“Could we pick a more obnoxious place to beam in to?”
— Benjamin Caldwell, on Starbase Expanse 3, is sick of bubbles in “Catalyst, Part One“
Benjamin Caldwell was the chief linguistics officer of the USS Cantabrian (NCC-24705) between 2372 and 2373, and, from 2374 onwards, the USS Cantabrian (NCC-24705-A).
Benjamin Caldwell was born to Dr. Jefferson and then-Commander Sydney Caldwell on 18 May 2346.
Sometime between his mother gaining a promotion to captain and commanding officer of the USS Cartwright (NCC-42953) and 2360, the Cartwright crew discovered an ancient alien artefact and brought it aboard. When Benjamin went to have a look, it activated and altered his genetic structure. This alteration gave him an unnatural ability with deciphering and speaking alien languages.
In 2360, Benjamin’s mother and her crew were lost when the Cartwright disappeared during the Federation-Tzenkethi War. In 2361, his father died from a terminal illness. Benjamin was 16 and became a ward of the state. (“Breaking Benjamin“)
Benjamin Caldwell petitioned Starfleet to be allowed to join Starfleet Academy due to his genetically-altered nature. Starfleet approved this request, and Benjamin attended from 2362 until he graduated in 2366.
2366 to 2367
Fresh out of the Academy, Benjamin Caldwell was assigned to the USS Galaxy (NCC-70637) as a linguistics officer. During aboard his time aboard the Galaxy, he grew very withdrawn and unhappy.
In 2367, the Galaxy made first contact with the elusive Lelari, and, without Benjamin’s help, the first contact may not have been so successful. The Lelari were so impressed with Caldwell’s abilities that they requested a cultural exchange officer, and the Galaxy‘s commanding officer urged Benjamin to undertake this experience. (“Breaking Benjamin“)
2367 to 2372
On Lelar Prime, Benjamin Caldwell discovered vital information about the Myhr’an, Renai’i and other reclusive, hostile and non-aligned races. In addition, he secured Lelari trust: one of the Federation’s main objectives.
By 2372, the Lelari grew to trust outsiders so much they allowed a certain number of non-Lelari (called “offworlders”) to reside, study and work on their homeworld. It was at this time Benjamin Caldwell was moved to Starbase Expanse 4 to await transfer.
Benjamin Caldwell, on a cave tour with several others from SE4, survived the Mhyr’an orbital attack. The aftershock separated Benjamin and Yh’ahni from the others, who were stranded on the other side of the cave-in.
A Cantabrian away team, led by Antonio Fernandes, rescued the survivors. (“Catalyst, Part One“)
Aboard the Starship Cantabrian
Despite not being an official Cantabrian officer, Benjamin Caldwell joined an away team to a Myhr’an scout ship, where he translated a word scratched into the bridge wall, giving the Cantabrian their next clue in pursuing the Myhr’an.
