While the Valley Forge prepares for the Kratt's next move, the Aethon conducts a stealth mission behind enemy lines to find a way to stop the attack before it begins...
NPC@annpc#557 | LAST TIME ON STAR TREK: SHADOW OF DEATH... NPC@annpc#557 | Hades: â€œThere is a device created by the Progenitors to give orders to the Kratt. When they cut the Kratt loose, the device was given to them with the order to guard it until the last Kratt - NPC@annpc#557 - fell." NPC@annpc#557:| Sin: "Sounds like someone has got their hands on this thing then" NPC@annpc#557:| Hades: â€œThe original Hades managed to access the control device with the invisibility helm among the artifacts you are returning now. It would require a similar tool to do so.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Vusal: "The planet possesses a defense grid, but its stealth detection system should not be capable of penetrating our cloak." NPC@annpc#557:| Veladria: "I think I found it! There's a submerged Progenitor ship under one of the planet's oceans. It's still being powered and giving off unusual subspace signals.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Vusal raises a brow, "Curious. The power levels of the defense grid are fluctuating, as if they are rebalancing power levels." NPC@annpc#557:| Veladria: "Antiproton wave, incoming!" NPC@annpc#557:| The viewscreen flickers out, then back in again, this time, with the shadowy silhouette of a ship visible on it... NPC@annpc#557:| Voice: "Ensign Emma Ralde. Service number ER-357-4832 HDR. You will deliver a message to the Coalition." NPC@annpc#557:| Voice: "Cease your resettlement efforts. We have attempted to dissuade you peacefully. Should you persist, you shall face consequences far beyond the Kratt. This is only the beginning." NPC@annpc#557:| Emma: "The beginning? The beginning of what?! Who the hell are you to dictate this like you own the galaxy!" NPC@annpc#557:| Voice: "We have directed the course of this galaxy for longer than you know. Your history is a product of our plans. Your victories were our victories. Your defeats, necessary sacrifices." NPC@annpc#557:| Voice: â€œThis is our warning. Comply with our demands, or this will occur again." NPC@annpc#557:FX | The viewscreen glows a multitude of colours as a strange beam connects from the shadow ship to the Aethon. The camera cuts to the exterior of the two ships, and the Aethon explodes in a flash NPC@annpc#557 | AND NOW THE CONCLUSION... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma stands on the Aethon's bridge as the multitude of colours blinds the viewscreen. Around her, she sees several copies of Aethon bridge crew, including herself, moving across - NPC@annpc#557 - the bridge and going about their business. Then, the walls begin to warp, some parts seeming to crumple or melt naturally, while others swirl and contort in manners that are clearly not - NPC@annpc#557 - normal signs of damage. Before she has a chance to do anything, her vision is flooded by a flash of white light, then fades to darkness NPC@annpc#557 | The sound of a PADD alarm pierces through the darkness, dragging Emma out from the depths of sleep... Emma Ralde@crystyl sits bolt upright, easily disturbed by the sound and looking around confused and disorientated NPC@annpc#557 | She sees Rianni stirring beside her, turning off the PADD alarm before groggily turning to Emma with a look of concern at her bolting upright. NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni: "Emma? Is everything alright?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Not even a little bit. Get dressed, we need to figure this out and fast" Emma Ralde@crystyl stands and starts getting dressed herself this time NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni looks to the PADD, then back to Emma with confusion, "What's happening? The staff meeting's not for another hour..." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"No, this... this isn't right!" she hustles back over to Rianni and hugs her tightly, "It wasn't your fault. There's nothing you could have done!" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni looks even more confused at the sudden hug, "Umm...what did I do?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Nothing, and there's nothing you could have done. So don't ever doubt yourself ok" she says super-serious like, holding a hand to Rianni's cheek NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni: "Okay...Emma, what's happening?" Emma Ralde@crystyl leans back on her heels, taking a deep breath, "I'm still not quite sure... but- but we... died..." NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni moves her hands and fingers a bit, "I don't feel dead. Is this another one of Q's tricks?" Emma Ralde@crystyl shakes her head, "No it wasn't Q. It was when we got to the Kratt planet" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni: "We're expected to arrive there later today," she narrows her eyes. "Did you travel back from the future?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I... don't know. Maybe? There was a ship there waiting for us under cloak. Um... oh! Remember the reports from what happened with the Challenger back at the Heart?" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni nods, "The protomatter torpedo setup? I heard all about it from Pia when we talked over the comms too." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well this ship, it seemed kind of like the one that was reported fleeing there. They hit us with, um, a chroniton wave or something I think. But that was after they hailed us, and they addressed me- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- by name. They warned me not to interfere again. Whoever they were, they clearly knew us, and knew exactly what we were doing and when. Maybe... maybe they knew me too! And somehow, whatever they - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- did sent me back in my own timeline or something?" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni: "So you remember the whole day happening, up to where...where we all died?" Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Yes. Right from when your alarm went off just now. Though last time was much more enjoyable" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni: "And last time you didn't know what was going to happen, right?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"No I had no idea! It was all perfectly normal. We had the meeting, formed a plan, arrived at the planet. All good up to that point" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni: "Then that ship showed up?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"The Kratt's defense grid activated and hit us from nowhere with an AP wave. We couldn't turn away fast enough so they exposed us. Then they swarmed, but didn't attack - they herded us towards where- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- I guess they knew that ship was waiting. Then it appeared and tractored us, but it almost instantly drained all of our power before we could even react! After that, they hailed and gave their - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- warning" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni: "What happened after that?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"They fired on us with that chroniton beam thing, everyone got colourful and blurry..." she frowns, rubbing her head, "... then a white flash... then... your alarm clock" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni nods, "If you know what's going to happen already, then we should be able to prevent it. We can avoid the AP wave and not be spotted by that ship." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Maybe, I don't know if it's that simple though. We need to get our heads together with the whole team and figure something out. I doubt very much it was simply a matter of knowing when to activate - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- the wave. I'd bet that ship was able to detect us!" NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni stands, "Let's get to the meeting. Just...give me a minute to get dressed." Emma Ralde@crystyl stands as well, finishing with her own uniform, "I'll call the meeting ahead" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Once again, the Aethon's senior and bridge crew gather in the mess hall NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila is one of the first to arrive, taking a seat by the table, "You called the meeting early, Emma?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes, and I apologize for the disruption but the situation has grown more severe" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila smiles, "It's alright, I'm an early morning person anyways. What happened? I didn't receive any updates- I checked with the bridge shift on my way here and they reported that we're - NPC@annpc#557 - still on course as expected." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes, I'm afraid it's a... little more complicated" NPC@annpc#557 | More crew quickly begin arriving and sitting around the table. Veladria sits down beside Emma, giving her a concerned look as well, "You look worried." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I am. It's been a long day..." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "The day's just started..." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal raises a brow, "You were not on the night shift." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Your day has just started, but - and this will sound a little odd - this is now my second time around for it" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Second time around? What do you mean?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I mean that I've already lived through today once, right up to the bitter end. And then it was reset back to the start. Only this time with a warning from those responsible" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "You are saying we may be in a temporal loop?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Of sorts, but this is no natural phenomena. We were attacked by the ones controlling the Kratt - hit us with a chroniton beam of some sort" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "So we found the ones responsible for the Kratt's aggression, and then they...reset us?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I don't know if it was a weapon designed to reset us, I think it was just meant to destroy us. But since when they hailed to give their warnings they addressed them to me personally, I'd guess that- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- they know about me and had some insight that led them to believe my... condition would result in this resetting maybe, I don't really know though" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "And you mentioned a warning?" Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "They told me to deliver a warning to the Coalition to cease resettlement efforts. They said that they had tried to dissuade us peacefully but if we persist, then we'll face consequences far - Emma Ralde@crystyl - worse than the Kratt - 'this is only the beginning' - was what they said before bleating on about having controlled galactic events for a very long time, implying well beyond even my lifetime. - Emma Ralde@crystyl - making bold claims about being responsible for all our historical victories and defeats, and that their intentions were 'beyond our comprehension'" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "What is the logic in resetting us if they simply wished us to deliver a warning back to the Coalition? They could simply have let us go, or if they thought we were likely to try - NPC@annpc#557 - something, disable us and tow us out of Kratt territory." NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Maybe it was part of the warning. To show us what they're capable of if we don't do as they demand." Emma Ralde@crystyl: "They did say that if we persist that 'this will happen again', meaning hitting us with that weapon of theirs. That's why I think they knew somehow that it would affect me differently. I don't think- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- they sat there waiting for us. I think they were there to control the Kratt and simply reacted to our presence, knowing that when I'm 'reset' by the weapon, I will have memory but nobody - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- else - even they - will. Hence the 'this will happen again' part" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni reaches over and brushes Emma's hair behind her ear, studying it closely Emma Ralde@crystyl knows her game and smiles faintly at last today, "And no, they have not suddenly grown pointy" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria chuckles, "That makes sense. So they gave you this warning specifically because they knew you would remember." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That's my guess anyway. I mean, if they /wanted/ to warn the Coalition away, then why not when they got revealed at the Heart instead of attacking everyone in sight?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "They must expect us to go back to the Valley Forge and pass on the warning, now that we know what will happen to us if we attempt to reset the Kratt control device." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni: "I'd say 'hope' would be more accurate. They hope we will take it as a sufficiently ominous warning and do what they want. Which just makes me want to find a way to oppose their will even- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- more" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, "But we need to do that without the same thing as last time happening. We can't be sure that they'll keep resetting us. They might lose their patience and just destroy us, so we - NPC@annpc#557 - don't have the luxury of presuming this is a temporal loop we can just repeat until we find a solution." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni: "Unless Emma's theory is right and they are reset like the rest of us, so they don't know they've been through it before. But it's a valid point, and I don't want to see any of us go - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- through this again" she gives Emma a sympathetic smile Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Well, last time we relied on our standard stealth systems because they were sufficient against the Kratt. A theory was discussed about using the helm to effectively hide the ship, but we - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- never pursued it" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "I was going to talk about that, but something tells me you've already heard what I have to say. Well, Emma has at least." Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "Yes, quite" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "We can put Kelly's theories to the test and hook up the helm to the Aethon. That should give us as close to a perfect cloak as possible. But if we do that, then we won't be able to - NPC@annpc#557 - get someone undetected onto the surface of the Kratt homeworld." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That might not help anyway" she looks to Rianni, having apparently discussed more than we saw earlier... Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni nods, "Apparently, the control device is within a Progenitor ship sat on the bottom of an ocean" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Could we deal with the ship that can detect and reset us first, disconnect the helm and come back with regular cloak to go for the control device?" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "If this is the same type of ship as the one that was uncovered in the Sphere, I do not think we will simply be able to 'deal with it.'" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni: "Agreed. Even if not the exact same ship, it is fair to assume they possess similar capabilities. And that one took out several Starfleet and Nuhar all at once" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods as well, "The helm may offer us a method of concealing ourselves from them, but we will need more of a plan of action. From the reports, these vessels utilize a form of - NPC@annpc#557 - phase-cloaking with temporal properties." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni: "I have been thinking on this, and have an idea - subject to the Aethon being up to it of course" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "What're you thinking?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni: "Assuming for now that the helm works and we can indeed get the Aethon past this mystery ship. We fly down into the ocean and land on the Progenitor ship. So far beneath the surface, and - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- on top of a prominent energy source, we should be sufficiently masked. From there, Sin can use the upgraded suit to walk across to the Progenitor ship and commandeer the device" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "That could be enough to conceal us from the mystery ship, but the Kratt are bound to have guards in the ship. They are amphibious." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni: "That is why Sin will go alone. Apparently that's what we determined for the original plan too. Once the Aethon is grounded beneath the ocean, she can take the helm and use it to bypass - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- the Kratt" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, "An excellent plan, Captain. We should be able to reactivate our normal cloak to conceal ourselves once we are underwater." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni looks back hopefully, "So do we think the Aethon can take it?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, "The Aethon was constructed for stealth, including stealth insertion into a variety of environments. It will be capable of submerging. Even if there is a significant gap between - NPC@annpc#557 - disconnecting the helm and activating our regular cloak, the Aethon's low sensor profile combined with the nearby prominent energy source should conceal us from scans." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni smiles, "Excellent! Then we should make haste with preparations to ensure the helm theory actually pans out" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani nods, "I'll get to work on it right away. We might need to slow our course- it'll need more time to wire the helm in and test it than it will to reach the Kratt homeworld." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Rianni: "Whatever it takes" she nods NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "This definitely isn't a situation we want to rush into. Especially knowing what happened last time." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Definitely. Let's make sure we don't start another day like this" --- NPC@annpc#557 | A few hours later, Rianni ventures down to Aethon's main engineering to check the progress on the helm. She enters to find the helm placed in the centre of a new pedestal that has been built - NPC@annpc#557 - in the centre of the room. Several console interfaces are constructed into it and the setup is still quite rough, with exposed wiring running from the pedestal to other parts of the room NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani is at work nearby along with several other crewmen and junior officers Rianni@crystyl wanders over, "How's it going in here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani looks up from the wire she is connecting, "Oh, hey Captain. It's, well...we're doing everything according to Kelly's instructions, but even she didn't know how the helm really worked. - NPC@annpc#557 - She just remembered how Hades had it wired up to the thunderbolt and devised a method to replicate exactly that setup with our technology and a warp core." NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani stands, "So in short everything's going well so far, but I have no idea if it'll work or not." Rianni@crystyl:"Does it still need a psionic to use it like this or does the console take the user's place?" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "The console handles it now. In Hades' collection, it was just always on; as long as the power flowed, it was active and there was no one psionic left there since the real Hades is - NPC@annpc#557 - gone. We should be able to do something similar, except we've built in measures to cut off the flow of power from the core to the helm, which will effectively act as an on-off switch." NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani chuckles, "That's effectively the only part I /do/ understand. I might know my cloaks, but this helm is something else. It's like asking a steamship engineer to explain a warp core." Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "I'm afraid I know more about using cloaks than the actually mechanics behind them, but it sounds to me like you're doing great with it! Will we be able to test it before we need it at all?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "We should, but we're taking a while getting everything just set up. We might need a slight detour- park somewhere quiet where we don't run the risk of being spotted by passing Kratt - NPC@annpc#557 - and making sure it works before we head right for the Kratt homeworld. It'll take longer than we expected to get there, but messing up won't help the people dealing with the Kratt out there - NPC@annpc#557 - either." Rianni@crystyl:"Agreed. I'll make sure we find somewhere suitable for field testing" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani smiles, "Thanks, Captain. We've only tested the helm's use with people- we'll want to see how it behaves with a ship before we use it. Especially since we'll be taking the ship into - NPC@annpc#557 - atmosphere and underwater." Rianni@crystyl:"I appreciate the consistency and all, but you know you really don't have to call me Captain. That rule about CO's only really applies on the bridge I think, and even then I don't exactly hold to it" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Really? I've only joined up with Starfleet recently and unlike Veladria or Lennie I never went through your Academy. The only COs I've worked under is Keelah and you, and Keelah's a - NPC@annpc#557 - Captain in both rank and position, so that's easy," she smirks Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Yeah, it's a lot simpler when the person is /actually/ a Captain. But I think it's just to keep things clear when on the bridge. Because - you know - someone shouting out urgent reports - Rianni@crystyl:- to 'Lieutenant' could easily be missed. It's not a big deal either way, but I certainly don't expect it of anyone so don't feel obliged or anything" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani nods, "Got it. Lieutenant," she smiles back. "Must be strange getting called Captain when you're here, but Lieutenant again back on the Valley Forge, right?" Rianni@crystyl:"No kidding, and I'm still getting used to that!" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani chuckles, "I'll try to remember not to call you Captain when we're not on the bridge." Rianni@crystyl:"If it suits for you of course! Anyway, I should probably let you get back to your work before I dig myself any deeper into this hole..." she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani nods, "Oh, and Veladria wanted to see you about something. It's not urgent, so she didn't call you, but she wanted me to mention it if you came down here to check on the helm." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Thanks Suhani, I'll be sure to check in with her then!". she waves, heading back out --- NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni finds Veladria at work on a console in a nearby engineering area, the Orion standing out with being the only one in an OSN uniform Rianni@crystyl heads over with a wave, "Hello Veladria. Suhani said you were looking for me?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria looks up from her console with a smile, "Hello Rianni. Yes, I believe I have a way to penetrate our mystery ship's cloaking system. It's not as easy to utilize as tachyon or - NPC@annpc#557 - antiproton scanning, but I don't think any of these methods can reliably detect that ship." Rianni@crystyl:"That would certainly give us an edge if things don't play out as we hope. So what's your theory?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "I've been looking through the scan data from the Heart of Unity, and I believe an unstable warp bubble aimed specifically at the ship will distort subspace and force them back into - NPC@annpc#557 - regular space-time. The problem is, we can't sweep a general region with it like with tachyons or antiprotons. We'll have to already know what they are. So I suppose it's not as much of a - NPC@annpc#557 - counter against their cloak as it is against their temporal and phase shifting." Rianni@crystyl:"Interesting, but it could still be an edge. If there's a chance that their stealth system works anything like a normal cloak then they could be left vulnerable for a brief period between losing - Rianni@crystyl:- their cloak and raising their defenses. Maybe not enough to capitalize on, but it's something!" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria smiles, "Precisely what I was thinking. Right now we have no way to hit them even if we do see them, as the Coalition learned from the encounter in the Heart. This at least gives us a - NPC@annpc#557 - chance to fight back. I don't suppose Emma remembers any technical details about the chroniton beam they used?" Rianni@crystyl shakes her head, "Sadly not" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "I thought as much. There could be a means of defending against it, maybe with technology like temporal shielding, but I'll need specs on the beam to be sure, and someone who's more - NPC@annpc#557 - familiar with technology like that. I don't think we have any temporal experts here on the Aethon, unfortunately." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "And there's the question of whether we even want to defend against it. If they fail to reset us, they might do something worse." Rianni@crystyl:"Yes, I've been going back over the reports from the Challenger incident and for all the will in the world I would not want to go toe-to-toe with that ship right now. They are just such an unknown - Rianni@crystyl:- and seem to have a perfect weapon to completely nullify any of our known defenses" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, "I'm not a tactical expert like you, but it doesn't take one to know we're outmatched against a ship like that. I'm not even sure if a whole Coalition fleet can take down such a - NPC@annpc#557 - ship." Rianni@crystyl:"I'm sure they're not invincible. It's just that they are using technology that is beyond us right now. Emma mentioned about them using this tractor beam that rapidly drained power, any thoughts on - Rianni@crystyl:- a counter to such a system in theory?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "I'm not an expert with tractor beams, but it sounds like if we can avoid them getting a tractor lock, we might be able to evade the drain as well. The best way to do that is just - NPC@annpc#557 - not to be detected. The Aethon is designed to be fast and low profile. I'm told it's difficult to get a solid weapons lock on us, so if they still managed it, I don't know what else there is - NPC@annpc#557 - we could do except have a finger above polarize hull plating all the time and hit it as soon as they get a lock." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Though..." Rianni@crystyl:"Though...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "A tractor drain sounds a lot like Borg tractor beams. If we could contact the friendly Borg out here, they might be able to come up with a countermeasure." Rianni@crystyl:"I've no idea if they are in range, but it's worth investigating! I'll ask Emma to see if she can track them down while we test the helm" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, "We might not be able to get into contact with them right now, but I think it's worth pursuing. This isn't the first time the Coalition has run into one of those ships, and I - NPC@annpc#557 - doubt it's going to be the last. Even if it's not ready for our mission right now, someone might need that countermeasure in the future." Rianni@crystyl:"Good call! Keep them coming!" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria smiles, "I'll let you know if I have any other ideas. In the meantime I'll work on some simulations for the unstable warp bubble, optimize it as much as I can. It's not great for - NPC@annpc#557 - subspace; we won't cause the effects of omega detonation with just a few of them, but it'll still have some negative side effects that could stack with other sources of pollution." Rianni@crystyl:"Well if all goes according to plan, we won't even need to consider it. Don't worry, I'll consider it a purely desperate last resort" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, "Sounds good to me. It's nice to have some countermeasures at hand, though." Rianni@crystyl:"Always! If I can do anything to help let me know, otherwise I should go and get that comm out to the Borg. Now there's something I never pictured saying through all the years of training..." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria chuckles, "Good luck!" --- Human NPC@annpc#557 | As the Aethon detours to work on tying Hades' helm to the ship, the Valley Forge continues towards the Widhar System. Keelah is called to the bridge as they near their destination Keelah@crystyl steps out, "Report" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "ETA to the Widhar System's six minutes, Cap'n." Keelah@crystyl:"What is the latest update on the Kratt?" Human NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Still at the colony, but they've completely finished terraforming." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "They've also started t'nest it seems too. Some structures goin' up, an' they'se plantin' eggs or somethin'" Keelah@crystyl glances back, "They do work fast it seems" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie nods Human NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "Coalition ships are coming up on sensors. Looks like we've amassed a larger evacuation group for Widhar than the Corporate colony." Keelah@crystyl:"Reassuring at least" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "I'm seeing a Starfleet IFF in there as well. USS Midway, Sovereign-class." Keelah@crystyl hrms, "Midway... not one I'm familiar with, but a Sovereign is nothing to be sniffed at should this come to a confrontation" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "Exactly. If it's just the force we faced at the Corporate colony, we might be able to hold them back. It would be a shame to lose a planet with so much history like Widhar." Keelah@crystyl:"We'll do all we can to make sure that doesn't come to pass" Human NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Speaking of the Midway, they're hailing us now." Keelah@crystyl:"Perfect timing, put them on screen" Human NPC@annpc#557 | A Tellarite in a captain's uniform appears on the viewscreen, "Valley Forge! Welcome to Widhar! We've heard much about you. I'm Captain Favren glasch Pall of the Midway." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "A pleasure to meet you Captain, I am Captain Se'Lai" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "We've only just got here too, but I've already spoken to the Widhar. Got a dock all set aside for the ship you're bringing. Not sure how long it'll get in there, though. Reports seem to - Human NPC@annpc#557 - indicate the Kratt's about done with the first few worlds they've already taken." Keelah@crystyl glances to her side, "Tee, relay the details to Kelly. She'll be keen to maximize her time in there" looking back, "Thank you Captain, since you already have contact established we will follow your- Keelah@crystyl:- lead here" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Sounds good. Until the Kratt make their next move and confirm they're a threat to Widhar, we're treating this as a first contact situation, since Starfleet's never made contact with the - Human NPC@annpc#557 - Widhari before. Everything's going smoothly. The Widhari are a little shy, but very friendly. They offered a number of their engineers to help with your repairs, and I didn't even have to - Human NPC@annpc#557 - negotiate for it!" Keelah@crystyl:"I look forward to meeting them for myself then. What are the current thoughts regarding evacuation plans?" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "We've hired a good deal of freighters and scavengers in the area. Some are here already, some still on the way. Between them, the Widhari's own ships and the less combat capable - Human NPC@annpc#557 - Coalition vessels like the old Defiant, we should be able to fit the whole population of the planet. Might be a couple of extras we'll have to squeeze in but for the most part we should - Human NPC@annpc#557 - manage a defense line of ships free of civilians, unlike the last encounter." Keelah@crystyl:"That would certainly lessen the burden" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "What I'm worried about is the mental toll on the Widhari. They're cooperating with the evacuation and there hasn't been any incidents so far, but they're not the most outgoing of - Human NPC@annpc#557:- people. Certainly not compared to my own! If it turns out they've got to leave their homeworld to the Kratt and go settle elsewhere, it's gonna be hard on them." Keelah@crystyl:"One problem at a time. I think we've got enough to contend with for now simply in keeping them alive and safe" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Aye. We'll deal with resettlement if and when that comes up. Hopefully it won't. A few of my officers are on the surface studying the Nuhar ruins there too, just in case this is the - Human NPC@annpc#557:- last chance we get. The Widhari themselves got them all thoroughly mapped out, but it's interesting to see how they've built their own cities inside and around these ruins." Keelah@crystyl:"Does the evacuation fleet have any of the Nuhar support drones here?" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall nods, "Got several Constructs here helping in the defense. They don't wanna lose this planet." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course. If they are carrying the usual complement of smaller support drones, it might be worth despatching them to the surface as they can likely read more context into those ruins than anyone - Keelah@crystyl:- else - not to mention scanning them a lot more thoroughly. We have a contingent here, and on the ship now docking. They could be deployed to assist as well" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Good call! Wouldn't be surprised if some of these Constructs even remember what these ruins were like before they were ruins! My scientists and engineers could use the insight. Speaking - Human NPC@annpc#557 - of which, you need any help with the Defiant or got it handled? I know there's a few engineers on the Midway who'd love to work on an old Constitution-class, even if it's not exactly the same - Human NPC@annpc#557 - as the ones we had. Maybe even /especially/ cause they've got Coalition tech in there." Keelah@crystyl:"By all means, the more hands we get working on it the better shape it will be in to assist with the evacuation. My XO - CMDR Keliaya - is in acting command there and coordinating the repairs, they - Keelah@crystyl:- can report to her" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall nods, "I'll have my Chief Engineer get in touch with her. The Nuhar are managing the battle line, I'm sending you the formation but if you got any changes or suggestions, you wanna - Human NPC@annpc#557 - contact the Constructs. Think that's about it, unless there's something else?" Keelah@crystyl:"No, I think that covers all our bases for the moment" Human NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "I'll let you get settled in, then." He nods a farewell before ending the call Keelah@crystyl:"Let's run a tactical assessment and establish contact with the Nuhar" --- NPC@annpc#557 | As Emma does her ops work on the bridge, the door slides open and Jatila steps out, looking around NPC@annpc#557 | She makes her way over to Emma after a moment, "Hello Ensign." Emma Ralde@crystyl turns from her console, "Oh hi Jatila! Everything ok?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila nods, "From what I can tell. Everyone's focused on the preparations for heading to the Kratt homeworld. Including you, it seems," she smiles Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I'm sure it's a familiar setting by now; a crew full of resolve to face down the impossible and do what they have to" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila smiles, "Familiar to us both, I imagine." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"All too much so" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "I wanted to check up on you. The rest of us here don't want that ship to catch us unaware again, of course, but you're the only one who actually remembers what it was like last time. - NPC@annpc#557 - I'm sure you've seen many strange and sometimes terrifying things, people usually do in one lifetime of service with Starfleet, let alone several. But this is fresh still and I thought I'd see - NPC@annpc#557 - how you're doing." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I appreciate the concern, but honestly I'm not phased by it. It was more creepy than anything, the actual experience was just sort of... wibbly" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "Creepy, as in encountering the mysterious ship?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"As in the way they tried to get in my head and intimidate me into delivering their message. Honestly, you'd think they'd dealt with us enough by now to realize that any such action is just - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- going to make us more determined to oppose them" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila nods, "I suppose that's why they tried the sabotage with the protomatter torpedo setup first. They may be getting desperate after that plan was unveiled." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"A desperate enemy is a dangerous thing" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "We have to make sure they don't see us this time. If they do, they may not give us the benefit of another reset. You said they didn't tell you anything about what they wanted?" Emma Ralde@crystyl shakes her head, "Just for us to stay out of their way and stop resettling Horde space" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "I wonder why...they can't possibly be planning to settle this entire region for themselves. Horde space was massive. Even if they wanted to settle without the Coalition's consent, - NPC@annpc#557 - they have plenty of room to do that and we might not even know better for years." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Plus the way they went on about having steered galactic events for - who knows - how long. It's almost like... they're not so much trying to keep us from Horde space, but rather keep us in our - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- area of operations" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila nods, "That's certainly a possibility. Well whatever it is, we can't let them get away with it." Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "Glad to see you sharing in that infectious resolve!" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila smiles back, "I'm a Starfleet officer as well, you know. Even if I don't usually play much of a role in coordinating missions." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well this crew might be full of resolve, but they are also largely inexperienced - especially the junior Starfleet guys who were here with us before. Sure, they've seen a lot by now but this is - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- still going to be scary for them. They need you right now, even if they don't know it themselves" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "I'll make sure they have all the support they need. How is Rianni dealing with this? You've...probably been through something like a time loop before, if not multiple. But Rianni - NPC@annpc#557 - never gets the easy missions, does she..." Emma Ralde@crystyl chuckles, "She does tend to attract the absurd. Wait, no that's not a good commentary on me..." NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila chuckles as well, "Not /just/ the absurd, Emma. But I suppose with her history, this isn't the most unusual situation she's had to deal with either, is it?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Her whole life is unusual. It's actually kind of weird to think how the universe can tend to single out an individual like that. She keeps taking it in her stride like I'm sure all the great - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- leaders did before their rise to fame, but of course I still worry for her" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila nods, "That's why I wanted to ask about her. She certainly seems to be taking it in stride for now, and I suppose it's less of a shock since she doesn't remember the last time. Like all - NPC@annpc#557 - of us, this hasn't happened yet and we're just looking to prevent it." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I know that as long as she is able to keep up this pace of constantly facing new challenges and fighting to prove herself, to herself, then I think she'll do just fine. But one day she's going to - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- have to slow down and face everything, let the universe catch back up to her. That's the day I worry for" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "Have you given any thought on how to help her when that day comes? She might not even be serving here anymore, and I might no longer be her counselor, but hopefully she'll still have - NPC@annpc#557 - you by her side." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I guarantee you that she will. As to how we face that, it will be... interesting. But it's not an uncommon thing for people like her. I'm sure you've seen it, just like everyone else who followed - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- her here has. Despite everything, she has that aura about her that draws people to follow her like moths to a flame. A common trait shared by those whose names history refuses to forget. I know we- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- all have a bit of it in us, but people like her are like supernovas next to us dim candles. Such lights burn very bright, but never for as long" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "Indeed. And looking at similar people in history, they've all faced significant periods of difficulty in their lives, usually after their participation in the events they're most - NPC@annpc#557 - well-known for. Like James Kirk during his admiralty, or Picard after the attempted Romulan evacuation." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Yes exactly. Rianni is fated to face such a crisis no single person should ever have to face, I feel it when I look in her eyes. but I'll be damned if anyone else is going to be there for her - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- there for her when that day comes, however long it takes" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila smiles, "She's lucky to have you along to help her. What about yourself, your life sounds almost like the opposite from what I know. You've been around for a very long time, but largely - NPC@annpc#557 - stayed beneath notice." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"It was part of the deal to keep the spooks from sending me to their supposed 'farm' and spending eternity as a lab rat" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "I hope you're not in trouble now, since your past is no longer as much of a secret as it once was..." Emma Ralde@crystyl shakes her head, "I think Starfleet has matured enough now to not be so concerned about such things and we've proven under the Latenter's watchful eye all this time that it doesn't need to affect - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- things. I'm sure the question came up after the crew started to learn about me, but they seem to have settled it without me for now" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "I suppose so. And I'm glad you're here as well- there's no one better than you with your life and service experience to help Rianni along." Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "Thanks, I appreciate the vote of confidence!" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila smiles back and pats Emma gently on the shoulder, "Keep up the good work, Emma. And let's hope you don't have to go through this day a third time." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Here's hoping!" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "Anyways, I'll leave you to focus on your work and check on the rest of the crew, make sure they're doing alright." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Good chat as always!" --- NPC@annpc#557 | After the Defiant (soon to be Gallant) docks at the Widhari shipyard, Mia and her drones continue the repairs to the ship with the assistance of the additional facilities now available NPC@annpc#557 | As she works away in Main Engineering, a door opens and a strange figure steps in. She wears a gold-striped uniform like Kelly used to, and with her Denobulan features she almost looks like - NPC@annpc#557 - Kelly but with her hair dyed black. There are differences in physique, facial structure and skin tone which quickly make it clear that she's not Kelly- most prominently the very pointed brows and ears Mia@crystyl turns after detecting an unfamiliar reading, "Allo! You must be from the Midway, non?" NPC@annpc#557 | The woman nods and smiles, "And you must be Mia," she offers a hand. "A pleasure to meet you." Mia@crystyl:"Likewise!" she smiles, greeting the hand with her own, "Ms...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Woman: "Farhalla," she smiles back. "And don't worry, Keliaya hasn't been fused with a Vulcan through a transporter malfunction. Though probably not for lack of trying, on a ship this old." Mia@crystyl giggles, "That certainly would be something!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla chuckles, "Don't get me wrong, the Constitution-class is a beautiful ship, but you have to agree there was a...disproportionate amount of reports on transporter accidents from their - NPC@annpc#557 - time. Some very horrific ones right on the flagship, even." Mia@crystyl:"True, but we don't think that's directly relative to the class itself but more that they were the only ships really out with a need to use them at the time. Don't worry though! We have found that - Mia@crystyl:- the transporters here - like many other systems - are much comparable to Coalition technology thanks to the non-Starfleet integrations!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla smiles, "That's good to hear! Yes, it's certainly more the transporter technology of the time rather than the class. There have been some /wild/ incidents though. Apparently a Vulcan - NPC@annpc#557 - was fused with a Talaxian once and became some form of artificial hybrid?" Mia@crystyl:"Oui. But that was actually much more recent. In fact, we believe that Vulcan is still a serving Admiral!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods, "Duly noted- I'll never tell that fun fact in front of any Vulcan admiralty," she smirks Mia@crystyl:"So have you come to assist with repairs here, or was there a more specific purpose to your visit that we could help with?