Second Contact, Part I

Epis­ode Num­ber: 4×04

Writ­ten by: The authors of the Shack­leton Expanse Cam­paign Guide

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 23rd March 2024

Guest Stars:

  • Iry­ax Nedaon: Lead­er of the Akaru.
  • Com­mand­er Mauti: Akaru com­mand­ing officer of the Star­ward.
  • Akaru’Bak Chiel: Akaru pro­vin­cial governor.
  • Com­mand­er K’rigosh: Akul’s first officer aboard the Mup­wI’.
  • Cap­tain Roger Corbett: Admir­al Heber­t’s flag cap­tain and the com­mand­ing officer of U.S.S. Ven­ture.
  • Com­mand­er Hig­gins: Engin­eer­ing chief of U.S.S. Ven­ture.

We are en route to Star­base 123. The report about our first con­tact with the Vin­Shari will cause lots of excite­ment. I am not look­ing for­ward to my meet­ing with Admir­al Hebert. But today will be even worse, as the cere­mony for our fallen crew mem­bers is set for 0900 hours this morn­ing. Four of my people are dead. I barely knew one of them and that was sadly a dis­cip­lin­ary issue.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 50126.2

Plot: Lex­ing­ton is summoned back to Setu to nego­ti­ate a form­al treaty with the Akaru, but it appears someone on the plan­et is in des­per­ate need of assistance.

The ‘A’ Plot: Kon­in leads a memori­al ser­vice to four crew­mem­bers lost dur­ing the Vin­Shari attack, and makes a point of attend­ing the vari­ous memori­al gath­er­ings afterwards.

Upon Lex­ing­ton’s return to Star­base 123, the crew learns of the recent cease­fire with the Klin­gons. Admir­al Hebert calls Kon­in in for a brief­ing, explain­ing she is still keen to shore up the defences for Fed­er­a­tion worlds in the region, as this is not a form­al peace treaty. She tells him that Iry­ax Nedaon has reques­ted him (per­son­ally) to nego­ti­ate a treaty with the Akaru, and, des­pite her dam­ages, Lex­ing­ton will need to depart with­in the next 24 hours. The admir­al con­fides that she would really like an alli­ance with the Akaru, but would settle for a trade deal and the right to travel through their space.

With only a day to com­plete essen­tial repairs, and the engin­eer­ing depart­ment down a couple of mem­bers, Kon­in requests per­mis­sion to bor­row a repair team from U.S.S. Ven­ture, Heber­t’s flag­ship. Hebert agrees and sends Kon­in to meet with Cap­tain Corbett to organ­ise this. Corbett is happy to oblige, but his chief of engin­eer­ing is less enthu­si­ast­ic, espe­cially when Kon­in passes on Azon­an’s request for a longer-term loan of two per­son­nel. It soon becomes clear that he has assigned a couple of his least effi­cient team mem­bers for this task.

Des­pite this, the ship leaves for Setu on time, car­ry­ing Com­mand­er Mauti, who is plan­ning to vis­it her fam­ily while she has the oppor­tun­ity. Zepht expresses an interest in invest­ig­at­ing the mys­ter­i­ous struc­ture they detec­ted beneath the waves of Setu on their last vis­it, and Kon­in agrees, provid­ing he is dis­crete, and warns that the invest­ig­a­tion must not jeop­ard­ise the treaty talks.

Dur­ing the voy­age, the cap­tain begins to receive tele­path­ic mes­sages ask­ing for help. They appear to be broad­cast rather than dir­ec­ted at him spe­cific­ally, and become stronger as the ship approaches Setu. Kon­in is able to dis­cern that the broad­cast con­sists of mul­tiple minds, and is able to pick out indi­vidu­als with­in the crowd. Some seem very emo­tion­al, oth­ers much more con­trolled, but none respond to his attempts to reply, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to dis­cov­er who they are, what the prob­lem is, or where they are loc­ated. Con­sult­ing with their Akaru rep­res­ent­at­ive, he con­firms that the Akaru are not nat­ur­ally tele­path­ic, but that the rul­ing Akaru’bak are. Con­ners sus­pects this may be due to some level of bio­lo­gic­al modification.

