The Latenter investigates the disappearance of a Ranger ship which was searching for potential new allies in the form of a mysterious group attacking Horde space. However, the enemy of your enemy may not always be your friend...
NPC@annpc#557 | The Coalition leaders gather for the next Coalition meeting... NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "Excellent work stopping the Architect's experiments with genetic augmentation using mycelial spores. If his experiments had succeeded, they would not have only been a major threat - NPC@annpc#557 - for us, but experimentation with the mycelial plane is inherently dangerous due to its vital function in the fabric of reality." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Agreed, the assault team did an admirable job there. Fortunately so, as the Architect had already progressed his research far enough to breed thralls who posed a significant threat" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "Hopefully with the facility gone, he won't be able to make any more of those. The destruction of the facility hasn't impacted Sphere systems too much, has it?" NPC@annpc#557 | Unwavering Defender: "The central Genetic Archives contains a copy of all data collected by the facility. The loss of the facility itself is merely the loss of the holding system for - NPC@annpc#557:- particularly dangerous lifeforms, hardware that can be replaced once the conflict here is resolved." NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods, "That's good to hear. The final group of reinforcements, including Trinity Alliance forces, should be arriving here in a week. With these forces, we should be prepared to close - NPC@annpc#557:- in on the centre of the Sphere and oust the Architect permanently." Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, we have shut down a number of his campaigns at this point. But that just means that he will become increasingly desperate and unpredictable. We should move for a swift end" NPC@annpc#557 | Celestina nods, "Agreed. This recent hunt for the thunderbolt and now experimentation with enhanced thralls, the Architect's doing everything he can to bolster his strength." NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "Guardian-Commander?" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Hm?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "You've got something to say." NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Since when can you read minds, Vora?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "I don't have to. I've worked with- and against- plenty of Klingons in my time. You might not be raised and trained like one, but you've still got all the tells." NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Remind me to be wary around her," he sits forward with a chuckle. "There's a chance we might get additional support." Keelah@crystyl perks a brow NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "Have more Guardian cells finally responded?" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "No- the other Guardian cells are busy keeping the Horde preoccupied elsewhere so they can't bring more reinforcements here. They're not sitting idle all this time, you know. But it - NPC@annpc#557 - seems they might not be the only ones." NPC@annpc#557 | Celestina: "Who else would be out there?" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "That's the thing- we don't know. Whoever it is has got the ability to resist control and actually fight back, but they're not Guardians. And far as I'm aware none of us here have - NPC@annpc#557 - sent a fleet pushing into Horde space. At first we thought it was the Kratt," he looks to Keelah. "And your information on the fighting between Kratt and the Horde during their search for the - NPC@annpc#557 - thunderbolt seemed to have all but confirmed it at the time." Keelah@crystyl:"But now you have reason to believe otherwise" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods, "We don't know the extent of Kratt-controlled space, but ever since the search concluded, the Horde haven't gone near Kratt space, and as far as the Rangers and their intel - NPC@annpc#557:- can say, no Kratt fleet's been seen coming out of that region either. And on top of that, whoever's fighting the Horde leaves behind very little debris to examine. The Kratt are known to collect - NPC@annpc#557:- their own derelicts and debris, which would explain why we never found any Kratt debris at the site of those battles, but they don't usually bother salvaging enemy debris unless there's something - NPC@annpc#557:- particularly valuable, and the average Horde ship's not that special. These people, they take almost everything. Strip the battlefields clean." Keelah@crystyl:"Curious. Does this fit any known patterns from other species in the region?" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "None that we're aware of. A few days ago, a Ranger vessel finally found a trail to follow and attempted to investigate the source of these mysterious attacks on the Horde, but we - NPC@annpc#557:- lost contact with them yesterday. Either they've been cut off, or they're dead. Their last communication reports that they match no civilization known to us- the Guardians collectively that is." NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Unfortunately, it wasn't a...traditional subspace communication and we don't have any solid data to present. Only vague impressions and memories." Keelah@crystyl:"This does sound like something worth investigating, as a potential threat to us if not a hopeful ally" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods, tapping on the table to present a point on a map of Horde space, "Agreed. What we do have are the last known coordinates of the Ranger ship shortly before contact was lost, and - NPC@annpc#557 - the path of the trail it was following. Best send a ship through a wormhole and start from there." Keelah@crystyl:"So who goes?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "It'll be going into Horde space- Horde space that these mystery attackers have cleared out, but still close to territory they control. I'm not sure how much the Rangers' cloak helped - NPC@annpc#557:- them but I'd still suggest something with a cloak. Latenter could be a good choice- they specialize in gathering intel, after all. If these people are hostile to us, well, their efforts seem - NPC@annpc#557:- focused on the Horde for now, so I say we let them fight it out. In any case, the scouting party isn't going to be expected to destroy them." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Alright then, we'll send the Latenter" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "I recommend taking a Guardian with you- we're familiar with the peoples of the region, and if the Rangers are found alive but disconnected somehow from the rest of us, well, they - NPC@annpc#557:- might need help from one of our own." Keelah@crystyl:"I will make the recommendation to Commander Leveson-Scott. Are there any further recommendations for the mission?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora shakes her head, "I think your people are among some of the best suited here for first contact and dealing with the unexpected. Even if they're not quite yours, they're still Starfleet." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Very well then, is there any other business before we conclude here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Everyone across the table shakes their head or remains silent and Vora replies, "Not at the moment, it seems. Once the final reinforcements get here, we'll have plenty of planning to do." Keelah@crystyl nods and stands, "Then do excuse me, we have a mission to launch" --- Mana@anncaris | As the Latenter prepares for her mission, T'Lana arrives on the bridge with their Guardian guest, a familiar sight to the audience though not so much to Mischa Mischa@crystyl peers over with a somewhat scrutinizing glance Mana@anncaris | T'Lana: "This is Lorekeeper Idate of the Light of Arindol. She has worked with crewmembers of the Valley Forge previously, most notably during their evacuation and shielding of the pre-warp - Mana@anncaris - civilization between Lodzki and Colonial space, which is why she has been assigned to this mission now." Mischa@crystyl:"Welcome aboard, Lorekeeper" Mana@anncaris | Idate holds her helmet under one arm and gives Mischa a nod as she is introduced, "Thank you, Commander. I will try to stay out of your crew's way as they work, and provide information as - Mana@anncaris - applicable. You're aware of the World Tree and our connection with it by now, I assume?" Mischa@crystyl nods, "Of course" Mana@anncaris | Idate: "I specialize in keeping the lore of our people, and by extension, the Guardians, as the two have been closely intertwined for a long time. Naturally, I'm familiar with a number of - Mana@anncaris - civilizations both past and present that have fought the Horde or been consumed by them. But if there are any gaps in my knowledge, my connection to the World Tree allows me to access the full - Mana@anncaris - knowledge collected by the Guardians over our existence." Mischa@crystyl:"The mission brief alluded to the fact that your Rangers' report did not travel by traditional means. Does that mean it was passed through this connection?" Mana@anncaris | Idate nods, "That's correct. I can access the World Tree's memory of it, if you would like additional information." Mischa@crystyl smiles slightly, "I always like additional information" Mana@anncaris | Idate smiles back, "I thought you would," she closes her eyes. "It was transmitted by the Ranger-Captain when she realized that her vessel was in danger. Regrettably, she did not have access - Mana@anncaris - to the technical readouts of the vessel. All we have is...ship of unfamiliar configuration. Spherical design. Dropped cloak to attempt communications. Ranger vessel held in place. Shields - Mana@anncaris - failing. Systems failing. That's the extent of the memory. The Ranger ship was most likely destroyed afterwards." Mischa@crystyl:"Spherical design... do you have records of any species native to this region using spherical designs?" Mana@anncaris | Idate: "Sukos-Mon, consumed by the Horde four thousand years ago. Survivors integrated into the Guardians. Cunehaston. Consumed by the Horde nine thousand years ago. No known survivors. - Mana@anncaris:- Fulcor, moderate sized spacefaring civilization, no known connection to the Horde. And of course there are the Iconians, but what the Rangers encountered was definitely not Iconian." Mischa@crystyl:"Oh? How are you so certain of that?" Mana@anncaris | Idate opens her eyes, "The Rangers would recognize Iconian technology. We've come across a number of Iconian ruins even before your people found the Heart of War, so we're familiar with how - Mana@anncaris - their technology appears on sensors. And the only known Iconian spherical constructs are either smaller than what was encountered, in the form of probes, or much larger in the form of - Mana@anncaris:- the Heart of War. It's possible this is a new creation by the modern Iconians you know of, but I don't think the technology would read as this unrecognizable." Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed. From our interactions with them, their technology still bears the same hallmarks. What about Borg or Spherebuilder technology, would your Rangers recognize those?" Mana@anncaris | Idate closes her eyes again before shaking her head, "No. The World Tree has no knowledge on any civilizations by the name of Borg or Spherebuilder employing spherical vessels." Mischa@crystyl hrms, "The act of completely dismantling a battlefield would align with the Borg, and their own hive mind would likely present a natural immunity to influence. Be it Collective or Cooperative, - Mischa@crystyl:- could greatly vary the outcome of an encounter. The Spherebuilders are from a different dimensional plane and have not been seen as active in this galaxy for centuries. But as the name suggests, - Mischa@crystyl:- also meet the criteria for what your Rangers witnessed. Lana, any further thoughts?" Mana@anncaris | T'Lana: "Both do match the criteria, however, there is no known motivation for either to seek conflict with the Horde. That is not to say they are not possibilities- they may possess some - Mana@anncaris:- motive we are not yet aware of. Conversely, one of the species mentioned by Idate may have rebuilt from the Horde's attack on their territories somewhere out of the knowledge of the Guardians and - Mana@anncaris:- now returned with defenses against the Horde. That would provide sufficient motivation, but there is no evidence for their survival and such a theory also relies heavily on speculation." Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed, though I would point out that the Borg don't typically need motives. The Collective would seek to assimilate them as they do, and the Cooperative would react if threatened. We are of course- Mischa@crystyl:- blind until we know more, but it may be worth arming up all of our Borg defenses just in case" Mana@anncaris | T'Fel nods, "I will have them ready, Commander." Mana@anncaris | Victoria: "The Observer's ship is ready to launch from the Valley Forge to generate the wormhole, Captain." Mischa@crystyl nods, "She may proceed" looking to Idate, "You might want to take a seat and sit back to enjoy the show for now" Mana@anncaris | Idate nods and looks around for an empty seat before stepping over to take a seat Mana@anncaris | On the viewscreen, the Observer's ship settles into position in front of the Latenter before generating the wormhole and proceeding inside to lead the way Mana@anncaris | Nethay: "We're ready to enter the wormhole, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"Take us in" Mana@anncaris | Nethay nods and taps his console as the Latenter enters the wormhole Mana@anncaris | Idate watches the wormhole view as they travel for a minute before turning to Mischa, "What else do you know about these Borg and Spherebuilder civilizations?" Mischa@crystyl leans back in her chair, "Well, not a great deal about the Spherebuilders really. Are you familiar with the phenomenon referred to as the Temporal Cold War?" Mana@anncaris | Idate shakes her head, "Not personally at least, though the World Tree might know more." Mischa@crystyl:"It is an event triggered in the distant future, or /a/ distant future to be more precise I suppose. Essentially; the galactic powers of this galaxy eventually reach the point where time travel is - Mischa@crystyl:- relatively commonplace and two factions arise with opposing opinions of how to govern the technology. The Spherebuilders reportedly attempted to manipulate Starfleet's history in order to impact - Mischa@crystyl:- future events in their favour" Mana@anncaris | Idate: "Seeing how we're closer than we've ever been to defeating the Horde, this might be a place to manipulate if someone's looking to change history." Mischa@crystyl:"True, but to the best of our knowledge they were pushed completely out of events and the Temporal Cold War concluded for all intents and purposes" Mana@anncaris | Idate: "But if the war takes place in the future, it hasn't concluded yet for us. Well, it hasn't even started, but it's possible that this is one of the events that's supposed to happen as a - Mana@anncaris:- part of this Temporal Cold War? As in these Spherebuilders might be pushed out of events in the future, but for us, we've yet to push them out of events here. If that makes any sense." Mischa@crystyl:"Possible, but unlikely. The war ended with a decisive battle which put the opposition forces out of action for good. I could pretend to quote temporal mechanics theories that align with it but... - Mischa@crystyl:- you may as well just call it 'space magic' at that point. The only real possibility for them to be involved here I think, is if the encounter we are heading towards is in the past of the temporal - Mischa@crystyl:- cold war" Mana@anncaris | Idate nods, "Maybe this could be the prelude to this cold war or something, then?" Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps. Personally, from what little else your Rangers reported I find the Borg to be the more likely of the two species we know of to use spherical ship design" Mana@anncaris | Idate: "What do you know about them?" Mischa@crystyl:"Starfleet has seen many years of direct conflict with them. In fact, many of us see similarity between them and the Horde" Mana@anncaris | Idate: "How so? We're not familiar with them, beyond a few comments we've heard from your people and the Regulators." Mischa@crystyl:"Well, they function a lot like your typical insect colony. You have your Queen, and a seemingly infinite number of drones who service her colony. They absorb all they come into contact with just - Mischa@crystyl:- the Horde do, only the Borg use nanites to forcibly alter your physiology to theirs whilst heavily augmenting the body with cybernetics. In fact..." she looks around before tapping her combadge, - Mischa@crystyl:- "Root, where are you hiding?" Mana@anncaris:<C - Root> "Am I needed on the bridge? I will proceed there immediately." Mischa@crystyl:"Please, we have a guest on board I would like for you to meet" Mana@anncaris:<C - Root> "On my way, Commander." Mana@anncaris FX | A few seconds later, the turbolift doors open and Root steps out, looking towards Idate, "Is this the guest I am to meet?" Mischa@crystyl turns back to Idate, "Over the years we have learned a great deal about the Borg and their technology. Now there are many individuals who have been liberated from the Collective, even though they - Mischa@crystyl:- often end up still carrying the mutilations of the Borg. Root here-" she turns with a smile, gesturing to the arrival, "-is one such individual. Root, this is Lorekeeper Idate and we are educating- Mischa@crystyl:- her about the Borg given the small possibility that they are behind the disappearance of the Ranger vessel we are going to investigate" Mana@anncaris | Root nods and steps over, "I will brief you on the basics of the Borg and answer any questions you may have on the subject." Mana@anncaris | Idate smiles, "Thank you." Mana@anncaris | As Root and Idate discuss the Borg, Nethay announces, "Exiting wormhole in 30 seconds, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, have the Observer ready for a prompt recovery and prepare to go dark as soon as she's locked down" Mana@anncaris | Victoria nods, "On it, Commander." Mana@anncaris | The Latenter exits from the wormhole and the Observer's ship is quickly collected before the Latenter goes dark Mana@anncaris | T'Lana: "No signs of any notable activity in the region. I suggest we continue along the trail the Rangers were following. If the Ranger vessel has been destroyed, I do not expect we will find - Mana@anncaris:- any debris given the prior pattern witnessed with these assailants." Mischa@crystyl:"Agreed. maintain maximum sensor resolution" Mana@anncaris | T'Lana nods, "Whatever trail the Rangers were on must have dissipated by now. We can follow it to the extent they were able to identify it, but from that point onwards, we will have to - Mana@anncaris:- extrapolate their course." Mana@anncaris | Idate looks back towards Mischa, "May I use your console?" Mischa@crystyl gestures to one on the side of the bridge, "By all means" Mana@anncaris | Idate steps over and taps on a console beside T'Lana's, "We're close to a known Horde factory world, and the trail the Rangers are following seems to be headed in its general direction. It may - Mana@anncaris:- be their target, seeing as they're in a conflict with the Horde." Mischa@crystyl:"It's as good a starting point as any. We'll proceed to investigate the area" Mana@anncaris | Idate nods, "Sending the coordinates to your helm." Mana@anncaris | Nethay: "Setting course now. ETA 5 hours." Mischa@crystyl:"What else can we see of interest here?" Mana@anncaris | T'Lana taps her console, "Nothing currently on sensors. The region within scanning range seems devoid of all ships and technological signatures." Mana@anncaris | Idate: "The Horde ships that weren't rerouted to reinforce the Sphere might have been taken out by our mystery attackers." Mischa@crystyl:"No latent energy signatures?" Mana@anncaris | T'Lana shakes her head, "None detectable at the moment. I will keep you up to date once we pick up anything." Mischa@crystyl:"Back to business as usual for now then" --- T'Lana@anncaris | Over four hours later, Mischa is in her ready room when the doorbell rings Mischa@crystyl:"Come in" T'Lana@anncaris steps inside with a PADD in hand, "Commander. I have updates." Mischa@crystyl turns from her spot by the window, "A new development?" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "We've picked up latent energy signatures. Faint and highly varied. I suspect the result of a battle within the last week. No signs of debris like before. There is no way to confirm our - T'Lana@anncaris - theories, but the variety of signatures does suggest the highly varied arsenals utilized by different Horde vessels." Mischa@crystyl steps over, "Anything noteworthy on our mystery Horde-killers?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Negative," she hands Mischa the PADD. "It is impossible to discern which energy signatures, if any, belong to the force opposing the Horde fleet among the different signatures." Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps we can narrow it down by eliminating any that match known Horde vessels" T'Lana@anncaris:"An excellent suggestion. I will see what results that yields," she steps over to a console in the ready room Mischa@crystyl joins her curiously T'Lana@anncaris taps on the console, "I also have a theory on why the Ranger vessel was destroyed." Mischa@crystyl smiles, "I thought you might" T'Lana@anncaris:"If this is indeed the Borg, the explanation may be fairly straightforward. In any other case however, these Horde-killers may not be hostile to the Guardians and may not respond with hostility to - T'Lana@anncaris:- us. The Guardians are composed primarily of civilizations which were consumed by the Horde. As a result, many of their ships are built with the designs and technologies of these civilizations, if - T'Lana@anncaris:- not direct remnants of the civilization's fleet. The Horde likewise take control of any ships whose crews they are able to dominate and construct new ships using the technologies they obtained - T'Lana@anncaris:- from them. Some vessels utilized by the Guardians can be completely indistinguishable from ones fielded by the Horde." Mischa@crystyl:"A reasonable hypothesis" T'Lana@anncaris:"I studied the data from the Ranger vessel we scuttled. It has a built-in contingency to suppress transponder activation when cloaked, likely to avoid sabotage. That contingency resulted in a - T'Lana@anncaris:- ten second delay between when the cloak is dropped to when the transponder can be activated. Thus, it is possible that the attackers responded so rapidly that they destroyed the Ranger vessel - T'Lana@anncaris:- without ever learning its true identity, suspecting it to be a Horde ambush." Mischa@crystyl:"An eventuality I would rather avoid" T'Lana@anncaris:"If they are indeed hostile only to the Horde, our design, composition and energy signature should be distinct enough that they should not mistake us for a Horde vessel so easily. Alternatively, we - T'Lana@anncaris:- may wish to communicate with them while still cloaked to announce ourselves first, before we reveal our location." Mischa@crystyl:"I think I would rather establish a dialogue before revealing our presence to anyone" T'Lana@anncaris:"Agreed," she taps on the console some more. "I have eliminated all energy signatures observed in Horde and Guardian vessels. There are still some variety, likely types of Horde ships we have not - T'Lana@anncaris - yet encountered. However, the majority of remaining signatures appear to be plasma energy discharges. There are not enough to have accounted for the destruction of the entire Horde force, - T'Lana@anncaris:- suggesting that it is not their only offensive measure. That is consistent with Borg armaments." Mischa@crystyl:"I don't like jumping to conclusions, but it does seem increasingly likely doesn't it" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "The plasma signature does not match any Borg plasma weapons encountered in the past perfectly, but given the Borg's penchant to adapt to any given situation, it can hardly be taken as - T'Lana@anncaris:- evidence against Borg involvement." Mischa@crystyl:"We should be finding out soon enough now" T'Lana@anncaris:"Tactical has our Borg defenses ready in the case they are indeed present." T'Lana@anncaris | Mischa's combadge sounds Mischa@crystyl taps, "Go ahead" T'Lana@anncaris <C - Victoria> "We will be arriving at the Horde factory world in five minutes, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:<C> Thank you, we'll be out momentarily Mischa@crystyl turns to TL, "Moment of truth" T'Lana@anncaris nods and makes her way out to the bridge Mischa@crystyl heads out, taking her seat, "Anything on long range?" T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "Nothing on sensors, Commanders. No power signatures, artificial constructs or lifesigns coming from the planet which should be the factory world." Mischa@crystyl:"Not sounding much like a factory world so far" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "That's unusual. It's not unheard of for the Horde to abandon worlds, but they never bother cleaning up. You won't find any power signatures but there'll still be ruined factory-cities - T'Lana@anncaris:- dotting the surface." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, sharp eyes all around on approach" T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "There is nothing at all remaining on the surface, save for...interesting." Mischa@crystyl:"There is 'interesting' down there? Curious..." she teases T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "Confirming now as we draw closer to the planet," she taps on her console for a few more seconds. "Confirmed. The craters are artificial." T'Lana@anncaris:"Approaching visual range now. Bringing one onscreen." T'Lana@anncaris FX | https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/01/22/science/22SCI-CRATERS1/22SCI-CRATERS1-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "No energy signatures. This does not appear to be an impact crater from an asteroid or a weapon. It was dug out." Mischa@crystyl:"As in physically scooped? I'll never look at a bowl of ice cream the same way again..." T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "Precisely." Mischa@crystyl:"What about the surrounding system, anything standing out there?" T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "Negative, Commander." T'Lana@anncaris:"It is not common Borg behaviour, but the Borg have been observed to do so, most notably during their initial attacks on outlying Federation colonies. I suggest dispatching a probe to the surface, - T'Lana@anncaris - I will be able to perform tests to provide more conclusive data." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Proceed" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Dispatching probe now." T'Lana@anncaris | Meanwhile, Idate opens her eyes after a period of concentration and taps on her console, "I believe the locations of the craters correspond to the locations of Horde factories when the Rangers - T'Lana@anncaris:- last scouted out this world." Mischa@crystyl:"How long after they last scouted this world did they disappear?" T'Lana@anncaris | T'Bee: "Judging by the exposure of the terrain in the craters, they were recent. As in the last few days." Mischa@crystyl:"Then if it was the Borg they should still be in the region" T'Lana@anncaris:"The probe has visual, Captain." Mischa@crystyl:"Let's see it" T'Lana@anncaris | The viewscreen shifts to a much more close up view of the crater: https://i.imgur.com/GJR7N6g.jpg T'Lana@anncaris:"Performing soil test now." T'Lana@anncaris announces after a minute, "I have confirmation, Commander. The magnetic resonance traces detected in the soil is a 100% match for the traces left behind by a Borg cutting beam." Mischa@crystyl leans back, lips pursed with contemplation, "Well... bugger" T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "This is not a complication we need right now..." Mischa@crystyl:"Even the Collective have proven amenable to uniting against a common threat in the past. Besides, I want to know what they're doing all the way out here" T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "I have contact on long-range sensors. Three cubes, nine spheres and a dozen other smaller signatures, likely probes or assimilated vessels. They are heading towards the system from - T'Lana@anncaris - further rimwards." Mischa@crystyl:"Heading back here? But why, they've already assimilated everything..." T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "I believe I have the answer, Commander. Horde signatures have just appeared at extreme sensor range. Fifty...seventy...eighty...ninety-one total in pursuit of the Borg vessels." Mischa@crystyl 's eyes widen slightly, "The Borg are... running?" T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "It would appear so." T'Lana@anncaris | Hassan: "I'm sure if you ask them, they'd insist it was a tactical retreat." Mischa@crystyl:"Could it be the Cooperative instead? They have a more vested interest in self-preservation" T'Lana@anncaris:"It is a possibility, though I find it unlikely that the Cooperative would deploy such a large force this far out. If they had indeed become aware of the Horde threat, it will likely be from allied - T'Lana@anncaris:- forces in the Delta Quadrant, and they would most likely send a smaller force to collaborate with the Coalition. Waging their own front against the Horde would be illogical." Mischa@crystyl hrms, "Well I don't much fancy getting stuck in between those two fleets. But we also can't just ignore this situation. Recommendations?" T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "I suggest we maintain stealth but make contact with the Borg when they come into communications range. The Collective doesn't usually flee, but they have been observed to do so in - T'Lana@anncaris:- the face of overwhelming odds, usually in struggles against the Undine. And in such cases as recorded by the Voyager, they will ignore targets they'd otherwise attempt to assimilate as seen in - T'Lana@anncaris:- their encounters with the Borg during their conflict with the Undine." T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I agree. The Borg, Collective or Cooperative, are unlikely to engage us under present circumstances." Mischa@crystyl:"Sounds reasonable. But simply announcing ourselves to the Borg will do nothing to help the situation unless we can present a means to turn the tide of this conflict" T'Lana@anncaris:"Our vessel can do little to that end. We may be able to call on the Coalition to bring through additional support through the wormholes, but if these are Collective forces, we have no guarantee - T'Lana@anncaris:- they will not attempt to assimilate us as soon as the immediate danger has passed." T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "The Borg seem to be outpacing their pursuers easily. Perhaps intervention may not be required, though if they retreat too far corewards, that will present a different problem should - T'Lana@anncaris:- they turn their attention to non-Horde residents of the region." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. Perhaps it will suffice to use this opportunity to open a dialogue with them regarding the greater Horde threat" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I recommend opening a dialogue first before deciding on whether to support or sabotage these Borg forces." Mischa@crystyl:"My thoughts exactly. Alright, open a channel once they're in range and make sure to position us well clear of their path, just in case" T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay nods, "Aye Commander. Repositioning us now." --- T'Lana@anncaris | A short while later, Victoria announces, "Borg ships entering communications range now." Mischa@crystyl takes a deep breath, "Well, here's for something new" T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Ready to open comm channel on your mark." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Do it" T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria taps her console, "Channel open, Commander. You are now broadcasting to the Borg." Mischa@crystyl:"Attention Borg. We are Starfleet. Resistance... seems to a lot less futile than you would normally suggest" T'Lana@anncaris | Borg: "Starfleet vessel. Identify your ship name and registry." Mischa@crystyl:"No. Not nice being in the dark is it? Being pursued relentlessly by a more powerful adversary than you" T'Lana@anncaris | Borg: "We are not in the dark. Our sensors do not register your presence, but your signal indicates you are nearby. The Valley Forge would not possess cloaking capabilities. You are the - T'Lana@anncaris - starship Latenter, registry NCC-93021." T'Lana@anncaris raises a brow Mischa@crystyl:"That is quite the assumption. But our identity is irrelevant, I am more interested in why you are running away from that Horde fleet. Why do you resist?" T'Lana@anncaris | Borg: "Matching the Horde with numbers in their own territory is futile. We adapted." Mischa@crystyl:"Sure looks like resistance to me, and you're not doing to well at it either" T'Lana@anncaris | Borg: "We seek to strike targets of opportunity and fall back. Total assimilation of the Horde is beyond our capabilities at this time." T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "It sounds like they've adopted our approach for dealing with the Horde. Hit-and-run rather than sustained warfare, except they hit significantly harder..." Mischa@crystyl:"Beyond your capabilities?" she mocks, "Then what is the purpose in your tactic. This strategy serves to protect against an aggressor. If all you do is strike targets of opportunity to hurt the - Mischa@crystyl:- Horde you will never gain any more advantage than you have now" T'Lana@anncaris | Borg: "The Horde is a threat to all life in this galaxy. We seek to protect you while you complete your plans to eliminate the Horde. The Collective has determined this as the course of action - T'Lana@anncaris:- with the greatest possibility of success. Your survival is our survival." Mischa@crystyl:"And since when is that the way of the Borg?" T'Lana@anncaris | Borg: "Follow our vessels. All will be explained. It is inadvisable for us to remain here when the Horde arrives." Mischa@crystyl:"Very well, we will do so" T'Lana@anncaris | T'Fel: "The Borg vessels are continuing their course." Mischa@crystyl:"Follow on a parallel course, maintain distance though" T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay nods, "Aye Commander. Following the Borg on a parallel course." T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "Well these Borg are certainly acting unusually. How do they know the Latenter is out here?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Perhaps there has been a recent Borg advance we were not aware of. They may have assimilated Federation ships and flag officers with knowledge of the Horde and our mission." Mischa@crystyl:"To know of our presence would suggest assimilation of ranked Intelligence personnel, which I find highly doubtful" T'Lana@anncaris:"I admit, it is an unlikely theory. Information within SFI should be suitably compartmentalized that assimilation of an Intelligence vessel in the Delta Quadrant, where one has the highest chances - T'Lana@anncaris:- of being assimilated, should not reveal our presence to the Borg." T'Lana@anncaris:"However, I am unable to formulate any superior theory at the moment." Mischa@crystyl:"Could they have assimilated the Rangers who came out here?" T'Lana@anncaris:"That is also a possibility, though we have never revealed ourselves to any Rangers directly and I doubt they will have information such as our registry. The only way the Borg may have accessed - T'Lana@anncaris:- that information through the Rangers is if they have obtained some connection to the World Tree through them." T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "That's impossible. We would know about it. They may have assimilated the Rangers themselves, but they must've cut off their connection to the World Tree in the process if they did." Mischa@crystyl:"We shouldn't rule out any possibility just yet. Clearly they came out here to fight the Horde for a reason, which suggests their incentive was set before meeting your Rangers, but still" T'Lana@anncaris:"Indeed. The Ranger theory also does not explain their motivation for coming to combat the Horde." T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria: "I suppose we'll just have to wait for the Borg to explain it to us. Hopefully in a conventional way, and not by assimilating us." Mischa@crystyl:"We may not have the Valley Forge's nice armour shell, but we are more than capable of resisting them if they try" --- NPC@annpc#557 | After a few hours pass as they follow the Borg, Root suddenly announces, "I am sensing the presence of additional Borg in the region." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "Are they luring us into a trap?" Mischa@crystyl:"I do not think the Borg would feel it necessary to lure us into greater numbers given the size of this armada" NPC@annpc#557 | Root: "They may be luring the pursuing Horde into a trap, or simply attempting to dissuade them from following." Mischa@crystyl:"Either way, keep us well clear of any vessel's range for now. Just as long as we're in communications range that will be fine" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Bee: "I am picking up the other Borg on long-range sensors." NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "Forty-seven vessels of varying sizes and power levels, all centred around a station or massive ship. Not large enough to be a unimatrix, but sizable in scale. Over eight kilometres - NPC@annpc#557 - in length, roughly cylindrical in shape. A Borg command ship." Mischa@crystyl:"Could they be trying to establish a new unimatrix here?" she looks to Root NPC@annpc#557 | Root: "If the Collective wished to establish a unimatrix for the assimilation of the Horde, they would do so outside of Horde space and begin incursions into their territory from there. I - NPC@annpc#557 - believe the mobile command platform is being used precisely as its name suggests. However, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they are also establishing a unimatrix further - NPC@annpc#557 - coreward from here while assimilating Horde thralls and technology to support its construction." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Fel: "The Horde fleet are breaking pursuit and turning back." Mischa@crystyl:"I don't blame them" NPC@annpc#557 | A few minutes later, Nethay announces, "Approaching the Borg armada now." Mischa@crystyl:"Let's see what they have to say for themselves now then. Maintain distance and alert readiness" NPC@annpc#557 | Nethay: "Aye Commander." NPC@annpc#557 | The Borg ships appear on the viewscreen as the Latenter flies closer... NPC@annpc#557 | Daurant: "The Borg /have/ adapted. These ships have improvements beyond those seen in modern encounters both in Federation space and the Delta Quadrant, and their ships are once again - NPC@annpc#557 - geared towards taking on larger numbers of inferior vessels as they were configured to do during their initial incursions into Federation space, rather than the more recent ships built to face - NPC@annpc#557 - the more advanced capabilities of allied ships today." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "These ships are specifically altered to deal with the Horde, and may have assimilated no small amount of technology from them already." NPC@annpc#557 | As they draw closer, the huge command ship comes into view... NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/6QJw4Pz.jpg Mischa@crystyl:"That could also explain how they were able to surmise our presence here" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "Indeed." