The Latenter arrives at the Bajor system to find the wormhole closed and the population gone. An ancient prophecy may be their best hope of expedient access to the Gamma Quadrant now...
T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa sits on the bridge of the Latenter as they are about to arrive at the Bajor system
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "That's unusual. I'm picking up no comm traffic at all."
Mischa@crystyl:"Is the system abandoned already?"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Our calculations indicate it will not be much longer until the Darkness reaches Bajor once Sol is lost, so that is a distinct possibility."
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "Our sensors are unable to detect the presence of Deep Space Nine."
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "There's nothing in what we've gathered of this universe's history so far suggesting that DS9 has been destroyed or abandoned."
Mischa@crystyl:"Relocated somewhere else then?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "It's certainly possible. DS9 has already been moved once to remain at the gate of the Bajoran wormhole."
T'Lana@anncaris:"Should we proceed to the location of the wormhole immediately to attempt passage to the Gamma Quadrant, or do you wish to investigate the Bajor system further prior to our departure?"
Mischa@crystyl:"It could be worth getting the lay of the land at least. A cursory sweep of the system"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Let's get a closer look at Bajor first, to confirm whether it's been abandoned."
T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay: "Aye, taking us into the system centre now."
T'Lana@anncaris | After a few minutes, T'Bee announces, "Getting a closer scan of Bajor now. No lifesigns of sentient species detected."
Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, let's complete a standard survey and move on to the wormhole"
T'Lana@anncaris | After completing their survey and confirming that the Bajor system was indeed abandoned, the Latenter proceeded into the Denorios belt to pass through the Bajoran wormhole
T'Lana@anncaris | Still in her command chair, Mischa watches as the Latenter comes to a stop...and nothing happens
T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay taps on his console, "This...is definitely the location of the wormhole, but it's not opening."
Mischa@crystyl purses her lips, "It does still exist... doesn't it?"
T'Lana@anncaris:"According to the information we received from the Klingons, it was still open relatively recently."
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "I cannot confirm. I am detecting no signs of the wormhole's presence, but I am also detecting no signs that the wormhole has been collapsed."
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Maybe the Prophets closed it, to prevent the Darkness from passing in?"
Mischa@crystyl:"If they are more actively controlling access to it, then there must be a way to communicate with them"
T'Lana@anncaris:"If there is, then the most logical place to search would be Bajor."
Mischa@crystyl:"But there was nothing that stood out there"
T'Lana@anncaris:"The planet has been abandoned, but the Prophets have always possessed a unique connection to the Bajoran people. If the Bajorans have been evacuated, then their most likely destination given what -
T'Lana@anncaris:- we have been told of their association with Gamma Starfleet, would be the Gamma Quadrant. Somewhere we apparently are unable to access at this moment. In lieu of contacting the local Bajorans -
T'Lana@anncaris:- here, our next best option would be examining what they have left behind."
Mischa@crystyl:"Alright then, let's go take a closer look"
T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay: "Taking us back to Bajor now, Captain."
T'Lana@anncaris | The Latenter turns around as it heads back towards Bajor
T'Lana@anncaris:"Perhaps it would be prudent to search the surface in person this time."
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "The capital city would be a good place to start."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "My thoughts as well. The Monastery of the Kai, specifically"
T'Lana@anncaris:"I recommend taking Victoria for this one. This is her homeworld after all, even if it is not quite our own universe, the culture will still be comparable. I can oversee the bridge in your absence."
Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed" she turns to Victoria, "Well, up for a little time in the field for a change?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria nods, "I'd like to figure out what happened here more than anyone else. We should bring Mattis too. He's an investigator, good at piecing together information from scraps of evidence -
T'Lana@anncaris - left behind, and his El-Aurian senses could be useful, seeing what happened last time on 'abandoned' P'Jem. That could've gone badly if these Ascended weren't friendly."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Please let him know and have him meet us in the transporter"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria nods, tapping her console, "On it."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mischa, Victoria and Mattis beam down outside the monastery, finding themselves in an eerily empty and abandoned Bajoran city
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria looks around, "Well...this isn't unsettling at all."
Mischa@crystyl:"Take your time, I know this is difficult to see"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "I was going to say, it almost feels like I've been pulled into some sort of alternate dimension where all the people are gone. But then I remember we /are/ in another quantum reality..."
Mischa@crystyl:chuckles, "Yes, it certainly does qualify for the whole alternate dimension thing"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Anyways. Let's see what we can find inside the Monastery," She begins leading the way in
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| As they walk through the empty monastery, Mattis comments, "Commander Victoria, was it? I'm far from an expert on the cultures of this quadrant, but from the short time I spent with the -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Federation, that sounds like an Earth name to me."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "That's right. You're not the first one to be curious about it."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis: "How does a Bajoran come to possess an Earth name? You don't seem half-human to me."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Half-humans can be hard to tell sometimes, but I figure an El-Aurian would be able to spot the difference. I was named for a friend of my mother's. She was with the Bajoran militia -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- during the Dominion War and posted on DS9 for a bit. Victoria was the name of a Starfleet Security officer who got along very well with her, but she was unfortunately killed in one of the battles -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- involving the station. So I was named after her."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis: "Wouldn't that make Victoria your given name? Starfleet uses rank and surname in formal settings."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria chuckles, "That part was an administrative error. We put our family names first you see, and the Academy got it mixed up. It's not the first time that's happened, but I didn't bother -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- filing for a correction. I thought Commander Victoria was fitting, seeing how it honours a Starfleet officer who died in defense of Bajor. But yes, technically Glen is my family name. Which I -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- know also sounds like a human name, but with single syllable names, coincidences are bound to occur."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis: "Two syllable names as well. I've encountered some cultures with names very similar to Mattis. I think there's even human names with similarities, but not quite an exact match."
Mischa@crystyl:"There are a few names in different ancient Human languages in fact, that fit that bill"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis suddenly pauses as he turns and heads down a side passage, coming to a stop. Several robes lie on various benches along the hall, but they're not folded like someone removed and placed -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- them here. Instead, they're just randomly draped over benches, chaotically, dragging down onto the floor with a couple having slid down and lying clumped up on the ground
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis: "Well, I don't think that's usual for a monastery."
Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed, most curious"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis continues down the hall, pushing open a door. Within is a dark room, with all the candles long having gone out. He activates a flashlight and scans across the room. Other than the dark, -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- everything else seems perfectly normal. It just seems like it's been suddenly abandoned, with a set of robes on a bed that looks like it hadn't been made yet
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis starts examining the room closely, "There's no sign of foul play, or that the occupant packed any of their belongings for an evacuation."
Mischa@crystyl:"More robes that look like the person occupying them just beamed up without them"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "A forced evacuation? But why would they take everyone without even their clothes?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I see no good reason why anyone would. Besides, to refine a wide beam lock to that extent just wouldn't be worth it. Only Ferengi would do something like that, and then only with women"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "If that's what they wanted I can think of plenty of better places to grab from than the monast...wait, that could be a good place to check, actually. But first, I want to check -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- something in the monastery while we're here."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria leads the way out of the monastery's living areas and out to its main central chambers
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| As they make their way through the grandest of the chambers, they approach a pedestal which is clearly intended to hold one of the Bajoran orbs, but there is nothing currently atop it
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Of course not. That would just be too easy, wouldn't it."
