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Official Fleet-Wide Mission

Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Be ready for anything

Mission Description

From across the galaxy, wild reports reach Starfleet’s ears. Sensor readings pick up gravimetric distortions that cause chaos in planetary atmospheres, disturb stellar phenomena or agitate nebula particles. Ships are going missing, or appearing as if from nowhere, thousands of light-years from their last known location.

Those that can communicate speak of being dragged into what they thought was a wormhole, a subspace passageway of branching tunnels and chaotic turbulence their ship tumbled through before falling out of another exit point. It defies all known records of any wormhole – but readings and descriptions do match another phenomena, barely known to Starfleet and ill-understood: Underspace.

This network of subspace corridors was first encountered by Starfleet through the journey of the USS Voyager. Complex, dangerous, and labyrinthine, these passageways once enabled the long-dead Vaadwaur to build one of the largest empires the galaxy has ever known before their eventual downfall. Now, only their former vassals, the Turei, understand enough of Underspace for it to be safely traversed. Since then, Starfleet has only accessed Underspace with the help of the Turei, and has never known its tunnels to reach any further than the Delta Quadrant. Until now.

Now, when apertures into Underspace seem to be opening all over the galaxy, its vast network reaching from Betazed to Ocampa, from the heart of the Klingon Empire to, potentially, the heart of Dominion territory. What does this mean? How has this happened? Why has this happened?

But those are all questions for later. Many have no idea what Underspace is, or are too busy dealing with strange phenomena, lost ships, or falling through the to the far side of the galaxy to care about reports of some Delta Quadrant highway.

For some, the galaxy will never be the same again. For others, surviving the next 24 hours is far more pressing.

THE CAMPAIGN

The campaign of Labyrinth is a series of independent stories contributing to the greater narrative of the second 2023 Fleet Action. Members will write the stories of their ships and crews investigating and responding, and the Intelligence Office will respond to these and advance the campaign’s events.

Any member is welcome to participate in Labyrinth. If you have a primary command, you can write the story of your starship and crew encountering an Underspace aperture, or those who have travelled through it. You can start a Mission on BFMS under this fleet-wide Mission. If you want to write with another member, you can do so! Your ships or characters can work together on missions. BFMS supports this.

Labyrinth is a campaign stretching across three phases. After each phase, the narrative will advance, circumstances changing to provide a new galactic situation, and new storytelling opportunities. This does not mean that you should plan, write, and resolve a whole mission every two weeks. It is absolutely fine for you to start with a premise and write it over the whole six weeks – but to get the most out of this campaign, we encourage writers to be flexible. Be ready to add new plot elements, reflecting changes as the galaxy responds to the expansion of Underspace. If you want to stay as agile as possible, able to incorporate as much of the plot of Labyrinth into your story as you can, follow the guidance from the Intelligence Office as every phase is released.

The status quo will not turn wildly on its head each phase. But new circumstances will arise, new challenges, priorities, and themes.

LABYRINTH: PHASE 1

In the first phase of this campaign, all of these inciting events are still happening. Unlike in past campaigns, where the initial action – the invasion of the Lost Fleet, the fall of the Romulan Senate – has kicked off by the time your ship is involved, for the first two weeks of this story, the Intelligence Office invites members to write their part of the very start of the campaign.

Here, ships may be going about their ordinary business before encountering an Underspace aperture opening on top of them, with all the chaos that brings. Rather than responding to a known situation, Phase 1 is about the confusion and chaos brought about by events such as:

  • Your ship investigating strange readings, only to be pulled into a gravitic phenomenon and become trapped in these mysterious subspace ‘tunnels’
  • Your ship has tumbled through these tunnels and suddenly emerged somewhere in the galaxy. Where? How?
  • Strange sensor readings lead your ship to a gravitic phenomenon that is causing chaos in space. It might be agitating a nebula’s particles such that a common trade route is impossible to navigate – or disturbing the atmosphere of an inhabited world, causing chaotic and dangerous weather particles.
  • As if from nowhere, a ship appears in front of you: travellers from impossibly far away. Do they need help? How did they get here?

