With the help of the Justicar, Nikki incorporates yet another system into her Star Empire, but finds herself having to play diplomat when they realize that the local political situation is more complex than initially thought.
Sierra Reyes@anncaris | The shape of an Avenger-class cruiser drops out of warp. At the current angle, it is largely shrouded by darkness, with the lights giving only an idea of its silhouette Sierra Reyes@anncaris FX | https://i.imgur.com/A5KORPE.jpg Sierra Reyes@anncaris | The camera circles around the ship, revealing two more vessels- the Kaishaasi, the Dhailkhina-class flagship of Nikki's Star Empire, and a Mogai on its left flank Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Still centred on the Avenger, the camera now gets a better lit angle on the vessel... Sierra Reyes@anncaris FX | https://i.imgur.com/cGqT2nD.jpg Sierra Reyes@anncaris Sound FX | https://youtu.be/DFCbU03jWYY Sierra Reyes@anncaris | The camera zooms into the Justicar's bridge, where Commander Reyes is seated in the command chair, surrounded by her bridge crew. Ori can be seen on a console, while Mischa is visible in the - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - back of the bridge Sierra Reyes@anncaris | The camera pans across the bridge, settling on the viewscreen where several Snakehead fighters that have launched from the Kaishaasi can be seen flying in front of the Justicar Sierra Reyes@anncaris FX | https://pwimages-a.akamaihd.net/arc/c7/7c/c77c33c20359c4c6ed29e50aaecf5da21611106712.png Sierra Reyes@anncaris | The three ships move closer and closer to a planet, whose orbital defenses slowly come into view Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Among them sits one of the imposing Zauger carriers, supported by a squadron of raiders Sierra Reyes@anncaris FX | https://i.imgur.com/TyKnHWQ.jpg Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Give me as much power as we can have to forward weapons and shields. Tactical, lock on the closest enemy raider and fire as soon as we're in range." Mischa@crystyl | Ori nods, "Firing solution ready" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Ensign Ch'athaalnor, an Andorian ensign on the helm, announces, "Entering weapons range...now." Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"All forward phasers, fire." Mischa@crystyl | Ori opens fire Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Sound FX | https://youtu.be/SNNu0rqp3mo Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Phaser cannons and beams shoot out from the heavily armed Justicar, peppering the enemy lines and instantly stripping one of the raiders of shields. The nimble ship immediately ducks back - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - within the cover of the defense grid, which returns fire on the Justicar, causing the bridge to shake slightly Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Don't pursue. Fire a few shots back at the orbital defenses, maybe take out a platform or two. Make it look convincing, but obliterating the orbital defenses isn't our goal here." Mischa@crystyl | Ori: "Understood" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | As the Justicar fires on the orbital defenses, the Kaishaasi begins trading fire with the Zauger carrier, while the Mogai similarly begins to cover the Romulan flagship's other flank, taking - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - some of the attention off by drawing fire from the orbital platforms. Several torpedoes come flying at the three ships, but the Romulan fighters adeptly intercept them before any impact Sierra Reyes@anncaris | The Zauger raiders try to regroup, emerging from the orbital defenses for an attack run Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Switch focus to the raiders. Don't let them close in." Mischa@crystyl | Ori updates her targeting accordingly Sierra Reyes@anncaris | The Mogai does the same, and the combined disruptor and phaser fire takes out the lead raider. The others quickly disperse back behind the covering fire of the orbital platforms again Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Good shooting, Ensign." Mischa@crystyl smiles to herself at hearing the acknowledgement Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"How's the virus coming?" Mischa@crystyl:rolls 38 (1-100) Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Monika: "This planetary defense grid does not make use of salvaged Borg technology. The Commander has located a backdoor in, but our access is currently limited." Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Can we jam their targeting and prevent them from firing?" Mischa@crystyl nods, "That much at least, we can do now" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Good enough, then. Let them have it." Mischa@crystyl lets them have it Sierra Reyes@anncaris | A few seconds later, the defense platforms suddenly stop firing Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Concentrate fire on the carrier. The strike squadron will deal with the rest." Mischa@crystyl | Ori focuses fire Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Meanwhile, an assortment of T'Varo light warbirds and captured Zauger raiders decloak. In the mix is one unique ship unlike any of the others- Gul Selesk's modified Jem'Hadar attack ship Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax: "I recognize that Dominion ship. That's Selesk's! What's that Cardassian kllhe doing here?" Mischa@crystyl sighs, "I figured he'd stick where the action is" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax: "Know him too?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | On the viewscreen, the friendly raiders immediately begin to chase after the enemy ones as the larger vessels continue to fight it out Mischa@crystyl turns with a smirk, "Did you honestly expect me not to?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax: "Good point. So he's here working for the Imperials? Strange side for him to pick, don't you think?" Mischa@crystyl:"He may have reasons, but it's always best to keep an eye on someone like that and expect betrayal sooner or later. That said, he is a capable commander and I've seen that ship of his in a fight - Mischa@crystyl:- before. If he's decided to show himself, I don't believe you need to worry about anything from him right now" Sierra Reyes@anncaris nods, "Looking at what his ship's doing now, I'm glad he's on our side, at least for the time being." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | On the viewscreen, the carrier begins to fail as its lights flicker and many of its weapons stop firing Mischa@crystyl | Ori: "The carrier is disabled. Looks like the Kaishaasi is starting to board" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"They can probably handle it from here. Helm, move us to the orbital station. We'll finish the rest of the virus' work manually." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Ch'athaalnor nods and taps his console, moving the Justicar into the defense grid Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Reroute weapons power to shields just in case." Sierra Reyes@anncaris looks back towards the rear of the bridge, "Ensign, stay here and keep up the cyberattacks. Commander, your records indicate you enjoy field work, don't you?" Mischa@crystyl smiles, "You could say that" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"I know I miss heading away missions personally now that I'm CO. Why don't you lead this mission? Siorax, go with her and bring a security squad. Get those orbital defenses fully under our control." Mischa@crystyl:"You know, one of the joys of command is the flexibility to bend such silly rules as never going on away missions" she chuckles Sierra Reyes@anncaris smirks, "Hey, the rules don't even apply to me. We're a rogue ship, remember? But you've gone up against those Zauger before. Might be good to show our security teams how to handle them the - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - first time we face them close up." Mischa@crystyl:"Makes sense" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax calls together her security team before turning to head down to the transporter room, "Time for some boarding action, Commander." Mischa@crystyl nods, "All of your team are chipped I take it?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax nods back, "We're protected, don't worry. Shadow Guard's seen to that." Mischa@crystyl:"Good, that will be our greatest advantage there then" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa, Siorax and four security crewmen, two of them Romulan, materialize inside a cargo bay of the orbital station NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Immediate area's clear, but I sense people nearby. Be ready." Mischa@crystyl scans around as well, "Let's make this quick and clean" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax nods, signalling the team to move out and leads the way. As they proceed, Mischa notes that Siorax's rifle has had a number of custom modifications. Interestingly, the base model is not - NPC@annpc#557 - Romulan in design, but an Andorian phaser rifle design common on frontier Federation colonies, often employed by planetary defense forces NPC@annpc#557 | The team makes their way out of the storage area and into the hallway beyond. Mischa's scanners pick up lifesigns spread out in a nearby bay, but no sign of any of them being armed Mischa@crystyl:"Possible civilians up ahead" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "I sense them. They're afraid. I think they're hiding rather than ambushing. Watch our backs, but I doubt they're a threat." Mischa@crystyl nods NPC@annpc#557 | As they continue onwards, Mischa starts picking up Zauger lifesigns coming down the hall Mischa@crystyl:"Zauger at 12 o'clock. We should be able to get the jump on them" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax nods, gesturing for them to take up positions around the hall. The team does so professionally, even the Romulan enlisted crew, showing as much discipline as any seasoned Starfleet - NPC@annpc#557 - security team. They raise their rifles and looks to Siorax, awaiting her signal as the Zauger come into view down a curve in the hall NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax waits until all the Zauger are in view before giving the signal to fire Mischa@crystyl joins in but lets the security detail do the heavy lifting NPC@annpc#557 | The attack does indeed catch the Zauger unaware, allowing them to cut down all but one of the enemy patrol. A few of them return fire, but panicked and surprised their shots go wild, not - NPC@annpc#557 - hitting a single target as they go down. The last Zauger manages to get behind cover, but Siorax reaches out a hand and the Zauger finds an invisible force pulling on his ankles Mischa@crystyl puts him out of his misery NPC@annpc#557 | The Zauger is yanked to the ground facing the other way. He fires his rifle out of panic in the wrong direction as he is telekinetically dragged out into the open. It is an easy shot, and - NPC@annpc#557 - Mischa finishes him off without any effort NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Clear. You're right, these implants make ambushing them like hunting blind hlai'vna." Mischa@crystyl:"For the most part. Their leaders may have heightened awareness, but nowhere near as attuned as yours" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax nods, "Let's press on. Even if they don't know we're coming, I expect we'll see heavier resistance near the ops centre." Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, and sooner or later even if they don't sense us they will notice their patrols missing. Let's move" NPC@annpc#557 | They proceed through the deck without further resistance and soon arrive at a turbolift. Siorax approaches the lift, tapping the panel, "Locked, as I thought." She looks to Mischa, "Can you - NPC@annpc#557 - override it?" Mischa@crystyl:"Shouldn't be a problem. One moment, cover me" she slings her rifle and gets to work NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax steps back, holding the rifle at the ready and standing alert. Before long, Mischa is able to override the controls and call the lift Mischa@crystyl stands and smiles, "Nice and simple" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax smiles back, "Knew you could do it. Everyone in." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax waits for the team to enter first before stepping in and selecting their destination NPC@annpc#557 | She immediately moves to the side of the door and the rest of the team follows suit, "They'll be waiting for us once we arrive. Or at least I would." Mischa@crystyl:"As would I" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax unhooks a grenade from her belt, but as the lift begins to near its destination, she closes her eyes and then puts the grenade back, "Oh they're better prepared than I thought from our - NPC@annpc#557 - first encounter." She smirks, "Unfortunately in this case they're just saving us equipment." Mischa@crystyl:"What do you sense?" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "They know the lift is coming. They've set an ambush. Be ready to fire, you'll know when." NPC@annpc#557 | The door slides open and a flashbang rolls inside. Siorax holds out her hand and the flashbang stops in place without going off, then slowly begins to roll back out. There is a bang as it goes - NPC@annpc#557 - off among the enemies waiting to ambush them Mischa@crystyl smiles and takes advantage NPC@annpc#557 | The rest of the team does so as well and they quickly take out the Zauger waiting in place to ambush them. A second group comes rushing down the hall, raising their rifles and returning fire, - NPC@annpc#557 - though quite inaccurately from this distance Mischa@crystyl calmly starts picking them off NPC@annpc#557 | As Mischa and the team opens fire, Siorax reaches out a hand again, levitating one of the fallen Zauger's rifles off the ground and turning it on the enemy, spraying disruptor fire among their - NPC@annpc#557 - ranks. Though the telekinetically controlled disruptor isn't particularly accurate, it still takes out a few Zauger who weren't expecting it. The chaos it causes forces the others to try and - NPC@annpc#557 - retreat to new cover, allowing Mischa and the others to finish them off Mischa@crystyl does so without prejudice NPC@annpc#557 | As the second group of Zauger are finished off, a few more emerge from the bend in the hallway. Witnessing what happened, one of them shouts, "Enemy Sorcerer! Fall back!" and they quickly - NPC@annpc#557 - disappear behind the bend NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax gestures for the team to proceed carefully and leads the way out, moving from cover to cover down the hallway NPC@annpc#557 | They carefully turn the bend in the hallway, but there is no ambush this time, only a door. Once again, Siorax approaches, but it is locked Mischa@crystyl joins her again, "Allow me" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "This is why the Commander asked you to come along." She takes cover on the edge of the door. "You're not a bad shot, either." Mischa@crystyl chuckles at that, "Glad you think so. Though it is hard to do much with any finesse in close quarters like this. Always so messy" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax smirks, "More of the sniper type, huh?" Mischa@crystyl:"Very much so, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax chuckles, priming another grenade, "I can see why boarding actions aren't your thing. A bit of a specialty of mine, though." Mischa@crystyl:"So I noticed" NPC@annpc#557 | As Mischa gets the door open, Siorax tosses the grenade in. Immediately following the detonation, she leans around the corner of the door and begins opening fire NPC@annpc#557 | After a few shots, Siorax ducks back into cover. looking to Mischa while the rest of the team continues shooting, "Seems like someone else had the same idea we did. The defenders are dealing - NPC@annpc#557 - with another attack on the opposite side." Mischa@crystyl:"The Imperials perhaps" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Probably. They have the implants too. I can't get a good read on whoever they are, I can only sense that someone's there, so they're definitely chipped." Mischa@crystyl:"Well let's simply take advantage of it for the moment" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax nods, "We shouldn't need to use more grenades with the enemy being attacked from both sides. Should make your job easier if more of ops is intact," she chuckles Mischa@crystyl:"I am all for making life easier" Mischa@crystyl continues the casual conversation while whittling down the enemy holdouts NPC@annpc#557 does the same, picking off the Zauger along with the security team. As they fight, Mischa notes the distinctive red robes of a Zauger Sorcerer among the mix of the commanding forces Mischa@crystyl:"Priority target there, red robes. That's a sorcerer and should not be underestimated" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Sorcerer, that's their psionics, right?" Mischa@crystyl nods NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Can you get a clear shot?" Mischa@crystyl:"I am attempting to do so" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "I'll give you a little distraction. Time to show off your sniping skills," she smirks as she raises an arm, telekinetically hurling a fallen Zauger at the sorcerer Mischa@crystyl aims carefully and takes her shot at the opportune moment NPC@annpc#557 | The Sorcerer telekinetically deflects the dead Zauger, but becomes aware of the presence of a psionic working against him. As he tries to search for Sio, Mischa is able to get a good shot... NPC@annpc#557 | As the Sorcerer goes down, the rest of the Zauger quickly begin to lose their coordination, likely from a combination of panic and whatever telepathic morale boosting the Sorcerer was - NPC@annpc#557 - responsible for. Between the attackers on both sides, the enemies are quickly wiped out NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "All clear!" Mischa@crystyl:"Now lets see about this second attack group NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax leads the way into the ops room just as the second group enters as well. A Breen and a Corvallen steps in, followed by the familiar face of Gul Selesk... NPC@annpc#557 | Two more Cardassians follow Selesk in as the self-stylized Gul makes his way over to the Justicar's boarding team NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "So you must be the crew of the famous rogue Starfleet ship." Mischa@crystyl:"Must be. Funny, I don't recall inviting anyone else to our little party today" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "We cleared up the raiders pretty quickly, so I thought we'd lend you a hand here." He narrows his eyes at Siorax. "Well, well, well, if it isn't Sio. Unless I have my Romulan-Reman - NPC@annpc#557 - hybrids mixed up?" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "There's a few of us in the business, but I think we look distinct enough. Then again, I am one myself." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "I didn't know you had joined up with the renegades." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "I could say the same about you signing on with the Imperials." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "It's just a job." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Like you'd do any common mercenary work." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "If there's something in it for me." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "And what might that be?" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk smiles, "I was actually hoping to talk to you about that. Your superiors that is, not you personally. I have no intention of sharing confidential intelligence with the muscle." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax glares, "It's not a smart idea to upset 'the muscle,' you know." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk gestures to the Breen, "I have muscle of my own standing by." He looks to Mischa. "You look a little familiar as well...have we met before?" Mischa@crystyl:"It is not outside the realm of possibility, I have been around. But... no, I don't think so" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Perhaps I've come across your personnel file somewhere. You look like someone who might be in charge- are you her superior?" Mischa@crystyl:"Not directly, but I am in a position of overall authority. So you can talk to me" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Let's get the orbital defenses fully under our control first. Then we can talk somewhere in private. Romulan facilities are good for that." Mischa@crystyl:"Something to look forward to" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk moves for the nearest console while Sio continues to glare at him NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "What?" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Don't even think about planting any bugs. The Commander'll catch it." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk raises his arms innocently, "I don't know where you get this impression of me as a conniving holo-villain. Fine, I'll stand aside if it comforts you, but it'll be faster with my help. - NPC@annpc#557 - And I'll deal with the other Zauger on the station while I'm at it." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "The Romulan crew better not be harmed, or you'll have us /and/ the Imperials to answer to." Mischa@crystyl:"It's fine Sio, let him work. I'll keep an eye on him" Mischa@crystyl:"I mean, I will assist him to expedite the task for everyone. Naturally" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk smiles, "Thank you!" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax nods, moving over to the door to stand guard NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "You can get started on taking control of the defense systems. I'll start arranging some...accidents for the surviving Zauger. Unless you want them alive, but you've already killed the - NPC@annpc#557 - Sorcerer. Zauger foot soldiers aren't worth capturing- if you've interrogated one, you've interrogated them all." Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed, I will focus on the defense systems" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Don't worry, I'll make sure the Romulans remain unharmed. I'm not suicidal." Mischa@crystyl:"Only a fool would try anything under the nose of the Shadow Guard /and/ the new Imperial Empress. You may be many things, but I do not believe a fool is one of them" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk grins, "Precisely. Finally, someone who gets me." Mischa@crystyl:"Maybe, only time will tell" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk merely continues to smile as he taps away on the console NPC@annpc#557 | Outside the station, an airlock opens, sucking a squad of Zauger out into the vacuum of space... --- Romulan@annpc#557 | On the Kaishaasi, Nikki observes the aftermath of the battle from the bridge Romulan@annpc#557 | Tactical Officer: "The Justicar's boarding team has taken the orbital station's operations centre. The defense grid is now under our control." Nikki@crystyl:"Excellent progress. I expect nothing less from them" Romulan@annpc#557 | Ops Officer: "Our boarding parties have control of the carrier's bridge and engineering. Proceeding to clear the rest of the ship of enemy forces now." Nikki@crystyl:"Should be little more than a formality at this point" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella nods, "All in all a very successful operation." Romulan@annpc#557 | Comm Officer: "We are being hailed from the surface. The governor's building, I believe." Nikki@crystyl:"It's about time they woke up. Let's hear it" Romulan@annpc#557 | A Romulan male dressed in rather elegant formal clothing appears on the viewscreen, "Thank you for freeing us from the Zauger. You are the Empress everyone has been speaking of, I assume?" Nikki@crystyl smiles and bows her head a little, "Empress Nikee ir-Fethraie t'Rllaillieu, at your service" Romulan@annpc#557 | Romulan: "I am Jelor e-Cheretak tr'Vettrai, the...temporary governor of Melik V. The closest thing left to one, at least." Nikki@crystyl:"I would say congratulations on the promotion, were the circumstances not so grim. Rather, my condolences for the loss of your predecessor. And... thank you for stepping up and taking the reins" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "It is the least I can do. We are dealing with the remaining Zauger on the surface now. They have lost their coordination now that their Third Eye device is no longer assisting them, - Romulan@annpc#557 - and have become easy pickings for our people." Nikki@crystyl:"That is gratifying to hear. Whilst your people clearly have things in hand, I have mine ready to come and assist at your behest - be it with clearing out the remaining Zauger, or providing aid" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Actually, most of the civilians have taken it upon themselves to hunt down the Zauger through the streets of our capital. I am trying to organize a more effective response as we have - Romulan@annpc#557 - a more fortified holdout at the old military base. I will send you the coordinates- it would be better to have professionals leading the assault." Nikki@crystyl:"Of course, my forces will coordinate with your resistance and cleanse the Zauger presence once and for all" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Thank you. I will have our new head of planetary defense coordinate with you. The Governor's Palace and immediate area are clear and protected by loyal Romulans. It should be safe for - Romulan@annpc#557 - you to visit so we may officially announce our entry into your Empire." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "I am so pleased to hear that you desire this. It would be our honour to come and formally welcome you back" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "And we are pleased to be part of a Romulan Empire once again. Vitellius claims that his Empire is Romulan, but he oppresses every world he conquers with those alien monsters he has - Romulan@annpc#557 - brought from beyond our space. It is moreso an extension of the Zauger Empire." Nikki@crystyl:"And I sincerely hope to one day open his eyes to this fact. But for now, let us not dwell on Vitellius and his puppetmasters. For today is a day of liberation and celebration" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor nods and smiles, "Allow me to formally invite you to the Governor's Palace of Malik V then, for our celebration and induction into your territories. Whenever you are ready, of course, - Romulan@annpc#557 - and you may bring as many guards as you like." Nikki@crystyl:"Besides my immediate delegation, any guards or troops coming to the surface can be of much better use providing aid to your people" she smiles, "We will see you shortly, Governor" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Excellent. I shall have a reception ready for you. I assure you, our people will have you adequately protected." --- Romulan@annpc#557 | Nikki beams down with Imaella and Serenity, materializing in a sizable transporter room where Jelor awaits them Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Welcome to Malik V, Empress." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki smiles, "Thank you for having us Governor" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Thank /you/ for liberating us from the Zauger. It is our honour to have you here." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "How are you people faring now?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "I've just received word that the old military base has been cleared out with the help of your troops. There are some stragglers remaining who had fled out into the wilds, but they will - Romulan@annpc#557 - either get themselves killed or be hunted down before long. I think we are free of immediate danger, now comes the part of restructuring and reorganizing our government." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "Otherwise known as the hard part. Rest assured we'll do all we can to assist" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "We will certainly welcome all the support you can give. Most of our old leadership were killed by the Zauger when they first took the planet. Come, follow me, Empress." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki nods and follows Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor leads them out of the transporter room and into a large hallway. As they walk, they notice some black marks along the walls, clearly signs of weapon damage Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "I hope you will forgive our appearance, we had to oust the Zauger rather forcefully when the battle broke out, as you would expect." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "Completely understandable, Governor. You need not worry about pristine impressions with us" Romulan@annpc#557 | The hallway leads into a rather impressive rotunda, decorated with tall pillars. The area is marred by some battle damage like the hallway before it, but it is clear that this is quite the - Romulan@annpc#557 - grand place when in perfect condition Serenity@crystyl looks around in awe Romulan@annpc#557 | As Serenity looks around, she notices that aside from the Romulan guards, there are two unfamiliar aliens. They are dressed in plain grey clothes and sport blue skin with a crest on their - Romulan@annpc#557 - foreheads. One of them is cleaning some bloodstains from the floor, while the other works on a damaged door Serenity@crystyl:"I was not aware of any other species inhabiting this world..." Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor looks to the alien cleaning the bloodstains, then back to Serenity, "Ah yes, the Cuuhaesu, or as they call themselves, the Retelon. I'm not surprised you've never heard of them, few - Romulan@annpc#557 - offworlders have. They're native to Malik V, a primitive civilization who was not even close to achieving warp travel when the Star Empire first colonized this world. We use them for labour - Romulan@annpc#557 - and mundane work. The only ones who have ever left Malik were in the capacity of servants to our more affluent citizens." Serenity@crystyl:"I see. Thank you for the exposition" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "I am happy to answer any questions you have about our world- your new world now, Empress," he smiles at Nikki Serenity@crystyl | Nikki smiles, "Loyal Romulan citizens free from oppression is all I need to know right now" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor continues leading the way, through the rotunda and to a staircase Romulan@annpc#557 | As they ascend the staircase, Serenity sees two more of the Retelon walk past them. Curiously, they did not seem to have climbed down the stairs- the only place they could have been was the - Romulan@annpc#557 - space underneath the staircase Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor either doesn't notice this or doesn't mind however, and continues to lead the team up the staircase Romulan@annpc#557 | Soon, they make their way to a sizable dining hall. Two guards stand at the entrance, and within a number of other individuals are already seated Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor gestures for a seat at the end of the table, "The seat is yours, Empress." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki smiles and nods, moving to the head of the table Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor and Imaella both take empty seats nearby Serenity@crystyl finds an empty seat as close to Nikki as she can Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Gathered here are all the new members of our government." He gestures to a middle-aged Romulan female. "Hathusa t'Maenivek you're already familiar with, she's the new head of our - Romulan@annpc#557 - planetary defense." Romulan@annpc#557 | As Jelor introduces everyone, two more Retelon enter, these ones waiters carrying covered plates Serenity@crystyl watches the Retelon and activity around the room with more interest than leadership introductions, while Nikki is the exact opposite Romulan@annpc#557 | The two Retelon waiters set their dishes on the table. One of them makes the mistake of standing beside Serenity while she does so, as she uncovers the plate to reveal not food, but a - Romulan@annpc#557 - low-tech, makeshift pistol of some description... Romulan@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/ao0TlXJ.jpg Serenity@crystyl very quickly pins the Retelon's arm against the table and draws her sword, "Not so fast!" Romulan@annpc#557 | The occupants of the table all jump at the sudden movement. Across the table, the other Retelon uncovers a similar weapon from his plate. He manages to raise the pistol, but Imaella draws and - Romulan@annpc#557 - fires her disruptor faster than he does, taking him out with a well-placed shot to the centre of the chest. The assassin drops lifelessly to the ground, the pistol clattering beside him Romulan@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, the Retelon pinned down by Serenity begins to move her other hand, but freezes as she sees the blade and her comrade falling Serenity@crystyl observes the hesitation, "That's the first smart thing you've done here. Now explain" Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "So you can learn everything I know about our plans before you kill me? You might as well do so now, Romulan." Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor looks to the body of the assassin Imaella shot, then back to Nikki, "That was...I am so sorry about this. I assure you, Empress, I had nothing to do with it. In the chaos of the battle - Romulan@annpc#557 - and everything, they must've...slipped through. Our security were focused on keeping an eye on Zauger, not our servants..." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "Why should they need to focus on your servants. Unless they are not so willing as they appear...?" she looks to the one Serenity has pinned Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "You must be the Empress, then? Seeing as you're not familiar with our history here." Serenity@crystyl:"Wait, you were going to try and assassinate her and you didn't even know who she was?" Serenity@crystyl mutters, "...these people do not seem a threat on the level we are used to handling..." Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "You are all important Romulan leaders. That is all I need to know." Serenity@crystyl:"You are mistaken, since I am not important. Though I am Romulan, so you at least got that much right..." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki clears her throat before Serenity does her usual and looks to Jelor, "What do you know of this?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Well, I knew there was some discontent among the Cuuhaesu, but I never thought they would do something like this. Especially now, of all times." Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "A little discontent? You are nothing but a hypocrite, Governor. You sit here, celebrating your people's freedom from oppression, while you oppress us and never think twice of it." Serenity@crystyl:"Surely your peoples liberation counts alongside that of the Romulans here? You were all oppressed by the Zauger, right?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "Yes, but while you Romulans will be enjoying your freedom, things will just be the same for my people while you are here. So we took the opportunity to organize a revolution of our - Romulan@annpc#557 - own, retake our world while you are at your weakest. It's the best shot we have." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "It would seem the situation here is far less simple than we had believed..." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "It always is, isn't it..." She looks to the Retelon. "You call this a revolution and mentioned plans. I assume your people have something larger planned than this one assassination?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "You assume correctly. But I'll die before I reveal what that is." Serenity@crystyl:"Choosing to die is simply wasteful and does nothing for your cause" Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "She is quite right you know. I think it would be far more constructive for your people to rethink their approach to things now that we are here and in a time of change for this world" Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "I...suppose I haven't managed to assassinate a single one of you, so my death here would be for nothing." She looks to Nikki. "You claim to know nothing about our situation here?" Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "Until we arrived here just now we did not even know your species existed" Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "Then take me prisoner and I will explain the situation to you. Contrary to what your people might believe, my people aren't primitive fools. I know we have no hope of fighting - Romulan@annpc#557 - your whole Empire, even with a civil war raging on. Negotiating with the wider Empire will be necessary after our revolution here, and since you've conveniently presented yourself to us..." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki's eyes narrow slightly, "Not my choice of words, but yes. I am here now, and this opens a previously unavailable door to your people for this to end amicably. But before anything else, I - Serenity@crystyl:- need to know that no further acts of rebellion will be carried out against the Romulan population here, and if I am going to hold talks with anyone, they had better be in a position to speak for - Serenity@crystyl:- all of your people" Romulan@annpc#557 | Retelon: "I am not a leader of the rebellion. I cannot call off any further attacks. But I can get you a channel with one of our leaders." Serenity@crystyl:"Then do so. Governor, I trust you can accommodate said channel and make suitable arrangements to guarantee this said leader a safe audience with us" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor nods, "I will take the prisoner and arrange an audience with this rebel leader. Once again, Empress, I apologize for this disruption." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki: "On the contrary, I am pleased that our arrival has timed with this so that the internal situation here can be properly addressed. Now, once these arrangements have been made perhaps you - Serenity@crystyl:- could tell me all about the history here" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Of course, Empress." --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the orbital station, Mischa has gained control of the defense grid and turned it over to the Imperials. She proceeds to one of the station's offices to have that private chat with Gul Selesk NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax follows as Mischa heads down to the office, "What'd you think he's playing at?" Mischa@crystyl:"Whatever it is, I'm sure it is no good to us" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "And good for him, no doubt. He seems pretty eager to talk to our crew, not you specifically. Think he'll let me in to watch your back?" Mischa@crystyl:"Let's assume he will" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "I'll come with you. If he won't talk with the both of us, I'll wait outside and watch the door. I'm sure you can handle one old Cardassian if he tries something." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. But hopefully you can get a read on him too" NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "Unfortunately it seems like he's got one of our implants from somewhere. But I should still be able to get a sense of surface emotions with a little effort. I'll let you know if I - NPC@annpc#557 - think there's danger." Mischa@crystyl nods and enters the office NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax follows her in. Gul Selesk sits at a desk in a rather casual pose, smiling as he sees them, "I thought the two of you would show. My offer's just a little too curious to pass up, isn't - NPC@annpc#557 - it?" Mischa@crystyl:"The only offer I recall is an explanation of your presence here. And since we demanded it, that doesn't make it much of an offer" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Very well, I'll provide you with one." He taps a console in front of him, sealing the door to the room. "Don't worry, I'm not going to try anything. Just for privacy's sake, you - NPC@annpc#557 - understand." Mischa@crystyl:"Naturally" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Now, as for why I'm here...I suppose you've already assumed I didn't sign up with the Imperials for the pay." Mischa@crystyl:"That much would be a given" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "But I /am/ here to ensure the Imperial loyalists win the war. I just have...other employers with a vested interest in seeing Vitellius defeated, but unwilling to intervene themselves." Mischa@crystyl:"There are not many who would take such a vested interest in internal Romulan affairs..." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Oh these people seem to have a vested interest in /everything/. Including your ship. They want you dead, actually." He raises a finger, "No reason to be concerned, though. That's not - NPC@annpc#557 - my mission." Mischa@crystyl:"Well, that's fortunate. I don't suppose you'd care to elaborate on who this employer of yours is" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "They haven't told me who they are. Wise on their part, I must say, but quite frustrating for me." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "You work for them and you don't even know who they are?" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "I got some good benefits out of them. But of course, I've slowly been piecing together and building an idea of who they are." Mischa@crystyl:"Now that's more befitting a man of your reputation" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "I believe they're involved in a galaxy-wide operation, even larger and more well-organized than the Scryer Network at its height. They have operatives within all major galactic - NPC@annpc#557 - players, including your Federation, and in quite high positions at that. And I have reason to suspect that the operation is not only galactic, but temporal." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk smiles, "Sounds familiar to you?" Mischa@crystyl:"I wouldn't be worth my position if I didn't know at least something about such rumours" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk leans forward, "Now, from my association with the Imperials here, I've learned that you've recently had a little...scuffle with them. And to my surprise, you not only survived to tell - NPC@annpc#557 - the tale, but came out victorious." Mischa@crystyl:"It doesn't take a Scryer to know that the one thing you pretty much guarantee from Starfleet is the ability to adapt and surprise in the face of adversity" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Indeed, but these people probably have most of Starfleet wrapped around their fingers. Not to mention drastically advanced technology. Yes, you were outclassed by the Borg and the - NPC@annpc#557 - Dominion when you first encountered them, but these ships were on another level. Yet you still did it. That says something." Mischa@crystyl:"It says more to you than that we are simply good at what we do, I guess" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk nods, "You certainly are. I'm not usually impressed by much, but you've certainly impressed me. And to be honest, these temporal benefactors were only giving me the minimum required for - NPC@annpc#557 - me to fulfill my missions. The rewards weren't /that/ good, and I think I've gotten just about everything they're willing to let me have. So...how would you like to have someone on the inside - NPC@annpc#557 - of your enemy for once? NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax narrows her eyes, "You offering to be a double agent for us?" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Something like that." Mischa@crystyl:"Just like that? What could possibly seem suspicious about such an offer..." NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk smiles, "I thought you'd say that. I'm not asking you to trust me or anything silly like that. Of course you don't. But when the time is right, I'll offer you a helping hand, whatever - NPC@annpc#557 - that may be. Some intel, some sabotage, we'll see." NPC@annpc#557 | Siorax: "And what do you get out of this?" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Why, I like to be on the winning side." Mischa@crystyl:"That alone doesn't necessarily equate to any actual benefit" NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "No, but when the dust clears, there'll probably be something for me. Better than being dead working for the wrong side, at the very least. I'm not asking you to commit to any plan or - NPC@annpc#557 - anything like that. Just...keep an open mind when the time comes, and remember who helped you," he smiles Mischa@crystyl:"Well that much, I can do" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Selesk: "Good! Well, none of this matters in the moment anyways. It seems despite your differences with my employers, both of you want Vitellius gone. So let's put an end to that smug old - NPC@annpc#557 - magician, shall we?" Mischa@crystyl:"That sounds like a plan we can all get behind" --- Romulan@annpc#557 | On the surface, Nikki, Imaella and Serenity sits down with Governor Jelor to discuss the situation. Jelor leads them to his office, located at the top of the Governor's Palace and offering - Romulan@annpc#557 - an impressive view of the capital city beyond. The office itself is very large and well decorated, containing its own drink cabinet as well as replicator Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Can I get you ladies something to drink?" Nikki@crystyl:"Yes, today is feeling increasingly like one for a stiff drink I think" she offers while taking a seat Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor heads towards the drink cabinet, "Some kali-fal, then." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella sits down as well, "I'll take one too." Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor takes out a bottle of the blue drink and three glasses, setting it down on the table and pouring it, "2412 vintage. Locally produced here on Malik V." Nikki@crystyl:"Lovingly crafted by skilled Romulans who know their trade, or by reluctant slaves who have no appreciation for it?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor frowns, "The Cuuhaesu are not slaves. Yes, they do tend to take the more labour intensive and monotonous work, but they don't have the knowledge or intelligence to design starships or - Romulan@annpc#557 - manage subspace communications. And they're paid for their work, every servant and every farmer." Nikki@crystyl:"Good. Then perhaps we can open todays talks by telling them that, since it doesn't seem to be their interpretation" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor pours out the drinks, "There are always radical elements among every group. These rebels do not necessarily represent the view of all Cuuhaesu. I know plenty who are quite happy with - Romulan@annpc#557 - their lives." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "Of course they'd tell /you/ that." Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor hands two of the glasses to Imaella and Nikki, "If they did all feel so strongly about their position, they would all be part of this rebellion, but we're not seeing a full-scale - Romulan@annpc#557 - uprising here, are we?" Nikki@crystyl:"For all we know, perhaps we are" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor sighs, taking a seat, "And taking over after the Zauger occupation was already difficult enough without all this..." Nikki@crystyl:"Look, chances are you are right in that the majority are content. But that there are enough even to organize a rebellion as they have makes them enough of a majority that we would be foolish to - Nikki@crystyl:- ignore them, lest they grow like a cancer throughout your freshly liberated world" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor nods, "Indeed. Our prisoner has gotten us contact with the rebel leaders, and we are trying to set up a meeting now. In the meantime, I believe you wanted a history lesson?" Nikki@crystyl:"Yes, I would like to know exactly how the relationship between you and the indigenous evolved since settling here" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "The Star Empire colonized this world nearly two hundred years ago. We found the Cuuhaesu here, but the largely tropical environment of the planet was optimal for Romulan colonization, - Romulan@annpc#557 - and the locals didn't have the technology to put up any resistance. As expected, some of them tried, but others were quite content to work with us in exchange for what we could offer them." Nikki@crystyl sips quietly and listens Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "We integrated the ones who were friendly into our society. We gave them access to modern luxuries, drastically improved their quality of life. We even taught them how to handle some - Romulan@annpc#557 - modern technologies. They became instrumental to our colony here." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "And the ones who did put up resistance?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "We defended ourselves from them when they attacked, but most of these factions were eliminated by their own people. Ones who knew that working with us was the best future for their - Romulan@annpc#557 - civilization." Nikki@crystyl:"Do they have any recognized leadership or governance of their own?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "In every city, there's a Retelon Committee, usually consisting of a representative from each profession. A farmer representative, a servant representative, a technician representative - Romulan@annpc#557 - and so on. They discuss any issues they have, and if they can't resolve it themselves, they bring it to our attention. We have a Cuuhaesu Affairs department specifically to address these - Romulan@annpc#557 - concerns." Nikki@crystyl:"So these people aren't exactly neglected. Good. Though this begs the question further as to why these rebels are so disgruntled" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "There's always grievances, I suppose. Everyone has grievances. What prompted them to start a rebellion, I can't say. There's been no single incident I can think of in recent memory. - Romulan@annpc#557 - These are just opportunistic, power-hungry people making their move when we're at our most vulnerable." Nikki@crystyl:"Perhaps. We shall soon see" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "Just how advanced were these Retelon before this world was colonized?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Not advanced at all. They've only begun using basic projectile firearms and experimenting with steam technology. Cavalry and cannons were still their primarily tools for warfare." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella nods, "And what are they capable of now?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "We don't train them for military service, but it doesn't take much to figure out how to use a disruptor. If they have a supply of modern weapons, they could wield them, but they don't - Romulan@annpc#557 - have the skills to maintain or repair them." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "You mentioned technicians earlier. Some of them do serve as technicians." Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Yes, but for minor, household appliances. We never let them touch weapons technology." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "If there is a full-scale insurrection, we have to be prepared for the possibility that some of them might've figured it out with the knowledge they have." Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor nods, "But they most certainly lack the ability to produce them from scratch. Even if they had the skill, they don't have the infrastructure or resources. We just have to make sure our - Romulan@annpc#557 - equipment don't fall into their hands." Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "With Zauger fleeing into the jungles, that may be difficult." Nikki@crystyl:"All the more reason to prevent that from happening. Let's have one of the ships start tracking down their lifesigns on sensors. Shouldn't be that hard now they're isolated" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "I'll have the Mogai on it immediately, Empress." Romulan@annpc#557 | A message flashes on Jelor's console and he leans forward, "We have a meeting booked with the rebels now." Nikki@crystyl:"Time to get to the bottom of all this. Are any of their official representatives joining us as well, or just the disgruntled party?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "Only the disgruntled party. The official representatives all claim they have nothing to do with these rebels. We could ask them to join, of course, if you believe that will be beneficial.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"No sense rushing anything now. Let us give our undivided attention to those demanding it for now. We can confer with the officials afterwards" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor nods, "They want us to meet on neutral territory. Tomorrow morning, in the expansion area of the capital." Nikki@crystyl:"You trust this location choice?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor: "It's a reasonable location, between the city proper and the jungle, which the Cuuhaesu know. Most of the buildings in the expansion zone has barely been started, so there's few places - Romulan@annpc#557 - to hide and set up an ambush, but many workers there are Releton. No doubt some of them may answer to this rebel leader, so if we do try something, he has his backup. It's well within - Romulan@annpc#557 - transporter range of the city, so we can beam out if they attack us, or transport troops in from the city or your ships." Nikki@crystyl:"Fair enough" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor takes out an isolinear chip from his console and hands it to Nikki, "Here's the coordinates." He eyes Serenity, "Bring your bodyguard tomorrow, she did well earlier." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "She always does" Romulan@annpc#557 | Jelor smiles back, "We'll see you there, then. I hope we can get this crisis sorted together." Nikki@crystyl:"Where there is a will, there is a way" --- Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Upon returning from the station, Mischa and Siorax debriefs with Sierra in her ready room Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Good work with the boarding action. I knew you'd be a valuable asset, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"It was quite the fun little excursion in the end" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax smiles, "That it was. And the Commander proved how good of a shot she was, too. Definitely bring her along if there's any planetside missions. She's one fine sniper." Sierra Reyes@anncaris smiles back, "That's good to know. I'm glad you enjoyed the field trip." Mischa@crystyl:"Then of course there was the surprise guest" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"That Jem'Hadar mercenary ship and its crew, I assume? We saw it approach the station and beam a boarding party over as well." Mischa@crystyl:"Led by everybody's favourite Gul" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"I assume you looked into why he was on that station?" Mischa@crystyl:"He was very forthcoming about that actually. Apparently he is working as an agent of an unnamed employer who sound very much like our temporal friends. Apparently they are on our side when it comes- Mischa@crystyl:- to the Romulans and tasked the Cardassian with ensuring Vitellius' defeat" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"They want Vitellius gone too? Interesting. So he's working for our enemies, but they haven't given him orders to deal with us?" Mischa@crystyl:"Precisely, or so he says at least. Furthermore, he has indicated a strong distrust for them and a favouring for us over them. He suggested that when the time comes, he will show himself as a friend- Mischa@crystyl:- and ally to us in the fight against them" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Do you trust him?