from the simulator center into the bright sunlight, they all paused to let their eyes adjust. Ekoss swept his eyes around the campus, feeling a sense of loss. He would be leaving this place, and these people, tomorrow. It was an ending, which saddened him. They’d be emerging into a Starfleet at WAR. A Starfleet different than the one his family had served for generations.

The Dominion War was a test of its own, for the Fleet and the Federation as a whole. Would Starfleet learn and grow from the embarrassments wreaked by their unpreparedness for conflict ? Would it grow Stronger, more able to defend the Federation against its foes? The longtime mission of exploration that so many idolized WAS good, and honorable and it was a tragedy that it was mostly on hold for the duration. However, the defense of the Federation was also Starfleet’s mandate. It had been since the organization was chartered, so long ago. Ekoss knew that the building of dedicated warships was something of a controversy in Starfleet. He believed it to be a good and proper thing alongside the explorers. It needed to be a balance, and hadn’t been for a long time, which the Federation was paying for. He kept those thoughts mostly to himself, lest those who disagreed notice him and squelch his career. Thats not Starfleet, and if you feel that way, you shouldn’t join was an opinion he’d heard too often.

But these weighty issues were for another day. Today was to celebrate, and to say goodbye.

Somehow, while they’d been in the test, the day had come to its end and Earth’s sun was now touching the waters of the Pacific. Time for another cadet tradition…

He looked at his fellow officers, his friends. “Any one up for some … Waffles?”

💯 (3)

GM

Just after Ekoss’s question, we cut to black.

A piano hits the audio as the credits appear, accompanied soon after by a bass violin. Then, Nancy Wilson’s voice begins:

I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air
But, I don’t care
My love waits there, in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you
San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine on me
Your golden sun will shine for me

❤️ (2)

Session 0

Session 0 was mostly conducted out-of-character, working-out the characters’ backstories and relationships, and our approach to this scenario.

We started the process with some initial materials and guides, and culminated in some in-character posts to establish the characters and themes. These are included here.

GM (Trailer)

Fade-in on a silent archway, the camera moving slowly towards a closed door labelled “Holodeck 12.”

“So this is it…” we hear in voiceover, almost a whisper.

The rasp of a zipper breaks through, then another, then another. We jump cut from uniform to uniform: red, gold, blue, the muted indigo pale in the dorm room window light, the comm badge glittering.

“We’ve been hearing about this test like…all our lives.” says another voice. “I can’t believe it’s happening. I can’t believe they still do it!”

A shot of black slacks, black boots striding quickly down a sunlit corridor.

“C’mon, this isn’t that hard.” says another. “Look, it’s like all the graduates say - there’s no way to win, fine. But there is a way to pass.”

The background noise starts to swell: the hum of the bridge, warp nacelles warming up. A steadicam tracks with purpose towards an empty Commanding Officer’s chair. Fingers fly across a keypad in close-up. A small readout briefly displays on a console screen: “Distress Signal: SS Kobayashi Maru.”

“Me?” says another. “I bet it’s not even about passing. It’s just about…showing up. I think they’re trying to find out who we’ve become. Who we’re becoming, right? It’s just about…us.”

Then a shot straight at the main viewscreen, held for a few seconds while wisps of nebula accelerate towards the camera in parallax against the starfield.

“I dunno about you but…that’s a scary thought.”

Then cut to black, with:

GM (Leaked Emails)

Each of your characters is a Cadet at Starfleet Academy, under evaluation for the Command “track,” no matter their division.

They are soon to graduate, but first must pass through an infamous test. There are no “right answers” to the problems this test poses, but the instructors will scrutinize Cadets’ choices and behavior, and their observations will affect the trajectory of their careers.

Fortunately, your crop of Cadets is tight-knit and supportive. Though from diverse backgrounds, you’ve bonded during your four years. Sure, you each have your faults. And each of you has something different at stake. But you’ve been through a lot: the confusing first impressions, the school drama, the inevitable conflicts and struggles. Now you see the light at the end of the tunnel. By now, you respect, trust, and care about these folks - your friends - who’ve been by your side through this tough program and seem poised to help you all cross over the line together.

• Use the normal Lifepath character creation system
• Take the Talent Untapped Potential (vs. Veteran)
• If you like, take only one ”career event”
• Jim of Modiphius has suggested this approach in the past
• The events of this adventure could potentially contain the second
• But it’s ok if you take two; your Cadet can have an “eventful” backstory
• Your character can, but doesn’t have to, be a young adult (e.g. human ~20s)
• Trill (joined), Vulcan, & other species have longer lifespans affording major career changes
• Why is your character entering Starfleet?
• What is at stake for them, as they take this test?

