When the Valley Forge finally begins to catch up to the Lexington, they learn that the matter is more complicated than they could have imagined...
Keliaya@anncaris | The camera opens on the Valley Forge, still cruising through the Gamma Quadrant. It pans over the ship, towards and then through Keelah's ready room window, showing Keelah working away at the console behind her desk
Keliaya@anncaris | As she works, the comm chirps
Keelah@crystyl leans back and taps, "Se'Lai"
Keliaya@anncaris <C - Eva> "Captain, we're being contacted by the Namaset. The An Commander wants to speak with you."
Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Eva. Please patch it through to my ready room"
Keliaya@anncaris | A moment later, Commander Kesa's visage appears on Keelah's console, "Captain Se'Lai. We have arrived in the vicinity of the tomb world raided by the Lexington."
Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. Have you made contact with that world at all yet?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa nods, "We have contacted them and while we've informed them of the situation, both the Commander on the world and I agree that it may be for the best that your vessels remain behind while -
Keliaya@anncaris - we investigate the tomb world. Even if you keep the Valley Forge concealed, similar species being present so soon after the raid can cause tensions, you understand. We've learned that some -
Keliaya@anncaris - of the Andarash has already put out a sizable bounty through illegal channels for the Lexington to be brought to justice."
Keelah@crystyl:"I see. That will certainly make it more difficult for us to investigate, but we can work with this. Do you have a proposed approach in mind here?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "The Namaset will investigate the tomb world. Fortunately, we already have the heading of the Lexington upon departing from its raid. While there's no guarantee that their heading is -
Keliaya@anncaris - truly towards their destination, it lines up with their direction of travel so far. I suggest you continue in that direction and the Aberen and Makesis will remain with you. We have a higher -
Keliaya@anncaris - maximum speed and will be able to catch up with you once we are finished."
Keelah@crystyl:"With all due respect Commander, given the nature of the investigation here it would be illogical to proceed without at least someone from Starfleet in attendance since they are much likely to see -
Keelah@crystyl:- contextual relevance to things relating to the Lexington's motives that may go without consideration"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "That was the second part of my proposal. We've compared the lifesigns present at the raid to the information on your Starfleet that you've provided us and we've matched the species to -
Keliaya@anncaris - Human, Andorian, Vulcan and Saurian. Anyone not of those species shouldn't spark any tensions or misunderstandings, provided they visit without uniform and keep their connection to Starfleet quiet. We can take a team from your ship in plain clothes with us on the Namaset."
Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed. I will put together a team and have with you shortly then"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "Excellent. We'll hold position here until your team is on board, then we can go our separate ways until we catch back up with you."
Keelah@crystyl:"Very well, we will be in touch shortly then"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa nods and the comm ends
Keelah@crystyl taps her combadge, "Se'Lai to Keliaya. Kelly, could you join me in the ready room?"
Keliaya@anncaris <C> "On my way."
Keliaya@anncaris rings the doorbell a moment later
Keliaya@anncaris steps in, "Is this about our An escort? They just dropped out of warp right before you called."
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, we are going to split up here; they will proceed to the tomb world to investigate the situation there while we attempt to pick up the Lexington's trail. I just spoke with Commander Kasa and -
Keelah@crystyl:- due to high emotional tensions there, we are keeping the Valley Forge out of their sight. But I would like you to put a team together to travel with them"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Do you want me to lead this team personally?"
Keelah@crystyl:"I think it would be prudent, we need somebody in authority to ensure the An don't get out of control or try to conceal anything. There is a caveat on the team selection though"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And what's that?"
Keelah@crystyl:"A racial one. Since they have identified the species who were involved in the raid there, they have asked that nobody of said species joins them for the investigation in order to reduce potential -
Keelah@crystyl:- high tensions. So no Humans, Andorians, Vulcans or Saurians. The team will travel out of uniform as well, in essence posing as a freelance investigation squad"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I can work with that. Fortunately we have a very diverse crew, and with many Orions on board. Is Lennie still busy with the work on Junior, or has that settled down into a nice manageable pattern by now?"
Keelah@crystyl:"I think it's sufficiently in hand if you feel her presence will be beneficial"
Keliaya@anncaris:"From what we know so far, the Lexington seemed to have raided this world to exhume some very specific bodies. Having someone with biological knowledge might be helpful, so I'm thinking to bring either her or Kazra."
Keelah@crystyl:"Kazra might be better suited on this occasion. Lennie is also much more clean cut Starfleet, which may be more difficult to work with down there under the circumstances. I would recommend -
Keelah@crystyl:- considering Emma for a familiar Orion presence if desired, since her experience is much more broader she 'feels' less like a Starfleet officer I believe"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Good suggestion, Captain. I was considering Sin, but she might be /too/ un-Starfleet. I can bring Eva along in case we need a psionic. I don't think Sin's particularly destructive talent is called for here..."
Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Possibly not, but I think she would be able to contribute. Ultimately, it is your call. These are simply ideas to consider"
Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "I'll have the team ready soon, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl:"Once you're ready, report to the Namaset"
Keliaya@anncaris meets with Kazra, Emma and Sin in the VF's transporter room after instructing them to prepare for a mission in plain clothes
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin looks Kelly up and down and turns to Emma with a smirk, "Guess you were right"
Emma Ralde@crystyl chuckles, holding her hand out to which Sin reluctantly slaps a strip of latinum which Emma victoriously pockets
Keliaya@anncaris glances between the two curiously, "Do I get to know what that was about?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "After seeing my culturally traditional choice of civilian outfit, the good Ensign wagered that you would find this as an excuse to wear something even more provocative. I wagered that you would have more dignity like usual"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin grunts at her defeat
Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "We're headed to a cemetery, not a club. And we're still technically on duty even though we ditched the uniforms, so I still have to look the part for an officer. Wouldn't look very commanding in swimwear now, would I?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin pulls a sideways look, "I don't know, you might be able to pull it off"
Emma Ralde@crystyl slaps Sin around the back of the head, "Oi! No talking her into changes just to win the bet. No backsies!"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Kazra eyerolls, looking to Kelly, "See what I've had to put up with while we were waiting?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"You must've dealt with worse in sickbay. I've heard about some very nightmarish patients..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Kazra chuckles, "Yeah, /some/ can be quite immature..." she slooowly turns
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin shivers like someone just walked over her grave...
Emma Ralde@crystyl chuckles, "See what /I've/ been putting up with this time Commander!"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin looks between the others, "Hey, what about me and all my suffering?!"
Emma Ralde@crystyl & Kazra just give her a look that says it all
Keliaya@anncaris:"Okay, let's transport over before this gets out of control..."
