On their search for the missing Starfleet ships, the Venator encounters a remote mining colony with a strange mystery that is apparently connected to the Horde...
Rianni@crystyl | Having moved on with its search, the Venator continues deeper into reclaimed space in the hopes of finding new leads
Rianni@crystyl | Kelly arrives on the bridge to what has quickly become a routine for the crew
Keliaya@anncaris steps over towards Rianni, "How's everything going so far today?"
Rianni@crystyl:"All quiet so far"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "As usual for former Horde space, then. How's the crew doing?"
Rianni@crystyl:"I think everyone's still fired up. But the longer we trawl through dead space like this, the more the question of supplies comes up"
Keliaya@anncaris:"There should be plenty of supplies and resources to scavenge that the Horde left behind, if we know where to look. But it might be easier to trade for it with scavengers and new colonies out here. -
Keliaya@anncaris:- Even with the Horde gone, scavenging has its risks. These ruined mega-factories are anything but stable; could be a good idea to leave the scavenging to people who are familiar with it. We should -
Keliaya@anncaris:- be good for some trade with the amount of dilithium we brought."
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "I thought you might agree" she hands Kelly a PADD, "After Emma brought it up last night, I checked our long range sensor data and found a few promising looking regions where we might find -
Rianni@crystyl:- trade. If not for information, then at least for supplies"
Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, taking the PADD, "I'll have to remember to thank Emma for it too, then. Since our search patterns don't seem to be getting us anywhere, this is probably a better plan."
Rianni@crystyl:"It's a different one at any rate. There are a few systems there that are not too far from our current course. I think any of these might be likely to house a colony of some description with trade -
Rianni@crystyl:- links to the last one we encountered. Of course, they could just as easily be pirate dens. Or completely deserted still..."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Let's check them out. Make our approaches under cloak just in case, though I doubt any pirates out here have the firepower to be a threat to us. But there could be more trouble with the Drenn, so -
Keliaya@anncaris:- best to play it safe."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "Agreed. Do you have any suggestions on which to start with?"
Keliaya@anncaris scrolls through the list before pointing one out to Rianni, "What'd you think about this system?"
Rianni@crystyl checks the records, "Not much on the system itself, but the star seems likely to support at least one class-M world. There is also what looks like an asteroid belt which suggests the potential for -
Rianni@crystyl:- heavy mineral deposits"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "And the Faraday or Guan Yu would've seen the same, so they very well may have visited like with the Rider colony. Let's see what we find there, if anything."
Rianni@crystyl:"Understood. Helm, adjust heading; 021 mark 4. And I guess you were right, now I owe you drink!"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo smirks, "Aye Lieutenant, adjusting heading now."
Keliaya@anncaris glances to Rianni curiously, "What did you two bet on..."
Rianni@crystyl:"Well see, I wagered that you would pick the fourth on the list. We had a nice little pool going actually, I had to pad the list a bit but there was enough on there for everyone here to join in! The-
Rianni@crystyl:- prize was; I would owe the winner a drink. Or if my guess was right, everyone here would owe me one" she giggles
Keliaya@anncaris:"So that's how you've been keeping entertained lately..." she chuckles
Rianni@crystyl:"We had little in the way of entertainment on the Aethon, so we kept making up little games like this to help pass the time and keep our morale up"
Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Another reason I'm glad to have you on board. Didn't actually consider you'd have this kind of experience, but I'm glad you do."
Rianni@crystyl:"I can hardly call myself experienced still. More like I have /an/ experience" she chuckles, "I just figured it might help a new crew bond a little"
Keliaya@anncaris:"It's a good idea, Rianni. We should do more things like it. I don't think my old ways of entertainment are going to be the most appropriate as CO, after all," she smirks
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Probably not. But if it's things like entertainment and engagement, we should have recruited Chief Tyr - she always had fun ideas for the crew!"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I've heard a thing or two about how quiet things can get in former Horde space. Should've factored it into the mission planning more, but I'm sure you'll do well enough!"
Rianni@crystyl:"/We/ will" she smiles
Emma Ralde@crystyl meanwhile, enters the mess hall and replicates some breakfast. Casual and friendly greetings to her shipmates in passing before looking around for a seat. Spying Eva sat alone, she approaches
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 looks up, "Hey Emma."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Hi Eva, mind if I join you?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "You're always welcome! How're you finding things on the Venator so far?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl sits, setting her tray down, "I think Kelly's pulled together a cracking little crew!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Yes, even I was surprised by some of the people she found. I think she's got every Denobulan senior officer in the fleet on one ship now," she chuckles
Emma Ralde@crystyl snorts into her tea, "You're not wrong. I never had her pegged for one of those CO's who builds a single species crew either! How about you though, settling in alright?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Hey, we're not Denobulan," she smiles. "But you know what her people are like, all about large families and community. There's plenty of non-Denobulans on the crew, but I think most of the people -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- she chose are more social or more community focused. As for me, well...Chief of Operations is a more senior role than I'm used to, but with my current rank, it's about time I took a more senior -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- position. How do /you/ think I'm doing? You've got more experience than I do, which is why Kelly wanted you to ease me into the job."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"You've got a happy and focused crew, what better praise is there for the Ops Chief?" she smiles, "I know it gets harder to keep your ear to the ground from the top there too, which is why I've been-
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- doing that for you still. I mentioned to Rianni last night that all this coasting around in dead space will take its toll quicker than normal on a crew's disposition. It's hard to explain, but if-
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- space had an aroma - and we could smell it inside the ship - you would say this whole region has the stench of death, and a crew grows to feel that in their bones"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I know what you mean. The Horde might be gone, but they left an imprint on the region. Even without psionics you can feel it, with all the debris and ruined planets everywhere."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Exactly. So I told her that as a result of this people are already starting to wonder about us being out here too long and running out of supplies and such"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I'm sure there's plenty out here with everything left behind in the wake of the Horde. We just might have to go out of our way a little to obtain it."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes, she said she was going to discuss it with the Captain this morning an-" she looks out of the window and smiles, "I guess they are done discussing it then. If I'm not mistaken, we just altered -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- course"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "It seems so. We're going to see if we can find any scavenger bases or colonies to trade with and get information from. Oh, and Kelly wants to thank you for your suggestion," she smiles
