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Prologue: Edge of Chaos [Day 01|0900 hrs.]


"In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order."
― Carl Jung

[ Unknown ]

Opening her eyes, she was met by the sight of white walls cast in shadow - the dim light of her cell unchanging no matter how many weeks passed. Once more, it struck her how she had preferred her last prison cell, since there was no adjacent lab to which she might be taken. No invasive studies to suffer. Not treated like an animal in a pen. No fear for the fate of her crew. Before, she had known they were just beyond the bulkheads, in cells akin to her own, but now? She had been shown how some of them were... liquified.

Recycled, they had called it, and she had no idea how many of her remaining crew had met that gruesome end.

Unable to retreat into the privacy of her lamentations, a sudden teal shimmer of light revealed a figure standing in the middle of her cell, and in equal parts surprise and flight instinct, she found herself pulling away - wrapping her arms around her bare form and scooting closer to the wall. Shivering, she bit her teeth together to keep them from chattering - the cool air having gone bone-deep. She realised that they must have been watching her, and transported someone inside once she woke up.

"Captain," the figure said, his voice thrumming against the walls in its eldritch echo, and his eyes shining white. "By the winds, I regret seeing your promotion didn't work out so well for you."

"Stay a-away from me," she spat, baring her teeth at the long-haired humanoid, not recognising him at first. Yet the white lab coat he wore... it stirred memories that helped her realise to whom she was speaking with. It was someone that had served under her command for two years. His name came out as a whisper, as she remembered clearly what Wenn Cinn and Ranaan Ducote had told her about him aboard the Cayuga. "Nicander?"

"Indeed," the Câroon said, the white light spilling from his smiling lips while he spoke. He slowly approached her. "A pleasure making your reacquaintance, Anya Ziegler."

"I know what you are..." Anya hissed, seeing how the Doctor's bare torso was horribly scarred below that lab coat he wore - the white fabric splattered with blood that couldn't just be his own. There was... a sweet smell in the air, which made her think thoughts she couldn't give any credence to. She pushed up further against the wall, yet her glare remained. "What you always were, hiding in our midst. What do you want?"

"I have merely come to tell you that your days as a flesh-puppet has come to an end." The Infested came to a stop at arm's length from her, and the sweet scent of him was making it hard to think. His feet were bare, and in spite of her situation, she found herself looking at the outline of his black trousers. Nicander crouched down, his face level with hers, and it was as if his voice reverberated through her whole body. "As soon as we arrive, you will have true purpose. No more a mere cretin serving the primal whims of your basic existence."

"No..." she whispered, shaking her head defiantly when she realised what he implied, "I will rather die than become like you."

"You say that now..." he said with his head tilted, and reached out with a tattooed hand, running his thumb across her lips. Why did she not bite him? "Yet you have no idea what exists beyond this realm of existence."

She didn't understand what he meant. It was hard to think. "How c-can you condone your own actions?" she said in a thick voice, ignoring how his presence made her feel. "You are trying to... You aim to end... everything. Why?"

The smile he gave her almost made Anya forget what he was, leaning into his touch instead of away from him. "Your hosts aboard this ship, they sought to harness the energy of a distant anomaly, more vast than anything inside this Galaxy. The sheer gravitational pull is of it will absorb all of what you can see eventually." She tried to concentrate on what he was saying, rather than how his fingers ran down the side of her throat. "Oh, they were thrifty, the Savi, reaching it's power through a temporal breach rather than travelling there. Yet what they found... beyond the event horizon... was another reality, superior to ours. A means to become something more than they were."

"That d-doesn't explain..." she whispered, and then swallowed. Her studies in complexity sciences came to her, and she tried to focus on her old research in the Academy rather than the way the Doctor made her feel. "I know you have something inside you. Something that changed you. You don't know the n-nature of what they found. You are describing a black hole, and there could be anything beyond it. What if the parasite inside you was an intentional emission? Don't you see?"

"What lies beyond is incomprehensible to you," the Doctor said, shaking his head slowly, and Anya had to close her eyes since the light from his eyes was too bright. Still, she could feel his warm fingertips travel her cool skin. "Chaos has no will of its own."

"It c-could be deception. You may... see it as chaos, but what if... it's... some kind of conscious intent? An adaptive system so old, so vast, that it needs free energy in order to continue adapting," she whispered drowsily, opening her eyes just so that she might look at his lips. The sweet scent he emanated was fogging up her thoughts, but she found refuge in what she'd written in one of her dissertations. "If... If that thing inside you came from that anomaly... Then it m-might have acted in self-defence."

While Anaya's mind was swimming with need for him, for his continued touch, she felt his fingers leave her skin.

"Like... an evolved biosphere, producing toxic o-or repellent metabolites... such that would incite defensive behavioural changes... to kill competition," Anya suggested, and she realised that she had her back against the wall. That smell was deteriorating her instinct of self-perseverance... but she fought it, tried to focus on her train of thought. "Parasites... that change the behaviour of their hosts, making it able to feed more efficiently. Devouring all energy bound in matter. Lucan... listen to me, if I am right, you have become a disposable agent of its defence or its feeding habits... or both... protecting it in spite of your better knowledge."

"You are wrong," he said quietly, and Anya felt his hand seize her throat - leaving her bereft of air. The pain made her panic, and whatever else she had wanted moments ago, she now tried to get free - flailing against his grip. "I am not inferior. I am one with my likeminded. We are a part of it, in shared cognisance. We grant control and direction to the maelstrom. You... perpetuate a lie, live in a charade of arbitrary laws, in the pretence of control, yet you're naught more than the mere animals you are."

Anya clawed, struck and tried to scream, but the pressure just increased.

"We have other candidates. Other opportunities. You could have had it all, Anya."

Something gave away in her neck, and there was a loud sound.

Then, there was nothing.


OOC: This was Part 1 of 2, depicting events "behind enemy lines" so to speak.

Re: Prologue: Edge of Chaos [Day 01|0900 hrs.]

Reply #1

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“Never was anything great achieved without danger.”
― Niccolo Machiavelli

[ Ambassador Elim Garak | Classified Coordinates | Aboard Paris One ]
Opening his eyes, Elim Garak remembered what he'd dreamt, which explained the cold sweat beading his ashen skin.

He could see the cause for the tremor through the viewport behind the Federation President. At the epicentre of the detonation, the tall structure of the Palais de la Concorde was toppling over, looking like it had been made out of cards. The presidential transport wasn't changing course, so the trajectory was still towards the spreading cloud that rolled across Paris. Shuttles caught dropped from the city sky, the aerial traffic turning into bombardment against the streets - detonating against asphalt or glass facades. Garak was screaming in the direction of the helm. "Turn around! Stay away from it!"

In the chaos that followed, Garak saw Ashanté Phiri having raised communications with the sh'Rothress. Phiri screamed as she saw the shaking man on the screen, Fred MacDougan, Bacco's communications director, disintegrate into ash before her, and it was the kind of scream of someone whom held the affected dear. Then, the cloud reached the presidential transport as well, and Garak felt himself meet the same fate - the screams of Bacco's staff the last thing he heard.
Perhaps the dream was a premonition, foreshadowing his death, for even if he had survived the thalaron bomb in Paris four weeks ago, what he planned to do might have him meet that fate nonetheless. Feeling his age, yet knowing that too much rode on the answer he sought to find, Garak got out of bed and dressed. In the dim light of his quarters aboard Paris One, he picked a light shirt and a dark coat with pinstripe stitching, and the boots he'd more or less lived in since he left the USS Venture. Feelings his hands shaking at the prospect of what lay ahead, he stilled his nerves with a deep breath and a thought-exercise that let him focus. Whether or not he was right or wrong wasn't the cause for his concern, but that either outcome presented different sets of challenges - personal and for the war-to-come.

Yan-pret Cardăsa-çăk... Garak thought, though even if he would do it for Cardassia, Rakena Garan - the Castellan - hadn't sanctioned his decision... allowing her deniability.

Staring at his reflection in the mirror, he realised he was stalling, so he promptly raked back his hair, tied it back, and then went to his desk. There, he picked up the device he had assembled from parts he'd collected or replicated in secrecy over the course of the weeks since he'd communed with the USS Theurgy, and left his accommodations. Perhaps, he knew, for the last time. He could but hope what he'd do wouldn't reflect badly on his people, and lead to hostility. The message he had prepared on his desk would likely mitigate the risk of that as much as possible, though he couldn't be entirely sure it would be enough. With the device safely hidden in his mineral-laced coat pocket, he walked down the corridor - to his appointment with President Bacco.

