The Valley Forge deploys research teams across the Sphere to give the crew something to focus on other than the conflict with the Horde, but some of these expeditions make unexpected discoveries...
Keliaya@anncaris | A week after the Lander One's return from its mission to the Hyrokee homeworld, Keelah receives a comm call from Vue-En on her ready room computer Keelah@crystyl taps, turning her attention to the screen Keliaya@anncaris | Vora's visage appears on the screen, "Keelah. Whatever your people did is working. We've got multiple Corporations reopening trade with us over the last week." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "I'm glad to hear it" Keliaya@anncaris | Vora: "A few of them are taking the opportunity to renegotiate, but the repair and resupply efforts should be back on schedule soon. And the renegotiations aren't necessarily bad, either." Keelah@crystyl:"That is good news indeed. The sooner we get things moving the better, lest the Architect find more ways to try and delay us" Keliaya@anncaris | Vora nods, "In other news, we've equipped a good number of Carrans with the implant already. They're ready to set out soon to lead the next wave of reinforcements through the subspace - Keliaya@anncaris - corridors. Still plenty more ships needing to finish repairs or waiting for additional Carran guides, but you can expect some additional support in about a week or so." Keelah@crystyl nods, "I will inform the battlegroup commanders so they can prepare deployments for them" Keliaya@anncaris | Vora: "Things are going well inside the Sphere with the forces you have, I hope?" Keelah@crystyl:"They're not going badly at least... But in reality it is little more than a stalemate at present" Keliaya@anncaris | Vora: "At least the vanguard haven't been driven out of the Sphere, so...could be worse. I doubt the next wave'll be enough to make much of a dent in the Architect's forces, but if nothing - Keliaya@anncaris - else it'll strengthen our position in the Sphere in preparation for the final push." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Just as important while the Architect continues doing the same" Keliaya@anncaris | Vora nods, "Agreed. We'll get the rest of the Coalition forces ready as soon-" Keliaya@anncaris | The comm abruptly cuts Keelah@crystyl 's brow furrows and she leans in, tapping to check the cause of the cut Keliaya@anncaris | It seems the ship's external comms has suddenly gone out Keelah@crystyl heads out to the bridge to see what's going on Keliaya@anncaris | On the bridge, TQ is similarly checking her console, trying to find the root of the problem Keelah@crystyl heads over, "Tee, what's the situation?" Keliaya@anncaris | TQ: "I'm diagnosing the issue now...looks like there's a power relay that's out somewhere." Keelah@crystyl:"A shipboard failure? Then why haven't the redundancies kicked in?" Keelah@crystyl moves to the engineering station to investigate Keliaya@anncaris | Keelah finds the issue quickly- it seems the specific redundancy for comms is down as well, and both have 'Maintenance' as the listed reason Keelah@crystyl turns to Kelly, "Were you aware of this?" Keliaya@anncaris peers over, shaking her head, "No, we'd never schedule maintenance on a system and its redundancy at the same time. There must be a mistake, give me a moment to check." Keliaya@anncaris taps away on her console, "The maintenance for the power relay was scheduled for tomorrow. As was maintenance on the gravity plating on deck 11, which has been done. Someone's definitely mixed - Keliaya@anncaris - up their schedule. Looks like...Crewman Bertolini." Keelah@crystyl hrms, "I want to believe it was just an innocent mixup, but in our present situation we can't leave anything to chance" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I'll have him report to sickbay for a checkup and get that power relay back up myself." Keelah@crystyl:"Very well. Then we will have to review maintenance scheduling, as even a simple mixup should not be allowed to bring primary systems offline under any circumstances" Keliaya@anncaris:"Understood. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again, Captain." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Let me know how you get on" and returns to her office Keliaya@anncaris | A short while later, the external comms comes back on, and not long after, the doorbell to the ready room sounds Keelah@crystyl:"Come in" Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra steps inside, "Captain." Keelah@crystyl perks a curious brow, "Not the officer I was expecting. What brings you to the bridge, doctor?" she asks, inviting her to sit with an open hand Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra takes a seat, "It's about the crewman who was sent to sickbay." Keelah@crystyl:"Bertolini? You found something?" Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra: "No, if I had I'd have called you down to sickbay. It's an honest mistake brought on by simple stress. We're only people, after all." Keelah@crystyl:"Well that's a relief. You had me worried there for a moment" she smiles. "But still, there must be something about his visit to have prompted you to stop by" Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra: "Because it's far from the first case like this I've seen. Last week, the ensign who almost scratched the paint on the side of the Foundry that Vrolmacht sent down to me- also stress. - Keliaya@anncaris:- And I've had multiple people show up looking for hypos to deal with headaches, tiredness, insomnia, all brought about by elevated stress levels. It's this situation, Captain, I've seen it before. - Keliaya@anncaris:- Maintaining a line of defense, being on alert for an attack at any time, staring down the enemy day in and day out...it's not good for the crew." Keelah@crystyl sighs and nods, "I know, I've lived it before myself. It's one of the reasons I am so eager to bring this to an end, but we are on our own here - no Starfleet replacements coming to relieve us, no - Keelah@crystyl:- crew rotations, just us and our allies" Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra: "We won't be much good to anyone if the crew keeps making mistakes like this. The Architect's forces are pretty much centred in the middle of the Sphere, and we don't need every single - Keliaya@anncaris:- hand to repel those minor strikes he's carrying out. The crew could use something to distract them from this war- I'm not talking about shore leave, but most of us are scientists and explorers - Keliaya@anncaris:- and we've got a whole Dyson Sphere out there. Send some of the runabouts to the surface and the other archives, it'll give the crew something else to talk about other than the Horde. And if we're - Keliaya@anncaris:- lucky, we might even dig up something that can help end the war sooner." Keelah@crystyl thinks for a moment and smiles, "Alright, we can do that. But we must consider extra precautions for the survey teams as they will be especially vulnerable" Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra nods, "We'll have security along with the survey teams, I know they can use a change of scenery too. Or do you mean sending some of the Nuhar fighters with the runabouts so the have some - Keliaya@anncaris:- protection on the way as well?" Keelah@crystyl:"I mean both; security on the ground and in the air. As to the details, I will happily defer to Vrolmacht's judgement" Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra: "Sounds good to me. I know it's risky, but the crew can definitely use some diversion." Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed, and they are all perfectly capable of handling the risks" Keliaya@anncaris | Kazra nods, "We're all here in the Sphere already, after all." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Indeed. Well, I look forward to seeing what our teams turn up" --- Ann Carter@anncaris steps into their quarters after finishing her duties for the day, "Hey Lennie!" Lendaria@crystyl looks up with a smile, "Heya Sweets!" Ann Carter@anncaris smiles back, "I take it ya were probably one o' the first to hear 'bout the survey teams the Cap'n's sendin' out?" Lendaria@crystyl nods, waving the PADD in her hand, "Ya knows it! Now I got e'eryone clamourin' t'get out there!" Ann Carter@anncaris plops herself down on the sofa beside Lennie, "Thought as much! A lot to see an' explore out there in the Sphere!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah! Can't say I ain't lookin' forward to a change o'scenery. Ya on for runabout duty?" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Yup! So, which place ya thinkin' o' visitin'? Wait, lemme guess...down to the surface to check out all the different wildlife down there?" Lendaria@crystyl grins, "Y'got me! Though them genetics archives're pretty high on mah list too. Wha'bout youse? Anythin' take ya fancy?" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Think the surface sounds good to me too. Nothin' like some fresh air! So, wanna head down there together?" Lendaria@crystyl grins, "Gotta be some perks t'all this rosterin', right!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris grins back, "Tha' there is! Think ya can invite Tee an' Tiah along? I know it's a survey mission an' not shore leave, but I think Tiah 'specially would like the surface." Lendaria@crystyl:"I'm-a sure I can find a reason. Explore her 'sixth sense' stuff in th'wild or somethin'" she chuckles, updating the roster accordingly Ann Carter@anncaris chuckles, "Good thinkin'! An' Tee can tag along too 'cause of her connection to Tiah!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Aight then, I'll-a get th'assignments out then we can get goin' ourselves" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Sounds good! See ya at the runabout?" Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Sure thing!" --- Ann Carter@anncaris:FX | Ann's runabout, carrying herself, Lennie, TQ, Tiah and two security escorts, makes their landing on a field on the Sphere's surface Lendaria@crystyl:steps out after the redshirts, taking in the fresh air and pleasant setting Ann Carter@anncaris:steps out as well, looking to Tiah as she exits, "More room for ya tails now! Don't run out too far, though!" Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah steps out cautiously, wary of the strange environment at first. But her eyes soon brighten, "Everything is alive!" she declares with glee, tails bristling with excitement Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles, "Thought ya'd like this place!" Lendaria@crystyl:| TQ: "Don't worry, I'll make sure she doesn't wander too far" Lendaria@crystyl:smiles as TQ heads after Tiah, nodding to one of the security escorts who makes a point of keeping an eye on her as well Ann Carter@anncaris:steps up to Lennie as Tiah wanders off, "I'm likin' the change o' scenary already. An' Tiah's definitely likin' it too!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Y'know, I think it might be th'first time she's been in a natural environment 'sides th'arboretum since we met her" Ann Carter@anncaris:"I remember her bein' on Belyia with us. Or well she appeared near the end o' our stay, an' there were some pretty natural environments there! But don't think she's been out an' about on a proper - Ann Carter@anncaris:- natural world after tha'..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh yeah, we was so spread out there f'so long I often forget e'eryone else were there too. Never did see much o'Tiah through all tha', wonder wha' she got up to..." Ann Carter@anncaris:"Same...don't remember seein' her 'round till the last bit o' our stay. Maybe we should ask her sometime!