Emma Ralde@crystyl chuckles, "I don't think I'll ever get used to that connection between you two"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 chuckles, "It took us a little getting used to even. I can only imagine what it's like from the outside."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I think we're getting used to it slowly" she chuckles, "Speaking of you two, mind if I ask something more personal?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Ask away."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well I was just wondering... how are you finding it, being in a relationship with the Captain? Just... asking for a friend you know. A friend who may or may not be quickly coming to terms with the -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- fact that she may one day be in that position..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"It's still pretty new to me, but I've definitely noticed some of the crew behaving a bit differently around me. It doesn't help that I also stepped into a senior officer role at the same time, -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- even I can't always tell which reason they're behaving differently due to. We're also both usually quite busy, but I suppose being Chief of Operations and Captain, we also have the luxury of -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- being the ones who make the schedules so we can schedule ourselves more time together. Assuming nothing unexpected gets in the way, of course."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"But duty aside, it hasn't affected things at all with her being Captain now?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Affected things in a personal way? Not particularly, but I suppose that's the upside of the crew Kelly's assembled. With all the community minded species and all. We still observe all the usual -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- Starfleet protocols, but you might've noticed there's a little less formality than usual. Closer to crews that've been working together for a long time like back on the Forge than your typical -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- Starfleet ship, even though much of the crew is still only starting to get to know one another."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That is very true. I know your connection makes it a unique situation, but I wasn't sure if that might even make things worse at times"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"It...depends. It can be very helpful, like just now where I can inform you of exactly what happened on the bridge. I think most of the junior crew either don't know about it or don't understand -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- the full extent, but the ones who do, well...what I said about people behaving differently because of my relationship to the Captain just becomes magnified, since she can hear what they're saying -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- to me. A good way to pass messages on to the bridge when one of us isn't there, but I've also noticed some people practically treating me like I /am/ the Captain."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I can see why. Guess it's an even bigger promotion than you signed up for in that regard" she chuckles
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 chuckles, "Yes, it is. But fortunately thanks to the crew Kelly's assembled, most people here don't treat the Captain /that/ differently from everyone else. Kelly's running this ship more like a -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - family than a military vessel, ironic given the origins of the Venator. But I think her relation to the crew is probably closer to one of your Tabadi than a typical Starfleet CO."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I can see how that would help with normalizing the idea of the Captain being in a relationship with someone else on the crew in the eyes of colleagues. And I guess the whole getting into dangerous -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- situations is not really any different now to when we were on the Forge right?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "We've been doing plenty of that before. I don't think I /can/ get into more dangerous of a situation than being taken over by the Architect and used to try and consume the whole galaxy."
Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "True enough. If anything, I should have talked with Kelly about this stuff"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles back, "Well, I can give you Kelly's insight too. And there's a little trick, but we're saving that for emergencies..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I'm guessing this is a little trick tied to your unique connection?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 grins, "Something like that. But yes, Kelly has a...history of losing people close to her. We made our connection by accident, as you might remember, and it took a while for her to accept that. -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - But after everything we went through on the Valley Forge, I think it's gotten her used to the idea of letting people close to her again. Another reason she made this crew the way she did. I -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - think if Kelly was given a command before the Forge set out on her journey, she would've done things very differently."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yeah, I can see that. I think that has actually helped give me some perspective!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "I'm glad it's helped. Things'll probably be different for you and Rianni, your connection isn't telepathic like ours. But you have your own quirks, don't you..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That's one way of putting it"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Well, neither Kelly nor myself can say we've been through exactly what you have- I mean, I don't think anyone in the galaxy can. But I believe the key to Kelly moving past her fear of loss was -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- actually my time under the control of the Architect."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Really, how so?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"She accepted that sometimes, we just can't control what happens, and it's better to make the most of what time we have. Our connection proved important for our eventual victory too, and she saw -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- how strong a real bond can be. Much stronger than the forced control of the Horde, which is a big factor for the command style she's adopting, too. We don't believe in ordering people around and -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- disciplining them. If people respect you and want to follow you, they'll listen, regardless of rank or position."
Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "I couldn't agree more. And I'm pretty sure Rianni shares that philosophy too. Of course we don't have your telepathic connection, but we do have something so maybe the same approach can work"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "I think a strong emotional bond can be just as powerful. And speaking of Rianni, that's why Kelly has so much faith in her command abilities too. She's not the typical human image of a -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - person with authority, but she's likeable and she's done a lot of things worthy of respect. And as captains like Dax and Nog have proven, that's just as viable of an approach in Starfleet, as -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - long as you've got a compatible crew. Probably don't want to run a Klingon ship that way..."
Emma Ralde@crystyl chuckles, "Now that would be an interesting sight!" she stands, "Well thanks for the insights Eva, I think I've got some new things to consider now"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Actually Rianni had some good rapport with the Lupan. Maybe she could do well on a Klingon ship too..." she chuckles as well. "I'll leave you to it, Emma. Glad I could help!"
Rianni@crystyl | Almost a day passes as the Vanator travels to the identified system. As they draw near, Kelly is informed and called to the bridge
Keliaya@anncaris steps out from the lift, "Picked up anything so far?"
Rianni@crystyl stands, "Not yet, we're a few minutes out of sensor range still"
Keliaya@anncaris steps over, taking a seat, "Let's cloak before we enter sensor range, just as a precaution."
Rianni@crystyl nods, moving to her station and engaging the cloak
Keliaya@anncaris:"Did you hear about the formal nullification of the Treaty of Algeron now?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Yes, although I'm not sure it has really sunk in yet"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I wonder if we'll see cloaks becoming more common on Starfleet ships going forward. Thanks to the Romulans and Klingons, it's frequently seen as something used for pre-emptive attacks, but I think -
Keliaya@anncaris:- it has a role on ships of peace and exploration, too. Sometimes the best way to avoid a fight is not to be seen."
Rianni@crystyl:"I concur. I don't think it will become standard across the fleet, but I can certainly see it becoming a norm for the likes of DSEC. The only question is; will it end up being true reworks of -
Rianni@crystyl:- Romulan or Klingon devices, or something entirely Starfleet in origin"
Keliaya@anncaris:"That's a good question. I doubt we'll invent a new type of cloak from scratch, what we do implement will probably take inspiration from all the technologies we're familiar with. Whether it'll end -
Keliaya@anncaris:- up very heavily based on a specific type of cloak though, we'll have to see, but I have a feeling it'll be somewhere in between original and a rework."
