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Looking Back in Anger

Posted on Tue Mar 30th, 2021 @ 7:25pm by Lieutenant Mila Lynn & Colonel Sehan t'Varis & Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien & Centurion Nancy Gable & Major Ashley Rogers & Lieutenant T'Ango & Lieutenant Hatham tr'Krotash

Mission: Chapter IV: Unravelling the Mystery
Location: Briefing Room, I.R.W. Ourainavassa
Timeline: 238702.14

Raven sat in the briefing room and looked around. Some of the furniture had been thrown around during the battle, and the decorative vase in the corner had been smashed by a flying chair. A reminder of how fragile even the most powerful warbird was. She raised her hand to rub the hole left by her missing eye, but thought better of it. It was itching around the clock, and although she had taken to wearing a simple, surgical eyepatch, she felt the cold air drying its vulnerable skin. A large scar on the left side of her face showed where the broken console had ripped open her skin, and despite her fractures having been repaired, she found it difficult to walk, relying on a cane and taking regular breaks. And that wasn't even mentioning the near constant throbbing headache. No, she had not come out of the Battle well.

Still, she mused, at least she was alive. When she had woken up, one of the first things she had asked Doctor Gable was if there had been any deaths. And there had been too many. Gedak had been a friend and mentor to her ever since she had first become a mercenary. The engineering crews had found a large, heavy container filled with latinum being held in the breach containment field. It was likely what had killed him. Raven shook her head and chuckled. What a silly way to go.

But now it was time to get on with business. Repairs to the ship were well underway, and the situation in medbay appeared to be much more in control than it had been over the last few days. Although the doctor had urged her to stay and rest, the colonel had taken a walk around the Ourainavassa, to see for herself the battle scars left from their encounter with Vulture.

Vulture. The half-Orion pirate that had said she was her mother. Raven still found that difficult to believe. But no amount of sentimentality would stop her from ripping her to pieces. Vulture would pay for what she had done to her, to her crew, to her ship. And she would pay dearly.

The door to the briefing room slid open, and Mila entered, taking a seat at the table. "Colonel, it is good to see you up and back at work," she said. "I hope you are not suffering too much."

Raven replied with a hollow laugh. "I'm alive, Lieutenant. That is what matters. But thank you for your concern."

"Taking it a bit easier would help you stay that way," Gable remarked as she entered. She'd released Raven for duty, but in part that had been based on judging that she was more likely to hurt herself sneaking out if confined to medbay much longer. Not that was any different than 99% of the Romulans in the there. "Someday I'd like to spend less effort on surgery than on keeping patients in bed post-op."

The colonel smirked. "That would mean moving to a nice, cozy, planetside hospital, or maybe one of those health cruise liners. Sorry, Doc, I can't see you doing that. Even with the one eye I've still got." She shook her head and once again adjusted the eyepatch. "This damn thing will take a while to get used to. And the fact that I now have a massive blind spot. Literally."

Mila looked at Raven. "You know, ma'am, my father provided medical with schematics for advanced prosthetics that can easily be produced in a replicator. We could have one fitted to you by the time we leave Cera."

Raven shook her head. "Hell no. I've told the Doc multiple times, and I am telling you now. I'd rather be a one-eyed cripple than being turned into a damn cyborg. Implants can be hijacked and I'd rather die than give our enemy that chance."

"But," the Lieutenant tried to argue. "The cybernetic eyes are actually an improvement on biological ones, you could have night vision, heat tracking, my dad designed my implants and if I dial them up fully I can hear things outside the auditory range of most organics. Gives me a horrible headache, but I could do it if I had to."

"We can get a biological replacement if we don't wait too long," Gable said, since arguing was going to do no good. "Not as good as the advanced ocular implants, but as long as the primary nerve pathways are viable it should be equivalent to her natural eye - other than likely not being a perfect match on color."

The colonel sighed. "And where would we get such a thing? I'm no medic, or even a scientist, but wouldn't that have to be artificially grown? We don't have the tech for that on this ship. And we don't have the time to go and find someone who has." She held her hand up to silence Mila before she could interrupt. "I know that Cera would likely be able to assist, but no." She placed her hand on the eyepatch. "This, right here, reminds me what we are fighting against. Who we are fighting against."

