The Ba'ku are a people filled with contradictions. Their home world is unknown, but is believed to be located beyond Federation space. Some three hundred years and fifty years ago the Ba'ku had entered a period of rapidly escalating and uncontrolled technological advancement, to the point where they were on the verge of destroying themselves. A group of Ba'ku left their world to begin again, fearing a catastrophe. Determined not to repeat the mistakes the rest of their people had made, the Ba'ku adopted a philosophy of near total avoidance of high technology. The Ba'ku claimed that when a machine was built to do the work of a person, it took away an essential quality of that person.
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For two hundred years the Ba'ku society continued in a pre industrial state; however, in the 2270's a group of young Ba'ku attempted to seize control of the settlement. They planned to abandon the policy on non reliance on technology and become a star faring species once again, but their attempt quickly failed and the group were exiled from the planet in a spacecraft constructed specifically for this purpose.
Renaming themselves the Son'a, the exiled Ba'ku spent almost fifty years building a technologically based culture on a world beyond Federation borders. In the 2320's they conquered two other species and integrated them into their society as a labour class in order to provide themselves with the manpower base needed to turn them into a major power. By the 2370's the Ba'ku were maintaining a fleet of some two hundred warships. Their reputation in galactic affairs was not a good one - in part due to their subjugation of other species, but also because they were widely rumoured to employ subspace weaponry on their warships. For many years the Federation declined to establish diplomatic relations with the Son'a, but after the beginning of the Dominion war it was learned that the Son'a were able to reproduce Ketracel White in large quantities. The Federation immediately moved to isolate the Son'a from the Dominion and establish an alliance with them, a move the Son'a welcomed with open arms.
However, the Son'a had one major problem; without the unique environment of the Ba'ku planet, the original generation of Son'a were reaching the end of their natural lives. Used to immortality, their leaders became obsessed with regaining the youth they had lost. Unable to challenge the Federation directly, the Son'a siezed on the opportunity presented by the offer of an alliance. When they learned that Starfleet had already discovered the Ba'ku settlement and learned of the immortality enjoyed by the natives, the Son'a came to the Federation offering an explanation for the Ba'ku puzzle; high concentrations of metaphasic radiation particles in the planets rings was continually regenerating the genetic structure of the life on the planet. Concealing their Ba'ku heritage, the Son'a offered a method of collecting this radiation via a large orbital vessel they had constructed. The potential was awesome; a whole new medical science would be created, with sufficient radiation present in the rings to treat billions of individuals. However, the collection method involved initiating an isothermic reaction within the rings which would destroy all life on the surface of the planet.
Naturally, the Federation refused this offer as it would contravene the Prime Directive. However, it was agreed to establish a duck blind facility on the surface and conduct covert surveillance of the Ba'ku in an attempt to investigate the planets environment more thoroughly. During this research it became apparent to the Federation that the Ba'ku were not in fact a primitive people; they possessed technological knowledge up to and including warp drive. With Prime Directive considerations considerably eased by the Ba'ku's new status, the Federation decided to proceed with the Son'a plan. The whole Ba'ku population was limited to six hundred people, all living in one small area. The Federation constructed a replica of their village and the surrounding countryside on a suitably similar planet, and a vessel was built which was capable of transplanting the Ba'ku without their knowledge. However, shortly prior to the implementation of the plan Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E discovered the operation and made it public, including the fact that the Son'a and Ba'ku were one and the same people.1
The Federation halted the entire project while a reappraisal was initiated.
After the failure of the project to relocate the Ba'ku, some of the Son'a decided to return to their people. Others have continued to operate independently. The Federation council is continuing its deliberations on the matter.