Episode Number: 1×07
Written by: The authors of the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide.
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 18th June 2022
- Lolani-Taan: Orion merchant-captain.
- Dareth: Lolani-Taan’s brawnier son.
- Gavreh: Lolani-Taan’s more cunning son, equipped with a number of cybernetic sensors and devices.
- Lieutenant Garren Harrid: Centauran xenoanthropologist.
- Lieutenant, junior grade Patrick O’Keefe: Lexington’s psychology officer and amateur parasychologist.
We are returning to the Velkath colony on Dourap IV, to see how they have fared since their recent outbreak of D’kar fever. Despite the sabotage incident that took place while delivering the medical team on Stardate 5428, this promises to be a routine visit.
The world itself is quite pleasant, it may be an opportunity to authorise some shore leave following the recent excitement.Captain’s Log: Stardate, 5598.8
Plot: While taking shore leave on Dourap IV, Lexington’s senior officers race against the Orions for treasure on the far side of the planet.
The ‘A’ Plot: The starship Lexington is returning to Dourap IV, for a follow-up visit after the D’kar outbreak. Dr Midax, noting that several members of the crew are showing signs of stress following the events in the Bacchus system, requests that they take the opportunity to authorise some shore leave. Despite the somewhat spartan nature of a Tellarite industrial colony, Captain Pryce decides to order 48 hours leave for all, one shift at a time, beginning with the alpha shift.
Adred flies the senior officers down in a shuttlecraft, and they go their separate ways. Pryce and Adred both head out to take advantage of the countryside, Nossaag heads out to take in some spectator sports (debates) and A’Mathi heads out to the local golf course.
About 30 hours into the leave period, Lexington contacts the captain, to reveal that they’ve detected a strong energy signal coming from the far side of the planet. Orbital sensor sweeps have revealed the presence of ancient ruins beneath the jungle in that region, but the Velkath colony has no information about them.
Pryce signals the rest of the senior crew and asks them to gather at the local bar. He informs them of the news and invites them to help him explore the ruins and identify the energy source. They agree and Adred requisitions the latest shuttle from the Lexington, before they head off to the ruins, inviting Lt Harrid to join them for the expedition.
The site is a large ruined city in the centre of a region covered by thick jungle, not unlike the abandoned Maya cities in central America. A central plaza is dominated by a huge five-sided step pyramid rising out of the undergrowth.
Adred brings the shuttle in to land directly in front of the pyramid, but at the last minute, notices that sensors are showing a large void beneath the surface. Worrying that the surface will not hold the shuttle’s weight, he redirects his landing to a nearby location. They exit the shuttle and look for a way into the pyramid, which appears to be the source of the energy readings. There’s nothing at ground level, so they are forced to climb up several flights of steep steps; A’Mathi is the only one that does not have difficulty climbing.
Reaching the door, Nossaag checks for dangerous animals and plants, then clears the vegetation obscuring the entrance so they can enter. At the end of a long passage, is a square shaft with stone slabs sticking out of the walls, creating a somewhat unsafe stairway spiralling down into the depths. A few near-misses later they reach the bottom, which is covered in water, although it turns out to only be about a foot deep.
Pryce receives a call from Lexington, warning of the arrival of Zhairassha, under the command of Lolani-Taan. They may have company soon.
The explorers venture into a tunnel and soon become aware of lights ahead of them. These resolve into a group of 6 Orions, Lolani, her two sons and a 3‑man bodyguard. Lolani seems pleased to see them and introduces her group, but warns that these are Orion ruins, and not to be exploited by “Federation colonisers”. Pryce proposes a temporary alliance for the purpose of exploration and she agrees.
A’Mathi detects signs of couple of large lifeforms paralleling their progress in another corridor. Gavreh concurs but notes there does not seem to be any way for the beings to reach them at this point.
The Orions confidently lead the way into a large chamber, which is knee deep in water, with a large raised hollow holding more water at the far end of the room. A’Mathi and Gavreh detect a large life-form within the room, just as one of the Orion guards is grabbed by something under the water, disappearing into the raised hollow. The remaining guards immediately open fire with disruptors, raising huge clouds of steam and obscuring vision. Dareth and one of the guards move forward, still firing, and Pryce and Nossaag join them.
The captain is grabbed by something under the water, and both he and Nossaag shoot, causing a tentacle to raise out of the water. Another Orion is grabbed, and more firing ensues before A’Mathi is able to get them to calm down. The steam clears a bit, and tentacled monstrosity can be seen tearing its latest victim apart. Lolani announces that this is too much, and has Gavreh lob a disruptor grenade into the pool. Once the group’s vision clears, bits of creature can be seen strewn around the room. Nossaag wants to know why Starfleet doesn’t have devices like this.
Pushing on, they come to what appears to be a central chamber which, according to their scans, contains two distinct energy sources. The chamber is seven-sided (a motif they recognise from Bacchus IV) with a raised dais in the centre. There are entrances in the centres of three of the walls (one blocked by rubble) and various statues set in front of the remaining walls. There are piles of rubble everywhere. On the dais, four raccoon-like creatures, the size of bears, are playing with a pair of glowing rods. Two of the creatures more watch from the rubble piles.
A’Mathi confirms that the rods are the energy sources they’ve been looking for, and Lolani points out that these are obviously of ancient Orion construction. Pryce opts for a quick way to get a closer look and opens fire on the creatures with wide-angle stun. All four of those on the dais drop unconscious, but this kicks off a general fight as the other two leap to the attack, quickly joined by two larger examples emerging from one of the corridors. Although the Orions take some injuries, the intruders win out, leaving the creatures injured and unconscious.
A’Mathi and Gavreh take a closer took at the glowing rods and announce that they seem to be very high-powered batteries – A’Mathi believes one could power a starship at warp for nearly an hour. To forestall any arguments, Pryce proposes taking one, leaving the other for the Orions, since both victories were clearly joint efforts. Lolani concurs with this equitable plan and they leave in peace.
The ‘B’ Plot: While crawling through a Jeffreys tube to carry out some maintenance, A’Mathi discovers a device he doesn’t recognise on a tripod in the middle of the tube. It appears to be of Starfleet construction, but he can’t identify its construction: it seems to contain a subspace radio sensor and a large quartz crystal. Calling back to main engineering, he discovers that this was placed by Lt O’Keefe, in an effort to help locate the alleged ghost. Once he has completed his repairs, A’Mathi sets up a false signal for the device to receive later.
At the end of the episode, an excited O’Keefe reports that the “ghost” may be of a cat or possibly a lost Caitian crew member.
The Arc: The ruins show some similarities to those the crew have encountered elsewhere and may be from the same civilisation.
Observations: The Orions claim to have once controlled a huge empire stretching across portions of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, although this is disputed by many Federation xenohistorians.
A’Mathi likes to play golf when he gets shore leave – apparently it’s a national sport on Cait.
The cast displays the usual set of cringe-inducing leisure fashion when they arrive at Pryce’s meeting, although Nossaag is wearing half of his uniform and A’Mathi is in a classic tweed golfing outfit, the plus-fours being ideal for his digitigrade limbs.
References: The Velkath colony was first visited by Lexington in episode 1×01, ‘Adrift’, when it was hit by an outbreak of D’kar fever. Lolani-Taan also made her first appearance then, when she attempted to extort the colonists into buying medicine at inflated prices.
Questions: Do the Orions have a genuine connection to the ancient race that built the ruins?