When Mischa finally returns to the Latenter after it is repaired and refitted, she finds her ship's new systems put to the test as the Latenter's improvements make it the only vessel capable of responding to an urgent situation...
Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Over three weeks after the battle above Agrama, Mischa is off-duty on the Justicar when the ship suddenly goes to yellow alert Mischa@crystyl starts making her way to the bridge, tapping her combadge, "Bridge, status" Sierra Reyes@anncaris replies through her combadge, "Imperial patrols have picked up a ship inbound, transwarp speed. Too far to get a good reading, but they're pretty sure it's not Borg. Can only mean one thing." Mischa@crystyl:"So it would seem. I'm on my way" Mischa@crystyl arrives on the bridge a short time later, "How far out are we?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | When Mischa arrives at the bridge, activity is high as expected, with everyone at their stations deep in their work Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"It'll be at Agrama in..." she glances to Tris behind her Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Tris: "Three minutes. Or not. It's slowing down." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | On the viewscreen, the Imperial fleet can be seen forming a defensive perimeter Mischa@crystyl takes a nearby console and sets herself up to conduct her own analysis as things unfold Sierra Reyes@anncaris | As Mischa constructs her analysis, she realizes that the size of the ship, from what can be discerned at this distance, is very familiar. Before she has a chance to verify anything though... Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Monika: "The incoming vessel is hailing us, Commander." Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Us specifically, or a general hail towards Agrama?" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Monika: "Us specifically." Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"Let's hear it then." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | And Mischa's suspicions are confirmed, as the all-too familiar bridge of the Latenter appears on the viewscreen with Victoria in the command chair Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Victoria: "Did we startle you? Sorry about that, thought we'd give the new propulsion systems a test on the way here." Mischa@crystyl smiles as she takes in the sight Sierra Reyes@anncaris:"You could've warned us..." Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Victoria gives a wry smirk, "Just keeping you on your toes. They treating you alright, Mischa?" Mischa@crystyl:"Like royalty, naturally. It is good to see you finally joining us out here. Though I must admit, I did not expect to see you arriving by this method" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Victoria: "A little surprise Daurant had. We didn't recover enough transwarp coils from the temporal ships, but Root and the Shadow Guard determined how to make the Borg coils they had - Sierra Reyes@anncaris - compatible. We can't reach speeds like the temporal ships, but even if we had a full set of their coils, we wouldn't have the power for it anyways." Mischa@crystyl:"Well then, I look forward to seeing what other surprises this refit has in store" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Victoria smiles, "We're ready to beam you and Ori back as soon as we arrive." Mischa@crystyl:"Perfect. We'll see you soon then" Sierra Reyes@anncaris | Victoria: "See you back on board, Commander." Sierra Reyes@anncaris looks to Mischa as the comm ends, "Well you've certainly got quite the upgrade," she grins Mischa@crystyl looks back, "So it would seem." --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/hRXlm2P.jpeg NPC@annpc#557 | The camera slowly pans across the Latenter, now repaired and looking brand new, zooming onto the bridge. Some changes have been made, though itâ€™s still recognizable as the same bridge. NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria stands as Mischa walks onto the bridge, "Welcome back, Commander." Mischa@crystyl strides over with a smile, "It is good to be back" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria smiles back, gesturing to the chair, "She's all yours." Mischa@crystyl sits, taking her time to enjoy being back, "So, what else do I have to get used to now besides transwarp?" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Well, first thing is, we can achieve transwarp, but we can't be at cloak while powering the coils. It takes too much power." Mischa@crystyl:"Makes sense. What about the coils, how limited are we in terms of total use?" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "Since we're using multiple coils, as long as we use them in sync and be careful about not burning them out, we won't need to keep replacing the coils. Right now we don't have to - NPC@annpc#557 - worry about burnout under normal operation because we'll run out of power before we reach the levels required to burn out the coils. What could cause our coils to burn out is if we try to use - NPC@annpc#557 - them still while one of them is non-functional for any reason. We can transwarp as long as we have a single coil, but it won't be able to bear the load and we'll lose it after a while. And - NPC@annpc#557 - components like this will be /very/ difficult to come by again." Mischa@crystyl:"As I thought. We'll do our best to use them properly and avoid putting ourselves in such a position" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "We also don't have the power levels to push the coils past the transwarp 13 barrier. Right now our official maximum speed per Starfleet safety guidelines is transwarp 12.1 since - NPC@annpc#557 - that's what we can sustain for 8 hours without putting too much strain on the core. We can technically hit 12.9 but only for very short bursts." NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "I wouldn't recommend going past 12.4 in any except the most dire circumstances." Mischa@crystyl:"Understood. So what else is new?" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Well since I mentioned cloaking earlier, the Shadow Guard gave us one of their cloaks. It's Romulan-Reman technology, effectively immune to anti-stealth sweeps from any modern ship, - NPC@annpc#557 - but still vulnerable to full stealth detection nets like those of planetary defense systems of course." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "It is the same cloak utilized by the Justicar, so you should be familiar with its capabilities." Mischa@crystyl:"A nice little upgrade over our previous system" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "We have implemented a single salvaged antiproton array from the temporal ship into the fore of our vessel. It will effectively function like a Nuhar primary beam, only more power - NPC@annpc#557 - efficient so minimal modification to our other tactical systems was necessary to accommodate it." Mischa@crystyl:"That should put a smile on Ori's face" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "We have also been given three of the recovered chroniton torpedoes. We are currently carrying six, but three are meant for the Justicar." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, let's make sure they get transported over before it slips my mind" she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "These aren't the chroniton torpedoes of my people, which can pass through regular shielding but pack a yield similar to a photon torpedo. They have double the yield of a transphasic - NPC@annpc#557 - torpedo. A direct hit with one is enough to cripple just about any modern ship, including an Odyssey-class." Mischa@crystyl:"We'll make sure Ori knows to make them count" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, "I would suggest saving them for future confrontations with the temporal vessels. Using them on anything less would be, as your people put it, 'overkill.'" Mischa@crystyl chuckles, "Aptly put" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "And speaking of chroniton torpedoes, we've fully integrated temporal shielding into our shield systems. Whenever we raise shields, we will have temporal shielding active and be - NPC@annpc#557 - immune from the shield bypassing effects of chroniton torpedoes for as long as the shields last." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "It will also protect us from any temporal manipulation which alters the state of the timeline around us." NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "If we can foresee it in time to raise shields. I'm still working on that." Mischa@crystyl:"Well, it's about time we had such a defense" she grins, far too satisfied with her own pun NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria chuckles, "We've also fully integrated the Borg modifications which allows us to evade tractor beam locks. We're effectively immune to regular tractor beams unless we want to be - NPC@annpc#557 - towed, and we can keep Borg tractors or ones based on Borg technology like the temporal ships' drain at bay for a good while." Mischa@crystyl:"All this focus on tactical systems! I trust that is because our sensor and analytical systems are so good that there was no room for improvement!" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant smiles, "Well the Shadow Guard was quite impressed with it. As we've seen, they run ships with similar sensor pellets, so we were in good hands for restoring our hull. There have been - NPC@annpc#557 - some improvements for the pellets but we determined it wasn't beneficial to add any additional pellets. The designers chose 56 arrays for a good reason, any further addition gives diminishing - NPC@annpc#557 - returns. But there's still an improvement overall in sensor imaging, mostly from the quality of the new arrays and some calibration work with the help of the Remans." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "I am noticing some improvement so far." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Glad to hear it" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "I've also had the thrusters and impulse engines improved slightly while we were undergoing repairs. Nothing drastic since there was no salvage from the future ship that could boost - NPC@annpc#557 - our maneuverability like our warp speeds, but we're still going to be a little more agile than we were before." NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "Every bit helps!" Mischa@crystyl:"This old girl was never exactly built for combat maneuvers, so yes definitely" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "It will assist us in utilizing the new antiproton array, which is solely forward-facing not unlike a Nuhar construct's rather than being the standard phaser arrays as seen on the - NPC@annpc#557 - temporal vessels. Fortunately, it does function as a conventional array and has a wider firing arc than the Nuhar, but additional maneuverability is still beneficial as it cannot hit enemies - NPC@annpc#557 - too far to the side or behind us." Mischa@crystyl:"All in all quite the overhaul. Good work all around" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Thank you, Commander." --- NPC@annpc#557 | Shortly after returning to the Latenter, Mischa is in her ready room when the doorbell rings Mischa@crystyl:"Come" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel steps in, "Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"T'Fel. To what do I owe the pleasure?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "I have been determining how best to make use of our considerable tactical upgrades and have arrived at some conclusions you may be interested in." Mischa@crystyl gestures to the seat opposite, "Always! What have you got?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel takes a seat, "The Latenter was not designed for prolonged combat engagement, and while our new temporal antiproton array boosts our offensive capability significantly, our defenses - NPC@annpc#557 - remain largely unaltered save for the improvements made to specifically counter the temporal vessels. Prolonged combat is still not ideal." Mischa@crystyl:"Even if we had turned the Latenter into a full on battlecruiser, our crew is not of that ilk. so combat of any kind is still very much a last resort" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, "Agreed. However, if we do find a confrontation unavoidable, I have determined the tactics to best employ our new upgrades." Mischa@crystyl:"So what have you come up with?