New Vahar, Part I

Epis­ode Num­ber: 2×09

Writ­ten by: Jon Crew

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 22nd Janu­ary 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Tre­leac: Head of Vahari government
  • Gen­er­al Casyc: Vahari Army Commander
  • Ser­geant Morto: Vahari seni­or secur­ity officer
  • Danyyl: Nat­ive servant
  • Nutaak: Nat­ive servant

First con­tact! It’s the dream of every officer: to be part of the first dip­lo­mat­ic meet­ings between the Fed­er­a­tion and anoth­er civil­isa­tion; to help birth a new alliance…

When we dis­covered the drift­ing ark­ship Grif Val­ata, repaired her and sent her on her way 2 months ago, we were hop­ing to dis­cov­er the des­cend­ants of her build­ers, but did not expect it to be so soon. Our actu­al first con­tact was 3 weeks ago, when we found the Vahari in con­flict with an unusu­al nat­ive life­form on Abassa. Hav­ing helped resolve this dis­pute, we have been invited to meet the gov­ern­ment on New Vahar and estab­lish form­al relations.

We’ve had to travel 21 days back the way we’d already come, but I think it will be worth it…

And it has to be said: the tim­ing is per­fect: we are run­ning low on food supplies!

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 9898.9

Plot: U.S.S. Lyo­n­esse jour­neys to the new home­world of the Vahari, uncov­er­ing a troub­ling history.

The ‘A’ Plot: Fol­low­ing a three-week voy­age, accom­pan­ied by one of Grishka’s trans­ports, Lyo­n­esse arrives at New Vahar, the adop­ted home­world of the Vahari people. Cap­tain Mas­uda is very aware that while this is a first con­tact situ­ation, the ves­sel is low on food sup­plies; there is a great deal of pres­sure to make a good impression.

Ini­tial scans, made as the ves­sel enters orbit, show a large num­ber of satel­lites, orbit­al vehicles and sev­er­al large sau­cer-shaped sta­tions resem­bling the Grif Val­ata. It’s obvi­ous that the large ships are the oth­er ark­ships that brought the refugee Vahari to this world, although they appear to have been stripped of drive sys­tems and heav­ily rearmed. Lock also notices that sensors are indic­at­ing an odd pat­tern of humanoid life signs on the sur­face: of a pop­u­la­tion of 70 mil­lion, more than 25 mil­lion are con­cen­trated with­in three huge, walled cit­ies. Addi­tion­ally, the pop­u­la­tion is made up of two dis­tinct spe­cies, one of which is con­fined entirely to the cit­ies. Dr Vale-of-Winds notes that there appears to be a level of segreg­a­tion on the world.

They are con­tac­ted by the Coun­cil Pres­id­ent of New Vahar, Tre­leac, who wel­comes them and invites them to beam down. He also requests that they desist from scan­ning the ves­sels around them, as the auto­mated defence sys­tems may inter­pret the activ­ity as hostile.

Mas­uda, Lt Astan, Vale and Spe­cial­ist Ara trans­port down, bring­ing gifts, arriv­ing on what appears to be a land­ing plat­form halfway up the side of a half-kilo­met­er tower. The view of the sur­round­ing city is spec­tac­u­lar, since the Vahari appear to design their build­ings for aes­thet­ic effect. On the dis­tant hori­zon, the out­er wall can be made out. Con­struc­tion is evid­ently also ongo­ing; robot­ic con­struc­tion devices crawl over sev­er­al half-com­plete structures.

Tre­leac is wait­ing for them, accom­pan­ied by an hon­our guard of Vahari secur­ity troops and a ser­vant of an unknown humanoid spe­cies. Pleas­ant­ries and gifts are exchanged, but Mas­uda’s brief attempt to engage in con­ver­sa­tion with the ser­vant is thwarted by the young woman’s timidity.

The lead­er of the hon­our guard takes them to the guest quar­ters and tells them there will be a ban­quet in their hon­our in a couple of hours. As soon as the door is closed, Astan begins scan­ning the rooms for bugs, find­ing sev­er­al, although they are quite prim­it­ive. He sets up a tri­cord­er to block the devices’ trans­mis­sions so the quar­tet can dis­cuss the situ­ation. They are already con­vinced that the second spe­cies is nat­ive to the plan­et, rel­at­ively prim­it­ive and being exploited by the Vahari.

Determ­ined to talk to one of them without being over­heard by their appar­ent mas­ters, Mas­uda arranges from some refresh­ments to be brought. When one of the nat­ive ser­vants arrives with the tray, she attempts to talk to him. Unfor­tu­nately, it seems he is not very good at the Vahari lan­guage, and the uni­ver­sal trans­lat­or is only able to pick up broken phrases. They do get the name of his spe­cies: “Del­garath”.

Soon, they are invited to the ban­quet, where they are intro­duced to around twenty mem­bers of the Coun­cil, four gen­er­als from the mil­it­ary, and their vari­ous spouses. There are around two dozen ser­vants, all of the nat­ive spe­cies, and it seems that their assump­tions about their status are likely to be true.

The group splits up amongst the dig­nit­ar­ies, each determ­ined to find out some­thing useful.

The cap­tain is mono­pol­ised by Tre­leac, who relates the tra­gic his­tory of the Vahari exile, and their losses as a res­ult of the dis­aster. He expounds at length on the high cul­ture of his people, espe­cially their art and archi­tec­ture. He remains grate­ful for their dis­cov­ery and repair of the Grif Val­ata, which has brought much needed Vahari vegetation.

