A common practice on many science-fiction TV shows and movies is to concentrate on the “stars” while considering other characters as “secondary” or “recurring.”
However, many independent productions are happy to shine the spotlight on what might otherwise be considered “minor” roles. An excellent example of this is the new Star Trek: Osiris episode, entitled “Relay 97.”
As you might have guessed, this 24-minute vignette begins at a certain remote Starfleet subspace communications relay a year before the events that took place in earlier episodes of Osiris, when Section 31 took over the United Federation of Planets.
On the small station, Lieutenant Alyssa Young (Lindsey Black) receives a message from the U.S.S. Hera that the starship is delivering equipment and supplies, as well as “a little company” in the form of Lieutenant Aaron Burton (Jeffrey Hart Peterson).
The Starfleet officers get off to a rough start when Burton extends his right hand in friendship, and Young ignores him.
“Nice to meet you, too,” Burton states before asking: “Are you always like this?”
“Like what?” Young replies harshly.
“Rude,” he says.
“Listen, Adam–” she responds.
“Aaron,” he states.
“Aaron,” she continues. “This station is due for a major overhaul. Without the equipment necessary to upgrade the transceiver array, the slightest subspace glitch would send thousands of transmissions into empty space.”
“I’ve been briefed on the situation,” Burton says. “It’s the reason I’m here, actually.”
“The compensator for the array will be here on the next supply run in a couple of months,” he adds.
When Young asks why he didn’t just tell her that before, he says he “assumed after a couple of months out here on your own, you’d appreciate a little human interaction first.”
“Never assume anything,” she snorts. “You probably also assumed this assignment would be easy.”
“Not in the slightest,” Burton states, “especially when I discovered that there have been five requests for transfer off this relay, none of which have come from you.”
“Six, actually,” she responds. “I’m quite sure you’ll be drafting yours very soon.”
“Never assume anything,” Burton says as he throws Young’s words back at her. “I’ve always loved a good challenge. I’m gonna be your new favorite person.”
“I highly doubt that,” she responds. “We have a lot of work to do.”
The story continues 95 days later, when the lieutenants are still at odds and Burton accuses Young of being “a pair of pointy ears from being a Vulcan.”
“The station is only equipped to handle up to a Level 5,” Young notes..”Shields aren’t going to be able to withstand so much ionization.”
“Well then, we have two hours to make them able to stand that much,” Burton says. “I think I can modify the graviton wave compensator and boost shield output,” a task he has to perform manually elsewhere in the station.
Young does her part by adjusting for the additional load on the shield grid, though she states a few conduits might blow when the storm hits.
But even with the intensified shields, Young’s console explodes, knocking her unconscious to the floor.
When Young wakes up, she’s still recovering with Burton watching over her. “It turns out we make a good team after all,” he says.
It seems that Young’s attitude has undergone a major change as she smiles for the first time since Burton arrived and admits he’s “the closest thing I’ve had to a friend.”
“What can I say?” he replies. “I’ve always liked a good challenge.”
Burton kisses Young, then tells her to rest while he attends to station business.
This time, the story jumps to the day Helena Breako (played by Kim Czas) becomes president of the Federation (in Eclipse, Part 1).
While Young thinks the new leader “is doing a wonderful job,”Burton says he thinks that “Starfleet should be a shining example of the Federation’s strength.”
Soon after, Young learns that the computer isn’t picking up any comm traffic in the entire sector, but Burton dismisses that as a “hiccup” in the system.
Moments later, the computer prepares to receive and transmit a message from Admiral James Bradford (James Howard Carr), the Section 31 leader who has just taken over the Federation.
When Young asks this time what’s going on, Bradford pulls out his phaser and aims it at her. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he says nervously. “Please just stay out of my way and let this happen.”
“If you won’t tell me what’s going on,” Young says, “I’ll find out for myself,” and she leaves the chamber.
Spoiler Alert: If you’d rather watch the fan film’s ending yourself, skip down to the link at the end of this article. If not, just continue reading.
Young quickly uses her technical know-how to determine that Section 31 has taken control of the UFP, and rather than let that message be sent out by the station, she launches the log buoy and then activates an overload of the station’s energy system.
When Burton tells Young to reverse the program, she responds that at one point he told her to feel something. “Now I know what it feels like to sacrifice yourself for the greater good,” she states.
The station falls into silence before exploding into an enormous fireball.
A week later, the U.S.S. Osiris arrives on the scene to find out what happened to the communications relay. First Officer Alaric Thorrson (T. Michael Adams) uses entries in the log buoy and fragments of the station’s computer to piece together what happened there seven days earlier.
After hearing Thorrson’s report, Captain Kieron Bale (played by Jay Miller, who also wrote and directed the vignette) concludes that Burton must have been the Section 31 operative assigned to the station.
The first officer makes his final points by indicating that Relay 97 was the communication hub for four sectors of the quadrant, which means that 10 starships aren’t aware of the coup that just took place.
Nevertheless, Bale states that the Osiris is under orders to guard the area until a new relay can be put in place.
When the first officer leaves, Bale looks out a window into the debris field as a fragment of the station with the number 97 on it drifts by.
Fortunately, I’ve got my Clint Eastwood hat right here, so let’s get reviewing.
The Good: As with just about every independent production, “Relay 97” is another leap in quality from the group’s previous episodes. The story was well written, the uniforms and props were spot on and the effects were terrific.
Also, the vignette sets up some story points we’ll probably see played out in future episodes. What will happen on the other starships when they find out what’s taken place? Will they take sides in the UFP coup, and if so, what happens next?
The Bad: Lately, I’ve been fooled by story twists in other fan films, but this time, I had a sneaking suspicion that things would turn out as they did. Still, the story is so well played that it draws a strong response from me, even after a number of viewings.
The Ugly: During most of the episode, I was right there in outer space with the characters until one tiny item plopped me back in my chair on Earth. When the station was hit by the ion storm, Young shook somewhat as a result of the impact. The only problem was that the background behind her didn’t budge at all. That wasn’t a serious thing, but something to keep in mind for the next episode of Star Trek: Osiris.