Yet another version of Rianni appears on the Valley Forge, though Emma seems to be the only one able to see her...
Rianni@crystyl | Stardate 93707.9 - six years ago Rianni@crystyl | Alpha 7192 Sector Rianni@crystyl | Through the endless expanse of deep space, 5 specks of light zoom slowly come into focus as we look closer and close Rianni@crystyl | One; a strange alien vessel with a squared frontage to a cylindrical rear Rianni@crystyl | The second - a similar aesthetic but on a much smaller triangular profile Rianni@crystyl | The other three, noticeably further away, bear the distinct silhouette of Starfleet cruisers Rianni@crystyl | The lead Starfleet vessel comes into centre frame, revealing the name Gainsborough spread across the front of the capital ship's saucer, right as a brilliant flash of white light strikes the - Rianni@crystyl:- forward section with only a slight ripple as it passes through the shields Rianni@crystyl | Panning around we see one of the supporting Starfleet cruisers already without power and surrounded by its own debris as it lists to one side, evidently struck already by the same weapon which - Rianni@crystyl:- we can see emanated from the gargantuan alien vessel while the small triangular one sits nose to nose with the now paralyzed Gainsborough Rianni@crystyl | Zooming in though the elaborate bay window of the Gainsborough into a sea of chaos, we see multiple flag officers all scrambling to do their duty and assist the struggling ship Rianni@crystyl | Lights and console flicker as desperately as the officers trying to use them, yet the relentless dim red pulsing of the red alert never seems to falter; taunting the crew with it's relentlessness- Rianni@crystyl:- even when facing shipwide power failures... Rianni@crystyl:| Through the dim lights and chaotic flickering of systems, we see the first to be heard over the chaos... Rianni@crystyl:Mana@anncarise: "Something is downloading Gainsborough's information..." Rianni@crystyl:Sara Desimone@kipstermick: "Shuttles getting back - no lifesigns amidst the wreckage." Rianni@crystyl:Mischa@crystyll: "Cut it off, do whatever it takes Mana" Rianni@crystyl | Seeing the familiar face of Mischa in the less familiar black uniform clearly struggle to take command of the situation (organizing senior officers in an emergency is like herding cats after - Rianni@crystyl:- all...), we gain a brief glimpse into one of the regular characters' less composed moments, short lived though it is. For just as we get a glimpse of Mischa, we quickly turn and focus closely on - Rianni@crystyl:- another face... Rianni@crystyl:Ash@thecastellan is looking at the screen, shouts out "Brace for impact!" Rianni@crystyl | The bridge rocks, shaking everyone from their feet briefly with the impact. Though the sensation visibly worsens before it gets better, a familiar sensation to those less fortunate enough to have- Rianni@crystyl:- experienced it before... Rianni@crystyl | Skipping to an exterior view once more, we see the beam finish striking the forward section of the saucer, slicing away a chunk of several decks and causing a ripple of explosive decompressions - Rianni@crystyl:- one after the other in a ring around 1/4 of the saucer, the results sending the already powerless and wounded Gainsborough into a lazy list of her own Rianni@crystyl | https://pre00.deviantart.net/ec96/th/pre/f/2016/361/5/a/gainsborough_dead_copy_by_legacycloud-dat28n8.jpg Rianni@crystyl | Fading back to the interior, we find ourselves in a corridor deeper within the ship. The same failing systems and red alert lighting setting the tone here the same as the bridge. Panicked - Rianni@crystyl:- officers and crew scramble in all directions, trying desperately to perform their duties Rianni@crystyl | We briefly follow one enlisted engineer as he darts around one person after the next, clinging like his life depended on it to a tool case. He turns a corner and his shoulder slams into a blue - Rianni@crystyl:- blur, sending a cadet tumbling to the ground. With no time to be nice, he doesn't even slow down and keeps running, or perhaps adrenaline made him oblivious to it. But one person who could not - Rianni@crystyl:- ignore the collision as the dazed cadet now crumpled in surprise on the floor... Rianni@crystyl shakes herself loose to snap her mind back into focus and stop her eyes spinning. She grabs the wall and pulls herself back to her feet, looking around to get her bearings again Rianni@crystyl | Another crew member - this one in a LT's uniform comes running up to her, "Cadet! What are you standing around here for?! You should be with your classmates at the emergency muster point!" Rianni@crystyl rubs at the bruise on the back of her head, "Y- yes Sir, I..." she looks around Rianni@crystyl | The officer sighs, clearly seeing that she is lost and confused, and quite possibly injured, "Come on, it's not far" he grabs her wrist to keep her close and hurries off towards said muster point- Rianni@crystyl:- in a tertiary forward lounge... Rianni@crystyl - now much more recognizable as her younger self, mid to late teens, scurries along to hold pace with the officer; eyes scanning in all directions just to try and comprehend what she was seeing Rianni@crystyl | They come within sight of the lounge entrance, when the now familiar bright flash of the alien weapon fills our vision even deep within the ship here, and we see the same second strike but from - Rianni@crystyl:- inside now Rianni@crystyl & her escort are thrown off their feet as the very hallway around them explodes. Bulkheads tear themselves apart and everything becomes obscured by a sea of gasses from the damaged systems Rianni@crystyl groans as she once again finds herself thrown painfully to the floor, feeling at least as wounded as she appears now if not moreso. The world is a blur and all she can hear is a ringing in her ears- Rianni@crystyl:- with everything else sounding somehow distant and distorted. Until she feels a sharp, but not violent slap to her cheek Rianni@crystyl | The escorting officer's face slowly comes back into focus right in front of her own as he holds her chin firm. She can make out his mouth moving, but all she hears is the ringing Rianni@crystyl | The officer grabs her arms and pulls her to her feet, pushing her upright against the battered wall behind them as he shouts to her more and slowly becomes audible Rianni@crystyl | Officer: "Cadet? Cadet, come on stay with me!" Rianni@crystyl feels like her eyes are dancing circles through her whole skull, but somehow manages to bring him into focus, at least enough to comprehend him. She can now see the fizzing electric blue of an - Rianni@crystyl:- emergency forcefield just beyond them, where the emergency muster point is - or rather, was... Rianni@crystyl | Mischa's voice begins to echo through the halls, crackling through what remains of the internal comm system, "All hands - XO - Abandon ship; repeat... abandon ship" Rianni@crystyl | The voice repeats over and over again whilst the walls of the corridor begin popping open to reveal escape pods. And as quick as they do, they fill up with desperate crew Rianni@crystyl | Beyond the emergency forcefield, the first wave of escape pods can be seen jetting away from the Gainsborough, and quickly popping into small fiery explosions as they are cut down Rianni@crystyl | Even the composed officer trying to help Rianni now seems panicked, grabbing her once more, "Come on!" he runs again - faster than before - trying to get them to an escape pod Rianni@crystyl 's gaze drifts back one final time to the emergency forcefield, her mind stuck on the thought of all her classmates who just moments before were gathered beyond it Rianni@crystyl | The pair scramble through debris and over the bodies of less fortunate crew who have already fallen victim to circumstance through one explosion or another Rianni@crystyl | Elation takes over as an open escape pods comes into view, driving them to pick up their pace even more somehow despite already going as fast as they could Rianni@crystyl | But then as they draw close, they too fall victim as the failing systems finally lose their battle to remain stable and part of the EPS grid behind the wall next to them explodes out of nowhere Rianni@crystyl lands in the entrance to the escape pod, coughing painfully as her lungs fight the plasma gasses slowly burning them from within. She tries to move and winces at what feels like a broken arm Rianni@crystyl looks around to see the charred body of the escorting officer laying still on the floor nearby Rianni@crystyl crawls over and pushes him onto his back, almost recoiling with instinctive fear at the sight of his face half burned away from the plasma. It was clear now he had turned with the explosion to - Rianni@crystyl:- try and shield her from it Rianni@crystyl sniffles, and quickly wipes the tears from her eyes with a torn and dirty sleeve of her tunic, pushing the officer with her working arm to wake him... Rianni@crystyl cries and screams at him, "NO!" pushing again and again hysterically, still to no avail... Rianni@crystyl could not tell if he was dead or just unconscious, but in that moment crunched her face with angry resolve. She hooked her arm around his and strained with all her might to crawl backwards into the- Rianni@crystyl:- escape pod Rianni@crystyl | Grimacing and grunting as she tries to maneuver the dead weight of the heavier man, she refuses to give up. With one final yell of adrenaline she hauls him completely inside the pod Rianni@crystyl collapses next to him and reaches over to slam the emergency launch button Rianni@crystyl | As she does, another violent explosion erupts from right opposite the escape pod hatch. The hatch closes in time to keep out the worst of the gasses, but not before she is sent tumbling around - Rianni@crystyl:- the cramped interior, an effect exacerbated by the rapid launch of the pod, causing her tumble around before finally landing upside down with her middle of her back snapping across the forward - Rianni@crystyl:- edge of the control panel Rianni@crystyl had no idea what happened, only that she heard the haunting crack of bone before her vision blurred and finally she found tranquility in the nothingness of her mind... Rianni@crystyl | Going back to a view from outside, we see the escape pod tumble uncontrolled out of it's launch. Others shoot out around it, though most had already left by this point. Pods all around them can - Rianni@crystyl:- still be seen exploding as they are identified by the alien vessel and destroyed. But after the initial launch left Rianni's pod with nobody at the controls, it drifted powerless and avoided - Rianni@crystyl:- attention... Rianni@crystyl | We again see the Gainsborough, at first listing heavily but then it is clear... the ship is not simply listing, but is turned to present it's entire dorsal section towards the enemy vessels, - Rianni@crystyl:- creating a clear barrier between them and the remaining escape pods Rianni@crystyl | The alien vessels finally turn away, emitting another beam energy from their bow and creating an aperture to a wormhole Rianni@crystyl | As the gargantuan alien ships cruises through the wreckage of the Starfleet convoy, the familiar profile of the Valley Forge is seen rapidly closing in the distance Rianni@crystyl | It is too late however as the alien vessels soon disappear into the aperture, along with much of the debris, and many of the escape pods... Rianni@crystyl | Inside one particular and powerless escape pod, two unconscious - presumably at this point, dead - bodies rattle around while the colourful wormhole visual flashes what would otherwise be a - Rianni@crystyl:- beautiful sea of colour across the interior of the pod Rianni@crystyl | In the distance ahead of the pod, the wormhole begins to vanish. Like a wall of black nothingness closing in on the escape pod, it rapidly draws closer to normal space, even if not a proper exit - Rianni@crystyl:- aperture Rianni@crystyl | Inside, there is brief but distinct flash of light around Rianni's body right at the moment the pod re-emerges into normal space, she appears no different from the flash; only a final tear of - Rianni@crystyl:- regret rolling from her now lifeless eye before it rolls back into her head. And there the pod remained, becoming increasingly distant and insignificant as we slowly draw further and further away - Rianni@crystyl:- until it is indistinguishable from distant stars, and then not even noticeable as one of them... Rianni@crystyl | As we fade away from the heartbreaking view, we still manage to just catch the glimpse of a warp trail approaching the pod, but nothing more as our view continues to fade to black. Bloody directors... --- Rianni@crystyl | Present day - Somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant Rianni@crystyl | Fading back in, we again see what appears to be the inside of a wormhole, though not quite the same perhaps Rianni@crystyl | The Valley Forge & convoy cruise along calmly through the subspace corridor towards Dominion space Rianni@crystyl | Inside, it's just another day; a stark contrast to the last Starfleet interior we saw, this corridor feels bright and warm. Crew stroll about, some stopping for casual chats along the way Rianni@crystyl | ENS Emma Ralde strolls down the corridor, smiling to friends in passing and sharing some brief but clearly welcome dialogue with others before coming to a stop at a turbolift where she presses - Rianni@crystyl - the button and waits happily Rianni@crystyl is revealed standing inside the lift when the door opens NPC@annpc#557 | Emma beams, "Hey Rianni! Fancy running into you here!" Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Hey! Fancy seeing you here!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma waves to her friends down the hall and steps into the lift, "Where're you going?" Rianni@crystyl hrms, "Nowhere really, just roaming! You?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I was just heading back to our quarters to see if you were there. But since we're both here now, I might as well roam with you!" Rianni@crystyl:"Alright then!" she stops and cheerily hums a little before randomly asking, "Do you ever feel like you're going the wrong way though?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma gives Rianni a curious look, "Um...sometimes? More often when I just got on the ship...why?" Rianni@crystyl | Before Rianni responds, Emma's attention is drawn briefly to the opening doors. When she glances back, Rianni isn't standing beside her in the lift NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "...Rianni?" She looks around the lift for her Rianni@crystyl peers in from outside, "Hey!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Wait, when did you get out there?" Rianni@crystyl:"Um... just... now?" she gives Emma a curious tilted glance Rianni@crystyl | Eagle-eyed viewers might - at this time - notice that Rianni is only /now/ wearing her modern day uniform... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks to where Rianni was standing beside her before, then back to Rianni outside the door, "Nevermind...let's get roaming!" Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Roaming, is it? Alright then, lead on!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma steps out of the lift with one last glance to the lift before leading on --- Rianni@crystyl | The next morning, having put yesterday's confusion out of her mind, Emma wakes for a later shift and eagerly heads out to make her way to the bridge, knowing that Rianni should be up and about - Rianni@crystyl - already so with a chance to see her. She thoughtlessly enters the turbolift when it comes and begins the trip to the bridge Rianni@crystyl | Emma happily minds her own business until the lift stops at an earlier call and the door opens Rianni@crystyl steps in, "Hello again!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Hey Rianni! Heading to the bridge too?" Rianni@crystyl:"Sure" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Turbolift's already heading there so don't have to call out a new destination!" Rianni@crystyl:"That is always handy isn't it!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles, "So how's your shift been so far?" Rianni@crystyl:"Has something shifted?" she looks down, straightening her uniform NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "No, I mean your duty sh-" she looks over at Rianni and double-takes. "Um...why are you wearing your old cadet uniform?" Rianni@crystyl looks it over again, "Is there something wrong with it? Oh at least I didn't forget my skirt, no living nightmare this time!" she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "No, you look good in it, but...aren't you supposed to be on duty and wearing your current uniform?" Rianni@crystyl simply smiles back NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Okay..." She stares at Rianni with confusion for a moment longer before turning to the door Rianni@crystyl:"Don't you ever wonder if you might be going the wrong way?" she asks, just like last time NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks back to Rianni with clear concern, "Is something on your mind, Rianni?" Rianni@crystyl stands square in front of Emma, alarmingly so given Emma's concern no doubt, "What if we're lost, what if we're going the wrong way?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Why do you keep asking me that? What's going on?" Rianni@crystyl steps closer, backing Emma towards the wall of the lift, "I think we're going the wrong way" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma slowly backs into the wall, "What do you mean by that? You're scaring me, Rianni..." Rianni@crystyl continues to pin Emma against the wall, getting right in her face, "We're going the wrong way!" Rianni@crystyl | As Rianni gets truly scary, for a flash of a second Emma sees Rianni as we did at the end of the cutscene; battered, bleeding and violently dead NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Rianni, please! Stop!" Rianni@crystyl | As Emma pleads and pushes Rianni away, the door opens onto the bridge. And in that brief split second of noticing the doors open, Rianni has once again vanished on her NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks around the lift, "Gisjacheh! What was that...?" Rianni@crystyl looks across the turbolift as the doors open to Emma's Orion profanity, "Um... Emma, you ok?" Rianni@crystyl | The rest of the bridge crew all look over with slight concern / curiosity too NPC@annpc#557 | Emma spins around, "Rianni! You're...in your usual uniform." Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Well I am on duty! What else would I be wearing?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Were you on the bridge this whole time?" Rianni@crystyl looks around, "Um... yes..." heading over with growing concern, "Emma, are you alright?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Something really weird is going on. You...or at least someone or something that looked like you was in that lift with me. But you were in a cadet uniform, and acting all...strange." Rianni@crystyl:"Strange... how exactly?