The Venator's continuing search for the missing Guan Yu leads them to an encounter with an unusual civilization who dislike the Diteans, but it remains to be seen whether the enemy of their enemy proves to be a valuable ally or trouble...
Keliaya@anncaris and Rianni walk down the halls of the Venator
Keliaya@anncaris:"Rylliss' had the brig reorganize our prisoners to share cells. It seems like they prefer being crowded, these Diteans are very social beings, and they don't take solitude well."
Rianni@crystyl:"Are we sure it is wise to make accommodations for them like this?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"No, but having our prisoners go insane isn't going to help us, either. That's why we've worked out a bit of a rotation system. We have an odd number of prisoners, and squeezing three into a cell -
Keliaya@anncaris:- is way too crowded. So at every given time, one prisoner is by themselves while the others are paired up. Jatila believes long-term isolation will leave serious effects on their mental health, -
Keliaya@anncaris:- but short term? It just makes them more talkative and cooperative."
Rianni@crystyl hrms, "I still don't trust them, how do we know they're not just playing us with all this so they can plot"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I guess we can never be sure, but their telepathy, although limited compared to stronger telepaths like Betazoids, still goes well across the brig and our force fields can't block that. If they -
Keliaya@anncaris:- wanted to plot, I'm sure they could've found a way. From our observations so far, they're more interested in physical interactions. If you thought Orions were open..."
Rianni@crystyl:"Orions have some class and style at least. These guys are just... I don't know" she sighs, "Maybe I'm biased because they tried to kill me and Emma when we first met"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "No, I know what you mean. There's something unnatural about them. They might look prettier, but I get that same sense of...wrongness I get from looking at a Horde thrall. I think how -
Keliaya@anncaris - they look could be a part of it, actually. They just seem too perfect. Like if you asked the holodeck to generate a perfect specimen of a species, rather than a realistic person."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "Or like those perception filters you can apply in holodating channels!" *ahem" "not... that I know anything about those..."
Keliaya@anncaris smirks, "Don't worry, I won't ask." She steps into the brig, "Anyways, I brought you down here because they mentioned something interesting when I came down here to question one yesterday. And I -
Keliaya@anncaris - trust you to resist their charms more than I do Azevedo."
Rianni@crystyl hrms, "I think I trust a Ferengi to trust their charms more than Azavedo! And... it was when I was a cadet, I deleted the account when I met Emma I swear!" she scurries after Kelly
Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Emma won't hear about it from me." She taps the panel by one of the brig cells and the force field shimmers to allow visibility and communication. Inside, a Ditean sits in a -
Keliaya@anncaris - meditative stance
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas stands, striding over to the force field, "Hello Captain. You've brought me another visitor, I see."
Keliaya@anncaris:"This is Lieutenant Rianni Tierno, my first officer. She's a human, I trust you're more than familiar with the species by now."
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "Ah, yes. One of the adoptive children of Olympus, and among their most favoured. We were well-aware of her kind, even before you began this unprovoked war. I must say..." Adreas' -
Keliaya@anncaris - turns to Rianni. "You have embraced more of the teachings of Ar’Rhys than your historical documents claim."
Keliaya@anncaris glances to Rianni, "See what I mean?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "Or perhaps it is because we have been dealing with your Starfleet all this time. I would love to see how your arts have developed since the Goddess' time with you. Art, I find, -
Keliaya@anncaris - reflects the true nature of the soul more than anything else. It will tell me whether you are truly as enlightened as you claim yourselves to be, or if your savage natures still control you -
Keliaya@anncaris - more than you like to admit."
Rianni@crystyl:"So... you want to view our art?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We're not exactly an art gallery, but I'm sure we can pull something up in the holodeck. But in exchange, we'd like to know more about these gods of yours."
Rianni@crystyl:"The Olympians you mentioned. That one name you mentioned you mentioned - Ar'Rhys - sounds familiar"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "Don't tell me you have forgotten them already. Or perhaps our terms are different from your modern translations of them. Ar'Rhys, Zephse, Thena, Ha'ade, Apollon, P'Seidonas. Any of -
Keliaya@anncaris - those sound familiar?"
Rianni@crystyl:"The ancient deities, of course. But we already know they were not deities, but an advanced alien civilization who thrived on the worship of others. All but extinct now, we have had dealings with -
Rianni@crystyl:- them. Or their remnants at least"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "That depends on how you define deity. For the record, we have only one- the Goddess, Dite. The others we venerate as the Goddess-Kin, the Old Teachers."
Rianni@crystyl:"Interesting. So is this Dite another of their kind?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "Yes. To you, she would have been the Goddess of love, fertility, beauty and art, or something along those lines. One of the greatest of the Olympians, but though she was the soul of -
Keliaya@anncaris - their civilization, she was not quite at their heart. That was taken by their leader, High King Zephse. She created us long after the days of Zephse, and though we venerate the Old Father, -
Keliaya@anncaris - Dite is our one and only Goddess."
Rianni@crystyl hrms, "Could be Athena maybe?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "No, I believe you speak of Thena, the War-Maiden, She Who Strikes With Strategy. Dite was never known for her might in combat, and so we are not a warlike people. Those of us who must -
Keliaya@anncaris - fight, to protect our civilization from the likes of you, frequently follow Thena. Especially our Asteriarchs and Navarchs."
Rianni@crystyl:"Oh! Aphrodite then!" she chuckles, "Sorry, always get those names mixed up"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "That does sound closer to our name for the Goddess."
Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "I thought you'd be able to narrow it down, Lieutenant."
Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "I'm just glad it wasn't Aries. He probably still holds a grudge after our last encounter"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas gives her a skeptical look, "/You/ have encountered Ar'Rhys? The Goddess-Kin were long gone from this universe before either of us were born."
Rianni@crystyl:"Not quite, well sort of... the essence of Hades still exists as a silverblood clone who guards many of their peoples relics - not Poseidon's trident though, we look after that one - and Aries, or -
Rianni@crystyl:- Ar'Rhys is you prefer - actually fell to an incomprehensible Horde army eons ago and ultimately became one of them. But I took him down when he threatened this galaxy, so... yeah that's one less"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "You took down one of the Goddess-Kin? I find that difficult to believe, but your information does line up. The last anyone saw of Ar'Rhys was when he led the Guardians against the -
Keliaya@anncaris - Horde. All had presumed that he fell in battle, but to be corrupted...that would be a difficult feat, but if any foe is capable of such a thing, it would be the Horde."
Keliaya@anncaris:"You knew of the Horde?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "Of course."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "And it took one of their largest unified forces to do it. It took them a long time, but in the end they got him. What I defeated was but a pale shadow of his former self, there's no denying -
Rianni@crystyl - that"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "That makes more sense, yes. The Horde may have gained control of his physical shell, which would still make a formidable thrall, but it would be a far reach from the War-Master of old."
