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


PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS


"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.


TO BE CONTINUED...


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

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

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

[ Ambassador Elim Garak | Classified Coordinates | Aboard Paris One ]
[Show/Hide]
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.


TO BE CONTINUED...


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.]

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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 ]
[Show/Hide]
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.

RELAY NETWORK CONNECTION STABLE
KLINGONS UNAWARE OF OUR ACCESS
WE ARE LIVE WHEN THE LIGHT GOES GREEN

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.

COUNTING 147 422 SUBSCRIPTION STREAMS, INCREASING
329 FEDERATION RELAY CHANNELS ACCESSED
1 BLOCKED SO FAR, JUST A FEW SECONDS AGO

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?

322 LIVE SUBSPACE STREAMS, DROPPING RAPIDLY
JUST 10 FEDERATION RELAY CHANNELS REMAIN UNBLOCKED

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."

42 STREAMS. STARFLEET HAS CUT US OUT OF OFFICAL CHANNELS
THEY ARE SILENCING THE PRIVATELY OWNED ONES AS WELL

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!"

7 STREAMS.
I AM SORRY DOCTOR...

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.

THE USS VERA RUBIN IS STREAMING, A STARSHIP
THE FEED GOES BEYOND THE STARFLEET FIREWALL
WE ARE REACHING FEDERATION SPACE!

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

10 840 LIVE SUBSPACE STREAMS
RISING FAST

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!
SAY SOMETHING!

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
STILL RISING!

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.


TO BE CONTINUED...


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

ONE HOUR EARLIER | QO'NOS ORBIIT



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[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Brig | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: All  
[Show/Hide]
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
[Show/Hide]
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:
[Show/Hide]
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

JOINT-POST 01: HOBUS THREAT SEGMENT OF SENIOR STAFF MEETING


[ 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

JOINT-POST 02: MISSION SEGMENT OF SENIOR STAFF MEETING


[ 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. :)

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

Reply #6

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS: Part Two

"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


[ Alternate Lucan cin Nicander | Romulan Space | Savi Ship Ortus orbiting Hobus ] ATTN: ALL

Nicander’s cock twitched at the pleasurable memory of her bones jutting through soft skin with rivulets of crimson seeping around the puncture wounds. His ears still hummed with the crunching sound of her body breaking before being pulverized to a red and white mush. He’d stayed on the gangway above the vat, enraptured with the sight, as the belt fed her mass in the ever-churning vat of other recyclables. In a way, it was a beautiful reunion. Almost…emotionally moving to the Câroon, for it was a communion with her crew that Anya Ziegler otherwise would never have happened.

Sniffing at the momentary sense of disappointment – as she would have been an excellent addition had she not been so frightfully unimaginative and narrow-minded – Nicander looked up from his idle staring, watching the continued construction of the Hobus station through the porthole, in the reflection he saw the Five approach. Though there were more like-minded, true-minded, among their forces here, these were the Five leaders overseeing this project. Each had their own portion of the puzzle to oversee, whether with the Station or the star or ensuring any unwelcome visitors were met with swift consequences. It was on the latter note that Nicander had called this meeting.

“I have felt my alternate moving in my mind.” Nicander turned from the glass, his bright eyes traveling over each Scion commander standing before him. “No doubt he has already informed his captain of my presence and what glimpses he saw of our project,” Nicander gestured a hand toward the Station behind him. Waiting until each of the Five nodded their understanding, Nicander looked to the tallest. “Obarthal, we should ensure that those from the Theurgy who may dare venture here are met with swift force.” The Scion’s lips pulled back in a sneer as he nodded. “Sebithal, deploy your scout ships to leave a grid of sensors one AU out from the Station. That will give Obarthal plenty of time to ready our welcome. Aercidthal, continue to…interview the few remaining members of Ziegler’s crew. There may yet be one among them who sees the light.” The Scions nodded. “Dedisthal, speak to your project leaders.” The shortest tipped his head to the side in attention. “We must complete the project without delay. And Tachperthal, do what you must, but curtail the spreading lies within our ranks. Recycling more would be such a nuisance when we require every hand.”

Four of the Five dismissed themselves, leaving Tachperthal standing across from Nicander. “It will be good to have the lost come home.”

The pair were quiet a moment before they both broke into sinister smiles, already eager for the blood bath they were preparing for those so-called lost.

To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 2 of 2, depicting events "behind enemy lines," so to speak, and stay tuned for more.

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

Reply #7

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS - Part Two




We live in a rainbow of chaos. ~ Paul Cezanne


[ Ambassador Elim Garak | Classified Coordinates | Brig Aboard Paris One ]

Standing with his hands clasped loosely behind his back, head cocked at an angle, and eyes closed, Garak listened to the hum of the forcefield for his cell. There would be no difference to an amateur, just the steady hum of a forcefield. To Garak, so far from an amateur despite what it may seem with his current predicament, there was a slight variance in the forcefield’s pitch. Not a strong enough variance to exploit without more tools, but enough of a variance that, given the tools and time, Garak believed himself quite capable of getting out.

Garak unclasped his hands and walked back to his cell bench, sinking down with a slight grimace – when had age caught up with him like this? Nose crinkling, Garak clicked his tongue against his teeth in disdain. The grey on black on grey left little to pass the time studying, which was, perhaps, the point. One didn’t go into the brig expecting entertainment and comfort. However, there were ways of being both effective and aesthetically pleasing. Some color here would be the most…humane thing to do with the space.

His mind was still determining which accent colors would match better – mauve or taupe – when the door slid open and Admiral Abrik stepped inside. It took just a head tilt and the pair of security guards posted on either side of the door to step out into the corridor, effectively leaving Abrik and Garak alone. The Trill remained silent as he fiddled with some buttons on the console by the door, leaving Garak time to recall the events that had led him here. The subatomic particle beam had hit Bacco square on, and if it’d been adjusted accurately as Garak presumed it had been, it proved Bacco’s lack of parasite. However, the woman had not liked getting shot and managed to hit the panic button as she toppled out of her chair. Security personnel had flooded in before Garak could share his reasons privately. Though his tongue had pressed against his lips to tell her, despite their uninvited audience, the timely arrival of Admiral Abrik had effectively silenced Garak. Considering the man was now making sure they were alone and, if Garak had to guess, ensuring there were no recordings of their encounter, it was good that he’d kept silent.