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "We are being hailed by the command ship." Mischa@crystyl:"Let's have it then" NPC@annpc#557 | The viewscreen shifts to a view inside a Borg vessel, showing the signature dark metallic constructs and green glows. Four drones step out, two of them bearing visible features of known Delta - NPC@annpc#557 - Quadrant species, an assimilated Benthan and Hazari, while the other two are recognizable only as Borg drones at this point. Behind them, two large assimilated Harcseen step out, equipped with - NPC@annpc#557 - armaments not dissimilar to the heavy tactical drones made from assimilated Gorn during their incursions in and around Federation space NPC@annpc#557 | After them steps out a drone that seems small in comparison. However, unlike the other drones, this one strides down the center of the hall rather than taking up guard-like positions along the - NPC@annpc#557 - sides as the others did. This one possesses visibly feminine features, but still seems to be a drone, displaying none of the characteristics usually seen with a Borg Queen, such as her lack of - NPC@annpc#557 - an ocular implant. As the female drone moves closer to the viewscreen, Mischa begins to recognize the person behind the implants- first the Denobulan features, then more specifically, the - NPC@annpc#557 - facial features of Kelly... NPC@annpc#557 | Borg-Kelly: "I am Domina of Borg. I speak for the Collective." Mischa@crystyl 's eyes narrow on the image, "You have selected a drone with an intentionally familiar face. Why?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "To facilitate communication. A typical drone provides a negative psychological connotation due to our attempts to assimilate you in the past. We have determined that a familiar face - NPC@annpc#557 - will be more suitable to communication as allies." Mischa@crystyl pinches the bridge of her nose, "After all this time you still have a lot to learn..." NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We are Borg. Your attempts to resist assimilation impede our ability to learn. But that is irrelevant at this time." Mischa@crystyl:"It won't be irrelevant if the person whose face you are using finds out. That alone could undo all you supposed efforts to assist here" NPC@annpc#557 | Root steps forward curiously, "How did you obtain this drone? The Borg do not produce, only assimilate. It cannot be a clone." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "Not to mention Commander Keliaya's file has no record of any encounters with the Borg. They could not have possessed an opportunity to acquire her genetic data." NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "This drone is not a clone." Mischa@crystyl:"Then what is its origin?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "On stardate 113463.5, Commander Keliaya was killed in a joint operation against the Horde conducted by Collective forces and the starship Valley Forge. We decided that her knowledge - NPC@annpc#557 - was too valuable to be lost and resuscitated her using methods assimilated from Species 841 before adding her to the Collective." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria: "113463? That's fifteen years from now." NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Correct." Mischa@crystyl:"Explain" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "This drone originates from a timeline where the galaxy is on the edge of total Horde victory. We calculated a maximum of fourteen years before the complete destruction of the - NPC@annpc#557 - Collective. To ensure our survival, we began work on a temporal incursion. Before our plans could be executed, another incursion we calculated to have originated from the Valley Forge erased - NPC@annpc#557:- that timeline from existence. The temporal shielding of the cube intended for our incursion protected it from these changes, and under this drone's leadership, the cube entered this timeline not - NPC@annpc#557:- long after the changes were made. The cube and all drones remaining from that timeline were reintegrated into the Collective here." Mischa@crystyl:"So you are survivors of that timeline. We are familiar with the events you speak of, and the concept of temporal shielding. Though I am not sure how to feel about the prospect of the Collective - Mischa@crystyl:- jumping almost 15 years in knowledge gained through temporal incursions" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Thirty years. The technological advancements we have gained however is only equivalent to approximately seven years of assimilation, and the majority of it pertains to adaptations - NPC@annpc#557:- against the Horde. The Collective of that timeline was more occupied with its own survival in these thirty years than expansion. The knowledge from that cube is the reason this force has been - NPC@annpc#557:- dispatched. The Collective recognizes the threat posed by the Horde and determined that it is paramount to ensure the successful completion of the Valley Forge's original mission." Mischa@crystyl:"Why then have you pursued this minimal impact mission all the way out here? If you have the memories of Commander Keliaya, you know where the front lines are in this war. Yet you did not seek out - Mischa@crystyl:- allied forces to announce yourselves and your mission. Why?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "In this drone's timeline, the Valley Forge never located the dyson sphere. We are aware of the location of Vue-En and the general search area, but without the fall of Vue-En in this - NPC@annpc#557:- timeline, both the Arshai and the Regulators will be active in the region. The Arshai's dislike of synthetic lifeforms encompasses the Collective, even though we are not artificial intelligences, - NPC@annpc#557:- and the Regulators neutralize any Collective presence upon detection, as they have been doing for centuries in the regions of the Delta Quadrant where they are active. We determined that the best - NPC@annpc#557:- course of action was to operate independently to weaken the Horde in regions where they are most likely to send reinforcements against you from." Mischa@crystyl:"And what of the Guardian Ranger vessel that was recently out here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We are unaware of any Guardian vessel." Mischa@crystyl looks to Idate NPC@annpc#557 | Idate taps on her console, "Can I send them the specifications of the Ranger ship? See if they recognize it then." Mischa@crystyl:"By all means" NPC@annpc#557 | Idate nods and sends the data Mischa@crystyl:"Domina of Borg, we are sending you a ship specification. We need to know what activity you have recorded of them in this area as it may be pertinent to the Horde campaign" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We recognize this vessel. It emerged from stealth behind one of our Spheres as it was collecting debris from a battlefield and was destroyed. The vessel's computer core initiated a - NPC@annpc#557:- self-purge and we were unable to assimilate any data from it. Our scans concluded that it was a Horde scout." Mischa@crystyl:"Idate?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "It is as I thought. The similarities between the Ranger ship and Horde vessels made it virtually indistinguishable when the transponder had not yet been activated, and the Borg - NPC@annpc#557:- responded too efficiently." NPC@annpc#557 | Idate: "I'm not sure I trust these Borg, but...it is a plausible explanation. That Ranger ship was Beltaavin scout ship, a number of which can be found in the hands of the Horde as well." Mischa@crystyl:"I see. Well I suppose the first thing we should do then is educate these Borg on the difference between Guardians and Horde" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "The Collective have never encountered the Guardians in either timeline. They had fallen early in the conflict in this drone's timeline, and our strategy here has not led to any - NPC@annpc#557 - encounters until now." Mischa@crystyl:"We are sending you relevant data" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We will make use of any data you can send us." NPC@annpc#557 | Victoria taps away on her console, "Sending over relevant data on the Guardians now." Mischa@crystyl:"I still have grave reservations about the sincerity of your claims, but your story is... plausible" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We can transport this drone over. Your scans will be able to confirm the difference in quantum signature." Mischa@crystyl:"Stand by" she signals to mute comms, turning to TL, "We would be remiss not to pursue this, but I am not letting a Collective drone have free access to this ship. What if we use a shuttle; remote - Mischa@crystyl:- pilot it out and give that as the transport coordinates, then we transport it back here under controlled conditions and isolation?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "A suitable precaution. Shall I prepare a brig cell for containment of a Collective drone?" Mischa@crystyl nods, "Please" signalling to reopen the channel, "Alright Domina, we will do as you suggest. But you can not simply beam onto this vessel as our defenses would interfere with your ability to - Mischa@crystyl:- function. A small craft will be despatched which you can beam onto, we will take you from there" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "That will be amenable." Mischa@crystyl:"Then we will see you shortly" she again nods to end the comm NPC@annpc#557 FX | The comm ends and Victoria announces, "We have a shuttlecraft prepped and ready, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"Send it to the Borg" she stands looking to TL, "Let's prepare some suitable guest quarters" NPC@annpc#557 | TL nods and heads towards the turbolift NPC@annpc#557 | As the lift closes behind them, T'Lana says, "The Borg's chosen method of operation here may have a point, Commander." Mischa@crystyl:"You are inclined to believe them?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Not necessarily. The information they presented lines up with the knowledge, and technology, these Borg seem to possess, which means at least elements of their account are likely - NPC@annpc#557 - accurate. But whether or not they are telling the truth, I believe the Collective's efforts are focused against the Horde, and that they are not a threat to us, for the time being." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "What concerns me is what follows after the Horde has been defeated." Mischa@crystyl:"Which is exactly why I am reluctant to introduce them to the Heart of War" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "Agreed. For the moment, we have a common enemy and it would be logical to allow them to continue their incursions into Horde space. However, in the Voyager's previous cooperation - NPC@annpc#557 - with the Borg, the Collective saw fit to betray them as soon as they had accomplished their mutual interests. I believe the Valley Forge's alliance with them in this alternate timeline has - NPC@annpc#557 - only lasted because the threat was not defeated. The moment the Horde are dealt with here, these Borg will almost certainly turn on us." Mischa@crystyl:"The other consideration is what impact it might have if the Horde were able to absorb a Borg drone" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods as the lift doors open and they step out, "The entire Collective may be compromised should that occur. But they have Kelly's memories, it is likely all drones here are equipped - NPC@annpc#557 - with protective implants, assuming the Borg had not developed one of their own independently of Starfleet." Mischa@crystyl:"A valid point. I suppose first things first, we should do all we can to validate their claims" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Indeed." She makes her way towards the brig --- NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later, the brig is prepped and Root joins them as well NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "The cell is prepared to contain a Collective drone, and Victoria reports we are ready to beam Domina over from the shuttle." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright, let's do this. Proceed with the transport" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods and taps on a console and Domina beams into the brig cell NPC@annpc#557 | The drone slowly looks around the cell before focusing on Mischa, "We intend you no harm, but we understand the precautions." Mischa@crystyl:"You may not intend us harm now, but you have a history of betraying your allies when it suits you. And when that day comes, I do not intend to see you armed with information about this vessel" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "A sensible approach, given our previous interactions. Admiral Leveson-Scott of this drone's universe demonstrated similar vigilance in her dealings with the Collective." Mischa@crystyl:"Admiral eh? Not bad. Good to know you aren't as precious about details of the future as Starfleet are" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We have no reason to conceal details of that timeline from you." NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, T'Lana turns to Mischa from the console, "Domina is speaking the truth. Her quantum signature is not only different from ours, but an exact match to the quantum signature of - NPC@annpc#557 - the alternate Valley Forge and her crew." Mischa@crystyl nods, "So you are who you claim to be" NPC@annpc#557 | Root chimes in, "Her technology is somewhat more advanced than the Collective we are familiar with, as are those of the Borg vessels here, though there have indeed not been a significant leap - NPC@annpc#557 - forward in development. I detect only minor to moderate improvements across various systems. Her physiology is also as she claims- she has been resurrected using techniques similar to that of - NPC@annpc#557 - the Kobali- Borg designation Species 841, though the process was altered for Borg purposes." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "That would explain why she retains identifiable Denobulan characteristics- she was not fully transformed into Kobali." Mischa@crystyl:"So - Domina of Borg - what is your intention now that you are here in this time?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We are one with the Collective. We seek to ensure the survival of the Borg through the eradication of the Horde threat." Mischa@crystyl:"And then what?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Then we will continue to service the Collective through the assimilation of the biological and technological distinctiveness of other civilizations." Mischa@crystyl:"Despite the knowledge of your own time that the Borg had to rely on those you would otherwise assimilate in order to survive" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Once the Collective have assimilated a sufficient amount of civilizations, we would no longer possess such a reliance. If the entire galaxy were Borg, we would be capable of - NPC@annpc#557:- suppressing the Horde threat ourselves." Mischa@crystyl:"And if the entire galaxy were Horde, the Borg would not be a threat. Your point is self defeating and irrelevant" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "That is why we seek to destroy the Horde. They are competition- a threat to the Collective's goals and survival. They must be eliminated." Mischa@crystyl:"As are we, yet you have chosen not to eliminate us" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "The Horde are the greater threat. Eliminating them is priority. Eliminating you would only be counter to that purpose as you fight the Horde as well." Mischa@crystyl:"Ok..." she sighs, "...riddle me this then; if your goal is to use us to help you eliminate the Horde threat, before then eliminating us - what is our incentive to help you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "The Horde are the greater threat for both of us. Your Federation has successfully resisted the Borg on multiple occasions. As the timeline recorded by this drone proves, neither - NPC@annpc#557 - your Federation nor the Borg will survive if the Horde are not contained here." Mischa@crystyl:"We already subverted that timeline on our own, your point is invalid" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Your information is incomplete. Our attacks on the Horde here is only part of the reason the Horde have not brought many reinforcements to the Sphere. The other reason is that the - NPC@annpc#557 - Horde are aware you are intercepting any reinforcements into the Sphere, and they have adapted. The 'reinforcements' they are sending now are nothing more than sacrifices to maintain the - NPC@annpc#557 - impression that they lack forces. Once you commit to your attack to retake the Sphere, they will unleash their second fleet and crush your forces between theirs." Mischa@crystyl:"Storming the sphere with an external assault? I would expect nothing less from the Architect" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We do not possess data on the size of your forces, but the Horde believes this attack will be sufficient to overwhelm you. We are currently weakening this force, and once - NPC@annpc#557 - they move to attack you, the Collective will keep as many at bay as possible. Without our forces here, a similar timeline to the one this drone originates from may still occur." Mischa@crystyl:"You know the location of this fleet?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We will send you all relevant data we have assimilated." Mischa@crystyl:"So are the Borg officially declaring a temporary truce with, well, everyone else while the Horde threat is dealt with?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We will refrain from assimilating or destroying non-Horde in this region of the galaxy unless we are provoked first. There are more than enough materials to assimilate within Horde - NPC@annpc#557 - territory, and dividing up our limited resources here would be inefficient." Mischa@crystyl:"I'll take that as yes... and what about after the Horde is dealt with then" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "That remains to be seen. The state of our forces and state of this region following the destruction of the Horde is uncertain." Mischa@crystyl:"So you do foresee at least some probability that the outcome will result in a universe when you have to change from your current practices?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "The Collective's goals will not change. Depending on the state of the Borg and the galaxy, the methods by which we obtain it can adapt." Mischa@crystyl:"Well... I suppose that's a start. Next thing we know you'll have a diplomatic drone assigned to the Federation Council!" she chuckles to herself NPC@annpc#557 | Root looks to Mischa, "I have a suggestion." He then looks to the door to indicate that he wishes to speak outside Mischa@crystyl nods and heads out NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana follows out as well NPC@annpc#557 | Root speaks once they are out of earshot of Domina: "The Borg have at times of crises turned their focus inwards and ceased most expansionary activity. However, it is quite unlikely that the - NPC@annpc#557 - Collective will ever give up forced assimilation altogether. Convincing the Collective to change their ways is futile, but I may have a method to potentially lessen the threat of the Borg in - NPC@annpc#557 - this region following the defeat of the Horde." Mischa@crystyl:"I see we still need to work on your comprehension of sarcasm, don't we" she smiles, "No matter, what is your suggestion?". NPC@annpc#557 | Root: "The Heart of War was designed to emit powerful signals across a large region. Once we have utilized the signal to destroy the Horde and the Omega molecules have replenished, I will be - NPC@annpc#557 - able to utilize the Sphere to send another subspace signal- one designed to cut off Borg drones from the Collective." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "But their neural-electrical fields will still connect any drones remaining here to one another." Mischa@crystyl:"Like the Cooperative?" NPC@annpc#557 | Root: "Similar, yes, though not identical. Once they are disconnected from the bulk of the Collective, their protocol will be to replicate the Borg structure until contact with the larger - NPC@annpc#557:- Collective can be re-established. That means the most suitable drone will be selected to serve as a temporary Queen. I am certain the candidate that will be chosen here is Domina- drones chosen - NPC@annpc#557:- to speak for the Borg are given this role for a reason, not to mention that Domina has previously commanded a small collective of Borg in the cube that survived her timeline. NPC@annpc#557 | Root: "As you are aware, the queen possesses a degree of individuality, but permanent queens are almost exclusively chosen from drones who were raised by the Borg as infants or children, so - NPC@annpc#557:- they possess only the interests of the Borg in mind. Domina is not one such drone. Once granted the position of Queen and the individuality that comes with it, she will most likely choose not to - NPC@annpc#557:- rejoin with the wider Collective and steer her collective in a different direction." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "But she already chose to rejoin the Collective when she was in control of the temporally shielded cube." NPC@annpc#557 | Root: "I believe she did so out of the desire to destroy the Horde, knowing that her cube's knowledge would prompt the Collective into assisting here. It is unlikely an individual who has - NPC@annpc#557:- lived the majority of their life outside the Collective would seek to rejoin. She may also have done so partially for her own preservation, though I do not believe she will need to rejoin the - NPC@annpc#557:- larger Collective if she has a collective of her own." Mischa@crystyl:"Ok, so we feign a reluctant alliance and take her with us a representative of the Borg here to allow for coordinated military action. That way she is within reach to control when we fry them" NPC@annpc#557 | Root: "She must remain within range of their neural-electrical fields if she is to be connected to the new miniature collective once the signal is sent. If she is severed from all Borg, she - NPC@annpc#557 - would not be made the new queen of this collective, and in her specific case, it will be fatal." Mischa@crystyl:"Ok, so we play along but have a standby action to jump a ship out here to help them find their way" NPC@annpc#557 | Root nods, "It will take at least day for the Omega molecules to regenerate after the signal to destroy the Horde is sent, but the Borg should not be able to move out of range of the signal - NPC@annpc#557:- within that time. They should not even be aware of the signal and will likely be moving towards Coalition space to assimilate us and replenish their numbers. Once the signal is sent, we can then - NPC@annpc#557:- locate the Borg forces and negotiating with Domina once she has some measure of individuality will be far more amenable than negotiating with the entire Collective." Mischa@crystyl nods, "Sounds like a plan. Now we just need to figure a way to coordinate their efforts with ours" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "I would not recommend taking a drone back to the Heart of War. While it may lure them towards the Sphere, as Root stated, there is no real risk of them venturing out of the range of - NPC@annpc#557 - signal. The risk of them assimilating Iconian technology or the capability to stabilize Omega molecules is a far greater threat." Mischa@crystyl:"Which is why we already settled on the alternative" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "It may be enough to simply make an agreement with them here to thin out the second Horde force for us and perhaps settling on a communication frequency should we need to coordinate - NPC@annpc#557 - with them further, rather than bringing a representative with them. Borg communication technology should be sufficiency advanced that they will likely be able to maintain contact with us - NPC@annpc#557 - even when we return to the Sphere." Mischa@crystyl:"that would indeed be optimal as we could defer the tactical specifics back to the Coalition" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "I will communicate further with Domina to settle on the details of our method of communication. I suggest collecting all the sensor data we can on the Borg ships while we are - NPC@annpc#557 - here. Even if we can prevent these Borg from becoming a threat, their improvements would be known by the rest of the Collective. While they may not implement some of these improvements on - NPC@annpc#557 - ships and drones not intended for conflict with the Horde, the knowledge we gain here could still prove beneficial in hostile encounters with the Collective in the future." Mischa@crystyl:"We should have a good sensor read on the whole fleet by now. I'll leave Domina to the two of you then for now and go check on the surveillance" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "I will inform you if we learn anything new from her, but the Borg appear to have been quite straightforward so far about their intentions." Mischa@crystyl leaves them to it, heading back to the bridge --- T'Lana@anncaris | Some time later, T'Lana rings the ready room doorbell again Mischa@crystyl:"Come in" T'Lana@anncaris steps inside, "Commander. We have settled the details of communication with the Borg." Mischa@crystyl sits with a cup of tea on the sofa. Looking over and beckoning TL to join her while she pours another out for her, "No surprises I trust?" T'Lana@anncaris steps over and takes a seat, "None. The Borg are being quite candid. They have most likely discerned that we would not fall for any deception." Mischa@crystyl:"Civilized interaction with the Borg. Why does that feel so unsettling..." T'Lana@anncaris:"I believe it is more unsettling that the Horde have pushed the Collective to venture out of their way to attack them and ally with us." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed. I do not relish the prospect of the future outcome they and the other Valley Forge came from" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I had not expected to encounter anyone from that timeline again once the actions of that Valley Forge erased it from existence, but it would stand to reason that the Borg were attempting - T'Lana@anncaris:- their own temporal manipulation. Though it is not standard procedure, they have been known to perform temporal incursions." Mischa@crystyl:"They certainly have. And given the loose alliance of surviving species in that future, it stands to reason that Captain Tierno shared her plans - or some element of them - with these Borg" she - Mischa@crystyl:- chuckles, "Stars, she probably used and abused them like she did the Tholians" T'Lana@anncaris:"She would make for an excellent Intelligence operative." T'Lana@anncaris:"On the subject of Borg behaviour, I have managed to obtain more insight into the tactics they are employing here." Mischa@crystyl:"Anything unusual or new?" T'Lana@anncaris:"It is largely as we suspected. They are carrying out hit-and-run tactics on the Horde, striking and retreating when prudent. At times, what we witnessed occur where a small Horde force attempts to - T'Lana@anncaris:- pursue the Borg attackers but are dissuaded from doing so when they rejoin with the command ship. At other times, the bulk of this second Horde fleet have attempted to attack the command ship and - T'Lana@anncaris:- the entirety of the Borg forces in the region are forced to relocate. That is why they have not set up any permanent installations, unimatrices or assimilated planets, and elected to remove - T'Lana@anncaris:- technology and lifeforms from worlds they capture instead. The Borg force here remains completely mobile." Mischa@crystyl:"So they really have adapted to guerilla warfare, impressive. What of the Borg fleet itself, anything unusual there?