When the Lexington encounters trouble, the Valley Forge rushes to the aid of her sister ship...even if it means playing right into the enemy's hands.
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | The scene fades in to the familiar outline of the Valley Forge in the distance, cruising towards the camera at warp
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | As the ship comes closer, it becomes clear that the vessel is not the Forge, but instead the Lexington
Leila Omar@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/gD1Mpjd.jpg
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | The camera zooms into the bridge, which is still largely reminiscent of the earliest VF bridge design. There are a few differences and changes, but the Lexington clearly has not undergone a -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - complete bridge overhaul like the VF and only made minor modifications
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Commander Skolyr, a Vulcan on the science station, announces, "Long-range sensors are picking up several vessels inbound, Captain."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Skolyr: "Negative. However, they are changing course towards us."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | An Andorian tactical officer chimes in, "They're all armed, but they're not flying any transponders identifying them as Commonwealth or mercenary."
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"One of the new factions springing up in the chaos, then. Or pirates."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Commander Bandoni, the liberated Borg ops officer, speaks up, "Unlikely. These vessels are far too diverse. There is no known faction in the region that can field this level of diversity aside -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - from the Commonwealth or criminal elements. However, they are also far too organized for any pirate organization in the region. There has not been sufficient time since the Dominion's retreat -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - for criminal elements to form a syndicate capable of forming such a collection of ships."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Andorian: "Whoever they are, it's too late to cloak. Recommend yellow alert, Captain. They have the numbers to take us on."
Leila Omar@annpc#557:"Not yet. Try hailing them first, Bandoni."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Bandoni taps his console, announcing a few moments later, "No response."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Andorian: "They're closing in ahead of us."
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen...
Leila Omar@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/kpQJKKH.jpg
Leila Omar@annpc#557 nods, "Yellow alert."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meanwhile on the VF bridge, the crew are working away as the viewscreen displays a barren planet
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann: "'Nother scoured planet. Least we're on the right trail. Plague definitely passed through here..."
Lendaria@crystyl:"Huh... looks like there's some satellites around this one. Some of 'em seem t'be intact too now I got a better look at 'em"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Dominion, or local?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "Doesn't look like Dominion tech. Probably left behind by whatever civilization used to inhabit this planet, before the plague."
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Any sign of environmental systems on any of these satellites?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula shakes her head, "Not from what I can tell, Commander."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Guess we'll have to use suits to check them out. Probably don't want to go on this one then, Lennie."
Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah... I'm-a pass!"
Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "You can still study whatever data they bring back from inside the nice comfortable environment of the ship. Tierno, Nqakula, you're up. Get suited and head to Transporter Room 2."
Lendaria@crystyl | Rianni nods and heads out with Nqakula
Keliaya@anncaris looks over to the comm console, "Tee, call Mia to the transporter too."
Lendaria@crystyl | TQ starts tapping, "Yes Commander... she'll meet the others there"
Keliaya@anncaris | The camera zooms out of the bridge as the VF orbits around the dead world. The camera pans faster than the ship and soon only the planet can be seen
Keliaya@anncaris | As we pan across the planet, it becomes a transition, and when the planet disappears we are back with the Lexington once again. It is now engaged in a full on firefight with the group of ships -
Keliaya@anncaris - seen earlier. The largest one bombards the Lexington with white pulses which appear to be using the same technology as An tachyon weaponry
Keliaya@anncaris | The Lexington returns fire, but her shields start flickering. A group of three raiders attempt to take advantage and make an attack run, but the Lexington is far from helpless. One of them is -
Keliaya@anncaris - cut down by phaser fire and a second damaged, forcing the group to break off
Keliaya@anncaris | The camera zooms in to the Lexington's bridge, which is shaking from the incoming fire
Keliaya@anncaris | Andorian: "We've lost shields!"
Keliaya@anncaris | Bandoni: "Boarding parties incoming, Captain."
Keliaya@anncaris | Captain Omar: "Mobilize the MACOs."
Keliaya@anncaris | The camera begins to make its way off the bridge and through the Lexington's halls. It passes by groups of armed security personnel running through the halls, officers and enlisted sprinting -
Keliaya@anncaris - to safety and the transporter beams of enemy boarders
Keliaya@anncaris | The camera finds a team of MACOs, still dressed in the old armours as they have not had the chance to switch over to the new design pioneered at the Heart. They are facing off against a -
Keliaya@anncaris - group of large aliens, of the same species as that mob boss seen in the epilogue of the previous VF episode
Keliaya@anncaris | The MACOs keep their distance, sending a steady stream of fire down the hall which makes it impossible for the enemy to advance. As their front line personnel keep up the covering fire, the -
Keliaya@anncaris - marksmen in the rear of the team easily pick off the enemy, their large size working against them at this distance
Keliaya@anncaris | The last two aliens disappear away into transporter beams as they retreat away
Keliaya@anncaris | MACO 1: "All clear."
Keliaya@anncaris | A second MACO stands, tapping his wrist, "Deck 12 is clear for the moment. Two hostiles transported back out."
Keliaya@anncaris <C - Comms Officer> "MACO team, pull back!"
Keliaya@anncaris | MACO 2 gestures for the rest of the team to fall back as he asks, "Where do you need us, Lieutenant?"
Keliaya@anncaris <C - Comms Officer> "Anywhere but Deck 12, get out of-"
Keliaya@anncaris | The comms officer doesn't get to finish as something impacts the ship, hard. The lights flicker erratically, and through the flashing the MACOs can be seen stumbling and falling over. The -
Keliaya@anncaris - lights fail for good, and we are momentarily left in darkness...
Keliaya@anncaris | Then, the MACOs' helmet flashlights turn on, beams of light cutting through the darkness as they begin to get their bearings. We can make out the silhouettes of MACOs getting back on their -
Keliaya@anncaris - feet or bending over to retrieve dropped weapons. As the MACOs look around, they realize something is very different about the deck- something has punched through the floor, with long spikes -
Keliaya@anncaris - jutting through
Keliaya@anncaris | MACO 2: "Report! Is everyone alright?"
Keliaya@anncaris | MACO 3: "Izhar is down!"
