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Posted on Sun Jul 17th, 2022 @ 9:47pm by Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien & Lieutenant Hatham tr'Krotash

Mission: Chapter VI: Racing the Storm
Location: Ourainavassa, Kaiae's Quarters
Timeline: 238704.19, Evening

Sometime later in the evening after the meeting for the arrival of the D'deridex, Kaiae had sunk wearily down onto a chair in her quarters opposite Hatham, a table in between them strewn with PADDs and physical papers (impossible to hack, those) alike on various aspects of the operation they were soon to undertake. Also on the table was a small bottle of dark blue liquid, and a pair of cups full of it, one of which she had just drained a long sip from before setting it down once more.

"...That was not at all what I expected." She admitted in this more private venue, having long since thrown the switch on her jamming device, as she thumbed through personnel lists, picking out possible candidates to staff each of the vessels available to them.

Hatham sat back heavily and nodded. "Any help is good at this point, but when Arnason said they had someone in Starfleet I was not picturing an Orion and certainly not an earth-raised child of noble house defectors." He took a swallow of ale. "At least they raised no objections to us putting our own people aboard."

"It gets worse than that." Kaiae sighed; and sorted through the pile till she found the PADD in question she'd stored some rapid research done after the earlier meeting on. "The Orion is a doctor, which....Not entirely sure how it fits in, but seems to mostly be associational perhaps; a favor for the human and the Dosadi. Or maybe for the defector's kid, who things are even less clear on because she's also a Federation intelligence officer. Or was. It's somewhat unclear whether either she or the Orion are active anymore, or if they're former officers like Arnason." She sighed again; any of that on its own would normally be enough of a flag for trouble to scuttle something, but they were too deep into this and had no options and no time.

"But at this point I'm less concerned about any of them than I am about what we may or may not find ourselves owing the other parties they involved." Kaiae took another gulp of ale, bookending a statement that had been made just-so flat and assured in the matter of one stating facts, not supposition: A vice-admiral with an entire wing of warbirds in his hand and a reputation for playing his political cards so closely to his chest that it was often difficult, she had heard, for even his equals or superiors to discern from the outside where he might fall on any given issue or event. And the noble-born eldest daughter of a senator, who had chosen him for a mate. These were not the sort of people who would forget that they had provided for you in a moment of need...or hesitate to call it in later, when they felt the time was right, be that in a few months or eighty years hence.

"I'd rather be indebted to the vice-admiral than have him against us. Though having him completely unaware of us would have been my preference." Hatham expelled a long breath. "In terms of favors I'm more worried about the Orions. The doctor's mother belongs to a wealthy 'businessman' and she herself seems to be very close to a wealthy Ferengi. She may be acting in part out of personal connection..." He glanced at the report indicating that she spent last night with Arnason and the Dosadi. That was...He shook his head, refusing to imagine that truple. "But she's an Orion and mixing business with pleasure is practically their way of life. And the male Orion introduced as 'security' is former space navy and 'merchant marine'." The last words were said in a way that made it clear everyone knew the real description was 'pirate'.

"He also, bizarrely, has a private investigator license on file in the Federation." Kaiae wasn't sure where Hatham had found his better information on the Orions beyond what had been in public records - possibly some contact on Drozana - but the intersection of a Federation detective license with Orion pirates when you put both of their sets of data together was both strange and troubling...Though she doubted the Federation was nearly as troubled by it as they should be, given they'd apparently granted the license and renewed it at least once. She grimaced, considering an outgrowth issue of any Orion-related concerns. "Eventually, anyone on any of these ships is going to learn the location of whatever planet we manage to settle anyone on. How do we make sure that information doesn't make its way to the--" and her tone formed the sort of verbal air quotes that Hatham's had earlier, "--'merchant marine' overall, or the 'businessman'?"

The big Romulan frowned. "That I don't know. It may be necessary to play the Ferengi against the Orions - buy the cheap desert land on the casino planet and settle there. At least for a time." Of course, moving would require another major relocation effort run secretly, but at least the timeline wouldn't be subject to the pressures they faced now. "After this is over, there's no need to stay in whatever safe harbor we find. In a fire fight you find the cover available, and once you aren't pinned down, you make for better." A slow smile spread on his face. "Or you take the enemy's position."

