Episode Number: 1×03
Written by: Jacob Ross
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 23rd April 2022
- Commander T’lah: commanding officer of the Starfleet science team on Abyss Station.
- Mayor Akkara: leader of the Ithik government.
- Okkor: Ithik cultist.
- Lieutenant Velak: acting leader of the Abyss Station landing party on ω Dra c.
- Science Specialist Sekar: member of the Abyss Station landing party on ω Dra c.
- The Minister for Astronomy: member of the Ithik government.
- The Minister for Philosophy: member of the Ithik government.
- The Ministers for Agriculture, Biology and Physics: members of the Ithik government.
- Barokk: Ithik cultist.
Lexington is currently responding to an emergency request from Abyss Station, a Starfleet research facility studying the black hole at Omega Draconis, along with both the lone planet and the mysterious alien construct orbiting it.
A science team had accidentally activated what appears to be an interstellar weapons system within the construct, and although we have succeeded in disabling it, this came at a cost. The construct itself was destroyed, and the black hole is now spinning on a new axis – its x‑ray emissions now endangering the small native population of the planet. I find myself faced with the risk of violating the Prime Directive if I choose to save their lives.
Furthermore, it appears that the activation of the weapon system may not have been an accident…Captain’s Log: Stardate, 5456.8
Plot: With the ancient weapons system disabled, Captain Pryce and his team attempt to find out why it was activated in the first place, before figuring out how to rescue the indigenous population of ω Dra b.
The ‘A’ Plot: Dodging their way between falling debris, Pryce, Strauss and A’Mathi make it to the landing bay in time for Adred to be able to pilot Iron Maiden out into space. ω Dra c’s gravity is increasing rapidly as its systems fail, and Adred has to dodge extreme gravitational shear while Pryce offers “helpful” advice and A’Mathi looks after the straining engines. Eventually, they make it to safety, and glide into Lexington’s hangar deck. Nossaag takes the prisoners to the brig while Pryce and the bridge crew make their way to A deck.
Once Commander Shiva has been brought up to date, the Captain contacts T’lah aboard Abyss Station. She is concerned to hear about the activities of her landing party, and agrees to visit Lexington as soon as they are within transporter range.
Meanwhile, Nossaag is attempting to interrogate the prisoners. He begins with the senior of the two Vulcans, Lt Velak, but when Ensign George enters his cell, he exits it again with some speed, hitting the corridor wall hard. Nossaag is forced to stun the crazed Vulcan before he can injure the rest of those present. Strapping Velak into a secure chair, he calls for a specialist from Sickbay to come and examine him, since this is not normal Vulcan behaviour. Dr Schneider arrives and, dismissing Nossaag’s concerns that it may be pon farr, scans the prisoner, discovering evidence of brain damage eliminating his ability to control his emotions. With Velak conscious again and Pryce present, all questions are answered with snarled ancient Vulcan, which the universal translator refuses to translate (it is a family show). Schneider sends him, under sedation, to Sickbay where they can diagnose and treat him more effectively.
The other Vulcan, Specialist Sekar, is distinctly calmer and appears to be meditating. When Nossaag moves him to the interrogation room, he makes no protest. While Schneider scans him, the security chief attempts to find out why they activated the weapon. Sekar seems quite literally happy to explain, wearing an unnerving grin as he tells them that they were following sealed orders from Starfleet Command, which were vital to the security of the Federation. Pryce demands to know where the orders came from, but Sekar will only say that they were conveyed via Lt Stahk, the landing party leader – now deceased. He does let them know that the orders were relayed to the party once they had encountered the two alien humanoids. While Schneider points out that Sekar, though outwardly calm, has suffered the same kind of brain damage as Velak, Nossaag begins to entertain the notion that they may have been mind-controlled by the aliens.
The apparent senior of the two humanoids, Orrok, is now brought in. He seems happy to talk, but it rapidly becomes clear that he has a slightly odd world view. It turns out that both he and his colleague, who are Ithik from ω Dra b, are followers of a religion venerating a being called the Architect, who has created a plan that necessitates the destruction of the universe. Attempts to explain the absurdity of this to the prisoner get nowhere, and he seems amused that they think this is an odd idea.
Schneider, meanwhile, has had the chance to examine both Vulcan prisoners, and the injured individual recovered from ω Dra c. He’s not convinced on the mind control hypothesis, but all three had suffered the same kind of brain damage, which looked like it had been caused by the radiation pervading the system. He theorises that this may have both weakened their Vulcan self-control and made them more susceptible to suggestion. Nossaag starts worrying about Lt Strauss’s Vulcan heritage and requests that he be restricted to quarters until further notice.
