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Ch 3 : The Meeting of Heroes (or Villains) [ Day 1 | 1500+]

[ Corridor Outside Conference Room | D. 1 | V. 1 | 1500hrs ] ATTN: @Brutus  @Stegro88  @GroundPetrel  @P.C. Haring  @Nolan   @Juzzie   @Eirual @Tae @Nesota Kynnovan @AbsintheDeux

Taking one last moment to collect herself, Natalie looked at her reflection in the refresher alcove attached to the Captain’s Ready Room. Her hair was in place, done up in a sensible bun. Her uniform was in order, and she’d reviewed the talking points long enough. There was no point in waiting any longer. Security had already notified her that Martok and his escort had arrived. She had debated meeting the man in the transporter room. Still, she had demurred in favor of remaining on station at the bridge until they arrived, instead entrusting Lt. Commander Akoni to the task.

Exiting the Ready Room, she entered the corridor around the bridge module and swiftly took her place at the doors to the conference center. She noted the presence of two diplomatic department members assigned to the meeting. She had limited experience with both, though she was aware of the Caitian Diplomat as Lt. Madsen had been using the Ensign as a diplomatic gopher across the Helmet.

A quick glance swept over them both, and finding nothing amiss in their bearing, the XO simply offered them a tight, quick smile before turning back to face the corridor, knowing she had scant minutes, if that, before their guests arrived.

[ Petty Officer 2nd Grade Abel J’olan ]

J’olan nervously tugged at the cuffs of his long sleeves. During the upcoming meeting, he would be sitting at the conference room’s monitoring station, meaning he wouldn’t likely be called on to say anything, but he would also be in the presence of high-value individuals. It’d been so long since he’d been given this type of task that he felt more than a little out of practice. But he was grateful the CDO had granted him this opportunity, even if his stomach was currently turning circles.

“They’re here.” L’Nari’s voice whispered low near his ear, pulled J’olan from his thoughts, looking up just in time to see Lieutenant Commander Akoni with a contingent of security personnel come into view.

“Game faces people,” she added, straightening up her shoulders and affecting a look of calm confidence that she wasn’t entirely sure she felt. In the wake of Akoni, she could see the muscled figure of the Chancellor of the Klingon Empire, head of the House of Martok, and hero of the Dominion War. No pressure at all she told herself.

”Chancellor. Welcome back to the USS Theurgy. It is an honor to see you again, though, as always, we could but wish for better circumstances.”

“To meet an ally tested in the fires of battle on the eve of another great battle is cause for celebration, Commander, not solemnity.” Martok bared his teeth at the redhead and the officers close to her in a Klingon gesture of bravado. “My people are eager to end the reign of those SI'neyq for good. No matter what it takes, we are here to ensure their destruction.”

Well, she couldn’t argue with that and dipped her head in agreement. ”I concur. Time is of the essence. Please proceed into the conference room and make yourselves comfortable. Though I do request that none of our guests carve their name into the tabletop with their d'k tahgs this time.” She flashed them a toothy grin and got a set of deep belly chuckles in turn as the party moved past and into the conference room.

[ Ensign Brad Bennett ]

He hadn’t meant to lurk in the corridor, but it certainly felt like he’d been lurking. Waiting until the Klingons and their aides and the bulk of the diplomatic department moved into the conference room, Bennett moved forward before the commander could likewise follow.

“Commander Stark,” Bennett fought the urge to blush under the beautiful woman’s scrutiny once he called her attention to himself, “I have an urgent update from the Intelligence Department.” Handing over the PADD of data, he glanced into the conference room at the men and women getting themselves seated before verbally adding. “We believe those sensor shadows reported a few hours ago are the beginning of hit-and-run tactics that others in the region have reported. We’re uncertain now if the Mo’Kai rebels are behind this or if it is someone else.”

Lucky for Ens. Bennett, Natalie was oblivious to the Ensign's internal struggles to maintain calm around the brunette Martian. She might have been horrified or flattered if she had the knowledge, but she didn’t and thus was unphased by any potential awkwardness. She took the PADD and looked over it as she listened to his report, a frown forming on her lips with every word. The news wasn’t great, but not liking the news didn’t change the news.