Mischa@crystyl:smiles, "By the laws of probability, we need to catch a break sooner or later"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Maybe we'll get lucky with my second idea." She turns to lead the way once again
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria leads them into a large club. Like everywhere else on the planet, it is entirely empty and dark
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis looks around, "An interesting place to investigate."
Mischa@crystyl:"I'll admit I'm a little curious as to the thinking behind this stop"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria moves behind the bar, "It looks like they took some drinks with them. That, or this place just hasn't stocked up for a long time." She heads over to a panel on the wall and begins tapping
Mischa@crystyl:hrms, starting to better understand the thinking behind looking here
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Looks like there's still some power in the system though. That's good..."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| A moment later, the lights of the club powers up, followed by the flickering of a hologram by the Dabo table
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria smiles, "There we go."
Mischa@crystyl:"If you wanted a holographic Dabo girl to play with, you should have just asked..."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria chuckles, "Not a holographic Dabo girl. A /Bajoran/ holographic Dabo girl. We're very traditional here on Bajor, as you know. Back home we haven't really embraced holographic tour guides -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- and all that. The most likely place to find a hologram was a venue like this..." She gestures to the hologram by the Dabo table
Mischa@crystyl:"And with it, the most likely direct source of answers. Nice thinking"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The holographic Dabo girl looks around and turns to the trio, "Hello! Oh my, it's a little empty in here, isn't it? I believe the club is closed, and you probably shouldn't be here."
Mischa@crystyl:approaches, "Actually the whole planet is closed, but check your chrono and I'm sure you'll find these are technically opening hours for your establishment"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "Yes, that's right. Though I don't suppose you are here to play Dabo, are you?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I'm afraid we do have rather more pressing matters, like trying to find the people who used to live here"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "You'll have to enter the wormhole for that. You won't find any of them here anymore."
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, but funny thing about that... the wormhole isn't where we left it. At least, it's not just opening up like it used to"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "Oh. The Prophets must have closed it, then. Well, that's going to be a problem, isn't it?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed, and so now here we are trying to find out about what the Prophets have done. I don't suppose the Bajoran people happened to leave you with a comm frequency to the Temple of the Prophets..."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "Unfortunately not. From my understanding, the Orbs are the main means of communicating with the Prophets. But even discounting the fact that they don't respond to just anyone, all the -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Orbs are no longer on Bajor. Most have been returned to the Prophets. Unless..."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "The Orb of Rebirth has been taken across the wormhole by those Bajorans who had not yet managed to ascend to join the Prophets in the Celestial Temple, so they may complete the journey -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- in the future. Obviously, that one is not accessible if the wormhole is not open, unless you have access to gateway technology or something else that will propel you across the galaxy. But my -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- records indicate there is another Orb which has not yet been returned. The Orb of Endings."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Of course, it's that one..."
Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds rather fitting given the current state of the galaxy. What do you know of it?"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "It was the last of the original nine orbs to be collected, and it always had a bit of a dark history to it. The explorer who found it disappeared in a later expedition to the Denorios -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- belt after becoming obsessed with the Prophets. Every Cardassian who handled it during the Occupation died sometime between then and end of the Dominion War. There's a prophecy which says that -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- the Orb would be returned to the Celestial Temple in the final days of Bajor. Its return to Bajor by the Cardassians in the days just before the full outbreak of the Dominion War was actually -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- kept a secret by the vedeks to prevent the spread of panic among the people."
Mischa@crystyl:"And now here we are with the Darkness looming closer over the abandoned husk of Bajor. And I tried so hard all these years to avoid all this prophecy stuff too..."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis: "It seems like this Orb is going to be our best chance of getting a ticket to the Gamma Quadrant. If that means fulfilling an ancient prophecy, I think we should go for it. Prophecy or -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- not, the Darkness is coming for Bajor in any event."
Mischa@crystyl:"True enough, and I don't see anyone else here to fulfill the prophecy and return it. But I can't imagine it's just sitting on a shelf somewhere with a big neon sign pointing at it..."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "Two centuries ago, a group opposing the idea of abandoning Bajor to join the Prophets as ascended beings stole the Orb of Endings in an attempt to keep the prophecy from -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- occuring, which they believed could save Bajor. The Orb was taken offworld and I do not know its current whereabouts. However, I know that many have been interested in tracking it down. Perhaps -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- you may find information in Bajor's Starfleet headquarters. You do seem to be a member of Starfleet, though your uniform is somewhat outdated."
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, I'm just a sucker for the retro look..." she answers dryly, "Remind me, where are those headquarters from here again?"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "You'll find it three streets south of the central government building."
Mischa@crystyl:"Of course, thank you. Well then, we should probably leave you to your, um, solitude..."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Hologram: "Are you sure I can't tempt you with a game of Dabo before you go? It’s on the house!"
Mischa@crystyl:"Appreciate it, but no. We have a prophecy to fulfill"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The team makes their way across the empty capital city...
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis: "Well that's odd. There's no sign of evacuation in the monastery, but there certainly is here in the rest of the city," he points. "Look there, someone forgot a little luggage. And many -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- of the stores are left open and empty. I think the city was evacuated, but the monks, or vedeks, had a different fate."
Mischa@crystyl:"That holo mentioned ascension to join the Prophets. I suspect this began when the Emissary returned following the psionic awakening. From what the holo said, it sounds like many of Bajor's more -
Mischa@crystyl:- devout believers ascended while the rest evacuated through the wormhole"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis nods, "That'd be a reasonable assumption, given what we know so far."
Mischa@crystyl:"I am quite curious now about this local Starfleet. The holo made it sound like a regional division in it's own right, but I wonder if that's just local translation for a more typical remote facility -
Mischa@crystyl:- as opposed to an independent operation"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria looks up as they approach the next plaza, "Well...it looks like we have our answer."
Mischa@crystyl:follows her gaze
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Above the entrance to the central building in this plaza is the Starfleet delta. However, it is imposed onto a vertical rectangle with wings emerging behind it, a distinctive part of the symbol -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- of the Andarash. Though having only ever encountered deceased Andarash on the Discovery of this universe, Mischa is certainly familiar with the symbol from the intel T'Lana brought back from her -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- time in the Gamma Quadrant
Mischa@crystyl:"A blend of Starfleet and the Andarash. This must be one of the split Starfleet factions we learned about at P'Jem then. If this emblem is here, they must be a part of the relocated Starfleet. Well,-
Mischa@crystyl:- this relocated part of Starfleet at least"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria nods, "Which goes to support your theory that everyone here has been evacuated to the Gamma Quadrant through the wormhole."
