‘Plato’s Cave’ Part One

Episode Num­ber: 105

Writ­ten by: Mar­co Rafalá

Direct­ed by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 12th Sep­tem­ber 2020

Guest Stars:

  • Crew­man Ewen­di: an engi­neer from Lyonesse.
  • Stoltz: deceased Vul­can xenoar­chae­ol­o­gist (seen in video only)

Cap­tain’s Log: Star­date 9872.2

We have assumed a stan­dard orbit around BC-02e, an Earth-like plan­et in the throes of an ice age. Auto­mat­ed broad­casts from the sur­face indi­cate that the Son­ak left a team of archae­ol­o­gists and pale­o­cli­ma­tol­o­gists here thir­ty years ago. Reports con­tained with­in the broad­casts indi­cate a remark­able find beneath the ice: a col­lec­tion of this world’s crop diver­si­ty stored in a dooms­day seed vault. While we would not expect to find any sur­vivors after so long, we hope to be able to recov­er their data and dis­cov­er what hap­pened to them.

Plot: Lyonesse finds anoth­er long-dead Vul­can out­post on an ice-age world har­bour­ing the remains of an ancient civil­i­sa­tion. Once a land­ing par­ty begins explor­ing the ruins, they dis­cov­er some­thing is still alive.

The ‘A’ Plot: Lyonesse picks up an auto­mat­ed sig­nal from a world des­ig­nat­ed BC-02e, which appears to be from a Vul­can archae­o­log­i­cal expe­di­tion left by Son­ak. The trans­mis­sion is report­ing the dis­cov­ery of what appears to be a dooms­day seed vault left by the extinct civil­i­sa­tion.

Fol­low­ing scans and analy­sis, Capt Masu­da orders Lt Astan to put togeth­er a land­ing par­ty. He takes Lt Valik and one of his team, X, to help extract data records, Dr Vale to inves­ti­gate the seed vault, and a junior secu­ri­ty offi­cer.

Appro­pri­ate­ly equipped with envi­ron­ment suits (the tem­per­a­tures are around ‑52℃ inside the out­post), the team beams onto a trans­porter recep­tion stage. The exposed sur­faces are cov­ered in a deep frost, although the base walls have appar­ent­ly main­tained their integri­ty against the exter­nal cold. Check­ing a schemat­ic on the wall, Astan decides to head straight to the cen­tral con­trol mod­ule of the out­post.

The doors to the con­trol cen­tre are par­tial­ly closed and the con­trols have been blast­ed with a phas­er. They man­age to get the doors open with the appli­ca­tion of some brute force, and dis­cov­er the corpse of a Vul­can sat at a ter­mi­nal. Valik informs them that this is his rel­a­tive, Stoltz. Although there is evi­dence of a head injury, Vale con­firms that he died of stran­gu­la­tion; the head wound appears to have been result of the inser­tion and removal of a device of some kind.

They decide it is now imper­a­tive to restore pow­er and head straight to the reac­tor mod­ule, where they find evi­dence of delib­er­ate van­dal­ism. The reac­tor is pow­ered down and the con­trol pan­els and back­up bat­ter­ies have been destroyed. Valik believes the reac­tor can be brought online, but it will require parts to be brought down from Lyonesse.

As Valik and his assis­tant, Crew­man Ewen­di, begin con­nect­ing the new parts, the team becomes aware of the approach of a tracked robot. As it reach­es the door, it begins utter­ing sounds which the uni­ver­sal trans­la­tor ren­ders as “intrud­er”. A lethal look­ing pro­jec­tile weapon mount­ed on the top of the robot begins to acti­vate, so the team mem­bers scram­ble for cov­er. Astan expends a great deal of effort to close the dam­aged door to pre­vent it enter­ing, and the machine evi­dent­ly dam­ages its manip­u­la­tor arm attempt­ing to open it. A minute or so lat­er, a series of large holes appears in the bar­ri­er as the robot fires its weapon, caus­ing the door to col­lapse. Astan resorts to his phas­er, destroy­ing the machine’s pro­cess­ing unit with one blast.