Keliaya@anncaris | MACO 4: "Boarding pod! Stay alert, we're not-"
Keliaya@anncaris | One of the lights suddenly drops from head height to the floor, the wearer of the helmet clearly having dropped to the ground. The MACOs turn as one in the direction of the fallen light, but -
Keliaya@anncaris - nothing is there
Keliaya@anncaris | Then, there is a thump, a grunt, and another light drops. The MACOs turn again. This time, their lights catch something. One of the MACOs open fire, but the phaser bolt hits nothing, impacting -
Keliaya@anncaris - a nearby bulkhead. In the dim illumination of the flashlights, the shape of one of the MACOs can be seen engaging another bipedal figure in close quarters combat. The rest of the MACOs hold -
Keliaya@anncaris - any further fire, not wanting to hit one of their own
Keliaya@anncaris | Another MACO closes in to help her teammate in the close quarters. However, before she can reach him, the light of the MACO already fighting the figure abruptly goes out. She freezes in place, -
Keliaya@anncaris - but it is now too late to retreat. The figure appears beside her, and we hear the sound of several heavy impacts as we see her helmet light dropping to the floor as well
Keliaya@anncaris | The remaining MACOs open fire, but the figure is too fast. In a flash he is in front of them where their long-ranged weapons are far less effective. We can see the fighting more clearly now as -
Keliaya@anncaris - the figure takes down the remaining MACOs with a series of rapid and fluid close-quarters strikes while managing to avoid taking even a single hit from Starfleet's most elite fighters
Keliaya@anncaris | As the last of the MACOs fall, more transporter beams light up the hall. This time, it is members of the tentacle-bearded species that captured Eshara who emerge. They turn on their own -
Keliaya@anncaris - flashlights, attached to their disruptors rather than helmets, and the new source of light finally gives us a clear view at the single figure who took out the MACO team...
Keliaya@anncaris FX | https://www.creativeuncut.com/gallery-13/art/me2-collector-armor.jpg
Keliaya@anncaris | The figure makes a forward gesture with his arm and the team moves out with him, leaving the area in darkness once again...
NPC@annpc#557 | We fade in from the fight scene in the Lexington's hallway to a hall on the VF, where it is business as usual. Keelah walks down the hall dressed in her uniform, being greeted by passing -
NPC@annpc#557 - personnel and returning the greetings. She steps into a lift, which ascends up, the doors opening to the bridge where Kelly is in the command chair
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly stands from the chair as Keelah arrives, "Captain. The An have something for you."
Keelah@crystyl | perks a brow as she sits, "New information, are they waiting on an open channel?"
NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, "I can put them through whenever you're ready."
NPC@annpc#557 | A few moments later, Commander Kesa appears on the viewscreen, "Captain. How's your survey of the scoured world going?"
Keelah@crystyl:"About as expected so far. I understand you have more developments to share however?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kesa nods, "A very new development. You recall our conversation on the Imkalath after you returned from meeting the Lexington?"
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Of course"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kesa: "I've received a message from Andarash Military Intelligence. There was a lot of reading between the lines, but I suspect our secret rogue organization wants to speak with you."
Keelah@crystyl:"That would certainly be quite the development. What exactly has been read between the lines to make you draw this conclusion?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kesa: "The Intelligence officer who sent the message suggested that we rendezvous with a nearby Command Centre to replenish our personnel following the losses suffered on the Makesis. She also -
NPC@annpc#557 - spoke of mutual friends, a desire to meet with you and some sensitive information to give in-person. I do not suspect such a blatant request would be a trap, not at a Command Centre where -
NPC@annpc#557 - thousands of regular Andarash officers uninvolved in this supposed conspiracy would be looking on."
Keelah@crystyl:"Hence the intuitive leap that this is the rogue organization" she concludes, "Well I see no reason not to investigate for now at least. How far out are we from this command centre?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kesa: "Only a little over one of your days at cruising speed."
Keelah@crystyl:"Veryy well, send us the coordinates and we can get underway"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kesa nods to someone offscreen, "Sending them over now."
Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. Helm, over to you"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Captain, we've still got an away team over at one of the satellites. Should we beam them back immediately, or let them finish extracting the data first? It shouldn't take long, Mia's -
NPC@annpc#557 - last report says they've just about got the power back."
Keelah@crystyl:"I see, well if that is the case then let them finish up first"
NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Got the coordinates plotted in for whenever they're back, Cap'n."
Keelah@crystyl stands and joins Kelly at her station, "Meanwhile, what can you tell me about this satellite?"
NPC@annpc#557 | The camera fades out, then back into the Lexington's bridge...
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | The Lexington's bridge is now in a full firefight. Consoles are down or flickering, many of them with holes in them created by weapons fire. Most of the bridge crew is down, with Omar, the -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - helmsman and the Andorian taking cover behind the barrier between the captain's chair and the rest of the bridge
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | As the enemy led by Bendral Maar in his organic armour closes in, Bandoni leaps out from behind a pillar. He knocks out one of the aliens with the tendril beards and engages Maar himself in -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - close quarters, the liberated Borg's enhanced strength allowing him to wrestle with the bounty hunter. As the leader is occupied, the officers in cover pop out to take their shots
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Three more tendril beards are taken down but Maar overpowers Bandoni, hurling him into a console and knocking him out
Leila Omar@annpc#557 takes the opportunity and aims a shot at the bounty hunter. The phaser bolt connects with his chest, leaving a burn mark on the organic armour and sending him staggering back. He is knocked off -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - balance only very briefly however as he draws one of his pistols and returns fire. Leila gets a second shot in on his shoulder before being forced into cover by the return fire
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | The Andorian tactical officer however gets too ambitious, continuing to fire on Maar. The bounty hunter lands a single pinpoint hit with his pistol, punching a hole clean through the -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - Andorian's chest
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Helmsman: "Vosren!"
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | As the helmsman rushes over to the Andorian, Leila is left alone to hold the covering fire against the remaining tendril beards. Maar takes this chance to close in behind them. The helmsman -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - raises his pistol too late as Maar whacks his own pistol across his head, knocking him down
Leila Omar@annpc#557 however has enough time to respond, firing off a shot. At fairly close range now, the bounty hunter sidesteps the bolt and moves in
Leila Omar@annpc#557 ducks under his pistol whip and moves behind him, but Maar is faster, turning to face her before she can get a hit in on his back. Knowing she has no chance against his armour in close quarters, -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - she opts to roll away, letting off several shots as she does
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Maar takes cover on the other side of the captain's chair. The other boarders begin to move in, but he raises a hand, gesturing to the consoles instead. They move over to work on the consoles
Leila Omar@annpc#557 focuses on Maar as he emerges from cover, setting her pistol to its highest setting. She fires a bolt, tearing a hole through one of Maar's shoulders and sending him to the ground. At the same -
Leila Omar@annpc#557 - time however, the bounty hunter fires off a shot, one which hits the pistol in Leila's hand, sending it flying from her grasp
Leila Omar@annpc#557 rushes for her downed helmsman's pistol, but Maar gets up much quicker than expected, knocking her down with a kick
Leila Omar@annpc#557 | Maar presses his foot down on her chest, pinning her to the ground as he raises his pistol with his good arm, "Eshara. Where is she?"
