Shell Games

A distress call from the Federation colony on Barok VI forces the ship to divert from her standard patrol route. The ship arrives some six hours later and finds three MA-12 Gorn cruisers in orbit. On the surface, a large ground force is systematically wiping out the colony. Because of close proximity of the surviving colonists, security teams from the ship have to beam down to save the survivors. The three cruisers immediately open fire on the ship and make beaming down extremely difficult. Captain must beat all three Gorn captain's Starship Strategy and Tactics rolls, the navigator must succeed with his Starship Shields roll (with a +20% penalty) to drop one shield, and the Transporter Chief has to make a Transporter Operations roll (with an additional +20% penalty). If roll would have succeeded except for the penalty, that group reaches planet, but are off target and rematerialize 1D6+1 kilometers from the scene of the battle. There are nearly 100 Gorn soldiers on the planet attacking the 80 surviving colonists; the other 420 have been killed. The survivors are armed and holed up in a natural rock redoubt south of the ruins of the colony. The Gorns will fight to the last man. The cruisers will fight until one of their ships is destroyed. At this point, one of the survivors will directly impose itself in front of the PC's ship acting as a mobile shield, going so far as trying to ram the PC's ship to insure the escape of the third cruiser.
Once the Gorn ship(s) have fled and the ground forces are subdued, the true nature of the raid on Barok VI is revealed. It was the classic tactic called "picket passing" from the Four Years War, the idea being to initiate a quick raid on one target for the express purpose of drawing the patrolling ship out of its assigned sector to open a hole for the actual main attack to proceed unmolested.
While still treating the wounded, several frantic distress calls are picked up by the Communications Officer. The first calls are from lone transports in the area. The ship can leave a medical and security team on the planet or choose to beam all survivors aboard the ship. At maximum warp they can arrive just after the Federation world of Atimos comes under attack. The planet is within extreme sensor range (Sensor Operations +30% penalty) will detect six Gorn ships attacking the planet. The local customs cutters fight back, but are hopelessly outclassed and blown to ribbons before the ship can arrive. Their sacrifice was enough to delay the attack enough for the PC's ship to arrive. Closer scans show three MD-8 cruisers, two SS-3 destroyers, and one BH-2 battleship, plus the cruiser that fled Barok.
The Gorns signal the PC's ship with a voice message that they represent the Gorn Expansion League. "The mammals have restrained the growth of the Gorn people for too long. It is time for those that have the power to seize what they have been denied. Withdraw or be destroyed." The Gorn fleet then open fire with the cruiser that escaped Barok making a solo strafing pass on Randarta, the capitol of Atimos.
Despite the PC's ship's superiority on an individual basis, the Gorn fleet is too powerful for them to fight alone. The captain can choose to use the above rules to beam a landing party onto the planet, but discretion and Starfleet regulations require the ship to break off and call for assistance. Nearest Starbase reports they have reinforcements on the way and have contacted the Gorn Confederation. The commodore flatly states that if this Gorn Expansion League represents the Gorn Confederation in any way, that a state of war now exists with the Federation. As the commodore is speaking desperate signals, on an open channel, are intercepted from the Gorn Confederation stating that these renegades are a radical faction of the fleet that has mutinied and are not operating with any consent of the true Gorn government.
However, much like the Klingons and Romulans, the Gorns have frequently used the "renegades operating without consent of the government" excuse to probe Starfleet defenses. None of these raids, by any power, have ever been so strong before. So the question is, which group of Gorns are telling the truth? Regardless of who is telling the truth, the raiders have to be stopped. Two Wilkerson-class destroyers and a Brenton-class cruiser are en route at maximum warp speed to assist the PC's ship and will arrive in fourteen hours. The Gorn fleet brought extra personnel to serve as marines. They have beamed down and hold the population of the planet as hostages. Any attempt to remove them or the fleet by force will result in a massacre that will make the deaths at Barok pale by comparison.
