A Cold Day - The Descent

The Hazards of Engineering
"I'm giving her all she's got!"

Looking into the hole at the bottom of the shale-glass bowel, white crystals tantalize the party at the bottom of a twenty-foot drop. Without any viable means of climbing down, the party decides to return to the ship. Boarding the watercraft, they traverse to the whirlpool at a brisk pace as they are being pulled along. Unfortunately, as the ship is circling in the pool, with the main downward pull in the center of the ship, the re-boarding process proves to be very dangerous. With the watercraft getting crushed against the side of the hull, the party frantically boards the ship, pulling themselves up the cable previously positioned. Just as the lip of the craft gets pulled under, Varreth is the last to climb out and collapses the craft before pulling it out of the water.

Scans of the whirlpool reveal that it is draining into a cavern system. Emony welds a piece of metal to the back of the ship to hang another cable from in order to effect less dangerous boarding operations. Collecting two large crates from the ship stores as well as a long piece of cable, the team launches into the water and returns to the dig site. From there, Emony cuts a mount point into the shale and the line is secured. From there, Varreth climbs down into the cavern. Shining with his light, he sees what appear to be hundreds of lights reflecting back at him, like the stars of night. The cargo containers are tossed down, and Hogue joins Varreth to collect as much Isodesium as possible.

With the method of collecting crystals as simple as grabbing hold and breaking them off, after an hour the two of them collect roughly 100 kilograms worth of crystal. The crates of crystal are pulled up and out of the cavern without incident, and the team returns to the ship. At this point, the party decides to rest.

With Varreth taking first watch, the party sleeps in the crew’s quarters, on beds who have not seen occupants for years. Dolvak takes second watch without incident, until the ship lurches and a loud noise is heard, jarring all awake. The sensation of floating is no longer apparent, and the team investigates, looking out of the hull breach to see that the lake has completely drained and the ship is resting on the lakebed. Several small rivers are running underneath the ship into what was once the center point of the whirlpool, but these rivers are insufficient to move the ship.

Having been rudely awoken, the party sets about breakfast, with Dolvak proceeding to cook up several more steaks. After eating, the team decides to put their earlier plan into action.
Ion positions himself in the weapons pod, with the power converter at the ready and begins hammering in their disruptor charge packs to energize the ship. Ships systems begin coming online and powering up, until the main computer initialization sequence is initiated. With Varreth translating the Romulan symbols, Taban manages to enter the access codes and stop the security authentication procedures, although just barely. Taban then transfers power to the antimatter generation unit, shutting down everything else as much as possible, but in the process causes surges in the shield arrays.

Meanwhile, down on deck 1, Emony tries to control the antimatter creation process, as it is a very unstable process. Generating just enough antimatter to start the core, she transfers it to a containment vessel and sprints for main engineering. The main engineering systems are still powered, but are shutting down rapidly.

Taban effects an emergency power transfer to the warp core, and the core containment fields activate, although he blows out the ship’s sensor systems. Emony transfers the antimatter into the core and attempts a cold reactor start. Deftly guessing at the Romulan control symbols, she just barely manages to bring the system online with a power output of three percent. Working carefully to manage the flow, she slowly brings up the power output, praying the system can become self-sustaining before their last reserves of power fade.

Her hands moving in a blur, Emony manages to correct a wobbling containment field. Just barely keeping the system together, she manages to bring the output to thirty-four percent before it stabilizes. With a gasp of relief, the system begins outputting enough power to maintain itself, and Emony starts to feel more at ease. Power output climbs to seventy percent, but then alarm klaxons begin to sound, as the computer reports that life support systems are not operational. Emony laughs as the life support systems are completely destroyed yet are not required at present.

Taban attempts to shut down the klaxon, but mistakenly causes a surge through the lower decks, completely burning out what was left of the sensor system.

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Frustrums of Chemistry
"There she blows!"

Based on the situation, the team develops a plan of action. Someone will feed the disruptor charge packs from the rifles into the device just constructed, using said device to transfer the power into the ship’s disruptor banks. This energy will then be shunted into the main power grid, where personnel on the bridge will unlock the ship’s systems using the acquired authentication codes, then transfer all power to the antimatter generation unit, using that unit to create enough antimatter to hopefully be able to start the warp core. But they run into a problem, the ship does have some supplies of deuterium with which to power the reaction, but lacks the dilithium crystals needed to control the reaction.

The team is stuck. They leave the bridge, traveling to the compartment with the hull breach where they originally boarded the ship. From here, they climb out and onto the hull from where they survey the situation. The ship continues to float lazily on the underground lake, with the front of the ship angled slightly down as the forward compartments have taken on water. Scans from the tricorder reveal the presence of Isodesium, a less desirable alternative to dilithium, roughly 100 meters below and beyond the party. Arjin, recalling from his knowledge of crystal formation, reports that isodesium is typically found in clusters deep underground.

Leaving behind the constructed power converter, the team re-enters the ship. Collecting a nice length of cabling from the maintenance rooms, the team lodges it in the hull breach and uses it to climb down into the watercraft. With the stench of methane in the air, the team begins following the isodesium signature. Powering across the water, the party slows down when the sound of a powerful waterfall draws closer.

With a low speed on the motor, the team starts to notice the watercraft is getting caught in a current as the water still faintly glows. A section of shale is noted along the shore and the team decides to leave the water and move on foot as a precaution, as they cannot see where the waterfall is. Gingerly making their way so as not to slip, they are greeted by a most interesting sight: A great waterfall pouring from the cavern ceiling into an enormous whirlpool. Taban exhibits some strange behaviour, “There’s something! Wait, no. There’s something! Wait, no… sorry.” Dolvak notes some kind of path behind the waterfall, and the team proceeds to check it out.

