Sunday, December 24, 2023

StarPodTrek Episode 38

If you grew up in the '60s, '70s, or '80s,you will love StarPodTrek!

On this fantastic episode of StarPodTrek, we consider the Star Trek contents of Starlog magazine in issues 75 and 76 from 1983.

Burt Bruce enlightens us on the connections between Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Star Trek!

Nicholas Meyer gives us more insight into The Wrath of Khan!

Plus... the Wrath of Khan action figures, View Master reels, trading cards, Strategic Operations Simulator by Sega, Corgi miniature starships, FASA miniatures, Photonovels, the video game watch, and more on this episode of StarPodTrek!

Interested in finding out more about the Star Trek Adventures Role Playing Game by Modiphius? Then subscribe to The Final Frontiersmen YouTube channel!

Would you like to learn more about astronomy and participate in a Star Party near you? Then join the NASA Night Sky Network!

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Sunday, December 10, 2023

S01 E05: Chronicles of T’Avaya: The Royal Menagerie


 S01 E05: Chronicles of T’Avaya: 

The Royal Menagerie

Chief Engineer’s Log. Stardate 45122.2. Doctor T’Avaya reporting. I have a temporary assignment aboard the USS Prophecy, the Starfleet ship assigned to Space Station Tyrellia. The ship is installing a power systems upgrade  that was designed by Professor Dialum, an Efrosion scientist who was my EPS systems professor at the Benvae Institute. Dialum’s power upgrade should greatly increase the energy output on the Prophecy. Dialum has improved this process after it was started by a human named Henry Gaskell. My assignment is to assist in installing the upgrade and to determine how to install it on Station Tyrellia.

Commander Masor-Emac, the ship’s Orion chief engineer, welcomed Dr. T’Avaya aboard. She had met most of the Prophecy’s crew in the last three years since it had been assigned as the Starfleet ship to her station. The Prophecy was a Niagara class science vessel, whose main directives were to provide aid when needed to the colony planets in the Tyrellia Sector, and to gather scientific data on the unexplored subsectors surrounding the area. Emac showed her to her quarters and reminded her of the mission briefing in one hour. It was the same quarters she always had on this ship. She hadn’t needed an escort, but Emac always liked talking to her.

He told her, “The environmental controls have already been set to Vulcan-standard, so you should be nice and comfy. No need to fuss at me again.”

T’Avaya took the jest in stride. “Thank you. The heat is most refreshing. Was your last mission to Barata difficult?”

“All in a day’s work,” the green-skinned engineer told her with a smile.


Dr. T’Avaya arrived at the briefing room to find Captain Watin, the ship’s El-Aurian commanding officer, already there. She took a seat at the table. The others arrived in short order. There was Commander Emac, the Efrosian scientist Dialum, the Malcorian Master Chief Specialist Mirasta Yale, and the human first officer--Commander Uriela Eccleshall. The captain invited Dialum to explain the new element that would increase the ship’s power. Dialum stood up and walked to the monitor at the end of the table. The graphics on the monitor showed the crystalline structure of the element--which he had named “zovedium”--and then showed how it would be installed in engineering. It would be connected to the EPS power grid, and the power to all ship’s systems would increase gradually over the next ten point four hours. No systems would need to be shut down in the process.

Commander Emac said Specialist Yale would be his chief assistant on this project. Though he had more experienced engineers, he wanted to give Yale this chance to show off her engineering talents. Mirasta Yale had come from Malcor III nine years ago. Her planet had been just about to discover warp drive when the USS Enterprise made first contact. The planet’s leader had eventually decided they were not yet ready to be part of a larger galactic governmental structure, but Yale left with the Enterprise, declaring that she was ready, even if her people weren’t. Since then, she studied engineering at the Starfleet Technical Services Academy. She was a quick study. After graduating, she enlisted in Starfleet and worked her way up through the enlisted ranks. T’Avaya knew Yale to be a competent engineer.


Commander Eccleshall, Dialum, and T’Avaya met later in the ship’s lounge. The upgrades had been installed. They had five more hours before the increased power would flow to all the systems. Once that happened, they would go to warp to see how well the upgrade worked at warp speed. Dialum was telling Eccleshall about his life growing up on Tieldar IV. His parents, who were now deceased, had been archaeologists who lived there to study the ancient ruins of the Tieldarans, a humanoid species that was native to the planet.

