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Pawns All Around

Posted on Aug 31, 2017 @ 9:36pm by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Aug 31, 2017 @ 9:36pm

Mission: The Romulan Way

“Pawns All Around”
(Continued from “Hands Dirty”)

=/\=

Location: USS PHOENIX
SD: [2.17]0826.2345
Scene: Deck 12, Corridor

Eve took long, quick strides towards the turbolift as a rush of adrenaline filled her body. She’d been in her office, keeping a previous appointment- trying to preserve at least a semblance of normalcy was important here- but all that fell away as the ship delved into a Red Alert.

If her understanding from the previous briefing was correct, the alert happened just as the ship was due to arrive at AZRI DRAKARA II. Had they been lured into a trap? Had the planet already been terraformed without Senate knowledge? Just what the hell was happening? Those questions, and a few others, had prompted a near sprint to get to the Bridge.

The door swooshed open, and Kass stood there, a grim, gritty look on her face. Upon recognizing the Counsellor was there, her expression softened. “Goin’ mah way?” she asked slyly.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Eve said with equal sarcasm as she took her place next to the MCO. “What are you expecting when we get up there?”

Kassandra shrugged. “Somethin’ I’d be tempted to explode the hell outta, I s’pose. Iff’n it’s a threat to the ship, I don’t want no part of it.”

“Maybe the Captain is just being careful?” Eve offered, and the Major made a noise in return like a doubtful grunt.

“Ain’t him I’m worryin’ about,” Kassandra said darkly.

“Jake, you mean?” Eve looked askance at the other woman.

“Mmm. Perfect 10 is too nice, too much of a thinkin’ man, I worry that if it comes down ta needin’ action, he might become paralyzed an’ get too caught up in tryin’ to analyze the situation, insteada actin’. ‘Specially if the Captain’s still over on that thing when it comes down ta it. So that’s also why I’m goin’ up there, ta give him a kick in the tail ta just act, even if it means the Cap’n bites it.”

“I rather think Captain Kane won’t appreciate that,” Eve tried not to smile.

“I rather think the Cap’n would understand. He’d do the same if it were any of us. Not, mind, that killin’ us is the first option, but still. He’s utilitarian.”

Dalziel raised her eyebrow. “Thanks for the insight. I needed that.”

Kass smiled a little, despite the uncertainty of what they were headed into. She could always count on Eve’s pragmatism. “I know ya did.”


=/\=

Scene: Bridge

Jake fiddled with the armrest at the Command chair. He guessed it had been maybe a half an hour since Kane, Nevar, and the rest of the entourage had left the ship for the mysterious station positioned in between them and the planet. He looked down at the chronometer and realized it had only been fourteen minutes. Waiting was a son of a bitch, he decided.

The hub of the vessel’s operating systems was oddly quiet, everyone seemingly focused on the tempest they were in the middle of. Under normal conditions, the crew would probably be discussing their options, despite the fact that those were quite limited, in light of their surroundings. Unfortunately, the audience of remaining Romulan officials made that impossible, and uncomfortable. So far, other than some of those now on the station, it was Jemasun Tor who had voiced something to the effect of support for the War Hawk faction, or at the very least an understanding of their point of view.

With Chevet, the Praetor, and Nevar on the station, that left Aurelia Dak, Oloth, Ael Velal, and Jemasun Tor as wards of the ship, so to speak. Their faces were masks of discomfort; they unintentionally mirrored the concerned expressions of the Bridge staff. **This is not going to work,** he thought, ruffling his hand through his close cropped hair.

Then the turbolift opened, seemingly louder than it had ever sounded before. Jake craned his neck as Kass and Eve entered. The Major’s expression didn’t change too much as she took in the scene and the viewscreen display with her sensor nets. The Counsellor looked less neutral, her gray eyes widening at being utterly surrounded by foreign vessels before trying to ask an intelligent question and failing miserably. “Commander?” was all she could get out.

Jake stood up, his mind suddenly working faster than whatever was transpiring beyond the confines of the PHOENIX. He had an idea. “Lieutenant Dalziel, could you please escort our guests to the conference room, so that they can be kept more comfortable until the away team returns?” Crichton then turned to them and slapped the best diplomatically relaxed look he could muster on his face for their benefit. “I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused,” he offered.

Jemasun stepped forward, her lithe frame graceful and her demeanor unruffled. “With all due respect, Commander, how can we see what’s going on if you have us sequestered?” she asked sharply.

