Episode Number: 2×11
Written by: Jon Crew
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 16th April 2023
- 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?