Keliaya@anncaris steps onto the transporter pad
Emma Ralde@crystyl & the others all follow, chuckling
Keliaya@anncaris:"Everyone do try to be on your best behaviour..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin, "Yeah you two..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl & Kazra, "..."
Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Energize."
Keliaya@anncaris | The team disappears into transporter beams, rematerializing in the transporter room of the Namaset. It is significantly larger than the transporter room they left, consisting of multiple -
Keliaya@anncaris - transporter pads in one chamber. A female Vesan awaits them just off the pad
Keliaya@anncaris | Vesan: "Welcome to the Namaset. I'm First Lieutenant Meret."
Keliaya@anncaris:"I'm Commander Keliaya of the Valley Forge. This is Commander Kazra Meel, our Chief Medical Officer and Ensigns Sin and Emma Ralde."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret: "We'll be arriving at the tomb world in just a few hours, but we've given a guest bunk to you for your stay. Depending on how long we're there, you might need it for the return journey when we catch back up with your ship."
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Good thinking."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret: "The credit goes to the Commander. Follow me, I'll show you the way," she turns to lead
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Back on the VF, the ship continues in the reported direction of the Lexington's course while the Namaset heads to the tomb world
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Two quiet hours of travel go by as Keelah idly monitors the bridge with Kelly away. The time for a shift change approaches and the lift door opens with Lennie and Ann stepping out to take their consoles on the bridge
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "There you are Commander. I was worried Keelah was getting bored and was about to head into her ready room and leave me the most senior officer in charge."
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie pauses, and turns on the spot making as if she's going straight back into the lift
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 runs after her, "Wait, Keelah's still on the bridge! You've got nothing to worry about."
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie turns with a smirk, "Ah, I'm-a just messin' with ya. Go on, get yaself some rest"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 chuckles, "I'll wait until Tee gets here. Unless you want to take over comms for a change, but then Ensign Shankar is going to have to stay overtime on Science..."
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Oh right! Ok, you'd best wait for Tee then, yeah"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I have a feeling Tiah's run off somewhere again and that's what's holding her up."
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie chuckles, "Yeah, probably!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Anyways, how's Junior doing?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie smiles, "Great, yeah! At this rate, we'll prob'ly be fit t'give him his own crew before long!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Is he making more of these...consoles still?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie nods, "Mhmm! Seems he's really tryin' a give us everythin' we need"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Is it all just for monitoring still, or can we input information to him and actually like...pilot him like a ship?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "It's gettin' there. Still some work t'do in understandin' first though"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Yes, he's still learning as-" she turns back to her console as something flashes up. "Captain, we're being hailed by the Aberen."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | A male Vesan appears on the viewscreen. Keelah has mainly communicated with Commander Kesa of the Namaset, though she still recognizes the Vesan as Commander Tahos of the Aberen
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "Captain Se'Lai. We have a problem."
Keelah@crystyl:"And that is?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "The Makesis broadcasted a combat alert a few minutes ago, but we are unable to establish further contact with them. They must have run into something while scouting ahead, and either -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - they've already been destroyed or their communications are being jammed."
Keelah@crystyl:"Send us their last known position"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos nods, "This is where the combat alert came from."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"We've got the coordinates, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl:"eta at maximum speed?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "We can get there in thirteen minutes, Cap'n. Shall I set course now, or do we wanna gather the other ships?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Engage at maximum warp. Eva, update the rest of the group and advise to follow with caution"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, tapping her console, "Sending the update now."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann meanwhile increases the VF's warp speed, announcing, "We're on our way at maximum warp now, Cap'n. Looks like Aberen's just behind us too."
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, let's push what we've got to spare to the long range arrays and get a glimpse of the situation as soon as we can"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | After just a few minutes, the Makesis appears on Lennie's long-range sensors. It doesn't seem to be moving, but its position is still at the coordinates they received
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Seems they've definitely had a scrape with someone out here. I can see signs of damage on the exterior hull... looks like engines are disabled at the least too"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "Who'd attack 'em here? Didn't the An bulk up this sector after the Lexington went an' raided the tomb world? Should be less problems with pirates, not more..."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is assuming it was pirates"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"You think it can be Dominion?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Or the Lexington, or someone else we haven't even considered yet"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I am seeing trace elements of polaron energy which would favour the Dominion theory. There is some heavy antimatter radiation in places too, but no sign of issues with their core"
Keelah@crystyl:"Any debris from other ships in the area?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni shakes her head, "Nothing that I can identify. But the radiation is making it difficult to get a good reading out there, I can't even determine life signs or not"
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, take us to red alert"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni does so
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"We can send the readings to the Aberen. They're more familiar with this region than we are, not to mention their own ships."
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Please do"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 taps on her console, sending the data. Barely half a minute later, she says, "The Aberen is contacting us again."
Keelah@crystyl:"Hopefully that means they see something we don't. On screen"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Commander Tahos appears on the viewscreen again, "This is bad. Looks like they were hit by the Rak'Hadar."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "Means 'Poison Warriors' in the Dominion administrative language. One of the nastier bands of zealots out there."
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, what do we know about them?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "That radiation in your readings is their signature. They use dirty antimatter torpedoes designed to flood their targets with radiation. Weakens the crew and makes it impossible to -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - transport survivors out. Hence the name. The Rak'Hadar themselves, they specialize in fighting in irradiated environments."
Keelah@crystyl:"I take that to imply that they would have attempted a boarding action to face the crew head on?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "Most likely. Which means they must have a ship or ships cloaked nearby. Once we arrive, Aberen will conduct antiproton sweeps to reveal them."
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, we can work with that"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "ETA two minutes, Cap'n."
Keelah@crystyl:"Take us into a standard perimeter survey once we arrive"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "Aye Cap'n."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I can see boarding craft attached to the hull now, and there are definitely lifesigns on board. But it's impossible to distinguish one from the other with the radiation"
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, get the MACO's on standby for boarding and brief them on what we know"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods, "On it"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Two minutes later, the MACOs are assembled and the VF drops out of warp with the drifting An escort in front of them
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | As the VF begins a perimeter survey, the Aberen drops out of warp just behind it and starts its own search using antiproton sweeps
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | It only takes about a minute of searching before a ship decloaks
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ensign Nqakula: "Looks like a Dominion attack ship. One of the old classes from the Dominion War."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The attack ship immediately turns and seems to flee as it is revealed. The Aberen fires a few shots after it before beginning pursuit
Keelah@crystyl:"Can we get a tractor beam on them?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Lennie manages to get a tractor lock on the fleeing ship! The sudden stop causes the Aberen to overshoot, and as it turns itself around, a second old attack ship decloaks on its port, opening -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - fire with its polaron beams followed by a salvo of three torpedoes. There's nothing the VF can do about the beams from this range, though Rianni can try to shoot down the torpedoes
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni does so with the PD system
Keelah@crystyl:"Return fire. Target to disable"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni begins a strategic firing pattern in an attempt to disable the second ship's engines
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The PD system shoots down the torpedoes, each of which releases significant antimatter radiation as it detonates. Fortunately, it's harmless detonating in the middle of space. The polaron -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - beams still do good damage to the unsuspecting Aberen's shields, but they hold. Rianni's return fire causes the second ship to begin turning and fleeing...
