‘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

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.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate 9828.3, supplemental

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…