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah joins them at this point as well, just hovering and listening for the moment NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "You keep saying something about going the wrong way?" Rianni@crystyl:"I do?" she looks to Keelah with worried eyes Rianni@crystyl | Keelah looks to Emma after giving lennie a glance to start checks, "Tell us exactly what happened" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I was in the lift on my way here. Then the door opened and Rianni walked in. Or whoever it was that looked like Rianni..." she glances back to Rianni, "It couldn't be you if you were up - NPC@annpc#557 - the whole time. We started talking and I suddenly realized she was wearing a cadet uniform, not an officer one. I asked her about it, and that's when things started turning odd." Rianni@crystyl 's brow furrows with concern and she reaches to hold Emma's hand reassuringly Rianni@crystyl | Keelah perks a brow, "She entered the lift dressed as a cadet, but then after that was when things started turning... 'odd'?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "She asked me something about thinking if I'm going the wrong way. Then that turned to her asserting we're going the wrong way. And she cornered me in the lift and looked all...injured - NPC@annpc#557 - for a moment." Rianni@crystyl:"Injured?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Like physically hurt, with blood and everything. It was really frightening. But it was just a moment, I don't remember much detail. Then the doors opened and you...she was gone." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Now that I think of it, something similar happened yesterday. Just, that time was less...intense." Rianni@crystyl:"Oh Emma..." she pouts, hugging her tightly NPC@annpc#557 | Emma hugs Rianni back tightly Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "This isn't the first time this has happened? Why did not you report anything before?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma pulls away, looking to Keelah, "I didn't know it wasn't the real Rianni. And she wasn't cornering me in the lift that time, she just asked those same questions about going the wrong way. - NPC@annpc#557 - I can't remember if she was in a cadet uniform too or not that time. The doors opened and she seemed to disappear, but I saw Rianni outside right after- the real Rianni. I didn't know that - NPC@annpc#557 - at the time, I kind of just presumed she slipped out of the lift when I wasn't looking. The questions were kind of weird, though it wasn't anything worth reporting..." Rianni@crystyl | Lennie calls over, "Nothin' untoward on internal sensors Cap'n; shows Emma alone in th'lift just now too" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah hrms, "Alright Ensign, we'll get to the bottom of this. But first things first; sickbay. We're not presuming anything is wrong with you, but we can't ignore the fact that this has occurred - Rianni@crystyl:- twice now. Whatever happened, there may be some unseen link to you. So off you go, Eva can cover your shift here for now" Rianni@crystyl looks to Keelah. Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods, not needing to be asked, "As soon as you've got cover to your station you are excused as well. But right now I need you up here checking over security" Rianni@crystyl nods back, "Of course Captain" looking to Emma with another squeeze of her hand, "I'll catch up to you there ok" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles back, "I'll see you there, Rianni." She returns to the lift, sending it down to sickbay and looking around uneasily, alert for any Creepy Riannis Rianni@crystyl | Emma is spared the emotional trauma on this occasion NPC@annpc#557 | Emma steps into sickbay, looking for Kazra or any other medical staff that might be around Rianni@crystyl | Kazra steps out from behind a console, "Hello Ensign. The Captain said to expect you, what exactly is the problem?" she asks with the tone, where she knows exactly what is going on but wants to - Rianni@crystyl:- hear it from Emma anyway NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I keep running into...I'm not sure what they are. Hallucinations, telepathic projections? It can't be the second one, we have our implants... But they're Rianni, acting very strangely - NPC@annpc#557 - and talking about going the wrong way." Rianni@crystyl | Kazra nods absently as she listens while waving a medical tricorder around in Emma's face, "Mhmm, mhmm... How exactly was this vision acting strangely?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "She was wearing her cadet uniform for one. And then there were those questions about going the wrong way and getting lost, which turned into her yelling about how we're going the wrong - NPC@annpc#557 - way. That time she also looked like she was hurt and bleeding for a split second at the end there before the doors opened. It was in the lift both times, and she always disappears when the - NPC@annpc#557 - doors open." Rianni@crystyl | Kazra, "Alright, well I'll leave others to investigate the lifts. Let us focus on you for now shall we! Hop up on a bed for me, we're going to have give you a full check over so make yourself - Rianni@crystyl:- comfy" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods and lies down on a bed, "Scan away, doctor. Goddess knows I'm used to it by now..." she chuckles slightly Rianni@crystyl | Kazra smiles sympathetically as she gets to work --- Rianni@crystyl | Back on the bridge, Keelah watches Rianni return to her station with a concerned gaze before joining Lennie, "Nothing at all out of the ordinary then?" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie shakes her head, also watching Rianni feeling sympathetic, "Nothin'" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "It sounds like it might be something trying to telepathically contact Emma, it would explain why it took the image of Rianni. But we've got our implants, and I don't sense any presence - NPC@annpc#557 - in or around the ship that shouldn't be here." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah, "Keep focused on the unusual, just in case. Whatever we are dealing with here it might present evidence seemingly unrelated" Rianni@crystyl looks over, "Do you suspect outside influence?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah hrms, "... we can't rule anything out. Are you aware of any unusual circumstances with Emma herself?" Rianni@crystyl shakes her head, "No Captain, she certainly hasn't mentioned anything and besides just now she's been her usual self" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "There's the new Orionoid tha' came on board, the Esana lady. But we didn't give her one o' the implants, did we?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah shakes her head, "No we did not" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Even if she has the psionic ability to contact Emma that way, she wouldn't be able to without an implant set to our frequency." NPC@annpc#557 | Ann nods, "She has been talkin' with Emma, so I thought 'bout her. But she doesn't look like the malicious sort." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Could it be that - whoever is doing this, assuming an outside influence - is using some other form of telepathic-like connection that is not in line with the form our implants give - Rianni@crystyl:- protection against?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "It's possible that it's not using psionic telepathy, but some other unknown method. There's none that we're aware of which wouldn't have shown up on sensors. Pheromones and ultrasonics - NPC@annpc#557 - all have the ability to affect the mind and if done right, induce hallucinations, but we should be able to pick them up on sensors if they're heavy enough to be having that effect." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "But just because we're not aware of a method that fits doesn't mean there isn't one." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Well keep searching for other explanations, I'm going to speak to the rest of the fleet just in case this phenomena isn't isolated" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "We'll keep looking, Captain. And that's a good point...we should put out a notice to see if anyone else on the ship's been experiencing anything like that." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods, "Please see to it" and heads off to her ready room Rianni@crystyl watches and sighs, feeling especially useless NPC@annpc#557 | Ann glances back, "Y'alright, Rianni?" Rianni@crystyl leans on her console and sighs again, "Would you be?" she asks with a very forced smile NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "If it were Lennie...probably not." She taps on her console a bit more, "Wonder if it's got to do with the subspace tunnel. Tha' wrong way stuff Emma's talkin' 'bout, maybe a subspace - NPC@annpc#557 - entity wants us gone?" Rianni@crystyl looks up, the idea dawning on her, "Stars... and this Emma we're talking about after all!" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie: "Tha' girl does have her own special flavour o'strange goin' on when it comes t'subspace" Rianni@crystyl looks back, "Commander-?" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie doesn't need Rianni to finish asking, "I'm-a gonna look into it for ya, o'course. But this's well over mah head mostly. Goddess, Emma's th'one I'd-a normally turn to wit'questions about - Rianni@crystyl:- this sorta thing!" Rianni@crystyl hrms, trying to think of ideas through an emotionally clouded mind NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Maybe one o' the Coalition crew on the Aethon could help." Rianni@crystyl:"I'll see if I can run down a list of available specialists on the subject" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie: "Don't worry hun, we'll get this figured out for her!" Rianni@crystyl smiles with renewed hope and purpose as she gets to work, eager to finish and go check on Emma --- Keelah@crystyl following a good few hours of fruitless investigation, Keelah stops by sickbay to check on Emma Keelah@crystyl sees that Kazra is working quietly in her office and so heads over to Emma instead, "Ensign. How are you doing?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma sits on the bed, reading from a PADD. She sets it down as the doors slide open and looks to Keelah, "Hey Captain. I take it you didn't find any telepathic entities or anything that might - NPC@annpc#557 - be responsible for what I saw yet?" Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "I am sorry, but no. That does not mean there are not answers to be found though, so do not give up hope" she offers with a reassuring smile NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "I thought it wouldn't be that easy. Kazra hasn't managed to find anything on scans here, either. I'd ask to go back to quarters, but that involves going through a turbolift..." she - NPC@annpc#557 - frowns NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra steps out of her office, having heard the door open as well, "Keelah. I'm afraid I've got nothing to report here. Well, plenty to report- Emma's healthy, her implant's working fine, no - NPC@annpc#557 - sign of telepathic influence in her brain, completely normal neurology. Nothing that gives any clue as to what's going on." Keelah@crystyl:"Well if it comes to it, Ensign, you can always use the transporters. They may not be advisable for ship to ship while in this corridor, but internally it is not a problem. In fact I believe that is why- Keelah@crystyl:- Rianni isn't here now; I know she stopped by as soon as she got away from the bridge, but I believe she is investigating a lead that Ann put her on to" Keelah@crystyl turns to Kazra, "I know this won't be a welcome query, but are there any methods of investigation you might consider to identify anomalies not caught on normal scans?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra: "There's always telepathy. If we can't find any signs on scans, maybe a telepath could find out where this illusory Rianni came from through Emma's mind." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma meanwhile asks curiously, "What's Rianni looking into?" Keelah@crystyl turns back, "Ann gave her the idea that perhaps it is some phenomena related to this corridor. She's been trying to gather knowledgeable people to brainstorm. But as I said, transport is not easy so- Keelah@crystyl:- it is taking time for us to slow down and shuttle people around" Keelah@crystyl | As Keelah responds, Kazra turns to check the monitors. In doing so, CDT Rianni is revealed to have been standing behind Kazra NPC@annpc#557 | Emma leans forward, "...Rianni?" Keelah@crystyl looks around, not seeing of course Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni scowls, "Why are you wasting time here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "You're in a cadet uniform again." She looks to Keelah and Kazra, "You're not seeing her, are you?" Keelah@crystyl | Kazra looks around as well, then pays close attention to Emma's biobed monitor Keelah@crystyl & Kazra both shake their heads, "I take it you are seeing her again?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods and looks back to CDT Rianni, "What do you mean, I'm wasting my time here? What do you want me to do?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra: "I'm seeing brain activity and hormonal response relating to anxiety. Nothing particularly unusual, though." Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "Can't you feel it? I thought we had a connection! You said you would never let me be lost, but we're still going the wrong way!" she huffs, more upset than angry this time and spins- Keelah@crystyl:- around, walking away and disappearing around the corner NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I don't know what you mean by going the wrong way! I...aaand she's gone." Keelah@crystyl looks around again, brow perked as she turns back to Emma with an easing hand on her shoulder again, "That same comment again about going the wrong way?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "She seems upset and she said I'm wasting my time here." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma sighs, "I get the sense that she wants me to do something, but I can't understand what..." Keelah@crystyl:"This is feeling increasingly more likely to be some form of external influence. Doctor, if you are content that nothing can be learned from Emma's physiological response to these encounters and - Keelah@crystyl:- there is nothing to be done for Emma herself at the moment, any objection if she leaves your care for now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra shakes her head, "If scans aren't picking up anything in the moment she's seeing a hallucination, I doubt we're going to find anything more in here." Keelah@crystyl turns to Emma, "Then if you are feeling up to it Ensign, why don't you come join us for the staff briefing? Rianni should have just about finished gathering people by now, but since this phenomena - Keelah@crystyl:- is - for whatever reason - clearly linked to you specifically, I would feel better if you were a part of any discussion on it" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, hopping off the bed, "I was just going to ask whether I could see Rianni and discuss this. I know what I'm seeing isn't Rianni, but she said we have a connection and acts as if she - NPC@annpc#557 - should be Rianni, so I'm wondering if the real Rianni might have any more insight." Keelah@crystyl nods, "You do that then, and the two of you let me know when you're ready and we'll get everyone's heads together" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I'll go find her. And oh, Captain, you don't have to worry about ship to ship transporting, since she's apparently taken to appearing not just when I'm alone in the lift anymore..." Keelah@crystyl smiles and nods, "Whatever transpires, you know you have the full resources of the ship here to help. Remember that Ensign" and continues to head out --- NPC@annpc#557 | Emma makes her way into the hangar, looking around for Rianni Rianni@crystyl | Emma finds Rianni in one of the hangars, having just arrived back by shuttle she is just going through the process of locking the shuttle back down NPC@annpc#557 | Emma approaches, "Hey Rianni!" She takes a moment to examine her uniform. "Okay, it's the real you." Rianni@crystyl turns - a little surprised to see Emma suddenly - and pulls her into a big hug, "Emma!â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Emma beams and hugs Rianni back, "Keelah told me you were gathering some experts who might be able to help?" Rianni@crystyl:"That's my hope at least! I've no idea if this will even lead us anywhere, but we got the idea that maybe this was something to do with the corridor we're in. Since it's focused on you, and well... - Rianni@crystyl:- you and subspace anomalies..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "So that's what you're thinking. I'm the only one getting these...visions? Whatever they are, no one else seem to be seeing you or other people they're close with, so that makes - NPC@annpc#557 - sense." Rianni@crystyl:"It's the best way I could think of to try and help" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles, "Thanks. There might be one other way you could help, too." Rianni@crystyl perks up, "Really?!" Tightly gripping Emma's hands, "Please, anything I can do!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So whatever these hallucinations are, they're appearing as you. Which makes sense if it's some alien entity trying to communicate with me and just manifesting as someone close to me. - NPC@annpc#557 - Like the wisp-spirit-things on Belyia." Rianni@crystyl:"I suppose, I mean... if a wisp-spirit-thing wanted to get my attention, it would absolutely achieve that the best if it appeared as you" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "But that got me thinking...why the Cadet uniform? You were a cadet when we first met, but the very first time I remember seeing you was in the holodeck with that holo-me, wearing - NPC@annpc#557 - that 23rd century uniform. And while you were still a cadet on Belyia, we didn't have our uniforms there, and you got promoted not long after. Well, you disappeared to that Mirror ship first, - NPC@annpc#557 - but I didn't see you then. I'm pretty sure I've seen you in an officer's uniform longer than I've seen you in a Cadet one." Rianni@crystyl:"So then why is this... whatever it is now appearing in my cadet uniform...?" she questions, though more asking herself in tone NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's exactly what I was wondering! And it just appeared in the sickbay again and insisted that we have a connection, as if it actually wants me to believe that it's you. Maybe it - NPC@annpc#557 - means some other kind of connection, like through the mycelial network or something. But the Cadet uniform's oddly specific. Why that, and not the officer's uniform, or something you wore on - NPC@annpc#557 - Belyia, or even the 23rd century uniform you had in the holoprogram?" Rianni@crystyl:"Why indeed... I take it that there was nothing unusual about it that might give us more of a clue?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma shakes her head, "Nothing that I noticed. She keeps talking about going the wrong way and getting lost. It might be a long shot, but I was wondering if you might have some insight on what - NPC@annpc#557 - that could mean." Rianni@crystyl:"I wish I did, truly..