A Cry from the Void, Part II

Epis­ode Num­ber: 2×08

Writ­ten by: Ian Lemke with Spring Netto

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 23rd Octo­ber 2022

Guest Stars:

  • Lishka: Dir­ect­or of the Vahari min­ing station.
  • Vol: Sin­is­ter assist­ant to Lishka.
  • “One”: The nat­ive intel­li­gence on BC-08h.

We tracked the tetry­on wave back down a chan­nel in the neb­ula which we had earli­er missed. We’ve found a sys­tem with an unusu­ally abund­ant col­lec­tion of worlds, one of which is barely class M, covered in an extens­ive ocean. This world is being exploited by the Vahari, the build­ers of the lost ark ship we dis­covered a couple of months ago, but they have found some­thing on this plan­et that really does­n’t like them. My away team has loc­ated a group of miss­ing miners that seem to be host­ages, but we’re still not sure what took them in the first place. How­ever, my biggest con­cern is that the Vahari appear to have just escal­ated hostilities.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 9891.6

Plot: With the away team try­ing to free the host­ages at the bot­tom of the ocean, and make con­tact with their kid­nap­per, Cap­tain Mas­uda attempts to defuse the ten­sions as armed ships race toward the planet.

The ‘A’ Plot: Cap­tain Mas­uda imme­di­ately opens a chan­nel to the approach­ing ships, warn­ing them not to take any hos­tile acts. Unfor­tu­nately, they choose to ignore her, con­tinu­ing to move towards low orbits that would allow them to fire on the planet.

Sigh­ing, Mas­uda orders Astan to take action, lock­ing a tract­or beam on to one of the approach­ing ves­sels as a show of power. He suc­ceeds, immob­il­ising one of the smal­ler inter­cept­ors that had fired on them earli­er. Mean­while, one of the lar­ger ves­sels, which appears to be an armed freight­er, fires on the plan­et, but its weapons sys­tems over­load, pre­vent­ing any damage.

At the bot­tom of the ocean­’s deep­est trench, the land­ing party tries to assemble a sys­tem to talk to the entity, with Valik modi­fy­ing the aquashuttle’s com­mu­nic­a­tions sys­tem, mak­ing use of Lock­’s sensor expert­ise and Vale’s know­ledge of unusu­al lifeforms.

One of the Vahari inter­cept­ors gets close enough to fire phased energy blasts into the atmo­sphere. The storms pick up in intens­ity, and retali­at­ory tetry­on pulses emerge from them, des­troy­ing the small ves­sel in a single blast. Astan, mean­while, suc­ceeds in dis­abling the weapons on a second armed freight­er. The crew of the first, still try­ing to repair its own weapons, pan­ics and it leaves at warp, des­pite increas­ingly hys­ter­ic­al orders and threats from Vol on the surface.

Back in the trench, the land­ing party suc­ceeds in estab­lish­ing simple con­tact with the crys­tal­line life form around them. On first con­tact, its thought pro­cesses appear very basic and even lin­ear, cap­able of deal­ing with only one concept at a time. And while it is aware that oth­er beings exist, it is very much focussed on its own pain. At the moment, it is con­cen­trat­ing on absorb­ing the inform­a­tion in the kid­napped Vahari work­ers’ brains to learn more about its tormentors.

Hav­ing pre­ven­ted fur­ther bom­bard­ments, Mas­uda orders con­tact re-estab­lished with the land­ing party; a probe is sent to the sur­face, where it can act as a relay, allow­ing the party to report on their find­ings. Based on these, she con­tacts the sur­face and informs Lishka that she has made con­tact with the entity and now would be a good time to con­sider peace talks. Vol inter­rupts and admits that, with his forces out of com­mis­sion, he is forced to agree.

Mas­uda beams down to the sur­face, accom­pan­ied by Astan and a small secur­ity team, and is met by Vol, Lishka and some of their guards. Due to the wind and rain, they are led to a shel­ter to talk. Before they get star­ted, Vol reveals that he is actu­ally a seni­or gen­er­al in the New Vahar Army; the Abassa pro­ject exists to extract deu­teri­um and dilith­i­um for warp-cap­able war­ships. When Mas­uda enquires as to why they would need them, Lishka explains that New Vahar is threatened by a hos­tile ali­en polity call­ing itself the K’si Suprem­acy. If they wish to retain their inde­pend­ence, they have to mil­it­ar­ise fast.

Mas­uda explains that her team have found the miss­ing work­ers and estab­lished lim­ited con­tact with the entity beneath the sur­face. She believes it is still pos­sible to nego­ti­ate a peace­ful set­tle­ment, sav­ing all lives in the sys­tem. Vol reluct­antly admits that, as he is no longer cap­able of fight­ing either the entity or Lyo­n­esse, he will have to accept their offer. He only hopes it leads to a bet­ter outcome.

Lyo­n­esse estab­lishes com­mu­nic­a­tions between the Vahari and the entity via the shuttle crew. It’s slow-going at first, as they work out how to con­vey com­plex con­cepts in a way that the entity’s crys­tal­line mind can com­pre­hend. As they work, the shuttle crew learns more about the being, which is made up of an amal­gam of min­er­als in the sea and the rocks them­selves, and it begins to refer to itself as “One”, as it learns that there are mul­tiple entit­ies talk­ing to it.

They suc­ceed in encour­aging One to give up its host­ages, then as they are being released, Vale real­ises that they are men­tally integ­rated with One. They get it to pause the release, so that they can com­mu­nic­ate via one of them. This allows them to achieve two-way nego­ti­ations and things begin to progress.

Even­tu­ally, an agree­ment is made between the Vahari and One, allow­ing them to remain on the plan­et and extract min­er­als for their needs. It turns out that everything they need is actu­ally waste mater­i­als as far as One is con­cerned, but that the extrac­tion pro­cess is very pain­ful. One with­draws from the imme­di­ate area around the island, and moves the waste to that loc­a­tion, so that the Vahari can extract it without caus­ing any fur­ther distress.

Although a little dis­gruntled at the means of achiev­ing peace, Vol is pleased that they have come to an arrange­ment. After some exten­ded con­ver­sa­tions with his super­i­ors back on New Vahar, Lyo­n­esse is invited to vis­it the home­world as a guest of the NVA.

The Arc: We finally learn more about the mys­ter­i­ous K’si, a year after they were first mentioned.

Obser­va­tions: New Vahar is loc­ated in anoth­er “tun­nel” near to Abassa. They have been there for a num­ber of dec­ades, hav­ing trans­planted their entire pop­u­la­tion on sub­light arks from their doomed home­world. Between their near extinc­tion and the loom­ing threat of the K’si, their tech­no­logy has advanced rap­idly in this time, and they have now achieved early forms of warp drive and phased energy rec­ti­fic­a­tion. These have helped them build a large defens­ive force.

The K’si Suprem­acy appears to be a mil­it­ant and acquis­it­ive empire. Vol explains that they have a repu­ta­tion for offer­ing sup­port to their neigh­bours, then mov­ing in to take over at the first oppor­tun­ity. New Vahar’s first encoun­ters with them have appar­ently not gone well.

One is the only nat­ive intel­li­gence on Abassa, a vast nat­ur­al neur­al net­work made up of the crys­tal­line rocks and the min­er­als dis­solved in the plan­et’s vast ocean. While poten­tially cap­able of great intel­li­gence, One has little exper­i­encce of the world bey­ond its sur­face and has dif­fi­culty deal­ing with the idea of oth­er intelligences.

Ques­tions: Who or what was One try­ing to con­tact in the last episode?

How big a threat, to both Lyo­n­esse and the Black Cluster as a whole, are the K’si?