Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

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What do you do?

Destroy Hell
0
No votes
Try to Liberate Hell
3
43%
Leave the Hell alone
1
14%
Other
3
43%
 
Total votes: 7

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Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Zor » 2019-07-25 03:56pm

In this scenario you are a Starfleet Captain onboard a Starfleet Ship on a long range exploration voyage when you come across the remains of a long extinct species. A few dozen planets have ruins, some flora and fauna with a shared biological heritage and had suffered extinction events about a million years prior. There are several starships floating out in space, hulks that have been stripped of most of their technical systems, but enough remains of these to snoot out several things of note. First of all they had Warp Drive. Second of all they seemed to have wiped themselves out in a civil war. Thirdly all the dead corpses have neural implants installed at the back of the cerebellum. These were not like Borg implants and there is plenty of evidence of individuality, from half finished meals frozen meals floating about in messhalls to various personal artifacts. The purpose of of these implants will become evident with the revelation that there is at least one extensive relic of this civilization which exists and functions on.

What it is is basically a giant server farm the size of a city located on the nightside of an otherwise quite boring tidally locked mercury like planet. Largescale solar panels on the dayside provide it with power and it has a modest set of defense systems which includes a shield generator, a few old phaser cannons and a torpedo launcher long depleted. An IFF module you picked up on one of the wrecks allows you to bypass the remaining defenses. This has allowed an away team to examine this facility. The small army of meter long repair spiders is a bit unusual, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The real shocker happens when your engineers manage to find out how to access these machines. There is a simulated enviroment running on them as well as the mindstates of billions of individuals, which you access through your Holodeck. What you find is a nightmare.

The basic enviroment is a volcanic wasteland with rivers and lakes of lava and acid and other more organic fluids and jungles of twisted black thorned plants with a sky dimly illuminated not by sunlight, but by smoldering clouds far above. There are also fire pits, black obsidian spires. But beyond this, the true purpose of this world is made bear with it's denizens. The Holodeck Away Team soon came across a road which was lined with double barred crosses onto which people were nailed by hands and feat, writhing in pain. Along said road naked men and women trudge pulling spiked iron carts each with a reptilian figure with a spiked scaled hide, quills for hair an a horned face driving them on. Some carry ore or other raw materials, some carry dead body parts or tools and weapons. These travel between towns and cities doing a grizzly trade. Said towns are composed of buildings inhabited by the various types of these Reptrillian beings (which your away team soon comes to call Demons) which live in boxy medieval style buildings mostly made of volcanic stone with ghastly ornamentation (you know how some English pubs are named "The _'s Head", well this is less metaphorical here in this simulation) and pens of barbed iron in which ranks of people are kept when not being dragged out to toil in mines, manning furnaces, maintain roads, chop lumber from forests which can ensnare and devour woodsmen, hall the timbers, work in crude factories with grotesque machinery that makes Victorian era factory equipment look safe or other such tasks under the lash of their demonic overseers. That's not when their bled out, used as fuel in the furnaces, nailed up, tormented for sport, raped, killed, eaten or otherwise brutalized by their masters. For all that fall, a steady supply of fresh ones comes down as firey meteorites which crash into the landscape being hunted down by boisterous hunter demons who bring them to the slave pits. Some are drafted to fighting in the Legions of Hell and are given crude suits of jagged armor, swords, spears, halberds, axes, maces and muskets to march off to war under the supervision of Demonic Captains to fight other armies of the same nature. Even with the oversight of Demons, the fatigue of marching long distances barefoot eating foul tasting sludge and disease most soldiers fall on their foes with brutal abandon for those people that manage to win and slay three or more fellows get a reprieve, being reincarnated into another simulation where they get to work as bronze age slaves, peasants, artisans, scribes, warriors or even nobles (based on the number of their kills) for a spell before they eventually die and go back to the main Hell World.

