The Observer's unique FTL ability is once again called upon, sending her on mission to recover the suspected remnants of their Guardian guide's final resting place in the vain hope that even centuries later, they may still contain further clues to aid the search...
Keliaya@anncaris | A few days after the encounter with the Witch, the Valley Forge is resuming its search in the sector. Following Kelly's suggestion, they have begun surveying potentially habitable planets and - Keliaya@anncaris:- now arrive at a Class P ice world Keliaya@anncaris:"No sign of any energy signatures." Lendaria@crystyl:"Zip on long range again too" Keliaya@anncaris | Fisher: "Establishing orbit for standard planetary survey, then." Keliaya@anncaris | The VF closes in on the mostly-frozen world, settling into orbit Lendaria@crystyl continues her standard scans. Lendaria@crystyl:"Well there's life at least, nothin' advanced still" Keliaya@anncaris:"Might just be another uninhabited but habitable planet, then. Looking at these conditions, it could make a good colony for the Lodzki if it weren't so far from their current territory." Lendaria@crystyl:"I'm seein' evidence o'past minin' down there. Could be somethin'..." Keliaya@anncaris:"Horde?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Mined, but not strip mined like we saw 'em do before. This looks like somethin' more considered" Keliaya@anncaris:"Maybe one of the former powers of this region before the Horde came. Like those Vex." Lendaria@crystyl:"Could be. Could be Iconian, like we saw on th'rogue planet too" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I don't see any sign of Iconian facilities...wait, there is something. It's not Iconian, but the material composition isn't natural to this planet either. I'm detecting traces of Nuhar - Keliaya@anncaris:- alloy- the tritanium compound, not the neutronium ones...and also levisium. That's what the message cylinders are made of." Lendaria@crystyl:"Neither's natural t'this world. Could be worth a closer look" Keliaya@anncaris:"Looks like it's buried quite deep. Time to get the archaeology specialists again." Lendaria@crystyl nods, "I'll send 'em a report an' see wha' they make of it" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I'll let the Captain know." --- NPC@annpc#557 | In one of the labs, Ensign Ziranar and several other officers work away on the consoles, studying the site they had found on the bridge Lendaria@crystyl strolls in, "Howsit goin' in 'ere?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar turns, "Commander. You've made an excellent find, but it looks like you're not the first one..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Dangit, jus' as I got done unpackin' mah 'planet Lennie' flags too" she jokes. "Seriously though, whatcha got?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar chuckles, "Well it's a very small site with traces of Nuhar, potentially Sorobeth- we don't know enough about them to say for certain, and another culture we're not familiar with. By - NPC@annpc#557:- small I mean one structure at most. But if you take a look..." Lendaria@crystyl joins her at the console to see NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar taps away at her console, bringing up a reconstructed slice of terrain where the foreign materials are. There is a visible indent in where the foreign traces can be found which is - NPC@annpc#557:- covered up by ice, indicating that someone has dug there before Lendaria@crystyl:"Such a precise operation... hardly seems like minin' does it? More like th'sorta thing you'se guys'd leave behind from a digsite" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Exactly. It's already been excavated." Lendaria@crystyl:"Ya think a previous archaeological dig?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "That's what it looks like. Given the Nuhar and potential Sorobeth remnants, I'm guessing there's a message here, but it may have already been taken by whoever was here before. I - NPC@annpc#557:- suggest we excavate it again; it's possible the message is still there, or if it's not, there might be some sign of who took it." Lendaria@crystyl:"Sounds good t'me. Jus' lemme know wha' ya need an' I'll get it past the Cap'n" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "A low-power phaser strike from one of our arrays would help." Lendaria@crystyl:"Ya got th'coordinates?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, tapping the console again and extracting an isolinear chip, handing it to Lennie, "Not much soil has covered the site since it was last excavated, but there is a /lot/ of ice. It - NPC@annpc#557:- would be significantly faster to melt that with the ship first before we even go groundside." Lendaria@crystyl takes the chip, "Aight. You'se stay 'ere an' monitor then. I'll coordinate from th'bridge" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Thank you, Commander. If there's anything down there to find, we'll find it." Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Le's do some diggin'!" and turns to head out --- NPC@annpc#557:| A short while later, Lennie beams down into the crater in the ice that the VF's phasers had made, where the archaeological team had set up and begun work on re-excavating the site NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini greets Lennie as she materializes at the small makeshift 'camp' they had set up, mostly as a storage space for supplies and a place to set up equipment NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "Welcome to the dig site, Commander." Lendaria@crystyl:shivers, "Couldn't resist a lil' taste o'home, eh?" she chuckles NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini chuckles, "The atmosphere's breathable, and I can help with some of the heavy labour, so I thought why not! I imagine it's a little cold for you?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Suffice t'say I prefer a lil' more sun..." NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini steps over, digging out a long jacket from a crate, "Here, this might help." Lendaria@crystyl:"Well ain't ya sweet. Thanks!" she smiles, wrapping it snug around her neck before looking around proper, "So waddawe got so far?" NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "We've just made it to the structure, or what's left of it. Seems it was built from scrap materials, but we don't know much else yet. The archaeologists have various theories on its - NPC@annpc#557:- purpose. Not really my area of expertise, though. My guess is that it was a makeshift survival shelter." Lendaria@crystyl:"Huh... doesn't exactly align with our 'previous digsite' theory..." NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini: "What's your previous theory?