Commander T’lah beams across from Abyss Station, and is rather surprised to be met by a security detail. Captain Pryce explains that this is just a precaution and details the situation. T’lah comments that such loss of control has been caused by radiation in the past, and asks to see the survivors. Once in Sickbay, she suggests that she might perform a mind-meld, and that Nossaag might want to be ready in case she is influenced as a result. Once she is finished, she concurs with Schneider’s diagnosis: brain damage as a result of radiation had weakened their willpower and made them susceptible to simple suggestions. The Ithik had easily convinced Stahk that he had sealed orders to test the weapon, and the others readily followed his orders.
The ‘B’ Plot: With the immediate mystery resolved, Pryce, T’lah and the senior officers turned their attention to the inhabitants of ω Dra b. T’lah reported that they had yet to carry out a detailed study on their culture, but that initial probes had shown that they were a relatively primitive pastoral people living in a large cavern a kilometer or so below the surface of the planet. There are no direct accesses to the airless surface, so they will have to beam in.
Pryce opts to put together a landing party with A’Mathi, Nossaag, a xenoanthropologist named Lt Harrid and a couple of security personnel. They arrive inside a huge, temperate cavern several kilometers across, and illuminated by bright solar lamps in the roof. A number of crop fields and white stone buildings surround an artificial hill surmounted by a structure very like the Acropolis on Earth. As they approach the community, the Ithik acknowledge their presence but don’t seem alarmed to see them.
Pryce requests a meeting with their leaders, and an individual wearing elaborate jewelry appears, welcoming them to Chaktir, and announcing himself as Mayor Akkara. When Pryce announces the reason for their presence, he seems unimpressed and informs them that their society has endured great tribulations beginning with the explosion of their star and that their survival proved they were blessed. They would survive this. His constituents seem to agree.
Pryce continues to argue, but Akkara doesn’t seem to be interested; he passes them off to his large number of ministers. The captain continues to try and persuade the Mayor, finding himself locked in a debate between the Minister of Physics, who does believe there is a risk, and the Minister of Philosophy, who believes they are figments of the imagination, made real by the Ithik’s superior intellects. Harrid talks to the Minister of Astronomy, who is convinced Chaktir is the centre of the universe, and takes the opportunity to learn alot about their culture, especially their supreme egos.
It is A’Mathi who finally comes up with a compelling argument: either the visitors are correct and everyone is in danger, or they are wrong. Why not evacuate? In the first case, it would save their lives; in the other, they can return, secure in the knowledge the visitors were wrong.
Nossaag had asked for a tour of the vegetable fields, and was escorted by the Minister of Agriculture. He selects a suitable root vegetable before returning to the group to demonstrate exactly what the x‑ray beam will do to the planet by means of the root vegetable and his phaser. This demonstration leaves the Mayor quite shaken, and after a quick ministerial consultation in which the other arguments are discussed, evacuation is agreed.
The entire population (about half of whom still do not believe the threat is real) are evacuated to Lexington within three hours. Twelve hours after that, the radiation beam from the black hole slices through the planet, leaving the surface above the cave system absolutely molten. Even the most reluctant Ithik are convinced.
While Pryce considers the prospect of finding them a new home, T’lah and her team elect to remain and study ω Dra a*, requesting only that Lexington tows Abyss Station to a safer orbit.
Observations: ω Dra b, known to the Ithik as Chaktir, is tide-locked with one side always facing the black hole and the surface itself is a scorched, airless wasteland. The Ithik live under the surface on the far side. Their culture is not as primitive as it seems: they have a small, long-lived population and enough food and minerals to live a comfortable life-style with little impetus to change. Their only problem is boredom.
Lt Adred really doesn’t want to use the transporter. When Captain Pryce considered adding him to the landing party, he protested, and Dr Midax backed him up with a medical exemption. Long-term fans of Star Trek will know what the Trill members of the crew are hiding.
We get to meet Dr Schneider, one of Midax’s assistants in Sickbay, and Lt Harrid, a xenoanthropologist. The unfortunate security Ensign George also makes his first appearance.
Dialogue: Dr Schneider, diagnosing Velak’s injuries: “His brain wiring went nuts!”
Questions: Who constructed ω Dra c, and what happened to them?
How did Okkor and Barrok get to ω Dra c?