Welcome to Star Trek Simulation Forum

Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to contribute to this site by submitting your own content or replying to existing content. You'll be able to customize your profile, receive reputation points as a reward for submitting content, while also communicating with other members via your own private inbox, plus much more! This message will be removed once you have signed in.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

Elarion: Movements in Shadows


A low hum prevailed across the oira of the Elarion. At the center of the room, a single, solitary chair overlooked the pit containing the helm and navigation stations.  Daise’Erei’Riov Tyras Vlaen ran his hands along the smooth upholstery. He paused for a moment, considering the supple, grey leather. It was, he decided, actual leather and recently done. A rarity among  smaller ships in the fleet. 

They had been in space less than a week and so far ship and crew were functioning well. Their mission took them to the frontier of the Romulan Empire where they were to patrol the border worlds -- a place where many ships seemed to be sent these days, he noted. Tyras had spent little time in the Outlands, as they were often called. Whispers of insurgency among the border worlds had become common among the elite of the home worlds. He hoped that they were overstated. 

He ran his hands along the upholstery again. Just how did an older patrol craft get such a premium command chair? His thoughts trailed in the direction of double doors to his left -- the commander’s chambers. Though none of the other senior officers had been brave enough to voice them in his presence, Tyras knew they too had questions about their new commanding officer. 

It wasn’t just that he was relatively young or that he came from a somewhat infamous bloodline, but that in addition to all of that he carried the rank of Enarrain in place of the usual Riov. Which, like the plush chair, was out of place on such an unremarkable vessel as the Elarion. A human translator might not have noticed the difference -- they both loosely translated as ‘Commander’--  but Enarrain carried privileges and seniority that Riov did not. Tyras had his own ideas on the subject, but knew better search too deeply for the truth. 

He trained his thoughts elsewhere as the lift doors slid open. The lythe, greying figure of the ship’s chief medical officer emerged. She was, as far as Tyras knew, one of the few aboard who knew much of the Enarrain outside of his public reputation or official record, having previously served with him on another assignment.  

“Jolan tru,” she said, breezily making her way across the oira. “I assume the riov is in his chambers, brooding, ie?”

Tyras shifted uncomfortably. “The Enarrain is reviewing personnel assignments, as is his purview.”  It was a mild corrective, but one Tyras felt compelled to give though if she noticed it, she didn’t react. Instead she simply nodded and continued toward the double doors, a distant hann’yyo following as she disappeared, leaving Tyras once again to contemplate the situation. 

Brooding was, however,  the correct word to describe the mental state of the Elarion’s commanding officer. He had been in his chambers for much of their journey towards the Outlands, rarely interacting with any of the senior staff.  Today was little different. He glanced upwards at the chime. “Come.”

“Rehkkai,” the smooth voice of the maenak came, intruding into whatever thoughts were holding him. “I see you have changed little since the Talon.”

Destorie N’Dak turned from the window to face her. a small smile creeping across his face. “Nor have you -- Khaena,” he replied. “What can I do for you? I trust all is well in your fiefdom and that you’re having no issues with tr’Vlaen?” 

“Not at all. He seems competent and fair. All qualities desirable in someone of his rank and station. He even seemed rather uncomfortable with my suggestion, rhae the oria, that you were in here ‘brooding’ He made a point of mentioning you were working on personnel reports or something.”

Chuckling lowly, Destorie placed an ISD on the desk in front of him. “Did he? This is his first assignment as Daise’Erei’Riov so I suppose his enthusiasm shouldn’t unexpected.”

“Or perhaps he fears the wrath of the Enarain,” Khaena teased lightly, but only just so. “At any rate, that is not what brought me here.”

Leaning back into his chair, Destorie sighed. The Elarion had hardly been his choice of assignments and due to certain political concerns his ability to choose a senior staff had been somewhat limited. Still, he was pleased that he had managed to secure the appointment of Khaena to his crew. She had served with him for many years as one of the nightshift doctors aboard the Talon, and he trusted her far more than anyone else aboard his new command. 


“I have been looking into the matter that we discussed before we left dock.” Khaena had found her way into one of the rather plush -- perhaps too plush, she considered -- chairs that flanked the oblong desk at the center of the room. 

“The medical supply shipments to the border world?”

She nodded. 


“Nothing suspicious, so far as I could find through the normal channels. It is a bit odd I admit. Such a large number of advanced medical devices being shipped to a far flung colony that lacks a major medical center. Even stranger that the world is, primarily, non-Rihans -- laborers mostly.”

A frown crept across his face, though Khaena wasn’t sure if was from frustration. “I see,” he said crossing his arms. 

“But,” she offered, shifting in the chair, the mirth fading from her voice. “I do still have some contacts in the Tal’Dian -- friends of Gaen’s. They could look a little bit closer into the matter. If you’re still unsettled by it.”

“I would not ask if I did not think it important,” he said, “something about this disquettes me.” 

She nodded, standing and straightening her uniform. “Speaking of which,” she said, the airness returning to her voice. “You have yet to report to medical for your examination! What sort of an example are you setting for the rest of your crew?”

Before Destorie could reply, she saluted crisply and headed back onto the Oira where Tyras remained vigilant. She considered his features for a moment, stopping to study him. He was not, by her estimation, overly handsome nor particularly displeasing to look upon. He kept his hair tightly cropped in the overly regimental style the Galae had become infamous for throughout the galaxy (she kept her own greying hair in a neat braid). And though House Vlaen might not have had the prestige of their commanding officer’s house (or the infamy), it generally was removed  from the meager ranks of most of the other crew members, herself included. She had looked at his service record as well -- a graduate of the Imperial Retor in the capital. He had proven himself to be an able officer. She hoped that was how he’d came about his position, anyway. Letting her eyes linger only so long, she continued once more.

“Maenek,” Tyras said as she was almost to the lift. “Were you planning on joining the other officers tonight for dinner? I understand that tr’Lhaelev has some new holovid he wants to play afterwards ... if you’re interested, of course.”

She wasn’t particularly, but she would survive.. “It would be a good opportunity to get to know my fellow officers,” she said with a smile that she hoped didn’t seem overly forced.

“I look forward to seeing you,” Tyras added. “Till tonight then.”


It was late afternoon — not that you could notice such things aboard a starship dancing through space—and the medical bay was relatively quiet. Khaena glanced briefly up as she heard the footsteps of her assistant approach. 

“Are you still here?”  Hjaeli said, her arms crossed disapprovingly. “Go home!”

“I thought I gave the orders.”

“It’s quiet and besides, you have that officer’s dinner to prepare yourself for and we only have tr’Maek to deal with — I think I am more than capable of handling a lone erein with a case of space sickness.”

Khaena furrowed her brows. 

“Oh, sorry.  Deep Space Introgastrionial Aphasiac Syndrome.”

Exhaling, Khaena smirked despite herself. “Is that what they’re calling it now? Never mind, don’t tell me. I am happier not knowing. I suppose you’re right — it is quiet and you have things well in hand. Just try not to make a habit of giving me orders, hmm?”

Hjaeli grinned. “Of course. H’nah, be gone with you.”

Her quarters were only a short lift ride away. Entirely unremarkable, they were sparsely furnished and most of her personal effects remain packed away in a series of small boxes in the corner. She’d debated about even bringing them along, but it wasn’t as if she had any other place to put them. After Gaen had passed away, she’d sold their small house on ch’Rihan. She’d considered buying something in the capitol for when she was on leave, but it seemed a waste to pay for a townhouse or condo that she’d spend a few days or weeks a year occupying.

“But you could rent it out!” Hjaeli had suggested when she’d mentioned it. “People are always looking for places to stay for a few days or weeks in the city.”

“How would I manage that? I work on a starship!”

“Oh they have an app for that! You just sign up as a host and the company takes care of the renting, keeping your place up, everything. It’s so easy.”

“Then why don’t you do it?”

“Oh I don’t make enough money to have a place — not on the pay for an assistant medical officer without any real years of service. Unlike you.” Khaena had let that one slide, but mentally made a note of it for some future transgression. She was glad though, to have the young, slightly impetuous doctor aboard. She had interned aboard the Talon, and proven herself to be capable, qualified officer. It had come as something of a surprise, then, when she was on the list of available officers for the Elarion. 

She glanced at the old-fashioned chrono hanging from the wall -- one of the few things she’d unpacked --there was still time for a shower and change of clothing before dinner. Officer’s dinners were low on her list of preferred activities, particularly with a crew of mostly young, ambitious male officers all jockeying for recognition and promotion. Still, she needed to learn more about them and who she could trust. 

Sighing, she headed to the sonic, slipping out of her uniform along the way. One thing she did appreciate about older model ships, like the Elarion was that their sonic showers were configured to a lower pitch than newer models. Though she knew it made little difference in function, she always felt more relaxed by the low, thrombing pulses. 

