‘Darkness’ Part One

Epis­ode Num­ber: 103

Writ­ten by: Sam Webb

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 8th July 2020

Guest Stars:

  • Menos: deceased Vul­can sci­ence officer (seen in video only)

We have detec­ted a dis­tress call that appears to have eman­ated from a Vul­can Exped­i­tion­ary Group trans­mit­ter on the world below us, des­ig­nated BC-01c. We are assum­ing the trans­mit­ter is asso­ci­ated with the lost VES Sonak, as no oth­er Vul­can ves­sels are known to have entered the Black Cluster. We lost the sig­nal itself one day ago, but are now in orbit around its ori­gin. The dis­tress call read, in Vul­can: “We require imme­di­ate assist­ance, atmo­spher­ic con­di­tions have proven too haz­ard­ous to the exped­i­tion to con­tin­ue. One team lost, their coordin­ates are enclosed. Two mem­bers of the exped­i­tion remain here at base camp T’Vral. We request imme­di­ate extrac­tion. Mes­sage repeats.”

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate 9828.0

Plot: The crew of Lyo­n­esse explores the first plan­et it has dis­covered with­in the Black Cluster.

The ‘A’ Plot: As a small pod of gormaganders swoop past, Capt Mas­uda orders a closer approach to the world from which the dis­tress sig­nal eman­ated. It ceased broad­cast­ing about 24 hours ago.

The plan­et is covered in a dense lay­er of dark cloud, which is absorb­ing most of the energy from the world’s sun. Ini­tial attempts to per­form a detailed scan of the world and hunt for the source of the sig­nal fail, as the atmo­sphere is block­ing sensors. They opt to use remote sensor probes, although the first one makes it only about half-way to the sur­face before con­tact is lost. A sub­sequent probe is able to pen­et­rate the murk and return to a des­ig­nated alti­tude to report back.

Ensign Lock ana­lyses the data, report­ing that the sur­face is extremely dark and very hot, indic­at­ing a Class Y ‘Demon’ world, although prop­erly-adjus­ted envir­on­ment suits would keep land­ing party mem­bers safe. He is also able to loc­ate what appears to be the remains of a research camp in one loc­a­tion, pre­sum­ably the ori­gin of the dis­tress call.

An away team is assembled, under the com­mand of Lt Astan, and includ­ing Ensign Kheled, Lt Cdr Valik and Dr Vale, and sent to the sur­face in the shuttle­craft Mor­gana. Although the atmo­sphere is tur­bu­lent, Kheled is able to get the shuttle close to the sur­face, before it is hit by some­thing in the murk. The ini­tial impact dis­ables the drive sys­tems, so Valik is forced to carry out in-flight repairs, as Kheled tries to get the small ves­sel to safety before it is hit again, all indic­a­tions being that the impact was inten­tion­al, although by what is unclear.

They suc­cess­fully reach the sur­face near the camp without being hit again, and begin to sur­vey the dam­age. Kheled believes he can fix the dam­age him­self, so the oth­ers don envir­on­ment suits and head over to the camp.

The camp is made up of a series of pre­fab­ric­ated durani­um cab­ins (a com­mon set up for medi­um-term research facil­it­ies), but the indi­vidu­al struc­tures have been heav­ily dam­aged, with a couple par­tially crushed. No power can be detec­ted in the sys­tem. Ven­tur­ing in through one of the air­locks, they find no sign of life, or bod­ies. Even­tu­ally, hav­ing explored the entire struc­ture, they man­age to power up on of the com­puter sys­tems and search for reseach logs.

They man­age to recov­er the log of Menos, one of the Vul­can sci­ent­ists, con­tain­ing a descrip­tion of the first six months of the plan­et­ary mis­sion. Appar­ently, the world was ori­gin­ally class H, if a little dim for that clas­si­fic­a­tion, with its own bio­me. Evid­ently things changed after a series of met­eor­ite impacts across the sur­face. A team sent to invest­ig­ate nev­er returned, then the atmo­sphere began to darken. Even­tu­ally, the camp came under attack by an unknown ali­en spe­cies, appar­ently res­ult­ing in the loss of the entire team.

Ven­tur­ing out­side, the team find the remains of two Vul­cans, still in their breached envir­on­ment suits. Con­sult­ing with the oth­ers team mem­bers, Astan decides to return the bod­ies and the logs to Lyo­n­esse for fur­ther examination.

They are able to return without incid­ent and in the sub­sequent debrief, options for explor­ing the impact site men­tioned in the logs are dis­cussed. They send a probe, care­fully emis­sions shiel­ded, to recon­noitre the site. It reports a wide crater, with what appears to be a sol­id object at the centre, pos­sibly a ves­sel. The Vul­can exped­iton’s skim­mer rests nearby, with suited fig­ures sprawled along the crater rim.

The Arc: The first signs of Sonak are detec­ted, a research camp left to work while the ship explores else­where. Lt Valik com­ments that this is a com­mon prac­tice in the VEG.

Obser­va­tions: Capt Mas­uda seems to have an unusu­ally high regard for the safety of her crew. Not a single name­less crew mem­ber is killed.

Ref­er­ences: The crew have des­ig­nated their first dis­cov­ery as BC-01c. It’s a Class Y “Demon” world, with high tem­per­at­ures and little light at sur­face level.

Ques­tions: What changed the atmo­sphere of BC-01c, and why?