Her face suddenly changed, turning from sorrow to fury. "We have lost too many good people because of Vulture. There is an old Earth saying. An eye for an eye. That is where we will get the replacement from. I will rip it out of her head with my bare hands if I have to."

Both the Rogerses walked in, "We'll gladly help you rip things out of someone with our bare hands...." They smirked and looked at each other. The Major looked at her boss, this is yet another blow for her, "How are you, Raven?" she asked, looking her in her one eye... the unspoken caveat that she was asking as a friend.

"Commander, Major," Raven nodded in greeting. "That was some fine work from both of you during the battle. As for how I am doing, well, thanks to the Doctor here, I am alive. It'll take a bit of time for me to be back at my best, but I'm getting there." She shrugged. "Loss of limb, unfortunately, is a risk that one has to be willing to take in this job. As well as loss of friends, sadly."

"Indeed," Hatham said solemnly as he entered. He had spent the last few days sending 'regret to inform you' messages, as well as working to establish a new network of contacts for those families - he owed it to fallen comrades to see to it that their families were not lost. "I am glad that you survived and are recovering, Colonel."

"Thank you, Sublieutenant." Raven looked around the room and nodded solemnly. "I am aware that we are still missing Subcommander Kaiae, who I am sure will be with us shortly, and I have also invited T'Ango to this briefing. The chief engineer is busy overseeing the repairs to our wing, so she has been excused from this briefing, I will meet with her personally later on. Lieutenant Xia, likewise, is coordinating with the station commander for the delivery of materiel and supplies, since we don't have a quartermaster any more. So, let's begin the meeting."

"Pardon," T'Ango said slipping in. "I got caught up in repairs and forgot the time. Please go on."

Raven nodded a greeting to T'Ango, and tapped the button for the holoprojector, but nothing happened. "Right," she remarked. "That hasn't been fixed yet. No matter. The operation at the Faraday Nebula has been very costly, as you all know. We have lost valued members of our crew. Uhlan Kenneth Harrison was killed during the boarding of the enemy vessel. Sublieutenant Gedak lost his life following severe injuries caused when the heavy case of latinum he had in his quarters was thrown into him by the loss of pressure during a hull breach. We also lost several members of the engineering and operations departments during the brief exchange of fire with the Emerald Raptor. I propose we hold a memorial for those killed in action. Doctor Gable, I know you recommended I transfer some of my duties to Major Rogers while I recover from my own injuries. Nevertheless, this is a matter I would like to take into my own hands. Please provide me with a full list of the names of those we have lost, so I can begin to make the appropriate arrangements."

"There were eight others. The names are here," Gable said, pushing a PaDD to Raven. She looked meaningfully at Hatham. He had already gotten the list, and while Nancy had learned more than enough about the necessary arrangements in the past few years, he as a Romulan was better suited to speak here.

With a fractional nod to Gable, Hatham cleared his throat slightly. "Much of that has already been done. As you were incapacitated, and I am known to the families, I took it upon myself to inform them. Subcommander Kaiae and I have also begun to fashion the banners to be hung in ship's memorial hall in their honor."

In a cosmic irony of sorts, the doors to the briefing room opened again, admitting Kaiae, technically immaculate in styling and dress but with a haggard edge settling into her appearance nonetheless, lowering herself more bonelessly than usual into an open seat.

Raven nodded. "Thank you Doctor, Sublieutenant. I also intend to dedicate a small area of the hydroponics bay as a memorial garden, seeing as we are mainly using it as a recreational area anyway. We can meet later to discuss the details. And welcome, Subcommander."

Once Kaiae had sat down, the colonel continued. "Regardless of our losses, our operation was a success. We were able to transfer 97% of the data held by the enemy vessel's computer core. Lieutenant Lynn, how are we looking on those files?"

"Our own main computer has been restored to full function, ma'am," Mila responded. "I have begun to process the files, but it will take a day or so to fully recompile everything, and then at least another day to sift through it all. I will inform you as soon as I find anything of interest."

Raven nodded. "Please do. Once we have more information on Vulture's operation, we can begin to analyse it and come up with a plan to put a stop to it. I am especially concerned by the apparent involvement of the Tal Shiar."