After confirming that there is in fact a path there, they walk upwards until the ground slopes upwards with what appear to be steps cut into the rock and a box of some kind of old mining equipment. The team walks up these steps until they reach what appears to be a plateau of sorts. A number of decayed Romulan bodies and multiple boxes of mining equipment lay scattered about, as well as a small drilling rig. Scans indicate the party is approximetly 120 meters above the isodesium, with a hole bored down to a depth of 60 meters, and very high concentrations of methane are noted in the hole.

A shredded coat one of the team members is wearing is appropriated for an alternative purpose and lit on fire before being tossed down the hole. The team then moves back from the hole. A roaring sound is heard from below and a vertical shaft of flame extends up from the hole, that does not immediately burn out. Someone starts counting the seconds. The team backs further away as the flame starts to change colour. Scans indicate that the flame is coming from an underground, highly purified, deposit of magnesium with enough oxidising compounds present to sustain the reaction. The team runs for the water, as the roar grows louder and the temperature in the cavern starts to rise. With water starting to flow down the stairs, melting from the cavern walls and ceiling, the team stops and scans again. Methane concentrations across the lake surface begin rising, and the temperature of the magnesium deposit reaches in excess of 3000 degrees. With that information, the team sprints for the boat.

Climbing in the boat, the team cruises across the lake at full speed until they reach the floating Romulan ship, at which point they climb aboard and watch with concern as the ship begins getting pulled towards the whirlpool and the waterfall. The ship glides into the whirlpool nose-first, pitched down 20 degrees to the horror of its passengers who enter a water-tight compartment and hold tight, not knowing what will happen. A loud thudding sound is heard, and the ship shudders to a halt with the nose being held down in the center of the whirlpool. Carefully moving from room to corridor, the team learns with some surprise that the ship is angled down so sharply that the life support bay with the gaping hole is currently lifted out of the water.

Seizing the opportunity, the team decides to try to patch the hole so that water will not enter the ship, even if the patch is not space-worthy. After a hour’s work, the two-meter gap is reduced to a one foot hole when the ship settles and drops down. Water starts pouring in. In desperation, the team tries to hold down the last remaining piece of plating while Emony welds it in place. After several tense moments, Emony declares the patch watertight and the party celebrates.

Scanning with the tricorder indicates that the waterfall has since stopped and the cavern water level has risen two meters, while the thermite burn has stopped. Climbing onto the hull, the team moves to the back of the ship which is the point furthest from the center of the whirlpool and launches the watercraft into the water. Managing to pull away, the team returns to the dig site, with the air temperature still in the area of 50 degrees. To their surprise, what was once a precise borehole has now turned into a bowel shaped opening made of glass. The hole is much deeper than before, and now only fifteen meters of material separate the team from the isodesium deposit.

With the rest of the team standing well back, Taban blasts the side of the bowel with his disruptor to create a ramp and climbs down before firing twice to make a very nice hole into the ground that opens into an underground cavern. The team looks on in delight as they see shiny white crystals glowing at the bottom.

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Disruptor Manifest
Green fire, explosions, and much meat.

With more raw meat than the team can possibly carry, they decide that they need to cook the meat to preserve it. Dolvak, to the team’s surprise, turns out to have some talent with cooking and manages to improvise a grill from some deck plating and a low-powered beam from a phaser. After an hour of cooking steaks, Taban states, “Alright! Cat jerky!”

The team continues to explore the ship, going one door down the corridor to the medical bay, which is somewhat primitive and no doubt intended for basic medical attention. Continued exploration finds the ship’s armoury. Various cabinets are locked, and Emony cuts them open with a plasma torch. With no small measure of delight, several fragmentation charges are noted, along with some explosives. After spending another two hours cutting open cabinets, the team finds itself to be much better equipped, as now the party is carrying disruptors and rifles aplenty. Before setting off, the team cuts the cat hide into two pieces to better distribute the weight, and they continue searching the ship.

After finding what appeared to be the first officer’s quarters, a Romulan corpse is found to have a data chip in its possession. The team is surprised as they search the crew quarters, as for the most part all loose items are gone, as though someone came through and removed all items of value previously. With the search of the deck complete, the team heads to Main Engineering, and enters deck 1.

Scanning with their tricorders, the team notes an anomaly near the front of the ship, and before moving towards it, decide to search the main engineer’s office. Inside they find several datapads and a data chip. Varreth manages to read the reports, and finds them to describe the last actions taken by the crew, and also finds that they give an explanation for the total loss of power the ship experienced. The data chip turns out to contain a list of command codes and authentication sequences for the main computer core, which Emony transfers to her tricorder.

Searching the deck, some maintenance and storage areas are located, containing mainly larger replacement parts for the ship. Down the corridor, a repairs workroom is found, as well as the life support bay, and a room containing matter-antimatter containment units and an antimatter generator. At the front of the ship, the team finds the main cargo bay, which contains several crates that appear to have little other than deck plating inside, and two marked crates giving off unusual radiation.

Scanning with the tricorders, the radiation appears to be highly concentrated and contained dekyon particles, suggestive of weapons grade material. Emony, the engineer, had never seen anything like it. Going back to the antimatter storage room, the team discovers that all ships stores of antimatter are depleted or decayed.

Moving onto the life support bay, the team shines around with flashlights, and Dolvak notices what appears to be a bomb attached to the life support systems. Emony attempts to defuse the device, but the team starts to hear a high-pitched whine being emitted and runs for their lives to the back of the ship. A loud explosion is heard, followed by the sound of rushing water. The team pries the door open partially, and water comes pouring through the door. The team releases the door, closing it, and steps back.

