The Latenter finally begins to approach civilization as they enter the region which was formerly Federation space, but it is not quite the civilization that they were expecting...
T'Lana@anncaris | The Latenter continues its quiet journey through the starless region, heading ever closer coreward. As they travel, the crew have poured over the data collected from their time on the -
T'Lana@anncaris - Discovery, learning just about everything they can on this Darkness phenomenon. Having all but run out of information to analyze now, they are going over what they have multiple times just in -
T'Lana@anncaris - case they missed something or get any ideas on what can be done to stop the spread of this strange matter
T'Lana@anncaris | All the while, they are finding other ways to keep occupied. In Mischa's quarters, T'Lana has come over for dinner and the two are dining away at the table
T'Lana@anncaris:"...while we did not have the opportunity to test this theory, I suspect that Eshara's ability to control technology with her psionics could expand to the technology of our infiltrator foes. -
T'Lana@anncaris:- Some of their tech may be organic in nature, but as she has demonstrated during the first encounter, she is as capable of harnessing bio-tech as regular mechanical technology."
Mischa@crystyl:"That is certainly an interesting theory. It's a shame we can't test it out more"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Last I heard, she was training at the Chlasi Temple in the Heart. Perhaps with an even greater grip on her abilities, she will be a very useful asset. If our theory is correct, then she could be -
T'Lana@anncaris - capable of shutting down their suits or turning them against their wearers in a similar fashion to the Survivors' Mia which aided you in taking the Klingon vessel."
Mischa@crystyl:"So is this how you're keeping occupied now? Postulating new theories and recruitment strategies" she smirks a little
T'Lana@anncaris:"Something like that, yes. And you?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Well I have been burying myself more in ship operational details that I normally leave to you and the senior staff"
T'Lana@anncaris:"How has that been coming along?"
Mischa@crystyl chuckles, "It's probably better for everyone else who sees me taking more interest in their work"
T'Lana@anncaris:"That is a benefit, at least. But it has not been keeping you occupied as much as you would like?"
Mischa@crystyl:"If were that occupied I would not be resorting to it. Off duty is easier, but I do not want to get in the habit of spending duty hours on the holodeck"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "That would not be a good habit to create. Unlike these meals."
Mischa@crystyl smiles, "You like then?"
T'Lana@anncaris smiles back, "Of course. I hope you enjoy them as well?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I would not continue to share these meals with you were that not the case"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, finishing her meal. She moves over to recycle the dish in the replicator before turning back to Mischa, "It would also be customary to discuss matters of a more personal nature between -
T'Lana@anncaris - us, correct?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Getting to know one another is somewhat of a key purpose to spending time together, yes"
T'Lana@anncaris:"If you do not mind the personal inquiries, then..." she steps over, moving to the sofa
Mischa@crystyl smiles, taking her drink over to the sofa, "Just remember that it's a casual getting to know one another thing, not an interrogation"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I will keep that in mind. Speculating on our experiences in the Gamma Quadrant, I have also been reflecting on what happened with the Loki."
Mischa@crystyl:"It was your first command and not one that you stepped into willingly. But you did that ship and crew proud nonetheless. With all you went through there, it can't have been easy to face"
T'Lana@anncaris:"I understand that logically, there was nothing that could have been done to save the ship. Every attempt was made to evacuate the crew safely, and the majority managed to survive. However, as the -
T'Lana@anncaris:- officer in command, I still feel a degree of responsibility for those who did not escape, and the loss of the ship itself, which was a significant SFI asset."
Mischa@crystyl:"True, but it is always secondary to the people. And as you say, yyou did everything you could for them. Successfully too by all accounts"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Yes, but there were still a few who did not make it out. You had a similar experience with the Gainsborough. Although not the commanding officer, you were in command at the time of the attack, and -
T'Lana@anncaris:- I was wondering if you felt similar responsibility, despite knowing you have also done everything you were capable of."
Mischa@crystyl:"Of course. That was a horrific loss and it haunted me for a long time. Made worse by the months of isolation that followed on the hell planet where I had no idea if anything we did to help people -
Mischa@crystyl:- escape worked or not"
T'Lana@anncaris:"And after you were rescued and learned that much of the crew survived?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Well, then I learned of all those who did not make it still. Like I said, that day haunted me for a long time. That didn't stop when I got back from that planet, if anything that was when it -
Mischa@crystyl:- started. It never really stops, but that's where you just have to use the experience to make yourself a better commanding officer"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "That is what I suspected as well. I will ensure that I make the most of the experience."
Mischa@crystyl:"Do you find it troubles you much still?"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Not exceptionally so, as I understand that logically, there is nothing more I could have done. Sometimes, the thought still rises to my mind, though."
Mischa@crystyl:"That is not a bad thing really. Honestly, the thought of what happened to the Gainsborough rises in my mind every time we go to red alert"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Every time we go to red alert? I hope the recent quiet has been a relief for you, then."
Mischa@crystyl chuckles, "Don't get me wrong, it's not like that alert light triggers some PTSD or anything. But it keeps me sharp, that reminder of the worst case scenario, making sure I keep my head in the game-
Mischa@crystyl:- and do everything right in that new moment"
T'Lana@anncaris:"As a reminder to be prepared for anything when red alert occurs. I see the usefulness in that, yes."
Mischa@crystyl:"That's what I mean about accepting the experience and making it a part of yourself. If you let it eat you up from inside, you can end up second guessing every decision you make. But if you accept -
Mischa@crystyl:- it - own it - then you can start to use it like that to strengthen yourself"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Thank you for the advice, Mischa. I will be certain to keep that in mind."
Mischa@crystyl:"I think the important thing to remember is that it takes time. You can't expect results just because you decide what you want them to be"
T'Lana@anncaris:"How long did it take you to come to terms with everything that happened with the Gainsborough, if I may ask?"
Mischa@crystyl:"It's hard to say really. I don't think you can really put a timescale on it at all. Some days it feels like a lifetime ago, others it feels like the freshest thing in my mind"
T'Lana@anncaris:"I suppose it is more or less the same for me with the Loki, though it is more recent."
Mischa@crystyl:"If you ever find it weighing heavily on you, I am always here if talking might help"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "And I will be here if you ever wish to talk about anything concerning the Gainsborough as well."
T'Lana@anncaris 's combadge chirps in her pocket, as does Mischa's
Mischa@crystyl shares a glance with TL before retrieving it and tapping, "Go ahead"
T'Lana@anncaris <C - Victoria> "Captain, we're picking up a distress call from what seems to be a civilian ship."
Mischa@crystyl:"A distress call? We're on our way"
T'Lana@anncaris stands, "We are nearing Sector 001. Perhaps there is some activity in this region, as the stars here may have only gone out recently."
Mischa@crystyl:"A fair point" she stands, moving to change into her uniform
T'Lana@anncaris:"I will see you on the bridge then, Mischa."
T'Lana@anncaris heads out to change into her own uniform
T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa and T'Lana arrive on the bridge, where activity is suddenly much higher again
Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, what do we know?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "The distress call originates from an S.S. Cyclops Owl IV. It has some official-looking transponder information, but it's hard to say whether they are official and which faction they -
T'Lana@anncaris - belong to from how little we know. They claim they've been attacked by Klingon raiders."