Rianni@crystyl:"Either way, it will be interesting"
Rianni@crystyl | Azevedo: "We're approaching the system now, dropping out of warp"
Keliaya@anncaris looks over to Indrix, "Any confirmation of class-M planets in the system?"
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix: "Let's see... We've got a gas giant, few dusty rocks... hmm, no class-M planets though. I- wait, no... no planets but..." he taps some more, checking readings, "Yes! One of the gas -
Rianni@crystyl:- giant's moons looks to have a tolerable atmosphere"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Take us in towards the gas giant, then. Let's see if we can get a closer look at this moon."
Rianni@crystyl | Azavedo, "Taking us in now"
Keliaya@anncaris leans back as she waits for more readings of the moon to come in
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix works away on his assessment of the moon
Rianni@crystyl:"Well, I can't see any activity in the system. No other ships, not even a satellite at the moment"
Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "There's no comms traffic out there either"
Keliaya@anncaris:"What about debris, signs of former Horde presence?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Nothing on my sensors at least, but that's not to say there isn't elsewhere in the system"
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix: "There is an asteroid belt, so any space debris may well have gravitated into that"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Good point. Let's focus on the moon for now. We can search the asteroid belt to mark any potential resources and salvage if we confirm that no one's set up here already."
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix nods: "Indeed. And I may have something on the moon. It's not much, but readings indicate artificial alloy materials within an isolated region on the southern hemisphere"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Azevedo, bring us into orbit over that region."
Rianni@crystyl | Azevedo nods, "Aye, maneuvering for geosynchronous orbit"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Any indication what the artificial alloy is at this distance? Buildings, ruins, wreckage?"
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix: "I'd say it's structures. Looks like a small colony down there"
Rianni@crystyl | Farhalla nods: "Specifically, a mining colony. There's some heavy industrialization of the subsurface too"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Might be just what we're looking for. Let's give them a hail and see what happens."
Rianni@crystyl | Emma tries but shakes her head, "No response"
Keliaya@anncaris:"They do have comm equipment, right?"
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix: "No lifesigns on my sensors either. But there's some localized interference, likely from the mineral processing"
Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "I... think so? It does look like there's sufficiently advanced tech down there at least"
Keliaya@anncaris:"You'd think they'd have found a way to bypass the interference to get comms. Maybe they want to keep a low profile, though. Not much in the way of law out here, so if they don't have defenses, -
Keliaya@anncaris:- they could be taking the 'not be seen' approach I was advocating for earlier."
Rianni@crystyl:"Given the nature of this region, I would not be surprised in the least"
Keliaya@anncaris:"How close can we transport with that interference?"
Rianni@crystyl | Farhalla: "It doesn't seem to be causing any real issues for the pattern buffers. We should be able to set a team down right on the edge of the colony"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I assume if they go into the interference, we'll lose lifesigns like how we can't see the colonists now, so they'll need to return to that point to transport out?"
Rianni@crystyl | Farhalla nods, "That would be best. Or they could take some pattern enhancers down to be safe too"
Keliaya@anncaris:"That might be a good idea," she looks to Rianni. "Up for another away mission, Lieutenant?"
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Always"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Take Eva with you. I don't like this lack of communications, and if it's the interference, she can still maintain contact telepathically. And if it's a technical issue then she can help them fix -
Keliaya@anncaris:- it. I'll leave the rest of the team to you, but you should probably bring one or two Security personnel, just in case the lack of lifesigns isn't a sensor issue."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "I'll leave Sin here to keep you covered on tactical" she turns to Th’Rylliss, "Care to join me, or do you have more specialists to recommend from your staff?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "Take Master Chief Petty Officer Katapak. He's one of our best and he grew up on a remote colony outside Federation space, so he's got experience with places similar to this."
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Perfect! Somehow I knew you'd have someone who made a good fit..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "I try not to disappoint, LT."
Keliaya@anncaris looks to Farhalla, "Have some pattern enhancers prepared ready to go for the team in the transporter room."
Rianni@crystyl | Farhalla: "Will do"
Rianni@crystyl:"Thanks. I'll head to the transporter room and meet everyone there"
Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "I've sent Eva a message. Though I suspect she already knew..." she chuckles, looking at Kelly
Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Yes she did. But she thanks you for informing her still."
Rianni@crystyl | The away team materializes on the outskirts of the colony. They are greeted by an arid terrain and a typically overworked-looking colony in front of them. What few buildings there are have -
Rianni@crystyl - long fallen into disrepair, yet remain standing and seemingly functional
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chief Katapak, a grizzled Security NCO appearing around 40, glances around. The man has a distinctive tribal tattoo, reminiscent of the one seen on Chakotay but of a different design. After a -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - moment, he comments, "Doesn't look like a new colony to me."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 runs a scan, trying to sense if anyone is around telepathically at the same time
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I sense people here. This place is definitely inhabited."
Rianni@crystyl:"It looks like a ghost town though..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "It's very weird. Not what I expected to find, either..."
Rianni@crystyl looks to Katapak, "What's your take on it Chief?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "These structures seem old enough to predate the Horde defeat. I don't think whoever is here now built these structures. They would've been taken over by the Horde if they were here. -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - These could be scavengers who've just moved in recently."
Rianni@crystyl:"Makes sense. But this still feels... off somehow, doesn't it?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I don't like the feel of this place either...but that could just be due to its position in former Horde space. Especially if the Horde once occupied this colony. I think we should take a -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - closer look. Maybe the people here are in some trouble."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "Chief, take point and stay sharp"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chief Katapak leads the way, looking around carefully while Eva follows, still scanning and sensing for any nearby people
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"All the people seem to be indoors. Let's try one of the buildings, maybe. See if anyone answers the door."
Rianni@crystyl nods and approaches one
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak follows beside her, a hand by his side ready to draw a phaser if there's danger
Rianni@crystyl | Before the team reach the door however, window shutters on many of the buildings around them open up as the colonists all appear, training rifles on the team
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 raises her arms slowly, "We're not here to harm you!"
Rianni@crystyl does the same, looking around, "We are just visitors to your colony"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak also raises his arms with the rest of the team
Rianni@crystyl | A voice calls out from a window above them, "Filthy lies! You won't take anything more from us for your precious Horde!"
Rianni@crystyl:"I think you all have us mistaken for someone else..."
Rianni@crystyl | The voice persists, "You won't fool us again!"
Rianni@crystyl hrms, muttering to the others, "Any ideas?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 looks up at the window, "How were you fooled last time? What was taken from you?"
