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Part of USS Mogrus: Ih’shikaen Mnhaeu (A Family Bargain) and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Captured Revelations

A Romulan Warbird in the Oumoren System
June 7th, 2400; 0800 hours
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Left, left, right. Fifty paces. Left. Turbolift for three junctions. Muninn, blindfolded, followed the prompting of her captors’ rough shoves. She knew that Lish, at least, still lived because she could hear him whimper somewhere nearby every now and then, in clear distress.

After a brief fight, they had been subdued and beamed off the Mogrus and onto another ship, presumably the Romulan warbird that had been attacking them.

After decloaking almost on top of them, the battle had only lasted as long as it did because they clearly wanted the Starfleet vessel intact. Muninn hoped desperately that they did not change their minds and decide to scrap the ship, with poor frightened Asenth hidden away in its guts, all alone.

The turbolift came to a halt and there was the swish of automatic doors, followed by a guttural snarl from somewhere in front of her.

“Take that off her. And that one, he’s useless, bring him to the medical facilities. Go, now!” The voice rasped and rolled, managing to be at once papery and wet.

A moment later, Muninn’s blindfold was pulled back, her eyes adjusting almost instantly to the relatively dark lighting on the Romulan bridge.

A Reman stood before her in full battle regalia, the sort worn by their people during times of crisis, when the Romulans used their kind as shock troops on the front lines. The slick black uniform highlighted the height and sinewy strength natural to his species, and the high collar accentuated the batlike features of his face. He smiled, the expression somehow unnatural on his toothy and twisted features.

“Starfleet,” he said, “we’ve been expecting you. Surprised not to find your Klingon friends waiting for you?”

Muninn glanced to either side. Lish was being ferried back into the lift on a stretcher. She caught a small moan from him as the doors closed. Of the rest of the Mogrus’ crew, no sign. What are you supposed to do when you’re captured? Dim memories from the basic training classes at the Academy filled her mind.

“We are a Starfleet ship on a routine resupply mission, operating under the explicit authority of Resak and the Independent Velorum Government.”

The Reman scowled. “My name is Hartresk, and I do not recognize Resak’s right to command all Remans to appease yet another colonial power.” He leaned closer, his breath strangely sweet, like fermenting peaches. “We expected you, as I said. But we did not expect… you.” He straightened, opened his arms as if to take in the whole of the warbird’s bridge. His clawed fingers stretched, menacing. “I remember humans from the war. Your kind were crushed by the Jem’Hadar at every possible turn. What my soldiers say you did makes you interesting.” 

“Starfleet officers are prepared to defend themselves,” she said, keeping her voice as calm as possible.

He grinned, pointed teeth protruding past his thin lips. “And the best defense is an offensive sally, is it not? Does Starfleet truly think that its subterfuge will go unnoticed? That we have not noticed the proliferation of your Klingon allies within our space, looting and murdering?”

Muninn raised an eyebrow. “I’m not a political officer, Hartresk. I don’t know anyting about Klingons.” That, at least, she could say with absolute certainty.

“No? Well, I know that they are charging in with their empire’s name on their lips… but conveniently enough, they have met with fierce resistance from Starfleet. Our great savior. I wonder how gullible your people think we are, to send such obvious proxies to our shores.” Hartresk leaned closer, reached out, and pinched the teal fabric of her uniform. “And what about this? When Starfleet dresses up its Intelligence Agents in the clothing of doctors?”

“Intelligence Agent?” Muninn opened, then shut her mouth. In the Reman’s eyes, a glint of something furious showed itself for just a moment. A lifetime of pain and rage the likes of which she could not fathom, and suddenly, she felt a twinge of fear deep in her belly. 

“And not the first,” Hartresk said, the words soft and sibilant as a snake’s hiss. 

Her mouth suddenly dry, Muninn tried to rally. “I am not with Intelligence. My name is Muninn Musgrave, I am a counselor with Starfleet Medical.”