Keliaya@anncaris:"You seem to know quite a bit about the Horde. Your people encountered them personally, didn't they?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "Yes, on several occasions. If you are wondering why we did not stand with the Guardians- as I have said, we are not a warlike people. We fight only when we must to survive, and -
Keliaya@anncaris - fighting is not our strength. We recognized that flight was a far more sustainable strategy against the Horde, though we have had skirmishes here and there. Usually when they surprised us, or -
Keliaya@anncaris - to buy time for that flight."
Rianni@crystyl:"So you just kept running from them all this time?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "We are not Children of the Architect. We are Children of Dite, and thus lack the genetic vulnerability utilized by the Horde to so easily dominate minds. We were never a true target -
Keliaya@anncaris - for them, as they cannot control us, only destroy us. As long as we left when they expanded into a region, they did not care to pursue."
Rianni@crystyl:"That does make sense I suppose... wait, you're saying you're actually descended from Aph-... from Dite, not just that your ancestors worshipped her?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "Not descended from. Created. I suppose it is likely she used some of her own genetics in doing so, but still. That is why we regard her as a Goddess, not an ancestor."
Rianni@crystyl:"I suppose that does explain a lot"
Keliaya@anncaris:"So you were created, as in, genetically engineered by Dite?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "That would be an apt description. In the end of her days, she came to see how flawed and imperfect everything was. So she designed us. We are her legacy, her final gift to the -
Keliaya@anncaris - universe. We are the Diteans, the Children of Dite, and it is our sacred purpose to bring love, beauty, harmony and perfection across this galaxy and beyond."
Rianni@crystyl bites her tongue
Keliaya@anncaris begins to speak when her combadge sounds and she taps it, "Kelly here."
Keliaya@anncaris <C - Indrix> "Commander, we're coming up on a system which could be a potential match for the colony we're searching for. Yellow star, Class M world."
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We're on our way."
Keliaya@anncaris steps forward to the panel, "Thank you for telling us more about your people. Adreas. We appreciate you being willing to share, despite circumstances."
Keliaya@anncaris | Adreas: "I appreciate having someone to speak with."
Keliaya@anncaris taps the brig panel, disabling audio and video before turning to head out with Rianni
Rianni@crystyl follows her outside, "Definitely an interesting one"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Is it just me, or does all that perfection talk make them sound eerily like the Borg?"
Rianni@crystyl:"It is not just you. These are a dangerous enemy, not because of power or resources or anything like that. But because they believe wholeheartedly in their own doctrine"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And for a people who claims they don't like to fight, they sure put up a good one before we captured them. I suppose they have been fighting and fleeing from the Horde for who knows how long now. -
Keliaya@anncaris:- That, and other dangers might have prompted them to develop quite a bit of military technology. Either that, or they're more aggressive than they let on."
Rianni@crystyl:"Well considering my first encounter with the species was fighting for my life against a pair of their assassin replacements... I'm inclined to agree"
Keliaya@anncaris steps into the turbolift, "Bridge." She turns to Rianni as the lift begins to ascend, "I hope you wouldn't mind spending a little more time with them. I can trust that you won't be affected by -
Keliaya@anncaris - their charms, and they seem more open to talk about these gods, or Goddess-Kin of theirs with cultures who are familiar with them. Like yours."
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Don't worry, my pessimism just helps me maintain an objective view. I'm aware that - according to what they say - all of this is still in reaction to whoever they think we are. I can do it!"
Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "I have faith in you, Rianni."
Rianni@crystyl:"But first things first, we've got a system to investigate"
Keliaya@anncaris steps out onto the bridge, "What do we have?"
Rianni@crystyl steps over to catch up at tactical
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Just closing in for a better scan of the system now."
Keliaya@anncaris moves over to take a seat in the command chair
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss looks over at Rianni, "How'd the questioning go?"
Rianni@crystyl gives a little confused frown, "For some reason she didn't believe me when I told her I beat up the God of War..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "To be honest, if there weren't official Starfleet reports, I'd be a little skeptical, too."
Rianni@crystyl pouts, "Yeah... I get that a lot for some reason..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Picking up an energy signature in orbit of the Class M. Looks more like a ship than a station or satellite."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Does it seem Ditean?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix shakes his head, "The energy reading is nothing like the solar plasma we saw on their ships. We'll have to get closer for a material composition analysis."
Keliaya@anncaris looks to Rianni, "Cloak us before we move in."
Rianni@crystyl:"On it" she taps, cloaking the ship
Keliaya@anncaris:"Azevedo, take us closer."
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "Aye Commander."
Keliaya@anncaris | As the Venator moves closer into the system, the lift doors open and Eva steps out to join them on the bridge too
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Performing a more detailed analysis now...definitely a ship, material composition does not match what we've seen of the Diteans so far. Only one lifesign aboard."
Rianni@crystyl looks confused, double checking her readings, "Wait, you said only one lifesign? That can't be right..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "My sensors are only seeing one."
Rianni@crystyl:"Are your sensors also seeing the dreadnaught sized carrier swarming with support craft?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix nods, "I am. But there is only a single lifesign. I am even checking the planet surface, and I have not detected any additional lifesigns matching that one. Only local wildlife."
Rianni@crystyl:"Captain this is highly irregular. The ship in orbit that we're reading here is a dreadnought class on spec. It appears to be on a defensive patrol of the region, looking at the deployment of it's -
Rianni@crystyl:- support craft. It is armed as you might expect for it's class too. But... I can't explain the single lifeform reading"
Keliaya@anncaris:"I'd say it might be a Nuhar Construct with a passenger, but that definitely does not look Nuhar. It could be something similar, though. I certainly can't see a single person operating -
Keliaya@anncaris:- a ship like that, even in an emergency situation. There's just not enough hands to go around."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "The most likely is some sort of AI setup"
Keliaya@anncaris considers, "I don't suppose we can tell for sure from the way their systems are configured?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula shakes her head, "No, their systems are different enough from anything I've seen to confirm that at range."
Keliaya@anncaris:"I suppose there's only one thing to do, then..."
Keliaya@anncaris looks over to Rianni, "Lieutenant, drop cloak. Helm, take us into maximum comms range."
Rianni@crystyl taps, "Dropping cloak"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "Taking us into comms range."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Keep an eye on that ship and its support craft. Be ready to raise shields if need be."
Rianni@crystyl monitors, "Um... that might be easier said than done Captain. As soon as we decloaked, they cloaked..."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Maybe they're not supposed to be here or something. Like those Drenn."
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "Or they're trying to ambush us."
Keliaya@anncaris:"We already know they're here. It wouldn't be much of an ambush."
Rianni@crystyl hrms, "Maybe, but if this is an ambush, it's not a very good one. Look-"
Rianni@crystyl taps and displays the viewscreen where the cloaked alien ship is cruising through the atmosphere still, exactly where it was. And still is, evidenced by the vapor trails
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Well it's not illegal salvaging either. This isn't a former Horde world; there's nothing to salvage here."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "I'm opening a general communications channel."