On arrival at Setu, they are wel­comed by the Akaru, but as the cap­tain exchanges greet­ings with the plan­et­ary gov­ern­ment, Zepht picks up a brief sensor read­ing of a star­ship near one of the plan­et’s moons. As he tries to get more inform­a­tion, it van­ishes, pos­sibly going to warp, but he is con­vinced it is not Akaru. As he reports his dis­cov­ery, he voices his con­cern that it may be a Vin­Shari vessel.

The seni­or officers beam to the sur­face, where they are warmly greeted by Akaru’bak Chiel. Once again, they exchange gifts, Kon­in bring­ing a crate of Chat­eau Picard wine. Chiel tells them there will be a ban­quet in the pres­ence of the Iry­ax that even­ing, before talks begin the fol­low­ing day. Kon­in asks if they have encountered the Vin­Shari, describ­ing their recent encounter, and men­tion­ing Zeph­t’s odd sensor read­ing. Vis­ibly alarmed, Chiel promptly departs to con­fer with the Iryax.

At the ban­quet, the mem­bers of the land­ing party are seated with those of sim­il­ar interests from the Akaru gov­ern­ment, includ­ing a num­ber of Akaru’bak and oth­er high-rank­ing offi­cials. Raynor finds him­self in con­ver­sa­tion with a pair of com­mand­ers from the Akaru space pro­gramme, one of whom has evid­ently suffered a recent severe injury. When he attempts to dis­cuss the Vin­shari issue with them, he is sur­prised when their attempts to answer are imme­di­ately shut down by one of the Akaru’bak. Zepht encoun­ters a sim­il­ar situ­ation when he tries to dis­cuss the tele­path­ic cries for help detec­ted by the cap­tain. Kon­in him­self is able to detect the tele­path­ic orders to cease talk­ing, which feel like psych­ic “slaps”.

As Kon­in is talk­ing to the Iry­ax and Chiel about the upcom­ing talks, Nedaon sud­denly turns to the table at large, and announces the arrival of their “oth­er guests”. At which point, Cap­tain Akul of the Klin­gon Empire enters the room, accom­pan­ied by sev­er­al of his officers, includ­ing Com­mand­er K’ri­gosh. Zepht sur­mises that his van­ish­ing star­ship was the Mup­wI’ enga­ging her cloak.

The Arc: The Klin­gons have made con­tact with the Akaru.

Obser­va­tions: The cease­fire in the Fed­er­a­tion-Klin­gon War takes place when Gen­er­al Mar­tok is revealed to be a Changeling in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine epis­ode “Apo­ca­lypse Rising”. Unfor­tu­nately, this does not mark the end of the war.

Maps seen on dis­play screens indic­ate that Setu is loc­ated on the core­ward edge of the Expanse, away from Fed­er­a­tion, Romu­lan and Klin­gon ter­rit­ory, but quite close to the Qofuari home­world. The Vin­Shari home­world is loc­ated more towards the galactic rim, and much closer to the Klin­gon border.

The Akaru’bak are con­firmed to be tele­path­ic, which is oth­er­wise impossible for the Akaru, as they do not have the genet­ic capacity.

Dia­logue: Cap­tain Kon­in’s eulogy at the memori­al service:

When a spe­cies first tries to defy the grav­ity of their home plan­et, they have to learn cer­tain les­sons and most spe­cies write those les­sons in blood. But we all learned our les­sons: we not only defied the grav­ity of our home plan­ets, we broke the bonds of our home sys­tems and we came togeth­er as a soci­ety. And that soci­ety called and we all answered, as did our four com­rades. Maybe they decided to join Star­fleet for the bet­ter­ment of our soci­ety, for the pro­tec­tion of their homes, to prove them­selves, or to seek adven­ture under for­eign stars. We can’t ask them any­more. We can only hon­our their memor­ies and their sac­ri­fices and say good­bye.

From the Stars we came, to the Stars we return, from now to the end of time.

We there­fore com­mit these bod­ies to the Deep: Ensign Kelen of Ben­zar, Ensign Thihla glov Kahk of Tel­lar Prime, Chief Mas­ter-at-Arms Kaden Logan of Earth, Warp Sys­tem Tech­ni­cian 1st class Bezîn Hîwa of Earth.

Ques­tions: Is Akul’s pres­ence a coin­cid­ence, or does the Empire have a more spe­cif­ic interest in Setu?