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "It feels like she wants me to do something, but she's talking in riddles..." she sighs. "We should probably discuss it with everyone else at the briefing Keelah's going to hold. But let - NPC@annpc#557 - me know if anything comes to mind about these phrases." Rianni@crystyl:"Don't worry, we'll figure this out!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles, "Thanks, Rianni." --- NPC@annpc#557 | In the conference room, Emma joins the VF senior staff. In addition, Kelly, Eva and T'Lana are present along with Vulture and Idate in their respective Regulator and Guardian armours Keelah@crystyl:"Firstly, thank you all for joining us. I assume that Rianni briefed you all up front, so we primarily focusing right now on the possibility of this phenomena being some form of external influence;- Keelah@crystyl:- possibly connected in some form to the subspace corridor we are traversing. Any initial thoughts?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture: "I believe it's the most likely explanation as well. Our implants make us immune to regular forms of telepathic contact. Ensign Ralde, however, has a connection to the mycelial - NPC@annpc#557 - network which could bypass the implant, and she is the only one experiencing these projections. Our travel might've drawn the attention of some resident of subspace, and she is the one they - NPC@annpc#557 - can most easily contact." NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods as well, "There's one other explanation, but it can't quite explain why it's been unique to Emma so far." Keelah@crystyl:"Go on" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Well, you all remember when the part of the Architect that was in me was causing trouble and all that, I'm sure. It's possible this is some psionic contact from within our crew. Like - NPC@annpc#557 - Kelly said though, it doesn't explain why Emma." Keelah@crystyl:"And only Emma at that" she nods, "Still, it is too early to rule anything out. So pursuing either of these ideas; how would we go about confirming or denying an option?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "If it is the work of a psionic, someone could look into Emma's mind. We might be able to trace down who this way, or at least determine if it is a person." Keelah@crystyl nods, "At Emma's own discretion, of course. Perhaps something the two of you can look into privately" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Of course. It doesn't have to be me, either. Jatila can do it, or you with a mind meld." She smiles at Emma, "Whichever telepath you feel most comfortable with." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "I'll think it over." NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture: "If it is mycelial network related, initiating contact on our terms might be impossible. We don't have a Regulator Survey Vessel or any other source of spores. Assuming this is an - NPC@annpc#557 - external communication coming from an entity linked to the network, we're going to have to use the Ensign as an intermediary." Keelah@crystyl looks to Emma and back, "We can certainly keep this in mind assuming it appears again. But from what I saw of the last encounter in sickbay, Emma tried to communicate but was able to really get it - Keelah@crystyl:- to engage with her fully. Does that seem about accurate?" she asks of Emma NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I think it's trying to get me to do something. I don't know if it's for our good, for its good, or both. I can't even understand what it wants." Keelah@crystyl nods, "By the very nature of what it is doing - rather than how - it would seem that communication is on the agenda since that is the only consistent element so far; during each appearance the - Keelah@crystyl:- vision has - however elusively - tried to communicate with Emma. Ensign, can you elaborate at all on the nature of those interactions? Any detail you can share may help us better understand" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "It's definitely more of a communication than a message. As in, she remembers our previous talks and even references them rather than repeating the same thing over and over again. But - NPC@annpc#557 - there's some consistent themes and phrasing she uses almost all the time." NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Such as?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well, she began by asking if I think I'm going the wrong way the first two times. Something about getting lost. But now she's more insistent on going the wrong way. I promised that - NPC@annpc#557 - I'd find her if she was ever lost, and that last time in sickbay, I think she was trying to ask me to find her. But I don't know where she is, or what the right way is, so we have no idea - NPC@annpc#557 - where to look..." Keelah@crystyl:"It's alright Ensign, don't expect too much of yourself; you have already provided us with a lot of insight and continue to handle this situation remarkably well" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Interesting. I had assumed that going the wrong way may have related to our trespassing upon what it may believe to be its subspace territory. This newer context may indicate that it - NPC@annpc#557 - wishes the Ensign to search for it specifically." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I would also like to continue pursuing the idea that this is some remnant of the Architect's handiwork. During my time infiltrating the Terran crew, I learned that he could resort to - Keelah@crystyl:- such methods as this to manipulate others into freeing him" Keelah@crystyl nods, "We definitely need to be careful, so investigate all avenues. As for ongoing communication; working on the theory that this is a mycelial lifeform, is there any way to reinforce the - Keelah@crystyl:- communication when it appears so that perhaps Emma is not the only one who can interact?" NPC@annpc#557 | Idate shakes her head, "As Vulture said, without raw spores or World Tree sap or something like that, we don't have the means to do so. Our best chance would be for a telepath to be in her - NPC@annpc#557 - head at the moment of contact. It's not guaranteed to work, but the telepath might be able to commune with it through Emma. But that's just one extra person. I don't think there's a way to put - NPC@annpc#557 - her up on a viewscreen or anything." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "What if instead of trying to bring, um, 'her' closer to us, we could get ourselves closer to her?" Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "Please elaborate" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Well I mean, we're already travelling through a subspace corridor right. And that is putting at least part way between our reality and the mycelial layer. So isn't there a way we could - Keelah@crystyl:- get ourselves a little closer to her layer? Maybe then we wouldn't need the spores?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture: "It may be possible. Easier if we had access to a Survey Ship, but the subspace corridor could be a potential transition point. This will be a dangerous journey, though. You do not - NPC@annpc#557 - need me to warn you about the risks. Travelling through subspace using a corridor is precarious enough. There is no guarantee that you will find your way back to normal space if you do this." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Not a risk that I take lightly by any means. Still, it pays to be prepared so we should at least investigate the theoretical mechanics just in case things develop in that direction. For now - Keelah@crystyl:- though, it would seem that our best real option is to wait and attempt to learn more from this apparition" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "We'll look into a way to travel into subspace if we need. Speaking of waiting, when exactly did this apparition show up, Emma?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "One was right before I arrived at the bridge. Lennie probably has the exact timestamp for that. Kazra made a scan during the encounter in sickbay so we can date that too." She looks at - NPC@annpc#557 - Rianni. "Can you remember roughly what time it was when I ran into you outside the lift yesterday?" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni hrms, "It was when I was heading back to our quarters after my shift. I don't know the exact time, but it was around 20:00 - 20:15 I think" Keelah@crystyl:"Kelly, you suspect a predictable pattern?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "I'm wondering if it all happened while we were in subspace." Keelah@crystyl:"Given how long we've been in this corridor already, I would take that much as a given. Unless there are subtle variations in the subspace layering that we are subjected to as we pass through it" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "I'll look into it, see if there's any notable patterns." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "If there is any such pattern to the subspace around us, then learning to read it could at least allow us to predict when she will appear too!" Keelah@crystyl looks to Rianni as she clearly just caught up and realized this part of the theory, "Yes, assuming there is a pattern at all still" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "I'll let you know if we find anything. Until then, we can look into the telepathic side of things, if Emma's up for it." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I'm willing to try, assuming the next contact doesn't happen immediately or something. She does show up when other people are around now, too..." Keelah@crystyl:"Alright then, if there is nothing else for now then I suggest we leave it at that and get to work" Keelah@crystyl goes to stand as everyone else does NPC@annpc#557 | Emma stands as well, looking through the group and still deciding on which telepath to ultimately go with Keelah@crystyl | Emma has noticed another guest suddenly in the room. Though quite how and when she appeared, Emma can't be certain NPC@annpc#557 | Emma double-takes at the surprise guest Keelah@crystyl notices her, "Ensign?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma glances to Keelah, "I might've jinxed it, she's here now..." Keelah@crystyl looks around, but of course can't see her Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni circles around and stands in front of Real-anni, peering curiously at her oblivious mirror NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks back over, "You can see her?" Keelah@crystyl | Both Rianni's - stood facing each other without (one of them) realizing, turn in unison with confused looks at Emma Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Hm? Me? No, I can't see at all. Is she nearby NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Right beside you. You can't see her. Can you...other you, um...Cadet you, can you see...Lieutenant you?" Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni at the same time, "Hm? Me? Well of course I can! There is something quite familiar about her..." Keelah@crystyl pinches the bridge of her nose, once again plagued by multiple Rianni syndrome, even she can only see one, the verbiage is still painful NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Yes, she's you! Or, at least you're...appearing as her right now." Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "I am?" she looks down at herself, then at Rianni, then moves around her to see her reflection in the window, "Well look at that, she is me!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So you...identify yourself as Rianni too. You're not just showing up as Rianni to give me a familiar face or something?" Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni turns to her, "Well of course I'm me, who else would I be! But..." she looks to Rianni again, "You seem to have found me though..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods slowly, "So...why are you still lost?" Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "Because you haven't found me yet" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma facepalms, "Okay.../how/ do I find you? You keep saying I'm going the wrong way, what's the way I need to go?" Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni looks keenly out of the window, then back to Emma with a firm and resolved look, "I... don't know" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma makes her way closer, taking a close look at Cadet Rianni's uniform to note any oddities as she does, "You don't know where you are now?" Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "Only that I not where I need to be" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Do you know where you need to be, then?" Keelah@crystyl | Emma doesn't see anything untoward about the uniform, only point of interest is the single 1st year pip on her collar Keelah@crystyl CDT Rianni: "You are different now. You feel... different, more rigid, firm, resolved. It is easier this way" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well it helps that you're not spooking me in the turbolift..." Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "It was difficult at first. Now everything is clearer - closer. But not close enough, we are still going the wrong way" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I don't know what the right way is..." She frowns before realizing something, "Wait, that's a first year cadet uniform. You wore a third year one when we met. I've never even seen you - NPC@annpc#557 - with one pip before. Do you know why you're showing up in that uniform?" Keelah@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "It is my uniform. And it seems you are not ready" with that she turns and somehow disappears without being seen to disappear Keelah@crystyl | Rianni mutters, "One pip...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "You were asking if there was anything odd about the uniform, and I took a closer look this time. Do you...think that could be significant?" Keelah@crystyl nods to the others, "As you were" to Rianni and Emma, "You two with me. It sounds like she's gone again, so we'll look into this separately" Keelah@crystyl leads them back to her ready room to continue the conversation --- Rianni@crystyl | Keelah leads the pair into her ready room, moving straight to the replicator and making some tea for them, "Do make yourselves comfortable, you are not on ceremony here" Rianni@crystyl takes a perch on the sofa, "Thank you Captain" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma follows over, taking a seat beside Rianni, "Thanks, Captain." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah joins them, pouring out a cup for each before sitting herself. She gives a soft sigh, "If it's not one of you, it's the pair of you isn't it?" she semi-teases to lighten their mood Rianni@crystyl:"I wish I had an explanation for the... unusual frequency of 'me's', truly!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "I'm not sure if this one is your fault or mine..." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah smiles, "I don't think any of these occurrences are anybody's fault. But between the two of you, you do make quite the magnet for these kind of things" she gets serious again, "My point is;- Rianni@crystyl:- I can... sympathise with the difficulty and personal level of strain this must be placing on both of you. And I want to take that into account with everything we do here, which is why I asked you - Rianni@crystyl:- to join me in here privately to review the latest interaction since it seemed from the half of the conversation we saw, that it is focusing more on your own past" she looks to Rianni Rianni@crystyl nods, "It does seem that way. And though my past is no secret, I do appreciate the discretion as it is never an easy topic" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods as well, "I thought it was just an alien entity showing up in my head with Rianni's image, but that uniform..." she looks to Rianni Rianni@crystyl:"You'd picked up before on the odd choice of the cadet uniform, given how relatively insignificant it is in our shared time" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Exactly! If she was just drawing from a mental image of you, it probably wouldn't be in that uniform." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Which begs the question as to why that uniform specifically" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Rianni asked me if there was anything odd about it when I mentioned the uniform to her. I took a closer look this time and it seems to be a pretty ordinary cadet uniform to me. The only - NPC@annpc#557 - thing that stood out was that it was a first-year cadet uniform, which makes it more puzzling because I've never even seen Rianni when she was in first year. Maybe my mind's...putting an - NPC@annpc#557 - Ensign pip on a cadet uniform, in that weird way dreams can mix things up? But that doesn't make much sense either, the whole reason I think the uniform is odd is because I've seen Rianni in - NPC@annpc#557 - officer's uniform longer, so she'd probably be showing up in full officer's uniform..." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods and sips while listening, "From what I saw, this interaction seemed a lot more involved than the one I witnessed in sickbay. Was there anything about the apparition that stood out - Rianni@crystyl:- from her demeanour or responses this time which may provide more context on the uniform question?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well, she seemed to be able to see Rianni here and recognized Rianni as herself. She was a little confused and said I'd already found her, but also that I hadn't found her and need to - NPC@annpc#557 - keep looking. Wait, you don't think this could be the Observer, could it?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "No, that doesn't quite make sense either. I've never seen her in a cadet uniform, and Intel made her a full ensign, didn't they?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods, "Yes, and she would be wearing a white Intel uniform too" Rianni@crystyl:"Although... back when she pretended to be me, she wore a cadet uniform. And that was during my first year" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's what I was thinking. But I wouldn't be visualizing her in one. Unless this is her projection, and she identifies with that uniform more than the Intel one? But she'd recognize - NPC@annpc#557 - Rianni, and not be surprised at seeing another her. Assuming this is her after getting trapped in subspace somehow..." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah looks over curiously, "Getting trapped in subspace?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well we're assuming this contact is because we're passing through a subspace corridor, and my unusual connection to subspace, right? So if this is the Observer, she must be making - NPC@annpc#557 - contact because she got stuck in subspace somehow. Distance doesn't work the same way there, so even though she might've entered from a whole different part of the galaxy, she can still reach - NPC@annpc#557 - out to us for help." Rianni@crystyl:"But if it was her - trapped somehow - why would she be surprised or confused to see me here, or to think her own appearance as a cadet was normal?