Keliaya@anncaris straightens her uniform and sits forward, "This is Commander Keliaya of the Federation starship Venator. Whatever your purposes here, we're not coming to disrupt them. We're just looking to talk -
Keliaya@anncaris - and learn about you and this surrounding region."
Rianni@crystyl | No response from the alien ship
Keliaya@anncaris adds after the silence, "We are friends with the Nuhar Constructs and respect all life, artificial or biological. There is no need to fear us."
Rianni@crystyl | Still no response
Keliaya@anncaris:"They do have a functional comm array, right?"
Rianni@crystyl | Nqakula: "They definitely do. Either it's a complete language barrier, or they're ignoring us"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "I'm sending them some language data. With the technology they have, they should at least have basic translator matrices capable of deciphering our message from these packets."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva taps away on her console, sending the data packets intended to help translators recognize their language
Rianni@crystyl | After sending the data, Eva receives a text response, "Whatever you're selling, I don't want it. Good day"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "Well..." She displays the text message on the viewscreen
Keliaya@anncaris:"I suppose at least it isn't another Tamarian situation. They /can/ communicate, they just don't want to..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "Actually I'm not sure which is worse. The Tamarians wanted to communicate and went out of their way to do so during first contact, and that's why it all worked out in the end."
Rianni@crystyl nods, "The beast at Tanagra"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss does indeed clip Rianni around the head, "Don't jinx us Lieutenant. I really hope this proves a little easier."
Rianni@crystyl yelps, "Ow! I deserved that... but the analogy stands, it is a problem to be overcome, just not the same one"
Keliaya@anncaris considers for a moment before Eva reopens the comm and she speaks again, "We're...not trying to sell anything. We're trying to acquire information, actually. We would be willing to offer -
Keliaya@anncaris - something in return, if you have information that's of interest to us."
Rianni@crystyl | Another text response appears on the screen, "What information?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well, we would like to learn more about you and this region in general, but specifically, we're here searching for information on the Diteans."
Rianni@crystyl:"Um... they appear to have broken orbit"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Are they headed towards us, or away from us?"
Rianni@crystyl:"I can't track them through the clo-" the alien dreadnaught decloaks off the bow of the Venator, "-...nevermind. I have them"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "And now they're hailing us. Putting them through."
Rianni@crystyl | A lone humanoid alien appears on the viewscreen. He is in a darkened bridge so it is not easy to make out anything around him, "What is your business with the Diteans?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We..." she takes a second to consider how to word it, not knowing whether the alien likes or dislikes the Diteans, "We're in search of some friends who have disappeared after making contact with -
Keliaya@anncaris:- some Diteans."
Rianni@crystyl | The alien sighs, "Friends?" he sighs, "Socialites, great. This is going to be over any time soon is it... So, those slimy two-faced whores got their hands on these 'friends' of yours. Best leave -
Rianni@crystyl:- them to their ill-conceived fate and pretend they never existed"
Rianni@crystyl:"I'm going to go out on a limb and guess these people don't like the Diteans..."
Keliaya@anncaris nods to Rianni, "I think that's a safe assumption..."
Keliaya@anncaris looks back to the screen, "Our friends were attacked and captured by force by the Diteans. While some of them have fallen under their influence, we believe they are keeping others prisoner -
Keliaya@anncaris - against their will. We have freed some of our people in a confrontation with the Diteans already and are searching for the rest."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "So you're wasting your time, well it's yours to waste. Mine however, is not"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We're not here to waste your time. As I said, we can provide you with something in return, if you have information on the Diteans. And from the sound of things, you're at least somewhat familiar -
Keliaya@anncaris:- with them."
Rianni@crystyl | The alien sighs again, "Well if you wanted to trade, it would have been far simpler to just send over the details of what you're offering against what information you seek..."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Without all the bargaining and negotiation involved? I suppose it's more efficient, but you might not get the best deal from that. Anyways, to the point- we've learned that our people are being -
Keliaya@anncaris:- held at a Ditean colony in a system with characteristics similar to this one, a yellow star and a Class M world. We were hoping you might know of any Ditean colonies which match that description, -
Keliaya@anncaris:- but we'd be interested in any information you can provide on the Diteans in general which can help us in our search."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "And what is the aforementioned trade that you offer for this service?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We have a store of dilithium for trade, along with other materials and equipment if you are interested in any of that. We can also offer information in exchange, if there is anything we know you -
Keliaya@anncaris:- might be interested in. We're explorers and might have starcharts to regions you're not familiar with, not to mention our experience with other groups in the region."
Rianni@crystyl | The alien considers, "Information on other species is always useful. Especially those with a habit of sneaking up and starting conversations..." he says with narrowed eyes
Keliaya@anncaris:"Sorry about that. The sneaking up isn't usual for us, we're on a special mission and making use of equipment that isn't standard on most of our ships. As far as we know, we could be behind enemy -
Keliaya@anncaris:- lines right now, so we have to be careful. Conversations, on the other hand...yes, that we have a habit of starting. I take it you aren't too fond of verbal communication?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "We have nothing against it. The needless social interaction that accompanies it however is quite distasteful"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I'll remember to get to the point, then. I hope it wouldn't be too much trouble to exchange this information through dialogue, so we may ask for clarifications rather than simply -
Keliaya@anncaris - exchanging data packets? We'll try to keep the...needless social interaction to a minimum."
Rianni@crystyl | The alien sighs, "Very well, we are here now"
Rianni@crystyl | The alien checks his records, "We have files on several Ditean worlds that are in yellow star systems. I do not know if any of these are the one you seek though"
Keliaya@anncaris:"It's better than what we have now. We'd appreciate their locations so we can mark them down for further investigation."
Rianni@crystyl | A moment later Eva receives the details in a data packet
Keliaya@anncaris:"Thank you. Is there anything you want from us, or want to know about us and what we know?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "We would like to know what regions you and others occupy. That should be an equitable trade for this grade of information"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We'll give you a starchart of this part of the galaxy showing all the borders of civilizations we are aware of, as well as worlds currently planned for resettlement efforts by the -
Keliaya@anncaris - Coalition. May we ask a few additional questions? We will provide more in exchange."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva meanwhile begins compiling the relevant maps and sends them to the alien ship
Rianni@crystyl | The alien nods, "This Coalition sounds troublesome. What is this resettlement?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Are you aware that the Horde has been destroyed? I presume you're aware of the existence of the Horde, or at least rumours of that force."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "A name sometimes associated with the army of the dead. Yes, we are aware that they ceased to exist"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well, we brought together the Coalition to destroy it. Now that we've succeeded, we're slowly working to reclaim the planets that were taken and ruined by the Horde."