“Ambassador Garak,” Abrik turned from the console, leveling Garak with one of his hard-line stares, “I could waste my time and ask you what you were thinking. But we both know your tongue is almost as skillful as your tailoring.” Garak schooled his features, not certain which talent Abrik was insulting with his comment. “And shooting the Federation President in her office with her security detail just outside her door, well, that is an action of a man without thought.”

“I’m curious why you needed to have such privacy to say these things, Admiral Abrik.” Garak made a show of looking over his shoulder toward the door. “I asked to see the President, to have a chance to explain my actions to her directly and privately. When will she be joining us?”

The Admiral snorted, “She won’t be joining us, Ambassador Garak. I advised her to tend to other, more pressing matters than the paranoid actions of a man clearly not in his right mind.” After nodding toward the console where he’d been inputting data, Abrik made a show of studying his cuticles, “The mental health reports show a need for isolation and rehabilitation at Starbase Sierra. As I’ve been told, they’ve made some breakthroughs on some of their toughest cases with cutting-edge techniques.” His eyes darted up, catching Garak’s stare, “I’m sure you’ll prove an entertaining and enlightening case for them.”

“Not to appear vacuous, but I have not been visited by Starfleet medical in the fugacious time since my arrival in these…quarters.” Garak blinked at the Admiral. “When did they assess me, drawing such a weighty conclusion?” Admiral Abrik shrugged, once more studying his cuticles with a bored expression crossing his features. “When may I be allowed to contact the Castellan? My government must be contacted and conferred before I am to be transported to -”

“Everything has been taken care of, Ambassador. You have nothing to fear. We have looked into everything and ensured that everything may continue forward without delay.”

Garak stepped closer to the force field, gaze narrowing as he studied the Trill, wishing they hadn’t confiscated his anyon emitter. Bacco had proved herself parasite-free, but considering how Abrik was handling this situation – so effortlessly using his position to remove Garak from the playing board – perhaps Garak should’ve followed his initial thought regarding the Security Advisor. Though he was careful to speak in vague yet ominous terms, there was still enough convenience about these circumstances that it worked to confirm Garak’s suspicions.

“Do you have a hive mind like the Borg, or are you allowed individual thought?” If Garak’s question surprised Abrik, the Trill was adept at hiding the emotion beneath layers of bored disdain. “Do you really think you’ll be able to ship me off to Starbase Sierra without someone asking questions and checking paperwork? You ridiculed my tailoring earlier, Admiral Abrik, but I must say, this thread you’re seeking to weave into the tapestry is quite thin.”

Whatever pithy remark Abrik may have had on the tip of his tongue was quickly swallowed when the door slid open. Brows furrowing, Abrik began to chastise the security guards in the corridor but stopped when President Bacco swung into the room, flanked by her personal security and undersecretary. Her eyes skirted over Abrik as she moved closer, standing between the Trill and Garak. Garak glanced over the president’s shoulder, seeking to gauge the Trill’s response to her presence. Once more, the man hid whatever emotions he might’ve felt beneath his steely exterior.

“Ambassador Garak,” Bacco held out her hand, waiting expectantly until her undersecretary placed a PADD in it, “Did your actions have anything to do with this?”

She pressed a button on the PADD and then held it up for Garak to watch through the force field, though the room was filled with the voice of the feisty fallen Daystrom prodigy turned celebrity anthropologist. Once or twice over the years, Garak had fed intel to Marlowe’s and had enjoyed watching the results. The human had tenacity and a unique skill in ferreting out truth, no matter how old or new, controversial or benign. Garak’s eyes flicked away from the PADD just long enough to catch Abrik’s gaze, watching him for a moment while Marlowe used his live feed also to broadcast the simulcast that Theurgy had meant to send from Starbase 84. Garak returned his attention to the PADD when Marlowe spoke over the simulcast, pleading with his viewers to record and share the feed as they were getting blocked out. The next scenes were in the Great Hall on Qo’Nos where Garak witnessed Martok and Ives, along with his crew members, kill Gorka and reveal one of the parasites.

At this point, the president paused the program, her probing stare never wavering from Garak’s face, “That beam you shot me with,” Garak waited for her to finish, “if this is real, were you trying to determine if I had one of these…things inside me?”

Garak licked his lips, looking past her to Abrik, but froze when he no longer saw the tall Trill hovering in the back. Craning his neck, Garak continued studying the room’s occupants, counting at least two security members missing with Abrik. They must’ve made good on the distraction of the PADD. Garak cleared his throat, leaning closer to the force field to create a sense of privacy with the president before he spoke again.

“Madam President, I would advise you to take a good look around you, determine who is still among us and who is not, and perhaps we should continue this…interview in a more secure location?”

Bacco reeled back on her heels, wide eyes likewise scanning the room. Garak watched her lisp turn downward in a frown before she flipped the PADD and cleared the screen, now using it to type out a series of commands. Tucking the PADD under one arm, she moved to the console next to his cell and turned off the force field. Garak knew better than to move, wisely waiting for members of her security detail to come on either side of him for a more direct escort.

“It seems we’re to have that heart-to-heart, after all, Ambassador Garak.” President Bacco spoke over her shoulder while her undersecretary led the way back to the door.

The undersecretary and one of the security stepped into the corridor first, only for a beam to cut through the undersecretary’s head and hit the security member in the shoulder. The remaining four security members pushed Bacco to the floor and drew out weapons, two pointing toward Garak while the other two were trained toward the door. The wounded security member dragged himself back into the room and cued the door to close and lock. They could hear more firing; beneath them, the deck shuddered as if the ship were being attacked. Bacco’s wide-eyed gaze darted between the door and Garak.

“How many are there?”

Garak knew what she spoke of and shook his head, “We don’t know.” The sound of the firefight traveled closer. Looking between the security members and the president, Garak shook his head. “Unless you plan on getting yourself martyred for their chosen narrative, might I suggest an expeditious retreat?”

“What would you suggest, Ambassador?”

Standing, keeping his hands in the open for the more trigger-happy among the security, Garak moved to the opposite wall and opened the Jeffries tube, pointing at it as if it were the solution to their every problem. The president nodded, quickly moving to join Garak, two security members going in first, then the president, another security guard, Garak, and the final two, with the wounded one taking the rear position, knowing he was the weakest link.

“Do you think they control the whole ship, and we are a minority?” The president’s whispered words traveled over her shoulder to Garak.

Garak exhaled, “Well, that’s assuming that WE are in fact a complete WE, madam President.”

“Not comforting, Ambassador.”

“There’s no way to tell, as far as I know, outside of the device I had earlier and its larger parent one on the Theurgy.”

The president groaned, hesitating in her crawling. The security immediately looked between her and Garak, only for their concern to be waved off by the president herself.

