The final battle against the Horde begins as the Coalition fights against the greatest odds yet for the very survival of life in the Milky Way galaxy...
NPC@annpc#557 | The camera fades in on a much older Rianni... Rianni@crystyl | Text appears in the bottom left: â€˜Admiral Rianni Tierno, DSEC.â€™ NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "Thank you for taking the time to join us today, Admiral." Rianni@crystyl gives a gentle smile, "I always like to try and make the time for reflection on the past" NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "And to teach all the younger generations that might be watching now about it as well. I'm sure they're very keen to hear of your experiences." Rianni@crystyl chuckles, "Oh I doubt those kids out there want to hear an old woman bleat on about the 'good old days' any more than cadets did when I lectured at San Francisco" NPC@annpc#557 | The interviewer chuckles as well, "But there are quite a few who are interested in the specifics of the tactics used here in the Sphere. You began your career as a tactical officer too, - NPC@annpc#557 - I'm sure you know the feeling." Rianni@crystyl:"Now those certainly were the good old days..." she looks to the camera with a chuckle, "...sorry, but they were" nodding back to the interviewer, "Yes, I first joined Starfleet over a century ago - Rianni@crystyl:- as a tactical cadet" NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "And you were responsible for many of the tactical decisions and battle plans involving the Valley Forge during its time out here, despite only being a Cadet and later an Ensign, - NPC@annpc#557 - correct?" Rianni@crystyl:"Well, no not really. I reported to the CTO - Commander Vrolmacht, lovely fellow, bit growly - he and the Captain were ultimately responsible for the decisions, I simply performed my duty and made - Rianni@crystyl:- recommendations" NPC@annpc#557 | The interviewer nods, "But you still made a substantial contribution to the Valley Forge's tactical planning, wouldn't you say?" Rianni@crystyl smiles a little, "I suppose you could say that" NPC@annpc#557 | The interviewer smiles back, "A very significant contribution for a Cadet and Ensign. It's no wonder you're a flag officer now, most people in Starfleet don't see such an eventful start to - NPC@annpc#557 - their careers." Rianni@crystyl:"Indeed, but eventful was something a defining term to my early years in Starfleet" NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "It was a difficult time for the galaxy. Most people today credit the Battle of the Heart as being the battle that ended that time of conflict- directly in some ways, indirectly - NPC@annpc#557 - in others by being the last great battle of the time. You were coordinating that battle from your CIC, weren't you?" Rianni@crystyl leans back in her chair with a whimsical sigh, "Yes, though keep in mind the CIC on that Valley Forge was very ad-hoc, even if it was a precursor to later bridge design elements. By modern - Rianni@crystyl:- standards most would consider it rustic, quaint!" NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "Which makes what you managed in the battle all the more impressive!" Rianni@crystyl:"Whilst I am sure it went some way to streamline things, minimize losses perhaps, I would also never claim it to be the reason we secured victory that day" NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "You still remember the events of that day in quite the detail, don't you?" Rianni@crystyl:"It is hard to forget such things, even with senility creeping in" she chuckles dryly NPC@annpc#557 | The interviewer nods, "Would you care to run us through the details of the battle, Admiral?" Rianni@crystyl leans in, retrieving a cup of tea, "I hope you're sitting comfortably then, because regardless of how history chooses to remember things, this is how things really played out that fateful day..." - Rianni@crystyl:- she sips, preparing to recount her story... --- NPC@annpc#557 | The scene transitions to the VF's CIC. As the end of the 12 hours draws nearer, and the Horde fleet along with it, Rianni prepares with the other personnel there NPC@annpc#557 | A door slides open and Jatila steps in, looking around the area Rianni@crystyl beavers away with the CT's to establish all the datafeeds and interlinks with the numerous other ships and designated wing commands Rianni@crystyl reads from their PADD NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila looks around the room slowly as she walks around, "So this is the CIC. I hope I'm not getting in the way here?" Rianni@crystyl turns, "Hm? Oh no, not at all! What brings you down here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila smiles, "I'm touring the ship. Not just to tour it, that is- though I haven't been here before. It wasn't particularly relevant to my work, so I wasn't brought here when I first came - NPC@annpc#557 - aboard." Rianni@crystyl:"Not a lot of people got the time for appointments, I'm guessing" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila nods, "I'm not just here on a walk, though. I'm working as well, just not by appointment." Rianni@crystyl:"I imagine there's a lot on your plate right now isn't there, with everyone all fired up ahead of what's about to come" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "That's why I'm here. There's no time to sit down and talk with anyone just before a battle, so I came up with this routine. Though the credit goes more to Captain Forsyth, really." Rianni@crystyl:"Captain Forsyth?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "He commanded the USS Tupac Inca, the second ship I served on as a ship counsellor. He would tour the ship before every difficult battle, and there were quite a few at the time with - NPC@annpc#557 - Klingon War underway and events slowly leading up to the Iconian invasion. It has its roots in human culture, I'm told, though it's spreading as a tradition through Starfleet as well in recent - NPC@annpc#557:- times. Forsyth picked it up from his days as a junior officer under Riker, who adopted it from Picard, who was probably the first Captain to do it in recent history." Rianni@crystyl:"In recent history, possibly. But it is actually an ancient naval tradition on Earth, believe it or not!" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "So that's what it was in human culture," she smiles. "I thought you'd know something about it. I suppose things were nice and peaceful for Starfleet for many decades before the - NPC@annpc#557 - mid-24th century, so captains didn't find themselves in any situations where they would do that. Which is why Picard's often credited with revitalizing the tradition now." Rianni@crystyl:"I heard he had quite the thing for ancient naval traditions. Like how on the Enterprise-D they apparently welcomed dignitaries on board with an old fashioned penny whistle and stuff!" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "Really? That I've never heard about. I remember Captain Dax telling a story about how Picard hosted a promotion party for Worf in the holodeck on an ancient Earth sailing ship with - NPC@annpc#557 - period uniforms and all that. Now it makes much more sense why..." Rianni@crystyl:"Ooh that sounds fun too!" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila nods, "It certainly sounded like quite a unique party! But yes, I started doing this when Captain Forsyth- I suppose he modified tradition by taking me along on those tours so I could - NPC@annpc#557 - check on the crew and help raise morale if needed." Rianni@crystyl smiles, "That's a good idea" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila smiles back, "That's why I always like to do it when I'm on a ship preparing for battle now." Rianni@crystyl looks around, "I think everyone's deal really well in here, all things considered I mean" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila looks around as well and nods, "I'd say so. Everyone seems focused. The success against the Architect earlier's done a lot of good for morale." Rianni@crystyl:"It certainly helped us in here. We learned a lot during that engagement, which is why everyone's so busy now trying to put it all to good use" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "I won't take up any more of your time, then. Good luck with the preparation. Oh, and good work with the CIC, I heard you were the one responsible for conceptualizing it." Rianni@crystyl:"I think it's grown a lot since my initial idea!" she chuckles, "You should see Pia's holosim she's doing for her ASDB thesis, that's the real brainchild!" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "I'll be sure to check it out the next time I have holodeck time. Coming up with the initial idea is a big step all on its own though, so you've contributed quite a lot! Keep up the - NPC@annpc#557 - good work, Ensign." She smiles as she turns to head out Rianni@crystyl:"Thanks, you too!" she waves and watches her leave briefly before someone calls her attention and she gets back to it --- NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later on the VF bridge, the viewscreen displays the surface of the Sphere much closer than normal with an entrance hatch in the distance and multiple other Coalition ships - NPC@annpc#557 - visible nearby as they await the arrival of the Horde fleet... NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "ETA for the Horde fleet is five minutes." Keelah@crystyl:"So the time is finally upon us. Very well, take us red alert Mr. Vrolmacht." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "Aye Captain." The bridge lighting switches to that of red alert as the VF prepares for the upcoming engagement... NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Incoming hail from the Colonial Baseship." Keelah@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora appears on the viewscreen, not wearing her usual uniform but one of the environmental suits worn by the eccentric Doshaie Tribe to preserve their lifespans. Vora's personal version is - NPC@annpc#557 - painted in the black and red of Colonial Fleet colours and looks to be modified to be closer to a suit of armour than an EV suit. Her helmet is off and on the central chair she is standing - NPC@annpc#557 - beside, "So, this is it. When we first met, you were still a fresh-faced captain doing basic surveys, patrols and rescue missions, and I was trying to raid convoys passing through the region - NPC@annpc#557 - your fleet was deployed in for supplies. Who'd have thought we'd be standing here now, the last line of defense for all life in this galaxy." Keelah@crystyl smiles faintly, "Life has a way of throwing us into the unexpected. It has been a long journey so far, but I for one look forward to the next leg" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "You and me both. But first, we've got to stop the Horde here. This isn't a fight any of us can back away from. It's victory or nothing- if the Horde win here, it's only a matter of time - NPC@annpc#557 - before they win everywhere. There's no holding back. If one of us doesn't make it through this in one piece, just know that I appreciate everything you've done for the New World. I don't know - NPC@annpc#557 - how much the Federation cares about what goes down out here, but to the Arshai and probably everyone else here in the Coalition, you'll always be remembered for how you helped us all." Keelah@crystyl:"Don't go writing us off just yet. No past tenses, ok? If you want to remember anything of us you'll have to outlive us first. And I for one intend on seeing out my Vulcan lifespan and seeing my - Keelah@crystyl:- daughter grow up. I am sure you can appreciate that thought, so let us agree to share a toast to victory with our daughters - all together when this is over, back on Vue En" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "Don't worry, I'm not /trying/ to die. And as plenty of people have seen, I'm not easy to kill, either." Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, I recall" she smiles, "Good. I will see you on the other side of this then" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora smiles back, "See you there, Keelah." Keelah@crystyl:"Supreme Commander" NPC@annpc#557 | The comm ends and the view changes back to that of the Sphere surface Keelah@crystyl glances to her side, "Tee, give me an all stations intercom" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, "Intercom open, Captain." Keelah@crystyl | closely followed by the familiar 'wee-oow' sounding from all consoles across the ship Keelah@crystyl:"All hands, this is the Captain. The Horde are about to descend upon us. It has been a long journey and not the one we signed up for when we left Federation space. But I want you all to know that it- Keelah@crystyl:-is one I would not change for anything. The upcoming battle will be hard, it will be gruelling. We would be naive to expect to come out of it without suffering casualties. So I want you all to look- Keelah@crystyl:- to your left, look to your right. Look into the eyes of your colleagues, and know that you have one another. We may be few in the face of the Horde numbers, but we are Starfleet. We are a family. - Keelah@crystyl:- And just as others have done before us, we will defy the odds! We will NOT let a single Horde thrall leave this sphere today; this far - no further. In the spirit of the light brigade; Boldly they- Keelah@crystyl:- rode into the jaws of death. Into the mouth of Hell, rode the six hundred..." she glances over to the door and smiles to herself, "...Though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death... I - Keelah@crystyl:- will fear NO evil. For you are with me, all of you. Stand ready and stand true, do your best and hold faith in your family and our friends out there and if the galaxy is willing, we will make it - Keelah@crystyl:- through this. All hands... battle stations" NPC@annpc#557 | The bridge is silent for a few seconds following Keelah's speech, before there is a single beep on TQ's console NPC@annpc#557 | TQ looks down, then over to Keelah, "They're here." Keelah@crystyl nods, "And so it begins" NPC@annpc#557 | The silence goes on for a while longer, before a muffled thud reverberates as something heavy impacts the Sphere and likely explodes. A few more seconds of quiet follows, then another thud, - NPC@annpc#557 - and another... NPC@annpc#557 | The sounds quicken like someone beating on a drum, then a heavy rainstorm. The metal of the nearby entrance hatch slowly begins to bend and warp under the pressure. Soon, some of it begins to - NPC@annpc#557 - glow under the intense heat of the barrage before it buckles completely NPC@annpc#557 Sound FX | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG__qXMrgQI&ab_channel=TwoStepsFromHell NPC@annpc#557 | A swarm of Horde ships begin piling through the gap like ants emerging from an anthill. The solar beam begins to channel and the massive ray of blue plasma bursts from the star, incinerating - NPC@annpc#557 - everything caught in its wake, eliminating dozens of Horde ships. It stems the tide, but only for a brief few moments. As the beam dissipates, the Horde charge in again. Tractor beam emitters - NPC@annpc#557 - on the inside of the hatch that the Horde had not been able to disable yet spring to action and push a few of them into one another. They are quickly taken out, but it buys enough time for - NPC@annpc#557 - the VF and other Coalition ships keeping their distance from the solar beam to close in NPC@annpc#557 | The Coalition ships rush in to meet the Horde, attempting to keep them in the bottleneck... NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Weapons powered and ready, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Take us into a defensive formation with the rest of the fleet and hold unti-" she glances down at a message on her console. Looking back up to the viewscreen, the Observer's ship is seen charging - Keelah@crystyl:- towards the breached hatch, "Stand by!" Keelah@crystyl:"It seems the Rianni's are up to their old tricks..." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "Aye, standing by." NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "What is she up to...?" Keelah@crystyl | Sure enough, the Observer's shuttle heads right into the hatchway and opens up a wormhole which actually engulfs some of the surrounding structure around the hatchway as well Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Tha' sneaky lil'... Cap'n, I'm-a trackin' tha' aperture an' she's gone an' opened a wormhole straight into th'star! She's tryin' a funnel th'Horde straight into it!" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Clever girls" Keelah@crystyl | TQ: "Message from the Observer Captain, she's requesting we stand by to transport her back as soon as her systems begin to overload. I don't think she's intending for her ship to survive this..." Keelah@crystyl:"Crystyl make sure her faith in us is not misplaced" NPC@annpc#557 | A number of Horde vessels are engulfed by the aperture as well, along with a few charging in too quickly to stop in time Keelah@crystyl | Crystyl nods, "Monitoring her status, we'll transport her if the ship becomes threatened" NPC@annpc#557 | The wormhole stops the advance of the remaining Horde ships for as long as her ship can hold the aperture... NPC@annpc#557 | The rest of the Horde fleet stops in time, but are unable to advance with the wormhole sucking them in if they get too close Keelah@crystyl | The shuttle can hold it for a very long time under normal circumstances, but all the weapons fire the Horde would throw at it would put serious strain on the system NPC@annpc#557 | The Horde do indeed quickly locate the source of the wormhole and begin taking shots at the shuttle from a safe distance Keelah@crystyl | The Observer monitors her systems and calls the VF to stand ready before accelerating forwards. Sensors show massive power buildup in the Observer's ship as it pushes forward, expanding the - Keelah@crystyl:- aperture as far as it can while forcing out into the waiting Horde armada NPC@annpc#557 | More Horde ships are consumed by the expanding aperture and the rest of the ships assaulting this hatch actually begin to slowly back away... Keelah@crystyl | The wormhole begins to destabilize, but a wide beam of energy surges towards the Observer's ship from the Thana Vaneri as it channels an energy transfer to bolster the plucky little ship as long - Keelah@crystyl:- as it can, but the sustained fire from the other side soon overwhelms the capacity of the small ship and the wormhole disappears, volleys of fire aimed at it soon passing straight through and - Keelah@crystyl:- pulverizing the small ship Keelah@crystyl glances over her shoulder expectantly Keelah@crystyl | Crystyl nods, "The Thana has her, Captain" Keelah@crystyl:"Speaking of the Orions, they must be about due to take point on containment with the Colonial generator ships" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "They are ready at all hatches. Hatch 6 has just activated gravity wells." NPC@annpc#557 | As the wormhole disappears, the Horde force assaulting the hatch VF is at advances forward once again... Keelah@crystyl watches as the OSN and Arshai ships do their thing NPC@annpc#557 | Several gravity wells spring into existence around the entrance hatch, distorting the space around it and wreaking havoc into the Horde ships, causing them to lose control and many crash into - NPC@annpc#557 - one another." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Hatch 4 has been breached and ships there are also activating gravity wells. Hatches 2, 3 and 5 are currently not under assault." Keelah@crystyl:"Understood. Be ready on tractor repulsors to push the debris back into the hatch" NPC@annpc#557 | As the gravity wells dissipate, more Horde ships begin pushing through once again... Keelah@crystyl | Lennie starts forcing the massive buildup of Horde debris into the path of oncoming ships in the hatch, corking the proverbial bottle NPC@annpc#557 | Multiple other ships around them join in and several Horde ships crash and explode, adding to the debris. The ones able to begin to back away...and this time they don't return NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Captain, they are moving off- likely to a different hatch." Keelah@crystyl:"Update those defense lines. Be ready to redeploy if called" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods and taps away at his console --- NPC@annpc#557 | In the CIC, Rianni is once again busy observing and coordinating fleet movements. She watches as the Horde backs away from the hatch the VF is helping guard, disappearing from sensors as they - NPC@annpc#557 - slink back into the sludge of the nebula NPC@annpc#557 | Hatches 4 and 6 are holding the Horde at bay with gravity wells, debris and conventional weapons fire, though the enemy there hasn't retreated and is continuing their assault Rianni@crystyl takes the opportunity to reaffirm the defensive lines at all locations NPC@annpc#557 | The defensive lines are successfully reaffirmed, but not long after, the display shows that Hatch 3 has come under assault, though the hatch has not yet been breached Rianni@crystyl continues to monitor it's status along with the others NPC@annpc#557 | Just like the other hatches, there is a breach before long. The Horde begins to pile in, but darts away almost immediately, allowing all but five ships to evade destruction by the solar beam NPC@annpc#557 | Once again, the tractor beams take out a few ships before the Horde disable them, but as the Coalition ships approach, the Horde don't even try to assault, backing away once again into the - NPC@annpc#557 - nebula. The assaults on hatches 4 and 6 cease as well Rianni@crystyl:"This is too intelligent..." NPC@annpc#557 | A few minutes pass with absolutely no combat, and then hatches 2 and 5, the last two unbreached hatches, begin registering attacks Rianni@crystyl:"They're just forcing an opening at each hatch... that means they're preparing to assault them all in unison in full force. Update all wings to prepare for massive counter attack!" NPC@annpc#557 | The comm officers quickly update all wings as hatches 2 and 5 are breached. Once again, they deftly evade the solar beams and take out the tractors, but this time they don't stop there, - NPC@annpc#557 - pressing the attack. As Rianni expected, attacks quickly resurface at hatch 6, then 4, then 3 and 1 until all hatches are under assault Rianni@crystyl focuses on playing her part by monitoring the bigger picture and routing fleet resources to each breach point while trying her best not to get caught up in the VF's immediate combat NPC@annpc#557 | Despite the larger Horde force and attack on all fronts, the Coalition wings are able to hold the Horde for a good while thanks to the bottleneck. However, as the fighting goes on, the Horde - NPC@annpc#557 - numbers become more of an advantage as Coalition ships begin going down and the Horde simply have additional numbers to throw at the hatches. Monitoring the breaches, Rianni notices over time - NPC@annpc#557 - that the Horde are not evenly redistributing their forces to all 6 points. Hatch 1, where the VF is at, along with 4 and 5, have very few casualties and not much trouble holding back the - NPC@annpc#557 - Horde, while 6 