Eccleshall knew that T’Avaya shared a similar upbringing with parents who had also raised her on a different world than their home planet. It must have been one of the things the Vulcan and the Efrosian had bonded over. Dialum mentioned how proud he was of T’Avaya, his former student, for winning the Daltofer Award twenty years ago for her engineering design of a new power grid for the planet Bendollar IV.


Chief Engineer Emac said from engineering, “We’re ready, sir,” as Captain Watin on the bridge took his command chair. The captain told ops, “Set course for 3152 mark 5.”

“Course laid in, sir.

“Warp 1. Go,” Watin ordered. The USS Prophecy smoothly went to warp 1.

In Engineering, T’Avaya watched the monitors. All readings were normal. Specialist Yale reported that the mains were online and working. Chief Emac looked at the warp  core. “Purring like a melyat,” he said, satisfied. Dialum looked at the power readings and said, “Power at one hundred percent. EPS grid operating at seventy percent levels. Excellent!”

On the bridge, Ensign sh’Pave, the Andorian at ops said, “Captain! I just lost navigation! Readings have gone blank!”

The captain ordered an all stop. The helm officer said the ship wasn’t responding. The captain called engineering. “What the hell is going on down there?!”

“We’re reading a power surge in the matter/antimatter containment field and in the deflector array. Rerouting power now, Emac said.

T’Avaya could feel the pulsing of the engines through the deck as she tried to reroute power from the EPS power grid. She was unable. The controls were locked.


Minutes later, the ship suddenly came to a stop. Captain Watin asked for status. Ensign sh’Pave reported that the ship was out of warp. She could not explain why. The captain called engineering. Chief Emac said the engines had just stopped. It was not caused by the actions of anyone in engineering. Emac did a systems check and reported that  ship’s power had just gone down to sixty percent. And the warp core had just gone offline. Yale reported they had lost power to the intermix chamber and the warp core. T’avaya said the zovedium power source was still connected but was not energizing. Dialum checked the flow chamber to the zovedium. He said there was no flow, and he couldn’t explain why. The ship was on emergency backup.

The captain asked if navigation was back online. sh’Pave checked her console. She reported that it was working. They were in the L56 system, outside of Federation space. They were very close to the planet Sigma Oranis Minor. It was only two hours away at impulse. Captain Watin knew that was pretty damn close. They were lucky that the ship came out of warp before it had gone into the planet’s atmosphere and crashed into the planet. Watin had Commander Eccleshall pull up Starfleet records on the planet. The commander pulled up the records. She said it is a class M, uninhabited planet.


Engineer’s Log. Supplemental. Doctor T’Avaya reporting. While still on the USS Prophecy, we were testing Dialum’s new rovedium energy source. During warp drive, engines and navigational control suddenly became locked. Once we regained control of the ship, we discovered we were in the L56 system, ten light years outside of Federation space. We no longer have warp drive. I am working with the other engineers to determine how this happened and how to fix it. All readings were normal before the incident.


Engineering reported that warp drive was off line and would not power up. They did have impulse power. The captain ordered a message be sent to Starfleet Command making them aware of the ship’s status. The captain decided they did not to send a distress call at this time. He trusted his crew to get them out of this predicament.

Dialum stepped onto the bridge. “Dialum,” the captain said, “You should be in engineering helping to fix the warp drive.”

“I do apologize, captain,” Dialum said. “But I saw that Starfleet records show that planet we are close to is rich in hiberite. It’s a crystalline material that is very similar to zovedium. I can use it to synthesize more zovedium to increase the ship’s power again.”

Captain Watin wasn’t fond of that idea. He thought the zovedium was what got his ship into this mess. He wanted to depend on his engineers to come up with a solution. He called his chief engineer and asked what he thought of Dialum using hiberite to synthesize more zovedium. Chief Emac said it could work. He had examined the crystal, and he thought the power could be routed through the deflector array and it may work better that way. He still had his people examining everything, but it was worth a try. Watin closed the channel.

The ensign at ops scanned the planet and found several life forms. There were eighteen different animal species spread over two continents, contained by force fields.  The dominant species on the planet, according to scans, was bipedal loxodonta, or-- in earth terms-- an elephant-like species.  There were only about ten of them on the whole planet. Sensors were also detecting a small shuttle craft on the planet. The craft had warp engines.

“I thought the planet was uninhabited,” Watin said.

“I guess it’s been inhabited since the last Starfleet survey,” answered Eccleshall.