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Yes, I'm leading the repair team from the Midway. Kelly asked me to report to you, since you know the ship and its technologies- Coalition and old Starfleet, better than anyone else - NPC@annpc#557 - and are coordinating the details of the repairs." Mia@crystyl:"Well, coordinating the little ones would perhaps be more accurate!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla looks around, "Are you connected to them directly? Like a...drone hive mind?" Mia@crystyl smiles, "Contrary to the negative images that analogy conjures, it is accurate" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Interesting. Well, people used to be paranoid of AI in general. I'm sure you can break past the stigma of a hive mind connection as well," she smiles back Mia@crystyl:"We've come to think nothing of it here, since we first had to establish the connection and expand our network to the little ones in order to save the rest of the crew when they were stranded" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "I take it these ones were native to this ship? Seeing as it's got Nuhar technology incorporated elsewhere as well." Mia@crystyl:"Correct. Though they were initially lost with the ship in it's condition at the time, and so required coordination" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla smiles, "You seem to have done a great job with them. Anyways, I just want to make sure we don't end up getting in your way, or doubling up tasks your drones are already on. - NPC@annpc#557 - Especially since you've been here a while and have probably started establishing some routines, while we're the newcomers." Mia@crystyl:"A prudent approach! How many teams have you brought along?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Four. One of them is a work bee group, since our Chief noticed your hull needed some patching up." Mia@crystyl:"That works! Any specializations with the other teams?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Perez's team has more tactical leanings, since most of your tactical systems are still offline, but they can do general repair work too. The other two, we can work on any system you - NPC@annpc#557 - need us at." Mia@crystyl | As Farhalla speaks, four Nuhar drones enter through a jefferies tube and hover beside the pair NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla looks over curiously, "Hello there! I'm not stopping you from talking with Mia, am I? I assume you can communicate remotely through signals and all." Mia@crystyl:"It would be a waste not to let your tactical specialists work on those systems, maybe then you can improve defensive systems if nothing else! These little ones are not here for us Ms. Farhalla, they - Mia@crystyl:- are here for you!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Really?" She looks to the four drones, "What can I do for you?" Mia@crystyl:"They will accompany each of your teams to facilitate coordination with the rest of the repair teams. As you said yourself, there are now many drones servicing this vessel so it is best to have them - Mia@crystyl:- work with the biological teams to ensure maximum efficiency" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Oh, perfect! I'll show them to the teams. Thank you for your help, Mia!" Mia@crystyl:"It is what we are here for!" she beams NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla smiles and waves to Mia as she turns to lead the drones out of Main Engineering --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the Aethon, Rianni steps onto the bridge after being informed that they are ready to test the invisibility helm cloak Rianni@crystyl wanders over and takes her seat, "Is everything in place?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, "Affirmative, Captain." Rianni@crystyl:"And we are all clear on long range sensors?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "No Kratt in sight here, and the minerals in this asteroid belt we've selected combined with the Aethon's low profile should hide us from any passing sensor sweeps even if someone - NPC@annpc#557 - does pass through." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Suhani is remaining in Main Engineering for the testing. I will monitor the cloaking systems from here, as I expect we will not need much attention on the tactical systems." Rianni@crystyl:"Alright then, let's get this show on the road" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Suhani is standing by to activate the cloak on your mark, Captain." Rianni@crystyl:"Proceed with the first test" she nods NPC@annpc#557 | The Guardian nods back and taps on his console. The view from the viewscreen shimmers slightly and he announces, "Cloak is active. Checking readings now..." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "It's a functional phase cloak from what I can tell, Captain." Rianni@crystyl:"Meaning we can pass straight through solid objects like this?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Theoretically, but it might be prudent to test it. Slowly, so we don't crash into an asteroid." Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Don't worry, I'm in no rush to get stuck inside solid rock. Well then, let's continue stress testing this system - we need to try and work out its limitations" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Captain, I am reading power dips in multiple systems." NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Pilot: "I've lost helm control." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal begins typing rapidly on his console as several lights flicker on and off Rianni@crystyl:"Is the helm tapping more power than we anticipated?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Technically, no, as we do not understand the helm enough to make an educated prediction. It does appear to be drawing too much power, and I am unable to balance it from here." NPC@annpc#557 | The gravity shuts off and everyone suddenly feels weightless NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Recommend we deactivate the cloak." Rianni@crystyl reaches for her intercom but floats out of reach, "Agreed, take it offline" NPC@annpc#557 | The Guardian reacts to the sudden loss of gravity the quickest, managing to relay the order to Suhani. A few seconds later, the gravity reactivates, pulling everyone back to the ground. Some - NPC@annpc#557 - of the bridge crew manage to stay in their chairs or land on their feet, others less so Rianni@crystyl gets her seat for the most part, but it's far from a graceful landing. She frowns and quickly adjusts herself before going once more for the intercom, "Bridge to Engineering. Suhani, what's the - Rianni@crystyl:- situation?" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "Sorry Captain. The cloak was taking too much power from the warp core. I think I might know why." Rianni@crystyl:"Please tell me it's something we can resolve" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "I believe so, but it's going to require some trial and error. I can explain more, but it might be easier in person." Rianni@crystyl stands, "Not a problem, I'll be right down" Rianni@crystyl:"Maintain position for the moment and stand down testing procedures" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Yes Captain. Standing down testing procedures now." Rianni@crystyl heads off to engineering NPC@annpc#557 | Engineering is a buzz of activity, with numerous Engineering personnel moving from console to console, busy at work. Everything seems fine and there is no sign of any damage having been caused - NPC@annpc#557 - from the initial test, fortunately. Suhani is in the centre, tapping on one of the consoles on the helm's pedestal Rianni@crystyl heads over, taking care not to get in anyone's way, "So what're you thinking?" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Well, we made this setup," she gestures to the wires, "based on Kelly's observations from how the helm was tied in to the Thunderbolt. We don't actually know how to modulate the power - NPC@annpc#557 - draw of the helm itself, but it definitely shouldn't need all this power to cloak a small ship like the Aethon. It's drawing all this power anyways, because this configuration was meant for - NPC@annpc#557 - drawing power from the Thunderbolt, which has exponentially more power to offer than our little warp core." Rianni@crystyl:"I think I get it. So it needs a transformer of sorts?" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Exactly, yes! There's no controls on the helm itself, so we can't just easily tune down the power draw even though it doesn't need all that power right now. But we can regulate the - NPC@annpc#557 - power externally. Getting that set up won't take too long, another hour at the most. Then comes the trial and error. Since we don't fully understand the helm, we're going to have to test - NPC@annpc#557 - how much power we're feeding it to find the optimal balance." Rianni@crystyl:"Makes sense. Is there anything you need done from the bridge to assist while you're setting up?" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "I assume everything's back to normal now, since we have gravity again?" Rianni@crystyl nods, "Everything's fine, so don't worry about it!" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani smiles, "Good, I don't want to wreak havoc on our systems at such a critical time. We should have things handled down here. I'll let you know when we're ready- be prepared for more - NPC@annpc#557 - testing, but I promise there won't be another sudden power drain like that again." Rianni@crystyl:"Don't worry about it, that's why we're here right?" she smiles, "I'll leave you to your work. Just let me know if you need anything" she waves and heads back out --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the Valley Forge, TQ is doing one of her non-bridge shifts in the lower decks areas of the ship NPC@annpc#557 | As she works away, the door slides open and Farhalla peers in, "Hi! I'm not disrupting anything, I hope?" T'Quila@crystyl turns, "Not at all! Can I help you with something?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "No, well...nothing formal, anyways. That's why I didn't want to disturb you if you were in the middle of any important work." T'Quila@crystyl takes a curious step closer, "You were... looking for me specifically? Have we met?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods and steps in, "No, but I've heard of you. I mean, your entire crew is rather famous, after all," she smiles T'Quila@crystyl chuckles, "Out here at least, though I'm sure it's just the same for any other frontier crew when out in their explored region!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla chuckles, "True, but you're pretty much the local hero in this region!" she offers her hand. "I'm Lieutenant Farhalla, USS Midway. I'm helping out on the Defiant, but I'm between - NPC@annpc#557 - shifts right now and the teams all have their tasks and know what they're doing, so I thought I'd pop over for a bit." T'Quila@crystyl:"I see! Well it's nice to meet you Lieutenant, I'm T'Quila. Though... you said you were looking for me, so I guess you knew that already..." NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods, "I have! I thought I'd come by and say hello while I'm here. I don't meet too many other half-Vulcans," she smiles T'Quila@crystyl:"I see, well that is understandable. We are something a rarity, and one not overly relatable to others. Well, if it's a social catchup, how's about a drink? I'm about done here for now anyway" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla smiles, "Sounds good to me. Lead the way, I don't actually know where the closest lounge or mess is from here," she chuckles T'Quila@crystyl laughs, "Don't worry, there's plenty of officers actually native to this ship who wouldn't know any better down here!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla follows along, "Didn't think the lower decks were going to be the first part of your ship I'd see, either! I should give your Engineering a visit sometime, if I have the time." T'Quila@crystyl leads them through the maze of corridors towards a nearby mess hall. A little livelier atmosphere than typically seen, but not rowdy T'Quila@crystyl:"Kelly would probably kill me for saying this, but if you've seen one warp core you've seen them all so far as I can tell" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla chuckles, "Well, not the one on the Defiant! That one's quite different, another time period and alternate reality and all.â€ T'Quila@crystyl:"Oh! And I think it's the Gallant now, by the way. Or at least it will be when it leaves that dock!" she heads for a replicator, smiling and waving to friends in the room NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla follows in, "We're still in the process of changing the name on the hull, but the change's been made in the computer systems. Many of your engineers there still call it Defiant out of - NPC@annpc#557 - habit though, but the names are similar enough. I'm sure they'll adjust soon enough!" T'Quila@crystyl smiles, "True enough" grabbing a drink and moving aside to let Farhalla get what she wants NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla steps up, replicating her own drink before joining TQ on the opposite seat, "So, how's life on the famous Valley Forge been?" T'Quila@crystyl:"Well the only thing I have to compare to is life at the shipyards, and in that sense it's the same as it's always been since I got here" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Was that where you worked before, at a shipyard?" T'Quila@crystyl nods, "I was at U-P when I met the Captain. She was on hiatus at the time and got pulled back to get a problematic new warp core installed and claw back lost build time on one of the Odyssey - T'Quila@crystyl:- refits there. When I heard about a year or so later that she was getting her own command, I felt... drawn to reach out and join her. So here I am!" she chirps, sipping her green wine NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods, "Yes, I've heard that Captain Se'lai is one of those Vulcans who don't completely reject emotion. V'tosh ka'tur, I think the term is?" T'Quila@crystyl nods, "That's right, yes. It's what drew me to her really. I had always struggled with the internal conflicts of my mixed heritages, but seeing her - even as a pureblooded Vulcan - able to embrace,- T'Quila@crystyl:- and even flourish, with her emotions... well, it gave me a sense of hope for myself that I'd never before realized" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla smiles, "I had a feeling that's why you got along." She takes a sip of her drink. "Did you grow up on Vulcan, or with Orions?" T'Quila@crystyl:"More on Vulcan during my youth. But life there was... problematic for my mother, so I left at a fairly young age and went to Earth. Figured it would be easier to blend into a crowd in Starfleet" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "I can imagine, with a place as traditional as Vulcan. It must've been difficult for you too, as well as your mother." T'Quila@crystyl:"You're not wrong, I served as a constant reminder of what my father did to her. And no amount of emotional suppression can keep that at bay forever. But that's such a grim story! What about you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "I was very lucky, I had a fairly ordinary Denobulan upbringing. Which is something utterly alien and unimaginable to Vulcans as I understand it," she laughs T'Quila@crystyl smiles, "All those large and social families, it's enough to break even the most stoic of Vulcans!" she chuckles, "I take it then that you never found much difficulty in balancing the more volatile - T'Quila@crystyl:- emotions that come with the ears?