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Into The Lion's Den

Posted on Thu Apr 7th, 2022 @ 6:53pm by Freya Mannerheim & Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien

Mission: Chapter V: The Calm Before The Storm
Location: Captain's Ready Room, I.S.S. Amelia
Timeline: 238703.12

Kaiae generally went in fairly simply, when it came to everyday carry of weapons and the like: Her blade; her Galae-issue disruptor; a couple more knives; joined by anti-eavesdropping and scan-diffusing countermeasures, a couple of felodisine pills, and the scanner setup she'd used at the Black Pearl.

At the moment, though, she'd upped her arsenal significantly, adding even more sharp objects of various sizes and styles hidden at various points, including a collapsible sword, reduced to just the hilt for now; and not just one but two smaller backup disruptors, also concealed. Finally she tossed in an electronic lock-picking device, some antidotes to common poisons, and a rebreather mask. Almost all of it was concealed; but a sharp eye was going to spot the pouch for some of larger items at her belt, she supposed; no way to help that. Still. It would have foolish to board the Terran ship without decent backup of some kind; and this was the only sort she felt she could employ; as it would have been even more foolish to put more of her people at risk; especially her likely first choice for such a task, Hatham: If she died here; he had to live. One of them had to; to carry out their plans.

Her first thoughts upon materializing in the Amelia's transporter room, however, were plain and simple annoyance: Freya had transported in and out of their command complex several times now (though Kaiae hoped she had gotten the 'hint' that this was considered exceedingly unacceptable behavior likely to get an intruder shot on sight); it seemed only...'fair' as the humans put it...to do the same to the Terrans in return; but apparently the more advanced timeship (yes, she'd definitely be going to Gable for something for a headache later; even considering time travel as a concept lent itself to developing one) had rerouted her here regardless of where she had originally targeted her transport.

The transporter operator had, of course, been told to expect an incoming visitor from Ourainavassa, and thus the Terran was ready to welcome the Subcommander on board. The Captain had also told her crew that the officers of the Romulan vessel were to be treated with the same courtesy as any Imperial officer. Accordingly, when the Subcommander materialised, the Ensign at the console immediately stood to attention and saluted.

"Subcommander Kaiae," he said stiffly, completely butchering the pronunciation of the name. "Welcome aboard I.S.S. Amelia." His uniform matched that of Freya's, of course, except that it was trimmed in Operations gold rather than command red. On his belt, he carried the usual dagger, as well as a phaser pistol that immediately appeared more advanced than anything one would find on Ourainavassa. "The Captain is expecting you," the Ensign continued. "When you leave the transporter room, follow the hallway to your left to the turbolift, and head to deck 1 for the bridge, she will meet you there."

Kaiae gave a sharp if minimal dip of her head in acknowledgement, his rather misguided pronunciation an amusement for a moment that took her back to the war against the Dominion, and the many Federation officers who had similarly butchered the names of herself, her commanders, or various warbirds in joint battle fleets like the one over Cardassia. She was rather less amused by the trip down the foreign ships' corridor to the lift, and made sure to keep awareness of anyone who might try to come from behind at her. A quick scan of the lift seemed untampered with, but there was in the end only one way to know; and she got in, making sure to press herself reasonably close to one side once it neared its destination, just in case there was anyone with a mind to simply shoot the occupant the moment the doors opened.

After a few moments, the lift opened up to reveal the bridge. Despite the Amelia having come from the future, the bridge looked pretty similar to the ones found on current Federation ships - with the exception of the large Terran insignia mounted on the wall behind the Captain's chair, of course, and the lighting being somewhat dimmer, to accommodate the Terran's increased sensitivity to light. As Kaiae arrived, said chair swivelled around, revealing that Captain Mannerheim was at her duty station. In fact, the entire bridge crew appeared to be at their stations.

"Ah, Subcommander," Freya greeted Kaiae with a friendly nod. "Welcome on board." She turned to the officer at tactical. "I'll be in my ready room with the Subcommander. We are not to be disturbed unless the continued existence of this ship depends on it, got it?"

After the tactical officer acknowledged the order, Freya led the Subcommander to the door to her ready room, located opposite the turbolift. The ready room on Amelia was quite a bit smaller than that on Ourainavassa, containing only a single desk and a few chairs, as well as a small cabinet filled with books. On top of the cabinet sat an elegant stand holding Freya's katana, as well as a single bottle of a bright blue liquid. Above the cabinet, a display frame on the wall held a few medals. Beyond these and the flag of the Terran Empire on the wall, the room was undecorated. Freya sat behind her desk, and indicated for Kaiae to sit on one of the chairs opposite.

