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Arrenhe tr'Khev

Crescendo to Diminuendo to Crescendo

(( For those not familiar with the Talon, Arrenhe tr'Khev was a junior security officer - his story continues, and intersects with ours, here ))


He’d lost his mind. He kept telling himself that as the indicator of the D’Deridex class Talon dwindled to a dot on the scout ship’s tactical monitor. He’d abandoned his post, in the middle of a mutiny, in the Gamma Quadrant, with nothing more than the uniform on his back (and technically not even all of that), his custom disruptor, and the relatively small amount of latinum in the small vessel’s hold. There’s spur of the moment and there’s “the Devil made me do it.” From what he knew of that Terran myth he doubted the red fellow would even have gone that far. It just ended being too much for him in the end, and gone was where he had to go, the specifics could wait.


After the incident that had mangled his shoulder, as well as his chances of being an Empire, even quadrant renowned master of the hrini, he’d worked long and hard to get over the loss of his musical career. Arrenhe thought he’d accomplished it, and found peace with himself and his career in the fleet. The constant danger, not just of their missions but serving on the ship itself with its constant backstabbing and political intrigue, finally caught up with him. All brought to you by a group of greedy idiots that wanted their share of latinum and to get home with it, without waiting to find out if the command staff were going to do something contrary to that.


As he traveled away at warp 1, cloaked, on the somewhat haggard Thrai class scout ship, he had to decide what he was going to do. The Talon was chugging along on a direct course for the wormhole terminus that would take them back to the Alpha Quadrant. Thanks to the giant hole in the big ship and everything that had come about in the process of making it, she was not going to get there any time fast, and he could out-strip it even in the little scout ship. He wondered however if going home was a good idea at all though.


It certainly wouldn’t do his family any favors. He’d joined Galae in the first place to quell the nasty insinuations that the entire family was cowardly, with Fleet service being rather absent in a few generations. To leave at all, let alone under these circumstances, would only nail that point home. Besides the number of military charges he’d likely face if he slunk home, leaving the Talon to gimp its way back, he wasn’t even sure that he wanted to return to Romulus at all, as the political situation was, if anything, worse on the home planet than on the ship.


The latinum opened up some opportunities for him, he thought. Not to mention the value of the scout ship itself, which to a number of civilizations in this quadrant would be quite an upgrade, and to others a motherlode. He wasn’t opposed to being a bit mercenary in this situation. He may not be able to perform music anymore but he could still write it in his sleep, which is generally where he’d confined it since the loss of mobility and control in his arm.


While he’d not been in the driver’s seat of the Talon for some time, he kept himself well versed on what they were doing when he could. His security clearance helped with that, though it never paid to be too nosy on a ship like the Talon. Thankfully it was common practice to automatically update the star charts in the scout ships, minus whatever classified information t’Rexan lasered out with her custom eye. He spent some time perusing the maps and information, which helped to keep that well of panic buried.



Enough distance had been traveled that he was out of the range of the Talon’s sensors, so he shut off the scout ship’s cloak to buy him more time on the warp engines. Having sped up to warp 1.2 after making his decision, he’d have about two hours energy in reserve should he need to make any course corrections. He was traveling on the outskirts of Dominion territory, and while technically the Empire was at peace with them, neither the Empire or the Dominion bothered much for technicalities when it came to each other.



His destination was a well traveled trading outpost a few light years away from the wormhole terminus, operated by a native species that had managed to regain their independence from the Dominion after the war. The reason he chose it was because it was not frequented, or more accurately never visited, by Romulans; it was also seldom visited by the Federation, who had their Camelot station about an equal distance away from the wormhole terminus in the other direction. The extra bonus is that it was crawling with Ferengi, and if he couldn’t find a way to make a Ferengi sing a good deal with pure raw latinum and the ship that was holding it, he didn’t know what could.



In that vein, his intentions over the short run were to hock his merchandise for less traceable options, while he browsed the list of potential permanent destinations in somewhat more safety than traversing the Gamma Quadrant in a stolen Romulan Fleet vessel. Once that was done he could invest himself in a small piece of real estate somewhere that had good taste in music.






