Nikki is contacted by a fellow Romulan who suddenly appears on the ship, claiming to be the captain of a timeship from the future. The time traveller recruits her in order to help stop a saboteur from his time seeking to change history through the destruction of the Valley Forge...
NPC@annpc#557 | After completing their repairs at the Guardian Command Post, the Valley Forge sets out with the Coalition vanguard, heading for the Sphere once again NPC@annpc#557 | In the conference room, representatives from the other leaders of the vanguard forces are gathered for a meeting... NPC@annpc#557 | Celestina: "There are four Foundries, and we have four flagships. My dreadnought, the Guardian dreadnought, the Valley Forge and the Thana Vaneri. We should arrange our forces into four - NPC@annpc#557 - primary groups, each led by one of the four." NPC@annpc#557 | Kayan: "The Regulator vessel has more firepower than any of these ships." NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "Our vessel's mobility will be more useful outside the Sphere, where we can rapidly intercept Horde reinforcements should ones be spotted not coming from the known subspace - NPC@annpc#557:- corridor exits. If any group needs assistance, we will also be able to quickly jump into the Sphere rather than committing ourselves to leading a single group." Keelah@crystyl nods, "It makes sense for us to capitalize on the Regulators' mobility here" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayan nods as well, "Now we just have to decide which forces follow which lead ship. It makes sense for the Guardian dreadnought to lead the Guardians, the Thana to lead the Orion ships and - NPC@annpc#557:- the Pride to lead the Lodzki forces, but there's plenty of other vessels that aren't part of these factions." Keelah@crystyl:"There are also potential benefits to mixing the groups, as vessels of any origin tend to share advantages and disadvantages with one another" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "True, though we have plenty of other ships we can mix in to cover the advantages and disadvantages, but depending on the group, might be worth mixing them up. We have to weigh the - NPC@annpc#557 - advantages and disadvantages carefully though- most of these ships will probably be more effective taking orders from their own fleet commanders." Keelah@crystyl nods, "That is definitely a factor. We are also specially setup here to coordinate large scale fleet actions like this, although without Ensign Tierno here to operate her mastermind, I am uncertain- Keelah@crystyl:- as yet who - if anyone - is up to the task, as my CTO will be needed on the bridge" NPC@annpc#557 | Celestina: "What happened to your Ensign, if I may ask?" Keelah@crystyl:"She is with the infiltration team on the Sphere" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayan: "She's the one with the duplicate, isn't she?" Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, but the Junayd Observer was cloned from her before she developed our CiC" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Think she'll be able to learn it? They have to have similar minds to an extent if they're clones." Keelah@crystyl:"It is a possibility that we are exploring, along with other candidates from the crew with a sufficient aptitude for this kind of large volume strategy. I raised the point not to cast doubt, but - Keelah@crystyl:- to open the floor up to volunteers or recommendations from your own crews as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd: "What's your CiC like? Technical-wise." Keelah@crystyl:"Actually not... that dissimilar to the display systems on your flagship as I recall. The full version is still in development on the holodeck, which I am happy to get your input on. But we are - Keelah@crystyl:- presently using the secondary bridge. As it was first built for fleet coordination before the refit which upgraded our saucer separation" NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd nods and looks to Lorri, "Maybe one of your officers'll be a suitable replacement until their infiltration team returns." Keelah@crystyl:"It is a focused communication and coordination hub which allows a single controller to take more of an overview of a large-scale engagement than we often get from our own bridges. Supporting the - Keelah@crystyl:- tactical controller is an array of communication technicians; each with a direct line to the command deck of each battlegroup flag, or individual ship in smaller groups" Keelah@crystyl:"The in-development phase introduces a 360-degree surround live visual, with the bridge suspended on a central platform. It also has the ability for the Controller to directly instruct vessels or - Keelah@crystyl:- groups in realtime using hand gestures to alter courses and send associated instructions to a paired system on the subordinate vessel. The saving may only be seconds, but we are all painfully - Keelah@crystyl:- aware of the difference seconds can make in a battle. But you see why it takes someone with that special gift for such strategy in order to function" Keelah@crystyl | Lorri thinks on Kayd's suggestion and nods along to Keelah's very proud description, "Possible, but none of my girls really have that kind of tactical exercise. Closest I have are the Ghosts, and- Keelah@crystyl:- they are single operative missions. Multiple fleets is a very different thing. We may be able to support the tech integration though. Holosystems are - after all - one field where the OSN has - Keelah@crystyl:- quickly jumped ahead of Starfleet's standard deployment" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Thank you, Tabadi. Any assistance you deem fit will be most welcome" NPC@annpc#557 | The Supervisor nods, "It sounds like an impressive and ambitious design. Perhaps some among my crew may be capable of assisting, since we're trained to activate many of our suits' functions - NPC@annpc#557:- with hand gestures, though I don't know if I can find anyone among my crew with your Ensign's tactical acumen." Keelah@crystyl:"Ensign Tierno has been actively running a set simulation for development of the new system. If anyone wishes to test the current installation, we will be using those simulations as a baseline for - Keelah@crystyl:- aptitude" Keelah@crystyl | Lexi grins from the cover, "Starfleet actively developing means of kicking ass with scientific precision. Never thought I'd live to see the day. And that's the worm talking!" NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "I'll see if anyone in my-" NPC@annpc#557 | The Supervisor is cut off as the lighting suddenly switches to that of red alert and Keelah's combadge sounds NPC@annpc#557 <C- Vrolmacht> "Vrolmacht to Keelah, we have a situation!" Keelah@crystyl:"The Horde?" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Vrolmacht> "No, I'm reading a massive energy surge in Cargo Bay 4." Keelah@crystyl:"Have Kelly and Jenni meet me there" Keelah@crystyl stands, "If you will excuse me, this requires my immediate attention" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Vrolmacht> "I can't raise either of them." Keelah@crystyl:"...Computer; Locate LCDR Keliaya" she calls out, exiting the room NPC@annpc#557 | Before the computer can respond, the hall splits apart as a massive shockwave ripples through the ship. The camera pans out, showing the tiny shards of debris where the Valley Forge was a few - NPC@annpc#557 - seconds earlier... NPC@annpc#557 | The camera pans out even more, showing the image on a...monitor? NPC@annpc#557 | As it continues to pan out, the monitor seems to be located in a conference room of some description, but not the Valley Forge's. A diverse collection of bipedal species are seated around - NPC@annpc#557 - the table, wearing a uniform reminiscent of 2420 Starfleet's, but clearly not the same NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/OtSC0XN.jpg NPC@annpc#557 | Gorn Lieutenant: "Well...now we know what the target isss." NPC@annpc#557 | Trill LCDR: "Are we sure? Could this be the work of the Survivors?" NPC@annpc#557 | At the head of the table sits a man with pointed ears, but pronounced forehead ridges clearly mark him as a Romulan and not a Vulcan. He wears four full pips on the collar of the uniform NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Captain: "This doesn't fit with their motives. Not only the crew of the Valley Forge are lost, but also Tabadi Lorri and Kayd, Captain Vix, Kayan, Issandros- there's no way the - NPC@annpc#557:- Survivors would do this." NPC@annpc#557 | Human Commander: "It's our rogue, then." NPC@annpc#557 | Tellarite LCDR: "Doesn't matter who it is, we have to stop them." NPC@annpc#557 | Human Commander: "What'd you think, Cap'n?" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Captain: "I think we're going to need a local recruit. T'Shina?" NPC@annpc#557 | A Vulcan female with Lieutenant pips nods and taps away at a PADD, "Pulling up crew roster now." NPC@annpc#557 | A second later, the image of the VF's debris changes to a roster of the crew NPC@annpc#557 | T'Shina: "Captain Keelah has an exceptional service record and is an excellent-" NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan raises a hand, "I've had enough moral lectures from Starfleet heroes to last a lifetime. Besides, she has plenty on her mind at this point. Let's look further down the chain of - NPC@annpc#557:- command." NPC@annpc#557 | Trill LCDR: "Sin? She's infiltrated the crew herself, not to mention her telepathy abilities." NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Captain: "She's also rash and volatile. Who else do we have on the table?" NPC@annpc#557 | Gorn Lieutenant: "The Obssserver?" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Captain: "Good choice, but just because she's an excellent infiltrator doesn't necessarily mean she'll be able to find our rogue. She'll do great at keeping a secret at least, so I - NPC@annpc#557:- guess she's the top choice for now. If only this was just a little further, then we can pull someone from the Latenter..." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Shina: "There are trained intelligence personnel on the Valley Forge. May I suggest-" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Captain: "Don't say the Overlooker." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Shina: "...Subcommander Nikee ir-Fethraie t'Rllaillieu." NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan smiles, "Not bad. As we say, there's no one better to weed out an infiltrator than a Romulan, because we've been doing it for so many centuries." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Shina: "I do not believe they have developed that saying yet, but she is a favourable choice." NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Captain: "Ready the temporal transporter." NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://youtu.be/cjaejG-LDAQ --- NPC@annpc#557 | Several days ago, when the Valley Forge was still docked with the Command Post... NPC@annpc#557 | As Nikki enters her quarters, she finds someone already inside, seated behind the desk and reading a PADD. He seems to be wearing a command uniform with Ensign pips Nikki@crystyl looks over with a scowl, "I may still be getting used to the intricacies of Starfleet etiquette. But even I know it is not acceptable to help yourself into someone else's quarters, as does everyone- Nikki@crystyl:- else who belongs in that uniform. So, would you prefer I call security, or lock the door and interrogate you myself? Please say the latter" NPC@annpc#557 | The man lowers his PADD, revealing the ridges which combined with his pointed ears mark him unmistakably as another Romulan, "Apologies for the intrusion, Subcommander, but this was the best - NPC@annpc#557:- place to catch you alone. Please lock the door- and do interrogate me as much as satisfies you." Nikki@crystyl reaches back and taps the door control, sealing it shut without a glance, "Well you're no Starfleet, that's for damned sure. So what, Tal Shiar? Stowed away on the Orion fleet no doubt" NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan chuckles, "If I'm Tal Shiar, I must have a death wish. I wouldn't blame them though in this day and age, when their organization is rapidly falling apart, but if I was one of their - NPC@annpc#557:- operatives seeking to surrender to the Republic, why would I come all the way out here to do it?" Nikki@crystyl:"You wouldn't come here for that, only for me. That what you would want with me is quite perplexing. I have been a loyal servant of the Romulan people my entire life. Unless..." her eyes narrow on - Nikki@crystyl:- him, "...you know" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan: "You're right, I am here for you- but not what you expect." Nikki@crystyl:"Then how about you just skip to the part where you spin some far-fetched story to cast the shadow of doubt on my suspicions, just long enough to keep your game going" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan: "I thought convincing you was going to be the hard part. My XO wanted to come in my stead, but I'd rather do this myself." Nikki@crystyl is not impressed Nikki@crystyl folds her arms across her chest, "Oh, this is going to be good. I can tell already" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan: "I don't blame you. The reason I came here is because no one else understands the distrust among my people, especially in this age. My name is S'Torien. Captain S'Torien of the - NPC@annpc#557:- Federation timeship Everett. And before you say it's far-fetched, it was barely a year ago you worked with a version of this ship decades from the future, wasn't it?" Nikki@crystyl:"So you're well informed. But folks from that little outing didn't exactly go sneaking around in people's quarters wearing ridiculous disguises" NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Wearing my own uniform here would attract too much attention. But I did bring this." He takes an unfamiliar looking combadge from his pocket and holds it out to Nikki NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/UKYAAOSw-gNf-GZ7/s-l300.jpg NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Quantum date it- you'll see it comes from the future." Nikki@crystyl:"Alright, I'll play along" she moves to her desk and retrieves a tricorder to scan it Nikki@crystyl while she works, "And by the disguise, I meant the ensign pips. Anyone can see the years of service on your face - you're no fresh graduate. So an experienced officer at least. Even in Starfleet, - Nikki@crystyl:- that does not fit for an ensign" NPC@annpc#557 | The quantum dating gives a result of -450, indicating that it does come from 450 years into the future NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "You make a good point, but a Lieutenant Commander or even Lieutenant uniform would be too conspicuous. And I admit to a...certain amount of pride to having selected an ensign's - NPC@annpc#557:- uniform, as a commissioned officer myself, that is. A higher ranking enlisted uniform- say Chief Petty Officer, might have been more logical, but I'm no Vulcan," he smiles slightly Nikki@crystyl:"True, and they would be expected to know their way around the ship and crew like the back of their hands. I'd have still gone Lieutenant, or Junior at a push. But to be honest, the rank is moot on - Nikki@crystyl:- this ship. If you know us so well, you know how long we've been together. It's more like a small town than a ship - everyone knows everyone" NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "That's precisely why I need your help. This uniform will only get me so far." Nikki@crystyl hands back the combadge, "So let's say I humour you on this story of yours for now, just for fun. What exactly is a Romulan timeship Captain from 450 years into the future doing in my quarters...?