Fortunately the holodeck safety protocols held up and your crew was spared the brutalization of the Demons. After a few failed attempts at tormenting them some of the Demons talk among themselves. Then one comes forth and begs the apology of the Away Team and offers to take them to see a higher authority, which involves them going to an ominous black temple and sacrificing someone from the pens to open a gateway leading to a rather monstrous but refined palace where they are met by a massive but civilized and courteous Demon Lord who explains to them the purpose of this facility. Long Story Short the Long Extinct ancient alien civilization that you'd been studying (called the Bhroshij) worked out systems which allowed them to transfer their Consciousnesses onto non-biological substrates when they died. There were several different versions of this. This included "Heaven", which was lands of pleasure and plenty combined with eternal youth and vigor. This existed alongside a Purgatory, which was basically a set of less spectacular worlds of tedious work with a bit of fun on the side for those which failed to measure up to their society's ideals and for the worst of their kind there was Hell where the guilty would face their punishment (which was as a default as Eternal as Possible, though this could be countermanded at a latter point by legally constituted authority of the Ministry of Post Mortum Affairs, which now does not exist). Lifetime after lifetime of torture and torment punctuated by periods of comparitive peace and pleasure so that the damned don't get used to their lot and can hope for such a reprieve. During the last stages of the Civil War, Rebels and Rebel Sympathizers were sent to hell unless they decided to change sides to try restore order. This did not work. There were reports of Rebels building their own Hell for Loyalist. Exactly why they were spared during the war is a point that they did not know, though the lack of strategic value of the Hell System and the strategic defenses is part of it. Currently five billion mindstates exist in this hell, all that remains of the Bhroshij species that have existed in a cycle of rebirth, torment, enslavement and violent death with occasional bouts of bronze age comparative peace.

In any case the Demon Prince has no interest in tormenting the away team or any other Starfleet Group since even though they are interlopers they have not been specifically Damned. Visits of the living to Hell did happen back in the day to scare people straight. it is willing to share information on the Bhroshij civilization. They have no intention of expanding Hell, which is a reasonable claim given that this facility has not expanded itself over the last million years. Though it will resist attempts to dismantle it. He also informs the away that the Demons (or at least the Demonic People as there are rather nasty Demonic Beasts) are Self Aware, even if they are programmed to crave to torment The Damned. Occasionally some have been known to question their role as tormentors. He is also willing to provide maps of the environments as well as more specific information about the simulation

After reading and reviewing the reports, you are left with the question of what to do about this. It would be possible to destroy the Hell Servers with a torpedo or two, though some might object about wiping out billions of beings. It might be possible to liberate Hell by reprogramming it into something less horrible if a team of engineers are deployed.

What do you do?

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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-07-25 05:43pm

Leave the Hell System alone. While they may have warp drive (or had), it is still the internal affairs of a different culture. Thus the Prime Directive still applies.

The options you've given us are all pretty unpalatable - destroy the system, which would effectively constitute genocide against both the residents and the self-aware demon programs, liberate the system, which means fucking about with an unknown computer system with possibly deleterious results for the residents and/or self-aware demons, which would be a pretty major PD violation, or leave them be.

I choose the latter option. It's an internal affair, and those residents went there for violating their own culture's ideals - something a Starfleet officer is not in a position to judge. The PD applies, so back the fuck away, offer counselling tot he team that visited Hell, mark the system as off-limits on the star charts and fire a report back to Earth.

Of course, that's me thinking as a Starfleet officer. If I was thinking as me, I would get as much info from the Demon Lord on how the technology works and look at replicating it for human use - without the Heaven/Hell aspects, but as a stepping stone to true immortality.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-25 06:37pm

As a Starfleet Officer, I believe its part of my job to try to acquire new technology via negotiation. (Evidence: Children of Damok. Pichard offered a peace treaty, mutual defense, and technology exchange all in one welcome speech). This forwards the interests of the Federation, without interferring with the internal affairs of other species. What the species does with any technology gained from an approved trade deal, so long as they don't violate said deal, is none of my business.

I will recommend we enter into negotiations with 'Hell' to acquire their technology. I recommend we offer them Cloaking Technology (something crude by effective at a distance), an agreement to keep other races away, and a 'tech support' agreement to help them with repairs as needed.

Also, anything outside that station? Strip it for reverse engineering, regardless of treaty. Remove all evidence of the civilization beside the functioning systems.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-07-25 09:47pm

As mentioned, a salvaging and examination of the technology not connected to the network for reverse engineering purposes. Starfleet/ the Federation might find this interesting technology to implement later on. Also leave a clear beacon to warn travelers of what hooking up to such a system entails. Locate and/or restore Purgatory and heaven.

Next, investigate what crimes their civilization considered the worst. Is it just disloyalty to the state that sent people to hell?

