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The Romulan Way

Posted on Oct 08, 2017 @ 6:30am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Romulan Way


(Continued from "Disengage")

Captain's log, supplemental - while Nevar drips his poison into the ears of the Praetor, my staff and I have been taken to holding quarters. We are most anxious to find out what is going on - since Nevar revealed his plan to us, we have realised how close the Federation is to war with the Romulan Star Empire...


Location: USS Phoenix, Alpha Drakaris system
Stardate: [2.17]1007.2215
Scene: Main bridge - Deck 1, saucer section

Jake Crichton's heart was in his mouth, but then again, it seemed to have permanently moved in there lately. He was balling his sweat-slicked fists, nervously glancing around the bridge as he, the bridge crew, and the assembled Romulan senators all awaited an answer to the ultimatum that Ael Velal had delivered to them. With the Romulan squadron forcibly encloaked and their computer network hacked, everything was riding on common sense being the dominant emotion now. If the Romulan starships attacked the Phoenix and Shai'Dan, they would likely trigger a civil war.

Other than the sound of Lynette Ryan and Chaucer manipulating the console in order to keep the Romulan ships cloaked and their weapons inert, there was silence. A line had been drawn, and sixty precious seconds began to count down.

"What have you done?"

Jake felt like the question had come from his own conscience. Being a leader and having doubts weren't mutually exclusive, and besides that, he wasn't terribly fond of ultimatums either. Then he saw the female Tal Shiar agent turn and look at the other senators, gathered like crows in the doorway leading to the conference room, and he realised the query wasn’t from his imagination.

"Senator Oloth," Jake acknowledged, the older man's name sticking in his throat. "We have implemented a plan to secure the safe return of the Praetor and the members of our crew."

"You mean as in you and Senator Velal?" Oloth asked pointedly, as the other senators shared significant looks with one another.

"No, sir. I mean 'we' as in the Phoenix and the Shai’Dan." Oloth was wearing away at Jake’s resolve to be diplomatic, and he responded with a little more than an edge of frustration.

The older man's eyes darted between the familiar face of Ael Velal and the remaining bridge staff. "To what end? Do you wish to be the catalyst for a civil war?"

"That ain't on us, Senator!" Kass shot back. "Y'all think Nevar killin' the Praetor won't start one?"

"Easy, Major," Jake said, even though he fully agreed with the MCO, and she scowled.

Eve Dalziel stepped forward. "With respect, Senator Oloth, a civil war would be the least of your problems if the Captain or any of our officers were to be hurt."

The reluctant guest pondered what he had been told, stroking his goatee. "The games we all must play in the name of peace," he mused. "How sad it is when one finds not all the players are in favour of it. Apparently it was a much harder sell to the war hawk faction than we all suspected." He glared at Ael Velal. "How does that make you feel?"

The Tal Shiar agent crossed her arms, chin jutted out in defiance. "If the path to D'era was easy, none of this would be happening. If conflict is the direction we must take, then so be it."

"This is our shot to prevent that, remember?" Jake asserted, stepping into the centre of the conversation to take control of it. "And it's been taken, so there's no room for debate at this point. We are attempting to de-escalate this situation. The next move hangs on the commander of that Warbird squadron out there."

"Commander Crichton is correct," Ael Velal agreed, looking more pleased than she should. It was obvious she knew how much that vexed Oloth.

{{Commander, we are being hailed.}} Byte's even voice cut through the rhetoric. {{It is the commander of the Warbirds.}} The android looked at Jake, and everyone on the bridge looked at the android. {{The Romulans are agreeing to your terms, sir. They are powering down their weapons systems and asking Commander Jaron on the Shai'Dan for orders.}}

Relief swept around the bridge, and Jake couldn't help but smile. "A small victory," he nodded. "Put me in touch with the Shai'Dan. I'll be in the ready room."

He left behind several bemused, more relaxed, faces.


