Troubling news finds the refugee fleet when the gargantuan Horde fleet is detected heading not directly for Vue En, but for a little known pre-warp civilization.
Moral dilemma's plague the crew as they must choose between their long standing belief in the Prime Directive, and the prospect of an entire population counting in the millions not only falling to the Horde but adding to their ever growing number...
Keliaya@anncaris FX | More than a week after the assassination of Prince Ryzard, the Lodzki Kingdoms have finally begun planning the specifics of an official treaty for the formal cessation of hostilities - Keliaya@anncaris:- between Queen Runata's Alliance and Mihal's Cidrian Empire. In her ready room, Keelah speaks with the Cidrian Emperor over a communications channel. Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal: "Captain Daian told me that your ship has often hosted meetings between factions, both those within your Coalition and outside of it.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "Yes, diplomatic events of all types are regarded with great importance to Starfleet. So when it comes to ship's like the Valley Forge who were made to explore far beyond our own borders, it + Keelah@crystyl:+ something we have to be capable of; both in facilities and capability. Since embarking on this mission we have hosted a number of successful negotiations on board.â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal: "That is good to hear. We seek neutral ground upon which we can conduct the treaty negotiations, but that is a little difficult to come by in the midst of an evacuation. Neither side - Keliaya@anncaris:- wishes to set foot on board a vessel controlled by the others, but seeing as you persuaded the High Queen to evacuate, I imagine she trusts you enough to come onboard your vessel.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I would imagine that from the moment she agreed to these talks; using us to host them was in the back of her mind as a possibility. As much as it was yours" she smiles. Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal: "Then you are willing to host them.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"It would be our honour, Mihal" she bows her head a little. Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal smiles, "Excellent. I will provide you details on attendees from my side as soon as they are finalized.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Do you want me to extend an invitation to the High Queen or prefer that comes from you?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal: "My people can deal with that. As you stated, she likely had the same idea, and you are hosting her military leaders already, so they can vouch for the security. There is no reason for - Keliaya@anncaris:- her to suspect any ill intentions on my part.â€ Keliaya@anncaris FX | Keelah's combadge chirps, and on the computer she can see Mihal looking offscreen as well. Keelah@crystyl:"Excuse me a moment" she mutes the call and taps her combadge, "Se'Lai.â€ Keliaya@anncaris:<C> "Sorry to interrupt Captain, but the Horde fleet has just appeared on the Lodzki surveillance network. They're entering Lodzki space.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I see. Thank you for the update, Kelly. I have a feeling the news is spreading fast..." she watches the muted comm with Mihal, figuring he's receiving the same news. Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal is still looking offscreen, very likely receiving the same news! Keelah@crystyl:"Prepare the senior staff for a full debrief. I'll be with you as soon as we're done here" Keliaya@anncaris:<C> "On it, Captain.â€ Keelah@crystyl unmutes the comm, "Emperor Mihal, can I take it you have just received the same update I have?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal nods, "I have indeed. The bulk of the Bies forces have been spotted heading towards our territory. My political advisors can provide you with more details of the negotiations later. I - Keliaya@anncaris:- suspect we both have military matters to attend to now.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I am about to debrief with my staff. The High Queen's advisors are on board already so will likely join us. If you wish it, your people are welcome to join us for a single - unified - review. + Keelah@crystyl:+ Perhaps that would allow you to focus your efforts on your people. News like this spreads like wildfire and it won't take much to start a panic among a tightly packed population like thisâ€ Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal: "A fine idea, Captain. I will send General Velkar and Admiral Celestina. You should notify the High Queen's advisors of their coming so there are no surprises.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "I will see to it Mihal. Now, see to your people" she gives a faint smile. Keliaya@anncaris | Mihal nods and returns the faint smile before ending the call. Keelah@crystyl takes a deep breath before standing and heading out Keliaya@anncaris | Before long, the senior staff and the Lodzki Alliance military staff are gathered in one of VF's meeting rooms with the Cidrian military leaders on the way. Despite the two fleets moving - Keliaya@anncaris - closer together for the negotiations, it still takes a short while for the Cidrians to join up with the VF. Keliaya@anncaris | After a little wait, Keelah receives word that the Cidrians are beaming on board Keelah@crystyl walks in, carrying a couple of PADD's under her arm, "Alright everyone, my apologies if I've kept you waiting. As you can imagine, we have quite the excitement stirring up out there just now.â€ Keliaya@anncaris | General Velkar and Admiral Celestina step into the room not long after Keelah, drawing glances from the Alliance generals and admirals, though they don't look to be hostile glances. The two - Keliaya@anncaris:- nod to Keelah before making for the remaining seats. Keelah@crystyl:"And that should be everyone. Thank you all for accommodating this; with so many here already - and in the spirit of reunification - it was only logical to debrief everyone at the same timeâ€ Keliaya@anncaris | The Alliance military leaders nod in understanding and turn their focus back on Keelah, while the two Cidrians look to her as well after settling down Keelah@crystyl:"The inevitable moment has arrived. Sooner than any of us had hoped, I know. But nonetheless it is upon us. CMDR Vrolmacht" she looks to V for detail Keliaya@anncaris | Vrolmacht: "The Horde- or Bies, as you know them, are approaching Lodzki territories. Initial sensor data from the Lodzki Alliance surveillance network showed a thousand ships, but the numbers - Keliaya@anncaris:- are steadily increasing. As of now, we have seen over four thousand vessels appearing on the sensor feeds.â€ Keliaya@anncaris | The military leaders exchange glances with one another at the announcement of the number Keelah@crystyl:"We knew this was going to be a more substantial force than we faced at Terminu. I know the numbers make it sound daunting, but let us focus on the facts for the moment, yes? CMDR, how long until the+ Keelah@crystyl:+ bulk of this force is projected to reach the core Lodzki worlds?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Vrolmacht: "A little over six days. However, their current course does not take them directly through the Czostak system. It is likely that they no longer sense the Lodzki's presence there and - Keliaya@anncaris:- have adjusted their heading.â€ Keliaya@anncaris chimes in, "That's where it's a little unusual, Captain.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Oh?" she asks with a perked brow Keliaya@anncaris:"We expected them to alter targets to Vue-En, and they are still heading in its overall direction, but they're not moving directly at Vue-En like we saw with the first fleet and Terminu. Their - Keliaya@anncaris:- current trajectory takes them across the edge of Colonial Space, not directly to any inhabited system within. Given the direction, we believe Colonial Space is still their target, though it looks-â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Velkar: "They have another target before they attack the Arshai.â€ Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Yes, that.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Another viable target between here and Vue En? What might that be?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | The military leaders all exchange glances with one another, some discussing quietly Keliaya@anncaris looks to the display console in the room, then to Keelah, "May I?â€ Keelah@crystyl gestures an open hand, "Pleaseâ€ Keliaya@anncaris stands and moves over to the console, tapping on it, "I asked Gwi to look into this while we were waiting. Keliaya@anncaris:The console changes to displaying a map of the region, with the extrapolated course of the Horde fleet marked with a line. It slowly zooms in to one point on the path between Lodzki space and - Keliaya@anncaris:- Colonial space with a star system marked nearby Keelah@crystyl looks from Kelly to the display and back Keliaya@anncaris turns to Keelah and the table, "The Horde's current trajectory takes them close by this system, which we've designated V-0151-008. It's a red dwarf star with five planets in orbit, one of which - Keliaya@anncaris:- we believe to be Class M or at least inhabitable from its positioning and what we can discern from long-range scans. However, there are no signs of any technological signatures in the area." Keelah@crystyl:"No signs of advanced civilization at all?" she looks to the non-Starfleet folks, "Do any of you have more detailed information on the world?" Keliaya@anncaris | Mana stares into the display on her visor for a moment before looking to Keelah, "The Colonial Fleet appears to have explored the system previously. According to expedition reports, the second - Keliaya@anncaris:- planet in the system is inhabited by a civilization, but one that has not developed any technology that would be detectable from this range. Per fleet protocol, contact with the planet was - Keliaya@anncaris:- avoided to prevent a repeat of what happened with the Arshai long ago when the EereE made contact as a significantly more advanced civilization.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"So it appears the Horde is moving to consume a pre-warp civilization? Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "The Horde don't care about technological development. We're just resources to them, and once consumed, they share the knowledge of the entire Horde. They're known to prioritize high - Keliaya@anncaris:- population centres first, but they take everything in their path, and this world seems to be an unfortunate convenient target.â€ Keelah@crystyl sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose, "Exactly what sort of population size are we talking here?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Mana: "From the last Colonial Fleet visit to the system fifty-six Federation years ago, the population was approaching 150 million.â€ Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Goddessâ€¦â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Helsian Admiral: "Our ships can't accommodate another population.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"That would make an unfortunate bolstering to the Horde fleet right before we face off against themâ€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "We may not be able to save all of them, but we should save some of them. We Guardians have often been forced to evacuation parts of a population, but it is better than none. At least - Keliaya@anncaris:- through them, the genetic diversity of the species will be preserved.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"So you will simply choose a selection of the population and what, beam random lifesigns up? It's not like we'd be able to go down and explain it to themâ€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "We have attempted to explain it to them in the past, and inducted those who are willing into the Guardians. There are usually some who are curious or fascinated with us, and once they - Keliaya@anncaris:- join us...things become more clear. I admit, most of them do not fully understand what they are signing up for, but life with the Guardians is better than life as a part of the Horde. My own - Keliaya@anncaris:- ancestors come from one such species, and I am thankful that the Guardians saved them in this manner.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Well unless anyone has any other ideas that involved shielding the entire planet, I don't really see any better way to proceedâ€ Keliaya@anncaris shakes her head, looking to Lennie to see if she has anything. Keelah@crystyl | Lennie tries her hardest to think of something but after opening her mouth to speak she pauses and shakes her head, "If we had more time at leastâ€¦â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "That is a problem as well. The Light of Arindol is a smaller ship and does not have the capacity to induct a significant enough population into the Guardians, and we do not have the - Keliaya@anncaris:- time to wait for assistance from other Guardian vessels. Fortunately, the ones that come with us will not need protection against the Horde's powers as the whole purpose of this evacuation is to - Keliaya@anncaris:- move the Lodzki population away from range of influence, but the ones we save may need more...manual explanation.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Mana, did your people's expedition make any note of exactly how developed this civilization is?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Mana: "Much lower than the Arshai were when the EereE arrived. The natives have had agriculture, metallurgy, cities and wooden sailing ships for some time and several groups have constructed - Keliaya@anncaris:- large structures and monuments, but the Researcher's Guild estimates there is still a long time before steam power, gunpowder and more advanced technologies are developed. The civilization is most - Keliaya@anncaris:- likely not yet aware of the possibility of life beyond the planet, or even the idea that the civilization is /on/ a planet.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"A little more development would have been nice, but this is not a day for good news" she looks to Daian, "How far short of your optimal capacity are you?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "We have the supplies to induct between 100 to 120 Guardians, but the Light of Arindol cannot hold them all. However, we may have the time to induct some first and then have their own - Keliaya@anncaris:- explain the situation to others. The initial explanation will be difficult for a civilization of this level, thoughâ€¦â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Is there anything we can do to assist?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "We were not expecting to evacuation such a culture and I may be the only one on my crew who have some idea of what I'm doing, and that is only owing to my heritage. Do your people have - Keliaya@anncaris:- experience in dealing with them?" Keelah@crystyl:"Pre-warp civilizations? As a point of study, I'm sure. But Starfleet tends to avoid such cultures as far as possible. That said, I've no doubt that there are at least some on my crew who have proven+ Keelah@crystyl:+ capable with themâ€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "Unfortunately the Horde don't give us much of a choice. Specialists from your crew would be appreciated.â€ Keelah@crystyl looks to Lennie, "That means you're up. Work with Crystyl and Daian to put a support team together, ready to depart in-" she pauses, looking to Daian, "How soon do you intend to depart?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "It'll take us two days to reach the system. We'll begin as soon as we arrive. Light of Arindol doesn't have much evacuation capacity, so we'll need the Valley Forge or some of the - Keliaya@anncaris:- Lodzki ships along. We need to save at least a few hundred for repopulation. Preferably a few thousand, if we can.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"We have the capacity, but I am conscious of delaying the reunification talks here" she turns to the Lodzki groups, "If we move the population around, is there any way you can muster up enough + Keelah@crystyl:+ capacity to help with this?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Rownian Admiral, "We should be able to. Many of the nobles have more space- you've seen the Prince's living conditions. It will take some convincing, but we have the space.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Hopefully news of the Horde's arrival will be sufficient wake up call to help convince them. Well then, we have a lot of work to do and no time to do it. If there is nothing further?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "The Valley Forge will remain here with the fleet, and your team will come aboard the Light of Arindol, then? Which will proceed to the system with a few Lodzki ships for additional - Keliaya@anncaris:- capacity.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "It is the best we can do without sacrificing the peace talks. And if anything - having the Lodzki join forces to assist you with this should only bolster the fleet's resolveâ€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "A good plan. We'll part ways from the main fleet as soon as your team and the Lodzki ships are ready.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"Alright then. You all have your duties, dismissedâ€ Keelah@crystyl turns away from the crowd as they filter out to stare thoughtfully out of the window. Knowing Keelah, likely counting the faces of the 149,999,880 estimated population whose death warrants she feels+ Keelah@crystyl:+ like she just signed Keelah@crystyl calls out as the group filter out, "Daian, a moment if you please" Keliaya@anncaris | Daian pauses mid-step and turns back, "Yes?â€ Keelah@crystyl stands and moves to the window she was staring out of. Holding her gaze as she speaks, "In your estimate; what is the tactical significance of circa 150 million additional numbers to this Horde + Keelah@crystyl + fleet?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "I don't think they will incorporate it all into their fleet. They'll take a fraction to bolster their numbers, but all their ships are already crewed. I suspect they will leave - Keliaya@anncaris:- most of the population on the planet, perhaps with a few ships and the technology onboard, to establish it as a forward base in the region.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"And a second growing threat to deal with, even if we somehow manage to hold our ground against this current fleetâ€ Keelah@crystyl she sighs defeatedly, "I suppose what I want to know is... do we need to consider pre-emptively sanitizing the planet?â€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian nods solemnly, "That's...what I was considering myself. It...may be necessary.â€ Keelah@crystyl:"I suspected as much from the moment Mana said about the civilization there. Would you please... make an assessment. I would like to know for certain where we stand on this before you departâ€ Keliaya@anncaris | Daian: "I've never given the order to purge a planet myself. But I've been on Guardian ships that have performed purges, and...I don't think it is avoidable here. If this population falls into - Keliaya@anncaris:- the hands of the Horde, we'll have to deal with them sooner or later. It's...difficult to destroy a helpless population, but it's either this on our conscience, or the deaths of our brothers and - Keliaya@anncaris:- sisters in arms when the locals are used against us as thralls. It's easier on the conscience to kill a thrall, but...more of our own will die that way. And the ones we leave on that planet are - Keliaya@anncaris:- more or less thralls already.â€ Keelah@crystyl nods, "It is... only logical" --- Ann Carter@anncaris FX | After being assigned to assist the Light of Arindol with the prewarp civilization, Lennie returns to her quarters to get ready for her new mission... Lendaria@crystyl strolls in, "Heya sweets" flopping down on the sofa and kicking her feet up Lendaria@crystyl sits in a Lounge chair. Ann Carter@anncaris sets her PADD down, "Hey vijra! Long day?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Will be by th'time is doneâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Just takin' a quick break before gettin' back to duty, then?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"By rights I'm-a still on duty. Jus' landed one o'them 'pick a team' jobsâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Oh! Wha' for? There's not /another/ murder to investigate, is there?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"If only" she sighs, sitting up Ann Carter@anncaris looks to Lennie with concern, "S'even worse? Wha's goin' on?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Ya heard th'Horde fleet popped up sensors?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris nods, "Yup, but only just arrivin' in Lodzki space, isn't it? Still some ways off from reachin' usâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh yeah. But we figured they'se headin' for some unknown civilization, so we'se gonna go help th'Guardians clear 'em outâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Another civilization? How come we'd never heard o' 'em?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"That'll be because they'se pre-warpâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Oh...yeah, tha's not good. Does this fleet even have the capacity to clear 'em out? It's already filled with the whole Lodzki populationâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha's the icin' on th'cake! They'se a population of at least 150 million. Guardians got scope t'scope t'save a hundred or soâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Wha're ya puttin' together a team for, though?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We gotta help th'Guardians sort 'em out, so Cap'n's asked for a team o'folks adept in dealin' wit' pre-warp culturesâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Ooh. Who's on the team so far?â€ Lendaria@crystyl raises a hand, like she's the only one Ann Carter@anncaris:"I could go with ya. I'm no cultural specialist, but I know how to work with little to no tech- in case we get into trouble like back on Belyia.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles meekly, "I appreciate tha' sweets. I jus' don't know where t'start wit' this one... Not because th'criteria or nothin', but... how can I ask folks t'be a part o'somethin' like this?!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris nods and smiles back, "I know, it's a...hard choice to ask people to help make. But I guess at least we're gonna be savin' /someone/. Tha's better than nobody at all, right?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"But th'fact they'se pre-warp goes against everythin' we stand for. General Order 1 an' all tha'. Talkin' to 'ems bad enough, but t'uproot folks an' break 'em into a world centuries ahead o'em?! Jus'+ Lendaria@crystyl:+ feels so wrong against everythin' Starfleet, let alone th'whole 'hand pick 1 in a million t'live' thing!â€ Lendaria@crystyl sighs, slumping her chin into her hands, "Th'worst part is; wrong as it feels at th'core, I ain't convinced tha' we ain't doin' th'right thing stillâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"I'm sure the Cap'n knows wha' she's doin'. She wouldn't've called the mission if there's another way. An' unless we can stop the Horde fleet before they arrive at this planet, the Horde's not - Ann Carter@anncaris:- gonna care 'bout General Order 1 when they get there, so it's good as broken alreadyâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh I know tha', but it's jus'... well, I were always taught tha' we're better than all tha'. Starfleet wins because it don't let it's morals go when things get rough" another sigh, "I know it's + Lendaria@crystyl:+ th'right thing t'do. They'll jus' get wiped out by th'Horde anyway, don't make it no easier thoughâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"I always thought there's a difference between morals an' regulations. Starfleet's morals are to save lives an' do the right thing. The regulations are there to make sure we do, but there's gotta - Ann Carter@anncaris:- be exceptions when they don't line up. I mean, almost everybody who's somebody in Starfleet broke one rule or another durin' their career. Pretty sure all the best Cap'ns have violated General - Ann Carter@anncaris:- Order 1 at least once.