Rianni@crystyl | The alien hrms, "So there will be more of you in this region?" he notes, studying the sent maps, "Troublesome, but good to know"
Keliaya@anncaris:"If you don't like to be troubled by us, I can let the Coalition know and we'll avoid contact where possible. Are there more of you, or is your ship unique?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Our homeworld is not within your resettlement area. We can avoid unnecessary contact"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Our Coalition has a very diverse collection of ships, but we've gotten in the practice of running specific Coalition transponders in addition to the ones tied to the smaller factions -
Keliaya@anncaris - that make up the Coalition. We can give you the means to identify our ships, if you wish to avoid contact. Just know that the Coalition won't attack without provocation. You may avoid us if -
Keliaya@anncaris - you wish, or contact us for trade, but we are not conquerors and have no hostile intent."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "So you say. Still, this information will be useful. What do you require in exchange?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We'd like to know a little more about you. Your ship, for instance. You're the only lifeform we detect on board, but there's no way you can crew all that by yourself. Is your ship an AI, or using -
Keliaya@anncaris:- advanced AI systems?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Why do you need to know about how our ships work...?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Don't worry, we don't have any nefarious intentions. We're just curious. We're explorers out to learn more about the civilizations around us, and we've made contact with many different forms of -
Keliaya@anncaris:- synthetic life, including the Nuhar which your people may also be familiar with considering the region you're in. We were wondering if your ship was similar, because it's rather...unusual to see -
Keliaya@anncaris:- such a large and complex ship crewed by a single individual. We're not asking for any details that could be tactically exploited or anything."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Very well. Yes, we know of the Nuhar. However our ships are not like them. They simply have highly advanced and autonomous computers which I interact with through a neural interface"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "A neural interface. That would explain it. Is that standard for your people, or is your ship unique?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "It is standard for most vessels",
Keliaya@anncaris:"And they all each have a single crewmember like yours?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Of course"
Keliaya@anncaris:"That's...quite an unusual setup. You must have quite a number of ships, or not many people. Do you ever take passengers?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "And in my eyes, a whole fleet of operators in one room is unnatural" he notes looking around the Venator bridge on his screen, "Passengers are transported when necessary, why?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well, it's a big ship for just one person."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "If you say so. Our ships are designed for their specific purpose, not the number of extraneous personnel placed in them. To us, a ship like mine is no different to a small frigate or even-
Rianni@crystyl:- an interceptor. Though neither of those would have the capacity for passenger stasis pods"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Stasis pods?" She glances back to Nqakula. "They have warp drives, don't they?"
Rianni@crystyl | Nqakula nods, "That they do"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Why do you need stasis pods if you can go faster than light? Do you usually travel very far?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Sometimes. But more importantly it gives everyone the freedom to travel without having to deal with any awkward social interactions while stuck in close quarters on a ship"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Right. You don't like those. Well, last question then- what is the purpose of your particular ship? It looks quite formidable, but you know what they say about judging something by its appearance."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Nothing deceptive about it, this ship is formidable. I am out here patrolling the region for Ditean activity"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Well, thank you for bearing with this social interaction. We're going to provide you with a comm frequency where you can contact us. If you run into trouble with the Diteans, feel free to -
Keliaya@anncaris - give us a call. We have a vested interest in them too, after all."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Duly noted"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Until then, we'll leave you to your patrol."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva ends the comm after sending the comm frequency
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well, he was an interesting one. It's no wonder he's not fond of Diteans, with his aversion to social interaction..."
Rianni@crystyl | The alien ship turns away on the viewscreen and recloaks
Rianni@crystyl:"Everyone we meet doesn't like them, yet... everyone likes them..."
Keliaya@anncaris:"It's certainly strange. I'm guessing the ones we've met are those who've been able to resist them. The ones that don't, well they end up stuck with the Diteans."
Keliaya@anncaris | A few hours later, the Venator cruises towards the closest of the Class M worlds with Rianni watching over the bridge
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "So how do you think these aliens function, with so much disdain for social contact and all. They must have some structure, some system of governance."
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "Maybe they really are just totally independent. Full anarchy system, every person is their own nation kind of thing. Not everyone's as social as you Denobulans."
Rianni@crystyl:"I don't know, that ship looked far too organized to be so independent and he did say there were others"
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "Exactly. A ship like that, even with advanced AI they still need facilities for repairs and maintenance. Just look at the Nuhar and how badly they needed the Foundries."
Rianni@crystyl:"I bet they just avoid direct interaction as much as possible. He did seem more put out by the actual conversation rather than the premise of interacting with us so it doesn't seem like a typical -
Rianni@crystyl:- xenophobic thing or anything"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix nods, "He mentioned stasis pods for passengers to avoid interaction, and he didn't specify it was just for passengers of other species, so presumably that goes for his own people as -
Keliaya@anncaris - well. That just raises a whole other set of questions, however. If they don't even like to interact among themselves, how do they mate and repopulate...?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Probably the same way anyone else does. I mean, if they were absolutely 100% never willing to interact, then he wouldn't even have had the capacity for the communication link. My bet is that they -
Rianni@crystyl:- tolerate, or even suffer, direct interaction when necessary. I imagine it's like pon farr but with the cold logic Vulcans normally operate with!" she giggles
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix chuckles, "Excellent comparison. I was just beginning to speculate on the possibility that they might have something like the Vulcans in that regard. Still, it must be an interesting -
Keliaya@anncaris - society. Certainly unusual by Denobulan standards, even by your human standards. You may not be as social as we are, but you're still a relatively social species, in the grand scheme of things."
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "More social than Vulcans, at least."
Rianni@crystyl:"But even they aren't exactly antisocial"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Yes. This species is quite irregular in that regard."
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "I wonder what made them like that, or if it's just a natural trait."
Rianni@crystyl:"It's probably not something that changed after they started exploring space and interacting with other species or anything, so my guess would be a natural instinct. If it was the result of facing -
Rianni@crystyl:- other species they'd just be xenophobic like the Junayd"
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "True. I wish we could learn more about them, but that's probably difficult given their nature..."
Rianni@crystyl:"One day maybe we'll find a way"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "I do hope so." He looks down and begins tapping his console, "Signature on sensors. It's just entered range and moving at warp 7."
Rianni@crystyl:"The antisocial guy again?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "I don't believe so. The signature doesn't match what we saw earlier."
Rianni@crystyl:"Alright, let's cloak and take a closer look. Inform the Captain"
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "On it."
Keliaya@anncaris | As the Venator cloaks and Kelly is informed, Indrix speaks up again
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Lieutenant. I believe it's Drenn."
Rianni@crystyl:"Drenn? Out here?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "The energy signature matches. I don't know what they're doing out here, but we did find that one cruiser salvaging a former Horde world and capturing Riders from their colony. Perhaps -
Keliaya@anncaris - this one is on a similar mission out here."
Rianni@crystyl:"What else do we know about this system?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Nothing of interest that I can see. Red dwarf star, no habitable planets. Nothing of interest at all."
Rianni@crystyl:"Maybe they're searching blindly then"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Unless there's a mining outpost somewhere I haven't picked up yet or something..."
Keliaya@anncaris | The lift door opens and Kelly steps out with Eva, "What's this ship we've picked up?"
Rianni@crystyl stands, "Looks like the Drenn. Single ship, surveying the system"
Keliaya@anncaris:"The Drenn? What're they doing here?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Uncertain, we were just speculating and observing"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, moving over to her chair, "I assume we've cloaked?"