Rianni@crystyl | The voice huffs, "Pretending like you don't know? How pitiful! Just accept that we have the upper hand this time and walk away while we're feeling generous!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"You do have the upper hand, so is there any harm in humouring us? You can take our phasers, we just want to know what's going on."
Rianni@crystyl | There is a pause this time before a response, "...your what? Oh those shiny disruptors you've got? I don't know what your game is this time, but fine..." he emits a sharp whistle and a moment -
Rianni@crystyl:- later a few doors open and colonists cautiously venture out a few steps, holding their aim on the away team
Rianni@crystyl slowly lowers her phaser and tosses it to the ground
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 and Katapak also toss their phasers to the ground
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "Better?"
Rianni@crystyl | The alien who was speaking appears from the doorway they were approaching - cautious as the others, "That depends what you're really up to"
Rianni@crystyl looks to Eva and Katapak, "I believe it would be best to defer to your respective abilities and experience here"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I can do the communicating. I was a comms officer, after all." She steps forward. "I'm Commander Evanne Dra of the Venator, a Federation ship associated with the Rimward Coalition. But I -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - don't suppose you'll just believe we are who we say we are?"
Rianni@crystyl | The colonist scoffs, "So it's that game this time is it? Alright Miss 'Evanne Dra of the Venator', what exactly does your 'Federation' want with us this time?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Well we were hoping to find either trade or information, but I get the impression you're not exactly up for either right now. So...why don't we start with you, first? Who are all of you?"
Rianni@crystyl | The colonist sighs, "Well those are new faces at least... fine! I'm Braixut"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Now, that's a better start. Is this your home, Braixut?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "Yes, this is a mining outpost of the Orzoil Trading Company. Exactly like it's always been"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Exactly as it's always been? How long has your company been here?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "589 cycles. What's with all this feigned interest this time? It's giving me the creeps..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Because it's not feigned. Who visited you last time? You said something about the Horde?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braitux nods, "Yes, your friends come here regularly to plunder our hard work and you know it!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"No, I don't actually. Do these ‘friends’ also wear the same uniforms as us?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut shrugs, "Depends which thralls they send, it's not always the same ones"
Rianni@crystyl | A younger male of the same species comes up beside Braixut, "Father, what if they're telling the truth? We should-"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut scowls and cuts him off, "What? Do what your mother would have wanted? Do you want to join her now is that it? It was trusting these Horde outsiders that got her killed lest you forget!"
Rianni@crystyl:"Could we at least pretend for a minute that we're not whoever you fear we are and just try humouring us?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut huffs, "Oh fine! But we're watching you..." he lowers his weapon, but everyone else keeps theirs up as he turns to Eva again, "So what's the story this time? -ow!" he grunts as his son -
Rianni@crystyl:- nudges him, "I mean... what brings you here?" he relents
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Like we said, trade and information. And right now the information we'd like to know is about these Horde outsiders..."
Rianni@crystyl | Braixuts: "So we're playing this little game are we... so this is the part where you pretend you've never heard of the Horde is it?" he scoffs
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Of course we've heard of the Horde. It's just that what we know of the Horde...doesn't quite match up with what you're saying so far. So, I'd like to hear your side of things first."
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "What is there to say? They come, they take what they want, and they go"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"And...that's exactly why it doesn't match up with what we know. When was this last time they visited? How many of your local cycles ago was it?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "Oh, it's not even been a full cycle since their last visit. Almost a half cycle though, so they're due any time now"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "So that's why you think we're with them. And what do they usually take?"
Rianni@crystyl:'| Braixut's son chimes in, "Well we've only got one thing here, so what do you think?"
Rianni@crystyl:"The extracted materials from your mining operation..."
Rianni@crystyl | The son nods, "Obviously"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Have you heard about the Horde before these people started showing up? Or were they the first time you've heard the name?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut shakes his head, "Of course we've heard of them! Who hasn't grown up with stories of the army of the dead creeping across the galaxy?!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I don't suppose you know how they operate and all..."
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut huffs, "Noooo... why would know that after being under their control for so long..." he sighs
Rianni@crystyl:"You do not appear to be under Horde influence"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "Well duh! Because we gave them what they wanted first!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"That's...not how they operate."
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "Maybe not where you're from if you're still sticking to this story of not being them - but it's how they operate here!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"It's how they operate everywhere. The Horde aren't like us. There's no factions, no differences between crews or fleets or planets. They're all a single mind. And because of that, they were all -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- destroyed together when we sent a signal across the galaxy that hijacked control of the mind and caused the entire Horde, down to the last thrall, to destroy each other and themselves."
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut laughs: "Is that right? You beat the army of the dead with 'a signal'. How convenient..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"It wasn't /convenient/. It took over a year of fighting and the sacrifice of 7 million, 243 thousand, 196 Coalition lives in the fighting within the Heart alone. About half of these were lost in -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- the final effort to take and hold the control centre while the signal was sent, the largest single battle known in galactic history. And that's not mentioning all the people lost at Calahadon and -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- Terminu, or the years and work it took to locate the Heart facility."
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "Anyone can spout numbers but that don't mean squat out here. I don't know nothing about no grand battles or these other meaningless names you throw around. I just know that they're here-
Rianni@crystyl:- and they're coming for us. So if you say you ain't with them, fine whatever. Do yourselves a favour and run off back the way you came. Just leave us alone"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "Well, if all you want is to be left alone, we'll respect that. Just...one more question before we go."
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "And what would that be?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"You said what they wear depends on which...thralls they send down. Take a close look at our uniforms- were any of them wearing the same clothes we are?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut things a moment, looking her up and down, "Not exactly. But there is something... Oh yes! That pendant of yours!" he points at her combadge, "I know I've seen that before"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"On one of the thralls?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut: "Well it wasn't one of us!"
Rianni@crystyl:"I guess that means yes"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "Well, thank you for your information. We'll be on our way now. Can we collect our weapons before we go?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut signals one of the others who comes in and gathers them all up before running off. "He'll drop them back at the place where you arrived. You can collect them there"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "That'll do. Let's head back there ourselves, too."
Rianni@crystyl nods, looking to Braixut, "We apologize for the disruption to you here, but thank you for the information" turning to walk back to the beam in point
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Well, that was not what I expected."
