The Needs of the Few, Part I

Epis­ode Num­ber: 4×01

Writ­ten by: Derek Tyler Attico

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 10th Feb­ru­ary 2024

It has been one month since the Klin­gon Empire declared war, and I lost con­trol of Star­base 364 after a short but bru­tal battle. Ten days later, Gowron’s forces launched a gen­er­al assault along the fron­ti­er, put­ting Star­fleet’s defence pre­par­a­tions to the test.

The pres­sure on my crews is high. While the con­flict here is quiet, every per­son knows someone on a ves­sel on the front­line: a fam­ily mem­ber, an academy friend, a former crew­mate. We get little com­mu­nic­a­tion from the home sec­tors, and what little there is is high-level stra­tegic data. There is little band­width for battle reports or cas­u­alty lists. The coun­sel­lors are earn­ing their pips now. Des­pite the dis­trac­tions, every crew mem­ber seems determ­ined to do their duty. I am proud of them.

I thank God that we only lost two star­ships in the battle, along with a single run­about and four fight­ers, and that per­son­nel losses were low, but the Twen­ti­eth Fleet is scattered. Each ves­sel is doing its best to pro­tect an assigned group of Fed­er­a­tion colon­ies, but on this side of the Klin­gon Empire, I am oper­at­ing with min­im­al sup­port from out­dated fron­ti­er star­bases. With my main sup­ply route cut off, I am rely­ing on neut­ral parties such as the Fer­engi, the Rigel­lians and the Ori­ons, but this is prov­ing costly. Stra­tegic­ally I am lim­ited: even with the KDF dis­trac­ted by their inva­sion, I can­not coun­ten­ance any attempt to retake the sta­tion. I am lim­ited to har­ass­ing trade routes, in the hope that they will find it too costly to remain.

Oper­a­tion Dia­mond Hedge is sus­pen­ded, I can­not spare any resource at this time. How­ever, explor­a­tion and pathfind­ing con­tin­ues, and my cap­tains have per­mis­sion to gath­er data as long as it does not delay their assigned mis­sions. Cur­rently, I have two stra­tegic object­ives. Open­ing up a route to Deep Space 6, per Cap­tain Kon­in’s sug­ges­tion, will rees­tab­lish both sup­ply lines and com­mu­nic­a­tions, so must be a pri­or­ity. Much of my time is occu­pied with nego­ti­ations with rep­res­ent­at­ives of the Romu­lan Star Empire: at present, they appear to be rigidly hold­ing to their neut­ral­ity, but I am hope­ful that I can per­suade them that skirt­ing their bor­ders is no threat. This will take time, how­ever, so loc­al alli­ances with­in the Expanse remain import­ant: I am attempt­ing to improve rela­tions with the Akaru and look­ing for oth­er poten­tial trad­ing part­ners – or allies.

Admir­al’s Log: Stard­ate, 50065.8

Plot: A month after the Battle of Nar­en­dra Sta­tion, Lex­ing­ton is dis­patched to find a safe route to remote Fed­er­a­tion colon­ies. While invest­ig­at­ing unusu­al sig­nals from an unin­hab­ited sys­tem, the crew dis­cov­er a legendary life-form, and a hos­tile new civilisation.

The ‘A’ Plot: One month after the Battle of Nar­en­dra Sta­tion, fol­low­ing end­less patrols and sup­ply runs, Admir­al Hebert calls Kon­in into a meet­ing. He soon emerges and informs the crew that they are going back to explor­ing the Shack­leton Expanse, albeit in a restric­ted fash­ion. The admir­al has ordered them to map out a safe and secure sup­ply route through the Expanse, in order to recon­nect the two halves of the Fed­er­a­tion pres­ence in the region. They are per­mit­ted to con­duct nor­mal research and explor­a­tion, includ­ing for Pro­ject Dia­mond Hedge, as long as it does not inter­fere with or delay their primary mission.

The ship is soon under­way, mov­ing in a deep arc through the unin­hab­ited parts of the Expanse, map­ping out a route free of the grav­it­a­tion­al anom­alies plaguing much of the region, while secure from poten­tial Klin­gon raiders.

