Prayers of Suppression, Part II

Epis­ode Num­ber: 3×02

Writ­ten by: Michael Dismuke

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 25th Novem­ber 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Com­pas­sion­ate Bene­dic­tion (“Bene”): Friendly Oreis­on citizen.
  • Con­sec­rated Abso­lu­tion: Bene’s eld­er brother.
  • The High Priest of the Beseech­ing Glory Holy Order.

Our land­ing party is invest­ig­at­ing one of the cit­ies of the Oreis­on, a highly-reli­gious people resid­ing on BC-10d, a world with close ties to the mys­ter­i­ous K’si. Oreis­on tech­no­logy is roughly equi­val­ent to that of Earth’s 15th cen­tury, so LtCdr Hop­era and their team are dis­guised as loc­als, in line with stand­ard pro­to­cols for pre-warp cul­tures. Early reports indic­ate an open and friendly cul­ture, and the team has been invited to stay with one of the nat­ives. They have, how­ever, detec­ted signs of advanced ali­en tech­no­logy at the temple and are intend­ing to invest­ig­ate further.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 9970.7

Plot: An acci­dent­al rev­el­a­tion leads to the land­ing party meet­ing a revolu­tion­ary group, then get­ting caught up in a crack­down by the reli­gious authorities.

The ‘A’ Plot: Bene invites the land­ing party to stay with her fam­ily on the out­skirts of the city of Beseech­ing Glory. When they worry that they will be impos­ing, she reminds them that it is her duty and joy to offer hos­pit­al­ity to strangers.

Her home turns out to be a two-storey dwell­ing, par­tially set into the cliff on one side of the city. A large cent­ral liv­ing space on the ground floor opens into a kit­chen and guest rooms, with fam­ily quar­ters above. In com­mon with much of the city, it is elab­or­ately dec­or­ated, with brightly-col­oured wall hangings and intric­ately-carved dec­or­at­ive fea­tures. They are wel­comed by her par­ents, grand­moth­er, and her two eld­er broth­ers, who are in the pro­cess of lay­ing out an enorm­ous even­ing meal.

As the last plat­ter is brought out by Bene’s fath­er, they settle down and then her moth­er passes around a large gob­let of the loc­al wine for all to sip from. Then she begins to tell a story of how, when she was young and liv­ing in a remote high­land region, she des­paired of ever find­ing a hus­band. She went to the temple and prayed for help from the K’si, then returned to her lonely life. Soon, a man from the city passing through the area was injured and she provided a bed for him to recov­er. As he did so, they became close and were later mar­ried, show­ing how the K’si had ful­filled her request.

She turns to the vis­it­ors and asks Dr Vale, as the eld­est female in the group, to relate how the K’si had blessed her. Vale is a little sur­prised, but is able to adapt recent ele­ments of her own life, telling of how her hus­band died in a pois­on­ous fire, help­ing save his people. With her chil­dren grown, her life had little mean­ing, but a chance encounter with her old friend Hop­era led to her join­ing their trad­ing exped­i­tion, and adopt­ing its mem­bers as a new family.

With the exchange of tales out of the way, Bene’s moth­er calls for the bless­ings of the K’si on their meal and they eat. Dur­ing the meal, they are asked many ques­tions about their home­land, and are forced to make up con­vin­cing answers on the fly. Tim­mons, as a dip­lo­mat­ic spe­cial­ist, steps in and uses the con­ver­sa­tion to learn more about the cul­ture of Beseech­ing Glory itself. Dur­ing this time, Bene seems to take a lik­ing to James, spend­ing a lot of time talk­ing dir­ectly to him, and Hop­era quietly takes notes on the loc­al food.

The team are offered a pair of rooms, and they go to bed a little light-headed from the strong wine. Not long after loc­al mid­night, Bene sneaks in to talk to James, and dis­turbs one of their bags. Unfor­tu­nately, the bag is not secure and a tri­cord­er falls out. When James real­ises who’s there, she’s study­ing the device, fas­cin­ated by the flash­ing lights. He tries to explain it away as a child’s toy, cre­ated as a sample for his city’s wares, but she con­vinces her­self that he’s a “tech­no­lo­gist”. She leaves, prom­ising to show him some­thing amaz­ing in the morn­ing. Wor­ried about the implic­a­tions of this, James and Tim­mons get to work on rebuild­ing a tri­cord­er as a simple empty con­tain­er, with just the lights, in case they need to prove it is a toy.

After break­fast the fol­low­ing morn­ing, Bene and her broth­ers lead them into the build­ing’s base­ment, where they uncov­er a care­fully-hid­den door­way. Bey­ond it, a tun­nel leads through the heart of the hill above them, even­tu­ally open­ing into a large cham­ber over­look­ing a lake hid­den in the jungle. The room appears to be a work­shop, with tables covered in mod­els of sev­er­al types of steam engine. Bene explains how they work, assum­ing they will not be famil­i­ar with the tech­no­logy, then asks about their own inven­tions, includ­ing the tri­cord­er. While all three Oreis­on are eager to learn, it is clear that this is not the kind of thing loc­al soci­ety approves of. The eld­est, Con­sec­rated Abso­lu­tion, describes the fam­ily as Tech­no­lo­gists, mem­bers of an under­ground move­ment, research­ing and invent­ing devices banned by the oppress­ive edicts of the K’si.

