In fact, the Dominion had no interest in the system until they, too, detected the energy surge from the systems second planet (Anaxim II). Unwilling to pull major resources from bases along the Cardassian front, the Dominion instead sent a single JemHadar fighter to investigate. This vessel arrived at Anaxim II just shortly before the Hawking and took up a position beyond the planets only moon to analyze sensor data and await further developments.
At 0238 hours the morning after the Hawkings arrival, a new energy surge began to build up in the system, centering on a position on Anaxim IIs surface. This surge brought the JemHadar vessel out of hiding and began a brief, tense stand-off. As the JemHadar prepared to storm the Hawking the energy build-up focused into a powerful ray of highly charged particles aimed at Anaxim II. The extreme energy output overloaded the systems of both starships, driving the JemHadar into the planets atmosphere and tearing the Hawking apart. A single lifeboat escaped the Starfleet ship and fell to the surface of Anax II.
This is where the adventure begins.
ACT ONE: INTRODUCTION
Scene One: Taking Stock
The characters were thrown around pretty well during the crash, and each has taken one die of damage from the crash. Be sure to account for the characters Resistance, or the survivors will be virtually crippled from the start. Assume all injuries to be minor cuts, abrasions, or bruises.
When the survivors decide to power up the life support systems, theyll find it a bit warmer inside the lifeboat wreck, but not much more comfortable. High winds still bring considerable cold inside, but unless the characters choose to remain in one place for several hours, they should not suffer any damage from exposure. When they activate the transponder, request a Routine (5) Shipboard Systems (Communications) action. If successful, the character realizes that anyone else on-planet will be able to detect the transponder signal once its activated. They could be opening themselves up to attack from the JemHadar. If this occurs to the players on their own, let their characters realize it too.
Scene Two: Survey
With some careful thought and computing, the characters can even get an approximate idea of where the energy surge would have impacted the planet. In game terms, this requires either a Space Sciences (Astrophysics) or Physical Sciences (Physics) action at Moderate (8) Difficulty. The calculations can take up to twenty minutes on a tricorder. Alternately, a character might simply try to find higher ground from which to perform a long range survey of the area. With a successful Moderate (7) Personal Equipment (Tricorder) action the character can determine the impact position of the energy surge. There is no sign of the JemHadar ship.
Readings indicate that the energy surge would have touched down on the planet just over nine kilometers away, although there are no signs of damage to the surrounding rock in that area. There are, however, peculiar low-level energy readings which might suggest a power source. Over the rough terrain, through the narrow cracks in the huge stones, the survivors could make it to the impact site to investigate in just under 12 hours.
The characters should decide on a course of action and prepare to carry it out. There are two major options:
In the time the characters spend surveying their surroundings and deciding on a course of action, shrouded JemHadar are closing on their position. If the characters stay at the crash site for more than five hours (Narrators should keep track of time themselves) the JemHadar will get close enough to listen to their conversations. Once the characters have settled on a course of action, the JemHadar will return to their ship and report to Kallum.
ACT TWO: HARSH ENVIRONMENT
SCENE ONE-A: TO THE IMPACT SITE
If the Narrator wants to stress the difficulty of the trip to the impact site, she could include a steep ravine to cross, a small avalanche, or extremely high winds as the characters near a precipice. It is important to challenge the characters without squashing them outright. Theyll need their strength when they reach the impact site.
The whole of the trip takes 9 + 1d6 hours, plus fifteen minutes for every failed action during the excursion. This time stranded and alone could be a good time to encourage role-playing in the players. Perhaps someone reveals a problem they had with another character aboard the Hawking, or their secret fears that they may not survive this mission. If such a scene can be included, remember to bring it back up in the third act to close the subplot (unless you are including this adventure in an ongoing series).
At some point during the trek, the characters progress will be interrupted by a deafening hum. It will grow rapidly louder and louder, to the point of threatening permanent hearing damage, before a brilliant off-red light appears in the sky. With a loud, thunderous sound a huge beam of reddish light flashes out of the planets surface just a few kilometers away and rushes into space. A second later the beam vanishes and the intense sound fades away. Its not difficult for the characters to realize that they have witnessed another one of the planets mysterious energy surges and that this one was emitted from the planet very near the previous impact site.
Players and characters may draw their own conclusions.
SCENE ONE-B: WAITING
The Vorta is somewhat short for his kind, and his demeanor oscillates quickly between friendly and deadly. He sports a typical Vorta hairstyle and dark, lightless eyes. His pale skin seems flushed and his clothes show obvious signs of manual labor and injury uncharacteristic of a Vorta. Kallum insists that the characters examine his ship and, if possible, repair it. Regardless of their willingness, they are brought to the Dominion crash sight and shown to the ship. Surface flaking and tears in the outer hull indicate severe structural damage. The ship cannot be repaired without a Starbase.
While Kallum is deciding whether or not to kill the characters, the air fills with a deafening hum and the energy ray described above is witnessed leaving the planets surface. Once the JemHadar have calmed down and Kallum makes sure the characters are secured, he decides to continue with his original mission. With the characters in tow, the Dominion agents proceed to the impact site.
SCENE TWO: THE IMPACT SITE
The doorway is cut directly from the rock and leads to an long, smooth, and empty corridor carved from the stone. Lighting fixtures can be seen set into the ceiling, but there is no means to activate them. The corridor continues for 85 yards into the rock before expanding into a dark chamber. A successful Moderate Search action allows characters to notice field emitters set into the rock just before the chamber. Tricorder readings suggest the power in the field is substantial. By means of demonstration, anything human-sized or less impacting against the shield is disintegrated. If the characters are being accompanied by JemHadar soldiers they will learn this when one of the soldiers touches the field when he tries to enter the chamber and is dissolved in a smokey flare.
