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Murder on the Oridian Express

When a crime is discovered aboard the pleasure cruiser SS Christie, the crew of Pioneer must race to find the culprit on a ship where everyone is a suspect.

One Too Many Glasses (Prologue)

SS Christie, In orbit of Agrima III
Late 2401

Alliana clutched her champagne flute tightly between her slender fingers, acutely aware the delicate crystal neck could snap at any moment and make her embarrassing situation all the worse. Taking a deep breath and flashing her most convincing smile to a passing Andorian server, who responded with only a curt head nod, she began slowly crossing the seemingly vast lounge to the restroom hidden beside the main doors. Unruly deck plates swayed unhelpfully back and forth beneath her feet, challenging her balance atop two glittering golden stiletto heels that seemed intent on wrapping themselves around the hem of her sequined fishtail dress. 

“Only a few meters, just get to the door. Just get out of the room at least.”

Descending from the small raised platform that ran alongside the ring of windows her right foot refused to raise sufficiently and her delicate heel caught on the luxuriously thick Bolian wool carpet, causing her to stumble onto the lower deck. She barely caught herself before her balance was lost completely, her arms splayed like a diving bird, cracked like short wings at the elbows, clutch purse in one hand, empty crystal in the other. 

“Do. Not. Fall. Over.” Her stomach lurched, causing the Saurian brandy within to rock in frothy waves that threatened to destroy the mask of glamorous effortlessness she fought to convey. 

“Don’t be sick.” she thought to herself, feeling the liquid squirm in her belly. “Do not be sick in front of these people.” 

Her eye scanned the room for evidence anyone had noticed her calf-like stumble. Nothing, they were all too busy gathered around the tall deck to ceiling windows, chattering in hushed tones about views of the blue gas giant below, the epic backdrop to the evenings aperitifs. Satisfied no-one was watching she continued to shuffle across the floor, thankful the mauve shag carpet had given way to smooth shimmering deck plates that clacked quietly beneath her feet. She didn’t expect anyone to have noticed, they like Alliana had all spent a great deal of time and effort to be aboard Christie, they weren’t going to waste it by focusing on the stumbling woman in the corner. She had entered the lottery a dozen times before Frontier Day when it was shut down temporarily in the interests of security, when she heard news it was open again her applications also resumed. To journey on the Oridian Express was an exclusive experience, taking a hundred lucky lottery winning passengers on a three month tour around the Federation’s most interesting sites of the time. This quarters tour included a mysterious core-ward planetary system that popular rumour suggested was Coppelius, home to the Federation’s newest synthetic protectorate. The mysterious destination was days away on the itinerary but the mill aboard was working overtime, passengers, servers and deck crew alike all whispered from the corner of their mouths that the synth planet was their destination. Right now she would settle for the bathroom. 

It felt like an hour passed between each step, all her attention focused making the next move. When days later she made it to the small non-descript doors, their tall grey panels barely discernible against the dark wood panelling, she allowed herself a small breath of relief. She reached down to the small panel nestled in the wood pressing the non-descript button causing the doors to slide aside with a barely audible beep and quickly stumbled inside, hurrying to press the mirror button drawing the doors closed. Its agreement fulfilled, her stomach now threatened again. With a hand over her mouth she begged for a few moments more. Her stomach groaned, unwilling to negotiate. Her attention quickly raced to find a basin, but the barely illuminated room was devoid of plumbing. At the far end of the room a ladder built into the wall carried on above and below the room, its rungs disappearing into the innards of the vessel, the walls were otherwise bare save for a flickering console recessed into the bulkhead, its surface a spiderweb of cracks radiating from the centre. 

“Bugger, wrong room.” She sighed through her fingers, slow to remove them from her mouth lest her stomach take the initiative. It grumbled threateningly but maintained it’s reluctant order. 

“Computer, nearest restroom.” She hissed through her teeth, embarrassed to ask for help. 

“The nearest rest room is 10 metres down the corridor.” a disembodied voice answered, the voice calm and unbothered by the woman’s embarrassment. 

“We can do 10 metres.” She promised herself. Brushing her dress down, she began turning on her heel back towards the door when her shoe slid beneath her, the floor suddenly slick with liquid. 

“I swear Alliana, if you’ve split booze down your dress…” she eyed up the glass in her hand, the faint light from the broken console cutting through the slender shape of the champagne flute, projecting dagger like shadows across the bulkhead. She didn’t think there had been anything in her glass, that was the cause of the problem at hand. Popping her purse open she retrieved a crumpled handkerchief. 

