‘Planet of the Ebon Pearl’ Part Two

Episode Num­ber: 115

Writ­ten by: Michael Dismuke

Direct­ed by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 29th August 2021

Guest Stars:

  • Sci­ence Spe­cial­ist, 1st Class, Ara: Auran anthropologist
  • Lieu­tenant Dar­lene Phillips: for­mer Chief Engi­neer, SS Atlantis NX-05
  • Yok­to: an Ichthyasan fisherman

Cap­tain’s Log: Star­date, 9857.2

Our plans have hit a few road­blocks of late. Our deliv­ery of Atlantis’s refugees to Deep Space 3 has been thwart­ed by the unex­pect­ed clo­sure of the entrance pas­sage­way of the neb­u­la. With no oth­er option, we adapt­ed and con­tin­ued with our pri­ma­ry mis­sion in the hopes we would find anoth­er exit. Now, at BC-05, the dense clouds of ionised gas sur­round­ing the only world have caused exten­sive sys­tems fail­ures. Our inves­ti­ga­tion of the unique bronze-age civil­i­sa­tion, and the mys­te­ri­ous dark mat­ter orb at the cen­tre of its largest city, will have to wait until these issues are resolved.

Plot: Lyonesse con­ducts major repairs while her Anthro­pol­o­gy Offi­cer plans an away mis­sion with a difference.

The ‘A’ Plot: Once repairs are com­plete, Spe­cial­ist Ara com­mences work on plan­ning and imple­ment­ing their unusu­al away mis­sion. She decides to name the locals as “Ichtharysans” in hon­our of an obscure myth from her homeworld.

Ensign Locke takes on the first stage of the project, send­ing a remote con­trol probe to the sur­face to locate and car­ry out med­ical scans on an iso­lat­ed group of the locals. With this infor­ma­tion in hand, Dr Vale can cre­ate a biosyn­thet­ic flesh ana­logue to cov­er their remote con­trol drones. Mean­while, Lt Valik’s team designs and con­structs the mechan­i­cal innards of the drones.

The whole process takes about a week before three fake Ichtharysans are cre­at­ed. A num­ber of crew mem­bers have been train­ing in oper­at­ing them, using vir­tu­al real­i­ty head­sets, and the test­ing goes well.

Final­ly, the remote away team is beamed to the sur­face, arriv­ing in a small unin­hab­it­ed bay a lit­tle ways east of the cap­i­tal city. Once the team (Ara, Vale and Lt Astan) have got their bear­ings, they head to the near­est fish­ing vil­lage to try and hire a boat.

This turns out to be eas­i­er than expect­ed. They run into a friend­ly local fish­er­man, Yok­to, who wel­comes them and imme­di­ate­ly offers them food and acco­mo­da­tion. Ara finds her­self exchang­ing sto­ries with the chil­dren and then relat­ing the same sto­ries at the feast, fol­low­ing a rit­u­al that gives them some insight into the local reli­gion sur­round­ing the Ebon Pearl. After a peri­od spent sleep­ing in a vacant house (the locals still seem to need sleep despite the lack of night), they trade for a fish­ing boat and set off for the big city.

The city is huge, with over a mil­lion inhab­i­tants, and is carved into the hill­side, with a large net­work of canals. They dock the boat near a seashore tem­ple and enter to learn more about their reli­gion. Their aim at this point is to estab­lish them­selves as pil­grims so that they can get access to the cer­e­mo­ni­al ascent way up the volcano.

The ‘B’ & ‘C’ Plots: Lt Valik and the engi­neer­ing depart­ment get to work on repairs. Giv­en the extent of the dam­age, Valik decides to make use of Atlantis’s engi­neers, even though they’re not up to speed on 23rd cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy. He assigns them to work on de-Gauss­ing the Bus­sard scoops on the warp nacelles, while Lyonesse’s engi­neer­ing team work on the sen­sors. In the mean­time, he attends to the EPS sys­tem him­self, using his expert knowl­edge of the sys­tem to run repairs from a cen­tral location.

The Atlantis team turn out to be some­what over­whelmed by the scale of their task, but luck­i­ly the Lyonesse team fin­ish faster than expect­ed and lend their exper­tise to help them. The work is fin­ished just as Valik fin­ish­es his task, after four sol­id days…

Obser­va­tions: The sphere of dark mat­ter, known in the myths as the Ebon Pearl, looms over most of the native Ichthyasan cul­ture, seen as the bringer of peace, hap­pi­ness and boun­ti­ful har­vests, although it is unclear whether it is viewed as a sen­tient god or more of a cor­nu­copia. It is appar­ent­ly attend­ed by the Ebon Spir­its, who act as inter­me­di­aries between the Ebon Pearl and the natives. It is unclear whether these are a small group or a large host of beings, and whether they are phys­i­cal or spir­i­tu­al in nature (despite their title). The Ebon Pearl fea­tures in murals, myths and songs, and every com­mu­ni­ty appears to have a pil­lar or tow­er with a black sphere on its top as a focus of worship.

The vol­cano seems to be a pri­ma­ry point of wor­ship for this reli­gion, with a pil­grim­mage route climb­ing most of its height, with occa­sion­al rit­u­al plat­forms. For the Ichtharysans, who have no legs, mak­ing this pil­grim­mage must be a major achievement.

Phys­i­cal­ly, the Ichtharysans are amphib­ian, with pow­er­ful fore­arms and no legs, instead pos­ses­sion a pow­er­ful tail to dri­ve them through the water. They live along the coasts, their hous­es built across the low tide line, catch seal­ife for food, and dig canals inland to ease their move­ments. Their cul­ture seems to be fair­ly open and wel­com­ing to strangers. Yok­to shows no hes­i­ta­tion in invit­ing the land­ing par­ty to their feast.

Dia­logue: Yok­to: “Wel­come strangers! Please, come and par­take of our feast!”

Ques­tions: Who are the Ebon Spir­its? And how do they relate to the Ebon Pearl?