Just as the Valley Forge prepares to continue it's rimward journey, an urgent message from allied forces calls them back Terminu with the grim news that the refugee world has fallen to the Horde...
NPC@annpc#5570 FX | It has been two more days since the Architect saved Eva with his procedure and revealed his knowledge on the Horde. Keelah works quietly in the ready room when Yellow Alert suddenly kicks in. NPC@annpc#5570 <C - Vrolmacht> "Captain to the bridge." Keelah@crystyll emerges a moment later, making for her seat, "Report" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "Our readings indicate that one of the disabled vessels have repaired their warp drive and are powering up. I have the target locked and weapons ready." Keelah@crystyll: "Are we in tractor range?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Fisher: "No, but we'll make it in range before they power up." NPC@annpc#5570 | The turbolift doors open and Kazra steps out, pulling a McCoy and walking to stand beside Keelah's chair as she observes. Keelah@crystyll: "Then close the gap and snare them as soon as we're in range. Tee, hail them" she looks up, "Doctor. This is a rare visit" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "I had a suggestion, but it looks like we're in a bit of a situation right now. It can wait." NPC@annpc#5570 | The VF closes in to the alien ship, catching it in a tractor beam. Keelah@crystyll | TQ: "Their comm system is offline, Captain" Keelah@crystyll looks over to Vrolmacht, "Prepare a boarding party. This is an opportunity we can not afford to waste" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "Aye Captain." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "My idea might be somewhat relevant..." Keelah@crystyll looks up, "Whats on your mind, Doctor?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Well, we've cleansed Horde influence from affected patients already. If we can get a specimen under full Horde control in sickbay, I might be able to see if there's a way to free them - NPC@annpc#5570 - from control." Keelah@crystyll nods, "At the very least, we should be able to learn more about the process" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht looks up from his console, "Boarding party is ready to deploy." Keelah@crystyll nods, "Ensure they use extreme caution" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht nods, "Understood." NPC@annpc#5570 | He taps his console a few more times before announcing, "Boarding party is away." Keelah@crystyll: "Continuous monitoring. And patch in their visual feed, I want to see what's going on over there" NPC@annpc#5570 | A few seconds later, the viewscreen displays flashlights in a very dark interior. The boarding party moves unhindered for only a short while before bolts of green energy light up the halls, - NPC@annpc#5570: - and the camera shakes slightly as the team takes cover. NPC@annpc#5570 | A voice can be heard shouting, "Cease fire! We don't want to harm you!" No change in the bolts flying by can be seen. NPC@annpc#5570 | Someone else in the team yells again, "Stand down! This is your last warning!" NPC@annpc#5570 | The person the camera is on can be seen readying their phaser rifle, and a scan of the camera shows the rest of the team doing so as well. A few seconds later, there is a signal from the leader - NPC@annpc#5570: - and the team lays covering fire down the hall while two of them move ahead. The hostiles are quickly taken down. NPC@annpc#5570 | The team proceeds forward, the camera panning down with the flashlight to observe two downed enemies. They appear to be of the Riders' species, easily distinguishable by the prominent horns on - NPC@annpc#5570: - their heads, but their faces look a little different, as if mutated or perhaps hybridized with other species. Their proportions and bodily features are unnatural as well, looking overly top heavy with tumorous growths and one even displaying a clubbed hand. NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "They are stunned. We can tag one for transport to sickbay." Keelah@crystyll nods, "Sedate and secure. I don't even want to risk one seeing the inside of this ship if there's a chance it could expose us." leans over to Kazra quietly, "What do you make of that, Doctor?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "I'll need to scan them to make sure, but it looks like potential genetic augmentation or unassisted hybridization." NPC@annpc#5570 | Meanwhile on the screen, a member of the boarding party applies a hypo to one of the stunned aliens before tagging him for transport. NPC@annpc#5570 | Suddenly, a member of the team lowers their tricorder and raises their rifle again, yelling, "Contact!" The camera snaps up to see three more of the aliens looking similarly odd and - NPC@annpc#5570: - misshapen, charging at the group like feral beasts. Phaser shots quickly down them all, though one continues to crawl towards the group feebly before a follow-up shot fully stuns him. NPC@annpc#5570 | The team forms up, weapons aimed in both directions down the hall as more of the aliens appear. The team leader motions to one of the rooms as they fire and they fall back inside, taking cover - NPC@annpc#5570: - behind the doors as return fire comes from more armed enemies. NPC@annpc#5570 | As they fire, one of them speaks, audible through both the camera and the comms <C> "Hostiles converging on us from multiple directions. Request extraction." Keelah@crystyll nods over to Vrolmacht, "Get them out of there Commander" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht nods and transporter beams quickly envelop the entire team. The feed shows the inside of the transporter room for a moment before it is shut down. NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "The team has successfully been recovered, along with the tagged hostile." Keelah@crystyll: "Status of the vessel?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "They are trying to break free of the tractor lock but are unable to do so." Keelah@crystyll gives a resigned sigh, "Target their engines and fire to disable" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "Aye Captain." NPC@annpc#5570 | A second later, a phaser from the Valley Forge hits the aft of the ship. NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "The ship has been disabled again." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "I'll be in sickbay, studying the one we captured." Keelah@crystyll nods, "Nicely done. Let's hold position here for now and keep an eye on this one. I'll join you Doctor" she stands NPC@annpc#5570 FX | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjaejG-LDAQ&feature=emb_title --- NPC@annpc#5570 | Keelah and Kazra step into sickbay, where two nurses have put the captured alien onto the surgical bed. Eva is sitting on one of the regular beds, reading from a PADD. She lowers it as she - NPC@annpc#5570 - spots the two, "Captain. Doctor." Keelah@crystyll smiles, "Eva. Apologies for the disruption" she looks to the isolated surgical bed NPC@annpc#5570 | Eva smiles back, "No worries. I was just passing the time." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "I haven't noticed anything troubling from monitoring Eva. I was just coming to talk to you about discharging her from sickbay as well." Keelah@crystyll approaches the surgical bed with Kazra, "Her presence may prove advantageous" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra nods and steps over to the surgical bed, tapping on its interface while Eva hops off her bed and steps over. NPC@annpc#5570 | Eva: "I sense a...sickness in him. He is one of the Horde, isn't he?" Keelah@crystyll hangs back out of the way for now with Eva, nodding, "Correct. Be cautious sensing his mind, I don't want you putting yourself at any risk from them" NPC@annpc#5570 | Eva nods, keeping her distance as well while Kazra types. NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "His genetics is a mess. There's signs of inbreeding and hybridization done without proper assistance. No signs of artificial tampering, though. All the mutations are a hundred - NPC@annpc#5570: - percent natural." Keelah@crystyll: "Call it instinctive prejudice against the unfamiliar, but I find it hard to associate anything about this lifeform with being natural" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Well knowing what the Riders are like, they're not /supposed/ to look like this. It's the result of some kind of breeding, just not using any form of technological augmentation." Keelah@crystyll: "What else can you tell us about him?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra taps some more, "Well, the signatures we found on Horde-influenced individuals are everywhere in scans of his brain. I can't even distinguish what's supposed to be there and what's not." Keelah@crystyll: "Fascinating. That would suggest that sufficiently long term exposure to that influence can result in a complete neural rewrite?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "It seems so. I'm seeing it all over the place- the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, even the cerebellum. There's still natural brain chemistry and signals going on, - NPC@annpc#5570: - but it's so intertwined it'll be impossible to separate them. You'll have better luck fixing two people fused together by a transporter accident." NPC@annpc#5570 | Eva: "Will our procedure work on him?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Theoretically, yes. But once it's done, there's going to be barely anything of the brain left. I don't just mean he'll lose all his memories and identity. It'll affect movement, - NPC@annpc#5570: - everything. He'll just be a vegetable." NPC@annpc#5570 | Eva: "The Horde is the only thing keeping him thinking..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Pretty much. It's not like the Borg, where the control is administered by foreign sources- implants and nanites, in that case. Here...the Horde is a part of him now." Keelah@crystyll: "Corruption at his very core just as on the surface" she shakes her head in dismay NPC@annpc#5570 | Eva: "What about the Architect? Do you think he'll be able to do anything?