Mischa@crystyl:"Those who didn't join the Prophets at least. Come on, let's take a look around"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The team proceeds into the Starfleet building, where there is a large lobby which, like everywhere else on the planet, seems to be abandoned. The fusion Starfleet-Andarash symbol is once again -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- visible on the wall behind the reception desk. Everything still looks relatively pristine, with little in the way of built up dust, indicating that the place hasn't been abandoned for long, and -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- most maintenance systems are likely still online. The consoles on the reception desk are off, but above them, several drones are still hovering across levels above them
Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, take a look around and see what you can find" she makes for a console herself, doing some digging
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mischa powers up the console and searches through it. The first thing she finds is confirmation that the Bajorans have been moved through the wormhole to Protectorate territories in the Gamma -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Quadrant. She quickly equates this incarnation of Starfleet to the Protectorate Starfleet mentioned by Yuzuki; it seems many Federation survivors, including whole worlds, have been moved to the -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Gamma Quadrant as Protectorates of the La'ani Commonwealth, with the splinter group of Starfleet responsible for doing so now serving as an auxiliary force to the Andarash
Mischa@crystyl:gathers all the data she can to her tricorder and focuses on detail regarding the Orb
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mischa finds only the basic historical information regarding the Orb of Endings that the hologram gave. There is a note stating that the fleet posted in the Alpha Quadrant has been aiding the -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Bajorans in its recovery, but there is no further information on the reception console
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mattis taps away at his own console, "Nothing much on that Orb here. We might have to search for something with a little more secure data."
Mischa@crystyl:checks for details of local CO's to see who would have more detail on those operations
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mischa finds that the executive officer of the Alpha fleet was one Rear Admiral Krim Zand, a native Bajoran who is noted to be interested in Bajoran history and culture. His office lies near the -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- top of the building
Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, top floor. Rear Admiral Krim Zand had an office there. If anyone's got details on the orb, it will be him"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria nods, "I'll try to get one of the lifts up and running." She heads over to a lift, playing with the control panel a bit
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Doesn't look like main power is online. The consoles were running off some local power cells. If you can catch one of the drones, we should be able to reprogram it to turn the -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- generators back on, but it's probably easier just to call for a site-to-site. Without main power, none of the security measures are up, either."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Site to site works for me" she taps her combadge and makes the request
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "If the consoles down here have got power cells that's still working, hopefully we shouldn't need main power upstairs either."
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The team transports into the Rear Admiral's office. Here, the signs of evacuation are apparent as there are shelves that are completely empty, with much of the Admiral's personal possessions -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- gone, leaving just some basic wall decor. Fortunately, the consoles are still present in the room, albeit powered off like the ones at the reception
Mischa@crystyl:tries to get his desk console powered, "Hopefully these haven't been wiped. Or if they have, he at least left instructions for any followup"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mischa powers up the desk console easily enough, and with a little more work, bypasses the security on it. It does seem like the most sensitive and classified data has been wiped, but the console -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- isn't empty, either
Mischa@crystyl:starts digging around what is still on there
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mischa finds some additional data on Protectorate Starfleet which could be useful. After a little digging, she locates data on the Orb of Endings. Apparently, it had somehow fallen into Ditean -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- possession after it was removed from Bajor, though the data doesn't specify exactly which world it is being held on
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria meanwhile checks the console on the wall, which displays a starchart once it powers up
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "Nothing on the orb on here, but there is some useful political data on the Alpha Quadrant. Hopefully we won't be staying here for long, but it's still good to have. Anything on your -
Alien NPC@annpc#557:- end, Captain?"
Mischa@crystyl:"That data might well be useful as it seems the Diteans are odds on favourite for the orb"
Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Victoria: "I hope they weren't keeping it in the old Federation core...then we'd have to go all the way back."
Mischa@crystyl:"For now, we've got our lead. So let's finish up here and get back to the ship
T'Lana@anncaris | The team transports back to the Latenter and Mischa proceeds to the bridge with Victoria
T'Lana@anncaris is seated in the command chair, standing as the lift opens and Mischa steps out, "Welcome back, Captain. I hope your search was fruitful?"
Mischa@crystyl steps over, "Yes and no. We don't have a way to open the wormhole yet, but we do have a lead. The downside is, it points us back to the Diteans"
T'Lana@anncaris raises a brow, "You believe the Diteans closed the wormhole?"
Mischa@crystyl:"No, I have my suspicions about who specifically is responsible. But more on that later. No, the Diteans seem to be the ones incorporating a particular Starfleet group whom may be in possession -
Mischa@crystyl:- of - or at least have knowledge of - the Orb of Endings. Right now, trying to use this orb to communicate with the Prophets within the wormhole is our best bet to gain access"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I suppose we will have to deal with the Diteans once again, then."
Mischa@crystyl:"Unfortunately" she nods, "And don't get me started on this whole prophecy business. Victoria can fill you in on the background there. We got a good bit of local and recent history though that should -
Mischa@crystyl:- keep the analysts out of trouble for a while" she hands TL her tricorder
T'Lana@anncaris takes the tricorder, uploading the info to her usual console before tapping away at it
Mischa@crystyl:"I thought you'd find it so"
T'Lana@anncaris:"There is no data on the precise location of this Orb. However, it would appear that the closest Ditean world to us at present is Cardassia."
Mischa@crystyl:"And if anyone is going to hide away an Orb of the Prophets..."
T'Lana@anncaris:"Precisely. It would be the most logical place to search."
Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed" she turns, "You heard the lady, set course for Cardassia"
T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay: "Aye, setting course for Cardassia."
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "Shall we cloak now, or only when we are approaching the system? There may be Ditean patrols once we enter the Cardassia Sector."
Mischa@crystyl hrms, "I would prefer to slip in and out without them ever knowing we were there. But that could also take longer, and they did invite us to go and visit with them" she looks to TL, "Thoughts?"
T'Lana@anncaris:"A stealth approach would be preferable, but it may be difficult as we will not know where to begin. We have also never attempted to infiltrate a Ditean world before. With their shapeshifting and -
T'Lana@anncaris:- telepathic capabilities, I anticipate there may be many complications. However, the information we possess indicates they are unlikely to be directly hostile. Their methods are far more subtle, -
T'Lana@anncaris:- and contact may be viable here."
Mischa@crystyl:"Much as I don't like it, I'm inclined to agree. We're just going to have to tightly control any contact with them"
T'Lana@anncaris:"I can arrange a bridge rotation composed of personnel most likely to resist them."
Mischa@crystyl:"Good, and if we ensure there is always one of the strongest resisting present for oversight we should be fine"
T'Lana@anncaris | A short while later, the Latenter nears the Cardassia system...
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "Captain. Cardassian patrol on sensors. I assume we are to continue course without cloaking?"
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Yes, no natural instincts this time. Think of it like we're undercover as SFC" she chuckles
T'Lana@anncaris:"Speaking of Starfleet Command, the information you retrieved have yielded some interesting insights into this Protectorate Starfleet."
Mischa@crystyl:"What have you got?"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Namely, that Starfleet Command no longer appears to exist with them. The individual fleets are organized in a fashion nearly identical to our own, with most fleets being assigned a primary region -
T'Lana@anncaris:- operation. However, there is no Starfleet authority above the admiralty of each individual fleet, and the fleets as a whole answer to the Andarash. This version of Starfleet seems to be largely -
T'Lana@anncaris:- an extension of the Andarash."
Mischa@crystyl:"That was the impression we got as well, but it is good to better understand that structure"
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "As we would likely be encountering them once we pass into the Gamma Quadrant, I thought it would be prudent to learn what we can. This Protectorate Starfleet is still operating with very -
T'Lana@anncaris - similar regulations to what we have now. There have been changes of course, but I would say the overall ethics of this Starfleet has not deviated much. Most of the vital general orders that -
T'Lana@anncaris - define who we are, such as General Order 1, is still identical."
Mischa@crystyl:"Which makes it seem less likely that these are not the ones responsible for the temporal interference. That, or something drastic changes"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "The Cardassian patrol is changing course to intercept us."
