Episode Number: 1×10
Written by: The authors of the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 30th July 2022
- Commodore Banna Stoker: Starfleet troubleshooter with a murky past.
- Captain Meredith Skaarsen: commanding officer of the U.S.S. Charles D. Walcott NCC-1874.
- Adreth: friendly citizen of an alternate Taurus II.
- Lieutenant jg Mettus: Denobulan science officer.
- Dr Hans Schneider: Human medical officer.
- Ensign Bhavani: Barzan navigator.
- Rear Admiral José I. Mendez: Starfleet Operations commander at Starbase 10.
We have been hailed by a shuttle from the U.S.S. Calico. For some reason, Commodore Banna Stoker is alone on the shuttle, and she should be arriving at any moment. How she got a shuttle from the Calico, and why she is alone, are mysteries that should be solved momentarily when she docks. I am heading to the shuttlebay right now to meet her, and hopefully get some answers.Captain’s Log: Stardate, 5678.6
Plot: Commodore Stoker’s mysterious arrival leads to a visit to Murasaki 312, where the Enterprise lost the shuttlecraft Galileo two years earlier. While a landing party searching for ancient civilisation on Taurus II gets lost between dimensions, Captain Pryce finds himself stuck between the rogue Commodore and a Captain determined to arrest her.
The ‘A’ Plot: Captain Pryce arrives on the hangar deck as a battered shuttlecraft lands. Its single passenger, Commodore Stoker, walks off the craft and immediately orders Lexington to Murasaki 312 at maximum warp, where they will be visiting Taurus II. She refuses to give more information, intending to rest in her quarters for the druation of the trip, but she warns them not to respond to hails as they travel.
A’Mathi studies the shuttle and concludes the damage is due to it being piloted at speed through a meteoroid swarm, and possibly other navigational hazards. He sets his team to fixing the problems and cleaning up the scars, ahead of returning the shuttle to the Calico. Pryce, meanwhile, has Nossaag set two guards on Stoker’s door, to give him some warning if she leaves.
The trip to Murasaki 312 is uneventful, giving the crew a chance to learn more about their destination. Despite preparing for the ion storms and other anomalies surrounding the nebula, Lexington experiences a cascading series of electrical and mechanical failures as she enters the glowing clouds, keeping the damage control teams on their feet.
Stoker arrives on the bridge, trailing her guards, as the bridge crew tries to make sense of the sensor sweeps of the planet, which are returning widely different results with each scan. Some are indicating a desert world, some a tropical paradise, with others showing vast snowy plains or grassy savanahs. At least one shows extensive civilisation.
Stoker explains that the nebula is the origin of signals resembling those from Bacchus IV. She wants a landing party to survey the area around the Galileo crash site, looking for more evidence of the ancient civilisation. She also points out that it would be a good idea to recover the remains of both the stricken shuttlecraft and the two Enterprise crewmen that died there, as they are a potential source of Prime Directive violation.
About three hours after the landing party beams down, sensors indicate the approach of another vessel at high speed. Moments later, the U.S.S. Charles D. Walcott drops out of warp off Lexington’s bow, shields still corruscating from the effects of the nebula. Immediately, there is a hail from Captain Skaarsen, asking if they’ve encountered Commodore Stoker, as she is suspected of having sabotaged the U.S.S. Calico and stolen her shuttlecraft.
Pryce looks at the Commodore in confusion, whereupon she snaps back at Skaarsen, telling her to back off and cease interfering in a “highly sensitive and classified” expedition. Skaarsen refuses, emphasising that they have been ordered to bring her in. Stoker cuts the communication and orders Pryce to disable Walcott. When the captain refuses, Stoker attempts to assume direct command of the vessel, ordering the crew to relieve him of command and open fire on the smaller ship.
They choose to back Pryce, who immediately orders the guards to bring Stoker to the ready room, where he demands to know exactly what’s going on. Taking a deep breath, she begins to relate the story of her son’s condition and her own, and of her quest to discover its true origin. She tells Pryce of the extradimensional intelligence trying to make contact and the conspiracy she believes exists within Starfleet to prevent it succeeding.
The red alert siren goes off as Walcott fires a photon torpedo at Lexington, causing serious damage to the engines. Ordering Stoker confined to quarters, Pryce scrambles onto the bridge, and orders Ensign Bhavani to fire phasers, targeting the attacker’s own engines. The Barzan’s first shots miss the nimble ship as it twists out of the way. Pryce hails them, asking them why they’re attacking a much larger ship. Skaarsen replies that they had failed to hand over the wanted woman as requested, forcing them to take more drastic measures.
Adred begins evasive manouevres and Walcott’s follow-up shots splash harmlessly on the shields, as Pryce fails to get them to back down. Bhavani fires again, inflicting considerable damage to the smaller ship’s engines, and Walcott speeds off, her damaged engines still providing a significant turn of speed.
Once the landing party are back aboard, Pryce sends an encrypted communication to Sector Command at Starbase 10, requesting information about Stoker’s status. A few hours later, a reply arrives from Rear Admiral Mendez, asking them to keep Stoker confined. He explains that Stoker’s actions have shown her to be under the influence of a non-human intelligence, and that, until its motivations are confirmed, it must be considered potentially hostile. He does, however, want them to continue to investigate the ancient civilisation’s sites: Stoker seems to be correct in that they’re obviously connected, sources of great power and potentially a threat to the galactic status quo.