“Lets see the damage then. Computer, lights to 50 percent.” The disembodied woman did not answer but obeyed, immediately pouring light into the room from recessed roof panels causing Alliana to blink in discomfort as her eyes struggled to adjust. Patting down her dress she was satisfied to find it undamaged by brandy and she pulled up the hem of her dress, expecting a pool of barely orange liquid to be pooling at her feet. Instead she found a puddle of viscous green liquid lapping up a against the slim shores of her shoe its thick, waves slowly radiating out as a result of her earlier movement. Her brow furrowed in confusion as she followed the small lake of liquid back downstream, following its snaking path towards the shadowed corner of the room, up the leg of the body hastily stuffed into the cabinet and to the temples of an olive skinned man. His peaked ears caked in dried green liquid, his long pale duster jacket turning a grimy emerald, his face locked in a panicked expression. 

Her stomach suddenly the least of her worries Alianna pressed the door button once more and raced from the room, her shouts of help echoing through the corridors, her golden stilettoes tracking bloody footprints behind her. 

Surprises in the Helix (pt.1)

SS Christie, In orbit of Agrima III

XO’s Log: Pioneer has been diverted once again. Following our recent under cover operation to Valkoran Base we have spent several days at DS19 transferring prisoners and supplies. We had only just left the station when we received a distress call from the passenger liner SS Christie in orbit of Agrima III. It seems there has been a violent crime aboard that has resulted in the death of a passenger. As the nearest Starfleet vessel, we have been instructed to respond and establish what has occurred. A larger vessel with a full investigation team are en-route but are still several days away. I guess the Talvath Cluster will have to wait a little longer… again. 

Part 1 – A Chilly Welcome. 

Our crack team of investigators arrive aboard the converted Miranda Class vessel, SS Christie, a passenger cruise liner that has recently returned to service following an extended period of closure. They are greeted by Head Steward Amarilla, a chilly and formal Betazoid who explains the situation to the team; a few nights ago a young woman accidently stumbled into a Jefferies junction room looking for the bathroom, there she discovered the dead body of a Vulcan passenger. Since that time the vessel has also lost the ability to go to warp and whilst they do not know if the two things are connected their chief engineer cannot find any reason why the ship would be stalled now. A fellow Betazoid, Doctor Kaz notices from her surface thoughts that the woman is very panicked and is working over time to keep her professional demeanour. Taking the lead for the moment he requests to see the body and the team are lead to sickbay. Whilst they travel the corridors they notice several groups of passengers trading gossip surrounding the incident and Starfleet’s arrival, our diplomat James Shaw notices that not many people seem bothered about the dead passenger. 

Part 2 – Questionable Medical Licences

On arrival at Sick bay Amarilla holds the team at the door and requests the team treat the ships doctor, an elder Tellerite by the name of Knowles, with respect as a seasoned practitioner. Though they do not quite understand her meaning they agree to tread carefully. Upon entering the sickbay they find a bumbling man attending a hungover Andorian alongside several synth nursing assistants, (they note their presence to be odd following recent events with Copellius) and begin questioning the Doctor about the corpse. From their questioning they establish the following:

  • The Vulcan died from a major blunt force trauma to the cranium. 
  • It appears he dies approximately 4 hours prior to being found. 
  • Initial scans show no abnormalities or surprises with the body. 
  • The passenger’s identity have been erased from the ships logs, there is no record of him being aboard despite having interacted with multiple crew members and services over the course of three weeks. 

Shaw and Kaz both decide to undertake their own scans, focusing particularly on the incomplete medical scan data that identified some unusual genetic markers. Following some further questioning from Kaz, with their specific field of knowledge they identify Doctor Knowles to be less than dependable, identifying several mistakes in his initial investigation. The team suspects he is suffering from his age and decide not to point out his mistake. Yupaz attempts to model the weapon but is only able to identify it was round and struck with massive force. The team decides to split up to investigate further:

  • Yupaz and Shaw will head to the Vulcan’s quarters and look for leads. 
  • Lane will head to the engine room to assist the chief engineer with investigations into the disabled warp engines. 
  • Kaz will head to the lounge where the 4 passengers present at the time of discovery have been assembled. 