Rianni@crystyl:"I can't imagine anyone would have anticipated this. Thank you for handling the talks back there, I hope I wasn't imposing too much"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles and shakes her head, "Not at all. Like I said, communicating is something I'm good at."
Rianni@crystyl:"And your abilities give you a much better read on a high string individual like that. I do not think I could have handled that conversation quite so well"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Keelah doesn't have my abilities, but she's famous for her negotiating skill. I'm sure you'll be able to do it, too."
Rianni@crystyl:"One day maybe, but for now it just feels like it's best to let those with more experience and capability handle things like that when possible"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Hey, you have more experience than me in some areas. I'm only just getting used to a department head role, which you've already done for a while on the Forge."
Rianni@crystyl:"I do my best! Just that sometimes that means relying on others who know better still" she smiles
Rianni@crystyl gathers up their things, "Looks like it's all here. Ready to beam back?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, tapping her combadge, "Commander Dra to Venator. Can you get a lock on us from here?"
Rianni@crystyl | Transporter Chief: "Affirmative Commander. Do you want to beam back now?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Yes, transport us back, please."
Rianni@crystyl | Chief: "Energizing"
Keliaya@anncaris | After the away team's return to the Venator, Kelly gathers the senior staff in the ready room
Rianni@crystyl:"...and that's when we returned to the ship"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "What the colonists described seems more like a typical pirate group. Maybe one using the reputation of the Horde to their advantage to prey on people unfamiliar with them."
Rianni@crystyl:"That does seem the most likely"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And they said one of these 'Horde' had a Starfleet combadge?"
Rianni@crystyl:"We hoped to find a potential lead here, but nothing like this"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "They might have obtained it from one of the missing ships. But it's just a combadge, hard to say where they could've gotten it from. Still, these colonists sound like they could use -
Keliaya@anncaris - assistance."
Rianni@crystyl:"And they were insistent that we just leave them alone. However the implication of some connection with the combadge changes things and forces a precedent for us to investigate further"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss nods, "Agreed. We can protect these colonists and find out where they got this combadge from at the same time. The problem is, the colonists don't trust us."
Keliaya@anncaris:"We may not need the colonists' cooperation. They're expecting these pirates using the name of the Horde, or whatever they are, to arrive any day now, right?"
Rianni@crystyl:"They gave that impression, yes"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I doubt they stick to a strict schedule, so the colonists can't give us a more specific timing even if they were eager to help. But if we're lucky, we might be able to catch them as they arrive -
Keliaya@anncaris:- for their next collection of resources from the colony."
Rianni@crystyl:"Fortunately that asteroid belt should make it easy to mask our presence without sitting in cloak the whole time"
Keliaya@anncaris | Dr. Qrehl: "What if they take a while to arrive? This is a lead, yes, but we can't spend all our time waiting for them. Especially if this combadge just turns out to be a trinket some pirate -
Keliaya@anncaris - purchased off a thief or something."
Keliaya@anncaris:"I'll send a report to the Coalition. Like last time we'll inform them of an independent colony in distress and request the nearest available support. We can wait in the asteroid belt like -
Keliaya@anncaris:- Lieutenant Tierno suggested. If these people claiming to be Horde don't arrive before support does, we can resume our search pattern and leave the waiting to someone else. Even if there isn't a -
Keliaya@anncaris:- ship in the immediate vicinity, I have a feeling the Guardians'll send someone from mention of the Horde alone."
Keliaya@anncaris | Dr. Qrehl nods, "That sounds like a plan. We can probably spare a little time, not like our searching lately has turned up much, anyways."
Rianni@crystyl:"I'm not sure if this is pushing it too far, but if we want to see what - whoever it is - is doing down there when they turn up, it might be help to have eyes on the ground"
Keliaya@anncaris:"That would be helpful, but the colonists have made it pretty clear that they don't want us down there. And I'm not sure how we can persuade them that we're not with these 'Horde,' except perhaps -
Keliaya@anncaris:- by helping drive them away when they come. Unless you can convince them, the only way to get eyes on the ground will probably be without the colonists' knowledge."
Keliaya@anncaris:"We could send a team down to watch things without being seen, but we'll have to be very careful they don't find the team. I'm sure that wouldn't help their trust issues."
Rianni@crystyl:"Which is why I'm uncertain if it's fruitful or not"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "With the interference, I might not be able to get a read on what's going on. We couldn't pick up lifesigns from orbit, after all. And if we hail them without evidence of piracy, they -
Keliaya@anncaris - could deny everything."
Keliaya@anncaris | Farhalla: "I can make some of those lifesign concealers Starfleet Intelligence likes to use, and our cloak should be able to mask the transport signature. As long as you stay out of view, you -
Keliaya@anncaris - should be able to keep an eye on the colony."
Keliaya@anncaris nods, looking to Rianni, "Are you down for another trip to the surface, then?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I suggest you take the same team down, then. You're already familiar with the situation, and since the colonists let you go last time, I suspect they're less likely to attack you on sight than -
Keliaya@anncaris:- they would anyone else if you do happen to be spotted."
Rianni@crystyl:"Agreed. Should we go straight back there or give it some time first?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Give it some time, unless we pick up a ship moving in on sensors or something. The colonists are probably on high alert now, so you'll have more of a chance of being spotted if you return right away."
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Alright, we'll send the team back down in a few hours and then wait among the asteroids. Make sure you bring some supplies since you might be camping out for a bit while we wait."
Rianni@crystyl | The next day, the away team returns to the surface with a few crates of supplies. This time materializing further away from the colony in a secluded area
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 tries to sense the colonists again, specifically trying to determine if any are aware of their return
Rianni@crystyl | The colonists all seem to be within the colony and mine, no indication that they are aware of the away team
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I don't think the colonists are aware of our presence here. We should be good to go."
Rianni@crystyl:"Alright, let's setup camp first and then look to surveillance"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I'll keep my senses peeled, in case some of them wander close to here."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 steps over to their supplies to begin setting camp
Rianni@crystyl joins her to assist, "This could be quite the extended expedition"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Yes, we could be down here for a while. But it's better to wait down here than risk transporting when these so-called Horde show up."
Rianni@crystyl:"Well, we can at least make the most of it. Treat it like a little camping trip!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 chuckles, "Like when Kelly found you while recruiting?"
Rianni@crystyl flushes, "I, um, well... no!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 laughs, "I didn't mean that specific detail!"
