Stardate 9584.1.

Klingon Raptor class science vessel 12304.

It's mission: to dwarf planet 61810 on the farthest reaches of the Empire. Locate alternative energy supplies and minerals following the explosion of Praxis on stardate 9521.

Sixteen days in, only four members of the team remain. The others are dead.

Communications have been sabotaged, by an enemy that hides in plain sight. In the warmest place on this planet: inside their hosts.

Rescue will come. Too late for the team. In time to spread, the Infected...

"ngej"is a Klingon term for "infected" - an unusual form of mRNA (messenger Ribose Nucleic Acid) that rewrites the DNA of other lifeforms to create a version of itself adapted to the local environment. The 'territorial holdings' of the ngej occupy the rim of the Beta Quadrant on the Beta/Delta border. What little we know is reproduced here.

The Raptor class scout vessel design had been in the service of the Imperial Klingon Navy for over a century. A dozen crew with a captain, science crew, engineers and marines for protection. Whereas the similar-sized Bird of Prey had a more military role, the Raptor was a science vessel. The captain of the ship - usually ranked commander - would be a younger Klingon and the aspect of exploring virgin territory outweighed the 'shame' of being a science vessel, rather than a warship ready to fight an enemy. What the crew of vessel 12304 coun't know, is that they were going to have the fight of their lives. Not against hordes of warriors, killer robots or a fleet of drones. This was a fight for survival against biology.And they were going to lose. Each of the dozen-strong crew of 12304 had worked together for several missions prior to this one. The explosion of Praxis had motivated Chancellor Gorkon to activate the reserve scout fleet to seek out replacement sources of energy and minerals for the wrecked primary energy production moon. Raptor class and Birds of Prey were sent to the deepest frontiers and backwaters of the Empire, seeking under every rock, mountain, mine and asteroid for clues as to how to restore the Empire to power. Each of the crew had complimentary skills: engineering, geology, biology, chemistry, medicine, astrophysics, planetary sciences, demolitions, mining. These would work together so that a crew of 12 was still enough to do the necessary initial investigations to locate the energy resources the Empire now urgently needed.

The Raptor had twelve crew: a Captain, First Officer in charge of science, Second Officer and deputy chief scientist K'mtuch, Medical Officer, Chief Engineer, four marines and three engineers. The House affiliations of most matched up with their specialisations in science, mining or as warriors. Some were barely out of the military schools of Qo'noS, others were veterans of conflicts or had been reassigned to a scout vessel for indiscretions on more prestigious military assignments. Their personalities varied: the efficient, loud, decisive commanding officer; the First Officer mindful of working towards his own commandand acting as the voice and ears of the crew; the younger Second Officer, able to concentrate more on the science and settling into the leadership chain of the ship; the older Medical Officer, attentive to the wellbeing of the crew and ready for all combat emergencies, experienced in many conflicts and with a drinking problem that doesn't go unnoticed, the principal scientists for matters alien, biological and medical; the Chief Engineer, technical wizard and medically compromised from a career working in the unsafe reactor pits of some of the older warships and vessels of the Klingon Imperial Navy. The marines consisted of a Lieutenant, Sergeant and two bekks. Their mission was to protect the scientific mission and operate the weapons systems of the Raptor. They could also double-up for mining and demolitions. The engineers run the ship and vary from a veteran sergeant to a young bekk who barely knows a hydrospanner from a self-sealing stembolt.

Raptor 12304 was assigned to the far driftward reaches of the Klingon Empire, where the frontier fades rapidly away to unexplored space. Out here, there are prospectors, gulags, the discommended dishonored warriors, and 'ronan' House-less Klingons. The question of ownership of worlds out here wasn't asked; all worlds would eventually belong to the Empire, once the frontline forces of the Imperial Navy got this far, to reinforce the fact. Raptors and Birds of Prey were the vanguard of the Imperial Navy, exploring and scouting out the resources, enemies and possible new additions to the Klingon Empire. The chain-of-command was a little more fast and loose out here, with no direct oversight or communications with senior officers. There was also no chance of military support for around 36 days or so. Modern Raptors had been updated with cloaking devices and had disruptors, photon torpedoes and ablative armour to defend themselves with. Like all Klingon warships, there were multiple redundancies and the ship was robust. They were as well-equipped as they could be to explore, face danger and have the highest chance of returning back to the Empire alive. Oversight of the operation was via a Warrior's Anger class command ship. This ship would monitor dozens of vessels including this Raptor class scout. If the data feed stopped, or a distress signal was received, a warship would be sent to investigate, or as reinforcements. Emperor class cruisers were the deep space warship of choice, with their four warp nacelles crudely imitating the eloquent warp technology of the Starfleet Radiant and Constellation class starships. These cruisers would be able to tackle most enemy warships one-on-one, the final arbiters on enemies of the Empire. Usually.

Science log 41. Science officer K'mtuch reporting. Science vessel 12304. Dwarf planet 61810.

I will hide this tricorder when I'm finished. If none of us make it back to the Empire, at least there will be some kind of record.

Whilst looking for new energy supplies, we stumbled on an enemy that the Empire may not be able to defeat.

First, it was the protection team that were infected. It makes sense; they were on the perimeter of our operations, ensuring the safety of the team. Out of line-of-sight.

Perhaps they cut themselves on a sharp rock. Maybe an insect bit them. Or a worm crawled into their gagh.

The guards started to be erratic with their patrols, until they ceased them.

One by one, the science team started to disappear. Behaviours would change. Memories would be forgotten or friendships, too.