A week in to the voy­age, Zepht detects what sounds like a dis­tress call com­ing from an unex­plored sys­tem a few light years away. With the cap­tain rest­ing due to per­sist­ent tele­path­ic back­ground noise, Com­mand­er Zohir is in the chair, and he reas­ons that respond­ing will not viol­ate their mis­sion para­met­ers, espe­cially if it leads to first con­tact with a poten­tially friendly cul­ture. Zepht is not able to trans­late the sig­nal as they approach. He feels that it is def­in­itely organ­ic, but its com­pon­ents may not even con­sti­tute a language.

They arrive in a sys­tem con­tain­ing sev­er­al large gas giants, the sig­nal eman­at­ing from the orbit of one of these. Detailed scans show two life-forms the size of small star­ships orbit­ing the 5th plan­et, close to the cloud-tops. The sensor read­ings do not match any­thing shown in the records, and they are giv­ing off tre­mend­ous amounts of energy, so they move in for a closer look, observing creatures remin­is­cent of col­our­ful sea-slugs, around 50–60m long. The lar­ger one appears to be siphon­ing mater­i­al out of the gas giant’s atmo­sphere, and this seems to be caus­ing the sig­nal they picked up.

Watch­ing from engin­eer­ing, Azon­an real­ises these resemble a Vul­can myth­o­lo­gic­al creature called a ha’kiv, that was said to have the power to cre­ate stars. He passes this inform­a­tion back to the bridge, and Zohir decides that they can study these cos­mo­zo­ans for a couple of hours.

As Lex­ing­ton gets closer to the scene, prox­im­ity alert clax­ons sound, as four space­craft drop out of warp. The crew are some­what taken aback, as the ves­sels resemble large ocean-going sail­ing ships, com­plete with masts, sails and banks of gun ports down their sides. They are shaken out of their sur­prise as a sub­space sig­nal is broad­cast dir­ectly at them: “We are Vin­Shari! Power is our birth­right!” Two of the ves­sels close with Lex­ing­ton, act­ively scan­ning her sys­tems, as the oth­ers move towards the ha’kiv.

Then, some­what sur­pris­ingly, the clos­ing ves­sels attack. Mov­ing in close beside the star­ship, they fire what appear to be har­poons, com­plete with cables, punch­ing straight through the shields and into the engin­eer­ing sec­tion. With­in seconds, dozens of humanoid fig­ures in envir­on­ment­al suits are mov­ing down the cables and break­ing into the hull. Intra­ship com­mu­nic­a­tions rap­idly fill with reports of intruders sub­du­ing any­one they run into. The oth­er two ships attack the ha’kiv, har­poon­ing them in the same manner.

Azon­an is in main engin­eer­ing as two tall humanoids burst in, accom­pan­ied by a creature resem­bling an armoured hyena. The creature lunges at him and he vaults over the con­sole to kick it aside, but one of the humanoids shoots at him with a gun resem­bling a horse pis­tol. He con­tin­ues to struggle, but they rap­idly sub­due him. He can only watch help­lessly as the intruders oper­ate con­soles with supris­ing skill. Alarms sound as safety doors slam down, and the warp core is ejec­ted into space. The attack­ers imme­di­ately retreat to their own ships.

The situ­ation is com­plic­ated when two more ves­sels of a sim­il­ar design, although smal­ler, arrive and face off against the attack­ers. Unfor­tu­nately, one of them is almost imme­di­ately des­troyed and the oth­er is crippled by dev­ast­at­ing broad­sides. The four Vin­Shari ves­sels gath­er up the warp core and the two har­pooned ha’kiv, and jump to warp.

The ‘B’ Plot: Dur­ing the pre­ced­ing month, Hebert reor­gan­ises her fleet to max­im­ise pro­tec­tion for the worlds in the loc­al region. She pri­or­it­ises mis­sions to open up the pro­posed sup­ply route to Deep Space 6, and to find poten­tial allies with­in the Expanse.

Although Lex­ing­ton is involved in car­ry­ing out patrols and oth­er mis­sions from her new base at Star­base 123, her officers have time for a num­ber of per­son­al projects:

Between run­ning both star­ship and per­son­nel com­bat drills, Raynor invest­ig­ates the black com­badge he found in the main­ten­ance ducts of Nar­en­dra Sta­tion. Scans of the badge turn up little, except that it’s much older than it looks – des­pite con­tain­ing tech­no­logy com­pat­ible with 24th cen­tury Star­fleet sys­tems. Unable to find any­thing resem­bling it in the lib­rary com­puter, he begins ask­ing around vari­ous intel­li­gence and under­world con­tacts. Even­tu­ally, he finds someone who might know some­thing: it appears to be asso­ci­ated with a mys­ter­i­ous organ­isa­tion called “Sec­tion 31”, an alleged black ops agency that might be con­nec­ted to Star­fleet Intel­li­gence. Find­ing that offi­cial enquir­ies on the sub­ject are turn­ing up noth­ing, he again asks his con­tacts, receiv­ing a small selec­tion of mostly incom­pat­ible answers.

