Come the Rapture

Epis­ode Num­ber: 3×10

Writ­ten by: Troy Mepyans

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 21st Octo­ber 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Dr Telen Daraas: Human research­er who sent the dis­tress call.

We are trav­el­ling to the colony world of New Brit­an­nia to invest­ig­ate a garbled dis­tress call. The only sal­vage­able part of the mes­sage speaks of an impend­ing cata­strophe. I have assembled a land­ing party to beam to the sur­face, assess the situ­ation, and find out more about this catastrophe.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 49669.2

Plot: The crew invest­ig­ates the sud­den dis­ap­pear­ance of the entire pop­u­la­tion of a remote colony.

The ‘A’ Plot: Lex­ing­ton arrives in the FGC-68024 sys­tem in response to a dis­tress call from the inde­pend­ent colony of New Brit­an­nia. Research into the back­ground of the colony reveals that it was planted by the Rap­ture Found­a­tion, a group ded­ic­ated to exper­i­ment­ing with self-suf­fi­cient uto­pi­an soci­et­ies. While the world had been lis­ted as a poten­tial colony site by Star­fleet’s scouts, it was far enough out of Fed­er­a­tion ter­rit­ory to be giv­en a low pri­or­ity, so the Found­a­tion had taken up the chal­lenge. When Zepht com­ments that the colony obvi­ously did­n’t want to be asso­ci­ated with Star­fleet and should be allowed to fend for itself, the cap­tain reminds him that Star­fleet answers all dis­tress calls.

Lex­ing­ton’s ini­tial scans show the plan­et itself and its star are nor­mal, des­pite the usu­al Expanse back­ground radi­ation traces and anom­alies. The world has a thriv­ing class M eco­sys­tem, with veget­a­tion cov­er­ing most of two large con­tin­ents. They detect a fusion power plant at the site of the colony, but there are no com­mu­nic­a­tions sig­nals eman­at­ing from that location.

A land­ing party con­sist­ing of Zepht, Azon­an, Raynor and Crew­man Ser­valan trans­port into the large plaza at the centre of the colony. They note that it appears to have been built in a broad val­ley in the middle of a desert, which seems an odd choice. There are res­id­en­tial and com­mer­cial build­ings on three sides of the plaza, and a large ornate admin­is­trat­ive struc­ture on the fourth. There is no sign of life with­in the community.

Zepht and Ser­valan begin scan­ning for lifesigns, but both are con­cerned that there appear to be none in range. Raynor observes that there is no sign of con­flict or struggle, so some kind of raid seems unlikely, unless it happened with total sur­prise. Ser­valan takes a closer look at the dry, sandy soil, then uses her tri­cord­er to con­firm that there is life present at all, even at a micro­bi­al level. The only life traces they can detect in the vicin­ity are in the nearby river – and they are much lower than would nor­mally be expected.

When Ser­valan com­ments that the river bank is very unstable, being full of voids that col­lapse in on them­selves, Raynor notices dips in the soil around the area. They the­or­ise that all life in the area has been removed or des­troyed in its entirety, includ­ing trees with their root sys­tems. Zepht requests a detailed life scan from orbit: Lex­ing­ton reports that the land­ing party con­tains the only life-forms of any size regis­ter­ing with­in 50 kilo­metres of the colony (except for the river).

They decide to begin their invest­ig­a­tion at the admin­is­trat­ive build­ing, which appears to serve mul­tiple func­tions. A tall glass spire looms over the centre of the sprawl­ing build­ing. They step through the front doors and see a recep­tion desk in front of a series of 5 door­ways lead­ing to dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the build­ing. Zepht hacks into the recep­tion com­puter, find­ing a com­munity diary and a remind­er for a big com­munity event entitled “The Stars are Right!”

Ser­valan invest­ig­ates the doors, find­ing signs for “Admin­is­tra­tion”, “Fab­ric­a­tion”, “Med­ic­al” and “Labor­at­or­ies”. The fifth door is unmarked and she opens it, find­ing a cloak­room and pas­sage lead­ing into a large cir­cu­lar aud­it­or­i­um, with benches arranged around a cent­ral dais with a lectern. The spire above the build­ing allows mul­ti­col­oured light in through its stained glass win­dows to shine on an ancient stone obelisk carved with famil­i­ar markings.

Ser­valan imme­di­ately calls the oth­ers in, and they begin to sur­vey the room. While Azon­an and Zepht exam­ine the obelisk, not­ing the array of sensors and wires attached to it, the oth­ers dis­cov­er that the floor and benches are covered in dis­carded cloth­ing. They imme­di­ately make the con­nec­tion to the Tilikaal and their extra-dimen­sion­al pris­on and Zepht real­ises that the col­on­ists may have been caught up by a sim­il­ar effect. He expresses con­cern that they may not have known what they were deal­ing with.

The focus turns to uncov­er­ing what the col­on­ists had actu­ally done. Zepht and Raynor head for the labor­at­or­ies to begin look­ing for research data in the com­puters, uncov­er­ing notes regard­ing arte­facts found at a site in the hills. The main research­ers were Doc­tors Pov­os Nec and Telen Daraas, but it appears they rap­idly began to dis­agree over their con­clu­sions. The later parts of the research appear to be encrypted.

