Episode Number: 2×12
Written by: The authors of the Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook.
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 24th September 2023
- Lieutenant (junior grade) Hamilton James: Senior helmsman on U.S.S. Lyonesse.
- Doctor Schiappa: Vahari botanist.
- Jasparr: Vahari botanist.
While the captain and diplomatic staff continue to work towards a peaceful resolution between the Vahari and their involuntary hosts, the science teams have been given permission to explore this diverse world.
I and a small team of exobiologists have taken the shuttle Morgana to survey a remote region of the planet. Known as Shirkassa, this mountainous region seems to have a rich ecology with the potential for many interesting discoveries. It’s also rumoured to be home to primitive peoples who still actively worship the dark gods of the nebula. While I’m curious, I’m hoping we don’t encounter them!Chief Medical Officer’s Log: Stardate, 9941.7
Plot: Dr Vale-of-Winds leads an away team into a remote part of New Vahar, but finds another expedition in dire straits.
The ‘A’ Plot: Dr Vale, four exobiologists and a pair of security guards, are in the shuttlecraft Morgana, piloted by Lt(jg) James. They are heading into a remote mountainous region of New Vahar, where they will conduct a survey of the local vegetation and animals. The mountain range in question is quite large, and there seems to be a major storm occurring in the high valleys.
Vale, sitting at ops, picks up a radio distress signal, apparently from a Vahari scientific expedition. James immediately changs course for the origin point, staying below the clouds as much as possible, since visibility would be minimal. Eventually, he’s forced into the cloud layer and is reduced to flying by instruments. There is an odd form of radiation within the cloud, however, and the sensors start to give bad readings.
Suddenly, Morgana is struck by lightning and the power systems fail. James wrestles the shuttle into a forced landing, avoiding an outright crash, but Morgana is damaged as it scrapes along a large mountain-side plateau, coming to a halt just before a sheer drop-off.
They sit shocked for a moment, then take stock of their situation. The passengers have assorted cuts and bruises, with one of the science team suffering a head injury. The shuttle can fly again, if they can find some replacement parts, but the subspace communications system is wrecked. Their personal communicators appear to be unable to penetrate the storm, which means they have no way to call for help from Lyonesse.
As they climb out of the shuttle, a group of four humanoid figures launch themselves out of the surrounding trees, wielding clubs, rocks, and in one case, a Vahari disruptor. As they attack in a mindless rage, the team are forced to defend themselves, stunning the attacker with the disruptor first. The remainder are despatched quickly, although Vale takes some damage from one that gets too close. Now that they can study them closely, they see that the unconscious figures share a number of features with the Vahari, but appear to have random deformities, and are wearing the remains of Vahari civilian clothing.
Hoping to find out what’s going on at the Vahari expedition’s camp, which sensors showed was a few kilometers away, they secure the attackers, and leave them with one guard and the injured science specialist. Then the rest of the team head out into the forest, watchful for more attackers.
With the storm worsening above them, they make decent time. Coming to a ravine a little too wide to jump, they look around for a way across that doesn’t involve wasting time descending to the bottom and climbing back up the other side. James spots a log on the far side of the ravine that would make a decent bridge. He uses a smaller branch to pole-vault across the ravine, then pushes the log back across for the others. Unfortunately, he injures his leg when he lands, and Dr Vale has to treat it when she arrives.
As they press on, the building storm and other unusual conditions begin to make everyone uneasy. Vale is forced to use her counselling skills to keep the team calm.
Eventually, the team arrives at the site of the expedition camp. There are several buildings, for accommodation and storage, but they all appear to be wrecked. In the middle of the site is a Vahari flyer, but it has been battered into a pile of metal parts. The main laboratory building is more intact than the rest, but the equipment inside has been smashed beyond repair, much to James’s disappointment as he was hoping to find a working (or fixable) radio.
Then James hears a voice coming from behind a locked door. It proves simple to open, and they ready their weapons in case of ambush. In the room beyond is a Vahari woman in scientific overalls, cradling an injured man, dressed very similarly. He, however, is displaying signs of the deformities seen on the individuals that attacked the shuttle.
The Vahari woman introduces herself as Dr Schiappa, a Vahari botanist, leading a study of local lifeforms for their medicinal properties. Her team succumbed to some kind of mutative disease, creating physical deformities and reducting their mental capacity, with her lover Jasparr and herself the last holdouts. Jasparr was attacked and injured by his former comrades, then started to show symptoms himself. She doesn’t know what is causing the condition, but suspects it has something to do with the storm, which has been raging for a week.
Vale explains that the Starfleet team can evacuate the pair of them, but Schiappa refuses to leave without a cure for Jasparr, and the remaining data she still had to collect on the local flora, which she believes can help with a genetic issue affecting the Vahari. Given that James needs time to repair the shuttle, Vale reasons that the away team can help with the sample collection, while she looks for a cure to the illness. There is a time limit, however: imposed by Schiappa’s own symptoms and by signs that the Starfleet team is also being affected.
James cannibalises the Vahari flyer for spare parts and returns to the shuttle with the security guard to begin repairs. On the way, they are followed by some kind of predator, but make it back safely. In the meantime, Vale begins her research and her team gathers samples as required by Schiappa.
By the time James returns with the shuttle, the rest of the away team and the prisoners, the samples have been collected, and Vale has established that the illness is actually a result of those plants being mutated by the unusual radiation of the storm. The plants are, in turn, accelerating the genetic degradation which the Vahari are already experiencing.
While she is trying to convince Schiappa that this is enough to put together a cure, using the facilities on Lyonesse, James realises they will need more support. He decides to try to get the attention of Lyonesse by using his personal communicator from above the storm. It takes some fancy-flying to get Morgana up through the storm, but he is successful, and the captain agrees to his requests. Soon, more personnel arrive to retrieve more samples, round up the infected scientists and recover Schiappa’s existing medical data.
Over the next few weeks, Vale is able to produce a cure for the mutation, and puts Schiappa well on the way to finding a solution to her own research problem.
Observations: We meet Lieutenant (junior grade) Hamilton James, senior helmsman and shuttle pilot. Primarily working on the beta shift, he’s a bit of a daredevil, despite his prosthetic arm.
The Vahari expedition of 13 scientists has been in place for a year, studying local flora and fauna, with the specifica aim of finding a drug that will help arrest the genetic deterioration of the cloned Vahari colonists. The storm hit about a week ago, and some of the Vahari immediately began showing signs of mutation, and a reduction in their intelligence. Since then, the rest have all succumbed and run off into the forest.
Questions: What was the unusual radiation coming form the storm? Does it have anything to do with the “gods” in the nebula?