Quinn occu­pies a lot of his down­time train­ing a num­ber of juni­or conn officers in their pilot­ing skills. After sev­er­al weeks, a num­ber of them have achieved their flight qual­i­fic­a­tions in record time, and he organ­ises a cel­eb­ra­tion at one of Star­base 123’s two bars. Halfway through the party, Cap­tain Murphy shows up to deliv­er their assign­ments; Quinn finds that sev­er­al of them are being assigned to oper­ate Thun­der­Child’s replace­ment fight­ers, and he real­ises they may not live very long dur­ing the war.

Fol­low­ing his recent exper­i­ences, Zepht under­takes a refresh­er course in both ranged and hand-to-hand com­bat, inter­spers­ing this with fur­ther research into the Tilikaal. Need­ing access to some of the arte­facts found so far, he finds they have been removed to a secure facil­ity in a clas­si­fied loc­a­tion. Hebert arranges for him to vis­it, by secure shuttle. The facil­ity itself is an old R‑class research sta­tion orbit­ing a brown dwarf, and is heav­ily-guarded. Zepht is sur­prised to find the secur­ity guards wear­ing stand­ard uni­forms, but with black depart­ment col­ours. When he quer­ies this, he is told only that they are an elite secur­ity division.

Like Raynor, Azon­an runs his own com­bat drills with his team, includ­ing com­bat sup­port scen­ari­os and dam­age con­trol. Much of his remain­ing time is taken up with double-check­ing the res­ults of the mis­sion pod replace­ment, which had to be rushed due to the Klin­gon inva­sion. The import­ant parts are work­ing per­fectly but cal­ib­ra­tion and minor con­nec­tions still need to be com­pleted. He is impressed with the struc­tur­al repairs under­taken dur­ing the refit.

The Arc: The war is releg­ated to the back­ground as Lex­ing­ton returns to her primary mis­sion. This epis­ode marks the first appear­ance of the aggress­ive VinShari.

Obser­va­tions: Star­base 123 is a K‑class sta­tion from the mid-23rd cen­tury, sim­il­ar to Deep Space Sta­tion K‑7, and is show­ing its age. Not much lar­ger than Lex­ing­ton, it has very lim­ited shore leave facil­it­ies, and serves mainly as a trad­ing way-station.

Azon­an spent much of his child­hood on Vul­can, learn­ing in Vul­can schools and devel­op­ing an appre­ci­ation for many aspects of Vul­can culture.

The ha’kiv are 50 metre long space-going slugs, brightly col­oured and cap­able of pro­du­cing more power than a large star­ship. They feed on gasses in the upper atmo­spheres of gas giants and gen­er­ate sub­space radio sig­nals as a side effect. Accord­ing to Vul­can myth­o­logy, the ha’kiv were legendary creatures that grazed on gas giants and cre­ated new stars as they died. Noth­ing like them has been seen in thou­sands of years, so it was assumed they were extinct, or more likely, a product of early Vul­can reli­gious imagination.

The Vin­Shari are tall, red-skinned humanoids, each with a com­plex array of spines form­ing a col­lar around their neck. They appear to work with trained anim­als, pre­sum­ably equi­val­ent to Earth canines. Their uni­forms are archa­ic and their weapons look prim­it­ive, but are power­ful. Their ves­sels resemble the sail­ing craft of Earth’s 18th cen­tury, but lar­ger and adap­ted to three-dimen­sion­al nav­ig­a­tion. They have large sails, open decks pro­tec­ted by force-fields, and two banks of mul­tiple gunports.

The black com­badge appears to be con­nec­ted to the infam­ous Sec­tion 31 agency. The badge itself is over a cen­tury old, but con­tains cir­cuitry com­par­able to mod­ern combadges.

The Pro­ject Dia­mond Hedge research team, along with its arti­facts and data, has relo­cated to an unnamed R‑class sta­tion orbit­ing a remote brown dwarf. Access is restric­ted, with the loc­a­tion being on a need-to-know basis.

Ques­tions: What the hell just happened?