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Time & Space

Posted on Sun Nov 28th, 2021 @ 10:08pm by Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien & Lieutenant Hatham tr'Krotash & Lieutenant T'Ango & Gunnar Arnason & Sublieutenant Renee Hernandez

Mission: Chapter V: The Calm Before The Storm
Location: Kaiae's Quarters, Ourainavassa

As a location she could be as as sure she had secured as one could be about anywhere, Kaiae knew it made perfect sense to hold the meeting in her quarters; but still, some part of her had an irrational fear that somehow, those present would discern from seeing them the juvenile display that had taken place in them a few days prior--she had cleaned it all up, true; but the place was now missing the wall mirror and one of the blankets, was short a cup in the tea set, and the spine on the book was a bit...disjointed. Luckily, only one of the participants had ever even set foot in them previously, so the odds were probably quite low. It might be, actually, the first time ever that a Dosadi had attended a meeting in a Romulan officer's quarters; and probably among only a handful for a human, if not the same.

If the pace of the meetings around the issue at large was accelerating of late, it was in direct proportion to the threat at hand having done likewise, unfortunately.

"So. No one found anything on the new ship to date that we could not neutralize. Between the two ships, we should have enough space for all our targets and a bit of room to spare, in fact, once the rest comes through." Kaiae gave a fractional little nod of her head to both T'Ango and Gunnar, who owned one of said ships, and Renee, who was still their contact for other pieces of their cover.

"I still don't like how distributed that makes things, though; how many stops we'll probably have to make in limited time. Clearing the homeworld alone will take time--" Her eyes flicked towards Hatham for a moment; even with a ship in their arsenal now less likely to be subject to search or held for long in a queue; he hadn't been wrong about that.

For that matter Kaiae wasn't sure it wouldn't actually be wiser to send their new acquisition to make the pickups outside the homeworld; on the other words, the mere association would likely put a level of fear into the planetary governors that would make short work of those runs; and when it came down to it, any flaws in the presence of the ship in an unexpected place or the cover IDs provided for its crew would be far more unlikely to be noted there, versus coming up against the actual Tal'Shiar's headquarters and personnel on or around the homeworld.

"Many of the core worlds under threat are greater distance from each other than any of them are from the epicenter. We still have a problem, potentially." Kaiae sighed. "I do not wish to time our runs so short that we do not leave room for error or misfortune; because we will almost certainly have to contend with some level of the latter even if nothing else."

It was possible, she supposed, that she could ask Renee to have her father start searching for ships again, but really it would do little good even then; because after crewing the one they had at hand, there would be precious little personnel left of a mix to be able to successfully run a third, even if they were able to fully crew the refugee vessel with it's own survivors. And certainly not without crippling the operational capacity of the warbird they were currently sitting within.

More ships... Hatham thought. It meant a need for more crew which was a logistics problem but also security - they were already way beyond the maximum for keeping a secret, and the more people involved the more risk that the Tal'Shiar would learn of their plans.

"We've alerted the network," T'Ango replied, and handed a PaDD to Kaiae. "They'll be stepping up their timelines, but there are several ships on the list that could take an extra person or small family."

Hatham contained a sigh. So much for any hope of secrecy...

"I know there's a danger," Gunnar acknowledged, long practice with Romulans allowing him to read Hatham's otherwise neutral expression. "But your families are not the only ones that need rescuing. We couldn't in good conscience let others lay plans for timelines we knew had no hope of success." He offered Kaiae a conciliatory smile. "And they are grateful for the information, which is why they'll make the space for those on your list that are near their pick up points."

Kaiae looked briskly over the list and the information, making note of locations and numbers and doing the math and correlation in her head with their lists before passing it to Hatham - she, too, could read the carefully concealed message there; and it frustrated her as well...But. But lately she had been getting the feeling that somehow she had found herself now playing for stakes that went far beyond just her kin and those of the crew she had inherited. She would prioritize those, of course; but she found herself considering a wider mission now, as well; the sort Areinnye had originally hoped to achieve.

"Of the ships we have, there is then the matter of which vessel will make which trips." Kaiae continued, and decided to speak aloud what had recently been in her mind. "We could use the Tal'Shiar ship for the run to the homeworld; it would be likely to garner far less delays or risk of searches." She paused, considering her next words. "However, if there is even the smallest flaw in the cover provided for those crewing it, or some tell in the ship itself that we have not caught; it will be far more likely to be noted there than it would be elsewhere."

She had turned the issue over and over in her head most of the entire night prior; but on balance was still left without a clear answer, the risks and benefits of each ship making their riskiest run playing off one another regardless. It was time for a second opinion on things; and her eyes flickered specifically to Hatham, who’d raised the original issue of problems exiting the space around Romulus to begin with, and possibly by now had more detailed information as to the current situation they’d be up against, and T’Ango, who knew what the capabilities of her own ship would be there; in weighing the pair of vessels against one another.

