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|May 6 2013, 06:28 PM||#76|
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)
I don't like S31 but I have a tiny bit of sympathy with Drake here. But mostly not. Most people choose to work for these guys - North being an obvious exception.
As for the Remans, yeesh. I know you're not supposed to trust a Romulan but boy oh boy do you not want to run afoul of a Reman. Dar better watch out.
|May 19 2013, 05:59 PM||#77|
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)
Giellun Tei inspected the smoking corpse quickly, chastising himself as he did so. He doubted his Starfleet Intelligence superiors would’ve liked his lippy retort to Vorot. They stressed efficiency of action and in the few seconds his taunt delayed him, the Tal Shiar agent could’ve turned the tables.
He thanked the gods that she hadn’t. Rifling through the pockets of her padded uniform, he found the monofilament knife, which he doubtlessly been the cause of most of Lt. Commander Meldin’s grievous injuries. The operative found nothing else of value. For a moment he pondered taking the jacket off the dead woman and either using it to disguise himself or Meldin, but then dismissed the idea. For one, the big charred hole in the center would be a giveaway and two, even if Meldin wore a Tal Shiar tunic his features were definitely not Romulan.
He pocketed the blade , and turned back to Meldin. The Benzite hung limply from his constraints. Giellun smiled as he saw the man’s chest beginning to rise.
Even though he had the information he had come for and would likely be admonished for wasting time reviving the Starfleet officer, Tei was prepared for whatever reprimands might come his way.
He didn’t leave comrades in the field, even those he had never met. Tei hurried to the man and steadied him before releasing his shackles. With a grunt, Meldin fell into his arms. The Benzite’s eyes fluttered open, and they were clouded with confusion then fear.
He tried to pull away from Tei, but Geillun’s grip was too strong. “Who…what…” Meldin said weakly.
“Lt. Commander Meldin,” Giellun replied compassionately, “Welcome back to the land of the living.”
“Who are you?” The Benzite rasped, trying to pull away again.
“Starfleet Intelligence,” Tei answered. Meldin eased visibly and he stopped resisting. “I’m here to take you back to Federation space.”
“No, the High Commissioner,” Meldin shook his head, “McCall.” Tei nodded. He hadn’t been ordered to bring either of them back. And he was certain that McCall’s political position would protect her.
However he didn’t have time to explain the intricacies of galactic politics to the barely sensate man. “She’s already on my ship,” Tei said, deciding to lie instead. “As soon as I get you aboard we can take off.”
“What about…Vorot,” Meldin’s eyes widened in terror before narrowing with determination, “And the guards?”
“The major has been neutralized,” Tei said with relish, “And the Romulan security forces are going to have more to worry about than us in a few moments.”
“You’ve provided a distraction,” Meldin said, strength returning to his voice. His eyes gleamed with an appreciative comprehension.
“Yes,” Tei nodded curtly. “Now,” he hooked an arm around the man’s shoulders for support. “Lean on me.”
“I-I can stand,” Meldin protested.
“No you can’t,” Tei said as gentle as possible. His patience was starting to fray. They were fortunate that no one had checked up on Vorot’s progress yet as it was.
“I can,” Meldin declared, trying to push the man’s arm off. The Benzite stood on rubbery legs all for a few seconds before they gave out and he toppled to the floor.
Tei rushed to catch him before the man hurt himself further. The man fell into his arms. Before Meldin could protest, Tei applied a Vulcan neck pinch.
“Sorry about that,” he murmured to the unconscious man. “But I don’t have time to argue.” He threw Meldin over his shoulders.
Clutching Vorot’s disruptor pistol in one hand, Tei took a deep breath and pulled out his personal transporter. He paused before activating it, thoughts of his daughter Taleirrh and his life on New Athens flittering through his mind.
He had risked all to escape with his daughter and his brother Nveid, after his wife had been murdered by the Tal Shiar. Now he would do so again, turning a quick retrieval of information into a rescue mission. Geillun hoped that his momentary compassion hadn’t doomed both him and Meldin. Once he activated the device the Romulans would know an enemy operative was among them.