NPC@annpc#557 | A day later, Keelah is on the bridge of the VF once again as they begin to approach the location of the Command Centre
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "We're seeing a small Commonwealth fleet on long-range sensors. They're converging around something that looks like a small station."
Keelah@crystyl:"So this is the command centre"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "I don't think it's a station. From what we've heard so far, and judging from the energy signatures coming from it, I think it's a large ship like the Mothership. A mobile forward -
NPC@annpc#557 - command post."
Keelah@crystyl:"I suppose that does make a certain sense given what we know of them"
NPC@annpc#557 | As they draw closer, Rianni notes that the Command Centre is smaller than the Mothership, but much more heavily armed
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Wow... ok, top tip for today; don't get on these guys bad side. Don't let it's size fool you, that thing is armed to the teeth - way too much to be simply defensive like the Mothership"
Keelah@crystyl hrms, "A literal war machine then"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Very much so".
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Looks like it's got all the defensive measures of a Mothership like the tachyon weaponry, but it also has AP banks and...is that a main weapon, Rianni?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods, "I'd say it has to be. Still sizing it up, but from the looks of it I'd say it's made to knock most things down with one shot"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Assuming the Command Centre has a similar power output to the Mothership, which everything so far seems to point towards, I don't think it has enough power to fire that main weapon and -
NPC@annpc#557 - keep the rest of its arsenal online at the same time. Probably why it has an escort fleet."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Oh yeah, that makes sense. Good spot!"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Not only does it have the escort fleet, but looks like it carries it's own support and small craft, likely fighters if the rest is anything to judge by"
NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "So tha's why the An from the Mothership talk about the Andarash havin' much tougher weapons than their exploratory branch."
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "I can see how they've managed to stand against the Dominion for so long."
NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Wish we had one o' those to help against the Horde."
Keelah@crystyl:"We did well enough without still"
NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "We've received clearance from the An ships to approach. Sending the approach instructions over to helm."
NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Got 'em."
NPC@annpc#557 | The VF drops out of warp and the Command Centre comes into view on the viewscreen...
NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/pc8yocH.jpg
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "A group of escorts are approaching and scanning us."
Keelah@crystyl:"To be expected"
NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "I have an incoming hail from the Command Centre."
NPC@annpc#557 | A male Vesan appears on the viewscreen, replacing the view of the massive vessel, "I am Wing Commander Wasi of Command Centre Memhoten. I've heard much about you through Commander Kesa's -
NPC@annpc#557 - reports. I understand our intelligence officers wish to speak with you."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is our understanding as well. Unfortunately I know nothing beyond this, so we are here purely in response to this request"
NPC@annpc#557 | Wasi: "I've been told that one of the officers wishes to transport over to your vessel and meet with you there. Our transporters are prepared, but our operators will need to coordinate with -
NPC@annpc#557 - yours. You have measures in place to prevent unwanted transports, I see."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is correct" she looks to her side, "Eva"
NPC@annpc#557 | Eva taps her console and nods, "We're ready for transport, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl turns back to the screen, "You should be set to proceed now"
NPC@annpc#557 | Wasi nods, "Thank you. Transporting her over now."
Keelah@crystyl stands, "Kelly, let's go welcome our visitor"
NPC@annpc#557 | In the transporter room, a Mesan in Andarash uniform materializes on the pad and steps down, "Captain Se'Lai, I presume?"
Keelah@crystyl:"I am Captain Se'Lai. This is my first officer, Commander Keliaya"
NPC@annpc#557 | Mesan: "I am Vice Commander Moya of Andarash Intelligence. I believe we have a mutual friend in Vice Marshal Esan."
Keelah@crystyl:"I have met the Vice Marshal, but it is our sister ship who could claim friendship through their association. We are little more than familiar strangers"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya smiles, "In our line of work, sometimes familiar strangers can be more trustworthy than those we believe to be proven allies."
Keelah@crystyl:"I've seen my share of intelligence and counterintelligence operations. I can relate to that sentiment, which I assume is something to do with why you called us here"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya nods, "That's right. It concerns our mutual friends. I would have told you earlier over communications, but there were too many risks. Even a meeting such as this is more blatant than how -
NPC@annpc#557 - we usually prefer to conduct ourselves. Fortunately my position as an active officer of Andarash Military Intelligence on the front lines allows me to contact you while still appearing to -
NPC@annpc#557 - perform my duties here."
Keelah@crystyl:"I imagine this must be quite serious then. Please, join me in my ready room where we can discuss things in detail"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "I'm afraid it's not good news. Lead the way."
NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah and Kelly enter the ready room with Vice Commander Moya
Keelah@crystyl takes a seat, "Make yourself comfortable"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly sits as well. Moya takes a moment to examine the room before sitting
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "Vice Marshal Esan's last report suggested that you could be trusted, and you've dealt with what may be a different cell of the same enemy we are facing here."
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, we came to that conclusion based on what was revealed to us at the Lexington"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya nods, "And you are certain your own crew has not been compromised?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Very much so. We spent many years isolated from the rest of the fleet during our previous mission you see. After that - when we began to uncover hints of their presence - they targeted us with one -
Keelah@crystyl:- their leaders posing as a senior Starfleet officer in command of a capital ship. We exposed him and forced them all to flee from that ship and so if any of this crew had been tied to them, they -
Keelah@crystyl:- would have been taken along with that evacuation. And if that isn't enough for you; they grew so desperate to manipulate us that they attempted to kidnap my daughter in order to exert influence -
Keelah@crystyl:- here. Such action would not be logical had they an operative on board"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "I don't mean to accuse you or your crew of being involved with the enemy. I'm just being thorough. Especially given recent events. What about your Andarash escort? You don't know them -
NPC@annpc#557 - as well as your own people, so I can't expect you to be certain that they don't have spies among their ranks. But I assume you followed the Lexington's instructions to not reveal its location -
NPC@annpc#557 - to the Andarash?"
Keelah@crystyl:"You assume correctly. That said, they pretty much figured it out for themselves while we were meeting the Lexington as they investigated the tomb world with some of my officers"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya nods, "But they don't know the coordinates of where you met up with the Lexington?"
Keelah@crystyl:"They don't actually know anything, just what they surmised from their investigation"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "So there can't have been an information leak. I suppose that's comforting in a way, but it doesn't help answer any questions..."
Keelah@crystyl:"And what questions might those be?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "Vice Marshal Esan sent an encrypted message. The Lexington was attacked and the aggressors didn't appear to be An. Our brief investigation so far also suggests the Andarash is not aware -
NPC@annpc#557 - of the Lexington's location and the Commonwealth or any enemy spies within were most likely not involved."
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly gives Keelah a concerned glance, "These enemies, they do field their own ships. Very advanced ones at that."