Aboard Starbase Expanse 3, under attack from the Myhr’an, Caldwell translated the Ops door panel, allowing them access to station ops and allowing them to escape to the Cantabrian. (“Catalyst, Part One“)
After the death of the Cantabrian‘s chief linguistics officer Threk, Captain Noah Wrightson asked Benjamin Caldwell to join the Cantabrian team. Shortly thereafter, Caldwell assisted the Cantabrian away team, led by Elizabeth Singh, in disabling an alien transmission device vital to the Myhr’an cause. (“Catalyst, Part Two“)
The Lelari charged Caldwell with attempted mass murder and attempted genocide and demanded his extradition to Lelar Prime, a move supported by Starfleet despite protests by Wrightson. With Dr. Marie Bourget acting as his defence, he faced the court case presided over by three of the highest judges in the Lelari justice system, and the prosecution, led by Helena Bourget, alleged Caldwell introduced the Taris Syndrome to Lelar Prime: a disease with extremely variable and often devastating effects on the population. Caldwell was found innocent. (“Breaking Benjamin“)
When the Treaty Killers attacked the Cantabrian to abduct or kill Cantabrian counselor Daniel Radke, they took interest in both Caldwell and Helena Bourget when they ran into each other in a corridor after boarding the ship. Security chief Yh’ahni, by her appearance alone to defend Caldwell and Bourget, scared the Treaty Killers away team off. (“White Flag“)
After helping save the natives of Magham III from the aftereffects of Samantha Delaney’s folded space drive prototype, they gave him an artefact for him to decypher. Cryptically similar to the artefact that altered his genetic structure as a teenager, the artefact established some sort of parasitic telepathic link with Caldwell. This link caused him to grow obsessed with translating the artefact, and, upon its decyphering, the artefact altered Caldwell’s genetic code again; however, on closer inspection by Dr. Bourget, no harm came from the alteration other than increasing Caldwell’s ability to decypher languages. (“Better the Devil You Know“)
Along with Captain Wrightson, first officer Liz Singh, and Daniel Radke, Caldwell was kidnapped from the damaged Cantabrian by a Myhr’an boarding party and held aboard the Myhr’an super battle cruiser. After being released by the traitorous Helena Bourget, Caldwell and Singh fought several Myhr’an off to gain access to the multidimensional transmission chamber. Caldwell disabled the gateway between normal space and whatever subspace area that lay beyond, shutting down the gateway and disabling the Myhr’an ship. The Cantabrian rescued Caldwell, and the others, before the Myhr’an ship self-destructed. (“Deceptions“)
During the Treaty Killers’ attack on Deep Space 4, where the Cantabrian crew were stationed during the Cantabrian‘s repair, the Treaty Killers’ away teams took particular interest again in Caldwell. He, along with Daniel Radke, escaped aboard the USS Aotearoa, which eventually defeated the Treaty Killers. (“Repercussions”)
Caldwell began feeling unwell and noticed strange symptoms, including a “shimmering”-like effect on his skin. Despite this, he refused to seek medical attention. Upon the discovery of the saucer section of his mother’s starship on a remote planet, Caldwell convinced Captain Wrightson to allow him to go with the away team.
In the wreckage, with no sign of where the survivors were, he discovered his mother’s quarters with a message pending on her monitor. Once activated, his mother warned him the Cartwright‘s wreckage was a trap for him. The warning came too late; a third and final artefact triggered, knocking Caldwell unconscious. Aboard the Cantabrian, Dr. Bourget informed him he’d been infected with the Taris Syndrome. Bourget cleared him to return to duty as the Taris Syndrome was not contagious or infectious by casual contact. Neither his mother, nor her crew, were found. (“Bitter Sweet”)
Shortly thereafter, in an attempt to raise his spirits, Caldwell agreed to help Tawana Jonar undergo the zhian’tara ceremony, embodying Salin Jonar. This brought some great inner peace and strength to him, as part of Salin remained a memory to him. (“Finding the Edges of Who She Is”)
Caldwell was also one of the members of the away team who beamed over to a damaged Dark Starship to stop Samantha Delaney from firing her temporal weapon at Earth. (“By All Means Necessary”)
Excerpt from Admiral’s report
Profile by Admiral Zahara Hogan. Stardate 49439.8.
Lieutenant Benjamin Caldwell has the remarkable talent of near instantaneous understanding of a language after mere minutes. Unhappy with his assignment aboard the USS Galaxy, Caldwell jumped at the opportunity to serve as the Federation’s cultural exchange officer to the mysterious, reclusive Lelari on their homeworld, Lelar Prime, where he not only bridged the gap between the Federation and the Lelari but also learned vital information on other races including the Myhr’an and the Renai’i.
Lieutenant Caldwell lost his mother during the Tzenkethi War, when her ship, the Cartwright, never returned from a top secret mission. A year later, his father, one of the Federation’s leading exoendocrinologists, fell terminally ill and died. Caldwell was 15.
Caldwell finished his tour on Lelar Prime and has been instructed to wait in Federation space at Starbase Expanse 4 for further assignment.