At this point in the story, while it’s acceptable for your characters to figure out that these phenomena or these tunnels are, in fact, Underspace, it’s also fine for them to not. This phase depicts the initial chaotic weeks, where Starfleet is scrambling to deal with strange readings, missing ships, and sudden appearances all over the galaxy.

There will be time for more considered study, more intentional exploration, in later phases. Phase 1 is about chaos. Disruption. And, in many cases, survival.

More guidance on how and what to write this phase can be found below on the ‘Campaign Table’ section. For this phase, the Intelligence Office encourages (but does not require) you to tell a story about chaotic disruption that could be resolved in 2 weeks, either about your ship getting lost or dealing with a local Underspace aperture. When Phase 2 starts, the initial chaos will be dying down, and Starfleet – and the wider galaxy – will be considering how to deliberately use Underspace for travel.

LABYRINTH: PHASE 2

Starfleet – the galaxy – is now sure: Underspace is expanding. Apertures have opened across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, with ships passing through to emerge in not only the furthest reaches of these regions or the Delta Quadrant, but even the Gamma Quadrant. This change stretches across the whole galaxy. The Turei, the caretakers of the ancient network in the Delta Quadrant, have no idea what is happening or why. But there is the very real possibility that travel in the galaxy, and thus the very nature of the galaxy itself, has just changed forever.

The Underspace apertures that opened so chaotically are still open, but the subspace disturbance they caused has abated. For the most part, gravimetric distortions and tetryon emissions have subsided; local phenomena are no longer disrupted by their proximity, and any planets affected by a nearby aperture have seen their environments settle. That does not mean the after-effects have faded. There are still worlds that saw enormous chaos and still need help, still fallout from those disruptions. There are still travellers who crossed the galaxy, tumbling unwittingly into Underspace and now in or near Federation space and in need of help.

There is also still a lot Starfleet does not know about Underspace, even beyond why this has happened. Did Underspace always reach this far, with apertures and access points beyond the Delta Quadrant only opening now? Or has it expanded? How far does it reach? Where can it lead? As the chaos dies down, Starfleet dispatches ships to study Underspace itself, the apertures, the tunnels, and try to understand this phenomenon better. This is perhaps the greatest scientific marvel of all time.

Starfleet is also, at its core, about exploration. This is the greatest opportunity for exploration in history. As Underspace is charted and understood more, ships are dispatched to pass through its tunnels and emerge the other side. For some, the destination is known, or at least broadly known, with missions to chart distant areas, make formal contact with those on the other side who could now be considered neighbours, or pursue valuable resources.

But the Federation are not the only people to respond. These apertures have opened across the galaxy, and anyone near one may be trying to use it. For some, it may be a strategic threat, a new border in need of fortifying, where anyone coming through must be challenged, turned away – or destroyed. For others, it is an opportunity – for exploration, resource gathering, trade, diplomacy, raiding, or conquest.

Most powers do not have a formal, established response, ship captains and local powers reeling and using their own judgement. So far, the Federation has been able to identify the following reactions from known governments:

– The Romulan Republic has taken a cautious approach, fortifying apertures and cooperating with the Federation in their study.
– The Romulan Free State, likewise, has focused on closing its borders against these apertures, with limited – but some – scientific investigations.
– The Klingon Empire sees Underspace as an opportunity to support their ambitions of territorial expansion. Lone ships use it to launch raids, while others intensely map Underspace to chart possible routes for military advantage. Any apertures near Klingon space are secured, fortified, and turned into a new strategic front by the Empire.
– The Cardassian Union has taken a proactive response, dispatching many of its new, advanced starships to explore and study Underspace.

But powers from the Gorn to the Kazon may encounter Underspace apertures and travel through – or a tunnel may lead to their space. For the moment, Starfleet goes forward in the spirit of exploration, but also cooperation. The galaxy must learn how to work together in the face of this new network.

Phase 2 Developments

As the phase continues, some further details may be learnt by ships as they investigate. These are plot points anyone is free to incorporate into their mission if they are relevant – and the galaxy is a big place, different ships can learn similar things at the same time without everyone automatically knowing! But they are not things known at the start of the phase.

