Fleet Asset Management I: Valten Sector, Part I
Written by Dan Carlson
Based on the Series by Mark Nguyen
Time frame: Stardate 27038.4 (common year 2350). Construction of the first Galaxy-class starships has only just begun, and the Federation recently renewed its peace treaty with the Klingon Empire at the Second Khitomer Conference. But just as one conflict has finally concluded, another one may be brewing.
The Federation has had contact with the Cardassian Union for the last 20 years or so, but recently those contacts have become more frequent and more belligerent. The Cardassians seem to have a program of expansion underway, annexing worlds along their frontier and building up a military force. What’s even more disturbing is how they’re treating the worlds they annex; sketchy reports have reached Starfleet Intelligence about horrific conditions on the planet Bajor, for example. Starfleet Command’s goal is to avoid a war at almost any cost, but they also want to establish a good bargaining position for the inevitable border negotiations which Federation diplomats expect will eventually happen.
The entire frontier between the Cardassians and the Federation contains a high concentration of habitable worlds and raw materials, notably higher than the galactic average. In this sector, the colony on Valten II was established about 20 years ago and is flourishing nicely; the colonies of Minos Korva and Iadara were both established about 10 years ago. Other star systems have been scouted to various degree but not thoroughly surveyed or claimed.
Two years ago, the Cardassians established a colony on Omekla III. Based on long-range intelligence scans, they’re setting up a strong defense system above the planet and have begun heavy mining on the planet’s surface. They have a small squadron of warships, 1 Galor-class cruiser and 3 Hideki-class scouts.
The Xepolite homeworld is in the sector to the “south,” and they’ve established a small trading station to support their commercial fleet. They’ve conducted trade with both the Federation and the Cardassians. The Xepolites are generally neutral but willing to look the other way when it suits their interest. Their commercial fleet does range a fair distance, say across 2 or 3 sectors' distance into both Cardassians and Federation space.
- Valten II
- Population: 130,000
- Alignment: Federation (colony)
- Resources: Farming colony, abundant fertile land and stable climate
- Defense: Orbital station and colony deflector shield
- Minos Korva
- Population: 25,000
- Alignment: Federation (colony)
- Resources: Agricultural colony with scientific research facilities
- Defense: Early-warning sensor probes and colony deflector shield
- Population: 15,000
- Alignment: Federation (colony)
- Resources: Industrial and mining colony, harsh climate and abundant raw materials
- Defense: Early-warning sensor probes and colony deflector shield
- Omekla III
- Population: 15,000 (estimated)
- Alignment: Cardassian (colony)
- Resources: Undetermined mining and refining
- Defense: 1 Galor-class cruiser, 3 Hideki-class scouts, orbital defense platform
The following information has been gathered about the uninhabited but habitable systems—marked (H) on the map—in this sector:
- System R102
- Planet II: Class L, notable variety of plant life, thin atmosphere
- System T512
- Planet IV: Class M, habitable but with an eccentric orbit, experiences more extreme seasonal climate changes
- System R047
- Planet III: Class M, promising indications of valuable mineral resources
- System G38
- Planet IV: Class M, warmer than average with thick but habitable atmosphere
- System J123
- Planet III: Class M, temperate and stable climate, long growing season
- Planet IV: Class M, cold but habitable
- System E73
- Planet VII: Class L moon orbiting Class J giant, possible outpost to support asteroid mining
- System W440
- Planet IV: Class M, negligible large fauna, local star experiences periodic flare cycles (planet is habitable with technological defenses and precautions)
- System H57
- Planet IV: Class M, temperate and stable climate, long growing season
- System K484
- Planet V: Class M, 85% ocean coverage, strong seasonal storms
- System L860
- Planet III: Class M, no useful details available, surveyed by long-range scan only
Consider the background information provided above to be your briefing as you assume your duties in this sector. Define what Starfleet’s priorities in this sector should be. Also, note any gaps in the information provided, and where you’d want to focus your intelligence gathering.
Starfleet wants to establish a small outpost in this sector to support fleet operations. This base will be smaller than Starbase 375, which is about 2 weeks’ travel to the “north” of this sector. It could be either a ground-based or space-based outpost, perhaps up to the size of, say, Jupiter Station. Choose a location to establish this outpost, and justify your decision.
