|Wing Commander Academy episode|
|Blair and Payback scout an unstable jump node|
|Air date||Nov. 9th, 1996|
|Previous episode||Chain of Command|
|Writers||Mark Edens/Ted Pederson/Francis Moss|
|Preceding episode||Word of Honor|
|Subsequent episode||Chain of Command|
Expendable is the seventh episode of Wing Commander Academy TV series.
The TCS Tiger's Claw prepares to exit jump space. 3 Scimitars and a Broadsword are waiting at the hangar. The Claw jumps out near a pulsar. The fighters go out ordered to identify an unknown contact nav jump node. Maniac as always complies excited.
Maverick identifies it as a Kilrathi jump buoy. Maniac uploads sensor data to the Claw. Nelson suggests to Commodore Geoffrey Tolwyn that they should use this to track Kilrathi movement through this node. Tolwyn however orders the pilot to destroy it. Maniac goes in with Archer while Maverick flies backup, warning them that buoys are armed with defense mechanisms. Indeed it activates its target system and launches all four missiles from its pod against the pilots. They shoot one down, and launch decoys, which however fool only another one. The other two pursue Maniac who loops and manages to guide one of them through the remaining decoy. The last one follows Maniac too close but Maverick comes and saves him.
Archer continues the attack run but the buoy launches 2 more missiles which Archer destroys in one shot and moments later she destroys the buoy, a success she much needed. As they return to the Claw, Maverick mocks Maniac for being necessary to save his life, to which Maniac replies that he won't ever need him.
Tolwyn has gathered Maverick, Maniac, Archer, Grunt, Hyena and Payback in the briefing room and discuss about their discovery. The supernode generated by a pulsar works differently that regular jump nodes: depending on speed and approach angle, you end up to a pulsar with a corresponding frequency, even to the other side of the galaxy. Tolwyn needs Broadsword bombers to do jump reconnaisance, to which Maniac, Payback, Maverick and Archer volunteer. Grunt does not, as he learned from the marines "never volunteer". Tolwyn assigns to Blair the command of the flight and Payback his wingman, and Maniac reacts, claiming that he is a better Broadsword pilot.
Maverick boards his Broadsword and Maya McEaddens shows him the controls, worried about his long jump and equipped them with extra life support packs. As he leaves, Maniac is envious that he stays behind, believing that Tolwyn chose Maverick because of the Blair family connections.
On the bridge of the Claw, psychiatrist Guthrig Andropolos tells Tolwyn that cadets complain about a perceived favoritism towards Maverick, which Tolwyn dismisses, as dangerous missions are not a favor to anyone. He then orders the comm operator to launch the Broadswords.
Maverick loads the jump coordinates to the guidance system and with Payback they enter the jump node.
On the other side, they receive multiple but inconsistent readings. They are engaged by two Sarthas; Payback shoots one and pursues the other while Maverick plots a course back to the jump node. Payback however is immersed, having waited or such opportunity a long time, and refuses to obey the orders. Maverick refuses to leave her and joins her. They approach two Fralthi-classs, which begin to fire. Payback launches two missiles, one is shot down, but the other one is enough to destroy one Fralthi, her first Payback.
Three Grikaths are launched from the remaining Fralthi (the KIS Ras Nik'hra), led by Garahl nar Hhallas who wants to avenge his brothers. Payback shoots down one Grikath, but Garahl damages seriously her Broadsword with a missile, and finishes it with shots. Payback ejects. Garahl orders his wingman not to destroy the pod, but capture it with a magnetic grappler. Maverick comes to her rescue, destroying the Grikath, and launching a missile against Garahl, which renders his Grikath inoperable. While he is trying to regain control, Maverick salvages Payback's pod and returns towards the pulsar.
Maverick finds Sarthas stationed between them and the pulsar, and refuses to drop Payback. He arms torpedoes for timed flight detonation dispersing them. They return to hit Maverick but they are unable to shot him before he enters the jump node.