Once reinforced, the Captain has to find a way to free Atimos from Gorn control before possession becomes reality and the Federation has t cede the planet to the Gorn Confederation. If there was a landing party beamed onto Atimos already, they will be able to provide assistance in targeting and intelligence gathering. If not, the need for up to date information on the ground will necessitate a team being inserted on the planet. A high-speed beam down run can be attempted with the same rules as above, or a shuttlecraft can be used. The Captain can use Starship Strategy and Tactics to come up with the means to disguise the shuttle's approach. Probes can be configured to simulate a shuttle. Photon proximity bursts can mask Gorn sensors; any number of tactics can be used to get the team on the ground.
Despite the extra 2,000 soldiers, the Gorns do not have anywhere near enough troops on the ground to effectively cordon and patrol an entire planet. The seat of government is under iron control, but regardless of how the team gets on the planet, their chance of being detected once on the ground are non existent. Once the team gets to Randarta that changes rapidly. They will require streetwise rolls to avoid Gorn patrols and checkpoints. Communications Operations will make covert contact with the Atimos leadership. Once in place, the team can provide the critically needed information the Commodore needs. Additional fleet movements are being shifted to reinforce the sector, restore the patrol rotation, and begin the build up necessary to conduct offensive operations against the Gorns if the information from Atimos proves Gorn Confederation involvement.
The complicated Gorn concepts of honor first discovered during the Hastings incident, requires a Gorn representative to give the mutineers their required chance to submit to the will of the Gorn Confederation before the mammals have the right to take action against the raiders and reclaim their planet. A Gorn ambassador is en route to Atimos at high speed, but will not arrive for two days. The Gorn fleet is massing on the border and if Starfleet acts before this ritual is performed, then regardless of the illegal actions that started the confrontation, the Gorn Confederation must defend their brethren. This will result in full-scale war with the Gorns in position to drive deep into Federation territory before Starfleet can react. The Commodore needs proof before being able to show the Gorns are using this raider ploy to gain an advance base in Federation territory prior to using a "violation of honor" as grounds to start a war they had planned all along.
The Gorn Expansion League is a radical branch of the fleet operating without permission of the Gorn government. It was their plan to seize Atimos and then contrive a violation of honor to prove the mammals are Sslathekas (Beings without Honor) and force the Gorn Confederation to start the war the League wanted, but could not get the government to support. The Captain of the cruiser Render with the tacit support of a few conspirators in the fleet using their position to adjust normal fleet movements that disguised a large build up of the Gorn fleet giving them a temporary, but powerful, advantage in ships in the sector adjoining Federation space. If the League gets their way and starts a war, the Federation will be at a severe disadvantage.
The final piece of the League's puzzle is the long missing Durrett-class cruiser USS Massapequa. Part of the "picket passing" maneuver that drew the PC's ship to Barok, was to not only slip the invasion force to Atimos, but to also slip the carefully restored Massapequa into the system as well. As the Gorn fleet attacked, their primary mission was to blanket the Atimos customs fleet's sensors so the captured ship could enter the system undetected and hide in the sensor shadow of the system's largest gas giant. The Massapequa was ambushed and captured seventeen years ago by radical members of the Gorn fleet that would later become the Gorn Expansion League, painstakingly restored and hidden; this ship is the centerpiece of their grand scheme.
The "violation of honor" will be to wait until the ambassador's ship is within sensor range, then launch an all out attack by the Massapequa on the occupation fleet. The Gorn "raiders" will naturally defense themselves and the light cruiser will be quickly and completely destroyed. However, the real damage will be that the ambassador will witness this gross honor-less attack and will result in the ambassador signaling the Gorn Confederation to defend the honor of their people. The League's conspirators will order the Gorn fleet into an all out attack before anyone in the government can even form a proper response. With the fleet already driving into Federation space and the proof of the mammal's lack of honor being broadcast across all of Gorn space, the Gorn government's response has already been made for them. WAR! The proof the Commodore needs to avoid war exists only in one location, the main computer of the Gorn cruiser that raided Barok. How to get aboard the Render is a major problem. The approaching Gorn Ambassador gives the PCs only 48 hours to stop the League. Once a team is in contact with the government in Randarta, it will require two stealth rolls and a Computer Operations and a Security Procedures roll to hack the Gorn battle network the occupation forces have set up in the capitol building. Failing either stealth roll can be over come with a LUC roll. If this fails, Two Gorn soldiers approach. If the soldiers aren't subdued in five rounds, the general alarm sounds and flight is the only real option. If any of the Comp Ops rolls fail, it will take an INT roll to counter the intrusion detection. If any roll fails, the guards arrive as above.