“They were never traitors, were they?” She looked to Garak for confirmation and groaned again at his responding expression. “If we get through this alive, I have a lot of commendation letters to write.”

“That’s the least you can do.” Her pointed glare didn’t phase the Cardassian. “Just pointing out a fact, madam president.”

“Sshh!” The lead security detail signaled for them to silence.

It took just a moment longer before Garak heard it too. From their front and rear, the sound of an approach reverberated off the tube walls. The president reached out and grasped Garak’s hand in a vice-like grip. Garak understood the need for comfort in such a time and gave her smaller hand a squeeze. It was the least he could do in their lost moments.

To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 2 of 2, depicting events aboard Paris One, set at approx 0945 hrs and onward

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

Reply #8

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS: Part Two



The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte


[ Dr. James Hudson Marlowe | The Judicious Journeys Studio | Aboard the SS Liberum | Ganalda Space Station ]

“Doctor Marlowe. Doctor? Doctor Marlowe!”

James dragged his gaze from Amy’s lifeless face, blinking at Captain Cullen Jaal. James noted that the heavily armored and armed mercenary had blood splatters on his bronze skin, making him wonder how many of his mercenaries had been taken out by the droids and how many were left to keep the ship secure.

“I apologize, Captain Jaal, I was…” James looked back to Amy’s corpse, then across the booth to Sil’s similarly mangled and lifeless body, “elsewhere in my thoughts. What is your report?”

Jaal hooked his thumbs beneath the straps holding various weapons to his chest and pulled, giving his lungs a moment to suck in a deeper breath before he spoke again, “We have secured the ship. The last of those droids have been destroyed. We managed to salvage one mainframe before it self-destructed, and we’ll have one of our tech guys analyze it and see if we can determine who manufactured them and possibly who sent them.”

James nodded, nibbling on his lower lip. While he knew who sent them, it was more a question of which puppet the masters used to try and silence him completely.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it, doc. We lost a lot,” James looked back to the captain in time to observe the captain’s gaze likewise rake over the corpses of the two crew lying at their feet in the ruined booth, “and we’re hanging on by a thread here. Since our position is known and compromised, I highly recommend we find another location to hold up where we can regroup.”

James nodded again, but then his eyes caught sight of something, and he signaled for the captain to help him pull Any’s body off the console. The count was still there. And there were still numbers: 23,454,189, in fact, with the Vera Rubin still being one of them.

“Help me, Jaal.” Marlowe slid in Amy’s blood, or it could’ve been Sil’s, as he slipped across the booth to wrench a cabinet open. Pulling out an almost antiquated recording tech piece, he instructed Jaal to hook it up to the console, still humming with power—the console Amy had protected with her body. The feed was scratchy, and there was a delay in the audio, but within moments of hooking it up and dialing in the necessary details to run the old programming, they were once more on the live stream.

“If you experienced a blackout, it is because we were attacked. My assistants are dead, as are many of my crew.” James took a moment to pan the recording device over Amy’s body Rylan’s too, being sure also to show the droid's remains. “They sent these things to silence us for good. But,” James turned the camera on himself, knowing that it would be a horrible close-up, but there was nothing else for him to do about it; Jaal had to operate the console. “You can’t silence the truth forever. We won’t be silenced. And you should wake up from your lethargic slumber and realize that you are being fed lies so carefully concocted they make your life more convenient. They make it easy to brush off the truth in favor of the more comfortable dream. Wake up before it is too late. We can determine who is a puppet master among us with science. We can determine who is among the infested using subatomic anyonic phase beams. They don’t want you to know this, and they don’t want you to develop a way to test. So ask the hard questions, do the hard things, and fight back against these lies!” James looked to Jaal, who was frowning, gesturing to the console and shrugging. Likely, the old programming was creating havoc with the new programs. He’d be lucky if the people could even understand his words. “We will continue to report as we are able. This is Doctor James Marlowe, and you’ve been tuned into Judicious Journeys.”

Jaal and James shared the same sigh once he turned off the device. Glancing at the console, James read a slight increase in views and sighed again. Even if they’d only gotten every third word, at least they could piece enough of it together to start asking the necessary questions.

“Orders, doc?” Jaal’s question pulled James from his hopeful musings.

“Retreat and regroup.”

Jaal nodded, leaving to command that very thing. James looked down at himself, frowning at the mixture of burn marks and blood stains on his clothing. He needed to do something with the bodies…

To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 2 of 2, depicting events following the attack on Marlowe's private ship, approx 0930 onwards

Re: Prologue: Edge of Chaos

Reply #9

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS - Mors Manet




When tempest tossed, embrace chaos. ~ Dean Koontz



[ Riov Vrikol i-Dorvik tr’Khev’ | Riov’s Office | Aboard the Tal’Shiar Ihnerha Faehht Emaifha Laeosa Mniohr (Tal’Shiar Second Secret Disease and Weapons Research Space Station) |  Romulan Space, approximately 24ly from Romulus ] ATTN: ALL

Having finished reading over the report from the Snakehead scout ships that encountered some supposed lost Pakled merchant vessel while patrolling along the cordoned-off area belonging solely to their IFELM, Riov Vrikol Khev turned his attention to the next report, sighing when saw just how many drone ships they’d lost in the recent experiment gone awry. They weren’t due to have replacements for another few weeks, and if things continued as they were, they would have to start rigging up their older Snipe class ships to be used as drones. Even though they lost inventory and self-repair technology, Khev found solace in their recent developments being powerful enough to override the self-repair technology on their ships and stations. At least his superiors would lessen their chiding when he added that to the report before handing it off to Riov Hei for her to take back to headquarters on Romulus.

Khev paused, brows furrowing as he thought of the Tal’Shiar commander. Khev thought it was unnecessary for the commander from Internal Security to be sent, but he didn't ask his superiors about it. If the Internal Security Department felt the need to audit the Research and Development Department while they were in the middle of testing a variety of state-of-the-art weapons, including upgraded augments for the Veron-T type disruptor, then so be it. Riov Hei had arrived aboard a Valdore-class warbird two days before, with a twin ship flying at its side, and had busied herself with jutting her pert nose into anything and everything possible.

When he’d had a meeting with the station engineering department regarding a slight variance in their multispectral emitters that allowed their station to appear like one of the asteroids in this belt that could impact their cloaking mechanisms if not repaired immediately, Riov Hei had demanded to know who was responsible for maintaining these systems. The head engineer and Khev provided a long list of names of all the department workers who could have touched the vital systems to keep the witch-hunter occupied for a while.