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I'm-a sure it ain't Keelah's first time either. But I never knew such a brazen move before" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Me neither. But I trust her judgement. She's led us right so far.â€ Lendaria@crystyl gives a reaffirmed nod, "Right! Now just t'sort this team outâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Jenni, maybe? Not exactly prewarp, but no one alive on Forged Earth had seen another sentient species in their lifetime before we came along. She might get their mentality better than we do.â€ Lendaria@crystyl hrms, "Maybe. But also means she's got almost no experience in dealin' wit'those who ain't so developedâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Ooh how about tha' new Lodzki chick? She's an infiltrator so gotta have some transferrable skills right?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"True, but unless the locals are even bigger, she might also be kinda intimidatin'...â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Rianni, maybe? She's been pretty good at dealin' with other cultures so far. Ooh, I wonder if Emma's got experience with this sorta thingâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Might pull 'er along even if jus' to advise. Maybe Nikki too; she's from a pretty rustic background so might be relatable. An' I don't know 'bout those twoâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I mean, I know they'se capable, but they'se both so innocent too an' I ain't sure how somethin' like this'd weigh on 'em long termâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Good point. Nikki went with ya when ya went down to tha' prewarp place with the Prophet lifeform, right? So she's already been on a mission like this an' might be a good call.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Should probably have Kazra along too f'obvious reasonsâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Tha's already a team o' four! I'm still up for comin' with if ya think it's a good idea.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "I'd definitely appreciate havin' ya there!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris smiles back, "Looks like we got our team, then!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Thank ya sweets! Needed t'get mah head clear t'think tha' throughâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"I'm here to help! Lemme know when we're settin' out an' I'll be ready!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Better start y'prep now, Guardians're keen t'get movin'. I'll update Keelah an' get th'others together. Lendaria@crystyl steps over to the table and swings the console around Ann Carter@anncaris nods and stands, "I'll change into uniform, then." --- Ann Carter@anncaris | After finishing preparations, the five members of Lennie's team beam over to the Light of Arindol. They appear in a small transporter room with Daian waiting for them off the pad Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Welcome to the Light of Arindol.â€ Lendaria@crystyl steps off the pad, "Thanks. I think y'know everyone 'ere by nowâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "I don't believe I'm acquainted with your new Lodzki team member.â€ Lendaria@crystyl turns, "Aah right. Lemme introduce Lumini. Lumini, Cap'n Daianâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini: "A pleasure to meet you, Captain.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "It's good to meet you too, Lumini. I assume you were picked up during the evacuation?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini: "More or less, yes.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian smirks, "Long story?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini nods, "You could say that.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Follow me. I'll show you around the ship and to where you'll be staying as we travel.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Perfect, thanks!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian turns and leads the way through the ship. The interior of the Light of Arindol is rather sleek and clean, not unlike that of a Starfleet ship, though it is much more minimal and spartan, - Ann Carter@anncaris:- resembling the design of the smaller Starfleet escort ships. Before long, they reach a small, basic mess hall area with no bar and only a few replicators Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "This is one of the two mess halls we have on board, and the closer one to your bunks. Unfortunately we don't have the luxuries of the Valley Forge, but we've managed so far, and you - Ann Carter@anncaris:- won't be here for too long, so I'm sure you will as well.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "This's hardly wha' I'd-a call roughin' it Cap'n. We'll do fine, I'm-a sureâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian smiles back, "Well, you have lounges and bars, so it's not what you're used to." She leads on from the mess hall, through a short hall to another room Ann Carter@anncaris | Inside the room, a number of Guardians are working away at various consoles Lendaria@crystyl looks around curiously. Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "We are a combat vessel, so we're not equipped with the scientific and exploration facilities of the Valley Forge. This is the main sensor control, which is the closest thing we have - Ann Carter@anncaris:- to some of your labs. Our medical bay is just through hereâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl | Kazra perks up and follows more eagerly while Lennie lingers briefly in the sensor room Ann Carter@anncaris | The medical bay is actually quite large for what would would expect of a ship this size. Valtar, the Guardian who briefed the VF crew on the thrall variants, is in the room, running scans on a - Ann Carter@anncaris:- Lodzki male who is taller and more muscular than even the average Lodzki. The Guardian doctor turns at their arrival, "Welcome on board, Commander Meel.â€ Lendaria@crystyl | Kazra smiles and steps over to him, "Good to see you again Doctor" she looks to the patient, "Problems?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Valtar shakes his head, "Just a check up.â€ Lendaria@crystyl | Kazra: "Well until we get a close look at the people we're going for, there's not much use I can be. So if I can help you out here at all...?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "I was actually waiting for when he was ready before I showed your Captain, but I suppose you get a first look now that you're here.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Ready?" she asks curiously, joining them Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian steps over, "This is Torvian, the first in the new generation of the Huzar Program, and the first Lodzki Guardian. Emperor Mihal's advance contribution to the war effort.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"So he's just undergone ya joinin' ritual? Had no idea it could be so... taxingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "He has indeed, but he's not just any Lodzki. The new program uses an improved version of the augmentations undergone by the original Huzars. The ultimate Lodzki super soldier.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "We were going to induct more, but we need to save our supplies for the civilization we're going to. It doesn't matter though, as we don't have the capacity to produce new armours for - Ann Carter@anncaris:- too many of them here on the Light of Arindol. I've sent the specifications ahead and the armour is being produced at Vue-En now. The rest of the Huzars who have completed augmentation will be - Ann Carter@anncaris:- inducted once we meet up with the other Guardians.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Valtar chimes in, "We're just trying it on Torvian now to make sure the augmentations don't interfere with our process. So far, it looks good.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Well tha's good t'knowâ€ Lendaria@crystyl | Kazra: "Still happy to help if you need me for anythingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Valtar: "You're welcome to help me check the results, make sure everything is optimal.â€ Lendaria@crystyl | Kazra nods, "Of courseâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "At the current rate we're progressing towards Vue-En, and knowing the position of the Horde fleet, we should be able to have somewhere between fifty to a hundred Huzars ready for - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the battle. The Cidrians have a hundred augmented and ready and a second group in the works now.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "I'll leave you'se medical types to ya funâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "I'll show the rest of you to your room.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "The medical bay also doubles as a lab if we need to work with organic samples. It doesn't happen often, but even once in a while there might be a thrall we want to study.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Good t'know" she notes Ann Carter@anncaris | After another short walk through a hallway, they enter what appears to be a small living room area with a central holoterminal, several sofas around it and a few desks and chairs around the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- side of the room with PADDs and computers on top of it Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "We don't have the space for large living spaces, so our crew residences are all structured in a common room and bunks setup. This is going to be the common room you use. Three bunk - Ann Carter@anncaris:- rooms connect with it, each with two bunks that can house four people. It's fortunate that we just happened to put larger bunks in one of them for Lodzki use." She looks to Lumini, "I hope you - Ann Carter@anncaris:- don't mind staying with Torvian?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini smiles, "Not at all.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian motions to a door on her left, "Lumini, you'll be in there then. That's the bunk with Lodzki beds." She motions ahead to another door, "The rest of your team will be staying in that bunk.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "The one to your left is currently occupied by members of my crew. You'll be seeing them around in the common room when they're not on duty.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sounds goodâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian takes out a PADD and hands it to Lennie, "Here's the instructions to set your communication badges to tap into our frequencies. Feel free to call us if you need anything, and we'll ring - Ann Carter@anncaris:- your badges when we arrive at the system. You're welcome to wander the ship during your stay and lend a hand like your doctor is doing now.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Will do! If there's anything specific ya think we can help with jus' give us a shoutâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "I'll be sure to. We'll need your expertise most once we arrive and have to deal with the locals.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Get yourselves settled in. It'll be two days until then.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sure thing" she smiles, moving to investigate their new home Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian turns and heads out while Lumini heads for her bunk and Ann follows Lennie in to theirs. It is a fairly small and undecorated bunk room with four two-layered bunk beds opposite each other Lendaria@crystyl:"Welp, guess this's us f'nowâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris glances to Nikki, "This look alright for ya? I know some Romulans who prefer a lil more privacy than this.â€ Lendaria@crystyl | Nikki looks around, "I will live" she insists defiantly while moving to claim her bunk of choice Lendaria@crystyl:"Well... guess tha' settles tha' thenâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"We should only be here for a few days, if all goes well. Think we should let Kazra choose before claimin' ours?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Or...does she just get the one with Nikki," she chuckles Lendaria@crystyl:"First come first served! Right Nikki?" she teases Lendaria@crystyl | Nikki just hrmphs and rolls over Lendaria@crystyl grins, knowing she's playing, mostly. "See sweets, s'all good!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris chuckles, "We can take the other bunk, then! Y'want top or bottom?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Either worksâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Too bad it's a lil too small to share," she smirks. "I can take top, save ya some climbin'. Both layers got the same room anyways.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sounds good t'me! Still, not exactly time f'sleepin' jus' yet. Wanna go explorin'? No worries if not, I can go see if Lumini wants t'look around; make 'er feel part of th'team an' all" Ann Carter@anncaris:"I'll come with ya!â€ Lendaria@crystyl beams, "Le's go grab Lumini then! If she wants o'course" heading out, she calls back, "Laters Nik!â€ Lendaria@crystyl | Nikki waves a dismissive hand behind her, not turning even to the pair Ann Carter@anncaris waves back to Nikki and follows Lennie out Lendaria@crystyl heads across to Lumini's room Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini's room contains two larger, non-bunk beds placed in close proximity in the small space, with Lumini sitting atop one of them Ann Carter@anncaris:"Why couldn't we get a bed like tha'...we coulda shared!â€ Lendaria@crystyl peers in with a smirk to Ann, "Hey Lumini, settlin' in ok?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini chuckles, "I'd invite you over, but unfortunately the other one is taken by the other Lodzki on board." She looks to Lennie. "The ship is a little small, but it's nice that Daian's got - Ann Carter@anncaris:- larger beds for us. The whole place reminds me of a submersible thoughâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh yeah? We was gonna go explore a bit - get our bearings an' all - wondered if ya fancied joinin' us?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini nods, "Sure. This is only the second non-Lodzki ship I've been on, so it's quite an interesting experience!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"First time we'se been 'ere too!" she smiles, "So, ya say this's like a submersible? Y'all do a lotta underwater stuff back home?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini chuckles as she stands and follows the two, "Oh no, not an actual underwater craft. There is water under areas of Czostak and long before we ventured into space, we did build - Ann Carter@anncaris:- submersibles to explore these, and for the purposes of espionage and ambushes against rival kingdoms. They were notoriously small and uncomfortable and not really used today. But back in training - Ann Carter@anncaris:- we used to call our destroyers 'submersibles' because of the lack of space compared to most Lodzki vessels.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Huh, no way. So this's more like them destroyers then?" she asks with genuine interest as they stroll through the corridor. Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini: "It is, and the destroyers are usually more sparsely decorated too. I suppose this ship is like the Guardian equivalent of a destroyer.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Ya should see the QanwI' sometime. Now tha's a tiny ship.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Good sales pitch sweets" she chuckles, eyeing Lumini's height Ann Carter@anncaris chuckles, "It's worth checkin' out sometime, though ya probably don't wanna stay on it for long.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | They pass by several doors that seem to lead to more common rooms, and eventually to one that looks a little different. Lendaria@crystyl hrm's, "This don't look like no common roomâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris nods, "Wonder wha's insideâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl tries the door, figuring it won't let them in if they aren't allowed. Ann Carter@anncaris | The door slides open...revealing a large, deformed Horde thrall with its back turned to the entrance! Before Lennie can react, something further in the room strikes the thrall, which drops to - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the ground before flickering out, revealing it to be a hologram. The Clenduros Knight Jul-Chim can now be seen as the one who dealt the blow, standing with his spear in hand and shield active. Ann Carter@anncaris | Jul-Chim: "Oh, hello.â€ Lendaria@crystyl peers in, "Howdy! Hope we ain't intrudin', jus' gettin' our bearings 'ere". Looks like you'se err... havin' fun!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Jul-Chim: "Ah, yes, you must be the team coming along to help with the evacuation. This is one of our training rooms. Feel free to come in.â€ Lendaria@crystyl steps inside, keeping well out of the way, "Kinda like a holodeck trainin' simâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | The room does indeed somewhat resemble a holodeck, but about half the size of one, and without a full hologrid around it Lendaria@crystyl:"Y'all do much 'this kinda trainin' then?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Several Guardians can be seen in the room, practicing various weapons against simulations of thralls and other targets Ann Carter@anncaris | Jul-Chim: "Have to keep our skills sharp. This room is not capable of simulating a complete environment, but it is capable of adding environmental objects for further challenge. Most of the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- time, we use it to simulate targets to train against. There is not much recreation to be had on a ship of our size, and for most Guardians, combat training has become a part of our recreation.â€ Lendaria@crystyl looks to Lumini, "This's probably th'first time ya seen these things, right?" indicating the holo thrall Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini nods, looking around at the various thrall variants the Guardians are sparring against or shooting at, "Is that what we're up against? They look so...monstrous.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods somberly, "I'm afraid so. This' wha' they wanna make of all usâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Jul-Chim: "And they are more intelligent than their mutated, often rampaging forms would have you think. The more thralls are together, the greater their neural processing capability. A single - Ann Carter@anncaris:- thrall is no more dangerous than a wild animal. An army of them will employ advanced tactics against you.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "So this fleet of - wha' were it, 4000 ships? - they'se gonna sharper than mah claws!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Jul-Chim: "Closer to five thousand now, I believe. And I suspect that's why they want to take this world we're headed to. Partly because it's not too much of a detour, but also so they have a - Ann Carter@anncaris:- fallback option, one on a world they were counting on us not knowing about, most likely. The odds are in their favour, but they know about our Coalition here, and have considered defeat as - Ann Carter@anncaris:- a potential outcome." Lendaria@crystyl scoffs, "Well tha' monstrous zombie fleet's even considerin' defeat at our hands, guess tha's a complement o'sorts!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Jul-Chim: "With what you pulled off at Terminu, it's certainly a result they won't overlook.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"True enough I guess. So... I know it ain't wha' we actually 'ere for, but maybe you'se could help us get Lumini 'ere up t'speed some on facin' these guys?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Jul-Chim: "It is our duty as Guardians to not only fight the Horde, but educate others on it. I will be happy to offer my knowledge and experience.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "Thanks! Whaddaya think Lumini? Up for a lil' first hand time learnin' t'face these guys?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini nods, "I have a feeling we're going to go up against them sooner rather than later, and it is good to be prepared beforehand.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, I reckon so. Aight', where'd we start?" she chirps, looking Jul-Chim ready for a fade to black and a transition to Rocky-esque training montage --- NPC@annpc#557 | Nikki sits quietly in the bunk room as the rest of the team goes to explore the Light of Arindol. Five minutes pass and they don't yet return, then ten, then fifteen... Nikki@crystyl eventually decides that she's played ignorant long enough and goes to relax in the common room NPC@annpc#557 | As she steps out into the common room, she notices someone else inside it- a stranger she doesn't recognize. At first, it appears to be yet another unfamiliar alien among many in the ranks of - NPC@annpc#557:- the Guardians, but upon closer examination, she can note similarities to Dr. Valtar and his species- one of the more common ones seen as Guardians. The alien has a very similar body shape, but - NPC@annpc#557:- without the almost Klingon ridge-like bump at the top of the head, though it is still hairless with a ridge along the side of the cranium. Nikki@crystyl looks around the room, taking in the amenities NPC@annpc#557 | There seems to be a number of desks with computers and PADDs on them, with the alien behind one of them, as well as a replicator and a sofa area with a table/holoprojector in the centre NPC@annpc#557 | The alien notices Nikki and stands from her seat, walking over, "Hello. You must be one of the visitors from the Valley Forge. NPC@annpc#557 | As she stands, Nikki notes that the alien has notably wider hips than Valtar, and combined with the other differences in features, likely signified a female of the same species Nikki@crystyl eyes the replicator, but feels obligated to engage in conversation after the greeting so steps that way instead, "Yes. I am not intruding on your time here am I?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Alien: "Not at all. In fact, I was looking forward to speaking with one of you. That's why the Captain assigned me to the block with the empty bunks reserved for new recruits- or guests such - NPC@annpc#557:- as yourself. I enjoy meeting new people, but that Torvian is not much of a talker.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The alien notices Nikki's gaze to the replicator and quickly adds, "Oh, but don't let me keep you if you want to grab some refreshment first.â€ Nikki@crystyl nods and heads over to the replicator while continuing, "I will assume Torvian is someone who would normally be in this area. It is your job then to gather information on us" she states, perusing + Nikki@crystyl:+ the option NPC@annpc#557 | Alien: "Oh no, not at all! I simply like hearing the stories of new people. Torvian is the Lodzki super soldier we've taken on board. Apparently part of his training was actions above words.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The alien quickly adds again, "I respect that, of course, and I would love to have him at my side in battle, but less so in the common room.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Aah so you're a people person. You probably want the really dark green skinned one with us then" she smiles, turning with a simple beverage in hand NPC@annpc#557 | Alien: "I will be sure to speak with her, then," she smiles back. "But I am interested in your story as well. Your crew is as diverse as ours, and I imagine you have quite a different story to - NPC@annpc#557:- tell. It's alright if you prefer quiet though, just let me know and I'll leave you alone.