and 3 appear to be under particularly heavy assault, with 2 doing alright but still taking some casualties Rianni@crystyl redeploys assets to balance things against the Horde numbers and reinforce where needed NPC@annpc#557 | Before the ships Rianni redirects is able to reach hatch 6, the Horde manage to break through, their ships starting to make their way past the collapsing line at the bottleneck and into the - NPC@annpc#557 - Heart of War proper! Rianni@crystyl sends in the first reserve wave to contain them NPC@annpc#557 | The reserve wave rushes in along with the redirected ships, holding back the Horde just in time before the Coalition line can break completely, though by the time the Horde are pushed into the - NPC@annpc#557 - bottleneck again, most of the ships that made up the original line there are destroyed, disabled or badly damaged, relying on the fresh new ships to hold the hatch NPC@annpc#557 | Hatch 3 fares better, with the redeployed ships managing to hold the bottleneck without the line breaking, though there is significant loss still NPC@annpc#557 | The attacks on 3 and 6 begin to lessen, more so on 3 as the Horde continue to maintain a degree of pressure on 6. Meanwhile, a massive push occurs in Hatch 2 as the Horde suddenly go all in - NPC@annpc#557 - and the Coalition line there shows signs of breaking as well Rianni@crystyl does all she can to keep redistributing assets, but remains conscious that she's running out of assets to play with NPC@annpc#557 | She manages to maintain the bottleneck on 2, and reinforce 6 further, but she is indeed running out of assets and has very little available to redeploy when the Horde push on 4 and 6. This - NPC@annpc#557 - time, 6 manages to hold thanks to the reserves, but the Horde break through at 4 Rianni@crystyl runs projections on the current status of losses on both sides so far NPC@annpc#557 | The Horde have taken many more losses than the Coalition, but they also have significantly more ships to lose. If the ratio of losses on both sides continues exactly the same, the Coalition will - NPC@annpc#557 - win, though with less than 20% of its ships remaining. However, Rianni can see that the number of ships the Coalition has already lost, though smaller than the Horde, is proving to be - NPC@annpc#557 - troublesome for maintaining the bottlenecks, and the reason the ratio is so favourable is because of the bottleneck. When the Horde break through and fight in the open, the odds would probably - NPC@annpc#557 - quickly shift to their favour, with the Coalition's chances of victory becoming very uncertain Rianni@crystyl relays the analysis to Keelah and recommends calling in the Starfleet reinforcements NPC@annpc#557 | As Rianni makes her analysis and recommendations, the Horde continue to break through, with the line at 6 collapsing a second time, now for good. Attacks on 1, 2 and 5 cease altogether as the - NPC@annpc#557 - Horde begin to pour in through 4 and 6, their destination clearly towards the facility where Mia and Ziranar's team are at, the one with the gateway leading into the subspace facility which - NPC@annpc#557 - provides administrative control to the ship gateways Rianni@crystyl | Keelah acknowledges and gives the go ahead, so she relays the orders to gateway control NPC@annpc#557 | The team acknowledges as well and responds that they are beginning activation. Meanwhile, the first wave of the Horde that broke through get closer and closer towards the facility they are at - NPC@annpc#557 - as others continue streaming in from the breaches Rianni@crystyl deploys the wing stationed to defend the facility to intercept them NPC@annpc#557 | The wing deals with the first wave, but the rest of the Horde begin converging on the location, and it is clear they won't last long against subsequent waves. Hatches 1, 2 and 5 are completely - NPC@annpc#557 - quiet down with activity lowering from 3 as the Horde are redirecting most of their remaining ships to pile in from the two breached hatches to continue the battle in the open inside the Sphere Rianni@crystyl redeploys all forces to reinforce gateway control and the heaviest Horde assaults NPC@annpc#557 | Coalition ships reorganize to reinforce gateway control and hold back the Horde as more and more begin coming into the Heart of War... --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the VF's main bridge, the ship moves in to defend gateway control along with the other Coalitions ships on Hatch 1 NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Armour holding at 64%. All weapons are functional." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's try and keep that way then" NPC@annpc#557 | As they approach gateway control, the flashes of weapons fire can be seen in the distance as the ships defending there clean up the first wave and reform defensive lines NPC@annpc#557 | The Horde don't give them any time, with the second wave closing in as soon as more ships are inside the Sphere. The fighting starts up again and is in full swing by the time the VF and co. - NPC@annpc#557 - reach weapons range, with the fighting currently favouring the Horde, who are beginning to outnumber the defensive wing and also field a number of largely undamaged ships as opposed to the - NPC@annpc#557 - defenders having already been worn by the first wave NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "We're in weapons range, Captain. Keelah@crystyl:"Inform our wing we'll be targeting the heavy hitters, all vessels draw their attention from the defenders" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods and informs the other ships as Vrolmacht taps his console, "Phasers and torpedoes locked on targets." Keelah@crystyl:"Fire at will" NPC@annpc#557 | The VF's weapons join in the colours and flashes on the viewscreen as Vrolmacht unleashes a barrage of phasers and torpedoes on the nearby heavy hitters. The other ships join in and the - NPC@annpc#557 - Horde's attention do indeed turn on the new arrivals. The bridge shakes as several of the enemy ships open fire on the VF and sparks fall from a light on the ceiling NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Armour at 49%!" Keelah@crystyl:"Keep on the offensive. Helm, bring us about and roll us over" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht continues firing as Fisher carries out Keelah's orders, rolling the VF over as the weapons continue to pound away at the enemy ships NPC@annpc#557 | On the viewscreen, one of the Horde's heavy hitters explode from concentrated fire from the VF and several other ships, but another one slides in to take its place almost immediately Keelah@crystyl:"Focus on drawing their attention away from gateway control" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, doing his best to draw the Horde away rather than just dealing damage. Several more Horde ships still buckle under the firepower, but a few Coalition ships lose power or - NPC@annpc#557 - explode around them as well. The battle seems even now with the reinforcing ships coming in from the hatches and the Horde are being kept away from gateway control. All seems well until... NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "They are no longer attacking in waves. Incoming Horde ships from outside the Sphere are now immediately feeding into the attacking ships. We will be surrounded and outnumbered - NPC@annpc#557 - within ten minutes." Keelah@crystyl:"We need to contain them. What about the generator ships?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "There are too many friendlies engaging Horde ships in close vicinity for gravity wells, but they have reserved power to use the pulses once each." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "The pulses are not as effective as they once were with the Horde having learned to make use of their ships' autotargetting systems, but it should still throw off their coordination and - NPC@annpc#557 - at least buy us more time." Keelah@crystyl nods, "We need to do something, we'll have to trigger at least one for now" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ relays the instructions and a Colonial Fleet generator ship moves into position, escorted by a trio of Toroki raiders. The raiders keep the Horde ships off it, one of them going down in the - NPC@annpc#557 - process, but the generator ship is able to unleash its pulse. Like at Calahadon, the Horde ships continue to advance and fire, though more mindlessly so and unable to effectively coordinate - NPC@annpc#557 - targets. Though they still fight on, they lose the characteristic Horde efficiency, allowing the Coalition ships to begin pushing back. Most of the ships affected by the pulse are taken out - NPC@annpc#557 - in the next few minutes and the Horde seem to stop throwing themselves at the defensive line briefly as the new incoming ships unaffected by the pulse gather for another attack, giving the - NPC@annpc#557 - Coalition a moment to reaffirm their lines as well Keelah@crystyl | VF forms up alongside other defenders in a defensive formation to drive the Horde back NPC@annpc#557 | The Horde pushes forward again soon and the fighting resumes. The bridge shakes and Vrolmacht announces, "Armour down to 25%!" NPC@annpc#557 | A Coalition ship beside the VF explodes and Fisher pulls the ship aside sharply, managing to evade most of the explosion, but the bridge rattles from the shockwave and sounds of debris can be - NPC@annpc#557 - heard peppering the hull NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "16%!" Keelah@crystyl:"On the next evasive pass switch to standard shielding" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Aye Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Lennie's sensors register a large tachyon buildup followed by tetryon signals as something emerges from subspace... Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Cap'n, got somethin' comin' through from subspace" Keelah@crystyl glances over briefly, "Helm, keep us clear of the aperture" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher nods, keeping the VF clear. A few seconds later, a massive ship gateway emerges not far from the facility they are defending. It activates soon afterwards, a shimmering energy effect - NPC@annpc#557 - forming over the circular opening in its centre, with space and stars visible through it Keelah@crystyl:"This must be our reinforcements. All wings, cover the gateway, the Horde will try and make a run for it" NPC@annpc#557 | The Horde do indeed make a run for it, and Coalition ships quickly move to prevent them from reaching it. Vrolmacht deactivates the armour and switches over to regular shields as they move and - NPC@annpc#557 - the shields are in place by the time they meet the Horde again. The bridge begins shaking more and the shields flare up from the enemy weapons fire NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Shields dropping. 87%. 81." NPC@annpc#557 | As the VF and allies cover the gateway, the familiar forms of Starfleet vessels begin to emerge from it- an Avenger class cruiser, a Chimera class, a pair of Armitage classes and Hestia - NPC@annpc#557 - classes, a trio of variants of the Mercury-class escorts developed shortly before the Iconian War, and in the centre, a very distinctive refit Odyssey... NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/sto_gamepedia/images/c/ca/USS_Enterprise_%28NCC-1701-F%29_Refit.png/revision/latest?cb=20180124030633 NPC@annpc#557 Sound FX | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI9YYe-jgHI&t=28s&ab_channel=HDFilmTributes Keelah@crystyl:"Now there's a sight for sore eyes if ever there was one. Get an update from the flagship, we need to know how many more are coming through if we're to hold this gateway" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, "I have a channel open with them, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Shon appears on the viewscreen, with the characteristic bridge of the Odyssey class visible in the background NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://i.imgur.com/SO4uQaP.png NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Shon: "Admiral Torin said you could use the help. We'll follow your lead, you know the situation here better than any of us." Keelah@crystyl:"Captain Shon. Welcome to the Heart of War, quite literally at the moment. Your comm should be patched in to the fleet CIC shortly, I assume you still have something similar on the lower bridge - Keelah@crystyl:- there so it should not be a problem" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon nods, "We do, and the other Starfleet ships are prepared to patch in as well. The Romulan surveillance suites have been adapted for it too. I don't know how prepared the Klingons are, but - NPC@annpc#557 - I wouldn't be surprised if they have some good coordination setup either." Keelah@crystyl:"We don't need to patch in every ship directly, so I'm sure it will work out Captain. Do you have a quota for the forces coming through? As I'm sure you've already noticed, we have our backs to the - Keelah@crystyl:- proverbial wall protecting this gateway" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Shon: "346 total. 196 Starfleet vessels, 16 Romulan, around 100 from various Klingon Houses and a handful from other powers like the Gorn and the Cardassians." Keelah@crystyl smiles a little, "Seem Intelligence lived up to its name once more. Very well, form up on us and we'll protect the gateway while the rest come through. And don't hold back Captain, if even one - Keelah@crystyl:- individual thrall gets through that gateway this will all be for nothing" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon nods, "Understood. We won't let them get past us, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | As the first wave moves in and joins the battle, the second wave begins emerging from the gateway, first marked by the entrance of a huge Jupiter-class carrier escorted by a Saber and Defiant - NPC@annpc#557 - on either side, followed by a Luna-class leading a number of smaller Zephyrs, Pathfinders and a few of their older Intrepid predecessors NPC@annpc#557 | The Jupiter begins deploying its Valkyrie fighters as it nears the battle and the two Hestias activate their MVAM as they join the fighting, hitting the Horde forces hard NPC@annpc#557 | The third wave is once again led by a familiar ship; though the displays identify it as the USS Pembroke, Keelah is able to recognize it as the old Concorde-class USS Endeavour which - NPC@annpc#557 - Sam once commanded many years ago Keelah@crystyl:"Huh. So she got recommissioned..." NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "We're being hailed by the Pembroke, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's have it" NPC@annpc#557 | Alfred Voxazil, Sam's former XO on that ship, appears on the viewscreen, now sporting white shoulders and a fourth pip NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Voxazil: "It is agreeable to see you again, Captain Se'lai." Keelah@crystyl:"And you, Captain Voxazil. Congratulations on the promotion, a perfect choice for the old Endeavour" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Voxazil: "Thank you. Let us resolve this battle at hand, and we may reminisce afterwards." Keelah@crystyl:"I am sure Commander Leveson-Scott will welcome the chance for that as well, stay sharp and give them no quarter Captain" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Voxazil nods, "The Pembroke will hold nothing back, Captain." --- NPC@annpc#557 | The battle rages on and the Horde continues to try to make it to the gateway, but with the addition of fresh reinforcements constantly moving through on the Coalition's side as well, they are - NPC@annpc#557 - kept at bay. Klingon, Romulan, Gorn and Cardassian ships begin coming through after the Starfleet ones, as well as a few mercenary forces of various origins accompanying them. A Ferengi - NPC@annpc#557 - Marauder and an unaffiliated escort flies in with the small force of Cardassian ships, the Gorn fleet are supplemented by Nausicaan vessels, which also support some of the Klingon groups along - NPC@annpc#557 - with a few ships of Lethean and Ferasan design NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "These are not KDF vessels. They are forces of varying Houses, including those of five Great Houses." Keelah@crystyl:"Interesting, but I suppose things are constantly changing back home too so I should not be surprised" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, tapping on his console, "Sensors are showing contacts coming through from Hatch 1. Not Horde- Borg vessels. One tactical cube, four regular cubes, eleven Spheres and a number - NPC@annpc#557 - of assimilated ships. They are heading towards the battle." NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "The Enterprise is hailing us again." Keelah@crystyl:"Put it through" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Shon appears on the viewscreen again, "We're seeing Borg on sensors. Something we should be worried about?" Keelah@crystyl:"Absolutely. But not now, Captain. We have an understanding with them, and as long as the Horde threat remains, these Borg are on our side. But as soon as the Horde is defeated, expect them to turn - Keelah@crystyl:- on us" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon nods, "I'd expect nothing less. We'll be ready when the Horde are gone." Keelah@crystyl:"There is a plan to liberate them, but it will require containing them while the Heart of War recharges. For now though, they have already cut down a significant portion of the Horde forces so the - Keelah@crystyl:- best thing would be to stay out of their way and let them have at it" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Shon: "You don't have to tell me twice, I know all too well what happens when you're in the Borg's way. We'll leave them be until the Horde are dealt with." Keelah@crystyl nods NPC@annpc#557 | The Borg ships attack the side of the Horde fleet while they are busy rushing the gateway. Between them, the new reinforcements and the remaining Coalition forces inside the Sphere, the Horde - NPC@annpc#557 - begin to pull back. Their stream of reinforcements from outside the Sphere gets thinner and thinner until it tapers off, with the full Horde force now inside the Sphere, or what remains of it NPC@annpc#557 | Their numbers are far short of the initial four thousand they arrived with; while they still outnumber allied forces, a swarm tactic would no longer be viable. Combat ceases as the Horde - NPC@annpc#557 - regroup for whatever their next move may be... Keelah@crystyl uses the opportunity to recover things and aid others while the fresher aggressive elements including the Borg and Klingons continue to press the attack and not give the Horde a chance to regroup NPC@annpc#557 | The Borg and Klingons do indeed press the attack, supported by Guardian and Lupan forces. The Romulan and newer, more advanced Cardassian ships on the other hand activate cloaks as soon as the - NPC@annpc#557 - Horde break off, leaving only a few old Galors and the mercenary ships to support the recovering Coalition line --- NPC@annpc#557 | The Horde meanwhile seem to be retreating, but not outside the Sphere. Down in the CIC, Rianni spots that they seem to be circling around the Sphere while evading their pursuers... Keelah@crystyl | Rianni directs allied forces the opposite way, using the infrastructure for cover to ambush the circling Horde armada and catch them in a pincer with the pursuing forces and cloakers NPC@annpc#557 | Before the allied forces are able to intercept however, the Horde makes a sharp turn inward, now making their target clear as one of the omega power generators. Fortunately, the redirecting - NPC@annpc#557 - puts the allied forces much closer and in a position to intercept! Keelah@crystyl | Rianni directs them accordingly NPC@annpc#557 | The forces move in and intercept the Horde fleet. Between the pursuers in the back and the defenders in the front, the Horde are attacked from two fronts and take significant damage, but they - NPC@annpc#557 - focus most of their efforts on the front and the intercepting group take heavy losses and begin to be pushed further and further back towards the omega generators... Keelah@crystyl | VF and other Starfleet wings move in to support --- NPC@annpc#557 | Back on the bridge, as the VF and Starfleet wings close in to the new site of battle, the field flares up with an unusual explosion as the central Regulator ship goes down. Lennie detects - NPC@annpc#557 - multiple survivors all around, having ejected from their ship in their suits Keelah@crystyl | VF focuses on recovering survivors with its multiple transporters while everyone else joins in the action NPC@annpc#557 | A few other of the Starfleet support vessels join in helping recover survivors while the remainder support the defenders. TQ is kept busy at her station from the steady stream of fleet chatter - NPC@annpc#557 - over comms through the heated battle. Some of the older Starfleet ships buckle under the pressure of the battle and even a few of the newer classes caught in the thick of the crossfire go - NPC@annpc#557 - down or are disabled, adding to the number of survivors and escape pods to recover. A small squadron waits some distance away from the battle, protecting an Olympic and a Hope class hospital - NPC@annpc#557 - ship as overflowing wounded are ferried over to them Keelah@crystyl | VF helps recovering survivors and transferring them to the hospital ships NPC@annpc#557 | After a few trips, as the VF makes its way from the hospital ships back to the battlefield, they notice the Horde fleet splitting into two groups, the larger one continuing the assault on the - NPC@annpc#557 - omega generators while a splinter force heads deeper into the centre of the Sphere, likely making a beeline for the star. Lennie's sensors read traces of trilithium torpedoes on several of - NPC@annpc#557 - these ships; as expected the Horde must be trying to cripple the Sphere by targeting the omega generators and the sun itself now that their chances of taking control or using the gateways are - NPC@annpc#557 - dropping! Keelah@crystyl | VF joins the defense against the main force while Klingon and Lupan wings are directed to defend the sun NPC@annpc#557 | As the Klingons and Lupan pursue the group headed for the sun, the Romulans and Cardassians decloak in front of the splinter force's path. Despite their significantly smaller numbers, they - NPC@annpc#557 - target the trilithium ships, taking out two before they break off and make their escape NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, the fighting at the omega generator continues to be intense, though the Coalition is holding the line against the main force. There are casualties on both sides and the VF take a - NPC@annpc#557 - few hits, shaking the bridge and lowering their shields to half, but things are going a little too smoothly... NPC@annpc#557 | Just as everyone begins to think this, TQ announces, "Lander One reports they have detected a Horde stealth wing in the process of sneaking around the battle to the generators!" NPC@annpc#557 | At the same time the stealth wing is revealed, the splinter group suddenly turns about and faces the Klingon and Lupan head on...save for the trilithium ships, who all execute short-range warp - NPC@annpc#557 - jumps, closing the distance rapidly to the star! Keelah@crystyl:"Well, we've done it before. Helm, execute a warp jump and get us between those strays and the star" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "Aye Captain, on it!" NPC@annpc#557 | The VF breaks off from the fighting, turning towards the star. Two other ships, the Pembroke and a Hermes-class USS Marathon get the same idea. The three ships execute their warp jumps... NPC@annpc#557 | For a brief moment the space stretches out ahead of them, then the bright blue star is shining in front of them, taking up almost the whole screen. The VF and Pembroke appear almost perfectly - NPC@annpc#557 - side by side, but the Marathon exits warp further ahead of them, appearing as a small speck in the distance. Lennie's sensors instantly show that it has jumped too far and is - NPC@annpc#557 - being pulled in by the star's powerful gravitational force Keelah@crystyl curses under her breath, "Take us in, stand by tractor beams" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher nods and takes the VF in and the Pembroke follows beside them. Both ships' shields flare up, but not as heavily as the Marathon's, which are dropping rapidly and nearing failure Keelah@crystyl:"Time to range?" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "Thirty-seven seconds at full impulse!" Keelah@crystyl:"Make every second count" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Shields at 49% and dropping." NPC@annpc#557 | The VF and Pembroke push through, and 37 seconds later, they enter tractor range of the Marathon! Keelah@crystyl | Lennie activates as soon as they are in range NPC@annpc#557 | Pembroke locks tractors on the Marathon as well, and with what power the smaller ship can give, they are able to pull the Marathon away safely! NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Trilithium ships inbound in half a minute." NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Marathon reports their shields and weapons are disabled. They are unable to assist." Keelah@crystyl:"Tell them to hang back. Helm, bring us about. Mr. Vrolmacht, we're the last line - whatever it takes" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Aye Captain. Shields holding at 41%, all weapons ready to go." Keelah@crystyl:"Make it happen" NPC@annpc#557 | The six trilithium ships close in, dividing into two groups of three, each engaging one of the Starfleet cruisers. The bridge rocks again as the firing begins, Vrolmacht unleashing everything - NPC@annpc#557 - on the Horde ships to take them out before they can fire on the star. Beside them, the Pembroke fights against the same odds, its shields likewise weakened from prior combat and the - NPC@annpc#557 - Marathon's misadventure around the sun NPC@annpc#557 | Both ships are forced to evade to survive against the enemy's larger numbers, but they move closer towards the star, putting themselves in between the Horde and their target Keelah@crystyl:"Is the Marathon able to fire a pulse?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Negative, they're suffering from major failures from the solar heat and radiation they endured." Keelah@crystyl:"Well then, I suppose we could fire one and leave the Pembroke to sweep up" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Are you certain, Captain? With the power we have already expended, that would leave us with only enough for life support and other critical functions." Keelah@crystyl:"I would rather not, but we can't let those ships through. Unless there are any other suggestions?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal shakes his head, "I have no better ideas." Keelah@crystyl:"Then we will have to risk it. Inform the Pembroke we will be relying on them while we recover" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, tapping her console, "The Pembroke is hailing us." Keelah@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Voxazil appears on the viewscreen, with sparks flying on the bridge behind him as the engagement continues, "Captain, the Pembroke has been participating in the battle for less time - NPC@annpc#557 - and therefore possesses a greater power reserve. It would be logical for us to fire the pulse." Keelah@crystyl:"The faster recovery time may be beneficial... very well, we will take them out as quick as we can" NPC@annpc#557 | The fellow Vulcan captain nods and ends the comm. The Pembroke turns around, firing a volley of quantum torpedoes to dissuade the three Horde on it as it fires the pulse... Keelah@crystyl:"Use the Nuhar squadron and hit them with everything before they recover" NPC@annpc#557 | The six ships stop advancing towards the star but continue auto-performing the last actions its computers were instructed to do- attack the ships in its way. The Nuhar squadron - NPC@annpc#557 - finishes off one of the destroyers while the VF downs the heavy cruiser on it, leaving only a light cruiser on its side. The Pembroke however, having expended its energy on the pulse, loses - NPC@annpc#557 - shields, with the three Horde ships around it still continuing to pound away at its now unprotected hull... Keelah@crystyl | VF presses its attack on all fronts to remove the Horde threat NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher turns to deal with the other three while Vrolmacht launches aft torpedoes at the one still on the VF, softening it as the Nuhar squadron swoops in and finishes it off. The ship darts - NPC@annpc#557 - towards the ships on the Pembroke, firing all fore weapons and taking out the destroyer dealing the most damage to the Pembroke at the moment. As it begins opening fire on the heavy cruiser, - NPC@annpc#557 - the Horde seem to break out of their trance and regain control of the ship from its automated systems. The heavy cruiser and other destroyer immediately breaks off from the heavily damaged - NPC@annpc#557 - Pembroke, picking two different vectors to head to the star NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "That's not good...we only have time to chase down one of them before the other reaches the star!" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Incoming message from the Pembroke- text only. It reads: 'Pursue the destroyer.'" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Captain, escape pods are launching from the Pembroke." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Intercept the destroyer. They are up to something" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher nods, "Aye Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | VF turns and pursues the destroyer, firing all forward weapons as it goes. It does not take long for the destroyer to buckle under the attack and explode. Meanwhile, the heavy cruiser - NPC@annpc#557 - runs at the star from a different vector and the Pembroke breaks into pursuit, the last few escape pods launching as it does. Severely damaged, it leaves a trail of plasma in its wake from one - NPC@annpc#557 - nacelle and fires no weapons, simply charging the Horde heavy cruiser at full impulse. The Horde cruiser realizes what it is up to and tries to throw it off, but someone must be remaining on - NPC@annpc#557 - board as the Pembroke matches its movement and continues pursuit. Something lights up on the side of the Horde ship, likely a tractor beam generator, but it is down and simply flickers out. It - NPC@annpc#557 - opts to fire everything, running out of options. Disruptors and torpedoes pound away at the Pembroke, taking chunks out of its saucer until half of it is virtually disintegrated, but the ship - NPC@annpc#557 - continues onwards, the remaining saucer slamming into the enemy ship and embedding itself there like jaws clamping down on it. Before it can struggle free, the Pembroke core goes critical, - NPC@annpc#557 - shattering the two intertwined ships into debris NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "All enemy contacts in the area are down. The fighting continues at the omega generators." Keelah@crystyl:"Sweep for survivors" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Recovery operations're underway. Looks like most of th'Pembroke's crew survived, got 83% survival" Keelah@crystyl:"Get everyone on board then return to the fight" NPC@annpc#557 | After a few minutes of collecting escape pods, Crystyl gets the survivors on board and learns that Captain Voxazil is among the survivors Keelah@crystyl perks a brow at the news, "If he is well, please invite him to join us up here" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ sends the invitation and soon afterwards, the turbolift door slides open and Alfred steps onto the bridge NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Voxazil: "I apologize if the maneuver was unexpected. I would have provided more detail, but regrettably the comm system was very limited at the time." Keelah@crystyl looks over, "Captain. It was a bold move, but the right one. We have recovered your crew, minimal losses overall. I am curious though, who remained on board to trigger the breach?" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Voxazil: "Assistant Chief Engineer McGowan and helmswoman Provis. I had intended to remain, but Provis convinced me that her skill at the helm was superior to mine and it would be - NPC@annpc#557 - illogical to sacrifice my life needlessly if I did not perform a critical function. McGowan and four other crewmembers were trapped in Main Engineering and the transporters were down. Unfortunately, - NPC@annpc#557 - evacuation was not an option for them, nor was my replacing their sacrifice." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. You have my sympathies for their loss, but it is important to me for them to be remembered" looks to the side, "Are all survivors accounted for now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Voxazil nods, "They are, and the wounded are being moved to your sickbays now." Keelah@crystyl:"Then we must return to the front line. Helm" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher nods, "Aye Captain. At impulse this time, I assume." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Full impulse" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher taps away at his console and the VF moves back towards the battlefield at full impulse. As they travel, Lennie picks up tachyon and tetryon signatures again... Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Cap'n, another gateway looks t'be poppin' up!" Keelah@crystyl:"Another? More Starfleet reinforcements?" she looks to Alfred NPC@annpc#557 | Alfred shakes his head, "I am unaware of any further reinforcements." --- NPC@annpc#557 | The screen fades into a middle-aged Lodzki male in a uniform. Text in the bottom left reads: 'Captain Jaslaw Kalinsi, Commanding Officer, HKS Golden Basilisk. NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "I normally start off by saying thank you for joining us in the Heart of Unity, but your ship is one of the ones current posted inside the Sphere, so- thank you for coming here to - NPC@annpc#557 - this interview to share your experiences with us, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Jaslaw: "The battle was still quite recent by Lodzki standards, but I understand many other species here do not have the lifespans we do, and I would not want anyone to forget the importance - NPC@annpc#557 - of the Battle of the Heart." NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "Indeed. This battle was the first time you became a Captain, is that right?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jaslaw: "That is right. I was the second officer on the HKS Tynar at the time. It was during the first stages of the Horde attack on the Sphere, when the Horde first broke through Hatch 6, or - NPC@annpc#557 - was in the process of doing so. Tynar's bridge took a direct hit and everyone there was killed, including the commanding and first officers. I was next in command, so I took charge of the ship." NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "I'm sorry. That must have been a rough start to your career as captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Jaslaw: "It was a difficult battle for all of us. When the Horde began pouring through the hatches, we weren't certain if any of us would survive that day." NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "How did you get through that?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jaslaw: "As my mentor always liked to say, focus on the present. It is good advice for anyone, but especially important to a Lodzki, as many of us have long pasts and possibly a long future - NPC@annpc#557 - ahead. Dwelling too far on either is never healthy. I had the crew focus on repairing the ship. The attack left us disabled and we were unable to participate in further hatch defense, or the - NPC@annpc#557 - gateway defense that followed. We rejoined the battle by the time the reinforcements had all arrived and the Horde moved around the Sphere. The Tynar and other ships were initially intended to - NPC@annpc#557 - ambush them, but it became intercept and defend when they began to head for the generators. By then, we had made our ship combat-ready again despite the damage we took and were...I am not sure - NPC@annpc#557 - if we were truly more confident, or if we had accepted that this may be our last day and had gotten past fear to a stage where we decided we had nothing to lose." NPC@annpc#557 | Interviewer: "How did things go when you rejoined the fighting?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jaslaw: "It was as uncertain and difficult as before. There were moments when it seemed like defeat was at hand, and then we would turn the tide, and they would turn it yet again. Until of - NPC@annpc#557 - course, the final moments where all things were decided... --- NPC@annpc#557 | The camera fades to Mia, Ziranar and their security escort inside the subspace facility where they brought in the reinforcements. With the forces through and the gateway returned to subspace - NPC@annpc#557 - safely away from the Horde, the team begin making their way back towards the gateway that would take them to the facility in regular space inside the Sphere NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "I hope these reinforcements were enough to turn the tide..." Mia@crystyl:"As do we" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "I wish we could do more from here. Maybe Professor Lycas can figure out other Sphere functions that can help the battle from the control station." Mia@crystyl:"The Iconians were notorious for using their gateway technology in battle to channel solar flares into the combat arena. Like... portable space turrets. If we can control the gateways, perhaps we can- Mia@crystyl:- determine a means to replicate this effect" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar nods, "Perhaps, but these require more intricate manipulation of gateways than bringing an existing structure out of subspace and activating it. Even Lycas can't figure out - NPC@annpc#557 - how to control remote gateways yet." NPC@annpc#557 | As they walk, Miadrone's sensors pick up movement and lifeforms in the distance... NPC@annpc#557 | The rest of the team notices it too as they pause on one of the walkways. The security personnel pause, holding their rifles at the ready as a line of hooded figures move along a walkway in - NPC@annpc#557 - the area, one of the same ones the team had used earlier to be exact. These figures are heading the opposite way however, towards the gateway controls the team had just departed from Mia@crystyl:"Were we expecting additional support...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar shakes her head, "They couldn't have come from the gateway, otherwise we probably would've run into them on the way." NPC@annpc#557 | Delaan: "How did they get in here, then?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "I...don't know. Maybe there's another gateway we don't know about?" Mia@crystyl:"There is one way to find out..." NPC@annpc#557 | Nishaa nods, "We'll take point, in case they're hostile." Mia@crystyl nods and follows the security to find and greet the visitors NPC@annpc#557 | As the security escort leads the way closer to the visitors, Miadrone's sensors pick up more clearer readings, including the distinctive solanogen-based molecular structure. In addition to the - NPC@annpc#557 - hooded appearance, there is little question what these are... Mia@crystyl:"Ms. Nishaa, we believe these are Solanae" NPC@annpc#557 | Nishaa: "Solanae? What are they doing here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "We're in subspace right now. This might be their home. Maybe they're coming to figure out what /we're/ doing here." Mia@crystyl:"A distinct possibility" NPC@annpc#557 | Delaan: "They're continuing to move towards the gateway access. Should we intercept or continue following?" Mia@crystyl:"We believe it may be prudent to establish communication before they inadvertently do something to hamper the ongoing battle" NPC@annpc#557 | Nishaa: "Do we have their language in our universal translators? Do they even talk?" Mia@crystyl:"If there is anything available, we have access to it" NPC@annpc#557 | Delaan nods, "Let us approach them, then. If they attack, we will cover you." Mia@crystyl nods and progresses towards the visitors until she in earshot, "Um, excuse us! Allo?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Solanae all pause, slowly and ominously turning around, revealing their fish-like faces... NPC@annpc#557 FX | https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/b/ba/Solanogen-based_lifeform.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140707212715&path-prefix=en Mia@crystyl gives a cheery little wave, "Allo! We hope we are not intruding on your home here, but we had to activate the Sphere gateways" NPC@annpc#557 | One of the Solanae steps forward, letting out a series of clicking noises. Mia recognizes it as the way Solanae communicate, but there is no available translation Mia@crystyl:"Oh my, it appears we do not have your language in our database. Do... you understand us?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Solanae emits more clicks before tapping on something in its robes. The security escort grips their rifles at the ready, but nothing happens...yet Mia@crystyl holds her hand up to the security folks, watching and waiting, "We are friends, and we think you know what is happening in the Sphere, yes?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Solanae clicks again. The team catches movement out of the corner of their eye and the security turn to see a drone headed towards them. They are ready to spring to action, though Mia's - NPC@annpc#557 - sensors identify it as one of the non-combat types that they've encountered in the Sphere, with no weapons Mia@crystyl:"Non! Wait a moment, this is not a combat drone. These are friendly drones!" NPC@annpc#557 | The security personnel lower their rifles, but still observe warily as a drone swoops down beside the Solanae. A voice emanates from it, this one picked up by the UT as the last known - NPC@annpc#557 - incarnation of the Iconian language just prior to their fall, which is recognized by the translator! NPC@annpc#557 | Drone: "Speak now." Mia@crystyl:"Allo! Can you understand us now?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Solanae clicks and the drone seems to translate for it, "Yes. We understand now." Mia@crystyl:"That is a relief, thank you for accommodating communications! Is this your home? We meant no intrusion but there is great danger at the sphere known as the Heart of War and we are trying to help" NPC@annpc#557 | Solanae: "No. This is not home. We exist in subspace, but not all of subspace is our home. As not all of your space is your home." Mia@crystyl:"We understand. Why then, are you here now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Solanae: "We come at the behest of others who know also of this great danger. We must proceed with our task." NPC@annpc#557 | The Solanae in the front of the group already begin to turn and continue on their way Mia@crystyl:"Others? May we ask who these others are?" she asks curiously, trotting to catch up with them NPC@annpc#557 | Solanae: "The ones whose language we are using to communicate with you now." NPC@annpc#557 | The Solanae make their way into the area where the gateways are controlled from, spreading themselves out across the room as they deftly operate the consoles, with much more familiarity than - NPC@annpc#557 - even Mia or Lycas Mia@crystyl:"You speak of the Iconiaans, are you enabling the gateways for them to return here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Solanae: "Yes." NPC@annpc#557 | A large hologram of a ship gateway flickers to life in the centre of the room... Mia@crystyl:"This is fortunate. Right...?" she looks to the others NPC@annpc#557 | Ziranar: "That depends on what they intend..." She looks at the Solanae. "What /do/ they intend?" NPC@annpc#557 | Solanae: "Unknown." --- NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile on the VF, this other gateway appears like before, activating as it settles in regular space, though to what destination is unknown... NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "The Horde are not attempting to make for the gateway. Their remaining forces have consolidated back into a single fleet and is beginning to surround the omega generators and the - NPC@annpc#557 - Coalition forces defending it. The Klingons and Lupan are caught outside the encirclement and attempting to break the siege, but to little avail." Keelah@crystyl:"Whoever is coming through this gateway, we must ensure no Horde forces decide to make a run for it" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "Altering course to the gateway now." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "I suggest we perform anti-cloaking scans. There are no ships on sensors moving towards it, but it is possible the Horde may hope to sneak through without us knowing." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Proceed" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, tapping on his console, "All clear for now." Keelah@crystyl:"Maintain active sweeps" NPC@annpc#557 | The VF continues sweeps as Fisher moves them towards the new gateway Keelah@crystyl:"Any sign of activity from the gateway?