Rianni@crystyl nods, "We have"
Keliaya@anncaris takes a seat, "Are we heading towards them or just holding position and observing?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Still holding position at the system's edge"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "The Drenn are starting to move out of the system now, Commander."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Could they know we're here?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "I don't think so. They weren't in orbit before, just moving through the system. Probably realized there wasn't much of interest and decided to move on."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Course and heading?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "113-mark-27. That's going to take them towards the system with the antisocial guy..."
Keliaya@anncaris looks at Rianni, "I have a bad feeling about this meeting. Maybe they'll just ignore each other, but from what we've seen, the Drenn are militaristic and aggressive. Who knows what will happen..."
Rianni@crystyl:"I am inclined to agree. From what we saw, the antisocial guy won't hide just because he detects them"
Keliaya@anncaris:"You think we should intercept the Drenn and figure out their intentions? Maybe we can warn them about his ways, or warn him that the Drenn are on their way, if we think they're here for nefarious -
Rianni@crystyl:"Even if they are not, they will likely assume he is hostile if they spot a ship like his and then it cloaks"
Rianni@crystyl hrms, "Warning him could be smoother, but also might also further complicate things. It could be worth speaking to them first but not saying anything about him"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We're closer to the Drenn ship, so we might as well contact them first. Helm, bring us about to follow the Drenn, warp 8."
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "Aye Commander."
Keliaya@anncaris | The Venator turns away from the red dwarf and begins to pursue the departing Drenn cruiser
Keliaya@anncaris nods to Sin on the tactical console, "Deactivate our cloak, let's not spook them."
Rianni@crystyl | Sin taps, "On it"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo: "Looks like they've seen us and are dropping out of warp now."
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Take us out of warp too once we're close by."
Keliaya@anncaris | A few seconds later, the Venator drops out of warp with the Drenn cruiser ahead on the viewscreen. Sin sees the cruiser raising shields
Rianni@crystyl | Sin, "They're raising shields. Want to do the same, or are we playing it all nicely-nicely Starfleet?"
Keliaya@anncaris exchanges a concerned glance with Eva before announcing, "Shields up. Red alert."
Rianni@crystyl | Sin, "And here I thought it was going to be a boring shift! Red alert"
Keliaya@anncaris | Sin sees the Drenn ship powering up weapons. As the Venator goes to red alert, the shields flicker to life just in time as the Drenn move in and begin unleashing their forward weapons. Azevedo -
Keliaya@anncaris - immediately pulls the ship into evasive, away from the bulk of the firepower, though one of the Drenn combined energy-projectile weapons scores a glancing hit. The glancing energy beam only -
Keliaya@anncaris - brings the shield down 1%, but it is enough to guide the accompanying projectile into a direct hit, bringing the shields down to 81% immediately
Rianni@crystyl:"Bring us about and return fire. Sin, try to disable their weapons"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo swings the Venator around, evading two more beams as Sin brings their weapons to bear on the cruiser. Their shields absorb most of the blows, but the concentrated fire takes down a -
Keliaya@anncaris - few of their many weapon arrays. Another glancing hit strikes the Venator, followed by a hit that rocks the bridge
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "Shields down to 60%!"
Rianni@crystyl:"So much for talking to them..."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Keep us moving, Azevedo. Their weapons are extremely accurate. We might have a harder time targetting them, but we need to use our size and speed to our advantage."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva looks over to Rianni, "It's not the Drenn. Well, not entirely, at least."
Rianni@crystyl:"It's not? Oh don't tell me..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva nods, "By the time we were close enough for me to sense the Diteans on board, they also sensed our prisoners."
Rianni@crystyl:"So that's why they're being so aggressive. Damn..."
Keliaya@anncaris | The Venator keeps maneuvering around the Drenn cruiser, evading its fire. Sin's return fire is less accurate with Azevedo constantly evading, and she can't get a good shot with the forward -
Keliaya@anncaris - phaser lance, but the Terran ship still has a large number of other weapons and she manages to score multiple hits, just not as well-aimed as the initial barrage. Still, another one of the -
Keliaya@anncaris - cruiser's weapon arrays goes down and the enemy shields are steadily being drained, dropping to 75% and below
Rianni@crystyl | Sin curses, "All these fancy weapons and we're useless against them! Can't we hail them and ask them to stop shooting so we can stand still and aim right to shoot them back?!"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "I'm trying to, but they won't respond. I think the prisoners combined with how they already consider Starfleet an enemy is making negotiation a little difficult..."
Keliaya@anncaris:"At least we're not being hit anymore. Rianni, any ideas on how to disable that ship?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Let me take a closer look" she moves around to tactical, checking detailed scans at a console behind Sin
Rianni@crystyl:rolls 75 (1-100)
Keliaya@anncaris | Rianni sees that it's the same class they encountered before with the Venator, though not the exact same ship. She has studied this design a few times now though, upon first contact with the -
Keliaya@anncaris - Drenn on the VF and more recently. The design has no glaring weaknesses, despite the different aesthetic, the design philosophy is actually rather similar to a Starfleet cruiser, or rather a -
Keliaya@anncaris - Terran Starfleet cruiser. It's a good all-rounder ship, but militaristic like the Terran versions. However, the number of weapons and energy required for their combined energy-projectile -
Keliaya@anncaris - arrays do make them more vulnerable to overloading, and Rianni is able to figure out an optimal targetting solution to bring as many of them down as possible while the Venator is on the move
Rianni@crystyl quickly taps, "Alright, it's a lot like those we've faced before - and they have that same vulnerability due to the combined weapon systems. Here Sin, target these coordinates"
Rianni@crystyl | Sin grumbles, "Maybe get around to saving these things against known enemy ship classes /before/ we fight them next time... Targeting pattern ready"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well we hadn't gotten into a fight with them before now. Fire when ready, Ensign."
Rianni@crystyl | Sin begins firing on the new targeting pattern while Rianni returns to her seat
Keliaya@anncaris | The new targeting pattern does indeed take out the enemy weapons with more frequency, despite the constant erratic movement of the Venator while evading their shots. The bridge rocks again as -
Keliaya@anncaris - they take another hit, with the evasive maneuvers largely working but unable to dodge every shot
Keliaya@anncaris | Nqakula: "Shields below 50%!"
Keliaya@anncaris | Sin however sees that the enemy's aft weapons have largely all been disabled, with only a few on the side near the rear that can still shoot them from the aft
Rianni@crystyl | Sin, "Their rear is exposed!" she snorts, "Ok, not literally. But I couldn't resist. Keep on their rear arc, they haven't got any real weapons left there now!"
Keliaya@anncaris | Azevedo chuckles, "If that's how you like it, Ensign."