A chirp sounded, with Khev calling out for the door to open. Arrain Kilak Droall stepped through, already holding a PADD out for Khev’s passcode for decryption. "This came through a few moments ago. Marked urgent. For your eyes only.” Arrain Droall waited on the other side of Khev’s desk, careful to keep her eyes fixed entirely on the floor until Khev said otherwise.

Moving past the password-protected layers, Khev pieced together the message from the puzzle-like riddle, his frown growing deeper. “Find Riov Hei, and tell her to meet me in the docking bay immediately.”

Arrain Droall didn’t ask questions. She did as she was told, already wise in the ways of survival among the ranks. By the time Riov Hei joined him, Khev had already issued orders to his crew and waited impatiently by one of her Valdore-class warbirds. Looking up toward the gangplank that jutted down from a higher level, his gaze easily caught sight of the red-haired Tal’Shiar commander. Despite her distasteful duties, Riov Sotrak i-Mirek t’Hei was beautiful, sporting a full bust, slender waist, and sonsy hips. It was a shame the woman could curdle a man’s blood and destroy his very life with only a few well-placed words to the right people. There was too much danger to take any pleasure between the sheets with such a woman.

“Your Arrain told me to meet you here, and I see,” her amber-colored eyes darted around the docking bay, noting the quick step of his crew, “there is more lively activity among your crew. You will report your reasons.”

Khev handed the decrypted PADD over to Hei, figuring she could just as easily see for herself his reasons. The report was sent via the science cruiser Hevak and detailed in-fighting aboard the Decadius Station between the station crew and the Tal’Shiar agents sent to retrieve the Research and Development department’s chief scientist, Sindari t’Na, under the command of Riov Nalah t’Sei. Khev observed Riov Hei's facial expressions as she read the report, paying attention to the small movements around her mouth and eyes.

“I don’t see how this impacts the IFLEM.” The forced casual tone was another clue, along with the little details in how she responded to the report, that she knew more than she was letting on.

“T’Na had vital research with her and her Internal Security assigned assistant. They were supposed to be escorted here. You should know this, Riov t’Hei, since the assistant was one of your Wraiths.”

Hei sucked in a hissing breath, “How did you -”

“How I knew is of no consequence right now, Riov t’Hei. What is more important is preparing the station for potential visitors, be their friend or foe. I think we both know that once Director Rehaek hears about the situation aboard Decadius and the loss of T’Na and her research,” at this Hei’s eyes widened, and she glanced back at the PADD, re-reading the details, “you didn’t see that part yet? Yes, while they have found Riov t’Sei’s body and that of your Wraith agent, there is no sign of t’Na, and neither is there any sign of her research either. Director Rehaek will want to know that we are preparing for t'Na's return or those who may have captured her and gained information about our station.”

“Is that why you had me meet you here?” She glanced back toward one of her warbirds. “You want me to deliver that information personally, having witnessed it myself?”

Khev bowed his head slightly, “While we can receive messages, as you know, we cannot transmit without ceasing all operations and relocating. And given the timetable we’ve been given for delivery of these new upgrades by OUR superiors, I don’t think they would want further delays. One of your warbirds could get the message to Romulus faster than any of our drone ships or scout ships. Even our Snipe-class ships are being refitted with upgraded plasma arrays and could not handle the journey.”

Riov Hei looked unconvinced for a moment longer before she gave an audible sigh – perhaps the first and only genuine emotion she’d allowed for the day – and nodded in agreement. One warbird would stay behind in case someone less than Romulan-looking showed up, and the station, though armed with more than a few warp-capable warheads among other tantalizing armaments begging for further testing in a real-life scenario of attack instead of mere simulation, needed further support. Riov Khev assured the Internal Security commander that even if the station was breached, they had further internal safeguards in the guise of numerous traps programmed to kick in offensively for anyone without the correct clearance codes. Hence, the rapid scrambling of the station crew as they retreated to the areas they were cleared for or readied the traps for initiation by Khev’s order.

“I will relay your message and convey orders back.” Riov Hei turned on her heel, marching toward her ship without further verbal sparring. At least she had that going for her; in Khev’s past experience, Internal Security tended to recruit the more pontificating among their kind.


To Be Continued...


OOC: This was Part 1 of 2, depicting events aboard the R&D facility that those in Ch 1 will infiltrate…maybe, hopefully, set technically on Day 19 during the Interregnum but will have lasting implications for events during the actual episode

Re: Prologue: Edge of Chaos Mors Manet

Reply #10

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS - Mors Manet



Any change is resisted because bureaucrats have a vested interest in the chaos in which they exist. ~ Richard M. Nixon

[  Diserhn Iveek i-Vvalti tr’Sathe | Praetor Tal Aura’s Antechamber | Senate Building | Ki Baratan |  Romulus ] ATTN: ALL

Iveek really hated it when she did this to him. Even before her “election,” the now-Praetor had never been an easy woman to serve. Catering to her volatile whims and smoothing over the consequences of her outbursts had, on the one hand, secured Iveek’s position as her assistant, considering how skilled he was at doing this, but on the other hand, had led to a series of visits to the hospital with gastrointestinal issues. His treating doctor had known better than to say anything that could be misconstrued as pointing fingers at stress from serving the high-maintenance Praetor – the woman had eyes and ears everywhere – and always gave Iveek an extra dose of medication when Iveek told him about an upcoming event the Praetor would have to attend.

Steeling himself for yet another round of chastisement from yet another Senator who was being told to return another time despite having made an appointment for THIS time, Iveek kept his tone even when he spoke. “My apologies, Senator Liun. Praetor Tal’Aura left strict instructions that she was to remain undisturbed.”

The middle-aged Senator from one of the southern continents – Iveek couldn’t recall which – likewise kept his voice even though Iveek could clearly see the frustration brewing in the man’s bronze-eyed gaze. “Did she indicate for how long she was to remain undisturbed?”

“No, Senator, she did not. I will reschedule you for later in the week and update your assistant on what time and day when I have confirmed directly with the Praetor.”

Instead of arguing that maybe HE would wish to remain undisturbed and have the Praetor reschedule, both men knew that the Senator would have to kowtow to Tal’Aura’s schedule and swallow whatever ire he might feel.

Waiting until the senator was well and gone, Iveek tapped his communicator, “Ronun, tell me you know where she’s gone to this time.” Iveek had once tried to tell the Praetor that he could only be a good assistant to her if she kept him informed of her comings and goings. He’d very nearly lost his position, and possibly his life, for daring to say such a thing and so now relied on Ronun Jeiai, an elderly former Intelligence officer, to trail the Praetor whenever she decided to disappear.

