Star Trek Odyssey

Episode 4. Fear Itself - Part II

Wizard of oz pink floyd psychedelic 02

Hook

Last time, the crew of the Odyssey survived the battle with the Hirogen, but failed to escape from the mysterious entanglement with the psionic creature. Every emotion it experiences, they experience too, causing epidemics of hysteria across the ship. They must find some means of making it let go of them.

Plot Developments

The ship was heavily damaged, hanging together by a thread, and most of the crew lied asleep. The anesthezine gas should have worn off by now, but for some reason the emotional stress was keeping the majority of them in fitful slumber. Meanwhile, Dr. Gleek was called away to deliver Ensign Lhasa’s baby, while Captain Dakra got trapped in a jammed turbolift all alone save for his comely first officer, Lieutenant Jennifer Lawrence.

That left precious few awake and able to act. It was up to Nal’Khoras and Danasharr to save the day.

Meanwhile, in the brig, Maximilian began to descend into a psychotic episode, screaming “It’s touching my brain! It’s inside me!” After that, whatever Maximilian felt, the psionic creature appeared to feel too, and then so did the crew. It seemed the creature had attempted to bond with Maximilian, but was overwhelmed by his madness. Maximilian’s insanity actually spread to the creature. Now the entire ship was at the mercy of Maximilian’s ravings.

In order to save the ship, the path lay clear: they had to help Maximilian overcome his issues as quickly as possible. Fortunately, Danasharr knew of a highly experimental therapy based originally on a procedure used by 20th-century psychologist Stanislav Graf, who used LSD to induce a therapeutic journey. The updated procedure used transporter technology to separate mind and body, inducing an experience of the psionic plane. The patient’s unconscious, unable to interpret pure psionic energy, then projects a hallucinatory environment symbolically masking repressed psychic contents. Therapy is complete when the patient is able to face the repressed contents in their literal, unmasked form.

Danasharr and Nal’Khoras opted to accompany Maximilian to the psionic plane as guides to help him through. Ensign Mark Wood, with a bead of sweat rolling down his forehead, pressed forward the transporter slides to begin the procedure…

The swirling colors of the transporter beam gradually coalesced into a scene projected by Maximilian’s mind. It was likely to be some kind of hero journey, but what kind would it be?

They found themselves on a road made of gold-pressed latinum strips, with talking mushrooms on either side singing:

“Follow the gold-pressed road! Follow the gold-pressed road! Find the Emerald City of Zo! Follow the gold-pressed road!”

Meanwhile, their appearances were not what they were used to. Nal was a humanoid version of a cute, fuzzy lemuroala (like lemur crossed with a koala), while Danasharr was a chameleon-like reptile called a zumpa. And they were missing whatever aspect of themselves they treasured most: Nal’s intelligence and Danasharr’s psionic potential.

Nal distantly heard a disembodied voice singing, “…if I only had a brain!”

Meanwhile, Maximilian had regressed to childhood. He was his normal old man self, but in a little girl’s dress with brunette pigtails.

What ensued was a psychedelic escapade through a land of lethal terrors. From giant munchkin redshirts with man-smashing lollypops to a flying house-starship, they fought their way to the Emerald City. There, they found themselves in a maze of mecha-cornstalks filled with horrors: a riddlebot (answer the riddle or die!), a slotsbot (get three cherries or die!), and a Vulcan in ponfarr (mate with me… or die!).

Finally, they made it out of the deadly maze, thanks in no small part to Danasharr, who tempted the Vulcan with her feminine wiles only to lead him into a trap, and Nal, who saved Maximilian (quite attractive dressed as a little girl) from his illogically-horny clutches!

Resolution

When they finally made it inside the Emerald Tower and found a twenty-foot rendering of Maximilian’s own face, which was thundering and blustering, “I am the Great and Terrible Zo!”

They persuaded Maximilian to pull back the curtain. There he finally confronted the sight of his awful sin: the crew of the U.S.S. Baba Yaga, gassed to death.

“It was me!” Maximilian sobbed. “It was me, I killed them!”

After the therapy, Maximilian fell to tears, feeling unrepressed emotion for the first time in decades.

