The Lucanii Drift - Intersession 1

Intersession 1

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Mission Date 130
Starbase Keppler is the only station in the Drift, and the anchor of Confederation activities. It went operational faster than any starbase to date. Fleet had stated that it was an unusual design. The crew of the Endeavor can see that it is more like an experiment in recycling.

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The starbase is built about a huge, broken-spherical alien hull. It looks like a hollow ball that’s had a section of its exterior torn out, revealing a mostly empty interior, broken here and there by massive metallic sections jutting in from the shell, or debris within. Presumably this was something found floating here – no one has ever seen anything like it among the Confederation, Zangids or Videni. It looks very advanced – it’s difficult to imagine the techniques that went into the construction of it. Confederation engineers have modified it by connecting an incomplete docking and habitat ring. This looks like it was mostly cannibalized from damaged ships and older starbase sections.

After Ens. Katzenjammer releases the derelict freighter MX-319 to the station tractor beam, the dock chief hails the ship: “Starship Endeavor, you are cleared for docking at bay 3.”

Starbase Keppler looks pretty rough on the inside, even for a frontier base. It has a "swimming pool," (a large cargo bay filled with water, cleaned through old-fashioned chloronation), a "park" (a room full of plants), and a "gym" (a room with a few pieces of heavy junk scavenged from the ship — for lifting!). There's also a bowling alley, according to the uploaded blueprints.

The main attraction of the starbase, according to an ad at the front of the blueprints, is "MeliSol," hosted by an Entirran named Waka'biizi. It looks like a pharmacy? Or a bar? Or both?

Dr. Zangor

Dr. Zangor announces his intentions to his shipmates:
“ZANGOR will use CHARM to mingle with residents of Keppler. Have residents seen or heard rumors of BUG MAN from strange ships? ZANGOR will mingle at PHARMACY BAR. ZANGOR is DOCTOR.

ZANGOR will seek to learn more about BUG MAN. What does BUG MAN like for snacks? What are BUG MAN HOPES and FEARS. What does BUG MAN see when he closes eyes to DREAM?

ZANGOR is PEOPLE PERSON. Also SCIENCE PERSON.”

Dr. Zangor has no problem finding the Melisol bar. It seems like every intersection has a sign directing the traveler to the Melisol bar.

Built inside the shell of an old engine room, it feels like the real center of life on the starbase. The proprietor, an Entirran named Waka’biizi, is quick to prescribe Zangor whatever cocktail he wants. When he begins speaking of the encounter with the Bug Men, he becomes the center of attention, and many patrons pay for further prescriptions in exchange for his tale.

Though none have heard of the Bug Man, many are quick to speculate on Bug Man hopes, fears and dreams.

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“Whoever they are, there’s no need for a feud. They’re welcome at the Melisol! We welcome all people! I love everybody!” Waka’biizi shouts in a way that, like her smile, is both merry and creepy.

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“They’re just aggressive in protecting their business interests in this area… but I’m sure we can make a deal,” says Mr. Neek, a human trader, slightly soiled. He consults his Market Analyzer. “Don’t grasshoppers eat plants? A shipment of Struvian Alfalfa could be provided to them for a bargain, plus a finder’s fee…”

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“But what if they hate us for our values?! What if they fear love, or art?!” cry out Shavira and Ravira, the Pleiadian croupiers/singers/chandelier technicans/fortune tellers/exotica dancers, between sets.

Ens. Chemisa Rojas

Ens. Rojas feels she is in need of new people to compete with in good natured sport where brawling is part of the fun. She heads for the bowling alley in hopes of finding someone willing to adopt the game to the Rigelian version. Before she departs though she checks in with Commanding Officer White-Linen. Theresa can use some diversion after having the weight of command hoisted onto her. Chemisa invites the Commanding Officer to join her at the bowling alley after she has gotten it ready for some Real bowling. She also needs to make sure she picks a fight with any pilots that are already stationed on Keppler as a way to formally introduce herself properly. If there is one thing she has, it's proper manners.

Ens. Theresa White-Linen

Ensign White-Linen's time is spent mostly gathering intel about the Drift. She calls Spaceman Xox, a Tauran Enlisted Scientist, to the brig. He knows why he's here: she wants him to use his Tauran ESP technique on the captured Zangid spy, "Paxton." He's hesitant. What will they say of him on Taurus? But he only mutters, "It seems invasive."

White-Linen points at their grinning captive: "Spaceman Xox, he's a Zangid spy and saboteur who nearly killed everyone on this ship, the population of Bifrost colony, and would have condemned the Drift to military conquest. He had help. I'm no expert in Tauran ethics, but the Kantian Categorical Imperative, the Rawlsian Veil of Ignorance, and the Golden Rule all indicate that we have an moral obligation to protect others from similar threats, provided we do so in a manner that is not gratuitously painful. Violating this fellow's privacy is distasteful, but it's the only way to be certain he's not lying.

"If that doesn't convince you: consider it an order, and I take full command responsibility. Should you wish to file a report to Star Force, we're in a good spot for it, and I will not retaliate for a man simply following the dictates of his conscience."