"You are probably wondering why I asked you to meet me here, rather than speaking on your vessel." The Captain chuckled. "Well, first of all, I was simply wondering whether you would actually come. Our scanners detected that you are carrying quite a bit of weaponry on you, a reasonable precaution, but I assure you, you won't need them. So, how are you finding the ship?"

Kaiae cursed silently inside her head at this particular weak point in things: You couldn't have most scan-blocking or diffusing devices turned on during transport, as they tended to have ill effects to the accuracy of the process too often to be safe. This meant if the other ship chose to scan you during transport...Well. You have little way to prevent it without risking your life would end in an exceedingly unpleasant transport accident. She supposed she could have taken a shuttle, but that risked more than her life; she would have had to take men to guard it, or risk that the Amelia's crew would have ample opportunity to modify, bug, or otherwise tamper with or study it. The far better option was to limit the potential damage by limiting the number of people or pieces of equipment at risk.

"I have seen very little of it; so I will refrain from comment for the moment." Kaiae said. 'I wanted to see if you would actually come' was nearly a move worthy of a Romulan; that she wouldn't have expected from most humans; but then again the Terrans had already proven themselves...different...in some ways than Earthlings. "I rather doubt that was your only reason, however." Kaiae fell silent and waited.

"As observant as ever." Freya simply nodded. "I have asked you here because I want to know your opinion on something. The evacuation of your families from Romulus by far holds the highest priority for your crew, is that correct? Have you determined a safe location for them yet?" She pressed a button on her console, and a projected map of the quadrant appeared, with a series of overlays in various distances from Hobus. "And more importantly, if you have, is that location outside of the marked area on this map?"

"There are a few places we're looking into; or the possibility of purchasing placements on a colony with some funds we've acquired." Kaiae glanced over the map overlays, which seemed similar to the ones she'd worked with while they planned out the distribution of ships for pickups, but was clearly tracking something else. "If nothing else we have a place in consideration as a temporary holding point. Should be outside of...whatever that is..." Kaiae waved a hand ever so slightly at the map. If she completely ran out of options, Ourainavassa itself was rather lightly crewed and could likely accommodate people temporarily, but she would consider it a last resort; the professional soldier in her recoiled at the idea of children aboard a warbird. "...What is that?"

"That is the area that is going to be affected if... no, when the Hobus star blows." Freya tapped another command, and the map zoomed into the Hobus system, displaying the research station. "Imperial Starfleet Command has decided that we are taking too long. We have been ordered to return to base to prepare for a direct assault on Hobus." She glanced at the chronometer on her desk. "Specifically, I was ordered to depart this timeline three hours ago. As you can clearly see, I am still here. The orders were highly classified, so nobody on the crew knows as of yet. However, I don't trust them. This is, after all, a Terran ship. By failing to follow that order to the letter, I could be considered as committing treason."

While the rational part of Kaiae sat off to one side considering if this was somehow a ploy of some kind; and if so for what reasons; the rest of her had perhaps an expected reaction to the '...could be considered as committing treason...' remark, given her own situation: Laughter tinged not with joy, but bitter irony and more than a hint of stress beyond reason. "I have no doubt that I am considered so; in fact I have seen the papers to prove it, as has most of the Empire."

Freya sighed. "The radius marked on the map I showed you earlier has been declared as acceptable collateral damage. As you can see, it includes the Romulus system. Unfortunately, I do not know when the attack is to take place. Therefore, I recommend you accelerate your evacuation efforts even more than you already have."

That made a chill spread through Kaiae strong enough it might have as well turned her blood to ice; and this time she had very, very deliberate tone when she spoke, not the bitter half-hysteria of moments before.

"To 'accelerate our efforts further' given we have already done so twice, once quite recently, would practically mean departing today. But communication is difficult at best and exceedingly risky for potential to be compromised; and not everyone has travel papers yet to reach any central rally points on some of the planets in question. Not to mention one of the three ships we mean to use to cover the required territory in a timely manner is not even available yet. If I could...accelerate...matters I would need at least a week to get it, and everyone else, into position." And even that was something Kaiae seriously doubted she could pull off in so short a time. "Stall them."

Freya paused for a moment. She wasn't sure if she was going to be able to stall the plans of the Empire - and, more importantly, it would not matter. The attack would be a temporal incursion - it would not matter when it was going to be dispatched, the target time would stay the same. "Kaiae, I would if I could," she finally said. "But with time travel, I could stall them launching their attack for a year and it would still happen at the same time. That's the problem here. Not to mention-"

She was interrupted by the door chime. "I said no interruptions!", she shouted. "If this is not absolutely urgent, I will have you executed." When nothing was heard for a moment, Freya shook her head. "The disrespect they show me some times, you would not believe. What is the absolute earliest you could launch your operation?"

