‘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.

Per­son­al Log, Lieu­tenant Kar­lan Astan: Star­date 9815.1

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…

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.