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Part of USS Denver: From Romulus with Love and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Orders

Starbase Bravo
May 30, 2400 @08:00
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Ethan had changed into a Starfleet uniform… sort of.  He wore the trousers and the black undershirt with three commander’s pips but opted to leave off the jacket. He entered the after-crew lounge aboard the USS Zebulon Pike with Governor Tomarah T’sei at his side.  His crew was already assembled in the cramped aft compartment.

“Good morning,” he greeted as he slid into his seat at the head of the table.  Tomarah took an empty seat to his right.  “I’m sorry we had to cut your leave short, but we have a mission. This is governor Tomarah.” Ethan introduced the Romulan woman at his side, “She will be acting as a mission advisor.” He entered commands into the embedded keypad on the table and the holo-emitter in the center of the table activated showing the head of a Reman slowly rotating. “This, my friends, is Resik, the new provisional leader of Psi Velorum.”

“You!” Jolie yelled as she reached for her hidden phaser and paused as she realized that Tomarah wasn’t the same one that they had seen a few days ago. She shook her head and relaxed. “Pardon me, Governor.”

Tomarah gave Jolie a quizzical look but simply nodded her acknowledgment. “Until recently he was a pit boss. He lead a group of Reman rebels,” Tomarah added, “and has managed to inspire almost everyone on Velorum and unite the factions.   Something of a miracle.”

Carolyn leaned forward, “What little I know about the political parts of all that,” she gestured at the holograph with a cautious eye, “…I don’t think miracle quite covers it…sounds like some either hard deal-making was made or some blunt force trauma motivation is being enforced.”  She sat back, her mind focusing on the picture of Resik.

Jolie leaned back in her chair, “Carolyn, I think we know about as much as a monkey fucking a football,” she stated as she looked back at the Reman leader on display.

“Be that as it may,” Ethan continued, “Resik has requested Federation aide.  To say Starfleet is leary about angering the wrong people on Rator and turning an uneasy truce into a shooting war would be an understatement,  but in principle, we support this independent movement.”

“The Romulan Republic is making overtures to the Psi Velorum government,” Tomarah added. “I believe both sides feel the other is just a little too provisional.   I cannot argue that point.  Accepting them could be problematic for the Republic and we can’t stop the Empire if Rator decides that enough is enough and annexes the planet again.  The Federation is their best bet.”

Carolyn shook her head, “This is going to be tricky and full of diplomatic space mines.  We piss off the wrong person or group…and all hell…, well in this case…more hell is going to break loose.”  A sigh, “They’re not wrong.  The Federation is the most stable thing they could hold onto in this whole situation.”  A question surfaced in her mind, “What about the Prime Directive?”

Ethan nodded, “The Prime Directive was discussed.  Aside from my opinion that particular decision is well above my pay grade.  This comes from the top fleet brass here.  Now, this is where we come in.  There is concern that there are Tal Shiar agents on Psi Velorum and they are there to undermine the Resik Administration.   To what degree we don’t know.  While assassination is not exactly Romulan style it isn’t above them either.”

“It is a near certainty the Tal Shiar is present on Psi Velorum,” Tomarah confirmed with a conviction that suggested she knew more than wadding public knowledge. “And, I assure you,  they aren’t there to take in the sites and enjoy the local cuisine.”

“So we’re going to Velorum to root out the wee buggers?” Dougal asked.

Ethan shook his head, “No, we’re going to infiltrate a Tal Shiar field office on Rator.”

“Bloody hell!” Dougal exclaimed.

Crawford looked to the Romulan governer to Talon and back again, “We never do things easy, do we?”

“No,” Ethan confirmed, “the easy way isn’t in our job description.”

“Well, I’m glad we have the cloak.  Speaking of which where’s Audren?” Aimee asked.

“Unfortunately Sub-Commander Swiftblade will not be joining us,” Ethan stated. “She is back on Talaria engaged in the  Moltoval Ritual and is indisposed at the moment.”

“Moltoval?” Dougal asked.

“It’s Narlin mating season.  Hylons don’t have the physical need like Narlins, but the ritual is deeply spiritual to those on Talaria.  It has the same religious undertones as Ramadan,  but with the celebration of Mardi Gras,” Aimee said. “Audren had warned me about this.  With all that’s going on, I had forgotten about it.”

“Sounds like a bloody rock concert,” Dougal said with a smirk.

“Enough,” Ethan announced.   “Carolyn you will just have to manage the cloak. Also, you have six hours to get our power signature to look like a Romulan transport ship.”

Crawford furrowed her brows, “The cloak I can handle.  The power signature…that’s going to take some work.” She put up her hands, “But I can do it in six hours.”  She nodded to Governor Tomarah, “I may ask for your assistance, Governor.”

Tomarah nodded, “I am no engineer,  but I know what an appropriate Romulan power curve looks like.”

The CEO smiled quietly, “With our powers combined, we’ll get us in and under the wire…hopefully with no problem.”