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"No it is fine. I have grown accustomed to accommodating social curiosity from the Starfleet crew" she notes with a hint of Romulan arrogance/reluctance almost like it's laid on thick by design NPC@annpc#557 | The alien looks to Nikki with a curious expression as she takes a seat near her, "You speak as if you are not part of the crew. Are you one of the ones they recruited on the way here, then?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"No, I am on detachment from the Romulan Republic. I was assigned to the ship to represent Romulan interests on their mission before leaving Federation spaceâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Alien: "The...Romulan Republic? I am not familiar with it. But first let me introduce myself, so this conversation is not one sided. I'm Idate, Lorekeeper by trade, administrative assistant on - NPC@annpc#557:- this ship. I manage the administrative affairs too tedious or mundane for the Captain to deal with herself.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Oh yes, there is one on the Valley Forge with similar duties. I am Nikee ir-Fethraie t'Rllaillieu, Intelligence Operations by trade" NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "An important role. But you are here as a representative for your Republic?" Nikki@crystyl nods, "Correct. Unlike the Klingons, we do not have an abundance of ships just killing time on the borders any more. So a single officer was assigned to safeguard the Republic's interests insteadâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Anymore? That sounds like an interesting story, if I may ask about it.â€ Nikki@crystyl hrms, taking a sip, "Our homeworld was destroyed and overnight we were reduced from one of the leading powers in the quadrant to a smattering of refugees begging for scraps from those we once called+ Nikki@crystyl:+ our enemiesâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods solemnly, "I can sympathize. Most of us in the Guardians have lost our homeworlds, some in situations that sound very much like what you describe.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I doubt it, but appreciate the sentiment. I suppose the same goes for your own people? You are those most frequently considered as Guardians if I'm not mistakenâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "That is correct. The Renlore are one of the founding members of the Guardians in our present form.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Present form? I was not aware of previous incarnationsâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Before us there were two incarnations. The first was the original Vanguard, comprised of the creations of the Progenitors, the Iconians and the Nuhar that were immune to the control of - NPC@annpc#557:- the Horde. When their creators faded away, their creations slowly fell apart.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Makes sense. And the second incarnation?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "The second incarnation was created by the Sorobeth, a civilization built upon the technology of the Nuhar. They created their own variant of constructs, shaped in the image of bipeds, - NPC@annpc#557:- and built vast synthetic armies to hold back the thralls of the Horde. Their downfall was the overreliance upon Nuhar technology, for while they built smaller factories for their own bipedal - NPC@annpc#557:- warbot designs, the construction of their warships relied on the powerful Nuhar Foundries. This was the only time the Horde was known to have changed their general strategy from overwhelming - NPC@annpc#557:- force to strategic, surgical strikes. These strikes targeted the Foundries specifically, neutralizing the Sorobeth's ability to manufacture advanced warships.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Hmm. A curious insight into the mental acuity of the Hordeâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Without the ships to carry them, the warbots were stranded on the worlds on which they were produced, unable to halt the Horde as they advanced again. By the time the Sorobeth learned - NPC@annpc#557:- how to build shipyards of their own, it was too late.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I assume none of these 'warbots' have survived to this day?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idates: "The Horde bombarded all the worlds with Sorobeth factories from orbit, preferring rather to ruin the planet than to throw their numbers at the warbots. However, there are fanciful - NPC@annpc#557:- rumours and legends of hidden warbot armies and factories the Horde had never discovered. Even if they were true, the territories of the Sorobeth have long since fallen under Horde control, and - NPC@annpc#557:- it would be difficult to send in enough ships to recover them. Only the Rangers venture that deep into Horde space, and their ships are light and meant for scouting and guerilla strikes.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Still, it is something good for us to be mindful for as we search beyond enemy lines for our way homeâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "From what we know of these warbots, even a small platoon would be quite the weapon in planetside or shipboard combat against Horde thralls- if there are any still out there, that - NPC@annpc#557:- is. We have only accounts of them, not even schematics, so we cannot build them even if we had the capability to. A schematic, sent back to a world with means of production like Vue-En, could - NPC@annpc#557:- potentially turn the tide of the war." Nikki@crystyl:"A worthy target to aim for" she nods NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "If the Horde had not already eliminated everything that makes it possible. As for the current incarnation of the Guardians...after the brief resurgence when they finally pushed back - NPC@annpc#557:- and destroyed the Sorobeth, the Horde advance actually slowed for some time as they replenished their numbers and developed the territories they had taken. There were also no significant - NPC@annpc#557:- powers nearby to challenge them. It was during this time that my own people first ventured out among the stars.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Until you encountered the Horde and piqued their interestâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "Precisely. Our homeworld was far from any ruins left by a previous civilization, so we developed our own technology. We had many internal conflicts throughout our history, but - NPC@annpc#557:- when we reached the stars, we were united and considered ourselves an enlightened people. Our Republic grew from one system to ten to over a hundred at our peak. Some joined through diplomacy, - NPC@annpc#557:- some brought in by trade and economic manipulation, and a few challenged us and were conquered. We grew to be proud, believing that our technology, our culture, our very physiology was superior - NPC@annpc#557:- to those we ruled over. The Horde did not immediately attack us. They saw our weakness and exploited it.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"A common enough theme among many speciesâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Yes, the Horde are devious that way. They suspected we might develop a defense against them, and never gave us the chance. They influenced the other species we ruled over and before - NPC@annpc#557:- long rebellion spread like wildfire through the Renlore Empire. That is one of the worst things about the Horde, as we have seen with the Cidrian Emperor here. Sometimes, those they influence - NPC@annpc#557:- don't just think they're doing the right thing. They /are/ doing the right thing, but the Horde use their noble intentions against them to sow the seeds of their own destruction.â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, "They insidiousness would be respectable even by Tal Shiar standardsâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate gives Nikki another curious look, "What are Tal Shiar standards?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Oh right. The Tal Shiar are - or rather, were - the Romulan black ops intelligence service. At the height of our Empire they were feared across all known territories for exemplifying the cunning and+ Nikki@crystyl:+ ruthlessness that became a stereotype of our entire race as a resultâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "Ahh, I see. The Renlore had something similar during the height of our Empire. The Silent Servants, they were called. It is said that they discovered something was behind the - NPC@annpc#557:- rebellions and investigated, but in the process they too fell under the influence of the Horde and were turned against us. They proved one of the most deadly foes when the Horde finally struck, - NPC@annpc#557:- as they had agents throughout our society and sabotaged us at every turn.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Fortunately since then your people have grown wise to the Horde's influential waysâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "But it was a lesson hard earned. The Renlore Empire did not collapse in a single day. The Horde struck in the midst of the rebellion when both sides were weakened by war and had - NPC@annpc#557:- no opportunity to develop any countermeasures. Our homeworld fell quickly, but we evacuated our leadership and set up the capital in one of our colonies, then another, as we retreated from the - NPC@annpc#557:- enemy. But we could only run and not fight, and the difficult task of fleeing meant we had no time left to find a way to fight. We were losing about a system a week, and soon we were reduced to a - NPC@annpc#557:- nomadic population. It was only when we found the Gardeners that we had a means of fighting back, but by then the Renlore Empire was no more.â€ Nikki@crystyl 's brow furrows, "The... gardeners?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Oh I forget, you do not know. It feels like talking to a fellow Guardian with your people also having lost your home and your empire. I should not speak too much of them- only that - NPC@annpc#557:- they were the ones who provided us with our means of defense against the Horde.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"You mean your immunity against their influenceâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "Yes. That's correct. The remains of our Empire, mostly Renlore but some survivors from the other civilizations we ruled over, along with the Gardeners, became the first of this - NPC@annpc#557:- incarnation of the Guardians.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"These Gardeners certainly do sound intriguing if they possess the capacity to shield all of you from the Horde. Though if you have this means, it begs the question as to why the Coalition is + Nikki@crystyl:+ investing so much in a more laborious methodâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "To use our method of immunity means to join the Guardians. You will renounce all former allegiances. Cease to be a member of whichever Republic or Starfleet you come from and devote - NPC@annpc#557:- your lives to our organization. Is that something you are willing to do?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"No" she responds flatly, taking a sip of her drink, "I simply find it curious that this vast alliance deploys a different method, seemingly through necessityâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "You've answered your own question. We freely offer our means of immunity, but to accept it means you must become a Guardian. It is not some strict protocol or tradition- one cannot be - NPC@annpc#557:- without the other. To undergo the process is to become a Guardian.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"You know you're doing a lousy job of sating my curiosity about the processâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "I know, but without authorization from the Captain or Commander Skormir, I can't tell you much more about it. Only that joining the Guardians is more than swearing an oath of - NPC@annpc#557:- allegiance. I could tell you more about how our own society has evolved around the process, but not the details of the process itself.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Sure. It is all intriguing and new to meâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "Almost all Renlore today are a part of the Guardians. We join once we reach maturity at the age of sixteen, and it is technically a choice, though it is almost unheard of for a - NPC@annpc#557:- Renlore to refuse. The few who do become exiles from our society and will not find a mate with another Renlore. They either die off, or their genetics are slowly dilluted through hybridization - NPC@annpc#557:- with other species, which is why you will never find any Renlore population outside the Guardians.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Understandable. So did your people eventually recolonize a new homeworld or do you remain nomadic?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "I suppose the World...of the Gardeners is like a new homeworld for us now. Outside of that, we live in Guardian outposts and command posts, though the larger ones have grown to become - NPC@annpc#557:- colonies of their own right. But every few decades or centuries we uproot when the Horde draws too close for comfort, so I suppose we are partially nomadic." Nikki@crystyl hrms, "I must say, this is quite the change of pace from what I have come to understand of speaking with your people. You are surprisingly forthcomingâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate chuckles, "It has to do with my trade as a Lorekeeper. I am used to discussing our history and culture with others. You say this Tal Shiar intelligence group embodies the stereotype your - NPC@annpc#557:- people became known by?â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, "Indeedâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Well, the Renlore are best known as militaristic because we are all Guardians. It is true that we all know how to fight. The only Renlore who cannot fight are children; even exiles can - NPC@annpc#557:- fight as it is basic education even before we join the Guardians. But we're not all the strict soldier types we tend to be seen as.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Just as not all Romulans are devious spymastersâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "We do not immediately go into service after we join, either. From age sixteen to twenty-five, we mate to ensure our species continues, and during this time we study the trade of - NPC@annpc#557:- our choosing. The ones who intend to remain with the Guardians for their entire careers often study fields related to shipboard service or combat tactics, but there are many other trades to study - NPC@annpc#557:- such as Child Care, Lorekeeping, Medicine, Ship Design and much more career paths. Regardless of career, we all must go into active service for a period starting from when we are twenty-five, - NPC@annpc#557:- though one may choose to begin earlier if they have produced more than their share of offspring before then- three or more children, that is.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "The mandatory service ends when we are thirty-six, from which point we can pursue a career of our choosing. We may choose to remain with the Guardians, if that is the career we choose.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I imagine - from what you've told me of your society - that the majority tend to stay in serviceâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "Remaining in active service is the most commonly chosen career, yes. Even if we choose another career, we are still Guardians, for there is no turning back once we become a full - NPC@annpc#557:- Guardian, but we devote our time to support roles for either the Guardians or to ensure that our people go on, rather than active service.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "As you've probably guessed, I intend to become a Lorekeeper once my mandatory service is complete, to ensure that our history and culture is not forgotten.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Commendable" she nods, "Seeing how much history we have lost, how much I have lost... I can certainly respect your choiceâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate smiles, "Thank you. It is a very respectable role among the Guardians, for all of us here have lost something to the Horde. May I ask how it was you lost your homeworld? I presume it is - NPC@annpc#557:- not related to the Horde, as I am told the Valley Forge comes from a place that does not yet know of the Horde." Nikki@crystyl nods, "You are correct, our home is many light years towards the galactic core from here. As for Romulus..." she sighs, "...it was destroyed by a supernova in a neighboring system which was + Nikki@crystyl:+ accelerated through subspace. The cause of the sudden nova is... a matter of some debateâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "I'm no astrophysicist, but it does sound like an unusual occurrence. Did you have time to evacuate anyone before your homeworld was destroyed?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Some, yes. But there was so little time every ship to hand was focused solely on evacuating children. By the time aid from neighboring powers arrived, it was all goneâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "I am sorry. Did this happen recently, or was it all before your time?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Within my lifetime. I was one of those children shoehorned into a fleeing shuttleâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "I see. The Renlore homeworld was lost many millennia ago, and I have not had such a personal experience, but I have heard similar accounts far too often from other Guardians.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Many of us share the Guardians way of thinking when it comes to the sense of duty and preservation of what remains. Though it has not been long enough for new social norms to form" NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Our culture has changed much from the days of the Renlore Empire. The Empire had a military, of course, but we were just as well known for our fine arts and culture in these days. Now, - NPC@annpc#557 - very little new art is created. Some Lorekeepers devote some free time to it, and on occasion a talented Renlore in another profession may pursue art as a hobby, but our lives tend to be more - NPC@annpc#557:- practical now.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"The same for us reallyâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "It is unfortunate to see the same happening in places still yet beyond the Horde's reach. Though I am pleased you understand our way of thinking," she adds with a smile Nikki@crystyl:"It is indeed... refreshing. Even after all they have been through, this Starfleet crew is still borderline sickening with their eternal sunny optimismâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate chuckles, "It is good to have some optimism for once. Some Guardians are starting to believe that it may be possible to beat the Horde and not just keep them back and evacuate worlds as - NPC@annpc#557:- they come. Things can be a little too grim with the Guardians sometimes. But I can also see why too much optimism might get a little annoying.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Yeah, it's a good thing and all. It's just... so damned upbeat! Honestly though, I fear for them. Because when they do come down from this Federation life-high, they're going to crash something awfulâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "I do hope their optimism here isn't unfounded, though. We could use some good news. And if the Arshai fall, that's another significant power consumed by the Horde's advances.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Our projections indicate that if Vue En falls, it's game overâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "We can't let that happen, then. When we got into contact with Commander Skormir concerning the Lodzki super soldier affair, he mentioned that support from another Guardian Chapter was - NPC@annpc#557:- on the way, thanks to that little stealth ship that follows you around.â€ Nikki@crystyl chuckles, "That'll be Captain Vix, the Klingon Defense Force presence on this missionâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Klingons! Yes, that's the name. It turns out that Issandros the Viper, one of the Feral Four, among the greatest Guardian heroes of our generation, is one of those Klingons. He heard - NPC@annpc#557:- about Captain Vix and the Horde advances here and have brought a battle group to assist. He doesn't have that many ships with him, but they are some of the best Guardian vessels for all-out - NPC@annpc#557:- battle, not to mention the effect on the morale of our Chapter to have one of the Feral Four with us.â€ Nikki@crystyl chuckles, "The' Feral Four', I like it. They are fearsome warriors. Sore losers at bar games, but fearsome warriorsâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate laughs, "I don't know what Issandros is like at bar games, but I've heard he is quite a warrior. He's a Guardian-Captain now, but it's said that he regularly spars with and beats young - NPC@annpc#557:- Guardians on his crew. Even Commander Skormir in his prime wouldn't have been a match for a young Issandros.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Oh boy, I can already see Lexi drooling at the prospect of taking him on..." NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "Lexi was the one who won the Zihil Tournament, wasn't she?â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, "Indeed. She's not a Klingon in terms of race, but don't let the outer appearance fool you; she fought her way to an elite leadership position as an outsider in that society. Some would say + Nikki@crystyl:+ that's a greater trial than for a native Klingon to reach her statusâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "Issandros is not a Renlore either, but he was trained by the Renlore, as are all Klingons in the Guardians. He primarily fights with Renlore techniques and commands a Renlore - NPC@annpc#557:- vessel, though I imagine he's picked up much from the other Feral Four as well as the rest of the Guardians. Even Renlore training as it is today is quite heavily influenced by other cultures and - NPC@annpc#557:- quite different from what it was long ago when we were the Renlore Empire.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I imagine so. I understand that the Klingon's with the Guardians only learned that they are of Klingon heritage since you encountered our mission and Captain Vix?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "We freed a number of them from Horde control about two generations or so ago, but we thought they were a local civilization the Horde had consumed without us noticing. I believe - NPC@annpc#557:- Commander Skormir, or maybe one of the Klingon Guardians in our Chapter here, relayed their heritage to the others and that's what piqued Issandros' interest.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"It might also pique their interest to know that Captain Vix is of the House that led that ancient mission out here, and so some of your Klingon descended Guardians could well be of that same Houseâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "It's possible that Issandros himself is. I suppose that's why he wanted to come here and help out, and he heard that the Horde was pushing hard in this area, so he brought some - NPC@annpc#557:- reinforcements.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I am curious... with your historical knowledge of the Guardians and the Horde; how sizeable is this fleet we're facing in proportion to past advances?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "There are accounts that say at the height of the second incarnation of the Guardians, the united Sorobeth-Nuhar front, with some Lupan support, was facing down fleets of up to ten - NPC@annpc#557:- thousand Horde vessels before the Horde changed tactics and went for surgical strikes on Foundry installations. Authenticity is hard to confirm with records that far back, especially with most of - NPC@annpc#557:- the archaeological evidence behind enemy lines, so it could be an exaggeration. Our Rangers have seen Horde gatherings that large in Horde territory, but they often split up and advance - NPC@annpc#557:- down multiple routes once they exit Horde territory.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "The Horde are known for sending more forces once a smaller force is destroyed, but with our style of guerilla tactics, we tend to slowly whittle down their fleets as they advance - NPC@annpc#557:- rather than destroying one directly in a battle, so a lack of numbers is rarely a concern. There was that one time when the Guardian hero Zultas pulled off something similar to what you did, - NPC@annpc#557:- sacrificing himself to detonate an Omega Molecule which wiped out a Horde fleet of a thousand and rendered that region untraversable. The Horde sent a fleet of five thousand around the region and - NPC@annpc#557:- continued their advance a year later. That's the largest single advance we have reliable records of.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Which matches this one, but this one was already well underway before we destroyed the fleet at Terminuâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "It's possible they view our Coalition as a major enough threat to warrant such force, especially as we've foiled their attempts at sabotage through Anarchists so far. The fleet that - NPC@annpc#557:- destroyed the Renlore Empire was said to be only a little over a thousand strong, but the rebellions had done much of the work for them already, and we had no means of resisting their control so - NPC@annpc#557:- we couldn't fight back.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "You've dealt with Horde influence at Vue-En and now in the Lodzki Kingdoms, not to mention that we have a fleet of ships with various means of protection against their control.â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, "It makes sense that they'd see us as a threat after we've contained them so many times overâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "We can't let them take Vue-En, but I'm also worried what will happen if we stop them. So far, they're using approaches known to us- that is, send even more ships when they lose. But as - NPC@annpc#557:- the Sorobeth showed us, they are capable of trying a completely different approach if it seems their usual one is not working. If we stop their fleet, it may be difficult to say what comes next, - NPC@annpc#557:- and that could be more frightening than a larger fleet heading your way. As Intelligence Operations, I'm sure you know how scary not knowing is.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Why do you think I keep asking questionsâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate smiles, "I'll answer all the ones I can. What happens after we stop the fleet at Vue-En, I'm not sure anyone can say, but for the moment, it's probably best to focus on stopping the - NPC@annpc#557:- fleet first. That's still far from a certainty.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Indeed. We've seen our share of engagements back home in recent memory; the Borg, Dominion, Iconians. But most of those paled next to what we're facing now, and we scraped through with our full + Nikki@crystyl:+ strength fleets combined. All we have here is this thrown together 'coalition'. I have my doubts, but I also have faith. As for what will follow... well, for us that will probably mean pushing well+ Nikki@crystyl:+ beyond enemy lines in search of the Heart of Warâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods, "I hope you find it then, and that it does everything we need it to. But for now, we have another civilization to save, and after that, an unprecedented Horde advance to halt."
