‘Points of Departure’ Part One

Epis­ode Num­ber: 101

Writ­ten by: Jon Crew

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 9th May 2020

Guest Stars:

  • Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Tek: Tel­lar­ite shake­down Com­mand­ing Officer, Lyo­n­esse
  • Com­modore Angrove: Human Com­mand­ing Officer, Star­base 514
  • Cap­tain Eshraan: Andori­an Exec­ut­ive Officer, Star­base 514
  • Bobby: son of Com­modore Angrove, star­ship enthusiast

After a year of fit­ting out and six months of shake-down, Lyo­n­esse is finally approach­ing Star­base 514 and her form­al com­mis­sion­ing. I and many of the care­taker staff will be tak­ing our leave and hand­ing her over to her new com­mand­ing officer, Cap­tain Mas­uda Akari. I under­stand that Cap­tain Mas­uda will be tak­ing her into the Black Cluster, a region of space impen­et­rable to long-range sensors. There are many legends con­cern­ing the neb­ula, but little hard data.

Pure explor­a­tion: sounds like fun!

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate 9823.1

Plot: This epis­ode serves primar­ily to intro­duce the series’ ship and crew. Little is said of the eponym­ous Black Cluster.

The ‘A’ Plot: On Star­base 514, Cap­tain Mas­uda is wait­ing for the arrival of her new com­mand. Also on the sta­tion are some of her pro­spect­ive seni­or staff, Doc­tor Vale-of-Winds, Lieu­ten­ant Astan and Ensign Kheled, as well as a large num­ber of more juni­or crew and officers. Mas­uda organ­ises a small drinks recep­tion in one of the view­ing gal­ler­ies as the star­ship arrives, tak­ing the oppor­tun­ity to meet some of her officers.

Aboard Lyo­n­esse, Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Tek shares one last round of engin­eer­ing reports with Lieu­ten­ant Valik, before order­ing the helm officer, Ensign Lock, to drop out of warp and approach Star­base 514. Mas­uda and her crew watch her grace­fully slide into the dock­ing bay.

Some hours later, the entire crew gath­ers for the form­al com­mis­sion­ing cere­mony. Com­modore Angrove gives a brief speech about how won­der­ful it is that, after nearly three dec­ades of cold war, Star­fleet is finally get­ting back into the explor­a­tion game. He turns to Mas­uda and trans­fers com­mand in the tra­di­tion­al fash­ion, before hur­ry­ing off to deal with “urgent con­cerns”. Cap­tain Eshraan, who is dis­tinctly more friendly, apo­lo­gises for his seni­or’s beha­viour, while giv­ing Mas­uda and her seni­or officers a tour of the ves­sel. Vari­ous crew mem­bers take the oppor­tun­ity to check on their new stations.

About 12 hours later, fully resup­plied and crewed, Lyo­n­esse slips her moor­ings and heads into deep space, saluted en route by the much lar­ger USS Warspite. Ensign Lock powers up the main drive and she goes to warp with the usu­al blaze of light.

About half-way to Deep Space 3, how­ever, the ves­sel’s sub­space bubble col­lapses, and she drops out of warp sud­denly, caus­ing a few minor bumps and bruises that test the read­i­ness of the just-assembled med­ic­al team. Invest­ig­a­tions by Lieu­ten­ant Valik show that one of the dilith­i­um crys­tals has cracked and needs to be replaced, but this can­not be done while the warp core is online: they can either limp on at around warp 3, or shut down the core and replace the crys­tal before restart­ing it, a pro­cess that will take a min­im­um of 12 hours. The Cap­tain opts for the lat­ter course of action, not want­ing to limp into DS3 at the end of her first voyage!

The ‘B’ Plot: As the crew boards the star­ship through the main hatch after the cere­mony, Lieu­ten­ant Astan heads straight up to Secur­ity on Deck E to organ­ise his team, and begin check­ing the ship. He imme­di­ately becomes aware of an unau­thor­ised life-form in the sensor access pas­sages on Deck F. Mar­shalling his new team effi­ciently, he catches a pre-teen boy hid­ing out in a Jef­freys tube. It turns out that young Bobby, son of Com­modore Angrove, is anxious to join Star­fleet and make a few dis­cov­er­ies of his own. He is handed over to Cap­tain Eshraan for return to his fam­ily with a min­im­um of fuss.

Dr Vale mean­while is some­what dis­ap­poin­ted to find that the ship does not include an arbor­etum or oth­er garden facil­ity, unlike the lar­ger Enter­prise-class cruis­ers. She peti­tions the Cap­tain for per­mis­sion to use a vacant hold as a make­shift indoor garden and res­pite space to sup­port the long-term men­tal health and well­being of the crew.

The Arc: The Black Cluster, an omin­ous swirl­ing blue-black mass, can occa­sion­ally be seen through viewports.

Obser­va­tions: From the deliv­ery of his com­mis­sion­ing address, it is clear that Angrove is really not inter­ested in Lyo­n­esse’s mis­sion of explor­a­tion. He seems keen to get back to his admin­is­trat­ive duties.

Dia­logue: Com­modore Angrove hands over the com­mis­sion­ing order: “Ma’am, I am com­manded by the Coun­cil of the United Fed­er­a­tion of Plan­ets, to dir­ect you to repair with all due speed on board the ship Lyo­n­esse lying at Star­base 514. It is required that you com­plete her Pro­vi­sion­ing and assemble her Crew, pre­par­ing her in every respect for Space. It is the Council’s express Orders, that you employ the most vig­or­ous Exer­tions, to accom­plish these sev­er­al Object­ives and to put your Ship as speedily as pos­sible in a situ­ation to sail at the shortest notice.”

Cap­tain Mas­uda’s first order as Com­mand­ing Officer: “Man our ship and bring her to life!”

Ref­er­ences: Star­base 514 is a Lotus-class sta­tion, serving as the cent­ral com­mand base for Star­fleet oper­a­tions in the Aquila Reach, and as a trade hub for sur­round­ing Fed­er­a­tion and inde­pend­ent worlds.

USS Warspite is an Enter­prise-class heavy cruis­er, based at Star­base 514 along­side USS Swift­sure and USS Van­guard (both Lor’vela-class light cruis­ers). The three ves­sels form Star­fleet’s overt mil­it­ary pres­ence in the region.

Lt Cdr Tek has com­manded Lyo­n­esse throught her six-month shake­down cruise, and has occa­sion­ally clashed with the ship’s Chief Engin­eer, Lt Valik.

Ensign Kheled is a Zaran­ite, on loan to Star­fleet to help with the upcom­ing mis­sion, due to being famil­i­ar with the regions nav­ig­a­tion­al pecu­li­ar­it­ies. His nat­ive atmo­sphere is tox­ic to most humanoid spe­cies and his face is covered by a breath­ing mask.

Lieu­ten­ant Astan is from Delta, also a loc­al world.

Ques­tions: The Com­modore’s atti­tude seems to imply that not all of Star­fleet’s com­mand struc­ture is in step over the mis­sion of the fleet. Will this have reper­cus­sions in the future?

Is the warp fail­ure a har­binger of things to come?