She turned to the Terran. "Commander Rogers, any information you can share with us on this matter will be of great benefit. I know you have your own directives to observe, but anything that can help us understand and defeat our enemy is of vital importance. Speaking of our enemy, I want to address the elephant in the room, as they say on Earth. Captain Risei, or Vulture, claims to be my mother. I've had some time to think about that while I was recuperating in medbay. And, honestly, I am not sure if I believe her. I mean, she has not given me any reason to. Thanks to my Tal Shiar commission, I was able to get my father's service record. And while it's true that he has raised concerns about the Empire's extremely closed nature, from what I've seen, I would not go as far as to call him an idealist. She made him sound like a fanatical supporter of the reunificationists, but if he was, he hid it extremely well. He raised a proposal to look into reforming the Romulan Navy's recruitment practices, to allow non-Romulans to enlist as lower-ranked crew, but that's as far as it goes."

Hatham nodded quietly at that assessment. Good. With time to get over the shock of it, the Colonel had been able to see what was plain (at least to him though he imagined to every other Romulan as well), that no idealist, let alone one advocating Federation style inclusivity would have risen to general or even survived long in the Tal'Shiar. The entire story struck him as construct to throw her in the heat of battle and given them time to access the ships over rides - a play that had obviously succeeded, but one they wouldn't be able to use again if now saw past it.

The Terran looked at Raven and the people gathered in the room, "My condolences to you and your crew for your losses. While I still can't share much of what I know..."

The Major looked at her counterpart, "But you did know what was going to happen??"

The Commander looked at the Major and shook her head, "Every timeline unfolds the way it should.. They're all different. I knew something was going to happen to this crew but not the specifics. The less detail I know the better, so I won't disrupt the timeline. The Tal'Shiar are involved in experiments that may prove even more destructive than any of you can fathom."

Raven shook her head. "I hate time travel and everything associated with it. It just overly complicates things. Do you have any information that can help us with our mission? Any weak points in the Hobus operation or Vulture's group?"

Commander Rogers looked everyone around the room, her mission was to get the crew to trust her so that when the time comes they would without hesitation. Trust was the last thing on anyone's mind right now, "I don't know much about Vulture, but... the Tal'Shiar aspect is concerning. We have reason to believe that there are Tal'Shiar from the future that are trying to manipulate this timeline. If they are involved with Vulture... we have to stop her. I'm going to have to wait for Lieutenant Lynn's analysis of the data to confirm my theory. That's all I can share with you at the moment."

If the goal was building trust, Commander Rogers was failing spectacularly where Hatham was concerned. His eyes narrowed. If every time line unfolded differently, why should there be so much concern over information that might nudge this one in one direction or another? He was sure 'all I can share' really meant 'all I choose to', but to the extent that she could be a means to the end of ending Vulture, he would work with her. Besides it was better to have her here where she could be watched.

But she'd surely knew he wouldn't trust her, and it would look more suspicious on his part to play innocent. "Every timeline unfolds differently, but you can't disrupt this one? If those Tal'Shiar are from the future, it's already disrupted," Hatham noted. "And I'm sure if captured one of them, the line would be that they were fixing interference from your universe. You're asking us to let you blindly lead us in the temporal dark."

The colonel nodded. "Even more time travel. I don't like this one bit. Commander, I want you working with the Lieutenant on analysing that data, as quickly and thoroughly as you can. I have a feeling we don't have much time left to stop them. I also think it is time for me to meet your commanding officer. Engineering tell me we will be spending maybe another nine days in dock. I would like to speak to your captain before we leave Cera."

"Colonel, it's not exactly easy to just reach out across universes.... but, I suppose I can make arrangements," the Commander said.

"Thank you, Commander." Raven turned to T'Ango. "T'Ango, thank you for your support and assistance during the mission at the Faraday Nebula. Unfortunately, losing Gedak has not only cost us our quartermaster, but also our best source of information. If you are willing to continue assisting us, I would like to ask you to go and try to find out as much as you can about Vulture's victims. Are they chosen according to a pattern, or at random? And what are they doing with them? We need to know so we can liberate them and stop her, for good. I would like you to liaise closely with Major Rogers on this."

T'Ango nodded. "I'd already made some inquiries after Dr. Gable told us about that. I don' have anything solid yet, but between us," she smiled at her Ash, "I'm sure we can find something."

Major Rogers looked over at T'Ango, "Guess you're stuck with me for a bit longer, old friend."

"Yes," the tip of T'Ango's tail swished, "You didn't think you could rid me of so quickly, did you?"

