Altaris IV (Freedom-A)
First contact with the Altarians occurred 106 years ago when a Federation Science vessel crash-landed on Altaris IV. The Altarians were not yet capable of space travel and were not ready for first contact. After the Federation crew were rescued, the Altarians asked for no further contact from the Federation.
On Stardate 9710.15 the Altarians broke a 106 year silence and contacted Starfleet Command, they requested that a delegation be sent from the Federation to observe their first attempt at warp travel and render any assistance necessary.
On Stardate 9710.23 the USS Freedom-A was sent to Altaris IV as requested.
The USS Freedom-A is heading for the rendezvous with the Altarians, the first contact in 106 years (see mission briefing), when it detects three ships on an intercept course. It is determined that the three ships are using trilithium propulsion technology and are traveling at only impulse velocities.
Starfleet Intelligence inform the crew that the Altarians may have access to a very rare compound which could stabilize trilithium reactions, and that this compound could have attracted the attentions of the Romulan Empire and/or the Cardassians. Despite Starfleet Intelligence's direst warnings the rendezvous goes well and the Freedom and two Altarian observer vessels prepare for the Altarian's first attempt at warp travel. The Altarian warp ship then disappears, only to reappear minutes later. The Altarians are overjoyed and hail the experiment a success, although the crew of the Freedom is baffled as to what happened, all they can determine is that the Altarians are using an 'external drive'. The proceedings are brought to an abrupt halt when two Romulan Warbirds decloak and attack the Freedom and Altarians alike. One Altarian observer ship is destroyed before an attack on the Altarian warp ship causes its external drive to envelop the Freedom, both Warbirds and both remaining Altarian vessels. All of the ships are then pulled through the Altarian's 'warp gateway'. In the process of passing through the gateway, one Romulan Warbird and the remaining Altarian observer ship are destroyed.
The journey through the warp gateway results in an apparent total power and system failure for the Freedom, including life support, although mysteriously the warp core does not breach. The senior staff splits up into groups and leaves the bridge. Strange, Marlin and Marko head for main engineering via Jeffries tubes. They notice that an alien turquoise powder is starting to form on the walls of the ship. When they arrive in engineering they find that all the crew there are unconscious and, despite their best efforts, they cannot wake them. Strange things begin happening on the ship: spooky noises, random power surges and supernatural events are brought to a head when the unconscious crew members begin disappearing in the darkness.
Va'al and Valeris determine, from the stars outside the ship, that the Freedom is no longer in the Milky Way, although their new location remains a mystery. Meanwhile Fleet Captain Jeff Pelletier and Ta'el travel to shuttle bay two and find that the shuttlecraft still have power. They board one and leave the Freedom. They are shocked to find that outside of the ship instead of space being a huge vacuum, as in the Milky Way, here it is a huge expanse of a gel like substance, similar to the powder forming on the ship but much denser. They name this gel like substance gello. After only a few minutes the shuttlecraft loses all power.
On the ship, Strange, Marlin and Marko begin to suspect that the darkness on the Freedom is responsible for the supernatural events. After Marko is mysteriously rendered unconscious the darkness attacks Strange and Marlin. Marlin manages to start a small fire, and the light that this fire gives out wards off the attacking darkness. Marlin loses control of the fire and soon the whole of engineering is a towering inferno. Strange initiates an explosion that blows a huge hole in the hull of the Freedom and extinguishes the blaze, however Strange, Marlin and Marko are all thrown out of the ship and into the gello outside. The three officers then swim over to the stranded shuttle which holds Ta'el and a furious Pelletier. The gello seeps into the shuttle while the group is discussing a plan of action, and Ta'el comes into direct physical contact with it. The gello has a psychotropic effect on Ta'el, similar to drug induced euphoria and she develops a very rapid addiction to the substance. Ta'el then slips out of the shuttlecraft unnoticed and begins swimming in the gello, the other crew members on the shuttlecraft notice this too late and before they can act, the Altarian warp ship appears and abducts Ta'el. Strange then discovers a way to form a gello-powered drive for the Freedom, which could possibly restore power to the ship. Draining the last of the shuttles power reserves, Pelletier, Strange, Marlin and Marko transport over to the bridge of the Freedom, to implement Strange's plan.
Meanwhile Va'al, Valeris and L-7 are abducted from the Freedom and find themselves as prisoners on board the Altarian warp ship. Here they learn that the Romulans, from the surviving Warbird, have commandeered the ship and have enslaved the Altarians. They also learn that there is a creature that lives in darkness, known as the Mordan, which is responsible for all the bizarre events on the Freedom. The Mordan is co-operating with the Romulans and has been abducting the Freedom's crew and bringing them to the Altarian ship. L-7 manages to escape from his bonds on the Altarian ship.
On the Freedom, Pelletier, Strange, Marlin and Marko determine that all the ships crew members have disappeared. They manage to start Strange's 'gello drive' and discover that the ships systems were never actually down but had somehow been masked by the Mordan. This explains why the warp core had not breached after the apparent power failure. The Freedom is now nearly fully operational and begins the hunt for its crew and the Altarian ship.
On the Altarian ship, L-7 finds a gello addicted Ta'el, and frees Va'al and Valeris. The group then tries to find a means of escape.
After several minutes of searching, the Freedom encounters the Altarian ship, drifting crippled in space. The Altarian ship is powerless and badly damaged, attacked by creatures that live in this gello universe, the Kumta. The Altarian ship is minutes from a fatal explosion, but the Freedom cannot lower its shields for transport as it is under attack from the Kumta. L-7 realizes that this gello universe is actually the warp field of the Altarian external warp drive, and that if the warp drive is destroyed, this universe will implode and everything in it will be lost forever. As a last resort L-7 transports every living thing off the Altarian ship and into the gello outside. It then transports itself and the independent warp drive unit into the gello also. Shortly after, the Altarian ship explodes as a result of the damage it has sustained. This explosion drives the Kumta away, and the Freedom is able to lower its shields.
The 4 crew members on board the Freedom locate the lifeforms floating in the gello, and beam them aboard the ship, using the transporter's biofilters to remove the crews new found addiction to gello. Unfortunately there are no traces of L-7, who, unknown to the crew, is drifting in the gello and working on the Altarian warp drive in an attempt to open a gateway back to normal space. Meanwhile, with the aid of the Altarian scientists, the rest of the Freedom crew members manage to restore the Freedom to normal space, escaping the Altarian 'warp universe'. However there is a grave miscalculation and the Freedom reappears just outside Earth's atmosphere. The ship's momentum is too great to avoid Earth's gravity and the Freedom spectacularly crash lands in San Francisco Bay, only hundreds of metres from Starfleet Command. L-7 watches the Freedom escape the Altarian 'warp universe' and then follows, destroying the Altarian warp drive before being detected and transported onto the Freedom.
Once the ship is out of any immediate danger, Pelletier and Strange are called to Starfleet Command whilst the rest of the crew begin to establish the extent of the damage to the ship. Starfleet Command is then bombed and Pelletier and Strange are seriously injured. The source of, and the reason for, the bomb are unknown. After several days Pelletier and Strange are declared stable and released from the Starfleet Command Medical Centre. The entire Freedom crew is given extended shore leave whilst the Freedom undergoes repairs. The investigation into the bombing continues and leads to the next mission, when the senior staff are implicated as ringleaders of a terrorist group responsible for the bombing, and are suspended of duty and rank, becoming fugitives from Starfleet.