The Supreme Mandate, Part II

Epis­ode Num­ber: 3×04

Writ­ten by: Michael Diskmuke

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 28th Janu­ary 2024

Guest Stars:

  • Jak D’Jak: Sov­er­eign Vice­roy of the K’si Host Car­ri­er Light of Heaven
  • Zed M’Zed: Primary of the Light of Heaven
  • Til T’Gish: Chief Tech­no­lo­gist of the Light of Heaven

We have met the K’si at last. I’m hope­ful that our first con­tact may be as moment­ous as that with the Vulcans…

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 9971.3

Plot: Cap­tain Mas­uda and her crew encounter the K’si in per­son for the first time. It does not go well.

The ‘A’ Plot: Lyo­n­esse’s seni­or officers plan for the con­fer­ence with the K’si Sov­er­eign Vice­roy and their asso­ci­ates. While they are keen to find out more about the K’si, their cul­ture and their tech­no­logy, they are very aware that their options for leav­ing the neb­ula are lim­ited and that the K’si, as a tech­no­lo­gic­ally-advanced nat­ive polity, could be a great help in this. At the same time, it seems that the K’si appear to be an author­it­ari­an empire mas­quer­ad­ing as gods to their subjects.

The key argu­ments in the dis­cus­sion regard how much they can afford to reveal to the Vice­roy in bal­an­cing their own safety against the Prime Dir­ect­ive. From his 22nd cen­tury view­point, Tim­mons argues for a level of decep­tion, to keep the K’si from threat­en­ing them, sug­gest­ing that they should claim to be ser­vants of the K’si’s own gods, but from else­where and with dif­fer­ent dir­ect­ives. He even pro­poses that they claim to have been sent by these gods. Hop­era points out that the nuances of an unknown reli­gious belief would make a subtle error very likely, lead­ing to cata­stroph­ic res­ults, and would prefer to tell a restric­ted ver­sion of the truth, that they’re simply look­ing for a way home. They are all agreed that they can­not afford to look too weak to their coun­ter­parts. Ulti­mately, it is agreed that they will try and com­pare their beliefs to those of the K’si and find the points of agreement.

The vis­it­ors arrive in a sol­id-look­ing shuttle­craft, land­ing on the hangar deck. The cap­tain ensures the crew is in full dress uni­form, so a wall of red jack­ets awaits them. The K’si appear to be basic­ally humanoid, but as their bod­ies, faces and clothes are col­oured in deep shades of black and dark grey, it is dif­fi­cult to make out details. They appear to move stiffly, but do not require any adjust­ment to the envir­on­ment­al con­di­tions. The two lead­ers exchange greet­ings and intro­duce their companions.

Doc­tor Vale steps for­ward to scan the K’si with her tri­cord­er, which they protest, but they desist when Tim­mons explains that this is to pre­vent con­tam­in­a­tion from poten­tially haz­ard­ous microbes. Vale finds that the K’si are sur­roun­ded with a cloud of exot­ic particles which inter­fere with the read­ings, but after some adjust­ments, gets some basic data. She is intrigued to note that they appear to be more closely related to plants than anim­als, with less dif­fer­en­ti­ated organs, and pos­sess­ing struc­tures resem­bling chloro­plasts. She the­or­ises these have the abil­ity to absorb an unknown energy through some­thing akin to pho­to­syn­thes­is. Real­ising they don’t eat food as such, she warns the cap­tain to can­cel the planned banquet.

The vis­it­ors are led through the ship to “The Round Table”, the ship’s main crew lounge, where the stew­ards have set up a recep­tion. The usu­al exchange of speeches takes place, and Cap­tain Mas­uda toasts to the peace­ful obser­va­tion of worlds, sup­port­ing all life and all ali­en civil­iz­a­tions, and respect of all spe­cies, basing this on the K’si’s Supreme Mandate.

Both sides are keen to know more about each oth­er. The K’si Tech­no­lo­gist, Til T’Gish, inter­rog­ates James and Valik about Star­fleet tech­no­logy, reveal­ing that their own tech­no­logy is based on the manip­u­la­tion of exot­ic particles, which Star­fleet still refers to as “dark mat­ter”. Jak D’Jak and their Primary, Zed M’Zed, dis­cuss polit­ics, reli­gion and philo­sophy with Mas­uda, Tim­mond, Vale and Hopera.

As ele­ments of the Prime Dir­ect­ive and the Supreme Man­date are com­pared, the dis­cus­sion becomes con­front­a­tion­al. The Vice­roy reveals that they have been mon­it­or­ing Lyo­n­esse’s recent activ­it­ies, includ­ing the events on Oreis­on, and asks how the per­pet­rat­or of such an event is pun­ished. James steps for­ward to admit respons­ib­il­ity, but explains that it was acci­dent­al. The K’si com­mand­er then won­ders how they can claim any ded­ic­a­tion to their Prime Dir­ect­ive, when their officers can con­tam­in­ate a prim­it­ive soci­ety and suf­fer no pen­alty. Declar­ing the Star­fleet crew to be hypo­crites, they inform the cap­tain that the K’si will not per­mit them to have any more con­tact with their subjects.