Finished with her shower, she changed into a clean uniform and tied back her hair. Skipping a mirror or makeup, she pulled on freshly polished boots and headed for the officer’s mess a few decks up. Most of the others had already gathered by the time she arrived and were mulling around the oblong table at the center of the sparsely decorated room, sipping ale. 

“Jolan tru,” Tyras said, waving her over. “I am glad you decided to join us.”

She nodded politely and took an offered glass of ale. It was of relatively decent stock, and she believed, originated in the Verete region of homeworld, though she couldn’t be entirely certain and didn’t care enough to ask. Ale nerds were, in her mind, tedious. 

Once the last of the senior staff, minus the Ennarain of course, had arrived they took their seats. She looked them over, appraisingly. Tyras sat at the head of the table, naturally. He carried himself with a certain stiffness she found common in young officers in their first position of real authority. Next to him sat the ship’s security chief on his left, and to his right their chief science officer. Neither was particularly green, but were still young to her. Though the security chief seemed to be going a bit grey prematurely. Perhaps a genetic issue?  Khaena scolded herself mentally for the diagnosis.

They were also joined by the ship’s senior helm officer and the operations chief. Both of whom reminded her of rambunctious teenagers. Then there was the chief engineer. Aside from herself and perhaps Destorie, Marim tr’Feava was the most experienced of the senior officers. He had been aboard the Elarion for over a decade and was now on his third commanding officer. A veteran of the Dominion Wars, he was brusque and prickly and a bit overprotective of the ship -- not that she’d met an engineer who wasn’t in love with their flying pieces of metal. And people accused maeneks of being protective of sickbay? She smirked to herself as enlisted personnel brought out broth and crusty bread. 

Apparently, one of the positions Destorie had been keen on filling personally had been the chef. It was a welcome relief from the sort of cuisine that she’d come to expect on smaller, unimportant ships like this one. Most of the senior staff agreed. 

“One thing I will say for our riov,” Lhaelev, the operations officer, said raising his ale, “he certainly found a good chef.”

There was general agreement as the waiters brought a second course of roasted vegetables and lightly fried noodles in a cream sauce. Except, of course, from Marim who grumbled lowly. “I didn’t sign up for the Galae for haute cuisine, give me a ration and a stiff ale anyday.”

“Then why did you have seconds last night?” Tyras teased lightly. 

The engineer frowned crossly. “I was hungry and the portions were small. Keeping this old girl running is hard work, especially with all the neophytes we got this time. One of them new ones didn’t know the difference between a recoil spanner and a disruptor. What are they teaching at the Retor these days anyway.”

Khaena smirked. She empathized. Several of her orderlies were fresh out of training and had needed some additional instruction. “One of mine,” she offered between bites of the pasta, “almost injected an erein with vivensel instead of etherin.”

Only Lhaelev seemed to understand the implications and giggled before explaining the effects of vivensel, which elicited a chuckle from everyone, even Marin. 

“We were all new officers once,” Tyras interjected. “I am sure each of us did a few silly things when we were fresh out of the retor.”

Thael tr’Ghilv, the security officer had said little to this point, but now he turned his attention to Khaena. “What about the Enarrain,” he said, resting his elbows on the table and steeping his fingers. “What was he like as an erein, you knew him then, didn’t you?”

The room collectively turned its attention to Khaena and she sighed, wiping clean her mouth and placing her napkin on the table. She’d wondered how long it would take before that particular subject came up.  Hjaeli had bet her an evening shift it would be before the main course. Khaena had hoped it would wait until at least desert. She considered if she’d tell Hjaeli the truth or not.

“Not entirely,” she said, “He was an erein when he first joined the Talon, but it was na his first assignment.”

“Still,” Thael pressed. “A diplomatic posting on Qo’Nos hardly counts.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” she said, taking a long drink of ale between sentences. “But at any rate, he was much as you’d expect from any young officer. Overeager, ambitious, brash... all of those would apply.”

She glanced over to Tyras. He shifted somewhat uncomfortably in his chair. He had to have also known the topic would come up. Still, his unease answered a question for her. “But he was a d’heno and I was a nightshift maenek. It wasn’t as if were crossed paths regularly.”

That was somewhat of a lie, but unless they’d gotten access to his medical records, they’d never know. The enlisted brought out their main course, thankfully saving her from further interrogation and the subject of her relationship with Destorie did not come up again for the rest of the meal. 

Afterwards, she found herself talking once more to Tyras as the others settled in to watch the holovid Lhaelev acquired. It was some pulp action routine that she found incredibly tedious and boring, but had stayed for appearances sake. Tyras apparently found it tedious as well. 

“They’re so formulaic,” he’d said offering her a bite of his popped eael. “I don’t really get the appeal.”     

She smirked and declined to offer her own personal theory for why men enjoyed them 

“You weren’t exactly truthful at dinner,” he said lowly.

Glancing over, she lifted a brow. “About?”

“Your relationship with the Ennarrain.”

She frowned, uneasily. “I am not sure what you mean.”

He smirked and looked towards the holovid, tossing back a few bites of the eael. “I don’t particularly blame you for demuring to elaborate, but I know that he personally requested your assignment.”

“He was often in the maneken bay when he was first assigned to the Talon, as I said a bit brash and overeager. He was my patient more than a few times,” she paused, “that is it. He wanted a friendly face aboard, someone he knew...”

“And trusted?”

She tipped her head. “I suppose. It’s not as if that’s unusual.”

Tyras looked back for a second. “Fair. It’s not as if he has any particular reason to trust me, but...” He trailed off.

 Feeling her unease subside, Khaena offered a smile. “Destorie... the Enarrain,” she said, “He does not trust easily. He’s always been that way, but he respects those under his command who do their duty. And he does not like sycophants.

“Do your best and serve the ship well and you will gain his trust, in time.”

When the evening ended, Khaena found herself back in her quarters holding a holoimage in her hands. It had been nearly three years since Gaen had died of a heart attack while they vacationed in the fashionable resort town of Se-Ret.  At least, that was the official story. She frowned and looked away.  

Gaen had served in the Tal’Dian, the Galae’s intelligence service, for nearly thirty years. He had been on assignment. She always hated when he was on some covert assignment. He would go weeks, sometimes months without being able to contact her. Then, suddenly, out of the ether he would rematerialize in their living room, or in her quarters at whatever assignment she was currently on, acquiped with Teryian white roses and a bottle of good ale. He also knew how to mollify her. 

She looked back to the holovid. She could still remember the evening she’d learned of his death. She dealt with death all the time as a meanek, and she was no stranger to it in her own life, having buried both of her parents and an elder sister.  Still, nothing completely prepared one for it. 

The evening shift had just taken over and Khaena had settled into her office to complete some reports -- she often worked late. The starbase was relatively quiet and the disherens were busying themselves with cleaning and calibrations, least Khaena find worse for them to do.  She was enjoying a cup of Sumae tea -- it had once been a favorite --and listening to some soft jazz when a young man arrived in medical, looking for her.

Overhearing her name, she popped her head out, half-expecting an overeager erein coming for a physical. Instead she found a young ne’arrain wearing the dark grey sash that indicated he was on special assignment.  

“I am Khaena t’Yhven,” she interjected. “How can I help you, ne’arrain?”

He looked over, gravely. “Maenken,” he said. “It would be best if we spoke in private.”

The disheren’s lifted their brows, but said little as she nodded and motioned the ne’arrain into her office, closing the doors behind her. 

“I am afraid that I must bring you some unfortunate news,” he said fumbling for an ISD. “It’s about your bondmate.”

From there she didn’t recall all of the precise details. Only that little in her life had been the same afterwards. The trip to Se-Ret had felt surreal. Gaen had never liked that sort of thing and she thought it was a silly cover story, but she was in little position to argue. Even once she did arrive and the whole planned cover played out, none of it felt real. Nor had she gotten any real clue to what had actually happened to her husband. Neither the ne’arrain, who she never saw again, or the handler who arranged everything for her before, during and shortly after the funeral had been willing or able to divulge.  It had vexed her.

They rarely talked about work, but Gaen hadn’t indicated that his work at the time was particularly dangerous. There was always danger involved of course, but the Tal’Dian was hardly the Tal’Shiar and deaths of those in their employ were relatively rare.  Finally, after weeks of trying and failing to learn more about how her husband had died, it had been an unexpected call from Destorie N’Dak that had brought clarity and a degree of closure. 

She replaced the holopic on the nightstand and laid back down on the bed. Maybe she’d been better off not knowing the truth. Part of her wished she’d never answered that call. It would have been easier, in the long run, to not know the truth, right?

She sighed and closed her eyes. That was the easy lie people told themselves. 


