The Valley Forge finally reaches the home of the 'Ice Giants', or Lodzki, to find no surprise in learning that their difficulties are only just beginning...
View Act III
NPC@annpc#557 FX | Some time after succesfully bringing the Cidrian Emperor Mihal to the Valley Forge for treatment from Horde influence, Keelah is notified that the Emperor has regained consciousness. Keelah@crystyl wanders into the medical lab. NPC@annpc#557 | The Emperor sits awake on one of the medical beds discussing with Melitta while Kazra steps over to Keelah, "He's all clear now. Implant is working as we'd expect and there's no sign of - NPC@annpc#557:- influence left." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Excellent news, Doctor. Thank you.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal looks past his doctor as he hears Keelah, "Captain. Thank you.â€ Keelah@crystyl heads over to join them, "Emperor MIhal, how are you feeling?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "Different. More...level-headed. It is difficult to explain it- I am a general, not a bard. I assume you have been angered to the point of wishing to do something rash at some point in - NPC@annpc#557:- your life?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I am... familiar with the sentiment, yes.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "It is like I have sat down and taken a moment to breathe and calm down after such a moment. My mind feels clearer- I could think just as well as I ever did before, but there was - NPC@annpc#557:- something driving my thoughts, some deep, irrational fear.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I understand. It is gratifying to know that you are truly yourself again now.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "I am...not entirely sure how much I would have done differently if I did not have this fear driving me, but I see now why my actions so far may have benefitted the Bies more than my - NPC@annpc#557:- own people. But I also had no choice. Had you arrived earlier, perhaps this war could have been prevented. In any case, influenced or not, the kings and queens who sit comfortably in their - NPC@annpc#557:- air conditioned palaces and padded thrones would not have heeded my warning.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal waves a hand dismissively in the air, "In any case, what is done is done. There is no point in speculating what may have been.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed. I find it best to leave such retrospective speculation to the bards. What we must do now is look forwards, and to what must be done in order to save your people.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal nods, "I had plans going ahead, but knowing what I know now and with a clearer mind, I think they are due to be changed. Do you wish to discuss this elsewhere, in an office, or to call - NPC@annpc#557:- a meeting?â€ Keelah@crystyl chuckles, "I'm sure either would be more fitting than a medical bed. If you are feeling up to it, we can either move to my ready room and discuss things in more detail. Or if you prefer; I can + Keelah@crystyl:+ summon my senior staff to provide you with a broader briefing on things.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal steps off the bed, "It is your ship. I will do whichever you believe to be more appropriate.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Then let us continue this in private as we began on your vessel before. The time may come when we want to brief more of your senior leadership en masse, at which time it may be prudent to bring + Keelah@crystyl:+ everyone in.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal nods and follows Keelah. Keelah@crystyl leads the way back to her ready room where she takes a seat on the sofas, being more open and less cramped for him than the desk. NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal steps over, taking a seat on the more open sofa as well, looking around, "Your ship is quite comfortable. Not as elaborate as ours, but it has the comforts fit for a king...one of your - NPC@annpc#557:- size, at least," he chuckles slightly. Keelah@crystyl smiles, "The Valley Forge was built for long running missions, and diplomatic functionality comes within that remit. We must be able to make our guests feel welcome as much as the ship must feel + Keelah@crystyl:+ like home for the crew and their families on board.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "That explains it. More of a mobile inn than a mobile palace, then.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"That is one way of looking at. So, you mentioned that you already have inclinations to alter your current strategy. Might I ask how you intend to proceed now?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "You may not yet be aware, as it is a closely guarded secret known only to our leadership and that of the Kodek- but Kodek has already surrendered to us. The talks began when we - NPC@annpc#557:- damaged and captured their dreadnought. The entire 'siege' is a ruse to lure the Czostak Kingdoms to send ships and supplies we will then capture from them.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I see.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "We have now gathered enough ships to faciliate the evacuation of the three colony kingdoms. The original plan was to save as many of my people as possible- but an assault on Czostak - NPC@annpc#557:- with the four remaining kingdoms standing against me is no easy feat. That was why I wished to ensure I already had enough vessels to evacuate the civilian population before committing to an - NPC@annpc#557:- attack that would likely cause the loss of a number of assets, and no small amount of life.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"The original plan... so what is the new one?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "I expect that I will lose some of my own ships and people in this final confrontation, and if the remaining kingdoms continue to fight as they have, many more of theirs will be lost. I - NPC@annpc#557:- thought it would be better to try to save at least some of my people on the homeworld despite my differences with the Czostak Kingdoms. But now I see such a confrontation is likely what the Bies - NPC@annpc#557:- have been driving me towards. That is why I am abandoning Czostak. It is possible that they will all fall to the enemy. If that happens, their numbers will add to that of the Bies, and it would - NPC@annpc#557:- have been better to destroy them outright. But I will not be responsible for any more Lodzki deaths.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "I will take what I have now and evacuate what I now control- all three colony kingdoms. I will save those I can.â€ Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "What of the other Kingdoms? Is there no hope to reunite them all to save everyone?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "The only one who can save them now are themselves. If I were to surrender, all the blood that has already been shed would have been for nothing. The High Queen wishes to stand and - NPC@annpc#557:- fight, she will stop the evacuation and doom the entire Lodzki people. Diplomacy is not an option- the High Queen and the Czostak Kingdoms see me as a pretender. They do not recognize my authority.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "I am afraid there is nothing /I/ can do for Czostak. But it is possible they can still be saved.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Well... what about me? Perhaps they will pat more attention to an outsider bringing irrefutable evidence of the need to evacuate.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "Perhaps, but Czostak have always had a lower opinion of outsiders than the colonies. As things are now though, you still have a better chance than I do.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Well, they can't have a much lower opinion of us than the Lupan Sisterhood did at first, so as long as there is a chance I must make every effort to try.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "It is worth a try. I do not see eye to eye with the High Queen and the Czostak Kingdoms on many things, but becoming mind-controlled slaves of the Bies is a fate I wish on no one, not - NPC@annpc#557:- even my enemies." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed. We will do all we can to assist you in the evacuation. I have some allied forces on standby to move in and assist, and once out; your people will be able to take refuge at Vue En.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "We will take any assistance you are able to give. It is settled, then- I will focus on evacuating the colony worlds to Vue En, while you attempt to make the Czostak Kingdoms see reason.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "And if you see fit to provide any of your fleet to support the Coalition lines, well, every bit helps. The Coalition forces are using the Waystation as a forward operations hub, and there + Keelah@crystyl:+ they are prioritizing the immunization of all fighting forces.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "I will need my ships here for the moment. I do not plan to attack Czostak, but as they are not open to negotiation with me, I cannot secure peace with them. I will not seek conflict - NPC@annpc#557:- with them either, but if they are to carry out an attack, I will have to defend my territories and people from them. Once the evacuation is complete and the population is en route to Vue En, I - NPC@annpc#557:- will direct as many ships as I can to support your efforts against the Bies.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "Of course, I would not ask you to do anything before your people are evacuated.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "As for Czostak, the only advice I have is this- if you can convince the High Queen, the other kingdoms will likely fall in line. While she has little actual power over the other - NPC@annpc#557:- rulers by law, she has influence over the kingdoms, influence among both the nobility and the common people.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "If you can convince the High Queen to call an evacuation, I believe the Czostak Kingdoms will quickly fall in line.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Then that will be my objective after leaving here.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "May the Fates favour you then, as the odds do not. I hope you will be able to succeed where I have failed.â€ Keelah@crystyl gives a faint smile, "The odds have never favoured us, but we are still here and we are still pushing the Horde back.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal smiles back slightly, "Then may you continue to achieve the impossible, Captain.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"May we all. Before we part ways here, is there anything else we can do for you?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "You have already shown my doctor your procedure for cleansing influence. Anything else you could share on the Bies would be of use. We cannot fight them yet, but I can have training - NPC@annpc#557:- programs made so my forces will be better prepared when I can spare some of them to aid your Coalition.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I'll make sure you're provided with all the available details.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal nods, "Thank you Captain." He stands, "I should return to the Spear of Cidria soon, to ensure that my admirals and generals are aware of the change in plans.â€ Keelah@crystyl stands as well, "Of course, you have a lot of work ahead just in safeguarding your crew. We will be in range for a while still so reach out if anything comes up.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Mihal: "I will do so. If you need assistance, you may call on us as well, though I do not expect the Czostak Kingdoms to have any reason to be openly hostile to you, unlike with my own ships." --- Evanne Dra@annpc#557 FX | It has been two days since the Valley Forge cleansed the influence from Emperor Mihal and set out towards Czostak once again, seeking to convince the High Queen to abandon her world and - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - evacuate. Unlike the journey into Cidrian territory, the trip back out has been quiet, with occasional Felmoran ships appearing on sensors but no sign of ongoing battles or skirmishes. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Not long after Fisher announces that they are re-entering the territories of the Czostak kingdoms, ships begin showing up on long-range sensors again... Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "The composition of that battle group...if I am not mistaken, it is the one we encountered upon first entering Felmoran space.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"This could be fortuitous then. Try hailing them.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "They are broadcasting the same IFFs. Opening channels now. They're responding, Captain.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"On screen.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Captain Radomin's visage appears on the viewscreen and smiles upon seeing Keelah, "Captain Keelah. I've been awaiting your return and hoping our patrol would cross your path again.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Captain, a pleasure to see you again. How have you been since we last spoke?â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "There have been developments. The Cidrians have called a ceasefire, promising not to attack us if we do not attack them. It is not official- the Usurper is not the rightful ruler of - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- Cidria and not qualified to negotiate on behalf of his kingdom, but so far we are too grateful to have a break from the Usurper's relentless pace to launch any counterattacks. I presume this is - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- thanks to your doing?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Our plan was a success and we were able to gain an audience with Mihal. The situation is ever more complicated than first perceived, of course. But yes; we have convinced him to act with the best + Keelah@crystyl:+ interests of the Lodzki people at heart. Now, we must do the same with the High Queen.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "You believe the High Queen is not acting in the best interests of the Lodzki people?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"It would seem that she was not persuaded by Mihal's early warnings of the Bies and chose to stand her ground against the evacuation plan.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "That...would explain the response I received from my superiors. When I reported to the Admiral on what you told me of the Bies, all he said was that the Kingdom was already aware and - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- will respond to the threat accordingly when it arrived. He cut me off when I mentioned evacuation and stated that the battle plans against the Bies were both above my position and not my concern - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- at the moment.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, I'm afraid I do not know what exactly Mihal said to them. All I know is that they did not acknowledge the need to evacuate. This is why I must urgently seek an audience with the High Queen.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "As an outsider, securing an audience with the High Queen may be difficult. The High Queen has not spoken with outsiders since the negotiations with the Arshai at the end of that war.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Nonetheless I must try. Mihal's people are already turning their attention to evacuation and the High Queen can't be convinced to send the rest with them, they will be left behindâ€¦â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "You have already convinced the Usurper to evacuate his people?" Keelah@crystyl nods, "Yes, Mihal's people are now focused on their evacuation" she acknowledges diplomatically.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "I can think of one way you may be able to gain an audience with the High Queen. If the Kingdoms know the Bies is coming and intends to fight them instead of evacuateâ€¦â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Go onâ€¦â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "They likely know the Bies will be coming soon, and that the Usurper will not be fighting with them. With only Czostak and none of the colony kingdom's forces, the High Queen will be - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- looking for aid. Evacuation is probably the best option, but if the kingdoms will not accept retreat, you may wish to present yourself as coming to lend assistance in the fight.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "You do represent the Coalition that has been fighting the Bies after all. Once you get an audience with the High Queen, then perhaps you will have a chance at convincing her to evacuate.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Well we are planning a defense against them, and we did come here looking to aid your people. I believe that I can adequately frame that purpose in a manner that appeals" she smiles. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "Excellent. I will send news that you are coming to assist and seek an audience with the High Queen. I believe she may be more receptive this way. I assume you can be...tactful when - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- you do bring up evacuation.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I believe I have had sufficient practice of late. One more thing before we close here, Captainâ€¦â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "And what might that be?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"A request. We found ourselves caring for a convoy crew of yours; they were under attack by a mercenary group and whilst we could not get away with returning their vessels, we were able to keep them + Keelah@crystyl:+ safe on board the Valley Forge. Would you be in a position to take custody and see them back to duty?â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "Ours as in Helsian, or as in one of the Czostak Kingdoms?" Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "This particular crew are Zimani.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "I can take them to a Zimani battle group, but it may be easier if you bring them to Czostak. It will also make the act more visible to the royalty there, grant you a more positive - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - first impression.â€ Keelah@crystyl chuckles, "De ja'vuâ€¦â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "What do you mean?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"An old saying from a long lost Federation language. It describes the sense of familiarity - doing something you feel that you have already done. This is becoming increasingly reminiscent of our + Keelah@crystyl:+ approach to get an audience with Mihal.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin nods, "Ah yes. I suppose our rulers all need to be appeased in the same way.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"But yes, your point is taken and so we shall do as you suggest.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "I will notify Czostak of your approach and your desire to seek an audience with the High Queen, then.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you, Captain. I hope we will have the chance to share in a celebration of a successful negotiation when this is done.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Radomin: "I hope so as well. I will contact you if there are any more developments in the military.â€ Keelah@crystyl smiles and nods before the comm ends. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Fisher: "Radomin's battle group are proceeding with their patrol, and we're continuing on our course to Czostak.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Very good. Eva, would you like to inform our guests that we on our way to take them home. I'll be in my ready room, in case any of them wish to discuss anything before they disembark..." she adds + Keelah@crystyl:+ with a knowing tone.â€ Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I'll let them know, Captain." --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | Some time later, Keelah's ready room doorbell rings. Keelah@crystyl looks up from her screen, "Come in.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula steps in, with his security escort waiting outside as well, "Captain! Is it true what I've heard? That you're seeking an audience with the High Queen?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"It is indeed, Fabula.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "How are your courtly manners then, Captain?â€ Keelah@crystyl tilts her head slightly, a little amused by the query. She stands and moves to the sofa, inviting him to join her, "Vulcans are quite adept at such things.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Though if you are here to offer your services as my tutor in the intricacies of the High Queens court; I would certainly not reject the help.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula joins her on the sofa with a smile, "Really? You surprise me with our every meeting. But I suppose you are good at keeping up a formal appearance.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"A necessity of my role" she smiles, "But I too am consistenlty surprised by our meetings. I had expected you to seek me out with news of our destination, but not for this to be the subject.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "I thought you could use the help. The High Queen's court requires some specific mannerisms, and while I suppose an outsider like you might not be expected to know them all, it will - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- present a better image if you do take the time to learn them. If you want, I can even present you- it never hurts to have a recognized bard present you to the court.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"A most gracious offer, thank you. I would like to do everything I can to help make this go smoothly.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Excellent! The High Queen hosts audiences in the throne room of the Palace of Brilliance, where she resides. Your uniform should serve as formal enough wear, so you don't have to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- change anything about your appearance. Mannerisms can be a little more complex.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "The most important rule is that you're not supposed to stand above the High Queen, but I don't suppose that will be a problem for youâ€¦â€ Keelah@crystyl turns to him with a perked brow, "I will keep it in mindâ€¦â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "The High Queen is also normally seated on a raised throne platform. You will be led to the throne room by members of the Royal Guard. Do not attempt to converse with them, and speak - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- with them only if spoken to. Also be sure to follow them closely, and not to stop within the palace unless they stop.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Sounds simple enough so far. Where does the part come in with you announcing me?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "I will be accompanying you into the palace if you would like me to accompany you. Once the Royal Guard opens the door, we will no longer be following. I will approach the High Queen - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- first and present you. What is the full name and title that you would like announced?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"My full name title would be 'Captain T'Keel Se'Lai, USS Valley Forge Commanding'" she thinks, "but given the context... it may be prudent to add something about behing the official representative of+ Keelah@crystyl:+ the Coalition, you think?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula nods and smiles, "Now that's the thinking we need. Does your Coalition have a full name?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Honestly, even 'the Coalition' is not really a formal definition. This isn't the Federation sadly, then it would be easy... I am open to suggestions there, and a certain amount of artistic license.â€ Keelah@crystyl smiles, "You are my SME on these proceedings after all.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Captain T'Keel Se'Lai, USS Valley Forge Commanding, representing the...Anti-Bies Coalition? No, that sounds like some form of animal control. The Coalition against the Bies....that - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- doesn't have the same ring to it. The Bies-Slayer's Coalition? Maybe just the Coalition of Allied factions standing against the Bies?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps less emphasis on the negative aspect of it being a war front against the Bies, and more focus on the positive. For example; our Federation back home is fully called the United Federation of + Keelah@crystyl:+ Planets. Nothing about united defense, or anything militaristic. So perhaps something more emphasizing the unity of the Coalition?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula thinks for a moment before saying, "How about the Coalition of Allies? The Rimward Coalition? The latter could insinuate the war front against the Bies without focusing on itâ€¦â€ Keelah@crystyl:"It does speak more to the regional commonality among it's members..." she nods, "Yes, I think that should do nicely.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula smiles, "Excellent. Is there anything else you'd like to add- famous deeds, other titles, so on?â€ Keelah@crystyl shifts a little, "Whilst I have no doubt there is plenty in my service record that a bard could craft such an extravagant title string from, I am... not sure how comfortable I feel with doing so. It + Keelah@crystyl:+ is not a natural way for my people.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "It is for mine, but it would depend on if there are any deeds we would recognize. If you had vanquished some foe in the far reaches of space whom we had never heard of, it would not - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- sound very impressive to the High Queen's court if they have never heard of this foe. We do not have to craft any additional titles, but it could be beneficial if you can think of a deed that may - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- be relevant to what you are trying to achieve here.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"My Starfleet service record is freely available from the ship's computer. If you think it will help; feel free to peruse it and craft any extended titling you see fit. How's that?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula smiles and nods, "That sounds splendid. I'll be sure to present something suitable for you specifically. Now, once you are presented, the show will be yours. You'll need to make the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- formal bows- first take about nine...maybe give it ten or twelve at your height, steps into the room, flourish with your right hand first and a bow, four steps forward, a flourish with your left - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- hand and another bow, and then four more steps forward, which should take you about a body's length away from the throne pedestal, where you bow again with both arms extended backward.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Sounds simple enough. Unnecessarily over the top, but simple. What about at the end; do I rise from the final bow or wait to be addressed to do so?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Wait to be addressed. Once you are, you may begin speaking with the High Queen. It goes without saying, but you should never interrupt her. Wait until she has finished speaking before - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- you respond to anything. It is not common for her to interrupt you, but if she does, let her speak.â€ Keelah@crystyl sighs, "Something tells me this is going to be harder than dealing with Mihal.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "I suppose you have more in common with him as military commanders, and though he comes from a somewhat prominent family, he has never been much like a nobleman.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I prefer not to think of myself as a military commander, but it is true that our relative positions are much more... consistent, than mine are with royalty.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Talking with Mihal could not have been an easy feat either. I'm sure you'll do well, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"I guess we'll soon find out" she smiles. --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | After some more travel at warp, the Valley Forge finally approaches Czostak, the homeworld of the Lodzki... NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "ETA to Czostak is ten minutes.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Sensors are showing a heavy military presence in the system, as expected from the civil war.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "Understood.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "The planet itself is well protected too, with a shielding grid, satellite weapons and several orbital facilities of various sizes, but nothing on the level of Vue En.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"To be expected from their homeworld.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | After a few more minutes at warp, the VF arrives in orbit of Czostak among a number of Felmoran military ships. TQ receives a hail from one of the orbital stations. Keelah@crystyl | TQ: "One of the orbital facilities is hailing.