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Nächste Zréck

Posted on May 31, 2017 @ 3:42pm by Lieutenant Cantor Von
Edited on on May 31, 2017 @ 3:43pm

Mission: The Romulan Way

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"Nächste Zréck"
(cont'd from "Creepy Crawlies" written by the spectacular Justin Owens)

- Translation from Luxembourgish: "Coming Return"

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LOCATION: Exterior of the USS PHOENIX, docked at Starbase 56
SD: [2.17]0531.0705
SCENE: Secondary Hull

"Yes, Commander. The secondary EPS chain was disconnected by Ensign Ryan at least an hour ago. We've bled the remaining plasma into the capacitors 38 through 52. Von out."

Ensign Cantor Von stood along the organic curve of the PHOENIX's secondary hull as he turned his attention back to a group of worker bees withdrawing four banks of auxiliary batteries from the starship. The violet Dominion-esque glow of the PHOENIX's nacelles seem to give everything a purple sheen. About 50 meters out away from the hull an identical set of batteries waited with their own worker bees to replace the ones being pulled out. The auxiliary batteries were large grey-metal boxes approximately three meters per side with inlay circuitry on every conceivable surface. The Chief Operations Officer heard his breathing in his helmet as he watched the zero-g ballet play out before him.

Further down the hull, near the battery access points, Ensign Ryan stood with her tricorder out, scanning the departing batteries. [[I see it now,]] she said over the comm channel. [[The EPS connectors are riddled with micro-fractures. Asta, can you check in the compartments for any stray debris?]]

[[Doing it now, Lynnette.]]

Von could see the other engineering officer at the very last access panel begin scanning with her own tricorder. "Don't take too long, Ensign Elgin. We'll be departing for the Neutral Zone in a couple of hours. The Captain wants all exterior engineering work done in two."

[[Yes, Lieutenant.]]

[[Lieutenant, have you every been to the Neutral Zone?]] asked Ryan's voice.

"Me? No, never been." Von blinked within his helmet, his expression neutral as if trying to convince himself that six years of his life hadn't changed him as a person.

[[Ever meet a Romulan?]]

Von drew in a deep breath of recycled air. "You could say that."

---

LOCATION: Space near Gateway Station, Gamma Quadrant
SCENE: Empty Space
TIME INDEX: Six Years Ago

Vivid starlight speckled the ebony curtain of deep space, peaceful, tranquil, and without disturbance of any kind.

In a blink of an eye, space tore itself open, disgorging a Starfleet vessel as it returned to real space. Moments after, the stars in one area of space wavered and materialized into an emerald, hawk-like vessel - much smaller than its Federation counterpart. The two starships seem to gaze at each other in the middle of deeps space, two ships from very different governments, with very different ideals and values.

After a minute, the Starfleet vessel turned away from the Romulan scout ship with almost angelic grace and transitioned to warp speed in a flurry of light and energy. Another heartbeat passed, then the hawk-like vessel turned itself and wavered into nothingness.

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex
SCENE: Transporter Alcove
TIME INDEX: Six Years Ago

Four Starfleet officers stood on all four pads in the transporter alcove of the RIS T'Korex. Around them the dark green metal seemed to be burnished with a darker grey metal, changing color depending on viewing angle and lighting. A subtle sweet scent seem surround them. The transporter alcove was just an indentation of what seemed to be the main hallway of the small vessel. Standing opposite the four Starfleet officers were four Romulan officers, their iridescent utility uniforms casting muted reflections. The Romulan officer standing at the forefront nodded to his Federation counterparts.

"Welcome. I am Sub-Commander Nevar of the Romulan Star Empire." He looked down at the Romulan version of a PADD and began to read, his speech heavily accented. "We are looking forward to co...cooperation in this operation-"

Lieutenant Cantor Von interrupted him, causing worried looks to spread among the other Romulan crew present. "Sub-Commander, apologies, but our universal translators seem not to be working," he said, indicating his comm badge.

"And they will not," offered a female Romulan officers in accented Standard. "I am Centurion D'mara, Chief Engineer of the T'korex. Our vessel has been outfitted to maintain and process as much reconnaissance data as possible. In doing so, many...less important systems were required to be removed."

"Well, that's brilliant," commented Lt. Gerald McKey with his Irish accent. He looked at Von. "So, how's your Romulan?"

Von waved off the comment. "I see," he replied, black eyes surveying the Romulans before him. "In that case, Sub-Commander, your Federation Standard is excellent. We appreciate the warm welcome."