Ann Carter@anncaris FX | After two days on board the Light of Arindol, the VF team is informed that they have entered the system and are called to the ship's only conference room Lendaria@crystyl strolls in with the rest of the group Ann Carter@anncaris | Captain Daian waits inside with only Valtar and Idate occupying seats to her left and right. The conference room is much smaller than most of the VF's, and clearly only meant to hold meetings - Ann Carter@anncaris - for a senior staff or briefings for a single team Lendaria@crystyl takes a seat, "Hope we didn't keep y'all waitin'?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Not at all. Settle in, and we'll begin our planning for this mission.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris and Lumini take their seats as well. Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "We've conducted preliminary scans of the planet. The population is quite dispersed, and not unusual for a world at this point in development, appear to be at different stages of - Ann Carter@anncaris:- technology, the highest of which has only begun to work on major infrastructure projects such as roads and aqueducts.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"So will ya focus on those more developed for ya pickin' an' choosin', or aim for a broad spread?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Ideally it would be best to take a handful of individuals from every group in order to maximize genetic diversity, but that's going to be problematic here. This civilization is in no - Ann Carter@anncaris:- way united. Most of them don't even know half their species exists on another part of the planet somewhere, and the ones who do know each other likely have rivalries between different groups. If - Ann Carter@anncaris:- we take a few from each group, we're going to have to explain the situation a hundred times to them, and some of them might end up trying to kill each other.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"So a focused spread o'samplin' across them what can play nice together. Makes senseâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "The easiest thing would be to take the entirety of some of the smaller populations. The Lodzki ships we have can carry up to a thousand- more than enough for them to restart their - Ann Carter@anncaris:- population. If we pick samples from various groups, they might still have to leave people behind and it'll be more difficult for them to settle in, but it will be better for genetic diversity. If - Ann Carter@anncaris:- we take the entire population of two or three groups, there'll be less diversity, but they'll be taking their whole lives along with them- friends, family, everything. And we can induct key - Ann Carter@anncaris:- members of their communities as Guardians so they'll be able to better understand the situation and encourage the evacuation.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Well you guys are the experts on this stuff. But mah gut says go wit' the full small groups, s'long as there's still enough genetic diversity so as not t'be a risk to'emâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian nods, "I agree," She taps on the table in front of her and a holoprojection of the planet appears. "I've identified one potential group in a settlement of around 300. If we find two more - Ann Carter@anncaris:- groups of similar size in different regions of the planet. we should have plenty of genetic diversity, and the groups will be too far apart to know one another so we won't have to worry about - Ann Carter@anncaris:- conflict." A red dot appears on the holomap, highlighting the position of the group Daian identified Lendaria@crystyl:"Sounds good. So what can we do to assist?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "There's two things. We're running more detailed scans now, and you head the Science department on the Valley Forge, right?â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Ayeâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "You can help us locate the other two potential groups down in sensor control, and probably a few extra ones just in case we can't convince our first choice to leave. After that, I - Ann Carter@anncaris:- suggest we divide up the work. We don't have much time, and we can't afford to approach all three groups separately. We should split into three teams, if that sounds good with you.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sure thingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "I'll lead one of the teams. The rest of my Guardians don't have experience with this kind of civilization, so I suggest the other team leaders come from your group.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "I assume you'll lead one yourself. Who'd you want leading the third team?â€ Lendaria@crystyl thinks a moment and looks to Nikki, "Whaddaya say?â€ Lendaria@crystyl | Nikki gives her a suspicious look before nodding, "Not a problemâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Looks like we have our leaders, then. How do you want to divide up the rest of your people?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Well definitely want at least one Guardian who knows wha' they'se doin' wit' each group. Kazra's probably a good choice t'go wit' your team tooâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Valtar: "You're a biological expert as well, aren't you?â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Exobiology an' xenolinguistics, yeahâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Valtar: "I'll go with the third team, then, just in case someone with biological or medical knowledge is needed.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini looks to Ann, "I'll go with the third team as well. You go with Lennie's.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sounds goodâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Idate will go with your team as well then, and I'll take another one of my Guardians along with me. Looks like we have the teams settled down. Let's find our other two populations and - Ann Carter@anncaris:- get to work.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "On it!" --- Ann Carter@anncaris:| After selecting the three populations to focus evacuation efforts on, the teams transport down to the surface a small distance away from their destination as to avoid startling the locals. Ann Carter@anncaris:| Lennie, Ann and Idate beam down outside a small village in a dry, rocky part of the planet. They immediately feel the heat of the afternoon sun as they materialize, and there is not a hint of - Ann Carter@anncaris:- a breeze in the air. Their surroundings are not entirely rocks and sand though, as a river cuts through the terrain nearby, with shrubbery and wildlife visible along its banks Ann Carter@anncaris:| In the distance, their destination village can be seen as a collection of small, mud brick houses along one bank of the river with patches of green farmland around the structures. Lendaria@crystyl:looks to Idata, "Sooo... how do you'se normally go about this?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate: "I've never done this before with a civilization of this level. But usually we just attempt to communicate with the locals, try to explain the danger in terms they would understand.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Right. Guess we should, err, jus' stroll on into town thenâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"I guess so. Least the environment here's somewhat familiarâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"A little less humidty'd be nice. Mah hair's gonna frizz like crazy from this" she jokes, trying not to think about what they're doing Ann Carter@anncaris:chuckles, "Tha's true. Think Nikki's team got the nice spot.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| As they begin to approach the village, some of the villagers on the farmlands begin to take note of them. Some of them begin talking amongst themselves, and before long a small crowd had gathered - Ann Carter@anncaris:- by the village's edge Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate: "Looks like we have a welcoming party.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh joy" she grumbles before putting on a friendly smile and waving, "Hello there friends!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| As they get close enough to make out details, they see that the locals look like a typical Children species, with the main distinguishing feature being a set of ridges that run down the side of - Ann Carter@anncaris:- their noses and along the top of their nostrils. The aliens take note of the newcomers features as well and begin looking at one another with varying expressions of uncertainty and shock Ann Carter@anncaris:| When Lennie addresses them, one of the older-looking males in front suddenly drops to his knees, and the rest of the crowd soon follow Lendaria@crystyl:facepalms, "No no, please that's not necessary. We are just humble visitors from, uh... up north. Way up north..." she offers, moving to encourage the old man to his feet Ann Carter@anncaris:| The old man begins speaking something in an alien language, and the crowd begins to follow as well. The UT works away at deciphering the language, but isn't quite there yet... Ann Carter@anncaris:glances to Lennie, "Tha's not a good sign, is itâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Give it a minute..." she looks to the old man, speaking slowly and clearly, "Please, it is hard to understand you. Slow down - I know! What is your name?" she asks, before repeating with a hand + Lendaria@crystyl:+ gesture towards him, "Your name?" gesturing herself, "Lennie" and again to him Ann Carter@anncaris:| The old man stares up wide-eyed at Lennie as she speaks. The last bit seems to get through to him, and when he speaks this time, the UT manages to catch on, "I-I am Shar-Dulen. We-welcome t-to - Ann Carter@anncaris:- our humble village, Lady Nimran. We...we are greatly honoured by your...magnificent presence, my lady.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:looks to the others briefly with confusion, then back to him, "Nimran?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Shar-Dulen: "Yes, tha-that is what the people of this land know you as, my lady. Though...though I have heard travelers call you by other names. Would you prefer, what was it...Nidana?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Shar-Dulen: "Perhaps...Nimhossan?" Lendaria@crystyl:shakes her head vaguely, "I think you have me mistaken" she smiles patiently, "Just call me Lennie. These are my friends, Ann and Idate" Ann Carter@anncaris:| Shar-Dulen: "Lennie it is, then. Please, come, come." He looks to a female beside him, "Rav-Shaan, tell this news to the Master. Have him prepare the guest hall. Ann Carter@anncaris:| Rav-Shaan: "Right away," She stands and nods before running off Lendaria@crystyl:"You really don't need to make a fuss on our account, we have no wish to be a burden on your villageâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Shar-Dulen: "Nonsense! You will have the best banquet we are able to provide! Come, I will take you to the guest hall and to the Master of the village." Lendaria@crystyl:"Well, if you insistâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| The old man leads them through the village, where the villages who didn't gather at the entrance all look to the group in awe, with some dropping to their knees and bowing their heads as they - Ann Carter@anncaris:- pass by. Soon, they reach a structure visibly larger than the others, though still made of mud brick. Shar-Dulen opens the door and holds it open for them as he gestures for them to enter Lendaria@crystyl:bows her head in gratitude as she enters Ann Carter@anncaris:| Inside the structure is a medium-sized table with two benches on either side of it. Two of the aliens, one male and one female, are hurriedly setting up the table, putting clay plates with fruits - Ann Carter@anncaris:- atop them. As the group enters, the two stop what they are doing and turn, each giving them a bow Ann Carter@anncaris:| From further in the building, a medium-aged alien man appears. He is younger than Shar-Dulen but older than the two setting the tables. His robes seem to be of the same fabric as those worn by - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the other villagers, but there is a visible effort to decorate it with more elaborate imagery rather than simple patterns. Ann Carter@anncaris:| Village Master: "So it is true...Lady Nimran graces my humble home..." He immediately drops to his knees as wellâ€ Lendaria@crystyl:"N-..." she sighs, again moving to encourage him to his feet, "Please, that really isn't necessary. My name is Lennie, you are the village master right?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Village Master: "Yes. I am Maar-Jadeen, Master of this village. We had not had time to prepare for your arrival, so we have only these fruits from the temple. We are preparing the roast now, and - Ann Carter@anncaris:- more food will be ready for you soon.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"That really isn't necessary! Please, any more fuss and it will just be embarrassing. We have travelled far to come see, and wish only to talk with youâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen stands slowly, but still gazes up at Lennie with reverence in his eyes, "If it is your command, I will ask them not to prepare the roast.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:smiles gently, "Command is such a rigid term. I prefer... humble requestâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen nods over to the male serving the table, and he quickly rushes off. The village master motions to the table, "Come, sit, and tell us why you have come to our village, my lady. Lendaria@crystyl:bows her head gratiously as she takes a seat at what she estimates to be a nondescript seat halfway down the table, as opposed to a place of importance, "Thank you Maar-Jadeen. If I may; how is it + Lendaria@crystyl:+ that you recognized me as, um, Nimran?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:and Idate likewise take a seat beside Lennie Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen sits opposite the table from the group, "Why, it is evident! Even in your physical form, you are more beautiful than any mortal can hope to be. And your skin- as lush as the most - Ann Carter@anncaris:- fertile field. It is exactly as the stories describe you, my lady!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Just like in the stories, huh? Just my luck... Ok, so let's say I've been out of touch for a while; what exactly do these stories say? I mean, are they just tales of times gone by, or prophecies of + Lendaria@crystyl:+ things to come?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "Mostly of things that have occurred already. Of the creation of the world and shaping of the people. Of the majesty of the gods so we know those we must give praise to for the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- floods and the rains. Is this a test of my faith, my lady?" Lendaria@crystyl:"No no, just curious!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "This is about the harvest, isn't it? We had a most bountiful harvest this year, and you have given us this gift because you come to seek something of us!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"You're... almost right! In fact... because you have all worked so hard on your harvest, we've, um... come to reward you!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "Truly? You have given us much this year, we cannot ask any more of youâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Nonsense! You have simply been given the means to excel, and excel you have!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "I thank you, my lady. What have you come to offer us then, if you are not here to collect something from us?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We have come... to invite you to join us! You have toiled here long enough; you have grown and more than earned your place at our sideâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "To join the gods? Our humble village has earned such an honour?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:smiles wide, "Of course! Why else would we be here?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "That...would explain why you have come in person. You honour us, my lady. It is...I have never dreamed of such a thing for myself and my people.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"There is one, um... final challenge, I guess you could say? We have but a limited time here you see. That means we must prepare your village to leave immediately" she looks to Idate, "How long can + Lendaria@crystyl:+ we give them?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate: "We should leave as soon as possible, but the other teams may have more challenges and need additional time anyways. Preferably we shall leave in a day, but we can afford two if - Ann Carter@anncaris:- we must.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:looks back to MJ, "1 day. Can you do it, for me?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "Of course. I will tell my people to be ready in a day. Will we need to bring anything specific with us?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:hrms, "We are going on a long journey together, but you will not need to worry about food or supplies. But keep in mind that we shall never return here, so take only the important things that remind + Lendaria@crystyl:+ of who you are and how you came from; your stories and records - that kind of thing. We will stay and help as much as we canâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen nods, "I understand. We will gather up all such things and be ready for the journey in a day. Shall we meet you in any particular place?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"No that's fine, we shall return here when it is timeâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "We will expect you in a day then, my lady. I give you my thanks again for bestowing such an honour upon us. We will not disappoint you.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I know you won't" she smiles, "Now, do you want us to leave you alone to prepare? Or - if you like - we can stay and help prepare you for the road aheadâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "You know best what lies on the road ahead, and we would appreciate any assistance you are willing to provide, but we cannot ask you to stay if you do not wish to. But everything we - Ann Carter@anncaris:- have is at your disposal, should you wish to remain with us for the day.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:glances to the others, "I will not presume to speak for my friends here. But I for one welcome the opportunity to enjoy your beautiful village while I canâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate nods, "Me too.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"It'd definitely be an interestin' experience!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"In that case... we'd better prepare that roast of yours! How about a nice big celebration meal for the whole village?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "A brilliant idea! The guest hall is too small for the entire village, but it is a good day outside. We shall prepare the roast and the village shall feast outside together this - Ann Carter@anncaris:- evening! You say we will not need to bring food supplies with us?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"That's right! So let's enjoy the fruits of your labour now!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "An excellent idea!" He nods to the female serving the table, "Have the feast preparations start. I will ensure everyone from the village is there so I can tell them the good news - Ann Carter@anncaris:- at all once!" He stands and heads to the door, looking back to Lennie and the others, "Make yourselves at home here! The feast will soon be ready, you will not miss the fires in the middle of the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- village, or all the people gathered there!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:beams excitedly, "I look forward to it!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen smiles back and gives a bow before he heads out, with Shar-Dulen following after him, leaving the three alone in the guest hall Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate looks to Lennie, "That was easier than I expected.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"All we've done is delay the hard partâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Yeah...how're we gonna explain tha' to 'em? They think you're a goddess or somethin'!