Call Back Yesterday

Epis­ode Num­ber: 3×04

Writ­ten by: Chris­toph­er L. Bennett

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 29th June 2023

Intro­du­cing: Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­er Jim Raynor.

Guest Stars:

  • Major Kon­reth: Romu­lan Tal Shiar officer.
  • Doc­tor Varalek: Romu­lan Tal Shiar sci­ence specialist.
  • K’tosh: Mem­ber of the Klin­gon High Coun­cil, rep­res­ent­ing the House of Kang.

I have sent my seni­or officers to the Zeta Gracha sys­tem to invest­ig­ate an ancient ruined city on its sev­enth plan­et. Pre­vi­ous sur­veys have shown the plan­et to be unin­hab­ited, aban­doned by its nat­ive civil­iz­a­tion as its star swelled into a red giant, but the archi­tec­ture has some sim­il­ar­it­ies to that of the Tilikaal. The city is in the south­ern polar regions, still cool enough to be habitable.

Zeta Gracha is with­in reach of the Romu­lan Neut­ral Zone, and the Romu­lans appear to be tak­ing an aggress­ive stance regard­ing poten­tial Tilikaal sites. They have not yet ven­tured this far into the Expanse, but the team has been warned to keep its guard up anyway.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 49143.7

Plot: Romu­lan inter­fer­ence with a sur­vey exped­i­tion to an aban­doned world exposes the team to per­son­al trau­mas, and leads to unex­pec­ted violence.

The ‘A’ Plot: The run­about U.S.S. Zam­bezi drops out of warp on the edge of Zeta Gracha, a sys­tem dom­in­ated by a glower­ing red star. Aboard are Lieu­ten­ant Com­mand­ers Zepht, Quinn, and Azon­an, along with Lex­ing­ton’s new secur­ity chief, James Raynor. Con­cerned about the poten­tial Romu­lan pres­ence they were warned of, they carry out sev­er­al detailed scans of the sys­tem before approach­ing the sev­enth plan­et. Their mis­sion is to exam­ine the remains of the nat­ive civil­isa­tion and determ­ine if there is any con­nec­tion to the Tilikaal.

Scan­ning the world from orbit, they loc­ate their tar­get, a ruined city on the south­ern­most con­tin­ent, and enter the atmo­sphere for a closer look. The sensors are pick­ing up scattered life, mostly below the sur­face and away from the burn­ing sun. Azon­an won­ders if there are cav­ern sys­tems beneath the sur­face, but Zepht has not iden­ti­fied any­thing bey­ond what appear to be ser­vice tun­nels under the city.

Choos­ing a suit­able open area, Quinn brings the Zam­bezi in for a land­ing. Zepht begins a detailed ana­lys­is of the atmo­sphere, con­firm­ing that it con­tains enough tox­ins to make life unpleas­ant for unpro­tec­ted humanoids, so they opt for envir­on­ment suits with built-in fil­ters. Thus equipped, they set out to begin their survey.

Zepht quickly comes to the con­clu­sion that none of the ruins are Tilikaal in ori­gin. While the shapes of door­ways and build­ing foot­prints share that cul­ture’s obses­sion with five- and sev­en-sided shapes, many oth­er ele­ments of their archi­tec­ture are not present, includ­ing the ubi­quit­ous energy-chan­nel­ing grooves in the walls. Curi­ous about this extinct civil­isa­tion, he pushes to con­tin­ue their explor­a­tion, and they press on.

Some time later, Raynor becomes aware that some­thing is mov­ing close to him. As he looks more closely, a large flight­less, bird-like creature bursts out of the ground towards him. He reacts quickly, stun­ning it with his phaser before it hits him, but more emerge close to the oth­er officers. Zepht is also able to stun his attack­er, but Quinn finds him­self in a hand-to-beak struggle with yet anoth­er. Azon­an fights off anoth­er bird with his ush­aan-tor, before Raynor is able to res­cue Quinn with a well-placed phaser. Extens­ive tri­cord­er scans show that there are no more of the creatures lying in wait, so the group move on.

Before long, Raynor becomes aware of furt­ive move­ment amongst the more dis­tant ruins. Although his tri­cord­er shows no sign of life, he’s wary of fur­ther attacks by the nat­ive life­forms, so he begins to watch more act­ively. Quinn and Zepht seem to pick up his ten­sion, respond­ing in kind, while Azon­an shakes his head, con­vinced he can hear faint alarm klax­ons. Over the next few minutes, each mem­ber of the party exper­i­ences more odd events, each becom­ing immersed in a memory from their own past.