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha' this site were someone else's attempt at an archaeological dig" NPC@annpc#557:| Ziranar walks up to the two, "I think it could be both, actually." Lendaria@crystyl:"Oh?" NPC@annpc#557:| Ziranar motions them over to one of the consoles she set up, "We've begun quantum dating on the finds. The Nuhar and suspected Sorobeth components date back more than 100,000 years, to the time - NPC@annpc#557:- when the Sorobeth were active. But we've also been finding things like this," she holds up an old, long-since busted device only a little larger than a tricorder Lendaria@crystyl inspects the relic closely NPC@annpc#557:| It is difficult to tell what the relic's function was, though it was most likely a handheld tool or scanner. Turning it over, Lennie notices a distinct pointed symbol with a line streaming out - NPC@annpc#557:- from the tip and a single alien glyph in the centre Lendaria@crystyl:"Well I can try runnin' this symbol through th'database. See if it lines up wit' anythin'" NPC@annpc#557:| Ziranar nods, "That might help. But run it through the quantum dating here first." Lendaria@crystyl:nods, moving to do so. Either keen to help or just keep moving to stay warm NPC@annpc#557:| The device runs its scan and determines the relic as around 530 years old NPC@annpc#557:| Ziranar looks at the reading beside Lennie, "Just like all the others. We found two or three more of these, one of which also had the same symbol. They're much more recent." Lendaria@crystyl:"Aight, lemme see wha' I can find in matchin' up this symbol. Lemme know if ya come across any more iconography" NPC@annpc#557:| Ziranar nods, "Will do, Commander. The current theory is that whoever left these behind came and dug up this site in the past, but the site is much much older than them." Lendaria@crystyl:"Gotcha. I'll holler if I turn anythin' up" she steps away ready to beam back up, pausing to hand the coat back NPC@annpc#557:| Lumini takes the coat, "I'll keep this aside for you if you come back down here!" Lendaria@crystyl after returning to the ship, she takes the relic to her office. Replicating a steaming mug of hot chocolate that she welcomes a sip of as she sits down and sets the device on a desk scanner Lendaria@crystyl:"Aight computer, scan from th'pad an' begin comparative analysis through linguistic databases. Display all matches in order o'accuracy" NPC@annpc#557 | The computer works away for a moment and begins displaying matches. Most of the matches are clearly wrong, drawing upon Federation institutions or Starfleet patches with similar iconography, - NPC@annpc#557:- largely due to the point-and-line roughly fitting the shape of the Starfleet delta with stylized warp or impulse trails passing through it. However, one of the matches catches Lennie's eye, as it - NPC@annpc#557:- contains the exact same glyph, only now in a round, stylized sun with streaks coming off a central circle Lendaria@crystyl sits up, setting her drink down, "Computer pause analysis and bring up details on item Baker-117" NPC@annpc#557 | There are very few details to bring up. The computer recognizes it as the emblem of the mining branch of a 'Mitarune Corporation' and the source comes from various data the VF has - NPC@annpc#557:- been given throughout the journey. Mitarune is identified as one of the Corporations that the crew has heard about and occasionally come across. The mining division apparently has a colony not - NPC@annpc#557:- far from the vicinity of Terminu and Zihil, but still a good two to three month journey from the VF's current position Lendaria@crystyl hrms, "Guess that's it then" she taps, sending the matched data to the away team NPC@annpc#557 | A few moments later, her combadge sounds Lendaria@crystyl taps, "Go f'Lennie" leaning back and crossing her legs, feet up on the desk as she sips her hot chocolate NPC@annpc#557:<C - Ziranar> We found something, Commander. We're bringing it to one of the biological labs; you might want to meet us there Lendaria@crystyl:"Biology labs? Ya got mah attention, I'll-a see ya there!" Lendaria@crystyl stands, taking her drink with her as she heads off to the lab to meet the away team Lendaria@crystyl strolls in a short time later, setting her empty mug into a replicator before approaching the group, "So... whassup?" NPC@annpc#557 | On the central table of the lab is arranged a number of humanoid bones. Ziranar turns to Lennie, "We found these. Dating puts them back to the same time as the Nuhar and Sorobeth construction." NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Scan suggests it's a female humanoid, but the DNA composition is unfamiliar." Lendaria@crystyl steps up for a closer inspection, "Goddess... f'real?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "I think it wasn't a survival shelter. It was a tomb, and one that's already been robbed. The body was in a levisium casket that shows clear signs of being broken open, but we didn't - NPC@annpc#557:- find any missing bones. They left the remains in place and the tomb intact, but there's no sign of a lockbox. Apart from the levisium casket, there's nothing at all that could be seen as valuable." Lendaria@crystyl:"Maybe tha' minin' corporation got their hands on it" Lendaria@crystyl:"I wonder... could this be th'Guardian we been followin' all this way?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "It's my theory as well. That's why we brought her here, for closer examination using the equipment we have on board, and xenobiology is your area of expertise. We plan on putting her - NPC@annpc#557 - back before we leave, of course." Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Glad t'hear it" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar adds, "What's this about a mining corporation?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha' device I took t'analyze. I sent th'data down to ya team, but maybe you'se guys were already headin' back. It belongs to th'Mitarune Corporation" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "We don't see signs of a third presence, so the ones who dug the site up five hundred years ago are likely the ones who took everything of value." Lendaria@crystyl:"Their nearest colony ain't exactly close. But we might be able t'get allies over there t'see if they'se still got anythin' from this dig" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Or maybe that wormhole shuttle..." NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "But first, let's see if we can learn if the body is the Guardian we've been chasing, and if it might be worth looking into this corporation." Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Le's get to it!" moving around to begin a more detailed analysis with the specialized equipment in the bay NPC@annpc#557 | As Ziranar stated, the DNA is unknown, but the database doesn't have record of Sorobeth DNA. It is almost certainly a female, and with all the bones present, the equipment can provide a rough - NPC@annpc#557:- reconstruction of what she may have looked like in life Lendaria@crystyl sets about programming the genetic reconstruction to have the holoemitters layer the body construction up over the bones laid out on the bed NPC@annpc#557 | The reconstruction appears over the bones. The hairstyle is off, but the rest of the reconstructed individual does bear striking resemblance to the holograms of Docha, with an identical height - NPC@annpc#557:- and build. The skin pigmentation is slightly off, but it is an orange-ish hue much like the Guardian's, and the slight difference could be a reconstruction error or a matter of lighting when the - NPC@annpc#557:- messages were recorded Lendaria@crystyl:"Well tha' sure looks like 'er" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "I would imagine she left a message in her final resting place. Most likely, it's been taken by this corporation..