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "She probably wouldn't. It's not a perfect theory by any means. But I just get a sense that she's...more like the Observer than you, if that makes sense. Like she's got more of that - NPC@annpc#557 - naivety, from what I can gather from our limited interaction." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah hrms... Rianni@crystyl nods, then catches herself, "Wait... naivety?!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Not that you're naive now! You're doing a great job as an officer, and that's just it. You might be young and newer to the role, but you...feel like a proper officer, still. This Rianni - NPC@annpc#557 - I'm seeing, the cadet uniform seems right on her. Which is why I was wondering if she could be the Observer. The Observer is every bit as capable and intelligent as Rianni here, but her - NPC@annpc#557 - personality is a bit more...childlike, you know?" Rianni@crystyl smiles, "I get it, that does make sense" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Perhaps. Though this does still not satisfy the reason for that choice of appearance if it were the Observer. However..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks back over to Keelah curiously, "However...?" Rianni@crystyl:"I am intrigued by your subspace trapping theory. I am not familiar with the mechanics enough to be able to comment on the likelihood or feasibility. But focusing on the personal element; the - Rianni@crystyl:- Observer was based on Rianni, but more specifically: first year cadet Rianni. Now, whilst it is conceivable that her unique genetics mean her emotional development differs, I can still find no - Rianni@crystyl:- logical reason for the choice of appearance. Unless it is not the Observer..." she looks to Rianni Rianni@crystyl doubletakes whilst mid-sip, "Wait... you think she's me? But... but I'm me!" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah smiles at the classic Rianni'ism of confusing pronouns, "The idea that space works differently in subspace is sound, and if space works differently then time has to as well. Therefore is - Rianni@crystyl:- it not conceivable that this apparition /is/ first year cadet Rianni, or at least some variation of thereof" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So we're seeing, like, an echo of Rianni from the past?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah, "Well, this is all very much based on supposition and rudimentary quantum theory. But focusing on the limited facts - in this case, a vision of Rianni as a first year cadet - and - Rianni@crystyl:- following that with a theorized connection to subspace, it is currently the best theory I can present on who or what this vision actually is" Rianni@crystyl:"But... why would a first year cadet version of me even have an 'echo' in subspace?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Yeah...you're not psionic after people started suddenly becoming psionic, let alone first year you having the ability to do something like that!" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah looks to Emma, "Then there is the connection to you. Your own unique circumstances are not specifically subspace related, but more specifically the mycelial network and the world trees. - Rianni@crystyl:- You understand that level of reality better than anyone else I could think of - here or elsewhere - so you tell me Ensign; is there any precedent to your knowledge for an echo or some alternate - Rianni@crystyl:- version of a person to be somehow connected to the network?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma thinks for a moment, "I've...heard some things about it. Mostly rumours when I was looking into my own condition. It's very highly classified, I never saw the full reports, but apparently - NPC@annpc#557 - people have...died and reformed in the network or something? I won't pretend to understand it, and I don't even think the people who had access to the full reports actually knew how it worked." Rianni@crystyl:"People who... died...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's what I heard, at least. I don't know all the details. But you weren't exposed to the network in any way in your first year..." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Not in the same you were Emma, but perhaps..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks between Rianni and Keelah Rianni@crystyl looks down, "You know what happened to me... back then. How the Observer came to be in the first place and all" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods: "I was very close to those events; the Valley Forge was actually present shortly after the destruction of the Gainsborough, and we saw the Azedi dreadnaught leaving through an - Rianni@crystyl:- artificial wormhole like the Observer and Junayd use. I can not comment on events I did not witness, but as I recall from the official records once Rianni here was returned; she was technically - Rianni@crystyl:- dead, or very near to it, when the Junayd first recovered her. And that was a long way from where the incident took place, so her escape pod had to have travelled through the wormhole" Rianni@crystyl:"So you're saying that something could have happened to me while I was there, and... and this vision is an echo of me at that moment when I..." she tenses, "...when I died..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma reaches over, giving Rianni a hug NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "It's...possible, I guess. The Junayd wormholes do pass through subspace, much closer to the mycelial network than our usual space..." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah gives the pair a moment, "It is the only logical reason presented so far which fits the facts of how this apparition appears" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "It makes more sense than any other explanation so far. But if this is some echo of Rianni...how do we find her like she keeps asking me to? And what do we do once we find her?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Now those are the more difficult questions that I suspect we will need her help to answer" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So we wait for her to contact us again while we explore the potential of taking the ship into subspace and all that?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods, "Unfortunately we are still very limited in what we can do to further things. If you choose to, there is always the option Eva presented to you as well. But sharing your mind with - Rianni@crystyl:- someone is nothing I could ever ask you to do, simply present you the opportunity to do so if you wish it" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "If it means helping out Rianni, or some version of her..." she glances to Rianni. "I'll be happy to explore that option." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "As you see fit. I think we have made good progress here for now, and feel more confident in favouring this theory. So I thank you both for that" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles, "Thank you, Captain. I'm not sure we could've come up with it without your help and insight!" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah smiles, "This is very much a collective effort, I am just gratified to be of some help. You girls should get some rest, it is important to take time out for yourselves when facing events - Rianni@crystyl:- such as this" she looks to Rianni, "I trust I don't need to ask for you to look after Emma now" Rianni@crystyl smiles and stands, "Of course not Captain, I won't let her out of my sight!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles too and gets to her feet, "Come on. Let's get back to our quarters for a bit." Rianni@crystyl nods, staying closer than usual to Emma's side as they head out NPC@annpc#557 | Emma heads into the lift with Rianni, sending it down towards their quarters first and looking around for any sign of (Ghost?) Cadet Rianni Rianni@crystyl | There is no sign of the cadet version Rianni@crystyl notices Emma's looking, "Is... she here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma shakes her head, "No, not this time at least. She's not appearing exclusively in lifts anymore. I just...keep expecting her to, since that's where she showed up the first two times." Rianni@crystyl:"And now she certainly doesn't seem quite so elusive. Like, she's not just catching you alone anymore" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Yeah, she's even appearing when you're around, too!" Rianni@crystyl:"Yeah! I mean, it's not like I can even do anything about it when she does pop in, but at least I'll be there for you! If nothing else I can hold your hand and hopefully stop her being scary..." Rianni@crystyl frowns, "To think any version of me could ever elicit fear and apprehension from you of all people!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "It's not you! I was just...apprehensive because I didn't know what was going on. Now that we have a better idea what we're dealing with, I'm not scared of her anymore!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well, if she shows up suddenly she might still spook me, but that's another matter," she chuckles Rianni@crystyl:"Do you think we're really on to something with this whole... past echo theory then?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "It does make the most sense. And now that I think of it, she showed up as all injured for a second in the lift, too, so that gives credence to Keelah's theory..." Rianni@crystyl:"I did get pretty battered back then. From what I actually recall at least, most of the details are just what the Junayd passed to me" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Maybe it's not a past echo, though. Maybe it could be another you from an alternate universe, maybe one where you were never rescued by the Junayd. We know the mycelial network - NPC@annpc#557 - stretches beyond just our quantum reality. But that's just speculation. I might know more about the network than anyone else in Starfleet, but what we know is still so incomplete." Rianni@crystyl nods, "So, want to just go and relax a little at home? I could set up that hot spring program in the holodeck I know you like so much if you want! Or we could call Eva if you think that's worth a - Rianni@crystyl:- try?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Let's see if Eva's free. If she is, we can take care of that first, then relax until Cadet you shows up again." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Sounds good to me!" --- NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later, Emma and Rianni are sitting in their quarters when the doorbell rings NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Come in!" NPC@annpc#557 | The door slides open and Eva steps inside, "Hello. So, you want to try and see if I can find anything else telepathically?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "May as well give it a try while we're waiting for Rianni to show up again. The...other Rianni I'm seeing in my head, that is," she chuckles, glancing at the Rianni beside her Rianni@crystyl smiles, "I'm sure I've warned you about being careful what you wish for in that regard before... now I get to say I told you so!" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "Yes, that you do! NPC@annpc#557 | Eva, meanwhile, pulls up a chair and takes a seat in front of Emma, "You're certain you want to go through with this? I'll have to search your mind for signs of the...other Rianni. I might - NPC@annpc#557 - come across other memories, ones that you might want to keep private." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "It's worth it to help out Rianni." Rianni@crystyl:"Hey, this is about all of us helping /you/ silly!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well we won't be in this corridor forever, and since I only started seeing her after we got in, it's likely she'll stop popping up once we're finished with this trip, which won't be - NPC@annpc#557 - long now, so I can bear with it. But if this really is another you trapped in the network..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva glances to Rianni, "You're telling me you think these visions really are another you?" Rianni@crystyl nods, "Yes, we did some theorizing with the Captain after the briefing and have come up with something that we all concur seems the most likely. Or at least, it's the best fit to the facts that we - Rianni@crystyl:- have. Essentially, the idea is that this apparition is some sort of 'echo' of me from when I was a cadet. Specifically when I technically died after the Gainsborough incident, since there is a - Rianni@crystyl:- chance that death occurred inside a wormhole" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "And that might've created some imprint of her on the mycelial network. Maybe even a whole other copy..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "I wouldn't be surprised..." Rianni@crystyl:"Since it's the only theory so far which fully accounts for details observed in the uniform, along with the theoretical elements, we believe it is on the right tracks at least. Though I don't know - Rianni@crystyl:- if this helps you at all here..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva smiles, "Well, it satisfies my curiosity at least, so thank you. And it could be helpful to know what I'm trying to trace, assuming I can get a trace." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva holds out her arms, "Give me your hands, Emma." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, placing her hands in Eva's palms NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Now, try to think about the instances when you saw this other Rianni." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma closes her eyes and begins to run the encounters over in her mind. Eva closes her eyes as well, focusing on Cadet Rianni and seeing if she can identify any kind of imprint that might - NPC@annpc#557 - still remain... Rianni@crystyl | Eva can certainly get a sense of what Emma felt from the interactions, reliving the experience for herself. However there is no sign to her of a presence here now. Either the apparition is not - Rianni@crystyl - near, or perhaps since she is experiencing the past encounters second hand, she is unable to determine if there was a tangible presence that could be detected if she had been there at the time NPC@annpc#557 | Eva opens her eyes after a short while, "I can experience all your encounters with her, but I can't pick up any presence. The experience didn't leave any imprint in your mind like the Horde - NPC@annpc#557 - does. If I'm doing this when she appears to you, maybe I'll be able to sense something. Right now though, the best I can do is help you recall something of the encounter, if you think the - NPC@annpc#557 - specific wording might be important." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles, "Well, thanks for trying. Actually...these encounters are pretty recent and I can remember them well enough, but do you think you can help me draw up the details of something - NPC@annpc#557 - else? Something that happened long ago which...may or may not be relevant here." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "I should be able to. Just think hard on that memory, and I'll draw up everything from the depths of your mind to reconstruct it as accurately as possible." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma closes her eyes again, "Alright, here goes..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva closes her eyes as well, leaving Rianni sitting and observing from outside --- NPC@annpc#557 | Eva opens her eyes to find herself following Emma, though an Emma dressed in the uniform of a different era... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma walks through a hallway in the architectural style of Starfleet at the time. She passes by a Vulcan man wearing a purple version of the same uniform who is reading a PADD as he walks, not - NPC@annpc#557 - even acknowledging her NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "...good afternoon to you too." She mutters as she turns the corner away from the Vulcan NPC@annpc#557 | Emma (and the trailing Eva in modern uniform) soon come to a stop at a door. Emma taps the panel and the door slides open. Inside, a familiar face turns to observe her... NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/4lEd1Ea.jpg NPC@annpc#557 | Pike: "You're not who I was expecting to see." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "The Commander was kind enough to give me a few minutes with you. He'll be here soon, he's just caught up with interrogating a Nausicaan. You know how stubborn they can be..." NPC@annpc#557 | Pike nods, "So what can I do for you, Lieutenant?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma closes the door behind her before turning to face Pike again, "I've heard that you were involved in the spore drive program a few years back." NPC@annpc#557 | Pike narrows his eyes, "Where did you hear about that?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Our mutual friend." NPC@annpc#557 | Pike sits up, seeming as if he's about to stand and storm out, "I find it hard to believe Commander Ackerson would slip you that kind of classified information." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma takes out a PADD, handing it over to Pike, "I hope this'll make it easier to believe then, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Pike takes the PADD, scrutinizing it closely for a minute before nodding, "I see. So you were involved in all that yourself." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I was wondering if you know anything that could help." NPC@annpc#557 | Pike: "I'm sorry, Lieutenant. I'm not allowed to share any of that with you. You don't have the authorization for it, even if you might be aware of some of the details already." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I know you have no reason to trust me, but...even with what I already know, I had no way of being aware of your involvement without the Commander tossing me a bone. So you know Ackerson - NPC@annpc#557 - let me come here. And you trust his judgement, right? Please, the doctors have all but given up already. If there's anything that could help, anything at all..." NPC@annpc#557 | Pike sighs, handing the PADD back to Emma, "I can't help you. There's only one case I'm aware of. An officer was killed and his consciousness somehow went into the mycelial network. He was... - NPC@annpc#557 - reborn through it. I don't entirely understand how myself, but from what we can tell, his new body was practically identical to his old one. He didn't show any signs of a condition like yours." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I don't suppose you can give me a name?" NPC@annpc#557 | Pike shakes his head, "There's nothing you can do with it even if I gave it to you. He's gone, along with the ship he served on. As I said, I can't help you. I- ah, Commander Ackerson." NPC@annpc#557 | The door slides open and another man in a purple uniform, this time human, steps in, "Captain Pike. Lieutenant Ralde." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles, "Looks like my time is up. Thanks anyways. I appreciate the-" NPC@annpc#557 | Pike cuts her off before she says more, putting on a casual smile, "I'm always happy to answer a few career questions for a promising young officer like you." NPC@annpc#557 | Commander Ackerson: "Now that you've met the famous Christopher Pike, if you will excuse us..