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Despite being from roughly the same era as the VF, the old Dominion ship hasn't been through as many upgrades as the VF. It does its best to evade, but the phaser bolts disable the little attack ship's engines, leaving it adrift
Keelah@crystyl:"Nicely done. Now we just to let our An hosts decide what they're going to do with the first one"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Before the Aberen can act, a third ship decloaks behind it, placing the An ship right between itself and the VF
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 FX | https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/sto_gamepedia/images/f/f8/Ship_Variant_-_DOM_-_Legendary_Jem%27Hadar_Vanguard_Pilot_Attack_Ship_%28T6%29.png/revision/latest?cb=20220824165734
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Nqakula: "That's not an old design!"
Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed it is not"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I can't get a clear line of sight without letting the first one go to reposition us. Tactical analysis is underway though"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The new attack ship immediately fires two pulses of its cannons, stripping away what's left of the Aberen's shields before activating a tractor beam of its own, holding the An ship firmly in the middle as a ship-shield
Keelah@crystyl:"How far out are the rest of our group?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "Aethon is closest but it'll be another eleven minutes till they get here."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "This must be what the Dominion has been using since the war. The forward cannons bear an uncanny resemblance to the configuration of a Defiant"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Captain, the newer Dominion ship is hailing us."
Keelah@crystyl:"Did not think I would hear that again in this context... alright, put them through"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | A male Vorta appears on the viewscreen, "Starfleet vessel. Cease fire. We are not your enemy."
Keelah@crystyl:"Last I checked, we have not fired on your vessel yet so there is nothing to cease. All we have done is return fire on your support ship who decided to attack us first"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "We are not attacking you. We are attacking the An. My instructions are to bring you to the Lexington without any An presence. We had hoped they went with the other ship to the tomb world. Unfortunately, they're keeping a very close eye on you."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is because they are our friends and are travelling with us"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "The An cannot be trusted."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann scoffs a little at such a statement coming from a Vorta
Keelah@crystyl:"And I am quite certain they would say the same of you. Yet both you and they are our friends - last I checked - and so I have no interest in your conflict, nor your subjective opinions of one -
Keelah@crystyl:- another. Unfortunately when you go and attack our escort scout ship, that makes things rather more of interest to me"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "We did not attack either of these ships. We were trying to approach you when that first ship found us. They attacked us first, forcing us to retaliate. And, as you were here to -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - see for yourself, the second An ship also fired upon us first when the Rak'Hadar vessel attempted to disengage. As you can see, we are only defending ourselves."
Keelah@crystyl:"You are implying that you are not associated with the Rek'Hadar who first attacked the scout ship then?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "We are. The Rak'Hadar are our escorts. I admit, they may have been a little...overzealous with the first scout ship. But we have secured some of its crew alive. If you care so much for these An, we will leave them to recuperate here, permitted they do not attempt to follow us."
Keelah@crystyl:"And now I assume you would like your escorts' people back who went ahead and boarded the An ship"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "Actually I don't much care about them, and they're all too willing to give up their lives for the Dominion. If it helps, the An may board the other ship and get some degree of satisfaction from avenging their fallen. It might keep them occupied while we depart and throw them off."
Keelah@crystyl:"Of course you don't... and just how far do we need to go to reach the Lexington now?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "About a two week journey at our maximum speeds. They couldn't very well loiter right by the tomb world, after all. The An are still quite furious about that."
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, and that is why we need to speak with the Lexington. Still, if they are that far out then they can easily halve that journey time by moving to rendezvous with us"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "If it means you are willing to throw off the An, I'm sure that can be arranged."
Keelah@crystyl:"I need to speak with them, as I am sure you can understand. We have yet to establish the extent of the damage your people caused in the initial 'overzealousness' as you put it, so we must first tend to our allies relief needs"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Vorta sighs, "Ah yes, the famed Starfleet kindness. Fine, if you must. But the Lexington will not under any circumstances meet with you if these An escorts are present. And none of us here will give you their location otherwise, if you attempt to force it from us."
Keelah@crystyl:"If the Lexington is still the ship and Captain I remember, she will not sit idly by and play your games while her sister ship is inexplicably just a few days away"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "Captain Omar was the one who set these parameters for the meeting, not the Dominion."
Keelah@crystyl hrms, "As you say. Well then, the sooner I confer with our An friends the sooner we can get things moving forwards again"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "As you wish. Oh, and if the deaths of the Rak'Hadar boarding parties will no longer serve a purpose to distract the An, would you allow them to pull back to their vessels?"
Keelah@crystyl:"That is not my decision to make"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "Very well. I never like to see good resources go to waste, but sometimes sacrifices must be made for the sake of diplomacy, I suppose."
Keelah@crystyl:"Sacrificing sentient life is not typically something I associate with diplomatic negotiations" she smiles, "But then this is why we come out here to explore other cultures after all. So, we'll-
Keelah@crystyl:- be back in touch once I have spoken with the An. Valley Forge out"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Vorta nods and the comm ends
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "Vorta. Their ships might've changed, but their people's still the same as ever..."
Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed... Eva, you know what comes next"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I have the Aberen on a channel. The Aethon and Loki are also approaching under cloak, what instructions should I relay them?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Hold position out of range for the moment. Put the Aberan on screen and relay all transcripts to the Loki for a rolling update"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods and taps her console. Commander Tahos appears on the viewscreen again
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "Zealots we were expecting, but we didn't think a proper Dominion ship would be in this region. I take it we're being held hostage against you?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, they claim to have come here on behalf of the Lexington to find us. The Rek'Hadar are their escorts and supposedly acted without authority in their initial attack. They are requesting that we -
Keelah@crystyl:- accompany them to the Lexington with the caveat that none of you accompany us from here"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "We have orders to accompany you due to the Lexington's actions. Don't get me wrong, I don't think you're in league with them and a danger to the Commonwealth. But I can't just go against my orders."
Keelah@crystyl:"I appreciate that, and have already laid the groundwork for one potential workaround"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "What're you suggesting?"
