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The Scenario

A worm hole has been discovered close to Earth that links Federation space with the previously un-visited galaxy (M-81) approximately 12 million light-years from Earth. The area  that the worm-hole opens into has been nick-named the Rift by the exploration team. 

The rift is named after a black hole that is slowly tearing the area apart and consuming it. This leads to varying densities of stellar dust, with some clouds many times thicker than standard levels. The area is littered with asteroids and rouge planets, thrown off into space as the rift devours their parent stars.

The area is inhabited with a number of aggressive alien races who together form the Empire of Ra. The Empire is built upon conquered worlds and brutal subjugation. The appearance of Federation ships has made the Empire aware of the wormholes existence, though they currently do not know where the other end exits. It is imperative that the worm hole is protected to prevent the Empire from gaining access to Federation space. Such information would allow them to strike at Federation worlds with the chemical and nuclear weapons that have rendered most of the rift planets uninhabitable.

To this end defensive platforms have been installed near the wormhole and travel back through the wormhole has been forbidden and the knowledge of how to open it deleted from the computers (in case they fall into hostile hands). Although the worm-hole is effectively sealed from the M-81 side communication with the Federation is possible via photon pulses which can be transmit through the worm-hole.

You and your crew have been sent to the rift to explore and to shore up the defenses if necessary. Attempts at a diplomatic solution with the Empire have so far failed, but the Federation is not giving up hope for a peaceful outcome. However at the higher levels of government within the Empire, the Federation is viewed as a significant threat to their way of life. To this end they have demonised the Federation among the general populace. It will be hard to overcome this propaganda.

As a one-way mission your crew have been given the unusual authority to use a derivative of transporter technology to replace fallen crew members with "backups". Your initial ship is small, but can be upgraded once resources have been gathered. Each starship is intended to be self-sufficient. Therefore non-organic and organic matter (for replicators) will need to be mined from the planets and asteroids, deuterium will need to be collected from some of the rich deuterium clouds in the area and repairs and upgrades will need to be carried out without the aid of a space-dock.

The Oberon supply base has been built at the wormhole entrance. It is heavily armed and can re-supply ships with backup-crew, organic matter, non-organic matter and deuterium if required.

Luckily the worm hole is situated near the edge of the Empire’s territory. Forces on the borders are weaker and less heavily armed than the ones towards the center of the Empire. It is believed that the Empire cannot yet amass an armada against the Federation fleet as their capital ships are needed to maintain order within the many factions that make up their territory. This allows the Federation some maneuvering space on the edges of the Empire, but as they move closer to the center resistance will become very much stronger. It is hoped that many of the factions can be persuaded to assist the Federation through diplomatic measures, but no races have yet ceded, and it is uncertain as to how long an alliance could be maintained.

The diplomatic screen shows the current state of diplomacy with each nation. This needs to be checked regularly as one starship captain may well broker a peace treaty which turns your enemy into an ally.

Of course, each attack upon a race makes it harder and harder to reach a peaceful settlement.