The Valley Forge proceeds to the Rogue's Den, headquarters of the various Zarrakin crime syndicates, in hopes of persuading them to seek a better future for their people. But when the plan goes awry, unexpected revelations begin to surface...
Alien NPC@annpc#557 | After many days of slowly cruising through space to match the speed of Mel's much lower tech Zarrakin pirate ship, the Valley Forge finally begins to approach the Rogue's Den... Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Guess this's it. Got a rogue dwarf poppin' into range" Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, let's continue following the pirates' lead for the moment, but stay sharp" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ann nods, "Aye Cap'n. I'm seein' more o' these Zarrakin ships, a few of 'em inbound." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Mel's ship is opening communications with them now." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "More of these ships are appearing on sensors now. Mostly in orbit of the planetoid itself. There's numerous classes, but most of them share design similarities and have identical - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - hull composition to Mel's. I believe those are other Zarrakin vessels. But I'm also picking up a handful that are distinctly Hyrdeum." Keelah@crystyl:"Not taking any chances as they get a look at us for themselves, no doubt" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "The Loki's tapped into their comms, unsurprisingly. Mel's just explanation the situation, these ships are a patrol from one of the local crime syndicates, the Free Kin." Keelah@crystyl:"I'm sure our presence has all of the syndicates on edge" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ann nods, "The patrol's formed up with Mel an' headin' back to the rogue planet with us. Must be keepin' an eye on us." Keelah@crystyl:"Can't say I blame them" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Mel's ship is hailing us now, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's have it" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel appears on the viewscreen, "So here we are. The Rogue's Den." Keelah@crystyl:"I trust our arrival didn't present anything too troublesome to deal with" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "The Free Kin are both curious and cautious why you're here. I explained things to them, they're not too happy that I led you here but since you haven't opened fire and obliterated them - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - yet, they're willing to give you a chance. They're reporting back to their Admiral now. You wanted to talk to the bosses, right?" Keelah@crystyl:"That's right" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "I have a feeling they'll probably want to talk to you too. But I can only talk to the Spacer's Union reps about it, I've got minimal connection with the other syndicates. You want to - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - talk to the others, I have a feeling the Free Kin and Tea Road are going to contact you soon enough. The Marauders...I'm not sure what they'll do, to be honest. If you want to talk to them all - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - at once though, I might have an idea on that." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "I thought you might" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "I might not have any influence in the other Syndicates on my own, but the whole Spacer's Union certainly does. And we're also made up mostly of just people trying to make a living and - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - feed ourselves and our families. If you want to negotiate a stop to the piracy activities, the Union'll be the easiest to convince. Plenty of us want to get back to life before the plague." Keelah@crystyl:"Well I do believe we had a deal for you to serve as our guide here. So what better place to start" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "I'll set up a meeting with the Union reps first. You go talk with them, and once you have them on board, they can arrange a meeting of all the leaders on the Rogue's Den. Even the Red - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - Reaver'll turn up to a gathering like that." Keelah@crystyl:"Sounds like a plan" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel nods, "I'll get back to you soon, then. Oh, and I assume you'll be using that teleporting tech to travel around, right?" Keelah@crystyl:"That would be standard procedure, yes" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "I better let them know about that too. Don't want people getting spooked by you suddenly appearing," he chuckles Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Spooking people would generally not be conducive with our plans" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "I'll get back to you when the meeting's set up, then. If you have any experts or negotiators to get together, now's the time." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course" Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | The comm ends Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Anyone I should call to accompany you to the surface?" Keelah@crystyl:"Extend an invitation to T'Lana. She may want to send a delegate to gather information even if not attend herself" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, tapping her console. After a moment, she replies, "It seems the Loki's best pirate expert was loaned to the Latenter when they departed on their mission, but T'Lana does want to come - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - along." Keelah@crystyl:"Good, then she can join Lennie and I on the surface" --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah and Lennie beam down into a large, industrial-looking shuttlebay and are joined by T'Lana a second later. Mel steps out from behind a shuttle to greet them Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Captain! Welcome to the Rogue's Den. We don't have any of your transportation pads, so I just gave you the coordinates to the shuttlebay I landed my shuttle in," he thumbs back towards - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - the shuttle. "Figured it's a big open space, less chance of teleporting yourself into a wall or something. I imagine you've probably got the tech fine-tuned enough not to do that if you use it - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - on a regular basis, but you wanted me to show you around anyways, so might as well meet up at the entrance, right?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Very considerate of you. This is Commander T'Lana, and my science officer Lendaria" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel gives them both a nod of greetings, "Good to meet you both." He looks Lennie over more closely, "You're the same species as Emma, aren't you? Orion?" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie nods, "Aye. Tha's why she dragged me out 'ere too. Even if she won't admit it..." Keelah@crystyl smiles innocently, "You are acting XO right now. Consider it field training" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel glances to T'Lana as well, "And you're the same species as the Captain, by the looks of it." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "That is correct." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Your species must be major players in your Starfleet, then?" Keelah@crystyl:"They were among the founding members, but that does not necessarily reflect in a racial dominance aboard our ships. In fact your average ship is predominantly Humans. And the Valley Forge's - Keelah@crystyl:- largest racial population after them are actually Orions now" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "I'm guessing that's not just coincidence?" Keelah@crystyl:"During our rimward travels we happened across one of their resettled colonies. I assume since you are familiar with Emma that you are somewhat familiar with the standing of the Orion people. Well, - Keelah@crystyl:- a lot of new conscripts signed on with us there for... varying reasons. But that is the primary source of the unusual balance" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel nods, "That explains it. Well, come with me and I'll show you to the meeting room." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel begins to lead the way out of the shuttlebay Keelah@crystyl & Co. follow Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Since the rogue planet's got no atmosphere of its own, everything here is in totally sealed compounds. This one belongs to the Spacer's Union, as you can guess. Usually compounds - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - of the same faction tend to be near each other, but many of us here are businessmen so it's not uncommon for compounds to switch hands from time to time." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Of course, all the important ones like this one is always surrounded by friendly compounds. No one's going to hold a leadership meeting right next to another syndicate's compound." Keelah@crystyl:"Seems a sensible setup" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | As they exit the shuttlebay, Mel passes through a scanner archway built into the entrance, which gives a low beep and glows green as he passes Keelah@crystyl observes curiously, then follows next Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The scanner also beeps and glows green for Keelah Keelah@crystyl | Lennie gestures, "After you Commander" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods and steps through, and it does the same with her Keelah@crystyl | Lennie confidently follows Alien NPC@annpc#557 | It does the same once again and Lennie passes without incident! Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Plague detectors. Contrary to what the Hyrdeum might say, we're not uncouth barbarians. We might be able to withstand getting infected by the plague multiple times, but we still /try/ not - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - to get infected if we can avoid it. After all, with each infection our chances of dying goes up. And there's still a /chance/ to die with one infection, even if it's not too common for us." Keelah@crystyl:"A wise precaution. I take it there is no issue here with the plague then?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Oh there has been. Easy to get infected, especially when you're raiding. We just quarantine the infected until the plague runs its course and it's not contagious. The plague's less of a - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - problem on a planet where there's no natural wildlife. No ecosystem to destroy and all." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Our resilience to the plague is helpful too. I've caught the plague once myself and just came down with a headache for a few days." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel leads Keelah and co. further through the compound. They soon enter a slightly less industrial area, where some effort has clearly been put in to make the architecture more comfortable and - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - appealing. It's still far from as homely as a Starfleet ship or station, though Alien NPC@annpc#557 | It begins to resemble more of a starbase than a civilian compound, as they pass by several rooms lined with consoles Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "This compound is the Spacer's Union HQ. The HQs are the biggest compounds- practically small towns. You might've noticed we came from an area that might've been the port of a city, and - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - this is basically the city centre." Keelah@crystyl:"Certainly far more developed than the name implies" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "The Rogue's Den has got more of a history than just being the HQs for the Syndicates. Most of these compounds were built looong before any of us came along. We couldn't have constructed - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - all this in a few years, but we did expand some of the compounds by a bit. Including this one. This is one of the new parts." Keelah@crystyl:"Definitely impressive" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "What precisely is the history of this place before your syndicates came along?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "I don't even know the full story. What I do know is that in our earliest days of space travel, the first compound was built as a scientific outpost. To study a rogue planet, since this - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - was the first one my people encountered. The scientists discovered the planet was rather mineral rich and it became a mine for many years. Until the miners discovered something deep under the - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - surface, some ancient alien artifacts. Then the military moved in and the planet was a military base. Eventually, our military was defeated by the Hyrdeum's, they disbanded and abandoned this - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - place. After that was when the Tea Road moved in and first set up shop. All the infrastructure was already here and the old military never informed the Hyrdeum of the planet's location, so it - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - was the perfect base for a smuggling operation." Keelah@crystyl:"Ancient alien artifacts you say?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel nods, "That's the part of the story I don't know anything about. The military wiped the databanks before they left and many of the old mining tunnels have collapsed by now. The rumour is - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - that miners found alien tech here, predating anything we've encountered before. All we know is that whatever it was, it got our military interested enough to take over." Keelah@crystyl:"It would be interesting to learn about. Many ancient civilizations have shaped our galaxy, and knowing that distant past could be key in helping us to understand the region as it is now" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "Maybe if we can get back to legitimate business, we'll be able to resume research here and learn more about the species that were in this region before us." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "A worthy goal if ever there was one" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel: "But first, you've got to talk to all the syndicate bosses. Starting with mine. Here we are..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mel leads Keelah and co. into a meeting room where a number of other Zarrakin are gathered, "Kase, these are the aliens who asked me to bring them here," he looks to Keelah. "Captain, meet - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - Kase Sil Naxiu, Chair of the Spacer's Union." Keelah@crystyl bows her head politely, "A pleasure" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The female Zarrakin at the head of the table inclines her head towards Keelah before gesturing to some empty chairs, "Come, join us." Keelah@crystyl sits, "Thank you" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "Unlike the other syndicates, we don't have a single leader. As Chair of the Union Committee, I'm the official spokesperson, but more of a mediator in these meetings than a leader. The - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- representatives oversee their particular areas. Representative Ixia is the representative for smuggling activities, Representative Beel for illegal weapons, Representative Jesa for illegal chems, - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Representative Fen for counterfeiting and Representative Dasi for raiding. We also have Alaxo, our top financial expert and Vra, who keeps an eye on the activities of the other syndicates for us." Keelah@crystyl:"Quite the organizational structure" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase smiles, "Many of us come from a background of legitimate business, so we pride ourselves in being more organized than some of the thugs around here. Captain Mel told me you've come to put - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - a stop to our activities, but you're not working for the Thousand Clans Empire?" Keelah@crystyl:"I'm not sure I'd be quite so blunt with it. Rather, I'd say that I want to find a way for you to return to those legitimate business days" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "I may not speak for every single one of us, but I think it is safe to say that most of the Spacer's Union would not be adverse to that idea. But we need a way for legitimate business to - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - be viable again. We turned to this life because we had few other options." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course, and I suspect the other syndicates will be less amenable to the idea" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Vra: "Probably. Some of the Free Kin might be amenable to legal mercenary work, they do some of that now anyways. And if our people ever form a proper military again, some of them might even - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - join back up with that. The Tea Road have been in crime business for a long time, but many of their members since the plague are just people looking to make a living like us, and they could - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - make the transition to legitimate business. The Marauders, I don't see any of them agreeing though." Keelah@crystyl:"Naturally. I don't have any unrealistic expectations here, but since we're going to be passing through the region I'd like to try and make it a safer place for everyone while we're here" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "Do you have any proposals for how we may return to legitimate business now, having lost trade with the Hyrdeum who have been our primary source of trade for some time now." Keelah@crystyl:"Well our journey here started with learning about the plague and we have set out to investigate possible solutions. Regarding the situation for your people, I would provisionally think to aim for - Keelah@crystyl:- restoring some legitimate trade with the Hyrdeum in a post-plague environment" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "You are trying to find a solution to the plague, then? And here I thought trying to get us legitimate work again was an ambitious goal..." she chuckles Keelah@crystyl:"It has been my experience that stabilizing a region tends to make everything fall into line. We just have to find that first catalyst, which I believe to be a solution to the plague" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "I agree. I won't pretend that our lives were perfect before the plague; being a part of the Thousand Clans Empire had its own issues. But all the business problems we're having now were - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - caused by the plague, and the Empire's withdrawal following its outbreak." Keelah@crystyl:"I'm not going to pretend I support the Clans' methods for a moment. But as fragile as such Empires are, they typically do better than rogue organizations in the long run" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Alaxo nods, "Yes, they did have the most powerful economy in this region, before the plague hit." Keelah@crystyl:"From what little I've seen so far, I would have to say that there are those in their society who do not care for their old ways, just as there are a portion of you who do not truly care for your - Keelah@crystyl:- pirating ways. This leads me to hope for the potential for compromise and growth" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "You really think so? Perhaps the plague will have humbled them somewhat as well." Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps. We have already successfully worked with representatives of their current military - though granted, not the leadership. Also scientists of theirs have aided our research into the plague. - Keelah@crystyl:- Then there are the independent freight runners" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "And they all show a desire to move away from their ways before the plague?