After producing a live-action series of 10 comedy vignettes that poked fun at lots of science-fiction cliches, the folks at Squishy Studios decided to boldly take Voyage Trekkers where it had never been before: a “Radio Play” entitled “The Quest for the Golden Orb.”
The four-part audio adventure begins with the crew of the GSV Remarkable on a fact-finding mission to the poverty-stricken world of Crodaria Prime.
In his “Captain’s Blog,” Captain Jack Sunstrike (Adam Rini) describes the world’s inhabitants as “small, squat people with rather plain-looking women,” and they all “walk with a sad sort of waddle that makes it very hard not to laugh at them.”
Doctor Rena (Gabrielle Van Buren) complains that she always ends up carrying the supply backpack instead of the ship’s first officer, Commander Powell (Logan Blackwell). Sunstrike tells her to take the matter up with her supervisor. “Powell is my supervisor,” she states angrily.
Rena’s description of the world’s inhabitants is nothing like her captain’s assessment. “The Crodarian situation is desperate. Their crops are dying. Their people are malnourished. They have very little food and are in abject poverty.”
In addition, “the entire planet is in a drought. War is brewing as people fight over what few resources are left.”
The captain then says he wants to have lunch, and Rena responds that she packed their lunch in the backpack but objects to the idea of eating a bountiful meal in front of people who are starving.
Powell states that he spoke with a village elder who told him about a “Golden Orb” that fell from the sky many thousands of years ago. Through an interpreter, the elder tells the officers that the artifact protected the village with its great power.
“But the orb was stolen, and now the region is dying,” he continues. “Our enemies surround us, and we need your help” to find the hidden object and “restore peace to the area.”
“If finding this thing will get us out of this God-forsaken dirt hole a day early, I’m all for it,” the captain says quietly before declaring: “We accept your quest!”
Following a map given to them by the villagers, the trio quickly gets lost. As night falls, Rena suggests they set up a camp, and Sunstrike tries to call the ship, but interference in the forest blocks all communication.
The captain asks the doctor why she didn’t mention this before, and she replies that Sunstrike told her to take it up with her supervisor. When asked what he said, Powell replies “Um.”
“He said ‘UMMM,’” Rena grumbles.
“It looks like we’re going to have to survive on my expert training,” Sunstrike says, asking what food is in the doctor’s backpack.
The doctor responds that she only packed enough for lunch, but the captain decides to look in the large backpack anyway, and he finds a bottle of dabba juice.
“That’s alcohol for medical use as a disinfectant,” she explains.
“This bottle’s half empty,” Sunstrike states. “Did somebody lose a leg without me noticing? Let’s give this thing a taste.”
Before long, all three officers are “disinfected,” and the captain and the doctor admit that no one on the ship respects the first officer, and they apologize profusely for calling him “Powell” instead of “Commander” and other slights they’ve made in the past.
Just then, Rena hears a sound in the ravine below them. As they move to investigate, Powell complains that he’s dizzy, and the doctor responds that she’s nauseous.
“Look, this is ‘Adventure Time!” the captain states. “There’s no time for whining or getting sick during Adventure Time! There’s only time for adventure during Adventure Time!”
As they look into the ravine, they spot several “sinister, slimy” Vendrexxi who are far from their own territory and are therefore “up to no good,” Sunstrike notes.
But as they attempt to move closer to the tentacled aliens, Powell slips and falls to the ground. Before long, all three of the inebriated officers are captured by the enemy aliens.
When Sunstrike, Powell and Rena regain consciousness, they find themselves prisoners in a cave filled with the cries of tormented children.
A Crodarian boy approaches the officers and tells them they’re in “a terrible place.”
“Can you get us out of the cage?” the captain asks.
After stating that he stole the key from a guard, the boy releases them, and the trio tries to quietly escape.
However, they notice a shaft in which hundreds of Crodarian children are mining quadlithium, which is extremely hazardous. “Those Vendrexxi are using those slave children as disposable miners so they can excavate quadlithium to sell on the intergalactic black market,” the doctor declares.
“Diabolical,” the captain says. “OK, let’s get out of here.”
But as Rena argues that they should rescue the children, the officers are discovered by Vendrexxi guards, and after a brief battle, the humans emerge victorious.
“We have you now, you bug-like scum pile,” Sunstrike gloats to one of the enemy aliens. “I’ll spare your life on one condition: Tell me the location of the Golden Orb.”
When Powell shows the creature the map they’d been using, the Vendrexxi responds that it’s a drawing of the planet’s southern hemisphere, not the northern section when they are.
But while Rena and Sunstrike argue about forcing “Bugsy” to release the children, the alien escapes and gathers reinforcements.
The officers escape and head back to the village, where they can use their communicators to contact the ship. However, the Vendrexxi follow them and launch an attack on the residents.
Spoiler Alert: If you’d rather listen to the end of this audio production yourself, skip down to the link at the end of this article. If not, just continue reading.
To everyone’s surprise, the Crodarians prove to be highly trained in martial arts, and they quickly defeat their enemies.
The village elders then thank Sunstrike and his officers for helping them rescue their children, but they worry that they won’t have enough food to go around.
The captain then orders the ship to beam down crates of state-of-the-art weapons to help the villagers defeat their enemies on all sides.
Later, Sunstrike gloats to Rena and Powell that “the children are free, the Vendrexxi are dead, and the villagers can now defend themselves. TA-DA!”
But Rena complains that the captain “gave one village in the region an imbalanced technological advantage.”
“Give a Crodarian a fish, he eats for a day,” Sunstrike responds. “Teach him how to shoot, he can eat a steak.
“We’ve taught them self-reliance as well, and with that gift, along with the surplus weapons and the new quadlithium mine they have, I’m sure they’ll be able to build a strong civilization,” he continues.
When Powell states that they still have the map and could possibly find the Golden Orb, the captain tells him to “shut up” (so much for the respect he heard about during the campfire), and Rena notes that “I’m so over this planet.” With that, they return to their starship and on to their next adventure..
Time to put on my audio Clint Eastwood hat and get reviewing.
The Good: There’s no way I could possibly cram all the gags and in-jokes into a single review, so for now, you’re just going to have to take my word that “Quest” is as funny and clever as its live-action counterparts. Not only do we learn the name of Sunstrike’s space ship, but we are introduced to new aliens that would be incredibly expensive to bring to the live-action screen.
By now, the three actors know their parts well, and the writing by writer and director Nathan Blackwell continues to be witty and entertaining.
The Bad: I fear that some folks won’t check out this production since it’s in audio rather than live-action. As I’ve said many times before, I recommend everyone not let their lack of enthusiasm for this format keep you from enjoying a great independent production.
The Ugly: After VT’ was very successful in its first season,I’d hoped that a second run would happen almost effortlessly, but like many other fan series, Voyage Trekkers needs our help. Squishy Studios is running a fund-raising campaign to raise a total of $4,000 by March 17 to help build a starship bridge for the GSV Remarkable.
As of Friday, March 8, the campaign has raised $3,150, and we can help put them over the finish line by going to this Web page and making a contribution to this excellent fan-made series.