Valik returns to work, but begins hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty, mak­ing a series of mis­takes as he begins to get unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly stressed. Astan and Vale decide it would be a good idea to get him out of the imme­di­ate area for a while to allow him to cen­tre him­self. The three of them move out to explore the rest of the out­post, check­ing for more robots and oth­er prob­lems.

They quick­ly check sev­er­al mod­ules, reveal­ing the frozen record of the expe­di­tion. They dis­cov­er a PADD con­tain­ing reports of cli­ma­to­log­i­cal and archae­o­log­i­cal find­ings in the lab­o­ra­to­ry and the corpse of what appears to be the expe­di­tion’s engi­neer in the infor­mary. It appears that he died of blood loss due mul­ti­ple gun shots, while try­ing to get med­ical aid.

As they return to the reac­tor mod­ule, Ewen­di suc­ceeds in get­ting the gen­er­a­tor work­ing. Imme­di­ate­ly, the screens around the room dis­play the face of Stoltz, relay­ing a por­tion of a mes­sage to the Son­ak, while a caco­phany of oth­er voic­es is heard from the inter­com sys­tems. Valik is impas­sive as Astan quick­ly shuts down the screens, then leaves for the trans­porter stage to med­i­tate.

Ewen­di man­ages to get Stoltz’s full mes­sage out of the com­put­er sys­tem, and the team learns that the voic­es were sim­ply the com­put­er play­ing all audio logs at the same time – but that the Vul­cans were unable to to do any­thing to stop it. It appeared to be dri­ving them to emo­tion­al dis­trac­tion. He also finds evi­dence that it is being remote­ly con­trolled from some­where with­in the seed vault, but is unable to do any­thing about this.

Astan and Vale dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion and decide that Valik should go back to the ship, where he can be exam­ined away from the voic­es. Mean­while, they become aware of what sounds like a child’s cry­ing from with­in the seed vault.

With all clues point­ing to the seed vault, the group decides to head down to explore the struc­ture.

The ‘B’ Plot: Valik meets with Vale ear­ly on, and con­fides his dis­qui­et about the fate of his uncle Stoltz, a xenoar­chae­ol­o­gist who was on Son­ak. Stoltz was a per­son­al men­tor to the engi­neer when he was younger, and they had many dis­cus­sions on the mer­its of emo­tions and emo­tion­al species. Despite their dif­fer­ences they were close and Stoltz influ­enced much of Valik’s approach to his career.

Valik is under­stand­ably affect­ed when they dis­cov­er Stoltz’s remains at the Vul­can out­post, and has dif­fi­cul­ty main­tain­ing his Vul­can demeanour in the face of his per­son­al feel­ings. This appears to be affect­ing his abil­i­ty to work, and Astan sends him back to the ship under Vale’s advice.

The Arc: Anoth­er of Son­ak’s plan­e­tary mis­sions is dis­cov­ered, this time with a focus on archae­ol­o­gy and cli­ma­tol­ogy. It is just as dead as the first.

Dia­logue: One of the inter­com voic­es: “What about the bod­ies? Alive, alive, alive. A lie. We are a lie! The bod­ies rot.”

Ref­er­ences: BC-02e is a class M world in the mid­dle of an ice age, but most life was wiped out in a run­away green­house event ten thou­sand years ago. The dis­as­ter was caused by overuse of fos­sil fuels by a native civil­i­sa­tion rough­ly equiv­a­lent to Earth in the 21st cen­tu­ry. The Vul­can team named the world Tang­hal IV.

Ques­tions: Who (or what) is cry­ing in the seed vault?

What lies beneath the vault itself, and who or what with­in it is remote­ly-affect­ing the out­post?

Who killed the sci­en­tists?