Keelah@crystyl:"It is certainly a possibility. However, were it they who attacked the Lexington, I highly doubt they would have allowed a message to slip out. Unless that is by design to lure us in as well"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "That's unlikely. I don't think they need to lure you in. From the moment of your first encounter with us, the Andarash has been logging your position, and they have people in the -
NPC@annpc#557 - Andarash who can easily access that information. With the exception of your brief detour to meet the Lexington, they would know exactly where you are, including right now. If they wanted to -
NPC@annpc#557 - attack you, I'm sure they would've found an opportunity to do so already."
Keelah@crystyl:"Exactly. Which means we can't assume that they are responsible for this attack. Do we know the Lexington's current situation?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya shakes her head, "If Esan was safe, he would have sent a followup report to the Imkalath detailing what had occurred and specifying that no assistance, extraction or termination is -
NPC@annpc#557 - necessary. We've received no such report, so we must assume that he is still in danger or already dead. Which by extension suggests the same for the rest of the ship."
Keelah@crystyl:"I don't suppose this message told us where they are?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya takes out a chip, setting it on Keelah's desk, "No exact coordinates, but unlike Andarash Military Intelligence, the Imkalath is aware of the location of your meeting with the Lexington, -
NPC@annpc#557 - as well as their planned course. From that, we were able to extrapolate the area the Lexington was most likely within at the time of the attack."
Keelah@crystyl:"It's better than nothing at least" she looks to Kelly, "This has to take precedence over all other concerns"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, taking the chip and slotting it into a PADD, "Looks like the coordinates are in the opposite direction from the course we've been travelling, but we should be able to make it there -
NPC@annpc#557 - in a little over a week at high warp."
Keelah@crystyl:"We'll have to hope that they're in good enough shape in the meantime"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "It's already been more than a day since we received Esan's message. Whatever the attackers want to do, they've probably either done it by now or failed to do so. I doubt you'll get -
NPC@annpc#557 - there quickly enough to assist them in the fighting. But you can discover exactly what happened, and, if we're lucky, render assistance to the ship or any survivors in the aftermath."
Keelah@crystyl nods, "We should depart immediately. Do you intend to join us?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "I assume your Andarash escort will be continuing to accompany you? The Andarash itself is compromised and its personnel either unaware of this enemy or a part of it. As a result, we -
NPC@annpc#557 - officially still consider you a potential risk to Commonwealth space. If you throw off the escort, you'll be throwing the eyes of the enemy off you, but you'll be hunted just like the -
NPC@annpc#557 - Lexington. If you don't, the escort might be able to help against whatever attacked the Lexington, but if it's still intact or its crew still alive, you might also be leading the enemy right -
NPC@annpc#557 - to them."
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "We have to deal with one problem at a time. Conducting a search and rescue is going to become a lot more difficult if Commonwealth space turns into hostile territory."
Keelah@crystyl:"We had already laid the foundation for parting ways with them anyway, and they are opening to the prospect that the Lexington isn't the true enemy. Kelly, what is the difference between our top -
Keelah@crystyl:- speed and theirs?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "The Namaset can keep up with us, but the escorts'll fall behind if we go at maximum warp."
Keelah@crystyl:"Then we explain the situation in brief and run ahead of them because of the emergency state"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya nods, "Will you be providing them the search area as well, then?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Close enough at least that can rendezvous safely once we've had a chance to assess the situation, or adjust their destination if required"
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya: "I will follow on the Namaset, then. It will look less suspicious and allow me to maintain my cover in Andarash Military Intelligence if I worked off an Andarash vessel rather than -
NPC@annpc#557 - suddenly departing on yours."
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Very well then. Let's get you transported across and get underway"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly stands, "I'll see the Vice Commander back to the transporter room and get us underway."
NPC@annpc#557 | Moya stands as well, "Lead the way."
Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Kelly"
NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later, Keelah is called to the bridge as they are ready to depart
Keelah@crystyl steps out of her ready room, "Report"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Commander Kesa has been informed and our An escort will follow as soon as their resupply is complete. We're ready to go on your order."
NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "We doin' standard high warp formation with the scout ships, Loki an' Nuhar slightly behind us?"
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Then engage at maximum warp. Tee, inform the QanwI' to push ahead. The others should be able to hold pace with us but we'll be pulling away from the scouts"
NPC@annpc#557 | Ann taps her console, "Aye Cap'n. Engagin' at max warp. Can Junior do max warp? Or are we gonna need to have a ship fall behind slightly to babysit him?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly looks over to Lennie
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "I think he can hold pace, but we'll keep a close eye on him"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "If there's a problem, we'll figure something out. Freedom’s Spirit isn't a combat ship, so it can babysit Junior if someone needs to."
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright then Ann, let's go find our sister ship"
NPC@annpc#557 | Ann: "Takin' us out now." She finally hits the last button and the VF jumps to warp
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly meanwhile heads over towards Rianni's console
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "We have a very similar profile to the Lexington. Whatever hit them is probably going to have the same reaction to us. Stay sharp on tactical sensors, especially once we start to get -
NPC@annpc#557 - closer to the search area.".
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods, "Yes Commander. I'm anticipating some early data to begin formulating a strategy from once the QanwI' gets closer"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly smiles, "Good. With the Loki and Reliant Defender behind us, we have a lot more firepower than the Lexington. Hopefully whatever overcame them is going to have a lot more trouble with us."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni smiles, "I'll make sure of it!"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly pats Rianni on the shoulder, "I'm sure you will, Lieutenant."
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly makes her way back to Keelah, "If it's not the Andarash or those temporal ships, what do you think hit the Lexington? I don't imagine pirates will attack them and their Dominion escort."
Keelah@crystyl:"An excellent question. Given what little we have to go on, I might surmise a freelance force acting on behalf of the temporal ships. But that still seems unlikely given that have -
Keelah@crystyl:- at least some base of operations in this region"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods, "If these artificial changelings we've heard about are theirs, making direct contact with the Lorrectin is quite different from how they were operating back in our region. It's -
NPC@annpc#557 - possible like Moya suggests that they work in cells and use different methods, so perhaps the ones here do keep freelance assets in addition to manipulating the local factions."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is indeed a possibility. Whatever is behind this, we certainly can't afford to allow any preconceptions or assumptions to steer our actions. We must assume a complete unknown for now"
NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "We'll be ready for anything, Captain."
Keliaya@anncaris | After a week of travel at high warp, Keelah is called to the bridge as they begin to approach the search area...
Keelah@crystyl takes her seat, "What do we know?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Nothing on sensors yet, Captain. I've ordered us down to cruising speed as we make our approach so we can redivert the power to sensors and tactical systems."
