Episode Number: 115
Written by: Michael Dismuke
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 29th August 2021
- 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?