This whole COVID-19 pandemic really sucks. I am extremely fortunate. I know this. My pandemic experience is not typical; here in the US or around the world. Throughout this crazy time I’ve been getting paid. I have a personality that does not suffer much from isolation. I have hobbies and interests that keep me occupied. I am lucky.
One of those hobbies is gaming, specifically roleplaying games. Back to the irony: I have played RPGs with friends more often during the pandemic than I did pre-COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, I couldn’t get my friends to commit to a game night if I gave them three months advance notice. Now it seems when everyone is stuck at home, they have more free time; or at least more discretion in how they use it. We’ve been using Roll20 and other free apps to run roleplaying games over the web, and it’s worked well, for the most part. It’s even allowed me to reconnect with one of my oldest and best friends who lives all the way across the country and play games with him, which is a very good thing.
The upside: since March, when everything started to shut down (at least where I am, in a state with a governor who isn’t a spineless suck-ass who puts loyalty to a fucking political party above a public health emergency…sorry, don’t get me started), I’ve run Star Trek Adventures and Slasher Flick, and I’ve been a player in a steady D&D 5th edition campaign. Like clockwork, I have played a game every week with 4-5 friends with no problems. We made a schedule and stuck to it. You know: like adults do, when apparently they don’t have the freedom of not being in lockdown to hold them back.
I hear you. Shut up, Piper. You’re getting what you want: you’re playing games, right? Why are you still complaining about it?
Because I miss gaming more than ever. Real gaming. I miss being around a table with my friends. I miss rolling dice. I miss passing the potato chips and ordering pizza. I miss the digressions and the jokes, and the bullshitting and catching up that takes time away from the game. I miss the pantomimed actions and the facial expressions, neither of which really come through well over a webcam. I miss a game free of technical difficulties. I miss having the need for a GM screen.
I miss my friends. Don’t tell them I said that. I’ll deny it. None of them read this blog anyway. But it’s true. I miss those fucking assholes with all my heart.
Because I am old, we have traditionally played games that are more “theatre of the mind” than actual map-and-miniatures games. Again, ironic; considering I’ve collected miniatures since I started playing rpgs, and since I (at least) am certainly a full-blown miniature wargamer as well. However; when running or playing in a roleplaying game I prefer to imagine the action and the setting, only resorting to hastily scrawled maps or pictures should they be needed to convey vital information or remove confusion.
Why do I prefer this? Because theatre of the mind forces things into a first person perspective. Things are happening to and being imagined by you, the player, not observed from a godlike, top-down strategic map that shows exactly how many 5-foot squares are between you and that bandit over there and what his initiative score is.
Let’s talk about that bandit. The bandit scowls at you, gripping his hand axe, his knuckles white. The once-fine weapon has been used as a tool, its blade notched and worn.He is lanky, malnourished, and unwashed; and does not have the look of one who enjoys his work. His leather armor is surprisingly-well cared for save for a shiny patch on his left forearm, where it is obvious he has often stropped his knife. Perhaps he, like so many in this war-ravaged land, was once a guardsman or soldier; now reduced to the life of a road agent, robbing and stealing to survive. The bandit stares through the eyes of a man with nothing to lose, for he has lost everything already.
I’d be willing to bet you have a pretty good idea of what that bandit looks like in your mind now. Guess what? I bet it’s not exactly the same as what MY bandit looks like. Sure, I provided all the necessary details (perhaps too many) to form a picture, but the picture was YOUR formation. What colors is he wearing? What color are his eyes? His hair? His skin? How long is his hair, if he has any? Does he have any scars? I never described any of those things.
In the tactical environment of online roleplaying, none of that matters, because as soon as you encountered the bandit the DM plopped down a virtual token with a generic picture of a guy who likely looks nothing like what anyone pictured from the description; but now becomes what the bandit looks like for everyone. Congratulations. Your menacing bandit has been reduced to a crappy piece of clip art. (And yes, I know you can make your own tokens and you’re not reduced to clip art; but once again, a token is a token; not a bandit, or a Deep One, or a dragon.) Your thrilling, imaginative combat has now degenerated into a strategic, turn-based board game. Which would be fine for me, if I was playing a board game.
My gripes are in no way reflective of the quality of the games I have participated in. We’re all working with what tools we have. I miss being around an actual table, although I would much rather play over Discord than not play at all. I’m playing in a few hours, as a matter of fact.
I just can’t wait until we’re all back together again.
The crew returned from the Shakedown Cruise of the U.S.S. Adventure two months ago. Since then, the vessel has been docked at the Denali substation at Outpost 51 pending an inquiry into the loss of Captain Boardman and the subsequent actions taken by Commander Logan, particularly those that caused a diplomatic incident with the Cardassian Union and the Ferengi Alliance. The ship received minor repairs, mostly cosmetic; while the data collected on the mysterious alien vessel was analyzed and processed. The Maquis agents discovered at the mining colony were sent to Security for interrogation.
The Adventure‘s captain’s chair remained vacant while Starfleet conducted an inquiry. Over the next few weeks, all senior staff and department heads were interviewed by a panel of four of Starfleet’s top brass. The panel was chaired by Admiral Alynna Nechayev, and consisted of Fleet Admiral Shanthi, Admiral Owen Paris, and Captain Tomek.
It was not a trial, at least officially; but it sure felt like one. One by one, the officers were all called before the panel to give statements on their role during the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Adventure. They faced some hard questions, particularly from Admiral Nechayev, who lived up to her reputation for being no-nonsense, tough-as-nails, and–quite frankly–scary.
“So, to be clear,” she said at one point, “On her very first mission, the Adventure lost her Captain and her Chief Science Officer, both of whom seem to have been mentally unbalanced; and managed to provoke and antagonize both the Cardassians and the Ferengi, both of whom are demanding concessions and satisfaction from the Federation. Sounds like a resounding success.”
Despite this, Admiral Nechayev seemed mostly concerned with the Cardassians; what they were doing, why they crossed into the Neutral Zone, and what the crew’s opinion was of the Cardassian officers they interacted with: Legate Jabrel and Gul Drazel. Fleet Admiral Shanthi and Admiral Paris questioned Commander Logan’s decisions and the decisions of Captain Boardman, up to and including his rash decision to abandon ship on a seemingly suicidal mission. They asked if there was any warning of Boardman’s tenuous mindset beforehand; any indication that he should have been relieved of duty by his First Officer ( Commander Logan) or by the Chief Medical Officer. They also asked about Chief Science Officer Shazak Fulexian; wondering aloud how anyone so unstable could be tapped to lead the science department on a Federation starship.
Throughout the proceedings, Captain Tomek said very little. In fact, he seemed to accept the official version of events presented at face value.