Spaceman Xox complains — "This will be going into the logs!" — but ultimately enters the Zangid's mind with an expression of distaste.

The Zangid spy actually knows very little – their intelligence service understands the importance of siloing information. With a great deal of face-fondling and brow-furrowing, Xox wrenches these images from the spy's mind…

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…a massive ship, under construction in orbit around a moon of the Zangid homeworld of Zonos…

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…preliminary tactical plans, involving one or more of the Alpha, Zeta and Lambda sectors of the Drift…

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…and a fierce Zangid Commodore, Zak’akh, at whose will both ship and plans move forward.

Official Briefing

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Administrator Wellard of Colonial Services greets Ens. White-Linen in his small office aboard Starbase Keppler. After the mission debriefing, he answers the captain’s concerns about the Zangid Star Empire. “No, I hardly think the Zangids have access to the Lucanii Drift. That’s why they tried to shut down the Corridor by blowing you up, because they don’t want us to have access either. Between here and there is a matrix of pulsars, neutron stars, hyperspace distortions…it’s completely impassable. Their ships would be battered to pieces, their crews dead. No, it’s not hardly possible, never, never.”

As for the ships encountered, he’s a little more worried. “Well… of course we knew the Lucanii Drift has had hyperwarp-capable civilizations. Heck, my starbase is built on the proof of that. But the academy types said whatever people built this sphere, they were long gone. It sounds like this life-form you encountered isn’t capable of building something like that, but… then there’s this technology that makes them invisible to long-range sensors… we don’t know what they’re capable of, do we?”

He picks up the data tape containing the death report for Captain Cygnus. “In spite of all that’s happened, until we hear otherwise, it seems like your orders remain the same: explore the Lucanii Drift. Colonial Services stands ready to help Fleet in any way. But… learning more about this… insectoid life form, let’s call it… that seems like a priority if push comes to shove. And if they do mean us harm, then I assume you’ll remember that your orders are also to protect the colonies.”

Ens. White-Linen listens with dutiful respect to Administrator Wellard's view of the threat from the Zangid Space-Bastards. She gives a slightly disappointed but credulous nod. When he shifts topics to the mantis-aliens, she pays strict attention, as if no longer thinking about Space-Bastards at all.

After the meeting, she reads her navigator’s invitation to Rigellian Bowling on the comm. Feeling spry, she decides to join her, but on the way to the bowling alley, White-Linen accosts Spaceman Xox again. "Crewman, I appreciate your discipline to perform a task you find personally distasteful. As a matter of logic, Captain Cygnus only would have sacrificed himself to achieve a greater goal, namely, safeguarding the freedom of the Drift from Zangid dominion. For the moment, though, I am placing you under orders to confine your readings to the officers of the Endeavor. We can surmise that the saboteur had help; we do not yet know the source. Therefore we must be … economical with the truth until we know more."

Satisfied with her warning, she makes her way to the bowling alley, rolling the Wellard’s statements around in her head. She makes a mental note to ask Ensign Rojas about pulsars and other navigational hazards between the Zangid territory and the Drift. Wellard may be telling the truth, and very likely was not the saboteur's handler, but it pays to be careful…

Ens. Rojas

Rojas finds the bowling alley in corridor 12C. The six lanes are currently set to zero-G, and a retrieval-bot chases stray floating pins. It catches one, but the other passes through the gravity screen at the front of the lane and suddenly clatters to the floor.

The only occupied lane is taken by the crew of an independent trader back from Gateway Colony. It doesn’t take Rojas long to figure out the young sport in the flight jacket and the sandgator boots is the pilot. He winks at her. Apparently a good Rigellian introduction is in order.

She politely points out to the pilot that the deficiency in his eye means his depth perception, and thus bowling skills, are probably deficient. She then turns to the smallest person in his group. “You’re my pin.” Thems are the rules on Rigel.

White-Linen enters the alley, her question about pulsars on her lips. She never gets to ask, as she is too busy watching a small freighter crewman float down one of the lanes. He hangs there, peaceful but looking a bit put out. Then he’s really put out by a bowling ball slamming into his chest and hurtling him to end of the lane. The pins explode around him, bouncing off the walls and ceiling. Rojas shouts, “Strike!”

In the Brig

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The cell they put Ensign Rojas in is Spartan but comfortable. The Chief of Security for Starbase Keppler, Lt. Darrem, allows the bridge crew of the Endeavor to visit her. She steadfastly refuses to release the officer to White-Linen. “While your crew is aboard the Starbase, they’re under Colony Services jurisdiction. Ensign Rojas will remain in the cell until a hearing with Administrator Wellard. If it was just the freighter crewman she threw, that could be overlooked… but then there were the other injuries.” She looks at Rojas, with unfiltered approval on her face. “I don’t expect you to understand the importance we Rigellians put on civilized behavior, but it would be demeaning to Ensign Rojas if she didn’t spend a few days in the brig meditating on her combat, so that next time she will be more effective. Don’t worry, she’ll be ready to return to duty by the time you get back from your first exploratory mission.”

(compiled from material by skidoo, James N., sternum, Fano & Peter)

Prev: Session 1, Mission Date 127-129

Next: Session 2, Mission Date 130-139

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