Stormfront - Part 1

Alex Anderson 🚀Alex Anderson 🚀, December 16, 2020
Stormfront - Part 1

This post is the second in a series that describes a complete 5 hour mission that I wrote when I worked at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center. You can read the mission briefing here.

You recall that the crew's mission is to escort the USS Lexington to Lecia, a planet-state that is interested in joining the Federation. The Lexington will perform all negotiations; the crew's ship is there for security. They are also supposed to investigate the enigmatic Captain General Lucius to make sure he isn't a wild card.

The crew’s ship starts docked with Starbase 74. Undocking the ship is a good way to get the crew used to their stations and working together, since it requires coordination from nearly all of the bridge stations. Once they are undocked, they rendezvouses with the Lexington which is nearby. Both ships set course for Lecia and engage warp engines.

Travel time is filled with whatever the Flight Director chooses - small systems on the ship start with damage to repair; messages sent from Starfleet Command reminding the crew that they are only there as an escort, not to handle diplomacy; and some kind of secondary storyline inside the ship for the security or medical officer.

As the crew approaches the former Neutral Zone, the Flight Director should amplify the tension - automated sensor data warning the crew they are about to enter the neutral zone; tense music; if the Flight Director uses a Computer Specialist or Chief Engineer character, that character can express nervousness and anxiety. This is all to help the crew feel like entering the Neutral Zone truly is dangerous and that they should be careful.

They soon cross the Neutral Zone, and enter the Lecia system. The Lecian government sends them a long range message, welcoming them to Lecia. The crew’s ship takes up orbit over Lecia Prime. A few military ships are in orbit to welcome them.

The crew's ship receives a message from the Lexington stating that the Ambassador and Lexington captain are on the surface, Lecian VIP’s are on board, and the talks have begun, so they need to be on the lookout.

They are then hailed by one of the military ships. It is none other than Captain General Lucius, on board one of the military vessels. The Captain General welcomes the crew's ship and asks what the crew's ship plans on doing during the long talks. “Politicians can be very long-winded...I hope you brought something good for the holosuite!” he jokes. Lucius is impressed by the crew's ship and asks if he can have a tour to pass the time. When the Captain General insists that he come visit, hinting that their declining might negatively impact the negotiations, the crew relents and allows the Captain General aboard.

Note: this section of the mission all but requires the crew to be in the same physical location; having physical interactions over the internet isn’t really possible. Flight Directors can improvise for internet flights, such as having the Captain General send a present to the crew's cargo bay instead of coming in person.

Lucius looks around the bridge, and asks the crew some questions about the ship, their opinions regarding Lecia joining the Federation, etc, letting the crew get a feel for how the Captain General behaves. Lucius is cordial and slightly arrogant, but very gracious and friendly, sharing war stories, making jokes, getting the crew’s trust, etc.

Lucius will present the Captain with a gift, some very special object which appears harmless. After a few minutes of ‘enjoying’ the crew's ship, he excuses himself.

Things return to normal. The crew gets a little bored. They watch the news surrounding the talks, tap into camera feeds of the room, and scan the surface. As they scan, they start noticing some strange things happening. Large infantry and armor regiments are mobilizing toward the capital. The crew could contact the Captain General and ask about it. Lucius will tell the crew's ship he’ll get back to them on it. If they contact the Lexington, the Lexington will see it and attempt to contact the captain on the surface, but unsuccessfully. The crew gets nervous.

The military regiments have now rolled into the capital and have surrounded the government offices. They get a video stream of the grand hall and watch as armed soldiers suddenly burst into the stateroom and take everyone hostage, knocking out guards, etc. The President, captain, and ambassador are captured.

Note: All of the footage mentioned above is pre-recorded with actors or clips taken from other videos, and displayed on the viewscreen. The purpose is to make the crew see what is happening and try to react, but ultimately feel powerless.

In their moment of horror, an energy shock goes through the crew's ship and systems shut down. The “gift” which Lucius gave to the crew was an EMP! It took out all of the power on the crew’s ship, and they have to work frantically to restore power to their stations.

A Lecian ship already in orbit begins to target the crew's ship. The commander calls and tells them to surrender. They refuse. The hostile Lecian ship starts moving into transporter range and tells them to prepare to be boarded.

They see the other ships surrounding the Lexington and transporting intruders over to it. Sensors detect phaser fights breaking out on the Lexington.

It’s a knock-down drag-out fight to save the Lexington. The crew's ship fights and eventually disables the Lecian ships that engage them. The ship takes a lot of damage, but it manages to keep the Lexington safe. It looks like they’re in the clear when the Lexington’s power and systems come back online. That is until the Lexington raises shields and fires at the crew's ship. The boarding party on the Lexington took control of the ship.

With almost all of the systems on the crew's ship damaged, they’re no match for a fully operational Federation starship. They have no choice but to run and hide. If they look back at their mission briefing map, they’ll see that an asteroid field surrounds the solar system - an excellent hiding place.

This mission requires the crew’s ship to be equipped with a cloaking device. If they don’t cloak right away, the crew will be encouraged by the Flight Director to cloak en route to the asteroid field (by the Engineer or by Death.) The Lexington chases after and fires a few close shots. The Flight Director’s Chief Engineer character should point out how odd it is that they could fire that close when their ship is cloaked - this hints that the cloak is having some issues after the battle. The crew's ship makes it into the asteroid field and the Lexington gives up the chase.

As the crew is recovering from their battle, a general broadcast goes out across the entire system from Lecia Prime. It is Captain General Lucius giving a victory speech announcing that his troops have taken control of the capital, and are embattled elsewhere on the planet and in the system, trying to complete the Loyalist coup d’etat.

He denounces the old regime, stating that their attempt to join the Federation, the enemy, was traitorous and disloyal to the heritage of all Lecians. He announces that once his power is secure, Lecia will be joining the Romulans, who have benevolently ruled this area for centuries. He declares that a fleet of Romulan vessels is holding at the border, and once the ruling bodies of Lecia have either been overthrown or pledged allegiance to Lucius, he will invite the fleet into Lecian space to begin reintegration into Romulan society.

There are two pieces of key information in this speech: First, the Romulans knew that this coup would be happening, and have likely been secretly funding the preparations. Second, the coup is not complete - if Lucius is able to gain control of the government, Lecia is as good as gone. But for now, there is still a chance the crew can turn the tides and stop Lucius. But they are just one ship, stranded behind enemy lines. What would they possibly do?

Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion of Stormfront!