Flying from the Raptor’s Clutches, pt 2
Shore Leave: Welcome to Drozana
Location: Imperial Yacht, En route to Drozana station
Lights blurred by Taev in nearly unbroken views thanks to the Ralaaripae’s bubble canopy. He had learned the name of the Imperial yacht in one of her menus, which he delved into to avoid needing to converse with the Commander or her aristocratic guest.
A proximity sensor began chirping on the console the pilot was using. His eyes widened and then he spoke. “Commander. A Bird of Prey has just decloaked one thousand kilometers to our aft... They are hailing us”
Areinnye let out a string of vulgar words. She hadn’t anticipated being caught so quickly. Time to see if old Dorvaela was right. She glanced at Taev. “Drop out of warp and put them through. Audio only.”
After a moment, a young man’s voice was heard. “This is SubCommander Au’rad. We have just been informed that Varelian of the imperial family has been killed. Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded immediately”
“This is Commander Areinnye. I request that you and your first officer beam over alone. It’s a matter of state.” Said the Commander. Romulans had few vices. But one of them was political intrigue. Areinnye was counting on that Vice to carry her through.
The reply came after what seemed an eternity “I’m coming over alone. I warn you. One wrong move and my ship will destroy you” he said. Glancing at her sensors, she recognized a Malem class bird of prey. Not only would it destroy them, it would look wonderful doing so. She made no reply, merely cutting the transmission.
Varelian took a deep breath and looked over at Areinnye, "What are you thinking? Our options are quite limited. As I'm sure you're aware, we are no match for that bird of prey. I have no intention of faking my death only to die a real one here."
Areinnye smiled wryly. “That would be less than ideal. We’re going to allow him to board and make him feel like he’s helping the Empire. Your clothing is in the rear compartment. Perhaps something a bit more conspicuous?” She suggested.
Turning to her pilot, she spoke again. “Drop shields, Lieutenant”
Varelian made his way to the back of the ship to change. He was risking quite a bit for an apparently dead man. But these were extreme times. He was proud of his lineage and his heritage, things that until recently seemed like it was destined to go on forever. He waited patiently to be signaled by Areinnye. If conspicuous is what she wanted, he would make his entrance as excessive as possible.
After a surprisingly long wait, the short, stocky form of SubCommander Au’rad materialized in the cabin. He was clutching a holstered disruptor, as if wondering whether he could dare beam onto the imperial yacht with a drawn weapon. The two stood eyeing one another until Areinnye arched an eyebrow. Then the stocky SubCommander Appeared to remember himself. “Commander Areinnye.” He said, offering a curt nod
“SubCommander. Thank you for joining us. What I am about to reveal to you is of the utmost secrecy. Only a handful of people are aware of this information, including our glorious Praetor” she said. She glanced past the man to Varelian and nodded.
Showtime, Varelian thought to himself. Dressed in his finest royal garments, he left little doubt as to who he was. "SubCommander Au'rad," he announced, as he sees the reaction from the Romulan. He always found it a stroke to the ego to see citizens look upon royalty with reverence. "I see that the news of my demise have spread. However, it is not entirely accurate, as you can see. But the Commander is correct, we are entrusting you with the knowledge that I am, in fact, alive. The implications of this information is critical to the future of the Empire. Can we trust you?"
Au'rad's reverence quickly turned to skepticism, "What is the meaning of this? Varelian is dead!"
Varelian channeled every bit of royal arrogance that he could muster, "IDIOT! DO I LOOK DEAD TO YOU?!"
Areinnye allowed herself a small smile before speaking again. “Emotae, please. The SubCommander was undoubtedly overcome with grief at the news of your passing. To see you alive now must be confusing for him.”
She paused before addressing the Bird of Prey’s commanding officer. "Au’rad, a plot was uncovered to murder the Praetor, Proconsul, and Varelian. The Mirak struck at him first, just as we were taking him to safety. We must allow the Empire to continue believing that Varelian is dead, otherwise we risk losing the infiltrators” she explained.
He took a calming breath as Au'rad looked to be processing Areinnye's words, "The fate of the Empire is at stake. The sun may be on the verge of going supernova, but our people and our way of life must continue. Can we trust you? Or does our Empire end today?" Varelian was glad he was forced to take all those oratory classes as a young man.
The woman bit the inside of her cheek until it began to bleed, sure that she would burst out laughing and get them all killed. Au’rad, however looked quite solemn.
“I pledge the assistance of my crew and ship to serve the empire. Direct me, Emotae, and it will be done!” Said the SubCommander. Taev, having kept out of the exchange entirely, was suddenly caught in a coughing fit.
“Lieutenant, you will remain silent in the presence of the Emotae!” Areinnye scolded.
Varelian glared at Taev, "I may be believed to be dead, but I can easily give you the authentic experience!" He turned back to Au'rad, royal robes flowing around him, so unnecessarily pretentious, but clearly needed at the moment, "Good. Continue as you were, as if you never saw me. You will inform your crew and your superiors that we are of little concern. Those that work in the shadows to undermine the Empire will reveal themselves eventually. And we will be ready. When this is all over, you will be handsomely rewarded SubCommander. Perhaps a more prestigious title will be befitting someone of your loyalty."
He looked at Areinnye, "Make sure he is appropriately briefed on what he needs to know. I grow weary from my death." All Varelian wanted was Au’rad to just go away.
Areinnye nodded with a dutiful look on her face “As you say, Emotae” before turning to the beaming SubCommander “Continue with you current assignment, but keep an eye out for Mirak treachery. And say nothing of Varelian to anyone. You can never be too careful” she said conspiratorially.
And just like that, disaster was avoided. Within fifteen minutes, the Ralaaripae was once again streaking through space, her pilot’s ear now ringing from a Commander’s punch.
Areinnye sent an encrypted message before retiring. It had been a long day.
Varelian immediately changed back into more comfortable clothes, glad that they had handled the situation. But his world has been turned upside-down and there's little he can do about it.