Location: Romulan Space Station
Scene: Holding quarters

Nobody had said anything. Both Cantor Von and Jasmine Yu knew well what was at stake here, and so did Michael Turlogh Kane. The starship Phoenix, and her fine crew, had become caught up in the internal politicking of the Romulan Star Empire. The power struggle between the war hawks and the Praetor had culminated in the revealing of this scheme - this amazing plot involving an artificial wormhole, a space station, and a weapon that was capable of eradicating all life on Earth. Worse still, the Praetor who had launched the peace initiative with the Federation was now giving ear to Nevar, the leader of the war hawk faction. If they were joining forces, then relations between the United Federation fo Planets and the Romulan Star Empire were about to collapse into devastating, apocalyptic war.

He briefly wondered how he and his crew kept getting into these messes. They never seemed to have routine missions that involved something simple, like charting nebulae of transporting diplomats - no, it was always something huge, with more weight attached than on the shoulders of Atlas.

A nice retirement, he thought to himself before the imperative asserted itself again. That's what I'll do. Rebuild Thomond, buy a boat and sail around Earth's oceans. Let someone else do the heavy lifting.

The door to the holding room grated open, admitting Nevar and the Praetor. They were accompanied by two guards, one male and one female, but the Praetor dismissed them with a wave of her hand, and stepped forward.

Kane watched with growing worry. The two Romulans - Nevar and the Praetor - wore the same business-like expression, obviously having come to a decision, but their body language didn't engender anything to be relieved about. Nevar seemed self-satisfied, and the Praetor - her eyes were hard like flints, and when she spoke, it was in a voice so hard she could have driven nails with it.

"Captain Kane, I am here to inform you that I have decided to use the weapon against your homeworld. Shortly afterward, our Neutral Zone fleet will cross the border and begin a general assault on Starfleet positions around Bolarus and Cait. The Romulan Star Empire will secure our dominance of the quadrant and a deal a mortal blow to the Federation. When our offensive begins, the entire galaxy will holds its breath and make no comment."

As Cantor Von and Jasmine Yu reacted with collective horror, Kane shook his head in dumb disbelief. "I cannot believe that you would be capable of such an act, Praetor Radaik. You are choosing to begin a treacherous war instead of an honourable peace, a peace that you yourself initiated."

She looked at him coldly. "I am, Captain Kane. Senator Nevar has been most persuasive. I see now that anything that weakens the Federation strengthens the Empire. While you are weak, we are strong, and I would be foolish not to use that strength. Peace has its place within D'era, but not when our mortal enemies are on their knees."

Kane looked from Delora Radaik to Nevar and back again, but saw nothing - no remorse, not uncertainty, no hesitation - only the famous Romulan aloofness, the cold arrogance that relegated all other sentient species to lesser beings. Delora Radaik either wasn't aware that there were forty billion people living on Earth, or worse, she knew all about them and just didn't care.

Nevar stepped forward, a note of triumph lilting in his otherwise harsh voice. "Come, Captain Kane. You and your officers may join the Praetor and I as the weapon is fired. It may a difficult thing for you to see, but you will bear witness to the dawning of a new age in the history of this quadrant."

The door grated open again and the guards appeared, their hands clapped to the disruptor pistols they were wearing at their hips. Delora Radaik wasted no time, striding away down the corridor, but Nevar held back, gesturing for Kane, Von, and Yu to move.

With no other options, Kane stepped forward and fell into line. Together, the group moved to the turbolift, heading back to the generator room, there to watch the destruction of Earth - the opening shot of the coming war.


Location: USS Phoenix, in-system
Scene: Captain's ready room - deck 1, saucer section

Jake Crichton was sitting down with Commander Jaron in the ready room. It was the first time he'd seen Jaron in the flesh since the Phoenix had crossed into Romulan space almost four months ago. There wasn't much in here to show the Romulan - Captain Kane kept both his living and work spaces in a near-Spartan state - but he'd nevertheless gone through most of the pleasantries customary to the situation. It had been plain to see that Jaron wanted to get straight to business, though. Eschewing the offer of something to drink, Jaron had drawn a PADD from his jacket and was scrolling down through it, mentally correlating all the information that had been given to them by the Warbird squadron's commanders.