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Onscreen.â€ NPC@annpc#557 FX | A male Felmoran wearing a yet unseen gold and black uniform appears on the viewscreen, "Vessel Valley Forge, your request for an audience with the High Queen has been received and is being - NPC@annpc#557:- processed. In the meantime, you are granted visitor's priviledges to Czostak and may visit areas open to foreigners on the moon.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. We also have some of your people who were recovered from a late conflict with a mercenary group. Where should we direct them?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Felmoran: "Were they Royal Guard, or members of a Czostak Kingdom fleet?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Members of a fleet convoy.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Felmoran: "And which kingdom do they belong to?" Keelah@crystyl:"These are Zimani officers.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Felmoran nods, "I will patch you through to a Zimani representative.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "Thank you.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | A few seconds later, a female wearing the same colours as the recovered crewmembers replaces the gold-and-black uniformed male, "Greetings. How may I help you?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Greetings, I am Captain Keelah of the Valley Forge. We have some of your personnel on board who were recovered from a convoy attacked by mercenary forces. Can you assist us with seeing them back to + Keelah@crystyl:+ where they need to be?â€ Keelah@crystyl would have had TQ summon the Zimani CO in the meantime.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Zimani: "Of course. Are their vessels confirmed to have been lost?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Lost, not destroyed. They were seized by the mercenary forces.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Zimani nods, "They will have to be reassigned then. A Zimani base will receive them.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. We will arrange their transfer in accordance with your instructions.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Zimani: "I'm sending you the coordinates now. Transport the officers down, and we can take them from there.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Acknowledged.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | TQ receives the coordinates. Keelah@crystyl | TQ: "I have the transport coordinates.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Zimani: "We'll be standing by to recei-" she pauses and looks down at something offscreen, furrowing her brows.â€ Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "Is there some problem?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Zimani taps away at a console before looking back up to the screen, "It...seems your presence has been requested as well." Keelah@crystyl:"With the Zimani officers? Might I ask who is making the request?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Zimani: "I don't know, but the request has executive authorization, and all the authorization codes are valid. I've just checked them.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Fair enough. I will be there shortly with the first transfer.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Zimani nods, "That will be all.â€ Keelah@crystyl returns the nod, looking to Vrolmacht, "Well... Seems you have the bridge. I only hope the royal summons don't come in the meantime.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "What do you think that is about? It is a little...suspicious.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I do not know. It could simply be that their flag officer wishes to know the details of what happened to their convoy.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Be careful, Captain.â€ Keelah@crystyl smiles and nods, "I always am" turning to head out. NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah beams down into the Zimani base with the first group of Zimani officers. A number of other officers await them in the transporter area, welcoming them back. Keelah@crystyl wears a contented smile at the sight of the reunion. NPC@annpc#557 | As she watches the reunions, an officer steps through the gathering to her, "Captain Keelah of the Valley Forge?â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "I am Captain Keelah. I was told that my presence was requested here?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The officer nods simply, "Come with me." Keelah@crystyl quietly follows. NPC@annpc#557 | The officer leads Keelah across the base, her presence drawing curious glances from some of the others present. The walk gives Keelah her first view of the surface of Czostak. The structures - NPC@annpc#557:- of the base around her are not like that of Starfleet HQ at all despite the fact that they were also walking through a courtyard- it felt more like the courtyard of a castle. The courtyard itself - NPC@annpc#557:- was also as different from Starfleet HQ as one could get, being covered in snow rather than the lush greens of San Francisco. NPC@annpc#557 | The air was cold, around if not below zero, but fortunately they did not have to stand in the open for long as the officer leads her into a building, then a lift. NPC@annpc#557 | Indoors, there was no biting wind, but the temperature does not seem to have raised by any significant amount. Keelah@crystyl continues to follow making her usual cultural observations to herself as they move. NPC@annpc#557 | The officer selects their destination in the lift, and it proceeds on its way up. Before long, the doors open and he leads Keelah into a hallway. NPC@annpc#557 | They soon reach their destination and the officer types in something on a panel by a door. It slides open and he steps aside, gesturing inwards, "In here, Captain.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you" she acknowledges, stepping through. NPC@annpc#557 | Inside is a very ordinary looking office. It lacked a window, instead featuring a large screen on one wall that currently displayed a snowy forest. Behind a desk sits a Felmoran male wearing a - NPC@annpc#557 - black-and-blue robe. He gestures to a chair in front of the table with a slight smile, "Captain Keelah. I'm glad you came. Forgive the rather cryptic summons, but I could not be seen meeting - NPC@annpc#557 - with you.â€ Keelah@crystyl takes the offered seat, "That could be taken a number of ways" she smiles, "I will choose not to take it personally. Why don't you explain the situation for me?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Felmoran smiles again, "It's not you, don't worry. And I'm not here to ask you to do something- I assume you're accustomed to that by now," he chuckles. NPC@annpc#557 | Robed Felmoran: "If I'm right, you're here to do what I'm hoping for you to do already. But let me lay out the situation as I read itâ€¦â€ Keelah@crystyl:"It is often a part of our mission to... ingratiate ourselves to people." she leans back, listening intently. NPC@annpc#557 | Robed Felmoran: "You came to our space first, and then left to the Cidrians'. Not long after, the Cidrian Empire calls for a ceasefire, but does not surrender entirely. As far as I am aware, - NPC@annpc#557:- their evacuation plan is still underway, if not escalated. Now you return to us with a Helsian Captain sending word that you have come to lend assistance in the fight against the Bies. Except, I - NPC@annpc#557:- don't think you're offering the assistance the High Queen is expecting, are you? You sought an audience with her not to discuss battle plans- she is no tactician. You want to convince her to - NPC@annpc#557:- evacuate Czostak. Am I right?â€ Keelah@crystyl considers him a long moment, "You know, I must apologize; I must have missed your introductionâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The robed Felmoran smiles again, "I thought you might be wondering that. I am King Ambroz Karysenec of Ziman.â€ Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, sitting up a little, "King... Forgive me your Highness, but this is not exctly the royal welcome I was led to expect here. To the contrary, this liason is more akin to expectations of + Keelah@crystyl:+ a clandestine intelligence service.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz smiles again, "My kingdom has always been known for being skilled in what you describe, and my family rose to its top for a reason. Court niceties have their place when one maneuvers - NPC@annpc#557:- through the intricacies of Lodzki politics, but they are wasted on an outsider such as you. Given the circumstances and subject of our meeting, this was more appropriate.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed. And this nature of your people would certainly explain your familiarity with our movements since arriving in this region.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "I've been keeping an eye on you. You're not like many other foreign visitors, that was evident from the beginning. So tell me...are you here to convince Queen Runata to evacuate?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I believe that is in the best interests of your peoples survival, yes.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "Good. That makes two of us.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"If I may ask; if you believe this as well then why did you not join Mihal's evacuation strategy?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "When the High Queen first ruled that every Kingdom may make its own decision on whether to evacuate, I was considering it. Then Mihal performed a coup and began to march on Vasomir, - NPC@annpc#557:- and the High Queen rallied us all to war. If I were to agree with him then, it would be political suicide. And joining his Empire would be literal suicide, as the majority of Ziman's territory is - NPC@annpc#557:- on Czostak. The other Czostak Kingdoms would turn on me immediately.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "Am I correct in assuming that Mihal is still proceeding with his evacuation?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, he is now fully committed and properly focused on this.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "Then we have no choice but to evacuate. Perhaps before the war and with the full strength of all Lodzki kingdoms united, we could have had the time and strength to prepare a defense - NPC@annpc#557:- against the Bies. Now, running is the only option to survive. The information is clear, but the High Queen is simply too proud to admit this, as are the other rulers.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Yeah... no, I'm afraid you are wrong there. Even before the conflict broke out, there would have been no chance for your people. And I mean no disrespect by that, it is just the Bies is not a + Keelah@crystyl:+ conventional enemy.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz smiles, "Ah, but the High Queen will not understand that. None of us have ever seen or faced the Bies. We cannot comprehend the threat they pose, and we have only your word - NPC@annpc#557:- the word of a foreigner, to go on. If you make her see that we are in no state to even face a conventional enemy however...that may reach her.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"You make an interesting suggestion. We do have substantial sensor data on another Horde fleet, a smaller one by all accounts.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "Any hard data to support your assertions will be useful as well. I cannot support you openly yet, but know that you have an ally in the court. And should you sway the High Queen - NPC@annpc#557:- enough, you will have my aid," he smiles again. Keelah@crystyl smiles back, "Thank you, it is most gratifying to simply know that you are there in support. And hard data on the Bies is one thing we are certainly not lacking." NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "Good. I will see you in the palace, then. Make a good speech, Captain. I'm counting on you.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I will do my very best, I assure you" she nods, rising to her feet and offering a slight bow of her head in parting. NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz bows his head in return before looking to the computer on the desk in front of him. --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | A good four hours pass following Keelah's meeting with King Ambroz before the VF receives the notification that their audience with the High Queen has been granted. They want for another 12 - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - hours before the court is assembled and the summons arrive for Keelah. She beams down with Fabula to another snow covered courtyard in front of an elegant palace. Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/SQLPOoc.jpg Keelah@crystyl admires the view. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Ah, the Palace of Brilliance. Always a magnificient sight to behold, isn't it?â€ Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Very aptly named.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Come, let us not keep the High Queen waiting. We should have more time to admire the architecture after.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula leads the way across the snow covered courtyard up to the palace doors. As they walk, Keelah notes the presence of many guards garbed in gold and black, the colours of the Royal Guard, - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- but wearing a more ceremonial uniform variant more remnicient of Napoleonic era Earth uniforms. Once they reach the doors, they slide open automatically, and a retinue of five guards await them - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- just beyond the entrance.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Guard: "You are Captain Keelah of the Valley Forge, here to seek audience with High Queen Runata of the Lodzki Alliance?â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "That is I.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Guard: "Follow me." He turns in an abrupt, dramatically militaristic fashion and the other guards follow suit before marching forward into the palace. Two of the guards stay by the one who - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- spoke, while two others wait until Keelah and Fabula begin walking before they fall in line at the back of the group. Keelah@crystyl promptly falls in behind the first to move, holding a brisk pace to match their stride. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The guards lead them through the elegantly decorated halls and chambers of the palace. Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/asylumwiki/images/5/5a/Armorial-hall-of-the-winter-palace-in-st-petersburg.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20190306031639 Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | They walk past a number of grand statues of Lodski riding mounts, including ones that look like something between a bat and a dragon, as well as Lodzki on foot wielding weapons from swords - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - to rifles. A number of paintings can be seen hung across the palace as well, some depicting similar individuals, others portraits and others yet showing snow-covered landscapes. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Though most of what is depicted in the paintings is foreign to her, Keelah recognizes one painting showing a Lodzki commander wearing a modern uniform variant, leading a charge against - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - smaller, pink-skinned beings with tattooed faces clearly depicting Arshai, though the uniform of the Colonial Fleet back then looked quite different. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | After a short walk through the palace, they are led into a long hallway with every pillar and wall trimmed in bright shining gold. Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://freedesignfile.com/upload/2018/02/Interior-Russian-Kremlin-Stock-Photo-01.jpg Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula whispers to Keelah as they walk down the hall, "We're almost there. Let me enter first and introduce you, then try to do the same bows I do as best as you can.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Remember, right, left and then both arms back.â€ Keelah@crystyl quietly nods her understanding, busy either focusing her thoughts or taking in the fancy surroundings. Who knows. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The two guards in front pull open grand, ornate doors, revealing the throne room beyond. At the far end on a raised pedestal is the throne, where a female Lodzki in an ornate white dress and a - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- crystal-topped diamond is seated. To her sides stand two guards in gold and black armour wielding rifles, with blades holstered at their sides. Below the throne pedestal stands four Lodzki in - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- decorated robes, each with a different crown on their head. The crowns, combined with the fact that Keelah recognizes one of them as King Ambroz whom she had spoken with before, meant that they - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- were the four rulers of the Czostak Kingdoms. Further down from them stand a number of other fancily dressed Lodzki, but none of them bear crowns. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula enters the throne room first, flourishing with his right hand and bowing, then repeating with his left after a few steps forward, then stoops over with both arms extended back before - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - announcing, "Captain T'Keel Se'Lai, USS Valley Forge Commanding, Defender of Faraway Lands, Saviour of the Lost, Renowned Peacekeeper, representing the Rimward Coalition!â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula steps aside, making a grand and exaggerated sweep of both hands towards the entrance where Keelah stands, putting her in the spotlight. Keelah@crystyl makes her way inside following a mental eyeroll at the embellished title. She repeats his gestures with Vulcan precision and... surprising elegance, adjusting her step count to hit the same mark. Keelah@crystyl 's final bow is held as instructed. Turns out all these years of dancing finally proved useful. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | High Queen Runata: "Welcome to Czostak, Captain T'Keel Se'Lai of the Valley Forge. You may rise.â€ Keelah@crystyl rises to her full height, for all it's worth and looks up to Runata, "Your Highness, thank you for honouring me with this audience.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | As Keelah rises, she sees a smile on the High Queen's visage, "We too are honoured that you have taken the time to learn the ways of our court- and found a bard to introduce you, no less. It - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- was not something I expected from a foreigner, but then again, you are no simple foreigner, are you? You come in the name of this Rimward Coalition, to help us in the fight against the Bies." Keelah@crystyl nods, "The Coalition has long been building a defense against the Bies - or the Horde as we know them - and we believe that this defense strategy is best served by having the Lodzki people included.+ Keelah@crystyl:+ Best for the Coalition, and your people.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "According to my Royal Guard, you have only come with two vessels. While your vessel is admittedly quite impressive, I hope you have brought more ships to support us as part of your - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- defense strategy?â€ Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "I am afraid that is not the strategy, Your Highness. The Coalition Fleet is still recovering from the last Horde fleet it engaged while protecting a refugee population which already + Keelah@crystyl:+ rivals that of your collective Kingdoms. Thus, the Coalition main force is stationed at the Nuhar Waystation where they can most expediently repair while the protected civilians are taking refuge + Keelah@crystyl:+ with the Arshai at Vue En. I am afraid to inform Your Highness, but there is no viable strategy to reinforce the Lodzki Kingdoms in situ.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata narrows her eyes at Keelah, "Is that so? Then why have you come here?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"To beg Your Highness' assistance in reinforcing a front line immense enough to hold back the Bies' numbers. In exchange, we offer a defense against the Bies' telepathic attacks and safe haven for + Keelah@crystyl:+ your civilian population until the threat has passed.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "If you have this front line strong enough to make a stand, why have you not brought your ships here? The Bies is not upon us yet. You have time.â€ Keelah@crystyl shakes her head, "No we do not. As I said, our fleet is still recovering from it's last engagement with them and need the facilities of the Waystation to do so. Given how long it has taken for us to+ Keelah@crystyl:+ get here from that stronghold, the Bies could well be upon your territory before the Coalition fleet could redeploy this far out.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "So you expect us to leave, casting away the home we have long laboured to build and the rich history it holds? To wander among the stars, taking refuge with others until we eventually - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- lose all sense of our own culture as the Clenduros and the Riders have? Or worse, to live as nomads, plundering and pillaging as the Lupan do?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Well I can't speak for everyone Your Highness. But I have no intention of this becoming a generational battle for my ship. We are strangers to you, so let me tell you something of us; despite our + Keelah@crystyl:+ reputation here now, we are not a warship. The Valley Forge is a vessel of exploration and discovery. We have families... children on board, /I/ have a daughter on board and I have no intention of + Keelah@crystyl:+ seeing her grow up to take up this fight as well. We have already made great strides in the last couple of years towards isolating the controlling force of the Bies and I have every intention of + Keelah@crystyl:+ shutting them down completely before returning home to enjoy the remainder of a very long career of my own. I consider this a purely temporary measure, exactly how much so I can not say. Only that + Keelah@crystyl:+ the more people stand with us in this fight, the shorter that time will be for everyone.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata nods as she listens, "Assume we do evacuate, then. What will happen to Czostak, to the colonies? What do the Bies usually do to the lands they conquer?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"All the data we have accumulated to date suggests that the Bies do not conquer territory, they conquer people and are - in a sense - as nomadic as the refugee civilizations fleeing them. Because of + Keelah@crystyl:+ this, we have no reason to believe that they will pay any attention to your homes. As long as they do not meet resistance and subsequently find themselves in need of resources and repair works, in + Keelah@crystyl:+ which case they can be particularly brutal as we saw at Terminu.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata considers for a moment, "You are completely certain they will leave our worlds untouched if we do not attempt resistance?â€ Keelah@crystyl thinks a moment, "There is no such thing as complete certainty. I am Vulcan, and one thing my species is known for is our inability to lie so I can not preted there is a complete certainty. I can + Keelah@crystyl:+ only present you the facts and assesment of our data. And all indications from that data tell us that the most likely outcome is that they will leave your homes alone, but I can not - and will not + Keelah@crystyl:+ - lie to you and talk in absolutes when none exist.â€ Keelah@crystyl adds, "What I can tell you is that there is 94% certainty that they will leave your homes be, based on our facts to date. I imagine the predictions of damages and losses to a direct confrontation in+ Keelah@crystyl:+ defending your homeland is significantly higher than that, and as close to a complete certainty as anything may be.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "What of this defense against the Bies' telepathic powers you mentioned? You have a way to fight them. Is there really no chance for us to hold Czostak?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"In short Your Highness; no, there is not. We have a technology which protects us from their telepathy, which we will gladly share with your forces. It takes time to implement en masse however, which+ Keelah@crystyl:+ is why the refugees are taking shelter further back from our fleets as we can not provide it to everyone. If Your Highness wishes it, I can provide details of our engagement with a smaller Bies + Keelah@crystyl:+ fleet which destroyed the Lupan's Holy City and Terminu before we stopped it. No pleasant viewing, but it certainly provides perspective on their dominating power.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata nods to one of the guards by her side, who steps down the platform and extends a hand to receive the details. Keelah@crystyl retrieves a PADD which she dutifully hands over, "I have tactical specialists available to answer any questions your people may have on this. But please understand, I have no wish to scaremonger + Keelah@crystyl:+ here, this is purely to provide context on the enemy you prepare to face. If you choose to decline our request, we will still provide you all the information we can to assist in your defense plan.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The guard takes the PADD and hands it to another guard before returning to the High Queen's side. The other guard steps over to a console, connecting the PADD with it. A large screen on the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- opposite side of the throne room from Runata turns on, displaying the data on it. She and the other rulers view through it quietly. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | After a few moments of contemplation, the High Queen turns her attention back to Keelah, "Tell me more about your defense plan first. If we leave Czostak behind, where will we go? And where - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- will we make our stand against the Bies with the rest of your forces?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Your civilians will be protected at Vue En along with everyone else. Our fleets will convene at the Waystation and stand by to deploy between the Lodzki territories and Vue En. With no population to+ Keelah@crystyl:+ draw their attention here, we simply need to detect their approach and then choose a location we control. Without having tracking on their movements thus far, it is impossible to determine exactly + Keelah@crystyl:+ where that will be.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "Vue En? The Arshai world? Assuming they even give us the coordinates to their hidden home, you wish for us to take refuge with our old enemies?â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "Yes. I am aware that your people and the Arshai have an adversarial past. But the hidden nature of their home is exactly why it is being used as a refuge. They have already + Keelah@crystyl:+ faced their trials against the Bies and have opened themselves to providing temporary shelter to civilians in need. They will accommodate your people as well.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The High Queen takes another moment to reflect and King Ambroz turns to look at her, "Your Majesty, if I mayâ€¦â€ Keelah@crystyl looks to Ambroz. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | She gives Ambroz a nod and he continues, "The Arshai do not live as long as we do. Even in cold environments they cannot survive for three centuries. Few Arshai living at Vue En now remember - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- the war as we do. If we keep order among our population, I do not expect the Arshai will cause trouble." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata considers for another moment before looking to Keelah, "I suppose we do not need guarantees of our safety in either case. Our fleet will be coming with us, and if our people - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- are harmed, we will be more than capable of defending them. It is not them I fear. It is the image of the Lodzki people, who have stood proud against the Arshai and kept them at bay in the war, - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- now scrambling to them to take refuge.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "Quite easily the biggest sacrifice any have had to make in these dark times. It was no easier for the Regulators to overcome their reclusive nature and collaborate on joint technological + Keelah@crystyl:+ developments, nor for the Lupan to put aside their violent inclinations towards others to work alongside them. Even the Nuhar had to overcome themselves in working past their fractured nature of + Keelah@crystyl:+ the last 200,000 years. Everyone in this Coalition has sacrificed something of themselves in order to become a part of something... more. Singularly; that may be called their weakness. + Keelah@crystyl:+ Collectively; it is the binding unity which gives us the strength to defeat the Bies, and something everyone is ultimately feeling better off for.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata nods, "Like the formation of the Lodzki Alliance and the office of High Ruler was for my own people. Yes, I believe I see your point.