Sector Eta, Part I (Pre-TNG Era)

Written by Dan Carlson, Based on the Series by Mark Nguyen

This scenario continues the twist on the original idea. It takes place in the decades before the TNG era — specifically, in the year 2350, about fourteen years before “Encounter at Farpoint”. Let’s see how things go in yet another time period!


Welcome, gentlemen, to Part One of Sector Eta, the fifth in the “You’re the Admiral!” series at the SCN. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, the “You’re the Admiral!” series is a series of semi-guided, hypothetical exercises in starship management, fleet strategy, and diplomacy. They are similar to role-playing games in that you will assume the role of a Rear Admiral in the Federation Starfleet, given authority over a sector of space with orders to demonstrate and enforce Federation policy as best you can. To do this, you’ll be asked to first assemble, and then utilize, a fleet according to the circumstances. However, unlike an RPG, there is no interaction between the different players; this is simply an individual reaction to circumstances. The idea is to come up with different perspectives, goals, and methods to solve similar problems.

These scenarios were started on the Flare Sci-Fi Forums about a year and a half ago, and are archived in a separate section of my site. (“You’re the Admiral!” was in turn inspired by the old “What Starship Would You Send?” threads on the r.a.s.t. newsgroup.) With Mark’s permission, I’ve started a spin-off series to conduct here on the SCN.

For each map, assume that:


Stellar Cartography: Sector Eta

Now for some basic information about your new assignment, Sector Eta:

Planetary Statistics

Population: 155,000
Alignment: Federation (colony)
Defense: 20 Peregrine-class couriers, minimal orbital defenses
Notes: Agricultural colony; abundant natural resources
Population: 110,000
Alignment: Federation (colony)
Defense: 5 “Raider”-type light transports, 10 Peregrine-class couriers, no orbital defenses
Notes: Agricultural colony; abundant natural resources
Population: 36,000
Alignment: Federation (colony)
Defense: 2 “Raider”-type light transports, no orbital defenses
Notes: Dilithium mining colony; abundant natural resources
Population: 13,000
Alignment: Federation (colony)
Defense: None
Notes: Agricultural and mining colony; moderate natural resources
Alignment: Unclaimed
Notes: Moderate natural resources
Dixie’s Star
Alignment: Unclaimed
Notes: Abundant fertile land for agriculture
Population: 20,000
Alignment: Cardassian (colony)
Defense: 2 Hideki-class heavy fighters, moderate orbital defenses
Notes: Agricultural colony
Population: 150,000 (estimate)
Alignment: Cardassian (colony)
Defense: Unknown
Population: 1,000
Alignment: Cardassian (colony)
Defense: Minimal orbital defenses
Notes: Mining colony
Population: 6.5 billion
Alignment: Neutral
Government: Oligarchy
Technology: Early 24th-century equivalent
Defense: Minimal orbital defenses
Notes: Large trading fleet, few natural resources
Population: 130,000
Alignment: Kressari
Defense: None
Notes: Crucial agricultural colony for Kressari homeworld

Question One

  1. As with Sector Zeta, take into account the different time period of this scenario. Analyze changes that you will need to account for throughout the simulation, focusing on the following areas:

    1. Technological differences, including warp travel times, relative combat capabilities, and sensor capacities;

    2. Political differences, including Federation foreign policy, diplomatic relations, and internal affairs; and

    3. Cultural and psychological differences, especially the command styles of contemporary Starfleet officers.

    Also include any other differences you think are important.

  2. As with previous sectors, define what Starfleet’s priorities in this sector should be. Describe the political position of the Cardassians at this point in time. Also, note any gaps in the information provided and where you’d want to focus your intelligence-gathering.

  3. Starfleet’s resources are stretched pretty thin in this region, with most materials being channeled towards the more-populated planets in the core regions. The Federation does want a larger presence in the area, and is planning to allocate resources to build a small starbase (think Starbase 375) in the sector. Choose a location to build your starbase, and justify your answer.

  4. Request from Starfleet a reasonable number and breakdown of starships to be deployed in this sector to accomplish your goals, and what their primary and secondary duties will be. Assume that Starfleet will assign no more than eight starships of any type to the sector. Your fleet must include at least two non-combat ships of any type; justify their inclusion in your fleet. In addition to your regular fleet, a number of transports, both Federation and civilian, will be making regular runs into and out of the sector.

Question Two

  1. Objectively critique one of the other 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.

  2. The following are several situations that occur on your watch. For each scenario, describe what the nearest (or most relevant) starship to that event should be, what that ship should do in response, and how your fleet status could or should change as a result. Describe also any diplomatic efforts your staff should be making. Assume that events from one scenario will not directly affect the others. (You may assume that your full fleet has arrived in the sector.)

    1. An earthquake causes major damage to one of the mining facilities on Oero. A cloud of toxic nupretine dust has been released into the environment, and a third of the colony’s population needs to be evacuated and settled elsewhere on the planet. Given that approximately 12,000 people need to be moved within the next five days (before the toxins become deadly to the residents), how many ships are necessary to perform the relocation? Will those ships be able to arrive quickly enough, and do they have a large enough evacuation capacity to move all 12,000 people before the deadline?

    2. A Cardassian Hideki-class patrol ship is detected scouting the outskirts of the Aiam system. They refuse to respond to hails.

    3. The Kressari express interest in opening up a trade route between their homeworld and the Federation’s colony on Chesapeake. However, they’re concerned about piracy, which is still unfortunately a widespread problem among the Federation’s outer sectors. They request that you send a starship to patrol the trade route (a direct line between the two points) and discourage any potential attacks.

