‘Plato’s Cave’ Part Two

Episode Num­ber: 106

Writ­ten by: Mar­co Rafalá

Direct­ed by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 17th Octo­ber 2020

Guest Stars:

  • Crew­man Ewen­di: an engi­neer from Lyonesse.

Cap­tain’s Log: Star­date 9872.2, supplemental

Although Lt Valik has returned to Lyonesse, appar­ent­ly suf­fer­ing from some form of psy­cho­log­i­cal trau­ma, the land­ing par­ty has pro­ceed­ed with the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Vul­can archae­o­log­i­cal team’s out­post, and the sub­ter­ranean struc­tures they were study­ing. Lt Astan’s team have uncov­ered evi­dence of a vio­lent end for the Vul­cans and have report­ed evi­dence of ener­gy gen­er­a­tion and usage with­in what appears to have been a seed vault. Their addi­tion­al reports of a child’s voice call­ing for help from with­in the vault are con­cern­ing: there is no way such a per­son could be alive in that environment.

Plot: The land­ing par­ty’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the Vul­can site on BC-02e con­tin­ues, as they enter the seed vault and dis­cov­er a hid­den tun­nel lead­ing to what appears to have once been a mis­sile silo repur­posed as a “dooms­day vault” for a small num­ber of res­i­dents. Despite it being over a mil­len­ni­um since it was built, some­thing is still active within.

The ‘A’ Plot: Hav­ing sur­veyed the Vul­can sci­en­tists’ facil­i­ty, the land­ing par­ty begins its explo­ration of the native seed vault. Lieu­tenant Astan asks Crew­man Ewen­di to work out how to dis­con­nect the pow­er cables from the Vul­can fusion reac­tor, in case of an emer­gency. Ewen­di reports that break­ing the con­nec­tion could be a bad idea: the feed­back would be like­ly to cause a pow­er­ful explo­sion. They aban­don that idea and enter the vault.

The entry is a tun­nel deep into the bedrock of the plan­et. At the end is a large cham­ber con­tain­ing 3 sep­a­rate vaults and a con­trol room. They find that prim­i­tive com­put­ers in the con­trol room are still mon­i­tor­ing con­di­tions with­in the seed vaults them­selves, which are pro­tect­ed by a dou­ble air­lock sys­tem. Ewen­di notes that the pow­er to main­tain all this is far less than that being drawn from the fusion reactor.

While Dr Vale is exam­in­ing the doors, a hid­den pan­el in the side wall opens, reveal­ing a tiled pas­sage­way lead­ing fur­ther into the moun­tain. A tri­corder scan reveals that it leads to the large void iden­ti­fied by the ear­li­er scans from Lyonesse. They cau­tious­ly ven­ture in, arriv­ing in a large cir­cu­lar room filled with shelves of rot­ting veg­eta­bles – it appears to be some­thing akin to a food mar­ket. On the oth­er side of the room are a lift and a door to a ramp spi­ralling around the out­side of the room. After some debate, they opt to use the ramp to go down.

One lev­el down, they reach what appears to be a med­ical cen­tre, com­plete with a small hos­pi­tal, a phar­ma­cy and offices. While Vale is exam­in­ing the treat­ment rooms, they hear more strange nois­es over the inter­com, includ­ing sin­is­ter laugh­ter. A small robot appears and tries to per­suade them to enter a hid­den ele­va­tor, but Astan decides this would not be safe.

They leave the med­ical cen­tre and ven­tur­ing down anoth­er lev­el, they find a sol­id, secured door. Bypass­ing this, they find sev­er­al lev­els of liv­ing quar­ters, an edu­ca­tion cen­tre, a recre­ation lev­el, a hydro­pon­ics facil­i­ty and a lev­el full of pumps and oth­er pro­cess­ing machin­ery. This facil­i­ty was obvi­ous­ly a dooms­day sur­vival bunker. But what hap­pened to the inhabitants?

Return­ing to the top of the struc­ture, they find what appears to be a con­trol room, over­look­ing a series of hydro­car­bon-fuelled pow­er gen­er­a­tors. All are defunct, and the facil­i­ty appears to be run­ning off the pow­er from the Vul­can gen­er­a­tor. Ewendi’s attempt to hack into the com­put­ers fails and he finds him­self locked out of fur­ther attempts.

The sec­ond lev­el down from the con­trol room appears to be an armoury and secu­ri­ty lev­el. Find­ing that it is defend­ed by sev­er­al of the armed tracked drones that they fought ear­li­er, Astan decides it would be too dan­ger­ous to inves­ti­gate fur­ther at this point.

Return­ing to the med­ical lev­el, the land­ing par­ty inves­ti­gates the hid­den ele­va­tor. Astan’s ini­tial vis­it assures him that it’s safe, so the oth­ers fol­low him, arriv­ing in a short cor­ri­dor. The small robot leads them into a side room where they are shown a short video record­ing: a mes­sage request­ing the destruc­tion of its author, accom­pa­nied by images of a lone boy and of the Vul­can sci­en­tists, strapped into sur­gi­cal chairs in a large room.

They exit the far end of the cor­ri­dor and emerge into the lev­el below the med­ical cen­tre. This is a large room, packed with odd egg-shaped pods. In the cen­tre of the room is a huge tow­er, which appears to be some kind of com­put­er. As they ven­ture fur­ther into the room, they dis­cov­er the sur­gi­cal chairs from the video, occu­pied by the long dead bod­ies of the Vul­can expe­di­tion mem­bers. Their skulls have been opened, so that cables from the com­put­er could be con­nect­ed direct to their brains. A robot with a human-like face, con­tin­ues to super­vise the futile work.

Scan­ning the tow­er, they dis­cov­er that it is a pow­er­ful quan­tum com­put­er, appar­ent­ly hold­ing a vast, pos­si­bly arti­fi­cial con­scious­ness. The cables appear to be designed to trans­fer entire minds to and from the com­put­er. The pods turn out to be sta­sis cham­bers, hold­ing the long dead bod­ies of the vault’s orig­i­nal occupants.

As they try to decide what to make of this, a num­ber of the tracked secu­ri­ty drones appear, mov­ing to sur­round the group. Astan’s com­mu­ni­ca­tor beeps and he is informed by a cold voice that “we have con­trol of your ves­sel”. He is informed that they will be new hosts for “us” – unless they choose to die, in which case, host bod­ies will be recruit­ed from the crew of Lyonesse.

As if to prove the point, Valik mate­ri­alis­es in a trans­porter shim­mer, ask­ing why Astan had ordered him back to the planet…

The ‘B’ Plot: Aboard Lyonesse, Lt Valik under­goes a com­plete psy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tion, cour­tesy of the med­ical team. He is passed fit for duty, but advised to spend some time in meditation.

Ques­tions: Who are “we”?