Finally, the colonel turned to the two Romulans at the table. "We have seen evidence that Vulture may be collaborating with the Tal Shiar, likely the faction that is operating at Hobus. Subcommander, Sublieutenant, I would like you to try to find out as much as you can about this. Is Vulture only a hired mercenary, or is there more to this?"

"Daie, Colonel," Hatham responded, deciding to take that as an opening to raise what Hatham had been considering these last few days. "Even those with Tal'Shiar connections can rarely learn much about what is happening outside their own section, but in my opinion we need to consider that Vulture is not only lying about your father, but about herself as well - and in a more fundamental way than the story of being a jilted lover. It would not be beyond their capability to surgically alter one of their own to appear to be an Orion resembling you. I've gotten confirmation from my contacts that Tal'Shiar were watching us on Drozana. It wouldn't take much for them to learn enough to create her as a gamaen ih'hiyaa-aifv, a thing to disrupt your mind."

He paused, knowing what he was about to say stepped somewhat out of bounds, but something were more important than good order and propriety. "I think it's important to realize she functions like that for all of us still." The next words carried the full fierce heat of Romulan fury and the hard discipline by which it was contained. "I want to crush the life out of her with my bare hands and I'm sure we all do, but that is a weapon they can and will use against us - to drive, to distract, to goad."

Raven nodded. "The same thought has crossed my mind. However, we know that Vulture's operation has been running for at least a year before we arrived at Drozana. So, if they altered Captain Risei, maybe there was someone else wearing the mantle of Vulture before her? There have been reports that her modus operandi has changed. This is well worth looking into. Sublieutenant Hatham, try to learn as much as you can and keep me informed at all times."

The colonel looked around the room. "Now, before I come to my final point, is there anything anyone would like to raise?"

"Regardless of who she may be or to whose flag she answers, there does also remain regardless the issue of those who went missing during her attack on the flotilla. And unfortunately the number of possibilities as to their fate and whether or not they are recoverable is only broadened rather than curtailed by the addition of the Tal Shiar in the mix." Not to mention the time travel angle; but Kaiae got rather more of a headache considering temporal mechanics than one received dealing with the Tal Shiar, even. Kaiae's voice became flatter and if anything further controlled with her next words: "Though. Their involvement does raise the possibility that even if we should locate some of the survivors, depending on the circumstance, we may not be able to trust them any longer. It would not be beyond their capability either to replace or to condition several to be tools to their ends."

"Indeed, you raise a good point, Subcommander," the Colonel responded. "We will need to determine the fate of those abducted by Vulture, and whether they have been brainwashed into the Tal Shiar. Our objective is still to ensure the safety of all refugees, which means taking out Vulture and her operation. Nevertheless, our initial mission was to escort the flotilla, and I still intend to get the survivors to a new home, if that is at all possible."

"Agreed." Hatham nodded firmly. "We go in without the expectation of cooperation, but I'd do that anyway. Hiding sleepers among a hostage group would be a classic move, so you can't trust they're all happy to see you. One way or another though, we get out as many as are alive."

"We have no idea what the Tal Shiar are doing with these people, but whatever it is, it can't be good. As soon as the ship is repaired, we will return to Drozana, but this time, we won't stay there. There is a chance that Vulture will be waiting for us." Raven looked around the room. "We are at war, my friends. Stay vigilant, at all times."

"Now, there is one last thing I want to address," she continued, and reached into the pocket of her jacket, pulling out a little black box that would be all too familiar to the crew by now. "Sublieutenant Hatham tr'Krotash. In light of your continued outstanding service on this crew, I have the utmost honour to promote you to the rank of Lieutenant, effective immediately." She opened the box, revealing the rank badge it contained, and slid it over to Hatham. "Congratulations, Lieutenant."

Major Rogers smiled at Hatham. In the midst of all of the chaos, loss, and difficult times ahead, this was a brief respite from it all. She was the first to congratulate him with a playful punch to the shoulder, "You've earned it. Once this is all said and done, we shall celebrate with you like you did for me."

"Khlinae arhem, Colonel," Hatham said, head inclining a precise fraction in formal acknowledgment, but his lips quirked in a grin as he looked at Ash sidelong. "Khnai'ra, Rogers. Remember to ask the Doc for hangover meds ahead of time."

Raven smiled. "I'll be joining you for those drinks, when the time comes. Right, we all have work to do. Dismissed."

 

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