”Well, that ups the stakes some,” she concluded, handing the PADD back to the Ensign. Whether it was Mo’Kai or perhaps Romulans or even Orions inserting themself into the sector, Natalie couldn’t know. But she could do something about it. ”Very well. I’m going to be preoccupied here for the next little bit. Relay the following orders: Have Operations boost our sensor gain and extend the net as best as possible. Tachyon surges at random intervals. They know what to do. Interface with the Chancellor's flagship and suggest they do the same.” She waited until the Ensign nodded his understanding and added, ”Have the fighter screen mix up their patrol route. Prep a fast flyover of the last noted disturbance. See if we can shake something out. Other than that - maintain yellow alert. Dismissed, Ensign.”

With that, Stark turned on her heels and moved into the conference room. As the doors slid shut behind her, Ens. Bennet heard her say, ”If we are all ready, let us begin...”

Bennett made eye contact with J’olan, giving the aide a subtle thumbs-up as he passed by to follow Stark’s orders. Despite not being a pilot, Bennett would much rather be in the flyover than in that room right now.

[ Chancellor Martok | Conference Room ]

The young female commander made a brief speech of sorts to start the meeting, and before any of the other officers, especially those of a diplomatic nature, deemed it fitting to add in more useless prattle, Martok knocked his knuckles against the table.

“We are here because we want to eradicate the Infested from our people and prevent further incursions of their kind into the Federation. They have proven themselves capable of twisting even the strongest of alliances into potential bloodbaths and have no honor. The coming war cannot have quarter. We cannot waste time looking to ‘save’ those whom those snakes once inhabited. If we give into the Federation's tendency for compassion at this time, they will spread further. They know our weaknesses almost better than we know them, and they will prey upon those weaknesses.”

He paused, pleased when his men and even a few of the Theurgy crew nodded in agreement. The more highly ranked officers, those more skilled at hiding their true feelings, merely stared at him, waiting for him to finish.

“Empress Donatra is not someone to be trusted. She cares nothing for the Federation and despises my people. This alliance can only be temporary, and it would be foolish to think otherwise. Once this battle ends, we have no lofty goal of having open borders and trading with the Romulans. It is not in their nature to trade openly or share sincerely. Praetor Tal’Aura is no better, and the she-wolves are both baying at the moon for blood, destroying their people in the process. In this, I can empathize. My own people are still divided because of those traitorous Mo’Kai.” He scoffed. “But at least I don’t have a she-wolf nipping at my heels.”

Natalie took a moment to cut in at that point, careful with her words to avoid stepping on the Chancellor's heels. At the same time, she felt a need to channel the distrust and potential bloodlust. 

”While we may be fortunate to ring some longer good out of this moment, these talks with Donatra, one I would welcome if only because it would be one less knife at my back, Chancellor Martok is right. We have a common enemy. The infestation that worms its way, duplicitous and honorless, into the halls of power across our corner of the galaxy. From the highest chambers to the lowest chasms of society, they have wormed their way into attempting to use our own flaws against us. But we have faced a threat like that before. Many of you are brave survivors of the Dominion War. We know how to stamp out that kind of threat.

“So yes. We’ll strike a bargain with Donatra. We worked together to defeat the Changelings. This threat is greater. Make no mistake. They aren’t just replacing people, they are usurping their very being. We cannot allow that to spread any further.”
She felt a cold fire in her gut as she spoke. These were impassioned words and ones she wasn’t entirely comfortable with. Not that she was saying them. But that she meant them. Her better angels were taking a back seat.

“Usurping or otherwise, we will not hesitate to use deadly force against anyone seen as a foe.” One of Martok’s chief aides leaned forward and growled his contempt. “We have no way of separating the snakes from their hosts and we cannot waste time in trying to figure that out in battle. So,” he wagged a finger towards the Starfleet crew, “if you have any desires to save those who’ve been overtaken, you best have people dedicated to finding out a way of doing so that can be shared across borders because until then, our policy is death, immediate and complete.”

Martak watched with vague amusement as the chief diplomat, if he remembered correctly, one of Colonel Hauq’s Starfleet contacts, squirmed in her seat and leaned forward to speak.

