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Could This Meeting Have Been An E-Mail?

Posted on Mon Mar 21st, 2022 @ 2:45pm by Freya Mannerheim & Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien & Major Ashley Rogers & Lieutenant Hatham tr'Krotash

Mission: Chapter V: The Calm Before The Storm
Location: Ourainavassa, Conference Room

For all that going after Raven would, to Kaiae's view, be an impossibility unless the Terrans had someone for it; given the need to devote all possible resources to the urgent extraction of their kin from the projected disaster area; Kaiae knew she had to at least pass on the information Mila had given her. To Rogers, as the interim head of the part of the crew that had previously looked to Raven; and to Mannerheim as the only person who potentially might have available resources. She'd added Hatham to the invite list for the meeting mostly because he generally had ended up serving as a bridge of sorts between the Romulans and the mercenaries, as a theoretical member of both groups...And because she knew that if 'push came to shove' as she'd heard humans say, he would stand with her position that nothing could take precedence over the efforts to save their families.

Kaiae took a measured sip of tea and set the cup down on the conference room table, waiting until it seemed the rest had finished reviewing the various information she had compiled for them all on the PADDs she'd provided, and glanced around at the others around the table. "Our resources are fully committed." Overcommitted even, really; but that didn't bear mentioning. "We don't have anyone to spare to address this, unless you do." Kaiae said bluntly, looking at Mannerheim.

Freya looked up at the young Subcommander. The call had been surprising to say the least, but now that she saw the data on the PADD, she realised why it had to be done in person. "If she is headed into the Republic," she said, slowly weighing her words. "Then she is well outwith our reach. And we wouldn't be able to intercept her on crossover, as we don't know when and where she would drop out of warp. We tried tapping into the craft's tracking, but it's not broadcasting. Either your techs disabled it, or it's not working for some other reason. The overload could have fried it, too." She sighed. "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news."

Kaiae nodded both solemnly and succinctly, glancing at Rogers and Hatham for their reactions. If as it seemed there was nothing to be done here, then there was nothing to be done; and the stakes involved here were too high to spend much time focused on the fate of those they could not save.

Ash sighed, "Dammit Raven, this is such an inconvenient time to just run off.... but, she knew that. We have other priorities."

Hatham's brows moved up and down in a Romulan shrug. What was there to say? In other circumstances someone might try to infiltrate this mirror Romulan space, but right now the priority was saving their families. Raven had been important to that effort, but not indispensable, which meant that right now she was in fact dispensable. "I suppose we have to hope she can, as the humans say, 'pull a rabbit out of her hat' and find a way back."

The Terran Captain slowly nodded. "I am afraid, there is little to add to the Lieutenant's-" A chime from her tricom badge interrupted her. Rolling her eyes, she tapped the badge. "Mannerheim. I told you, I'm in an urgent briefing. Can this wait?"

"I'm afraid not, Captain,", the voice of the Amelia's chief science officer came through the comm. "You asked us to keep an eye out for possible temporal incursions popping up back home. We got one just now. Sending it through to your badge.

Freya simply cut the channel, and activated the holographic PADD integrated into her badge and opened the file she had just received. It was the transcript of a Captain's Log of the I.S.S. Poseidon, under one Captain Gregory Paladin. The moment she read the name, an involuntary shudder went though her spine.

"Let's see. Unknown vessel, broadcasting distress signal with Imperial Starfleet identification code, vessel not on Fleet roster, piloted by an unknown individual of mixed blood. Vessel acquired, pilot detained, and questioned." She cursed. "The log goes on to describe the pilot and the vessel, but you probably know what they look like already. The stardate on the log matches the date she disappeared." Mannerheim looked up at the assembled officers. "She's not in the Republic. It's far worse than that."

