“Captain’s log stardate seven-seven-three-six-five point three. With the arrival of Grand DaiMon Deliaros, our efforts to help the inhabitants of Vorash have begun. Though my discussions with the Qowat Milat have been insightful and damn right brutal in most cases, understanding what has happened here over the last decade and a half has given me a wider appreciation and respect for the settlers’ struggles. The task before us appears relatively easy in a logistical sense; we have a lot of work to convince these people we are not their enemies and that we’re still the same crew that helped them find this home all those years back. The crew are responding with the dedication I expect from them as they have all delegated tasks to assist the people of Vorash.”
Landing the Boyd softly on a patch of dirt, with the rain still thundering down around them, Tomaz took the engines offline and activated the computer encryption lockout system as his team started to prepare for their departure. He had volunteered to fly the Type-9 shuttle to the orphanage. He had heard from the Qowat Milat that a few who worked at it were injured or killed during one of the quakes. As a result, the sisterhood had been sparring with some of its members to provide further help, but it was not going to be a viable long-term solution.McCallister had offered the services of his counselling department and some repair teams to help the orphanage. Tomaz had volunteered to join the team and suggested they install a photonic field generator with several holograms designed to assist with caring for and looking after the children at the orphanage. Authorising the idea, McCallister had given Tomaz the green light for the mission.
“You want some help with that Decter?” The Barzan male called out to the deputy ops manager.
Looking over his shoulder with a tricorder in one hand, the Rutian male flashed a smile and a nod to his superior. “If you don’t mind, sir.” He answered before looking back at the generator.
Decter Jines was of a similar height and build as Tomaz. Unlike most Rutian males, who liked to have long curly hair, Decter had changed his to be relatively short, but his thick lock of grey wisp on the right side was apparent. Jines had left his homeworld of Rutia IV as a child with his family and later became refugees on a Federation colony. Eventually, they became citizens, and he made his parents proud when he joined Starfleet. From what Tomaz had heard, Jines had been at the academy during Captain McCallister’s tenure as a special guest lecturer. McCallister had mentored him in his final year before McCallister had gone off to command the Triton. When McCallister had moved from the Triton to the Odyssey, he had offered Jines a position on the ship. As such, Jines had been on board the vessel for his entire career since graduation, slowly working his way up through the ranks.
The two men went to work placing the generator on the anti-grav unit so that they would be able to transport it into the orphanage. Though heavy, they eventually put it on the small support vehicle with extra help from Counsellor Samris.
“Are we sure the Qowat Milat will be happy with holograms helping them out?” Samris asked Tomaz. The Romulan counsellor sounded concerned about the whole idea.
“Why wouldn’t they, Samris?” Tomaz questioned his comrade.
Jines then piped up, “I have reconfigured the holograms to look like Romulans, and I added a range of files to their databases around Romulan culture, heritage and history, so they don’t come across as too Federation-y.”
Samris seemed very uneasy about the whole thing. “I’m not sure; the Qowat Milat I’ve encountered always preferred a simpler way of doing things.”
“Samris, the captain spoke with their leader, and she assured him that she and her fellow sisters would welcome any assistance we can provide.” Counsellor Horin remarked from where she had been sitting as she put on the final gear they were all wearing for their away mission.
Horin would be leading the away team as the senior-most officer. However, she and Tomaz had agreed it would be a joint venture, especially as they still weren’t one-hundred per cent certain of the safety of everything happening around the settlement. Though the away team was armed with type-II phasers, as it was standard procedure, a couple of Lenjir’s security officers were there as an extra backup. Everyone was wearing the heavy weather duty jackets and tactical vests underneath them. Horin had protested at them wearing such attire, mainly as they were meant to be helping children. Still, the captain had overridden her objections stating he wanted everyone to take extra precautions for their safety. As soon as the shuttle’s aft ramp hit the ground, the team lifted their hoods over their heads as they made their way out and towards the orphanage entrance.
Like almost every other structure, the building itself was built out of the remnants of the convoy that Odyssey had rescued a decade and a half ago. However, compared to most of the main buildings in the settlement, this one looked newer and appeared to have been cared for. The rain wasn’t helping make the scene appear any more positive than it already was. Pushing the generator towards the entrance, the team entered the building and were approached by two members of the Qowat Milat.
“Jolun tru,” they both said with a slight bow of their heads.
Returning the sentiment, the entire team had been briefed on the protocol with the Qowat Milat members. “I am Commander Louwanna Horin; this is Lieutenant Commander Tomaz along with Lieutenants Samris, Jines and Ensigns Shire and Grex.”