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Still no word from the QanwI'?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "They've sent us some scans of systems in the region, but nothing of interest in what they've checked out so far. There's still a lot of the search area to cover though."
Keelah@crystyl:"At least if nothing else we can narrow down our search area then"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We've plotted out a search pattern already and are ready to execute as soon as we enter the region."
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann: "Which should be 'bout ten minutes at this speed."
Keelah@crystyl:"Then let's make sure we execute this with maximum efficiency"
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann nods, "Aye Cap'n. With this search pattern an' the number o' ships we got on hand, we should be able to cover the area thoroughly in three to four days."
Keelah@crystyl nods, quietly contemplating the view ahead as the anticipated search looms closer
Keliaya@anncaris | The VF arrives without incident and begins their search pattern. About two hours in, as Keelah is working away in her ready room, Lennie spots something on her sensors...
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Hey Kel, I'se got somethin' on long range. two contacts, but they'se weak so most likely's a couple small craft maybe. Too far out t'say though"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Helm, take us in for a closer look."
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann: "Aye Commander. Alterin' course."
Keliaya@anncaris nods to Eva, who promptly informs Keelah of the new development
Keelah@crystyl strolls back out as they draw closer, "Any more detail on our contacts?"
Keliaya@anncaris stands from the command chair, "Not yet. We're moving closer and should be able to pick up more very soon."
Keelah@crystyl sits, "Alright, let's stay sharp"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "They- they'se gone! Jus' dropped off sensors as we got close..."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "This seems suspicious, Captain. Recommend red alert given the circumstances"
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "Could they have cloaked?"
Keelah@crystyl:"I'm inclined to agree on this occasion. Red alert, Ann maintain course and speed"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni bumps them up to red alert
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann: "Aye Cap'n. Too far out right now to pick up any signs o' cloakin', but I think it's pretty likely."
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "It's certainly possibly. Couldn't get a good look but best I can tell, they were pretty small raider type ships; smaller than a Bird of Prey, but more than a smallcraft"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Could try doing a sweep for cloaked ships"
Keelah@crystyl:"How far out are we from their last known position?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann: "'Bout one thirtieth o' a light year an' closin'."
Keelah@crystyl hrms and nods, "Alright. All stop and let's do a sweep"
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann taps on her console, "Aye, all stop."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni taps, "Sweep underway"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rianni's sweep unveils one of the two small raiders, now having moved closer to the VF! The second is nowhere to be seen, however
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "One contact, now at closer range!"
Keelah@crystyl:"So where did the second go I wonder..."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Could be they are redeploying around us, or trying to fathom why we stopped so suddenly and prepare a counter"
Keelah@crystyl:"I can't imagine why friendlies would cloak at our approach. Let's get a tractor lock on the one loitering, maybe that will prompt them to stop hiding"
Keliaya@anncaris | The raider is now adjusting course away from the VF now, likely knowing it's been exposed upon seeing the sweep
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Engagin' tractor beam"
Keliaya@anncaris | The tractor beam manages to snatch on to the fleeing raider!
Keelah@crystyl:"Open a channel"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva taps her console, "Channel open, Captain."
Keelah@crystyl:"Unidentified vessel, it should be clear that we know you are there at this point. We mean you harm, which is why we have not opened fire"
Keliaya@anncaris | An unfamiliar alien appears on the viewscreen
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "Well, this is awkward. Uh...hi there."
Keelah@crystyl:"Hello. I apologize for the awkwardness, but we are conducting an investigation here and your presence here is... unexpected. Might I ask what it is you are doing in this system?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "Looking for you, actually. Or a ship very similar to you, at least..."
Keliaya@anncaris | They can hear another voice from offscreen saying, "Told you it was a bad idea to go in for a closer look!"
Keliaya@anncaris | The alien glances to the side, "I know, I know, but what can I do about it now? Turn back time and tell myself from five minutes ago to make a different decision?"
Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "Well I certainly appreciate your being so forthcoming. But you know such a response only begs for clarification. And for the record we are quite aware of your partner ship who is -
Keelah@crystyl:- also hiding out there. Perhaps it would be a good idea for them to come out of hiding so we can all fully understand things"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "Rasal-Kaz's ship? Oh he slinked off to report to the boss man already. Should've followed him in retrospect, but ah...too late for that."
Keelah@crystyl:"Evidently so. Now, why don't you tell me about this search of yours"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "Boss man got some bigshot client, put together a whole fleet to hunt down a ship like you. Don't know all the details. We're just hired help, lady. All I can tell you is that we hit -
Keliaya@anncaris - one about fourteen tezen ago. Don't know if we hit the wrong one, or if our client wants more than one now, but boss man made us keep looking, so we're looking."
Keelah@crystyl:"Well then, I suppose congratulations are in order since you seem to have found us. What about this ship that you already 'hit', where is it now?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "Yewani System. Wouldn't go there if I were you, though."
Keelah@crystyl:"Oh? Why would that be?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "That bigshot client I talked about, the one who put together this fleet? He's taken over the ship now, set up camp in the system. If that ship's part of the same military or something -
Keliaya@anncaris - as you, best turn around and just report it lost. Or get yourself plenty of reinforcements before you come back."
Keelah@crystyl:"What about the crew of the ship?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "A few were killed defending the ship, but I hear most of them are locked up in the old bunkers on Yewani II. Client's instructions again, don't ask me why."
Keelah@crystyl:"Well let's see... this client of yours seized the ship, locked the crew in a dungeon, then sent you out to search for an identical ship. So I would assume that the first plan was to have you -
Keelah@crystyl:- keep us talking long enough for that fleet to mobilize against us as well, and if that fails then you have still laid the bait for the fallback plan of telling us where they are to prompt us to -
Keelah@crystyl:- attempt a rescue"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "Fine...you got me there. But to be fair, I did say if you were smart you'd avoid the Yewani System. Can't say I didn't warn you."
Keelah@crystyl:"And can't say I won't take your advice either" she smiles, "Well, I think you have kept us occupied long enough to give your fleet a head start"
Keliaya@anncaris | Alien: "You'll let us go, then? Like I said, we're just hired muscle. We got nothing against you, or the other ship. If you want we can even go the opposite direction from Yewani and you won't -
Keliaya@anncaris - have us shooting you if you decide to go on a rescue mission, promise."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is most amicable of you" she glances back with a nod to Lennie who goes about releasing the tractor lock
Keliaya@anncaris | The alien gives a forced smile, "Thank you very much, lady. You won't see us again. If you do, well, feel free to blow us into pieces if you like. But you won't have to, because I've certainly -
Keliaya@anncaris - got no intentions of dying today."