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "I don't know how much he knows. We'll have to ask him." Keelah@crystyll: "It's worth asking at least" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra nods, "I can call him to sickbay." --- The Architect@anncarise | Earlier in the labs... Lendaria@crystyll works away, humming contentedly as she catalogues the wealth of new Preserver and unknown species data flooding the sensor arrays for days now The Architect@anncarise | The door slides open as the Architect strolls inside, looking around. Lendaria@crystyll peers up with a cheery smile, "Hello Architect! What brings ya all th'way down to mah lil' lab?" The Architect@anncarise: "I thought you may be interested in identifying other remnants of the station that may be of interest to you, now that what is urgently needed has been collected." The Architect@anncarise: "I can also offer insight into other matters should you desire it. I recall you were quite surprised upon first being introduced to me." Lendaria@crystyll beams happily, "Can y'blame me? I'd be glad for th'assistance!" Lendaria@crystyll: "I'm-a sure ya got ya share o'questions too. Wakin' up after all this time t'find ya Children now all grown up like" The Architect@anncarise nods, stepping further into the lab, "Indeed. Your people are somewhat familiar to me, though I remember you quite differently." Lendaria@crystyll: "Oh yeah?" she smiles, leaning on the console as she listens with acute interest, "How so?" The Architect@anncarise: "I have noticed a number of your people on board, possessing qualities generally deemed attractive among the Children, and if I am not mistaken, pheromones to complement?" Lendaria@crystyll smiles proudly, "No mistake. Ain't no allure in th'known galaxy like th'Orion ladies" The Architect@anncarise: "I recall some of the Children who have evolved with such attributes, but they were of a distinctly different hue. Crimson, rather than the shades of green I have seen on your people." The Architect@anncarise: "I know not whether this is the result of evolution, or if your people have merely evolved similar characteristics to those I am familiar with." Lendaria@crystyll: "Sounds like th'Operators" she taps her screen, calling up a species record with images Lendaria@crystyll: "We'se only recently discovered 'em ourselves so don't know much. But we'se seen enough to deduce th'possibility of a shared distant heritage or somethin'" The Architect@anncarise steps over, examining the image before giving a nod, "Yes. It is them whom I remember, though not by that name." Lendaria@crystyll: "It's not actually th'species' name. Jus' their spacefarin' faction. We know it t'include other species besides these folks" The Architect@anncarise: "I see. And your people, you are part of the faction this vessel belongs to?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Tha's... a lil' more complicated. Ya sure ya wanna hear all tha'?" The Architect@anncarise nods, "As you have correctly surmised, I am curious to learn of the development of the Children since my absence." Lendaria@crystyll: "Sure. Well, th'Orions are a kinda broken people" she changes the display to show a rolling history of the species The Architect@anncarise reads through the display with interest as he listens to Lennie, "Broken, how?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Several generations back, we was a proud artisan people. But tha' society were flawed in it's class system, which ultimately led t'revolt. We'se almost self destructed like most Children species did+ Lendaria@crystyll: + at some point in their history. Only, 'cos of our Pheremone influence; ours turned into a battle o' the sexes" Lendaria@crystyll: "Eventually, th'society collapsed an' regressed. Th'male subservients rose up an' evolved into a more brutish criminal society widely known as th'Syndicate" Lendaria@crystyll taps the display to show typical augmented Syndicate goons Lendaria@crystyll: "An' the women was reduced to slavery before th'most recent turn which has seen th'Syndicate all but crushed now - in no small part to how they'se keep crossin' the big galactic powers, y'know" Lendaria@crystyll: "Since then, th'Tabadi's have managed t'reform a new enlightened culture under th'old OSN banner. They'se now rallyin' support o'both males an' females to a more unified society tha's quickly grown + Lendaria@crystyll: + t'be a recognized equal to them like Starfleet. Folks like me, we'se just followed our hearts an' chose th'Federation f'our own reasons before all o'this though. Others, like them ya see on board + Lendaria@crystyll: + in other uniforms, also turned their back on th'Syndicate ways long ago. But they went a long ways away an' we found 'em livin' with th'Arshai in this region o'space" The Architect@anncarise: "An unfortunate beginning, one I have heard all too often. So your people are now spread between the new culture, the Federation and the Arshai?" Lendaria@crystyll: "We ain't so much tied t'the Federation like tha. Few individuals like mahself, just as there's some in most galactic navies. Y'could technically say th'Orion people's divided between th'Syndicate, + Lendaria@crystyll: + OSN, an' Arshai colony. Though th'Syndicate groups all but died out now, an' the others are already solid allies which I hope t'see reconcile as one body in time" The Architect@anncarise nods, "That is why you wear the colours of this vessel, while many of your brothers and sisters here do not." Lendaria@crystyll: "Yeah, I were raised by Starfleet folks - Humans really - so f'most o'mah life I knew this better than mah own people's affairs" The Architect@anncarise: "Humans. I believe I have seen a number of them on this vessel as well." Lendaria@crystyll taps again to call up the - rather more extensive - species profile, "Yeah, they make up th'majority o'this crew. O'most Starfleet crew in fairness, as they'se a foundin' race. Arguably /the/ + Lendaria@crystyll: + foundiin' race really" The Architect@anncarise nods, "How did they come to create Starfleet?" Lendaria@crystyll: "It started a few centuries back now after th'Humans developed warp travel. Their home system's close t'Vulcan - Cap'n Keelah's people - an' Andoria - CMDR Zee's, well, partially her people" The Architect@anncarise: "Ahh, and they were all involved in the founding, which is why they are more numerous on this vessel?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Them two were always at each others throats, an' th'Humans kinda... steamrolled their way into galactic affairs, strikin' a sort o'balance between all they'se encounter. Eventually, enough local + Lendaria@crystyll: + powers banded together an' formed th'Federation. Since then, more an' more species - many of 'em ya Children - have joined or allied with 'em" Lendaria@crystyll considers him briefly, "Tha's gotta pretty gratifyin' right? T'see all ya different Children startin' a find their way t'gether?" The Architect@anncarise smiles and nods, "Indeed it is. What became of the alliance formed by the Firstborn? I am told they have been...corrupted?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Th'firstborn?" The Architect@anncarise: "The first of our Children to expand to the stars. We know them as the Firstborn, though others who walked with them gave them many different names, as they did with us. Gatekeepers, based on their - The Architect@anncarise: - technology, the Slender Ones on their appearance, the Ladies of the Stars on their ability to fully harness a star's power." Lendaria@crystyll: "Aah, Iconians!" she taps, calling up their profile The Architect@anncarise smiles and nods, "Yes, them." Lendaria@crystyll: "Yeah, wha' actually went down wit' them is beyond mah security clearance. Maybe the Cap'n knows more" Lendaria@crystyll: "Wha' I do know is tha' their Empire were not unlike th'Federation at it's peak, but they kinda pissed off everyone else who eventually revolted against 'em an' drove 'em into obscurity" Lendaria@crystyll: "They brooded on th'fringe of th'galaxy f'somethin' like 200,000 years 'fore seein' this generations rise an' decidin' t'wage a war on th'galaxy. They were... pretty nasty durin' th'war. But... + Lendaria@crystyll: + somethin' happened at th'end an' they just suddenly walked away from it" The Architect@anncarise: "That is unfortunate to hear. The last I remember seeing of them, their society held great promise, the greatest among the Children that had awoken at the time." Lendaria@crystyll: "An' it were by all accounts. It's actually thanks to them - before their corruption - that we found our way out here now" The Architect@anncarise: "Ah yes, the Captain has mentioned the facility you seek, the one built to stand against the Horde advance." Lendaria@crystyll: "Not only tha', but their gateways still stand today an' it's through discoverin' one an' learnin' to active it tha' we first learned o'the place, before knowin' anything of th'Horde" Lendaria@crystyll: "So despite their eventual corruption; ya Firstborn may very well have led us down this path t'stop th'Horde" The Architect@anncarise nods and smiles, "It is good to know that their legacy guides you still, then." The Architect@anncarise: "Now, you have told me much of your people and the galaxy as it is now. It is only fair that I answer any questions you have of mine." Lendaria@crystyll: "Their legacy, an' by extension - yours" she smiles, "Oh, where t'begin wit' your people? We know so little still, even after findin' th'Archivist an' learnin' bout ya whole seedin' thing" Lendaria@crystyll: "Am sorry t'say tha' in our part of th'galaxy at least, there ain't much still standin' from you'se guys. Nothin' like this place" she calls up the image of the station, pre-battle Lendaria@crystyll: "Out 'ere though is a veritable treasure trove! But I guess wha's got me really curious is... why. I mean, why ya did th'things ya did? Why th'seedin', an' tha' horrible genetic virus t'wipe ya + Lendaria@crystyll: + Children out again?" The Architect@anncarise: "The Contingency was a desperate measure, created as a potential last resort against the Horde. I do not approve of it, and I do not believe many of my people did either." The Architect@anncarise: "The other bio-engineers created it, but