After that, barring Starfleet approval, start creating the equivalent of monastery servers, with guides and teachers NPCs, to be added to the planet, wherein the people in hell, heaven, and purgatory have the option of reforming for a lighter sentence after confirmed change in behavior after a period of study. They had it originally that prisoners could get parole, and it needs to be added again, in some form. Why not a Buddhist style reincarnation wherein your state of mind and karma lead to better places, so that eventually it leads to better servers for those who wish to reform?

Point out to sentient demon programs that this a patch, and they should not be affected.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NeoGoomba » 2019-07-26 08:13am

Yeah, I'd leave it all alone. That is, until their flagship Event Horizon drifts into Federation space.

Better to tractor-beam it into Klingon space.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Avrjoe » 2019-07-26 09:42am

I think the important takeaway here is that most of the beings in this Hell seem to be their against their will. They were placed their by a government and culture that are now defunct. Liberation would be a possible answer and not in conflict with the prime directive. They are Warp capable and if they ask for aid it would be no different from giving humanitarian aid to the Klingons and Romulans in the wake of disaster.

As the first team was tormented I'm sure they at some point over heard a fellow victim crying for mercy and for the torment to stop. Use that as an official request for aid and proceed to studying the system carefully so you can migrate the people away to some other form of storage or perhaps telecontrol androids.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-26 09:45am

This episode actually happened. Janeway killed the clown.

Nuke it, unless I can have it reengineered.

The Prime Directive has been incorporated not to be a provision to protect computer dominated societies, particularly those that involve the entire society being subservient to the machine, we see this in not only the aforementioned Voyager Episode but also as early as TOS The Apple.
The Apple wrote:SPOCK: I am concerned, Captain. This may not be an ideal society, but it is a viable one.
KIRK: Bones was right. These people aren't living, they're existing. They don't create, they don't produce, they don't even think. They exist to service a machine.
SPOCK: If we do what it seems we must, in my opinion it will be in direct violation of the non-interference directive.
KIRK: These are people, not robots. They should have the opportunity of choice. We owe it to them to interfere.
SPOCK: Starfleet Command may think otherwise.
KIRK: I'll take my chances.
He was raised to Admiral. So was Janeway. I think I'll be fine making this call.

Of course, regardless of that, if necessary I leak the location to the Klingon Empire and take my time in the reform colony.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Steve » 2019-07-26 09:50am

The PD is pretty clear, especially if the civilization is no longer warp capable, but on the other hand, the PD is not the highest form of morality, and there are perhaps ways to negotiate to convince the programs to offer alternatives.

Though personally I'm up to what the Culture did to the Hells in Surface Detail (although that involved a lot of subterfuge due to astropolitics).
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-26 11:34pm

Losing your warp capability doesn't mean you fall back into the Prime Directive's protected zone; the Ba'ku were officially not protected, while more positively the Dominion's victims in The Quickening were not even though they had no working warp technology any more in either case, they had crossed the threshold of understanding other cultures exist and so were open to intervention according to federation law.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Avrjoe » 2019-07-27 12:17pm

NecronLord wrote:
2019-07-26 09:45am
This episode actually happened. Janeway killed the clown.
Exactly! Just because the Prime Directive can justify allowing a shitty situation to continue does not mean it always does so. Violations of the Prime Directive for good cause are often upheld if the reasoning is sound. As of Drumhead Picard had been cleared of Nine violations. He broke it several times afterwards. Kirk, Janeway, Sisko, all have broken the Prime Directive and continued to serve.

However, even with that said I still maintain this is not a breach. This is a warp capable species for one. A server of tormented intelligences is not a viable society for two. (Which from the later part the the dialog NecronLord quotes, it would seem this does not even rise to the level of Spocks standard for protection under the Directive.)
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-27 01:21pm

NecronLord wrote:
2019-07-26 09:45am
This episode actually happened. Janeway killed the clown.
Different situation.

#1 - Harry was effectively being held hostage
#2 - The creators of the simulation said the Clown was now part of the original simulation. Effectively making the Clown a malfunction
#3 - The Clown had killed two people previously.
#4 - That simulation was not a civilization. It was basically a holodeck simulation. There were three people in it before Voyager got involved.