Mischa@crystyl:"Ok. How far out are we, do we have sensor contact yet?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay: "Still ten minutes out at current speeds."
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "I've ordered us to cloak and travel at regular warp, just in case."
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "Long-range sensors are reading two contacts at the distress signal's origin. No further details available at this range."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Perfect. Let's get a proper picture of what's going on out there before we do anything"
T'Lana@anncaris | A few minutes of travelling at warp later...
T'Lana@anncaris:"We are getting a closer read on the vessels. Both appear to be of raider weight, both armed as well. The weapons of the larger vessel has been disabled, and the smaller one has a shape reminiscent -
T'Lana@anncaris:- of Klingon design. Both seem to have significant influence from Federation civilizations, which is no surprise given the raider we encountered on the Discovery."
Mischa@crystyl:"What about lifesigns?"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "There are Klingon lifesigns on both vessels. There is likely an ongoing boarding action. The larger vessel seems to have a collection of Federation member species."
T'Lana@anncaris:"It would seem some Klingons have regressed to their more aggressive ways since the Discovery's time."
Mischa@crystyl hrms, "Well it does seem a pretty stereotypical setup. But this is also not our mission. Thoughts?"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "While the aggressors do possess advanced technology, their ship does not appear to be as advanced as the Survivor vessels we faced back in our own universe. With our integrated forward -
T'Lana@anncaris - antiproton array, we should be capable of disabling the Klingon raider if we strike them from the front and give them no chance to outmaneuver us."
Mischa@crystyl:"So we can take them if we so choose"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "As long as we strike first. If we reveal ourselves without disabling or damaging their engines, there is a risk that they could outmaneuver us and present a threat."
T'Lana@anncaris:"Intervening could get us more information. We are close enough to our destination that we may not need what intel we can gather from civilians and pirates, however, being armed with this -
T'Lana@anncaris:- information could be useful should we approach Sector 001 to find something unexpected. The presence of Federation species does not necessarily mean the Federation still exists here as a -
T'Lana@anncaris:- political entity, especially with such a significant section of Federation space already lost to the Darkness."
Mischa@crystyl:"Very true, we are still rather lacking in the local information regard. Alright, prepare to engage. T'Fel, do you think you can disable that raider with an opening volley?"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "Affirmative, Captain."
Mischa@crystyl:"Perfect. Nethay, it's up to you to line up the perfect shot. T'Fel, decloak and fire when you're ready"
T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay nods, "No pressure. Getting us into position now..."
Mischa@crystyl:"T'Fel, you can always help him out a little with identifying key target points you want to aim for" she chuckles
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel taps her console, "Sending the data to helm now."
T'Lana@anncaris | The Latenter settles in behind a strange-looking bird of prey, though one which still has elements of Klingon design
T'Lana@anncaris FX | https://i.imgur.com/yBCwgz0.jpg
Mischa@crystyl:"Proceed when ready"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "Firing now."
T'Lana@anncaris | The Latenter decloaks and the integrated Survivor AP beam fires from the nose, striking the unsuspecting bird of prey from behind
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "Direct hit. Their engines are disabled."
Mischa@crystyl:"Nicely done, that should have their attention"
T'Lana@anncaris | The viewscreen lights up as red bolts fire from the bird of prey, and Nethay immediately banks into evasive
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "They are firing their aft turret at us. Shall I disable it as well?"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Latenter's regular phaser banks open fire on the raider's now vulnerable aft and the red bolts cease
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "Turret disabled. Their main weaponry are still active, but they will be unable to bring them to bear with the engines down."
Mischa@crystyl:"Perfect. Anything on comms?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "The raider is hailing us now."
Mischa@crystyl:"It's been a while since I've been shouted at by an angry Klingon. Takes me back to the good old days" she smiles, "On screen"
T'Lana@anncaris | A Klingon male appears on the viewscreen. He is wearing armour which is Klingon in style, but much scrappier in design. Some of the pieces are clearly makeshift and forged from pieces of junk. -
T'Lana@anncaris - A warrior's sash adorns his chest, but it is extremely worn
T'Lana@anncaris | Klingon: "An...actual Starfleet ship? If I am not mistaken, that reads USS."
Mischa@crystyl:"You are not mistaken. Now perhaps you could explain to me how such a distinguished warrior falls into such dishonorable ways of bullying civilian freighters like this"
T'Lana@anncaris | Klingon: "Bullying? These are no innocent merchants! They are scavengers, and more importantly, traitors!"
T'Lana@anncaris | Klingon: "They are Olympians. Fools seduced by the honourless Diteans. How do you not know this?"
Mischa@crystyl:"We've been out of the loop for a while"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Klingon narrows his eyes, "You've come through a temporal anomaly, haven't you? /That's/ why there's a Starfleet vessel here."
Mischa@crystyl:"That would explain things, wouldn't it. Now forgive me, but even if these Olympians are fools as you say, scavengers who follow the Diteans. The honourable thing to do would be to end them in -
Mischa@crystyl:- battle, yet you are boarding their craft which looks much more like you are the ones doing some scavenging"
T'Lana@anncaris | Klingon: "Of course we are. We are not foolish enough to destroy their ship and let precious resources go to waste. You are out of your time indeed, Starfleet. No doubt you come from an era -
T'Lana@anncaris - when the Federation still provides its utopia. These times are long gone, at least in this part of the galaxy."
Mischa@crystyl:"Along with Klingon honour? I find that hard to believe since despite your actions you still clearly hold on to some of that yourself" she notes the sash, "So tell me, you make all these accusations -
Mischa@crystyl:- against these people. But what have they /actually/ done to warrant your attack?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Klingon: "The people on that ship personally? Nothing. But yes, we aim to retain our culture, or as much of it as we can. That is why we target the Diteans and their weak-willed allies. The -
T'Lana@anncaris:- days of empire and glorious conquest we hear of in stories are behind us, unfortunately, and there is nothing we can do to change that. There are no warriors left in this galaxy. Only survivors, -
T'Lana@anncaris:- and the dead."
Mischa@crystyl:"So the people on that ship have done nothing to warrant this attack. An attack which seems solely focused on raiding them for resources at this point. Anything you'd like to add, or does that -
Mischa@crystyl:- pretty much sum things up?"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Klingon sighs, "Let me call our captain. She may better explain things. Unless you wish to hear the traitors' side of the story."
Mischa@crystyl:"I will be interested in hearing what they have to say, but I would also like to hear from your Captain"
T'Lana@anncaris | Klingon: "I will call her back, and she can fill you in on what you have missed. You may hail the scavengers as you wish, but I would advise you not to take their words at face value. They -
T'Lana@anncaris - have been brainwashed by their shapeshifting masters."
Mischa@crystyl:"Duly noted, but I would be remiss not to at least hear them out. We'll speak again soon"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Klingon nods and in Klingon fashion, rather abruptly cuts the comm
Mischa@crystyl:"Any thoughts before we speak to the freighter?"
