‘The Shadow Beneath’ Part Two

Episode Num­ber: 109

Writ­ten by: Jon Crew

Direct­ed by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 23rd Jan­u­ary 2021

Guest Stars:

  • Ensign Saurik: Vul­can offi­cer in Stel­lar Cartography
  • Nurse Brag jav Pend: Tel­lar­ite nurse, spe­cial­is­ing in ther­a­py and sur­gi­cal work

Chief Exobiologist’s Log: Star­date 9839.5, supplemental

Research­ing a treat­ment for Lt Astan’s unfor­tu­nate reac­tion to con­tact­ing the space whales has been tak­ing up the major­i­ty of my time since our return to Lyonesse. I under­stand the Cap­tain is keen to learn more about life and pos­si­ble civil­i­sa­tion in the seas of BC-03b.

Plot: Cap­tain Masu­da leads an away mis­sion beneath the oceans of the plan­et, where they encounter some­thing disturbing.

The ‘A’ Plot: With Lt Astan inca­pac­i­tat­ed by his attempt to com­mu­ni­cate with the “space whales”, Cap­tain Masu­da decides to take a clos­er look at the oceans of BC-03b. With Ensigns Lock and Kheled as her crew, she takes the aquashut­tle Isol­de to vis­it the water world.

Despite a major stormy whip­ping up the waves, they suc­cess­ful­ly make it below the sur­face. They observe huge shoals of fish, with larg­er fish feed­ing on them, as they begin their dive, and encounter a cou­ple of young space whales. Huge coral columns rise from the depths.

Know­ing the bot­tom is far below them, they begin their descent, hop­ing to find signs of a sub­ter­ranean civil­i­sa­tion. They reach the low­er lim­it of Lyonesse’s sen­sors at around 5 km down, but there is still no sign of the bot­tom, so they head down fur­ther. They’re observ­ing the exot­ic life that resides on coral shelves at var­i­ous lev­els, when a huge many-ten­ta­cled cephalo­pod (which they chris­ten a “mil­li­pus”) looms out of the dark­ness and tries to grab them. Lock has been hav­ing night­mares about giant ten­ta­cled things in the neb­u­la, and imme­di­ate­ly pan­ics, demand­ing they get away. Kheled takes Isol­de side­ways at speed and they suc­cess­ful­ly escape.

They reach the safe depth lim­it for the shut­tle, but still can’t see either the bot­tom or any sign of alien civil­i­sa­tion. There are a num­ber of larg­er ser­pent-like crea­tures which ignore them, but then Lock picks up a huge mov­ing mass at the lim­it of their sen­sors. Mov­ing towards it, they are receive a hail over com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Open­ing a chan­nel, they receive a creepy wel­com­ing mes­sage, but the odd thing is that each hears it in their own lan­guage, bypass­ing the uni­ver­sal translator.

Giv­en that the mes­sage is basi­cal­ly “come and join us” and that the sen­sors are show­ing a large pseudo­pod reach­ing towards them, Masu­da decides that maybe it’s time to leave. They are fol­lowed in their ascent by the con­tin­u­al­ly-shapeshift­ing mass. As the shut­tle nears the sur­face, sev­er­al mil­li­puss­es con­verge on them in a coor­di­nat­ed effort to catch them, but some quick reac­tions from Kheled ensure that they are able to break into the air suc­cess­ful­ly, before head­ing for orbit and safety.

Lat­er, Masu­da is called away from Sick­bay to the bridge, where a huge new land­mass has been detect­ed on the sur­face. Close-up imag­ing shows the mass con­tin­u­al­ly chang­ing shape, and what appear to be mas­sive eyes. It’s the crea­ture they encoun­tered in the depths, and it appears to be grow­ing into the atmos­phere. Its mass begins to extend upwards in a nar­row pil­lar, until it reach­es an alti­tude of around 50 km, then it pulls the rest of its mass up into a float­ing mass, which begins to drift upwards towards orbit.

Giv­en the events under the water and Astan’s warn­ings, Masu­da decides it’s time to leave the sys­tem – at warp speed.

The ‘B’ Plot: Dr Vale, Masu­da and Ensign Saurik debate the best treat­ment for Lt Astan in Sick­bay. Vale even­tu­al­ly set­tles on reha­bil­i­ta­tion and retrain­ing, backed by cor­ti­cal stim­u­la­tion and oth­er med­ical tech­nol­o­gy. Nurse Brag is brought in to assist with the process.

The process is quite effec­tive, and Astan is recov­ered enough to com­mu­ni­cate basic con­cepts by the time Isol­de returns from the sur­face. At this point how­ev­er, he is strick­en by over­whelm­ing emo­tions from the plan­et, of a cold curios­i­ty and a desire to learn more about the strange crea­tures that vis­it­ed. He feels that they are to this intel­li­gence, about the same as an ant to a human researcher.

The Arc: The crew encoun­ters anoth­er sen­tient res­i­dent of the Clus­ter, and this one seems both pow­er­ful and poten­tial­ly malevolent.

Obser­va­tions: This is the first time Masu­da has tak­en part in an away mis­sion so far.

Astan’s rapid reha­bil­i­ta­tion brings to mind Lt Uhu­ra’s rapid recov­ery after hav­ing her mind “wiped” in the clas­sic Star Trek episode “The Changeling”.

Dia­logue: Lt Astan: “…dispassionate…we are as an insect to it…”

Ref­er­ences: The oceans of BC-03b are very deep and full of life, rang­ing from plank­ton to huge eel- and squid-like forms.

There’s also some­thing very big, intel­li­gent and pos­si­bly hos­tile. This crea­ture or being is dozens of kilo­me­tres across, capa­ble of chang­ing shape and and appar­ent­ly can move both in and out of the seas. It may even be able to reach orbit. It is curi­ous about the intrud­ers to its domain, but seems to be so in the way that leads to dissection.

Lyonesse’s var­ied shut­tle­craft com­ple­ment includes the sub­mersible aquashut­tle Isol­de.

Ques­tions: What was that? And what does it want?