New Vahar, Part III

Epis­ode Num­ber: 2×11

Writ­ten by: Jon Crew

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 16th April 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Tre­leac: Head of Vahari government
  • A High Priest of the natives

Our first con­tact vis­it to New Vahar con­tines to devel­op in unex­pec­ted ways. Hav­ing dis­covered that the Vahari appear to be exploit­ing the prim­it­ive nat­ives of their adop­ted home­world, we have now found that the nat­ives are cap­able of fight­ing back. A res­ist­ance group kid­napped the land­ing party while they were tour­ing the nat­ive-occu­pied forest, and then appar­ently tried to sac­ri­fice them to some kind of pred­at­ory cloud creature. Swift action by Com­mand­er Shran ensured their safety, but the situ­ation on this world is more com­plex than it first appeared.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 9899.7

Plot: Lyo­n­esse is forced to inter­vene dir­ectly when the Vahari engage the nat­ive res­ist­ance in open warfare.

The ‘A’ Plot: Com­mand­er Shran returns the land­ing party, along with their sur­viv­ing guard, to Lyo­n­esse in orbit. The cap­tain then calls an urgent meet­ing to decide what to do next. While they are in des­per­ate need of food, it is increas­ingly obvi­ous that their pro­spect­ive allies are not as eth­ic­al as they have seemed.

Mas­uda decides that the first order of busi­ness is to inform Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Tre­leac that his guard is safe, and being treated for his injur­ies. As the com­mu­nic­a­tions chan­nel is opened how­ever, Tre­leac is more keen to tell them his own news, that New Vahari war­ships are pun­ish­ing the rebels. The cap­tain is sur­prised and tries to get them to stop the attack, but Tre­leac insists a line must be drawn.

A satel­lite video feed shows three war­ships approach­ing the sensor-shad­owed area of the forest at low alti­tude, then car­pet-bomb­ing the entire region. As they turn for home, Lock reports that large num­bers of Vahari troops are mov­ing into the region, equipped with flamethrow­ers. These in turn, are ambushed by nat­ive troops, armed with Vahari weaponry.

The cap­tain decides it is time to inter­vene to stop the carnage, and asks for pro­pos­als. Dr Vale sug­gests beam­ing the nat­ives out of the area, while shuttle­craft put out the fire from over­head. Lock points out that sensors are unable to pick out indi­vidu­als with­in the forest, but that it might be pos­sible if they were closer to the tar­get. The cap­tain orders the ship into the atmo­sphere to approach the con­flict zone dir­ectly, while Shran leads the shuttle­craft fire-fight­ing efforts.

Kheled takes Lyo­n­esse out of orbit and into the upper reaches of New Vahar’s atmo­sphere. Unfor­tu­nately, he mis­cal­cu­lates and the shields are drained as they res­ist the fric­tion of the atmo­sphere. Once the ship levels off, she heads towards the site of the battle. Lock, mon­it­or­ing the sensors, soon begins to pick out the com­batants and relays cooordin­ates to the trans­port­er room.

He also detects the Vahari war­ships as they change course again to inter­cept Lyo­n­esse. The cap­tain, con­cerned that the ship may be about to get involved in a battle without shields, requests that Valik redouble his efforts to restore them, then con­tacts Tre­leac to warn them off. He warns her to stay out of the con­flict as it is an intern­al mat­ter. Dr Vale, hor­ri­fied by the con­flag­ra­tion and the battle, com­ments in a stage whis­per that they know the loc­a­tion of the Vahari shipyard and could pay it a vis­it. Tre­leac, who can hear this per­fectly clearly, angrily cuts the channel.