Zepht finds him­self on a busy street in San Fran­cisco on Earth. Hear­ing a low rumble and feel­ing a tremor, he turns to look out to sea, noti­cing a wall of water head­ing towards the city. Dis­aster alarms begin to sound, and he helps escort people through trans­port­er booths to safety, before look­ing for strag­glers. As the tsunami strikes, caus­ing dam­age to a num­ber of build­ings, he spots a Klin­gon war­ri­or trapped under a fallen pil­lar, in the path of the onrush­ing water. Going to assist, he levers the pil­lar far enough aside that the Klin­gon can pull him­self free, then leads him to safety on an upper floor as the wave washes over the street. Then he is knocked out by fall­ing rubble.

Azon­an finds him­self part of a dam­age con­trol team aboard a battered star­ship. Alarms sound­ing, he and his col­leagues are dir­ec­ted to assist with a plasma leak in the engin­eer­ing sec­tion. As they approach, they find fire­fight­ing teams bat­tling an intense plasma fire eman­at­ing from an EPS con­duit. The situ­ation super­visor points out that there’s a con­trol valve fur­ther up the cor­ridor but that the fire is block­ing access. Azon­an imme­di­ately volun­teers to try to get to the valve, and suits up in pro­tect­ive gear. He makes it past the fire, but the con­trols are very close to the leak. He is badly burned as he closes it, before passing out from the pain.

Quinn is at the conn of a small escort, lying in wait in the ring sys­tem of a gas giant. As their tar­get comes into view, his com­mand­er cau­tions him to wait for her com­mand, but his eager­ness gets the bet­ter of him. He ini­ti­ates a com­plex man­oeuvre, aim­ing to come around the back of a nearby moon to hit the ship from the oth­er side but, as the ves­sel crosses the oth­er­’s wake, it is hit by heavy fire from the oppos­ite dir­ec­tion. Quinn is thrown out of his seat and hits his head on a bulk­head, slump­ing to the floor unconscious.

Raynor is lead­ing a squad of ground troops through the ruined streets of a colony town, alert for poten­tial attack­ers. See­ing a group of Car­das­si­an sol­diers approach­ing, he orders his group to take cov­er and open fire. Dur­ing the fire­fight, he spots a pair of enemy com­mandoes bypassing their defences at the far end of a cross street. He takes two troops with him to inter­cept, hav­ing to dodge phaser fire to do so. He suc­ceeds in stop­ping them reach­ing his com­mand­er­’s post, but is hit by a stray shot and loses consciousness.

The four of them awaken in a sub­ter­ranean cham­ber, fenced in by a force-field gen­er­ated by six pil­lars. Bey­ond the field is a make­shift labor­at­ory, where a Romu­lan woman in a Tal Shiar uni­form works with a metal­lic sphere. Four guards watch the pris­on­ers as they­in turn sur­vey the scene for poten­tial weaknesses.

Azon­an thinks he may be able to deac­tiv­ate part of the field if he can get at one of the pil­lars, as they seem to be rather impro­vised. Zepht, mean­while has been study­ing the script on the Romu­lan’s readouts, lead­ing him to believe the spher­ic­al device is Fer­engi in ori­gin, although he does not recog­nise it.

As they start to fig­ure out an escape plot, anoth­er Tal Shiar officer enters, demand­ing a report on Doc­tor Varalek’s pro­gress. She responds that the device has issues work­ing at range, but now that she has the test sub­jects in the room, she should be able to cal­ib­rate it more effect­ively. He demands she work faster, then ignor­ing her protests, turns to inform the cap­tives that they will be the first to fall before the bril­liance of the Star Empire, before he leaves the room.

Real­ising their time is lim­ited, the cap­tives enact their plan: Azon­an and Raynor start a fake fight, which res­ults in the Andori­an “acci­dent­ally” fall­ing to the floor next to one of the pil­lars. Shiel­ded by the oth­ers arguing with each oth­er about the fight, he begins break­ing into the circuitry.