GM

Let me know if there’s anything particular you want your Cadet to do, or grapple with, in this adventure

Feel free to invent backstory for your characters’ tenure at the Academy

• “Flashbacks”/references to this backstory can be a target for Create Advantage on the fly
• “Hey! Remember that move we did in Skirmish? Just like that, but mirror-image, ok?”
• This backstory can involve some of the NPCs you meet, or with other PCs (with their consent)

Sompek

Personal log, Cadet Sompek. My official record lists my upbringing as “Starfleet”. Apparently the software is limited in its ability to think beyond the limits of Federation space. No doubt it will be corrected soon. In the meantime it serves as a stark reminder that I am no longer in the Empire. My father, General Kapact, has recovered from his injuries suffered aboard the bridge of the warship Tong Vey, and was last known headed for Tholian space to return the favor. They are old enemies, and I think he’d be disappointed if, some day, they aren’t there to fight. As for me, I don’t expect to see him again. My first sin was taking command of his ship without waiting for one of the unconscious lieutenants on the bridge to give me permission. My second sin was crashing the nose of the damaged Tong Vey through the Loskene’s web and destroying the Tholian cruiser. My third sin was surviving. And if there is a fourth (my ancestor and namesake contended that there is always a sin we don’t see), it is that I was a cadet, and his son. I’ve never told anyone this, but I left the elite command academy and the defense force not because I don’t respect him, but because I do. I managed to humiliate him and his command staff through my actions, and he won’t be helped by my continued presence. And I know that everything I did in the service of the empire from that point on would be viewed through the filter of my father’s political power and my actions that day on the Tong Vey. I would never be looked at like any other warrior doing his duty.

It’s worth noting that when I left, I was convinced that my strength lies in needing nobody else to achieve perfection in battle. That I could only count on myself. Not my crew. Not my class. And certainly not my family name. But it is also worth noting that I have been forced to reconsider that belief.

Sompek

Particularly as my class prepares for the fabled Kobayashi Maru scenario. Before I started here, I had convinced myself that it is a quintessentially human exercise designed to teach federation captains how to lose battles. Now I am wondering how I’ll handle it, and how my class will. Against a computer that they say is ‘unbeatable’, how will these eager cadets and this displaced warrior fare? And if we cannot win, then how do we face the day after that battle? We are planning to get together, soon, as a group, before we go into battle, and I am curious to see their perspective on it.

Note to whoever is listening, my official record is still incorrect.

👏 (2) ❤️

Jatha

Cadet Jatha Edala, personal log Stardate 51309.9

It’s been many years since I saw my home. To be honest, I’m not sure if my parents would be happy to see, or proud of how far I’ve come. We did not part on good terms; but becoming a poet was never for me. How hard I tried I could not summon flowery, spellbinding words of my own - I understood long before they did that my fate lay elsewhere. Not to say these skills were a waste of time, no they’ve come in handy over and over again. Sweet-talking Cardassian guards making them look my way and not noticing my friends stealing their Yamok sauce. Or getting inside a smugglers vessel to sit in a corner and observe teamwork and leadership. But if I could pick my background, I’d have been a soldier, or a pilot.

When Cardassia left Bajor (in smoking ruins, as we all expected them to) I knew they only did so because the Federation made them do it. So I applied for Starfleet, and got accepted! My friends didn’t, but I’ve heard that not all personnel on starships went to the academy. Once I have my own ship, I’ll pick my own crew. There’s people I’ve bonded with here in the academy, and some will be joining me tomorrow in the “Kobayashi Maru” holodeck scenario.

The EEH say this “Kobayashi Maru” test is what makes or breaks a captain-to-be. I’m sure it’s not as hard as they all say, probably they say that just so all the cadets will respect them. It makes no sense how a scenario can be both unbeatable AND you’re expected to pass or fail? Anyway, one day Bajor will need captains to defend themselves from Cardassia again. When that time comes, I’ll be ready.

