Joy’s Soul Lies in the Doing, Part II

Epis­ode Num­ber: 3×12

Writ­ten by: Jim Johnson

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 18th Novem­ber 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Com­mand­er Mauti: Akaru com­mand­ing officer of the Star­ward.
  • Akaru’Bak Chiel: Akaru pro­vin­cial governor.
  • Iry­ax Nedaon: Lead­er of the Akaru.

Lex­ing­ton is in orbit around the class‑M world Setu, home of the Akaru, an intriguing spe­cies dis­tantly related to the Vul­cans. We were invited to vis­it after res­cuing one of their explor­a­tion ves­sels, ini­ti­at­ing first con­tact, and the seni­or officers are now resid­ing in the palace of the Iry­ax, an indi­vidu­al whose role seems to com­bine ele­ments of mon­arch, reli­gious lead­er and even deity. And their por­traits bear a strik­ing resemb­lance to Assessor Tredik…

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 49798.0

Plot: The seni­or officers meet the Iry­ax, and attempt to dis­cov­er their con­nec­tion to the Tilikaal. Mean­while, a garbled mes­sage is inter­cep­ted, appar­ently from the Tilikaal themselves.

The ‘A’ Plot: The land­ing party settle in to the guest apart­ment provided by the Akaru, and busy them­selves invest­ig­at­ing the imagery in the dec­or­a­tions and com­par­ing their impres­sions of the culture. 

With the cap­tain’s approv­al, Raynor and Zepht head out to sample the “night life” and meet some of the cit­izens. They have trouble find­ing their way out of the huge com­plex, and ask dir­ec­tions from a func­tion­ary med­it­at­ing in a court­yard. Talk­ing to her, they learn there is no concept of leis­ure for the Akaru, who gain most pleas­ure from doing their jobs well, so Zepht changes tack and asks about their lib­rary com­puter sys­tem. He’s dis­ap­poin­ted to dis­cov­er that their writ­ings are only in phys­ic­al books (“how inef­fi­cient!”). They go to the lib­rary any­way and study a few of the books there, learn­ing more about the his­tory of the people and their lead­er. Raynor makes a point of scan­ning them, trans­mit­ting the images back to the ship. The pair return to the apart­ment, just in time to join the oth­ers for a sump­tu­ous meal accom­pan­ied by a power­ful loc­al wine, before retir­ing for the night.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, they eat a good break­fast, but Kon­in is hor­ri­fied at the lack of any­thing resem­bling cof­fee, espe­cially the morn­ing after such strong alco­hol. He imme­di­ately con­tacts Lex­ing­ton and has a pot of cof­fee sent down.

As they are fin­ish­ing their meal, Akaru’Bak Chiel arrives to take them to the Iry­ax. Kon­in orders full dress uni­form, and Chiel then leads them to the centre of the palace and a lift plat­form which takes them up into a huge spire. About 500 metres up, they are shown into a large audi­ence cham­ber, illu­min­ated by blue and green stained glass win­dows. A num­ber of Akaru, pre­sum­ably Akaru’Bak, are watch­ing them curi­ously, but the scene is dom­in­ated by the Iry­ax, sit­ting on a large wooden throne at one end of the room.

Chiel leads them for­ward and intro­duces them to the ruler of the plan­et, who turns out to be friendly and very curi­ous as to their cul­ture, per­son­al­it­ies and motives. They are espe­cially inter­ested in how the Fed­er­a­tion inter­acts with cul­tures in need, espe­cially those less advanced. Kon­in explains about the Prime Dir­ect­ive and its intent, before ask­ing the Iry­ax about their con­nec­tion to the Akaru. Nedaon proves vague about the past, and will not admit to any know­ledge of the Tilikaal. When shown a pic­ture of Assessor Tredik, they agree that they appear to be of the same spe­cies, although they can­not say what that spe­cies is.

Through­out all of this, a quiet voice in the back of Kon­in’s mind is warn­ing him that the Iry­ax is lying. It appears that Tur­lo­nu­mi­en, the Tilikaal pas­sen­ger in his mind, does not trust their host, and is con­vinced they are up to no good. Tur­lo­nu­mi­en con­curs that Nedaon is the same spe­cies as Tredik, but provides no fur­ther inform­a­tion on that species.

Plead­ing the need to attend to bio­lo­gic­al needs, Raynor steps out of the room, and finds a safe place to sur­repti­tiously scan the area for con­cealed mon­it­or­ing devices and weapons. He dis­cov­ers that there are sev­er­al cam­er­as watch­ing the audi­ence cham­ber, along with a force field gen­er­at­or under the throne and a num­ber of anaes­thet­ic gas dis­pensers. He also takes the chance to make a detailed bio­lo­gic­al scan of the Iry­ax, although as he does­n’t have the know­ledge to inter­pret the res­ults, he for­wards them to the ship.

Back in the audi­ence cham­ber, fur­ther dis­cus­sions and pleas­ant­ries are inter­rup­ted by an urgent com­mu­nic­a­tion from Lex­ing­ton regard­ing a loc­al sub­space radi­ation burst. When the cap­tain points out that this is hardly unusu­al, and that he’s in the middle of some­thing, the duty sci­ence officer apo­lo­gises and explains that they deemed it sig­ni­fic­ant because it was tightly focussed, appar­ently dir­ec­ted at a region in the south­ern ocean. It also appears to be car­ry­ing a mes­sage and sim­il­ar bursts have already been repor­ted near oth­er Tilikaal sites in the Expanse. Kon­in relents and asks to be kept informed.