Then, in a moment of clarity, he knew what he had to do.

“Give me a shuttlecraft,” he said. “The creature has bonded with me. I can lead it away, and it will follow. It will let you go.”

He knew it would mean his own demise, but it’s what he had to do.

“The whole crew is in danger because of me. This creature has shown me emotion for the first time in so long. I would like to spend my final moments with it… out there.”

Nal and Danasharr agreed, and watched Maximilian’s shuttle fly off into empty space, the creature following.

At last, the crew was freed from the hysterical epidemics of the psionic creature.

Then Captain Dakra’s voice came over the intercom, “Dakra to bridge officers! You can get Lawrence and I out of this jammed turbolift any time now!”

Nal responded, “I don’t know, captain. The ship is falling apart, and the turbolift is pretty low on the repair list. We’ll get back to you!”

Key Discoveries

The psionic creature is able to entangle and disentangle with other objects in space. Sensor readings on this process may prove most enlightening…

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Episode 3. Fear Itself - Part I

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Hook

Over the course of six months, the crew of the Odyssey find themselves periodically gripped by strange waves of uncontrollable emotion.

Plot Developments

Unbeknownst to each other, each of the crew enjoys a particularly restful sleep with a fantastically hopeful dream. Danasharr, an empath, thinks she senses a “presence” of some kind, but isn’t sure. Thinking little of it, they neglect to tell each other as they meet for a staff meeting. Having learned from R’Kal’s research that they are not likely to escape this region of space any time soon, the senior staff set project goals for the next six months.

As they carry them out, the crew periodically experiences strange episodes of mass hysteria, all simultaneously gripped by the same uncontrollable emotion. First, after narrowly escaping a warp breach caused by an asteroid collision, a percentage of the crew all at once becomes ravenously hungry. Second, during Subcommander R’Kal’s presentation on the vortex, the crew becomes insatiably horny (R’Kal, sweating with excitement, excuses herself to Dr. Gleek’s quarters so he can “swab” her). Finally, while on shore leave to a forested planet that turns into a nocturnal fight with a troop of rotten-fleshed baboon-like creatures, the crew becomes fascinated by bright lights (Ensign Drew Jacob walks right into the campfire). No explanation is forthcoming for these strange emotional outbursts.

Six months after the original senior staff meeting, it is First Contact Day. Coincidentally, the crew happens to make first contact with a new species calling themselves the Hirogen. They invite the crew of the Odyssey to celebrate their meeting with a feast. Arrangements are made to dine aboard the Odyssey.

The Hirogen, led by Juranja, are a reptilian species who live for the hunt. They would have hunted the crew of the Odyssey, in fact, if they had not found this region of space. They came here through a vortex, and at first thought they were lost. Then, they realized they had found what Juranja calls the “Happy Hunting Grounds.” It is a challenging region where the very terrain shifts beneath their feet, populated with the ultimate prey: creatures of pure emotional energy. “You see, the prey we are hunting,” says Juranja, “is fear itself.”

The creatures, which apparently evolved here, travel by becoming “quantum entangled” with objects and others of their kind, so that their positions remain constant relative to each other. When one shifts, disappears, or reappears, so does the other. In this way, they are able to travel the region effectively without losing their way.

Impressed by the Odyssey crew, the Hirogen invite them to compete in a sport of strength and agility called “Battlepool.” Played in zero gravity, players attempt to knock each other unconscious or into one of the arena’s eight corner “pockets.” The senior staff accepts the challenge, and summarily trounces the Hirogen at their own game.

After the match, the Hirogen detect one of the emotional-energy creatures in the vicinity, and immediately excuse themselves to hunt it down.

Not more than a few minutes later, the crew of the Odyssey is gripped by the terrifying feeling of being chased. Hundreds of crew members gathered in the cargo bay for First Contact Day suddenly stampede toward the entrance. Captain Dakra is knocked down and trampled, while the crew goes wild with incurable panic.

Resolution

The lucky few unaffected, including Dr. Gleek and Counselor Danasharr, take drastic measures to pacify the crew. They release anesthezine gas into the ventilation system to put them all to sleep. The gas doesn’t make it through the biosuit filter of engineer Nal’Khoras, and Dakra is brought round with a hypospray. They both heroically fight through their panic in order to help save the day.

