The Displaced, Part I

Epis­ode Num­ber: 2×13

Writ­ten by: Jim Johnson

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 20th May 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Assessor Tredik: Mys­ter­i­ous res­id­ent, and appar­ent care­taker, of Can­did­ate Three’s ruins.
  • Com­mand­er Tomalak: Com­mand­ing officer of the Cast­orex and of the Romu­lan squadron.

Once again, we are docked at Nar­en­dra Sta­tion, while the engin­eer­ing staff com­pletes check­ing the hull for dam­age fol­low­ing our battle with the Cast­orex and high-speed depar­ture from Can­did­ate Three.

The sta­tion is at red alert con­di­tions and we’re on our way to anoth­er meet­ing with Admir­al Hebert, Gen­er­al Kar­gan, and the seni­or staffs of the oth­er allied ships sta­tioned here. I will admit to hav­ing a bad feel­ing about this: on top of the Romu­lans’ recent actions, news from the Alpha Quad­rant has not been good, and the rev­el­a­tion that the Domin­ion is using shape­shift­ing agents to imper­son­ate author­ity fig­ures is caus­ing para­noia even here on the edge of the Federation.

Still, I sus­pect we’re going to be ordered back to the Can­did­ate Three sys­tem, which suits me just fine. We left rather unwill­ingly, and I’d like to have some words with Assessor Tredik if I get the chance.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 48964.5

Plot: Cap­tain Kon­in leads the entire Star­fleet flo­tilla back to Can­did­ate Three, in an attempt to secure the Ancients’ advanced tech­no­logy against the Romu­lans and find out what is really going on.

The ‘A’ Plot: Fol­low­ing anoth­er week of repairs and inspec­tions, Kon­in and his seni­or staff are invited to anoth­er brief­ing on Nar­en­dra Sta­tion, again hos­ted by Admir­al Hebert and this time restric­ted to the seni­or officers of the flo­tilla and their Klin­gon coun­ter­parts. Sus­pect­ing poten­tial danger in the near future, Kon­in orders all non-essen­tial per­son­nel to evac­u­ate Lex­ing­ton. The crew are bemused when the secur­ity team guard­ing the doors to the aud­it­or­i­um take blood samples before admit­ting them.

The brief­ing begins with an update on the situ­ation in the Alpha Quad­rant, spe­cific­ally with regards to the ongo­ing ten­sions with the Domin­ion over the Bajor­an Worm­hole. After remind­ing the assembled officers of the events of the last year, Hebert emphas­ises the rev­el­a­tion that shape­shift­ing Domin­ion agents are sus­pec­ted to be at large across the Fed­er­a­tion and its neigh­bours. They have shown an interest in pro­vok­ing con­flicts at flash­points between the vari­ous powers, espe­cially since the fall of the Tal Shiar and the Obsidi­an Order. Officers are instruc­ted to be espe­cially care­ful in com­mu­nic­a­tions with unfriendly and neut­ral polit­ies. This is fol­lowed by some dis­cus­sion amongst the attendees about how to handle this extra level of secur­ity. Azon­an pro­fesses a con­cern that a power vacu­um at the top of the Romu­lan gov­ern­ment might encour­age com­mand­ers of bor­der fleets to make aggress­ive moves to improve their own stand­ing, thus mak­ing an armed con­flict more likely.

On that note, Gen­er­al Kar­gan steps for­ward to announce that Klin­gon Intel­li­gence has flagged an increas­ing amount of Romu­lan activ­ity in their space closest to Can­did­ate Three. In light of con­cerns that they are intend­ing to lay claim to that sec­tor, and the advanced tech­no­logy left behind by the Ancients, it has been decided that allied forces will pre-empt­ively claim the sys­tem, pre­vent­ing the Romu­lans from gain­ing a foothold. This will also enable them to estab­lish a form­al rela­tion­ship with the mys­ter­i­ous Assessor Tredik.