The CO of the T'Korex nodded, as the other Romulans wore cautious expressions on their face. "Centurion D'Mara will show you and your fellow officers to your..." he paused, looking for the words. "...Living areas."

"" replied Von in Romulan. The Sub-Commander nodded with an unimpressed look.

As the Starfleet officers followed the Romulan Centurion down the corridor, McKey leaned over to Von. "You know Romulan?" he asked in a whisper.

"I know 'thank you,'" the Betazoid replied, smiling at the Irishman's eye roll.

"This ought to be fun," stated McKey, shaking his head.

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex, Deep in Gamma Quadrant Space
SCENE: Recreation Room
TIME INDEX: Between five and six years ago

Cantor Von blocked D'Mara's first kick and parried her second kick, but missed the knife-hand strike that struck his jaw and sent him harshly into the padded floor with a grunt. By the Chalice, they were strong. Like their Vulcan brethren, Romulans had the same strength that was superior to most other races. And D'Mara, like any other Romulan, was no exception. She helped him up as he tasted blood in his mouth.

"So this is your vaunted Starfleet Martial Arts, I take it?" the Chief Engineer spoke in accented Standard. "It did not fare well against its superior Romulan counterpart."

Von wiped the blood from his lip, glanced at it, and looked back to her. "It's a little unfair considering the strength difference."

D'Mara laughed. "Strength should only be a minor part of the tactical equation, Cantor Von! Have you not studied Andorian Kharakom or Vegan Tosharra?"

Von blinked. "No, I'm not Andorian or Vegan."

"Ah, you've not been blooded," D'Mara replied, nodding understanding.

"Blooded? I've been in combat before, Centurion D'Mara."

"In personal combat?"

"No," replied Von. "It was an engagement at Alpha N-"

"Then you have not been blooded. Does Starfleet not have that custom?" she asked, genuinely curious.

"We're not a military orga-"

"Yes, yes," she interrupted. "Federation propaganda is used as comedy in the Star Empire, so I am familiar with its usual fiction." She thought for a moment. "The Sub-Commander ordered me to teach you something about the Romulan culture." She nodded, thoughtfully. "I now know what that contribution will be."

---

TIME INDEX: One hour later

Cantor Von stood in his light work out clothes with what seemed to be green-colored metal plating strapped to to his forearms, upper arms, thighs, shins, and sides of his torso. He also wore a Romulan security helmet. D'Mara stood only in what she had been wearing previously, a light-red form-fitting tunic made of thin cloth.

"Cantor Von, as you have not been blooded in personal combat, I will grant you the honor of learning one of the many martial arts of the Romulan Star Empire. The name of this art is Kormerek. This is a very direct and violent martial art, one that many Romulans view as less than....," she said the last word in Romulan, after failing to find the correct word in Federation Standard. "The goal of this martial art is to strike nerve clusters, break joints, and shatter bones."

The Betazoid started unstrapping some of his metal protection. "Yeah, that's not happening."

D'Mara blinked. "What are you doing, Cantor Von?"

Von looked up, disbelief in his eyes. "We just had this talk about your superior strength, and now you want me to practice a martial art with you that has, as one of its goals, to break the bone." The Betazoid laughed. "We may have comedic propaganda, but we're not stupid, D'Mara. I like my bones and joints in their original state, thank you very much."

D'Mara approached Von and put her hand over his, stopping the disassembly of his ad hoc body armor. "Are you afraid?"

He looked directly into her eyes. "Of getting my bones broken? Yes. Very much so."

She sighed. "Cantor Von, my intent is not to harm you. I am specifically teaching you Kormerek because it is looked down upon by most Romulans - and thus rare - and because it is the application of leverage and motion, rather than brute strength, that drives this martial art. I believe that this style would be most beneficial to you in the future." She helped Von put the body plating back on. "This protection is merely an additional layer of security for you."

She stood up and went back to her original position. "Besides, our medical center has been loaded with very comprehensive skeleton reconstruction techniques for Betazoids."

Von looked at her with a deadpan expression. "Was that a joke, D'Mara?"

She smiled. "Let us begin with the basic maneuver of Kormerek. It is known as Durasha. It translates to roughly 'fist smash' in Federation Standard."

Cantor Von took a deep breath.

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex, Deep in Gamma Quadrant Space
SCENE: Command Area
TIME INDEX: Five Years Ago

Cantor Von stormed onto what served as a bridge of the T'Korex, still dressed in native garb with Lt. McKey and Ensign Ledder behind them.