“I’ll be home soon,” he promised before dissolving in a crackling haze.
Imperial Romulan Warbird Ra’kholh
Commander Patrin Volok strode onto the bridge of his warbird, an impassive expression masking his inner joy.
Subcommander Tassem stood rigidly by the command chair she had no doubt just vacated before his arrival. The prim woman nodded as the man claimed his seat. “Tassem report,” he barked, covering his glee as best he could.
“Sir,” the woman began, with uncustomary reluctance, “There’s been an incident.” Volok hid his smile behind a frown. Looking down at him, lines of concern wormed their way across her forehead.
“Go on,” his gaze bored into the woman.
“The cosmopolis has been attacked,” she said, her hesitancy giving way to cold anger.
“What?” He asked, nearly jumping from his seat. This wasn’t the news he had been anticipating. After patching things up with Arrue, Volok had been waiting to hear the news that the ship carrying Procurator Harmost had suffered an unexpected singularity breach which consumed all life onboard.
But this…this was expected. “Do you know who did it?”
“Not yet sir, but I suspect the Remans,” Tassem answered.
“Your idle speculation means nothing!” He said, unloading on the woman. He shot out of his chair and strode toward the main viewer. “Patch me through to Merria at once!”
|May 19 2013, 08:14 PM||#78|
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)
Imperial Romulan Cruiser Aidoann
Oallea glared at all the pretentious finery that Gakket had surrounded himself with. He noted that many of the statuary had been crafted by Reman hands. It intensified his hatred for the arrogant Romulan even more. He crowed about Reman inferiority yet stuffed his office with the products of their labor and imagination.
He flexed his hands, eager to wrap them around the Romulan’s throat. But he had forced himself to save the crippled Centurion. Oallea had even made sure that the Romulan medic aboard had been spared in order to keep Gakket alive. Oallea wanted the man’s death to be slow and excruciating.
After that he would dispatch of the Romulan doctor. As for the fates of the Romulan, the human, and Bolian captives he was at a loss. He knew the case they were eager to get back and one that Gakket beamed about was of great importance. He was certain it was a weapon of some sort. He had been privy to some of Gakket’s interrogation of the Bolian and had seen the brave woman eventually give out, spilling some information.
Oallea knew they were from the Federation Starfleet. It was that fact that had kept them alive thus far. He wasn’t privy to all of the plans of the partisans fighting for Reman and Benzite freedom, though he knew that agents of the Federation were being sent to help them.
Oallea was certain that those agents were the people aboard his ship. And whatever was within that case was their means to help in that effort.
Though he could also be wrong, the Reman realized. The human and Bolian could be traitors and the Romulan could be Tal Shiar for all he knew. He needed to divine the secrets of the case before he decided their fate, but before that he needed counsel.
The Reman leaned forward in the disgustingly soft chair and activated the triangular computer monitor. He waited patiently until an image resolved through a storm of static.
A pallid vision, with sharp cheekbones, smiled at him. “Oallea,” she said, touching the screen. His heart fluttered as he mimicked the gesture.
“Vibeke,” he said, “It is agreeable to see you again.” The woman was pleasingly gaunt, with a cascade of night-black hair hanging over her shoulders. She wore the iridescent uniform of one of the Reman units that had been pressed into war to fight the Dominion and now combatted the real enemy: the Star Empire.
“Likewise,” she said. The woman sat back, her countenance becoming severe. “What do you have to report?” Oallea gave her a brief recap of the mutiny.
She nodded, “It was long past time since those Romulan slavers received their just punishment.”
“I agree,” Oallea said, “But that is not all.”
“Oh,” Vibeke raised an eyebrow. “Please proceed.” Oallea quickly told the woman about the prisoners. Vibeke’s eyes widened with excitement.
“They must be the assistance we were promised,” She said, “You must bring them here at once.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Oallea said. Vibeke frowned.
“Not this again Oallea,” she sighed.
“Whatever resides within that case is a weapon, one that must have great power,” Oallea ignored her. “Why should we fight to be exiled from our home? Remus is our birthright!”