The party decide to re-investigate the smaller vessel attached to the hull of the ship, but do not identify anything of interest. They decide to return to the room where they originally boarded the ship, only to find as they walk through the door that another giant cat is in the room, apparently having entered through the gash in the hull that has reappeared.

Ion attempts to fire on the cat, and misses, as the cat charges him. Ion fails to dodge, and the cat crushes Ion against the wall, mauling him with claw and fang. Ion begins bleeding heavily from multiple puncture wounds, and has less than six minutes to live. Taban and Dolvak manage to shoot the cat with a heavy disruptor blast, vaporizing it and Arjin sets to work. Varreth passes tools to the doctor as he tries to stop the bleeding. After four minutes of intense work, the bleeding stops. Emony sits down and cries.

As the team sits in despondence, they wrack their brains attempting to find a way out of their current situation. The team is 700 meters below the planet’s surface, in a ship without power, and without any means of restoring that power. Arjin muses on the physics behind disruptor energy.

The team journeys to the bridge of the ship, and from there to the weapons pods. The ship is mounted with disruptor weapons, and the team tries to figure out if they can somehow link their rifle charge packs to the ship, but a direct connection cannot be made. Emony manages to come up with a basic device idea capable of linking the ship weapons to the charge packs, but the team lacks the parts needed to create the device.

Heading back to deck 1, the team pauses outside of the flooded compartments, and a scan beyond the bulkhead reveals that the water level is staying constant due to the pocket of air trapped behind the door. The air also appears to be rich in methane. Dolvak and Varreth stand ready at the door, which is pulled open and the two of them charge inside holding their breath. Water surges through the door, as does a blast of noxious air, and they continue onward. Passing by what used to be the life-support bay, they can see a huge hole in the floor through which water is bubbling up into the ship. The door to the parts bay is bent, but Varreth and Dolvak manage to pull it open. The water is rising and the air stinks of methane. Dolvak takes a breath, and begins feeling high. Frantically, they manage to fill their pockets with as many parts as they can, before wading out through chest high water. Varreth begins hammering on the tricorder, telling the team on the other side to open the door.

The door is pulled open, and the surge of water carries Dolvak and Varreth through, although the entire engineering compartment is now flooded with eight inches of water. Heading back to the weapons pods, Emony creates a design for the device, getting some help from Arjin for the disruptor science behind it. The design is not the greatest quality, but should work. Emony also experiences some difficulty putting the parts together, and the end result is a somewhat weak and fragile creation, but it should work provided nothing goes wrong.

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An Ode to a Cat
"Doctor, don't fail me now..."

Assaulted as soon as they open the mess hall doors, the team is taken completely by surprise. In a moment of brilliance, the subspace beacon is deployed, causing one of the aliens to collapse to the ground while the giant cat charges Ion Stormwake, the human soldier. Dolvak the mystic is writhing on the floor as one of the aliens seeks to control his mind, and loses himself to the alien’s thrall. The Romulan dodges the incoming cat while Taban attempts to line up a shot, landing it while the cat shrugs it off and comes after him. Leaping up, the cat grabs Taban by the neck and then starts dragging him down the corridor. Varreth fires at the cat, burning a massive hole through the abdominal organs, which thus enrages the cat and causes it to drop its prey. The possessed Dolvak attacks Emony, who tries to defend herself with a plasma torch. Dolvak slams the torch out of the way, and slugs Emony. Emony attempts to attack the alien possessing Dolvak, who nimbly phase-shifts out of the way.

Arjin the doctor attempts to land a blow on the alien shifter, only to land flat on his face. Hogue is shooting at the cat, who is still standing although heavily wounded. The cat bodily slams into Hogue, but is then shot by Varreth and the cat’s head vaporizes in a field of plasma. Meanwhile, one of the aliens attacks Emony, who dodges the alien only to be clubbed from behind by Dolvak. Ion shoots, missing as his blast passes through the alien without effect, and Taban attempts to stun Dolvak despite his neck wound that has cut an artery.

With Taban bleeding out, and on the verge of death, he collapses to the ground. Arjin recovers enough to leap over and attempts to close the pulsing artery. Emony attempts to roll around the attacking aliens, only to slam into a wall. Hogue is still shooting, although his shots are simply passing through the alien beings.

Arjin, in a moment of medical brilliance, despite incredibly hostile conditions, manages to close the artery moments before Taban’s blood loss would have been too great to recover from, although his wounds are still serious and will result in death within minutes if not treated. The alien possessing Dolvak releases him and lets out a powerful shriek that renders all but Arjin and Varreth unconscious. As Dolvak recovers his mind, he states, “I’m free… oh,” as he drops to the floor. Luckily, Varreth strikes the alien in the back of the head with his rifle, incapacitating it, then shoots the remaining standing alien.

Arjin attempts emergency resuscitation of Ion, applying defibrillator paddles from his medical kit, and then shocking him back to life. Meanwhile, Varreth attempts to stab the incapacitated alien with his blade, although the creature slides out of the way, until Varreth gets in another blow that injures it. The alien lets out another psionic scream, although everyone awake manages to resist it, until the alien tries again. Arjin drops unconscious, having been unsuccessful in reviving Emony.

The other alien screams, and Ion drops. After a crescendo of psionic noise, Varreth is the only one standing. As one of the aliens opens its mouth, the Romulan lines up a shot and vaporises him, then follows up with the second standing alien. Ignoring the alien still writhing on the ground, Varreth begins first aid on Arjin, cracking his ribs but to no avail. The Romulan begins slapping him violently until the good doctor begins to come around. With the doctor hobbling over to save Taban from bleeding out, Varreth delivers a mercy blow to the last alien being before turning off the subspace beacon.

