Iotians were a humanoid race native to the planet Sigma Iotia II, also called Iotia, notable for their impressive ability to quickly learn and imitate, and especially for adopting a 1920s decade Chicago gangster culture.
The Iotians were a humanoid species, very similar to Humans, albeit with internal differences. They were highly intelligent and notable for their impressive ability to quickly learn and imitate, including languages. (TOS episode: "A Piece of the Action"; ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation; ENT novel: Kobayashi Maru)
The reasons for this imitative talent were disputed by Starfleet anthropologists. Some thought that it was the evolutionary result of Iotia's frequent disasters, while others looked at the quick spread of trends and theorized that the Iotian brain-eye systems processed "pack" information differently from a Human. Still more called the whole concept a myth, and nothing more than a result of severe culture shock after the clumsy first contact. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
The Iotians based almost all of their culture on the gangsters of Earth's Chicago in the 1920s, all based on "the Book", Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, left behind by the starship Horizon in the mid-22nd century. They adopted the clothes, weapons, architecture, and gangster activities and lifestyle. (TOS episode & novelization: A Piece of the Action)
For a time following the USS Enterprise's visit, many Iotians abandoned the mobster theme and instead donned Starfleet uniforms and built a mock Federation starbase. (ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation)
Iotian society was loosely unified under a number of oligarchies. Prior to the Horizon contamination, the Iotians of Ekal were divided into a number of rival clans, albeit in a complex and ever-changing system. Researchers from the USS Horizon found the closest parallel to Ekal's politics at the time in Earth's gang warfare. Afterwards, the clans became crime gangs. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
The Federation sent sociologists and cultural experts to undo the damage and helped the Iotians develop more ethical and democratic forms of government. (FASA RPG module: The Federation; SCE eBook: Fables of the Prime Directive)
The leader of an Iotian gang was called a "Boss". Ordinary Iotians paid their "percentages" to their local Boss, who was supposed to provide services and protection in exchange. (TOS episode & novelization: A Piece of the Action)
In Iotian society, there originally were no lawyers; however, Iotian bosses quickly tired of handling petty disputes, and therefore established their current legal system after consulting The Book. Lawyers on Iotia were then referred to as "mouthpieces" and were well paid for their efforts. (TOS - Strange New Worlds V short story: "Legal Action")
- The TOS episode: "A Piece of the Action" specified only that a ship named Horizon made contact with the Iotians. Later sources expanded on the incident, albeit with slightly different ships at different times and in different ways, such as Spaceflight Chronology with the Horizon-class USS Horizon on reference stardate 2102, The Star Trek Encyclopedia and the Decipher RPG with the Daedalus-class USS Horizon in 2168, while Star Trek Maps and The Worlds of the Federation also refer to a USS Horizon. More recently, the ENT novel: Kobayashi Maru specified that it was the cargo ship ECS Horizon in 2156. This is supported by a brief glimpse of a book named Chicago Gangs (not "Mobs"; the rest of the title is obscure) on the ECS Horizon in the ENT episode: "Horizon". For completeness, all three versions are presented.
In July 2155, the ECS Horizon visited Sigma Iotia II to make emergency repairs. Though the people of Iotia had just begun their industrial age, they were able to provide the Horizon crew with the metals and organic polymers they required, as well as provide some help. In exchange, Horizon crewmembers traded them vintage cultural items (which the Iotians were more interested in than technology): vinyl music records and a hand-cranked gramophone, movies recorded on celluloid tape and a projector, and a number of books, including Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, which a certain village elder was fascinated with. (ENT novel: Kobayashi Maru)
Prior to 2168, the people of the continent of Ekal had achieved their industrial revolution and commenced a conquest of the continents of Egaph and Uil, while only Landek made a successful resistance. However, the clans of Ekal then began warring amongst themselves over what they'd seized from Egaph and Uil. Eventually, the nations of all three continents fractured into a number of small, feuding states. Then the natives of Landek began readying for their own conquest of their divided neighbors. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
The Starfleet officers began first contact procedures. Captain Kinzie of the Horizon made a demonstration of superior firepower and forced the rival Iotian factions into a truce. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
Unfortunately, the Horizon left behind a copy of Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, which the contact team had used for its research. (ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation; Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
The Horizon-class USS Horizon visited Iotia while on its journey to the tip of the Orion Arm on reference stardate 2101 (c. 2176). Captain Stuart Mann met with Chief Administrator Byxmyx and noted the Iotian hospitality and efforts to reproduce such things as Earth's chairs and gardens. Byxmyx admired Earth and asked to borrow a number of books from Mann, who agreed, though he would be unable to return to collect them. (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology)
- Star Trek Maps states that the USS Horizon visited in 2167; however, its timeline is difficult to align to the standard version.