Mischa@crystyl:"As well they should"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "If this is anything like the Starfleet vessels we encountered, I suspect these ships are Cardassian in design only."
Mischa@crystyl:"We'll assume as much, but be prepared to react"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "I am conducting a tactical analysis now in case of hostilities."
T'Lana@anncaris | As the Cardassian ships draw closer, T'Fel announces, "The technology of these vessels is roughly on par with what we have witnessed of this era, though the Cardassian vessels are notably less -
T'Lana@anncaris - tactically capable than the Starfleet ships under Ditean control. I suspect either that the Cardassians have been heavily demilitarized even into this time, or that these vessels are of an -
T'Lana@anncaris - older generation than the Starfleet ones and have simply been refit with some more modern systems."
Mischa@crystyl:"Both distinct possibilities. Well, let's see what they have to say now then"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Opening communications channels."
T'Lana@anncaris | A moment later, a male Ditean appears on the backdrop of a distinctly Cardassian bridge
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "Welcome to the Cardassian sector. We've received word of your ship closer to Gaia and expected you might come to seek out one of the Starfleet remnants here, but what precisely brings -
T'Lana@anncaris - you across the border? I thought you would've ended your journey at Bajor."
Mischa@crystyl:"It is true that our mission was taking us to Bajor and beyond. But we came across some information at the old Starfleet HQ there which warrants closer investigation first. And that is what now -
Mischa@crystyl:- brings us your way"
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "Interesting. And what precisely are you investigating, if I may ask?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Well... I almost don't like to admit this, but there is an unresolved historical matter that I need to take up regarding the Prophets. So I am now seeking guidance from Bajor's Starfleet remnants -
Mischa@crystyl:- who I expect will be in this region"
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "You are a little late if you seek the Starfleet remnants here. They pulled back several months ago to evacuate what remained of Bajor's population. I imagine if you have not run into -
T'Lana@anncaris - them yet, they are already on the other side of the wormhole. However, we...might be able to assist with unresolved historical matters."
Mischa@crystyl:"Well now that is disappointing news. But I'm afraid the only way we might be able to resolve this now is by getting answers straight from the source. So unless you happen to be sitting on a spare -
Mischa@crystyl:- Orb that they just happened to not take with them..." she chuckles at the /obvious/ absurdity of such an idea
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "An Orb, one of the artifacts of the Bajoran Prophets, given to the Bajoran people to facilitate communication?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, and highly treasured by them. So they would have naturally taken them all away when they evacuated..."
T'Lana@anncaris | The Ditean brings up a holo-console in front of himself, scrolling through it for a bit, "I may know someone who would be able to help you with that."
Mischa@crystyl leans in with exaggerated interest and appreciation, "Truly?"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Ditean nods and smiles, "Accompany us back to Cardassia. I do not have this information at my disposal but someone there does."
Mischa@crystyl:"Most gracious of you, but I hate to think that we are pulling you away from your duties"
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "Oh, there is no need for concern. Our duties are to patrol the border with Bajor and greet any guests, so escorting you to Cardassia is very much within our purview. Besides, with -
T'Lana@anncaris - Starfleet having withdrawn from the region and the Darkness slowly approaching, it's unlikely that there will be much of concern to us on this side of our border. Most of the trouble lies on -
T'Lana@anncaris - the other side of the Alpha Worlds."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see. Well then, thank you for your hospitality. Please lead the way!"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Ditean smiles and nods his head. The channel ends and on the viewscreen, the Cardassian ships turn to escort the Latenter towards Cardassia
Mischa@crystyl slumps and makes a 'bleugh' face, "I was really hoping to avoid the hand-holding... can't be helped though, so form up with them"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Latenter forms up with the Cardassian vessels as they warp out towards Cardassia...
T'Lana@anncaris | A short while later, the Latenter begin to approach the system with their Cardassian/Ditean escorts
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "I am reading a large number of ships in the system. Cardassia is certainly a hub of civilization, even if it may not quite be Cardassian anymore."
Mischa@crystyl:"I suppose it has become something of a last outpost for the quadrant now"
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel nods, "Many of the ships are civilian and transport vessels, but I am reading a few Cardassian military vessels in dock, similar to our escorts. There are also a number of Ditean ships."
Mischa@crystyl:"All as expected"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Interesting. There are three Ditean ships in orbit of the planet, but the majority are around the star, in a closer orbit than Federation vessels can safely achieve. I believe in this state, the -
T'Lana@anncaris:- power levels their technology is capable of channeling will make these ships effectively indestructible with the weaponry of our native century."
Mischa@crystyl:"Don't piss off the star huggers then. Top tip for the day"
T'Lana@anncaris:"A Ditean-controlled system will be nearly impossible to assail in a conventional manner. I can see why the Diteans hold so much territory. They gain it through diplomacy, but once they are in -
T'Lana@anncaris:- control, their unique technology allows them to maintain control of it even from outside threats which are not open to negotiation."
T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "Their primary weakness is that their technology would be highly ineffective in the cold space between star systems. Which is why groups such as the Klingon factions prey on traders and -
T'Lana@anncaris - travellers beyond Ditean systems. No doubt that is why they employ vessels of conventional design such as these, built by civilizations they have enthralled."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "They certainly are quite nefarious"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "We're being hailed by the Cardassian patrol again, Captain."
T'Lana@anncaris | The same Ditean from before appears on the viewscreen with a smile on his face, "And here we are. Welcome to Cardassia."
Mischa@crystyl:"Thank you, it's been a long minute since I last saw this place"
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "Was that before or after the beauty of the Goddess touched this world?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Um... before, I believe" she smiles
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "A few things have changed since then. I think you will find the planet much more...pleasant than you remember it."
Mischa@crystyl:"No doubt. So should we wait here while you reach out to your contact?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "Actually, I was going to offer to accompany you to the surface and introduce you myself."
Mischa@crystyl:"Well I'm sure it would be helpful to have the benefit of some local knowledge"
T'Lana@anncaris | The Ditean smiles again, "Then I will meet you on the surface. Here are the transport coordinates."
Mischa@crystyl:"We'll see you there"
T'Lana@anncaris | Ditean: "I look forward to it." The comm ends
Mischa@crystyl sighs, "Time for the part I've not been looking forward to"
T'Lana@anncaris:"I may accompany you. I believe we are the most likely to resist the Diteans, as I suspect they will attempt to manipulate us into staying with them or otherwise working for their benefit."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Agreed"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Mischa and T'Lana materialize on a transporter pad, 'conveniently' providing a scenic overlook of the city beyond which they 'just happen' to be facing
T'Lana@anncaris:FX | https://pbs.twimg.com/media/E3ZV8M7XIAI_sEx?format=jpg&name=4096x4096
Mischa@crystyl:"Well it beats arriving here to an interrogation chamber. Them and their bloody lights..."
T'Lana@anncaris:| The voice of the Ditean commander they were speaking to sounds behind them, "You'll find that we don't do that here anymore."
Mischa@crystyl:turns, "Glad to hear it. I've had my fill of freeing people from those places"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Ditean: "Yes, I am well aware of your Federation's history with them. Fortunately, we have resolved such barbarous behaviour for good now, at least here on Cardassia. Of course, our influence -
T'Lana@anncaris:- does not stretch across the whole galaxy, and there are still many places upon which Dite's light does not shine."
