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Part of RRW Jarok: M1-Part I: Adrift

Pre-Mission: Assembling the Team / Herrana

New Romulus
2400, October 5th
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“So does that sound good to you, sublieutenant?” Saren asked Rhianna Isha. He had just explained the whole report from the scout ship and what Saren plans to do with that information. Then he had directed her to find them a runabout and prepare it for a full team. Saren is not sure if he will have a full team, but it would not hurt to be prepared or to have extra equipment.

“I think you’re nuts, with all respect, sir,” Isha told him. She then took in a deep breath and sighed. “But with you leading the team, and eventually in command of the warbird…yes. Yes, sir, it sounds good.”

“Are you sure?” Saren asked her. “You’re going to be my Strategic Officer on this, and as my Strategic Officer, I need your full support.”

Isha took in another deep breath and sighed again. “How about this? I pull up what plans we have on the Valdore-class,”

“Which we should have easily, considering a good chunk of the Republic Navy is Valdore-class warbirds,” Saren added.

“Right. I should be able to draw up a few plans specific to a situation if it came to it.” Isha told him.

Saren smiled. “Good. Then get to it.”

Isha stood up from her seat and began to make her way to the door before she stopped and turned around to look at him. “Are you sure about that woman? The one you are choosing to be on our team?”

Saren looked down at the padd which had a full detailed file on a Romulan woman. The file belonged to Herrana Orex. Saren then looked back up at Isha. “I am. Let me put it this way, Isha. You’re on my team because you fought by my side and saved my life as well as many lives in the Kani Colony. This woman is the same reason.”

Isha smiled as she understood. “Of course, sir.” She then returned to her path out of his office, only for his door to be seconds away from being closed to sliding wide open again. It was Vice Admiral Terik and she looked concerned.

“I was wondering when you were going to arrive, Admiral.” Said Saren.

“I want you to be very honest with me, Commander. Did you just submit a request for Herrana Orex to be on your team?” Terik asked him.

Saren nodded his head. “I did.”

Terik sighed heavily and then began to pace slowly in front of his desk. She looked at him and then at the padd that was there on top of his desk, and she could see the face of the woman in question. “Then you know what she has been doing?”

Saren cleared his throat. “I do, Admiral but please, enlighten me.”

Terik approached the front of his desk and scowled at him. “This is not a game, Commander! You could be putting yourself, your team, and this mission in jeopardy!”

Saren stood up from his seat, now at eye level, he stared directly into hers. “I do not think so, Admiral. I am thinking about my team and this mission, and I believe that Commander Orex will be a valuable asset!”

Terik took in a deep breath, then sighed heavily as she relaxed. “She was a Commander when she was in the Imperial Navy. Only she was removed for disobeying orders.”

Saren shook his head. “She chose not to be the Romulan who kills other Romulans!”

“Those ships she didn’t fire on belonged to the Free State and they are the enemy, Commander! So, by that fact, she would have disobeyed me or some other Admiral in the Republic if we had given her the same order!” Terik raised her voice at him.

“Except no one knew that they belonged to the Free State at that time! She sure didn’t!” Had raised his voice as well.

For how long they have worked together, they both took a moment to regain their composure before the discussion continued. Terik was the first to continue it. “She spent most of her years, since her removal from the Imperial Navy, as a civilian atmosphere transport pilot. And when she wasn’t flying, she was drinking her life away. She allowed a decision that took away her career to ruin her life, her mind, and her body. She’s unhealthy, unfit, undisciplined-”

Saren raised his voice back up, only so slightly. “She saved my life, S’anra!” Saren then selected a tab of information that was pieced together from several sources, picked up the padd, and handed it to Terik.

Saren then waited patiently for a couple of minutes for Terik to read the file before he continued. “During the Dominion War, Commander Nurakh, the commanding officer of the Harakon, had been rendered unconscious. Herrana Orex was his first officer at that time, and she assumed command per regulations. The Dominion Dreadnought’s shields were nearly gone and yet a lot of our warbirds were focused and engaged with the other Dominion vessels. My commander saw the opportunity and took it, and it seemed that Herrana saw the opportunity as well. She used Harakon to screen the D’Dara when we went in on an attack run for the dreadnought. Because of Herrana, she gave us the chance to unleash a full barrage of our weapons on the dreadnought and destroyed it, saving thousands of Romulan lives, including mine.”

