Captain Vorn Krace
The USS Iapetus (NCC-83721) is a Luna-class starship commissioned in 2384 under the command of Captain Vorn Krace. She is the first starship to bear the name, and was the first starship of her class to enter service in Starfleet's 8th Fleet. She later transferred to the 4th Fleet, to take part in its operations in the Delta Quadrant, utilising the ship's specified design as an exploration cruiser.
The Luna-class was designed by Dr. Xin Ra-Havreii, an Efrosian Engineer of Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards on Mars, conceived under the initial design brief of a vessel to conduct the scientific exploration of the Gamma Quadrant, following the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole by Deep Space Nine. The project was sidelined however, by the impending threat posed from the Dominion. As part of the Federation's push to rejuvenate their previous scientific and exploratory efforts after the war which followed, the project was restarted in the late 2370s.
The Luna-class starships were designed to be the top of the line in Starfleet's scientific and exploratory technologies, designed specifically for such pursuits on behalf of the United Federation of Planets. Crewed by roughly 350 and about 450 metres long, the design brought back several design concepts reminiscent of previous starship designs, such as their shuttlebays having the same exterior design of the old Constitution-class starships, having a more rounded opening door and a longer "runway" for shuttles as they entered and exited the ship. The sensor pod suspended above the primary hull was also reminiscent of the torpedo pods of the Akira- and Miranda-classes of starships. All known Luna-class starships have thus far been named after moons, following on from the class name itself. The first production lot was named after moons in the Sol system, as was the majority of the second batch, of which the Iapetus is a member. The first batch of Luna-class starships began entering service roughly around 2380.
The USS Iapetus was originally due to enter service in 2382, but after a large number of major miscalculations and faulty computer components, her launch was delayed by two more years, while components were replaced in almost every major system and sub-system on board and numerous tests were ran. Finally ready in 2384, she was taken out on her shakedown cruise by Lieutenant Commander Sokaar of Starfleet's Corps of Engineers and a small skeleton crew, before being transferred under the command of Rear Admiral Jason Locke of the 8th Fleet's Task Force 22, stationed on board Starbase 386-B.
Soon after its arrival at Starbase 386, the Iapetus entered service under newly-promoted Captain Krace, who had been surprised by the posting, as he was at the time posted to command the USS Lincoln; a command he had held for the past year. The decommissioning of the Lincoln - though not an official decommissioning in the full sense, as she was merely entering an extensive period of refits which would take a number of years to complete - came as a surprise to the captain, and appeared to have been made as a rather sudden batch of decisions by the new commander of Starbase 386, who also happened to be the Task Force Commander of Task Force 22 at the time. With his entire crew transferring over to the newly-constructed starship, there was much frantic activity to transport all personnel and equipment from one ship to the other - a logistical nightmare, as many of the personnel involved described it. Finally, the task was completed, and the new starship was ready to set out on her first cruise.
Her first cruise was one without portfolio, essentially allowing her captain to decide a course and heading, without any specific tasks as assigned by Starfleet. It was a rare freedom to be given a commanding officer, but Rear Admiral Locke afforded Captain Krace this, almost as a compensation for having his old command taken from him so suddenly. Eager to test out the starship's advanced sensor suite, Captain Krace set a heading, and ordered that long-range sensors be engaged at full power for continuous sweeps. It wasn't long before they found something, either.
Moving in to explore a dark matter nebula, the ship and crew began suffering attacks from an unseen foe. Suffering hits from what appeared to be photon mines, the crew could find no trace of such devices - cloaked or otherwise. Pressing on, Captain Krace felt that the bombardment signified someone was attempting to keep them away from the nebula, and ordered that the shields and structural integrity fields be reinforced. As they neared the nebula, the crew - especially psi-sensitive members - began to suffer from painful mental attacks, which as they got closer, began to focus more and more on the man in a position of authority on the ship - the Captain. Due to his lack of psi-sensitivity, the attacks were flaring the neurons in previously dormant parts of his brain, causing him severe pain, with fears that it could lead to brain damage if continuous at these levels for too long. As the ship became within range of the nebula, the attacks had now become wholly focussed on the captain, until the point where they stopped inflicting pain, and began to speak through him.
Through the psychic link which had been forcibly developed, Captain Krace learnt of the presence of a race within the nebula, wholly composed of energy. As a by-product of their life cycle, they created the metreon particles much as a humanoid would expel carbon dioxide or methane, and that was the source of the metreon particles responsible for lighting up the dark matter in the nebula. Captain Krace learnt that the hostile disposition of the life-forms was due to the fact that the metreon energy in the nebula was being harvested by an unknown group. Initially distrustful, the life forms relented on their mental bombardment of the captain and crew after he convinced them he would die if they did not. Lieutenant Commander Acle Walex learnt through his contacts in the intelligence community that a criminal organisation named simply "The Guard" had been rumoured to be attempting to recreate a highly dangerous weapon known as a metreon cascade, and suspecting that this organisation was the same as was harvesting the nebula beings - and thus, killing them once they were away from the mass numbers of the rest of their kind - ordered the crew to set off in pursuit.