Mischa@crystyl:"Of course" she concurs, "So what's the plan from here?"
T'Lana@anncaris:| The Ditean gestures for them to follow as he leads the way from the transporter, "I am Periarch Diamo, by the way. We have not yet been formally introduced."
T'Lana@anncaris:"I thought your term for starship commanders was Asteriarch."
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo: "You are well-informed. Asteriarchs are the commanders of solar vessels. Periarch translates to Patrol Leader, which is the title given to those of us who command patrol vessels."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see. And for belated introductions now we are in person, I am Captain Leveson-Scott and this is Commander T'Lana"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo: "A pleasure to meet you both. I hope you like what we have done with the place. It is much less oppressive than the Cardassia you remember, I imagine."
T'Lana@anncaris:| As they walk out into the city from the transporter area, they notice that the vast majority of the population are Diteans. There are a few members of other species here and there, some Trill, -
T'Lana@anncaris:- some Deferans, a small group of Boslic, a Ferengi merchant and what seems to be a Ditean family with several Denobulan members. Surprisingly, Cardassians are very much the minority here, even -
T'Lana@anncaris:- among non-Ditean alien races. They can see more Trill and Denobulans than Cardassians, at least in this part of the city
Mischa@crystyl:"Quite the eclectic society here now I see"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo: "We are a very open society, just like your Federation. We take in all members of other species who wish to come and join our society. Some of those you see here are visitors, merchants -
T'Lana@anncaris:- and businessmen," he motions to the Ferengi, "while many others are full citizens of this world."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see. So this contact of yours, they are a resident?"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo: "A resident, yes, but much more than that."
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo: "If you are familiar with our ranks, then I imagine you must have some familiarity on our society as well. We honour our creator, the Goddess Dite, but we do not worship her in any -
T'Lana@anncaris:- superstitious manner. We respect her, by showing appreciation and care to all that she loved. One of her domains was beauty and art. Almost every Ditean pursues a form of art in some way, just as -
T'Lana@anncaris:- every Vulcan pursues logic and every Klingon trains in combat. But those who safeguard works of artistic and cultural importance are given special importance in our society. We go to speak with -
T'Lana@anncaris:- an Epistator, a position which to our society is what the Vedeks are to the Bajorans, or the Esoterics to the Chlasi."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see, thank you for the clarification"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Their destination becomes clear as they begin to approach a large building whose architecture is far closer to the ancient Greek style of Earth than the rest of the city. Though plenty of the -
T'Lana@anncaris:- other architecture have clear Hellenistic influence, this one is not just influenced but looks like it could be taken right from Earth history
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo: "Welcome to the Museum of Cardassia."
Mischa@crystyl:looks up, "Impressive"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo: "Usually when we erect new structures, we prefer to keep the local architectural style intact. Perhaps with a bit of influence here and there from other cultures, including our own, but -
T'Lana@anncaris:- that is natural evolution in art of all societies. We still want to maintain the distinctiveness of the local culture, and add to it rather than overwrite. However, museums and other such -
T'Lana@anncaris:- structures which are...sacred to Dite, for lack of a better word, are an exception."
Mischa@crystyl:"So it's like... blending your distinctiveness with theirs!" she surmises with a sarcastically upbeat tone to those who know her, as she clearly sees the similarity to the Borg
T'Lana@anncaris:| As they make their way towards the entrance to the museum, they pass by a large, distinctive statue at the entrance
T'Lana@anncaris:"Is that a statue of your goddess?"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Diamo nods, "One of many depictions, yes."
T'Lana@anncaris | The Ditean commander leads them into the structure, where they arrive in what is clearly the lobby of a museum. Various statues and sculptures are placed through the center of the large -
T'Lana@anncaris - chamber, while the walls are lined with paintings of all sorts. There is a wide collection of art on display, much of it native to the local region
T'Lana@anncaris | The museum is busy with all sorts of people, some visiting and admiring the art while others seem to be workers going about their various tasks, carrying toolkits or being tailed by drones as -
T'Lana@anncaris - they go about maintaining both the building and the works of art and history within
T'Lana@anncaris | Diamo: "Beautiful, isn't it? You may have heard from some in the quadrant who claim we are here to destroy, to erase. But we seek to preserve the cultures of this galaxy, better than many of -
T'Lana@anncaris - their own people ever did. Take this piece, for instance," he steps over to a sculpture. "We carefully reconstructed this, as faithfully as we possibly could, from fragments of the original we -
T'Lana@anncaris - were able to recover. The original work was shattered by the old Cardassian government for promoting ideologies of individualism and hedonism which did not align with their political beliefs."
T'Lana@anncaris | Another Ditean, this one wearing loose white clothing which matched the ancient Greek style of the building, stepped over towards them, "Of course, the Cardassians themselves produced -
T'Lana@anncaris - spectacular works of art to allow for much of this in the first place. It was a shame that their regime suppressed so much for its own interests. We cannot take credit for bringing about the -
T'Lana@anncaris - end of that regime," she gestures towards Mischa and T'Lana. "That is thanks to you and your Starfleet."
T'Lana@anncaris | Diamo: "May I introduce," he gestures from Mischa to the new Ditean, "Epistator Melita."
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita smiles, "Likewise. Your uniform style- you are temporally displaced, are you not?"
Mischa@crystyl:"At this point you might as well consider us temporal explorers"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Interesting. The Periarch here tells me you have come in search of some historical artifact?"
Mischa@crystyl nods, "A Bajoran one to be specific"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "A personal interest, or an assignment given to you by the Bajorans and Gamma Starfleet prior to their departure?"
Mischa@crystyl:"We have not yet encountered the Gamma Starfleet faction at all. No, this is part of our core mission which has led us to investigate one of the old Bajoran prophecies and it's associated orb"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Ah. So that is what this is about. Well, it is dining time on this part of Cardassia. Why don't you join me and I'll tell you all about it?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Very well then"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita smiles, "Come with me, then."
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita leads them into a large and elegant dining hall. She doesn't head directly to the table, but towards a large machine to one side, about the size of a large wall console on a starship -
T'Lana@anncaris - bridge, except there is a slot in the centre clearly intended to produce something, while the actual interface is no larger than that of a small console
T'Lana@anncaris raises a brow, "That is a very large replicator."
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita smiles, "Matter replication is one of its functions, but it is not solely what you know as a replicator. As I am sure you know, there is a difference between organically prepared food -
T'Lana@anncaris - and replicated nutritions. A minute difference to most species, but perceptible even without the refined senses we possess. We have spent much effort improving the technology to make the -
T'Lana@anncaris - products as authentic as possible, but nothing is still as authentic as the real thing."
Mischa@crystyl:"You are fortunate to be able to live such a lavish life here"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Fortune, partly, but we have worked hard to establish all this. Something we are more than willing to share with those who would be our friends. You are from the world you call Earth, yes?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Correct, and T'Lana here is from Vulcan"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita starts tapping on the console on the side of the device, "Which part of Earth, if I may ask?"
Mischa@crystyl:"The old nation state known as Great Britain, Cambridge to be precise"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita continues tapping for a bit before stepping back, "Give it a few moments now. This is a more complicated machine than a replicator, and requires slightly more time to produce the final product."