Cardassians: Ship captains encountering the Cardassians may find them dropping buoys at junctions of Underspace corridors. If any are closely studied, they appear to be closely monitoring the flow and levels of tetryon particles through the network – though the Cardassian Union make it very clear, if they have the chance, that the buoys are Union property and should not be disturbed. Likewise, at scattered apertures across the galaxy, Cardassian ships may be encountered building platforms nearby – on the surfaces of nearby planets or moons, or in deep space. Studying these would be almost impossible without getting so close the Cardassians would ward anyone off, and considered tantamount to boarding a Cardassian ship. If your vessel investigates, they will find these platforms are constantly scanning the apertures, but they are designed to manipulate and emit tetryon particles towards it. To what end? That is unknown. It seems likely, however, that the Cardassian Union intends to seize control of Underspace for themselves, using this technological network to monitor all movement through it, aid their own navigation of Underspace – and perhaps, eventually, blockade it?

Klingons: Not all Klingon captains are loyal to Toral, but the expansion of Underspace has buoyed up his warlike faction. For the moment, Klingon ships are simply being opportunistic, launching raids if Underspace offers them a fine target. Others are, as established, mapping and studying Underspace to try to learn routes to new targets. Any Starfleet ship meeting a Klingon vessel in or beyond Underspace is at tremendous risk – so far from home, will a Klingon loyal to Toral ignore the opportunity to bloody Starfleet’s nose and get away with it? Some captains abroad still consider the Federation allies, but it will be dangerous trying to determine friend from foe.

Underspace: The Turei have already been contacted, and assure Starfleet they have no idea why Underspace has expanded. The study of the network is a long and intensive task for any ship, and much of what is found is simply better understanding to make travel safer and navigation possible. No study shows any indication of why these apertures have recently opened, but some ships may discover that the network always stretched this far, and potentially stretches further. It is beyond the scope of this campaign whether Underspace bypasses the Galactic Barrier, but that is certainly something characters might have fun speculating about. Underspace was always here; the Federation simply couldn’t reach it.

To choose a storyline for Phase 2, feel free to develop any of the points suggested in this update. But there is also a whole new set of Campaign Tables specific to Phase 2 that have been released. This includes the new ‘Phase 2 Developments’ table, which is specifically designed to recognise these changes in the galactic state, and can be added on top of either a new Phase 2 mission, or the mission you’ve been writing all along since the start.

LABYRINTH: PHASE 3

Most of the galaxy is still coming to terms with the expansion of Underspace. Everywhere, powers secure apertures for their own use, while others travel through them seeking fortune, adventure, understanding, or freedom. In many ways, the Federation is among them, securing its own borders and continuing to study Underspace, while trying to reach out to the wider galaxy – including anyone they may find on the other side of an Underspace tunnel – to reach new diplomatic arrangements. The galaxy will change irrevocably; distant powers will become close neighbours, minor governments may be the sole holders of apertures in key locations. The status quo is turning on its head. Some, however, have more specific plans than merely riding the wave of change.

For much of Phase 3, the same questions and missions as Phase 2 remain. But elsewhere, new and significant developments have emerged from the actions of the Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Union.

Klingons: The Klingon Empire has spent this time studying Underspace, mapping routes, and securing apertures. Now, Chancellor Toral has raised his banners; the time to invade and conquer Romulan space is finally here. Routes found through Underspace allow the Empire to send ships not simply across the border, but deep into what was once the Romulan Star Empire. For the moment, Toral has fallen short of threatening the Free State, and has turned most of his attention to the now-independent regions once ruled from Rator. But the Republic, allied to the Federation, is also a target.

The Federation is bound only to protect the Republic, though for the moment it is threatened only by single ships or small clusters on probing missions. The great might of the KDF fleets is turning on the fallen Star Empire, and sweeps in to conquer worlds and expand the Klingon borders. Starfleet are ordered not to intervene; that it goes against the Khitomer Accords to defend these planets from Klingon invasion. But some of these strikes are truly distant, in far-flung reaches of an old and fallen Empire. There, no Klingon will cry about a treaty or report anything to their chancellor; they crave battle and blood. Will anyone stop them?