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods and heads out, "Of course." NPC@annpc#557 | Ackerson takes a seat. As the door closes behind Emma, his voice can be heard trailing NPC@annpc#557 | Commander Ackerson: "So. Regarding your latest mission, Captain. You reported that..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva stares at the door as it closes, "That voice..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma turns around, still in her historical uniform but now speaking as her present self, "Hm?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "There's something familiar about it." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's impossible. That's Commander Tom Ackerson. He's been dead for over a century now." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "The voice is different, but that cadence. That speech pattern. I've /definitely/ heard it before. It's very distinctive." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Maybe a...holovid? Though Starfleet Intelligence officers rarely get depicted in those. Real ones, anyways. Not counting the ridiculous spy adventures," she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "No, it's..." NPC@annpc#557 FX | The memory fades away. Suddenly we're on the bridge of the Valley Forge. Emma is in her modern uniform, observing Eva as she works on the comm console NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Wha-" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Shh!" NPC@annpc#557 | Behind them, Keelah steps onto the bridge. On the viewscreen, a man speaks with the same, unmistakable cadence, though it is a different face and a different voice.. NPC@annpc#557 | Commodore Fox: "Captain Se'Lai. It seems it falls to Starfleet Intelligence once again to save you from your overtrusting nature." --- NPC@annpc#557 | Back in Rianni and Emma's quarters, Emma and Eva open their eyes NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "You think Commander Ackerson was Commodore Fox?" Rianni@crystyl doubletakes, "Wait, what?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "The Commodore has a special cadence to how he talks. He pronounces every word very deliberately, very completely. I've never heard anyone else talk like that. It could be a - NPC@annpc#557 - coincidence, but since we know he's a Changeling, I think it's a plausible explanation." Rianni@crystyl:"Ok... so next silly question then; who is Commander Ackerson?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "He was a prominent Starfleet Intelligence commander in the mid-23rd century. Well, as prominent as intel people go, which just means he was friends with important people. He's...like - NPC@annpc#557 - Mischa, but for his time." Rianni@crystyl:"So that was the thing you wanted Eva's help recalling!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma shakes her head, "Actually, I was trying to recall the details of my conversation with Pike where he mentioned the case I talked about before. The officer who was reborn in the mycelial - NPC@annpc#557 - network." Rianni@crystyl:"Ahh, I see- wait... Pike?!" she chuckles, "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "Hey, I only met him properly that one time. Commander Ackerson let me talk with him in private before their debriefing. When Ackerson showed up in the memory, Eva said - NPC@annpc#557 - there was something familiar with the way he spoke." Rianni@crystyl:"So it would seem!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "And now that she's mentioned it, the speech pattern is eerily similar despite the voice. But if Ackerson is Fox, that means he's been infiltrating Starfleet Intelligence for at least as - NPC@annpc#557 - long as I've been alive..." Rianni@crystyl:"There's no telling how much damage he might have caused in all that time" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "He's had chances to influence multiple key people in Starfleet's past. Pike, Decker, Kirk...if he's really taken advantage of all these chances, we can't even call it damage at - NPC@annpc#557 - this point. It's...history as we know it." Rianni@crystyl:"That's true. So, did you gain any insight into the past account of people's echoes?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "A little. I still don't have any real detail, but from what Pike said, I think Keelah's theory is definitely possible. Maybe it's not the same thing as what happened to the officer he - NPC@annpc#557 - was talking about, but if that could happen, I think the echo's not that wild of an idea." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni speaks, sitting on the other side of Emma from Rianni, "Echo?" oh the irony... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma immediately looks over to CDT Rianni, "Oh! There you are!" Rianni@crystyl looks as well, "Um..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Are you seeing her again?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Can you sense anything?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva closes her eyes, trying to see if she can pick up CDT Rianni's presence... NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, Emma looks back to CDT Rianni, "If you're Rianni...what's the last thing you remember before being lost? If you can remember anything." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni thinks, "Hmm... There is nothing before" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma frowns, "Well that doesn't help." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "I can't sense her, but let me try doing so through your mind again." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Okay," she holds out her hands to Eva, giving CDT Rianni another look. "Try to stick around with us a little longer. If...you can control that." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni seems confused by that NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "We're trying something to find you. Just stay with us here." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva closes her eyes, trying to sense CDT Rianni through Emma's mind Rianni@crystyl | Eva is able to see Emma's perception, and is greeted by the sight of two Rianni's, one sitting either side of Emma! NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Okay, I see two Riannis now..." Rianni@crystyl looks to Eva, "Really? That's great! I think..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "It's some progress!" She looks to CDT Rianni. "Can you hear me?" Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni turns to Eva, "And you can see me now too! Ooh, is this what you meant by an echo?" she ask Emma NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Not quite. This is something we wanted to try, but we were also thinking that you might be an echo created from Rianni, well...the Rianni here," she gestures to LT Rianni beside her NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Back when she technically died in the wormhole, some part of her might've imprinted on the mycelial network. At least, that's our working theory for how you're talking to me now." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni looks over, and then smiles, "I knew we were right in coming to you" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles too, "So we're on the right track?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Wait.../we/? There's others, not just you, Rianni?" Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni looks to Eva: "We are all and we are also none. It is... difficult to explain with your words" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Right. And...you need our help?" Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni nods, "In a sense. But we feared that you also needed our help, which is why I why I came" she looks to Emma, "You are... not entirely wrong that your friend left an impression with us- Rianni@crystyl:- once. But I am not that impression, we simply drew on it to create this... identity in order to reach out to you as we can not normally exist in your space" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So my first thought was right, too! Why do we need your help, though? Is it because we're in the subspace corridor, where we shouldn't naturally be either?" Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni shakes her head, "You are not natural here, but we do not police others' existence. And it is actually someone else who needs your help. I came here to help you help" she offers in an - Rianni@crystyl:- ever helpful Rianni'ism NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Why come here to help us...help? Is it because you can't help them yourselves?" Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "Yes, but you can. You must. Help them to help yourselves" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "Who needs our help?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma adds, "And how do we get to them? What's the right way, if you keep saying we're going the wrong way?" Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni looks out of the window, "It is... difficult to gauge your space. I only know that you are fast approaching, and if you do not leave this space before it's too late then you will miss - Rianni@crystyl:- them" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So we need to leave the subspace tunnel and we'll find them?" Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "Yes. But I do not know where exactly, only what. You need to find the trinary star system, that much I do know!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Trinary star system. And how fast is fast approaching? Or let me guess, our concept of time isn't the same as yours, either..." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "Your concept of linear time is... difficult, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I thought as much. I think I know what to do now, though! But just one more question...who exactly are you and who are we going to be helping?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Okay, that was two..." Rianni@crystyl smiles, even just at Emma's side of the conversation Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "Right now, I am the person you believe me to be. When we can no longer reach this place, 'I' will simply be a part of 'we'. You understand us, you have spoken with the world tree. - Rianni@crystyl:- You and her - the one with my face - you have both touched the tree in different ways, you both are also part of 'we'" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "Not sure what I was expecting other than a cryptic answer...but thanks for your help. Maybe we'll meet again someday- there's subspace corridors where we came from, too, and we - NPC@annpc#557 - might just use them to travel again in the future! Or well...talk again, since we're already a part of you." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni smiles, "You are always with us, both of you. Your time will come" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma smiles back, "Well, it was nice to talk with you while we can! Despite the rough start getting spooked in the turbolift and all..." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "I am sorry if my initial attempts caused you difficulty. It was... new, expressing thoughts and feelings this way" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "It's okay, I understand!" she smiles again. "I'm glad we're able to communicate properly now. Anyways, I should probably go ask the Captain to take us out of the subspace corridor. - NPC@annpc#557 - Thanks again, Rianni." Rianni@crystyl | CDT Rianni: "I look forward to seeing you both again" she smiles, and disappears - again without actually being seen to disappear" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "...how does she come and go like that?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "Must be something to do with the way the communication works. Or maybe my mind being unable to fully process what she is? Well, we better go talk to Keelah again." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks to Rianni, "I'll tell you everything she said on the way." Rianni@crystyl:"It sounded like that went a lot better. As long as you're ok" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods and stands, "That was a lot clearer than the previous talks we had. And she's...they are...getting better at it, too." Rianni@crystyl:"Oh stars! Don't tell me there are more me's out there now?!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma laughs, "No, not multiple of you! It's...you but not really you. She says you did make an imprint, but it's not the imprint speaking to me but some beings presumably native to the - NPC@annpc#557:- mycelial network using the imprint to form an image for communication. So both our theories were actually right, in a way!" Rianni@crystyl:"I've studied the network a lot, as you know, in my efforts to better understand your experiences. I recall some theories that regard the entire thing as a living entity. Is that what you think this- Rianni@crystyl:- is now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "It's possible. There's also separate entities with their own consciousness, who are still connected to the network like the tardigrades. So it's not all a hive mind, but it is - NPC@annpc#557 - all interconnected. I don't understand how it fully works and I'm not even sure if the Guardians and Regulators completely do either! But from the way they talk and say we're both a part of - NPC@annpc#557 - them...maybe we are dealing with a collective will of the whole network. A very good thought Rianni!" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Emma, Rianni and Eva arrive at the ready room, ringing the doorbell Keelah@crystyl:"Come in" Keelah@crystyl sits working behind her desk NPC@annpc#557 | Emma steps in with the others, "Captain, we've finally managed to establish a proper dialogue. Well, by proper dialogue I mean I understood what she's trying to tell me for once," she chuckles Keelah@crystyl sits up with interest, "Is that so? Well then please, come share what you have learned" she gestures to the seats opposite NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods and takes a seat, "We're not exactly sure what we're communicating with yet, but she said both our theories are correct. Rianni did leave an imprint on the network, but I donâ€™t know - NPC@annpc#557 - if the imprint itself is a full...being or not. But apparently they're just drawing upon the imprint to communicate with me. As for what they are...Rianni theorized it might be some collective - NPC@annpc#557 - consciousness of the mycelial network." Keelah@crystyl:"Quite the grand theory. I have no doubt that you girls have seen sufficient evidence to give you these impressions" she looks to Eva, "But you are still very much the outsider looking in on this. - Keelah@crystyl:- Do you have any further insights to share?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Well I don't know as much about the mycelial network, but Rianni...the one in the cadet uniform, did refer to herself as we. And she said Emma and Rianni were both a part of it in some - NPC@annpc#557 - way, so I think the explanation makes sense. If it's not the whole network, it's probably some collection of beings that live inside it and can access everything the network connects to. They - NPC@annpc#557 - knew about the World Tree and all, so I assume they know what they're talking about." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Which brings us to why they contacted me..." Keelah@crystyl:"And what did this... being have to say about that?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "They want us to help someone that exists in our space. Apparently doing so will also help ourselves and help them in some way. No idea how, but since we believe the network stretches - NPC@annpc#557 - across space-time, they're probably able to see the future and this thing we have to do will result in the best reality for all of us, maybe?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "She did say she had difficulty understanding linear time, so she can probably see our future. Why she wants us to do this, I guess we'll have to see." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Yeah, we managed to understand her better this time, but she's still pretty cryptic!" Keelah@crystyl thinks and nods, "We have encountered primevals before who exist in time as we do in space. It is an incomprehensible concept to us, but we know it is a thing within the universe. So I have no - Keelah@crystyl - difficulty imagining that time might be perceived differently by elements of the mycelial network" Keelah@crystyl:"So were they any more forthcoming about who they want us to help, or how. When? Where even?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "A little bit. No idea who, and they don't understand linear time like Eva said so they don't know when. But they said we need to leave the subspace corridor soon or we'll miss it. No - NPC@annpc#557 - idea what soon means in this case, though once we're out, we have to look for a trinary star system. So we have the where, at least..." Keelah@crystyl:"I see. That is certainly a rare phenomena to try and locate. But more interestingly, this is quite the coincidental turn of events" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Coincidental with...?" Keelah@crystyl shuffles a pile of PADD's on the corner of her desk and digs one out that she slides over to the others to see, "Engineering reports. Dry reading at the best of times, so I'll spare you the details" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "What've they found?" Keelah@crystyl:"In short; there has been an unexplained rise in system malfunctions and anomalies. Speculation has arisen that there is some unseen force at work through this subspace corridor which is having an - Keelah@crystyl:- effect on our systems. The Chief even went so far as to recommend cutting our journey short just to be safe" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So that's how it could help us...maybe. We should leave the corridor and see if we can find a trinary system nearby." Keelah@crystyl:"Given that it is a fixed route, we would likely be cutting our journey short of wherever it would have landed us. But since the whole thing was an added bonus I believe it is a worthwhile thing at - Keelah@crystyl:- this point, especially in light of your own experiences now" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "I have a feeling these beings do have our best interests in mind, and not just because they're appearing as Rianni. It doesn't seem like anything in the Network has a reason to - NPC@annpc#557 - mislead or deceive us. At worst it's just doing something to keep itself in good condition, but a healthy mycelial network is still good for everyone." Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed. Alright, Eva would you please update the rest of our convoy while I speak with our escorts" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods and stands, "On it, Captain." Keelah@crystyl looks to the others, "And if you're both feeling up to it, I would like you both at your stations when we drop back to normal space. We'll be completely blind and in unknown territory again so we - Keelah@crystyl:- want our best at the ready" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well now that I know what I'm seeing, I'm not being startled by the other Rianni again when she appears. And I'm not sure she /can/ even appear once we leave the corridor anyways, so - NPC@annpc#557 - you don't have to worry about any distractions to me, Captain. I'll do my best to help with the information I have." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni stands and gives a firm nod, "We're all over it Captain!" Keelah@crystyl smiles again, "Alright ladies, I'll join you shortly then" Keelah@crystyl heads out to the bridge a short time later after speaking with the escorting vessel, "Ok folks, how are the preparations coming?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "All ships are ready to exit the corridor." NPC@annpc#557 | Thorkildsen: "Systems holding up alright for the moment, at least." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Sensors reconfigured and astrometrics's standin' by t'get our bearings back" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Tactical systems are green across the board and shields are primed" Keelah@crystyl:"Alright then, let's-..." she doubletakes, catching a fleeting glimpse of Cadet Rianni stood behind Emma; a warm smile on her face as she bows her head slightly before disappearing Keelah@crystyl | Rianni looks up, "Captain?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Nevermind. Let's do this; helm, begin the transition back to normal space" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann nods. "Aye Cap'n." NPC@annpc#557 | The VF soon emerges from the corridor back in normal space, followed by the other ships of their group all appearing from the same exit into the same area. The tunnel effect disappears from - NPC@annpc#557 - the viewscreen, replaced by the usual field of stars NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "And we're out." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie gets to work, remapping their surroundings NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "All other ships are reporting in." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Nothing in the immediate area to report on. We're alone out here" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks to Lennie, "Any trinary star systems in the vicinity?" Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, we all know the routine at this point. Though at least we were ready this time..." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "It'll take a while t'get our bearing's an' start searchin' properly. All I can tell ya is there's nothin' right 'ere right now" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Well now that we exited the corridor fairly quickly, hopefully that means we won't miss whatever it is we're supposed to find..." Keelah@crystyl:"We can only work with what we have got. Once the initial long range search is concluded - assuming no target system is in range - then we will proceed towards Dominion space per our original plan" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That makes sense. Maybe the system we're looking for isn't exactly along the path of the subspace corridor, we just need to exit it now and continue on our way to come across it." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Like I said, she wasn't exactly clear on when we'll find it..." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed. So for now, it is business as usual with a focus on astrometrics searching for this system" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "You think we should inform Commander T'Lana on what we learned about Fox, or wait until all this is over?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well, if it might be days or even weeks before we actually come across the system we're supposed to..." Keelah@crystyl looks to Emma to see what she's thinking NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Might as well give her the information to play with now." She realizes Keelah is looking at her, "Oh right, we...accidentally discovered some information T'Lana might be interested in." Keelah@crystyl nods, "I see. Well then, there is little sense in me playing the messenger. If you have come into information you believe to be important to the Commander, then it is up to the two of you to bring - Keelah@crystyl:- that to her" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, tapping the console to update T'Lana --- T'Lana@anncaris | A short while later, T'Lana contacts Emma in her quarters... Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "Hey Commander" T'Lana@anncaris:"Ensign. I hope you are faring well after your recent experiences?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Quite well, thank you for asking. Though I remain anxious now as to if we did the right thing or not" T'Lana@anncaris:"In terms of leaving the corridor when we did?" Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "I know there were other factors, but this was largely decided on my interpretation of a very alien communication. And all taken in faith that it was indeed guiding us towards a favourable - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- outcome. Now we are in limbo while we search, and so it is difficult to reconcile. But, that is not what I wanted to speak to you about so I apologize for getting off topic" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Your concerns are understandable. I am also apprehensive about these events. The best we can do now is to search for this trinary star system. It is clear that something will occur there, - T'Lana@anncaris - and that is intelligence we should at least follow up on. We will simply have to be prepared for less ideal outcomes, if it is for example a trap. But yes, I am calling now due to the - T'Lana@anncaris - information Lieutenant Dra has provided me, which she gleaned from your memories." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"She has already told you what we learned then? Well, now I feel like I wasted your time by calling me!" she chuckles T'Lana@anncaris:"Actually, I called because I wanted to inform you of something. Though your time with him as Commander Ackerson may provide useful insight in the future." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Oh?" T'Lana@anncaris:"I concur with the analysis that Ackerson was another identity utilized by Fox in the past. His service record gives no obvious clues, but Fox made a curious statement when we confronted him aboard - T'Lana@anncaris - the Loki which heavily supports your theory." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Is that so? I know I have no right to ask, but the fact that you even mentioned it makes me curious and tells me you are willing to satisfy that curiosity" she grins T'Lana@anncaris:"It is only logical to assume, since I brought up the topic. When Sin spoke with Fox, he expressed surprise that you were not there as well. Perhaps he had expected you to be the one to see through - T'Lana@anncaris - his cover due to your prior history. At the time, I simply assumed that he knew of your involvement with Intelligence personnel in the past and thought I would have sought your help in - T'Lana@anncaris - exposing him. However, he then mentioned that a reunion would have to wait, indicating that he had indeed met you before." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Really? Huh... Even to think he was the same person from back then, it's hard to believe that he simply remembered me and just happened to know I was nearby. You don't think he was keeping tabs on - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- me all this time do you?" T'Lana@anncaris:"It is possible. He also said something about hoping to develop you into an operative. That all but confirms the theory, as it suggests he had been in Starfleet Intelligence in the past as well, - T'Lana@anncaris:- and in all likelihood a ranking officer." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Thank you for telling me this. Though I think I need an extra scrub in the shower after the thought of him planning things for me all this time..." she shudders, "I-..." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Emma is cut off when the Valley Forge suddenly jerks to one side. The red alert klaxon quickly follows Emma Ralde@crystyl | TL gets a report from her bridge that the VF just suddenly jumped to warp without any word T'Lana@anncaris:"It seems the Valley Forge has accelerated to warp. Keelah must have discovered something quite urgent, as we were not notified. We may speak further on Ackerson in the future. You should proceed - T'Lana@anncaris:- to the bridge, Ensign. This may be related to your contact with these mycelial entities." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Emma nods, "This feels wrong. Even if it was an emergency, she would not jump away without at least sending you a message" she stands, "Thank you Commander" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I thought you would appreciate the information. Until next time, Ensign." --- Keelah@crystyl | Emma arrives on the bridge, finding it - to no surprise - to be a hive of activity and confusion Keelah@crystyl works with Erik at the engineering console NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks to the captain's chair, pausing a little confused at Keelah's absence. She searches the bridge, spotting the white shoulders and walking over, "Captain? What happened?" Keelah@crystyl glances over her shoulder, "Ensign, that is exactly the question we are trying to answer" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni calls out: "It's the same over here! Systems show as fine, but if I attempt to divert power to weapons something overrides me!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks to Rianni, then back to Keelah, "We didn't jump to warp on purpose..." Keelah@crystyl | Keelah shakes her head, "Something has seized control of all systems it would seem. Right now we have no control over the Valley Forge" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Could it be related to the...baby or whatever it is growing in the cargo bay? Something similar happened when it first appeared in the bay." Keelah@crystyl nods, "It is possible. Lendaria went down there to try and get a proper status, but as you can imagine right now getting any reliable readouts or communication internally is... problematic" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Yeah...any sign of a trinary system before this started happening?" Keelah@crystyl:"Nothing we were aware of, but we can not assume anything right now" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma steps over to Lennie's console to see if the sensors are still feeding data into the system, even if they have no control over what's actively being scanned NPC@annpc#557 | Eva meanwhile tries to get a sense to see if the ship is being affected by any entities Keelah@crystyl | The console is presenting data, but in an incomprehensible jumble. It is like Emma is looking at the raw data feed as it processed by the main computer Keelah@crystyl | Eva can sense nothing unfamiliar NPC@annpc#557 | Eva shakes her head, "I don't sense anything off." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "And I think the sensors aren't processing information, they're just sending raw data back. Which even the best science officer can't make any sense of without a computer's assistance..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Maybe Mia's got a chance? But we don't even know if there's anythin' worth interpretin' in tha' data." Keelah@crystyl:"It is possible, honestly though I don't even know right now if she is unaffected by this. With systems so sporadic we are not even able to contact or locate people" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I was still in contact with T'Lana for a short while after we jumped to warp, and I took the lift up here just fine...but there's no guarantee these things still work now." Keelah@crystyl nods, "it is focused on primary systems as far as we can tell" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Did you call the red alert, or did that turn itself on, too?" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni adds: "And everything we can get the computer to say indicates all is well, but when we try to actually do anything, it then doesn't work!" Keelah@crystyl:"That occurred on it's own, though I am somewhat grateful that it did" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Captain, neither of us can do much here right now. So why don't Emma and I go to try and find Mia?" Keelah@crystyl nods, "Proceed with caution, we'll keep working on things here" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma heads into the lift, "Let's hope secondary systems are still working..." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods: "It's a long climb down if not..." --- Lendaria@crystyl has made her way down to the makeshift observation room of 'juniors' cargo bay. Formerly a supervisors office for the logistical support team, now structurally reinforced and isolated to serve as a- Lendaria@crystyl:- medical observation area. She works in frustration with instruments that are just as big a mess as everywhere else right now Marion Watson@annpc#557 steps into the observation area, pausing just past the door as she sees Lennie, "Commander. I thought someone else would've probably come down here too." Lendaria@crystyl looks over, "Watson, hey. Wha' brings ya down 'ere?" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"I was in phaser control when we, well, lost control and saw the red alert come on. We couldn't reach the bridge, but we did manage to reach Security. They didn't know what was going on aside from - Marion Watson@annpc#557 - losing control of systems but Silvestrie pointed out something similar happening when Junior here was first...conceived?" Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Yeah, it ain't obvious t'everyone. But ever since then th'ship's kinda, well... not s'much had a mind o'it's own. But definitely more a heart n'soul. Folks've picked up all sorts of system - Lendaria@crystyl:- glitches since junior joined us; like turbolifts correctin' 'emselves to go to th'right deck because that's where th'person in it is due on duty but they called th'wrong level. Or someone's - Lendaria@crystyl:- mornin' alarm not bein' turned off still managin' to not go off. Tee said one of th'MACO's even had a lift divert 'im t'sickbay without him asking to go to tha' deck, an' when he got there Kazra - Lendaria@crystyl:- found an infection or somethin' from his last away mission that'd slipped th'net!" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"Really? I've heard the rumours, but I didn't know it was /that/ intuitive. Doesn't really feel like the ship's work, just suddenly taking control away from us for all major systems." Lendaria@crystyl:"Nothin' t'say it is th'ship actin' on it's own. But then maybe it is, an' this's just tha' important. It's overriden us before when it sensed an area too dangerous t'approach, so it wouldn't - Lendaria@crystyl:- exactly be a stretch" she sighs, "I jus' wish it'd let me see how Junior's doin'!" Marion Watson@annpc#557 walks over to the console, "The monitoring system's not working either, then?" Lendaria@crystyl:"It ain't so much not workin' as it's jus' outright shuttin' me out!" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"Shutting you out? How so?" Lendaria@crystyl looks around and points to a console behind Marion, "Like this!" she moves over and waves a demonstrative hand across it's screen, "All looks perfectly normal, aight? Junior's bio readin's all - Lendaria@crystyl:- as expected?" Marion Watson@annpc#557 turns, observing the console and nodding Lendaria@crystyl:"Only when I try an' get a fresh update..." she taps, immediately recoiling as a small blue spark leaps from the panel and zaps her fingertips Lendaria@crystyl looks around at the room and frowns, "I know pregnant gals can get pissy, but now ya jus' bein' mean!" Marion Watson@annpc#557 nods, "That's not good. Why would it shut you out from monitoring? Running away from a threat, I can understand, but we're not a threat to Junior..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Mia said when this first started tha' th'ship weren't exactly sentient or nothin', but it felt more like animal instinct. Like runnin' away bein' a 'fight or flight' instinct y'know" Lendaria@crystyl:"If somethin' is goin' on wit' Junior, ship could be feelin' it an' panickin'" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"But the problem is, we can't /tell/ if something's going on with Junior..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Which is why I came down 'ere, thought maybe gettin' to th'source I'd make some headway" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"That's what I thought, too. I came down here since I think I have the most scientific knowledge out of the tactical personnel, but I figured someone from the bridge might've come down here too." Marion Watson@annpc#557 glances back, "I don't suppose there's a way to get readings with a hand tricorder or anything?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Not on Junior itself" she hands Marion her tricorder with readings on it, "Can get a picture of th'overall area, but since it's jus' a room full o'liquid it ain't so easy t'isolate readin's - Lendaria@crystyl:- for Junior specifically" Marion Watson@annpc#557 nods, looking through the reading, "What does it normally look like through here?" She gestures to the console. "Is there a...lifeform within the liquid, or?" Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Best as we can tell, yeah. Ship's always been kinda over protective 'bout this area, but we sorta reached an understandin' in it lettin' us monitor Junior's health from 'ere" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"But now either she's panicking, or this is some external force taking control of our systems unrelated to Junior." Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha's about th'sum of it, yeah" Marion Watson@annpc#557 nods, looking around, "So what's our next step? We can't monitor Junior. You said you reached some kind of understanding with the ship before?" Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Yeah, Mia was able t'interact wit' it and kinda... be th'ship's voice. I know it can talk through th'computer, but I think it needed her to sorta translate artificial instinct into somethin'- Lendaria@crystyl:- comprehensible" Marion Watson@annpc#557:"I'll try to track down Mia, then. Unless you want to do it, but I think your skills might be better served in case the readings come through here." Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Appreciate it. I'll-a stay here an' keepin' tryin'a make headway wit' madam" she bumps the console with her fist Marion Watson@annpc#557:"Good luck. And try not to get shocked too much..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, thanks..." she chuckles --- NPC@annpc#557 | Emma steps out the lift once they reach the level with Mia's quarters, "Okay, good, the lift didn't stop mid-way on us." Rianni@crystyl:"Yeah, I hate doing ladders in this skirt!