Starring: Jamahl Epsicokhan (critic-turned-pitcher; narrator), Wade Steinberg (best buddy; travel manager), Joe Menosky (pitch inviter; co-executive producer), Ashley Miller (objective pitch adviser), Mike O'Halloran (tour guide), Bryan Fuller (pitchee; executive story editor), Tim Lynch (retired critic), Ted Liu (final test-pitch victim), Brannon Braga (incidental meeting guy; executive producer)
By Jamahl Epsicokhan
April 26, 2000
Voyager Pitch: "Momentum"
Story by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Pitched to Bryan Fuller on 3/10/2000
Note: The actual pitch was in verbal format and did NOT follow this basic outline word-for-word.
Voyager receives an urgent communication from an uninhabited solar system they're passing through. A small alien medical research colony (limited resources) is mining a rare substance from an asteroid belt here. It is essential for them to mine as much of it as possible to stop a deadly epidemic threatening their homeworld. They tell Voyager they need someone to investigate a potential threat that they can just barely make out on their long-range sensors. Whatever it is, it's BIG, and it's headed their way. They don't have the resources to investigate right now.
Voyager sets course, warp 9 for this object. It's huge. What IS it? A new type of Borg ship? No; it's millions of times more massive than even the largest Borg ship would be. Guess what? It's a PLANET, moving at warp 1. It's an entire society moving their planet from one solar system to another because their star is on the verge of supernova and their rich culture needs to be preserved. It's a massive undertaking that's taken decades of planning and three years of moving. They are days away from entering the solar system.
The problem: The planet movers are going to have to wipe out the asteroid belt in order to attain the proper orbit, and thus possibly destroy the cure to the plague in the process. It's a delicate procedure that requires exact timing and execution. The plan is practically unchangeable without threatening the planet and its population. The planet-movers are sympathetic toward the other aliens' plight, but make no mistake — they've got nowhere else to go and they are COMING THROUGH. Period. Destruction of the asteroid belt must begin no later than several hours before the planet arrives.
Race against the clock. Voyager agrees to try to help both sides hammer out a solution that will hopefully solve the problem for everyone. Tuvok, Seven, and B'Elanna venture to the planet to look for logical tech solutions. Janeway and Doc beam down to the research station to investigate ways of replicating the substance. We watch as both sides of the problem are worked. On several occasions it looks like a possible solution is being reached. But these possible solutions result in failure. For a long time it looks like a breakthrough in replication is imminent, but it continues to fail, resulting in the production of worthless matter. It looks impossible. Destruction of the asteroids begins. With time running out, Tuvok and B'Elanna realize with flash insight that the solution is to use the planet's speed and gravity in their favor, adapting the planet's technology in a way that distorts the gravitational forces and sweeps the asteroids out of the way into a farther orbit in the solar system. It's a calculated risk, but the planet-movers see the merit in the procedure and reluctantly agree. Voyager must put itself at risk to help destroy rogue asteroids that do not get swept out of the way.
The other aliens are evacuated and their research station is destroyed in the process, but the planet-movers, once establishing final orbit, pledge to use their resources to help the aliens mine the materials and cure their epidemic.
Bryan's comments: Bryan was intrigued by the image of the rogue planet, but he thought my application of the planet was too much of a Trek formula, involving two "warring alien races" (although my point was that both were well-intended but at the mercy of larger problems) and the starship Voyager as a mediator to fly in and solve the problem. He thought this was a story that would work better on The Next Generation rather than Voyager's action/adventure style. He suggested that I rework the rogue planet into something more action oriented and pitch it again.
My thoughts: I liked the warp planet as a sci-fi premise we hadn't seen before and I still think my story as-is could be an action show. I envisioned a high "awe factor" in the sight of something so large moving about space like a starship, a marvel at such an engineering feat. Originally, I called this story "Logical Resolution," because I had planned to make Tuvok the main character, and it was going to focus on the idea that a problem was not solvable for both parties, despite Tuvok's best application of logic and creative thinking. I couldn't make that work satisfactorily, so I made it more of an ensemble, race-against-the-clock suspense show where proposed solutions kept failing. The ending was what was trickiest, and it remained vague even in my final pitch, because the solution was something that I pictured as right there all along, but something that required "thinking in reverse." Or something. Not sure how I'll rework this; I actually like this story quite a bit, and the hardest part will be bringing the Voyager characters into the story while maintaining the awe of the warp planet.
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