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, jus' don't expect a straight answer" she chuckles, "Anyways, we oughta get a lay of th'land" she begins scanning for points of interest Ann Carter@anncaris:"Exactly wha' I was thinkin'! So how long's the Cap'n given us down here?" Lendaria@crystyl:"No fixed timeframe as we'se in range of th'ship. So team discretion" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Great! We got lots o' time to enjoy down here, then!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lennie's scans detect a number of larger lifeforms around the plains. They seem to have landed near the edge of one of the Sphere's biome changes, and not far from here Lennie also picks up the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- presence of a large forest Lendaria@crystyl:points, "Well speakin' o'Belyia, there's a big ol' forest over tha' way. Could start headin' out tha' way an' see these biome transitions in action" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Good plan! We wanna make sure Tiah's headin' in the right direction, or think Tee's got tha' in hand?" Lendaria@crystyl:looks around some before she smiles to see TQ running around with Tiah-fox. She calls out and points, Tee & Tiah start heading that way too Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles as well and begins heading over towards the forest, "Almost forgot she can do tha' now." Lendaria@crystyl:"S'why it's a good thing t'get her out here. Nobody really knows wha' she can do, not even Tiah herself" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Yeah! Maybe she'll figure out wha' else she can do in a natural environment like this!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lennie's tricorder soon picks up a herd of large lifeforms moving in a direction that crosses paths with them Lendaria@crystyl:"Maybe! I'm-a jus' glad t'see 'em both happy. Can't be easy on Tee either, bein' all soul-bonded an' th'like to a frisky fox of all- hm..." she checks her readings, "Ooh c'mon, this looks like a big- Lendaria@crystyl:- herd ahead" Ann Carter@anncaris:grins at the frisky fox description before following on. Before long, the herd comes in view, looking like a wave of brown rolling over green grass in the distance Lendaria@crystyl:"Wouldya jus' look at tha'..." Lendaria@crystyl:| Even Tiah settles - probably to catch her breath - as she and TQ joins the others again to observe Ann Carter@anncaris:"Ya can't even see a sight like tha' on a lotta inhabited planets..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Too true. So these must be some o'them ancient endangered species preserved 'ere I guess" Ann Carter@anncaris:| As the herd draws closer, the individual animals become more distinct. They seem to have bodies that are overall reminiscent of horses, but some sprout deer-like antlers, and they have the shaggy - Ann Carter@anncaris:- hair and humps of bison, though the humps give the creatures more of a camel-like appearance. Lennie's tricorder does not recognize the creature and it has not been catalogued before in the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- database, though they do have several traits that are similar to those known species they visually resemble Lendaria@crystyl:dutifully captures all the data Ann Carter@anncaris:| The herd passes rather close to the group, showing no sign of fear, likely due to the large size of the herd and because the team isn't doing anything that seems aggressive Ann Carter@anncaris:"Reminds me o' the horses on Nimbus, but with antlers instead o' a horn." Lendaria@crystyl:"S'a think o'beauty ain't it" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Tha' it is! Wonder if those are rideable like horses, but probably can't tame ones tha' are already roamin' wild like this." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, could be tricky tamin' one outta a herd. But I heard a rumour tha' Rianni tamed a wild beast out 'ere, so ya never know! Maybe if we find a loner or small pack" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Really? She did tha'? Gotta talk to her 'bout it sometime. Maybe bring her along on our next survey..." Lendaria@crystyl:"I did consider it, but she's in kinda high demand as one of th'few who's already been out an' about down 'ere, an' it woulda been unfair t'monopolize friends for mah own party" Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "True, an' it's nice havin' Tee an' Tiah down here with us!" She looks to TQ, "Enjoyin' the fresh air as much as Tiah is?" Lendaria@crystyl:| TQ looks to Tiah and smiles, "I'm not sure anyone can enjoy it as much as she does, but yes - it is wonderful!" Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles as well, "Always nice to be out in nature, isn't it?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| After a short while, the herd moves on and the team continues towards the forest Lendaria@crystyl:| TQ: "I don't do it often enough!" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Only so many opportunities when we're livin' on a ship, after all! Least we got the Arboretum, Tiah's probably reeeal glad it's there, aren't ya?" she looks to Tiah Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah smiles, "Tiah has lots of fun there!" Ann Carter@anncaris:"But still not quite like bein' in a place like this." Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah nods seriously, "The arbor-eat-them is nice but it still never smells right" she looks up, "Here the sky looks wrong, but it smells right! The galaxy is a strange place..." she shakes her head Ann Carter@anncaris:chuckles, "Tha' it is. I guess this place isn't /fully/ natural still, but it's natural enough!" Lendaria@crystyl:"I guess it's been left for so long that it's essentially become a true natural habitat" Ann Carter@anncaris:"True! Hard to tell tha' this ain't just the surface of a planet without lookin' up or anythin'." Ann Carter@anncaris:| The forest comes into view in the distance, but they find their path cut off by a ravine. Ends of a bridge can clearly be seen along both sides of the ravine, but the middle part seems to be - Ann Carter@anncaris:- retracted Lendaria@crystyl:"Huh, wonder if there's a way tâ€™reactivate it" Ann Carter@anncaris:takes out her tricorder, checking around, "Rest o' the bridge is definitely in here an' not broken. Just need some way to extend it, but I don't see any obvious panels anywhere..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Aight folks, fan out an' see wha' ya can find" Ann Carter@anncaris:nods and begins searching the bridge end Ann Carter@anncaris:| As she searches, TQ notices an access port for Nuhar drones tucked away at the side of the bridge end Lendaria@crystyl:| TQ points it out, "Hey, check this out! I don't suppose anyone packed a Nuhar drone did they...?" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Unfortunately not..." she steps over, looking at what TQ has found, then over the ravine, "An' there's too many rocks an' trees on the other side to make a smooth landin'. Maybe Mia might have - Ann Carter@anncaris:- some tips if we call her?" Lendaria@crystyl:nods, tapping her combadge to consult Mia Ann Carter@anncaris:| Mia analyzes the data and determines that the bridge is triggered by the local Custodian, but tricorders can be used to send a signal to trick the bridge and forwards the data for the signal! Lendaria@crystyl:thanks her and heads back over with the appropriate tricorder signal ready, "This oughta do it" Ann Carter@anncaris:| There is a mechanical whirl and a clang as both sides of the bridge extend, meeting in the middle and forming a passage for them to cross Ann Carter@anncaris:"Can always rely on Mia!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Bless her little digital socks!" Ann Carter@anncaris:grins at Lennie's comment and begins crossing the bridge Ann Carter@anncaris:| As they move across the ravine, they notice the marked increase of birds in the area, which were present in the plains but much more numerous in the ravine and the forest beyond, as many of them - Ann Carter@anncaris:- take flight from the trees and those that aren't seen can very clearly be heard as they approach. Lennie's scans show that the birds here have very different genetic markers that likely indicate - Ann Carter@anncaris:- a different planet of origin than the lifeforms of the plains Lendaria@crystyl:"This must be a border between biomes. Much more avian life up ahead" Ann Carter@anncaris:| However, the ravine seems to have become a melting pot of the two biomes, as birds of both genetics can be found dwelling within, along with other critters Lendaria@crystyl:"Guess's to be expected wit'em being so close an' all, kinda like a grey order wha' spans th'hard border wit' a mix of th'two" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Wonder if maybe they put this bridge in place to stop the two from mixin' too much. Birds can fly across just fine, but the herds can't jump this big o' a gap." Lendaria@crystyl:"That'd be mah guess. Quite th'curious phenomena all on it's own" Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "This whole landscape's engineered after all, an' the bridge probably retracts for a reason, otherwise they'd have just built a bridge tha' doesn't move. Or not put in this ravine in the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- first place. They probably designed the ravine to be where it is, even though it looks totally natural..." Lendaria@crystyl:"An' I bet it serves a practical purpose as part o'the grand mechanism to all this too" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Seein' how they built somethin' so big like this Sphere, I wouldn't be surprised!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Crossing the bridge, they begin to enter the forest biome, where the life is much more dense than it was in the plains. Small critters are everywhere, with insects and birds making up the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- majority, though there is no shortage of mammals and amphibians around either Lendaria@crystyl:once again begins her studying Ann Carter@anncaris:looks to Tiah as Lennie studies the environment, "We found ya in a heavily forested environment too, if I remember right?" Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah smiles, "Yes, you remember right!" Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles back, "So ya must be right at home here!" Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah hrms, "It is... difficult. That was Tiah's first place, but it was also the hunting ground so very scary too..." Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "I get ya. It's your first home, but it also brings back some bad memories. Guess I'm the same way with deserts myself." Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah nods quietly and thoughtful. Perking up with quick hug from TQ Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles at the hug before looking to Lennie, "Tryin' to catalogue everythin' here?" Lendaria@crystyl:nods, tapping away at her tricorder, "S'a lot t'capture!" Ann Carter@anncaris:looks around, "As I can see!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| As they begin to move deeper into the forest, there is a loud rustle in the canopy above them followed by several leaves and twigs falling down Lendaria@crystyl:scans around, while Tiah is immediately on the prowl to defend her pack Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lennie's scans pick up a large avian lifeform, the size of a humanoid, which has landed on the canopy of the forest. It has the same genetic markers as the other lifeforms in the forest, but - Ann Carter@anncaris:- its DNA is interestingly very similar to the avian Guardian Akasunerrah. They are not identical and thus not the same species, but almost as close to Aka's species as chimpanzees are to humans Ann Carter@anncaris:| The large avian shows no sign of aggression...for now Lendaria@crystyl:watches Tiah, "Ya got a sense o'danger there or wha'?