By contrasts, Hell was deliberate, and has sentient programs that have been running for nearly 1,000,000 years. They're older then our civilization.
(Hell, depending on how you define when our species starts, it's older then our species).


No, I'm for trading to get the technology. If the Federation council, once we understand it, wants to go after Hell in someway, I'll support it.
However, right now, there is no way to safely do anything, without risking all the minds trapped in hell.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-07-27 01:48pm

Solauren wrote:
2019-07-27 01:21pm
NecronLord wrote:
2019-07-26 09:45am
This episode actually happened. Janeway killed the clown.
Different situation.

#1 - Harry was effectively being held hostage
#2 - The creators of the simulation said the Clown was now part of the original simulation. Effectively making the Clown a malfunction
#3 - The Clown had killed two people previously.
#4 - That simulation was not a civilization. It was basically a holodeck simulation. There were three people in it before Voyager got involved.

By contrasts, Hell was deliberate, and has sentient programs that have been running for nearly 1,000,000 years. They're older then our civilization.
(Hell, depending on how you define when our species starts, it's older then our species).


No, I'm for trading to get the technology. If the Federation council, once we understand it, wants to go after Hell in someway, I'll support it.
However, right now, there is no way to safely do anything, without risking all the minds trapped in hell.
Point of Order, the Hell civilization is a fragment of the original program. The Heaven and Purgatory programs, as well as the bureaucracy to have 'souls' navigate said program, are no longer connected or destroyed. That needs fixing.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-27 02:01pm

No doubt.

however, we lack the knowledge of the technology to do anything. Once we have it, and understand it, we can safely try to do something.
These minds have been trapped for 1M years. A few decades to understand the tech to safely free them is nothing compared to that.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-27 02:14pm

Solauren wrote:
2019-07-27 01:21pm
NecronLord wrote:
2019-07-26 09:45am
This episode actually happened. Janeway killed the clown.
Different situation.

#1 - Harry was effectively being held hostage
#2 - The creators of the simulation said the Clown was now part of the original simulation. Effectively making the Clown a malfunction
#3 - The Clown had killed two people previously.
#4 - That simulation was not a civilization. It was basically a holodeck simulation. There were three people in it before Voyager got involved.

By contrasts, Hell was deliberate, and has sentient programs that have been running for nearly 1,000,000 years. They're older then our civilization.
(Hell, depending on how you define when our species starts, it's older then our species).
It is however directly analogous in other ways (e.g. a whole population in a stable long term loop) to the situation in The Apple, and Kirk was fine.
No, I'm for trading to get the technology. If the Federation council, once we understand it, wants to go after Hell in someway, I'll support it.
However, right now, there is no way to safely do anything, without risking all the minds trapped in hell.
Delay is of course, causing quite a bit of harm in the mean time.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-27 02:15pm

I'd rather get something like this done properly. Imagine if Starfleet fucked up and crashed the 'Hell Server'? That's killing how many innocent minds?
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-27 03:46pm

Honestly I regard the end of hell as a positive boon even if everyone dies; hence my comment about leaking it to the klingons, who have a history with deicide.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-27 05:32pm

Quite frankly, you'd never have become a Starfleet officer with that attitude.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-28 07:01am

Starfleet has never had officers who're prepared to sanction death to limit suffering, and has a perfect, 100% accurate record at removing such officers.

Image

Vice-Admiral Alynna Nechayev ordered the genocide of the borg if any opportunity arose; directly overriding Picard's softer hearted inclinations. After this, she was later promoted to the rank of Fleet Admiral, the highest rank in Starfleet.

But perhaps you will argue this is purely because the Federation was under direct threat from the borg.

Image

Attack the Klingons while they're weak, bring them to their knees! They cannot be given refugee status in the Federation, they'll become Alien Trash!

Image
Admiral Marcus, of course, wanted war with the Klingons and was prepared to kill quite a few people to get it.

But these are all threat-forces (to use the lovely Starfleet euphemism for enemy) actively harming the Federation, Starfleet officers would never act against those who posed no threat...

Image

Let's not forget Vice-Admiral Dougherty, who was prepared to again, choose the many over the few, and in that scenario had to actually forcibly remove - and let's not forget would entail the aging to death of the few - a population from their land.

Image

Or Vice-Admiral Kennelly, who cooperated with the Cardassians to attack Bajoran terrorists, who he was planning to rope-a-dope into being terrorists in the first place.