T'Lana@anncaris:"The Klingons appear to have fallen quite significantly since our last encounter. Though our direct course for Sector 001 has not given us a chance to verify, the progress of the Darkness so far -
T'Lana@anncaris:- heavily suggests that the Qo'noS system is already gone. The Darkness is not the Borg, and would not be making straight for Sol as we are now."
Mischa@crystyl:"That would certainly fit the picture we're seeing now"
T'Lana@anncaris:"As for what happened to the Federation, we will have to learn more. But it certainly seems that Starfleet is no longer active here, despite this having been Federation territory since the early -
T'Lana@anncaris - days of its history. Not a promising sign."
Mischa@crystyl:"All the more reason we need some local perspective"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Should we hail the freighter?"
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Please. Let's hear the other side of this story"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria taps her console and a human man in a jumpsuit appears on the viewscreen
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "Starfleet? Here? Well, far be it for me to question why. Thanks for the assist."
Mischa@crystyl:"We couldn't just ignore the situation. However as you might imagine the Klingons are not best pleased right now so I would not consider the matter closed just yet"
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "They've just withdrawn from my ship. I assume probably because of the beating you gave theirs."
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes I am expecting their captain to make contact any time now. The one I spoke with spoke of you like I'd expect them to speak about the Borg, or Tribbles. Could you explain your situation?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "Tribbles? Well, we're certainly not tribbles, though I wish I had some on board to deter those Klingons. Our situation, well, we're scavengers. Not exactly uncommon these days, or -
T'Lana@anncaris - against any law. The Klingons do it too, but we're better with tech and they're better at picking fights, so they prefer piracy over taking apart old wrecks themselves."
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes they said about the scavenging which seems pretty much as you describe. However they also mentioned a more key factor of you being associated with Diteans, I believe it was...?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "Yeah, we are. You're not familiar with the Diteans?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Certainly not in this context, suffice to say we're a little out of the loop. Could you explain this association?
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "Wait a second. Did...you travel here from the 24th century? Starfleet always had a knack for running into time travel by accident, or so the stories say."
Mischa@crystyl:"Eh, 24th... 23rd... 27th... we get around"
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "That explains why you've never heard of the Diteans. They run this region now, the old Federation core."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see. And this is purely a form of regional governance? Because the Klingons gave the impression of something more"
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "The Diteans are as good and peaceful as Starfleet in its glory days. They stuck around to help us when Starfleet turned tail and abandoned its home turf. The Starfleet we last saw that -
T'Lana@anncaris - is, you people, you're more like the Starfleet from the tales of the golden age, judging by how you swooped in to our rescue and all."
Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, thank you for that. I still need to deal with these Klingons but I will contact you again - hopefully - with news that everything is settled"
T'Lana@anncaris | Human: "I hope so. We'll be waiting here, not like we're going anywhere without some repairs to the warp engines, anyways."
T'Lana@anncaris | The comm ends and Victoria announces, "I have the Klingon ship on comms again."
Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, let's see if we can bring all this to a conclusion now"
T'Lana@anncaris | The bridge of the Klingon bird-of-prey appears on the viewscreen again. This time, it is centred on a Klingon female wearing an armour suit. Unlike Captain B'Atar however, her suit is -
T'Lana@anncaris - reinforced by rough scraps of scavenged metal and piping, making it look far more makeshift and unwieldy. The female has all the features of a Klingon, including prominent head ridges, but a -
T'Lana@anncaris - tinge of green in her skin suggests possible Romulan or Orion genetics mixed in
T'Lana@anncaris | Klingon Captain: "I am K'Sere of House G'Tor, captain of the bird-of-prey Morang."
Mischa@crystyl:"Greetings Captain. I am Mischa of House Leveson-Scott, Captain of the Starfleet vessel Latenter"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "My first officer thought I would be better suited to explaining the situation to you. I was always more eloquent with words. I have my Orion grandmother to thank for that, no doubt."
Mischa@crystyl smiles, "I thought I saw a little touch of it in your skintone. I have spoken to the freighter now, and they have explained their perspective. I would appreciate hearing yours"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "Well, we are raiders. There's no point in denying that. But unlike some of the other, more unscrupulous Houses, we almost exclusively target the Diteans and their cultists. We don't -
T'Lana@anncaris - take from independent survivors or neutral colonies or anyone who can't afford to lose any resources. I suppose we're something like that old human legend of yours...what was it again? Robber -
T'Lana@anncaris - Hood? The outlaw who stole from the rich and gave the plunder to those who need it."
Mischa@crystyl chuckles, "It was Robin Hood, but yes I am well aware of the legend" she sighs, "I sympathize with your situation, truly. And I find I find your stance quite honorable. But I am yet to understand -
Mischa@crystyl - this view of the Diteans - and more specifically - these civilians being 'cultists' of theirs"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "The Diteans are a plague on this galaxy. Almost as bad as the Darkness itself. How do I explain it...you a Starfleet ship, of the Galactic Federation?"
Mischa@crystyl:"This is a Starfleet ship" she nods, choosing her words carefully
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "Are you aware of the view some Klingons used to have of the Federation? Back in the days before we joined, some Klingons believed you were an existential threat to our culture. That -
T'Lana@anncaris - you come with offers of peace and unity. And once we accepted that offer, you'd supplant our ways with your own, until one day, there'd be no difference between a Klingon or a human or a -
T'Lana@anncaris - Vulcan. Like the Horde or the Borg, but diplomatic."
Mischa@crystyl:"I am aware"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "Well, we were wrong about you. What we thought you were, that's exactly what the Diteans are."
Mischa@crystyl:"And forgive my asking, but if you were wrong once. Is it not possible that you are mistaken this time too?"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "Because I'm not the one who came to that conclusion. Starfleet was. I'm sure you've noticed by now that Starfleet's no longer active in this region. What did the scavengers tell you, -
T'Lana@anncaris - they ran away from the Darkness? It's a lie. Starfleet didn't leave because of the Darkness. They left because of the Diteans."
Mischa@crystyl:"And these civilians - like many - were left behind and had a choice of letting the Diteans protect them, or fending for themselves with no means to do so. You know, Robin Hood stole from the rich -
Mischa@crystyl:- and gave to the poor. But he never stole from the poor civilians ruled over by the rich"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "The Diteans aren't protecting them, they're exploiting them! The Diteans' own solar energy channeling ships can't operate in the Dark Zones, and they don't want to risk their own -
T'Lana@anncaris - precious people. So they send out the people they've seduced to do the hard work for them, all the while robbing them of any possibility of a future."
Mischa@crystyl:"So what is the alternative choice for people like these? Raiding and piracy? Because they hardly seem cut out for that"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "There's independent colonies who've managed. We'd even take them in, our House has nothing against non-Klingons, as you can see from my heritage. But they're too infatuated with the -
T'Lana@anncaris - Diteans. Staying with them isn't a way to survive. There is no future with the Diteans."