While they dis­cuss the devices, a sud­den babble in the cor­ridor her­alds the arrival of a dozen Oreis­on in reli­gious garb, four of them hold­ing Bene’s par­ents by the arms. Their lead­er demands that every­one present sur­render for tri­al by the “Holy Order” for prac­tising dark arts.

The land­ing party quickly comes to the con­clu­sion that being cap­tured would res­ult in the dis­cov­ery of the more advanced Star­fleet devices and make things worse. Tim­mons acts first, fir­ing his phaser on wide angle in the hopes of stun­ning some of the new­comers. He fails, and the priests surge for­ward bran­dish­ing cudgels. Dur­ing the des­per­ate fight, James tries to pro­tect Bene, while she tries to con­vince the group to sur­render due to the poten­tial for her par­ents to be injured. Hop­era tries to bring the ceil­ing of the pas­sage down behind the attack­ers, to pre­vent them sum­mon­ing rein­force­ments, but fails. Even­tu­ally, more priests arrive via the open­ing from the jungle, and they real­ise they are outnumbered.

The land­ing party mem­bers are stripped of their phasers, com­mu­nic­at­ors and tri­cord­ers, and their protests that these are simple chil­dren’s toys are ignored. Along with Bene’s fam­ily, they are taken to the temple and placed in a cell.

Aboard Lyo­n­esse, Cap­tain Mas­uda is informed that the land­ing party has missed a check-in. Wor­ried, she has the sci­ence officer scan the city for their lifesigns. They are loc­ated with­in the zig­gur­at at the centre of the city, but are sep­ar­ated from their tech­no­logy. Unclear as to the situ­ation, she decides to mon­it­or the situ­ation for now, rather than inter­vene. She does put the trans­port­er room on standby, but the sci­ence officer notes that their prox­im­ity to the dark mat­ter orb would pre­vent any attempt to beam them out.

On the sur­face, the pris­on­ers are brought to the room con­tain­ing the dark mat­ter orb, where the High Priest announces that both Bene’s fam­ily and the vis­it­ors have been dis­covered to be heretics who exper­i­ment with dark tech­no­logy for­bid­den by the K’si. Turn­ing to the orb, he calls on their gods to judge the devices and cleanse them. The gad­gets are placed in a circle on the dais under the orb and, moments later, a bolt of black light­ning dis­in­teg­rates it all.

The High Priest calls on the cre­at­or of the devices to present them­self, so that they may be judged and executed accord­ing to the will of the K’si. The remainder of the pris­on­ers will then work out their pen­ance for their crimes. Con­sec­rated Abso­lu­tion is ready to take the pun­ish­ment, but Tim­mons argues that their own party was respons­ible and, as non-res­id­ents, should be tried and pun­ished by their own soci­ety. With the oth­ers back­ing him up, he is suc­cess­ful: the exe­cu­tion is com­muted to pen­it­en­tial ser­vice and the land­ing party is exiled from the city.

James bids his final farewell to Bene, and the group return to their beam-up point out­side Beseech­ing Glory. Lyo­n­esse’s crew, which has been wait­ing for the chance, imme­di­ately brings them aboard, where the cap­tain is wait­ing for them. Mas­uda is not happy with the out­come of the mis­sion, and sum­mons the team for an imme­di­ate debrief­ing as soon as they are out of their disguises.

The Arc: The K’si are dis­covered to be using reli­gion to exert act­ive con­trol over the Oreis­on. While they evid­ently do not have an equi­val­ent to the prime dir­ect­ive, Mas­uda remains hope­ful they may be able to nego­ti­ate a peace­ful first contact.

Obser­va­tions: The work­shop is carved into a cliff-face on the shore of a lake hid­den in the jungle. Its benches con­tain sev­er­al work­ing mod­els of steam engines, includ­ing a pro­to­type tur­bine, a much more advanced device. Bene’s fam­ily are Tech­no­lo­gists, defy­ing the K’si’s edicts against advanced tech­no­logy, as issued by their Holy Order.

Vale’s hus­band died on the after­math of the Prax­is Incid­ent, where he was involved in Fed­er­a­tion relief efforts, spe­cific­ally those evac­u­at­ing the Ori­on enclave. It was while she was work­ing out what to do with her life that she agreed to join Lyo­n­esse’s mis­sion in the Black Cluster.

Ques­tions: Why do the K’si restrict nat­ive tech­no­logy in this way? And what is the orb’s actu­al purpose?