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Sometimes. I was more volatile than the average Denobulan, especially in youth," she chuckles. "But it wasn't anything Denobulan society couldn't handle. Denobulans hybrids aren't - NPC@annpc#557 - uncommon, so the education system has experience dealing with some very different students. My specific combination is rarer, but they've dealt with rowdier." T'Quila@crystyl:"I can imagine! So... how is it that you even came to know of me? I can't imagine you checking the personnel records of everyone on every ship you encounter to see if there are any Vulcanoid hybrids - T'Quila@crystyl:- stationed to them" she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Oh no, that would just be weird!" she laughs. "Kelly mentioned you, actually." T'Quila@crystyl smiles, "Aah, see now - knowing Kelly is certainly no surprise! Sometimes I think she's got friends on every ship in the fleet!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "I wouldn't be surprised! We Denobulans tend to be quite social after all. Captain Se'Lai is related to Admiral Se'Lai, right?" T'Quila@crystyl laughs, "The name's a bit of a giveaway isn't it? She is the Admiral's daughter, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla chuckles, "That it is. My mother knows Admiral Se'Lai- they're not close friends or anything, but they've worked together before." T'Quila@crystyl:"Your mother is on the Admiralty board then?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "Oh no, they worked together on the medical side, not the admiralty side. She first met T'Lia back in the Dominion War when they were both part of the triage effort after the - NPC@annpc#557 - disastrous Battle of Tyra. She went on reserve after the war to raise me and my half-siblings, but kept in touch with T'Lia when she needed to ask the occasional Vulcan physiology related - NPC@annpc#557 - advice. She went back into service for a time during the Klingon War and worked on the hospital ship T'Lia commanded. The...Bruma, I think it was." T'Quila@crystyl:"Well even if not Admiralty, I've seen how hard it can be for people growing us as the child of someone in Starfleet. Not something I can directly relate to, but I've seen enough to understand that - T'Quila@crystyl:- brings it's own share of difficulties" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods, "That's why my mother went on reserve after the war when I was born. And when she went back to help during the Klingon War, most of us were old enough to take care of ourselves. - NPC@annpc#557 - We Denobulans also have the advantage of living in large families. Plenty of us grow up with a biological parent who goes away for months at a time, but we have plenty of other adults around - NPC@annpc#557 - to look after the young ones still." NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "My mother was always nearby when I was growing up though, she worked entirely as a civilian doctor on Denobula between the wars." T'Quila@crystyl smiles, "Sounds lovely!" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla smiles back, "It was! Though I wasn't in touch with the Vulcan side of my heritage at all. I became curious when I was older, so I travelled to Vulcan. The visit and getting to see - NPC@annpc#557 - Vulcan culture and architecture was nice, but it was clear I didn't have a place there. I ended up settling in Starfleet, where both my mother and biological father once worked." T'Quila@crystyl:"Now that impression of Vulcan is something I certainly can relate to!" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods, "I imagine many Vulcan hybrids or Vulcans who never quite fit in feel similar. It wasn't too bad for me, since I have my Denobulan family and a place I did belong. As a young - NPC@annpc#557 - engineer at the time with a family that also served, how could I resist Starfleet?" she smiles T'Quila@crystyl:"How indeed!" she chuckles, "So what about the Midway, Sovereign's always look so... refined, like they have this presence about them. Sort of like the old Excelsiors did somehow! Must be - T'Quila@crystyl:- an invigorating place to serve" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "That it is! They're not the newest and strongest ships in the fleet anymore, but they were built to be command ships and frontier exploration cruisers, like the Galaxy and Excelsior - NPC@annpc#557 - before it. The Midway might not be an Odyssey, but she's still quite a ship!" T'Quila@crystyl:"Did you all arrive just recently, or were you among those who came through for the battle too?" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods, "We came through for the battle and were lucky enough not to take any serious damage. We were all repaired and ready to go when we began the resettlement efforts, so we were - NPC@annpc#557 - deployed to scout out some regions of former Horde space. We happened to be the closest ship when you learned about the Kratt expansion. We didn't get here fast enough to help with the last - NPC@annpc#557 - evacuation, but we made it to Widhar on time." T'Quila@crystyl:"Glad of it too. Hopefully the Aethon will make some headway in good time to avoid a confrontation here, but I always feel better seeing another Starfleet cruiser out of the window" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla nods, "Me too. This isn't our first exploration mission and we've gotten used to being alone in deep space, but every once in a while when you encounter another familiar Starfleet - NPC@annpc#557 - ship is always something special," she smiles T'Quila@crystyl:"I know right! We were out here for years before finding the sphere and opening the gateway home. It was a special moment seeing that first Starfleet ship come through the gateway" NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla: "I can only imagine! Our exploration missions weren't nearly as long, and it still felt lonely sometimes." NPC@annpc#557 | As they talk, TQ's PADD flashes a notification T'Quila@crystyl:"Hm?" she looks down, pulling the PADD out for a look NPC@annpc#557 | TQ notices that she has been notified of two priority messages coming through T'Quila@crystyl:"Looks like some priority comms traffic coming in. I should go take a look" she stands NPC@annpc#557 | Farhalla smiles, "No worries. Duty calls! I hope it's not something bad." T'Quila@crystyl:"Well we're not at red alert yet, so here's hoping! Nice meeting you Farhalla, hope to catch up some more while you're here" she smiles and waves, heading off --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the Aethon, Rianni returns to the bridge as she receives news that they are ready for another test Rianni@crystyl takes her seat, "Ok, everyone set to give this another go?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods: "We are prepared, Captain. I will attempt to distribute power as best I can from the bridge." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Hopefully we shouldn't have to this time- for this first test Suhani's planning to feed the cloak the same amount of power our regular cloak takes." Rianni@crystyl:"Alright, let's do this. Activate the cloak" NPC@annpc#557 | The Guardian taps his console, "She's activating it now." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "What..." she taps her console. "This can't be right." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "We are not cloaked." Rianni@crystyl:"Is it not enough power for the helm?" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "It seems so." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "There's something else. Almost half the lifesigns just disappeared from the ship. I'm confirming now if this is a sensor glitch..." Rianni@crystyl:"What?!" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, still typing, "Everyone in the rear section of the ship appears to be gone, including Main Engineering." NPC@annpc#557 | The Guardian glances back with a look of concern, "I cannot contact Suhani or anyone else in Engineering." Rianni@crystyl:"Is the helm still active?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "The power is still flowing from the warp core to the helm." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Internal sensors aren't registering the presence of the helm anymore, though..." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal raises a brow, "It must still be there. The power is flowing /somewhere/, and it is not to any of our other systems." Rianni@crystyl:"Unless it is there - along with all of the crew - just slightly out of phase with the rest of us. Kill the core, that should power done the helm's effect and bring them back into view" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "A logical conclusion. I am powering down the core now." He taps his console and the lighting around the bridge dims slowly. "We are now running on auxiliary power." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "The lifesigns are back! Along with the helm. Rianni@crystyl taps her intercom, "Bridge to Engineering, report" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "Suhani here. You can hear us, right?" Rianni@crystyl:"Yes, you're all back on sensors now. It would seem that the helm only had power enough to phase out with those of you in the rear half of the ship" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "We just figured that out down here as well. Now we know what happens when we don't give the helm enough power. We'll just have to keep trying until we find the perfect amount." Rianni@crystyl:"Alright, bring the core back and start ramping up the power" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Restarting the core again, Captain. This will take some time." Rianni@crystyl:"Not to worry. This is all part of the testing process" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "While we wait, we'll work on a way to deactivate the helm ourselves if it takes us out of phase again. Save us some time turning the core off and on every time we don't give the - NPC@annpc#557 - helm enough power." Rianni@crystyl:"So you weren't able to interact with it before? Strange since it was out of phase from us along with the rest of you" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "The helm was, but the console controlling it stayed in phase with the rest of the ship. My hand just passed through it every time I tried to press anything. Tai's working on a - NPC@annpc#557 - signal for the control interface to receive, based on the communication pieces you used to talk while out of phase on the Horde factory mission. He's the one who originally made those, so I - NPC@annpc#557 - trust it'll work here." Rianni@crystyl:"Sounds good to me. Let me know when you're ready to give it another go then" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "Will do, Lieutenant. I should use Captain because you're on the bridge, right? Even though I'm not." Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Probably, but I won't tell you if you won't" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Suhani> "Deal." --- NPC@annpc#557 | Several hours of extensive testing pass by, with members of the crew getting phased out a few more times. Fortunately, it seems Taizam-Dur's solution works well and they don't have to shut - NPC@annpc#557 - down the core every time. This allows them to conduct the tests much more frequently. Eventually... NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Test twenty-two complete. Power draw is sustainable; any lower and we will venture into the range of test fourteen and phase half the crew out again. We may be able to refine the - NPC@annpc#557 - power levels further, but the benefits are minimal. I would not recommend spending additional time on power level testing for such a small amount of extra power." Rianni@crystyl:"No arguments here. So what's next on the list?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Let's try actually using the cloak. I have a probe ready to run some scans, see if the helm works as well on a ship as it does on a person." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "I'll deploy it when we're ready, then we can cloak again and I'll see if the probe can detect us." Rianni@crystyl:"Alright, proceed when ready" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods and taps her console, "Probe is deployed, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Activating the cloak now. And we are cloaked." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Power levels stable." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria taps her console, "Starting probe scans. Regular scans have no effect." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "No effect with tachyon and antiproton either, even at this range. We're invisible to all the cloak detection methods at our disposal." Rianni@crystyl:"Great work!" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Let's see if the probe can pass through the ship first, before we do anything dangerous. If this doesn't work, all that'll happen is the probe bouncing off the hull." Rianni@crystyl:"This will be interesting. Go ahead" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria taps her console, "Probe is on its way." The viewscreen shows out the back of the Aethon as the probe comes closer and closer, before promptly disappearing from the angle as it enters - NPC@annpc#557 - the ship. It switches to the front view, where the probe can be seen emerging from the Aethon NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria smiles, "It worked!" Rianni@crystyl:"Impressive!" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Hopefully we won't be passing close by to anything to need this ability, but it's good to know what we should do. We should still be able to land underwater without phasing through - NPC@annpc#557 - the planet or drowning. We can't test it beforehand, but previous records of phase-shifting shows that planets and planetary environments are still identical in other phases." Rianni@crystyl:"Good to know! Does this mean we're all set?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "It would seem so, Captain." Rianni@crystyl:"Then set course for the Kratt planet, and prepare to infiltrate behind enemy lines" --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the VF, Keelah is working in her ready room when her combadge chirps Keelah@crystyl taps, "Se'Lai" NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> "Captain, we have just received reports from both the Trinity and the Coalition scouts at the former Corporate colony. It seems like both Kratt groups have left their systems on a - NPC@annpc#557 - course for Widhar." Keelah@crystyl:"So they're throwing everything at this one. Do we have an eta based on the reports?" NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> "The ones at the Corporate colony will be here in seventeen hours, the second group in a day." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. Please can you relay that to the Midway and the rest of the evacuation fleet" NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> "Already on it, Captain. We have a communication from the Gallant now, should I put it through to your computer?" Keelah@crystyl:"Please do" NPC@annpc#557 | A moment later, Kelly appears on Keelah's screen, "So the Kratt are on the move again." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed, we are now on the clock. How are the repairs?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "They're going well. We're run into a few surprises from unfamiliar technology, but nothing that's been a serious setback. Should we continue repairs for a while and begin evacuation - NPC@annpc#557 - closer to the Kratt's arrival, or wrap up what we're in the middle of and begin immediately? Tactical simulations are showing that our defense line can keep back one group of Kratt if they - NPC@annpc#557 - attack immediately upon arrival. It's the second group that'll likely put the planet at risk." Keelah@crystyl hrms, "How long would it take you to fill the Gallant to its evac capacity?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "The Widhari have been preparing since the Coalition forces arrived, so they're all ready to go. We just have to beam them onto the ship, we can handle that in an hour or so. If we keep - NPC@annpc#557 - working up to the first group's arrival, we can finish patching up the hull and increase habitable space on the ship, give us a little more evac capacity than we have right now." Keelah@crystyl:"Sounds like a plan" she nods, "Go ahead" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Thank you, Captain. I'll call all repair personnel to duty, we'll have it done as soon as possible." Keelah@crystyl:"Do we have any of our Nuhar on the surface exploring the ruins?