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System: Star Trek
Category: Science Fiction
The ship has just left spacedock, after undergoing a complete refit. New engines, phaser banks, communication grids - the works.
The ship has just left spacedock, after undergoing a complete refit. New engines, phaser banks, communication grids - the works. The Captain has orders from the sector Admiral to take the ship to a nearby unpopulated area, and give the ship a thorough test, to shake any bugs out of the system. It should be a simple patrol of the sector... but when is Star Trek ever so simple?
The patrol will take in a route covering approximately one quarter of the sector, which at standard test speeds of around Warp3 will take about a day to complete. The ship leaves dock, and heads off towards a planet on the edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone. The Captain objects initially, but when the Admiral explains they are demonstrating Starfleet's power to discourage aggression, he submits.
[A scientist on Zenex Prime is in the pay of Romulus, who will use him to steal the ship's new technology. The Ferengi are acting as intermediaries, saving the Romulans getting their hands dirty. The scientist will lock the ship on a course towards hidden Ferengi ships, use a cloaking device to hide it from Federation allies.]
Passing Zenex Prime
The tour begins well. All systems are standing up to demand, a high of Warp4 being attained during a pass through particularly empty space. As the ship prepares to turn and head back to spacedock, a distress call is recieved from a nearby planet, Zenex Prime. It is brief, saying only that urgent help is needed, and 'he' fears for his life. The message has surprisingly high clearance, meaning the Captain cannot pass the buck onto another nearby ship. He orders a diversion to the planet at Warp5.
Zenex Prime, Stinks like Hell
A quick database search tells the Crew that Zenex was once a colony world, but the programme failed due to excessively adverse climatic conditions. Current scans of the planet show it is experiencing frequent, and heavy, ion storms, and volcanoes litter the planet's surface. Transporting is possible nonetheless. An Away Team is assembled, made up of all the Crew. They are to beam down to the one man-made structure on the planet and investiagate the call.
The Crew beam down 100m to one side of a large, grey single-storey structure. It is raining heavily, and occassionaly a fork of lightning strikes overhead. Quite dense vegetation surrounds them. Tricorder scans show one lifeform inside the building; human. Proceeding towards the building, they find extremely thick mud makes the short trip arduous. Large plants seem to almost follow them as they walk past. Finally, they get to the building. The only visible entrance, apart from the few small and tough-looking windows, is a small door cut into one wall.
Knocking brings no reply. There is no visible calling mechanism. It is electronically locked; cracking the encryption seems an easy task to any Crew member, but those who attempt are electrocuted by the deviously-constructed device. Phaser-ing the lock away is by far the fastest option, given the conditions. Once inside, they see the power is off. A long, dark corridor leads off into the distance. The whole building is reminiscent of Kirk-era planetside colonies, which it probably is. Scans show the lifeform is unmoving, through 6 rooms to the West.
The Crew leader's commbadge beeps. It is the Captain, informing them with some urgency that a Ferengi Marauder has just appeared from behind a rock cluster, and will be entering orbit shortly. He is in no position to remove them from the system, so advises caution should the Ferengi be up to anything, before signing off [The Ferengi are here as a decoy, to appear as if they want to steal the scientist's work, when in fact they are just giving the scientist a reason to get on the ship].
Soon after, tricorders announce that 5 Ferengi lifeforms have beamed down inside the building. They are between the Crew and the lifeform. As the Crew approach, the Ferengi disappear, 5 more appearing in the room behind the Crew. As they approach them, they too disappear, to be replaced by 5 more near the lifeform. This continues until they go straight towards the lifeform [the 5 Ferengi were just holo-signals, sent by the Marauder to trick the Crew]. The human is an old man, hiding in a cupboard, clutching several small circuit-board-type devices. He looks paralysed with fear, and is hostile at first, but will calm down and beam up eventually.
Back on the Ship
The old man says he is Arnald Torving, a Federation scientist, who was working on a project alone on the deserted colony. Then the Ferengi learnt of his work, and tried to steal it. This was why he sent the distress call. He is very apologetic and asks if they would be kind enough to take him to a starbase when their schedule permits. The Captain agrees, saying he will complete the tour first then drop him back at spacedock. The ship resumes course towards the Neutral Zone.
Arnald is given quarters, where he goes to continue his work. He asks if he can divert some of the ships power to help with his work, which is very power consuming. When asked what his work is, he explains it off using very technical terms, but a competent engineer will recognise he is explaining the principles of creating an artificial wormhole [he is really finalising the design for the cloaking device]. When he gets the power, he retreats to his quarters to work.
Suddenly, Arnald is taken ill. He appears to have Alderman's Disease, a very rare disease which is found most often amongst Ferengi. Arnald curses the damn Ferengi invaders for passing the disease onto him. The explanation is a plausible one [it is really a simulated virus, to give him access to sickbay, where a crucial node is located]. Arnald curses his luck, but asks if his work may be brought here so he can continue it. The Captain, he say yes.
Arnald is not in a life-threatening position, and works quietly in sickbay. The first time he is relatively alone, a nurse will see him getting up and looking around sickbay, as if he had lost something. The nurse does not stop him, and he eventually returns to bed, but s/he notifies the Chief Medical Officer, who will tell at least one Crew member [Arnald is looking for node 7alpha, where he must connect the cloacking relay conduit]. Later that day, he does the same thing, but this time appears to find what he is looking for, and for the rest of the day he has his eye on a panel in the wall, though he tries to hide it [that night, he connects his relay to the node, and the ship enters cloak, and loses navigation control].
The Crew notice no difference, except for the extra power consumed by Arnald's 'work' [the power is then re-routed to power the relay in Sickbay]. However, as they reach the border and try to turn, the system does not respond, and continues towards the Neutral Zone at Warp6. Nothing, short of ejecting the warp core manually, will stop the ship. It enters the Neutral Zone, then Romulan space. Several heavy cruisers are waiting. They make a wide-band announcement that if the ship does not leave immediately, the Romulan Star Empire will have no choice but to react to this declaration of war made by the Federation [they are making the anouncement publicly to cover themselves, as if not invloved with the theft].
Obviously they cannot respond, so the Romulan ships move in, fire a few gentle shots, then attempt to take control of the ship. There are several possible outcomes to all of this; firstly, they eject the warp core while still in Federation space, perhaps by investigating Arnald's strange activities in Sickbay; secondly, they make a fight of it in Romulan space, with whatever outcome you see fit to lead onto the next episode; or thirdly, some feat of engineering brilliance removes the cloaking device and uncovers Arnald, when the Ferengi dealers will emerge to try to take the ship by force. It's up to you.