Noticing that the Hirogen ship is chasing the emotional-energy creature at the very same time that the Odyssey crew is feeling chased, they infer a connection. The emotional epidemics of the past six months, including the current panic, must be caused by the creature. It must have been become “quantum entangled” with the crew that first night of pleasant dreams, and thereafter any strong emotion experienced by the creature was also experienced by the crew. The current panic, then, will only end when the creature ceases to be chased by the Hirogen.

Unfortunately, the Hirogen are loathe to call off their hunt. They turn their wrath on the Odyssey when it dares to interfere, and a ship-to-ship firefight ensues. The vessels find themselves evenly matched, and fight down to their last dregs of energy. At last, the Odyssey is forced to withdraw.

Fortunately, the Hirogen find themselves too damaged to pursue. Instead, they send a message: Juranja is dead, and his second officer, who apparently does not share the late leader’s faith in the so-called Happy Hunting Grounds, has taken command. “The next time we meet,” he informs the crew of the Odyssey, “you will be our prey.”

Other Important Developments

The ship’s brig, full to brimming, is emptied out. First, the shark-people are relocated to a watery planet, except for young Plop-grah, who decides to pursue an interest in Starfleet under the tutelage of Corporal Galifianakis. Second, Maximilian, former captain of the Baba Yaga, is weaned off of his all-beet diet and invited to play chess and role-playing games, in an attempt to provide therapy for his madness. Finally, the Romulan scientist R’Kal, who has thus far proven cooperative, is given her own quarters and limited freedom to move about the ship and pursue her research on the vortex.

Key Discoveries

  • The vortex apparently sucks in ships from all over the galaxy, even the Delta Quadrant (from which the Hirogen hail). An exchange of starcharts with the Hirogen confirms this and reveals further astronomical detail.
  • It is possible to pass back through the vortex the next time it opens, but it could deposit them virtually anywhere in the galaxy, and any year several centuries backward or forward in time.
  • The time-space distortions in this region resemble quantum effects at the macro scale. R’Kal describes the region as “locally ordered, distantly chaotic.”
  • According to 21st-century Earth physicist Im Jongwoo, the universe one-quadrillionth of a second after the Big Bang would be “locally ordered, distantly chaotic.” Furthermore, Im predicted that isolated pockets of such incipient spacetime would remain. It appears the Odyssey has fallen into one such pocket. They are not anywhere or any-when. Rather, it is as if they are trapped within that first one-quadrillionth of a second after the Big Bang.
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Episode 2. Welcome to Stochastia

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Hook

When repairs are stymied by a shortage of deuterium, the crew of the Odyssey discover a source on a cold planet with some strange inhabitants and what appears to be Federation technology.

Plot Developments

The new senior officers apprehend a trio of streakers running through the corridor, naked as the day they were born. They confess it was an initiation to join a new “gang” called the Losties, who take care of each other in these uncertain times. A little later, a fight breaks out in NGage, the ship’s lounge, over a gambling dispute about who will end up as captain. Apparently, the crew have grown uneasy about those in command – the old captain is dead and the new candidate, a scaly white Cardassian by the name of Dakra, is not exactly everyone’s favorite choice. In response, Dakra and the others draw up a new roster of senior officers, and implement a firm program of leadership.

Meanwhile, it is discovered that the ship’s Bussard collectors are clogged, and cannot be repaired without some concentrated deuterium. A source is found on a cold Class M planet ten lightyears away. When they attempt to travel to this planet, however, it shifts, disappears, and reappears randomly, causing them to chase it around. They arrive at the planet just before their deuterium runs out completely. What’s more, the ship’s chronometer inexplicably reads it is seventy years earlier than it should be.

The planet is home to a small population of agricultural humanoids, comparable in technology level to Earth’s medieval Russia. They grow nothing but beets. Strangely, their capital city is giving off inordinately high energy readings consistent with Federation technology.