Terik sighed and placed the padd back down on Saren’s desk. “I am not sure how we missed that.”

“I am not disappointed in you, S’anra. I’m disappointed at the other Admirals who also viewed Herrana’s application, though I’m sure not all of the Admiralty had a chance to view it. But you are all so bent on loyalty and obedience that when you dig into someone’s past and see what you do not like, you immediately turn a blind eye without digging deeper. So, I dug deeper and that’s what I found, and I am glad I found it.” said Saren.

“She is still out of shape and those eleven years as a civilian do not make her look good,” Terik told him.

“Then give her to me and I’ll get her back on track. I owe her my life, S’anra, so I am giving her another chance. One that she deserves,” Saren told her.

Terik stood there, clearly in thought, and then her lips grew into a smile. “Fine, we will give her that chance. We will accept her application and commission her as a subcommander, she will not get her original rank back due to several reasons. Reasons that I have voiced pretty clearly.” Terik told him. “On one condition. Since you want that warbird as your ship, she will be your first officer.”

Saren smiled. “I don’t see an issue with that.”

“Oh, I’m not finished. If she so much as disobeys a direct order, or slips up, or gets someone killed, she will be terminated and removed from the Republic Navy and her record will show it.” Terik told him. “And you will be demoted back to subcommander, where someone else will command that warbird.”

Saren’s smile faded. “That’s a hefty price.”

“You want her on your team? Then you will be responsible for her and her actions, as much as any commanding officer is responsible for their crew and their actions. Am I wrong?” Terik asked.

Saren shook his head and sighed. “No, Admiral. You are not.” Saren took a deep breath. “Fine. I accept the conditions.”

Terik smiled. “Good.” She then began to make her way out of his office before she stopped, turned, and looked at him. “I know you won’t fail, S’Tev.” Then she left his office.

Saren took in a deep breath and then sighed heavily with a shake of his head. “I don’t know if I am crazy or this desperate for command or both.” He said to himself before he sent a text message to Herrana’s communicator, which just told her to come to his office.

Herrana strode up to the door to Commander Saren’s office, then took a minute to compose herself and make sure she was up to code. She had to admit that the Republic did know how to design a uniform – the olive-drab utilitarian jacket that had become the mainstay of the New Romulus Navy was much more comfortable and ergonomic than the bulky grey blouses of the Old Empire… even if this particular jacket was a bit more snug around her midsection than she would prefer. 

Sighing, Herrana pressed the doorbell to Saren’s office.

“Come.” Said Saren.

Herrana strode in, doing her best to put that old Star Navy military bearing back to work. “Prospective-officer Herrana Orex, reporting as ordered, Sir,” she said, snapping to attention and performing the cross-the-chest Star Navy salute.

Sir. This officer would have been kissing her boots while she was a Warbird commander.

But, she supposed, the only person she could blame for her current position was herself.

Saren gestured to the chair across from his desk. “Please have a seat.” He asked and waited before he continued. “I guess you are wondering why you are here, so I will get straight to it.” He leaned back into his seat and relaxed. “How much do you remember when you served on board the Harakon?”

Herrana did as she was told, formally taking a seat at Saren’s desk.

“Quite a bit,” she said firmly, making sure there wasn’t an ounce of doubt in her voice. “One doesn’t forget the first vessel they served on as a senior officer. And of course, as with many of my fellow veterans, the events of the Dominion War are very thoroughly burned into my brain.”

Saren nodded his head in agreement with her. “Neither do I. The D’Dara was my posting as first officer during the Dominion War. It is where a lot of us became experienced, hardened veterans.” He waited to see if the name of his old warbird clicked or not; either way he put a pin in that and moved on. “I have a problem, Officer Orex.” He then lifted up his padd and turned it around for her to see. It had a list of her activities from when she left the Imperial Navy to when she joined the Republic Navy. “No matter how deep the hole and how much you fill it with drink to try and drown it away, ‘Disobeying Orders’ tends to find its way back to haunt you.”

