‘Darkness’ Part Two

Episode Num­ber: 104

Writ­ten by: Sam Webb

Direct­ed by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 12th August 2020

Guest Stars:

  • Menos: deceased Vul­can sci­ence offi­cer (seen in video only)
  • Ensign Saurik: Vul­can offi­cer in Stel­lar Cartography

Cap­tain’s Log: Star­date 9828.3, supplemental

The shut­tle was attacked as it came in to land on the sur­face, the crew were able to make a land­ing and Lt Cmdr Valik made tem­po­rary repairs to the engine. Lt Astan eval­u­at­ed that the mis­sion was able to pro­ceed and the remains of the base camp left by the Son­ak were explored. Unfor­tu­nate­ly our worst fears were con­firmed when Dr Vale found two of the expe­di­tion dead, along with evi­dence that their prob­lems began with a mete­orite impact and a sub­se­quent storm, which changed the atmos­phere itself. The last log entry says they were under attack and tried to aban­don their posi­tion pay­ing the ulti­mate price. This means that BC-01C was a Class H world and is now read­ing as Class Y. What could have caused such a dras­tic change in so short a peri­od of time?

We have sent a probe down to the impact site, dis­cov­er­ing a crater which still con­tains the object which caused it. We also believe we have found the bod­ies of the rest of the sur­vey mis­sion. It seems an away team should be sent to the impact site, but with so lit­tle infor­ma­tion it is dif­fi­cult to know if we might not find our­selves in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion to that of the crew of the Son­ak. Giv­en the exist­ing evi­dence, we might also find our­selves in a First Con­tact situation.

Plot: The crew of Lyonesse con­tin­ues delv­ing into the mys­ter­ies of BC-01c, and makes first con­tact with an intel­li­gent life­form with­in the Cluster.

The ‘A’ Plot: The cap­tain recon­venes the con­fer­ence, and the senior offi­cers dis­cuss the lat­est infor­ma­tion. Lt Astan sug­gests that there may be some residue from the object that struck the shut­tle Mor­gana, and that it may be worth analysing.

Lt Valik is able to retrieve a small amount of a rocky sub­stance and Dr Vale works with the chem­i­cal lab to car­ry out an analy­sis. From the struc­ture of the sam­ple, they con­clude that the float­ing object may have been a sil­i­con-based lifeform.

While the senior offi­cers are dis­cussing this, Ens Lock reports that atmos­pher­ic dis­tur­bances are build­ing on the plan­et, near the crater.

A return to the plan­et is sug­gest­ed, with the inten­tion of vis­it­ing the crater site. Since the col­li­sion on the pre­vi­ous trip may have been delib­er­ate, the cap­tain orders the user of Lyonesse’s scount shut­tle, Nimuë, a fast shut­tle­craft with pow­er­ful sen­sors, adapt­ed for low vis­i­bil­i­ty and manoeu­ver­abil­i­ty. Valik installs extra shield­ing, to help pro­tect against elec­tri­cal dis­charges in the storms.

Astan and Ens Kheled take Nimuë back to the sur­face, suc­cess­ful­ly avoid­ing impacts, although there is a near-miss, dur­ing which they get a glimpse of what appears to be a float­ing rock the size of the shut­tle. They make a low pass over the crater, spot­ting the alien “ship” at its cen­tre, as well as sev­er­al more float­ing rocks, and the suit­ed bod­ies of sev­er­al Vul­cans. Kheled aborts the mis­sion when Astan sud­den­ly comes under what appears to be a psion­ic attack, feel­ing as if an exter­nal force is attempt­ed to flood his mind. As they flee the area, Kheled notices the float­ing crea­tures in the area delib­er­ate­ly react­ing to their presence.

As this takes place, Lock records anoth­er increase in atmos­pher­ic activ­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in the form of light­ning strikes, above the area. They begin to won­der if it could it be anal­o­gous to neur­al activ­i­ty? Is it pos­si­ble that a gaseous life­form is lurk­ing in the clouds, or that the clouds them­selves are a lifeform?

Back on Lyonesse, Astan is thor­ough­ly exam­ined by Vale; he seems to be ok, apart from a lin­ger­ing headache, but she rec­om­mends tak­ing the rest of the day off. A hypoth­e­sis emerges that the pro­posed life­form was try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with Astan tele­path­i­cal­ly. Despite his empath­ic abil­i­ties, Astan is not a telepath and is not capa­ble of under­stand­ing tele­path­ic sig­nals. He was sim­ply being bat­tered by a more pow­er­ful mind.

Vale pro­pos­es a plan to try to com­mu­ni­cate through a true telepath. While there are none onboard, Ens Saurik, a Vul­can sci­ence offi­cer, is trained in the mind­meld. Vul­cans are touch telepaths with no range, but meld­ing with Astan should allow them to com­bine their capa­bil­i­ties and com­mu­ni­cate at range.

After some prac­tice, the go-ahead is giv­en and Astan and Saurik return to the mind­meld as the ship approach­es what appears to be an opti­mal range. The process works, but not quite as expect­ed. Saurik is sup­posed to be using Astan as a con­duit to speak to the life­form, while pro­vid­ing defences for the secu­ri­ty offi­cer, but as soon as it spots the Vul­can, the life­form con­cen­trates all its efforts there. Saurik has to focus all his capa­bil­i­ties on avoid­ing being washed away by the pow­er of the mind. Astan is large­ly ignored and is able to com­mu­ni­cate through the Vul­can, tak­ing on a diplo­mat­ic role.

He suc­ceeds in estab­lish­ing first con­tact, dis­cov­er­ing that the life­form is indeed sen­tient, although it had believed itself to be unique in that sense. It had tried to com­mu­ni­cate with the Vul­cans but acci­den­tal­ly killed them as it was not famil­iar with their forms. It is fas­ci­nat­ed by the Fed­er­a­tion and the idea of oth­er inhab­it­ed worlds, and is curi­ous to learn more.

The Arc: Sen­sors show two “pas­sages” lead­ing out of this clear bub­ble with­in the neb­u­la. The cap­tain decides to fol­low the one to rimward.

Obser­va­tions: Astan’s piv­ot to lead on the first con­tact is both unex­pect­ed and remark­ably log­i­cal giv­en the circumstances.

There is quite the debate as to whether the crea­ture is sub­ject to the Prime Direc­tive: it’s intel­li­gent and inter­stel­lar but restrict­ed to sub­light speeds. Where does the line fall? It’s large­ly moot since it knows about the Fed­er­a­tion now.

Ref­er­ences: The new life­form is elec­tro­mag­net­ic in nature, exist­ing with­in clouds of sil­i­con-based dust and using sil­i­con-based pup­pets as its “hands”. It migrates slow­ly from sys­tem to sys­tem, ter­raform­ing the world to pro­vide a suit­able habi­tat. While it was aware of oth­er liv­ing things, it had not con­sid­ered them sen­tient and did not care about the impact of its activities.

Dr Vale notes the exis­tence of oth­er life­forms based on non-car­bon bio­chem­istry, includ­ing the Hor­ta seen in the orig­i­nal series.

Lyonesse pos­sess­es a stealthy “scout shut­tle”, paint­ed near black and dubbed Nimuë.

Ensign Saurik is a Vul­can stel­lar car­tog­ra­ph­er, and trained in Vul­can psion­ic dis­ci­plines, unlike Valik.

Ques­tions: While the being insists it’s not hos­tile, it is very inter­est­ed in the uni­verse beyond the Cluster…