Jak D’Jak sig­nals their own ship, order­ing that pre­par­a­tions be made to “cleanse” the Oreis­on “con­tam­in­a­tion”. When Vale asks what this means, the Vice­roy explains that, regret­tably, the con­tam­in­a­tion must be excised from Oreis­on in order to pro­tect the popu­lace as a whole: Beseech­ing Glory will be des­troyed. Vale chal­lenges this, sug­gest­ing that the Vice­roy should be sure they are inter­pret­ing the Supreme Man­date from their gods cor­rectly, to which Jak D’Jak replies that the K’si are the gods. The K’si del­eg­a­tion then returns to their ship say­ing noth­ing further.

A call from the bridge alerts them that the K’si ves­sel has sent a sig­nal to Oreis­on via the sphere net­work, before depart­ing on that head­ing at warp 4. Long range sensors are already pick­ing up a power build-up on the sur­face of the plan­et. Hop­era cal­cu­lates that if the sphere in the temple in Beseech­ing Glory were to over­load, the res­ult­ing implo­sion will des­troy the city and a sig­ni­fic­ant por­tion of its surroundings.

Mas­uda orders the ship back to Oreis­on to try to help sur­viv­ors and ward off any fur­ther actions by the Light of Heav­en. James, wor­ried about Bene and her fam­ily, has already plot­ted a course, and, as they rap­idly over­take the K’si ves­sel, they detect an instabil­ity in the dark mat­ter sphere on BC-11d. Lock, mon­it­or­ing the situ­ation on Oreis­on, notes a major explo­sion in orbit above the plan­et and spec­u­lates that there’s a connection.

Lyo­n­esse arrives in the Oreis­on sys­tem an hour later, with the K’si a couple of hours behind them, and the crew try to fig­ure out what happened. It becomes clear that Beseech­ing Glory is intact, and that it was the orbit­al relay sphere con­nec­ted to the one in the city’s temple that over­loaded. It is ini­tially unclear as to why this happened, but then Lock spots traces of ener­gised plasma in the debris.

Lt Par­ish points out that the sensor sig­na­ture resembles those of Romu­lan weapons, and put­ting the data togeth­er, the cap­tain requests a scan for ion wakes with­in the sys­tem. Sure enough, they detect a fresh trace lead­ing into the out­er sys­tem, although there is no sign of any ves­sels. Kheled remem­bers the invis­ible object that nearly hit Lyo­n­esse as they first entered the neb­ula, and Vale recalls that they also found an ion wake near Ichtharys.

It appears there is a cloaked Romu­lan star­ship in the nebula…

The Arc: It seems that the K’si effect­ively set them­selves in oppos­i­tion to the Star­fleet crew’s efforts.

Obser­va­tions: The K’si appear to have more in com­mon with plants than anim­als, des­pite their humanoid appear­ance. Their organs are more dif­fuse, and although they have an ana­logue to lungs, they have no digest­ive sys­tem, appar­ently rely­ing on chloro­plast-like organs to derive energy from exot­ic radi­ation. Their visu­al range lies largely in the ultra-viol­et, and their col­our­ing is almost exclus­ively in shades of black and dark grey.

K’si tech­no­logy is gen­er­ally about a cen­tury behind that of Star­fleet, but they pos­sess advanced cap­ab­il­it­ies in the manip­u­la­tion and exploit­a­tion of uniden­ti­fied particles that Star­fleet sci­ence still calls “dark mat­ter”. These sys­tems allow them to travel at warp 4, manip­u­late grav­ity and arm their ships, as well as enable the com­mu­nic­a­tions net­work that con­nects their empire.

In com­mon with many Star­fleet cruis­ers, Lyo­n­esse pos­sesses a social area with a bar and seat­ing, named “The Round Table” by the crew. Its decor hearkens back to the high medi­ev­al era, with faux torches, wooden tables and “stone” walls, as well as fam­ous Arthur­i­an paint­ings on the walls.

Lieu­ten­ant Ed Par­ish was an armoury officer aboard S.S. Atlantis. Like Lt Tim­mons, he has under­gone basic train­ing and is now a pro­vi­sion­al tac­tic­al officer in the crew. His famili­ar­ity with Romu­lan weapons tech­no­logy dates from the Earth-Romu­lan War.

Dia­logue: Dr Vale: “Should you not pause and make sure you are cor­rectly inter­pret­ing the Man­date from your gods before tak­ing a drastic action such as killing the whole pop­u­la­tion of Beseech­ing Glory?”

Sov­er­eign Vice­roy Jak D’Jak replied dead­pan: “I don’t under­stand your point. We are the gods.”

Ref­er­ences: There have been a couple of clues that Romu­lans may be explor­ing the Black Cluster: sensors repor­ted a near col­li­sion with an oth­er­wise invis­ible object while Lyo­n­esse entered the neb­ula, and an arti­fi­cial ion wake was detec­ted near Ich­tharys, with sensors detect­ing tetry­on particles.

Ques­tions: What are the Romu­lans doing so far bey­ond the Neut­ral Zone?