The name D’Dara struck Herrana as familiar, but when she heard what Saren said after it, all she could do is scoff. She arched her eyebrows and chewed on her cheek for a moment in contemplation as to how to respond.

“Disobeying orders…” she said almost mockingly. “Yes, I refused to fire on a warbird ferrying civilians to safety. Is that going to be what stops me from joining up with you people? You know, the Federation has a policy that says officers are allowed – no, mandated – to ignore illegal or immoral orders they receive. Given how much the Republic seems to worship them, I’d have assumed you would implement a similar policy.”

Saren raised his own eyebrows after her explanation. He then pulled the padd away and sat it back down on his desk, after he allowed those words that she had said repeat in his head. He then smiled.

“Flag Officers have problems with soldiers not following orders. To us, we see civilians. To them, they see potential soldiers who would join the ranks of their enemy and become our enemy and for that, they are the enemy.” Saren raised his eyebrows and lowered them in one single motion as if his way of shrugging his shoulders, but with his eyebrows as he leaned back into his seat. “I’m sure you knew where they were going but regardless of if you knew they belonged to the Free State or not, you did what any patriot to the people would do, not to the Empire.” He sighed as he slowly shook his head. “Romulans killing Romulans. How far have we fallen.” He asked rhetorically.

Herrana nodded along with Saren, encouraged by his understanding. She wondered if his dismissive attitude towards Flag Officers was common in the Republic Navy. During her time as a captain, most of her mistrust was directed at the Tal Shiar or Reman detachments… perhaps it was just the nature of sapients to always find an enemy in their own ranks.

“Indeed,” she said as he finished speaking. “I found the lack of cohesion amongst our people to be the real tragedy of the Supernova. You think of the state you serve as a cultured, unified force, but once things hit the fan… it turns out most people are just out for themselves.”

Saren nodded his head and he continued on. “Unfortunately, command is not too pleased with your record. Along with the disobeying orders that we discussed, it’s also the fact that you reduced yourself to an unfulfilling job. By that, sure you served the people but then you tried to drown your past in liquor with essentially all your earnings. So that makes them wonder if you’re even fit to come back to the navy. How would you set an example to the crew when their commanding officer looked like she got pulled out of a bar?”

“We all dealt with the loss of Romulus in our own way,” Herrana said firmly after a brief but pointed pause. “And I’m not going to be showing up to shift drunk or hungover, Commander. I assure you that I am very well-versed in the importance of how the crew perceives senior officers, as I’m sure you’re aware that I spent over a decade commanding a Valdore. The Republic will never have its reputation damaged by my actions off-duty, I promise you that.”

Herrana sure hoped that she’d been able to bring back that old Warbird Commander voice of confident authority. It had certainly been a while since she’d used it.

Saren smiled and stood up out of his chair. He made his way around his desk and leaned back against it. He placed his hands on the edge of his desk and looked directly into her eyes. “Remember that battle with that Dominion Dreadnought? It became very important to get rid of it when it’s shields were nearly gone. I was the first officer on board the warbird that you screened with yours, the very one that destroyed that monstrosity.”

“Ah, I knew I remembered your ship name from somewhere,” Herrana said with a snap of her fingers. Well, no wonder this guy had vouched for her. “That… uh, that was a good day. The Harakon crew certainly popped open a bottle of celebratory ale after that fight.”

She suppressed a wince. Not the time to bring up booze, Herrana… she mentally scolded herself.

Saren just laughed as he brushed that off like it was nothing. “We all did, because of you, a lot of lives were saved.” He reached behind him to retrieve the padd, only to swipe here and there before he presented it to her to take it. “I discussed with Vice Admiral Terik about assigning you onto my team. Because I have her trust, command has chosen to commission you into the Republic Navy but at subcommander. Think you know why.” He told her before he pushed himself off his desk. “But we’re done discussing about the past.” He reached over and pressed a button that brought up a holo-display, showing an image that the scout ship had taken of the Valdore-class warbird that was found adrift.