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Seems reasonable" she turns back to the screen, "Tha' don't mean she ain't got nothin' else t'tell us still. Le's see if we can estimate age at time o'death an' cause" NPC@annpc#557 | The time of death dates back to the same timeframe as the structure around her. The scans identify a number of injuries on her which have been healed and were not the cause of death. The cause - NPC@annpc#557:- is pinpointed to the hole through the skull, which is most likely caused by an energy beam due to the clean shape of it. There are no signs of other unhealed injuries on her body during the time - NPC@annpc#557:- of death Lendaria@crystyl:"Ok, so she were in 'er mid 40's at time o'death. Computer, access holographic log Docha-3 an' extrapolate physical age" NPC@annpc#557 | The log also puts her at around the same age range Lendaria@crystyl:"So, she died about th'same time as she left th'messages. Meanin' she were likely still on th'search, not returnin' years later or anythin'" she more closely inspects the skull wound from the death- Lendaria@crystyl:- blow, "Shot to th'head suggests execution. But th'burial manner's respectful, planned" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Definitely not the Horde, then." Lendaria@crystyl grabs a small tool and carefully probes the wound, "Not sure how likely this is to'work after s'long, but I wanna see if there's any trace residue showin' th'kind a weapon tha' killed 'er" NPC@annpc#557 | Unfortunately, no traces are left after so long Lendaria@crystyl:"eh, worth a try" she returns the tool NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "This is still almost as certain as we can get in archaeology of the deceased's identity without any recorded data on it. We can't be sure, but the evidence does point to this being - NPC@annpc#557:- the Guardian." Lendaria@crystyl:"True enough. After all this time it's a small miracle we can find anythin' at all" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Indeed. But no message..." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yet. No message yet. We still gotta try this minin' group" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "We'll keep searching around the dig site to see if we can find anything further. Let us know if we're heading out and we'll return the bones and wrap up." Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Will do. Y'all finish up 'ere, I'll tap up th'Cap'n for givin' our Observer friend a lil' job" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "I'll let you know if we find anything else of interest, Commander." --- NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later after approving the mission, the Observer's ship launches from the VF to set out towards the planet... Rianni@crystyl hums to herself while she works the controls to open up the wormhole NPC@annpc#557 | The wormhole opens and the journey through it goes smoothly.. Rianni@crystyl happily passes the time quietly, more than comfortable with her own company for much longer durations than this NPC@annpc#557 | When the ship emerges from the wormhole, sensors register the destination planet ahead. There are a number of ships in orbit- three registering as Eltereiah and bearing Spike Guild IFFs as - NPC@annpc#557:- well as nine freighters, four bearing Mitarune Corporation IFFs, two with no known affiliation and three with New World IFFs which are accompanied by three Toroki raiders Rianni@crystyl scans the planet comms to find a frequency for the mining corp. while she approaches to establish orbit NPC@annpc#557 | The Observer manages to identify the frequency and enter orbit without incident Rianni@crystyl opens a channel NPC@annpc#557 | An alien with a trunk in place of a mouth or nose appears on the screen NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://swtorfiles.jedipedia.net/codex/500/cdx.species.kubaz.png Rianni@crystyl:"Um... hi! I'm looking for the Mitarune Corporation" NPC@annpc#557 | Alien: "This is Customer Relations for the Mitarune Corporation, Mining Branch. What can we do for you?" Rianni@crystyl:"I need information about a historical dig site" NPC@annpc#557 | Alien: "Historical dig site? As in one of our past mines?" Rianni@crystyl nods, "That is correct. I have planetary coordinates and an estimated timeframe. Could you please point me in the right direction?" NPC@annpc#557 | Alien: "Send me the coordinates, I'll check it out for you." Rianni@crystyl nods, "Thank you" and taps at her console, sending the necessary data NPC@annpc#557 | The alien looks down at the data, his trunk rising slightly in surprise, "Oh. This is a /very/ old mine. Pre-Corporation time. I'll refer you to our historical society. Here's the nearest - NPC@annpc#557:- transporter, a map of the city and the location of the Historical Society HQ. I'll let them know you're coming." NPC@annpc#557 | The info promised by the alien comes through via the comm channel Rianni@crystyl:"Thank you, that will be most helpful" Rianni@crystyl sets the ship into a standard orbit and prepares to head down --- Rianni@crystyl:grabs a less conspicuous outfit that just happens to be her favourite still, and soon pops out of a small wormhole aperture on the transporter pad on the surface NPC@annpc#557:| The Observer beams down to the transporter pad, where another trunk-nosed alien greets her, "Welcome to New Bormark. Is this your first visit?" Rianni@crystyl:steps off the pad, "It is" she shows him a datapad with the map on it, "I'm looking for this historical society, can you help?" NPC@annpc#557:| The alien nods, "Turn left, follow the street to the second intersection, take another left there and follow that street until you come across a large plaza. The Historical Society HQ is the - NPC@annpc#557:- building with the stone statues in front of it. Can't confuse it with anything else, since everywhere else uses holo-statues nowadays. We don't usually get visitors to our HIstorical Society. - NPC@annpc#557:- Mind if I ask your interest?" Rianni@crystyl:"I need to find out about a very old dig site" NPC@annpc#557:| Alien: "Must be before we founded New Bormark if you need the Historical Society for that. Odd inquiry, but that's your business. I won't pry. Enjoy your visit." Rianni@crystyl:"Thank you" she smiles, not sharing her counterparts flair for niceties as she strolls on without another thought NPC@annpc#557:| The city outside does not appear to be the most modern in aesthetic. There are towers visible across the skyline, but the majority of the buildings are not particularly tall. The Observer notes - NPC@annpc#557:- that the vast majority of people out on the streets are members of the trunk-nosed species. She does spot a group of three short and stout aliens through the window of one dining establishment, - NPC@annpc#557:- the same species encountered by the Valley Forge on the Nvarta Corporation mining world they defended