Chapter 5 - Season 3, Episode 5, MeMe and Friends
Lieutenant Commander Carl Hedley Executive Officer
Lieutenant Commander Ezekiel “Zeke” Pride Flight Controller
Lieutenant Elli-Navine Chief Engineer
Lieutenant Alexander Artopolis Chief Medical Officer
Lieutenant Reeza Ral Chief Operations Officer
Lieutenant Scott McIntyre Chief Tactical/Security Officer
Heading towards a blue sun that got swapped in from another universe? Apparently a Captain Santo Umezawa of the USS Tonga who was exploring the system has asked for help. By name. Apparently they’ve found ‘something’ interesting. Hmm…
Nice green overgrown planet. Apparently there are dragons there, so that’s fun? At any rate, the Tonga sends some transporter coordinates to somewhere the crew never visited before. Apparently it’s a ruined and dilapidated city, thoroughly overgrown, but scanning isn’t all that helpful because Ral isn’t paying all that much attention.
Beam down into the basement of one of the more robust buildings, met by some Tonga crew. Looking through the newly collapsed window, seems to be a vibrant, flourishing ecosystem, with all birds and stuff, but fortunately no dragons. Also there’s a lift in the floor which clearly isn’t starfleet, so that’s fun.
Meet the Captain, who says hi and takes the crew into another room filled with stuff and things, again not starfleet, apparently a repair bay. Interesting, but apparently not what’s actually interesting. Looks like they’ve got a unique brand of fusion reactor, too, which is kinda neat. Not working, though.
Then there’s another room with alcoves all along the walls, about 3 feet tall, each of which has an oval recessed into the floor. Apparently it’s a recharge station for Meme-type robots or something. It’s got diagnostics, too, which seem to pick up more than starfleet systems do. Including a brainwave pattern thing. Creepy. Seems like the drone thing might have an AI robo-brain or something. Definitely sapient, though, or at least it looks like it.
Then it seems like Santo is finally getting to the point, maybe? Through more of a SECRET TUNNEL than a corridor, into a big ol’ cave. Captain is still being infuriatingly mysterious about the whole thing, but she hands out some NVGs so the crew can give the cavern a look. It’s like 170 metres across. Also it’s swarming with Memes, so that’s pretty surprising. Also baby Memes? That just brings up so many questions!
After letting the crew take in the spectacle, Santo shows them some sensor data of three Memes taking components from their own bodies and using them to construct a baby Meme. Don’t need to do it, what with the replicators and such, but it looks like it transfers some kind of personality imprint or something. Apparently they brought the illustrious crew in to do some first-ish contact or something.
Meme takes matters into her own hands by tripping and falling down into the cavern and landing face-first in front of one of the others. She’s pretty surprised, but for sure the other one is more surprised. There goes the initiative, anyway. Meme, the lovable scamp, just replicates a tricorder and scans it there and then, sending the data back. Seems identical to her, maybe like a descendent of the version of machine she is.
When more Memes show up, Meme seems a little uncomfortable, so Ral heads in to keep her comfortable. Baby Memes show up, do a bit of swarming over Ral, then disappear, curiosity satisfied. Carl does the linguistics and some analysis. Looks like they communicate by a combination of radio, R2D2 noises and body language. All sorts of different sizes, ranging from tiny to Meme size. He manages to talk to the adults, though! Clearly very smart and sapient, they know what’s going on outside, and it seems like they might have a theoretical knowledge of more advanced tech.
Carl does some introductions, trying to do his first first contact properly. Looks like they don’t have names, instead identifying each other by glowing different colours of IR and UV, though not much visual. That being said, the babies seem to be starting to glow visually, too, in distinct shades, and then all of a sudden everyone starts glowing. Looks like hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Would be creepy, if they weren’t so friendly.
They turn the lights on, too, and it turns out the whole place is filled with plants, some insects, too. There also seem to be a couple of tunnel entrances in the corners, angling up towards the surface. Ral panics and pilfers the doctor’s med kit for a shot of epinephrine, to keep on herself just in case.