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "You and me both. I don't suppose this'll work. Computer, locate Mia." Rianni@crystyl FX | Emma gets a few seconds of jumbled audio back that sounds like 100 different recordings of Mia's singing all on top of each other NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I thought it wouldn't be that easy..." Rianni@crystyl:"Was worth a try... and the bleeding ears..." she frowns, poking her ear to stop it ringing from the confused audio NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Well, let's not try that again. We have to do it the hard way, I guess. Let's see if she's in her quarters, first." Rianni@crystyl nods, "It isn't far" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma makes her way to Mia's quarters, ringing the doorbell upon arriving Rianni@crystyl | There is no response NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Either the doorbell's not working, or Mia's not inside." She tries knocking on the door manually as loudly as she can Rianni@crystyl | Still no response NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I guess she's probably not inside. Any idea where else she could be?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "The lounge we could search, but if she's not there, she could be just about anywhere on the ship..." Rianni@crystyl:"I don't think we can leave anything to chance right now. Let me try an override" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, letting Rianni override the door Rianni@crystyl takes a few moments of fiddling with the control panel innards, but it pays off and the door pops open NPC@annpc#557 | Emma peers inside, "Mia? Sorry for breaking in like this..." Rianni@crystyl | At first glance, nobody is home. But keeping in mind this is Mia and she doesn't have to maintain her avatar all the time... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma steps further in, looking around for any sign of Miadrone Rianni@crystyl | After some searching, she does indeed find Miadrone! Sat on a charging dock, with an forcefield around it NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's not normal when Mia's charging, is it...?" Rianni@crystyl frowns, "No it most certainly is not..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks around for a tricorder to use Rianni@crystyl | Fortunately, Mia has plenty of gadgets and gizmos laying around for different little side projects, so it doesn't take much rummaging for Emma to find one NPC@annpc#557 | Emma goes over, scanning to check if the force field is coming from Mia or the charging dock/ship systems Rianni@crystyl | She is able to verify that the field is being generated by the ship/charging dock and not Miadrone NPC@annpc#557 | Emma scans to see where the power is flowing to the charging dock, then tries to find some way to cut it off safely without risking herself or Mia Rianni@crystyl | Ordinarily disrupting ship generated fields like this would be quite the challenge, but since this is being routed through the retrofitted charging dock Emma can disable it by splitting the dock - Rianni@crystyl:- from its power source Rianni@crystyl | In other words, unplugging it should do the trick! NPC@annpc#557 | Emma promptly unplugs it, hoping Mia has enough charge to reactivate once she does Rianni@crystyl | Fortunately Mia has always got sufficient power and actually only charges like this to rest her reserves. With the cycle disrupted the drone flickers to life and rises to a hover, giving a - Rianni@crystyl:- curious sounding series of beeps before Mia ripples into view Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "Ms. Emma? And Ms. Rianni! Oh non! Did we oversleep?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Mia! Are you alright? The ship had you trapped..." Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "Wait... trapped? What are you talking about Ms. Emma?!" she giggles, figuring it a joke she hasn't got yet or something NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "There was a force field around you. Many of the ship's systems just suddenly started doing their own thing. Like when Junior first showed up in the cargo bay. We don't know if its - NPC@annpc#557 - related, but we thought you'd be the best one to call on." Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "What? But that makes no sense, there is no indication of anything being wrong. We would have detected it!" Rianni@crystyl ahems Rianni@crystyl heads back over to the door, opening it to reveal the red alert and system chaos on the other side with a 'told you so' look Rianni@crystyl | Just for good measure, fox-Tiah charges past, seemingly quite enjoying herself... Rianni@crystyl steps away again, letting the door close NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's part of the strangeness, all the systems are reading as normal from what we can tell, too." Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "This is definitely not right... we should have a passive connection to the ship at all times, but we have been cut off!" she heads over to a console, Miadrone hovering across and plugging in NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Be careful Mia. Don't let whatever is causing all this take control of your systems while you investigate." Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "We appreciate your concern Ms. Emma, but you need not worry! Ms Mana has us perfectly well armed to defend against any-" she twitches and her avatar glitches. Miadrone squeals and falters, - Rianni@crystyl:- almost falling down. Both elements of Mia quickly recover themselves however NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Mia! What happened?" Rianni@crystyl:"Well, that will teach you for being smug..." Rianni@crystyl | Mia nods, "Mon dieu... oui, Ms. Emma; we are alright. We were simply overwhelmed for a moment" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Any idea what's going on with the ship?" Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "Only that it is very worried for Junior. It seems like something is wrong with him, perhaps in distress in some way" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's not good... You're sure it's the ship that's responsible for overriding our control, though?" Rianni@crystyl | Mia nods: "It is... terrified. It is desperate to go somewhere, we think. Though as to why..." Rianni@crystyl | Mia is interrupted as the systems in here begin to act up NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks around, "Maybe we should get out of here..." Rianni@crystyl | There is a distinct sound of air filtration, the environmental systems siphoning out the air. Rianni looks into the corridor to find the same there, and the red alert suddenly stops... Rianni@crystyl | It is replaced by a default evacuation notice repeating over and over, with guide arrows streaking down the hallway monitors. Only there are no evacuation pods opening, and the arrows are all - Rianni@crystyl:- pointing deeper into the ship... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "I think the ship's trying to get us somewhere. But why?" Rianni@crystyl:"At this point I don't see much choice but to see for ourselves, as we can't remain here" Rianni@crystyl | Mia nods, "We know how this looks, but urge you to remember that the ship has only ever done such things in order to protect us" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's a good point, even back when Junior first showed up and it started doing this. Let's follow the arrows, then." Rianni@crystyl nods, and heads off with the others. Curious to see where they are led as they are joined by more and more personnel all following their routes Rianni@crystyl | As the trio leave Mia's quarters, our view remains behind, turning back towards the window and the star streaks beyond. As we zoom closer to focus on the view, we see the ship drop out of warp - Rianni@crystyl:- in the middle of a solar system. Filling our view in the near distance is a red star, orbiting a green star, orbiting a blue star... Rianni@crystyl | https://preview.redd.it/8ausk0ah40p51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fbce5c23eacc4f9e0c84f0fbabdba9ea99a30044 --- Keelah@crystyl | The trio continue to follow the guided route, though at one point an emergency forcefield pops up and separates Mia from them. While she follows her own path, Emma and Rianni are guided to - Keelah@crystyl:- secondary engineering where the rest of the bridge crew are working to try and get some semblance of detail as to what is going on NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "So this is where the arrows brought us to..." Keelah@crystyl looks around, "Yes, everyone seems to have been routed to a central location either here or further into the ship" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Do we have any control over the systems here?" Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "Unfortunately not. Did you two get anywhere with your search for Mia?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "We found Mia, but we got separated by a force field on the way here. She confirmed that this is the ship's own work, something to do with being worried about Junior." Keelah@crystyl sighs, "Anything could be happening out there... I am not satisfied with simply sitting here and waiting for the situation to change again..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "We need to persuade the ship to let us help, somehow..." Keelah@crystyl:"Well I am certainly open to suggestions" NPC@annpc#557 | Watson steps up to the group, "Lennie and I were hoping to find Mia to communicate with the ship, but I was redirected here on my way to her quarters." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods: "That is where we found her, but she got separated from us on the way here" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Mia tried...something when we were in her quarters. That's how she found out something's apparently wrong with Junior, but it almost overwhelmed her doing that." Keelah@crystyl turns, "Please elaborate" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Mia didn't know what exactly was wrong, either. But apparently it was enough for the ship to panic, and it's trying to get somewhere. No idea where or why, though." Keelah@crystyl:"I see. What about ways to regain control, or at least... calm the ship maybe?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "If we can't communicate with it..." she looks between Keelah and Watson, "The environmental systems were also sucking out the air where you came from, right?" Keelah@crystyl nods, "It seems to have happened everywhere. Well, everywhere that was evacuated. The systems here for example are fine" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Maybe the ship blocked Mia off from us on purpose. She doesn't need a breathable atmosphere, maybe it's trying to get her to help with whatever's going on." Keelah@crystyl:"A reasonable assumption, though that does not progress our ability to get ourselves out of here" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "If the ship's funneled us to these places because it needs to vent the atmosphere from the other decks for some reason, we could wear suits. Assuming it's done this for our safety, then - NPC@annpc#557 - it wouldn't stop us if we leave with the means to survive in the rest of the ship. But if it really doesn't want us there, I have a feeling it'll find other ways to stop us." Keelah@crystyl nods, "It is worth a try" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Why do I feel like you just volunteered us..." she groans to Emma Keelah@crystyl simply smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Sorry!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks around, "So, time to get suited up?" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Guess so!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks back to Keelah, "Any ideas on where to start? You know the ship better than anyone, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"I believe Junior is the focal point of all of this, but heading into the main computer core might have a better chance of establishing communication with the ship" NPC@annpc#557 | Watson: "Lennie wasn't having much luck with Junior. The consoles were sending her shocks when she tried to request an update on Junior's progress. Tricorder scans aren't much help, either." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Giving her shocks? Reminds me of what happened to Mia when she tried to interface back in her quarters. Not sure if she'll have more luck there, either. Sounds like the computer core - NPC@annpc#557 - might be our best bet." Keelah@crystyl:"At your discretion ladies" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, turning to Rianni, "Okay, time to see if we can talk with the ship. First trying to communicate with the mycelial network showing up as you, and now the Valley Forge itself..." Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "It really is one of those days isn't it..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "It really is..." --- Rianni@crystyl & Emma finish getting suited up and try to make their way out of engineering Rianni@crystyl | However, the door will not open for them... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma conducts a scan to see if there's an atmosphere directly on the other side of the door or if the air has been sucked out Rianni@crystyl | There is an atmosphere, all perfectly normal NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Looks like there's air beyond the door, but the ship's still locking us in. I guess she really doesn't want us interfering..." She looks around. "We could try the Jefferies tubes. Might - NPC@annpc#557 - still be blocked off, but we won't know if we take a look." Rianni@crystyl nods, "Let's go" and turns back that way Rianni@crystyl | They don't get as far as trying before Mia's voice comes over the comms, "Allo? Allo!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma replies through her suit comms, "Mia! Where are you? Is everything alright out there?" Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "Allo Ms. Emma! Yes, everything is well now. We understand what is happening and must ask that you continue to trust in the Forge's actions" Rianni@crystyl:"That's a little vague Mia given the circumstances..." Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "We understand Ms. Rianni and apologize-" she pauses a moment, "-oui! Ok, we have patched in consoles in all the evac areas to a visual feed. Please observe" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Okay..." she makes her way over to a console Rianni@crystyl joins her, as does everyone else Rianni@crystyl | The feed is being sent from one of the Nuhar squadron, who have all launched from the ship. As they fly out and circle around, we see the VF cruising close between the 3 stars of the system NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's...that's a trinary star system!" Rianni@crystyl | As they see the ship draw into the centre of the formation, everyone can feel the bulkheads rumble and creak as it fights the extreme gravitational forces from all directions Rianni@crystyl | On the feed at the same time, a lot of lights can be seen going out Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "All non-essential systems have been temporarily shut down and power routed to structural integrity. Please do not panic, the Valley Forge is doing this herself and she would not risk - Rianni@crystyl:- damage to herself!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Well we are where the other Rianni wanted us to go...but why did the Valley Forge come here on her own accord? Is she doing this to help us? I thought it had something to do with - NPC@annpc#557 - Junior..." Rianni@crystyl shrugs, "I can't even keep up with all the different me's anymore, let alone their incentives..." Rianni@crystyl | Meanwhile on screen, as the VF continues into the centre whilst feeling like it's holding up to the gravitational stresses, a flickering light begins to dance across the hull. It grows in - Rianni@crystyl:- intensity to utterly surround the ship like a billion fairy lights NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's not normal..." Rianni@crystyl | Lennie narrows her eyes before announcing, "Tha' looks like radiation bombardment! I dunno wha' kind, but we're gettin' pummeled by it" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Is that why the ship directed us to these deeper regions, so we won't be affected by it?" Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "Ms. Lennie is quite correct. As you will see, these three stars are not all the same classification. The combined radiation effect between them is quite extreme. And yes Ms. Emma, these - Rianni@crystyl:- saferooms everyone now inhabits are the most protected areas of the ship and have been further reinforced externally to protect everyone!" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie looks around, asking Mia: "I don't get it, that's impactin' th'hull though! We need t'get th'shields up then th'ship won't have t'work so hard!" Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "Shields can not be used at this time" Rianni@crystyl:"That seemed... oddly phrased..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "They're not down, they just...can't be used?" Rianni@crystyl:"Hey look! What's it doing...?" Rianni@crystyl | On the feed, the VF slowly starts to roll over making it appear upside down from the perspective of the Nuhar who's eyes we are seeing through NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "An...evasive maneuver?" Rianni@crystyl:"If it is, I'm curious to see the benefit. I mean yes, I've worked with barrel rolls and variations on them before but... not this" Rianni@crystyl | As the VF appears to go 'belly up', the Nuhar squadron begin to close in. As they approach, the view zooms in on the exterior of Junior's cargo-womb where a faint pulsing glow can be seen - Rianni@crystyl:- emanating through the hull NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's Junior's bay, isn't it?" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie: "Yeah, but it ain't done tha' before!" Rianni@crystyl | Watching closely, they can see the bay doors bulging. Or straining and trying to at least NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Mia did say something was wrong with Junior...oh! Could it be time for Junior to be born?" Rianni@crystyl | The Nuhar all take up position, including our eyes, and begin strategically firing on the cargo bay Rianni@crystyl | At first it seems rather random and sporadic, but then it is clear that they are in fact targeting the substructure to weaken the doors rather than simply blast through them NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Mia and the drones must be helping it come out! Is that why you were separated from us, Mia?" Rianni@crystyl | As they carefully weaken the bay doors, they begin to creak open. The biomatter inside streaming out into space Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "That is correct Ms. Emma. When the ship first began to realize that something was wrong with Junior, it panicked. Instinct took over and it ran here, but it sealed us away for fear that we - Rianni@crystyl:- would intervene. Once you released us however, we were able to calm her and assist with the little ones" Rianni@crystyl | One the feed, the doors start nudging open slowly a bit at a time, like a chick breaking its way out of an egg. Only this chick is a space whale... NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "Maybe that's why the other Rianni wanted us to leave subspace? Because the mycelial network realized that Junior was about to be born, and it needed to happen outside subspace!" Rianni@crystyl:"Not only that, but if he had complications in getting out which the ship sensed as danger... well, you saw how it took off like that. Imagine if we'd been in the corridor at the time..