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "It is powered up, but nothing has come through as of yet." NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "We have cloaked ships! One battleship supported by four raiders, heading towards the gateway." Keelah@crystyl:"Target the battleship. Torpedoes, full spread" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, "Aye Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | The torpedoes fly towards the battleship, but the raiders turn around, intercepting some of them. The ones that make it to the battleship are taken out by its point defense as the battleship - NPC@annpc#557 - raises shields and circles around, returning fire on VF. Two of the raiders similarly turn to support the battleship and cover as the other two push to full impulse and make a run for the - NPC@annpc#557 - gateway Keelah@crystyl:"Ignore those turning on us and destroy the raiders making a run for the gateway" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher nods and goes into pursuit as Vrolmacht targets the raiders. A barrage of fire takes down the first one as the second continues its run, while the battleship and two other raiders chase - NPC@annpc#557 - the VF in turn, firing away. The bridge shakes and sparks fly from both the ceiling and the consoles as Vrolmacht announces, "Shields at 16% and dropping!" Keelah@crystyl:"Reroute power to the aft arcs, draw from life support if you have to. But we are not letting that raider through the gateway" NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht nods, tapping away quickly on his console. Fisher is likewise concentrated in catching up with the raider, which evades most of the next volley, but Vrolmacht manages to catch it - NPC@annpc#557 - with the third and spirals out of control, trailing plasma behind it before it detonates a few kilometres short of the gateway. The VF's bridge rocks again, not from the explosion, but the - NPC@annpc#557 - shots from the remaining Horde ships NPC@annpc#557 | Vrolmacht: "Shields failing!" Keelah@crystyl:"Bring us about, retarget the lead vessel" NPC@annpc#557 | The VF spins around, targeting the lead vessel and firing as the battleship fires back. The viewscreen flares up before the bridge shakes more violently than before, throwing most of the - NPC@annpc#557 - non-seated crew to the floor. Vrolmacht braces onto his console as he continues to fire, but his console explodes, sending him flying back before he hits the ground with a thud. The central - NPC@annpc#557 - light explodes into a shower of sparks as various other lights and consoles begin flickering out Keelah@crystyl shields her face from the explosion above, "Status?" NPC@annpc#557 | Alfred rushes over to a still functional console, tapping on it, "Hull breach on decks 7 and 8. Twelve wounded, two fatalities and three still unaccounted for. Forward beams and dorsal weapons - NPC@annpc#557 - are offline save for one array." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal meanwhile gets up and checks on Vrolmacht, being the closest, "He is unconscious but alive." Keelah@crystyl | Lennie calls for medical assistance to the bridge for Vrolmacht Keelah@crystyl:"Mr. Vusal, can you cover tactical?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, "Aye Captain." Keelah@crystyl looks to Alfred, "Captain, please cover engineering. If your surviving crew can disperse and assist, all the better" NPC@annpc#557 | Alfred nods, "I will instruct them to provide any assistance they are able." Keelah@crystyl:"Helm, bring us about. We have to protect the gateway. Vusal, be ready to destroy the gateway if needed" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal meanwhile taps on another console, "Ships are beginning to emerge from the gateway." Keelah@crystyl:"ID?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "Elachi and Iconian." Keelah@crystyl stares a moment at the screen, "Well I'll be..." NPC@annpc#557 | The viewscreen glows as a beam of solar energy hits the battleship, obliterating its shields as the signature crescents of Elachi weapons fire tear it apart. A massive Iconian dreadnought - NPC@annpc#557 - comes into view as it flies over the VF and the raiders immediately begin veering away. The dreadnought opens fire with a single sweeping beam, instantly destroying one raider and disabling - NPC@annpc#557 - the other, leaving it adrift before the dreadnought's path. The dreadnought doesn't stop its advance and the raider slams into it and explodes. The dreadnought shrugs off the explosion - NPC@annpc#557:- completely, showing no sign of damage as it just keeps going. Smaller Iconian and Elachi ships appear all around, from above, below and beside the VF NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "The lead Iconian ship is broadcasting on open comms." Keelah@crystyl:"Let's hear it" NPC@annpc#557 | An Iconian War era Iconian appears on the viewscreen, accompanied by two Heralds NPC@annpc#557 | Iconian: "I am T'Kay. I speak for what remains of my people. We have come to honour our ancient pledge as the Vanguard of the Children. Together we shall rid this Sphere of the - NPC@annpc#557 - Horde infestation." Keelah@crystyl:"Open a channel to respond" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, "Channel open, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"T'Kay, this is Captain T'Keel Se'Lai on the Valley Forge. Firstly, I must express some gratitude for your timely arrival. We are coordinating allied fleet movements from this ship, stand by to - Keelah@crystyl:- receive coordination details. The Horde is already severely reduced in numbers, but now they are getting volatile and desperate so it is imperative that we coordinate on all fronts" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "We are standing by." NPC@annpc#557 | The turbolift door opens as two medics rush into the bridge to help Vrolmacht. Meanwhile, even more ships begin emerging from the gateway Keelah@crystyl:"We are still very new to the Sphere, and your technology. If you can see that anything is being... under utilized against the Horde, then please let us know. We are currently charging the Heart for- Keelah@crystyl:- the pulse to end the Horde. Estimated time remaining-" she looks to her side for an update NPC@annpc#557 | TQ taps her console, "Nine hours." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "We will ensure the Sphere's capabilities are utilized to its full extent." Keelah@crystyl nods and repeats to T'Kay, "9 hours. After which we need to hold out against the Borg remnants who are currently assisting against the Horde" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "We understand. The Heart of War shall not fall into enemy hands." Keelah@crystyl:"We are all here to ensure that does not happen. I am only sorry that your return here was not under more welcoming circumstances" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "At least we came in time, and not to find the Sphere already under Horde control." Keelah@crystyl:"It is agreeable to be fighting beside you this time. There will be much to discuss when this is over, but for now we must focus on the Horde" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "Agreed. My Heralds have analyzed the ongoing battle. Our additional forces should allow for the complete purging of their presence from the Sphere." Keelah@crystyl:"I have the same assessment from my CIC. Then let's end this, once and for all" Keelah@crystyl absolutely did not have the confirmation from CIC, but will be damned if she's going to be one-upped by an Iconian --- NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile down in the CIC, Rianni watches as more and more Iconian and Elachi signatures pop out of the new gateway... NPC@annpc#557 | Before long, the new forces are patched into the CIC, and Rianni finds 300 Iconian and Elachi vessels added to the available assets Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "Damn, I did not think to brush on Iconian assets. Let alone Elachi! We're going to have to figure a lot more capability as we go here" NPC@annpc#557 | Meanwhile, the majority of the remaining Coalition forces continue to face off at the generator, with the Horde having encircled the defenders and pushing ever closer inwards, though not - NPC@annpc#557 - without significant losses on their side as well due to the Klingons and Lupans' repeated strikes to break the circle from the outside Keelah@crystyl | Rianni is hard at work from the moment the Iconians and Elachi arrive, splitting them into numerous wings and sending some to bolster weakened allied wings. With the full count in play she - Keelah@crystyl:- directs the new arrivals to form up with the Klingon and Lupan forces to encircle the encirclement and trap the Horde between two fronts NPC@annpc#557 | Despite the large numbers of the Horde fleet, the sheer power of the Iconian ships and the ability of the Elachi ones to jump around allows them to contain the Horde encirclement alongside the - NPC@annpc#557 - Klingons and Lupan. Seeing the new reinforcements, the ships by the generator fight back harder than ever and the Horde find themselves trapped within, their numbers flickering away rapidly on - NPC@annpc#557 - CIC display NPC@annpc#557 | Strange signatures pop up as the Iconians activate solar gateways for additional support or energy gateways to reinforce their shields and power. Before long, the Horde stops trying to push - NPC@annpc#557 - inwards and focus entirely on pushing out as their numbers dip below that of the Coalition's Keelah@crystyl | Rianni focuses on the bigger picture, redirecting ships and splitting up task forces to bolster weak points or cover weakened allied ships who need to pull back NPC@annpc#557 | Rianni's efforts reinforce the Coalition formation and save a few weakened ships. As the Horde grow thinner and thinner in the crossfire, a few small groups manage to break from the - NPC@annpc#557 - outer circle, but the Elachi and several Regulator ships jump in front of them, finishing them off before they get far without even needing to pursue NPC@annpc#557 | Soon, the Horde numbers dip into the hundreds before flickering away entirely, with the Sphere reading clear of enemy contacts once again! Keelah@crystyl | Rianni scans around her sensors of the wider field, "Is... is that it? It's over...?" Keelah@crystyl | She clearly can't believe it NPC@annpc#557 | The others in the CIC share glances with each other as well, just as surprised. On the CIC, the Borg signals suddenly show movement, but they are not moving on the Coalition forces as - NPC@annpc#557 - expected. Instead, the remaining three cubes, handful of spheres and the ships they had assimilated seem to be pulling out, heading for the hatch they came in from Keelah@crystyl | Rianni: "The Borg are retreating?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Iconian and Elachi forces follow as they travel across the Sphere, as if ushering them out. One look at the display makes this unusual behaviour clear- they are severely outmatched by the - NPC@annpc#557 - remaining Iconians alone, let alone the other surviving Coalition forces Keelah@crystyl | Rianni nods to herself as she watches, "I can't say I blame them, they are relentless but not stupid" she relays the analysis to the bridge --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the bridge, Keelah receives Rianni's analysis... Keelah@crystyl hrms as she reads, "Are the Iconians engaging the Borg or just chasing them out?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "It seems they are...escorting the Borg out. Neither side has weapons locked on the other." Keelah@crystyl:"I can't believe I'm saying this but... hail the Borg" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, "Channel open." Keelah@crystyl:"Domica of Borg, leaving so soon?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina appears on the viewscreen, "Our task here is complete. There is no reason to stay." Keelah@crystyl:"That's not what you said the last time we spoke" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Any attempt to assimilate the Sphere would be futile. We will regroup and continue assimilation elsewhere." Keelah@crystyl:"I was afraid you would say that. You know we can't let you go and destroy more innocent lives" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We are Borg. We wish only to improve the quality of life for all." Keelah@crystyl:"As we have well established over many years of conflict with the Collective now, resistance is anything but futile. The only thing that has proven futiile with you is diplomacy. So let me put this - Keelah@crystyl:- another way; stand down and submit to restraint here, or be destroyed. As you have already determined for yourselves, resistance - in this case - is indeed futile" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina is silent for a moment before replying with a simple, "We will comply." Keelah@crystyl gives a curt nod, "Good. We have no wish to destroy you, but will do so if you make any move without prior agreement. Once we have dealt with the aftermath of this battle and restored order, we - Keelah@crystyl:- will consider options regarding you. That said, the Borg fleet has been invaluable in today's victory. I again can't believe I'm saying this but... thank you, we may not have survived this day - Keelah@crystyl:- were it not for your actions" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Your survival is our survival." With that, the comm cuts Keelah@crystyl sighs, "Update the pursuing Iconians that we must hold the Borg here to prevent further loses to defenseless Children beyond the sphere" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ nods, sending the Iconians the update --- NPC@annpc#557 | NINE HOURS LATER... NPC@annpc#557 | The Sphere is quiet as the Horde fleet is destroyed and the remainder of the Horde are too far away to reach the Heart of War in time. Coalition forces take stock of the damage and begin - NPC@annpc#557 - to make what repairs they can while the Iconians and Elachi keep an eye (and a good few weapons) on the Borg NPC@annpc#557 | In the control room, Lycas gives the long-awaited announcement to Sin and the Esoterics, "Recharge is complete. We have enough power to send the signal." Keelah@crystyl | Sin clasps her hands together, rolling her neck left and right, "Alright, let's do this!" NPC@annpc#557 | The Esoterics stretch out their hands, making contact with the base of the expanded Trident Keelah@crystyl | Sin steps forward, taking her own place and channelling her energy NPC@annpc#557 | The signal is channeled through the Trident and amplified out by the Sphere to travel through subspace, spreading across a vast region of the galaxy. The camera pans out from the Sphere, past - NPC@annpc#557 - the nebula and across space into the depths of Horde territory on the rim. Horde ships and facilities burst into explosions as the camera flies by, the entire Horde having been compelled to - NPC@annpc#557 - self-destruction. The camera zooms in on a Horde factory and shipyard world, where the self-destructing ships shatter the shipyard facilities as well. As the camera zooms closer and closer to - NPC@annpc#557 - planet, factory structures can be seen collapsing or blowing up as thralls attack one another, tearing each other and eventually themselves apart NPC@annpc#557 | As this wild frenzy subsides, the world is left a barren wasteland, with no sign of movement. The ground is littered with dead thralls as the backdrop is filled with debris. Some of the - NPC@annpc#557 - factory structures still stand, some collapse before our eyes as the camera holds the view and some are nothing but metal skeletons already. The atmosphere flares up as debris from the ships - NPC@annpc#557 - and shipyard rain down, some of them impacting and destroying more of the factory complex. A huge wave of dust and smoke radiates outward from the destruction, eventually obscuring the camera - NPC@annpc#557 - entirely. It fades back in to the control room, where the Esoterics all let go of the Trident and slump to the ground, drained by the effort Keelah@crystyl | Sin staggers back, drained as well. She looks up at the Trident wide-eyed and trembling, "So much... power..." and slowly forms a wide grin, then a chuckle as she drops to her knees --- NPC@annpc#557 | Narrator: â€œThe fighting in the Sphere concluded with the destruction of the Horde fleet, but most historians attribute the true end of the Battle of the Sphere to the moment the pulse was fired.â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Narrator: â€œCompelling the entire Horde to self-destruct, the pulse brought an end to the Horde conflict. The Sphere became a place of peace and unity rather than war and the galaxy was forever changedâ€¦â€
NPC@annpc#557 | Half an hour after the pulse is set, the VF is parked outside Foundry 4. The ship shows visible battle damage, but far more critically damaged ships have already taken up all the space so they - NPC@annpc#557 - wait while doing what repairs they can without shipyard facilities. Keelah is in her ready room when her combadge sounds Keelah@crystyl leans back in her chair and taps, "Se'Lai" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "Captain, we have an incoming hail from a nearby Guardian vessel." Keelah@crystyl:"Patch it through here please Tee" NPC@annpc#557 | Guardian-Commander Issandros appears on the viewscreen. There is a gash along his forehead ridges and dried blood can be seen on him despite his red armour, but he seems in good overall - NPC@annpc#557 - health, with much of the blood likely not being his own NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "We did it, Captain. We have done the impossible." Keelah@crystyl:"It would certainly seem that way" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Guardians are reporting in from all along the rim. Where former Horde shipyards lay, there is nothing but debris. Factory worlds are coated with rubble and smoke, with no sign of - NPC@annpc#557 - any Horde life. Some have discovered derelict ships, with the vessel itself not having self-destructed, but the thralls tore each other to pieces, with the last remaining ones terminating - NPC@annpc#557 - themselves. It will take a long time to do a full survey of former Horde territory, but so far all indications are that the pulse worked exactly as we intended." Keelah@crystyl:"Exactly. We have been in this fight too long - the Guardians moreso than anyone - to allow a single victory to entice complacency. Personally, I think that right now we are at our most vulnerable - Keelah@crystyl:- since this all began and vigilance must be maintained stringently to be certain" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods, "The Guardians are still fully mobilized and ready. If there are any Horde remnants, we will deal with them." Keelah@crystyl smiles a little, "It is reassuring to know the Guardians are out there watching over us all. We are on the precipice of a new era for the galaxy here, and I do not yet know which direction things - Keelah@crystyl:- will turn in now. Everyone is currently focused on cleaning up from the battle. But when that is done we have some of the largest fleets of previously conflicting parties all gathered in one small- Keelah@crystyl:- place. If we are not careful with our next steps, then it will all have been for nothing" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "That is not the only problem. The World Tree is already foreseeing others. Former Horde space is now a dead zone, a vast swath of territory along the rim inhabited by no - NPC@annpc#557 - civilization and littered with the remnants of fleets and production facilities. Many will seek to move in- former refugees from the Horde returning to rebuild, nearby powers expanding into - NPC@annpc#557 - the empty region, and no small number of opportunistic scavengers." Keelah@crystyl:"All the more reason why the next steps for the powers gathered here now are so important" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Yes, someone needs to maintain some semblance of order around here. We Guardians will do what we can- we already have forces covering the entire border to Horde space, but we are - NPC@annpc#557 - always stretched thin. Support from the Coalition will be most welcome." Keelah@crystyl:"Which will first require solidifying the Coalition" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods, "It'll be no easy task, but then again, neither was bringing us all together." Keelah@crystyl:"I like to think that the hard part is done, and that everyone else will share our thoughts about what comes next. But I am not so naive to believe in such a clean win here" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "The Guardians will do all we can to keep the Coalition intact. Though we're more well-known for our martial prowess, there's a number of fine diplomats among us- we regularly had - NPC@annpc#557 - to persuade worlds to evacuate after all, many of them under the influence of Anarchist infiltrators." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Once the initial recoveries are in hand we will convene all the representatives to discuss our next moves" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods back, "We'll await the call for the meeting." Keelah@crystyl:"In the meantime, do reach out if there is anything we can do to assist your own recoveries" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "And likewise to you. This has been a costly battle- but I believe it was a worthwhile price. We've saved many more that would've been lost in the future." Keelah@crystyl:"You'll get no argument from me" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Good luck with your repairs, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"We will speak again soon" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros nods and the comm ends NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah doesn't get long to rest though, as her combadge sounds again minutes later Keelah@crystyl sighs softly, expecting nothing less as she taaps, "Se'Lai" NPC@annpc#557 <C - Kazra> "Keelah. You should come down to sickbay. Eva's awake." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Kazra, I'll be right down" she replies, already standing --- Keelah@crystyl walks into the sickbay a short while later NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra and Kelly are standing beside Eva's bed. She has been changed out of her uniform and is wearing a medical patient's gown and looks completely fine save for one thing. As she looks to - NPC@annpc#557 - Keelah, she notices that her eyes are no longer Betazoid eyes. They are glowing Gary Mitchell style eyes NPC@annpc#557 | Eva smiles, "Thank you for coming back for me, Captain. I hope getting me back alive...didn't cost too many other lives." Keelah@crystyl approaches and takes her hand, "It is a a relief to see you up and about, Eva. And do not think in terms of lives being traded for yours. You know we had to end this anyway, and nobody was harmed - Keelah@crystyl:- through any of the specific accommodations of the strategy to ensure your safe return. How are you feeling after all of this?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Perfectly fine. I know I should be exhausted, but...I don't know what happened. Maybe a part of the Trident or the Horde's power was transferred to me through all that time using the - NPC@annpc#557 - Trident to control them." NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra: "Her neurochemistry readings are back to normal. No sign of the Architect or Horde influence, she's entirely Eva." Keelah@crystyl:"It does appear that... something has occurred. Though you will forgive me if I say I hope it is not a part of the Horde" she smiles Keelah@crystyl turns to Kazra, "Yet she is also quite clearly not" NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra nods, "Her neural activity is high, but not high enough to cause concern. Something's definitely changed, I don't need a medical scan to tell me that, but everything the scans are - NPC@annpc#557 - telling me is that she's still herself." NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly nods as well, "I can sense her through our bond and I can say it's definitely fully Eva in there now." Keelah@crystyl:"Fortunately Eva, we are in a good position now thanks to your efforts. So there should be no cause to argue with Kazra on how long she wants you to rest and rediscover yourself" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods and smiles, "I can sense the thoughts of the crew- and beyond. There's been great loss, but the Horde is defeated now, and there's no need for me to rush back to duty." Keelah@crystyl:"There is a new counsellor on board too. Nobody else has been able to escape her, so I don't see why you should be any different either" she smirks. "Don't worry, she's fast become a part of the - Keelah@crystyl:- family" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "I look forward to meeting her," she suddenly gazes off to a direction where no one's standing Keelah@crystyl watches, glancing to the others and back, "Eva?