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We'se got a day t'figure it out. F'now though, I'm-a thinkin' t'let 'em carry on wit' this thinkin' an' use th'time t'paint a picture o'th'real voyageâ€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Once they'se on board wit' us, we can acclimatize 'em to th'fact we ain't godsâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate nods, "At least we have them willing to come with us. If we have to, we can ask some of them to join the Guardians, and it will be easier for them to explain things to the rest of them.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"In th'meantime, we should start explainin' to'em how this journey'll work. What wit' bein' on a starship an' allâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"How'd we explain tha'? They probably don't even know wha' space is yetâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Still workin' on tha' oneâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate: "I saw some boats by the water, so at least they should know what a ship is. That's better than nothing.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"It's a start" she nods --- NPC@annpc#557:| Nikki, Lumini and Valtar beam down to a tropical beach buzzing with alien life. A small group of crustaceans scuttle away from the group as they materialize, while a flock of colourful, - NPC@annpc#557:- quad-winged creatures take flight from a nearby treeline of palm-like trees, emitting a ringing-like noise as they go. Rustling continues in the leaves, revealing small primates with large black - NPC@annpc#557:- adorable eyes that apparently chased the avians out. Several reptiles the size of small alligators bask in the sun further down the beach, ignoring the new arrivals NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "Well, we picked a pleasant place to visit.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "A little too warm for my tastes.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"A little too pleasant if you ask meâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini nods, "I agree. Are we sure we're close to the locals we identified?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar takes out a scanner and checks, "They're further inland. We just can't see their structures from here.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Best find our way to a place we can see them from then" she starts walking in the presumed direction NPC@annpc#557:| The group proceed inland, past the beach and into the trees. Every once in a while, Valtar checks his scanner, and a few minutes later he announces, "We've got locals moving towards us.â€ Nikki@crystyl:pauses, trying to spot them NPC@annpc#557:| Nikki sees no trace of the locals around them, but the tree cover is getting thicker at this point inland NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "I think they're hiding from us, but watching.â€ Nikki@crystyl:tries calling out, "We know you are out there. We mean you no harmâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Nikki begins to hear rustling among the grass and the leaves. Before long, one of the locals leap out, a spear pointed at the group, then another, and another until the three are surrounded. - NPC@annpc#557:- Several locals can be seen atop the non-palm trees, perfectly balanced on branches with throwing spears ready. These locals have the same nose-ridges as the one encountered by Lennie's team, but - NPC@annpc#557:- of a more tanned complexion. They all appear to have bright red hair at first glance, but upon closer examination, it is the result of some substance applied to their hair rather than natural - NPC@annpc#557:- pigmentation, and the blacks and dark browns of their actual hair colour can still be seen in places Nikki@crystyl:holds her hands up non-threateningly, "Woah now, no harm. Understand? We don't want to hurt youâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini and Valtar follows suit. The locals don't seem to understand and shout something in their own language that the UT has not yet picked up Nikki@crystyl:grunts impatiently, "Slow down. Just... relax, we're friendly. Everybody's friendlyâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| The locals glance to one another, speaking some more in their own language. One of them lowers his spear and motions to another, who also lowers the spear and tosses the first one a coil of rope Nikki@crystyl:"I don't like where this is goingâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "Me neither, but we're not exactly in a position to resist anymore with their spears pointed at usâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557:| The first local to lower his spear hands the rope to a female beside him before handing his spear to a male on his right Nikki@crystyl:"I'm pretty sure I could draw my pistol before they could reactâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| The female with the rope suddenly looks to the three, "You speak our tongue.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "Finally. About time the translator kicked in.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Yes! Well, we do now as far as you know. It took us a minute to learnâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| The male who passed his spear on looks over the three judgmentally, "You are Kuna Kalamori. Why have you come to our land? Nikki@crystyl:"I don't know what 'Kuna Kalamori' means. We are visitorsâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "Your appearances are changed by the sea," he points to Nikki, "You are too green," then to Lumini, "You are too blue," then Valtar, "And you...are much changed. You are Kuna Kalamori, - NPC@annpc#557:- those who died to the sea and never properly laid to rest.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Female Alien: "Do you remember what your names were in life?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Oh boy, you think we're undead? I hate to break it to you but we are very much alive" NPC@annpc#557:| Female Alien: "So you are not dead? Then who are you, and why have you come to our land?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"We are travellers from a far away land. We learned that these, um... well I guess Kuna Kalamori of a sort, are on their way to your landâ€ Nikki@crystyl:"So we have come to help you escape before they arriveâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "Is that so? You look more like Kuna Kalamori yourselves. Especially that one," he looks to Valtar Nikki@crystyl:"Yeah... you think that's bad, you really don't want to see the ones that are heading this wayâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "Hey, I'm not /that/ bad looking.â€ Nikki@crystyl:chuckles, "Don't tell me, tell them that!â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Female Alien: "Let's take them to the Matron. She will know if they speak truth.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "We bind them first. We will not let them threaten the tribe.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I assure you that is not necessary" NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "What if you are Kuna Kalamori? We cannot afford to have you loose if that is the case.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "All of you can't take on the three of us?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "The Kuna Kalamori are said to have the strength of ten warriors.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "I may be bigger than you, but I wish I was that strong. Besides, if I were that strong," she glances at the coil of rope, "do you really think that would hold me?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Female Alien: "...she has a point.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "Fine. You lead the way, Holuma-Slayer. The rest of the warriors will stay behind the strangers.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| The female alien, Holuma-Slayer, tosses the rope back to the one who carried it before and turns to lead, "Follow close.â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods and follows close as instructed NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini and Valtar follows as well, with the warriors falling in behind them, spears still at the ready. NPC@annpc#557:| After some more walking, they reach a settlement of wooden structures. The locals examine the newcomers as they enter but keep their distance, the ones in or close to their way scrambling off - NPC@annpc#557:- like the crustaceans on the beach. The aliens of the settlement all have painted hair colours, though of varying hues. Nikki notes that all the ones with red-coloured hair are armed with spears, - NPC@annpc#557:- clubs or some other form of weapon, while some of the others with similarly painted hair seem to be gathered close together in or around certain buildings, often doing the same tasks. Nikki@crystyl:observes quietly as they are led through the village NPC@annpc#557:| The group are led to a large round building in the centre of the settlement, with several warriors following them in, spears held ready. The building seems to be filled exclusively with females, - NPC@annpc#557:- all of them with hair painted bright yellow save for one female who looks older than the rest sporting purple hair and seated on a fancily carved wooden bench. NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer speaks as they enter, "We found these strangers entering our land but no trace of any boats they may have come in on.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "I suspect that they are Kuna Kalamori, but they speak our tongue and claim to be here to help us.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| The older female stands from her bench, looking them over, "Is this true? I have never seen anyone like you, but you do not look quite monstrous enough to be Kuna Kalamori!" she laughs Nikki@crystyl:"We are from a far distant place. But if our understanding of 'Kuna Kalamori' is correct, then I can assure you we are very much aliveâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Matron: "You seem alive to me, and not part sea-creature. Though I must admit that your appearances are unusual. Tell me, why do you come to our land, and how have you come without ship?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"We came because we discovered a great army of Kuna Kalamori heading this way and wish only to help you escapeâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Matron: "Escape? You want us to move to another island?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"In a manner of speakingâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Matron: "And how do I know your intentions are sincere? How do I know you do not simply wish us to move so you can come and take our land without a fight?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Because we have the power to remove you all by force if we wanted to. But instead, we have come here to show you that we are your friendsâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Matron: "And if we do not move...will you force us to?â€ Nikki@crystyl:shakes her head, "No. If you do not move, you will be left here to be consumed by the approaching army. It is your choice in the end, we wish only to present it to youâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| The Matron considers for a moment before looking back to the three, "If you can present some proof of this army, then I will move. But I cannot rely solely on the word of strangers to our land.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Understandable. Proof is readily available, if you will indulge a brief trip back to our ship?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Matron: "But...you did not arrive on a ship. Is that not what Holuma-Slayer says?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "I have seen no boats or ships on the coast, Matron.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"There are no ships on the waters off your coast, this is trueâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Matron: "Then where is your ship?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"in the sky above usâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Matron: "In the sky? You have flying-ships?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Yes, and we can show you quite easily if you will permit itâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "Matron, let us go. We cannot yet be certain of the intention of these strangers.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Or my team can stay here while I take you back to the ship. As a guarantee that I will return you safely" she offers to the Matron NPC@annpc#557:| Male Alien: "Let us come with you, then.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| The Matron nods, "Very well. Broken-Spear and Far-Throw will come with me. Three of us to your ship, and three of you remaining here.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"That is fair" she steps back, looking to the others, "Try to make yourselves comfortable" she smiles Nikki@crystyl:"Please, join me here" she instructs the Matron and her guards NPC@annpc#557:| The Matron and her hand picked guards follow Nikki, joining her where she indicates Nikki@crystyl:"Now, this may feel a little disorientating. Just... try to stay calm and remember, I am right here with youâ€ Nikki@crystyl taps her wristcomm, "This is t'Rllaillieu. 4 to transport at my position" NPC@annpc#557:| Nikki and the three aliens disappear into transporter beams... --- Ann Carter@anncaris:| An hour later, the team is gathered outside the village where large roasts have been lit and the villagers are preparing their grand feast. As they watch the villagers prepare their food, one of - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the alien females approach them, dropping to her knees before Lennie, "You...are Nimran in mortal form?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:shifts awkwardly, "So everyone keeps telling me. But I prefer just plain and simple Lennie" she smiles, encouraging her back up, "What's your name?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Female Alien: "I am Bata-Ilsi. I seek your aid, my lady.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Is something wrong? I'll gladly help if I canâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Bata-Ilsi: "You are the goddess of fertility for both the land and the people. I have been wed to my husband for four years, but I have been unable to have child. I humbly ask my lady to grant me - Ann Carter@anncaris:- your boons, so that I may have a family.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"My, uh... boons you say. Right, well, um..." she pats herself down like trying to see what pocket her 'boons' are in before she gets an idea, "Alright Bata-Ilsi, just sit yourself down here a sec" Lendaria@crystyl:+ she steers the girl to a nearby bench Ann Carter@anncaris:| The woman nods and sits down on the bench, "Thank you, my lady!â€ Lendaria@crystyl:stands behind her with a hand on her shoulder, mostly to keep her facing away while she pulls out her tricorder and scans the girl Ann Carter@anncaris:| The tricorder results come back and does not detect any outstanding issues with her Lendaria@crystyl:is a little disappointed by the result. Folding it away she sees no choice but to keep playing along now so sets her other hand on the girls shoulder and bows her head, softly speaking a prayer to + Lendaria@crystyl:+ the Goddess in her best High Orion Ann Carter@anncaris:| Bata-Ilsi looks up at Lennie with a bright smile, "You have my eternal gratitude, my lady!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate looks over at the scan results curiously, "Did you find something?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:smiles back at the girl, "Just believe in yourself and your love, the rest will come" before she scurries off Lendaria@crystyl:turns back to idate shaking her head lightly, "Not a thingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate: "She said she has a husband, which means the locals practice monogamy. Maybe it's him that's the problem. We Guardians are quite knowledgeable in such things as we have to ensure the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- survival of many endangered species, and we find that it's the male's issue as often as it is the female's. And sometimes, the wrong pairing just aren't able to have children even if the two - Ann Carter@anncaris:- are perfectly fine, though these cases are rare.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:nods, "It's a fair chance, and I will keep an eye out for the husband. Maybe I can find something with him that can be helpedâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Idate: "That could be a good idea. We will have to help them repopulate sooner or later, after all. Just...don't get too carried away with this goddess business.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Believe me, I'm trying super hard not to!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:FX | Lennie's combadge suddenly chirps Lendaria@crystyl:taps, "Lennie 'ereâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:<C - Daian> This is Captain Daian. How is the convincing going Lendaria@crystyl:"We lucked out an' these folks're listenin'. We'se helpin' 'em pack up an' prepare for th'journey nowâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:<C - Daian> Excellent. Can I have a confirmation of how many are in your group? Lendaria@crystyl:checks her tricorder for the number of lifeform Ann Carter@anncaris:| She picks up 309 of the alien lifeforms Lendaria@crystyl:"we got... 309 in this villageâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:<C - Daian> 309...got it. Thank you, Commander, and I hope your luck holds up. Lendaria@crystyl:"You an' me bothâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Not long after the call ends, the village master approaches the group with a smile, "The feast is almost ready to begin! The meats will take a little longer to cook, but we will begin on the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- other food soon. Shall I give the rest of the people the good news? Assuming the others in the guest hall with us had not spread it alreadyâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We would not want to deny you the honour" she smiles Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "I will inform the people then." He steps up to the most central fire and calls out, "Everyone! Gather around! Gather around!" Ann Carter@anncaris:| The villagers halt their conversations and stop what they are doing to gather around the fires, with the exception of the ones cooking the food who continue to work, though most of their - Ann Carter@anncaris:- attention is clearly on the village Master. The villagers give the three members of the team plenty of room but crowd one another as they listen to their leader speak Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "As many of you are probably aware by now, we have been graced with the presence of a goddess, Nimran! Or Lennie, as she prefers to be called," he glances to Lennie to make sure he - Ann Carter@anncaris:- got the name rightâ€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, Lennie. That's meâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "But that is not all! She has seen fit to reward us for our faith, our love, and our unyielding work upon the land! She has invited us to join her where the gods are!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Cheering breaks out among the crowd, which soon turns into a form of chant as one villager drops to her knees, then another and another until the entire village is kneeling around them and chanting Lendaria@crystyl:"Well, at least they're keen..." she mutters to the others Ann Carter@anncaris:"Maybe a lil too keenâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We'll get them safe, then it'll all come good I'm sureâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:nods, "We can do this, Lennie. I'm sure o' it.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Meanwhile as the chanting dies down, Maar-Jadeen continues, "We will have to leave our homes behind and be ready to leave within a day, but Lennie has told us to bring only our tablets and - Ann Carter@anncaris:- heirlooms and anything with personal or cultural significance, for in the realm of the gods all else shall be provided for us!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Cheers erupt through the crowd once again, which eventually die down, and Maar-Jadeen continues Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "Remember, we must be ready in a day. So tonight we will feast, and tomorrow we will prepare for our journey!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| The villagers begin to cheer once again as Maar-Jadeen looks to Lennie, "Is there anything you would like to add, my lady?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I think the less I say the better... but we will be here to help prepare you for the journey aheadâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "We shall welcome your assistance, and thank you for all you have done for us so far! Come, let us begin the feast and offer the first toast to Lady Lennie!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| The villagers begin to move again, now crowding by several groups of clay jugs. They each bring small bowls and drinking vessels as a few villages pour the drinks from inside the jugs for everyone Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen grabs his own drink before raising it in the air, "To Lennie, the Harbinger of Harvests and the Lady of Love, to whom we owe all our lives, whether for our birth or our food!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| The villagers all join in on his toast before downing their drinks, and then the feast proper begins... Lendaria@crystyl:pinches the bridge of her nose, "This's gonna be a long day..." --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | Nikki and the three aliens transport onto the Light of Arindol. All three of them look around with visible surprise on their expressions as they try to comprehend what just happened and - NPC@annpc#557:- where they are now NPC@annpc#557 | Broken-Spear: "What was that? Where have you taken us?â€ Nikki@crystyl turns to them, "To our skyship as promisedâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Far-Throw: "We've...been teleported?â€ Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Very astute Far-Throw. You have an admirable capacity for comprehending new conceptsâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron takes in her new surroundings before looking to Nikki as well, "This...is a /ship/? It looks more like one of the highlanders' fortressesâ€¦â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I know this is difficult to comprehend. But this ship does not sail on the seas, we are high above what you know as the world. This ship allows us to travel between the stars of the night skyâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Far-Throw: "The stars of the sky? You must be like gods to reach so high. Do you sail among the clouds and to the sun as well?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"In a sense. It is likely a different than you imagine right now, but I don't wish to swamp you with information here. You wanted proof of the threat to your peopleâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron nods, "Yes, that is right. I must know this threat is real before I decide the fate of my people.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Please, follow me. And... try to relax, you are in a safe place hereâ€ Nikki@crystyl leads the way to an observation lounge with a view of the plane NPC@annpc#557:| The three aliens follow, looking around and taking in their new surroundings with interest Nikki@crystyl leads them to a window, "Tell me, do you have a name for the land you call home?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "We...have a name for our island, and the other islands we know of, one of which the stories say our tribe originated from long ago before splitting off.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"No word then for the world you know all these islands are on?