The Federation is planning to accelerate its colonization program in this region, to counter the increasing Cardassian presence and to deny access to those worlds. The Federation Colonization Bureau wants your input on which systems would be best to colonize first. Select two planets for your recommendation based on the map and the information above, and explain your reasoning. (Habitable planets are marked (H) on the map.)
Compose a request to Starfleet for your task force in this sector. Assume you’ve arrived in this sector aboard an Excelsior-class cruiser, which will be joining your fleet. In addition to that ship, justify a reasonable number and breakdown of ships that should be deployed. Specify their primary and secondary duties.
Assume Starfleet will allocate no more than EIGHT starships to this sector given the priorities you’ve outlined. Define what classes, or types, of ships should be assigned to your fleet. However, Starfleet wishes to avoid creating a provocation in this sector, and has specified that:
There can be no ships larger than an Excelsior-class cruiser, and only TWO ships the size of an Excelsior. (In other words, no Nebulas or Ambassadors for now.)
Your fleet will include at least THREE non-combat type ships (science, transport, etc.). Justify their presence and/or use.
Of the remainder, explain their primary and secondary missions.
As always, feel free to use any starship designs you like, but please link to a reference page for any non-canon ships, so the rest of us know what you’re playing with!
Objectively critique one of the other participants’ answers to question one. Point out what you believe are the strengths and/or weaknesses in how the answer differs from yours. You may critique another answer which has already been critiqued.
The fleet you requested from Starfleet Command has been granted in full. All ships have arrived in the sector and are fully functional, and the station has been towed into position in your chosen location. The following scenarios develop during your first month in the Valten Sector. For each scenario, describe the nearest or most relevant starship(s), what your ships will do in response, and how your fleet deployment might change in response. Describe any diplomatic efforts your staff would undertake as well.
Your starship on patrol closest to System E73 detects what at first appears to be a sensor glitch, then is determined to be a Cardassian Hideki-class scout shadowing it. It seems to take no offensive action, but is believed to have been following your starship for at least three days.
The first two colony ships are entering the sector, and will be setting up shop on the planets based on your recommendation in the previous question. The Federation Colonization Bureau requests your recommendation for the location of the next colony, which will be set up in the coming months. Also, describe how the establishing of this new colony would or would not affect your current fleet deployment and strategy.
There’s a mining accident on Iadara. An equipment malfunction releases a cloud of industrial gases into the atmosphere, suffocating 23 miners who were in a nearby tunnel and forcing everyone nearby to take shelter indoors. Unfortunately, the cloud isn’t dissipating very quickly because the mine is located in a steep valley. The local authorities ask for immediate help with the cleanup.
Long-range sensors detect a number of ships, probably Cardassian, heading from Omekla to System L860. Telemetry is spotty but indicates several transport ships, and probably a Galor cruiser as escort.
Starfleet Command informs you that preliminary negotiations with the Cardassians have begun concerning the definition of the border with the Federation. Currently the negotiations are focused on much more populated sectors to the north; there’s been no discussions about the region near the Valten Sector. However, Starfleet would like your input; your recommendation will be included in a strategic report sent to the ambassadors involved in the negotiations. Describe where you think the border should lie, anticipating possible claims by the Cardassians, and justify your thoughts.
Create your own scenario like the ones presented in part (B). Any reasonable military, political, or scientific scenario is acceptable. However, do not answer the scenario yourself. Rather, it will be answered by the other participants as part of the next set of questions.
Choose one of the situations from Part (D) of Question Two and respond to it.
Your sector intelligence officer briefs you on a plan to gather details about Cardassian space by placing operatives aboard three Xepolite freighters operating between the Xepolite outpost, Omekla, and the sector to the “west”. What specific kinds of information would you be looking to gather? Examine the potential benefits of success and the penalties for failure. Will you approve her plan?
Long-range sensors detect a formation of Cardassian ships heading around the “southern” edge of the McAllister Nebula, heading towards the “northeast”. Their destination can’t be precisely determined, but you can identify four large transports, plus a Galor and 2 Hidekis as escort. What is your nearest starship to that area, and how will you react to this advance?