Rianni@crystyl:"Right! Well, good. Because, um, that would probably draw too much attention to us, yeah. All that tribal music and all..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Farhalla specifically gave us heating devices and ration packs so we won't be seen. Probably shouldn't ruin her efforts with loud music and dancing."
Rianni@crystyl giggles, "Probably not!"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 begins setting up a tent, "So, do you camp often? You're from Mars, right?"
Rianni@crystyl:"I am yes, but no it's not something I've ever done before actually. That's why Emma and I were on that trip to begin with"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chief Katapak chimes in, "Not a lot of places to camp on Mars, is there?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Not quite! What about you Chief? Much of an outdoorsman?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak nods, "Outdoors activity was part of our way of life where we grew up."
Rianni@crystyl:"Then hopefully I can learn a little from you while we are here then! If you don't mind sharing your knowledge of course"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "Of course not, Lieutenant. This moon's a little more barren than where I grew up, but there should still be plenty of skills that can carry over."
Rianni@crystyl:"Then if there's anything you think of that we can do to ease our time here, please speak up"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "Well, there isn't a lot of resources here, not anything we can use at least. Obviously there's resources to mine. But I don't see much in the way of food and water, so we should use -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - ours sparingly and conserve what we have. We could call the ship for supplies, but that risks exposing our position."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "The less we have to contact the ship, the better"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "As for the climate, we'll have to see. Probably not a lot of rain, but place like this could have dust storms."
Rianni@crystyl:"We can monitor the weather patterns with one of the tricorders. Then I suppose we just have to make sure we really secure everything down right?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak nods, "Affirmative. We don't want our supplies being blown away."
Rianni@crystyl:"Or ourselves!" she chuckles
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak chuckles, "Or ourselves. That would be slightly worse."
Rianni@crystyl:"So where did you grow up anyway?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "It's a colony by the Cardassian border. Within the Cardassian border, depending on the point in history we're talking about. I doubt you'll recognize the name, it's a very small -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - colony known mainly for one thing."
Rianni@crystyl:"What one thing is that?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "It's the homeworld of a Starfleet officer by the name of Chakotay. Famous for being second-in-command for Starfleet's longest and farthest-reaching exploration mission at the time."
Rianni@crystyl:"The Voyager, yes I know it! We had to learn all about it and it's crew at the academy"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak smiles, "I thought you would. It's a very well-known ship and crew."
Rianni@crystyl:"And he's a very well known officer! So does that mean your tattoo is a tribal marking too?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak nods, "That's right. We're a very traditional people, with traditions different from most Earth humans today. We founded our own colony to preserve our way of life."
Rianni@crystyl:"I would love to learn about it"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "Are you familiar with the original inhabitants of the Americas back on Earth?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Loosely, but I can't pretend to really know anything about that culture"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "We were a collection of many different cultures, but many of our nations were destroyed or scattered and assimilated into others over the course of ancient Earth history. As I'm sure -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - you know, the humans of that time were very different from most of us today."
Rianni@crystyl:"A lot more like the Klingons. Just with nation states instead of houses"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak nods, "Exactly. My tribe are descended from survivors of one of the aboriginal American cultures. Our way of life was about living in harmony with the world around us. We kept as much -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - much of our ways alive as we could over the violent and dangerous times of old Earth, but one thing we couldn't protect was the Earth itself. Our ever-advancing technology might've ensured -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - that the planet was free of irradiated and polluted wastelands, but Earth was still...not quite the same."
Rianni@crystyl:"I can imagine. So your ancestors left to find a new home that was more harmonious?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak nods, "As did many other tribes that followed similar cultures. We had the misfortune to settle near the Cardassians."
Rianni@crystyl:"So you got caught up in the border disputes I take it?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "Yes. My people were ruled by the Cardassians for several years. They turned our colony into a mining site, much like this one here. Fortunately, their time in charge did not last -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - and no irreversible damage was done to our new home."
Rianni@crystyl:"That is fortunate. I understand many similar worlds can't say the same"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "That is true. Some of our tribe joined the Maquis in a desperate attempt to free our world, but in the end it was Starfleet who liberated us during the war with the Dominion. And...-
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - while it may seem strange to hear, we owe some thanks to a Cardassian as well."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "I hadn't been born yet back then, but I heard the story from many elders of our tribe. When the Cardassians joined the Dominion, they reassigned the overseer at our colony. He was -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - replaced by a much younger officer by the name of Selesk. He was bitter about it first, it was likely his reassignment was a punishment for something, or he'd simply fallen out of favour with -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - someone. But he never took out his anger on us. He was still our overseer, but he treated us...more like fellow people than any Cardassian, at least any Cardassian of that time."
Rianni@crystyl:"That could have easily gone very differently as well. It sounds like the universe has been kind to your tribe"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak nods, "That isn't even what we know Selesk for. He was less cruel than the previous overseer, but what we really have to thank him for...we discovered that our planet had materials -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - useful in the construction of Dominion ships. We tried to keep the information from Selesk, and we thought we'd been successful. When Starfleet came and the Cardassians fled the planet though, -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - we found out that he knew about the resources all along. Had it locked away in his private terminal. Never passed it on to his superiors or the Dominion."
Rianni@crystyl:"You would think that if he was out of favour in some form, he would have jumped at the chance to redeem himself with intel like that"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "Apparently not. Those of our tribe who met him never really understood him, either. He was apparently quite the enigmatic figure. But whatever his reasons, we were certainly lucky he -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - decided to withhold that information. The Dominion would've no doubt started a far larger and more destructive mining operation, and who knows what they would've done with our tribe."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "Well, that's your history lesson for the day, LT," he chuckles. "Let's get this camp set up before it gets dark. I can tell you more about our customs and traditions around the -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - campfire...or camp-heater, in this case."
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "I'd like that!"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | A few days later...