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron shakes her head, "No. It is simply...the world. We do not need another name for it.â€ Nikki@crystyl indicates the planet below them from the window, "Then let me introduce to you; the world, as we see itâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Broken-Spear: "We have always thought it on the back of a great alepu. This looks...different from what I thought.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I bet it does. You see, all the stars in the night sky are like your sun. And many of them have worlds like yours with themâ€ Nikki@crystyl:"It is from one such distant world that this threat travels fromâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "So that is why you ask for a name for our world. There is more than one. But how do we know this threat is real? We can see the stars from our land at night, yet we have seen no army.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Not yet, but it is coming. In countless flying fortresses like ours. I can show you if you likeâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron nods, "Show me.â€ Nikki@crystyl moves to a console on the far wall where she calls up the sensor feed of the approaching fleet Nikki@crystyl:"Our name for them is the Horde. This is their fleet of skyships which will arrive at your world in a matter of days from nowâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | The three aliens look on and Broken-Spear turns to the Matron, "These are just illusions and images they are conjuring up! We cannot be sure these are actual skyships heading to our land!â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Far-Throw: "But one thing is for sure- with their teleportation powers, they /can/ truly remove us all by force if they wished.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron nods, "Which means they would have no reason to lie about everything else. But I would like to see more of this 'Horde.'â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, changing the image to cycle through the different known thralls. Nikki@crystyl:"These are the thralls of the Horde, and what they want to make you all intoâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "They can transform us into monsters like that?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Your word for them - what you thought we were at first - is surprisingly appropriate. These thralls are not the people they were born as, they are dead. In fact, many know this Horde fleet as 'the + Nikki@crystyl:+ Army of the Dead', for it destroys all life it encounters, and consumes it to grow itselfâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "How then can we flee from them, if they come from the stars? Will any island be safe?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"We can take you with us to a safe placeâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "And where would this safe place be?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"A distant starâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Broken-Spear: "We cannot believe her, Matron! She is clearly using our own stories against us, as some...trick!â€ Nikki@crystyl tilts her head, "Your... stories?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Broken-Spear: "The old tales of the Kuna Kalamori and the like! You fashioned those monsters from our legends to make us vacate our land!â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "As Far-Throw said, why would people who can teleport and sail the stars need to trick us in such a way?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"We would not. And for the record, I did not even know you have stories, let alone what they saidâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Broken-Spear motions around him, "How do we know all this is not some trick, an illusion conjured up around us while we had not been teleported to their ship at all?â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "Think, Broken-Spear, think! If they can conjure such an illusion...why not just conjure an army of invading Kuna Kalamori and drive us from our land, if their goal is to take it - NPC@annpc#557:- without a fight? Why go through all this trouble of creating a skyship and speaking of other worlds among the stars? This is too elaborate to be a trick.â€ Nikki@crystyl listens patiently while they puzzle it through NPC@annpc#557 | Broken-Spear finally takes a step back and nods, "Yes, Matron. You are right. I am no trickster by nature, but it does not take one to see that there are far easier and more convincing ways to - NPC@annpc#557:- trick us.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron nods, "And that is why I am inclined to believe her, the more unbelievable her words are." She looks to Nikki again, "You will ferry our people to this distant star?" Nikki@crystyl nods, "Yes. We have the means to provide for you along the way, so you don't need to worry about supplies. I recommend packing anything which is essential to who you are; you mentioned stories for + Nikki@crystyl:+example, if they are documented somewhereâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "They are remembered and told and passed down through the ages. Though some are carved in caves at the heart of the island. Do you have a means of bringing that with you?" Nikki@crystyl hrms, "Not the cave itself, but we can take an accurate picture so that you may recreate it one dayâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron smiles, "That will do. And you may teleport us back to our island?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"As soon as you are ready. My team is at your disposal to help prepare your village to leave, or not, as you see fit. But we must leave within a dayâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | Matron: "Will we have to bring supplies? Food, tools, hunting weapons?" Nikki@crystyl shakes her head, "It is not necessary as we have all that you will need here. That said, we will not forbid you from bringing anything like that with you if you wishâ€ NPC@annpc#557 | The Matron nods, "It will not take us long to prepare if we do not need to gather our supplies, then. Take me back to the island, and I will tell my people to make their preparations.â€ Nikki@crystyl bows her head, "Then it is time. Come, we will return at once" she smiles, leading them back to the transporterâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Nikki and the three aliens beam back down to where they departed from. A few of the local warriors step over and open the door to the hut and Lumini and Valtar step back out NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "Finally. I told you they would be back safe!" he looks to Nikki, "You have no idea how difficult explaining the transportation was to themâ€¦â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I imagine" she smiles, "Take solace in the fact that it was worth itâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "They're coming with us, then?â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods, "Yes, we have come to an understandingâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "Excellent. They'll be ready to go in a day, then?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Matron assure me they will be ready. In return, we are going to help them preserve some of their writings from a nearby caveâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| The Matron nods, "I will inform the tribe that we will be going with you. Holuma-Slayer can lead you to the cave.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Do you have any holo-imaging equipment on board?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar nods, "We do. We don't have the capacity to create an entire holographic environment like your ship though, but we can easily convert our holo-imaging to be compatible for display in the - NPC@annpc#557:- Valley Forge's holodecks.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"That's fine. These people's stories are written on those walls. We just want to take a record so they can be reconstructed later onâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "I'll signal the Light of Arindol to beam down the equipment.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Then we should make our way to the cave entrance and have it sent down thereâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer nods, "Follow me. The Matron has asked me to show you the way.â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods and follows NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer begins to lead the way through the village and past it, into the wilderness of the island beyond, filled with alien flora and fauna all around themâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "So the Matron has deemed that you speak the truth, then? That there is an army of Kuna Kalamori coming towards us?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Yes and yesâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "And this army- it is impossible to fight it?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"With the tools you have, yes. We stand with a growing army that aims to do just that thoughâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Why do they come for us, then? Is it because we do not have the weapons or powers to stand against them?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"They come for you because you exist and you are in their wayâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "So they wish only to pass through our land?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"No. They wish to destroy all life here and bring back those they killed as part of their own armyâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "But what if they run out of life to destroy?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "I don't think they considered that. And they can reproduce among themselves and spread further, to other...places.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Then I hope your army can stop them.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"As do weâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer continues the rest of the journey in silence, and before long they arrive at the mouth of the cave leading deep into the centre of the island, "Here we are.â€ Nikki@crystyl:looks at the cave, "If there are any behaviours or rituals you need us to observe. Now is the timeâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "We occasionally hold ceremony in here, but there is no ritual required for you to simply enter the cave.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Very well then" she looks to Valtar, "Let's get that gear sent down and get to work thenâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar nods and calls the Light of Arindol, and a few seconds later, something that looks like a very large scanner materializes in front of him. He picks it up and taps on its interface a few - NPC@annpc#557:- times before nodding, "We are ready.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Alright then. You've got the scanner, so we'll follow your leadâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer, meanwhile, has taken up a torch in a spot just inside the cave, beginning to work on lighting a fire Nikki@crystyl:follows, observing curiously but staying out of the way of the imaging NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer quickly lights up the torch while Valtar walks by, looking at her curiously, "What are you doing?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "It is dark deep inside the cave.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "Oh, that won't be necessary," he taps his imaging device and a bright flashlight emits from it, causing Holuma-Slayer to jump back before she slowly peers forward, examining the deviceâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "You have such curious things. Where is the light coming from? I see no fire insideâ€¦â€ Nikki@crystyl:can't help but smile at the reaction, "It's ok. It's just a different kind of torch, one that does not use fireâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer holds her torch still just in case as the group proceed into the cave, "How do you have light without fire? Do you tap into the powers of the sun?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Not the sun. It, um... well, think of is like having it's own little source of power to tap intoâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Interesting. Does that box contain its own sun, then?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Not a sun, we call it a battery. But it serves the same purpose insofar that it is a source of power the device uses to generate the lightâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Can it last longer than a torch?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Very much longer I would guessâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "That sounds very useful to have. Like many of the other things such as the...teleporters.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"All matters of understanding and development" she considers HS and her curiosity a moment, "Tell me; your torch - how is it that you can craft a lasting flame on a single piece of wood?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "We dip cloth in oils created from the Ulake-fruit, and then wrap that cloth around the wood. When we light the wood, the fire burns for some time. There is another type of - NPC@annpc#557:- oil invented by the Keane tribe which uses a substance from the heart of the Keane Mountain mixed with the juice of the Hanni-fruit. That type of torch does not even go out in water, but we have - NPC@annpc#557:- only a few such torches as we must trade with the Keane tribe for the substance.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar: "This Keane Mountain must be a volcano. They're probably using a sulfur mixture.â€ Nikki@crystyl:smiles, "Such ingenuity! So over time your ancestors learned to do these new things - to invent newer and better ways than simply starting a flame to a piece of kindling which quickly burns outâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer smiles proudly in the torchlight, "Yes. We did.â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods towards Valtar wielding the scanners torch, "Exactly as we have done over timeâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| As they walk, the flashlight from Valtar's device begins to reveal cave paintings throughout the cave, and the Guardian doctor pans over them slowly, capturing the images and the layout of the cave NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer watches curiously, "So it is not magic?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"No more than those underwater torches would have first appeared to be magic to your ancestors the first time they saw themâ€ Nikki@crystyl:"The term magic is often applied to the inexplicable. We have the same issue ourselves, even for our technology. There are still things we find which we do not understand, and some could see as + Nikki@crystyl:+ magical or even divine. But that is only because we have not yet learned to understand those thingsâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "There are things even you do not understand? You seem to know so much and be capable of so much.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"There is much to know out there among the stars. So much it is impossible for anyone to truly know all of itâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "I wish to sail among the stars one day like you do.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"And you may well get that chance once we are underwayâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Really? I thought we were fleeing to another island. Are you taking us with you?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"We will all leave here together on our ship, and your people will be taken to this... island that is safe. But it is not beyond the realm of possibility that willing and capable fighters from your + Nikki@crystyl:+ people can enlist to stand against this Army of the Dead with the rest of usâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Will you supply us with the tools we need to fight this army?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Of course. Those of you who choose to fight will be provided the tools and training to do soâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Then I am sure many of us warriors would like to join. It is our role to protect the tribe, and fighting is what we are good at.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I am confident your support will be welcomed. But now is not the time to think on such things, first we must get your people to safety. Once we are away, I will ensure that everything is explained + Nikki@crystyl:+ in full detail to you all so that you can make an informed decisionâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer nods, "Yes, we must first leave our homes here. I hope-â€ NPC@annpc#557:| She is interrupted as Nikki's comm rings Nikki@crystyl:"Apologies, please excuse me a moment" she steps away, tapping her wristcomp NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> Subcommander. How are things going with your team? Nikki@crystyl:"Very well. The village is preparing to evacuate now and we are just assiting with a capture of their limited written history NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> A capture? I presume it's written on something we can't take with us? Nikki@crystyl:"That was my assessment, yes Captain. We are talking cave drawings hereâ€ NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> Good idea. I just need to confirm- how many locals are you bringing along in your group? Nikki@crystyl:checks her wristcomp for the count NPC@annpc#557:| There are 192 locals among the tribe Nikki@crystyl:"We have... 192 in this villageâ€ NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> "192..." she pauses for a while after repeating the number before speaking again, "I think we can make this work. I'll need to confirm with the Lodzki ships that'll be carrying them.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Also just a heads up Captain, but I think a fair portion of this group will be looking to join your ranksâ€ NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> We don't have the means to induct too many, but they won't be at immediate threat of falling under Horde control on the evacuation so we'll keep them in the recruit phase in the - NPC@annpc#557:- meantime anyways. We'll have to teach them to use our equipment first anyways, and how to handle the different types of thralls. Nikki@crystyl:"Naturally. Considering their level of development, they have shown a surprising aptitude for comprehension so I am confident in their capacity to adaptâ€ NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> I hope so. The ones I'm seeing here are quite intelligent as well. In a few generations once they start growing up with our technology, they'll fit in perfectly. Nikki@crystyl:"I concur. Do you require any assistance with your group?â€ NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> No. Not unless...anyone in your group has any experience with animal husbandry? Nikki@crystyl:"Um..." she glances over her shoulder, "I don't... think soâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557:<C - Daian> I'll handle it, then. You focus on your group, Subcommander. Nikki@crystyl:"Of course. Good luck with the whole... animal thingâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Daian chuckles on the other side of the comm, "Thank you.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| As the comm ends, Nikki finds Holuma-Slayer staring at her curiously with torch in hand, "Where...did that other voice come from?â€ Nikki@crystyl:turns, holding out her wrist, "Well... it emanated from the speaker of this device on my wrist. But the person whose voice you heard was with another distant villageâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "And that is also not magic?â€ Nikki@crystyl:smiles, "You're catching onâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "How is it possible? We have instruments- drums and horns that can carry a sound for some distance, but not a voice. And they come from over the wind, not from a little thing on - NPC@annpc#557:- our wrists.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"It is... complicated to explainâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer nods, "I suppose many of your things are difficult to explain. That is why they seem like magic to us.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Yes. I promise, it is not my wish to try and hide these things from you as secrets. I just know that - for now - there is a great distance between what you understand from your life here, and what + Nikki@crystyl:+ we understand of life out there. But that will pass in time, and you will come to understand more" she smiles, "So do not lose that curiosityâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "I don't think I can, with how strange everything seems. And you say there are things even you do not understand! There will always be more to be curious of, won't there?â€ Nikki@crystyl:chuckles, "Indeed. That is what drives many people like us to learn more, and explore furtherâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "Was that why you build your skyships and came to our land?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"It is why we build skyships and travel to many lands, yes! It's not all doom and gloom out there, just unfortunate that it took this threat for us to come and visit you here" NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "I hope I will get to travel to distant lands like you as well. Not just in the case of fleeing from this threat.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I am sure you will" she smiles NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer jumps as the flashlight suddenly shines on the two, as Valtar had turned around from the depths of the cave, "I have all the carvings. Are other caves?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "No, just this one on our island.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Then if there is nothing more, I suggest we return to the villageâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "I will lead you back. Thank you for coming here to ensure that our stories are not forgotten.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"It's the least we can doâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "You have done much for us already, coming here to warn us of this army and offering to take us to safety. Are you doing the same with the other tribes?â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods, "That voice you heard me talking to before was the Captain of our ship who is with another distant tribe right nowâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer nods, "So that was who you were speaking with. I wish we had such things. It would save going all the way back to the village to find someone to ask about something. Speaking ofâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557:| She turns and begins leading the way out of the cave and back towards the village. Nikki@crystyl:heads out with the others NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer pauses as they exit the cave, taking in the island around them, "So we are truly leaving all this behind. I have been to other islands, but this island has been my home for as long - NPC@annpc#557:- as I can remember. It has been our tribe's home from long before even the Matron was born.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"It's not easy is it?â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer shakes her head, "No, it is not.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "My people had to do the same recently, as has many others before the advance of this coming army. But it is a small price to pay for the survival of your people.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Indeed. Consider yourself lucky that you at least have a solid memory of this home. I was but a small child when I was forced to flee my homeâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer looks to Nikki: "You do not remember it at all?