"," Von fumbled the Romulan words and switched to Federation Standard. "Just what in the hells were you thinking? You could have gotten my team killed!"

Sub-Commander Nevar turned to face the Starfleet officers, his face a mask of calm detachment. Other officers in the Command Area looked startled at the loud outburst directed toward their Commanding Officer.

""

"In Standard, Nevar. I want no misunderstanding," interrupted the Betazoid.

Taking a beat to calm himself, the Romulan CO began again. "Lt. Von, we had to retrieve your mission for fear of discovery-"

"We could have escaped that alley. You could have beamed us out. How in the Sacred Chalice's name did you-"

"There was a scattering field," Nevar stated, raising his voice. "And a Jem'Hadar vessel had just attained orbit." He took a step toward Von. "Our primary mission is secrecy, Mr. Von, or did you forget that?"

"We are not disposable," replied McKey through gritted teeth, his Irish accent thick.

"Our mission comes first," countered Nevar.

"Go hifreann leat!" shouted McKey after which Von put a hand on his shoulder. The Irishman looked at Von. "Bloody hell, Cant, he-"

"I know." His dark eyes met McKey's grey eyes.

"The bast-"

"I know."

"Then why-"

"There was a Jem'Hadar ship in orbit, Gerry."

McKey shook his head. "Still-"

"Come on, Gerry, that's good enough reason. You know it."

"As I said-" started the Sub-Commander, but Von cut him off.

"While I agree with your orders, Sub-Commander, a little more communication would have been nice. I agree secrecy is our primary mission, but not between us," he gestured largely at himself and Nevar. "Continue that lack of communication and our little operation will end real fast, wouldn't it?"

Silence permeated the Command Area for several heart beats. "" replied Nevar in Romulan. ""

"" replied Von.

"" nodded the Sub-Commander.

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex, Deep in Gamma Quadrant Space
SCENE: Engineering Section
TIME INDEX: Four Years Ago

"
Cantor Von stumbled into the Engineering Section of the T'Korex as panels sparked around him. White vapor poured from several pipes as the artificial gravity wavered. Another shockwave from a Jem'Hadar spatial charge slammed into the Romulan scout ship, rocking it violently.

Centurion D'Mara looked up from her console. "" she replied, nodding toward Ensign Ledder.

"" replied the Betazoid over the rumble of another spatial charge. He leapt over a fallen gantry and made his way toward the sophisticated-looking pedestal in a secluded alcove of the Engineering Section. There, Uhlan T'Met looked up in panic.

""

Von cut him off. "" When the enlisted Romulan hesitated, the Betazoid's voice crackled across his mind. ** Shocked, the T'Met stumbled back.

Nevar's voice came across the intercom as Von's fingers danced across the cloaking device console. [[]]

"I'm working on it, Sub-Commander," Von replied in Standard

[[
"Restoring core containment. I'll be re-initializing the cloak matrix momentarily. Standby for evasive action."

There was the briefest of pauses. [[Acknowledged, Lieutenant. Helm is standing by,]] Nevar replied in Standard.

Cantor Von watched as the simulated field symmetry on the display before him began to realign into a cohesive whole. "" He instantly felt the inertial dampeners waver as the T'Korex took a series of evasive actions, taking full advantage of their re-initialized cloaking field. Von leaned back against the bulkhead to catch his breath, as Uhlan T'met glanced between him and the display.

[[]] announced Nevar. [[
The Chief Engineer entered the Cloaking Device alcove with Ensign Ledder in tow. ""

[[]]

Finally Uhlan T'Met spoke. ""

"" ordered Centurion D'Mara.

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex, Deep in Gamma Quadrant Space
SCENE: Engineering Section
TIME INDEX: Three Years Ago

D'Mara's callused hands brushed across the growing stubble on Von's face and through his sweat dampened black hair. The two lay in a cramped maintenance tunnel draped in a rescue tarp, breathing hard after a rather vigorous love-making session.

They let the bliss wash over them until D'Mara's thoughts spoke in Von's mind, her Federation Standard feeling natural in its use. *Why do you serve the Federation?*

Von propped himself on one elbow to turn to her. *That was random.*

*It does not stay at the front of your mind?* she inquired.