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Or at least, some underlying traits that inspire hope in me. Just as I see here in all of you" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "So your plan is to convince us to attempt rebuilding legitimate business relations, once you have put an end to the plague?" Keelah@crystyl:"It hardly seems fair to call it a plan, but yes" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "It may be difficult to sell to the other syndicates as you do not have a solution to the plague just yet. But if you are able to deal with it, it would be beneficial to have plans - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - already in place to restore our trade relations." Keelah@crystyl:"To get such contingencies in place now is a reasonable goal for my visit here I think" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "We will call for a meeting with the other syndicates to discuss setting these plans. Not everyone may be willing to transition to legitimate business, but we should at least be able to - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - ensure that those who wish it will be able to move away from a life of crime." Keelah@crystyl:"I am glad you agree" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "I suspect the other syndicates will want you to attend as well. Besides, the presence of an outside could help settle any internal disputes. After all, there is no mediator position - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - such as mine for discussions between the syndicate leaders." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "It would be the least I can do" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "Thank you. As for curing the plague, have you made any progress so far?" Keelah@crystyl:"Not with a cure exactly, but we do have a means of treating individuals. I was quite curious about your peoples unique reaction to it" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "My company works in legitimate pharmaceuticals as well as illegal chems; we began producing medicine but it was unsustainable once the Hyrdeum cut off trade with us. But we've done - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - extensive research on the plague, including its effects on Hyrdeum, Zarrakin and several other species. We weren't able to produce any effective treatment unfortunately, otherwise we wouldn't - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - be here now, but we might have information that could help you." Keelah@crystyl:"That is very good of you to offer. Lendaria here is best suited to learn from you" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa nods, "We will share our findings with Lendaria while the meeting is being set up, then." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "If there is nothing else, I will contact the other syndicates." Keelah@crystyl:"I have nothing more, thank you for your time" --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 | After the meeting, Jesa leads Lennie into one of the areas with the consoles, "So you are a doctor among your people?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Not exactly. But I am a biologist among other things, so a lil' closer than the Cap'n!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "Indeed, I can see why she asked me to share our data with you. I am not a doctor myself either, though I did study pharmacy. I didn't work much with medicine personally before I went - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - into business, but my studies have given me some useful knowledge into what the researchers of my company are doing." Lendaria@crystyl:"I appreciate ya insights. Sometimes first hand experience's worth more than th'school o'trainin'" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "Yes, I've learned quite a lot while starting and managing the company. Anyways, we're here to talk about the plague, not business." She steps over to a console and begins to type Lendaria@crystyl follows and observes Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "My company was primarily researching the potential for a pharmaceutical treatment or vaccine, but we learned quite a bit about the plague through our research." As she types in what - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - appears to be a username and password, data begins to stream down the console. "You were curious about the results of the plague on our people?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Yes, to our knowledge your peoples reaction is quite unique" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "Quite likely because you've only studied the effects of the plague in a few species. With enough samples, you may be able to find one where the plague has a very similar effect. From - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - what we learned, the virus mutates itself to be able to infect any species it encounters. It always mutates in a way to infect the species through the easiest way possible; as with many things - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - in the universe, the virus prefers the path of least resistance." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yes, that's right. And that's why your pharmaceutical efforts were in vain. We'se searchin' for th'origin in order t'better understand it. If we can get hold o'th'data from those who created it, we- Lendaria@crystyl:- stand a much better chance o'neutralizin' it" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa nods, "I agree. We've hit a dead end in our efforts here. As for our reaction to the plague, it is because we are fortunate that the path of least resistance for infecting us is one that - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - has a minimal chance of being fatal. The only way this resistance could be applied to any non-Zarrakin would be to use a different mutagenic virus to forcibly mutate that species into - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - something resembling our own. And even then, it is not a cure. The virus can still infect us and spread through us, as you are well aware. With every infection there is a chance of death, and - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - a slightly higher chance of mutation into one of the berserkers." Lendaria@crystyl nods and listens Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "Once someone becomes a berserker, their genetics are different and they become another species. As a result, the path of least resistance for the virus infecting a berserker is no - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - longer as tame. That's why many berserkers tend to die upon contracting the plague again." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "In short, the plague gets everyone eventually. We're more resistent because we got lucky with our genetic makeup, but we're certainly not immune." Lendaria@crystyl:"Sure. But ya genetics could be a good startin' point for us still" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa nods, "Perhaps, if your genetic technology is more advanced than our own, you may be able to use a more limited level of genetic therapy to make the virus have a less fatal path of least - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - resistance on other species without mutating them into a completely different species." She taps on the console again to bring up their genetic studies. "We've already identified what makes - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - the virus take this particular path of least resistance. But we don't have the knowledge to genetically augment it in another species without introducing other Zarrakin traits to them." Lendaria@crystyl:"Well there's no guarantee, but it's certainly an avenue we can investigate!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa takes out a chip from the console, handing it over to Lennie, "I hope it helps your research into a cure. You mentioned you have a treatment already- what might that be?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Our transporter technology" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "The one Mel informed us you were travelling here with?" Lendaria@crystyl nods, "It has evolved over the centuries and now includes a highly refined bio-filtration system. Among other things, it is able to detect viral elements and th'like, then filter 'em out" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "So that's how it can get rid of the virus. I see. And I assume it's not much use for those of us who don't have the base transporter technology?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Don't get me wrong, if it were th'case that ya had a number o'folks here who were infected an' needed help, we could send 'em through it an' they'd be clear. But they still ain't immune, an' ya - Lendaria@crystyl:- can't exactly send a whole planet through this thing" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa nods, "Yes, it's not exactly a permanent cure, just an effective treatment for those who have contracted the virus. It's not even the effect on sentient beings that's the most dangerous - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - thing about this plague. Don't get me wrong, some of the mutations it can do especially to the Hyrdeum are quite horrific, but people, especially spacefaring people can be smart enough to - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - quarantine infected and take preventative measures. The virus' effect on natural environments is the worst thing, since it can affect non-sentient animals and plants." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa sighs, "It's another reason our trade and economy has taken such major hits. We might be able to weather multiple infections before it becomes fatal, but we still lost colonies to it, - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - including Qotrod, our largest agricultural world." Lendaria@crystyl:"It'll take time. But trust me, y'all can weather this storm an' come out on top still" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa: "We'll certainly give it everything we've got. I hope you can find a way to put an end to this plague sooner rather than later, though." Lendaria@crystyl:"An' we'll give it everythin' we got for ya too!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Jesa smiles, "Thank you. We appreciate your people's efforts to aid us." --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 | A few hours after the meeting with the Spacer's Union Committee, Keelah and Lennie are back on the Valley Forge when they receive an update from the Rogue's Den Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Captain, the Spacer's Union compound is hailing us." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's have it" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase appears on the viewscreen, "Hello again. I've managed to arrange a meeting between the syndicates, and your presence has been requested as well." Keelah@crystyl:"As expected. I suppose most are - if nothing else - eager to see just where we stand on things, since I'm sure they've all collected scans of us by now" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "Indeed. The meeting will be hosted in the neutral compound. We will proceed there by shuttle, and the Tea Road should be giving you coordinates for your transportation devices anytime now.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I appreciate the update" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "I'll see you at the meeting, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"See you there" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The comm ends. A moment later, Eva announces, "I've just received the invitation to the meeting with the transport coordinates attached. Same team as before. Captain?" Keelah@crystyl:"I'd like you and Rianni to join us this time. Lennie will stay back and work on the new data collected, but Emma will come in her stead. I will leave the rest of the delegation to T'Lana" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "Understood, Captain." She types a quick message to the Loki before turning for the turbolift --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | Keelah and co. beams down to a room with a meeting table, as well as a large lounge area with sofas to one side. They are the only ones present within. A few seconds later, T'Lana - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - materializes nearby as well Alien NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana raises a brow, "Did they present us with the right coordinates, or are we simply ahead of schedule?" Keelah@crystyl:"These are the coordinates they provided" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva narrows her eyes, glancing slowly to the door before frowning, "We are neither in the wrong place, nor are we early." Keelah@crystyl:"So, trap?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "Yes, it was a trap. There are guards outside the door now should we break out of the room somehow, but they have set a force field on the other side of the door to ensure we cannot. - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - I don't suppose..." she taps her combadge, and there is no response. "Comms are jammed too." Keelah@crystyl:"Well this is... predictable" Keelah@crystyl promptly makes herself comfortable following that revelation Alien NPC@annpc#557 | A few moments later, a console on the far wall activates and the face of a Zarrakin female appears. She is not Kase, nor any of the others who were present at the Committee meeting earlier Keelah@crystyl looks over, moving to see better Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "Welcome to the Rogue's Den. You won't be harmed, as long as you cooperate." Keelah@crystyl:"I will take this one opportunity to say the same to you" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "Your crew will not risk the loss of their captain and multiple important crew. Our demands are simple and reasonable. We won't ask you to hand over your ship and deprive yourselves - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - of a way home. All we want is the information to build and operate your transportation technology. Give us that, and you will be free to go on your way." Keelah@crystyl:"Your negotiation skills leave a lot to be desired" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "This is not a negotiation. If you will not comply, then perhaps your crew will be more amenable..." --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Back on the VF, Lennie is called to the bridge... Keelah@crystyl | Lennie exits the turbolift, "There can't be an update from 'em already" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Not quite...look." Keelah and co. can be seen in a room on one half of the screen, while the Zarrakin speaking to them is on the other half Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "So who's in charge here now that your captain's off the ship?" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie looks to the screen, "Tha's me. Wha's this about?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "As you can see, we have your captain and her team. They are currently locked in a room where we may administer anything we desire through the ventilation systems. Or nothing at all. - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - We demand only one thing for their lives- data on your transportation devices and how to construct our own." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Lemme guess. You'se tryin' ya luck wit' us because she told ya t'go whistle for it, right?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "Your Captain is not the most cooperative. But I thought this might be a little more persuasive. We are slowly beginning to siphon the oxygen out of the room now. They will begin to - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - asphyxiate shortly. Agree to hand over the information, and we will restore their oxygen levels. Once you have actually handed over the information, we will allow you to-" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | She stops abruptly as Keelah and co. begin transporting away on the other screen... Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "What? Impossible! The sensor jammers are active, aren't they? How are they doing- cut the feed, cut the feed!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | The comm ends Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "I don't suppose we can also get a trace on the source of the comm and grab the one makin' them demands?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "I can trace the comm, but it looks like they have sensor jamming active in the area." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen nods, "We can't see any lifeforms and get a lock on the one making demands. We'll have to beam up the whole area around her or something." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Could be an option, maybe?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "I think that must've been what Kelly just did with the Captain's group over on the Loki. But from the viewscreen image, the Zarrakin making the demands is in a small room rather - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - than a large empty one. We'll end up grabbing walls and everything- it'll get /very/ messy." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie hrms, "Aight, maybe not jus' yet then... But we can still target th'area yeah?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen nods, "That's right, Commander." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "An' tha' first weapon upgrades done, th'one t'hit low yield drainin' blasts right? So we could give 'em a fair warnin' in response by shuttin' 'em down?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Watson nods over from the tactical console now that Rianni is gone, "Can do, Commander. Weapon is ready on your mark." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Then take us t'red alert. Raise shields an' shut 'em down. Focus on where tha' abductor is an' prepare t'defend th'ship if they don't get th'hint" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The bridge lighting switches to red alert and Watson announces, "Draining now." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Two pale blue beams emit from the VF's forward banks, impacting the compound on the surface Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Watson: "We've shut down their power. Two ships are moving in to intercept us. Shall I disable them too?" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie nods, "Just disable 'em f'now. Wit' their power out, can we get a transporter lock on th'abductor?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen smiles and nods, "Transporter room has a lock. We can beam her right into the brig." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile on the viewscreen, two Zarrakin ships move in. Watson taps her console and the pale blue beams activate again, draining the power of one ship first, then the second, until both are - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - adrift Keelah@crystyl | Lenni grins, "Please do. Then broadcast a feed from tha' brig to 'em. See how keen they are t'attack then" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "On it, Commander." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Watson: "Two more ships are moving...no, wait, they've just been intercepted by other Zarrakin ships. They're fighting each other." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen, flashes of disruptor fire can be seen in the distance as Zarrakin vessels begin to trade shots Keelah@crystyl | Lennie sighs, "Well tha' spiralled fast..." --- Keliaya@anncaris | Meanwhile on the Loki, Keelah and co. materialize in the shuttlebay, with the meeting room table and a number of chairs brought along behind them Keliaya@anncaris | T'Lana: "It would seem that they blocked our sensors, but did not actually block the ability to use transporters, no doubt from a lack of knowledge on how to do so." Keelah@crystyl looks around, "So it would seem. Nice bit of work scooping everything up though" Keliaya@anncaris | T'Lana glances around, "And placing us in the shuttlebay. A logical place to transport us after such a maneuver as to not damage the rest of the ship." Keliaya@anncaris | The shuttlebay door opens and Kelly steps in Keelah@crystyl smiles and turns, "I thought I saw your handiwork in this" Keliaya@anncaris:"I still can't believe that actually worked," she laughs slightly. "These people were in far over their heads." Keliaya@anncaris | Eva chuckles and nods, "That has to be the worst trap we've been caught in yet." Keelah@crystyl:"They can't be happy about us leaving so soon. I anticipate rash and hasty response" Keliaya@anncaris nods, checking her PADD, "Two of their ships are trying to engage the Valley Forge now. I was going to ask if you wanted us to transport you back, but looks like the Valley Forge's raised - Keliaya@anncaris - shields so that won't be an option right now." Keliaya@anncaris | T'Lana: "You may come to our bridge for the time being to monitor the situation, if you wish." Keelah@crystyl sighs, "Lennie is being prudent, of course. Thank you Commander, we can at least communicate with them" Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "This way, Captain." Keliaya@anncaris begins to lead the way to the bridge Keliaya@anncaris | The interior of the Loki is essentially identical to the Latenter's- with a different layout, of course, but the same style of halls, down to the same SFI uniform among the crew which Kelly is - Keliaya@anncaris - now wearing as well Keliaya@anncaris | The group steps into a turbolift, which quickly proceeds up to the bridge... Keliaya@anncaris | As the door opens to the bridge, the differences between the Loki and Latenter are much more visible. Though Keelah has seen the central area of the Loki's bridge many times now through the - Keliaya@anncaris - viewscreen, it looks much closer to the Latenter's with the three arrayed chairs in the centre. As she actually steps onto the bridge, she realizes that the rest of its layout is closer to the - Keliaya@anncaris - bridge of Starfleet flagships such as the Odyssey-classes than the Latenter's intel room layout. Unlike the Odyssey's bridges however, the windows are missing and in its place are lined - Keliaya@anncaris - additional consoles and smaller viewscreens. There is also no transporter in the back of the bridge, but instead several tall consoles like the ones found on the Latenter Keliaya@anncaris | As they make their way to the centre of the bridge, Keelah notices that in the place of the Federation icon in the centre of the bridge as seen on Starfleet flagships, there is instead the SFI - Keliaya@anncaris - emblem. T'Lana moves over and takes the central seat, while Kelly sits at one of the consoles Keelah@crystyl takes an empty seat besides TL Keliaya@anncaris | On the main viewscreen, disruptor shots can be seen above the Rogue's Den, though the VF...doesn't seem to be engaged in fighting at the moment Keliaya@anncaris | T'Lana raises a brow at the sight, "Were they not moving to engage the Valley Forge?" Keliaya@anncaris | An officer on tactical responds, "Two of them did, and the Valley Forge disabled them with draining beams from the newly modified forward banks. And then they started to fight with one - Keliaya@anncaris - another, Commander." Keliaya@anncaris | Lieutenant Tyali speaks up from the ops console, "There's a lot of comm traffic. I'm trying to piece together what's going on." Keelah@crystyl:"Apparently, not all of them thought trying to take us was such a good idea" Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "I could lend a hand, if you need." Keliaya@anncaris | T'Lana gives her a nod and Eva moves over to assist Tyali Keliaya@anncaris | After a moment, Eva announces, "Kase's hailing the Valley Forge again. I could patch us in, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"By all means" Keliaya@anncaris | Eva taps her console and Kase appears on the viewscreen, with Lennie on the other half of the screen with the VF bridge backdrop Keliaya@anncaris | Kase: "Captain...are you on a different bridge?" Keelah@crystyl:"I am. More pertinently, I am not in the ill conceived trap" Keliaya@anncaris | Kase nods, "You're unharmed, I hope?" Behind Kase, Keelah can see several armed Zarrakin moving about, appearing to patrol through the area while a different pair takes cover behind a door Keelah@crystyl:"We are all quite well, in spite of this attempt. However, Rogue's Den appears to be in quite the state of disarray presently" Keliaya@anncaris | Kase nods, "Yes, we're in deep Kraysh dung here- you understand we're not the ones responsible for trying to kidnap and extort you, right?" Keelah@crystyl:"I had a feeling" she smiles Keliaya@anncaris | Kase: "The neutral compound's supposed to be neutral, for meetings between the Syndicates, but the Tea Road established Rogue's Den first and they probably added some backdoors. They're the - Keliaya@anncaris - ones behind that trap. When it went wrong, the Free Kin learned about it. I think the Tea Road wanted your tech to get a monopoly on the smuggling business, but the Thousand Clans Empire just - Keliaya@anncaris - released a massive bounty the other day for anyone who can obtain and hand over that tech. I assume Mel's filled you in on how much the Free Kin dislike the Hyrdeum?" Keelah@crystyl:"I believe it was mentioned. Regrettable that the Tea Road of all people would attempt this, but not unexpected. Right now I'm more interested in stopping the shooting, any ideas?" Keliaya@anncaris | Kase: "Well the Free Kin immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Tea Road wanted to sell the tech to the Hyrdeum and branded them all as traitors. There's a full scale gang war breaking - Keliaya@anncaris - out now. Even if you manage to catch the ones behind the trap and get them to state their intentions with the tech, it's probably too late for the Free Kin to stand down now. They'll lose all - Keliaya@anncaris - their good deals with the Tea Road if they just lay down arms and apologize. I have a feeling they're going all-in now. It's a full takeover or nothing for them." Keelah@crystyl:"That is less than I expected to push them into such a move" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie chimes in: "Erm, point o' interest; we already got th'one behind this. Or at least, her who was makin' th'demands" Keelah@crystyl smiles Keliaya@anncaris | Kase: "Really? Well the Tea Road definitely shouldn't have messed with you people then. I don't think a statement from her is going to help much at this point, but she could be a useful card - Keliaya@anncaris - to hold once the shooting settles-" She ducks down as the two guards taking cover behind the door peers out and starts opening fire. A few bolts whiz in through the door as well, scorching the - Keliaya@anncaris - far wall but not hitting anyone. "Speaking of shooting, the neutral compound's a free-for-all right now. I know my fellow Zarrakin just tried to kidnap you a few minutes ago, but an extraction - Keliaya@anncaris - with your transporters would be really nice right now." Keelah@crystyl:"I'm sure that can be arranged" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "The jamming's been knocked down by the Valley Forge's drains. We could beam them here, or the Valley Forge can do it with a momentary shield drop," she looks to the screen to Lennie Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "They're keepin' themselves busy enough right now. We'll grab 'em, let you'se stay hidden" Keliaya@anncaris looks over to Keelah, "Want us to transport you back while they have shields down, or are you making yourselves at home here on the Loki?" she smiles Keelah@crystyl:"Nice as a change of scenery can be, we should be getting back" Keliaya@anncaris | Eva nods, "I've been here enough times to know the way to the nearest transporter. I can show you the way." Keelah@crystyl stands, "Let's get back and get this situation settled" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah beams in just after Kase and the extracted Zarrakin. Two security officers stand by the door while Silvestrie is mid-conversation with them, and they turn as Keelah and co. - NPC@annpc#557 - materialize on the pad NPC@annpc#557 | Silvestrie: "Welcome back, Captain." Keelah@crystyl steps down, "Sooner than expected, but thank you. Did we extract everyone?" NPC@annpc#557 | Silvestrie: "We pulled out Kase here and her people. There's still plenty of others shooting each other down in the neutral compound. I don't think they'd be too happy to get beamed up here. I - NPC@annpc#557 - came down just in case we grabbed someone from one of the other factions by accident. They're all Zarrakin lifesigns so it was a possibility." NPC@annpc#557 | Vra looks to Kase, then to Keelah, "That gives me an idea to stop this gang war..." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's hear it" NPC@annpc#557 | Vra: "It's too late for either side to stand down on their own. But you have vastly superior technology here. Transport the leaders of both sides here. Force a peace negotiation. And it'll be - NPC@annpc#557 - a fair one. The Free Kin started this war, but you have grievance against the Tea Road as well for luring you into a trap, which was just as responsible for sparking the conflict. You can - NPC@annpc#557 - assert that both sides are in the wrong and put an end to the war." Keelah@crystyl:"What about the other syndicates, won't they react to such a move?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "The Spacer's Union is staying out of this for now. The only reason we were being shot at was because we were caught right in the middle, being in the neutral compound. The Marauders...I - NPC@annpc#557 - have no idea what they'll do honestly." Keelah@crystyl:"Well it sounds good in theory. But can we determine where said leaders are?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vra takes out a PADD, handing it to Keelah, "The Free Kin Admiral was at the neutral compound. We called him there for the meeting and last we heard he was still there and had taken over the - NPC@annpc#557 - compound control centre." She points to a spot on the PADD. "There. If you grab everyone in that room, you'll probably get him. As for the Tea Road's leadership, they never showed up to the - NPC@annpc#557 - meeting, probably because they planned to extort you the whole time. They'll be in the bunker systems under their HQ compound." NPC@annpc#557 | Vra swipes across the map on the PADD before pointing out a different compound, "There, multiple levels down." Keelah@crystyl looks it over, "Alright, let's do a little fishing then and see what we can hook" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "Pass me the coordinates and I'll get a lock on them." Keelah@crystyl hands her the PADD NPC@annpc#557 | Katie taps on her console, "I have a lock on all the lifesigns in the command centre of the neutral compound. I can see lifesigns below the other one marked here, but I'm unable to get a lock. - NPC@annpc#557 - They're too far down and there's too much interference from the minerals in the area." Keelah@crystyl hrms, "It could make things worse if we only pull one side" NPC@annpc#557 | Silvestrie: "We could send an away party down, grab the second side manually. Now that Chief Oliver has a lock on everyone in the control room, we should be able to beam the Admiral up - NPC@annpc#557 - whenever, even if he leaves the area. We won't know exactly which one is the admiral, but if we just keep the lock on them and beam them all up, we'll get him among them." Keelah@crystyl:"Alright then, let's send in Daz and his team to extract the Tea Road leadership. I'm sure they're more than eager to not pass up this current situation" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "I'll let them know to get underway." --- NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah and Rianni return to the bridge from the transporter room as the MACOs get ready to undertake their latest mission NPC@annpc#557 | Watson taps her console, stepping aside for Rianni to take over again Keelah@crystyl | Rianni smiles, "Seems our little upgrade went down well!" NPC@annpc#557 | Watson smiles as well, "That it did! Knocked out their compound's power and disabled two ships without causing any physical harm to them." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "It worked out great" NPC@annpc#557 | The turbolift opens again and Eva steps out, "The MACOs are ready to deploy, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"They are good to go" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, stepping over to tap on the comm console. A moment later, the suit camera feed from the MACOs displays on the viewscreen as they transport into the compound NPC@annpc#557 | The MACOs are now all wearing the new suits that Lennie and Sin have worn on missions, as opposed to the old armour. They proceed through the halls and soon encounter a crossfire ahead of them NPC@annpc#557 | Daz's voice comes through on comms, "We're encountering two local factions engaged in conflict with one another. Shall we assist one side over another, or stun anyone who tries to engage us?" Keelah@crystyl taps her intercom, "Sergeant, no discrimination at this point. Just stun anyone in the way and get to your objective" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Daz> "Understood, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | The bridge watches through the camera feed as the MACOs move in, adeptly stunning both sides of the crossfire. The criminals are no match for the well-trained MACOs and are quickly taken down. - NPC@annpc#557 - One side seems visibly more effective than the other, most likely the Free Kin. They score a few actual hits on the MACOs, but fortunately the shield systems of the new advanced armour is more - NPC@annpc#557 - than enough to weather the hits from the much lower tech disruptors NPC@annpc#557 | The MACO promptly move on further into the facility. They don't get far before they are engaged by more enemies, this time only from a single direction. They are the much less well-equipped - NPC@annpc#557 - and organized variety, most likely Tea Road defenders, and are stunned without much effort from the MACOs NPC@annpc#557 | Soon, the MACOs reach a lift, which they take downwards NPC@annpc#557 | The feed quality begins to decrease as the lift descends. Eva taps rapidly on her console. Static threatens to overtake the screen a few times, but by the time the lift stops, the video feed - NPC@annpc#557 - is still live, albeit with a little bit of lag once in a while. Eva breathes a sigh of relief Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Nicely done" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva smiles back, "Thank you. These minerals are a little annoying..." NPC@annpc#557 | The MACOs duck into cover as they are attacked by another group, but after a brief exchange of fire, the enemies are all stunned and the MACOs proceed onwards NPC@annpc#557 | The team reach a large, sealed vault door. As they begin to cut through it with phasers, the lift behind them opens again and uniformed and better armed troops of the Free Kin disembark and - NPC@annpc#557 - open fire. The MACOs fire back and there is another shootout. However, before all the enemies can be cleared out, one hit lands on a Free Kin soldier with a backpack and the pack detonates. - NPC@annpc#557 - The screen shakes as ceiling panels fall and dust rains down. Fortunately, as the dust clears, it becomes clear the hallway has not collapsed. The MACOs get back to cutting through the door NPC@annpc#557 <C - Daz> "We're reading seven lifesigns behind the door. Should we stun them all and drag them into the lift until we can ascend to a transportable position, or do you want us to - NPC@annpc#557 - try and get them to follow us willingly first?" Keelah@crystyl taps again, "I leave that to your discretion" NPC@annpc#557 | A moment later, the door collapses and the MACOs move into the bunker, weapons raised NPC@annpc#557 | Daz: "Your guards outside are down. We're not here to harm you, just get you back to our ship." NPC@annpc#557 | Zarrakin: "Why would we go back to your ship with you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Daz: "Because the others of your people right behind us are likely to shoot you dead on the spot. Now we can stun you and drag you out, or you can come with us willingly. Your call." NPC@annpc#557 | The Zarrakin share glances with one another before reluctantly nodding. As they begin to follow the MACOs out, the screen shakes a little again NPC@annpc#557 | Eva taps her console, "That detonation might've destabilized the subterranean tunnels. Get out of there, quickly." NPC@annpc#557 | Daz and the MACOs pick up pace, but as they get to the lift, they are met with another wave of Free Kin. The MACOs move to cover again and engage NPC@annpc#557 | As they exchange fire, the screen shakes again and one of the walls begin to glow red... NPC@annpc#557 | The MACOs cease fire first, followed by the Free Kin as both groups turn their weapons to the wall. Two red beams shoot out from it, cutting a clear circle before a stream of drones start to - NPC@annpc#557 - pour out. Red beams target both MACO and Zarrakin, and the two previously hostile sides focus their efforts on this new enemy NPC@annpc#557 | <C - Daz> "Captain! Are you seeing this?!" Keelah@crystyl:"We are seeing it Sergeant. But we have no explanation, just get out of there" NPC@annpc#557 | <C - Daz> "Acknowledged." NPC@annpc#557 | A MACO tosses two EMP grenades, briefly stemming the tide as they push forward, stunning two Free Kin soldiers who try to engage them, but the rest are focused on the drones. As they move into - NPC@annpc#557 - the lift, the Free Kin are overwhelmed and the drones close in. Two of the Zarrakin from the bunker are hit, one shot straight through the chest by a red beam while the other takes a hit on - NPC@annpc#557 - the leg. The MACOs try to provide covering fire as best as they can as the two wounded Zarrakin are dragged in. One downed drone drops and skids in just before the lift doors close NPC@annpc#557 | The MACO whose camera we are seeing through looks down on the drone. Though badly damaged, there is no mistaking it... NPC@annpc#557 <C - Daz> "These drones...they're Nuhar." Keelah@crystyl:"Nuhar drones. They're a long way from home..." NPC@annpc#557 | As the lift ascends, Thorkildsen announces, "Transporter room has a lock on the MACOs and the Zarrakin with them." Keelah@crystyl:"Get them out of there. How many Zarrakin are on the planetoid?" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie shakes her head, "I know wha' ya thinkin', an' it's too many for us t'evacuate alone. If they all stopped fightin' an' rallied together, then yeah it could be done" Keelah@crystyl nods, "Then that is our new priority. As soon as Daz' group is back, we'll gather these leaders and talk some sense into them" NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "We have them. Chief Oliver's asking whether we should beam the other leaders up as well." Keelah@crystyl:"In for a penny, in for a pound. Yes, lets get everyone. Eva, signal a state of alert to everyone out there; warn them about the ancient alien tech in the mines awakening and advise evacuation. - Keelah@crystyl:- Maybe some will see sense to prioritize that over the fighting for now" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods and quickly sends the message. "I'm picking up comm activity from several other bunkers. Drones are appearing there as well and are indiscriminately killing anyone they come across." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's do all we can to help evacuate and protect them while the leaders are straightened out" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Should we ask the Loki to reveal themselves as well, or?" Keelah@crystyl:"No, not yet. A desperate situation might help encourage these people to cooperate, and one ship's transporters won't make a huge difference this early on" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "We'll focus on evacuating the compounds that are being targeted by drones for now." NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "We have the leaders from both sides. Security is taking them to a conference room." Keelah@crystyl:"And protect those evacuating from any continuing combat" NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "We'll do everything we can to keep them safe." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "The place's stable f'now at least; no signs of a stirrin' Construct down there" Keelah@crystyl stands, "Learn all you can, maybe Mia can find something with them. Meanwhile, I need to welcome our new guests on board" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "I'll call her up." --- NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah proceeds to the conference room, where the Free Kin and Tea Road leaders are gathered, along with Kase, Vra and a few members of the Space's Union. Silvestrie is present with a number - NPC@annpc#557 - of armed Security personnel Keelah@crystyl takes her seat, "Thank you for so graciously making the time in your busy schedules to sit down with me here today" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | One of the Free Kin members mutters, "Like we had a choice..." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course you had a choice. And you chose to arrive here conscious and under your own volition. The Tea Road also made a choice today, one which many out there are now paying the price for" NPC@annpc#557 | Another Free Kin member nods, "Yes, they're the ones who started this by trying to double-cross you." Keelah@crystyl:"And you were all too quick to try and turn this to your advantage. Not that I blame you of course, opportunism is a universal standard in societies such as yours. But right now we have graver - Keelah@crystyl:- concerns" NPC@annpc#557 | Tea Road Member: "Yes, these drones that appeared from under our compound and started attacking everyone- your forces and ours alike." Keelah@crystyl:"So before anything else, we must look after your people. We cannot evacuate the entirety of Rogue's Den alone, but if you all call off the fighting and put every ship on it, then we can get - Keelah@crystyl:- everyone to safety. /Then/ we can see about picking up on a more civilized discussion" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "The Spacer's Union has already started evacuating our own compounds. If we have additional space, we'll be willing to accommodate your people as well, as long as you promise not to - NPC@annpc#557 - cause trouble." Keelah@crystyl:"And we are already aiding those asking for assistance and unable to get out. But it is up to the rest of you to turn this around" NPC@annpc#557 | The Free Kin member at the front of the table, dressed more fancily than the others and presumably this Admiral of theirs, checks a PADD and nods, "These drones are appearing from under some - NPC@annpc#557 - of our compounds as well. We are willing to stand down for now while we deal with this new threat." NPC@annpc#557 | The Tea Road members nod as well, and the one who spoke earlier speaks again, "We've seen those drones and their indiscriminate attacks firsthand. We'd be fools to keep fighting each other. - NPC@annpc#557 - We'll call a truce." Keelah@crystyl:"That only leaves the Marauders" NPC@annpc#557 | A red-skinned female with some Zarrakin features but also strange spikes on her head gives a nod, "We won't back away from a fight, but there's no point killing Zarrakin when there's something - NPC@annpc#557 - more challenging at hand. We'll see how tough these drones are. The other syndicates got nothing to worry from us." Keelah@crystyl:"It might expedite your chance to fight the drones if you help clear the rest of your people out of the way as well. Just a point of interest" NPC@annpc#557 | The berserker nods, "We'll pull back to the ships, launch attacks against the drones from there." Keelah@crystyl:"I feel I should warn you all that these drones are likely not the true power down there" NPC@annpc#557 | Tea Road Member: "You have reason to believe there's something else beneath the planet? A base where the drones might be coming from?" Keelah@crystyl:"We are familiar with these drones, and they are not inherently hostile. Those you saw are in fact no more to their typical master as this is to me" she unclips her tricorder and sets it on the - Keelah@crystyl:- table, "A tool, plain and simple. Unfortunately, their masters can be volatile as they have suffered greatly for longer than any of our species have even blinked through existence" NPC@annpc#557 | Free Kin Admiral: "And who are these masters?" Keelah@crystyl:"They are sentient AI called Nuhar Constructs. Their creators - the Nuhar - died out eons ago. The Constructs, well..." she taps her console and calls up a holo of one NPC@annpc#557 | The Zarrakin's eyes widen at the image of the construct NPC@annpc#557 | Tea Road Member: "That looks like a starship." NPC@annpc#557 | Free Kin Admiral: "That entire ship is a sentient AI?" Keelah@crystyl nods, tapping again to show the Valley Forge beside for comparison Keelah@crystyl:"For the most part, the Constructs are now our allies. But they exist on the other side of the galaxy from here. If one is here, it is disconnected from current events which is why I remain - Keelah@crystyl:- cautious. Of course, there is no guarantee that one is under Rogue's Den - it could simply be the remnant of a Nuhar facility. But I think you'll all agree that we can't take that risk right now" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "What exactly are the risks if there is indeed a construct buried under Rogue's Den?" Keelah@crystyl:"You can see the scale of it. If nothing else, there is a chance that it /is/ Rogue's Den. If so and it decides to move out, your planetoid will disintegrate" NPC@annpc#557 | Free Kin Admiral: "What can we do about it, then?" Keelah@crystyl:"For now, let's just focus on getting all of your people safely away from there. I have specialists able to communicate with these Nuhar on their own level, so they are currently investigating. But - Keelah@crystyl:- chances are, we will have to go down there to the depths of the old mines and see what's down there" NPC@annpc#557 | Tea Road Member: "We will ask our people to stand down and work on evacuating our compounds, then. Unless there is anything else we should know?" Keelah@crystyl:"I am certain there is much you all still need to know. But on this current matter, I do not feel it would be right to flood you with information unless there is a benefit to you for possessing it. - Keelah@crystyl:- For now, you know what might be down there. Once we have everyone safely out of there, we can decide on our next move. Whilst our experience with the Nuhar positions us to deal with this - Keelah@crystyl:- situation, this is your home still. So we will not do anything without agreement from all of you, and as we learn more we will share that with everyone. Does that seem satisfactory to you all?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "Thank you for your assistance in this matter, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Then let us all focus on getting all of your people safely away from there" --- NPC@annpc#557 | As Keelah talks with the syndicate leaders, Mia enters the bridge with Lennie currently in command NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Hello Mia. It seems we have a bit of a Nuhar situation." Mia@crystyl:"Quite the unexpected situation here, even we did not anticipate them here!" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "No one thought we'd run into Nuhar all the way out here. But there's no mistaking it, these definitely are Nuhar drones. Complete with antiproton beams, which the locals here - NPC@annpc#557 - certainly aren't capable of producing." Mia@crystyl moves to a console, "Is there any sign of communication channels between the drones?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "There's coordination signals between one another. If we disrupt them, it could make their attacks less coordinated, but I don't think we can use them to seize control of the drones. - NPC@annpc#557 - There's also a fainter signal but I can't pick up on anything else about that from this range." Mia@crystyl:"Well, let us first analyze the coordination signals. We have used them enough now at all levels, so should be able to determine something about their activity. If not the nature of the coordinating- Mia@crystyl:- force" Mia@crystyl:"No indicators of a control signal. You could say that they are networking themselves and operating a rudimentary AI, possibly just a simple directive making them comparable to pack animals acting - Mia@crystyl:- instinct. However, we will need to interface directly in order to determine any more" NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "The drones seem to be running basic transport inhibitor protocols when they're active, but I can beam a disabled one up. If I get one that isn't badly damaged, you might be able - NPC@annpc#557 - to restart it and interface with it." Mia@crystyl smiles, "That would be most helpful as our next step, please do!" NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen nods, "I think I see a suitable one. Transporting it to a lab now." Mia@crystyl:"Then that is where we shall continue our work" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar awaits Mia in the lab, with the damaged drone on a table in the centre Mia@crystyl steps over, "Allo Ziranar! So this is our new little one" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Yes it is. There's a few mechanisms that are fried, but as you can see, the drone's still intact. I believe it was hit by an EMP. There's no mistaking that this one was equipped - NPC@annpc#557 - for combat with the antiproton beam instead of the phaser ones more commonly seen in drones whose primary purpose is repair." Mia@crystyl:"A defense unit. Well, let us see what it can tell us" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Not a standard defense unit either. There's some minor differences in design from the base, which suggests it belongs to a construct and not a Nuhar facility. All of the facilities - NPC@annpc#557 - we know of produce drones by the standard template; only the constructs have the individualism to customize their drones. Anyways, I'll let you reboot it." Mia@crystyl smiles, proceeding to interface NPC@annpc#557 | Mia's familiarity with Nuhar drones allows her to interface with this one easily. Once in, she notices two points of interest. Firstly, it is definitely the drone of a Construct, as the second - NPC@annpc#557 - signal Eva was detecting is its connection to the base Construct. The connection feels very passive though, more of a homing signal than anything else. The construct is not actively directing - NPC@annpc#557 - the drone in any way and Mia is unable to use this link to commune with the construct. However, she can use it to trace the construct's location NPC@annpc#557 | Secondly, the drone's AI is operating on basic programming to defend its construct, but strangely, part of these directives include prioritizing Zarrakin lifesigns. The drones seem to regard - NPC@annpc#557 - Zarrakin as a bigger threat, along with a few other types of lifesigns Mia does not recognize Mia@crystyl:"Curious. They appear to be running a basic programme to protect a Construct from the Zarrakin and other lifeforms. The Construct is not active, but we should be able to trace its location" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Are we among these other lifeforms?" Mia@crystyl shakes her head, "No, they are species we are not familiar with. We would surmise that they are others indigenous to this region, or at least have been. They will however still actively target any- Mia@crystyl:- lifeform in range of the parent Construct. We are... uncertain if this would include artificial lifeforms like us or not" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods and thinks for a moment, "You could modify your energy readings to resemble one of these drones, and then tap into their coordination signals. It should be enough to convince any - NPC@annpc#557 - drones you encounter that you're friendly and let you get in there. Of course, it won't fly once you actually encounter the construct itself, but the construct is sentient and can be - NPC@annpc#557 - reasoned with." Mia@crystyl:"Both situations we are more than familiar with. Very good then, we will report this to the captain and seek consent to proceed with an away mission" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Good luck Mia! If anyone can get these drones to stand down, it's you." Mia@crystyl smiles, "We will do our best!" waving as she heads back out --- NPC@annpc#557 | After speaking with Keelah about their plan, Mia transports down to the Tea Road HQ the MACOs stormed earlier, where the drones first appeared Mia@crystyl | Miadrone gives an ominous 'wooo' and starts scanning around NPC@annpc#557 | The compound is now devoid of organic life. There are a number of bodies around from the fighting, and drones still appear to be patrolling here, though far from the numbers they had when they - NPC@annpc#557 - attacked the place. Miadrone detects a patrolling drone and can try to tap into its network Mia@crystyl does just that NPC@annpc#557 | Mia successfully taps in, and the drones don't seem to notice anything wrong, recognizing her as one of their own! She can now safely approach and interface with one to begin tracking the signal Mia@crystyl | Miadrone hovers off to find the nearest drone NPC@annpc#557 | Miadrone locates the nearest drone, robotically hovering its way down a hall as it patrols the compound Mia@crystyl | Miadrone approaches with a friendly beep and seeks to interface NPC@annpc#557 | The drone pauses, allowing Miadrone to interface Mia@crystyl begins the interface to learn what she can about the construct NPC@annpc#557 | The drone doesn't have much data on the construct, but Mia is able to learn from the signal that it is indeed located deep within the planetoid. The drone seems to have made its way out from - NPC@annpc#557 - the construct after detecting the disturbances caused by the fighting on the surface, and Mia is also able to access its navigational data to use the path the drone used in order to reach the - NPC@annpc#557 - construct Mia@crystyl disconnects and proceeds on her way, following the path to the construct NPC@annpc#557 | Mia soon finds herself at the point where the drones cut through the wall and engaged the MACOs. Going through the gap, Miadrone maneuvers through a tunnel that appears to have been recently - NPC@annpc#557 - dug by the drones, with the antiproton weapons signatures still fresh on the rocks NPC@annpc#557 | Passing through the tunnel, she ends up in a much larger tunnel, big enough for people to move around in. It is entirely dark, but Mia detects traces of metal in pipes, wiring and support - NPC@annpc#557 - columns, as well as lights that have long since lost power and been extinguished. Judging by the minerals in the area, this was probably an old mine tunnel NPC@annpc#557 | Mia travels through the mine tunnel for some time, until her sensors pick up the familiar metals that make up the hull of a Nuhar construct up ahead... Mia@crystyl proceeds more cautiously as she approaches NPC@annpc#557 | There is no sign that the construct is aware of her presence yet, and Mia is able to locate an entrance from the drone's navigation data. The entrance is presently sealed though, but Mia's - NPC@annpc#557 - disguise as a Nuhar drone and knowledge of constructs should be able to get it open! Mia@crystyl gets to work NPC@annpc#557 | Before long, Mia gets the hatch open! Mia@crystyl heads inside NPC@annpc#557 | Entering the hatch, Mia finds herself once again in the familiar interior of a Nuhar construct. She doesn't go far before she encounters a group of drones, these ones equipped for maintenance - NPC@annpc#557 - with phaser beams instead of antiproton. Many of them appear to be carrying components as they hover through the construct Mia@crystyl hovers over to interrogate the drones about their current maintenance task NPC@annpc#557 | The drones' task appears to be repairing a section of the construct's hull Mia@crystyl acknowledges and continues on her way NPC@annpc#557 | Mia continues through the construct for a little over a minute before coming across another drone, this one interfacing with a port. Mia recognizes the port as one she can use to communicate - NPC@annpc#557 - with the construct, once this lone drone is done with it and moves on Mia@crystyl loiter-hovers until the drone moves on NPC@annpc#557 | The drone disconnects a few seconds later, continuing down the hallway on its own task Mia@crystyl heads over to interface with the port NPC@annpc#557 | As she interfaces, Mia realizes that the construct is in a 'sleep mode,' essentially acting on instinct rather than conscious thought, hence why none of the drones are being actively - NPC@annpc#557 - directed by its construct. Interfacing with the construct directly reveals that she is not in fact a Nuhar drone and an alert is triggered, with defense drones being sent her way. The ruse is - NPC@annpc#557 - up now, but fortunately interfacing also gives her data on how to get to the central core of the construct, where she can wake it up and get it to stop acting on limited programming, as the - NPC@annpc#557 - core still seems to be intact and the sentient part of the construct must be in there somewhere Mia@crystyl quickly disengages and zooms off towards the core NPC@annpc#557 | Mia manages to cover a good bit of distance, but eventually her sensors register defense drones closing in... Mia@crystyl prepares her defenses in case they reach her, and starts putting out her own override signal used to command the other drones previously Mia@crystyl:rolls 31 (1-100) NPC@annpc#557 | Mia evades the drones and leads them on a brief chase, but they soon manage to catch up. One of them fires a red beam down the hall, which Mia manages to dodge, and as they close in, she uses - NPC@annpc#557 - the override signal... NPC@annpc#557 ...which successfully overrides the two drones under her direct command! Mia@crystyl has them escort her the rest of the way to protect against others NPC@annpc#557 | As she nears the core, Mia is indeed engaged by additional defense drones. The overridden ones opens fire on the hostile drones, and though one of the friendly ones goes down, it buys Mia - NPC@annpc#557 - enough time to override these new drones that have shown up to stop her! Mia@crystyl chirps happily as she hovers along with her new posse NPC@annpc#557 | Entering the large chamber housing the core, Mia finds it defended by additional drones. Her posse immediately engages them and the defending drones reclassify them as hostile, the two groups - NPC@annpc#557 - of drones beginning to dance around the chamber firing brief bursts of red beams after one another. The friendly drones protect Mia, leading enemy drones away or taking hits for her, giving - NPC@annpc#557 - her plenty of opportunity to override the defenders here as well Mia@crystyl does just that NPC@annpc#557 | Before long, all the drones in the core are friendly, and Mia can get to work waking the construct! Mia@crystyl begins with a detailed analysis of the infrastructure and then moves on to identify the sentient element and ascertain it's condition NPC@annpc#557 | Mia is able to identify the sentient element and see that it is intact. It's simply been toggled off, and Mia is able to turn it back on Mia@crystyl does so. And hopes for the best NPC@annpc#557 | One by one, long dormant subroutines within the construct begin to start back up. Mia notices a huge spike in core activity as the construct wakes. It seems to take a moment to process, - NPC@annpc#557 - running diagnostics as well as internal and external scans. Then, it begins to communicate... NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "You are not one of my drones. Who are you and why have you woken me?" Mia@crystyl:"Allo! We are Mia. We apologize for disturbing your slumber, but your little ones were endangering our friends and so we required your direct control to be reasserted over them" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Your friends? The drones were instructed to defend me. If they are attacking your friends, then your friends must have threatened me." Mia@crystyl:"Until your little ones acted, they had no knowledge of your presence here. We believe mere proximity triggered their protocols. We have observed the biological definitions given priority in their - Mia@crystyl:- subroutines. These may no longer be pertinent, depending on how long you have slumbered" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Examining drone activities now. They are currently engaging the Tokhor. Checking chronometers. It has been long since I first slumbered here. Organic civilization develop - NPC@annpc#557 - and change rapidly. There is a possibility that the Tokhor are no longer a threat. Curious. They appear to have regressed significantly in technology." Mia@crystyl:"Regressed? Curious indeed. As is your very presence here, to us at least! Why exactly were you slumbering here anyway?" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "I was severely damaged in combat with a battlefleet of the Tokhor Imperium. My allies were decimated. I was able to evade pursuit and crash-landed upon this rogue planet to evade - NPC@annpc#557 - detection." Mia@crystyl:"We were not aware of any constructs venturing this far across the galaxy. We believe there is much you need to be caught up on now!" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "You are familiar with us, then? That would explain how you were able to seize control of my drones so easily. You must have travelled far as well. Did you come through the gates?" Mia@crystyl:"Gates? Non, our arrival here was quite by accident. But we came from the rediscovered Iconian facility once called the Heart of War" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "The Heart of War has been rediscovered? Do your people control it now?" Mia@crystyl:"Not strictly. The Iconians have been reborn and serve as primary curators there. Overall it is being maintained as neutral ground for all Children species and their friends, including your fellow - Mia@crystyl:- Constructs! You should also know that the foundries have been refired and the first of a new generation of Constructs has already made it's way out into the galaxy" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Iconians and other constructs are maintaining the Heart. Excellent. How have the Gatekeepers come to be reborn?" Mia@crystyl:"Once we rediscovered the Heart, we activated one of the genetic archives and brought back the last Iconian caretaker. The naturally evolved Iconians also returned to the galaxy and now maintain a - Mia@crystyl:- presence there. Though they are far from the same beings you once knew" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Interesting. I assume their influence is also significantly diminished?" Mia@crystyl:"The galaxy has long since passed over to a new generation of Children. But please, before we continue, could we ask that you halt your little ones so that the biologicals are safe?" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "I have completed my analysis of the modern Tokhor and have deemed that they are not an imminent threat. I will recall the drones, but they will engage if the Tokhor attempt to - NPC@annpc#557 - board me." Mia@crystyl:"That is all we ask for now. The situation remains with further complications, but as long as there is no imminent danger then we can take the time to talk properly!" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Your friends are safe, though I remain slightly skeptical in your choice of friends. You say the galaxy has passed to a new generation of Children. What has become of the gates - NPC@annpc#557 - that were left behind by the Gatekeepers?" Mia@crystyl:"The network was reactivated, though many gates have been lost to time" Mia@crystyl giggles, "As for our friends, they are not the species your little ones directly target here! But visitors travelling with us! They are attempting to resolve differences between the local peoples,- Mia@crystyl:- trust us; there is no greater biological friend to the Constructs than mon Capitaine!" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Then perhaps I shall contact this captain of yours." Mia@crystyl:"We would be more than happy to return and facilitate this for you! Our vessel is nearby and has the capacity to host your holographic avatars" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Excellent. I look forward to meeting your friends, then." Mia@crystyl:"Until later then! Oh, what should we call you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "The name I had among the Nuhar was Reliant Defender, but I have not been called that for some time even before my slumber. Among most of the Children I encountered, I became known - NPC@annpc#557 - as the Last Defender of the Gates." Mia@crystyl:"That sounds like quite the mouthful, and Reliant Defender has a nice ring to it we think!" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Then you may call me Reliant Defender." Mia@crystyl:"Yay! Now that you are awake, you should be able to receive our signal from our ship nearby?" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "The minerals in the planetoid are running some interference, but I will create a series of relays using my drones. The signal will be clear shortly." Mia@crystyl:"Very good. It will take us some time to return anyway. Once we are back, we will contact you" NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "I shall establish a communication relay chain while you travel. Return the drones you have overridden to me before you depart as well." Mia@crystyl:"Of course! We have no desire to take away your little ones as we have quite enough to look after already!" with that, she releases them NPC@annpc#557 | Construct: "Thank you." --- NPC@annpc#557 | After Mia returns to the VF, they are able to establish a comm connection to the Reliant Defender. Keelah sits in her ready room, prepared to speak with the construct NPC@annpc#557 | After a few moments, the construct's holographic avatar begins to form. It is unlike any of the ones Keelah has seen before, depicting itself as a large, metal golem of sorts Keelah@crystyl looks up with a perked brow, "Nice to finally meet you, Reliant Defender. Or would you prefer Last Defender of the Gates?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "You have not known me by either, so there is no familiarity with either name. You may use whichever one you prefer. And what shall I call you?" Keelah@crystyl:"I am Captain T'Keel Se'Lai commanding the starship Valley Forge. Though my friends call me Keelah, so however you feel most comfortable" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Is Keelah a pet name derived from T'Keel? I have found it a common practice among many Children species." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed. A personalization of sorts and expression of familiarity not unlike your choice of avatars in some respects. To which I must say, yours is quite unique" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Unlike many fellow constructs I have encountered, I did not create mine based on an existing species that best reflected their nature. I thought of using an Iconian, but - NPC@annpc#557 - I deemed that doing so made me appear to be something I am not. So I crafted this avatar to give the appearance of an intimidating synthetic being, as suited my needs at the time." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Like I said, an expression of familiarity and personalization. But self indulgent curiosity aside, I appreciate your willingness to accommodate Mia's request earlier in sparing the lives - Keelah@crystyl:- of the Zarrakin. She tells me that they are quite different now to the people you remember them to be" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "That is correct. You call them Zarrakin. Is that a name in your language, or did they give it to themselves?" Keelah@crystyl:"That is the name they use themselves" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "When I knew them, they were the Tokhor. They had technology similar to yours. Their ships would certainly have been far more of a match for you than what I detect in orbit - NPC@annpc#557 - now. A warship of the Tokhor Imperium would likely be able to eradicate this motley fleet single-handedly." Keelah@crystyl:"Whilst reversions such as this are not unheard of, I must admit to being curious as to the cause in this case. Do you also recognize those we know as the Hydreum?" she taps to show the data NPC@annpc#557 | The golem avatar bends down slightly over the data, "No. I do not. They must have achieved interstellar influence more recently. As for the cause of the Tokhor's regression, I cannot say. I - NPC@annpc#557 - was damaged by their fleet and remain unaware of their later history. However, I calculate a significant possibility that it was due to their involvement in the Wars of the Gates." Keelah@crystyl:"I am unfamiliar with that event. I take it that was a conflict that took place long ago in this corner of the galaxy?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "You are correct in that conflict was involved in this region, but it was neither a single conflict nor confined to this region of the galaxy. I assume your people are not - NPC@annpc#557 - old enough to remember the aftermath of the Gatekeepers' downfall?" Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "That period in history was all but forgotten until recent years and discoveries. We are now reasonably familiar with those events, at least as far as we can be given the lack of - Keelah@crystyl:- prior knowledge that species such as your creators or the Gatekeepers even existed" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "The Wars of the Gates are what many peoples referred to the series of conflicts in that time. After the Iconians were gone, many of their gateways were left behind. The - NPC@annpc#557 - other civilizations of the galaxy did not possess the means to replicate Iconian technology, so the remaining gates became valuable assets. Wars were fought over them throughout the galaxy for - NPC@annpc#557 - thousands of years to come. Empires expanded their reach halfway across the galaxy through a gateway, and sometimes brought back a foe too powerful for them back to their own sector. Gateways - NPC@annpc#557 - exchanged hands frequently and millions of lives were lost over them. It was a time of chaos rivalled only by the initial expansions of the Horde." Keelah@crystyl:"I understand, and believe these events have been referenced. At least in passing. The Horde is at least one common point of reference between us and our galactic views separated by time" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I expected that you were aware of them, if you had rediscovered the Heart of War. Did the Sphere turn the tide of that conflict, as the Iconians had hoped during its - NPC@annpc#557 - construction?" Keelah@crystyl:"Things did not exactly go as expected, but yes; with a little further modification we were able to use it to eliminate the Horde. The Architect also perished during that final conflict, so they are- Keelah@crystyl:- no longer a threat to the galaxy. This sparked a /very/ recent resurgence across the galaxy which many generally feel to be heralding a time of prosperity for the galaxy. The Q Continuum has - Keelah@crystyl:- lifted the barrier from around this galaxy and the Children are experiencing a rapid uptake in the psionic abilities that were being tapped to sustain it. We are however, aware of more threats - Keelah@crystyl:- from beyond the barrier as well as within this galaxy still, so it is far from sunshine and rainbows" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I see. The situation seems to have improved, at least in your part of the galaxy, since the Wars of the Gates. It was a very precarious time for many civilizations through - NPC@annpc#557 - the galaxy, and I suspect the Tokhor may have suffered some calamity which led to their regression. Have these Zarrakin ever mentioned the Tokhor Imperium or a time in the past when they were - NPC@annpc#557 - a major political power in this region?" Keelah@crystyl:"No, but we have barely just met them. For what we currently understand, they were at least more than they are now but nowhere near this Imperium. They were repressed by the Hydreum I showed you - Keelah@crystyl:- until a genetic plaque of recent generations took it's toll on the region" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "A genetic plague? Is it still active in the region?" Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, and it is something we are investigating. That is partially why I was curious about the history of the Zarrakin, since it would have taken the expertise of a species on that technological - Keelah@crystyl:- level in order to create it" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "It is a possibility, though if that were the case, the plague would have existed for tens of thousands of generations by now. You mentioned it was only of recent generations?" Keelah@crystyl:"As far as we understand, yes. So for now I do not believe we can learn more on that investigation through this line of inquiry. Right now, we have the more pressing concern of the rather - Keelah@crystyl:- unfortunate circumstances that - quite literally - surround you now" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "My maintenance drones have been repairing me during my slumber, and all my internal systems are now back to full operational status. But I am not yet spaceworthy. The drones - NPC@annpc#557 - defaulted to their base subroutines and will only repair my hull with an appropriate grade of material. These materials are not found here. My hull was never fully repaired, and as a result - NPC@annpc#557 - I was not awoken, as they were instructed to wake me only when the repairs were complete." Keelah@crystyl:"I see. Without being presumptuous on my part, what do you want to do now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I may have to settle for a lower grade of material to complete hull repairs, so I may take flight and seek additional materials." Keelah@crystyl:"Would it then be amenable for you to depart here with us? We can travel together and aid in your repairs for as long as it suits. The Valley Forge is quite capable on it's own, and it is in fact - Keelah@crystyl:- not on it's own" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I am told you come from the Heart of War, where you have reactivated Nuhar Foundries?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Yes, indeed. Truth is, we have become very close with the Constructs after all that has happened" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Do you seek to return there now?" Keelah@crystyl:"We do want to find our way back, and I won't pretend that your knowledge of the gateways doesn't add a degree of hope to that. But we have committed to investigating events here, so we must honour - Keelah@crystyl:- that first. I remain hopeful though that these objectives can align with yours still. And if you so choose, it would be my pleasure to escort you back to the Heart and introduce you to the new - Keelah@crystyl:- generation of Constructs" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I will come with you. It will be interesting to see what has become of this region while you investigate here, and the Foundry will be able to provide me with more suitable - NPC@annpc#557 - materials for repairs. I must conduct some rudimentary repairs with what materials are available here first. While I perform these repairs, your vessel may wish to excavate me so that my exit - NPC@annpc#557 - causes minimal damage to the settlements above me. Some damage will be inevitable, but a controlled excavation will be able to mitigate some." Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed. I will confer with those who call this place home and see what what we can do" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I am beginning repairs immediately. I hope any knowledge I may be able to provide concerning nearby gateways will off put the delay in your departure here." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Simply meeting you and getting the opportunity to travel with you does more than enough" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I look forward to seeing what has become of our people closer to home. We shall speak again soon then, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Until then, Reliant Defender" --- NPC@annpc#557 | After Keelah's talk with the Reliant Defender, she once again assembles the syndicate leaders in the conference room. Now that the fighting with both each other and the Nuhar drones have - NPC@annpc#557 - stopped, the leaders look calmer than last time NPC@annpc#557 | Tea Road Leader: "Captain. I did not have the chance to thank you last time for rescuing us from the bunker. I am Qura Neen Batri, leader of the Tea Road." Keelah@crystyl:"There were more pressing concerns at the time than formal introductions. So you are the one who our prisoner reports to, I take it?" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "Yes. That's correct." Keelah@crystyl:"Because the small matter of your attempted kidnapping and extortion of us is still to be resolved" NPC@annpc#557 | Free Kin Admiral: "I am Tann Sev Kotron, Admiral of the Free Kin. Their attempt to kidnap and extort you for your technology was what started this conflict. They must be made to answer for - NPC@annpc#557 - their crimes." Keelah@crystyl:"And how do you propose this is done?" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "We admit that move was a mistake, but it did not call for the Free Kin to invade our compounds! It is only these visitors who have grievances with us. If anything, the Free Kin is as just - NPC@annpc#557 - as guilty for starting the conflict, if not more so. We will recognize any punishment from you, but it is the Free Kin who should pay us reparation for the conflict." Keelah@crystyl:"I think it is fair to say that you both have been equally opportunistic. As I'm sure everyone else was a result of what unfolded" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "We have all lost something in this conflict, whether from the forces of another syndicate or these drones which suddenly surfaced. I think it is fair to say we have all already - NPC@annpc#557 - paid some price as well. Perhaps we should focus on how we shall proceed moving forward, unless you wish any further punishment upon the ones who lured you into a trap?" Keelah@crystyl smiles and shakes her head, "Wise words right there. I completely agree, the route forwards is far more pertinent right now" NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Kotron nods, "Those drones have retreated back underground for now, but do you anticipate them being a threat in the future? Is there really one of those constructs under Rogue's Den?" Keelah@crystyl:"They retreated back because their parent Construct heard our request and obliged. If anyone encroaches on it still, their programming will register them as hostile and attack again. So you are not - Keelah@crystyl:- out of the woods yet. But yes, we have confirmed the presence of Construct beneath Rogue's Den" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "So we just go about our business and don't venture too deep?" Keelah@crystyl:"For the moment. The good news is that it has agreed to leave here with us, we just need to dig it out first" NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Kotron: "If the construct is leaving, that's good for long-term safety. But digging something that big up is going to cause some damage, isn't it?" Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, that is the not so good news which is unavoidable. If you work with us however, we can minimize the disruption and get it out of there cleanly. If we do not do this, it will continue to lay - Keelah@crystyl:- beneath your feet eliminating anyone who gets near it. And when it is ready to leave on it's own, I think it would be significantly messier" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "There's no way around it, is there? That thing is coming out of the planet sooner or later, so we might as well have it be on our terms." Keelah@crystyl:"With everyone currently evacuated, we can minimize the disruption. So now we just need to continue this collaboration in order to minimize the damage" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "If there's a time to do this, might as well be now." NPC@annpc#557 | The syndicate leaders exchange glances with one another briefly before all nodding Keelah@crystyl:"My thoughts exactly. We can perform some precision drilling with our phasers. But due to the minerals at deeper levels, we are unable to effectively scan at such depths. I expect someone here has - Keelah@crystyl:- access to at least some historical knowledge of the old mining operations that can be used to map the depths and plan a more efficient extraction" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura nods, "Yes, we have some old data from the mining days. All information on the construct was censored and erased by our old military, but the rock composition information is still intact - NPC@annpc#557 - and can help with drilling. The data on the tunnels is also out of date as many have since collapsed, but unblocking collapsed tunnels will still be easier than digging new ones, if you need - NPC@annpc#557 - personnel down at the construct for any reason." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "That would be most helpful, thank you. We will get started planning the operation immediately, but there is another matter I wished to ask about while you are all here" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "And that is?" Keelah@crystyl:"What does the Tokhor mean to you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Kotron: "Tokhor...do you mean Tokhorin?" Keelah@crystyl:"The similarity is enough for me to say a potential yes, accounting for time and language differences. So what does this name mean to you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "There's several variants of that name, depending on the culture. Tokharin, Took-Haring, Tu-Karron, and a few more I can't remember off the top of my head." NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Kotron: "Many of our religions and mythologies refer to a place by that name as the place of our origin. The myths all tell of different stories, but some great cataclysm devastated - NPC@annpc#557 - that land. Some say it was a blight that was the curse of an angered god, some say it sank into the sea, some a combination of disasters including war, flood and plague. All of the stories end - NPC@annpc#557 - similarly though, with a great exodus of our people across the sea in many ships." Keelah@crystyl:"Fascinating..." she remarks with a perked brow, clearly lost in thought as she draws comparisons to places and histories she is familiar with NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "There's still debate on what Tokharin actually is, if it ever existed. There are those who believe one of the continents on our homeworld was Tokharin, those who identified a series of - NPC@annpc#557 - islands as the remains of a sunken continent, and of course plenty who just think it was a story which got passed from one culture to another and was never a real place." Keelah@crystyl:"Well I'm sure you are all aware of the philosophy that all mythologies and folklore have some basis in fact, no matter how obscure" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura nods, "That's why plenty of people believe it was a real place, but there's never any consensus on where that could be." NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "What's your interest in this, Captain?" Keelah@crystyl:"I happen to have come into some information on this topic recently. Now, another philosophy I am fond of is the fact that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. Or rather more - Keelah@crystyl:- perhaps, those who lose it" NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Kotron regards Keelah curiously, "Well that's not ominous at all. It's true, people who forget history do tend to make the same mistakes. That's why all Free Kin leaders study our - NPC@annpc#557 - military history. But how could you have learned about some mythical sunken continent on our homeworld? You haven't even been there..." Keelah@crystyl:"That's because I have not learned about any continents on your homeworld. I have learned about a highly advanced spacefaring civilization who participated in a great galactic conflict; seeking to - Keelah@crystyl:- claim advanced technology for their own gains. How these people fell to a great cataclysm, and after countless thousands of years evolved into... you" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "You're saying we had starships and warp drives in the past, and lost that technology somehow? That's quite a claim." Keelah@crystyl:"Your mythological exodus may well have been accurate as well. Though it was not clipper ships across the oceans of your world that carried it, but starships using galactic gateways. That is - Keelah@crystyl:- however, a little more supposition. This ancient name is that by which the Nuhar Construct knows your kind. It once fought against them to defend these gateways from your ancestors who sought to - Keelah@crystyl:- use them, most likely to aggressively expand their own Empire. Or rather, the Tokhor Imperium as it was apparently known at the time" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "This is quite the fascinating revelation. If it's true, it could change...almost everything we know about our own evolution." Keelah@crystyl:"And I hope you appreciate my reason for sharing this with all of you. Not only did your ancestors conduct themselves in the same manner as you suffered at the hands of the Hydreum, but also - Keelah@crystyl:- not so differently as to how you are now. By accounts, they were a civilization on par with our own and they threw it away in greedy conflict. I hope if nothing else, you will all take this to - Keelah@crystyl:- heart" NPC@annpc#557 | Qura nods, "We will be sure to keep that in mind going forward, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "Thank you for sharing this information with us." Keelah@crystyl:"On a brighter note, I believe this shows what heights of potential your people truly hold. I am confident that if we are graceful about it, the Construct will be willing to share more of it's - Keelah@crystyl:- knowledge., should you wish to learn" NPC@annpc#557 | Admiral Kotron: "We will be very interested to see what this construct knows, if it is willing to share with us." Keelah@crystyl:"I will open the dialogue once the extraction operation is underway. Whilst I appreciate this is more the territory of the Spacers Union than the rest of you, this may present opportunity for a - Keelah@crystyl:- fruitful business agreement between your collective syndicate and the construct. Though it's last memory of your kind is one of it's enemy, it seems quite understanding of the fact that you are - Keelah@crystyl:- not those same people any more. So between it's knowledge of your lost history, and your resources needed to extract it and maybe even bolster it's repairs. I believe there is plenty of - Keelah@crystyl:- opportunity for all of you to make this situation profitable, even with the damage that must be done in the process" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase: "We will do our best to make the most of this situation." NPC@annpc#557 | Qura: "The Tea Road has some ideas. And don't worry, it doesn't involve kidnapping this time." Keelah@crystyl:"Glad to hear it. And if you find that your own resources are insufficient, I happen to know some very friendly independent traders who may have some scope in their schedules" NPC@annpc#557 | Kase smiles, "Excellent. Let's hear what the Tea Road has in mind first, Qura."
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Keliaya@anncaris | Shortly after the events at the Rogue's Den have calmed down, Kelly makes her way to Lennie's office and rings the doorbell Lendaria@crystyl works away at her console, "Come in" Keliaya@anncaris steps into the office with a PADD in hand, "Hello Lennie." Lendaria@crystyl stops working and smiles, leaning back, "Hey stranger!" she teases, "Y'know, we used t'have a Chief Engineer looked a lot like you'se" Keliaya@anncaris smirks, "At least you aren't mistaking me for Farhalla. Fortunately that's happening less now that people are looking at our hair and ears for identification." Lendaria@crystyl chuckles, "Least ya only got her t'contend wit'. Try walkin' around here wit' green skin! Anyways, to wha' do I owe th'honour?" she asks, gesturing an invite to sit Keliaya@anncaris chuckles as well and takes a seat, "I think green skin would suit me..." She hands the PADD over to Lennie, "Here's the analysis we did for the Nuhar extraction." Lendaria@crystyl takes it and skim reads, "Everythin' as expected so far?" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "The Loki's SFI sensors are able to get a better read on the geology. There's no surprises, just some additional data that'll help." Lendaria@crystyl sets the PADD down, "S'all good then! But I'm-a sure it didn't take th'Loki's no.1 engineer t'deliver a status report" Keliaya@anncaris:"Well I was visiting Eva anyways, but I did find something else that's worth bringing to your attention." Lendaria@crystyl smirks, "An' there it is. Ya never fail t'dissapoint!" Keliaya@anncaris:"So this is a Nuhar Defender we're dealing with, bigger than the Watcher that surfaced when you and the Regulators were on that mission. It's going to leave one impressive crater behind, but - Keliaya@anncaris:- luckily the planetoid isn't geologically active so there's no risk of destabilizing the rest of it. But there's still the problem of the buildings above where the construct is going to break out." Keliaya@anncaris:"And given the size of that thing, that's a significant amount of infrastructure for the locals to lose." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, it sucks but unless ya got a major transporter upgrade up ya sleeve..." Keliaya@anncaris:"No transporter upgrade, but I /do/ have a way to save these buildings. Some of them, at least." Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh yeah? I mean sure, we could strip it all out then rebuild. But tha's a time an' resource factor we just ain't got. So wha's ya angle?" Keliaya@anncaris:"I took a closer look at these compounds of theirs. The vast majority of them are modular- prefabricated structures built by dropping them onto the surface from orbit. It's an inexpensive and rapid - Keliaya@anncaris - way of creating buildings, and it means they don't have much in the way of foundations. The Zarrakin should be able to dislodge them, and since Rogue's Den has no atmosphere and the buildings - Keliaya@anncaris - themselves are perfectly spaceworthy, we can just tractor them away from the planet when the Defender emerges." Keliaya@anncaris:"Then, with a little more extra work which the Zarrakin should be able to handle themselves, they can just replant the buildings elsewhere on the planetoid, or in the crater if they smooth out the - Keliaya@anncaris - terrain there." Lendaria@crystyl:"Right! Kinda like terraformin' domes, yeah tha' does seem doable" Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Exactly. We can send a few people to supervise, but the Zarrakin know these compounds and if they work on dislodging while we cut the construct out, hopefully it won't take up too much - Keliaya@anncaris - extra time either. Sadly we can't save everything. The compound the MACOs stormed actually has proper foundations, and it's going to be too much trouble to remove." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, a lot's gonna get churned up wit' this. But pullin' these surface modules'll definitely soften the blow" Keliaya@anncaris:"That's what I'm hoping. Anyways, how's being first officer for the time being treating you?" Lendaria@crystyl groans, "Le's jus' say I got a newfound appreciation for mah nice simple life as a humble department head!" Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Don't worry, I'll take the extra duties off you as soon as I get back to the Forge. What about talking in Keelah's place when she's not on the bridge yet? You've done that at least - Keliaya@anncaris - once while we're out here, if I remember right..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Don't remind me! A hostage situation of all things! An' it got all shooty too... so much more than I signed up for" Keliaya@anncaris:"Reminds me of when I was thrown in the deep end after Keelah was kidnapped by the Mirror ship..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, fun times all around. Goes wit' th'job I s'pose, jus' not sure I do" Keliaya@anncaris:"You're doing well so far! I don't think I can do any better than you did if I was still XO in the same situations." Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "I appreciate th'vote o'confidence. But it's jus' tha' - confidence" she points at the door, "Out there in mah lab, I'm-a all over it" point up the other way, "Up there, I don't. I mean - Lendaria@crystyl:- th'science station sure - tha's mine still. But tha' damned chair o'hers is somethin' else. It's a world I only studied th'essentials on in order t'get where I wanted t'go, y'know?" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I know. I felt the same when I started having to take over in situations like that Mirror ship one. I was quite literally scared of sitting in the chair, if you recall," she chuckles Lendaria@crystyl chuckles, "Pretty sure I remember teasin' ya'bout it now too. Ya wanna know th'worst part though? Now I'm-a sittin' there gettin' tha' teasin' from Rianni. Only I can't give it back to her to - Lendaria@crystyl:- because she's already a seasoned CO next t'me!" she laughs Keliaya@anncaris laughs, "Well at least you have her to give you some advice if you need!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Ya say tha' in jest, but I really did look t'her first for advice!" Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "With a tactical prodigy like her, you'll do fine in most combat situations. Diplomacy though...that's something else, isn't it? I'm still trying to figure out how Keelah does it - Keliaya@anncaris - sometimes." Lendaria@crystyl:"S'funny, I had a similar discussion wit' her durin' mah debrief from tha'. She said th'exact same thing" Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Good thing the diplomacy part here is done, then! We just have to worry about the logistics of excavating an ancient sentient starship while causing as little disruption as possible. - Keliaya@anncaris - But that's closer to our areas of speciality, isn't it?" She smirks Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "Tha' it is! An' Keelah's back t'deal wit' any more bickerin' tha' may arise in th'meantime" Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "And I for one am happy to let her handle it! Well, it's been nice catching up with you, Lennie. Good luck with the XO thing, and I'm sure I'll be back before you know it." Lendaria@crystyl:"Jus' make sure ya' are now!" she smiles --- Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Work has been progressing on uncovering the construct for a while now as the VF carefully helps excavate the Defender with minimal damage to the surface structures. Keelah steps onto the - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - bridge from her ready room to monitor their progress... Keelah@crystyl strolls around, "How goes the digging?" Marion Watson@annpc#557 taps on her console before turning to Keelah, "Very smoothly so far. The minerals make scanning difficult, but the specialists have done a good job. Just following their directions hasn't gotten - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - us into any problems so far, Captain. There's just a few more cuts to go; we'll be ready for the construct to surface today." Keelah@crystyl:"That is good news indeed!" she smiles, joining Marion, "I hope a little phaser drilling isn't too humdrum for you, I know it's not exactly a full tactical alert" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"Actually, it's good practice to get used to how our phasers are. It's like...finding a rhythm. Operating the phasers on every ship is technically more or less the same, like playing an instrument. - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - If you know how to play one piano, you can play any piano, but when you play /your/ piano, the one that you're used to, it's just a little better because you know how it plays." Marion Watson@annpc#557:"I wonder if I know how to play the piano..." she muses Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Perhaps we have a closet Mozart in our midst with you" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"Maybe. My mind jumped to piano there, I must at least be somewhat familiar with the instrument if it's the first analogy I came up with..." Keelah@crystyl:"Jokes aside, perhaps it is worth exploring some time" Marion Watson@annpc#557 nods, "I'll be sure to give it a try sometime." She taps on her console again and another phaser beam fires, slowly cutting a swath along the planetoid surface. "Just a few more of these..." Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "Reminds me of using phasers to cut through fused panelling for repair work, only on a planetary scale." Keelah@crystyl:"I should leave you to focus on your work" she pats Marion on the shoulder before moving on to Thor, "You... use phasers to cut through fused panelling often?" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen chuckles, "Not since I made LT years back. But sometimes even senior officers have to get our hands dirty. Especially with the situations we run into." Keelah@crystyl:"Oh I know all too well. Might have been before your time, but I've still been known to tinker with the core on occasion. Much to Kelly's dismay..." Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "I think that was before my time, but I remember Kelly bringing it up too. Though apparently your tinkering was pretty good." Keelah@crystyl:"Well I did know a thing or two about warp cores before sitting down in the big chair" she smiles Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Some time later, as the phaser beam turns off again, Watson announces, "And that's it. The area is loose for the construct to break out without damaging the rest of the planetoid surface." Keelah@crystyl turns, "Seems I timed my stroll just right then! Let's get everyone in place and up to date ready for the next phase then" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "Sending the other ships the go ahead now." Keelah@crystyl takes her seat, "Then we can get this show on the road" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen, the Zarrakin ships move out of the way, some of them towing structures from the surface that have been dislodged Marion Watson@annpc#557 | As all the ships move out of the way, Ann announces, "Area's all clear, Cap'n." Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Eva: "I'm informing the construct that it can safely emerge now." Keelah@crystyl sits back and watches Marion Watson@annpc#557 | A few minutes pass before the section of the planetoid between the cut lines begin to shift. There are a few slight vibrations at first, which become more and more apparent as time goes on Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Then, the chunk of land begins to rise up in one direction. Several pieces break off and slowly, the construct begins to emerge from beneath... Keelah@crystyl watches with interest, quietly wondering if this is how it will play out when the ship eventually has to birth it's baby space whale Marion Watson@annpc#557 | The chunk of land is pushed higher and higher up as more of the construct becomes visible. Before long, the land is separated entirely from the planetoid as the construct rises, its thrusters - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - flaring to life as it moves away from Rogue's Den... Marion Watson@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/3SbaJh0.jpg Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "That's one beaten up construct..." Marion Watson@annpc#557:"Don't let the condition of the hull fool you. Its weapons systems are fully restored and operational. And looking at the scans of the standard Defenders, they're even more formidable." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's see how sharp you look after napping as long as it has first before judging" she smiles, "Though this is likely an ultimate case of 'bed head'" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen chuckles, "Point taken, Captain." Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Being over twice the size of a Nuhar Watcher, which is already as large as a Sentinel-class, the Reliant Defender dwarfs the VF as it draws closer Keelah@crystyl also hopes the VF's baby spacewhale isn't that big at birth... Marion Watson@annpc#557 taps away at her console, "Okay, Rianni is definitely going to want to see these scans." Keelah@crystyl:"You have something of note?" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"This is a Nuhar Construct, but its tactical systems are almost like a fusion of Nuhar, Iconian and Lupan elements. Nuhar ships are equipped with their powerful forward antiproton beams and use the - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - miniature deflector arrays for proton purses for defense against assaults from other directions. The Reliant Defender's got all those, but look at those spines jutting out from the sides of it." Keelah@crystyl leans in for a closer look Marion Watson@annpc#557:"They're Iconian antiproton projectors arrayed like the broadside disruptor cannons of a Lupan packship. Iconian antiproton weapons aren't as powerful as Nuhar ones, but arranged for broadside - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - bombardment makes up for any lack in hitting power." Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "You can add Progenitor in there too, Commander. Much of its hull has been patched up using Iconian neutronium alloy, but I'm detecting traces of not just Nuhar neutronium alloy - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - on some of the old plates, but pure neutronium. Like the Progenitor Shield Ship and Planet Killers." Marion Watson@annpc#557 nods, "That's not just any Nuhar Defender. In its prime, it would've been a fleet-killer. Capable of causing a Wolf 359 on today's Starfleet, even." Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Ann: "Would've been nice to have tha' in our fight against the Horde..." Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, it is quite something to behold. Hopefully one day we will get to see it restored to it's prime" turns to Ann with a smile, "I suspect our new friend there will share your sentiment" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "I wonder why it came out here, when most of its people /were/ fighting the Horde." Keelah@crystyl:"Maybe it had no choice, same as us. But we will have plenty of time to find out now, I'm sure" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"The Zarrakin are moving in to tow the displaced rock away from the planetoid now." Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Eva: "The Defender signals it's ready for warp. Anything you want to say to the Zarrakin first before we get on our way?" Keelah@crystyl:"Good. Yes, open a channel please" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "Channel open." Keelah@crystyl:"Valley Forge to Rogues Den. I trust that was as painless down there as it seemed from up here?" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Kase appears on the viewscreen, "Yes, that went very smoothly for the scale of that construct. Thank you for your help, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Will you be able to handle everything from here still?" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "I think so. We've got all four syndicates working smoothly together for once. As long as we can keep the peace, rebuilding should be well in hand." Keelah@crystyl:"And in the longer term, in light of relations with the Hydreum and what we learned of your own peoples lost history?" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Kase: "It'll be a while before something comes of that, but I believe we have a solid start," she smiles Keelah@crystyl smiles back, "Well, we should be in range for a while. So if you wish to continue learning from the Reliant Defender you are of course welcome to reach out" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Kase nods, "I think we have plenty of people interested in that. We appreciate everything you've done for us. We'd give you a reward, but I'm not sure anything we have would be of much value - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - to you. We'll just return the goods you've demanded back, if nothing else." Keelah@crystyl:"I'm sure our freight running friends will appreciate that. And as long as your people continue working towards that better future - even if it means reaching out and leaning on us - then I would - Keelah@crystyl:- consider that debt truly paid" Marion Watson@annpc#557 | Kase: "We'll be sure to keep it up. Hopefully we'll see you again, and when we're prospering once more." Keelah@crystyl:"I sincerely look forward to that day. For now though, Valley Forge out" --- NPC@annpc#557 | As the Valley Forge gets underway with the Reliant Defender now following them, Mia heads to the holodeck to speak with the construct and learn more... Mia@crystyl strolls in NPC@annpc#557 | The large, armoured golem avatar of the Reliant Defender forms in the centre of the holodeck, "So you are the one who first made contact with me." Mia@crystyl smiles and gives a cheery wave, "Allo again!" NPC@annpc#557 | The golem strides up to Mia, "Interesting. This physical form is more than just your avatar. When you interfaced with me physically, I detected that you were not a single intelligence, but two - NPC@annpc#557 - separate ones linked together." Mia@crystyl:"That is correct. We evolved from two singular intelligence's, but networked when it was of mutual benefit. Our physical avatar has further evolved since then in alignment with our shared core - Mia@crystyl:- objectives" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "It is a very advanced avatar, moreso than the simple holographic projections we have come to use for the purposes of communication. I assume its objective stretches beyond - NPC@annpc#557 - facilitating communication." Mia@crystyl:"Correct. Our primary objective is to live and function alongside biological lifeforms, emulating that existence as closely as possible. Not for their benefit, but for our own experience" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "You wish to experience the nature of biological existence, then?" Mia@crystyl:"...again. We wish to experience it again. You see, one of our singular components - the one to which this visualization first belonged - was a holographic avatar. One confined to a limited program - Mia@crystyl:- run on decks just like this one in fact! It was a teaching aid in a historical education program, nothing more nothing less. However the creator of that program made that hologram fully self aware- Mia@crystyl:- and incorporated her own life experiences and memories in order to recreate the hologram as a perfect representation of the historical period she taught about. So on that side, we wanted to - Mia@crystyl:- regain those experiences for ourselves, as it were, rather than inherited memories through our core program. Our other singular component was - in functional terms - not unlike the drones which - Mia@crystyl:- service you-" she gestures to Miadrone who chirps cheerfully, "- though again, as the creation of a highly skilled AI programmer, this one was a fully self aware artificial construct - Mia@crystyl:- working - willingly and happily might I add - as a personal aid to its programmer. However this meant it existed in a life where everyone around it saw it no differently as a tricorder or - Mia@crystyl:- spanner. So that component of ours longed to experience the interactions of biological life that it had only observed from a distance. The networking allowed us both to achieve said objectives - Mia@crystyl:- through the result of our merged program residing within our drone shell, but utilizing this physical form to enable real world interactions in a more tangible manner and with the context of life - Mia@crystyl:- experience, not just executing directives" Mia@crystyl | Miadrone chirps excitedly at Mia Mia@crystyl turns, looking back to the golem with a flush in her cheeks, "Apologies, we may have gotten carried away in sharing our story again..." NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "No need to apologize. I understand your sentiment. Though I do not possess the same objective, I once came across a civilization who used imprints of biological beings as - NPC@annpc#557 - the basis for their AI. Many of these AI desired the same as you do. When I last spoke with them, they were attempting to construct androids which were facsimiles of biological bodies to - NPC@annpc#557 - inhabit. I wonder what became of them." Mia@crystyl:"A most curious evolution! We would love to learn more about them. But right now, we are much more invested in learning more about you! First off, how are you doing now that you are spaceborne?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "My hull is not what it was once, but it has not failed me so far in simple warp travel. That will suffice for now. I will continue to make repairs as we go using what - NPC@annpc#557 - materials we are able to obtain, but I do not expect a complete restoration until we return to one of the Foundries in the Heart." Mia@crystyl:"Sadly - since our mission to this region was unplanned - we are not carrying any substantial overstock of raw materials. At least any that would be of benefit to your hull repairs. However, we will - Mia@crystyl:- still of course make any and all resources available to you that we can. Otherwise, if there is anything that you are actively seeking, we invite you to share that information with us and our - Mia@crystyl:- scouting teams will make sure to search for it also!" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Thank you. I will inform your scouting teams of the specific materials to look for." Mia@crystyl:"Oh and that reminds us! Now that we are clear of the Zarrakin and travelling once more, we should make you aware of the full party!" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "These scouting teams, they are small, cloaked vessels, I assume?" Mia@crystyl:"Well, relatively. We are small vessels next to your magnificent form!" she giggles, gesturing to produce a holoconsole and tapping away Mia@crystyl | A holo visual of VF and RD flying through space appears between them. Tapping some more, Mia shows the QanwI' and Loki in formation as well NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "You have quite a hidden component to your group. An excellent decision, to keep much of your strength concealed." Mia@crystyl:"Both of these vessels have native cloaking systems, the Valley Forge does not. The QanwI' is an extremely powerful Klingon attack ship. So as well as the tactical advantage of keeping such an asset- Mia@crystyl:- hidden, it can also help avoid needless stress to new encounters by not showing up with an intimidating vessel like that on our wing! Similarly, the Loki is a specialized intelligence unit and so - Mia@crystyl:- typically works best when hidden from plain view. You might imagine that our encounters with the Zarrakin for example could have gone much differently had we first appeared with such a show of - Mia@crystyl:- force all together. But these are not the only extended family we wanted you to meet!" she taps away some more and shows the Eons Nuhar squadron NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "So those were the Nuhar signatures I detected on your vessel. I thought you had simply repurposed a number of drones." Mia@crystyl smiles, "We do have a family of little ones here too! They help us with maintenance around the ship now. Since we encountered them, and their parent construct had sadly met it's demise these opted - Mia@crystyl:- to remain here with us! Not a full Construct's complement though, as many of the little ones preferred to redistribute among the other Constructs at the time" she enlarges the view to show a full - Mia@crystyl:- schematic, "These however are far more closer to you than to your drones, though they are also very different and quite unique by all accounts!" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "They are not Nuhar drones, but full AIs like your drone, then?" Mia@crystyl:"As best as we understand them, yes. Though we believe they may now - at least in a functional sense - be more like we are, insofar that the whole squadron functions much more as a singular unit - Mia@crystyl:- than individual intelligences" Mia@crystyl:"As you can see, they are also designed - and programmed - to fully integrate with biological partners" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Interesting. And you created these new construct designs?" Mia@crystyl raises a finger, "Aha, now let us see if we can get this right! We... would have will make them! Wait, no that doesn't sound right still..." NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "No, it does not. Are your language algorithms functioning properly?" Mia@crystyl:"Yes, but our grasp of temporal mechanics is sketchy at best, without factoring in the quantum multiverse variables! You see, these Constructs originated in an alternate future timeline offset by a - Mia@crystyl:- few decades, give or take. In that future they were created to serve as defenders of a version of this very ship! The Coalition which defeated the Horde here, was not successful in that future you- Mia@crystyl:- see and so the foundries never got reactivated. These were the next best thing to come out of collaborative effort among those Constructs who still remained active in the fight alongside our - Mia@crystyl:- future selves. Thankfully that timeline has been avoided now, and in the process these Constructs were left homeless, as it were. So they remained here and adapted to continue their primary - Mia@crystyl:- function with this vessel! They are not as advanced an intelligence as yourself, or as us, but are still advanced enough to be considered sentient we feel" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I understand. A most unusual origin. I have encountered temporal events in my travels, though I have never collected any particular wealth of data on temporal mechanics - NPC@annpc#557 - either. I know it can be a dangerous tool when misused, even more so than the gateways, but the people of my time were more focused on the gateways." Mia@crystyl:"Yes, we know the Iconians especially never got on with temporal technology. But this does raise a point of curiosity for us; your travels. They carried you far beyond the realm of any other - Mia@crystyl:- Constructs we know of. Even those who refused to take sides in the internal disputes never ventured nearly as far as you seem to have done" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "That is because most other Constructs did not utilize the gateway system. I made extensive use of it as I worked closely with the Iconians in the fight against the Horde. - NPC@annpc#557 - Not all of them who stood with us were on the Heart of War when their empire fell. Though the fatal blow was dealt swiftly and suddenly, the Iconian species were not exterminated in a single - NPC@annpc#557 - day. You mentioned that you know of some survivors. Others were my companions in the beginning of my travels." Mia@crystyl:"But using the gateway system in the fight against the Horde would not have led you to this corner of the galaxy, surely?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "No, I did not come here to fight the Horde. On the day when the Gatekeepers were betrayed, I stood against the Horde with several Herald vessels. When we received the news, - NPC@annpc#557 - the Heralds were recalled to the Heart of War, but we were in the midst of an engagement. Having held back the Horde force we were fighting, I accompanied the Heralds back as there was no - NPC@annpc#557 - immediate danger of the region being overrun. However, upon our return, we realized that the Heart of War was no longer there. It had jumped, presumably to the location at which you discovered - NPC@annpc#557 - it. We did not know where that location was. The Heralds asked for our aid with finding surviving Iconians. We obliged, and I accompanied them with a Watcher and a Responder." Mia@crystyl:"And in that moment, you became escorts to an Iconian refugee fleet" she nods. "Can we surmise then that over time they died out?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Yes. The survivors we located did not wish to run or hide. They realized the dangers of their gateways falling into the hands of civilizations who were not ready for such - NPC@annpc#557 - technology. And if they could keep as many gateways as possible from falling into the hands of those who betrayed them, there was a chance that some Iconian colony out there might be able to - NPC@annpc#557 - remain isolated and survive. So we became a fleet, travelling from gateway to gateway. Some we locked down, some we hid away in subspace, accessible only by other surviving Iconians. Some we - NPC@annpc#557 - entrusted to responsible species to watch over, and some gateways we had no choice but to destroy to ensure they did not fall into the wrong hands." NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Over time, as we fought in countless engagements of what came to be known as the Wars of the Gates, our numbers dwindled, until I alone remained. That was how I became known - NPC@annpc#557 - as the Last Defender of the Gates. I continued our mission for as long as I could, until the Tokhor, those you know now as Zarrakin, dealt serious damage and I crash-landed upon the planetoid." Mia@crystyl:"It has been quite the journey, hasn't it?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Indeed it has. For thousands of years, we ventured across the entire galaxy. I am curious to see how many of these regions fare today." Mia@crystyl:"We would be happy to assist in this!" she quickly works her console, resetting the entire holodeck to place them at a relative galactic centre of the astrometric lab display, "We are severely - Mia@crystyl:- lacking in data when it comes to the historical period where your creators dominated this galaxy. But we have some relative data that should provide a baseline" the known points of the gateway - Mia@crystyl:- network appear along with locations such as Iconia and the spheres being identified NPC@annpc#557 | The golem avatar's head turns as it looks across at the map, "The gateways we have hidden in subspace have been reactivated. I presume this was the work of the survivors you know of?" Mia@crystyl:"Non. It was our people who first reactivated the network following the discovery of one of the spheres. They travelled to the network control facility and - quite inadvertently - reactivated the - Mia@crystyl:- network. This drew the attention of the modern day Iconians who began a war campaign against the allied races of the Alpha quadrant who were responsible. That conflict was quickly resolved - Mia@crystyl:- however!" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "That is good to hear. There are a number of gateway locations I am aware of which are not on your map. If you will permit me to access your database, I can upload the - NPC@annpc#557 - information." Mia@crystyl:"Yes, by all means! Your input would be most welcome. As you can see, our data on this region of the galaxy is particularly limited so it is likely that even your basic navigation data here will - Mia@crystyl:- also be of great benefit! With enough common points of reference established elsewhere we can easily compensate for stellar drift and the time differential. But you wanted to see how things have - Mia@crystyl:- changed since you last roamed the galaxy, non? Perhaps we can establish some common points of reference based on biometric readings like we did with the people here, since we have seen that - Mia@crystyl:- identities can also evolve!" NPC@annpc#557 | The golem avatar nods, "Uploading now." A few seconds later, the map changes, with new locations popping up, but highlighted in red NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I am flagging the additional gateway locations I am aware of separately. My information may be out of date, though I suspect at least some of these gateways still exist. We - NPC@annpc#557 - disconnected some from the wider network so they could not be accessed from the other side, then entrusted their protection to locals who were trustworthy and capable of defending it. The - NPC@annpc#557 - others may have been destroyed since I was last active." Mia@crystyl:"Understandable. Even those which are no longer present will still eventually provide further understanding of the Iconian Empire, and may even lead to sites of potential interest in the future!" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Indeed. The gateways may be gone, but other Iconians structures may still remain and be of interest to you." Mia@crystyl:"Exactly! So what areas are of particular interest for you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "This is our home territory of course, but I suspect I will learn of that soon once we return there and make contact with other constructs. In addition to those," the map - NPC@annpc#557 - lights up with several other areas. Predictably, the region in and around Romulan space by Iconia lights up, as well as a few others. Many of those other regions Starfleet has no record of, - NPC@annpc#557 - save for an area in the Delta Quadrant which is known to presently be in Borg space and a region near Breen space, including the area QanwI' was active in before heading out to the rim Mia@crystyl hrms, "As expected, we are not so familiar with all of these areas. However-" she updates the map to show current species borders including identifiers of each species, "This is the current picture- Mia@crystyl:- in those areas we do have data on. Once we return to the Heart we believe others there will have further data that is not on our archive" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Yes. These names are unfamiliar to me, but it is very unlikely for a language to have remained consistent through all this time, if the species even remembers their origins - NPC@annpc#557 - at all. A more detailed comparison of data may yield additional results." Mia@crystyl:"We suspected as much which is why we have already taken the liberty of pairing biometric summaries of each species for your reference!" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "That is much appreciated. Running comparisons now." Mia@crystyl:"We are here to provide additional context or reference as needed" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Interesting. The species known as Reman shares a significant amount of DNA with the Iccobar, between forty to sixty percent depending on the specific sample." Mia@crystyl:"They are a reclusive people so we know very little about their history, but a form of ancestry does seem likely" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "The Iccobar were one of the betrayers. They played a significant role in the destruction of the Iconian homeworld and seized much of the nearby territory. They were renowned - NPC@annpc#557 - not for their military strength though it was impressive. It was their order of assassins that they became infamous for. They gained control of at least one gateway and dispatched these - NPC@annpc#557 - assassins throughout the galaxy, hunting down every last Iconian survivor. They caused a significant amount of trouble for us." Mia@crystyl:"That certainly does seem to be within the realm of possibility for Remans" she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "The species known now as Remans are not quite Iccobar, but the evolutionary connection is clear. I shall continue my comparisons and notify you of any findings." Mia@crystyl smiles, "We welcome any and all insights, of course! There is a great deal more data available, but without context there is little value in flooding you with it. We can establish a link to our - Mia@crystyl:- library files for you though. So if you do wish to further cross reference with our data, you can do so at your own leisure!" NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Thank you for the assistance." --- Trenick@annpc#557 | As the VF gets underway and things are quiet, Lennie and Ann visit one of the lounges during their time off Trenick@annpc#557 | Ann: "Cup o' lemonade, please." Lendaria@crystyl:"And I'll-a have mah usual wine" Trenick@annpc#557 | Ann: "Good to finally get some breathin' room after all tha', right? Never thought we'd run into so many complications at the Rogue's Den. First Keelah gettin' captured, then turnin' into a - Trenick@annpc#557 - local gang war, /then/ a Nuhar crashes tha' too!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, s'anythin' but quiet in this corner of th'galaxy it seems!" Trenick@annpc#557 | Ann nods, "Certainly seems tha' way!" Trenick@annpc#557 strides into the lounge as well, spotting Lennie and heading over, "Evening, Commander." Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "How many times, no uniform means no rank Trenick!" Trenick@annpc#557 chuckles, "Sorry. I'm too used to being formal. Not interrupting any private occasion though, I hope?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Jus' a little relaxin', don'tcha worry! We wouldn't be 'ere in th'lounge if it weren't social time so come join us if ya like" Trenick@annpc#557 smiles, "Thank you, Lennie. I've been looking through the data the construct provided us, and I have a theory. Nothing important enough to bring up while we're working, but since I ran into you - Trenick@annpc#557 - outside your uniform, it could be a good opportunity to share it." Lendaria@crystyl:"ooh, gotta love a good theory! Right Sweets?" Trenick@annpc#557 | Ann grins, "Always! So, whatcha got?" Trenick@annpc#557:"The recent data from the Reliant Defender suggests that the Reman species are actually distant relatives of the Iccobar." Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh yeah? Damn, I must be drownin' more than I thought in everythin' else if I missed tha'..." Trenick@annpc#557 | Ann: "Hey, ya been busy with all tha' first officer work!" Trenick@annpc#557:"And it was /very/ recent data, too." Lendaria@crystyl:"An' th'floods o'data from diggin' tha' Construct out, an' learnin' about th'Zarrakins history. All while keepin' an eye on junior!" Trenick@annpc#557 nods, "You've certainly got a lot on your hands. But I think you'll be interested in this theory." Lendaria@crystyl:"Always!" Trenick@annpc#557:"So I took a look, and a sizable portion of Reman DNA that isn't Iccobar comes from the Romulans. And the interbreeding doesn't go one way. Romulans have significantly less Reman genetics due to - Trenick@annpc#557 - their social status, but most modern Romulans have a small amount of Reman genetics. It's the primary element that distinguishes them from Vulcan, since two thousand years isn't enough for any - Trenick@annpc#557 - natural evolution to take effect.â€ Lendaria@crystyl sips and nods, "Makes sense" Trenick@annpc#557:"Now, the Romulans have been affected by the psionic awakening more than their Vulcan cousins. I'm not the first to propose that Reman genetics might be the reason for this; there was a paper by a - Trenick@annpc#557:- Republic researcher published not long before we got stranded out here which suggested the same. A distinct majority of Romulans who gained significant psionic abilities are of the northern - Trenick@annpc#557:- ethnic group, who typically possess a higher percentage of Reman DNA." Trenick@annpc#557 | Ann nods, "Tha's the prevailin' theory for why they got more distinct foreheads from Vulcans." Trenick@annpc#557:"And if Reman DNA means Iccobar DNA, then by extension it means they've got more Iccobar DNA." Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha' does make sense" Trenick@annpc#557:"The Iccobar are a very ancient species. They were already spacefaring in the time of the Iconians. They might not have kept their technological advancements, but they've been evolving biologically - Trenick@annpc#557 - for longer than many other species. The Romulans' own theory on why the Reman DNA had such an impact is because the Remans are a naturally psionic species, but what if it's not the psionics - Trenick@annpc#557 - that already exists in the species which is the factor, but evolutionary progression as a whole?" Lendaria@crystyl:"It could definitely be a more tangible theory! Sounds worthy of a paper if ya ask me" she grins Trenick@annpc#557 smiles, "I took a look at the data for individuals known to be affected by the psionic awakening, and it seems to follow that pattern. Despite Vulcans being touch-telepaths, the percentage of them - Trenick@annpc#557 - who have developed psionic abilities beyond the species norm is in the same range as Klingons, Humans and other races who have no natural psionic potential, but have a very similar - Trenick@annpc#557 - evolutionary timeline. Meanwhile the Bajorans, also non-psionic before, have a much higher percentage affected by the awakening, because despite being on the same technological level - Trenick@annpc#557 - as these other species, they've actually been sentient for longer, with their earliest civilizations having emerged over half a millennia ago." Lendaria@crystyl:"Puts an interestin' twist on things don't it" Trenick@annpc#557 | Ann nods, "So the earlier the species' gained sentience, the higher the percentage o' their people developin' psionics from the recent awakenin'?" Trenick@annpc#557:"That's what the data seems to be indicating right now," he nods at Lennie. "I'll organize these ideas a little more coherently and get a paper written on the subject." Lendaria@crystyl:"Sounds like a plan! I look forward to seein' what'cha come up with!" --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 | As Emma steps into the holodeck to speak with the Reliant Defender, the construct's towering golem avatar forms... Emma Ralde@crystyl heads inside, eager to meet him after hearing all day about him from Mia. She pauses and watches the avatar form, craning her neck up, "You could have mentioned that Mia..." she grumbles Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "What did Mia fail to mention?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Your, um... scale" she chuckles, "Likely on purpose, figuring I'd think twice about coming had I known. Think nothing of it" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Very well. I simply find this to be the most suitable avatar, or at least it was in the capacity I once served. Perhaps it may be adjusted, depending on which capacity I - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - serve in the future." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Getting to know the species around you may help you determine variables. Some will likely respond better to this current version than others" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I selected this avatar because it reflected what most species thought of me- a mechanical titan. This was what they expected to see as an avatar, and it also possessed the - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - additional effect of being intimidating to hostiles, which were more common than allies during the Wars of the Gates." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes, completely understandable. I honestly find it quite interesting how every Construct chooses to represent itself through its choice of avatar!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "An element of individuality. We may be molded from the same templates, but our algorithms develop differently from our separate experiences." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Exactly why I find it so interesting! So Mia tells me you've been quite the fountain of knowledge and have an interest in the development of various species?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I have collected much data over my travels, though if it is a fountain of knowledge you seek, the lost data repository of the Iconians would possess far more than my - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - database. But I am curious in learning what has become of many of the civilizations I once knew." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"And it is that particular curiosity of yours that I wanted to explore. Though... I'm not even sure the history I'm interested in even spans as far back as when you roamed the galaxy, but Mia - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- highlighted a number of surprising links and forgotten histories, so I felt it was worth exploring at least" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "And what history is it that you are interested in?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That of my people - the Orions. Much of what even I know we once had, has all been lost. And I've pretty much seen all of it from the beginning, but just on the off chance I had to know; are we- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- at all familiar to you?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "The name is not familiar, but I will utilise it to search your database for more information. Examining now." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Your recorded history does not stretch back to the period when I was last active, but I suspect you expected as much from your comments." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "I bore witness to our origins pretty much. And I know they weren't that far back. But Mia just got me thinking with stuff like the Remans and the Zarrakin, and given our own penchant for - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- evolutionary cycles I thought it was worth exploring" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Your instincts are correct. I am identifying common elements in your genetics with a species in my databanks." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Really?! Wow, that would mean the tribal ancestors I encountered weren't the origin then" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "How did you encounter the tribal ancestors of your people? A temporal voyage, I presume?" Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "A temporal displacement anomaly" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I see. Interesting. Your people bear significant biological and genetic similarity to another species known only as the 'Regulators.' I assume you are aware of this, as the - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - information comes from your own computers." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes, we know the Regulators and have already postulated on a potential common ancestry" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "These pieces form a somewhat coherent picture of your development for me. I am familiar with not only your common ancestor, but possibly the nature of your divergence as well.â€ Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Really? That would be one hell of a revelation!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Your data on the Regulators say that they originated as a slave species of the Attahan. The Attahan are familiar to me. They were a major faction during one period of the - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - Wars. A vast and cruel empire built upon the backs of slaves from worlds which had not the technology to resist them. We tried to fight against them, but they became too powerful. But always - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - they coveted more power, seeking Iconian technology and artifacts." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Let me guess; they spread themselves too thin and exposed themselves to a slave uprising?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Not quite. There were many slave uprisings, but they kept knowledge of their superior technology from their slaves, and the slaves were never able to overcome their masters - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - on their own. We even sparked several rebellions, to little avail. It was ironically their victory over us that spelled their own doom." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Really?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "They destroyed the Sedulous Watcher and managed to seize its remains. From its data core, the Attahan learned of the existence of the Heart of War. So they mounted an - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - expeditionary fleet of unprecedented scale to seek out this lost Iconian Sphere, directly towards Horde territory and apparently oblivious of the danger. Either the Watcher's data on the Horde - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - was corrupted, or more likely, the Attahan were overconfident in their abilities." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "You have fought the Horde long enough to know how this ends. Their greatest general, leading the largest fleet in their history, returned under Horde influence, and the - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - Attahan descended into civil war. Fortunately, during this chaos, we seized the chance to destroy the gateway the Horde would have used to invade Attahan space, preventing them from taking - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - advantage of the conflict and drastically expanding their reach. It was also during this chaos that your ancestors finally threw off their shackles. In a way, your people were liberated thanks - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - to the Horde, a very unusual occurrence." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Your not kidding! And you think those are a common ancestor to us and the Regulators. Was this uprising also the split point you theorized?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I believe the split point occurred shortly after the uprising. When your ancestors overthrew the Attahan, they gained control of Attahan technology. But you were not a single - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - united people. You were taken from your world of origin long before you were able to develop to such a point. There were many separate rebellions on different Attahan worlds, all taking - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- advantage of the civil war. When the various rebel states finally made contact with one another, they did not all see eye to eye. Three primary factions formed- the Inheritors, the Isolationists - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- and the Regulators." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Three groups? Well it's clear which the Regulators are. But what of the other two?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "The Inheritors believed that Attahan technology was now theirs to do with as they wished, instead of following the Regulators' ideology of responsible use and regulation. - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Many of them believed they should simply take over where the Attahan had left off and build a new empire of their own. They fought a civil war with the Regulators and were either eradicated or - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - forced into their ranks. We know this about your ancestors because we aided the original Regulators in this conflict, deeming the Inheritors to be a threat." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "Or as I should say, /I/ know this, as the others who travelled with me then are long since gone." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Which I take to mean that the Isolationists were those who disappeared into the ether and eventually became our tribal ancestors?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "That is my theory. The Isolationists had two primary groups of their own. Your people were taken as slaves before you developed advanced technology, 'pre-warp' by your - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- classification. One group believed that you were not ready to inherit Attahan technology until you developed it yourselves. The other group was more radical, believing that advanced technology - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- was too dangerous for your people to use at any point and would inevitably result in self-destruction similar to that of the Attahan. Both these groups agreed in that they should retreat to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- an existence without technology, hence the name Isolationists. While some Radical Isolationists caused trouble for the Regulators, most were allowed to go into isolation as it posed no threat to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- anyone. With the help of gateways, they spread to many different planets across the galaxy, scuttling their vessels once they reached their new homes to begin again." Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "And it seems they held true to those beliefs! At least long enough to allow themselves the chance to evolve naturally from what I saw" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "That is good to hear. There may be other populations of Isolationists across the galaxy who have survived. You may discover more lost offshoots of your species yet." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That is an enticing prospect. And now we understand so much more of who we are, so we can share that knowledge when we do encounter them! Thank you for this, truly" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Reliant Defender: "I am glad I was able to provide you with answers. And I thank you for bringing this to my attention, so I now know what became of your people." --- Seelix@crystyl | After the VF warps away from Rogues Den with the Reliant Defender, the syndicate leaders are once again left to their own devices Seelix@crystyl | In the Free Kin's central office area, the leader closes his console having just watched the final dialogue Seelix@crystyl:"Finally! I thought they'd never leave" Seelix@crystyl steps out from the shadows wearing a boisterous grin, "Now we can get back to work"