Episode Number: 3×12
Written by: Jim Johnson
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 18th November 2023
- 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?