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The Times, They Are A-Changing

Posted on Tue Jul 13th, 2021 @ 10:33pm by Colonel Sehan t'Varis & Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien

Mission: Chapter IV: Unravelling the Mystery
Location: Commander's Ready Room, I.R.W. Ourainavassa
Timeline: 238702.18

We have been able to locate one of Vulture's transports and are moving in to intercept. Time is of the essence. We will contact you with a rendezvous once the abductees have been secured. Major Rogers and Lieutenants Hatham and Lynn are on board and will assist.

Raven had just read the message from the Amelia, when she saw the Terran ship undock. As she watched through her window as it departed, the ship was engulfed in what seemed to be electric current, before rolling briefly, and disappearing. That must have been their top secret propulsion system, she mused. She knew better than to trust the Terrans completely, but, with Ash, Mila, and Hatham on board, they would have to behave.

While the Major and the Lieutenants were away, however, business on the Ourainavassa would have to carry on without them. They were due to depart in less than twelve hours, and there were two good reasons to carry on with that plan regardless - she did not want to use up more of the Cerans' more than generous hospitality than they already had, and the arranged meeting with the alleged defector was a date they could not afford to miss.

However, with the ship's Executive Officer, Chief Science Officer, and Head of Security all away, arrangements needed to be made. So, following the ship's chain of command, it was time for the senior Romulan officer, and erstwhile executive officer, to step back into the role, if in an acting fashion.

The Colonel nodded to herself, and pressed the intercom. "Subcommander Kaiae, could you come by the ready room please?"

"Colonel. You wished to see me?" Kaiae held herself at attention; but the more "relaxed":, perfected stance of an experienced officer, rather than the rod-stiff, overeager pose young new sublieutenants like Seira tended towards.

Raven looked up from the report she was reading. "Ah, Subcommander. Please, do have a seat."

She took a sip from the glass of iced tea on her desk, and continued. "As you will probably be aware, Major and Commander Rogers, and Lieutenants Hatham and Lynn are currently visiting the I.S.S. Amelia. I have just received notification that our new Terran allies have located one of Vulture's transports, and are intercepting. Thanks to their advanced propulsion system, they are able to do so. Our crew has been attached to theirs for this operation, and will provide support. In the absence of Major Rogers, you are the second-highest ranking officer on this ship, and so I thought it would be best to bring you into the loop. We do not know how long it will take the Amelia to complete her mission and meet us, so we will be departing Cera as scheduled, at 0800 tomorrow morning."

"Certainly." Kaiae's stress level perhaps spiked slightly at the mention of Hatham's absence; she was finding herself coming to depend on him in a variety of things. "What is our destination from Cera?"

"Drozana, initially," Raven replied. "However, there is something else I need to talk to you about. A few days ago, I was contacted by someone who claimed to be an ex-Borg, working on Vulture's crew. They indicated a desire to defect. I have arranged a meeting with them, on our way to Drozana. We will initially take the xB into the brig until we determine the truth behind its motivations. However, I am fully aware that this could well be a trap, and with the Amelia likely unavailable as backup, we need to be prepared to have to shoot our way out. The Cerans have been generous enough to upgrade our shields, after Dr Lynn paid for it of course, so we should be able to go face to face with Vulture's flagship and survive, if it comes to that."

She rubbed her eyepatch, and then looked directly at Kaiae. "I know what you are going to say. This is a massive risk. But it is one we need to take. We need to exploit any potential advantage in our fight against Vulture, and if that xB is willing to defect and share information, we cannot waste that opportunity. I will, however, be prepared to beam it straight into space the moment it appears to cause trouble."

"I'll make sure we lock it out of our best as we can." Kaiae nodded with an accepting grimace of sorts. "I don't suppose it shared any useful information with us in advance...?"

Raven shook her head. "Unfortunately not. It did, however, say that it had a large amount of information it would be willing to share in person, claiming that it was not in a safe position to do so remotely. It is a risk we can't afford not to take."

"If any of that information is electronic in nature; rather than hardcopy or verbal recall; I recommend loading it only onto an entirely isolated system. Neither the Borg nor the Vulture can be trusted not to co-opt access which connects in any way to the rest."

"I had that same thought. Once we get the data, I will get Xia and Mila Lynn on it. The system in the science lab is designed to be easily isolated from the shipwide network for exactly such purposes. One of the advantages of this ship having been designed by the Tal Shiar." The colonel smiled. "Say what you want about them, but they are good at what they do."