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "We do. I'll ask Mia to recall them as well." Keelah@crystyl:"If they are needed for the imminent repair work, of course. Otherwise, give them 12 hours to wrap up" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Sounds good to me." Keelah@crystyl:"Alright. If there's nothing more than I should leave you to it" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "That's all for now, Captain." --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the Aethon, the crew are once again gathered on the bridge as they approach the Kratt world, this time under the helm's cloak rather than their own NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan: "Arriving at the system in five minutes, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "I'm seeing sixty-four Kratt ships of various configurations in the system itself, another seventeen on long-range sensors patrolling the nearby region." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "No sign that any of them are aware of us at the moment." Rianni@crystyl:"Alright, let's be ready for anything. Emma's mystery ship should be lurking out there under cloak as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "No sign of them at the moment, and I don't suppose we can tell whether they see us or not?" Rianni@crystyl:"Apparently, the last time around, the first sign was the Kratt defense grid activating to emit the AP wave" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "I wonder if that's configured to occur by default, or if it was because they already knew we were coming." Rianni@crystyl:"I suspect the latter..." NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Hopefully if we don't see an AP wave this time, it means everything's going well, then." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "And if it is a part of the configured defense system, we shouldn't be affected by it with this cloak." Rianni@crystyl:"If not then it will have all been for nothing. Just be ready to jump out of the system at the first sign of detection" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan: "We'll be ready." NPC@annpc#557 | Soon, the Aethon exits warp in the system with the planet ahead of them, surrounded by the Kratt defense grid and Kratt starships Rianni@crystyl:"Passive scans only the planet for now. If we can find our LZ all well and good, but let's get past that defense grid first. Red alert, this is it" NPC@annpc#557 | The bridge lighting switches to that of red alert as the Aethon moves in towards the Kratt planet. So far, everything looks good... NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Found the Progenitor vessel underwater. It's powered up and easy to detect. There's unusual subspace signals coming from it, probably related to controlling the Kratt." Rianni@crystyl:"Makes sense. Adjust course" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan: "Aye, adjusting course now." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "We are approaching the defense grid. There are no visible changes in its operation and it is still sustaining a basic tachyon grid which should not affect us." Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "Last time, they had already reacted to our presence" Rianni@crystyl:"A good sign, but I'm still not ruling out that they know we're repeating and trying a different approach. Maintain our cautious approach" NPC@annpc#557 | The Lupan taps away at the helm console and the Aethon continues slowly and carefully heading towards the planet. The defense satellites draw closer and closer on the viewscreen, becoming - NPC@annpc#557 - more than specks around the planet. Thin blue lines are visible connecting between the various satellites, likely streams of energy that are part of the detection grid NPC@annpc#557 | The small Aethon moves between several of these lines, passing by the satellites and leaving the defense grid behind NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Still no reaction from any of the Kratt vessels." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Nor the defense grid, Captain." Rianni@crystyl:"First hurdle down. Now to make a splash without drawing attention. Begin atmospheric descent" NPC@annpc#557 | The Aethon continues towards the planet, soon passing through the atmosphere. They pass through cloud layers, until the ocean beyond comes into view beneath the lowest layer of cloud NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://c.pxhere.com/photos/80/a2/sky_clouds_blue_white_above_the_clouds_flight-603911.jpg!d Rianni@crystyl affords herself a small smile at the rare view NPC@annpc#557 | The Aethon flies through the final layer of clouds and towards the deep blue ocean. They dive into the water slowly and gently, making as little disruption as possible to keep a low profile Rianni@crystyl looks around, "Well this is new..." NPC@annpc#557 | The viewscreen begins to show the view underwater as they descend, every once in a while catching a glimpse of a native aquatic lifeform swimming by. They don't dive for long before the - NPC@annpc#557 - submerged Progenitor ship becomes visible, as this part of the ocean does not appear to be particularly deep. Hints of Progenitor material can still be seen, but much of the ship has been - NPC@annpc#557 - augmented with Kratt biotechnology Rianni@crystyl:"How are we doing with sensor down here, can we single out Kratt lifesigns?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, "The ship is crawling with them, but there's a nice, fairly flat area clear of them that we can touch down at, close enough to still be masked by the energy signature but far - NPC@annpc#557 - enough that they won't see us when we switch cloaks. I've also located what I think is the source of the subspace signal- the interface for adjusting control over the Kratt is probably not far - NPC@annpc#557 - from there on the ship." Rianni@crystyl:"Alright, set us down then" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Sending the location to the helm." NPC@annpc#557 | The Lupan deftly maneuvers the Aethon over to the clearing, settling the small stealth ship down amidst the reefs NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan: "We've landed, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani: "Should I deactivate the invisibility helm cloak and switch to regular cloak?" Rianni@crystyl:"Nicely done" she smiles, nodding to the Lupan up front, "And yes, let's switch cloaking systems before powering down for a long stay" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani nods, tapping on her console, "Switching now. We might get a power dip since we want the other cloak up as soon as possible- don't worry, we've done the calculations and it won't cause - NPC@annpc#557 - any issues." NPC@annpc#557 | The lights dim around the bridge as the Aethon flickers into view briefly before quickly recloaking again with the regular cloaking system NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Rebalancing power levels now. All systems are currently stable." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "No unusual activity from the Kratt in the Progenitor ship." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "No sign anything in orbit has seen us either." Rianni@crystyl:"Excellent job people! Is structural integrity holding comfortably enough at this depth?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Affirmative, Captain. This may be problematic if we were to withstand the high pressures of deeper regions, but we are not in any danger at this current depth." Rianni@crystyl:"Alright then, let's power down everything we don't need and get the next step of the mission underway" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani nods, "I'll get the helm disconnected and onto Sin." --- NPC@annpc#557 | In Main Engineering, Suhani has finished disconnecting the helm while Sin changes to her Regulator jumpsuit before heading down to Engineering to retrieve the helm NPC@annpc#557 | Sin enters Engineering to find Suhani and Taizam-Dur tinkering with the helm Sin@crystyl heads over, clawing awkwardly at the clingy jumpsuit, "Eugh, is this really necessary or just someone's poor excuse to see me like this?" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani laughs, "From my understanding it's not strictly necessary, but it helps." NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur nods, "It's more comfortable this way, trust me. I've tested these suits before with regular clothing." Sin@crystyl:"You'd better be right. 'Comfortable' is not the first word that comes to mind right now..." Sin@crystyl follows, skipping an awkward step trying to unpluck the clingy jumpsuit from her rear NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur: "Just step into the suit, and it'll close over you." Sin@crystyl climbs in NPC@annpc#557 | The suit closes around Sin and Taizam-Dur steps up with the helmet, sliding it over her head and sealing the suit. As with Lennie, the neural interface kicks in and Sin doesn't feel like she - NPC@annpc#557 - is really in a suit at all Sin@crystyl looks around and begins her suit checks, "Alright... this isn't so bad" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani smiles, "Told you." She steps over with the helm in hand, which now has a harness attached to it. "We've added this so it'll stay on with your suit underwater. You can take it off - NPC@annpc#557 - yourself if you need to, but it shouldn't accidentally float off on its own." Sin@crystyl laughs, "That would be an embarrassing end to this little adventure wouldn't it" NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur chuckles, "That it will. We'll give the harness a quick try. I modified the suit's comms system so you can communicate with us from a different phase in case you need to, but I - NPC@annpc#557 - would only suggest doing so in case of an emergency. They could pick up on the signal and know we're here." Sin@crystyl:"I'm on my own. Got it" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani nods, "They probably won't be monitoring every single frequency, but it's best to play it safe. Especially since we know it's not just the Kratt involved, but someone who knew how to - NPC@annpc#557 - spot the Aethon with our regular cloak, so they might know what rough comm range to look for." Sin@crystyl:"Don't worry. You won't see or hear a peep from me until I'm banging on the airlock to be let back in" NPC@annpc#557 | Tai chuckles, "That's the other thing- with our phase discriminators, we were able to select the specific phase to travel to. We haven't learned how to do that with the helm yet, assuming such - NPC@annpc#557 - a sophisticated device has that function. Without the ability to activate it though, you can phase through other people and walls, but not the materials of the outer hulls of starships." NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani hands Sin a PADD: "Veladria's found you an entrance here," she points it out on the scan of the Progenitor ship. "Your destination is somewhere around here, where the signal's coming - NPC@annpc#557 - from. We suspect the control device is probably nearby." Sin@crystyl studies the image on the PADD briefly before handing it back, "Got it" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani sets the PADD aside before moving to strap on the helm harness. As soon as she finishes, Sin flickers out of view NPC@annpc#557 <C - Taizam-Dur> "The helm is working. Is the harness keeping it in place?" Sin@crystyl looks around, waving a hand in front of Suhani's face NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani gives no reaction and seems unable to see Sin's hand Sin@crystyl grins, jumping around a little, "Seems ok so far" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Taizam-Dur> "Good. Try taking it off for yourself, and we can take you to the airlock to get started." Sin@crystyl reaches up and tries to remove it NPC@annpc#557 | It is not too difficult to remove, and as soon as Sin gets it off, she pops back into view again! Sin@crystyl appears standing behind Suhani, "There!" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani jumps slightly before turning around, "Why're you back th- oh nevermind, come with me to the airlock." Sin@crystyl chuckles, "Couldn't resist. Alright, let's roll" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani and Taizam-Dur lead Sin to the nearest airlock. Once they reach it, Suhani taps her combadge, "Suhani to Bridge. Sin is ready to go." Sin@crystyl | Rianni's voice replies, "Alright. Good luck Sin, we're all counting on you now" Sin@crystyl eyerolls, "Yeah, yeah. Lay off the Keelah routine and stop blowing smoke up my ass. This jumpsuit's too tight for that anyway, and I've already signed up for your crazy ass plan" Sin@crystyl | Rianni laughs, "High spirits as always I see. Have fun" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani chuckles as well, "Step into the airlock and put on the helm again as soon as you're set, Sin." Sin@crystyl heads inside and waits for the door to close before donning the helm, giving a thumbs up as she slides it on, "Be seeing you! Open it up" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani closes the inner airlock door before opening the outer. The airlock soon fills with water Sin@crystyl let's everything settle before stepping through and beginning to walk out across the hull of the Aethon NPC@annpc#557 | The magboots of the suit allow her to walk across the hull, and she quickly reaches the sea floor. Unfortunately the suit is too heavy to swim in, but the thruster system allows her to speed - NPC@annpc#557 - up the travel by making large leaps through the water Sin@crystyl skims her way along the ocean floor towards the Progenitor ship NPC@annpc#557 | After a bit of a trek, she finally reaches the Progenitor ship. Several Kratt can be seen skittering over its modified surface and another emerges from within, using the entrance Veladria had - NPC@annpc#557 - identified Sin@crystyl observes and tries to time it so she can slip inside when one of the Kratt comes or goes NPC@annpc#557 | The definition of biological machines seem quite apt for the Kratt, at least the ones patrolling the outside of the ship. Their movements adhere to a strict pattern, and Sin is able to - NPC@annpc#557 - easily identify and take advantage of it. Unlike the Aethon, the water remains on the inside of the Progenitor ship, as they left the door open and the entire vessel is completely flooded Sin@crystyl makes her way through, heading for the area highlighted by Suhani NPC@annpc#557 | The ship is indeed quite packed with Kratt, but none of them ever notice Sin and she is able to make her way towards the area without issue. There is an even larger Kratt presence here, and - NPC@annpc#557 - Sin finds that every door leading to the area is always watched by Kratt, with no way to sneak by outside their line of sight. Time to see if the helm works as it should... Sin@crystyl proceeds to walk straight through the middle of them. Literally NPC@annpc#557 | The Kratt show no reaction at all, and Sin passes straight through them! Sin@crystyl smiles to herself as she continues unopposed NPC@annpc#557 | Soon, Sin reaches a large central chamber, but to her surprise, instead of Kratt, she sees two bipedal individuals, also dressed in suits, standing by a large array of Progenitor consoles. The - NPC@annpc#557 - two don't seem to be able to see Sin either. Their suits look more advanced than Sin's and closer to those of Regulators, but the designs are clearly not Regulator suits Sin@crystyl pauses, taking a moment to size them up and get a read on their thoughts NPC@annpc#557 | Sin is unable to read their thoughts. She gets the same thing as when she tries to read the thoughts of someone with an implant on a different frequency, like the Latenter crew or Republic - NPC@annpc#557 - Romulans. One of them seems to