“I’m sure that if we look into your alias, we’ll find that you’re everything you say you are. Your people do a very good job infiltrating the worlds you seek to one day absorb. Or did you think I didn’t know about the hologrammed camps your Federation erects on worlds across the quadrant? Even your own people have revolted against you, ashamed of your collusion with fascist powers… or did The Dominion’s destruction of the Maquis make it easy to forget a troublesome thorn in the Federation’s side?” He stepped back from her, his smile gone, his eyes deadly and dark. “We will not be the next absorbed region, Starfleet. We will not trade one obvious Imperial master for another in kinder cloth.”

***

Nothing more came from their conversation, and Hartresk soon bade his soldiers remove Muninn from the warship’s bridge. She felt vaguely woozy after the conversation, now aware of just how much of a dangerous position they had found themselves mired in. Hartresk clearly believed that she was some sort of Agent Provocateur, sent to undermine the Velorum sector’s revolution. And he’s taken my killing of his boarding party soldiers as proof. A moment of nausea passed over her as she remembered the burned-flesh smell in the air after her phaser fire. The two dead Reman soldiers on the deck of the bridge. 

One of the paramount things that they taught all Starfleet officers during the Academy combat classes was that hostile action should always be met with the bare minimum of return force. Was it something else, then? Something inside of me that overran my training? She had never been in real combat before. What if some part of her augmented being liked having the opportunity to kill?

The lift stopped after five junctions, and she felt one of the Reman soldiers behind her shove their weapon butt into her back. She stumbled, fell against another Reman in front of her, brushing her face against their uniform as she did so. Light flowed around the edge of the fabric of her blindfold.

While the soldiers shoved her on, she blinked carefully out from the little gap she had made, taking stock of her surroundings. The air held the damp, stuffy odor of too many bodies crammed into a tight space, too much for the atmosphere system to cycle properly. The lighting, dim as everywhere else on the ship to accommodate for the Reman’s weak vision, filled the corridors with shadows. 

No, not just shadows.

Remans were everywhere, sitting against bulkheads, affecting repairs to power junctions, talking in little huddles. Surely, some of them were hardly more than children. And almost all wore ragged clothing, some even in the threadbare orange of convicts. Very few wore the shiny black carapaces of the Reman warrior elite. 

Another series of turns down corridors, another door, and then Muninn found herself roughly tossed into a forcefielded cell in the ship’s brig, one of three others currently occupied.

“Lieutenant!” Allan Alia-Ledgard stood with a small wince from the bare floor of his cell as Muninn’s guards left the room. He looked weary, but alert, his face seeming older and more lined in the dim lighting. “What happened? Where did they take you?”

She recounted everything quickly, while Allan, Maria, and Shavar listened. Allan sighed when he heard of Lish’s condition. 

“Poor Lish. Better news than I expected, though, to have him taken to their medical bay.”

Maria winced and touched her forehead, where dried blood covered her skin. “Wish they’d extended that all around.”

“Muninn moved closer to the edge of the forcefield and peered at the engineer’s wound. “It looks like mostly a laceration, but you were unconscious, so you probably have a concussion as well. Do you feel sleepy, weak knees, nauseous?”

“A little,” Maria admitted. Didn’t think much of it.”

“You’ll be fine, just don’t nod off.”

Shavar glanced toward the closed door. “Bit nuts that they think you’re a spy,” he muttered. “Think they’ve got eyes on us in here?”

“Privacy’s a Federation policy, Ensign,” Allan said with a small smile, “not a Romulan or Reman one. And not for prisoners, in any case.” He glanced at Muninn.

“Anything else you can remember, Lieutenant?”

“Only that… well, I don’t think we’re dealing with an all-military group here. The ones on the bridge were soldiers, sure enough, but the rest of them? They’ve got civilians filling the corridors, and not just those doing repair work, either.”

“Likely from the local moons and asteroids that were being mined,” Allan said. “I think we’ve stumbled upon a revolutionary relief mission.”

“It’s not a new ship, either,” Maria said. They looked at her, and she shrugged. “Well, it’s not. See that panel on the wall over there?” She nodded toward the brig’s far side, where an exposed maintenance panel’s circuitry glowed. “That’s original multitronic circuitry. I mean, Romulan computer systems are kept simple even in the most modern designs, but I’d stake my pips on this being a first-run warbird, probably circa sixty-one or sixty-two. I mean, this might even be one of the original eight B-Type warbirds produced! That would explain why they didn’t overwhelm us… the earliest model only had a single torpedo tube and ten disruptor emitters…” she trailed off at the looks on their faces. “What? I’m an engineer and I like history, is that so crazy?”