It was an unseasonably cold day in the capital region of homeworld. On virtually any other late spring day, the ihren course would be bustling with activity. Today, however, only a few committed players braved the weather.  From his balcony overlooking the seventh hole, Destorie took a break from the stack of ISD’s on a table to watch. 

He’d never cared for ihren. It was an old person’s sport in his mind. Boring as sin, and it required far too much work to be good at it. Not that most of the people who frequented the ihren course in question were any good, far from it. 

It had actually surprised his father when Destorie had asked upon his return from the Gamma Quadrant if he could move into the family home on the outskirts of the capitol. Destorie had always had a certain fondness for the home, though.  It was stately, without being overly ostentatious, was relatively private, and mostly importantly was rarely frequented by any of his relations. 

“Do you still brood over decisions like when you were a child?”

Destorie felt the hair on the nape of his neck stand up. He hadn’t heard that voice since the incident. Instinctively, his hand went to his belt for his absent disruptor. 

“Still the d’heno I see,” his sister’s voice followed the action, a certain mirth to her voice that annoyed him even more “But don’t worry, I am not here to kill you or anything. This is strictly a personal visit.”

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t exactly trust you, Rasa.”

“And they say you’re not very clever.”

“I don’t really care what your associates in the Tal’Shiar say about me.”

“Oh you should, you really should, dear Sheuiji.”

“Don’t call me that,” Destorie spun on heel to face his sister. “As far as I am concerned you are no longer a member of my house.”

Rasa was sitting on his desk, looking over the scattered ISDs. She seemed uninterested in her brother’s sudden bolero. Her hair was longer than he remembered. As always, she was impeccably dressed in the latest fashions of the capital’s trendy Uraemu district. Finally, she paused her snooping and glanced up at her brother. While her twin sister Savu had inherited their mother’s warm amber eyes and soft features, Rasa had the same sharp features -- high, tight cheekbones and dark, foreboding eyes that pierced like knives -- of her elder brother and father. 

“Well fortunately for you, I don’t feel the same way.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“I see you’re selecting a first officer for the... Elerion, yes? Rather unfortunate name for a ship, but I suppose you take what you can get in your position.”

“Elarion.” Destorie glowered.  “What about it.”

“Oh,” she said, returning her attention to the ISD’s. “I just thought you might want some help. Afterall it is a big decision you’re making. A first officer needs to be extremely trustworthy.”

He crossed his arms. “Then why in the element’s name would I want your help selecting one.”

“Well,” she said, “for starters I know which of these options they gave you are Tal’Shiar plants or loyalists. But I suppose you do have a bit more experience with this. How is that lovely woman who was your first officer on the Talon doing anyway -- Laehval or something like that? I bet you miss her. You were so, close, after all.”

“Why would any of them be a Tal’Shiar plant. The Elarion is a patrol ship.”

Rasa noted, somewhat disappointedly, that he didn’t fall for her baiting on t’Temarr, and sighed inwardly. “Well it’s true they don’t care about your mouldering old patrol ship and its mission to the Outlands, but you have to know they are keeping a close eye on you, Sheuiji. Especially after the debacle in the Gamma Quadrant with our brother. Where is he anyway? I’d hoped to pay him a visit while I was in the capital, but no one seemed to know. Not even my colleagues in the Tal’Shiar.”

Destorie’s jaw tightened at the mention of Issaha. “He’s safe.”

“Good.” He was taken aback by the seeming sincerity. “You should have done a better job of keeping him out of trouble.”

“Me?” Destorie spat, almost letting his temper get the better of him. “He wouldn’t have been in trouble if you hadn’t set him up with that position in the first place.”

Rasa glanced over again. “That wasn’t my doing and I assure you the person responsible has been, disciplined.”

“I never knew you were so protective of Issaha.”

“There’s a lot about me you don’t know Sheuiji. Anyway, I didn’t come here to argue, I came to offer you advice on your personnel decisions. “

“Why do you care? It’s not like I have anything to hide from the Tal’Shiar anyway.”

Rasa pushed off the desk and made her way over to him. She stood slightly taller due to her high-heeled boots. Something that seemed to please her for a moment before the mirth vanished, replaced by coldness. “There are concerns about your loyalties.”

“My loyalties?”

“Yes. Are you loyal to the Empire, or to the Galae.”

“I wasn’t aware those were separate; and that’s certainly a charge coming from the Tal’Shiar.”

 “Don’t play me for the fool, Sheuiji. We both know that things are changing. Very soon you -- and father -- are going to have to make your loyalties clear.”

“I know why you’d want to protect father --”

“Isn’t it obvious? If you’re caught up in this, his loyalties will be questioned and it would hurt the family. It’s bad enough mother is a bleeding heart Enuar supporter.”

“I am shocked you care about what happens to the family. It would certainly be a first.”

“Like I said, there’s a lot about me you don’t know. Now, you can either accept my offer or pick blindly, not knowing which of these” she motioned to the ISD’s behind her, “are Tal’Shiar operatives. Your choice.”


The oira had been taken over by the overnight shift. The Elarion continued to cruise at warp 6.5 towards the Outlands, the stretch of space along the Neutral Zone that had separated the Federation and the Romulan Empire for over 200 years. Typically, an assignment here was uneventful, particularly in the years following the Dominion War when the permeance of the barrier between the two empires had seemed to wane.  

Of course, that had begun to change again  in the last few months. A string of terrorist attacks among the border worlds had put the region on edge. Debate in the Senate had focused on “outside agitators” and the failure of the Galae to reign them in, but they’d been mostly small in scale and no one had been seriously hurt, yet. 

The overnight officer of the watch was a young erein named Kaev. He was short, stout and largely forgettable. He’d only joined the Galae because he had few other options outside of following his father and brother in the family trade. He’d been unremarkable in his studies at the regional Retor he’d attended, and was wholly unsurprised to receive an assignment aboard the Elarion. What had surprised him, however, was finding his name on atop the duty assignment as officer of the watch. 

He’d never shown any initiative nor desire for such a position -- typically a young officer’s first opportunity to show potential for further promotion. Kaev sighed deeply. Why had the Sub-Commander given him the position? Surely tr’Maelc, the over eager erein from d’heno currently manning the tactical console would have been more appropriate?

Still, there had been little use in complaining about it. It was, after all, only one shift a week. The others he could quietly pretend to press buttons at the communications station while the system largely ran on automation. 

The lift doors slid open suddenly, startling Kaev. He glanced over and suddenly felt a wave of terror wash across him as Destorie N’Dak strode out. What in the elements name was the Enarrain doing on the oira at this time of night? 

“erein,” Destorie said, pausing at the railing that separated the command area from the rest of the room. 

Kaev blinked, feeling the collective eyes of the overnight crew focus on him -- he wasn’t sure if they actually were or not, but he thought they were. He’d only even met the Enarrain twice, and he’d never dared speak to him.  “Rekhhai,” he managed. “Ca-can I be of assistance.”

Destorie smiled, a rare sight, remembering his own first time in the center chair. That seemed like a lifetime ago. “No,” he replied. “Just going to my chambers to do some work. I assume all is quiet?”

“Ie, nothing to report.”

“Mehnka. Vhri’mehnka.”

Destorie smiled again -- which was somehow more terrifying to Kaev -- before disappearing into his chambers. When the doors  had slid closed, Kaev sighed and slumped into the chair. 

“Do you need to change your underwear,” Maelc chimed in.

Kaev sat back up, casting a glower. “Na, I am quite dry. Thank you. Don’t you have sensors to be realigning?”

Maelc grinned, pleased himself. “It is strange, though, isn’t it? The Enarrain just popping up to his chambers at 0218 to do some ‘work’?”

“He’s the riov,” Kaev said without looking towards Maelc. “He can do as he pleases. It’s not for us to question.”

“I am just saying -- it’s interesting.”

“I would suggest,” came the sudden interjection from the direction of the secondary lift, “you listen to erein tr’Hjan, erein tr’Maelc and work on your sensor alignments.”

They both looked over to see the visage of Lhaelev lingering. 

“Centurion,” Maelc snapped, “I meant no --”

“I am sure you didn’t, but I would advise doing as tr’Hjian wisely suggested.”

Maelc swallowed hard and looked back to his station, suddenly feeling every eye on the oira trained upon him, including those of Kaev.  Lhaelev glanced to Kaev briefly before heading towards Destorie’s chambers and after a brief delay disappearing. Kaev considered asking Maelc if he needed to change his underwear now, but decided against it. Graceful in victory, he’d always been taught.

Still it was peculiar for the operations officer to mysteriously join the Enarrain in his chambers at such an odd hour. Kaev pushed the thought to the back of his mind. 