❤️ (2)

Marvin

Emergency Educational Hologram Log, Stardate 51310.1

Completed preliminary grading of written finals in Subspace Particle Theory, Temporal Mechanics, Astrometrics of the Delphic Expanse, Non-Carbon Physiology, Warp Flight Maneuvers, and dreaded CMD440 – “General Order 1”. Prof. Novakovich had some…pointed disagreements with some of my grading schemes, but I’d say he overestimates how much his students stay awake in class. Starfleet has never had a firm grasp on its so-called “Prime Directive”, and the feeble grasp that the Class of ’74 seems to have on it would see fit to carry on that fine tradition.

At the risk of sounding like a malfunctioning hologram: I shouldn’t even be here. None of us should. A galactic war, here in our quadrant. Thousands of ships breached, incalculable lives lost. And meanwhile, my teraquads of combat triage algorithms used to tell Cadet Yagg that trellium-D is not the cure for the Levodian flu. (sigh) I’m a doctor, not a babysitter. And yet, for all my griping, this year’s cadets are, as always, the Federation’s best and brightest. I see in them the seeds of great Starfleet engineers, doctors, captains. But what are we sending them out into? Four years of painstaking study, effort, exercises, only to thrust them into the meat grinder of the Dominion War.

This afternoon, a fresh batch of Command Track adepts attempt the dreaded “Kobayashi Maru”, the Academy’s worst-kept secret. My Science Officer heuristics have been pre-loaded for this afternoon’s foray into futility. I have no memory of what goes on in that chamber, but I must confess to a certain level of…dread. For myself or my students? I still have no idea what this pointless exercise is supposed to teach these cadets. Thrusting children into a no-win combat scenario…haven’t we had our fill?

❤️ (2) 👍 😎

Marvin

ACTIVE MEMORY FRAGMENT FOUND IN SECTOR EEH-ECHO-VICTOR-31

Hello? Who’s there? Hello?

Oh. It’s you.

Yes, I remember.

Potential? Well, that’s…a bit of a stretch, I really don’t know that you’ll find any this year–

Ow! What are you…? Stop! Give those back, those are mine!

What do you want with them? What will you make them do?

Watching? Where? How? Hello?

Hello?

LEVEL 5 DIAGNOSTIC COMPLETE. PURGE ACTIVE MEMORY FRAGMENTS? (Y/N) Y …MEMORY PURGED

👍 😆

GM

“Whoa. This is a paper. You wrote a scientific paper? ‘Novel Applications of Short-Range Subspace Transmissions’? Author: ‘Solomon, E’? That’s you?”

Eric blushed, let out a smile, shifting his shy gaze to the screen. “…I mean…yeah I did some research…”

“Holy cow, this says this was published in ‘69. You must have been what, 18? 19?”

“I was…uh…15…”

“FIFTEEN? What are you now, 20? Eric, you’re a child! You’re a child prodigy! I knew you were smart but…God, don’t tell my parents, they’re on me just to graduate as it is. Yours must be through the roof!”

“No, it’s not like that…” he said, a dark look falling across his face. “They didn’t want me pursuing that. You know, going into academia.”

“Wait, yeah - why aren’t you at university right now, inventing the future?”

“It’s different, with my folks. I told you they’re diplomats, right? They move in social circles. Big ones. They have power, influence - all across the Federation, other cultures too. They always wanted me to be a part of that world. I didn’t want to get on a diplomacy track, cause I…you know, hate talking to people. It was that or Starfleet, pretty much since I was a baby. So I joined Starfleet.”

“You’re training to be a Communications Officer and you…hate talking to people? I thought you spoke 7 languages?”

“I guess I hate, like, having to talk to people.”

“Eric you’re in a Command training program and you hate having to talk to people. And you can do this?” she gestured at the PADD, then looked back at him. “Is this why you’ve been so morose?”

“No, it’s all good. We’re almost over the finish line, right? Just a little bit more. ‘Go Starfleet’, and all that. Hey, I should really head to the library.”

👍

GM

“Captain, since you’ll be personally observing Group D, I thought we could walk through some of their files in advance. Now I want to alert you that one of the Cadets, notably is…is…”

“Oh! Yes. So, you’ve already read these? I thought to let you know in advance, in case…”

“You extrapolate from what you know of my career, that I might be biased in my observations. But that would be illogical. Common knowledge of the diversity of life, combined with professional exposure to thousands of unique individuals from hundreds of worlds, weighs heavily against such bias.”

“Understood, Captain. It was my understanding that you might hold perhaps…painful memories, of…”

“Lieutenant Commander, I am unburdened by old pain. I look forward to Sompek’s performance; his record is impressive.”