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien takes back the combadge, "I'm here because in five days, the Valley Forge will be destroyed with all hands, and a few key Coalition leaders in addition. Thereâ€™ll be a couple of survivors, but still, that isn't supposed to happen." Nikki@crystyl:"Riiight... ok yeah, that totally makes sense why a strange Romulan is sat in my quarters. I mean, who else would a time travelling saviour visit. Obviously not the Captain... pfft, as if" Nikki@crystyl is strong with the sarcasm today. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "The Captain serves a diplomatic role as well, as you should know well from your own. Communicating with people from the past, well, it's a form of diplomacy in my day and age. It - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- requires much of the same skills. Though you're right, going /to/ the past to speak to someone is usually done by the First Officer." Nikki@crystyl:"All sounds good and reasonable. And does nothing explain why you are talking to me of all people and not our Captain" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Because you're the best suited to helping us. This isn't a threat that can be faced from the bridge. We're dealing with a single infiltrator, someone who wants to change the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- timeline by destroying this ship at this particular moment in time." Nikki@crystyl:"I'll admit, that does make a certain sense... but you said this happens in a few days time. So why are you here now? Why not just turn up when your culprit does and stop them before they do - Nikki@crystyl:- anything, I mean isn't that the whole point of the time police. What was it called now... the Temporal Accords or something?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "We tried that already. We believe we're dealing with someone as skilled as we are. Likely a member of our own organization, as much as I hate to admit it. We might have more - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- advanced technology, but there's always going to be a few bad fruits." Nikki@crystyl:"...'bad fruit'? That's one way of putting it. What possible outcome could someone hope to achieve by taking the Valley Forge out of the picture now, besides allowing the Horde to run rampant?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "I'm afraid your theory is as good as mine. There's a variety of reasons someone might want to take the Valley Forge out of the picture, but I can't think of any good reason to do - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- so at this particular time except what you're thinking, and I don't know why someone would want that." Nikki@crystyl:"Well you're obviously here telling me all this for a reason - assuming for the moment any of it is even halfway true - which means you want something from me" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien nods, "That's right. I want you to keep an eye out for the infiltrator. You know the crew, you've got intelligence training and Romulan intuition. The latter two is something your - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- captain doesn't have, which makes you better suited to this task. And if you still think I'm a Tal Shiar agent trying to play you- all I'm asking is for you to identify the infiltrator. You're - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- welcome to neutralize them if you can, but contact us first so we know who they are and can back you up." Nikki@crystyl grins a little, "So. You - a mysterious stranger who appears somewhere he shouldn't, disguised - poorly - as a member of the crew... is asking me to find someone who doesn't belong on the ship and - Nikki@crystyl:- will likely be a shifty sort, disguised as a member of the crew..." dusts her hands together, "Well. Job done" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien chuckles, "Touche. I think we both know I don't mean myself. Why don't I give you all the facts, and you can judge for yourself whether the threat is real." Nikki@crystyl:"Alright. You're harmless enough here that I can at least humour you. This is far more entertaining than I expected to come home to, if nothing else" she quips, sitting across from him Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Excellent. Well, let me start from the beginning. Yesterday- in my time, that is, we discovered an unlogged and unauthorized use of the temporal transporters at Vue-En. Whoever - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- accessed them was highly skilled. They not only prevented the unauthorized use from triggering any alarms, but also wiped the record of their transport- we don't know who it was or when they - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- travelled to, only that there /was/ a transport. Monitoring the timeline, we detected a transport appearing on Vue-En sometime around your last Coalition meeting, but they were able to scramble -- Alien NPC@annpc#557:- the signal enough that we couldn't pinpoint the exact time and location. I sent a team over, but they were unable to apprehend whoever it was. We had little choice but to continue monitoring." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "That's when we saw the Valley Forge being destroyed. We suspect the infiltrator hitched a ride on one of the Coalition ships that came through the wormhole recently. There's two - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- times they likely snuck over to your ship undetected- sometime around now when you're docked with the Guardian station, or in five days' time when leaders of the Coalition vanguard force will - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- meet here to discuss strategy for when you enter the Sphere." Nikki@crystyl:"So I'm supposed to root out this stranger. What if they don't board until the last minute?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "The explosion occurs an hour after the beginning of the meeting. Any boarding during this hour will be detected, so even if they board at the last minute, you'll still have an hour - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- to root them out, not to mention that they'll have to be boarding in disguise as a member of the Coalition leaders' entourage, which greatly narrows down the list of suspects. If they sneak on - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- board now, they might adopt a disguise as one of the crew, in which case you'll have five days to find them." Nikki@crystyl:"And that's all you have for me to go on?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "In order to tamper with the temporal transporter systems, they'd have to possess authorized access to the facility. An outside intruder might've been able to force their way to the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- transporter, but there's no way they would've had the time to set the system up to erase the transport like that. That's why we suspect it's a member of our own organization, though I'm afraid - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- that doesn't narrow things down much. It could be a member of a species that would blend in seamlessly to a Starfleet crew, or it could be a Coalition species like the Arshai or Lodzki. We know - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- for sure the transport was only of one person, so it's a single infiltrator we're dealing with. Whether they have backing from any larger organization remains to be seen, but if they do, they - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- don't have assistance directly on hand in this time and place. They're working solo here." Nikki@crystyl:"Ok... well you say you saw this destruction happen or whatever. So what about the method?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Sabotage of the Element One stores you have on board, judging from the energy signature. The origin of the blast will be Cargo Bay 4. That's another reason we can't send our own to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- simply apprehend the infiltrator. They're not using a weapon they brought from our future, but something on your ship. If we show up in Cargo Bay 4, they'll most likely go elsewhere to sabotage - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- something else on your ship. Whoever they are, they're using technology to mask their chroniton flux from scanners, so we can't identify them easily. You're more familiar with the crew and the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- Coalition in general, not to mention less likely to arouse suspicion if you get close to people to check." Nikki@crystyl:"So if they're using tech to mask the tell tale energy signature, how am I supposed to verify their identity - or can the tech itself be identified like that combadge?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien smiles and pulls out a tricorder, handing it over to Nikki, "This is a scanner with our technology, but we've modified it to look like one of yours from the outside. It's been - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- tuned to detect future technology, as well as any abnormal chroniton flux. Try it on me." Nikki@crystyl was already preparing to do so, and scans him Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The tricorder lights up with both readings of chroniton flux and 29th century technology Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "The chroniton flux detection will be of less use to you, since their technology is masking it, but if you manage to remove the technology in question, or get the tricorder into - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- physical contact with their body, it'll be able to pick up on the flux." Nikki@crystyl:"But it will highlight the technology" she confirms. "What about the course of action from there. You said about letting you know so I assume you have some sort of... temporal communicator?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien nods, "That function is also built into the tricorder I gave you. It should be simple enough for someone of your time to tie it in to one of your earpieces, should you wish to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- communicate discreetly." Nikki@crystyl:"Alright then, if this is all you're asking me to do I'll play along. One question though; is this the first time you've recruited me like this, or have we been through this multiple times already?- Nikki@crystyl:- Because if so, any previous failures could narrow the search" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "This is the first time. I'd be wearing Lieutenant pips if it wasn't, wouldn't I?" He grins Nikki@crystyl smiles at that, "Good point. So that's it then, on with the mission" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Contact me or my crew through the tricorder if you need anything. I'll be going back to my own time." Nikki@crystyl:"You can count on it" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien stands, "Good luck, Subcommander. And try not to get more of the crew involved unless it can't be helped. Temporal Prime Directive, you understand." He turns to head out Nikki@crystyl watches quietly, not moving until he's gone it seems Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien steps out and turns the corner, soon disappearing from view. Nikki@crystyl moves quickly to try and follow and observe him Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan moves through the ship, eventually stepping through an airlock currently linked to a docking port with the Guardian Command Post. He makes his way through the airlock and into the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- halls of the Command Post Nikki@crystyl would continue to tail him all the way Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien eventually makes his way to an empty maintenance room on the station. He clips on the future combadge and taps it, causing the uniform to ripple around him. It promptly transforms - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- into a different uniform with some similarity to the present Starfleet uniform, but with the future badge clipped on and the four pips of a captain on his collar Alien NPC@annpc#557 | He taps the badge again, "S'Torien to Everett. One to beam back." The Romulan promptly disappears into a transporter beam Nikki@crystyl steps into the room, scanning with the new tricorder Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The new tricorder lights up with a message saying 'TEMPORAL TRANSPORT DETECTED' Nikki@crystyl:"Huh, guess he was telling the truth after all" stares a moment, "Crap... he was telling the truth after all..." Nikki@crystyl heads out to begin her search --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | A few hours later, Nikki gets her first suspicious reading as the tricorder lights up with a 'CHRONITON FLUX DETECTED' message near one of the VF's transporter rooms Nikki@crystyl moves to investigate NPC@annpc#557 | A figure steps out of the transporter room wearing one of the Tel'darash uniforms of the An Mothership, but he is clearly not an An. The almost reflective dark