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Vague recollections, but that is all. Sometimes I can barely remember the faces of my parentsâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "You lost them when you were leaving your land behind?â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods, "There were far too many people and no time to act. So just the children were sent away on ships while our families sacrificed themselvesâ€ NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "I am sorry. Thank you for coming to save our entire tribe.â€ NPC@annpc#557:| Valtar smiles, "That's the idea. So you don't have to leave anyone you know behind.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Exactly" she smiles faintly NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer: "If it means saving our families, leaving this island is truly just a small price. Come, let us go back to the village and ensure everyone is ready on time.â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods and follows for a while, but pauses at a point where she kneels at the base of a tree NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer stops, turning back to observe Nikki curiously Nikki@crystyl:fiddles on the ground for a moment before standing and approaching HS, "Here" she holds out a small sample vial filled with the sandy earth Nikki@crystyl:"To keep a piece of your home with you as a reminder of where you come from" she smiles, revealing a similar container hanging from a chain around her neck NPC@annpc#557:| Holuma-Slayer smiles and reaches forward to take the vial, "A lovely thought. I will ensure this is brought with us and well-protected.â€ Nikki@crystyl:nods and continues back to the village --- Ann Carter@anncaris:FX | A day passes on the surface of the planet as the teams help the locals prepare for evacuation. In the village visited by Lennie's team, the locals have packed all their tablets, heirlooms and - Ann Carter@anncaris:- select items from their temples in the area where the feast was held the night before. Maar-Jadeen, the village Master, approaches the team as the villagers wait around the area Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "We've done another check around the village and brought everything of significance, and everyone is here now. We are ready to depart whenever you wish, my lady.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"You are certain now? You understand that there is no coming from this; once we leave, that is itâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "The others say they have everything they want to bring, and I've searched all the homes and the temples and collected some extra items.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Then let us gather everyone in the middle of the village to departâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "Everyone should be here, but I will do a final count to ensure no one is left behind." Lendaria@crystyl:"That won't be necessary" she pulls out her tricorder for a scan Ann Carter@anncaris:| Her scan quickly confirms that all 309 people are gathered in the area Lendaria@crystyl:"Yep, that's everyone" she taps her combadge, "Lendaria to Arindol, my team is ready to commence transportâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:<C - Guardian> Understood. We have one of the Lodzki ships standing by to receive the population. The Captain says you should probably accompany your group for a bit while they settle in. Lendaria@crystyl:"Of course. I'll go with the first group while the rest of the team remains here to cover the mass moveâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:<C - Guardian> Very good. The Lodzki ship is ready to beam you and the first ones up now. Stand by for transport. Lendaria@crystyl:"Acknowledged" she waves the first group over to her, "Stand here with me. Now try to relax, this will be a little disorientating but I'm right here with you Lendaria@crystyl:waits for them to gather then orders the transport Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "Shall I go with you, or stay behind until the rest of my people are away?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I think it would be better if you come with me now. Your people will be looking to you for guidance as we arriveâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen nods and gathers over with a number of other villages before looking to Lennie, "I am ready, my lady.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:smiles and nods, "Time to take the next step on your people's journey Maar-Jadden" she taps again, "Lendaria here, first group is ready; energize" Ann Carter@anncaris FX | Lennie and the first group beams into the cargo bay of one of the Lodzki ships. Though far from as elegant as the military vessels, it is not a typical old freighter either and more akin to - Ann Carter@anncaris - a pristine Starfleet vessel's cargo bay. It is of course huge as typical for Lodzki architecture, and much of the area has been converted to makeshift housing with temporary stall-like walls - Ann Carter@anncaris:- to make up little rooms and curtains leading into each one Ann Carter@anncaris | The locals all look around in confusion, trying to figure out where they are now Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "Is this...the realm of the gods?â€ Lendaria@crystyl steps off the pad, smiling reassuringly as she extends a hand to Maar-Jadeen, "This is where I came to you from, sort of. Don't worry my friend, come onâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen smiles back and takes Lennie's hand, stepping off the pad and looking around, marvelling at everything. The rest of the locals follow his example, stepping off as well Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "I've never seen anything like this before! I...never thought this was what the world of the gods was like. It's magnificent!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Of course, a humble evacuation setup was spectacular for the locals with their level of technological development... Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah... about that, 'Gods' is such a relative term. But I keep telling you that we are not special like that, just... different is allâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "What do you mean? You are the Lady of the Fields and Flowers. You must be. No mortal can take us instantly from our village to such a realm." He looks around him, "This is larger - Ann Carter@anncaris:- than perhaps the greatest palace of the greatest king!â€ Lendaria@crystyl sighs, "I wish I could help you understand. Believe me, I know how all this looks like divinity is the only explanation. But it really isn't" she smiles Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "How is this possible? How can you /not/ be a goddess?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"That term carries a lot of context you know. We... simply don't see ourselves like that, you know? You may see us that way because the things we do are beyond your understanding. Just as a less + Lendaria@crystyl:+ developed creature, or even your ancient ancestors, would call you gods because they can not comprehend how you build your houses and toolsâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "Building houses and boats are one thing, but your powers are very different. Someone many thousands of years ago may not know how to build a house, but they - Ann Carter@anncaris:- can still guess what it does, like a cave to provide shelter, just a cave we built. What you are capable of...how can it not be divine?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Like I said, we just don't view it that way" she takes out her tricorder, "You've seen me use this right. How it tells me all sorts of impossible things wherever we areâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen: "It is one of your divine tools, is it not?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"It is a tool, yes. But there is nothing divine about a tool, no more than a fishing spear or a hammer is divine. Tools are simply tools, the way we perceive them is the only thing which differsâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen eyes the tricorder curiously, "But surely a hammer is not capable of all the wonders your tool is..." Lendaria@crystyl:"No, it is also not capable of sawing a log of wood into two is it? Does that make a saw more divine than a hammer?" Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "That...is an interesting though." He looks back towards the pad, "But certainly what you have done to bring us here- that must be divine ability?â€ Lendaria@crystyl chuckles, "It is all the same principle Maar-Jadeen, that's my point. Divinity is just a matter of perceptionâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "And you...you do not see yourself as a goddess?â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "Well, not in the way you are thinking. Perhaps..." she hrms, "Yes, perhaps it would help for you to understand me a little better. Specifically that I believe in another whom I call the + Lendaria@crystyl + Goddess. I pray to her, and thank her for the boons in my life. Not everyone here believes in her, but I do. Some people believe in no divine entity, some believe in different onesâ€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I like to think that everyone's belief is right in it's own way. It is just a matter of context and perceptionâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "You have your own Goddess? And do not consider your own people as gods?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"That's right" she nods, "And I have no doubt that if I ever did meet my Goddess, she would say the same thingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "That's...a very different view than we are used to. For all of us.../you/ are our goddess, even if you do not think yourself one." Lendaria@crystyl:"I understand. And as long as it helps you with this journey, you go on believing that if you want. But the important thing is that we will /never/ ask you to treat us like that. Understand?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "So you will not punish us for scorning you, or reward us for our love?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Not in the divine sense. Maar-Jadeen, I would be honoured to call you my friend, my equalâ€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, extending her hand. Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen smiles back and takes her hand, "I understand, my lady. Do you not wish to be called 'my lady' either?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Well I've been telling you since we met that you can just call me Lennie and it hasn't stopped you so far. Call me whatever you are most comfortable withâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen nods, "As you wish, Lennie. I have one question, thoughâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Only one?" she chuckles, "I should be thankful for that. Feel free to ask whatever you wish, we are here to helpâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen chuckles, "Well, many, but one most pressing. You say you do not seek to reward us for our reverence. Why have you brought us here to where you come from, then? What have we done - Ann Carter@anncaris:- to deserve such an honour?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"That... is complicated..." she concedes, "In short; there is great threat heading for your world which we know would destroy you if we left you there. We could not simply stand by and watch as this + Lendaria@crystyl:+ happened, and so we came here first to get you out to safetyâ€ Lendaria@crystyl realizes as she says it just how benevolent and divine that action sounds and mentally cringes Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen totally catches on to how benevolent and divine it sounds, his eyes widening, "So you have some to save our people? That is your true purpose?â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "That's right. This ship we're on - these really tall blue folks you see around us - they are actually of another people whom we did the same for. And now they are helping you tooâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "Thank you, my lady- Lennie!" Behind them, another group transports in and the aliens all turn to observe the effect they had recently felt firsthand, some with open mouths and - Ann Carter@anncaris:- some with wide eyes, or both. The second group take a moment to get their bearings as well before stepping off the pad and running over to their fellow villagers, speaking excitedlyâ€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Maar-Jadeen, we have much to discuss and many question to answer. But for now, I think your people need youâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen nods, "I will explain the situation to them. Thank you again, Lennie, for coming to our rescue.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "It is our honour to help such kind people. This area is yours to make your home for the duration of the journey, just try not to wander outside this room without asking the Lodzki - the big+ Lendaria@crystyl:+ blue folks - first. There's a lot beyond that door that will be strange and scary, even dangerous to those who do not understand itâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Maar-Jadeen: "I will warn my people to be careful. I can see that these...not-divine powers you wield could be dangerous if used improperly or in the wrong hands.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "I knew I could count on you! Now, let's start helping your people get setup shall we?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:| Maar-Jadeen nods, "Let us get them settled here in their new homes.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods and turns with him to begin addressing the new arrival Ann Carter@anncaris FX | A short while later, all the locals are beamed on board and brought up to speed, with Ann and Idate arriving with the last group. As the locals disperse, Idate approaches Lennie, "Remember - Ann Carter@anncaris:- the woman that came to us before the feast yesterday?â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Sureâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Idate: "I think I saw her and a male that appeared to be her husband with our group." She points to a stall-room. "They went there. It may be a good idea to check on them, make sure they will - Ann Carter@anncaris:- be able to have children and continue their species.â€ Lendaria@crystyl turns towards the indicated stall and nods, "Good call, thanks!" and heads over Ann Carter@anncaris | The woman, Bata-Ilsi, is in the stall-room indicated by Idate, settling in with a male alien. They both turn and nearly kneel before remembering what Maar-Jadeen told them and opts to bow - Ann Carter@anncaris:- instead, trying their best not to worship Lennie Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi: "You're back, my lady. What can we do for you?â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles faintly, "Hello Beta-Ilsi. I saw you over here and thought I'd come see how you're doingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi: "Thank you, my lady. We are still getting used to all this...a new home, and having to leave our old one behind. This place is wonderful, like nothing I have ever seen before! But I - Ann Carter@anncaris:- will still miss our home in the village. Is it true that we can never go back?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Never say never. It may be possible one day - if not for you, then perhaps your children, or your children's children" she smiles, kneeling before them, "Personally, I like to believe that anything + Lendaria@crystyl:+ is possibleâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi nods, "But we will be living here for now though, right?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Just temporarily. This ship will carry you to a proper temporary homeâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi: "Another home? What will that be like?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"It is a place we call Vue En. There is great diversity there, but we will try to find an area that is most like your old home for youâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi smiles, "Thank you. We will look forward to settling down and hopefully raising a family there.â€ Lendaria@crystyl looks to the male, "I take it this is the lucky man you told me about?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi nods, "Yes. This is my husband, Suum-Ashu.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu: "It is an honour to have you visiting us, my lady.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles back, "The honour is mine Suum-Ashu. In truth, I could use your assistance if you are willing?" she looks between the two Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu: "Of course! We would be pleased to assist you. What do you need of us?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Nothing really, just sit still there a moment" she takes out her tricorder, "This tool is just going to help me understand how you are... settling in our environment. I just want to make sure there + Lendaria@crystyl:+ is nothing in the air here which might make you sick or anything" she smiles casually as she does her scan. Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu nods, "As you wish, my lady." He sits still as Lennie scans away, and the results do come back with an issue! One easily repairable with modern medical tech however Lendaria@crystyl hrms, "Interesting..." she folds the tricorder away and stands, "It's nothing to worry about, but I'm glad I checked! There is a little something that might make it a little uncomfortable for you, + Lendaria@crystyl:+ but we can easily counter it. Would you please come with me? We have to use the medical facility. Don't worry, it's not farâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu: "Just me? Will Bata and everyone else be alright?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh I meant for both of you to come! And you will all be perfectly fine, I just need your help to test that this fix will work. If it does, then I can spread it to everyone in the air! I just need to+ Lendaria@crystyl:+ make certain I get it just right first, but if you're not comfortable with it I completely understand and can find someone else to helpâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi smiles, "We will be more than happy to help you, my lady.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu nods and stands, "Just lead the way!â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles back, extending a hand, "Brilliant! Right this way" leading the way out Ann Carter@anncaris | The two exit the stall-room they have settled in and follow Lennie out. Lendaria@crystyl leads them through the ship, letting the pair control their pace Ann Carter@anncaris | The two follow close behind Lennie, walking a little slower than she usually does with their slightly shorter height. Before long, they reach the Lodzki medbay, a small unimpressive facility - Ann Carter@anncaris - compared to VF's or even the Light of Arindol's Lendaria@crystyl leads them inside, "Please, take a seat on the empty beds there. I'll be with you in a momentâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | The two nod and sit on the bed, looking around Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu: "This is a healing house?â€ Lendaria@crystyl looks around for the duty doctor, "It is!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu: "This is like nothing I have seen before. I don't see any herbs or potions...but the Master tells us this is not magic you perform?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | A Lodzki steps out from an office area, looking to Lennie, "Do these two need medical assistance?â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles to the pair, "It is definitely not magic, not in my eyes anyway. Just... relax here a moment" she moves over to speak with the doctor out of earshot Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu nods and the two wait patiently while the doctor follows Lennie out of earshot. Lendaria@crystyl returns a few moments later with the fully clued in doctor. She smiles to the pair, "The doctor is just going to setup your trial treatments, won't take long!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu smiles, "Thank you. Do we need to do anything, or is it just some form of potion to take?â€ Lendaria@crystyl thinks, "It's... kind of like a potion... just not one that you drinkâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu looks to her curiously, "How do we take it in, then?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We call it an injection" she shows them an empty hypo, "We just press it to your neck, like this" she demonstrates on herself Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu: "That looks painful. Is it painful?â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "Not at all! In fact if you closed your eyes you would barely notice it doing anythingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu nods, though he looks at the hypo unconvincingly Ann Carter@anncaris | The doctor steps over with two hypos in hand, "Should I apply it, or should you?â€ Lendaria@crystyl looks to the pair, "Would you prefer if I do it?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi: "Well...you do look gentler, and we are more familiar with you, but I trust him if you do.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "Tell you what..." she turns to the doctor, "You have Bata-Ilsi's there? Hit me with the same one firstâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | The doctor nods and does as instructed Lendaria@crystyl smiles calmly as she is first given the blank hypo Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi watches and nods, "It does look painless. I am ready.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods to the doctor, "Proceed" while taking Bata-Ilsi's hand for reassurance Ann Carter@anncaris | The doctor steps over and applies the hypo to Bata-Ilsi, then looks to Suum-Ashu, who gives a nod. The doctor gives him the actual filled hypo before stepping back Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu: "That really was painless. Is that it?â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "That's it!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Bata-Ilsi smiles back, "Thank you again, my lady!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Suum-Ashu smiles as well, "You have very interesting medicines here.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Don't you worry about it, I'm just as grateful for your assistance in this. Now let's get you back so you can settle in" she smiles Ann Carter@anncaris | The two nod and stand up, following Lennie out. --- Mana@anncaris | While Lennie settles in the villagers, Nikki and the first group of her village beams up to a different Lodzki freighter, though with an interior set up in a near identical fashion. With their - Mana@anncaris - Matron already having been through a transporter and back, this group is less surprised by the experience, though many of them still look around at their new surroundings with curiosity. Mana@anncaris | Matron: "This looks different from the skyship you brought us to earlier.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"That's because it is different. This ship belongs to another people called Lodzki who are also being evacuated from their homeâ€ Mana@anncaris | The Matron nods while the rest of the group marvels at the size of the area, "So we will be staying here for now?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Yes, this area is for your people's use. Hopefully it will suffice until we reach the temporary homeâ€ Mana@anncaris | The Matron smiles, "It will suffice. It is not as large as our island, but it has enough room for us all.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"You should not be here long until we reach Vue En, then you will be able to resettle more comfortablyâ€ Mana@anncaris | Broken-Spear: "How will we get food and other supplies? There is nowhere to hunt or fish.