When an away mission visits the city, called Stochastia, they discover a highly-structured society where everything, even profession, is determined randomly, just like the stars above (which in this region of space dance and flicker at random). Investigation reveals the influence of Federation Captain Maximilian M. Maximilian, who has managed to install himself as Lord Stochast, leader of the city. Stealing into his palace, the away mission ends up inside a holo-projected madhouse, apparently reflecting Maximilian’s twisted conscience.

Resolution

In the end, it is revealed that Maximilian came here aboard the U.S.S. Baba Yaga, a Constitution-class starship which disappeared one-hundred years ago. Apparently it was sucked through a vortex just like the Odyssey. The bizarre time-space properties of the region drove Maximilian to become increasingly controlling and paranoid, till his crew finally mutinied and attempted to strand him on the planet. In retribution, he gassed the entire crew to death and used the ship’s holodeck technology to frighten the native inhabitants into making him their lord.

The away mission manages to stun Maximilian, and takes him back to the brig of their ship. Meanwhile, they also recover the data logs of the Baba Yaga, and remove all Federation technology from the planet, thus setting the local culture back on its own course of development.

Key Discoveries

  • In this region of space, objects more than a lightyear away shift, disappear, and reappear randomly as a function of relative movement between them and the observer. This occurs both when moving toward an object and when moving away from it.
  • Distortions occur not only in space but also in time. Traveling to the planet somehow carried the Odyssey seventy years backward in time.
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Episode 1. Into the Rabbit Hole

Vortex 02

Hook

Investigating a Romulan installation in the Neutral Zone, the captain of the U.S.S. Odyssey gets himself and his entire senior staff killed in an explosion on a foolish away mission. A new staff of lowly lieutenants must rise to the fill their shoes. Meanwhile, the explosion hurtles the ship into a mysterious vortex. On the other side, the stars dance strangely, and something odd is happening to the crew.

Plot Developments

The ship is severely damaged from its passage through the vortex, with multiple systems down, including sensors and weapons targeting.

Reports come in of crew members doubled-over in laughter.

This turns out to be nitrous oxide released by an intruder, who appears to be headed toward the shuttle bay. The new makeshift bridge officers race to the bay, where they manage to subdue to the intruder.

The intruder turns out to be a scientist from the Romulan installation, going by the name of Subcommander R’Kal. After discovering the Federation presence, she knew her Romulan superiors would destroy the installation rather than allow it to become an intergalactic “incident.” She beamed aboard the Odyssey just before a Romulan warbird decloaked and fired, causing the explosion that killed the Odyssey senior staff and pushed their ship into the vortex.

R’Kal, realizing that her people may now view her as a traitor, begs to be granted asylum by the Federation, despite the many rumors she’s heard of the Federation’s “merciless cruelty and barbarism.” The Cardassian Lt. Dakra deceives her into believing he is on a mission to take over the ship, and she need only play along. She is placed in the brig for the time being.

When sensors come back online, a Romulan probe and shuttlecraft are discovered amidst the other debris in the area, all likely dropped here by the vortex. R’Kal reveals both were experimental voyages through the vortex. An away mission finds no survivors on the shuttlecraft, but recovers valuable data logs.

Suddenly, two strange ships appear and close on the vulnerable, heavily-damaged Odyssey. A strange message of growls and bubbles, which the universal translator struggles to decipher, does not appear promising. Soon, a boarding party of the aliens materializes inside the Odyssey and begins attacking.

Resolution

Thinking fast, the away mission ties the targeting systems of the shuttlecraft into that of the Odyssey, enabling it to fire. The Odyssey makes short work of the attacking vessels, and the boarding party is subdued. Only four of the attackers remain. They are a species of shark-like humanoids who apparently prey on vessels coming through the vortex. They call themselves the Rrr-grr-alah!, and speak through a system of bubbles and growls. They are summarily relocated to the brig.

Key Discoveries

  • The stars on this side of the vortex are shifting, disappearing, and reappearing at random.
  • R’Kal believes the vortex has something to do with what she calls the “Shatarr” – the great flaring forth at the origin of the universe. She is carrying a canister with some of the vortex material suspended in nitrous oxide.
  • The shark-people reveal that something strange happens when you try to travel between star systems in this region: “When you get there, you are not there!” It remains to be seen what this means exactly.
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