Episode Number: 2×10
Written by: Aaron Pollyea
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 8th April 2023
- Doctor Mitchel Al’Malki: Head of the archaeological team exploring Alpha Toryui II.
- Lieutenant Hal Thompson: Commanding officer of the Stafleet Corps of Engineers platoon supporting the archaeologists.
- Captain Lemeki Muavesi: Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Mogami NCC-44785.
- Commander Natalie Sigmund: Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Cass NCC-72667.
A priority message from Starbase 364 has deployed us to the Alpha Toryui system to rendezvous with U.S.S. Mogami to assist in the evacuation of a team of archaeologists and several unique ancient artifacts from below the surface of the second world. I’m intrigued by the mysteries the planet contains, but what we rescue here may be all that will answer the many questions that we have about who was in that system, and why.Captain’s Log: Stardate, 48673.4
Plot: Sent to assist with the evacuation of a team of archaeologists from a system in danger of imminent destruction, Lexington is nearly caught in the catastrophe herself.
The ‘A’ Plot: An ensign from U.S.S. Mogami materialises within an area marked off by transport enhancers within a large cavern under the surface of Alpha Toryui II. She approaches Lieutenant Commander Azonan, informing him that sensors have indicated that the collapse of the Alpha Toryui itself is imminent. He immediately conveys this to Lieutenant Thompson and Dr Al’Malki, pointing out that this means they will need to evacuate as soon as possible. Al’Malki is reluctant to agree to this as his team are making significant discoveries, but the two engineers point out that remaining would mean certain death. The archaeologist reluctantly agrees to begin evacuation plans, but demands the opportunity to take as many of their discoveries with them as possible.
Following a week in spacedock at Starbase 364, Lexington has returned to active duty, and is called on to assist with the evacuation. As she arrives at Alpha Toryui, Konin is hailed by Captain Muevesi on the Mogami. Quickly bringing the captain up to date on the situation, he explains that his ship is very small and does not have the capacity to carry everything that has been discovered, which is causing problems with the archaeologists. He also points out that his ship is not well-enough equipped to determine when the final collapse will occur.
Lt Cdr Zepht immediately goes to work to try and predict the collapse, carrying out detailed scans of the star. Discovering a mysterious shadow, opaque to sensors, deep beneath the surface, as well as a ring of wreckage and other debris orbiting close to it, he dispatches a probe to get more detailed data. This reveals the presence of a small starship circling the star at the minimum safe distance.
Konin then beams down to the planet himself, to speak directly to the expedition leaders, as radiation from the collapsing star is making subspace communication unreliable. Meeting Al’Almaki, Thompson and Azonan, he learns that the archaeologists and the engineers are still arguing over the evacuation: the scientists want more time to catalogue and pack their valuable discoveries, while the engineers are concerned that this is increasing the risk of being caught in the coming catastrophe.
The captain sides with the engineers, imposing a deadline, but promising additional assistance and resources. When he suggests that transporters would speed things up, Al’Malki expresses his concern that using them to move the artefacts will risk filtering out surface contaminants that may prove to be important in research. Azonan confirms that this is a possibility and that turning these filters off would be time-consuming due to the number of safety settings that would need to be overridden. Konin promises to make his shuttlecraft available.
When Konin takes the opportunity to ask about the third ship, Thompson explains that this the U.S.S. Cass, a runabout being used by a Starfleet astrophysicist to study the star in detail.
Returning to the ship, he assigns Lt Cdr Quinn to organise Lexington’s shuttlecraft complement to help with the evacuation. He also contacts Cass, speaking to Commander Sigmund, who agrees with their assessments of the situation and offers to supply the data she has discovered to help with calculations regarding the impending collapse. With this assistance, Zepht and the astrophysics department are able to refine their model, determining that the final collapse will occur in around 14 hours.
Later, Quinn is on his latest return trip to the surface, when he receives a distress call from another shuttlecraft. Diverting to assist, he finds the stricken craft low on power and plummeting towards the molten side of planet. With some deft piloting, he succeeds in grabbing it with a docking clamp and tows it back to Lexington for repairs.
An urgent message from Cass indicates that the collapse appears to be accelerating, and that whatever is hidden by the sensor shadow appears to be compressing the stellar material. Zepht attempts to identify the shadow, but learns only that it appears to be hiding a void within the star. A message is sent to the surface urging the archaeologists to start prioritising only the most important finds for evacuation.
A gravitational wave emanating from the star shakes both the ship and the planet, and Mogami reports that the planetary crust is becoming less stable. The buttresses built by the S.C.E. platoon prevent any collapses, but Thompson believes this can only get worse. As more waves shake the cavern, the engineers begin shoring up some tunnels and ensuring others are evacuated.
Zepht and Sigmund are now able to determine that the collapse will occur much sooner than previously predicted, in about four hours. Meanwhile, Quinn realises that the effects of gravitational shear from the waves will make it impossible to form a subspace bubble in about two hours: this will make it impossible to go to warp.