Mischa@crystyl watches curiously
T'Lana@anncaris:"What precisely does this machine do?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "It is a basic artificial intelligence which designs and produces food using a combination of available fresh material and replicated ingredients."
Mischa@crystyl:"I assume the fresh material isn't stored inside of it. Transported direct from storage units I assume?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita nods and smiles, "An excellent deduction."
T'Lana@anncaris | The plate materializes in the slot first, followed by individual food items until the entire dish is complete
Mischa@crystyl smiles at the novelty, "So the big question; is it the fish that is fresh, or the potatoes for the fries?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita examines the console, "Both. The fish is fresh River Hevrit, harvested from a reservoir outside the city just earlier today. The fries are crafted from Bajoran Kava Root harvested from -
T'Lana@anncaris - fields on this world, both flash-fried within the machine. A classic dish from your home, recreated with a tinge of local flavour. Only the lime is replicated, and that is because we have -
T'Lana@anncaris - refined the replication of its taste to near-perfection."
Mischa@crystyl takes the dish and samples it, "Impressive"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita meanwhile taps on the console some more, and soon a second dish appears, this time in a bowl, "Vulcan plomeek soup, created with ingredients commonly used in varieties of Bajoran -
T'Lana@anncaris - Ratamba stew."
T'Lana@anncaris takes the bowl and tries a sip as well, "A very logical choice of ingredients. Though the flavour is toned down significantly from Bajoran foods, to better match the Vulcan palette. This -
T'Lana@anncaris - computer performs excellent work."
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita taps on the console to replicate a dish for herself, "The programming was largely the work of a species called the Berelli, whose development of these artificial intelligences took no -
T'Lana@anncaris - small amount of assistance from their analysis of Nuhar code. The implementation of the AI into these devices was a joint Berelli/Ditean effort, however."
Mischa@crystyl:"Nuhar AI is quite exceptional"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Indeed it is. Come, join me at the dining table," She gestures for them to follow as her dish is complete and she carries it over to the large central table
Mischa@crystyl takes her food and sits
T'Lana@anncaris takes a seat as well, slowly sipping her soup
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "So, now that we have our dinner, we may discuss business if you so desire."
Mischa@crystyl:"Well that is the purpose of our visit, after all. You already know what we seek, or has that not been shared with you?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "You seek one of the Bajoran orbs which you believe to be on Cardassia. I can only assume you mean the Orb of Endings."
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "You are aware of its history, yes?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Not all of it, certainly. But I know enough about it's associated prophecy to see it's connection to now"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Then you can likely surmise the reason it was brought to Cardassia. There were those on Bajor who believed the Orb would bring about the end of their civilization, and that keeping it -
T'Lana@anncaris - in our hands would save their world."
Mischa@crystyl:"Obviously now we know better, so do you keep it here as part of your collection?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "We did, when the Orb was first given to us. But in addition to the prophecy, there is a...curse, for lack of a better term, on that artifact as well."
Mischa@crystyl:"I have heard rumours of this, but see no basis for them so far"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "They are more than rumours. The Orbs allow for communication with the Bajoran Prophets, but they are more than just communication devices. They are forged with a fragment of a -
T'Lana@anncaris - Prophet's being, and thus holds power onto themselves. The essence held within that Orb is particularly...vindictive."
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Those it deems unworthy of handling it are marked with a negative psionic aura. Such an aura attracts misfortune and other, darker things, and those marked frequently meet with an -
T'Lana@anncaris - untimely end. We possess Magos capable of removing such auras, but we deemed it unfitting to keep such an artifact within the galleries of Dite."
Mischa@crystyl:"Understandable. However with all of the other orbs now gone, this one is our only choice"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Fortunately for you, the Orb /is/ still upon Cardassia. Unfortunately, it is housed within the Halls of Ha'ade."
Mischa@crystyl:"And why is that so unfortunate?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "Few Diteans ever feel the calling to devote themselves to the teachings of Ha'ade, for the Lord of the Dead could not be further from the domains of our Goddess. Those who do are -
T'Lana@anncaris - typically Magos whose exploration into the arcane have twisted them into a...grim view of the universe. We call them Dark Magos, and above all the other orders they live the furthest apart -
T'Lana@anncaris - from conventional Ditean society, called upon only in times of crisis. In recent days we have sought their council far more often than we would like. But even then, they do not follow the -
T'Lana@anncaris - conventions of typical Diteans. You will have to convince them to relinquish the artifact. And the Keepers of the Keys are not easily convinced."
Mischa@crystyl:"Well, it is a direction for us to pursue at least so thank you for that"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita: "I will provide you with directions to the Halls of Ha'ade, but it is a dark place. Please, do finish your meals and enjoy your time here in the museum first."
Mischa@crystyl:"Of course, thank you"
T'Lana@anncaris:| After finishing their meal at the museum, Mischa and T'Lana materialize on the opposite side of an old stone bridge leading into a deep and dark valley. Immediately upon materializing, Mischa -
T'Lana@anncaris:- (and Leona) get an uneasy feeling. Whether it's the psychological effect of the area's appearance or something deeper that Leona is picking up on is unclear...
Mischa@crystyl:rubs her shoulder, "I know, I don't like this place either"
T'Lana@anncaris:raises a brow, "It does seem rather unsettling, but we have been to far more disturbing places than this."
Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps. But something about it is unsettling Leona. Considering these are Diteans, we may be dealing with a far more nefarious psionic presence. Stay sharp"
T'Lana@anncaris:nods, "Understood, Captain."
T'Lana@anncaris:| As they proceed into the valley, they find it far less livelier than the rest of the planet. There is vegetation growing, but most of it is either ancient or gnarly or small, frail and otherwise -
T'Lana@anncaris:- sickly looking. The only life present seems to be insects and other little critters. There is no sound save for the rustling of leaves and the buzzing of bugs. No bird song or cries of any larger -
T'Lana@anncaris:- animals. Fortunately, the path through this area is rather clear as a tiled road leads the way
T'Lana@anncaris:"This is quite contrary to the civilization known for being open, charming and harnessing solar energy as their primary power source."
Mischa@crystyl:"Something of a 'dark heart' no doubt. I wonder if it's a natural segment of their society, or a spur which has formed as a result of their involvement here"
T'Lana@anncaris:"An interesting question. The Diteans must assimilate characteristics from those they take over, much like the Borg. After all, they seek procreation with other species to improve themselves using -
T'Lana@anncaris:- new genetic material. Perhaps the darker aspects of Cardassian society has affected them after all; they simply keep it buried away here while they transformed the rest of the world into a -
T'Lana@anncaris:- utopian paradise."
Mischa@crystyl:nods, "This whole setup doesn't exactly align with their projected image. I'm actually quite surprised they were so willing to let us see this side of things"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Well, they did seem to try to show us the more appealing part of their society first. I suspect the entire trip to the museum was unnecessary; I find it unlikely that the Periarch could access -
T'Lana@anncaris:- data on the Orb and yet did not know it was no longer being stored within the gallery."
Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed. I also got the impression that they can communicate with the ones here, so this whole expedition may also be entirely unnecessary"
T'Lana@anncaris:"Indeed. But with the vessels they have at their disposal, I do not believe this is a trap. If they wished to harm us, there would be far simpler ways to do so. Perhaps they simply possess a flair -
T'Lana@anncaris:- for dramatics, which would align with everything else we have seen of their culture."