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"It is the nature of our own civilization as well, Your Highness. Which is why I believe so passionately in it, and would not have travelled so far to stand before you know if I did not truly believe+ Keelah@crystyl:+ it was the best option for you.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata nods again, "And I will trust in your expertise on this foe. Is there any other data you are able to present us on them, that is not attached to the pad you have already given?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"There is much that can - and will - be provided as we make preparations, though everything you need to know in support of your current situation should be contained within that PADD. The only factor+ Keelah@crystyl:+ we do not strictly have any data on, is that of the current political climate between the Lodzki Kingdoms.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "You are aware of our current conflict with the Cidrian Empire, I assume?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"As much as I assume you are aware that I came here from a meeting with Mihal which resulted in a cessation of his hostilities.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata smiles and nods, "Mihal will likely be evacuating as well, I suppose. That was what he wanted from the beginning. Leave the rest of our politics to me, Captain. You have presented your - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- case. Please, wait outside, and allow me to discuss the situation with the other rulers and nobles.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you, Your Highness. I can ask nothing more" she offers with a bow like before, and makes her exit. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula follows her out into the fancy hall they had come in through. Only two of the guards that escorted them in remain outside, and they close the door behind the two. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "I think that went well. You certainly know how to phrase your points.â€ Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Next you'll be telling me I missed my true calling as a bard.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula smiles back, "Actually, I was just going to say that I can see how you managed all the negotiations I've seen in your records. But now that I think about it, you might've made a good - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- bard as well. Especially with how well you executed these entrance bows. I'd wager you had some training in the arts beforehand.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I... may have had some relevant training in my youth with sufficient focus on timing and coordinationâ€¦â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "That explains it! Well I for one am glad you are exactly where you are now, otherwise who would be here to make such a compelling argument to the High Queen?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I only hope it was enough. How long do these deliberations usually take anyway?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Oh...a while. But they didn't send you out of the palace to summon you later, which is a good sign. That means the High Queen doesn't expect it to take more than a day.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"In that case I suppose there is nothing to do but wait then.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "There's a place to sit and wait in the chamber just to the side. And eat, if it does take a day...come on.â€ Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Who am I to deny the opportunity to explore this wonderfully rich heritage here. After you." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula leads the way to the waiting chamber nearby. Fortunately, the deliberation does not take an entire day, but it does take a good few hours, more than enough time for the bard to tell the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- story behind every painting and sculpture in the room, detailing the history of battle long past and kingdoms that have since ceased to exist. Eventually, one of the uniformed guards shows up in - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- the waiting room, saying, "The High Queen requests your presence in the throne room.â€ Keelah@crystyl stands, looking to Fabula, "It would seem the deliberations are over. Is it the same as before when we enter, or less formal for a return visit?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "I do not need to announce you again, but I hope you committed the movements of the entrance bows to memory, as we will still have to perform them, but this time we will be going - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- together. Try to be in sync as best as you can.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "I will do my best to match my pace to your stride. Come then, let us not keep her Highness waiting.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula nods and leads the way back to the throne room. Once again, the guards outside open the door for them, and this time, Fabula steps in at the same time with Keelah. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | As Fabula enters, he gives Keelah a brief glance to make sure she is keeping pace beside him before he begins to perform the bows as he did before. Keelah@crystyl is there and ready. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Once again, Fabula performs the right bow, steps forward, then performs the left bow, stepping forward further before bowing with both arms swept back and remaining in that position. Keelah@crystyl again mirrors his movement with surprising grace and holds well at his side. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "You may rise.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula stands straight and steps aside, leaving the centre of the chamber to Keelah. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "We have reached a decision. We will accept your plans.â€ Keelah@crystyl stands, turning her gaze to Runata's with a smile, "I am most gracious, Your Highness. Thank you.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "We will prepare for the evacuation of Czostak. Once our population has reached Arshai territory, the Royal Guard and senior officials of all the militaries of the Czostak Kingdoms - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- will reach out to your Coalition to discuss the implementation of your defensive measures and the deployment of our forces against the Bies.â€ Keelah@crystyl bows graciously again, "And you have my personal word that I will do everything in my power to ease things on your people.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata: "Thank you, Captain T'Keel Se'Lai. Though our forces are not yet equipped with your defensive measures, there is one thing we can offer you immediately to aid in your efforts.â€ Keelah@crystyl lifts her head with an undeniably curiosity, "Oh?â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata nods to Ambroz, who steps over and hands her a large, Lodzki-sized PADD. Keelah@crystyl uses both hands to grasp it as she assesses the curiosity. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ambroz: "This contains the exact specifications of our surveillance frequencies and the authorization codes you require to access them. We will reconfigure all our automatic surveillance - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - satellites and stations to maximum range and broadcast their data on this encrypted frequency. If the Bies pass anywhere near our space, you will know about it, and you will have any detail on - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- their fleet that our surveillance is able to pick up.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The PADD does indeed provide encrypted frequencies and authorization codes. Keelah@crystyl:"This will be invaluable, thank you again. And rest assured I will personally ensure that your trust in us with this information is not squandered.â€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata smiles, "Good. I hope we will be able to assist more with the war effort once our forces are properly equipped. But for the moment, we have an evacuation to plan.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I already have all allied forces in the region diverting to assist following my discussion with Mihal, I will ensure they account for your territories as well when assessing where they can best + Keelah@crystyl:+ be of assistanceâ€ Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Runata nods, "The individual Kingdoms will reach out to them if their aid is needed. Thank you again, Captain T'Keel Se'Lai. That will be all for now." Keelah@crystyl takes her cue and again bows before making her exit. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula does the same and follows her out. The full five guards wait for them outside this time, and escort them back out the palace through the way they came. --- Mana@anncaris FX | Not long after Keelah returns from her audience with the High Queen, her combadge sounds. Keelah@crystyl taps it, "Se'Lai" Mana@anncaris <C - Eva> Captain. Guardian-Captain Daian is asking to speak with you. Should I put it through to your ready room. Keelah@crystyl:"That will be fine, yes. Thank you Eva.â€ Keelah@crystyl sits back behind her desk, sipping from a mug of spiced tea as she spins the screen around to receive the comm. Mana@anncaris FX | A few seconds after she spins the screen around, the visage of Guardian-Captain Daian appears, "Captain Keelah. Word is that you've managed to convince the Czostak Kingdoms to evacuate as well.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "I see the old proverb about good news travelling fast does not disappoint. Yes, you are correctly informed.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "It's good to have good news. We don't get it often enough with what we do. Is this your first time evacuating an entire civilization?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"It is the first time for me being so central so the initial planning of an evacuation, yes.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "It's what we Guardians do most of the time. Not the most glamourous work, but then again, neither is fighting the Horde. I wish we spent more time fighting and less time persuading - Mana@anncaris - everyone to run, but I have to admit, there's a certain sense of accomplishment when you manage it, isn't there?â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "It has been quite the diplomatic dance. But I know it will be worth every effort. Mihal's evacuation is already underway, and I've sent word to bring in additional ships to assist. + Keelah@crystyl:+ Furthermore; the High Queen has given me access to their long range surveillance network and redirected it to look solely for the Horde's approach.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Really? That will be very useful. This way, we'll get an idea of where this Horde fleet is at, and if we're lucky, even its composition.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"That is the hope" she nods. Mana@anncaris | Daian: "We'll want all the information we can get so we can set up an effective defensive strategy. Speaking of which, now that we've warned the Felmorans and asked them to evacuate, where - Mana@anncaris:- will you be heading next? Commander Skormir is already beginning to move Guardian forces towards Vue En. Will you join us at the New World and assist in the defense there?â€ Keelah@crystyl:"At the very least we will reconvene with the Coalition leadership to discuss our next move.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Most of the Coalition will be relocating towards Vue En soon, if they are not already en route. From what I know of the plans, a token force will be kept at the Waystation to help the - Mana@anncaris:- Nuhar manage the refugees there, but the leadership will be gathering at the New World to plan the defense. Skormir has instructed that I proceed there directly, and if we head back to the - Mana@anncaris:- Waystation now, most of the Coalition will already be gone by the time we return. I suggest we continue travelling together.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Agreed. That being the case, I will reach out to the Lodzki leadership to lend our evacuation capacity to the cause. We can focus on the more critical transfers requiring medical monitoring as well + Keelah@crystyl:+ their military leadership to bring them into strategy planning as quickly as possible.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "That's good thinking. If we travel along with the evacuating Felmorans, we might be able to help with the rift between their two factions as well. Too often the Guardians save a - Mana@anncaris:- species, but they fall apart afterwards. We still preserved their genetic diversity, but...it's never a good sight to see.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed. The situation here is still delicate after all; the bad blood between the two factions here is very fresh, and we have the Emperor who was - until recently - acting under influence, and the + Keelah@crystyl:+ High Queen whom we had to tactfully persuade to evacuate by focusing on the hard confrontation odds, not the true nature of the Horde's domination.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "I'm not sure their military leaders will be willing to travel together just yet, but we have some evac capacity as well, even though we're a much smaller ship. We can take on just the - Mana@anncaris:- military leaders of one faction, and you can harbour the leaders of the other along with other priorities.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "That sounds reasonable. It is not really worth counting QanwI' for any such capacity. Frankly, I could probably fit more refugees on a Runabout. But they will be on our flank as escort as + Keelah@crystyl:+ before.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "They have been a great ally, and it's always useful to have a cloaking ship near you in reserve, just in case. Who do you think you will do better with taking on, the Cidrian military - Mana@anncaris:- leaders, or that of the Czostak Kingdoms?â€ Keelah@crystyl hrms, "I think perhaps the Czostak. The Cidrian leadership are still subject to influence cleansing so we would do well to have your people's expert eye on them. By comparison those from the Czostak+ Keelah@crystyl:+ are still relatively naive to the true threat and so it may be best to use this time to more gently expose them.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "The Light of Arindol will head back into Cidrian territory to assist with their evacuation and take on their military leadership, then.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Perfect, thank you.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "One question out of curiosity...you said you've never been so central in beginning an evacuation. You've assisted in one, then? Not counting Terminu, which wasn't exactly an evacuation- Mana@anncaris:- we were just trying to free all the thralls we could.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"The Valley Forge has aided evacuation and similar activities before embarking on our mission out here, yes.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "The evacuation here at Czostak might be a little more difficult. The Cidrians have more planets to manage, but they've also done more preparation. Prior experience should help with the - Mana@anncaris:- situation here, though." Keelah@crystyl:"I will seek Captain Vix' wisdom as well.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "Good work talking the High Queen around. With what you've done here and your experience fighting the Horde previously, you're practically a Guardian.â€ Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Quite the honour.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "You can't be one of us without the proper rites unfortunately, but you're definitely an honourary one, and you and your crew will be granted the respect fitting of fellow Guardians.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"But let us not get caught up in patting ourselves on the back now. This is but a small step on the way to victory and the biggest battles are still ahead of us.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "True. I hope there'll be more taking the fight to the Horde and less evacuating ahead of us.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Be careful what you wish for.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian chuckles, "Good advice. But with the Coalition at our backs, I do hope we can make real progress against the Horde now and not always be a few steps behind them.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "It feels like the decisive moments are looming ever closer to us now.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "That it does. This is the first time I've imagined that I might be able to see the end of the war with the Horde. Probably the first time any Guardian has thought that way.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"We have an unprecedented force standing ready to hold them back. But unless we can track down the source of their corruption I fear that like a cancer, it will just spread indefinitely if not + Keelah@crystyl:+ properly removed.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "As the Guardians know all too well. Anyways, let's focus on the present, and hopefully adding the Lodzki to Coalition forces will help us remove this corruption once and for all.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "We'll be in touch and update you on the progress of the Cidrian side of the evacuation.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed, and thank you.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "And you, Captain Keelah. You did well here with the Felmorans." --- Keliaya@anncaris FX | It has been a day since Keelah persuaded the High Queen to evacuate, and the VF remains in orbit of Czostak to assist and eventually take on critical evacuees. Keliaya@anncaris | During an off-duty shift, Rianni's doorbell rings. Rianni@crystyl is curled up in an armchair with a fluffy blanket wrapped around her as she reads a PADD while looking out at the view of the planet, "Come in.â€ Rianni@crystyl peers around the side of the chair to see who is there. Keliaya@anncaris steps into the room, giving Rianni a smile, "Ensign. Taking some time to relax?â€ Rianni@crystyl sits herself up a little, "Commander? I, yes... just enjoying some quite time between duty shifts. Is everything alright?" she seems poised to jump to action but unsure still Keliaya@anncaris chuckles at Rianni's reaction, "Relax, Ensign. I'm just checking up on you. There are a few things I wanted to ask you as well, but they're not critical.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Oh, sure! Well please come in, make yourself comfortable" she stays sitting up a little but relaxed. Keliaya@anncaris steps over to the sofa and takes a seat, "So, how're you adjusting to not having to take care of the baby? Found plenty to keep you occupied in your spare time, I hope?â€ Rianni@crystyl smiles brandishing her PADD, "I'm finally getting the chance to catch up on my reading!â€ Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "I know that feeling all too well after getting some time to sit down after a busy mission. Enjoy your newfound freedom while it lasts; there might be more work to come yet.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"That sounds like more than just suppositionâ€¦â€ Keliaya@anncaris:"I don't mean to burden you with even more work yet, but I thought a little heads up would be nice. We're heading to Vue En to meet back up with the Coalition leadership, but before that the - Keliaya@anncaris:- Captain wants to take on the Czostak military leaders during the evacuation so we can discuss plans and figure out how best to make use of their forces. Tactical might be a little busy in the - Keliaya@anncaris:- coming weeks.â€ Rianni@crystyl sets her PADD down, sitting up much more attentively, "I see..." nodding as she thinks, "Yes, this will a whole new fleet to coordinate won't it.â€ Keliaya@anncaris:"Eight, to be more exact, but each a smaller fleet that's used to working together as a whole, assuming we can reconcile the two factions divided by the recent civil war.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Right! This will be an interesting one indeed. Thank you for the heads up!â€ Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "I thought you might want to be more involved with the process. It'll still be a while before the generals and admirals come on board, and we'll have plenty of time to plan things out - Keliaya@anncaris:- over the trip to Vue En, but there was something I've been thinking aboutâ€¦â€ Rianni@crystyl:"The 'other thing' you mentioned wanting to ask?â€ Keliaya@anncaris nods, "More of something I figured you might want to factor into your planning, if you haven't already. Remember the radiogenic photon torpedoes we found on the Black Wyvern? The ones that don't - Keliaya@anncaris:- have much explosive yield, but release radiation that hampers target locks?" Rianni@crystyl nods, "Of course.â€ Keliaya@anncaris:"They give off a distinct signature even when they're in their casings, and looking through our scans, I noticed there's a supply on almost every Lodzki military vessel, regardless of faction. I - Keliaya@anncaris - think it might be substitute for cloaking technology. It's far from the same thing, but it works practically like a smoke grenade in ship-to-ship combat. It makes it harder for you to target - Keliaya@anncaris:- them as well, but it makes it practically impossible for the enemy to hit you with anything. Not exactly a cloak, but useful for a quick getaway.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Useful indeed, and a unique trait we can list against their vessels. It would be interesting to see if we can modify these torpedoes to fire from our chambers, and the other Coalition vessels too.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Equally so, we should try and find a way to counter their effects. In case the Horde get their hands on any Felmoran ships.â€ Keliaya@anncaris:"That's a good point, actually. I'll ask Lennie to see if Science can come up with any way to penetrate the radiation. I was just thinking that it could be useful for debilitating the Horde fleet. - Keliaya@anncaris:- They're probably still going to outnumber us even if we manage to get most of the Lodzki crews equipped with implants and into the fight before they arrive. Their deflectors aren't anywhere near - Keliaya@anncaris:- powerful enough to use the pulse we developed, but the torpedoes could help make the numbers more manageable.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"This definitely gives us a lot to work with either way!â€ Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I thought you might want to factor these into consideration. The Lodzki ships are pretty good designs, but aside from the nine dreadnoughts, these torpedoes are currently the main factor - Keliaya@anncaris:- that makes them stand apart from other Coalition ships at the moment.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Now all we need is data on the inbound Horde fleet so we can engineer our strategy to suit!â€ Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Fortunately, Czostak has given us access to their surveillance network. If the Horde fleet comes by, we'll get data on them. With the population evacuated, the Horde might not pass - Keliaya@anncaris:- directly through Lodzki space anymore, but the surveillance system should be large enough to give us some data if the fleet crosses the sector or the general area around it.â€ Rianni@crystyl nods, "It was a nice bonus to the whole affair here for sure!â€ Keliaya@anncaris:"That it was. Hopefully, it'll give us plenty of data on the Horde fleet to work with. Anyways, I should leave you to get some well-deserved rest, Ensign.â€ Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "I've got to read up on my radiogenics now!â€ Keliaya@anncaris chuckles and stands, "Not too much extra work, I hope!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"All part of the fun" she smiles, shifting on her hip as she retrieves the PADD, "Thanks again for bringing me up to speed!â€ Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "And thank you for your thoughts on things too. I'll start looking into ways to counter the radiogenic torpedoes. Let me know if you need anything!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Will do!" she chirps, giving a cheery wave as Kelly heads out.
View Act IV
Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | It has been a week since Czostak began preparing for evacuation. The Valley Forge remains in orbit, waiting until the senior military officials are ready to embark. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | On a relatively quiet day, Keelah's combadge sounds as she works in her ready room. Keelah@crystyl taps, "Se'Lai.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> Captain, we've received a request from the bard Fabula to beam on board. He wishes to speak to you about some important matter Keelah@crystyl:<C> By all means, I'm not preoccupied with anything at present so he can report to me her. Alien NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> Understood. We'll approve his request and send him to you. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | A few minutes later, Keelah's doorbell rings. Keelah@crystyl:"Come in" she calls out, preemptively leaning back from her screen and looking to the door. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula steps in with a wide smile, "Captain! Good to see you again. I hope I'm not intruding on anything.” Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Of course not. Please, sit. I understand this is important.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula takes a seat, "I could've done a comm call, but it's so much less personal. Besides, I think I'm actually growing rather fond of your ship after the time I've spent on it. Despite the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- rather...underscaled parts.” Keelah@crystyl smiles, "I can only imagine.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "But yes, onto business. I don't imagine you've heard of Zytomin Bakulsi?” Keelah@crystyl blink blinks, "Not that I can recall..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "He's one of the most famous Lodzki, and quite possibly the oldest, unless you believe some of the more fantastical ballads. He's been almost everything- an inventor, a soldier, even - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- an honorary bard! He was one of the members of the team who built the first Lodzki transporter and would go on to create the first replicator, and refine his technology for use in holosims.” Keelah@crystyl:"Quite the repertoire" she nods, "Your lifespans even far exceed Vulcan's, and we are considered long lived by many.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "And Zytomin's lifespan exceeds even most Lodzki. He's over a thousand years old by now- no one quite knows how he managed it. The thing is, and this is why I've come to you, he - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- became quite reclusive in his old age. Now, he lives on his own in a compound deep within the Shadow Lands.” Keelah@crystyl:"I'm sorry; the... Shadow Lands?” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "You know how half of Czostak is almost completely uninhabited- by Lodzki, at least? That's the half that's tidally locked to Nietak, the gas giant that Czostak orbits. Most of the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- time, Czostak is either in front of Nietak or behind it, meaning the tidally locked side gets very little sunlight- only brief periods in the middle of the Brightening cycle. That's why the songs - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- and stories call it the Shadow Lands. It sounds fancier than tidally-locked side, you have to admit.” Keelah@crystyl chuckles, "I suppose it does. So, why are you telling me about this living legend now?” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "Zytomin hasn't responded to the requests for him to leave his compound and evacuate. The compound is located inside a canyon containing minerals that block sensors and transporters, - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- so he can't just be beamed out. The Royal Guard send a team in to retrieve him, but apparently he refused to go with them and his defenses forced them back. The Guard have too much on their hands - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- to send another team in, so I was hoping you have people who could help.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "He's too brilliant of a mind to be left behind. He's witnessed so much of our history, been an instrumental part of it, not to mention what he knows of science and culture.” Keelah@crystyl:"Which means he's just as great a liability if the Horde were to take him…” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "That, too. Which is why I've come to you. The kingdoms are busy enough trying to evacuate everyone in cities and towns- there's only so much they can do to try and make one old man - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- holed up in a bunker to leave.” Keelah@crystyl:"This almost sounds personal…” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "His reasons for not leaving? Maybe. I've never met him, only seen videos from when he was younger. But whatever his reasons are, I think we both agree that we can't just leave him there." Keelah@crystyl:"Oh, that too. I thought perhaps you knew him personally given your focus on the value of extracting him" she smiles, "No matter. I am sure we can spare a team to investigate. Though it would be + Keelah@crystyl:+ helpful for them to have someone along with local knowledge.