Starfleet reports that talks with the Cardassians are becoming more belligerent. Your superiors instruct you to draw up a plan to defend the sector from possible attack. Outline possible targets in the sector in order of defensive priority and location. Assume an attacking fleet of, at most, 4 Galor-class cruisers and their accompanying support ships.
Objectively critique one of the other answers to Question 3E. Remember to take into account the respondent’s choices in the sector and how they differ from yours. Point out at least one weakness in that defense strategy.
Assume that for the other answer that you are critiquing, that the Cardassian forces do take advantage of any weakness outlined in Part 1 of this question. If you had made that choice, how would you move your forces when the attack came?
The Cardassian convoy spotted in question 3(C) makes for system G38 and settles on the fourth planet, with the warships taking up patrol stations in the system. On the way, they also established a small outpost in deep space in the grid square immediately “north” of Wyo (fka E73). How will these newly established outposts affect your fleet deployment and your development plans for the sector?
Trade with the Xepolites is increasing; they’re buying larger quantities of foodstuffs from Valten and Minos Korva and transporting them to other systems to the “south” via the trading station. Your intelligence officer relays a report that there might be Cardassian operatives infiltrating the Federation colonies aboard these ships. She recommends instituting stricter scanning and identification protocols for all non-Federation ships landing on colonies in sector, with the goal of locating and detaining any potential infiltrators. What do you think of this proposal?
Given the escalations with the Cardassians on both the diplomatic and military fronts, Starfleet has asked you to submit a plan for strengthening the defenses in your sector.
First, Starfleet will expand the fleet in your sector. They will allocate either one additional heavy cruiser-size ship (of any class), or two smaller starships. Describe what ships you’d like to have assigned (and why), and what their duties in the sector will be.
Review the defenses of the colonies in the sector as well. Assume that the new colonies you established in question two have early warning sensors and basic portable shield generators for defense. What types of additional defenses, either mobile or static, would you recommend? Which colonies might need stronger defenses? Assume that your available resources for building these defenses will be relatively small.
Your starship nearest R047 (or your colony on Baro Foro) observes an unusual event: a large comet unexpectedly strikes Baro Foro II, a class-N (Venus type) planet. This planet had been surveyed, but deemed uninhabitable and unterraformable because of the thick acidic atmosphere which also interferes with detailed scans.
The impact strips Baro Foro II of most of its heavy atmosphere, and the comet’s water mixes with what’s left to quickly convert the planet to L-class, barely habitable with breathers. What’s more, riches in the form of dilithium, kemacite, latinum, and sarium are discovered once the atmosphere was removed; the mineral wealth is now available for difficult, but practical mining (this is long before particle fountain or transporter technology is advanced enough for remote mining, and probably never will be).
Two important details: One, a long-range scan shows that the area immediately at the impact crater has fused local kemacite deposits with some unknown stuff that was in the comet, giving it some unusual subspace-altering properties that the Federation science council (and many others) would KILL to get. Two, the environmental changes are purely temporary, and even if someone brings in atmospheric processors, the air will return to an acidic soup within thirty years maximum, rendering any practical mining useless by that time.
Assess how the sudden change will affect the political and military climate for the Federation, the Cardassians, and the Xepolites. How have things changed? What new priorities should the Federation and your fleet concern yourselves with now?
Assume you’ve already sent off your request and whatever ships you requested are on the way but have not yet arrived. Redeploy your fleet and re-assess your defense strategy as outlined in part D.
Credit: Question 4(E) was written by Mark Nguyen.
The Cardassians launch an expedition to Baro Foro II (aka Te Kerav). The Galor cruiser and one Hideki from Kavnoor beeline for the system. Assuming you have a combat-capable starship in the system, the Galor will run interference while the Hideki lands on the surface. (Note that “run interference” does not necessarily mean “shoot first”—think of the confrontation in “Ensign Ro” for possible similarities to the current situation.) They ignore any civilian ships that may be in the area. Assuming they’re not interfered with, after an hour or two, the Hideki takes off, and both ships leave the system, returning to Kavnoor. How will you instruct your captain(s) to react to this development? (Assume that the ships you requested in the last question have arrived.)
The next colony convoy has arrived in your sector, and is ready to immediately settle on a new planet. You previously selected a location in Question 2(B)2—does this location still make sense? If not, select a new destination for the colony. Justify your choice.