Eventually, the discussion turned to who would captain the Adventure now that Boardman was gone. As a new, Akira-class vessel; the Adventure would need a strong captain. Although Commander Logan assumed command under dire circumstances, was she the right person to sit in the captain’s chair permanently?
Admiral Nechayev made the case that Commander Logan is known to the Cardassians now; that putting her in command of the Adventure may be sending a message to the Cardassians that “cowboy diplomacy” is an option that is on the table, should it be required. This term elicited a collective chuckle from the three admirals; but predictably, Captain Tomek, a Vulcan, showed no reaction. Rather, he began to speak.
“I feel it is necessary to remind everyone that I never supported the decision to give Captain Boardman command of the Adventure.”
Fleet Admiral Shanthi sighed. “Gloating doesn’t become you, Tomek.”
“Gloating is something humans do,” said Tomek. “It is illogical to take pleasure in the knowledge you were correct when your counsel went unheeded, nonetheless. Rather, it is more productive to consider a future course of action in light of past lessons. I merely state that I believe now, as I did then, that there are better candidates for command of the Adventure. Commander Logan has exhibited sound judgement and has performed her duties competently. But she is not the best choice.”
Admiral Paris spoke up: “I feel like we’ve discussed this before.“
“That is because we have discussed it before,” Tomek said. “Ronan Lyko should captain the Adventure. It is only logical.”
“Captain Lyko commands the Ostrander,” said Admiral Nechayev.
“An antiquated, Cheyenne-class vessel, well past its prime,” said Tomek. “His abilities and experience would be better utilized in command of the Adventure.”
Fleet Admiral Shanthi cleared her throat. “After Wolf 359, Captain Lyko was offered his choice of vessels. He has made his feelings on the matter clear. He wishes to remain in command of the Ostrander.”
Tomek looked at each of the admirals in turn. “It is my understanding that Captain Lyko’s is still a Starfleet officer, and thus subject to assignment, regardless of his personal wishes.”
“Might I suggest we table this conversation for now?” Admiral Nechayev rang the bell to adjourn the inquiry. “This inquiry has concluded. You will be notified of our findings within a few days.” Everyone slowly filed out of the room.
The Adventure was docked for the duration of the inquiry; thus the senior staff was assigned to other duties around Outpost 51 and the Denali substation until it was concluded. Lieutenant Kl’rt Beta, Helm Officer, had to content himself with piloting shuttlecraft between the outpost and the substation, carrying personnel and cargo back and forth. It was a big step down from being at the conn of an Akira-class starship. Since all he really did was pilot the Adventure, his actions weren’t in question as far as the inquiry panel was concerned. His testimony was brief, merely verifying the version of events as presented by Commander Logan and the ship’s own combat data.
Chief of Security Daris Pak had a bit more to account for. She was in charge of the tactical station; so it fell to her to explain every phaser blast and photon torpedo launched during the course of the Adventure’s clash with the Cardassians and Ferengi. Until the Adventure was flying again she was assigned to menial duties aboard the Denali docking substation; cargo inspections and routine security details: a complete waste of her talent and ability. She supplemented her time by teaching self-defense classes to enlisted personnel who would likely never have need for her training. One of her classes was disrupted by a few rowdy Klingons who scoffed at Starfleet security training, since it emphasized de-escalation and non-injurious conflict resolution. Commander Pak took the opportunity to instruct one Klingon in particular about the danger of underestimating an opponent.
Chief Engineer Suvak was most worried about retaining his post aboard the Adventure; not because of anything he did or failed to do; but rather because he never would have been assigned to the Adventure in the first place if it wasn’t for Captain Boardman. Boardman was a strong advocate for the Vulcan, despite the fact the Suvak had spent decades in an alternate dimension. As a result of a transporter accident, he was now somewhat behind as far as current Starfleet technology was concerned. Nonetheless, Boardman saw something in Suvak that made him pass up more qualified candidates in favor of the Vulcan. In light of his obvious mental instability, would Boardman’s favor ultimately harm Suvak?
Suvak decided to spend his time as productively as possible. He proposed some modifications to the Adventure: remove the extensive shuttle bays in favor of improved power systems. After all, the Adventure didn’t need two runabouts and six shuttlecraft. It seemed destined for a more martial role; improved power systems would ensure the ship had power to phasers when it needed to fight, or power to warp drive when it needed to flee; and it would still allow Adventure to carry one runabout and three shuttlecraft. HIs proposal was accepted. He and Chief Station Engineer Malcolm Khofi spent most of the two months overseeing the modifications.
Commander Logan, meanwhile, was temporarily relieved of command duties while the Inquiry was ongoing. When not answering the panel’s questions, she spent most of her time in her quarters, wondering if she made the correct decisions in light of what had occurred. She was confident she had; in hindsight, she would not have done anything differently. She did not know either Captain Boardman or Commander Fulexian well, nor was she a counselor. She had no way of predicting their aberrant behavior.
She received an unexpected visit from Captain Tomek, who came to her quarters to inform her that the Maquis operative, Hoddek, had finally cracked under interrogation and was giving up some valuable information. Tomek was on his way to the Denali substation to meet with Kalar Duren, the Betazoid interrogator who was questioning Hoddek, and wanted Logan to accompany him. Duren was both Counselor and Chief of Security aboard the substation, dividing his time between the two positions as needed. Tomek seemed to hold him in high regard.
Tomek and Logan met in shuttle bay 3 an hour later to find Lieutenant Beta awaiting them. It was the first time Logan had seen her helm officer since the Adventure’s return. Beta flew the two senior officers to the substation, where he left them to pass some time playing dom-jot with Master Chief Engineer Holt Belmont, a likeable enlisted man whom everyone–including Beta–seemed to owe a favor. Along the way to the interrogation room, Logan picked up Commander Suvak, who took the opportunity to brief Logan on the modifications to the Adventure as they walked. All three arrived at the Security Office to find Lt. Commander Pak was there already, checking her duty roster.
Suvak, Pak, Logan and Tomek met with Kalar Duren to hear the results of the interrogation. Hoddek revealed that a high-ranking individual operating around Deep Space Nine was a key Maquis agent. He claimed not to know the person’s identity, and Duren believed him. Still, it wasn’t long ago that Lieutenant Commander Calvin Hudson had deserted Starfleet to join the Maquis; causing a significant amount of damage and security risk. Tomek recalled that Hudson was a personal friend of Commander Benjamin Sisko. Now, news of another high-ranking Maquis operating around Deep Space Nine was of great concern, and a bit too coincidental for the Vulcan’s liking.
Upon leaving the Security Office, Tomek pulled Logan aside. “I see no need to draw this out. The panel has decided that you are to retain command of the Adventure. Congratulations, Captain Logan. Unfortunately, there will be little time for formal recognition. Please ensure the Adventure is ready to depart, and make any changes to your personnel as you see fit. We leave for Deep Space Nine in three days.”