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| It definitely gives Tiah the sense of a predator, but not one that is on the hunt right now Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah: "it is a hunter. But it is not hunting" Lendaria@crystyl:"Maybe it's trying to size us up as strangers in it's territory" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Might be! It's not attackin', an' hopefully it won't have reason to. Might still be a good idea to keep our distance, case it gets hungry." Lendaria@crystyl:nods, "No arguments 'ere. Stay sharp folks" Ann Carter@anncaris:| The team proceeds further, and the avian leaves them alone, but Tiah begins to sense a feline predator stalking them... Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah continues to prowl, dropping into her vulpine form and leaping high into the canopy above Ann Carter@anncaris:| One of the security crewmen looks at Tiah as she jumps up, then turns to TQ, "What's she doing?" Lendaria@crystyl:| TQ: "She's on the defensive. She might be vulpine, but well, there's a reason for all those tails. Ever heard of a flying squirrel? She's kind of like that, at her best leaping and gliding up high" Lendaria@crystyl:surmises, "So she senses a threat and moved to defend herself" Lendaria@crystyl:| TQ: "To defend her pack; us" Lendaria@crystyl:looks to the security, "I trust her judgement, check your targets - we don't want any friendly fire, or you'll have her to deal with!" she points to TQ Ann Carter@anncaris:| The security crewmen nod, drawing their phasers and looking around. Meanwhile, the feline predator prowls behind the cover of the undergrowth. One of the redshirts spots the movement and turns - Ann Carter@anncaris:- but not fast enough to aim his phaser before the feline begins to pounce... Lendaria@crystyl:'s instinct is to protect Ann, while Tiah would be looking to soar down and intercept the feline mid pounce, when it's most exposed Ann Carter@anncaris:spins around when she hears rustling, holding her phaser at the ready but Tiah is much faster and manages to intercept the feline mid-pounce! Lendaria@crystyl:watches the chaotic rustling in the undergrowth as Tiah finishes her kill before emerging - tails high and proud - as she nuzzles around TQ's legs Ann Carter@anncaris:"Good work, Tiah! Thanks." Ann Carter@anncaris:| Security Crewman: "Wow...she's a lot tougher than she looks." Lendaria@crystyl:| Tiah rises back up, holding on TQ and smiling proudly while her tails still swish behind her, "Tiah's soul is bound to protect Kwaylah!" Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles at the proud Tiah before looking to the crewman, "Just wait till ya see the energy bolts she can make..." Ann Carter@anncaris:| Crewman: "Energy bolts?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah... an' don't get in th'way of 'em" she chuckles Ann Carter@anncaris:| Crewman: "I'll keep that in mind..." Ann Carter@anncaris:looks to Lennie, "Let's keep goin'. Think we're pretty safe from the natural predators with Tiah around!" Lendaria@crystyl:"May well be, but we shouldn't get complacent either. An' I don't wanna put undue pressure on her or anythin'" Lendaria@crystyl:| TQ smiles, "We appreciate it" Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "I'll keep my eye out for anythin' tha' might be followin' us." Ann Carter@anncaris:| The team continues to proceed through the forest, moving more warily now... --- Mana@anncaris | Elsewhere on the Sphere, Mia and Mana land at the technological archive with a team of engineers and scientists... Mana@anncaris | Stepping out from their shuttle, the facility seems similar to the other archives from the outside, but as they enter, they can see that the lobby is clearly different, almost resembling a - Mana@anncaris - museum with various pieces of technology on display around it. The centrepiece of the room are two large arches of an inactive Iconian gateway Mia@crystyl looks around, "Well that is certainly a visual statement" Mana@anncaris | A Nuhar service drone swoops down from a hatch in the ceiling, causing their security escort to jump Mia@crystyl:"Do not be alarmed. It is a service drone, nothing more" Mana@anncaris | Drone: "Hello! Welcome to the Technological Archive." Mia@crystyl:"Ooh this one has already adapted a linguistic interface, handy!" she smiles at the drone, "Quite the intuitive little one aren't you!" Mana@anncaris | Drone: "Oh, this drone is simply serving as a speaker. I am the Curator of this facility." Mia@crystyl:"We understand. So this is the Technological Archive, we surmise then that it's purpose is similar to that of the other archives and preserve the technological accomplishments of the species who are- Mia@crystyl:- also preserved in this sphere?" Mana@anncaris | Drone: "That is correct. We cannot preserve every single technological achievement, of course, and a multitude of civilizations develop technology that is functionally identical. This archive - Mana@anncaris - preserves the technology that has been deemed unusual enough that they are unlikely to arise in the same form should the culture be reseeded and restart its development." Mia@crystyl:"Ooh, most curious then! Does your archive hold recovered examples of said technology, technical data, or a mix of both?" Mana@anncaris | Drone: "A mix of both. We keep samples where possible, and store data where it is not." Mana@anncaris | The drone hovers over to one of the engineering officers' tricorders, "Interesting..." Mia@crystyl giggles, "We suppose it is only natural that you are interested in our technology!" Mana@anncaris | The drone flies out to the landing pad, holding position before the runabout for a few seconds before it makes a full circle around the craft, all the while facing it Mana@anncaris | When its circle is complete, it returns to Mia, "Have you come to recover your equipment?" Mia@crystyl tilts her head, "You hold examples of this technology already?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "That is correct. Do you wish to reclaim it?" Mia@crystyl:"This should not be possible. Please could you indicate it's location so we may investigate" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "Of course. Please, follow the drone." Mana@anncaris:"Well...this is an interesting development." Mia@crystyl:"Indeed. Even the earliest Starfleet technology of this format is no older than we are. We surmise that either this is a parallel development of that era, or the result of a temporal anomaly" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "It is neither. This piece did not come to me during the initial preservation phase, and I have detected no temporal signatures." Mia@crystyl:"When did it come to you?" Mana@anncaris | The drone leads them through rooms and rooms with various pieces of technology on display, some bearing familiar shapes and others looking completely alien Mana@anncaris | Curator: "It appeared approximately 2.17 years ago by the Iconian calendar, 4.51 years ago by the Nuhar calendar. It was discovered active in another part of the Sphere and disabled by a - Mana@anncaris:- defense drone and subsequently brought to one of the Foundries for examination. When it was deemed that the technology was not a danger and presently inert, it was transferred here for storage." Mia@crystyl turns to Mana, "Oh oh oh! That might be the exploration probe sent through the first gateway by Ms. Lennie! We do not know the intricacies of the Nuhar or Iconian calendars, so can not say with - Mia@crystyl:- certainty, but the approximation is in range!" Mana@anncaris:"That is a possibility! Mana was not present there, but this account does match up with what Mana has been told!" Mia@crystyl:"It is presently the only explanation we can conjure for modern Starfleet technology being within this sphere, when the Valley Forge is the first Federation ship out this far" Mana@anncaris | Mia's theory is soon confirmed as the drone leads them into a room where a damaged Starfleet probe is indeed seen suspended in anti-gravity, with a blackened hole on its outer casing marking - Mana@anncaris:- where it was hit by a defense drone Mia@crystyl smiles, "This /is/ it! Oh what a wonderful surprise!" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "Excellent. You are welcome to take the technology with you." Mia@crystyl:"That is most kind of you Curator, this will be very important to our crew! Do you also have information on the exact location within the sphere where it appeared?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "I do." The drone hovers over to a console and plugs in. A holographic map of the Sphere appears, highlighting the location where the probe was found Mana@anncaris | Curator: "This is where the defense drone disabled the probe." Mia@crystyl records the data, "Thank you" and cross checks against the current warmap Mana@anncaris | The location is in the midst of a number of industrial facilities on the Sphere, mostly managing Omega generation and power levels Mia@crystyl analyzes and turns back to the speaker drone, "Tell us Curator, do you have knowledge of the current state of affairs within the sphere?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "I am aware of the basics of the situation from new data acquired by the Preserver, which was imparted to the Librarian and shared to the other archive AIs." Mia@crystyl nods, "Well this location you showed us is in an extremely dangerous position. Can we do anything to mask its presence until the conflict is resolved?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "To conceal the presence of this entire region of the Sphere? I am afraid that is beyond my capabilities." Mia@crystyl nods, "Of course. But perhaps something could be done to hide the presence of the external gateway there and records of this technology's encounter?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "I can contact the library to lock data of this technology's encounter. The external gateway could be retracted into subspace, but once again that is beyond the capabilities of the - Mana@anncaris - archives." Mia@crystyl:"Understandable. What facility does have such capacity?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "The gateway control microsphere, the Seeker of Stars Sphere, Facility I64, Facility R15, Facility Z98 and the gateway control itself for direct override of that particular gateway." Mia@crystyl beams, "Thank you very much Curator! We believe we have all necessary data to report on these findings now. Perhaps now we can explore the rest of this facility?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "You are welcome to explore the facility and access data on any of the technology on display. Please inform me if you wish to remove a piece from its display or download data from the - Mana@anncaris - archive, with the exception of your technology here, which you are already permitted to take with you." Mia@crystyl:"Of course. If you wish it, we would welcome your continued companionship as we explore!" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "I will be glad to assist you and provide explanation if desired." Mia@crystyl:"We think that would make for a most welcome addition to our exploration!" looking to Mana, "don't you think so Ms. Mana?" Mana@anncaris nods, "Yes, someone to explain what is being seen will certainly be very helpful!" Mia@crystyl:"And it is always nice to meet other AI!" Mana@anncaris smiles, "Indeed! Are there AI technology preserved in the Archive as well?