Mogami reports that her holds are full and they will be leaving shortly, taking most of the engineers and archaeologists with them, although Azonan remains to help with the final evacuation. An alert from Sigmund indicates that the final collapse is iminent, and that she is also leaving.
Konin orders one final round trip and then they’re going, regardless of who or what may be left. All unnecessary personnel return to the ship by transporter. As the deck crew unload the final shuttlecraft, Zepht spots a fast-moving cloaked object as it swoops past the ship at a significant portion of the speed of light, but is unable to identify it. The deckhands report that several artefacts were beamed out of the holds as it passed.
Then the biggest gravitational wave yet hits the ship, and her warp bubble collapses.
As the engineering department tries to get the warp drive back online, Konin orders departure at full impulse, in an effort to give them as much time as possible before the blast from the star hits them. Fifteen minutes later, the star collapses in on itself, releasing a violent shockwave, moving at the speed of light.
As Selvek has been incapacitated by the same telepathic signals the captain has been receiving, Azonan steps in to lead the engineering team. They work steadily to replace dilithium crystals and cracked conduits, and with a major effort, they get the system back online just as the shockwave reaches them. Quinn is able to use the half-formed subspace field to surf the wave out of the system, but it soon collapses again, depositing them about 10 light hours out from the star.
This turns out to be a safe enough distance from which to watch as Alpha Toryui gets ever brighter, but at the moment it seems it should explode, it simply vanishes, pulling the rest of the system into a huge subspace rift. As the rift closes without a trace, a tidal subspace effect pulls them halfway back into the space it occupied.
The cargo crew later report that while this was taking place, many of the recovered artefacts began to glow, giving off green streamers of energy, before apparently generating narrow, short-lived subspace ruptures.
The ‘B’ Plot: Once Lexington arrives at Alpha Toryui, Konin begins to develop a mild headache. It gets progressively worse over time, making him short-tempered, and he visits sickbay, demanding painkillers, when he returns to the ship. While there, he notices that Selvek is also present with a similar complaint, but when a medical technician offers to scan for physical causes, he responds irritably, asking if his request was unclear.
Later, he becomes aware of a hissing background noise, which develops over time into audible whispering, but is unable to make out individual voices. As it gets louder, it is becomes obvious this is the source of his headache, and he realises the voices are telepathic in nature.
Returning to the dig site, he explores the caverns, trying to find points where the signals are stronger, before eventually returning to examine the artefacts in case they are connected. Back on the ship, as the last gravitational wave hits, he is finally able to identify many individual voices, although he cannot make out what they are saying.
It is only when the rift opens that Konin is able to make out what one voice, stronger than the rest, is saying: it appears to be a call for help.
The Arc: The crew are encountering events similar to those experienced by the original Lexington crew, although they don’t know it. It may even be possible that those responsible for these devices, or their victims, are still alive somewhere.
Observations: Alpha Toryui is a dying system, centered on an expanding red giant at the end of its life. The star will shortly collapse, shed its outer layers in a nova event and become a white dwarf. The second world, like its siblings, is heat-blasted and barren, although it was once class‑M. It is tide-locked, one side facing its star, and covered in molten rock as a result. The only signs of life are in huge artificial caverns beneath the surface, where Federation archaeologists have found buildings and technology from an ancient civilisation.
Lieutenant Commander Shon Azonan is an Andorian engineering officer, with previous experience with archaelogical work. As he is currently between postings, he has been assisting Lt Thompson’s S.C.E. team with their work on Alpha Toryui II.
U.S.S. Mogami is a Calypso-class frigate, currently assigned to convey and support Lt Thompson’s S.C.E. platoon. Vessels of this class are often assigned to mobile research projects, much like the Nova-class.
Dr Al’Malki is reluctant to use transporters to move the artefacts although it would speed the evacuation immensely. This is because 24th century transporters include a lot of filters and other safety measures to prevent dangerous pathogens and chemicals being beamed aboard. These could theoretically remove a lot of evidence that could provide the contextual data the archaeologists don’t have time to record in situ.
Selvek, as a contact telepath, is never able to make out voices in the telepathic broadcast, he just hears the whispered babble. Over time, this erodes and overwhelms his psychic defences.
Dialogue: The dominant telepathic voice as the system vanishes: “Tilikaal… help us!”
References: The Starfleet Corps of Engineers is a Starfleet agency dedicated to providing engineering support wherever it’s needed. The agency is primarily responsible for building and maintaining Starfleet’s facilities across the Federation, as well as staffing starship construction yards and supporting research into many technologies. Some departments specialise in unusual engineering problems and there are roving platoons that can be assigned to various engineering tasks as required.
Questions: What does “Tilikaal” mean? Who stole the artefacts at the last minute? And what happened to the Alpha Toryui system?