The Assessor Gambit, Part II

Epis­ode Num­ber: 2×12

Writ­ten by: Jim Johnson

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 6th May 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Sub­com­mand­er Rath­ar: Exec­ut­ive officer of the Romu­lan war­bird Cast­orex.
  • Assessor Tredik: Mys­ter­i­ous res­id­ent, and appar­ent care­taker, of Can­did­ate Three’s ruins.
  • Ash’tamalia of the Tilikaal.
  • Lieu­ten­ant Lojeea Kon­in: Engin­eer on Star­base 364, and Cap­tain Kon­in’s daughter.
  • Lieu­ten­ant Qumoch: Second officer of the Mup­wI’.

We’ve been ordered to invest­ig­ate Romu­lan oper­a­tions in the HIP 73788 sys­tem (also des­ig­nated “Can­did­ate Three”), close to the known extent of the bor­der. As we were also to invest­ig­ate the over­sized third plan­et of the sys­tem, which seems to be the source of a lot of loc­al anom­alies, I’ve taken a small party to the sur­face. Unfor­tu­nately, it looks like the Romu­lans got here first, and they seem to have made first con­tact with an unknown species.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 48943.8

Plot: Cap­tain Kon­in and his away team battle a Romu­lan pla­toon for access to an ancient ruin hous­ing ali­en technology.

The ‘A’ Plot: Cap­tain Kon­in remains care­fully hid­den, though with a clear view of the Romu­lan sol­diers, as he replies tele­path­ic­ally to the tall being, ask­ing if they need assist­ance. The being, call­ing them­self Assessor Tredik, says they do not believe so.

Sud­denly, the Romu­lan lead­er, Sub­com­mand­er Rath­ar, looks straight at Kon­in’s hid­ing place, and sig­nals his troops. They begin mov­ing in his dir­ec­tion, spread­ing out to encircle his pos­i­tion. Real­ising he’s been spot­ted, the cap­tain quickly reports his situ­ation to the oth­ers, then tries to nego­ti­ate, inform­ing Rath­ar that although the two polit­ies are rivals, it might bene­fit both sides to explore this world jointly.

Rath­ar responds with the same bluster Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Quinn encountered on Seku VI, declar­ing that the Lex­ing­ton has intruded into space annexed by the Romu­lan Star Empire. He regrets that he does not have the author­ity to grant them per­mis­sion to be there, but des­pite their pres­ence being an “act of war”, he will allow them to leave unharmed.

Kon­in asks why the annex­a­tion does not appear to have been form­ally announced, as he has heard noth­ing via the dip­lo­mat­ic chan­nels, but Rath­ar responds that dip­lomacy is not the respons­ib­il­ity of the Romu­lan Star Navy.

When Kon­in refuses to sur­render, the Romu­lan lead­er orders his men to take him cap­tive. The cap­tain quickly sig­nals the rest of his team to take up pos­i­tions flank­ing the advan­cing sol­diers. Then he tries to put a call in to the ship to request rein­force­ments, but Com­mand­er Zohir replies that Lex­ing­ton is cur­rently facing down the Romu­lan war­bird Cast­orex and is not in a pos­i­tion to assist.

Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Zepht moves to a door­way in the ruined wall, then smartly steps back as he spots a Romu­lan com­ing the oth­er way. He tries to grapple the sol­dier, suc­ceed­ing in get­ting a basic hold, before Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Azon­an, close behind, threatens to stab him with his ush­aan-tor. The Romu­lan sens­ibly sur­renders. A second sol­dier appears around the end of the wall and fires his dis­ruptor rifle, injur­ing Zepht, but Azon­an charges and hits him with the flat of his ice pick, knock­ing him out.

Kon­in, Mas­ter Chief Boone and Crew­man Ser­valan are involved in a fire­fight with the main part of Rath­ar’s squad, who are slowly advan­cing, fir­ing their dis­ruptor rifles. Boone lays down cov­er­ing fire, mak­ing it harder for the Romu­lans to achieve any level of accur­acy as they dodge his shots. The oth­ers pick off indi­vidu­al sol­diers with aimed phaser fire, but they con­tin­ue to advance. The tide of battle turns when Zepht (doing his best to ignore his dis­ruptor burn) and Azon­an get into pos­i­tion, catch­ing the sol­diers in a cross­fire. Rath­ar, real­ising the fight is lost, van­ishes in a trans­port­er beam, and the last sol­dier drops his weapon and raises his hands.

While Boone and Azon­an tie up the stunned pris­on­ers, and Ser­valan attends to Zeph­t’s injury, Kon­in goes look­ing for Tredik. He’s unable to find the tall being and real­ises that he prob­ably hid when the fight­ing started.

Not­ing that the plasma energy streams all con­verge on the build­ing in front of them, Zepht enters and dis­cov­ers a large pillared hall with a carved column stand­ing on a pentagon­al dais at its centre. His tri­cord­er shows that the energy is being gathered in the ceil­ing and the column, but the levels involved exceed its meas­ur­ing cap­ab­il­it­ies. A shim­mer­ing shaft of blue energy is swirl­ing in front of the column, resem­bling a trans­port­er mater­i­al­isa­tion effect, but some­thing is pre­vent­ing it from resolv­ing. He calls in Azon­an, who real­ises some­thing in the cent­ral pil­lar is out of align­ment. With the cap­tain’s per­mis­sion and Zeph­t’s help, he quickly fixes the problem.