“Can we hail them?” the captain asked. They opened a hailing frequency, but there was no reply. There was no one in the craft to answer, and the inhabitants most likely did not carry personal communicators.

Captain Watin sent an away team of four down to the planet: Commander Eccleshall, Professor Dialum, Dr. T’Avaya (because Dialum insisted), and security officer Maya Brody. They beamed to an unpopulated area that had some shrubbery and some uneven terrain. T’Avaya pulled out the Starfleet-issue tricorder she had been given for this away mission. She detected a high concentration of hiberite a few meters west of their location. Two of the loxodonta-like humanoids approached. They had red skin, large fan-like ears and a large trunk-- like a snout-- in the middle of their faces. They were about two meters tall. They had large bodies with thick legs and walked upright. They wore purple tunics with blue trousers. “Whoa,” one of them said. “Who are you?”

Commander Eccleshall identified the away team as representing the USS Prophecy of the United Federation of Planets. She said their ship had come by accident, and they needed the planet’s hiberite to fix their propulsion system. The two aliens looked at each other. They did not know what hiberite was. Dialum explained that it was a type of ore in the ground.

“An ore!” said one of the aliens.

“You’ve come to take our ore,” said the other.

“Should we give it to them?” They laughed at each other.

“Guess they’re going to take the planet apart.”

“Leave us nothing.” They laughed again.

Eccleshall was dismayed at their reaction. “May I ask what you are doing here?” she said.

Then, another one of the aliens walked up. This one was two centimeters taller than the others, dressed the same, but with had a purple stripe at the end of the trunk and a gold scarf on top of the head. She spoke, “I am Queen Ixoraz. We are the imminent royal family of Ginuxkar IV. We are here to feed our animals.”

Eccleshall explained again that they needed a small amount of the planet’s hiberite to fix their ship. She then asked Ixoraz if she and her people had put the force fields around the animals. Ixoraz said their home planet was about five light years away. The animals had been rescued from different planets in the sector. They were from planets that were dying and no longer had resources, or planets where the inhabitants abused the animals. They were brought here so they could roam free and be happy. The force fields were to keep the different species separated. The royal family came once a month to feed and look after them. There were a few natural things on the planet the animals could eat, but Ginuxkar was able to farm and process whatever each species of animals needed, such as berries, nuts, rodents, and so forth.

One of the small animals walked up to T’Avaya and brushed against her leg. Ixoraz said, “That is a teeteenyas, one of the gentler breeds. Some of our royal subjects have them as pets.” It had four legs, beige fur, two slits on either side of its head for ears, two noses, three very small eyes, and a small mouth. One of the other Ginuxkarans said to T’Avaya, “She likes you.” He picked up the teeteenyas, stroked its furry body, and held it toward her. T’Avaya stroked the animal and said, “Very nice.” It reminded her of the pet shaltah, like a sehlat but much smaller, that she had growing up. The teeteenyas was making a chirping sound reminiscent of a onrellian bird. Eccleshall, Brody, and Dialum looked warmly at her and the animal. T’Avaya said, “The chirping seems to have a tranquilizing effect. Fortunately, I am immune to its effect.”


Specialist Yale checked the plasma conduits around the zovedium apparatus. The conduits had been overloaded by the zovedium. Dialum’s osmotic vertion core looked empty. It should have been filled with neutrinos to help regulate the zovedium. The controls on the vertion core had been set for an isolated particle beam. She knew it should have been set for a dynamic particle beam. Could the settings have changed after the warp incident? No. This appeared to be the CAUSE of the incident. The particle beam change would have locked the ship on a certain course and speed. Had someone wanted to get the ship to this part of space? That didn’t make sense. What could someone possibly want here?


After securing the area and seeing that the Ginuxkarans had no objection to the Prophecy crew taking some of the hiberite, Watin beamed down another away team to start extracting the ore.

One of the male Ginuxkarans, --Dranlan, he said his name was-- started singing, “Starship comes to take our ore.”

Then his brother--Zhoonger--sang, “We don’t need it any more.”

“They come from space and wear strange clothes.”

“They have small ears and smaller nose.”

Eccleshall observed, “What a strange people these Ginuxkarans are.” T’Avaya agreed, but had to admire them for saving and caring for the animals. Eccleshall couldn’t argue with that. Security officer Brody, seeing there was no immediate danger, put her phaser away and said, “Maybe I should sing about them.” Then she started melodiously with, “They have laaarge truuuunks. Too big for theeeirrrr buuuunks…”

“Hey! Stop that now!” Commander Eccleshall ordered.