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax bluntly replies, "No." Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Okay, not trust him, but...do you think he'll actually help us in the future?" Mischa@crystyl:"I think there's more to his game plan than anyone but he himself knows. But that doesn't make it impossible" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax nods, "It's always hard to say what Selesk's really up to. But betraying an employer? Wouldn't be his first time. He's not known for his loyalty." Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"But it's just as likely he might be luring us into a trap. Planting false intelligence, giving us an opening only to close it and trap us, something like that." Mischa@crystyl:"If it is in his interests to do so, then absolutely" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"And what do you think his interests are in all this?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Siorax: "If there's one word to describe Selesk, it's selfish. His interests always benefit himself." Mischa@crystyl:"And it may be possible that with all he's learned about this enemy, those selfish interests are leading him down a path of self preservation. But that is optimistic supposition at best" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Let's keep a close eye on him, try and figure out what he's up to. I suppose we'll have to see when the time comes whether we want to trust whatever he's going to provide us." Mischa@crystyl:"I'll say this much, he's certainly going to keep this interesting for me" she smiles Sierra Reyes@anncaris chuckles, "That's definitely looking to be the case. I admit, it'll be nice to have someone on the inside for once, even if Selesk isn't in their inner circles. They've got their fingers all - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - over Starfleet." Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, and our first chance to get someone on the inside with Commander Watson failed, so I am certainly eager to see where this goes" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"I hope it works to our favour. Double agents are difficult enough to trust as is, and we had to get Selesk, who sounds like a /very/ untrustworthy character. But maybe that's a good thing, since - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - it's our enemies who currently trust him." Mischa@crystyl:"Only time will tell" Sierra Reyes@anncaris nods, "We'll have to wait and see when Selesk makes his move, then." --- Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Upon returning to the Kaishaasi, Nikki is informed that they have been hailed by the Justicar during her absence and Commander Reyes has asked to speak with her Nikki@crystyl settles down in her office to take the call Sierra Reyes@anncaris appears on the console, "Empress. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me." Nikki@crystyl:"It is no problem at all. What can I do for you?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Well, we scanned the planet after the battle to determine the condition of the cities and whether there's been any serious damage. Fortunately everything's good there. But when we were doing that, - Sierra Reyes@anncaris:- we noticed there's a significant concentration of lifesigns that are neither Zauger nor Romulan." Nikki@crystyl:"Aah yes, that would be the indeginous people who have decided to throw a little uprising of their own now" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"They're throwing an uprising now? Well, I suppose now's the best time to strike, while the colony's still recovering from an occupation of its own." Nikki@crystyl:"That would seem to be their thinking. There was a foolhardy and ill-conceived assassination attempt on the new Governor at the reception we attended earlier, so now we are forced to interject and - Nikki@crystyl:- as such now have a meeting tomorrow with the rebel leaders to hear them out" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"You have a meeting with them? That's promising. After finding the indigenous lifesigns, we decided to look up the colony's history." Nikki@crystyl:"I would be interested to hear what you found, and how it compares to the history we were given. I'll be honest Commander, this has become very much more a Starfleet'y mission than I care for so I - Nikki@crystyl:- welcome any support you see fit to offer" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Well in short, the Star Empire conquered a pre-warp species, integrated them into their society as second-class citizens with only the lowliest work available to them and give them a fraction of - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - the rights of a Romulan citizen. Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident when it comes to Imperial worlds. This is more of a Starfleet crisis than the military matters you've been - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - handling so far, but you were an exchange officer with Starfleet for a while, weren't you?" Nikki@crystyl:"Supporting intelligence operations, not leading diplomatic negotiations. That was always starship CO's" she smiles Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"I was a cybersecurity expert myself. Had a bit of diplomatic experience during my time as XO, but trust me I wasn't ready for that part of Command when I took over either. Especially given the - Sierra Reyes@anncaris:- circumstances of how I took over. You must've picked up a thing or two, I imagine. Maybe not about diplomacy, but the morals of Starfleet and how we operate." Nikki@crystyl:"I'll admit to thinking more than once today 'what would Keelah do...'" she chuckles Sierra Reyes@anncaris smiles, "I think everyone in a command position thinks about what a previous commander they looked up to would do. It's a natural part of the process. I don't know what your former captain would - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - do, but the situation here is far beyond applying any Prime Directive. The indigenous civilization has been thoroughly influenced by Romulan culture and technology. Their own development is - Sierra Reyes@anncaris:- irrevocably affected. I think at this point, the best thing to do would be to fully integrate them as citizens, with the same rights and representation as Romulans." Nikki@crystyl:"Therein lies the problem. Because according to our Governor there, they already are fully integrated with local government representation, the works" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"As integrated as is usual for Star Empire worlds. Which means something like the Remans, and I imagine you're familiar with how they were treated. See what these rebels want during your meeting - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - with them. They're not going to be unbiased either, but I have a feeling you'll find many of their complaints will be valid. Then do what you can to let them live on their own homeworld as - Sierra Reyes@anncaris:- proper citizens, not labourers. Give them better training and work if that's what they want, or their own territory. There's plenty of room for everyone on the planet." Nikki@crystyl:"All sound advice. I guess we'll see in the morning what they actually want" Sierra Reyes@anncaris nods, "Remember that a civil war might be chaotic and difficult, but it's also a time of change. These people's recent experience with the Zauger could make them more sympathetic to those on the - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - other end of conquest and oppression. You have an opportunity to guide the Star Empire in a better direction." Nikki@crystyl:"That is certainly my intention to do so" Sierra Reyes@anncaris smiles, "I'm glad to hear that. Good luck with your meeting tomorrow, Empress." Nikki@crystyl:"Thank you Commander" --- NPC@annpc#557:| Nikki, Imaella and Serenity beams down to the proposed rendezvous point, where Jelor is waiting for them with a few guards NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor: "Empress, Admiral. Thank you for coming. We have transporter locks on all of you- if anything happens, we'll be able to evac you immediately." Nikki@crystyl:| Serenity eyes everything and everyone with suspicion, not leaving anything to chance Nikki@crystyl:"Thank you, though I'm sure it won't be necessary" NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor: "I assume you all have military transport inhibitor chips, just in case the rebels somehow got their hands on a transporter. We don't want them kidnapping you." NPC@annpc#557:| Imaella nods, "Of course. It's standard Navy procedure." NPC@annpc#557:| One of the guards steps up to Jelor, "We're picking up Cuuhaesu lifesigns approaching from the jungle." NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor: "Looks like they're on their way. Guards, take your positions." NPC@annpc#557:| The guard nods and turns to begin directing the other guards around the area, which looks like one big construction zone NPC@annpc#557:FX | http://www.ddmsrealm.com/wp-content/gallery/tor-dromund-kaas/ddmsrealm-tor-dromund-kaas-expansion-district.jpg NPC@annpc#557:| Several guards move into sniper positions near the edges of half-built platforms, while others stand with rifles ready, looking tough by the meeting point NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor looks to Empress Nikki, "I'll let you do most of the talking, and chime in as needed." Nikki@crystyl:"Fair enough" NPC@annpc#557:| Before long, a convoy of vehicles begins to roll in from the gate to the jungle. Several wheeled bikes lead the way, followed by lighter, four-wheeled buggies and then two larger jeep-like vehicles NPC@annpc#557:| The convoy comes to a stop and several of the rebels jump out of the buggies, taking up positions between their convoy and the Romulans NPC@annpc#557:| Finally, the doors of the jeeps open and four Retelon wearing armoured vests exit. The other rebels escort them as they make their way over NPC@annpc#557:| Most of the rebels are armed with projectile weaponry from archaic firearms to crossbows. Most of them also carry a machete on their belts or backs as well. However, two of the guards escorting - NPC@annpc#557:- the four armoured figures have disruptor rifles, and one of the armoured Retelon has a civilian model plasma pistol on her hip NPC@annpc#557:| The group stops in front of Nikki. The armoured Retelon with the plasma pistol takes a step in front of her peers, "So you want to talk, hm?" Nikki@crystyl:"More precisely, I want to give you the chance to talk before this foolhardy path continues to the point where neither party will benefit" NPC@annpc#557:| Rebel Leader: "And you are...?" Nikki@crystyl:"Empress Nikee ir-Fethraie t'Rllaillieu" NPC@annpc#557:| Rebel Leader: "Ah, so you're the Empress. We weren't