Episode Number: 1×11
Written by: The authors of the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 20th August 2022
- Lieutenant T’rhyn: Vulcan astrophysicist, Lexington’s chief science officer.
- Dr Hans Schneider: Human medical officer.
- Lieutenant Commander Gomez: Deceased former chief engineer of Lexington.
- Captain Parahk: Commander of the IKS Suv’chu (formerly commander of the IKS Ya’leth).
The “Lady Lex” is on her way to Beta Niobe on the orders of Starfleet Command. Beta Niobe exploded in a supernova about three months ago, killing the native population of its only planet, Sarpeidon.
According to classified records made available to us with these orders, however, the natives actually evacuated the planet by means of a time travel device known as the atavachron. Analysts believe this device used technology created by the ancient civilisation we have been investigating.
Given the resilience of much of this technology, it is hoped that some remnant of the device may have survived the explosion. We are to enter the nebula forming around the supernova remnant and hunt for surviving materials.
I can’t help imagining a very large burning haystack – containing a very small needle…Captain’s Log: Stardate, 5722.1
Plot: Lexington visits Beta Niobe, scene of a recent catastrophic supernova, to investigate the possibility that the now extinct local population had access to Ancient technology. When the ship becomes trapped in the anomalies caused by the expanding supernova remnant, the crew has to rely on an unexpected ally for help.
The ‘A’ Plot: As Lexington heads towards the Beta Niobe supernova remnant, the senior officers gather in the conference room to discuss the upcoming mission. Lt T’rhyn gives a presentation covering both public and classified data about Beta Niobe, Sarpeidon and the atavachron. In answer to questions about potential dangers, she explains that the former star system is now enveloped by high-temperature gas, pushing outwards led by an extremely hot shockwave. Warp drive will be unusable so close to the remnant itself, and other systems will be vulnerable to damage from heat and radiation effects. Shields will need to be maintained at full strength at all times. A’Mathi notes that his team will be on full alert for the duration of the mission.
As the vessel approaches the supernova remnant, they get their first detailed view of the glowing gas cloud. T’rhyn’s initial scans for Ancient technology quickly pick up a subspace signal of the type they are familiar with. With the source apparently located just inside the shockwave, the captain is keen to beam it aboard or tractor it from outside the cloud, but the distances are deceptive and this turns out to be impractical.
They are forced to enter the nebula, with Adred performing a complex manoeuvre to minimise the chances of damage to Lexington. Once inside, they find themselves several million kilometres from the subspace signal source and need to get closer in order to identify it. Multiple systems failures are already ensuring the engineering team is kept busy.
They begin to detect two ships closer to the source. At this range, they cannot identify them, but as they approach, they resolve into a Constitution-class vessel and a Klingon D7, and they appear to be fighting. Pryce orders red alert and Adred to move closer to the battle.
Nossaag heads to the bridge to assume his battle station, and exits the turbolift. Reaching his station, he begins to sit down, then staggers backwards when the chair apparently vanishes. He fetches up against the turbolift wall, and realises he has yet to enter the bridge, forcing him to repeat the whole process, although noone else notices.
As they get closer, sensors are able to identify the Starfleet vessel, but it appears to be USS Lexington. As they are processing this information, a cloud of gas obscures the scene. Once Adred has steered around it, the fighting ships have vanished. Confused, Pryce stands the crew down to yellow alert, keeping watch for the vanished Klingon vessel.
The impulse drive finally fails, making further progress impossible, although A’Mathi prioritises its repair.
On the bridge, proximity alerts begin sounding as a previously unseen asteroid explodes just off the starboard bow. T’rhyn notes that it looked like a photon torpedo detonation, but there are no other ships on sensors, and a cloaking device would be largely ineffective in this environment, making it unlikely to be the Klingon. Moments later, sensors pick up an asteroid on a collision course from the same direction. Without impulse drive, they cannot evade it, so the Captain orders it destroyed. Given its size, Nossaag opts to fire a photon torpedo, gambling that the reinforced shield will be able to resist the blast. He fires, but the torpedo and asteroid just disappear.
T’rhyn hypothesises that, as they have seen examples of time loops, and of a disconnect between cause and effect, the region may be subject to temporal anomalies. These may be caused either by the supernova itself, or side effects of the atavachron. Other crew members are reporting odd events as well, on some occasions before they actually happen.