be working on the console, while the other is standing around and keeping watch Sin@crystyl doesn't like it and decides she needs to take them out, hoping that being out of phase doesn't hamper her abilities NPC@annpc#557 | Sin finds she is still able to use her abilities! Sin@crystyl wastes no time going straight for her favoured blood boiling NPC@annpc#557 | The two mysterious suited bipeds collapse. As they do, both disappear in the white flash of Regulator-style tachyon transporters Sin@crystyl suspects she is now on the clock and hurries over to the console NPC@annpc#557 | Thanks to Hades' info, Sin is able to use the console, but she does have to come into regular phase in order to interact with it Sin@crystyl removes the helm and gets straight to work seizing control NPC@annpc#557 | She notes that someone has indeed added a protocol for the Kratt to expand outwards towards the Coalition, largely prioritizing former Horde worlds. Sin is able to clear these instructions, as - NPC@annpc#557 - well as set Coalition lifesigns and signatures as friendlies Sin@crystyl does so, and tries to re-identify the hidden mystery ship as an imminent threat to the Kratt NPC@annpc#557 | As she does so, she notes that there are a number of other groups set as friendly already. These include Hades and the Silverblood, the Progenitors, Iconians and Nuhar, and also some - NPC@annpc#557 - unfamiliar ones, including strange high-tech signatures that are most likely the mystery ship and its inhabitants Sin@crystyl instructs the Kratt to defend the device against these signatures at all costs and tries to match it to the signature in the system, recalling all advances to defend against this threat NPC@annpc#557 | Sin just manages to finish doing this when five flashes appear around her and five more suited beings appear NPC@annpc#557 | Suited Figure 1: "Step away from the control console. Now." Sin@crystyl doesn't let on that she's already done it, and plays for time. Stepping back as instructed and raising her hands, "Woah, easy there fellas. Or girls, kinda hard to tell in those suits. If this is - Sin@crystyl:- about your friends I can say with absolute conviction that I have no idea what happened to them or who boiled their blood..." NPC@annpc#557 | All five figures raise an arm. Their suits seem to shift and transform as they do, forming a weapon on their wrist. Before they can do anything else however, the doors around the room open and - NPC@annpc#557 - Kratt stream in, opening fire. The figures seem to be protected by energy shielding as each of them are hit at least once but don't go down. They turn away from Sin, returning fire on the - NPC@annpc#557 - Kratt now pouring into the room NPC@annpc#557 | Red antiproton beams shoot out from the weapons that form on their wrists. As some of the Kratt get close, the beams turn into a form of red energy dagger, much like the wristblades of the - NPC@annpc#557 - Dunishai Sin@crystyl reaches out with both hands, conveniently already partway stretched out, and tightens a psionic field around each of them like compressing their suits and pinning them down under high gravity NPC@annpc#557 | Four of the suited figures are pinned down, but a fifth fights back, seemingly possessing psionic ability as well. However, the figure's struggle against Sin distracts them from the Kratt, one - NPC@annpc#557 - of which closes in, clamping a large claw around the figure's arm and snapping it backwards. This breaks the figure's concentration and allows Sin to overpower them Sin@crystyl presses her current rather than switching to something new, focusing the crushing force like the depth of the ocean around them NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, the Kratt continue to fire on the immobilized figures, breaking through the shields of one figure and scoring several hits on the armour directly. All five figures disappear into - NPC@annpc#557 - tachyon transporter flashes again and the Kratt stand down, ignoring Sin even though she is now fully visible. Her friend/foe adjustments seem to be working Sin@crystyl turns to the console, trying to determine the status of the mystery ship NPC@annpc#557 | Through the console, she sees that the Kratt have tracked the transport signatures to their source. She doesn't have to instruct them to use an unstable warp bubble as they seem to have - NPC@annpc#557 - figured it out for themselves, directing one at the mystery ship and unveiling it... --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the Aethon's bridge... NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Something's happening in orbit. Kratt ships are on the move." Rianni@crystyl turns from the console she's currently pacing at, "Have they detected us?" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "I don't think so...they're not moving towards the planet." Rianni@crystyl:"Oh stars, don't tell me they're mobilizing another invasion fleet already..." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "One of them just fired an unstable warp bubble...another ship's appearing on sensors!" Rianni@crystyl:"The mystery vessel?" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "It must be, I've never seen a ship of that configuration before. It's certainly not Kratt." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "The Kratt are surrounding and engaging the vessel.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Prepare to bring all systems back online, Sin must have snapped the Kratt out of it so let's get her back and get out of here" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, tapping her console, "We are unable to transport Sin out from within the Progenitor ship, but we will be able to beam her back once she is out, as long as she is not wearing the - NPC@annpc#557 - helm. Shall we instruct her to exit the ship so we may extract her?" Rianni@crystyl:"No, we may still be unrevealed and Sin knows the mission. Stand ready to depart, and expect her imminent return" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, "Understood Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "The mystery ship has fired a salvo of chroniton torpedoes and disabled three Kratt ships. Make that two destroyed from a Nuhar antiproton beam." Rianni@crystyl:"If nothing else the Kratt have numbers. Continue analysis and find me a weakness in that ship. Right now, we won't make any difference up there but if we can figure out a crack in their defenses..." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, "On it." NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "One more Kratt ship has been destroyed and two others disabled. They've punched a hole through the encirclement and seem to be trying to flee the system." Rianni@crystyl:"Are the Kratt pursuing?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Guardian nods, "The closest pair have just been disabled but the entire fleet is attempting to pursue. The mystery ship is accelerating to warp." Rianni@crystyl:"Probably for the best" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Warp 5...Warp 9...Warp 16. The Kratt are breaking pursuit and returning to the system." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "The Kratt cannot match speed and must have realized pursuit was pointless." Rianni@crystyl:"Much as I dislike seeing an enemy escape, if they are capable of standing their own against all those Kratt and escaping at such speeds... we certainly wouldn't have made any difference. At least - Rianni@crystyl:- this way, they don't have any confirmed ID on us or how we got to the Kratt" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "I wasn't able to find any obvious weakness, but I did find something..." Rianni@crystyl steps over, "Something is better than nothing" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria points out the readings, "That ship has a different quantum signature from our universe. It's the exact same signature as the alternate reality Defiant." Rianni@crystyl:"The odds of that being a coincidence are damned near impossible I think. But all this gives us is more questions..." NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria nods, "Every universe has its own unique quantum signature. If that ship is giving off the same signature as the Defiant, that means it must come from the same universe as the Defiant." Rianni@crystyl:"And given the stark differences, this just further proves the theory that the connection between our universes is more than it seems" NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria taps her console, "There's some parts of it that seem to give off the signature of our universe too, but most of the ship is different. I think it's likely the ship originated from - NPC@annpc#557 - that universe, but has been repaired, maintained or refitted with some material from our own." Rianni@crystyl:"Makes sense. If nothing else, this is some valuable intelligence on the enemy. When we get back, I should be able to run the whole engagement through the holo-CIC and draw out some of the finer - Rianni@crystyl:- details" NPC@annpc#557 | Suhani nods, "It'll be very useful to have. Something tells me we'll be running into them again in the future..." Rianni@crystyl:"My thoughts exactly. What's the status of the Kratt now, can we do anything to assist them?" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "The Kratt seem to have mostly settled back into defensive positions and patrols. A few ships are towing the disabled ones to their stations and collecting the debris of the - NPC@annpc#557 - destroyed vessels." Rianni@crystyl:"I just hope now that Sin was successful not only here, but in calling back their invasions..." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "I suspect if she is able to affect the Kratt here, she will have been able to affect the rest of their people as well, unless the control device has a range limit. Shall we extract her - NPC@annpc#557 - now, or give her more time?" Rianni@crystyl:"Call her back, we've nothing to hide from here now" NPC@annpc#557 | The Dunishai comm officer nods, sending the order to Sin. Several minutes later, Vusal announces, "We have transporter lock on Sin." Rianni@crystyl:"Good. Bring her back and begin our ascent as soon as she's on board" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods and taps his console saying after a moment, "Ensign Sin is back on board." NPC@annpc#557 | The Lupan pilot gets to work and the Aethon lifts off, emerging from the surface of the ocean and disappearing through the clouds of the Kratt world... --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the VF bridge, sixteen hours have passed since receiving the reports that the Kratt ships are now on the way. The VF waits in the defense formation alongside the other Coalition vessels, - NPC@annpc#557 - including the Sovereign-class Midway NPC@annpc#557 | The bridge works away quietly as they ready for battle. Lennie's sensors light up as they begin detecting Kratt at extreme sensor range Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "They'se just enterin' sensor range now Cap'n" Keelah@crystyl nods, "Monitor for numbers and approach vectors" NPC@annpc#557 | Lennie sees twenty-three Kratt ships moving towards the Widhar system... Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Up to 23 so far, on a direct course for th'Widhar system" NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "No detailed scans of them yet, but they do seem to be a match for the ships that survived our last encounter at the Corporate colony." Keelah@crystyl:"Makes sense" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "We have a hail from the Midway, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Pall appears on the viewscreen, "This the same group you fought last time?" Keelah@crystyl:"So far as we can tell at this range, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall nods, "We have more ships this time. We can hold them off if they attack immediately, but we're going to have trouble once that second group gets here." Keelah@crystyl:"We'll do all we can, but there is no sense in throwing everything away. Once the evacuation is complete, we should be prepared to withdraw as soon as the tables turn" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Agreed. Shame as it would be to lose the Nuhar sites here, all our lives are too steep of a price to pay." NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Uhh...Cap'n? The Kratt just changed course." Keelah@crystyl:"New heading?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "320-mark-91. Back towards their own space." Keelah@crystyl:"Wait, they're... turning back?" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "We're seeing the same here. Could it be a ruse, to throw us off or something, then circle around us and attack when the second group arrives?" Keelah@crystyl:"Maybe they've got a sensor read on us and decided to wait for the second wave to arrive so they can hit us all at once - that I could believe. But then... why turn around, why not just stop?" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "I don't know. And if they wanted to be discreet about boxing us in, they wouldn't have charged into sensor range to begin with." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed... I think we should hold our ground for the moment while we figure out what they are up to. I could send the QanwI' to catch up and tail them, but I'm not convinced it's worth breaking the- Keelah@crystyl:- line for yet" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Captain, I have a report from the USS Trinity. They've been tailing the second Kratt group and say that the fleet has suddenly turned back for Kratt space as well." Keelah@crystyl:"Fleets on two seperate fronts both turning around and setting course for Kratt space at the same time? This is no coincidence" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Sounds like they've been recalled back for some reason." Keelah@crystyl:"Something may have happened with the Aethon. But even if they needed to call ships back to deal with them, that wouldn't warrant two full fleets" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Might be time for QanwI' to tail them and find out why." Keelah@crystyl nods, "If the Aethon does need help, they're the best ones to get it to them in time" she looks to her side, "Tee, let Captain Vix off the leash" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, tapping her console and sending the instructions NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "We'll maintain the rest of the defense line, in case they come back." Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed, we can't leave anything to chance here" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Let me know if you learn more before we do, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course Captain, you'll be the first to know" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Some more hours pass as the Coalition fleet waits in formation above Widhar. The QanwI' reports nothing of note, only that the Kratt are maintaining their course home NPC@annpc#557 | TQ breaks the silence, announcing, "We have communications from the Aethon, Captain." Keelah@crystyl sits up, "The Aethon? On screen, and patch the Midway in" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, getting to work. The bridge of the Aethon appears on the viewscreen, with Rianni, Emma and the rest of the bridge crew present along with Jatila Keelah@crystyl:"It is good to see you all in one piece. When we saw the Kratt turn around we feared the worst" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni smiles, "It was... interesting. But I can confirm that the external influence controlling the Kratt has been neutralized" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Is that why they're turning back?" Keelah@crystyl Rianni looks to the other side of her viewscreen, "That is correct Captain. The Kratt are... guided by a Progenitor control device hidden away on their current homeworld. We learned from Hades that - Keelah@crystyl - after the Progenitors abandoned the Kratt experiment, they left them with the mandate to simply protect this thing, presumably so that had the potential to evolve over time into sentient life on - Keelah@crystyl - their own or something" she looks back to Keelah, "It was another one of those mystery ships, Captain. Like the one that attacked the Challenger. They were using the Kratt" Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "Why am I not surprised..." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I'll give you all the details when we get back, but you should also know that this particular vessel bears the same quantum signature as the Defiant" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "The Gallant Defiant?" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni tilts her head, "I... suppose so?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "The Defiant has been renamed, Rianni. It is now the Gallant" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Aah, of course. Then yes Captain, the Gallant Defiant!" Keelah@crystyl:"Well at least we now have a safe bet as to who is responsible for bringing it here, though the question remains as to why" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall nods, "I'm told all the information that can be recovered from its computers has been. We'll go over them carefully. If they're from the same universe, even if we don't learn their exact - NPC@annpc#557 - motivations, any insight could be helpful." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "We were able to observe them in an extended confrontation with the Kratt here too, so I'm hopeful of gleaning more once we get back and I can analyse in the CIC" Keelah@crystyl chuckles, "No rest for the wicked, but you've all more than earned a good break from the sounds of it" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "We need to stop back with the Silverblood on our way home to you. Ketkolep was there and wanted to spend more time with Sin, so we'll take our time to accommodate. This victory was - Keelah@crystyl:- thanks to her after all. Oh! And you can tell Kelly that her theories about amplification of the helm effects were correct!" Keelah@crystyl:"I'm sure she'll be glad to hear it. Great work out there - all of you - we'll await you in the Widhar system" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni smiles and nods, "Thank you Captain, we'll see you there" and disappears from the screen Keelah@crystyl leans back and smiles, "You know... I think that girl's out to put me out of a job" she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Pall grins, "Hey, we've all got to retire someday." Keelah@crystyl:"I just hope she lets me get there first... Well Captain, it sounds like we can breath easy here now. I suggest we recall the evacuation and begin resettlement work" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall nods, "I'll tell the evacuation ships to get the Widhari back to their homes." Keelah@crystyl:"And now at least we can take some time to properly get to know them" NPC@annpc#557 | Pall: "Indeed. I'm looking forward to it, Captain. For now, let's get them settled back in." Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed Captain, let's get to work"
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NPC@annpc#557 | On the Aethon's return journey, they stop by Ha-at to return the helm to Hades' collection... NPC@annpc#557 | Like before Sin beams down in her suit along with Rianni and Emma. They are escorted through the caverns by the Silverblood Mischa clone again, soon arriving before Hades' throne, where his - NPC@annpc#557 - Silverblood replica sits NPC@annpc#557 | Hades: "I see you have returned the helm. Have you resolved the situation with the Kratt?" Sin@crystyl steps forward and nods, "They are back to their usual selves, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Hades: "I hope the helm has served you well?" Sin@crystyl:"It was indeed. Invaluable really, as we would have never been able to get to their control device without it" NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa: "And who were the ones that turned out to be controlling the Kratt?" Sin@crystyl turns to fake Mischa, "That's still an interesting question. They've been encountered before, but nobody knows who they are - some temporal war faction, shadow government, something like that. - Sin@crystyl:- Basically just a bunch of idiots from all over the galaxy with sticks so far up their arses you could use them as lollipops who think they know what's best for everyone" NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa pouts, "Now I wish I can be away from Ha-at for longer so I can teach them a lesson or two. Sounds just like my kind of work! I imagine the other me's probably having fun unravelling - NPC@annpc#557 - their plans." Sin@crystyl laughs, "Please. I still think the other you is their ringleader" Sin@crystyl | Rianni smirks, "Jealous?" Sin@crystyl scowls. Or pouts? It's hard to tell under the EV suit... NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa: "I wouldn't discount that possibility. But if she is, I won't give her away," she smirks NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, Hades rises from his seat, heading over to retrieve the helm Sin@crystyl holds it out to him, "Thanks, again, for your help" NPC@annpc#557 | Hades takes the helm, "We shall keep it safe here. If you ever have the need to use it again, you have but to retrieve it from us. You and your people have done more than enough to earn the - NPC@annpc#557 - right to use this device." Sin@crystyl:"I'll keep it in mind, but I prefer not to rely on such things" NPC@annpc#557 | Hades: "An excellent attitude. Ketkolep will approve." He waves his hand and several serpents slither out of a nearby Silverblood pool. "Speaking of whom...follow my serpents and they shall - NPC@annpc#557 - take you to him." Sin@crystyl watches, "Next time, we need to talk about your PR. 'follow my serpents' is just..." shakes her head, "... just no" she jokes, following them anyway of course NPC@annpc#557 | The snakes slither on, leading Sin to a room where she finds Ketkolep in his bipedal form, hovering cross-legged NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Welcome back, Sin. I have been observing your recent adventure from afar." Sin@crystyl smiles at the sight, "you look like something from, well, so many ancient mythologies. Just need a half dozen more armsâ€¦" she chuckles, "It is good to see you a- wait, you what? You've watching me? - Sin@crystyl:- Not in the sonic shower I hope..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep settles on his feet, "No, in water, not a sonic shower," he smiles. "The water on the Kratt world, to be precise." Sin@crystyl:"Well that's a relief. I don't exactly have Mia's perfectly designed vocal circuits even with the acoustics in there..." Sin@crystyl:"So you've been keeping an eye on us out there. That's... reassuring I guess" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Yes. You have passed the Final Judgement, but as I am sure the Q have already reminded you, your trials are far from over. You have seen what you face next." Sin@crystyl:"The interlopers who were manipulating the Kratt" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep nods, "The Continuum does not allow me to tell you more of them, but you do not need an Ascended to know the threat they pose." Sin@crystyl:"True enough. Still kinda surprising though. I mean, after the galactic barrier dropped and all, I expected the true threat we were being prepared for was coming from beyond this galaxy" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Patience. You are not in a hurry to confront every threat to your galaxy at once, are you?" Sin@crystyl chuckles, "Well, maybe not all at once. Wouldn't want to run out of entertainment now would I?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep smirks slightly, "As would the Continuum. Now that I have the energy to travel on my own once again, I shall be departing this place soon. But before I do, let me teach you something, - NPC@annpc#557 - in exchange for all you have done for me." Sin@crystyl:"More words of wisdom? I'll admit, I'm a little curious ever since you mentioned wanting to talk last time we came through" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Not quite. You have the Witch for cryptic words now, do you not?" NPC@annpc#557 | He strides up to Sin, "I was thinking of something more practical." Sin@crystyl turns, watching him and clearly curious NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "You are fond of affecting the blood of your enemies, aren't you?" Sin@crystyl:"Eh, you got me. My people have a capacity for manipulating things on a subatomic level. Boiling blood gets results quickly with minimal effort is all" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Have you ever attempted to manipulate the environment around you? Not of an entire planet of course, you are not strong enough for that yet. With the barrier dispersal however, you - NPC@annpc#557 - should be strong enough for this. Reach out around you. Manipulate the atoms into nitrogen, oxygen, something you can breathe in." Sin@crystyl centres herself, closing her eyes in focus like the time she first woke Ketkolep Sin@crystyl:rolls 33 (1-100) NPC@annpc#557 | After a few seconds, she hears Ketkolep speak, "A good start, but this is no boiling blood. You cannot rely purely on instinct. You are making too much oxygen. It is breathable, but not optimal." Sin@crystyl thinks about what she is doing and tries to adjust her balance to the more complex optimal mix NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Excellent. I thought you would be capable of this. Open your eyes, but do not remove your helmet." Sin@crystyl opens her eyes, looking around NPC@annpc#557 | Sin sees no difference around her NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "What breathable environment you have created has quickly dispersed around you. Now you must learn to contain what you have made." NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "First, form a barrier around yourself to prevent the atmosphere outside from passing through." Sin@crystyl waves a hand in an arc around herself, clearly practiced with that much NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep smiles, "Very good. Now convert the atmosphere around you again, while maintaining the barrier." Sin@crystyl takes a deep breath, focusing on the multitasking NPC@annpc#557 | Sin manages to keep the barrier up while converting the environment around her! After a few more seconds, Ketkolep says, "Now, take off your helmet, but maintain your focus." Sin@crystyl slips it off, not even hesitating or doubting the conditions she's created NPC@annpc#557 | Sin finds that she is able to breathe the air without the helmet on! Sin@crystyl breathes deeply, "An interesting application of the skill. Had I thought of this before I needn't have messed up my hair with that helmet" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "It is not so simple. This is the easy part. As of now, you have a few minutes of breathable air. Useful for an emergency, but hardly a replacement for your suit." Sin@crystyl hrms, "Fair point. But with practice I'm sure I could master the art of maintaining a constant conversion within the bubble" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep nods, "Yes. You will need to practice, and utilize different methods depending on the situation. There are two main ways for you to maintain the conversion. The more straightforward - NPC@annpc#557 - method is to convert the air you breathe back out into breathable air once again, but there is a limit to how much you are able to recycle. It will suffice for shorter durations, but it will - NPC@annpc#557 - also become more difficult if there are multiple people within the bubble, particularly if they are of different physiology." Sin@crystyl hrms, "You... difficult sounds like hard work. You mentioned another method?" she asks, slipping her helmet back on for now NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep nods, "Even our abilities have limits. You cannot create something from nothing. The amount of matter and energy within the universe always remains constant. We are not gods, despite - NPC@annpc#557 - what less enlightened beings may think of us. To convert more atmosphere, you will require more substance to convert. The second method is by no means easy, but it is more sustainable." NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Open a small gap in the barrier, and constantly convert what passes inside into breathable atmosphere. Every once in a while, you may need to vent some exhaled substances back out. - NPC@annpc#557 - It will be complex and draining, especially when you are unfamiliar with the process. But you will have a breathable atmosphere circulating through your bubble for as long as you are able to - NPC@annpc#557 - maintain the cycle." Sin@crystyl refocuses and gives it a try Sin@crystyl:rolls 20 (1-100) NPC@annpc#557 | Sin opens a gap in the barrier, but quickly begins having trouble keeping up with converting the external atmosphere that is seeping through the barrier NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "Keep the gap smaller for now. It may not provide enough new substance, but it will be more manageable when you are just beginning." Sin@crystyl nods and tries again NPC@annpc#557 | With a smaller gap, Sin finds it more manageable, though it is still quite draining and a lot of things to juggle her focus with Sin@crystyl smiles proudly, "Ok, so difficult can also mean more rewarding! Who knew..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep smiles back, "Greater effort yields more gains. You may not be able to keep this up for long yet, but keep practicing. The potential is present, especially after the additional power - NPC@annpc#557 - you have been given following the barrier dispersal. You only need to become more familiar with the process." Sin@crystyl:"Rearranging subatomic matter is a lot more challenging than exciting it. But the possibilities..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep nods, "I taught you this technique specifically because it is most relevant, given our current environment and your last mission underwater. I am glad you see what I truly wished to - NPC@annpc#557 - show you- the potential of differing applications of your abilities, and of combining them to achieve new results." Sin@crystyl:"I'm curious to where I can go with this now" she nods, "Thanks for the pep talk. So what's next for you now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "I will do as I did before I settled- travel this universe and see what new developments have arisen since I slumbered. There may be much yet to see before the end. I do not know if - NPC@annpc#557 - I will meet this particular version of you within this quantum reality again, but the chances of your ascension have increased since our last meeting," he smiles. "That bodes well." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, The Witch has given me a new optimistic outlook on the prospect" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "I trust she will guide you well, and show you the right path to ascension." Sin@crystyl:"We'll see. She seems to be for it, and giving good advice so far" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "I hope to encounter you again, when you are able to travel the universes as I do. Until then, I am glad the Witch is doing fine work." Sin@crystyl:"I'll be sure to look you up" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "I am sure you will know how to find me when that time comes. Until then, practice what I have taught you, and be creative in the applications of your abilities. You may accomplish - NPC@annpc#557 - many things you did not think possible." Sin@crystyl:"Don't you worry, I'm sure I will!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep smiles, "And best of luck against these new dangers you now face, Sin." Sin@crystyl:"Thanks, I'll be sure to put your teachings to good use. You know, not /just/ boil blood all the time" NPC@annpc#557 | Ketkolep: "I am glad to hear it."