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "There is! No other AI aside from myself is active, of course, but we did preserve unique AI coding and shells created by endangered civilizations." Mia@crystyl:"That could be an interesting place to start. We are already very well versed with Nuhar coding, so we are curious to examine other examples from that era" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "Nuhar AI were the most advanced of that era from what I am aware of, but other examples are also very interesting to study. Follow me." Mia@crystyl beams excitedly and skips around to follow Mana@anncaris | The drone leads them to a different room, this one lined with walls filled with blinkling lights, "AI data is stored in the database here." Mia@crystyl:"May we access?" Mana@anncaris | Curator: "You may use any of the consoles lined across the room. Please do not download any of the coding without informing me first." Mia@crystyl nods, "Thank you" while Miadrone hovers over to the console to investigate Mana@anncaris joins Miadrone as they browse through the various AI coding stored within the ancient archive... --- Ann Carter@anncaris:| As Lennie's team continues through the forest, Tiah spots a large dead reptilian creature... T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah prowls over to investigate Ann Carter@anncaris:| The reptilian appears to have been taken down in a fight. There are claw marks across its abdomen, and it was finished off by the predator's jaws clamping down its neck. Its horns appear to be - Ann Carter@anncaris:- broken off, and not in a natural way, but severed clean off as if cut with a laser or other kind of energy tool. There are also numerous other marks on the creature that was clearly not made by - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the predator and it is clear that the corpse has been ravaged by scavengers. The reptilian must have died almost a whole day ago, and the body is crawling with insects now T'Quila@crystyl:rolls 6 (1-100) Ann Carter@anncaris:| Unfortunately, the smell of the decaying corpse and the scavengers that feasted on it leading up to now has diluted the smell so much that TIah is unable to discern what originally made the kill, - Ann Carter@anncaris:- only that the way the horns were removed was clearly unnatural T'Quila@crystyl:watches Tiah circle around in frustration, "Interesting. She thinks the creatures horns were removed, but not in the fight" Ann Carter@anncaris:steps up, examining the body curiously, then looks to the circling Tiah as well, "Huh, tha' is weird." She takes out her tricorder, scanning the stumps where the horns were T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie joins her, "Whatcha got Sweets?" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Pickin' up faint traces o' plasma residue. They were severed with a plasma cutter I'm guessin'. But it was killed by some kinda natural predator." T'Quila@crystyl:"A plasma cutter? But why then would they be left here after being removed like that, it just doesn't make any sense" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Or maybe not a natural predator. Whoever killed it doesn't seem to have ate any o' it, the bites were taken out by much smaller mouths- an' beaks. Scavengers were the only one tha' actually dined - Ann Carter@anncaris:- here." She takes a step back as the circling Tiah scampers around the corpse again T'Quila@crystyl:"Well I didn't exactly expect a natural predator to be using a plasma cutter" she smiles Ann Carter@anncaris:looks to Tiah, "Mind if I take a closer look?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah looks up at Ann briefly with that slightly magical looking sparkle in her eye before backing up, circling around and laying beside TQ T'Quila@crystyl:smiles, kneeling and holding an arm around her Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles as well, "Thanks." She steps up to the corpse and kneels down beside it to examine it Ann Carter@anncaris:"Looks like a five digit hand...long curved claws, good for diggin' into prey an' stayin' there. Interestin', one digit's quite a bit lower down than the others. Bite's real strong, must've been - Ann Carter@anncaris:- enough to even snap this thing's neck." She begins counting with a finger along the bite mark on the reptilian's neck T'Quila@crystyl:watches curiously as Ann works, not used to doing such things without a tricorder Ann Carter@anncaris:"It managed to get a full grip on the neck, so tha's handy. Count 'bout...forty odd teeth, but there's a few gaps in between 'em, so it's lost a couple. Guessin' it's over forty total, with a jaw - Ann Carter@anncaris:- length o' almost thirty centimetres. The way the lower digit's placed reminds me o' opposable thumbs, specifically in species like Caitians, but feline species don't usually got so many teeth." Ann Carter@anncaris:stands, "It's canine, big, got sharp claws tha' work as hands an' have plasma cutters. Only one species 'round here tha' fits this description..." T'Quila@crystyl:"Lupan..." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "Tha' ain't good" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Ya think they might be ones tha' were here all along, or ones tha' came with us?" T'Quila@crystyl:"I wouldn't put it past them to come out hunting when they got bored waiting for more fights" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "True, but we oughta make sure" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Even if they're just huntin'...think we should let 'em? I mean this is practically a wilderness now, but everythin' tha's here is here cause they're endangered or already extinct elsewhere..." Ann Carter@anncaris:"If they kill off too many, we could lose whole species." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie nods: "Exactly, we gotta make sure o'wha's goin' on so we can straighten' it out" Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "Let's keep lookin' 'round, see if we can find any other kills or some tracks or somethin'." T'Quila@crystyl:& Tiah follow. Tiah is definitely more on the hunt now as she tries to follow the Lupan's trail Ann Carter@anncaris:| It takes a little bit due to the trail in the area having been muddied by various visiting scavengers, but as they walk away from the corpse, Tiah is soon able to identify and follow the Lupan's - Ann Carter@anncaris:- tracks specifically! T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah picks up pace. TQ: "She's onto something!" Ann Carter@anncaris:leans over to examine the trail Tiah is following, "Yup, those definitely look like Lupan tracks. Good work, Tiah!" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah gives a happy yip, spurred on by the encouragement Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles and follows Tiah, "Glad we brought ya along! Hope runnin' into Lupan here ain't brinin' back too many bad memories, though..." T'Quila@crystyl:"She sees this is her chance to prove how she's grown now and isn't afraid of them anymore" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Tha's a good way to see it!" she looks to TQ. "So, ya can understand her even when she's in the fox form? Or is it some kinda telepathic communication?" T'Quila@crystyl:"It's closer to a telepathic link she formed with as part of this bond thing" T'Quila@crystyl:"Though I have gotten better at reading her when she's like this too!" Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "So she's not so much talkin' with you as you're...interpretin' her thoughts for us?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah turns her head back, giving another yipping sound T'Quila@crystyl:"Hey, I have too!" she protests to Tiah T'Quila@crystyl:chuckles, "It's a bit of both. But even non-sentient mammalian life often use verbal communication in some form. I think the bond just allows me to better understand it" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Tha's true, but it takes knowin' 'em real well to be able to figure out wha' they mean, an' even then we can make mistakes. I mean, we can even make mistakes interpretin' the emotions o' our own - Ann Carter@anncaris:- species, let alone another!" T'Quila@crystyl:laughs, "So true! Well, it's one thing we don't have to worry about. Even when we're apart I have a sense of her" Ann Carter@anncaris:chuckles, "Telepathic bonds are certainly handy!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| After a bit of following the Lupan's trail, she soon finds a point where there are multiple tracks from multiple different Lupan in one area T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah begins circling the area, trying to make sense of all the tracks Ann Carter@anncaris:| With a little investigating, Tiah is able to determine that this seems to be where the Lupan split up, with several going different ways, including the one that killed the reptilian before. She - Ann Carter@anncaris:- identifies the direction they came from, where multiple different Lupan seem to have arrived together, though they seem to have gone back separately T'Quila@crystyl:relays all this while they continue to follow Ann Carter@anncaris:"Definitely lookin' like a huntin' party..." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie nods: "Guess this's somethin' Keelah's gonna have t'take up" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Yeah. Don't envy her job here..." Ann Carter@anncaris:| As Tiah tracks the trail further, Lennie begins to pick up tech signatures in the distance on her tricorder which matches modern Lupan technology T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "Looks like their camp's up ahead" Ann Carter@anncaris:| The forest begins to thin around them the further they follow the trail... Ann Carter@anncaris:"Guess they're campin' outside the forest, probably right on its edge. 'S where I'd go if I came here to hunt..." Ann Carter@anncaris:| Indeed, as they begin to exit the forest, the sight of two Lupan shuttles and two fighters come into view, around which a small camp has been made. Multiple Lupan lifesigns can be detected within T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah, back in her normal form, hangs close by TQ's side as they approach Ann Carter@anncaris:looks to Lennie, "Think we should go say hi, or?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "Well, we've come this far. May as well" Ann Carter@anncaris:| As they approach the camp, two Lupan with rifle slung behind their backs step out to greet them Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lupan 1: "Well well, we weren't expecting to run into other Coalition out here." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "I were gonna say th'same thing" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lupan 1: "Quite a coincidence." Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lupan 2: "Or maybe this great forest attracted you here too?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "O'course. Though somethin' tells me y'all ain't here f'study" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lupan 1: "You're here for /study/? Must be from the Colonial Fleet. Or that Mothership." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie shakes her head, "Th'Valley Forge actually" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lupan 2 points to Lennie's combadge, "Look at their emblems, fool! They are clearly from the Starblade!" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie grins, "Tha's th'one!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lupan 1: "Ahh, so that's where you're from! Well, if you are only here to study, I'm sure the Second will allow you to stay. But let's take you to him first." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie nods, "Sure" Ann Carter@anncaris:| The two Lupan lead the group further into the camp, one of them calling out, "Batak! We have visitors from the Starblade!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| A yellowish-brown furred Lupan emerges from a tent, looking over the group, "I am Batak, second of the Kerak Pack." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "I'm-a Lendaria. This's Ann, T'Quila an' Tiah" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak's gaze focuses on Tiah, "Tiah? You have a pet Tiah? How did you ever manage to tame such a fierce predator?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah tenses and snarls at the Lupan T'Quila@crystyl:holds her tight, looking to Batak, "You are familiar with her kind, how could you recognize her?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Quite a feisty little one. Our pack used to hunt on the world where they are found, for those of us prestigious enough to be offered a chance when we mature, of course. We lost seven - Ann Carter@anncaris:- hunters during my hunt. I remember it clear as if it were yesterday, my brother and I standing back to back, the last ones standing, drenched in blood and rain." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "Tha' still don't explain how y'know 'er. Far's we knew, none's ever taken a form like this b'fore her. Let alone talked wit' anyone" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "I have never seen them in such a form either, nor heard one talk. I doubt I know this one specifically, I did not recognize her until you named her as Tiah. That is also the name we know - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the species as, though where the word comes from I am not aware. Perhaps long ago one of them was tamed by Lupan and spoke with us, or perhaps we learned it from our creators long ago." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah snarls, "Tiah can not be tamed by wildlings!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "But the Starblade managed to tame you. And coax you into imitating their forms as well." T'Quila@crystyl:"We did nothing of the sort! Tiah is our friend and- she's an equal, not some tamed beast" holds her defensively Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Is that so? That is even more unusual. The Tiah possess strength far beyond Children species like yours. I am surprised she has not hunted down your crew without you having her under some - Ann Carter@anncaris:- form of control." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tial grows more tense, tails flicking anxiously, "Tiah will happily hunt the hunters!" T'Quila@crystyl:holds her tight, "It's ok Tiah, don't let them get to you" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "It does seem like you do not have her entirely under control. How do you prevent her from hunting you?" T'Quila@crystyl:"I told you, she is a cherished friend and a member of the crew" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah snaps, "Tiah only defends her pack!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak tilts his head at Tiah, "You mean to say you are not a hunter at all?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah shakes her head, "Tiah does not hunt. Tiah only protects" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Is that due to the influence of the Starblade crew? Or were all Tiah ever only defending themselves and not hunting?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah: "Tiah never hunt. Tiah only protect" T'Quila@crystyl:"So yes, her kind never hunted. They do not exist in corporeal form as we do normally, so when they chose to they only ever defend themselves" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Huh. I thought they evolved their abilities because they were the alpha predators." T'Quila@crystyl:"No, it was protect their pups" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Interesting. So if she is no hunter, then I assume you are not here to hunt?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "No, we came here to study and learn about the endangered lifeforms who are preserved here" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Was this how you learned so much of the Tiah?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "In a roundabout way. We was on an unrelated survey when we happened across one o'ya huntin' parties by chance" T'Quila@crystyl:hugs Tiah tightly, "They killed Tiah's parents in front of her when she was just a young cub..." Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "And that was how she ended up with you?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah gives a firm nod, "Yes! Kwaylah became Tiah's bondmate after she protected Tiah" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Interesting. You...bond with others not of your species?" T'Quila@crystyl:"We think Tiah is the first to do so" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Because of the special circumstances you found her in?" T'Quila@crystyl:"That's the theory" she nods, "The Lupan hunt for their coming of age rites, yes?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Yes, that's correct." T'Quila@crystyl:"Well taking corporeal form - when you hunt them - is like that for Tiah's people. That and when they are newborn are the only times we know of. Your brethren killed her family when Tiah was coming - T'Quila@crystyl:- of age. She should have taken her natural form and bonded to them. But instead, she bonded with me and took her current form as a result" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Ahh, that explain why she took the body like the Children. No doubt the Sisterhood would be interested in this new knowledge." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah snarls again, "Hunters do not care for knowledge! Hunters only hunt!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Hunting and learning is not mutually exclusive, you know. Even the Sisters hunt, and we warriors learn many things in our lives." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah: "Only things to help you hunt more!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Not always. I doubt I will face another Tiah in battle again. That does not mean I do not wish to learn more about your kind." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah: "Is that you hunt the endangered beings in this forest? To learn more about them too?!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "The Architect's attacks are few and far in between, and these lush environments are here. We cannot stay cooped up in our packships awaiting the next assault forever. That is why you are - Ann Carter@anncaris:- here as well, is it not? Children or Lupan, even the Tiah if I am not mistaken, we are not meant to be locked in starships forever. We are not Nuhar, we are living beings, and we cherish the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- presence of other beings, whether to hunt or study or simply live among them." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah: "Tiah understands the need be around the living" smiling proudly, "Tiah even knows the pleasure of learning!" frowning again, "But hunting for entertainment makes no sense, and Lennie says - T'Quila@crystyl:- the life here is rare and precious, like Tiah. So if you hunt it even a little, it will be gone forever!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Is that true? Life seems very plentiful here." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie: "Do you not know the entire concept of this place?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "We thought it was a large park cultivated by the builders of the Heart of War for those who worked within to live on, hunt in, and do with as they will." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie shakes her head, "Just like the archive where we found th'Iconian an' all them genetic - T'Quila@crystyl:-records o'species wha' went extinct to th'Horde; these biomes were made t'preserve life from them worlds too. Is all one big reserve o'extinct creatures" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "You mean these environments are all archives? I assume you have come to ask us not to hunt here, then?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie nods: "In essence, yes. Pretty much everything in this sphere is" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Hmm. But we are still allowed to camp here, seeing as you have come to the surface as well to perform your studies?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie smiles, "Like Tiah said, we all get the need to get off th'ships. But huntin' these biomes really ain't a good move" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak nods, "We are nomads, and we are always wary of the dangers of overhunting in any single hunting ground. If the species here are in danger, I will restrain my warriors from hunting here. But - Ann Carter@anncaris:- our pack is not the only pack who has seen these lush environments as ideal hunting grounds, and I have no say in any of the others. You will have to inform the other Packships as well." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie nods, "Thanks, I'll call our Cap'n an' see if she can make sure folks're aware. But now we'se 'ere, mind if we joins ya? I'm-a thinkin' both sides got a lotta misconceptions on th'other - T'Quila@crystyl:- 'ere tha's good t'get straight" she looks between Tiah and the Lupan Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak nods, "Of course. You are allies and welcome in our camp." T'Quila@crystyl:| Lennie smiles, "Grand! Will be good t'enjoy a proper camp I reckon!" Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles as well, "Tha' it will!" --- Ann Carter@anncaris:| As the team settles in the Lupan camp, Ann looks to Tiah, "You alright here, surrounded by all those Lupan?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah: "Tiah is fine" her bristling tails and forced gaze ahead tell otherwise Ann Carter@anncaris:glances to TQ with concern T'Quila@crystyl:nods in understanding, holding Tiah's hand, "It's ok to not be ok you know" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah gives her a confused look Ann Carter@anncaris:smiles and nods, "Weird as it may sound, she's right." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah looks to Ann, "Tiah does not understand this... ok and not ok" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Well, uhh...how'd I explain this... I guess we're all just people, and we ain't always happy all the time. Sometimes we got stuff on our mind, sometimes we got issues with others. It's all part o' - Ann Carter@anncaris:- bein' alive, y'know?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah thinks a long moment, "Tiah... thinks she understands. But Tiah does not know how to make it better" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Tha' part's...probably different for everyone, an' every situation. Just wha' exactly's on ya mind, if I can ask?" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah: "Tiah... is not even sure!" she sounds frustrated. "Tiah thinks it this place, and these hunters. But they have not hunted Tiah, they did not hunt Tiah's parents. But Tiah's tails still - T'Quila@crystyl:- bristle in their presence" T'Quila@crystyl:| She sweeps her tails across her lap with one arm, brushing her hand across the bristled fur Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "I think I get ya. They might not be the exact ones who hunted ya, but they still look the same an' you naturally associate the two, 'cause y'already learned that they're predators. Doesn't - Ann Carter@anncaris:- matter if it's not the same one, you got an instinct that they're dangerous. I used to be like tha' with Orions, 'specially Orion males." T'Quila@crystyl:"You and Orions, seriously? But you and Lennie..." Ann Carter@anncaris:"Lennie's the one tha' showed me tha' not all Orions're like those from the Syndicate!" T'Quila@crystyl:hrms, "How did you two manage that initially? Maybe it'll help find a way to build a bridge between Tiah and the Lupan" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Well, she noticed I was bein' awkward 'round her, so she came by to talk to me." T'Quila@crystyl:"A conversational olive branch. Well I guess that won't help here unless one of the Lupan makes the first move" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah tenses T'Quila@crystyl:smiles and reassure her, "Not /that/ kind of first move Tiah, don't worry" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Yeah, they ain't here to hunt ya, after all!" T'Quila@crystyl:looks around the camp, "This pack does seem to be rather more... mature, than most we've encountered" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Guess all the ones in the Sphere with us are ones who listened to the Sisterhood 'bout fightin' the Horde an' bein' protectors, so it rules out some o' the wilder an' more renegade packs out there." T'Quila@crystyl:"True enough. Still won't get anywhere with Tiah at this rate though as she'll never start a conversation with them" Ann Carter@anncaris:Yeah...maybe we can try to start a conversation? But then Tiah probably won't join in, would she..." T'Quila@crystyl:hrms, waving to the Second, "Hey so, you seemed pretty familiar with Tiah's kind before. I'm curious; know any stories about them?