"You were asking why no-one on the space station has reacted to - well, reached to that." Jaron gestured out through the ready room's viewing port, his hand encompassing the twelve Valdore-class Warbirds that hung outside in the Long Night. In the distance, the blue-green planet loomed, the space station visible against its backdrop. "It is because that all our scans confirm the claims of the individual squadron commanders - the space station is almost entirely automated. Life support, weapons systems, engineering - all controlled by the main computer. It is doubtful if any of the dozen-or-so personnel aboard the station are actually aware of what is taking place outside the structure itself. Their sole task is to monitor the forcefield that contains the artificial wormhole."

There was no reason to doubt the words of the Warbird commanders, Jake knew. "The squadron of Warbirds was supposed to be their eyes and ears," he said with a nod. "Interesting design - with so much power needed to contain the wormhole, the war hawks had to cut some corners in its construction."

"Quite so," agreed Jaron. "Now that the station's attached squadron has submitted to us, the occupants of the station are effectively blind. They are ripe for the harvesting."

"Nevar doesn't know how weak his position is," mused Jake thoughtfully. "He can't know, or he would have tried to fire his weapon again already. What about the Praetor and my people? We can't take a chance on their safety."

"We are of one mind in that, Commander Crichton." Jaron turned his PADD around to show Jake the screen - displayed was a schematic of the station's interior, downloaded from the databanks of the Warbird squadron. "You see these readouts here, and again here? The shield capability of the station is almost non-existent. The Phoenix and Shai'Dan could obliterate the station with our standard shipboard weapons complements." He zoomed the view in to the generator room - the location of the artificial wormhole. "The wormhole would collapse, and the terraforming beam would be destroyed."

"Leaving us with the problem of evacuating the station before we destroy it," nodded Jake. He paused for a moment, then grinned. "Commander Jaron, would you be interested in assisting me in the leading of a Starfleet Marine Corps squad in a boarding action? Our objectives would be to rescue the Praetor and our officers from the traitorous actions of Senator Nevar and any other war hawks. In the interests of peace and the security of the Empire, of course."

Jaron raised a Vulcan-esque eyebrow, but then a smile appeared on his green-tinged lips. "I would be honoured, Commander Crichton."

Jake touched a control on the chair's armrest. "Major Thytos, report to the ready room."

Together, Jake and Jaron turned to the viewport and looked out at the station. The game was afoot.


Location: Romulan space station
Scene: Power Core

Delora Radaik was watching carefully as Nevar stood at the main control console, keying instructions into the main computer. Kane, Von, and Yu stood helplessly nearby, covered by the disruptors of the Romulan guards.

"Praetor, don't do this," said Kane, a tinge of desperation in his voice. The artificial wormhole was rippling and snarling like a living thing, held fast behind its containment field. On the walls around it were the generators for the terraforming beam, ready to power up and fire the deadly weapon down through the wormhole, emerging into Earth orbit and obliterating the planet's surface. Nothing could be done by Starfleet to stop the beam - no fleet-based defence, no orbital counter-measure, no Starbase could stop something that would just appear out of thin air, originating half the quadrant away. "If you destroy the Earth, the war with the Federation will never end. Trillions of Humans across a hundred colony worlds will want revenge. You'll be committing the greatest act of genocide in history. Is that something you can live with?"

Delora Radaik chuckled and turned to face him. "I told you before, Captain. We Romulans are born to conquer, and the creation of this weapon system is too good an opportunity to miss. Devastating Terra will cripple Starfleet's command and control functions, allowing a Romulan offensive to sweep up the entire rimward border of the Federation. That is the strategic reality. Today, the Federation begins to die."

Nevar was well into his work - whatever manipulations he was making to the control were having a definite effect on the artificial wormhole. As the containing forcefield changed its dimensions, it began to mould and shape the boundaries of the wormhole, forming it into a circular shape, like a potter working at his wheel.

The wormhole emitted a burst of light and blossomed open like a flower, revealing a hazy white tunnel. Kane watched, amazed at the technology, and as he squinted down through the haze he thought he saw a blue mass - was that the Earth? Was he really looking down an extra-dimensional telescope? Was this wormhole, artificially generated and controlled by this prototype Romulan technology, capable of spanning the distance across the galaxy?