Arjin frantically attempts to rebuild torn and shredded tissue with the basic tools at his disposal, as Taban has less than five minutes before bleeding out. Varreth attempts to assist the doctor, but his efforts prove futile. Taban continues bleeding as the minutes tick by. Varreth stands by, handing the doctor tools to help, and Arjin manages to stop the bleeding two minutes before it would have been over.

With time less of a critical issue, the doctor begins repairing the deep tissue damage, and major blood vessels are still exposed and weakened. Varreth wakes up Dolvak, who moans, “What just happened?” “The dead remains are all around us, I think you can figure out what happened.” Varreth attempts to wake Ion, but is unsuccessful as Dolvak nonchalantly inquires if Hogue has anything valuable on him and trades his deck plating piece for the one in the unconscious Cardassian’s possession.

The doctor manages to repair enough of the critical damage that Taban is able to get up without shearing muscles and blood vessels. Dolvak attempts to replicate some food from the mess hall dispensers, but as the ship lacks power is ultimately unsuccessful. Arjin works on repairing some of the tissue damage on Ion, but fails. Meanwhile, the team respectfully thanks Varreth for saving their lives. After repairing various cuts and other injuries, the good doctor becomes fatigued. Deciding to exit the corridor, the team enters the mess hall, with Taban hanging at the rear as he is still in critical condition, but the hall is clear.

Emony attempts to power the replicator by interfacing it with the power cell from the team’s watercraft, without success, and tries again, this time shocking herself. The team discusses perhaps eating the cat for food, and the doctor scans for toxins before declaring the meat fit for consumption. Various party members help out, and they succeed in recovering the cat hide and manage to cut out roughly 200 kilograms worth of edible meat. It was a very large cat.

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Psionic Interruptus
Then let us cry in our agony...

With the Betazoid mystic incapacitated and in a coma, the team’s doctor, Arjin, attempts to revive her. After failing to correctly calculate the medications and dosages required, he causes Xaina’s heart to stop beating. Swiftly he attempts to counter the administered medications and barely succeeds, before beginning cardiac resuscitation. In the end, the doctor’s patient survives, although remains comatose.

With Varreth carrying the mystic on his shoulders, the team runs for the engineering compartment, to escape the ship while they are still sane. The team proceeds one by one through the turbolift shaft until only Varreth, Dolvak, and the unconscious Xaina remain, unfortunately at that moment the hostile telepathic being tormenting the team takes control of Dolvak and attacks Varreth.

Varreth drops the Betazoid on the floor and deftly counters Dolvak’s attempts to mind-control him with vigorous martial arts moves. Eventually however, the Vulcan, consumed by the alien force, overpowers the will of the angry Varreth. At that moment, the alien presence leaves Dolvak and the fighting ceases. Varreth immediately grabs the Vulcan and begins to interrogate him. This proceeds for quite some time, until they leave off with mutual threats and join the party in main engineering.

After a brief argument, the team decides to leave the ship the way they came, only to find that the gash in the hull has mysteriously vanished, as if it never happened. Emony, the engineer, states, “I like this ship. It repairs itself!” While Taban retorts with, “I don’t like this ship. It mutilates the people inside!” The party decides to rest in the maintenance room they originally arrived in, hoping the gash will reappear, consuming the last of their food.

Realizing they are out of food, the party decides to continue their exploration of the ship. They return to main engineering, then decide to deploy their remaining emergency beacon. As soon as it activates, Dolvak begins shrieking in agony. An alien creature, rolling on the floor, materializes in the corner of the room.

Someone deactivated the beacon, and the alien vanished. Upon reactivation, the alien was gone, although Dolvak collapsed in agony again. Hogue decides that he wants to hold onto the beacon, as he knows how to use it. Dolvak sarcastically replies, “You know how to use a button?” Hogue turns the beacon on, tormenting Dolvak just as the Vulcan tries to nerve-pinch the errant Cardassian, and both of them end up on the floor incapacitated.

Varreth takes control of the beacon, and settles the group down; informing all parties that he would break skulls if this stupidity continues. The team continues their exploration of the ship, identifying several sections of the ship until they find themselves in front of the ship’s mess hall. They open the door, to find three of the alien beings and a giant cat-like creature waiting on the other side, and the party is assaulted.

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Right-Side Up
Can things get any worse?

With methane in the air, the team growing drowsy, and the ground continuing to rumble, the party guns the engine on their raft across the lake until they notice the outline of a spacecraft sticking out from the water. As they approach, they realize that it is a crashed Romulan ship, and Varreth identifies to be a variant of the Lanora class scout, with the majority of the craft under water and the nose pointed down. Spikes line the back of the ship extending above water, with decaying Romulan heads mounted on them.

As the team circles around the ship, they spot a large hole in the vessel’s hull that appears to have been blown from the inside out. Varreth muses at the unusual hull configuration, which is not consistent with the usual Romulan bird-of-prey style, and the party notes a small Romulan craft mounted to the back of the larger ship.

The party attempts to climb the hull, with Dolvak taking the lead. He pads the edge of the hole with his coat and climbs aboard the ship, only to receive a telepathic message. Examining the room, there is evidence of a firefight, and a small spatial charge detonation, likely responsible for creating the hole through which Dolvak just entered.

Emony proceeds to cut handholds into the side of the ship with her plasma torch so that the rest of the team can board without significant difficulty, as they continue to become intoxicated from the rising methane levels. Once inside the ship, the team attempts to identify their location, and pry their way through the doors.