The subtle off-white lighting of the corridors struck at Destorie as the doors to his quarters hissed open.  He held a hand up to shield his eyes. 

“It’s so dark in here,” Khaena said, perhaps a bit more chipper than usual. “I was surprised when you weren’t on the oira.”

“Elements must you talk so loudly.”

Holding back a giggle Khaena mercifully let the door slide shut behind her.  “I see your dinner with the Governor went well, eh?”

Destorie was still in bed. It was nearly 1030 hours. He a waste receptacle nearby and a half-empty thermos of water on the stand by his bed. His clothes littered the floor. He thought they were his clothing anyway. He hoped they were. Yes, they were. They had to have been.  “You should be lucky I didn’t make you come along.” 

Destorie sat up. His head throbbed. “I imagine Tyras is in even worse shape.”

She held back another giggle. “Ie,” she added, “he stopped by the medical bay this morning and asked for hydration pills. Though I am curious about the mark, rhae his neck. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was a hickey.”

“A what?”

“Au know... a hi...” she sighed She decided she might sleep better at night if she didn’t pursue that line of thought any further. “Anyway, how was the meeting?”

“The Governor was quite gracious,” Destorie said. It took him a moment longer than he would have liked to get his bearings. “Turns out he served with my grandfather Nkedre in some... some battle -- Naranda or something I don’t remember to be honest with you.

“But the moment he found out who my mother was, he demanded we have a drink of some local whiskey and then one thing led to the next and well..” he paused, waving a hand to the air. “I feel relatively certain we acquitted the ship well.” 

Smirking, Khaena made her way over to the replicator.  “Jalla, hot -- two creams.” 

“I never drink jalla hot, or in the morning.”

“Maybe you should try it. It’s wonderful for a hangover. Better than haeln or whatever that Klingon drink is you’re so fond of, rakata... whatever.”

“Raktajeno, and is that a prescription?”


He took the offered mug and put it to his lips, “Far be it for me to ignore my doctor’s advice then.”

“Ha! When have you ever listened to a word a maenek told you? Hmm.”

Destorie smirked feigning innocence as he drank more of the jalla. He had to admit it had already calmed his stomach. 

“Anyway what did au learn?”

“Not much to be honest. Ever since the government tightened the visa restrictions he said things have been slow here in the outlands.”

“And the medical shipments?”

“He didn’t know anything about them. Not surprising, but he did say he’d look into it as a favor on account of my grandfather.”

Khaena chuckled. “Well I suppose you have something to be thankful about then.”

“I am not sure it was worth the headache.”

“What is that human phrase -- never look a gift something in the mouth? Now, I am going to let you work off your hang over in peace and see to my duties in the medical bay.  How long do you think we’ll be in orbit?”

“A few more days at least, unless something pressing comes up. tr’Feva has been harping on Tyras to let him realign the plasma manifolds.”

“Good, you should let the crew take leave then.”

Destorie pulled his beeding about him as he glanced over his cup. “Prescribing for the whole crew now are we? I thought you were going to let me recuperate in peace, don’t you have work to be doing?” 

Khaena replied only with a smirk and headed out of the room, leaving Destorie alone. Though his stomach now felt some better, he could still feel the plasma grid pulsating behind his bed with every thump. It was a reminder why he rarely drank heavily. That had always been Issaha’s province anyway. His thoughts lingered a moment on his younger brother. Issaha had always been his shadow, tagging along on all of his big brother’s adventures. He was  always in the way; but now he was off on his own adventure. Somehow, despite himself, Destorie almost missed his shadow. Especially now. 

Why had she warned him? It had been nearly two months, and it still didn’t make any sense.


Kaev fiddled with the controls on the command chair. Why did it have to be during his shift.

“No response to our hails,” Maelc said with a grimace. 

Kaev frowned and glanced back to the tactical console and shook his head. “No flight plan on record, no registry on file? It’s an older model runabout.”

“Three lifesigns aboard,” Aleaht Geleir, the NCO manning the operations console chimed in. “No sign they’ve detected us.” 

Chewing on his lip, Kaev considered. “Helm, stand by to intercept.”

Maelc lifted a brow. “This is highly irregular.”

“Why is it always when I am in the center seat. Thirty-minutes more and this would be someone else’s problem.”

“The elements must love you.”

Kaev glowered silently for a moment before turning back to the viewscreen. His duty shift had nearly ended when Maelc had detected the warp signature of an errant runabout. Kaev had hoped it would simply be a routine matter, and had considered ignoring the issue. As he punched up the communications array on his chair to wake the Sub-Commander, he wished he had. 

“Sub-Commander,” he intoned gently, unsure if Tyras was sleeping or not. “I hate to disturb you, but there is a situation on the Oira that I believe merits your attention.”

Tyras grumbled, but said he’d be up in a minute. Maelc was trying to hide a smirk. “Better you than me.”

“Wasn’t this supposed to be your shift anyway?”

“No! You traded for it fair and square.”

Kaev glowered again. “Can we get a detailed scan of the runabout?”

“No without dropping the cloak,” Gelehir said flatly, as if Kaev should have known that. She was a far more seasoned officer than any of the green ereins manning the graveyard shift, a fact she routinely groused over. 

The lift doors slid open, drawing Kaev’s attention away. “Sub-commander.”

“As you were,” Tyras said. He was still pulling his outer tunic into place as he made his way to the center seat. “So what’s the situation?”

Despite his nerves, Kaev calmly updated his superior officer of the situation. When he’d finished Tyras stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Interesting. No flight plan on record and they don’t appear to be in any distress.”

Kaev nodded. “Ie.”

“Helm, lay in an intercept course. Set alert status 2. Senior officers to the Oira.”


A low fluorescence permeated the Elarion’s interrogation chamber.  The room, really more of a large broom closet, was cold and smelled of old cleaning supplies. Three figures were restrained in metal chairs.  Destorie paced evenly before stopping in front of the youngest of the three. “You may have some promise. What is your name?”

The calmness of their new interlocutor seemed to catch the three men in ‘Galae’ uniforms off guard.  “Don’t answer this bastard,” one of them said, spitting bloodily at Destorie. 

Destorie smirked, watching as the green-white projectile landed on his freshly polished boots with a splat. “Do you realize how expensive these boots are?”

The spitter didn’t respond;  another prisoner did, however. Destorie had wondered what to make of the grizzled, middle-aged officer. In the time they’d been held, he’d said almost nothing, and had barely reacted when the Elarion d’Heno officers got a bit rough with them.  “They’re standard issue,” he said calmly. “Nothing special about them, other than you made some poor disheren polish the out of them. Trying to impress someone?”

“You have a discerning eye,” Destorie said thoughtfully. 

“Boots are boots.”

“True, though some boots are better than others.” The middle-aged prisoner grunted as Destorie turned his attention to the younger prisoner once more. “So, tell me, what is your name.”

“I told you, leave him alone. He’s just a kid, and you --”

“Aurel,” the boy said, his voice was hoarse and shaking, “My name is Aurel--”

“Damnit! I told you not to...”

Destorie circled again, chuckling mirthlessly.  “Warrant Officer, Second Degree, Aurel s’Lehan. Warrant Officer, Private, Haej ei-Aemek and Chief Warrant Officer...”

“Mhve tr’Udfev.”


“He already knows who we are, and he’s likely already decided to execute us. What’s the point.”

“Some might say you are traitors.”

“We’re not traitors!” Haej -- the spitter -- protested, straining at the straps holding him in place hard enough to alarm the d’heno at the back of the room. “We were only following our orders. And besides, aren’t we due rights of statement and proper trials.”

Destorie cleared his throat. “tr’Udfev, it would behoove you to silence your disheren before I have him incapacitated.”


“Shut the hell up  you idiot.” 

Haej recoiled and Destorie smiled appreciatively towards Mhev.  

“So why should we cooperate?  What is the supposed benefit for us?” Mhve said, shifting a bit uncomfortably. The restraints were too tight to realistically try to get loose, but his mind kept him fidgeting with them anyway. 

“Convince me your lives are worth sparing.”

Destorie had known it was really only a matter of time before one of them broke. His money had been on the younger one of course; but it had been refreshingly the elder officer who had saved them from the executioner’s block. His sense of duty as their superior officer had won out over his own pride, Destorie supposed.  

“We didn’t know what was in the boxes, I swear to you. Just that they were to be delivered  to Gaen II. Nothing more.”  

“Interesting, continue.”

“The three of us, we worked cargo. Some guy in fleet uniform approached us with our riov.  Told us he had a special job for us , and once it was completed would. -- well it would greatly benefit each of us.”

“Benefit you how?” Destorie said, lifting a brow.


“No, he might as well know Haej...” Mhev sighed. “He picked the three of us, I suppose, because we were easy enough targets to buy off and low enough priority no one would notice if we failed or went missing.