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak steps over, "A few, yes. Mostly about the prowess of the Tiah in combat." T'Quila@crystyl:smiles, "Feel like sharing one? Might be interesting to hear how the Lupan view Tiah's kind" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Well, there was that one time my brother and I were on the Tiah homeworld. It was a hunt for the strongest child of the Alpha at the time, but he did not survive the hunt. Nine of us - Ann Carter@anncaris:- pursued the Tiah when we finally tracked it down. My brother and I were the only ones who returned. We-" Ann Carter@anncaris:| As he speaks, a Lupan pup emerges from a tent, crawling over curiously towards one of Tiah's tails. He doesn't get far before a Lupan female springs from the tent, grabbing the pup and hoisting - Ann Carter@anncaris:- him up, "Saben, no! Your father says thatâ€™s a Tiah. You should not be provoking a Tiah, even the strongest warrior thinks twice before provoking a Tiah!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak pauses his account and looks over with a chuckle, "That about sums up how we view her kind." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah turns and watches the pair curiously, "They are... afraid of Tiah?" she looks back to Batak in confusion T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah: "But why go to Tiah's home and hunt them then?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Because we seek to improve ourselves, and prove our strength to others of our pack. That is why the hunts are usually for the strongest and most promising child of the pack's Alpha, or in - Ann Carter@anncaris:- some cases a particularly strong and promising young Lupan the Alpha hopes will one day become the new Alpha. They test their strengths against Tiah, to prove their skill as a hunter so strong - Ann Carter@anncaris:- they can take down even the toughest of foes. It pushes the young hunters to their limits, and should they emerge victorious from the hunt, shows the rest of the pack that they are fit to one day - Ann Carter@anncaris:- lead." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah looks back to the young pup as she thinks on this, "The hunters... make their young strong to prepare. Like Tiah... bond to prepare?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "I suppose that is an adequate comparison. The Lupan people are made for battle. We strive to improve through conflict." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah smiles as she thinks she starts to understand too, "And the Tiah are made for love so we strive to improve through bonding!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Yes, exactly. Conflict is a test for us, one we do not always pass. There are many hunts where the Tiah prevails, and the pack does not return until another, more suitable young Lupan - Ann Carter@anncaris:- comes of age. Not all packs choose to hunt the Tiah, but those that do, we do so precisely because we are afraid of you, and that there is every chance we may not be the victors of the battle." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah huffs, "That still does not make it right that you killed Tiah's parents!" T'Quila@crystyl:| She pulls her tails around herself like a blanket, "Nothing will ever bring back Tiah's family who were stolen from her..." Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "My people view life and death differently from yours. We are warriors- we are surrounded by death at all times. By tradition, one of the first lessons we teach our pups is to make them - Ann Carter@anncaris:- understand death, to bring them a small critter that they can kill and devour themselves. That way, they understand the frailty of life, and the permanence of death. We do not fear our death or - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the deaths of those around us, we accept it as fact. No Lupan past the age of maturity does not know someone who has been taken from them in battle or in a hunt, and we prefer it that way. It is - Ann Carter@anncaris:- better for us to die serving our pack and our nature, than it is to live without value. But from our time with your Coalition, we have learned that many Children species do not see things this - Ann Carter@anncaris:- way. So for what it is worth, Tiah, I am sorry. We kill because it is our nature, and many of us only chose the Tiah because we thought you too were alpha predators." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah pouts, turning away and watching the mother and pup again. Muttering audibly in response, "Tiah does not think the hunters would like it if their pups were taken to a strange place when they - T'Quila@crystyl:- are just barely old enough to understand anything. Then watch helplessly while their pack is slaughtered by tooth and claw in front of them" T'Quila@crystyl:holds her tight, looking to Batak, "Tiah was in her vulpine form when we first met. Her brilliant white fur was mottled by splattered blood from her parents falling to your hunters. I am sorry if - T'Quila@crystyl:- is unjustly harsh with you, but these are difficult memories for her to face" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak nods, "I understand. A Lupan pup will likely feel the same if faced with a similar situation. I will not attempt to excuse our people's actions against hers. We understand that what we do - Ann Carter@anncaris:- causes pain and suffering, but that is what we are- instruments of war and death. Predators may protect their own pups, but that does not stop them from hunting others because it is their nature. - Ann Carter@anncaris:- Take one of the felines from this forest, for example. You may capture it, try to tame it, keep it fed and give it all it wants. Perhaps it will be docile for the most part, but perhaps one day - Ann Carter@anncaris:- it will kill you. It has no reason to- it is not hungry, it no longer needs to hunt for food, but it is within its nature." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah nods meekly, "Tiah understands the cruelty of life. She simply does not like it" she reaches down and plucks a trampled flower from within a a big heavy Lupan footprint. Cupping it in her - T'Quila@crystyl:- hands she smiles, "Tiah only likes the beautiful way life flourishes" watching with a sparkle in her eye that almost mirrors the flicker of the campfire, but not quite somehow, as the trampled - T'Quila@crystyl:- flower slowly stands tall again and blooms brightly. She leans in and holds it out for the young pup Ann Carter@anncaris:| The young pup watches with a mesmerized look before taking the flower and running over excitedly to show his mother Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Your abilities go far beyond that of your defensive ones indeed..." T'Quila@crystyl:"We are still only just beginning to understand her true power" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah smiles proudly, "Tiah likes learning new things!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "I am glad you were able to save her from a hunt, and explore the full extent of her abilities." T'Quila@crystyl:"And I am equally glad for the opportunity we have found here for you and Tiah to get to know one another a bit better" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak gives the pup's mother a nod and waves them over, "I do not think this Tiah is very dangerous. To us, at least." Ann Carter@anncaris:| The Lupan female leads the pup over cautiously, though the pup seems more curious than afraid T'Quila@crystyl:|Tiah lowers herself to crouch on the ground with a smile T'Quila@crystyl:"Tiah would never do anything to hurt anyone who showed no ill-will towards her or those around her" Ann Carter@anncaris:| The pup stares at Tiah for a moment before moving to one of her fluffy tails T'Quila@crystyl:| Her tails swish playfully and she giggles as the pup touches it, "That tickles!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| The pup makes a chuckling sound as he steps back, watching the swishing tails with wide eyes before trying to catch one again T'Quila@crystyl:| Her tails continue to swish and Tiah laughs, "Tiah wants to play too!" hopping back and glowing faintly before dropping into her vulpine form Ann Carter@anncaris:| The pup looks with surprise as Tiah transforms, before he steps forward cautiously and pokes at her Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "That looks more like the Tiah we were familiar with. I had no idea they could transform." T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah tilts her head, tails still swishing playfully as she hunkers back before pouncing with a playful little hop towards the pups tail, though she clearly aimed to miss to his side, turning - T'Quila@crystyl:- again in invitation to continue the game T'Quila@crystyl:"Neither did she. This is their corporeal form, and only one to their knowledge. We think that because she bonded with me, she evolved to a mature corporeal form instead of her natural one. So - T'Quila@crystyl:- everything about her since then is unique to her, that we know of. That includes her more recently learned capacity to change back and forth at will" Ann Carter@anncaris:| The pup dodges out of the way before he hops at Tiah's tail, not going easy and actually trying to catch it T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah yips happily and continues the game, playing more seriously with the pup now as the two begin to chase each other around the camp Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak watches the two play with the Lupan equivalent of a smile, "She is quite a marvellous being." T'Quila@crystyl:smiles, watching as well, "She really is" T'Quila@crystyl:| Tiah looks back to TQ happily, sensing the warm affection but dropping her guard and allowing the Lupan pup to catch one of her tails. The two tumble comically T'Quila@crystyl:laughs, "That will teach you not to pay attention won't it!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak and the female Lupan both chuckle at the sight as well Ann Carter@anncaris:also laughs, "Definitely looks like she's warmin' up to 'em!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "Perhaps if the other packs also had this chance to see what the Tiah are like outside of battle, we may move our traditional rites elsewhere." T'Quila@crystyl:"She may always show it so well with her wording and all, but sometimes I think she understands things on a level beyond our very comprehension" T'Quila@crystyl:| Looks to Batak, "Do you really think so?" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak nods, "We will still have to hunt somewhere, of course, but knowing the Tiah for what they are, and not deadly predators...I think most packs will find a different species to challenge - Ann Carter@anncaris:- their prospective leaders." T'Quila@crystyl:smiles, "Tiah and I would happily do anything we can to help make that a reality!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak: "I will be sure to spread the word once we return to the packship, then." T'Quila@crystyl:"Thank you. I feel like all we've done since meeting is impose upon you now though. First with stopping the hunting here, then your hospitality of the camp, now this... If there's anything we can do- T'Quila@crystyl:- in return for your kindness..." Ann Carter@anncaris:| Batak looks to Tiah and the pup, "I think Tiah is more than doing her part with entertaining the pups!" he gives a Lupan laugh --- Lycas@annpc#557 | After Mia's team returns to the ship, they gather with Keelah, Lycas and Kelly in one of the conference rooms to discuss what they've learned Lycas@annpc#557:"Good work, Mia. I estimated that our chances of finding the probe so quickly was low. There was a significant chance that we would never recover it at all." Mia@crystyl smiles, "We can claim no credit really. It was the sphere's own collection of AI's who recovered and protected it!" Lycas@annpc#557:"Impressive. This Sphere has a much higher level of automation than the others we have encountered, thanks to the Nuhar's role in constructing it, no doubt." Mia@crystyl nods, "We believe the nature of this facility as an ark also played a factor, given the intent for it to survive long after it's creators' downfall so future Children could use it to restore" Lycas@annpc#557 nods, "That is likely to play a considerable role in the preservation of the probe, yes." Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "But of course, this has also flagged the location of the connected gateway" Mia@crystyl nods and taps to display it on the holomap Lycas@annpc#557 | Kelly: "There was a small gateway the probe passed through to get here, and a much larger one we saw on the feed before it was disabled. The larger one must be the one seen here on the map, - Lycas@annpc#557:- and the smaller one likely somewhere inside the facility the probe was disabled in." Mia@crystyl:"We estimate this to be the location, based on extrapolation of the probe's recordings and the timing intervals" Lycas@annpc#557:"All the gateways are still presently inactive while the Architect is using the power for his control over the Horde, but the fact that this gateway leads directly back to Forged Earth is certainly - Lycas@annpc#557:- a matter of concern." Mia@crystyl | Keelah nods, "Indeed. Though it could also be an opportunity, perhaps?" Lycas@annpc#557 | Kelly: "What're you thinking, Captain?" Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "Reinforcements" she replies simply Lycas@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "We can't activate the gateways just yet without diverting power away from the Control Station and reverting the Horde back to their original selves, but we /could/ try to hold the - Lycas@annpc#557:- area until we're ready to oust the Architect. Then, we might be able to activate the gateways and bring in reinforcements through them." Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "I was hoping there might be a way for us to use the gateway still. Given that we managed to power the other end previously" Lycas@annpc#557: "With a sufficient additional power source, I believe we should be able to power up the smaller gateway the probe passed through. However, the ship gateway will not be sustainable - Lycas@annpc#557:- without the energy from the Sphere's omega facilities." Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "Which will not be overly beneficial..." she sighs with resignation, "Well it was something we had to at least consider" Lycas@annpc#557 nods, "The Element One we collected may be a sufficient and very fitting fuel source should we wish to activate the smaller gateway." Mia@crystyl:"But doing so would almost certainly make the Architect aware of the facilities location" Mia@crystyl | Keelah nods, "And that is not a risk worth taking. Not for the small number of resources we might get through. Not yet at least" Lycas@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "That's true, as would moving in to secure the area. We might be able to hold it, but we're spread thin as it is. If he doesn't know about the area and hasn't shown interest in it, - Lycas@annpc#557 - could be better to leave it that way for now." Mia@crystyl:"We have the possibility of wiping records of it from one of these other locations however" she taps again to show on the map Lycas@annpc#557:"I recognize some of these locations. These numbered facilities are not actually present here, many if not all of them are known to exist in layers of subspace, The markers must correspond to - Lycas@annpc#557:- gateways which are capable of accessing them. However, the same functions should be accessible for those particular gateways should we manipulate the gateway directly without accessing some form - Lycas@annpc#557:- of central control." Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "We need to select one as our best opportunity and then formulate a plan" Lycas@annpc#557:"Instead of powering the ground gateway to Forged Earth, we may be capable of powering a gateway to one of these subspace facilities. The one we are aware of was similarly accessed through a - Lycas@annpc#557:- ground gateway on New Romulus, and it is likely we will be able to reactivate one here. These facilities may provide us access to functionalities of the gateways, though the Architect will no - Lycas@annpc#557:- doubt become aware of it as well, and such functionalities will be dangerous should they fall into his hands." Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "What if we confuse the matter by staging simultaneous attempts on multiple facilities?" Lycas@annpc#557:"That is a viable option. After all, the Architect's forces are spread thin as well due to his attempts to maintain a strong defensive line around himself." Mia@crystyl:"We could add to the confusion by selecting facilities based on some other common denominator besides the gateways" Lycas@annpc#557 | Kelly: "A good idea, and it could save us some resources if we aren't activating multiple gateways." Mia@crystyl | Keelah smiles, "I like it. Lure them into false engagements on multiple fronts, to mask our activity. We should try and select non-critical areas. Areas where we can safely preemptively - Mia@crystyl:- sabotage to thin the Horde numbers. After a few false hits, I expect they will withdraw completely from them" Lycas@annpc#557 nods, "I will aid in identifying suitable facilities. I should take charge of the team activating the gateway, but we will require multiple teams to cover all the selected locations - Lycas@annpc#557:- simultaneously." Mia@crystyl | Keelah nods, "We can maximize on our resources by doing the prep work at the dummy locations ahead of time. Use our little excursions as a cover for it" Lycas@annpc#557:"Excellent thinking, Captain. We will make preparations immediately, then." Mia@crystyl | Keelah nods, "Then let's get to work" --- NPC@annpc#557 | After identifying suitable locations to activate, Lycas leads a team to take the one with the gateway to one of the subspace facilities, while Mia leads another to the Forged Earth gateway, - NPC@annpc#557 - while the rest with less specialized teams go to activate similar facilities without gateways to confuse the Horde NPC@annpc#557 | Stepping off their shuttle into the facility, it does not take long until Mia recognizes the place from the probe's footage... NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar steps over towards one of the facility's windows, peering out at the large, ship-sized gateway visible beyond, "This definitely looks like what we first saw of the Sphere." Mia@crystyl:"There is no doubt. This is definitely the place" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Let's go find that gateway." Mia@crystyl:"From the recordings it should be just over there" she looks across the room NPC@annpc#557 | The gateway is not visible across the room, but scans soon detect its presence beneath it, having retracted under the floor Mia@crystyl nods, "There it is! Retracted beneath the floor" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar steps over, scanning, "I wonder why it's retracted. There's an access port here, maybe you can bring it back up, Mia." Mia@crystyl steps up, "It was likely a reaction to an unauthorized activation from outside. A moment" NPC@annpc#557 | Mia sees that it was indeed retracted as part of an automatic security reaction. Moreso, re-extending the gateway would trigger the defense drones to react similar to when they did after the - NPC@annpc#557:- probe came through, which means they need to shut down or set the defensive systems not to target them first Mia@crystyl:"We will have to override the defense systems first again. Attempting to access" NPC@annpc#557 | Mia is able to use her expertise and experience on the Sphere so far to override the defenses so they don't activate! Mia@crystyl:"There! Now we should be able to bring the gateway backup. But be ready, we can never be certain on all the systems here" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Thank you, Mia! We'll be careful. I hope the other teams fare alright without your expertise..." Mia@crystyl:"Well most of them only have to plant charges and power systems to draw attention, so they should be fine!" she giggles Mia@crystyl:"Professor Lycas is with the other critical path team too, so we are certain they will manage" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "I hope so." She steps over to a nearby console, "Let's see if we can bring the gateway up now..." NPC@annpc#557 | She taps away, and a few moments later, the arches of the gateway re-emerge from beneath the ground. Their security escort looks around warily, but no drones appear NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "There!" Mia@crystyl smiles, "Nicely done!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "It says something about insufficient power...guess we'll have to set up our own power source like Kelly suspected." Mia@crystyl:"Indeed" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar steps over, helping the engineers unload their tools and equipment NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "This might take a bit of work, but we should have time. As the Captain planned, this should look like another survey expedition from anyone looking at us." Mia@crystyl:"We will continuously monitor all activity in the region and warn of any variance" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, getting to work on the basic setup of the equipment. Several minutes pass and as the equipment begins to take proper shape, Ziranar wanders back to Mia NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Now for the engineers to do their work." NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar looks to Mia, "Your colour is red, but judging from the era of the uniform, it denotes Engineering or Security, right?" Mia@crystyl smiles, "It does! Just like gold now though, it also denotes Operations" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Ooh yes, of course. And your current role as...executive administrative assistant, was it? That counts as Operations, right?" Mia@crystyl nods, "It does! During the time of our original service we worked mostly as a yeoman. Our present role is very much a modern take on this, accompanied of course by our work with the cadets" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Yes, the 23rd century Yeomans, I've heard about role as well. Modern history isn't exactly my specialty, but I do find all history interesting. Besides, everyone has to learn at - NPC@annpc#557:- least some of that at the Academy. Your program was originally made to teach modern history, if I remember correctly..." Mia@crystyl smiles, "That's right! It is where we inherited the necessary subroutines to be able to teach fully now!