Emma Ralde@crystyl | The Venator remains in close proximity to the colony, stalking from the shadows of the asteroid field
Emma Ralde@crystyl has been on the bridge more than not during this time, and is on duty once more leaning an elbow on her console with her chin rested on her palm
Keliaya@anncaris steps out from her ready room, looking around the bridge and setting her sights on Emma, "Everything good?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well there's no news if that's what you mean"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Getting a little impatient?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Hey, not all of us can share a link like you and Eva. How are they doing anyway, any word - or feels - from her?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"They're doing well. Not as comfortable as staying in quarters on the ship, of course, but they haven't been spotted and they seem content enough," she smiles. "I hope that puts you at ease a -
Keliaya@anncaris:- little bit?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl sighs softly, "It probably does" she chuckles
Keliaya@anncaris:"Don't worry, I'm sure they'll be fine. They've been on riskier missions before. I wish we had a better schedule for when these 'Horde' will show up, but if they are pirates, I suppose we can't -
Keliaya@anncaris:- expect them to be as timely as a Starfleet ship."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"True enough. I just wish that eased the feeling of being apart"
Keliaya@anncaris steps over to Emma, "I know what you mean. We Denobulans are often known for spending long periods of time away from our loved ones. But we still feel the absence, and even worry sometimes, -
Keliaya@anncaris - depending on what they're out and about doing."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That connection of yours must make that easier right?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"On missions like this, yes. Not quite when she was controlled by the Architect, though. I think we Denobulans deal with the absence so well because we have such large families. There's no way -
Keliaya@anncaris:- around feeling apart from someone, but having other people there for you does ease it. You still feel apart from that person, but you never feel alone."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I guess that makes sense. This would probably feel a lot more difficult if I wasn't here with everyone. I just almost wish something would happen so as to take my mind off it a bit, you know?"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I only got through the time Eva was controlled thanks to the rest of the crew, and having more than plenty to do at the time with fighting the Horde and all. Waiting around here...-
Keliaya@anncaris - certainly doesn't help."
Emma Ralde@crystyl chuckles, "You'd think after all this time I'd be more capable by now"
Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "I don't think that's one of the things you can get used to. And having lived long doesn't exactly make time feel any slower either. Maybe in retrospect you'll think that wasn't long -
Keliaya@anncaris - compared to your whole life, but in the present, time still ticks by the same."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well it was things like this that I avoided connections for so long"
Keliaya@anncaris:"That I can certainly empathize with."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Oh? Sorry, I had no idea"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "You didn't know me for long before we ended up on Belyia, so I'm not surprised. The whole connection with Eva formed by accident at first, actually," she chuckles. "Before that I also -
Keliaya@anncaris - avoided connections, actually even /after/ that I was trying to avoid it at first!"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"After you got involved with Eva, or after your connection?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Both. I thought it would be a temporary thing due to Eva's enhanced abilities on Belyia. When it persisted after we left, well...I may have tried to hide from it."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That sounds like the very definition of a fruitless exercise - hiding from your own mind" she chuckles
Keliaya@anncaris:"Yes, I tried to...distract myself from it, but that just caused more problems," she laughs slightly. "Fortunately Eva and I figured it out in the end, and I learned to embrace it."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"As is apparent from how the two of you are now" she smiles
Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "I think you and Rianni are doing pretty well, too."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:'s smile widens at that, "I never did get to telling you exactly what we were doing on that camping trip did I?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Something about Orion traditions, I recall. But mostly I remember the mushrooms and the dancing," she smirks
Emma Ralde@crystyl beams proudly, "That's one thing I've definitely got better at over the years! But yes, it was about traditions. I wanted to introduce Rianni to them more, to get to know us not as we are now but -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- as we once were. I thought maybe if she could better understand my roots then she might..." she flushes awkwardly, "well, that she might accept becoming my vijra"
Keliaya@anncaris:"You think she's not accepting of it now? She seems pretty happy with you."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Oh for sure! But I don't think she fully comprehends the depth of that bond"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Like my connection with Eva on Belyia?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Probably not quite that tangible. But I don't know... ever since I met the ancestors, it's weighed heavily on me about what we may have lost from them. And I guess part of me thought that maybe... -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- maybe something like that was at the roots of our bonding tradition too"
Keliaya@anncaris:"You're talking about that pheromone communication, aren't you?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That's a part of it, yes. I suspect there was some telepathic or empathic element to it as well, but essentially it's the only thing that really makes sense"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And you suspect you might be able to form a bond with Rianni, closer to what Eva and I have?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Nothing on that level, I'm sure. Neither of us has the telepathic presence for that. But yes, that's why we were exploring those ancient Orion traditions; to try and forge a bonding the way they -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- once did. Or at the very least, help Rianni to better understand it all"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Indrix: "Commander, I've got movement on sensors"
Keliaya@anncaris looks over, "Is it moving towards the system?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Indrix nods: "A ship just warped in and is approaching the colony"
Keliaya@anncaris makes her way to the command chair, "This is probably our Horde pretenders, then. Sin, what can you tell me about the ship?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Sin: "Well it definitely screams raider. And scavenger. It looks like someone cobbled it together from scraps, but they knew what they were doing; it's got a solid hull and way too many weapons -
Emma Ralde@crystyl:- for a ship of its size. Nothing we couldn't handle of course"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I can see how someone might think a ship like that comes from the army of the dead from legends and rumours. What about lifesigns, Indrix? I'm guessing it'll be a motley of local species?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Indrix nods, "From what I can tell at any rate. There doesn't seem to be much of a crew, less than a dozen total"
Keliaya@anncaris:"The colonists said they send down different people every time. It would be difficult to pull that off with that few people, you'd think the colonists would realize that it's just the same few -
Keliaya@anncaris:- raiders by now..."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Unless of course they send a different /ship/ every time and there's a lot more of them out there."
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That is a possibility. They have to come from somewhere after all"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Let's keep observing for now and see what happens. Be ready to go in and extract our ground team if necessary. Keep a close eye on that ship and the colony."
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Azevedo, "Ready and waiting"
Emma Ralde@crystyl | Indrix: "It looks like they're beaming down to the surface"
Keliaya@anncaris looks to Emma, "Do we have comm contact with the team?"
Emma Ralde@crystyl:"We do, but I can't guarantee that the new arrivals won't pick up the signal"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Let's keep radio silence and I'll use my connection with Eva, then."
Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles at that, "Hopefully we aren't interrupting their fun down there..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | As the ground team sits and waits in their camp, Eva suddenly stands in the midst of reading from a PADD
Rianni@crystyl notices but thinks nothing of it, figuring it's just time for a bathroom break or something
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 glances back to Rianni after a few moments, "They're here. At least, what we think is them..."
Rianni@crystyl looks up, taking a moment to register and then stands, "Alright, let's get to the lookout"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chief Katapak stands as well, checking his phaser pistol before attaching it onto his belt
Rianni@crystyl:"I take it you heard from the Captain?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "A ship just entered the system and started heading for the colony. Looks like pirates from scans."
