Rise of the Plague Wind

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by Scott R. Mulder (AK_Gamer)

FY-208: United Planetary Federation (UPF) Frigate Valkyrie on piracy interdiction mission near Solar Minor.

It was quiet in the morning at the end of third watch on the United Planetary Federation Frigate Valkyrie. Captain Talis Frenzek made his way on to the bridge after a restless night of tossing and turning on the unnecessarily stiff zero-g bed mattress in his stateroom. He caught himself indulging in the rare luxury of reminiscence over his past assignments as he stretched his tight back. The seasoned Captain had become far too accustom to the comfort of life on a light cruiser and knew he would just have to reconcile himself once again to the spartan conditions of a frigate.

Just as the Captain’s thoughts began to fixate on the disagreeable nature of his new assignment’s austere accommodations, the raspy voice of his first officer grabbed his attention. “Captain, new contact bearing two seven zero, closing at 307,000 kilometers on an intercept course.

“Out here?” Captain Frenzek inquired curiously. The Captain looked over his shoulder at his Dralasite first officer who was skillfully operating the Valkyrie’s helm station with three rubbery arm-like appendages extending out from his amoeba-like body. Even though the Captain had spent many tours working with these strange shape shifters, the dynamic and fluid movement of their bodies still seemed a little unnerving to him. “Commander Drex, let’s start a tracking disk on this new contact and keep an eye on what she is up to.” 

 

The crew started to come to life with the news of the new contact discovered on their patrol route. It had been weeks in the black since they had even seen another ship. Only the most intentional of travelers could be found this far out on the edge of the Frontier Sector. So the appearance of another spacecraft was a source of both intrigue and apprehension for the crew of the Valkyrie.

The UPFS Valkyrie’s three month long piracy interdiction mission was wearing thin on both the crew’s patience and morale. Between babysitting deep space transports and the tedium of searching for pirate lairs, the crew was beginning to feel a little stir crazy. In recent months, several freighters had fallen prey to pirate attacks in this region of space. The UPF Spacefleet Command’s solution was to dispatch the Valkyrie to monitor the jump route between Theseus and Solar Minor for pirate activity. The recently refitted Dixon Class Frigate was known throughout the fleet as a well run ship with an exceptional crew. It was believed by the Senior Officers of Spacefleet Command that the Valkyrie’s presence alone would be just the thing needed to calm the growing outrage of the local merchants whose shipments had gone missing.

However, Captain Frenzek and his crew both knew far too well that a Federation Frigate parked here on the ass end of the Frontier would just encourage the pirates to seek their catch in “friendlier waters”. The Valkyrie’s presence would surely be perceived by the local planetary governments as a thinly veiled public relations stunt and a constant source of irritation. They would have preferred to deal with this matter quietly with their own militia forces without the UPF’s interference. However, when the pirate attacks started spilling over from one star system into another it was only a matter of time before the interstellar government was involved. So it was certainly no surprise to Captain Frenzek when the local militia was disinterested in assisting the Federation warship that was now prowling their skies and stirring up trouble along their shipping lanes. While the Captain really didn’t mind that the militia had decided to “Sit this one out,” it did mean the Valkyrie would be on its own. With each passing hour Captain Frenzek became increasingly certain that this assignment stunk more of politics and less of a sincere interest in riding the quadrant of pirate scum.

The better part of an hour stretched by and both the third and first watch crews now busily moved about the Valkyrie's bridge. The unknown spacecraft they had been tracking still eluded identification as it ran silent just outside of visual detection range. For now, Captain Frenzek would have to rely solely on the instrument data from the Valkyrie’s sensor arrays. Intently, he watched the telemetry-tracking stream displayed on the bridge’s main video monitor. “Who’s out there?”, the Captain wondered to himself as he watched the small flashing indicator grow closer and closer on the radar screen display in the center of the Valkyrie’s bridge.

“Captain,” the frantic tone of the beam gunner’s voice cut through the busy hum of voices on the bridge. The Captain turned to see his human gunnery officer, Lieutenant Celeste Starnes, look up from her targeting telescope. “I have a visual fix on the sensor contact, it looks like a Sathar warship, unknown type or class.” Her words brought a sudden hush over the entire bridge.

The Lieutenant’s report froze the very blood in the Captain’s veins. “Are you sure Lieutenant Starnes?” the Captain cautiously inquired almost hoping that eyestrain was playing tricks on her.

