Episode Number: 2×07
Written by: Ian Lemke with Spring Netto
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 7th August 2022
- 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?