Mischa@crystyl:"That may be your opinion. I might even agree with it. But if these people believe differently, that is their business. They don't deserve to get caught up in this"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "They are your people. If a human ship wanted to give themselves to the Borg, you would allow them? Even though they are deluded and have no idea what fate they are willingly walking -
T'Lana@anncaris - into? Even if it means giving the enemy more warriors, more data they could use against you?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I have seen the results of that exact scenario play out. Not in history here, but in another reality. A Federation obsessed with cybernetics and when the Borg first came, many did go willingly. -
Mischa@crystyl:There was conflict and misunderstanding for some time, but in the end the two powers settled as neighbors with civilians choosing one lifestyle or the other"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "Huh. Interesting. Well, you certainly are time travellers, with the idealism of a much older Starfleet. One that hasn't been grizzled by the realities of this dark time. Very well, -
T'Lana@anncaris - the scavengers are free to go. As a gesture of good faith. We haven't taken anything from them yet, and they've got more than enough spare parts to fix the light taps we gave them."
Mischa@crystyl:"That is very gracious of. I appreciate you not making this difficult, since I imagine these people would be far less amenable to compromise"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "I have one condition."
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "While my crew repairs the damage you've done to the Morang, you'll allow me on board to introduce you to this century, and show you just why the Diteans are so dangerous. These -
T'Lana@anncaris - cultists may pose no threat, you can even argue they're victims in all this. But the Diteans themselves, that's another matter. I'll come unarmed, of course. I'm sure a Starfleet crew can -
T'Lana@anncaris - handle one weaponless warrior. For all your ways of peace, I know you're not half-bad in a fight when you're pushed."
Mischa@crystyl smiles, "And here I thought I was going to have to find an excuse to invite you over. Of course I accept your condition, and if you wish it I can even send some people to assist with your repairs"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "That would be appreciated. For a ship out of its time, you've certainly got teeth."
Mischa@crystyl:"And I always begrudge baring them. Stand by to receive our support teams, we can beam you over whenever you are ready"
T'Lana@anncaris | K'Sere: "We have a deal, then."
Mischa@crystyl nods and lets the comm end. Standing to go meet K'Sere, "Victoria, contact the freighter and advise the situation. Extend the same offer of support"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | In the Latenter's transporter room, K'Sere beams aboard, alone and out of her armoured suit. She is still wearing pieces of armour, mismatched like that of her first officer's
Mischa@crystyl stands beside the operator ready to welcome her, while Ori and a repair crew loiter to one side ready to beam over to her ship
Mischa@crystyl:"Welcome aboard Captain"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere steps off the transporter pad, "Thanks for agreeing to let me come over, Captain." She glances around, her eyes focusing on Ori, "Is that the famous Captain Tierno?"
Mischa@crystyl | Ori double takes
Mischa@crystyl glances over and chuckles, "One day maybe, but this one hasn't got that far yet. I'm surprised she is recognizable at a glance still"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "We study her battle tactics even today. She is known as one of the greatest non-Klingon warriors of the Federation, alongside names such as Shran, Kirk, Sisko and Diaz."
Mischa@crystyl:"Huh. Always figured she'd make her mark, but never to that extent. Though I have met the Captain Tierno you're thinking of and yeah, I can see it. This however is Ensign Ori, I suppose you could -
Mischa@crystyl:- call her a distant relation"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "A...descendant? Or ancestor? Can never tell when time travel's involved..."
Mischa@crystyl:"Something like that. Honestly, I try not to even think about all the temporal knots we've tied ourselves in by this point" she smiles, "But come, this is no place to talk"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Lead the way, Captain."
Mischa@crystyl turns, giving Ori a nod to proceed as she heads out. Ori and her team step on to the pad
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere follows along, "Funny that I come here to tell you all about the Diteans, and you've got some distant relation of Tierno on board."
Mischa@crystyl:"She's connected to them?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "She took down quite a few of their ships during her run as captain. There was never open war between the Federation and the Diteans, but Tierno's time, that's when the Federation -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - started seeing them as a threat, they started crossing some lines and things got tense."
Mischa@crystyl:"She was never one to back down from fighting to protect others" she smiles, "Next you'll be telling me she was commanding the Discovery and pulling off all sorts of impossible moves thanks to some -
Mischa@crystyl:secret technology on board!"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "I think she did take command of a ship by that name for a while. But she's best known for her command of the Valley Forge."
Mischa@crystyl:"Ah, so she didn't play with it for long then. I knew she'd at least try it out though" she grins knowingly
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "So that's when you met her? You do get around, don't you?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Who do you think gave her the Discovery?" she winks, stepping into a turbolift
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Huh."
Mischa@crystyl:"Well I must say Captain, I am pleasantly surprised to see you so trusting of us. That is not an easy thing to come by in the best of times, even less so now"
Mischa@crystyl says, noting the stripped down armour
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Starfleet's always done right by us. The fact that you couldn't save Qo'noS wasn't your shortcoming. It was the unique nature of our planet. Most of us who remained behind didn't do -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - so because we begrudge your failure. It's because we're too proud to leave our territory and run to the other side of the galaxy."
Mischa@crystyl:"I can appreciate that. But what was it exactly about Qo'noS that made it so unique in this context?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Are you aware that the homeworld had a network of underground volcanoes beneath the crust?"
Mischa@crystyl nods, "I am"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "The planet engine tech that Starfleet used to relocate some of the major homeworlds couldn't be used on Qo'noS. It would detonate the whole planet. They explored other methods, like -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - trying to make a giant gateway or wormhole, but there wasn't enough time or resources."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see, yes. That would certainly do it alright"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "They did everything they could, though. Evacuated the whole population. Some of us went with the Federation when you pulled out of this region. The others, we stayed behind."
Mischa@crystyl leads them into her office, "Can I offer you anything? It might not be as good as fresh but my replicators do a half-decent gagh"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Seeing as fresh gagh's more precious than benamite these days, it's probably pretty good by our standards."
Mischa@crystyl chuckles, "If we stocked it fresh I would gladly ship some over to your ship. But... crew tastes aside, it tends not to age so well on a long journey like ours" she sets a large Klingon bowl down -
Mischa@crystyl:- with some squirming replicated gagh, grabbing a handful before turning to a shelf behind her desk, "Some things however, do age well..."
Mischa@crystyl turns back with two tankards and a cask of bloodwine
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere grins, "Ah yes, that they do."
Mischa@crystyl takes a seat, eyeing the bottle briefly before opening it and pouring them out, "A present from Captain Vix. I seldom get the chance to enjoy it in the company of one who would appreciate it"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere sits down as well, taking a drink from her cup, "This is certainly better than most of the bloodwine we've got! The advantages of dealing with time travellers..."
Mischa@crystyl:"Perks of the trade" she smiles
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere smiles back, "Let me repay you with some information of our time. Not much else we can spare, unfortunately."
Mischa@crystyl:"Right now, that is the most valuable thing to me. So I welcome anything you can share"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere takes another drink and crosses her legs, leaning back rather casually in the chair and making herself at home, "You've never met the Diteans, and it's hard for you to grasp how this -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - species can be so dangerous when their chief weapon is diplomacy. I don't blame you. You're Starfleet, after all. You know the /effectiveness/ of diplomacy all too well, I'm sure you don't -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - need me to explain that. But it always leads to something good for you."
