‘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)

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.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate 9833.3

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, Crew­man Ewendi, to help extract data records, Dr Vale to invest­ig­ate the seed vault, and a secur­ity specialist.

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 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?