Logan saluted Captain Tomek, who returned the gesture solemnly. “Thank you, Captain.” She said. It sounded odd to her, not having to call him “sir” any longer.
Word of the Adventure’s destination spread rather quickly as Logan assembled her crew. Over the dom-jot table, Holt Belmont grinned at Lieutenant Beta. :So,” he said, “I hear you’re back behind the wheel, headed to DS9.”
“That’s what they tell me,” said Beta.
Belmont’s smile widened. “Beta, buddy…I was wondering if you could do me a favor…”
After a brief hiatus to play some D&D 5th edition, I have started up my Star Trek Adventures campaign again. While preparing to document the continuing adventures of the U.S.S. Adventure, I realized I had left the story hanging several months ago, and never returned to it. Sure enough, in my unpublished WordPress posts, there was this account of our last gaming session: the end of the “Shakedown Cruise” of the U.S.S. Adventure, The Big Sleep: Conclusion. If you need a recap, the story immediately preceding this can be found here.
So, to resume:
Aboard the alien cylinder, Commander Fulexian was losing his patience. Despite his best efforts, the hatch to the interior of the object remained inaccessible. To make matters worse, the Cardassian boarding party was on its way to the away team’s location. Soon they would be trapped between them and the hatch. The Andorian was the Adventure’s science officer, not security chief; but even he could see that this was not a strategically advantageous position to maintain.
He ordered the team withdraw to avoid contact with the Cardassians. They would likely have no more luck accessing the hatch than he had, anyway. The Cardassians pursued the away team, pausing just long enough to vaporize the helpless Ferengi salvage crew in retaliation for the attack on their ship, when a stroke of luck occurred: the outer walls of the cylinder shifted suddenly, cutting of the Cardassians from the away team. With a little more room to breathe, Fulexian ordered his team to resume their exploration.
Meanwhile, aboard the Adventure, Lieutenant Beta informed Commander (now Acting-Captain) Logan that the Cardassians had some reinforcements on the way…three Hideki-class cruisers were entering the system, course uncertain but probably bound for the cylinder. The odds were changing, and Logan knew she needed to protect the science outpost as her primary duty. She ordered Beta to lay in a course to intercept the Sindral before Gul Drazel could reach New Coriolanus.
The conflict was swift and decisive. Gul Drazel was not inclined to further discussion, especially since once the Adventure gave chase, the Ferengi took the opportunity to destroy the helpless Cardassian ship. The Sindral fired on the Adventure, but the shields held. In response, Lieutenant Commander Pak targeted the Sindral’s weapons and engines with the phaser arrays. The shots blew through the Cardassian shields, disabling the vessel and leaving it adrift. Commander Logan berated Daimon Nogrix (who had returned to the bridge) for the cowardly actions of his crew and banished him from the bridge once again, while the crew of the Adventure took the brief respite to restore power and repair the shields before the Cardassian reinforcements arrived.
It was then that Lieutenant Beta informed Commander Logan that there was another Cardassian vessel on a course to the system, Legate Jabrel’s ship: the Ma’bran, a Keldon-class destroyer, bigger and more heavily-armed than the Sindral. To make matters worse, some kind of dimensional disturbance was forming several million kilometers away from the cylinder’s present position, directly in its path.
Aboard the cylinder, the away team discovered a strange anomaly of thier own. There was some kind of portal opening in the very corridor they were presently exploring. Wasting no time, and in accordance with his value “Defeat Ignorance”, Commander Fulexian ordered the away team through the portal. They arrived in the vast expanse of the interior of the cylinder, somehow separated from where they were by a dimensional barrier.
The away team found themselves surrounded by crisscrossing lattices and struts containing row upon row of smooth, ovular pods made from the same alien metal that seemed to defy tricorder classification. Although there were no life signs present, both Lieutenant Suvak and Ensign Tamral could sense the pervasive presence of a great many consciousnesses, all utterly alien and incomprehensible. Scans of the pods revealed there was indeed organic matter inside; but matter that showed no signs of life or decomposition. After several more scanning attempts, they were able to determine the pods contained vaguely humanoid forms, roughly 2.5 meters tall, with long limbs and featureless faces.
There was no power to any of the pods; or indeed, to anything in the cylinder, so far as they could tell. If these were stasis pods, they were not being maintained by any conventional means. The away team was metaphorically and literally in the dark.
Repeated attempts to reach the collective consciousness, either telepathically or empathically, had failed. Commander Fulexian, thoroughly frustrated, made the decision to open one of the pods, heedless of the possible consequences or ramifications. He simply had to know…
Meanwhile, the Adventure’s readings of the alien cylinder showed something alarming: it was beginning to accelerate, heading straight towards the now fully-formed dimensional rift. It would pass through it in a little under ten minutes, taking the entire away team with it unless Commander Logan could get them back aboard Adventure in time. The Sindral was disabled, and the Prized Possession was soon to have its hands full with the Cardassian reinforcements. For the time being, New Coriolanus was out of danger. She ordered the Adventure to close with the cylinder and beam the away team back, once they were in transporter range.
“Open it up,” ordered Commander Fulexian. The rest of the away team exchanged glances.
“But, sir…” protested Ensign Tamral, “we don’t have enough information..”
“I said open it!” yelled Fulexian, his Andorian antennae quivering. But before anyone could do anything, the entire away team was beamed back aboard Adventure to be met by the smiling face of Transporter Chief O’Malley.
“I got ’em, Commander..er, I mean, Captain,” said O’Malley.
“Good news,” said Logan. “Away team, report to your posts.”
The away team filed out of the transporter room. All except Commander Fulexian. He pulled his phaser and shot O’Malley, stunning the hapless transporter chief. Then he hurriedly set the transporter controls to beam himself back aboard the cylinder.
He had to know.
By the time Commander Logan got word of Fulexian’s actions, it was too late. Defying physics and logic; and seemingly without any known propulsion system; the cylinder accelerated to warp speed and entered the rift. It closed seconds later, taking both the alien cylinder and Chief Science Officer Shazak Fulexian with it.
All that was left was to mop up. Daimon Nogrix was beamed back aboard his ship, the Prized Possession. Since there was no profit to be had now that the alien cylinder was gone, and since he was soon to be facing three Cardassian corvettes and a Keldon-class destroyer on his own (Commander Logan made it clear he could expect no further assistance from the Adventure), he made the tactical decision to withdraw, vowing to report the actions of Captain Boardman and Commander Logan to his government. Legate Jabrel’s ship, the Ma’bren, went to the aid of Gul Drazel’s ship, the Sindral; while thethree corvettes pursued the Ferengi. The Adventure took up a protective position around New Coriolanus, warily watching the Cardassians; but once repairs were complete, the Cardassians left the system without a word. Strange.