“Why would you want to stay there?” Vibeke asked, her face scrounging in disgust. “The Romulans have stripped Remus down to its core. It’s a barren wasteland. We can have a greater, brighter future here, in Federation space, unmolested by the Empire.”
“Ha,” Oallea chuckled, “Do you really trust the Federation? Sure they want the Romulans off their doorstep, but do you really think they will accept us?”
“There are reports that they have done just that, for Romulan refugees,” Vibeke countered.
“Because that’s all part of their propaganda,” Oallea snorted, “Once we have done the hard work of removing the Romulans for them, they’ll abandon us.”
“Starfleet Intelligence has proven trustworthy thus far,” Vibeke pointed out.
“We share a common enemy,” Oallea replied. “But once that enemy has been removed, they will have no incentive to honor their agreements. In fact, they might pack us up and send us back to Romulus to assuage the riled feelings there.”
“You can’t mean that?” Vibeke was aghast.
“What is a Reman life, or lives really worth to them?” Oallea asked, “As far as they know we are nothing more than chattel, a savage people, monsters that would haunt their dreams. Who knows what stories the Romulans have filled their minds with?”
“Then perhaps it is doubly important that we show them we can be honest partners,” Vibeke replied.
“I’m tired of counting on the goodwill of other beings,” Oallea declared. “Only we can insure our future!”
Vibeke shook her head, “You sound like the deluded Vkruk now, or the upstart, Shinzon.”
“Both speak with great truth,” Oallea stated.
“Both are madmen,” Vibeke shook her head, “Fools. They think that they can forge an alliance with sympathizers in the Imperial Fleet and that there will be some grand alliance between us and the Romulans. It’s insane. In order to be whole we must start over, somewhere new, in fresh soil.”
“With this weapon in our possession we can insure that the Romulans comply,” Oallea said confidently.
Vibeke laughed, “Well I certainly don’t love you for your intellect.”
Oallea seethed, “I’m serious Vibeke.”
“As am I beloved,” she said, “And that is why you need to forget your dreams of returning to Remus and come to me instead.”
“I’m sorry my heart,” Oallea said, “But I must put the needs of our people first.”
“If you truly meant that, you would heed my advice,” Vibeke challenged.
“What do you mean?” Oallea asked, both perplexed and intrigued.
“Erebus Station,” Vibeke intimated, “We have found its location.”
|May 20 2013, 12:03 AM||#79|
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)
Giellun Tei ignored the shouts outside his cockpit. He ran his system checks, flinching from instinct as a verdant disruptor beam bounced across his hull. Two Romulan security guards, decked in the older-style, jutting shoulder pads uniforms gestured their green pistols wildly at him. He knew that that was the only warning shot they were going to give.
Tei smiled, appreciating how the quick Romulan reaction. If he had been so inclined he would send a missive to their commander. Instead the Romulan looked over at the unconscious Meldin. The man was slumped over in the seat beside him.
“Just give me a few more moments Mr. Meldin,” Tei promised. “And we’ll be away from Merria.”
Tei, under an assumed identity, had entered Benzite space in a K’normian vessel. Of course the engineers at Starfleet Intelligence had equipped the vessel with enhanced shielding, propulsion, and weapons.
So an errant disruptor beam or two wouldn’t damage the ship’s hull at all, though it might mean murder to its finish. However Tei didn’t want to wait around to see how much damage concentrated fire might do, or if the Romulans produced disruptor rifles or more potent weaponry.
Unable to rest, he gave the hapless security officers a cheery wave before he activated the ship’s lift thrusters. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the men scramble to avoid being caught in the ship’s plasma exhaust.
Flurries of disruptor beams rattled against the hull like hail. “Time to jet,” Tei said to his still insensate co-pilot. He aimed his forward spiral-wave cannons at the shuttle bay’s door and unleashed their charged fury. The duranium door blistered beneath the assault, but held firm. “Damn,” Tei said, not wishing to escalate matters, but knowing he had to.