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Beyond the adjustments they have made to be more effective against superior enemy numbers, not much. There are a number of minor improvements across the board- or cube, as it is. I do not believe - T'Lana@anncaris - they had the time to assimilate anyone that would have provided them any significant leaps in technology, just as Domina claimed. Assimilating the Horde provides the Borg with little more than - T'Lana@anncaris - raw materials, as the Horde possesses the same greatest advantage as the Borg- a singular collective consciousness." T'Lana@anncaris:"The most unusual thing among them may be the Domina drone herself." Mischa@crystyl:"It is rare, but not unheard for them to utilize a drone with a retained persona. We all remember Locutus of course" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Domina is one such drone, but she possesses another element which sets her apart from even those drones." Mischa@crystyl:"You refer to the fact that the Borg 'salvaged' her after that Kelly died?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Yes, or rather, a side effect of that. The Borg often revive and assimilate individuals who were recently deceased using their own nanites, but Kelly had been dead for even longer. The Collective - T'Lana@anncaris:- utilized Kobali techniques to resurrect her, but the transformation was not complete. They resuscitated the brain, but did not rewrite her DNA into that of a Kobali. As a result, her body is - T'Lana@anncaris:- effectively still dead, and kept functional solely by her implants. This gives her the distinction of being one of the very few Borg who cannot be liberated, such as the Queen herself." Mischa@crystyl:"Do you suppose that was by design or happenchance?" T'Lana@anncaris:"Happenchance as a result of her more unusual circumstances is more likely. There are not many who would bother to go out of their way to liberate a single drone in the circumstances of that - T'Lana@anncaris:- timeline, and as Root stated, she does not make for an optimal permanent Queen, so the Collective could not have been seeking to transform her into one eventually." Mischa@crystyl:"Very true. Let us simply hope that these unique circumstances are sufficient to make our plan a reality" T'Lana@anncaris:"Root possesses first-hand knowledge of the Collective and its inner workings. If he believes that the Domina drone is the most likely candidate for a temporary Queen, I am confident she will be - T'Lana@anncaris:- chosen, as long as nothing befalls the drone prior to that point." Mischa@crystyl:"I believe so as well, I meant that when that happens; her unique circumstances are sufficient that our plan to steer them in a new direction will pan out" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "I hope so as well. She will still be part of a Borg collective, but we must hope the individuality she gains as Queen will allow her to access more of her past as a Starfleet officer." Mischa@crystyl:"Exactly. There is a lot hinging on hope with this mission so far, and that makes me uncomfortable" T'Lana@anncaris:"Guidance of this new Queen may be able to tip the scales, when the time comes. You are familiar with the Kelly of our universe. Do you believe you may be able to guide Domina into pacifying this - T'Lana@anncaris:- new collective, or is this a task better suited for the Valley Forge?" Mischa@crystyl:"I know her, but I'm not her family. That job has Keelah's name written all over it" she smiles T'Lana@anncaris:"Agreed. I am sure Keelah will be able to guide a new Borg Queen who was a former member of her crew. She is quite the diplomat, and the personal connection will work to her advantage." Mischa@crystyl:"I suppose for now, all we have left is to report to the fleet and let them debate how to utilize this Borg fleet then" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "We have obtained thorough scans of all Borg vessels in the armada here. The Borg do not seem to mind our presence, as is often their attitude towards those who are not threatening them - T'Lana@anncaris:- but have also not been marked for assimilation. There is little reason for us to linger much longer, however." Mischa@crystyl:"Then we should get underway before they change their minds" T'Lana@anncaris stands, "I will transport Domina back and inform Nethay to move us away. I suggest launching the Observer's ship and creating the wormhole once we are out of range of the Borg. We do not know - T'Lana@anncaris:- if the Borg are aware of the Junayd presence in the Coalition as the timeline changed prior to their joining, but in the case that they do not, it is better for them to remain unaware of that - T'Lana@anncaris:- particular technological distinctiveness." Mischa@crystyl nods, "That much is a given. We will proceed under cloak until we are out of range before opening the wormhole back" T'Lana@anncaris:"I shall make the preparations," she turns to head out --- T'Lana@anncaris | After returning Domina to the Borg command ship, the Latenter moves away from the Borg armada under cloak. Once they are safely out of the Borg's sensor range, they launch the Observer's - T'Lana@anncaris - vessel and proceed back through the wormhole into the Heart of War T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "Well, that was not exactly what I expected to find, but at least it seems like these Borg are on our side. At least for now." Mischa@crystyl:"'For now' being the operative term there" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "I hope the Guardians don't end up having to keep them at bay once we've dealt with the Horde." Mischa@crystyl:"Starfleet has been keeping them at bay for a long time now. Even if that does come to pass, the Guardians won't be facing them alone" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate nods, "If we do end up having to fight them, we'll be glad to have you at our side." Mischa@crystyl:"I am sorry the Rangers were lost to them through simply being mistaken as Horde" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "It was an unfortunate misunderstanding. The Borg do sound like the more ruthless type, but we often have to make use of any ship we can get, especially the Rangers with stealth-capable - T'Lana@anncaris - ships, so this happens. It's not the first time a Guardian ship has been mistaken for Horde by someone." Mischa@crystyl:"Really? That sounds like a shortcoming that is worth addressing" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "We utilize transponders that announce our ships as Guardians, but civilizations fleeing the Horde can often be paranoid and eager to shoot first." Mischa@crystyl:"My point exactly" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "We normally try to announce and introduce ourselves before an evacuation and help them flee, but there are occasions where we run into civilizations we did not know had fallen, - T'Lana@anncaris:- and they are also unfamiliar with us." Mischa@crystyl:"Well, if it was me I'd be looking to establish some means of confirming friendly identity before decloaking" Mischa@crystyl:"Especially if this is not the first such instance" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate nods, "It is not exclusively cloaked vessels that run into such issues, but I will recommend devising a better system for the Rangers announcing themselves." Mischa@crystyl:"Meanwhile I suggest you make use of the Valley Forge's computers when you get back there to learn all you can about the Borg and educate the other Guardians" T'Lana@anncaris | Idate: "Good suggestion. I'll make sure to do more research into them." T'Lana@anncaris | Nethay: "Exiting the wormhole in 30 seconds." Mischa@crystyl:"Time to break the news to the others" T'Lana@anncaris | The Latenter emerges from the wormhole into the Spherescape, following the Observer's vessel as they make their way to join the other Coalition forces. Before long, the shape of the Valley - T'Lana@anncaris - Forge becomes visible among the allied ships Mischa@crystyl stands, "Inform the Valley Forge that I will transport over shortly to discuss our findings with Keelah" T'Lana@anncaris | Victoria nods, tapping her console and sending the message to the VF --- Keliaya@anncaris | Mischa beams into one of the Valley Forge's transporter rooms, where Kelly awaits her Keliaya@anncaris:"Welcome back, Mischa. You always seem to be getting back when it's my shift. One would think you were looking for excuses to talk with me," she grins Mischa@crystyl groans slightly, "Honestly Kelly, if anything I would be looking for excuses not to talk to you right now" Keliaya@anncaris:"Why's that? Is something wrong?" Mischa@crystyl:"Not... /wrong/ as such, rather... undesirable" Keliaya@anncaris:"Undesirable? That's not how I usually like being described...anyways, Keelah'll waiting for you in the ready room. I'll take you there." Keliaya@anncaris turns to lead the way Mischa@crystyl:"Sorry, that probably sounded worse than it should have. Come on" Keliaya@anncaris steps into the turbolift with Mischa, "Bridge." She turns to her as the lift goes underway, "You seemed pretty happy when we last parted ways, and I haven't been up to anything of note other - Keliaya@anncaris:- than my everyday duties. It's not something I did, right?" Mischa@crystyl smiles faintly, "No of course not, Kelly. It was just some unexpected events during that last outing" Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "I understand. I'll give you some space, but just let me know if you ever want to talk about something, alright?" Mischa@crystyl:"Yeah... you should probably join us for this debrief" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Now I'm curious what all this is about. Is it something to do with Eva?" The turbolift doors slide open. "I suppose I'll find out soon enough..." Keliaya@anncaris leads the way across the bridge to the ready room Mischa@crystyl heads into the ready room with Kelly Mischa@crystyl | Keelah: "So what did you find, that you felt it better to come report in person?" Mischa@crystyl:"Sort of a good news - bad news thing. The bad news is that there is a Borg armada out there centered on one of those giant command ships" Keliaya@anncaris:"A Borg armada? Whatever's prompted them to come all the way out here?" Mischa@crystyl:"That's the good news. They're here to fight the Horde as well" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "So they were the mystery force attacking the Horde that you've been sent to investigate. So I take it they're on our side at least for the time being?" Mischa@crystyl:"It would seem that way" Mischa@crystyl | Keelah: "What prompted this from them?" Mischa@crystyl:"That's the interesting part..." Keliaya@anncaris looks to Mischa curiously, "There's no way word of the Horde reached them all the way out in the Delta Quadrant. The Regulators are out there, but they hate each other; the Administration would - Keliaya@anncaris:- never call the Borg for help." Mischa@crystyl:"Very true. They actually heard about them... from you" Keliaya@anncaris:"From us? I don't remember the Valley Forge sending any call for assistance to the Borg..." Mischa@crystyl:"Not yet at least. They are your future allies to be precise. Specifically, the future where the alternate Valley Forge came from" Keliaya@anncaris:"So these Borg travelled back here from that future as well?" Mischa@crystyl:"Yes. It seems they were planning a similar move and already head temporal shielding when the Valley Forge made its move. This led to their surviving the timeline change and ending up here as well" Keliaya@anncaris:"Are they here as a separate entity from the Borg Collective of our universe, or have they joined back together already?" Mischa@crystyl shakes her head, "It was only one cube which travelled back in time. It rejoined with the Collective here and gave them knowledge of that future, so they sent the fleet here to attack the Horde. - Mischa@crystyl:- That is, the second Horde fleet which is amassing and ready to move on us as soon as we make our final run for the Architect" Keliaya@anncaris:"That...sounds like something he'd be up to, yes." Mischa@crystyl:"So the Borg went to the location they did know about, since they do not know about the Heart of War in that version of the future, and have been conducting guerilla warfare against that fleet" Keliaya@anncaris:"Now that doesn't sound like the Borg. I've never had any firsthand experience with them, but guerilla warfare seems uncharacteristic from everything I've heard." Mischa@crystyl:"Indeed, they have definitely adapted and in no small part - I'd wager - to their local Queen" Keliaya@anncaris:"So why did you want me along for this briefing? I'm