A’Mathi is working inside a Jefferies tube when he feels an impact, hears a warp core overload siren and smells smoke. He descends to find the main engineering bay deserted, except for a lone figure working on the main console. A force field blocks off half the bay, which is open to space. The officer asks why he hasn’t evacuated, then says it doesn’t matter now as the doors are sealed, and he needs help ejecting the core to save the ship. A’Mathi, suspecting this is the previous chief engineer, Lt Cdr Gomez, helps him. Together they eject the core, which explodes almost immediately, bringing down the force field and ejecting them both into space. Just before he loses consciousness, A’Mathi spots a stricken Pryce looking into the bay through the window next to the main entrance. Then he comes to his senses, standing in the middle of an undamaged engineering bay, with a junior crewman asking him if he’s ok. He orders the crewman back to work and contacts the bridge to report that he’s actually seen the ghost…
With the impulse drive still out of action, the crew need to find an alternate way of moving the starship. A’Mathi suggests using the tractor beam to “swing” the vessel along using asteroids. T’rhyn agrees this may be possible, so Nossaag sets it up, initially targetting a nearby body. The process proves effective, though not very efficient, and Adred has to do some deft work to reorient the ship as they finally approach a large slab of planetary crust, about 50 km across. It shows signs of artificial structures and some kind of complex under the surface; sensors indicate the subspace signal emanates from within. T’rhyn speculates the complex may have been a subterranean bunker of some kind, blown off the surface of Sarpeidon in its entirety.
Realising shuttlecraft shields would quickly fail under the local conditions, they opt to use armoured spacesuits enhanced with personal forcefield generators, allowing them to use the transporters. Pointing out that the power reserves will only last an hour or so, A’Mathi prepares five suits, and Pryce, T’rhyn, Nossaag, Schneider and A’Mathi beam down into the bunker. T’rhyn quickly locates the souce of the signal, and after a half-hour of clambering through rubble-blocked zero-gravity tunnels, they do indeed find the atavachron, the time travel projector created by the Sarpeidons.
Tricorder scans indicate that the main portion is Ancient technology, interfaced to Sarpeidon control and power systems. T’rhyn confirms that the Ancient portion of the system could be fairly easily extracted from its surroundings, but Pryce wants to the Sarpeirdon control device and its connections as well. The party begins using phasers to cut into the surrounding structure, so they can free the devices and place pattern enhancers around them. The suits’ power supplies begin to fail, forcing them to rush to complete the project before they take too much damage. Following a brief discussion about who will stay to complete the work, Pryce orders Schneider, A’Mathi and Nossaag back to the ship, while he and Trhyn complete the extraction.
Ten minutes later, they place the final enhancers and beam it out, then request their own transports back to the ship.
Pryce arrives on the pad, and immediately throws up from the radiation. Looking around, he sees the transporter chief still trying to bring T’rhyn aboard. Commander Shiva informs him that the science department have discovered that the supernova remnant is beginning to collapse into a black hole, and Lexington is too close to be able to get away from its gravitational field. Unfortunately, A’Mathi, suffering from radiation burns of his own, is reporting that impulse drive is still not working, and without it they will be unable to escape the singularity. Pryce staggers out of the transporter room towards the bridge, but collapses, subsequently awakening in sickbay after the mission.
The transporter chief, meanwhile, is unable to get a lock on T’rhyn. With the planetary fragment being drawn out of range by the increasing pull of the evolving black hole, she tells Lexington to abandon her. Shiva is reluctantly forced to agree to ensure the safety of the ship and her crew.
At this point, sensors pick up the arrival of another starship: a Klingon D7 battlecruiser.
Despite their weakened state, Shiva orders red alert, , but then they receive a communication from the cruiser. The face of Captain Parahk of the IKS Suv’chu, formerly of the IKS Ya’leth, appears on the screen: noting that he owes Captain Pryce a favour, he offers to tow them out of the danger zone, which Shiva gratefully accepts.
The episode ends with the memorial service for T’rhyn.
The Arc: Another Ancient artefact of the week. It seems that the Sarpeidons’ atavachron used Ancient technology.
Observations: The Lexington Ghost is real, sort of. A’Mathi experiences either some kind of timeslip or a place memory in which he meets Lieutenant Commander Gomez, chief engineer during the M5 wargames. He also witnesses the circumstances of his death.
Dialogue: A’Mathi: “I suggest evacuation of all non-essential personnel.”
Dr Schneider: “Oh! That’s me!”
References: Before the supernova, Beta Niobe was the home of the Sarpeidon civilisation, seen in “All our Yesterdays”. Much of the data regarding Sarpeidon and the atavachron itself is from the logs of Captain Kirk, and has been classified by the DTI, due to its connection to time travel.
Starfleet’s Department of Temporal Investigations is mentioned by T’rhyn during her briefing.