Mischa@crystyl:"True, but unlike most Starfleet officers diplomacy is not my weapon of choice. I understand the power and value behind the other side of that coin"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere nods, "And I presume like all Starfleet officers, you know the basics of biology. Evolution, reproduction, the necessity of all life to produce offspring and continue their species?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I'm pretty sure I have a grasp on the basics" she chuckles
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Tell me, are you familiar with the concept of empathic metamorphs?"
Mischa@crystyl:"You mean those who can alter themselves to suit the desires of another?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere smiles and nods, "I'm impressed. But then again, I suppose I should've expected as much from a Starfleet captain." She chuckles. "You see, all Diteans are empathic metamorphs and -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - shapeshifters. They are the perfect mates, able to change themselves both physically and psychologically."
Mischa@crystyl:"Psychologically as well? It seems more like they would be susceptible to being dominated by any species they met than the other way around then"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Only as far as it comes to interacting with their mates. It's not a permanent change, they still have plenty of individuality. Some Diteans /do/ lose themselves, it is true, but that -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - doesn't even matter. Because what makes them so sinister is that any offspring produced with a Ditean is always carried by a Ditean, and it is always Ditean. It doesn't matter if you're male, -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - female, mono-gendered, possessing reproductive organs of multiple sexes or any variation. The Ditean takes your genetics and incorporates any advantageous elements into Ditean children."
Mischa@crystyl:"Meanwhile, any species who begins to interbreed with them slowly dwindles with each generation..." she nods, "I can certainly see why you view them as you do"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "And any species who plays nice with them can't /help/ but interbreed with them. There'll always be some who continue breeding among their own species, but over time...the Diteans get -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - more and more of them. More open species like the Risians were practically extinct after two generations. Some last centuries and die a very slow death, suffocating under the seduction of the -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - Diteans. If Starfleet hadn't fled the region and taken everyone able and willing to go with them, that might very well have been the fate of your own species."
Mischa@crystyl:"Meanwhile the Darkness continues to consume the galaxy..." she shakes her head in disappointment, "Of all the times to avoid conflict and stand together, this should have been it"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Tell that to the Diteans. The Federation tried peace and diplomacy with them. You know what the Federation's like. But the Diteans only use such things as a weapon. Any attempt to -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - make them cease their seductions fell on deaf ears. There were only two options- all out war with the Diteans and the people they've already enthralled, or pulling away and letting them have -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - this region. War would've made things worse, so Starfleet left."
Mischa@crystyl:"I suppose they were already looking at evacuation as a contingency with the Darkness looming anyway"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Exactly. Some of my people might see leaving as a cowardly move, but there wasn't much other choice. The Diteans had gained too much of a footing through their diplomatic expansion -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - already. War would've been costly for both sides, and resulted in the extinction of more species. Leaving guaranteed the survival of most Federation species still left. If we had attacked the -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - Diteans when we first encountered them instead of playing nice with them...that would've been a different matter. But it's too late to change that now."
Mischa@crystyl:"Well that certainly does paint a clearer picture of things now. What about those who evacuated - Starfleet, the KDF, and whoever else went with them - do you still have contact at all?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Not regularly. They took the gateway with them so the Diteans wouldn't have easy access. They send ships to observe this region on occasion. We've had a few Federation Klingon ships -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - make contact with us House Klingons here, but we've never seen them inside the Dark Zones. Which is why we were so surprised to see you."
Mischa@crystyl:"Makes sense. So the only way to reach them is through the gateway they control then?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "Well, they control more than one gateway, but the ones that used to be around here have been moved well away from Ditean controlled territory. If you're actively looking for -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - Starfleet, you'll have better luck going through the Bajoran wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant."
Mischa@crystyl:"Good to know"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "The closest gateway without any wormhole shortcuts requires travelling towards the Beta-Delta border, but you'll have to pass by Fen Domar space and Hirogen hunting grounds. In other -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - words, where old warriors go to find a good death. Wouldn't recommend it if you're looking to stay alive."
Mischa@crystyl:"Staying alive is rather high on my to-do list"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "I thought as much. You humans aren't the sort to look for a glorious death in-"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Mischa's combadge chirps
Mischa@crystyl sets her drink down with an apologetic look before tapping, "Go ahead"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 <C - T'Lana> "Captain, there is another ship inbound."
Mischa@crystyl:"Do we have an ID?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 <C - T'Lana> "The transponder is reading as COS Arrow of Artemis."
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere stands, "Diteans."
Mischa@crystyl:"Thank you T'Lana. Stand by, I'll be with you momentarily"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere: "I must return to the Morang. Our engines are not yet online, but we can still cloak. If you can divert the Diteans somehow, we should be able to make our escape."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Get back to your ship and slip away. We'll deal with them under the premise that we rescued their freighter from raiders"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | K'Sere nods back, "Thank you, Captain." She promptly turns and departs the ready room
Mischa@crystyl heads out with her
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | The bridge is in a flurry of activity once again as every station is busy analyzing the changing situation. T'Lana stands from the command chair as Mischa emerges
Mischa@crystyl:"T'Lana, our guest will be departing momentarily. We are going to speak with this new arrival, but the Klingons won't be here for that. Victoria, call back the away team"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Victoria nods, "On it, Captain."
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | After a moment, Victoria announces, "The away team is transporting back. Our guest has returned to her ship as well."
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "The bird of prey is activating its cloaking device."
Mischa@crystyl:"Perfect. What is the status of our support teams on the freighter?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Still assisting with repairs. Shall I call them back as well?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Not yet, but make sure they're prepared in case this goes south"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Understood."
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Curious."
Mischa@crystyl:"What is it?"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "The Ditean vessel has entered range for a closer scan. It appears to be a Starfleet design, Captain. Specifically, one of the designs utilized by the Survivors."
Mischa@crystyl hrms, "I have my suspicions already based on what the Klingons told me. Be ready"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "Tactical systems are standing by. Should we go to yellow alert?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Not yet. This may still be a friendly interaction"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Soon, the vessel jumps out of warp, appearing on the viewscreen...
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/Cxe724K.jpg
Mischa@crystyl:"Ok, /now/ we can go to yellow alert"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | T'Fel nods, tapping her console. The bridge lighting quickly switches to yellow alert
Mischa@crystyl:"That should give them the impression that we do not already have scans of them from their approach and are just reacting to their arrival now per standard protocols, because we are just another Starfleet ship and nothing else".
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Victoria: "We are being hailed."
Mischa@crystyl nods to Victoria, "On screen"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | A female alien in a uniform that is distinct from the Survivor ones appears on the viewscreen, seated on the command chair of a Starfleet-looking bridge. The alien seems human in most regards, -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - but like the aliens from the very introduction of the season, have the quirk of looking too perfect, to the point of being almost uncanny. This is very much a supermodel who has gone through -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - multiple rounds of image editing, and not how a normal person would appear
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Alien: "This is the Arrow of Artemis, responding to a distress call from Olympian citizens. Explain your presence."
