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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Chirakis Kirel

Arms crossed, Chirakis Kirel, Commanding officer of Sky Harbor Aegis, stared vacantly into space, past the station, past the starships that entered and exited the corridors in the distance, past the asteroids where Nero’s crew worked diligently drilling for metals and harvesting carbonite, past the shipyard, and on into the blackness of space with only one thing on her mind.  For anyone else, it was a simple question. For Kirel and the parents of Annisha, it could be devastating. 

Did Admiral Hatchkock actually want a 12-year-old child to apply for entry to Starfleet Academy, or was he interested in her presence for another reason? 

A deep inhale ended in a sigh as the captain dropped her arms and pressed her hands against the sill, then pushed off, swiveled her chair and relaxed into it.  Perhaps she was going overboard in her thoughts. At least she hoped so.

Dr Pavilion considered Annisha a gifted child, one who could easily be considered a candidate for Starfleet Academy. She also mentioned that Annisha might have a rough time with those around her because of her age, which was understandable. However, there was something deeper that needed to be considered, something that the captain could not divulge.

As far as Annisha knew, her biological parents died trying to rescue friends and families during the devastation of ch’Rihan, also known as The Great Fire.  However, Annisha's biological parents did not die.  They are alive and well.  Was Admiral Hatchkock aware?  If so, how did he find out and what was his plan?

After the devastation of ch’Rihan, thousands of Romulans came to Aegis for shelter.  Most were families who had barely survived, but many were orphans who had lost contact with their families and would never see them again. Brothers, sisters, fathers, and bondmates served in the Romulan Imperial Fleet, the Galae s'Shiar Rihan, and gave their lives that others might live.  One of those orphans was Annisha t’Aldani.

The captain first spotted the child on Deck 92 where transient/transitional quarters were provided for the prospective adoptive families, as well as quarters for the orphaned children.  While the others played games, this child was intensely focused on a puzzle.  In fact, she was so focused, she didn’t seem to notice Kirel when she sat down next to her.  

“Interesting puzzle you have there,” noted Kirel, waving off a teacher.

“Um… yeah.”  The child’s head tilted back and forth, then almost upside down.

“How long have you been working on the puzzle?” Kirel continued, crossing her legs to sit next to her.

She picked up a few pieces to set them in, then shook her head and put them back.  “A while,” she replied, blowing out a breath. “But there’s something wrong with the pieces. I think someone put them in the wrong box, or maybe threw them away.”  She shrugged, disassembled the puzzle and began again.

Kirel nodded and continued to watch her patch the pieces in another direction.  By then, several other children had formed a circle to watch, point at Kirel and whisper while the young girl continued to work.  Kirel looked up at the others.  “I’m sure you have other things to do,” she said firmly, scattering the children to the other end of the playground.

A hefty sigh returned Kirel’s focus to the puzzle and an exasperated child, kneeling back on her heels and tilting her head to face Kirel.  “All the pieces aren’t there, so I can’t work the puzzle, Captain.”

“Ah. So you know who I am.”

Her face scrunched up.  “Well, it’s pretty obvious. I mean, you have the pins, and a few other things I’ve never seen before. But you’re definitely a captain.  Um… maybe Captain Chirakis? At least that’s what the other kids were whispering.”

She stifled a grin.  “Correct.  And you are…?”

“Annisha.  I’m…. Annisha t’Aldani.  My mom and dad, they’re….” 

“Nice to meet you, Annisha,” Kirel purposely interrupted.  Why don’t you try working on this puzzle?”  she suggested, quickly changing the subject. “ You won’t lose any pieces of this one.”  Pulling out her slate, Kirel tapped on a few things, then passed the slate and a stylus to Annisha.  “See what you can do with it.”

Annisha studied the tablet a moment, then brightened up.  “Double-dare you?”

“Double dare.”

From then on, it was obvious that the 9-year-old orphaned Romulan had a facility for swift computation of statistics, compiling complex bits of data for evaluation and making accurate conclusions even more quickly than some of the seasoned operatives with whom Kirel worked.  Annisha continued to assemble the bits of Aegis available to her on the tablet.  It did not take long for Annisha to solve the problem.  As Kirel watched and listened, she knew Annisha definitely had an advanced education.  Moreover, she had been encouraged to explore.  She had definitely come from an Aristocratic or high-ranking diplomatic family. Only they would have regularly used the vocabulary and high Rihan dialect Kirel had been speaking as Annisha worked the stylus. Only they would have encouraged her in this type of education. If not, the child was either precocious or truly brilliant.

Believing that her biological parents had perished in the Great Fire, Annisha remained on Aegis and was eventually adopted by Nijil tr’Korjata and Jylliene Kital.  However, her mother, Riov (Captain) Ja’lan t’Aldani, and her father, EnRiov (Admiral) Keshir tr’Aldani, were alive and well.  Two of the most powerful and forthright agents of the Tal Shiar were hidden in the bowels of Rendezvous October, used by operatives from the Allied Powers, chief among them being Starfleet Intelligence and the Tal Shiar.

After a few long moments of thought, Kirel called Commander Korjata and Lt Commander Kital to her office.  They had much to discuss.

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