He makes short work of the force field, and the pris­on­ers break out, launch­ing them­selves at the guards before they can bring their dis­ruptors to bear. Unfor­tu­nately, Varalek real­ises what’s hap­pen­ing and activ­ates the spher­ic­al device, plunging the cap­tives back into their memor­ies. Now that he is aware of the nature of the illu­sion, Zepht is able to break free of its influ­ence, and real­ises that the Romu­lans have been affected as well. He quickly helps Raynor and Quinn to over­come the machine’s influ­ence, but Azon­an proves harder to rouse, curled up into a foet­al position.

With the Romu­lans start­ing to recov­er them­selves as well, Zepht decides that secur­ing the room is a pri­or­ity. A couple of the guards are able to fight back, but once Raynor is able to reach the con­fis­cated phasers, the fight is over. They even man­age to catch the com­mand­ing officer, Major Kon­reth, ambush­ing him as he leads more sol­diers to join the fight.

Zepht shuts the device off, allow­ing Azon­an to recov­er, though he’s obvi­ously in great pain. See­ing Varalek, the Andori­an charges straight at her, blam­ing her for dredging up his suf­fer­ing. Des­pite efforts by the oth­ers to restrain him, he knocks her to the floor, then grabs his ush­an-tor. To Zeph­t’s hor­ror, he then leans down and stabs her. The Den­ob­u­lan tries to save her, but is unable to stop the bleed­ing as she dies.

Real­ising that there will be oth­er Romu­lans around, Zepht announces that they need to leave. They des­troy the sphere and, tak­ing Kon­reth as a host­age, head back to the Zam­bezi. Tak­ing off, they man­age to avoid a decloak­ing Romu­lan sci­ence ves­sel and jump to warp. Azon­an announces that he will sub­mit to justice when they reach the sta­tion, and spends the trip star­ing out of the win­dows, lost in his own thoughts.

The Arc: The away team is des­patched to Zeta Gracha as its archi­tec­ture shows Tilikaal design fea­tures. Unfor­tu­nately, this turns out to be a red herring.

Obser­va­tions: Zeta Gracha is a star evolving into a red giant, slowly incin­er­at­ing its depend­ent plan­ets. The sev­enth was once an M‑class world, home to a thriv­ing civil­isa­tion that may have achieved warp drive, but now it’s full of empty, ruined cit­ies. It is hot, with a dense, humid atmo­sphere, and grav­ity 20% high­er than Earth, but is bear­able dur­ing the night.

Azon­an served on the Ambas­sad­or-class U.S.S. Doneg­al dur­ing the end of the Car­das­si­an Wars. Badly-dam­aged dur­ing a skir­mish with three Gal­or-class cruis­ers, Doneg­al limped home, suf­fer­ing numer­ous sys­tems fail­ures. Azon­an suffered severe burns fight­ing a plasma fire, lead­ing to a phase pulse infec­tion, which nearly killed him and forced a lengthy peri­od in med­ic­al rehabiliation.

One of Quin­n’s early assign­ments was as a conn officer on one of a group of small escorts hunt­ing pir­ates on the edges of the Fed­er­a­tion. Already devel­op­ing a repu­ta­tion for impuls­ive actions, he pre-empted his com­mand­er­’s orders, ambush­ing a pir­ate ves­sel earli­er than planned. Unfor­tu­nately, the tar­get was accom­pan­ied by three more ships, and his ves­sel was dev­ast­ated by their return fire. Dis­aster was aver­ted thanks to the pres­ence of the rest of the escort squadron.

Zepht was a juni­or adjut­ant attend­ing a dip­lo­mat­ic con­fer­ence in San Fran­cisco when a siz­able earth­quake and an accom­pa­ny­ing tsunami struck. Able to aid a Klin­gon dip­lo­mat in a fash­ion that did not com­prom­ise his hon­our, he gained a life-long friend in K’tosh of House Kang, now a mem­ber of the Klin­gon High Council.

Raynor fought for Star­fleet dur­ing the Car­das­si­an Wars, and led squads clear­ing occupy­ing sol­diers out of newly-recap­tured towns. He was nearly killed while stop­ping Car­das­si­an spe­cial forces from des­troy­ing his cap­tain’s com­mand post.

Ref­er­ences: The Tal Shiar appear to have acquired a pair of “thought makers”, a for­bid­den tech­no­logy first seen in the epis­ode “The Battle”.

Ques­tions: What will be the fal­lout of Azon­an’s actions?