After a pause, Ronun’s aged voice came through, “I lost her in the lower district marketplace. She was by herself last I saw her.” Another pause while the woman breathed, “I’ll keep looking.”

Iveek leaned back in his chair, barely resisting the urge to scratch his hands over his shaven head – the style a requirement from Tal’Aura for whatever reason. This woman would be the death of him.


To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 1 of 2, depicting events on Romulus that those in Ch 5 will be dealing with

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

Reply #11

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS - Mors Manet



If we wish to make a new world, we have the material ready. The first one, too, was made out of chaos. ~ Robert Quillen

[ Erei'Arrain Revad i'Ramnau tr’Liemha | Corridor | Deck 6 | Romulan Space | Imperial Carrier Okhala Thrai ] ATTN: ALL

Something was terribly wrong. Revad felt it in his bones, and his bones never lied. The day was still young, and there had been no deviation in their course toward the RNZ, yet something felt decidedly off to the Romulan officer. Every ship in the fleet had members of the Internal Security branch of the Tal’Shiar embedded in the crew. Yet, Revad had not felt anything out of the ordinary from their assigned operative. He was just as arrogantly snide with everyone as ever and had not treated Revad with any more or any less disdain than the rest of the crew. Neither his direct superiors nor those reporting to him likewise had seemed out of sorts. Both groups were their usual cagey selves on edge, given their orders to cross the RNZ in pursuit of the renegade so-called Empress Donatra.

Still, Revad felt the hair on his neck stand on end as if predatory eyes were stalking his every move as he carried out his duties. He had an instinctive urge to remain in groups, suddenly thankful that while an officer, because of their orders and the unknown of what they’d encounter at the RNZ or over it, they had berthed more crew aboard the ship than usual, and he’d been dealing with a roommate ever since they’d left Romulus. The man snored something terrible, but with his nerves on edge now, Revad was thankful for the reassurance that he was not alone in the room.

A fellow Erei’Arrain stepped into the corridor a few paces away, and the sight of Jaeih’s crimson hair eased the knot in Revad’s stomach. Quickening his steps, Revad gave his brother’s wife a half smile once she noticed him beside her.

“Where are you off to?” Though Revad knew the question was out of the norm for most crew to voice, of all his peers, he felt the most comfortable with his sister-in-law and knew she would not presume nefarious intentions in the question.

She rolled her eyes, “I have to give the Arrain a report on my way to eat. Are you free from duties?”

“Yes, I will accompany you.”

Though she raised her eyebrow at the last, Jaeih kept silent. Revad resisted the urge to walk closer to the woman as they continued, still feeling as if something or someone was lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike. 


To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 1 of 2, depicting events on the Romulan carrier that those in Ch 2 will be dealing with

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

Reply #12

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS - Mors Manet



"Chaos at the bottom means order at the top. Order at the bottom means chaos at the top." ~ -Stephen K Hayes

[ Uhlan Vriha i-Ki Baratan t’Asenth | Deck 16 | Aboard the Tal’Shiar Ihnerha Faehht Emaifha Laeosa Mniohr  (Tal’Shiar Second Secret Disease and Weapons Research Space Station) |  Romulan Space, approximately 24ly from Romulus ] ATTN: ALL

An Uhlan was usually the last to know anything of importance and certainly was the last allowed to ask questions of a superior. While they were not the lowest in the ranks, being the lowest of the officers meant they were constantly pressed between the cogs of the war machine of the regulars and the weight of the officers above them. Never quite admitted into either sphere of influence, yet expected to tie the two together.

Uhlan Vriha didn’t know why the station Riov had ordered all their failsafes to be on constant standby for the past few days, but she’d still had to ensure that the edgy regulars had followed through with the orders and set up all the checkpoints and defensive mechanisms that would turn offensive if anyone outside of the approved list of crew tried to walk through their corridors. Uhlan Vriha didn’t know why, mere hours ago, the second Tal’Shiar warbird left behind by the Internal Security Riov Hei had departed the station without clearance from the station Riov, Vrikol tr’Khev, but she’d had to report the departure to Arrain Droall and suffer through what she believed was an unwarranted chastisement. 

Now, carrying the PADD of data as if it weighed as much as a warbird, Uhlan Vriha didn’t know why she’d been the one chosen to give the engineering Erein’s report on the imminent failure in the internal third-channel circulator on key multispectral emitters to Arrain Droall. She’d already had to face down the woman’s ire once today; why did she have to be the bearer of yet more bad news? Swallowing whatever frustrations she might have, Uhlan Vriha schooled her features into a stoic neutrality before she keyed in the necessary code to allow her through the next set of failsafes on her way to Arrain Droall’s office. This was the order of things in their ranks, and she had a part to play until she qualified for a higher rank and could play a new part.


To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 2 of 2, depicting events aboard R&D facility that those in Ch 1 will be infiltrating. The timestamp for this is Day 21, so just the day before the launch of our Prologue JP posts and QSD jump.

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

Reply #13

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS - Mors Manet


"Invention it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos."~ -Mary Shelley, 'Frankenstein


[  Ronun ir-Korthre t’Jeiai | Lower Markets | Ki Baratan |  Romulus ] ATTN: ALL

“I could buy a flock of hlai'hwy for this price,” Ronun growled at the merchant, “Anything more than ten iaehhs should be reported as uennth.”

The aged merchant glanced between the bag of glazed fruit in Ronun’s hand and the shrewd glare she’d fixed upon him. It was looking to be a busy day in the market, so he could afford to haggle with her if he wanted to. “This isn’t your first irhaa is it?”

“This isn’t your first aethra is it?” She chided back without missing a breath. Breaking eye contact, the merchant muttered “hueiul jhimn” under his breath, but Ronun caught it. Rolling her eyes, Ronun pulled out the allotted coins and held them to the merchant, “I know how to keep a faehht. I promise I’ll keep this honest price to myself.”

The merchant laughed, grabbed a handful of fresh lehe'jhme, and placed them in Ronun’s hand after taking the coins. A sly grin working its way past the wrinkles on her face, Ronun gave the merchant a nod of acknowledgment before turning away. During the bartering process, she’d had half an eye on the merchant and the other half on the door through which Tal’Aura had disappeared some minutes before. There were dozens of stores in this area, some rented out, some vacant, and the one she’d chosen to disappear into was one of the vacant ones.