Mischa@crystyl responds in kind just like with the Klingons earlier, "This is the Latenter, also responding to said distress call. The raiders who attacked the Olympians have fled, we remained to assist in repairs
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | The alien nods, "The Cyclops Owl's distress call did say they were attacked by Klingon raiders, and you don't look Klingon to me. But you do seem to be a Starfleet ship, and a rather outdated -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - one at that. How have you come to be here?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I could say the same to you"
Mischa@crystyl | Ori: "If anything, the Arrow of Artemis looks more like a Starfleet ship than we do..."
Mischa@crystyl glances sideways, "Thank you for that..."
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | The alien smiles, "You are very much out of your time, aren't you? Starfleet no longer has a presence here, but our own ships do not fare well within the Dark Zones. So we make use of vessels -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - better suited for the purpose. Rest assured, this ship was not taken by force or stolen from your people. It was given to us."
Mischa@crystyl:"I am always out of my time, to the point where the term holds little to no meaning any more. However I am perfectly aware that the Federation relocated to the Gamma Quadrant with their planet -
Mischa@crystyl:- engines. I am also aware of the benevolent roles your people have taken in their stead across this region in caring for its citizens like those on the freighter"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Alien: "I take it the freighter crew has enlightened you on the circumstances of our century already, then?"
Mischa@crystyl:"They have indeed"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Alien: "And here I was hoping to invite you over and catch you up myself. May we ask what brings you to the Dark Zone? Or did you merely have the misfortune of arriving here, unaware of its -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - current state?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Oh no, we arrived exactly where and when we intended to be" she smiles
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Alien: "You intend to be here? You certainly don't seem like scavengers to me."
Mischa@crystyl:"Nope. I suppose... historians would be more accurate"
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | The alien tilts her head, "Historians typically record the past, not the future. Unless you do come from the future, but have chosen to commandeer an older vessel as to avoid advanced -
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 - technology being exposed to the earlier centuries you travel to."
Mischa@crystyl:"We get around a lot, and sometimes interaction is inevitable just like now. We did not come here simply to observe this period in time, but to better understand it and it's ramifications"
T'Lana@anncaris | Alien: "The ramifications of the Darkness, you mean?"
Mischa@crystyl:"That is certainly a key catalyst in driving events across the galaxy in this time period"
T'Lana@anncaris | The alien considers something for a moment, "You are from the current Gaia system, are you not?"
Mischa@crystyl:"For the sake of minimizing impact, I'm sure you can appreciate that I can neither confirm or deny that"
T'Lana@anncaris | Alien: "I am wondering if you chose this time on purpose. As you may or may not be aware, the homeworld of your people is under imminent threat of the Darkness."
Mischa@crystyl smiles, "That would be quite the coincidence for our timing here now wouldn't it"
T'Lana@anncaris | Alien: "Indeed it would. Are you aware that Gaia is currently under the governance of the Children of Olympus?"
Mischa@crystyl:"We know little about Gaia in this particular time"
T'Lana@anncaris | Alien: "Perhaps once the Cyclops Owl is underway, you would like to come with us to Gaia?"
Mischa@crystyl:"It would be interesting to see. I'll keep your invitation in mind while we reassess our current schedule following this unplanned diversion today"
T'Lana@anncaris | Alien: "Very well. We'll wait here and help keep watch while the freighter finishes its repairs. You can let us know then if you'd like to come with us, or go your own way. It is a dangerous -
T'Lana@anncaris - galaxy though, I should warn you. Your vessel might have driven off some Klingon raiders, but if you encounter the likes of Undine or Fen Domar, you may wish to have the support of more... -
T'Lana@anncaris - modern starships."
Mischa@crystyl:"Duly noted, thank you. We'll speak again shortly"
T'Lana@anncaris | The alien smiles, "See you soon, then." The comm ends
Mischa@crystyl stands, looking to T'Lana, "Gather the senior staff, it's time to get our thoughts together"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I will have them assemble in the meeting room."
Mischa@crystyl | In the conference room with everyone gathered...
Mischa@crystyl:"...and that is everything the Klingons got to telling me before they left. It is also why I trust these new arrivals about as much as the Survivors"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "I've found some interesting information in my research. I'm not sure exactly how they fit in yet, though."
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "These new arrivals seem to refer to Earth as 'Gaia,' which comes from the ancient Greek language, specifically, the name of a deity that was Earth personified. Artemis, which is in -
T'Lana@anncaris - the name of their vessel, is the name of a deity from the same culture, a pantheon which was believed to reside on Mount Olympus."
Mischa@crystyl:"And they refer to the civilians as Olympians as well. The thing is, my information suggests that Earth was relocated with one of these 'planet engine' things. So I suspect this Gaia is some other -
Mischa@crystyl:- world which the Diteans must believe to be safe from the Darkness"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "But why would these Diteans be using terms from an ancient Earth culture?"
T'Lana@anncaris:"I may have a theory on that matter."
Mischa@crystyl:"Let's hear it"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Our Federation uses the term Olympians to refer to the species which visited Earth long ago and influenced its culture, becoming passed down through the generations as these gods. Perhaps these -
T'Lana@anncaris:- Diteans encountered the same civilization and is using this point of commonality to their advantage in manipulating the people of Earth."
Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps, or maybe they simply got it from the minds of the Humans they touched and forced this portrayal of themselves. Regardless, it is what it is. And now we have a choice in front of us; -
Mischa@crystyl:- investigate Gaia and the Diteans, or make for the Bajoran wormhole and continue our search for the Survivors"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Our goal here is to find the Survivors. That's why we came to this universe."
T'Lana@anncaris:"That was our initial objective, yes. But since arriving and learning of the Darkness, gathering as much intel on this phenomenon has become just as important. From what we have heard so far, the -
T'Lana@anncaris - Darkness is moving in towards Sol. Investigating the Diteans could allow us to witness the Darkness in action and gather more firsthand data, as long as we are careful not to be manipulated by -
T'Lana@anncaris - them."
Mischa@crystyl:"Which begs the question; how can we protect ourselves?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "A good question. We don't know much about them and their manipulations."
Mischa@crystyl:"I must admit that I am curious, mostly since seeing that ship of theirs and it supporting a certain troubling theory that I really hope doesn't turn out to be accurate"
T'Lana@anncaris looks over, "And that is?"
Mischa@crystyl:"That the Survivors are not the real threat at all, and it is actually these Diteans posing as them"
T'Lana@anncaris:"That is a possibility. The Klingon captain claimed that they can alter themselves both psychologically and physically. Perhaps we should question our prisoner on the matter."
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, even if she has been blinded to their manipulations her insights may prove valuable. I just have a nasty feeling that there is not such a divide between them and the Survivors as it seems on -
Mischa@crystyl:- the surface. I believe it quite possible that there are Ditean elements within the Survivor camp in the Gamma Quadrant and they may simply be manipulating them just like the Horde would have"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee nods, "If she can present us with a better idea of what the Diteans are capable of and how to better protect ourselves from them, we may be able to investigate them here and then proceed -
T'Lana@anncaris - to seek out the Survivors."
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, I don't really want to go to Gaia without some confidence that we can protect ourselves from their manipulations. It already feels like strolling into the middle of enemy HQ" she chuckles
T'Lana@anncaris:"Indeed. The freighter will still require some additional time for repairs- plenty to pay the brig a visit."