Kane's looked left and right - Cantor Von and Jasmine Yu were tense and ready to act, but so were the two Romulan guards. Both of them were standing with their disruptors aimed squarely at the Starfleet officers, and Kane thought about rushing them. The Romulans would shoot, and two of the three Starfleet officers would die, but maybe the survivor could reach Nevar, could wrestle him away from the controls, could do something besides stand here and watch the destruction of the Earth.

His eyes locked silently with those of Jasmine Yu, and then Cantor Von. Kane saw understanding and acceptance there - here, now, at the last, they would give their lives in an attempt to defend the Federation, even if the attempt was a futile one.

He balled his fists and took a step forward. The Romulan guards prepared to fire.

A dozen pillars of white light split reality open, the whine of the transporter beams drowning out all other noise. In an instant, Kane recognised Jake Crichton, Kassandra Thytos, Jaron, and a dozen other marines, both Starfleet and Romulan. Nevar and the Praetor stood agape as a dozen pulse rifles were brought to bear against everyone in the room.

Jaron pointed his disruptor pistol at Nevar. "Step away from that console, senator!"

Jake waved his phaser at the Romulan guards. "Drop your weapons, now!" The Romulans complied, and Kass moved forward to secure their weapons.

Nevar rounded on them, cheeks flushed green. "What is going on here?"

"The first Federation-Romulan co-venture since Coriana Three," quipped Jake, nodding at Kane. "We are shutting down this project in the interests of galactic peace."

Nevar's face was a mask of fury. "But - our Warbirds!"

Jaron stepped forward. "The Praetor's Warbirds. Your squadron commanders have remembered that their loyalty is to the Senate and People of Romulus."

Praetor Delora Radaik was nodding vigorously. "Quite so!" Her eyes met Kane's for a moment, then she stepped forward, taking Jaron's disruptor pistol from his hand. Before anyone could stop her, she pointed the barrel at Nevar and pressed the firing stud - the thin green disruptor bolt leaped from the weapon, blasting a hole through Nevar's chest half-a-metre across. As the smell of cauterised meat filled the artificial air, Nevar sagged against the console, then fell onto his back in a heap, the light in his eyes going out almost instantly.

Delora Radaik reversed her grip on the disruptor and returned it to the shaken Jaron, who had clearly not been prepared to see what had happened. The Praetor looked around at everyone, her face full of authority. "I was never going to allow that madman to fire his weapon," she stated. "Congratulations, Jaron, and to your crew, Captain Kane. You have all succeeded in preserving the peace."

Kane caught her eye for a moment, but there was no guilt there. The Romulan marines moved to surround her. Delora Radaik was, once again, the Praetor.

She gestured to Nevar's corpse. "Clean that up. And evacuate this station. This insane project ends, now."

There was nothing anyone could do but obey.


Location: USS Phoenix
Scene: Main bridge - deck 1, saucer section

Kane, Jake, Kass, Jasmine, and Cantor Von all returned to the bridge of the Phoenix. The Praetor had beamed to the Warbird flagship, Jaron had returned to the Shai'Dan, and the other Romulan Warbirds in the squadron had all gathered in a circle around the war hawk space station.

Byte looked up from the Operations console. {{Ensign Orion reports transport complete, Captain. All of the Romulan senators have beamed to the flagship Warbird.}}

On the main viewer, responding to some invisible signal, the squadron of Warbirds fired a volley of shipboard disruptors at the empty space station, destroying its main reactor in one salvo. The station splashed fire in the void of space, detonating into a fireball that lit up the Baelorn night sky and sent them scurrying to their wattle-huts in fear. When the explosion died away, the space station, artificial wormhole, and terraform beam generator were all gone, charred away into nothingness.

The Warbirds began to turn on their axes, setting a course back for Romulus. Only the Shai'Dan lingered, waiting to escort the Phoenix back to the neutral Zone.

Jasmine Yu relieved Mackenzie Procter at Tactical. "Message from the Romulan flagship, Captain. It's the Praetor."