The Adventure remained in orbit around New Coriolanus until a small detachment of Federation ships arrived. These ships would maintain a presence in the system to ensure the Cardassians didn’t return. With the safety of the science outpost sorted, Commander Logan ordered the Adventure to break orbit and return to Outpost 51.
This pandemic has everyone social distancing (if you’re not, you should be), which means sitting around a gaming table has been a thing of the past lately. Ironically, it has contributed to me playing MORE games than usual, especially RPGs. As some of you may know, I have managed to run several legs of a Star Trek Adventures campaign this year over Discord, pretty much weekly. It went well, and the write-ups of the sessions start here, if anyone’s interested. I have yet to post the conclusion, but that’s coming soon. I’ve been busy with Monster May(hem), real life, and now Forgotten Heroes…but rest assured I haven’t forgotten about the crew of the U.S.S. Adventure.
That being said, tonight I get to play in a game rather than run it. We’ll be playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, which is new to me. The version I last played was 3.5, and that was years ago. (I skipped 4th Edition altogether, which most folks agree was a good thing.)
Anyway, by far, one of my favorite things to do in any RPG setting is create a character. I figured I’d document the creation of my first 5th Edition character here: Lirhanir. (I’m going to jump around a lot and not necessarily go in order, as it makes more narrative sense. Don’t worry…it’ll all make sense in the end.)
Class and Race: I decided I want to play a paladin, which is a class I have never found particularly interesting. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever played a paladin in all my years of roleplaying.) I’m not at all interested in playing a stereotypical “holy knight”; someone who fights with anyone who doesn’t adhere to the same code he does, even his own party members. That evangelical bullshit is depressing enough in the real world. Lucky for me, in 5th edition I don’t have to.
My Dungeon Master is setting the game in his own world, and he’s starting us out at level 3. Humans are the dominant race, and demihumans are relatively uncommon. I decided I want to be a half-elf, which in this setting is considered a second-class citizen almost everywhere. Elves consider them an abomination, and humans generally ignore or ostracize them.
So, being a half-elf and a paladin (plus some additional perks my DM has granted) gives Lirhanir familiarity with all weapons, armor and shield types, as well as proficiency in the following things: Athletics, Insight, Perception, Persuasion, Performance and Deception. Lirhanir can play the lute fairly well, although he’s no bard. He does this to make others happy, and chase away the darkness (see below). It also gives him a bunch of paladin abilities, none of which are really worth getting into here.
Background: In 5th Edition, you choose a background for your character which gives them proficiency in skills they would have learned during their upbringing. I don’t envision Lirhanir had much of an upbringing, so I chose urchin. Lirhanir grew up on the streets of a city, Riften, scrounging and surviving however he could. (This is in-line with being a member of a disadvantaged class.) It also gave him proficiency in Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Thieve’s Tools, and Disguise. Not exactly on the path to paladinhood from the start, but it sure explains why he is also skilled in Deception. It also confers the feature “City Secrets”, which gives Lirhanir an instinctive familiarity with all urban environments that allows him to move at twice the normal travel rate between two points in any city (he knows which alleys and rooftops to traverse to get from point A to point B fastest).
My DM has also made half-elves in his world “prodigies”, which gives him expertise in one skill, as well as another language. His languages are Common, Elvish, Goblinoid, and Sylvan (the language of fey creatures); not bad for a guy with average intelligence. I chose Insight to be the skill in which he has expert proficiency; growing up on the streets, you get a feel for people pretty quick.
Attributes: In 5th edition, you have the option to either roll dice or buy your attribute scores with points. We opted for point buy. My attribute scores (including racial bonuses) are as follows: Strength 16 (very strong), Dexterity 12 (above average), Constitution 12 (above average), Intelligence 10 (average), Wisdom 13 (above average), and Charisma 14 (significantly above average). This means Lirhanir will usually have attribute bonuses in addition to proficiency bonuses for most of his skills.
Oath: In 5th edition, paladins can take various oaths to better fit their concept. (The stereotypical paladin takes the Oath of Devotion, but he’s not that kind of paladin.) I chose the Oath of the Ancients instead, which essentially means Lirhanir reveres life and goodness and strives against darkness and evil. He holds good to be paramount, far more important than any concern of law or chaos. This gives him spell lists and abilities more in line with a traditional ranger or druid, not really a former street urchin; but…it’s going to work out. Trust me.
Equipment: Paladins start with chain mail armor and a shield, but neither one fits my character concept. Instead, Lirhanir wears a chain shirt under his tunic. It provides less protection than a full suit, but also doesn’t hamper his movement at all. To compensate somewhat for not using a shield, he specializes in a defensive style of fighting. He is adept at using a quarterstaff, but carries two short swords as his primary weapons. He also wears a hood most of the time to hide his half-elven heritage from the assholes of the world. Finally, he carries a smooth river rock; the holy symbol of his patron, a water spirit named Nauhrel. He only uses it when he is Turning the Faithless (be they fiends or fey creatures).
Almost done. I had to pick his personality traits, ideals, bonds and flaws. For Personality, I chose Speak when you have something to say. Speak up for others who cannot, or will not, speak for themselves. For an Ideal, I chose Always be of service. For a Bond, I chose I owe my survival to Odger Tucca, the Halfling who cared for me when I had nothing. For a flaw, I chose I am most afraid of being helpless. These traits pretty well sum up his values and outlook, and guide how I will roleplay him.
How did a street urchin become a champion of the light? Lirhanir was special from the start. As a street urchin, he did whatever he had to to survive; but he always managed to avoid hurting others in the process, at least others who didn’t deserve it. Despite enduring hunger, cold, neglect and abuse, he always sought to help those less fortunate than he. That made him a good person.
Once he stopped an unscrupulous alchemist from dumping his poisonous slurries into the city’s water supply, because he saw that it was making poor people sick (the rich lived upstream; their water wasn’t affected). In fact, it was also making a water spirit sick. This spirit, Nauhrel, was close to death, and would have died if not for Lirhanir’s actions. She became his patron, a spiritual force for goodness that recognized in Lirhanir a Champion of the Light.
Finally, Lirhanir is Chaotic Good, the alignment that best suits his outlook. Above all things, he tries to do the most good and thwart the most evil, but he’s not all that concerned about how he gets those things done. Laws are fine when they work. When they don’t, you don’t blindly follow them anyway. Lirhanir is not above lying or stealing, if it’s for the greater good (he won’t steal a coin purse to make a buck, but he would absolutely steal food if he needed it to help someone, and didn’t have the money). Again, about as far from a typical paladin as you can get.
Lirhanir looks more like a rogue than a paladin, which is exactly what he would have been if he wasn’t chosen by Nauhrel. I envision him as a D&D version of Daredevil (kinda): urban protector of the downtrodden, lightly armed, skills and methods used in service of the greater good. Guess we’ll see if he survives his first session, which starts in about 3 hours!
