Episode Number: 2×09
Written by: Jon Crew
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 22nd January 2023
- 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?