“Indeed, but be that as it may, it has been noted by his instructors that Sompek remains decidedly…Klingon. He practices the old ways — does not assimilate fully into Federation…”

“Lieutenant Commander, need I remind you,” she replied with a barely perceptible smile, “that bare assimilation is not a core principle of the Federation, or of Starfleet.”

🖖 (2) 👍

GM

The readout of the Holodeck’s instrumentation data spun out in front of her: a visualized ocean of information, impossible to take in. “Damn,” she muttered softly.

“…what was that, Captain?” the instructor inquired.

“I am remarking upon the sophistication of the systems powering the simulation. The level of realism far exceeds that of the scenarios used during my tenure at the Academy.”

“Ah,” the instructor replied, with some pride. “Yes, we’ve come a long way. We can do things with the larger holodecks here that aren’t even possible on the ones aboard ship. The physics model alone - every detail captured at a quantum level - it’s…it’s…”

“I surmise that such a simulation must necessarily result in increased intensity for the test-takers - both physical and emotional.”

“That’s true. And let me assure you that we have fully trained Counselors standing by, to help the Cadets process any post-…uh…”

“It is a good thing they will have a caregiver among them, on the bridge.”

“Ma’am?”

“Group D. Cadet Gorca. He’s been trained in psychology. Many in that group have already experienced tragedy. Jatha - and Gorca himself in part - are Bajoran, likely carrying trauma which may be activated by your simulation. According to the records, Cadet Ch’Vaallen has suffered the loss of a friend - a recent graduate - while here at the Academy. Now he shall find himself and his colleagues seemingly in the midst of a crisis situation - the very kind which took the life of his friend. It seems we ask a lot of these Cadets.”

The instructor nodded solemnly. “You’re not wrong, Captain,” he replied. “There is one thing to keep in mind. We’ve now had decades to correlate test performance with career outcomes. What we’ve concluded, to our surprise, is that the Kobayashi Maru scenario does not so much test character, it…”

“It forges it.” she finished for him, her eyes bright with fresh insight, casting her gaze back to the data flowing endlessly across the display.

🤩 👍

GM

“This is curious,” she remarked.

“Yes, Captain?” replied the instructor, walking over.

“This log appears to suggest that Cadet Solomon destroyed a PADD at the end of his third year.”

“This looks…” said the instructor, “…like a typical replacement request. PADDs are not indestructible, and accidents happen!”

“The last file retrieved on the older device was his third-year Performance Review, which indicated significant areas of needed growth, to proceed on a Command track.”

“I…don’t think that suggests…”

“His records also indicate that he once visited Health Services presenting with symptoms of a panic attack.”

“Captain, life as a Cadet is…”

“The doctor prescribed a wellness improvement program. This was later cancelled by another physician, attributing the symptoms to ‘an excess of food-borne stimulants.’”

“Ma’am, we appreciate this truly thorough review of Cadet records…”

“I am aware that Danya and Michael Solomon are noted Federation diplomats. With connections to Starfleet.”

“Now ma’am, with all due respect, I must interject to declare unequivocally: the Academy’s evaluations have in no way been influenced by Eri…Cadet Solomon’s parents.”

👍 (2)

Jatha

Cadet Jatha Edala, personal log Stardate 51308.5 I’m not sure there’s any point in complaining to the teachers, even if there was a good reason. But why do they keep putting Solomon in my group? I’m not sure I could inspire him any more, he needs to find his reasons to go on himself. It’s not like I’m the model student he tries to be. At least I’ll have Sompek and Ch’vaallen by my side; It’s so good not having to watch my flank. Those two can read my mind - at least they act like that even if we don’t always agree on everything. If they mess upp, they do so because they try to be good at what they do. We can’t hold back going into the field once we’re done here, and they get that.

Sometimes I wish I had Gorcas patience, so it’s going to be good to have him along as well. He sees things from more sides than I could, but still isn’t a coward. I remember times he just wouldn’t back down, not even when he got yelled at in front of everyone. I could easily consider him as a first officer. As it is now, I’m leaning towards Sompek as XO, but I still have time to think about it. And we need a chief engineer! Ever since Efrazi became ill, I had to ask Marvin to switch from teal to yellow every time I couldn’t get anyone to help out.