The sounds of pursuit fill you with terror as you try to flee. You can hear the beast gaining on you. There’s no outrunning it! You look back in panic. The ground shakes and trees sway wildly as its enormous form crashes through the brush! It spies you, its prey…and it’s beak opens wide, giving forth a blood-curdling shriek of maddened rage:
My second submission for Monster Month, a classic Dungeons and Dragons monster and one of my personal favorites: The Owlbear! The product of magical crossbreeding of an owl and a bear, this ill-tempered monstrosity attacks anything it sees on sight and fights to the death. It’s the bane of low-level adventuring parties everywhere!
This owlbear comes from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, which is a line I can’t say enough good things about. They’re inexpensive, digitally sculpted, and generally very good-looking, especially the monsters. I’m less jazzed about the personalities (character classes, etc.), but YMMV.
The miniature was easy to paint and practically highlighted itself. The texture of the feathers and fur takes washes and drybrushing quite easily. I think it took me about 2 hours or so, which is pretty fast for me.
I still have four projects I’d like to get to this month, but realistically it’s probably not going to happen…so I have to prioritize. There’s one big one I really want to complete because I’ve been staring at it forever!
Check out all the other participants in Monster Month. Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!
With the Cardassians powering up their disruptor banks and the Ferengi vessel responding in kind, things were not going well. Remarkably, Commander Logan managed to convince the leaders of both ships to meet aboard the Adventure, to see if they could somehow resolve their differences without armed conflict.
Daimon Nogrix and Gul Drazel met across the table in Captain Boardman’s ready room. Commander Logan took the lead and tried to negotiate a peaceful resolution, mindful of her own away team aboard the alien cylinder. Nogrix began to angle for the best deal he could, a deal which would include, ideally, sole possession of the object and the protection of the Adventure. It soon became clear that Gul Drazel had no intention of negotiating anything. He once again insisted that the mysterious object was the property of the Cardassian Union, and that he fully intended to destroy the Prized Possession for their previous attack on a Cardassian vessel. Staring daggers at Nogrix, Drazel abruptly declared that the meeting was over and left the room, transporting back to his flagship, the Sindral.
This left Nogrix alone with Captain Boardman and Commander Logan, a situation he found to his liking, at least until Lieutenant Beta informed the Captain that the Sindral had broken ranks with the other two Cardassian ships and set a course inbound towards the science outpost on New Coriolanus. While the crew discussed this development, the other two Galor-class ships powered up their weapons and opened fire on the Prized Possession.
Meanwhile, aboard the alien cylinder, Commander Fulexian had his hands full; a Ferengi salvage team had covertly beamed aboard and had taken up positions around the away team. The crew was not prepared for an assault, as they weren’t expecting any trouble when they initially transported over. Acting quickly, Lt. Commander Suvak decidd to modify the mass spectrometer to emit a high-frequency sound wave, inaudible to the crew but overwhelming to sensitive Ferengi ears. Assisted by Chief Specialist J’zhara, Suvak managed to make his engineering modifications successfully. The entire Ferengi salvage team collapsed, stunned!
Fulexian gave orders and the Ferengi were quickly disarmed. With this threat dealt with, he turned his attention back to the hatch. He could find no obvious way to open it, and it defied brute force attempts. While they searched for a solution, Suvak and Ensign Tamral tuned their attention to the mysterious consciousnesses they could sense all around them. It’s was as if they were in a darkened theater; aware of the other patrons and hearing their whispered conversations, but they could not make out any meaning or message.
Suvak decided to attempt communication by means of a Vulcan mind-meld. As there was no physical being present, he attempted to meld directly with the cylinder. Ensign Tamral assisted him with her empathic abilities, but the mind-meld was unsuccessful, revealing only that the consciousnesses aboard the cylinder were concentrated behind the hatch, deeper within the object, despite there being no detectable life signs. They didn’t have much time to ponder this, however; as Ensign Tamral sensed the presence of a more immediate problem; a team of Cardassians just transported over to the cylinder. Their intentions were most definitely hostile.
Understanding the Sindral posed a threat to the Federation science outpost, Captain Boardman leapt into action. Leaving Commander Logan in command of the Adventure, he took the remaining runabout, the Yoruba, and set off in pursuit of the Sindral. His intent was to evacuate the science outpost using the Yoruba and the runabout they left at the outpost. It was a really stupid plan, and Boardman was never seen again. Most likely he’s counting lights in a Cardassian prison somewhere.
(The group had previously discussed getting rid of Captain Boardman and promoting Commander Logan to captain, as Boardman was more of a hindrance than an asset to group play. My reasoning for having an NPC captain is because I wanted to avoid having one player dictate the actions of all the characters. My heart was in the right place, but Boardman just got in the way. I was going to kill him off in the coming battle, but the group decided his fate for me. This was much funnier.)
The Ferengi Marauder traded fire with the two Cardassian ships. Commander Logan ordered Red Alert status and Lt. Commander Pak raised shields. Unfortunately for everyone, Daimon Nogrix was still aboard the Adventure, not having had an opportunity to transport back to the Prized Possession before both ships raised shields. He immediately made himself a nuisance on the bridge. I spent some Threat to add the Scenic Trait: Annoying Ferengi on the Bridge. Nogrix’s presence would make any Tasks the bridge crew might attempt more difficult for as long as this Trait was in place.
Fortunately for Commander Logan, this wasn’t for long. Lt. Commander Pak, Chief of Security, politely escorted the Ferengi from the bridge after overwhelming him with her formidable presence. In Main Engineering, Ensign Mokta (a supporting character, as Chief Engineer Suvak was on the away team) tried to scan the Galor-class ships for weaknesses. In response, one of the Cardassian ships fired on the Adventure, taking a good chunk out of her shields. But the shields held, and the ship suffered no damage.
In response, Lt. Beta ran an attack pattern, setting up a counterattack. Commander Logan ordered Pak to fire the phaser arrays, targeting the Cardassian ship’s engines. The blast crippled the ship, knocking out the shields, disabling the engines and causing a further breach to the sensor systems. The Cardassian ship was effectively dead in space.
Before the other Cardassian ship could come about, Logan ordered the launch of the rapid-fire torpedo launchers, full spread. The resulting damage was devastating, annihilating the other Galor-class vessel in a fantastic explosion.
Commander Logan was now faced with a dilemma: pursue the Sindral, and leave the away team unprotected; or remain with the cylinder and leave the outpost to the mercy of the Cardassians. Meanwhile, Lt. Beta reported the Prized Possession was largely undamaged and about to make a run at the helpless Cardassian cruiser. Logan hailed the Ferengi vessel and warned them off, but not before Nogrix returned to the bridge and insisted the Adventure finish off the Cardassians.