Cardassians: As this new and terrifying situation develops, one that could bring war to the whole Beta Quadrant, another problem emerges: the ambitions of the Cardassian Union for Underspace.

The encounter of the USS Caliburn with the Damar has revealed their intention is not, and never was, to control Underspace – but to close it. The disruption to galactic geopolitics is too vast and chaotic, and the Union need only point at the Klingons’ acceleration of their conquest to evidence this. Borders will become meaningless, and the galaxy rendered a smaller and thus more dangerous place, so the Cardassians argue. The only sensible choice is to close these apertures and reverse this expansion of Underspace. Worse, it seems they made common cause with the Turei, who express they share the same concerns as the Union – Underspace is how the Vaadwaur were able to build their vast empire, after all – but may also be motivated by losing their position as gatekeepers of this precious network. Both agree that what has changed must be undone.

That is the purpose of the Cardassian technological network. The buoys monitor the flow of tetryon particles, while the platforms near apertures manipulate it. All this time, the Union has been studying and preparing to the point they are now ready to enact their plan: for their platforms to direct a carefully calibrated beam of tetryon particles at its aperture. This is intended to not only collapse the specific aperture, but, if enough are simultaneously collapsed, trigger a cascading effect to close at least all of the new apertures, if not end all access to Underspace.

Starfleet has determined this cannot be allowed to pass. While no war has been declared against the Union, and no ship is formally permitted to violate the peace treaty, this network is built in the depths of Underspace and beyond far-flung apertures. Wherever possible, the Cardassians’ efforts to destroy Underspace must be stopped.

A whole new galaxy lies just beyond the Federation’s reach. A new galaxy of new lines of communication, outreach, connection. It cannot be lost.

To choose a storyline for Phase 3, feel free to incorporate any of the developments above into your ongoing narrative, or start a new story about them. It might make sense for a ship to be dispatched to protect the Romulan Republic from the Klingons, or especially to stop the Cardassian Union from trying to close Underspace.

While the Campaign Table does not introduce a whole new set of story prompts for Phase 3, there is a new ‘Phase 3 Developments’ Table. This could provide a prompt for an original story, or can offer plot threads that can be incorporated into ongoing missions, reflecting these new developments, threats, and challenges.

LABYRINTH: RESOLUTION

We lose.

The Cardassian Union will ultimately be successful in sealing off – or collapsing, it won’t be clear – Underspace, or at least the new access to Underspace. Starfleet missions to disrupt their technological network will either fail or not be enough, and as the campaign closes, the Union will enact its plan. Apertures will collapse, first from the tetryon platforms, then from the cascading effect.

If you’re on the far end of an Underspace tunnel, it’s time to run. Ships will all have the opportunity – and time; this campaign doesn’t end with the Fourth Fleet all scattered hundreds of thousands of light-years apart – to detect what is happening, and scramble for the nearest aperture. As the Underspace tunnels reach turbulence never before experienced, ships will have to navigate all of its danger and threat – and anyone else also trying to rush home! – and get back to somewhere they know before the apertures all close, and they are trapped forever. Or destroyed.

This will be detected across the galaxy, easily spotted by anyone near an aperture. Everywhere, travellers will flee back to the apertures and rush to return, not wanting to be stranded. Even the Klingon Empire will detect this – and abandon, at least for now, their invasion. It is one thing to strike cleverly on the far side of an enemy’s lines through an Underspace tunnel they have charted. It is another thing entirely to have their fleet strung out and scattered across the Beta Quadrant, unable to rally together and without support.

By the time the dust settles, this whole new galaxy has escaped the Federation’s reach. There is no new way for everyone to connect with one another, learn from and reach out to one another.

But there is, perhaps, no fresh war threatening to consume the Beta Quadrant. No chaos unending as the Cardassians warned. And there is a Cardassian Union convinced they have saved the galaxy, and delighted they have bested the Federation in this contest.