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"You will not need to hunt or fish while on this journey. The resident Lodzki will show you where and how to obtain any supplies you needâ€ Mana@anncaris | Broken-Spear nods, and the group turns back as the transporter energizes again to bring on the second group. As the transporting continues, the cargo bay door slides open and Captain Daian - Mana@anncaris - walks inside Nikki@crystyl:"Captainâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods to Nikki, "Subcommander. How goes the evacuation?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"So far so good. The people are adapting well to the change in circumstancesâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "That's good to hear. I hope your group won't mind sharing. The others here are being housed in a separate cargo bay, but as your group was smaller, we could afford to free up more room - Mana@anncaris - on this ship.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Seeing how adaptive they are, I see no reason it would be a problem. Let me find the Matron so you can tell her what's neededâ€ Nikki@crystyl heads off to find the Matron and bring her back to Daian Mana@anncaris | The Matron is by the transporter, speaking with those who have just arrived on the third group Nikki@crystyl:"Matron. May I have a moment?â€ Mana@anncaris | The Matron turns to Nikki and nods, "Of course. Is there something else we need to know?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I have someone I'd like you to meet, and we have a request of you. Come" she leads her back to Daian Nikki@crystyl:"Matron, this is Captain Daianâ€ Mana@anncaris | Matron: "So this is your leader?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"The Captain is in charge of this evacuation, yesâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "I wished to let you know that there is another..." she looks to Nikki, "What do they call their group?â€ Nikki@crystyl hrms, "Another... village perhaps?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "There are members of another village here, but they are from a land far from yours. You should not have any trouble with them, and you will be living in separate areas, but you - Mana@anncaris:- may encounter some of them in the hallways.â€ Mana@anncaris | Matron: "We will all have enough living area and food for everyone?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods: "Yes, you will.â€ Mana@anncaris | Matron: "There should be no trouble, then. It is not the way of our people to start feuds- we fight only if our land or our people are threatened, but I will speak to them and ensure there - Mana@anncaris:- will be no problems.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Thank you Matronâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Do you think you have everything in hand here for the new arrivals?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I believe so. Matron?â€ Mana@anncaris | The Matron nods, "The Sisters and I will be assigning everyone their living areas to avoid any disputes. They may come to us later to request a change, but it will make everything easier.â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian smiles, "I'll leave you to it, then. Subcommander, if you don't mind coming with me for a moment?â€ Nikki@crystyl:"Of course" she dips her head to the Matron in parting before turning and following Daian out. Mana@anncaris | Daian nods and leads the way out through the halls of the freighter and to another cargo bay, "I thought you should see the other group, as yours will be sharing the ship with them.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"This is your animal husbandry group?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "That's correct." She opens the cargo bay doors to reveal a bay structured somewhat differently from the rest, with more room between the stalls. Inside are a mixture of people and - Mana@anncaris:- four-legged mammals which look like rhinos, but smaller Mana@anncaris | Daian: "This...was why I was asking about numbers and space.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"I see... livestock?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "Yes, but to them it is more than just a source of food. They are a part of the clan, like...pets, in a way, if you are familiar with the concept." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Somewhat, yes. I have also encountered instances in other cultures where animals who provide food are reveredâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "This group was nomadic and understood the need for the evacuation rather quickly, but they insisted on bringing the animals with them. It is a good idea- to preserve their genetics as - Mana@anncaris:- well in case the livestock species does not survive, but it put more of a strain on space. Fortunately, our two groups were smaller than the 300 mark we were aiming for, and I left room for a - Mana@anncaris:- hundred more just in case. It's not as many locals as I was hoping to save, but it's enough to restart the species, and we can ensure the survival of the livestock's species as well.â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, "How did the other team fair?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Their group was amenable to evacuation as well, but apparently because they believed Commander Lendaria was one of their goddesses. It took some explaining, but they are on board and - Mana@anncaris:- settling on their ship.â€ Nikki@crystyl smirks, "Goddess you say? Like an Orion needs any encouragement to stroke their egoâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian chuckles, "Fortunately it seems the Commander was disciplined enough not to let it get to her. From what Idate reported, they're slowly coming to the idea of not worshipping her as a - Mana@anncaris:- goddess, but there's still quite a bit of reverence for her.â€ Nikki@crystyl:"To be expected under the circumstancesâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "You said something about a few of your group looking to join the Guardians?â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, "Yes, they are natural hunters and warriors. When they came to understand current circumstances, they expressed an interest in helping to fightâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "I'll speak to them about it later, make sure they understand exactly what it means and what they are up against. Stay with your group for now, get them settled in.â€ Nikki@crystyl nods, "Of course Captainâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian smiles and nods back before stepping into the cargo bay with the livestock to look to her group. --- Mana@anncaris | After the locals are mostly settled, the VF team is called back to the Light of Arindol temporarily and Lennie is instructed to head to the bridge Lendaria@crystyl walks onto the bridge, "Cap'nâ€ Mana@anncaris | The bridge is silent, more like a computer core than a bridge, with the only noise being the chiming of consoles. Daian looks to Lennie as she is addressed, "Commander. All the ships are - Mana@anncaris:- reporting ready to depart.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Gotcha. Can't say I won't be glad t'see the back o'this missionâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian shakes her head, "It's not over yet. There's a reason we came here with half a Cidrian battlegroup, even though the military cruisers are at capacity and can't carry anyone. There's - Mana@anncaris:- still upwards of 140 million people down there. 140 million thralls by next week.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Well, yeah... but we ain't got room for no more right?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "That's why I called you here. If you have any creative solutions, now's the time. Otherwise, we can't leave these people down there. Not alive, for the Horde to take.â€ Lendaria@crystyl blink blinks before slowly looking to Daian, "Wait, are ya sayin'...â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods grimly Lendaria@crystyl looks to the viewscreen, "But... tha's genocide! We can't just... no!â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "That's why we saved several hundred of them. Enough to continue the species. I don't want to do this either. That's why I called you here- to see if there's any last-minute solutions.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Last minute solutions..." she shakes her head, eyes darting side to side as she think Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Anything, Commander?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I'se heard o'planetary cloaks, but th'Horde'd still sense 'emâ€¦â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "Unless we turn the entire planet into Guardians or outfit them with your defenses, the Horde will still come. And even if we had the capacity to do that, we don't have the time.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Ya'd have t'dampen th'entire populations neural signaturesâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "I can't think of any feasible way to do that. Not in a week, at least.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Even wit' all th'time an' resources of th'Federation I wouldn't know where t'startâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian sighs and closes her eyes briefly, "Then I suppose we don't have a choice.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Waitâ€¦â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian turns to Lennie again, "Yes?â€ Lendaria@crystyl sighs, "Dammit, where's Emma ya need 'er. Unless... ya battlegroup ain't got an Elachi pilot by chance has it?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian shakes her head, "No, but we're within range of the Arshai comm buoys, and when I spoke with Commander Skormir before the mission, he said the Regulator ship's already arrived at - Mana@anncaris:- Vue-En. They have an Elachi pilot. But I'm not certain what that changes..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Maybe nothin', but those guys are th'only ones I know who might have th'knowledgeâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "What're you thinking?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Subspace. Wha' if we could temporarily 'hide' th'whole planet in subspace?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "That is a possibility, but hiding an entire planet will be difficult enough, and I don't think they can manage the entire system. Without the energy of the star, there'll be widespread - Mana@anncaris:- ecological disaster, even if it's only for a few weeks. We may save more people in the short term, but the damage to their environment will wipe many of them out anyways. It could be bad enough - Mana@anncaris:- that the ones we rescue won't be able to go back. With a controlled purge, we can target only sentient populations. Leave the planet and ecosystem intact, so they still have a home to go back to.â€ Lendaria@crystyl sighs, "I know, it were a crazy idea... I'm-a just desperate t'think o'somethin', anythin'â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Ooh ooh, wha'bout phase variance?!â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "How are we going to implement that on the entire planet?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I'd-a have t'figure tha' out still. But we has these pattern enhancers we use f'transport in interference areas, maybe y'all have somethin' similar?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "We do, and we might be able to shelter a few populations with them, but not the entire planet.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sure. But th'principle could be applied large scale wit' orbital platforms maybe. In theory ya could offset th'phase variance of th'whole planet if it's possibleâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Theoretically, yes, but we don't have the time to build orbital platforms. It's a good idea, though. We can shelter a few isolated populations on the planet. Preferably those around - Mana@anncaris:- islands and areas with natural boundaries they won't often move out of. Anyone we can save is good, but I don't see a way to save everyone.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"It's a start at least... permission t'work on other means in th'mean time?â€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Of course, but make it quick. We can't stay here for too long. If the Horde get close, we'll lose everyone we've just evacuated.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Understoodâ€ Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Good luck, Commander. I hope you figure something out." Lendaria@crystyl:"You an' me both..." she mutters, turning to head out Ann Carter@anncaris | The team gathers around in the small meeting/briefing room as Lennie returns Ann Carter@anncaris:"So, wha'd the Cap'n call us back for?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"They'se preparin' t'sanitize th'remainin' populationâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"All o' it? There's still a lotta 'em leftâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Around 140million yeah..." she sighs, "Cap'n's asked me f'options an' best I got s'far is pushin'em outta phase. But we ain't got th'resources t'push th'whole planet wit' orbital platformsâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"An' we don't have the ships to evacuate 'em allâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Cap'n's gonna try an' dephase some more local isolated areas. Those wit' natural boundaries like islands an' such. But we got as long as tha' takes t'come up wit'options for th'restâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini: "That's not much timeâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Th'best I still got is t'dephase th'whole planet. But if we can't use orbital platforms, how can we do it?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini: "We could use ships. A ship can stand in as an orbital platform.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"But those ship's would have t'leave sooner or later, an' when they do they'd lose th'dephasin'â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini: "Not Lodzki ships. Maybe one of your Coalition members, people who are immune to the influence?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"None o' 'em can get here in time. Unlessâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sweets?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"From wha' I heard from Emma an' Kelly, some o' the Regulator ships' got phase cloaks themselves. Not to mention how fast they can travel. They might be able to pull this off.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "'Aight, le's work up a quick simulation an' figure how many ships we'se talkin'â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:"Well, I dunno the ships' specifications, but these Regulators almost look like they got unlimited energy sometimes. But for full coverage o' the planetâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris taps away at the console on the table, calling up the planetary holo and mapping dots around it, "We're gonna need at least sixteen o' 'em.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Lumini: "But they don't have to be stationary. With the right flight paths we could lower that number.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Right! Optimal orbital routin', how much can tha' drop it by?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris nods, setting routes for the ships and adjusting them as she continues typing, "'Bout...half. Eight's a lil tight. I think nine'll do the job.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Good enough. S'all a tall ask still, but not as tall as sacrificin' all them lives" she taps her combadge, "Lendaria to Daian. Cap'n we'se got a plan, can ya join us in th'meetin' room?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris:<C - Daian> I'm on my way. Ann Carter@anncaris | Barely a minute pass when the door slides open and Daian steps inside Lendaria@crystyl looks over, "Heya Cap'nâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "Commander. Tell me you have something.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We think so! Ann'n Lumini figured it out. We don't got time t'build platforms or ship 'em in. But we can achieve th'effect wit'ships! Namely them Regulator ones - they'se can get here double quick + Lendaria@crystyl:+ time an' operate phased tech already in their cloaksâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian smiles, "An excellent idea. I knew I could count on you to figure something out. I can patch us in to the comm buoys. Would you like to propose the idea to the Regulators?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Sure thingâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian taps her armour, "Patch us in to the Arshai comm network and send a request for the Regulators.â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | A short while later, the screen at the end of the meeting room turns on and a Regulator female with her helmet active appears, "I am Supervisor 9118-127-030 of Vessel 103-9141-16. You are - Ann Carter@anncaris:- members of the Valley Forge crew, are you not?â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Aye, LCDR Lendaria, Chief Science Officer. Here wit' th'Guardian evacuationâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | The Supervisor nods, "That explains your presence. What do you require of us?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We have devised a means t'safeguard th'remainin' population of th'planet, but need ya help t'do itâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "How may we assist?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We, err... need 9 of ya ships out 'ere t'hold th'planet outta phaseâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "An interesting plan. We have the capacity to fulfill it. You believe this will be sufficient to conceal the population from the Horde?â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Ain't denyin' tha' our simulations're hasty, we ain't exactly got th'luxury o'time 'ere. But..." she nods firmly, "Best we can tell, yeah; it'll workâ€ Lendaria@crystyl transmits the simulation data to the Supervisor so she can see for herself Ann Carter@anncaris | The Supervisor reviews the data for a moment before nodding, "It looks promising, and I believe nine vessels will suffice. I have forwarded your request to the Directors but see no reason for - Ann Carter@anncaris:- them to deny it. There is, however, one thing we must consider.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"What's tha'?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "Currently, we have equipped and deployed twenty-one vessels with the implants to resist Horde influence to assist the Coalition. Each of our vessels is equivalent to approximately - Ann Carter@anncaris:- ninety of yours in a combat scenario. We have the vessels to spare, but it will significantly diminish the capability of the Coalition to resist the Horde fleet at Vue-En.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha's a decision beyond mah paygrade. All I can say is tha' I think 150million innocent lives is worth itâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "We have to do everything we can to safeguard the lives here. But we need some way of making up for the force we're rerouting here.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"An' if I could pull a fleet o'ships outta my ass I gladly would! I jus' don't know wha' else we can doâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "We'll figure it out. Your plan could save the civilization here, and that's at least one victory.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"So we'se gonna go for it?â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "We must still await confirmation from the Directors. I do not have the authority to allocate vessels, however, I have attached my endorsement for the plan.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha's all we can ask. Thank ya Supervisorâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "I will let you know as soon as I receive word. It should not take them too long to make such a high-priority decision.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I hope not. Time's a luxury we ain't got 'ere. Thanks again, we'll await ya commâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | The Supervisor nods and the comm ends Lendaria@crystyl looks to Daian, "Guess now we just gotta waitâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian nods, "Let's hope the Regulators send those shipsâ€¦â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"An' if they do, it don't harm our defense plans" --- Ann Carter@anncaris FX | A few hours later, the team is called back to the briefing room, where Daian sits speaking with the Supervisor on the screen Lendaria@crystyl joins them, quietly taking her place not wanting to interrupt them. Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "That is excellent news, Supervisor. I- " She turns to Lennie with a smile, "Commander. Glad you could join us.â€ Lendaria@crystyl looks between the pair, "Sounds promisin'â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "The Directors have approved the plan. The ships are en route now. You may continue with your evacuation- we will have things in hand here on the planet, but in the worst-case - Ann Carter@anncaris - scenario, at least there will be enough of the species remaining to rebuild with you.â€ Lendaria@crystyl smiles, "Tha's a relief t'hear!â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "The Coalition is working up a defense plan to make up for the lost forces, and if reinforcements arrive on time, it may help bolster the defense slightly.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"We can only hopeâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Supervisor: "For now, we will work with what we have. You focus on getting those evacuees to Colonial Space. Once inside, have the refugees continue to Vue-En, but join us at Calahadon, the - Ann Carter@anncaris - homeworld of the Dunishai. If any of the Felmoran leaders want a part in the Coalition's planning, have them proceed there as well.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Thanks again. Both of ya" she smiles looking from the Supervisor to Daian Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian smiles back, "Thank /you/, Commander. This was your plan, after all, and these locals may all owe their lives to you.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"I'll-a feel better about pattin' ourselves on th'back when this Horde fleets stopped an' we start sendin' folks home againâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian nods, "I agree. Let's get these ships underway to meet back up with the main fleets.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Rightâ€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "I think it would be best for you to remain with the populations you evacuated, at least until we get back to the main fleet. Just let us know if you want to come back to the Light of - Ann Carter@anncaris:- Arindol for anything.â€ Lendaria@crystyl nods, "No problem. In truth it's kinda nice spendin' time with these folks. Not exactly a typical anthropological study, but still interestin'â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian smiles, "I can see how it would be interesting for a scientist like yourself. I'm glad you're enjoying it.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"They'se good people" she smiles Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian: "That they are, and there's something quite appealing about their lifestyle- living off the land in a small, tight-knit community. Almost reminds me of our own crews, just without - Ann Carter@anncaris:- having to deal with evacuating planets and stopping Horde fleets.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, Not long ago we was more like tha' too. I hope we get back t'bein' explorers again soon, not in constant fear o'losin' th'family around usâ€¦â€ Ann Carter@anncaris | Daian nods, "I hope so as well. I've always been a Guardian for as long as I've lived, but it would be nice to live a life like that.â€ Lendaria@crystyl:"One day" She smiles