While he waited in the antechamber to the President's office, Garak went out of his way to act normal, engaging in small talk with the secretary, making it a game to make her laugh. Even when the doors opened and the Federation Security Advisor exited Bacco's office, Garak didn't look in the Trill's direction for more than a second. He was Admiral Jas Abrik, who favoured a very hard-line, nationalistic approach to defence and foreign policy, but more importantly, he was a Starfleet officer, whom might be one of those compromised. Garak had kept his eyes on the man since that fateful day when Paris was bombed, wondering if the Trill was seeding the President's mind with what the Infested wanted her to know. It could be he did it unknowingly, of course, and some would say he was paranoid. Garak had found, however, that 'paranoid' was what they called people who imagined threats against their life, whilst the threats to his own life were quite real.

"The President will see you now," the Human secretary said with a grin, a warm look in her eye, which Garak returned with a smile before entering Nan Bacco's office. One of the security guards standing outside the doors ran a scan, frowned for a second, but dismissed whatever residual reading he imagined he may have seen on the small screen. A potentially 'career'-ending error on his part, Garak thought, though he took no joy in it, the stakes too high for mirth.

"Ambassador Garak," Bacco said, remaining seated behind her desk - the Federation emblem emblazoned on the bulkhead behind her as if someone would mistake her for anything less than what she represented. "My apologies for not being able to honour your request to speak with me before now, but I am sure you can understand... given the times we are in. Do you carry word from Cardassia?"

To the point, as always.

"Madam President," he said, and smiled even though he could feel his heart beating faster. "First of all, I would like to thank you for allowing me to remain aboard in these troubling times. Given the development, Cardassia is grateful for the intel that the Federation has so graciously provided on the events in the Klingon Empire as well as the Romulan Border. It has served to strengthen the understanding that the ties between my people and the Federation can be strengthened."

"Of course," Bacco said, and his idle talk had her glance towards the low console screens on her desk, just like he had hoped. It allowed him to start idly pacing the spacious office, keeping his side out of direct line-of-sight.

"I do not carry word from the Castellan, however..." Without preamble, the movement idle and seemingly non-threatening, Garak reached into his pocket, pulled out the device and activated it in one smooth motion. The noise it made seemed louder than he remembered, the anyonic phase variance already calibrated. "...but others whom are in dire need to be heard."

"Is that so?" Bacco asked, a slight twitch in her brow telling him how what he'd said hadn't been expected. "Whom might that be?"

"First, if you would just allow me a precautionary measure... I will tell you everything I know," he said, thinking that if he was wrong, it would be a short meeting indeed.

"I am sorry, I don't quite follow..." Bacco said, her frown cutting deeper into her brow.

Past the point of no return, Garak turned to face her, and the invisible subatomic particle beam hit the President.


OOC: This was Part 1 of 2, depicting a meeting aboard Paris One, set at 0900 hrs.

Re: Prologue: Edge of Chaos [Day 01|0900 hrs.]

Reply #2

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“Marlowe is asking the questions and proposing the possible solutions that we should be demanding from the elected leaders of Federation. His brilliant analysis of this ridiculous system we're operating under is one of the most important voices for change in these times.”
― Victoria Nuzé, reviewing Judicious Journeys

[ Dr. James Hudson Marlowe | The Judicious Journeys Studio | Aboard the SS Liberum | Ganalda Space Station ]
Hiking up the sleeves of his loose shirt, Doctor James Marlowe stepped up on the circular podium of his famous studio. The setting of the Judicious Journeys show was well known to his viewers across two Quadrants, by both critics and devoted fans alike, and for the first time in many years - due to the content he was about to share - James was singing under his breath, feeling the pressure to preform at his best. It's time...

When he'd started out, he had recorded from a cheap holo-environment, but since a few years back he'd had the actual studio built, which he preferred since it felt more authentic. It was compiled in the aft section of his dear ship, the SS Liberum, and he'd been more than pleased to get her back from the KDF after his brief incarceration. She was docked at Ganalda Space Station since four hours ago, and the arrangements to gain access to the Klingon subspace relay network had been a long time coming. Marlowe just had to give the word, and the encryption overrides would let him reach as many viewers as possible, whom in turn might record and stream the feed across the Federation networks. It all depended, essentially, on reaching a critical mass of viewers, and the manner in which his subspace transmission might be blocked. While he waited, James believed he felt a reverberation in the deck, as if something had hit the ship, but he couldn't afford to give it any attention right then. They were in a busy spaceport full of Klingons, and he had private security personnel aboard that could deal with it. Usually, they dealt with critics, but if some drunk dolt had touched the Liberum when trying to dock, they could deal with that as well.

"Are we ready?" he asked excitedly in the direction of the booth. Rylan Sil was standing in the back of it, and he was this daring FNN Reporter that James had met on Qo'noS. He was the red-haired source that had approached him after gathering as much material as he could from the aftermath of the Battle of the Houses and then conducted interviews aboard the USS Theurgy itself. Shrewd as the man was, he had quickly realised that staying aboard the pariah ship wasn't ideal, so he ghosted them and asked to use Marlowe's subscriber base for his collected material. The busy blonde woman seated by the controls was James' young producer, Amy Burman, whom had resigned her position as Junior Research Associate on the Federation News Service a few years ago in order to work for James on Judicious Journeys. When she heard his question inside the booth, she typed out a reply that appeared on the teleprompter.


Here goes... James thought, and he saw Rylan activating his flying camera unit, about to record everything from the booth even though the main camera was in front of the podium. Before the light went green, James took a deep breath, and cleared his throat. Then... he was live.

"Greetings and welcome to Judicious Journeys,' he said, putting on a warm smile where he stood in the centre of the podium, "I'm your host, Doctor James Hudson Marlowe, and in this episode, we are going to talk about something that isn't isolated to one specific planet that I've visited. No, this isn't just one cultural quirk or a niche political malpractice. Oh, no... this effects everyone, not just you who are seeing this, but everyone you know. Unlike previous episodes through the years, this one is also a live broadcast, so before I begin, I humbly ask all our devoted fans out there to please record and share the subspace feed to everyone you know, because given the topic at hand, there is a risk that the feed might be blocked. Yes, you heard me right. The impact of this message I bring today depend on you, and I cannot stress that enough. Record, share the feed, boost the signal. As I live and breathe, if you will permit me the trite words, I swear that lives and the future of the Federation depend on it."

Pausing, James thought he heard noises from the starboard section of the ship, but muffled as it was, he couldn't make out what it was. Rylan Sil and Amy didn't hear anything inside the soundproof booth since they were just hearing his hidden microphone, so the rogue FNN reporter just watched him thoughtfully while Amy typed a message on the teleprompter.


So far so good, James thought, before continuing. "Originally, in this episode, I had intended to explain how Klingon culture’s mating rituals bear great resemblance to the ancient First Hebitian civilization on Cardassia," he said, eyes creased in a smile, before turning a tad more serious, "but that will have to wait, because while I was embroiled in research on that topic, Chancellor Martok was challenged by an usurper from House Mo'Kai, and if you had been astute enough - quick enough - you would have caught the broadcast sent from the Great Hall of the Klingon Empire - their very seat of power. Did you see it? Not to to worry, Starfleet did its best to dampen the spread of the recording, and neither the FNN nor the Federation News Service paid it more than lip service, dismissing it all due to the reported ties between Martok and the renegade Theurgy ship. The media outlets have done nothing but smear Martok for his choices, and Starfleet made it no secret that they hoped that Gorka, Son of Margon, would have succeeded in becoming the new Chancellor. Diplomatic ties are... frosty, to say the least, and no wonder. Don't fret, for I have the entire thing message. Without further ado, here it is, and we're sending the file across the subspace feed separately as well, so that you can download it."

Nodding to Amy, she hit a button and displayed the recording from the Great Hall on the screens behind James, which began with showing the real Simulcast that the Theurgy had meant to send from Starbase 84, with Ives words about the Infested resounding through the studio. Meanwhile it played, James frowned a little, since he'd already seen it many times, and instead thought he heard commotion from another end of the ship. He shouldn't be nervous, he knew, because given the number of death-threats and crazy people in countless worlds, he had the best private security latinum could buy, along with defensive tech measures. Are the Klingons here to investigate the breach into the relay system already?