Keliaya@anncaris | The comm ends and the raider immediately jumps to warp
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright. let's put some distance between us and this region while the QanwI' and Loki investigate this system"
Keliaya@anncaris | Ann nods, "Aye Cap'n."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "So a mystery client hired mercenaries to hunt us and the Lexington..."
Keelah@crystyl:"It would seem so, or at least hunt us specifically. Either way since they are continuing their search after finding the Lexington"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Whoever these people are, they must be more skilled than typical pirates if they were able to seize a ship like that"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Who would be looking for us? As our An Intelligence friend said, the infiltrators probably already know where we are through the Andarash. It's the Lexington they needed to find."
Keelah@crystyl:"True. Perhaps they were the target and these people simply learned of us through them"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Mercenaries getting overzealous and deciding to deliver two ships instead of one?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Unlikely, but not unheard of. I mean, if they just successfully took one ship and found it to be such a powerhouse of their current assets then learning of a second in the region could -
Keelah@crystyl:- easily inspire a little greed"
Keelah@crystyl hrms, "But why keep the crew captive... it does not track unless they are needed for collateral. And the only reason for that is to influence us"
Keliaya@anncaris:"So they probably intended to come after us to begin with or something. In any case, Rianni's right. Whoever they are and whatever they're after, they sound dangerous."
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Which is why we will lay low for now and wait for the others to investigate this system"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Good plan, Captain. Best not to get spotted, since they're clearly hunting for us too."
Keliaya@anncaris | A few hours after the VF lies low outside the search area, the senior staff gathers in one of the conference rooms to discuss the recon data sent by QanwI' and the Loki
Keliaya@anncaris sets up the console with the data as everyone gathers
Keliaya@anncaris speaks once everyone is gathered, "The QanwI' and Loki have come through with their scouting mission. There is what looks to be a mercenary fleet gathered around the Yewani System, currently -
Keliaya@anncaris - centred on the Lexington." She pulls up a visualized tactical display of the sensor data
Keelah@crystyl studies the map, "And do we have a bead on where the crew is being held?"
Keliaya@anncaris gestures to the planet the fleet is gathered above, "This is the second planet of the Yewani System, which the raider captain claimed the crew was being held at. Our scouts were unable to pick -
Keliaya@anncaris - up lifesigns to confirm the presence of the Lexington crew, but they were able to detect entrances to underground vaults, just as they claimed. Sensors were unable to penetrate past the vault -
Keliaya@anncaris - walls, though."
Keelah@crystyl hrms, turning to the room, "So, thoughts?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Well we've got two clear objectives here; the Lexington, and the crew. The problem is that as soon they know we're on to one of them, the other becomes a liability"
Keelah@crystyl nods, "And we can assume at this point that they are expecting us"
Keliaya@anncaris:"There's one other piece of intelligence that Commander T'Lana provided us."
Keelah@crystyl turns back to Kelly to hear
Keliaya@anncaris:"The Loki managed to tap in and monitor their communications. This important client the raider captain mentioned, the figure behind this operation, is one Bendral Maar. He's supposedly the best -
Keliaya@anncaris:- bounty hunter and hitman in the Gamma Quadrant and one of the few individuals to hold both a Commonwealth Commercial Enforcement License and a Dominion Freelance Combatant Authorization. Maar is -
Keliaya@anncaris:- strictly politically neutral, never taking sides in large conflicts like the current war. He has a reputation for loyalty and reliability to whoever pays for his services, and he's never failed a -
Keliaya@anncaris:- job. Until recently."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni frowns, "Why does that... oh! Wasn't he involved with Eshara?"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "That's right, Lieutenant. He's the one who captured Eshara. They thought he was killed in that mission, which is why one of his crew tried to sell off Eshara at Felgan Prime. But -
Keliaya@anncaris - apparently, Maar survived that."
Keelah@crystyl:"So Eshara was his first failed job? Are you saying all of this is a personal vendetta?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"It's a lot of effort to go for a personal vendetta, but it could explain their actions. While digging into Bendral Maar, T'Lana also found that after the Lexington's raid on the tomb world, some -
Keliaya@anncaris:- Andarash personnel put out a bounty on them which provided the installation's scans of the ship and boarding party. When I visited Felgan Prime with Lieutenant Tierno, we were almost certainly -
Keliaya@anncaris:- scanned during transport, so they'd have a record of who Eshara left with. These would've been the only scans of human lifesigns in light years."
Keliaya@anncaris:"This could also be why the Lexington's crew is being kept alive- they plan on getting the bounty for the tomb world raid."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "That does make sense, and if they took that ship hoping to find Eshara but failed then that could explain why they continued the search for a second identical ship"
Keelah@crystyl:"Motivations are all well and good in helping establish a little context. But the real question is how do we get them out of there"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Including the Lexington, they have almost thirty ships in the system. Most of them raiders. With the Reliant Defender's help, we should be able to take on this mercenary fleet, but a direct attack -
Keliaya@anncaris:- is probably going to put the Lexington's crew in danger. We can't just sneak in and get them out either. They have raiders patrolling the system doing anti-cloaking sweeps and they've reactivated -
Keliaya@anncaris:- a satellite network around the planet. Only the Aethon's stealth systems are advanced enough to get through undetected, but the raider captain said most of the crew were taken captive. Aethon's -
Keliaya@anncaris:- too small, they'll never get everyone out in one trip."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "I suspected something like this might come up"
Keelah@crystyl smiles a little, "What have you got?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "We take in the Aethon to put the MACO's on the ground. They will split into two teams; one securing the Lexington crew while the others disables the transporter blocks. Or alternatively -
Keelah@crystyl:- with the growing intel now, they disable the cloak detection allowing the Loki to pull them out. But the primary goal is discrete extraction, and then either transport or deliver the crew back to -
Keelah@crystyl:- the Lexington in a charge to retake the ship"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And once we have the Lexington secure, we can hit the rest of the fleet in force, assuming we don't manage to deal with Bendral Maar already at that point. In which case they might just disperse -
Keliaya@anncaris:- with the man paying them dead or captured."
Keelah@crystyl:"It would be a safe guess that he will be on the Lexington. It would also be a safe bet that you would not likely get to the point of reclaiming the ship before they realize we are making a move"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Our task force would likely have to engage before this is concluded"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "To keep them occupied from overwhelming the Lexington with reinforcements."
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "There is another ace in our hole however"
Keelah@crystyl:"And that is?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni smiles: "Mia. We know she is capable of seizing control of a starship with the help of the drones. While the Aethon heads to the surface, it can deliver her and the drones to the Lexington-
Keelah@crystyl:- where they can set about seizing control of it's main computer to facilitate the return of the crew"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Good thinking, Rianni. That should make retaking the ship much easier. Will you be heading over to the Aethon to oversee this operation too?"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods, "That is my intention, yes. While we do anticipate taking the Forge into combat our group is not so vast that I should be needed for the coordination. I would also like to take Sin -
Keelah@crystyl:- along and we will split up, each joining one of the MACO teams"
Keelah@crystyl hrms, "It's your call, if you say you can keep her in check then who am I to argue. I do however have one small amendment to this proposal"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Captain?"