He’d managed to not get taken by the Ferengi, so that was good. He had a nice civilian craft with better range than the old Thrai, exchanged the raw latinum for gold-pressed-latinum (and at a killer rate too), a start on a new wardrobe, a more exhaustive map of the area, and most importantly a collection of chips containing a variety of music from the various species scattered throughout the open areas of the Gamma Quadrant.



He was already on his way away from the trading post, it wouldn’t pay to stay, especially if the Ferengi decided to get more aggressive in finding out where he found all that raw latinum. With information in his pocket quite literally, he was heading for an area that a grizzled old grain trader had told him was too high-brow for his taste. It wasn’t technically a Dominion world, though it was a trading partner and likely avoided being annexed because of their good sense to engage in friendly trade and the good luck of being in an area of no strategic importance.



He was listening to one of the music chips from this planet; the lilting melodies and sweet harmonies were already calling to him. There, surely, he could find a home. Even if he had to live off his savings for a while and learn the language, culture and history before being able to get a toe in the musical scene.



Already the “Elements, what have I done?” panic of the first hour after leaving the Talon was falling behind him as he now had a purpose again, even if it was to rediscover himself.






His arrival on Oulallis wouldn’t be hailed as a great moment by anyone but himself, but Arrenhe was happier than the proverbial clam. The people there didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for strangers, but they weren’t xenophobic by nature either he’d discovered.


As emotionally deep as their music was they were also a practical people, and if you had something useful they weren’t opposed to you wanting to move in. The music collection he had painstakingly assembled during his time at the trading post, not to mention what was strangely enough stored in the old Thrai before he sold it (had to be S’Bien), turned out to be a more immediately valuable commodity than his latinum. There were compositions in there from species they’d never heard of, and it turns out he couldn’t have picked a better planet for music.


The Oulallians devoured it in a way that would seem unsophisticated to the upper class of his home planet, with no pretenses over genre or topic. He was interrogated over what he knew of this music (though as a Romulan, he quite preferred their very friendly, if insistent, method of interrogation), and he shared everything he knew, as well as gave them the location of Camelot so their traders could go there and get the Federation’s vast music library for no more than their species profile and location.


When they found out he was a composer himself, and a tragically mangled former musician, he was brought into their most accomplished school of music to study and to share. He was given very comfortable accommodations nearby, a permanent berth for his personal space yacht, and he’d yet to so much as wave a slip of latinum around.






Time began slipping by quickly; and though it had been the delivery vehicle of his happiness, his time on the Talon now seemed like dreams. One a nightmare and one a fantasy that had inspired his greatest compositions to date, played in the Oulallian capital city by the most accomplished musicians on the planet.


The first, simply titled “The Eye” was a tormented work, with hard slashes of sound and was a powerful commentary on t’Rexan and the chaos that followed her and the Talon. Its reception brought him into the light of the Oulallian orchestral music scene, with rave reviews how it terrified them senseless.


The second, “Rekkhai,” was a moody piece that brought together Arrenhe’s feelings on Destorie N’Dak, though he never shared that much detail with the audience. It wavered from heavily maligning, cautiously accepting, and sympathetic, all with distinctively sexual overtones. It was shortly thereafter, with his flattered acceptance, used as a soundtrack for a holoplay. Thankfully, he thought, with an entirely different storyline than the truth. Destorie was, Arrenhe had come to understand, the only regret he had involving the Talon; he felt he should not have left without him, for both their sakes.


He could not complain, however. His most boneheaded moment had turned into his salvation; not just from the physical dangers but the psychological ones. Here was acceptance without hateful gossip and the snooty watchdogging of the elite. He had a life better than he could have dreamed possible on Romulus, even if he had never joined the Fleet.






“Planet-killers. Elements!” Arrenhe muttered to himself as he scrolled through the latest news and scouting reports coming from the nearby sectors.


Oullalis managed to stay out of the initial bickering, but now that it was coming to all out war they were not so lucky. They’d been freely trading with new Hundred allies, and the Dominion were nod amused. Now, as entire planets were being blasted to rubble, they were in the path of the rampaging bull as the Hundred were in no position to protect them.


He’d never divulged to any of his friends, or fans for that matter, the details of his history. The most that he’d ever commit is that he served on a great ship of the Alpha Quadrant. It was enough however for the government to consult him at the start of the conflict, and again now. Having been demilitarized for centuries, this was a bit beyond them.