Ronun tucked the bag of juicy sweets into her belt before meandering through the other street stalls, lehe'jhme in hand. It wasn’t too much of a lie, her shopping here while monitoring Tal’Aura for that pest of an aide who’d first roped her into this position. Ronun was determined to figure out who’d given him the dirt on some of her past jobs. She’d find them, kill them, then wash her hands of this damned city and its intrigue. Moving past the stalls and into the alleyway that ran between two blocks of stores, Ronun bit into the lehe'jhme, lips twisting as the sour taste rippled through her senses. There was a reason it was mostly used for wine, but there were nutritional qualities in eating it fresh, and Ronun was not as young as she used to be, or so her grandchildren liked to remind her.


Glancing up at the store wall where Tal’Aura continued to lurk, Ronun’s mind wandered to her family. They would like the sweet fruit she’d bought them. It was good that Ronun was thinking of her grandchildren, picturing their smiling faces as they enjoyed the market-bought sweets in her bag, for it was her last.


To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 2 of 2, depicting events on Romulus happening concurrently with our JP posts that those in Ch 5 will be dealing with. Romulan words from: http://mrklingo.freeshell.org/romulan/engtorihan.html

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

Reply #14

PROLOGUE: EDGE OF CHAOS - Mors Manet

"Chaos was the law of nature. Order was the dream of man."  ~ -Henry Adams


[ Unknown | Corridor | Deck 4 | Romulan Space | Imperial Carrier Okhala Thrai ] ATTN: ALL

Time slips away, collected as grains of sand in the hourglass of temporal mechanics. Merciless to all who do not master it, time is a storm in which most are left adrift, tossed ever forward to the abyss of nothingness. Each moment, like a thief, scores away more than it brings. Fools think they could make up for lost time, but there is no such thing as lost time, just time reapplied elsewhere. They thought they had time, but the truth was that time had them. And of all the commodities to spend in a mortal life, time was the most illusionarily fleeting of all.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time; he had both.

Time. He had it. Revad did not.


To Be Continued...

OOC: This was Part 2 of 2, depicting events on the Romulan carrier happening concurrently with our JP posts that those in Ch 2 will be dealing with

 

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

Reply #15

Meanwhile, on Theurgy, 0900 hrs


Chaos is the score upon which reality is written. ~ Henry Miller


[ Cpt. Jien Ives | Main Bridge | D. 1| V. 1 | USS Theurgy ] ATTN: ALL

“Chief Arnold,” Ives leaned over the console on her captain’s chair, “where do we stand on the QSD?”

A moment passed before Arnold’s voice came through the comms, [ “Benamite catalyzer shows green, matter anti-matter flow looks good, QSD guidance computer looks.....ready. Warp field projectors are calibrated and ready. We're ready to go, sir."]

Ives nodded, “Very well; you may engage the QSD at your discretion. And when you have a moment, update me on the rifle modifications and the EMP simulations.”

[ ENGINEERING ]

Chief Arnold killed the comm line then took a breath as he took a moment to stare at the readouts. This was their 'Houston, we are go for launch' moment. Satisfied with what the readouts told him, he grabbed his coffee thermos and went to the QSD assembly. Stopping here and there to check up on the crew and a readout here and there, the big, burly man sauntered his way to where his perpetually grease-covered, coffee-inhaling deputy was surely fussing over her baby. Reaching the assembly, he spotted a pair of boots pointing out from the drive, and he took a moment to stop and appreciate all the work she'd put in. As a severe counterweight though was the stunt she’d pulled this morning and his mind floated back to just what seemed like a few precious moments in his office.

[Somewhere around T-90 to T-60 minutes to jump]

Lieutenant Commander Arnold was circling his assistant and he had her at ram-rod straight attention as he circled her. He kept this up for a good several minutes as he stewed and let her stew.  Any attempt to communicate, defend, or inquire was cut off as he continued wearing a trench in the floor around the Trill.  He let this go on for about five minutes before stopping in front of her let her have a good look his face as his eyebrows looked like they were trying to knit themselves together while the edges of his mouth tried to connect with his chin. Letting a few more moments hang in the air, the Chief finally deigned to speak though his tone had somehow managed to convey a finely mixed blend of disappointment, sarcasm, with just a fine edge of fury that seemed to freeze his blue eyes. "Now, Lieutenant.  I distinctly remember telling you that you were to visit one of the ship’s counselors. You were to have a chat with them to see where your head is since getting barbecued and coming out of cryo will cause issues for a person that they have to process.  Like a reasonable adult who is supposed to look after themselves, you are supposed to sleep on a regular basis not just for their own health, but so they can also operate effectively for the rest of the crew.  Did this somehow slip your mind while you were prancing all over the ship as if the fucking asinine bullshit term of ‘sleep is for wimps’ applies to you?"

The Chief’s blue eyes would have pierced Azrin’s skull if they were weapons as he glared at her then turned around towards his  desk as he ran a frazzled hand through his hair.  "No you do not have permission to speak" Sitting heavily, he exhaled as his expression softened.  "This whole set up is yours, you’ve been starry eyed for this day since we met after you’d come to see me the first time, and you try to ruin it by pulling a meat-headed stunt like this?  Azrin, nobody knows the systems like you do, and you were willing to jeopardize it all because you think you know yourself better?  Nobody knows themselves that well.  Especially when sleep-deprived, and don’t tell me you’re not.  Dr.Leux explained what’s going on."

Frank looked at his assistant and knew the real reason he was mad was that he’d failed her by not getting her to slow down for her own good.  It had almost cost them heavily, and he said as much before continuing. "I don’t have anyone else and I can’t relieve you at this time, so you’ll have to make it work. There’s a raktajino pot with your name on it by the QSD.  Get fuelled and let’s get through this first.  After we’re done with this mission, I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. Dismissed."

[The Present]

"Well Azrin, I just told the Captain we're good to go based off the readouts on the master panel. How do we stand with everything?"

They were ready. They were ready! Azrin was certain of that. She had triple checked every system, fine tuned all three warp cores until they hummed in a beautiful symphony, co-opted ops personnel to tweak every power conduit to maximum efficiency, done it again herself just to be safe, sent Corgin a million questions that were all met with cold silence or a stern reminder that she wasn’t supposed to (or allowed to) know the intricacies of the system, installed new initiators on the hull and polished up the existing ones, tested the filters in the benamite reclamation system, put one of their rare and precious crystals into the chamber, and run countless diagnostics.

She’d even gotten a few hours of sleep this morning – though that had mostly been an accident.

