Emma finds familiar faces present when she returns to Vue-En with the Observer to inform the Coalition of the Architect's betrayal and gather reinforcements. Meanwhile, Mischa's infiltration team runs into their first hurdle...
The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | On the bridge of the Thana Vaneri, a red giant slowly comes to view outside... The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa: "Are we sure these are the right coordinates? There's nothing here except a giant star and some asteroids." The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Delbaj Naissas: "The Colonial ship we met on the way in confirmed these coordinates..." Lorri@crystyl:"Anything on long range?" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa: "There's plenty of long range activity. Other ships with Colonial IFFs, some of Syndicate design and a mix of other signatures- wait, I have something. There's warp trails, going - The Branded Lady@annpc#557:- /into/ the star. And some of the ships on long range sensors seem to have their warp trails coming out from inside the star as well." Lorri@crystyl:"What of the star itself then. Anything untoward?" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa nods, "It's big, even for a red giant..." The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Delbaj Naissas: "I have communication confirming that it is safe to approach. The signal is also originating from somewhere inside the star." The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa: "It could be a natural illusion, created by the gasses expelled by the growing star! It makes it look like one huge star, but there must be an entire stellar system hidden inside." Lorri@crystyl:"Quite the cunning hiding place if so. Very well, make our approach. We sure as hell didn't come all this way just to turn back" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Morl Zhaiddu: "Taking us in, Tabadi." The Branded Lady@annpc#557 FX | The Thana makes its way into what appears to be the star. Red gases swirl around the ship, soon obscuring view of all the other OSN ships following behind Lorri@crystyl:"Well we're not cooking yet so I take that as a good sign" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa nods, "Sensors can't pick up anything more than a few kilometres in front of the ship, but we're also not registering any harmful radiation at all. Which there should be if we - The Branded Lady@annpc#557:- were really flying this close to a star. The composition of these gasses do fit with a nebula, so the planetary nebula shroud theory holds up..." Lorri@crystyl:"Nonetheless, stay alert. We don't know how close this soup runs to the supposed colony, and the last thing we want is to charge head on into a hidden planet" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Morl Zhaiddu: "Got it. I'm taking us in nice and slow." The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Soon, the gasses outside start getting thinner... The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa: "Sensors are seeing better now. I'm starting to get readings- there's definitely a planet where our coordinates are, and a lot of readings. And I mean a /lot/. This place is - The Branded Lady@annpc#557:- busier than Memory Alpha during a scientific conference..." Lorri@crystyl:"Seems we've found the place then" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | A few minutes later, the New World comes into view in all is glory, with the massive artificial Ring circling around the circumference of the planet alongside numerous smaller satellites, - The Branded Lady@annpc#557:- stations, and defensive emplacements, all of that reinforced with heavy Coalition fleet presence around the planet The Branded Lady@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/A6hAGmX.png Lorri@crystyl:"Goddess... They /have/ been busy" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa: "Energy signatures are all over the place. I'm reading Syndicate, Nausicaan, Dominion, Carran, Lupan, and I don't even recognize the other half." Lorri@crystyl:"We have a lot of catching up to do here ladies, let's not waste this opportunity to get a good look at all these folks" Lorri@crystyl:"And no doubt they have detected our arrival, let's see if we make contact" The Branded Lady@annpc#557:| Delbaj Naissas: "Hailing them now. We have contact, Tabadi." Lorri@crystyl:"Let's have it then" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Vora slowly begins to form on the Thana's holocommunicator, dressed in her Orion outfit instead of a Colonial uniform, "I'm pleased you could make it. Welcome to the New World, Tabadi." Lorri@crystyl:"Thank you Vora. Or do I still call you 'Branded Lady?â€™" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 chuckles, "Vora will do, unless you prefer Supreme Commander. I hope the journey wasn't too difficult?" Lorri@crystyl:"...Supreme Commander? Quite the title. I think Vora will do" she smiles, "And thank you, the journey was longer than anything many of us have undertaken before. But the OSN is here to help. Just - Lorri@crystyl:- not to late I hope as we see you have quite the crowd here" The Branded Lady@annpc#557:"Supreme Commander of the Colonial Fleet, that is. The Coalition doesn't have a central military commander. And you're in good time, don't worry. We fended off a major assault by the Horde, but the - The Branded Lady@annpc#557:- Coalition's also taken significant losses. We need all the reinforcements we can get for whatever they're planning next." Lorri@crystyl:"Sounds rough. I have the feeling we've a lot of catching up to do" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 nods, "That we do. What'd you know of the situation here so far?" Lorri@crystyl:"We got the brief on this 'Horde' and some sort of mind control tactic of theirs. The Circle gave us info on this Coalition you've been building out here, but not the specifics of it's makeup or the- Lorri@crystyl:- current state of affairs" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 nods, "That's the gist of it. Did you get the implants you need to shield yourselves from the Horde's control yet?" Lorri@crystyl nods, scratching the back of her neck, "You're sure about these things right...?" The Branded Lady@annpc#557:"Half the Coalition is using them, and they're fine. The after-effects of the implantation shouldn't last long, you'll forget it's there soon." Lorri@crystyl:"I hope so! Honestly though, implants? I mean it's not like we're lumbering males here. Females with implants is just... wrong" she shudders Lorri@crystyl:"And the males are complaining because the damned things aren't visible!" she laughs The Branded Lady@annpc#557 laughs as well, "Typical. And don't worry, if the Feds are right and we can deal with the Horde once and for all, you can take these implants out as soon as we're done. Not entirely sure I want - The Branded Lady@annpc#557:- to, protection against unwanted telepathy has its uses, and the basic mental techniques are all but useless on stronger telepaths." Lorri@crystyl:"True enough I suppose. Anyway, I'm sure we've got a long and tedious brief ahead. But first, I've got an armada full of tired folks eager to stretch their legs" Lorri@crystyl:"And I must admit... I am somewhat curious to see this fabled Orion colony you have here" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 smiles, "And many of the Orions here are equally as curious to see your new OSN. Most of them came here before you've grown to the size you are today." Lorri@crystyl:"Then I truly do look forward to greeting our distant brothers and sisters" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Magren Salaa: "Tabadi, I'm reading...what looks like a small wormhole opening near the planet." Lorri@crystyl glances over and back to Vora, "You have a wormhole opening in here too? This really is a little treasure trove of a world" The Branded Lady@annpc#557 raises her arm, reading a small wristcomp embedded into the glove, "No, that's an artificial wormhole. The Junayd ships are all here, so this can only be one thing..." The Branded Lady@annpc#557 | Outside, the Observer's ship emerges from the wormhole... Lorri@crystyl tilts her head a little at all the references that mean nothing to her The Branded Lady@annpc#557:"If you'll excuse me for a moment, it looks like I have more guests to greet than I expected today. I look forward to seeing your people on the surface, Tabadi." Lorri@crystyl:"We'll coordinate with your Colonial Fleet on our movements. I hope this is purely an unexpected arrival, and not an unwelcome one" The Branded Lady@annpc#557:"They're allies. I'm just not sure what news they bring..." Lorri@crystyl:"Then we pray to the Goddess for good fortune" she nods before the comm cuts The Branded Lady@annpc#557 FX | https://youtu.be/cjaejG-LDAQ --- NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa only just fully materializes on the interior of the Superintendent facility before she is trapped into a confinement beam and dematerializes again. She catches a brief glimpse of the - NPC@annpc#557 - interior before her view is replaced by that of another natural part of the Sphere, this one yet another different environment. More troubling however is that all her equipment and gear, from - NPC@annpc#557:- her weapons to combadge down to her very clothes haven't materialized with her. She doesn't feel cold in this new environment however, which seems to be a warm tropical setting NPC@annpc#557 | She is stood among some grassland, with a large forest visible behind her and a lake some distance in the other direction Mischa@crystyl looks around, then down herself, then around again, "Well. This is problematic..." NPC@annpc#557 | There is no sign of the rest of the team Mischa@crystyl sighs and begins searching the old fashioned way NPC@annpc#557 | She finds no trace of her team or her gear in the area. However, the region is quite lively, with a number of insects and small critters. The environment is much more familiar to Mischa, with - NPC@annpc#557 - the plants being green again. In fact, it almost looks like it could be somewhere on Earth if not for a few telltale differences in the wildlife Mischa@crystyl searches for for anything of use, including something to dress in or distant landmarks to get her bearings NPC@annpc#557 | The environment is entirely natural and there are no clothes, though some of the palm-like trees have huge leaves which could likely be fashioned into makeshift clothing. She does notice - NPC@annpc#557 - the shape of towers very far in the distance beyond the water, though Mischa@crystyl takes her time, fashioning some crude modesty preservers from the palm leaves then begins walking NPC@annpc#557 | As she walks, she sees a variety of wildlife all going up to the edge of the lake to drink. Her path is cut off by a small group of elk-like creatures who seem to be on their way back to the - NPC@annpc#557 - forested area Mischa@crystyl gives the wildlife a wide berth so as not to spook them, finding a clear route to the highest ground she can find to get a better view NPC@annpc#557 | Inland beyond the forest is a small mountain range, but it would require travelling through the forest and climbing the mountains. Much closer, she can spot cliffs just a bit further along - NPC@annpc#557 - the side of the lake Mischa@crystyl heads for the cliffs NPC@annpc#557 | After a few more minutes of walking, Mischa begins to near the cliffs, which unsurprisingly seem to have a large number of birds circling overhead. As she gets closer however, a large shadow - NPC@annpc#557 - passes over her, and she realizes that the birds are bigger than she is... Mischa@crystyl tries to find cover, not wanting to rush into any unwise action NPC@annpc#557 | They are visibly natural and show no signs of being Horde thralls or sentient bipedal species, resembling Earth birds of prey quite a lot, just significantly larger Mischa@crystyl:"Leona I do believe it's time you get to stretch your wings properly, not like on the holodeck" she says to herself with a smile, kneeling and allowing Leona to come forth NPC@annpc#557 | Mischa finds cover nearby, watching the giant eagle-creature as it lands on the cliff. With closer observation, she sees that not all the birds are as big as it, and most of the circling birds - NPC@annpc#557 - are much smaller by comparison, but the huge bird likely makes its home on the cliff Mischa@crystyl | Leona flourishes to life before nestling beside Mischa so she can mount up before taking the skies together NPC@annpc#557 | As Leona and Mischa set off, many of the birds around the cliff scatter and flee. In the air, Mischa has a clearer view of her surroundings now, and can see the stark contrast in the regions - NPC@annpc#557:- where the environment changes radically. She also manages to ascertain that the towers she saw in the distance looks very similar to the Custodian station in the jungle, except this one is - NPC@annpc#557:- on the centre of an island in the middle of the large lake Mischa@crystyl figures it's one of the other stations Mia mentioned. She leans in and hugs herself against Leona, "Alright Leona, we need to find our lost friends so stay sharp" NPC@annpc#557 | The two circle the skies but find no sign of the team yet. However, Mischa does spot a number of drones moving in her and Leona's general direction... Mischa@crystyl:"And there's the welcoming committee. I'm afraid these drones don't like us flying in their airspace. Let's lose them if we can" NPC@annpc#557 | The drones do indeed begin to trail behind Leona, though from some distance away, and don't seem to be going hostile just yet... Mischa@crystyl:"Yes, this place is a lot bigger than the holodeck! But please don't get distracted, it is a little on the chilly side for me right now don't forget" Mischa@crystyl | Leona seems to find that funny as the pair continue searching NPC@annpc#557 | After a while, Leona manages to lose the drones as they continue searching... --- NPC@annpc#557 | The Observer's ship exits the wormhole with the Observer and Emma on board, revealing the familiar orbital view of the New World... Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles faintly, "Home sweet home I guess. Never thought I'd be back here so soon" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Observer: "But this is not where you originate from" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"No, but it is where I spent my last lifetime helping these people get on their feet. So it kind of feels like home after that. Besides, my place of birth is so distant in time and in space now it's- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- hardly home" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Observer gives her a curious look, "But it is where you are from. It was your home originally, it had to be by default. But then it stopped being home?" Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Sure. Come on, tell me you actually get the concept and don't take the whole thing as literally as you normally do?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Observer: "Are you talking about me now or the othe-" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes you! You ditz!" she teases Emma Ralde@crystyl | Observer: "I am afraid then I must disappoint as I do not understand..." she looks back to her controls, focusing on flying NPC@annpc#557 | A hail comes in from the planet surface... Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "Just remember one neat little idiom: Home is where the heart is" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Observer glances to Emma again, desperate to query how the heart is at home and not in her chest. But is forced to answer the hail... NPC@annpc#557 | Vora shows up on the screen, wearing her Orion outfit, "Welcome back, Observer. And you too, Ensign Ralde? To what do we owe this visit?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Supreme Commander, we bring urgent news from the Valley Forge. We must call an emergency conference of the Coalition representatives" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "I thought it wouldn't be good news for you to come all this way without sending word previously. Give me the rundown of what happened. Is Keelah and the Valley Forge alright?" Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "They are, but barely. Cliffnotes version: We found the Heart of War and moved to use it. The Architect betrayed us and used the crew's implants to enthrall them. They broke free, fought the - Emma Ralde@crystyl:QanwI' with the help of a lost Lupan tribe and a convenient Starfleet support ship. Then they escaped and are regrouping at the Lupan's colony. But the Architect has despatched intelligent thralls - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- to destroy our comms network and cut us off from the Coalition before reinforcements can join them. So, here we are" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "That's quite the tale. So the Architect, that Progenitor you recovered, he's /with/ the Horde now?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"He /is/ the Horde now. He was the one responsible for their creation. I have evidence of this for the Coalition as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "Well...that's definitely a problem. I assume the loss of your comm network is the reason you come here through the wormhole?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Indeed. It was only way to get word to the Coalition without abandoning our support team and losing eyes on the region" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "So Valley Forge is choosing to remain in the area and keep an eye on what's going on?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That's part of it. They suffered major structural damage and had to make port with the Lupan to repair as well. Then there's the infiltration team working inside the sphere to prepare for - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- the counterstrike" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "Setting up the Sphere and its assets to turn against the Architect when we launch our counterattack. Clever. And you mentioned Starfleet support? Did you open the gateways?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"No... This one isn't normal Starfleet. I suspect SFI" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods, "Intelligence...that might explain it. Sneaky little voles. Either they got special warp drives, or they've been tailing you this whole time." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Indeed. So, what about it? Can we get the Coalition leaders together with a view to getting reinforcements dispatched?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods, "I'll call an emergency meeting. It might take a few hours to get everyone assembled. I'll let you know when it'll be ready. Feel free to come down here for some fresh air before - NPC@annpc#557 - we're ready. That ship you're on looks pretty small." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"It would be nice to visit the colony again. May even swing by my old place and pick up a few things" she smiles NPC@annpc#557 | Vora smiles back, "You're welcome here at any time. I'll notify you when the meeting's about to start." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Great. Thank you Supreme Commander" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "Thank you for bringing news to us. I'll see you at the conference." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Will do" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods back and the call ends --- Mana@anncaris | A short while later, Thana is hailed by the New World surface again... Lorri@crystyl looks to the holo as it's announced and directed Mana@anncaris | Vora's image forms up on the holoprojector again, "I was going to give you a personal tour of the Orion District first, but I'm afraid that'll have to wait. There's been a development and the - Mana@anncaris - Coalition will be convening in a few hours. I've got some people to fill you in on the Horde before then." Lorri@crystyl:"Sounds serious. I'm guessing this is to do with that arrival before, Junayd was it you said?" Mana@anncaris | Vora nods, "It's a Junayd ship attached to the Valley Forge, the Starfleet vessel working with us out here. You've probably seen a few of their crew at Tabadi Mysti's funeral. Their comm - Mana@anncaris - system's been destroyed, so they sent the ship here to bring news." Lorri@crystyl:"And this convening is to hear that news I suppose. I would appreciate sitting in on that if it is not treading on anyone's toes. And of course, any assistance as you said about getting us up to - Lorri@crystyl:- speed in the meantime" Mana@anncaris | Vora: "I was just going to invite you to attend. As for getting you up to speed, I've already made preparations. Transport down to these coordinates with all your ship commanders. I'll have - Mana@anncaris - people catch you up." Lorri@crystyl:"Perfect, we'll be along shortly then" Mana@anncaris | Lorri, Kayd and the other commanders of the OSN ships beam down to a transporter pad, where they find an Orion female in a Colonial Fleet uniform awaiting them Mana@anncaris | Orion: "Welcome to the New World, Tabadin and Elts. I'm Javissa, or Javi for short." Lorri@crystyl looks around and steps off the pad, bowing her head to the greeting. Mostly in acknowledgement of the proper term being used. A rare sight in the modern galaxy, and better than she expected from - Lorri@crystyl:- the colonials, "Javi, thank you for hosting us" Mana@anncaris | Javi: "It's our pleasure. Follow me, I'll show you to the conference room." Lorri@crystyl nods and falls in line Mana@anncaris | Javi leads the way out of the transporter and into a hallway where a number of Arshai and Orions, and the occasional member of another species, are walking about their business. There are - Mana@anncaris - numerous signs in the Arshai language and Lorri spots several other transporters in the other rooms they pass by Mana@anncaris | Kayd: "This looks like a transporter hub." Lorri@crystyl takes it all. Suitably impressed by the colonials high standards Lorri@crystyl nods to Kayd, "Remarkable how closely this place has built like our own home isn't it" Mana@anncaris | Javi: "That's exactly what it is! Most buildings don't have transporters inside them and are too busy to transport right in the middle of, so we've given you the coordinates of the transporter - Mana@anncaris - closest to your destination. Don't worry, it's just a short walk away!" Mana@anncaris | Kayd nods, "It really is. Very impressive." Lorri@crystyl:"You don't need to apologize. It gives us a chance to see what you have achieved out here" Mana@anncaris | Javi: "Oh we didn't build all this. We only settled the Orion District about forty years ago. Most of the buildings in that expansion of the city were designed and built by Orions, but the - Mana@anncaris - Arshai have been developing the New World for hundreds of years. Of course, we've helped contribute to engineering and architecture across the main city after we settle here, but much of what - Mana@anncaris - you see outside the Orion District was built some time ago by the Arshai." Lorri@crystyl:"I hope we will still get to explore this Orion district while here" Mana@anncaris | They arrive at a lobby of several different lifts and Javi presses the central button Mana@anncaris | Javi: "Oh I'm sure you will! Whatever's happening, something as large as the Coalition will take time to mobilize. I doubt you'll be departing immediately." Mana@anncaris | One of the lifts open and Javi steps inside Lorri@crystyl nods as she follows into the lift Mana@anncaris | Javi selects their destination and the lift moves up Mana@anncaris | The door soon opens to another, smaller hallway. Javi leads the way down to the end before tapping a panel. The door slides open... Mana@anncaris | Inside is a conference room with a long table and a large number of chairs around it. On one end of the room there is a huge window offering a view of the city outside. They appear to be quite - Mana@anncaris - high up with a good look either across at the skyline or down to the city streets far below. In the room are seated several armoured aliens, all of them belonging to species completely unknown - Mana@anncaris - to the OSN Lorri@crystyl looks around before finding a seat with a courteous nod to those already in the room Mana@anncaris | Javi: "May I present Guardian-Captain Daian of the Light of Arindol and members of her crew." Mana@anncaris | Daian nods back, "It's good to have you here. We need all the support we can get." Lorri@crystyl:"Our people are eager to bring aid and assistance to their colonial cousins" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "You're Orion as well, aren't you? But from a different faction?" Lorri@crystyl:"Yes, I am what is most commonly called High Orion. The OSN represents a rebuilding and reclaiming of our ancestral homeworld and heritage" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "I don't know much about your people other than what I've picked up here, but rebuilding and reclaiming your heritage is something we Guardians can relate to. Anyways, as our ship's - Mana@anncaris:- still undergoing repairs, Supreme Commander Vora asked us to fill you in on the Horde." Lorri@crystyl:"We appreciate it. This is all a lot to fully grasp for us, coming in fresh like this" Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "I understand. We often have to explain the situation to unknowing civilizations just a few weeks or months before the Horde get to them, and convince them enough to evacuate. At - Mana@anncaris:- least you recognize the threat, and don't have an evacuation to worry about." Lorri@crystyl:"Our fleet is already equipped with this implant thing too, per our departing instructions" she says, again scratching the spot where it sits at the back of her neck Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Excellent. That should protect you from their greatest tool, the ability to instantly overtake the mind of any Children species. That makes it both impossible to fight them if you're - Mana@anncaris:- susceptible, and also significantly increases their numbers if they manage to consume an entire planet. But taking others isn't their only way of replenishing numbers." Lorri@crystyl:"Sounds like the Borg just with less cybernetics" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "I've heard about the Borg from the Valley Forge and the Regulators. The similarities are definitely present, but the Horde are more dangerous as an overall entity. From what I've read - Mana@anncaris:- about these Borg, a single Horde ship is nowhere near a match for a single Borg one. The Horde relies on two interconnected things- efficiency and numbers." Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Mass production is one of their greatest strengths. Their single ships aren't anything special, but what makes them dangerous is the ability to produce them quickly. And it's not just the ships, - Mana@anncaris:- but also the people," she nods to Valtar Mana@anncaris | Valtar: "Thralls- what we call the people under their control, are just another resource to them. They don't treat them like people, but like tools. The Horde use specific breeding programs, - Mana@anncaris:- essentially farms for people, where they breed their thralls faster than any biological race naturally would." Mana@anncaris | Daian: "Horde advances have been stopped before, but always at significant cost. We need time to rebuild and repopulate, but the Horde can do it faster. So in the long, we're always being - Mana@anncaris:- pushed back. The Horde is massive and one or two losses will barely dent them, so if we do well, it just inevitably turns into a war of attrition, and a war of attrition always favours the Horde." Lorri@crystyl:"I see. So who exactly /are/ this Horde? I mean, you keep talking about influence and control. But who is actually doing the controlling?" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "That's still something we're in the process of working out. We've always believed that it was one of the Primeval races or entities of the universe, but more recent information the - Mana@anncaris:- Coalition has found indicates that it's actually what remains of the ancient Progenitors who seeded our genetics and guided our evolution long ago. Apparently they designed a backdoor into our - Mana@anncaris:- minds, but the rest of their people didn't agree and they fell into some kind of civil conflict. The ones who supported the backdoor tried to use it to take control of an army of their Children - Mana@anncaris:- to defeat the other Progenitors, but they stretched themselves too far and went mad. The Horde is the result of that." Lorri@crystyl:"Curious. So the current theory then is that this Horde is essentially a hive mind of sorts?" Mana@anncaris | Valtar: "Essentially, yes. The Horde are in control of themselves. Their intelligence definitely derives from the thralls' own minds, a single thrall is as dangerous as a feral beast, and the - Mana@anncaris:- more of them are within telepathic range of one another, the smarter the group. But there is some form of central control binding the entire hive mind together. We used to think that was a - Mana@anncaris:- Primeval race, but now we believe it's what's left of the original Progenitors who created the Horde. From what we've been able to work out though, they're not so much directing the Horde as - Mana@anncaris:- influencing them with a perpetual hatred to consume everything else." Lorri@crystyl:"I see. It is a shame that this centralizing force can't be located and dealt with at the heart of things" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "The Valley Forge is working on a plan to deal with the Horde once and for all, but I suspect that's what the meeting is going to be about. In short, there's an Iconian sphere which - Mana@anncaris:- they hope to use to wipe out the entire Horde." Lorri@crystyl perks a brow, "Iconian as in, a Dyson sphere? If I recall correctly didn't they first set out from Federation space to find one such sphere which connected to a newly discovered world on the - Lorri@crystyl:- frontier border? Does this mean they actually knew about the Horde all along and that was just a cover to send a mission out here to investigate the Horde?" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "From my understanding, they came here to find the sphere, but only learned of the Horde after they set out. I'm sure word of the Horde had reached their home territory before then, but - Mana@anncaris:- like any civilization still far from the front lines, they usually dismiss it as rumours or tall tales until the Horde gets close enough to impact them. Sometimes too late, when they're close - Mana@anncaris:- enough to be influenced." Lorri@crystyl:"Could well be. So what's the current situation in this fight? We've seen a lot of ships out there, and a lot seem to be working through repairs - presumably from the recent conflict that was - Lorri@crystyl:- mentioned where you held them back, I think" Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "That's correct. They made two advances recently. The first one destroyed the Progenitor station the Lupan had claimed as their Holy City, and were only fully stopped at the - Mana@anncaris:- refugee colony of Terminu, but not until the colony was already consumed. The Coalition gathered there to liberate who we could from Terminu before the second attack came. The second advance was - Mana@anncaris:- attack on the New World from two directions, a smaller attack once again coming from the direction of Terminu to divert our attention while the second fleet consumed the Felmoran civilization, or - Mana@anncaris:- Lodzki as they call themselves, and struck the New World from a different direction." Lorri@crystyl:"Bolstering their numbers before hitting you. Smart" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "The Valley Forge destroyed the first fleet by detonating the Terminu star, wiping out all the Horde ships that had gathered in the system, along with the thralls on the planet which we - Mana@anncaris:- weren't able to free. Then we were able to warn the Lodzki in the nick of time and evacuate their population, even equip a fraction of their ships with the implants to help in the coming battle. - Mana@anncaris:- We met the second fleet head on in the Calahadon system here in Colonial Space and were just able to stop them before they reached the New World. That's the battle responsible for most of the - Mana@anncaris:- damage you see now, including that of my own ship." Lorri@crystyl:"Do we know what the Horde's next move will be, or even where they are now?" Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "We do, and it's not good. They sent a number of stealth ships and managed to influence a few civilizations behind us, but the Regulators got that under control.â€ Mana@anncaris| Daian: â€œUnfortunately they were able to take control of one or two Carran ships before they could be stopped, which means the Carrans' maps of the subspace tunnels are now known to the Horde. That's why - Mana@anncaris:- Carran representatives have been called here, and it's going to be one of the subjects discussed in the upcoming meeting." Lorri@crystyl:"Sounds like you cut their forces right down so now it's a kneejerk reaction to recoup their losses by claiming civilizations beyond their reach" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "The last advance we stopped was bigger than anything the Guardians have managed to halt before. While their attempts to claim civilizations beyond their reach so far have failed, their - Mana@anncaris:- learning of the subspace tunnels means that a lot more civilizations suddenly became fully within their reach, and that's a problem we need to deal with fast." Lorri@crystyl:"Those corridors lead right back to our home as well..." Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "That's why we plan to seal every corridor rimward of Vue-En, cut off the Horde's ability to use them. But to do that, we need the Carrans' cooperation because only they know where - Mana@anncaris:- the corridors are. Even the Regulators don't have a way of mapping them quickly- the Carrans only managed it after generations of dangerous exploration." Lorri@crystyl:"That could mean cutting off half of their client base. That will not be an easy sell" Mana@anncaris | Daian: "There's not much rimward of here except the Horde right now, but the Carrans still aren't willing to cooperate. It'll cut off their future ventures, especially if we do wipe out the - Mana@anncaris:- Horde for good. Then there's suddenly a lot of free space opening up rimwards, areas the Carrans won't be able to provide transport to. But it's better than giving the Horde access to quick - Mana@anncaris:- passageways directly to your home, and the Carrans' home. We'll just have to convince them in the meeting..." Lorri@crystyl:"I do not envy you that task, but will lend my support in whatever capacity I am able" Mana@anncaris | Daian smiles, "Thank you. Your people are known for your persuasiveness, after all. I'll be happy to have your support. Do you have any other questions?" Lorri@crystyl:"There is plenty we have to learn, but you have already given us a lot to absorb" Mana@anncaris | Daian nods, "I'll give you time to process it before the meeting, then. We appreciate you coming here to lend our assistance. Don't be afraid to call us if there's anything else you need." Lorri@crystyl smiles, "I promise to pester you whenever we have questions" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Like Mischa, Rianni gets a glimpse of the facility before suddenly being beamed away, finding herself in the same environment as Mischa but with all her gear gone. The same lake is visible in - NPC@annpc#557 - the distance and she must not be too far from Mischa, though she doesn't know it... Rianni@crystyl looks around in confusion briefly before glancing down and realizing she's lost... everything. Squeaking in surprise and instinctively moving to cover herself before looking around again to realize- Rianni@crystyl:- she's alone, "Um... Commander...?" she tentatively calls out NPC@annpc#557 | Unfortunately, Mischa is not within earshot, nor anywhere close enough to be seen Rianni@crystyl is much less comfortable with feeling so exposed than Mischa was, and her first instinct is to find a means to cover herself NPC@annpc#557 | Once again there is no sign of clothes, and the closest thing are the large palm leaves in the coastal trees Rianni@crystyl is likely already hiding in a bush near them by the time she realizes they are her best hope, so quickly gets to work NPC@annpc#557 | With a little work, Rianni manages to fashion some very makeshift garments from the leaves Rianni@crystyl emerges, giving herself a final look over before accepting her handiwork. "Ok, think it through... I remember seeing what looked like the control facility but then it felt like I was beamed right - Rianni@crystyl:- back off the pad. A defense mechanism of some sort...?" she muses to herself while walking in no particular direction, "Must be redirecting unrecognized patterns. But where to, and why am I the - Rianni@crystyl:- only one here...?" NPC@annpc#557 | As she thinks, she notes the shape of towers far off in the centre of the lake, and how the plants in her surroundings are once again a more familiar earth-like green Rianni@crystyl makes her way towards the lake towers to get a better look NPC@annpc#557 | There's only so much she can make out from the distance, but it seems to be the same type of towers as where they beamed from earlier. There is also no sign of land around it, indicating it is - NPC@annpc#557:- either built on a peninsula or an island Rianni@crystyl would continue all the way to the water's edge and begin circling the lake NPC@annpc#557 | As she circles the lake, Rianni notices large reptilian creatures either basking or prowling by the shore... NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/8073158440d31b7211e8d1d683f2e5a7829eaa57/31_0_940_564/master/940.png?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=782fe9ef2ccdb8c6d489a1e9d453577a Rianni@crystyl decides it's best not to take risks with them and tries to go around NPC@annpc#557 | Going around takes her to the forest edge and she manages to proceed forward for a good few minutes before she sees a figure prowling out of the forest a little ahead of her NPC@annpc#557 | As it exits towards the lake, she gets a closer view of it and sees that it is a large predatory cat of some description... Rianni@crystyl finda cover as soon as she sees movement NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.pinimg.com/originals/66/7c/c0/667cc03db4eebe3b49242a0ebf87ff44.jpg Rianni@crystyl definitely doesn't regret her decision when she sees it. Seeing no option to avoid drawing it's attention, she waits and watches NPC@annpc#557 | The feline either doesn't notice her or isn't interested in her. It looks more like the latter as the creature slowly prowls up behind the reptiles before suddenly breaking into a sprint Rianni@crystyl can only watch as nature takes its course NPC@annpc#557 | The reptiles dash for the water, but one of them is too slow as the feline pounces, sinking its fangs into the creature's thick scaly hide NPC@annpc#557 | The rest of the reptiles make their escape, swimming away while the feline, content with the result of its hunt, begins to consume its kill Rianni@crystyl looks for an opportunity to move around the distracted feline NPC@annpc#557 | The feline seems focused on its meal and doesn't appear to be paying much attention Rianni@crystyl makes her move, stalking around it as far back as she can NPC@annpc#557 | The feline makes no move towards Rianni and she stalks around it and is able to move further along the lake edge Rianni@crystyl continues apace, not wanting to get stalked upon by another feline. Though she does keep a closer eye on the water for the large swimming reptiles again with view to trying to tame one into - Rianni@crystyl:- riding it to the tower if needed NPC@annpc#557 | She walks for a few more minutes, but the lake is large and she has not made much progress in circling it. She does however spot another group of reptiles basking on the beach Rianni@crystyl decides to try her luck and attempts to bond with one of them. She looks for what they're eating, and if she can get some to offer NPC@annpc#557 | She spots one of them flipping over turtle-like creatures on the beach and trying to eat them Rianni@crystyl figures she should be able to nab a turtle so begins hunting for one NPC@annpc#557 | The turtles are slow, and once she finds one, it doesn't take much to catch Rianni@crystyl holds it upside down by its shell and offered forward in an outstretched hand as she slowly approaches to get the attention of one of the reptiles NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile eyes her cautiously before leaning in towards the turtle Rianni@crystyl holds it steady, "That's it. You can have it. Go on, it's really not to my taste anyway" she speaks with a soft voice to acclimatize the reptile to her presence NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile looks to her cautiously again, before beginning to eat away at the turtle Rianni@crystyl slowly draws the extended arm close enough that she can reach the reptile's head with her free hand. Then holds it palm out towards the creature so it has to nestle it's head against her hand if it- Rianni@crystyl:- wants to keep eating NPC@annpc#557 | It does indeed keep eating, nestling its head against her hand! Rianni@crystyl smiles again, "You're just a big softie really aren't you" slowly moving her hand across it's head NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile gets accustomed to Rianni's presence as it finishes eating the turtle, not minding her hand on its head Rianni@crystyl:"So far so good... now we just need to coax you into taking me to the tower..." Rianni@crystyl slowly rises, enough at least to be able to glide her hand down the reptiles back and move to a mounting position without releasing her hand from it NPC@annpc#557 | She manages to mount the reptile, but it simply sits back down and basks on the beach... Rianni@crystyl frowns, "Hey, no! That's not the deal. We need to go that way" she points, for some reason. Playing aside, she does try nudging it's sides with her legs while leaning her weight to one side to steer Rianni@crystyl also doesn't seem to particularly enjoy the feeling of the reptiles scales against her exposed flesh NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile does eventually get nudged in the right direction and trudges towards the water Rianni@crystyl:"Attaboy! Unless you're a girl... if so I do apologize. But come now, to the tower!" she gives it another encouraging nudge NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile trudges deeper into the water before diving in, the water first going up to Rianni's waist before slowly rising higher and higher as it swims deeper... Rianni@crystyl starts to grow concerned, trying to lean back and pull the reptile up to a shallower depth, "Nooo... nononono... not good not good..." NPC@annpc#557 | The water gets up to her shoulders... Rianni@crystyl tries harder to pull the reptile back up before with one final tug at the sides of its head where she's holding on NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile bolts up to the surface of the water at the final tug and stops moving Rianni@crystyl pants with relief and flops against its back, holding on tightly, "Ok, I'm sorry I called you a boy, geez...!" she rests her head against the reptiles, stroking at it's cheek, "Come on now, we've - Rianni@crystyl:- got this. Just nice and shallow like a good girl" NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile continues swimming on, staying shallow. The water still reaches up to Rianni's waist at the lowest and sometimes goes higher, but it doesn't dive and bring it up to her shoulders Rianni@crystyl keeps petting the reptile encouragingly as they progress, "That's my good girl!" NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile swims over towards the centre of the lake steadily, and the towers loom closer and closer into view Rianni@crystyl continues her steady rhythm of guiding and rewarding with affection as they go NPC@annpc#557 | With a little more work, Rianni eventually manages to guide the reptile to the shores of the central island! Rianni@crystyl rides up onto the beach before trying to stop the reptile, looking for it's favourite food to stop near NPC@annpc#557 | There are indeed a few turtles crawling about the beach here as well! Rianni@crystyl tries to stop the reptile nearby and hops off, hugging the creature with an extra affectionate reward before going to retrieve a turtle for it NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile nuzzles Rianni's hand of its own accord before eating away at the turtle Rianni@crystyl smiles, petting it fondly as it eats from her hand, "Thank you girl, you're the best! Now let's just hope coming here was the right move..." NPC@annpc#557 | The Iconian towers loom in the distance not far from the shore, accompanied by the usual activity of busy drones Rianni@crystyl sits with the reptile while feeding it so she can recover her own strength. She faces towards the tower, "What do you think, girl? Good drones or shooty drones?" NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile does not reply, of course, but it also doesn't seem spooked by the presence of these drones, which is likely a good sign Rianni@crystyl smiles, petting it more as it eats and likely rests from the long swim too, "Yeah, I think you're right. They must be good drones. I don't suppose you'd care to join me for a nice long walk and - Rianni@crystyl:- climb of those towers now, would you..." NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile indeed lies down on the sand and begins to bask in the sun Rianni@crystyl:"Figures... well unlike /some/ here, I have a job to do. And I have to find my friends! It's ok for you, you know where yours are" she says, getting to her feet NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile looks up at Rianni as it continues to bask Rianni@crystyl:"Nono, don't get up on my account..." she kneels for a final farewell before the reptile, cradling it's head, "Just do me a favour and try to avoid cats, ok? They are not good for you" NPC@annpc#557 | The reptile nuzzles Rianni again before getting fully back into its resting position again Rianni@crystyl pats it on the head one last time before turning, adjusting her now soaked leaves, and beginning the next leg of her journey NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, Mischa and Leona continue circling the skies when Leona catches sight of Rianni on the edge of the central island! Rianni@crystyl | Leona leans in, tilting her head with an instinctive dialogue with Mischa Rianni@crystyl | Mischa peers down and smiles, "Impressive. We appear to have a shared sense of fashion" Rianni@crystyl | Leona gives a disapproving roar Rianni@crystyl | Mischa chuckles, "You know I don't mean it. But that she reached the tower so quickly is quite the achievement. Let's go, find a place out of sight to set down ahead of her" NPC@annpc#557 | It would be difficult to land among the dense towers, but Leona can set down on the coast on the far side of Rianni, using the towers for cover from her! Rianni@crystyl | Leona does so, reverting to her resting form on Mischa's back once they are down so Mischa can let Rianni find her on foot NPC@annpc#557 | Last she saw from the air, Rianni seems to be heading towards the towers Rianni@crystyl | Mischa stretches after the long ride, then starts walking with aim to intercept Rianni at the tower, if not on her way to it NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni makes her way to the towers first, where the non-combat drones are roaming, but Mischa can manage to catch her among the structures Rianni@crystyl | Mischa would go out of her way to circle around and casually appear ahead of the young Ensign. Not that she's competitive in any way of course... NPC@annpc#557 | As Rianni makes her way through the towers, Mischa appears in front of her! Rianni@crystyl | Mischa stands nonchalantly leaning against a wall, magically acknowledging Rianni's presence without even looking up, "About time, Ensign" she smiles Rianni@crystyl jumps at first before looking over, "Commander?! Oh thank the stars this was right call" NPC@annpc#557 | The non-combat drones whiz around the towers, going about their own business, either not detecting the two or not caring about their presence Rianni@crystyl | Mischa: "A good call indeed. However, I have yet to see either of the others here" Rianni@crystyl draws nearer, "Perhaps they were sent further away. Did it place you on the island here?" Rianni@crystyl | Mischa shakes her head, pointing off to the distance, "Nope. I was out that way somewhere. You?" Rianni@crystyl points back the way she came from, "Near the shore that way" her arm dripping with water still, which she shakes off Rianni@crystyl | Mischa looks up and smiles, "That must have been quite the swim..." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "I hitched a ride" paying closer attention to Mischa suddenly, "But you don't seem to have swum across..." Rianni@crystyl | Mischa chuckles, "Ask no questions and I'll tell no lies" Rianni@crystyl scowls, "That's not an answer..." muttered to herself NPC@annpc#557 | The two also note that they fashioned both their makeshift clothes from the same kind of plant, indicating that despite the distance, they must have been dropped in the same general environment Rianni@crystyl:"This whole area must be within the same biome. So odds are that the others are here somewhere" she points out the matched outfits Rianni@crystyl | Mischa, "Indeed. But there is no guarantee that the others are here, we should press on" she stands, turning to head further in Rianni@crystyl follows, getting her first sight of the dominating dragon across Mischa's... everything Rianni@crystyl:"Commander... is that a tattoo? Like... /one/ big one?" Rianni@crystyl | Mischa glances back with a smile, "She is" Rianni@crystyl doubletakes, "...she...?" shakes her head, "Well it is very striking. I did not expect such a thing from you, if you don't mind my saying" Rianni@crystyl | Mischa laughs, "Funny. I get that a lot, but I'm glad you appreciate it" Rianni@crystyl tries to look more closely, "It is so detailed... it's beautiful!" Rianni@crystyl pauses midstep, doubletaking again with a sudden thought 'did... the tattoo's tail just move...? No, that's just impossible!' Rianni@crystyl the pair press on, deeper into the structures to find a way up NPC@annpc#557 | They soon come across a familiar looking structure, one that looks identical to the structure they found the transporter in while they were at the previous technological area in the jungle... Rianni@crystyl | Mischa: "Well this looks promising" Rianni@crystyl:"I wish Mia was here..." Rianni@crystyl | Mischa nods, "We do not want to end up circling back and going through all this again" Rianni@crystyl:"So what do we do?" Rianni@crystyl | Mischa: "We'll try and get it working first. If we can, we'll transport together. Hopefully then if we do get hurled away, we don't have to start from scratch alone" Rianni@crystyl nods and gets to work NPC@annpc#557 | Inside the building, Mischa and Rianni do indeed find another transporter with the same terminal for operating it Rianni@crystyl | The pair work on trying to activate it NPC@annpc#557 | Though an alien interface, it does not appear to be particularly complicated, and the two manage to activate it! Without universal translators, the destinations are a bit harder to understand, - NPC@annpc#557 - but the Superintendent destination clearly stands out from all the different Custodian ones which use the same words with a different ending, which is likely the custodian number Rianni@crystyl | Mischa: "Alright, moment of truth" Rianni@crystyl nods, "I'm with you Commander" Rianni@crystyl the pair get into position and try the transporter once again NPC@annpc#557 | The two beam away and materialize in the same area they briefly saw before. Once again, they are frozen in confinement beams before they can do anything, but they are given another glimpse of - NPC@annpc#557 - the room, where they can see their own clothes and gear, along with T'Lana's, lying on a nearby transporter pad. Before they can retrieve anything however, they are transported yet again... NPC@annpc#557 | ...and find themselves materializing in the same environment, now back on the other side of the lake with the towers visible in the distance Rianni@crystyl | The pair look around wearily Rianni@crystyl | Mischa: "Well I suppose we knew that could happen" Rianni@crystyl smiles, "At least we still have our leaves!" Rianni@crystyl | Mischa chuckles, "True enough. But now we have to start again and find another way into the facility" Rianni@crystyl looks around, "Well I'm certainly open to alternative ideas" Rianni@crystyl | Mischa: "There could be one option..." she steps forward, kneeling in a familiar pose Rianni@crystyl:"Commander?" she moves to follow her Rianni@crystyl | Mischa holds a hand back, "Please Ensign, stay back. And do not be afraid" she looks up and closes her eyes, "Time to play..." --- NPC@annpc#557 | As the Coalition meeting time is finalized, Lorri and Kayd make their way through the large fancy Council Complex on Vue-En... NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "These Arshai do know how to design, don't they?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri nods: "I'll admit; this is a far cry from what I imagined" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Not to mention that orbital ring- both impressive visually /and/ technologically. Well, it's just one massive orbital shipyard, we have the technology to make it as well, but it's a lot - NPC@annpc#557 - of resources dedicated into that." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri: "Indeed. Is it bad that I'm a little disappointed by this?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "What /were/ you expecting?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri scoffs, "Ramshackle huts cobbled together from ship ruins maybe?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd chuckles, "Hoping to be the big heroes swooping in to provide them with the tech and supplies they need?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri: "Not so much that. But it would have been nice to let them see our restoration of Orion glory for what it is. As things are, the colonials are pretty on par with us. That makes it harder - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- to entice them into coming home" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Though as Javi said, most of the things here were built by the Arshai. There's only a fraction of the structures here that's Orion. I imagine there's a good number who'd like a world that - NPC@annpc#557 - is entirely Orion." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri: "A fair point, we can certainly play to that" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Not to mention that we've brought the Thana here, which is much more appealing than those Syndicate barges the Colonials field. They do have their own ship designs, but it's much more - NPC@annpc#557 - function over form except for the Baseships. Those ones have got a little Orion influence, but they're still no Thana." Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "That certainly is a feather in our caps. Not just Thana, but the whole fleet here is quite the bold statement. Especially when you think all of the other quadrant powers have but a single - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- ship in this fight" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Indeed. That's certainly a demonstration of our restoration of Orion glory if there ever was one!" NPC@annpc#557 | As they speak, Lorri notices a familiar Orion walking by... Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri doubletakes, "Is that-... no, that's impossible" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd stops and looks at the passing Orion, "That's a Starfleet uniform if I'm not mistaken...not a Colonial one. But we didn't see the Starfleet ship in orbit. Why, do you recognize her?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri shakes her head distantly, "I thought I did. But there's no way it could be her, whoever that girl is she is far too young" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Could be her daughter, maybe. Sometimes they can bear a striking resemblance to their mother. You think it's worth an ask? She's no Colonial, but she's still Orion, and there's plenty - NPC@annpc#557 - of time before the meeting." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri shrugs, "I am equally curious about the uniform admittedly. See which way she went?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd nods, "Over here," she adds with a smirk, "Cybernetic eyes have their advantages." Emma Ralde@crystyl stands talking to some locals who conveniently depart just as the pair arrive Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri eyerolls at the pro-cybernetics, as usual Emma Ralde@crystyl turns to find the two coming up behind her, "Oh! Pardon me, I didn't see you there Tabadin" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd smiles, "Someone else who knows the correct term. I'm impressed." Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles, "I see the OSN is holding to it's mantra of restoring what once was, rather than changing to meet what is like the colonial Orions" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd nods, "That is our goal. But you're neither wearing our uniform, nor the Colonial one. And I don't see the Starfleet ship around here..." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That's because they are not here. I got a lift back with a friend in order to address the Coalition here. So you ladies must have just arrived recently?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd nods, "Was the wormhole we saw you? If it was, then we arrived around the same time as you did." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"It was! Perfect timing then. I haven't seen the OSN in a long time, so it was quite the welcome surprise to see your fleet here!" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "You've seen the OSN before?" She glances to Lorri, "Does this mean she is the one you recognized? Or at least related to her?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri, "She certainly does that same look about her..." looking to Emma, "Was your mother by chance involved with us in the early days?" Emma Ralde@crystyl laughs, "Quite possible. But not the early days you're thinking of" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd looks between the two, confused, "I was a later joiner. Just how early are we talking about?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That would explain why I don't recognize you. It's been quite some time..." she turns to you, "But I remember you very well Tabadi Lorri" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri squints, "So it /is/ you. But... how? You don't look a day older..." Emma Ralde@crystyl waves a nonchalant hand, "Long story" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "So you /do/ know each other." She looks at Emma closely, "We have some time before the meeting. Were you in a stasis chamber? Or a temporal event, perhaps?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"A temporal event would be the closest analogy. I guess it's not so much of a secret these days, so yeah... there was an incident, but it happened a very long time ago" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "During the early days of the OSN? Do you know anything about this, Lorri?" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri shakes her head, "Before my time, so I only know stories and records" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "But I've never seen records of a temporal event like this...unless we didn't know it /was/ a temporal event at the time?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I was with Starfleet then. Or at least, what would become Starfleet. It wasn't actually a temporal event in the typical sense, but there was an incident involving the mycelial network" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Suffice to say... it left a /lasting/ mark on me" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "The...what network? Was that an old intelligence thing? Like the Scryer Network?" Emma Ralde@crystyl chuckles, "No, it's a reality layer within the universe. Think of it like... a galactic link between all the layers of subspace. It's what binds them - and our reality - together" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Let me guess- Starfleet was trying to study it and got into more than they could handle?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Something like that" she nods, "So anyway, since then I've batted around all over the place. This is actually my third tour with Starfleet now. I parted from the OSN shortly after the Circle's - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- formation as I heard about the colonials efforts out here and wanted to help them too. When Starfleet turned up, and in the current climate, I decided it was time to return to them" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "You were involved with the OSN all the way before the Circle's formation? And three tours in Starfleet...how old /are/ you, anyways?" Emma Ralde@crystyl smirks, wagging her finger, "Didn't anyone tell you it's rude to ask a lady that?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd chuckles, "Most ladies aren't around for as long as you are without aging a day." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Well that aside, I'm more interested in hearing about you! We got a glimpse at that flagship of your fleet on the way in. I see the OSN is here to make a statement as much as lend support" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd smirks, "The Thana's not just good for her looks, you know. She packs a proper punch in battle too. But we are here to make a statement as well, hopefully get some recruits and support in - NPC@annpc#557:- return once the fight is done here." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Then you should hope we find the Valley Forge in good health still. Many colonials left here when I did and signed onto that crew after meeting Lendaria and learning about the OSN from her" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Where is the rest of your crew, by the way?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Some way rimward of here. Don't worry, all the details will be in the briefing" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"But tell me, how is the rest of the Circle - and Emeria?" She looks to Kayd, "Apologies Tabadi, but I did not even get your name" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "I'm Kayd. Emeria's not on the Circle anymore, after the whole business between her and Vora. She's still with us and commands a ship, but her ship is patrolling our territories. The - NPC@annpc#557:- Circle decided not to bring her here given her relation with Vora." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Oh that's a shame, but I understand. I have never quizzed Vora on her past dealings with the OSN knowing it to be a touchy subject. But I can indeed see how she and Emeria would lock claws" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "They're not too different. Maybe too similar in some ways, which ended up working against them." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes, they really aren't are they!" she chuckles NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd nods, "I imagine they must've worked quite well together, back when they were working together. But bringing her here now is just not a good idea. The rest of the Circle's doing quite - NPC@annpc#557:- well, fortunately. I assume you've long since heard about Mysti now." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods solemnly, "I regret that I was not there for the memorial. She was a kindred spirit" smiles again, "But it is welcome to see her daughter flourishing as she is! Lennie has a lot of her mother - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- her you know, that matriarchal blood runs thick after all" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd nods and smiles, "I remember seeing her at the memorial. I look forward to meeting her again here, whenever we're able to meet up with your ship." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Oh! And I am glad you are here too, we have some remarkable data for you ladies!" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Oh? What kind of data?" Emma Ralde@crystyl 's eyes glisten with wonder, "From the origin our people!" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd gives Emma a confused look, "From...the origin of our people? Did you discover something about us? All the way out here?" Emma Ralde@crystyl grins, looking down at her feet as she sticks one out a little, wiggling it back and forth, "What if I told you these feet have walked on our homeworld. Not the plundered ruins built over by the - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- Syndicate-" she turns to Lorri, "- Not even the artisan society of old who became the High Orions as we know them" looking again between the two, "But on the unsullied, pure eden as it was when - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- our ancient ancestors were barely evolved into functional bipeds!" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd widens her eyes, "How's that possible?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Ok, that one was a proper temporal thingymajig! I know it's not restored history in the sense you strive to reclaim in the OSN. But I think it is something infinitely more valuable! A first hand - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- look at our homeworld, and the people who would eventually grow into the Orion species!" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Really? You must be a magnet for temporal events or something..." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yeah... go figure" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri just... stares at her dumbfounded, "...Goddess" Emma Ralde@crystyl wags a finger, "Hey! Now don't start that up again!" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri smiles, "Sorry; Emerald Princess" Emma Ralde@crystyl eyerolls, "I... don't really care for that name either, you know. It's just plain Emma now - Emma Ralde" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "Was that what you were called in the OSN?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I had built something of a reputation among many of the founding Circle for being a sort of 'guiding light'. They pinned the name on me. well, the title" Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri shakes her head, "She's being modest as ever. kayd, you're looking at the one who first lit the spark of revolution for the founding Circle. Emerald Princess was a compromise after many had- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- taken to referring to her as 'the Goddess Incarnate'. Some of the Elders even insisted that she was fulfilling a prophesied return of the Goddess herself to guide the Orion people back to purity" Emma Ralde@crystyl groans, "...like I said, they pinned it on me" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "And now you've brought back invaluable data from the old homeworld." She smirks, "Maybe you /are/ the Goddess returned." Emma Ralde@crystyl mutters, "Please don't start spreading that again... It's honestly hard enough to sway all the Orions on the Valley Forge from such beliefs after they learned of what happened" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "No need to be modest. You /have/ been important. You might not be a literal goddess, but the way you don't age...you can hardly blame them for thinking you are, on top of all you've done. Emma Ralde@crystyl sighs, "I know. That's what makes it so hard!" she adds with a chuckle NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd chuckles, "I'll try to avoid calling you that, then. But you certainly seem to bring good things for us every time we run into you. The OSN will love to have that data you've collected." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"And nothing will make me happier than seeing it in the hands of Orions who value it" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "And value it we certainly will. First, we should get going to that meeting here. Got to make sure that Starfleet ship of yours makes it back in one piece." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Yes, let us proceed to the conference" she smiles, "Tabadin, it would be an honour if you would allow me to walk with you" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "The honours all ours, Goddess. I mean, Emerald Princess," she says with a smirk Emma Ralde@crystyl groans and slumps as she begins walking with the pair --- Mischa@crystyl | Rianni staggers backwards as Leona emerges, falling on her rear and watching - dumbstruck Mischa@crystyl | Leona settles and Mischa is soon stood back before Rianni with an outstretched hand to help her up Mischa@crystyl | Rianni looks up with uncertainty, "Commander...?" Mischa@crystyl smiles, "I told you not be afraid" Mischa@crystyl | Leona gives off a gurgling noise, like a dormant roar waiting to escape as she curls around and lays her head to the floor beside Mischa Mischa@crystyl | Rianni, "Commander, you... your tattoo is looking at me..." Mischa@crystyl chuckles, pulling Rianni to her feet, "I told you I hitched a ride to the island before" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "Yes, but you didn't say anything about that ride living on your back! What... is it?" Mischa@crystyl:"She" she corrects, "She is Leona" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "Is that her name or her species?" Mischa@crystyl laughs, "Maybe it's both, like your Tiah. But Leona is not so much a stranger as you may think. I believe you know her sister... Laesa" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni turns back, wide eyed, "Laesa?!" looking back to Leona, "I don't exactly see the family resemblance..." Mischa@crystyl:"Leona was the first of their kind to fully emerge into our universe. An embodiment of curiosity, as she was, found her way here and chance brought us together. She took this form from my mind and - Mischa@crystyl:- so it has been ever since" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "...remarkable" Mischa@crystyl mounts up and extends a hand once more, "Come on now. It's time for us to reach that tower" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni tentatively lets herself be hoisted up on Leona's back, and Leona sweeps up to the skies once more Mischa@crystyl | Rianni yelps and hangs on to Mischa for dear life, no thought for the fact she's a senior officer, or a relative stranger, or virtually naked... T'Lana@anncaris | Fortunately, the Superintendent facility orbits very close to the Sphere surface, close enough that they are able to fly to it on Leona. However, it does take quite a long time to fly to it, - T'Lana@anncaris - given the huge size of the Sphere. Leona may even need a few breaks, but eventually they are able to reach the facility, a large facility slowly floating its way above the landscapes below, - T'Lana@anncaris - skimming the clouds as it passes by. There are sizable landing platforms on the sides, big enough for Leona to land on Mischa@crystyl points, "There's our entry point. Not as discrete as I would prefer, but needs must" she glances back and chuckles at Rianni who still hangs on for dear life, eyes shut and clutching tightly Mischa@crystyl:"You really should try opening your eyes and experiencing this at it's fullest you know" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni tries, bravely squinting one eye open. Then the other. Then as she takes in the awe of it, she begins to relax and look around more Mischa@crystyl smiles, "There you go. Hang on though, we'll be touching down soon. I need you to watch the area while Leona rests again" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni nods, "Understood. Well, no not understood at all to be honest. But I will follow your orders, of course" Mischa@crystyl | They make for one of the platforms and touch down. Rianni dutifully hopping off and quickly scouting the area while Mischa and Leona settle back to normal T'Lana@anncaris | Rianni notes a drone emerging from a nearby vent. It doesn't engage however, merely watches for a few seconds before disappearing back into the vent Mischa@crystyl joins Rianni once she's finished Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "They know we're here" Mischa@crystyl nods, "To be expected. Stay sharp". she begins looking for an entrance T'Lana@anncaris | There is a main entrance from the landing area into the facility, but it is unsurprisingly shut. Mischa notices a few drone vents nearby, some reachable from the landing pad. They are also - T'Lana@anncaris - closed and may be dangerous to travel in, but likely easier to get open than the main entrance Mischa@crystyl:"Let's try the main entrance first" she heads over and begins assessing it T'Lana@anncaris | As expected, the entrance is closed and locked. Mischa can't even do anything with the access panel, as it doesn't recognize her as authorized to access the facility Mischa@crystyl sighs softly, "Of course, it's the hard way" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni nods and makes her way to the nearest accessible drone hatch to try her luck there T'Lana@anncaris | The drone hatch does not show any access interface nor opens for Rianni on approach. However, Rianni does notice that a few non-combat drones seem to be coming and going from the vents with no - T'Lana@anncaris - problem, and she spots what seems to be a broken drone or a part of one lying on a small ledge just below the landing platform... Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "Commander, I've got an idea. If we can get that broken drone down there, I think it could hold an IFF of sorts that will make the hatch open for us" Mischa@crystyl:"Worth a try" she nods, moving to assist Rianni in retrieving it T'Lana@anncaris | It takes a little precarious climbing, but they are able to retrieve the drone! Mischa@crystyl pulls her back to relative safety before the pair both move to the hatch and try their luck again T'Lana@anncaris | The hatch opens as soon as the drone comes into proximity, and closes once the drone is far enough away Mischa@crystyl:"I'll take point. Let's move" T'Lana@anncaris | The pair have to crawl through the drone vent, but fortunately they don't run into any drones before they come across an exit into the inside of the facility. Below a short drop, they see a - T'Lana@anncaris - larger interior room... Mischa@crystyl signals that she's going in and drops down, making sure it's clear before waving Rianni to follow T'Lana@anncaris | The room does indeed appear to be clear. There is no sign of drone activity, just a large number of machinery and consoles whose text is illegible to them without Mia or a universal translator Mischa@crystyl | Rianni soon drops down beside Mischa, looking around intently trying to recognize anything from their brief glimpses earlier T'Lana@anncaris | The general architecture of the wall appears to line up, but there is no transporter pads in sight, nor any of their gear Mischa@crystyl & Rianni begin a cautious and systematic search of the area T'Lana@anncaris | They can discern that some of the readouts on the consoles display various types of sensor/observation data, but not precisely what is being observed. Given the size of the facility as they - T'Lana@anncaris - saw from outside, the interior is likely quite big, and the transporters they came in on could easily be in another part of the facility Mischa@crystyl | Mischa focuses on learning anything of use, while Rianni tries to find some means of defending herself against the drones T'Lana@anncaris | There is no sign of weapons in the area. Mischa has better luck, recognizing a few symbols on the consoles as the words she saw on the transporter interface earlier, specifically, the words - T'Lana@anncaris - pertaining to the various Custodians... Mischa@crystyl:"We should return here once we find the others. Come on, let's keep searching" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni nods and follows as the pair explore deeper into the tower T'Lana@anncaris | They continue exploring the facility, having no luck finding the others or their equipment. As they explore however, several vents above them open, and four combat drones stream out towards - T'Lana@anncaris - them! Mischa@crystyl:"Well it took them long enough... get to cover!" T'Lana@anncaris | The two rush behind cover just fast enough to avoid the drones' beams, but they have nothing to return fire with... Mischa@crystyl looks for a way out T'Lana@anncaris | There are two exits on either side of the room, but running for either would put them out in the open where the drones can easily pick them off Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "We could try making a feint maybe?" Mischa@crystyl:"There is little other option with nothing else to work with here" T'Lana@anncaris | Two of the drones begin advancing while the other two hangs back high up by the ceiling where they have a better view of things Mischa@crystyl | With nothing else to work with, the two appear to have no choice but to feint one way, then dash the other hoping they can duck and weave enough to reach the exit T'Lana@anncaris | The two closer drones fall for the feint, turning and firing in that direction, but the two hanging high up in the air react as they begin running the opposite direction... T'Lana@anncaris | Before they can fire however, one of the doors slides open and another drone beam fires in a continuous stream, cutting down the two higher drones! Mischa@crystyl skids to a halt to try and see what happened T'Lana@anncaris | The two drones closer to the ground immediately turn to the greater threat and fires, but they duck behind cover, evading the shots as the drones use up their energy, emerging on the other - T'Lana@anncaris:- side of the pillar and firing again, taking down another drone before ducking back into cover. The last drone closes in slowly, circling the pillar. There is a flash as it exchanges fire with the - T'Lana@anncaris:- new arrival before the drone topples to the ground with a clang Mischa@crystyl:"Did you get a good look at the attacking drone?" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni shakes her head T'Lana@anncaris steps out from behind the pillar across the room. Unlike Mischa and Rianni, she had either not bothered or been unable to find any leaves to cover herself, and is still completely naked save for - T'Lana@anncaris - the right arm, which seems to have a charred and damaged drone shell covering it up to the elbow. In her other hand, she holds...some piece of machinery T'Lana@anncaris:"Commander. Ensign. Have either of you been hit?" Mischa@crystyl peers out, "Lana? Damn, that's some Vulcan timing right there" Mischa@crystyl:"And Vulcan modesty" she smiles T'Lana@anncaris:"I determined that it was more feasible to dedicate my time to work on more practical tools. Making basic apparel from the environment was illogical, especially as I was deposited in an environment - T'Lana@anncaris:- where it was unnecessary and difficult to obtain. I briefly revisited the jungle, but without toxicity data, utilizing plant life for attire bore a risk of poisoning." Mischa@crystyl:"Be thankful you had the grace to take your time and explore such logical pursuits. It has taken us all this time just to reach this tower, let alone scavenge anything serviceable" T'Lana@anncaris:"Fortunately, I had assistance. I assume you arrived here with Leona?" Mischa@crystyl nods and smiles, "She welcomed the opportunity to truly roam free. I take it by assistance, you mean Mia?" T'Lana@anncaris shakes her head, "No. I presume she is not with you either, then?" Mischa@crystyl shakes her head, "Then what assistance did you find?