“You are going to be my second in command on this team. We’re going to take a Kestrel runabout from the hangar here, all the way to this warbird. The scout ship commander decided against taking a closer look.” He then pressed a button and another display appeared next to the image, which showed the long-range scans. “As you can see here, the singularity core is online. So, the commander was afraid of an ambush situation. We just do not know what the Imperial Navy is up to anymore, especially after the fall of the Romulan Star Empire.” He pressed one more button, another display on the other side of the image came up, which showed exactly where the warbird is on a galactic map. “It is adrift here, outside of our border, right where it used to be claimed by the empire.”

Subcommander. Herrana knew she should be honored just to receive that rank after so long out of the service, yet she couldn’t help but feel insulted. 

However, the moment the display brought up that derelict Warbird, Herrana’s mind snapped into focus, returning closer to her old commander mentality than she had in years.

“The ship looks pretty intact,” she said, eyes affixed to the image of the Valdore. “No damage on the nacelles indicative of compromised FTL…” She looked a bit closer, then wracked her brain for a moment, calling upon all the Valdore information she’d stored away over the years. “That hull patterning on the nacelle-side quarter of the heat sinks indicates that it was manufactured at the Crateris shipyards. The Remans slaves there were a little fast and loose with the EPS systems to the impulse thrusters, so since there’s an active power core, the thrusters would be flickering or straight-up ignited if there was runaway electro-plasma distribution. Given that they aren’t, that’s a good sign for the integrity of the Warbird’s internal systems. That’s great if we want to claim it, but maybe not a great sign if you’re afraid of an ambush. What’s our security detail like?”

Saren smiled at her detailed examination of the warbird. Impressive, he thought. “Seems you were much more invested in the Valdore’s more than I was when I served on the Intrakhu.” he said before he got back to the mission. “It is possible that the safeties are holding but for how long, we will not know until we get on board. Plus, long-range scans can’t necessarily guarantee accurate results on life signs. So that’s an issue as well.” He then manipulated the holo-display, where he placed the image of the warbird up top while he brought up the team.

“So far it is going to be you, me and Sublieutenant Isha. I fought alongside her on the Kani Colony when the Klingons raided it. She’s a good soldier and will follow orders.” He then pointed to Hakona Parau. “I will be visiting the hospital in a couple days to recruit her. Figured that if there are injured on board, or if one of us were to get injured, she be the best to have at our side.” He explained then he pointed to a Romulan male. “This is Taval N’Vek. I will reach out to him tomorrow. With him and his expertise, we should be able to restore functionality to the warbird.”

Saren sighed. “That’s what I have so far. Not a large team but if by chance this is a suicide mission, then it is probably best to have a small team.” He told her as he looked at Herrana. He tapped his chin for a moment as he remembered what she said earlier. “Unfortunately, you might have to get used to the idea of Remans helping us. Because I believe, to ensure the victory of this mission and securing this warbird for the Republic, we will be needing a Reman Commando.” He then grabbed a smaller padd off his desk and handed it to her. “And I want you to select that Reman.”

“Well, I suppose security detail is the most effective use for a species like the Remans,” Herrana said as she took the padd, looking over the collection of commando dossiers. “It may take some time to perform a thorough background check on these individuals. Would it be alright if I returned to you in a few hours with my decision?”

Saren nodded his head. “That will be fine. We won’t be departing for a few more days. Then it will likely take us a few more just to get there. So we will have plenty of time to brief and be prepared.”

“Understood,” Herrana nodded. “I will return with a chosen Reman operative when called. Is there anything else you require of me before we set off?”

Saren had contemplated the idea of Herrana being told about the terms to which he had agreed with the Admiral but he decided to hold off on that for now. At least until a moment required it. “Just bring your best gear, if you have it.” He joked.

“Yes Sir,” she replied, then decided to end things with a bit of self-depreciating levity as a way to show that she was aware of her situation and not letting it stop her. She gave her rather generous midsection a pat, and said “I’ll bring everything that still fits.”