The two sisters welcomed their guests. The taller of the two came forward, “I am Lizvanna, and I oversee the work here at the orphanage.” She looked straight at Samris. “Brother, you are Romulan, yes?”
The away team looked at the senior assistant counsellor; he looked at Horin and Tomaz first before answering her. “Yes, I am.”
Lizvanna smirked at him. “From your accent, I’d say you lived near the coast of the Apnex Sea.”
Samris nodded. “I did.”
A small smile appeared on her face. “As a little girl, I enjoyed swimming in the Apnex Sea many days with my brothers. On a good day, you could see the sea floor.”
Agreeing with her statement, Samris nodded. “I have many great memories doing similar things.”
Lizvanna looked at the others, “We greatly appreciate you coming to help us. Sister Jew’leanar mentioned you had a gift for us.”
Tomaz spoke up as he revealed the generator between him and Jines. “We heard that you lost some of your…colleagues,” He paused as he considered how to be diplomatic to a warrior nun. “We’re hoping this generator can help you by creating holographic programs that can support your work with the children.”
Bowing her head to show her gratitude, Lizvanna thanked the team. “There are only four of us left to look after just over one hundred and two children. Those who used to volunteer with us have not returned in days since the storms started. Any help we can get will only serve the children better.”
Horin then interjected. “Sister Lizvanna, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but the last time the Odyssey was here, the orphans that settled here were all housed in families. How come you have so many now?”
Sighing slightly, Lizvanna recounted that a refugee ship crash-landed on another nearby moon in the system only a few years ago. Most of the survivors were children. “And with the help of Grand DaiMon Deliaros, we could set up this orphanage. Most of the rescued children were placed into families, but no one else had any more room or the capacity to look after them. Instead, the Qowat Milat said we would help raise the children.”
“That’s very generous of you,” Tomaz stated.
“Generosity is a vital value to have when supporting those in need,” Lizvanna said, looking at the Barzan man. She looked at him intensely for a moment. “Caring for the young is a worthwhile goal, do you not agree, Lieutenant Commander Tomaz?”
Taking a breath and noticing the worried looks from both Horin and Samris, Tomaz agreed with the nun. “It certainly is.” He answered with a slight croak in his voice.
“Parenthood is not for everyone, but parenthood is certainly a gift,” Lizvanna stated before suggesting her fellow sister take some of the group to go set up the projector while she went on to show Horin, Tomaz and Samris the rest of the orphanage.
Being led into a large hall, Horin, Samris and Tomaz were instantly shown a room full of children of all ages, either sitting around playing with toys or reading books or drawing. They all looked happy and healthy.
“You’ve done a remarkable job here, Sister Livwanna.” Horin complimented her.
“Thank you.” She answered with a gracious nod. “The children respond well to our order.”
“What will come of them all as they get older?” Samris asked.
Lizvanna continued to lead the group through the centre of the hall. “The girls will grow up and be allowed to join the Qowat Milat, while we are hoping to train the young men to support our efforts around the settlement. Nevertheless, they will all have the right of determination to become members of our world.”
Noticing a young boy sitting by himself drawing, Tomaz walked over to him with Lizvanna’s blessing. Sitting down on a wooden chair beside him, Tomaz spoke up. “Hello, what’s your name?”
Looking up at him, the young Romulan boy gave him an instant grin, and within that moment, Tomaz thought he had a flashback to the Quirennal when he had been matched to look after Jeddie. Taken back by it all, he took in a deep breath before calming himself down instantly. The boy answered him. “S’Tem.” He put his pencil down. “What’s yours?”
“You’re not Romulan or Reman,” S’Tem expressed, staring at the big man next to him. He had huge bright blue eyes and a smile with big dimples. His right arched eyebrow had a small scar through the middle.
Shaking his head, Tomaz confirmed the child’s observation. “I’m Barzan.”
“Barzan?” S’Tem repeated. “Are you part of the Federation?”
“My world isn’t, but I serve in Starfleet.” He answered as he showed him the insignia on his jacket.
S’Tem nodded to show he understood. “Cool. Are you the captain?”
Chuckling at the question, Tomaz hated to disappoint him as he answered. “I’m afraid not.”
While they spoke, both Horin and Samris caught on to the scene before him. Livwanna finished explaining what they were doing when she saw the exchange between Tomaz and S’Tem. “Fascinating.” She uttered.
“What is?” Horin questioned.
Lizvanna looked at the chief counsellor, “S’Tem has not spoken to any adult here since the day he arrived. He’s only spoken to the other children. Your Lieutenant Commander Tomaz is a natural with children.”
Samris and Horin exchanged a smirk with one another. “That he is.” Samris agreed before the nun continued to show them around and explain what they needed help with.