The Admir­al then announces that all three Star­fleet ves­sels, Lex­ing­ton, Bellero­phon and Thun­der­child, will be sent to achieve this object­ive, with Mup­wI’ remain­ing at Star­base 364 to provide pro­tec­tion in case the Romu­lans decide to strike at the sta­tion. She places Kon­in in charge of the flo­tilla, grant­ing him the tem­por­ary rank of fleet cap­tain for the dur­a­tion. He is to pre­vent the Star Navy from tak­ing con­trol of the sys­tem, but admon­ished to avoid start­ing a shoot­ing war if at all pos­sible. He leaves mut­ter­ing about con­flict­ing pri­or­it­ies; Akul claps him on the back and tells him to cheer up: “maybe the Romu­lan petaQ will start it for you!”

The flo­tilla departs from the sta­tion an hour later, hav­ing taken on addi­tion­al sup­plies, and heads in form­a­tion towards Can­did­ate Three.

They drop out of warp just out­side the sys­tem twelve hours later and are imme­di­ately hit by a wave of gra­vi­met­ric anom­alies, knock­ing out a num­ber of sys­tems across all three. On Lex­ing­ton, Quinn is thrown out of his seat and into a wall, break­ing an arm, while Zeph­t’s con­sole over­loads, for­cing him to move to an altern­ate sta­tion. As Quinn heads down to sick­bay and the dam­age con­trol teams work to bring the effects under con­trol, it is obvi­ous that things have changed in the sys­tem. The occa­sion­al flares of energy from the fre­quent energy dis­turb­ances in the area have evolved into col­our­ful clouds of exot­ic radi­ation and particles stretch­ing across mil­lions of kilometers.

Zepht and his coun­ter­parts on the oth­er ships get to work map­ping the anom­aly pat­terns in an attempt to build an algorithm to pre­dict their move­ments, as Kon­in receives a tele­path­ic con­tact from Assessor Tredik, express­ing pleas­ure at their return and a des­per­ate request for help sav­ing “them”. The cap­tain imme­di­ately calls a con­fer­ence with the oth­er cap­tains to relay the mes­sage and make plans.

Anoth­er wave of energy washes across them as a huge sub­space rift opens next to Can­did­ate Three II itself, dis­gor­ging an entire plan­et. While the bridge crew watches the spec­tacle in silence, Zepht rap­idly iden­ti­fies the inter­loper as Orgun III, the former home­world of the Lormeans. It has appar­ently been trans­por­ted across forty light years, but more sig­ni­fic­antly, it puts a time lim­it on their activ­it­ies: the two worlds will col­lide in a mat­ter of hours.

Zepht also notes that four Romu­lan war­birds have appeared on the far side of the sys­tem: appar­ently their cloak­ing devices have failed in the chaot­ic environment.

The cap­tains decide that they will divide their respons­ib­il­it­ies: Thun­der­child will ward off the Romu­lans, prefer­ably peace­fully, while Bellero­phon will land on Can­did­ate Three II, attempt­ing to assist Tredik and recov­er what they can of the arte­facts on the plan­et. Lex­ing­ton will attempt to shield the smal­ler ship from the worst of the ener­gies now sur­ging between the two plan­ets. Zepht will trans­fer to Bellero­phon to bring his expert­ise to bear on her mission.

As the three ships sep­ar­ate, Lex­ing­ton’s engin­eer­ing and sci­ence teams dis­cuss options for pro­tect­ing Bellero­phon’s mis­sion. There are two main haz­ards: tetry­on and gra­vi­met­ric energy waves dev­ast­at­ing the sur­face, and the impend­ing col­li­sion of the plan­ets them­selves. Delay­ing, or even pre­vent­ing, the col­li­sion seems impossible; the amount of energy required is bey­ond even Lex­ing­ton’s warp core’s cap­ab­il­it­ies, and Orgun III is begin­ning to break up from the stress of being so close to the lar­ger world. Quinn, hint­ing at a pri­or clas­si­fied event in his career, sug­gests that they may be able to slow down time loc­ally for Orgun III, caus­ing it to miss the lar­ger world, but they cal­cu­late that, iron­ic­ally, this would require more time to imple­ment than they have.