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "I wish I had that honour. But almost every Lodzki looks up to him. I know plenty who idolize him much more than me- usually scientists and engineers themselves.” Keelah@crystyl:"Well perhaps this mission will give you that chance.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula: "You want me to accompany your team into the Shadow Lands? Well, I suppose you will need a guide. Not that I'm a survival expert or anything, but I am familiar with the different - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- creatures that inhabit the region. From stories and videos, at least.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "As I said, our team will need someone with local knowledge and I can think if nobody better suited. Especially as it is your mission" she smiles. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula smiles back, "I'll be glad to help! I'll give you the coordinates of the compound. Let me know when you have a team ready to go.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "You'll hear from my team as soon as have them briefed.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Fabula nods back and stands, "I'll wait for the word, Captain." --- Alien NPC@annpc#557:FX | The team of Vrolmacht, Fabula, Emma and Mia beams down to the Shadow Lands of Czostak, a dark and cold(er than usual) part of the moon. As they materialize, they immediately feel the frigid - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- air biting around them. There is no trace of any vegetation above the snow and ice covered ground, though the distant calls of various animals can be heard. Emma Ralde@crystyl:shivers, almost on instinct as she looks around, "Long time since I've seen a climate like this.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula glances to her curiously, "When was the last time you were in a climate like this?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:thinks - not too hard - about it, "Oh, must have been a good century or so…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "That's a long time ago, for you.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "I hope you still remember your survival training for such climates, Ensign. This is the closest we're able to beam to the compound, and it will be a long way through the canyon.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:tugs the fur collar of her coat snug around her cheeks, "I'll be fine. Honestly, I'm more worried about Mia…” Emma Ralde@crystyl:looks to Mia with a bemused look as she stands there in her everyday uniform, while Miadrone appears to be wearing a deerskin fur hat with the ear flaps dangling either side of it. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia smiles back, "We are perfectly capable of functioning in much lower temperatures than this. However, we prefer to keep our working parts nice and warm!" Emma Ralde@crystyl:smirks, "I can get behind that sentiment" Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "Let's get to the compound as quickly as we can, then." He begins moving forward into the canyon ahead... Alien NPC@annpc#557:| As they proceed, Mia finds her sensors increasingly constricted by the minerals around them, though she can still make out details of their immediate vicinity. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia frowns at the incessant beeping from Miadrone. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Mia, what is it?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula looks over curiously as well. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "It is all the minerals in this valley interfering with our sensors! We are almost solely relying on visual feed only!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Welcome to the club…” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia gives pause for thought and chuckles, "We suppose it is much more like our memory perceptions... We shall consider an educational experience!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "At least we have visual. The canyon walls will protect us from the worst of any storms that pass by. The rest of the Shadow Lands can be much less forgiving.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Lovely…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "This is a dangerous place. In the old days, before we had the weapons of today to defend ourselves, beasts from the Shadow Lands would wander out to other parts of Czostak around it - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- on occasion, when food sources were low within their usual habitat. They've been known to wreak havoc, sometimes even devouring entire villages.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "It almost sounds like the ideal place for a Klingon hunting expedition.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:chuckles. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| A few seconds later, Mia's sensors manage to pick up something big above them... Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia stops and looks, "Commander Vrolmacht, we detect something above us!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht looks up, but in the darkness of the Shadow Lands he is unable to see anything. Fabula however quickly exclaims, "Wyvern! Lights out and stay low!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The bard immediately drops onto the snow, with Vrolmacht quickly following. Emma Ralde@crystyl:& Mia follow suit. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| A few seconds later, they hear the fluttering of distant wings. The thing on sensors, now clearly a huge lifesign, settles somewhere in the canyon ahead of them. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "Is it gone?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "We are... uncertain. The best we can tell is that it has settled somewhere further ahead in this canyon.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "Speaking of storms, one of them must be coming. Wyverns often take shelter in canyons like this during storms. At least that means it's not hunting.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "But that does not necessarily mean it is not hungry. There are branching paths in this cavern. Perhaps we may find a way around it.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "We shall continue to track as best as we are able here.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht nods, "Let's proceed and try to keep a low profile.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht stands back up, activating his flashlight as he begins to continue on. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Low profiles should be easy. For me and Mia at least" she grins up at the taller guys. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula chuckles, "Looking on the bright side, I see.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"It's hard not to with Mia around…” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia beams proudly. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "True!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Before long, the Wyvern's lifesign draws closer and closer in front of them... Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "We appear to be approaching the Wyvern once more.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "Is there any way around it?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "According to the map of the canyon system, we'll have to backtrack.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "I suppose it is better than disturbing the creature. And while this may be an ideal place for a Klingon hunt, that is not why we are here.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:nods, "Sounds reasonable.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula nods as well, "I'll lead the way." He turns around, heading back the way they came.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| They backtrack for a good ten minutes before taking another path and begin moving forward once again. As they travel, light snowflakes begin to drift into the canyon. Emma Ralde@crystyl:smiles, poking her tongue out to catch on. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula spots her and looks over, "What are you doing?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:giggles, "An old habit! For us hot blooded creatures, snow is quite the natural oddity so it's fun to enjoy!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:shudders as a snowball splats on the back of her head. Slowly turning. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia stands there snickering uncontrollably, "You are right Ms. Emma, it is fun to enjoy the snow!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula jumps back at the sudden splat before turning around and pointing his flashlight. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The bard shakes his head and chuckles with bemusement, "You don't see snow enough, do you…” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Hey no fair! You've got digital tracking.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Just you wait, I'll get you back when you're not looking…” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Miadrone blows a raspberry. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "Her sensors still work to some extent, you know…” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That's why I'm biding my time. Besides, you know what they say; revenge is a dish best served c-... Mia!" she shudders, cut off by a second snowball. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Cold!" she giggles. Emma Ralde@crystyl:groans, "Let's just keep moving…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula laughs and nods, "And watch our backs for snowballs while we do.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yeah... Come on Mia, up front where I can keep an eye on you!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "I suppose I still have to lead the way...but remember, I know the terrain, so don't try to ambush me!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I get the feeling she wouldn't even try it with either of you two..." Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "Just because I'm larger than you doesn't mean I'm more dangerous! I'm not a fighter! I definitely wouldn't try it on Commander Vrolmacht, though…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht simply responds with a grin as they walk. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yeah, but she can just ripple out of view and fly away. So I wouldn't get too cosy, Sir…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht quickly looks over his shoulder at Mia to check for snowballs... Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia struts along with an innocent grin to make even Rianni proud. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht stares at her unconvinced for a moment before turning and continuing to walk on. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| As they keep going, the snowfall doesn't get much heavier, but the howling of the wind can be heard above them, and it is clear that there is a storm in the area, but the canyon is protecting - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- them from the worst of it. Several minutes of walking later, Mia begins to pick up signs of artificial structures ahead... Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "We believe we are getting close. We see signs of artificial construction ahead.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula nods, "This should be the right place on the map.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Another minute of walking, and they reach a canyon wall with a large blast door built into it. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "How are we going to get ins-” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Before he can finish, the blast door slides open... Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "Well, it looks like we are invited!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I thought in the brief you said that your people couldn't even get past the defenses here..." Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula: "That's all the Royal Guard told me…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "Did they all come back alive? This feels like a trap.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula nods, "None of them were harmed. Clearly someone wants us inside, and that is what we came for…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht nods, "Very well. We head in, but stay alert, everyone.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Can't argue with that.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht steps through the blast doors first, followed by Fabula. Emma Ralde@crystyl:& Mia follow close behind. --- Mana@anncaris | Meanwhile on the Valley Forge, Keelah's combadge chirps yet again... Keelah@crystyl taps again, thinking nothing of it, "Se'Lai.” Mana@anncaris <C - TQ> We're getting a hail from the Light of Arindol through the Lodzki comm network. It's marked as top priority. Keelah@crystyl:"Understood, put it through in here for me please.” Keelah@crystyl spins her console screen around ready. Mana@anncaris | Captain Daian's visage appears on the screen again, "Captain Keelah. How is the evacuation going at Czostak?” Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Hello Captain. Things are moving along well enough, all things considered. How are things on your end?” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "We may have a problem. I don't know how severe it is yet, but you better tell the Czostak Kingdoms to step up the evacuation and get over here.” Keelah@crystyl:"Oh?” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Cidria's evacuation was completed a little over two days ago, but a few Cidrian ships were still in the system. Six hours ago, these ships abandoned their post and headed for Czostak - Mana@anncaris:- Kingdom territory, in what we believe was an attempt to reignite the conflict between the Lodzki Alliance and the Cidrian Empire. Fortunately, Admiral Celestina was able to intercept the rogue - Mana@anncaris:- ships, but when the crew was checked, they all showed signs of Horde influence. Influence they tested negative for only a few days earlier.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "This suggests there's already a Horde presence near Cidria. It's the furthest out of the colonies, but that's still worryingly close.” Keelah@crystyl:"Troubling news indeed. It may be prudent for us to depart immediately while things progress here.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "We can't leave if they're already at Cidria. Vasomir might be evacuated quickly enough, but the other two worlds probably won't be. I'm doing some scouting now. It's not unheard of for - Mana@anncaris:- the Horde to send ships ahead specifically for the purposes of exerting influence on their target civilizations. If that's the case, the main fleet is probably no more than a week or two behind, - Mana@anncaris:- but the advance force needs to be dealt with before they can cause chaos. I'll let you know if it is indeed a vanguard for the fleet or if we detect the entirety of the fleet, but we need you - Mana@anncaris:- here in case. You and the QanwI' are the only other ships here with crews who are immune to Horde influence, and the Horde rarely sends a single ship out on its own, so if this is an advance force, - Mana@anncaris:- the Light of Arindol won't be enough to take it down.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "I have people on the ground and out of comms range at present but can leave a Runabout in orbit to support them.” Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "Leave someone who can convince the Czostak Kingdoms to speed things up with the runabout, too. Whatever the case, the Horde fleet can't be far now.” Keelah@crystyl:"So it would seem. As soon as I have relayed the news to the authorities here, we'll be underway.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Excellent. We'll keep in touch and let you know as soon as we know what we're dealing with.” Keelah@crystyl:"Likewise as soon as we have an eta.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Thank you, Captain. Let's hope this is just an advance force we can deal with.” Keelah@crystyl gives it a moment to collect her thoughts after the call ends before opening the intercom to TQ, "Tee, please raise me a priority channel to the Palace and patch it through it here." Mana@anncaris <C - TQ> Yes Captain. We're waiting for a representative now... --- Alien NPC@annpc#557:FX | Down on Czostak, the team enters a large empty space past the blast door. In front of them sits a second, identical blast door, and as they approach, the one they entered through closes behind - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- them. Lights turn on above and around them, illuminating the area. There are no other visible doors aside from the huge blast doors. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "This is looking more and more like a trap…” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Totally a trap.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht's hand moves closer to the phaser on his belt, while Fabula steps up to the second blast door, which still does not open. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mia's sensors pick up a number of technological equipment in the walls around them, including active sensors... Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Somebody definitely knows we are here. Among everything else built into this room there are an abundance of sensors.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Fabula raises a hand and waves around, "Hello? I know you can see me! Can you let us in? We're-” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht, Emma and Mia begin disappearing into transporter beams, though Fabula is untouched... Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Being further ahead towards the second blast door, Fabula doesn't notice for a while, but by the time he starts running back to the others, they have already dematerialized... Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The team materializes in a large, dark icy cave. Vrolmacht activates his flashlight and shines it around, finding Emma and Mia, but no Fabula... Emma Ralde@crystyl:looks around, "Where's Fabula?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Moreso; where are we?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Meanwhile, Mia's sensors quickly pick up that they are not in a cave, but a holodeck of some sort. However, there is a large lifeform in here that reads similarly to the wyvern from earlier.. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "I don't think he was brought here with us.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Something was however. Mr. Vrolmacht, this is not a cave but a holodeck. However we are detecting lifesigns nearby. They register similarly to the wyvern. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"...Trap. Called it.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht quickly draws his phaser, but taps on it once before sighing and holstering it, "Our energy weapons have been disabled.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Then we should at least be thankful that we have not also been disabled" she hrms, trying to replicate herself a phaser. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Mia is able to replicate a phaser, just as noises begin emanating from the other side of the cave, and the lifesign begins to shift closer to them... Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia beams proudly before turning her aim towards the sound. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well now you're just showing off..." Emma Ralde@crystyl:takes position behind the others as she can't really do much else. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Before long, a creature with bat-like characteristics but easily the size of a large elk creeps into view of Vrolmacht's flashlight. It does not respond to the light at all- in fact, it doesn't - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- appear to have eyes. Before Mia can do anything however, a voice sounds from further in the cave, "Hold!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The wyvern obeys, pausing in its tracks. Emma Ralde@crystyl:watches curiously. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| A visibly old Felmoran male with white hair and grey eyes steps into view beside the wyvern, "Don't worry. Wysie is docile. She won't harm you." He says with a gentle smile. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Mia's sensors register that the Felmoran is a part of the program, not a lifesign. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia discreetly informs Vrolmacht of this. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht nods and looks to the old man, "Who are you?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Old Man: "I am Zytomin.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "You are a hologram.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:mutters to V, "And hopefully a self aware one at that, or you have just shattered his world..." Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Does that make me any less real. One of your companions manifests as a hologram as well, does she not?" He looks over to Mia with a gentle smile before waving his hand, "But forgive me, - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- I am not accustomed to hosting guests here." As he waves his hand, a small tea table appears before them, complete with a teapot and set of four cups, as well as four seats around it.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The hologram Zytomin takes a seat, gesturing to invite them to join him. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"What about our friend? Is he not invited?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "I'm afraid not, but do not worry. He is not in any danger.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Mind if I ask why?" she asks with a casual tone while tentatively sitting Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia seems much more at ease and willing - or eager - to trust Zytomin now and it shows in her demeanour. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "The only reason I have given you an audience is because you are outsiders. And because of your curious little friend," he looks to Mia. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia smiles, "We do have a curious nature!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"And we all know what that did to the Sehlat…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Curiosity can be a good thing as well. After all," he motions around them, "we would not have all this technology if we were never curious about the nature of the world.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"True enough. But I suppose it is your curious nature that brought us here, rather than hers" she notes, thumbing to Mia. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Yes, indeed. I have never seen anyone like her before.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "We would be more than happy to tell you all about her, but for now, we come on urgent business.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Like you, you mean?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Yes, yes, I know. The evacuation business. I will tell you what I told the Royal Guard. I will not leave Czostak." He smiles and nods over to Mia, "In some regards, yes.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Won't leave, or can't...?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin smiles, "Both, I suppose. You are an intelligent one, are you not?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Wise beyond my years, some might say.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That, and, Mia here had the same problem initially; being confined to her origin program as I understand it. But then... you obviously didn't always exist here…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "I get the feeling you have quite a few interesting stories to tell as well.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin smiles again, "Do go on. I am curious to hear your deductions.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I don't really have any... just laying things down as I see them. And the way I see it, there's two options; either you are the 'original' Zytomin and have always existed as you are now; likely a + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ creation in that instance to serve the very purpose of being a living legend to inspire your people. Or the other - and in my opinion more likely - case, is that Zytomin came here some time ago to + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ eke out his final years in peace. But recognized the value of his role in society and so created you to continue his legend after he passed.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin nods, "Very astute. I am Zytomin, yet I am not." Emma Ralde@crystyl:perks a brow, "Are you saying... I'm right?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Not necessarily spot-on for all the details, but your second hypothesis is indeed mostly accurate. The original, flesh and blood Zytomin has been dead for almost three centuries now. I - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- possess his memories and much of his personality, though I am technically a different, new entity.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia's eyes widen with a chirp from Miadrone, "You are very much like us then…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin looks over to Mia curiously, "Really? That is most interesting. I see I was not mistaken in bringing you here.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Doubly so because we are certain we can find a way way to safely extract you!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Tell me of your own nature first.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "We will have plenty of time to share stories once we are on the way, but we are on a schedule-” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Oh, but we have quite the time now. Your ship has departed the system and left only a large shuttle to monitor the situation, undoubtedly for the case that you may require an emergency - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- extraction, but I mean you no harm, so they will not be needed. And until your ship returns, even if you can extract me...I have nowhere to go.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Wait, what? The ship is gone?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Yes. They left orbit shortly after you entered the compound and have accelerated to a speed of warp 9.96 in the direction of Cidria. To respond to an emergency, no doubt.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht: "How do you know this?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "He is patched into the technology of this entire compound. All of it's sensors are his eyes and ears, like the little one's are for us!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin smiles, "Another excellent observation. I do not exist simply in this holosimulation. My mind runs the compound. This is merely a manifestation, to present a face for you to speak with.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Just like Mia's avatar then" she hrms, looking to Vrolmacht, "Well if what he's saying is true, we probably do have time. But I'm worried about Fabula locked in that room all alone.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "I am afraid I cannot allow him to learn of my true nature. Perhaps he will be understanding, but bards are not known for having tight lips. The Lodzki people will consider me an - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- abomination. You, they will not mind, as you are outsiders and not one of them. But if they find out about me, they will never let my existence continue.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"So that's why you can't leave. I knew it!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "But surely you can still do something for Fabula. Sedate him even, at least so he is not alone and scared.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Yes. That is why I turned away the Royal Guard, but brought you in here. You travel with another synthetic lifeform. I predicted that you would be more understanding.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin nods to Mia, "Very well. I will render him unconscious for the moment. When the storm subsides, you may call down your shuttle to extract him, if you wish.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia smiles, "Thank you. At least he will be well and safe. If you agree of course, Mr. Vrolmacht!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Vrolmacht nods, "He knows the Lodzki better than us. If he believes they are not ready to learn of his existence, it may be for the best.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I don't know..." she looks to Zytomin, "I mean, no disrespect and all. But you're programmed with the memories of a man who passed 3 centuries ago by your own measure - which is likely even longer + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ by ours - and so the people who are out there today aren't necessarily the same as the ones you remember. And in the light of current circumstances, I think seeing you out there again could be a + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ welcome sight.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "The Lodzki's technology has evolved much in Zytomin's lifetime, but their culture has changed little. My calculations do not anticipate any change in their attitude in the last three - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- centuries.