“Not at all, my dear,” said Allan, a genuine smile lighting up his face. “It just means that you’ve once again proved that I’m the luckiest CO in the fleet.”

“Well, there’s something else too,” Maria said. “Does anyone notice how musty it smells?”

Muninn nodded. “I did. There are a lot of people jammed in here.”

But Maria shook her head. “No… it’s not that. A ship like this? Normal crew compliment of fifteen-hundred, sure. But its systems can accommodate up to fifteen-thousand in an emergency. Sure, for extremely limited periods of time, but still.”

“Wait on, hold it,” Shavar cocked an eyebrow disbelievingly. “You’re telling us they’ve got fifteen-thousand Reman refugees here?”

“I’d doubt that,” Allan said, a faraway look in his eyes. “I think Maria’s point is that this warship is held together with spit and tape. It’s not meant to be out here, doing this sort of run, let alone getting into tangles with Starfleet. It’s the projection of strength, the idea of a D’deridex battlecruiser, nothing more.” He looked over at Muninn. “You said that this Hartresk thought you were an Intelligence Agent?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Muninn hesitated only a fraction before replying. “I don’t know. But he seemed to think that there had been others. Which I think might refer to Helen Anderson, the woman we came here to find.”

“Hmm…” Allan stroked his beard, other hand on his hips. “Well, that says something right there. We’re not dealing with experienced politicians. Starfleet Intelligence is more likely to be running an undercover operation to smash a pirate syndicate than they are to be embedding officers in a Reman revolution.”

“Hartresk struck me as a mainstay soldier, Sir,” Muninn said. “He mentioned seeing Starfleet officers engaged in combat during the Dominion War, which means he was front-lines. A shock trooper for the Romulan Star Empire.”

Shavar whistled. “My cousin, Kamal, served the Fleet during the war. He was just nineteen then, but he’s told us stories of relief missions to front-line colony worlds. Can’t even get my head around how that’d have looked if you were really on the ground.”

“No,” Allan said, “none of us can. The attrition rate for the Reman soldiers was exceptionally high against the Jem’Hadar, largely because they were used as an expendable shield for the Romulan Legionaries. Someone like Hartresk might see Starfleet through that lens. Allies with his hated Romulan masters, profiting off of victories bought with the blood of his kin.”

They were all silent for a moment after that, considering. Muninn’s mind again swam with the image of the dead Reman soldiers, the phaser that did the deed warm in her hand. “I should have been more careful. I should have stunned them,” she said, suddenly.

But Allan met her gaze instantly, his expression hard as diamonds. “Stuff that back down, Lieutenant. Second-guessing yourself after the fact is perfectly normal, but you did the right thing. Usually, officers new to the field freeze instead of fire, and I’ve seen the consequences of that course too many times. We’re empathic creatures, at our cores, so it makes sense to care when you kill. But those were trained soldiers, and Romulan disruptors don’t have a stun setting.”

Muninn nodded, though the tight knot in her belly remained.

“So,” Shavar said after a moment, “what do we do now?”

“Now?” Allan settled himself cross-legged on the floor of his confinement space, facing the door. “We get some rest and see what happens next.” 

Comments

  • Given the breadth of the Fleet Action and the stories being told, your take on the politics of Velorum has got a stellar story hook to it. These Remans who don't trust Starfleet's helping hand are compelling; their point of view seems pretty natural to me. Even more, it was clever twist for these Remans to fear the Klingon attacks were staged by the Federation. Again, it's a natural fear, and you've dramatised it really well. At a more individual level, Muninn remains the star of this chapter. Her questioning her own self --if she has a killer instinct-- is unsettling. It was sweet for Allan to try to console her, but it doesn't look like those questions have been quieted at all. I have to imagine she'll be tested again before this mission is over!

    June 30, 2022