“Yes, Sir, It’s a Sathar warship alright, but its configuration is a little different than the scans we studied from the Second Sathar War back at the academy.” Starnes reported as she scrutinized the readings on her instrument panels.

Looking up at the main video monitor, Captain Frenzek could see on the radar display that the Sathar warship was now less than 200,000 kilometers from their position. “Drex, get on the video-com and sound all hands to battle stations”. The Captain calmly gave the order to his first officer and then turned to address the bridge crew. “Okay people, let’s look alive here, we don’t have much time before the worms will be in firing range so lets get a complete sensor work up on that ship while we still can.”

The crew hastily moved about their duty stations with renewed purpose as the sound of the battle station claxon summoned all crewmembers to their posts. There was an organized sense of chaos about the bridge as new crewmembers rushed in to man their duty stations. Among the summoned crew strode a lean, tall, Yazirian Midshipman named Charnaz N’tak who eagerly jumped into his seat at the communications station next to Lieutenant Starnes. Looking across at Starnes he dared a whisper, “What’s going on L.T.?”

“The worm’s have a new boat in our sky”, Starnes hurriedly whispered back under her breath.

“Really?” Charnaz inquired back in a very excited tone that momentarily drew everyone’s attention on the bridge and invoked a harsh stare from Commander Drex.

“Not now Char!” Starnes impatiently shot back a strained whisper at him under her breath.

Moments passed by like hours and an anxious quiet fell across the bridge crew. All eyes focused on the main monitor that now displayed a distant image of the approaching Sathar warship as seen by the Valkyrie’s powerful telescopes. The ship appeared as a small tapered streak of crimson metal that was barely visible to the eye under the ambient illumination from Solar Minor’s sun. But the crew of the Valkyrie knew immediately what they were looking at. It was a sight that invoked both fear and hatred among every soul who laid eyes upon it. 

 

“She’s certainly is a vicious looking predator!” The Captain commented as he stared transfixed at the image before him on the monitor. “A new worm warship like this could bring a terrible plague upon the worlds of the Frontier”,

The Sathar had never demonstrated an interested in scientific exploration. Their entire existence since their first appearance in the Frontier Sector had been one of conquest and destruction. This spacecraft before them was without a doubt some new type of warship. While it did not appear to have the mass of a destroyer or cruiser it was most likely a new class of frigate. The Captain hoped that this menace was some kind of prototype undergoing space trials and not the advanced element of an all out invasion.

The anxious quiet that hung over the Valkyrie’s bridge like a thick fog was suddenly shattered by a ringing alarm at Lieutenant Starnes’ gunnery station. “Captain, new sensor contact!”, Starnes called out as she gazed into the illuminated scope on her instrument panel. “This one is a lot smaller…looks like a torpedo launch!”

 

Without hesitation Captain Frenzek instinctively began directing his crew amid the mayhem of flashing warning lights and blaring alarm sirens. “Starnes lay down a field of suppression fire on that torpedo!  Charnaz, get on the white noise generator and muck up their sensors! Drex, bring us about, best speed to Minotaur! Let’s get some distance between us and those damn worms!”

 

With his senior officers now frantically carrying out their tasks, the Captain turned with careful deliberation towards his young Yazirian communications officer. “Charnaz, I know that this is the first combat action you have seen against the Sathar. In a few moments all hell is about to break loose around here. But before it does, there is something very important that I need you do to for us.”

“Aye, Captain”, the lean Yazirian officers’ mane bristled at the solemn tone of the Captain’s voice.

With a chilling expression of fateful resignation the Captain quietly delivered his orders to the junior officer. “Midshipman N’tak, I want you to broadband transmit all of our sensor records on this Sathar warship via subspace radio to anyone that will listen on Minotaur or the Athena Space Station (Star Frontiersman #16, Pg. #7). The lives of every living soul in the Theseus System may depend on this data getting to the UPF Space Fleet Forces stationed there.

Frigate Valkyrie 2

Plague Wind Class Briefing

The following briefing is classified as “UPF Senior Command Eyes Only” and contains the last data transmissions sent from the UPFS Valkyrie after its encounter with a new kind of Sathar warship near Solar Minor. After receiving this transmission we lost all contact with the Valkyrie and fear she may have been destroyed. A UPF task force has been assembled at Athena station and will be departing within the hour to search for the Valkyrie.

We are designating this new Sathar warship as the Plague Wind Class based on comments made by Captain Frenzek in his last log entries. It is not currently known how many of these new ships have entered service or what their role is within their Space Fleet. What is known is that this class of warship boasts some interesting technological innovations that have not previously been observed in use on other Sathar spacecraft. All UPF Space Fleet Captains in the region should use extreme caution if engaging a Plague Wind Class Frigate.