They say they’ve been living in the cave for a few thousand years, since the population got wiped out. They live down here because the muons that caused the wiping out were harmful to them, too. Now it isn’t, they spend their time exploring the world above, communing with nature, stuff like that. All very idyllic. Apparently there are other groups around in other colonies. They do interact, but more like interactions between countries and stuff than just friendly conversations. They’re all pretty harmonious, though, really, and they all want the same thing. They just want to look after the planet. All very nice and lovely.
Apparently, though, there are some nearby places where ‘the darkness’ lives, where they don’t go but occasionally it comes to visit. It screws with their lights and kills them, so they don’t know much about it. Sounds from what they say like something EMP-like. One survived it, but it seems to have messed her up pretty badly. According to her it was caused by a seriously mutated Meme.
Carl asks if they mind the crew having a poke around to find out what’s going on with the Darkness, and after a few seconds of discussion they say it’s alright. Some of them want to come, though. Seems reasonable enough, and the crew come up with some settings for the tricorders which should protect them from any EMP shenanigans.
They lead the way to a barricaded, disused tunnel, impressively well hidden with a dry stone wall. Dark, creepy, tunnel, but we’ve got torches and sensors and helmet lights, so no problems there. Santo just leaves us to it and sends in some anthropologists to do their jobs.
Walls are pretty well made, but there seem to be gouge marks all along the tunnel. Somewhat concerning. Looks like something big and gribbly came along here without quite fitting. Which means it was pretty beefy, since the tunnel is 2-3m across. Spooky.
Opens up into a bigger cavern with a skylight. There also seem to be hundreds of dead Memes here, which is quite sad. Looks like someone or something has been ripping out components. And, indeed, it looks like something is right here, because there’s a big gribbly mechanical spider in the middle of the room.
Everyone gets phasers out and on stun, then Ral starts to scan the spooder once we’re ready for it. Also, cover is taken by all. Scan the blighter, it has parts of Memes in it, but it doesn’t seem sapient at all, more animal intelligence. Screaming at us with EMP and IR, but not saying anything coherent. Looks like it might have originally been a construction vehicle or a transport, probably maintaining itself through salvage. It’s got storage space in its abdomen and a crane system, plus it looks like it can climb vertical surfaces.
Lunges forwards, but misses. Looks like without the tricorder it’s having trouble seeing the crew. No visual sensors? When the doctor throws a rock, it looks over at that, so seems like it does have audio.
It seems pretty hostile, and we need to study it to find out what’s going on, so commence the stunning. Scott takes a bit of a punt, but him and Basin manage to bring the beastie down. Seems to stop the EMP thing. It could probably run and jump pretty fast and far, so no wonder it was pretty scary.
Seems like it’s an animal, not attacking them maliciously, just looking for spare parts. Memes seem to want to wipe its database and reinstall the original OS. Doesn’t seem like anything particularly caused it other than just thousands of years without maintenance. At any rate, the crew leave it to the Memes to decide what to do with it, since it’s their planet and they consider themselves caretakers. Make sure to teach them how to defend themselves from the EMP effect, though. Not only is it the right thing to do, it might ingratiate them with the Federation, so win-win.
They do ask for help wiping the thing’s programming, but Ellie and Ral have that covered no problem. Its programming is all sorts of messed up, filled with conflicts and stuff which make it so crazy. But the Memes are on board with fixing the conflicts rather than wiping the code completely, and they agree to repair it while it’s out so it doesn’t have to go hunting for spares anymore. Takes a little while, but it does end up working, and the Memes have the thing looking brand new by the time it’s done.
It wakes up suddenly again, but the Memes talk to it this time, and they seem to come to an understanding. Hurrah! Peaceful resolution! Memes seem happy, beastie isn’t crazy anymore, and it could even help them with their caretaking job.