Keelah@crystyl:"I have already established our intention to send assistance to your boarded vessel under the guise of providing medical support and relief. Of course it may be genuinely needed for all we know too. -
Keelah@crystyl:- The point being that this will provide a window of opportunity for you to send representatives back to the Valley Forge with our returning away teams. Further to this, we have our cloaked support -
Keelah@crystyl:- ships on the sideline still. We can play along with the Dominion's insistences, and then more of you can join the QanwI’ which is capable of catching up with us even at high warp. The Loki can remain here in stealth support for your ships while they await our return"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos thinks for a moment before nodding, "That sounds like a reasonable plan. We'll send some aid teams to the Makesis as well. Some of them will board your shuttles and come back with you, -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - others will probably have to take over some positions on the Makesis. I doubt anyone there is in the shape to join you, and if they are, their own ship needs them."
Keelah@crystyl:"I understand, have you been in touch with them at all yet? Do we know the current situation over there?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos shakes his head, "Ships like the Aberen and Makesis don't have much crew. Anyone who isn't down from radiation sickness would've been downed by the Rak'Hadar. How many lethally...well, -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - we're going to have to see for ourselves. But I don't think anyone's conscious over there."
Keelah@crystyl:"We'll send an armed escort as well then. The Dominion have conceded to resign the fate of the boarders to you. How do you want to handle them?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "Are there Jem'Hadar or Vorta on the Dominion military ship?"
Keelah@crystyl:"It was a Vorta we spoke with"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "Good. Ask the Vorta to order them back to their ships. As much as I'd like to avenge my fellow soldiers on the Makesis, the Rak'Hadar aren't going to go down without a fight. And I'm not throwing away more An lives just to get some revenge."
Keelah@crystyl:"Very well then, I shall do so"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos: "I'll have my teams ready. Stay alert. The Vorta aren't as honourable as the Jem'Hadar. They may promise ceasefire one moment and break it the next."
Keelah@crystyl:"Oh I am very much aware of that from our last war against them, but thank you for the concern"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Tahos nods, "Take care, Captain." The comm ends
Keelah@crystyl sighs, "Alright, nearly there. Rianni"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "They're already gathering alongside the relief crew in the starboard hangar Captain"
Keelah@crystyl smiles, "I had a feeling. Alright Eva, let's get back to our Vorta friend"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods and brings the Vorta onscreen again
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "Captain. Have you reached an arrangement with the An?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, they anticipate the entire crew to be either sick or injured at this point so welcome our aid. We will shortly despatch a shuttle or two to ferry them back and forth as needed while the An -
Keelah@crystyl:- will do the same to restaff the ship with their own personnel. As for your people, they have instructed me to ask that you recall them all to their ship"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "Good." He nods to someone offscreen. "They're pulling back now. We're also releasing the second An ship from our tractor. I assume you'll be coming with us once the situation on the An ship is under control?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, the An were understandably displeased by the arrangement. But fortunately for you the provision of our aid to their sick and wounded served as sufficient offset to earn their favour this time.-
Keelah@crystyl:- As soon as the medical situation is stabilized we can get underway" turns to her side, "As soon as the An vessel is free, release the tractor beam"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Dominion ship does indeed keep their word and releases the An ship!
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni promptly follows suit
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "Excellent. We'll effect repairs to the Rak'Hadar ship you hit while we wait."
Keelah@crystyl:"Hopefully we did not cause too much of an inconvenience, but if you require assistance you need only ask" she smiles
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "I think we would have things under control, judging from these preliminary damage reports."
Keelah@crystyl:"Glad to hear it"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The comm ends and the new Dominion ship locks a tractor beam on the damaged old attack ship. All three move off, putting some distance between themselves and the An
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, get the shuttles moving. Eva, does T'Lana have anything to add after following all of that?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Only some intel on the ship. The Loki can't get an ID on the Vorta, it's not one the Federation has encountered before."
Keelah@crystyl:"We'll take all we can get"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I'll send the intel over to Tactical."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Thanks Eva!"
Keliaya@anncaris | As the VF deals with the Dominion, Kelly and her team materialize in a transporter room on the tomb world. The Namaset team, led by First Lieutenant Meret, beams in on the pad next to them. A -
Keliaya@anncaris - male Masan awaits them off the pad, the same one from the intro sequence where the Lexington attacks
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret steps off the pad, raising a hand as if performing a Vulcan salute, though without the accompanying hand gesture, "First Lieutenant Meret, cruiser Namaset."
Keliaya@anncaris | The Masan returns the gesture curtly and formally, and it becomes clear that this is more equivalent to a human military salute, "First Lieutenant Alyan, tomb world Nekh'tentau."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret: "As you've been informed Lieutenant, we're tracking the ship that attacked here." She gestures to the undercover Starfleet team. "We've brought some specialists to examine the scene and see what we can learn."
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "Yes, I've been told the purpose of your visit," he turns and starts to lead the way. "The environmental systems at the area they raided have been activated for you to traverse."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret looks to the Starfleet team, "Tomb worlds keep the environmental systems off in most of their installations unless they have visitors. They're usually defended and maintained by a very -
Keliaya@anncaris - small crew, so there's no need to have it all powered up."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"And I guess the lack of environmental conditions generally makes for a more undisturbed tomb. So what happened with the attackers then, did they take out the monitoring team and run the -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- environmental systems for their raid?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "We tried to stop their ship with our defense turrets first, but they were no match and quickly taken down. Then they transported into the control area, where we keep the environmental -
Keliaya@anncaris - systems on and stunned us. The ones who attacked us had combat suits, but according to our system logs, they engaged the environmental systems after we were out."
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "Everything we know from there on comes from our computer systems. More of them beamed in, without suits we believe, opened the two tombs, stole the remains of our honoured dead, and promptly departed."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Our information indicates they disturbed two tombs specifically. Did they search around, or go directly for these ones?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "The database logs show that after we were stunned, someone searched for where these two specific officers were buried. The other raiders then transported in near these tombs and went directly for them."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I guess having a limited number of suits might explain it. But then, why go to the trouble of beaming others in when there were already suited ones here who could have just gone on themselves?" she ponders aloud
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "My guess, the ones who stunned us were warriors. They were well-coordinated and disciplined. Fought like soldiers. The ones that beamed in, they were either bosses of the operation, or -
Keliaya@anncaris - maybe scientists or doctors to identify that the remains really belonged to the right people. They definitely came here with a specific purpose- this wasn't some attempt to get to us psychologically."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"It sure does sound that way, and that makes a certain sense for an approach"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "The problem is, neither officer has any enemies that would want to disturb their bodies like this. They fought against the Dominion, but so did everyone else entombed here. They didn't -
Keliaya@anncaris - serve together either, nor were the previous investigators able to find any connection between them other than the fact that they were Andarash officers."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Hopefully we can spot something of relevance to this particular group then"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "Speaking of the previous investigation, what exactly do you specialize in? I assume the Namaset brought you with reason to think you might find something we've overlooked so far."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"We specialize in the people who carried out this raid. Been tracking them a while now in fact"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "Have they wronged you as well?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Nothing personal, it's just the job"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan nods, "If you've been hired to track them, then they must've wronged others."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"In my experience, everyone's wronged someone at some point"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "I suppose so. But the officers whose tombs were disturbed here certainly didn't wrong someone enough to warrant this."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret nods, "There's more to this than we're seeing. That's why we brought the specialists."