“I owe money to the wrong people. I am not proud of it, but it’s the truth. My bondmate, she... well she needed an operation a few years ago ... look I am sure you don’t care that much, but that’s my story. Haej here, well...”

Haej frowned, “My family does not have a name of our own. I wanted to go to the Retor, to become a real officer... but...”

“Mmm,” Destorie said. “I see, and whether you believe it or not, I understand. And the boy?”

 Looking away, Aurel couldn’t hide his blushing. “He was working for some rich back on homeworld when the heir of the house took a liking to Aurel. The rich didn’t like it, made Aurel enlist or threatened to have him jailed. Then he made sure Aurel got shipped off to the ass end of the Empire. They promised him a transfer back home.”

He almost felt sorry for them; they were too low born though to have dreamed up such a scheme on their own, and the story seemed convincing. His train of thought, however, was interrupted by the pulsing vibrations of his t’Liss. He frowned and turned towards the lurking d’heno. “Transfer them to the br’tehh. See that they are fed and looked after by the maeneken. And,” he paused for a second, “get them fresh uniforms.”

Before the prisoners could respond, Destorie strode out of the room. He hit his t’Liss. “Go ahead.”

“Enarrain,” it was Tyras. “A vessel just decloaked. Their Riov wishes to speak to you --”

“I’ll take it in my quarters.”

Tyras’ voice wavered. “He’s waiting for you in your chambers.”

Destorie lifted a brow, but acknowledged and took the nearest lift to the Oira. He paused briefly as he passed by the command chair. Tyras looked unsettled. “He beamed over as soon as they closed communications.”

Taking a deep breath, Destorie forced back the expletive fighting to come out of his mouth. “I see. Do we have a registry on our new visitor then?”

“The Taebrle.”

Lifting his eyebrow in the fashion of a Vulcan, Destorie shook his head. “Never heard of it. See what you can dig up while I meet with...my guest.”

Tyras nodded, somewhat relieved Destorie had shown such restraint. “I was just about to head down to the shuttle bay.”

Destorie nodded his approval and took one last deep breath before he entered his chambers. Though smaller and  lacking a macabre collection of Cardassian “spoons,” Destorie had found them to be far more suitable than those he’d had aboard the Talon. Of course, he noted, those had never been his chambers. His train of thought, however, derailed as the doors slid shut. “Ah, riov,” came a smooth greeting. “Shaoi kon. Please forgive the intrusion, but I thought I’d make myself at home.”

Destorie felt the hair on the nape of his neck stand up. Sitting on his desk was a slender male Romulan in maybe his early fifties. He wore his hair neatly cropped and pulled back from his face in such a way that it made him look almost like a bird. More distressing, however, was his dark charcoal uniform signifying his service to the Tal’Shiar.

“I am Colonel tr’Sehibe, of the Internal Affairs division of the Tal’Shiar.”

“Colonel,” Destorie said, forcing a polite tone. “Welcome aboard the Elarion. Can I get you something, water, tea perhaps?”

“No, thank you Riov. I don’t plan on staying long.”

“I see.”

“I am afraid there’s been some sort of misunderstanding. Your sub-commander indicated that you had brought the crew of the runabout Baruv aboard and placed them in your br’tehh.”

“That is standard procedure,” Destorie said making his way to desk. “We were about to question them on why they didn’t respond to our hails or have a registered flightplan.”

Pushing off the desk, Sehibe smiled. “Ah, well then. I’ll save you sometime. I am afraid that you’ve accidentally, through no fault of your own, stumbled into a Tal’Shiar operation.  So, if you could just return them to their ship and let them be on their way we can all pretend this little incident never happened.”

For a moment Destorie pretended to think that over, before leaning back in his chair. “Nah.”

Sehibe recoiled. “Excuse me, Riov. You did hear me say this was a Tal’Shiar operation, and that I am a colonel in the Tal’Shiar, yes?”

Destorie grinned. “Yes.”

“Then,” Sehibe tried to contain his exasperation. “I am sure you understand the weight my request carries? I would hate to have to bring it to the attention of your superior officers that you were interfering with an official Tal’Shiar operation.”

Nodding, Destorie agained feigned consideration. “Well, I’d guess you’d hate that almost as much as your superiors would enjoy an inquest into this ... what did you call it incident? I somehow doubt they’d very much like the Senate poking around in such matters.”

“Really, Riov? Such idle threats don’t become a Galae commander. As I said this is a Tal’Shiar operation. So, we can either do this the easy way or I...”

“It wasn’t an idle threat, Colonel.”

Smiling, tightly, Sehibe once more suppressed his annoyance. “Riov --”

“You know I think I forgot to formally introduce myself earlier, how rude of me.”

“Riov, not to put too fine a point on the matter but--”

“Well not to put too fine of a point on it as you say, but I am not actually a Riov.”

Sehibe’s expression shifted uneasily as he examined Destorie’s rank sash for the first time. 

“As I said, I forgot to formally introduce myself. I am Enarrain Destorie N’Dak, son of Dlvon N’Dak. You may have heard of him. He actually used to serve in the Tal’Shiar -- though I was never entirely clear on what his ‘rank’ was, you people are always so strange about that.”

Wrinkling his nose, Sehibe exhaled heavily. “I see, Enarrain.”

“Anyway, as I was saying, I doubt that either of our superiors would appreciate the other’s looking into this little incident. So why don’t we just skip ahead to the part where you tell me what is going on here and then, if I am satisfied with your answer, I’ll let them go.”


The Baruv blinked away. In darkness in his chambers, Destorie watched as it broke the subspace barrier, the flash glinting in his eyes. 

“The Taebrle seems to be waiting for us to go to warp.”

Destorie nodded. “Yes. I doubt the Colonel entirely trusts me. Have helm resume our patrol.” 

“You don’t buy that story he told you do you? Not really?”

Turning to face his first officer, Destorie shook his head. “Of course not. The Tal’Shiar never tell the whole truth.”

Tyras nodded in agreement. While he’d had few enough dealings with them, he knew others who hadn’t been as fortunate. Entire families could be ruined by the Tal’Shiar for even the mildest of transgressions, and the rise of Procounsel Llhvae had only emboldened them. He glanced to Destorie for a moment. He hadn’t known what to think of him even a few weeks ago. 

“Part of me wishes we could simply wash our hands of this whole mess,” Tyras said quietly. “Don’t get me wrong, sir. I understand your decision and I support it, but it’s just...”

“You don’t need to apologize, Tyras,” Destorie tone was genuinely sympathetic. He understood, fully, the sentiment of his executive officer, perhaps even more than Tyras could imagine.   He bit his lip, wondering what a younger version of himself might have thought of the idea of aligning himself and his house with a bunch of liberal outworlders and aliens. He remembered dismissing the Enuar only a few years before, even. But these were unusual times, and that made for, as the Lloann’na would say, strange bedfellows. 

Finally, Destorie returned to his desk. “Once we’re out of sensor range, cloak and lay in an intercept course for the runabout.”

Tyras nodded. “Do you plan on bringing the senior staff in on this? Some of them are already asking questions.”

“Not yet, but we may need to -- can we trust them?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then find out.”

Tyras nodded. “Is there anything else?”


Bowing his head respectfully, Tryas turned on heel and headed back to the Oira. He disliked keeping the senior staff, at least, in the dark but it wasn’t his call to make.  He sighed and took his seat. 

“Helm, resume standard patrol. Stand down from alert status.” There was a collective relief at that from the entire oria crew, though Tryas still sensed lingering apprehension.  As the helm officer began maneuvering the Elarion away from the other warbird, Tyras tried to push the uncomfortable question posited by Destorie to the back of his mind. Can we trust them? 

He glanced over to Lhaelev.  The operations officer glanced up as well, feeling Tyras’ gaze. Destorie trusted Lhaelev, apparently. That much Tyras knew, and also Khaena. But other than that? Tyras shook his head. “Centurion,” he said, “Keep an eye on the Taebrle.”



Khaena shifted uncomfortably in her chair. The webinar on on new procedures for quarantines was decidedly boring, and extremely racist. 

“Aliens,” the presenter droned, “are unclean and carry with them a host of infectious diseases. Especially among our non-Rihan populations -- the Lloann’as loose morality and feral nature has caused numerous outbreaks of sexually transmitted disease.” 

“Loose morality,” she said outloud. “Where do they find these people?”

“Extra precautions must be taken when dealing with any foreign-born individual visiting the Romulan Empire. Galae officers should be warned against fraternization of any kind.”

Khaena belly laughed. “Fraternization! I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about the Klingons.”