The fact that Dominion were blasting to bits any potential allies of their enemy was bad; worse that they weren’t even bothering with finding out if the potential was rumor or real, or if it was as simple as trade to complex as military assitance. Based on the intel, he didn’t think they had more than a month before one of the planet-killers could be on their doorstep. He told them this.


“Sir Khev,” (he had dropped the traditional prefix to his family name after arriving at Oullalis) began the Prime Minister. “What do you propose we do?”


“Continue to call your Hundred contact, first of all. No one else can come to our rescue, and perhaps the tactical situation will change.” Arrenhe nodded at the look of skepticism on the various ministers faces. “I don’t believe it will do any good either, but then what will it hurt?”


“That can’t be all,” the Prime Minister insisted.


“No…” Arrenhe said, the sadness in his voice evident. “The only thing that can be done is beginning an immediate evacuation. The Federation is receiving, with little choice, refugees from this mess.”


“Evacuate over 900 million people in a month? We would have to have a fleet the size of the Dominion to accomplish that, and if we had that we wouldn’t be worrying about evacuating!” Protested one of the more junior ministers.


“You can,” Arrenhe resumed with a ghostly return of the authority and dignity of his Romulan past, “allow all of your culture to die, or choose to save what of it you can. There is no ‘good’ answer in this, I’m afraid.”


The Prime Minister thanked him for his advice and called the rest of the ministers to join the remainder of their comrades for an emergency session in the chambers beyond. Arrenhe was in no mood to listen to politicians, even with most of them honest and well-meaning on this planet, bicker over such a tremendous issue.


“You know where to find me when they come to some conclusion,” he told the PM’s aide as he left.


A few minutes later after a brisk walk through the city streets, he arrived at his favorite location on Oullalis. A giant park at the edge of the Administrative District, it stretched for kilometers in both directions and was nearly square so that from space it was a large bluish-green stamp that separated the rigidly ordered center of government from the rest of the urban area to the south. He often came here and enjoyed the flora and fauna when he was in an introspective mood or mentally worrying at a piece of music that wouldn’t express itself properly.


He found one of “his” benches and sat himself upon it, trying unsuccessfully not to dwell on the probable horror facing these people who had accepted him without any greater reference than his ability to call forth notes from his brain in a pleasing order. He knew though that there was only one conclusion the ministers could come to, and that a planet-wide address would be hastily drafted encouraging those with the means to leave to do so, and to take as many with them as possible. That every Oullalian trade ship would drop its wares and take on people, and any visiting trade ship would be begged to follow suit.

His own yacht, rigorously maintained but only flown once since his arrival, would certainly take on what would prove to be too few. In the coming month that they had, maybe they could save half a million lives and some small fragments of the civilization that had thrived on this planet longer than the Romulan Empire had existed, or even before the first angry Vulcan left to form it. As much as some small part of himself wanted to rail against the Elements for puncturing the dream existence he had found, the devastating reality of the murder of nearly a billion lives that he had come to cherish personally far outweighed it, and he was drowned in sorrow on that bench for hours uncounted, well past the setting of the suns.


He was finally roused by the Prime Minister’s spouse who had personally come to inform him. “They will make the announcement within the hour. We will evacuate who we can.”






The news grew worse instead of better, and it was all but assured that Oullalis would be nothing but smoking ruins within a week. The Dominion had officially abandoned them, with some Vorta functionary giving the Prime Minister what amounted to an apology in Dominion parlance while their machines of destruction bore down on them, striking at every inhabited planet on the way.


Arrenhe had arranged for some of the younger prodigies from the planet to be taken on his little ship. As he attempted to arrange for a pilot, the PM made a personal visit to the same quarters Arrenhe had occupied since his acceptance here. The conversation came as a surprise to him, as he had made it known to the government leader that he would not leave, and would suffer the fate of the people. His music could leave (and already had) in the databanks of the evacuating ships.


“Our people are almost unknown to this Federation, and them to us. You came to us, a bridge built of music, bringing songs containing the hopes, dreams, highs and lows of entire worlds. Now you must be our bridge back to them, to show them that our flame is not entirely extinguished, and how brightly we once shone and can shine again” the Prime Minister said, his talents for oratory spurred to the fullest. “If you would do anything for our people, do this.”