The field can be brought down by striking it with a phaser or disruptor blast using 80 Charge or greater. The JemHadar discover this right away (as it is their preferred means of bypassing force fields).
SCENE THREE: HOLDING CHAMBER
No force field prevents entry to the next chamber.
This room is a lobby, or waiting room, for the launch bay beyond. The computers would normally display dispatch information. Although no power is present with which to use the terminals, if characters investigate the chamber hint at its function in your descriptions.
SCENE FOUR: LAUNCH BAY
ACT THREE: NEW LIFEFORMS
This is an alien launch station. Instead of developing warp drive or some similar technology, the aliens who built this device utilized a kind of high-powered transporter beam to travel the galaxy. Powered by a huge underground thermoreactor, the machine converts the shuttlepod into high energy particles and accelerates it along an energy beam to its destination. The beam itself is a highly powerful weapon as it is designed to clear obstructions from the shuttlepods path with an emitter not unlike a huge phaser. The aliens, however, all but abandoned the technology hundreds of years ago due to energy constraints and an unforeseen side effect. Prolonged use of their transporter technology creates an instability in normal matter which leaves travelers in a state of energetic flux. With prolonged use it can permanently transform a being into one of unorganized energy.
This is why the device has been in use as of late. The aliens who built it are disassembling all of them throughout the galaxy so that they wont be misused. The individuals performing the work are, however, suffering the effects of prolonged use. One is present in the launch chamber when the characters arrive and can be detected with routine tricorder scans.
If JemHadar are present, they will not discover the creature until they are about to return to Kallum and make their report. They will then spot the alien being and begin firing on him. Due to the beings high-energy state, however, the disruptor blasts have little effect. In defense, the alien responds by returning the blasts back at the JemHadar, killing them. It will not harm the characters, however, as it is recognizes that they are not violent beings. The fight has left it extremely weak and on the verge of death. It can still communicate, however. It appears to the characters as a slightly-illuminated humanoid with a sleek, long head extending into two rounded points behind its neck. A stylized space suit and reddish skin can be made out through the glow, beneath which organs and blood can be faintly seen pumping shimmering fluids part energy and part matter throughout its body. In a weak, faltering voice it will answer some questions for the characters, describing itself as a Velusinder, and revealing as much information on the launch station as the Narrator feels necessary. All the while, portions of the alien slowly convert to energy and bleed off it into the air. As it dies it begs the characters to destroy the launch station. "The process is al most complete," it says. "Acti ate the flash flashing panel " Finally, with one long, last breath the Velusinder is consumed by the light within him and dissolves, spreading into the air like cinders.
If the characters are alone when they enter the facility, the alien is slumped next to a console, weakened and dying from overexposure to the transport process. The communication process proceeds exactly as above before the alien dies.
An analysis of the power grid for the launch station suggests that, if destroyed, the station will be consumed by a power overflow in seconds. Its important for characters to learn this information, so regardless of what someone rolls, give them this information. It is not possible for the characters to run from the facility before its destruction. There is only one obvious plan of escape: the shuttlepod.
This is where the adventure climax can get complicated. In order to escape the launch stations destruction, the characters have to decipher the alien technology (requiring a variety of Challenging Engineering, Science, and Anthropology actions tailored to the strengths of your crew), aim, and activate the transport device. Someone has to remain behind to activate the destruction sequence. JemHadar soldiers (either five or ten, depending on the previous scenes) arrive with Kallum and demand the characters stop the procedure. Juggling all of these elements is going to be tricky for everyone involved.
There are only a few guidelines to running this scene, as it depends so much on the actions of the crew. Remember to play up the drama of leaving a crew member behind, and dont gloss over the action of dodging JemHadar disruptor fire as the characters settle into the shuttlepod and escape. The acceleration process is frightening. As the shuttle is about to impact the lens at the edge of the chamber the entire vehicle vanishes in a vivid flash with a head-splitting roar. The characters can see each other as colorful, blurred images and can even make out stars and planets passing outside the vessel through a thick, off-red haze. Meanwhile, the character left behind might find himself overrun by JemHadar soldiers who climb to the control platform and accost him, only to notice the panel nearby. "Vorta! Some sort of program seems to have been activated!" Kallums response would be lost in a burning crash and the floor and then the launch station is dissolved in the reactors explosion.
Experience and Renown Awards
Escaping Anaxim II: 2 Experience Points
STAGING TIPS: FOLLOW-UP EPISODES
Its also possible that the episode ends very differently than originally outlined. Maybe all of the characters stayed behind to sacrifice themselves, or maybe they were unwilling to destroy the technology (or their friend). Now they are captives of the Dominion, which provides its own adventure possibilities.
STAGING TIPS: FITTING THE CAMPAIGN
If the Dominion arent logical antagonists for your series, the Anaxim system would just as easily be near Romulan space (which could result in a tense negotiation over who gets to keep the technology, rather than a fight for it) or on the Breen border (which would promise a heated battle). Look to Geordi LaForges experience stranded on a rocky, hostile world with a Romulan crewmember or Picards dilemma over the use of Iconian technology for inspiration.
STAGING TIPS: CHARACTERS
STAGING TIPS: HANDOUT
Kallum is a variation on the Celtic name Calum, meaning "peace messenger."
The U.S.S. Hawking is, of course, named for Professor Stephen Hawking.
Velusinder is completely made up. I dont know what it means.
Please let me know what you think of "Passageway." I can take criticism.