Plague Wind Overview

Class: Plague Wind Class Frigate

Type: Independent Warship

Designation: SAV (Sathar Attack Vessel)

Affiliation: Sathar & Allies

Atmospheric Flight Capable: No

FTL Flight Capable: Yes

Artificial Gravity: Unknown

Plague Wind - Multiple Views

Minimum Crew Size: 5

Standard Crew Size: 50

Maximum Crew Size: 75

Deck Configuration: Perpendicular

Hull Size: 5

Hull Points: 50

Damage Control Rating: 60*

Crew Restoration Rating: 70

ADF (Atomic): 4, (Ion): 1

MR (Atomic): 3, (Ion): 2

Weapons: LC x1, LB x1, RB x4, Torp x2.

Defenses: RH, MS x2, ICM x5, Decoy x2.

Support Craft: Sm Lauch x2, WP x2

PA: Polymetal Armor

Polymetal Armor, or PA for short, is a new type of armored hull plating for spacecraft that is composed primarily of a Federanium alloy. PA is more durable and resilient than the standard hull metal in use throughout the Frontier Sector today. Analysis of the Valkyrie’s scans of this material indicate that it may dramatically reduce the effects of impact damage. Any ship equipped with PA can add 2 additional Hull Points per Hull Size to their total Hull Point Score. The unique properties of this impact resistant material also provide the bonus of reducing all hull hit damage by 25%. The only downside to the use of such a material is that it is more difficult to repair or replace during combat resulting in a 2 point DCR penalty per Hull Size when installed on a spacecraft.

While PA is not yet available to the UPF, the fact that it is composed of Federanium suggests that its design may have been stolen by Sathar agents from one of the Mega Corporations. Federation scientists are confident that they can reverse engineer the material if a sample can be acquired.

SSD: Sathar Synergy Drive

The Sathar Plague Wind Class Frigate seems to be built around a very innovative but unconventional dual propulsion system. This system uses both Ion and Atomic engines to provide propulsion and power for the ship. The Sathar learned a valuable lesson about the effectiveness of Ion engines in modern space warfare from both the UPF and their allies the Zuraqquor. When speed is not a tactically decisive factor the plague wind can use its reliable but slow twin ion drives to get to its destination. The resource friendly ion drives use cheap readily available fuels and requires far less maintenance than their atomic counterparts. However, when high speed and precision maneuvering are needed the plague wind can quickly transition from its ion drives to its atomic engines. Both drive systems run concurrently generating power for the ship’s systems but only one is used for active propulsion at a time. Since neither of these propulsion system is ever fully powered down changing systems is nearly seamless. It takes about ten minutes, or one game turn, for the Sathar engineering crew to transition from one drive source to the other.

Sathar FTL Torpedo Mk II

The Plague Wind Class Frigates are believed to carry a newer and more versatile version of their faster than light torpedo (See Star Frontiersman #11, p. 10). UPF intelligence operatives who have been studying the long-range scans taken by the Valkyrie speculate that the larger launch bays on the command module can only be explained by the deployment of a new torpedo system.  It is believed that these new torpedoes may have multiple mission capabilities including standard ship to ship, inter-atmospheric planetary bombardment, orbital mine placement, and faster than light deployment via void jump. While none of these speculated capabilities have yet been confirmed they should be heeded as accurate until disproven otherwise.

Clan X Plague Wind
Clan X Plague Wind Class Frigate
Clan Y Plague Wind
Clan Y Plague Wind Class Frigate
Clan Z Plague Wind
Clan Z Plague Wind Class Frigate

Plaque Wind Clan Recognition

Over the last few years Federation scientists who study and record Sathar spacecraft sightings throughout the Frontier have seen an increase in what is believed to be clan specific hull markings and coloration. It is not yet known for certain what significance this trend has if any. Some Sathar ships are now being seen with hulls painted in green or orange which may indicate specific clan ownership or unit designation. Since so much of the worm’s society and customs are completely unknown it is still too soon to tell what these variations on color and hull markings mean. Presented below is an artist’s rendering of the Plaque Wind Class in each of the three color schemes to aid in visual recognition. It is believed that the red colored hulls may belong to the X Clan, green colored hulls may belong to the Y Clan, and orange or tan colored hulls may belong to the Z Clan (Or subordinate allied races).