Dammit, they're cutting me out... While the simulcast was still playing, James directed himself to the camera. "Please! All you viewers out there, don't be idle! Record and share this to as many as you can! Our subspace feeds is being severed!"

The simulcast wound to its end, with Ives' dire words, and James was feeling crestfallen. Less than five hundred viewers. Rylan Sil was pacing the booth, infuriated, but his floating camera was still directed at James. The anti-grav camera reminded him to keep the show going, for the few that remained. "Now," he said, forcing a smile, "let's see what Martok did."


Clenching his jaw, James turned to look at the panorama screen as it showed how Gorka made the attempt to try and kill Martok, and Captain Ives stepped in Gorka's way, taking the Klingon blade to his shoulder. Once Gorka had fallen, killed by members of Ives' crew, Martok went to Councilor Kopek's body on the Great Hall's floor. He cut him open with his dagger, and pulled out the parasite that had fused with the Councilor's innards. The Klingon High Chancellor roared his words on the recording, and thrust the dead creature into the air. The echo of his last words hit the walls of the studio. "Heed me, and spread the word to every world, every fleet and all lesser Houses not present here today... that the Klingon Empire will stand ready. These demons can hide no more, because this hour, from here on, our eyes are open! 'ang'eghQo' quvHutlhboghjaghneHghobtaHvISghaH!"


With just seven viewers, James wondered whom they were, somewhere out there. It had been a bold attempt, worth making, but they'd failed to reach a critical mass of viewers. The sounds of commotion aboard his ship was stressful, but he had a show to focus on, so he resigned himself to continue nonetheless. "This... was not a fabrication," he said quietly, struggling to remember his own manuscript. "This... This is the truth. The truth that the Theurgy crew has been fighting to protect, and to spread. How do I know this? You know that I don't bring facts to this show without proper research. While I was on Qo'noS, I met one of its crewmembers. Enyd Isolde Madsen, and she was not a bloody hologram, I tell you. No puppet of an A.I. Better yet, a reporter from the FNN - even more of a sceptic than me - was aboard the ship, conducting interviews. We have hours of footage. Everything said is real, and I know how hard that can be to imagine after all that we've seen on the news. Hours upon hours of footage from the persecution of that ship. The bodies! The debris! But think! Why was the Theurgy pursued in the first place, unless Starfleet Command had something to hide? What if that first simulcast from Starbase 84 was indeed fake? Altered, to keep you all docile and unknowing?"

Amy Burman suddenly sored to her feet in the booth, eyes wide. Rylan Sil joined her by the controls, and he hurriedly typed a message. James could already imagine what it would say. The Klingons had severed their access.


James couldn't believe it. The... Vera Rubin?


Silently, he just looked at the main camera, into the eyes of the the exponentially growing number of viewers out there. It worked...

1 203 456 LIVE STREAMS!

Then, he remembered himself, feeling his heart thundering in his chest. Lightheaded, he spoke anew. "As you know... As I have told you all before, a small minority cannot control an uncooperative majority. To assert control, the public must be anesthetized, distracted or scared into compliance. This enemy has taken control of that minority, controlling what information you see. The FNN has been pumping out propaganda to guarantee deniability, to make sure the truth seem absurd. Just look at the correspondence of late! Look at it!" James swept his hand towards the screen behind him, and articles from the FNN appeared with its fear-mongering headlines. "Starfleet Command is no longer themselves, and as I have kept telling you, even when we are not actively deceived, the unenlightened have great capacity to engage in self-deception in order to navigate through life.... in some kind of delusional state of blissful ignorance. This is what this enemy wants, so wake up! I believe you can do better!"

Rylan Sil was dancing inside the glass booth, laughing soundlessly, and Amy had covered her mouth with a trembling hand whilst typing.

34 122 344 LIVE STREAMS

This is history in the making, James realised. "The crew of the Theurgy is alive, fighting for their lives to expose these parasites! They have been defending themselves at every turn, and we have all just been sitting there, in moronic procrastination, watching the media and believing the lies! What's next?" he asked loudly, and even though he was positive he heard the commotion aboard his ship edging closer to the studio, the eyes of the Galaxy was on him. "It was the human named Voltaire that once said 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities'. 'Who else are Infested', you must ask yourselves! How deep does this go? Can we trust in any authorities? There is a way! A scientific way to expose the-!"

That was when the door in the corner opened, bathing the studio in firelight. The door was off screen, and a black monstrosity in damaged armour entered through the flames, with three legs and insect-like limbs. A chittering sound came from it. Frozen in place by the sight... James gaped in horror as it opened fire against the control booth.


OOC: This was Part 1 of 2 aboard the SS Liberum, where the broadcast started at 0900 hrs. The three previous posts all detail events that take place at 0900 hrs on Day 1.

The next post, which will be up tomorrow, will jump back an hour and take place at at 0800 hrs aboard the Theurgy, initiating the Senior Staff meeting that will launch the events described in the loose Story Workshop manuscript. The starter for the Senior Staff meeting will also open up for Supplemental one-on-one threads for characters not in the Senior Staff.

Stay tuned, and I hope you have enjoyed these three starting scenes, which continuations will be posted later in this thread! :)

Re: Prologue: Edge of Chaos [Day 01|0900 hrs.]

Reply #3


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[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Brig | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: All  
As promised, Cam had brought him breakfast, but Doctor Lucan cin Nicander had barely eaten by the time the Senior Staff meeting was due. Not just because of Cam, but because he was too restless - the urgency of what he'd learn weighing on him. I don't even know whom most of the Senior Staff are at this point, he thought, since many of the newly arrived had wisely chosen to keep their identities hidden from him. Well, perhaps not from him, specifically, but the Infested whom might see them through his eyes.

For that reason, the uplink to the Conference Lounge on Deck 01 would be masked on his end, and he'd just be able to hear the voices of those present in the room. They, however, would be able to see him - standing there in the middle of his cell. He was waiting, dressed in his uniform and even wearing shoes, like he had been doing before his incarceration. The fold-out table mounted on the bulkhead of his cell was still littered with PADDs containing his research, but he'd made the effort to tidy up his cell aside from that. Lucan clenched his jaw and looked at the surveillance unit mounted in the deckhead outside the forcefield, waiting for Thea to tell him that the time was due.

Late, the evening before, he had finalised his report and sent it to Captain Ives, whom in turn had distributed the intel on what the Scion High Council aimed to do. Hopefully, most of the Senior Staff would have had time to read his report on enemy activity, but if not, he would be available for any questions they might have. The important thing, as far as he was concerned, was that he'd be heard, and that he'd managed to prove his credibility over the course of the past couple of months to a degree in which he wouldn't have keep defending himself against unfounded victim-blaming.

At least Captain Ives would heed his warning, since he'd been right about all intel he'd given the crew so far. He'd saved the crew aboard the Sword by giving them the Rotarran's shield harmonics, told them of the potential use of the Omega device in the Azure Nebula, given them the anyonic phase variance that has proven to kill Infested by phasing the parasites with the host bodies, warned about the Breen being provoked to to join the war, and helped find the Infested in the Klingon High Council. He'd even done the same with the Romulans, naming the Praetor as another Infested just after the attack on Paris. Now, he was about to warn them again, about a threat potentially greater than all the others.

The threat of the Hobus star, and not just in how it was about to go supernova, but that the Infested meant to rend the fabric of space-time - opening another breach into the voracious dark.

[Doctor Nicander,] Thea said over the intercom. [Link established. They can see and hear you now.]

Vowing that he would try to be as tolerant as possible, having made that promise to Cam, Lucan raised his light grey eyes to look at the surveillance unit. Despite the urgency, he willed himself to wait - to speak when spoken to.

[ Captain Ives | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy Attn:All
When all members of the Senior Staff were seated - some newly appointed and some having served for a longer time - Captain Ives started the meeting.

"Welcome," Jien said, in his male form since early that morning, and he was the only one standing aside from Thea - whom remained in the back of the room with her hands folded behind her back. Cam was, as always, seated at her desk in the corner, responsible for logs and incoming messages through the duration of the meeting. "Brigadier Zyrao Natauna has given us word from Chancellor Martok that Empress Donatra's fleet is due to arrive at the Klingon border in five hours. Originally, that would have been the first item on our agenda, but instead we should begin with Doctor Nicander's report. I sent it to all of you late last night, since it describes a new development beyond the RNZ - at the very heart of the Romulan Star Empire."