The battle network will refer to the brilliance of Operation Audacity and Captain Sstenith of the Render in depth locked files detailing the rest of the plan. The PC's ship got a close enough scan of the attackers at Barok ships to know the one ship to escape was the Render. The only way to get the rest of the plan is to get aboard the Render. The only way to do this is via transporter.
The Gorns have seized control of all on planet transporters. The team can use a version of the "picket passing" maneuver to lure the soldiers away from a personnel transporter, or if the PCs are willing to take the chance, they can with a simple Computer Operations roll, gain access to a cargo transporter. It will turn out that beaming onto the Render is the easiest part of the mission. With no internal scans of a MA-12 cruiser, the crew hasn't any means of knowing where to beam. Any compartment the PCs choose will require a collective LUC roll to enter an empty location. A second collective LUC roll for there to be a computer terminal in that compartment, if there isn't a computer, the PC will have to find one. It will again take a collective LUC to exit the room undetected and another one to enter a room that has a computer. Once in an empty room with a computer terminal, it will take two Computer Operations and two Security Procedures roll to locate the details of Operation Audacity. Failure of any of these rolls results in encountering 1D6-3 (minimum roll of 1) Gorn crewmen. The PCs have three rounds to subdue these crewmen or the intruder alert is raised. An intruder alert will automatically result in the shields being raised. Regardless of success on hacking the system, if the PC makes a copy of the file, which they have to have for proof, they set off a watch dog program set to report any copying of the critical file.
If the PC in one round can succeed in a Computer Operations, Communications, and Security Procedures rolls can punch through a copy via communicator. Escaping the Render will require a Computer Operations, Security Procedures, and a Starship Shields rolls, but not in the same round, to create a ripple in the shield harmonics strong enough to be beamed off the ship. However, the residual interference will cause a +20% penalty to Transporter Operations in addition to any other existing penalties.
Gorn soldiers will swarm toward any intruder alert four Gorn teams will arrive within 2D3 rounds and eight Gorn teams will arrive every 4 rounds after that until six teams arrive for a total of 52 Gorns have arrived. A collective LUC roll will give the PCs a chance to elude pursuit for a round. Failing to elude pursuit means Gorns can fire that round, success allows for dodging around a corner or crossing a bulkhead that shields the PC from fire. If things have gone very bad, their last chance is for each PC to make a DEX and LUC roll in one round. This gets the PCs into a compartment they can seal. Failing either roll puts you on the business side of the hatch and the chance to go out in a blaze of glory. Once in a sealed compartment, they get 2D10+5 rounds to attempt to send the proof remotely or cause the shield ripple as above. When the Gorns over ride the lock out and enter the compartment, there aren't any other escapes possible. The fight will be glorious, violent, and hopeless. During these last moments, the PC's ship is powerless to assist, as they would provide just the violation of honor the Gorn Expansion League is trying to create.
The data from the Render proves it is the League that is acting without honor. This strips them of any right to protection by the Gorn government and results in the rapid disbursing of the fleet build up and defuses the looming threat of war with the Gorn Confederation. However, the League will simply not accept defeat. Since the Massapequa has remained undetected it, will along with the rest of the League's fleet will attack the Federation taskforce without mercy. On the planet, the soldiers begin the unmitigated slaughter of the mammals. The fleet's idea will be to break free to Gorn space and actually become raiders. The slaughter on the planet will be to help draw the Federation ships to the planet and to open an escape route.
The Federation taskforce will gain the unexpected assistance from the Gorn ambassador's cruiser. The ambassador will be so determined to stop these Sslathekas that he will disregard all fire to ram the League's battleship and end their blight upon the honor of the Gorn people. If it is at all possible the GM should contrive for the Render to escape to become a recurring and implacable enemy.