Chapter 58 - Season 4: Episode 11 "The Needs of the Few”
“Captain’s Log: Supplemental; We were tracking more instances of tetryonic filaments connected to an EM radiation burst when our long-range sensors picked up fluctuating energy readings from deep within the Shackleton Expanse. We can’t tell what the readings are coming from, but they are consistent with a vessel in distress. All attempts at communication have gone unanswered. There may be some people out there who need our help. We arrive within the hour. This is why we’re out here.”
The Potemkin picked up readings which suggested a ship in distress. Dropping out of warp they discovered two space going life forms in orbit around a gas giant. Sensors readings trigger a recognition from the ship’s library. A Vulcan myth calls these creatures the Ha’kiv, a space-going race that the myth says is able to create stars. The crew get on with studying these amazing creatures but, as is often the case with the adventures of the Potemkin, nothing ever goes to plan. Four alien ships drop from warp to normal space, immediately splitting up and moving to flack both the creatures and the Potemkin. All four ships look like old sailing ships, where the sails are in fact energy gathering solar sails. Firing some kind of energy harpoon the alien ships spared the hull with boarding tubes. Energy was being drained from the ship’s systems even while alien boarding parties invaded the engineering hull.
Another pair of ships, similar to the attacking aliens, dropped from warp and split up making a heading to intercept and opened fire with energy cannons. However they were no match for their larger counterparts and in the return fire they were badly damaged and left drifting. While ineffective their efforts were appreciated.
Even as the Potemkin’s crew rallied and fought back the attacking aliens managed to enact the protocols to eject the warp core, using the boring harpoons to latch onto the now floating core and bringing it aboard. Meanwhile the other attacking ship had secured the Ha’kiv and both ships, having achieved their goals, jumped to warp leaving the crippled ships behind them.
As the Potemkin’s crew worked to limit the damage and power loss the bridge reserved a hail from the closer of the two alien ships. Captain J’Lara introduces herself as a Ar-Ka-Se, a sect of the VinShari people who disagree with their government’s stance on the Ha’Kiv. Spaceborn creatures that are used to power their ships, and are as of now the only source of power strong enough to power their ships are warp speeds.
The offer to help the Potemkin retrieve their warp core in exchange for their help in freeing Ha’Kiv. Some time later, understanding that they could need the full resources of the ship Captain J’Lara offers the use of her ship’s warp drive, but they would need extra power. So, with daft piloting the Potemkin is maneuvered so that the smaller Ar-Ka-Se ship was nestled between the larger vessels warp engines and work started on connecting the power systems of the two ships so they could share power. With the combined energy of the two ships Captain J’Lara’s ship would provide the necessary initial jump to warp while the Potemkin’s superior warp drive would maintain the warp bubble, albeit at a lower speed than normal.
As they near the VinShari home planet they discover a large field of destroyed ships, beyond those is a field of tens of thousands of drones, Pyramid shaped machines which Captain J’Lana says are a security field that would destroy anything that approaches. The ‘Got to’ choice is clear, hack one! Within moments they have hacked into one of the drones and had access to a limited network. They are able to alter Potemkin’s signature so that to the drones of the security grid they will appear invisible.
Through the link they are able to download a massive amount of data. They are able to learn that the warp core and abducted Ha’kiv are being moved together via drop-barge to a secret research and development facility. All the captured Ha’Kiv are drugged to keep them docile and were attached to machines that drained them of their power. Just one Ha’Kiv could power a city for generations.
A massive VinShari research and development facility is located inside the system’s gas giant between a layer of benzene gas and liquid helium. Sensors and communications will be out for four minutes during the barge drop to the facility, due to ionization and electromagnetic fluctuations in the gas giant’s atmosphere. A single escort vessel will accompany the drop-barge. Because of ionization and EM interference, transporter use won’t be possible without pattern enhancers. They discover a map to the R&D Facility along with information that they have captured, and are interrogating an assessor for information, he is also being held at the facility.
Armed with this information there are a number of possible paths open to them. They first decided to go for the warp core, beaming in would be impossible, but if they could get pattern enhancers aboard they could beam the core out. The Escort ship would be a problem for any shuttle that approached and secrecy was the primary concern for Pax. Thus an orbital jump was decided and the chief of security, Johnny 5 and Meme would drop from the Potemkin into the lower altitude of the drop barge. With great skill he was able to land on the target with no problems and find entry into the ship through a maintenance hatch. It didn’t take long to find the core, given that it was composed of materials which were not found anywhere else on the ship.
Within moments the pattern enhancers had been placed and the core was back aboard the Potemkin ready to be reintegrated back into her systems. In the meantime the rest of the away team were beamed into the R&D facility to rescue the assessor.
A brief fight and security overcomes the threat of the aliens guarding the assessors room, they are able to release him but he is badly injured and weakened by the ordeal. He says “Can’t you hear them? Can’t you hear Ash’Tamalia? They’re screaming, she’s screaming! You have to help her! You have to save them all!”
In this moment a screen lights up and a VinShari woman appears, calling herself the Queen Mothers and threatens the away team. Doors opening reveal more VinShari warriors. The Assessor asks for help and drawing them all in close he transports them back to the Potemkin, a method they have experienced before with the Tillikaal.
In a race with the VinShari security forces the engineering crew work to bring the warp core back online before they are discovered. All the while they detect increased energy readings from a dying Ha’Kiv which indicate an impending explosion. All these factors play upon the minds of those within the Potemkin. With just moments to spare the core is installed and the vessel speeds out of the system at full impulse. Her shields and engines once again at full power.
“As you move away from the VinShari system, the viewscreen switches to display the system’s gas giant. The dying Ha’kiv from the barge is there, its movement slow but determined. VinShari ships are firing on the creature and harpooning it, while others are warping away, perhaps aware of what is about to happen next.
The dying Ha’kiv ignores the VinShari, pulling the vessels now tethered to it into the depths of the gas giant. As the creature disappears into the swirling mass, the planet itself begins to shrink and deflate until there is nothing but empty space, revealing the Ha’kiv, the VinShari ships, and their R&D facility. For an instant, the universe seems to hold its breath and then releases one impossible, magnificent flash of power…creating a new-born sun.”