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "We have a visitor." Keelah@crystyl perks a brow NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "You should get back to the bridge. It's Q." NPC@annpc#557 | Just then, Keelah's combadge sounds again Keelah@crystyl taps, eyes remaining on Eva, "Se'Lai" NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> "Captain, Q has just appeared on the bridge." Keelah@crystyl:"I'm on my way. Try not to let anyone be antagonized in the meantime..." NPC@annpc#557 <C - TQ> "I'll do my best." --- NPC@annpc#557 | As the turbolift doors open, Keelah is met with the sound of loud, upbeat music. In place of the shattered central light of the bridge is a disco ball, and the rest of the bridge's lighting - NPC@annpc#557 - seems to have been changed to resemble that of a club's. A band is playing the music at the front by the viewscreen, while scantily-clad Orions both male and female dance all throughout, many - NPC@annpc#557 - of them having grabbed bridge crew who are awkwardly dragged into the dance. In the centre of it all, on Keelah's seat, sits none other than Q, dressed in a modern Captain's uniform. The - NPC@annpc#557 - captain's chair swirls around as Keelah enters and Q starts clapping NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "Bravo, Captain, bravo!" Keelah@crystyl gives an unimpressed 'hrm' as she approaches, "You are in my chair" NPC@annpc#557 | Q stands and makes a fancy gesture towards the chair, "It's all yours. But loosen up a little, will you? Such a victory is more than a cause for celebration!" Keelah@crystyl makes a point of sitting with presence, "I don't need to be omnipotent to know that celebrating now would be premature. Yes we have survived a terrible battle, yes the Horde /seems/ to have been - Keelah@crystyl - neutralized. But I hardly think your theatrics will be of any comfort to those who lost friends and loved ones here today. And what of the Horde - the millions, or perhaps billions of beings who - Keelah@crystyl - were all once sentient living people who had their lives stolen away only to have their shells extinguished by us. Do you /really/ see such a massive loss of life across the galaxy as cause for - Keelah@crystyl - celebration?" She asks with a very Vulcan condescending tone and a perked brow NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "These husks? They were practically walking corpses. No one's going to mourn for them. Take my advice- have a little fun while you can." Keelah@crystyl:"They were still people before they were husks. Yes, maybe we put them out of their misery but that does not give cause to... all of this" she gestures to his party features around the room NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "You defeated the Architect, brought the great powers of the galaxy together to fight the Horde! You've passed the Final Judgement. If you celebrate your birthdays, surely this is something - NPC@annpc#557 - worth celebrating?" Keelah@crystyl:"It is, if it remains in place. The hard work is just beginning for us here now" NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "You don't know just how right you are about that," he snaps his fingers and all the dancers and party fixtures disappear, returning the bridge to its post-battle state. "Fine. If you want - NPC@annpc#557 - to get right down to business, we'll get right down to business." NPC@annpc#557 | He snaps again and there is a flash on the viewscreen. When it fades away, the Spherescape is gone, instead showing only the pitch black of space, with not even any stars visible Keelah@crystyl gives him an expectant look NPC@annpc#557 | Q simply stands and observes with a self-contented expression as Fisher moves back to his console from where he had been dragged off to dance at. He hastily takes a seat and gets to work on - NPC@annpc#557 - the helm Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Cap'n, looks like we'se at th'edge of th'galaxy!" Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, looking at the black screen, "At the edge, or beyond it?" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "At th'edge accordin' to these readin's" NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher taps away on his console, "But we'll be beyond it soon. We're moving forward at warp 7 and helm controls aren't responding." Keelah@crystyl:"We can't pass through the barrier" Keelah@crystyl | Lennie: "Tha'... doesn't seem t'be an issue Cap'n. It... ain't there?" Keelah@crystyl turns, looking back then to Q, "This is what you wanted to show us? That the barrier is no longer in place?" NPC@annpc#557 | Q nods and smiles, "One always can count on a Vulcan to figure things out." Keelah@crystyl:"So can I take from that then, that the Barrier was indeed of the Q's creation as a means to ultimately contain this 'final judgement'?" NPC@annpc#557 | Q nods again, "And now that you've passed the judgement, the doors are open. Think of it like graduating from the Academy. You get your first pip, and you have an entire career open in front - NPC@annpc#557 - of you. A galaxy filled with wonder and danger. Or in this case...a universe." NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "We are now officially outside the Milky Way, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Bold new frontiers indeed..." she mutters, "But we are a long way from realistically exploring this far out. We don't even have the technology to cross our galaxy in good time, let alone going - Keelah@crystyl:- beyond it" NPC@annpc#557 | Q: "The door goes both ways, Captain. When the Federation species ventured beyond their worlds, the Borg came knocking. When you found the Bajoran wormhole, the Dominion came knocking. I'd be - NPC@annpc#557 - worried about what's going to come knocking this time if I were you. The Final Judgement is only the last test before we open this door, a final academy exam for the Milky Way, if you will. As - NPC@annpc#557 - you must know by now, the trial never endsâ€¦â€ NPC@annpc#557 | Q snaps his fingers once again. The viewscreen flashes and they are back in the Sphere, and Q is nowhere to be seen Keelah@crystyl rolls her eyes at the enigmatic move, "Well..." NPC@annpc#557 | Fisher: "He's certainly got no shortage of theatrics, does he..." Keelah@crystyl:"I suspect it goes far beyond anything anyone has ever seen from him even" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "We're being hailed by one of the Chlasi ships." Keelah@crystyl:"On screen" NPC@annpc#557 | High Esoteric Virye appears on the viewscreen, "Something's happened. Everyone Esoteric just received a small surge of power, and two of the non-Esoteric Chlasi on board have begin - NPC@annpc#557 - demonstrating some capabilities that would make them eligible for an Esoteric, despite the fact that they didn't demonstrate this capability when they first came of age. Is this a side effect - NPC@annpc#557 - of the pulse we sent?" Keelah@crystyl:"Perhaps, though the timing would suggest it is more directly linked to something we just experienced. Perhaps even the result of my officer's recovery from the Architect and her own subsequent - Keelah@crystyl:- awakening" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ taps her console, "It's not just the Chlasi. I'm getting Starfleet chatter- a Vulcan officer on board the USS Courageous has developed non-touch telepathy and a human on the USS G'Mat is - NPC@annpc#557 - suddenly showing signs of basic empathy." NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "I have a theory, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Tee put a notice to all Coalition vessels that this has occurred across the fleet, possibly the galaxy. Request all fleet leaders to gather data on timings and impact ahead of the leadership - Keelah@crystyl:- conference" she looks to Vusal, "Let's hear it" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "When the Enterprise first encountered the galactic barrier, several crewmembers with high ESP ratings absorbed some of its energy, gaining telepathic and telekinetic abilities and - NPC@annpc#557:- more. Perhaps the barrier's energy has not been removed, but dispersed. We may be witnessing a similar effect on a much larger scale, but with a less extreme outcome." Keelah@crystyl:"I certainly find it likely that this is somehow connected to the removal of the barrier, as for the catalyst we shall have to see" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal nods, "Once we are aware of all the individuals who have been affected, checking their Esper ratings may either support or refute this theory." Keelah@crystyl:"This may also explain the change we've seen in Eva. Or we may learn that she was more of a focus for it and has served herself as the catalyst" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "It is possible. We must study this effect in more detail." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed, also how widespread it is" NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "I'll send the data the fleet leaders collect to be analyzed as soon as they come in." Keelah@crystyl:"Thanks Tee. This is all very troubling if it is part of Q's grand plan..." --- T'Lana@anncaris | Meanwhile on the Sphere, Mischa, T'Lana and Root are working with Lycas and his team to recalibrate the pulse for use on the Borg. Though this pulse isn't a telepathic signal, Sin is still - T'Lana@anncaris - around resting with the Esoterics who sent the pulse when she feels a sudden incoming surge of energy rejuvenating her Mischa@crystyl gets the sense from Leona that something is building within Sin and looks over to see Sin open Mitchell'esque glowy eyes Mischa@crystyl immediately draws her weapon, "Ensign!" T'Lana@anncaris looks over, "Commander?" Mischa@crystyl:"Something has happened to Sin. Look" T'Lana@anncaris steps over and raises a brow as she observes the eyes, "Fascinating. A side effect of sending the pulse, perhaps?" Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps..." Mischa@crystyl | Sin watches the pair meanwhile seeming quite amused by the whole thing T'Lana@anncaris:"Do you feel any different, Ensign?" Mischa@crystyl | Sin chuckles, stretching one hand out to her side and flexing her fingertips. Observing like it's the first time she has seen the hand, "I-... I'm back!" T'Lana@anncaris:"Back? You were always here, Ensign. Unless you visited another realm through some form of telepathic experience?" Mischa@crystyl | Sin laughs pitifully, "Not that kind of back. I'm me again!" she demonstrates by conjuring a ball of fire into the palm of her hand that she then glides down her arm and across to the other hand T'Lana@anncaris looks from Sin to Mischa, "I do not believe she has previously demonstrated such capability before." Mischa@crystyl shakes her head, "No. But she has talked about them plenty..." Mischa@crystyl | Sin chuckles, "Oh Commander, you're such a tease!" T'Lana@anncaris turns back to Sin, "How are you achieving this?" Mischa@crystyl | Sin shrugs, "I honestly don't know. I just... felt this surge of power from nowhere" Mischa@crystyl looks to the Esoterics, "What about the rest of you?" T'Lana@anncaris | Esoteric: "She speaks the truth. We all felt it as well. The effects are not as drastic to us, but we are also not as powerful as she is." Mischa@crystyl:"This must be some latent effect of what they did with the pulse..." T'Lana@anncaris:"Did you feel this surge of power just now?" T'Lana@anncaris | The Esoterics nod, another one speaking up, "Just moments before she drew her weapon on Sin." T'Lana@anncaris:"There has been 49 minutes between when the pulse was sent and when you first noticed the change in Ensign Sin. If it was a direct effect of the pulse, it is possible the changes only became - T'Lana@anncaris - visible to us after a period of time, but they would have likely felt it much sooner." Mischa@crystyl:"It's not so much that I noticed a change in her. I think Leona sensed the surge in her power" Mischa@crystyl | Sin tilts her head to one side, eyeing Mischa with a smirk, "So that's what you've been hiding all this time. I'm beginning to see why a mere Human was able to hold her own so well against the - Mischa@crystyl - Horde on the demon world" Mischa@crystyl:"Perhaps it escaped your notice, but keeping secrets is kind of what we do" Mischa@crystyl | Sin: "And I do find weary at times..." she lashes out, hurling a torrent of energy at Mischa Mischa@crystyl recoils as Leona's ethereal wings fan out dramatically from her back and wrap around her like a cocoon T'Lana@anncaris:"Ensign! That is enough." Mischa@crystyl relaxes her stance, Leona's wings relaxing with her and slowly curling back in as they fade Mischa@crystyl | Sin gives an entertained giggle, "Oh relax, if I really wanted to hurt her I'd simply make every atom in her body explode. I just wanted to say hello to the Commander's shy friend" T'Lana@anncaris looks to Mischa as Leona's wings fade, "Are you alright, Commander?" Mischa@crystyl:"There are more civilized forms of introduction, Sin. I would have thought living with Starfleet for a while now might have taught you something" turns to TL with a nod, "I'm fine, it was not a - Mischa@crystyl:- strong enough energy to harm Leona" Mischa@crystyl | Sin gives TL a 'I told you so' look, "See!" Mischa@crystyl is not impressed Mischa@crystyl holsters her weapon, figuring it's basically useless at this point anyway T'Lana@anncaris unhooks her tricorder from her belt and takes a step towards Sin, "If I may, Ensign, without being blasted." Mischa@crystyl | Sin turns to Mischa, "Though credit where it's due Commander, you've got a lot more flair for the dramatic than I'd expect from a spook" she turns to TL with a nod, holding her head high and - Mischa@crystyl - regal like, "You may" Mischa@crystyl eyerolls Mischa@crystyl | Sin snarks at Mischa, "Don't look at me in that tone of voice!" Mischa@crystyl facepalms T'Lana@anncaris scans Sin with her tricorder as she observes the interaction before checking the readings, "Her neural activity is heightened, but there are no signs of external influence that I can identify. - T'Lana@anncaris - Certainly none seen in those affected by the Architect or the Horde." Mischa@crystyl:"Well clearly something has happened, and we're clearly not going to get to the bottom of it standing here" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Should we bring Sin and the Esoterics to the Latenter for a more thorough examination? Or do you suspect the answer to this lies within the Sphere, and it may be more fruitful to examine - T'Lana@anncaris - what is here in this control station and better understand the pulse?" Mischa@crystyl:"I'm not convinced the answer lies here, but I want to investigate further. I do think that Dr. Meel would be better positioned to examine her though as she's been her primary doctor for some time - Mischa@crystyl - now" T'Lana@anncaris:"I shall contact the Valley Forge, then," she steps over to a Starfleet console that has been set up in the chamber Mischa@crystyl | TQ: "Hello Commander T'Lana, how can I help?" Mischa@crystyl stays exactly where she is, not taking an eye off Sin who seems to simply revel in not being trusted this much again T'Lana@anncaris:"We would like to request a pickup for Ensign Sin. She has been affected by a surge of power of yet unknown origin. We believe your medical staff is best suited to examining her. If the Valley - T'Lana@anncaris - Forge is unable to travel to the centre of the Sphere, a runabout will suffice." Mischa@crystyl | TQ sighs, "Her too then? No problem, I'll put your request straight through and someone will be right over" T'Lana@anncaris:"I take it the effects are not isolated to this control station, then?" Mischa@crystyl | TQ: "We're still trying to determine how widespread the effect is, but we've been getting reports from all across the Coalition and not just within the Sphere. The Latenter is actually trying to - Mischa@crystyl:- establish if there have been any similar reports from back home too" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "If the Sphere's radius extends far enough rimwards to eliminate the entire Horde, it would stand to reason that the signal would have covered Federation space as well. We will have the - T'Lana@anncaris - Ensign standing by for pickup." Mischa@crystyl | TQ: "It won't be long Commander. Everything's pretty crazy right now with everyone trying to get a handle on things, but we'll let you know if we learn anything" T'Lana@anncaris:"Thank you, T'Quila. We will keep you up to date of any developments as well." Mischa@crystyl | TQ: "Take care Commander!" T'Lana@anncaris:"You as well, Chief." T'Lana@anncaris steps back over to Mischa, "They will be coming to retrieve the Ensign soon." Mischa@crystyl remains in her stalemate staredown of Sin, "Good. The sooner we get to the bottom of this, the better" T'Lana@anncaris nods, "Agreed." A few minutes of waiting passes as the staredown continues.. T'Lana@anncaris ...before Lycas steps over and joins in, "Commanders. We are ready to send the smaller pulse to disconnect the Borg." Mischa@crystyl:"Can we be confident it won't make... whatever this is-" she gestures loosely to Sin's general direction, "- any worse?" T'Lana@anncaris | Lycas: "The signal sent earlier was psionic in nature. The Sphere only served to amplify its range and power. The current signal is purely a conventional signal sent using the Sphere's - T'Lana@anncaris - systems, which is why the Esoterics are not needed to use the Trident. No one other than Borg still connected to the Collective will be affected." Mischa@crystyl:"Alright Professor, let's get this done then. Hopefully we can at least drop our list of things to worry about by 1 today" T'Lana@anncaris | Lycas nods, stepping over to a console and tapping away, "Pulse will fire in one minute. It is difficult to predict how exactly the Borg will react, and Captain Keelah will still have to - T'Lana@anncaris - persuade them not to return to the Collective's usual ways. If anyone can do this however, it is Keelah." Mischa@crystyl:"If she doesn't, the Iconians are still poised to disintegrate the whole fleet" Mischa@crystyl | Sin's gives a theatrical shudder, "So cold!" T'Lana@anncaris:"They are now at a distinct disadvantage, and not much of a threat at this moment." Mischa@crystyl smirks a little, "Is it true that Keelah ad-libbed their futile speech to put them in their place too?" T'Lana@anncaris:"From the comms I monitored, it seems so." Mischa@crystyl:"Nice to see that little Vulcan's still got some spunk after all this. It's a promising sign" T'Lana@anncaris | Lycas: "Pulse is fired. Monitoring effects now." T'Lana@anncaris | Esoteric 1: "We don't sense anything, or feel any increase in power." Mischa@crystyl turns her attention to the console to monitor as well T'Lana@anncaris | The signal is detectable by the control station's sensors as it radiates throughout the Sphere. None of the Coalition ships show any signs of being affected, but power readings from the Borg - T'Lana@anncaris - ships do shift slightly but noticeably as something is clearly up with them. Power levels of the Sphere dip a little, but being a confined internal signal, it is barely a tiny fraction of the - T'Lana@anncaris - power used for the signal against the Horde T'Lana@anncaris | The consumed power regenerates mere seconds later with the Sphere's powerful omega generators Mischa@crystyl:"Well we've done it. What we've done is yet to be seen, but we've done it nonetheless" T'Lana@anncaris:"Regardless of the outcome, the Borg will be one less concern soon, as you have said." T'Lana@anncaris | The sensors also show as the runabout comes into range and reports ready to transport Sin Mischa@crystyl:"And that Runabout is finally here too. It seems today is finally looking up" Mischa@crystyl | Sin pouts T'Lana@anncaris:"Should we go with the Ensign or remain and continue monitoring activity here for the time being?" Mischa@crystyl:"Don't give me that look, you know we have to figure out what's going on with you" Mischa@crystyl:"The situation needs monitoring, but I want to follow this situation. Professor, can you and your team take things from here?" T'Lana@anncaris | Lycas nods, "We have the situation here under control, Commander." T'Lana@anncaris taps her comm to the runabout to call for transport --- NPC@annpc#557 | On the VF bridge, the crew observes as the second pulse is sent... NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "I am reading several power fluctuations in the Borg vessels, particularly the tactical cube. No observable effects on any other vessels." Keelah@crystyl:"Can you get an analysis of the fluctuations?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vusal: "The changes indicate alterations to the central plexus of each ship. From the Latenter's information on the pulse and its likely after-effects, the Borg here are likely instating their - NPC@annpc#557 - new queen." NPC@annpc#557 | TQ: "We are being hailed by the tactical cube." Keelah@crystyl:"They work fast. On screen Tee" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina appears on the viewscreen, "You have disconnected us from the wider Collective." Keelah@crystyl:"It was that, or destroy you" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We understand. You do not wish to be assimilated. You hope that by disconnecting us from the Borg Queen, I will be more open to compromise as the leader of this splinter collective." Keelah@crystyl:"That would certainly be more amenable" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "Your negotiation skills are well-known to us. I worked with a version of you in the timeline I originate from. I am certain we will come to agreeable terms." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "I am glad to see that you are at least open to new possibilities. How do you wish to proceed from here?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "The Keelah I knew would never permit the assimilation of unwilling sentient life, and she was more used to extreme measures than yourself. We will cease assimilating any unwilling - NPC@annpc#557 - sentient beings. You will destroy us otherwise." Keelah@crystyl:"That is true. What about the rest of the Borg in your... group now? We know from past liberations that disconnection can lead to initial disorientation" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We are still connected to one another. It is far less to adapt to than a single drone being liberated from the Collective and made to live as an individual once again." Keelah@crystyl:"So you are all doing ok with the initial shock to the system?