Mischa@crystyl:"A distinct possibility..."
T'Lana@anncaris:| As they continue down the path, they find themselves at the bottom of a deep ravine. Amidst the vegetation, a camouflaged creature begins to stir...
Mischa@crystyl:readies her phaser, "This was not a planned part of the tour..."
T'Lana@anncaris:| The creature turns to observe the two, but it doesn't seem to make any move to attack. As it observes, a bipedal figure in a black robe appears, holding a bident just like the similar figure Sin -
T'Lana@anncaris:- encountered in our own reality. The creature lowers its head and the black-robed Ditean runs her hand along one of its horns gently, as if the large beast was a pet
Mischa@crystyl:holsters her weapon again, "I'm glad I didn't have to do anything there"
T'Lana@anncaris:| The black-robed Ditean approaches Mischa and T'Lana after petting the creature, "It is common practice to have a Guardian of Gaia protecting the entrance to the Halls of Ha'ade, as Ha'ade himself -
T'Lana@anncaris:- frequently made use of such sentries. We do not usually receive many off-world visitors. What brings you to the Halls?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Long story short, they guys in town sent us this way to find the Orb of Endings"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Ditean: "So that is why you have come. Yes. The Darkness descends upon this region. The time is soon upon us."
Mischa@crystyl:"Then you understand, good. So can you take us to where it is?"
T'Lana@anncaris:| Ditean: "I will take you to the Keepers of the Keys. They will speak to you further about this."
Mischa@crystyl:"That will do nicely, thank you"
T'Lana@anncaris:| The Ditean turns to lead the way. The spiked creature takes a step back, but its head leans forward as Mischa and T'Lana pass by it, almost like a dog sniffing a stranger
T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa and T'Lana are led into an entrance built into one side of the ravine. Upon stepping inside, they immediately recognize that this is some sort of old Cardassian facility which has been -
T'Lana@anncaris - repurposed by the Diteans. They enter a lift which takes them up a short distance before they exit out into a large chamber with numerous Cardassian consoles throughout
T'Lana@anncaris:"I suspect this used to be an intelligence analysis station, perhaps a black site."
Mischa@crystyl looks around, "More than likely. It's got that Obsidian Order feel to it. Don't ask how I know..."
T'Lana@anncaris raises a brow but before she can comment, another three Diteans dressed in the same garb as the one who led them in here steps out. Their guide gestures to them, "May I present, the Keepers of -
T'Lana@anncaris - the Keys."
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 1: "And who might you be?"
Mischa@crystyl nods, "I am Captain Mischa Leveson-Scott, and this is Commander T'Lana"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 2: "Welcome to the Halls of Ha'ade. We do not typically receive visitors, and those who do come always have business to attend to."
Mischa@crystyl:"And we are no different. It is the Orb of Endings that brings us here"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 3: "Of course. The Orb of Endings. The Time of Ending is upon Bajor. The Orb must return."
Mischa@crystyl:"You... want it returned to Bajor?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 2: "It is not our artifact. Whether it returns does not concern us. But the Prophets of Bajor wish for it to be returned, and to deny the will of such beings is often unwise."
Mischa@crystyl:"You have spoken with the Prophets on this then"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 1: "We have not. A member of our order has before our time, and that knowledge was passed down to us."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see, so we are dealing with the prophecy of a prophecy then?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 2: "Not quite. Our more recent communication with the Prophets could have provided more insight into this original prophecy than what the Bajorans have passed down from far more -
T'Lana@anncaris - generations prior."
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 1: "Tell me, what do you know of the Orbs, and this Orb in particular?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Then if it is not too much trouble, I would very much like to hear what you know of this Orb and it's prophecy since my knowledge is somewhat limited"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 2: "Are you aware that the Orbs are created with portions of the Prophets' own energy, and the power they hold is essentially a small shard of a Prophet itself?"
Mischa@crystyl nods, "I understand the principle behind them, though I can't say I fully comprehend the science of it all. But then, I'm not sure anyone does"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 3: "The Orb of Endings is different from any other Orb. It was the first to have been created, yet one of the latest to be given to the Bajoran peoples. It was once intended for another purpose."
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 1 nods, "The Orb of Ascension."
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 3: "The patterns of history repeat itself. Just as the Progenitors disagreed on the path to ascension, the Prophets fought among themselves. Those who lost were cast out, imprisoned -
T'Lana@anncaris - within the Fire Caves of Bajor."
Mischa@crystyl:"I am aware of the divide. I was not aware that ascension was at the core of the dispute. So what changed? It almost seems counter-intuitive that an orb of the prophets ends up being... well, wrong,-
Mischa@crystyl:- and getting repurposed"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 2: "Because this Orb was created by one of those who fell. It was not wholly corrupted, but the actions of its creator still affected the energy within the orb. It was no longer safe -
T'Lana@anncaris - for the Orb to guide the Bajorans."
Mischa@crystyl:"That makes sense. So how did it end up rebranding?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 1: "The Bajoran prophecy states that the Orb is to be returned at the end of Bajor. But it is not the Orb that the Prophets seek the return of, not precisely. It is the /power/ of the -
T'Lana@anncaris - Orb. The Orb of Endings was never meant to guide the Bajorans. It was meant for someone else. It was meant for the Pah-Wraiths."
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 3: "When the Darkness swallows Bajor, those imprisoned within will be consumed with the world. Their fallen kindred will be lost forever, converted into naught more than data for the -
T'Lana@anncaris - archive and energy for the next cycle of existence. Their personalities, their beings, their souls...gone forever."
Mischa@crystyl:"Then... why do the prophets want the orb returned to them? If it was meant for their ascension then surely it is a final means for them to escape to the temple"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 1: "It is not the Orb the Prophets wish returned. It is their lost brethren. The Orb will redeem those who may still be redeemed. The Celestial Temple of the Prophets lies beyond the -
T'Lana@anncaris - reach of the Darkness. The prison of the Fire Caves does not. For those who are willing to repent, the Celestial Temple will open its gates one final time, leaving the rest of the damned to -
T'Lana@anncaris - die with this universe."
Mischa@crystyl:"I see. Then it would seem that we are here to fulfill a part of this prophecy by delivering it back to Bajor"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 2 nods to Keeper 1, who turns and heads off deeper into the facility while he turns back to Mischa, "Bring it to the Fire Caves. The Prophets will show the imprisoned ones the error of -
T'Lana@anncaris - their ways. Then, the prophecy will be complete."
Mischa@crystyl:"Very well then"
T'Lana@anncaris | A few moments later, the first Keeper who spoke resurfaces, holding the classic Orb container
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper 2: "You Starfleet are usually people of your word, especially when it comes to aiding your own. We will entrust you with this Orb, and the responsibility of the prophecy which comes -
T'Lana@anncaris - with it."