Jien nodded to Thea, whom cued a hologram to appear above the conference table - showing a sphere-like superstructure, with a thick ring connected to it around its lower base.

"This is a rendition of the threat, made by Thea as Nicander detailed it from his witness account. The Scion High Council means to create a supernova using the Hobus star, and using the energy from it, they mean to make another breach into the origin dimension of our enemy. So not only might they gain greater influence, likely becoming far more numerous, but depending on the energy exerted and the laws of thermokinetic expansion in vacuum, this is not just a threat to Romulan space, but to the Federation and the Alpha Quadrant as well. Even the Klingons are likely to be hit, and the majority of their remaining fleets are now at the Romulan border."

Pausing there, Jien looked at those gathered, letting them think about the implications, before moving on. "Given the fact that Commander Nicander has not failed us once since his mind was severed from his parasite, I am prepared to act on this threat, because not doing so - with the stakes in mind - could be catastrophic. Whether or not you agree with that course of action, and despite any lingering grievances you may have with his actions whilst under parasitic influence, I ask you to reserve your opinion until after you have heard him out." With a serious frown, he added, "I know what you may think of his past actions, and I have long shared in the scepticism about whether or not he has been telling the truth... but I am prepared to judge him by what he has done for this mission and this crew now, rather than what the parasite made him do before. Until he gives us a reason to doubt him again, I believe his intel on the enemy ought to be heeded."

After a brief pause, to let those present think on that, Jien continued.

"Doctor Nicander will be able to answer any questions you may have. I am sure you have some, despite how detailed his report was. Please keep in mind that he is unaware of our alliance with the Voice and the rebel Savi, thinking that he is spying on the Scion High Council for our protection alone. If he learns that we are working with the rebels, it may compromise them in their fight against the Scions. As for our whereabouts in orbit of Qo'noS, it is no secret, since the Infested already know where we are. The Doctor even helped us name Kopek, son of Nargor, as one of them. He will not be able to see the people in this room, since the Infested may see your faces through his eyes, and your presence aboard might still be an unknown to Starfleet."

Then, Jien turned to Cam. "Ensign, would you please link us to the Doctor's cell? Thank you."

OOC: We'll be testing something new to lend some speed in compiling a Senior Staff meeting. Instead of a posting order, and a long waiting-game, all writers whom have a Senior Staff member now has 10 days staring from January 1 2023, to contribute a couple of short paragraphs of writing into a Joint-Post. This means that there is no set posting order, and that everyone with Senior Staff characters must post in the Joint-Post before the 11th of January. This Joint-Post is hosted on the wiki, which you all have access to, and the link is HERE. More details about how the Joint-Post is to be created can be found there as well. As for Nicander's report, all the relevant information about the Hobus supernova threat can be read in this thread.

As of this post, it's now open to post new Supplemental threads for this Prologue, where you can depict one-on-one or group scenes with other writers in your own IC subplots on this morning of Day 01. The limitation of the IC time-span for these Supplemental threads will span from 0500 hrs. to 0900 hrs. This means that the Judicious Journeys broadcast - and its ending - has yet to be aired, and the reactions to that will be reserved for later. The naming convention for these one-on-one Supplemental threads that belonging to Prologue is: PRO: S [D01|YYYY] Insert Title (YYYY marking the time in the morning). This main thread of the Prologue is, however, restricted to the Senior Staff Joint-Posts for the time being.

Here are some ideas/themes for Supplemental threads that you all can write with your characters at this point of Episode 02, but I am sure you have plenty of ideas of your own as well, so just consider these to be inspirational towards how you choose to introduce your character in this Episode! Click here:
Given experience from Episode 01: Advent of War, where some writers neglected to participate in favour of continuing to write in the Aldea Prime Anthology - or not write at all - a character introduction in Episode 02 is to be considered mandatory for active participation in the sim, so please find writing partners and jump into the telling of the main story, because her we go!

Re: Prologue: Edge of Chaos [Day 01|0900 hrs.]

Reply #4


[ Senior Staff Meeting | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: All

When Doctor Nicander appeared on the screen next to the curved conference table, Jien turned to face it with his hands on his hips. "Doctor, can you hear us?"

[Loud and clear, Captain,] Lucan said over the intercom.

"The Senior Staff has your report on this threat, and instead of revisiting it in that level of detail here, I will let the Senior Staff ask their questions."

[Of course, sir.] The Doctor began to slowly pace his cell, likely because he was unable to look the people that would address him in the eye. The first one to speak was Alana Pierce, the new Chief Intelligence Officer.

Pierce looked onward at Dr. Nicander's report and continued to gather data on her own PADD before her. The situation was mounting a monumental situation that was quickly spiraling out of control, that is unless they managed to get there first and terminate the Infested's plans. While many aboard the Theurgy didn't trust the doctor for various reasons, she herself had reason to trust him. His guidance in the brig when inquiring for additional intelligence and saving her hide along with that of Byrne's was added ammunition for her to listen to the good doctor's report.

"Doctor, what is it that we're dealing with in as far as the Infested? While I find this monstrosity alarming as well, there are engineers aboard with the wherewithal to take it down...hopefully." She paused momentarily allowing the situation to settle a little. "Are there Romulans or specific individuals you can provide further data on that we might be able to apprehend that may be compromised? Or key individuals that we can send in as interference to... stall or put a wrench into the situation? Any intelligence at all that could help us attack this beast on multiple fronts would be extremely beneficial right now with our presently unknown time window."

Lucan nodded, and it seemed like he recognised Alana's voice - a small smile of recognition touching his lips. [I have already ascertained that the Praetor is an Infested, but in order to aid this endeavour further, I realise that I may have to use my connection them to identify more individuals. So far, the transphasic light has been able to bring me back when I have used my ability, and while I do not relish the prospect, given the toll it takes, I will do it once more. Whether or not I learn something useful is yet to be ascertained, but it is worth the attempt.]

Kai Akoni, the Chief of Security, sat in his chair and pondered the report, holding the PADD in his hand. The whole thing was an exercise in mental gymnastics for him. On the one hand the report had to be taken seriously and something obviously needed to be done. On the other hand, he wasn’t entirely sure that Nicander could be trusted. However, whatever was asked of him, he would do. He just needed to know the answer to one question in order to make a plan. He looked at the screen and looked into the eyes of the man and asked “Depending on how the plan unfolds, if it requires an infiltration by personnel, are you going to want to come?”. Akoni asked the question, knowing that he’d unfortunately lose some of his people regardless of the answer.

[By the winds, Commander Akoni, I am a Doctor, not a commando,] Lucan said with a wry smile, looking at one of the bulkheads in his cell. [In all seriousness, however, given the required security arrangements my presence would demand, I think I would serve best from my cell, providing intel as best as I might to ensure mission accomplishment - perhaps even in real time if that would help. Yet... I don't see how me being in an infiltration team would do ought else than encumber those better abled... and if I am hurt, the parasite may take control like it did when that Devoted shot me in the Azure Nebula.]

Chief Engineer Arnold turned his hard eyes on the Doctor on the screen. "Okay, so we need to get close enough to this monstrosity to either strike at it directly, or land strike teams to blow it apart.  Do you have any information on the defences of this place and any ship's around it? The Theurgy is tough, but a Savi ship is a tough proposition.  Can we spoof their sensors on the approach and in battle?  It's always better to not get hit and I wouldn't want test the shields against...." The Chief stopped as his eyes narrowed speculatively in thought.  "How susceptible is this thing to a solar jet?  If the Hobus star is doomed anyway, losing a minuscule fraction of it's mass early shouldn't hurt in the galactic scheme of things.  We could drop Thea close to the star and trigger the jet with and EM Pulse.  The calculation could be tricky, but it's definitely doable."

Nicander seemed to give this some thought. [While the solution proposed is outside of my forte, and I am ill versed in matters purely tactical, I think one viable method to learn if Savi shields would be susceptible would be to look at the sensor readings from Thea's encounter with the Versant? There might be indications there that could show the probability.]

Ives muted the audio from the conference room for a moment, making a quick comment. "I think we ought to speak with the Voice of the Savi rebels about this solution. They might be willing to aid in a strike against the Scion High Council." The Captain then turned on the audio feed again.

