As promised, the Regulators arrive to render assistance to the Terminu recovery project. However, their arrival sparks a surprising role reversal when Captain Keelah suddenly finds herself in the position of analyzing the Regulators technology. Fortunately, they have one person on board with experience of this prohibited technology.
Mia puts her unique skills to good use in assisting a Regulator survey team to Terminu, while Emma faces the greatest personal trial of her unusual life as she is thrust head first into the abyss of personal trauma that has haunted her for centuries...
Emma Ralde@crystyll | Emma stands alone in the serene officers lounge, nursing a glass of green wine as she stares out of the window lost in thought Keliaya@anncarise steps into the lounge, ordering a drink and staying by the counter for a moment as it is prepared, exchanging brief words with the officers around her. Keliaya@anncarise collects her drink and glances around for a moment before stepping up behind Emma, "Hello Emma." Emma Ralde@crystyll looks around distantly, "Oh, hello Commander. Is everything alright? Something I can do for you?" Keliaya@anncarise smiles and shakes her head, "I was just checking if you were alright. With Rianni on her mission and all." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Oh" she sighs before forcing a smile, "Sorry. Guess I'm that obvious, huh?" Keliaya@anncarise: "Well, you are standing here staring into space..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Just... thinking about her. Wondering how she's doing out there. Do you think she's alright?" Keliaya@anncarise gives a reassuring smile, "Like the Captain said, she can handle herself. And if the Captain thinks she'll be okay, I think so too." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Yeah, you're probably right..." she stares down into her glass, swirling it and clearly unconvinced Keliaya@anncarise: "There's always going to be risks. In a way we're at as much risk as she is out here, maybe even more. But I do hope we get her back sooner rather than later, though." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Oh I know, it's just... she's so young and fragile still. I fear for her; out there all alone and surrounded by those alternate universe maniacs" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Me too. I wouldn't want to be on a ship with those people. But she did very well when we were stuck on the planet with the Lupan and got along with them best out of anyone." Keliaya@anncarise: "I think if anyone here can manage living with that alternate Starfleet ship, it's her." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I know. And I know she's a lot better at this stuff than I've seen; she's told me some before about how she remembers the year she was replaced by a Junayd clone. Creepy stuff" Keliaya@anncarise: "Those memories should definitely help her out. So I think she'll be fine. She's in a better position to deal with her situation than most." Keliaya@anncarise: "What about you? Do you think you can manage in the meantime while she's gone, or should we find you things to keep you distracted?" Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles softly, "I'll be fine. I just need to get used to caring about someone again I guess" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "I know that feeling..." Keliaya@anncarise smiles back, "Just let me know if you ever need to talk." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Thanks" she takes a sip, seemingly a bit happier now, "What about you? That new pip weighing you down any more yet?" Keliaya@anncarise smirks, "Technically it's still the same amount of pips, just a slightly different looking pip for Commander instead of Lieutenant Commander. So it weighs the same." Emma Ralde@crystyll chuckles, "Yeah, you say that; but I remember it making significantly more difference despite that impression" Keliaya@anncarise chuckles, "Well in my case, like the Captain said, there's not really a change to my duties. The title's the same too, since even Mana's learned not to say the full 'Lieutenant Commander.'" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Now that's quite an accomplishment for an Arshai" Keliaya@anncarise smirks, "To be fair, she has been with us for some time before she came on board as a representative for her people." Keliaya@anncarise: "I guess it's more of a change with how much time I'm spending with Eva, than the change in rank." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "True enough" she smiles, "And are things on that front?" Keliaya@anncarise: "As you said...have to get used to caring about someone again. It's still a little hard, but after what happened, I think we both want to make the most of the time we have together." Keliaya@anncarise: "Though I'm also aware that means I'm spending less time with everyone else. I know they've always got the holodeck, but sometimes a more personal touch is better..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You're not the only woman on board you know" she chuckles, "I'm sure there's plenty of options for people now, especially with all the Orion influx from Vue En. Not all of us are so subdued you know" Keliaya@anncarise smirks, "That's true. Some of them can be really fun. From personal experience and what I've heard from the rest of the crew. So I think we have that situation in hand." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Definitely! See, nothing to worry about" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Do you and Rianni still keep separate quarters, or?" Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head, "Not since Belyia. It seemed kind of silly after living together for so long, like a backwards step and neither of us wanted that" Keliaya@anncarise smiles, "A smart decision. I'm still trying to decide whether Eva and I should share quarters or not. I'm barely in my quarters, and half the time I just use it to entertain guests..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Well it's not like you're far from each other either way. No need to rush a decision for the sake of it, even if you end up not going back to your quarters for weeks at a time. We don't exactly have+ Emma Ralde@crystyll: + the turnaround to need it emptying do we" she smiles Keliaya@anncarise nods, "We're a pretty big ship after all. Though I have been considering just letting Eva take over my quarters and redecorating slightly, since it's a little larger and more comfortable. And-" Keliaya@anncarise | Emma sees a blur outside the window from the corner of her eye, and Kelly seems to have noticed as well as she pauses. Emma Ralde@crystyll turns to get a better look, not sure if she actually saw something or not Keliaya@anncarise | Outside the window, another ship has appeared seemingly out of nowhere between the VF and Terminu... Keliaya@anncarise FX | https://i.imgur.com/AHTSpt9.png Keliaya@anncarise: "Probably time for me to change and head to the bridge." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "Have fun!" --- Keliaya@anncarise FX | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjaejG-LDAQ&feature=emb_title Keliaya@anncarise | Meanwhile on the bridge... Keliaya@anncarise | Vrolmacht: "Regulator ship has just appeared on sensors, Captain." Keelah@crystyll: "Open a channel" Keliaya@anncarise | Eva: "They're already communicating on a secure channel directed at us. The signal seems to be focused on...Vulture's guest quarters." Keelah@crystyll glares at the image on screen a moment, "Repeat the hail. I'm sure they have more than one operator on a ship that size" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie: "Cap'n somethin's off. I ain't seein' no sign o'Regulator FTL systems on tha' ship" Keelah@crystyll clearly curious, heads over to Lennie's side, "Explain" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie shows Keelah the readout, "No coaxial warp, no displacement wave generators. But look at this; tachyon signatures an'..." she points to the screen Keelah@crystyll looks at the strange reading, "Analysis?" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie: "One sec, verifyin'" Keliaya@anncarise | The lift doors slide open and Kelly steps out, glancing at Keelah and Lennie congregating at the science console curiously and strolling over. Keelah@crystyll | A moment later, Lennie's console blacks out before flashing up an alert "P. stellaviatori spores detected. Command protocol override in place" Keliaya@anncarise: "Haven't seen that before..." Keelah@crystyll | Lennie, clearly taken aback, "Wha' th'?!" Keelah@crystyll sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose, "Because things couldn't be more complicated here already..." Keliaya@anncarise looks to the screen, then back to Lennie, "Does this have something to do with the Regulator ship?" Keelah@crystyll taps her command code into the console, "There. Kelly, call the senior staff for a debriefing in 10 minutes. And Tee, get me a response from those Regulators. Put it through in my ready room" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie gives Keelah an odd look as she marches off the bridges Keliaya@anncarise nods, "On it, Captain." Keelah@crystyll | Lennie turns to Kelly, "Any idea wha' tha's all about?" Keliaya@anncarise shakes her head, "I haven't the faintest clue..." Keelah@crystyll | Lennie hrms, studying her readings more, "Guess we'll find out at th'briefin'..." --- Keliaya@anncarise | In the ready room... Keliaya@anncarise | The channel is finally opened, and the image of a Regulator with helmet active appears on Keelah's screen, "This is Evaluator 9120-116-072. We are here to evaluate the sharing of the Neural - Keliaya@anncarise - Encoder Implant technology." Keelah@crystyll: "As expected. However another urgent matter has surfaced which places me in the unfortunate position of insisting on an evaluation of my own" Keliaya@anncarise | Evaluator: "What do you mean?" Keelah@crystyll: "We have detected P. stellaviatori spores on your vessel, and Starfleet procedure requires me to conduct a full investigation into any use of the mycelial network" Keliaya@anncarise | Evaluator: "You monitor activity regarding the use of the mycelial network? Perhaps your civilization is more advanced than Evaluator 9131-127-468's report suggested." Keelah@crystyll: "Starfleet learned of the detrimental effects on the network caused by it's abuse for FTL travel centuries ago. It is one of our overriding protocols that now forces me to halt all work on current + Keelah@crystyll: + activities while I investigate this threat to the network" Keliaya@anncarise | Evaluator: "We utilize the mycelial network for transport only on select Survey Vessels for situations in which crossing long distances near-instantaneously would be advantageous. As with all - Keliaya@anncarise: - technology held by the Administration, we employ it responsibly." Keelah@crystyll: "Our data indicates that any use of the network is extremely harmful to it, and as such can not be deemed responsible use. Are your people fully aware of the impact your use of the network has?" Keliaya@anncarise | Evaluator: "We first learned of the network through contact with its inhabitants. We have modelled our technology so that our passage through the network is as close to that of the beings who - Keliaya@anncarise: - inhabit the network naturally, and as a result should have minimal impact on the state of the network." Keelah@crystyll: "You understand that I'll need more than your word to that effect. I have to brief my senior staff in a few minutes, perhaps you could have someone come and join us to explain the situation" Keliaya@anncarise | Evaluator: "Very well. We will dispatch an Operator to your vessel." Keelah@crystyll dips her head, "Appreciated. If we can be of any further assistance meanwhile with the Terminu situation, feel free to contact us. Valley Forge out" she cuts the comm, knowing better than to waste + Keelah@crystyll: + time and effort with pleasantries on these guys --- Keelah@crystyll enters the briefing room later than most of the staff for once, and with Emma in tow. Both taking seats at the table Keliaya@anncarise nods over to Keelah and Emma as they enter, tilting her head curiously but not asking about why Emma is in tow. Keliaya@anncarise | Some distance behind the table, a Regulator Operator stands with the helmet active over her face. Keelah@crystyll looks around, "Apologies for the short notice, everyone. We will keep this to the point" she glances at her PADD notes to continue Keliaya@anncarise glances over to Lennie, knowing the strange circumstances of the meeting, before looking back to Keelah. Keelah@crystyll: "Stardate 97641.9. USS Valley Forge sensors registered a verified reading of P. stellaviatori spores. Per PSS Protocol, this restricted level briefing is being held to make all senior staff aware of + Keelah@crystyll: + situation in order to facilitate an assessment into the stability and further preservation of the mycelial network" Keelah@crystyll | Emma slooowly turns wide eyed, looking at Keelah. Clearly being in the dark up until this point Keelah@crystyll: "Additional presence from ENS Ralde as a subject matter expert. And a representative from the Regulator vessel, where the spores were detected" Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator gives a single nod at the acknowledgement of her presence, but nothing else. Keelah@crystyll looks around, "Again, my apologies for the abrupt formality. But this protocol has it's requirements, and with it being so unfamiliar I must follow it to the letter" Keelah@crystyll looks to the Regulator guest, "First off, I believe introductions are in order" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "I am Operator 9132-127-204. I specialize in operating and maintaining the mycelial displacement drive on board Vessel 103-9141-16." Keelah@crystyll: "For the purposes of expediting this process, could you briefly summarize for my officers how exactly this drive works, in principal. We are not here to divulge technological IP" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "The drive utilizes fungal spores existing naturally within the mycelial network to allow passage into the network, where near-instantaneous shortcuts throughout the universe may be - Keliaya@anncarise - accessed. It is similar in theory to a subspace network, but is significantly faster and allows access to nearly every point in spacetime rather than specific points along a select route." Keelah@crystyll | Lennie looks to Kelly disbelief, "Is this f'real? Ya ever heard o'such a thing?" Keliaya@anncarise: "Only in subspace theory..." Keelah@crystyll | Emma chimes in absently, "It's real Commander. It's the reason I'm here..." Keelah@crystyll | Lennie gives Emma an even more confused look Keelah@crystyll raises a hand, "We don't need to dwell on the Ensign's personal circumstances. But, as you are all aware she was the victim of an unfortunate incident during Starfleet's early trials with an + Keelah@crystyll: + experimental FTL technology" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie looks back to Emma, "An' tha' were this... spore stuff?" Keelah@crystyll | Emma nods quietly Keelah@crystyll: "Now. Starfleet protocol dictates that we conduct a full investigation into the use of this 'spore drive', as all records we possess indicate that such drives are extremely dangerous and harmful to + Keelah@crystyll: + the mycelial network, which is subject to a grade 1 preservation order under Federation law" Keelah@crystyll: "The Operator is here to accommodate our evaluation, so I ask that you work together and with due consideration to the fact that this is Regulator technology that we are not cleared for. As difficult + Keelah@crystyll: + as this may be, we must fulfil our obligations under Starfleet protocols while remaining respectful of our allies own laws" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "What exactly will your investigation entail?" Keelah@crystyll: "Our mandate is to evaluate the potential for harm to the network" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "While you do have conditional Type 1 access, you have not been cleared to the sharing of technology related to the mycelial displacement drive. However, you are cleared to board - Keliaya@anncarise: - Regulator vessels and observe, as long as you do not attempt to access or copy our technology. There may be an arrangement that can benefit both our evaluations." Keelah@crystyll: "Is that so?" she asks curiously Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "We are here to investigate the threat of the Horde, which we believe your vessel has investment in as well. Is that correct?" Keelah@crystyll: "Correct. Investment in, and data on. As allies we would be more than happy to share all we have on the situation. And as for our evaluation, we appreciate your cooperation and will confine our + Keelah@crystyll: + evaluation team to the people in this room, of whom only a select few will be permitted to conduct the inspection aboard your vessel" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "The Supervisor is amenable to the arrangement of allowing a team of your personnel to observe as we investigate the Horde, which will likely involve the activation of our drive at - Keliaya@anncarise: - least once. You will be allowed to inspect the drive and its operators in a limited capacity, though scans of the technology will of course be forbidden." Keelah@crystyll nods, "Of course. I appreciate your cooperation here. If there is nothing else for this briefing, I suggest we get to work. Kelly, you have the spore drive evaluation. I suggest ENS Ralde here for + Keelah@crystyll: + your team as well. Lennie, work with the Regulators and allied representatives here on their evaluation" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "We'll be ready to board the Regulator vessel as soon as we can." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "Excellent. We will first evaluate the situation here at Terminu and then proceed to scout elsewhere." Keelah@crystyll: "In that case, you're all dismissed" Keliaya@anncarise stands and motions for Emma to follow. Keelah@crystyll promptly stands and returns to her ready room, clearly troubled by this latest hinderance and working hard to do her part Keelah@crystyll | Emma stands and follows quickly behind Kelly Keliaya@anncarise: "Meet me in Transporter Room 1 in half an hour. Grab anything you might need on the Regulator ship. We probably won't stay particularly long, but if they're taking us along for their evaluation, it - Keliaya@anncarise: - might be more than a quick tour like what we got last time." Keelah@crystyll | Emma nods, "I'll see you there, Commander" --- Keliaya@anncarise | 30 minutes later, Kelly and Emma meet up in the transporter room... Emma Ralde@crystyll hurries in, "All set Commander!" Keliaya@anncarise turns from conversing with Katie and smiles, "Perfect. We have permission to beam over to the Regulator vessel." She steps onto the transporter pad. Emma Ralde@crystyll joins her, "Ready" Keliaya@anncarise: "Energize." Keliaya@anncarise | They disappear into the transporter beam and materialize in the Regulator ship's transporter room, which like the previous Regulator ship they had encountered, was very grey and undecorated. Keliaya@anncarise | A female Regulator with helmet active greets them, "Follow me to your accommodations." Keliaya@anncarise steps off the pad and follows her, looking to Emma, "You weren't with us yet when we encountered the Regulators before. Is this your first time on one of their ships, or have you met them on your - Keliaya@anncarise: - way to the New World?" Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head, "No, first time. Sure I've seen a few of them around before, but never had any real dealings myself" Emma Ralde@crystyll turns to the Regulator, "Accomodation? I didn't think we'd be staying that long. I didn't even pack a toothbrush..." Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "We do not yet know how long the evaluation will take. While our vessels possess minimal luxuries, all the necessities of life will be provided." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You should put that in your travel brochure" Keliaya@anncarise | They pass a few unsuited Regulators as they walk down the hall, and Emma sees just how similar to Orions they appear, only just red. Emma Ralde@crystyll can't help but take notice of that, "I see what Lennie meant about a shared heritage..." Keliaya@anncarise nods, "The similarity is really remarkable, isn't it? They even have similar pheromones, but their suits keep it in check." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Explains why they hardly ever take them off" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I prefer to let my skin breath though. Can't be good for their complexion, cooped up like tinned rations all the time" Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator leads them into a very basic looking lift which begins to ascend, "Our biological needs are well regulated in the Administration." Emma Ralde@crystyll whispers to Kelly, "You sure they're not part Vulcan?" Keliaya@anncarise chuckles, "They do act much more like Vulcans than Orions. I suppose that goes to show how much circumstance affects our culture. Though the Vulcans themselves and the Romulans are good examples - Keliaya@anncarise: - already. It's possible the Regulators had a similar history with your people, just further back and forgotten by both groups now." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Almost a shame to think of if that is the case really. Would be fascinating to see how such a diversion could take place" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Not only that, but the possibility of a deeper seeded ancestral home" Keliaya@anncarise: "Maybe we could find something yet. We don't know the full Regulator history still, and we've been discovering a lot of data on the past on this mission." Keliaya@anncarise | The lift doors slide open to another hallway much the same as the one they came from, and the Regulator leads the way out. Emma Ralde@crystyll: "True enough. Kind of exciting really! But first things first" Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator stops in a hall and motions from one door to another. "These two will be your accommodations for your stay." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Thanks. Any do's and don't's we should know up front?" Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator takes out two bracelets and holds them out to the pair in her hands, "These will provide you with maps of the areas of the vessel you are permitted to access, and will inform you - Keliaya@anncarise: - if you cross over to a restricted area. They will also faciliate communications, due to your lack of a suit." Emma Ralde@crystyll tries it on her wrist, "Ooh, fashionable and functional!" Keliaya@anncarise puts her on as well, testing its functions and activating a holo-map. Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "You are welcome to visit any section of the ship that appears on your map and speak to any personnel you encounter. They are all members of the Administration and know what to share - Keliaya@anncarise: - and what not to share. Tap the red button to contact Administration personnel remotely if you require anything." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Thank you. Is there a particular schedule to our evaluation work, or should we wait to be contacted?" Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "Please wait to be contacted. In the meantime, you may explore the vessel and speak to our personnel, or discuss among yourselves." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "Perfect, thanks" looking to Kelly, "I... guess we should get settled in?