‘The Rackham Incident’

Epis­ode Num­ber: 112

Writ­ten by: Jon Crew

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 22nd May 2021

Guest Stars:

  • Sub­com­mand­er Sevar: a Vul­can secur­ity agent.
  • Render of Human­ity: a Kzin terrorist.
  • The Arau­jos fam­ily: a rich family.
  • Sergei Volkov: the body­guard to the Araujos.
  • Vomon: the lead­er of a group of Ori­on pir­ates mas­quer­ad­ing as legit­im­ate businessmen.

Sit­ting in Depar­ture Lounge 17B at Earth Space­dock is a pecu­li­ar exper­i­ence. Des­pite my travels to date, I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many dif­fer­ent spe­cies in one place; Earth truly is cos­mo­pol­it­an, as they say. Although I am offi­cially off-duty until I reach Star­base 514, I can­’t help noti­cing the more … sus­pi­cious … indi­vidu­als in the crowd: the ex-Star­fleet private secur­ity thug wait­ing for his employ­er (who is prob­ably involved in organ­ised crime); the traf­fick­ers scan­ning the crowd for easy marks (I’ve already aler­ted sta­tion secur­ity to these); and even a group of Ori­on “busi­ness­men”. I can­’t read that last group, but they act furt­ive, like they’re wor­ried that someone knows what they’re up to.

I try to take my mind off the crowd at large, it’s not my respons­ib­il­ity at the moment. Instead, I should be look­ing for Dr Vale-of-Winds, the pro­spect­ive Chief Med­ic­al Officer on the Lyo­n­esse. A Cen­taur­an, from her per­son­nel file, so I think this should be an inter­est­ing experience…

Per­son­al Log, Lieu­ten­ant Kar­lan Astan: Stard­ate 9815.1

Plot: Dr Vale and Lt Astan fight to pre­vent the hijack­ing of a civil­ian trans­port by pirates.

The ‘A’ Plot: Lt. Astan is wait­ing in uni­form to board the M.V. Rack­ham, a civil­ian trans­port ship depart­ing Earth Space­dock for the Aquila Reach. Board­ing is being delayed while the head stew­ard organ­ises a group of mem­bers of a reli­gious move­ment who want to travel togeth­er. A wealthy-look­ing human fam­ily, com­plete with gov­erness and body­guard, are wait­ing impa­tiently for their chance to board. Even­tu­ally, the reli­gious party are boarded, and the queue begins to move.

Dr Vale arrives, dressed cas­u­ally, with a large trol­ley of lug­gage, includ­ing a selec­tion of liv­ing bio­lo­gic­al samples, which causes some con­sterna­tion with the stew­ards. She and Astan meet and are assigned cab­ins: Vale will be shar­ing with Angelina, the aunt and gov­erness of the Arau­jos chil­dren, while Astan will be shar­ing with Ser­gie Volkov, the Arau­jos’ body­guard. Angelina turns out to be enthu­si­ast­ic about her trip into space, but intends to go off to travel by her­self as soon as pos­sible. Astan dis­cov­ers that, while Volkov is ex-Star­fleet Secur­ity, he is more ded­ic­ated to pro­tect­ing human­ity than pre­serving the peace. His assault phaser is par­tic­u­larly worrying.

After the first few days on the rick­ety old ship, pas­sen­ger life becomes routine. The Ori­ons keep to them­selves and the mem­bers of the Watch­ers of Sala­mar, an obscure reli­gious sect from Alpha Cen­tauri, do like­wise, although they do take over the saloon for cere­mon­ies twice a day. They don’t actu­ally seem to mind if non-believ­ers are present, but it is awk­ward and noisy for any­one that does stay.

A couple of weeks into the voy­age, one of the stew­ards fails to appear in the pas­sen­ger area. When Vale enquires as to why, she’s told he’s developed some kind of stom­ach ill­ness. She volun­teers to help and dis­cov­ers that he’s very weak, as a res­ult of some kind of food pois­on­ing. Oth­er crew mem­bers are also affected, includ­ing the cap­tain. Upon learn­ing that a couple of pas­sen­gers are also affected, Vale insti­tutes a quar­ant­ine and begins work on identi­fy­ing the cause, dis­cov­er­ing a tox­in in their systems.