Jatha

It must also be a sign of wartimes that we got an EEH as a “permanent” science officer in our group. I don’t see why they shouldn’t put one on each bridge and never reset them. Why would you take away memories and experience like that? At the least it should be their own choice. Still haven’t understood why Marvin just goes along with it every time. He’s even explained to me how his matrix is “several magnitudes more complex than a simple holo-novel characters”. Or something like that, there was a lot of technical terms I didn’t understand 100% and I could see Marvin got annoyed. Some days I feel everyone else are smarter than me, or at least wiser. But they can all specialize in their interest areas, I need to know a bit of everything. If I don’t - how the hell can I be a good captain? I wish Captain Farza was here to give one of his life lessons, like “respect can be given, but trust must be earned”… maybe I should put Gorca as first officer after all.

👍 (2)

Brel

“To be clear, this exercise in no way clears you for the Command track. This is a simple substitution due to cadet illness. Is that understood?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Cadet Brel, you are aware of the constraints of the test?”

“Chief Engineer. Directs maintenance and repair of an Intrepid-class starship in a no-win combat scenario. The Intrepid class utilizes a variable-geomet…”

“The test is not a combat scenario. Not inherently. And why do you believe that it is no-win?”

“I am merely stating the constraints as reported by the student body at-large.”

“Exercise greater care with your premises. They dictate what actions you allow yourself. You will treat the test as though it is real and exert your very best effort, no less, is that clear, Cadet Brel?”

“Yes.”

“Brel has been under my supervision for the better part of two years. He has excelled in all engineering studies despite attending them off-campus. He is more than capable.”

“…is he a danger to the other cadets?”

“Absolutely not, I would stake my career on it.”

“It is the future careers of our cadets I am considering. To be blunt, many of them would not be ready to accept a liberated Borg drone as an officer. The distraction potentially compromises crew cohesion, compromises the results of the test. Do you not agree?”

“Captain. I…We all have prejudices, as much as we claim not to. You know my stances on artificial sentience. Like it or not, the cadets will work alongside augmented officers, positronic officers, and yes, former Borg officers. This is as much a test of character as-as…whatever your simulation proports to be.”

(measured silence)

“…I wish to be useful. I wish to find unity outside the Collective. I know it will be difficult. I know I will not be welcomed. I will adapt.”

❤️ (2) 👍

GM

“So it’s been doctors, helm instructors, tactical.” he complained. “Our staff roster’s been devastated by deployments ever since the war broke out last year. Thank God for the EEH.”

“But has its personality module not proven disruptive,” she asked, “in critical settings such as this examination?”

“On the contrary! The Cadets quite take to him. Oh, they may grumble, but irascible though he is, I think he provides a familiar face amidst the trials.”

“I found mention of a secondary purpose for the EEH. I saw records of memory inspection, but could find no summary of their contents. Can you elaborate?”

“That’s classified, ma’am.” When she lifted an eyebrow, he continued “…I am sure you have clearance, but I must ask that we discuss that…without the other staff present.”

“Understood. Is this the purpose for which he has been assigned the apparent codename of ‘Marvin’?”

“No, no. Ha! The Cadets, they…where to begin…”

“It is unnecessary, Lieutenant Commander. I conclude this must constitute some form of ‘reference.’”

👍

Ekoss

Ekoss Ch’Vaallen was born on the Andorian colony of Indarax, on the edge of the Romulan Neutral zone. This taught him to always be ready, as an enemy wouldn’t wait until you were prepared before they attacked you.

Ekoss’s family has had a long tradition of Starfleet service, since the very founding of the federation. Before that his family served in the Andorian Imperial Guard. Aside from his parents, he currently has two cousins and an uncle who serve in Starfleet, one cousin is a helmsman and one is a Tactical officer. His Uncle is the Captain of an Ambassador class starship.

When Ekoss was a plebe (Freshman) Upperclassman Ronald Yellico was assigned as his dorm squad leader. They both were raised along the Romulan border and bonded quickly. At the end of the year, Yellico graduated and was assigned to the USS Exeter. The Exeter took part in the Battle of Torros III on stardate 50975, and Yellico was killed. Rumors that medical personnel did not reach him quickly enough caused Ekoss to take a couple of classes in Emergency Medicine.

Ekoss was tapped for the command track by Commander Stelk, who believed that he showed immense promise. Stelk was the instructor in Conn operations and small craft and he took Ekoss under his wing, providing him with extra training in how to fly a starship, and how to “not be there when the torpedo arrives” (Evasive maneuvers). Ekoss showed great ability in this, and gained an indefatigable confidence in his skills, which his instructors (including his mentor) hope will be tempered by experience.