After some exploration, the party realizes that the ship is completely dead and without power, having crashed at least three years previous. They find themselves in the main engineering section, standing on the wall of what appears to be the middle deck, as the ship is upside-down, nose down. Emony smiles as she realizes the ship is powered by what appears to be a Romulan variant of a Federation warp core, although the core has long since been without power. Lacking the ability to power the ship, or to feed additional energy to the system, the party continues its exploration.

Repeated complaints regarding the dropped power cell from the escape pod that brought the team to this planet are heard, as the party finds itself standing along a long drop. Since the ship is nose down and without power or artificial gravity, the normally accessible corridor is a death-trap, with one false move meaning a very long drop to the front of the ship. They note that the access hatch to the smaller spacecraft mounted to the side of the hull is approximately seven meters down.

Gingerly, the team climbs down the corridor using the windows as hand and footholds. In a moment of sudden surprise, the access hatch opens and a ladder extends across the corridor as the ground gently rumbles again. Dolvak has a look of intense concentration on his face as Varreth lowers himself to the ladder and brings up his phaser to cover the access to the smaller vessel while the rest of the team questions Dolvak as to what he appears to be so concerned about. Dolvak brushes them off, and the team opens the access to the small Romulan ship, which turns out to be some sort of runabout.

Inside the door, a number of long-decayed Romulan bodies appear to be positioned; still wearing uniforms with one of them obviously an admiral. The ship lurches and starts to topple, as the team scrambles to find handholds, until the nose of the spacecraft breaks from the ground and the Romulan ship levels out. Now floating on the surface of the lake, with the ship still upside-down, the team breathes a sigh of relief for a moment, until all of them experience bizarre hallucinations. After fighting off their disorientation, the team searches the runabout for anything of interest, finding a weapons locker. The hallucinations intensify as the team realizes that some telepathic being is toying with them, using Dolvak as his conduit.

Tensions within the team escalate as Dolvak resists the assertions of his colleagues to reveal what it is that he is hearing and sensing, to the point that threats are made. The team climbs up into the corridor, just as the ship starts turning sideways until it is right side up.

Hallucinations still continuing, the team warily approach the far end of the corridor leading to the front of the ship. Passing through the door, the team finds itself on the bridge, although all is dark and the consoles appear dead. There is evidence of a firefight having taken place.

Scans indicate a small power signature in the captain’s office, and the remains of the ship’s captain are found in a chair with a small PADD sitting on the desk. The message from the old captain is cryptic, but for the most part describes how a member of the crew went insane and detonated a charge inside the ship, forcing an emergency landing on this planet, and attacks by telepathic beings. The team shares in several significant hallucinations, culminating with them firing on apparitions. Xaina, the Betazoid mystic, collapses into a coma. The team struggles to come to terms with their predicament.

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The Descent
An object bound by gravity must come down...

The team descends into the depths of the ice cave. Noting that the cave is seems very clean, they observe patterns of tracks in the ice, but the tracks are indistinct. Small holes exist in the sides of the cave wall, which appears to have been cut out by flash floods. After encountering several forks of the path, the party arrives in a larger cavern with four entrances, one of which they just passed through. From here, the party scans for life signs without detecting any, although animal feces are noted. The party decides to take the fork with the least amount of animal feces, and the team continues going down the tunnel slope.

All of a sudden, the sound of rushing water is heard coming up from below. The team becomes apprehensive, are they in danger? Continuing downward, the tunnel levels out, but the sound of water grows louder and the party decides to turn around.

The party identifies the presence of skeletal animal remains, and Emony, the group’s engineer, takes it upon herself to fashion a series of pick axes and clubs from them. As well, a shield is made from a piece of Duranium hull plating that Hogue the Rogue had been carrying around.

The sound of gargling water intensifies, and the team starts jogging uphill to avoid the coming water. As they proceed, a skittering sound is heard behind them, and an enormous millipede-like creature storms past the party as they dive out of its path. Dolvak, the Vulcan mystic, in a moment of stupidity, decides to leap onto the millipede creature and ride it. He manages to hold on for quite some distance, but he slips off as the creature rounds a corner on an ice shelf overlooking a massive cavern with a long drop to the bottom. Dolvak frantically tries to bring himself to a stop with his bone pickaxe, until he dropped over the edge hanging by the axe handle. Varreth, the Romulan soldier, catches up to the errant mystic, and pulls him to safety, however Dolvak dropped his pick.

Scanning the cavern, the team notes that it is roughly a four-hundred foot drop to the bottom, and the ice shelf the team is standing on juts out for a considerable way around the edge of the cavern. The team decides to turn around and go back down, as the neutrino emissions the party was detecting were still emanating from below them. As the team continues downward, the ground becomes as sharp shale, the sound of water is heard, but not nearly to the same extent as before. Taban, the Bajoran pilot, mused on the dead frog he still carried.

Smashing icicles as they go, the party finds itself in a dead end cavern, with a strong underground river at the end of it. Deciding that they did not want to raft down the river, they chose to proceed back up from whence they had just came, only to feel the ground shake beneath them. After cowering for several minutes, the team notes that the ground has stopped shaking and they take another fork. This fork has several imprints on it that indicate that it is heavily traveled by indigenous life forms.

The ground becomes treacherous, steep, icy, and rife with sharp shale. Varreth traverses the slope carefully, picking his way down as the rest of the team waits at the top. Hogue decides to bum-slide down, not waiting for Varreth to reach the bottom. The sounds of yelling and screaming echo throughout the cavern as Varreth avoids the incoming Cardassian and Hogue frantically attempts to slow his descent. Upon reaching the bottom, he discovers that is on the edge of another ice shelf overlooking a long drop. Varreth continues to follow the careful path down, picking out footholds as he goes. When Varreth arrives at the bottom, he notes with some amusement that Hogue has a significant patch of material missing from his pants.