It was the sort of sensible advice Kaiae had come to expect; but she could also hear the experience behind the analogy: The scar on her own face and the matching defensive wounds on the back of her hands had been gained in what had been her only true personal or hand-to-hand combat experience of the war; when the Jem'Hadar had boarded the crippled warbird she was aboard, in the last battle over Cardassia. All the rest had been ship-to-ship, and time spent serving in the comms staff for their portion of the allied war headquarters on DS9. Hatham, however, had a myriad such experiences of planetary or otherwise close combat, she knew; which made her think his last words and use of such were more than idle speculation and instead indicative of a potential plan. "...Something particular in mind, for that?"

"Nothing firm as yet. These things are often a matter of seeing and taking opportunities as much as making them," he said, swirling his ale in the glass contemplatively before taking another sip. "But this is a powerful battleship, enough to defend a colony or...provide compelling reasons for cooperation from any prior inhabitants. And I see no reason to return it to the Empire and even less to allow the Terrans any claim once this is over."

"Ideally I would prefer us to keep the D'deridex as well." Kaiae nodded. "Though that gets into a whole additional set of debts we could end up owing Orions at that point; if they are under the impression they have plans for it elsewhere after this operation. I'm not entirely sure how much will be left in my mother's Bank of Ferenginar account after having dispersed some for ticket purchases by the 'network' the Dosadi referenced, and whatever we do or do not end up putting down on land purchases. If there's enough, we could see if we could find out how much they paid for it and if we could buy them out." Even now, old instincts and training just itched terribly at the thought of letting the Orions, or for that matter any foreign power, walk off with a warbird and a functional cloaking device.

Hatham's head cocked to the side. Keeping another warbird was clearly desirable, but there were a number of complications even beyond those Kaiae was undoubtedly contemplating. "From what I gather of the 'purchase' there's a good chance they may need to return the D'deridex in the sense of swapping it for whatever craft is on the books as their actual purchase. Though a Nausicaan pirate vessel could also be useful. They don't tend to skimp on armaments."

"Assuming one can get the stench of Nausicaan out of the interior....But yes, it could be." Kaiae slid the PADD she'd been appending personnel lists on over to him. "Those would be my suggestions of who to add to the crew of the D'deridex and the Tal'Shiar vessel." She shook her head slightly. "I haven't placed either of us yet, though, you may note. Not entirely certain of the best spots--if we leave this ship without us in order to tend the operation personally on either of those others, we risk the Terran Rogers making a move during that time. Which is bound to happen eventually one way or another." It was an admission of uncertainty one probably wouldn't hear out of most subcommanders, but then again, most subcommanders had had a few decades of practice as centurions first, and she...had had exactly none.

Hatham sighed inwardly. She was right, which meant that as much as he wanted to be there to be sure his father with the firm 'first in, last out' attitude got out, he was best placed on the Ourainvassa. Kaiae had proven capable, but she was young and lacked his experience, particularly when it came to acting quickly, ruthlessly and, most importantly, without regard to rules - all things necessary to deal with the likes of the Terran Rogers. "I will remain on this ship and deal with Rogers as necessary."

Kaiae gave the answer a moment of thought. As much as she would have otherwise preferred to have him along on that run, to handle any issues that might arise; and was realizing how much she had come to depend on him as a second; it would do them no good to lose the Ourainvassa right after gaining so many people to feed, protect, and resettle, especially if the Orions did indeed have a hard stop to return the D'deridex as he had surmised they might, which would leave them at that point without a ship powerful enough to defend their kin once it was returned, had they lost the Mogai-class as well. There was a flash of anger again at Raven and the bizarre foray into the other universe, less because of the privateer captain's absence itself, and more because it had in turn sent their Rogers, whom Kaiae might otherwise have decided to trust to watch and counter her alternate, off hunting for her, leaving her unavailable to guard the ship or deal with her Terran clone. But she set that grudge aside fairly rapidly for the moment, because the cold truth she had dealt out at the earlier meeting was for the most part exactly as she had said it at the time: If they ran into too much trouble on the evac run itself, there was likely little that could be done at that point. They would either complete the plan without notice; or they would quickly and convincingly counter any doubts if they came to such...or they would die, and their kin with them, trapped between the homeworld's orbital defenses and the outer system defenses and fleets.

Finally, she locked eyes briefly with Hatham and gave his answer and planned placement an approving dip of her head; her next words a solemn vow for what an ear trained for years of what was not said as much as what was had discerned clearly in the exchange. "Then I will retrieve them for you, as I would my own."


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