Azrin had done everything she could possibly do in the past few weeks to prepare, and the moment was finally here. Had there been time, she probably would have run another diagnostic anyway, just to be safe. But the board was green, the Captain had given her permission to engage, and Frank was looking at her for a final confirmation before he called it. Most people would probably be sitting back and anticipating the upcoming technological wonder. Azrin was not one of them.

She scrambled to her feet when the chief engineer had come up, but she wasn’t ready to answer just yet. In lieu of anything technical left to do, she was now resorting to shouting affirmations at the slipstream drive.

“You’re amazing! Beautiful! The fastest, most elegant ship in the galaxy! Erudite who? It wishes it could slipstream like you do! This is going to be the greatest flight ever!”

Over the past few weeks, the engineering staff had become accustomed to their eccentric assistant chief and her habit of personifying every piece of technology under her purview. For the most part they ignored her, with only a few rolled eyes and grins to show that they heard her at all.

“You are ready to go!”

She finally glanced at Frank, asking for permission, and received a nod in return. Another look at the main control console showed that everything was still ready – with no noticeable difference from her pep talk. “Quantum Slipstream Drive activated in 3… 2… 1…” Bouncing on her toes, Azrin reached out and tapped the ignition. “Go!” Which was rather more anticlimactic than she’d expected it to be.

[ Main Bridge ]

A few moments passed before Ives felt the ship’s adjustment, and the viewscreen changed as the QSD engaged. Settling back in her chair, Ives read the department head reports, noting which crew members were going where when Henshaw caught her attention.

“Captain, there was a live stream of Judicious Journeys airing just as we started our QSD.” Ives raised a questioning set of eyebrows, signaling the yeoman for more information. “The doctor Lieutenant Madsen rescued from the embassy on Qo’Nos? He runs one of the most popular shows in the Federation, famous for not taking sides and just seeking to show the truth.”

“How does this relate to us?”

“As you ordered, we’ve had Thea scanning all networks for any references to the key players of recent events as well as the Theurgy,” Ives nodded, “He mentioned Martok, Mo’Kai, Gorka, and Theurgy. Then, apparently, the feed went dark for a bit, and he’s live again, though using a different configuration to stream. ”

Ives tipped her chin up, “Interesting. Record the broadcast, I’ll review it in my ready room once we drop into warp.”

Henshaw nodded, returning her attention to her console, leaving Ives to continue assessing the coming missions and crew placement.

[ ENGINEERING, 0957 HRS ]

Frank watched the countdown timer as the Theurgy hurtled through space faster than most ships that had come before it. On the one side displayed the estimated time till they arrived at their destination. Below it was a bar representing the estimated integrity of the benemite crystals and a countdown timer until it was thought they would be rendered inert and useless. The Chief Engineer frowned as the timer for the crystal still stayed ahead of the arrival timer, but not at the rate that made the system truly effective. Taking a moment to look at his deputy, he could see the mingled joy and frustration her body exuded as the system worked, but not near the levels of efficiency they were hoping for. Taking a look at the timers, he punched in a quick series of commands, and the new arrival estimate at normal warp speeds was generated. It was still well within the required time, and he stood for a moment before blowing out his cheeks and coming to a decision.

"Engineering to Bridge. Recommend we cut Slipstream in one minute to preserve the crystals. I'm relaying a revised time estimate under normal warp to the rendezvous point." As he waited for the reply, Frank looked levelly into his assistant's eyes, ready to give the command to shut the QSD down.

[ “Very well, thank you, Mister Arnold. Cut Slipstream.” ]

Chief Arnold began a countdown at the twenty-second mark, and the tension ratcheted up with each passing second. Frank would have preferred to come to sub-light speeds for the next part, but they were in a bit of a hurry, so when the count reached zero, he brought the warp coils to standby. The high-pitched multi-tonal whine of the QSD rapidly became quieter, and the Chief kept his eye on the velocity indicator. He was hoping this would work as the slipstream collapsed around them and the velocity indicator plummeted.

"Warp drive to active, in 5...4...3..2...1...Execute!"

The computer had total control due to the fine balance necessary that no organic being would be able to achieve, and the anti-matter reactor pulsed rapidly as the matter and anti-matter valves forced more power into the ship's system while subspace surrounding the ship was reconfigured on the fly. Eyes all over Engineering were glued to their readouts for even the tiniest flaw from their days of programming and testing. With the steady thrum of the warp drive going active and stabilizing, Engineering let out a collective sigh of relief as Theurgy steadied herself at warp 9.75. Smiling confidently, Chief Arnold crossed his arms.

"Well done all. Commence a level 1 diagnostic of all systems." Frank was sure that the conn would let the Captain know they'd dropped back to normal warp while he got on with getting the rest of the ship ready.

[ MAIN BRIDGE, 1000hrs ]

Straightening in her chair, Ives waited for the familiar feel of the warp drive kicking in when Sarresh, looking a sight worse for wear than when she’d last seen him, emerged from the turbolifts. Ives frowned. The man was typically a harbinger of bad news, temporally speaking. Ives stood, gesturing for Sarresh to follow her into her ready room adjacent to the bridge. Whatever the man had to say was likely best said in the privacy.

[ CO READY ROOM  ]

“What’s the update?” Ives didn’t bother sitting down at her desk. With the QSD, they would arrive at their coordinates soon.

“Nothing you’ll be happy about,” Sarresh noted dryly. “Don’t worry, I’m not happy about it either. Things are moving too fast again, all at once. Confluence point. And frankly, my brain is still rattling around in its cage.” Mirthlessly, he tapped the side of his head before squaring off his shoulders and forestalling a well-deserved ‘get to the point, Moralli’ by getting to the point.

“Revad of Romulus,” he stated bluntly, reaching over and triggering a holo display after sliding in an odd-looking isolinear adjacent chip into the data port. An image crackled to life, floating in the air. “Currently en route to the Klingon border aboard a carrier. Which one, we don’t know. Where along the route, we have...half an idea. Best I could get at the time. Why does he matter?” Sarresh inhaled deeply before continuing. “Mr. Revad is a key member of the Temporal Assessment group. And our ever-vigilant foe has decided it is time for him to die well ahead of history's schedule. The specifics of what he will do to ensure the activation of the grid are a bit murky. I don’t want to oversell it, but the grid doesn't happen without him. The Relativity believes he won’t make it to the rendezvous alive. So we have to get to him first.” He paused here momentarily, scratching at the stubble on his chin, before adding, “There is a greater than zero chance that if we do get to him...well, we can drastically move up the grid timetable. Or not. Time is...what’s the human aphorism? Fucky? Time is fucky like that. We get him, maybe we have a grid by this time next week. We don’t save him, we won’t have a grid, ever.”