“We can emulate the viewscreen through the conference table display,” Tomas offered from the helm without being prompted. He still felt responsible for his charge, even though he didn’t fully trust her. “You would be seeing the same view, in projection form.”

“Would that be amenable?” Jake asked, trying not to sound beleaguered.

Jemasun looked at both men, finally resting her gaze on the FCO. Tomas wasn’t sure but he thought he could see a shred of compromise behind her stare. “Yes,” she answered.

“Make it happen,” Jake said to Vukovic, as Eve ushered the remaining delegates to a place that would allow both groups some privacy.


=/\=

Scene: Conference Room

Eve studied the three women and one man who were now her companions, realizing she didn’t get a proper explanation of what had happened once they arrived at the Baelorn inhabited planet. Jake wasn’t in a position to provide one, and it was more necessary to diffuse the tension than it was for her to get the details. As Tomas had promised, the center of the long conference table showed a detailed doppleganger of the disheartening view from the Bridge: the lone Federation flagship enveloped by Romulan ships, with a large station and the planet in the foreground.

“Does anyone need something to eat or drink?” It was not the first question she wanted to ask, but it was protocol. Other than Tribune Tor, the others had not spoken since Eve had arrived on the Bridge.

“I appreciate your courtesy,” Oloth said, sinking into a nearby chair. “Perhaps some water?”

Eve replicated a tray, pitcher of water and enough glasses for the group, bringing them to the table. She was going to ask for their points of view on what happened, but they began talking, beating her to the punch.

“Courtesy?” Jemasun asked with thinly veiled contempt. “Subterfuge is my guess.”

The younger statesman groused, grasping a glass from Eve. “We must leave them be to allow them to do their jobs, as pointless as that might be.”

“Like we knew anything of this?” Aurelia Dak said softly. “But I can only speak for myself,” she continued, glaring at Jemasun.

The older woman gave it right back to her. “D’era cannot be served if we do not survive,” Tor said with a plaintive fervor.

Oloth set his glass down forcefully. “Survival is imperative, but at what cost does our goal become a reality? If we keep our lives but lose ourselves in the process, how can that be anything but a toxin to the Romulan people?”

“You’ve spent too much time with your paintings and ancient tomes,” Tor scoffed.

The white haired man stood, walking a few feet away from the table, almost pacing. “And you’ve spent too much time looking forward to remember how we got to this place. We must not repeat past mistakes.”

“Jemasun, Oloth, please. All of this matters little until the Praetor and the others return.”

Eve had taken a seat, attempting to act as unobtrusive as possible, and it dawned on her that the youngest Senator, Ael Velal, was doing the same thing, watching the other three with great interest. This was not in character for her. While engrossed in her storytelling session with Oloth, the Counsellor hadn’t remembered what Velal had said to Kass while they were in the Capitol, but her giddiness and verbosity were noticeable in a room full of more staid politicians. That was in stark contrast to her behavior now. Stress affected people differently, but it made Eve reconsider the alliances of their guests.

While their contingent of seven visitors was not the full Council, Eve found herself trying to pinpoint which camp they belonged to: that of the War Hawks, or that of the Praetor? Nevar was clearly a hawk, and Tor’s statements appeared to be in support of him. Chevet played the part of the loyal assistant to Praetor Radaik, so even though he could be covert, Eve had to place him in the Praetor’s camp. Oloth also appeared to be of an opposing mindset to the hawks.

Aurelia Dak had a gentle nature which concealed which side she was rooting for. She was behaving as a moderator between Oloth and Tor, and while that did not define a specific side, it did show she was in favor of a peaceful resolution. That only left Ael Velal.

“Do you have an opinion on these proceedings, Senator Velal?” the Cardassian born woman asked simply.

“While victory for our people in all things is part of D’era, I cannot say the same thing of conflict,” she said stoically.

“How can you expect to win if you refuse to fight?” Jemasun replied. “Have you forgotten your training?”

Velal winced. “Perhaps I am considering it is possible to win without causing another to lose.”

“Nevar will hear of this sacrilege!” Jemasun’s voice was strident. But was Velal changing sides, or merely expressing a long held opinion?

The younger woman’s eyes were alight with frustration, but she took a deep breath before responding in a dark but even tone. “And the Tal Shiar will hear of his insolence.”


=/\=
NRPG: Thank you Alix for your input!

So yes, Ael Velal is a Tal Shiar agent. Whether there are any connections elsewhere is up to all of you.

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Cns
USS PHOENIX

 

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