Keliaya@anncaris | The Venator circles to the enemy ship's aft before turning around and making a full attack run, giving Sin use of the Venator's entire forward facing arsenal…
Rianni@crystyl | Sin unleashes it
Keliaya@anncaris | The powerful phaser lance lights up, striking the back of the Drenn cruiser directly. Their shields flicker and fail, and they unleash what weapons they are able. The Venator bridge rocks -
Keliaya@anncaris - again as it takes another hit, but their shields hold while the rest of their weapons unload into the cruiser. Its engines flicker and fail and the remaining weapons which can target them from -
Keliaya@anncaris - the aft are completely destroyed by the barrage. The Drenn cruiser goes adrift, leaving a plume of smoke and plasma behind it as it loses all maneuverability
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "They're sending a distress call. Take out their comms, Sin."
Rianni@crystyl | Sin grins, "With pleasure" and follows up the heavy attack with a single precise strike
Keliaya@anncaris | The precision shot knocks out the Drenn cruiser's comms as it continues to go adrift
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "Time for another boarding action?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"No, not yet. Have the MACOs and Security on standby, but they got a signal out, which means the fighting might not be over yet. We don't want our people trapped over there if reinforcements come."
Rianni@crystyl:"So what now?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Can we lock on to any of the Drenn lifesigns on board?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva nods, "There's a few without transport inhibitors."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Beam one into one of the empty brig cells, since hailing them isn't an option anymore."
Rianni@crystyl stands, looking to Rylliss, "Care to join me for a little chat?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss nods, "Of course, Lieutenant."
Rianni@crystyl looks to Kelly, "We'll go see what we can learn from them then"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I have a feeling it's going to be the same as our people on the Faraday, but I want to verify it."
Keliaya@anncaris | Rianni returns to the brig with Rylliss this time. Inside, all the Ditean cells still have their force fields shaded from view, but one of the visible cells now has a Drenn prisoner. He is -
Keliaya@anncaris - not clad in armour but instead wears a jumpsuit-style uniform
Rianni@crystyl approaches, "Hello. Sorry for the sudden change of scenery but we really wanted to talk to someone from your ship, and this was less messy than us trying to board"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "I take it you're who we were fighting, and this is the ship attacking us?"
Rianni@crystyl raises a finger, "Defending itself against your attack, to be precise. But yes"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "We started the battle? The Diteans are not like the Ecclesiarchy. Why would they shoot first?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "Looks like he's lower decks. Probably didn't know the details of what was happening on their bridge."
Rianni@crystyl nods, looking back to the Drenn, "The Diteans are more like the Ecclesiarchy than they have led you to believe. At least when it comes to those who they can't seduce"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "Is that why they attacked you? Because you wouldn't join them?"
Rianni@crystyl:"It's a bit more complicated than that. But right now our concern is resolving the dispute here. We have no quarrel with your people and don't wish to continue this fight, but we know you sent out a-
Rianni@crystyl:- distress signal that will likely bring more Diteans here"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "And you think I can convince the Diteans to call off these reinforcements?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Probably not. The chances that we were going to get a senior officer without an inhibitor like this were slim at best. But if you can help us understand the situation on your ship - the relationship
Rianni@crystyl:- your people have with the Diteans on board - then maybe we can work together to find some other way to speak to someone there who can call them off and help us end this"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "We aid the Diteans in the running of our ship. It's our design, and they're not familiar with it. But we are not servants. They treat us as equals, and there are Drenn of higher rank -
Keliaya@anncaris - on board who have a say in the affairs of the ship."
Rianni@crystyl:"Wait a second... you aid the Diteans who run your ship? They've brazenly just taken control!"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "No, we gave them the ship of our own volition."
Rianni@crystyl:"And you don't see anything wrong with that statement..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "The Ecclesiarchs lie to us. The Living God is gone. Dead or forsaken us, who can say. But the days of the old empire are over. We must look to a new future, not trying to pick up the -
Keliaya@anncaris - pieces and tormenting the modern descendants of what is left of our people. The Diteans give us what the Ecclesiarchy cannot."
Rianni@crystyl:"Sounds to me like the Diteans are giving you exactly what the Ecclesiarchs did - you've just replaced one lie for another"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "What the Diteans give us is no lie. The Ecclesiarchs lie to us so we are forced to perform miserable work for their own dreams of power."
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "Looks like you're just doing the same work for the Diteans now."
Rianni@crystyl:"Exactly. And you clearly know the situation, why else would you have preemptively tried to defend it by trying to insist they're not treating you like slaves and all - on your own ship"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "Everyone has to do some work. The Diteans don't work us to our breaking point like our own people. Our crew has rotations now, and when it is not our turn to work, we have leave on -
Keliaya@anncaris - their colonies. They give us life, akin to what we once had in the old days, before the Horde came and took it all from us. We were not lazy hedonists in those days. We were still warriors, -
Keliaya@anncaris - but we had life outside of our service to the Ecclesiarchy. A life the Diteans can provide us."
Rianni@crystyl:"Look, we're not here to try and sway your personal beliefs or anything. But you'll forgive us if we find your inability to see the irony of it frustrating still. All we want is to stop this fight -
Rianni@crystyl:- with your ship. Regardless of differences, surely we can agree that it is for the best right?"
Keliaya@anncaris | The Drenn nods, "You have crippled our engines and many of our weapons. Further battle will go...unfavourably for us."
Rianni@crystyl:"Then will you help us convince your superiors to call off reinforcements so we can all go on our way peacefully?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "I...will do what I can."
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Thank you, that's all we can ask. Now, we just need to work out how to get your ship to listen to us"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "I am no Ecclesiarch. My persuasive skills are not exactly my greatest strength, but as I said before, the Diteans treat us all as people. I may be a mere ship weapons technician, but -
Keliaya@anncaris - they will give me a chance and hear me out."
Rianni@crystyl:"Are you saying you're willing to speak to your superiors for us?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "I am. Though depending on how close the reinforcements are, I'm not sure if the argument of the futility in continuing the fight will work."
Rianni@crystyl:"We don't need you to present a convincing argument or anything. Just ask them to talk to us, we'll take it from there"
Keliaya@anncaris | Drenn: "Very well. Transport me back to my ship, and I will do so."
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Thank you" she turns to back to Rylliss with a nod
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss taps his combadge, "Rylliss to Bridge. We've reached an agreement for our prisoner to convince the Diteans to stand down once we transport him back."
Keliaya@anncaris <C - Kelly> "It's worth a try. Alright, we're beaming him back now."
Keliaya@anncaris | Inside the cell, the Drenn prisoner disappears into a transporter beam
Rianni@crystyl:"I don't know if this will work or not, but we weren't going to gain anything from keeping one of their technicians prisoner at this point. Let's get back to the bridge on the off chance"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss nods and turns to head out the brig, "I think it's a good call, Lieutenant. He's already told us what the Diteans are doing with a Drenn ship, and I doubt we'll get anything more out -
Keliaya@anncaris - of him considering his rank and position."
Keliaya@anncaris | Meanwhile on the bridge...
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Commander, I'm detecting an aperture opening nearby."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Onscreen and magnify. Azevedo, prepare for more combat maneuvers."
Keliaya@anncaris | The aperture appears on the viewscreen and three yellow glows emerge from it...
