Campaign of the Month: January 2012
Star Trek Late Night
- Planet Name: Gagarin IV
- Class: M
- Moons or Rings: 1 moon
- Gravity: 1.0 G
- Climate: Standard, 65% hydrosphere, warm temperature
- Demographics: hundreds of research scientists and workers
- Civilization: Ac ademic administration, Genetics research
- Resources: Genetics knowledge, research, and skilled researchers and scientists
Gagarin IV is a “scumworld” that serves as the location of the Federation’s premier genetics research and genetic engineering facility. Here, the building blocks of life are studied, and evolution – wisely or not – is hurried along.
Gagarin IV is the fourth planet of nine orbiting a blue star, approximately fifteen light years from Andoria. As with most planets orbiting blue stars, the world is very young, and would not likely survive to evolve higher life forms in the future. In many ways, Gagarin IV is a snapshot of the earliest stages of evolution on most worlds – as prokaryotic single celled organisms evolve into early eukaryotic organisms, designed to survive on carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. Were Gagarin IV orbiting a yellow or orange star, within a few million years life in all its glory would likely emerge. As it is, its star will have burnt up sufficient nuclear fuel to change size and luminosity long before that point, and the world’s protolife will have died out.
A damp world of almost two-thirds water, Gagarin IV is nearly identical in many conditions to Earth when Earth first evolved eukaryotic life forms. The world is new, and the weather patterns can be harsh as a result. Rain and storms come suddenly and often, but disappear as quickly as they come.
The climate is also perfect for the eukaryotic life that is Gagarin IV’s only indigenous life form. The “scum” is generally several inches thick along most river valleys, fed by the rainfall and waterways. Spores and buds fill the air as well, giving the sky a greenish cast, and even making the world look green from orbit. The percentages aren’t so great as to be a problem for breathing, unless someone is allergic. Still, Darwin station is careful to filter its air and water.
In many ways, the planet’s geographic features are rough and new, without eons of wind and water erosion to soften and smooth terrain. However, the preponderance of green slime – each cubic meter containing literally billions of single celled organisms – on all surfaces in temperate areas makes the rocks and terrain seem smoother from a distance. (Increase the TN of physical actions on the surface of Gagarin IV by 2 or more to represent the slimy, unstable footing.)
The lack of sophisticated life forms makes Gagarin IV ideal for genetic research – the eukaryotic life means there is a breathable oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, but the lack of bacteria, viruses or organisms with complex DNA keeps the research from becoming contaminated.
The only population on Gagarin IV is at the Darwin Genetic Research Station, founded to be the Federation’s preeminent Life Sciences research facility. Darwin Station started as a humble building on the banks of a gorge. Later, as the Station expanded and research projects grew in scope and complexity, new, multi-level facilities were constructed on the opposite side of the gorge, with a transit bridge connecting them. Later construction expanded the facility to over sixty acres.
Darwin Station is civilian-run and administrated, though Starfleet supports and supplies the station. Several hundred research scientists are in residence at any time, as well as visiting faculty, assistants, graduate students, workers, test subjects and patients at the attached medical facility. There are many concurrent research projects running, with each project being headed up by a scientific administrator. There is also a central administration that oversees all projects, allocates resources, seeks funding and support, and tries to keep an eye on the overall picture. This is especially important given the natural tendency for research scientists to focus on personal projects to the exclusion of all others. Unfortunately, several Head Administrators have also been researchers at the station, which has occasionally led to conflicts of interest.
The Darwin Genetic Research Station was first proposed in the mid 23rd century, garnering considerable debate. The Station’s stated purpose would be to explore the limits of human evolution, both examining the natural processes that led to humanity’s current genetic makeup and predicting the new directions humanity could move into as they spread into the galaxy and filled new ecological niches. The Station would also seek to “move humanity along the path,” actively attempting to engineer the next stage in human evolution. Originally proposed as an Earthbound research facility, Darwin Station became a political hot potato. Though it had been over two centuries, no one had forgotten the Eugenics Wars, where genetically engineered “supermen” inflicted tremendous harm on Earth before being defeated.
Finally, Dr. Rosa Digulio was able to convince the Federation Council to sponsor Darwin Station, on the condition that its research would be conducted in complete isolation. If the researchers accidentally created a new Khan Noonian Singh, the Federation wanted him contained from the beginning. Dr. Digulio gladly agreed, wanting a place with a minimum of potential contamination by outside sources. Andorian representatives on the Council proposed Gagarin IV – a beautiful, simple world with no sophisticated life forms and too warm a climate for Andorian comfort – and Darwin Station had a home.
After being constructed by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, the Darwin Genetic Research Station went online in 2285. Originally a moderately small, self-contained facility, Darwin Station swiftly expanded as the breadth and scope of research expanded. All aspects of human genetics were subjects of exploration, and many programs showed promise right from the beginning.
One of the most promising programs was headed by Dr. Sara Kingsley, who synthesized several of the findings of her collegues into a single project, attempting the creation of the next step in human evolution. Dr. Kingsley’s passion for her project was infectious, and her political skills were considerable. Though some colleagues raised concerns, Dr. Kingsley’s appointment as the Head Researcher and Administrator of Darwin Station in 2249 ensured the work would go on. While literally dozens of other projects continued, Dr. Kingsley’s work became the primary focus of the station.
In 2353, the project’s first children were born. Genetically engineered in all ways for survival, the children grew quickly and perfectly. They possessed telepathic and telekinetic abilities that rivaled naturally psionic Federation races. Most remarkable of all, they possessed an active immune system. Their bodies could sense potential sources of disease even from across the room, generate active antibodies that could leave their host and attack the parasite before it could ever invade the child. This was the crowning achievement of the new children’s genetic template, and it would prove to be their curse.
In 2365, the USS Lantree – a Miranda-class supply ship – made a regular resupply run. One of its crew had a minor flu that triggered the children’s active immune systems. However, the antibodies attacking the disease adapted themselves to attack the host carrying the disease, becoming an entirely new kind of plague. This illness seemed to accelerate the aging process in its victims. The disease spread to all 26 crew members of the Lantree, who died of simulated old age within days.
The USS Enterprise-D, responding to the Lantree’s distress call, backtracked to Darwin Station. There, they found the same plague had broken out among the researchers. Dr. Katherine Pulaski, the chief medical officer of the Enterprise, was able to determine that the newly engineered children were the cause of the illness. Armed with this knowledge and a pathology of the illness, the crew of the Enterprise was able to develop a transporter-based cure.
Following this scare, the children of Kingsley’s project were placed into isolation for their own protection and the protection of the researchers. Work on the project was suspended for several years in lieu of developing a way for the children to once again interact with their parents.
In 2382 researchers from Neverness came to join the research teams. They brought with them immense amounts of knowledge regarding genesplicing and genetic modification. Under the direction of Silas Munsar, a Super Soldier program was developed. These soldiers would be modified to have incredible strength, agility, and intelligence. News of the project was released to the public by a concerned researcher and the USS Neptune was dispatched to investigate. The Neptune’s crew took most of the research and destroyed much of the station. In addition they imprisoned all the researchers involved in the project and they were sent to Denchar Penal Colony. Silas Munsar was convicted of treason and sent to the Colony as well. Other research continues as normal but now under the close watch of Starfleet.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The only populated area on Gagarin IV is Darwin Station. Within the station, the most interesting locations are the isolation labs where the children are housed, and the extensive computer core, where the sum of six hundred years of human genetic research and development is housed.