Kane moved to the centre of the bridge, Jake at his shoulder. "Put her on screen." Truth be told, he had a bone to pick with Delora Radaik. She might have shot Nevar in order to preserve the peace, but she had certainly seemed willing to go along with his plan to destroy the Earth. Shooting Nevar might have been the treacherous action of a political opportunist as much as it might have been a righteous action by an honourable ally. He had to know.

The screen winked like a knowing eye. The starfield disappeared, and the face of Delora Radaik appeared on the main viewer. In the background stood Ael Velal, Oloth, and the other Romulan senators, all looking on impassively. Nothing in Delora Radaik's features gave away her mood. {{Captain Kane, I am preparing to return to Romulus, where a full report of this incident will be presented to the Senate. The Shai'Dan will escort you back to your own border. On behalf of the Romulan government, I would like to extend my thanks to the crew of the starship Phoenix for your assistance in combatting this threat to galactic peace.}}

"I am pleased that we have averted war," said Kane neutrally, "but I'm concerned about the execution of Senator Nevar. A cynical onlooker might think that his death removes a major impediment to your control of the Senate, and I recall that prior to the arrival of the joint marine team, you were prepared to precipitate a disastrous conflict between our peoples. What message can I bring back to the Federation regarding the intentions of your government?"

The senators standing behind Delora Radaik shifted uncomfortably. They exchanged worried glances with each other, and one or two faces looked distinctly displeased. Kane got the distinct impression that Delora Radaik would have questions of her own to answer in the coming days, in private.

{{Tell them to send their ambassador, Captain Kane. We have much to discuss, and the future is not set.}} She paused a moment, then a rueful look crossed her face. {{Perhaps a part of me wanted Nevar to fire. Perhaps I didn't intervene because I was waiting for you to do something.}} Then she looked at him sidelong. {{Or perhaps I knew that the Shai'Dan was trailing us to this star system, and was confident that Commander Jaron would intervene and, as your people say, save the day.}}

Kane felt a sour taste in his mouth. The Praetor's reply had told him nothing, and had been deliberately enigmatic. Even now, the Romulans were still playing their games. He wanted to let his anger take over, to tell her exactly what he thought of her - that she was nothing more than an opportunist who would do anything to hang on to power - but what he said was, "I thank you, Praetor Radaik, in the name of galactic peace."

She raised an eyebrow, and she smiled like a wolf. {{Have the past few months taught you nothing, Captain Kane? We Romulans are bound to rule the stars. It is our inescapable destiny, one that, while delayed for a time by the actions of organisations like your Federation, is nevertheless inevitable. With us, peace comes dropping slow. Your ambassador, whoever they may be, would do well to study the tenets of D'era before coming to our homeworld. Although the future is not set, the Romulan Way is a certainty. Remember that, Captain, or else the next time we meet might well be in battle.}} She let her words hang in the space between them for a moment, then inclined her head in farewell. With a wink of the viewscreen, Delora Radaik, the enigmatic Praetor of the Romulan Star Empire, passed out of their lives forever.

Against the starfield, the other Warbirds were snapping into warp, disappearing one at a time, bound for far shores. The Shai'Dan set a course for the Neutral Zone, moving off at impulse power, and Kane gestured to Tomas' Vukovic to follow.

All through the bridge of the starship Phoenix, people got back to work, and when Kane looked again at the starfield, he thought he saw, far off in the distance, the familiar lights of the Federation.

The Praetor had been right. The future was not set. There would always be another Nevar, another Edgerton. Every day was a new chapter in the ongoing story they were living through, but right now, at least, they were going home. The thought of it brought a quiet smile to his face.

They were going home.


NRPG: This is the end of "The Romulan Way". It's been one of our longer stories since the 2nd Ed.'s inception - we started it back at the end of May, and racked up 65 posts. Thanks to Susan, who wrote the opening scene.

Until the beginning of the next story (stay tuned to the chat for more on that), it's back to shipboard life. We are being escorted by Commander Jaron and the Shai'Dan back to Starbase 56, where Admiral Stiles is anxiously awaiting word of our mission. The next story will begin when we arrive home. Until then, post something that moves us forward, not backward!

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer

"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117



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