Keelah@crystyl:"A secondary objective for Mia's team on the Lexington. As you know, one of our primary concerns is protecting Starfleet assets. If things should not go as intended, Mia is to scuttle the ship. I -
Keelah@crystyl:- can provide the command codes necessary"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni stares back wide eyed a moment but regains herself and nods
Keliaya@anncaris:"Hopefully it won't come to that, but better to go prepared."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is exactly what this is, covering all eventualities. Obviously I do not want it to come to that either. But we can't have any illusions that this is necessary should circumstances prevail"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Sounds like we have a plan. I'll tell the MACOs to get ready and we'll recall the Aethon to take you there."
Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, we all know the stakes here. So leave nothing to chance, and make sure we get everyone out of this in one piece"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We'll get the Lexington and her crew back safe. It's not the first time we've pulled prisoners from mercenaries and pirates, after all. I still remember your daring rescue to pry us back -
Keliaya@anncaris - from the Syndicate back in the day."
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie slumps a little
Keliaya@anncaris:"Hopefully we won't have to pull off any maneuvers like that this time, though."
Keelah@crystyl catches it from the corner of her eye, "And we don't lose anybody in the process. That's an order"
Keelah@crystyl | Rianni smiles and nods, "Understood Captain!"
Keliaya@anncaris | A short while after the meeting, the Aethon is away bearing the personnel for the stealth mission on board
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "QanwI' reports no notable change in activity in the system."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Should we start moving in too, or give the Aethon more time before we make our approach?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Give them a chance to progress the mission. For all we know, they will succeed at every step and we won't need to move until the Lexington is taken. Until then, we stand ready to jump in at the -
Keelah@crystyl:- first sign of trouble"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We'll hold position and keep observing for now, then." She looks to Lennie. "What about Junior- have we figured out a way to ask him to stay yet?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie turns, "I think so, yeah"
Keelah@crystyl turns curiously as well
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Seelix' gonna play her part in tha'. While Junior won't just leave th'Forge alone - especially if he senses danger - he will help. So, we instructed him t'guard Seelix' ship while we -
Keelah@crystyl:- go protect th'rest of our family in th'system"
Keliaya@anncaris:"How does Seelix feel about babysitting Junior?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "I, uh... well I'm-a makin' it worth her while..."
Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "How much...?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie waves her hands, "Nothin' we can't spare, don't worry! Jus' some of th'tradin' resources we had built up anyways"
Keelah@crystyl hrms, "Well as long as it works"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "It's worth it keeping Junior safe."
Keelah@crystyl:"And you're sure he understands his mission?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie, "Sure as we can be on anythin' wit' him so far. I'm-a confident he'll do as he's told, but if were t'sense th'Forge in danger at all tha's always likely t'be a game changer"
Keelah@crystyl:"Then I suppose it is up to us to make sure we don't get in that much danger then"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Huh, got 3 new contacts comin' into range. But not from th'system. They'se comin' in from th'same direction we did"
Keelah@crystyl:"Our An escorts?"
Keelah@crystyl | Lennie takes a moment to check and then nods, "It's them, yeah"
Keelah@crystyl:"Open a secure channel"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva taps her console and a moment later, Commander Kesa appears on the viewscreen
Keelah@crystyl:"Commander, your timing is impeccable"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "I was expecting to find you conducting a search, not sitting around outside the search area. I hope we're not too late?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Not at all. The matter is simply more delicate right now. We have located the ship, but it is currently under the control of a sizeable mercenary fleet under the control of one Bendral Maar"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "/The/ Bendral Maar? The one who beat dozens of Meya'c warriors and impressed them so much he was made an honourary member of their civilization? The most feared and respected bounty -
Keliaya@anncaris - hunter this side of the galaxy?"
Keelah@crystyl nods, "That's the one. We have a mission underway already but if you know his reputation then you know how delicate this is. This is not your fight, so I suggest you all fall back"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "Are you certain? If you're going up against a whole fleet, it sounds like you'll need all the help you can get."
Keelah@crystyl:"There is no denying that, but I can't ask you to take up arms for our cause. If you choose to remain of your own volition, then of course your support would be welcome"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "Maar...he went after your friends because of the attack on the tomb world, didn't he? I heard that someone in the Andarash had put out a considerable bounty for them after that."
Keelah@crystyl:"That is our theory, yes"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "He usually works with a single ship and crew, not a whole fleet. Have you gathered recon data on this fleet already?"
Keelah@crystyl nods, "Yes, we have conducted a detailed surveillance mission into the system already"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "Do you mind if we take a look?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Not at all" she nods across to Eva
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva taps her console some more, sending the information over. Kesa steps over to a console on her bridge to take a look
Keliaya@anncaris | After a moment, Kesa turns back towards the viewscreen, "Maar might have a license to operate in Commonwealth space, but many of these ships certainly don't. They belong to known pirates and -
Keliaya@anncaris - smugglers. At least four of these ships are actively wanted for crimes in and around the region from a cursory check. As Andarash vessels, we would be justified in joining your operation -
Keliaya@anncaris - against them."
Keelah@crystyl:"If that is your decision, then of course your support will be most welcome"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa smiles, "You've helped the Commonwealth several times during our travels together. It's only fair we return the favour a little. And the bounty that got your friends into trouble in the -
Keliaya@anncaris - first place...the official story is that some upset Andarash officers used back channels to post it, but I don't see where they'd get the funds for that. Knowing that we might be compromised -
Keliaya@anncaris - by this mutual enemy, it's possible they were behind the bounty too. Even if they didn't directly hire Maar for this, I think resolving this situation will be to all our advantage."
Keelah@crystyl:"A very astute analysis. In that case, please rendezvous at our present coordinates and stand by to enter the system"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa nods, "We're on our way. I assume you already have a plan of attack?"
Keelah@crystyl nods, "It will be safest to debrief in person once you get here. We have quite the wait on our hands anyway"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "Understood. I'll come over with our Military Intelligence friend once we arrive."