Keliaya@anncaris | The Venator pulls to the side just in time as three beams strike where they were at previously
Keliaya@anncaris:"Keep our distance and keep evading. We're not by a star, these seem like the same ships we faced last time so they'll exhaust their power out here."
Keliaya@anncaris | Another volley blankets the area with the evading Venator, causing the ship to shake as a few shots strike them. As Kelly predicted though, the glow fades rapidly from the three new arrivals, -
Keliaya@anncaris - and the actual ships are already visible even before the aperture shuts behind them
Keliaya@anncaris | The turbolift doors open after some turbulence, and Rianni and Rylliss arrive to the sight of the Ditean vessels on the viewscreen as the aperture closes
Rianni@crystyl steps out, "So much for that idea then... what have we got?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Indrix: "Wait, don't write that off just yet. The Drenn ship is using some sort of light signal, presumably to contact the new arrivals without their comms system online."
Keliaya@anncaris | After a few more shots, the new arrivals suddenly cease fire
Rianni@crystyl | Sin: "Now would be an optimal time to take advantage of the situation and end this"
Rianni@crystyl raises her hand, "Hold on now. Stand ready, let's see what happens"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Stay at red alert, but don't lock weapons on anything. Just stay alert."
Rianni@crystyl | Sin pouts, "Fine..."
Keliaya@anncaris | On the viewscreen, one of the Ditean ships moves to the drifting Drenn cruiser, locking it in a tractor beam. Sin sees its shields flicker offline
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "They're transporting people between the two ships. Probably for better communication."
Keliaya@anncaris | After a minute of observing the interaction, Eva announces, "One of the Ditean ships is hailing us."
Keliaya@anncaris | As usual now with Eva and Kelly, the announcement is more for the benefit of the rest of the bridge as a Ditean appears on the viewscreen immediately after she says this with no prompting from -
Keliaya@anncaris - Kelly. This Ditean has that perfect look that the rest of them have when not assuming the form of someone else, though she is dressed differently from any Ditean we have seen so far. Instead -
Keliaya@anncaris - of the skin uniform (the skintight uniform which is literally just their skin shapeshifted into the look), she wears a suit of golden armour with an ornate helm, holding a spear in her hand
Keliaya@anncaris FX | https://i.imgur.com/ZFkHav8.jpg
Keliaya@anncaris | Ditean: "I am Asteriarch Syrene, Champion of the Teachings of Thena, Shield-Maiden of the Tydian Worlds and Commander of the starship Drakos."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Commander Keliaya of the starship Venator. I'm afraid I don't have as impressive of a collection of titles as you, but I'm glad you decided to talk this out."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "It is my understanding that Periarch Pitheos' ship engaged you in battle and was disabled?"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We were just trying to contact him when he opened fire on us."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "It is also my understanding that his justification was because you are a known enemy force and currently holding some of our people prisoner."
Keliaya@anncaris:"We...need to figure out that first part, but the second is correct. We only took them prisoner because we engaged them in defense of one of our own ships. A ship you lured in and attacked without -
Keliaya@anncaris:- the justification of having Diteans on board as prisoners."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "You are still known enemies in a war you have initiated against us without provocation."
Rianni@crystyl sighs, "Here we go again"
Keliaya@anncaris:"So our prisoners tell me, but we've done no such thing."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "I was not present for that battle, nor have I come here to debate its details. You are an enemy of the Ditean people, and we hold the tactical advantage here. I am surprised you are -
Keliaya@anncaris - willing to speak with us, but I suppose that is because you realize you have been overpowered. Why should we not destroy you?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We know your ships draw their power from stars, and we're sufficiently far from a star. You're not as powerful as you could be."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "But there are three of us, four if you consider the damaged vessel which still possesses some weapons systems, and power it may transfer to us. It is more than sufficient to achieve -
Keliaya@anncaris - victory in this confrontation."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Maybe. But before we test that, remember that the damaged vessel is without shields. And even if you destroy us, you won't be able to do so before we finish off that ship and everyone still on -
Keliaya@anncaris:- board. You started this fight to rescue your people. If you finish it through violence, you're going to lose a lot more people than you save."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "That...is a valid analysis of the current situation."
Keliaya@anncaris:"So, why don't we part ways and both live to fight another day?"
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "And the Diteans you are holding prisoner?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"We're holding them because they attacked our people. They're staying with us. Unless of course you agree to return the rest of our people that /you're/ holding prisoner."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "The ones that will not accept our ways...we have little use for them. But I do not have the authority to make that decision."
Keliaya@anncaris:"Then we're keeping the prisoners until you arrange a prisoner exchange with someone who can make that decision."
Keliaya@anncaris | Syrene: "...very well. I will bring your offer to-" She suddenly looks to the side before the comm cuts abruptly
Rianni@crystyl | Sin: "Another vessel is decloaking. It's... um, that miserable guy..."
Rianni@crystyl | Sure enough, the dreadnaught ripples into view closing in fast on the Ditean ships with its drones flooding out of the various hangars
Keliaya@anncaris:"Of all the times he could've shown up...no wonder they avoid social interaction with timing like that."
Keliaya@anncaris | Two of the Ditean ships turn to him, with the third still focused on the Venator
Rianni@crystyl | The dreadnaught holds its course. The drones we previously saw in a search pattern though stay close to their mothership this time. In fact, they form a tight formation encircling the bow of the-
Rianni@crystyl - ship almost so close as though they were mounted on its shield bubble. Whilst the ship simply maneuvers, the drones act as it's weapons and open fire on the Diteans
Keliaya@anncaris | The two Ditean vessels go evasive, returning fire with bolts of solar plasma. The third begins locking weapons on the Venator again
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva taps on her console, trying to hail the dreadnought
Rianni@crystyl | Sin: "/Now/ can we fight back?"
Rianni@crystyl | The dreadnaught continues its engagement, comfortably holding its own against the weakened Ditean ships
Rianni@crystyl watches curiously, "I'm not sure we'll need to... look at that"
Rianni@crystyl | Sure enough it is easy to see what caught her eye. As the Dreadnaught moves around the battlefield, the drones reposition around it's hull with a fluid-like movement ensuring they are always -
Rianni@crystyl - facing their targets"
Keliaya@anncaris | The third Ditean ship turns away from the Venator and promptly begins generating another aperture. The other two vessels begin falling back towards it, still firing but largely just to cover -
Keliaya@anncaris - themselves and the ship expending energy for the aperture. One of the two starts to tow the damaged Drenn ship with them as well
Rianni@crystyl | The Dreadnaught turns towards the unshielded Drenn ship. Meanwhile Eva receives a text response simply reading 'you're welcome'
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "And he says you're welcome..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva taps her console, sending a text response in return, 'Advise you do not engage the Ditean-captured vessel. It belongs to the Drenn Ecclesiarchy who may send ships in search of it. If they -
Keliaya@anncaris - find your weapons signature on the debris, that could lead to unwanted complications.
