‘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

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.

Chief Exobiologist’s Log: Stard­ate 9839.5, supplemental

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?