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Yeah..." Rianni@crystyl | Bit by bit, Junior begins to emerge, soon squirming and writhing free of the VF. Whilst it is clearly a primeval spacewhale, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the VF. It's body shaped loosely - Rianni@crystyl:- like the saucer of the ship, with two hefty tails trailing behind it like VF's nacelles. Junior worms around a little, finding it's bearings Rianni@crystyl:"So /that's/ why the shields couldn't be used! Mia, you could have just said so!" Rianni@crystyl | Mia giggles over the comm, "We confess, we did not want to spoil the surprise!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "You just wanted to keep us in suspense!" Rianni@crystyl | As Junior coasts around, the radiation bombarding the VF also impacts the baby space whale. Only it doesn't dance across Junior's skin(?) like on the metallic VF, but instead seeps into it. An - Rianni@crystyl:- aurora of light flows into and around Junior, it's movements becoming more lively and a bioluminescence taking effect" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie watches in awe, "Goddess... I think he's... feedin' on th'radiation!" Rianni@crystyl | Having such a strong blend of different radiation grades feeding into Junior at once, the bioluminescence takes on a similar pulsing rainbow effect NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That must be why we came to this system!" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie: "Agreed. Whilst it may not be essential t'his birth, the excess radiation here could be wha's needed for him followin' th'difficulties in gettin' out" Rianni@crystyl | While Junior settles happily into a radioactive bio-rainbow feeding frenzy, the VF slowly rolls back over and begins moving away Rianni@crystyl | Junior becomes aware of this movement and his colour shifts to a solid dark blue, quickly trailing after the ship Rianni@crystyl | Junior doesn't latch on or anything, but continues to stay close to the VF as it leaves the area and loses the dazzling light effect. As they clear the gravitational stresses, the sounds inside - Rianni@crystyl:- return to normal and power starts coming back on throughout. A short time later, the safe room doors all start popping open Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "It is done! Valley Forge is no longer in fear for Junior and has no more reason to act rashly!" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah finally chimes in, "So Mia, does this mean I can finally have my ship back?" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma breathes a sigh of relief, "I'm glad we came out of subspace and made it here in time." Rianni@crystyl | Mia: "Oui, mon Capitaine!" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah groans, "So gracious of you Mia. I'll see you in my ready room..." she heads off. Mia can be heard giving a nervous gulp before she ends the comm broadcast Rianni@crystyl:"I still don't understand the intervention of that other me. I mean, I can kind of see what they achieved by it. But like, did they do it because they wanted to save Junior, to save us, or to save - Rianni@crystyl:- the network from the damage that would have caused if this had happened within the corridor...?" Rianni@crystyl | Everyone takes a moment to catch themselves before slowly started to filter out of the saferooms and back to their duties NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Maybe all of it at once? It's possible that one of them is more important to the mycelial network than the others, but if the mycelial network truly connects everything in spacetime, - NPC@annpc#557 - it could have just seen this outcome as the best one. Like, the other you can see all possible futures, decided this was the best one for a variety of reasons, and guided us towards it." Rianni@crystyl:"Maybe. But I think you give 'me' too much credit" she giggles some, knowing how silly it sounds NPC@annpc#557 | Emma giggles, "Well, you deserve some credit! Without manifesting as you, maybe the network wouldn't have been able to communicate with me in a way I can understand and we wouldn't have made - NPC@annpc#557 - it here. Not to mention all the help you provided when we were trying to communicate!" Rianni@crystyl:"At any rate, I think it's one of those things that 'best guesses' about are as close as we're going to get to any real answer. Come on, we should probably get back to the bridge and help restore - Rianni@crystyl:- normality. There's still a big hole where that cargo bay used to be, and we have a baby space whale in our wake now. I think there's a long day ahead still" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Let's change out of these suits, first. Don't want to do all the clean up work stuck in those!" Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Don't have to tell me twice!" --- Rianni@crystyl & Emma arrive back on the bridge later than most, but certainly not last to return NPC@annpc#557 | Emma makes her way over to the ops console, "Junior's still following us, I assume?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah is back in her chair and Mia (and Miadrone) hover next to her, apparently having had a little chat Rianni@crystyl | Lennie nods: "Yeah, he's not exactly flyin' formation. but he keeps within 500k and circles around us NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Is he capable of warp too?" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie: "No idea yet" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "For now, we'll maintain a steady pace while everything settles back. We can send a message to the Loki and have the rest of the convoy come and join us" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "If he ain't capable o' warp, we could take him along in a warp bubble. We can't travel sublight forever." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah, "Indeed. But we have no cause to rush either right now, so we'll take our time to get to know Junior and see how things develop" Rianni@crystyl | Lennie: "Yeah, once we get settled we can get some folks studyin' him proper too" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma nods, "And fixing up the cargo bay..." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Exactly. So Ann, you don't need to worry about not using warp again" she smiles, "We're just letting things settle again first" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann nods, "Got it, Cap'n." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma looks around, "There's no other damage other than the cargo bay, right? Radiation didn't damage any systems or anything?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "There is certainly nothing obvious. However, given the unusual nature of it Thorkilsden has asked for some time to run a full diagnostic as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Another reason not to rush to warp. Best to play things safe an' make sure nothin's broken." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Indeed. Meanwhile, we are still in uncharted territory, so once the convoy catches up let's get back to our routine and starting scouting beyond long range sensors" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "I'll notify the other ships once we get back in contact." Rianni@crystyl | Lennie turns to Eva: "I suggest havin' em drop t'sublight a lot further back an' approachin' slowly. No tellin' how Junior'll react to ships suddenly arrivin' so we oughta be cautious wit'him" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Good point. I'll make sure they make a cautious approach." --- NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later, Eva announces, "I've established contact with the Loki. They're dropping out of warp and moving to meet us at sublight." Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, lets keep a close eye on Junior out there" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "All over it!" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "They want to talk with you, too. Should I put them up on the viewscreen?" Keelah@crystyl nods, "Please do" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana appears on the viewscreen sitting on the Loki's bridge, with Kelly beside her Keelah@crystyl:"Ladies. Apologies for the trouble here" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Captain. Your comm officer has briefed me on the events and we are approaching cautiously. Is there any assistance we may render?" Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you for the offer, but only minor repairs are required and we have those well in hand. Right now the biggest concern - purely for being such an unknown - is Junior" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "I take it you have not yet had time to study the new lifeform?" Keelah@crystyl looks back to Lennie Keelah@crystyl | Lennie steps forwards: "We'se still in th'process o'collatin' data. Even takin' tha' slow since we don't yet know if this... maternal instinct thing's stuck wit' th'Forge or not, an' we really - Keelah@crystyl:- don't wanna go upsettin' her again. S'far though, we got Junior as a primeval classification. Biology's quite unique though, as we always speculated it would be owin' t'how th'species procreates. - Keelah@crystyl:- Ya can see already, he got his momma's curves. An' we know tha' he feeds on radiation, a process which produces a bio-luminesent response. We also noted a potential emotional bio-lume response - Keelah@crystyl:- too, but ain't got s'far as testin' tha' yet" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "We will keep our distance for the time being, in case it prompts a response from Junior or the Valley Forge. I assume you do not require additional science personnel to assist, - NPC@annpc#557 - seeing as your crew is already well-equipped for such studies." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie smiles, "We certainly got it covered, yeah. But if any of y'all wanna come an' join th'study then ya more than welcome! As for ya approach, we do gotta start figurin' things out wit' - Keelah@crystyl:- Junior. So we figured once ya into th'20k range, maybe drop t'match our speed an' follow. Then we'll slowly decrease so ya catch up, an' if Junior freaks out, we can easily split up again without - Keelah@crystyl:- strainin' him" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "A logical plan. We shall proceed with this approach and back away should Junior respond poorly." NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "If the Loki can get within transporter range without incident, I might come over and take a look at the ship. Thorkildsen can handle minor repairs, but the Valley Forge hasn't - NPC@annpc#557 - exactly been through something like this before. I'll help check things over." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Kelly, Mia will be there to work with you" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "What of the rest of the fleet? Shall we scout the area while you study Junior and conduct repairs?" Keelah@crystyl:"Assuming Junior doesn't make more problems by having additional ships nearby, I first want to acclimate him to the rest of the convoy. If our initial hypothesis is correct, these initial encounters- Keelah@crystyl:- may be important in his development. So once we are comfortable that he is accepting of the Loki, we will introduce the others up to the point where the whole group is together. Then we will - Keelah@crystyl:- resume long range scouting while we continue to assess Junior's travel capacity" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "I will have the QanwI' and Aethon establish a perimeter and run patrols to detect anyone entering the area and create a safe space for Junior to acclimate in the meantime." Keelah@crystyl:"Good idea. It may be prudent to let Junior 'meet' everyone one at a time initially so we can rotate the patrols" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Yes, we would not wish to overwhelm him with too many vessels at once. We are entering the 25 thousand range now. We should be within 20 thousand soon." Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, this will be his first real challenge. So let's do our best to make it a smooth one for him" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni thinks out loud, "Is Junior even a 'him'...?" Keelah@crystyl looks over but doesn't respond, it is a valid question really after all NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "That's a good question..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Guess we'll find out from our studies! Though maybe as a very different kinda lifeform, they don't really have anythin' like our concepts o' genders." Keelah@crystyl:"Also a valid point. For now it seems to stick naturally as the designation 'Junior' does" she smiles Keelah@crystyl | Meanwhile as the Loki approaches, Junior shows no reaction NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "We are monitoring no discernible changes in Junior. What of the Valley Forge? No protective instincts triggering?" Keelah@crystyl:"Nothing so far. Though I do not anticipate anything from the Forge, since even if some semblance of instinct remains it is already more than familiar with the Loki" Keelah@crystyl | As the Loki closes to the 10k mark, Junior changes colour turning a deep thrumming red. His movement becomes sharper and he closes his distance to the Forge NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Curious. I believe these changes may be interpreted as fear or at least uncertainty. We will not approach any further for the moment." Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed. Well, if anyone has ideas then now is the time for them" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "I believe uncertainty may be closer, or apprehension even" she looks to the screen, "When th'Forge first pulled away from th'trinary stars where Junior were feedin'. He turned a deep - Keelah@crystyl:- blue an' quickly chased after us, stayin' close. If we'se gonna try an' associate his actions wit' relatable emotional responses then I'd-a say tha's fear" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni watches the monitor on Junior, "This pulsing red of his looks very familiar..." she glances to the currently black alert status panel NPC@annpc#557 | Emma follows her gaze over, "You think he might've got it from our alert system?" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Well I mean, he's clearly shaped like the ship. And we know from when first got him that his species has some unusual traits which connect them with technology. So... yeah, maybe. I know- Keelah@crystyl:- the Captain would never let me take us to red alert just because something new appeared on our long range sensors, nor would I. But given the context of a newborn meeting someone beside his mother- Keelah@crystyl:- for the first time... well, I still remember the utterly perplexed look I got from my little sister when I first met her!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma chuckles, "It makes sense, he's still a baby after all! But how do we get him to stand down from red alert..." Keelah@crystyl looks back to Rianni, "Let's run with your analogy. How did you resolve this with your newborn baby sister?" Keelah@crystyl | Rianni flushes and shifts awkwardly, "I... smiled and then made silly faces at her until she laughed..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma laughs, "But how does a ship make silly faces..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "A...light show?" Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps we don't need to be too literal with the analogy..." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie looks to Ann, "Tha's certainly an idea, but given how Junior's bio-lum'in' his moods lights might be confusin'" Keelah@crystyl looks back to Rianni, "Making baby faces might be a bit much, but the principle is there. Think about what you actually did by taking that approach; you made yourself non-threatening and familiar" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "If we can figure out wha' colour is not threatenin' for Junior..." Keelah@crystyl:"That might come in time, but for now we simply don't know" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "All we really do know is tha' he likes t'gobble radiation..." Keelah@crystyl looks around, eyeing Lennie. Then Emma in the corner, then back to Lennie, "hmm..." NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Maybe the Loki can emit the same kind of radiation? Like tossing a Targ a treat?" Keelah@crystyl:"Or make itself seem more like the Valley Forge to begin with" she looks to the screen, "Commander, do you think you could adjust your plasma vents to more closely match our own emissions?" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie smiles: â€œUsin' it like pheromones!" NPC@annpc#557 | Emma: "Now that's an idea!" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "Yes, that will be doable. We cannot adjust our vessel profile, of course, but we will make it resemble the Valley Forge as much as we are able." Keelah@crystyl:"Assuming it makes a difference, any ship should be able to gradually readjust until Junior is familiar with all of their proverbial scents" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly stands, making her way to a console, "I'm on it now." NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly starts adjusting the Loki's plasma emissions to match the VF's Keelah@crystyl:"Ann, slow us down and begin a 180 turn. Then hold position for the Loki to continue it's approach" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann nods, slowing the VF and turning, "Aye Cap'n." NPC@annpc#557 | The ship soon comes to a stop upon completing its turn, holding position while the Loki slowly approaches with the adjusted emissions Keelah@crystyl | Junior maintains his alert stance and holds close to the VF. As the Loki approaches, Junior becomes aware of the new 'scent' and his red hue begins to fade to an amber" Keelah@crystyl:"We'll take that as a good sign. Now Ann, very slowly bring us 180 again to form alongside the Loki then match course and speed to them" NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "On it, Cap'n!" NPC@annpc#557 | While the VF forms up alongside the Loki, Emma comments, "That colour's quite a bit like our yellow alert too, isn't it." Keelah@crystyl:"So we continue the analogy and consider him to now be understandable cautious but not on the defensive" Keelah@crystyl | As the two starships pair up and slowly cruise along with Junior hugging the VF, the familiarity of the two slowly blends into one for him and he soon becomes curious about the Loki. A little at - Keelah@crystyl:- a time, he starts edging closer to the Loki, until his colour completely returns to a natural state and he goes back to roaming around freely, now encircling both vessels as they travel