The ‘B’ Plot: A’Mathi and Nossaag are assigned to the landing party, taking Dr Schneider and Lietenant jg Mettus with them, along with a pair of security staff. Given the proven effect of the nebula on impulse systems, they decide to risk the transporter.
Their arrival is a little awkard, courtesy of the ion storm raging through the region: A’Mathi lands in the path of a stampeding herd of buffalo-like animals, Mettus gets stuck between a tree and a low cliff, Schneider arrives in a patch of poisonous vegetation, and Nossaag appears in mid-air about 5 metres above ground. They recover from their various mishaps with minor injuries and rendezvous to try and locate the wreck of the Galileo. On their way, they discuss the apparent change in the environment since the shuttlecraft crashed, as Commander Spock reported a much drier climate.
Their tricorders lead them to a ravine in the nearby hills, and the wreckage is under a pile of vegetation a few hundred metres in, near a pair of unmarked graves. While the team are setting markers so that Lexington can beam up the remains, Mettus scans for Bacchus-style anomalies in the area. He notes the presence of what appears to be a village of the indigenous inhabitants nearby, then spots a strong energy source further up the ravine. Investigating, the party discovers a shimmering blue curtain of energy across the valley.
Suddenly, they hear the noise of children approaching. With nowhere else to go, and needing to avoid further Prime Directive contamination, A’Mathi leads them through the curtain. On the other side, the world is subtly different: the vegetation is thicker and greener, and the trail appears to be a carefully laid path. Nearby there appears to be a plaque with writing on it. Mettus performs more tricorder scans and identifies that there are plenty of hydrocarbon byproducts in the air, indicating an advanced industrial civilisation. Further scans show a lot of buildings in the area, and they soon spot what appears to be a paved highway. Other tricorder readings confirm that they are no longer in the same universe and that the energy barrier appears to have taken them between dimensions. Unfortunately, the energy curtain does not seem to exist in this world. Deciding it would be best not to be discovered by the locals, they begin looking for another energy curtain, eventually identifying one several kilometres away. The journey takes a while, as they keep to the more overgrown areas to avoid being spotted, although they have to cross an open park at one point, but they make it to the next curtain and step through.
This time, they find themselves in a tropical jungle, with no sign of civilisation. There’s another curtain nearby, so they head that way, and emerge in the middle of a busy town street. Oddly, the locals, all around 3 metres tall, don’t appear to be too surprised at their arrival, although their relative lack of height does cause some comment. As the party looks around, observing that they’ve emerged from a stone archway, and that the town itself appears to be of a late renaissance level of technology, they are approached by a woman, who introduces herself as Adreth.
Speaking in what appears to be a variant of Denobulan, she welcomes them to the town, and asks if they’ve come from another world. Realising that this society is already aware of other worlds, they admit that they are, and that they are lost. She explains that this is not unusual, and that she can take them somewhere where they can find their way home. Half-an-hour later, she leads them (and a curious gang of oversized children) to a central library, which contains guides and maps to the gateways between worlds. It doesn’t take them long, with the help of Adreth and the custodian, to work out their route back through several more worlds to their home dimension.
Setting out across the city, they begin a journey over about a dozen kilometres of the planet, and four dimensions, including a glacial age, eventually returning a few kilometres from their origin point. They finish taking their readings and return to Lexington.
Unfortunately, they find no evidence of the ancient civilisation or its technology. It looks like the anomalies of Murasaki 312 may be natural.
The Arc: Commodore Stoker’s interest in the ancient civilisation is finally explained. She has been following a voice in her head, which she believes is from an extradimensional intelligence trying to make contact, promising advanced technology to benefit the galaxy at large in return for her help. She has discovered that a large number of other people have also heard similar voices, including her son, and that they have been locked away in various medical institutions, diagnosed with mental conditions similar to schizophrenia. And she believes a conspiracy exists within Starfleet to suppress this information. She has been using Lexington and her crew to research ancient ruins she believes to be connected to the intelligence.
Starfleet appears to have been unaware of Stoker’s activities until recently, and only took action when she disabled U.S.S. Calico’s warp drive after her captain refused an order that would have put the crew in danger. Starfleet Intelligence is still trying to piece together the extent of Stoker’s research.
Observations: Taurus II appears to be a nexus point between alternate dimensions. Whether this is the result or the cause of the anomalies embedded in the Musrasaki 312 nebula is unclear. There are apparently a large number of alternate Taurus II civilisations, many of which trade with each other through the gateways. All variant Taureans are large compared to Humans, but few are as big as the ones that besieged Galileo.
Starbase 10 is a major fleet base located close to Orion space and the Klingon border. It bore the brunt of several serious attacks during the recent war with the Klingons.
U.S.S. Charles D. Walcott is an Archer-class scout, a small, very fast exploration vessel. She is named for the discoverer of the Burgess Shale on Earth.
Dialogue: Stoker, when challenged by the captain of Walcott: “Disable that ship!”
A’Mathi, when he discovers what Walcott did to Lexington’s engines: “I’ll recalibrate the Walcott’s captain’s head!”
References: Taurus II is a planet in the Murasaki 312 nebula, and is constantly exposed to a number of electromagnetic, ionic and subspace phenomena. The world was the scene of a crash-landing by Galileo, a shuttlecraft belonging to U.S.S. Enterprise, in 2269.
Questions: Are Stoker’s voices real, or a figment of a mental illness? Or are they something she’s made up to justify her actions? Will Pryce suffer any repercussions for the damage to Walcott?