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "That is correct. The Collective already placed contingencies in place for this one to take control as Queen. It was a distinct possibility that the Horde would eventually find some - NPC@annpc#557 - way to disconnect us. As soon as we were severed from the wider Collective, the necessary processes were immediately carried out." Keelah@crystyl 's eyes narrow slightly, "If the Queen initiated these protocols before sending you all out here, she must have intended for you to guide your group back to the Collective..." NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "She intended for me to finish the fight against the Horde, should we have been severed while they were still a threat. This entire group was expendable and may as well have already - NPC@annpc#557 - been lost to the Horde. The Collective will not miss a few cubes and a handful of spheres. The data I brought back from my timeline have already been integrated, and that is the only thing we - NPC@annpc#557 - had of true value." Keelah@crystyl:"If your group was written off before you left, then why the effort to safeguard you from being disconnected?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "In the case that the Horde found some way to disconnect us in the midst of battle, I would be able to immediately restore order and continue. Our goal was to ensure the destruction - NPC@annpc#557 - of the Horde. The safeguard was simply never deactivated following the conclusion of the battle. There was no reason to- whether we were destroyed or disconnected makes no difference to the - NPC@annpc#557 - Collective as we would be lost to them either way." Keelah@crystyl:"Fair enough. I do not mean to sound like I am casting doubt on your assertions, but I'm sure you can appreciate the need for caution here" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We comprehend. We wish to extend an offer to the Coalition." Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "A most gracious gesture to open with. What is it you propose?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We will cease assimilating unwilling sentients. There are many on the brink of death or crippled beyond your medical capabilities from this battle. We can save them. Their lives as - NPC@annpc#557 - they have known it is already over regardless. They will lose their individuality if they choose to be assimilated, but they will live on through us." Keelah@crystyl:"It is a fair consideration, but not one for me to decide on anyone else's behalf. I will see to it that your offer is relayed to all facilities currently treating the wounded" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "That is all I ask. It is an offer, nothing more. We will take any who wish to join us, but those who do not will be left to their fate, as it is their choice." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you Domina. Unfortunately your revival is far from the most pertinent concern right now. In fact... are you aware of any unusual psionic activity from any of your group?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We are. Their increased psionic potential is being added to the collective's, as is the way with all drones with such capabilities." Keelah@crystyl:"Indeed? We are still investigating the source of this, but it seems to be effecting people from all across the Coalition so far" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We are also unaware of the source. Our analysis shows that it is not related to the pulse which destroyed the Horde, at least not directly. Those with increased or newfound psionic - NPC@annpc#557 - potential are all drones which are already psionic or nearing the threshold to developing psionic capability, but there has been a minor increase to the overall psionic potential of every - NPC@annpc#557 - single drone. The increase appears to be exponential depending on their prior capability. With only a few exceptions and outliers, those who were already psionically powerful grew more so, - NPC@annpc#557 - while those who had no capabilities only received marginal improvements." Keelah@crystyl:"That is certainly consistent with our observations so far. You are clearly in a favourable position to gather widespread data on this phenomena. Please continue to do so, we will soon be gathering - Keelah@crystyl:- the Coalition leadership to discuss our next steps. With this recent turn of events, it will be taking precedence and I would like you join us there and share your findings" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "I will share all the data we have to present regarding this phenomenon. Thank you, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"I will see you then" she nods NPC@annpc#557 | Domina simply nods back before the comm cuts --- NPC@annpc#557 | A short while later and several decks below the bridge, Sin, Mischa and T'Lana enter the busy sickbay. In addition to the medical staff and the other patients wounded from the battle, several - NPC@annpc#557 - perfectly fine officers can be seen, among them Kelly and Jatila beside Eva's bed. Eva sees (or senses perhaps) them coming first and looks over to the door as they enter, her eyes still glowing NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Sin! I know I've just seen you a few hours ago when the Architect was controlling me, but it's been forever since we talked properly!" Sin@crystyl immediately turns to Eva as she enters the room, "So you are back as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods and smiles, "Yes, thanks to you. Though you mean the other back, don't you?" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila and Kelly both turn and observe Sin as she enters Sin@crystyl:"Naturally. And it seems we're not the only ones either" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila nods, though her eyes aren't glowing, "Every telepath or empath on the ship has felt an increase in ability, but none of us have any physical changes save you two." NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "I had a feeling you'd get it too." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva's eyes suddenly go back to normal again Sin@crystyl watches curiously, "We don't know yet what brought this on, and I got bored toying with the Princess so what do we know about this up here?" Sin@crystyl | Mischa eyerolls again somewhere behind her Sin@crystyl:"I said not to look at me in that tone of voice!" she calls back with a teasing smirk Sin@crystyl | Mischa actually seems to like that, giving a slight smile NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Look at you with that tone of...ooh, you're reading her thoughts, aren't you?" she smirks Sin@crystyl:"She was never exactly hard to read, but now I'm back to my old self I can indeed sense others with ease" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila meanwhile glances back to Eva curiously, "Your eyes, did you change them back to normal?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "My...they're back to normal again?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly turns around and nods NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "I don't feel any different..." Sin@crystyl:"Did you relax your focus?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "I think so. I was seeing just how far I could sense earlier, but all this talk of looking different, well...it made me a little nervous of these enhanced abilities, to be honest, - NPC@annpc#557 - and I stopped reaching out. And because you were such a strong presence you were making the whole room too bright anyways," she adds with a smile Sin@crystyl grins, glancing back over her shoulder, "Not a word Princess!" Sin@crystyl | Mischa does chuckle at that Sin@crystyl:"Sounds like relaxing yourself did alleviate the visual effect which everyone else finds comically unnerving" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "Maybe you could try it too? Or are you enjoying unnerving others?" She smirks Sin@crystyl:"Like you even have to ask! But honestly, I never even thought about it. Let's see..." Sin@crystyl she focuses for a few moments, closing her eyes to try and force herself down a peg or two before opening them again to see if it worked, albeit through a more concentrated effort than Eva simply - Sin@crystyl:- relaxing. At least as she portrays it NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly smiles, "That seems to have done the trick! You're back to normal you again." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "I guess this new look only shows if we use our abilities too extensively, then." Sin@crystyl:"Interesting" Sin@crystyl | Mischa: "That does not give you license to use it to further mess with people Sin..." Sin@crystyl grins NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra steps up to the group, "Ensign Sin. I thought you'd show up here sooner or later." Sin@crystyl turns to her, "Don't tell me you've become psychic too now" NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra chuckles, "No, but I've been looking at the personnel records coming through from the fleet. Our working theory seems to stand- everyone who's gained a noticeable increase in ability are - NPC@annpc#557 - those with high ESP ratings. People who are already telepaths like you and Eva, empaths like Jatila or a few who didn't previously have any psionic ability but had a high rating close to the - NPC@annpc#557 - level needed to develop abilities." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "You believe the pulse heightened the ESP ratings of everyone caught in its radius?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "The pulse, no. We think it's the same effect the Enterprise crew encountered when they made contact with the galactic barrier. The Enterprise you met that is, back in the mid - NPC@annpc#557 - 23rd century. But this time dispersed on a much larger scale with much smaller effect." Sin@crystyl | Mischa steps over, "You're talking about the Constitution Enterprise? If I remember my history right, didn't they get drawn into the galactic barrier right at the start of their 5 year mission?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra: "That's right, and when they made contact with the barrier, the members of the crew with the highest Esper ratings gained various abilities. Unfortunately all those affected were - NPC@annpc#557 - somehow killed in the line of duty during that mission, so no one ever got a chance to take a closer examination of them. But we believe what happened to them might be occurring galaxy-wide." Sin@crystyl | Mischa: "Galaxy wide? This is an even more volatile position than we feared then, given the severity of that previous incident with the barrier" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "Incident? I thought they gained their powers and died bringing the ship back home...or was it protecting the ship from something?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana: "Neither. They went rogue, though the official reports are partially truthful as one of them decided to help Kirk stop the other in the end, giving her life in the process." Sin@crystyl | Mischa: "Whatever really happened in that mission, it was enough to scare Starfleet into avoiding further contact at all costs" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "And now the barrier's gone. We think Q might've dispersed the energy throughout the whole galaxy. That's our working theory on why we're seeing all this." Sin@crystyl | Mischa: "So the theory was right, the Continuum were responsible for the barrier. But why disperse its energy throughout all of the ESPers in the galaxy?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "Ascension. This is what the Architect always wanted. But Q being Q, he withheld it from the Architect. Turned him into an example of what not to do for all of us. In defeating him, we - NPC@annpc#557 - showed the Continuum we've become better than our creators, capable of resisting the temptation that led to his fall. They've deemed us ready to take what the Progenitors were not." NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra: "So he's trying to what, accelerate our evolution?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva: "I think so. To what end, I have no idea." Sin@crystyl | Mischa: "Seriously? They find /all/ of us to be worthy of this greater responsibility?" Sin@crystyl:"Hey! I can be responsible! I just... normally prefer not to..." NPC@annpc#557 | Eva chuckles, "I don't think it's about being worthy. I think it's about being ready. Not everyone's going to use this additional power responsibly. But if we can deal with the Horde, a - NPC@annpc#557 - seemingly innumerous and unstoppable army which abuses telepathy to add others to their ranks, we can contain the odd rogue psionic here and there. There'll be trouble, but it's something the - NPC@annpc#557 - Continuum thinks we can handle now. /Why/ give us this power in the first place, though, instead of just absorbing it for himself or something...that I can't explain." NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra: "Maybe it's another one of his tests. Or he just wants to see what happens. Who knows with Q?" Sin@crystyl:"Or perhaps he isn't giving to the Children, but rather... giving it back" NPC@annpc#557 | Jatila: "You think it was ours to begin with, but he took it away from us? Perhaps because he deemed we weren't responsible enough to use it?" NPC@annpc#557 | Eva nods, "That's also a possibility." Sin@crystyl:"I think it's something the Q took away from all of the Children in order to sustain the barrier when the Progenitors screwed up in making the Horde, as it also served to diminish the capability of - Sin@crystyl:- their experiment and make it harder for them to use the Children to surpass the Q. Now that we have eliminated that threat, that aspect of the Children has unilaterally been restored. Don't tell - Sin@crystyl:- me none of you haven't ever had the feeling deep inside you that you are somehow not quite all you should be?" NPC@annpc#557 | Kelly: "I think we've all had that feeling since Belyia...those of us here who were there, at least." Sin@crystyl:"Not just that though, it's like that feeling I had ever since I was a child that there was something... more to life than I was aware of. Or maybe it was just me" NPC@annpc#557 | Kazra: "Whatever this power is, it's with us now..." Sin@crystyl:"Man... people must be freaking out something fierce across the galaxy right now!" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Lana nods, "This aftermath will not be simple to deal with..." Sin@crystyl | Mischa: "Indeed, and it's not as if we didn't have enough to deal with already here" --- NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah and the Coalition fleet commanders and other significant leaders gather in the meeting room once again. This time, a few faces are missing, some of them replaced by members of the same - NPC@annpc#557 - faction, others new arrivals such as Captain Shon of the Enterprise, Commanders Nadel and Kaol of the Romulan Republic and representatives from the five Great Houses that sent their House - NPC@annpc#557 - forces to aid in the battle, among them the famous Klingon generals Martok and Kurn NPC@annpc#557 | Domina stands to the side of the table, with two Regulators constantly watching her nearby, their helmets active. Many around the table gaze at her with suspicious glances as well NPC@annpc#557 | As the meeting is about to begin, a gateway springs to life on one end of the room and two of the modern augmented heralds hover out, followed by the Iconian T'Kay. The eyes around the table - NPC@annpc#557 - suddenly turn from the Borg to the Iconian, especially the new arrivals, many of whom had fought in the Iconian War Keelah@crystyl looks around, "Many new and unfamiliar faces here today" she smiles, making a point of welcoming them. NPC@annpc#557 | Martok: "It was a glorious battle. The Empire's forces are lessened after recent conflicts, but we would not have missed it for anything." Keelah@crystyl:"One for the history books indeed, General. Whilst there is much to discuss here, I must first ask if everyone is managing well enough with their recovery efforts? If anyone needs additional aid or - Keelah@crystyl:-- support, we should mobilize immediately before moving on to bigger matters" NPC@annpc#557 | Unwavering Defender: "There are many ships in need of repair, but between the Foundry's systems and the aid of other Coalition vessels, the recovery situation is under control from what we - NPC@annpc#557 - have observed." NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "There's more survivors from the battle than ships to hold them, but we have no shortage of room on the Sphere. They'll have adequate housing until additional ships from their factions - NPC@annpc#557 - arrive for them to join or to ferry them back home." Keelah@crystyl:"That is reassuring to hear. On the subject of survivors, one of the reasons I asked Domina here is that she has an offer to present. In short; since we have disconnected her hive from the larger - Keelah@crystyl:- Collective, they have agreed not to assimilate anyone against their will. In offset to this, Domina has offered to assimilate any of the more critically injured who we otherwise lack the medical - Keelah@crystyl:- means to heal, if they choose so" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon: "That'll make them a member of her Collective, I assume?" Keelah@crystyl nods, "Yes, they would be fully assimilated into the Borg. This is an extreme measure I know, but it is possible that some might prefer it to the next best alternative even in some of the - Keelah@crystyl:- non-Terminal cases. Regardless of anyone's personal feelings, the offer has been tabled" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon nods, "I can see how that might appeal to some. I'll make sure our doctors know it's an option to offer their patients." NPC@annpc#557 | Vora: "I'll spread the word as well. It's the patient's choice in the end, anyways." Keelah@crystyl:"That is the most we can do. And regardless of any uptake, it is a gracious offer from Domina and I am grateful to her for that alone" NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "What will you do from here? The Borg do not reproduce, and you cannot count on casualties from us to replenish your numbers. I would wish nothing more than for all Borg to cease - NPC@annpc#557 - assimilating others against their will, but that is simply not sustainable for you." NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "The Borg do not reproduce because evolution is inefficient. Assimilation is far quicker to the Collective's goal of achieving perfection. We will adapt." Keelah@crystyl:"I think we can take that to mean... they don't know yet, but they are willing to try" NPC@annpc#557 | The Supervisor nods, "We'll keep an eye on them and ensure they keep their promise. You have much of the wider Collective's data still stored on your remaining ships, I assume?" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We do." NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "Then you know what our technology is capable of against yours. You will do well to keep your word." NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We understand that deception will be futile. We will not deceive you." Keelah@crystyl:"That is not the only reason I asked Domina to join us here. Besides our being responsible for her people's current situation, they also already have some detailed data on the latest unexpected - Keelah@crystyl:- development that I'm sure you are all now aware of" NPC@annpc#557 | Nadel: "That we are. It seems the telepaths are being affected more- most of our Reman personnel have gained significant psionic boosts, while a handful of the more numerous Romulans among our - NPC@annpc#557 - ships have developed minor abilities." NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "That is consistent with our analysis. We are broadcasting it to you now." NPC@annpc#557 | The table in the centre lights up with holograms as the Borg's data come in NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "We have also received word from the rest of the Administration. These effects are not confined to this region. It is being recorded from Regulated Zones throughout the entire - NPC@annpc#557 - galaxy. This seems to be a galactic phenomenon." Keelah@crystyl | Mischa nods, "Our data confirms this as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "None of our people have been affected, but we are not a Children species." Keelah@crystyl | Mischa: "Interesting, that would seem to support our current working theory" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "We do not have the wide reach we once did, but I am able to confirm that none of our heralds have been affected as well. However, despite our physical augmentations, the remaining - NPC@annpc#557 - Iconians did sense some increase in our abilities. The effects of this phenomena seem exclusive to Children species." Keelah@crystyl:"What is your theory, Commander? Keelah@crystyl | Mischa: "Well I hate to admit it, but it was actually Sin's. She postulated that the Q created the Galactic Barrier eons ago by channeling this psionic power of the Children. Not only to contain - Keelah@crystyl:- the threat of the Horde when it appeared, but to hamper the Architect's plans to use the Children to revitalize the Progenitors and declare war on the Q, and likely the galaxies beyond our own" NPC@annpc#557 | Elder Yaseni: "From what we know, that is a very likely explanation." Keelah@crystyl:"Q certainly wanted us to know that the Barrier was now gone, and made a point of implicating the ramifications of the situation we are now in" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "Ramifications, as this psionic phenomenon that's happening everywhere?" Keelah@crystyl:"Q was as enigmatic and cryptic as ever, but when challenged on the matter he implied that removing the barrier has 'opened a door', and that doors are not one-way. He also drew comparison to - Keelah@crystyl:- historical instances of when Starfleet first 'opened the door' on Borg territory, or when we did so upon discovering the Horde. The implication was clear; now that the Barrier is gone, this - Keelah@crystyl:- galaxy is as open to visitation from others, as it is for us to venture beyond it. And chances are high that not everything beyond will be friendly" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "The Darkness..." Keelah@crystyl | Mischa looks to T'Kay, "Something sounds familiar to you in all of that?