The Iotians, who felt that their society and culture was growing stagnant, quickly adopted "the Book" as something of a cultural bible, and reshaped their society to reflect the crime gang culture it portrayed. Its political system changed to one of gangs and crime-bosses. (ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation)
A burst of technological growth saw the development of automobiles, radio and projectile weapons. The planet even adopted English as its official language, including 1920s slang. (ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation)
With the advanced technology, Iotia was on the brink of a world war. Fortunately, their imitation of the Book provided a solution. On a major clan border in southern Ekal, they chose to build a common capital city: Chicago. Beginning in the early 22nd century, instead of a destructive major war, they fought their disputes here in ritualized combat fashioned after the conflicts of the original Chicago mobsters. With every major clan represented in Chicago, this had the surprising by-product of unifying the clans and continents, in one way or another. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
This arrangement lasted for around fifty years until the 2260s when Bela Okmyx, who controlled resources of northern Ekal, now called the Northside Territory, and Egaph, made a play for world domination. Jojo Krako of Landek and his allies in southern Ekal, the Southside Territory, fought Okmyx off. They were preparing for another confrontation in 2268 when the USS Enterprise visited Sigma Iotia II and discovered the contamination caused by the Horizon. Okmyx and Krako fought each other over the Enterprise away team and each pressured them to supply them with phasers in exchange for a cut. Captain James T. Kirk determined to correct the damage by making a demonstration of Federation strength to force a truce, in much the same way as Kinzie had a century previously. He convinced the planet's leaders that the Federation had claimed the world as their "turf". In this way, the planet was united under a single government, with Okmyx as boss and Krako as his second-in-command, and centered on Kirk and the Federation, or "the Feds". The Federation was to take a 40% cut of production. (TOS episode: "A Piece of the Action"; Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
The Transtator Revolution
Unfortunately, this time around, a Starfleet communicator was left behind by Doctor Leonard McCoy and caused fresh cultural and technological contamination. Iotian scientists pulled the communicator apart and discovered the transtator, a key component of Federation technology. This began the Transtator Revolution, when the Iotians made enormous developments in computers, encryption and global communications, though their materials science was not yet able to fully exploit the technology. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
By the time the next starship visited Iotia, the Iotians had re-invented themselves once again. Many Iotians had abandoned the mobster theme and instead built a mock Federation starbase and donned Starfleet uniforms and even used Starfleet communications frequencies. (ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation)
- The Worlds of the Federation suggests that all of Iotia switched to Starfleet imitation, though some subsequent depictions maintain the 1920s mobster theme. It is possible that both adopted cultures ran concurrently among different Iotians, or more likely that the Federation sociologists quickly put a stop to it.
Following Kirk's visit, the Federation Council resolved to devote significant resources to guiding Iotian society, including large teams of cultural experts. (SCE eBook: Fables of the Prime Directive)
Sometime after Kirk's visit, Lieutenant Michael Theivamanoharan studied the Iotians, while the Federation used their cut of Sigma Iotia's resources to encourage a more open and democratic society. One of these efforts involved a man named Kall Porakan, and used the example of Eliot Ness to create an honest law-enforcement agency. (SCE eBook: Fables of the Prime Directive)
Almost a 100 years later Iotians still adhere their cultural references to Starfleet standards of the time. Almost everone on the planet regulary wears an approximation of a 23rd century Starfleet Uniform.  Due to Starfleet's influence on their society Iotions of the time have a strong focus on education and diversity. 
When the USS Enterprise-E arrived at Sigma Iotia II on stardate 50812.8, they were surprised to realise that the Iotians build a complex resembling a 22nd century Starfleet starbase on the surface and where all wearing Starfleet uniforms. It turned out that Sonny, who was promised a piece of the action by James T. Kirk 100 years prior now with the rank of Admiral demanded to be payed back with control of the Enterprise-E. (ST comic: "A Piece of Reaction")
In 2269, Sigma Iotia II was a candidate for Federation membership, and entered in the Great Starship Race. (TOS novel: The Great Starship Race) In 2271 the Iotians sent delegates to the Federation Council. (TOS novel: The Lost Years)
Despite these gains, later Federation diplomats were unable to repeat Kirk's dominance in negotiations. They didn't collect the Federation's cut either, which had by now been reduced to 33%. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
Instead, the Iotians had been saving Kirk's cut for over twenty years. In 2287, Okmyx was one of the witnesses called by the prosecution during Kirk's trial of Prime Directive violations. During his testimony, Okmyx had Kirk's cut of the money brought into the court room in multiple briefcases. (TOS comic: "... Let's Kill All the Lawyers!")
Okmyx was succeeded as planetary boss by Ivor Nyris. Nyris kept the Northside Territory technologically advanced, and used the former "Fed cut" to fund space research. The Iotians possessed a primitive ion drive by 2311. As Romulans retreated in their area of space, the Iotians followed and scavenged Romulan wrecks, thus discovering the warp drive. Venturing into interstellar space, Iotians began exploring and exploiting other less-developed worlds. The Iotian Outfit became a small but ambitious new player in the interstellar underworld. Iotia once hosted an interstellar gang conference. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
By the mid-2360s, Iotia was still a Federation Protectorate, though it remained an independent or neutral world, and was still rated as E+ on the Richter Scale of Culture. It was not quarantined, but all visitors were first cleared to enter in a recently constructed orbital customs facility. (ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation)
- Different sources have given different statuses for Iotia within the Federation at different times, as seen above. Several sources have membership gained in the late 23rd century. Star Trek Maps has it as a Federation Protectorate c. 2270, but The Worlds of the Federation repeats this for its era of the mid-2360s, and makes it also a neutral/independent world. Fables of the Prime Directive has it gain membership at the same time. Taking all together, it appears that Iotia went from associate to full membership in the 2360s, presumably shedding its Protectorate status at the same time. However, by omission, Worlds implies that Iotia is an independent world, possibly controlled by the Iotian Outfit.
|This article or subsection has an associated category.||Iotians|
References and notes
- The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, Chapter 5:
[…] I sat at a bar on Sigma Iotia II. […] The bar was called The Feds, and the woman, as well as everyone else in the place, was in a 23rd-century Starfleet uniform, or a close approximation of one. In fact, just about everyone on the planet was dressed that way. And none of them were actually in Starfleet.
- The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, Chapter 5:
“So instead of pretending they’re El Cabone…”
“Al Cabone, instead everyone pretends they’re in Starfleet,” Crusher said. “That’s better?”
“It is,” I said. “Much better. They used to kill each other every day; now their focus is on education, diversity, and a brighter future. That’s what a captain’s supposed to do, fix things…”