Episode Number: 112
Written by: Jon Crew
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 22nd May 2021
- 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.