skin that looks perfect and free - NPC@annpc#557 - of any blemishes and the glowing eyes reveal him to be a synthetic lifeform before Nikki even has to look at the scan results, though when she does the tricorder confirms the chroniton flux is - NPC@annpc#557 - indeed coming from him. NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/8f9XWOI.jpg Nikki@crystyl discretely tails him for now NPC@annpc#557 | She tails him for a minute before her tricorder reads that he has stopped mid-way in the hall ahead and appears to be just standing there Nikki@crystyl promptly turns 180 and grabs the first Starfleet person who didn't see her already, "Oh, hey! Excuse me but, I know there's a lot of visitors back and forth to the ship right now and I just passed - Nikki@crystyl by this Tel'darash from the An ship round the corner there. Poor fellow looks kind of lost" NPC@annpc#557 | Crewman: "I think I saw him down the hall. I'll go see if he needs any help." The crewman promptly approaches the synthetic, who turns to face him NPC@annpc#557 | Crewman: "Can I help you, sir? Are you looking for anything in particular?" NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "I am, but I know the way, thank you." Nikki@crystyl observes with Romulan discretion, unclipping a small and very non-standard issue mini phaser at the back of her belt, under her jacket NPC@annpc#557 | Crewman: "Oh good. You were just standing in the middle of the hallway, and we thought you were lost." NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "I am not lost. My sensors register that a particular lifesign has been following me since I departed the transporter. I paused here to see if they are indeed seeking me." NPC@annpc#557 | Crewman: "Someone's been following you? Do you know who it is?" Nikki@crystyl silently curses herself NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "Negative. Their lifesign is distinct from the rest of the crew, though it bears similarities to the captain of your vessel and her species. I suspect they are a member of a closely - NPC@annpc#557 - related species." NPC@annpc#557 | Crewman: "Nikki? She's the one who told me you looked lost. Maybe she was just trying to help you find your way." NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "Perhaps. It is curious she did not approach me herself. I was not proceeding at a pace too quick for a biological biped to catch up to." NPC@annpc#557 | Crewman: "She was just around the corner. You can ask her yourself." NPC@annpc#557 | The synth nods, "Thank you. I shall do so." He promptly begins approaching Nikki... Nikki@crystyl silently curses the helpful crewman even more than herself NPC@annpc#557 | The synth turns the corner, looking for Nikki... Nikki@crystyl has no choice but to play the meek and innocent, standing there all timid-like, "H-hello..." NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "Greetings. I noticed you following me from the transporter. Is there something you required of me?" Nikki@crystyl:"Oh, n-no. Sorry! I was just, well, you're not like the other people here. And I- I'm not like them either, so I was curious about you..." NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "You are of a different species and do not wear the uniform of the crew. Were you one of the crewmembers recruited over the course of the Valley Forge's journey, or simply a visitor - NPC@annpc#557 - here from another vessel like myself?" Nikki@crystyl:"I, um, well I guess I sort of tagged along with them a while back... It's really hard to make friends when you're an outsider..." Nikki@crystyl puts on a sheepish appearance remarkably well... Nikki@crystyl (as any good wolf should) NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "Indeed. Come, walk with me. We of the Nos'telari are explorers, and we are always interested in learning more about other cultures." Nikki@crystyl smiles politely, "R-really? I mean... I don't want to intrude or anything. Everyone is always so busy..." NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "Do not worry, you are not intruding. You are welcome to follow if you wish." He turns and continues down the hallway Nikki@crystyl pauses a moment for implied hesitation before scurrying to catch up, "So... what are we up to then? I've explored the ship plenty so maybe I can even help!" she chirps optimistically before - Nikki@crystyl:- suddenly going meek again, "T-that is, if you would like help. I... I wouldn't mean to imply that you need it or anything, I swear!" NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "I can find my way around the vessel, though you are no doubt more familiar with it. Please, do lead the way. I am headed towards one of the cargo bays." NPC@annpc#557 | He adds, "Specifically, the one currently housing the Lodzki AI you recovered." Nikki@crystyl 's heart skips a beat at the mention of seeking a cargo bay Nikki@crystyl thinks a moment, "Oh oh! Yes, I think that's in 9!" NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "Lead the way, then." Nikki@crystyl smiles happily and makes her way for the turbolift, "Right this way then!" NPC@annpc#557 | The Synth follows along, "How long have you been on this vessel?" Nikki@crystyl:"Oh... a couple of years, maybe. So what brings you to see Zytomin?" NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "I am interested to see the similarities and differences between the design of artificial lifeforms across different civilizations. I did not have an opportunity to meet him previously - NPC@annpc#557:- and only learned that there was a Lodzki artificial intelligence on board through Mana." Nikki@crystyl:"Oh you're friends with Mana? She's an outsider here too!" NPC@annpc#557 | Synth: "I am acquainted with her. I am Vector, second-in-command of the Lander One. A pleasure to meet you, Nikki. That is what you were called by the one who spoke with me, at least." Nikki@crystyl:"That's my name, yes" she sighs, growing weary of putting the facade, "Computer, halt turbolift" and turns to face him squarely, no longer putting on the act NPC@annpc#557 | The synth looks around, then focuses on Nikki, "Is something wrong?" Nikki@crystyl:"Vector, why do you emit chroniton flux?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector: "Ah, you have detected the chroniton signature." His eyes seem to zoom in on Nikki, "Was that the real reason you have been following me?" Nikki@crystyl:"Yes. I detected the anomalous readings and find them highly suspicious" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector: "That is a long story. I am happy to explain it to you in full. Would you like to find a seat first? Biologicals usually find that posture more comfortable for long discussions." Nikki@crystyl:"Romulans do not" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector nods, "Very well. I will explain here if you prefer, then." Nikki@crystyl sighs again, "Alright fine, you're accommodating enough. Let's go sit down. Computer, resume" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector's eyes zoom in on Nikki again before returning to their normal position as the lift continues Nikki@crystyl heads for one of the quieter lower decks lounges near their destination NPC@annpc#557 | Vector follows along Nikki@crystyl and makes sure to keep a constant eye on Vector as they move NPC@annpc#557 | The synth doesn't seem to do anything suspicious, simply following Nikki as they walk Nikki@crystyl enters the lounge and finds a quiet corner to sit down where she looks across the table expectantly NPC@annpc#557 | Vector sits down opposite Nikki, "Much earlier on our journey, Mothership Suvoseh became entangled in a subspace anomaly. In an alternate timeline, the Mothership was ripped apart by the - NPC@annpc#557:- anomaly, though some of the crew managed to navigate through the anomaly and escape using the smaller auxiliary craft." NPC@annpc#557 | Vector: "Without the support of the Mothership, they had limited capabilities and were forced to settle a nearby planet. After a series of events involving the inhospitality of the planet we - NPC@annpc#557:- settled on, attacks from pirates and ultimately the expansion of the subspace anomaly, the majority died out." NPC@annpc#557 | Vector: "Over a century later, when the anomaly was about to destroy the planet, the remaining members, or I should say descendents of the expedition, for I was the only original survivor left - NPC@annpc#557:- at that point, managed to devise a method to stop the anomaly, which over our years of study we determined to possess temporal properties. Using specifically targeted bursts of tachyon energy, - NPC@annpc#557:- it was possible to cause the anomaly to collapse in on itself. With only one functional Recon Ship left however, the resources were inadequate to execute this plan and they failed." Nikki@crystyl:"Quite the fascinating tale. But I'm guessing it does not end there" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector: "It does not. Trapped inside the anomaly as it destroyed their new colony, they decided to use the temporal properties of the anomaly to travel back before the Mothership was - NPC@annpc#557:- destroyed, as the Mothership possessed the resources to collapse the anomaly. It was a desperate plan, and the temporal destination was far from precise. The Recon Ship arrived seven years before - NPC@annpc#557:- the Mothership and its engines failed. The rest of the crew did not survive, but the Vector of that timeline put himself into a low-power hibernation mode and was eventually found by our - NPC@annpc#557:- Mothership when we became trapped in the anomaly. We detected the Recon Ship in a stable pocket of the anomaly and reactivated the other Vector, who provided us with the calculations necessary to - NPC@annpc#557:- collapse the anomaly." Nikki@crystyl:"You speak of the 'other Vector' as the one who went through all of this, but recite the account like it is from your own memory. And if you weren't that Vector, you would surely not have the - Nikki@crystyl:- readings I detected either" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector: "The Mothership took damage, having already been trapped inside the anomaly. One hundred and sixty one members of the crew perished in the event. Infrared and I took damage - NPC@annpc#557:- that was irreparable at the time, as the Mothership was unable to produce the necessary components before repair. As such, the other Vector donated his components to us, as he no longer belonged - NPC@annpc#557:- in this timeline. That is why Infrared and I now possess a chroniton flux, as we carry some of the other Vector's components. His memories were also integrated with my own, which is why I have a - NPC@annpc#557:- clear recollection of that timeline." Nikki@crystyl:"I see. Well... thank you for indulging my curiosity. I am sorry to have troubled you" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector: "No need for apologies. I understand the concern- a chroniton flux is an unusual signature to detect and generally signifies some form of temporal activity, which can often have - NPC@annpc#557:- disastrous consequences if not careful." Nikki@crystyl:"I am glad you understand. I do not wish to take any more of your time, please; enjoy your visit with Zytomin" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector stands, "If you have any further questions, you are welcome to ask. There is no need to tail me- Nos'telari expeditions are forbidden from causing temporal incursions except in extreme - NPC@annpc#557 - circumstances that warrant them, such as the case with the Vector of the alternate timeline. It is unlikely you will find many of us having travelled through time, and those who have must - NPC@annpc#557:- possess a very good reason for it." Nikki@crystyl:"Got it. Thanks again" NPC@annpc#557 | Vector nods before heading out Nikki@crystyl leans back in her seat with a heavy sigh. Back to square one... --- NPC@annpc#557 | As Nikki continues her search, her tricorder lights up again, this time with the message '26TH CENTURY TECHNOLOGY DETECTED,' then '27TH CENTURY TECHNOLOGY DETECTED' Nikki@crystyl frowns at the indecisive device, trying to pinpoint the detection NPC@annpc#557 | The detection seems to be someone in a nearby lounge Nikki@crystyl wanders in, getting a good look at the crowd while moving to a replicator NPC@annpc#557 | The lounge is not very busy, though there are a few crew about. The tricorder quickly narrows down the source of the technology as a Regulator standing by the counter, one Nikki quickly - NPC@annpc#557 - recognizes as Vulture, the Regulator attached to the VF, who is mid-conversation with Taizam-Dur NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture: "...even we do not entirely understand." NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur: "If you're interested, you can speak to the Commander or the Captain about getting a look at it. We obtained quite a stockpile of Element One from the Iconian mine, more than we'll - NPC@annpc#557 - ever use up on this journey. Maybe they'll even give you a crystal or two to study." Nikki@crystyl casually takes her drink and moves to sit quietly at a table within earshot where she takes a simple break, reading her Vulcan romance novels on a PADD NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture: "We would not wish to take away your resources. Besides, as efficient as it may be, we have our own fuel sources and would not need it as an alternative. However, I would like to - NPC@annpc#557:- study it in more detail, and I am sure there are other Analysts who would be interested in the material." NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur: "I'll mention it to Kelly, then. You'll get a chance to study it as we work on the suit anyways, but if you want to conduct any other experiments, she can arrange it for you." NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture smiles, "No need. I am well-acquainted with her, and I would not desire to conduct my own experiments on it. Fuel sources are not my area of expertise, after all. But if our other - NPC@annpc#557:- Analysts are interested, I will make sure to pass their experiment ideas along as suggestions. We don't want to step on your toes." NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur: "No need to worry about that- Lennie's people would love to work on some joint-research projects with you." NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture: "A joint project sounds like an excellent idea. I should return to work for now- I will let you know if I receive word from any of our Analysts." NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur: "See you around." NPC@annpc#557 | Vulture finishes her drink and returns the cup to the replicator before heading out NPC@annpc#557 | Taizam-Dur meanwhile takes his drink to a table where two other Orions are seated, joining them --- Ann Carter@anncaris FX | As the VF is preparing to undock and crew are returning from the Guardian Command Post, Nikki continues her search... Ann Carter@anncaris | Among the returning VF crew, no one is showing any future technology or chroniton flux, nor is there anyone Nikki doesn't recognize Ann Carter@anncaris | As she does her scans, she hears someone approaching from behind... Ann Carter@anncaris:"Hey Nikki! Didn't know ya were helpin' out with Engineerin'. Or ya lookin' for somethin'?" Nikki@crystyl turns, "Oh hello Ann. You know me, always like to help out where I can. You?" Ann Carter@anncaris:"I like to help out with Engineerin' too, when I can help out tha' is. Just on my way back from the starboard shuttlebay, checkin' over the shuttles for some maintenance." Nikki@crystyl:"Done for the day then now?" Ann Carter@anncaris nods, "Pretty quiet in the hangars. Our auxiliary craft didn't take any damage durin' the whole situation in the Sphere. Last time one o' 'em needed proper repairs was back durin' - Ann Carter@anncaris:- tha' temporal incursion." Nikki@crystyl:"The incident with the future Valley Forge, right?" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Oh I mean the one with the runabout! The time when we accidentally used Element One an' it launched us all the way back to the Orion homeworld in its ancient days. Tha' journey fried the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- runabout's systems pretty bad." Nikki@crystyl:"You used Element One to create a temporal anomaly? I was not aware of that, nor that it even had such properties..." Nikki@crystyl muses, clearly thinking on a whole new perspective to this investigation Ann Carter@anncaris:"Neither were we! Jenni was tryin' to use it for FTL 'cause our warp drive got knocked out by the raiders chasin' us, an' next thing we knew both us an' the raiders ended up crashin' to the Orion - Ann Carter@anncaris:- homeworld thousands o' years ago. We still don't know /how/ exactly it happened, though we're lookin' into it. Heard that they're thinkin' o' getting the Regulators to check it out too." Nikki@crystyl:"If I had to guess, I would surmise that the volatile energy source created a cascade reaction in your matter-antimatter warp drive, essentially hyper-accelerating it beyond the warp 10 barrier" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Kinda like a slingshot, but without the sun?" Nikki@crystyl:"In essence, yes. That's my theory at least, it's not as if I know anything about temporal activity" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Tha' makes sense! Though Element One itself's definitely still worth studyin', even if the temporal stuff wasn't cause o' the material an' just the speed. Anyways, wha' are you helpin' out with?" Nikki@crystyl:"Oh, just a little admin work. You know how it is, with so many visitors coming and going" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Admin work? Thought I saw ya scannin' with a tricorder, not tappin' on a PADD. Looks more like security work to me..." Nikki@crystyl 's eyes narrow ever so slightly, "Observant one, aren't you" she smiles, "Not all admin work requires data entry though. Sometimes we have to collect data first, hence the tricorder" Ann Carter@anncaris:"So ya helpin' make sure everyone's back on the crew in time or somethin'?" Nikki@crystyl:"The internal sensors take care of that. No, this is more surveying for wear and tear caused by the increased traffic to key areas" Ann Carter@anncaris:"Oooh, so it is kinda Engineerin' related. Thought as much!" Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Anyway, I should let you get back to it" Ann Carter@anncaris smiles back, "Good luck with ya survey, Nikki!" Nikki@crystyl returns the smile and a friendly wave as she heads off, "Thank you, see you later Ann" Nikki@crystyl would go to find a secluded place to contact the timeship, even if back to her quarters Ann Carter@anncaris | Nikki finds a secluded maintenance area to contact the timeship at Nikki@crystyl makes sure she is clear, then makes contact Ann Carter@anncaris | A woman's voice responds, "This is Commander Al-Fasil of the Everett. Have you managed to learn anything, Subcommander?" Nikki@crystyl:"Not precisely, but I have come across another angle on this that we may not have considered. Your Captain mentioned survivors before - I need to know who they are" Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "Survivors of the impending sabotage of your ship, or?" Nikki@crystyl:"Yes. What else would there be survivors of in this context?" Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "Something you're not supposed to be aware of yet, so I won't elaborate on it. I'm seeing a few survivors of the explosion, but there's almost no one from your crew. A number of the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- Nuhar drones will survive, as will Sayu and Vector since they can operate in vacuum. Other than them, the only others who survive the incident will be the Regulators. It looks like some of them - Ann Carter@anncaris:- were caught in the blast radius and won't make it, but the Supervisor and two others will be the only organic lifeforms to survive." Nikki@crystyl hrms, "And neither of them would survive to your time in order to set things in motion. But the artificial lifeforms who survived could have..." Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "Correct, but the infiltrator came from our timeline, and in our timeline the Valley Forge wasn't destroyed here, so they can't be going back to fulfill a predestination paradox." Nikki@crystyl:"So much for that theory then. But what if they weren't trying to destroy this ship, but to create a temporal incursion?" Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "What do you mean?" Nikki@crystyl:"I mean that Element One is proven to be capable of forcing a temporal incursion when introduced into a matter-antimatter warp core" Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "That's true, but they had all the resources they needed to create a temporal incursion at Vue-En, our Vue-En, I mean. Their actions were planned and methodical, if they wanted to - Ann Carter@anncaris:- transport to a different time period, they would. Unless..." Nikki@crystyl:"Unless...?" Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "You might be partially right. Their target is almost certainly the Valley Forge, but maybe the Element One is their escape plan as well as their weapon. We initially assumed they - Ann Carter@anncaris:- also died with the explosion, but with the precision they've shown so far, they could have used the explosion to cover up their use of the same fuel- Element One, to travel back home. Or rather, - Ann Carter@anncaris:- to the future of this altered timeline." Nikki@crystyl:"I don't know if this gives any additional insight or not. But felt it pertinent enough to investigate with you" Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "It doesn't give any insight to who the infiltrator is, but it does mean they're intentionally eyeing the Element One for sabotage, rather than it just being the most convenient - Ann Carter@anncaris:- point. It's still possible that they'll resort to other means if we send people to guard your Element One stocks, and it might be better not to guard them because we know it's their target. - Ann Carter@anncaris:- Whoever it is, they're going to go for the Element One and possibly display an interest in gaining access to it." Nikki@crystyl:"Alright, well thanks for the info anyway" Ann Carter@anncaris | Al-Fasil: "Honing in on people who are interested in Element One might narrow down your search, but that's the best conclusion we can draw so far. Keep us updated if you learn more." Nikki@crystyl:"Will do. Now I should go before anyone hears us" she ends the comm and promptly moves on --- Ann Carter@anncaris | Almost three days pass with no sign of a potential infiltrator. The Valley Forge and the Coalition vanguard have been traveling for a few days now, and the time of the meeting when the - Ann Carter@anncaris - sabotage will occur is fast approaching. Nikki is certain there's no one on board who shouldn't be, which means the infiltrator is either masquerading extremely convincingly as a member of the - Ann Carter@anncaris:- crew or will only arrive on board when the vanguard leaders arrive for the meeting Ann Carter@anncaris | She has managed to identify several personnel with an interest in Element One- Jenni, Kelly, Taizam-Dur and Vulture are working on creating some kind of mock replicator suit and has - Ann Carter@anncaris:- begun experimenting with Element One as an energy source. Among them, Kelly has been studying the material since the project to give Eon FTL capabilities, while Taizam-Dur has demonstrated an - Ann Carter@anncaris:- interest in it since the runabout incursion Ann mentioned. There are also a few science personnel who occasionally do research on Eon, led by Lieutenant Chare bim Peth, who specializes in - Ann Carter@anncaris:- dilithium-related research Ann Carter@anncaris | In the wider Coalition, the Arshai, Regulators and An have shown interest in Element One, as has Zytomin, though none of them have yet had a chance to study it firsthand Nikki@crystyl grows frustrated with her lack of progress as she feels no closer than when she started Ann Carter@anncaris | None of the people interested in Element One seem particularly suspicious, though it is possible that someone may sneak over from the Arshai, Regulator or An ships currently in the vanguard Nikki@crystyl does all she can to monitor movements for the time being Ann Carter@anncaris | She notes that Kelly and Taizam-Dur has been visiting Cargo Bay 4 a few times, though it is most likely related to their project and not anything nefarious. Other than that, everything else - Ann Carter@anncaris:- seems normal.... --- Keliaya@anncaris | Meanwhile, Keelah is working away in her ready room when the doorbell rings Keelah@crystyl:"Come in" Keliaya@anncaris steps in, "Captain." Keelah@crystyl looks up with a smile, "Kelly. To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?" Keliaya@anncaris:"Well...several things," she steps over to take a seat, "Though I suspect the one you'll want to know first is that there's another message from Eva." Keelah@crystyl does indeed sit back attentively, "More vague senses of feelings, or have you had success with Sin?" Keliaya@anncaris shakes her head, "No, this was another warning, like with the envoys they sent last time. It's clearer now, I'm not sure if it's thanks to my time with Sin or interpreting that last one with you." Keelah@crystyl:"Another warning?" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "The Architect's sent a messenger to the Corporations now, but we don't have any subspace maps or anything to intercept them. I'm not sure how much we'll be able to act on it, other than - Keliaya@anncaris:- passing the warning along to the Coalition." Keelah@crystyl:"We can at least do that much" Keliaya@anncaris:"Let's hope it's enough to stop his plans. We don't know much about these Corporations, but they seem like the sort that would easily be swayed, even without using Horde control on them." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed. You said that was the first thing?" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "There were two others I wanted to bring up. Speaking of subspace corridors, we know the one the Horde envoys used thanks to Eva's previous message. We might not know the whole network, - Keliaya@anncaris:- but that particular corridor links the way between here and the Sphere. We might be able to guide the other ships with us to get there faster." Keelah@crystyl:"It would certainly give us an advantageous opening to our arrival" Keliaya@anncaris:"Might be something worth bringing up to the other vanguard commanders. We're less familiar with the path from here to the Sphere than we are the part from here to Lodzki space, but we managed so - Keliaya@anncaris:- far with the map we have." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed, thank you for the recommendation" Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Just doing what I can to help. And the third matter is a lot less urgent, but I thought I'd bring it to you anyways while we're here." Keelah@crystyl:"Of course, what's on your mind?" Keliaya@anncaris:"Some of the Regulators are interested in coming over for some joint studies on Element One. Jenni suggested we try it as an energy source in the mock suit we're using on, and it turns out even the - Keliaya@anncaris:- Regulators aren't familiar with it, so they want to study it as much as we do." Keelah@crystyl:"As long as they don't get any funny ideas about regulating our use of it then" she smiles, though also kind of means it, clearly Keliaya@anncaris:"I think it's just genuine scientific curiosity. At least Vulture hasn't mentioned anything about regulating it. I'll make sure to talk to her about it, though." Keelah@crystyl:"Alright, of course I'm happy to share the exploration of knowledge with any who are interested" Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "Thanks, Captain. I'll let them know we can go ahead with the joint research." Keelah@crystyl:"I look forward to seeing the results" Keliaya@anncaris:"Me too. I'll be sure to keep you updated on our discoveries. Anything else you think worth bringing up?" Keelah@crystyl shakes her head with a smile, "No, things are pretty quiet really. All things considered" Keliaya@anncaris smiles and nods, "It's a good change for once. I'll get back to working on those side projects, then." Keelah@crystyl:"Have fun now" --- NPC@annpc#557 FX | It is the evening before the day of the meeting, and the clock is ticking down to find the infiltrator. Nikki still has no tangible leads, and has no choice but to wait it out until people - NPC@annpc#557 - begin arriving from the other ships the next day... NPC@annpc#557 | Katie enters as Nikki eats in the lounge. She replicates a tray of food before looking around the busy area, eventually heading over to Nikki's table, "Mind if I join you, Subcommander?" Nikki@crystyl gestures to the empty seat, "By all means" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie smiles and sits down, "Busy lounge tonight." Nikki@crystyl glances around, "I hadn't noticed. This is not normally one I frequent. This is comparatively busy then?" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie nods, "Everyone must be trying to get some R&R in before tomorrow." Nikki@crystyl:"Understandable I suppose. I take that's not what brings you here today then, if you are familiar enough to see the difference" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "Well, it is a busy day for me tomorrow too, but I'm just here to grab some dinner," she says as she raises a fork with some salad on it before promptly eating the vegetables. "Was - NPC@annpc#557:- hoping to catch Kelly, but she's already preoccupied tonight." Nikki@crystyl:"So besides a Coalition meeting, what's so special about tomorrow to have the whole crew all tied up like this?" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "There's a variety of things. I hear we're going to be using the subspace corridor again to speed up our journey to the Sphere if the rest of the ships here agree with the plan, which has got - NPC@annpc#557:- plenty of the science department and pilots occupied. As we might be arriving earlier, Tactical, Security and MACO are ramping up their preparations too. Kazra's running the medical staff through - NPC@annpc#557:- triage sims, and us transporter operators, we have to manage all the arrivals and departures for the meeting, of course. Engineering's actually been more free than usual after we finished repairs - NPC@annpc#557:- at the Guardian station, but some Regulators'll be coming over tomorrow with their Supervisor to do some research on Element One, which Kelly's coordinating." Nikki@crystyl stiffens with renewed attention to the conversation, "Wait, the Regulators are coming to work with Element One. Tomorrow?" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie nods, "Yeah. Apparently they know as much about it as we do, according to Kelly, and they want to study it with us." Nikki@crystyl:"I see, interesting. Do you happen to know when they are due to arrive?" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "Our new anti-transport systems mean they need our transporter rooms to work with them in order for them to beam on board, so they've decided to come here on the same transport with - NPC@annpc#557:- their Supervisor when she comes for the meeting. They're due to arrive at 1200 hours tomorrow. You should talk to Kelly if you want in on the research." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "An excellent suggestion Katie, thank you. I may well do just that" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie smiles back, "Are you an Engineer, or Operations? I forget, but I think that's what the colour of your uniform signifies, isn't it?" Nikki@crystyl glances down with a slight chuckle, "I think this uniform mostly signifies that I'm not Starfleet. Though you are right still, as I do try to conform without abandoning it completely. So yes, I - Nikki@crystyl:- wear your gold colour of Operations" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "That's what I thought! So, are you interested in Element One scientifically, or because of the benefits it could bring to your people? The Romulan Republic holds quite a few Iconian - NPC@annpc#557:- sites, right? You might find some sources of Element One in one of those." Nikki@crystyl:"That is my thinking, yes. We have never shared Starfleet's reservations about exploring new energy sources. A trait which... hasn't always exactly worked out for us, admittedly. But with the - Nikki@crystyl:- Republic constantly fighting to get back on its feet, something like this to capitalize on our presence within other Iconian spheres could certainly be a big help" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "It certainly would be helpful! I'd probably observe the studies myself if it wasn't such a busy day in the transporter rooms. I might not be able to help much with the scientific - NPC@annpc#557:- research, but from what I heard it's basically decrystallized dilithium. I come from one of the major dilithium mining colonies in the Federation, so naturally it's of interest to me." Nikki@crystyl:"So how is - with such knowledge and interest - that you are serving as a transport operator and not a propulsion engineer, if I may ask?" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: â€œOh I grew up on Corvan, but I didn't work with dilithium. I actually worked with the transporter systems in the mines before I enlisted, so transport operator was a pretty natural choice." Nikki@crystyl:"Fair enough, so it is more of an extracurricular interest then - not unlike my own?" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie nods, "Yeah. Working in the mines, you pick up things about dilithium here and there, even if you don't work with it directly, but I'm far from an expert like Thorkildsen or Dr. bim Peth." Nikki@crystyl:"Well, hopefully I will be able to observe the research without getting underfoot" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "I'm sure you won't get in the way! Kelly actually invited me to observe, but I have to manage all the transports going in and out with both the joint research and the meeting going on." NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "Hopefully they'll run more than one research session, and the next one'll fit better with my schedule." Nikki@crystyl:"Hopefully!" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "Anyways, just look for Kelly before it starts and she'll let you know where to be and when." She smiles Nikki@crystyl:"I shall do so, thank you. This has been a most fortuitous happenchance" NPC@annpc#557 | Katie: "Glad you find the information helpful! The benefits of being among the more senior enlisted- we hear everything going on across the ship," she smirks Nikki@crystyl:"Yes... you are very much like the eyes and ears of the ship aren't you..." NPC@annpc#557 | Katie smiles proudly, "That we are!" Nikki@crystyl:"I shall have to keep that in mind" --- Keliaya@anncaris | Nikki finds Kelly in Cargo Bay 4, where the Element One is being stored... Nikki@crystyl heads over, "Hi Kelly. Not disturbing anything am I?" Keliaya@anncaris looks over with a smile, "Oh, not at all! Anything I can help you with, Nikki?" Nikki@crystyl:Well, yes actually. I understand we're about to host the Regulators on some joint research thing around the Element One?" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "That's right. They're also unfamiliar with it, and it'd be useful to have their expertise on hand for research. They might have harsh rules and all, but one thing that can't be denied is - Keliaya@anncaris - that they know what they're doing when it comes to technological development and scientific research." Nikki@crystyl:"I see. It must quite exciting to be working with so many new people, even as elusive as they can be" Keliaya@anncaris:"That it is, especially people with their knowledge. Similarly it can benefit them as well, since their technology is different from ours and while they're familiar with dilithium, they don't have - Keliaya@anncaris:- the same degree of experience with it as those of us who work on ships that rely on it for energy, and Element One is a dilithium product." Nikki@crystyl:"Must be a nightmare for security with all those visitors..." she chuckles whimsically Keliaya@anncaris:"Yes, I heard there's a meeting with the Coalition vanguard leaders at the same time. I don't think security's going to be much of a problem here though, their presence'll mostly just be formal. If - Keliaya@anncaris:- something does go wrong, it'll more likely be from the Element One. Proper lab containment'll be the more important part." Nikki@crystyl:"True. I can't begin to imagine all the complications when dealing with an unknown element like this, I mean like; anything could set it off right?" Keliaya@anncaris:"We have a decent idea of what not to do from our own research, but it is still very much a mystery to us. Like that temporal incident with the runabout- no one knew that could happen, which was - Keliaya@anncaris:- how it ended up happening. But the only way to make sure things like that don't happen is to research it in a controlled environment and learn more about it." Keliaya@anncaris:"After all, antimatter and regular dilithium can also cause plenty of accidents, and these accidents did happen back when our civilizations didn't understand them as well." Nikki@crystyl:"Oh yeah, that whole temporal incident was caused by it! Just proves my point my really" she chuckles. "Well, at least you know to screen everyone for chroniton flux before letting them near it, - Nikki@crystyl:- right!" she adds whimsically, like it's the most obvious thing in the world Keliaya@anncaris:"Chroniton flux? I don't think that occurs until /after/ a temporal incident's already happened. Though maybe it could set something off in the Element One. Always better to take every precaution - Keliaya@anncaris:- we can, after all." Nikki@crystyl:"Yeah, exactly! Knowing it's caused temporal anomalies already I'd certainly want to be safe and make sure not to let anyone near it" she thinks a moment, "In fact... when is it the visitors are - Nikki@crystyl:- meant to be arriving?" Keliaya@anncaris:"1200. Do you want to join the research or observe it?" Nikki@crystyl:"Well I was hoping to come and observe, I doubt I would be much use in the actual research! But no, if that's the timing then why don't I help you out with the extra screening as it wasn't accounted- Nikki@crystyl:- for? I can monitor everyone as they beam over and isolate anyone should they happen to have any anomalous readings!" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Sure, if you're up for it! The basic security scans'll be done in transport as usual, but with Regulator technology, never know if we'll miss something since we don't even fully - Keliaya@anncaris:- understand how their suits work. You're...intel, right?" Nikki@crystyl nods, "Not my official capacity here, but I worked intel back with the Republic at times" Keliaya@anncaris:"Might be helpful experience for screening people. I don't expect anyone'll bring anything that causes problems, but it's good to be safe, especially with people from the other Coalition ships - Keliaya@anncaris:- over for the meeting. Wouldn't want to have an incident while they're around." Nikki@crystyl laughs, totally not awkwardly, "...yeah, could you imagine..." Keliaya@anncaris:"Anyways, I didn't know you were interested in Element One. Been talking to Jenni recently? Or is it because it's been showing up in places with Iconian tech?" Nikki@crystyl:"The latter. Learning more about its origin, or where to find it leftover, makes it of interest to the Romulan people" Keliaya@anncaris:"Ahh, that makes sense. You have a gateway on your new homeworld after all, don't you?" Nikki@crystyl nods, "And a dominant presence on the connected sphere with the Alliance" Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "I'll keep you up to date whenever there's new research on it, then. You're welcome to come observe in the future whenever you like." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Thank you, I will certainly do so. But now I suppose I should leave you to your preparations, and go make some of my own" Keliaya@anncaris:"I'll see you during the research then! The experiments themselves'll be held in Lab 6, by the way. So you know where to go if you don't follow the Regulators there." Nikki@crystyl smiles again, "Thank you, I look forward to!" giving a cheery wave as she heads back out. A cunning and self-satisfied grin on her face for nobody but herself to enjoy --- Keliaya@anncaris | As 1200 hours approaches, Nikki waits in the transporter room with Katie... Keliaya@anncaris | Katie: "I knew you wanted to observe the experiments, but I didn't know you were /that/ excited for it to be joining me in the transporter room!" Nikki@crystyl shakes her head, "It is quite the odd series of events actually. But my conversation with Kelly led to a realization that the transport screenings may have deadly loophole, given our limited - Nikki@crystyl -knowledge of Element One. So I volunteered to help with extra screenings specifically for chroniton flux" Keliaya@anncaris | Katie: "Chroniton flux? Why...oh, is that because of the runabout incident?" Nikki@crystyl:"Exactly, yes!" Keliaya@anncaris | Katie: "Anything chroniton-related is above my paygrade, so I'll leave it in your capable hands." Nikki@crystyl:"Don't worry, I have taken specific measures to monitor remotely here. I will just a finger on the proverbial trigger in case I need to activate the isolation field" Keliaya@anncaris | Katie nods, "Got it. I'll make sure the containment field over any arrivals is in place until you give the all-clear." Nikki@crystyl smiles, "Don't worry, we've got this. I mean besides, the odds of someone beaming over who would set this off..." she chuckles Keliaya@anncaris | Katie chuckles, "Yeah, chroniton flux isn't exactly something common, is it..." Nikki@crystyl:"Exactly! So let's just get on with our task, then we can move on with the day without incident" Keliaya@anncaris | Katie nods, "Sounds good to me!" She looks down at her console as something pops up, "We got our first incoming transport, but it's from the Guardians. Materializing now, but I'm keeping the - Keliaya@anncaris:- containment field up." Keliaya@anncaris | Guardian-Commander Issandros materializes on the transporter pad, along with two others in Guardian armour Nikki@crystyl scans in the background, only acting if she gets a hit Keliaya@anncaris | The tricorder gives no warnings about the three Guardians! Keliaya@anncaris | Katie lowers the containment field and the three Guardians promptly step off the pad, giving the two a nod as they head out towards the conference room Nikki@crystyl:"So far so good" Keliaya@anncaris | Katie nods, "One more transport coming, single individual from the Pride of Cidria." Keliaya@anncaris | Admiral Celestina materializes on the transporter pad, and once again there are no unusual readings. Katie lowers the confinement beam and greets the Lodzki admiral before she heads off for - Keliaya@anncaris:- the meeting Keliaya@anncaris | Katie: "All going smoothly still- good thing for a busy day like this." Nikki@crystyl:"Indeed" Keliaya@anncaris | A minute later, Katie announces, "Here comes the transport from the Regulators. They're beaming over six