We found the earliest victims were mutated in later stages; their bodies and minds twisted to better serve their infection.

Adaptations would help infect new victims.

As the first stages of the infection are internal and invisible, it's impossible to know who is infected and who is not.

Whilst we may be only scientists, we are still Klingon.

We will fight to the last person. And die honorably.

Nobody trusts anybody now, and we are all very tired. Nothing else we can do except set the ship for self-destruct, to prevent the escape of this infection. Then just wait...

Lieutenant K'mtuch, Second Officer of Science Vessel 12304. End Log.


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    The ngej are thought to be originally from either deep in the far Beta Quadrant or nearside Delta Quadrant. Intelligence indicates from the direction of their encroachment into the Beta Quadant that their direction of invasion is from the Delta Quadrant near the Delta/Beta border. Attempts at probing into ngej space have been met with ferocious attacks on Klingon planets and colonies - the fighting strength of the ngej. The ngej race achieved dominance in the universe through their biological superiority in the area of toxicity. All aspects of a ngej's biology is toxic: blood, sweat, tears - all are poisonous across the spectrum. The complexity of the poisons that a ngej comprises of gives thought to a creature that has been biologically engineered as well as naturally genetically pre-disposed to be as poisonous as possible.

    The ngej appear to have the ability to alter their genetic and phenotype configurations; they are able to add poisonous spines that can be fired, they can also emit a fine poisonous mist up to a range of fifteen metres or so. ngej are already known to be able to squirt venom accurately over a distance of up to ten metres, envenomate with poisonous fangs, release poison over their skin as a waterproof wax to prevent themselves drying out and camoflage their skin with background colours. Their biological variations makes them hard to differentiate from uninfected members of the species using tricorders, and the cocktail of poisons makes combating a venomous attack difficult at best.

    As the ngej themselves biologically appear to be all the weapon that they need, they do not appear to wear any sensors or weaponry systems. The range of vision a ngej depends on the host and can vary. The mRNA mutates the organism whose DNA is exposed to it, this creates a natural variety of ngej biology. With an Empireof different species like the Klingon Empire, this results in many new mutated ngej examples with variations of spines and venom delivery systems. Equally the means of delivering the mRNA to the victim DNA varies, to allow the greatest chance for the biological coding to be passed on to the next victim generation.

    Lastly, there is no common ngej culture. This is due to a total lack of written or spoken language. According to the Klingons, there is no warning of an attack from the ngej and no attempt at dialogue is responded to. Starfleet Intelligence also notes that Klingons are not renowned for their 'dialogue'. Currently the ngej Contamination resides on the far side of the Klingon Empire, but with starships now exploring through the Nirophian Corridor an encounter with the ngej is to be anticipated.

    Author Notes on the ngej for ST:TIY:

    Little is known about this biological phenomenon that has somehow forged its own territory. My original plan was for this to be a poisonous amphibious species. I then had an idea for a different approach on the early hours of 30 January 2024; I thought of a lifeform that, for conservation of energy and adaptive purposes would rewite the DNA of it's victims to become evolved versions of the lifeform, in the mutated body of the host (whose individality would be erased and overwritten). This was a biological Borg crossed with The Thing or The Fly; it would retain the venomous protection, however it would be a very simple biological entity: messenger RNA or mRNA. This becomes a transmissable method of rewriting, for example, a Klingon into a porcupine-like extra armoured Klingon with pods that fire mRNA-tipped darts to procreate still further.

    This is a simple form of life, yet it can conquer the strong, the intelligent and the brave with equal efficiency, rewriting them into the next generation of ngej. What Starfleet Intelligence may have originally thought was the ngej was based on an earlier form of life that had stumbled on the mRNA and been mutated, with their will rewritten to be ngej. Unlike the Borg, there is no Queen, no government, no common homeworld or culture; just the building blocks of life that rewrites the code for other life to become its own. There's nothing to negotiate with and no enemy to kill - just biology looking to reproduce in a way that is indiscriminate and efficient.

    I wanted to have very different challenges for the Klingon Empire on each border. The Federation is the threat of a better ideal, of democracy and diplomacy which could undermine the Klingons. For the Romulan Star Empire it's a species that challenges the Klingons at their own game: conquest and dominance. The Gorn are like the Xenomorphs in the Alien movie franchise. The Kinshaya are religious extremists. The ngej are something very different: a biological threat to the Klingons that are more akin to an infectious pandemic than a species with a culture and nation.

    With a normal threat to the Klingons, there's a fleet, nation and government. Klingons will hear the rush of blood and the cry to battle from their ancestors. With the ngej there's no honour, no battles, no victory; only survival. As with a main inspiration, The Thing (1982), this starts with a science team making adiscovery. I chose an old Raptor class as the ship as something different. As with sci-fi horror, this runs by the 'rules' of bumping off the peripheral, out-of-sight characters first. Infecting the guards, changing their behaviour to monitor the Klingon scientists and assimilating their knowledge before evolving to better contaminate the rest. The scientists will eventually see a mutated guard and piece together something has infected them - hence the Klingon term for 'Infected'. Sadly, with only a dozen crew, the science vessel crew are doomed before they can devise a counter. And the rescue vessel - likely a cruiser - will simply become a vector of transmission.

    As with Praxis, this exposes the Achilles Heel of the Klingons as being their lesser developed scientific knowledge. The Federation would send an Oberth class science vessel with a specialist crew. Or the Enterprise. The Klingons are militaristic. However, blowing up the planet or shooting an infected collegue may not be enough to resolve the problem.

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