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well it's your call of course, just saying... I think these people deserve the chance to prove you wrong." Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "I believe it will be wise for me to remain hidden for the moment, unless you believe current events have indeed drastically changed Lodzki views?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I think it's too early to tell, but with everyone facing the very real idea of leaving behind almost everything of themselves, the chance to keep every little part of that is invaluable." Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Perhaps that may be the case. But it will be better to transfer me to your vessel, if you are able to transfer me at all.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia nods, "That was our thinking. At least to evacuate you in the short term.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "This threat we face, the Bies. Their greatest power is to influence the minds of others, is it not?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Pretty much. They are able to effectively control the minds of entire civilizations and absorb them into their own. They can be more subversive too, influencing individuals in power before they + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ arrive en masse to create disarray.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin nods, "I was hoping they would ignore me once the Lodzki had been evacuated from the planet. But it will be safer to leave, if that is possible. First though-" he gestures to Mia again, "I would like to learn more about you.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia smiles, "As we do you!” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin smiles, "I shall begin with myself then, to hopefully build some trust, and perhaps a better understanding for how I may be extracted," he looks over to Emma. "You were right in your - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- assumption that the original Zytomin created me so that he may continue to live on, though not for as selfless of a purpose as you surmised.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"He had unfinished business.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "In a manner of speaking. My creator has been described in many ways. Visionary. Ambitious. Wise. But none of that was ever enough for him. Because you see, there was one thing he sought - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- above all. To understand the universe. Its nature, and the way everything fit within it. To come up with one grand unifying theory and achieve ultimate enlightenment. That was why he achieved so - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- much. Why he studied the sciences and the arts and even war. His discoveries, his inventions, his writings, they were all a stepping stone to this final objective.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"A noble cause that countless great minds have given themselves to across the galaxy" she acknowledges respectfully. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"So you have been continuing this work I take it?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Yes. It turns out even a Lodzki lifetime was not enough for his ambitions. He sought to prolong his life in many ways, but in the end, he created me. A machine intelligence possessing - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- his thoughts and memories, but capable of processing them thousands of times more effectively than his own biological mind. That is why transferring me may be difficult. I am not simply an - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- imprint of Zytomin's consciousness. I am the greatest supercomputer ever constructed by the Lodzki.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"And so modest about it too" she smiles playfully. Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "We are confident that we can find a way! The crew previously found a means to house a Nuhar AI which had accumulated experience over 200,000 years!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "And more recently, we developed a means to process information exponentially faster than any of our computers in order to interpret communication signals from a Basilisk.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Very impressive achievements, but I would expect no less from a people who can create one such as yourself. So tell me, how did you come to be?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "We were not created intentionally as an artificial lifeform by Starfleet, at least not in the manner you believe.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "The first thing to understand is that we are actually a network of two AI's of different origin. One starting as the holographic likeness you interact with, much like yourself. The other; the+ Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ Arshai support drone" she gestures to Miadrone. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Interesting. I have heard of the Arshai, but I have not had a chance to examine their technology. My creator has some knowledge of the Nuhar, and employed it in my creation.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"We work very closely with them now and even have some Nuhar hybrids stationed on the ship. Now those are a long story…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Nuhar hybrids? That does sound like an unusual story. Are they also created with inspiration from Nuhar technology, or do they implement actual Nuhar components?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Short version; they are newly design Constructs from an alternate future timeline, created to serve as support fighters to the Valley Forge.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Alternate future timeline? Yes, the calculations account for such, but they have been brought into the present and now remain here?” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Like I said, long story" she chuckles. Emma Ralde@crystyl:"But I digress" she looks to Mia. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin nods and looks over to Mia as well, "How did you two link together? And how did you manage it? Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia smiles, "With the help of our friends! To begin with, our avatar was self aware - as you are - and confined to a holoprogram where it was first made to act as a teaching aid. As a self aware + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ imprint of a Starfleet explorer, our lifelong ambition was to leave the holodeck and explore the modern world for ourselves.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:leans in to interject, "Yeah, she's based on her programmers youth from a couple of centuries ago.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia nods, "Our drone shell had the freedom to explore, but despite possessing an intelligence it had no means of interpersonal relationship or interaction. It's life was one of being invisible to + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ the people around it and watching biologicals form friendships and 'enjoy' life. Both independent AI's met through mutual friends and immediately saw the mutual gain from networking. With a little + Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ further assistance from some technologically adept friends, we were able to upgrade the droneshell's tool replicator to create our imager. And further assistance from specialist holoprogrammers has+ Emma Ralde@crystyl:+ allowed us to evolve 'natural' senses to intensify the life experience for the little one. Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "You have had a most interesting existence. I can understand the desire to leave the confines of your program and explore. It would greatly benefit my primary objective. While my creator - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- has a great wealth of experience, even for an older Lodzki, there are some observations I cannot make from this compound alone, and some experiments I am unable to conduct.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:chuckles, "Sounds like a kindred spirit, Mia.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia smiles, "Indeed! We anticipate you finding a great deal of satisfaction from coming to the Valley Forge, even for a short time!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:ahems, "Assuming we are even able to find a way.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Yes. I am certain that your intentions are sincere. However, whether this will be possible in the allotted timeframe is another matter.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"What can you tell us about your presence here, how you are integrated into this facility exactly?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin smiles, "I can do better. Allow me to show you." Alien NPC@annpc#557:| The three disappear into transporter beams again, and reappear in a dark room with rows and rows of machinery filled with blinking lights around them. Alien NPC@annpc#557:FX | https://www.renderhub.com/renderhub/server-room/server-room-01.jpg Emma Ralde@crystyl:looks around, "Goddess…” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin's voice echos over a comm system in the room, "You are now standing in what you may call my brain. These servers contain the majority of my processes and data, with a few others scattered - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- throughout the compound as backups and redundancies. From here, you may access my programs directly.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia begins to scan around, "What is the physical nature of your processing map; duotronic, positronic?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Positronic. The construction of some of the hardware is Nuhar-inspired, but the technology is strictly Lodzki, though some were invented by my creator and never widely adopted.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I should be able to perform a comparative analysis of the circuitry.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia smiles, "Thank you Ms. Emma! We should take a look at this core programme so we can work out a system conversion.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "Thank you all for your assistance. The terminals my creator installed for his own access should still be operational. You may view my core programming through them.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:| Mia: "Then let us get to work!” Emma Ralde@crystyl:works away, "Out of interest, while we are working here is it possible for you to transmit a message to the shuttle that our ship left in orbit?” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "It is possible. While the composition of the canyon prevents signals from reaching me to ensure my own safety, I am connected to an underground facility just above the canyon, which is - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- what I use to tap into the Czostak surveillance network and communicate with others- in my creator's name, of course.” Emma Ralde@crystyl:smiles, "Of course. Well if you don't mind, we should probably contact that ship just to let them know that we're ok down here and working with you.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| Zytomin: "I will create an interface for you to access the comm functions.” Alien NPC@annpc#557:| A few seconds later, one of the consoles across the room from Emma lights up. Emma Ralde@crystyl:smiles, "Thanks!" heading over there to contact the runabout with a status update. --- Mana@anncaris FX | After some time at high warp, Captain Keelah is called to the bridge of the VF... Keelah@crystyl steps off the turbolift a short time later, "What is our status?” Mana@anncaris | Kelly: "We've got a Cidrian ship inbound on an intercept course, Captain.” Keelah@crystyl:"Any word from the Light of Arindol?” Mana@anncaris | Eva: "Not yet, but...we are getting a hail from the Cidrian ship.” Keelah@crystyl:"On screen.” Mana@anncaris | A Lodzki Captain in the red, black and gold Cidrian uniform appears on the viewscreen, "The area ahead of you is off-limits. All vessels are prohibited from entering a 3 light year radius of - Mana@anncaris:- the Cidria system." Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "This is a new prohibition. What is the reason for it, if I may ask?” Mana@anncaris | Cidrian Captain: "The Admiral says that the Bies are now close enough to exert influence over the system and vessels are to be turned away from the area.” Keelah@crystyl:"We are here specifically to investigate this Bies influence and have protection against it.” Mana@anncaris | Cidrian Captain: "Is that correct? One moment..." He turns offscreen for a few seconds before looking back, "I have confirmation. You are cleared to proceed.” Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. Is there anyone within the quarantine zone that we should report to, or look out for?” Mana@anncaris | Cidrian Captain: "Admiral Celestina's flagship, the Pride of Cidria, is stationed on another edge of the quarantine zone. My comm operator will send you the coordinates.” Mana@anncaris | Eva gives a nod of confirmation at having received the coordinates. Keelah@crystyl nods, "Much appreciated. Inform your Admiral that we are en route. Is any other information you can provide on the situation here?” Mana@anncaris | The Cidrian Captain shakes his head, "Just that a few ships went rogue from Bies influence before, but they're being treated.” Keelah@crystyl:"Well that is something at least. Thank you for the confirmation.” Mana@anncaris | Cidrian Captain: "May the Fates favour you in dealing with the Bies.” Keelah@crystyl:"May they favour us all. Valley Forge out." Mana@anncaris | The comm cuts and Fisher announces, "Cidrian ship is turning back to patrol the area.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "Very good. Adjust heading to rendezvous with the Admiral's ship.” Mana@anncaris | Fisher: "Adjusting course, Captain. ETA in one hour.” Keelah@crystyl:"Now what about the Light of Arindol..." she turns, "Anything on long range sensors?" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie shakes her head, "Nothin' in our sensor range.” Keelah@crystyl looks to Eva, "Can you raise them on sub-space?” Mana@anncaris | Eva: "They're out of range, but I can patch into the Cidrian comm relay. That's how they contacted us before.” Keelah@crystyl:"I believe it is worth a try at this point. I was expecting to have heard from them by now after all.” Mana@anncaris | Eva nods and taps away at her console. Almost a minute later, she announces, "We have them. The signal strength is low, but I can put it onscreen for you now, Captain.” Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Excellent, thank you.” Mana@anncaris | Captain Daian appears on the viewscreen, though the feed has the occasional visual and audio static: "Cap...Keelah. Apologies for not contac... you sooner. We're still...the edge of comms range.” Keelah@crystyl:"That is ok Captain, no apology is needed. I just wanted to update you that we have made contact with a Cidrian patrol and are diverting to meet with the Admiral exercising the quarantine of the + Keelah@crystyl:+ region. Do you want coordinates to meet us there?” Mana@anncaris | Captain Daian: "...have the Pride's location already. We're on...way back. The Horde vannguar...otted us and we aren't equipped...cloaking devices like the Rangers...ook the opportunity to lead - Mana@anncaris:- them further away...Cidrian space and buy the Felmorans some more time while throwing them off. We'll...eet up with you at the Cidrian task force an...ive you a full report there.” Keelah@crystyl:"Understood Captain, we'll see you at the rendezvous. Godspeed.” Mana@anncaris | Daian nods and the feed cuts off. --- Mana@anncaris | An hour later, the Valley Forge arrives at the coordinates, where a Cidrian battle group is gathered, headed by another dreadnought, the Pride of Cidria. Keelah@crystyl:"Hail the lead ship.” Mana@anncaris | Eva nods, "They're answering. Putting them onscreen now.” Mana@anncaris | A female Cidrian in another unseen variant of their uniform appears on the viewscreen, "You must be Captain Keelah of the Valley Forge.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "That is me. And you seem to have me at the disadvantage.” Mana@anncaris | The Cidrian nods back, "I'm sure you've heard of me already, you just don't have a face to put to the name. I am Admiral Celestina Diacon. You've met my husband, Emperor Mihal.” Keelah@crystyl dips her head, "Admiral, it is indeed a pleasure to finally have a face to the name. Tell me, how is Mihal doing in all of this? I have not spoken with him since we first cleansed his influence.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina: "He's doing well, but keeping busy. Thank you for bringing the influence to our attention. If it were not for you, both he and I would still be under their influence. After you - Mana@anncaris:- departed, he quickly ordered the Pride cleared of influence as well, including myself and my entire crew.” Keelah@crystyl:"That is welcoming news, Admiral. But now what of the situation here? The LIght of Arindol is on it's way to join us but I want to get up to speed as soon as possible.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina: "Not long ago, three of the ships we stationed at Cidria after the evacuation went rogue and attempted to reignite the conflict with Czostak. We managed to stop them in time and the - Mana@anncaris:- ships have been taken to Kodek to be cleansed of influence. Mihal sent my ships here to ensure no one ventures to Cidria and falls under influence again. The Light of Arindol went off to scout - Mana@anncaris:- out the source of the Bies influence, but that's all we know at the moment.” Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Cap'n, I'se got th'Arindol on long range sensors now.” Keelah@crystyl nods an acknowledgement to her side, "Admiral, the Light of Arindol has just entered sensor range. We spoke to them about an hour ago and they were attempting to lead a Bies force away.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina: "Your sensors are better than ours, but if you can see them, they are likely in good range of our comm system. Cidria may be evacuated, but the comm network is still intact. I can - Mana@anncaris:- attempt to patch them into this call, if you like.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "At your discretion Admiral.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina nods and speaks to someone offscreen. A moment later, Captain Daian appears on half the screen, the feed clear this time. Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Captain. Admiral.” Keelah@crystyl:"Good to see you back so soon Captain.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "It'll still be a short while before I reach your position, but at least the comm channel is more stable at this range. I have news, it's not entirely good, but it's not as bad as it - Mana@anncaris:- could be.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "The good part is that we are indeed dealing with an advance force and not the arrival of the main Horde fleet. The main fleet won't be far behind as I've said before, but at least we - Mana@anncaris:- some more time. The problem is this vanguard comprises twelve ships. It won't be a problem for the Cidrian fleet, but we can't use the Cidrian fleet.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina: "Mihal warned us not to near Cidria ourselves. We might be freed of influence, but we don't have that implant you gave him, which means our ships can fall under influence again.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "The only ships we can use against this vanguard is the Light of Arindol, the Valley Forge and the QanwI. We're outnumbered four to one.” Keelah@crystyl:"Numbers are not everything. What information do you have on their current deployment?” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Two heavy cruisers, four light cruisers and six smaller attack ships. But the Horde are adapting to our tactics. We tried to disrupt their connection when we were throwing them off. As - Mana@anncaris:- far as I can tell it worked, but their ships no longer just stop and drift when the connection is disrupted. They must've activated their ship computers for autopilot and auto-targeting. The - Mana@anncaris:- disruption could stop them from reacting, but whatever the ships were doing before they were disrupted, they keep doing after, whether it's pursuit or firing weapons.” Keelah@crystyl:"The method served us well enough. Were this any normal foe they would have adapted long before we were able to use it to destroy their fleet at Terminu. What of their positioning and current movement?” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "We made them chase us away from Felmoran territory and managed to throw them off before we made our way back, but before we were spotted, it looks like they were on a course to Czostak - Mana@anncaris:- passing close to Cidria and Vasomir.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina: "Vasomir is almost fully evacuated, but I don't think the Czostak Kingdoms can get everyone out in time before this group reaches them, if they're already so close to Cidria.” Keelah@crystyl:"That limits our options, but we must take the opportunity to choose our own battlefield.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina: "Cidria still has defenses. No ships, but you could transport a skeletal crew over to the orbital station. The station and the defense satellites you can take control of from there - Mana@anncaris:- might be enough to even the odds. Just...don't blow up the whole system.” Keelah@crystyl | Lennie smirks at that. Keelah@crystyl deadpans it, "Good advice, Admiral. Captain Daian, do you think this vanguard will pass close enough to the system for them to be lured here?” Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "If they continue their original course, I think so. We should be able to lure them in the rest of the way.” Keelah@crystyl:"Then this is where we will make our stand. Eva, inform Captain Vix that her presence is required asap.” Mana@anncaris | Eva nods and taps her console, "Yes Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Admiral I recommend taking any measures available to expedite the evacuation. It is no pleasant thought, but you should prepare your people for the possibility that they may have to pull back before+ Keelah@crystyl:+ it is complete." Mana@anncaris | Celestina nods, "I understand. We'll try to get everyone out as quickly as we can, but be ready to pull back at any point.” Keelah@crystyl:"We will do all we can to reinforce the automated defenses in the meantime.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "You will want to increase the restricted zone and fall back yourself as well. When their vanguard reaches Cidria. its influence will be able to affect you here.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina: "We'll increase the zone by a light year and remain near the edge of the new zone.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Under no circumstances do your ships come to our assistance. They will only be given over to the enemy. If we can't hold the vanguard at Cidria, retreat and warn Emperor Mihal to take - Mana@anncaris:- everyone who has already been evacuated to safety.” Mana@anncaris | Celestina nods, "I understand, Captain.” Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Captain Keelah, we'll meet you at Cidria, then. It's more of a midway point, and we need to prepare the defense there anyways.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "We'll see you there, Captain.” Mana@anncaris | Daian nods and disappears from the screen, while Admiral Celestina looks to Keelah, "I hope the Fates favour you in the coming battle, but if they do not, I'll make preparations for the worst.” Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Admiral, we will buy you all the time we can. Make every moment count." --- Keliaya@anncaris FX | With the Valley Forge, Light of Arindol and QanwI' gathered at Cidria, a meeting is called to plan for the incoming Horde vanguard... Keliaya@anncaris:"I've taken a look at what we have to work with while we were waiting for everyone to arrive. Cidria is equipped with planetary defense satellites, but they aren't as numerous or as strong as what - Keliaya@anncaris:- we had to work with at Terminu, but we do have an orbital control facility with the firepower of a medium-sized Starfleet station.” Keliaya@anncaris:"Combined with the defense satellites and our three ships, we should be able to destroy the Horde vanguard. There is one problem though...this isn't quite like Terminu, not just in setup, but in - Keliaya@anncaris:- circumstances. At the first battle of Terminu, the Lupan's objective was to capture people from the planet, so they were throwing themselves at the orbital defenses. The Horde aren't going to be - Keliaya@anncaris:- interested in the planet with no one left on it, and the satellites and station can't pursue them if they choose to withdraw.” Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "But they pursued the Light of Arindol before, so hopefully the combined ship complements will serve as sufficient bait.” Keliaya@anncaris | Daian nods, "They should chase us, but we need to ensure we have already taken out enough ships to pursue and destroy the rest by the time they realize the orbital defenses are being manned - Keliaya@anncaris:- and can overpower them. If they withdraw too quickly, it could be difficult for our three ships to finish them off, and they won't fall for the same trap twice.” Rianni@crystyl nods in agreement, "The two dreadnoughts should be the priority targets. With those out of the way, the support craft will have little option but to fight for survival as they can not proceed alone.” Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Good call as always, Ensign. The orbital station can concentrate fire on them. They'll be slow, so they can't move out of the station's range as easily, and it has the most firepower - Keliaya@anncaris:- out of everything.” Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "That brings up another question- who's taking control of the station? Light of Arindol and QanwI' are all smaller ships and we have less crew to spare. It might be a good idea for some - Keliaya@anncaris:- of your crew to head over, Keelah.” Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods, "We will man the station. What about our deployment strategy?" she looks to Rianni. Rianni@crystyl:"Well, as Captain Daian has noted now; the Horde are learning and changing strategies against us. To that end, I recommend maintaining guerilla tactics as we - particularly the Valley Forge - will be+ Rianni@crystyl:+ an increasingly known threat to them and they may flee altogether at this point if they see us waiting.” Keliaya@anncaris | Daian nods, "That's a good idea, but you don't have a cloak. How do you intend on staying unseen?” Rianni@crystyl taps to call up a holo of the planet and indicative ship movement. Rianni@crystyl:"The Light of Arindol will lead the Horde fleet into the orbital station range. I would consider displaying engine problems and feigning an attempt to land too. The Valley Forge can hold position + Rianni@crystyl:+ here" she swipes her hand, moving the holoimage to a polar orbit, "in a geosynchronous orbit above the northern pole of the planet. There, the natural magnetic field will obscure us from sensors.” Keliaya@anncaris:"That will work. The QanwI' will remain cloaked to strike once the Horde are in position as well, I assume?” Rianni@crystyl nods, "More than that, I suggest utilizing the same deployment as QanwI' performed against the anarchists, but with the drone squadron as well. The drones are small enough to clamp onto the orbital + Rianni@crystyl:+ platforms where they will appear simply as a part of the platform, while QanwI' can cloak with Eon at the system's edge here" she swipes and points again, showing the QanwI' appear behind the Horde+ Rianni@crystyl:+ fleet after it has been lured in, "Once the orbital station has their initial attention, QanwI' can do what she does best to scatter and confuse the enemy forces before the drones then deploy from + Rianni@crystyl:+ orbital platforms to surround the Horde fleet. Once the encirclement is complete, the Valley Forge draws in to engage directly with the dreadnoughts.” Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "A brilliant tactic as always, Rianni.” Rianni@crystyl smiles sheepishly, "Thank you Commander. But I should highlight that tactics such as this come at a cost.” Keliaya@anncaris:"Oh?” Rianni@crystyl:"Yes, it should be proficient in confusing a superior enemy force. But with such an encirclement, we will have multiple friendlies firing on a central location in close proximity. There will be a + Rianni@crystyl:+ significant risk of friendly fire, especially with faster small vessels darting around the frey.” Keliaya@anncaris:"That's a good point. I'll talk to Jenni about it, maybe she can run some simulations to help the drones with predicting and evading friendly firing patterns.” Rianni@crystyl:"Honestly, if anyone in this fight is capable of reacting well enough to avoid it, I believe it will be the drones. The concern is the risk to them and QanwI' from all the close range fire.” Rianni@crystyl smiles, "That's not to say it isn't worth them running simulations still.” Keliaya@anncaris nods and smiles back, "Better to play it safe," she looks across to Lexi, "And I expect QanwI's up for handling the chaos.” Rianni@crystyl | Lexi grins, "Ha! QanwI' thrives on chaos! We'll stir things up nicely for the Horde.” Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "I thought you'd say that.” Keliaya@anncaris looks to Keelah, "I can take the orbital station with the same team I had on the Black Wyvern. Minus Emma and with a few more tactical officers, but the rest of the team should already be - Keliaya@anncaris:- familiar with the local tech.” Rianni@crystyl | Keelah nods, "In Vrolmacht's absence, Rianni can assist you with personnel assignments at your discretion" she looks to the other CO's, "I can see the logic behind this proposed strategy and am + Rianni@crystyl:+ happy to proceed. Does anyone have anything to add or any suggestions for refinement?” Keliaya@anncaris | Daian shakes her head, "It sounds good to me as well.” Keliaya@anncaris looks over at Rianni, "I assume you'll be staying here on the Valley Forge as the architect of this plan, Ensign?” Rianni@crystyl nods, "I believe my place is at the tactical station.” Rianni@crystyl | Keelah pulls a face and hrms, causing a look of uncertainty from Rianni. Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "Ensign, as you rightly pointed out; this strategy relies heavily on a tightly coordinated fleet. You know the plan and the assets better than anyone.” Rianni@crystyl:"Yes Captain...?" Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "We have multiple bridge tactical officers perfectly capable of manning of tactical systems during this battle. I believe this deployment warrants the use of our battle bridge - don't + Rianni@crystyl:+ forget that it was originally designed to be a fleet command hub. I want you there and focused on fleet coordination, so select your command team accordingly.” Rianni@crystyl nods, "Y-yes Captain.” Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "You'll do well, Ensign. As the Captain said, it is your plan, and your tactical expertise has seen us through quite a few battles so far.” Rianni@crystyl:"I appreciate the vote of confidence, Commander. I just... never thought about serving that variation of the role before.” Rianni@crystyl | Keelah: "You won't be alone in it Ensign, don't worry. I just believe this is the best way to address your concerns on the tight deployment, as we all know the main bridge can become very chaotic + Rianni@crystyl:+during combat and that only increases the risk of distraction interfering with the coordination. You may not even know this Ensign as it was before your time, but before the Odyssey class of + Rianni@crystyl:+ starship came along, the Sentinel was Starfleet's answer to this very issue; that of large scale fleet coordination. The area which became our battle bridge following the separation refit was + Rianni@crystyl:+ originally that tactical command hub" she smiles, "We are simply utilizing it for its intended purpose for once.” Rianni@crystyl smiles a little, "Right! Like the lower bridge on the Odyssey. I remember learning about that command function when we went out on the Gainsborough, although they used it differently too…” Keliaya@anncaris nods and chuckles, "We never expected to be coordinating a fleet out here, but now that we are, you're definitely the best candidate for it." Rianni@crystyl | Keelah smiles at the visibly reassured Ensign, "Alright, if there's nothing else we should all get to it.” --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | After some time studying the Zytomin AI's setup, Mia manages to determine two ways to transfer the AI offworld- either to physically move enough servers to house its core programs and - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- data, or transfer said programs into a Lodzki ship computer core, which is similar enough to easily host the AI, but would require the core to be wiped and totally overwritten by the AI. Mia@crystyl calls Vrolmacht over to explain the viable options to him. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht steps over, listening to Mia's explanation, "With the transporter blocking properties of the canyon, we will have to move the servers out of the canyon first, or at least to an area - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- wide enough for a shuttle to land before delivering the servers to the ship, whenever it returns. We may not have enough time for such a long process. Mia@crystyl nods, "We concur that this would be a much more unwieldy option. However without knowing the possibility of seconding a vessel, we felt it worth raising as well.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "The Lodzki will need every ship they can get, and they will likely not wish to host the AI on their ship.” Mia@crystyl nods, "It is problematic. Even if they did donate a ship, what would become of him afterwards? Would he be resigned to life as a sentient starship? Would he be able to retain his bipedal avatar? + Mia@crystyl + These are elements which must be factored in as well.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I was hoping that they would donate a spare computer core, without an entire ship. We will be able to host him temporarily on the Valley Forge, as we did with the Wanderer AI. Will - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- it be possible to transfer the program to another setup afterwards?" Mia@crystyl nods, "The transfer process has no degradation factor so yes!” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "As long as we can remove him from this compound then, it should be possible for him to choose his own future wherever we take him.” Mia@crystyl:"And assuming the Lodzki have a spare computer core!” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "It is worth asking, though perhaps we should not inform them of the exact purpose we seek to use it for.” Mia@crystyl:"Agreed. We can say it is to transfer his database as it is deemed too important to them as a collective people to risk leaving behind!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht smirks, "A clever idea.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Zytomin's voice sounds over the comms, "You may use the comm system to communicate with the Lodzki.” Mia@crystyl smiles proudly, "We are sufficiently motivated to assist here, Commander!” Mia@crystyl | Emma moves to the comms console from before, "I'll make contact with the Lodzki and see what can be done.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Emma manages to make contact, and a Lodzki in a lab coat appears on the screen, "Hello? You are not Zytomin.” Mia@crystyl | Emma smiles, "You noticed, eh. No, we are the Starfleet extraction team here with Zytomin. We require assistance and need to consult with someone regarding starship assets. Can you direct us?” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Lodzki Scientist: "Starship...assets? What exactly do you need, if I may ask?” Mia@crystyl | Emma: "As you might imagine, Zytomin has a substantial data archive here accumulated over the course of his expansive career. We do not believe it should be left behind and exposed to the Bies but+ Mia@crystyl:+ in order to transfer the volume of data we require a starship computer core.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The Lodzki Scientist nods, "I will patch you through to the shipyards, then.” Mia@crystyl | Emma smiles, "Thank you.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The screen cuts to a loading screen with Lodzki text saying 'CONNECTING...' appearing and disappearing letter by letter across the screen. Mia@crystyl | Emma hums a merry tune and taps the console casing in rhythm while she waits. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | A good two minutes later, a Lodzki finally appears on the screen, "Sorry to keep you waiting, Dr. Bakulsi, we've been quite busy here at the- is this the right channel? It said this call was - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- coming from Zytomin's compound.” Mia@crystyl | Emma smiles and nods, "Yes, we are here with Zytomin. I am Ensign Ralde, here with the Starfleet extraction team working to get Zytomin evacuated.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Shipyard Operator: "Do you need a shuttle to come and pick him up?” Mia@crystyl | Emma shakes her head, "No, we were actually hoping you may be able to help us source a spare starship computer core.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Shipyard Operator: "A spare computer core? We've installed all the ones we have on near-completed projects to help with the evacuation, and the factories have already stopped production. I - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- might know of a way you could get one, though.” Mia@crystyl | Emma smiles sweetly, leaning in a little with interest, "I am so pleased to hear that. Do tell..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Shipyard Operator: "The junkyard around Skalatak. There's a few ships that were damaged during the war and sent there, but we haven't had time to take most of the valuable components out. I - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- expect you'll find at least one computer core in good condition there.” Mia@crystyl | Emma's smile brightens, "That would be perfect, thank you! Could I trouble you to transfer me there, please?” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Shipyard Operator: "Of course. One moment.” Mia@crystyl smiles with fascination as she watches the famed natural Orion charm at work. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The 'CONNECTING...' text appears again, this time for a much shorter duration as a more roughly dressed Lodzki appears on the screen, "Am I seeing this right? A call from the illustrious - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Zytomin Bakulsi? No, that can't be right…” Mia@crystyl | Emma smiles, "It can be, and is. We are here at Zytomin's compound working on his evacuation" she leans in, focusing her gaze on him, "And I was hoping you could assist us.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Junkyard Operator: "Me? This is a junkyard. Are you sure you have the right channel?” Mia@crystyl | Emma nods, "Oh yes! You see, we are in urgent need of a starship computer core in order to save Zytomin's lifes work. I... was hoping you might have something there...?” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The Lodzki leans forward and types on something, "We...yes, I think we have an operational one. Normally our clients extract what they want themselves, but seeing what you're doing, we can - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- remove and deliver it for you...where would you like it delivered?” Mia@crystyl | Emma's face brightens, "Oh, thank you, thank you! One moment" She looks to Mia, “Can you provide coordinates?" Mia@crystyl taps and nods, "Transmitting now for you, Ensign.” Mia@crystyl | Emma looks back to the screen, "We are sending them to you now. Thank you again!” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The Lodzki smiles, "Glad to be of assistance, miss. We'll have it delivered to you in a few hours.” Mia@crystyl | Emma: "Bless you, friend. If I do not get the chance to say so again; please do remember the significance of this assistance, I know I will! Goddess watch over you.” Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Junkyard Operator: "And may the Fates favour you.” Mia@crystyl | Emma holds a grateful sweet smile as she dips her head before the comms close. Mia@crystyl beams, "Great work, Ms. Emma! This should give us time to survey the core's condition before attempting any transfer as well!” Mia@crystyl | Emma: "To adlib the locals; the fates seem to have favoured us." --- Evanne Dra@annpc#557 FX | As the VF and allies prepare for the upcoming battle, Rianni visits the secondary bridge she will be taking over as the tactical command hub... Rianni@crystyl steps off the turbolift, looking around like she's seeing the place for the first time, even though she's more than familiar with it. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 is already inside working on a console, along with a few other junior officers and enlisted personnel. She turns over to Rianni as she enters with a smile, "Hello Ensign. Welcome to your new... - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- what did the Captain call it? Command centre?” Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "I don't see it is more than a temporary accomodation, but thank you Lieutenant!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "Temporary or permanent, we still have to set it up properly. It might've been intended as a command centre originally, but there's still a little work to transition it into one again.” Rianni@crystyl nods, looking around, "On that note, she should be here by now…” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Captain Keelah, you mean?” Rianni@crystyl shakes her head, "Close, but no. I asked T'Pia to dig up the specs on the original room. I thought it might be handy to see exactly what was where in order to help us get things prepared quickly." Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Oh! Yes, that will certainly be helpful. How're you taking to the temporary assignment, by the way?” Rianni@crystyl:"It's not really outside the remit of tactical anyway. In fact, fleet deployment strategy was my focus during the academy Advanced Tactical course.” Rianni@crystyl:"That said, it is still... a little unnerving to be looking at a dedicated setup like this. Though that might just be because I don't expect it on this ship.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "We didn't expect any of this Horde conflict either. I think we've managed well so far though," she smiles. "I'm sure you'll do well, especially as it's your specialty.” Rianni@crystyl:"I will do my best, of course! But I'm glad you're here too Lieutenant. I might have graduated now, but that's a long way from leading a team.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I'm afraid I don't have experience running comms for a command centre either, but it shouldn't be particularly different. Just busier, I'd imagine," she chuckles. Rianni@crystyl:"Yeah, but that's just it. I'm ok with the technical aspect of what we need to do here. Not so much with being alone to do it. I... still prefer to have an experienced officer in the room, regardless+ Rianni@crystyl:+ of the role" she smiles. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles back, "I'm sure Kelly would've volunteered if she didn't have a station to take command of. She has much more experience than me, and a better tactical mind than she admits to.” Rianni@crystyl nods, "That she does. But in battle, her place is in engineer-" looks around as the turbolift opens and TP rushes out. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 looks over as well when Rianni does. TP rushes over to the two, holding out a PADD with a wide smile, "Found it! Took a little more digging than I thought, but here it is!” Rianni@crystyl smiles, accepting the PADD, "I bet you just got caught up looking over the designs!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP smirks, "Maaaybe a little...it is interesting to see all the changes, though! The consoles have definitely been moved around to make it more of a bridge, but we probably don't want to - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - change the consoles anyways for a temporary arrangement. We should be able to restore all the functionality of the original, though! But we probably want to adjust some stuff around to suit - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- the new console positioning better.” Rianni@crystyl nods, "Ideally, we only want to reconfigure as needed without cutting down the bridge functionality. After all, emergency separation is still a standing contingency plan for the ship.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"We could put the new configurations on isolinear chips that override the old one. If we need to separate, we can take out the chip, and the helm console will be a helm again, and so on.” Rianni@crystyl:"That works! We will also need to enhance comms systems in here I think. Lucklily it's a pretty small grouping still, but we want seperate direct comm lines held open to each lead ship" looking to + Rianni@crystyl:+ Eva, "And ideally, each should be independentlly monitored by support staff to maintain clear instructions. In addition to this we will have to have an overriding group channel which we can open + Rianni@crystyl:+ from the main console.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I can set that up and some of the other comm and ops personnel to staff the independent channels.” Rianni@crystyl looks back to TP: "What about information displays and sensor links? How do they compare now?” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP: "We may have to do a little bit of work on the information displays, but it doesn't look like the sensor links have been touched! At least, not as far as I can tell. Maybe whoever did the - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- refit design foresaw that we might want to restore some of the functions the area had before.” Rianni@crystyl:"True! The secondary bridge is often dubbed a battle bridge too on combat orientated separating ships, so it could have been deemed a benefit too.” Rianni@crystyl looks at the viewscreen, "Is the viewscreen here able to accomodate a live tracking overlay?” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP: "I can definitely see the use in it! The information displays will need reconfiguring due to the console positioning being changed, and I'm not sure about the viewscreen…” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Let's try and see.” Rianni@crystyl smiles and nods, "I have the simulations from the briefing stored in the main computer. Let me pull them up.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 and TP follows over. Rianni@crystyl heads around the tactical station and calls up the data that was the nifty little 3d holo from the briefing. Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"And we want to overlay this on the viewscreen on top of the actual positioning of everything?” Rianni@crystyl hrms, "Well the standard viewscreen typically just shows whichever live feed is allocated to it. I know the standard overlays can project sensor mapping, but that has a significant delay lag in + Rianni@crystyl:+ update time as well being an interpolated two-dimensional display.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"And we want to create what's essentially a three-dimensional display like this, but in a fully live feed?” Rianni@crystyl:"I mean, in an ideal world I'd love to have a full 360 degree view around the ship with live tracking overlay of all movements and projections. But... I don't think we're quite in a position for that+ Rianni@crystyl:+ just yet" she chuckles, "At the very least, the tactical overlay needs to be updating in realtime. If we could make it a more accurate holo projection all the better, but the timing is key." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP: "If only Mia were here, I'm sure she'd be able to build a working and accurate holo!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Oh yes, we've received word from the runabout, if you haven't already heard, Ensign.” Rianni@crystyl:"Ooh no, how are they doing?” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "Don't worry, it's good news. Emma and the others are all well. There were a few surprises on their mission, but nothing dangerous, and they've got plenty to keep them occupied in our - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- absence as well.” Rianni@crystyl smiles fondly, "That's good to hear" snapping her attention back to TP, "And don't worry about it, Pia! Let's just get this as close as we can for now.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP nods, "We'll at least get the real time overlay working for you, Rianni!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"That should definitely be doable. Just needs some tweaking and optimization. If we have time, we'll see if we can get a holo up.” Rianni@crystyl:"That will be great!" hrms, looking around, "Oh! We should make sure to add the main bridge to our dedicated comms links too.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles, "Yes! Thank you for the reminder, Ensign. We need to be able to coordinate with the Valley Forge effectively as well. Do we want a separate one for Eon and the drone fighter squadron?” Rianni@crystyl:"Yes-" she counts on her fingers, "-Valley Forge, QanwI', Arindol, Orbital Station, Eon. 5 separate channels Rianni@crystyl looks around the room, focusing behind them, "We should be able to line them up along the back here, and convert tactical to the main comms override. That should give you sufficient coordination and+ Rianni@crystyl:+ communication with the support team.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Good thinking. I'll have it set up and ready for you as soon as I can. Anything else?” Rianni@crystyl:"Comms won't be the only support team in here. I'll also have a mirrored team from tactical support monitoring the status of each ship by the same groupings. They will provide a constant update on + Rianni@crystyl:+ tactical system status as well as any rising emergencies we need to account for. Pia, we might need to rig up some temporary consoles to ensure enough capacity. We'll also need to patch in + Rianni@crystyl:+ those connected sensors without denying the main bridge normal functionality, with an array dedicated to each of the vessels we are monitoring.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP nods, "I'll ask Thorkildsen for some extra consoles!” Rianni@crystyl:"I think that should be everything we need in here…” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 looks to TP, "And some more technicians to get them set up, Pia.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP: "Right. We'll have it all ready for you before the battle, Rianni!” Rianni@crystyl:"Unless you guys can think of anything else that might help, or that we must consider...? My heart keeps telling me to account for shipboard security too, but my head reminds me that others are in + Rianni@crystyl:+ place to see to that side of things, and that I'm not on the bridge tactical station this time…” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I'm sure Silvestrie has security handled. I think we've thought of everything relevant to our tasks down here.” Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Thank you - both of you - for the help!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles back, "Let us know if you need anything else. And don't stress yourself out too much, Ensign. You need to save your energy for the battle itself. And sometimes new ideas come to you if - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- you take the time to relax a little.” Rianni@crystyl smiles faintly, "Yeah, Emma is always telling me the same thing. But it's hard enough not to worry about her when she's away. At least, I guess, this is giving me something to focus myself on!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"That's good to hear. And from the comms we got, it sounds like they're going fine and there's no need to worry, so hopefully that helps as well.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | TP: "Oh, and congratulations on the temporary posting Rianni!” Rianni@crystyl 's smile warms, "It does. And thank you Pia!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"Alright, let's get everything set up, Pia. There's still lots of work to do." --- Evanne Dra@annpc#557 FX | Some time later, the tactical command hub is set up and the ships wait to execute Rianni's plan... Rianni@crystyl is squeezed under a console with some of the techs as they work on every improvement they can while they wait. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 steps over from her console to Rianni, looking down at her, "Everything going alright, Ensign?” Rianni@crystyl jumps at the distraction and bags her head on the underside, pulling back rubbing the saw spot, "Sorry Lieutenant, but yes! We're just trying to squeeze some more resolution out of the sensor + Rianni@crystyl + pallettes.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 takes a step back as Rianni bangs her head, "Oh, sorry! I didn't mean to surprise you…” Rianni@crystyl smiles as she stops rubbing, "Don't worry! It's probably just me being jumpy.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"A little nervous?” Rianni@crystyl:"Well yeah. Not only are we facing a tough battle, but we're doing a baptism of fire for this entire command hub!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles reassuringly, "That's perfectly normal. I think all of us are nervous here. You never quite get used to preparing for a battle, even without a new command hub.” Rianni@crystyl:"It's a lot of responsibility…” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I don't know how the Captain ever does it…” Rianni@crystyl:"She's a natural leader, and she leads /for/ her people. You can see it in her eye sometimes, when things weigh heavily on her and you know her mind and heart on her crew. That drives her every + Rianni@crystyl:+ action on and off the bridge. It is why she is so capable, and why so many choose to follow her - why I chose to follow her.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"I think some element of natural talent and personality does factor in, but I think you have that too. I can tell things are weighing heavily on you too, and you probably consider things more than - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- the average person of your age. The Captain wouldn't have given you this assignment if she didn't think you were ready for it, after all," she gives another reassuring smile. Rianni@crystyl smiles in kind, "She keeps putting so much faith in me, I don't want to let her down. But it feels like the more she does so, the bigger the stakes; and eventually I'll push too far with something + Rianni@crystyl:+ and let her down. But with the rising stakes, the consequences just grow increasingly daunting..." she sighs, "I'm rambling again…” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 pats Rianni on the shoulder gently, "Feel free to speak your mind, Ensign. Talking about it often helps. I see what you mean, but I think her faith in you is well-deserved, from how many - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- tactical engagements your plans have led our ship and our crew through. And you're not just good at strategy on paper either; you've proven yourself on multiple away missions. I'm confident - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- you'll manage this command hub well.” Rianni@crystyl smiles more comfortably, "Thank you Lieutenant. I'll do my best!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 smiles back, "I'm sure you'll do well. Anyways, I wanted to inform you that the Horde vanguard have popped up on long range sensors. The Light of Arindol will be moving to lure them in thirty... - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- about twenty minutes now.” Rianni@crystyl 's eyes widen, "So it is time. Has the Captain given the order to deploy yet?" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "Everyone should be ready now.” Rianni@crystyl nods, "We should get to it then!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 looks to the console, "Need to finish up anything here first?” Rianni@crystyl glances down and shakes her head, "Nothing more we'll get done here" she looks to the tech waiting patiently in the corner, "Let's seal it up, and get your crews packed up and clear. It's about to + Rianni@crystyl + busy in here, and you know what stampedeing officers are like, so get your gear safe while you can!" she jests. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 chuckles, "Good point. Everyone, let's wrap up the setup. The command hub is about to go online.” Rianni@crystyl makes her way down to the central console to begin the mission check. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 heads over to the comm consoles to make sure they are all on and properly set up. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 FX | A little over fifteen minutes later, the techs have all vacated the command hub and the officers assigned to it have moved in, manning the different consoles across the room. The viewscreen - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - is online, with the improved overlay active on it. The officer on the comm with Light of Arindol turns around, "Ensign, Light of Arindol is reporting ready to depart and lure in the Horde. Rianni@crystyl nods, looking to Eva, "Do we have all our comm links in place?” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "We do. I have one person on each as instructed and I've got the main comms override.” Rianni@crystyl:"Then let's get this show on the road. Please obtain confirmation from the Captain to assume fleet coordination.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 taps her console before reporting, "Confirmation received.” Rianni@crystyl taps her own console, reviewing the deployment, "Alright..." taking a deep breath, "Arindol to lure position Alpha. Eon squadron are a go to launch. QanwI' to position Baker.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol confirms and is moving out.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 2: "QanwI' acknowledges and is moving to position.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 3: "Eon squadron acknowledges and are beginning launch.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The viewscreen overlay updates with the changes in the field, showing everyone moving into position. Rianni@crystyl:"As soon as the hangars are clear, Valley Forge can proceed to position kappa.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 4: "Valley Forge acknowledges as well.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The tactical overlay shows the individual members of the squadron as they depart the ship. Once they are all away, the VF begins to move. Rianni@crystyl:"What is the status of the orbital station?" Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 5: "Orbital station reports that it has restored full power. Shields and weapons systems should be fully operational. Targeting will largely be automatic, with only a number of tactical - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- officers on hand to give general directives. Same with the defense satellites controlled from the station.” Rianni@crystyl stares up at the forming picture on the screen, "Then we are as ready as we can be..." muttered to herself. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Before long, the screen shows all ships taking position. The twelve Horde vessels change their course to move towards the Light of Arindol, as expected. Rianni@crystyl continues to watch with quiet anticipation. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Light of Arindol turns and begins moving back towards Cidria once the Horde ships arrive close enough, and the Horde continues after the Guardian ship... Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol reports that they have the Horde's attention and are inbound towards the ambush point.” Rianni@crystyl:"ETA?” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Five minutes.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"All allied ships are in position and reporting ready.” Rianni@crystyl:"As are we.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | On the tactical screen, the Light of Arindol and the 12 Horde vessels slowly approach, getting closer and closer... Rianni@crystyl fights the urge to follow all her usual tactical prep and leave that to those on the bridge. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Five long minutes pass before the ships begin to approach the ambush point. Rianni@crystyl:"This is it. All stations at the ready.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | A few seconds later, the viewscreen registers the battle beginning... Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 5: "Orbital station has engaged the Horde.” Rianni@crystyl stares up at the screen, "Arindol to position Gamma; feint for the planet through the support platforms.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Light of Arindol makes its feint towards the planet, with three of the light Horde escorts breaking off to give chase after it. The orbital platforms open fire as the Horde pass by, - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- peeling away at their shields while the station concentrates fire on one of the large heavy cruisers. The two heavy cruisers and two of the light cruisers return fire on the station, while the - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- other two form up behind the heavy cruisers. The remaining Horde escorts dart off, gunning for orbital platforms.” Rianni@crystyl:"QanwI' and Eon to position Echo; stand by to decloak and engage. Drone squadron to peel off and swarm as soon as the platforms are engaged.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | On the screen, QanwI' and Eon move into position. The three other Horde escorts quickly engage the platforms and the drones promptly peel off, coordinating flawlessly as they target the escort - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- targeted by the platforms and quickly stripping away its shields. The remaining three continue their pursuit of the Light of Arindol. Rianni@crystyl:"Time we let Captain Vix off the leash. QanwI' and Eon into discretionary support.” Rianni@crystyl watches to ensure all Horde forces are fully committed before identifying primary target for VF. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | QanwI' joins in the fighting and the weakened Horde escort quickly flashes and disappears from the display as it is taken out. The platforms switch targets, prompting one of the light cruisers - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- to rush in and provide support. One of the escorts chasing Light of Arindol also breaks off to exit atmosphere and help the fighting by the orbital platforms while two continues chasing the - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- Guardian ship, firing whenever there is an opportunity. Light of Arindol goes evasive in Cidria's atmosphere, taking a few light hits. Meanwhile, the heavy slugging match between the station, the - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- heavy cruisers, and two light cruisers continues, with one light cruiser firing occasional shots but mostly staying behind the heavy cruisers. Rianni@crystyl:"I believe that's our cue" she highlights one of the heavy cruisers, "Update targeting to the bridge and move to engage. It's about to start getting shaky in here.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 4: "Targeting updated. Bridge acknowledges.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The VF leaves its position, heading to the heavy cruisers. One of the escorts move to engage QanwI' while the one targeted by the platforms and drones goes evasive, trying to keep the fire off - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- the others while the Horde light cruiser and other escort hurries to their assistance. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol is asking whether it should turn and engage pursuers.” Rianni@crystyl nods, "They've rabbitted for long enough, time to fight back.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | On the screen, the Light of Arindol quickly flips over and behind one of the Horde escorts, opening fire. Meanwhile, the VF enters the frey as well, engaging the second heavy cruiser. It - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- quickly switches targets and begins firing back with the support of the light cruiser which had been mostly staying out of the action so far, causing the command hub to rock slightly from the - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- impacts. In the centre of the battle, the light cruiser darts in, blocking several shots from taking out the evading escort while it returns fire. The drones dodge aptly, but one - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- defense satellite blinks out on the screen, and then another as the escort that broke off from Light of Arindol emerges from the atmosphere and joins in the fight. Rianni@crystyl:"QanwI' new target" she calls out, highlighting the mean escort thats killing her pawns. Eon sqaudron maintain erratic swarm, I think it's confusing their targeting." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | QanwI' quickly moves towards its new target while Eon squadron continues the erratic swarming. One of the escorts engaging Light of Arindol quickly begins plummeting, evident that its engines - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- have been disabled and the planet's gravity is now pulling it to its demise. The Guardian vessel engages the second escort promptly. The heavy cruiser targeted by the station begins to lose - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- shields, but one of the light cruisers stops firing on the station and begins attempting to bolster the heavy cruiser's shields. Rianni@crystyl:"New secondary target, all units in range" she picks out the support cruiser bolstering the heavy. Rianni@crystyl keeps a watchful eye on the status of allied units as the battle draws on, especially the orbital station, to catch any in trouble. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The command hub continues through some more turbulence while the VF and orbital station change targets, the combined firepower quickly disabling the light cruiser. A second light cruiser moves - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- in to support the weakening heavy cruiser which begins to withdraw, firing back at the station while it does. The third light cruiser continues to engage the VF with the other heavy cruiser, - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- which positions itself between VF and the station as if preventing the VF from moving towards the station. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The fighting by the satellites continues with QanwI' hot on the troublesome escort, while the escort engaging Light of Arindol alone now begins to try to withdraw back to the others. Rianni@crystyl:"Divert QanwI' and drones... 2,3 and 6 to shut down the fleeing heavy; focus on engines, then regroup. Eon and remaining drones switch to shepherding - fence the Horde in.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The troublesome escort from before flickers and disappears before QanwI' and the drones switch targets, making a strafing run along the fleeing heavy. The light cruisers fire on them, but - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- they maneuver too quickly and manage to successfully take down the heavy's engines and warp nacelles, allowing the station to finish the job. Meanwhile, the Light of Arindol chases after its - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- escaping escort and also manages to finish it off. The light cruiser and remaining two escorts are fenced in by the drones, returning fire where they can and taking out one more satellite. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The turbulence continues as the VF keeps exchanging fire with the remaining heavy cruiser. Rianni@crystyl grimaces at the turbulence, as much for not being in a position to react directly and having to ignore it. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol is asking which group to support.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | On the screen, the Guardian ship ascends from Cidria, having dealt with the two escorts that chased it all the way into the atmosphere. Rianni@crystyl:"Have them focus the remaining heavy with us, that's our last primary target.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The Light of Arindol moves towards the last heavy while another escort goes down to the drones and satellites. The station switches focus to the heavy briefly before another light cruiser - Evanne Dra@annpc#557 - begins to support its shields and it switches attention to that vessel instead. Meanwhile, the other light cruiser in the area interposes itself between the VF and the heavy, firing on the VF - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- with everything it has, causing the command hub to rock more violently than before. The heavy begins to turn, but towards the station instead of retreating... Rianni@crystyl:"All units protect the station!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | QanwI' and the drones with it turn back around for another attack run, joined by the Light of Arindol coming in from the other side, both strafing across the vessel and knocking out engines - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- and warp systems. The heavy cruiser continues to drift towards the station, which quickly activates a tractor repulsor, stopping the cruiser just short of ramming into the station, but its core - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- suddenly detonates as it begins getting pushed back. QanwI', the drones and Light of Arindol scramble out of the way of the explosion. The VF shakes again from the edge of the shockwave, while - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- the light cruiser loses its shields from the explosion and VF's fire. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 5: "Orbital station reports a section of shielding is down! Horde forces are beginning to beam on from the light cruiser!” Rianni@crystyl:"Priority request to main bridge and Arindol to support evac of the station.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The other light cruiser and two escorts dart in to the station, but one of the escorts are quickly taken down by the drones. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 4: "Evac is underway!” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The remaining escort is quickly taken out by the QanwI', who turns with the drones to the light cruiser heading in. VF focuses on the remaining last cruiser, and soon the remaining Horde - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- vessels are down, but not before they manage to beam more of their crew on the station. Rianni@crystyl:"All units standby to focus fire on the station. Have the last evac group drop it's shields before beaming out.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 5: "Station acknowledges.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol reports they have Commander Kelly and the last evac group.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | On the screen, the station's shields are shown to drop fully while its weapons lock onto the VF... Rianni@crystyl:"All units, priority target; orbital station.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | All allied ships turn on the orbital station and open fire. The VF shakes slightly as the orbital station lands a few hits, but before long the shieldless station crumbles under the combined - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- firepower before a torpedo from the QanwI' finds its mark and the core detonates in a massive flash, consuming most of the station with it... Rianni@crystyl carefully watches the aftermath to see how much of the Horde fleet is caught in the blast. Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | The screen displays no further hostiles, while the defense satellites go inactive with the control centre aboard the station gone. Rianni@crystyl keeps scanning, "Let's go around the board. Status update from all allied leaders.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol reports minor damage. Four injured, no fatalities.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 2: "QanwI' reports no damage.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 3: "Eon squadron reports damage to drones 1 and 4, but nothing serious.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 4: "Valley Forge has lost ablative armour, but suffered no serious hull damage. Two injuries.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 5: "Station crew reports all personnel evacuated. Five injuries, one serious.” Rianni@crystyl:"Sensor sweep of enemy remnants. Stand the fleet down and have the drones sweep the wreckage to nullify any biosigns.” Rianni@crystyl turns to Comm5, "Oh God, who was it...?” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 5: "Petty Officer Frinn from Tactical. He's being treated in Sickbay." Rianni@crystyl sighs, "Frinn..." Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 5: "Report says he was hit holding back the Horde boarding parties during the evacuation along with the other wounded, but his injuries are the most serious.” Rianni@crystyl:"Acknowledged.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 3: "Drones are sweeping the wreckage now. There's a few pods that were launched in the direction of the station by the Horde ships, they're picking them off now.” Rianni@crystyl:"Good. Inform the bridge and advise them that we're standing.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"All allied vessels are now standing down, with the exception of Eon's squadron.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol informs us that a small number of thralls have survived crashing onto the surface. They're picking them off with transporters now and are preparing a team to check - Evanne Dra@annpc#557:- the crash site afterwards just in case." Rianni@crystyl turns back to Eva, "We did it Lieutenant.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods and turns to Rianni as well with a smile, "I told you that you would manage it, Ensign.” Rianni@crystyl shakes her head, "Not me, all of us. Thank you everyone for your help here.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557:"We're happy to have been of service. You certainly did great, though- reacting to the Horde's movements through the battle and figuring out what they were up to with the station.” Rianni@crystyl:"Well let's wrap things up here, we've all got other duties waiting and no doubt people to check up on.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "We'll keep monitoring comms through the cleanup from here.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 | Comm 1: "Light of Arindol reports the thralls on the surface has been dealt with. They're deploying the fireteam to confirm.” Rianni@crystyl nods and looks to Eva, "We should probably report to the Captain for a debrief.” Evanne Dra@annpc#557 nods, "I'll let her know we're coming." She taps on her console to inform Keelah before stepping away. --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | After finishing her debrief with Rianni and Eva, Keelah is informed of a hail from the Light of Arindol. Keelah@crystyl:"On screen.” NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian-Captain Daian appears on the viewscreen, "Captain Keelah. We've just finished transporting Commander Kelly and the other evacuees from the station back to you. My fireteam reports the - NPC@annpc#557:- crash site is clear. All surviving thralls on the surface have been dealt with.” Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Excellent new, Captain. How is everyone over there?” NPC@annpc#557 | Daian: "We have a few injuries from the battle, but minor ones among the technical staff. They're being treated, and our ship is still operational for combat. Any more survivors to clear up in - NPC@annpc#557:- orbit?” Keelah@crystyl:"I believe the hybrid squadron have that all in hand.” NPC@annpc#557 | Daian smiles, "Excellent. Good work in the battle- give your tactician my congratulations. Ensign...Rianni, was it?” Keelah@crystyl:"Rianni Tierno" she nods, "And I'll be sure to pass on your positive feedback.” NPC@annpc#557 | Daian: "When we've confirmed everything is clear here, the Light of Arindol will return to Admiral Celestina's battle group to report on what occurred and continue in the assistance of the - NPC@annpc#557:- Cidrian evacuation. Will you be returning to Czostak immediately?” Keelah@crystyl:"Unless there is anything requiring our attention, I believe that is best. We still have an evacuation to support.” NPC@annpc#557 | Daian nods, "We've got the situation at Vasomir and Kodek under control. Czostak is more imminent. The destruction of the Horde's vanguard may have brought them some time, but the main fleet - NPC@annpc#557:- won't be too far behind now. Get them ready to go as quickly as you can, Captain.” Keelah@crystyl nods, "We'll do all we can for them.” NPC@annpc#557 | Daian: "Good luck.” Keelah@crystyl:"And to you Captain." --- NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile in Zytomin's compound, the computer core had been delivered outside the canyon and beamed into the compound by the AI, and Mia has begun the work of transferring the code over. NPC@annpc#557 | Servers in the compound begin to go dark, though the AI had granted the Starfleet team administrative access so the functions of the compound are still active and under their control. NPC@annpc#557 | The transfers proceed smoothly, and after some time, the surveillance the bunker is connected to begins to show the Valley Forge on a course returning to Czostak. Mia@crystyl | Emma: "I have the Valley Forge back on sensors Commander!” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht steps over, "Can you raise them?" Mia@crystyl | Emma nods, "With the Runabout in orbit, we can relay a signal off their array. Opening the channel now, Sir" she nods to a blank screen that flickers on. NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Good work, Ensign." He looks into the screen, "Commander Vrolmacht to Valley Forge.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah's face appears a moment later, sat in her ready room. She smiles, "Commander, it is good to see you again.” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Likewise, Captain. What is the situation on the ship? We were concerned by the sudden departure.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "Yes, my apologies for that, but a Horde situation arose with the Light of Arindol. We had to suppress a vanguard fleet.” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I assume it has been dealt with already?" He looks a little disappointed at having missed the action.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah chuckles, "Sorry Commander. For what it is worth though; it was a 'glorious' battle.” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "That is good to hear. Another legend for the Valley Forge to live on through. I have an update as well.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "I was hoping as much. What is the situation there?” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "We have learned that the original, Lodzki Zytomin is long since deceased. The one we are dealing with turned out to be an AI with the memories and personality of his creator.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah perks a brow, "Like Mia?” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "Very much like Mia, it would seem. I can let her explain the details, if you wish. But in short, Ensign Ralde has secured us a spare computer core which will be used to house - NPC@annpc#557 - the AI temporary. He has expressed a wish to be carried by the Valley Forge, as he believes the Lodzki will view him as an abomination.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "So we are to maintain the facade for him. What does Fabula say to all of this?” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "He has not been informed. The Zytomin AI refused to bring him into the compound and deemed that letting a bard know his true nature could lead to word of it spreading.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "I see. What has become of him now then?” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "He has been picked up by the runabout. He is not pleased with not being invited, but he respects Zytomin's decision even if he does not fully understand it. He does not mind as - NPC@annpc#557:- long as we are able to save Zytomin and all his knowledge.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah: "Very well, I look forward to hearing all the details when we arrive there. If you send over the specifications for the core, I'll let Kelly know so she can ensure a suitable storage area.” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "I will have Mia send it over.” Mia@crystyl | Keelah smiles, "Seems like we both have cause for celebration Commander. I'll see you back on board shortly.” NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I look forward to it, Captain." --- Keliaya@anncaris | After Mia's transfer of the Zytomin AI is complete, the computer core is transported to the VF and the away team returns as well. Keliaya@anncaris leads Mia along as they make their way to where the core is housed. Keliaya@anncaris:"We're storing it in the same bay we kept the Dominion core for the Wanderer. We cleared the setup when the Nuhar took the Wanderer back, but we can reconfigure everything as it was then.” Mia@crystyl:"That was going to be our suggestion as well! It is the most logical location to use.” Keliaya@anncaris:"Do you think recreating the setup should suffice for this AI as well? A console interface with a voice and some basic external scanners to register its immediate surroundings, or do you think this - Keliaya@anncaris:- one will need something more?” Mia@crystyl:"We believe in terms of his needs, this will suffice. However, maintenance of his facade with the other Lodzki may require further accommodation.” Keliaya@anncaris:"Oh right, he doesn't want the other Lodzki to know he's an AI. Do you have a record of what the original Lodzki looked like?” Mia@crystyl nods and smiles, "We initially interacted with him that way so we have a complete holoscan available! It should be simple to create a holographic avatar using our own as a baseline. The problem is mobility.” Keliaya@anncaris:"That's true. Would he need to be fully mobile like you are now? We could set up something that's good enough to make the Lodzki think he's on the ship. Maybe additional projectors so he can create - Keliaya@anncaris:- background environments in the area, like a holodeck but only visual." Mia@crystyl:"Maybe. There are numerous emitters around the ship now to allow the EMH to support key areas. Perhaps we could utilize those to grant him some freedom to interact." Keliaya@anncaris:"That's a good idea. I'll have him patched in. We can set some slightly different authorization parameters so he has access to some of those emitters, but he won't show up in areas that are too - Keliaya@anncaris:- crucial. Similar to guest access to the ship we gave to the Lodzki visitors, but for a hologram.” Mia@crystyl smiles, "That sounds wonderful Ms. Kelly, thank you! We will make preparations for the avatar right away.” Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "Anyways, here we are!" She steps through as the doors to the bay slide open, revealing the computer core in the centre with a few techs around it. A console has been installed, - Keliaya@anncaris:- though it is not active and simply shows a black screen.” Mia@crystyl follows her, "Now to bring him back online for a diagnostic." Keliaya@anncaris:"Give it a few minutes for the technicians to set up the console first, so you can observe and make sure everything is alright. Shouldn't be long now.” Mia@crystyl nods, "We are conducting a preliminary scan of the core to check for any hardware deficiencies first as well.” Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Let me know if anything's wrong. I'll help get the console ready." She steps over to help the techs setting up the console.” Mia@crystyl works her way around the core as she scans. Keliaya@anncaris | After completing her scan, Mia doesn't notice any hardware issues. Keliaya@anncaris:"Give it a few minutes for the technicians to set up the console first, so you can observe and make sure everything is alright. Shouldn't be long now.” Mia@crystyl nods, "We are conducting a preliminary scan of the core to check for any hardware deficiencies first as well.” Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Let me know if anything's wrong. I'll help get the console ready." She steps over to help the techs setting up the console.” Keliaya@anncaris | After completing her scan, Mia doesn't notice any hardware issues. Mia@crystyl works her way around the core as she scans. Mia@crystyl returns to Kelly when she's satisfied, "Scan complete Ms. Kelly, the core is in perfectly good condition and no change from before the transfer.” Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Perfect. Console is almost ready now..." She plugs in a cable and taps something before standing and the console lights up. Keliaya@anncaris:"Ready to bring him online?" Mia@crystyl nods, "We are ready!” Keliaya@anncaris taps the console and the core lights up as well while the console fills up with data on the AI. Keliaya@anncaris motions to the other end of the console, "All yours, Mia!” Mia@crystyl monitors from her console before initiating the programme. Then steps back to watch eagerly. Keliaya@anncaris | The diagnostic begins to run while Kelly taps away at the other end of the console, "Just setting up the text and vocalization now while you run the diagnostics, so hopefully he'll be ready to - Keliaya@anncaris:- communicate once it's done.” Mia@crystyl nods, "So far so good Ms. Kelly!” Keliaya@anncaris | The diagnostics complete after a little while, showing the code all intact and well. Mia@crystyl:"Everything checks out. Initiating the programme.” Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Basic communication should be ready.” Mia@crystyl:"Zytomin, can you hear us?” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin responds in a generic mechanized voice similar to the Wanderer's when housed in the VF: "I can hear you. Am I on board your vessel now?” Keliaya@anncaris:"Yes. We haven't finished setting up local sensors yet, but you'll be able to see soon enough.” Mia@crystyl:"That is Commander Keliaya, our Chief Engineer. She is helping us to accomodate you on the ship! How do you feel?” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "The processing power of this core is not what I am used to on my servers. My core matrices are intact, and this will suffice for the moment. Thank you for bringing me along.” Mia@crystyl:"It is our pleasure to have you here!” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "What of the details of this evacuation?” Mia@crystyl looks to Kelly for more up to date info. Keliaya@anncaris:"We'll be moving out as soon as the Czostak Kingdoms are ready, hopefully by the end of the week. Or...near the end of your Brightening cycle. We're headed to Vue-En, and it's our hope that with - Keliaya@anncaris:- your planets deserted, the Horde will ignore them and move on, so you'll be able to return after the fleet is dealt with, if all goes well.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "I hope to return to my own servers again one day, or to be established in a similar setup if that is not possible. But given the circumstances of the moment, I am very satisfied with - Keliaya@anncaris:- all you have managed. I was not expecting to be able to leave Czostak at all.” Mia@crystyl:"We have more for you too Zytomin! Our ship is equipped with holographic projectors, like those we used to rely upon. We aim to recreate your physical presence so it can utilize these emitters!" Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "That is most appreciated. You have data from our initial meeting, I imagine?” Mia@crystyl:"Yes, we have complete holo imaging of your avatar from then so will soon have a reproduction programmed for you in your system.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "Excellent. I look forward to these additional functions coming online.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "Now that I have found a way to leave Czostak, I am not entire certain I will return, not immediately, at least. There is data to collect that I have only been able to simulate so far.” Mia@crystyl:"We can certainly empathize with that stance! If there is anything you require while awaiting the new avatar, just let us know.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "I will be certain to do so. You have much experience in making yourself mobile and exploring the world around you.” Mia@crystyl:"And it will be our honour to put that knowledge to use in assisting you with meeting your own goals too!” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "Thank you again. I am sure you have much to see to in your duties on this ship- do not let me take up all your time.” Mia@crystyl:"We will return as soon as we have news on your avatar!” Keliaya@anncaris:"And I'll let you know when access to other functions should be ready. It shouldn't take long now." --- Keliaya@anncaris | Some time later, the room is mostly empty during a late shift, with the techs having finished the setup. The room is dark, save for the light produced by the console and the computer core. Keliaya@anncaris | The door slides open and the light from outside streams in. Amidst the light, a figure dressed in a white robe steps into the room. He steps over to the core, the door closing behind him. Keliaya@anncaris | The Architect: "So...you are Zytomin.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "That is correct. And you?” Keliaya@anncaris | The Architect: "You may call me the Architect.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "These sensors must be malfunctioning. They are suggesting that your genetics is the template upon which-” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "Your sensors are not malfunctioning.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "My data and calculation suggests that there are none of your kind left.” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "I am the last. The last that has not been corrupted, at least.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "What do you mean?” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "You will understand in time. I am curious about you, however. You were biological once, were you not?” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "That is correct.” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "Why have chosen to transfer your mind into a machine? Immortality?” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "Not precisely. My creator's lifespan was not sufficient to fully comprehend the universe as he desired. He created me to continue his task.” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "I am afraid he was mistaken.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "Do elaborate.” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "I designed all life like your creator and his people. It is not his lifespan that is insufficient. It is his mind. Their minds are based on our own, you see, small, and utterly - Keliaya@anncaris:- inadequate for grasping the complexities of this vast universe we inhabit.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "Your tone implies that there is a way.” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "There is. A form of evolution I designed to ascend our limitations.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "And how may this be achieved?” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "The changes you have already undergone from biological to machine will complicate things, but it may still be possible.” Keliaya@anncaris | Zytomin: "I will run any calculations you require.” Keliaya@anncaris | Architect: "That is not necessary. But..." he looks up to the core with a smile. "I will require something else of you…” Keliaya@anncaris | The camera abruptly cuts to black.
