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Cat's Got Your Tongue?

Posted on Thu Apr 7th, 2022 @ 12:48am by Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien & Lieutenant Hatham tr'Krotash & Lieutenant T'Ango & Gunnar Arnason

Mission: Chapter V: The Calm Before The Storm
Location: Ourainavassa, Conference Room
Timeline: Day Before Could This Meeting Have Been An E-Mail?

She seemed to be late to at least half the meetings she had to attend lately; which was a bad look in a commander; but possibly unavoidable given the overbooked nature of her schedule lately. By the time Kaiae entered the conference room, the human and the Dosadi were already there, heads down conferring quietly over some item on a PADD on the table; as was Hatham, a few chairs down the table with one of his own, undoubtedly working on some other piece of logistics.

Maybe it was that continued deterioration of her controlled image, even in just the local realm, that made her bold, sitting across from Arnason and T'Ango and setting down her PADD and her tea tumbler, studying them quietly for a moment before finally asking the question she had been biting her tongue hard against, lest she upset the balance of things.

"....Why?" Kaiae asked, a soft but perplexed, curious tone, considering all the things now set in motion; up to and including plans or actions to betray the orders and subvert the resources of not just the Empire but the Federation. Hatham desired to save his kin; she desired to save their people, and now also, to carry out the last orders and mission of a fallen mentor, patron, and commander. The human and the Dosadi and those they referenced in their plans were moved by neither of those concerns; and yet near as she had been able to discern were also not moved by promise of payment or the like; and she was at a loss as to what drove them to be willing to risk execution at the hands of her government; not to mention prison at the hands of their own.

Arnason and T'Ango looked up almost as one, the human's brows rising in polite inquiry and the Dosadi's ears rising and orienting on Kaiae. She sounded perplexed, almost distressed. Though distress could easily be attributed to any number of things that seemed to be happening all at once now, there was something almost like suspicion in her tone, at least to Gunnar's fairly well trained ear for Romulan inflection.

After a beat with no follow on provided in response to their inquiring looks, he decided to voice a prompt. "Why what?"

"This." Kaiae waved a hand at the PADDs and plans around them. "Why risk prison, or a quite unpleasant death? Why move against my government, and your own; for the sake of the people of an adversary; and those your own leaders deigned to forsake? That is a high price to be courting, for those you have never met and those you have no responsibility towards."

Ah. It was a question Gunnar had actually expected at the start, but upon not getting it had assumed Renee had told the Romulans aboard something that sufficiently answered it well before they arrived. He began to open a different screen on the PaDD to answer, but Tango jumped in first.

"My government gave me leave for this. Aiding a fallen opponent is the honorable thing to do and the bards will someday immortalize it in song," she exclaimed, and looking over at Gunnar, cheeks already reddening at the idea of being cast as some hero in Dosadi ballad, draped her tail over his shoulder. "This one though, he just can't help it - he's naturally valiant; a man of high honor!" She pulled lips back in an almost Cheshire cat grin. "Even if he blushes every time I say it."

"Yes, there's a reason for that..." Gunnar muttered, burying his face in hand, then wiping it down to where it only covered his cheeks. Looking up at Kaiae with a silent plea not bring up anything that might lead to further discussion of heroism or honor, he pushed the PaDD toward her. "Righting the wrongs of our government has motivated a lot of the smuggling network, but in my case there are significantly more personal reasons. The family you see there all but adopted me at a time when I truly needed the sanctuary of their home."

One of Kaiae's eyebrows went up, for several reasons at once really: The family portrait in question featured a collection of children who had to be no more than a few years apart at most; bare minimum biological spacing. She would have considered it a collection of cousins perhaps instead, but there weren't that many of their kind in Federation space, and that was a Federation uniform on one of the three adults in the image.

"And they wish that you save their kin who are trapped in this threat? Or that you wish to do so in reciprocity?" Kaiae's eyes were still fixed on the image; in a sense it was a eerie glimpse of the future for her as much as of the present, and she studied it intently trying to glean whatever she could of it, of who her people were, really, when they were reduced to living in anothers' space and territory.

He could have simply nodded. Gunnar knew well enough that Romulans tended to be far more comfortable accepting help if it was the helper repaying some sort of debt. But however much clever misdirection might be valued in Romulan society, he would not be less than honest about something that touched Kaiae and every Romulan here so deeply. "Saving their kin is not in my power, nor have they asked it. I do feel a debt and would do what I can to save those like them, and I want you to know that it isn't charity. However, it isn't my only motive. There's also a moral imperative: as a medic, my purpose is to save lives and I cannot turn away when there are lives I can save," he stated simply but earnestly. "So I do have a responsibility towards you, and as you can see from these pictures," he smiled a little, scrolling to one of Raikael riding on his shoulders, "I do not view you as enemies or adversaries."

"More like distant cousins," Tango chuckled. "Those girls call him uncle half the time. Of course, the little one calls me 'kitty'." Her smile as she glanced at the picture showed that the title warmed her heart. She would always view Romulans as worthy adversaries, but they had long ago left the category of enemy.