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Another friendly AI," she steps over to one of the drones, running the device in her left hand over it, "This drone is intact enough to salvage. We should take it and keep moving before more arrive. Mischa@crystyl nods, "Let's move" T'Lana@anncaris picks up the drone and hands it to Rianni before exiting the way she came in T'Lana@anncaris:"What environment were you deposited in, Commander?" Mischa@crystyl:"A tropical jungle region on the far side of the lake surrounding this place. You?" T'Lana@anncaris:"An arid desert climate with little to no water sources. How did you find the Ensign?" Mischa@crystyl:"Leona and I searched from the air as she has a much stronger sense of things from there. We did not sense either you or Mia, but we found Rianni at the base of the tower" T'Lana@anncaris looks to Rianni, "Were you also in the same climate?" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni nods, "It sounds it, yes" T'Lana@anncaris:"Interesting..." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni tilts her head, "How so?" T'Lana@anncaris:"I assume given the nature of your makeshift apparel that you did not make them to keep warm and that your environment was warm enough for you to survive without clothes?" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni flushes a little, "Well, yes... but... it was just too distracting! Feeling all exposed like that" T'Lana@anncaris:"I am not criticizing your decision, Ensign. I simply find it interesting that both of you were transported to a tropical region not dissimilar to those which would be found on Earth, with a - T'Lana@anncaris:- climate suitable for human physiology and even vegetation of similar pigmentation. Meanwhile, I found myself in an environment Vulcans are well-adapted to survive in." Mischa@crystyl:"A valid observation. Perhaps a default of the Superintendent to return stray biologicals to their natural environment" Mischa@crystyl:"There's still one thing I don't get though..." T'Lana@anncaris:"And that is?" Mischa@crystyl looks to Rianni, "How /did/ you cross the lake?" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "I befriended this big reptile thing and convinced it to bring me here!" Mischa@crystyl chuckles, "Alright, fine. We all have our secrets if that's how you want it" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni opens her mouth to protest the truth but just sighs and leaves it be T'Lana@anncaris leads the group to another landing platform, this one with the main door into the facility open. On the platform sits something that appears to be a shuttlecraft, but of Nuhar design. In some - T'Lana@anncaris - ways, it looks like a huge non-combat drone, but it clearly has a door which lowers into a ramp as T'Lana begins to approach Mischa@crystyl:"You definitely got the fortunate landing. This must be a new drone from one of the foundries I take it?" T'Lana@anncaris shakes her head, "I have not visited the Foundries yet. I located a Custodian near the desert environment and utilized its transporter to return to Custodian-36, under the impression that - T'Lana@anncaris:- attempting to transport to the Superintendent would result in my being deposited back on the surface. When I saw no sign of you, I began exploring the Custodian facility and found a landing pad - T'Lana@anncaris:- not unlike this. I attempted to decipher the console to the best of my ability and recognized the word that was most likely to mean transport. Seeing no sign of transporter technology, I selected - T'Lana@anncaris:- the option, and it came to me not long after." Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps that is what we saw in the first room we found here. I am not familiar enough with the technology yet to reach any deduction however" T'Lana@anncaris steps into the shuttle and suddenly a pleasant robotic voice emanates around them, "Welcome back, T'Lana! I assume these are the friends you were looking for." T'Lana@anncaris:"Some of them, yes. We are still missing Mia, the drone." Mischa@crystyl looks around, "Not the usual Nuher persona" T'Lana@anncaris | Shuttle: "I am afraid I am unfamiliar with the Superintendent's specific protocols. I do not know where the drone would have been taken." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "Maybe she wasn't redirected anywhere as she's not biological?" T'Lana@anncaris | Shuttle: "I was designed with joint Iconian-Nuhar input. Unlike most exclusively Nuhar designs, I was equipped with a hospitality suite to converse with my passengers, as the majority of those - T'Lana@anncaris:- I provided service to were members of Children species. I am Ferry-625, at your service." Mischa@crystyl:"Fascinating. So you have been here all this time" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "We were powered down until recently, when activation of the control facility brought us all back online- or those of us still capable of service." Mischa@crystyl:"This is most fortuitous" she looks to Lana, "What about Rianni's suggestion. Do you think it's likely that Mia made it in?" T'Lana@anncaris:"It is possible, but we should confirm it. We will have to return to the transporter in any case to attempt to recover our gear, which is likely still there. I saw an interface similar - T'Lana@anncaris:- to the one on the Custodian transporters, which we should be able to use to check previous transports, including where Mia may have been sent to." Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds like a plan" she nods T'Lana@anncaris:"But first, we should better arm ourselves if possible. Ferry, workbench." T'Lana@anncaris | A small workbench unfolds out from the side of the shuttle, unveiling a shelf of tools behind where the bench was being stored T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Workbench activated." T'Lana@anncaris:"Ensign, place the drone here." Mischa@crystyl:"Nice to see you had the time to get acquainted" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni joins them, setting the drone onto the workbench T'Lana@anncaris:"I needed suitable defenses. Highlight optimal disassembly procedure." T'Lana@anncaris | A holographic 'highlight' appears on one part of the drone. T'Lana takes a tool and pulls it open, "Thank you, Ferry." T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "You are welcome." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "No way, this thing even comes with a tutorial? How come you get all this and all we got was a couple of stupid leaves..." she pouts Mischa@crystyl smirks T'Lana@anncaris | The holographic highlights move from place to place on the drone, showing T'Lana how to take apart the drone T'Lana@anncaris:"You also had a lizard, did you not?" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "Well... yeah. But it didn't come with a tutorial! Or an AP beam..." T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "I do not possess an antiproton beam, or defenses of any kind. I am a Ferry, not a Nuhar Construct." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "No, but those drones do so T'Lana could fashion arms from them" T'Lana@anncaris:"Obtaining the drones in an intact enough condition to be salvaged while still pacified is a difficult task. I lured the ones I encountered into a malfunctioning plasma conduit. Only two of the - T'Lana@anncaris:- drones were salvageable, with one functional beam out of them." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni grumbles, "Still better than a couple of leaves..." Mischa@crystyl chuckles, ruffling her hair, "Think of it this way Ensign; look at how much you accomplished with so much less at your disposal. Many would argue that is worth more" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni slumps at the return of hair ruffling, "I guess..." T'Lana@anncaris hands the gutted drone to Rianni, "You may take this, Ensign. Press here," she points out, "to activate the beam. Be careful as the beam is set to a fatal intensity, which is necessary in order - T'Lana@anncaris:- to take down other drones. I have kept most of the shell on as I have found that the drones appear to be engaging with lower intensity beams, which may be stopped by another drone shell if you - T'Lana@anncaris:- are able to parry it. That was how I managed to take down the final drone attacking you without being stunned or injured." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni tries it on, paying close attention the instructions, "Thank you Commander, I'll be sure to use it wisely" Mischa@crystyl faux-pouts, "Aww, now you're just making me jealous" she smirks Mischa@crystyl | Rianni instinctively sidesteps before her hair gets ruffled again T'Lana@anncaris looks at Mischa, "Do you wish to have my drone casing, Commander? I would have created a third, but the other drones were unfortunately too damaged to be of use." Mischa@crystyl chuckles, "I am only teasing, don't fret" T'Lana@anncaris:"I believe it is likely we will be able to recover our usual armaments inside the facility." T'Lana@anncaris:"Shall we proceed inside, or do you wish for some food or water first?" Mischa@crystyl:"Let us press on. We can rest once we have the situation back in hand" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Deactivate workbench." T'Lana@anncaris | The workbench and tools fold back in T'Lana@anncaris:"Let us see if we can find Mia and recover our gear, then." Mischa@crystyl nods T'Lana@anncaris heads back out of the Ferry and into the facility. They explore for several more minutes before four more drones emerge once again, this time a much more fair fight with two of them armed Mischa@crystyl & Rianni again take to cover. Though this time Rianni also positions herself to shoot back T'Lana@anncaris takes cover as well, firing back at the first opportunity. Their return fire takes out two of the drones, and the other two keep their distance, staying high to try and get them when they emerge - T'Lana@anncaris - from cover Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "I can draw their fire to create an opening for you" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Be careful, Ensign. Remember, if they fire at you, the drone shell may be able to provide protection." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni moves into a better position before glancing back with a nod and leaning out to loosely fire at the drones T'Lana@anncaris | The drones turn and fire back, focusing on Rianni as the main threat T'Lana@anncaris | One shot does indeed land on Rianni's arm as she fires, creating a scorch mark on the drone shell but doing no harm to her T'Lana@anncaris takes the opportunity to pick off the drones, going for a continuous beam that sweeps across the ceiling and cuts both remaining drones down Mischa@crystyl | Rianni flinches from the shot and ducks back into cover, checking her arm with relief to see that TL was right about it taking the shot Mischa@crystyl:"Nicely done Ensign, but don't overstretch yourself, ok? It's always better to take your time and get the right shot than to rush and take greater risk" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni nods, "Understood Commander, and thank you" T'Lana@anncaris steps over to the downed drones, scanning them, "This one has a bisected shell and will provide less protection, but the beam is intact. It may be worth taking in case we cannot recover our gear - T'Lana@anncaris - and must continue using them as weapons." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni: "On it!" T'Lana@anncaris continues onwards after Rianni takes the drone. They explore the facility for a good twenty more minutes, first finding an empty transporter room. Before T'Lana can check the console, Mischa - T'Lana@anncaris - notices that the hall is lined with multiple transporter rooms, and remembers that their gear were still on the transporters during the second attempt to transport here, so they can probably - T'Lana@anncaris - locate the one they arrived in by finding their gear Mischa@crystyl:"This looks promising. We should search more thoroughly in these rooms to find our equipment" T'Lana@anncaris nods and begins searching. It doesn't take them long, as they soon come across the right transporter, with their gear and clothes still lying on the pad Mischa@crystyl | Rianni's eyes light up, "Finally!" T'Lana@anncaris steps over to the console first, setting the drone shell aside as she holds the device in her left hand over the console and begins tapping T'Lana@anncaris:"I believe Mia has also been transported. Following our initial transportations, and between one that transported two lifeforms simultaneously, which I assume was likely the two of you, there is a - T'Lana@anncaris:- record of an 'unidentified drone' being sent to Drone Production and Repair at Foundry 3." Mischa@crystyl:"Then we should head there first and get Mia back. Can we transport there or should we take the shuttle?". T'Lana@anncaris:"We should take the shuttle. It will be safer to avoid these transporters given the Superintendent's redirections so far." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Sounds good to me. Let's get back there and go get our drone back then" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Let us redress in the shuttle as well. We should not stay here too long in case more drones are sent to intercept us." Mischa@crystyl & Rianni gather up their gear T'Lana@anncaris gathers her gear as well before heading back towards the Nuhar shuttle --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | Emma enters the meeting chamber with Lorri and Kayd. Many of the other Coalition members are already gathered, with quite a few calling in through holograms NPC@annpc#557 | Vora greets them inside the chamber, making her way over from her seat, "Good to see you all here. Feel free to take any empty seat." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Thank you, Supreme Commander" she turns to the others, "I should probably get down the front ready. Do come find me afterwards, yes?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd nods, "We'll be sure to." Emma Ralde@crystyl smiles to the pair, heading off to find her seat NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd smiles back, taking a seat as well. Before long, as all the participants arrive, the meeting begins... NPC@annpc#557 | Vora stands, addressing everyone first, "You're probably wondering why this meeting has been called so much sooner than we originally planned. As some of us have already heard from the - NPC@annpc#557 - Regulators, the Valley Forge has located the Iconian sphere we know as the Heart of War, but there have been other developments. I'll let the representative they sent to us explain." NPC@annpc#557 | She gestures to Emma before sitting down Emma Ralde@crystyl moves into centre stage with a nod to Vora, "Thank you, Supreme Commander" she looks around the room, "I apologize to you all for the nature of this communication. But our comms network was - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- destroyed in an effort to keep the Coalition back. In summary; we were betrayed from within. The Progenitor who travelled with us - the Architect - has subverted our attempt to quash the Horde, - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- and seized control of them for himself" Emma Ralde@crystyl looks around, giving everyone a moment for that to sink in NPC@annpc#557 | A murmur passes through the chamber before Marshal Solan speaks up, "What do you mean by seized control of them? Do they follow his orders now?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I don't know how literal the sense of giving and taking orders is, but they are now directed by his will" she nods. "The Architect turned on our crew while they were activating the Heart of War and- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- even used his knowledge of our telepathic suppression implants to enthrall us. Fear not though, it was only because he knew the frequency used by our crew specifically, so nobody else is at risk of- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- compromise. And we were able to break his hold, so the crew itself is no longer enthralled" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "Why would the Architect do such a thing..." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Because he is the one behind the Horde's creation in the first place. He has a skewed perspective on morality and was imprisoned by the Progenitors in what your brethren came to call the Holy City" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "That was why he was there? How do you know this- did he confess it to you?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Not in so much detail, but he did not deny any of it either. In truth, it was the Lupan who presented this revelation. A long lost tribe of your brethren without whom, I would not likely be here" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "So the Lost Tribe theory was correct after all...the descendents of the First Sisterhood and the knowledge they preserved are still out there." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "They are, and it is. I know of the Progenitor recording in your Sisterhood's possession. Would you agree that the presence and condition of this has been the driving force in the - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- Sisterhood's beliefs and actions?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Lupan Elder nods, "Yes, they are one of the few pieces we have after the disappearance of the First Sisterhood. The data in the Holy City was not as well preserved as that which the - NPC@annpc#557 - First Sisterhood had dedicated their lives to protecting." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Then allow me to present the complete recording, courtesy of the First Sisterhood. I know it may be difficult to reconcile what you are about to hear in this, Elder. But I hope that will be offset by - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- the restoration of the truth to your people" she taps a control and an oversized projection of the recording plays above her for all to see NPC@annpc#557 | The room falls quiet as the recording plays. Once it finishes, the Lupan Elders stare in disbelief. Kayd turns to Lorri, whispering, "Presenting lost knowledge to everyone...and she claims - NPC@annpc#557 - she's not a goddess..." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri: "She may not be literal Goddess from the ancient stories" she says, not appreciating the irony, "but she embodies everything we relate to the Goddess and for all intents and purposes, may - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- as well /be/ her. Remarkable..." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"So you see, the Holy City was the Architect's prison. And he is responsible not only for the creation of the Horde, but the genetic backdoor sewn into all Children species that we now manipulate to- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- protect ourselves from the Horde. And his actions even led to the creation of the Progenitors unthinkable weapon against the Children species" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "These recordings will certainly be of great value to the Sisterhood." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I hope this news is not too bittersweet for you, Elder" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "We are as surprised by the Architect's betrayal as anyone else, and the Sisterhood must take responsibility for his release. But it is better to learn the truth late, than - NPC@annpc#557 - forever clawing at the pieces. We thank you for bringing this knowledge to us, and hope the Lupan may be able to rectify this mistake." NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros' hologram speaks up, "Let's get back to the more urgent matter at hand. The Architect, does he control the Horde entirely, or is there any reason to believe that the Horde still has - NPC@annpc#557 - some of their own will?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"With such minimal activity in the region, it's impossible to say for certain. All I can tell you is that all Horde movement we have seen since his betrayal has been entirely coordinated to his will" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "That could be good or bad. We'll have to see. The Architect is a wild card. We Guardians have fought the Horde for thousands of years, learned the ways they operate. If the - NPC@annpc#557:- Architect's will has supplanted the Horde, then much of that knowledge is useless. The Horde is going to act according to his plans, not their own methods. But the Architect is one man. And one - NPC@annpc#557:- man more easily makes mistakes than a hive mind of trillions." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "Indeed. He is vulnerable at present and he knows it. We believe this is why his first move was to cut off our communication from the rest of you to buy himself time. Presently, the Horde is - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- amassing at the Heart of War" NPC@annpc#557 | Marshal Solan: "So the Horde have control of the Sphere now?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"They do. The Valley Forge barely made it out in one piece, so we were regrettably unable to push them back by the time we broke free of his control" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"We /do/ however currently have a team working covertly within the sphere to reactive Iconian and Nuhar AI's to provide support to a counterstrike" NPC@annpc#557 | Marshal Solan: "That's good to hear, but it's still very concerning. In the meantime, all the Sphere's capabilities are at the enemy's disposal." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Yes and no, Marshal. While he technically has control of them, he is required to direct almost all of the sphere's energy and resources into maintaining his influence over the Horde. So whilst he - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- has the sphere, he can't yet use it" NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "So he does not have access to the gateways?" Emma Ralde@crystyl shakes her head, "No he does not. But they do however have new access to the Carran subspace corridor network. It was using this with a couple of stealth vessels that they were able to destroy our - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- comms buoys so quickly. And it is how they were able to try stretching their influence beyond Coalition territory" NPC@annpc#557 | The Supervisor nods, "We've seen that firsthand already, and that's an issue we must address, which is why we called Carran representatives here." Emma Ralde@crystyl looks over to the Carran, "I appreciate this may be a lot to take in, representative. Please, I would very much like to hear your thoughts on all of this so far" NPC@annpc#557 | Carran: "We understand the threat the Horde poses. We would be foolish not to, seeing all the forces you have gathered to stand against it, and with the loss of two of our Courier ships - NPC@annpc#557:- recently atop that. But even if we wanted to, there is no way to collapse these subspace tunnels without causing a disruption that could create serious damage to subspace in its wake, damage that - NPC@annpc#557:- may destroy civilizations and affect regular warp travel." NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "That is correct, but we do not need to collapse them. We only need to ensure that the Horde can no longer use them to sneak behind our lines." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Perhaps the Carran representative could see his way to sharing - with a select few, need to know basis - the location of the corridor entrances in the region, that they me be guarded by the - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- Coalition fleet?" NPC@annpc#557 | Carran: "I could, but that will not help you. The Horde can simply choose not to use these entrances. They can enter the tunnels from much further towards the rim, and get out at unguarded - NPC@annpc#557:- entrances further along. All you'll be doing is funneling them- towards us and other territories further coreward. You could send in ships to patrol the corridors from these entrances, but that - NPC@annpc#557:- would require the full map of the corridors." NPC@annpc#557 | Daian: "Which the Horde already have and know as well as the Carrans. We /could/ patrol the corridors, but the Horde might just take out our patrols and move on. We have to ensure the Horde - NPC@annpc#557:- can't use these tunnels at all. A single Horde vessel slipping behind us could destabilize entire civilizations." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Destroying the corridors would also cut us off from our best chance at ending this, just a point" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "You plan to have the Coalition use them to take back the Sphere?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"We know there are corridors in the region of it. They would be the most expedient means of getting reinforcements in place before the Horde can fortify the position. The Junayd may be able to - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- funnel some forces ahead faster, but the wormholes are limited in capacity so at best this could deliver a vanguard. This is why I have come before you all today; I know what high regard you hold - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- for Captain Keelah and the Valley Forge - how much you credit her for achieving in this war. The Valley Forge has been pivotal in saving countless lives, and pushing back many offensives from the - Emma Ralde@crystyl:- Horde. But we can not do this alone; we need you - all of you - to stand with us and act without delay while there is still a chance to deliver on our original objective of ending the Horde" NPC@annpc#557 | Carran: "As you can see, collapsing the tunnels is not in your best interests. Your Coalition has means of defense against the Horde- these implants you mentioned, yes?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Supervisor nods, "That is correct." NPC@annpc#557 | Carran: "Provide us with your implants, and our Enforcers will patrol the corridors for you. Our ships are designed with navigating the corridors in mind. We are more efficient at this task - NPC@annpc#557:- than any of you. It may not be foolproof, but it will leave the corridors available for your use while having some protection against Horde intrusions." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That's all well and good, but it will take time to protect so many crews" NPC@annpc#557 | Carran: "I do not have the authority to provide you with maps of the subspace corridors, and by the time such a drastic measure is approved, our crews will have finished implementing the - NPC@annpc#557:- implants already. What I am permitted to do however is to dispatch Carran navigators to a number of Coalition ships to be protected first. They can then be attached to vessels that will patrol - NPC@annpc#557:- the corridors in the meantime while our Enforcement ships are being prepared. Will that suffice?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"I am but a humble messenger. Only the rest of the gathered representatives can answer that for you" she looks around NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "It will have to do. I don't think we'll be able to get the maps out of the Carrans." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"And what about despatching reinforcements to help the Valley Forge stop the Architect?" NPC@annpc#557 | Daian nods, "Blocking the tunnels is the safer option, but you're right- it will also limit our own capacity for reinforcements." NPC@annpc#557 | Carran: "Once our Couriers are protected, we can lead your ships to the Sphere through the tunnels." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"Then might I humbly suggest we prioritize said couriers for the implants" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "That we will, but we're going to need time to gather our ships and complete repairs anyways. That send, we can send what ships are ready ahead through the Junayd wormholes as you - NPC@annpc#557:- proposed. I don't think it will be enough to take back the Sphere, but they may be able to help you increase our presence in the region and hopefully deal some blows to weaken the Horde ahead of - NPC@annpc#557:- our main fleet." NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "I will also notify the Rangers. They're experts at conducting sabotage behind enemy lines. My own battle group isn't far from reaching the Command Post now either. We'll come to - NPC@annpc#557:- you the old-fashioned way, no need for wormholes." Emma Ralde@crystyl bows her head, "Every little will help and the more we can engage the inbound Horde, the longer we can buy the rest of the Coalition fleet to arrive" NPC@annpc#557 | Unwavering Defender: "All Constructs in the region shall respond as well." NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "And we will send out a call for any packs in the area to come to your assistance." Emma Ralde@crystyl | Lorri: "The Orion Space Navy will send as many ships as you can accommodate with this vanguard" Emma Ralde@crystyl looks around with a grateful smile, "Thank you, everyone. I know you all have much to do so I will not seek to monopolize any more of your time. I will remain here until the first reinforcements are- Emma Ralde@crystyl:- are ready, then travel back with them. If I can do anything for the rest of you until then, please seek me out" Emma Ralde@crystyl would give it a moment for any further questions before returning to her seat NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "We will be sure to. Thank you for coming this way to bring us news, even if it's not the best news. Are there any other matters to address?" NPC@annpc#557 | Marshal Solan: "One more thing- you've been inside the Sphere and studied it already? Or at least taken a look at it." Emma Ralde@crystyl nods, "The Valley Forge was inside, yes. Some of us got feet on the ground - as it were - as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Marshal Solan: "Do you know if it does indeed have the capability to wipe out the whole Horde for good?" Emma Ralde@crystyl:"We believe so, yes. We were actually making our attempt to utilize the weapon when the Architect made his move" NPC@annpc#557 | Marshal Solan: "So if we take the Sphere, we might be able to finish this war. We'll finish our repairs on the Mothership as soon as possible to assist you." Emma Ralde@crystyl:"That is our intention" she nods NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods, "Then let's get our preparations done as soon as possible and take that Sphere." Emma Ralde@crystyl takes that as her cue to escape the spotlight --- T'Lana@anncaris | Back on the Sphere, the infiltration team make it back to the shuttle with their gear and clothes in hand T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Welcome back, T'Lana. I do not believe I have caught the names of the other two organics accompanying you." Mischa@crystyl:"I am Mischa, and the other is Rianni" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Welcome back as well, Mischa and Rianni." T'Lana@anncaris:"Mia has been taken to Foundry 3. Can you take us there, Ferry?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Of course. Do you wish to depart now?" T'Lana@anncaris:"How long will the journey take?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Forty-six minutes." T'Lana@anncaris:"That is further away than I expected." Mischa@crystyl:"Best we get moving then" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "The Foundry's orbital path has been moving away from the Superintendent facility, and use of warp speeds is inadvisable inside the Sphere, so my programming limits me to impulse speeds - T'Lana@anncaris:- here. We will depart immediately." T'Lana@anncaris FX | The ramp begins to close behind them T'Lana@anncaris steps further into the shuttle, setting down her clothes and slowly getting to redressing as the craft begins to take off Mischa@crystyl & Rianni do the same T'Lana@anncaris | Outside the window, the shuttle passes through the clouds, slowly ascending from the atmosphere T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Would you like some refreshments for the journey?" Mischa@crystyl:"I don't suppose you know the recipe for Prince of Wales blend tea, do you..." T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "I am not familiar with that particular refreshment. However, I do have a selection of various teas to choose from!" T'Lana@anncaris | A console lights up, with a list of different teas which even translate are unfamiliar to Mischa Mischa@crystyl peers over as she gets dressed, "Ooh, well aren't you considerate. I don't recognize any, so pick one for me!" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "From my data, your physiology is closest to the Taesira species, from whose homeworld the Finnael Tea originates. Creating one now..." T'Lana@anncaris | A cup of tea materializes in a slot below the console T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Would you like it sweetened, or with any additional ingredients added?" Mischa@crystyl finishes dressing and retrieves the offered drink, "Why thank you Ferry" moving to sit and sip, "That will be just fine I'm sure" Mischa@crystyl sips contentedly, "Now this is what I called a nice civilized infiltration job" T'Lana@anncaris | The tea tastes surprisingly like Earth black teas, with a hint of a slightly alien fruity taste T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "I am pleased that you enjoy it! I am here to serve." T'Lana@anncaris nods at Mischa as she finishes dressing as well, "Other than the mishap with the Superintendent's transportation, this Sphere has been rather accommodating so far. More so than I expected, at - T'Lana@anncaris:- least." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. Ferry, what can you tell us about the original nature of this sphere?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "This particular sphere, designated the Heart of War, was designed with the primary purpose of emitting a signal to destroy the Horde. Secondary functions include: Use as an defensive - T'Lana@anncaris:- installation against Horde advances, mobile mustering ground and repair facilities for Vanguard forces and nature reserve to preserve the genetic diversity of inhabited planets taken or likely to - T'Lana@anncaris:- be threatened by Horde advances." Mischa@crystyl:"That explains the diverse biomes we saw then" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Indeed. The presence of some of the more dangerous lifeforms we noticed was incompatible with our theory of the natural regions being intended for rest and relaxation." T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Oh, some of the environments are certainly used for that very purpose. However, not all biomes are suitable, as some have been used to preserve rather dangerous species." Mischa@crystyl:"Ferry, how far does this genetic preservation stem? Did your creators take measure to preserve the essence of sentient lifeforms as well?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "They did, though they were not stored in the same manner as the non-sentient species. Most sentient species that could be saved were evacuated and relocated. Species identified - T'Lana@anncaris:- to be at particular risk due to the low populations evacuated, species already entirely controlled by the Horde, and some species determined to be at risk of future Horde advances but were not - T'Lana@anncaris:- yet close enough to warrant evacuation at the time all had their genetic codes recorded and preserved, though the Sphere holds no living specimens." Mischa@crystyl:"But it does hold those genetic samples?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Both the original samples and the data to recreate them perfectly are stored on the Sphere. It was the Iconians' hope that following the use of the Sphere's primary purpose, they would - T'Lana@anncaris:- be able to reseed the species which had fallen under Horde control in their entirety." Mischa@crystyl:"Now isn't that something" Mischa@crystyl | Rianni nods, retrieving some nourishment from the dispenser, "This is much an ark as it is a weapon" T'Lana@anncaris:"It is fortunate to hear that much of what the Horde have ruined are still preserved here. Once we have control of the Sphere once more and are able to properly eradicate the Horde, this will help - T'Lana@anncaris:- in repopulating what is now Horde territory." Mischa@crystyl:"What about the organizational structure of the sphere, Ferry? Clearly there are different AI operating their own areas of responsibility but how does all that fit together?" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "The Custodian AIs are responsible for maintaining the biomes on the surface of the Sphere. The Superintendent AI housed in the facility we have just departed manages the Custodian AIs - T'Lana@anncaris:- and the state of the entire surface as a whole. Each Foundry possesses its own AI that maintains their respective facilities. The genetic archive, cultural archive, technological archive and - T'Lana@anncaris:- sphere archive likewise have their own AIs, which are managed by the Librarian AI that oversees the archives as a whole. Minor AIs with no sentience manage the omega molecule generation and the - T'Lana@anncaris:- the solar beam generation, but these are designed to be directed from the Control Station by biological Iconians or Nuhar." Mischa@crystyl:"So he only has direct control over those functions..." T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "He? T'Lana has informed me that the Horde have managed to seize control of the Sphere, but the Horde is not an individual." Mischa@crystyl:"The Horde is now under the control of the Progenitor who first created them" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "A Progenitor created them? That is not data I had access to." Mischa@crystyl:"It only recently came to light. But yes, he is called the Architect. And he is presently locked up in the control facility. He is using this sphere's anti-Horde weapon to exert control over them" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "That is very troubling. Are you here to remove him?" Mischa@crystyl:"We are" T'Lana@anncaris moves over to grab a drink from the dispenser in the meantime T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "Excellent! I will support you as much as I am able." Mischa@crystyl | Rianni smiles at that Mischa@crystyl:"I am glad to hear it" T'Lana@anncaris | Ferry: "We should be approaching Foundry 3 in five minutes." T'Lana@anncaris FX | Outside the window, the huge Foundry facility can be seen looming in the distance... --- Mana@anncaris | Meanwhile on the Valley Forge, Mana and Sayu enter one of the labs to examine the Sorobeth warbot schematics they receive from the Lupan... Mana@anncaris gives Sayu the data cylinder and the drone beeps before projecting an image of an eight-legged, spider-shaped mechanical construct Mana@anncaris:"That was not what Mana was expecting when Mana heard of these warbots, but...interesting design..." Lendaria@crystyl walks in to that sight, "Goddess!" she jumps, "It's like mah tricorder, but on steroids..." Mana@anncaris turns, "Hello Commander! Lennie...has a tricorder like this?" Lendaria@crystyl:"Not exactly, but's got a lotta legs too! It guards our quarters mostly" Mana@anncaris:"Oooh. DId Lennie alter a tricorder into a guard drone?" Lendaria@crystyl laughs, "Id'a have better odds o'breedin' one. Nah, mah sweets made him!" Mana@anncaris chuckles, "Mana thought Lennie specialized in biology! There's actually quite a lot of biological inspiration in these designs. Sayu has translated the schematics to a format the ship computers - Mana@anncaris:- can read, so Mana can display the details here for Lennie!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Ooh sounds fun" Mana@anncaris fetches a chip from a nearby console, inserting it into Sayu. She waits for a moment until he gives a beep before extracting the chip, "There! All copied and reformatted!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Le's see wha' we can see then!" she moves over to a console and gets to work Mana@anncaris follows over, plugging in the chip, "Best to begin with the basic variant, that one Lennie saw when entering." Lendaria@crystyl:"Makes sense" Mana@anncaris taps the console, pulling up the data on it, "This one appears to be the basic warbot design that many of the others are built on top of. The design appears simple, but with a closer look at the - Mana@anncaris:- schematics..." Mana@anncaris | Lennie notices that the bot comes with a surprisingly large amount of moving parts Mana@anncaris:"Tritanium shell, eight legs, two basic rotating antiproton projectors, one top and one bottom." Lendaria@crystyl:"Huh... this look odd t'ya? Seems a lotta movin' bits for a 'droid?" Mana@anncaris nods, "Much more than needed to make the bot move, but that is a part of the improvements the Sorobeth must have made to the design. Mana suspects the Sorobeth began with a simple eight legged - Mana@anncaris:- design capable of scaling surfaces and proceeding even with a few legs damaged, then began to take inspiration from actual arthropods that makes use of this shape." Mana@anncaris taps away at the console, zooming in on the image of the spider bot. The bot crouches low, appearing to flatten itself until it is very thin and very long Mana@anncaris:"These bots have the ability to squeeze themselves into spaces, not unlike biological spider species! But that is not the only purpose for all the moving parts." Lendaria@crystyl:"Impressive. Guess tha' explains a lot've it" Mana@anncaris taps the console again, and the drone shifts not only in stance, but also the position of the legs move across its body, transforming into a four-legged shape, with the other four legs on - Mana@anncaris:- top of the body. On closer inspection, each of the legs appears to have a blade on the side, and as Mana taps another time, the four blades spin all around the bot Lendaria@crystyl 's eyes widen, "Damn... tha's brutal" Mana@anncaris taps yet again and all the legs retract into the body, forming a ball-like shape like an armadillo Lendaria@crystyl:"Versatile lil' thing ain't it" Mana@anncaris nods, "A very simple basic shape, but the bot is designed to be able to transform into various stances for different purposes. Mana is not sure whether the squeezing capability came first and - Mana@anncaris:- that inspired the more radical transformations, or if the Sorobeth designed the different stances first and incorporated the stretching now that the bot can shift quite drastically." Mana@anncaris:"Mana can certainly see why these designs were so effective against the Horde. The Horde is extremely specialized, with thralls bred for a certain purpose. These bots can adjust to perform the - Mana@anncaris:- roles of multiple thralls depending on the situation." Lendaria@crystyl:"Wha'bout th'programmin' t'run all this?" Mana@anncaris:"The bots do not have true sentience, unlike Mia and Sayu. But the programming is close to the complexity of Nuhar drones, only entirely dedicated to combat functions. Overall, Nuhar drones are - Mana@anncaris:- more complex programs, but these bots are more effective in combat. Mana is actually seeing quite a number of similarities in the coding, and the programs were likely based on Nuhar ones, or at - Mana@anncaris:- least heavily inspired." Lendaria@crystyl:"So th'codin's all in there in th'schematics too? Tha's certainly a timesaver. But I'd-a sure feel better 'bout 'em wit' your stamp of approval" Mana@anncaris nods, "Mana will certainly review the programming! But there is a issue with the design. Though the bots are incredibly versatile and not very expensive to produce, the complexity of the - Mana@anncaris:- internal components means that specialized facilities will be needed for production. Mana can certainly use replicators for the components and manually assemble one, but that will be very time - Mana@anncaris:- consuming. Regular industrial replicators are not fine enough to create the entire bot, and some form of assembly line is required for mass-production." Lendaria@crystyl:"Like tha' Horde factory planet we hit a while back?" Mana@anncaris:"Yes, but not exactly that factory. An assembly line for torpedoes and ground vehicles are not fine enough to produce the majority of these designs, perhaps with the exception of the much larger - Mana@anncaris:- tank bot design. Mana has heard of one place which may be perfect for such a task, though Mana has not seen this place in person and is merely speculating from the function of this place." Lendaria@crystyl:"An' wha' place's tha'?" Mana@anncaris:"A Corporation robot production factory. About fifty years ago, one of the Corporations began making use of artificial forces. The practice eventually spread through the Corporations, and now these - Mana@anncaris:- are the primary guards and soldiers of the Corporations. The Corporations still heavily rely on mercenaries for colony worlds, but the core territories now make exclusive use of robotic guards." Lendaria@crystyl:"Ya could be right. But tha' ain't gonna help us now is it..." Mana@anncaris shakes her head, "The Corporations are always in competition with each other. Sometimes this competition turns into skirmishes, or as Mana has heard, occasionally even full-sized wars. Their - Mana@anncaris:- robots are primary soldiers of these wars. The Corporations are not likely to allow use of their factories to produce Sorobeth bots, even if the Coalition is willing to pay for the use." Lendaria@crystyl:"So we'se back t'square one then" Mana@anncaris:"The Colonial Fleet /could/ build assembly lines on Vue-En, but starting from scratch, that will take some time before production is ready to begin, let alone the time needed for production." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah if time an' resources weren't an issue we could all have a fair crack at it. But only thing I can see in th'area likely t'even have a chance is them Nuhar foundries in th'sphere" Mana@anncaris nods, "Exactly, but access to the Sphere is...problematic at the moment." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah... Damn, this sucks!" Mana@anncaris:"Mana will continue studying these schematics. The Coalition may feasibly be able to produce some of the models, but without the support of the primary models...the larger ones may still be useful - Mana@anncaris:- support, but will need the assistance of other ground forces." Lendaria@crystyl:"Every little helps" Mana@anncaris:"Mana is no tactician, but Mana believes the bot models are designed to best work with one another. However, having a tank bot as virtually mobile cover or an artillery bot laying down fire would - Mana@anncaris:- certainly still benefit the Coalition in ground engagements." Lendaria@crystyl:"Tha's f'sure" Mana@anncaris:"Maybe when the Coalition has control of some areas of the Sphere, the Foundries can be used for mass production to make the rest of the effort easier." Lendaria@crystyl:"Yeah, so we'll make sure we'se ready. Jus' in case" Mana@anncaris nods, "Mana will make sure Mana understands these bots fully, and have an idea of what will be needed for production when access to the Foundries is possible. Mana can try manually building some - Mana@anncaris:- prototypes in the meantime, if Lennie thinks that may be a good idea." Lendaria@crystyl:"Definitely! Most've th'engineerin' crews tied up on repairs, but I got some techs ya can use if ya want. Might be worth tappin' up Mia's Nuhar drones too. Those guys're pretty handy" Mana@anncaris:"Good idea! Mana definitely does not want to pull the engineering crews from repairs, but the drones might be very useful, especially as these bots appear to be heavily inspired by Nuhar technology - Mana@anncaris:- as well." Lendaria@crystyl:"Who knows, maybe they'll see somethin' in it we can't!" she chuckles Mana@anncaris:"Maybe! Mana will certainly ask the drones to have a look. And any techs Lennie have can be helpful as well!" Lendaria@crystyl:"Alright then, we got a plan! Well I'll-a leave you'se guys to it. Jus' shout if I can help!" she waves cheerily, heading out