Ives clenched her fists as Sarresh’s report outlined itself in her mind. Inhaling slowly, Ives bent over the console on her desk, calling Cross and Stark into her ready room. Once both were standing askance from Sarresh and herself, Ives nodded to Sarresh.

“Tell them what you told me.”

Repressing a groan at having to repeat himself - and all the temporal witticisms that popped into his brain as a result - the science officer tugged his jacket down, clasped his hands behind his back, and dove in with his usual aplomb. “Please pay attention because if I repeat myself a third time, our timeline might collapse. Now...” Sarresh plowed through, wondering if the headache blooming behind his eyes would ever disappear.

Turning first to Cross, Ives broke the heavy silence Sarresh’s report had washed over their small group, “You will take the Ranger across the RNZ to intercept this Romulan carrier. Rescue Revad. Given the nature of the mission, temporal mechanics, and all that, you must do what you can to keep those details to a minimum. Mister Morali, you will, of course, be accompanying Mister Cross. There will be questions, and morale may lessen, but do what you must to get Revad out of harm’s way. And keep the channels open. We will all need to coordinate with the science team when they have all the necessary intel to create the countermeasures for the thalaron weaponry.”

“Yes, captain,” Cross’ brows were drawn together as he nodded, “I’ll compile a new crew list for the Ranger.”

Ives nodded, gaze turning to Stark, “With Cross on the Ranger over the RNZ and myself on the Allegiant aboard the Erudite, you’ll be in command here. I doubt Donatra and Martok will make this easy, and based on the chatter Henshaw’s shared with me, it sounds as if rouge IKS and Mo’Kai forces are active in the area and may further complicate talks.”

“Understood, captain. We’ll handle it.”

Smiling, Ives nodded, “I know you will.” Glancing at Sarresh, she added, “Thank you, that will be all. I’ll announce the change once we arrive at our coordinates.”

Waiting for the other officers to leave, Ives twisted the console on her desk and cued up the waiting broadcast from Henshaw. The first portion of the broadcast was nothing new, though it was comforting to know that Marlowe had been present on Qo’Nos for these events and even met his former student and friend, Lieutenant Madsen, during that time and so could offer first-hand accounting to the broadcast. But then, the sudden black screen occurred and remained for a time before suddenly Marlowe’s face was back in an extreme close-up as if the man was holding an old recording device turned to face himself – and based on the quality of the broadcast, and is likely what had happened. Ives’ frown increased as Marlowe showed the bodies of his colleagues, including a former crewmember on Theurgy, Rylan Sil. This additional broadcast, coupled with his more controlled beginning portion, would certainly make waves in the Federation. It was uncertain how many had been able to see it, though Henshaw noted that, apparently, the USS Vera Rubin had been helping to broadcast the feed even to the end. Most interesting. Very much worth looking into.

[ Main Bridge, 1155hrs ]

They’d arrived at the coordinates mere moments before, already establishing preliminary diplomatic channels among Martok’s forces. Donatra had yet to arrive. Standing next to his captain’s chair, Ives nodded to Henshaw, waiting until her signal before he addressed the whole ship:

[ “This is Captain Ives. We have arrived at our coordinates at the RNZ alongside Chancellor Martok’s forces, and the Helmet will remain here to wait with our allies for Empress Donatra’s arrival. Events occurred during our QSD jump that now require the Ranger to disengage from the Helmet. Commander Cross will command the Ranger on its new mission within the RNZ, and those crew members traveling with the Ranger will receive their orders now. The Ranger will disengage within the hour. All ships departing from the Helmet will leave by 1400 hrs.” ] Ives paused to nod at Henshaw, who sent the series of orders from the queue compiled beforehand. [ “The rest of you will follow your department heads' orders as they have already been issued. I need not emphasize the importance of achieving success for each mission. We all know what is at stake. I command the finest crew in Starfleet history. I likewise can say without hesitation that I know each of you will do whatever is necessary to see these missions through to the end. There is no good luck. So, I say success to you all. That is all.”]

Henshaw cut the feed at his signal, sighing as she sat back in her chair. Ives turned to look at Cross, then skimmed over to Stark. There was a leaden silence on the bridge. There were equal opportunities for success and failure with so many moving parts. Equal opportunities for survival or death. There were times when words were not enough to convey a thought or an emotion, and this was one of those times. Each bridge crew member knew this was quite possibly the last time they’d all stand together like this; they each knew the memorial wall would likely gain more than a few more names before these missions saw their fateful ends, with their own names potentially being among them.

Taking the few steps necessary to close the distance, Ives extended her hand first to Stark and then to Cross. She made eye contact with each crew member on the bridge, giving them one last reassuring nod, conveying her confidence in their skills through the acknowledging look. Finally, she looked to Henshaw, the yeoman already on her feet, ready to accompany Ives to the docking bay. She had her own ship to take and a piece of the puzzle to oversee. Together with Cross and Henshaw, Ives led the way to the turbolift. She held her head high, gaze steady on Stark, before the lift doors slid shut, sealing off her view of the bridge.

OOC: This was Part 2 of 2, depicting events on Theurgy leading to everyone breaking up on their missions.  Thanks to @Brutus and @Ryetanker and @rae for their character's dialogue.


Please refer to this calendar (https://uss-theurgy.com/w/index.php?title=Cosmic_Imperative_Calendar) for insight into who is where and when – we will update it as events are revealed and adjusted in-game. If you have questions, suggestions for story prompts, or a crazy concept you think might be fun to encounter during the chapter, please refer to the following GM assignments:
  • Chapter 1/5 GM = Ellen
  • Chapter 2 GM = Rae
  • Chapter 3/4 GM = Brutus

Considering the QSD jump took one hour (9am - 10am), and Theurgy arrived at coordinates close to noon, more Prologue Supplemental threads may be made for during those times. Immediately after the main officer JP post, department heads would have been informed of coming missions, so if you’d like to have in-game meetings or assignment posts, feel free. So you may begin/continue writing filler threads leading up to the Ranger disengaging/contacting Martok at 1300 using Pro S [Day 1 | Time  ] Title.

For primary story writing purposes, we’ll be using Chapter #: Title [ Day #  | Time  ]

You’ll use Ch # S  [ Day #  | Time  ] Title for supplemental threads.

*The butterfly effect changes are also now instated as of this post and moving forward. *

 
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