Episode Number: 2×13
Written by: Jim Johnson
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 20th May 2023
- 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?