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Let's do that and maybe do some exploring while we wait for their call." --- Mana@anncarise | Shortly after the briefing, Keelah is in her ready room when the doorbell sounds. Keelah@crystyll: "Come" she calls out, not looking up from her screen Mana@anncarise steps into the ready room, "Captain Keelah. Mana has news from the New World." Keelah@crystyll looks up, "Mana" she smiles a little, gesturing to the seat opposite, "Please, come in. What is the latest?" Mana@anncarise takes a seat, "Two smaller Colonial Fleet vessels and two Researcher's Guild vessels are preparing to set out now. The crews are presently being given the An's genetic modification countermeasure." Mana@anncarise: "Carran Courier transportation is being arranged, and the four vessels can be expected to arrive in 14 rotations." Mana@anncarise adds, "That is about two weeks on the Federation calendar." Keelah@crystyll: "That is welcome news indeed, Mana. I am glad to see the Colonial Fleet lending it's expertise to this venture" Mana@anncarise: "The four ships will arrive with a large number of medical and research personnel to assist Terminu, but time is needed to prepare more ships with defensive measures and arrive at Terminu." Keelah@crystyll: "Honestly, I'm more interested in the fleet's ability to adapt it's clone education techniques to help the people here than in defending the system. The Lupan and Nuhar already have the heavy hitters" Mana@anncarise nods, "The experts on board these ships will certainly be able to assist. Vora is preparing a larger fleet, but that will have to travel conventionally and would not arrive for several months." Keelah@crystyll: "She's really throwing herself into this by the looks of things, isn't she. You think maybe she's personally invested, from her own experiences with the Horde?" Mana@anncarise: "Mana thinks that is very possible. But the rest of the New World Council also supports Vora on this, as there are not many more major worlds between Terminu and the New World. If the Horde push any - Mana@anncarise: - further, Vue-En will be at risk as well, so stopping the Horde is in the best interests of the Arshai." Keelah@crystyll nods her understanding, "So she's drawing a front line out here. Can't say I blame her" Keelah@crystyll: "What about relations with the other allied species here, do you anticipate any tensions?" Mana@anncarise: "Only the Nuhar, but Mana and Keelah have already done much to improve Vora's views on artificial lifeforms. The Colonial Fleet is already acquainted with the An, and the-" Mana@anncarise FX | The comm in the ready room sounds. Keelah@crystyll grunts, "Apologies Mana..." tapping the intercom, "Se'Lai" Mana@anncarise | <C - Eva> "Sorry for the interruption. I know Mana's in there with you, but the Regulators are hailing us again." Keelah@crystyll: <C> No problem Eva, patch it through in here, would you Mana@anncarise | <C - Eva> "Right away, Captain." Mana@anncarise moves to stand, "Should Mana leave the room?" Keelah@crystyll raises a hand, "Don't worry, I'm sure it's nothing. I'll let you know if that's not the case" she smiles Mana@anncarise nods and sits back down, staying quiet. Meanwhile, the image of the Evaluator reappears on Keelah's screen. Keelah@crystyll: "Evaluator. How can I be of assistance?" Mana@anncarise | Evaluator: "We will be visiting the surface of Terminu briefly to observe Horde activity. Your personnel may join us if you wish." Keelah@crystyll: "You're... going to the surface? I trust you have suitable defense measures in place?" Mana@anncarise | Evaluator: "Yes, and we will be able to protect your personnel should you wish to take this opportunity to observe the situation as well." Keelah@crystyll hrms, "Very well. Every bit of research we can conduct should help with the recovery program. Do you want our team to beam over to you first or meet on the surface?" Mana@anncarise | Evaluator: "We will provide you with coordinates on the surface." Keelah@crystyll nods, "Very well. We'll have a team standing by shortly to beam down on your instruction" Mana@anncarise | Evaluator: "We will meet you there." Mana@anncarise FX | The comm ends. Keelah@crystyll looks back to Mana, "And on the subject of tensions..." she chuckles --- NPC@annpc#5570: FX | The VF away team beams down to the coordinates provided by the Regulators. They find themselves in the vicinity of one of Terminu's settlements, with thirteen Regulators scattered around them. NPC@annpc#5570: | In the distance, a small crashed frigate from the fighting lies in the mountainside, with debris scattered across the nearby rocky terrain. Further off, a crater can still be seen where one of the - NPC@annpc#5570: - defense grid generators once were, now completely destroyed in order to shut down the planet's defenses. NPC@annpc#5570: | Operator 1: "No sign of danger yet. Lifesigns inside the settlement, but they either don't know we're here yet or don't care." NPC@annpc#5570: | The Evaluator who spoke to Keelah turns to Mia and the VF team, "We will proceed towards the settlement, if you are ready." Mia@crystyll: "Do your suits shield you from their awareness as well as protect from the influence?" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "We can adjust our suits to be difficult to detect through conventional sensor equipment, but our suits do not shield us from telepathic influence or detection. We are using the same - NPC@annpc#5570: - implants your people are for that purpose." Mia@crystyll: "So there is every chance that the infected population will turn on you when they notice your presence. We are curious what sparked your confidence in this mission if this is so" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "We expect them to attack us once they become aware of our presence. We have simply come to evaluate the situation and the threat level. We do not believe the equipment currently - NPC@annpc#5570: - available to the infected population can threaten us, and if they do, we will call for immediate extraction." Mia@crystyll: "Fair enough. We will assist as needed should it come to it, but do not anticipate any difficulty in dealing with aggressors" NPC@annpc#5570: | The Evaluator nods, "Neither do we. Let us proceed." Mia@crystyll: nods and follows NPC@annpc#5570: | The Regulators begin to walk towards the settlement, examining their environment as they do. NPC@annpc#5570: | As soon as they near the settlement, a number of beings of various species rush out mindlessly towards them, just like the crew of the Horde ship when the VF team boarded in the aftermath of the - NPC@annpc#5570: - Holy City battle. The Regulators simply hold out their hands and the people freeze in place. NPC@annpc#5570: | With expert coordination, the Regulators form themselves into a circle around the Starfleet team. NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "Remain within the circle, and you will be safe." Mia@crystyll: | Miadrone hovers high over their heads to continue unobstructed scans NPC@annpc#5570: | The group proceed forward into the settlement as various aliens charge them and appear to be bounced back by invisible fields as they near the circle of Regulators. NPC@annpc#5570: | As they enter the settlement, bolts and beams of energy fly towards the group, but simply dissipate around the circle of Regulators, harming neither them nor anyone in their circle. NPC@annpc#5570: | As they walk through the settlement with the Horde swarming at them from all angles, some of the Regulators occasionally reach out with their arms, yanking away the weapons of the attackers with - NPC@annpc#5570: - an unseen force and crushing them into harmless balls of metal in mid-air. NPC@annpc#5570: | The group seem to proceed toward the city with a direction rather than wandering aimlessly, and Mia's scans note that they seem to be working their way towards a building whose inhabitants aren't - NPC@annpc#5570: - swarming them, and don't appear to have moved at all from their position. Mia@crystyll: suspects this is more than a simple observational mission... NPC@annpc#5570: | One of the particularly old looking aliens is bounced into a wall and collapse onto the ground, unmoving. The Regulator team stops and observes as two other thralls lift him and carry him away. NPC@annpc#5570: | The group changes directions, following the thralls and causing any others in their way to go flying aside. NPC@annpc#5570: | Mia's scans see that the old alien is definitely deceased. Mia@crystyll: "Why would they be recovered their dead? Do the Horde have further use of the body? We can not envisage them practicing funeral rights" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "That is what we intend to find out." NPC@annpc#5570: | The two thralls carry the dead thrall into what used to be a bar. The others appear to have given up on trying to swarm the group now. NPC@annpc#5570: | The thrall is set on top of a table as both thralls retrieve laser cutters...and to the away team's horror, begins butchering the body right then and there. NPC@annpc#5570: | Other thralls begin piling into the building, but they don't try to attack the Regulators. Instead, they bypass the group and...begin to consume the body. NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "As I suspected. The thralls are no longer people, but mere resources. And resources are used in any way they can be used." Mia@crystyll: "Seriously...? We are glad we do not have a stomach right now, lest we would be inclined to dematerialize it" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "Come. Let us investigate something else." NPC@annpc#5570: | Despite the professionalism of the Regulators, they seem all too eager to leave the gruesome scene behind. Mia@crystyll: "You mean the lifesigns who are not moving along with the rest of the Horde" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "That is correct. While they have stopped attacking us now, these never joined in the attack to begin with. That suggests they may be given a task they deem more important." Mia@crystyll: "Or they are not influenced" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "Perhaps." NPC@annpc#5570: | They proceed through the settlement unharrassed for a minute before two thralls chuck explosives down at them from above, Though well-aimed at the centre of the group, the explosions bounce off - NPC@annpc#5570: - something unseen above Mia's head and roll into the streets before detonating, sending waves of dust and sand at them, but the particles are likewise deflected by the unseen barrier. NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "They are attempting new tactics. They will not be successful, but it demonstrates they are far more than animals. There is certainly higher intelligence at work." Mia@crystyll: "It would seem they do not want us reaching these individuals. They are clearly of some importance to the Horde mind" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "Indeed. Let us make haste in the event that they do find some way to breach our defenses." Mia@crystyll: "Fear not. Our sensors are monitoring the integrity of your barrier and we will know to act to before it begins to weaken" NPC@annpc#5570: | The group pick up their pace and soon reach a building that appears to have once been an infirmary, as indicated by signs outside and medical equipment inside. There are about twenty beds inside, - NPC@annpc#5570: - with all but two of them filled. All are females of various species, and Miadrone's scans quickly reveals that they are in the early stages of reproduction, with fertilized eggs for the reptilian - NPC@annpc#5570: - species and developing fetuses for the mammallians. Mia@crystyll: "A Horde... hatchery? They work first, we'll give them that" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "It would appear so. They have begun breeding a new generation of thralls already." NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "We have seen enough. Let us depart this place." Mia@crystyll: "Are we not to do anything about this hatchery?" NPC@annpc#5570: | Operator: "You may extract them from your vessel. There is no barrier blocking your transporter technology here." Mia@crystyll: "Honestly, our first instinct was to put them out of their suffering... But that is not our decision to make" NPC@annpc#5570: | Operator: "If that is your people's decision, you may do so in time as well." Mia@crystyll: "whatever the case. Suffice to say we are more grateful than ever to no longer be a biological" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "Indeed. The Horde have no way of influencing-" NPC@annpc#5570: | The Regulators suddenly scatter, and Miadrone and the rest of the away team feel themselves being pulled to the side by an invisible force along with the Regulators. Mia@crystyll: scans around for the cause of the sudden move NPC@annpc#5570: | Mia sees it a split second later as a red beam from the direction of the mountain cuts across where they were standing a moment ago, completely decimating the nearby settlement gate and leaving a - NPC@annpc#5570: - long blackened trench along the ground. NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "They have repaired one of the crashed vessel's weapons. Our vessel will deal with this." Mia@crystyll: "If we may suggest; it could be a prudent test for those planning long term defense of this recovery effort" NPC@annpc#5570: | The Horde in the settlement suddenly renew their assault, and the Regulators form into two semi-circles on either side, fending them off. NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "What is your suggestion?" Mia@crystyll: "Redirect the order to the Lupan and Nuhar. Let them handle it under your supervision, that way they can get better readings of what to look for next time before it gets this far" Mia@crystyll: | Miadrone hovers high, materializing an offensive attachment, "Also, please allow us to assist you with this Horde. You do not have to shoulder the whole burden yourselves" NPC@annpc#5570: | The Evaluator nods, "Very well." NPC@annpc#5570: | The Horde continue to try and press the now two smaller groups. Mia@crystyll: | Miadrone starts emitting a cascade of repulsor beam at those targets giving the Regulators the hardest time up close NPC@annpc#5570: | Mia manages to repulse the thralls getting too close to the Regulators, and after a few minutes of fending them off, there are several flashes in the mountainside. The Regulators promptly reform - NPC@annpc#5570: - into a full circle again, and the thralls seem to stop coming at them as well. NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "The weapon has been disabled." Mia@crystyll: smiles, "Good. And see, now they have dealt with it themselves they have the sensor data to spot the threat sooner next time. We have just helped them reinforce the long term strategy here!" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "An excellent idea." NPC@annpc#5570: | The reformed circle pick up pace, stepping past the ruined entrance and soon exiting the settlement. The thralls inside make no move to follow. Mia@crystyll: shrugs it off, "Comes with several lifetimes of playing nicely with others. You should try it sometime" she chuckles NPC@annpc#5570: | The Regulators break the circle once they are far enough from the settlement. Mia@crystyll: continues full scans, because well, walking tricorder... NPC@annpc#5570: | Mia sees little of interest in the vicinity, other than several thralls who have remained by the settlement's edge, observing the group as they depart. NPC@annpc#5570: | Operator: "We detect no further threats. You may call your vessel for extraction." Mia@crystyll: "We trust you found the expedition fruitful?" NPC@annpc#5570: | Evaluator: "We have indeed. I will file a preliminary report upon returning and inform your Supervisor of any changes before we proceed to the next expedition." Mia@crystyll: "We shall do the same, and standby to assist with further expeditions if so desired. Until next time!" she gives a cheery wave before calling for transport --- Keliaya@anncarise | Meanwhile on the Regulator vessel, Kelly rings the doorbell to Emma's small room onboard the Regulator ship... Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It's open" Emma Ralde@crystyll sits reviewing the information on her bracelet Keliaya@anncarise steps inside, "They really have minimal tech in these quarters, don't they?" Emma Ralde@crystyll laughs, lowering the device, "It's almost like being back in our little apartment on Belyia!" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Just... better plumbing" Keliaya@anncarise laughs as well, "If it wasn't for the lights and the replicator, I would've thought that as well! Not even a computer, though I suppose their suits are their computer interfaces, and they don't - Keliaya@anncarise: - really use separate devices." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Seems so. Still, it will do for the time we're here" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "They gave us those bracelets, after all." Keliaya@anncarise takes a seat on the edge of the bed, "So, what else do I need to know about this technology?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Probably a damned sight more than I have to offer" Keliaya@anncarise: "You were just working on one of the very early prototypes, weren't you?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Not directly. Well above my paygrade at the time, even now really. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time to get caught in the blast" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Is that one of the reasons Starfleet stopped experimenting with the technology?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "From what I remember; it relied on, well, torturing a creature called a Tardigrade and manipulating the mycellial spores from the network with it" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "But the spores were extremely unstable and... unpredictable. So when my ship had a containment failure during a jump, the spores exploding throughout that whole section - bypassing all matter and + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + containment. Many of the crew died, but I was... I don't know, reborn or something from within the network" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Eventually Starfleet learned that it's forced travel of the network by this method was as harmful to the network itself as it was the Tardigrades. So they shut it all down, slapped a preservation + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + order on it, and classified anything and anyone who had anything to do with it. The ships, the personnel. Me..." Keliaya@anncarise: "And that's why you had to keep changing assignments and identities every once in a while." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Well, no... that was more down to my personal circumstances. I mean, even Orions are expected to lose their youthful charms sooner or later" Keliaya@anncarise chuckles, "True. What about the harm to the network? What do you know about that? You said there was more than harming the Tardigrades." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "I don't know the details, only that Starfleet's activity was essentially killing the network. You have to understand that just like spore producing fungi in this plane of the universe, the + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + mycelial network is a living, breathing thing as well. I never saw it myself, but I remember from the early days of focus on it with SFI there being reports of the network forming sentient + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + conduits to communicate with people here. To ask for them help in stopping the abuse" Emma Ralde@crystyll shudders, "And no, I don't think of myself as one of those conduits" Keliaya@anncarise: "Well, you're not communicating on its behalf, so I think you're good." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, "Thanks. And sorry, I've spent a long time trying to forget about all of this stuff. Puts me on edge having it all in focus now" Keliaya@anncarise: "Hopefully it'll just be this one investigation. I'll need you to take point, as even though your knowledge might be limited, it's still far more than anything I know about the topic." Keliaya@anncarise smiles, "I'll let you have something from my collection when we get back to take the edge off." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, "I look forward to it" she reaches down and hands Kelly a PADD, "It isn't much, but this is everything I retained regarding the technology" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I'm afraid it's more my doodles and journals than Starfleet specs and designs" she chuckles Keliaya@anncarise chuckles as she takes the PADD, "Thanks. I'm sure there's something useful in there. It'll be fun to pass the time with, at the very least." --- Keliaya@anncarise | Shortly after Kelly's visit, Emma's bracelet sounds and gives a notification that they are to proceed to the drive room. Emma Ralde@crystyll heads outside to find Kelly Keliaya@anncarise is just outside their rooms checking the map on her bracelet, "Looks like it's time for the show." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Indeed. Let's see what this is all about" Keliaya@anncarise follows the directions on the map as she leads the way into a lift. She looks around for controls for a moment but find none, and then they both realize the holographic interface on their - Keliaya@anncarise - bracelets have turned into a panel for the elevator. Emma Ralde@crystyll smirks, "I won't tell anyone if you don't" tapping the controls for the required deck Keliaya@anncarise chuckles, "My lips are sealed." Keliaya@anncarise | They soon arrive on a different deck, which looks largely identical to the one they left. Kelly continues to follow the directions, eventually leading them into a medium sized room with a - Keliaya@anncarise - contained central chamber and consoles all around as well as a viewscreen on the far side. Keliaya@anncarise | One of the Regulators stands, "I am Operator 9132-127-204. We met on board your vessel." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Good to see you again" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "We are to commence jump soon. Please remain to the side and observe." Keliaya@anncarise steps aside just as the door behind them opens, and a familiar-looking alien steps in... Emma Ralde@crystyll nods and steps out of the way, looking around, "So this is the whole drive system?" Keliaya@anncarise FX | https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/sto_gamepedia/images/6/61/Tarsev.png/revision/latest?cb=20200701175244 Keliaya@anncarise | Operator: "There are more components accessed from elsewhere, but this is the control room for the drive functions. Ah, and here comes our navigator." Emma Ralde@crystyll looks around, a little taken aback to see the navigator Keliaya@anncarise | The Elachi appears clad in the same suit as the other Regulators, only tailored to its physique. It looks over to the two Starfleet officers, "You must be the observers I was told about." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Yeah... so you're the, um, navigator? Not going to lie, wasn't expecting this" Keliaya@anncarise | Elachi: "I am Operator 9090-241-006. What exactly were you expecting, if I may ask?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Honestly? I feared coming in here to see a Tardigrade all wired up in there..." Keliaya@anncarise | Elachi: "A Tardigrade? I was told your people were familiar with the mycelial network. Was that what you used to traverse it?" Emma Ralde@crystyll hangs her head shamefully, "It was centuries ago during Starfleet's early years. We were young and blind then, but after we learned what was going on we put a stop to it" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "That's actually why we're here now. Because Starfleet takes spore drives so seriously we are required to conduct an investigation and ensure the continued safety of the mycellial network" Keliaya@anncarise | The Elachi nods, "The poor creature. But I suppose we all do things we regret in the past. Since you have been cleared to be on this vessel, I assume your people are much more responsible today." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I certainly hope so. What about you, are you the only Elachi serving with the Operators? I don't think I've ever encountered one of your people serving outside your own forces before" Keliaya@anncarise | Elachi: "The Regulators have an agreement with the Elachi. My people- the Elachi, reproduce by converting other species with matter from the mycelial plane. Members of the Regulators, generally - Keliaya@anncarise: - more senior ones past our prime but unable to ascend to administrative positions, sometimes volunteer to be converted. As per our agreement, we alternate between serving with the Elachi and the - Keliaya@anncarise: - Administration, and while we are with the Regulators, we serve as navigators for Survey Vessels outfitted with mycelial displacement drives." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Wow, ok. Learned something new about the Elachi right there" Keliaya@anncarise | Elachi: "As I imagine you know well by now, the network can only be navigated by a being linked with it. That is why I am here. Fear not, for my people are among those that call the network - Keliaya@anncarise: - home, and the Regulators have ensured as part of the agreement that their drives will not harm our realm." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And... you are good with this? I mean, you're satisfied that this technology isn't damaging your home at all" Emma Ralde@crystyll states more than asks, as evidenced by the fact he is even here Keliaya@anncarise | Elachi: "Of course. We have helped the Regulators refine their technology with our own, and their vessels are as natural in the network as ones we build ourselves." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Well that's... surprisingly reassuring actually" she looks to Kelly Keliaya@anncarise nods, "I don't know much about the network myself, but it does sound like you have everything covered." Keliaya@anncarise | Another Operator turns to the Elachi: "We will be jumping soon." Keliaya@anncarise | Elachi: "I should enter the chamber. Rest assured, this technology is fully safe." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "We shouldn't keep you from your duties. We can talk more after perhaps, I have questions of a more... personal nature" Keliaya@anncarise | The Elachi inclines its head curiously before stepping over and into the chamber. Keliaya@anncarise | His helmet envelops his face as the Elachi steps into the chamber. Once the chamber closes, tubes extend from its top, connecting to the back of the Elachi's suit. Emma Ralde@crystyll: "That's... surprisingly reminiscent of a Tardigrade tank" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 2: "Do not worry. Operator 9090-241-006 has done this many times and is fully capable of handling the navigation. He is not harmed in the process, only slightly fatigued." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "No doubt" she smiles, "Just a point of interest that the base technology seems altogether quite similar to what we developed at it's core" Keliaya@anncarise: "Maybe the principals are the same, they've just refined it with help from the Elachi so that it's safe to use. Early warp drives and transporters malfunctioned catastrophically as well, before we - Keliaya@anncarise: - learned how best to build and use them." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "True enough" Keliaya@anncarise | On the screen on the far side of the room, the signature lightning-like streaks are seem emanating out from the ship...and then there is a flash and Terminu is gone from the screen, replaced by - Keliaya@anncarise: - stars in deep space. A second later, a map pops up showing their present location relative to Terminu. Keliaya@anncarise stares at the screen in slight disbelief, "Over 60 lightyears in an instant..." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "We are capable of travelling much further, but we are only seeking to probe slightly into Horde territory." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "Like a subspace corridor, the relative dimensions of planar space are not proportionally represented here" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Ever used one of those underground mass transit systems like they have on Earth? Think of it like that, only with exponentially more destinations on a galactic scale" Keliaya@anncarise nods, looking to the Operator that had come to their ship, "So when you said it was like subspace corridors but better...it was completely literal." Keliaya@anncarise | The Operator nods in response, "Yes." Keliaya@anncarise: | Suddenly, the map switches to a more local display showing a number of flashing dots. Keliaya@anncarise: "What's going on?" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "It appears we have jumped into the centre of a Horde gathering. We are picking up 1204 energy signatures in a roughly five light-year radius. 1209 now." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 1: "Nothing to worry about. We are commencing phase-shift now." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "That's... quite the gathering" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "1212 ships now. They're approaching the area from all vectors." Keliaya@anncarise: "The Guardians were right. The Horde are gathering a greater force after their defeat." Keliaya@anncarise | The screen shows the visible parts of the Regulator ship flicker and disappear. Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 1: "Phase-shift complete." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Are there any points of interest in this region for them to be gathering around like this?" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 2: "We are not familiar with this region, but our sensors do not currently detect anything. I believe your fellow officer is correct. They are using it as a staging ground because it - Keliaya@anncarise: - is far beyond your maximum sensor range from Terminu." Keliaya@anncarise | The screen has switched to the local map again, where a number of Horde ships are closing in. Emma Ralde@crystyll: "A strategic move then. We are indeed well beyond sensor range, in fact this distance would take us considerable time to traverse conventionally" Keliaya@anncarise: "Maybe they've also chosen this area because it's equidistant from where they're pulling their forces from, otherwise I'd imagine they would've chosen a slightly closer location." Keliaya@anncarise glances up to the screen, "Do they know where we are?" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 1: "They know our last location, but they cannot detect us now." Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator ship slowly begins to move away at impulse speeds as the Horde vessels come to investigate, surrounding them. Keliaya@anncarise: "I think they might be forming a tachyon detection grid." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It appears they are far more coordinated and capable than we gave them credit for. More than simply a mindless 'army of the dead" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "Indeed. But tachyon sweeps will not avail them. We are not bending light and particles around ourselves. We are slightly out of phase with the space-time continuum." Keliaya@anncarise: "You mean you're using a phase cloak?" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "I believe that term accurately describes the phase-shift function of this vessel." Emma Ralde@crystyll: 'mutters, "I swear, it's like someone wrote a book of all the crazy tech ideas Starfleet tried and threw out. Then built a society of them..." Keliaya@anncarise: "At least we don't have to investigate this. I'm pretty sure it was...the Voth? Someone got them working properly, so we know it can be used safely with the right technology and methods." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "I only even know about it from my ties to Intel. It wasn't a high profile tech like spore drive or omega, just a failed attempt to usurp the Romulan treaty and develop a cloak" Keliaya@anncarise | On the screen, part of the Regulator ship passes right through one of the Horde vessels in its path, sneaking out of the tachyon grid. Emma Ralde@crystyll watches, impressed, "Kind of makes you wonder where we'd be now if Starfleet had more aggressively pursued these endeavours without diplomatic pressure holding them back" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "We might have ships like this one already." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Though the Terran vessel came from such a universe and they didn't seem any better off..." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 1: "But you would not use them responsibly. Your culture must develop on par with your technology. Unprecedented spikes in technological level are often followed by catastrophic events - Keliaya@anncarise: - that either result in self-destruction or a forced reset of technological development." Keliaya@anncarise: "Maybe the Terrans were too busy fighting themselves that it becomes a setback to their development." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Very true. That's why we have our Prime Directive and strict rules like you do about the sharing of technology" Keliaya@anncarise FX | Suddenly, the screen lights up with flashes, and before anyone can react, the ship shakes violently, sending everyone stumbling or flying across the room. Emma Ralde@crystyll braces against the nearby console, tring to grab Kelly as well, "What the Hell?! Did they detect us?" Keliaya@anncarise stumbles but is grabbed by Emma in time. The Regulators tumble around as well but recover quickly, save for the Elachi, where some kind of energy flows down the tubes connecting his suit, - Keliaya@anncarise: - knocking him to the ground unconscious. Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Navigator!" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 1: "No...the phase-shift is failing. They've bombarded the area with hundreds of torpedoes with various phase discriminator configurations..." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "They are much smarter than we thought, even with what we saw on Terminu..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Then we need to get out of here" she runs over to check on the Navigator, or see closer at least if he's still sealed in the chamber Keliaya@anncarise | Two of the Operators rush over to the chamber. It is sealed, but they open the door, checking him. A second later, he disappears in a flash. Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 4: "He is alive, but he requires medical attention. He could not navigate in his present state." Keliaya@anncarise | On the screen, the Horde ships close in again. Several appear to be heavily damaged and there are even pieces of wreckage...it seems the Horde hurt themselves just as much as they hurt the - Emma Ralde@crystyll: "What now then? Please tell me you have a conventional warp drive as well..." Keliaya@anncarise: - Regulator ship with this maneuver. Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 1: "We're trying to activate the emergency coaxial warp system, but it's not responding." Keliaya@anncarise | The Horde ships open fire, but the vessel doesn't shake this time as its defenses are online, blocking the attacks. There is no return fire, but several of the Horde ships instantaneously - Keliaya@anncarise: - crumble into balls of metal before them, Keliaya@anncarise | A single dark purple glow fires from the Regulator ship, impacting another Horde ship coming from a different angle, A dark cloud expands as it impacts its target, disintegrating the dozen or - Keliaya@anncarise: - so ships around it. Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 2: "The coaxial warp drive will need repairs. We will hold off the assault until then." Keliaya@anncarise | More Horde ships crumble on the viewscreen, but the image flashes to the local map again, showing the over one thousand signatures around them... Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Your defenses are formidable, but that's a lot of ships out there..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Kelly knows warp drives better than anyone I know. You should let her help you" Keliaya@anncarise steps over, "I'll do what I can, but I've never worked on a coaxial one before. I only know them by theory." Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulators allow her to approach a console as they work frantically on the others. Keliaya@anncarise shakes her head, "There's too much damage to the systems. I could reconfigure it to function as a standard warp drive, but in this state it'll take hours, and that's accounting for miracles - Keliaya@anncarise: - that Regulator tech might be capable of. Power levels in the ship are stable, but only the impulse and mycelial displacement drive is functional enough to be activated." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "We only have one Elachi navigator on board each Survey Vessel." Keliaya@anncarise looks over to Emma, "The Elachi said the drive needs someone with a connection to the network to function, didn't he?" Emma Ralde@crystyll looks back, "Yeah?" obviously not thinking what Kelly's thinking Keliaya@anncarise | The ship rocks slightly again as Horde ships continue to break like waves upon a stone at the Regulator vessel. Keliaya@anncarise: "You said you were...remade somehow in the accident. Do you think..." Emma Ralde@crystyll stares back wide eyed as she stumbles, "You're not suggesting...? Oh nonono. After what that thing did to me before, there has to be another way!" Emma Ralde@crystyll actually backs away from the cell with that Keliaya@anncarise: "These dark energy fields are strong, magnitudes stronger than even a starbase's shields, but they are dispersing under the sustained assault, and there's still more Horde ships yet to join in." Keliaya@anncarise: "We might be able to get conventional warp going in a few hours, but it probably won't be enough to outrun the Horde. The mycelial displacement drive is our only way out." Keliaya@anncarise looks to the Regulators, "How's the Elachi?" Emma Ralde@crystyll slowly forces her gaze towards the cell, "But I haven't even a clue how to do what he does, even if it /could/ work. It would be like making a blind jump to warp 10 without even setting a course!" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 2: "Asking for update. Still unconscious. Medical Operators have no timescale on full recovery." Keliaya@anncarise: "It's risky, but space is more empty than populated. The chances of ending up somewhere more dangerous than where we are now has to be lower than the chances of survival." Keliaya@anncarise nods and sighs, "I don't like this either, but it might be the only chance we have." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "Update: the Supervisor is ordering a self-destruct in one hour if we do not find a means of escape. This vessel's technology must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Horde." Emma Ralde@crystyll stumbles again as the ship is rocked, "...Fine! But if I finally die, I will come back and haunt you" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And we're assuming this is even possible still..." Keliaya@anncarise: "Looks like it's between trying this or self-destruct..." Emma Ralde@crystyll steps over to the Operators, "Alright. Plug me in and tell me what to do" Keliaya@anncarise | The two Operators who beamed the Elachi away begin to plug Emma in, "We're not quite sure how to navigate the network, but you'll be connected to it as soon as we activate the drive." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Great. So... needle in a galaxy sized haystack with no instructions. Just... great" Keliaya@anncarise: "Just try to...not crash us anywhere. Don't aim for a place in particular, we just need to get away." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Top tip" Keliaya@anncarise | The two Operators step out of the chamber as they finish connecting Emma and it seals shut... Keliaya@anncarise: "Stay as calm as you can, Ensign. If you panic, this is more likely to go wrong." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Don't worry. I've got one thing on my mind" she answers steely eyed Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "We will activate the drive in twenty-five. Twenty. Fifteen. Ten." Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 3: "Five. Four. Three. Two. One..." Emma Ralde@crystyll gasps, eyes rolling back in her head while her body falls limp in the chamber to be supported only by the bracing holding her up Keliaya@anncarise looks at the chamber with concern, "Is she alright?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Just as before, the ship jumps away. Though clearly not such a smooth ride, as much to it's combat damage as Emma's work no doubt Emma Ralde@crystyll | It also continues, no sign of stopping as the journey gets increasingly turbulent... Keliaya@anncarise and the Regulators brace on nearby consoles as the ship continues on... Keliaya@anncarise: "Ensign! Can you hear me?" Emma Ralde@crystyll remains completely shut down, her only change seeming to be degradation of her condition as she sweats profusely and a trickle of green blood is visible from her nose and ear Emma Ralde@crystyll 's eyes are also completely glazed over, like the eyes of blind person almost Keliaya@anncarise tries to make her way over to the chamber in the turbulence, stumbling a few times, "Emma! You have to exit somewhere!" Keliaya@anncarise looks over to the Regulators, "Is it safe to get her out of there?" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 1: "I would advise against it." Keliaya@anncarise: "She doesn't seem in control! We should be away from the Horde already, but I think the only way we can stop is if we pull her out!" Keliaya@anncarise | Operator 2: "Or we may stop in an in-between layer." Keliaya@anncarise makes her way up to the chamber, trying to open it, "We'll do that anyways if she dies in there!" Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulators look towards one another, their expressions hidden behind their active helmets. Then, two of them begin levitating over to the chamber with no heed for the turbulence. Keliaya@anncarise | One of them pulls Kelly back, who opens her mouth to complain...but sees the other open the door. They drop Kelly further down and levitate into the chamber, beginning to disconnect Emma. Keliaya@anncarise tries to get back to the chamber, but now finds an invisible field blocking her way. Emma Ralde@crystyll | As soon as they begin to disconnect, the ship would drop back into normal space with a violent shake like it slammed into one of the Regulators invisible barriers Keliaya@anncarise stumbles and drops to the ground, while the Regulators all levitate around her to counteract the turbulence. One of them helps her up and she looks over to the chamber, where the two finish - Keliaya@anncarise: - disconnecting Emma and scans her for lifesigns through their helmet interfaces. Emma Ralde@crystyll fully disconnected, falls limp out of the chamber and faceplants at the feet of the regulators. Eyes still glazed and completely unresponsive. The trickle of gleen blood leaving a telling stain + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + beneath her temple on the floor Keliaya@anncarise | One of the Regulators leans down and taps the red button on her bracelet twice before stepping back, and Emma disappears in the flash of a Regulator transporter. Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator 4: "She is alive. We have transported her for medical attention." Keliaya@anncarise breathes a sigh of relief before looking to the viewscreen, which once again displays a clear black star field, "Now just to figure out where we ended up..." --- Keliaya@anncarise | Emma finally stirs awake after an unknown amount of time... Emma Ralde@crystyll looks around in a daze before tentatively trying to sit up some. She doesn't recognize her surroundings or know what's going on, but recognizes the feeling of unease across her body Keliaya@anncarise | Emma looks to be in sickbay of some description, though a very unfamiliar one. It is very dark with minimal lighting, and she can only make out the shape of other beds and people. Emma Ralde@crystyll sits up more to get a better look. Her senses slowly returning as she surmizes this must be on the Regulator ship, "Wh-... what happened...?" Emma Ralde@crystyll sits in a Lounge chair. Keliaya@anncarise | A female Regulator without a suit steps up to her, "Good, you're awake. Take it slow. You were in quite an ordeal. Do you remember what happened before you lost consciousness?" Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head before hesitating, "I... no. Wait, we were under attack from the Horde" she slowly nods, soon going wide eyed with recollection, "The chamber!" Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator nods and smiles, "You have your memories. That's good." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "What happened? I feel like I went 10 rounds of blade dancing with a Morakos..." Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "Your body is alright. You didn't suffer any damage we couldn't repair, and you've recovered surprisingly quickly. I can give you something for the lingering effects." Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "As for what happened, well...you got us away from the Horde, but into a new situation. We have more time now though, but we're going to need a navigator to get out of here." Emma Ralde@crystyll looks around, "Of course, the Navigator. How is he?" expecting him to be here still Keliaya@anncarise | As her eyes adjust to the dim lighting, she can see that he is indeed still here. Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "He is recovering as well, but your rather unique physiology has allowed you to recover faster." Emma Ralde@crystyll grabs her head, wobbling as she sits up and nods to the earlier offer, "Something for the lingering effects does still sound good though" Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator nods and takes a device, injecting something like a hypo before standing back, "This should revitalize you." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Thanks" she comments, idly rubbing the injected spot, "So you said we're in a different situation...? What exactly happened? The last thing I remember was them activating the chamber" Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "We exited the mycelial network at a seemingly random point in space-time. It turned out this was a very poor point for us." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Oh..." she hangs her head with disappointment, "I failed us didn't I..." Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator shakes her head, "This isn't an ideal exit point, but we would all be dead if you didn't jump us away. We still may die, but you've bought us more time, at least." Keliaya@anncarise | Regulator: "The one who came with you is working with our technical Operators to restructure the ship. You should find her location marked on your bracelet." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Um... thanks. I guess I should go face the music and see what mess I landed us in then" Emma Ralde@crystyll hops off the bed cautiously, wobbling some but managing confident enough steps Keliaya@anncarise | The Regulator smiles, "Just remember to take it slow for now." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "No worries there" smiling in kind as she heads out, with only a slight further wobble and discretely bracing herself against the doorframe Emma Ralde@crystyll gets clear and checks her bracelet for Kelly's location Keliaya@anncarise | The bracelet helpfully informs her of Kelly's location on the map. Emma Ralde@crystyll follows the map Keliaya@anncarise | As she walks through the ship, the first thing she notices is that the halls are just as dark as the sickbay. As she nears a lift, the doors do not open and she hears the whine of machines as - Keliaya@anncarise - it appears to just turn on at her approach before sending the lift to her location. The whole place seems to be running on low power. Keliaya@anncarise | The lift is still activated via the bracelet, and brings her to a different deck of the ship, just as dark. As Emma proceed through it, she notices that previously, about half the people - Keliaya@anncarise - in the halls were clad in Regulators suits and the other in simple casual clothing or undersuits. Now, it seemed that half the people were in their undersuits and almost the other half in - Keliaya@anncarise - casual clothing, with only one suited Regulator passing her by, his helmet not even active over his face. Keliaya@anncarise | More holographic interfaces have also sprung up all over the place where there was none before, likely to compensate for the suits which otherwise provided most of the interfaces. Emma Ralde@crystyll figures an increasingly bad situation the more she sees and feels increasingly sick to the pit of her stomach as a result of the guilt for causing this Keliaya@anncarise | Before long, Emma enters a larger room which houses a warp core, though the composition looks very rough, like what one would expect to find on a pirate or scavenger ship rather than a proper - Keliaya@anncarise - military vessel, let alone a Regulator ship. Once again, there is only one suited Regulator in the room, with the rest working in their undersuits. Keliaya@anncarise | The bracelet informs Emma that Kelly is just on the platforms above her. Emma Ralde@crystyll looks around at the increasingly grim picture before seeing a way up Keliaya@anncarise | There is a small lift on the other side of the makeshift warp core. Emma Ralde@crystyll heads up the platform level and looks around for Kelly Keliaya@anncarise is working on a holographic interface next to the warp core while speaking to a male Operator in a jumpsuit. Emma Ralde@crystyll slinks her way over to them, "Kelly...?" she hesitantly ventures as draws up behind them Keliaya@anncarise turns and smiles widely as she sees Emma, "Emma! You're up! How're you feeling?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Still a little disorientated... and confused. Mostly confused... what happened after I entered the chamber?" Keliaya@anncarise: "You passed out and lost control of where we were going. We had to pull you out. I was worried I got you killed by asking you to go into that chamber." Keliaya@anncarise smiles again, "I'm so glad to see you up and walking again." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You and me both on that front" she looks around, fraught, "So... how bad is it? The one in sickbay suggested a less than ideal place, and the ship doesn't exactly look at it's best..." Keliaya@anncarise: "The ship's fine. This thing's practically a Borg cube. It's where we are that's the problem." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And where exactly is that...?" Keliaya@anncarise steps over, activating a different holographic interface and showing a field of stars. She zooms the image in on one particular cluster of stars, "This is the Orion constellation. Judging from - Keliaya@anncarise: - angle we're looking at it and how visible it is, we're somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant. But that's not the issue. Based on stellar positions, the ship calculates that we're more than two thousand - Keliaya@anncarise: - years into the future. And something's gone wrong. Very wrong." Emma Ralde@crystyll 's eyes widen with shock, "Wait... 2 /thousand/ years?! How is that even possible?!" Emma Ralde@crystyll rests her face in her hands, shaking her head, "Goddess, it's all my fault isn't it. I've doomed us!" Keliaya@anncarise: "Apparently the network connects to various points in spacetime. We can traverse hundreds of lightyears in a second, but we can also traverse hundreds of years in a second." Keliaya@anncarise sets a hand on Emma's shoulder, "Hey, you did well. You got us away from the Horde. That's more than anyone could've asked for at that moment with the navigator out." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "But..." shakes her head, taking a deep breath, "No, you're right. We're alive, right. But... again the one in sickbay suggested we may still be in danger, just not as imminent?" Keliaya@anncarise nods and zooms out on the image, "Look closely." Emma Ralde@crystyll studies the image Keliaya@anncarise | The image is surprisingly colourful, with a large number of nebulae and faint stars in the backdrop. But there's no bright stars. Emma Ralde@crystyll squints, shaking her head, "Sorry, not seeing what you're seeing" Emma Ralde@crystyll obviously doesn't think anything of the lack of bright stars on the unfamiliar display Keliaya@anncarise swipes the image to show a sensor map, which makes it more clear. Around them, there are many nebulae and black holes. But not a single star on the map, only stellar cores. Emma Ralde@crystyll: "That's... an awful lot of nebulae and black holes. I assume that's not normal for this region of space or something?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "We're not sure exactly what region this is, but it's not normal anywhere. Every single star in this region has gone supernova. The closest star we can see is over 400 lightyears away. We - Keliaya@anncarise: - only have the visual data, so it's possible it has already gone supernova, but the light won't reach us for centuries. For all we know, the whole Milky Way galaxy could be gone." Keliaya@anncarise: "This region is completely uninhabitable. Even if any planets survived being ejected by a supernova, the background radiation would kill most known forms of life. And something's wrong with the - Keliaya@anncarise: - dark matter here. That's why," she motions around herself, "everything's like this." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "The dark matter... so the ship's normal power source doesn't work?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Exactly. That's why I've been helping them convert their dark matter reactor into a matter-antimatter reactor. We're lucky they still use dilithium for some technologies, so there's enough - Keliaya@anncarise: - of a supply to keep everything running on low power, and the Regulators are supplementing it with any dark energy they can harness, but dark energy is a very limited power source." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "But what does all this mean? How can the galaxy be... dead? I've never heard any predictions about a natural end within such a short span of time" Keliaya@anncarise: "I don't know. It could just be this corner of the galaxy. We don't have enough data to figure out what's happened here, and we've only just got sensors online a few hours ago." Emma Ralde@crystyll wobbles on her feet, "This is too much..." she takes a step back with the wobble, holding her head Keliaya@anncarise nods, "It's a lot to take in. I have to keep reminding myself that this is far off. We don't even know if it is our universe, or a different reality entirely. We've got our own problems in the - Keliaya@anncarise: - present to deal with." Emma Ralde@crystyll gives a firm nod, "Right. We need to find a way back" Keliaya@anncarise: "The Regulators have tried to contact the Administration of this time, but they've been having no luck. Conventional warp will take us years, we might have a shortcut if the Bajoran wormhole is - Keliaya@anncarise: - still active, but even then we're still in the wrong time. There's no stars to slingshot around, and pulling off that maneuver around a black hole is a coin toss. 50% chance we can slingshot away, - Keliaya@anncarise: - but the other 50% means we get pulled inside and crushed. The only way back is the way we came." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "We need the navigator. He was still in sickbay but they said he was due to make a full recovery" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Apparently I only fared better because of my condition" Keliaya@anncarise: "I hope he wakes up soon, then. This ship doesn't have the largest supply of dilithium. It's keeping us going for now and we should be able to route enough power to activate the mycelial - Keliaya@anncarise: - displacement drive again, but we're burning fuel on essential systems. We can't wait forever." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Just tell me what you need me to do to help. I got us into this mess, I'll do whatever I can to get us out of it" Keliaya@anncarise: "The Regulators know what they're doing with matter-antimatter technology surprisingly well considering they don't use it on a daily basis. But most of them have the lifespan of an average Orion. We - Keliaya@anncarise - can use someone with your experience. You've watched this technology advance from before there were vertical warp cores, and you've worked in Engineering before." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Alright. It's been a while, but I don't suppose we're exactly working to Starfleet specs here are we" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I still say you know these better than anyone, but I'll help however I can!" Keliaya@anncarise chuckles, "I'm sure you can still help. Even with my best efforts, we'll run out of fuel to power the drive within two days. We want to improve the core efficiency as much as we can." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Shouldn't be too difficult. Question is whether we can improve it enough" Keliaya@anncarise: "I know the transkinetic chamber can still use some work, but I haven't gotten around to improving it yet. It's a good place to start." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "On it!" marching off in that direction Emma Ralde@crystyll passes back a moment later, muttering sheepishly and pointing ahead, "It's that way..." --- Keliaya@anncarise FX | After an hour of work, Kelly steps up behind Emma again, "How's it going, Ensign?" Emma Ralde@crystyll turns, smiling, "Surprising how much it comes back once you start fiddling with it all again" Keliaya@anncarise smiles back, "I know that feeling. Well, probably not as well as you, but I was off-duty for a significant period of time during and after the whole Iconian conflict." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You and many others. That one really struck home for a lot of folks" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "I don't recall if you've told me- were you already at the New World then?" Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head, "Not quite, but it was after I resigned my commission. At the time I'd been reconnecting with my roots and got to working with some of the Tabadi's back on Rigel" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Even they suffered with that war and it was around the time that Vora was starting to make waves with the Arshai at Vue En. So, figuring the Tabadi's I worked with there would just end up repeating + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + same tired old cycle, I decided to explore the new frontier option and headed out to Vue En then. Go figure that those upstarts actually ended up succeeding!" she chuckles Keliaya@anncarise chuckles, "Well, Vue-En's doing fairly well for itself as well. I'm assuming these Tabadis were the same ones that formed the OSN?" Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "Indeed they were! Had I even imagined the success they had in such a short space of time I probably would have stuck with them" Keliaya@anncarise: "They've definitely made very impressive progress. I've only seen the OSN as it is now. What was it like when you worked for them?" Emma Ralde@crystyll laughs, "Not even an organization! They were just a bunch of Tabadi's growing increasingly frustrated with the societal imbalance. The spark of an uprising that lacked a purpose" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Of course, I remember serving still in the original OSN so after I got to talking to some of them about it; telling them about our glory years, they got inspired and started to get coordinated" Keliaya@anncarise widens her eyes, "You served in the original OSN? How long ago was that?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "They've been around for centuries before it collapsed with the last male uprising in the mid 23rd century" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I didn't exactly see it at it's finest, but I remember it well enough for it to have stuck" Keliaya@anncarise smiles, "So I suppose we could credit you with the reformation of the OSN to some degree, with how you inspired the Tabadis." Emma Ralde@crystyll chuckles sheepishly, "I don't know about that... it would have happened eventually I'm sure" Keliaya@anncarise: "Maybe, but you played a role in the way it is now. What got you to work for them in the first place? Just wanted to find ways to help your own people?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Pretty much. What we'd been reduced with the Syndicate's rise was a disgusting perversion of my people" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "I might not be Orion, but I've seen the conditions a lot of your people lived in under the Syndicate, and just about everyone knows what they've done to your reputation. No one deserves - Keliaya@anncarise: - that, especially not a people with culture as rich as your own." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles warmly, "At least now people are starting to see us as more than sex slaves, and that we actually /have/ a rich culture" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Or... had... it's probably gone now along with the rest of the galaxy isn't it..." Keliaya@anncarise shakes her head, "We don't know that for sure. But even if it is, this is two thousand years into the future. I imagine you've had a pretty good run, even if everything is gone now." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I guess..." shakes the thought from her mind, "Sorry. It's hard not to think about all that" Keliaya@anncarise smiles reassuringly, "If there's one thing I learned through all of our recent conflicts, it's that the future's never certain. It could be great, or maybe whatever caused all this happens within - Keliaya@anncarise: - our lifetimes. I mean...you might very well live to see it. But we can't dwell on what might happen. As much preparation as we've done, the Horde could still get us. You saw what they did to this - Keliaya@anncarise: - ship despite its advanced technologies. None of us might have a future. We have to think about the present, and do the best we can with the time we're living right now." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I know, I just can't help but keep dwelling on the others. I mean, what if we don't make it back? They'll end up leaving us behind. Rianni..." Keliaya@anncarise: "That's why you don't think about it. You think about everything you can do to make sure we get back. I promise I'll do everything I can." Keliaya@anncarise: "And when we do get back and we get Rianni back, then you make the most of the time you have with her. That's all anyone can do. There's always going to be factors beyond our control." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It's thinking about it that is keeping me focused on getting us back" Keliaya@anncarise: "Then try to think about the good things. Don't dwell on what might happen if things go wrong. That'll just distract you." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "Of course" Keliaya@anncarise smiles, "Don't worry. We'll make it through this. You got us out from being surrounded by a thousand Horde vessels on a damaged ship. If we can do that, we can manage a power crisis." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, "Of course we can. Speaking of, I should probably get back to it..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Appreciate the pep talk though, thank you" Keliaya@anncarise smiles back, "Always happy to help. Stay focused, but don't be afraid to take a break if you need one too. You just woke up from hurtling us through spacetime after all, and being overworked - Keliaya@anncarise: - doesn't help anyone. You've already done more than I'd ask of any officer in a regular situation." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And I'll keep at it until we find a way home" she nods, adding after a moment, "With regular breaks" and smiles Keliaya@anncarise grins, making her way across the room, "You know how to find me if you need anything!" Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles and nods, turning to resume her work --- Keliaya@anncarise FX | Another day passes on the Regulator ship, and as Emma works on improving the makeshift warp core's efficency, she notices the Elachi and a suited Regulator female walking into the room. Emma Ralde@crystyll turns with a smile of relief, "Navigator! Good to see you back on your feet" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Back on my feet, yes, but there is a slight...complication." Emma Ralde@crystyll 's face drops to one of concern, "That's... less reassuring..." Keliaya@anncarise steps over from the other side of the room, having noticed the two arriving as well. Keliaya@anncarise | Meanwhile, the female Regulator speaks, "I am Supervisor 9118-127-030. I was informed that we would only have enough energy supplies to maintain the vessel for one more day before we run out of - Keliaya@anncarise: - energy to power the mycelial displacement drive. I was also informed by the medical Operators that Operator 9090-241-006 needed at least two more days of rest before his body recovers enough to - Keliaya@anncarise: - navigate the drive again." Keliaya@anncarise: "But he's up and walking now, isn't he?" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "I could have been up and walking two days ago. The medical Operators elected to keep me unconscious until my body woke naturally, to maximize my recovery time." Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "But that's not an option right now." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "So... what exactly is your situation now? If you don't mind my asking, I mean" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "I cannot navigate us through the network. While I would be content with sacrificing my personal health to save this ship, if I were to expire while navigating, it would simply send - Keliaya@anncarise: - us to another random point in spacetime which may be just as problematic as where we are right now." Keliaya@anncarise | The Supervisor looks to Emma, "But the medical Operators inform me that you've recovered enough to navigate again." Keliaya@anncarise: "You want to put her back in there? After what happened last time?" Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "She saved us all last time." Keliaya@anncarise: "And almost died doing it!" Emma Ralde@crystyll follows the back and forth with her gaze, "The point is moot. I might be able to survive trying again, but I'd just get us completely lost again. I still have no idea /how/ to navigate the network" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "That is why the Supervisor ordered the medical Operators to wake me ahead of time. While I cannot navigate personally, I can prepare and guide you." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Could that really work?" Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "The Operator tells me that it can, and he knows the mycelial network better than anyone here." Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "You are connected to the network as well. It is not as difficult as you may think. You were simply unprepared the first time." Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "We'll also take precautions to make the process impact you less physically." Emma Ralde@crystyll looks between the pair, doubt sprawled across her face, "Is there really no other option...?" Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "There is slingshotting around a black hole, or using our original navigator, but both are as likely to kill us as they are to save us. Your assistance provides the highest odds of - Keliaya@anncarise: - success and is therefore the avenue we wish to pursue first." Emma Ralde@crystyll sighs heavily, "How long until we have to make the attempt?" Keliaya@anncarise: "By our current dilithium reserves, 20 hours. I won't order you to do this, Ensign. Only if you're sure." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It's like they said, we have no other real option do we? I just... I need time to put a few things to rest" she glances down, "You know, in case..." Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Take all the time you need." Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "We will await you in the drive room when you are ready." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I'll try not to keep you long" looking to the Navigator, "I assume the more time we have to prepare, the better our chances are of making this work?" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Yes. Come to the drive room as soon as you are ready." Emma Ralde@crystyll gives a slight nod, glancing over her shoulder to Kelly, "Excuse me Commander, I...." she shakes her head a little and hustles away Emma Ralde@crystyll visibly picks up her pace as she nears the door Keliaya@anncarise nods and turns back to her work, leaving Emma alone for now. Emma Ralde@crystyll turns the corner as she resists breaking into a run under the feeling of suffocating under her collar Emma Ralde@crystyll pauses out of sight and collapses back against the wall, tugging her collar loose and fighting to control her breathing Emma Ralde@crystyll takes a moment to steady herself before checking the bracelet for any quiet recreational areas. Somewhere serene but not sealed in as much as her quarters Keliaya@anncarise | Despite the functional nature of most of the Regulator ship, the map does identify a small number of areas designated 'reflection rooms.' Emma Ralde@crystyll quickly identifies the nearest such room and begins walking, head swimming with distractions Emma Ralde@crystyll finds her way there and enters the reflection room Keliaya@anncarise | Upon entering, she finds that the reflection room is a circular meditation chamber. Keliaya@anncarise FX | https://i.imgur.com/iVS9hsu.jpg Emma Ralde@crystyll drops to sit on the step, bringing her knees up and wrapping her arms around them, she buries her face and just sits there for a while Emma Ralde@crystyll eventually gets a grip on herself and after shifting around some, pacing the room etc. she settles to a more comfortable sitting position back on 'her' step where she starts working on a PADD Keliaya@anncarise FX | Some time passes and the door slides open, followed by Kelly stepping inside, "Emma?" Emma Ralde@crystyll looks up, back in her seated position, only with her chin resting on her arms folded around her knees, "Commander" she smiles faintly Keliaya@anncarise smiles back and walks over to take a seat on the steps as well, "I can only imagine what you're feeling now. You never did like this technology much, did you? With all it's done to you." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Even countless centuries into the future I can't escape it. It stole my life away from me and it feels like it keeps refusing to let me have any back" Emma Ralde@crystyll slumps, "Commander... Kelly, I'm scared. I don't want to die..." Keliaya@anncarise: "I don't think anyone here does. The Regulators generally know what they're doing when it comes to calculations, so when the Supervisor says you're the best chance we have of getting out of her, I - Keliaya@anncarise: - think she's right. I promise, this is the last time anyone'll ask you to use this technology again." Keliaya@anncarise smiles reassuringly, "Just one more time, and we'll all make it out alive. Then you can live your life as you want to." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, "I appreciate the sentiment, but you don't need to placate with promises you can't ever hope to hold up. Nobody can make such a promise, the fact that we're here having this discussion is + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + proof of that" she sighs, "And I've no doubt the Regulators have crunched their numbers and this is the best chance for the ship. But it doesn't make any guarantee for me. I know how close I came + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + dying in that chamber before. Nothing anyone can say will convince me this time will be any better" Keliaya@anncarise nods and sighs as well, "I know, and I don't want to try and convince you after what happened last time. But without you, we might all die anyways, one way or another." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "What is that old Vulcan proverb? The needs of the many" Emma Ralde@crystyll turns to face Kelly, "I will do it. I'm not selfish as to make this crew - and you - sacrifice yourselves just so I'm not the only one to die here" Keliaya@anncarise: "I'd go in there myself if I could, but like the Navigator said, it needs to be someone with a connection to the network. It's not fair for you to risk your life, especially after what it's done to - Keliaya@anncarise: - you already. But you're the only one who can do this, so...thank you, for what it's worth." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles again, "Let's get this over with. I just have one request..." she pulls out the PADD, gaze lingering on it in her hand Keliaya@anncarise looks to the PADD and back to Emma, "Anything you like." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "This..." she sniffles, taking a deep steadying breath, "you know. It's for her..." she shuts her eyes tight, extending her hand with the PADD blindly towards Kelly Keliaya@anncarise nods and takes the PADD, "If we survive this but you don't, I'll make sure it gets to her." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Thank you" she smiles again, standing, "Well, guess that's it then. Can't hide in here forever can I" Keliaya@anncarise stands as well, "If you're sure you're ready." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Oh, I'm sure I'm not ready..." she chuckles morosely as they head out Keliaya@anncarise FX | As Emma and Kelly return to the drive room, they find the Supervisor and Navigator waiting for them, along with a number of Operators in their undersuits. The Supervisor and Navigator are - Keliaya@anncarise: - only two in their full suits, but there is an empty suit with the front open by the chamber and two Regulators in their undersuits working on it. Keliaya@anncarise | The Elachi steps over towards Emma, "Here you are. I am glad you did not tarry long." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I'm sorry if I kept you waiting. I just... had to reconcile and prepare myself" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "But I'm ready now. Just tell me what to do and I promise I'll try my best to get you all home" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Understandable. Being unprepared was what made the network overwhelm you last time." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I still don't know if I'll be any more prepared for that. But I'm ready to face it" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "The first thing you need to know is that navigating the network is not like flying a starship. That is why we call it navigating, not flying. You are not a pilot." Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "It will take some control from you. That is normal. The mycelial network is not a series of roads. It is alive. If it were a series of roads, it is so infinitely vast that no mind - Keliaya@anncarise: - like ours can possibly find our way through it. Luckily, we do not have to." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "We... don't? I thought that was the point of navigating - to find our way through?" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Yes, but we do it with the help of the network. This is why a lifeform connected to the network is required for travel through it. The mycelial network has no interface for you to - Keliaya@anncarise: - input coordinates. /We/ are that interface. We are capable of navigating through the network because we can communicate with it." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "It's a living thing in it's own right. They said it had even formed sentient conduits to communicate with people before, but I never knew if it was true or not" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "It is very much true. We are but one part of the equation that allows the drive to function. Once the drive is powered up, focus on our destination. Spatial and temporal coordinates - Keliaya@anncarise: - are usually enough, but as we are trying to get back to a place we been before, mental imagery will do as well. The mycelial network will take that data and because of our connection, understand." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "So focus on the moment we left Terminu?" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Precisely. It will show you which path to take to get there. The information may be overwheming, so focus on our destination and reaching it. Think of nothing else." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I guess that was the problem before. I was focused on..." her cheeks turn a shade darker green, "Well, someone important. I thought about getting back to her and keeping her safe" Emma Ralde@crystyll frowns, "So why did that end us up out here across the galaxy and thousands of years later?" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "The mycelial network has a mind of its own. If you give it unclear or mixed information, it may misinterpret your intentions. Why we reached this particular point in spacetime could - Keliaya@anncarise: - have been random, or perhaps the network wanted us here for some reason. Even when the network does create conduits to communicate more directly, it is cryptic at best, and difficult for our minds - Keliaya@anncarise: - to fully comprehend." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Yeah, no kidding there..." Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Whatever the case, we cannot remain here. You may practice shutting out other thoughts and focusing on our destination, but there is no way to truly simulate the experience save - Keliaya@anncarise: - undergoing it." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "So... head first into the deep end then. Well isn't that just peachy" Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "You have already done this once. Hopefully, it will help with this attempt." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Is there nothing more I can do to prepare?" Keliaya@anncarise | The Navigator's helmet closes over his head, and a second later, Emma's bracelet flashes with data, "You can memorize the spatial and temporal coordinates of our destination. The more - Keliaya@anncarise: - information you have, the easier it will be for the network to understand you, so long as the information is relevant." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, looking over the data, "Every little helps, right" Keliaya@anncarise | The Navigator steps over, picking up a folded Regulator undersuit and handing it to Emma, "When you are ready, put this on. We have tailored it to your exact proportions." Emma Ralde@crystyll takes it, giving him a puzzled look, "What's this for?" Keliaya@anncarise | The Supervisor steps over, "Because you will be wearing a suit. We have modified one to connect to the chamber like our Navigator's. It will be less taxing than connecting directly to your body." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Makes sense" she nods, "Thank you" a puzzled look quickly returns, "Hey wait, how did you get my 'exact proportions' anyway?" Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "Our suits come with advanced aim assist functions which involve scanning an individual's proportions. However, the data for this undersuit was obtained from the medical Operators - Keliaya@anncarise: - who treated you while you were unconscious." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Well, ok I guess. But you know I was probably carrying a lot of stress weight then..." Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "And you are not still stressed now?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Well sure but..." she frowns a little, clutching the suit, "I'll just go get changed" she turns and heads out Emma Ralde@crystyll returns a short time later, all suited up Keliaya@anncarise smirks, "Looks pretty nice on you, Ensign." Emma Ralde@crystyll pinches the clingy material, shifting awkwardly, "Doesn't leave much to the imagine does it..." Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "That is the point. It is a second skin for the main suit to wrap around. In an emergency, it is possible to step into a suit with regular clothing, but the suit will not wrap - Keliaya@anncarise: - around you and fit properly, and the movement assistance will be slightly off and there may be discomfort with extended wear. Similar problems arise if you enter unclothed." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It is time then" Keliaya@anncarise | The Supervisor leads Emma over to the suit beside the chamber, "Just step inside and it will fit itself around you. We have disabled most functions save the basic movement assistance so you - Keliaya@anncarise: - will not accidentally activate anything. This is merely a connection port for the drive." Emma Ralde@crystyll follows. Pausing on their way to the suit at Kelly's side. She looks at her trying to find the words before settling for an unprofessional hug Keliaya@anncarise is briefly surprised by the hug before hugging Emma back, "Good luck." Emma Ralde@crystyll gives a silent nod and smile in gratitude before proceeding to step into the suit Keliaya@anncarise | There is a slight prickle at the back of her neck before the suit begins to wrap around her, soon encasing her body but not yet her head. One of the Operators opens the chamber door beside Emma - Keliaya@anncarise: - and steps aside for her. Emma Ralde@crystyll shudders at the strange sensation of the suit as it connects, tentatively making her way back into the chamber Keliaya@anncarise | As she walks inside, her movement feels a little different, but it doesn't feel like wearing an EV suit at all. It's almost like the suit feels like a part of her body now, and that it is her - Keliaya@anncarise: - new skin. Walking feels surprisingly lighter and more effortless, possibly the movement assistance the Supervisor mentioned. As she enters the chamber, the door closes behind her. Keliaya@anncarise | The Operators type on the holo-consoles and the tubes begin to extend from the top of the chamber like tendrils, connecting to the back of Emma's suit. As they connect, the helmet automatically - Keliaya@anncarise: - activates, enveloping her face. Save for a brief flicker, Emma finds that she can still see the world as she did before and she isn't looking through a screen or visor. The only difference is the - Keliaya@anncarise: - presence of a holographic overlay that seems to appear directly in her vision. Keliaya@anncarise | She sees the navigator's helmet close over his face as well and then hears his voice as clear as if he were right beside her, "Are you seeing everything properly?" Emma Ralde@crystyll takes a moment to get orientated with it. Smilling faintly as she looks out at everyone even though they can't see. She focuses, running through coordinates over and over in her head, "It's... a + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + little odd. But yes, all clear" Keliaya@anncarise | She finds that little infoblurbs appear if she focuses on something, detailing a species designation and basic physiological data if it is a person, and equipment name and function if a piece - Keliaya@anncarise: - of machinery. Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Excellent. We calibrated the suit for your Neural Encoder Implant frequency." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "This is quite fascinating actually... no, focus" she closes her eyes, trying to shut out the distraction of the gizmos and can be heard muttering the coordinates over and over again Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Yes. Stay focused. We will be activating the drive soon. You should see a countdown on your display." Emma Ralde@crystyll opens one eye to get a fix on the display Keliaya@anncarise | Indeed, a countdown from 60 appears floating in the middle of her vision. Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "Remember, think about every piece of information you have on our destination, but nothing else. The network will show you the way, and then focus on guiding us down that path." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "On it" Keliaya@anncarise | Meanwhile the viewscreen on the other side of the room behind Emma activates, though Emma can't actually see it. Keliaya@anncarise gives her a reassuring smile, "You can do this Emma." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Time to go home" Keliaya@anncarise | The countdown continues ticking down until it reaches 0, and the drive powers up, connecting her to the mycelial network again... Emma Ralde@crystyll gasps lightly as the connection forms, though somewhat less shocked by the experience this time Emma Ralde@crystyll closes her eyes and continues to focus, visualizing the moment they left Terminu; the positions of the ships around them etc. and cycling the coordinates over and over in her head Keliaya@anncarise | On the viewscreen, the characteristic lightning-like streaks form as the ship jumps away... Keliaya@anncarise | As Emma focuses on their destination, the information doesn't seem so overwhelming anymore as the network communicates only the path towards that one destination. Emma Ralde@crystyll keeps her focus, in her mind at least. In this state she has no idea if she is even conscious or not but presses on Keliaya@anncarise | Focused on the destination, she can...not quite see but feel the path they are on as the ship moves through the winding paths of the network. She doesn't know exactly which paths they are - Keliaya@anncarise - taking, just that this is the one the myclial network has highlighted for her. Soon, she reaches the end of the path and her communication with the network fades away... Emma Ralde@crystyll feels like she is still conscious, but isn't sure of anything still. Though pretty sure she's still alive and reaching the end of the journey Keliaya@anncarise | In the drive room, barely any time has passed as the ship jumps back out, the viewscreen showing Terminu with its defense grid deactivated and various allied ships orbiting around it. Emma Ralde@crystyll feels herself getting dizzy and disorientated. She blacks out, falling limp in the chamber from the exertion Keliaya@anncarise rushes over to the chamber, though the Operator beside it gets there first. The tubes disconnect from Emma's back and retract into the top of the chamber as the Operator opens the door and steps - Keliaya@anncarise - back, motioning for Kelly to stop as well while the navigator steps into the chamber to check on Emma. Emma Ralde@crystyll | He would find her almost passed out. Woozy and disorientated Keliaya@anncarise | Navigator: "You did it. You can rest now if you need." Emma Ralde@crystyll mumbles groggily, "No rest... have to... go... home..." before completely blacking out Keliaya@anncarise | The Supervisor steps up, using an override from inside her suit to remotely deactivate Emma's while checking her status. Emma Ralde@crystyll | She is physically well, no life threatening effects like last time. Just mentally exhausted Keliaya@anncarise | Supervisor: "She is well, just unconscious. I will have her transported back to her room." Keliaya@anncarise | The Supervisor taps Emma's bracelet and steps back, and a moment later she disappears into a Regulator transporter flash. Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | On the VF bridge, the lightning-streak effect of the jump envelops the Regulator ship, which contorts and disappears and jumps away...and then a split second later it pops right back in. Keelah@crystyll doubletakes at the viewscreen, "Did... I just imagine that?" looks to Lennie Keelah@crystyll | Lennie shakes her head, "Uncertain Cap'n. Got no readin' from 'em as normal, but there's changes to th'hull" Keelah@crystyll looks around, "Explain" Keelah@crystyll | Lennie: "I'm-a seein' latent energy signatures from torpedo strikes an' variations in radiation levels" Keelah@crystyll turns to Eva, "Hail them" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 nods and taps her console, and a second later a male Regulator wearing only an undersuit appears on the viewscreen. Keelah@crystyll: "Regulator vessel, what is your status? We are getting some strange readings over here and it appeared like your drive failed to engage" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Regulator: "Our drive engaged. We simply returned to the same point in time that we departed at. Your personnel will be returned to you soon, as soon as the one connected to the mycelial - Evanne Dra@annpc#5570: - network has regained consciousness. In the meantime, you are authorized to utilize the implant to assist members of endangered species on Terminu." Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Regulator: "I will send my full report, and I am confident the Administration will allow full implementation of the implant soon." Keelah@crystyll perks a brow, "I eagerly await that report. It sounds like there is a lot to be covered in it" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | The Regulator nods, "It has been an unexpectedly eventful journey. In the meantime, I will allow your personnel to contact you." Keelah@crystyll: "Thank you" she nods, turning to Eva, "I'll take it in my ready room" standing and heading that way Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 nods and transfers the call into the ready room. Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Inside, Kelly's visage appears on Keelah's monitor, smiling, "Captain. It's good to be back." Keelah@crystyll: "I get the impression you've been through a lot more than the blink of an eye you were gone for, Commander. What happened over there?" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly nods, "It's been a little more time for us than it has for you. I'll make a more detailed report when I get back, but I think their technology is safe to use. They've made a deal with - Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 - the Elachi which involves more refined technology and an Elachi navigator that operates the drive for them." Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "The Horde proved more resourceful than the Regulators anticipated though, and the navigator was knocked out when the ship was damaged. Ensign Ralde had to stand in and get the ship to - Evanne Dra@annpc#5570: - safety. She's alright, just resting right now." Keelah@crystyll leans forward a little, "When you say stand in... what exactly did she do? You make it sound like she's recovering from an ordeal. Is the Ensign alright?" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly nods again, "She had to connect herself to the mycelial network and coordinate the ship's jump. The first jump was more desperate, but she's fine now, just worn out." Keelah@crystyll: "Stars... sounds like quite the ordeal indeed. I'll get a full debrief with you once you're both safely back on board. Is there anything else we need to cover more imminently?" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "There is. The Regulators are allowing for limited implementation of the implant on the potential last members of certain species on Terminu. You have to get started right away." Keelah@crystyll nods, "We'll update things immediately" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "The Horde are gathering an even larger force about 60 lightyears away from here. The Regulators were detected by this force, which is what led to the situation we had. According to - Evanne Dra@annpc#5570: - Regulator sensor scans, they've found nothing else of interest in that fleet's vicinity to warrant Horde attention. I suspect the Guardians were right, and that fleet is meant for us." Keelah@crystyll: "How big a fleet are we talking here?" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "When we were there, the Horde already had over a thousand ships present. They didn't seem to be going anywhere yet, just waiting in a seemingly uninteresting region of deep space. They - Evanne Dra@annpc#5570: - could be waiting for more ships to arrive and the final fleet may well be even larger. If Terminu is their target, they can be here in a little over a month at cruising speed." Keelah@crystyll: "60 light years so quickly?" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "Well, our cruising speed. Most of their ships look a little less advanced, so we could have more time. But I think Terminu will be under attack soon, and this time by a force we won't - Evanne Dra@annpc#5570: - be able to fend off. We need to save everyone we can before they get here." Keelah@crystyll: "This is a problem. We can't stand against a force like that and evacuation of Terminu is not a feasible option. Even if it is, we could only fall back as far the New World before they are at risk" Keelah@crystyll: "We'll review the details in full when you and Emma get back" Evanne Dra@annpc#5570 | Kelly: "It shouldn't be long, she just needs some rest. I'll see you then, Captain." Keelah@crystyll nods, "Take care of yourselves" --- Keliaya@anncarise | Emma wakes up in her room on board the Regulator ship, still wearing the undersuit. After a few minutes, she hears the doorbell ring. Emma Ralde@crystyll slowly gets up, adjusting to her surroundings and heads over to the door Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles faintly, "Kelly!" Keliaya@anncarise stands outside and smiles back. She seems to be holding a folded uniform in her hands, "Sleep well?" Emma Ralde@crystyll stretches a little, still not fully with it, "I... guess. What happened?" she looks around, "We're not dead. I'm not dead!" she launches an exhilerated hug at Kelly, at the sudden revelation Keliaya@anncarise grins at Emma's excited reaction and frees a hand to hug Emma back, "You got us back to Terminu. And you didn't need any medical attention this time, just rest, so you're alright." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Really?! We made it back. Right time and everything?" she steps back, almost apologetic in her demeanour Keliaya@anncarise nods and smiles, "Well apparently we arrived immediately when we departed, so technically there were two of this vessel in existence in the universe for a brief period of time before we jumped - Keliaya@anncarise: - away from the Horde ships. But since we didn't interact with one another, it doesn't actually break anything." Emma Ralde@crystyll 's eyes widen a little, "That's... so accurate! It really worked then. we're home?" Keliaya@anncarise: "It did! All thanks to you, Emma." Keliaya@anncarise holds out the uniform, "I went and replicated a fresh uniform for you, since your old one was...a little punctured by connecting to the drive the first time without a Regulator suit." Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head, "Not all to me. It was everyone" she smiles taking the uniform, "Oh thank you!" Keliaya@anncarise: "Just throw the undersuit into the replicator when you're done. Or you can keep it if you like. It's tailored for you so the Regulators have no use for it." Emma Ralde@crystyll hrms, "Waste not want not I guess! Though it would be nice to change out of this thing. Can you give me a minute?" Keliaya@anncarise nods and turns away to give Emma some privacy. Emma Ralde@crystyll disappears back into her room for a few minutes as she changes and freshens up. She returns a short time later, fully refreshed and beaming happily Emma Ralde@crystyll: "There! Much more comfortable" Keliaya@anncarise smirks, "Those undersuits are as tight as they look, aren't they? They do look good, though." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Very snug" she nods with a chuckle Keliaya@anncarise: "Wonder if I can get the Regulators to make me one..." Emma Ralde@crystyll laughs, "It's the least you deserve!" Keliaya@anncarise laughs, "Anyways, we can head back to the Valley Forge whenever you're ready." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Sounds good" Keliaya@anncarise motions Emma along as she leads her way to the nearest lift. Emma Ralde@crystyll follows along eagerly Keliaya@anncarise knows to use the bracelet while inside the lift now, sending it towards a transporter room. Keliaya@anncarise briefly checks the map once the lift door opens before stepping out and heading for the transporter. Keliaya@anncarise | As they walk through the hall, Emma notices a missing panel exposing the machinery inside the ship, which appear to be rearranging itself of its own accord. Emma Ralde@crystyll pauses to look, "So I take it this place is up to full power again now?" Keliaya@anncarise: "Not quite, but they're converting everything back to dark matter reactions. It'll be fully restored soon enough." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "They really do have some impressive tech here don't they" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "They use a form of nanites, inspired by Borg technology but completely designed from scratch by the Regulators. I had a look at them, they're more like medical nanotechnology than Borg - Keliaya@anncarise: - nanites, just applied to a ship instead of a body. It's perfectly safe and proven Regulator tech used on all ships, not one of the special equipment this ship carries." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Kind of like ours for the armour?" Keliaya@anncarise: "Pretty much, just applied to the whole ship so they can alter systems and repair damage rapidly. The application is similar to how the Borg does it. That part is inspired by the Borg, but the - Keliaya@anncarise: - actual tech is different and closer to ours." Keliaya@anncarise steps into the transporter pad, where a Regulator Operator is working. Emma Ralde@crystyll follows, taking it all in like she may actually miss the place now Keliaya@anncarise smiles as she watches Emma, "Actually starting to get used to this place now?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It's been a wild ride. While I won't miss a lot of the ordeal, I will miss the people we got to know. Like the Supervisor and Navigator" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "You and me both. Time to go home now, though." Keliaya@anncarise looks over to the Operator, "Take us back to the Valley Forge." Emma Ralde@crystyll stands ready Keliaya@anncarise | They disappear into a Regulator transporter flash and reappears on one of VF's transporter pads. Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah stands beside the console, "Welcome back ladies" Keliaya@anncarise smiles, stepping off the pad, "Thank you, Captain. I promised you a full debriefing, didn't I?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah gives a slight nod, "First things first" looking to Emma with a warm smile and stepping forward, "How are you feeling, Ensign?" Emma Ralde@crystyll steps down and nods, "Ready for action Captain" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah chuckles, "You might regret that attitude later on. I don't know all the details yet, but I understand what you went through over there. I'm sorry to have put you in that position, but + Emma Ralde@crystyll + grateful for your actions and relieved to have you back with us" Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, "You and me both" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah waves the pair along, "Well then, if you're both feeling up to it, I would very much like to get caught up on things" Keliaya@anncarise smiles nods, "The Ensign certainly did more than anyone could've asked of her. So, onto the ready room?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah nods and turns to lead the way Keliaya@anncarise follows Keelah to the ready room. Emma Ralde@crystyll falls in behind her seniors Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah settles behind her desk, letting them make themselves comfortable without invitation as is expected from habit by now Keliaya@anncarise takes a seat in one of the chairs in front of the desk, "Well, this is going to make for a very eventful report..." Emma Ralde@crystyll waits for everyone else, then settles in the empty seat Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah smiles, "Then refreshments are in order" she turns and prepares some tea from the replicator while they begin Keliaya@anncarise smiles back, "Thank you. Now where to start..." Keliaya@anncarise thinks for a second before continuing, "The initial jump went well, and the technology appears to be safe from everything we'd seen. They had the Elachi and the knowledge of the Elachi to make - Keliaya@anncarise: - sure their vessel traverses the mycelial network without harming it, and the Navigator- the Elachi on board their ship that is, claimed that the Regulator ship was almost undistinguishable from - Keliaya@anncarise: - one of their own passing through the network." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah, "So your assessment of the technology is that no threat is posed to the network?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "That's what I think, but the Ensign here is more familiar with the network than I am," she looks over to Emma. Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Well I can't speak for the stability of the drive, given what we experienced. But the only threat that poses is to the crew who use it, not the mycellial network" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "So yes. As far as I can tell, we can take the Elachi Navigator at his acceptance of the safety to the network. It is his home after all, so if there were any threat then he would be the first to act" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah nods along as she listens, "Good enough for me. I'll acknowledge the investigation in my report and we'll consider the matter closed then" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah leans in, presenting them both cups of fresh tea, "Now that's out of the way. What about the rest of your trip?" Keliaya@anncarise: "Well everything that happened was triggered by an outside source, so it doesn't necessarily represent the safety of the technology. But it's certainly not as stable as a conventional warp drive and - Keliaya@anncarise: - requires very specific resources and people to work. Like the Ensign said though, the only danger we've seen is to the crew." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "So if you lose that connected person, you're stuffed" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah smiles at the colourful terminology, "Fair enough. What about this startling discovery with the Horde? What transpired out there?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "As for what the outside source was, I mentioned that we jumped 60 lightyears and found a Horde fleet. They spotted the ship but it utilized a phase cloak to hide itself and try to escape." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah perks a brow, "Phase cloak? -no, I don't want to know. One elicit technology is enough for today. Please" she gestures to continue Keliaya@anncarise: "Well we almost got away, but the Horde were smarter than anyone thought. They must've figured out the type of cloaking technology after their tachyon and antiproton scans didn't work and bombarded - Keliaya@anncarise: - the whole area using torpedoes at various various phase discriminator configurations. Trial and error en-masse." Keliaya@anncarise: "One or two of them hit the right frequency and disabled the cloak. The Navigator was knocked out, and the Horde started closing in." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah hrms, "That is quite a coordinated move, even for one so blunt. It appears we may have once again underestimated the mental capacity of the Horde" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "The Regulators admitted as much as well. With multiple systems down from the torpedo strikes, we only had impulse and the mycelial displacement drive, and impulse wasn't going to outrun - Keliaya@anncarise: - the Horde. So the Ensign had to make a blind jump in place of the Navigator and get us out of there." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah looks to Emma, "A blind jump? From what I gather of this technology that's an incredibly risky move. The situation most have indeed been desperate" Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "It was our only chance of escape" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah: "Well clearly it paid off as you're both sat here now. What happened after this 'blind jump'?" Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head, "The Commander will have to fill you in there. I was out for the count" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah's brow furrows as she looks to Kelly Keliaya@anncarise: "The first jump wasn't exactly ideal. The damage to the ship systems combined with the Ensign being unfamiliar with how to navigate through the network resulted in her losing control and we had to - Keliaya@anncarise: - disconnect her to end the jump. The Regulator doctors, medical Operators they call them, treated her and she made a full recovery in about two days, but meanwhile we exited the network at a...less - Keliaya@anncarise: - than ideal point. But it still saved us from the Horde." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah frowns a little, "Two days recovery? It was that intense an ordeal for her?" she looks between the pair Keliaya@anncarise nods, "And she still recovered faster than the Elachi Navigator thanks to her condition." Keliaya@anncarise: "In the meantime, we had to essentially overhaul the Regulator ship to rig up a makeshift warp core and switch the ship over to using matter-antimatter reactions as a power source." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah smiles a little, "Only you could use the words 'make shift' and 'warp core' in the same sentence without there being a punchline, Kelly" Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles as well at that Keliaya@anncarise chuckles, "Well I had the help of the Regulators, and it still wasn't anywhere near as efficient as any modern warp core." Keliaya@anncarise: "But we didn't have any other choice, and it was as desperate of a move as making the blind jump. We were lucky the Regulators still use dilithium in a few select technologies." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah: "So where exactly did this emergency jump land you?" Keliaya@anncarise: "From our best calculations, we were somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant, likely in or near what's presently Dominion space, but over two thousand years into the future." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah goes wide eyed, "Two /thousand/ years? And such distance?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah looks to Emma, "You never do things by halves, do you Ensign" Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles a little at the tone, "It's easy to laugh now. But there's more" She looks to Kelly Keliaya@anncarise: "Something was wrong with the dark matter present, and it couldn't be used for the Regulator matter-dark matter reactors, which was why we had to switch power source. And every single star in our - Keliaya@anncarise: - vicinity had gone supernova, leaving behind nebulae, stellar cores and the odd black hole. The closest star we could see was more than 400 lightyears away, and for all we know it could have gone - Keliaya@anncarise: - supernova as well, just that the visual data hasn't reached us yet." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah leans in, "Are you saying the entire galaxy appeared to gone nova?" Keliaya@anncarise: "It's a possibility, but we had extremely limited travel capabilities and I can only say for certain that a section of the Gamma Quadrant is gone. But the whole galaxy could be the same at that - Keliaya@anncarise: - point in time, and we had no way of knowing as the light from the rest of the stars going supernova wouldn't have reached us so quickly across space." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah: "Do the Regulators have any theories?" Keliaya@anncarise shakes her head, "We didn't restore the sensors to full functionality and we didn't approach any of the stellar remains to scan for more information. We couldn't afford the power with the limited - Keliaya@anncarise: - dilithium supply we had on board, and even if we did, the Supervisor said she wouldn't authorize such an action. She said we didn't belong there and we couldn't risk changing the timeline by - Keliaya@anncarise: - finding out too much. As far as we know, it might not even be our reality but a parallel universe." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah nods after a moment, "True enough. I'm happy for our people to speculate on scenarios at their leisure when the time suits. Please go on; you were stranded in this distant point and + Emma Ralde@crystyll + recalibrating their systems?" Keliaya@anncarise: "Well, reworking their systems entirely, but it was more the nanites under the direction of the Regulators. I primarily worked on the warp core, as did the Ensign once she woke up." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah: "So how did you get from that limited position to using the spore drive to return here?" Keliaya@anncarise: "We had enough power to activate the spore drive one more time, but we were going to run out in two days once the Ensign recovered. Another reason we didn't use more than the bare necessities. We - Keliaya@anncarise: - were hoping for the Elachi Navigator to recover in time to use it, but his recover was slower. They resuscitated him, but he wasn't healthy enough to navigate without risk of dying, which would - Keliaya@anncarise: - probably just send us to a random point in spacetime again." Keliaya@anncarise: "The Supervisor asked the Ensign to do another jump to get us back here, but this time with guidance from the Navigator." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah glances to Emma, "Evidently you agreed to this and were successful" Keliaya@anncarise: "We were both hesitant to say the least, especially after what happened on the first jump." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "It was not without reservation. But in the end it was the only real choice to make" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah glances the pair again, "This was clearly a grave decision for you to face a second time around. To do so is highly commendable, Ensign" Emma Ralde@crystyll dips her head, "Thank you Captain" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah: "So at that point you acted under the guidance of the Navigator to return the ship here. Is there anything more or does that cover everything?" Keliaya@anncarise: "Well, the Regulators also took more precautions by giving her a suit for the drive to connect to, instead of connecting directly to her. That might've helped with the second jump, as the Ensign - Keliaya@anncarise: - didn't suffer any physical injury afterwards, she was just exhausted and recovered without any medical attention." Keliaya@anncarise: "There were other factors too, like the systems being repaired and her being prepared with the Navigator's guidance." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah nods, "I understand" leaning back and considering the two, "This turned into quite the adventure for you, didn't it" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "We certainly didn't expect any of this when we went on board the Regulator ship." Keliaya@anncarise: "And hopefully the Ensign doesn't have to go through anything like this again either." Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "I can honestly say I've never felt so scared for my life as when I stepped into that chamber. And with my lifetime to date, that's saying something" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah nods, "You've both earned a good rest and I won't keep you from it any longer" Keliaya@anncarise: "I hope you won't get into any trouble for this report either. I suspect Command won't like...any of this," she chuckles slightly. Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah shakes her head, "There will be no trouble for either of you, on that you have my word. There may well be questions, but neither of you are accountable for anything besides successfully + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + the mission, and the crew of that ship" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "We did what we had to do, and weren't left with much choice given the circumstances of the situation." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah: "And in that regard you have both exemplified everything it means to wear that uniform" she smiles, "I couldn't be more proud" Keliaya@anncarise smiles back, "Thank you, Captain." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles as well, "Yes, thank you Captain" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah returns the smiles, "Now go and get yourselves so rest. We'll talk more on the Horde threat once the Regulators submit their formal report on the situation" Keliaya@anncarise nods and stands, looking over to Emma, "Now, I think I promised you a drink, didn't I?" Emma Ralde@crystyll grins, "I believe so!" Keliaya@anncarise: "Come on, then!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Keelah chuckles to herself as she watches the pair leave. A weary sigh before turning back to her work Keliaya@anncarise leads Emma over to her quarters, "Nice to be back, isn't it?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Definitely! Now I just need Rianni to get back and everything will right again" Keliaya@anncarise: "I hope it won't be too much longer," she looks to her shelf of drinks, "I'm afraid I'm out of Orion wine, but you can get that in the lounge. At least I think there's still some left from the stock - Keliaya@anncarise: - we picked up at Vue-En. But you can help yourself to anything else." Keliaya@anncarise: "Most of it is from Federation space, and it's probably been a while since you've had them." Emma Ralde@crystyll gives an impressed whistle, "That's quite the collection! I had no idea you were such a connoisseur" Keliaya@anncarise smiles, "Thank you. It's not the best there is, but it's pretty good all things considered I think." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Any recommendations then? I don't even know what half of this stuff is I think!" she chuckles Keliaya@anncarise: "Only so much room in the quarters, but being on a ship I have the advantage of travelling frequently," she chuckles and steps up to the shelf. Keliaya@anncarise: "Well there's Andorian brandy, Saurian brandy, a couple varieties from Earth, if you want classic Federation drinks." Emma Ralde@crystyll hrms, "What about this one?" she points out a random bottle of a more colourful contents Keliaya@anncarise smirks, "Good choice. That's Betazed spiced wine. Perfect for perking you up after something exhausting." Keliaya@anncarise: "Eva tells me her people like to use it if they stretch their telepathic abilities a little too much." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Sounds good then!" she nods with a smile Keliaya@anncarise heads over to replicate two glasses before moving to the couch. Emma Ralde@crystyll sits down in the mean time, watching Kelly and taking in her quarters, "You've got quite the setup here" Keliaya@anncarise sets down the glasses and pours the drink, handing one over to Emma, "I designed it to entertain guests. Though like we discussed, I've been thinking to potentially redecorate for Eva to move in." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I think she'd enjoy it here. I mean, who wouldn't welcome that view!" she notes the panoramic window Keliaya@anncarise smiles and nods, taking a seat beside Emma, "I just have to make it a little more homely looking. Moving in her books and some of her furniture should help." Keliaya@anncarise: "And this place is a bit bigger than her current quarters, too." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It will be great" she smiles, taking a sip of the drink, "Mmm, that is good!" Keliaya@anncarise smiles and takes a sip as well, "Hopefully it'll get you refreshed after all you've been through." Keliaya@anncarise: "How're you feeling, by the way? Still a little tired, or all rested up?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I'm doing ok now I think" she smiles, "Maybe a little tired still, but nothing a good night's sleep won't remedy" Keliaya@anncarise: "Don't be afraid to take a day or two off duty if you need. You've more than earned it. I mean you have done an extra day of duty after all on the Regulator ship," she chuckles. Emma Ralde@crystyll: "True I suppose. Maybe a little to reflect on the experience wouldn't be a bad thing..." Keliaya@anncarise nods, "It was far from an easy experience, especially for you. I can only imagine what it's like having that technology thrust back into your life after all these years." Emma Ralde@crystyll swirls her drink thoughtfully, "I think... it may actually be therepeutic in a funny sort of way" Keliaya@anncarise takes another sip of her drink, "Really? Is it...because you managed to gain some control over the technology this time, and not the other way around?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I think it's just left me with a greater understanding of the network itself, more than the technology that uses it in this way" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "And because of how it...remade you, this helps you understand yourself more in a way?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I... think so? I still don't understand any of it. But, I don't know, it's weird. Like... somehow having been connected to it properly like this now it feels more... natural, maybe? More like a part+ Emma Ralde@crystyll: + of me, and I'm ok with that" Keliaya@anncarise: "I don't even the Navigator understands all of it, but I know what you mean," she smiles. "I'm sorry I had to put you in that situation, but I'm glad you got something out of it." Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head with a reassuring smile, "You didn't put me in any situation, Kelly. We were both just... there, and had to deal with things" Keliaya@anncarise: "Well I thought of you going in that chamber the first time. We didn't really have any other option, but I still wished I didn't have to ask that of you." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I know. But we also both know it was the only choice we had" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Which reminds me. That PADD I gave you to look after..." Keliaya@anncarise: "Oh! Yes, I still have it. Just left it over there when I was replicating the glasses..." Keliaya@anncarise steps over to pick up the PADD before returning and handing it back to Emma, "Here. Don't worry, I didn't look inside it." Emma Ralde@crystyll reaches out and... pushes it back to Kelly, "Please. I... I'd like you to keep it for me still. If that's ok I mean" Keliaya@anncarise smiles, "Of course. Still want me to give it to her if anything happens?" Emma Ralde@crystyll nods, "Please. If this experience has taught me anything, it's that even I'm not invulnerable. It... provides some reassurance, knowing that message is stowed away safely just in case" Keliaya@anncarise nods back and stows the PADD away, "I'll make sure it gets to her." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Thanks Kelly. You're a good friend" she smiles Keliaya@anncarise smiles back, "As are you, Emma. I wouldn't have made it back without your help." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Now we just have to worry about the gargantuan Horde fleet that's gunning for us, don't we..." Keliaya@anncarise: "Always a new problem to solve...but let's celebrate our successes here first," she smiles and takes another sip of the drink. --- Lendaria@crystyll | Later that day, Lennie is relaxing in the officers lounge with TQ when Kelly comes in, following her drink with Emma Lendaria@crystyll looks up when she sees Kelly enter, smiling happy she waves her over Keliaya@anncarise smiles and waves back as she steps over to the counter, "Lennie, Tee. Talking about anything interesting?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Jus' speculatin' how y'all got on wit' them Regulators. Mia had quite th'time on Terminu" Keliaya@anncarise: "The Captain didn't tell you anything about it yet, I'm guessing?" Lendaria@crystyll shakes her head, "We heard somethin' bout things goin' south, but wanted t'get it from th'source!" Keliaya@anncarise nods and chuckles, "That's one way to describe it." She looks at Tee, "I don't remember...were you at the briefing the Captain held?" Lendaria@crystyll | TQ nods, "Yeah, I was there just quietly taking notes like a good girl" she beams Lendaria@crystyll laughs Keliaya@anncarise laughs, "Sorry, it's been a few days for me, so it's not quite as fresh in my memory." Lendaria@crystyll: "So wha' happened out there? Tha' ship didn't look right when ya blinked back into place" Keliaya@anncarise: "Well...I probably shouldn't say too much where we could be overheard, but we ran into the Horde. A lot of them." Lendaria@crystyll nods, "Tha' much were a given" Keliaya@anncarise: "They were smarter than we expected and modified their torpedoes to hit through the Regulators' phase cloak. Emma had to stand in for their Navigator and make a blind jump." Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "Wait. Emma used that spore... thing?" Lendaria@crystyll punches TQ on the arm, giving her a look Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "Sorry!" whispering, "Wait. Emma used that spore... thing?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "She has a...connection to it, because of her accident. It didn't go very well the first time. I mean it got us away from the Horde, but we ended up over two thousand years in the future." Keliaya@anncarise: "Pretty sure I can say this part, because the Captain said we're allowed to speculate on it in our free time." Lendaria@crystyll almost splurts out a sip of her drink over TQ. Almost. "Two thousand years? That's insane!" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Well, the network connects- no, wait I probably shouldn't talk about that part. Anyways, where we ended up was a region in the Gamma Quadrant, and there were no stars left." Lendaria@crystyll: "No stars?" Keliaya@anncarise: "All of them had gone supernova, leaving behind nebulae and stellar cores and a few black holes. Something was wrong with the dark matter too that made the Regulator ship unable to use it, so we had - Keliaya@anncarise: - to switch over to matter-antimatter power generation. I have a feeling the two are connected, but we weren't really in a position to investigate." Keliaya@anncarise: "And technically there were stars, but the closest one was more than 400 lightyears away. We don't know if it's actually still there, or just an image from the past due to how long it takes light to - Keliaya@anncarise: - travel such a distance. What we saw could be a phenomena contained in that region, or it could affect the whole galaxy." Lendaria@crystyll: "Damn. No wonder Emma disappeared straight t'bed!" Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "The poor kid" Keliaya@anncarise: "Actually, that's probably her being exhausted from having to jump us back." Lendaria@crystyll: "Wow yeah, that musta' done her a real number. She's ok though right?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "The first jump was bad, but this one just wore her out. I should probably ask her to visit sickbay just in case, but the Regulators looked her over and said she's fine." Keliaya@anncarise: "I'm no xenobiologist, but I think their physiology is similar enough to Orions to know what they're talking about." Keliaya@anncarise: "And they treated her pretty well the first time, too." Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "I'd hate to think if anything happened to her. I know she's only a youngster, but she's like part of our little family now!" Keliaya@anncarise: "That she is. And...she's technically older than all of us," she chuckles. Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "Oh right! It's easy to forget..." Keliaya@anncarise laughs, "Don't worry, it slips my mind sometimes too." Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "I must try and get her talking more about her former life. Or lives? I bet she's got a few stories to tell!" Keliaya@anncarise: "I think with all the careers she's been through, lives is the right word for it. She definitely has plenty of interesting stories and experiences though!" Keliaya@anncarise: "She even told me that it was her knowledge of the original OSN that inspired the tabadis to build the current one! So in a way, she started it all..." Lendaria@crystyll doubletakes, "Wait wha'?" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "Apparently she was working for the tabadis before she went to the New World, and only left because they weren't really getting anywhere at the time. But apparently her time with them was - Keliaya@anncarise: - what gave them a goal to work towards, and she wishes she stuck around now." Keliaya@anncarise: "I don't think any Orion's lived as long as she has, so she remembers things no Orion does anymore." Lendaria@crystyll: "Goddess... could it be...?" Keliaya@anncarise tilts her head, "Have you...heard of her, then?" Lendaria@crystyll shakes her head, "Nah, it can't be... jus' somethin' momma told me one time" Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "What was it?" Keliaya@anncarise nods at TQ's prompt. Lendaria@crystyll: "Well, she told me a lil' bout tha' time on occassion. I remember her sayin' bout how she an' th'others was inspired by th'spirit of th'Orion peoples remindin' 'em all who they really was" Keliaya@anncarise: "The spirit of the Orion peoples? You think that could've been what they called Emma?" Lendaria@crystyll: "Can't deny it fits! Momma weren't overly spiritual, but th'way she talked o'this spirit weren't like mythological stuff. It were always like describin' actual interactions wit' someone" Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "Well the circumstances certainly fit" Keliaya@anncarise nods, "It sounds right to me, too. Emma might be amused to know what they're calling her now, though..." Lendaria@crystyll | At that moment, Lennie looks over as Emma wanders in Lendaria@crystyll heads over, standing a moment before her, giving the Ensign a look before dropping to a knee and holding Emma's hand to her cheek, "Goddess!" Keliaya@anncarise follows Lennie with her gaze, watching as she walks over to Emma. Keliaya@anncarise: "I was not expecting this to happen..." Lendaria@crystyll | TQ: "Never a dull moment!" Lendaria@crystyll | Emma gasps with surprise, tilting her head in confusion, “Goddess?” Lendaria@crystyll | TQ just chuckles, shaking her head, “Oh Goddess…” Lendaria@crystyll: --- THE END--- Lendaria@crystyll: ---Or is it...?---
AFTER ACTION REPORT STARFLEET SECURITY CLEARANCE LEVEL 3 | Restricted
MISSION PARAMETERSOUTCOME SUMMARY Investigation into use of displacement-activated spore hub drive on Regulator survey vessel. Regulator spore drive determined to be safe. Managed to return to Terminu after incident unrelated to the reliability of the technology. Horde gathering approximately 60 LY from Terminu discovered.