Keliaya@anncaris | The group arrives in one of the big chambers, surrounded by tombs on all sides
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan gestures to one of the empty spots, "That's one of the sarcophagi that was taken."
Emma Ralde@crystyl looks around, "So they actually took the sarcophagi itself, not emptied it?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan nods, "Our sensors indicate the sarcophagus was opened first. That's why I suspect they might've had medical specialists confirm the identities before transporting the whole unit away."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Alright, well we should probably take a look around. No problem if we do a little scanning and all right? Don't worry, we won't do anything disruptive"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "Go ahead. I'll observe from here. I can provide you with copies of our sensor and system logs, and lead you on to the next site when you're ready."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Appreciate it"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Back on the VF, the shuttles are away and begin docking with the Makesis, using external docking ports as the much smaller vessel's bays have already been occupied by the Aberen's two shuttles
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 listens to something in an earpiece before reporting, "MACOs and away team are on board, Captain. The ship is clear of any potential hostiles and the crew is all down. Initial assessment shows significant fatalities, but some of the crew can be saved and medical personnel are doing what they can."
Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. We'll let the MACO's coordinate with the personnel swap while the medical personnel focus on their jobs"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, tapping her console, "Some of the An are working on purging the radiation from the ship."
Keelah@crystyl:"Good to know"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 announces a few minutes later, "The An personnel are starting to board. The survivors are being stabilized and moved to their sickbay now."
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, let's keep a close eye on things"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"The An's unlocked the systems on the bridge and our people have access to their logs as well now. It looks like the Vorta was telling the truth, the Makesis did open fire first. The Dominion ship -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- was given a warning first and didn't try to explain its presence, just turned and ran. That's when the Makesis gave pursuit and attacked."
Keelah@crystyl:"The Vorta are expert manipulators, they know better than to try and lie about something we can easily call them out on. As for the An scout ship, they should know better than to pick a fight when they are scouting"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "They were definitely overzealous. They probably thought it was one old ship, which the Makesis was more than a match for. They were surprised by the second ship, which pulled off a -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - similar flanking maneuver to the one on the Aberen. That's when their engines went down and they were hit by the radioactive torpedo."
Keelah@crystyl:"True. But after they issued their warning the Dominion ship turned about, they should have left it at that"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "This is technically Commonwealth territory now, an' the Commonwealth's at war with the Dominion. I can see why they engaged, but yeah, it definitely would've been smarter to call for backup. Least have the Aberen present before attackin'."
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, if it was a solo patrol then understandable. But they were advanced scouts for a larger task force which means that is their first responsibility, but also that said task force is within support range"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "It was definitely an impulse action. The medical personnel are on their way back now. Radiation's cleared enough for Aberen to beam additional support over, and the An should have things in hand here."
Keelah@crystyl:"Do we have all of the personnel transfers in hand?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"They're all on board the shuttles and ready to go."
Keelah@crystyl:"Perfect. Let's wrap things up before the Vorta starts getting ancy"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Recalling the shuttles now."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen, the shuttles undock from the Makesis and return to the Valley Forge. A short while later, Rianni gets confirmation that everyone is back
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, signal the Dominion that we are ready to depart"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, sending the signal before announcing, "The Dominion ships are ready to go as well."
Keelah@crystyl:"Helm, form up with up and engage a parallel course"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Ann: "Aye Cap'n. Formin' up now."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The VF veers away from the An vessels and joins the three Dominion ships further out. As they jump to warp, the VF follows and the stars turn into starstreaks
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 glances to Lennie, "I assume Junior's still following us?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie nods, "Yeah, no tellin' him t'stand down jus' yet"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Hopefully we can figure that out soon, so he won't follow us into dangerous situations or anything."
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "I wouldn't worry too much. From all we seen so far, he an' th'Forge often got a better read on tha' kinda thing than we do"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Good point. Does he seem nervous about us following the Dominion at all?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie nods, "Aye, but he's always nervous around unfamiliar ships at first"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 glances back to her console, "The Vorta's ship wants to talk again."
Keelah@crystyl:"Probably curious about Junior. On screen"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Vorta appears on the viewscreen, "I'm glad you chose to come with us. As you've kept your word, I shall keep mine- once we're far enough away from the An, I shall send an encoded message to the Lexington to meet us halfway."
Keelah@crystyl smiles, "I'm glad to see we can all be mature about this little misunderstanding back there and proceed forwards in the spirit of friendship"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Vorta returns the smile, "As am I. What exactly is this...creature following you? Our computers have no record of such a lifeform. It is not associated with the An, is it?"
Keelah@crystyl:"No, it is quite honestly an unknown to us as well. Some time ago now the Valley Forge was investigating an anomalous energy field out towards the far rim. Something in that energy used part of the -
Keelah@crystyl:- ship to incubate a new lifeform which - after we found ourselves in this corner of the galaxy - grew to become the creature that you see"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "That would explain why we have no information on it. An interesting and unusual story, but I have no reason to doubt its validity. The Andarash has never been known to employ sentient spacefaring creatures, after all."
Keelah@crystyl:"I'm glad you think so, because there is nothing we can do about it either way. The creature has its own mind and we hold no influence over it. So far; where this ship goes, he goes"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vorta: "Very well. We shall take this opportunity to catalogue it for the Dominion."
Keelah@crystyl:"Of course. Just take it under advisement to keep it to passive scans. He still gets nervous around strangers"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Vorta nods, "I will keep that in mind. And allow me to properly introduce myself. I am Vilgoth, loyal servant of the Founders."
Keelah@crystyl bows her head in greeting, "Captain T'Keel Se'Lai"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vilgoth: "We should be meeting with your fellow Starfleet vessel in about a week. You're welcome to contact us if there's anything else you'd like to know. I can't share classified Dominion state secrets, of course. But I can tell you more about your friends."