Vale asks Astan to invest­ig­ate pos­sible sources for the tox­in. By now, half the crew are con­fined to quar­ters and the ship’s oper­a­tions are becom­ing unre­li­able. The first mate accepts help from the Ori­on, Vomon, whose col­leagues imme­di­ately go to work on the bridge and in the engine room.

The tox­in is traced back to the food stores, where they appear to have been delib­er­ately intro­duced to sev­er­al items in order to affect the most people. Now that she knows what the tox­in is, Vale can begin work­ing on an antidote.

Decid­ing the time has come, Vomon moves to take over the ship, aided by Volkov, who rounds up the pas­sen­gers and holds them at phaser-point in the saloon. The Ori­ons change the ship’s course and drop out of work in an obscure sys­tem. Vale, Astan, Sevar and the sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the crew work out a plan to retake the ship.

Vale uses her make­shift bio­chem­istry labor­at­ory to pro­duce some anaes­thet­ic gas that can be pumped through the vent­il­a­tion sys­tem. Astan and Sevar take down the hijack­ers in the engine room, while Vale frees the pas­sen­gers, with help from the first mate and the mobile crew.

Finally, they attempt to retake the bridge, using the gas to sub­due any res­ist­ance. Unfor­tu­nately, it appears Vale got the for­mula slightly wrong: the Ori­ons inside become viol­ently aggress­ive and Astan is forced to stun both of them.

They man­age to get the ship back under­way before Vomon’s Ori­on allies arrive to cap­ture it.

The ‘B’ Plot: While scan­ning the food stores, Astan is dis­turbed by foot­steps out­side. Invest­ig­at­ing, he runs into Sevar, a Vul­can pas­sen­ger, who is def­in­itely not sup­posed to be there. Astan con­fronts her, and after some argu­ment, she relents and shows him to one of the smal­ler holds, warn­ing that this was top secret. The hold has been depres­sur­ised and holds a stas­is pod. Astan real­ises that its occu­pant is Kzin.

Sevar explains that she is an agent of the V’shar, and is secretly escort­ing Render of Human­ity, a dan­ger­ous Kzin pris­on­er, back to the Pat­ri­archy. There’s a danger that he will harm a lot of people if the power to his stas­is pod is cut.

The Arc: This story takes place pri­or to Points of Depar­ture, dur­ing Dr Vale and Lt Astan’s jour­ney to Star­base 514.

Obser­va­tions: ‘The Rack­ham Incid­ent’ is a bottle epis­ode involving two of the main cast, appar­ently neces­sit­ated by the absence of the act­or play­ing Cap­tain Mas­uda. It rep­res­ents a depar­ture for the series, allow­ing us to wit­ness Astan and Vale’s first meet­ing, in a non-Star­fleet environment. 

Ref­er­ences: The M.V. Rack­ham is a civil­ian-oper­ated Sherpa-class freight­er, ply­ing the main spacelanes between the Fed­er­a­tion home­worlds and the Aquila Reach. She’s about forty years old and is not in the best of condition.

Sevar is a Sub­com­mand­er in the V’Shar, the Vul­can secur­ity ser­vice. She’s cov­ertly escort­ing a dan­ger­ous Kzinti ter­ror­ist back to the Patriarchy.

The Watch­ers of Sala­mar is a Cen­tauri cult, with New Age lean­ings. They wear bright col­ours and spend their time med­it­at­ing and chant­ing; they spend an hour every morn­ing and after­noon in an incom­pre­hens­ible group ritu­al in the main saloon. The cult­ists on the Rack­ham are trav­el­ling to join their lead­er on the inde­pend­ent colony world of Heathercrist.

Vomon and his com­pan­ions (two are Ruddy, two Green) are part of that sub­set of Ori­on soci­ety that gives the whole people a bad repu­ta­tion: pir­ates. Although, at least they are pre­tend­ing to be trav­el­ling businessmen.