As the Valley Forge receives their new mission and prepares to set out, a group of pilgrims barge their way into the Sphere, seeking the reincarnation of one of their deities who they believe to be among the Valley Forge crew...
NPC@annpc#557 | We see an unfamiliar bridge with an industrial look, suggesting an independant freighter of some description. On it are a number of aliens, all displaying the same features indicating they are - NPC@annpc#557 - of the same species. The central figure in the command chair is an older man with balding grey hair, a beard and dressed in robes cut from rather coarse fabric. The rest of the people around - NPC@annpc#557 - the bridge wear more modern-looking clothes and operate the consoles NPC@annpc#557 | Pilot: "We're entering the system, Father." NPC@annpc#557 | Father: "Good. Hold course and speed." NPC@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen, the glow of a distant sun comes into view NPC@annpc#557 | Tactical Operator: "They know we're here. Two Romulan warbirds inbound." NPC@annpc#557 | Comms Operator: "We're being hailed." NPC@annpc#557 | Father: "Hold course. Put them through." NPC@annpc#557 | The same Romulan Commander who greeted the Latenter upon her arrival in Republic space appears on the viewscreen NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Commander: "Unidentified vessel. You are not cleared for entrance into the Jouret System." NPC@annpc#557 | Father: "The Federation will not permit us this holy voyage. Perhaps I could come to an arrangement with you. After all, your people are less uptight than the Vulcans." NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan Commander scoffs, "What a childish attempt at manipulation. I'm a member of the Romulan Republic Navy. I have a duty to guard the gateway, and I will not be bribed." NPC@annpc#557 | Father: "You misunderstand me, Commander. We have little of monetary value to offer you. We are on a humble pilgrimage. We were hoping that you would take pity on us, allow us-" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Commander: "If you desire passage through the gateway, you are welcome to reach out to our government. But until my superiors approve you for passage, I'm under orders not to allow you - NPC@annpc#557 - further into the system." NPC@annpc#557 | Father: "Is there nothing I can do to convince you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Commander: "I am not a sentry standing watch outside some administrative building. I cannot compromise the security of an Iconian gateway. Turn back now, or we will be forced to disab-" NPC@annpc#557 | The Father reaches out his hand and his eyes light up with the characteristic glow of high psionic energy. The Commander freezes in place and several of his bridge crew jump up, one rushing up - NPC@annpc#557 - to her commanding officer as he stumbles back and collapses onto his chair NPC@annpc#557 | Father: "Full speed ahead. We will not let the Romulans stop our pilgrimage." NPC@annpc#557 | Pilot: "But Father, the gateway is offline." NPC@annpc#557 | Father: "I will take care of that. Your task is to get us there safely." NPC@annpc#557 | The camera zooms out, showing the alien craft as it charges into the system towards the two Romulan warbirds. It goes evasive as the Romulans fire, dodging the first few shots before firing - NPC@annpc#557 - back with orange phaser bolts. The Romulans shoot again, this time one of the plasma beams connecting and causing the unknown vessel's shields to flare up, but it rushes past the Romulans, - NPC@annpc#557 - heading further into the system and firing its turrets behind it at the Romulans NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan warbirds spin around, firing several more shots at the vessel as they give chase... NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile in the Heart of Unity, Keelah is gathered in the meeting chamber with the commanding officers of the other Starfleet vessels in the Sphere. Some Coalition representatives are - NPC@annpc#557 - present, but they are seated further back, clearly here to observe rather than participate, at least for the most part NPC@annpc#557 | In the centre stands Admiral Enelya Torin and Fleet Admiral Grigori Yanishev NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "For those of you who have just arrived with Admiral Yanishev, welcome to the Heart of Unity. For the rest of us, I'm sure if you're not familiar already with the Fleet Admiral, you'd - NPC@annpc#557 - have done your research," she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Yanishev: "Don't worry too much about it. I'm not here to stay. I've only just arrived to advise on fleet deployment. Now, with introductions out of the way..." NPC@annpc#557 | He taps a PADD and a holodisplay forms in the centre of the room showing all the Starfleet ships in the Sphere NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The fleet will be divided into two groups," she gestures and the display neatly sorts itself into two sections, with the exception of two ships which still remain in the centre above - NPC@annpc#557 - the projection of the Foundry: USS Enterprise and USS Valley Forge NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The first and smaller part will be headed by the USS Courageous. You will remain in the Sphere and your orders are to aid the Coalition in the safeguarding of the Sphere, maintaining - NPC@annpc#557:- and furthering relations between the Federation and Coalition powers and keeping peace and ensuring cooperation between the other Coalition members if needed. Your specific assignments are being - NPC@annpc#557 - sent to your PADDs. Some of you will primarily serve diplomatic, engineering or research roles inside the Sphere, while others will be patrolling the region outside it." NPC@annpc#557 | Around Keelah, the PADDs of several COs light up with new data and they look down to check it out NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "Formally, the USS Jaresh-Inyo will be the lead vessel of the second group, but you'll be mostly operating on your own or in small squadrons. Your mission is to scout and secure - NPC@annpc#557 - designated regions within what was previously Horde space for reseeding and resettlement. This group will be further subdivided," she gestures again and the larger second group in - NPC@annpc#557 - the holographic display spreads into more even halves this time, though one half clearly possesses mostly classic Starfleet cruisers while the second comprises smaller science ships and frigates NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The cruisers will depart first. Most of you are DSEC vessels or have been DSEC vessels at one point, so this shouldn't be anything new. Your task is to explore the sectors you've been - NPC@annpc#557 - assigned. Perform basic surveys of habitable planets and keep us updated on any danger in the region." NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The rest of you will leave two weeks after the cruisers. You've been assigned systems to perform in-depth surveys in preparation for the reseeding and resettlement process. Your - NPC@annpc#557 - assignments are liable to change depending on reports from the exploration cruisers. Some planets might be beyond restoration, and some regions might be too dangerous to resettle right now." NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "Any questions so far?" NPC@annpc#557 | A captain across the room asks, "If we encounter pirate activity, are we to engage if we determine it to be within our capabilities to do so safely?" NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "Not yet. Any activity is to be reported back to the Coalition. The claims to these regions are only claims at the moment. If the Coalition collectively determines that someone does - NPC@annpc#557 - indeed have a right to that region and someone else still refuses to vacate it- well, we'll deal with cases as they arise, but I'm hoping we'll be able to solve most of them without violence. - NPC@annpc#557 - Right now though, we don't have any right to say who can and can't be somewhere. We're just explorers, nothing more." NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Yanishev: "That said, standard operating protocols still apply. If you receive a distress call and arrive to find someone under attack by pirates, you are authorized to engage." NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Yanishev: "But if they're just camped out on a planet and take no hostile action against you or anyone else, note their presence, report it to us, but leave them be." NPC@annpc#557 | The Captain nods, "Understood, Admiral." NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The specific assignments of the second group are being sent now." NPC@annpc#557 | More Captains' PADDs light up NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Yanishev: "You may be wondering about the two vessels not currently in any group. USS Enterprise and USS Valley Forge are being given special missions. The Enterprise is to proceed - NPC@annpc#557 - past Horde space to where the galactic barrier once stood. You are to travel along a stretch of the barrier and observe, deploying long-term monitoring probes as you go along - NPC@annpc#557 - your route. We don't expect a single vessel or a line of probes along one small stretch of the galaxy edge to catch anything, but it would be irresponsible of us not to try. When we have - NPC@annpc#557 - more vessels to spare, we'll conduct a larger-scale operation on the edge. At the moment, we want at least /some/ eyes out there." NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Shon nods and looks to his PADD as the details come in NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The Valley Forge is being sent somewhere you've already been. Ha-at. You promised the Silverblood that the artifacts will be returned to Hades' collection once the Horde is defeated, - NPC@annpc#557 - and since you were there before, you're the best ship to return everything." Keelah@crystyl gives a slight nod whilst retrieving her PADD, "One question Admiral, what is the planned deployment strategy for the Aethon?" NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "That brings us to the second part of your objective. The Aethon is remaining a Coalition joint vessel as initially agreed. For this mission, it will travel alongside the Valley Forge - NPC@annpc#557 - and QanwI'. Elder Yaseni of the Lupan Sanctuary has been chosen as the spokesperson for the Coalition leadership and personnel from the other factions will be present to operate the vessel; - NPC@annpc#557 - whether you want Lieutenant Tierno to be CO or pass leadership to someone else now that she has a senior position on your crew is your decision. The Aethon's mission is reconnaissance on the - NPC@annpc#557 - Kratt, and if possible, the establishment of diplomatic relations between them and the Coalition. Since Ha-at is inside Kratt space, you're also being tasked with ensuring the Elder gets to - NPC@annpc#557 - her destination safely and assisting her with diplomacy." Keelah@crystyl again nods, "Understood, thank you" NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The Junayd won't be opening a wormhole for you this time, so you'll be travelling at standard warp. You've been to a region along your route while searching for the Aethon, but the - NPC@annpc#557 - majority of it is still uncharted space. As the Silverblood never gave you a deadline for returning the artifacts, you're free to check out anything of interest on the way, at your discretion. - NPC@annpc#557 - It's not an official mission, but we're out here to explore, after all." Keelah@crystyl gives a further silent nod asa she reviews the details on her PADD NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "Any other ques-" NPC@annpc#557 | At the very back, Commander Nadel of the Romulan Republic suddenly stands, "I have report of an unauthorized gateway access from Jouret. They're destination gateway is here." NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Yanishev: "Any idea by who?" NPC@annpc#557 | Nadel: "Single vessel, origin unknown. Lightly armed with phaser defense turrets. It's sustained heavy damage from our ships on the other side." Keelah@crystyl | Lexi chimes in: "Yet it got through?" NPC@annpc#557 | Nadel: "It was built for blockade running. And there was a powerful psionic running interference. That's all I know at the moment." NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "Well this is unusual. We're about done here anyways, everyone get back to your ships. We don't know what exactly is happening yet. If you have any questions about your specific - NPC@annpc#557:- assignments, you can contact me later once this is dealt with." NPC@annpc#557 | The attendees around the chamber begin to stand and file out Keelah@crystyl stands as well, gathering her things ready to head out --- NPC@annpc#557 | On another previously unseen but clearly Starfleet bridge... NPC@annpc#557 | Science Officer: "Commander, a ship is emerging from the gateway." NPC@annpc#557 | A human woman with a red-striped uniform and commander's pips but no white shoulders sits in the captain's chair NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Go to red alert. Lock weapons on the vessel." NPC@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen, a ship appears out of the gateway. Much of its hull is scorched and it has clearly taken heavy damage. One nacelle is gone and the other blinks erratically, crackling with - NPC@annpc#557 - energy. As it flies, it leaves a trail of concentrated plasma exhaust behind from its failing impulse engines NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Well they don't look like they're much of a threat anymore. Analysis?" NPC@annpc#557 | Engineering Officer: "Their structural integrity is at 12% and dropping!" NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Can we reinforce it?" NPC@annpc#557 | Engineering Officer: "Not for long." NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Lifesigns?" NPC@annpc#557 | Science Officer: "Twenty-four. Sensors identify them as Erehelm." NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Reinforce their SIF," she turns to the science console, "Erehelm?" NPC@annpc#557 | Science Officer: "According to our database, it's a more recent addition to the Federation. They attained membership during the Klingon War." NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "So they're likely Federation citizens?" NPC@annpc#557 | Science Officer: "There's no mention of any other Erehelm factions or rogue elements." NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Whatever prompted them to pull this off...