No further action required regarding the Regulator technology. Recommend acceleration of Terminu reclamation and contingency planning should the Horde force encountered be meant for a second attack on Terminu.
As the Regulator representative 'Vulture' previously notified us, a Regulator ship arrived at Terminu to assess the Horde situation and determine whether they will allow us to use the implant technology on Terminu citizens as part of the reclamation process. However, sensors indicate that the Regulators did not arrive via any previously known method of Regulator FTL travel and further analysis revealed the presence of P. stellaviatori spores. The Regulators admitted to the use of a drive that travels through the mycelial network. Per PSS protocol, myself and Ensign Ralde were dispatched to investigate, I for my technical expertise and place as a senior officer privy to the required information, and Ensign Ralde for her prior experience with the technology.
While we arrived and waited on the Regulator ship, the Regulators visited the surface of Terminu accompanied by a small away team from the Valley Forge. Upon completion of this segment of their evaluation, the Regulators called us to their drive control room, where we were allowed to witness their usage of the technology. Here, we were introduced to their Elachi Navigator, who informed us that the Regulators had an agreement with the Elachi which involved providing personnel to be converted into Elachi who would serve half their time on Elachi vessels and the other half navigating the network for specialized Regulator ships equipped with the technology, which they call the mycelial displacement drive. He also assured us that since the Elachi were native to the mycelial network, they would not allow harm to come to it and helped the Regulators perfect their technology to ensure there was virtually no impact to the network.
The initial jump went without incident, but the Regulator ship found itself in the midst of a region where Horde vessels were gathering en masse. The Regulators activated a phase cloak which evaded the Horde's initial attempts to discover us, but they eventually covered the area with a blanket bombardment of hundreds of torpedoes with phase discriminators at a wide variety of settings, a brute force but unexpectedly successful way of penetrating the cloak. Damage to the Regulator ship injured the Navigator and brought the coaxial warp systems offline, effectively eliminating all escape options.
As the Navigator stated that a being connected to the mycelial network was required for navigating, I theorized that Ensign Ralde may be able to do so as a result of her accident, which as she explained it caused her to be reborn from the network. With it being the only option of escape, I asked Ensign Ralde to try navigating us away from the Horde, a decision I did not make lightly but still hold to be the only alternative course to self-destructing in the situation we found ourselves. The Ensign was connected to the drive and the ship jumped successfully, but the Ensign was also hurt in the attempt and lost control of where we were going.
We found ourselves somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant over two thousand years into the future (possibly our future or that of a parallel reality, but we were unable to verify in our desperate situation). Somehow, all nearby stars appeared to have gone supernova with the closest visible star over 400 light years away, making it entirely possible that the entire Milky Way galaxy has suffered the same destruction but the light data simply haven't reached our position yet. Something was also wrong with the dark matter in the area, making it unusable in the matter-dark matter generators of the Regulator ship. I assisted the Regulators into converting their power to matter-antimatter technology, which was viable thanks to a small supply of dilithium on board the ship.
Ensign Ralde made a full recovery after two days, but the Elachi Navigator needed more time to recover to the point where he could safely navigate again. Unfortunately, the ship was rapidly running out of fuel as essential systems had to be kept online to ensure the survival of the crew, and there would not be enough left to power up the mycelial displacement drive by the time the Navigator is fully recovered. As a result, Ensign Ralde had to navigate the ship through the network again, this time with the Navigator to guide her and proper connection to the drive via a Regulator suit to minimize physical impact.
The Ensign's second jump was much more successful, returning us to the point when we had first departed Terminu. Ensign Ralde herself also did not require any medical attention afterwards and only fell unconscious from exhaustion, recovering after a short period of rest. Her performance on this mission is highly admirable, especially given her negative experience with technology relating to the mycelial network.
View Bonus - Visions of the Past
Emma Ralde@crystyll | Year 2257. USS Glenn is patrolling the core worlds border Emma Ralde@crystyll | It's another typical day on board, with the crew going about their business. Including some relaxing downtime between shifts in the mess hall Emma Ralde@crystyll | A group of Human junior officers talk excitedly among themselves at a table in the middle of the room Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 slams his drink on the table in frustration, flailing his free arm towards the window, "Oh come on! You can't seriously expect me to believe you're not bored of this?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign2: "Why not? I mean, we're out here exploring deep space right?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1: "pfft! You call this exploring? I call it flying around in circles! What about the frontier? What about strange new worlds and all that good stuff they preached at the academy?" NPC@annpc#5570 | A Tellarite Ensign steps into the mess hall and stops as he passes by the table, "You do know space is mostly empty, right?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 huffs, "And there's the highlight... Of all the species to let on board, why did it have to be these pigs- OW!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3 smirks quietly to herself while Ensign1 glares at her while rubbing his freshly bruised shin Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign2: "You know what, I was wrong. Starfleet would do /so/ well to have you out making first contact with new species" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 grumbles, "I'm good with new species. Just not those like to make an argument of every damned thing!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3 smirks, "Too close to home for ya?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Tellarite: "Come on, no one's better at making first contact than us! You're nice and friendly and boring. Everyone loves a good argument!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | After a moment, they all laugh and kick out a chair for the Tellarite Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3: "Someone certainly does..." she thumbs towards the mouthy ensign beside her NPC@annpc#5570 | The Tellarite plops down onto the chair with a smirk, "Besides, we've been out here longer than you have. Long enough to know space is mostly empty." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1: "Then what's the point of us roaming around aimlessly out here, huh?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3 leans in, "I heard that we're actually testing some fancy new engines to take us further than anyone's ever gone before!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign2: "Well I heard that this ship is secretly commanded by some shadow organization. Just proves you can't believe everything you hear!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Tellarite: "I wouldn't be surprised. You've gone from Warp 1 to 5 faster than any species I know of." Emma Ralde@crystyll strolls in, happily greeting a few passers by as she gets herself a plate of rations Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3: "Well we did work in collaboration with the Vulcans from day 1" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3: "But this is supposed to be something well beyond warp travel. Come on, I can't be the only one who's heard things on board?!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3 looks to Ensign1, noticing him staring off in a daze. She waves her hand in front of his face, "Earth to Dave..." she follows his gaze and frowns, slapping him around the head Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 eyes Emma still, rubbing his head, "Now that's the kind of first contact /I'm/ talking about- OW! Dammit woman, would you stop that!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3 smirks back, "You know a girl like that would eat you for breakfast. Orions are deadly" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 huffs, "You say that like it's a bad thing..." Emma Ralde@crystyll | All of them roll their eyes at his attitude Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign2, "And you call /him/ a pig..." Emma Ralde@crystyll ambles over, sliding a chair up to the table, "Ok, how long did he last this time?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3 laughs, "About 2 seconds after you walked in!" NPC@annpc#5570 | The Tellarite joins in the laughing as well, "Long as you'd expect." Emma Ralde@crystyll giggles, "Human males are /so/ easy!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1, "Hey!" muttering playfully, "I resemble that remark..." Emma Ralde@crystyll | The group of friends all laugh at the playful banter Emma Ralde@crystyll tucks into her food, "So what's new?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3: "Besides keeping this one-" she thumbs towards Ensign1, -"in check? Not much" NPC@annpc#5570 | Tellarite: "Even he was complaining about being bored! Though he's keeping /us/ pretty entertained..." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1: "I want to hear more about this top secret research we're doing out here! What?" he gives everyone an incredulous look, "It could mean we're actually making a difference here!" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Goddess! Not with the conspiracy theories again?!" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "When are you lot going to realize there's nothing exciting out here? It is just a patrol assignment to break you all in" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 grins with lewd thoughts about having Emma break him in apparently NPC@annpc#5570 | Tellarite: "I'm starting to think it's just a way humans like to pass their time on idle space voyages. Thinking up crazy fantasies." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3 spots the look on his face and frowns quietly. Jealously? Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Now that's a theory I can believe in. These pink skins do have wonderful imaginations. Don't they..." she throws a playful smile and wink to Ensign1 just to wind him up more Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 grins stupidly at the attention NPC@annpc#5570 | The Tellarite grins at Emma toying with him, "That they sure do!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign2: "So what about you Emma, you've been here a while already right? You must have seen or heard things..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Tellarite: "See? Definitely a human thing!" Emma Ralde@crystyll shrugs nonchalantly, eating her food, "I go about my business and stay out of the way" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign3: "Whereas that sounds like anything but an Orion thing. She's hiding something!" Emma Ralde@crystyll eyerolls Emma Ralde@crystyll: "To think I chose this over the Space Navy..." she shakes her head Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign2: "Why /did/ you choose Starfleet? Don't exactly many of your kind here..." Emma Ralde@crystyll 's communicator chirps. Opening it, she immediately recoils at the voice shouting at her Emma Ralde@crystyll: <C> Ralde?! What the hell are you doing? You were supposed to be in the cargo bay /10/ minutes ago!" Emma Ralde@crystyll: <C> Sorry Sir, I overslept! I'll be right there!" Emma Ralde@crystyll quickly stands, "Duty calls! As for why you don't see many Orions here... it's because Humans generally just can't handle all of this" she smirks, motioning down herself before rushing off NPC@annpc#5570 | The Tellarite laughs again as Emma exits, "She makes a good point!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Ensign1 slumps his chin into his hand with a sigh, "Yeah, but what I wouldn't give to try...OW!" he glares at yet another kick to his shin Emma Ralde@crystyll curses further as her stomach growls at her for being left unfulfilled Emma Ralde@crystyll bumps into a pair of officers, apologizing as she bursts between the pair Emma Ralde@crystyll continues along, slowing to catch her breath as she reaches the cargo bay and steps inside Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Apologies Sir, I-... Sir?" she looks around the completely empty room Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I'm sure this was the right bay..." she looks around Emma Ralde@crystyll 's gaze drifts towards a curious sight occupying the room. Hypnotically pulsing blue glowing light emanating from a sealed chamber of some sort, "What the...?" Emma Ralde@crystyll | The ship suddenly falls under rising turbulence and a moment later the lights dim as the red alert klaxon sounds Emma Ralde@crystyll looks around, "But I didn't do anything!" she backs away cautiously as the pulsing grows in intensity Emma Ralde@crystyll 's eyes widen as it continues to do whatever it's doing, in unison with the ship being under increasing duress. She turns to run as fast she can, "Gisjachet...!" as she is swallowed by a flash of + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + light... Emma Ralde@crystyll: ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=F3_LayndabQ&feature=emb_logo ) Emma Ralde@crystyll | In the aftermath of the explosion, the room is in complete disarray. Smoke fills the air from failed environmental systems while the pulsing red alert lights cast ominous shadows through it Emma Ralde@crystyll | The entire section of the room where the mysterious chamber was housed has completely vanished, replaced by a bare starfield held back only by emergency forcefields Emma Ralde@crystyll | Through the slowly thinning smoke, a haze of blue lights becomes barely visibly. Like glowing specs of dust in the mist Emma Ralde@crystyll | The blue particles float gently across the room as they settle from the brief gush of escaping air. One by one, they fall to the ground Emma Ralde@crystyll | As more of the strange particles settle, one touches down gently onto the charred cheek of Emma, laying unconscious on the ground. Follwed by another, and another, until her whole body is Emma Ralde@crystyll + encompassed by a haze of glowing blue spores Emma Ralde@crystyll | Unlike the scorched deck plate however, they do not just settle on her flesh but one by one, they seep into it... Emma Ralde@crystyll | As the last of the visible spores seemingly melts into Emma's closed eyelid, her eyes shoot wide open Emma Ralde@crystyll gasps as her motionless body takes a first breath of life again, chest rising and falling gently with each breath once more. She looks around, but her surroundings are a hazy blur Emma Ralde@crystyll hears what sounds like muffled voices in the distance and the thumping of heavy boots racing across the deckplate. Her blurry vision obscures with the view of several people in EV suits swarming + Emma Ralde@crystyll + around her. Muffled voices and frantic movement slowly fade to black along with her vision as she passes out... ---https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWugrqmKHN4--- Emma Ralde@crystyll | 2268. USS Johannesburg Emma Ralde@crystyll sits on a bed in sickbay, fidgeting with anxiety, while a Human male who looks just like the loudmouthed Ensign from the Glen sits in the seat beside. Looking a little older, and a lot more grown up with his LT stripes. Emma Ralde@crystyll | LT: "Come on Emma, will you stop it already? You're making /me/ nervous!" Emma Ralde@crystyll scowls at the man, "You kriffing well should be! It is /us/ that's trying after all, not just /me/!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | The man tries to take her hand sympathetically only to have it snatched away Emma Ralde@crystyll | LT: "Emma! That's not fair, please..." he places a hand on her knee Emma Ralde@crystyll sighs, "I'm sorry Michael. I'm just..." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Michael smiles softly, taking her hand successfully this time, "It's ok, I know. Whatever the case, we'll work through it ok? Together" Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles back, "Together" she nods, looking over as the CMO enters NPC@annpc#5570 | The CMO- Dr. Richardson, a middle-aged dark skinned human man with Lieutenant Commander stripes on his blue sleeves, looks between the two, "Lieutenants. I'm sorry." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It's ok. You didn't keep us waiting long..." she attempts in vain to surmise a different purpose to his words than what was clearly meant NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson: "I've checked every method there is. Even old Vulcan and Andorian hybridization experiments. I'm not even sure direct genetic augmentation is gonna work, even if it weren't illegal." Emma Ralde@crystyll wells up, "No... we did everything right!" clenching her fist around Michael's hand, much to his discomfort NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson: "I'm sorry Lieutenant. I wish I had better news for you. All I know is that this /should/ be working. Orion hybridization is far from unheard of." NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson: "I can't explain it, but there's something different about you. The usual methods just won't work." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Michael clutches Emma's hand, largely in an effort to unhook her nails from his flesh most likely, "What are you saying doctor? If the usual doesn't work then we'll try the unusual!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson: "The only thing we haven't tried is taking her DNA and artificially fusing it with yours to grow a child in a test tube, and that's forbidden by eugenics laws. And quite frankly, I - NPC@annpc#5570: - don't think it's gonna work, unless you've got genetic data stored from before this mystery accident on your record. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think something about that accident changed you, - NPC@annpc#5570: - didn't it?" Emma Ralde@crystyll growls, slamming her fist in the monitor beside her bed, "That damned accident! WHY?!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Michael quickly moves to pull her into a tight embrace where she sobs NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson: "I wish I could help you, I really do. But this is everything modern medicine's got. Maybe if I know more about this accident..." Emma Ralde@crystyll | A man in an all black uniform appears at the door, "That won't be possible, Doctor" NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson turns to the man, "I could try to figure out some new method. That's what we Starfleet doctors are trained for. To deal with the unknown. But there's nothing I can do if I'm not - NPC@annpc#5570: - even allowed to /know/ what I'm dealing with!" Emma Ralde@crystyll slowly turns her watery eyes to the newcomer, recognizing the voice, "You..." she snarls, "Gisjachet this is all your fault!" she cries, launching a flailing attack at him Emma Ralde@crystyll | The man struggles with the wild attack and flurry of green hands clawing for his face Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Gisjachet bastard! I'll kill you, I'LL KILL YOU!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Man in black: "A little help here, Doctor..." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Michael tenses in his seat, not sure what to do, "Don't hurt her!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson steps in, trying to pull Emma away, "Hey, let's not start a fight here in my sickbay! I don't want to have to sedate you." Emma Ralde@crystyll | He can't get close between the flailing arms and feet NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson sighs and moves over to grab a hypo, "Last warning Lieutenant..." Emma Ralde@crystyll doesn't even hear him amid all her screaming and colourful abuse being thrown at the man in black NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson loads the hypo and tries to get in again to sedate Emma this time. Emma Ralde@crystyll | He manages to land it on the side of her neck. She soon softens and falls limp in the man's arms before the doctor Emma Ralde@crystyll | Man in black: "Thank you, Doctor. I'll take things from here" NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson: "Just look at her! She deserves better, damn it! Can't you throw me just a little rope? It's not like I'm gonna go taking the data and recreating the accident! I'm a doctor, - NPC@annpc#5570: - not a terrorist!" Emma Ralde@crystyll | Man: "You are right, Doctor; she does deserve better. And that's exactly what she will get" he lifts Emma up, carrying her unconscious body gently as he turns to leave NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson sighs, "Well don't come running to me for help when she wakes up and tries to kill you again." Emma Ralde@crystyll | The man pauses briefly, but then simply continues to walk out Emma Ralde@crystyll | Michael stands, looking between the pair, "Wait? What the Hell is all of this, where are you taking her? Doctor, you can't just let him walk out like that!" NPC@annpc#5570 | The doctor watches him leave for a moment before looking to Michael, "I don't like the look of that fella, but whoever the hell he is, he's got authority way above my own." Emma Ralde@crystyll | Michael huffs and storms out after them. Pausing in the doorway as he looks around, confused Emma Ralde@crystyll | Michael: "What the...? Where'd they go?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Richardson sets down the hypo and steps out behind Michael, glancing around the hall outside as well. Emma Ralde@crystyll | The two are left staring dumbfounded down the corridor with not a sign of Emma or the suspicious officer anywhere... --- Emma Ralde@crystyll 's eyes flutter open, staring at the familiar setting of ship's quarters. But as the world comes into focus she realises, they aren't /her/ quarters Emma Ralde@crystyll sits up on the edge of the bed. Looking around, her eyes narrow on the man sitting just across the room, calmly reading at the desk Emma Ralde@crystyll growls, "Sloan... where am I? What have you done now?!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "You were raising too many questions and causing too much drama. You've been moved to a Starfleet Intelligence vessel currently flying alongside the Johannesburg." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "What? There were no other ships in this sector! Why do you have to lie about everything!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "There are no other ships in this sector. Not officially." Emma Ralde@crystyll eyerolls, "Always with the cloak and dagger stuff. Anyway, what gives you the right to just pull me away like that?! I did what was promised and kept my mouth shut about your work, why the hell did + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + break on the deal and pull me away. That was my life back there!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "Richardson is a brilliant man. You're aware of his credentials. Honours student at John Hopkins. Second in his class at the Academy. Discovered the vaccine to the Endolomin Flu during - NPC@annpc#5570: - his tour on the Defiant. We were expecting him to be assigned to the Enterprise or the Lexington, not the Johannesburg. He would have discovered your condition given time, extracted the secrets - NPC@annpc#5570: - from your blood and not your mind." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Screw your secrets! That doesn't give you the right to just go around kidnapping people you know! Now send me back!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "It's not just our secrets. It's yours as well. We can't put you back there. Even if it wasn't Richardson, someone will find out eventually." Emma Ralde@crystyll frowns, "What secrets? Find out what?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "You've noticed, haven't you? Age isn't catching up with you. Orions may maintain youth a little longer than some species, but a decade without a single change?" Emma Ralde@crystyll shrugs, "I look after myself. So what" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "You can deny it all you want, but the data speaks the truth. You're not aging, and it doesn't take a genius to find something odd about an Orion who always appears the same age." Emma Ralde@crystyll scoffs, "Not aging? What are you blabbing on about, of course I'm aging! This isn't some crazy science fiction story you know" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "That's what our doctors report, and unlike Richardson they have enough information to know what they're looking at." Emma Ralde@crystyll leans slightly against the wall, "Not... aging...? But how...? That's impossible..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "Apparently, your body continues reverting back to the state it was in during the accident. It's likely tied to why you can't conceive children as well." NPC@annpc#5570 | He stands from his chair to look directly at Emma, "That may have been your life on the Johannesburg, but you can't maintain it. If you go back, sooner or later they'll find out." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Then what the hell am I supposed to do?! /You/ did this to me with your damned experiments! You can't just lock me away!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "We're not locking you away. We're giving you a new life. A new identity." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "What? What that's meant to achieve? If what you say is true, won't it just come up again eventually. You know, with me being magically 'immortal' and all..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "Of course it will. We'll prepare another identity for you when the time comes. You can continue your service in Starfleet, explore other opportunities within the Federation, anything - NPC@annpc#5570: - you like." Emma Ralde@crystyll looks down, "What kind of a life is that..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "You don't have another option. Let's suppose we take you back to the Johannesburg and everyone's fine with your condition. The years will pass. Michael will age, and you'll still be the - NPC@annpc#5570: - same. After a hundred years, he'll be dead and you'll still have to move on. It's better for everyone this way." Emma Ralde@crystyll clasps her hands over her mouth as she pictures the grim future, "I can never be close to anyone..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "But you'll still have some kind of life this way. See the galaxy, do what you want to do." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "As long as I do it alone?!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan shrugs, "You can still get close to people, as long as you'll be fine letting go after a decade or two." NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "Despite what you may think, we're not monsters. What's done is done. We're just trying to make the best of the situation as it is now." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Oh great, so an eternity of breaking my heart and that of everyone I'll ever care about. Well isn't that just a peachy future to look forward to" she huffs Emma Ralde@crystyll is not impressed. NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "Or you can not form attachments at all. Do you think you're the only one? Everyone on this ship has made sacrifices to their personal lives, and we all do it willingly to serve the - NPC@annpc#5570: - Federation. There's no way we know of to reverse your condition, so we're giving you the option to live a semi-regular life. It's the best we can do." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "There's one big difference here. You all chose this life" Emma Ralde@crystyll sighs, "Whatever, so where are you taking me? What is this new life you're dreaming up for me now?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "There's a Federation border station, Deep Space K-6. We've checked the personnel files, no one there has had any contact with you before. You'll be able to start your new life there." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Eugh, fine. Whatever... I just want to be alone..." she turns away from him, fighting back the tears of shock NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan calmly turns and heads out the room. ---https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWugrqmKHN4--- Emma Ralde@crystyll | 2294. SFIHQ Emma Ralde@crystyll | CMDR Ralde walks purposefully down a dimly lit corridor, approaching a door at the end, she stops to ring the bell to Sloan's office NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan's voice responds, "Come in." Emma Ralde@crystyll approaches the desk, "Sloan" her voice still carries a certain disdain even after all these years NPC@annpc#5570 | An older Sloan looks up from behind his desk, "Commander." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "It's that time again" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan nods, "What prompted it this time? Just passage of time, or someone getting close to finding out?" Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head, "I'm sick of it all. I'm not doing this anymore" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan sits up a little straighter, "And what alternative do you suggest?" Emma Ralde@crystyll reaches up, unclipping the badge from her tunic and tossing it onto his desk NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "You think you can just walk away. Take your chances out in the galaxy?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I've played your little game for long enough. I've fought your wars with the Klingons, sent good people to their deaths. The Sierra is being decomissioned next month, so now is as good a time as any" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "And what happens if someone out there finds out something is unique about you? What if the Klingons or the Romulans decide to take you in, dissect you for Starfleet secrets?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "If Starfleet can't break me with kindness, do you really think those bastards have got any chance? Besides, it's not like you can do anything to stop me" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "The Romulans can be persuasive in their own ways. And don't think I don't know you still hold some resentment towards us for what happened. They may be able to reach you yet." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And how is that any different to commanding a front line starship?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "If anything I'll be safer from their kind by going off the grid" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "If you go off the grid, we might not be able to find you either. We've been watching out for you, protecting you." Emma Ralde@crystyll mutters, "Like that's a bad thing..." NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "You really think you can make it out alone? Without a crew to back you up. Without us keeping an eye out? The galaxy is not an easy place even with a state-of-the-art starship. You - NPC@annpc#5570: - know that. You want to make it harder for yourself, lying low on some transport ship or backwater colony?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "My plans are my own" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan leans forward, staring into her, "You're set on this." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Yes" she responds firmly, carrying at least some semblence of the commanding rank she just resigned NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "And you're sure you want to cut /all/ ties? We could get you a different identity in the Federation. A freighter service. Colonial Affairs. Department of Agriculture if you really want. - NPC@annpc#5570: - No more Starfleet service." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "One day, perhaps. But no... not this time. I have to walk the path before me. If that eventually leads back to Starfleet... so be it" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "If you're doing this just to get away from us, we have plenty of eyes and ears out in the wider galaxy. But you've done well keeping our secret so far." Emma Ralde@crystyll steps closer, holding a cold reflection on his own gaze, "I'm doing this because I need to find more meaning and purpose to my life than sending young officers to their deaths in your pointless wars" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "They're not pointless. Without the Federation, whole sectors would fall into chaos. We defend what we built, not just for our sakes but all those who have entrusted us with their safety - NPC@annpc#5570: - and their lives. But if you feel like you no longer want to be a part of that, that's your choice." NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "But if your path puts the Federation in jeopardy, then we will hear about it, and we will find you." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Something to look forward to. Until such time I expect you to leave me the hell alone. Do we have an accord?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan slowly nods, "Very well." Emma Ralde@crystyll dips her head, "And so it is. Farewell Sloan. I wish I could say it's been a pleasure, or even fun. But... I'll settle for simple thank you. Thank you for looking after me all these years" NPC@annpc#5570 | Sloan: "If you ever reconsider, we'll be willing to extend our protection to you again. Just try not to show up on the other end of our sensors, Emma." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "On that, our goals continue to align" she gives a final nod, turning and heading out ---https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWugrqmKHN4--- Emma Ralde@crystyll: | 2365. Rigel VIII Emma Ralde@crystyll: walks into yet another Syndicate bar, minding her own business as she works her way around the room before settling at the bar and watching the dancers Emma Ralde@crystyll: ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA8-6X8aR3o ) Emma Ralde@crystyll: brushes off the attention of more than her fair share of drunken males, including one who got deterred by several broken fingers after trying his luck with an ill-placed hand on her rear Emma Ralde@crystyll: 's attention holds on one entertainer in particular. A tall Orion woman with long dark hair (shocking I know...), but this one has a distinctive tattoo on the left side of her face that makes her + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + stand out above the others. That, and a certain commanding presence she holds above the others... NPC@annpc#5570: | The entertainer quickly notices the attention, examining Emma discreetly but still visibly as she and the others perform. Emma Ralde@crystyll: smiles at seeing she holds the entertainers attention and continues to enjoy the show through to it's conclusion, maintaining her gaze the whole time NPC@annpc#5570: | As the Orions finish their show, the entertainer Emma had focused on steps over, leaning on the bar with a smile, "See something you like?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: offers a coy smile, waving the bartender over and simply pointing for two drinks, "Is that so surprising?" she finally asks back NPC@annpc#5570: "Not at all," she responds and smiles again as Emma calls to bring them drinks, "Thank you. My name's Mysti. What about you?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Emma. Mysti you say? Quite the fitting name" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti smiles again, "I'm glad you think so. What brings you to this establishment, if I may ask?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: sips her drink, sliding the second to Mysti, "A search" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti takes a sip as well, slowly lowering the drink to observe Emma curiously, "And what are you searching for?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: smirks, "Maybe I was searching for you" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti smirks back, "Is that right? And what will you do now that you've found what you were looking for?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: shrugs, "Maybe nothing, maybe everything. That depends on you really" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti smiles, "And on you. You look like you've come a long way, but you don't seem to be the Syndicate type." Emma Ralde@crystyll: spits in disgust to the floor at her side, "That filfth! No am I not of them. And neither are you in your heart, I'd wager. Regardless of the branding that tarnishes otherwise flawless features" Emma Ralde@crystyll: brushes Mysti's cheek as she studies the brand NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti nods, looking intrigued, "You come here of your own accord, then." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Of course" tilts her head whimsically to one side as she sips her drink, "Believe it or not Mysti, not all woman are slaves to the greed and gluttony of our males" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti lowers her voice, "I have heard rumours of some who live free, but they lie low in places where they will not be found, or hide in the shadows of the Klingons or the Federation." NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti: "I have never met one such as you, who dares speak ill of the Syndicate in their own establishment." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And so it is true. Does it not pain you to see what has become of our people?" she looks around the room, "The filfth and degeneracy that infects our once proud homeland like a plague" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti nods, speaking quietly still, "This is all I have known, but I wish it could be otherwise. As do many of the girls I work with." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You know it was never always like this right?" she asks, genuine curiosity in her voice NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti: "I have heard rumours. Whispers among the older women, but no one has ever spoken of it in a clear voice." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I suppose they are among the few to remember such times now..." she sighs, "Mysti, I think you are indeed what I came here looking for. You /are/ Tabadi to these girls, aren't you" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti smiles and nods, "I am. You certainly have a keen eye." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "When you've been around our kind as long as I have, you get a sense for those with the matriarchal blood" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti: "As long as you have? You hardly seem to have been around long..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: chuckles innocently, "Figure of speech, of course. Think of me like... a storyteller. A narrator perhaps, an observer of events and archivist of history lost. So what say you, Tabadi Mysti? Would you+ Emma Ralde@crystyll: + like to hear a story?" NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti: "You intrigue me, Emma. I would very much like to hear what you have to tell." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Then perhaps, we can find somewhere a little more... intimate where we can talk privately?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: asks, very suggestively. Appearing to anyone around them to be negotiating a more typical private audience with an entertainer here NPC@annpc#5570: | Mysti smiles, "I was just about to suggest the same." She takes another sip of her drink before setting a hand on Emma's shoulder and slowly running it down the length of her arm before she gently - NPC@annpc#5570: - holds Emma's hand, keeping up appearances as she leads Emma to the back of the establishment. Emma Ralde@crystyll: smiles, finishing her drink with her free hand as she follows ---https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWugrqmKHN4--- Emma Ralde@crystyll | 2374. Unknown location Emma Ralde@crystyll | A small armada of Orion capital ships gathers for a secluded gathering away from the prying eyes of the Syndicate Emma Ralde@crystyll | On board the lead vessel, a number of prominent Tabadi's gather to decide their future Emma Ralde@crystyll stands with a small group, just off centre to the large open floor Istar@anncarise | Emeria steps into the room, tailed by a Lethean. With a nod, the Lethean stays outside while the Orion captain strides in. Emma Ralde@crystyll looks around as the gazes of many drift that way. Turning with a smile, she welcomes Emeria with a hug like an old friend, "There you are! Fashionably late as always I'm glad to see" Istar@anncarise | Emeria grins and hugs Emma back, "It's all in the entrances. The entrances determine the first impressions." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And it's one you lead by example with" she looks around the room, "Quite the turnout, don't you think?" Istar@anncarise | Emeria nods as she looks around as well, "Indeed. Maybe we can actually manage to start something independent of the Syndicate." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Is there truly any doubt?! In just a few short years you've already come so far. Just look around Emeria" she gestures across the room, "Everyone is here because they are either ready to make a + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + stand, or already have and no longer have a home for their cell" Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "There's still many who know nothing other than the Syndicate. But with numbers like these, it can work." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "What did I tell you?" she smiles, "But a crowd like this is going to need form and function. Someone has to take charge and shape the new futureinto what we all know it can be" Istar@anncarise | Emeria smirks, "So, how many people here have heard your stories?" Emma Ralde@crystyll cranes her neck, looking around the room, "Oh I don't know... there's a few, maybe, who I haven't spoken to..." Emma Ralde@crystyll turns back with an innocent smile Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "Maybe you should be the one to give the big speech, then. Most people here have listened to you after all." Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head, "Nu-uh. I'm no leader, I just like to tell stories" Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "Are you sure? This is your chance to make your stories come to life proper." Emma Ralde@crystyll shakes her head again, smiling, "they are not my stories. They are just the lost history of our people" Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "And if no one else is willing to step up and take charge either?" Emma Ralde@crystyll smirks, "Please, look around. You are far from the only natural leader here. Every Tabadi has it in her to lead" she chuckles, "Maybe you should just all lead together, no arguments then!" Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "That's not a bad idea, actually. A single figure at the top leads to power struggles. The sharing of leadership means those at the top can focus on actually getting things done, rather - Istar@anncarise: - than climbing higher or keeping their positions." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, "A group of Tabadi's leading the way seems rather fitting!" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Not to mention very reminiscent of the old ways of the great family houses" Istar@anncarise | Emeria smiles back, "I thought you might have more stories on that." Emma Ralde@crystyll beams, looking around the room, "So we're pretty much looking at the future leadership right here. Like a big group of Tabadi's all standing around in a circle..." she notes, taking in the circular + Emma Ralde@crystyll: + layout of the room and her perspective from the centre Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "A circle of Tabadis...I like it!" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Has kind of a nice ring to it, doesn't it!" Istar@anncarise | Emeria nods, "Indeed it does. I think it would work well, we're all used to operating our own ships or cells. A family structure with a central circle of leaders...much better than trying to - Istar@anncarise: - choose a single one to lead all of us." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "So, do you think you'll go for the old OSN reform idea?" Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "I'll support it if the other Tabadis do as well. I have a feeling it's going to sit well with everyone. To go to a better time before the Syndicate, where we do something new but still - Istar@anncarise: - have a precedence to follow. If we try to start something entirely new, I don't think we'll ever settle on the details." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Yeah, we don't need new for new's sake. We just want to get back to where we once were" Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "And make your stories come to life. Where did you learn so much about the old Space Navy, anyways?" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Oh, you know... here and there. Go places, hear stories, go more places, tell more. It's like an endless cycle" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Contrary to popular belief among the more spiritually minded here. Sorry to disappoint them, but I'm really not the 'Spirit of the Orion people' or the 'Goddess reborn'" she laughs Istar@anncarise | Emeria laughs, "I'm far from being spiritually minded myself, but I've been around and not even heard a fraction of the stories you know. So maybe there is some merit to what they say." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Maybe I've just been around and lucky enough to learn all this stuff" Istar@anncarise | Emeria smirks, "Or maybe you could've been from the time before and frozen in stasis until now. Whatever the case, we're lucky to have you around." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "I just want to see our people great again" she smiles Istar@anncarise | Emeria smiles back, "I'll do everything I can to make sure that happens. I promise you that." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "And on that note, I think your audience awaits" she smirks, gesturing to the central podium Istar@anncarise | Emeria: "Great way to shift the responsibility to me. Don't worry, I won't let you down," she smirks back as she heads towards the podium. Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, turning to watch the inaugural speech Istar@anncarise | Emeria steps up on the podium, "Ladies. We all know why we are here- because of stories of the past, and visions of the future. Together, we can make them both reality again..." ---https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWugrqmKHN4--- Emma Ralde@crystyll | 2420. Belyia Emma Ralde@crystyll sits beside the crackling fireplace in the small apartment she now shares with Rianni, watching with a soft smile as Rianni prepares a meal Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You sure you don't want a hand with that?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "Nah, I think I've gotten the hang of it! But if it turns out terrible, you can lend a hand next time!" Emma Ralde@crystyll laughs, "Fair enough" she sniffs the air, "I have to admit, it does smell good" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "I hope you'll like it! Have you ever had to cook without technology or replicated ingredients before? You must've been stranded on a planet at least once in all this time..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You'd like to think, right! Given all my years, I... don't think I really have!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "Really? I would've thought it was a common thing from all the historical logs and reports I’ve read! But I guess only the interesting missions go on to be taught at the Academy." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Yeah, go figure! You know it's hard to imagine, after all these decades roaming the galaxy and everything I've done with Starfleet... that I might end up living out my eternity on a world like this" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "It's not so bad, with us living here like this! Though, I guess if you stay here for an eternity it might get old and boring..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Well I guess sooner or later even these people will develop space travel. I'll find my way back out there eventually..." she sighs NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "I guess so. I want to get back to the Valley Forge too, but I wouldn't mind too much living my life with you down here..." Emma Ralde@crystyll: "Even when you're old enough to be great grand mother?" she chuckles NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni smiles, "Then you can take care of me! It would be nice to have someone take care of me when I'm old." Emma Ralde@crystyll smiles, "You really are the sweetest thing, you know that?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni blushes slightly, "Thanks. Don't sell yourself short either, Emma!" Emma Ralde@crystyll: "You really do see that future working for us don't you. You're not just saying it" she observes NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni smiles and nods, "I think it can work! Well, I hope at least, as long as you're good with it too..." Emma Ralde@crystyll moves over to her side, hugging Rianni tightly, "Of course I am. Never mind your life, I want to spend the rest of mine with you!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni hugs Emma back tightly as well, "It's settled then! We'll make it work." Emma Ralde@crystyll basks in the embrace, "I never imagined finding someone who I could feel happy with. You're my world Rianni" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "Then come home, Emma. Come back to me." Emma Ralde@crystyll pulls back, giving her a funny look, "What?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "Come back to me, Emma." Emma Ralde@crystyll takes a step back, "Rianni, you're scaring me. What's going on. What are you on about?" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "You know what's happening. Please, come home." Emma Ralde@crystyll backs away again, shaking her head, "No, I don't want to go! We can stay together now, forever!" NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni: "We can be together, Emma, but you have to come back to me." Emma Ralde@crystyll sniffles, looking back, "That's all I want. Promise me. Promise me it's true!" she grasps Rianni's hands NPC@annpc#5570 | Rianni smiles and nods, "It's in your hands. Just come home." Emma Ralde@crystyll lifts a hand to her cheek, "I'll see you soon" stepping back, she closes her eyes with a newfound serenity... ---https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWugrqmKHN4--- Emma Ralde@crystyll FX | Emma wakes up in her room on board the Regulator ship, still wearing the undersuit. After a few minutes, she hears the doorbell ring.