no expert on the Borg, Vulture would certainly know more than I do." Mischa@crystyl:"Because there is something you have a right to know Kelly. This Queen as I call her - figurative, not literal - who travelled back with the cube carrying this future knowledge and now leads this - Mischa@crystyl:- fleet with a degree of autonomy and independence from the Collective already. She is you, Kelly" Keliaya@anncaris:"What? As in, the version of me from that timeline?" Mischa@crystyl:"Close at least. Specifically, you - along with many of the current crew - had died by that time in the future. As I recall from the encounter, there were very few present day crew serving under - Mischa@crystyl:- Captain Tierno. For reasons unknown to us, the Borg had recovered that Kelly's body and utilized something more akin to the Kobali method to bring life back to her" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I guessed that I was dead at that point in their universe, since Pia was referred to as Chief Engineer for at least some of the ship's history, if she wasn't still in that role during our - Keliaya@anncaris:- encounter with them. But the Borg bringing me back...?" Mischa@crystyl:"I do not know the specific circumstances, only that she made reference to their wanting to not let your knowledge of the Horde go to waste" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "And now the Borg version of me from that universe is leading the armada here?" Mischa@crystyl:"Yes. Domina is her name, and she functions very much like Locutus did" Keliaya@anncaris:"I...don't know what news I was expecting, but that's certainly not it. And here I thought Rianni was the one who had to worry about duplicates..." Mischa@crystyl:"We have a plan in place to subdue this Borg fleet once the Horde is dealt with. For now, you should study our tactical data on them and the Horde fleet they are fighting, see how you want to deploy" Mischa@crystyl | Keelah nods, "We'll review the details and see what we can come up with" Keliaya@anncaris:"Is there anything we can do to help with this plan you've come up with?" Mischa@crystyl:"In time there will be, but for now we should also focus on the task at hand" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Let me know if you need me for anything. Like trying to figure out how this Borg-me thinks, or something." Mischa@crystyl smiles faintly, "I'll keep that in mind but for now, should leave you ladies to your business" she dips her head to them both and heads out --- Keliaya@anncaris steps over to the lounge, heading over to the bar to order one of her usual drinks Rianni@crystyl sits at a table in the corner, working on a PADD with a drink on the table getting ignored Keliaya@anncaris takes her drink and heads over to Rianni's table, "Busy getting some work done, Ensign?" Rianni@crystyl looks up, "Oh hi Kelly! Couldn't resist getting into all this data the Latenter brought back!" she chuckles Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "I thought you'd be digging into that quickly. Mind if I join you?" Rianni@crystyl smiles, "By all means!" gesturing to the empty seat while clearing away the PADD. She sits back, sipping from the mug and pulling a face when she realizes it's now cold Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Want me to take that back to the replicator and get you a new one?" Rianni@crystyl shakes her head, setting it aside, "It's fine, I should probably ease back for the day anyway. So how's things?" Keliaya@anncaris sets her drink on the table and takes a seat, "Preparations are coming along nicely. We're not doing another refit, but we're running a lot of joint tasks with Tactical to make sure the ship's - Keliaya@anncaris - as ready as she can be for the final assault against the Architect." Rianni@crystyl:"It's a lot of work isn't it" Keliaya@anncaris nods, 'That it is. Must be a lot of planning for you, too." Rianni@crystyl:"Especially now we've learned of these two extra fleets in play!" Keliaya@anncaris:"Must change quite a number of factors. So, have you learned about the...other me leading this Borg fleet from the Latenter's data?" Rianni@crystyl shakes her head, blinking absently Keliaya@anncaris:"I guess Mischa left that detail out of the tactical data..." Rianni@crystyl:"This is just details on the various ships within the Borg and Horde fleet. What's this about another you then?" Keliaya@anncaris:"I hope this isn't meant to be classified information. Mischa never told me /not/ to share it...and besides if we'll be working with the Borg fleet, there's a good chance we'll learn it ourselves - Keliaya@anncaris:- anyways," she takes a sip of her drink. "So remember the alternate future where you became captain of the Valley Forge?" Rianni@crystyl:"I remember hearing about it all. That's one version of me I never got to meet, but I understand she, um... I? was in command of some alternate version of the Valley Forge right?" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "That's the one. Apparently, the leader...I'm not sure if leader is the right term when it comes to the Borg Collective, but that's beside the point, well, she's apparently me from that - Keliaya@anncaris - timeline." Rianni@crystyl:"Oh..." Keliaya@anncaris:"I haven't met her yet, but...now you know you're not the only one here with alternate versions of you in our universe," she chuckles Rianni@crystyl smiles faintly, "Welcome to the club. How are you doing with this? I mean, a mirror copy or something is one thing, but a Borg version of you - I'm not sure how I'd take that" Keliaya@anncaris:"I'm...honestly not sure yet. I don't know how much of me is in that Borg version. According to Mischa, they brought me back using Kobali methods because they supposedly didn't want my knowledge on - Keliaya@anncaris - the Horde to be lost. The Kobali keep their memories of their old lives and if the Borg wanted to assimilate what I knew, that would presumably mean that version of me is in the Collective, - Keliaya@anncaris:- as a mental presence that is, not just the body being used as a drone." Rianni@crystyl:"Huh, that's not like them at all is it?" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Neither are their current guerilla warfare tactics against the Horde here. The Borg of that future have changed to adapt to the circumstances, and it seems some of these adaptations have - Keliaya@anncaris:- been taken up by the Collective of our universe too." Rianni@crystyl:"I see. And I guess that includes resorting to different methods when deemed necessary in order to assimilate someone" Keliaya@anncaris:"It seems so. I'm guessing they didn't want to break the alliance they had with us in that timeline by assimilating someone, so they waited until one of us died and used Kobali techniques to gain - Keliaya@anncaris:- access to our memories instead. Might've even done it in secret and kept the whole thing hidden from that Valley Forge." Rianni@crystyl:"That does make a certain sense. Well-" she smiles, "-at least that Kelly is out there somewhere and not roaming the halls here to get mixed up with you! Not that she likely could as I'm guessing - Rianni@crystyl:- will be all... Borgified or something" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "It certainly solves the problem of potentially getting mixed up even if she does visit here at some point. Still, I'm not quite sure how I feel about my memories and personality being a - Keliaya@anncaris - part of the Borg. Not /quite/ mine seeing how the timelines differed, but we still share most of the same experiences. I suppose anyone who's ever been assimilated has their memories - Keliaya@anncaris:- as a part of the Collective still, I guess I should be glad I didn't have to go through the process of being assimilated, at least." Rianni@crystyl:"I don't know if this will prove to be the same for you or not, but when I first learned about the Observer I was livid. I could only see her as an imposter and I felt violated by her very existence. Rianni@crystyl:- I know it was different because she actually posed as me for a long time, but maybe that's the point; after all this time now, I've had to learn to remain objective about her existence so even - Rianni@crystyl:- though we share memories and thoughts of each other, I see her now more like a sister than anything malicious" Keliaya@anncaris:"I don't mind versions of me from another timeline being around- they're not pretending to be me, they are me but under different circumstances. I just don't like the Borg resurrecting a version of - Keliaya@anncaris:- me and by extension getting access to my memories. I'm a very open person and don't usually mind sharing intimate details that others would be more private about, but I never planned on sharing - Keliaya@anncaris - with the Borg..." Rianni@crystyl:"From my own experience with duplicates I'd say there are two things there that are potentially offensive. The question is, which is the one that offends you; the fact a version of you was - Rianni@crystyl:- resurrected, or the fact that it was the Borg who did it?" Keliaya@anncaris:"I'm not spiritual or anything, I don't mind being resurrected. Eva was practically resurrected, she wasn't exactly dead, but it was by the Architect of all people. But if we can get rid of him and - Keliaya@anncaris:- get Eva back, it doesn't really matter that the Architect created that new body for her. It's more the fact that the Borg have access to my memories and how I think- I know they're allies now, - Keliaya@anncaris:- but once we deal with the Horde, they'll go back to trying to assimilate us eventually, if not right away." Keliaya@anncaris:"I don't think it's going to help the Borg that much, it's nowhere near as bad as when someone important like Picard became assimilated. It just makes me a little...uncomfortable." Rianni@crystyl:"It is their nature after all. There must be some liberated crew on board, right? Maybe you should speak with someone who's dealt with assimilation rather than someone who's dealt with having - Rianni@crystyl:- duplicates" Keliaya@anncaris nods and smiles, "That's a good suggestion. There /is/ still a Borg duplicate of me out there, but as it is with Borg, the single drone probably doesn't matter much now that the knowledge is - Keliaya@anncaris:- part of the Collective. Still...I'm not sure I want to run into that drone. Borg cybernetics don't exactly make you look nice, do they?" Rianni@crystyl:"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Jojo for example finds Borg augments highly fashionable!" Keliaya@anncaris:"True. I have to admit, there is a part of me curious to see what this Borg version of me is like, even though I'm almost certain I won't like it." Rianni@crystyl:"It does sound at least like your discomfort stems from the involvement of the Borg specifically, rather than having another you out there or that she was resurrected. I call that progress!" Keliaya@anncaris smiles, "I have you to thank for that, getting us all used to the idea of duplicates." Rianni@crystyl giggles, "Not quite the legacy I planned on building, but I'll take it for now if it helps you out!" Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "Well, thanks for taking the brunt of the duplicate shock, so the rest of us are prepared when another one of us shows up! Though I hope neither of us gets any more duplicates, still." Rianni@crystyl:"Agreed. If you want, I'm happy to help you find someone who knows the Borg better to try and come to terms with that aspect too!" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I'll appreciate the help, but don't worry about it if you need to focus on tactical planning. We've got a lot of new variables all of a sudden." Rianni@crystyl:"There is a lot, but it might help to understand the Borg better too!" Keliaya@anncaris:"Good thinking, Rianni," she smiles. "Anyways, I'll leave you to your planning for now. Thanks for the chat!" Rianni@crystyl:"Any time!" --- Rianni@crystyl | After receiving a curious request for assistance from one of the holodecks, Kelly enters - toolkit in hand - to find herself standing on the bridge of a Galaxy class starship Rianni@crystyl stands at what would be the tactical station, though it soon becomes clear from the unusual elements to the layout that this is - at least some version of - her CIC simulation Keliaya@anncaris looks around the simulation bridge, "Am I on the right holodeck?" Rianni@crystyl waves over, "Aah there you are Kelly, perfect timing! Computer, freeze program" Rianni@crystyl | Everything stops in place as Rianni joins her Keliaya@anncaris:"What'd you need help with? Everything seems in order here, at least at a glance." Rianni@crystyl nods, "The program is fine but I'm having difficulty applying the Latenter's sensor data to the enemy vessels in this simulation. I was hoping you could help me get them properly aligned" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I'll take a look. Are they applying but with inaccuracies, or just refusing to work at all?" Rianni@crystyl:"I, um... can't really tell... they don't seem any different at all to be honest" Keliaya@anncaris nods and steps over to the holodeck console to check Rianni@crystyl | She finds a Borg drone in the way. There are a few of them scattered around the program at present Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Sorry, was experimenting with some boarding protocols while I was waiting!" Keliaya@anncaris takes a step back at the unexpected drone, "Right. Computer, deactivate Borg drones." Rianni@crystyl | The drones