"I would need to consult with some of the others to be certain. But at a minimum we are dealing with transit time for the third ship, from Federation space; which along with gathering necessary crew who would travel with it was last said to be likely to arrive here within a few weeks. I would expect that even were they to throw precautions aside and risk operating more openly--" (Which Kaiae rather doubted Arnason and T'Ango's Starfleet friend would like doing any more than she herself did, if she had read the woman's likely species right when she'd heard the name.) "--even then you would be looking at that week or so for the journey, and probably a bit more. It is possible we could arrange to start some actions earlier; but I cannot make something out of nothing. I will arrange for things move as quickly as is possible and beyond that I cannot."

This had always been a dangerous endeavor, from the start; and one Kaiae she knew she could not survive whole and entire from the time Areinnye had vanished, complications had mounted, and her image had been published with charges of treason and conspiracy. Now, though, she felt more than ever suddenly that she had made oaths and promises of the sorts you did not break (or at least, did not survive breaking, at all, whole or even otherwise) but that she might now be unable to keep, to too many; with consequences of her inability to do so to fall on and doom those already betrayed by their own leaders, then the Federation's leaders, and now finally this.

Freya glanced at the chronometer to confirm the current date, before turning to the communications console on her desk. "Captain Freya Mannerheim, I.S.S. Amelia, contacting Temporal Defence Corps command, Admiral Lynn. Maximum classification, authorisation code Mannerheim-Foxtrot-two-eight-three-two-Gulf. Begin message. Admiral, we are monitoring fleet activity in target system and are remaining on station to observe. Recommend delaying intended operation target date to no earlier than standard date 238704.20."

She tapped the button again. "If the Admiral buys this, you've got a month, Subcommander."

"A month." Kaiae did the math in her head; but she'd been dealing with Federation timetables at least off and on since they had been allies against the Dominion, and could make the conversion quickly. "Yes. I believe we could make that work."

Even then, to shave another two Earth weeks of their timeline would mean cutting every corner, taking every risk by everyone involved, from herself and Hatham, and T'Ango and Gunnar, all of whom would have to leave immediately once the third ship arrived, if not sooner on the part of some; to the latter's Federation friend, who would have to supply that ship and crew more quickly than planned if it was to arrive in time; from her mother's cousin in Internal Affairs issuing too many travel papers too quickly, to the couriers who would have to spread so much information so rapidly to so many; and even to the people on the list who would have to move so quickly themselves and simply trust it wasn't noticed.

Freya stood. "I know there's a lot on the line here. If the Admiral does not believe my report, I'm as good as dead. Falsifying reports like that equals high treason. Sharing the highly classified information I gave you, definitely treason. I would try to get you more time than that, but I highly doubt I will be able to. Commander Rogers must under no circumstances learn of any of this. If she does, I can tell you right now, we are all dead. She will execute me, take command of this ship, and destroy yours. It is always said that Romulans are good at subterfuge. It is time to prove that."

"Thank you." Here, again, with the careful courtesy; whatever the truth was here: If it was as displayed, then they owed the Terran captain for the warning; if it was a trick of some sort, then they needed to not tip their own hand or antagonize the more powerful warship, for now. Either way. "I have no intention of informing her even of the time of day, however, let alone anything else." Kaiae assured. On the off chance that this was still some bizarre ploy between the pair of Terrans, though, she also didn't mention that she and Hatham had already been working on a plan to contain or counter 'Terran Rogers' if the need arose, since nearly the moment they had left the meeting earlier having learned she might be on their ship soon and therefore very much their problem. "As for executions for treason; you would be in crowded company there; as I assume you have seen the charges issued against me, and many of those who follow me." If the Terran method of execution consisted of Rogers simply thwacking Freya's head off with that sword or planting her dagger in her chest or some such in fact, Kaiae thought, it would actually be a much better end than the one that theoretically awaited herself and most of her people if they were taken alive by their government.

"No, I must thank you." Freya smiled. The reason I have placed the Commander on your vessel is a simple one. It is to keep her away. With the Commander not on this ship, the risk of my doings being exposed is somewhat reduced. Now, my friend, let me accompany you back to your vessel. Just in case one of the transporter operators is thinking of causing an accident."

It briefly crossed Kaiae's mind that it was still entirely possible for the Terran operator, or Freya herself for that matter, to arrange an 'accident' just for one of the two people on a transporter platform; but if that ended up being the case, it would also likely be rather short-lived, as her own crew would note her failure to return and eliminate anyone who returned without her; possibly the only comforting thought she'd had that day so far; so she gave the Terran captain a firm little nod and stood.

A few moments later, the two found themselves in Ourainavassa's transporter room. "Keep in mind what I said, Subcommander. I will contact you as soon as I receive a reply from the Admiral." She turned to the Romulan operating the transporter. "Right, time to go back. Energise, please."

 

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