from the Lupan raids. As she nears the plaza, she spots a pair of robot guards walking on - NPC@annpc#557:- either side of a female alien with a sleeveless, low cut dress, exposing a significant amount of cybernetics on her body Rianni@crystyl:enjoys the diverse and new surroundings as always NPC@annpc#557:| Most of the trunk-nosed aliens seem to shy away from the cybernetically augmented woman, behaviour that they don't display around the Observer. As she passes through the square, a vendor even - NPC@annpc#557:- walks up to the Observer, offering to sell several local delicacies with nearly impossible to pronounce names Rianni@crystyl:waves him off, "Maybe later" NPC@annpc#557:| The vendor walks back to his stall. Rianni quite easily spots the building she is looking for, with two large statues flanking either side of a staircase leading to a main entrance Rianni@crystyl:looks it up and down and heads on in there NPC@annpc#557:| She enters a large lobby with another statue of a trunk-nosed alien, this one adopting a majestic pose. He is depicted in what seems to be a uniform, and the pistol at his side confirms that he - NPC@annpc#557:- was likely a military leader NPC@annpc#557:| Several of the aliens sit behind a long reception desk in the lobby Rianni@crystyl:takes note of the statue as she approaches the desk NPC@annpc#557:| One of the receptionists looks up, "An offworld visitor? Welcome! Are you here to see our collection, or do you have some business with the HIstorical Society?" Rianni@crystyl:"Business" she presents her datapad, "This contains the location of a digsite your organization worked approximately 530 years ago. I need information about it" NPC@annpc#557:| The receptionist takes a look at the PADD, then taps on her computer, "Not our organization. This was a mining site from the Old Bormark days. Would've been managed by the Miner's Consortium. - NPC@annpc#557:- What's your interest in it?" Rianni@crystyl:"There was an artifact within an ancestral grave there which I seek to reclaim" Rianni@crystyl:spins a tale so effortlessly it might actually be scary to witness for anyone who lives with her everyday... NPC@annpc#557:| Receptionist: "An artifact..." she taps her computer again. "Yes, the old Consortium did sell several artifacts they found during their operations on that world. You say they - NPC@annpc#557:- belong to your people?" Rianni@crystyl:"Not precisely. That particular species - from my father's side if you must know - went extinct several millennia ago. That is why such artifacts are of great importance to us now as we seek to - Rianni@crystyl:- rebuild our lost history. Do you have records of the recovered artifacts and their sales?" NPC@annpc#557:| Receptionist: "Fortunately for you, we have the artifacts right here. They were sold to the museums on Old Bormark and were brought along during the evacuation, most likely due to their rarity - NPC@annpc#557:- and value. We understand the importance of reclaiming lost history all too well, but they are a part of our collection. You're going to have to discuss it with one of our curators." Rianni@crystyl:"Very well. Please direct me to said curator and I will do so" NPC@annpc#557:| The receptionist taps her computer, "Curator Druntas is free. Give me a moment to let her know you're coming, then I'll take you to her office." Rianni@crystyl:"Thank you" she stands patiently, watching and waiting with an innocent look that is somehow just a little creepy as well NPC@annpc#557:| The receptionist promptly comms the curator before standing and straightening her jacket, "Come with me." Rianni@crystyl:turns and follows NPC@annpc#557 | The receptionist leads the Observer through the lobby into several side hallways, eventually reaching the curator's office NPC@annpc#557 | Inside the office, another female trunk-nosed alien sits, reading from some PADDs. She looks up as the Observer enters, "You must be the offworld visitor here about some artifacts." Rianni@crystyl approaches with a nod, "I am. I understand you are the curator who holds control over them" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "Yes and no. You're after the ones recovered from Fortitude-12? The ice world." Rianni@crystyl:"I do not know your name for the planet, but it is an ice world at these coordinates" she dutifully presents the pad as she done so many times here already NPC@annpc#557 | The curator nods and passes one of her own PADDs to Rianni, "These are the artifacts we currently have that can be traced back to that world." Rianni@crystyl takes it and skims through for anything that fits the message cylinders NPC@annpc#557 | The PADD contains five images. The first is a set of shining mail, exactly identical to the armour Docha wore in her logs. The second is an Iconian energy projector which she was also seen - NPC@annpc#557:- holding in the logs, identical to those obtained from the Iconian arms factory. The third is a collection of small bladed weapons and a pistol, the fourth a number of old Nuhar drones, and the - NPC@annpc#557:- fifth a open Sorobeth lockbox, with the message cylinder beside it Rianni@crystyl nods and hrms as she peruses before handing it back, "This all looks in order. I will take the complete collection" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "That's...where the problem lies. We fell on some bad times about four decades ago, where we missed our quota for several consecutive years. Because these items had no significance - NPC@annpc#557:- to our own culture, we included them as part of our lease payment to the Corporation. They chose to keep them on display here because it's become a mainstay of our Alien Cultures exhibit, but - NPC@annpc#557:- they're officially the property of the Mitarune Corporation. You'll have to speak to a corporate representative about acquiring them." Rianni@crystyl:"Very well, then I shall do so. Can you point me in the right direction?" NPC@annpc#557 | The curator taps the Observer's PADD a few times before handing it back to her, "I've marked the location of the Corporation's Headquarters. You'll want to book an appointment with one of the - NPC@annpc#557:- official representatives, you know, the cyborgs. Not Customer Relations, they don't have the authority to negotiate artifact trade." NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. If it was still a part of our collection, I'd give them to you, regardless of value. We know the importance of being in touch with your culture and - NPC@annpc#557:- history and respect what you're trying to do. Unfortunately the Corporations can be very...corporate." Rianni@crystyl:"Thank you. We will speak when I return to claim the artifacts" she bows her head in gratitude, turning to head out unphased by the challenge as always NPC@annpc#557 | The Observer makes her way through the city once again, soon reaching the Mitarune Corporation HQ, which turns out to be one of the large skyscrapers. Inside, she finds herself at another - NPC@annpc#557:- lobby, this one looking more cold, hard and sterile. Robotic guards stand throughout the area like statues, completely unmoving but armed with rifles and likely ready to spring to action at a - NPC@annpc#557:- moment's