"Which, again, whatever it is; we can do nothing about." Kaiae's level tone had just a hint of perplexed to it that the Terran captain might somehow think this changed anything. If you fell into the hands of a powerful enough enemy or during a time when all other resources were committed to a dire cause, it was simply to be taken for granted that no one was coming for you. You were to make the assessment as to whether you felt you could resist the party in question and attempt to escape later; and make your next decisions and actions from there. As a general rule, the Federation tended to get held up as an example of the sort of galactic power you might decide to wait out; to choose to live and use the opportunity to observe as best you could from the inside, in the hopes that you might later find the means to escape or pass the information on. The Breen tended to get pointed at, in contrast, as an example of the sort that you had best make a quick end to things lest you risk them breaking you and learning what you knew. She would have expected the Terrans to follow a similar philosophy, honestly.

The Captain couldn't help but chuckle. "Subcommander Kaiae, you seem to forget one very important thing. We know the date of the log. We can easily find out the location. That is all we need to find her before Paladin does. At this point, potential paradoxes be damned. The Colonel's appearance in the timeline of our universe is classed as an incursion. We can fix this with no damage done to the timeline. As long as Captain Paladin doesn't notice us." It was clear to see that she was holding back rage at the mention of the name. "We need to be careful, and we only have one shot at this. But it is possible to extract her before she is ever detected by the Poseidon."

"If you have the resources for it, then do it." Kaiae shrugged her eyebrows; timetravel was a huge headache whenever she parsed it. "We cannot."

Hatham simply inclined his head in agreement with his CO. "It would be preferable if we had some way to know if anything went wrong with the rescue." Obviously they had back up plans in case the Terrans proved untrustworthy, but they were costly. If they became necessary, the earlier they were activated the better.

Mannerheim slowly nodded. "Lieutenant, you make a good point, as you usually do. Luckily, time is on our side now. We will treat this like any other temporal incursion. As part of the Empire's Temporal Defense Force, we know how to handle those. Of course, we can't do this alone." She looked at Rogers, Kaiae and Hatham, one after the other. "Any assistance you are able to provide will be much appreciated, after all, we ae talking about your commanding officer here." She turned to Rogers. "Major, out of all the people in this room, you know the Colonel the best. Any idea what may have driven her to do this? Disappear like this?"

Kaiae didn't bother to point out the error in Mannerheim's statement: The rest of the table nonwithstanding, Raven was not her commanding officer...though her commander was likewise missing, and almost certainly dead, and she likewise could do nothing for her, but to do her best to enact even some pale imitation of the cause she had fallen in service to.

"I'm not going to air her dirty laundry out to the crew, but it'll have to be personal for her to do this. She's chasing ghosts," Ash said. "And I'm not sure any of us can reason with her until she sees this through."

"If that's the case, so be it," Hatham remarked. "Or as you humans say, 'It is what it is'. I certainly have no intention of attempting to reason with her on coming back since she has, by her own choice here, made herself extraneous to our primary mission. If you can use your time ship to save her, Captain," he said looking at Mannerheim, "then I wish you success, but I don't see how you could need our help for a time slip snatch and grab, or honestly any way we could aide you there even if we were inclined to put her retrieval ahead of rescuing our families."

Mannerheim simply nodded. "The Colonel's wish, as expressed in her cryptic note when she left, was that command of this ship was to be passed to myself, for some reason. As you well know, I have chosen to ignore that, instead doing everything I can to assist the Subcommander and the Major in that task. Ultimately, the question whether to retrieve the Colonel at all is one for you to make. We surely have the capacity to do so, now that we know when and where we would find her. However, we incur a risk of causing an even deeper incursion, should our presence be detected. I have personal history with the commanding officer of the Poseidon, whom, from his point of view, I would first meet in a few months' time. So there is a lot of potential for paradoxes here."

She sighed. "If we decide to go and retrieve the Colonel, from this timeline's point of view, we would be gone mere moments. I believe bringing a face more familiar to her with us would greatly aid our chances in getting her to see reason, rather than having to take her by force. Which, of course, we could easily do, but it would ultimately help nobody. The choice is yours on how we proceed. One of you, or even several of you, can accompany us on Amelia to find and bring back the Colonel, or we can bring her back potentially against her will. Or, of course, we can leave her to her probably rather unpleasant fate."