*No, not usually.*

She nodded. *And that is why the Romulan Star Empire will eventually defeat the Federation.*

Von smiled, caressing her porcelain cheek. *Are you declaring war already? I surrender.*

D'Mara laid back down. *You mock me.*

*No. No, D'Mara. Listen, it's just that our two peoples aren't at war.*

*Did you know that the word 'war' in Federation Standard has no direct translation in Romulan? There are about fifteen different words that express different variations of that singular Federation concept.* She turned toward him. *Our Empire - our Praetor's singular purpose - is to expand the Empire in both space and knowledge. For the Empire, we are still at war with the Federation - we are just temporarily suspending it. In Federation Standard, you would call it 'peace'.*

Von paused. *Well...that's a rather nihilistic view. You do know there's no endgame in such a philosophy. It's pretty much expand or die trying.*

D'Mara nodded. *Just so. And that concept is at the forefront of every Romulan's mind, whether in the Empire's military service or outside of it. That is why the Federation will eventually be defeated.* Von smiled. *What?* she asked, frowning

*There's an inherent design flaw in that philosophy - to borrow an engineering term. It breeds a monolithic culture and resource pool. How many other races in the Empire do the Romulans consider equals?*

*None.*

Von nodded. *And that's the problem. While we may not hold a singular philosophy like the Empire does, our diversity multiplies our strength. And that's a powerful multiplier.* The Betazoid laid back. *And I'm sure that's why the Praetor has allowed four Starfleet officers to accompany you on this mission.*

D'Mara frowned. *Our technological level is just as advanced as the Federations-*

*But is it?* Von cut in. *You're an engineer. You know the origins of most of your technologies. Sure, some were designed originally by the Empire, but think of all the innovations and advancements that the Empire has 'adopted' from the Federation. Be honest.*

Von saw various technological schematics and concepts stream across her mind until her defenses slammed shut. She thought nothing in return.

The Betazoid gave D'Mara a knowing look with his dark ebony eyes. *'Expand forever' is not a viable goal. Like all things in the universe, equilibrium will eventually enforce its presence.*

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex, Deep in Gamma Quadrant Space
SCENE: Command Area
TIME INDEX: Two Years Ago

A wireframe representation of a large Jem'Hadar station rotated on the main display as most of the crew of the T'Korex watched in silence. As always, it was McKey that broke the silence.

""

Ensign Thraan, the fourth Starfleet officer and an Andorian, tapped away at a nearby console. Outside the viewport the rotating vortex of a wormhole shimmered through the lens of the cloaking field. ""

"" ordered Sub-Commander Nevar.

"" replied Sub-Lieutenant Lovex.

McKey nodded toward the display. ""

Suzanne Ledder looked up from her own console. " Von stepped by her side to look at the data.

"Let's see where this wormhole leads," Von said under his breath.

"" announced Ledder.

"" ordered Nevar.

A gravely voice emerged from the static over the Command Area's audio system, punctuated with harsh syllables.

D'Mara spoke up immediately. ""

"Damnú air," swore McKey. ""

"" echoed Von in a whisper.

"
""

""

The Command Area exploded into action as everyone ran to their combat stations.

""

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex, Deep in Gamma Quadrant Space
SCENE: Engineering Section
TIME INDEX: One Year Ago

"Our current route is going to take forever." Lt. McKey gritted his teeth after taking sip of his warm kali-fal. "The Dominion forces could actually greet us on the other side of the Bajoran wormhole. I'm telling you, mate, we should have gone through the Beta Wormhole," he said, using the name they had agreed on for the newly discovered wormhole.

" Von switched to Standard. "Come on, who knows what was on the other side of the wormhole."

"It was a bloody Klingon transmission-"

"That could have been flying through space for decades," interrupted Von. "We've been over this time and again. It's not proof that the farside terminus is in the Beta Quadrant."

McKey cocked his head. "Then why the build up of Dominion forces? The Founders like studying wormholes with massive battlefleets, do they?"

They stopped talking as Sub-Commander Nevar walked into the Engineering Section with Centurion D'Mara in tow.

Von nodded at the Commanding Officer. ""

The Betazoid already sensed something was wrong as sadness bled through Nevar's natural mental defenses. As if to emphasize this, both fear and sadness emanated from D'Mara. "
""

McKey looked from Nevar to Von and back. " bloody
""

"" Von paused to form the proper Romulan words. "
D'Mara spoke up. ""

Nevar continued for her. ""

"
Nevar shook his head. "" He looked up at the Betazoid. ""

---

LOCATION: Space near Gateway Station, Gamma Quadrant
SCENE: Empty Space
TIME INDEX: Ten Months Ago

The oval immensity of a Galaxy-class starship blurred into existence followed shortly by the decloaking of first a Romulan warbird and then - tiny compared to the two hulking goliaths - the decloaking of the RIS T'Korex. It's once flawless emerald hull was scorched in countless of places, with parts of other technology mounted across the hull at points that had sustained heavy damage.

