Episode Number: 108
Written by: Jon Crew
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 28th December 2020
- Ensign Saurik: Vulcan officer in Stellar Cartography
Chief Exobiologist’s Log: Stardate 9839.3
It’s been a week since we found a third system in the Black Cluster, quite an eventful week. The ship is constantly shaken and buffeted by solar winds from the central star, for now just called BC-03. Mr Kheled told me Lyonesse is safe, as long as the shields are up, but that he’s always busy keeping the helm on course. Mr Lock also explained that it’s due to a very active corona, causing frequent flares and mass ejections, but to me and most of the crew it means having beautiful shimmering lights all across the windows. These have been a welcome change from the weird blues and greens of the nebula.
It looks like we’re not the only ones attracted here by the stellar displays. An entire cosmozoan ecosystem seems to be thriving here. We’ve catalogued several entirely new species so far, and the crew is intrigued by the mystery of these “space whales”. Are they feeding on the particles emitted by the star? Or is it for a stage of their lifecycle? We followed a large pod of what appeared to be mostly young adults, but we have observed no young hatchlings so far. Some of the largest “whales” in the pod have exhibited very interesting behaviour, seemingly playing in Lyonesse’s wake, and being curious about us. Could it be a sign of intelligence?
And does the single planet in the system have any role in the ecosystem? From initial scans it looks completely covered in deep water, with no land masses emerging, and Mr Lock catalogued it as Class L. We’ve also observed evidence of algal blooms and animal life in the sea, and I can’t wait to get down there for some hands-on sampling.
Plot: Lyonesse’s observations of the biome of “space whales” feeding off stellar winds at BC-03 are interrupted by a local hunter, and the discovery that the whales themselves are sentient.
The ‘A’ Plot: Lyonesse is cruising through the asteroid belts of BC-03, observing the huge swarms of cosmozoa feeding off the radiation of the star itself. Charged particles are impacting the ship’s shields in spectacular riots of colour. Dr Vale is leading the exobiology study teams.
While they are observing the social behaviour of the immense “space whales” within their pods, Ensign Lock notes the rapid approach of a smaller creature. As they watch, this individual – of a similar species to the whales but around a quarter of the size – plunges into the middle of the pod they are observing, causing its members to separate and head off in different directions. As the attacker returns to chase one of the younger whales now separated from its parent, Lock identifies what appears to be an artificial structure attached to its back.
Next they observe what looks like a ship-to-ship battle, as the whales and the attacker exchange directed blasts of energy. It appears that the attacker’s movement is artificially enhanced, and there is some kind of impulse propulsion system attached to the structure on its back.
Concluding that the structure is a cabin of some kind holding power, weapons and a pilot, they attempt to communicate. Although they are successful in opening a channel, they only get a brief image of a shiny, black-skinned humanoid, and a message translated as “not now, i’m busy! The crew monitors the conflict, but does not interfere, watching as the attacker is driven off by the pod members.
Debate over pursuing the attacker is interrupted by the science team’s appraisal that the whales themselves appear to be sentient. Captain Masuda decides to prioritise their research for the moment.
Moving into close orbit, they begin the investigation of BC-03a with sensors and probles, noting an abundance of life within the world-spanning ocean. Spotting large forms moving amongst the shoals of smaller fish, they speculate that the oceans play a part in the whales’ life cycle.
This is confirmed very quickly, as sensors pick up a pod of whales converging on one location in orbit. A disturbance makes itself apparent in the surface waters below this spot shortly afterwards, and they are able to observe as a young whale bursts from the waters and rises through the air. A pack of the smaller predator species moves into low orbit and begins diving attacks on the young whale, but it makes it to the safety of the orbiting adults.
The ‘B’ Plot: When the science team gain evidence that the whales appear to behave in a sentient manner, Capt. Masuda decides they should try to make contact.
Vale proposes a more controlled version of the technique devised to talk to the silicon-cloud creature. Ensign Saurik, a Vulcan from Stellar Catography, would mindmeld with Astan, so that they can combine their empathic and telepathic powers. In this case, they would use the heavy shuttle Guinevere, fitted with emergency medical facilities, allowing Vale to closely monitor the meld, while they get closer to the whales.
After the young whale escapes the sharks as it leaves the ocean, the crew decides to try their technique on the orbiting pod. Astan, Saurik and Vale follow the pod in Guinevere, trying to get close enough while Saurik initiates the mind meld with Astan.
They manage to contact the last of the whales as they move away, and Astan is able to get it to pay attention. It takes a couple of minutes to convince it that they are worth talking to, but then it agrees to a proper meeting, and passes on knowledge of the whales’ own bioluminescence-based language.
Unfortunately, Astan is so overwhelmed by the information load, that it overwrites his ability to speak vocally…
Observations: The mind-melded Vulcan/Deltan gestalt technique first seen in ‘Darkness’ is used again, with less than successful results. Given that repeated mind-melds tend to leave trace effects on both participants, it’s possible that both Astan and Saurik may see personality shifts in future episodes.
Dialogue: The mysterious pilot when contacted: “Not now, I’m busy!”
References: BC-03 is a K‑class star with only one planet, and a huge asteroid belt. Strong radiation bathes the entire system and interacts colourfully with Lyonesse’s shields. The system appears to be a feeding ground for a number of species of cosmozoa, including gormaganders and spacegoing analogues of whales and orcas.
BC-03b is a Class‑L water world, with no land masses and much of the ocean bottom lying several miles deep. Although there are a lot of odd chemicals in both the water and atmosphere, life is abundant in the seas.
The “space whales”, 600 metre long whale-like creatures capable of low warp speeds that feed off solar radiation, appear to use the sole planet as a spawning ground or nursery, as young individuals can be found within its world-spanning ocean. When big enough, the young rise from the waters to low orbit, where they join a waiting pod of adults. The whales themselves appear to be sentient, using light patterns to communicate with each other.
The orca-like predators (nicknamed “space sharks”) are much smaller (around 50 metres long) and hunt in packs, using variations on tactics used by Earth wolves, to separate weak or young whales from their pods. They appear to be more cunning than sentient.
Another of Lyonesse’s shuttles is introduced, a heavy shuttle called Guinevere, and fitted out as an mobile medical centre. An aquatic shuttle is mentioned in dialogue, but not seen.
Questions: Who was the humanoid attacking the whales, and what species were they from? And what was going on with his “mount”?