Mischa@crystyl:"Thank you, we will make sure to do what must be done"
T'Lana@anncaris | The first Keeper offers the Orb with outstretched arms
Mischa@crystyl:takes it with a respectful bow of her head
T'Lana@anncaris | After obtaining the Orb, Mischa and T'Lana return to the Latenter, setting away the Orb in a secure storage before proceeding to the bridge
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria stands from the command chair, "Welcome back. I heard you were successful in retrieving the Orb?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, although part of me wishes we were not"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Why's that, Captain?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Because according to the 'anti-Diteans' who were holding it down there, it was originally the Orb of Ascension. That is to say, it is apparently intended as a final olive branch to the Pah-Wraiths.-
Mischa@crystyl:- Or so they tell us at least"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria widens her eyes, "Pah-Wraiths? Why would we give them an olive branch?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I can't see any good reason why they would, which is why I question everything we were told down there. Not mention questioning the thought of even trying to use it now"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "So where should we go? The wormhole, or back to Bajor?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I am undecided yet, I thought it best to first see if you have any further insights based on what we've learned down there"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria considers, "Well...the prophecy says that the Orb of Endings would be returned in the final days of Bajor. But there's a separate prophecy that says the release of the Pah-Wraiths -
T'Lana@anncaris - would bring the end of Bajor. That's usually interpreted as meaning the Pah-Wraiths are going to destroy Bajor if they were allowed to run free. But what if the two were connected?"
Mischa@crystyl:"That would seem to be implied by what we were told. I am uncertain of the details, but at some point this orb was - for want of a better term - rebranded, which could tie in with this potential link"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Perhaps it may be that the Orb was intended for the Fire Caves, but that is a significant risk. It could be safer to visit the wormhole first and see if we can just use the Orb to -
T'Lana@anncaris:- kindly ask the Prophets to let us through."
T'Lana@anncaris:"From what the Diteans tell us of the nature of this particular Orb, using it to communicate could be dangerous as well."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Since the orbs are made with the essence of their associated Prophet, this one contains the essence of a Pah-Wraith from before they were exiled"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "A difficult decision, then. Either option would be risky..."
Mischa@crystyl:"Nobody here knows your people and the Prophets better than you Victoria. I know the answers are not set in stone, but I need your understanding to make an informed decision here. What about -
Mischa@crystyl:- the potential repercussions of each route?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria considers, "Well if the Prophets aren't pleased with us bringing the Orb to the gateway, chances are they just won't open it. But there have been cases of the wormhole allowing ships -
T'Lana@anncaris - in and displacing them when they emerge, so if they're /really/ displeased, we could find ourselves a few centuries into the future. If we bring the Orb to the Fire Caves and it doesn't work, -
T'Lana@anncaris - the Pah-Wraiths might try to kill or possess the away team and use them to escape Bajor."
Mischa@crystyl:"Won't that also be a risk if it does work?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "I suppose so. But if they take the olive branch, maybe not..."
Mischa@crystyl:"And with your knowledge of such matters - relatively speaking - what are the chances that the Pah-Wraiths would accept an olive branch and not just take over whoever offers it? Assuming it even is -
Mischa@crystyl:- an olive branch and not an escape plan"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Normally, not very likely, but with the destruction of Bajor on the horizon anyways by the Darkness...there might be a chance. This could also be an escape plan or a trap by the -
T'Lana@anncaris - Diteans, but I don't see any reason for the Diteans to lure us into a trap, on their own or in cooperation with the Pah-Wraiths. It just doesn't benefit /them/ in any way. It's not like the -
T'Lana@anncaris - Cardassians back during the war, the Diteans already control this region, Starfleet's pulled back through the wormhole already, if anything, releasing the Pah-Wraiths will just hurt /them/ -
T'Lana@anncaris - seeing how they're the established power here."
Mischa@crystyl:"True. My concern is more that it is an escape plan set by the Pah-Wraiths, and could potentially endanger the Prophets - and Ascended Bajorans - now residing within the Temple"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "I'm sure the Prophets would keep the temple closed if the Pah-Wraiths were freed against their wishes, though maybe with the Orb, they'll have a means to gain access. It may be -
T'Lana@anncaris - a danger, you're right..."
Mischa@crystyl:"If we assume the worst case, what can we do to safeguard an away team at the Fire Caves?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Against the power of the Pah-Wraiths, I'm not sure there is much we could do. Maybe it'll be a good idea to use the Orb, hear the information first-hand. Assuming the Prophets are -
T'Lana@anncaris - willing to commune."
T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I concur. The Bajoran prophecies have been passed down for countless centuries and may be unreliable, and we do not know how trustworthy the Ditean account is."
Mischa@crystyl nods, "Then I will do so. But I would like you and Buena present as a minimum, just in case"
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "I'll inform Buena of what to expect, Captain."
T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa, T'Lana and Victoria proceed down to the secure storage where the Orb is being held. Buena awaits them outside the entrance
T'Lana@anncaris | Buena: "So we're using the Bajoran Orb, then?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, and before you tell me off; I'm well aware and I don't like it any more than you do"
T'Lana@anncaris | Buena: "I'll monitor you closely, then. Is it true that this particular orb is more...sinister?"
Mischa@crystyl:"Potentially. The reason I am doing this is because we just don't know for sure, and any other means of finding out would only expose others - potentially many others - to the risk"
T'Lana@anncaris | Buena nods, "I understand." She taps the panel and the door to the storage opens. "Good luck, Captain."
Mischa@crystyl gives a faint smile, "Thanks Bee" glancing to TL & Victoria, "Well, see you ladies on the other side" and heads in
T'Lana@anncaris | The Orb case rests on a pedestal within the small room
Mischa@crystyl approaches, taking a moment to consider it before reaching out to open it up
T'Lana@anncaris | The case opens, revealing the Orb within. This one glows a deep red...
Mischa@crystyl looks into the orb, waiting to see what happens
T'Lana@anncaris | The red light of the orb pulses, washing over her vision. When the light fades, her vision feels slightly hazy...
T'Lana@anncaris steps into the room behind her, "Who are you? Why do you seek us?"
Mischa@crystyl:"I am surprised you do not know who I am through this connection. As for why I seek you, that depends on who you are"
T'Lana@anncaris:"You are corporeal. We have encountered many like you. It is not you we are interested in."
Mischa@crystyl smiles at that, "Well, don't hold back on account of my feelings. So who /are/ you interested in, the Pah-Wraiths?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa's vision suddenly changes, and she finds herself on a plaza of the Bajoran capital. Beside her stands Leona in her full dragon form. T'Lana, Victoria, Melita and one of the Keepers -
T'Lana@anncaris - gather around them
T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria-Prophet points to Leona, "Her."
Mischa@crystyl looks to Leona, "Of course. Well she does not speak, but we are as one so I-"
Mischa@crystyl | Leona: "I can speak for myself here"
T'Lana@anncaris | Melita-Prophet: "You are not corporeal. Where do you come from?"
T'Lana@anncaris | Keeper-Prophet: "Why are you bonded to this corporeal being?"
Mischa@crystyl | Leona: "You know of the corporeals, so let me explain through their comprehension..."
Mischa@crystyl | Leona closes her eyes and a moment later emits a pulse of light. At least, that's how Mischa sees it through her inferior corporeal eyes. But in that flash, she shares with the others knowledge -
Mischa@crystyl:- of her realm and her connection to Mischa
T'Lana@anncaris | The Prophets all nod in unison. There is another flash as they share knowledge of their realm and the current affairs to Leona, and Leona would come to understand that the Ditean Keepers were -
T'Lana@anncaris - telling the truth and have the correct interpretation of events. Now that the majority of Bajorans have ascended, the Prophets' perspective has been proven right, and they seek to give their -<