‘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

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.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 9857.2

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?