Kaiae considered that all, rolling it around in her head, both actively analyzing but also letting pieces float themselves and fall where they may, and what the latter led to keep floating to the top was the incongruous part, one eyebrow rising again. "...You are willing and able to attempt to save the lives of strangers; yet saving their kin is out of your ability or power? Where are these kin, then, that such a place should be known to be unreachable to you - in the heart of a Tal'Shiar prison?" Admittedly, if that was the case, there was in fact basically no chance. Or perhaps someone who long ago went missing, as Areinnye had; and could not be tracked.

"It's hard to save those who refuse to be saved," Gunnar replied heavily, as though not attempting it despite that refusal, or strongly assumed refusal, weighed on him yet. "They come from a noble house, but all contact was severed and every attempt since the danger came to light has been refused."

"They may have their own plans," T'Ango said, putting a tender hand on his shoulder. It was hard for both of them to accept, but she had learned a harsh lesson about daring rescue raids some years ago. Still, they had to keep reminding each other of the 'good of the many' argument - the important thing was maximizing the number of lives they could save. "Or they may yet come around in time."

If anything, this drove the raised eyebrow a bit higher. Technically, some of what the human had said was also true about herself; but she got the feeling the careful way he seemed to dance around the issue that the 'comes from a noble house' he referenced here meant one of far more pure blood and stature than herself, or even Areinnye; people who sat at the heart of a great house; not tangential branches of a minor one. People she had been rapidly realizing of late she perhaps had less in common with than she did with Hatham; both in her need and difficulty in saving her own family, and in the perverse fact that it seemed she was better at the moment at trying to keep the oaths and honor that had been drilled into her as a child than those far more vaunted and expected to exemplify, but now proving themselves uninterested in doing so.

"That is a short list." Kaiae remarked; and it was; there were no more than a handful of senators who had spoken out on these issues as best they could; or done their best to facilitate or at least grant permission for those residing in their districts to relocate. Most of them had been severely countered in those actions and attempts by the Tal'Shiar, from what she had heard in the past from Areinnye, especially if that district was on the homeworld. More minor officials who had attempted similar mostly tended to have met mysterious bad ends, or vanished entirely. She raised her cup of tea in an erstwhile toast of sorts. "Of those with the courage and honor to choose for themselves the fate the Senate's inaction will force upon our people."

Still; she suspected the Dosadi had it correct; no head of house worth the title would be planning the demise of all their kin, even to make such a grave atonement. Pieces would be moving, unseen or unannounced; perhaps all the more carefully or silently by necessity, for those few who had dared speak out and found themselves a target of all those who preferred they not.

"Then I lift a glass to you," T'Ango said, raising her mug of warm milk in the same manner as Kaiae had raised her tea. "For you are among those who have chosen for themselves the harder and more dangerous path of defying the Senate's choice of inaction and trying to counter it."

Kaiae's mind went unbidden to the charge sheet and the wanted list published with the names of herself and most of those who followed her. 'Dangerous' was putting it mildly; but Dosadi probably grasped more of the true breath of the issue better than humans, if she had to guess. "And where are we on that path, then?" She took the easy segway provided. "Have you heard from your...friend...with the ability to access the other ship we would need?"

Gunnar nodded. "That ...acquisition... is underway." And gods or fates or whatever oversaw such things willing, one Starfleet impound yard would show a transfer to another yard for tear down and no one would bother to follow up beyond that. "There are a few more strings to be pulled, particularly to place minimum necessary crew, but if all goes as planned the ship should arrive within the next few weeks."

"Good." Kaiae tapped her finger and the ghostly projection of their targeted worlds was back, hovering above the table, this time sectioned off by color, split into three based on where she had aligned each of their three available or expected-available ships to cover. "We will likely need to move almost immediately after their arrival, then; to have the necessary time."

Studying the map, T'Ango's tail twitched slowly, her head tipping slightly to one side. "We could make a few early runs..." her eyes shifted to Gunnar, "...here, or here. Small pick ups now to save time later?"

He pursed his lips, considering - not only the risk/benefit for the overall goal, but the likely reaction of the Romulan present to the potential risk. "Doable... if we're careful." He looked up at Kaiae. "How securely can get word to either of those groups?"

Kaiae considered the worlds T'Ango had indicated, the available methods or couriers, the intended number and particulars of the pickups for them, and the nature of their planetary governors and defensive arrangements. "...It is possible. Probably. Perhaps most easily done by taking one of my people with you, to quietly gather the intended subjects while you orbit the planet. Bring a small bit of cargo as cover to sell or such while they do so. None of the intended passengers from either of those worlds are likely to be quickly noted as missing, and there is a history of...independent commerce...occasionally, inasmuch as there ever is on any of the core worlds. It still could not be done too far in advance, however; the longer the time gap, the greater the odds someone will note the absences." She paused, lips pursing in a distasteful expression. "Though most such disappearances will be assumed by most to be the work of the Tal'Shiar, even if they are so noted."

Another look of mutual understanding passed between the human and Dosadi. "They're your people. You know the situation for each far better than we could," T'Ango replied. "So, you give us targets and timing and we'll do our best to acquire them."

 

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