A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

The Gatekeepers

With the spreading news of an antimatter anomaly on the far edges of the Beta Quadrant raising concern through out the region, the Federation Council has decided a ship must be send to investigate. If a source of antimatter is found, it could fuel long-term exploration for a long time to come. Since the Potemkin was one of the first to hear of the anomaly (from the Ferengi in the Gamma Quadrant), the ship was chosen for expedition to report on the anomaly first-hand. The first obstacle, however, is the Romulan Star Empire. The 'Tem must transverse the empire to head toward the anomaly. As the sim opens, the ship had been sitting at the edge of the Neutral Zone by Galorndon Core for three days, waiting for any response from the Romulans about the request to pass through their territory.

The only activity on sensors was a comet passing 15 AU from the 'Tem's position. The Cloaked Warp Detective Systems (or CWDS) showed no hidden Romulan vessels in the area, leaving the crew to continue to wait and wonder what the Romulans were thinking. While pursuing passing interest in the comet, sensors showed it was outside it's normal course. Suddenly proximity sensors sounded and the form of a Valdore-class warbird shimmered into view.

The first few hails seemingly fell on deaf ears, but finally the viewscreen came to life and the crew were greeted by their old ally Rokan. The commander was brief and spoke "off the record" - there was still great debate in the Senate whether or not to accept the Federation's request. He believed the Senate were decide in favor but on a condition - a Romulan escort would be provided. Rokan hoped his ship would be selected to be that escort, but he would know more when the Senate made their decision. With that, his ship cloaked once again, leaving the crew to contemplate what he said.

No sooner had Rokan vanished then another vessel decloaked - a D'Deridex-class warbird. The vessel hailed the 'Tem and a Commander Lucara told the 'Tem the Praetor had declined the Federation's request as it had no benefit for the Romulan people. Warp asked to speak with the Praetor to discuss the matter, but was denied by Lucara, who also reminded him that speaking with any renegade factions in the Romulan Empire would be considered an act of war. She then cut communications before any further discussion could be had.

Lucara had barely left when Rokan reappeared, asking to be allowed to come onboard and saying he might be able to arrange an audience with the Praetor. Warp went down to the transporter room to arrange for Rokan to come aboard. While he was gone, Rolland's sensors detected a noticeable increase in the anomaly's brightness. Although the light soon died down, the antiproton concentration was 15 percent higher than before.

Warp and Rokan retired to his ready room, with Rokan explaining the "Star Fountain" had the Senate nervous, with some thinking it was a wormhole to the Delta Quadrant. However, Rollands said the anomaly wasn't behaving like any wormhole she'd ever seen. In fact, the anomaly was now consistently changing brilliance, making it "twinkle" on the viewscreen. Arnet pointed out it was odd the fountain would start putting out such interesting readings when the 'Tem was being denied permission to get there.

Warp and Rokan finally came out of the ready room and Bom was asked to escort the Commander back to the transporter room. The captain then announced the crew should prepare to cross the Neutral Zone and across Romulan space to the "Star Fountain." Not revealing how he managed this impressive bit of diplomacy, Warp ordered the 'Tem to set off with the Accipiter at Warp 7 toward the unknown.

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