They decide to focus on some­how deflect­ing the stream of destruct­ive energy between the col­lid­ing worlds. Azon­an pro­poses mod­u­lat­ing the ship’s defens­ive shields to chan­nel energy into the ship’s Bus­sard scoops, then dis­char­ging it into deep space via the nav­ig­a­tion­al deflect­or. This would have the effect of redir­ect­ing it away from the sur­face of Can­did­ate Three II, giv­ing Bellero­phon more time to safely carry out her mis­sion. The cap­tain gives him per­mis­sion to get on with this project.

The ‘B’ Plot: Zepht arrives on Bellero­phon’s trans­port­er pad, bring­ing a small team of spe­cial­ists and a selec­tion of equip­ment with him. Meet­ing with Cap­tain Daak, he learns that the Intrep­id-class ves­sel will be phys­ic­ally land­ing as close as pos­sible to the site of the pri­or encounter with Assessor Tredik. Along with Zeph­t’s team, Daak intends to have a num­ber of away teams explor­ing the near vicin­ity with the inten­tion of recov­er­ing any arte­facts and data that may tell them more about the lost civil­isa­tion. He also pro­poses extend­ing the ship’s shields across the area to help pro­tect the teams from energy and met­eor dam­age. Zepht agrees this will help, but still intends to wear an envir­on­ment suit.

Bellero­phon’s conn officer announces blue alert pri­or to land­ing. The des­cent through Can­did­ate Three II’s atmo­sphere is rough, but the ship puts down safely, less than 400 metres from the pillared hall where the Lex­ing­ton team encountered Ash’tamalia. Sev­er­al secur­ity teams are beamed dir­ectly on to the sur­face, to be fol­lowed by oth­er teams as soon as they get the all-clear. Zepht and his group exit the ship by one of the board­ing ramps, head­ing dir­ectly towards the tower still fir­ing bursts of energy into the core of the Shack­leton Expanse.

About halfway there, they are hailed by Tredik them­self, who warns them they have little time and beck­ons the team to fol­low them into a pas­sage in a dif­fer­ent build­ing. Zepht attempts to get an assur­ance that they will be able to get away after help­ing, but the strange being seems dis­trac­ted and tells him only that all will be explained shortly. The pas­sage­way opens into an open air plaza, dom­in­ated by pentagon­al columns and a raised plinth. A holo­graph­ic rep­res­ent­a­tion of Ash’tamalia, or someone very much like them, sur­mounts the plinth, although Tredik points out this is only a dam­aged record­ing. Above them, the sky is full of the loom­ing bulk of Orgun III, with huge lumps of rock sep­ar­at­ing from its sur­face and begin­ning their fall to Can­did­ate Three.

Tredik quickly steers the away team down a second tun­nel, lead­ing at a steep angle into the ground. They emerge into an ancient con­trol room, over­look­ing a vast sub­ter­ranean cham­ber. Tredik shows them that the cham­ber con­tains tens of thou­sands of what appears to be sar­co­phagi, all attached to the sides of immense columns reach­ing deep into the plan­et. Many are illu­min­ated with tracer­ies of blue light, but many more are dark.

They explain that the sar­co­phagi con­tain the bod­ies of the Tilikaal, and that they have been in sus­pen­ded anim­a­tion for eons, their con­scious­nesses sep­ar­ated else­where. Tredik is their des­ig­nated pro­tect­or, and should be able to tele­port them to safety, but no longer has access to the power required to do this. They want Zepht and his team to help restore enough of the power con­nec­tions to enable this feat.

Zepht asks Tredik where they should begin.