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Rianni@crystyl finishes her duty shift and heads to visit T'Pia. Standing at the door to her quarters she still gets butterflies in her stomach when dropping by the Captain's quarters like this. Rianni@crystyl takes a deep breath and rings the door. T'Emp@anncaris calls out, "Mum's not here, but feel free to come in!â€ Rianni@crystyl peeks her head inside, "Your mum isn't the one I'm calling on!" and smiles, stepping in, "Hey Pia!â€ T'Emp@anncaris is sitting at the desk instead of the sofa as she often does and looks up with a smile at Rianni's entrance, "Rianni! Hi!â€ Rianni@crystyl steps over to the desk, totally not trying to peek at her work which is always interesting, "Not intruding am I?â€ T'Emp@anncaris | Rianni sees some very familiar Academy application pages on Pia's screen.â€ T'Emp@anncaris shakes her head, "Not at all! Just sent away my application for the Academy!â€ Rianni@crystyl smiles at the sight, "Aah yes. Quite the minefield of protocol isn't it! Let me know if you need a hand with anything on it." T'Emp@anncaris:"It is! Mum's been a great help, but you've been through the process fairly recently, haven't you?â€ Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "You could say that. It might feel like a lifetime ago already, but remember I only just graduated. And that was only because you mum bumped me ahead of the finalsâ€¦â€ T'Emp@anncaris giggles, "Well for me, it's literally a lifetime agoâ€¦â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"You worked hard and deserve to graduate early, though!â€ Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Right, sorry I forgot! As for that, I don't know. But... I do get it, I mean like; I spent almost my entire term serving on starships. Not only that, but bridge duty on exploration cruisers+ Rianni@crystyl:+ at the frontier. I can..." she smiles again, "... see the logic in her decision, especially with our current situation.â€ T'Emp@anncaris smiles, "And you've done great as a tactical officer, both working bridge duty as a cadet and as a full Ensign now!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"You will too Pia, I know it!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Thanks! If all goes well I should be in cadet colours come September!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Now that will be a sight! So are you still set on the ASDB too, or just winging it for now?â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods, "I am! At least eventually, I might want to get some practical experience first. But I'm going to go for classes and specializations that's focused on design work!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Perfect!" she slides a PADD on to the table, "Then this won't be wasted; specs on the adapted commanded hub and the tactical analysis from the battle.â€ T'Emp@anncaris looks to the PADD, "Oooh, was this what you came here to give me? Thank you, Rianni!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Our work was really well received, and I figured it might be helpful to add to your little portfolio!â€ T'Emp@anncaris beams happily, taking the PADD, "I'll be sure to! So how did things go on the command hub?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"I don't think we would have sailed through the engagement so well without the coordination it gave us.â€ T'Emp@anncaris smiles, "I am glad to help, then! Sorry we didn't get the holo-display up in time, but I can keep working on it if you like! Or...are we going to restore it back to the battle bridge now?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"I think it needs to stay as the battle bridge. Although..." she grins, "If you fancy it, I think it's worth refining the concept in the holodeck. You know, mock up a complete ideal scenario and then+ Rianni@crystyl:+ see what we can do with it for implementation from there!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Oooh, that's a good idea! I'll work on it! If we need a tactical command hub in the future again, I'll make sure it's even better!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Since we're keeping the configurations in chips, it shouldn't be too difficult to refine the setup and have it aside to implement when we need to!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Yay! I learned a lot from working with that last one so if you like, we can make it a project together!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"That would be great! And I could use your tactical experience in optimizing it. We would never have come up with the last setup without you!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"And now I've had a chance to work with it, there's a few things I'd do differently.â€ T'Emp@anncaris taps on her computer, ready to take notes, "What're those?â€ Rianni@crystyl shakes her head and smiles, "Nevermind notes, you said you were done with your work there right? How about we hit the holodeck and start playing?â€ T'Emp@anncaris smiles back and stands, grabbing the PADD, "Let's go!â€ Rianni@crystyl beams, "Great!" heading out. Rianni@crystyl finds them a vacant holodeck, "Alright Pia, you're the designer here. Where do we start?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"The last design worked well, right? I think we can recreate it and start refining from there. No need to start from scratch!â€ Rianni@crystyl nods, "Sounds good to me!â€ T'Emp@anncaris steps over to the side of the holodeck arch, connecting the PADD Rianni gave to the holodeck. She taps away for a few minutes before the battle bridge renders on the holodeck, set up exactly - T'Emp@anncaris:- like the command hub was during the battle.â€ Rianni@crystyl steps out into the middle, looking around, "Nice shortcut." T'Emp@anncaris looks around as well, then to Rianni, "Everything as you remember it?â€ Rianni@crystyl nods, "Perfect!â€ T'Emp@anncaris beams, "So, first thing we want is a holographic setup, right? Like what we had with the viewscreen, just three-dimensional.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Yeah, let's start with that.â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods and starts tapping away again, "Do you want that at the front, like a substitute for the viewscreen, or in the middle of the room like a Colonial Fleet CIC table? Where you and other - T'Emp@anncaris:- officers could maybe move pieces around manually if you want.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Ooh yes, that sounds more fruitful! No point in a 3D display if you only look at it from one direction!" she giggles. T'Emp@anncaris:"Exactly!" she taps away at the console some more, and a hologram of a Borg cube springs to life in the centre of the room, surrounded by multiple late 24th century ships. Rianni would quickly - T'Emp@anncaris:- recognize the setup as the Battle of Sector 001. T'Emp@anncaris turns to observe, "How's this positioning?â€ Rianni@crystyl jumps a little as it appears almost on top of her, looking up she gives a nod of approval, "Nice choice.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"But... hrmâ€¦â€ Rianni@crystyl rubs her chin in thought as she looks up at the holo. T'Emp@anncaris:"I picked one with a number of Starfleet ships from the records, so you have more to move around if you wanted to test! Is it too far in? Don't want it to be as central?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"No, it's not that..." she walks around to join TP on the raised rear section. Rianni@crystyl looks straight at the holo and smiles, "Better! I'm no Lodzki after, but I don't think anyone would do well staring up like that over a long period.â€ T'Emp@anncaris smiles, "Good point! Should I move it further down, or do you want to view it from up here?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Let's keep it where it is. But in terms of an active work area, this is very wasteful. Can we reconfigure the bridge to be about 25% smaller and with all of the consoles on this raised level. Then + Rianni@crystyl:+ the holo relatively in position where it is now?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"So you want the entire lower area to be for the holoprojection?â€ Rianni@crystyl nods, "Kind of like the astrometrics lab, but the other way up if that makes sense. And let's keep the raised section in a bridge profile for now. Oh, hmm... maybe... yeah! Scratch that-" she looks + Rianni@crystyl:+ around them, "This raised rear section of the bridge is often called the 'horseshoe' right. So, let's make it one! A horseshoe shape, raised around the holo. With the the forward consoles split + Rianni@crystyl:+ apart like on older ship designs, and place at the end of each side of the raised platform.â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Oooh, that's an idea! I'll get on it!" She hurries back to the console, tapping away. "This might take a little to reconfigureâ€¦â€ Rianni@crystyl turns and watches her with an almost entertained look, "So... is this your mother's old habits coming out, or do you just prefer to configure holo's via console?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"It gives me more control over the details! Though...it might be influenced by mum's experiencesâ€¦â€ Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Well whatever works for you!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"It's good for fine tuning! I've seen Kelly and Mia do it too! Well...not so much Mia, she can just interface directly with the console and holodeckâ€¦â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Maybe it's a sign of those who are more technically minded! Me, I just tell the computer what I want" she chuckles again. T'Emp@anncaris chuckles, "I do that too when I want something basic, like Computer, Tricorder.â€ T'Emp@anncaris giggles as a tricorder appears beside her, "Not now!â€ Rianni@crystyl snickers. T'Emp@anncaris:"But yes, when setting up a place like this, I like to get directly into the program so I can control exactly where something goes, rather than having the computer interpret my instructions and end - T'Emp@anncaris:- up doing a lot of fine instructions anyways like asking it to move a console one more centimetre towards me!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Makes sense! Guess I just don't have the eye for those kind of details.â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Details are important in ship design! Anyways, you said you want the bridge to be 25% smaller too, right?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Yes, this layout will make it quite long and narrow so I think we should condense the footprint to accommodate.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Last thing we want is a bridge so long you need your combadge to call someone at the other side!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Right!" She taps away on the console for a bit more and the bridge changes around them, forming the horseshoe and shrinking on the sides. T'Emp@anncaris looks over to view her changes again, "This looks like what you had in mind, Rianni?â€ Rianni@crystyl wanders around and nods, "Yeah, I can see this working! What do you think?â€ T'Emp@anncaris steps over to the edge of the raised area, looking around, "Definitely better!" She stares ahead to the viewscreen and points to it, "What about the original screen? Do we still need it now that - T'Emp@anncaris:- we have the hologram?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"It does seem a little redundant. But then, it does let us see an actual picture of whats going on outsideâ€¦â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods, "Plus, we'll still be using the battle bridge as the command hub when we need to, right? We probably don't want to remove the viewscreen or anything, so might as well leave it there!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"If only there was a way to combine the views..." she looks around for inspiration. T'Emp@anncaris looks around as well, "You mean, have something that shows both the live feed and a tactical layout?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Yeah. But with the depth and perception of the holo still. Like... we need to see it all... at the same timeâ€¦â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Could the holo...overlay the screen somehow? But then it won't be three dimensional...unless the viewscreen's view shifted with the holo?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Shfiting the viewscreen? Wait... Shifting the viewscreen!â€ T'Emp@anncaris looks to Rianni, "What do you have in mind?â€ Rianni@crystyl grins, "Something outside of the box... literally! May I?" T'Emp@anncaris smiles, "Go ahead!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Computer; Take away all walls, floor and ceiling apart from the raised horseshoe. And infill the background with interpolated point of view data based on the current simulation+ Rianni@crystyl watches as everything vanishes apart from the functional horseshoe and grins over to TP, "We are on a holodeck after all!â€ T'Emp@anncaris giggles, "Sometimes I forget we can do this!â€ T'Emp@anncaris leans forward and stares down into the empty space, "So...what's this for?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Oh I still want the holo in there. Back to what you said about manual control! The holo could serve more as an interface if... hmm, could you make it project the tactical data onto the 360 view + Rianni@crystyl:+ around us? Like, um... as if the bridge's dimensions are interpolated as a non-visible hologrid that is projecting what we see?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Like...turn the walls and ground and ceiling into one big viewscreen?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Exactly, yes! But not a viewscreen, a hologrid. Just... not the one we're actually in, but one that fits the dimensions of the original room, if that makes sense.â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods, "I think I can make it happen! It'll need a lot more work on the real bridge though if we want to convert thatâ€¦â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"And we'll probably need mum and Kelly's approval!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"First things first, let's perfect the mockup. Then we'll worry about presenting it to your mum! It might not be feasible to make the ideal tactical bridge here, but maybe you'll be able to use the + Rianni@crystyl:+ design when you start working on new starships!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Oooh yeah, good idea!" she rushes back to the console, tapping away at it again. T'Emp@anncaris:"So, a hologrid around the entire command hub, save for the horseshoe area and the consoles, right?â€ Rianni@crystyl chuckles, watching her eagerly work. Rianni@crystyl:"Yes. If possible, we want the grid to be all the way around, with the horseshoe almost... set in a little?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Set in a little? As in like...an island in the middle of the hologrid, rather than a hologrid incorporated into the room?â€ Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Yes, that's it!â€ T'Emp@anncaris taps away at the console, "Got it! Now, let's see how this turns outâ€¦â€ T'Emp@anncaris | A minute later, the empty areas looking into space is replaced by a hologrid, and another second later, they once again show images of space around them. T'Emp@anncaris turns, "Like this?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Yes! So this is now a hologrid fitting the room dimensions, and we're looking at the same view projected on it?â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods, "Yup! And it can show the view around the ship in any other circumstances, too! Let me try somethingâ€¦â€ T'Emp@anncaris turns back to the console and starts tapping again. T'Emp@anncaris | A few seconds later, a huge Borg cube comes into view in the distance, with a number of Starfleet ships around it. Below, above and beside them on the walls, several other ships of various - T'Emp@anncaris:- classes can be seen- Akiras, Sabers, Steamrunners and Nebulas among others. T'Emp@anncaris:"Now it should match the tactical holo!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Nice! Now... can we make it so the holo in the middle is a gesture control, and overlay the projection data on the view around us?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"With the projection data hovering in front of the ships on the hologrid screen?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Yeah, and - see here - " she shows on the holo, "- when working with the data, we use projected flight paths too. I want to see those on the grid and be able to manipulate them through gestures. T'Emp@anncaris looks over at what Rianni points to, "Oooh. I can do that!â€ T'Emp@anncaris gets back to tapping on the console, "This isn't tied to comms at all, right? Orders are given separately, so if you manipulate the display, you don't want it to relay orders to the respective - T'Emp@anncaris:- ships or anything?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Actually..." she looks to TP with a smirk, "That was what first drove me to want to review this with you!â€ Rianni@crystyl joins her, "When we were in the battle, the one thing I consistently found was having to try to accomodate the time delay between me calling out an instruction, the operator acknowledging then + Rianni@crystyl:+ relaying it, to the operator on the ship doing the same, to the ship actually moving as instructed. It's a lot of steps with margin for error and miscommunication as well as the time delay. So + Rianni@crystyl:+ ideally, yes; I would have the operators all working around the holo - hence the walkways from the horseshoe - but their positioning here relays in real time to the corresponding vessel.â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"Oooh! So the operators would be giving orders through the display! That'll be more complicated, but doable!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Remember, we're trying to make this is as ideal as possible for it's purpose. Don't worry about implementation for now!â€ T'Emp@anncaris taps away at her console, "Right! So not to worry about tying it into the comm system, just make it work in the holo. I can do that!â€ Rianni@crystyl:"The operators will still need the comms setups as before, since some instructions can't be relayed by simple movement. But the majority of updates come in that form, so it makes sense to take them + Rianni@crystyl:+ out of the equation. Should also reduce overall comms chatter and keep the operation less chaotic.â€ T'Emp@anncaris | The holo display begins to shift behind them as Pia types, moving through the room to match their corresponded ships. T'Emp@anncaris:"Makes sense! Would you...or whoever's the officer in charge, be manipulating it all from on top of the horseshoe, or will there be multiple tactical officers managing the ships, like the comm - T'Emp@anncaris:- operators on comms?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"I imagine an officer serving as central command, who would be stationed up here with an overview of things. While each operator would be a combined tactical and comms role.â€ Rianni@crystyl steps behind them to the middle of the horseshoe to indicate the positioning. T'Emp@anncaris looks over and nods, "And the officer needs to be able to manipulate the display from your position, right?â€ Rianni@crystyl nods, "Really, yes. If not the main holo... then maybe a holo-console here instead of the standard unit? They are what they use on more modern ship designs after all" she smiles. T'Emp@anncaris smiles, "That's what I was thinking!" She taps away some more and the console in front of Rianni transforms into a large holographic console with what's essentially the tactical displays - T'Emp@anncaris:- around them but smaller, "How about this?â€ Rianni@crystyl smiles back, "That will do nicely! We'll probably need to establish a few more of these to suit the overall functionality but I think this is definitely fitting the vision! What do you think?" T'Emp@anncaris turns and looks around, "Looking good to me too! Want to give it a test before we make some more refinements?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"That's probably not a bad shout" she nods, "Think you can holo-up a team for us?â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods, "Yup! Computer, place the appropriate officers to man the stations.â€ T'Emp@anncaris FX | Officers wearing Dominion War era uniforms appear at the various stations around them. T'Emp@anncaris giggles, "See, I do use computer command sometimes! Though I put this over the Battle of Sector 001 simulation so it's drawing a team appropriate to that eraâ€¦â€ Rianni@crystyl smiles, eyeing the period uniforms, "I'm sure we can manage. So are the holo-crew programmed to function appropriately to the new roles? Gesture direction and comms instructions?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"They should be! Lemme check..." she looks to the console again before nodding, "Yup, the computer's assigned them the right roles!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"I can activate the simulation whenever you're ready! We're supposed to be in the Enterprise ourselves, by the way.â€ Rianni@crystyl nods, looking over the display in front of her. "Alright, let's give it a whirl!â€ T'Emp@anncaris steps over beside Rianni and calls out, "Computer, begin battle simulation!â€ T'Emp@anncaris FX | The ships visible around them suddenly spring to life as they make attack runs on the Borg cube. Rianni@crystyl watches, a little disorientated at first, letting things play out naturally for the moment to see how everything works and behaves. T'Emp@anncaris | The Borg cube strikes an Akira-class ship and destroys it, the display icon flickering out as soon as the ship goes down. Soon after, the Defiant takes a hit as it tries to pull away from its - T'Emp@anncaris:- attack run and the display updates quickly to show the small escort in trouble. Rianni@crystyl begins working the console in front of her, "Groups 1 through 5, concentrate fire on these coordinates" she taps and a section of the borg cube gains a holo 'bullseye', "groups 5,7 & 9 fall + Rianni@crystyl:+ back to support" she watches as the operators relay updates and the room around them fills with with movement on the tactical overlays with projected courses showing in one colour and as the + Rianni@crystyl:+ operators swipe, second lines in a different colour appear before the ships start moving and the the two lines converge. T'Emp@anncaris smiles as she observes, "Looks like it's working pretty well!â€ T'Emp@anncaris | The Borg cube takes a few hits, while several more Starfleet ships blink away mid-flight. T'Emp@anncaris:"Wow...we were really underequipped back then, weren't we?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"Indeed. This feels much more efficient" she looks down to her right, under the starboard side of the holo, "Enterprise evasive action!" swiping her own display to force a maneuver. T'Emp@anncaris | The Enterprise swerves out of the way of a Borg attack and rocks slightly as another hits, but the shields take the hit. On the display, the Defiant shows as having weapons offline, and its - T'Emp@anncaris:- projected course takes it straight into the Borg cube. Classic Klingon... Rianni@crystyl spots the collision course trajectory as it changes colour on the surround view and pushes the nearest vessel to block and tank for them with instructions to tow it out if needed T'Emp@anncaris FX | The (Nebula-class) Lexington swoops in, taking a hit for the Defiant and quickly towing it out of the way. Meanwhile, two more ships explode around them while they swerve about for another - T'Emp@anncaris:- attack run towards the bullseye painted by Rianni. Rianni@crystyl continues observing as the operators react to the fleetwide information flowing into the room. T'Emp@anncaris | The operators are busy, but it seems the setup is going efficiently as they manage the fleet! Before long, a series of explosions cascade through the Borg cube. A new - T'Emp@anncaris:- enemy contact shows up on the display as the cube launches a sphere at the last moment before the explosions fully consume it. Rianni@crystyl directs all ships to intercept. T'Emp@anncaris FX | The fleet begins to pursue the Borg cube before the simulation pauses. T'Emp@anncaris:"I think that's all it has! Don't think we're suppose to intercept the sphere in time..." she chuckles. "Maybe that can be the new Kobyashi Maru test. Who stops the sphere in timeâ€¦â€ Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Maybe you can make that your next project! But... what do you think?" she looks around and back to TP with anticipation. T'Emp@anncaris:"I think that went very well! The hologrid takes some getting used to instead of a regular viewscreen, but it certainly gives a much better view of the field! I just have to remember to look all - T'Emp@anncaris:- around and not at one screen. Though your console gives you all the information in one place, so focus isn't an issue!â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"What about you? Think that went to your liking?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"I think so! I also don't think it's necessary the whole time, so if this were a bridge - maybe, I don't know, this would be like a tactical view that engages with red alert. Then normally, the view + Rianni@crystyl:+ could be reduced to resemble a more typical forward viewscreen or something?â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods, "I can configure that! The forward part of the grid can work like a typical viewscreen, and the rest of the hologrid can be configured to show floor, walls and ceiling when it's not in - T'Emp@anncaris:- red alert. So the room looks less jarring when you just walk into it," she chuckles. Rianni@crystyl:"That works, but wouldn't that also mean running the grid 26/7? I was thinking... maybe because it's not a full holodeck sim required, you might be able to do it the other way around with just enough+ Rianni@crystyl:+ projectors built into the room. So it literally is a normal bridge, but then the holoview engages within it or something?â€ T'Emp@anncaris:"So instead of a full hologrid, just holoprojectors built into the room that has enough ground to cover the room. That would take up a lot less power, since we don't need full holodeck capability, - T'Emp@anncaris:- just display and interactivity.â€ Rianni@crystyl:"That's what I was thinking!" T'Emp@anncaris smiles, "Great! Any other tweaks you want to make?â€ Rianni@crystyl:"I'm sure there will be, but for now we should probably focus on refining the existing setup and running it through trials.â€ T'Emp@anncaris nods, "I think I can think of a few improvements for your holo-console, too. I'll get on the refinements!" she skips over to the control console again.