As the Chief Tactical Officer, Cross' scowl had yet to dissipate. From the moment he'd been told they were meeting with Nicander he'd been at ill ease. Then Thea had brought up the sphere and his primary thoughts had been on potential weak points, where would it be easiest to place explosives and knock this fucker out of the sky. When it came his turn to question Nicander, that was his question. He figured if Nicander knew then the Scions knew and that would be both the place of most bloodshed if they didn't execute the mission right and also the place of greatest success if they did. Cross knew he was living up to the caricature of the crew's assumption on his character when his main question to the doctor was on strategically weak points in the infrastructure and hotbeds of security activity, but someone had to ask the important questions even if they were stereotypical.

Nicander nodded on the screen while he paced his cell, seemingly appreciating the pragmatism of the question. [With the lack of detail that I have currently, not having used my Farsight ability to actively search and find specific answers, I don't have anything worthwhile beyond what's in the report. There is some kind of firing mechanism below the sphere, and if that is targeted, then it can't do what it's supposed to against the Hobus star. I hope I will be able to find more answers if I use my connection to the other Infested, internal security arrangements included.]

Vanya, the Chief Science Officer, had no great love for her people. Ironically it was their development of Trilithium that led to the attempted destruction of stars by a renegade El Aurian scientist. Nevertheless the impact on the Hobus Star was something that she would wish on her worst enemy, and could have far reaching consequences for the entire galaxy. Her mind raced with possibilities. The nearest they had come to star destroying technology was Doctor Soren’s rockets. But from what was described, this was a form of energy. 

"I’ve heard of similar technologies before," she said aloud. "But this was a trilitihum reaction caused by a rocket being shot into a sun to destroy it. Do you have any inclination of the type of energy? Perhaps if we can interfere with it, we can slow down or prevent a reaction. Kind of like setting up a dampening field to prevent beaming and communication."
Nodding at the question, the Doctor spread his hands. [The schematics I have seen have only detailed some kind of firing mechanism, so without more detail gleaned, it could be that the Savi are using a ballistic option rather than an energy-emitter. As for what kind of solution the Savi are able to utilise, I think our battle with the Versant revealed some kind of graviton beam lance cannon, as well as small tri-cobalt torpedoes? Doubtful that either would destabilise a star, so perhaps there is a trilithium solution in place.]

Jaru Rel, the newly reinstated commander of the Lone Wolves, was clinching his fist under the table. Every time Nicander spoke, his muscles contracted tighter. The Captain had mentioned lingering grievances, but for the recently dethawed pilot, the rage was very fresh. They’d served together for years, and he was still reeling at the fact that the doctor he’d trusted to save his wolves was also the enemy responsible for killing so many of them. But Ives had ordered them to stow it, so he kept his anger to nails digging into the flesh of his palm. Cross had asked the obvious tactical question, and Nicander seemed iffy on details. So he decided to backtrack slightly to a broader question. “Besides the Savi ship, are there any more ships in the area that could reinforce them?”

At this question, Nicander fell silent, brow creased. He looked at the surveillance unit briefly, the voice obviously familiar to him. He seemed to debate commenting, but with the dire situation at hand, he remained on topic. [The other me, whom came from a parallel timeline, was on a Savi ship, looking at the structure through a viewport. I did not glimpse other ships beyond that at the time, but there might be more. I was given the impression that the Scion High Council is directly involved in this endeavour.]

For once Selena kept quiet, preferring to listen to the others and their ideas first.  The PADD with Nicander’s intelligence report sat on the table in front of her but she left it alone, the text scrolling around in her VISOR as she ran searches for any information that would help with all of the different factors the officers around her brought up.  It was pointless though, the nature of their intelligence source made for a frustratingly detail-light report.  “I know you’re doing your best doctor but we need detailed intelligence, and for that we have to get closer.” Selena’s eyes focused on the view screen and she studied the man’s face while he answered, “What kind of information do you have on their assets within the Hobus system itself?”  Glancing to the Captain for a brief moment, “I’m thinking Azati Prime,” was all she said as explanation for now.

Having answered the question to the best of his ability already, it seemed Nicander could but apologise. [I am sorry, Ravenholm,] he said, recognising the voice through the static of the comm-link, [yet I don't know any further details yet. One Savi ship at minimum, beyond this structure itself. Beyond that? I could but point out the obvious that with the Praetor being an Infested, she can deploy Romulan ships to the area if so needed, and at short notice, given the coordinates.]

Next, the First Officer spoke. For Natalie Stark's part, it was still difficult at times to look at Lucan Nicander and not remember all that had happened between them, the kindness, the encounters, even just the simple sounding board the Doctor had served as, while Natalie struggled with her ever increasing responsibilities in the wake of her former bosses tragic, senseless death, all the way through the horrors of Niga and The Ishtar entity. She remembered drinks shared in a darkened lounge, with another man now dead. Memories spoken, friends mourned, a sense of comfort gained on the eve of a great battle. And all of that tainted by the knowledge that the entire time, a parasite had been piloting Nicander around, taking advantage of every exposed weakness.

Not that this was fair to the man on the screen now, a fact that she had been reminding herself of, for weeks now. She had a job to do. Setting it aside, all the worry and the stress and the confusion, she focused instead on the report, the questions asked, and the task on hand. "Forgive me, as this might be a stupid question, but this device is it already encapsulating the star, or is it to be deployed at the star. Are we going to have to deal with the intense heat and radiation coming off of Hobus already when we attempt to take this out? Because there is no doubt we have to take it out."

[It's in orbit already, Commander,] Nicander clarified for her, [range seeming to be at a safe distance from what I could see on the Savi charts.]

Hathev, the Chief Counselor, had come aboard well after the Doctor's betrayal of the crew. As such, she held no malice towards the man beyond that of a traitor and even that had been tempered by his unique circumstances. Still, she was well aware of the sensitivity within the crew towards the disgraced doctor and even more so aware that once the proverbial rumor mill began to churn over this the likelihood it would affect crew morale, would be high. Still, that was an internal matter to be discussed with Captain Ives and the rest of her counseling staff and to bring it up in this forum would be inappropriate at best. At the heart of the matter laid two central issues; the device being constructed near Hobus and whether or not Nicander himself could be trusted.

The former was a matter of intelligence gathering, tactical analysis, and diplomatic relations, in none of which did Hathev have any experience. The latter was a different matter.  While under normal circumstances, Hathev would offer to perform a mind meld in order to ascertain the Doctor's truthfulness in his assertions, Nicander's species was conveniently immune to such a test. Still, she could sit down and speak with him and attempt to judge for herself and on behalf of the crew, just how trustworthy he seemed.  

Again, it would have been inappropriate to state such an idea openly and in the presence of the person in question. So Hathev remained otherwise silent as she tapped a short message on her PADD, and transmitted it to the Captain's tablet -  ''IF YOU DOUBT HIS SINCERITY IN THIS MATTER, IT WOULD BE LOGICAL THAT I SPEAK TO HIM DIRECTLY, SIR.''

Ives oaken eyes fell to his PADD, and after tapping the screen, the message was revealed. The Captain pondered this, having met with Nicander already, before typing a quick reply. SINCERE, YES. UNKNOWINGLY COMPROMISED? POSSIBLY, YET UNLIKELY GIVEN RENDERED AID SO FAR.

Enyd Madsen, the Chief Diplomatic Officer, cleared her throat as she listened to the conversation repartee between the connection to Nicander and those around the table. She'd been briefed on Nicander but had never had reason or opportunity to speak to him before this. Remembering what she'd faced down on Qo'noS, Enyd couldn't help but feel queasy in her stomach at the thought of dealing willingly with another one. But, again, she trusted Ives. With her life. With the lives of this crew. And if he could vouch for Nicander and set up this conference without batting an eyelash, then Enyd would comply without question. As the conversation shifted to her department and the eyes of the other senior staff turned to her, Enyd shifted in her seat. Although there was probably no need for it, Enyd didn't fight against the instinct to adjust her voice and speech patterns to sound more akin to someone from Benzar. If anyone around the table thought she was mad for doing so, they kept their responses to themselves as Enyd asked her question. "Since this threat reaches out to encompass the Romulans, do you have insight from among the Romulan forces? Faces, names, ships? Anything that we can use to pinpoint a place of contact, or better yet, know to avoid, as we seek to make connections diplomatically?"

[Not presently,] the Doctor answered after a moment of thought, [at least not beyond the Praetor herself. I have seen glimpses of Romulan architecture and consoles at other times. A male Captain, judging by his position on the bridge of the ship. It was before the Battle of the Houses, but not since. There could be others, brief as the impressions have been, and I have not actively sought other Romulans since I found the Praetor. I might find more, if I make the attempt.]