Part 3a – Yupaz & Shaw

Whilst journeying to the cabins, Shaw investigates the medical scans further and identifies an unusual but familiar genome sequence hidden amongst the victims DNA. It causes a security lockout and he requests special dispensation from Pioneer’s XO to have the record unsealed, revealing an unexpected genetic marker. (GM Note: this is not revealed to the rest of the party). 

On arrival to the Vulcan’s quarters they notice a number of synths operating in the corridors, acting as both sentries and stewards, one attempts to physically block the pair’s entrance as they are not guests but Amarilla grants the team access rights. The duo use their scans of the victim to identify where he was most active in the quarters (GM: Yupaz discovered the abnormal genetic markers at this time, it is still a secret from the other members of the party), this leads them to notice a particularly well used ceremonial Japanese tea set that appears to be an antique. After some investigation they discover the set is an excellent forgery and notice the box features a number of non-Terran symbols consistent with traditional Romulan pictographs. 

Part 3b – Lane

Lane makes his way to the engine room where Deck Chief Nickul is working with a team of a half dozen synths to investigate the ships faulty warp systems. The jaded Bolian chief seems reluctant to accept Lane’s fresh faced help but agrees he can run his own diagnostics, she explains that there is no obvious fault but every time they attempt to engage the warp field the computer engages safety overrides without explanation. 

After a series of investigate diagnostics Lane discovers the ship’s computer is detecting an surge in power through the plasma conduits and institutes a shutdown to prevent an overload. This feature is hard wired into the safety features of the vessel and would take extensive work to bypass, Lane also discovers that there is no actual power surge but the system appears to be being duped from a relay that then erases it’s activities, suspiciously this relay is located in the Jefferies junction where the victim was found. He takes Chief Nickul and goes to investigate. (GM Note: Lane also discovers the secret genetic markers of the victim during his research. At this point only Kaz is unaware)

Part 3c – Doctor Kaz

Doctor Kaz is shown to the Midnight Lounge in the forward section where the four witnesses/suspects have been assembled, though a series of interviews he establishes the following information:

Captain Fabian Hiskel (Retired)

  • First he interviews Hiskel who introduces himself immediately on Kaz’s arrival. He is full of bluster and sprinkles his answers with repeated references to heroic adventures alongside Starfleet greats. 
  • Kaz sees through Hiskel’s fabrications and after consulting the Starfleet records confirms he was actually a captain of little note spending much of his career in the Starfleet interior on milk runs. 
  • Hiskel is a long-term passenger aboard Christie and saw the victim come aboard approximately three weeks ago. He has been quiet and solitary, interacting with the others rarely despite Hiskel’s multiple attempts.

Feystin Krill

  • Feystin is dour Bajoran who holds a lot of anger towards Starfleet following the death of his wife aboard Probert Station on Frontier Day. 
  • He had originally planned to come on this cruise with his wife, when prompted he did not give an explanation why he still came aboard following her death. 
  • Kaz noticed that the man was hiding something and after some probing ascertains that Feystin remembered seeing the Vulcan before coming aboard the ship, in some less than reputable locations on Freecloud. He can’t be 100% sure but is confident he had seen the man before. 

Djon, son of Naykar

  • Extremely reluctant to answer Kaz’s questions Djon admits he did not like the victim, believing him to be a liar and that he had come aboard under false pretences. He insinuates the victim may be a Romulan, though this appears on the surface to be simple racism.
  • He admits that he had a run in with the Vulcan several nights ago as they passed through a slalom course in an asteroid belt. The Victim had attempted to steal his personal belongings including his ID and his dagger. 
  • He noted that the Vulcan was unexpectedly aggressive and emotional. 

Alianna Kane

  • Alianna is the young woman who discovered the victim’s body. She is calm on the surface but clearly struggling with what she has seen. 
  • She is a journalist from the Federation News Service travelling aboard the ship, though Kaz does not discover what her current investigation is regarding. 
  • She also feeds Kaz several pieces of information including proof that Hiskel is not the man he says he is and that Djon’s history has several holes. She suspected the victim was not what he appeared but doesn’t have any information to share. 

As Kaz removes himself from the lounge under the guise of needing to contact the ship, he meets Lane and Chief Nickul in the corridor and joins them en-route to investigate the crime scene. 

Theories abound throughout the ship and amongst the team as to the nature of the victim and the cause of his death. Was it Changelings? Synths? The Tal Shiar? Perhaps it relates to the secret genetic markers that remain a mystery only to Doctor Kaz? We will see next session.