Your intelligence officer delivers a wide-ranging situation report. React to the following information and suggestions:
One of the Intelligence operatives aboard Xepolite ships in Cardassian space has failed to report in over the last month. She has no further information, and wants to send a small team of three agents to locate and retrieve him if necessary.
The other operatives aboard Xepolite ships have observed an increase in the number of Cardassian transport ships moving about in the sector to the “west,” among the six or seven colony worlds the Cardassians have there. There’s more military ships in the mix too, though it’s difficult to determine solid numbers.
The Cardassians already have another colony convoy incoming; it’s due to arrive at Omekla within a week, destined for an undetermined system in this sector.
Based on the Cardassians’ quick response to the developments on Baro Foro II, your intelligence officer is more convinced than ever that there are Cardassian agents operating in Federation territory. She’s drawn up a list of about a dozen civilian ships which were closest to Baro Foro in the week after the comet impact; she wants to run background checks on all crew aboard said ships.
With tensions on the rise, Starfleet wants you to conduct a battle simulation to hone your crews’ tactical skills. Design an offensive/defensive scenario involving at least two ships in your fleet, and choose a location in the sector to hold this exercise. (This scenario will be answered by another player in the next question.)
Supplemental: If you chose to place your outpost in the Wyo system (E73), consult the map above and specify the location within the system.
Objectively critique another participant’s battle scenario from question 5(D). What elements do you consider useful and/or practical, and are there any aspects you would change?
The latest Cardassian convoy arrives in the sector. If you haven’t placed a colony in the Baro Foro system (R047), they set up camp on the third planet; otherwise, the convoy settles on the fourth planet of the Wyo system (E73)—regardless of whether you have your own colony or outpost in the system. Wyo IV is an inhospitable class-H world, and was generally ignored by the Federation’s survey missions. Apparently it’s a bit more desirable for the Cardassians. One Galor cruiser and 3 Hideki scouts begin patrolling the system.
How does this development affect your strategy? How does it affect your current fleet deployment?
One Hideki starts loitering closer to your colony or outpost in the system (even if your outpost is in deep space, up to 3 ly away from the system).
Your intelligence officer brings you urgent news. React accordingly:
If you sent a team to retrieve the missing agent, things went south: they got discovered shortly after arrival on the Cardassian colony where the missing agent was last heard from. The team lost one man, but the others made it back. No solid information about the first missing agent was obtained. There’s been no communication from the Cardassians on the matter.
Your starship closest to the McAllister Nebula has reported detecting some odd subspace fluctuations coming from within. According to the ship’s science officer, these readings may or may not be natural; your intelligence officer is convinced that this indicates the Cardassians are massing forces inside the nebula for a surprise attack.
Respond to the following developments:
Another civilian convoy has arrived in the sector, ready for immediate settlement. Choose a location for the newest colony. Justify your choice.
Your “westernmost” colony (excluding Iadara) reports it is experiencing problems with its early-warning sensor net; it’s giving lots of false positives and other garbage data. The colony requests support to repair and upgrade the sensor net; they have ships available to reach the probes, but don’t have the technical facilities to fix or replace them.
There’s an explosion in the main marketplace on the Xepolite trading station. At least 20 people are killed (mostly Xepolites, but 3 Federation citizens and 2 Cardassians died as well). The Xepolite security force reports that the bomb appeared to be made from Federation materials. They don’t accuse you of setting the bomb, but this incident has seriously chilled their disposition towards you.
Long-range sensors detect a lone Hideki, probably operating out of Kavnoor, scouting the G40 system. G40 has no habitable planets or moons, but is about halfway between Kavnoor and Minos Korva. How serious is this incursion to your fleet and strategy? Do you ignore them, monitor them, or confront them? Justify your answer.
You receive a status update regarding the border negotiations between the Federation and the Cardassians. The talks aren’t really going well: the Cardassians are making stronger demands, and have laid claim to Baro Foro and Beaumonde (J123)—in addition to the other colonies they’ve already settled on Kavnoor and Wyo IV. If you have placed colonies on these worlds, it seems the Cardassians want them gone. The diplomats are still considering the options; they want to know what sort of compromise you would consider acceptable; which worlds could be safely de-colonized and ceded to the Cardassians, and why?