Thoughtfully, Jien motioned for Thea to mute the conference room. "That may have been the Captain of the Romulan warbird that Major Situka faced, before defecting to our cause," he said quietly, before motioning for Thea to unmute the room once more. With a glance towards Lietuenant Elro Kobol and Larrant, whom had yet to speak, and getting no indication that they had any questions, Ives made the call. "Thank you, Doctor, for your insights so far, and I agree that given the threat posed, you may need to use your connection to the other Infested again so that we can learn more. If you are so willing, and because your report state that the structure is nearly finished, this may have to be done within the hour. Are you prepared to do so?"

[Aye, Captain. I will await the security preparations.]

"We will confer on how to proceed in the meantime. Ives out." When the screen went black, Jien turned his attention to the assembled officers. "Going by the experiences of facing the Versant, and because Hobus is too far away to reach with a single use of our Quantum Slipstream drive, we may have to rely on the Voice and the Erudite in order to get there in time. That being said, I also see an opportunity in this development, considering the proximity of Hobus to Romulus."

Getting on his feet, Ives continued to clarify. "The only way to end a war, is to subdue the aggressor. Since we know the Praetor is compromised, I propose we use this knowledge to our advantage. If she were to be liberated from parasitic control, then we can and end the Romulan hostilities against both the Federation and the Klingon Empire in one stroke." Thoughtfully, Jien looked between the gathered faces while he spoke. "As opposed to using anyon emissions and killing Tal'aura like we had to do with Kopek in the Klingon High Council, we have another option. See, Thea has informed me that Petty Officer Kino Jeen has been able to shrink the transphasic light cannon to something more mobile, and if Nicander is any indication of its utility... then we have the option to restore the Preator to her own body, with the inherent chance of her ordering her fleets to stand down."

What was said next, however, was the lamentable alternative. "Should the cannon not work, it may suggest that Nicander has been lying to us about everything, despite all the evidence towards the contrary." Jien said this with a glance in Cam's direction, knowing that she believed in the Doctor, but it had to be said as a considered contingency. With a concerned frown, Ives continued, starting to pace around the table. "In that case, however unlikely it may seem at this point, and because we can't separate the parasites from the hosts yet... we only have the anyon option left. An option that has proven itself to work twice against them. This means the death of Praetor Tal'aura, however, for which we must have contingency plans as well. We don't want a martyr, but some kind of guarantee that the Romulan Senate see the truth for what it is, and order the fleets to stand down."

With the proposition made, Jien came to a stop behind his chair, and put his hands on the back of it. "Speak your minds, for we need options and alternatives since I am adverse to use the anyon option lest we're forced to do so. What say you?"

Conference Lounge Reference: [Show/Hide]OOC: With the success of using the wiki for a JP Senior Staff meeting, we'll continue with that format! All writers whom have a Senior Staff member now has 10 days staring from January 13 to contribute the next segment of the meeting. Like before, no set posting order, but everyone with Senior Staff characters must post in the Joint-Post before the 23rd of January. This second Joint-Post is also hosted on the wiki, and the link is THE SAME AS BEFORE, now holding a new segment for the proposed mission to Romulus. More details about how the Joint-Post is to be created can still be found there as well.

It's still open to post new Supplemental threads for this Prologue, where you can depict one-on-one or group scenes with other writers in your own IC subplots on this morning of Day 01. The limitation of the IC time-span for these Supplemental threads still span from 0500 hrs. to 0900 hrs. This means, as stated before, that the Judicious Journeys broadcast - and its ending - has yet to be aired, and the reactions to that will be reserved for later. The naming convention for these one-on-one Supplemental threads that belonging to Prologue is: PRO: S [D01|YYYY] Insert Title (YYYY marking the time in the morning). This main thread of the Prologue is still restricted to the Senior Staff Joint-Posts for the time being.

Given experience from Episode 01: Advent of War, where some writers neglected to participate in favour of continuing to write in the Aldea Prime Anthology - or not write at all - a character introduction in Episode 02 is to be considered mandatory for active participation in the sim, so please find writing partners and jump into the telling of the main story. Some suggestions on what to write was posted above in the previous IC post, as well as the Main OOC thread. If you are unsure what to write for your characters, you can also PM me on the forum. I plan to send out a Newsletter as well, but there is no need to wait for that before posting on this board with your character introductions!

Re: Prologue: Edge of Chaos [Day 01|0900 hrs.]

Reply #5


[ Senior Staff Meeting | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: All

''With the proposition made, Jien came to a stop behind his chair, and put his hands on the back of it. "Speak your minds. What say you?"''

If her look of anxiousness during the meeting hadn’t given away her leanings, Ives’ look just may have done it, and Ensign Cameron Henshaw did nothing to hide it. She was no longer hiding for the sake of propriety. She nervously swallowed before her eyes looks up at Jien, who in that very moment despite everything that occurred between them was the point at which she’d anchored herself to reality.

“The smaller device... how do we ensure it works and continues to work once our objective is complete?” Killing the Praetor with or without a parasite would make her a martyr and someone couldn’t be on hand the rest of her life to point a fancy pistol at her. No matter what happened it was a complicated and risky plan based on trust, which for Cam was simple for the rest of the crew to trust Lucan was another thing entirely.

"Nicander is about to use his Farsight again to gather intel on the situation beyond the Romulan border, so that would be a perfect time to try it," Jien said, pushing away from the back of his chair and starting to pace the conference room again. "If the transphasic light doesn't work, we only have the anyon emitter option, but then the Romulans won't have a Praetor anymore. As far as I am aware, aside from conventional phaser fire, we don't have a third option on how to subdue the Infested. Regardless, we need to reach the Praetor in order to make the attempt."

Worrying her lower lip between her teeth, Enyd leaned back, hands clasped in her lap as she looked to the ceiling and visualized the moving pieces. With the collective understanding that Empress Donatra needed to, and would, meet with Chancellor Martok at the Klingon border in mind, Enyd mulled over what had been said or unsaid through the course of the meeting. The old adage of strength in numbers was as true now as it was at nearly any other time in diplomatic history. If there could be made an alliance — temporary though it may be — between Donatra and Martok, the two of them working together with Theurgy — and through them the Federation — then those uninfested Romulan commanders could be made to acknowledge the puppet masters pulling the strings on their Empire. They may stand a chance of not only NOT being destroyed but also in gaining another ally against their nefarious enemy.

Eyes still on the ceiling as the pieces moved in her mind, Enyd spoke up, “If we cannot negotiate a workable relationship between Donatra and Martok at the rendevous point, both fleets will be destroyed by the thalaron-armed forces of their pursuers. Ourselves as well, for that matter.” Tipping forward in one swift motion, Enyd placed her elbows on the conference table and leaned against them, gaze moving over her peers. “Not only is it without question that our presence is required alongside Martok’s at the RNZ, but it would also be prudent of us to find a way to buy time for us and our allies if things shift sideways, which we know they tend to do. If the Romulans have thalaron-armed weapons, what do we have that can counteract them? Is there anything we can manufacture, ingest, wear, or find that can negate the effects of the thalaron radiation? If we can enter the playing field with that 'trick' tucked in our pockets, our confidence and morale will increase as our survivability stats increase. And a diplomat entering a negotiation with a backup plan already in place is far more likely to successfully broker a pact.”

"We have a theoretical solution on how to disperse thalaron radiation," Jien said, gesturing towards the panoramic viewport, as if indicating a ship far gone. "The Oneida left almost a week ago to scan the planetary rings of Ba'Ku, the working theory being that with those scans, there might be a way to mitigate the effects. You are right in that we need time in order to implement that kind of solution. Not just as a solution for Thea, but for both the Klingon forces as well as the remaining ships in Donatra's fleet. You are right, Lieutenant, in that we need to stall the Romulan pursuers, and without a means to deal with their banned weaponry, diplomacy might be our only weapon to save the lives of our allies."

It went without saying that Kingons weren't known for their diplomatic prowess, and there was a lot of bad blood between Donatra and the Romulan commanders that were loyal to the Praetor. Jien had no idea how many lives had been lost on both sides during the chase through Romulan space, but fact remained. The Theurgy might be the only neutral party that could stall further bloodshed at the Romulan border.