all disappear. Except the one in Kelly's way... Rianni@crystyl | The drone tilts his head and blinks, "Apologies Commander Keliaya. but your computer does not have the capacity to deactivate me" Keliaya@anncaris looks between the drone and Rianni, "I think the program might be more broken than you initially suspected..." Rianni@crystyl giggles, "No! This is Three of Nine, err... Root. He's from the Latenter! I spoke to Commander Leveson-Scott about my efforts to utilize her sensor data and so she sent him over to assist!" Keliaya@anncaris:"Oh! Sorry! I thought you were a part of the program. Uh...excuse me?" Rianni@crystyl | Root rigidly steps aside Keliaya@anncaris steps over to tap on the console and check why the sensor data isn't applying to the program properly Keliaya@anncaris:"Let's see...looks like our holodeck isn't able to read the Latenter systems' encryption. It's never been programmed to decrypt SFI security." Rianni@crystyl:"Ooh yes that would explain it!" Keliaya@anncaris:"I could transfer the data to our encryption and upload it to the program again as a quicker solution, but since we're working closely with the Latenter now," she glances at Root, "It might be - Keliaya@anncaris:- better for me to add the decryption to our holodecks so we don't run into this problem with the Latenter's data in the future." Rianni@crystyl | Root nods and approaches the console, reaching past Kelly and extending a pair of tubules into the interface, A moment later he retracts them, "That should do it" Rianni@crystyl:"That's... convenient" Rianni@crystyl | Root looks to Rianni, "Was it not supposed to be efficient, Ensign?" Rianni@crystyl:"Nono, that's grand and all. Just... eugh, nevermind" Keliaya@anncaris:"That's much quicker than what I was thinking, but thank you! Makes my job easier," she chuckles Keliaya@anncaris looks over to Rianni, "Hm?" Rianni@crystyl twiddles her fingers, "I... maybe kind of knew that was the issue the whole time..." Keliaya@anncaris:"Why didn't you just have Root do...that?" Rianni@crystyl:"I kept thinking about our talk the other day and I felt bad for you. Sooo... when Root came here to assist me I thought he might be just the person you needed to talk with to better understand your- Rianni@crystyl:- feelings on the whole thing..." Keliaya@anncaris:"Oh! So /that's/ why you called me here!" she smiles, "Thank you Rianni." Keliaya@anncaris looks to Root, "Has she been spending much time with your Commander? She might've picked up a few things from her..." Rianni@crystyl smiles softly, feeling all warm and fuzzy for doing good Rianni@crystyl | Root: "The Ensign has accompanied her on some missions. Though without assimilating her I can not say how much she has or has not learned from the Commander" Rianni@crystyl turns in shock at the very notion Rianni@crystyl | Root stares back, answering flatly, "That was a joke" Rianni@crystyl frowns, "We need to work on your sense of humour..." Rianni@crystyl | Root: "I will add it to the list" Keliaya@anncaris:"So, Root, you encountered the...Borg-me, I assume? You serve on the Latenter, and I can't imagine Mischa wouldn't have made use of your knowledge of the Borg when you encountered them." Rianni@crystyl | Root nods, "Interactive element designation Domina of Borg" Keliaya@anncaris:"I assume she's like a typical Borg drone? No offense, but from what I've heard, Borg behaviour is usually pretty...monotone across the board." Rianni@crystyl | Root shakes his head, "To the contrary, she is as unique among the Borg as you are among the Denobulan people" Keliaya@anncaris:"Really? How so?" Rianni@crystyl | Root: "She possesses a unique persona, and by extension of that an element of independence and self awareness" Keliaya@anncaris:"Well, I suppose I'm glad I at least stand out among the Borg. Mischa mentioned she serves a similar role to Locutus, hence the name and all?" Rianni@crystyl | Root nods, "That is the role she now finds herself in, though it is unlikely to have been her designated purpose" Keliaya@anncaris:"What do you think her designated purpose was? Just a regular drone at the time?" Rianni@crystyl | Root: "No, she was assimilated into her current state but since the Borg of her time were already allies of the surviving Coalition, an interaction element would serve no purpose. We have - Rianni@crystyl:- surmised that she was minimally assimilated due to the period of time in which she was already necrotic before the process began. That is why they utilized an adaptation of the Kobali resurrection - Rianni@crystyl:- order to restore life to the biological element and regain access to the knowledge held within" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Do you think she got the unique name as part of the interaction role, then? So she had a numerical designation like most drones first, but was given the name after coming here and being - Keliaya@anncaris:- assigned to interact with us?" Rianni@crystyl | Root nods, "That is a reasonable supposition. The Borg Queen is not naive to circumstances and most likely allowed Domina to retain her pre-existing status along with the identity in order to - Rianni@crystyl:- operate semi-autonomously out here. It is also reasonable to assume that the Queen considers all of Domina's fleet to be sacrificial; if not to the Horde, then to us as she knows the Coalition - Rianni@crystyl:- would not allow the Borg to establish a presence once the Horde is destroyed. Ergo, I believe the Queen has anticipated our plan to sever this fleet from her upon the theoretical success of their - Rianni@crystyl:- mission and so placed Domina in order to serve as Queen to the new hive which is born of our interference" Keliaya@anncaris:"So /that's/ the plan Mischa mentioned..." Rianni@crystyl | Root nods, "Yes, when the Heart of War has destroyed the Horde, she intends to fire it a second time to sever this Borg fleet from the Collective as Domina has already made clear her intention to- Rianni@crystyl:- sever the temporary truce and resume normal Borg activity" Rianni@crystyl:"You almost make the Queen sound... benevolent..." Rianni@crystyl | Root nods, "The Queen is very benevolent; she loves all of her drones very much. She will no doubt have a greater plan to reassimilate them just like the Cooperative, hence placing Domina as a - Rianni@crystyl:- local Queen in order to maintain order and preserve the integrity of the Borg that are here" Rianni@crystyl:"Eugh, and I thought the Architect played a frustratingly long game..." Keliaya@anncaris:"But if Domina's made it clear they're going to resume normal activity, which I assume means trying to assimilate everyone else and not just the Horde, wouldn't she still try to do that when made - Keliaya@anncaris:- into the local Queen?" Rianni@crystyl | Root nods: "As a drone connected to the Collective, she shares the Queens ideals and beliefs so that is currently her intention. The Commander... hopes that when severed of that connection, she - Rianni@crystyl:- will have retained enough of her former self to - how you say - have a change of heart?" Rianni@crystyl:"That's where we come in! We'll have to find her again and help her rediscover herself, right Root?" Rianni@crystyl | Root nods to Rianni, "Correct Ensign. The Commander has already determined that Captain Se'Lai is best suited to this task" Rianni@crystyl chuckles some, "Sorry, we /may/ have already discussed a lot of this before you got here!" Keliaya@anncaris chuckles, "I thought you'd want to start diving into it first. Is there anything I can do to help? I mean, she was once me, and we probably share the same history from before the timeline - Keliaya@anncaris:- diverged, at least." Rianni@crystyl | Root considers Kelly a moment, his occular implant focusing and refocusing on her, "Your presence may be... advantageous. But it could also be dangerous" Keliaya@anncaris:"You think it might be...too much of a shock for her?" Rianni@crystyl | Root: "Possible, but she already knows of your existence. However, your reaction to her might drive her back to the Queen's embrace if you are not..." he looks to Rianni for help Rianni@crystyl turns, "I... think he means like, emotionally? Like if you're really upset or angry or something, that could have a negative impact on Domina?" Rianni@crystyl | Root nods nd looks back to Kelly, "Yes. That" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "I'll probably be okay now that I know of her existence too, but it's probably safer for me to stay back. But I could always provide information if needed." Keliaya@anncaris:"You all know me fairly well by now, but there might still be a few things that only I'm aware of," she chuckles Rianni@crystyl | Root: "That would be best for now. But all may yet change by the time that day comes" Keliaya@anncaris:"Something you anticipate by the time we can sever them from the current Borg Queen's control?" Rianni@crystyl | Root: "Nothing specific, merely an observation that time always changes things. The only question is whether enough will pass between now and that day" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Once they are cut off from the Queen, does the rest of the Collective still retains all of Domina's knowledge and memories?" Rianni@crystyl | Root nods: "Once a mind has been incorporated into the Collective hive, it is forever a part of it" Keliaya@anncaris:"As I thought. Living on through the Borg isn't exactly what I had in mind, but at least I'm not a drone," she looks to Root. "Not that being Borg is a bad thing- some of your cybernetics certainly - Keliaya@anncaris:- do have quite the advantage over biological organs." Rianni@crystyl | Root nods: "They are distinctly superior" Rianni@crystyl giggles, "Guess we're adding to modesty to that list of yours too" Keliaya@anncaris chuckles and looks to Rianni, "This means when we sever the Borg here from the wider Collective, there'll technically be three of me around. Myself, Domina and an imprint as a part of the Borg - Keliaya@anncaris:- Collective. I'm catching up to you Ensign. Though I don't know if I should be pleased or concerned." Rianni@crystyl:"Hey it's not a competition!" she laughs Keliaya@anncaris laughs as well, "Don't worry, there's still been more yous!" Rianni@crystyl:"Also something I don't know if I should be pleased or concerned about..." Keliaya@anncaris grins, "I guess by making Domina the local Queen here, we also get an advantage in an almost reverse-Locutus situation. If she ever does cause trouble for us, we might better know the way she - Keliaya@anncaris:- thinks through me." Rianni@crystyl | Root nods, "That will be a distinct advantage" Keliaya@anncaris:"You're sure she will be made the local Queen? Does having the name and some degree of individuality guarantee that?" Rianni@crystyl | Root: "Nothing is certain until it transpires. But we believe this to be the most likely outcome, yes" Keliaya@anncaris:"I guess we'll have to see what exactly happens, and adapt if need be." Rianni@crystyl | Root tilts his head a little, "A... joke?" Keliaya@anncaris grins, "You're getting it!" Rianni@crystyl | Roots implant refocuses again, "I think we need to add humour to your list" Rianni@crystyl snickers and cracks up Keliaya@anncaris laughs, "Anyways, do you remember who you were before you became a part of the Collective? Or were you one of those who were raised as Borg?" Rianni@crystyl | Root: "I was born Borg, there is nothing from before" Keliaya@anncaris:"How did you end up with SFI? Or is that classified?" she smirks Rianni@crystyl | Root: "I was a heavy tactical drone posted to one of the tactical cubes which assaulted the Sol system. One of your SFI vessels liberated the ship, and so I remained with them" Keliaya@anncaris nods and smiles, "Thanks for telling me. I was half-expecting it to be classified...you never know with SFI." Rianni@crystyl:"I think maybe it was. I... don't recall any record of SFI vessels being around during that conflict..." Keliaya@anncaris:"What about Domina? What form of drone do you think she was intended to be?" Rianni@crystyl | Root simply glances to Rianni and back to Kelly Keliaya@anncaris | Root: "She was most likely originally a standard drone, capable of servicing multiple different purposes as required. Her right arm is replaced with a rather unique prosthesis, however. It was - Keliaya@anncaris - originally a maintenance prosthetic, but elements of tactical drone prosthetics appear to have been integrated. This may have been done to enhance her combat capabilities for either the - Keliaya@anncaris:- mission she is on now, or the temporal incursion." Rianni@crystyl:"Both equally plausible" Keliaya@anncaris nods, "Well, thanks for all the information, Root. And thank you for inviting me over to talk with him Rianni." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "I hope it helped" Keliaya@anncaris smiles back, "It definitely did! I'll leave you two to your tactical planning for now." Rianni@crystyl:"You can always stay and help if you like! With your technical know how it's likely you'll see something that we don't" Keliaya@anncaris:"I don't have anything else scheduled, I thought I might be here fixing things for a while, so sure!" Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Great, and now we can see the differences in these modern Borg vessels too" Keliaya@anncaris steps over to Rianni, "Root's probably more of an expert on them than I am, but I'll help where I can!" Rianni@crystyl:"Root knows the Borg well, of course. But he lacks the capacity to think outside of the box like field engineers can"