Through the use of a captured freighter which had been press-ganged into serving as a harvester for the organisation, Lieutenant Commander Walex was able to board the Guard's base of operations covertly with a small team of Starfleet officers, who then proceeded to sabotage the equipment and drop the stations shields, allowing the Iapetus to warp in from the edge of communications range, beam the away team aboard, and fire a precise volley to destroy the station and all research contained within before warping away from the flight of starships owned by the Guarded which had immediately begun to pursue.
Unfortunately, though their flight route was clear sailing once they had lost the tail of slower, obsolete civilian craft, Captain Krace had another pressing matter to deal with. During the course of their ad hoc mission, his executive officer, Commander Peter Brown had sabotaged the ship, and her long-range communications, and had sped off in a captured shuttlecraft. With the reminder of the insistence of the nebula-beings still present in his mind, Vorn had prioritised the actions against the Guarded first, but now he had to turn his mind fully towards his renegade officer, appointing Commander Walex as his interim XO, a position which he later gained permanently.
Commander Brown had travelled to Starbase Ronin, and had proceeded to commandeer the USS Lincoln, Krace's former command, which Brown had also previously served upon. Operating with forged orders for him to take charge of its movement to another facility, and with the Iapetus unable to convey to the Starbase until it was too late Brown's renegade status, Brown was able to commandeer the Ambassador-class starship, exploding his stolen shuttle just within Starbase Ronin's shield perimeter to cover his escape.
Unable to reach Starbase Ronin in time to prevent the actions, the Iapetus nevertheless aided in damage control actions on the station after its arrival, whilst her intelligence and security teams worked on finding clues to where Brown had fled to with the starship, which was able to run in a very limited fashion with just one crew member as part of its preparations for her refit at the shipyards. Eventually able to locate the former commander, Krace was able to learn the reasonings behind the commander's actions, and worked alongside the man to capture the crew of the USS Sierra, a Starfleet Intelligence starship commanded by Brown's father which had gone renegade itself, and abducted Brown's former (and future) fiancé. Able to complete the task, but only with the destruction of the Sierra and the death of Captain John Brown aboard her, Krace set course back for Starbase Ronin, USS Lincoln in tow with a skeleton crew from the Iapetus, the Sierra crew in custody and commander Brown in the brig, pending a court-martial.
The court-martial was carried out at Starbase Ronin, at which Brown was reprimanded, reduced in rank and prohibited from serving on a starship in any sort of command capacity again. Due to his role in unveiling and halting a group of rogue intelligence agents however, he was let off lightly, in Vorn's opinion. Under Admiralty orders he was permitted to serve onboard the Iapetus for a short time longer in a strategic operations role, before resigning his commission, only to return a year later as a Lieutenant, serving the Iapetus once again, this time as chief of operations.
Over a year after her initial launch, the Iapetus was given her first official ordered mission. She was to travel to the planet Bevrud, a neutral planet in a strategic location between the Federation and the Elyshan Empire, in order to attend negotiations with the aim of bringing the system and its periphery holdings into the United Federation of Planets, for fear that the sometimes-hostile Elyshans would seize the planet first, and gain an important staging point in a much-feared war. Unfortunately, though the invitation was sincere on the part of the First Minister of Bevrud, it was not so sincere on behalf of his advisers and ambassadors, who had plotted with a rogue faction of the Elyshans to call to the planet and trap representatives from both the Federation and the Empire, and stage a coup in order to seize the territory as their own, executing the First Minister in the process. Whilst the Captain and members of the crew held captive on the surface, with the assistance of Lieutenant Commander Sara Archer, who had been stationed there as an undercover agent, attempted to break the faction's hold on the planet, the Iapetus came under fire from the faction ship, which was much more powerful than the Luna-class. Outgunned, Commander Walex was forced to resort to hit-and-run tactics, until the ship was destroyed by the newly-liberated ground-to-orbit canons on the planet's surface. Order restored to Bevrud, which was now firmly agreed to enter partnership with the Federation, the Iapetus set course for home.
Docking at Deep Space 7 for repairs, Captain Krace received new orders that the services of he, his ship and his crew were required in Task Force 38, to form part of the Delta Exploration Initiative. Excited to dig his teeth into an assignment of true exploration, Krace set about making preparations for the journey. They would have to travel for three months, with only short stops for rest, in order to make it to the Union Gateway, and their passage to the Delta Quadrant. He planned a short stop at Earth along their way, to allow the predominantly human crew some time to see their families, as they would have scarce opportunity for contact with home once in the Delta Quadrant.