Cutting in at that point, the ships XO raised two of the fingers on her right hand to catch the captains attention. "A note on the Oneida's progress, Captain," while she addressed Ives primarily the report was of importance to all gathered. "Based on our last communication from the ship and our current projections of their path, the Oneida should be reaching Ba'ku within the next 24 hours. We expect and update from them as soon as possible there after. I'm not sure if the time table will provide enough time for our Science department to act upon the scans, but we should be prepared to begin work within 48 hours." What went unsaid, but was understood between the XO and her Captain was that this all depended on everything going according to plan. The odds of which were not great.

Selena leaned back in her chair, arms folding across her stomach as she thought about this other part of the mission.  She wasn’t sure Captain Ives quite caught the meaning behind her historical reference but she set that to the side for the moment, especially since it sounded like Theurgy wouldn’t be going to Hobus herself.  Getting the Praetor out of the equation, even temporarily, would certainly make things a mite easier at Hobus.  Fair guess said that with the Praetor an Infested then any ships assigned to Hobus were under her personal command, so with her incapacitated then reinforcements would be slower to respond.  Of course, this was all pure conjecture at this point.  “At the very least, if we can throw a wrench into the Romulan C&C systems we should.  That could save us, Starfleet, and the Klingons a load of trouble if we fail elsewhere.

"Agreed," Jien said passing behind the cybernetically augmented woman by the table whilst he paced the room. "If we fail to separate Tal'Aura's mind from the parasite's control, then a backup plan ought to include some kind of debilitating measure against the Romulan war machine. Something that throws their forces into disarray, and buys us the time we need to address the threat of the thalaron weaponry. Unless Tal'Aura can be convinced to stand down and call back her fleets, we'll have do what we can to save our Allies and protect the Federation."

Listening to the discourse between the Captain and her replacement at Ops, Natalie frowned slightly, a memory tugging at the frontier of her conscious mind. Pursing her lips, she turned to Selena briefly. "Lieutenant. One of my predecessors, the late Lt. Trent used a rather insidious virus to disable Task for Acheron and affect his escape and defection to the Theurgy." Carrigan Trent was a sore point for many members of the crew, and to this day Natalie still had mixed feelings about the former XO and Intelligence Chief, but his tactic had been effective. "It is possible we might be able to adapt that to our advantage and implement it against the Praetor's forces. Of course there is every chance that they are aware of the specifics of that bit of electronic warfare and have suitable countermeasures in place. Fractured though they may be, the Romulans are nothing if not cautious and well prepared."

Nodding in answer to Natalie's suggestion, Ives gave the suggestion a moment of thought. "There is no telling whether the Romulans might have countermeasures for that kind of a virus, but either way, the Soup Sandwich virus is a good base template to work with since an altered version of it even managed to work against the Borg for a short while during the battle in the Azure Nebula."

The Chief Tactical Officer raised his voice next. “What if we also use the Savi rebels as a weapon?” Briefly glancing at the rest of the officers gathered at the table, Cross continued. “Captain, you mentioned consulting the Voice for help earlier? So, if the rebels truly want to knock out their opponent's knees, this could be their chance. Much like with the Azurite Station, the Erudite could ferry one of our crafts with Reman cloaks. Using backyard technology would allow us to get closer to the Praetor without calling too much attention to ourselves too quickly.”

Giving this some thought, Jien inclined his head. "Aye, it is worth asking, since that would allow the Theurgy to stand with Martok and Donatra at the RNZ, and continue to work on the means to mitigate the threat of thalaron weaponry. We have both the Allegiant and the Apache available for a mission inside Romulan space, deployed from the Erudite, and both are fitted with a Reman cloak. Better yet, the Savi can reach the Hobus star quicker than we could."

Jaru wasn’t fussed on whether Tal’aura survived or not. He was only worried about the war that she – or the parasite inside her – was starting. If there was a good alternative that could stop it, then anyon away. They were basing this whole plan on the idea that it was all the parasite’s influence, but who said that the Praetor didn’t want to invade the Federation too? The two countries were hardly friends. He wasn’t an intelligence officer, a diplomat, or a scientist. Toppling the head of the Romulan Empire was their specialty. But Jaru had been on the front lines of enough wars to know what was coming to the border, so his focus was there. “If we can mount a good defense against the thalaron weapons, they might pull back. Romulans are backstabbers, not warriors. They’ll think twice about mounting a full-on invasion if they lose their ace.”

"Agreed," Jien said, inclining his head and hoping that the Oneida's scans would prove useful, and that they would be sent to the science department in time.

Vanya hadn’t been in Romulus space to her own devices for some time. She imagined that whatever intelligence files Theurgy had before they went rogue would be lightyears ahead of the compartmentalised information in her brain. She looked to the assembled team. “I must confess I am not that versed in current events on the home world, but if I can be of use to any plan, I’m here.” Still, one thing Vanya did know was science, and in the time she had taken over the team, she had little doubt that her team could give it the best shot. “As soon as we get scans from the Oneida, I’ll have my people pour through the data. If there’s a way to deal with the thalaron radiation in the sensory data, we will find it.”  

"Good, Lieutenant." Jien came to stand by his chair again. "Let's hope the Oneida reached Ba'Ku sooner rather than later."

"Captain," Doctor Kobol began. "Might I suggest we put the Praetor into stasis, it may help isolate the Parasite in some way that could make the transphasic light cannon more precise in separating it from the host's mind." He said, "it could be a kind of surgery. We will need some form of transphasic containment holding for the parasite, I'm sure that sciences and engineerin] could maybe make a copy of the cannon into the containment holding?"

Ives shook his head. "Unfortunately, we only have one cannon due to the lack of access to kemocite, so even if we had the time to make new tech that utilise the transphasic wavelength, we don't have access to the critical component that powers the cannon." Another thing, however, came to Ives when addressing the Chief Medical Officer. "If the cannon has to be brought to Romulus in order to potentially end Romulan aggressions, and we also need Nicander's ability to successfully thwart the plans the Infested have for the Hobus star, then the Doctor cannot remain behind if we have to split up the ship and crew. Be it on the Allegiant or another shuttle travelling aboard the Erudite, he will have to remain locked up, but we need a medical officer that is familiar with him as a patient."

"We need Tal'aura awake Doc," Jaru cut in. "We need her to order the Romulans to stand down and retreat back to their borders before they start a war. She can't do that if she's taking a stasis nap."

Ives concurred. "Moreover, like I said, the specific transphasic light needed can't be replicated without the kemocite anyway, so a stasis pod is no option. Even if it were, since we've seen Infested fight on while their bodies ought to have given out from damages, there is even less of a guarantee that cryogenc stasis will contain one."

After listening to both the briefing from Nicander and everyone’s questions so far, Commander Kai Akoni had gotten a headache. Never had he thought that any crew he would be on would be considering killing the Romulan Praetor a viable option. Nevertheless, even though it wasn’t their first choice, it was a good alternative. Kai then took the time in a short and to the point way, to brief the rest of the senior staff on what his staff had been up to.

“My staff, more specifically, Kino Jeen has indeed been working on a mobile version of the light canon, and she's too far along to change it into a stasis pod. It would basically be most of the tech fitting in a backpack with the emitter being a standard sized rifle. They were working on it for unrelated reasons, but it just happens to fit our situation.“

Akoni looked around the room to see if everyone had digested his information before he continued, “I have every confidence it’ll work, because if we do have to resort to killing the Praetor, we have to make damn sure there is a backup plan in place. Having a power vacuum in the Romulan leadership won’t be good for anyone. Infested or not.”

"Yes," Ives said with a frown of shared concern, "and so far, the only thing we have on the table is Ravenholm's suggestion to destabilise their fleet operations with some kind of virus, but that will likely just be a temporary means to stall fleet advancement - buying us time to deal with the threat of their thalaron weaponry."

Alana thought momentarily as she listened to the others. An idea came to mind as she remembered the Captain's abilities and the possibilities that may present for their current mission to allow for both Nicander and the "Praetor" to be in position simultaneously. However, she realized with the note about the lack of materials for another light cannon, made her concept moot.

Thinking once more at the difficulties and the inability to make her previous suggestion come into play, Alana remembered another piece of the puzzle she'd been messing with earlier in the week. "Captain, as unfortunate as it was to have Chambers disappear, what about the information he passed along before we lost contact? His intel regarding the proper dispersal of the thalaron radiation. He mentioned in his impromptu data dump that the Oneida's scans of the rings of Ba'Ku won't be enough. The dispersal configuration of the key component of the weaponry itself as well was needed. Namely, the thalaron triggers."