He didn’t know if a Romulan battle cruiser, or worse, was nearby the cosmopolis and already in route. Or maybe it was just waiting outside, perched to swoop down on him. He would rather take it by surprise than the other way around.
Arming a micro-torpedo, Tei angled his vessel as far back as he could to avoid the shockwave and any debris. The ship rattled around him and the man breathed a small sigh of relief.
The latest round of bombs he had planted around the station had begun exploding. The timing was a little off by his calculation, but the distraction would be welcome. Moving back as far as he could go, he fired the torpedo.
Tei’s inner eyelids flicked down as the torpedo impacted the duranium, producing a flash so bright that it could’ve burned out his retinas. The ship bucked the tiny shockwave. The micro-torpedo had been designed to be potent but limited in scope.
Geillun checked on Meldin once more before he brought the engines up to full impulse. “Let’s fly,” he said.
High Commissioner Selene McCall sat mutely among the injured and the dying. Her hearing had mostly returned hours ago, and the sounds of agony and despair were only slightly muffled. Amidst the tumult Benzite medics worked efficiently and quietly.
She had been one of the lucky ones, found quickly by the Romulans and transported to the planet below. Selene never thought she would’ve been relieved to see Romulan faces, but they had been diligent in rescuing her along with their own and any survivors they could find.
Now many of the survivors swelled an overwhelmed medical facility. McCall had long since given up waiting to be checked on. She had inspected herself and found no broken bones. There had been temporary hearing loss and a throbbing in her head, but she had largely escaped the blast unscathed.
And she knew that Helveid was the reason for that. The man’s dried green blood was smeared across her tunic. Normally such a thing would’ve disgusted her, but Selene felt proud to be adorned with the last memento of the man who had saved her life with his own.
McCall didn’t know if Meldin had survived and there was a shameful part of her that wished he hadn’t. Perhaps it was better to perish in an explosion than at the hands of the Romulans. She knew that when she got back to Federation space she would defend the man against any lies that Major Vorot or the Tal Shiar spewed at him.
Remembering Meldin started to bring Selene back to her senses and recall just what sort of her people her saviors really were, and what was truly at stake if the Federation failed to bring Benzar back into the fold. The violence the Romulans were using-even if implied-to keep the Benzites in their thrall would only beget an equal reaction. It was incumbent upon the Federation to stop that cycle of violence.
“Commissioner,” A golden-helmeted Romulan pushed through the crowd. Selene’s heart pinched. She looked up fearfully. Had the Romulans’ ocean of goodwill suddenly dried up? Had they remembered that she was one of the ‘enemy’ again?
Once the soldier loomed over her, the man pushed forward a 23rd century style, black cased communicator. “You requested communications access,” the man said, “This is the best we can do at the moment.”
Selene was unable not to balk at the inadequate communication device. “I need interplanetary access,” she said indignantly.
“This is the best we can provide at the moment,” the soldier repeated.
She sighed, snatching the communicator. “Can you at least patch me through one of your communication arrays aboard a starship?”
“The communicator has been programmed to do that,” the man replied.
“That’s something at least,” she said, flipping open the device and holding it to her ear. She paused, “Is there anything else?”
The man looked chagrined. “No Commissioner.”
“Then I would like some privacy,” she snapped. The man bowed respectfully before losing himself in the swath. The commissioner glanced around at the people sitting or slumping beside her nearby. They were all too consumed in their own pain or grief to pay much attention to what she was talking about.
Selene composed herself before making the call. She knew she contact the Federation Council first, but at the moment there was someone more important.
She clutched the communicator for interminable time before she got a reply, “USS Sacajewa,” announced a serious voice.
“Patch me through to Lt. Luna McCall immediately,” Selene demanded, using her best imperious tone.
“With whom am I speaking?” The voice asked, annoyance evident.
“Tell her…” McCall’s voice started to crack as the weight of today’s events started to press down on her, “that it’s her mother.”
|May 26 2013, 06:30 PM||#80|
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)
|May 27 2013, 07:15 PM||#81|
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)
Palais de la Concorde
The large desktop screen was split. One half showed the devastation of the listing space borne cosmopolis and the other the pinched face of the Romulan praetor. President Martin Santiago wore a similarly dour expression.