notice if something should happen. Once again, several receptionists, still of the trunk-nosed species, sit behind a desk Rianni@crystyl approaches the desk NPC@annpc#557 | One of the receptionists looks up at her, "How may we help you?" Rianni@crystyl:"I require an audience with one of your official representatives to negotiate the release of corporation held assets within the historical society exhibits" NPC@annpc#557 | Receptionist: "Historical exhibits you say. Yes, you will need a Corporate representative for that..." he taps on his console, built into the desk instead of a separate computer like the - NPC@annpc#557:- receptionist in the Historical Society HQ. In fact, everything seems more high-tech in this building NPC@annpc#557 | After a moment, the receptionist looks back to the Observer, "The Corporate representatives are all very busy. The soonest I can get you an appointment is in six days." Rianni@crystyl:"That is an unacceptable delay" NPC@annpc#557 | Receptionist: "I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do. Their schedules are full, and I can't just...slot you in the middle without their permission." Rianni@crystyl tilts her head, "So obtain the permission. Then by your logic, you can slot me straight in" NPC@annpc#557 | Receptionist: "I...can't just convince one of them to free up time for you. You can leave contact information with me and I'll put you first in line if someone cancels their appointment, but-" NPC@annpc#557 | Suddenly, a female voice emanates from one of the robot guards behind the receptionist, "Send her up." NPC@annpc#557 | The receptionist's trunk raises in surprise before he nods, "Y-yes, of course." Rianni@crystyl looks around, "So, they actively monitor all inquiries as they are made and make arbitrary rulings based on that impression. Fascinating" NPC@annpc#557 | He looks back to the Observer, "Follow the robot, it'll activate the right lift for you." NPC@annpc#557 | The robot indeed begins leading the way to one of the lifts behind the lobby Rianni@crystyl dips her head, "Thank you" turning and following the robot, looking up at the back of it's head, "And thank you" NPC@annpc#557 | The robot doesn't respond, simply leading the Observer on in a very robot fashion. Upon reaching the area lined with multiple lifts, it places its hand on a panel and one of the lift doors open Rianni@crystyl looks between the robot and the door a couple of times, uncertain if she should wait for it to lead the way in first before deciding to go for it NPC@annpc#557 | It states in a robotic voice completely unlike the female voice she heard earlier, "Enter." Rianni@crystyl:"I figured..." she steps inside, looking around for controls NPC@annpc#557 | There is a panel on the inside, but before the Observer even touches it, the door shuts behind her and the lift begins to move up Rianni@crystyl looks around curiously, "Efficient" she commends NPC@annpc#557 | When the lift doors open, the Observer finds herself looking out at a large, lavish penthouse. The woman with heavy cybernetics she saw on the street is here, looking out the window at the - NPC@annpc#557 - city below as she smokes from something resembling an electronic cigar NPC@annpc#557 | Cyborg Woman: "You're a curious one, you know?" NPC@annpc#557 | She still doesn't turn to the Observer as she addresses her Rianni@crystyl:"I could say the same of you. I am sure it is not chance that the one representative I happen to have passed on the street earlier is the one who takes an interest in my presence here" NPC@annpc#557 | Cyborg Woman: "No, it's not. I've never seen an offworlder take an interest in the Historical Society here. On occasion a few check it out from curiosity, but you have something very specific - NPC@annpc#557:- to accomplish here." Rianni@crystyl:"And that alone was sufficient to pique your curiosity? Apparently you do not all have such busy schedules as your receptions would have us believe..." NPC@annpc#557 | Cyborg Woman: "The locals are afraid to interrupt us, even if we're not up to anything of particular importance. We do hold their entire civilization in our grasp, after all." Rianni@crystyl:"That does explain it, though it is not my concern. I am only here for the relics" NPC@annpc#557 | The woman finally turns to the Observer as she strides over and sits down on a nearby sofa, crossing her legs, "And which relics are those?" Rianni@crystyl approaches, standing before her and presenting her trusty pad, "A collection of 5 items from what the locals call Fortitude-12" NPC@annpc#557 | The cyborg woman takes the PADD, looking through the list, "90,000 Corporate Points, or if you're not familiar with our currency, approximately 50,000 Carran Trade Credits." Rianni@crystyl:"I already know that these items are worthless to you and were transferred to your corporation's ownership as part of a larger debt payment in desperation. I am willing to offer reasonable payment, - Rianni@crystyl:- but have no interest in games of extortion" NPC@annpc#557 | Cyborg Woman: "Do you know how valuable Airon armour is? Of course, this one is not particularly practical in modern warfare, but the age of the mail alone makes it worth quite a lot. I'm - NPC@annpc#557:- sure there are people who would pay close to that price for the armour alone. But I'm willing to hear what you have to offer in return." Rianni@crystyl:"That depends on what you are interested in. If it is simple credits, fine, we can negotiate on monetary terms alone. However, in my travels I have accumulated significant assets that I can trade. Be- Rianni@crystyl:- it resources, or cultural" NPC@annpc#557 | Cyborg Woman: "I'm not much of a collector myself- as you've learned, the artifacts only came into our possession because the locals needed to pay the lease for the planet, and it was all - NPC@annpc#557:- before my time here. I have no interest in cultural assets beyond their monetary value, but what are those resources you're willing to trade?" Rianni@crystyl:"If you are willing to wait for me to ferry it all the way out here; I can offer dilithium. More technologically-" she taps at her pad, "-there is this" Rianni@crystyl | The pad shows details of salvaged tech. Specifically, that she took from the remains of the Azedi fleet NPC@annpc#557 | The Cyborg looks through the data before nodding, "Yes, this will do. This will do very well. How much of it are you offering in exchange for the artifacts?" Rianni@crystyl:"One drive assembly" she states flatly, tucking the pad away again NPC@annpc#557 | Cyborg Woman: "One single drive assembly, for the entire artifact collection?" Rianni@crystyl:"To be clear; this is the drive assembly from an Azedi frigate. You may not know the name, nor will you ever encounter it is they are now extinct. And this is all that remains of the only ship - Rianni@crystyl:- within 100 lightyears of here besides mine that could generate artificial wormholes" NPC@annpc#557 | The Cyborg Woman nods, "Yes, I did note the vessel you came in and the interesting method of travel it utilized. I suppose with this drive, we will be able to study and recreate the technology." Rianni@crystyl nods confidently, "That's the theory" NPC@annpc#557 | Cyborg Woman: "With the ability to generate wormholes, we could even break the Carrans' monopoly on high-speed travel. Very well, you have a deal. Do you have the drive with you now?" Rianni@crystyl nods, "I have it in my storage hold. So you will release the artifacts?