Lock announces that some­thing big is mov­ing with­in the centre of the inferno, and then a num­ber of the lifesigns in the con­flict areas dis­ap­pear from the sensors. Sensors are unable to get any read­ings on the object, but Mas­uda orders the trans­port­er oper­at­ors to bring up any­one in the region, regard­less of their alle­gi­ance. Sud­denly, a huge black cloud looms out of the forest, look­ing very sim­il­ar to the one that attacked the land­ing party, and as the Vahari ves­sels fly over­head, a pseudo­pod whips upward, demol­ish­ing the lead war­ship. The trans­port­er room suc­ceeds in res­cuing the crew, but Shran decides dis­cre­tion is the great­er part of valour, and orders the fire­fight­ing shuttles out of the area. Mas­uda decides it would be a good idea to return to orbit.

As they angle upwards, the cloud floats up above the trees, reveal­ing its full size – sev­er­al kilo­metres across – and begins to fol­low them. See­ing this beha­viour, Vale sup­poses that the creature is attrac­ted by the energy in the ship; Mas­uda then orders the ship to lure it away from the planet.

The cloud creature fol­lows them into space, keep­ing pace even as Lyo­n­esse hits full impulse speeds. Lock­’s sensors show the space it occu­pies as empty, but also that there’s a very high mass con­cen­trated there – he spec­u­lates that it may be made of dark matter.

Mas­uda decides to try an exper­i­ment, and has Lock fire a photon tor­pedo at it. It’s a dir­ect hit, but the power­ful explo­sion is almost entirely absorbed by the cloud, imply­ing that it may con­sume energy dir­ectly. She begins to con­sider try­ing to lure it into the sun as a means of get­ting it away from New Vahar.

Astan appears on the bridge, apo­lo­gising as he brings one of the nat­ive reli­gious lead­ers out of the tur­bo­l­ift. The nat­ive pleads with them not to des­troy the cloud creature, explain­ing that the creature is a ser­vant of his people’s gods, and that if they des­troy it, the gods will des­troy their world. Asked where the gods reside, he waves at the for­ward view­port: “In the clouds around us, where else would they be?”

Giv­en this, Mas­uda and Vale decide to try to lure it into the clouds of the neb­ula. Lyo­n­esse changes course and goes to warp, the cloud creature fol­low­ing her with ease. Unfor­tu­nately, the plan will require them to enter the clouds as well; Kheled points out that doing so will res­ult in severe dam­age, even through the shields.

They pro­ceeed, plot­ting a u‑shaped course and dip­ping into the cloud wall briefly, and the creature con­tin­ues to fol­low them. Once with­in the neb­ula, the shields col­lapse rap­idly, and the hull begins to take dam­age before they can once more make it back to the safety of the New Vahar bubble. As they emerge, the sensors pick up a brief glimpse of a huge creature, which appears to have noticed them, although it does not fol­low them out.

Return­ing to New Vahar, they dis­cov­er that the Vahari, shocked by the power avail­able to the nat­ives, have deposed the Coun­cil, and called off the raids. Mas­uda is keen to get the two sides talk­ing and pro­poses using Lyo­n­esse as neut­ral grounds for negotiations.

Six months later, a tent­at­ive agree­ment in place, the hull repaired and food stocks laid in, the star­ship is finally able to move on.

The Arc: New Vahar is home to creatures made of dark mat­ter, that appar­ently serve giant space-going “gods” in the neb­ula. Des­pite the dark mat­ter con­nec­tion, there is no sign of the K’si.

Obser­va­tions: The Vahari war­ships were those which the land­ing party had seen in the con­struc­tion yards at the capital.

As they were warned by the team at Deep Space 3, the gas clouds of the neb­ula prove extremely cor­ros­ive, bring­ing down the shields in less than a minute and burn­ing long scars into the hull.

Lyo­n­esse spends nearly six months host­ing nego­ti­ations between the Vahari and the natives.

Dia­logue: Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Tre­leac informs Mas­uda of his actions: “Our armed forces are deliv­er­ing the mes­sage that we can­not allow our guests to be harmed”.

Vale’s stage whis­per to Mas­uda: “We know where the Vahari shipyard is, we could … vis­it them next?”

Ques­tions: What are the “gods” that live in the nebula?