people." Nikki@crystyl nods, "This may take a moment for a larger group, so bare with" Keliaya@anncaris | Katie nods back, "Take your time! I'm sure the Regulators of all people'll understand precautions." Keliaya@anncaris FX | The Regulators begin to materialize on the transporter. As before, Nikki's tricorder begins to pop up messages about detecting 26th and 27th century technology from the Regulator suits Nikki@crystyl knows that is a false positive reading and rules it out Keliaya@anncaris | There is no detection of chroniton flux, but as Nikki watches the tricorder, she notices a '29TH CENTURY TECHNOLOGY DETECTED' briefly popping up among the messages... Nikki@crystyl:"We have a breach Katie! Hold your containment" Keliaya@anncaris | Katie nods, "Holding containment. What'd you find, Subcommander?" Nikki@crystyl:"That is a good question..." she approaches the shielded pad to determine which individual it is Keliaya@anncaris | She manages to determine it is the Regulator on the left at the front of the group when Katie announces, "The containment field is being overloaded!" Nikki@crystyl:"Reinforce and activate the scattering field!" Nikki@crystyl taps her combadge, "Bridge, red alert! We have a security breach in transporter room 1" Keliaya@anncaris | The Regulator suddenly stretches out her hand and Nikki is sent back into the wall. Katie taps quickly on the console but the Regulator waves her hand and the console begins to spark. Katie - Keliaya@anncaris - darts away from it just as it explodes, but the force of the explosion knocks her out Keliaya@anncaris | The other Regulators simply stand in place, still as statues Keliaya@anncaris | Supervisor: "What is the meaning of this? Our suits are being affected by a virus they cannot purge, we are unable to move!" Nikki@crystyl tries to recover and bring her phaser to bear, "That is an imposter here to destroy the ship" Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "Apologies, Supervisor. The Administration will thank me for this in a few centuries." She turns to Nikki, "You've been warned of my arrival, haven't you?" Keliaya@anncaris | Nikki is able to recover her phaser! Nikki@crystyl tries to stand, holding it on the Regulator, "Nobody can thank you for killing the Coalition leaders here. You may have destroyed the console there, but not before our scattering field activated. - Nikki@crystyl:- Try to leave and it will be the last thing you do. Try to leave through me, and - well - at least I'll get some entertainment from all this trouble you've put me through" Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "Your scattering field is no threat to me. I've already materialized here on your ship and I don't intend to transport away. My objective is right here." Keliaya@anncaris | Supervisor: "Who are you? Why do you want to destroy this ship?" Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "You don't know it yet, but if you destroy the Horde, it will mark the beginning of the end of the Administration. I've come to prevent that from happening." Keliaya@anncaris | Supervisor: "You are not from this time. But why would a member of the Administration abuse temporal technology like this? It goes against our very mandate." Nikki@crystyl:"This rogue is poisoned by their misguided beliefs, Supervisor. Now if you would be so kind; it would be expedient to know if a standard stun setting will take one of you out in those suits or - Nikki@crystyl:- how much I have to ramp it up. I would hate to accidentally disintegrate this interloper before we can properly interrogate, but it is preferable to the alternative" Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "There /is/ no more Administration! The influence and power you have now, it's all gone, and what's left of us is forced to beg for scraps from the Union, the new galactic - Keliaya@anncaris:- order. You've seen it- when your ship accidentally jumped to the future. You know the Darkness and what it does to our technology." Nikki@crystyl:"Enough! Please, Supervisor" Keliaya@anncaris | Supervisor: "That does not excuse your actions. Your weapon will not suffice, she will have dark energy shields in place." Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "She is correct. Your technology of this era is no match for ours." Nikki@crystyl:"Somehow I knew you were going to say that. Besides, it would also require letting you out of that containment field and I prefer you where you are" she smiles, "Anyway, I don't need my technology - Nikki@crystyl:- to contain you" Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "You overestimate your capabilities." She raises her arm again and the field around the transporter pad begins to sparkle and fizzle out, and she slowly steps off the pad Keliaya@anncaris | Four security personnel rush into the room, but come to an abrupt stop, frozen mid-motion Nikki@crystyl projects her voice a little, "Everett, I assume you've heard enough and are ready to intervene" Nikki@crystyl reveals the open tricorder in her other hand, evidently with an open comm line to the timeship this whole time Keliaya@anncaris | S'Torien: "Subcommander, the temporal transporters won't lock on to your ship. There's interference, something more advanced than even our-" Keliaya@anncaris | The rogue Regulator yells in frustration and stretches out her hand, pulling the tricorder from Nikki's grasp with her dark energy manipulation and crushing it in the air. She turns and runs - Keliaya@anncaris:- out for the hall before promptly coming to a stop Nikki@crystyl would move to tackle her if she can Keliaya@anncaris | Nikki tries to tackle her, but seems to bounce off an invisible field in front of her. However, as the rogue comes to a stop in the hallway beyond, she notices lights flashing throughout the - Keliaya@anncaris:- corridor, and sees the Regulator take a step back through the transporter room door Nikki@crystyl doesn't look a gifthorse in the mouth and again moves to grab the rogue and lock her arms behind her back Keliaya@anncaris | As she grabs the rogue, she notices that there is someone else in the hallway, a figure in black robes, with a hood obscuring most of her head, with only a few locks of black hair visible, - Keliaya@anncaris:- trailing down from inside the hood. The strange figure seems to be levitating in the middle of the hallway, surrounded by something that might have been described as a glow, but the aura is - Keliaya@anncaris:- dark instead of light, seeming to block all light from approaching the individual and shrouding them in shadow Nikki@crystyl:"Oh great there's more of you? This wasn't part of the deal..." Keliaya@anncaris | The figure speaks with a strangely ethereal feminine voice: "You do not belong in this time. You will not be permitted to interfere with the trial." Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "No. No! You weren't supposed to see me." She growls and glares at Nikki, "This is your fault! Your dialogue with that timeship!" Keliaya@anncaris | Figure: "What's the difference? They would have stopped you anyways." Nikki@crystyl sneers, "Don't go blaming me if you pissed of the she-devil, or whoever this is" Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "Their punishments are lighter. They'll incarcerate me for the rest of my natural life, at most." Nikki@crystyl tugs at the pinned arms, "Don't count on it" Keliaya@anncaris | Figure: "You should have thought of that before interfering with the Final Judgement, and this ship." Keliaya@anncaris | The rogue lowers her helmet, looking frantically to Nikki, "Please, you can't let her take me. I surrender. I repent! Don't let them take me!" Keliaya@anncaris | Figure: "It is too late for that. The Continuum will judge you now." Nikki@crystyl focuses on the dark figure, "Final Judgement? What are you even talking about?! I've been through enough because of this one's mess, I deserve some context dammit!" Nikki@crystyl:"Continuum... Q?" Keliaya@anncaris | The figure simply waves her hand... Keliaya@anncaris | Rogue Regulator: "I'm sorry...all I wanted was a better future...for my..." Keliaya@anncaris | The rogue disappears into a dark cloud, and Nikki finds herself grasping at some kind of smoke Nikki@crystyl 's hands naturally flail a little as the arms they grasped suddenly disappear, "Son. Of. A..." Keliaya@anncaris | Figure: "Thank you, Nikki." Nikki sees the hint of a smile beneath the figure's hood before she waves again and disappears into the same cloud herself Keliaya@anncaris | The lights flicker back to normal and the security officers rush outside only to see Nikki getting transported away... --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | Nikki materializes on a transporter pad on what seems to be the bridge of a starship, but of an unfamiliar configuration. In the middle of the room ahead, she sees Captain S'Torien in his - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - 29th century uniform talking to another man in the same uniform and also displaying captain's pips. He looks human, but on closer inspection, his face is unmistakable... Alien NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://www.giantfreakinrobot.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/lancie.jpeg Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "She is a member of this fleet and a citizen of the Union! She will be brought to us for a fair trial." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Q laughs, "A fair trial. A trial is exactly what we're giving her!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "I would hardly call your circuses fair." Nikki@crystyl looks around a little disorientated, before narrowed eyes focus on the familiar face, "...So it was you" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "No, it wasn't me, it was the one you mortals have so amusingly taken to calling the 'Witch of Wild Space.' All that...mystique really isn't my style, if you haven't noticed." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "It's the same thing. She works for you. Now I'd like to formally request custody of the-" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "She interfered with /our/ trial. She will be judged by us." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "She's one of us. The regulations state-" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "You and your rules. You really haven't changed much in the last four hundred years, have you?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Q, you will return the prisoner to us." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "Or what?" Nikki@crystyl slaps Q across the cheek. Quite hard too... Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Q recoils from the slap in his usual, extra-dramatic fashion, "Oww! You little- tell you what, I'll bring up returning her to Union custody as an option, and if that's the judgement the - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - Continuum settles on, we'll bring her to you. But if the rest of the Continuum decides on a harsher punishment, my hands are tied." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Really? I thought you were supposed to be omnipotent." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Q scowls, "You still have much to learn, Captain." He snaps his fingers and disappears in a flash Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien sighs, "The Admirals are going to /love/ this..." Nikki@crystyl sighs, "And I /still/ don't have any context about all this stuff people keep talking about..." Nikki@crystyl apparently slapped Q because of that, not to bend him to S'Torien's will after all... Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "I'm afraid I can't fill you in on everything. It involves details you haven't learned yet, you understand. Suffice it to say that 'Witch,' as you know her, was listening in to our - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - comms and the Continuum decided to intervene, which meant cutting us out of the case. You did your job well, Subcommander. You located the infiltrator and saved your ship." Nikki@crystyl:"Your Temporal Prime Directive might mean you can't tell about things I heard discussed like this 'Darkness' or your Union. But it damned well doesn't stop you explaining to me why the Q Continuum - Nikki@crystyl:- is talking about our mission to stop the Horde as one of their little trial games" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Why do you think Q was taking an interest in your ship beforehand? They were always taking it as one of their little trial games." Nikki@crystyl:"They... seriously?" frowns, rubbing her temple, "To think, I could have been happily settled on New Romulus at the hunting lodge right now..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Q's right about one thing, our dislike of dealing with them definitely hasn't changed in the last few centuries. Anyways, your crew are going to have questions. Try to tell them as - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- little as you're able, but I know what COs can be like," he smirks. "You're welcome to mix in a little of the truth, as much as needed to deter her from looking into this further. After all, the - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- best lies are interwoven with strand of truth." Nikki@crystyl:"I know perfectly well how to tell a story. But you clearly do not know Keelah" Nikki@crystyl:"And what am I supposed to say to the Regulators after that rogue of yours spouting all her propaganda about their demise?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "The rogue doesn't represent her people. This Supervisor and her crew have already seen the future, and they've kept that knowledge to themselves because they understand the dangers - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- of altering the timeline. They won't be impacted by this any more than by what they've already witnessed. They're some of the best the Administration has to offer." Nikki@crystyl:"And that raises a good point. I mean sure, we didn't get destroyed now. But the timeline is still altered, right? I mean that witch-person, or whatever, appeared on the ship. Things got blown up - Nikki@crystyl:- that shouldn't have. The operator got an injury that she shouldn't have. The list goes on..