Rianni@crystyl | The swarm of drones washing over the hull of the Dreadnaught slow to a pause, then circle back around to refocus fire on the fleeing Diteans
Keliaya@anncaris | The aperture completes forming and the ship that created it disappears inside. The ship not towing the Drenn cruiser moves closer, firing almost everything it has left on the dreadnought to -
Keliaya@anncaris - cover its ally towing the cruiser, which makes for the aperture next
Rianni@crystyl | The dreadnaughts weapons circle back to it's bow as it closes in on the Diteans. The dynamic positioning of the drone-arrays enables them to maintain a devastating rate of fire
Keliaya@anncaris | The second Ditean ship makes it through the aperture with the Drenn cruiser, but the shields of the third crumble under the dreadnought's assault
Rianni@crystyl | The dreadnaught hits the Ditean ship hard, but... doesn't destroy it. The ship is allowed to limp through the aperture
Keliaya@anncaris | The final Ditean vessel, with multiple scorch marks along its hull and one of its fin-like attachments severed, manages to retreat through the aperture, which promptly snaps shut behind it
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva tries to hail the dreadnought again
Rianni@crystyl | He answers this time, appearing on the viewscreen, "What now?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well, we...weren't expecting your arrival. Thank you for your intervention. We ran into a little trouble with the Diteans, but I don't imagine they'll be coming back, now."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "And I already acknowledged your thanks. However, I had a feeling you weren't going to let me get away with more talking, so better to get it out of the way"
Rianni@crystyl:"So that's why he answered this time..."
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Now that you mention it, we would like to learn a little more about you, if you don't mind..."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "A further information exchange? That depends on what you want this time"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well to start with, we're curious about your conflict with the Diteans. Do you consider yourselves in active conflict with them, hence your patrol for their presence?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Yes, as long as they exist as a nuisance out here then we must defend ourselves against their seductions"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "But you only defend yourselves? You don't actively assault their colonies or anything?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "There would be no benefit in that"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Right. Do you consider this region to be part of your space? Is that why you patrol here?"
Rianni@crystyl | The alien shakes his head, "No, but it is on a direct line between our home and the Diteans, so we watch it to make sure they don't try and push closer to our home"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Ahh, that makes sense. And what exactly do we call your species and civilization, if you don't mind me asking?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "We are the No'Rad"
Keliaya@anncaris:"And your territory, do you mind if others pass through it, if they aren't Diteans and mean no harm?"
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "Any vessels that encroach too close to the homeworld will be warned far before they get there"
Keliaya@anncaris:"That's good. Well, if our vessels ever receive your warning, they'll certainly respect your privacy."
Rianni@crystyl | Alien: "That would be wise. Now, can I go?"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Naturally...or maybe unnaturally for your people, we're curious to learn more about you and your ways, but that'll require much more social interaction which I doubt you'll enjoy. So I'll -
Keliaya@anncaris - let you get back to your patrolling. Thank you, for helping with the Diteans and satisfying our curiosity."
Rianni@crystyl | The alien nods and the comm closes. On the screen the dreadnaught turns away
Keliaya@anncaris:"Well, at least we know their species name now..."
Keliaya@anncaris | Shortly after they part ways with the No'Rad ship, Kelly calls the senior staff into the conference room for a meeting
Keliaya@anncaris:"Alright. We all know what happened. Our antisocial friend's intervention probably hadn't helped things with the Diteans, though it could've gone worse. At least we're still in one piece."
Rianni@crystyl:"And we did manage to get some new leads out of all this"
Keliaya@anncaris | Dr. Qrehl: "We also didn't open fire on them while the No'Rad were attacking, and they must be aware that the No'Rad patrol this region given their history. As far as they know, the -
Keliaya@anncaris - No'Rad could've interrupted negotiations of their own accord, and we had nothing to do with it all."
Keliaya@anncaris | Farhalla: "If they were thinking logically, but the Diteans are no Vulcans. They already see us as an enemy, they might very well just use this as further evidence of our hostility. But the -
Keliaya@anncaris - Lieutenant's right, we got some new leads from this, so I'd say it was a net positive in the end for us."
Keliaya@anncaris | Eva: "We'll just have to figure out how to convince the Diteans that we aren't their enemy down the line..."
Rianni@crystyl:"To that end, I assume we are continuing our search for evidence of who is truly responsible now?"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "We'll check out these other Ditean colonies on the way as well, in case one of them is where they're holding our people prisoner."
Rianni@crystyl:"I guess in the meantime, I have a date with a Ditean..."
Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Planning to take her on that art tour?"
Rianni@crystyl | Emma gives a startled look
Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Don't worry, it's nothing like that! And yes, the sooner I go through with it the better. Even if it's a small chance I learn something there, better before we reach any of their colonies -
Rianni@crystyl:- than after"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Do you intend on taking her to the holodeck for this?"
Rianni@crystyl:"Seems like the best option" she looks to Rhylliss, "We can transport her straight there and maintain security at the door. If you think it prudent, we could look to further lock it down with a -
Rianni@crystyl:- forcefield around the holodeck"
Keliaya@anncaris nods, "That might be a good idea. I don't imagine I need to warn you, but be careful when in there. You've fought them in close-quarters before so you're well aware of what they can do with that -
Keliaya@anncaris - partial shapeshifting biology of theirs."
Rianni@crystyl:"Of course. I could go in armed, but I fear that would just create further opportunity for her to try and exploit. I can hold my own well enough if she does try anything - and I suggest we maintain -
Rianni@crystyl:- an open comm line with the bridge monitoring. That way, we can just beam her back to the brig at the first sign of trouble"
Keliaya@anncaris:"Good call. Let's not make it look like she's under heavy guard, and maybe she'll be less likely to try something violent."
Rianni@crystyl:"That is my hope"
Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "I will monitor from the bridge for you"
Keliaya@anncaris | Rylliss: "And I'll have security on standby through it all."
Rianni@crystyl | Emma's tone clearly betrays a little jealousy that she's not the one joining Rianni for an arts tour on the holodeck. It's probably not just safety she wants to monitor for
Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Don't worry Emma. I asked Rianni to talk with her because I could trust she wouldn't be affected by the Ditean's charms."
Rianni@crystyl smiles to Emma, "All thanks to you!"
Rianni@crystyl | Emma, "/You/ I trust. It's the one you're going with..."
Rianni@crystyl:"Good thing I'll have you watching over me then!"
Rianni@crystyl | Emma eyerolls and smiles, "Nice save Tierno..."
Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "And last thing for the day- Rylliss, save that brig recording of your conversation with the Drenn. Make a backup copy on an isolinear chip, just in case."
Rianni@crystyl looks to Kelly, "You anticipate trouble down the line from it?"
Keliaya@anncaris:"The Diteans will probably repair the damage we've done, but if the Drenn find it with our weapons signatures on it, we can use it to explain what happened. And if we can't convince the Diteans -
Keliaya@anncaris:- to end these attacks on us, we could bring the record to the Ecclesiarchy and have them on our side for the conflict."