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The Exile

Kaelia ran her hand through her now shoulder length black hair. It had been nearly three months since she’d gone into hiding in the small port town of Ihen’Gal, and nearly as long since she’d spoken to anyone from her ‘former’ life. In some way, it seemed it had been even longer. She had, of course, spent longer in deep cover assignments, but this was decidedly different -- this was exile.


Frowning in the mirror at her reflection, Kaelia picked up a silver hairbrush and began stroking. She’d never had long hair before and she sometimes found the routine soothing. It was strange to her, how such a simple, mindless task could distract her for even a few moments for her worries, doubts and frustrations. Yet in the end, it was only that. A distraction.


And soon everything would come rushing back and she would remember...


“I have bad news for you.”


Savu N’Dak looked up to her friend, mentor and direct superior. Given just how turbulent, disappointing and frankly messed up the last several weeks had been, she wondered just how bad things could be that Chaelon tr’Naierth would address her in such somber tones. She steeled herself and took a deep breath. “What is it.”


Chaelon grimaced. He had not wished to be the bearer of such news, even though he knew in the long run, the setback would be advantageous for the haughty young N’Dak. It might, he considered, even save her life. At the very least, it would teach her some humility. “You have been suspended from active duty, rhae the Tal’Shiar.”


“Suspended?!” Her voice filled with fury, and her gaze iced. “On whose authority? And why? I de…”


In a very even and measured tone, like a blacksmith tempering a red-hot iron, Chaelon held his hand before him. “It is only temporary, and on the authority of the Director himself.”


Unsatisfied with his response, her rage continued unabated. “Unacceptable … unforgivable! I will not stand idly by and allow this! How can you?! You’ve betrayed me you… you...”


She didn’t remember, later, that she started beating on his chest, or that she’d broken down in tears – though the pain in her fists told her that it was true. When she finally managed to regain a modicum of composure, and now even more embarrassed that she’d shown her feelings, she looked over to Chaelon.


“I suppose I deserve this.”


“You are an excellent agent,” he said reassuringly. “And you have always been loyal to the Tal’Shiar and our cause. However, you have severely compromised the mission. I suppose it’s as much my fault. I should have never let you go to the bonding. I should have just killed your brother myself.”


Savu did not know how to even begin to respond. Her lips trembled with a mixture of fear, anger, and embarrassment. “And now we cannot even touch him.”


“Ie, though he is the least of our worries h’nah.”


“What shall become of me?”


Chaelon placed a reassuring arm around Savu and squeezed her shoulder gently. In many ways, she had become his surrogate daughter, and he felt deeply sorry for her. “For h’nah, au must continue to lay low. The Director feels that because of the sensitive nature of this operation, au continued involvement would have only further jeopardize the mission and brought even more risk to the Tal’Shiar. When things have settled down, and when na so much attention is upon au family, au will be reassigned. In the interim au will continue to collect au duty pay. I have arranged for transportation for au to the city of Ihen’Gal. I have kept a small house there for many years, and au may consider it au home for h’nah.”


“Hann’yyo,” she said sincerely. “Au have taken considerable risk to auself by not simply allowing me to be dishonored. If our positions were reversed, I am na sure I would do the same for au.”


Chaelon nodded. “I know.”


“And what of Issaha? He thinks he’s spying for me.”


The elder Romulan pursed his lips. “We have decided to continue to utilize him -- so long as he doesn’t compromise our goals. With t’Vatrix back -- it will be more difficult to place agents rhae the ship.”


She nodded. “I would ask that you not...”


There was something in her voice that caused Chaelon a pause of his own. He had suspected that unlike the elder brother, she actually cared for the younger one. A pity. “So long as he does not get in the way of the operation,” he said, “he will na be in any real danger. The yy’a of another son would draw even more attention. Au father has begun to worry us. His loyalty was once unquestionable, but h’nah...”


“Au think he suspects my involvement?”


“I do na know,” Chaelon said honestly, “but he has been slowly distancing himself from his old associates, rhae the Tal’Shiar. There are rumors he may be looking to switch sides, as it were...”


“That would be unfortunate … for him,” she added the last part quickly. “And my mother? She was always quick to speak out against...”


“She has been surprisingly quiet. Perhaps because she has been at the hospital, but ie, she is not io to hold her tongue. We will continue to monitor her.”


Savu nodded. She leaned back against her chair and exhaled, eyes shut. This entire operation had been a cluster from the beginning. She should have listened, should have let them do it their way; but she hadn’t and now she would pay the price for her pride. She was to be exiled. They could call it whatever they wanted, but that was what suspension in the Tal’Shiar amounted to and everyone knew it.


“Vhri’mehnka,” she finally said. “I will gather my things. I take it you have prepared for me a cover in Ihen’Gal?”


“Yes,” Chaelon said, handing her an ISD. “You will find everything you need there. Until things have calmed down, I would suggest not using any of your own funds. If your family becomes suspicious, they might begin looking into them.”


Savu nodded as she scanned the document. “Kaelia t’Hseih,” she said her new name outloud. “Of course, though...”


“Do na worry about money,” he said. “I have arranged for au to receive a stipend... it is all in the ISD.”


Turning, she placed a hand on Chaelon’s shoulder and smiled, genuinely for what seemed the first time in ages. “Hann’yyo … for everything.”


Kaelia tightened her grip on the hair brush and sat it down with a thud. She looked into the reflection and closed her eyes. Everything she’d ever wanted had been within her grasp, now here she was -- an exile. How long would she have to wait in the small, seaside town? How long would she have to keep her true name and nature hidden?

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