Keelah@crystyl:"Then I will see you on board shortly"
Keliaya@anncaris | Upon arriving on the Valley Forge, Vice Commander Moya, this time accompanied by Commander Kesa, rings the doorbell to Keelah's ready room
Keliaya@anncaris | The two An step inside, the larger head of the Tak'an Commander emphasized by the more human-esque proportions of the Masan intel officer
Keliaya@anncaris | Moya: "Commander Kesa tells me the Lexington's been taken over by bounty hunters and mercenaries?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, please make yourselves comfortable"
Keliaya@anncaris | The two An seat themselves on chairs in front of Keelah's desk
Keelah@crystyl:"As you already surmised, we believe that Maar targeted the Lexington following the bounty that was placed on them after the tomb world incident. However he may have done so thinking they were us, -
Keelah@crystyl:- as we previously seem to have crossed paths with him when we rescued a woman requested aid who was on the run from him"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "So you believe you were his original target, but he's also capitalizing on the bounty on the Lexington?"
Keelah@crystyl:"It's at least a possibility. It is also possible that he learned of us since taking the Lexington and is attempting to maximize on his position. Regardless; we have intel that the crew are being -
Keelah@crystyl:- held captive on the planet inside an underground vault"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "I assume your primary priority is to rescue the crew?"
Keelah@crystyl:"Naturally. Secondary to this we aim to recover the Lexington. Third to this is to destroy the Lexington"
Keliaya@anncaris | Moya nods, "So someone else can't get their hands on it. That makes sense. This attack by Maar, you don't suspect any direct responsibility by our enemies?"
Keelah@crystyl:"We have considered it, but whilst it remains a possibility the odds are minimal. Any involvement of theirs is - as you already surmised - through the manipulation of local powers to force everyone -
Keelah@crystyl:- else into their current positions"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa nods, "What's our plan for achieving our objectives?"
Keelah@crystyl:"To understand that, you will have to understand that there is more to our convoy than you were previously aware of"
Keliaya@anncaris | Moya: "You've been keeping some assets concealed from us." She smiles, "I'd have done the same in your position."
Keelah@crystyl:"As much for their protection as anything, since one of these cloaked ships is not under our direct command. It is not Starfleet, and not directly tied to us. They are simply allies like the An -
Keelah@crystyl:- back at the Heart, and they got caught up in the wormhole that brought us here. But yes, we have a number of cloaked vessels travelling with us in addition to those you are aware of. Right now, -
Keelah@crystyl:- one of these which fields a particularly advanced cloaking technology is delivering infiltration teams to the Lexington and the surface. The Lexington team is made up of small drones like the -
Keelah@crystyl:- Nuhar construct who accompanies us. They are going to seize the Lexingtons computer to facilitate our retaking of the ship. I have two tactical specialists leading teams of elite ground forces to -
Keelah@crystyl:- planet who will rescue the crew and deliver them back to their ship while helping to retake it. At some point during all of this, their presence will become known to the enemy at which time we -
Keelah@crystyl:- will warp in and provide cover"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa nods, "So our objective is to keep the mercenary ships busy while your teams help the Lexington's crew retake their ship. And once they succeed, we'll have an additional ship- one of the -
Keliaya@anncaris - strongest our enemy has among their fleet, to clean up whoever remains. I think this could work."
Keelah@crystyl:"We are confident, and your presence only bolsters that. You may not think it from our work to date, but my teams are highly skilled at this sort of extraction and there certainly aren't any firsts -
Keelah@crystyl:- for us in this plan"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "We'll do all we can to support you. Andarash ships are more advanced than what these mercs field. Combined with yours and the AI vessel you have in your entourage, we should be able to -
Keliaya@anncaris - pull off this plan with minimal risk to ourselves. The biggest danger is Bendral Maar, who'll probably try to stop your extraction teams and the Lexington crew."
Keliaya@anncaris | Moya: "But he is still only one man- one man who can easily take out ten others on his own, but if the tide of the entire battle goes our way, there's not much he can do to shift it back."
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa nods, "Exactly."
Keelah@crystyl:"One man who already succeeded in taking the Lexington from a full crew. He will be formidable, and if anything turns this plan on it's head it will be him"
Keliaya@anncaris | Kesa: "I hope your teams are up to taking him on, then. We'll do our best to assist from our vessels."
Keelah@crystyl:"They have taken on worse, that much I am certain of. But for now, this is the plan that is underway so it is ours to wait and react"
NPC@annpc#557 | On the Aethon, the Lupan Captain Arvalan calls Rianni up to the bridge...
Rianni@crystyl steps onto the bridge, dressed not in her usual uniform but her heavy assault gear that to those who know is clearly inspired by Mischa's operative look
NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria gives her a glance, "That's not your usual uniform. Why does it look familiar, though...new Starfleet excursion getup?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Not quite, just something I've grown familiar with for heavy ground ops like this"
NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "I could swear I've seen another Starfleet officer wear something similar, though..."
Rianni@crystyl looks herself over, "Well it is inspired by an outfit favoured by an officer I know... have you worked with her too - Commander Leveson-Scott?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria: "Yes, that's it! I worked with her that time when she took the Aethon to rescue Emma, back in the Heart."
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "And I imagine for such a mission she would have worn her ground operations gear too. Well, that's my inspiration here too anyway!"
NPC@annpc#557 | Veladria smiles and nods, "That explains why it looks familiar. Anyways, Captain Arvalan thought you'd want to be here, we're approaching the system."
Rianni@crystyl:"Thanks. Yeah, Sin is having way too much fun down there. But a hold full of sweaty and anxious MACO's is not my first choice"
NPC@annpc#557 | Arvalan: "You would not enjoy working on a Lupan raider, then."
Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Yeah, probably not. Doesn't mean I don't like getting my hands dirty now though. That's just /way/ too much testosterone in one hit!"
NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "Given the fact that Lupan physiology primarily makes use of dihydrotestosterone instead of standard testosterone, yes. Far too much."
Rianni@crystyl blinkblinks, "Good to know"
NPC@annpc#557 | Arvalan: "Is /that/ what you are using your shared Guardian memory for?"
NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "No, your people were a wild card during much of our efforts against the Horde. It was common for our officers to study up on you."
NPC@annpc#557 | Pilot: "Dropping out of warp now."
NPC@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen, the starstreaks fade back into stars as they arrive in the system
Rianni@crystyl steps up to watch closely, "Mia and the drones are standing by in the transporter room"
NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian: "No sign that they know we're here. The Lexington's shields haven't been raised. We should be good for transport."
NPC@annpc#557 | Arvalan: "Take us in."
NPC@annpc#557 | The Aethon moves in, keeping their distance from the raider patrols just to be safe. Before long, the Lexington comes into view among the bulk of the mercenary fleet above the second planet. -
NPC@annpc#557 - There are some scorch marks and signs of battle on the hull, but it's still in one piece, with most of the damage looking superficial
Rianni@crystyl points, "If we can slip in within what would be their own shield bubble, there should be sufficient background energy to effectively mask the transport"