“Praetor Hiren, I wish to express my deepest sympathies for the tragedy that has befallen your people on Merria,” he solemnly began. Out of visual range, a tense Chief of Staff Logan gripped a padd with both hands. The president didn’t want his counterpart to know that anyone else was in the room. But Martin wanted to make sure that Logan heard everything first hand, in order to better fashion a response.
The gray, austere Romulan glared at him. “It appears that the bombings were caused by Benzite partisans, those who have taken up arms against the lawful government of Benzar. Partisans who support our vacating the Benzite system; a position your administration supports.”
Martin avoided flicking his gaze to his subordinate. Had Starfleet Intelligence’s plan gone awry like he had feared? Had their culpability been discovered? Was Hiren holding cards he wasn’t showing yet, seeking to get Santiago to expose his role in the unfolding tragedy?
All these thoughts rushed through his head. This attack could be related to Logan’s labyrinthine schemes or it could have been the result of uncontrollable factors. The president, hoping the latter was the case, decided to play it cool.
“While I have made no secret of my desire that Romulan forces leave the Benzite system, I have also advocated that it is up to the Benzite people-and them alone-to make that determination,” Santiago said, “I don’t condone violence and I abhor terrorism.”
“Then you will have no problem in issuing a joint condemnation of this terroristic action?” Hiren asked, raising one eyebrow, in predatory anticipation. Movement from Logan did catch Martin’s eye this time. His gaze shifted enough to see Logan batting down the idea with a vociferous head nod.
“Of course I will,” the president said, ignoring his chief-of-staff. He could feel the heat blowing from the man’s ears, but Martin ignored that too. Santiago knew why Logan was so against the move. Both he and Hiren doubtless thought it would cause divisions between the Federation and the partisans. Both men thought that the president had been backed into a corner.
Hiren nodded with approval. “And with the present threat to Romulan civilians and military personnel on Benzar, you can surely understand the need to increase our military presence there, to safeguard our own interest as well as to protect the Benzite populace.”
Logan was purple with rage. But Santiago didn’t allow his unease to show. “I don’t think that would be advisable, unless the Chief Magistrate makes a formal request.”
“I see,” Hiren replied, glancing off screen. Martin’s stomach tightened. The praetor is up to something, he realized.
“Incoming transmission sir,” a disembodied voice rumbled from hidden overhead speakers.
“Go on,” Santiago said, maintaining eye contact with Hiren the whole time. The scenes of devastation disappeared, replaced by the personage of Chief Magistrate Merva. The president dipped his head respectfully.
The Benzite woman did likewise. “How are you doing Merva?” Santiago asked. “How are things on Merria?”
“The situation remains dire,” she intoned, “and that is why I am informing you that I am requesting the assistance graciously offered by Praetor Hiren.”
“Merva…Chief Magistrate,” Santiago switched to a more formal stance. “I cannot allow a Romulan military buildup in Federation space.”
“The Praetor has assured me that warbirds will only accompany relief vessels,” Merva replied.
“That is correct,” Hiren chimed in. Martin frowned. The severe man was practically beaming, “As well as a small additional force to bolster Benzite efforts to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly crime to justice.”
“As a member state, we can provide all of the assistance you require,” Santiago offered.
“I don’t doubt that Martin,” Merva’s countenance softened a little. “But I don’t think it would be advisable to have a heavy Federation presence within Benzite space right now. Feelings are very raw, passions are running high, and rumors are rampant.”
“What are you saying Merva?” The president pressed. “I know that the Benzite people can’t believe that the Federation would have anything to with this.”
“Right now, there are many who don’t know what to believe,” Merva said bluntly.
“And what do you think?” Santiago asked, just as pointedly.
“It doesn’t matter what I think,” the chief magistrate skillfully dodged. “My primary concern is insuring that we save as many lives as possible right now and prevent similar tragedies in the future.”
“You really think ceding your planet to the Romulans is going to do that?” Santiago couldn’t help himself. The woman’s delusion had ripped off his scabbed over frustrations.
