A Cry from the Void, Part I

Epis­ode Num­ber: 2×07

Writ­ten by: Ian Lemke with Spring Netto

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 7th August 2022

Guest Stars:

  • Lishka: Dir­ect­or of the Vahari min­ing station.
  • Vol: Sin­is­ter assist­ant to Lishka.

It’s been three days and many of us are still deal­ing with learn­ing the final fate of the Sonak. That fifty Vul­cans died out here, far from home, and in an incred­ibly pro­longed fash­ion, really brings home the lat­ent dangers of deep space explor­a­tion. Dr Vor­al tells me that there has been a threefold increase in the num­ber of crew mem­bers seek­ing her assist­ance, and that many more are deal­ing with a low-level melancholy.

At present, our pri­or­ity is to find a way out of this etern­al gloom and return to the clean light of the stars. Of course, if we can find the sur­viv­ors that appar­ently left Sonak aboard her ser­vice vehicle, identi­fy the cloaked ship appar­ently shad­ow­ing us, or make peace­ful con­tact with the mys­ter­i­ous K’si, that would be a bonus.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 9885.3

Plot: Tra­cing the source of a power­ful tetry­on shock­wave, accom­pan­ied by a garbled dis­tress sig­nal, the crew find a remote min­ing oper­a­tion extract­ing deu­teri­um from the the oceans of a water world. When the dir­ect­or asks for their assist­ance in loc­at­ing some lost work­ers, they find them­selves caught up in a con­flict with a pre­vi­ously unknown lifeform.

The ‘A’ Plot: While trav­el­ling through yet anoth­er clear pas­sage in the neb­ula, the Lyo­n­esse is rocked by a power­ful blast. As Astan picks him­self up off the floor, hav­ing been thrown from his sta­tion, the com­mu­nic­a­tions officer reports that a sub­space sig­nal was picked up at the same time. Kheled quickly brings the ship to sub­light speed: the main sensors are dam­aged, which means the chances of a cata­stroph­ic col­li­sion are much high­er at warp.

Mas­uda calls a meet­ing in the brief­ing room, so they can assess what they know. The ship’s sys­tems sus­tained heavy dam­age in the impact, affect­ing sensors, weapons, shields and com­mu­nic­a­tions and Vale reports a num­ber of injur­ies across the ship. As to the blast’s source and the nature of the mes­sage, little data will be avail­able until repairs are mostly com­plete. The cap­tain orders the sensors and shields to be prioritised.

As the work pro­gresses, more data becomes avail­able. Lock works out that the blast was a tetry­on shock­wave which came from behind them; it is pos­sibly the res­ult of anoth­er super­nova event, but could also have ori­gin­ated from an anom­aly of some kind, or be arti­fi­cial in nature. The arti­fi­cial option becomes more likely as the com­mu­nic­a­tions officer reports that the sub­space sig­nal appears to be a dis­tress call embed­ded in the tetry­on wave itself.

Loc­at­ing the ori­gin of the event now becomes more crit­ic­al, as the cap­tain points out that it could come from bey­ond the neb­ula and indic­ate a threat to the loc­al region, or even the Fed­er­a­tion itself. The text of the mes­sage itself is almost impossible to decode, espe­cially when the comms con­sole over­loads dur­ing attempts, but they do trace the shock­wave back to a spe­cif­ic loc­a­tion with­in the neb­ula, some­where back along their path to date. They also determ­ine that the tetry­ons were gen­er­ated nat­ur­ally, but mod­u­lated delib­er­ately to cre­ate the sig­nal, some­thing far bey­ond Fed­er­a­tion science.

Mas­uda orders max­im­um warp back to the source, as soon as the ves­sel is cap­able of it.

About 10 days later, Lyo­n­esse arrives at a sys­tem along an unex­plored side pas­sage, which the com­puter des­ig­nates BC-08. The 7th plan­et is an M‑class water­world, with unusu­al crys­tal­line islands; the sig­nals appear to have come from here. As they get closer, sensors pick up an indus­tri­al struc­ture on an island in the south­ern hemi­sphere, hous­ing 1500 humanoids. It’s too small to be a nat­ive com­munity, but it could be a colony from either the K’si or a pre­vi­ously unknown civilisation.

Sud­denly, two small craft emerge from behind one of the plan­et’s moons and fire warn­ing shots, broad­cast­ing instruc­tions to leave the sys­tem imme­di­ately. Oth­er than rais­ing shields, Mas­uda does noth­ing hos­tile, instead reply­ing that they are friendly, hop­ing to make new friends with their cul­ture. She suc­ceeds in con­vin­cing them of this, and is imme­di­ately con­tac­ted by Lishka, dir­ect­or of the deu­teri­um extrac­tion sta­tion on Abassa VII, who hap­pily invites them to din­ner at her refinery.

As this is a first con­tact situ­ation, Mas­uda insists on full dress uni­form for the land­ing party, which con­sists of her­self, Astan, Vale and Crew­men Ewendi, who has been tasked with observing their level of tech­no­logy. They beam down to a land­ing plat­form on the edge of the facil­ity, with a spec­tac­u­lar view of the purple-col­oured waters, where they are met by a tall, pale-skinned man with a quar­tet of secur­ity guards. He intro­duces him­self as Vol, assist­ant to Dir­ect­or Lishka, and invites them to fol­low him.

He takes them past vast indus­tri­al plant machinery, and then through a run-down work­ers’ accom­mod­a­tion area, with both build­ings and tents. Lishka, a much short­er woman, who looks like she might be middle-aged, is wait­ing for them in the rather more upmar­ket admin­is­tra­tion build­ing, in an elab­or­ate din­ing room. She invites them to sit and an elab­or­ate din­ner is brought in.