I do not believe it was ever used." Lendaria@crystyll: "I'm-a just sorry th'record of it even exists. Even news o'that gettin' out to th'wrong people'd shake 'em to their cores. So wha'bout you? You'se th'Architect right; well, Architect o'wha' exactly; + Lendaria@crystyll: + ya said 'other' bio-engineers, so does tha' imply context?" The Architect@anncarise: "I am the Architect of Life. It is the name of my Identity. I do not suppose anything remains on my people's perception of self?" Lendaria@crystyll shakes her head The Architect@anncarise: "I thought not. We believe a Being consists of three parts- the Body, the Identity and the Persona. Each of the three parts has a name. The Body name is given at birth, and used until we receive an - The Architect@anncarise: - Identity. The Body is the physical form of a specific individual, and each of us has a different Body name. The Identity, as a concept, is who we are on the surface." Lendaria@crystyll: "So... Architect is ya identity name?" The Architect@anncarise nods, "The Identity became more than a concept when we discovered how to transfer knowledge and memories from one Being to another. All we know would take an entire lifetime to learn and master, - The Architect@anncarise: - leaving little time to create something of our own. So we learn only enough so that we may be evaluated for what role suits us best, and so that we have the wisdom to choose." Lendaria@crystyll: "Makes sense" she nods as she listens intently The Architect@anncarise: "When we do, we are given our Identity. The Archivist of Knowledge you spoke of is one such Identity, and our roles are usually quite clear by the Identity names. The Architect of Life is the - The Architect@anncarise: - Identity that led the project which seeded the Children, and as a result I possess the knowledge and select experience from every Architect before me." Lendaria@crystyll: "So... you actually have living memory o'codin' up our genetics?" The Architect@anncarise nods, "Yes. I do." Lendaria@crystyll smiles, "Wow... n'ever dreamed I'd-a ever be sharin' mah lab wit' someone who got tha' claim. I dedicated mah life to th'natural sciences; nothin' fancy like you'se o'course. Jus'... doin' mah part + Lendaria@crystyll: + t'help our people understand ya work really" The Architect@anncarise: "Many of the Children eventually evolved beyond my Design, as a result of various factors. But I will be happy to provide any assistance you may need in understanding life." Lendaria@crystyll: "It might make an interestin' comparison t'view current genetic samples against ya original seedin' t'get a picture o'the evolutionary variation" Lendaria@crystyll: "O'course, that'd require very specific original markers tha' I wouldn't imagine ya' got held t'memory in such detail, right?" The Architect@anncarise: "Some of it is more detailed than others. Much of the memories from the seeding is intact, for its importance of course. And what has not been passed on, I have studied mysel-" The Architect@anncarise FX | A comm sounds in the lab, <C - Kazra> "Architect, please report to sickbay." The Architect@anncarise: "Apologies. It seems I am needed elsewhere." Lendaria@crystyll smiles, "No rush! Hope everything's ok if Kazra's callin' ya" The Architect@anncarise nods, "I hope so as well. I did not anticipate any issues with Eva, but I will have to see to determine what I am being called for." The Architect@anncarise smiles, "I promise we shall continue this conversation soon." Lendaria@crystyll: "I look forward to it" The Architect@anncarise heads out to sickbay. The Architect@anncarise arrives in sickbay a minute later, looking around before his eyes set on the misshapen figure on the operating table, "Ah, that must be why I am needed." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah glances back and nods, beckoning him over, "Indeed. I assume you recognize what we are looking at here?" The Architect@anncarise nods, "I do not recognize him, but I can sense the corruption." He steps a little closer. The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "Our normal procedure to remove it won't work on him. Is there anything you know that could help?" The Architect@anncarise steps closer yet, setting a hand just above the alien's head and closing his eyes. The Architect@anncarise opens his eyes a moment later, "I am afraid he is beyond any help. The Horde has complete control of him." The Architect@anncarise | Eva: "You can't rebuild him, like you did with me?" The Architect@anncarise shakes his head, "Your mind was very much intact, but your body was damaged beyond repair. The corruption has spread too deep into his mind. He is one with the Horde now." The Architect@anncarise: "I am sorry. If my people had a procedure to free those under full Horde control, we would have used it long ago." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah nods: "Understandable, not to worry. What about his overall corruption? It has been a long time since you saw the Horde's influence, does this specimen yield any insights?" The Architect@anncarise: "The corruption still feels the same as it has always been, though the physical form is more twisted than those I have seen. The Horde have never been elegant, and breed those under their control - The Architect@anncarise: - only to create more thralls. This specimen represents the apex of their folly." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah: "What about potential weaknesses? Doctor, I know this is not your job but is there anything you can tell from this specimen which may help us defeat them, should it come to close quarters?" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "According to these readings, this one is very strong, partly to do with its species. I wouldn't recommend ever taking on one of those in close quarters if we can avoid it. If we do...I - The Architect@anncarise: - guess try not to get hit by him. I don't know if the other species will have the same traits, though." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah: "And if we need to take these guys down? You mentioned that our techniques could not be used to save them because it would leave them in a vegetative state, yes?" The Architect@anncarise: "The Horde is known for breeding certain traits and maximizing the strengths of each thrall with little care for negative drawbacks." The Architect@anncarise | Kazra nods, "That's right. We won't be able to use these techniques in the field though, it requires intricate neural-chemical manipulation." The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "If we have to fight them, I'd still suggest using phasers." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah nods, "Fair enough" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "The Architect's right about drawbacks though. All these mutations have made him freakishly strong, but he's very feeble. Almost like the opposite of a Klingon." The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "A Klingon has multiple organ redundancies and can survive injuries that would be fatal to other species. Him, his organs are barely pumping on their own. Hit him before he hits you is - The Architect@anncarise: - probably what you want to be doing." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah, "I see. So they pose a great threat if given the chance to hit, but require little effort to bring down first if you can land a shot. That at least is something" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra nods, "I'll have to see other species to know their strengths and weaknesses. From what the Architect said, we might be dealing with a lot of different variants, all bred to be better at - The Architect@anncarise - specific things with sacrifices elsewhere." --- Keliaya@anncarise | Gwi: "Captain, we have two hundred more signatures inbound from all directions!" Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "We are surrounded, Captain." Keelah@crystyll: "Red alert!" Keliaya@anncarise FX | The bridge switches to red alert. Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Should I deploy the ablative armour, Captain?" Keelah@crystyll: "Do it. Standby evasive manouvering" Keliaya@anncarise | Fisher: "Evasive maneuvering ready." Keliaya@anncarise | Gwi: "Thirty seconds to intercept..." Keelah@crystyll: "Any confirmed identity yet?" Keliaya@anncarise: "There's only one thing that can have that variety of power signatures..." Keelah@crystyll nods grimly Keliaya@anncarise FX | The motley collection of ships jumps into view on the screen in front of them, immediately opening fire. Keelah@crystyll: "Fire at will" Keliaya@anncarise | The VF returns fire at the various ships while diving into evasive maneuvers. Keliaya@anncarise | Fisher: "There's too much incoming fire!" Keelah@crystyll: "Then focus your fire and punch their lines. Prepare to warp out" Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Armour integrity dropping! 75%! 50%!" Keliaya@anncarise | The VF focuses fire on one side, trying to break out of the enemy wave... Keliaya@anncarise | T'Quila: "Captain. We are being hailed." Keelah@crystyll: "Put it through" Keliaya@anncarise | The viewscreen displays...a mirror, like the one Keelah had seen in Q's vision. In the mirror, a figure wearing a Captain's uniform walks into view... Keliaya@anncarise | The voices around her begin to drone out, as if she is transfixed on the image, finding herself unable to look away. Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Armour has failed." Keliaya@anncarise | Fisher: "...lost all helm control." Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "...breaches on decks 7, 8 and 12." Keliaya@anncarise | The closer it gets, the more Keelah realizes that it is her...but different. Warped and twisted like the creature in sickbay... Keelah@crystyll stares wide-eyed at the reflection Keliaya@anncarise | <C - T'Quila> "Bridge to Captain Se'Lai. We are receiving a message rerouted through Waystation." Keliaya@anncarise | Keelah snaps awake on her bed. Keelah@crystyll blinks herself away, breathing a little heavy from the dream. Focusing, she taps her combadge, "Patch it through down here, Tee" she moves to her desk console Keliaya@anncarise | <C - T'Quila> "Yes Captain." Keliaya@anncarise | The image of Grand Marshal Solan of the Tel'darash appears on the screen, "Captain Se'Lai. We're unable to contact you from this distance, so this is a prerecorded message updating you on the - Keliaya@anncarise - situation. We pursued the Horde vessels which split off half their number three times now to delay us." Keelah@crystyll sits back, listening intently Keliaya@anncarise | Solan: "The Horde arrived at Terminu numbering only thirteen vessels with us in close pursuit. The moment we arrived, all fifteen Guild vessels and Rider craft in orbit of Terminu turned on us, - Keliaya@anncarise: - as well as the planetary defense systems. The Nuhar believe that the Guild and Rider defenders and the entirety of Terminu's population have already succumbed to Horde control. Neither us nor the - Keliaya@anncarise: - Lupan and Nuhar that have joined us are capable of hacking into their defense system's new protection, and we are blockading the planet for the moment." Keelah@crystyll 's eyes widen at the thought; all of Terminu turned in an instant... Keliaya@anncarise | Solan: "The Lupan and Nuhar are suggesting we purge the planet. We've deployed Lander One to see if they can capture one of Terminu's residents and see if they can still be saved." Keliaya@anncarise | Solan: "You have more experience with treating Horde influence than we do. We're hoping you may be able to assist." Keliaya@anncarise | Solan: "That's all we have for now. The Lupan are eager to bombard the planet and the Nuhar are calling our deployment of Lander One a 'pointless risk.' Ambassador Oska might not be able to - Keliaya@anncarise: - keep them from destroying the planet for much longer." Keliaya@anncarise FX | The message ends. Keelah@crystyll purses her lips, staring at the black screen a moment longer before tapping her combadge, "Se'Lai to bridge" Keliaya@anncarise: <C> "Bridge here." Keelah@crystyll: <C> Kelly. What's the situation with repairs and salvage of the battlefield?" Keliaya@anncarise: <C> "Repairs are 95% complete. All essential systems are back online and we have the materials we need. As for the salvage, we've collected the pieces of most interest or use to us. There might be a - Keliaya@anncarise: - few more things we can pick up, but it'll take a lot more time of picking through debris of less value." Keelah@crystyll: "Then call off the search and engage a course for Terminu at maximum warp. You'll have to complete the rest of the repairs en route" Keliaya@anncarise: <C> "Understood Captain." Keelah@crystyll: <C> Let me know our best possible eta as soon as we get underway, and prepare for more trouble when we arrive..." Keliaya@anncarise: <C> "Yes ma'am." Keliaya@anncarise | A few moments later, Keelah's combadge chirps again. Keelah@crystyll leans hard against the desk, deep in thought as she awaits the update. tapping again when it chirps Keelah@crystyll: <C> Se'Lai Keliaya@anncarise: <C> "Captain, ETA is about 4 days at eight hour bursts of maximum warp. Minimum ETA is about three days, but we'll have to really push the engines." Keelah@crystyll: "push them as far as you reasonably can, accounting for the potential of combat manouvering on the other end" Keliaya@anncarise: <C> "We'll try get there as quickly as possible while staying combat ready." Keelah@crystyll: <C> Acknowledged Keliaya@anncarise | Keelah gets no rest as barely a minute later, the combadge chirps yet again... Keelah@crystyll groans lightly, having barely even turned from her desk, "Se'Lai" Keliaya@anncarise: <C - Kazra> "We're leaving the battlefield already?" Keelah@crystyll: <C> News travels fast... but yes, we are needed urgently back at Terminu" Keliaya@anncarise: <C - Kazra> "That doesn't sound good..." Keelah@crystyll: <C> According to our latest report, Terminu... has fallen. Allied forces are now arguing about what to do there so we're going to try and help them before it's too late for the refugees there" Keliaya@anncarise: <C - Kazra> "What about the alien already in my sickbay? We can't keep him sedated forever, with the way his body is, he'd probably die." Keelah@crystyll: <C> .....From what I understand of it, he is far beyond saving. So the best we can do for him is grant him a peaceful passing, yes?" Keliaya@anncarise | <C - Kazra> "I...suppose so. There's nothing more I can do for him, at least." Keelah@crystyll: <C> He is your patient Doctor, so I won't make it an order. If you wish to return him, then do so" Keliaya@anncarise: <C - Kazra> "I don't like it, but you're right. It's more merciful to give him a peaceful passing than return him to life with that body under the control of the Horde." Keelah@crystyll: <C> At your discretion then, Doctor. If you need anything of me, just call Keliaya@anncarise: <C - Kazra> "Will do." Keliaya@anncarise | Keelah finally gets peace, as the calls stop coming in... Keelah@crystyll moves over to the sofa, lounging back and putting her feet up Keliaya@anncarise | Outside the window, starstreaks fly past her quietly. A minute later, a door slides open and T'Pia steps in. Keliaya@anncarise | T'Pia: "Busy night mummy?" Keelah@crystyll smiles over, "No worse than usual. What about you sweetheart, fun day?" Keliaya@anncarise | T'Pia smiles and steps up to Keelah, "Lemme tell you all about it!" Keelah@crystyll: "Nothing would make me happier" she smiles again, welcoming TP with a hug as she settles --- NPC@annpc#5570 FX | Three days pass quietly at warp, and Keelah is called to the bridge as they begin to approach Terminu... Keelah@crystyll steps off the turbolift, "Report" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "ETA to Terminu is five minutes. We're reading most of the ships that departed the battlefield here. Our allies don't seem to have taken many more losses." Keelah@crystyll: "Have we been able to establish contact with them yet?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "We have. They've reported that Lander One's mission was a success and are inviting us to deploy our medical personnel to the Lander One." Keelah@crystyll: "Excellent. Tee, inform Kazra to prepare her team. They can disembark as soon as we form up with the allied fleet" NPC@annpc#5570 | TQ nods and contacts Kazra to prepare her team. NPC@annpc#5570 | Soon, Fisher announces, "Dropping out of warp now." The starstreaks form back into stars as they approach the allied ships surrounding Terminu with its defense platforms and other ships in orbit. NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "Sensors read fourteen Guild ships, eighteen Rider craft and thirteen signatures likely to be Horde vessels in orbit." Keelah@crystyll: "What a mess..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht: "The orbital defenses are online, though a few more appear to have been damaged or destroyed than last time." Keelah@crystyll: "I take it the blockade is all secure" NPC@annpc#5570 | Vrolmacht nods, "They are, Captain. There is little likelihood of Horde vessels breaking through with the current number of allies around the planet." Keelah@crystyll: "Very well then. Form up with the fleet and inform Kazra her team is clear to beam over" NPC@annpc#5570 | Fisher: "Aye Captain. Forming up now." NPC@annpc#5570 | Lennie, Kazra and several other doctors materialize on one of the Lander's many transporter pads. Commander Kayan stands in front of their pad to greet them. NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "Welcome aboard, Commander...Lendari, was it?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Close" she smiles, "Lendaria, but Lennie's jus' fine" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan smiles back, "Lennie it is, then. Come, let me show you to the medical bay." Lendaria@crystyll nods, following along with the others NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "We grabbed one by disabling a Rider craft, but we wanted samples from the planet itself, which was more tricky to pull off." Lendaria@crystyll: "Y'did well t'pull tha' off" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "Ironically, it was only thanks to the Lupan attack that it was possible at all. The defense grid was never fully repaired, so there was still a gap. By keeping their other ships and - NPC@annpc#5570: - nearby defense platforms busy, the Nuhar were able to punch a hole in the weakened area of the shields, allowing the Lander One to beam aboard several of the colonists before the shields recharged." Lendaria@crystyll: "So ya got multiple specimens? Nice" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan nods, "Four from the planet itself and one from the Rider craft. We could've recovered more, but we didn't want to fill our medbay to capacity or risk bringing too many of them in case - NPC@annpc#5570: - they broke free." Lendaria@crystyll: "Wise. We had on th'ship an' kept it fully sedated th'whole time" NPC@annpc#5570 | They enter the medical bay before long. For a ship its size, the medical area was unusually large, comparable to a sickbay on a Federation light cruiser. Even then, temporary beds had been set - NPC@annpc#5570: - up, holding most of the specimens that weren't on the surgical bed. NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "We have them sedated as well, and we have no reason to believe they'll be breaking free. But we're keeping close watch just in case," she motions to armed guards posted at both entrances. Lendaria@crystyll: "Can't be too careful wit' these things" she nods, "Well, I'll help where I can. but this's really more her show" she sidepoints to Kazra NPC@annpc#5570 | A male Kalan steps over from the medical bed. NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "This is Doctor Nakos, Head Doctor here on the Lander One." NPC@annpc#5570 | Nakos: "Pleasure to meet you." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Likewise. So, what can you tell me about the specimens so far?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Nakos: "Progression of corruption is advanced. More advanced than anything we've seen yet. I don't think they can be treated, but I always welcome a seocnd opinion from a fellow professional." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra nods and steps over to the alien on the surgical bed, who physically looks fine, unlike the specimen recovered by Valley Forge. NPC@annpc#5570 | Nakos: "Of course, we haven't tried recovering anyone under long-term Horde control yet." Lendaria@crystyll tags along, watching quietly for now as she studies their data NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra studies the data as well, "We recovered one. There's no sign of physical mutations on this one, but that's a result of long-term breeding and not directly caused by Horde control." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "Breeding? Like An breeds?" Lendaria@crystyll hands Kayan a PADD showing data on their own specimen Lendaria@crystyll: "Hope ya weren't plannin' on sleepin' tonight. If y'are, don't look at tha'" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Similar, except the Horde take a lot less care when doing so. They seem to just want to maximize their thralls' advantageous traits by any means." NPC@annpc#5570 | Nakos takes the PADD, reading it and shuddering a little, "Yes. Very...inconsiderate. Rampant mutations everywhere. I'm not sure how this specimen is still alive. They would be living in near - NPC@annpc#5570: - constant pain. Perhaps Horde influence lessens that. But very strong." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "Sounds like they're not just breeding them to be better at particular tasks like we did. They're turning people into weapons." Lendaria@crystyll: "Indeed" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra nods, "They haven't had a chance to do it here yet, but I don't think we can undo what they've already done..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "The bodies are still perfectly viable, but the neural chemistry is very advanced. Not quite as advanced as the specimen we recovered, but it's already in every part of the brain." Lendaria@crystyll: "After jus' a matter o'days?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "I don't think it's time. It can't be. I think it's distance." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Everyone else we've seen influence on- the Colonial Fleet, the USDF, none of them have actually encountered the Horde. That's why they could still be helped." Lendaria@crystyll: "So wha'bout these guys from Terminu? Wha's tha' mean f'them?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Nakos: "All the other samples here are the same. We only took them from one settlement, but there's no reason to believe any of the other settlements will be any different." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "The only question I have is why that Mirror ship didn't immediately get affected. Everything else points to distance, but that's the only thing that doesn't add up." Lendaria@crystyll: "Yeah... from wha' we'se seein' they shoulda turned almost right away" Lendaria@crystyll: "Could they've made a defense like we did?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "According to our telepaths, they had a rudimentary barrier against telepathy, but it's not like our implants. Maybe it bought them enough time, or maybe it's something else." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Whatever the case, the people of Terminu only had their defense grid against conventional dangers. As far as the Horde was concerned, they were completely unprotected." Lendaria@crystyll: "If we could implement a suitable defense, could tha' turn back th'damage done to'em?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra shakes her head, "It's already inside their head. If we give them the implant, we might cut them off from the rest of the Horde, but as the original personality and memories are already - NPC@annpc#5570: - mostly overridden. I don't know what the exact effect will be, but the only way to undo the damage would essentially involve wiping their minds." Lendaria@crystyll: "Tha's gotta be better than wipin' them outta existence" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "It's more than just memories. The procedure would clear their motor functions and bodily capabilities as well. We might be able to repair them, but at that point we're not really saving - NPC@annpc#5570: - them, but creating a new person to inhabit the body. Whoever they were before is...gone." Lendaria@crystyll shakes her head in dismay, "Then they're already as lost as tha' mutated guy we picked up..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra nods solemnly, "I can ask the Captain about implanting them now in their current state, but I'm not optimistic about the odds." Lendaria@crystyll: "All those people..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "We should report back to the Captain about our findings." Lendaria@crystyll nods, stepping away to make the call NPC@annpc#5570 | Nakos: "Thank you for the second opinion. I really wish there was something we could do, but I'm afraid they may be beyond our help now." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "The Nuhar were right. I suppose many of them have fought the Horde before after all." NPC@annpc#5570 | Nakos smiles a little, "Nothing wrong with exploring other approaches, Commander. For all we know the Nuhar may have missed something." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra meanwhile scans the other patients just to check while waiting for Lennie. Lendaria@crystyll returns a few moments later NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "What did she say?" Lendaria@crystyll: "She's understandably reluctant t'jump right into assumin' th'worst. She said if there's any chance, even remote tha' somethin' could be done; even if it means folks're reborn anew, then she wants + Lendaria@crystyll: + t'try. Suggested we attempt t'free these folks ya got on board. If it works, can figure out large scale implementation later. If it don't..." shakes her head, the unspoken words not being needed NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "I'll have an implant and some other supplies brought over here, then." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan: "We can transfer the specimens to your ship, if it would be easier." Lendaria@crystyll: "Either way, we probably wanna get th'Architect wit'us too" NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra nods, "That would be. I'm more familiar working with Federation medical technology. We just need two, one for each procedure. You can keep the other three here to study, in case - NPC@annpc#5570: - you make any breakthroughs we don't." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kayan nods, "I'll have two of them transferred over to the Valley Forge, then." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "Let's get back, inform the Architect and prepare for the procedure." Lendaria@crystyll nods, "We'se gonna find a way 'ere. We'se got to. I dunno wha' it'll do to the Cap'n if we get back t'plan B..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Kazra: "We'll do everything we can to prevent that. Come on." Lendaria@crystyll follows Kazra to hurry back and get to work --- The Architect@anncarise | Two of the five specimens are now in the Valley Forge sickbay, with Kazra, Lennie and doctors and nurses filling the area as they run tests and prepare the procedures. The Architect@anncarise steps into the busy sickbay, looking around and spotting the specimens, "More thralls. Newer ones, it seems. Yet uncorrupted on the surface." Lendaria@crystyll looks up, "Yep. Recently corrupted refugees from Terminu. We'se tryin' a find a way t'save 'em, else th'whole planet's gonna have t'be cleansed" The Architect@anncarise nods, "I am told that has been done all too often in my time." Lendaria@crystyll: "We'se got some ideas, but could use ya help tryin' t'save their minds" The Architect@anncarise steps over to one of them, putting his hand over the head again. "They have already been corrupted. I do not think their minds can be saved." The Architect@anncarise | Kazra glances over as she taps on the surgical bed where the other patient is, "Ask him about the distance theory." Lendaria@crystyll nods, "What do ya know 'bout how th'corruption spreads? Only we'd been workin' a theory o'timed exposure, but recent events suggest different" The Architect@anncarise looks back to Lennie from the specimen, "There is very little time involved for the Children. I sense the corruption in the air here, and it gnaws away at me slowly. But I know how to defend - The Architect@anncarise: - against it, and will not be at risk for some time. Due to the Failsafe we implemented in the Children, the Horde can enter your undefended minds almost instantly." The Architect@anncarise: "The backdoor makes any Children close to their corruption easily susceptible to control." Lendaria@crystyll: "Wait, ya can feel it 'ere? Now? Because they'se here?" she points to the specimens, "So it really is a proximity thing" The Architect@anncarise nods in response. Lendaria@crystyll: "Any theories 'bout tha' alternate universe crew then from wha' ya saw o'em? Only, by this theory they shoulda been turned easily too" The Architect@anncarise: "The alternate universe crew? Are they the ones much like you, the ones who awakened me?" Lendaria@crystyll nods, "Yeah, tha's them" The Architect@anncarise: "Originating from a parallel universe...that would explain why they were so...off. They are not our Children. They may be the Children of our equivalents in their universe, but we did not create them. The Architect@anncarise: "Our equivalents must not have created a backdoor. They would still be susceptible to the Horde given time, but they will not be dominated as easily as you." Lendaria@crystyll: "Damn... lucky break f'them I guess. Maybe it'd be th'other way round in their universe, like, maybe there is a backdoor that'd effect them, but not us" The Architect@anncarise nods, "That is certainly a possibility. But what that backdoor is, neither I nor the Horde are aware of, and it cannot be exploited if it is not known." The Architect@anncarise: "If there be a Horde in their universe, then they would be susceptible, and you would only be influenced over time." Lendaria@crystyll: "Anyways. Theorizin' aside, what's ya thoughts on our patients?" The Architect@anncarise: "Like the one before, their minds are beyond saving. Their bodies are in better shape, but bodies alone are nothing but vessels." Lendaria@crystyll: "What're our options?" The Architect@anncarise: "The bodies can be saved, but they are of little use unless there is another situation like Eva where one has damaged their body but maintain an intact mind." The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "What about rebuilding the brains after the procedure and resuscitating them then?" The Architect@anncarise: "They will be an empty shell, a newborn in an old body. They may be able to relearn and live what life remains in their bodies, but they will not be the same being they were before." Lendaria@crystyll: "Tha's a better option than' jus' gettin' wiped out, ain't it?