Episode Number: 2×08
Written by: Ian Lemke with Spring Netto
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 23rd October 2022
- 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?