Mischa@crystyl:"That's it then. I'll speak with Goto again and if we can determine a means of protection we will investigate Gaia. If not, we head to Bajor"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris | Mischa heads down to the brig to speak with Yuzuki once again, who is sitting in her cell as usual
Mischa@crystyl approaches, "And how are we doing today?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris smiles and stands, "Better now that you're here, as usual with these visits of yours."
Mischa@crystyl:"So, let's talk Diteans"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"Met them already, have you? Since the ship isn't crawling with them, I hope that means things are going well. Unless...you're one of them in disguise as Mischa. That would be bad."
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes it would. So what's your take on them?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"What do you mean, my take? What do I think of them, my personal opinions on them as a civilization?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, I have heard a couple of different perspectives on them so far. I am curious how you view them"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"Well, I've never encountered them personally. You haven't made first contact yet back in the universe we came from. But of course, all of us Survivors were taught about them. About how they -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- weaponize diplomacy. They operate much like the Federation in many ways, but with a malicious end goal."
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"Back home, your Starfleet calls the Terran universe the 'Mirror Universe,' because you see the Terrans as an inversion of yourselves. The Terrans are nothing but a bad joke. Dangerous in their own -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- way, but ultimately foolish and predictable. The Diteans are the true image of what it's like to take the Federation and twist it. A civilization that uses the same means we do, for a cause that -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- more so resembles the Borg."
Mischa@crystyl:"And how is it that you only know of them in this third party capacity, like one describing something from a history they've only ever read about?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"First contact with the Diteans usually occurs after the Horde is defeated, not before. At least, in all the universes we've investigated. As you might recall, I was born and raised in the same -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- universe as you, brought up on your Earth to join your Starfleet. All my work for the Survivors were done within your Starfleet. I never even visited this quantum reality until now, even though -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- our ships originally come from it. I never had the chance to encounter any Diteans for myself."
Mischa@crystyl:"I wasn't aware that you had never been here before, I suppose that makes more sense. So did they teach you anything practical about dealing with them, or just the history lesson?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris nods, "They're psionics, but their abilities are limited to empathy and basic telepathy. They can't control people the way the Horde do. They have technology to take down your implants, and our -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - Federation was in a bit of an arms race with them in that way. Them in finding new ways to get through the implant, us in finding ways to reinforce them. Kind of like the old arms races with -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - cloaking tech you had with the Klingons and Romulans. That's why our implants are so much more complex. You have the Diteans to thank for not being able to interrogate me telepathically."
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"But, an implant isn't necessary for dealing with them. Without an implant, all the advantage they get is being able to see your desires. And even with telepathic protection, the Diteans are still -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- very good manipulators using their natural intuition."
Mischa@crystyl:"So basically, a good strong will is all it takes, is what you're saying?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris nods, "That's what I'm saying. But the kind of will required to resist the Diteans is hard to find, even within Starfleet. Even within SFI. That's why so many Starfleet ships fell victim to them -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - here. They're /very/ good manipulators. Klingon fortitude trials, Vulcan discipline, Jem'Hadar loyalty, Drenn faith, all of these things help, but they're not a guarantee. There is one -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - measure that's proven the most reliable, according to our Starfleet's experiences. Unfortunately, it's something you can't engineer."
Mischa@crystyl:"And that is?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"It's...going to sound extremely cliche, now that I think about it. Promise me you won't laugh."
Mischa@crystyl:"As long as it is not silly"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris smiles, "Depends on what you think about true love."
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"It makes sense, if you think about it. There are many different ways to manipulate someone emotionally. You can do it through fear, by threatening someone. You can do it through trust, by taking -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- advantage of being in a position where people take to heart what you say. The Diteans aren't much better at those than anyone else. Significantly worse in the fear aspect than a lot of people, -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- actually. What they excel at is seduction. Offering you something that is almost impossible to resist."
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"But if you already have that thing that completes your life? Whether it's a person, a purpose, an objective, a career, whatever it is. Then the Diteans have no power over you."
Mischa@crystyl:"Fair enough. I suppose that does make sense"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"If you feel like you are lacking something in your life, then the Diteans will find some way to get to you. But if you love something already, more than anything else they can offer you, then -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- psionics or not, they won't be able to affect you. They have a lot of tricks up their sleeve, from empathy to shapeshifting to plain simple psychology, but what makes them different from the Borg -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- or the Horde is that they don't force you to do anything. Ironically, that's also what made them more dangerous for the Federation."
Mischa@crystyl:"I can well believe it. So what about Earth now, you let me believe previously that the reason for our timing here was to see it consumed by the Darkness, but they have already fled"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"Earth, yes. Sol, no. But the spread of the Darkness was only one of the things I wanted you to see. The Diteans were another."
Mischa@crystyl:"And tell me; with what you know of the Diteans, and the history of this reality as it is now, how can you be so certain that the Diteans and/or their followers remained within your Starfleet's camp-
Mischa@crystyl:- after the relocation?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"Some probably did. Their shapeshifting isn't as great as that of the Founders, but they still use it for infiltration. And their followers are just regular people who've fallen under their -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- influence and need no disguising."
Mischa@crystyl:"So how can you have confidence in the sanctity of Starfleet, knowing they may well be corrupted by the Diteans?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"I wouldn't have confidence in the Starfleet of this universe in this time period. That's one of the reasons the Survivors split off."
Mischa@crystyl:"I thought the Survivors /were/ the Starfleet of this universe?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"One of them."
Mischa@crystyl:"One of them?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"You think after all that's happened, Starfleet still survives intact? There's multiple organizations in this time that trace their history back to Starfleet. Four, to be precise, some of more -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- questionable legitimacy."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see. So what do we know about the other three?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"The Olympian Starfleet is the least authentic of the four. They fly many Starfleet ships, but it's basically a rebranding of the Ditean navy after taking over Federation territory. No one calls -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- them Starfleet anymore, but it's still officially in their name. There's the Protectorate Starfleet, or Gamma Starfleet. Those were the ships that brought our refugee planets to the Gamma -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- Quadrant and became Protectorates of the La'ani Commonwealth. They're probably the closest to Starfleet as it was before the Exodus. And then there's the Alliance Starfleet, also known as -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - Delta Starfleet. They most resemble early Starfleet in that it's heavily dominated by Earth species. Except in this case, Earth species refers to not only humans, but also the Voth."
Mischa@crystyl:"And then theres your lot..."
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris nods, "The Survivors is our preferred name to distinguish ourselves from the other splinter groups. We just call ourselves Starfleet, but when you deal with others called Starfleet, you kind of -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - need something else. Back in this universe we were also called Starfleet Rangers, as well as a variety of other less formal names."
Mischa@crystyl:"And this whole business of using other realities like lab rats, do all of the splinter factions of Starfleet align on this or is it solely the Survivors?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"You're not lab rats. All the other realities you've been encountering in your Heart- the Shenzhou, the Romulan dominated universe, you must've noticed that none of them has our presence there. -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - We've been to some of them, yes, but purely for observational research. We don't experiment on existing realities, Mischa. We /created/ you. We went back in time and made your reality, as well -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - as several others, by branching them off from this reality we're in now. And yes, I'm aware that just because we made you doesn't make it right to experiment on you. But what distinguishes us -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - from the Architect is that he did it for his own ends. What we're doing benefits you."