Keelah@crystyl:"I would welcome the opportunity to learn more of them. It has been too long since we seen them now"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vilgoth: "They've received a few repairs and upgrades during their time here in the Gamma Quadrant, but for the most part they are still the same ship you remember. The crew haven't changed -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - from what I'm aware. One of my fellow Vorta is on board as an attache- Eris 9. I believe you would be familiar with her, the newest incarnation of the first Vorta to make contact with your Federation."
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, I recall the name. Though I do not believe she was a 9 back then"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vilgoth: "That she was not. More recently, the Lexington's received a Commonwealth attache as well."
Keelah@crystyl perks a brow at that
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vilgoth smiles slightly, "I thought that would surprise you. I shall let Captain Omar explain their presence once we meet with the Lexington. You're more likely to believe her than me, anyways."
Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps. However right now I am mostly curious about the chosen term attache, since this implies a government action driving the assignment. But were that the case, then the Commonwealth would be aware of them"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vilgoth: "The Commonwealth is not aware of them by design, but it is official...to an extent. You will see, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl:"I look forward to it"
Keliaya@anncaris | On the tomb world, the team is now onto the area with the second sarcophagi after the first area reveals nothing of interest. Once again, through all the scanning around they are only able to -
Keliaya@anncaris - locate some fingerprints left behind by the Lexington personnel
Keliaya@anncaris steps up behind Emma as she does some scanning, "Anything Ens- Emma?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl shakes her head, "Nothing beyond those fingerprints yet"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "And they don't tell us anything new..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I had hoped to find something astray in the latent transporter signatures at least"
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret steps over to the two, "The previous investigation collected some hair samples too. But I don't suppose that will be particularly useful either."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"It can be useful to verify findings at least"
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret nods, "I'll ask Lieutenant Alyan for it."
Keliaya@anncaris looks around the area again, "I wonder..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl turns to Kelly, "An idea?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"A thought," she calls after Meret who is just turning to talk with Alyan. "Lieutenant?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret turns around, "Hm?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Do bodies ever get misfiled in tombs like this?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret: "Almost never. You know how important honouring our dead is to us. There's a full genetic and medical record of every member of the Andarash, so we can identify bodies easily. And every -
Keliaya@anncaris - body gets checked before they're entombed, in addition to the initial identification upon death."
Keliaya@anncaris:"And the Lexington would've had no reason to suspect you would've switched the bodies, or otherwise put the wrong people in the tombs marked for them."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret shakes her head, "None that I can think of, at least."
Keliaya@anncaris glances back to Emma, "What if they weren't checking the bodies to verify their identity, but for something else? The plague we saw passed through this region, and it has mutagenic properties..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"It's a possibility, sure"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And if they double check identities here, then Lieutenant Alyan would have access to the medical files of everyone entombed here, wouldn't he?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret nods, "The tomb world should have access to that information, yes."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Ask him if he can provide the records of the two whose bodies were stolen."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meret turns back and resumes her way towards Alyan
Keliaya@anncaris waves Kazra over as they wait for Alyan to fetch the files
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Kazra joins them, "Got something?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Not yet, but I'm asking them to fetch some medical records. No idea if there's anything there, I just have a feeling."
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Kazra: "No problem, I'll take a look at them"
Keliaya@anncaris | A few minutes later, Alyan returns holding a PADD with a slightly perplexed expression on his face
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That doesn't look good..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan hands Kelly the PADD, "Here's the data on all the samples collected in the last investigation. The medical files you requested are there as well, but...we're missing some info."
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Kazra starts looking over the data, "What is missing from the files?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "All the data on the verification before entombing. It's nowhere to be found in the system."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Did the Lexington team delete it?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "No, the changes were made /after/ the raid. During the first investigation."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"You're saying that the investigation team deleted the files?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "It lines up, but it makes no sense. Why would the investigation team be covering up for the raiders?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Simple; because the raiders clearly revealed something that they did not want to be revealed"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"And given the circumstances, I'd wager good latinum that it's the reason these two were targeted in the first place too"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan nods, "This is very unsettling. The investigators were Andarash officers as well. Could someone high up in the Andarash be involved in the deaths of these officers? One /was/ a former Marshal..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That is more likely than this investigation team acting of their own accord"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Kazra turns to Kelly, "Take a look at this - you might be on to something with this Marshall - since he retired, his medical state has not changed in the slightest"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, taking the PADD and looking at what Kazra pointed out, "And I assume most people don't age as gracefully as Emma here..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl beams proudly
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Kazra shakes her head, "/Nobody/ goes so unchanged, especially at later life"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "These files haven't been changed. They come straight from Commonwealth and Andarash records. If someone tampered with them, it wasn't here at the tomb world."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yeah, I don't believe it would be anyone here. Seems to me this guy is suspect in a big way and this is some way of hiding his identity"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan: "Very troubling. Should we keep this quiet until you've completed your investigations?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I would if I were you. If this Marshall is suspect, there's no telling who else is involved. If these people are up to no good and they realize you're on to them, then you'll be in danger"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alyan nods, "Sensible advice. I won't let anyone else in on the missing information, unless they discover it for themselves."
Emma Ralde@crystyl looks to Kelly, "So what now? Seems we need to look into this first more"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Let's go back to the first one, see if we can find anything else there. I have a feeling there's not much more to be learned here. If they deleted the data, that first team might've covered up any -
Keliaya@anncaris:- more evidence to be found. Still, the fact that we know there's a coverup is something we didn't before."
Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Works for me"
Keliaya@anncaris | After some more searching on the tomb world, the team is unable to find any more information beyond the erased data and the Marshal's suspicious medical files. They beam back up to the Namaset with what they have and are gathered in the common room by their bunk
Keliaya@anncaris looks to Sin, "I know this is more Eva's speciality than yours, but did you sense that anyone down there might've been untruthful to us? Or withholding some information. Either Alyan or the Namaset team?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin shakes her head, "Nothing fun whatsoever. They were like a planetfull of dutiful little drones"
Emma Ralde@crystyl scoffs, "Try not to sound too disappointed"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We found something still. It's only a few pieces, but it could potentially explain the Lexington's actions. What do you all think?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"All this cloak and dagger stuff just makes me think back to the Loki and the infiltrators"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Commodore Fox was a changeling. If he's involved with infiltrating Starfleet, it's possible the people he's working with have been active in the Gamma Quadrant."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yeah, exactly"
Keliaya@anncaris:"What could the medical records be covering up, though? More changeling infiltrators? The An have specialized procedures for detecting them, though. Even the Federation have developed counters, and -
Keliaya@anncaris:- we've only had one conflict with the Dominion while the An have had four now. I feel like a changeling might be able to infiltrate them temporarily, but long term placement as an officer, especially a marshal seems like a stretch."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Just because Fox was a changeling doesn't mean they all are. It could be something else the An can't detect, and so yeah maybe there's a link to the bodies"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And the Lexington stole them to check if they were infiltrators, which was why they were opening the sarcophagi first before beaming them up."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That would seem the most likely"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin: "Or the Lexington is with the bad guys now and had to cover up the infiltration by removing the bodies"
Keliaya@anncaris:"As much as I hope that isn't true, it's possible. If these are the same 'bad guys' that Fox and the Loki infiltrators were associated with, we know they have people in Starfleet."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yeah... we might not like to consider it, but having seen it already we'd be foolish to rule anything out"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Exactly. We-" The door slides open and Commander Kesa of the Namaset steps in
Keliaya@anncaris stands, "Commander. I wasn't expecting you to visit down here. Can we help you?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "Actually, I wanted to inform you all of something. There's been a development. A...slight complication."