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Engineering Officer: "SIF is still dropping! 8%!" NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Can we get a transporter lock?" NPC@annpc#557 | Engineering Officer: "Aye Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Beam them into the brig." NPC@annpc#557 | The engineer types frantically. On the viewscreen, as the damaged ship continues forward away from the gateway, something on it explodes, sending chunks of hull flying. The rest of the hull - NPC@annpc#557 - begins to slowly glow and disintegrate and the ship falls apart, transforming from a vessel to a scattered line of debris before their eyes NPC@annpc#557 | The Commander looks back towards the Engineering console, "Do we have them?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Engineer nods, "All twenty-four." NPC@annpc#557 | Commander: "Good. Let's slow the debris with tractors so they don't crash into anything. I want security-" NPC@annpc#557 | The turbolift door opens and a familiar-looking Klingon steps out, dressed in a CO's uniform with the white shoulders and four pips NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign: "Captain on deck!" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Commander Saliba. Report." --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | Upon Keelah's return to the Valley Forge, the intruder vessel has already collapsed from the damage it sustained. With the crew rescued and being interrogated, the fleet stands down from - NPC@annpc#557 - alert. As the Valley Forge was not involved in the situation, Keelah works away in her ready room making preparations for departure and their new mission NPC@annpc#557 | As she works away, her combadge sounds Keelah@crystyl taps her combadge between keystrokes as she works, "Se'Lai" NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> "We're being hailed by the USS Guan Yu, Captain. Vrolmacht wants to talk to you." Keelah@crystyl pauses, leaning back in her chair, "He must want to send some well wishes before we depart on our mission. Alright, patch it through in here please Tee" NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> "Right away." NPC@annpc#557 FX | Vrolmacht appears on Keelah's screen, dressed in his new Captain's uniform with his own ready room in the background. He smiles, "Keelah. I hope things are going well on the Valley Forge." Keelah@crystyl:"Busy with preparations for departure. How are you settling in there? The Guan Yu is a fine looking ship" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "That she is. The crew is still adjusting to the new senior staff, but it is always a process that will take some time. Fortunately, an Andorian commanding officer is not too - NPC@annpc#557 - different to a Klingon one in some ways. Commander Saliba is a fine first officer as well- she managed the bridge well when we were dealing with the vessel that charged through the gateway." Keelah@crystyl:"So you were the ones who intercepted them. Quite the saddening tale as I understand it, do you know why they were so desperate to get here even at the sacrifice of their means to get home again?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I have some idea. That is why I wanted to speak with you." Keelah@crystyl:"If there is anything we can do to assist, you know I am perfectly happy to do so" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I am not yet certain whether your involvement would be a good idea, but...they came here looking for you, Keelah." Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "For me personally, or for the Valley Forge?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I believe both, but there is an emphasis on you personally. Have you heard of a species called the Erehelm?" Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "Not before their arrival was mentioned at the fleet briefing earlier. It was said that they are a relatively new addition to the Federation, but that is all I know" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Almost the entirety of their civilization believes in a single religion, not unlike the Bajorans, though their beliefs are very different. Erehelm mythology speaks of a First - NPC@annpc#557:- Father, sometimes referred to as the First Son, and a First Mother, also called the First Daughter. They were both made by a creator figure called the All-Maker, or simply the Maker. The Maker - NPC@annpc#557 - noticed their strengths and flaws and designed them to only be able to have children together, so their children would be more well-rounded. But the First Father was ambitious, and he planted - NPC@annpc#557:- seeds within seeds that would slowly corrupt their children more and more towards his attributes. Sound familiar?" Keelah@crystyl:"A little too familiar..." she nods, "But I fail to see where I fit into all of this" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "When the All-Maker discovered what the First Father had done, many of their children had already been corrupted. The First Father gathered an army in open rebellion, seeking to - NPC@annpc#557:- usurp the Maker. Ultimately, the Maker, the First Mother, and the uncorrupted children managed to defeat the First Father, but at the heavy cost of the First Mother's own life. Despite - NPC@annpc#557:- the Maker's supreme power, the Firsts were strong enough that they could not truly die, and so instead of trying to kill the First Father, the Maker imprisoned him in a place called Detselle, the - NPC@annpc#557:- Erehelm equivalent of Gre'thor, from what I gather. Likewise, the First Mother was only sundered, not gone forever. It is said that one day, the First Father will break out of his prison, but - NPC@annpc#557 - before then, the First Mother would be reborn among her children. There would be one final battle between the forces of good and evil. Ultimately, the First Mother will defeat the First Father - NPC@annpc#557 - and lead the faithful to their rightful place in Heorhus, a paradise originally intended for the children before the rebellion." Keelah@crystyl:"Oh boy... and so now these people have painted events here to fit their mythology, and factored me into this role of 'First Mother', yes?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "That is why they were so careless with their ship. I believe they do not intend to return home. They have come here to follow you." Keelah@crystyl:"They won't get very far with that once the Valley Forge departs the Sphere, not without their ship. Their story lacks plausibility as it is completely without logic" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "The problem is, their leader is a powerful psionic, as are several others on the crew to a lesser extent. They are content to sit quietly in the brig because the Valley Forge is - NPC@annpc#557 - still here, and because I served on the Valley Forge and seem to have a modicum of respect from them. If you depart or if we try to send them back through the gateway, I am unsure if my - NPC@annpc#557 - security teams can contain them. I do not know if anyone short of Sin could." Keelah@crystyl:"Have they made any demands, or... rather expressed desires of what they would like to happen now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "They would like to see you. That is all they have demanded." Keelah@crystyl:"I can't imagine this problem simply going away, and with powerful psionics at play they would likely know if the Valley Forge simply left quietly and that could make them a threat for you. I see no- Keelah@crystyl:- better alternative than for me to come and speak with them" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "The Guan Yu will come by to receive you, then. Thank you, Keelah." Keelah@crystyl:"With your permission, I will bring my own escort as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Of course. I look forward to meeting any others from the Valley Forge before you depart on your mission." Keelah@crystyl:"I just want to bring Sin along for now, unless you think anyone else might be particularly relatable to these people?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "You might have another pip now, but that doesn't mean you can't advise your old CO when appropriate still" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht smiles back, "I was about to recommend Sin as well. Her abilities may be necessary if the Erehelm leader decides to try anything." Keelah@crystyl:"Then we will see you shortly. I will inform the Admiral of our delay" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "I'll see you on board, Captain." Keelah@crystyl closes the comm and quickly goes about preparations for the trip to the Guan Yu --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | We see an establishing shot of the refit Akira-class USS Guan Yu as it approaches the Valley Forge NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah and Sin materialize in one of the Guan Yu's transporter rooms. Before them stands Captain Vrolmacht and an unfamiliar alien with blonde hair wearing a red-striped Starfleet uniform and - NPC@annpc#557 - the pip of an Ensign. The alien adjusts her hair and straightens her uniform as Keelah appears NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Captain Keelah. Ensign Sin. Welcome to the Guan Yu." Keelah@crystyl smiles, stepping off the pad and greeting Vrolmacht, "It is good to see you Captain, though I had not anticipated a reunion quite so soon" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht smiles back, "Indeed." He turns to the Ensign beside him, who is taller than both Keelah and Sin, but shorter than the Klingon, "This is Ensign Aedwyn, helmswoman of the Starseeker. - NPC@annpc#557:- She is Erehelm. We picked her up from the Starseeker earlier to advise on the situation here." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you for joining us Ensign. This is Ensign Sin, she is-" Keelah@crystyl | Sin: "I'm her psionic security blanket" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht smirks, "That is...one way to say it." Keelah@crystyl:"I was going to go with a trusted and experienced tactical officer with first hand experience dealing with a number of the figures being factored into religion here. That, and occasional thorn in - Keelah@crystyl:- my side. But sure, if it makes you feel better to play the role of protector Sin, then I will not protest" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "...that is closer to how I would describe her." Keelah@crystyl | Sin frowns at somehow still coming out behind after a smart remark. How does that Vulcan always win... NPC@annpc#557 | Aedwyn: "A pleasure to meet you, Captain, Ensign. I'd...just like to start off by apologizing, I know this...this isn't the best first impression for my people, but I promise, we're not - NPC@annpc#557 - religious fanatics. Usually. It's very rare nowadays- honestly, I thought we'd left it behind as ancient history." Keelah@crystyl:"Recent events have stirred things up across the galaxy Ensign, I am sure your people are not the only ones revisiting religion for answers. Especially when the Architect was known to feature so - Keelah@crystyl:- prominently across so many cultures. You have nothing to apologize for" NPC@annpc#557 | Aedwyn smiles and nods NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Come, I will take you to the brig where they are being held." Keelah@crystyl turns and follows NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht leads the way through the halls. As they walk, Aedwyn speaks again, "My people joined the Federation rather quickly, comparatively to other civilizations that is. There's many who - NPC@annpc#557 - think the process was expedited due to the Klingon War, which...is partly true, but we passed all the social qualifications. Religion is very widespread on our world, but as cultural tradition - NPC@annpc#557 - and a guiding moral code, not...well, like the old days where wars were fought over it." Keelah@crystyl:"Do you know anything about this particular group who are here now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Aedwyn shakes her head, "The others call the leader Father Heobald. Our Clerics are referred to as Mothers and Fathers- they're spiritual guides like your...monks on Vulcan, or Bajoran prylar. - NPC@annpc#557:- Or is ranjen a more suitable comparison among the Bajorans..." NPC@annpc#557 | Aedwyn: "Anyways, that doesn't necessarily mean he's a cleric, though. He might be a self-proclaimed one." Keelah@crystyl:"Well, we shall see soon enough" NPC@annpc#557 | They enter a turbolift and Aedwyn speaks again as it begins to move, "Oh and- psionics have always been attested among our people. The majority of us aren't, including me, and many of the ones - NPC@annpc#557 - who only display low levels of talent like being able to pick up on emotions. The people who can use full telepathic reading and communication are rare and power like this Father Heobald - NPC@annpc#557 - has is unheard of before. But like you said, that's happening everywhere with this barrier dispersal." Keelah@crystyl:"Honestly, I am somewhat surprised that other cultures - particularly those with more well established modern religions - haven't stirred up activity here" Keelah@crystyl | Sin: "Yeah, but I bet you didn't see any of them labelling you as their Messiah's second coming!" Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "Crude as your analogy may be, you are not wrong" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "There are others who have reacted to the barrier dispersal, in different ways. It is more prevalent in the Klingon Empire than the Federation. Many of their conquered worlds are - NPC@annpc#557 - rising up in rebellion under the leadership of new psionics proclaiming themselves to be the likes of religious saviours or god-kings." Keelah@crystyl | Sin snorts: "Sounds like your Empire is finally on the receiving end of some galactic karma" Keelah@crystyl looks from Sin to V, "I believe she has missed you" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht looks to Sin, "You could always tell that to Captain Vix. I am sure it will be a very entertaining 'discussion,'" he smirks Keelah@crystyl | Sin grins, "I might just do that. It's a while since I've poked that particular bear. So... tell your new crew how that little Trill drank you under the table yet?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "No. And do not mention a word of it..." Keelah@crystyl | Sin smiles to herself, "Who needs psionic powers to rule the galaxy anyway" Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps you should have gone with the Latenter after all. Your knack for blackmail almost seems wasted in SFC" Keelah@crystyl | Sin: "Yeah... but you'd miss me. Go on, admit it. You know you would" Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, turning forward in silence as the doors open and she steps out with V Keelah@crystyl | Sin stares a moment before skipping a step to catch up, "Come on, admit it!" Keelah@crystyl turns instead to Aedwyn, "And here you were the one worried about first impressions" NPC@annpc#557 | Aedwyn chuckles, "I should've known I didn't need to worry among fellow Starfleet officers." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht leads the group down the hall to the brig, where two enlisted security personnel stand guard outside. Inside, there is an officer behind the brig control consoles, as well as a - NPC@annpc#557 - Lethean wearing clearly Klingon-style armour NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "This is Lieutenant Vittudon, an exchange officer from one of the Klingon vessels, and the most powerful psionic I have on board." He glances to Sin. "Before you arrived, that is." NPC@annpc#557 | Vittudon offers a nod of greetings to the group, "Captains. Ensigns." Keelah@crystyl | Sin finds her ego once more with a smug self-important look Keelah@crystyl:"Lieutenant, any developments with your guests?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vittudon shakes his head, "They have been very well-behaved so far. They are wait-" he pauses and looks over, and they see the Erehelm inside the guests have all knelt down in front of the - NPC@annpc#557 - force fields of their respective cells. "...you are observing the only change so far, Captain." Keelah@crystyl turns and observes NPC@annpc#557 | They are all bent down on one knee, with a forearm resting on the raised knee and their heads bowed, almost looking like they're being knighted Keelah@crystyl looks around them, "Father Heobald?" NPC@annpc#557 | Aedwyn points out one with balding white hair and beard, dressed in a simple robe, "That's Father Heobald." Keelah@crystyl turns her attention to the Father NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald remains kneeling, but raises his head to look up at Keelah, "And who are you?" Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps more pertinently is who you think I am?" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "You wear the white shoulders of command, and Captain Vrolmacht promised to bring me the famed captain of the Valley Forge. You must be Captain Keelah Se'lai, then?" Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, I am Captain Se'Lai. I understand your people are new to the Federation, so please understand that kneeling is most certainly not required" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "I do not kneel to you. I had assumed that the commander of the vessel that defeated the First Father and his Horde would be the one. But you are not her." Keelah@crystyl:"It was a battle of epic proportions, no one ship or CO was directly responsible for victory in that battle. The Valley Forge - and by extension myself - played a significant role in events which - Keelah@crystyl:- led to it, so your misinformation is understandable. Yet... you remain on bent knee..." she notes with a quirk of her head NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "You are not her, but she is here. The Mother Reborn walks amongst us!" He raises a hand and points...at Sin Keelah@crystyl | Sin blinkblinks and looks behind her, then back to the Father before pointing at herself questioningly Keelah@crystyl glances back and affords herself a slight smirk, turning and patting her on the shoulder as she walks back out, "Have fun, Messiah" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald lowers his head as Keelah steps out, "Yes. You are the one. We have found you." Sin@crystyl:"Well, I mean... I am pretty amazing and all. But my role in things is not such public knowledge. I don't know anything about your people or your religion" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "I do not know what it was precisely that you had done during the Lifendet, the Last Battle, but the power emanating from you is greater than anything I have ever felt. If I - NPC@annpc#557 - may ask, O Reincarnate, what /was/ your role in things?" Sin@crystyl:"...'O Reincarnate'? Really? Whatever. I was the one who entered the Architect's mind and overpowered him, then I separated his mind from the body he had stolen from our friend" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald looks up, his eyes widening, "So you were personally responsible for his defeat?" Sin@crystyl:"Nooononono... well, sort of, yes... but it was - you know - a team effort and all that fluffy Starfleet stuff. I played my part just like everyone else did!" she protests, holding her hands up, "He- Sin@crystyl:- did too!" she points at Vrolmacht, "And he looks all big and worshippable, right?" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "He does not radiate power like you do. And he was not the one who faced the First Father in a battle of minds and emerged victorious. There is no question. You are the First - NPC@annpc#557 - Mother Reborn. You are the Reincarnate, our long-awaited guide to Heorhus." Sin@crystyl:"He-or... what now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Aedwyn: "Heorhus. It is...paradise, essentially." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Like Sto-vo-kor. With less battle." Sin@crystyl:"Sounds like Belyia. But that's technically more of a gilded cage. It's also mine, so you can't have it" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "What is this Belyia you speak of?" Sin@crystyl:"An archaic world that doesn't concern you. I have no idea where this Heorhus of yours is, sorry" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "Heorhus is not a place in the material world. There were many interpretations of it. In ancient times, we thought it lay above the sky of our homeworld, beyond the clouds. - NPC@annpc#557 - Then we ascended to the sky and found nothing but empty space beyond. Then we thought it was a place far away among the stars, perhaps at the very heart of our galaxy. Most today believe it - NPC@annpc#557 - not to be a physical place, but a state of mind. But I have seen a vision. I know it is beyond this universe, but it is not some abstract concept like a state of being. It is a place we will - NPC@annpc#557 - go when you teach us how to shed our skins of flesh and blood and become as the Firsts and the All-Maker themself are." Sin@crystyl:"Right... and this 'All-Maker' of yours is the one you think I defeated here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "No, it was the First Father you defeated here, the one who sought to corrupt his children and led a rebellion against the great Maker, his own parent." Sin@crystyl:"And you realize that both this First Father and his Maker were flesh and blood, just like you and I..." NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "He may wear a physical skin, but he is an eternal spirit...just as you are, Reincarnate. Perhaps you do not know yet. But you have no doubt felt it. Look around you. You feel - NPC@annpc#557 - different to these people, do you not?" Sin@crystyl:"Oh I've always known that I'm better than anyone else in the galaxy. But you are talking about ascension, and he was not ascended" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "He fits all we know about the First Father, and he has done as the myths foretold. There is no doubt that your Architect was the First Father, and you are the First Mother - NPC@annpc#557 - Reborn." Sin@crystyl:"And now you think I'm somehow going to lead you to your paradise beyond the former confines of the galactic barrier?" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "This...ascension you speak of. Is it to ascend beyond these forms of flesh and blood, become something more?" Sin@crystyl:"The term 'more' is subjective. 'Different' is the only real known factor" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "If it is what I think it is, then you will guide us to ascend, and that will be the path to Heorhus. I have seen it in my visions." Sin@crystyl:"Look, I can probably point you towards the Esoterics here who know all about this stuff. But I happen to be rather fond of my flesh and I plan to keep on enjoying it for a long time" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "But you are the Reincarnate. /You/ are the one meant to guide us." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, like I said. I can guide you to the Esoterics who specialize in helping people ascend. Everyone's a winner!" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "You are saying you do not know the path to ascension?" Sin@crystyl:"Oh I know /my/ path, which is why I know how to avoid it. It is not like walking down the corridor and taking the right turn to get to your destination. Everybody's journey is their own" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "Enlightened words indeed, Reincarnate." Sin@crystyl facepalms NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht snickers, "You are beginning to sound like an Esoteric as well as a Starfleet officer." Sin@crystyl:"Hey! Don't you start as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "But you say you do not seek the path of ascension? Why?" Sin@crystyl:"Please... look at me, who'd want to give this up?" she grins smugly NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "Your physical form is impermanent. Heorhus is eternal." Sin@crystyl:"Exactly, which is why I plan to enjoy it for as long as I can. Which... probably isn't too long anyway, but not so fast that I can just scoot you all there before we leave on our mission" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "Not too long? You do not seem particularly advanced in age..." Sin@crystyl:"Unlike most Children species, mine are relatively short-lived. Chronologically I am the age of your average young offspring, but in Ocampan terms I am... well, suffice to say I'm on the downward - Sin@crystyl:- slope now" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "Then you plan to ascend once your physical form is near its end?" Sin@crystyl:"Something like that" NPC@annpc#557 | Father Heobald: "We will not question your will, Reincarnate. But if this physical form does not have much time left, perhaps we may await you until you are ready for your ascension. Then, you - NPC@annpc#557 - may show us how it is done and in the process, provide us some guidance, even if in the end it is up to us individually to find our own specific path." Sin@crystyl:"That all sounds well and good, but I can't imagine the big guy here would be particularly fond of the idea of you all spending the next however many years just sitting around in here" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "No, but we may be able to come to a compromise. You mentioned the Esoterics' temple. They could await you there and further train their abilities, until you are ready for ascension." Sin@crystyl:"Sounds reasonable to me. What about you?" she looks to Heobald NPC@annpc#557 | Heobald nods, "That is an acceptable compromise. Not all of my followers have psionic capabilities, though." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "This is a large Sphere. I am sure we can find a place for them. The difficult part is convincing them to take you in, after what you pulled off coming here." Sin@crystyl:"Psionics or not, you will all have to earn your keep. And I expect you to not make a nuisance of yourselves to me or anyone else. You put a lot of people through a lot of trouble with your little - Sin@crystyl:- trip here, so now you owe them" NPC@annpc#557 | Heobald: "We will not disappoint you, Reincarnate. We will eagerly await your return, and I shall personally ensure that you will hear no complaints about our people when you come back." Sin@crystyl:"Good. Now I suppose I've got to go speak to the Esoterics..." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I will find places for the non-psionic crew, but you may be best suited to bringing their request to the Esoterics." Sin@crystyl:"It might be advisable to find them a region of the Sphere close to the Temple where they can all remain together. Don't worry, this shouldn't take long" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, turning to lead the way back out of the brig, "Thank you, Ensign, for working out a solution with them. I had expected Keelah to do so as I thought she was the one they were - NPC@annpc#557 - seeking, but you did well in her place. A Starfleet officer indeed," he grins Sin@crystyl:"Oi, there's no need to be mean!" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "That would be a complement for any other officer." Sin@crystyl:"Which is why you had to find a reason to throw it at me, yeah I remember how this works. You ain't been gone that long you know" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht smirks, "If you don't tell anyone Captain Vix outdrank me, then I will not tell anyone of your excellent negotiation." Sin@crystyl hrms, "You drive a hard bargain Klingon. Good thing I like that!" she slaps him on the back NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "We have a deal, then?" Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, we have a deal you big softy" she grins NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht grins back, "Excellent." --- Mana@anncaris | Meanwhile, Mia is in her quarters when the doorbell rings Mia@crystyl heads over to the door, smiling cheerily, "Allo Ms. Mana!" Mana@anncaris smiles back, "Hello Mia! Mana heard that Keelah was away, so Mana thought to come tell Mia first. Mia should know, anyways!" Mia@crystyl:"Ooh, what is it that we should know?" she asks, heading back inside Mana@anncaris follows Mia in, "Vora and the rest of the Coalition leadership have asked Mana to advise on a special project. Unfortunately, Mana will have to remain in the Sphere to do so. Mana is told this - Mana@anncaris - mission will not be as long as the previous one though and that the Valley Forge will be returning to the Sphere after, so Mana should be back before long. Mia@crystyl:"Aww, so it is time for us to say farewell again?" Mana@anncaris nods, "But like Mana said, not for as long as the last time though! Mana would like to remain on the Valley Forge, but this is a very important project, and Vora believes Mana's skills will be - Mana@anncaris - indispensable here. Well, Mia can do about everything Mana can now, but Vora would not want to steal Mia from Keelah! And Mana is also an Arshai, which should help smooth things." Mia@crystyl:"It sounds very important!" Mana@anncaris:"The project is not secret, so don't worry, Mana can tell everything if Mia is curious!" Mia@crystyl:"We are always curious!" Mana@anncaris chuckles, "Just as Mana thought!" She takes a seat on a nearby chair. "Well, the Coalition was inspired by the success of the Aethon so far, and the news that the Khitomer Alliance factions are - Mana@anncaris - working on joint shipbuilding projects. Every Coalition faction, and the Coalition as a whole, could use more ships after the recent battles." Mia@crystyl:"Ooh so Mana is going to help build new ships?" Mana@anncaris:"Yes, but...not exactly the ship. Mana has picked up a few things about maintaining ship systems, but Mana is no starship engineer like Kelly or Thorkildsen." Mia@crystyl:"Then what will Mana be doing on the project?" Mana@anncaris smiles, "What Mana is best at! The new ship will be built inside Foundry 1, as a Nuhar construct. The hull and internal systems will be designed by joint Coalition efforts incorporating elements - Mana@anncaris - and technologies from all factions." Mia@crystyl:"So the new Coalition vessels will be sentient Nuhar, like Mia's squadron of little ones?" Mana@anncaris nods and smiles, "The Nuhar have said that studying the fighters on the Valley Forge was one source of inspiration! But these new vessels will not be entirely AI-controlled as Nuhar constructs - Mana@anncaris - are. The AI will be tailored to work cooperatively alongside organic crewmembers. That is why Mana is advising on the project! The Zytomin AI is also being transferred to the Foundry as one of - Mana@anncaris - the chief programmers." Mia@crystyl:"This is certainly an exciting project to work on. We are so happy for you Ms. Mana!" Mana@anncaris smiles, "Mana will be happy to have Mia's advice and expertise as well, when the Valley Forge is back in the Sphere! Mana does not expect the project to be finished by the time the ship returns. - Mana@anncaris - The Foundry can build faster than a standard shipyard, but there will be new designs and new programming in creating this ship, so the project will take a while." Mia@crystyl:"We imagine several months of work before there is even enough settled for the foundry to begin fabrication" Mana@anncaris nods, "Exactly! Everything is only in the conceptual phase right now, and the Foundry is still producing regular constructs." Mia@crystyl:"We have a thought. A request, even" Mana@anncaris:"Oh? What is that?" Mia@crystyl:"This project is an exciting once in a lifetime opportunity for someone who has an interest in such things" Mana@anncaris:"Does Mia wish to come as well?" Mia@crystyl:"Much as we would enjoy it, no. But Cadet T'Pia on the other hand..." Mana@anncaris:"Mana had thought of T'Pia as well! But T'Pia is in the middle of her studies here. And Mana is not sure if Keelah would want to be separated from T'Pia either." Mia@crystyl:"With Starfleet maintaining a presence on the Sphere we believe an academy outlet will already be a point of consideration to allow cadets from home to come and safely explore. Allowing T'Pia to - Mia@crystyl:- remain with that unit could be highly beneficial, and we believe Capitaine Keelah would appreciate that" Mana@anncaris nods, "Mana will speak to Captain Keelah once Keelah returns! Mana is sure Coalition leadership will be happy to have T'Pia's talent as well, after T'Pia's work on the CIC that helped in many - Mana@anncaris - battles." Mia@crystyl:"It may be early development, but this could be an ideal opportunity to fully develop the intended system as she and Ms Rianni designed it to be. It may not contribute directly to her current - Mia@crystyl:- studies, but a split focus is nothing unusual for cadets studying in the field" Mana@anncaris:"And as Mia said, this is indeed a very rare opportunity to have for T'Pia, so T'Pia would not want to miss this chance!" Mia@crystyl:"It may not be achievable, but we would be remiss in our role as professor to Ms. T'Pia if we did not explore the possibility of assigning her to the project. Since Capitaine Keelah enlisted Rianni - Mia@crystyl:- under a comparative premise, we believe she will be amenable to seeing this happen for T'Pia. But it also depends if the project leaders are willing to have a cadet on board too" Mana@anncaris:"Mana will do everything Mana can to get T'Pia involved in the project! Mana can speak with the project leaders first, as Mana waits for Captain Keelah to return." Mia@crystyl:"Thank you Mana! We are happy to speak to Capitaine Keelah with you if you like too" Mana@anncaris:"That is a good idea, Mia knows much more about Starfleet Academy than Mana does!" Mia@crystyl:"Is there anything else we can do to help with your preparations before departing?" Mana@anncaris:"Well there is one thing...Mia will not mind if Sayu stays with Mia while Mana is away? There is plenty of security and no immediate danger on the Sphere, and Sayu has a role among the ship's - Mana@anncaris - security now, so Sayu will be staying with the Valley Forge this time." Mia@crystyl:"Of course! We welcome more time with our brother" Mana@anncaris:"And Sayu would like more time with Mia as well! Also after the Architect's takeover, Sayu thinks the ship could use more synthetic security," she chuckles. "The Sphere already has plenty with - Mana@anncaris - Nuhar and Iconian drones everywhere!" Mia@crystyl:"A wise precaution! You can always trust our brother to be protective" she giggles Mana@anncaris smiles, "That Sayu is! Mana hopes Sayu will be of help keeping the crew safe on this new journey!" Mia@crystyl:"We know he will be!" Mana@anncaris stands, "Mana will go speak with the project leaders about T'Pia's involvement. Let Mana know when Captain Keelah is back and ready to see us!" Mia@crystyl:"We will do so!" Mana@anncaris smiles and turns to head out --- NPC@annpc#557 | Sin arrives at the Chlasi temple. An unfamiliar attendant steps out first but attendant Mirea appears behind him, saying something to him before taking over and walking up to Sin while her - NPC@annpc#557 - colleague heads back NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea: "Welcome back to the temple, Sin. We were not expecting you so soon. Is your friend alright?" Sin@crystyl approaches, "Hello again Mirea, and yes she is quite well so far thank you" she peers after the departing attendant, "What's the matter with him, too fresh to risk exposing him to me?" she grins NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea chuckles, "Not quite. I just thought as I had showed you the way last time, a familiar face would be more suitable since I was on shift as well. So, what can we do for you this time?" Sin@crystyl:"I'm afraid I seem to be forming a pattern of only coming here to ask favours of the temple" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea: "Do not worry about it. Without you, we could not have defeated the Architect and may not even be here today. I am sure the temple will be happy to do anything you ask." Sin@crystyl:"The truth is, I could have left this request to the grown ups. But I... kind of need advice on how to handle this new situation" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea: "Should I take you to the Head Esoterics again?" Sin@crystyl:"If we will not be disturbing them, please. Though you should stay with us as your input could be valuable too" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea nods, "Come with me, then." She turns and begins leading the way Sin@crystyl:"Thanks. So how's it going here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea: "The temple itself fares well. The renovated space suits our needs perfectly, and settling in is not too difficult with much of the structure converted into the style of temples back - NPC@annpc#557 - home we are used to." Sin@crystyl:"But I bet there's always loads of work to do right? Too much to likely be manageable for the numbers you have here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Once again, Mirea leads Sin through the large main lobby into the halls beyond, "Indeed. Fortunately, we are receiving support from other individuals experienced with psionic abilities who - NPC@annpc#557 - are also in the Sphere. Some of their styles are quite radical compared to our own, but in this situation, it is a boon and not a problem. Numbers are not the only difficulty we have. The - NPC@annpc#557 - diversity of individuals we are training also presents a significant challenge. I am not involved with the teaching personally, but I have heard that the vast amount of different backgrounds - NPC@annpc#557 - and approaches to situations make training difficult. That is where the non-Chlasi psionics are of great help." Sin@crystyl:"Good to know" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea: "There is also the issue of age. Most Chlasi who are suitable for Esoteric training tend to demonstrate their talents by adolescence. Many are receiving psionic capabilities for the - NPC@annpc#557 - first time in the midst of their lives, and I do not need to be a teacher to tell you that children tend to learn more easily than adults." Sin@crystyl:"Maybe that's why my people become so advanced after such a short time. Relatively, even our elders are children!" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea nods, "That is certainly possible. Your people may be more receptive to learning, as you have less time to become set in your ways." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, we have to be I guess or we'd never get anywhere" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea leads Sin into a room where the two Head Esoterics are seated, this time holding a conversation with several others, some of whom she recognizes from the battle as the ones who attacked - NPC@annpc#557 - the control station alongside her. They pause as the two enter and the Head Esoterics rise to greet them. NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "Sin. What brings you back here so soon?" Sin@crystyl:"Seeking favours as usual. Though I am a little more hopeful this time that it might at least prove to be something of a mutually beneficial arrangement. But please, I do not wish to intrude if you - Sin@crystyl:- are in the middle of something here" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon smiles, "Worry not, this is no formal meeting. We are simply holding conversation during the break between classes. You are not interrupting anything of importance." Sin@crystyl:"I'm sure your students don't see their time conversing with you as anything less than important" she says before catching herself and looking off to the side wondering where the hell that came from NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 1 chuckles, "Most of us have not been formal students for a long time. Though none of us ever truly stop learning, even those of us who are training others." NPC@annpc#557 | A younger Esoteric 2 nods, "A few of us are still training in areas we are weak in, but everyone here is temple staff in one regard or another." Sin@crystyl:"The quest to hone one's skills and abilities to perfection is a noble and tireless one... ok, is it something in the air here or what? Because I have /no/ idea where this is coming from..." NPC@annpc#557 | A third Esoteric smirks, "The temples are places of learning and contemplation, but I am fairly certain simply being in one does not make you wiser." Sin@crystyl:"Oh I'm all kinds of wise, but it doesn't normally come out so... preachy! Eugh, it's this uniform isn't it - it's slowly poisoning me..." she sighs NPC@annpc#557 | Virye chuckles, "Perhaps we are having an influence on you after our time working together lately. Come join us, and tell us what favours you are here to seek." Sin@crystyl:"Thanks" she takes a seat, "This is about the ship that forced its way through the gateway from Romulan space earlier. Has news of it reached you here yet?" NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 2 nods, "We have heard, yes." NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon: "Though we do not know of any details other than the fact that a ship broke through and then broke apart from the damage it suffered." Sin@crystyl:"Well, long story short; they are devout religious types here on a pilgrimage of sorts. They have cast the Architect as a key figure in their religious mythology and came here to pursue prophecy" NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 1: "The Architect? That is concerning. They have not come here to worship him as some kind of god, I hope?" Sin@crystyl:"Not... him. He was cast in the archetypal role of 'big bad' in their mythology" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "I can see where that comes from. So what brings them here, then?" Sin@crystyl:"Me" NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 3: "You? Don't tell me...they've come here to worship you?" Sin@crystyl nods, "As the one who duelled the Architect directly, I fit into their prophecy as the reincarnation of their 'First Mother'. They have come here because they believe I - in this role - will lead - Sin@crystyl:- them to their 'promised paradise' which they describe to sound much like Ascension" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon: "But you are not yet ascended, or an Exalted One." Sin@crystyl:"That doesn't seem to matter to them. They don't exactly seem in a particular rush, as long as they feel they are walking this path. They have expressed a willingness to wait until my natural - Sin@crystyl:- physical expiration, since that is the time I am most likely to stop containing myself" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "So they are going to follow you around until you are ready to ascend?" Sin@crystyl:"No, and that's where I hope you come in" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon nods, "They are psionics, and you wish us to train them until that day comes?" Sin@crystyl:"Not all of these people, but at least some are psionic. Their leader is recently evolved like myself as well, so they are in need of expert guidance" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "This temple was established to train any who require guidance with their psionic talents, and our doors are open to them. This mythology of theirs could prove difficult, though. They - NPC@annpc#557 - must be quite devoted to risk their lives in the fashion they did to come out here." Sin@crystyl:"Borderline zealous if you ask me; obscuring facts of current affairs to fit their own mythological prophecy. Convincingly, sure. But still..." Sin@crystyl:"Anyway, it's not just the psionics among them. They are a whole group of refugees who arrived here on a one way trip. They have caused a lot of problems for Romulan, Federation and Coalition - Sin@crystyl:- governments in their desperate method. But they are here now, and seem content to remain under the rules we have set. What I need from the temple is to give them the guidance and instruction they - Sin@crystyl:- both seek and need now. What they have agreed to offer in return is their service - non-psionics included - to aid the temple in whatever way is deemed appropriate" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "Do you believe this zealousness of theirs will cause any further problem?" Sin@crystyl:"Honestly... it is too soon to say. I do believe that if they are left unchecked then it is a strong possibility. They shot their way past a Romulan blockade to the extent their ship was all but - Sin@crystyl:- destroyed just to get here. Their leader might be prone to excessive action if he feels they are not getting what they feel is their due, but for now they seem content to accept the situation and - Sin@crystyl:- that's with an understanding that I am not rushing anything myself in terms of ascension. They know they could be waiting here for years, and seem ok with that" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon nods, "Then we shall do our best to guide them in the meantime. What else do you know about this religion they follow? We may need to familiarize ourselves with it as well." Sin@crystyl:"Let's see... It all starts with this 'All-Maker', then a 'first Mother and Father' - that's the original forms of me and the Architect - lots of war, good versus evil. You know, typical ancient - Sin@crystyl:- religion stuff. Fun fact, even though the First Father is the villain of the story, the modern religious leaders are also called Father. Cue the psychologists" NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 1 nods, "Yes, it certainly has its similarities to many other mythologies my people have heard." NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 2: "Perhaps that's why the First Father is specifically distinguished with First. As in not all Fathers are evil, only the First specifically." Sin@crystyl:"Perhaps. There is no denying that their unique reference to 'children' bears a distinct familiarity with current events, and the Architect does align with a lot of their mythology so it could very - Sin@crystyl:- well be based in some element of fact" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye nods, "As we have learned, many mythologies are. But why do they believe you to be their First Mother?" Sin@crystyl:"Their ancient prophecy detailed what has now been portrayed as the Architect's imprisonment, his return and rise to dominance. And then the final battle in which the reincarnation of the First - Sin@crystyl:- Mother would defeat him in direct conflict before leading these people to their promised land" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye nods, "And because you entered the Architect's mind and defeated him there, they believe you to be this reincarnation." Sin@crystyl nods, "Exactly, yes. Their leader sensed my power when I entered the room they were being held in and identified me as this 'Reincarnate'. They came here asking to see Keelah as they presumed she - Sin@crystyl:- was the one they sought" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon: "Well, we know many of these mythologies were seeded by the Progenitors as warnings of the Architect, to prepare us for him psychologically in some way, most likely. But they could - NPC@annpc#557 - not have known exactly how it would all end. Most of these tales end with the final battle where the forces of good are rallied against the forces of evil in one final battle, are they not?" NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 1 nods, "That is correct from my knowledge." Sin@crystyl:"I believe so, yes. This may simply be a perversion of that common tale to fit their own wider mythology by bringing back the Mother figure" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon: "Yes, I believe so. The Progenitors were likely sowing the idea of the Coalition, or some form of union between their Children against the Architect and the Horde. Since that - NPC@annpc#557 - portion played out similarly enough to the 'prophecy,' they believed the portion about the Mother figure must be true and slotted the most fitting individual into the role, which happened to - NPC@annpc#557 - be you." Sin@crystyl:"Yes. As for this promised land business, even just from my brief conversation with their leader it was clear that it's meaning and interpretation has changed and evolved as the species itself has" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "And they believe it equates to ascension now?" Sin@crystyl:"Most likely to have been recently divined based on the effects seen from the drop of the galactic barrier" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon: "That would stand to reason, yes. Thank you for telling us what you have learned of their beliefs. This will be important if we are to guide them." Sin@crystyl:"There is a member of their species serving on another Starfleet vessel here too. If she is here, then her ship's database may contain more cultural details. But these people aren't exactly secretive NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon nods, "We will be sure to ask them for more details, then." NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea: "You said you needed some advice as well, Sin?" Sin@crystyl:"Well... you guys live more closely with ascension than most other species. A big part of your whole society is built around it, and your lasting connection to those who have ascended. I know it is - Sin@crystyl:- not religious devotion, but it is the most comparable I know of and was hoping to find some guidance myself here for how the hell I'm supposed to handle these people now" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "Only the Exalted and the Ascended know about the path to ascension. The rest of us train as much as we are able, hoping to find the path. I believe ascension is not something that you - NPC@annpc#557 - can follow instructions to achieve- finding the way may be a crucial part to being able to achieve it. After all, you saw what happened with your friend when she did not find her own way and - NPC@annpc#557 - had amassed too much power. That said, guiding others is likely possible, and the idea behind the existence of our order and our temples to begin with." NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon: "We guide others by training them to master and expand their psionic capabilities, and reaching a state of mind which puts them in harmony with who they are and the universe around - NPC@annpc#557 - them. We believe both will aid with finding the path to ascension, as there are Chlasi who have gone there, or at least are on the right path, such as the Lonesome One." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah I get that, and I already expressed as much to them as well. I was thinking more in terms that you guys know better than anyone how a relationship works between an ascended and those who are - Sin@crystyl:- not. I am not ascended yet, but serve in a similarly elevated role to these people. I'm just not sure how that relationship should work..." NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "They may hold you in reverence, but you are likely not much further along the path than they are. True ascended rarely intervene directly, as you have witnessed with Cue. It is largely - NPC@annpc#557 - up to ourselves. I think it would be better for you to interact with these people not as a teacher, but as an elder sister. Forge more of a friendship than a mentorship. Inspire, rather than - NPC@annpc#557 - instruct." Sin@crystyl:"Suits me. This whole... preachy teacher thing is too much hard work" NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 3: "You seemed to be doing fairly well earlier." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, well... appearances can be deceiving!" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "We will do what we can to convince them to accept you as a fellow rather than a teacher, but you may have to do some convincing yourself when you return here." Sin@crystyl:"If it stops my fan club from getting out of control, I'll do what I can" NPC@annpc#557 | Esoteric 2: "I would have thought you'd enjoy having a following of your own." Sin@crystyl:"Ordinarily, yes. But these guys aren't an Imperial military, they're a ship full of religious cooks for all intents and purposes" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "We will take them under our guidance for the time being, and do our best to foster the idea to treat you as more of an equal than someone to be worshipped. It will be difficult to - NPC@annpc#557 - change their views on you, but we will do what we can." Sin@crystyl:"As will I. Thank you for agreeing to help them" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon smiles, "I believe bringing them to us is the right choice. We shall not let you down." Sin@crystyl:"Just make sure that they don't let you down in return. We are working to setup housing for them near here, but will need to provide some structure and organization to their new lives" NPC@annpc#557 | Virye: "Some of our people may be able to assist as well. Mirea will help coordinate between our temple and your people." Sin@crystyl:"Captain Vrolmacht currently has them all in custody. He should be able to coordinate as needed" NPC@annpc#557 | Mirea nods, "I will contact him as soon as possible. Is there anything else you wish to ask while you are here, Sin?" Sin@crystyl:"No, I think that's everything covered for now. I'll try and spend more time here with them after the Valley Forge returns" NPC@annpc#557 | Alachon: "I am sure that will be helpful. Good luck with your new mission. I hope it is less eventful than your last, but just as successful." Sin@crystyl:"I'm sure it will be" --- Mana@anncaris | A short while after Keelah returns to the Valley Forge, Mana and Mia approach the ready room... Keelah@crystyl looks up from her console, "Come in" Mana@anncaris steps inside with Mia, "Hello Captain Keelah." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Ladies, do come in. To what do I owe the pleasure?" Mana@anncaris smiles back, "Mana has come to inform Keelah of the joint vessel project inspired by the Aethon. The Coalition leadership has only just approved the project and Vora has asked Mana to assist." Keelah@crystyl:"So the project is going ahead. They will undoubtedly benefit from your expertise Mana" Mana@anncaris takes a seat, "Mana will have to remain in the Sphere to work on the project, but Mana plans to be back on the Valley Forge once the ship returns from this current mission, so Mana should not be - Mana@anncaris - gone for too long." Keelah@crystyl:"I understand Mana. Don't worry, whilst we will naturally miss you - you do not answer to Starfleet and owe us no justification" Mana@anncaris:"Mana wished to let Keelah know, but Mana is also here for another reason. Mia has made an interesting suggestion..." she glances to Mia to explain Keelah@crystyl looks to Mia as well Keelah@crystyl | Mia nods, "As you know mon Capitaine, this project is the joint development of a new generation of starship for the Coalition" Keelah@crystyl nods, "I am aware" Keelah@crystyl | Mia: "And it is our understanding that the sustained Starfleet presence in the Sphere will invite a steady academy presence as well" Keelah@crystyl:"It has been mentioned, I believe. I am pretty sure I know at this point, but indulge me; where are you going with this?" Keelah@crystyl | Mia: "We would like to invite T'Pia to join Ms Mana on the project. It is a rare opportunity given her interest in the ASDB" Mana@anncaris:"Mana has spoken to the project leaders, who are happy to have T'Pia's talent on the project. But that would require T'Pia to stay in the Sphere as well." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course, it is as I suspected" Keelah@crystyl | Mia: "We believe this is in her best interests, just as it was in Ms Rianni's best interests to join the crew here when the Valley Forge first departed Federation space" Keelah@crystyl:"I agree Mia, and you do not need to work so hard to persuade me. Though I appreciate the level of thought that has gone into this" Mana@anncaris:"So Keelah will let T'Pia join the project?" Keelah@crystyl:"If it is what she wants, then by all means" Mana@anncaris nods, "Mana will make sure to look out for T'Pia if T'Pia chooses to join the project." Keelah@crystyl:"I trust you to do so Mana" she smiles, "And you Mia, though you might be getting out of it for now; when we return there is a good chance that the academy presence here may need the expertise of a - Keelah@crystyl:- seasoned Professor. I hope you will be ready to consider the possibility at that time" Keelah@crystyl | Mia takes a moment to think, "We are... not adverse to the possibility, but we prefer to remain here for the time being" Keelah@crystyl:"And you will certainly hear no complaints from me on that" Mana@anncaris:"Mana will be here for as much as Mana can as well. Mana plans to return on board when the Valley Forge comes back to the Sphere after the-" Mana@anncaris FX | Keelah's combadge chirps Keelah@crystyl raises a hand, "Excuse me" tapping her combadge, "Se'Lai" Mana@anncaris <C - TQ> "There's a message for you from the USS al-Khwarizmi, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"The al-Khwarizmi? Very well" Mana@anncaris | Keelah's console flickers and Enelya's visage appears on it, "Captain Se'lai." Keelah@crystyl:"Admiral. What can I do for you?" Mana@anncaris | Enelya: "Actually, it's the other way around. I've been following the Erehelm situation, and while this isn't directly related, I thought you might be interested." Keelah@crystyl:"How so?" Mana@anncaris | Enelya: "Take a look." Mana@anncaris | The screen changes once again to display: https://i.imgur.com/XHWedvw.png Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, leaning back to watch while Miadrone hovers around to get a better view as well Mana@anncaris | The view shifts to the picturesque view of the Bajoran countryside as a narrator's voice speaks Mana@anncaris | Narrator: "In the temple of B'hala constructed near the site of the ancient city of B'hala on Bajor, there have been reports of activity from the Orb of the Emissary, which has sat dormant - Mana@anncaris - for the last forty-six years. The temple was sealed off this morning by the Bajoran Militia and Kai Opaka was seen arriving at the site and entering the temple an hour ago. We have now - Mana@anncaris - received confirmation from the Vedek Assembly of the rumours that have been circulating since this situation began in the early hours of dawn on the planet. The Emissary of the Prophets of - Mana@anncaris - Bajor, decorated Starfleet officer and war hero Captain Benjamin Sisko, has returned." Keelah@crystyl perks a brow Mana@anncaris | As the news report finishes, Enelya reappears on the screen Keelah@crystyl:"So Captain Sisko is back. Significant to many no doubt, but I fail to see how this bears impact on the arrival of our unexpected guests here" Mana@anncaris | Enelya: "There's no direct connection, but it's another civilization's religion being stirred up. It's been happening everywhere after the barrier dispersal. No one knows what this means yet, - Mana@anncaris - but I wouldn't be surprised if it was related." Keelah@crystyl:"Have the Bajorans allowed anyone outside the Vedek Assembly to speak with him yet?" Mana@anncaris | Enelya nods, "The latest report from Deep Space Nine said that Captain Kira was allowed inside the temple due to her previously holding the position of Kai and knowing Sisko personally. She - Mana@anncaris - hasn't reported back in yet, though." Keelah@crystyl:"I would be interested to see if she reports back anything that ties his return to our activity here" Mana@anncaris | Enelya: "I'll keep you apprised of any updates. Vrolmacht tells me you've found a place for the Erehelm at the Chlasi temple?" Keelah@crystyl:"To be precise, Ensign Sin has. She is the one they came here looking for. She has made arrangements for them to train at the temple, and work to service it in the case of the non-psionics among them Mana@anncaris | Enelya nods, "Give the Ensign my congratulations, then." She smiles, "And don't sell yourself short either, you've shaped her into a good officer." Keelah@crystyl:"She's come a long way, but she is far from being a poster girl" she smiles, "She... keeps me on my toes" Mana@anncaris | Enelya chuckles, "Sometimes you need someone like that around. But you've done a fine job so far already. Keep up the good work, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you, Admiral. Our departure plans are almost complete so we will soon be underway" Mana@anncaris | Enelya: "Excellent. Good luck and safe journey," she smiles before the comm ends Keelah@crystyl | Mia: "Capitaine Sisko then" Keelah@crystyl:"Quite the turn of events" Mana@anncaris looks between Mia and Keelah as the comm ends, "Who is this Captain Sisko? An important Bajoran leader?" Keelah@crystyl:"In a sense. He was an iconic Starfleet CO some years ago, during the Dominion War. He was also shoehorned into a key religious role by the Bajoran people, not unlike the way Sin has been here. That- Keelah@crystyl:- species - the Prophets - exist within the Bajoran wormhole, and it is claimed since then that he was part-Prophet" Mana@anncaris nods, "The report seems to suggest Captain Sisko simply...appeared in the temple, perhaps from that orb? Where did the Captain go before this return?" Keelah@crystyl:"I am not entirely certain, but since he was the Emissary of the Prophets, I would not be surprised if the Orb played some part in it all" Mana@anncaris:"Mana does not know this Captain's history or role, but this seems too coincidental to be unrelated to everything that happened here..." Keelah@crystyl:"You have a theory?" Mana@anncaris shakes her head, "Nothing specific, but the timing of this return a few weeks after the barrier dispersal, and amidst all the religious turmoil happening as the Admiral mentioned, Mana suspects - Mana@anncaris - the return was timed, likely with a certain purpose in mind." Keelah@crystyl:"I am inclined to agree. Perhaps I will speak to T'Lana about gathering more galactic information on such events" Mana@anncaris:"Should Mana or Mia offer T'Pia the place on the joint vessel project, or does Keelah wish to do so?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "I would like to speak with her on it first" Mana@anncaris smiles back and stands, "Mana will leave it to Keelah, then!" Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you - both of you - for putting in the thought to make this opportunity for T'Pia" Mana@anncaris:"This was too perfect not to include T'Pia! And Mana is sure T'Pia's many ideas will be of great help to the project as well." Keelah@crystyl:"Well ladies, I'm sure you want to make the most of your time before we part ways so don't let me keep you any longer" Mana@anncaris nods, "Mana hopes to be back soon. Good luck with the mission, Captain Keelah!" Mana@anncaris turns to head out with Mia --- Keelah@crystyl returns to her quarters after meeting with Mana and Mia T'Emp@anncaris is sitting on the couch, reading from a PADD. She looks up as Keelah steps in, "Hi mum! Finished up work for the day?" Keelah@crystyl:"Done all I can for now so thought I'd stop in and see how you are doing. Anything interesting?" she indicates the PADD, sitting beside TP T'Emp@anncaris:"Checking out Vrolmacht's ship's refits, actually! They were part of the same Fleet Modernization Program as we were, but the Akira has some pretty different changes compared to the Valley Forge." Keelah@crystyl:"I can imagine. Anything worth stealing?" she smiles T'Emp@anncaris chuckles, "Most of our systems are just as good after our own refit and the upgrades at Vue-En! Their torpedo launchers are more efficient, but they use a different system that's not exactly - T'Emp@anncaris - compatible with ours unless we overhaul the entire mechanism..." Keelah@crystyl hrms, "That would be quite the big project, wouldn't it" T'Emp@anncaris nods, "Probably not something we want to do unless we go into the Foundry or another shipyard for some major work." Keelah@crystyl:"And we don't have any of that planned just now. Well, not for the Valley Forge at least..." T'Emp@anncaris:"Yeah, there's still some Coalition ships waiting in line for repairs, even now. But not many now I hear!" Keelah@crystyl:"That is true. So naturally, the Coalition is beginning to look towards the next use of the Foundries" T'Emp@anncaris:"Making more Nuhar? Or are the Nuhar letting them use a few bays to make their own ships?" Keelah@crystyl:"Yes and yes" she smirks a little T'Emp@anncaris:"Oooh, that's good to hear! I wonder if the Foundries will be making existing designs from other Coalition factions, or if this is going to be something new incorporating Nuhar tech..." Keelah@crystyl:"There is a new project being commissioned; inspired by the Alliance joint-ventures - though hopefully not so ill-fated - the Coalition is gearing up to begin work on a whole new generation of - Keelah@crystyl:- ships. Designed and built by the whole Coalition, for the whole Coalition" T'Emp@anncaris:"And they're building that in the Foundry? Sounds like an amazing project!" Keelah@crystyl:"It really is. They have taken inspiration from our hybrid fighter wing, and so Mana is going to join the project while we depart on our mission to help programme a new intelligence to run them. Not- Keelah@crystyl:- fully sentient Nuhar, but something more akin to our hybrids that is made properly with the Nuhar to do the job" T'Emp@anncaris:"Wow...all these different ideas from different parts of the galaxy coming together...I can't wait to see what they come up with!" Keelah@crystyl:"Then why wait?" T'Emp@anncaris looks to Keelah, "You mean...they're letting me go to the Foundry and observe?" Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "There is a place for you on the project, if you would like" T'Emp@anncaris:"Oooh, I would love to! But...aren't we going away from the Sphere soon?" Keelah@crystyl:"The Valley Forge has to leave, yes. So if you want this opportunity, it would mean remaining here. There are already plans to establish an Academy annex here, so your studies would have to transfer- Keelah@crystyl:- there once it is setup" T'Emp@anncaris:"I wouldn't want to miss out on a chance like this! You're sure you wouldn't mind, mum?" Keelah@crystyl:"I will not lie by saying that I won't miss you, because of course I will. But you are becoming a young woman, and all mothers must learn to let their young spread out on their own eventually. I knew - Keelah@crystyl:- this would be an important opportunity to nurture your interests, just as both Mana and Mia knew as soon as they learned about it and came to me. It is your decision in the end, of course. But - Keelah@crystyl:- yes, you absolutely have my blessing to pursue it - or anything else you want to do" she smiles T'Emp@anncaris:"I'll miss you too!" She thinks for a moment, "This is too good of an opportunity to pass up...all the Coalition powers coming together to build a completely new ship. I'll not only get to see - T'Emp@anncaris - design ideas from all over the place, but the project's probably not going to be as constrained by established design philosophies like new ships developed by well-established fleets. There'll - T'Emp@anncaris - be a lot more room for innovation!" Keelah@crystyl:"Which is exactly why I think it is where you belong. Your work to date on the CIC has not gone unnoticed, and I know you have aspirations for less traditional ship design work. Plus, you have a - Keelah@crystyl:- unique understanding of many different species involved here, moreso than many others at least. So I genuinely believe that your input will be invaluable to the project" T'Emp@anncaris smiles and nods, "I'll be happy to join, then! Kratt space is only a little over two months away at regular warp for the Valley Forge anyways. Of course, Aethon doesn't have as high of a - T'Emp@anncaris - cruising speed, but they shouldn't be needing to travel as slow as they did when they were conserving power, so you should be able to make the round trip with six months. Even factoring in - T'Emp@anncaris - detours you shouldn't be gone for too much longer than half a year, definitely not a whole year! It shouldn't be much different from most cadets leaving their homeworlds for an Academy. They - T'Emp@anncaris - usually only get a chance to go back home to see their parents in half a year, some stay for the whole year without going back from what I hear." Keelah@crystyl:"I'm so proud of you Pia" she smiles T'Emp@anncaris smiles back, "You'll be dropping comm buoys like before, right?" Keelah@crystyl nods, "And I expect regular updates on your work!" T'Emp@anncaris:"I'll keep in contact as much as I can, don't you worry mum! You'll know every detail about the project! And if you have any suggestions I'll relay them for you. I'm sure they'd be interested to - T'Emp@anncaris - hear what you think, you're an engineer too after all!" Keelah@crystyl:"Oh once upon a time maybe" she chuckles T'Emp@anncaris:"You're a hero to the Coalition! They'll definitely want to hear your thoughts, even if it's just coming from your experience as a captain rather than from an engineering perspective!" Keelah@crystyl:"That is more likely" T'Emp@anncaris:"So, how long is it before the Valley Forge is setting out?" Keelah@crystyl:"A couple of days. Enough time to get everything in order" T'Emp@anncaris nods, "Plenty of time to pack things, then. I'll stay here until just before you set out." Keelah@crystyl:"We'll make a night of it" she smiles T'Emp@anncaris smiles back, "Thanks mum!" --- Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Returning from dealing with the Erehelm refugees, Sin takes the turbolift back to her own quarters Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | She is the only one in the lift and the trip passes quietly. Soon, she arrives at her destination and the doors open. As she steps out, she notices the Witch leaning on a nearby wall, her - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - glowing eyes setting her apart from Eva Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Interesting day, Sin?" Sin@crystyl 's eyes narrow on the visitor, "You already know the answer to that without even touching my mind, else you would not be here" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch smiles, "Of course. But a little small talk is required sometimes, isn't it? Glyph even has a subroutine written for it." Sin@crystyl:"Right... Glyph, yeah of course they do. Who's Glyph?" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Oh yes, you have not met him yet. My apologies. Let's not stand around blocking the hall, shall we? May I come with you to your quarters?" Sin@crystyl shrugs, "Not like I could stop you anyway. Well I mean, I could. But it would get messy and Keelah would make me clean it up. So... yeah" she turns to lead the way Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch follows, "I considered manifesting in there directly, as the Q so often do. It wouldn't be very polite though, and I cannot be as callous about my reputation since my stay will be - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - much longer than theirs." Sin@crystyl:"Fair enough. Drink? If you're making house calls now I'm guessing I'll want one at least so it's not out of my way" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch smiles and waves her hand. A drink forms in the replicator that Sin didn't order. It materializes not in any standard glass or tankard either, but a stylized bowl...the type seen in - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - the Fen palaces on Belyia Sin@crystyl smiles, "...cute. So that's me sorted. Conjure up whatever you want. Do you even still worldly pleasures like that?" Sin@crystyl heads over and kicks back on the sofa, peeling her boots off and leaning back to enjoy the drink Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch sits down opposite Sin, raising a hand in which a glass forms, complete with drink inside, "I can. When I'm being lazy, sometimes my physical manifestation is only an image, - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - little more than an illusion. But here I take the effort to form an actual body, complete with all your senses." Sin@crystyl:"Huh, kind of like Mia in that regard then" she enjoys a sip, "So what brings you here?" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Yes, very much like Mia. I thought you'd have some things on your mind, after all that's occurred. Quite the fanatical ones, aren't they?" Sin@crystyl:"That they are. Probably better that way though, less tempting for me to take advantage as those sorts are never any fun" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch chuckles, "Are you saying you would have accepted their worship if they were like your old followers back on Belyia?" Sin@crystyl shrugs, "Eh, not specifically like them. Just if they had more potential maybe. I might still in good time, but they need to ripen up some first" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Is that why you've left them at the temple to await your return?" Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, you know how it is. Let the stew boil up nice and gently over time for best results. Maybe by the time I get back they'll be more ready to deal with me" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch takes a sip of her drink, "You remember when your own powers first began manifesting?" Sin@crystyl:"Not really... I think it was starting for a long time around when I first came here, maybe a little before. But I ignored it for so long it's impossible to say exactly when" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "But you still have a recollection of what it was like. The experience of ignoring it, what you felt when it did finally surface." Sin@crystyl nods, "And the sense of dread of foreboding that meant I was being dragged unwilling towards a complete unknown that my people have been bred over generations to fear, yeah" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Much of the galaxy is experiencing their own equivalent of that now. Some of them are fortunate enough to have people to guide them, such as the Chlasi and their temple here. But many - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - do not. The Erehelm will not be the last to turn to you for guidance. Many will see a powerful psionic with control over her own powers, and ancient myths or not, will regard you as the most - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - suitable mentor." Sin@crystyl:"So... what you're saying is that the Erehelm are worth giving fuller attention to now because more will come, so my army of devout servants will grow!" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Something like that, yes. But you will not go uncontested, either. There are those who follow the path you once did, seeking to suppress this evolution out of fear." She stands, - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - offering Sin the hand not currently holding the drink Sin@crystyl:"Hmm... so enemies looking to usurp my rise to supremacy. That is indeed problematic. Very well, show me what you want me to see" she takes the hand Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | As Sin takes the hand, the room around them blurs away in a haze of black mist. When the haze finally disperses, Sin finds herself.. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 FX | https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/sto_gamepedia/images/9/9b/Qo%27noS_Great_Hall.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/2000?cb=20200607094131 Sin@crystyl looks around, "Qo'noS. Should've figured the Klingons would be against the rise of a new superpower" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | In the far end of the hall, a number of Klingon councillors are arrayed, with the new chancellor in the centre who begins to speak Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chancellor: "Then it is decided. To address the growing psionic problem within the Klingon Empire and its vassals, I declare the formation of a new branch of service- the Klingon Inquisition." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chancellor: "Step forth: Captain Dar'Kai of Klingon Intelligence." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | A Klingon male with an eyepatch and a strange-looking custom bat'leth on his back steps out from the crowd towards the Chancellor Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chancellor: "Dar'Kai, son of Dar'Mor, I name you High Inquisitor. As of its founding, the Inquisition will draw primarily from Klingon Intelligence, but it shall recruit warriors from every - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - arm of the Empire- anyone with skill or talent that can be put to use against psionics. No more will our enemies strike at us with dishonourable mind tricks and illusions! You shall be the-" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Chancellor is interrupted as several Klingons in the crowd are sent flying as a large Klingon female bursts out into the open Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Klingon Psionic: "No! These are tools of the Empire, no more dishonourable than the use of cloaks or computer viruses! This is a mistake! You are denying the Empire a powerful weapon!" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Four guards move towards the psionic, but the Chancellor holds up her hand, "This 'weapon' has caused us no end of trouble. You will not be condemned for who you are, but you will take care - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - how you use these newfound abilities of yours, if you seek to enter Sto-vo-kor as a true warrior." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Klingon Psionic: "I shall use what I have been given as I will, petaQ!" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Klingon Psionic stretches out her hand, but Dar'Kai spins around and draws his bat'leth in one fluid motion. Unlike the Klingons that were sent flying, Dar'Kai stands his ground from the - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - telekinetic burst somehow. His bat'leth seems to shake, and on closer examination, Sin can see that its blades are formed from shards of crystal, not unlike the blade made from the cutting of - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - a crystalline entity that the VF currently has on board and will soon return to Hades' collection Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | As the psionic stares in confusion, Dar'Kai pushes outward with the bat'leth and this time the psionic is sent flying, landing hard on her back. Dar'Kai wastes no time, leaping into action and - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - burying one crystalline edge into the psionic's chest before she has time to get up Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Dar'Kai pulls the blade out, leaving the blood still wet on it as he slings it onto his back and turns around to face the High Council Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Dar'Kai: "That will not happen again, Chancellor. On my honour as High Inquisitor, I swear it." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 FX | The scene fades away, and they are back in Sin's quarters Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "That is but one of the challenges you will have to face." Sin@crystyl:"You mean one of the challenges /we/ will have to face, right?" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "In a manner. I am here to guide you, but I am not here to solve your problems for you." Sin@crystyl:"So the heretics have a champion, many of them no doubt. Are you suggesting I need to be the champion of the uplifted? Because you know this could spiral quickly into an even messier conflict than - Sin@crystyl:- the Horde. Not complaining of course, but people will be pissed so know I'm blaming you for pulling my strings" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "I am saying that the time may come when you do not have a choice. This /will/ spiral quickly, too often does rational fear turn into rampant paranoia. By its very nature, this will be - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - messier than the Horde. There is no external enemy anymore, not one you can fight, at least. This time, the danger comes from within." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, it's a real shitstorm brewing up out there. But short of raising a psionic army to dominate the galaxy, I'm not really sure what you expect me to do" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Nothing, yet. I only seek to prepare you for when you do have to do something. You will find your way, just like you did with the Architect." Sin@crystyl:"Wait... you're helping us as part of your penance for being the Architect in the first place right? You're grooming me to save the galaxy again aren't you!" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch smiles, "Not quite. Not in the same way you did with the Architect, at least. You will see." Sin@crystyl:"Eugh, you've been hanging around Q for too long. Being all... mystical and cryptic like that" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Better to be cryptic than deceptive like the Architect was, at least. Not that Q doesn't ever do that. But I can't tell you what exactly is a deception and what is real," she smirks, - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - sitting back down and taking a sip from her drink Sin@crystyl sits as well, "So what happens next?" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "The Valley Forge has a new mission to go on, don't you? Or were you hoping for some insight into the future?" Sin@crystyl:"I am aware of the upcoming mission. I know better than to ask you for specific insight, I just want to have some direction for what I'm supposed to be doing" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Well, you are Ocampa. Your lives are shorter than most other sentient species. That makes you more aware of mortality, doesn't it?" Sin@crystyl:"Pfft, nah! It makes me more aware of immortality!" she grins Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch smiles, "To transcend death, you must first accept it. The inability to accept mortality was what led to the Architect's downfall. There comes a time for all of us to let go, and - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - letting go of something we treasure is far more difficult than fighting to preserve it. Soon, the Children must mature, and a key part of any child growing up is to learn that those around - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - them are mortal, that they are mortal. The ones who cannot accept mortality will repeat the mistakes of your creator." Sin@crystyl:"That all sounds good, but I've known my whole life that it's not something I need to face. I've always known deep down that the stories of Ocampa evolving beyond the physical form was true, and - Sin@crystyl:- that it was my fate. So how am I supposed to truly accept something I can never know?" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Because to ascend is simply another form of death. You know this deep down as well- that is why you fear it as others would fear death. What lies beyond is unknown to you, and no less - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - horrifying in many ways. After all, if you are ready to ascend, then why not do so now? You tell the Erehelm you still wish to experience all your physical form has to offer, but you can craft - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - another for yourself once you have ascended. Of any size, shape and capability you desire at that." Sin@crystyl hrms, "You raise an interesting point. But just because that is your ascended nature, does not mean it would be mine right? After all, nobody ever heard again from one Ocampa who was said to have - Sin@crystyl:- ascended. She just went kind of crazy for a while and disappeared into the stars" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch smiles, "I cannot reveal to you any specifics- that you will have to learn for yourself. But perhaps she did not return simply because she did not want to, or she deemed the rest of - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - your people were not ready to live alongside an ascended. Simply because she did not return does not necessarily mean she cannot. Whether or not returning is a possibility...that will be - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - something you will have to learn for yourself. This is part of the fear you must confront." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, I know you're right. I mean, if I /knew/ I could stop holding it back and just let it happen because I could keep enjoying the physical work then it would be a no brainer2 Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Precisely. Do not mistake my crypticism- I would like nothing more to tell you, but I cannot. It is part of the process that you must overcome this on your own. As I said, I am only a - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - guide. Any attempt to force ascension, well...you saw how that went with me." Sin@crystyl:"Yeah, I'm good with not forcing it. But with the exponential rate my powers grew before it honestly felt more like I was fighting it, like corking a bottle full of carbonated liquid after shaking - Sin@crystyl:- it all up" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Don't fight it, either. You could, but it would be better to let it run its course. And the same goes for your galaxy as a whole, as you will soon see." Sin@crystyl:"Understanding more about your existence does help some with that. But I'm confused about something still..." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "And that is?" Sin@crystyl:"There are many accounts of Starfleet crew encountering instances of the future, some by this very crew. Yet none have given any indication that the galaxy evolved in any way other than the - Sin@crystyl:- expected technological fashion" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "That depends on the future you encountered. There is more than a single possible future branching forward from any given time. In some, the Horde were not yet defeated, as was the case - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - with the Valley Forge from the timeline where much of the galaxy had been ravaged by the Horde. Though they are further ahead than you temporally, their galactic barrier was never dispersed. - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- In others, those who had ascended simply did not interact with you, and those who gained psionic capabilities who were members of species that did not previously possess them chose not to display - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - their abilities because your learning that could corrupt the development of your own timeline. Besides, the evolution does not occur to everyone at once. There are still plenty around you who - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - are not psionic today, and that will remain the case centuries from now." Sin@crystyl:"A fair point I guess" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Witch: "Those still living a mortal existence take great care with your linear view of time. Now that you have experienced the first stages of this evolution, it is likely you will begin to - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - see more demonstrations of it in the future, since it is no longer a...spoiler, as Q likes to put it," she smirks Sin@crystyl:"Maybe you're right. I guess only time will tell" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Witch smiles, "For you, at least." Sin@crystyl:"For now" she grins in response --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | A few days later, it is time for the Valley Forge to depart, and Keelah sees T'Pia off in the transporter room. Mana, Lycas and a few others await on the pad, ready to beam down NPC@annpc#557 | T'Pia gives Keelah a hug, "I'll miss you, mum!" Keelah@crystyl hugs her back tightly, "And I you Pia. Make yourself proud" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Pia: "Have a safe journey! And keep me updated on all the interesting things you run into!" Keelah@crystyl:"You can count on it" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Pia smiles as she pulls away and grabs her bag. She steps onto the transporter pad with the others, giving Keelah a wave NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "Ready to transport, Captain." Keelah@crystyl gives a little wave, "You look after these two now, Cadet" she smiles, indicating Mana and Lycas, "Energize" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Pia: "I will!" NPC@annpc#557 | The group disappears into transporter sparkles as they beam away Keelah@crystyl exhales deeply, content that she held her emotions in check --- NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly stands from the command chair as Keelah steps onto the bridge, "All systems are in optimal condition. We're good for departure whenever you're ready." Keelah@crystyl steps over and takes her seat, looking around at all the refreshed faces, "Well... here we go again" she smiles, "Helm, take us out" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Aye, Cap'n. Movin' us towards Hatch 1." NPC@annpc#557 | As the VF turns and moves towards the Sphere edge, Eva announces, "We're getting a message from Admiral Torin." Keelah@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya appears on the viewscreen, "Captain Se'lai. You asked me to keep you informed on the Bajor situation." Keelah@crystyl:"Impeccible timing Admiral, we are just moving for the outer hatch now to depart. What is the latest?" NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "The news only reached us less than half an hour ago, and Commander Oraten here saw your ship on the move. The reports from Deep Space Nine details that Captain Sisko is here to guide - NPC@annpc#557 - the Bajorans through trials ahead of them. What these trials are, either Sisko won't say or the Prophets didn't tell him, we're not sure which yet, but he did say that the recent psionic - NPC@annpc#557 - activity is related. Starfleet Command is still deliberating what to do, but Captain Kurland's offered to abdicate his position as commanding officer of DS9 back to Sisko so he can keep watch - NPC@annpc#557 - at Bajor. He's not a DSEC officer at the time of his disappearance so it's not my decision, but I don't think SFC is going to say no if he does want his old job back, and the current CO is - NPC@annpc#557 - willing to hand it over." Keelah@crystyl:"I suspect it is the Emissary of the Prophets who has returned to the galaxy now, not the Starfleet Captain" NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya nods, "I suspect so as well. It's likely he'll be staying with the Bajorans on Bajor, rather than reassuming his old position. He hasn't officially resigned his commission though, so - NPC@annpc#557 - we'll see. That's what we know for now." Keelah@crystyl:"I expect we will be seeing more such tales as time moves on now, just like what happened here with Sin. Something is brewing from all of this Admiral, and I don't know how I feel about it yet. I - Keelah@crystyl:- have asked the Loki to build a picture of these events for you. Hopefully it will help" NPC@annpc#557 | Enelya: "I hope so too. Well, I'll leave you to your new mission. Godspeed, Valley Forge." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Admiral" NPC@annpc#557 | The comm ends and the viewscreen shows the spherescape again as the Valley Forge approaches the hatch. It opens as they get close and tractor beams lock on, guiding the ship through - NPC@annpc#557 - into the blue clouds of the nebula beyond NPC@annpc#557 | From the outside of the nebula some time later, we see the familiar shape of the Valley Forge as it emerges, venturing out into the unknown once again... NPC@annpc#557 FX | Fade to black.