"Yes," Jien said, remembering the unfortunate development with the missing Ops officer, "as I recall, we have yet to confirm these findings, much less gained access to that kind of technology. Do you have new data?"

Pausing to gather her thoughts further she added another remark on her intel. "Since I had taken over the intelligence department over the past few weeks, my team was able to gather through their respective contacts beyond the RNZ, the coordinates of the factory in which Shinzon stole his thalaron generator. It could be a good option for us to explore and send in a covert team to... wreak havoc on the facility." She smiled at the thought of going off-world for that.

Nodding, Jien wondered if Chamber might have been right after all. "Confirm Chambers' theory with our scientists, and if so, then we have no time to waste. A mission to that factory and to scan those triggers needs to be underway sooner rather than later. I will discuss means of deployment beyond the RNZ with the Voice if you just send me the coordinates."

Larrant's avatar had remained frozen as he registered everything that was revealed in the meeting so far. As a member of a species that literally felt the gravitational presence of stars the ramifications of a massive supernova that could rip through the very fabric of subspace and into another dimension was... horrifying. The emotion was still relatively new to him. He had only felt it a few times and only as part of a shared consciousness with his diad hosts. He was still running the physic calculations when the Captain spoke.

"Sir, I do not have to remind anyone what the ramifications of a Hobus supernova would cause, let alone any supernova. This one would be significant considering its location in a heavily populated region of space. As you may know my people excel at navigation due to our unique sense of stellar gravity. In order for the Infested to punch a hole in the very fabric of dimensional space via a supernova suggests a level of destruction far greater than anything we have every seen. No Medusan in my lineage has ever known such an event to have ever happened. Forgive me as I have been modeling projections and running advanced calculations on the astrophysics that would make such an event even possible." Larrant wasn't even sure if those sitting at the table would even semicomprehend what he had calculated.

The implications were indeed dire, plainly so for Ives and the rest of the Senior Staff, calculations shown or not.

Chief Arnold didn't really like any of the answers he was getting. There was too little certainty in what was being proposed. Sending in desperate commando raids, having to get within shooting range of a possibly infested Romulan Praetor? These were truly desperate times.  Frank quirked an eyebrow at Alana's suggestion since it gave him an idea. "Sir, I can rig transporter homing devices on dart guns. Even if we can't get the light cannon to work, we can still beam Tal'Aura out and into holding. On another note, for the EM pulse on the sun, a runabout could do it. I'd recommend dropping one off before the actual operation begins and sending it towards the sun."

Nodding, Jien thought about the suggestion of removing the Praetor from her seat of power in case she wouldn't become cooperative. "Good idea, Arnold. We still have TR-120 rifles in the Armory. If you can create personal transportation darts for those, and there are no shields or transporter inhibitors preventing such action, then it's a viable option. Make it happen, please. As for the idea to use the Hobus star itself to deal damage on the orbiting Savi weapon, then either of the ships deployed from the Erudite can do so, as long as the pulse calibrations work."

Hathev held her silence for a bit longer than might have been warranted as a series of thoughts occurred to her. One was certainly within her purview and if she knew Captain Ives as well as she thought she did, it stood to reason her suggestion was already in play. But the other... that second thought was well out of her duties and a suggestion of this might be out of place. Plus it might embarrass Cross. Even so, it was her responsibility to voice these ideas, especially given that Ives had requested input.

"I have two things, Captain.  First, given the nature of our mission and the inherent danger attached to it, would it not be prudent to address the crew?"  She paused.  "Second.  While I am no tactitian, I am curious to know if the option of borrowing a cloaking device from the Klingons and installing it on board Theurgy has been considered.  It might make our approach a bit less...intense?"

"Of course, and yes, Commander," Jien said with a faint smile, glancing towards Hathev. "Federation tactical logs through the past twenty years are consistent in that Romulan cloaking devices are the top of the line, while we have constantly seen the Klingon devices prone to some sort of exploit. Aside from that, the evaluation showed that the utilisation of a cloaking device for a ship of Thea's size comes with trade-offs that are non-negotiable, compromising key functions of the ship since - relative to her size - it consumes large amounts of power. You may even recall that we tried to use a Reman cloak in the Azure Nebula, and almost lost the ship in the process. Moreover, the space distortion necessary to bend light rays is equivalent to an enormous mass concentration, so additional measures must be taken to compensate the effect inside the distortion, and those measures are - with current mission limitations - unavailable."

When the Senior Staff had fallen silent, Jien decided that it was time give out his orders. He changed... to her female form, and when she spoke, she turned to look at each person she addressed.

"Stark, work with Ravenholm and her officers. Use the base template of Soup Sandwich virus for a new version, specifically targeting Romulan subspace networks. Time is short, and we need it in case either the cannon has no effect, or the Praetor isn't willing to cooperate once she'd herself again. Commander Cross, you've deployed from the Erudite before, but I need you on the Theurgy if we are forced to engage the Romulan fleets at the RNZ. What I need your help with, however, is compiling an away team roster for the two-fold mission to Hobus and Romulus. Henshaw, get me an audience with the Voice, for if we are to commit to this undertaking, the help of the Savi will be crucial."

Continuing, Jien addressed those remaining. "Larrant, break orbit and plot a course for the rendezvous point we agreed upon with Chancellor Martok. We'll use the quantum slipstream drive, so - Arnold - give the word to your teams that we'll make a jump at 0900 hrs. In the meantime, you'll also need to compile a team to assemble transporter munitions for our TR-120 rifles, and run simulations on the solar EMP solution you proposed. Lieutenant Madsen, have the Diplomatic Corps ready to receive the Klingons on the Flag Bridge in wait for Donatra's arrival. Pierce, like I said, we need to know the thalaron trigger scans will fit the needs for the thalaron dispersal project, and once that is confirmed by Science, prepare an infiltration mission. The away team will be going on the Apache to the factory, while the mission to Hobus and Romulus will have the Allegiant and as many shuttles deemed necessary."

Finishing off her orders, Jien looked to the last officers at the table. "Commander Akoni, make the security preparations in the brig for Nicander's attempt to gather more intel, with the new cannon finished and ready for testing. Since Nicander will later be incarcerated in a room aboard the Allegiant, I need the necessary security modifications in place before mission launch, so work with Engineering to make sure his new cell is secure. Jaru, I need the Lone Wolves on standby and the warp fighters armed for fleet engagement at the RNZ. Schedule readiness among the pilots in wait for immediate deployment - all depending on the situation at the border by the time we arrive. Doctor Kobol, ready triage teams to be on standby, and Commander Hathev, have your officers support the other Departments as best they are able individually. I want you personally in the brig as an observer, however, by the time Nicander uses his abilities again."

All orders dealt, Jien paused, thinking that the different undertakings ahead of them were all equally vital in their own respect. "The stakes are high," she said quietly, "but if we succeed on all fronts, we will have neutralised the Romulan threat in this war before it even began... and if Doctor Nicander is correct, also stopped the Infested's plans for the Hobus star. You have your orders. Dismissed."

Conference Lounge Reference: [Show/Hide]OOC: Needless to say, the mission input from the USS Relativity for CHAPTER 02: EXTRACTING REVAD BEYOND THE RNZ (check the Story Workshop synopsis) has yet to appear in the story. That will happen later in this prologue, forcing the Theurgy to leave the Helmet section behind with Martok and Donatra in order to cross the RNZ.

It's still open to post new Supplemental threads for this Prologue, where you can depict one-on-one or group scenes with other writers in your own IC subplots on this morning of Day 01. With the orders dealt in this post, all Departments should have something to work with duty-wise up until 0900 hrs, so have at it!

The limitation of the IC time-span for these Supplemental threads still span from 0500 hrs. to 0900 hrs. This means, as stated before, that the Judicious Journeys broadcast - and its ending - has yet to be aired, and the reactions to that will be reserved for later. The naming convention for these one-on-one Supplemental threads that belonging to Prologue is: PRO: S [D01|YYYY] Insert Title (YYYY marking the time in the morning). This main thread of the Prologue is still restricted to the Senior Staff Joint-Posts for the time being.

This thread will soon be updated with the continuation of the scenes started in the beginning of the prologue, and after Part 2 of those are up, another post will have the Theurgy use the Quantum Slipstream drive and head for the rendezvous point at the RNZ, and also have Ives address the whole crew via the intercom. The wiki JP project for that post will be announced in the Main OOC as soon as it is made available. :)

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