Ethan entered commands into his keypad and the image of Resik changed to that of a yellow and black wireframe representation of a small settlement shimmered into existence.  “Our mission parameters are simple: Infiltrate the Tal Shiar field office and steal whatever intelligence we can get on Psi Velorum including any names of operatives present on the planet.” He pressed a key and an animation of the Pike appeared and landed in a clearing outside of the settlement. Ethan continued,  “We will remain cloaked and land three clicks outside of town.” A dashed path in yellow led from the ship to a small building in the center of town.  “Jolie this operation is yours. You will lead Tomarah, Carolyn, and Mikaela into the building.  Aimee, Dougal, and I will remain with the ship as an extraction team.”

Jolie looked over the laid-out course as Tomarah spoke.

“I was able to obtain two authentic low-level Tal Shiar credentials for  Ms. Kyo and Crawford.   I am a well-known traitor so my identity will not be questioned.   Ms. Kovalev, you also will be provided with a Romulan citizen ID, and their records will show that you are an associate of mine.” Tomarah handed out Romulan PADDs containing their new identities.  “Ladies, these are legitimate credentials,  but it’s up to you to sell it. You will need to know your backstory backward and forwards.  Any slip-up or hesitation we are all doomed and our only hope is for quick deaths.  We aren’t strolling into the market here.  This is one of the most secure facilities in the Quadrant. The only more difficult facility would be the Tal Shiar Headquarters.”

Crawford looked over her PADD, a sly smile, “Dad always said I was a drama queen in high school.  Guess I get to test that theory out.”

Jolie looked away from the holographic display, “Actually, Tomarah, there is one person, recorded and still alive, that has snuck into and out of the Tal Shiar HQ,” she stated as she looked at the PADD in front of her.

“Then you know what to expect,” Tomarah replied hiding her annoyance with Jolie.

Mikaela stayed silent and accepted the PAAD. She silently read over it, looking at the key details. Her time undercover would serve her well, though it was limited in experience. She looked around at everyone else, then at the map, analyzing it as she was wont to do.

Ethan nodded and pressed more buttons. The map changed to that of the interior plans of the field office.  The console that contained the needed information flashed red. “Jolie,  what do you think?  You’re team lead on this op.”

“It’s doable but I am more concerned with sympathizers.”

Jolie then widened the map to show a small village that was along their course.

“Sympathizers?” Tomarah asked raising an eyebrow.  “We should get little attention especially disguised as Romulans.”

Crawford frowned.  She would have agreed with the governor, but the concern from Julie was enough to get her thinking and asking, “You think they’re more than they seem?”

“Tomarah, with all due respect, after what this crew has been through, and some of the shit that was have witnessed. I wouldn’t put it past anyone to drop a dime on some new-looking faces that suddenly show up out of the blue,” Jolie said as she nodded in agreement with Carolyn’s comment. “We all know that things tend to not look like what they appear to be. It’s one of the reasons why we are who we are and why we operate as we do. We see things that normal people and normal fleeters don’t.”

The Romulan woman stiffened and while her expression remained neutral Jolie’s words struck a nerve, “The settlement is not so isolated that a new face isn’t unexpected,  and the Tal Shiar documents cost me most of what little favors and connections I have left inside the Empire. You should be able to walk into Tal Shiar Headquarters with it, not just some field office.  Even if questioned,  stick to the cover story that you have captured me and my associate and you are taking us in for questioning.  Every good magician uses distraction.  Use me as such.”

Jolie shook her head. “I couldn’t in my right mind place someone that is under my command in such danger. Even if it meant a greater success,” she stated as she looked at Tomarah. “Not even you.” She looked back at the laid-out plans and thought for a moment, “We’re just going to have to hope that ‘luck’  is on our side,” she said with a resigned tone to her voice that was followed by a soft sigh as she returned the map back to its original size.

“I have been doing this a long time Commander,” Tomarah said crossing her arms.  “You weren’t even in diapers when I was a Tal Shiar operative aboard the Empire’s Warbirds.”

“Tomarah won’t be able to step foot on Rator III without her immediately being arrested. She served on the senate so it won’t just be the Tal Shiar that recognizes her. Either she sits on the sidelines for this or you stick to the plan,” Ethan said. “It’s your call, Jolie.  I can assign Dougal in her place, but I think her insight would be useful, and she’s right about the benefits of distraction.   It’s a covert operative’s greatest ally too.”

A growl left Jolie’s lips when she know that someone was right about something she objected to. She looked at Ethan, “You know this is wrong, cowboy,” she stated in a lowered voice. Nevertheless, she turned to Tomarah, “Gear up,” she says before she turned back to Ethan. “Have Dougal and the remainder of the crew on standby, just in case.”

Jolie then turned away from the CIC table and headed for medical. It was time for her to get her Romulan face-lift.

Ethan glanced at the others and shrugged,  “You have your orders. Dismissed.” Ethan watched the crew move out of the lounge leaving him with just Tomarah.  They sat in silence,  him sipping his coffee.

“Your first officer is not pleased.  Do you think she has the right temperament?” Tomarah asked.

Sighing he leaned forward on the table, “She’s got to learn sometime. I can’t lead every mission,  nor should I, but I have a feeling she’ll figure something out.”

Tomarah raised an eyebrow,  “If she doesn’t kill everyone first.”

Ethan winced. The governor was right. “Then she’s washed out, but she’s at the end of her chances in Starfleet and I have faith in her. Known her and her family far too long.  Good people and even better officers.”