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "The very act of seeking your help affects the timeline, but it's better than the alternative. The effects of this on the wider timeline are minimal enough, within acceptable - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- margins. Now that we know who the rogue is, we could go back and grab her from Vue-En, but we need the other her in order to reintegrate the two, and if Q doesn't return her-" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | The sound of a door sliding open can be heard and a Gorn in a lieutenant's uniform steps out, "Captain, sssomeone has appeared in our brig." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "The rogue?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Gorn: "Yesss, but..." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Go on, Lieutenant." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Gorn: "She isss an Epohh. Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien facepalms, "Great. Just great." Nikki@crystyl snorts, unable to contain her reaction Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "At least this means we'll be able to grab the other her. T'Shina, give Vue-En the go-ahead." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | A Vulcan on the bridge taps her console, "On it, sir." Nikki@crystyl:"Well Captain, you appear to have your work cut out here. And I have much less amenable Vulcan waiting for me back in my time. Likely tapping her foot impatiently. With folded arms. And scowling, - Nikki@crystyl:- definitely scowling" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien smiles, "Actually, by grabbing her from Vue-En before she can do anything, we can tie up all the loose ends. The only one who'll remember anything is you, but you don't have enough - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- context on what little you've heard so I'm not going to have your memory resequenced. I understand how much our people dislike having our minds tampered with, after all." Nikki@crystyl frowns a little at the suggestion, "Yes... it would be a shame for us to fall out after everything..." Nikki@crystyl:"But, seriously? I'll just pop back and it will be like nothing ever happened? Well that's... quite the damp fizzle out" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "You'll still remember, but everything else will be as it should be. It's the cleanest way to do this now that we have the other her back." Nikki@crystyl:"I know you are correct. But that doesn't shake the feeling that it was all now for nothing, in a way" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "You can be assured that it wasn't for nothing. Without what you've done, you and your ship will be gone, and the timeline will be very different. You won't get the glory for saving - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- everyone, but that's the nature of our work. There's a reason not many Klingons like to serve on timeships." He grins Nikki@crystyl:"And a reason why Romulan's do. I am no stranger to the path of the unsung hero, Captain. I am more... disappointed, that I can not further explore of the impact of these revelations with anyone" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Everything you've heard about will make sense within your lifetime, but that's all I can tell you. You'll just have to be patient for now. Focus on your present, you've got a lot on - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- your hands already. Don't worry about the future. Let us take care of that." Nikki@crystyl eyerolls playfully, "You should make that your motto" heading back to the transporter pad Alien NPC@annpc#557 | T'Shina: "We've received word from Vue-En. They have the rogue." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "Good. Let's bring the Subcommander back to her time, shall we?" He steps up to the pad, "It's been a pleasure working with you, Nikki." Nikki@crystyl:"Just tell me one thing Captain; is this the last I will see of you?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien: "I don't know. This is the first time I've met you, and we don't look into our own futures unless it can't be helped. But knowing yours...it's likely we'll meet again." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | S'Torien smiles as the transporter energizes Nikki@crystyl is not impressed Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Nikki reappears on her own quarters on the Valley Forge Nikki@crystyl looks around to find she is indeed back in her quarters, muttering to herself, "After that little stunt Captain, you should hope not..." --- Alien NPC@annpc#557 | In the Valley Forge's conference room... Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "...we're trained to activate many of our suits' functions with hand gestures, though I don't know if I can find anyone among my crew with your Ensign's tactical acumen." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah: "Ensign Tierno has been actively running a set simulation for development of the new system. If anyone wishes to test the current installation, we will be using those simulations as a - Alien NPC@annpc#557 - baseline for aptitude." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Lexi grins from the cover, "Starfleet actively developing means of kicking ass with scientific precision. Never thought I'd live to see the day. And that's the worm talking!" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "I'll see if anyone in my crew is up for helping, and we can run them through your simulations." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | This time, there is no red alert or interruption from Vrolmacht Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Excellent. And if anyone else feels they have potential candidates then by all means send them over as well" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "I'll be sure to send you anyone who might be suitable for the task." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Celestina: "So once our vanguard arrives at the Foundry and secures our position, where should we go from there?" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kayd looks to Keelah, "Starfleet's fought in dyson spheres before. Your people know the tactics of it better than any of us here." Keelah@crystyl:"True, though how comparable the enemy here is may be limited. What we experienced previously was akin to trench warfare" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods, "And the Horde don't use tactics most armies would. Not to mention they're less predictable than ever now with their new leader." Keelah@crystyl:"Once we establish our beach head, I would expect a steady push on our defenses following an initial attempt at a counterstrike. The Architect will want to buy himself time to fortify his position" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Celestina: "We'll have to make sure our defenses are strong enough to hold out, even divided among the four Foundries." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kayan: "I suggest we conduct offensive surgical strikes when we can. Nothing too risky, but something to show the Architect that we can hit back, so he doesn't send too many of his force to - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- push back and keep enough on the defensive to protect himself." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed. Hopefully the infiltration team will have details on suitable targets" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Kayan: "Speaking of the infiltration team, what about the other ship of yours? Will they enter the Sphere with us, or keep monitoring outside?" Keelah@crystyl:"I believe they will be best suited to monitor things from outside. Though truthfully, I am not as familiar with it as I would like in these circumstances. That said, I believe it is more of an - Keelah@crystyl:- observation platform than anything else" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "That is our analysis of their vessel as well. Outside observation will be a suitable task for them." Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "So we follow you through the subspace corridor, separate into four teams to send to one Foundry each, and dig in there to prepare for any counterattack. Sounds like a plan." Keelah@crystyl:"At least so far as we can call it that" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods, "We'll have to improvise based on the situation we find in the Sphere. Not much we can do to help that, but your team on the inside getting us intel is a great asset already." Keelah@crystyl:"Whatever we find when we get in there, expediency must be our goal. The longer it takes us to reach the Architect, the more likely he will find a way out" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods, "Agreed, but we also can't take the Architect out of the picture until we have the Horde under control. Without him tying them down to the Sphere, they might decide to leave, - Alien NPC@annpc#557:- maybe through the subspace corridors or by activating the Sphere's gateways. And if we can't contain them, the whole galaxy's good as lost." Keelah@crystyl:"The Heart of War still gives us the possibility of ending this threat. That is where the Architect is, and in using it to control the Horde he circumvents much of the sphere's other functions like - Keelah@crystyl:- the gateways" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "Do you think it may be worthwhile to activate some of these functions for ourselves, or focus on saving the Sphere's power to finish off the Horde as soon as we can?" Keelah@crystyl:"I do not believe they can be activated until his hold over the Horde is broken. But at the time they are activated - making the gateways a threat - we also by proxy have the Heart of War back and - Keelah@crystyl:- ready to use" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor nods, "Excellent. Let's take control of the Sphere back from him as soon as we are able, then." Keelah@crystyl:"If there is nothing more for now then, I suggest we prepare our ships to depart" Alien NPC@annpc#557 | Celestina: "I think that's all. We'll work out which specific vessel is assigned to each lead ship once we have someone to take control in your command centre in your Ensign's absence." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Very well then, let us get to work" she stands --- NPC@annpc#557 | The next day, T'Pia is running simulations to test for aptitude for the CIC NPC@annpc#557 | The first one to try was a typical Regulator Operator, who did extremely well at manipulating the interface, but achieved only mediocre scores in terms of tactical aptitude NPC@annpc#557 | He gives T'Pia a nod as he steps out, leaving her to reset the program for the next person T'Pia@crystyl gets to work, looking to Vrolmacht who would observing with her for the aptitude, "It is a shame. The Regulators have a natural aptitude for lateral thinking. But nobody so far seems able to - T'Pia@crystyl - view a battlefield the same way Rianni does. Is that because of her tactical training at the academy?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "And no small amount of talent either. But it appears whatever academies the Regulators attend teach less fleet tactics than Starfleet's." T'Pia@crystyl:"Well, hopefully the next one will have more luck!" she chirps optimistically NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I suppose it makes sense, given the Regulators' role. They are more like law enforcement than a defense force. There should be a few non-Regulators coming up. I wonder how they - NPC@annpc#557:- will perform." T'Pia@crystyl:"So who do we have next?" NPC@annpc#557 | Before Vrolmacht can answer, the door slides open and an alien steps in. She is roughly humanoid but with backwards bending knees and a higher ankle, a rarer trait among Children species but - NPC@annpc#557 - not unheard of. Much more striking are the two large feathered wings in place of arms and the avian talons at the bottom of the legs. Her face appears more or less human however, with rounder, - NPC@annpc#557 - hawk-like eyes, and feathers of the same brown as her wings sweep down from her head where hair would normally be NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "We have Akah...sun...error of the Guardians." T'Pia@crystyl chuckles, "Error of the Guardians? Well that's a new one, Sir!" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Akasunerrah. You may just call me Aka," she chuckles as she strides into the holodeck T'Pia@crystyl turns and smiles, "That might be easier, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Issandros told me you were testing candidates for your CIC?" T'Pia@crystyl:"That's right. Do you come from a tactical background then?" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Well...yes and no. It depends on what you mean by 'background.' T'Pia@crystyl tilts her head curiously NPC@annpc#557 | Aka smiles, "Let me elaborate. I started as a dancer. I've always wanted to be a dancer when I was a hatchling, and that was what I worked towards growing up on our homeworld. I was good - NPC@annpc#557:- enough that I was selected for the Wings of Glory- an elite performance group of the SkyCorps. Of course that meant joining the SkyCorps, one of our military branches, so I received basic - NPC@annpc#557:- training, but I was still more of a dancer than a soldier." T'Pia@crystyl:"Ooh, that Wings of Glory thing sounds amazing! But yeah, sorry. Distracted" she chuckles. "Well this is the CIC as it is, do you need a walkthrough?" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka chuckles, "It was. Perhaps one day you will have the opportunity to see our dances. But yes, I would like a walkthrough. I'm not familiar with your layout, but Issandros thought I may have - NPC@annpc#557:- the tactical knowledge necessary." T'Pia@crystyl smiles and steps over to the central console, "Alright! Well this is the Coordinator station" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka follows over, "Is this where I am to stand for overseeing the entire CIC?" T'Pia@crystyl:"From here you have override controls, and a focused view which can be directed to any asset you wish at any time. In the version of this we're still building the view is projected all around you. - T'Pia@crystyl:- But here it's just the screen" she nods, turning to the back, "Around you here are the CT's - communication technicians" T'Pia@crystyl | TQ turns and gives a little wave T'Pia@crystyl waves back, "All of the CT's here have worked in the CIC during previous engagements, so you can rely on their familiarity with the processes. They serve as your voice and ears on board the bridge - T'Pia@crystyl:- of any designated coordination ship. They can relay instructions if needed, but are mostly there to communicate non-tactical updates such as engineering conditions or system failures, as the - T'Pia@crystyl:- system won't necessarily be aware of those" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka nods, "So this system is exclusively for coordinating ship positions and movements?" T'Pia@crystyl:"In essence. It is for coordinating large numbers of ships in combat, which can include combat instructions as well as maneuvering. There is no direct control, only guidance. Every ship still has - T'Pia@crystyl:- it's CO and crew, who are simply given 'recommended actions'. We do not presume to order experienced officers on what to do with the ship's that they know better than us" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "This is more for viewing the battlefield as a whole and making suggestions based on that, then?" T'Pia@crystyl smiles, "Yes exactly that! The reason we brought it back was because bridge tactical officers like Rianni - and Commander Vrolmacht there - found themselves facing added difficulty when having - T'Pia@crystyl:- to try and help coordinate entire battle groups whilst also running the tactical deployment of this ship. Separating out the CIC like this, one officer is able to keep back from the chaos of the - T'Pia@crystyl:- bridge and maintain a more balanced overview of the bigger picture. To see things at a map wide level, that one may not see from a tactical console. Even when looking at the same data!" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "I can certainly see why this is useful. I heard there was something special about how to coordinate things as well, not just the use of a traditional console?" T'Pia@crystyl | TP smiles and nods, tapping to call up a demo display, "The display offers some key information about the asset, such as shield condition and weapon status. The dashed line there shows their - T'Pia@crystyl:- current course and heading. Now-" she reaches out with one hand, tapping at a holo-icon of the ship in front of her. Then sweeps her hand through the air to project a new heading. A second line - T'Pia@crystyl:- appears showing the offered heading, "Gesture control eliminates the time delay of verbal communication. This heading is presented to the target ship, and you can see here when they adjust to" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Yes, very efficient indeed. I assume this was why many Regulators came here to try the simulation?" T'Pia@crystyl:"I think so! But unfortunately, none of them have shown the degree of tactical acumen that is required here. Despite being perfectly adept with the interaction and coordination, they simply do not - T'Pia@crystyl:- have the experience and insight to be able to effectively use the tool that this is. That is why we are conducting these simulation 'try outs', as Rianni and I have done a heap of work testing the- T'Pia@crystyl:- new version, so I have loads of data from her simulations that we can use as a benchmark" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "I am no Dromyth, but I am curious to see how I perform. Is there anything else I should know before we begin this try out?" T'Pia@crystyl nods, pointing out the few red shirts either side of the room, "These are your tactical analysts. They are each monitoring a separate battle group much like the CT's, however your analysts are - T'Pia@crystyl:- constantly assisting you in the coordination; updating ship status and such. They have the same control as you, and serve as the primary means of coordination. Your personal controls are there - T'Pia@crystyl:- more for expedient override. Feel free to familiarize yourself with the functionality before we look at the simulation too!" she steps clear NPC@annpc#557 | Aka steps in, raising one of her wings to move several of the ships around, observing as the second line appears T'Pia@crystyl | The vessel soon adjusts it's heading and moves to follow NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "A very smooth interface. I think I can get used to this." T'Pia@crystyl:"Do you want to try the simulation?" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka nods, "Let us begin." T'Pia@crystyl:"This is a setup taken from an actual battle Starfleet participated in some years ago. It went down in history as one of Starfleet's most dramatic defeats as hundreds of starships fell to a single - T'Pia@crystyl:- Borg cube. We call it the battle of Wolf-359. Rianni is determined to prove a successful victory for the allied forces here by this method, but has not yet been successful" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "I do not know if I can do better than your entire fleet and your famous tactician, but I will do my best." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Beginning simulation now." T'Pia@crystyl smiles, "Don't worry, just do what feels right!" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka looks up at the screen as the ships change and rearrange themselves to the defense force at Wolf 359 T'Pia@crystyl steps back to her console at the rear to monitor the system NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "A single ship...interesting." NPC@annpc#557 | As the Borg cube begins to come into view, she sweeps a wing across the screen and two of the Starfleet ships move in to intercept NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht looks to TP, speaking quietly, "That is exactly what Admiral Hanson did. It did not prove to be an effective strategy for the battle, but she is thinking like a Starfleet commander." T'Pia@crystyl nods, "A typical approach to an unknown aggressor is not a bad thing" T'Pia@crystyl meanwhile the TAs & CTs chatter away with updates and so on, constantly tweaking and adjusting the information at hand NPC@annpc#557 | Unsurprisingly, the two ships are taken out by the Borg cube in moments, though Aka seems a little surprised by this, "A powerful adversary indeed. Or maybe your ships were not powerful - NPC@annpc#557 - enough at the time." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "It was a little of both." T'Pia@crystyl:"Think; Horde with Iconian technology, before you've ever seen or heard of either. That is the Borg in Starfleet's eyes during this engagement" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka begins sweeping both of her wings in almost grand, graceful gestures, a completely different sight from when Rianni is operating the CIC. Her wings block out almost all of Pia and - NPC@annpc#557 - Vrolmacht's view, and they're forced to change positions to get a better look. They notice that she is sweeping the ships to move to both sides of the cube, giving it an almost clear line - NPC@annpc#557 - through Wolf 359 with the fleet on both sides T'Pia@crystyl watches curiously NPC@annpc#557 | As expected, the Borg single-mindedly continues advancing, ignoring the fleet as it doesn't engage them NPC@annpc#557 | Aka reroutes two more ships to engage the cube from behind, but the cube doesn't even slow down, forcing the two ships to pursue and fire before they are caught in tractor beams and dispatched - NPC@annpc#557 - one after the other NPC@annpc#557 | She watches, then begins sweeping both wings in graceful motions again, sending the fleet to close in en masse on both sides of the cube NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "She has decided to use the approach adopted in the much later and more successful battle during the second Borg incursion. She is very flexible with her strategies." T'Pia@crystyl:"It is an impressive display. She does appear phased at all by the overwhelming circumstances. That is also favourable I think?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "Perhaps it is because the Guardians face such circumstances quite often." T'Pia@crystyl:"Ooh yeah, that makes sense!" NPC@annpc#557 | The ships put up much more of a fight en masse and actually manage to slow and damage the cube, but eventually, despite Aka's coordination, the fleet is wiped out and though damaged, the cube - NPC@annpc#557 - is intact enough to continue on its way to Sol, regenerating in the process NPC@annpc#557 | Aka turns to Pia and Vrolmacht, "This is a powerful enemy. It clearly has a destination. I assume you know where its target was?" T'Pia@crystyl:"A planet called Earth. Home of the Humans, and heart of the Federation" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Is Earth a part of this simulation?" T'Pia@crystyl shakes her head, "No, this simulation is just the Wolf-359 engagement" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka thinks, "Then the only way to victory is the strategy you employed at Terminu. Your ships do not have the firepower to stop this foe." T'Pia@crystyl:"That is why we use it to test the CIC" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Because the enemy is similar to the Horde in many regards?" T'Pia@crystyl:"That, and because it is a fight of overwhelming odds. Rianni has made it something of a personal challenge to find a way to 'beat' this simulation without implementing modern day knowledge that - T'Pia@crystyl:- easily neutralize a Borg cube" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "I can see why it is an interesting challenge. Conventional Guardian or even Horde tactics did not suffice against this cube due to the technological disparity between the ships I have at - NPC@annpc#557:- my command and the Borg. You need a strategy that is very much outside the box...or cube, as it were," she smirks T'Pia@crystyl chuckles, "That is probably why tacticians love obsessing over this battle!" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Do these Borg have the ability to control others like the Horde?" T'Pia@crystyl:"Not in the same way. They are cybernetic lifeforms who assimilate others into their Collective. Once assimilated, a person loses all sense of self and becomes another mindless drone" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "But they cannot influence minds from a distance like the Horde. In order to assimilate someone or something, their nanites must come into contact first." NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Perhaps it may be more doable with the knowledge of the time by using the defenses around Earth. The cost of failure will be much higher so I understand why it was not used, but the - NPC@annpc#557:- chances of success would also be considerably greater with other assets on hand." T'Pia@crystyl:"Possible, though the actual hard defenses of that planet were surprisingly minimal at that time. Earth relied heavily on Starfleet, so when the fleet fell that was it" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Did it have any space stations?" T'Pia@crystyl nods, "Some, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Earth Spacedock at the time would not have possessed the firepower to stop a Borg cube." NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "But what was its size?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I do not know the exact specifications, but it was large enough for several Starfleet vessels of the time to dock within." T'Pia@crystyl:"Launching ESD into the cube may have halted it's progress, but Borg technology - if not survivors - would have entered the atmosphere and proceeded with the assimilation of Earth" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka nods, "I do not suppose you had enough time to evacuate Earth?" T'Pia@crystyl shakes her head, "Not even enough to evacuate ESD alone. The simulation you saw was all the defense that could be mustered in the time Starfleet had to prepare" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "It is no surprise this was one of your greatest defeats. You did not have enough time to prepare for battle or retreat. The winds were blowing against you, as my people say." T'Pia@crystyl:"That they were. You know, if you're interested in learning more about all of this stuff I'd be happy to help. It's all part of my training anyway so not exactly out of the way!" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka smiles, "I would certainly be interested in learning more." T'Pia@crystyl:"You could check out the new version of this CIC we're developing too! See the improvements we've already got planned" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "It is already an impressive interface. I am curious to see what you plan to evolve it into." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "You did well in the simulation. Your movements were almost as fluid as the Regulators, but demonstrated significantly improved tactical judgement. Certainly the closest to Ensign - NPC@annpc#557:- Tierno's record so far." NPC@annpc#557 | Aka smiles, "I would like to see your Ensign at work here when she returns." T'Pia@crystyl smiles, "She does put on a good show. Trust me, I've seen it more than most!" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "I shall look forward to seeing it, then, and I will be most interested to learn more from you as well. Issandros always encourages us to learn from other sources and incorporate it into - NPC@annpc#557:- our own strategies and tactics. That's one of the things the diversity within the Guardians and the different people we encounter promotes, after all." T'Pia@crystyl:"Then perhaps it would be fruitful to study engagements from the Iconian War. Given our imminent destination" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka nods, "A good idea. I've only heard of the return of the Iconians through other Guardians. It would be interesting to see how they operated, and how you fought against them." T'Pia@crystyl:"Well, unless there's any more simulations to run today then I'm free whenever suits you! My professor is kind of busy on the sphere at the moment so... not so much classroom work!" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "I do not believe we have anyone else lined up for the day." NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "Let's go, then. Your teacher is on the Sphere? Are they a Commander as well, like Issandros?" T'Pia@crystyl:"Then I'm all yours Aka!" suddenly turns to Vrolmacht, "I mean... with your permission, Sir" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht grins and nods, "By all means, Cadet." T'Pia@crystyl smiles, "Thank you Sir!" looking back to Aka as she leads the way out, "And no actually, my Professor is an artificial lifeform - Mia" NPC@annpc#557 | Aka: "I think I've heard of her..."