After some tun­ing, the swirl­ing cloud of energy soon resolves into a holo­graph­ic pro­jec­tion of a tall andro­gyn­ous humanoid with small wings. The being seems to react to their pres­ence and reaches out to them, before speak­ing: “I am Ash’Tamalia, of the Tilikaal. We are trapped and need your help! Please – can you…”. Their voice is cut off as energy surges up the pil­lar, releas­ing a blind­ing flash. Ser­valan and Boone, out­side the build­ing, see a pulse of blue plasma pro­jec­ted off into deep space.

Kon­in turns and sees Tredik stand­ing in the door­way. The Assessor informs Kon­in tele­path­ic­ally that “it is not yet time” and that the Star­fleet officers must leave imme­di­ately. They make an odd ges­ture and the mem­bers of the away team find them­selves back on the bridge of the Lex­ing­ton, which appears to have suffered battle dam­age. Zohir brings them up to date on his battle with the Romu­lans, while Azon­an mut­ters under his breath and gets to work on repairs. Zepht sits down at ops and attempts to fig­ure out what just happened, track­ing the plasma pulse into the depths of the Expanse.

Kon­in again hears Tredik, say­ing there is much to pre­pare and that it is not safe for them to remain. Zepht announces that a powe­ful energy field has just appeared around the plan­et, then space appears to fold up like an ori­gami flower around them. Moments later, it unfolds again and the Can­did­ate Three sys­tem has been replaced by Nar­en­dra Sta­tion. Although there is moment­ary con­cern that the sta­tion has been brought to the sys­tem, Zeph­t’s read­ings show that Lex­ing­ton has been returned over a dis­tance of 30 light years in seconds. Mup­wI’ is loc­ated around three kilo­met­ers away, hav­ing also been transported.

Vice Admir­al Hebert calls them, demand­ing to know what’s going on and Kon­in explains that it appears they have been to have been evacu­lated from the sys­tem by a power­ful entity, but that they still need time to eval­u­ate their dis­cov­er­ies. Hebert requests a full debrief as soon as possible.

The ‘B’ Plot: In orbit around the plan­et, the crew of Lex­ing­ton are sur­prised when a huge war­bird decloaks dir­ectly in front of them. With the shields up, they are unable to assist with the away team’s battle, and then the war­bird opens fire on them. Lex­ing­ton takes mod­er­ate dam­age, but the shields are able to hold until the arrival of Mup­wI’, which drives the Romu­lans off.

The ‘C’ Plot: Two crew mem­bers have been recom­men­ded for medals after recent mis­sions, and anoth­er is due for pro­mo­tion. Cap­tain Kon­in organ­ises a com­bined award and pro­mo­tion cere­mony in the ship’s for­ward lounge, to be fol­lowed by a form­al din­ner, which takes place the even­ing after their return to the star­base. A num­ber of not­ables are invited, includ­ing the admir­al, Akul and two of the seni­or officers from Mup­wI’, and Lieu­ten­ant Lojeea Kon­in, the cap­tain’s daugh­ter. Cap­tain Pyan­far of Thun­der­child attends by remote holo­gram, as her ship is mon­it­or­ing Romu­lan activity.

The pro­ceed­ings begin with the award of The Star­fleet Dec­or­a­tion for Gal­lantry to Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Zepht for his actions on Seku VI, and The Star Cross to Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Azon­an for sav­ing the ship at Alpha Tory­ui III. Finally, Selvek is pro­moted to full Lieu­ten­ant. They settle down to the meal in a civ­il­ised fash­ion, but later cel­eb­ra­tions get more rauc­ous. Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Quinn takes on Lieu­ten­ant Qumoch in a drink­ing con­test – they both fall uncon­scious with­in seconds of each oth­er. Zohir leaves early, plead­ing a pri­or appoint­ment on the station.

The Arc: It appears we have finally met the Tilikaal, although we know little about them except for their appear­ance. It is unclear where Assessor Tredik fits in their soci­ety, if at all.

Obser­va­tions: Assessor Tredik seems to prefer to com­mu­nic­ate by tele­pathy, and Kon­in is the only per­son to con­verse with them. Oddly, he’s also the only per­son to see them.

Dia­logue: Kon­in responds to Rath­ar’s ulti­mat­um: “I might not have grown tired of war, but the Fed­er­a­tion feels differently.”

The pro­jec­tion speaks: “I am Ash’Tamalia, of the Tilikaal. We are trapped and need your help! Please – can you…”

Ref­er­ences: The Romu­lan ves­sel Cast­orex is a D’deri­dex-class war­bird, more than twice the length of Lex­ing­ton.

Sub­com­mand­er Rath­ar was pre­vi­ously seen on Seku VI. Exec­ut­ive officer on the Cast­orex, he’s not a fan of dip­lomacy, pre­fer­ring to intim­id­ate through super­i­or numbers.

Ques­tions: Are the Tilikaal imprisoned some­where? Assessor Tredik appears to be a dif­fer­ent spe­cies: how are they connected?