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "And you mostly teach modern history now, or a whole variety of subjects?" Mia@crystyl shakes her head, "Non, we teach a full curriculum now!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "That's a lot to teach, but I suppose you can store a lot more information than we can, and access things you don't know quicker. I keep thinking you're an engineering specialist, - NPC@annpc#557:- with the red and all, and how we always count on you for your expertise on Nuhar and Iconian technology. Which isn't exactly modern history..." Mia@crystyl giggles, "That it certainly is not! Perhaps you could think of history and teaching as our avatar's expertise, and computer sciences and AI as our droneshells!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "That makes sense! I sometimes forget that you're also two AIs joined together, too." Mia@crystyl:"Well, we function as a single entity so it is easily done!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "That's why! So your creator was a Yeoman back when these uniforms were still in use, and...you have all her memories up to the point of creation?" Mia@crystyl nods, "Professor LaRouche created our original holomatrix based on all of her lifelong collected data" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "So you were created later, but technically you have the memories of the same era of Starfleet when Emma and Lycas first started their service..." Mia@crystyl smiles, "We do indeed!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "That's a lot of memories! And I thought the officers who remember the time of the synthetic ban had seen a lot..." Mia@crystyl giggles, "Nowhere near as much as Ms. Emma or Professor Lycas still! We have memory of that era, but not the time between then and our reactivation" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "When were you reactivated? And why were you deactivated in the first place?" Mia@crystyl:"Our program was deemed obsolete" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Really? Why? You're still doing a great job of teaching today...among many other things!" Mia@crystyl smiles, "You are kind to say. But at the time a holodeck recreation of historical Starfleet was determined to be not as fruitful as some of the actual restored vessels, and so the academy shifted - Mia@crystyl:- towards using those instead" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Ahh, so they preferred to use actual restored ships as museums or training ships, rather than your program?" Mia@crystyl:"Yes, exactly" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "How did you end up getting reactivated, then?" Mia@crystyl:"Ms. Ann and Ms. Lennie came across our program while conducting research!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Oh! They were the ones that reactivated you!" Mia@crystyl smiles warmly, "Yes, and they were very surprised to find that we were a self-aware program too! It was the two of them who pooled the help of other friends like Ms. Mana to eventually bring us - Mia@crystyl:- together with the little one and be free of the holodeck!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "So that's how you became joined with Mana's drone! An impressive team effort." Mia@crystyl:"It really was. We owe everything to them!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Maybe we should delve into old holoprograms more often. Maybe we'll find more hidden gems like you!" Mia@crystyl:"It is certainly possible!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "So your drone was created for a separate purpose by Mana, then?" Mia@crystyl:"Oui. Our droneshall was built for, well, kind of an artificial yeoman in a way!" she giggles NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar chuckles, "The holoprojection functions though, the ability to make an avatar that can actually interact with the world around you...that was added later to accommodate your avatar when - NPC@annpc#557:- you were joined, right?â€ Mia@crystyl smiles, "Very good! That did indeed come later on when Ms. J'Fojofae sourced for us an Olelian replication node" she indicates the 'nozzle' of the drone shell Mia@crystyl:"And more recently, Ms. Kelly brought in expert assistance to provide us with more sensory perception through the avatar" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Of course, the Olelians! I know them best for the Iconian ruins on their homeworld and their culture and religion, which are likely connected. But they have excellent holographic - NPC@annpc#557:- and cybernetic technology as well." Mia@crystyl:"Their holographics are actually fairly standard. Their replicators and nanotechnology are what actually create that illusion" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Ahh, that makes sense. So your avatar uses a mix of replicated matter and nanobots to create the physical form?" Mia@crystyl:"Not quite. The replicator creates our avatar projector - in here" she hold a hand to her chest, "That in turn maintains a two-way connection with our core in the drone shell while maintaining our - Mia@crystyl:- avatar through a means most likened to Starfleet replicators. This creates and adjusts the body of our avatar!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "A very complex process. No wonder your avatar is so advanced and impressive! Can you take on different avatars if you wanted, or do you only hold the...replicator pattern, if you - NPC@annpc#557:- use something like that, for this one avatar?" Mia@crystyl:"This is the only complex lifeform we hold sufficient data on. Though we can make minor cosmetic 'disguises', albeit lacking the sensory detail. We can also produce tools and equipment, subject to - Mia@crystyl:- energy reserves of course" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Very useful! No wonder the Captain likes having you along for so many away missions." Mia@crystyl:"We know she does not like using us in many missions, given that we are technically considered a civilian crewmember. But we like to get out and explore, and if that means that we sometimes get to - Mia@crystyl:- help protect our friends too, then all the better!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "And your expertise on these Iconian and Nuhar systems are unmatched, except for maybe Professor Lycas! So how are you finding working with ancient advanced technologies like this? I - NPC@annpc#557:- might be an archaeologist, but usually most of the technology we recover is either simple or inert. Rarely do we find facilities so expansive and still functional like these Iconian ones." Mia@crystyl:"We too find the Iconian aspect to be very new and unfamiliar. The Nuhar feel almost like family after all we've been through now, so having that element here has really helped us get a foothold - Mia@crystyl:- with the Iconian AI's" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Yes, the Nuhar role in the construction of the Sphere must be a great help. I wonder if there is any pure Iconian Sphere. The Spheres we've explored so far were all constructed - NPC@annpc#557:- as joint projects with at least one other species, the Solanae Sphere with the Solanae, and while we don't know what other civilization helped to built the Jenolan Sphere, much of the technology - NPC@annpc#557:- there is clearly not of Iconian origin. We didn't even know the Iconians were involved in constructing that until after years of study." Mia@crystyl:"A valid observation that is often overlooked" she nods NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Maybe even the Iconians couldn't complete projects of this scale on their own, which is why they often partnered with other civilizations." Mia@crystyl:"A reasonable deduction. The fabrication alone for a facility such as this sphere is almost unfathomable" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Entire systems must be consumed in order to build land mass of this scale around a star...not to mention all the other resources that have to go into actually shaping the Sphere - NPC@annpc#557:- surface and building all these other technologies that provide the Sphere with its functions. Even if the Iconians had the technology, they might not have had the industrial power, certainly not - NPC@annpc#557:- for all those Spheres that exist." Mia@crystyl:"Yes, even given the estimated life of their Empire we are still unable to effectively calculate a reasonable method by which they built and deployed the galactic sphere network. We can only surmise- Mia@crystyl:- there there is at least one other unseen factor which is not yet known to us" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Indeed. Even though we've learned a lot about them in the past few decades, there's still so much we don't know about them." Mia@crystyl:"We would very much like to unlock the answers! We do not like unresolved equations..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Unfortunately, much of archaeology ends up being guesswork to fill in the blanks where no information is left to find. But hopefully, with so many Iconian facilities around, and even - NPC@annpc#557:- some Iconians themselves still alive, albeit in very different forms, we'll be able to get a more complete picture of their civilization in time." Mia@crystyl smiles and nods, "Oh oui! We never could have imagined having a living breathing Iconian on the ship before!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Me neither! I hear you...cloned her from the Genetic Archive here?" Mia@crystyl:"We did indeed! She was the last living curator of that particular archive" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Does she have any of the original's memories?" Mia@crystyl:"Sadly not, at least nothing specific" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "If only she did...that could clear up a lot of speculation we have on the Iconians. But it's still remarkable to have an original, biological Iconian with us. I never thought we'd - NPC@annpc#557 - see one of them in the flesh!" Mia@crystyl:"It is one reason we are so keen to get this conflict resolved so that we can see what else is within that archive!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Me too. I can't wait to explore all this Sphere has to offer!" Mia@crystyl:"We anticipate many of the crew eventually rotating off the Valley Forge to take up permanent positions here once there is an established Starfleet presence" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Yes, there's so much here to study, and for people of all different fields of study too. I think many people will want to continue or start research on something they find - NPC@annpc#557:- interesting here." Mia@crystyl:"Still, it would perhaps be a little premature of us to start planning for after the conflict just yet" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "True. Still, there's so much to see here, it's hard not to think about it!" Mia@crystyl:"This is where we cherish our runtime capacity so that we may process multiple paths simultaneously!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar smiles, "If only multitasking was so easy for us..." Mia@crystyl giggles at that NPC@annpc#557 | The engineers wave over and Ziranar looks at Mia, "Looks like it's time to start on the connection between the generator and the gateway. Time for me to focus on the work...while you still get - NPC@annpc#557:- to process other things at the same time," she smirks as she moves towards the partially set up generator Mia@crystyl smiles and continues working