“The Romulans are merely helping us,” Merva shot back. “A lot of Romulan citizens perished in this attack.”
“One that could be considered an act of war,” Hiren ominously intoned. Martin wouldn’t give the man the satisfaction of seeing that threat faze him.
“A lot of Federation citizens, Benzite and non-Benzite also perished,” the president said.
“And I will allow one Starfleet vessel to travel to Benzar to retrieve any Federation citizen who wishes to leave,” the chief magistrate offered.
“Just one?” Santiago pushed. “You’re practically inviting the entire Romulan Imperial Fleet to your doorstep but we can only send one ship to addressed the needs of all of our citizens?!”
“It is our calculation that the number of non-Benzite citizens who would likely depart, including High Commissioner McCall, can fit comfortably aboard one of the fleet’s larger vessels.” The chief magistrate reasoned.
“There are far more Romulan civilians and military personnel than that on Benzar,” Hiren added.
“The praetor is correct,” Merva nodded.
“I will accede to your wishes, even though I don’t agree,” Santiago said. “I will order Starfleet Command to send one ship to Benzar to retrieve our citizens and render any aid you require. The ship will also ferry our replacement for Commissioner McCall because we are firmly committed to the negotiation process.”
“I assure you that we will not need any additional assistance,” Merva replied. "Though we will graciously accept your new envoy."
“Well just in case you change your mind,” the president rejoined.
“It is unlikely,” Hiren spoke up. Merva’s barbells twitched at the intrusion, but the woman said nothing.
“Perhaps,” Santiago said, “Though by my estimation we already have one starship in Benzar space. Please accept my offer to enlist it to help pursue the culprits.”
“Our forces can provide enough aid,” the praetor replied.
“Your forces are not yet in place,” Martin’s tone was steely. “And time is of the essence.”
“President Santiago is correct,” Merva said. Martin was pleased to see a momentary glower from his Romulan counterpart. Now Hiren said nothing.
“Your assistance is most welcome,” the Benzite leader added. Martin nodded gravely but inside was mollified. The Romulan had overplayed his hand, speaking for Merva, and the woman had bucked back, asserting her independence, as Santiago reasoned that she might. His joy at trumping Hiren was dampened by the scenes of destruction and carnage playing on a repeating loop in his mind.
“Further I will redirect several starships to the rim of Benzite space, where they will set up patrols to make sure that none of these terrorists seek to escape justice by hiding in another area of Federation space,” Santiago added.
“That is acceptable, as long as those ships’ commanders understand that they are not to enter Benzite space without my authorization,” Merva said. Santiago nodded. Hiren glowered again.
“Of course,” the president remarked, and dipped his head again in respect. “Merva, and truly you have my deepest condolences.”
“Thank you Martin,” the woman likewise nodded. “Now I must continue attending to the needs of my people.”
After the screen had shifted back to the split screen, with Hiren and scenes from Merria, the Romulan praetor glared at him. Martin held the man’s gaze. Both took the others’ measure, both gained new insights, and a dawning respect.
“Mister President,” Hiren said eventually.
“Praetor,” Santiago replied evenly.
“Until next time,” The Romulan’s mouth curved upwards slightly.
“Yes,” was all Santiago could think to say. His counterpart vanished, his face replaced by the fascistic symbol of the Star Empire, a raptor clutching Romulus and Remus within its talons.
Logan leapt out of his seat. “How could you go along with that?”
Martin turned to him coolly, “I just stanched the goddamned bleeding.” The words stopped the apoplectic subordinate. “Now sit back down and tell me you are going to take care of the rest!”
|June 2 2013, 10:12 AM||#82|
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)
I think this last segment allowed a pretty clear picture of the situation of Benzar and perhaps it's future. The Federation is clearly on the back foot here and at this point it would take a minor miracle to avoid losing the world to the Romulans. Merva has obviously hitched her wagon to the Praetor.
We'll have to see if Logan and Section 31 can turn this around. Considering their track record, I'm not overly optimistic.
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