Arrenhe could not resist the emotion infused with that request, or Elements take it, the logic of it. The Universe was not going to let him take the easy way. Thus he found himself in the control center of his little ship with the clock winding down, and the last and fastest of the available ships slated to head out within the hour, carrying the weight of a civilization on their thin hulls.


On top of all that, if things could get any worse, to the children he was to ferry away he was a celebrity. He was never comfortable around the young as it was; simultaneously nervous, sad, scared and adoring children were anathema. Thankfully one of them, Lusissa, was older and had taken some of the responsibility for tending them on her own shoulders. At least she could keep them busy.


Having been so long since he’d flown, he went through his pre-flight checklist carefully and reminded himself of where everything was before he even dared turn on the main power. Again that backbone that was wont to come and go decided to snap in and as he waited for clearance to take off, a confidence came over him. Eventually the clearance came and he lifted the small ship off the ground, the last to leave.


Never one with the kinds of words the like the Prime Minister could pull out, Arrenhe saluted his adopted home the only way he could. As the ship climbed to orbit and he silently wept with the planet falling behind him, he transmitted his last and yet unheard Oullalian composition down to the people that he had to leave behind. It was simply titled “Unbroken.”






The fast little personal yacht sped past the slower transit and freight vessels that had left days and even weeks before on a course for Camelot. He’d never bothered to name it, as it had done its job in bringing him to a new home. Now that again he was on the move, homeless, this time as the living bridge from one civilization to a host of others, he decided that it needed one. It didn’t take much thought for him to find one, and the ship’s transponder was emitting its Oullalian registry and the name “Memory of Oullalis.”


Arrenhe’s young passengers were finally starting to settle in, though no week in flight could erase the enormity of leaving one’s loved ones behind on a planet that was doomed to destruction. He did what he could to ease them, and often played the little Oullalian instrument that was similar in design and range to his beloved hrini. His right arm, still but a shadow of its younger self, struggled mightily with the task and the young musical prodigy of the group could play circles around him. Apparently sometimes it is the thought that counts though, as it soothed them and himself from the sorrows.


He and Lusissa took it in turns trying to indulge them in their own abilities as the light-years passed. With varying results, but the good-humor of Arrenhe trying to pull of the simplest of gymnastic moves, or Lusissa, the artist, in trying to play the stringed thavis kept the youngest in fits of giggles more often than not.


Before long the limited sensors of the Memory of Oullalis could pull out the details of the Avalon system and its station. Arrenhe goggled at the sheer number of ships in the system; he was also dismayed at the number of Dominon warships outside of it. Though after careful inspection of the sensor data the warships made no aggressive moves and allowed the refugees to come and go freely. He also noted the contingent of Romulan ships, which thankfully didn’t include the Talon. He didn’t think he could face that monster with everything else going on.


Camelot was singing a rather strident tune over the communications frequencies as it tried to control the chaos. All Arrenhe could do was follow the instructions, which put them on a slow solar orbit behind a trail of other ships and had him forwarding a message through a comm buoy as to their needs. He listed the Memory of Oullalis as a diplomatic ship, as he had been designated officially as an ambassador of the planet before he left.


While they waited in line, Arrenhe filtered through the various communications, half wishing for S’Bien who was much better at it even half asleep, but eventually he found what he’d been expecting, yet dreading. Official word that Oullalis had been destroyed. He sighed deeply, but the news was only a cap of a bottle that had popped off many days ago. The reality had sunk in well before, and the initial grief had subsided to a cold numbness.


It took three days before the Memory of Oullalis was cleared for approach to Camelot. By this point other vessels from the evacuation had arrived and been able to transfer refugees off to other ships better suited to carry them, and his prodigy shipmates had also been transferred, rather tearfully. Alone he brought his little ship, still full of all the ill begotten latinum he had never needed to spend, into orbit around Camelot.


Docking space was limited, so he was transported aboard after another wait of five hours. Some barely-pipped Starfleet officer escorted him from the transporter room and out into a busy corridor. Ten paces down he stopped in his tracks, staring. The Elements really do have an interesting sense of humor.



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