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Cap'n said she's willin' t'explore th'possibility at least. Either way, their lives as they was're over, right? So would it be so bad if they got whole new ones as a fallback?" Lendaria@crystyll: "We can look at subliminal suggestion programmes t'accelerate guided education for 'em. Cap'n herself did a similar thing f'her daughter usin' mind melds" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "And the Arshai have them too for their clones." Lendaria@crystyll: "Yeah, so we'se got tech solutions to tha' side of th'problem" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra nods, "We have the implant in the first specimen. We can wake her up and see what happens." Lendaria@crystyll looks over, "This's all you're show, Doc. I'm-a just here t'get in th'way" she smiles The Architect@anncarise | Kazra takes a hypo from a nurse and injects it before stepping back. The Architect meanwhile steps forward curiously. The Architect@anncarise | The specimen's eyes flutter a few times before snapping open. She looks around her with a frightened gaze before trying to break free of the bed. The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "It's alright. We're not here to harm you. We're trying to help." The Architect@anncarise | The specimen struggles more violently, screaming in an almost feral noise. Lendaria@crystyll: "As we feared..." The Architect@anncarise: "The Horde is still inside her. You have merely cut her off from the others, reducing the joined mind to a single, primal beast." Lendaria@crystyll: "We'se gotta purge tha' corruption first" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra sighs and pushes a button. The specimen's struggle becomes more and more feeble before stopping. The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "I guess it's onto the second procedure." --- The Architect@anncarise | Twelve hours later, Keelah is called down to the sickbay... Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah wanders in a short time later, looking around, "What is the situation?" The Architect@anncarise and Lennie are still in sickbay, along with a very tired looking Kazra sitting on the chair closest to the surgical bed, still wearing a red surgical gown. The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "Good news and bad news. You know the routine already." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah: "As do you Doctor; bad first" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "The procedure took three surgeons, two surgical techs and four nurses almost nine hours to perform on a single patient. And Terminu has a population of two million..." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah stands, hands folded at her back at she listens The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "The good news is that it worked. And now that we know what we're doing, we might be able to cut it down to a single surgeon, an assistant and two to four nurses and techs in four hours." The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "But that's still a lot of operating for two million people. Maybe Nuhar drones can help, but I wouldn't trust the Lupan to cut a steak with care, so that just leaves us and the An." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah: "What about mental faculty?" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "We haven't woken her yet, but we've had to repair some of the brain, even implant a few positronic replacements. They should be fully functioning individuals once they relearn - The Architect@anncarise: - everything, but right now she's just a blank slate. We're going to need relearning technology on top of the procedure to make them functioning people again, but it can be done." The Architect@anncarise looks to Keelah, "If my understand is correct...Terminu was a refuge for those fleeing the Horde." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah looks more closely at the patient, clearly considering the options, "You are correct. It represnted a beacon of hope to everyone fleeing the Horde. Maybe that's why I'm so reluctant to give+ Lendaria@crystyll + up on it so easily..." The Architect@anncarise: "As your doctor stated, it is not feasible to perform such a complicated procedure on such a large population. But there are many of my Children on Terminu who may be the last of their kind, with - The Architect@anncarise: - the rest of their brethren having already fallen to the Horde. I suggest we prioritize those so that their peoples may continue to live on. The rest...we will have to see." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah: "We can reach out to the Arshai for help as well. With their resources and technical knowledge, they may be in a position to offer longer term support" Lendaria@crystyll: "Maybe if they can get enough local folks recovered, they can teach those how t'recover th'rest" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra: "We could, but the Regulators didn't allow us to give the implants to the Arshai. They're at just as much risk as Terminu's inhabitants." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah: "It's worth exploring at the very least, even if just for partial support. Maybe the An will be positioned to assist as well" The Architect@anncarise | Kazra nods, "I'm fairly sure the An will be willing to assist, but we'll have to give them the implants after cleansing the corruption, otherwise they'll just immediately fall back into Horde - The Architect@anncarise: - control. Either way, I think we should talk to our resident Analyst." Lendaria@crystyll | Keelah: "Agreed. We've proved the concept now, but this decision is too big for us to arbitrarily decide for everyone. We'll convene a briefing with all parties to decide how to proceed. Together" --- The Architect@anncarise | Shortly afterwards, even the largest conference room on the Valley Forge is completely packed. Keelah sits at the end of the table with select members of the Valley Forge senior crew standing - The Architect@anncarise - behind her. The Architect, Mana, Lexi, Vulture and Luthril are seated at one side of the table, with the four Tel'darash leaders of the An expedition occupying the other seats. Three Lupan Zealot - The Architect@anncarise: - Alphas kneel at the other end of the table, and the diminutive avatar of the Unwavering Defender, the huge avatar of the Gallant Defender and the holo-Lupan that represents Relentless Hunter - The Architect@anncarise - stands on the side away from the windows. Keelah@crystyll looks around the gathered group, "Quite the gathering indeed. Thank you all for your attendance on such short notice. I assume first, that you have all been brought up to speed on the Terminu + Keelah@crystyll + situation?" Keelah@crystyll: "Good. Then you all understand our position in this, and why the decision is too big for any one of us to make alone. What we decide here won't just impact the future of Terminu and it's inhabitants;+ Keelah@crystyll: + but all refugees of the Horde, and the very balance of this Sector. So with that said, does anyone have anything they want to voice up front on this matter?" The Architect@anncarise | Gallant Defender: "The Vanguard has always purged corrupted worlds in the past. While we are aware of methods to cleanse the corruption, it would be like uploading a new program into a shell. - The Architect@anncarise: - They are already gone, and such methods have only been used by the Progenitors to save the last members of a species so they may be relocated and repopulate." The Architect@anncarise nods, "As I understand it, that is where the Identity of the Preserver of the Imperiled was first created, the name by which you know my people now." Keelah@crystyll: "It is Terminu's nature that we are considering this for. As it may well be home to some of those who are the last of their species. The method is time consuming, and limited in it's results. The + Keelah@crystyll: + question here is whether or not there is a consensus to be found in jointly making that investment here" The Architect@anncarise | Solan: "We wish to save everyone we can, but while our Mothership has a number of doctors to tend to the expedition's population, it'll still take significant time to perform this prodecure on - The Architect@anncarise: - all of Terminu." Keelah@crystyll: "That is indeed true. It is possible that with sufficient training and education, the reborn residents could be given the ability to recover the rest of the population themselves, thus reducing the + Keelah@crystyll: + outside support over time" The Architect@anncarise | Alpha 1: "We are warriors, not healers. It would be safer to raze this world, but we cannot be affected by the Horde, so the risk is to you. If you wish to try and save them, we will not stop - The Architect@anncarise: - you, but first we will have to break past the defenses in either case." The Architect@anncarise | Paval nods, "He's right, but we already have a plan to bring down the defense grid, and they don't have many ships in orbit, so it'll be easy as long as the grid is down." The Architect@anncarise | Vulture: "As I understand it, the procedure completely erases their memories and identity. In order for them to perform the procedure on their own, they will have to be re-taught everything - The Architect@anncarise: - first, from movement to speech." Keelah@crystyll: "Indeed. But there are those with the capacity to accelerate that process" The Architect@anncarise | Mana: "Captain Keelah refers to the Arshai?" Keelah@crystyll nods, "Among others. But your people are certainly the best positioned to act promptly here" The Architect@anncarise | Mana: "Mana can ask the Colonial Fleet for assistance, but the Colonial Fleet do not have the Valley Forge's defenses against the Horde." Keelah@crystyll: "The challenge here is far too great to ask of any one group even in the best of circumstances, let alone when facing the Horde threat as well. That is why we are all here, because the only way this + Keelah@crystyll: + has a chance to work is from a joint effort" The Architect@anncarise | Vulture: "I will speak to the Administration about altering the rules of sharing this technology in the present circumstances, but they may not listen to the word of a single Analyst. Having - The Architect@anncarise: - seen the situation here, I believe the circumstances can call for an alteration, and will do what I can to persuade my superiors." Keelah@crystyll nods, "That would certainly be helpful. I appreciate that few of us actually sitting here now may be in a position to speak for our respective peoples. But if we at least can reach an agreement on a+ Keelah@crystyll: + preferred course action, then we could put that to our superiors to decide" The Architect@anncarise | Aloka: "The Arshai use limited anounts of genetic engineering, don't you?" The Architect@anncarise | Mana nods, "The New World Arshai do not use natural procreation and some amount of artificial selection is done in the process." The Architect@anncarise | Aloka looks to Solan, who gives a nod, and she turns her gaze back to Mana, "We can give you our defense method. The risks should not affect your people if you no longer use natural procreation - The Architect@anncarise: - to begin with." The Architect@anncarise | Mana: "Mana can pass on the method to the New World and inform the Supreme Commander of the need for assistance here. Mana believes the Supreme Commander will dispatch at least a few vessels to - The Architect@anncarise: - assist, though Mana does not know how much this will expediate the process overall." The Architect@anncarise: "I think it would be wise to focus on the imperiled species first. Over time, we can teach them to free the others, but in the worst case, we will at least have saved these peoples from extinction." Keelah@crystyll: "Something is better than nothing. Am I to take from this overall tone that the general impression here is for us to make an effort to recover Terminu?" The Architect@anncarise | Mana, Vulture and Luthril nod. The Architect@anncarise | Solan: "We are, but the problem is that saving the last of a species means nothing if we use our method to shield them from the Horde and risk sterilizing them." The Architect@anncarise | Solan: "And if we do not protect them at all, we will have to carry them to somewhere without Horde influence before performing the procedure, which will require prolonged trips." Keelah@crystyll: "What about redeploying our current measures in a new format? We have successfully used the principle to disrupt the effect of a ship at range" Keelah@crystyll: + Keelah@crystyll: "After all, we are talking about establishing Terminu as a protected neutral world here. So with long term presence from this committee at the very least to watch over the world, it would not be + Keelah@crystyll: + beyond reason to consider technological implementations that we could not normally look at. Such as redeploying the planet's defense satellite grid to create a self sustaining barrier, as our + Keelah@crystyll: + deflector pulse managed to do" The Architect@anncarise | Vulture shakes her head, "The barrier will not hold for long and will only serve as a temporary measure. Implants or genetic augmentation are the only viable solutions. The Administration has - The Architect@anncarise: - explored all alternatives. We must convince the Administration to allow distribution of the implant, or the plan will not work." Keelah@crystyll: "Then perhaps we need to explore that option first. Similarly with the Arshai for educational support. Then - once we have those answers - we can reconvene to look at more detailed plans" The Architect@anncarise | Vulture nods, "I will contact the Administration immediately, then." The Architect@anncarise | Unwavering Defender: "What of the Horde defenses? They will not break our blockade, but it may still be prudent to deal with them soon." Keelah@crystyll nods, "We have seen for ourselves what becomes of those who live as the Horde. As grim as it may be, I am inclined to believe that the best we can do for them now is to end their suffering" The Architect@anncarise | Solan nods, "We'll execute our plan to bring down the defense grid and destroy the Horde ships then. With our numbers. we should be able to disable the recently turned Guild ships that may - The Architect@anncarise: - still be saved." The Architect@anncarise | Solan: "We'll reconvene once we have an answer from the Regulators and have dealt with the defenses, then." --- Keliaya@anncarise FX | Shortly after the meeting, Keelah returns to the bridge as the allied ships form up to take out the Horde defenses. Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "The An are using the same plan they used to extract the specimens. Other allied ships will distract the Horde and defense platforms while the Defenders quickly blast a hole through - Keliaya@anncarise - the planetary shields at the weak point. Lander One and two Recon Ships will enter through the breach and beam explosives to the defense grid control room and several of its power generators." Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "They want us to keep the orbital platforms near the weak point busy, as our armour makes us one of the more durable vessels." Keelah@crystyll nods, "Let's get this over with" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie: "Cap'n, got another ship inbound on long range sensors. Tryin' a get an ID now" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie: "Looks t'be a light cruiser at least" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie: "No match for recognized Horde configurations" Keelah@crystyll: "Tee, try hailing them" Keelah@crystyll | TQ: "Putting it through now" Keliaya@anncarise FX | An unknown alien appears on the viewscreen: https://i.imgur.com/3GsWXwO.jpg Keliaya@anncarise | Alien: "You are of the Children. How have you not fallen under the control of the Horde?" Keelah@crystyll: "We have ways of defending against that influence. I do not believe we have had the pleasure, I am Captain Se'Lai of the Valley Forge" Keliaya@anncarise | Alien: "Impressive. I am Tanadar of the Guardians. It has been a long time since we have seen so many Nuhar in one place. I take it by the arrangement of the ships that Terminu has fallen?" Keelah@crystyll: "So you are the Guardians we have heard so much about? I was hoping we would get the chance to meet in good time, though did not expect it here. What brings you all the way back to Terminu, if I may + Keelah@crystyll: + ask?" Keliaya@anncarise | Tanadar: "We have been tracking this group for some time, but we were unable to warn Terminu due to the meddling of Lupan packs in the region. I fear we are too late now." Keelah@crystyll: "It is true the Terminu has fallen. However we have a plan to recover it's population, once the remaining Horde forces are dealt with" Keliaya@anncarise | Tanadar: "If it has fallen, its population is as good as dead. You have the numbers for the moment. The planet must be purged before the enemy can amass their forces and integrate the new - Keliaya@anncarise: - thralls into the Horde." Keelah@crystyll: "They are as good as dead. But are only recently corrupted and still with a chance to be reborn. It is the consensus of all you see present in this system that they are worth saving" Keliaya@anncarise | Tanadar: "Perhaps, but the Horde is restless, and they far outnumber you. If you have them pinned here, they are already preparing greater numbers to drive you away. We do not have the luxury - Keliaya@anncarise: - of time. With every victory the Horde's numbers swell even further. If we have a chance to deny them their thralls, we must seize it while we still can." Keelah@crystyll: "they will be denied. We are about to purge the Horde presence here, once they are gone the population can be safely restored" Keliaya@anncarise | Tanadar: "The rest of the population /is/ the Horde presence now. The enemy lives in them. They must be purged." Keelah@crystyll: "Please, there is a lot here for you catch up on. Why don't you meet with the fleet leadership here so that we may discuss things properly?" Keliaya@anncarise | Tanadar: "Do not presume you know what you are doing. We have fought the Horde for countless centuries. It is our duty to strike at them when we can. If you will not purge the planet, we shall." Keliaya@anncarise FX | The call cuts. Keelah@crystyll sighs, "This is not something we want to be getting into a fight with people over..." Keelah@crystyll: "Update the fleet. Let's see what everyone else has to say" Keelah@crystyll | TQ: "The Lupan shockingly don't care either way. The An and Nuhar both stand by the plan" Keelah@crystyll: "And the others?" Keelah@crystyll | TQ: "Everyone else seems to be sticking with it too" she beams Keelah@crystyll perks a brow, "Very well then. Tee, signal the Guardian vessel that this armada stands by the decision to salvage Terminu and will not allow them to purge. They are welcome to work with us of course+ Keelah@crystyll: + in purging the active Horde presence, but the planet is protected" Keliaya@anncarise FX | The Guardian vessel simply jumps out of warp, hanging behind the blockade. It does not respond. Keelah@crystyll | TQ: "No response, but the An are signalling ready to commence the attack" Keelah@crystyll: "Then let's get this done before the Guardians change their mind. Signal the fleet to proceed" Keliaya@anncarise | The allied ships proceed towards the planet ahead... Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Armour generators are ready to deploy." Keelah@crystyll: "Do it. Engage the defenses" Keliaya@anncarise | The ablative armour envelops the Valley Forge as they approach the planet in formation. The orbital defenses fire, causing the bridge to rock slightly. Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Armour holding at 90%." Keliaya@anncarise FX | Two thick red beams hit the gap between the defense platforms near the Valley Forge, and the shielding in the area flickers before failing. Keliaya@anncarise | The bridge shakes a little again. Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Armour integrity at 80%. Lander One and Recon ships are moving into position." Keelah@crystyll: "Make sure to keep those platforms focused on us" Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht nods and the VF phasers return fire on several of the platforms, not destroying them but merely getting their attention as multiple platforms continue firing. Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Armour at 70%." Keliaya@anncarise | The bridge rocks steadily under the incoming fire before they see a series of detonations on the surface. The entire planetary shield flickers and disappears and the turbulence stops as the - Keliaya@anncarise: - orbital defenses shut down. Keelah@crystyll: "So far so good" Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "The defense grid is down." Keliaya@anncarise FX | There is a flicker at the edge of the viewscreen... Keelah@crystyll | Lennie: "The Guardian vessel has jumped into orbit!" Keelah@crystyll narrows her eyes, "Were they just waiting for us to drop the defense grid before attempting to purge the planet, or are they coming to assist with the Horde forces...?" Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "They are charging weapons and locking on to the surface settlements!" Keelah@crystyll: "Signal the nearest allied vessels to intercept and disable" she scowls Keliaya@anncarise | Two of the Nuhar ships open fire and the Guardian ship goes into evasive. One of the beams still manages to graze it however, but it doesn't let up, continuing towards the planet. Keliaya@anncarise | A full spread of torpedoes emerges from it...when the Lander One and the two Recon ships decloak, shooting down the torpedoes and continuing to fire, disabling the forward weapons of the ship. Keliaya@anncarise | The Guardians still don't relent, trying to turn to its side when the An ships lock it in a three-way tractor beam. Keliaya@anncarise | Suddenly, both Nuhar ships around it turn as two Horde ships and one of the corrupted Guild vessels turn the corner, opening fire. Keliaya@anncarise | The Nuhar quickly disable the Guild ship, and combined fire from the An ships take out one of the Horde vessels and shear through the deck plating of the second... Keliaya@anncarise | When it suddenly goes full speed ahead, slamming right into the port side of the Guardian ship. Explosions reverberate across its hull as the An ships break tractor lock and scramble... Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "The Horde have rammed the Guardian vessel...its core is going critical!" Keelah@crystyll: "Can we get in range to pull them out before it blows?" Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Negative Captain, they have-" Keliaya@anncarise | There is a bright flash of light as the Guardian ship explodes, causing the shields of all three An ships around it to flare up. Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "...two seconds." Keelah@crystyll sighs, "Such a waste..." Keliaya@anncarise: "No damage to the An ships, but only because their shields took the brunt of it. If they had lowered their shields to evacuate the Guardians, they would have been destroyed or crippled by the blast." Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "It appears the battle is subsiding. The last Horde ship has been destroyed and the allies are ensuring the Guild ships are fully disabled." Keelah@crystyll: "Then it is over" Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "No losses on our side, save the Guardian vessel, if their dishonourable actions still count them as allies." Keelah@crystyll: "Their hatred blinded their judgement. It was not only our will they went against, but that of everyone here. Maybe now they will find peace" Keliaya@anncarise: "I hope if we run into any more Guardians, they'll be a little more reasonable..." Keelah@crystyll: "Indeed" Keliaya@anncarise | The turbolift doors slide open and Vulture steps out. glancing to the viewscreen, "The operation has gone well, I see." Keelah@crystyll: "No thanks to the Guardians. Fortunately they did not cause any allied losses" Keliaya@anncarise | Vulture: "The Guardians? The same ones whom we are told stands against the Horde?" Keelah@crystyll nods, "One of their vessels appeared and refused to listen to reason. They tried to bypass the fleet and bombard the planet so allied forces were forced to intervene" Keliaya@anncarise | Vulture nods, "That is unfortunate. The Regulators did not have any information on them, else we would have shared it to prepare you for the inevitable encounter." Keliaya@anncarise | Vulture: "I have made some progress though. I believe my arguments have swayed my superiors somewhat, but the Administration is not willing to allow you to share the technology just yet." Keelah@crystyll: "'Yet' being the operative word there I am guessing?" Keliaya@anncarise | Vulture nods, "They will be deploying a survey vessel shortly to evaluate the situation firsthand. Do not worry, the vessel's crew will be protected by the same implants you are." Keelah@crystyll: "Given such a long term plan, I see no real adverse impact from taking time to ensure everything is right" Keliaya@anncarise | Vulture: "They will arrive soon, within a few of your days. I suggest taking the time to identify which lifeforms to prioritize operating on first, in case we do not have time to free them all." Keliaya@anncarise | Vulture: "I will think on further ways to convince them when they do arrive." Keelah@crystyll: "Let me know if I can do anything to assist" Keliaya@anncarise | Vulture nods, "Of course, Captain." She turns and heads back for the turbolift. Keliaya@anncarise: "At least the immediate threat is dealt with. Now we have to mind wipe two million people and teach them to be people again..."
AFTER ACTION REPORT STARFLEET SECURITY CLEARANCE LEVEL 2 | Confidential
MISSION PARAMETERSOUTCOME SUMMARY Rejoin allied forces at Terminu and coordinate debate between allied forces as to how to handle the Terminu situation Horde forces neutralizes. Terminu population undergoing long term treatment
Formulate strategy for future dealings with species designation 'Guardians'. Long term monitoring of the Terminu recovery project and consideration of despatching a long term support mission.
The Valley Forge was contacted whilst still sweeping the battlefield at the Lupan's Holy City. A request had been relayed for us to return to Terminu and render assistance to allied forces, alongside news that Terminu itself had fallen to the Horde. We engaged at maximum warp, fearing the worst and not wanting to risk Horde influence spreading further coreward.
Upon arrival at the system, we learned that the Horde forces to have fled the Holy City battle had successfully breached Terminu's defense perimeter and the influence had spread across the entire population of the colony at an unprecedented speed. Allied forces - including Nuhar, An, and Lupan - were containing the Horde vessels within Terminu's defense perimeter in a perpetual stalemate. We convened a debriefing with representatives from all parties, including our onboard representatives from the Regulators, Arshai and the Architect.
The convened allied council reviewed our survey data of the captured Horde being, alongside similar data retrieved by the An from a Terminu resident who was more recently influenced. A debate ensued as to how best to proceed with two pertinent options being available: 1) Cleanse the colony of all life 2) Pool resources and attempt recovery. Though the cleansing was far from desirable, it was certainly the most favourable in terms of practicality and security. However, with allied forces looking to this ship and crew to take a lead on the decision, we were not about to entertain that option before exhausting all other options.
Our medical data indicated that the influenced population were already beyond mental recovery, their personalities already being completely overwritten by the Horde consciousness, as it is. However we hypothesized that the influence could still be blocked, leaving behind a physically fit body, but a blank slate of a mind. Upon review, the option was explored further having deemed it preferable to outright death, particularly in the view that some of the planet's population represented the last of their species. Sanction was given by the Operators to allow the Arshai closer knowledge of the inhibitor technology to allow them to work on mental retraining; given their capacity for accelerated learning techniques and immediate proximity to the region.
With all requirements in place to allow a recovery plan to be implemented, it was agreed among all council representatives with surprisingly little resistance, to proceed with the joint recovery effort. The Lupan and Nuhar would maintain a presence while the An and Arshai worked on treatment and reeducation respectively. All parties acknowledged the long term investment and agreed to abide by a Federation standard preservation order on the world.
Though this outcome was the best bittersweet result that could be obtained from the situation, the appearance of a Guardian vessel adds a further complication. The openly aggressive stance they held towards allied forces in response to the recovery plan was worrying, and the fact that allied vessels were forced to destroy the Guardian ship in order to preserve our chances of recovering the Terminu population even moreso. Terminu defense forces will have to remain on heightened alert status for a reappearance from the Guardians, while we will undoubtedly have to consider alternate strategies for dealing with them as we will undoubtedly be coming across more of them the further we travel.