“Alright Romulese, catch me,” Taban yells as he throws himself down the slope, also bum-sliding. The Romulan soldier braces himself to catch the errant pilot, and grunts as Taban slams bodily into him, knocking Varreth’s head into the ground. Dolvak runs down the hill, wrapping his arms around the Romulan to stop his stride, sending them both into the ground. Ion, the Human soldier comes down face-first, shredding the coat he was wearing in the process. Arjin leads the rest of the party down gently, and no more incidents occur.

Walking along the edge of the ice shelf, the party continues to find forks in the path, and takes the route down, until the reach a section of tunnel with what appears to be stairs cut into the ground. After descending down the stairs to the bottom, scans for the neutrino emissions detected revealed that they were growing closer.

The tunnel opens to a cavern, where the walls appear to glow with a natural luminescence, and the party notes the rise in humidity as they realize they are standing on the shores of an underground lake. The team walks towards the sound of lapping water, and are welcomed by the beautiful sight of a pale green glowing lake, with bright red areas visible through the clear water. The scene however does not last, as the ground shakes, and vents of steam billow from the surface of the lake, and the party moves back from the shore. Taking turns to sleep, Hogue takes watch during the second rotation and drifts asleep. The party awakes with a start to realize four of the millipede creatures from before are standing over them, but the oversized insects appear to be minding their own business until the ground shakes again, and the bugs move quickly towards the water. The party observe the insects to be swimming in circles, and Dolvak decides to scan the water, which turns out to be warm, but undrinkable.

The temperature in the cavern rises, as steam continues to billow from the lake surface. Taban tosses his dead frog into the water, and Hogue wades into the water. The party launches their inflatable raft into the water, and they set out across the lake, cruising at a decent speed for a half hour until one of the party notices that the team is becoming drowsy. Scans of the air indicate that methane concentrations near the surface of the lake are rising, and the party looks at each other with feelings of dread.

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The Bajoran Perspective
"Bound by circumstance..."

Space.

The Final Frontier.

His prison.

Taban Varis sat in a small holding cell aboard the USS Devoir, the same Starfleet vessel that had ambushed and swiftly disabled his ship mere hours ago. The fate of his ship and his crew were not known to him. He let out a sigh of frustration; everything he’d worked so hard for had vanished in a few brief, violent moments.

“This was supposed to be the last big score,” he thought to himself. “This was supposed to be the last rough job I had to take, and then I could have retired and simply explored the universe, maybe could have found a place to settle.” Soon, he would be turned over to Starfleet Command, to be tried for high treason and piracy.

Trying to take his mind off of his gloomy future, he began to study his surroundings. Several other prisoners were nearby, spread across several cells. Among them he counted a lone Human, a pair of Trill, what appeared to be a Vulcan and what he assumed might be a Betazoid, but it was difficult to tell. Two more Trill were in a cell together, idly chatting about….something. They were very tough to tell apart, they looked and acted so eerily identical.

The last two prisoners, however, were what caught his attention the most. One was clearly a Cardassian, and at the mere sight of him Taban’s blood started to simmer. Thus far the Cardassian had paid him no attention. Taban settled his gaze on the last prisoner, a massive man with a shaven, tattooed head, pointed ears marking him as Romulan, and his calm, relaxed posture noting him as someone who was more than capable of handling the most chaotic of moments.

As if on cue, the ship violently pitched and shook, far too hard and loud to have been anything but a weapon impacting the hull. The ship lurched again, and the ship’s intercom announced a call to prepare for hostile boarding actions. The lone guard posted by the door ran off, leaving the prisoners on their own.

“Don’t panic,” Taban thought to himself. “Keep it together. Starfleet wouldn’t abandon prisoners in an attack, no matter what they’ve done. That’s not the way they do things. They’ll get us out of here.” Another heavy impact shook the vessel, and the roof of the brig crumpled like paper. With a loud snap, the forcefields of the cells dropped. Taban briefly glanced at the other prisoners, who looked back at him and each other. With no words wasted, the motley crew bolted from the cells.

“This way,” Taban yelled, not caring if they heard or not. He ran like he’d never run in his life, not looking back to see if he was being followed. He ran past a hallway with two uniformed security personnel, who took note of his fleeing and attempted to pursue. With a horrendous grinding noise, Taban looked back and watched in horror as an entire section of the bulkhead was blasted off the ship and exposed to open space. The two crew members stood no chance, and were instantly pulled out and violently decompressed. Taban felt the unstoppable vacuum pull him off his feet, hurtling him towards the jagged gash in the ship’s hull. He saw most of the other prisoners holding tight to whatever they could, and he lashed out hoping to grab something…anything…and finally caught hold of something solid. Looking up, he discovered he’d grabbed the Romulan’s foot, and the extra drag was pulling them both free of the Romulan’s handhold. Bellowing what must have been something terribly nasty in the Romulan tongue, the large man’s hand finally slipped, and they both went hurtling towards open space.