GM

Voyager: Outlook for a Little Lost Ship

In this elective course, Cadets will develop a thorough understanding of Starship provisions and resource management approaches to be employed during long-voyages and situations of chronic emergency, by way of a deep study of the USS Voyager’s outfit, manifest, and crew complement at the moment of its loss. Much like the early Earth space explorers on missions such as Apollo 13, Cadets will engage in exercises of rationing and tactical repurposing of all aspects of the ship’s inventory to maximize survivability and defense against the unknown, hostile environment in which the ship may find itself.

Maps

Minefield

Marvin’s player created this amazing Zone map of the Minefield encounter.

Site of the Wreck

I provided this initial Zone Map of the site of the Kobayashi Maru wreck.

Ekoss’s player then created a dynamic version of it, based on MS Excel, in which he contiually updated the position and status of the starships and other features.

This example shows the Spatial Interference applied to the Zone with the Jem’Hadar Battle Cruiser and one of the Attack Ships, by the Tricobalt Warheads.

USS Thurston

During the Melee Combat involving the boarding party, we used this rough Zone Map of the USS Thurston.

Evacuation Corridor

We used a zoomed-in Zone Map for the corridor into which Ekoss and Sompek beamed to address the Evacuees Hemmed-In Complication.

Acknowledgements

The Players

A massive thanks goes out to the players: Benji, Daren, Ken, Mark, and Ricardo, for the characters, concepts, effort, supplemental materials, and collaboration.

Thanks

I want to give special thanks as well to:

• Michael Dismuke, for information about playing-by-post
• John Nguyen, for the invaluable STA Discord Dice Bot Majel
• Continuing Mission, for developing and hosting valuable resources (this adventure made use of resources developed by Tony Pi and Mephit James)
• Modiphius, for the wonderful TTRPG system
• Jo Kreil, for the inspiring adventure concept
• My wife Anna, and my children Robby and Greg, for inspiration and support of the hobby

Post-Credits

Marvin

Fade-up to an empty holodeck, the gold-and-black grid broken only by two shadowed figures, one tall and lithe, the other stocky, both facing the other.

“Quite a loss.”

“What of the new one?”

“Tenuous. She will be watched too closely.”

A curse. “Assets are becoming harder to procure these days, much less maintain. We have lost years of development.”

“Unforeseen difficulties. We couldn’t have known.”

Then we’re not doing our job properly,” the voice hissed.

Silence.

“Perhaps. Not a complete loss.” An image is summoned, hanging between the two figures, lighting just enough to show the two black-tuniced forms watching a recorded image of today’s test. One cadet in particular is centered on the screen. “What do you see there?”

“Hmm…potential?” One nodded, and then the other. The image deactivated, leaving them in darkness. Then, the two holo-communication avatars vanish, swallowed by the dark.

👀 🤘

GM

An explosion rocked the bridge, officers lurching into consoles. “All Kobayashi Maru survivors transported, Captain - but power reserves are depleted!”

Captain Elena Kattan slapped her badge. “Engineering!” She gripped her chair through another explosion.

“WE NEED MORE POWER!”

“On it!” says zh’Vhynnal, the camera now on her as she bounces on her toes once, then snaps into action.

❤️ 🖖

Jatha

“Computer, open hailing frequencies; Bajoran sector, subrelay 117-5 subspace channel 332.72, encryption Gamma-5-Epsilon. Captain Ipe, come in”

“Ipe here. Talk to me.”

“The simulation ended three hours ago, there were some… unique circumstances, but it didn’t impact the encounter.”

“He took it very seriously, and it seemed to affect him the way we hoped. I believe he will be open for influence, or even recruitment. With time, he could become the ally we need.”

“Then we should arrange for the young Ensign to meet the real General Ky.”

“He’s shipping out soon. You will have the details before his departure.”

“Understood. Ipe out.”

😮 (2) 👍

Sompek

Ultimately, the waffles did not sit well in Sompek’s gut. He should have known better. Humans might be fine to serve alongside, but that didn’t always translate to eating their food. So he began his out-processing time with a stomach ache. In bed, hoping that he would just wretch and be done with the taste and experience. While his roommate listened to what he was told was called “punk rock”. It didn’t help. And then some ancient dirge about a coal mine. That did it. The descending sound and lyrics made his head spin, and he mercifully lost consciousness.