Logan ignored him, and set off in pursuit of the Sindral, hoping to catch it before Gul Drazel could use the science outpost as a bargaining chip in pressing his claim to the mysterious object. Once again, hailing frequencies were opened.
Gul Drazel promised Logan and the crew that they would regret their interference in this matter and their decision to assist the Ferengi. He knew all about the Adventure from Legate Jabrel, who informed every Cardassian vessel in the sector of their previous treachery involving the Maquis. Logan reminded Drazel that he was leaving behind Cardassian soldiers to die, as the Ferengi were unlikely to show them any mercy if the Adventure had to chase the Sindral. Drazel stated flatly that death in service to the state is the highest honor a Cardassian can achieve. With a wicked grin, he said he hopes the scientists on New Coriolanus feel the same way…
The away team beams back up to the Adventure, which breaks orbit around New Coriolanus to investigate the strange object detected on the fringes of the system. On the viewscreen, the object is revealed to be a featureless cylinder (I know what you’re thinking, but that’s where the similarities end), roughly 2 km long by 1.2 km in diameter. It is moving quite rapidly, but is not moving at warp. The cylinder is rotating around its central axis. Its present course and speed will take it into orbit around New Coriolanus in 3 standard days.
Hails to the object are unanswered. Scans reveal it is hollow; spinning at a rate of .86 rotations per minute, with a rim velocity of 104 m/s. This would, theoretically, create artificial gravity inside the object approximate to standard Earth gravity. The method of propulsion is unknown. There are no readings that would indicate atomic, ion or chemical engines; and, although moving fast, the object is not moving at warp. There are no life signs detected inside.
Commander Logan forms an away team to investigate, consisting of Commander Fulexian (Science Officer) and Lieutenant Commander Suvak (Chief Engineer); accompanied by two supporting characters: Chief Specialist J’zhara (Engineering) and Ensign Mara Tamral (Medical Officer). Commander Logan remains aboard the Adventure to assist Captain Boardman. Lieutenant Beta likewise remains at the helm. The away team brings along a mass spectrometer in addition to their tricorders, to better evaluate and analyze any samples taken from the mysterious object.
The team beams aboard, arriving inside to find themselves in a long, featureless corridor. Tricorder scans reveal that the vast emptiness of the interior of the cylinder is above them. They are traversing the interior surface of the object. It is eerily silent and completely dark. There is no hum of machinery, no vibration of engine operation to be felt. The crew’s voices do not echo, as would be expected. The walls, floors and ceilings have no adornment or markings on them at all, and are made of an unknown metal. The corridor they occupy seems to tun the entire length of the cylinder, with many branching and intersecting passages. Exploring them would take months.
While the team gets it bearings, Suvak, a Vulcan, and Ensign Tamral, a Betazoid, both feel that they are not alone. Despite their tricorders registering no life signs aboard, the two officers can feel the presence of many consciousnesses, utterly alien and incomprehensible.
Meanwhile, outside the strange object, a new arrival to the system drops out of warp. A D’Kora-class Ferengi Marauder, the Prized Possession, hails the Adventure. Appearing onscreen is the huge face of a Ferengi, who identifies himself as Daimon Nogrix. Nogrix claims “sole and proprietary salvage rights to the…object” under the Ferengi Salvage Code. This allows him to take possession of any abandoned property. He discovered this “thing” several days ago and staked a claim to it then, but “circumstances developed” he had to leave the area. Now, he has returned, and he wants his property.
Technically, it’s not the captain’s responsibility to determine what is and isn’t abandoned property, or to regulate trade agreements; but Captain Boardman (played by Zach in this particular scene, as his primary character, Suvak, is aboard the object) immediately denies the Ferengi claim without so much as a hearing.
Predictably, this angers Nogrix. He claims to be “very important” in the Ferengi government, and implies that dire consequences, perhaps of a career-ending or diplomatic incident-causing nature, may result if the crew doesn’t show him proper respect and honor his claim.
Meanwhile, the away team continues to investigate the vast interior of the object. They can find no door, hatch, or means of ingress to the main area of the cylinder; and every passage seems to defy tricorder mapping. They discover that parts of the outer cylinder seem to be spinning at different speeds, which results in corridors shifting and changing constantly.
(In game terms, this investigation is an Extended Task; a series of skill checks that build a number of successes in order to complete a work track. The characters’ success rate is dictated by the difficulty of the task and opposed by a certain amount of resistance, which removes successes, costing more time. A good analogy would be to equate the work track with hit points and resistance with armor; each success removes a hit point, while each level of resistance (armor) prevents a success.)
Commander Fulexian continues to scan the interior using his tricorder, assisted by Chief Specialist J’zhara. Meanwhile, Suvak tries a different approach. Assisted by Ensign Tamral, they attempt to navigate their way around by telepathically “following” the consciousnesses they both can feel. The combination of both methods yields results. About an hour later, they discover the faint outline of a hatch in the ceiling. If accessed, this would presumably lead further towards the center of the cylinder.
Aboard the Adventure, Lieutenant Beta reports that ship sensors are detecting more arrivals to the system: three Cardassian Galor-class cruisers entering at high warp, making a beeline for the Prized Possession. Damon Nogrix hails the Adventure, and demands that Captain Boardman assist him in protecting his property from the Cardassian interlopers. Before Boardman can reply, the commander of the Cardassian squadron, Gul Drazel, hails the Adventure. He states plainly that he intends to destroy the Ferengi vessel in retaliation for a previous attack. He further states the “object” is the property of the Cardassian Union, and that the Ferengi stole it after the Cardassians staked their claim. Gul Drazel warns Captain Boardman not to interfere before terminating communications and adopting an attack formation.
Back aboard the mysterious object, Commander Fulexian attempts to access the hatch by finding its operating mechanism. Before he can, the crew hears sounds indicating new arrivals to the interior: a Ferengi salvage team taking up positions in intersecting corridors, setting up a crossfire. None of the away team are security personnel; and they are very much outgunned (especially since I spent some Threat to increase the number of Ferengi). It’s not looking good…
On Tuesday, my friends and I met via Discord/Jamboard/Roll for Your Party to continue our Star Trek Adventures game, and I must say it was pretty successful and fun all around. There were far fewer technical issues than I was expecting; and it seems we can all function pretty well gaming online. The next session is Monday, which should bring us to the end of the first mission of the U.S.S. Adventure, her “Shakedown Cruise”.