Ash nodded as she thought about what was said.
She looked at Hatham and Kaiae, "It'll have to be me. I know your priorities are to the rescue mission, so I can't ask you to delay that, even if it's for mere moments. But I sure could use the help. I won't abandon Raven any more than I'd abandon any of you."

She had no problem abandoning us. Or effectively spitting in the face of every Romulan aboard by leaving command to a Terran, Hatham thought, though (with some effort) did not voice it. "The only help I could offer would be to cold-cock her and throw her over a shoulder, but I expect you're more than capable of that yourself," he replied flatly. Frankly if Raven returned, once they got past the evacuation he was likely to take a page from the Dosadi and demand a match in a challenge ring to make her answer for all the times her impulsive behavior had thrown a wrench into their plans to save their families. Ash might still be able to speak of loyalty, but Hatham had learned the hard way that loyalty was a sham, a con in fact, if it didn't run both ways. He did feel a measure of loyalty toward Ash however; just not enough to risk disappearing when his family needed him most. "I doubt I'm a familiar face that would make Raven more inclined to return in any case. Try the Doctor, or maybe get your Arnason to grow a beard and learn to smile a little less like an eelsnake so he can impersonate the one she knows."

Mannerheim slowly nodded. "Thank you, Major." She turned to Hatham. "Lieutenant, I think we are all in agreement that you should speak freely. You may not have said it out loud, but I certainly know what you are thinking. I may be Terran, but I have served with the Federation longer than with the Empire, and I have met enough Romulans in my time to be able to somewhat understand them. And I have been a Terran Captain long enough to know how to recognise someone who feels betrayed by someone they once trusted."

She shook her head. "I understand how you feel about the Colonel's decision to suddenly disappear. You and your crew trusted her to care for your objectives, to focus on the mission to save as many of your families as possible. And by leaving in the way she did, to chase a ghost, as the Major put it, she betrayed that trust. Now, I don't know how taking command works on a Romulan ship, but I do know how it is done the Terran way. By relieving the commanding officer. Permanently."

With a solemn nod, she drew the ceremonial dagger from her belt - she had left her katana on her own ship. Then, she reached to the console in front of her, and entered a command. The projector in the middle of the table came to life, displaying an image of the Colonel.

"Since she isn't here in person, this will have to do. And bear with me, this will be a bit wordy. But it has to be done properly." She took a deep breath and stood, facing the hologram. "By the authority vested in me by the Sovereign Terran Empire and the United Federation of Planets, I hereby commandeer this vessel, the Independent Romulan Warbird Ourainavassa, into the service of the Imperial Terran Starfleet. Furthermore, I relieve Colonel Sehan t'Varis, known as "Raven", of all rank and privilege for abandoning her duties as commanding officer. As her replacement, I name the Second Officer of the Ourainavassa, Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien, as acting Captain, under the Romulan rank of Subcommander, equivalent in authority to the rank of Commander in the Imperial Starfleet."

She turned to Rogers. "Lastly, I hereby order this ship's First Officer, who will continue at that rank, to locate and retrieve the former Colonel, in order to face disciplinary measures as dictated by the codes and laws of her vessel."

She exhaled, and sat down again, deactivating the hologram. "This has gone on far too long. Both our ships have a mission. To evacuate civilians from Romulus, and to investigate and if possible stop whatever is happening at Hobus. Raven has brought both of those goals into severe jeopardy through her thoughtlessness and recklessness. Raven wanted me to take operational oversight, for whatever reason, so I will be doing just that. Subcommander Kaiae, you and your crew are to make sure that the evacuation plans are prepared for and executed as swiftly as possible. Your former commanding officer made a promise to you. The promise that she would help you save your families. She may have broken that promise, but I intend to right that wrong."

Kaiae was drawing on all of her two decades of experience as a Galae comms officer to keep a straight, unreadable face and expression; disquieted by the entire knot of things; from the part where Raven had decided to vanish and had left command of the ship to the Terrans; the part where the Terrans apparently felt they could give her orders or rank positive or negative alike, all at the table (except, she suspected, Hatham) somehow forgetting Raven had not been her own commander to begin with; to all the pre-existing pieces concerning her own commanders' vanishing and likely fate; the responsibilities it thrust her into; the threat facing their families and their people; and the decisions Raven had made prior to leaving that led to Freya's use of the phrase 'independent warbird' and had deprived them of and burnt a valuable piece of cover.