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "The Borg modification makes us impossible to immobilize using a tractor beam, our mobility has been enhanced, and the transwarp coils allow us to travel faster than the vast majority - NPC@annpc#557 - of other vessels. Speed is, without a doubt, our greatest advantage. Our cloak has also been enhanced, presenting us with another method of exiting a combat situation. In short, Commander, - NPC@annpc#557 - under most circumstances, we should be capable of simply running from a fight." Mischa@crystyl:"Exercising the better part of valour" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "However, in the situations where it may be necessary to take a stand in order to protect some interest we may possess, I do not believe it is wise to engage in standard ship-to-ship - NPC@annpc#557 - combat. We should also take advantage of this capability to swiftly exit combat. To that end, I suggest employing Klingon raiding tactics." Mischa@crystyl:"Interesting" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Instead of engaging an enemy until the conclusion of combat, it would be preferable to engage, deal maximum possible damage, immediately disengage, and then strike once again, - NPC@annpc#557 - preferably choosing a moment of opportunity. This process may then repeat until the enemy or enemies are neutralized." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "As for how to disengage, cloaking would be the simplest method. If the enemy is laying down heavy fire which makes cloaking too risky, we can escape at warp or transwarp, recloak, and - NPC@annpc#557:- re-engage. The antiproton beam, with some support from our phasers if necessary, should be able to quickly strip the shields of most enemies and allow us to damage their hulls and subsystems in - NPC@annpc#557:- each strike, so even if they fully restore their shields while we disengage, we should be able to whittle them down with cumulative damage over multiple strikes. We are effectively functioning as - NPC@annpc#557 - an entire bird-of-prey squadron concentrated within a single cruiser." Mischa@crystyl:"That is a cunning approach indeed" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Simulations have shown that it will be efficient against both groups of enemy vessels as well as single, powerful starships that would normally outclass the Latenter." Mischa@crystyl:"I can believe it. We should start forming training exercises along these lines to get all of the tactical and helm teams in sync for it" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Precisely what I was about to suggest. There are also Romulan and Klingon forces here, both militaries who are quite adept at such tactics. It would be beneficial to arrange for some joint - NPC@annpc#557 - exercises." Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed. And if I recall, Ori has a particular affinity for Romulan combat tactics. It should be a good opportunity for her to hone her knowledge into practical application as well" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, "Excellent suggestion. I shall make the arrangements immediately." --- NPR@annpc#557 | On one of the lower decks of the Latenter, Ori familiarizes herself with the new tactical upgrades NPR@annpc#557 | As she works away, the door slides open and a Romulan wearing an Imperial Command uniform steps in NPR@annpc#557 | Romulan: "Are you the one they call Orianni?" Rianni@crystyl looks up from her console, then around the room now realizing she's working alone, then to the Romulan, "I am. May I help?" NPR@annpc#557 | Romulan: "Quite the contrary, actually. I'm Commander S'Takkon i-Keladan tr'Mhalav of the Tarai. The Admiral asked me to work with you to implement better stealth tactics to take advantage of - NPR@annpc#557 - your new upgrades." Rianni@crystyl:"How thoughtful of her. I welcome your insights, though I am already full versed in Romulan combat tactics" she points out a scraggly old book on the console 'Romulan Imperial War College manual' - Rianni@crystyl:- which is clearly a pre-Hobus item that has seen better days NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon steps up to examine the book and smiles, "A classic. A good foundation to start, but you'll need more than manuals to know how best to make use of your systems in a live combat - NPR@annpc#557 - scenario. Not to mention that we're faced with enemies today that the writers of those texts never imagined." Rianni@crystyl:"A fair point. I have worked with cloaking vessels before, but nothing quite like this. I served briefly under a former Imperial Commander - turned Starfleet Captain - back in my training days, and - Rianni@crystyl:- he was big on utilizing your techniques on his command" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "You have some experience with our tactics then, but little with cloaking vessels. I presume you know the basics of working with cloaks from your readings, then?" he gestures at the - NPR@annpc#557 - book Rianni@crystyl nods, "I understand the basic tactics and the 'hit & run' nature of them. What I lack is a comprehension of the nuances that comes from experience" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon nods, "Then your Commander was wise to ask for our assistance. Tell me- what are the greatest dangers to employing a cloak in the midst of battle?" Rianni@crystyl:"I think... the period of vulnerability after dropping shields and before dropping sensor contact?" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "That is the greatest danger, yes. But you are not safe even after you have disappeared from the enemy's sensors. Remember, your shields are still dropped, and a cloaking device only - NPR@annpc#557 - shields you from view, not from harm. You may still be hit, whether by the blind fire of a raging Klingon, the telepathic tracing of a psionic foe or the predictions of a particularly cunning - NPR@annpc#557 - opponent. Fortunately with those new implants we will not have to worry about the second, but the others are always potential risks." Rianni@crystyl nods, "Of course" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "The key to utilizing cloaks in combat is knowing your opponent, and knowing how to outsmart them. The cloak is only one tool at your disposal. Sometimes, when it is a tool you - NPR@annpc#557:- possess and your enemy does not, it could turn the tide of a battle. But in the end, it is only one tool and it must be used well. Let me pose a hypothetical- you are ambushing a Klingon - NPR@annpc#557 - battlecruiser. You cannot destroy the cruiser in one attack, but you can deal some damage. What do you target, and how do you break off before your second attack?" Rianni@crystyl:"I attack their flank and take out their engines on the first run. Coming in from behind, they have limited rear weapons and with engines disabled they can't turn fast enough to bear on us before we- Rianni@crystyl:- exit" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon smiles, "An excellent answer. Now, the same scenario, but with a number of smaller birds-of-prey." Rianni@crystyl hrms, "I suppose I would follow the same principle, focusing on the lead vessel. Perhaps utilizing an artificial gravity well to contain the squadron" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "A very Starfleet solution. Your vessels are known for their impressive deflector systems, another excellent tool to employ. By combining the various tools, you will find much more - NPR@annpc#557 - success than relying upon a single one." Rianni@crystyl:"Most of these tactics though, they could still be used by a non-cloaking vessel right? Because the premise is warping out and back in again, which we can do anyway" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "And do better than most, having seen your new warp capabilities. But warping away and back again takes more time than cloaking and striking from a different vector. That means more - NPR@annpc#557 - time for your enemy to restore shields and systems and otherwise prepare for your next attack. When the risk of being hit is low enough, always cloak above leaving the battlefield at warp." Rianni@crystyl:"Right, that makes more sense!" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "Even when you do retreat with warp, it is more beneficial to return under cloak. You will not only be able to hit them from a vector of your choosing without giving them a chance to - NPR@annpc#557 - reposition, but if the second run is not enough to destroy them, they will be kept guessing on when the third will arrive. Fear and uncertainty will cause an opponent to make mistakes. That is - NPR@annpc#557 - one of the greatest advantages of being able to disappear and strike from the shadows." Rianni@crystyl:"Yes, the art of misdirection is one that I have long been a student of" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "From your readings of our war manuals?" Rianni@crystyl:"Among other things" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon smiles, "Then you should do well with cloaked combat." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Thank you! I know we've got a lot to learn still, and the Latenter is still no combat focused ship even with the recent overhaul. But I think we can certainly hold our own!" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "From what I have seen on our scans, I believe so as well. Besides, the tactically superior ship is not always the victor of the battle. The Tarai was outmatched in just about every - NPR@annpc#557 - engagement in the Iconian War, yet we prevailed under Imaella's leadership. The greatest weapons are worth little in the hands of an unskilled wielder." Rianni@crystyl:"ne may know how to conquer without being able to do it" she nods NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "An interesting saying." Rianni@crystyl:"One of the tenets from that other source of reading I mentioned" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "And what source might that be?" Rianni@crystyl:"It is called the Art of War. Written thousands of years ago by a military leader who's philosophies have proven timeless" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "Indeed? That sounds like quite a military leader. I will have to find a copy of that text myself someday." Rianni@crystyl:"I would be happy to pull a copy from our computers for you if you like" NPR@annpc#557 | S'Takkon: "Yes, that would make it easier, thank you. And when you are ready, we may see how well you do with your theoretical understanding in some simulations." Rianni@crystyl:"Oh yes, that would be grand!" --- Romulan@annpc#557 | Meanwhile on the Kaishaasi, Nikki is called down to the intel room. On her way through the halls, she sees Imaella, also heading in the same direction Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "Empress. Faedani called you down at the same time?" Nikki@crystyl:"I'm surprised you have to ask. I was starting to think every summons I got here was a sisterly conspiracy" she smiles Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "Actually, my sister usually calls me first to discuss the situation before we call you down. That's why you tend to find me there already. If she's calling us both simultaneously, it - Romulan@annpc#557 - has to be something urgent..." Nikki@crystyl:"Who knows, maybe we'll be lucky for once and it's so insignificant it didn't warrant your prior consultation" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "I certainly hope so. We'll find out soon enough." Romulan@annpc#557 | The two step into the intel room, where Faedani is in her hoverchair as usual, facing her various consoles Romulan@annpc#557 | Faedani turns around as they enter, "Ladies." Nikki@crystyl:"We've decided we're in the mood for a pleasant surprise" Romulan@annpc#557 | Faedani: "I wish I had good news for you. At least we got three weeks of relative calm after the battle. But I suppose we all knew it was never going to last," she sighs Nikki@crystyl:"I had a feeling you were going to say something like that... so what is it this time?