Rianni@crystyl:"As we suspected then"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"They're transporting down now..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Chief Katapak keeps a careful lookout as he hears this
Rianni@crystyl | Sure enough, they can see that the colonists have once again gone into hiding
Rianni@crystyl | A rag-tag group of mixed aliens beams in to the middle of the colony, looking around briefly before making their way to the mine entrance
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"They might be trying to set another ambush. Unless they're just going to let the pirates take what they want?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Possibly. They did only confront us when we went for one of the doors"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Maybe they're just protecting themselves and are willing to let the pirates take whatever they want. They did mention someone got killed when they tried to stop the pirates before."
Rianni@crystyl | As they watch, the pirates happily help themselves to what seems to be a pre-made stack of cargo containers, tagging them for beamout a few at a time
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"They're definitely pirates, that's for certain..."
Rianni@crystyl | With the pirates happily whittling down their bounty, they are almost caught unprepared when Braixut's son comes rushing out of one the buildings at them. He yells angrily, brandishing his rifle -
Rianni@crystyl:- again. The pirates look over and laugh it off, quickly overpowering the young man and restraining him
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "That's not good."
Rianni@crystyl:"Very not good..."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods and looks to Rianni, "I don't think this is going to end well. Should we be intervening, or?"
Rianni@crystyl | Braixut scrambles out of another building, pleading with the pirates. His pleas are met with a rifle butt to the jaw, knocking him to the ground
Rianni@crystyl:"I want to, but... this is not an advantageous position and if we attack head on line this we run a risk of them getting the colonists killed"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak nods, "They're probably going to try and use one of them as a hostage if they don't have the upper hand. We'd have to stun them all quickly without being seen, but there isn't a lot -
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - of cover to sneak up to them in this place."
Rianni@crystyl | Watching further, they see an apparent leader among the pirate group approach Braixut's son who is now restrained by two of the others. There is a dialogue between them, but too far away for us -
Rianni@crystyl:- to hear
Rianni@crystyl:"I am also concerned about the rest of the colonists who remain in hiding. After all, this can't be the entirety of the pirate force. If they realize there's an enemy here in us, this could all get -
Rianni@crystyl:- very ugly very quickly"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Yes, fighting the pirates could just provoke retaliation. But if someone was killed the last time this happened, we can't stand by and watch them execute someone again."
Rianni@crystyl | While the team watch and debate, the lead pirate suddenly grabs the sons head
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Wait...I sense something telepathic."
Rianni@crystyl turns to Eva, "A message from the Captain?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 shakes her head, "No, it's not our connection. This is...something else."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 tries to narrow down what's happening
Rianni@crystyl | What Eva senses soon becomes apparent as the pirate releases the son who slumps to the floor briefly. Braixut watches in horror as his son slowly gets back to his feet and continues -
Rianni@crystyl - tagging the containers for the pirates. The leader gives him a hearty pat on the back while shooting Braixut a smug sneer
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"So /that's/ why the colonists think these people are the Horde..."
Rianni@crystyl:"Some sort of... mental domination?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "Looks like it. Probably temporary, like the Architect taught me to do."
Rianni@crystyl | With the last of the shipment beamed out, the pirates - now including Braixut's son - all beam out too
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"With the recent psionic surge though...someone /might/ have the power to control a small group permanently. Maybe this entire pirate crew is like a small-scale Horde, even."
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"That, or it could just be an old-fashioned kidnapping..."
Rianni@crystyl:"It did seem like they only took him in response to his interfering"
Rianni@crystyl:"We should report back to the Venator and see what the Captain wants to do. Can you inform her without risking comms?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"She's already up to date on what's going on here."
Rianni@crystyl:"Perfect. I am sure she will reopen communications once the coast is clear out there. We should be prepared and pack up the camp ready"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Good idea. Let's head back to the camp. We definitely don't want the colonists spotting us right now, they'll just think we're part of the pirates even more."
Rianni@crystyl nods and starts heading back
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 and Katapak follow back, the Chief still keeping alert and watching their surroundings carefully
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Not long after they reach camp and have barely started packing up, Rianni's combadge chirps
Rianni@crystyl taps, "Tierno"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 <C - Kelly> "The pirate ship's just warped away. Are you ready to return to the Venator?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Yes, I assume you know the details of what transpired already?"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 <C - Kelly> "I've heard what happened through Eva. We plan to tail the pirate ship for now while we decide exactly what to do."
Rianni@crystyl:"Understood, we're packing up now. Should be done in, say..." she looks to Katapak for guidance
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Katapak: "We can have everything packed within five minutes."
Rianni@crystyl nods in appreciation, "Five minutes Captain, and we're good to go"
Evanne Dra@annpc#557 <C - Kelly> "Perfect. Just let the transporter room know whenever you're ready to beam back up."
Keliaya@anncaris | After beaming back to the Venator, Rianni and Eva make their way to the bridge
Keliaya@anncaris | Their lift opens to the view of starstreaks on the screen
Rianni@crystyl exits the turbolift, "I see we are still in pursuit"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We've engaged cloak and we're following quietly for the moment. We might have them outgunned, but they have a hostage."
Rianni@crystyl:"Or a new recruit"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "It depends on the exact nature of this control they seem to have."
Keliaya@anncaris looks to Indrix, "Is the colonist's lifesign distinct from the rest of the pirate crew?"
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix shakes his head, "Perhaps on a biobed, but trailing them at this distance I can just about tell you that there is one extra person on board"
Keliaya@anncaris:"So beaming him off before they have a chance to harm him won't be an option, then."
Rianni@crystyl | Indrix shakes his head
Keliaya@anncaris:"We suspect the pirates might have more than one ship, or at least more than just the few people on board that ship, if they don't have any other vessels. There is the risk that they might do -
Keliaya@anncaris:- something to the hostage in the meantime, well, beyond what they've already done, but if we hit them now, we'll be raising that risk anyways. Our best option might be to continue tailing -
Keliaya@anncaris:- the pirates to wherever they might be operating out of."
Rianni@crystyl:"I am inclined to agree. I do not believe he is in immediate harm from them at least. Whatever their intentions are, they could have easily just killed him on the surface if they wanted to. But they-
Rianni@crystyl:- didn't, they made a point of indoctrinating him, or whatever it is they did"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "You mentioned something about retaliation against the colony to Eva too, didn't you?"