Why she had to endure these things remained a mystery to her. This certainly wasn’t a very valuable use of her time. She knew well enough how to implement a quarantine; and even patrolling the Outlands, the chances of anyone running across a Lloann’an to fraternize with were fairly low, especially since border crossings had, once again, became extremely restricted following the passage of the Preserver Acts a few months ago.  

She wrinkled her nose as the presenter began a particular racially charged screed against one of the alien races that populated several border worlds. While xenophobic bigotry was hardly a new feature of Romulan social life, it had always been somewhat more muted in more formal settings, particularly among the medical community. That it was now not only being trafficked in, but official party line was worrisome. 

“What a waste of time! We’d barely started treating them--”

“I know, but you know how it is.”

Khaena lifted her brow and muted the presentation.

“And we’re not supposed to keep any records?”

“That’s what the Sub-Commander said.”


Piqued, Khaena poked her head into the medbay. “Hmm?”

Hjaeli was surprised to see Khaena and pulled back briefly before relaxing with a heavy sigh. “I thought you were taking the afternoon off.”

“Na,” Khaena said, almost defensively. “There was a webinar on some dumb thing I was supposed to attend. What is going on?”

Smirking Hjaeli made her way over to a console and began calling up information. “You know that runabout that we ran across?”

Khaena nodded. “What of it?”

“Well the d’heno had roughed up the three crewmembers a bit and command called us in to have a look at them. Nothing serious.”

“D’heno,” the disheren who’d accompanied Hjaeli said. “Are they all so brutish.”

“Yes,” Hjaeli and Khaena said almost in unison before giggling. 


“Well as we were treating them, Sub-commander Vlaen rolled in to tell us they were being released, immediately and that we were to delete all medical records pertaining to them, per the Enarrain’s orders.

“Apparently, some warbird showed up and their riov met with the Enarrain and now we’re just letting them go and erasing records we had them aboard.”

Khaena felt an ulcer coming on. “I see,” she said tightly. “Well see to that.”

Hjaeli frowned, but didn’t question Khaena, knowing that tone. 

Returning to her office, Khaena turned back on the webinar in time for another racial invective laced section, this time on the dangers of something called “root beer,” but her mind was elsewhere. What was Destorie thinking? 

Her communications panel chirped. She paused the webinar for a second time and looked down to see who was calling. She felt a tingle run down her spine. Rhevid tr’Laen.


“Elements,” she cursed beneath her breath, closing  the door separating her office from the medbay. “How can that be.”

Rhevid tr’Laen. She hadn’t thought about that name for some time; it was an alias Gaen used to contact her when he was undercover. She refused to allow herself to believe that he was really still alive. And if he was, she might simply kill him out of principle. Still, the encryption code verified. She took a deep breath and braced herself as the spinning bird of prey on her screen faded. The message was text only, the system informed her.  

She wrinkled her nose. She didn’t know if that was relieving or not. She punched in her own verification code and waited again as the message loaded.  Destorie had been sure, she told herself. He had documents detailing everything. Still in the back of her mind, she had always held out some small sliver of hope. 

It felt like an eternity had passed when the message finally loaded. 


Aurel shifted uncomfortably in the co-pilot seat of the Barauv. Sensors indicated the Elarion had jumped to warp, moving away from them. The Taebrle, however, had not. He looked over to Mhaev in the pilot seat.  The old man, as they’d called him back starbase, looked more surly than usual.There had been barely more than a few words exchanged between all three of them since the Elarion’s dase’erei’riov had arrived in the br’tehh to announce their release.

He had thought they were going to die aboard that ship. But now? He wondered if it was too late to simply run away. He could make it the escape pod before Haej or Mhaev could react, and  they were close enough to several inhabited worlds. 

He frowned and looked back to his console. 

“I still don’t know why they just let us go,” Haej finally broke the silence as he came back to the main compartment eating a ration. 

“Isn’t it obvious,” Aurel said, “the Tal’Shiar didn’t leave them any choice.”

Mhaev frowned. “I am not sure what that means for us.”  The younger Romulans looked over to him, expectantly but he simply shook his head and adjusted their course. 

“What do you mean?” Haej prodded. “We’re still alive and we can still complete the mission. They didn’t open any of the containers.”

Aurel turned around. “Can you be sure? They seemed to have a pretty good idea what was in them.”

“I checked them myself.” Haej said between spoonfuls of flavored protein supplements that smelled and looked more like pet food. “All the seals were still in place. They have been able to scan them, but they didn’t open any of them.”

Mhaev was still silent. 

“The Taebrle is moving off now.”

“What’s their heading?”

Aurel double checked himself. “Vector 27 by 36 by 10. They’re cloaking.”

Relaxing, but only just so Mhaev nodded. 

“Incoming transmission, audio only -- from the The Taebrle” 

He tensed again, but took a deep breath and activated the communications array.   “This is Colonel tr’Sehibe . It would be advisable, if you were to take additional precautions to mask your warp  signature. Do not endanger the mission again.”

The comm cut out abruptly, leaving the three men staring at each other.  Aurel looked towards the escape pods again, but noted that Haej was in his way now and sighed deeply. Mhaev grumbled lowly as he made another adjustment to their course. “Haej, you and Aurel go work on masking our warp signature further.”

Haej frowned poking at the remains of his ration pack. “They could have just given us a cloaking device and solved that problem.”

“Well they didn’t, so get going. It’s another four days till we reach Cete and I’d be willing to bet that bastard riov on the Elarion isn’t done with us yet.”

 “I don’t even know what we can try,” Haej said as they made their way to what passed for engineering aboard the aging runabout. “I am not a real engineer.”

“Didn’t you train as one?” Aurel asked, settling next to Haej.  They hadn’t really known each other very well before the mission. Haej worked in engineering aboard the starbase, doing whatever the enlisted officers didn’t want to do themselves, while Aurel lived the glamorous life of a serviceman assigned to the cargobay. Sometimes, when he was particularly lucky, he worked in laundry and dry cleaning. Their paths rarely crossed other than the occasional hello. 

“Look, I can clean a plasma injector or rewire fusy food dispenser.” Haej said with a grimace, “but masking our warp signature is a little above my paygrade.”  

Aurel tipped his head, considering Haej again. He was lean and gangly, and his uniform had never fit entirely correctly. His greyish-brown hair refused any attempt at taming, which Aurel found rather cute. That was mostly all he found attractive about the engineer’s mate, however. His nose was out of proportion to the rest of his face, and he had a weak chin. Which was to say nothing of his personality, which bordered on crude and often slipped into the downright unpleasant. Still, despite the roughness, he’d been friendly enough to the shy, mildly effeminate Aurel. 

“I am afraid I am not much help on that front either,” Aurel added glumly. “I only barely know how warp engines work.”

Haej smirked. “Now if it were a spot on my dress uniform, I suppose you’d have some tricks up your sleeve.” 

“What do you think will happen to us?”

“What do you mean.”

“When this is all over. Do you think -- do you think they’ll let us just go back to our old lives maybe?”

“Why would you want to do that? Do you want to spend the rest of your life just cleaning uniforms?”

Aurel sighed. It had its merits. “Not really, it’s just --”

“It’s just what?”

“I get the feeling that... you know never mind. I am just being silly.”

Haej slid out from under the console with a frown. “Look, there’s no use in worrying about what’s going to happen to us. There’s nothing more we can do about it, so don’t get any weird ideas. We’re in this together, you hear?”

“Thanks -- yeah. I guess we are, aren’t we.”

Haej nodded and resumed tinkering. 

“Haej,” Auriel said, “Before... back on the ship. I am sorry if let you down by telling that man my name. It was just..”

“Don’t worry about it kid, you were just trying to do what you thought would help us. Now, go get me a type 4 spanner. It’s the one that looks like a hammer.”


Destorie strolled onto the oira with a cup of rakatjeno in his left hand, and an ISD in the other.  He was early, Maelc observed, happy that he’d vacated the command chair a few minutes before.  

“Report,” Destorie said, stopping by Maelc’s station. “What is our status erein?”

For a change, it was Kaev that got to grin at someone else's misfortune. Maelc took a deep breath and double checked the status monitor before replying. “Situation is normal, sir. We are proceeding on our original patrol route. Nothing else to report.”

“And the runabout?”

Maelc bit his lip. “Still on sensors. They did appear to be trying to mask their warp signature.”

“I see. Mehnka. Vhri’mehnka.”  Destorie tapped the console lightly and smiled. “Vhri’mehnka.”

He took the center seat and resumed looking at the ISD. Maelc shot Kaev a dirty look but resumed his work until the first shift crew arrived to relieve them. They left together on the auxiliary lift. Their barracks were on the same deck, and neither was particularly hungry.

The doors hissed closed. 

“I thought you were going to pee yourself when the Enarrain spoke to you.”