Astan, mean­while, sneaks out through a side door from the ban­quet­ing cham­ber, look­ing for proof that the world they’re see­ing is what it appears to be. Fol­low­ing a cor­ridor fre­quen­ted by serving staff, all of whom stare, but remain quiet, he finds what appear to be offices and a canteen with a broad win­dow offer­ing a view of the city, which appears to be real. He briefly tries to activ­ate the viewscreen at one end of the room, but fails, before being accos­ted by the ser­vant from the land­ing plat­form, who asks him if he is lost. He explains that he is try­ing to learn more about the world, then asks about her people. She seems much more con­fid­ent, and offers her name as Danyyl. He draws out the story of how her people offered assist­ance and land to the Vahari refugees, only to be pushed out by the rap­idly expand­ing city. She is bit­ter about this his­tory, but does not see what her people can do about it. Astan also learns that the Del­garath are actu­ally just one among hun­dreds of nat­ive cul­tures; Danyyl is of the Ibrashed.

Dr Vale winds up talk­ing to the hus­band of one of the Coun­cil mem­bers about the qual­ity of the food, learn­ing that these are tra­di­tion­al Vahari del­ic­acies, but pre­pared by the nat­ive ser­vants. She quickly learns that the Vahari occupy roles for which they are designed, a res­ult of the rap­id expan­sion of their pop­u­la­tion from genet­ic stores. They have con­cen­trated on mil­it­ary, tech­nic­al, lead­er­ship and high cul­ture roles, leav­ing much of the drudge­work to ser­vants recruited from the nat­ives. He seems to be quite obli­vi­ous to the idea that this might be exploit­at­ive, reas­on­ing that they are ideally suited for their roles, and learn much from their Vahari employ­ers. When he asks about Ara’s role, Vale points out that the Fed­er­a­tion is made up of mul­tiple co-oper­at­ing spe­cies, includ­ing the Aquans, and that indi­vidu­als can pur­sue any career they desire. The Vahari finds this a very chaot­ic approach.

The land­ing party mem­bers meet up again a little later to com­pare notes, and agree that their earli­er impres­sion was cor­rect: the nat­ives are def­in­itely oppressed, which makes any alli­ance prob­lem­at­ic. Unfor­tu­nately, they need sup­plies, so may have to work out a way around this issue.

Mas­uda returns to talk to Tre­leac, who is talk­ing to one of the gen­er­als. Express­ing a deep fear of the mys­ter­i­ous K’si, Tre­leac is keen to arrange an alli­ance. Mas­uda finds it dif­fi­cult to explain that Star­fleet prefers to stay out of con­flicts, although she does offer to hand over any intel­li­gence Lyo­n­esse uncov­ers dur­ing her explor­a­tions, in exchange for food and oth­er sup­plies. The Coun­cil Pres­id­ent is not inter­ested in this, he wants advanced mil­it­ary tech­no­logy to help bol­ster their defences against the loom­ing threat.

Mas­uda remains uncon­vinced the K’si are a threat, whereupon Tre­leac tells her they were respons­ible for the destruc­tion of the Vahari sun.

The Arc: The Lyo­n­esse crew learns more about the K’si, although much of this inform­a­tion is hearsay and maybe fable. Amongst oth­er things, they learn that the K’si are reli­gious fan­at­ics, intent on bring­ing all peoples unto their “Sodal­ity”.

Obser­va­tions: New Vahar is a class‑M plan­et, orbit­ing an orange sun with 7 oth­er worlds, and its sur­face is about 65% water. Much of the land area is covered in dense veget­a­tion. The Vahari have estab­lished three enclaves on the coasts, each enclosed by a cir­cu­lar wall about 50 km in dia­met­er, although each city is on the coast, so its wall does not extend into the sea. The enclosed lands are cleared and con­tain extens­ive largely-auto­mated farms, super­vised by trained natives.

The Vahari lost 90% of their pop­u­la­tion when their plan­et was des­troyed, and two thirds of the sur­viv­ors were lost in the exodus. They have restored much of their num­bers using cryo­gen­ic­ally-pre­served gene-stock, and have made extens­ive use of genet­ic engin­eer­ing to ensure that appro­pri­ate indi­vidu­als are avail­able for all roles. While nat­ur­al repro­duc­tion is encour­aged, the major­ity of Vahari are the products of clon­ing. The Vahari offi­cially have no reli­gion, being ded­ic­ated to the ser­vice of their soci­ety, but still carry out tra­di­tion­al observ­ances hon­or­ing the “shad­ows” that aided their ancest­ors. Much of their cul­ture has been pre­served and the pro­duc­tion of art and oth­er such goods is second only to the rap­id military/industrial expan­sion engendered by their fear of the K’si, who they blame for the super­nova that des­troyed their home­world. This is only pos­sible because they have encour­aged mem­bers of the nat­ive pop­u­la­tion to come to their cit­ies to “improve them­selves”, where they often wind up in ser­vant or labour positions.

New Vahar’s indi­gen­ous humanoid spe­cies is about 1.6 m tall, with fair hair and long, poin­ted ears although they share the same dark eyes as the Vahari. The nat­ives are rel­at­ively prim­it­ive, liv­ing a hunter/gatherer life­style, although they do prac­tice lim­ited agri­cul­ture. They are divided into a large num­ber of com­munit­ies scattered through the forests, moun­tains and coastal regions. They claim they wel­comed the Vahari refugees when they first arrived, feed­ing them and offer­ing them sup­port and land out of a desire to help. This then caused prob­lems as the Vahari pop­u­la­tion increased and more land was taken for their walled cit­ies. Some of the nat­ives seem to be quite resigned to this, while oth­ers are more resentful.

Ques­tions: What is the true nature of the rela­tion­ship between the nat­ives and the Vahari? And where do the K’si fit in? Do they really have the power to des­troy stars?