The ‘C’ Plot: On the edges of the sys­tem, Thun­der­child moves smoothly between the col­oured streams of exot­ic energy. Cap­tain Pyan­far watches calmly as her oper­a­tions team scans the quar­tet of Romu­lan D’deri­dex-class war­birds ahead of them. Her tac­tic­al officer sur­veys the imme­di­ate envir­on­ment and lays out a plan to avoid dam­age from incom­ing fire, which she quietly approves. She reminds her bridge crew that they will be fight­ing only if neces­sary, and that, in that event, cas­u­al­ties are to be kept to a minimum.

She hails the Romu­lan squad­ron, and is a little sur­prised to be con­fron­ted with the notori­ous Com­mand­er Tomalak, last known to be oper­at­ing on the far side of the Empire. Nev­er­the­less, she informs him that the sys­tem and its inhab­it­ants are under the pro­tec­tion of Star­fleet, and that any offens­ive action would be returned in kind. Tomalak replies that he does not recog­nise Star­fleet’s author­ity in this region and that Thun­der­child would be best served by scur­ry­ing back to “that cer­et’s nest you call a star­base”. The con­ver­sa­tion con­tin­ues for sev­er­al minutes as Pyan­far plays for time and tries to get the Romu­lan to agree to a peace­ful res­ol­u­tion, but both sides are aware that this will end in only one fashion.

Sure enough, the four war­birds, which have been creep­ing closer dur­ing the nego­ti­ations, split into two pairs and begin to move to encircle the Star­fleet cruis­er. Pyan­far leans for­ward in her seat, her ears for­ward and tail begin­ning to twitch, and orders her fight­er squad­ron to launch. Eight small fight­ers emerge from Thun­der­child’s for­ward shut­tle­bay at speed, quickly mov­ing off into the sensor stat­ic gen­er­ated by the anomalies.

Then the Romu­lans open fire, ini­ti­at­ing hos­til­it­ies but fail­ing to score an impact in the chaot­ic environment.

The Arc: We dis­cov­er that the Ancients are actu­ally called the Tilikaal, but have been in sus­pen­ded anim­a­tion for tens of thou­sands of years. They appear to be a dis­tinct spe­cies from that of the Assessor.

Obser­va­tions: Fleet Cap­tain is tra­di­tion­ally a tem­por­ary rank held by flo­tilla and fleet com­mand­ers without a flag rank, but is also awar­ded as an hon­or­ary title to not­able officers for their achieve­ments, such as Garth of Izar and Chris­toph­er Pike.

Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Quinn alludes to hav­ing been involved in at least one clas­si­fied incid­ent involving tem­por­al tech­no­logy in his past.

Thun­der­child is car­ry­ing a squad­ron of Pegas­us-class fight­ers, which her cap­tain tasks with dis­tract­ing the Romu­lan tar­get­ing sys­tems. Cap­tain Daak notes that Bellero­phon is car­ry­ing trico­balt demoli­tion devices, if they’re required.

Ref­er­ences: Admir­al Hebert ref­er­ences events depic­ted in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine epis­ode “The Adversary”, when the crew of the U.S.S. Defi­ant dis­covered a Changeling infilt­rat­or aboard their ves­sel, nar­rowly avoid­ing start­ing a war with the Tzenkethi.

Orgun III was the home­world of the Lormeans, encountered by Lex­ing­ton early in her mis­sion. With their plan­et in danger of break­ing up due to Ancient tech­no­logy bur­ied deep with­in, Star­fleet has been help­ing evac­u­ate them to a neigh­bour­ing world over the last few months.

Com­mand­er Tomalak appeared as a nemes­is to Cap­tain Picard in sev­er­al epis­odes of Star Trek: the Next Gen­er­a­tion, played by the late, great Andreas Katsulas.

Ques­tions: Why are the Tilikaal in sus­pen­ded anim­a­tion, and where are their con­scious minds?