"Which is why few do say what they want about them; should they wish to avoid execution, or worse." The distaste in Kaiae's voice was plain; and about as far as most Romulans could push the envelope with their opinions on the topic generally.

Raven looked up at her subordinate. "Kaiae," she said, "You can speak your mind freely, here." She hesitated for a moment, and then took her Tal Shiar rank insignia off her collar. "We are not Tal Shiar. We do not serve the Tal Shiar. Or even the Romulan Empire. Our mission is to save the people of Romulus, and across the quadrant. And from what it looks like, the Tal Shiar the ones standing against us in that goal. My father was a Tal Shiar general, and he saw what their priorities were. I read his diaries. All of them. He knew that the Tal Shiar would rather let the Romulan people die than risk giving up control. They know that Eisn is going supernova, yet they actively prevent people from escaping. He tried to change that, and they murdered him."

She shook her head and stared at the insignia in her hand. "This commission was always only a means to an end. And I believe it has done its purpose. The Tal Shiar are our enemies. They are the enemies of the Romulan people."

"That has long been the case." She was, after all Kaiae supposed, already guilty of treason, technically. She might as well get her money's worth for it. "As to not serving the Empire, however...Well. The Senate would disagree I still do such; but they are remiss in the keeping of their own oaths; and mine...they are one, in the end; the Empire, and the people. When our leaders forswore themselves, those of us who followed the Commander here...the best we could now keep our own oaths to the Empire is to save our people; regardless of the condemnation of those above us." Not for the first time since his departure, Kaiae wished Hatham were still aboard at the moment; he had proven a decent interface and translator between the mercenary crew and those she had brought with her; and she suspected her could have explained the dynamics of things better to Raven - who heritage aside, did not share their cultural frame of reference - than she had.

Raven slowly nodded. "The Empire is its people. In many ways, the Romulan Empire reminds me of the Roman Empire on Earth, nearly three millenia ago. It, too, was doomed due to the corruption and blindness of its leaders. And that is where we come in. The Romulan Senate, much like the Roman Senate of its day, would rather see the people it's supposed to serve die than to give up any of its power or admit any mistakes." She shrugged. "The Romulan Star Empire is going to be the cause of its own demise, like many an Empire before it. Your duty, Subcommander, is not to a failing government, it is to the Romulan people."

"Yes." Kaiae agreed, relieved her message had seemingly been understood.

"I am glad we are in agreement," Raven replied as she stood from her desk and turned to the Tal Shiar flag on the wall behind her. With a single pull, she ripped it off the wall and unceremoniously threw it into the replicator on the other side. "We won't be needing that any more." She threw her Colonel's insignia in with it, and hit the recycle button.

"As of this moment, we are no longer privateers for the Romulan Empire, or the Tal Shiar. Or anyone, for that matter. Once we reach Drozana, I will also change the ship's registry and drop the 'IRW' part. We will keep the rank titles for now, for convenience."

"Will that not deprive us of a...valuable piece of cover?"

Raven chuckled. "Cover for what? I'll eat a bowl of Eavy's droppings if the Zhat Vash haven't got contacts in the Empire that have already branded us as traitors. At this point, the Terrans pretending to be Federation Starfleet have better cover than us pretending to be Tal Shiar."

"There doesn't appear to have been an Empire-wide notice of such issued for myself or the crew and officers with me, last I checked. It may be something the Tal Shiar are keeping to themselves."

Raven shrugged. "They are likely just waiting for an opportune moment. How are the evacuation plans for the crew's families progressing?"

"It is...There are a large number of complex moving pieces, as the humans seemed fond of saying during the war. Ideally, we would be able to complete the endeavor with a single trip, as I am highly uncertain of the feasibility of getting in and out twice."

"That is wise," the colonel replied with a nod. "I recommend accelerating the timetable as much as possible. I do not know how long we've got until the Tal Shiar actively move against us, and knowing them, the families of the crew will be on the target list."

“I will pass along the warning.” Kaiae resisted the urge to pinch her nose tightly at yet one more complication.

Raven nodded. "See that you do. The Terrans have offered to help us with the evacuation, but I'd rather not get them involved unless it is absolutely necessary. While it is true that their strange propulsion tech would be helpful, there already too many moving parts in the operation." She looked at her terminal. "Now, unless there was anything else, please report to the bridge tomorrow morning at the usual time for our departure from Cera. That will be all."

In place of the crisp salute she would have given an officer of the Empire, fist to chest; Kaiae gave a sharp nod of the variety she had seen humans do, and turned on her heel to exit.


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