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Cyborg nods, "We have a deal. The artifacts are yours." Rianni@crystyl:"Thank you. I will retrieve them at once then. Please provide coordinates for delivery of the drive" NPC@annpc#557 | The Cyborg taps on the Observer's PADD before returning it, "Deliver it here to Corporate Hangar 3 in the port. It's a pleasure doing business with you." Rianni@crystyl:"Likewise" she dips her head, turning to head out NPC@annpc#557 | The Observer returns to the Historical Society HQ, where the same receptionist from before is still on duty. She looks up and greets the Observer again, "Welcome back. What can I do for you - NPC@annpc#557:- this time?" Rianni@crystyl:"I am here for my artifacts. Please may I speak with the curator again?" NPC@annpc#557 | The receptionist nods, "Of course. This way." Once again, she leads the Observer into the curator's office. This time, the curator stands as she enters Rianni@crystyl walks in, "Hello again" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "I don't know what deal you made and I'm not sure I want to know, but congratulations. I've just received notification from the Corporation that I'm to release the artifacts to you." Rianni@crystyl:"It was quite simple really" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "Well in any case, I'm glad for you. Fortitude-12 is in Demon territory now. I presume your people lost your home to the Demons as well?" Rianni@crystyl:"In a manner of speaking... you know about the Horde then - the 'Demons'?" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "All too well. That's how we came to be here in the clutches of the Corporation to begin with. We were among those fortunate enough to be able to evacuate our entire population and - NPC@annpc#557:- the majority of our cultural relics, as well as other valuables like the artifacts you came for. It was all thanks to the Guardians' warning, but they had to continue their fight and did not have - NPC@annpc#557:- the ships to spare to find us a new home. In our desperation, we cut a deal with the Mitarune Corporation. Had we known, we would've kept going and found the Arshai, but now we're stuck having - NPC@annpc#557:- settled a planet that isn't ours, which we have to pay lease for, with most of our workforce stuck labouring for the Corporation to pay it off." Rianni@crystyl:"If you and the Corporation know about the Horde's presence, why do you remain?" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "There was talk of pulling out when we heard Terminu had fallen. But then someone blew up the system and this Coalition started gaining traction in the region. Now demand for raw - NPC@annpc#557:- resources is higher than ever, and the Corporation's all too willing to fill that demand. They say we're safe, that if we help supply the Coalition, they'll prevent the Demons from coming any - NPC@annpc#557:- further. You've probably noticed the Arshai freighters in orbit. We had a Guardian ship here not long ago and they say the Demons depleted their forces in this region on their recent assaults, - NPC@annpc#557:- and that they'll let us know in time to evacuate if there's any danger of us being overrun." Rianni@crystyl:"Sounds reasonable, and your information is quite good too" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "If there's anything you wish to know, just ask. Educating is part of my job; I don't just maintain artifacts. But speaking of artifacts, we're already starting to remove yours from - NPC@annpc#557:- the display. Where would you like us to deliver it? There's quite a bit to carry, so it'll be easier to bring it to your destination if you have a ship waiting." Rianni@crystyl:"You can gather it all together where convenient here. I can transport it in one go well enough then" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "It's all being brought to one of our storage rooms. Let me take you there." Rianni@crystyl:"Thank you" NPC@annpc#557 | The curator leads her through more halls of the building, eventually arriving at a room where some of the artifacts have been stored, sitting in the centre in sturdy shipping crates NPC@annpc#557 | The curator checks her PADD, "There's two more on their way, the rest should already be here." Rianni@crystyl:"You have most accommodating, thank you" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "I'm happy to help. You should have possession of these, not the Corporation. All they know is profit and personal gain. If the Demons offered them a good price, they'd probably - NPC@annpc#557:- give up their homeworld without a second thought." Rianni@crystyl:"That is one thing you don't have to worry about happening. The Demons do not make deals, they simply take" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "If the Corporations were smart, they'd send those robot guards of theirs to support the Coalition's cause. Only a matter of time before they're threatened too. But they're too busy - NPC@annpc#557:- siccing them on each other in their own internal power struggles. For all their modifications and boasts of superiority, they're probably one of the most short-sighted people out there. I guess - NPC@annpc#557:- that's what happens when you're solely focused on progress and not on learning from the past." Rianni@crystyl:"Clearly you've never dealt with the Ferengi. But... if these people are so bad, why stick around? They make you pay to stay on their planet right, so why not just up and leave?" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "A little too late for that. The Corporation turned our old Mining Consortium into their mining branch, the one that's headquartered here. That's probably how you found us, isn't it? - NPC@annpc#557:- You probably found some old mining tools with an emblem from one of the Mining Consortium groups, and the Mining Consortium's symbol is incorporated into the log of the current mining branch. If - NPC@annpc#557:- we leave now, the supplies most of our population relies on to make their living remains with the Corporation. Assuming we even can move everyone, since the Corporation owns most of the ships - NPC@annpc#557:- too. We'll have to start from scratch. Individuals have left to find their own way in the galaxy from time to time, but our civilization...we're stuck with the Corporation." Rianni@crystyl:"Only if you choose to remain stuck with them. Yes, leaving would be hard. But that does not mean it is without hope" NPC@annpc#557 | The curator nods, "If we evacuate again, that might be a good time to consider cutting ties. We'll see when the time comes." NPC@annpc#557 | Behind them, two more trunk-nosed aliens bring in the last two crates NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "That should be all of them. Feel free to check them over, let me know if we're missing anything." Rianni@crystyl does so, checking everything off from a list on her pad NPC@annpc#557 | Everything contained on the artifact list is indeed neatly contained in the crates, complete with padding to prevent damage during transportation. The Historical Society are clearly - NPC@annpc#557:- professionals at handling artifacts Rianni@crystyl turns back to the curator, "Your diligence is appreciated. Not all would be so thoughtful in the manner in which they handle such things. Please ensure my gratitude is expressed to your whole team" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "It's our job, after all. Just take good care of these artifacts, and that'll be repayment enough." Rianni@crystyl smiles and nods, "Trust me, they will be very well received" she taps her pad and a small wormhole appears behind her, literally gobbling up the crates NPC@annpc#557 | The curator watches, her trunk rising slightly by the sight, "An interesting method of transportation you have. Anyways, I hope we meet again someday." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "As do I, my little friend. I am still very new to the group I travel with, but I know enough about them and their allies to know that they won't leave your people to suffer. If and when - Rianni@crystyl:- evacuation comes, reach out to the Coalition. Skills are worth more than resources oftentimes, and they are good people. And if you do find yourself in their company at some point in the future, - Rianni@crystyl:- just ask them to put you in touch with the Valley Forge. Then we will meet again, and if nothing else; I will do all I can to help" NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "I will be sure to advise my people to reach out, and I am sure we will welcome the assistance if we must evacuate again." NPC@annpc#557 | Curator: "Thank you for your offer to help." Rianni@crystyl:"Until then" she smiles, stepping back and tapping again, opening another aperture behind her. She smiles and waves as she steps backward through it NPC@annpc#557 | The curator holds her trunk high in what is likely their equivalent of a wave or perhaps specifically a gesture of farewell --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 | After obtaining the cylinder and other artifacts, the Observer returns to the Valley Forge to present them to Lennie and Mia to be viewed... Lendaria@crystyl works in the lab with Ziranar's team to wrap up the planetary survey when the Observer & Mia join them, canister in hand Lendaria@crystyl turns, smiling to see the prize, "Ooh show time, yay!" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer hands the canister to Mia, "There is in the cargo hold, the Guardian's armour and some other items from the dig site. But they were too big for me to carry..." Lendaria@crystyl | Mia moves to play the message, "We got a little peak, Ms. um... Observer, did very well!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar turns with a smile as well, "Welcome back! You got everything else from the site as well?" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer nods to Ziranar: "I believe so. Well, I have no idea actually if it is everything or not, but it is everything that was in the museum" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Well, it's better than nothing! Let's see what's in that message first." Lendaria@crystyl nods, "Le's have it Mia!" Lendaria@crystyl | Mia obliges and begins playback once more Alien NPC@annpc#557 | As expected, Docha appears, "We may have been close. Perhaps we have another chance, but the odds are not very optimistic. I am Docha Mu-Heiread. I have left this record so you may continue - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- where I have left off. As you have noticed, these holo-cylinders are specifically configured so that they can only be read by a Nuhar construct or a similarly advanced artificial lifeform, - Alien NPC@annpc#557:-- technology the Horde does not possess and will likely never research. This is a simple recording and not an interactive program, so do not attempt to communicate with me." Lendaria@crystyl:"I wonder if tha's a recordin' within a recordin', or if she really repeated herself perfectly like tha' with each message..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Well it's not entirely perfect, there's some variation, but maybe their species had eidetic memory." Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha' case, I wonder if she got tired o'repeatin' herself" she chuckles Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Docha continues, "If you have not found my previous logs, I have been searching for an ancient Iconian facility known as the Heart of War. It was originally constructed as a superweapon - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- against the Horde, though I have learned that particular function was not effective. However, it is still a massive facility built around a star, one with the distance to jump across space and - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- open gateways to transport armies, something that could turn the tide in the war against the Horde." Lendaria@crystyl:"Ok, well tha' much we know already" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Docha: "One lead led to another, and we've managed to narrow our search to this region, the specifics of which are included in the message cylinder. We've been searching for fifty-one days - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- when we encountered the first Horde agents- little more than raiders under their influence, sent to cause chaos in regions they've not yet advanced to. But one of them must've gotten word out to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- the Horde that we ere here. As a biological, I have no defense against their mind control. The Attentive Watcher has left me here on this uninhabited ice world with a few drones, while my old - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- friend attempts to lead the Horde away from our search area. If it returns in twenty days, we will resume the search, but we cannot risk leading the Horde to the Heart of War, even if it means we - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- do not obtain it for the Sorobeth people either. Without it, my people are surely doomed, but if the facility falls into the hands of the Horde, then the entire galaxy is doomed." Lendaria@crystyl:"Imma'head an' guess th'Watcher didn't come back..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Docha: "If the Watcher does not return, then...this may be the last I see of my old friend. Remember the Attentive Watcher, for neither these messages nor this mission would have been possible - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- without it. The Watcher could not bring itself to do it personally, so I have also programmed the drones he left to destroy my brain if there is still no sign of it after thirty days. What I - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- know, the Horde can never learn. But I've included the search pattern and all the areas I've already covered in this message, which, as I said, is beyond the Horde's ability to decipher, and I - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- hope will be beyond their ability to decipher in the days to come. If you find this, continue where I have left off. It does not matter if you call yourselves Guardians or something else. The - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Horde is the enemy of all living things. Avenge the Attentive Watcher. Avenge me. Avenge the Sorobeth." Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | The hologram flickers out Lendaria@crystyl:"Well, not exactly th'happy endin' I were hopin' for... but at least she's given us an area t'cross off th'search I guess" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "It does align with the method of death. I suppose the Guardians of this time didn't have a means of defense against Horde influence yet, and had to rely on Nuhar constructs and other - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- non-biological life to fight for them." Lendaria@crystyl:"Indeed. An' it's possible tha' Attentive Watcher's still out there I guess" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer: "I also have the remains of those Nuhar drones in storage" Lendaria@crystyl:"Good t'know. How'd ya get ya hands on all this anyway?" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer: "I traded for it" Lendaria@crystyl turns, "Traded... wha'...?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "With what?" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer: "The drive assembly from an Azedi frigate" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "The drive assembly...I thought you didn't want others to have your technology." Lendaria@crystyl | Observer: "It is not my technology" Lendaria@crystyl "I thought th'Azedi stole it from th'Junayd?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods at Lennie's comment Lendaria@crystyl | Observer shakes her head, "They stole the wormhole generation technology, not drive cores" Lendaria@crystyl blinkblinks, "Wait, so... ya traded a standard assembly for all these relics...?" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer nods: "As is good practice, I told them exactly where it came from for traceability. They did seem oddly excited about the prospect of being able to use our wormhole technology too, for - Lendaria@crystyl:- some reason. But that's a completely different technology. I only kept the drive core because it has some useful spare parts for my ship" she answers innocently, looking between the pair Lendaria@crystyl smirks, then snickers, then laughs out loud, "Classic! Lovin' ya work!" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer tilts her head, not getting the joke Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "That's...sneaky. And clever!" She laughs as well Lendaria@crystyl | Observer furrows her brow, "It is? But I was just being honest with them..." Lendaria@crystyl snorts, still laughing, "I'll let ya explain Ziranar. Mia an' me gonna get t'work mappin' out this completed search against our own!" Lendaria@crystyl turns back to the console, still snickering Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Well...that's not exactly an easy task Commander..." Lendaria@crystyl glances back over her shoulder with a smirk, "Why'd ya think I ducked out!" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer continues to look between the pair, bemused Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar chuckles and looks to Lennie again, "What should we do about the relic she acquired, by the way? They did come from Docha's tomb, but...returning them there probably isn't the best for - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- preservation, and there's a chance someone will dig them up again in the future. We'll return the bones out of respect, of course, but do you think we should keep the artifacts to hand over to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- the modern Guardians someday, or put them back in the tomb?" Lendaria@crystyl:"We'll transfer 'em to th'vault f'now. If the Guardians ain't interested in posterity, then maybe some descendants will be" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "I'll make sure they're carefully stored away." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar turns back to the Observer, "Well, about the drive assembly...I think whoever you traded it with was under the assumption that they can reverse-engineer the wormhole technology using - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- that particular piece you gave them." Lendaria@crystyl | Observer thinks, "That is consistent with her commentary. But I don't know she would jump to that conclusion? I merely stated that it was the drive assembly from the only ship within 100 - Lendaria@crystyl:- lightyears capable of generating artificial wormholes..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar chuckles, "I think she did jump to that conclusion, otherwise she wouldn't have made such a deal." Lendaria@crystyl:"At this point, Ziranar I'm-a pretty sure she's jus' playin' ya too" Lendaria@crystyl | Observer looks between the two again, giving the slightest of smiles to Ziranar before heading out Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "Oh. Is that...hey!" She laughs Lendaria@crystyl laughs, "Gotta watch tha' one. She ran rings around a whole starbase for almost two years y'know!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "I'll keep that in mind..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, Lennie and Mia notice that there are a few regions not covered by Docha's search or the Lupan navigational data where the Sphere could be found, but one in particular stands out... Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The nebula Lennie commented on prior to meeting the packship has not been explored by either party, and also has sensor-impairing properties, which could be why the Sphere was not found after - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- all this time in territory the Horde had already taken! Lendaria@crystyl:"Huh, waddaya make o'tha' then" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar looks over, "Do you have something, Commander?" Lendaria@crystyl | Mia: "It is certainly a possibility Ms. Lennie, and it is within tolerance of our bearing from the Forged gateway" Lendaria@crystyl nods and points, "Take a look. Tha' nebula we passed by near 'ere ain't been searched an' is obscurin' scans o'within" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Good find! Searching a nebula like that is going to be tedious, but it's a very likely location for the Heart of War to be hidden in. It might be worth going in there first." Lendaria@crystyl:"Definitely worth takin' a look!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "I think there's enough evidence to get the Captain to check it out!" Lendaria@crystyl:"No doubt. Jus' gotta figure a way t'properly search it now. I think it's time t'get them remains back on th'surface an' lay our guide to rest. She's earned it by now" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "I'll make sure it's done properly, and that the artifacts she left behind are properly stored as well." Lendaria@crystyl:"Le's get t'work then. Got us a nebula t'search!"