“Shut up,” Maelc said with a glower. “He’s talked to me before plenty. You’re the one who can’t ever talk to anyone above Erein without getting weak in the knees.”

“Remind me why I tolerate you.”

“Because you like the way I kiss.”

“No wonder you’re single.”

Back on the Oira, Destorie had finished the rakatjeno and dropped in the recycler. Part of him considered telling the operations officer to stop tracking the runabout and simply wash his hands of the whole mess. It would be easier that way, afterall. Very little good could from antagonizing the Tal’Shiar. Still he needed to know exactly what they were up to, even if that meant risking entanglement. 

“Rehkkai,” Lhaelev said. “The runabout appears to be adjusting course, heading towards ch’Ganei.”

There could be no letting them go now.  “Interesting. Continue to monitor them. Helm, adjust our course to bring us closer to ch’Gan...”

“Sir I have an incoming transmission for you from high command. It's on the restricted channels. “

Destorie glanced to  Lhaelev again, this time with an even deeper frown. “I’ll take in my chambers.”

The spinning t’Liss of the Romulan Imperial Navy Command was already displayed on his viewers by the time he settled into his desk. He quickly confirmed his authorization codes and retinal scan and the t’Liss dissolved into darkness before being replaced by Admiral Lakel’e Hvaern. 

Hvaern was infamous for his perpetually icy glower. His deep set eyes revealed little. Destorie wondered, for a moment, if this was in response to his encounter with Colonel Seihbe, but he would have thought the admonishment would have come from his direct superior, Rear Admiral Yyven Laxal. It would have also surprised him if Seihbe had escalated the situation any further. Still, he held his breath pensively as Lakel’e began speaking in a gruff, gravelly tone that accentuated his outworlder accent. 

“Enarrain N’Dak,” he said. “I hope all is well with you aboard the Elarion. I know it can’t have been the assignment you were hoping for, but we must all do as the Empire needs.”

Before Destorie could respond, Lakel’e had moved on. “There is a situation developing and Command believes that your extensive experience in dealing with the Lloann’na could be useful.”

That was certainly one way to describe Destorie’s (mis)adventures in dealing with the Lloann’na over the years. Still, he was intrigued. What had transpired with the Lloann’na and why would command send him of all people to deal with the problem?  “I see,” he said, stroking at clean-shaven chin, “What is the mission?”

“The Elarion is to end your patrol and head to the Hyspert system, on the edges of the Outmarches. There you will rendezvous with the Gaenor, the Thaetix, and the Fulmic.”

Four warbirds on the edges of the Outmarches?  “To what end?”

“I am afraid I can’t tell you that, just yet Ennarain.” He held up a hand, anticipating the protest. “Once you’ve arrived at the coordinates, you will take command of the task force. Additional orders will be issued at that time as the situation develops. I wish I could tell you more, but you know how it is. The Tal’Shiar guard their secrets more zealously than the Ferrengi covet Latnium, I swear.”

Nose wrinkled like a Bajoran, Destorie leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms. He knew better than to argue the point, and given his recent run in with the Tal’Shiar it was perhaps best not to ask anyway. Still in the recesses of his mind, his final conversation with his sister before he left for the Elarion began clawing its way into his conscious mind. 

“Be careful, Sheuiji,” she had said turning to leave the study. “I am the least of your worries in the Tal’Shiar. You have made powerful enemies. For the sake of our house, do not give them any excuses to act.”

The words lingered as he thanked Lakel’e for the courtesy of telling him where the secrecy originated. Lakel’e nodded. “The formal orders are arriving via encrypted communique now. How quickly can you be underway to Hyspert?”

Destorie glanced to the second monitor where communique awaited his security clearance.  “By this evening. My engineer wanted to make some adjustments to our field coils, and I agreed. You know how engineers can be if you reschedule things on them.” 

Lakel’e’s icy visage finally cracked and he chuckled. “Don’t I ever. Very well. I’ll notify the commanders of the rest of your task force. The Gaenor is a bit closer than you, but the Thaetix and Fulmic are coming from the Rylan sector.”

They exchanged formal goodbyes leaving Destorie to stare at a spinning t’Liss once more. He frowned and pulled up the encrypted orders. “To Ennarain Destorie N’Dak, Commanding Officer RES Elarion,” he read the first few sentences aloud before trailing off. Finishing, he punched them through the computer to verify they were legitimate. When the computer had returned the authentication, he took a final  deep breath before heading out onto the Oira.  

Tyras had joined the oira crew by that point. Lithe and slender, Tyras was far taller than Destorie. He had sharp, blue-green eyes that almost sparkled in the soft oira lighting. Destorie found him attractive, but he has long since sequestered those emotions. Still, there were moments where he couldn’t help but admire Tryas’ sharp jaw and angular, Romulan cheekbones. 

“Ennarain,” Tyras said, breaking the spell. 

Destorie gathered himself quickly. “How long would it take tr’Faeva to realign the plasma coils.”

Blinking Tyras, furrowed his brows. “Several hours at least... but...”

“Good, have him begin realigning them. I feel like had mentioned they’re were out of alignment in our staff meeting yesterday.”

They hadn’t had a staff meeting yesterday. After a few moments, his commanding officer’s intent dawned on him and he nodded. “Of course, right. I forgot. Yes, I’ll have him get started right away. We’ll have to drop to impulse of course.”

“Very well. You the conn.”

Destorie disappeared into his chambers once more, leaving Tyras to deal with the somewhat bewildered oira crew. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Hyspert system was located just inside the Oralis Nebula which stretched lazily across the Federation border and into the no-man’s land that had separated it from the Romulan Empire for over two centuries. Technically, Romulan ships -- as well as Starleet -- were supposed to remain out of the Neutral Zone, unless both sides mutually agreed to their presence, but  in reality, the Neutral Zone was more or less Romulan space -- Galae warships routinely patrolled it, and they had, over the years, established numerous covert bases and listening posts. The nature of the nebula, however, rendered the famed Romulan cloaking device inoperable, meaning Starfleet would likely detect the Elarion and her fleet mates. The provocative intent was rather obvious.  

Destorie frowned, looking out at the near barren star system from his ship’s observation deck.  Three cold, icy rocks that could only nominally be called planets circled the system’s primary, a dull, yellow main-sequence star.  The only notable feature of the entire system was brilliant, blue-green gas giant at the system’s edge. The Elarion’s science compliment -- such as it was -- had asked if they could conduct a survey of the planet while they waited for whatever it was Galae wanted them to do next.  Tyras thought it would give them something to do, “idle hands,” he’d said bemusedly when he brought the suggestion to his commanding officer. Destorie approved, though he reminded them the system had been catalogued before, though he decided not to mention it had been his own ship, the Talon, that had completed that particular survey. 

His frown deepened. It had been over a decade since the Talon had been at Hyspert conducting a survey of the system.  Everything seemed simpler then -- he only had his own expectations to live up too and few of his current worries or cares. 

His brooding, however, was interrupted by his first officer. “Enarrain,” Tyras said politely. “Thaetix and Fulmic are entering the system and have requested further instructions. Shall I have them take up standard patrol posture?”

Destorie nodded. “That would be good. Send my compliments to their Commanders. Maybe we should have them over for dinner, what do you think?”

“I think you want to show off,” Tyras said with a sly grin. “Too which I approve of... sir.”

Returning the sly grin, Destorie turned back to look out the window. “Good, have the galley arrange everything. Say 1800 hours. I think just command staff at this point. We can discuss our orders more freely.”

“Prudent.” Tyras stood at a lazy attention. Their relationship had warmed, but he was still his commander and a degree of respect was due.  

“Was there anything else?”

Tyras cleared his throat. “The Itarn reports they’re continuing to monitor the Baruv. It appears our former guests have tried to mask their warp signature, but the homing device we planted is continuing to function. They’re remaining on course to Cete III, and should arrive in the system early tomorrow.”


“It’s just all very... unusual, sir. Why wouldn’t the Tal’Shiar have given them a cloaking device? And why send three lackeys unless you wanted them to get caught -- and then when they did, you ride to the rescue?”

Destorie shrugged, turning to face his executive officer again. “I don’t know, but nothing about it sits right with me, but for now we have our own mission to focus on.”

“Why do you think they picked us?”

“I can’t be sure. The Khre’Riov, said it was because of my experience in dealing with the Lloann’na, but there any number of more senior commanders with extensive experience in dealing with them.”

“You sound skeptical.”

“It’s just a feeling. After what happened in the Gamma Quadrant --” Destorie trailed off, looking to the windows again. Tyras’ brow lifted slightly -- Destorie had spoke little of his last assignment as senior military liason  in the Gamma Quadrant. As far as Tyras knew, that position had ended when the Allies had agreed to withdraw due to the instability of the Dominion. If there was something more to it though.