“Sorry, sir,”

The two Ginuxkarans had heard her, and started laughing again. One of them playfully hit Brody on the back of her head and exclaimed, “What a rogue! Why, you’re even funnier than our court jester!”

Brody almost fell over from being hit on the head. Zhoonger didn’t know his own strength. She just smiled back at him.

While this was going on, Dialum whispered to T’Avaya, “Please come with me.” He walked away. She followed. The professor walked toward a cave. She asked where they were going. He led her inside the cave. He then told her that he hadn’t been quite honest with her and the crew. She asked him to explain. He reminded her that his parents had been archeologists. His parents had found evidence of a race of beings from another dimension that had visited this galaxy decades ago. He had reason to believe they had built a base on this planet, and the entrance to the base was in this cave. They kept walking deeper into the cave as Dialum kept talking. He said he had visited this planet many years ago, when it was uninhabited, and found this cave and found part of it sealed off. They came to a large open area with a glowing light at one end. They walked over to it.

T’Avaya scanned it with her tricorder. It was some kind of energy barrier. On the other side of it there appeared to be a duranium wall. Dialum told her the dimensional aliens had built the barrier to protect their base. He brought her here because he did not have the resources to break the barrier, and he knew she could find a way in, perhaps using the ship’s power. She said Captain Watin would have to approve, and he would not be happy that Dialum had hijacked his ship. Dialum was aware of that and said he knew the risks. He begged T’Avaya to help him. This was something his parents had been looking for all their lives, and he wanted to complete their goal, and he was too close to leave now.

Her comm badge beeped. She tapped it. “T’Avaya here.” It was the captain asking her to beam back up to the ship. She told him she was with Dialum. They both were beamed up.

In the transporter room, a security guard had a phaser aimed at Dialum and said the captain ordered him confined to quarters. Neither Dialum nor T’Avaya knew what was going on, as no one had heard what they had just said inside the cave. T’Avaya was escorted to the briefing room. The captain was there, along with Chief Emac and Specialist Yale. The captain ordered Yale to tell T’Avaya what she had found. Yale told her she found that someone had programmed the zovedium controls to bring them to this planet. Then T’Avaya told them what Dialum had told her in the cave. Of course, they had already suspected that Dialum was the one who had hijacked the ship and brought them to the planet. T’Avaya told them she was as shocked as they were that Dialum would go to such lengths to achieve his ends. It was a reckless move. However, since they were here, she was as curious as Dialum about the dimensional aliens. She asked the captain if they could try to break the energy barrier to the aliens’ base.

Captain Watin made no promises, but he did send a science team to the cave to examine the barrier and its surroundings. They also did sensor scans from the ship. The sensors did not pick up any readings from inside the barrier. They could tell that the “base”, as Dialum had called it, was over twenty meters wide and ten meters deep. They could probably break through the barrier with a duodynetic plasma stream. But the question was, SHOULD they? They had no way of knowing what was inside. The unknown could be very dangerous. But then, the USS Prophecy was a science ship, dedicated to the unknown. The captain had agreed to let them do it, using extreme caution. Because T’Avaya had promised she would take responsibility for Dialum, Watin let security escort Dialum back to the cave. He had studied his parent’s notes about the aliens, so he may be able to help with whatever they found on the other side of the barrier.

Chief Science Officer Goiv, a Tellarite, came up behind them with a half-meter long tube attached to a control box. He aimed the tube at the energy barrier. “Get outta the way. Here goes nothing,” he said in his gruffy voice. He hit a button and the plasma stream hit the barrier. There was a constant stream for three seconds, then it stopped. The energy barrier glowed bright green for a second, then . . . there was nothing. T’Avaya scanned the duranium wall. She stated that the barrier was gone. She touched the wall. It seemed to turn to liquid right at the spot she touched. Then, the wall disappeared. They could see a room. It looked like a control room. Dialum started to charge in. The two security guards held him back. T’Avaya scanned the room. She said it looked safe. There were computers, but they were powered off. She walked inside and touched a computer screen. A monitor lit up. The guards motioned Dialum to go inside. He walked up next to her and looked at the monitor.