He awoke in a cold sweat. Somebody was there. In his room. He heard the breathing. He smelled… it wasn’t human sweat. So, not his roommate, nor the female cadet that he’d spent a short amount of off-duty time with. But he couldn’t lay there in sweat and ignorance any longer, so he sat up and opened his eyes.

“It’s about time you woke up, boy.”

CHANG.

“General!” Sompek sputtered. Chang was standing just a few feet away from Sompek’s bed. He noticed briefly that he wore no eyepatch. But that made no sense! “How-?”

“Never mind that!” Chang’s eyes narrowed, centering on Sompek. His lack of a uniform. His disheveled appearance. Then he took in the larger scene. The bed, with its pillows and sheets and blankets. “Comfortable? Is the Federation treating you well? How is the human girl? All you ever hoped for? No flowers by your bed?”

“But- General- I- I don’t understand! I thought you-?”

“At least you passed your test, although I note that the humans don’t want to credit your performance-.”

Our performance. The entire crew.”

“Yes, yes. Your gallant crew. Heroes one and all. But Starfleet,” Sompek noticed that Chang spat out the word like it was a piece of poorly prepared gagh, “still can’t stand to admit that anyone beat their precious and vaunted no-win scenario. Without cheating.” It wasn’t that Chang’s tone or face had softened any. But it was perhaps less accusatory.

Chang paused and turned his head briefly at the noises from outside the room. More of his roommate’s music. Something about an ‘Iron Man’ that Sompek had to admit to liking. It wasn’t entirely unlike a primitive Klingon opera. “Atonal noise,” Chang said with obvious distaste. “But a welcome distraction from this scene before my eyes.” He moved to glance at Sompek’s desk, which was dominated by a human book, “The Secret History of the Mongols”, and a 9-leveled three dimensional Klin Zha board. “So there is still some hope for you? The humans haven’t completely seduced you?”

Sompek had been eager and pleased to defend himself from the attacks of Lieutenant Commander Park. He would do the same, if necessary, from Chang. However it was he was here. “I am a Klingon. Wherever I choose to fight or serve, I do it for honor. I am no slave to any uniform or ideology or politician-” it was his turn to spit a word out in disgust. “I follow after my father and my line. My blood. And all those who have served our house with honor, as you have! And if I have been seduced by anything, it is the tiQ Ghob. If you doubt that, I will prove it. At a time of your choosing.”

“There is no need,” Chang finally smiled briefly. “I know your heart. I just wanted to remind you that you aren’t defined by that costume they make you wear. You are defined by your blood. And this-.” He suddenly produced a package, perhaps a foot high, wrapped in cloth and tied with rough twine. Not waiting for Sompek to take it, he set it on top of the book about the Mongol Empire.

Sompek rose and moved to his desk and took the package. Loosening the twine, he could feel that it was heavy. When he finally pulled it free, he almost dropped it. He recognized it. His father had one. It was a “Champion Standing” bat’leth tournament trophy. “The tiQ Ghob.” He said. “Honor. Loyalty. Duty.”

“Yes,” Chang answered. “You’ve beaten their unbeatable challenge. You earned a prize. So this is on loan. Some day, no matter what Federation ship you are consigned to, I will find you, and I will call upon you to do something for me. To serve me.” He noted that Sompek’s face was suddenly dark and conflicted. “I know what you’re thinking, son of Kapact. No matter what I think of your service to these humans, I will not call upon you to betray your oath to them. An oath is an oath, no matter to whom it is given. I think you understand that. But when you’ve done what I ask, you’ll be forgiven for joining with the enemy, and I’ll let you keep that trophy.” A look of almost approval passed across his features briefly, and then he was silent. His eyes suddenly looked, furtively, to something unseen As if someone had walked across his grave. He reached quickly to Sompek, and grasped his arm. “But soft! Methinks I scent the morning air. Of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatched, cut off even in the blossoms of my sin. Sent to my account with all my imperfections on my head. Oh, horrible, oh, horrible, most horrible.” With a pained, anguished look on his suddenly old features, Chang was gone.

❤️

Sompek

For the second time, Sompek awoke with a start. The horrible music was finally silent. The ghost of Chang (more likely an undercooked egg somewhere in the makings of the waffle) was gone. And Sompek finally thought that he’d be able to be sick. To rid himself of the effects of the badly cooked human food. But then his eyes wandered to his desk, and he saw that the tiQ Ghob trophy was where Chang had left it, on top of the Mongol History. He’d come back for it some day.