  3. The Cardassians loudly complain about the Federation’s deployment of such a “large” fleet along their borders. In response, they send a squadron of four Galor-class cruisers and six Hideki-class fighters to reinforce their colonial defenses and patrol the border. In addition, they start building a starbase of their own (a Nor-type station) in the NC-1051 system, on the outskirts of the Coran Nebula. How will you redeploy your own ships in response?

  4. Create another 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 others as part of Question Three.

Question Three

  1. Choose one of the situations from Part D of Question Two and answer it.

  2. The Federation has established new colonies on the uninhabited planets orbiting Pondara and Dixie’s Star. Given that these colonies are closer to the poorly-defined Cardassian border, how will you redeploy your starships as a result — if at all?

  3. Given the following scenarios, maneuver you fleet accordingly (if required) and describe your reactions to the various developments.

    1. Monitoring stations on Sarfassas detect a starship of unknown configuration entering the Coran Nebula from the far side of the sector. Assume that this is a potential First Contact situation. Will you send a ship to make contact? What do you think the Cardassians will do, assuming they have also detected the vessel?

    2. The frequency of patrols by Cardassian Hidekis is increasing rather than decreasing. They’re especially making frequent passes around Pondara and Dixie’s Star, the two newest colonies.

    3. The USS Brighton, on a survey mission to the sector “west” of Sector Eta, fails to report in on schedule. Can you spare a starship to go search for the missing vessel?

  4. The Kressari have reported a noticeable jump in the instances of piracy against their shipping, despite the presence of your starship along the Kressar-Ik’ntshy-Sarfassas trade route. The majority of the attacks happen along the route between XP-5UX1, where the Kressari maintain a small trading outpost, and the Cardassian colony of Yattik. The Kressari say that they have asked the Cardassians for help in securing the trade route, but the Cardassians have not committed to sending any ships yet. The Kressari ask you to extend your existing patrols to help stop the piracy. Assume that any new patrols will require at least one more starship in addition to the one you assigned in Part B(3).

  5. 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, double the Cardassian fleet’s current strength.

Question Four

Guest Lecture by Mark Nguyen

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

  1. The attacks on the Kressari grow increasingly frequent and dangerous; what’s worse, the pirates seem to be increasingly well-armed as time passes, with every ship lost replaced by another more modern one. There is public outcry towards the Kressari government for action, with many citizens demanding either a defence pact with the Federation or the Cardassians, or a wholesale arming of their merchant fleet complete with escorts.

    1. The second choice of arming their fleet would result in a significant tip in the balance of power - your intelligence estimates that to properly defend themselves, their merchant fleet would become well-armed enough to threaten your own forces should they turn hostile. How would you go about discouraging this sort of action? Would you offer the Kressari anything?

    2. Given that military escalation is not good, Starfleet is ordering you to make overtures to the Kressari and spread your forces to help the Kressari. However, they are not going to let you spread yourself too thin, and ask that you request three additional starships to bolster your fleet. Outline what kinds of ships you would like, and how they would be deployed. If granted, any ships requested would arrive in time for the next Question. Don’t be too greedy; assume that Starfleet won’t be sending you any Ambassador-class ships any time soon.

  2. Stellar Cartography: Pondara System

    On Pondara, the colonists are getting used to their new digs when a large comet unexpectedly strikes another planet in that system, this one a Class-N (Venus-type) closer to the star. This planet had been surveyed, but deemed uninhabitable or unterraformable because of the thick acidic atmosphere which also interferes with detailed scans.

    The impact strips Pondara 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.

    1. Assess how the sudden change will affect the political and military climate for the Federation, the Cardassians, and the Kressari. How have things changed? What new priorities should the Federation and your fleet concern yourselves with now?

    2. 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 Q3.

Question Five

Note: If you sent a starship searching for the USS Brighton back in Question Three, you can assume that it has returned from its mission by now.

  1. Your regular weekly briefing from Earth includes the following information: The Cardassians have filed a strong protest against the Federation’s recently-established settlements on Pondara and Dixie’s star, claiming that both systems lie within the pre-existing territorial boundaries of the Cardassian Union. The Federation Council rebuts that the Cardassians’ claim was not pre-existing as there was no official declaration of ownership made. Negotiations are ongoing, and your superiors are still hopeful that a peaceful solution can be reached.

    How will this news affect your operations here in Sector Eta?

  2. The starships that you requested in Question 4-B(2) have arrived, and are now on their way to their preassigned deployments. But strangely, the Kressari have already reported a drop in the frequency of the pirate attacks along their trade routes —before your starships arrived! What do you make of this development?

  3. The preliminary reports from Pondara II are even more promising than the long-range scans: there are indications of deposits of kelindide and rodinium —both materials favored by the Cardassians for their space-based construction. But most importantly, the scouts have discovered veins of verterium cortenide, the material used to create warp coils! Though the material will require a great deal of refinement to make usable, the discovery promises to be a great boon for the Federation’s starship construction projects for years to come.

    Overnight, Pondara has become the most important location in the entire sector. Because of the high value of the materials found there, Starfleet orders that you immediately reinforce the system’s defenses to prevent the Cardassians (or anyone else) from gaining control of the system. Assume that Starfleet is not able to send you any more front-line starships; how will you build Pondara’s defenses?

  4. You have lost contact with Dixie’s Star. All transmissions to the system go unanswered. If you have a starship deployed to that system, you’ve lost contact with them too.

Question Six

Archivist’s Note: Sector Eta was put on indefinite hold and eventually abandoned in 2004.