Delta Exploration Initiative
Unfortunately, the Iapetus did not receive the blissfully quiet journey they had hoped for. Responding to a plea for help from the USS Marconi near Regulus, the crew bore witness to the destruction of the vessel from an internal explosion, which briefly highlighted the presence of a design of starship not currently in the ship's databanks, but which appeared to be Romulan in design. With the Romulan cloak damaged - a fault which appeared not to be known to the ship's commander - the Iapetus set off in pursuit of the escaping vessel. Whilst the crew was able to track down the vessel and retrieve the data core with the help of their prisoner, Sub Commander Nevarn, the Romulan then proceeded to destroy his own ship in order to make his escape in a warp-capable shuttle, whilst the Iapetus was preoccupied trying to save the lives of its crew and the crew of the Ra'kholh.
Upon arriving in the Delta Quadrant, Captain Krace was given his first set of orders from Rear Admiral Ricky Wegener, commander of Starbase 900 and Task Force 38. As Starfleet had continued its exploration of space in the region immediately surrounding the Solaria Nebula, they had been forced to secure new resources in the form of information brokers, particularly individuals who would be willing to sell or trade to Starfleet information such as star charts of the region, and information on the local political and military powers. Though the arrangement had for a while been of benefit to Starfleet, the loss of the USS Swiftsure by a spacial disturbance revealed that one of these star charts provided had been altered to deliberately conceal its presence. Captain Krace and the Iapetus were sent to locate and question the supplier of these particular charts to determine whether the man known only as Varro had been coerced into providing false information, or had become a hostile entity towards the Federation forces in the region.
Recent intelligence placed the man in question in the Drekasta system, a system devoid of any planets but home to a dense asteroid belt rich in exotic metals and a large mining-cum-trading station on the outskirts of said belt, which may be a possible source of information. Upon arrival in-system, the crew quickly determined that an in-system approach by the Iapetus was dangerous and impractical, considering the density of the asteroid belt, and so Lieutenant Commanders Jordan Gunning and Sara Archer were sent via shuttlecraft to investigate, and attempt to locate the man they were after. The two officers were later kidnapped by the same men who held Varro captive, and transported to a dark cell onboard an unknown ship, deeper in the system.
During this time, the Iapetus herself was briefly assaulted by a small pirate vessel, which was easily overcome, and the crew detained in the brig. This proved to be an elaborate ruse, which allowed the 'captives' to access the ship's systems, and critically disable her, essentially taking the large Starfleet ship out of the equation, before destroying Varro's Type-3 Passenger ship (which the Iapetus crew had located and retrieved, thanks to a network of sensor relay probes launched into the asteroid belt), and any data that was held inside.
After discovering that his two away team officers had been captured, Captain Krace ordered all flight-qualified personnel to board the ship's shuttles and progress directly in-system to locate and retrieve the captives. Though they managed to do so, after locating the small pirate ship in tandem with a larger, more heavily armed vessel, the shuttles were seriously damaged in the encounter, and were only saved by the timely arrival of the Iapetus after a hasty repair job on engines and weapons was conducted by Lieutenant Zim Drex and his engineering teams. With all shuttles retrieved into the shuttle bay, and Commanders Gunning and Archer, along with their cell-mate, Varro safely aboard, the captain ordered an immediate retreat past the system's edge to allow them to lick their wounds.
Upon return to Starbase 900, the ship underwent a brief series of repairs to correct the damage dealt whilst in the Drekasta system, before departing on its next mission; its first true exploratory tour of its career, on a six month assignment that would take it out into regions of space heretofore unexplored by Federation starships.
Two months into the cruise, the ship encountered its first sign of new life; a small, one-man warp vessel carrying an occupant close to death. Upon treating him and following investigations of the craft itself, the crew realise that the warp technology is extremely primitive; in Earth's history, comparable warp drives would only have gone as far as Mars and could travel at no greater than warp one. The shuttle's occupant - a member of a race calling themselves the Maltorrans - explained that four such ships were launched in a desperate move to find advanced life as their world was in the grip of a terrible virus that they had thus far been unable to cure. The virus affected its victims by mutating the cells; recently-deceased corpses were reanimated, but with severe brain damage; the minds restricted to the most basic of impulses. The corpses were able to move and attack other beings for food, but nothing more. On living victims, the virus began to affect the brain in much the same way, but the damage did not reach the point where it was irreversible for a number of days.
As the Maltorrans had just about managed to attain warp capability and had begun an official space program to request for assistance, Captain Krace set out to locate the planet that the pod came from and instigate first contact protocols. Contact was made less than twelve hours later when the away team beamed down the a launch facility identified by their Maltorran passenger as the designated contact sight. The crew of the Iapetus worked with the planetary government for the next few days on a cure for the virus, despite growing unrest amongst the civilian population. Though a cure was eventually discovered and distributed through the atmosphere using a spread of modified torpedoes from the ship, the crew had discovered signs that the virus had been artificially created, using technologies beyond the capability of the Maltorrans. Before the crew set off after an operative who managed to escape the planet during the seeding of the cure, the ship received a communique from Starfleet ordering them back to Starbase 900 to facilitate the transfer of Acle Walex to his new command. As the new captain took a number of additional crew members with him to his new ship with Krace's blessing, requiring the ship to take on a number of new personnel to refill its rosters.
- Energistic nebula-beings, 2384
- Maltorrans, 2387