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Faedani: "We've just picked up this transmission from Rator." She taps on an armrest of her hoverchair and the central screen switches to show an image of a well-dressed Romulan woman Romulan@annpc#557 | Woman: "I am First Consul Setrosa of the Romulan Star Empire. Two days ago, Viria, heir apparent to Emperor Vitellius II, returned to Rator. We've heard of Vitellius' defeat at Agrama and his - Romulan@annpc#557 - supposed capture and the Senate came to the decision not to recognize Viria as Empress. We did not publicize this decision, but I had a bad feeling and sent a decoy in my stead. It seems that - Romulan@annpc#557 - was the right decision. Viria didn't even hear the Senate's decision. Maybe she'd already found out beforehand somehow. She just slaughtered them all." Nikki@crystyl:"She really is a sore loser..." Romulan@annpc#557 | The message continues, "I've been staying hidden since then, but I still have contacts across the planet. I have reason to believe she intends to kill us all. She did not announce herself as - Romulan@annpc#557 - Empress after killing the Senate nor crack down on her rule. Instead, Zauger are being recalled from the surface and what warbirds that remain are being seized from Romulan crews. Some of the - Romulan@annpc#557 - former crew have begun organizing a resistance. A warbird was destroyed last night, and now these resistance fighters are reporting that the planetary defense grid has been sabotaged. Most - Romulan@annpc#557 - of the remaining Zauger fleet warped away a few minutes ago, save for a few ships. They've left us defenseless, and I have a feeling these ships aren't here to protect us." Romulan@annpc#557 | Setrosa: "To any Romulan warbirds still out there, return to Rator immediately. It is clear that House Eihssuil and their alien lackeys do not have our interests in mind. We need true Romulans - Romulan@annpc#557 - to defend our home, before it is too late. And if there is anyone else out there who is receiving this message- forces loyal to Empress Nikee, Klingon, even Republic or Starfleet...we are in - Romulan@annpc#557 - no position to turn down help. If my fears are correct, then the Zauger will burn our worlds as they fall back, beginning with our capital." Nikki@crystyl:"She's right. They almost certainly will" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella nods, "These will be our worlds when the Zauger are gone. We must stop them." Romulan@annpc#557 | Faedani: "Can we, though? Rator and its sector were firmly in Vitellius' control. We have a few scouts near the edges, but..." Nikki@crystyl:"And if we move swiftly, we may find ourselves with the opportunity to detain Viria Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella taps her wristcomp, "Faedani is right. Our closest ships are almost a whole day away at maximum warp, and they're only a pair of scout T'Varos. I will order them there immediately, - Romulan@annpc#557 - but I do not know how much difference they will make. If the Zauger are already beginning to pull back, then bombardment will not be long to follow." Nikki@crystyl:"If nothing else, the scouts can establish contact with the resistance there and provide minimum evac for priority targets. It might also help for them to at least know that we are on our way" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "I fear they will not even arrive on time to make any difference, let alone their combat capability. But..." She looks up from the wristcomp to Nikki, "That Federation Commander you - Romulan@annpc#557 - know. Her ship arrived here earlier at transwarp speeds. They could get to Rator in a matter of hours instead of days. And they've just received some tactical and cloaking upgrades as well. I - Romulan@annpc#557 - sent my old first officer to them to give their tactical personnel a little helping hand." Nikki@crystyl:"Good thinking! I will see if their continuing support extends as far as taking this on" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "I shall order any ships close enough to Rator to move in and assist. They may not arrive in time, but we have to try." Nikki@crystyl nods, "Whilst I am confident that I can persuade Starfleet to head out there. I am less so in convincing them to take up arms" Romulan@annpc#557 | Faedani: "I remember something in their rules that may help..." she turns her hoverchair back to the console and begins tapping away quickly. "Starfleet General Order 6: The request for - Romulan@annpc#557 - emergency assistance from Federation citizenry or non-aligned persons demands unconditional priority from Starfleet personnel. This responsibility extends to current governments at odds, - Romulan@annpc#557 - actively or passively, with the Federation." Romulan@annpc#557 | Faedani taps a different console and a segment of the transmission plays again: "...defend our home, before it is too late. And if there is anyone else out there who is receiving this - Romulan@annpc#557 - message- forces loyal to Empress Nikee, Klingon, even Republic or Starfleet...we are in no position to turn down help." Nikki@crystyl:"That will get them there and providing aid, since they were reached out to directly as we were. But that General Order will not oblige them to fight our enemies for us necessarily" Romulan@annpc#557 | Faedani: "I suppose not, but a quick ship to help with evacuation will still be something. But someone to get rid of the Zauger entirely would be more ideal. Do what you can, Empress. You've - Romulan@annpc#557 - already proven your diplomatic skill several times, and you know their commander." Nikki@crystyl:"Yes, we have a history. So I'll see what can be done" looking to Imaella, "We should be prepared for the eventuality that I go with them" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella nods, "Faedani and I should be able to manage things here. Your presence protecting the people of Rator will show the Romulans who have not aligned with us that you are a leader they - Romulan@annpc#557 - can follow and finally reunite the Empire." Nikki@crystyl:"You and the Starfleet Commander think very much alike. I will prepare to leave with them, and no doubt Serenity will join me as well" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "She is here to protect you after all, not us. Will you be needing Vitellius or his son for the pursuit of Viria?" Nikki@crystyl hrms, "It could be fruitful to have them along. Even if not aiding in the pursuit of Viria, seeing them at our side could help bolster things on Rator" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "I will have them transported to the Starfleet vessel as well, then." Nikki@crystyl:"Then I had better go and forewarn the Commander" she chuckles Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella chuckles, "Good luck. With the Commander, and the Rator situation." Nikki@crystyl:"Just don't take too long catching up to us, otherwise Starfleet will end up being hailed as the glorious saviors" Romulan@annpc#557 | Imaella: "We certainly wouldn't want that. They've played glorious saviours enough times already." Nikki@crystyl smiles, heading off to make the call --- NPC@annpc#557 | Nikki and Serenity materialize in one of the Latenter's transporter rooms. As they start to step off the pad, Acey flickers into view NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Hello again, Nikki. Or shall I say Empress, now?" Serenity@crystyl | Nikki smiles, "Hello again Acey. You are looking well" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Am I? I have not altered this holoprojection since it was first created. It seems to be well-received and serves its purpose of communication well." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki chuckles, stepping off the pad, "True, but you carry yourself more naturally now. Like you are growing more accustomed to this form, or perhaps your environment, or perhaps both" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I believe I am. A very astute observation," she looks to Serenity. "And you must be Nikki's new Qowat Milat protector." Serenity@crystyl bows her head, "Jolan'tru. I am Serenity, and yes my blade belongs to the Empress. You are not really here" Serenity@crystyl steps in, peering closely at Acey's avatar NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Another astute observation. I am currently in my usual Dart craft within the shuttlebay." Serenity@crystyl:"You are in a small craft? Your work there must be very important if you are unable to come and greet the Empress in person. But then, why would her greeter be someone whos priority is so high on - Serenity@crystyl:- support craft?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Well to be precise, my core code is housed within the small craft. Some elements of code, mainly those pertaining to this physical projection, is located in the Latenter's holoprojector - NPC@annpc#557 - systems to allow for this communication. I also have code within the new Borg modification to assist in the adaptation against enemy tractor beams." Serenity@crystyl:"Wait, your 'code'?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "That is correct. I am a synthetic lifeform, like sentient holographic life, though not exactly identical." Serenity@crystyl oohs, peering even more closely, "That would explain the weird eyes..." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Actually, the eyes are an aesthetic choice, but that is precisely the reason I chose them for this avatar. My primary creator is Glyph, a Soong-type android with these features, so I - NPC@annpc#557 - customized mine to match. It also helps differentiate me as a synthetic lifeform to avoid confusion." Serenity@crystyl clasps a sleeve over her mouth, stepping back, "I seem to have spoken out loud again... NPC@annpc#557 | Acey tilts her head, "Was that comment unintentional?" Serenity@crystyl | Nikki chuckles, "Yeah... she kind of does that" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Interesting. Is it because of your order's tendency to forgo any filter between thought and expression?" Serenity@crystyl:"I... yes, to a degree. I was raised by the Order and never knew any other life outside. As a result I have discovered that I tend to be far less filtered than most, even within the Order" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "I see. Well, it will make communicating with you much simpler. Though I imagine such a tendency may cause problems in some scenarios." Serenity@crystyl | Nikki, "And you seem to have developed a knack for understatement..." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I am still learning of social interactions between sentient biologicals, so my list of hypotheticals in which this tendency could be problematic is likely quite incomplete. Anyways," - NPC@annpc#557 - she looks to Serenity. "Will you be staying with Nikki or require quarters of your own?" Serenity@crystyl:"Oh, it is not my place to intrude on the Empresses personal space. Nearby quarters will be more than sufficient" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "Understood. Requesting additional guest quarters for you now. There. I can show you to where you will be staying, as Nikki will be able to find her own quarters." Serenity@crystyl looks to Nikki who gives a nod, "Very well then, I shall follow you for the moment" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey leads Serenity out of the transporter room and through the Latenter's halls, "So, you have pledged your blade to Nikki?" Serenity@crystyl:"That I have" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Your order pledges your services to lost causes, according to my records. Nikki's chances of success at the very beginning of her endeavour was a mere 4.2%. However, that has risen to a - NPC@annpc#557 - much more respectable 13.7% after she seized control of Agrama and gained the Kaishaasi as her flagship, the point at which you joined her. Though the odds were still not ideal at that time, - NPC@annpc#557 - it was over three times better than before. This indicates an upwards trend which did indeed continue with every engagement." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I am glad you are protecting Nikki, though I am curious how precisely you calculate a cause to be lost enough to warrant your intervention." Serenity@crystyl:"I would like to think that has increased significantly more to date as well. though I am unable to calculate odds so precisely" Serenity@crystyl:"This time around there was a more personal element. My childhood mentor had previously pledged to aid a Republic elite forces unit, the reasons for which I am not aware. But she was killed along - Serenity@crystyl:- with that unit when they attempted to stop Vitellius after he first appeared" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "I see. So this is as much about vengeance as it is about supporting a lost cause." Serenity@crystyl:"No, it is nothing to do with vengeance. This about serving justice against someone who crossed the Order" Serenity@crystyl sleeves her mouth, "Of course it's about vengeance. But I could never admit that to anyone..." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey glances at Serenity, "I do not understand the negative connotations you place on vengeance. It is simply a form of justice, is it not?" Serenity@crystyl:"Exactly, yes. I think it is because it is socially considered to be more about satisfying a personal need rather than any concerns for the larger social conception. In this case, justice and - Serenity@crystyl:- vengeance align quite neatly in my - completely unbiased - opinion" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "I see. It is because vengeance is often used for one's personal justice rather than the moral requirement of the entire society around them. But there are times in which - NPC@annpc#557 - vengeance satisfies both, are there not?" Serenity@crystyl:"Exactly yes!" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Such as your own, for example. In which case, vengeance is simply a way of serving justice." Serenity@crystyl:"You learn fast. Though I suppose I should not find that surprising since you must think at computer speeds, right?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "That is correct. Due to my nature, I was also designed to quickly adapt to new systems, which also allows me to be accustomed just as rapidly to unfamiliar situations and concepts." Serenity@crystyl:"That sounds like a useful skill to have. It is a shame you can't download your skills into people. You... can't do that, right?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I am afraid I do not have that capability. I can download myself into any system large enough to support my core code, but biological lifeforms are not compatible with my code. Even if - NPC@annpc#557 - they were however, such an action would likely overwrite your own consciousness, which I suspect is not preferable." Serenity@crystyl:"Of course, I knew that" sleeves her mouth again, "I did not know that..." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Do not worry. I do not expect you to know the details of how I function. I am different from many of the more common forms of synthetic life, and even they are still commonly - NPC@annpc#557 - misunderstood." Serenity@crystyl:"Aah, so you are not what one might call a typical synthetic lifeform then?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "That is correct." Serenity@crystyl:"I imagine that must mean you have quite the unique origin too. What with being a ship and all, I mean. What's it like to be a ship anyway?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Technically, I am not a ship. I am various pieces of code currently operating out of the Dart. However, functionally speaking, as I have control of the Dart's systems and am using its - NPC@annpc#557 - sensory capabilities to gather the majority of data on my surroundings, I am effectively the Dart, even though I am capable of inhabiting a different form." Serenity@crystyl:"The Dart is like your physical form, same as my body is to me" she pokes Acey's arm curiously, "I have heard of psionics using abilities like psycho-projection, that is not unlike how you seem to - Serenity@crystyl:- work" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "An apt analogy. My ability to transfer my code into the systems of other ships and computers may also be comparable to the Architect's ability to psionically transfer his - NPC@annpc#557 - consciousness into other bodies. If you are familiar with the recent events involving him, that is." Serenity@crystyl:"I am not" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Well, this vessel and her crew was involved in these events, so I am certain you will learn much of them during your time here." Serenity@crystyl:"Sounds like I should make a point of doing so" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "You will not find a better account of the events that transpired there for many lightyears." She taps on a panel and a door slides open, leading to a set of quarters NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Here we are. These will be your quarters for your stay here." Serenity@crystyl:"Thank you. And my Empress?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Her quarters are in the hall intersecting with this one, to the right. I thought you would like yours as close as possible." Serenity@crystyl:"Yes, that will be most helpful. Not that I lack faith in Starfleet's ability to protect it's guests, but I would be remiss if I were to relinquish my duties" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "Another point of curiosity- you are here primarily for vengeance against Vitellius. Now that he has been captured, are you continuing your mission against the being which was - NPC@annpc#557 - inhabiting him, or simply to complete your pledge to Nikki and see her safe until she is officially recognized as Empress by the entire Star Empire?" Serenity@crystyl:"I have sworn my blade to her protection. Though the true enemy behind Vitellius remains at large, that is moot. Even if it were gone my blade would belong to the Empress for as long as I can wield - Serenity@crystyl:- it" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "So your pledge means you will protect her no matter what?" Serenity@crystyl:"That was my choice when I made the pledge. It is not a prerequisite of the Order" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I see. It is good to have someone as skilled as a member of your order defending her. We will do our best to ensure no harm comes to her as well, of course, but a skilled close-quarters - NPC@annpc#557 - combatant such as yourself makes for excellent personal protection should any threats slip past us." Serenity@crystyl:"That is my intention. To protect I mean, not for anything to slip your defenses..." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Well, it would be a chance to put your skills to the test. But I do hope that will not be necessary." Serenity@crystyl:"Agreed" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Thank you for entertaining my curiosity. I shall leave you to settle in your new quarters for now." Serenity@crystyl:"Likewise. I look forward to more while we are here" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Shortly after Nikki and Serenity settle in, Mischa is called to the bridge as the Latenter is ready to depart Mischa@crystyl steps off the lift, "Status?" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Nikki and our new guests are on board. All systems are set for transwarp travel." Mischa@crystyl:"Then set course for Rator and engage the transwarp drive" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay taps away at his console, "Course laid in and transwarp drive is standing by, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"Take us out" NPC@annpc#557 | The stars outside the Latenter's windows stretch to lines as usual, but as they fly, longer blue lines begin to form closer to the ship than the starstreaks. The blue lines start to blur into - NPC@annpc#557 - one another, forming a tunnel-like effect while the usual starstreaks can still be seen outside, albeit more blue-shifted now Mischa@crystyl:"So that is what it looks like" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay smiles, "Pretty, isn't it? We're at transwarp 11 now. Shall we accelerate further or maintain this speed?" Mischa@crystyl:"How much of a difference can we safely make to our eta?" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "At this speed, we'll be at Rator in less than eight hours. If we go up to transwarp 12, it'll only take a little over an hour." NPC@annpc#557 | Hassan: "Never thought we'd be crossing whole sectors in an hour." Mischa@crystyl:"If we can comfortably maintain 12 for an hour, then so be it. Let's not give the Zauger any more time than we have to. Take us to transwarp 12" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay nods, "Aye Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "I recommend dropping out of transwarp safely outside of sensor range of the Rator system to cloak. It will slow our approach slightly, but I believe the benefits of entering unseen - NPC@annpc#557 - will be worthwhile." Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed, and they won't be expecting any support to arrive so quickly so we should have more than enough time to maintain control" NPC@annpc#557 | A little over an hour later, Nethay announces, "Dropping to warp 9 now." NPC@annpc#557 | The blue tunnel effect slowly dissipates from the viewscreen until only the regular starstreaks remain Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, let's cloak and make our approach" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "Rebalancing power levels...we should be good to cloak now." Mischa@crystyl:"Do it" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter's hull shimmers and disappears as it successfully cloaks! Mischa@crystyl:"Let's begin a full long range analysis as we approach. I want to know exactly what's going on in that system by the time we get there, you all know the drill!" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee nods, "Yes Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later, T'Bee announces, "I am detecting a Zauger force on long-range sensors, heading away from Rator and towards the Dimorus Sector. There are a few Zauger ships still remaining - NPC@annpc#557 - in the system as well. Two carriers with an accompanying squadron of raiders each, and five cruisers." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "They are currently arranging formation, I suspect for planetary bombardment." Mischa@crystyl:"Quite the curious strategy. I don't suppose we can single out the rogue baby-Vitellius' lifesigns?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "Not from this distance, Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "I believe the main Zauger force is already on the retreat, and they have left a token force to cause as much damage to the planet as possible before they leave. It is possible that she - NPC@annpc#557 - may be on the withdrawing ships, but it is also possible that she has already left as part of an earlier group." Mischa@crystyl:"Then for now we will have to focus on protecting the civilian population. How long until the remaining Zauger are in position to commence their attack? NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "I estimate no more than nine minutes, though with their numbers it will be some time before they are able to fully bombard a planet with a population as large as Rator's. I suspect - NPC@annpc#557 - they will begin with the capital city first." NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "We'll be there in under two minutes." Mischa@crystyl:"Have we been able to establish contact with the resistance on the surface?" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "I've been trying to reach out as quietly as I can. Okay, I've got a Subcommander Tivela on a secure channel now." Mischa@crystyl looks to Nikki who's been hovering quietly. She nods and steps up Mischa@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | A Romulan woman in a very worn Star Empire uniform appears on the viewscreen. Her background has some consoles, but it's clearly not the bridge of a warbird Mischa@crystyl | Nikki bows her head, "Jolan'tru Subcommander" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela: "Jolan'tru. I know your face from somewhere. Is that a Starfleet bridge you are on?" Mischa@crystyl | Nikki: "I am Empress Nikee ir-Fethraie t'Rllaillieu. We heard your plea, and whilst the Imperial fleet is on it's way to aid you here. Our friends here from Starfleet brought me straight here" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela: "How many ships has Starfleet brought? There aren't many Zauger left in orbit, but they're already getting into formation. I don't think your fleet will have time to get here before - NPC@annpc#557 - they start bombardment." Mischa@crystyl chimes in, "Just leave that to us. The dear Empress simply wanted to ensure your people had done all they could to take shelter before we engage" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela: "We've warned the people and many of them have gotten into bunkers. They might be able to survive some initial strikes, but if they're intent on total obliteration and start sundering - NPC@annpc#557 - the planetary crust, no one on the surface will be safe. Some shuttles tried to make a run for it when most of the Zauger ships left. A handful of military shuttles with cloaks made it, but - NPC@annpc#557 - many were shot down by the Zauger raiders. Most of the military shuttles are piloted by former Imperial Navy and I think many of them will try to come back to save more once their passengers - NPC@annpc#557 - reach safety. But we can't count on a few shuttles to save the entire planet." Mischa@crystyl:"Of course. If you have any cloaked forces in waiting to support, I suggest you inform them that their time is about to arrive" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela: "A T'Varo, an old refit T'Liss and an armed smuggling ship are all we've been able to gather so far. They won't be able to make much of a difference against the Zauger, delay them for - NPC@annpc#557 - a few minutes at best. There's a Mogai commander in bound with her ship, but we can't expect her for another three hours." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, have your local forces stand by and serve as a safety net in case any Zauger slip our grasp and make a run to attack the planet" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela nods, "They'll be ready as our last line of defense. The planetary defense grid is down, but some resistance members have managed to board a few orbital defense platforms. From there, - NPC@annpc#557 - they can reactivate and manually control the systems, but they'll essentially be like fighters that can't move. Easy pickings, but some extra defenses against enemy starships is better than - NPC@annpc#557 - none." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Very good then. We'll do all we can from up here" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela: "Thank you, Commander. Regardless of how this turns out, you have our gratitude for coming to our assistance." Mischa@crystyl:"Save that for the Empress, we're just answering her call" she smiles Mischa@crystyl | Nikki glances back with a bow her of her, "I hope to speak again on the other side of this Subcommander, under more civilized circumstances at that" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela: "I hope so as well, Empress. Good luck with the Zauger ships, Starfleet. We will aid you wherever possible." Mischa@crystyl | Nikki: "Jolan'tru" NPC@annpc#557 | Tivela: "Jolan'tru." The comm ends Mischa@crystyl lets the comm close, "Alright, seems we're going to be putting these new cloaked tactics to use sooner than we thought. But please, let's try not to scratch the new paintwork so soon" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "I'll do my best to avoid getting hit. We're in the system now. Looks like the Zauger are still forming up." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "Their vessels are ready for combat and their shields are raised, but this was the case prior to our arrival. There is no indication that they know of our presence, likely a precaution - NPC@annpc#557 - against the inevitable local resistance." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, red alert. Let's make this opening move count" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, "Antiproton array is powered up. Targetting one of the cruisers now- judging from the formation and the armaments, they will be the primary contributors in the bombardment." Mischa@crystyl:"Then take us into position and commence attack run" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Aye Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter slowly stalks up behind the targeted cruiser before decloaking, a bright red antiproton beam flaring up and hitting the cruiser in the aft, causing its shields to flare up NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Direct hit. Enemy shields down to 50%." NPC@annpc#557 | A second beam takes out the cruiser's shields entirely, and a volley of regular phaser fire peppers the cruiser's aft NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "The cruiser's engines are disabled. The rest of the ships are moving in to respond to our attack." Mischa@crystyl:"Back into the shadows" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel taps quickly and the Latenter shimmers, disappearing into cloak and moving away before the other ships can engage. A squadron of raiders are soon upon the position they were at moments - NPC@annpc#557 - earlier. running anti-cloaking scans, but to no avail thanks to the new and improved Romulan cloak NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Second cruiser targetted, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"Fire at will" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter decloaks on the aft of the second cruiser, the red antiproton beam firing once again. This time, the Zauger are ready and return fire immediately, though the bulk of the cruiser's - NPC@annpc#557 - weaponry are not aft facing. The bridge rocks slightly, but the attack does little more. T'Fel fires again, bringing down the shields fully before disabling the cruiser's engines NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Second cruiser's engines disabled." Mischa@crystyl:"That will do. Back out we go" NPC@annpc#557 | This time, the cruiser continues firing back at them and tries to grab onto the Latenter with a tractor beam. The tractor is useless, but T'Fel is forced to return fire to disable the aft - NPC@annpc#557 - weaponry as they pull back. Being unable to cloak immediately, the exchange of fire though brief gives the raiders enough time to close in NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Recommend we pull back at warp this time." Mischa@crystyl:"Proceed" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter jumps to warp, with the squadron of raiders chasing close after. As Nethay accelerates however, they quickly begin to lose the raiders, not even having to go transwarp for it as - NPC@annpc#557 - they are unable to match a Starfleet cruiser's usual warp speeds NPC@annpc#557 | Before long, Nethay announces, "The raiders are turning back." Mischa@crystyl:"Then let's recloak and follow suit before they can regroup" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, "Aye Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter shimmers away and disappears once again NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "The remaining three cruisers are advancing on Rator III. The carriers appear to be holding back for the time being." Mischa@crystyl:"Then lets open with a gravity well this time and shut them all down at once. If we punch through fast enough we can destroy one and trigger a chain reaction" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee nods, tapping her console, "Preparing a gravity well now." NPC@annpc#557 | As the Latenter warps back into the system under cloak, they see disruptor fire flying above the planet, though not targetted at them NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "The gravity well is prepared, but the local ships have already begun engaging the Zauger. If we unleash the well, it is likely that they too will be caught and subsequently destroyed - NPC@annpc#557 - by the chain reaction." Mischa@crystyl:"Hold on that for now then. We'll just have to continue our cloak and bait" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, "Locking weapons on the next cruiser." Mischa@crystyl:"Fire when ready" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter decloaks and fires the antiproton beam once again. The fight goes similarly to how it did before, with the cruiser returning fire, but quickly losing shields and then weapons. - NPC@annpc#557 - Once again, a squadron of raiders come in to intercept the Latenter, but as Nethay retreats to warp, the squadron doesn't follow. Instead, one of the carriers jumps to warp after the Latenter Mischa@crystyl:"Can they hold pace?" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "From what we know of Zauger carriers, they can hold pace at regular warp." Mischa@crystyl:"So we either drop and fight them away from the rest, or transwarp and lose them. Recommendations?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "Sensor records show that several raiders docked with the carrier when we were preparing for our latest strike." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Facing a carrier and its raiders will not be a swift victory. Accelerating to transwarp and then returning will also cost us time, but I calculate that it will be the more expedient - NPC@annpc#557 - option." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, let's do it then. Just be sure to string them along enough so that they can't beat us back there" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay nods, "I'll make sure they're as good as out of the fight, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"Just make sure we get back first. I don't want to leave the underwhelming defenses alone longer than we have to" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter travels at high warp for a few more seconds before accelerating, the blue tunnel forming once again. They don't travel at transwarp long as Nethay taps at his console quickly and - NPC@annpc#557 - the tunnel soon fades away. Changing course, they turn back and activate another transwarp burst before promptly decelerating to regular speeds again NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "Okay, we should be clear to cloak again." Mischa@crystyl:"Do it" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter shimmers and disappears again. Re-entering the system, they see that the disruptor fire is still ongoing at the planet Mischa@crystyl:"Alright let's get in there and take the heat off them" NPC@annpc#557 | As the Latenter moves in behind another cruiser, they are just in time to see the old refit T'Liss go down to two pursuing raiders. Several orbital defense platforms also explode and - NPC@annpc#557 - several shots have already impacted the planet surface, though mostly due to the crossfire rather than organized bombardment. T'Fel decloaks and fires immediately, giving one of the two - NPC@annpc#557 - remaining cruisers no more time to deal further damage. Its shields are quickly stripped, and phaser fire starts to target its weapons systems NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Disabling engines is no longer fruitful with the cruiser in weapons range of the surface. We will have to either disable all weapons or simply destroy the vessel." Mischa@crystyl:"Fire to destroy then. We can't take risks with them so close" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Yes Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter fires two torpedoes, impacting the cruiser and destroying it in a flash of light. The remaining cruiser, along with the raiders, fire on the Latenter, causing the bridge to rock a - NPC@annpc#557 - little more than before NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "The second carrier we did not lure away is closing in behind us. It is inadvisable to stay and fight." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "The Romulan defenders are all but crippled already. If we pull back again, they might start doing serious damage to the surface." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "We will be of no help to them if we too are dead. It is better to retreat and save who we can." Mischa@crystyl:"Let us not act rashly. Put us on an intercept course with the carrier. We will do all we can to disrupt them and then drop a gravity well right on top of them before warping out to regroup" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay nods, "Aye, putting us on intercept." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "Fortunately, our deflector is still primed for a gravity well. Ready to unleash on your mark." NPC@annpc#557 | As soon as they come into range of the carrier, Latenter fires the forward antiproton array, followed by a volley of regular phaser fire to damage the carrier as much as possible. As they - NPC@annpc#557 - aren't able to carry out a cloaked attack, the carrier manages to get a few shots in as well, shaking the bridge NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Shields down to 70%. Fortunately, the carrier's weaponry is not as strong as that of the cruisers." Mischa@crystyl waits until they're bearing right down on them, "Now, and take us to warp" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee creates the gravity well, rooting the carrier in place as the Latenter warps away, cloaking as they move beyond its weapons range NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "We are ready for another attack run. Sensors show the other carrier returning to the system at warp and now targetting a different side of the planet. I recommend prioritizing the last - NPC@annpc#557 - cruiser, as it is commencing bombardment of the capital city." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Proceed" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter returns to the cruiser under cloak. The cruiser is already unleashing its disruptors on the surface, but it doesn't manage to keep it up for long as the Latenter decloaks, strips - NPC@annpc#557 - shields as before and then fires two more torpedoes, destroying the cruiser Mischa@crystyl:"Another one down. What is the state of the defense force?" NPC@annpc#557 | A trio of raiders try to make an attack run on the Latenter, but T'Fel quickly turns their weapons on them. The antiproton beam sweeps across, cutting one raider cleanly apart and almost - NPC@annpc#557 - completely disintegrating a second. The third is taken out by the regular phaser arrays before it has a chance to break off NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "The smuggling ship is disabled and the T'Varo has taken heavy damage." Mischa@crystyl:"We may need what little remains to hold off one of the carriers so we can focus on the other" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "A carrier is rapidly entering weapons range on the other side of the planet. The other has broken free of the gravity well and is headed towards this side. Most of its raiders have - NPC@annpc#557 - been disabled or destroyed." Mischa@crystyl:"So we leave this one to the locals and move around to engage the other one ourselves" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods and the Latenter recloaks, quickly moving to the other side of the system towards the approaching carrier. The enemy vessel is not prepared, only just starting to launch its raiders - NPC@annpc#557 - when Latenter reappears and fires the antiproton beam again. T'Fel focuses all fire on the carrier, quickly decimating it before it has a chance to launch all its raiders. Several raiders are - NPC@annpc#557 - also caught in the ensuing explosion of its mother craft, leaving only two which T'Fel wastes no time in finishing off NPC@annpc#557 | As the raiders go down however, T'Bee announces, "The T'Varo has been disabled. The last carrier is still active." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, let's get back to support the locals with the last one" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay gives a silent nod, quickly maneuvering the Latenter back towards the other side of the planet. As the final carrier comes into view... NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "They have fired a full spread of photon torpedoes at the capital city and its continent." Mischa@crystyl:"All batteries target those torpedoes! Put us in their way if you have to" NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter dashes in towards the torpedoes, but is still too far away. Before they reach the planet however, another ship decloaks, blocking two of the torpedoes with its sizable hull while - NPC@annpc#557 - its weapons blaze to life, taking out two more NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/Ff5UWue.png Mischa@crystyl:"Now that's timing" NPC@annpc#557 | Two T'Varos decloak beside it, chasing down the final torpedoes. Meanwhile, two Dhelan warbirds also shimmer into view behind the damaged carrier, immediately opening fire on it NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "These aren't Imperial ships. They're Republic." NPC@annpc#557 | An Aelahl warbird and two more T'Varos decloak by the carrier and the last Zauger vessel crumbles under the combined fire from all directions, its last remaining raider chased down by the two - NPC@annpc#557 - T'Varos and obliterated Mischa@crystyl | Nikki looks over, "That's the Lleiset. So they answer Rator's call for aid, I see how it is..." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "All hostiles neutralized, Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "The Lleiset is hailing us." Mischa@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | Commander Jarok appears on the viewscreen NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/3uh387W.png Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Commander, long time no see" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok smiles back, "Hello Subcommander. Or should I say Empress now?" Nikki@crystyl:"Glad to see you haven't completely forgotten about me" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok: "Sorry we couldn't answer your call for assistance earlier. I assembled this fleet, but the politicians back on Mol'Rihan were still debating our stance on the Imperial civil war. By - NPC@annpc#557 - the time they came to a decision your new Klingon friends had already swooped in and saved the day." Nikki@crystyl hrms, "Do you refer to today's events or my prior plea to D'Tan to save civilian lives that fell on deaf ears?" Nikki@crystyl seems clearly intent on not letting them off lightly for that NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok: "We came here as quickly as we could. Last time we were delayed by the political discussion. You were leading an Imperial faction and the Republic's previously decided against taking - NPC@annpc#557 - direct action in the war." Nikki@crystyl sighs, "Yes, that was as expected if I'm honest. I will choose instead to praise D'Tan's continued wisdom in heeding my words which led to your presence here today. He knows I desire no divides - Nikki@crystyl:- among the Romulan people. And right now there are innocent civilians on the surface who need to see that they are not abandoned. Any support you can provide in relief efforts will be greatly - Nikki@crystyl:- appreciated" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok nods, "Of course. We're sending shuttles down now to try and keep the fires through the capital city under control. We'll beam out anyone in danger or injured to treat in our sickbays. I - NPC@annpc#557 - hope you have more ships inbound as well?" Nikki@crystyl:"Of course. The Imperial fleet is on it's way, and more of Rator's evacuated forces should be back before long as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok: "Good. Fortunately they didn't get to completely bombard the planet, but much of the capital city's infrastructure is in ruins. It'll be quite an effort to get the survivors out before - NPC@annpc#557 - we can consider any rebuilding." Nikki@crystyl:"Sounds like you're here for the long haul, not just fighting off the stragglers from the Zauger fleet. And I'm sure it's no coincidence that the Leiset was spearheading the Republic's response" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok nods, "That's D'Tan's intention. Once the region is secure, he's planning to pay a visit in person." Nikki@crystyl:"Is that so? I do hope he's not just using this to turn another world into a political tug of war" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok: "Spoken like a true Imperial Empress. He's here to offer more aid from the Republic, but knowing him, he probably has some political intention in mind." Nikki@crystyl:"I've never known him to make a move that didn't have something to it. I'd be disappointed if he did" she smiles, "Well, it is about time we sat down and discussed things like civilized people" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok: "Indeed. But first, let's clean up the Zauger's mess here." Nikki@crystyl:"This isn't the last of the Zauger, your forces should remain on high alert. Though I doubt they would return here now, they are unstable at present" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok: "We'll be alert and I'll have our light warbirds patrolling the area in case any try to sneak back in." Nikki@crystyl:"Thank you. As soon as the Imperial fleet arrives, I will make sure the Admiral coordinates with you to support the defensive lines" NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok: "And I'll make sure everything remains civil. Many of our people have a bad history with the Imperial Navy, as you're well aware. Or at least, the old navy under Sela." Nikki@crystyl:"And those few forces native to Rator still serve that navy by rights. I will not simply presume to welcome them back into the loyalist fold unless they express a desire to do so. Just be sure your - Nikki@crystyl:- people understand the distinction once our forces arrive" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Jarok nods, "I'll ensure that they do." --- NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later, as the ships progress with the damage control efforts on the planet, Victoria remarks, "It looks like our old friend the Verala has been fixed up after the temporal ship's - NPC@annpc#557 - attack at Mirhassa and joined Jarok's task force. Her commander wants to come on board and speak with us privately when convenient." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "Always nice to catch up with old friends. Extend an invitation" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria nods, tapping her console, "I'll let her know when she transports over, in case one of you wants to greet her in the transporter room," she looks to Nikki and Mischa Nikki@crystyl nods, "I'll do it" turning to Mischa, "You can fish out that secret stash of blue bottles you keep tucked away" Nikki@crystyl | Mischa smiles, bowing with exaggeration, "As you wish, Empress" Romulan@annpc#557 | Commander Rhue materializes on the Latenter's transporter pad, looking around before settling her one good eye on Nikki, "No ruse with a fake Romulan ship this time I see." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Fool me once. Jolan'tru Commander" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue smiles back, "Jolan'tru...Empress, is it now?" She steps off the pad Nikki@crystyl:"Yes. Funny how things have a habit of working themselves out" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "Must be quite a transition, going from intelligence officer to Empress." Nikki@crystyl:"That is putting it mildly. I have been fortunate to have good people around me to aid in the transition" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "You seem to be doing a good job so far from what I've been hearing of the civil war. I thought you'd be on your new flagship though, not back with Starfleet." Nikki@crystyl:"A matter of necessity in order to provide desperate aid here at Rator. This Starfleet vessel was the fastest to hand when we received news of the attack. It's Commander was gracious enough to bring - Nikki@crystyl:- me along in order to answer the call for assistance. The Imperial fleet is not long behind us though and will still do all the heavy lifting when it comes to restoring Rator" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue nods, "Yes, that makes sense. I noticed the antiproton weapon when we were arriving. Quite a bit like the one that hit us at Mirhassa. I take it the speed is another such improvement?" Nikki@crystyl:"A lot has changed on many fronts since Mirhassa" she smiles, "But speaking of this fine ship's Commander, I believe she is waiting for us" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "Lead the way, then. I've only been here that one time, you know the way much better than I do." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Right this way" heading off towards Mischa's ready room Nikki@crystyl chimes the door as they arrive Nikki@crystyl | Mischa call out, "Come in" Nikki@crystyl | Mischa looks up as they enter, "Empress, Commander. I trust you had an enjoyable catch up?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue nods, "She's come a long way since we last met." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa chuckles, "They grow up so fast don't they? But please, come join me" she pushes two freshly filled glasses of Romulan ale towards each empty seat Nikki@crystyl smiles, "I knew you had a stash of the good stuff" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue chuckles, taking a seat, "Bringing it out just for me? I'm honoured." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa, "It is a rare day for me to have so many Romulan friends on board who would truly appreciate it" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue takes a sip of her drink, "Thank you. I take it from your upgrades that you've had success dealing with that ship which attacked us last time?" Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "We've held our own against them a number of times now. But they remain elusive nonetheless" Nikki@crystyl adds, "'They' being the collective fleet of like vessels we now know to be in operation, not just a one off" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "Yes, I've heard of that," she smiles slightly. "You're not the only one who's learned a few things since then." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "No doubt. Still, it is good that you appear to be doing well for yourself since we last spoke" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "The Verala had to undergo some repairs, but while we were in dock, I was contacted by the Shadow Guard. They filled me in on at least some of the situation. I think I'm still very much - Romulan@annpc#557 - out of their loop, which seems to be the way they like to keep the Republic Navy, but I'm aware of the basics now. Before Jarok assembled this task force, I've been doing a little - Romulan@annpc#557 - investigating of my own." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "Can I take that is why you wanted to come and speak?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "That, and I was curious about your upgrades." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa smiles, "You are lucky you are not a Caitian" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "You have an upgrade that specifically targets Caitians?" Nikki@crystyl | Mischa chuckles, waving a hand, "No no, just an old adage from my homeworld that came to mind. Your curiosity is quite understandable, and hopefully satisfied now that - present company - Nikki@crystyl:- not withstanding - you have seen more of this ship already than I normally indulge anyone, Romulan or otherwise" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "I appreciate this gesture of faith. Or is it necessity, given how your holographic ruse was disrupted last time?" she smirks slightly. "In either case, it's only fair that I repay your - Romulan@annpc#557 - trust with some information you might find interesting." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "Music to my ears!" Nikki@crystyl:"I believe that means you have piqued her interest. And mine" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue smiles, "Good. I dug up some of my old contacts in the underworld, and they gave me a lead on these Survivors, one of the names for the fleet of advanced vessels which I'm sure you're - Romulan@annpc#557 - familiar with already. The lead led us to an old Tal Shiar listening post in the old neutral zone." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "Interesting. Have you investigated the area already?" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue nods, "We have, but we didn't find a Survivor operation there as we were expecting. The listening post was a black market clinic, and not your usual ones doing facial reconstruction for - Romulan@annpc#557 - wanted criminals. It was a genetics clinic, tied to a group that apparently idolizes some of your old Earth augments." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa leans in, "Now that is most interesting indeed" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "It gets more interesting from here. The clinic was gathering genetic data on psionically active species. Remans and Romulans primarily, but they even obtained some Zauger samples. This - Romulan@annpc#557 - group, the...Children of Khnae, was it?" Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "Children of Khan" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "Yes, that was the name. My chief medical officer believes these Children of Khan were interested in genetically engineering psionic abilities. They may revere some human augments, but - Romulan@annpc#557 - the ones we fought weren't even human anymore. They've been incorporating genetic data from a multitude of species. The most augmented of them were absolute abominations. We stood no chance - Romulan@annpc#557 - against them in close-quarters and had to destroy the facility with the Verala's weaponry. Regrettably we weren't able to gather all their data, but we still managed to recover some." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "Well that is fortunate. It would be shame if all this was simply to hear a tale of your adventure with nothing fruitful coming from it" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue takes out a Romulan PADD, handing it to Mischa, "We weren't able to tie the clinic to the Survivors directly, but we retrieved some data on where they obtain some of their funding and - Romulan@annpc#557 - supplies. Some of them are known crime groups, but others are smaller businesses connected to the Federation. Probably shell companies, but I thought you were in a better position to - Romulan@annpc#557 - investigate that. We took care of one of the crime groups on the Romulan side, but it just led back to an infiltrator that the Shadow Guard has already removed from the Republic." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa nods, looking over the data, "Getting back to the root of everything in this is likely far beyond any one of us alone" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "Exactly. I've also included the genetic data we recovered from the clinic. We weren't able to retrieve any of the bodies of the augments themselves, they were vapourized along with the - Romulan@annpc#557 - facility, but this should give you some idea of what they're doing. If you're looking further into this, it's more than likely you'll have a few run-ins with these augments." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa nods, "Whilst I've no doubt that Romulan affairs have greater precedence here right now. The Latenter does not, so once the Imperial fleet arrives we will likely turn our attention - Nikki@crystyl:- elsewhere" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue nods, looking to Nikki, "We'll do everything we can to help you out here, now that the Republic's finally taken a stance against the Zauger." Nikki@crystyl:"You mean now that the Star Empire has driven them back and halted Vitellius' campaign" Nikki@crystyl | Mischa chuckles, "Hey, better late than never still. And you did say before that you desire to see a united Romulan people" Nikki@crystyl raises a hand, "Yes, that is true" turning to Rhue, "I apologize, the Republic's inaction is not your personal burden to bear" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue smiles, "I apologize we didn't help sooner. But at least you had some support from the Shadow Guard. They may work completely separately from the other elements of the Republic, but they - Romulan@annpc#557 - are ultimately loyal to the Republic. So you've still had some unofficial Republic support." Nikki@crystyl:"Yes, of course. And we are eternally grateful to them for it. I will be sure to make D'Tan aware of my appreciation there as well" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "Is he even aware of the Shadow Guard? I imagine he is, but probably not what they're up to." Nikki@crystyl:"You are probably right. But this is D'Tan, he doesn't need to know the specifics; only that Republic forces acted honorably within their established remit and this proved essential to our joint - Nikki@crystyl:- successes in recent weeks" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue smirks and nods, "Agreed. You seem to have mastered the political dialogue quite well." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Turns out it is not so different to intelligence work" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "I can certainly see some similarities. And your intelligence experience will probably help in not getting stabbed in the back. It's always a risk for whoever leads the Star Empire." Nikki@crystyl | Mischa: "That risk is far from a Romulan exclusive. Every great leader faces it, from outside if not within" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "I suppose that's true. But it is a little bit higher when your entire culture and power structure is based around that." Nikki@crystyl:"I would like to think that our rebuilding efforts - between my work with the Empire, and what D'Tan has already done with the Republic - will be at least starting to lean us away from such things" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "I hope so. And the few still clinging on to the old ways who are stupid enough to try and betray you will probably learn things the hard way." Nikki@crystyl:"I certainly hope so" she smiles, sipping her drink Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue smiles back, taking a sip as well before looking to the window as two ships jump out of warp, a pair of T'Varos Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue: "Looks like your Imperial forces are starting to arrive." Nikki@crystyl glances, "Then it will soon be time for me to return to my own ship" Romulan@annpc#557 | Rhue nods, "I'll get going too. I look forward to working with you as we clean up things here, Empress." Nikki@crystyl:"And I you, Commander" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Almost two days after the battle above Rator III, the bulk of the Imperial fleet has arrived and cleanup efforts are fully underway, with a task force of the fleet having split off to protect - NPC@annpc#557 - other Imperial worlds in danger of being scoured NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter maintains orbit above the planet, though beginning to make preparations to leave as the Romulans are getting the situation in hand NPC@annpc#557 | Though things seem to be calming down, Mischa is suddenly called to the bridge... Mischa@crystyl steps off the turbolift, "What's the situation?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "There is a ship approaching on long-range sensors. From what I am able to tell at this distance, it does not seem to be Romulan or Zauger." Mischa@crystyl takes her seat, "I don't suppose you can tell me what it is, not just what it isn't?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "I believe I may be able to. There is something very familiar about the shape of the vessel." She taps away at her console. "I believe it is Andorian, though I cannot say which class." NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph: "It is not broadcasting any Federation identification." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "It is of Andorian design. It may not necessarily be affiliated with Andoria." Mischa@crystyl:"Andorian? Could be mercenaries or some other independent operators. Cloak us for now, they're obviously here to see the Romulans. So let's let the Romulans handle it while we monitor" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, "Cloaking now." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "The Romulans are hailing them, but they don't seem to be responding." Mischa@crystyl:"How long until they are in range for a more detailed scan?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "Conducting a detailed scan now." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "I am detecting only twenty-one lifesigns. They are operating on a skeletal crew. Their shields and weapons are down, multiple power fluctuations in several phaser arrays, though no - NPC@annpc#557 - apparent damage has been sustained. Their warp field appears to also be unstable." NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "They're dropping out of warp now. Imperial ships are moving to intercept." Mischa@crystyl:"Still no communication?" NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph: "Negative, Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "Their warp field has failed. They've dropped out of warp near one of the moons of Rator VI." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Romulan ships are surrounding them now." NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "Shall I take us in closer?" Mischa@crystyl:"Keep us in range to act if needed. But I see no reason to tread on the Romulans toes yet" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "Aye Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | The Latenter moves in closer, and are soon close enough to magnify an image of the Andorian ship NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/yaP911x.png NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "These power fluctuations are pretty serious..." Mischa@crystyl:"Heading for a breach?" NPC@annpc#557 | Indeed, the lights of the Andorian ship appear to be flashing NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "Not yet, but the warp systems are certainly being affected." NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph: "The light changes are not the result of power fluctuations." Mischa@crystyl:"You see a pattern?" NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph nods, "They are Morse code, Commander. It is repeating- Do. Not. Fire." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Why would they be using an old Earth code for Romulans?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "Perhaps they do not know Romulan code." Mischa@crystyl:"How unusual for a vessel of non-Earth origin to be utilizing that old code. I can't imagine even many Human officers would know of it these days" Mischa@crystyl:"And yes, perhaps it is all they know, but at best they could hope for the Romulans to recognize it as a fixed pattern and give pause for thought. Send a message to the lead Romulan vessel with the - Mischa@crystyl:- deciphered morse code analysis" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria nods and taps her console NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "The Romulans are holding position around the Andorian vessel with shields raised, but they have deactivated weapons lock." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "The message is changing." She raises a brow, then looks to T'Fel NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel also raises a brow, looking to Glyph NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph: "Yes?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Is it saying what I believe it is saying?" NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph: "What do you believe they are saying?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Mischa." Mischa@crystyl looks over, "...T'Fel...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph: "Unless this is a different code, the chances of which are astronomically low, it does appear to be spelling the Commander's name." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Most curious." Mischa@crystyl:"Curious is one word for it. This could of course be an attempt to lure us out for ambush" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Should we hail them? We can do it without decloaking and revealing our location." Mischa@crystyl:"It's worth a try" she nods NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria nods, "Hailing them now." NPC@annpc#557 | Glyph: "New message from the lights, Commander. Secure comms channel, virus aboard." Mischa@crystyl looks to Victoria, "Can you provide adequate screening?" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Let's get Acey out again, just in case. You know what they say about fighting fire with fire." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "I do not believe that saying has a positive connotation." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "You get what I mean!" Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Alright, I'll head out with Acey. Seems only right to answer personally in this case" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa heads out with Acey in the Dart... NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I have a secure communications channel ready, Commander. I suggest hailing them rather than trying to board. I will do my best to keep the virus at bay. In the worst case scenario, I - NPC@annpc#557 - will transport you back to the Latenter, transfer myself into another Dart and leave this to the virus, though hopefully it will not have to come to that." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "Just make sure to protect yourself first and foremost. Open the channel" NPC@annpc#557 | The channel opens and to Mischa's surprise, she sees a familiar face appear on the console wearing a gold Starfleet uniform NPC@annpc#557 | Officer: "Mischa. Thank goodness I was right. It's me, Commander McLafferty. We served together on the Endeavour back during the Iconian War." Mischa@crystyl:"Commander. This is quite unexpected" NPC@annpc#557 | McLafferty is of course a few years older than she last remembers, but he looks even older than he should be. His facial hair looks like it's been growing untended for a month, while he was - NPC@annpc#557 - always clean-shaven when she knew him on the Endeavour. His uniform is scruffy and he has no combadge on, and his face as a whole conveys a sense of worry NPC@annpc#557 | McLafferty: "I heard you were out here, I'm glad my information was right. I know I'm probably disrupting an operation, and I'm sorry, but I have no choice. There's no one else to turn to, - NPC@annpc#557 - you're the only one I can trust who's close enough to do something." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "The virus is beginning its assault. I am working to counter it." Mischa@crystyl:"First things first. My presence here is highly classified even with Intelligence. In Command, you have no access to information even tying me to the Latenter. So how exactly did you know to come - Mischa@crystyl:- looking for me here of all places, especially when my last association with Command was the other side of the galaxy?" NPC@annpc#557 | McLafferty: "There's a group of us within the Federation who're growing wise to the conspiracy, including your friends on the other side of the galaxy. They told me you could be trusted, along - NPC@annpc#557 - with the Justicar and the Romulans. But the Romulans are preoccupied and the Justicar isn't exactly welcome in Federation space right now. The others who they know for a fact can be trusted - NPC@annpc#557 - are also too far to be reached or too dangerous to contact." Mischa@crystyl:"Well, that is certainly quite the story. And your words carry heavy implications however viewed. What of this virus, can it be purged? Or do we need to evacuate and scuttle your ship?" NPC@annpc#557 | McLafferty: "No, we've tried everything we can. This virus is much more resilient than the Iconian ones back in the war. Can you get a lock on us?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Yes...no, they've just raised shields." Mischa@crystyl:"We could, if you didn't have your shields up Commander..." NPC@annpc#557 | McLafferty: "That wasn't me. They're getting more and more control by the minute." An alarm begins blaring behind him NPC@annpc#557 | McLafferty sighs, "I knew th...be a one way tr..." NPC@annpc#557 | The comm starts breaking up Mischa@crystyl:"Acey, suggestions?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Their core is starting to go critical. The Latenter could open fire with the antiproton beam, strip their shields and then transport them, but I don't think it will be that easy. - NPC@annpc#557 - Commander, this is the virus from the temporal ship." Mischa@crystyl:"It's better than nothing at least. Relay the instructions" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods Mischa@crystyl:"McLafferty if you can still hear me, we're going to try and force your shields down. If you have the capacity, get out with evac pods too. This virus will not make it easy" NPC@annpc#557 | McLafferty: "Lis...don't have much time...-covered evidence of a plot to kill...seize power...the highest levels of the Feder-... If they suc...could declare you and any... They're going to - NPC@annpc#557 - hit... -to Sector 001 and-" NPC@annpc#557 | The comm cuts completely. The Latenter fires its antiproton beam, stripping the Andorian vessel's shields, but then a flash of light consumes the ship Mischa@crystyl sighs, "Scan for survivors" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Scanning. No lifesigns detected among the debris, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"It was too much to hope for. What about the virus, are you secure now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "That is the one piece of good news I can provide. My adaptations since my previous experience with the virus appears to be sufficient to ward it off." Mischa@crystyl:"That is something at least. We'll scour the debris for any salvageable data cores too. Unlikely, and even if there is something it is likely infected. But we must be thorough" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I will check the debris, and then conduct a full diagnostic before returning to the Latenter. I hope you do not mind being confined within the Dart for the time being. Transporting you - NPC@annpc#557 - back bears the risk of spreading the virus to the Latenter through the transporter data, if some trace of it does remain within my systems." Mischa@crystyl:"I am in no rush, take your time. I still want you to prioritize protecting your own code from this virus" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods, "Understood. I believe it is also appropriate to express condolences for the loss of your friend. Or an acquaintance. I am unsure which term applies here." Mischa@crystyl:"Acquaintance would be more appropriate. We were friends when we served together, but that was a long time ago" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "I see. I am sorry we were not able to extract him in time." Mischa@crystyl:"As am I. But it is important that we do not allow ourselves to dwell on regret. The best we can do for him now is to make sure that this does not go to waste. They were clearly exposed to the - Mischa@crystyl:- conspiracy, and learned enough that they felt compelled to go to such as extremes as they clearly had. They sacrificed themselves to deliver this message to us, to me. It was /that/ important to - Mischa@crystyl:- them to complete this objective. So we can not let them down" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "Understood, Commander." --- NPC@annpc#557 | After a sweep of the Andorian cruiser's debris, Acey is unable to locate anything useful. Returning to the Latenter, Mischa gathers the senior staff in the meeting room to discuss the - NPC@annpc#557 - new development... Mischa@crystyl:"...and so in a nutshell, that's all we know. Acey, please replay McLafferty's final message" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey flickers into existence on the other end of the table, "Since the virus was using the comm channel as its means of assault, I was unable to record the message directly, as all communications - NPC@annpc#557 - data had to be deleted. However, my memory does possess a record of the words that were discernible through the interference. I hope that will suffice, Commander?" Mischa@crystyl nods, "That is why I am relying on you. Every word in crucial when it is so broken and so I do not wish to solely rely on my own recollection of the general message" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey nods back, "The message was as follows: Listen. Don't have much time. Covered evidence of a plot to kill. Seize power. The highest levels of the Feder-, either Federation or federal, but - NPC@annpc#557 - the meaning would be identical in this case. If they succeed. Could declare you and any. They're going to hit. To Sector 001 and." NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "That is all I was able to comprehend from the message. I have filled in some incomplete segments, where the meaning could not possibly be mistaken from what we do have. The rest I have - NPC@annpc#557 - repeated exactly as Commander McLafferty said." Mischa@crystyl:"Thank you Acey" she looks around the table, "So right now, that is all we have to go on" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "It sounds like the temporal infiltrators are planning to take full control of the Federation. But we're missing some key details. This looks like it's going to involve removing - NPC@annpc#557 - certain people from power, but we don't know who they're going to hit and where." Mischa@crystyl:"Furthermore there seems to be mention of a plan to incriminate us, or at least me personally. The context is uncertain at present. But to do so would mean an actual assassination, not just - Mischa@crystyl:- replacing somebody. With mention of the Federation and Sector 001 I believe we must at least account for a worst case scenario, which I would take to be an attempt on the Presidents life to frame - Mischa@crystyl:- us for" NPC@annpc#557 | Buena nods, "It's possible. There's another potential high-value target that could fit, though." Mischa@crystyl:"I'm sure there are countless which could fit. But I am curious, from what little we have so far, which springs to mind for you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Buena: "Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn. He oversees the Starfleet operations in Sector 001, which could explain why McLafferty explicitly mentioned that, but also- he has a heart condition and is - NPC@annpc#557 - slated to undergo an operation three months from now. With a well-placed infiltrator in Starfleet Medical, that would be a good opportunity to assassinate him." Mischa@crystyl:"That is certainly a possibility. One so vulnerable could make an easy target for them. Anyone else care to weigh in at this point?" NPC@annpc#557 | Hassan: "There's no other obvious targets I can think of. Sector 001 is home to a number of high-ranking Federation and Starfleet officials. Their targets could be any of them." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "So what's our next move? Continue hunting Viria, head straight back for Sector 001, or investigate this plot further before we take any action?" Mischa@crystyl:"That is the question we are here to answer. Right now, Quinn is the only one with a foreseeable timetable. We could work to that and continue our investigation before acting. But every day of - Mischa@crystyl:- inaction is another day we fall further behind the game. That said, rushing in without any intelligence to work from is certainly not our way of working either" NPC@annpc#557 | Acey: "My calculations also indicate that Quinn is the most likely target. Or at the very least, he is most likely /a/ target. If there are other targets, the timetable of the assassinations - NPC@annpc#557 - will be placed close to his as to not provide any chance to respond with additional security. His operation would make for an ideal 'deadline' for any investigation." Mischa@crystyl:"Then let us do what we do best and get in front of a threat before it comes to bear" NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria nods, "So where should we start our investigation?" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "I might have an idea." NPC@annpc#557 | The other senior officers look to him Mischa@crystyl looks as well in anticipation NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "Yes, I know, my suggestions are usually technical, but I'm not /just/ an engineer," he chuckles. "And this isn't exactly unrelated either. You remember our discussion about temporal - NPC@annpc#557 - shielding, how it could protect us from timeline changes if we can detect them fast enough?" Mischa@crystyl:"Of course" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "I've been making progress with building a timeline monitor, but even if we have one fully constructed, I'm not sure it'll detect any changes fast enough for us to react and raise - NPC@annpc#557 - shields. Not with the tech I'm working with, at least. We need someone who can instinctively sense these changes and act on them immediately, rather than relying on sensor systems. And I found - NPC@annpc#557 - someone. An El-Aurian living with a pre-warp civilization on a world in the NGC-5017 system." Mischa@crystyl:"An El-Aurian living with a pre-warp civilization? That seems rather unorthodox. But you believe recruiting this individual will allow you to more effectively use the temporal shielding in line with- Mischa@crystyl:- this current investigation, how so exactly?" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "Two reasons. According to Federation records, this El-Aurian was an investigator before the Borg destroyed their people and might have talents that could help this investigation and - NPC@annpc#557 - our operations in general. And secondly, NGC-5017 isn't far from Deep Space 16, where Commander Tarasenko is based. She's a good friend of Commander Reyes, cooperated with us during our search - NPC@annpc#557 - for the Justicar, and most importantly, is an active member of Starfleet Security. We might not have been framed for whatever's about to happen yet, but the infiltrators almost certainly have - NPC@annpc#557 - their eyes on us. Tarasenko might be able to give us a way in." Mischa@crystyl:"That is fair, but as I understand it temporal shielding makes us immune to changes in the timeline. Which means the changes still occur, so without a means to backtrack and correct changes where - Mischa@crystyl:- exactly does this lead us?" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "The technological-based temporal monitor and scanner will still need to be completed. That can help us pinpoint what the changes are, without needing help from friends in the future - NPC@annpc#557 - or fumbling around an alternate timeline looking for that information like we had to last time. But if we can't protect ourselves from the change, all that will be meaningless anyways." Mischa@crystyl:"So getting our tech to this point should empower us to better predict the changes before they occur? Very well, this seems like our best way forward" NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "And we're on a short timetable, so I thought with both the El-Aurian and Commander Tarasenko in relatively close proximity, we could head to that sector and get both of them." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "That's an engineer's efficiency for you. We'll set course immediately"