 

CAMPAIGN TABLE

Unlike the 2023 Fleet Actions, Labyrinth does not include the mission briefing system. The stories of what could happen to a ship falling through Underspace – or what might fall out of Underspace – are too numerous. This is not a tightly-scripted story about a single military campaign, or the close, paranoid investigation of a dangerous foe. While there is a mystery – why has Underspace opened like this? – the emphasis is far more on the vast spectre of opportunity for discovery it brings.

To reflect the chaos and diversity of the story, Labyrinth thus introduces the Campaign Table system. Members are free to draft their own mission prompts, as they always have, but everyone is invited to use this new system. We have developed a selection of tables, sometimes branching, offering different story prompts, developments, and details. Members are invited to roll on those tables – or, if you prefer, simply choose an option! – to sketch out a framework and starting point for your story.

How you use these tables is up to you. At the most basic level, the tables introduce a few generic story prompts pertinent to each phase. But from there, members may make their own decisions about the details – or randomly roll on additional tables to flesh out the details.

For example, in Phase 1, a member may roll on the ‘Inciting Incident’ table and get the result that their ship will fall into Underspace and be catapulted out somewhere else in the galaxy. They could make their own decision about where they are or where they end up, or they could move on to the ‘Catapulted by Underspace’ table, which not only gives them another set of options to roll on – or choose from! – about the nature of the story (rather than the specific details) they might tell, but also direct them to further tables to flesh out the detail.

Tables like ‘Antagonists,’ for when your story needs someone who’s going to show up and cause trouble – but with Underspace chaotically transporting people across the galaxy, surely that could be anyone! Roll on the table, and find if you’re trying to repair your damaged ship, lost somewhere deep in the Delta Quadrant, only for some angry Gorn to show up and make matters more complicated. You can, as always, reroll or choose an option if one appeals to you or you don’t like your initial result.

Sometimes, the Prompt tables encourage you to roll on one of these Generic tables (the result ‘Your ship makes first contact with a completely unknown species’ directs you to a First Contact table to help generate a whole new people). But you can use these tables as much or as little as you want, from rolling the ‘Underspace Effects’ table if you want to add a complication to your story about your ship trying to navigate the network home, or even the ‘Random Complications’ table, which adds a story-neutral development to throw a spanner in the works.

With each phase, a new table or set of tables will be released. If you finish writing your story of surviving being lost in Underspace by the end of Phase 1, at the start of Phase 2 you can pick up a whole new prompt – perhaps about returning home, or what about where you end up if you emerge from the network somewhere else? Sometimes, tables may look similar across phases – if a ship is travelling through Underspace on a mission of exploration, there are only so many ways the galactic situation will affect that. Others are brand new.

Importantly, each phase also introduces a simple ‘Phase 2 (or 3) Developments’ table. This means you don’t have to finish your story at the end of each phase and start up a new one. This table could be integrated with a new, phase-specific storyline – or you can simply roll on it and integrate this complication into your current mission, demonstrating how the galaxy is adjusting and reacting to Underspace as time goes on.

You do not need to inform the Intelligence Officer – or anyone – of your results from rolling on the Campaign Table. It also doesn’t matter if two people get the same result – the additional tables and your own imagination will keep these stories unique.

Don’t feel too constrained by the Campaign Table. It’s there to help add some chaos, but it’s up to you to decide how much chaos. If you get a result you don’t like, don’t use it! Write a story you want to write, and use a table to add something a little new or different if you need it. The Campaign Table is, however, how the Intelligence Office envisions Labyrinth being written: with agile storylines ready to adapt to something new at any moment, reflecting the sheer scope of possibility unleashed by the expansion of something as vast and unknowable as Underspace.

You can find the Campaign Tables, with a more detailed explanation of how to use the tables themselves, here:

Campaign Table Guide
Labyrinth Campaign Table
Labyrinth Additional Tables

Associated Missions

About the Mission

Status
In Progress
Total Stories
364
Start Date
15/06/2024
End Date
28/07/2024

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