The cap­tain intro­duces her team and the import­ance they attach to “First con­tact”. Lishka remarks that she is a simple facil­ity dir­ect­or, but that her people are the Vahari, con­firm­ing their con­nec­tion to the stran­ded colony ship, Grif Val­ata, encountered some weeks earli­er. The deu­teri­um refinery exists to sup­port their recent expan­sion bey­ond their adop­ted home­world, New Vahar. When Mas­uda men­tions the Vel­ata, Lishka is very inter­ested to hear of the dis­cov­ery, prob­ing for more inform­a­tion before ask­ing Vol to make a note to pass this back to “Cent­ral Com­mand”. Unfor­tu­nately, she claims to know noth­ing of any dis­tress sig­nals, and it is clear that her people would not pos­sess the tech­no­logy to gen­er­ate this kind of effect.

Towards the end of the meal, Lishka returns to the sub­ject of dis­tress sig­nals, and asks if the Lyo­n­esse would be able to assist with track­ing down some miss­ing work­ers. They dis­ap­peared while away from the island and the facil­ity’s res­cue teams have found no trace of them. The land­ing party with­draw to dis­cuss the request, at which point Vale raises the idea that the dis­tress call may have come from some oth­er life­form on the plan­et. Such a being is prob­ably not car­bon-based, and may be either crys­tal­line in nature or incor­por­eal and may be unknown to the Vahari. Mus­ing that search­ing for the sur­viv­ors would give them a chance to scan the plan­et in detail, Mas­uda agrees to use Lyo­n­esse’s cap­ab­il­it­ies to help and con­tacts the ship to arrange this.

Upon return­ing to the ship, the par­al­lel searches begin in earn­est. Orbit­al sensors are unable to pen­et­rate deep into the oceans, so sensor probes are used along­side spe­cially out­fit­ted shuttle­craft. Work is hampered by increas­ingly stormy weath­er across the hemi­sphere, con­cen­trated around the island. Astan, mean­while, sud­denly exper­i­ences a flash­back to a time in in his youth, when he was pick­ing through the ruins of his colony, fol­low­ing an attack by pir­ates. Dis­turbed by the vis­ion, he vis­its sick­bay, but Vale is unable to find any­thing wrong, although brain scans show the empath­ic organs in his brain are unusu­ally active.

Des­pite a half-day of search­ing, no new life­forms are detec­ted, but Vahari life signs are spot­ted at the bot­tom of one of the plan­et’s deep­est ocean trenches, nearly 30,000 metres down. Isolde, the star­ship’s aquat­ic shuttle, is brought out and quickly mod­i­fied for exten­ded oper­a­tion at extreme pres­sures, before Lock pilots Vale and Valik into the depths to invest­ig­ate, equipped with trans­port pat­tern enhan­cers and oth­er res­cue equipment.

They des­cend through the some­what life­less depths, par­tially illu­min­ated by their own lights refrac­ted and reflec­ted through the crys­tal walls of the canyon. As they reach the bot­tom, they observe a form­a­tion con­tain­ing the shad­owy forms of six humanoids with­in indi­vidu­al crys­tals. Sensor scans reveal that they are alive, in sus­pen­ded anim­a­tion and float­ing with­in a liquid form of the same mater­i­al as the crys­tals themselves.

Detect­ing elec­tric­al sig­nals with­in the crys­tals, Vale the­or­ises that they may be akin to neur­o­lo­gic­al sig­nals, and that the crys­tals them­selves may be life forms. They test this by broad­cast­ing identic­al sig­nals back into the crys­tal form­a­tion with the shuttle lights. The first attempts merely dazzle them as the lights are reflec­ted back from the crys­tals, but as they refine the pro­cess, the sensors pick up changes in the elec­tric­al pat­terns. From the way the sig­nals move, Vale mod­i­fies her the­ory to include the water itself, and that maybe the high dens­it­ies of deu­teri­um and min­er­als in this area enable its thought pro­cesses. If this is the case, then the refinery is prob­ably a source of great pain to the being.

On the sur­face, the refinery appears to come under attack, as the storms intensi­fy, threat­en­ing to dis­lodge the struc­ture from its rocky perch entirely. Mas­uda con­tacts Lishka and tries to explain that they have iden­ti­fied a new intel­li­gent life­form beneath the water, and that they believe it is in pain from the extrac­tion pro­cess, but Lishka is more con­cerned with the safety of her workers.

Vol, tak­ing mat­ters into his own hands, cuts the con­ver­sa­tion. A few minutes later, armed ves­sels approach from the plan­et’s moons, and begin to arm phased energy weapons.

The Arc: Lyo­n­esse makes first con­tact with the Vahari, build­ers of the Grif Val­ata, seen in ‘Forests of the Night’.

Obser­va­tions: The Vahari look Human, with excep­tion­ally pale skin, black hair and very dark eyes. Their cul­ture and tech­no­logy are not that much dif­fer­ent from those pos­sessed by Earth in the mid-22nd cen­tury, and they have recently begun expand­ing bey­ond their adop­ted home­world, New Vahar. They are a little defens­ive and reluct­ant to dis­cuss some details of their activities.

BC-08 is known to the Vahari as Abassa, and is an unusu­ally well-pop­u­lated sys­tem for a star in the Black Cluster. Abassa has 11 worlds, the 7th of which is M‑class, with 95% of the sur­face covered in water. Abassa VII has life­less crys­tal­line islands and the oceans con­tain only prim­it­ive life.

Tetry­ons can be both nat­ur­al, gen­er­ated by sub­space dis­rup­tions and anom­alies, or arti­fi­cial, a res­ult of warp technology.

Ques­tions: What is going on with the plan­et’s oceans? And why is Vol so ready to use violence?