Honourable mentions;
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Vice-Admiral Kathryn Janeway; handed weapons technology to the Kazon and holodeck technology to the Hirogen, many lesser violations of the Prime Directive down the pipe including at least a few where she made utilitarian decisions.

Image
Rear-Admiral James T. Kirk, Apple incident mentioned before.

Now I would like you to prove that Starfleet's insight into its command officers is so good, and its morals so straightened into one specific pathway, that someone who will kill suffering persons to spare them unavoidable suffering on utilitarian grounds is never going to become a captain.

Please explain, why euthanasia is so against federation morality (Of course, the Starfleet officer we see here also made Admiral!) that they commit greater resources to weeding out officers in the captaincy than they do admirals that want to start wars.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-28 08:01am

None of those officers were SUCCESSFUL however, because the officers they were working with STOPPED them.

Eventually, people change from when they entered an organization. Stress, experience, age, etc.

And the Borg are a special case. With them, it's literally 'us or them'. Hell isn't hurting anyone but itself.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-28 08:10am

Picard (Executed a crewman rather than allow him to be assimilated), Janeway (Various), McCoy (final rank Admiral, civilian euthanasia) and Necheyev were quite successful.

Dougherty was murdered by the villains, not the Federation, and there was no sign that he had suffered any sort of breakdown. His actions are pure utilitarianism.
PICARD: I won't let you move them, Admiral. I will take this to the Federation Council.
DOUGHERTY: I'm acting on orders form the Federation Council.
PICARD: How can there be an order to abandon the Prime Directive?
DOUGHERTY: The Prime Directive doesn't apply. These people are not indigenous to this planet. They were never meant to be immortal. We'll simply be restoring them to their natural evolution.
PICARD: Who the hell are we to determine the next course of evolution for these people?
DOUGHERTY: Jean-Luc, there are six hundred people down there. We'll be able to use the regenerative properties of this radiation to help billions. ...
[...]
RIKER: The Federation Council has asked me to inform you that the Ba'ku relocation will be halted, while they conduct a top-level review.
We never hear the outcome of that, but he is not a renegade acting on his own psychoses at all.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-28 09:17am

I should note that despite the longstanding history on the board of sarcastic responses, I take your point, but as mentioned, my order of preference would be roughly:

1. Suspend the program (if everyone's mindstates can be brought back) pending future decisions.
2. Decrease the clock-speed so people experience less suffering over time, pending future decisions.
3. Negotiate a change in the behaviour of the demons; if this is possible and they can act outside their instincts.
4. Delete the demons from the program, particularly favourable if the demons are not themselves sapient in a meaningful way, which Starfleet is notoriously bad at judging.
5. Delete the victims (if necessary); self explanataory.
6. Destroy the simulation if all the other options above prove impossible.

If Starfleet Command is close enough for subspace radio and I can reliably call on them for backup in evaluating the way to proceed, that's fine. If Starfleet is, by some strange circumstance, happy to let the status quo happen, citing the Prime Directive (as in the ridiculous Drema IV episode where the destruction of all life on the planet is deemed acceptable to preserve the self determination of the inhabitants!) that's when I'd consider leaking its location to the Klingons, or other precipitous action.

I question the benefits of restoring the heaven-sim, though, if the people have been in the hell-sim for centuries; it may well be that they're all so insane that any sort of palliative effort is pissing in the wind; that's a job for the ship's counsellor to advise on!
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Zaune
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Zaune » 2019-07-28 10:21am

I try to discretely interview a few of the damned souls to get their side of the story, and possibly coach them a little bit so I have a transcript that can be reasonably interpreted as a formal request for assistance. One of the many loopholes in the Prime Directive is Starfleet's responsibilities under interstellar law with regards to distress calls.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-28 11:02am

Until we understand the technology, however, it's dangerous to try to help them.

Get the tech first, learn the tech, then decide on a course of action.
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by NecronLord » 2019-07-28 12:52pm

Of course; that is the sine-qua-non of any Starfleet activity; I would hope some significant study has been made of these systems before anyone got permission to wire them into the holodeck too!
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Re: Starfleet makes a Hellish discovery (RAR!)

Post by Solauren » 2019-07-28 12:57pm

Considering how they use the holodeck, very unlikely.
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