Having uncovered and shut down a Maquis resistance cell operating on an unnamed moon along the Cardassian/Federation Neutral Zone, the Adventure continued on its primary mission: delivering supplies to a remote Federation science outpost on New Coriolanus. The Adventure arrives at New Coriolanus to find a mostly empty star system orbiting a sun very much in the latter part of its life. None of the four planetary bodies can support humanoid life; even the closest planet is far too cold. Neither do they have much in the way of exploitable resources. It was a dead system of little interest to anyone, until Dr. Detog Gron, a Tellarite microbiologist, thought to use it as a staging ground for his experiments on microbes that thrive in extreme environments. Dr. Gron and his team of seven Starfleet science personnel have made remarkable achievements in the fields of microbiology and virology because of his research on New Coriolanus; as a result, other Federation scientists have sought to use the planet for their own projects. A civilian Andorian engineering team petitioned Starfleet for permission to use the facility to conduct their own experiments and was granted access.
Once in orbit around New Coriolanus, the crew hails the outpost. It’s immediately apparent that there are some domestic issues between the two research teams, as Dr. Gron and his Andorian counterpart, Dr. Therak Shrav, can barely stop arguing long enough to respond to the hail. An away team consisting of First Officer Commander Logan, Science Officer Commander Fulexian, and Chief Specialist J’zhara, an Andorian Engineering Officer, beams down to the outpost to gather more information.
The “domestic problem” on New Coriolanus is very simple. First, the scientists are all Starfleet personnel, while the five Andorian engineers are not. Second, there isn’t enough room in the facility for both teams to conduct their experiments without alternating lab time and resources, and it goes without saying that each team feels their work is more important than the other team’s. Add the fact that Dr. Gron wasn’t informed that the Andorians were even coming to New Coriolanus until their ship arrived in orbit, and it’s easy to see that nerves are frayed all around.
From the start, the two men harangue the away team with questions and demands. Dr. Gron insists that as a Starfleet officer he should be deferred to; while Dr. Shrav says since he isn’t Starfleet, he doesn’t have to listen to Gron at all. Gron complains that no one in Command ever asks the Science Division about command decisions, like forcing him to share lab space with civilian engineers; Shrav implies that now that a Starfleet ship has arrived, Gron is sure to get his way on everything. Both accuse each other of being unreasonable, stubborn, intractable and annoying.
Beneath all the vitriol, the two men want the exact same thing: a separate facility for the Andorians to run their experiments. The problem is that they resent and dislike each other so much that they can’t see that cooperation is the only way to get what they want.
First, the two sides must be convinced that they share the same common goal. Simply pointing this out doesn’t work, because they aren’t listening. In game terms, each of the men has a Trait that must be removed before any negotiation can truly begin.
Dr. Gron has the Trait: Command Division doesn’t respect scientists. He’s fed up with not being shown common courtesy, as the sudden and unexpected arrival of the Andorians wasn’t the first time his input wasn’t requested about a project he led. Although he feels relatively confident the away team will side with him, he’s wary, because two of the three members of the team are Andorians.
Dr. Shrav has the Trait: Starfleet sides with Starfleet. Like Gron, he doesn’t trust the crew to mediate fairly since they all wear the same uniform. The crew is bound to give Dr. Gron anything he wants at the Andorians’ expense. The fact that Captain Boardman implied as much in the initial conversation has put him in a more foul temper than usual, which is saying something.
(I had the two players who were not controlling characters on the away team play the roles of Dr. Gron and Dr. Shrav, to keep everyone involved. It worked out well!)
Commander Logan and her team are successful in reassuring both sides that they can come to an equitable arrangement (no mean feat). The first step to giving the Andorians their own space and allowing everyone to spread out a little is to dig a foundation for their facility; sadly, the ground is frozen for a kilometer below the surface. Nothing on New Coriolanus could even attempt excavation.
They decide to use the Adventure’s phasers instead. One precision blast later (and after much Momentum is spent), they are successful! The next step was to deploy some portable force field generators to enclose the foundation, allowing the engineers to work in the harsh environment, since New Coriolanus is too cold even for Andorians. A quick trip outside in EVA suits, and the generators are deployed and calibrated successfully.
Finally, Lieutenant Beta delivers the supplies needed: two industrial replicators, several heating units, and a Danube-class runabout customized with precision sensors and extra cargo space. Once the engineers have this, they no longer need the crew’s help to construct the facility (they are engineers, after all). Dr. Gron and Dr. Shrav seem to already be on better terms, so the crew is free to leave. They prepare to beam up to the Adventure.
And not a moment too soon, for the Adventure has detected an unidentified object entering the system at high speed, bound for New Coriolanus!
After much deliberation, I decided that Roll20 wasn’t really for me. It seems to be great for Dungeons and Dragons, especially if you want to play published adventures. But since I’m neither playing D&D or interested in published adventures, and it’s not free, I decided to look elsewhere. One of my friends, who lives on the “other” coast, has had luck using three programs/apps: Discord (for chat, voice and/or video); Jamboard (for visuals, such as maps, drawings and pictures); and Roll for Your Party, for dice rolling and tokens.
This Tuesday, we will attempt to continue our Star Trek Adventures campaign using these virtual aides. Last night, we did a test run to see how things should work; and while none of us are experts, we can probably figure it out. (We could all chat and see each other, the dice-roller works fine, and my friend immediately drew a hairy, ejaculating dick in Jamboard; so all is well. He’s older than me, and a scientist, by the way.) It’s certainly better than not playing at all, since actual face-to-face-play is out of the question at the moment.
The good news is that I’ve managed to corral two more of my friends into playing. Both are experienced role-players who will be assets to the campaign; ironically, both would probably not be playing at all were it not for present circumstances being what they are.
Owen is playing Shazak Fulexian, “Skip” to his friends (of which he has few), an Andorian science officer. Skip is a Starfleet veteran by circumstance, not by choice. He never attended Starfleet Academy, but was responsible for one of the most significant xenogenetic breakthroughs in Federation science history. As such, Starfleet recruited him from the private sector, promising him access to the best laboratories and research libraries available within the Federation. He accepted. Twenty or so years later, he’s still in Starfleet, but all he cares about is the science. He’s not exactly a people person.
Zach is playing Suvak, a Vulcan Out of Time. Forty years ago, Suvak was the Chief Engineer on the U.S.S. Savitar, an Excelsior-class ship carrying a prototype warp drive enhancement. They were attacked by Klingons and were forced to eject their warp core before the entire bridge compliment was killed. The resulting blast shifted the Savitar out of phase with our dimension. Suvak assumed command from main engineering and quickly realized that everyone would die unless he acted quickly. Using the transporters, he kept the remaining crew in “flux” until the Savitar reappeared in our dimension. Once returned, Suvak discovered his revived crew-mates all suffered from incurable transporter psychosis; and that his engineering knowledge was 40 years behind current practice. Nevertheless, he was (eventually) able to find a berth aboard the U.S.S. Adventure, bound once more for the unknown.