“THUMP!” They both collided against shimmering forcefields, the emergency containment fields having finally been activated and closing the hallway against the hull breach. Standing up slowly, the Romulan glared daggers at Taban, then sprinted off. Not wanting to repeat what just happened, Taban followed as well. They ran without stopping; panels sparked and burned as they went past. Floors and ceilings collapsed and caved in as they ran. One of the prisoners-the oddly identical ones-was hurled into the ceiling behind with tremendous force, head and neck making disturbing snapping sounds from the impact, then crashing to the floor and not moving. Taban kept running. “If I stop, I end up like them. Must keep going. Keep going…”

Finally, salvation greeted them in the form of two escape pods not yet deployed. Taban’s starship knowledge and experience snapped back to him. “Take both pods! Split up, we have more supplies that way!” He dove into the first pod and quickly strapped himself in, watching as the Romulan and Vulcan followed into the same pod as him, then the Human. The Betazoid, pair of Trill, and Cardassian jumped into the second pod as another klaxon sounded, this time calling out a countdown until warp core breach. Getting ready for what was sure to be a rough ride, Taban silently mouthed a brief prayer to the prophets, something he had not done in many, many years…

He was jolted from his brief prayer by the sound of people scrambling into his pod. Looking up, he saw the rest of the prisoners quickly fastening their harnesses. “What the hell,” he yelled, “I thought I told you to take the other pod!” The Cardassian glanced at him with disdain, and simply replied, “The glass was cracked. We’re taking this pod.” Swallowing back his bitter retort, Taban settled in and yelled at the Romulan, “We’re in! Punch it!”

The Romulan drove the handle down and held tightly as the pod sealed, and then launched into the open expanse of space. From the small window, the ragtag escapees looked on in terror as the Federation fleet that had once kept them captive was ripped to shreds. Bright beam weapons sliced through ship after ship, sparing none. Taban struggled to see the attackers, and was greeted with a vision of something….beautiful, horrifying in every aspect, but beautiful.

Taban had once seen sketches of what were thought to be Breen ships, and had found them fascinating, but this…this was different altogether. There was no way to make any sense of how the vessels were built, how they functioned, how they moved…they were, without a doubt, the most alien thing he had laid eyes on. Everything about the ships screamed out one thing. Death. And all the while, that haunting sense of beauty remained about them.

One of the Federation ships pitched over, as the side of the hull was blasted clean through. The vessel shuddered for a moment, then blew apart as its warp core started to breach, and still the alien ships fired.

A terrific crash resounded inside the pod as they crashed into a Federation ship that was going into warp, and one of the Trill began to panic. “Oh no…we’re caught in it! We’re caught in the bubble! Hold on!!!!” Taban was about to ask what the heck she was talking about, when suddenly the stars outside the viewport became a blur of white lines, the pod hurtling about space with no direction. “What the heck is happening,” Taban shouted, desperately holding to his harness as the inertial dampeners struggled to suppress the extreme forces acting on the pod. The trill woman shouted back, “we’re caught in the warp bubble of another ship! We have no way of guiding ourselves!” The small panel beside them began to spark, and the navigation system went blank. “Now we’re screwed,” he thought… Eventually, they felt the warp bubble release the pod, and looked on as a large blue orb replaced the empty space they had seen before. The pod began drifting towards it till soon they were caught in the gravity of the planet, and all braced tight as they prepared for a rough landing…

“Drip. Drip. Drip” Freezing cold water was lashing at Taban’s face. Slowly he came around, staring into the darkness of the crashed pod. The Romulan was already up and about, waking the other escapees and trying to assess the situation. Taban immediately set about gathering the emergency kits and divvying up the supplies. “You’re ruining my spots!” Taban heard the trill woman shout out, having been on the receiving end of a slap-wake-up call delivered by the Romulan. Soon they were all awake, sorting supplies, checking equipment, and stripping the pod of anything they could carry… including a large, heavy power cell ripped from the back of the pod. This power cell they gave to Taban to carry, and he struggled to heave it around.

The group stared at the doors of the pod for a moment, all bracing for the inevitable shock of cold water waiting for them on the other side. Taban swallowed, mouthed another silent prayer, then nodded to the Cardassian at the doorway. “Open it.”

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The Escape
Things are not looking up...

Arjin was freezing cold, exhausted, and tired of snow.

From where the story last left off, Arjin and his crew had been waiting in the brig of the USS Devoir for their hearing, attempting to occupy themselves as best as they could. Sharing the brig with them had been a Romulan and a Bajoran, although in different cells. Things were quiet, the kind of quiet that had Hogue the Rogue tied up in knots and gnashing his teeth. The Arjin copies discussed their opinion of the cell ceiling plates, with their conclusion being that the plates were not gray enough. But the calm was not to last.

The ship rocked, battle klaxons sounded, and carnage broke loose. It quickly became apparent that the ship was under very heavy fire, explosions were ringing out with fearful frequency. A call to repel boarders was given; the party’s lone guard left the brig. A particularly hard hit buckled the brig ceiling and dropped the forcefields holding the party, and the escape was underway. The consensus was that they should make for an escape pod. After a short run through the ship, dodging personnel, weapons fire, decompression, and explosions, the team made it to an escape pod as the computer counted down a core breach and ejected from the ship moments before it was destroyed.

That had been the easy part.

The occupants of the escape pod quickly realized that they were trapped in the middle of a firefight between the Starfleet pirate hunting fleet and a fleet no one had ever seen before. The Starfleet vessels were being devastated. The escape pod was damaged before getting caught in the warp bubble projected by a fleeing Starfleet ship.
After being held in the warp bubble for an unknown length of time, the team was flung into the void of space until the pod found a nearby planet. The injured pod made its best attempt at delivering its charges safely, but to no avail, as the crew made a heavy landing underwater. For unknown reasons, the pod failed to float to the surface, requiring a swim in frigid water.

The planet the team crashed on turned out to be tidal-locked, with the landing side on the night side. With a temperature of -25 Celsius including wind-chill, things were looking bleak. As it was, a member of the team almost drowned while attempting to swim to the surface. During the swim, the team abandoned a power cell recovered from the escape pod. In wet clothes, exhausted, and dangerously close to cardiac arrest, the team deployed a heated tent, resting and drying their clothing. Distributing what supplies they had, the team set forth, attempting to make for an area that contained thermal signatures.

