‘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)

Cap­tain’s Log: Star­date 9828.4

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.”

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?