“It’s a long story -- but suffice to say that there are those who favor Sihhus Lakhraem who do not exactly trust my loyalty.”

“Then why give you such an assign--” A frown formed on Tyras’ face, deepening as the realization took hold. “A test?”

“Or a trap. Either way, I am concerned.”

“What do you know about the other commanders then?”

“Not much, I’ve only ever served with Gaenor’s t’Laen and then only briefly. She’s old school and past her prime, but we can trust her I think.  

“Riov tr’Glhen of the Fulmic was at the Retor a few years ahead of me. He’s a capable commander. Not very political as far as I know. His family are outworlders.”

“And tr’Hvler?”

Destorie’s ever deepening frown didn’t waiver as he turned again. “Younger than you or me. His family is from one of the core worlds -- ch’Naeha? And if I remember correctly, his father is some sort of administrator or something.”

“An opportunist?”

“Mhmm” Destorie said, not unaware of how someone might describe him. “We should be cautious towards him. Command may simply have thought I was the best suited to lead the task force, but I have my doubts.”

“With respect, Enarrain, you shouldn’t be so modest. You earned your rank.”

“I like to think so,” Destorie said. “But I can’t help but question command’s motives.”

Tyras nodded. “If there was nothing else then, sir. I should see to the preparations for tonight.”

“Of course.”


Arrain Esael tr’Dael leaned back in his chair. The Oira had finally quieted down now that the command staff of the four warbirds had completed their tour of the Elarion and the third shift had taken over.  As Chief of Sciences, he could easily be sleeping, but he was taking the relative period of quiet to monopolize the primary sensor array and scan the fourth planet of the Hyspert system. 

Esael had actually been rather surprised that the Enarrain had blessed his proposal to complete a survey. Nothing about the brooding, bald commanding officer had suggested he had the slightest interest in science. Perhaps he’d judged him too quickly? He shrugged. It wasn’t exactly an uncommon view for a Galae commander to take. Warbirds weren’t Federation cruise ships with whole decks dedicated to science laboratories and a small army of science officers. Instead most Galae vessels were only equipped with very  basic laboratories and only a handful of personnel dedicated to research. 

“Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” the medical officer had told him after their staff meeting when he’d expressed his surprise. Esael wasn’t entirely sure what a horse was, or why it would be giving him a gift, but he could appreciate the sentiment. 

He glanced back to data being fed to him by a class II probe circling in the icy giant.  It was relatively straight forward. High concentrations of methane, ammonia and nitrogen, likely with some sort of solid core. It had nearly a dozen moons. Most of which were barren rocks not dissimilar from three terrestrial inner planets of the system. 

One however, caught his eye -- Hyspert 4G. A previous survey of the system had identified it as worthy of a follow up at a later date, but apparently that had never happened. It was, unlike most satellites in the outer edges of a solar system, comprised mostly of silicate rock surrounding a molten iron-sulfide core.  Volcanic activity marred its surface. There was, from his initial scans, a thin, barely breathable atmosphere. 

Esael made a comment in the file and directed the probe to continue its work. The Elarion could spend a full week or more surveying the system, but he assumed they wouldn’t get that. The Enarrain hadn’t been entirely forthing coming about why the small task force had been assembled or what exactly their mission entailed. Like most, the science officer assumed the less he knew better. Still he couldn’t help but wonder. 

The third shift officers clearly shared his sentiment. Maelc, as usual, was riding heard on them, but the events of the last few days had left them all a bit unsettled. 

“I don’t like it,” Maelc said lowly to Kaev, as he paced the bridge. “Being this deep in the Outmarches.”

Kaev shrugged. There was little they could about it, even if he shared the sentiment. “Best keep those thoughts to yourself,” he said making a gesture. “The Enarrain has his orders.”

Frowning, Maelc resumed pacing.  Below them, dinner was continuing apace. The orderlies had cleared the table from the main course and were preparing to bring out dessert. At the head of the oblong table, Destorie sat quietly sipping a glass of bubbling champagne.

The conversation had been polite and so far, nonpolitical. Ayea Laen as the most senior of the commanders sat opposite of him. Though getting on in her years, she cast a handsome figure and her long, greying hair added a touch of distinction. Dhavin Glhen sat to Destorie’s right, beside of Tyras. He was a bit older than Destorie, but was still quite fit. The youngest of the riovs Rhen Hvler sat to Destorie’s left. He was short, thin, and nearly impossible to read. 

“I must compliment you, Enarrain,” Ayea said, putting her glass of brown, bubbly liquid down. “Their are Enriovs whose serve poorer food, and this champagne is excellent.”

“Thank you,” Destorie tried earnestly at modesty. “It is a particularly good year.”

“Is it from your family vinyards?” Dhavin asked. 

Destorie nodded. “Historically we only produced ales -- particularly sparkling ale -- but my grandfather expanded the operation to produce wine, port, and champagne.”

“So,” Rhen said as dessert was brought out. “Why exactly are we here, in the Outmarches.”

The question hung in the air. Neither Ayea or Dhavin ventured to resolve it, leaving Destorie to sigh reluctantly. Finally, when it became obvious a response was required, he took a deep breath and cleared his throat. “I am sure you’re aware of the developments regarding the sale of warships by the Elasians to the Cardassians, Riov.”

He nodded, and Destorie continued. “The Federation has informed the Praetor that, despite their own reservations, and formal protests by our government and the other members of the Bajoran Accords, they’re allowing the sales to go forward.”

“That’s not unexpected,”  Jaehv Mamil, Ayea’s first officer interjected. “What does it have to do with us?”

Ayea gave Jaehv a warning glance, but offered no further reproach. Destorie exhaled. “It’s okay, Riov,” he said, directing it to her, “It’s a valid question. Galae Command has been tasked with sending a message to the Federation.”

“So that’s it then, we’re just here to show the flag?”

“For now,” Destorie said, leaning back into his chair. “Praetor Gaher is scheduled to have a call with the new Federation president, I am told, early tomorrow to again ask him to at least delay the sale.”

Dhavin frowned. “And if they don’t?” 

“Then we may be ordered to intercept them in Neutral Space.”

“Intercept them?” Ayea’s concern was obvious. “We’re not talking about using force against our allies are we?”

“The Elasians aren’t our allies,” Rhen said, glancing briefly to Ayea. “And they’re helping to rearm the same people who killed your son. Surely you, of all people, can see why we cannot allow this.”

Ayea’s eyes darted to Rhen. If they had been disruptors, Desotire noted wryly to himself, the  young Riov would have been vaporized. Tyras eyes were wide and he looked to Destorie to see his response.  

Perhaps more calmly than Tyras expected, Destorie cleared his throat. “Please,” he said, “enjoy the flan. We can talk more about the implications later. There is still a chance the Federation will accede to reason.”

Dinner ended more or less without another incident. As the others left, Destorie found himself alone with Rhen. His uniform fit snugly around a muscled torso. Perhaps too snugly, Destorie considered. He had dark, dispassionate eyes that were sunk into, for a Romulan, a waxen face that made his eyes and hair seem even darker.  “Forgive my... lack of tact earlier,” he said, with a slight tip of his head. “I spoke out of turn..”

Destorie forced a smile. There was something vexing about Rhen, but Destorie couldn’t entirely pinpoint the origin of the feeling. “It was nothing, I am sure that Riov Laen has already forgotten.”

“Still, thank you for... your diversion. I suppose you’re used to that.”

Without thinking, Destorie lifted a brow. “To what?”

“Oh,”  Rhen said with a flare. “Just that I must imagine in a family, such as yours, heated political arguments are common, especially given the differences of opinion between your parents.”

Destorie felt a ball forming in his stomach and working its way up to his chest. He forced a smile even though the words “such as yours” blazed through him like a fire hitting pure oxygen. 

Tyras had been casually evesdropping on the conversation while pretending to listen to the first officer of the Fulmic. At the mention of the House of N’Dak, however, Tyras politely excused himself and headed towards the two commanders. He was surprised, however, to see Destorie smiling. 

“Well you know what they say,” Destorie said, every fiber of his being twitching with the urge to cut the little brat down to size. “Life burns, politics burn, ale burns --”

“But dull are life with without them.” Tyras interjected. “Isn’t that the truth.”

Destorie nodded politely to Tyras, mentally making a note to thank him later. “Enarrain,” Tyras continued. “I believe Centurion Lhaelev was looking for you just now.”

“Ah, of course yes. He had a report for me on some adjustments to the communications array. I really must be going, Riov. I hope you have enjoyed your evening. Shaoi ben, tr’Hvlar.”

Before the Riov could respond, Destorie slipped off, leaving Tyras to hide his bemusement at Destorie’s use of honorifics to remind Rhen of his junior status.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0