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "We have travelled beyond the Milky Way with our gateway and Sphere technology. Before we returned here, we rebuilt our forces in the nearest galaxy." NPC@annpc#557 | Koal nods, "The Andromeda galaxy. In our interrogations of the captive Empress Sela, that was where she claimed you hid." Keelah@crystyl | Mischa nods, "That is correct" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "What was left of it, yes. You cannot observe it from the Milky Way, as the light of what has happened there has not yet reached this far. That galaxy is dying. When we first explored - NPC@annpc#557 - there long ago, it did not possess a galactic barrier, but its stars were still intact. Over the millennia, something destroyed it. We do not know what. Andromeda is an older galaxy than ours, - NPC@annpc#557 - and many of its civilizations possess technology more advanced than even my people's. They could not stop the Darkness. We knew we stood no chance, so we dared not approach it. We hid in its - NPC@annpc#557 - aftermath, an endless abyss of dead stars and empires." NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "That sounds familiar." Keelah@crystyl:"From research carried out by numerous scientific academies, ours is the only galaxy to have been recorded as ever having such a barrier. This darkness though is somewhat more of a newer concept" NPC@annpc#557 | Supervisor: "You recall the incident when my...former vessel came under assault by the Horde fleet, and our desperate jump took us into the future, with your very unique Orion Ensign bringing - NPC@annpc#557 - us back to the present?" Keelah@crystyl nods, "Of course" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "I recall as well. Commander Keliaya was also present on that vessel, and these events occurred prior to the splintering of our timelines. In that future we witnessed, at least one - NPC@annpc#557 - section of this galaxy has become devoid of stars, all of them having gone supernovae or collapsed into black holes." NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "Then our fears were correct. The Darkness that consumed Andromeda will come here as well in the future. Perhaps that is the threat Q warns of." Keelah@crystyl:"It's as good a theory as any. The closest I can relate to it are the Senn, but I doubt this is their doing" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon: "It could also be the remnants of Andromeda fleeing their galaxy. We've already encountered the advance scouts of some of those civilizations such as the Kelvan Empire. Some of them were - NPC@annpc#557 - able to survive contact with the barrier and adapt technology to pass through it, but they never returned and it's possible the barrier would still have posed a problem for the bulk of their - NPC@annpc#557 - people. The encounters with their scouting expeditions weren't exactly peaceful, and if their entire Empire migrates here, that could be a problem." Keelah@crystyl:"Whatever the case, I think it's fair to say that there is an unprecedented threat somewhere out there which means it is more important than ever for this galaxy to stand united" NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "And that's not mentioning keeping order in this no man's land that was once Horde space..." Keelah@crystyl:"Yes, quite. I do not know what any of you intends going forwards from here. But I personally believe that a message of unity and solidarity needs to be sent to the rest of the galaxy" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "You are welcome to make use of our gateways to reach distant regions of the galaxy." Keelah@crystyl:"That will be a great help T'Kay, thank you. What of your own people now, do you intend to remain now that you are here?" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "I will remain in this Sphere with the forces I have brought to ensure the technologies here are utilized properly. But my people are diminished, and it is no longer our place in the - NPC@annpc#557 - galaxy to rule or guide, of that we now understand. We will not claim ownership of the Sphere, but be merely one more faction here aiding in its use and protection." Keelah@crystyl:"Your continued presence would be a welcome sight, and knowing that this sphere remains under the watch of it's creators as custodians is reassuring. But you may not yet be aware of everything here,- Keelah@crystyl:- I do not know how well documented all of its functions were. In short though, you should know that the first of a new generation of Iconians has emerged" NPC@annpc#557 | T'Kay: "We have heard from the Elachi we initially dispatched here. I would like to remain here and study the systems that created her. If she is willing, we will take her through the gateway - NPC@annpc#557 - to the remnants of Iconia and our other Spheres, to meet with the rest of our people." Keelah@crystyl:"I think she will welcome the opportunity. So the Iconians will remain in place here as curators of the sphere, what about the Nuhar?" NPC@annpc#557 | Unwavering Defender: "Most of us shall do the same. The Sphere consists of nearly as much Nuhar technology as Iconian, and these Foundries are the only way we can produce more of our kind. - NPC@annpc#557 - Perhaps in the future we will be able to analyze these facilities and construct more elsewhere, but for the moment, the future of the Nuhar Constructs lies in here. Some Constructs are likely - NPC@annpc#557 - to venture beyond the Sphere to continue aiding the Coalition, but this facility is vital to us, and we intend to establish a permanent presence within." Keelah@crystyl:"More welcome news" she smiles. "Which brings us to the Coalition itself. We all came together to defend against the Horde, but now that objective is completed. As I mentioned before, I think we - Keelah@crystyl:- should send a message to the rest of the galaxy and could think of no better message than the formalization of this arrangement" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods, "I think all of us would like to keep some forces within the Sphere, to ensure its defense and study it. The only people I'm concerned about are the Lupan." NPC@annpc#557 | Elder Yaseni: "I understand your concern. Our role as Protectors continue, with or without the Horde. There will always be more threats to the Children, and from what I have been hearing, some - NPC@annpc#557 - are likely to come from outside the galaxy in time. But the Lupan as we are today may not do well with the immediate threat eliminated." Keelah@crystyl:"There is a lot of other work to be done still. As was mentioned earlier, the repopulation of former Horde territory and the control of civilizations looking to capitalize on the situation. I - Keelah@crystyl:- believe there is more than enough for your people to focus on without fear of growing disjointed again" NPC@annpc#557 | Lupan Elder: "We will do all we can to direct our people towards this new task and continue to spread the truth of our people which we have recently learned. Some may still go astray, for I - NPC@annpc#557 - fear Elder Yaseni is right, but the Sisterhood- both Sisterhoods stand with you still, and so long as we are a part of the Coalition, there will always be Lupan to aid you." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "Thank you. And with the Iconians & Nuhar remaining here as curators of the sphere, I foresee no difficulty in administrative 'ownership' of activities here, unlike previous sphere - Keelah@crystyl:- population events" she says with a glance to Shon and the other Alliance representatives. "So we are all in agreement that under the care of our vanguards - the Iconians - and the protection of - Keelah@crystyl:- the Nuhar, this sphere should remain neutral territory and home of the Coalition we have built together?" NPC@annpc#557 | The various leaders around the table nod or make other gestures of agreement NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "I will keep one vessel here as a representative. The remainder of my collective will venture into the now-empty rimward territories to rebuild." Keelah@crystyl:"We should be mindful of where you choose to settle. Many of those worlds will be ancestral homes of refugees from the Horde who will want to reclaim their lost heritage now" NPC@annpc#557 | Domina: "We will check with your records and those kept within the Sphere so we do not settle on a world they wish to claim." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. Vora, the Arshai have been hosting many of the refugees all this time. Is the Colonial Fleet able to gather and provide details on any preclaimed territories?" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods, "We'll have details for the refugees of the civilizations we're currently hosting." NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "The World Tree has memories of the rest, and we can help identify which worlds can be settled. Unfortunately not every civilization was evacuated, and there's plenty out there no - NPC@annpc#557:- one'll have a claim on. And others whose survivors are completely incorporated into the Guardians now and have no intention of rebuilding what they were long ago in the past." Keelah@crystyl:"Excellent. As much more as there is to do in refining our working arrangements and plans here, we have already laid out a lot of work for the initial steps. Is there anything else anyone wishes to - Keelah@crystyl:- table at this time? If not, I suggest we convene and begin working on establishing a more entrenched presence here" NPC@annpc#557 | Head Esoteric Virye: "There is one more matter. Those who are already Esoterics will more easily be able to deal with an increase in their capabilities, but those who previously had no - NPC@annpc#557 - psionic power will need someone to guide them. As many Esoterics are already here, I suggest we found a Temple here, one that is open to psionics of other species as well, with the purpose of - NPC@annpc#557 - teaching new psionics to control their power." Keelah@crystyl:"A most gracious offer that I'm sure many will be eager to take you up on" NPC@annpc#557 | Unwavering Defender: "We will select an appropriate facility for you to establish the Temple in." Keelah@crystyl:"We could also use a more open forum for the Coalition to congregate in. Whilst this facility has served us well, as we continue to grow in numbers it will soon become overcrowded" NPC@annpc#557 | Unwavering Defender: "A valid concern. We will identify a more suitable forum and repurpose it for the Coalition's needs." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you. My people are available to assist" NPC@annpc#557 | Unwavering Defender: 'We will welcome biological input for identifying the necessities of a meeting forum." Keelah@crystyl:"Well then, perhaps the next time we convene it will take place there. As the first official council of the Coalition, I would like to use the occasion to commemorate the victory we shared here - Keelah@crystyl:- today. To recognize distinguished efforts and - of course - give remembrance to those who did not make it" NPC@annpc#557 | Vora nods, "Many of our people- our friends, our allies and our comrades gave their lives so all of us can continue on here. We'll all be grateful for their sacrifices." NPC@annpc#557 | Issandros: "The entire galaxy owes them their existence. We'll make sure they're never forgotten." Keelah@crystyl:"That's the best we can do for them. Captain Shon, I believe you are no stranger to such events. If you don't mind keeping the Enterprise here a while longer, I can think of nobody better suited to - Keelah@crystyl:- coordinate such an event" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon nods, "I'll see to it that they get a fitting memorial service for what they've done here." Keelah@crystyl:"Alright then. Is there anything else now?" NPC@annpc#557 | Everyone else around the table shake their heads Keelah@crystyl stands, "Then let us return to our duties and make preparations for the memorial" --- NPK@annpc#557 | As the meeting disperses, Martok approaches Lexi outside, "Captain Vix of House Dronurr, right?" Lexi@crystyl stops in her tracks, turning to face the Klingon, "It would be in my interests to deny it, but I can't imagine there aren't too many sexy Trill warriors kicking ass out here" NPK@annpc#557 | Martok chuckles, "I'm not here to take you in for crimes against the Empire. In fact, I'm here for the opposite." Lexi@crystyl 's eyes narrow suspiciously NPK@annpc#557 | Martok: "As I'm sure you've heard by now, there's been internal unrest in the Empire. J'mpok's dead, and there's a new Chancellor in position. During the shift in power, members of my House - NPK@annpc#557 - and our allies had the chance to see some documents we otherwise wouldn't have access to. I've lived through the Dominion War. I've even had a shapeshifting petaQ try to replace me. When I - NPK@annpc#557 - think something's not right, then something's not right. I know House Dronurr was framed, but I don't have enough evidence to prove it. And you're not the only ones." Lexi@crystyl:"Let me guess, the Empire's still rife with more backstabbing politics than the Romulan Senate and now it's bleeding over again into the Great Houses?" NPK@annpc#557 | Martok: "Aye, but it's not just the usual politics. There's something else this time. Something that reeks of external influence, like the Changelings. I don't think it's the Dominion again, - NPK@annpc#557 - but whoever it is, your House and what happened to it was a part of their game." Lexi@crystyl:"One of the reasons I first came out here was to learn the truth of what happened to Dronurr. I may not have tracked down those responsible yet, but I have learned plenty. That information is yours" NPK@annpc#557 | Martok: "I'll make sure it gets back to the right people. And good fighting out there earlier, too. You and your crew live up to your reputation as the ones who blasted V'Ku's ship apart from - NPK@annpc#557 - the inside after all." Lexi@crystyl:"HA! I'm glad people aren't forgetting that. That was a fun day, and you've missed plenty more out here since then too. I don't suppose you brought along a suitably obscene number of barrels of - Lexi@crystyl:- bloodwine with you?" NPK@annpc#557 | Martok laughs, "Not on my little bird of prey, but we've got plenty in our other ships. More than enough to fill your raptor!" Lexi@crystyl:"Excellent news! Because a battle like this one deserves to be celebrated in style!" NPK@annpc#557 | Martok: "That it does! I've had enough of politics for several lifetimes- nothing is as refreshing as a good battle and a victory celebration! Come, I'll have my warriors bring our barrels!" Lexi@crystyl claps her hands together, "Perfect!" --- NPC@annpc#557 | TWO DAYS LATER... NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah and other members of the Valley Forge crew arrive in one of the Sphere facilities, which has been repurposed to house a memorial for the fallen in the battle. Most of the fixtures - NPC@annpc#557 - seem to be built into the structure permanently, and it seems likely that the area would be kept as a memorial to visit in the future outside of this one event NPC@annpc#557 | Captain Shon steps over to greet her as she arrives, "Hello, Captain." Keelah@crystyl:"Captain Shon, you've done an impressive job here" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon: "Thank you. I wanted to make sure it was good enough to honour all the sacrifices that have been made here. The Nuhar said that they don't need this area for any Sphere operations, so we - NPC@annpc#557 - altered the whole chamber as a permanent memorial ground." Keelah@crystyl:"Is the intention solely for it to serve as a lasting memorial, or as council auditorium too?" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon: "This particular level is a lasting memorial, a place for remembrance. We decided to finish it first so we could hold a ceremony, but the Nuhar are modifying this entire facility to serve - NPC@annpc#557 - as the headquarters of the Coalition. The auditorium is still under construction on another level." Keelah@crystyl:"A fitting home for this new alliance. Oh and speaking of, what is the official story on the alliance with the Romulans and Klingons these days? Is it still a formal arrangement or back to just- Keelah@crystyl:- mutually coexisting? NPC@annpc#557 | Shon: "It's a formal arrangement now. Not unlike the Coalition here actually, though we aren't quite as tight-knit. The Klingons and Romulans have been having their own troubles, the Klingons - NPC@annpc#557 - especially, but they're mostly internal affairs, nothing the other factions want to be involved with. The Alliance is a mutual defense pact against external threats; no one wants to get - NPC@annpc#557:- wrapped up in someone else's politics." Keelah@crystyl:"Basicaally the same thing then. Perhaps in time the Alliance and Coalition will become one and the same" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon: "I hope so. From the sound of things, unity will become more important than ever going forward into the future." Keelah@crystyl:"It certainly does, and that's exactly the message we need to send here" NPC@annpc#557 | Shon: "Perhaps the Klingons and Romulans will follow the example we set here and bring it back to the Alliance when some of them return through the gateway." NPC@annpc#557 | Shon looks around, "Looks like plenty of them have shown up here. That's a good start. Still some time before the ceremony proper begins- I'll send someone over to let you know when it's time." NPC@annpc#557 | Indeed, there are a number of Klingons and Romulans among those already here at the memorial Keelah@crystyl:"Very well, I shall leave you to your duties Captain" she smiles, wandering off to mingle NPC@annpc#557 | Keelah doesn't wander very far before a pair of young ensigns step up to her NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign 1: "Captain Keelah?" Keelah@crystyl looks between the pair, "That is me. Ensign...?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign 1: "Sauda. And this is Ensign Coragg. It's an honour to meet you, Captain." NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Coragg: "We've heard a lot about you from the Academy, and that's not even to mention what you've done here!" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "From the Academy? I had no idea I was a topic of study. All good I hope" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Sauda chuckles, "It's mostly Professor Davidson, he was on the Dawnstar and he's teaching at the Beta Ursae Minor II Annex now. But Professor Siteel also taught about some of your - NPC@annpc#557 - brilliant tactics." NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Coragg: "Like that time you jumped into orbit to save your crewmembers from the Orion Syndicate!" Keelah@crystyl perks a brow, "Next you'll be telling me they've labelled it a maneuver and slapped my name to it. Still, it is good to hear that Davidson is doing well. He always had a penchant for teaching" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Sauda: "I think that is what happened...but yes, Davidson was the favourite professor of many of us when we were cadets at Beta Ursae." NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Coragg: "We're so glad to have the opportunity to meet you in person, Captain!" Keelah@crystyl:"As am I for meeting you two. It is always warming to see a new generation of officers venturing out into the galaxy. I take it you two are from one of the Starfleet vessels which came through the - Keelah@crystyl:- gateway during the battle?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Coragg nods, "The USS Megaris, Jupiter-class. We don't know if we're here to stay or if Command'll call us back through the gateway yet." Keelah@crystyl:"Is the Megaris your first posting?" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Sauda nods, "For both of us- we were at the Beta Ursae Annex together and we both got into the same posting." Keelah@crystyl:"Well keeping in mind that I might be a little biased since I maintain a teaching annex on the Valley Forge, but I think there's no better place to learn than on the frontier. However if you want - Keelah@crystyl:- more relevant advice, I suggest seeking out Ensign Tierno as she has done just that" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Sauda: "We've heard about her too! She's quite a tactical prodigy, isn't she?" Keelah@crystyl:"She certainly is, and she will be here somewhere if you want to ask about her experiences before making your own decisions" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Coragg: â€œThanks for the advice, Captain! We'll be sure to take the chance to speak to her while we're here!" NPC@annpc#557 | Ensign Sauda: "We shouldn't take up too much of your time, but it's been a pleasure meeting you!" Keelah@crystyl:"You too Ensigns" she smiles, letting them move on NPC@annpc#557 | The two ensigns smile and wander off. As they step away, Keelah spies a lone Romulan woman nearby at one of the memorial placements Keelah@crystyl heads over to join her, taking in the memorial, "I hope in time this will serve as a fitting memorial to all those who did not survive the atrocities here" NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan turns to Keelah and nods, "I hope so as well. I am fortunate not to have lost many friends here, but memorials such as this is something that have become all too common for my - NPC@annpc#557 - people." Keelah@crystyl:"Regrettably so" she agrees. "You have my sympathies for the losses you did experience here still" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Officer: "And you as well. I do not know if your own ship took any losses, but I know a number of Starfleet vessels were lost or severely damaged in the battle." Keelah@crystyl:"I don't think any of us made it through this without losing someone. Whilst I was fortunate to not lose anyone I hold dear, I lost people under my command and with the time we've been together that- Keelah@crystyl:- still hurts like losing family" NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan nods, "I understand. We have all lost far too much family in recent decades, my people moreso than some, but I will not downplay the suffering that the entirety of the galaxy has - NPC@annpc#557 - gone through. I don't think there is a victor for everything we have been through. The Romulans, the Klingons, the Federation- we've survived. But it's difficult to call all that's happened a - NPC@annpc#557 - victory." Keelah@crystyl:"I am glad to see I am not alone in that sentiment. You don't want to know what Q did to my bridge in the moments after the pulse was sent..." NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Officer: "Q? I've heard many things about that one..." Keelah@crystyl:"And they are not likely to be exaggerated either" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Officer: "Then I certainly hope he leaves us alone..." Keelah@crystyl:"As nice a thought as that is, I sincerely doubt it" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Officer: "This psionic evolution that's spreading, is that his handiwork?" Keelah@crystyl:"Yes and no. The Q were responsible for sustaining the Galactic Barrier, and it's removal seems to have been the catalyst for this evolution. However our best working theory at present is that this - Keelah@crystyl:- is less of a step forwards in evolution, and more a step back to where we were meant to be. We believe that the Q were using this psionic power of the galaxies Children to sustain the