Upon arriving, the party found a series of vines on the ground, an attempt at picking one up led to injection with a slow-working toxin. The Doctor set to work, frantically trying to find a cure with the limited materials he had. Meanwhile, the others continued, but due to exhaustion, ended up in the vines before being swallowed by a plant resembling an over-sized Venus fly trap. After a series of brilliant martial arts moves, phaser blasts, and general mayhem, the party escaped the plant and destroyed it. Deciding to continue despite exhaustion and the cold, the team found a series of luminous pools containing small frogs. Disastrous attempts at catching frogs were made, failing until one frog managed to bite the Bajoran Taban on the nose. The team attempted to return to the Doctor’s location.

Meanwhile, the Vulcan mystic accompanying the Doctor came under psychic assault, lapsing into screaming agony. After a near miss when the returning team collapsed in the snow a short distance from the heated tent with the Doctor, rest was in order. After the team recovered, and Arjin dispensed the cure he created and subsequently collapsed from exhaustion, a scan for metals was made.

During the scanning process, faint neutrino emissions were detected consistent with a ship’s warp core, and the team set out, this time electing to ride an inflatable craft across the snow. The team ran over an indigenous bird, retrieved, then threw it back once they realized something else had been stalking it. Bypassing a herd of mammoths, the party found a cave entrance, where they proceeded to rest. After warding off an attack by insects, and waiting as the Vulcan mystic lapses into another fit, the team decided to stop and think things through.

Given their current circumstances, Arjin is not feeling hopeful…

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Prologue
It was a really bad day...

It all began with a really bad day…

Really it was not surprising, more often than not, the team found itself behind bars or forcefields and this time was no exception. Arjin, Arjin 2 and 4, Emony, and Hogue were sitting in the brig of the Starfleet Nova class USS Devoir. Just as unsurprising, once again they were dressed in gray prisoner jumpsuits. Arjin and Emony played an imaginary game of checkers on the floor, while Hogue tried to strike up conversation with the guards who, being Federation security officers, kept silent. Arjin 2 and 4 quietly discussed the merits of orange versus gray and blue jumpsuits, and thus were ignored by everyone else.

Reminiscing on the past 12 months, Arjin grimaced at the disasters that seemed to forever plague him. The team, trapped in a desert with no resources, found a cave filled with scrap ships and had begun putting together a workable ship, only to find they lacked the tools needed for the job. This setback led the team to search for a shipwright in a nearby town who could assist them, who did, for a price. The only shipwright available just so happened to be involved with a particularly foul group of merchants, who wanted a favour in exchange for the ability to purchase materials. This favour turned out to be the assassination of a neighbouring drug lord who was smuggling medical supplies in at prices the poor could afford, thus undermining the merchant cartel. Upon learning of the nature of the situation, Strenek, the team’s security guard proposed helping the drug lord and kidnapping the shipwright, which by course of events led to the team being captured while they were in the finishing stages of building their ship. Hogue managed to break the team out of their jail when Seylar, the team’s Romulan diplomat failed to negotiate their release, and they found refuge with the drug lord they had saved. Learning that the merchants planned to take the team’s ship and hold the local trade routes hostage in the name of safety, in collaboration with the drug lord’s forces, the team led an assault on the merchant headquarters to recover their ship during which Strenek died of plasma scarring incurred from an automated defence turret.

With the ship secured, Emony managed to patch the ship together back into working order, except the team needed to find a crew. A skilled crew was hard to come by and thus expensive. The team, following Hogue’s plan, decided to steal military equipment from a Federation colony nearby and sell it to the drug lord. Unfortunately, Hogue was a little too greedy and attempted to steal a Ming vase imported from Earth that was equipped with a transport tracker, and the team was promptly transported behind the forcefield of the local Starfleet Marine garrison’s brig. Seylar was unable to assist, as the local Marine Commander expressed an interest in her, and the diplomat was too flustered to arrange for a release. Emony managed to collapse the EM barrier, lowering the forcefield, and the team escaped, although Seylar was shot by a sniper while fleeing into the desert and perished.

Military equipment in hand, the team acquired enough funds to hire a crew of eight, sufficient for their small ship, which was an antiquated space tug, modified for higher power output and armed. Entering the dark void of space, the team sought work in order to fuel and maintain their ship. It was Hogue’s idea to raid the cargo vessel…

Their ship powered down and floating dead in space, awaiting the Cardassian freighter known to be approaching, the team was displeased to find themselves “rescued” by a pirate frigate. Their vessel boarded and their crew attacked, the team attempted to resist but were captured, minus the cloned Arjin’s and Emony’s, who decided they preferred to hide in the engineering compartments than get shot. The team was lined up for a pirate firing squad, and allowed their last words, when the cowardly Emony’s and Arjin’s attacked with stun batons, as they did not want to cause unnecessary pirate bloodshed since they considered themselves to be pirates. The Emony’s died as they kept stopping during the fighting to ask about the weather. Arjin number three decided that he would stop the pirates by stealing the pirate ship during the fighting, and accidentally caused a warp core breach that destroyed the pirate frigate and himself.

The ship back under the team’s control, Hogue suggested taking a smugglers route to avoid heavy space traffic while they repaired their ship. As the team had had enough of Hogue’s ideas for the time being, they elected to avoid possible pirates, taking a main convoy route for the sake of speed. There was some bickering as to whose fault it was that the team flew straight into a heavily-armed Starfleet pirate-hunting wolf-pack of two heavy cruisers, one frigate and one destroyer. The team was arrested, and dispersed among the holding cells of the fleet. Emony shed a tear as she watched her ship get towed into a sun.

And so once again, Arjin and his crew was stuck in a cell, dressed in gray jumpsuits…

It had been a really bad day…

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