Hatham pursed his lips, considering. "We don't have much time, so as far as our Tal'Shiar ship, I'd be inclined to have it stop at Remus - we have obligations there too. If there's any obvious issue with cover it will be caught there, but if it passes at a stop that close to the Romulus it's less likely to be subjected to so much scrutiny when it stops there." He paused, knowing there was an issue with the plan. "Of course, that means if it passes those it picks up will have to be okay with sharing a transport with Remans."

“I don’t think there’s any way to suss out in advance who will or won’t be. Not without a lot of extended communication and giving away too many details." Not to mention the communication itself, regardless of the level of detail, was a risk all its own. "At this point I’m inclined to take a page from the Federation playbook—anyone who has a problem with it and makes a move to that effect; everyone takes a chemically induced nap.” Kaiae made a note to get the medical and security staff to make the appropriate preparations to enable that. “The ship should be big enough to cover those two lists though, albeit without much room to spare, which would mean—“ She started the ghostly projection of locations she’d used at the other meetings lately, then pinched her fingers in the map, blanking out Eisn and its doomed planets entirely and leaving just the map of the other worlds on the list, branching off in a variety of directions from the center. “—the remaining worlds would be all up to your ship—“ She dipped her head to T’Ango and Arnason. “—or anything else we can find to supplement.”

T'Ango scanned the map, ears drooping slightly as she ran the calculations in her head. Gunnar didn't even attempt to run the numbers; he just blew out a dismayed breath. After a moment they exchanged a look.

"Call in Divash?"

"I hate putting her in spot that might risk her commission, but I don't see any other way."

The pair turned from a semi-private deliberation held in public to filling in the others, or at least the two Romulans. "We have a ...close friend... in Starfleet," T'Ango explained. "She's been assisting as much as she can 'under the radar' but getting the resources for this will take more than that."

"Her father has a merchant ship - Orion though so he can only pick up whomever we deliver to the far edge of the Neutral Zone. We'll need at least two other ships, and for that..." Gunnar frowned to himself - all that time arguing against it and he was going to have to ask her to do it. He would never hear the end of that. "...some outright theft may be required. She's had a plan for it for nearly a year, so it's not likely to fail for our immediate objectives, but disappearing ships from Starfleet impound, especially Romulan ships, is going to trigger a major investigation."

“My mother does have a fair bit of money set aside by this point; from her…” Kaiae flushed a fairly deep olive; Hatham knew this piece already but admitting it to even more people was…Well. An admission of an entirely different instance of ‘outright theft’. “….Let’s just say there are ways for a banker to come up with it. She’d been hoping to help us purchase a ship for these efforts.” Now it was Kaiae’s lips that pursed a bit. “But she hasn’t had any luck finding anything, last I heard. If you think your friend could put it to better use, I can arrange a transfer….”

"Arranging third parties to pay fines and get ships released..." Gunnar shook his head. "We don't have the time. Not find reliable middle and certainly not to dot i's and cross t's for Starfleet bureaucracy."

"Besides, if Divash is going to bribe people, it won't be with anything as traceable as money," T'Ango chuckled, glancing at Gunnar with teasing grin.

"Also true," he agreed, ducking his head, cheeks flushing slightly.

Renee smiled and nodded, "Divash could definitely pull that off...." She then turned to Kaiae, "The cover identities are being worked and we almost have enough. My father also sends his best regards and that he wishes us luck. And he wanted me to pass along some of his thoughts. There are likely others than may be trying to save their families. Why not have some of our assets hide in plain sight? Picking up random people on the outskirts doesn't seem too far fetched. It might be decent enough over to draw attention away from our more intricate plans."

"We're effectively already doing that in a sense, with two keep referencing." She inclined her head for a moment again to T'Ango and Arnason. "Beyond that we just won't have the ships. I'll be impressed if your friend has the compatriots to crew the two vessels we'll need; I doubt a whole flotilla is in the cards." Kaiae shrugged her eyebrows. "Though. I'll point out we do, if it's had no luck buying ships within our space--" She dipped her head at Hatham "--and appears to be unlikely to use bribing them free from impound in yours--" And next at Arnason, T'Ango, and Renee "--still have a decent stash of money by now."

She looked again at T'Ango, who appeared to have a first hand grasp of the situation in RSE space beyond the homeworld at any rate. "I'd ask if you'd think it would be useful to anyone trying to buy passage, but they'd still need travel papers." Though, as the situation became more desperate, Kaiae suspected there would be more people willing to risk their fate and their lives on buying and using a set of fakes, rather than be doomed regardless.

"Hrrmm," T'Ango pondered considering the question. "It could be useful for buying internal passage, especially from outer worlds to worlds farther out. Round trip ticket to one of border colonies far enough outside the supernova's projected reach might get less scrutiny, and if the return tickets are never used..." she shrugged, "...I doubt afterwards anyone will have resources to look at those too carefully."

Hatham nodded. "And those people would at least have safe harbor. People will come together and provide a place for fellow Romulans marooned by disaster."