Mischa@crystyl:"The Architect may have acted selfishly in the end. But in his mind, he was being just as ambivalent as you when he set out with his goal to create a hopeful future for his people. I just wish you -
Mischa@crystyl:- could see it..."
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"We're creating a hopeful future for /you/. You've seen what things are like here. Without us travelling to the past and shaping your history, this would be your future."
Mischa@crystyl:"There is no hope in a future where civilization lives in paranoid fear of having themselves or loved ones mysteriously replaced by a stranger wearing their face. Regardless of the intentions that -
Mischa@crystyl:- your people set out with, that is the reality they have shaped and only make worse with their continued actions"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"We only replace people when we have to. The vast majority of the time, all we've been doing is adding more people. There's no me in this universe, unlike how you have an equivalent. Because my -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- ancestors didn't go back in time and intermingle with the people of the past here. I never replaced some innocent young cadet to sneak my way into field operative training. I was always me."
Mischa@crystyl:"That's the most sickening part of it. And what about the deplorable ways your allies are now resorting to - threatening my family, abducting cadets? As I said, the noble intentions have gone out of-
Mischa@crystyl:- the airlock with the Survivors now. They have been left unchecked for too long and have lost sight of their objectives. Maybe it was the right course of action to a point, but that point is in our-
Mischa@crystyl:- past now"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris sighs, "Maybe you have a point. Maybe some of us have gone too far. But not everything we're doing is wrong. You're right, some of it might be. Others, I still firmly stand by. That's one of the -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - reasons I wanted you to see the Diteans and the Darkness."
Mischa@crystyl:"And that's another thing with the Darkness. For all your peoples machinations and toying with other realities, the most that has been achieved is delaying the inevitable. All the more reason we -
Mischa@crystyl:- need everyone to stop working against each other and focus on stopping it once and for all"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris nods, "Everyone who is willing to work together. You don't want to work with the Diteans as much as you want to work with the Horde or the Architect."
Mischa@crystyl:"Probably not. But if they're occupying this region, they must have some plan to deal with the Darkness that's now on their doorstep"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"Not quite deal with. They've been retreating from it, the same way what's left of the Federation has. They just do it more gradually rather than going to the other side of the galaxy. Our -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- Starfleet is the only one of the splinter groups who never gave up, who kept trying to find ways to stop or at least delay the Darkness. That's why we're doing what we're doing."
Mischa@crystyl:"And what part of manipulating history in our reality exactly is it that gets you closer to stopping the Darkness?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"Not as much as we'd like. As you said, we've just managed to delay it, buy you more time. We've set back its entry into the galaxy by over a century, made it enter an already collapsing Dominion, -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- which is about to fracture and fail anyways, in a region which can weather that failure far better than the burgeoning Coalition of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. And right now, we're trying to -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- make sure you don't make the same mistakes we did when it comes to the Diteans."
Mischa@crystyl:"Which all just reinforces my stance that the ways which served the Survivors up until now are no longer valid, and need to be readdressed"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris nods, "I see where you're coming from, and agree with it to a point. It's just ironic that it comes from you."
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"I'm sure you've noticed by now how our work is quite heavily influenced by Starfleet Intelligence's method of operation. That's partly thanks to you."
Mischa@crystyl:"By which you mean the me of this reality who - at least at some point - was the Director?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris nods, "Our current strategy largely comes from a joint project you started between Starfleet Intelligence and DSEC, back when there was a unified Starfleet and Federation. Just like how you -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - have ventured into this reality to gather intel on our operations, your counterpart in this universe proposed exploring other realities to find ways of stopping the Darkness, but doing it -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris - discreetly. All exploration vessels venturing into other realities were given SFI attaches and operated...more like the Latenter than DSEC ships."
Mischa@crystyl:"I have been aware of the operational parallels for quite some time. But do you really think me - any version of me - so narrow minded as to only ever see one course of action and be completely -
Mischa@crystyl:- inflexible when it comes to adapting?"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:"We did adapt, both when your counterpart in this universe was still alive, and after. That's how we went from observing realities to creating them. But you're right, we've become...a little too -
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris:- set in our ways of late."
Mischa@crystyl:"I have yet to see if this is the position of the puppetmasters here and now, or just those acting in our time. But I will get to the bottom of this, and I will find a way to stop the Darkness too"
Goto Yuzuki@anncaris nods, "I hope you do, Mischa."
T'Lana@anncaris | After speaking with Yuzuki in the brig, Mischa meets with T'Lana in her ready room to discuss the new information
T'Lana@anncaris:"Interesting. So there would seem to be more than one version of Starfleet in this time, all spread across the galaxy."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "One of which is the Olympians that ship out there thinks we're a future version of"
T'Lana@anncaris:"That complicates the question of whether we should seek out Starfleet in the Gamma Quadrant, since that is only one incarnation of Starfleet, and one which appears to be distinct from the group -
T'Lana@anncaris:- the Survivors belong to. That said, there may still be advantages to investigating the Gamma Quadrant."
Mischa@crystyl:"Our ultimate goal is still to resolve the situation with the Survivors and stop their meddling. However we will have a much better chance of that if we can find a solution to the Darkness. That -
Mischa@crystyl:- requires more intelligence gathering from a wider range of sources"
T'Lana@anncaris:"I agree. That is why I believe investigating the Gamma Quadrant is still prudent. I suspect the Survivors have altered events to allow the Darkness to enter from that side of the galaxy for a -
T'Lana@anncaris:- reason. However, the Darkness is active in Federation space, or former Federation space as it may be, in this reality, and we have already come this far. It would be logical to investigate this -
T'Lana@anncaris:- source first before we move elsewhere."
Mischa@crystyl:"I am inclined to agree. But I have reservations about us having any exposure to these Diteans"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Perhaps we could decline their offer, but continue to investigate the region on our own. Our cloak has proven sufficient to conceal us from Survivor vessels which are not actively -
T'Lana@anncaris - scanning for cloaked ships, which suggest that it will likewise allow us to traverse Ditean territory without detection."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Of course on the flip side of that, they are supposedly a new threat now looming in our own time. So this could also be a prime opportunity to learn about them"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Indeed. Information on the Diteans themselves could be useful to us. However, gathering intel would be pointless if we fail to return to our own universe. Do you believe that continued contact -
T'Lana@anncaris:- with the Diteans really is as dangerous as people are claiming?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I believe that I would rather not find out the hard the way"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Then perhaps it would be best if we investigated the region on our own. We may yet learn more about the Diteans through contact with non-Diteans living under them such as those scavengers, or -
T'Lana@anncaris:- unaffiliated groups nearby such as the Klingons."
Mischa@crystyl:"It's agreed then. We will try to part ways amicably and leave the potential open that we would be welcome to visit Gaia at a later time should it suit us then"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "An excellent plan. Shall we contact the Diteans ourselves, or wait for the freighter to complete repairs and be contacted by them for an answer?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Let's allow the repairs to reach a natural conclusion&