expecting to get the attention of an Empress, but you've got more influence than the Governor I imagine." Nikki@crystyl:"We were here to remove the Zauger when your situation came to light. Since the Governor is newly in position, it seemed an opportune time to get all the cards on the table" NPC@annpc#557:| Rebel Leader: "I am Leticara, the closest thing to a leader this rebellion has. Let me just warn you outright- if this is some kind of trap, capturing or killing me will only make things - NPC@annpc#557:- considerably worse for you. As you probably expect, we've got various cells across the planet. I only have official command over my own. I don't know the ins and outs of the operations of the - NPC@annpc#557:- other cells, and killing me will only incite the more radical cells I've reigned in to go all out. And trust me, you do /not/ want that." Nikki@crystyl:"Well, now that I've been sufficiently warned not to make any aggressive moves by the one who turned up with a small army, we should be safe to say the pleasantries are out of the way, yes?" she - Nikki@crystyl:- smiles NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Unlike you, I need my 'small army' on hand and can't just transport them in when convenient. But yes, enough pleasantries." Nikki@crystyl:"Good. Well, this is your choice of location so we'll follow your lead" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "You're not from around here, I take it?" Nikki@crystyl:"If we lived on your world, I'm sure you would have known of our presence here by now and so targeted me properly with the assassination and not the Governor" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Maybe. You've studied up on the history though?" Nikki@crystyl:"What little I was able to learn from the Governor since everything happened yesterday. However I would be much more interested in hearing your perspective on that history" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "A Romulan, actually interested in hearing our perspective? Or are you just good at playing politics? We'll see. I'm guessing the Governor told you how they improved our lives by giving - NPC@annpc#557:- us your modern amenities, and that doing hard labour is a small price to pay for that?" Nikki@crystyl:"Something to that effect" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Thought as much. That's what all the Romulans here say." NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor: "It's true! Before we came here, you had regular droughts, famines and plagues. Do you even know how many of your children survived to adulthood in your primitive conditions? Far too few. - NPC@annpc#557:- Your average life expectancy was not even a quarter of our own. Now it's up to half, and you still complain that you live in 'poor conditions.'" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara laughs, "Yes, the classic Romulan perspective. To your people living long is impressive because you've naturally got quite a long lifespan, but you stab each other in the back all the - NPC@annpc#557:- time so it becomes a competition. A life just to stay alive as long as possible isn't worth living, not to us, anyways. Before you came along, we had great Empires. Sure, we weren't travelling - NPC@annpc#557:- the stars, but you took it all away from us before we had the chance to. We were proud of what we achieved. And now we're nothing but servants and farmhands." NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara turns her gaze fully to Nikki, "Tell me, would you want to live an extra few centuries if it meant slaving it all away for someone else as a lowly maid?" Nikki@crystyl:"A familiar picture to arise from circumstances such as those here. Regardless of past events or anyone's feelings on them, we are where we are now. So let us focus on how to move forwards. And to - Nikki@crystyl:- answer your question, no I would not. I have done my share of slaving away at tasks, but those which I chose to because I had reason" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Exactly. We don't have a choice. It's either labour for your people, or try to forge a living on our own out in the jungle. Sure, we're not technically slaves. We have the right to - NPC@annpc#557:- say no and just...walk out into the jungle. Good luck with that when we're used to modern luxuries. Most Retelon today won't last a week." Nikki@crystyl:"You'll have to forgive me, but saying 'we don't have a choice' and 'we can do this, this or this' in the same sentence do not make for a weighty argument. So what exactly is it you all hope to gain- Nikki@crystyl:- here?" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "The right to a future for my people." NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor: "What does that even mean?" Nikki@crystyl:"You just before that you had the right to do what you want. This is yet more self-contradiction" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "We have the right to do what we want /individually/. If some servant in the Governor's office wants to quit and go live in the jungle, she can. And some of us have. But that's not the - NPC@annpc#557:- point. We don't want to be hermits. Every time we try to start something big, a settlement of our own away from Romulan ones, something happens to it. An accident, a disaster, an epidemic, - NPC@annpc#557:- something that looks natural enough so it wouldn't incite all the Retelon still in the cities to arms, but it's obvious it's not natural. We've lived among you long enough to know how you - NPC@annpc#557:- operate, how good you are at deception." Nikki@crystyl:"Do you have any evidence to suggest what you are implying?" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "No, of course not. The Tal Shiar don't leave evidence. But just look at the Retelon settlement attempts in the past and what happened to them. You'll see, there's no way it's-" NPC@annpc#557:| Imaella: "Tal Shiar? Did you just say Tal Shiar?" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Like I said, I can't prove it's them, but who else would it be?" NPC@annpc#557:| Imaella: "There haven't been Tal Shiar on Malik V for over a decade." NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "And there haven't been any settlement attempts in the past decade. We gave up long before then after seeing what you people do to them." Nikki@crystyl:"Trust me, even when they numbered enough to pay interest to the local affairs of one colony, the Tal Shiar have typically got bigger fish to fry. I suspect these failings may well be the - Nikki@crystyl:- result of your people simply trying to overstretch themselves, then more comfortably finding blame in a conveniently invisible enemy than to acknowledge said shortcomings" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Even if we assume that's the case, these shortcomings are because of the roles you've forced us into. We know how to start a settlement," she gestures around the expansion district, - NPC@annpc#557:- "We've built more than enough for you. We can farm, make our own food, but when a crisis hits we don't have the skills to deal with it. We have few healers and the ancient ways of our ancestors - NPC@annpc#557:- have long been forgotten. Those of us who know a bit of healing know your medicine, and we don't have any access to your supplies once we strike our own in the jungle. No replicators, no - NPC@annpc#557:- tricorders, nothing. We have to stitch our wounds with vine threads and make slings out of large leaves." Nikki@crystyl:"Let me put it this way then; why is it so important to establish an independent settlement now?" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "So we can move away from relying on mundane work for you to survive, and build something of our own again." NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor: "But you just admitted you weren't capable of doing it on your own!" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "All thanks to your people's doing. We /were/ perfectly capable of it two centuries ago. And with effort, we can be again in the future." Nikki@crystyl:"And as you said, nobody is actually stopping you from that. Regardless of your feelings on the past - or anyone else's - would it be so terrible now to simply embrace life as it is?" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Not for some of us obviously, otherwise every single Retelon would be rising up with us. But it's safe to say most of us involved in this rebellion would rather die standing up to you - NPC@annpc#557:- than live just for the sake of living. But we're not Romulan-hating zealots intent on going down in a blaze of glory, either. Well...not all of us. And if we could get a settlement going, it - NPC@annpc#557:- wouldn't only mean we back down, but any future Retelon who don't want to live as your servants has an option other than turning to violence." Nikki@crystyl:"looks to the Governor, "Is there a place where such a settlement could be made, but still have access to healthcare and education for its residents?" NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor thinks for a moment, "I can think of several locations, but I believe they would prefer their cities to be /further/ from ours. But...we could make it work. Planetside distance doesn't mean - NPC@annpc#557:- much to us as we have transporters. We could provide their settlement with healthcare and education support, skilled Romulan specialists to help with their city, just like they provide us with - NPC@annpc#557:- labour, perhaps?" Nikki@crystyl:"It is also a matter of governance; they need to be able to maintain an equal voice alongside the other settlements. But I do like your thinking to encourage more of a skill trade setup" looks to - Nikki@crystyl:- the rebels, "And what say you? It won't be an overnight fix, but if even half of your contradictory thoughts are pure then it is the chance to start building up what you seem to want without - Nikki@crystyl:- isolating you from the support your people have grown to rely upon" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara nods, "If your people keep your word, then it sounds like it would be a good arrangement. We're not expecting an overnight fix, or anything easy. We know we're going to have to work for - NPC@annpc#557:- our future, and we're willing to." She gestures behind her. "All these people are willing to die for it. Hopefully it won't come to that, though. Some of the more radical cells will need a little - NPC@annpc#557:- convincing to accept your support, but I think at this stage, we need it in order to move forward. In a few generations, I'm sure we'll be more self-sufficient." Nikki@crystyl:"And for your part, I expect this to be a fair and moral settlement. If word should come back to me of xenophobia and racial uprisings to come from it then I would not be best pleased" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "You have my word. I'll let the other cells know what we're doing and convince them to lay down their arms." Nikki@crystyl:"Then it is settled" she smiles looking between the pair, "Honestly, that you couldn't just come to this arrangement by yourselves..." NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "I suppose generations of contentious history hasn't exactly made getting together and just negotiating easy. We're