"I'll have her set aside some of the distribute for that, then." That is, they're likely to provide a place for those marooned by disaster who were not publicly and widely charged with treason in advance of events, Kaiae though somewhat bitterly. That, in the end, was the highest of the prices she would pay for these efforts; and among the highest prices one might pay, period, save apprehension by the Tal'Shiar or execution for the charges: However things ended, she would no longer ever again be safe or welcome in whatever remained afterwards.

"That raises another possibility for using those funds - securing a place for the rest to go," Gunnar suggested. "There are new colonial expeditions as well as recently colonized worlds that need new settlers, and a common denominator for places in most is resources - either skills or funds, and preferably both. The trick would be arranging buy in without necessarily making it plain that the interested parties are Romulans..."

T'Ango tipped an ear toward him. "Divash?"

"She, or her mother," Gunnar frowned slightly at the thought of having to go hat-in-hand, or more likely considerably more undressed, to ask Leata, but needs must... "They'd know how to arrange it."

"If we don't make that information available in advance, though; how can we be even decently confident the worlds in question will be willing?" Kaiae frowned. Avoiding a blatant trail the Tal'Shiar could be alerted by was key, but so was not wasting time and money arranging placements that would be revoked by those running them, once the nature of their new residents was revealed. "Hopefully your friend has a solution to that. If she does, I believe my mother has been keeping most of the money in a few accounts at the Bank of Ferenginar." She grimaced. "Lousy exchange rates and ridiculous fees, but galactically accepted currency and after the risk of the initial transfers out, safer to access later without drawing as much notice."

"As I understand it, the solution is to buy a claim in the name of an organization - it's fairly common for ethnic, religious or even trade groups - anyone sharing some common background or interest," Gunnar explained. "Contracts are made with the organization as are all legally binding agreements, so individual colonists don't have to be named. In fact, the umbrella group rarely has a full roster when they make those arrangements. As long as they can truthfully affirm that none of their settlers is wanted for any felony in the Federation, no one can really question who they bring in."

"If that doesn't meet the timeframe," T'Ango said, already anticipating a bureaucratic hitch. "There's always using the money to buy real estate outside the Federation. Ferenginar isn't a very hospitable environment for vulcanoids, but they have a controlling interest on some other developing worlds and they generally don't care who settles there as long as they have latinum."

"Since only a handful of us at most will have ever so much as set foot in Federation territory before this, I can most certainly guarantee no one is wanted for a Federation felony." Kaiae remarked wryly. "Just ones on this side of the border, of late. As for Ferengi colony worlds...let's consider those last resort. I'm assuming their tastes tend to every dank swamp in a hundred lightyears, and the last thing anyone needs at that point is persistent pneumonia. Still. Worth looking into at least I suppose, see if there's anywhere on their books not a hopeless bog."

Renee nodded, "Last resort or not that's still more plausible than maybe a sudden influx of vulcanoids on Vulcan or something..."

Now, Kaiae's eyebrow climbed if anything even higher. "Certain small groups nonwithstanding, no one is ready for that." She said succinctly, though her next words had mirth in them. "That is, unless the current owners of the planet are ready to end their ridiculous two thousand year experiment and come to their senses."

Hatham chuckled - that was plainer than he might have put it to outsiders, but accurate. "Honestly, Ferenginar might be easier to take. At least Ferengi aren't so self-righteous."

Gunnar just shook his head. "On earth we have saying: 'any port in a storm'. Right now, any safe harbor however difficult or temporary, is better than dying in the coming storm."

One of Kaiae's perfectly groomed eyebrows climbed upwards again mere moments after dropping; that was a surprisingly practical saying she might not have expected of humans.

"Not all of the Ferengi holdings are swampy," T'Ango put in. "There are a couple that are basically planetary versions of earth's Las Vegas - hectares of casinos and shopping built on otherwise worthless desert. Not ideal for settling down, but livable until something else can be arranged, and land far enough outside the business district should be fairly cheap."

"Alright; look into it. And one of you--" Kaiae indicated Gunnar and T'Ango "--provide your documents and proof of ID to the Bank of Ferenginar--" Here, Kaiae's voice turned into a sarcastic muttering for a moment "--assuming we can trust them not to use it to launch a massive identity theft fraud scheme that is--so that I can get you added to the account the money is in as an authorized user in case we have to move quickly on anything." She sighed and looked around the room. "Anyone have anything else?"

"No, and not a problem on documents. We have credentials on file with them," Gunnar admitted, a touch sheepishly. "Smuggling people isn't profitable, at least if you're doing it to help them, so we needed a channel to receive funds."

"Ferengi banks may charge usurious fees, but they're great for money laundering," T'Ango explained with a particularly feline smile. "And Divash's pet Ferengi who was only too happy to help."

Ferengi and Orions operating in sync drew up nothing so much for Kaiae as an impression of getting robbed down to one's boots, but she was, in another sign the universe had completely lost it, put slightly more at ease than otherwise with it by the nature of the person relaying it: Dosadi might kill you, or fight you for territory, for honor, for pride, for tradition or for one cause or another they felt worthy. As a general rule they were very unlikely indeed to rob you, however, or consort with those they expected to.


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