Emma Ralde@crystyl 's eyes narrow, "What kind of complication...?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "The Makesis was attacked by a small Dominion force seeking the Valley Forge. They know the location of the Lexington and wanted to lead your ship to it, with one caveat."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Sounds about right for the Dominion"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "They demanded that no An ship follow them. Captain Se'Lai snuck a small team from the Aberen on board, but the Aberen and Makesis have to remain behind. As well as the Namaset."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I guess they really put the Captain on the spot there huh"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa nods, "From what I've been told, they certainly did. She's gone with them for now, but your other ships have remained behind with the Aberen and Makesis. We'll be heading to their -
Keliaya@anncaris - position to await the Valley Forge's return. Once we get there, we can transfer you to your intelligence ship, the Loki."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Fair enough"
Keliaya@anncaris:"A good plan. Thanks for the update, Commander."
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "It shouldn't be long until we're there, as they've been holding position since the skirmish. We'll let you know when we're there."
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa turns and makes her exit from the room
Keliaya@anncaris sits back down, "I bet T'Lana wasn't expecting me back so soon..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Maybe she'll have some more insight on what we've found at least"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "She was at the centre of this infiltration business with Starfleet after all, and the Loki's clear of infiltrators now. It'll be safer to discuss this with Starfleet Intelligence than the -
Keliaya@anncaris:- An, knowing they probably still have enemies within."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Makes sense" she nods
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | After a week of quiet though uneasy travel at warp with their new Dominion escort, Keelah arrives on the bridge as they begin to near their destination
Keelah@crystyl takes her seat, "Any word from our escort?"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Eva shakes her head, "Nothing yet. We've just entered long-range sensor range of a system the Dominion ships seem to be headed towards, but there's no sign of the Lexington yet."
Keelah@crystyl:"Anything noteworthy about the system itself?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Yeah, actually... Th'second planet looks like it could be inhabited, or at least was once. Th'surface shows clear signs o'artificial development an' I'm-a seein' debris in orbit"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Looks consistent wit' worlds th'Dominion's purged - whole surface's melted down an' re-crystallized"
Keelah@crystyl:"A curious choice of destination. Keep an eye on it and see what else you discover. It may just be happenchance, but it may also be pertinent"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Ann: "Well, a purged world's a good place for a secret meet up. Nobody else's got reason to be here. But if this was a Dominion system before, could have traps or somethin' else hidden."
Keelah@crystyl:"A very good point"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I'll keep an eye out"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | A few more minutes pass as they approach the system, then...
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "There's a ship decloaking, hidden in the outer asteroid belt. It's a Dominion cloaking signature but it's mass is far greater than any of the ships with us at the moment"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I'm trying to get a fix through the asteroid field... yes! That's the Lexington alright"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | As the Lexington starts to emerge from the asteroid beld, Eva announces, "They're hailing us, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl:"Good. I was afraid this was going to be an awkward approach. On screen"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 appears on the viewscreen in her command chair on the Lexington's bridge, "Keelah. I'm glad you found your way here. I'd ask what you're doing in the Gamma Quadrant, but I assume you have just as many questions about our operations here."
Keelah@crystyl:"One or two perhaps, yes..."
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"I don't blame you. Getting involved in a foreign conflict, it would seem to go against everything Starfleet taught us, wouldn't it?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Even on our rimward journey we had to get our hands dirty on occasion but it was always within acceptable parameters. However that did not include taking sides in an open conflict, I have to admit"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"We haven't taken sides with anyone. Not in this conflict you're seeing, at least. Though I imagine the An have been presenting it otherwise. Rumour has it that you've been travelling with them, -
Leila Omar@annpc#557:- and their official story is that we're fighting for the Dominion. We're working /with/ the Dominion, but we're not fighting their war or taking orders from their Founders."
Keelah@crystyl:"All evidence to the contrary. That stunt on the tomb world pushed it beyond political portrayals and into the public eye. There are independent bounty hunters out for your blood after that"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"That was a gamble to get your attention, yes. We could've done it a little more subtly, but if the An didn't realize it was us, neither would you. You did investigate the tomb world, didn't you?"
Keelah@crystyl:"It is ongoing"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"You sent a team there, didn't you? I suppose it would be a bad idea to approach that world with another Sentinel-class cruiser," she pauses and frowns slightly. "You sent them with the An, and -
Leila Omar@annpc#557:- with your escort gone, that's when the Dominion decided to approach you."
Keelah@crystyl:"That pretty much sums it up"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"Well, this is going to be more difficult to explain. I was hoping you'd already have your findings from the tomb world with you by the time you found us. You know the An well by now, don't you?"
Keelah@crystyl:"We knew them well before we arrived in this quadrant as they have long been friends and allies to us and the Coalition since the escalation of the Horde conflict"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"Then you must know that even though they're structured very differently from the Federation, and their Andarash is more militaristic than Starfleet, we're ultimately not too different from each -
Leila Omar@annpc#557:- other. They're not conquerors like the Dominion. The Commonwealth exists for mutual cooperation between civilizations who want to work together, much like us. They just go about it differently."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is consistent with our overall understanding, yes"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"And with that view of who they are, does this recent war seem like them? Capitalizing on the misfortunes of the Dominion to seize their territory? They have a troubled history with the Dominion, -
Leila Omar@annpc#557:- that's true. But the Federation has fought some harsh wars with the Klingons and the Romulans. Did we use the Praxis incident or the destruction of Romulus as an opportunity to expand into Klingon and Romulan space?"