fortunately to have an outsider like you who's new but can still - NPC@annpc#557:- understand the situation." Nikki@crystyl:"I can' do anything to change the past here - and believe me when I say that the grass isn't always greener in that regard anyway - but you both now have an opportunity to strengthen your now shared- Nikki@crystyl:- home going forwards. Just remember that the benefits aren't all one way and to make this work you'll need to work together to find equal benefit to both parties" NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor nods, "We will be certain to keep that in mind. Thank you for what you've done here, Empress." Nikki@crystyl:"It would not make much of a welcome return to the Empire for you all were we to leave you with such woes now, would it" NPC@annpc#557:| Jelor: "No, it would not." NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "If your Empire keeps its word and shows that it cares for all its citizens, not just the Romulans, then we would be proud to remain a part of it, even once we build our own future and - NPC@annpc#557:- starships and interplanetary colonies." Nikki@crystyl:smiles, "I'm glad to hear it. We all know that the old Star Empire was flawed, which is why I have chosen to stand up and prevent Vitellius from restoring it. We have already started embrace new - Nikki@crystyl:- peoples as equals and allies, not just vassals. So I welcome the day when we see starships of your own design orbiting this world" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara smiles back, "I'm glad you feel this way as well. It's obvious to me that you're running a different kind of Star Empire, and by the looks of things, much better than what it was. Good - NPC@annpc#557:- luck with this civil war. I certainly hope I never have to see one of those Zauger creatures again." Nikki@crystyl:"And good luck to you both in building a stronger future for this colony. I look forward to seeing your progress" NPC@annpc#557:| Leticara: "Thank you, Empress." --- Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Upon returning to the Kaishaasi, Nikki is informed that Commander Reyes wishes to speak to her again Nikki@crystyl opens the comm from her desk as before, "Hello again Commanderâ€ Sierra Reyes@anncaris appears on the console, "Hello Empress. Just come back from that meeting with the rebels, right?" Nikki@crystyl:"That is correct" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"So, how did your first diplomatic negotiation go?" Nikki@crystyl:"It all seemed amicable enough. Honestly, they were like a pair of bratty siblings fighting for the sake of it more than anything" Sierra Reyes@anncaris laughs, "It's surprising how many diplomatic disagreements resemble these things when you get into the meat of it. Squabbling children, bickering old couples, they're really no different to - Sierra Reyes@anncaris:- presidents and praetors. In the end, they're all just people." Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Only thing is, these people in power generally have fleets and armies at their command." Nikki@crystyl nods, "Absolutely. Only time will tell how effective today was though" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"These things always take time. How do you feel about it, though? Did you walk away with a good feeling, or do you think there's more trouble to come?" Nikki@crystyl:"I think there will be many more arguments and disagreements there. But... I do believe they will progress through it" Sierra Reyes@anncaris smiles, "Sounds like you've laid a good foundation for them, then. It's rare for things to proceed smoothly right after the first negotiation, but if you can see light at the end of the tunnel, - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - that's always a good sign." Nikki@crystyl:"At least with this settled we can move on from this world now" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"And hopefully you've set this planet on a better path as well. It wasn't too much of a challenge, was it?" Nikki@crystyl:"Thankfully not" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Good. You'll probably have to deal with plenty more disagreements like that as Empress. But I'm sure you'll be able to keep up the good work." Nikki@crystyl:"Something to look forward to..." Sierra Reyes@anncaris smiles, "Don't worry. You've proven yourself a capable diplomat today. You'll manage going forward." Nikki@crystyl:"I appreciate the vote of confidence. But now is time to focus on our next move" Sierra Reyes@anncaris nods, "We've got a civil war to win." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Nikki's comm chimes again Nikki@crystyl:"One moment Commander, apologies" she switches channel Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Faedani's voice comes through the comm, "Empress, I have an intelligence update." Nikki@crystyl:"Alright thank you. I'm just coordinating with the Starfleet Commander then I'll be down" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Faedani: "I'll see you there." Nikki@crystyl switches back to Sierra, "Apologies for that Commander" Sierra Reyes@anncaris smiles, "No worries. Empress is a busy job, after all. I'll let you get back to it." Nikki@crystyl:"Thank you, until next time" Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Until then." Nikki@crystyl ends the comm and stands, making her way down to the intel dungeon --- Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Nikki steps into the intel dungeon to find Imaella already there with Faedani Nikki@crystyl:"Sorry to keep you ladies. So what's new?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Faedani's hoverchair turns to face Nikki, "Another Zauger fleet has just left the Rator system. We believe it to be the main fleet that cut the path to Rator to begin with. And all signs - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - indicate that Vitellius is leading this one personally." Nikki@crystyl:"Is that so? And where is this fleet heading?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Faedani: "Same vector as the last one. Possibly the vault again, but more likely, Agrama. I doubt Vitellius will make the same mistake of ignoring us a second time." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella: "Even with the ships we captured from the last confrontation...facing his main battle fleet is going to be a challenge." Nikki@crystyl:"What about reinforcements from the Shadow Guard and their allies?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella: "They're primarily being employed for recon and intelligence gathering purposes. The Justicar is currently the only ship actively supporting military operations. If needed, their - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - warbirds will join our formations, but you've seen them- they're primarily light scout warbirds and most of their larger vessels were lost against the temporal infiltrators. I'll try to - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - convince them to lend additional support, perhaps their flagship with a few light warbird escorts." Nikki@crystyl:"I was hoping for less light warbirds and more Undine..." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella: "I've tried asking them for that, but the Undine are apparently only here for the temporal infiltrators. They have no interest in getting involved against Vitellius." Nikki@crystyl:"Unfortunate but not unexpected. Still, with the vault as a potential threat in this I would still expect to see more support from them" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella: "I imagine they would protect the vault from all attackers, Vitellius included. But they're not going to send forces against Vitellius it seems." Nikki@crystyl:"That almost makes an argument to hold up there with them and let him come to us" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Faedani: "It would be an option if getting rid of Vitellius was our sole concern. We still have his son Averius in our brig. Bring him to the vault. lure Vitellius to us, and between the - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - Undine and the vault defenses, no Zauger fleet would stand a chance. But that would mean abandoning all the worlds we've liberated to him. Even if we can take them back again after he's dead, - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - you'll lose their faith in you." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella nods in agreement, "It'll make ruling the Empire after the war much more difficult." Nikki@crystyl:"Which is not an option. So, what /are/ our options?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella: "Gather all our ships and what additional support we can and defend our position at Agrama. It has the heaviest planetary defense systems of all the worlds we hold and has somewhat - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - become a de-facto capital for the time, so Vitellius is headed for it anyways. He has us outnumbered still, but not enough to crush our defenses utterly. It'll be a drawn out siege on the - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - system if he attacks, but running defense is our best chance of defeating him." Nikki@crystyl:"What about more subversive tactics like we used against his last fleet?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Faedani: "That'll be more difficult since he's actually cloaked this fleet. Another reason to believe he's actually coming for Agrama this time." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella: "I'll send out recon teams to confirm their location, but I suspect they'll be ready for any ambushes after what happened to their last fleet. Vitellius isn't the kind of person to - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - make the same mistake twice. I suggest just keeping an eye on their location and confirming their target, but not engaging them in deep space." Nikki@crystyl:"I don't like the idea of simply battening down the hatches and waiting for his fleet to decloak and launch their attack. It leaves far too much vulnerable to that opening gambit" Nikki@crystyl:"So let's find some better options" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella nods, "Our light warbirds will constantly patrol around the system and sweep for cloaked ships. It's still not ideal, but Zauger cloaks aren't as advanced as ours, and we should be - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - able to spot them and prevent them from sneaking right up to the defense grid. But Vitellius will be the one on the offensive and dictating the first move, so I'll look into other available - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - options." Nikki@crystyl:"I'm sure if we put our minds to it we can at least form a tangible defense strategy" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella: "That we shall do, at the very least. I believe with the assets we have right now, we have a chance at defeating Vitellius' fleet by playing defensively." Nikki@crystyl:"We just have to make sure we do so intelligently" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Imaella nods, "In the meantime, let us head back towards Agrama as we plan for its defense. I'll rally the rest of the fleet there as well." Nikki@crystyl:"Alright, let's do this then"