When he explains the inter­rup­tion to the Iry­ax, he dis­cov­ers that they have just been informed that the Akaru have also picked up the sig­nal. The Iry­ax asks Chiel to play the mes­sage con­tained in the burst, and a holo­graph­ic face is pro­jec­ted into the air above the throne; while it is not a known indi­vidu­al, it is def­in­itely Tilikaal. Des­pite stat­ic bursts cor­rupt­ing much of the mes­sage, the away team’s com­mu­nic­at­ors trans­late a warn­ing not to let the “others…release” some­thing . Kon­in asks for per­mis­sion to per­form a detailed sensor scan of the tar­get area of the mes­sage, but is told there would be noth­ing to inestig­ate: it is an unin­hab­ited expanse of deep ocean, a “vir­tu­al desert”.

They con­clude the dis­cus­sions with an agree­ment for form­al dip­lo­mat­ic con­tact, and the away team returns to the ship. Before leav­ing the plan­et, the cap­tain requests an Akaru liais­on officer to return to Nar­en­dra Sta­tion with them, and Com­mand­er Mauti of the Star­ward is volunteered.

Aboard the ship, they learn that the mes­sage burst was also received at a num­ber of loc­a­tions with­in the Fed­er­a­tion, all of which are on Pro­ject Dia­mond Hedge’s list of poten­tial Tilikaal sites. There is some dis­cus­sion as to what this means, and Tur­lo­nu­mi­en tells Kon­in that they do not recog­nise the indi­vidu­al in the pro­jec­tion as someone from their own dimen­sion. Mean­while, ana­lys­is of the scans made by Raynor reveals that the Iry­ax them­self appears to be a clone, and is not as old as they claim. Their DNA is sim­il­ar to that of Tredik, but shows signs of mul­tiple gen­er­a­tions of copy­ing errors, a com­mon issue with clon­ing. Raynor also com­ments that the con­cealed defens­ive weapons show the Iry­ax’s domain may not be as har­mo­ni­ous as it seems.

Zepht requests per­mis­sion to per­form a deep scan of the region of the ocean tar­get­ted by the mes­sage, but Kon­in refuses, cit­ing the poten­tial dam­age to del­ic­ate dip­lo­mat­ic rela­tions. He decides to go ahead any­way, and dis­cov­er­ing a net­work of sensors designed to detect this kind of scan, enlists Azon­an’s help refin­ing the sensor set­tings to evade them. The res­ults reveal a vast com­plex at the bot­tom of the sea, dis­play­ing Tilikaal archi­tec­ture and indic­a­tions that it is inhab­ited and act­ive. The cap­tain is not pleased when they tell him, and abso­lutely refuses to risk rela­tions with the Akaru by allow­ing fur­ther investigations.

The Arc: Nedaon is def­in­itely of the same spe­cies as Tredik, albeit removed by sev­er­al gen­er­a­tions of clon­ing, but denies any con­nec­tion to the Tilikaal. The Tilikaal mes­sage appears to be from an unknown indi­vidu­al of the spe­cies, and pos­sibly in a sep­ar­ate dimension.

Obser­va­tions: The Akaru have no real concept of leis­ure and seem to simply enjoy doing their jobs. As Raynor and Zepht dis­cov­er, this means there is no night life or oth­er kind of leis­ure industry. The plan­etwide inform­a­tion net­work mainly con­sists of instruc­tions and tech­no­logy manu­als, while reli­gious works appear to exist only in print.

The palace of the Ewyn Khar is so vast that it has its own intern­al road net­work, with elec­tric car­riages avail­able to any­one need­ing to travel between sec­tions of the complex.

Accord­ing to the reli­gious his­tor­ies, Nedaon arrived on the world dur­ing a time of war­fare sev­er­al milen­nia ago, and uni­fied the cul­ture by tak­ing on the role of a bene­vol­ent liv­ing god. Giv­en the Iry­ax’s cor­rup­ted DNA, it is unclear wheth­er this was actu­ally the same indi­vidu­al, or one of their earli­er clones.

The Akaru gov­ern­ment requires Com­mand­er Mauti to stay in touch by means of an encryp­tion device. Azon­an has to find a means of integ­rat­ing this into the ship’s long-range com­mu­nic­a­tions without com­prom­ising its effectiveness. 

Dia­logue: Cap­tain Kon­in on not­ing his break­fast’s defi­cien­cies: “Kon­in to Lex­ing­ton. Send me down a cof­fee: double strong, double cream!”

The mys­ter­i­ous Tilikaal mes­sage: “…we are here because we desire it! Do not let the others…into releas­ing…! Please…if you can hear my words, turn back…”

Ref­er­ences: The crew briefly dis­cusses send­ing ceta­cean crew­mem­bers to invest­ig­ate the mys­ter­i­ous under­wa­ter facil­ity. We have yet to see them on-screen.

Ques­tions: What is Nedaon’s con­nec­tion to the Tilikaal and Tredik? What was the full con­tent of the message?