From studying his parents’ journals, he was able to read what was on the monitor. It said the aliens had posed a danger to the planet, so they had to seal off this base and go back to their dimension. Dialum did not understand what the aliens had meant about posing a danger. Then, they suddenly heard what sounded like a large thunder clap. Goiv’s comm badge signaled that he was getting a call from the ship. Prophecy’s sensors had picked up atmospheric and seismic activity distortions on the planet that started right when they cleared the energy barrier. The room was giving off vega radiation, which the barrier had been protecting them from. The planet was going to explode in six minutes.  

“We must find a way to reactivate the energy barrier. There’s no way we can get the Ginuxkarans and animals off the planet in time,” T’Avaya said. She looked at Dialum. He was shocked, frozen in place. She placed her hands on his shoulders and shook him. “Professor, can you work these computers? Can you reactivate the barrier?”

An alarm sounded. A computerized voice filled the room. It sounded like it was giving a countdown in whatever language the aliens had spoken. There were flashing lights on all the computers. Dialum heard the alien countdown and yelled, “That one!” He pointed at a computer across the room. He and T’Avaya ran over to it. He worked one control, and told her how to work the other one. He was setting it to reactivate the barrier in ten seconds. Suddenly, teeteenyas ran into the room, followed by Dranlan and Zhoonger.

“The animals just ran in. We couldn’t stop them,” Zhoonger said.

He was blowing into an instrument that looked like a flute. T’Avaya was strapped for time, but she asked what he was doing. He said the instrument made a sound that was pleasant to the animals. They would usually follow it, but it didn’t seem to be working. They were too scared. T’Avaya had a thought. If they responded to sound, maybe there was another way to get them out. She and Dialum finished with the controls. She told him and everyone else to get out. As she headed out of the room, she started making a loud, screeching sound from the back of her throat. It was the sound of an onrellian hawk. The teeteenyas reacted. They started running out of the room in fear. She kept making the sound and ran after them. Then she turned around and saw the duranium wall and the energy barrier were back in place.

It was over. The disaster had been averted. And everyone was safe.


Engineer’s Log. Supplemental. Professor Dialum has been confined to quarters. He will be transported to Starbase 147 to stand trial for hijacking and endangering a starship. Captain Watin ordered us to seal the cave entrance leading to the aliens’ base, and to leave a warning buoy outside the cave so no one would try to enter. The captain decided to let the Ginuxkarans keep their claim to Sigma Oranis Minor for their royal animal menagerie. The Ginuxkarans were appreciative and invited us to someday visit their home planet. We were able to use the hiberite combined with zovedium to power the ship’s warp drive. Chief Engineer Emac has ordered further study for the use of the zovedium power source before it can be installed on another ship. We are on a course back to Station Tyrellia. The zovedium upgrades will be uninstalled once we get back to the station.


Chief Engineer Emac and Vulcan engineer T’Avaya were in her quarters on the USS Prophecy drinking coffee. “Sorry about your friend,” Emac said.

“Though he feels remorse for putting all of us in danger, he still thinks the effort was worth it. I regret that he could not have found another way, especially since the dimensional aliens he was searching for were gone.”

She mentioned that Specialist Yale did a good job researching and discovering that Dialum had sabotaged the controls. Emac agreed that Yale was a good engineer.

“She had to prove herself when she came here,” Emac said. “No one believed she knew anything, coming from a less advanced world. Just like I had to prove myself to Starfleet.” Emac had always faced intolerance of his Orion heritage, assumptions that he was nothing more than a brutal slave trader with no morals. But he had proven himself to be intelligent and willing and able to uphold the very best of Starfleet ideals. He came from a poor family, one that never owned slaves and had barely escaped slavery themselves.

“I read your report,” he told her. “Very interesting. I didn’t know you could make hawk sounds. Was that something you learned for another Vulcan ritual?”

T’Avaya smiled inwardly. “When I was a child, I taught myself to mimic several animal sounds. It was one of the ways I amused myself.”

“Really!”, his thoughts raced. “How about you make some of those animal sounds for me right now.”

She smirked at him--at least, as much as a Vulcan could smirk. But he knew the look. He got it a lot from her. The two of them had cautiously begun pursuing a relationship less than two weeks ago.

“How about later tonight,” he said slyly. If I had only known sooner that this would amuse him, she thought.


 -by the Honorable Kavura


Thank you for reading my Star Trek Adventures: Captain’s Log mission report. Captain’s Log is a solo roleplaying game by Modiphius Entertainment.