The best Kaiae could do at the moment was make sure she didn't potentially burn another such piece by letting the Terrans know she didn't feel beholden to their ranks or ceremonies. The orders being issued dovetailed at the moment with the ones she had been planning to lend her focus to anyways; there was no reason to point it all out.

Hatham's thoughts were very much in line with Kaiae's and though she masked them perfectly, he knew her well enough to guess what was going through her mind with a high degree of confidence. His own mask was also firmly in place, though there might have been minor slip of eyebrows on hearing 'By the authority vested in me by the Sovereign Terran Empire and the United Federation of Planets, I hereby commandeer this vessel...' The presumption that the Terran Empire or Federation had or could grant such authority was completely absurd, and the idea that any Romulan would accept such an assertion was downright insulting. However, no matter how much he might like to show her the error of her assumptions, there were more important matters. So long as Freya's delusions aided in their ultimate goal, he would not disabuse her of them, another thought in which he felt certain Kaiae was in accord even if she was unsure how to proceed after that display. He however had worked with non-Romulans longer, so took it upon himself to reply. "We appreciate your support in the matter, Captain," he replied simply, neither acknowledging her claim nor refuting it.

Ash took a calming breath, she could practically feel the Romulan reaction to the Ourainavassa being commandeered as a Terran vessel. She had other things to be concerned with, namely getting Raven back and... "What about the Commander?" she asked. "Will the other me still be working closely with our crew?" She glanced over at Kaiae and Hatham, feeling guilty she was not just going to abandon the mission that they have united for to go search for their renegade former commanding officer but also leaving her Terran counterpart with them.

The Captain nodded. "Yes. Commander Rogers is to remain on Ourainavassa as my representative. Unless anyone here takes issue with that? After all, there is another former member of my crew on board that can just as easily be given back their rank. Now, I know all of you will be uneasy at the words I just spoke, but, really, not much has changed. Apart from the fact that the Colonel is no longer in charge. I will retain command code access to the vessel until such a time as both our missions are completed, but apart from that, you remain as independent as before."

Kaiaes' eyes ever so briefly flicked past Hathams' for a moment, avoiding the longer lock that might be noticed by any others: The 'alternate' Rogers was a snake in the fold, but she was, in the end, a known untrustworthy quantity; like an overt Tal'Shiar political officer aboard a warbird embedded in the command structure. Someone you knew would stab you in the back; and with that knowledge, could do your best to counter or work around, and make sure everyone was ready to dispose of if need be or counter a strike from. If anything it might be a bit easier - if you found yourself needing to make a stand against a warbirds' political officer, you had best hope all the officers and crew with you at the time held fast and stuck together even against dire threats made to themselves and their kin, and that all still stuck to whatever cover story you concocted for the affair later under interrogation. Here, if the Terran Rogers moved against them, Kaiae fully intended to be open about the fact that she had been shanked in return for it.

She looked around the table. "I will reiterate, I have no interest in taking your ship from you." She gestured to the window, where the Amelia could be seen slowly orbiting Drozana. "After all, I have my own. What I have just done, however, is given you something you didn't have before, thanks to the Colonel's recklessness, and that is clarity in the chain of command. The Subcommander holds full authority as the commanding officer of this ship, and anyone who has any problem with that can take it up with me." She smirked. "Provided they can get through Lieutenant Hatham first, that is."

Hatham inclined his head a precise degree in response, attitude and expression conveying what humans would express as 'damn straight they will'. What was not clear in his expression was that that very much included Mannerheim and Rogers.

The Captain simply nodded. "Right, we are all clear then. Major Rogers, please come see me in my ready room on Amelia at your earliest convenience. I will instruct my security staff to allow incoming transports from Ourainavassa. Subcommander Kaiae, I would kindly like to ask you to also come over some time, we have a lot to talk about." With a final nod at the assembled officers, she simply double-tapped her badge and transported out.

 

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