Tuesday night, they will join the rest of the crew, continuing on the inaugural “Shakedown Cruise” of the U.S.S. Adventure. Wish us luck. We are exploring strange new apps together.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here, with COVID-19 scaring everyone shitless. Although our governor has resisted implementing a statewide shelter in place order (for now), there are plenty of closed businesses and people working from home; including me. You think I’d be happy about being required to stay home and play video games, paint miniatures and work on gaming projects; but as a guy who owns a business, I can tell you that this whole situation sucks out loud. Yesterday I got together with two friends at my office, which isn’t getting used much lately, to play what will probably be our last session for a while, at least in person.
So, continuing where we left off…
Commander Logan didn’t let on that she knew Hoddek was concealing anything, after discovering that Hoddek’s “temporary mining license” was a forgery. She and the away team returned to the Adventure to discuss strategy. On their way out, everyone noticed that for a mine, there was a distinct lack of mining equipment around.
Gathered in the Captain’s ready room, the crew informed Captain Boardman of the situation on the moon. Although no one knew what the “miners” were doing down there, there was no doubt that it wasn’t mining. Hoddek told a convincing tale and said all the right things, but he didn’t count on Logan spotting the forged license. The Captain ordered the away team to return to the moon with some science and engineering personnel, to give the unregistered operation a “safety inspection.” Because the ionic interference on the moon, communication between the Adventure and the mining outpost was impossible. This actually worked to the crew’s advantage as Hoddek would have less time to prepare for the crew’s return once they showed up at his door. Nonetheless, Lieutenant Commander Pak pointed out that a return trip would certainly signal to Hoddek that Starfleet suspected some shenanigans were afoot, and cautioned the team to be ready.
Once again, Lieutenant Beta skillfully piloted the away team down to the moon’s surface without incident. This time the team included Lieutenant Ditko from the Science Division, and Lieutenant J’Zahra from Engineering (two supporting characters). Hoddek opened the airlock at the team’s request, and once again met them at the elevator. He looked puzzled, but seemed resigned to the inspection. He informed the away team that unfortunately, they could not enter the mine itself, as it was currently undergoing radiation decontamination. Radiation was a natural product of vionium mining, and the mine needed to shut down periodically for a couple of weeks at a time until rad levels returned to normal.
While Logan was talking to Hoddek, Lt. Ditko went inside Hoddek’s office and hacked into his computer. He noticed a few things. First, the computer was surprisingly difficult to access, with many layers of security that would certainly be uncommon for a mining operation. Second, the computer was devoid of any programs or files that would indicate mining was occurring: no manifests, supply requests, geological reports or anything similar. It seemed the only thing the computer was doing, other than running the facility’s power and life support, was running a generator projecting a high level of ionic interference on the surface. Lt. Ditko shut that off, and discovered he could immediately communicate with the Adventure if need be.
Meanwhile, Lt. J’zhara and Commander Logan scanned the huge blast door to determine if there was any radiation beyond it, as Hoddek claimed. Their tricorders couldn’t penetrate the door, so their readings were inconclusive. For the first time, Hoddek seemed to be angry. He claimed he had cooperated fully, that any omission of registration was an error of the Harelian Mining Authority, and that Starfleet had no right to treat him and his men like criminals.
That’s when Commander Logan informed him that his mining license was fake, that they knew this facility sent the coded transmission and deliberately projected ionic interference to block communications and transporters, and that she knew he wasn’t running a mine of any kind.
Hoddek sighed resignedly and told Commander Logan that if she keeps looking into this, it’s on her head. He claimed he and his team are part of a top secret project for the Federation Science Council, which is why it’s unregistered. He can’t tell her what they’re doing on the planet, but he can show her and she can decide what to do. He took out an old-style communicator and signaled someone behind the blast door to open the lock.
With the door open, Hoddek led the away team down a corridor towards what looked like a lab. The path took them through stacked crates of supplies and machinery. All the while, Hoddek apologized about the necessity of the deception. But Lieutenant Commander Pak spotted the ambush a split second before it happened, anyway.
Several of the miners, brandishing old-style phasers, began to fire on the away team from the cover of the boxes. Hoddek took off towards the lab while his men traded shots with the away team. Pak blasted a miner off his feet, but was soon felled by a phaser shot herself. Stunned, she was out of the fight.
One of the miners blasted a crate of some kind of particulate, and the dust further hampered visibility. Outnumbered, outgunned, and with her tactical officer down, Commander Logan signaled the Adventure for an emergency beam out. A medical team met them in the transporter room, taking charge of the unconscious Lt. Cmdr. Pak.
Meanwhile, a small ship had entered the system, flying in the general direction of the moon, but not coming too close. They answered a hail immediately, and identified themselves as couriers just passing through the system. They seemed intimidated by the Adventure and its obvious superior armament. Now that the ionic interference was gone, Lt. Beta was monitoring the moon closely, which is how he noticed the fourteen life signs in the mine were suddenly reduced to nine. The ship was beaming the miners aboard!
By the time he could alert Captain Boardman, the ship had managed to beam out six more miners, leaving two on the moon. The ship immediately took off at warp, making a run for the Cardassian neutral zone. The Adventure pursued them and caught them just shy of the neutral zone, but before they could lock on a tractor beam the ship fled again. The Adventure gave chase and caught it just inside the neutral zone.
The turbolift doors opened, and a grim-faced Lt. Cmdr. Pak stepped onto the bridge. She quickly took her position at the tactical station and fired the Adventure’s phaser arrays, targeting the engines of the small courier craft. The ship was quickly and efficiently disabled, but not before Lt. Beta reported a new threat: three Cardassian Hideki-class corvettes entering the neutral zone, on course to intercept the Adventure!
The Cardassians hailed the Adventure. On the view screen, an imposing Cardassian stared down his nose at Captain Boardman. He identified himself as Legate Jabrel, and demanded to know why the Adventure had crossed into the neutral zone. He also said that they have identified the courier ship as a Maquis vessel wanted for crimes against the Cardassian Union, and demanded the terrorists be handed over to them for prosecution, conviction and eventual execution.
Captain Boardman had no intention of complying with this order, and pointed out that the Cardassians had also violated the neutral zone. He beamed the Maquis aboard the Adventure, where they were promptly taken into custody by Lt. Cmdr. Pak and a team of security officers. The Adventure was well-suited for combat, but three-to-one odds are still three-to-one odds. Boardman ordered the Adventure to set course for Federation space at maximum warp, knowing the Cardassians would not cross over the border in pursuit and risk open conflict.
The ship returned to the moon to round up the last two Maquis members, only to find that any evidence of their activity was destroyed by Hoddek prior to his departure from the moon. Now, however, he was sitting in a holding cell, so Starfleet could question him at their leisure, once the Adventure got back to Outpost 51.
First, though, the ship had supplies to deliver to the science outpost on New Coriolanus, which is where it was originally bound before getting sidetracked by the strange transmission broadcast by the Maquis. But that would have to wait until next time…