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex
SCENE: Transporter Alcove
TIME INDEX: Ten Months Ago

"" announced Uhlan D'Vren from the wall panel. Next to her, Centurion D'Mara looked up from her PADD.

""

The Commanding Officer of the T'Korex nodded. "" He then addressed the four Starfleet officers as they stood in the transporter alcove with belongings in hand. "" He then switched to Federation Standard. "Unfortunately, Lieutenant Von, it looks like things are getting....worse in the Federation." He reached out and clasped the Betazoid's hand in a very human gesture. "Without you, our missions would have failed. That is why I and this entire crew owe you and your fellow Starfleet officers a debt of gratitude. Jolan tru, Cantor."

Von smiled in sadness, nodding. "Jolan tru, Nevar."

"Look at that, his Federation Standard was great all along," laughed McKey. He, too, shook the Sub-Commander's hand. "Jolan tru, Sub-Commander."

"Jolan tru."

D'Mara stepped forward, embracing Cantor Von. Their lips met, then pressed more intensely, their passion evident to the silent crew that looked on. One of Nevar's eyebrows raised. After too short a time, their lips parted, but eyes continued their feelings.

"Jolan tru, D'Mara," whispered Cantor Von.

"Jolan tru." She stepped away from the alcove. There was a moment of silence between the assembled Romulan crew and four Starfleet officers until Sub-Commander Nevar nodded toward the Uhlan at the wall panel.

"."

Shimmering columns of sparkling energy engulfed the four Starfleet officers as they dematerialized. As suddenly as the energy had appeared it was gone, leaving empty spaces where the four officers had been.

"Good bye, my friends. Safe travels," whispered the Commanding Officer of the T'Korex.

---

LOCATION: RIS T'Korex
SCENE: Living Area
TIME INDEX: Ten Months Ago

Centurion D'Mara approached her Commanding Officer as Nevar laid back in his bunk reading a book. He lowered the book, sensing her presence. "
"" she paused, gathering her strength. ""

Nevar frowned. "" he paused suddenly, realization dawning on him. Silence hung heavy between them until he spoke again, his voice much lower in volume. "
Tears formed in the Centurion's eyes.

""

---

LOCATION: Exterior of the USS PHOENIX, docked at Starbase 56
SCENE: Secondary Hull

Von watched as the new auxiliary batteries were maneuvered into position.

[[What were they like?]]

The Betazoid blinked in his helmet. "What - say again, Ryan?"

[[The Romulans. What were they like?]]

Von chuckled. "They vary as much as any other race, Lynnette. They're culture has a martial bent, to be sure, but, then again, so does ours?"

[[The Federation? I don't think it has a martial bent.]]

"And what is Starfleet, Ensign?"

[[It's an exploration service.]]

Grinning, Von's space-suited arm gestured toward the vessel they stood magnetically-latched to. "You're standing on a warship, Ryan, arguably the most powerful warship in this Quadrant. Those batteries," his gloved hand pointed at the auxiliary batteries as they lowered into position, "aren't used to power the sensors. Our mere presence at the Neutral Zone is a martial statement."

[['Don't mess with us?']]

"Precisely."

[[How do you think the Romulans will take it?]]

"Romulans pride themselves with the accumulation of information and fierce determination. I'm sure they will have already thought up many courses of actions to our arrival at the Neutral Zone. Then again, Starfleet isn't a slouch either."

[[So we're a chess piece?]]

"A big one, to be sure, but...yes, Ensign. A chess piece." Von felt a sudden vibration through the soles of his boot.

[[Batteries in place,]] announced Ensign Elgin.

Von nodded. "Okay, let's run a final diagnostic on each of these batteries and get the hull plates back on. Move it, people!"

---

NRPG: I'm not sure if Von's backstory in the Gamma Quadrant with the Romulans was fresh in everyone's mind, so I included it here. At the very least I'm sure it will inform how he interacts with the Romulans.

[/\]

Marko J. Sertic
aka
Lt. Cantor Von
Chief Operations Officer
USS PHOENIX

 

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