Keelah@crystyl:"That sounds like a very one sided perception of their actions. From what we have seen they have been doing exactly as the Federation would have, albeit a little more loosely insofar that they -
Keelah@crystyl:-welcome far more into their ranks than we would. As we have seen they have reached out to provide aid and support to troubled words, and accepted those who requested Commonwealth membership whilst -
Keelah@crystyl:- also respecting and supporting those who desired independence. We even helped them arbitrate the decision on a conflicted world"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"That's because you've only seen what the An want you to see. The Dominion are fighting this war defensively. The An have chased down Dominion ships wherever they're seen. Hunted down Founders who -
Leila Omar@annpc#557:- aren't even directing the war effort. The Great Link is divided. Most of the Dominion has chosen to consolidate what they have and allow worlds to secede. A few Founders are still clinging to the -
Leila Omar@annpc#557:- past, but they don't represent the Dominion. And then there's the impostors, some kind of synthetic lifeform with the abilities of a Changeling."
Keelah@crystyl:"Synthetic 'imposters' you say..."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 nods, "The Dominion has taken to calling them False Founders, or False Gods for the more brainwashed of them. I know the Dominion aren't saints. My father gave his life protecting the Federation -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - from them. I've thought a lot about this over the last few months. The Gamma Quadrant would probably be better off if the Commonwealth becomes the dominant power over the Dominion. But this -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - isn't the way to achieve that. This entire war, it's part of something larger that we don't fully understand yet. All I know is, someone is pulling the strings of both the Dominion and the Commonwealth to make it happen."
Keelah@crystyl:"A bigger picture that sounds more familiar than might expect"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"What do you mean, Keelah?"
Keelah@crystyl:"You were probably already out here at the time. But an enemy who may well be your false gods tried to divide the Coalition. They made a number of attempts at subterfuge including undermining -
Keelah@crystyl:- Captain LaForge. Prior to that they used Starfleet Security to undermine the Admiral and attempt to force all of DSEC into drydock. All efforts have been countered of course, but their presence is known and widespread. Their interests are galaxy wide"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 narrows her eyes, "Is that so? That might explain some of our latest findings..."
Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps it would be prudent for us to discuss this in person then"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 nods, "Yes, I think so. The Lexington has the recent evidence we've collected, as well as representatives from both the Commonwealth and the Dominion. It would be the more logical place to meet, but I understand if you're still a little apprehensive."
Keelah@crystyl:"I am not foolish enough to believe a convenient story without evaluating all of the facts first. So yes, right now our 'facts' are that the Lexington - by design or manipulation of events - had -
Keelah@crystyl:- such a reputation as a rogue vessel serving the Dominion that the Valley Forge was attacked on sight by those we know as our allies. Our 'facts' tell us that this notoriety has expanded to the -
Keelah@crystyl:- public domain and serves as a catch all for Starfleet as a whole at this point. And finally, our 'facts' include data on a seemingly unsolicited raid on a tomb to defile the honoured dead. Logic -
Keelah@crystyl:- dictates that these 'facts' must first be weighed against your facts before determining which is the more accurate reflection. Of course I am apprehensive, but that does not induce fear. I will join you shortly to review the situation more thoroughly"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 smiles, "I'm glad to hear that. I'll see you on the Lexington shortly then, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Valley Forge out"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie watches the comm close and looks to Keelah, "Sooo... not much of an axe t'grind then...?" she smirks
Keelah@crystyl glances back, "Not at all. But this our current perception of things and even if Captain Omar is correct in all of this, I remain skeptical about some of the decisions and her due consideration for-
Keelah@crystyl:- the larger impact of her actions"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Well I hope with that in mind you're planning to go alone. I could have Daz and his squad polish their boots up for escort duty if you like, Captain? That would certainly get the point across"
Keelah@crystyl:"A little excessive perhaps" she stands, "But no, I will not go alone. You're coming with me"
Keelah@crystyl turns, "Lennie-"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie's shoulders slump, "I know, I know... just don't go startin' any fights an' expectin' me t'handle 'em!"
Keelah@crystyl:"I shall make every effort to comply" she smiles, heading out with Rianni trotting to catch up and join her
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Keelah and Rianni materialize in one of the Lexington's transporter rooms, where Leila stands to greet them
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"Welcome to the Lexington. She's more or less as you remember her, with a few modifications here and there. Not quite as extensive as the Forge from what we've seen on sensors."
Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Captain, I hope we shall get to compare notes while we are here. Permission to come aboard?"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"Permission granted, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl steps down with a smile, "Circumstances not withstanding, it is good to see you again Leila. This is LT Tierno, my CTO"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 smiles back, "Likewise, Keelah." She looks to Rianni, "Your name sounds familiar. You've been serving on the Forge for a while, haven't you?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods, "Yes Captain, I joined as a cadet before we set out on the rimward voyage"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"Yes, I thought you weren't a lieutenant then, or Chief of Tactical. Rising through the ranks quickly, I see."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni flushes a little and smiles at the acknowledgement, "Thank you Captain"
Keelah@crystyl:"You could call her a victim of her own success"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 turns and starts leading the way out, "Making your way up the ranks is the dream of many young officers. But actually being able to handle the responsibility that comes with it is something -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - else. I take it that the Lieutenant's doing well so far, which is why you've made her your CTO."
Keelah@crystyl:"In addition to overcoming emotional trauma that would break many seasoned officers in her first year as a cadet, she had already severed a more than satisfactory term as a fully qualified bridge -
Keelah@crystyl:- officer during her field training. Believe it or not, she is also the brainchild behind our tactical coordination upgraded which was widely regarded as a determining factor in the battle of the -
Keelah@crystyl:- Heart. And to top it all off, she gained her first solo command experience with the Voyager scenario. So when her predecessor took a promotion to command following that battle, it was only logical to appoint her to the role"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni shuffles along quietly behind the pair, suddenly feeling like a cadet again as she listens to them talk about her
Leila Omar@annpc#557 nods, "It certainly sounds like she's had quite a career so far. You've all had a very eventful journey to the rim, from what we gathered from the reports we picked up."
Keelah@crystyl smiles with an almost maternal pride, "She certainly has. And yes it has been quite the experience for us all"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"How did you get from the sphere on the rim to the Gamma Quadrant? An Iconian gateway?"
Keelah@crystyl:"We owe that - at least in part - to the aforementioned unseen enemy"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"Did they bring you here against your will? Another Voyager scenario?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Not exactly. We exposed some of their activity and got into a skirmish with one of their ships. They fled into an artificial wormhole, but a gravity well had been generated in the vicinity as well.-
Keelah@crystyl:- We were drawn into their wake and seemingly deposited somewhere along their route"
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"If these people are as dangerous as we suspect, it's lucky you survived the encounter at all."