Ser­valan finds little of note in the med­ic­al sec­tion, but then trips over a dead body as she enters the sub­space com­mu­nic­a­tions facil­ity. She alerts Raynor, and exam­ines the body, not­ing that the vic­tim was shot in the back with a phaser at short range, and that there is no act­ive decay tak­ing place. Check­ing the most recent records, Raynor dis­cov­ers the full ver­sion of the dis­tress call.

Azon­an exam­ines the equip­ment attached to the obelisk and traces power cables under the floor. As he does so, he inad­vert­ently activ­ates the sys­tem, only find­ing out when he detects rising power levels in the cables. He rushes out to the power plant, intent on cut­ting it off before the arte­fact activ­ates again. He decides not to shut it off com­pletely, in case that causes fur­ther prob­lems, but to restrict it to a min­im­al rise in power consumption.

Intent on hunt­ing down more research data, Zepht loc­ates Pov­os’s home, a nor­mal-look­ing house filled with ali­en arte­facts and reli­gious texts in vari­ous lan­guages, most of which are extinct. Amongst them he finds Pov­os’s journ­al, which records his search for a belief sys­tem that can really lead to a more peace­ful soci­ety. The record includes his sys­tem­at­ic ana­lys­is of many fringe beliefs, and how he rejec­ted each of them in turn. The later parts of the journ­al appear to be writ­ten in a script Zepht does­n’t recognise.

Zepht returns to the ship and uses the lib­rary com­puter to identi­fy the script, which turns out to be Sanskrit. The trans­la­tion elab­or­ates on Pov­os’s evolving plans, beliefs and research. Zepht is then able to access the final por­tion of the research data by assum­ing it’s not encryp­ted at all – just writ­ten in Sanskrit. This reveals exactly what the col­on­ists did to activ­ate the obelisk, a pro­cess requir­ing an exot­ic radi­ation burst emit­ted by FGC-68024 twice every loc­al year.

It is now obvi­ous that Pov­os suc­ceeded in activ­at­ing the obelisk and trans­ferred all life in the area to some­where else – or dis­in­teg­rated it. As not all the col­on­ists were mem­bers of the cult, it is likely that some did not want to be part of this, mak­ing their res­cue imper­at­ive. Unfor­tu­nately, while Azon­an is suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing anoth­er activ­a­tion, it looks like there is noth­ing they can do for the col­on­ists for at least five months.

They take the research data to feed back into the Tilikaal pro­ject, intend­ing to come back later (or send someone else) to retrieve the miss­ing col­on­ists when the next radi­ation burst is due.

The Arc: Dr Pov­os’s journ­als con­tain sig­ni­fic­ant research into the nature of oth­er dimen­sions and how to reach them, with a focus on the known Tilikaal arte­facts. This research is likely to be use­ful in the ongo­ing efforts to free Ash’tamalia and her people.

Obser­va­tions: Pov­os Nec foun­ded the Rap­ture Found­a­tion with the aim of cre­at­ing a soci­ety that is not prone to the viol­ence and sus­pi­cion that he believed per­vades all 24th cen­tury soci­et­ies. It has foun­ded a num­ber of exper­i­ment­al colon­ies, each inde­pend­ent of the Fed­er­a­tion and usu­ally loc­ated at the edge of Fed­er­a­tion space. Each has exper­i­mented with a dif­fer­ent approach to soci­et­al struc­ture, striv­ing to achieve some kind of utopia.

At its core, the Found­a­tion is basic­ally a reli­gious cult devoted to the teach­ings of its founder, and a little over half the ini­tial pop­u­la­tion of New Brit­an­nia was made up of adher­ents. FGC-68024 itself was selec­ted due to its loc­a­tion with­in the Shack­leton Expanse (there­fore close to Tilikaal space) and the unusu­al radi­ation of its primary, which Pov­os believed would con­trib­ute to his goals. His journ­al reveals that he has come to the con­clu­sion that the only way to achieve his uto­pia is to take his fol­low­ers to anoth­er uni­verse entirely.

Dia­logue: Dr Telen Daraas’s full dis­tress call: “This is Dr Telen Daraas call­ing for assist­ance from any Star­fleet ves­sel in range. I’m at the New Brit­an­nia colony. It’s the cult … Dr Pov­os Nec … He won’t listen to reas­on and the cult­ists are back­ing him up… You have to stop them. If it is activ­ated, the inter­ac­tion with our sun­’s radi­ation will be dev­ast­at­ing! No one will sur­vive the trans­ition! Please help us!”

Ref­er­ences: At one point, Azon­an pos­its that the lack of life might be the res­ult of an attack by a Crys­tal­line Entity, but the evid­ence does­n’t fit: a Crys­tal­line Entity would have con­sumed all life on the plan­et, and left only ash.

Ques­tions: Are the miss­ing col­on­ists still alive? And can they be rescued?