barrier, - Keelah@crystyl:- though it is just a theory of course" NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan nods, "That sounds plausible. How do you Vulcans learn to use and control your telepathy and perform those mind melds? Is it something you are trained to do or instinctual?" Keelah@crystyl:"The inherent ability is within all of us, but it takes considerable training and discipline to properly meld. Tell me to mind my own business if you like, but can I take your curiosity to mean that- Keelah@crystyl:-you have felt a change in yourself from all of this?" NPC@annpc#557 | The Romulan smirks, "I would tell you to, if I did not think your people would be the best suited to providing that training, given our ancestral kinship. I know a few Remans, but from what I - NPC@annpc#557 - understand, their telepathy is quite different from that of Vulcans and more akin to Letheans or Betazoids." Keelah@crystyl:"A very logical conclusion. Sorry" she smirks a little herself, "However you may do just as well by reaching out to the Esoteric's new temple here. They have set it up for the express purpose of - Keelah@crystyl:- helping those who find themselves with new capability from all of this. And even if they are not the best suited, and you wish to learn more specific Vulcan teachings, they will be able to direct - Keelah@crystyl:- you to the best qualified in the region" NPC@annpc#557 | Romulan Officer: "I shall visit them. Thank you for the suggestion." Keelah@crystyl smiles and nods, "I hope you find the guidance you seek" turning and leaving her to her thoughts NPC@annpc#557 | As Keelah continues across the memorial, a Lodzki turns and makes his way over to her, "You are the one who ended our civil conflict and persuaded the Czostak kingdoms to evacuate, are you not?" Keelah@crystyl turns to the Lodzki, "I commanded that mission, and did my share of convincing. Though I'm not sure I would claim to be solely responsible" NPC@annpc#557 | Lodzki: "But you played no small role in the evacuation of my people. For that, you have my thanks. We have lost many in this battle, but without your efforts, much more would have been lost, - NPC@annpc#557 - perhaps even the entirety of our civilization." Keelah@crystyl:"I am just glad we were able to help your people in time" NPC@annpc#557 | Lodzki: "And my people owe you much for that. You are Captain...Keelas, yes?" Keelah@crystyl smiles, "It is pronounced Keelah, yes" NPC@annpc#557 | Lodzki: "My apologies, Captain Keelah. I am Captain Luvak Verens, Viscount of the Sandori region of Kodek." Keelah@crystyl:"It is a privilege to meet you. You must be looking forward to returning to reclaim your homes now that the Horde is finished?" NPC@annpc#557 | Luvak nods, "Indeed we are. The fleets are already making preparations to return to our worlds, though the Lodzki Alliance will keep a number of ships here to maintain a presence with the - NPC@annpc#557 - Coalition. Speaking of which, you will be pleased to hear that Emperor Mihal has kept his word. Now that the Horde threat is defeated, he is already making preparations to dissolve the Cidrian - NPC@annpc#557 - Empire. The official documents will be formalized once we have returned to our territory, but he has already relinquished command over Kodek and Vasomir, leaving the resettling process to be - NPC@annpc#557 - determined entirely by our own leadership." Keelah@crystyl smiles, "That is indeed wonderful news. Now that we have a stable gateway to Federation space, I am certain we can offer any assistance that may be needed for the process" NPC@annpc#557 | Luvak: "I am sure we colonists will manage, the Czostak Kingdoms will certainly need help," he chuckles. "But in all seriousness, building up a colony world is one thing, resettling everyone - NPC@annpc#557 - back into a fully evacuated world is another. I can already see the administrative nightmares that will no doubt ensue, and we'll take any assistance we can get." Keelah@crystyl:"I am sure we will have a representative ready to work with your people" NPC@annpc#557 | Luvak: "Thank you, Captain. The Lodzki people owe you much. If there is anything you and your people need, I am sure any of our kingdoms will answer your call for aid." Keelah@crystyl:"Thank you, though I would very much like it if we did not find ourselves in such a position now" NPC@annpc#557 | Luvak: "I agree. Let us hope this battle brings us some peace. We have all paid a heavy price, and deserve as much." Keelah@crystyl:"I couldn't agree more. It has been a pleasure meeting you" NPC@annpc#557 | Luvak: "Likewise, Captain," he bows and makes his exit NPC@annpc#557 | Nearby, a small group of Lupan females are gathered at one of the memorial placements Keelah@crystyl makes a tentative approach, not wanting to intrude if they are otherwise occupied NPC@annpc#557 | The Lupan notice her approach and slowly turn to her NPC@annpc#557 | Sister 1: "Ah, the commander of the Starblade, are you not?" Keelah@crystyl chuckles a little, "Your people really are fond of that nickname for the Valley Forge. But yes, I am Captain Keelah" NPC@annpc#557 | Sister 2: "I suppose the name has stuck now. It is a nice name, or so I find it, at least." Keelah@crystyl:"It is least complimentary. I know there are those among her crew who are quite fond of the name as well" NPC@annpc#557 | Sister 1: "You have done much to earn admiration among our people. The name is certainly one of respect." Keelah@crystyl bows her head a little in grace, "Then I shall endeavour to live up to it" NPC@annpc#557 | Sister 3: "I would say you have already. You revealed the true origins and purpose of our people after many millennia of misinterpretation. We have lost many brothers and sisters here, but we - NPC@annpc#557 - have regained who we are. And those who fell here fell doing what we were born to do, something that has not happened for countless generations." Keelah@crystyl:"I look forward to what the future brings for the Lupan now that destiny has been fulfilled" NPC@annpc#557 | Sister 2: "As do we all." NPC@annpc#557 | As Keelah finishes speaking with the Lupan, she notices OSN personnel beginning to arrive, among them Tabadi Lorri and Kayd. Before she gets to them however, a female Klingon reaches them first - NPC@annpc#557 - and strikes up a conversation with the two Tabadin Keelah@crystyl quietly observes NPC@annpc#557 | Klingon: "You're the leaders of the OSN, aren't you?" Keelah@crystyl | Lorri bows her head a little, "Indeed we are Tabadin of the Circle. I am Lorri, and this Kayd" NPC@annpc#557 | Klingon: "I am D'okal of the House of Noggra. You have been away from your home...what was it, Narice, for quite some time, as I understand it?" Keelah@crystyl | Lorri smiles politely, "Narris II to be specific, and yes we left some time ago now in order to travel out here and render aid to colonial cousins. Not half as long as the joint Starfleet mission- Keelah@crystyl - was away for, but still" NPC@annpc#557 | D'okal: "As you may have already been aware, there were some changes in the Empire. You will be pleased to hear that the new Chancellor and High Council have chosen to relinquish the Orion - NPC@annpc#557 - Syndicate as a vassal. They are too weak and too dishonourable to make suitable allies of the Empire. Some Houses are still hiring from the forces of the few remaining cells as mercenaries, - NPC@annpc#557 - cannon fodder more accurately, but the Syndicate as an organization is no longer under the protection of the Klingons." Keelah@crystyl | Lorri smiles, "That is indeed good news, but don't tell me you travelled out the way out here just to tell us that" NPC@annpc#557 | D'okal laughs, "Of course not! I travelled out here for the battle! But I thought you would like the news as well. The rest of your Tabadin are already aware, but quite a number of your forces - NPC@annpc#557 - have come out here. I hear these Colonials you are assisting hate the Syndicate as much as you do, and they might want in on the action as well." Keelah@crystyl | Lorri nods, "You might well be on to something there, thank you for bringing this to our attention" NPC@annpc#557 | D'okal: "Give these honourless baktags what they deserve. They've sat under J'mpok's protection for far too long. Good hunting," the Klingon smirks and walks off Keelah@crystyl | Lorri smiles, "And to you" NPC@annpc#557 | Another Ensign, this one wearing the patch of the USS Enterprise, approaches Keelah, "Captain Keelah." Keelah@crystyl turns, "Hello Ensign" NPC@annpc#557 | Enterprise Ensign: "Captain Shon wanted me to tell you that everyone's here, so we're beginning the memorial ceremony now. He thinks it's appropriate for you to do the addressing speech to - NPC@annpc#557 - start us off." Keelah@crystyl nods, "Of course he does... Thank you Ensign" NPC@annpc#557 | The Ensign nods back, "Come with me, Captain." He leads Keelah to the platform to deliver the speech Keelah@crystyl follows the Ensign, heading into position NPC@annpc#557 | Shon and the other fleet leaders nod to Keelah as she passes by on the way to the centre of the podium Keelah@crystyl makes her way to the central podium and looks out over the crowd, giving them a moment to settle NPC@annpc#557 | The chatter across the memorial hushes before ceasing completely as everyone turns their attention to the podium Keelah@crystyl continues to look across the crowd and smiles, "In the years that have passed since we first embarked on this mission, many a time have I found myself asking 'why are we doing this?'. As I look - Keelah@crystyl:- around this room now, seeing all the different peoples who have been brought together through all of this - from our Iconian and Nuhar vanguards to fellow travellers like the An. As I look out - Keelah@crystyl:- here now and see all of you standing proudly together, I have my answer" she raises her arms, "This. This is what it was all for" NPC@annpc#557 | Members of the crowd raise their arms in cheer to Keelah Keelah@crystyl turns her hand palm out to settle the crowd, "But as much a cause for celebration this may be, we stand here today to recognize the great sacrifices made by so many in order to grant us the luxury - Keelah@crystyl:- of this life. Many brave souls gave their lives in the 'battle of the Heart', souls who we today make this solemn promise to: your efforts will not be in vain, and they will not be forgotten. Too - Keelah@crystyl:- much blood has been spilled here. This Sphere - built by our vanguards not only to defeat the Progenitors Horde, but to safeguard and protect all sentient life in the galaxy. This wonder of - Keelah@crystyl:- technological accomplishment and social responsibility we all know as the 'Heart of War' is given a misjustice. We call it a place of war and spill blood here, and in doing so we do injustice to - Keelah@crystyl:- this beautiful and amazing place. Our Coalition has solidified and moved to call this place it's home as a beacon of what we can do when we stand together for all of the galaxy to learn from. - Keelah@crystyl:- Should that message be war and bloodshed? I say no! This place is a testament to the Children, to all of you and how you stand together now. This is not a place of war, it is a place of unity. So - Keelah@crystyl:- out of respect to those who we memorialize here today I say let it be remembered as such. Forget the Heart of War, and let us all stand together and remember the Heart of Unity" NPC@annpc#557 | The crowd cheers again, with a chant of 'Heart of Unity' slowly rising from among them NPC@annpc#557 | The chant soon spreads among the entire crowd, until all of them are chanting the new name Keelah@crystyl smiles with satisfaction and quietly withdraws from the stage, eager to not overstay her welcome --- Rianni@crystyl | Following Keelah's speech, an open reception ensues where many of the delegates and visitors continue to mingle and savour the occasion Rianni@crystyl & Emma find T'Pia as they wander around, Emma much more comfortable with the large crowd than most others Rianni@crystyl waves, standing on tippy toes, "Hey Pia!" T'Emp@anncaris | TP waves back, "Hey Rianni! Emma, you seem right at home here!" she smiles Rianni@crystyl | Emma beams, "Isn't this wonderful!" Rianni@crystyl:"Impressive yes, but I wouldn't go that far. Way too many people here. Too many variables, too many ways to exploit the situation..." T'Emp@anncaris | TP chuckles, "I think we're safe here, everyone's gathered because we fought the Horde together. I don't think anyone'll be planning anything nefarious, you can stop thinking tactically for - T'Emp@anncaris - once! Plus, there's plenty of Security around from all the different factions if something does come up." Rianni@crystyl:"I agree anyone would be a fool to try, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't. Just wait until next year and they teach you about Khitomer!" Rianni@crystyl | Emma snorts, "Yeah but that was delicate peace talks with Klingons, it was to be expected there!" Rianni@crystyl teases, "You'd know, I bet you were there weren't you" T'Emp@anncaris | TP looks to Emma, "Were you?" Rianni@crystyl | Emma simply grins and kisses her on the cheek, "Look at you all grown up and confident now" Rianni@crystyl flushes meekly T'Emp@anncaris | TP giggles, "After coordinating that successful battle, Rianni's got good reason to be confident! I don't think anyone other than the Iconians have directed Iconian ships in living memory..." Rianni@crystyl:"I still can't get over that" Rianni@crystyl | Emma flicks one of the medals pinned to Rianni's tunic, "You're not the only one" T'Emp@anncaris | TP: "It was certainly quite an experience, wasn't it!" Rianni@crystyl:"One to remember!" she turns to Emma, "Come on, will you stop it already. It's embarrassing!" Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "Why? Torin's pinned something to everyone's tunic off the back of all of this" Rianni@crystyl | Emma proudly brandishes her own couple of decorations including one now very familiar to everyone on the crew as the newly commissioned service award for the Horde conflict Rianni@crystyl:( https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.enjin.com/161311/VF/s10_VFexodus.png ) T'Emp@anncaris | TP chuckles, "I'm surprised she didn't promote you right to Captain with your skill in the CIC and command of the Aethon!" Rianni@crystyl | And just as the conversation continues, two random Ensigns - who would be recognizable if this was some strange alternate reality where everything was being watched by an audience of some - Rianni@crystyl - kind - approach the trio, coming up behind Rianni T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg: "Ensign Rianni...right?" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda giggles, "No, it's Ensign Tierno!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg: "Oh sorry, my apologies, Ensign Tierno." Rianni@crystyl turns to the pair, with a little surprise as she of course doesn't know them. In doing so, also revealing the LTJG pips on her collar T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda: "...Lieutenant Tierno." T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg: "I give up." T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda laughs at her friend before looking to Rianni again, "It /is/ Lieutenant Tierno, yes?" Rianni@crystyl giggles, "I'm still getting used to it myself, don't worry! Um... do I know you guys?" T'Emp@anncaris | The two Ensigns both shake their head T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg, "No, but we've heard a lot about you!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda: "Captain Keelah told us to come find you for career advice." Rianni@crystyl:"I, um... really?" Rianni@crystyl | Emma smirks and gives her a little nudge, "Don't mind her, she likes to make out that she's shy and modest but it's all a scam!" Rianni@crystyl frowns, "Hey! I swear, it's not!" T'Emp@anncaris | TP grins, "It depends on the situation!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda: "You were a cadet and an ensign on the Valley Forge, and we've just gotten our first posting earlier this year, so your Captain thought you'd be helpful!" Rianni@crystyl:"That does make sense" she wraps an arm around TP's shoulder and pulls her to her side, "That does sound like something your mother would do!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg: "Captain Keelah is your mother? I heard that she had a daughter...it's nice to meet you!" Rianni@crystyl wears an ever so slightly smug look at diverting the sudden attention T'Emp@anncaris | TP smiles, "Nice to meet you too!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg: "I'm Coragg, and this is my friend Sauda." T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda: "Great speech your mother gave earlier!" Rianni@crystyl nods, "It really was! I've heard of a few of her speeches, but that was another level" T'Emp@anncaris | TP chuckles, "Yes, she's very good at those!" Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "And she also gives great advice, like telling you two to find this one!" she pats Rianni on the shoulder again, wearing her own smug grin and diverting attention back to her Rianni@crystyl groans to herself, "So... why exactly did the Captain think I'd be able to you guys?" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda: "Well, this is our first posting, we only graduated from the Academy earlier this year and we've only done fleet exercises and short patrols before this, so this is our first - T'Emp@anncaris - time proper out on the frontier!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg: "The Captain said you knew a lot about learning out here as we go." Rianni@crystyl:"Ooh, quite the baptism of fire!" Rianni@crystyl | Emma: "That: coming from the girl who spent her first cadet year blown up on a capital ship, crippled beyond repair, replaced by a clone, and dumped on an Admirals desk by unknown aliens..." T'Emp@anncaris | TP giggles, "I don't think anyone's had a baptism of fire as...fiery as Rianni's, to be fair." Rianni@crystyl:"But coming out here, to face the Horde? I don't know, that's right up there!" she looks to the pair, "So what are your thoughts coming out of it now?" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda: "Well neither of us were pilots, so we were in the ship the whole time, but it was still quite terrifying. The Megaris participated in war games before coming out here in - T'Emp@anncaris - preparation, but nothing quite prepares you for the real thing." Rianni@crystyl:"You can say that again! But you've seen the worst the galaxy has to offer in that battle, and you've seen the best here today. I saw the extremes like that as well while I was a cadet. We - Rianni@crystyl:- were with a field trip on the Gainsborough during first contact with the Azedi, and I was one of the few survivors from that ship. And yes I got replaced by the Observer, but we know now it wasn't- Rianni@crystyl:- malicious and the Junayd actually healed me while I was in their stasis. Then I returned to see Starfleet at its worst with the infighting and bickering, but I also saw it at it's best through - Rianni@crystyl:- some of the officers the Observer befriended, including Captain Keelah. Everyone pushed for me to resign from Starfleet there and then, you know. But for me, it felt like turning away from - Rianni@crystyl:- everything I'd seen and experienced in that first year out here would be like running away, and I just felt that I couldn't live with myself if I didn't face it. So I stayed, and took the offer to- Rianni@crystyl:- continue my studies on the Valley Forge! Captain Keelah was always kind and supportive, so it felt like a place where I was best positioned to conquer that fear. So I guess... it depends how you - Rianni@crystyl:- guys feel about things now that you've experienced the worst; are you desperate to see Earth again, and surround yourselves with the comfort of the familiar, or do your hearts yearn for more be it- Rianni@crystyl:- to taste more of the excitement of the unknown or to face the fear?" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg smiles, "That's great advice, Lieutenant! I think I'd like to stay out here- as scary as our introduction to this region was, we didn't join Starfleet to take up desk jobs or - T'Emp@anncaris - system patrols." T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda nods, "And from what we've heard of your missions out here, there's plenty of wonder and discovery to be had too!" Rianni@crystyl smiles, "Then it sounds like you've already made up your minds. Don't worry, it's not all big intergalactic battles! Especially here and now, I think we're staying here for quite a while now to set- Rianni@crystyl:-up shop for the Coalition and I'm sure we won't be the only Starfleet vessel! There's so much here alone, you could build an entire career just from study of all the history, genetics, alien races,- Rianni@crystyl:- and technology here!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Sauda smiles back, "I know right! And we'll be sure to take full advantage of that! Thanks for the talk, Lieutenant!" Rianni@crystyl:"I hope it works out for you guys! As long as you're staying around here, you can always reach out to the three of us if we can be of any help. There's a lot of unfamiliar species here, just as - Rianni@crystyl:- starters. But we've gotten to know a lot of them and the sphere itself so we're happy to help!" T'Emp@anncaris | Ensign Coragg: "We'll keep that in mind! See you around, Lieutenant!" The two Ensigns wave as they turn to head off. Rianni@crystyl smiles and waves back to the pair, commenting once they're gone, "When did I go from being a cadet to being a respected officer giving advice to graduates...?" T'Emp@anncaris | TP grins, "I guess that's what getting a second pip does to you!" Rianni@crystyl | Emma chuckles, "Or maybe it's just the weight of all that decoration on your tunic!" Rianni@crystyl groans T'Emp@anncaris | The episode credits roll... T'Emp@anncaris | After a few minutes when they are finished, the episode doesn't end like usual. Instead, it fades into a large round room where a number of people are gathered. Some are Starfleet personnel - T'Emp@anncaris - wearing modern command and flag uniforms, others seeming to be members of Federation species but donning an unfamiliar uniform variant. A few Klingons, Romulans and members of other powers can - T'Emp@anncaris - be seen among the group as well. An individual looking to be Vora walks into the room, but the tactical Odyssey uniform and red instead of black tattoos marks her as the fully grown Yala from - T'Emp@anncaris - the alternate future. She is one of the last to enter and doesn't take a seat, though a large Klingon wearing one of the unfamiliar uniforms does pull up a chair and sit down. As all the seats - T'Emp@anncaris - are filled, the same mysterious individual wearing a darker version of the unfamiliar uniform with a purple department colour enters. This is the same individual seen rescuing Yala from the - T'Emp@anncaris - alternate VF's destruction T'Emp@anncaris | The camera only films the mysterious man from the back as he takes a seat, never revealing his face T'Emp@anncaris | Mysterious Man: "The Horde have been defeated. It's time to begin Phase Three..." T'Emp@anncaris FX | https://youtu.be/AdpphN93C40