The Broadsword is in jump space back to the Claw, and Payback apologises to Maverick. Nonetheless he scolds Payback for disregarding Tolwyn's orders of non-engagement, sacrificing her ship and endangering their mission, and that he considers reporting her to Tolwyn.
Garahl arrives to the throne room on board the Agon Ra Sivar. The captain of Ras Nik'hra is also there, reporting that they destroyed ona enemy ship before driving them out. Prince Thrakhath (who is having a lunch), talks to Garahl, the son of his old friend, a warrior who was like second son to who was killed by humans. He saw him the potential of his father and promoted him, too quickly according to some. After Ras Nik'hra's failure to capture the humans, he names Galahr the new captain.
Meanwhile, Maverick tries to patch the backup life support on his Broadsword, as the final hit took it offline, hoping that it will last through the hypernode. They don't know they are followed by a swarm of Dralthis.
The life support is failing and there are still 3 hours to go until leaving jump space. Exhausted, the two cadets exchange their background: Payback always wanted to escape her family and run away; she joined a mining company and flew ore shuttles, but it was hard to be alone. Years later she visited her family on Icarus Colony when a Kilrathi destroyer dropped a bomb annihilating the colony. The destroyer might have been among those they encountered. Maverick says that he joined the Academy to be worthy of the Blair name, like a General Blair in every Civil War.
The Broadsword makes it out of the jump point, however there is no sign of the Claw. Payback collapses.
Tolwyn is on the bridge having ordered communication silence. Nelson suggests to hail the Broadsword, but Tolwyn refuses, expecting the arrival of possible Kirlathi forces. He explains to Andropolos that all soldiers, including himself, are expendable, and won't risk the advantage of surprise by powering up the Claw.
A wing of Scimitars is stationed in formation. Maniac feels that Maverick is alive and is urged to go and help him, but Archer reminds him their orders.
Soon seven Dralthi emerge from the jump node, and Tolwyn tells the com-tech to open a comlink, ordering the Scimitars to power up and engage the enemy. The Kilrathi run towards the Broadsword and they are surprised by 13 Scimitars. After two are off, they head towards the node, and are pursued one by one until wiped out. One last Dralthi continues the attack run against the Broadword but Maniac is unable to stop it.
Meanwhile, Maverick is passed out, and sees a vision with his father, telling him that he is the last of 40 generations of Blairs, and he should not let go of a life it took so many to create. He offers his hand, and as Christopher reaches for it, he activates a missile launch, which destroys he attacker, signifying that he is alive. Maniac approaches and tractors the Broadsword back to the Claw.
In the sickbay, Blair narrates his experience to Maniac and Payback, seeing his father, and then imagining that Maniac saved his life, which Maniac denies he ever did. Tolwyn shows up mentioning that he expects a full report, and inquires what happend to the lost Broadsword. Blair lies that the Kilrathi attacked right after they jumped out, and had no time to react before fighting their way back. Tolwyn reminds him that lying to the CO, like disobeying orders means getting expelled from the Academy and asks if he told the truth. Maverick however abides, Blairs never lie.
- The cyan haired com-tech is seen while Tolwyn and Nelson receive the readings of the buoy, but he has a slightly different design than his other appearances.
- McEaddens gives a description of the Broadsword armament. It is equipped with wing plasma guns, quad lasers linked to the heads-up computer, a rear firing particle cannon and dumb fire image recog missiles.
- It is the first episode that Maya seems to worry about Blair, foreshadowing an affection that will be expressed in Recreation and other episodes.
- It is the first appearance of Agon Ra Sivar
- It is the first time that Maniac "questions" Tolwyn's orders when he doesn't pick him. He will repeat this reaction, cf. Glory of Sivar.
- The Fralthis are described as destroyers, instead of cruisers as in other canon sources.
- Thrakhath at one point mentions "...my father, the Emperor". However his father was Crown Prince Gilkarg nar Kiranka, and The Emperor was actually his grandfather. See Chosen Claw somewhat clunky but possible explanation.