“You cannot be faulted for such a stance, especially considering how high up the Infested infiltrated before their truth was made known. We are still ferreting out those in Starfleet and, more recently, we have suffered from an attack from the Infested using Praetor Tal’Aura as a puppet. We will not seek to impose misguided morality upon you in a time of war,” Martok let out a breathy snort, watching his aide relax a bit at her words. “However, our science department is working on that very thing, learning how to separate the host from the parasite, and once we know how we will convey that to you and all the Federation.”

His aide nodded to Martok, signaling his satisfaction with the answer. The Chancellor looked at the rest of his aides, curious who else would speak up. He’d given them leave to speak their minds as openly with these Starfleet personnel as they had with him prior to arriving. He knew that there was at least one more matter…

“We don’t want any Romulans on our ships,” one of the captains in his armada said, breaking the momentary silence. “While we may be making a deal with them to fight a common enemy, they have proven themselves duplicitous enough over the years to merit such caution. Starfleet crew with proper clearance and accompaniment by KDF personnel may come aboard, but no Romulans. Period. If the Romulans have something to convey to us, they may do so through your people.”

Well, that will complicate matters a bit, but I’m honestly not surprised, the young Commander thought to herself, nodding slowly in acknowledgment of the words. ”In principle, that is acceptable. As you are undoubtedly aware, my crew consists of a few Romulan ex-patriots who have earned honorable commissions within Starfleet. I expect you to extend the courtesy to them that you would any other Starfleet officer with the appropriate clearance. But we will handle any direct physical contact with Donatra’s personnel and keep them off your ship.”

Natalie fixed the Klingon who had made the statement with a level look, jaw set, and placidly folded hands in front of her, as if daring him to counter her corollary agreement to his demands.

The chief diplomat leaned forward again, seeking to draw attention to herself as she spoke, “There will be a casual meal planned after Empress Donatra arrives.” She waved a hand to encompass the group. “Where we can all mingle and assess and begin the alliance, even if it is temporary, on equal footing.”

“Equally uncomfortable on this ship.” An aide grunted under his breath in Klingon. Martok snorted his amusement, not disagreeing with the statement but careful not to publicly condone it either by commenting on it.

“Very well, let us know the time.” The meeting over, Martok cleared his throat, nodding to his aides. They wisely stood and waited for him by the door. Using his body to create a semblance of privacy, he turned in his chair and leaned closer to Stark before he spoke.

“I will have my aide send what information we have on an encrypted channel, but I have reason to believe that there is a saboteur among our forces.” He shook his head at the commander when it looked like she wanted to say something. “We don’t know if it is one of those damned snakes, a remnant member of the Mo’Kai, or someone else, but we think that they will see to destroy our efforts to make an alliance with Donatra. As such, we need your people to look into the matter.”

The day just kept getting worse, and there was little she could say to make it better. Sensor ghosts, negotiations, and now potential saboteurs in the Klingon contingent. Given the serious nature of what was about to unfold, the negotiations Martok outlined...well, it made sense that someone would try to throw a wrench into the works. ”Consider it done, Chancellor. We’ll need access to your logs and ships, but we’ll do our best to be discreet about the subject. If it is our infested enemy, we can expose and deal with them now. And if it is one of the more disaffected members of Mo’Kai,” here she paused and allowed her expression to grow cold. ”They have attempted to test themselves against my mettle before and suffered the consequences. They are welcome to try again. The results will be the same.”

While Martok spoke with the commander, Colonel Hauq shifted away from the rest of the delegation to intercept the one officer in the room he’d had the most run-ins with, and not all of them particularly positive.

“Lieutenant Madsen,” Hauq gestured for the diplomat, or rather bedlam incarnate, to come closer once the meeting officially adjourned. “I am uncertain if I should bring this to your attention or to another department.”

The woman’s body immediately tensed, an almost predatory alertness dancing at the edges of her gaze as she stepped closer. “Whatever it is, you can tell me. I will relay it to the correct people if necessary.”

“Indeed. Senator Ath’aK Noggra seems to have lost his daughter.” The diplomat’s eyebrows rose in mute question. “Although he hasn’t stated it outrightly, he seems to be blaming his alliance with the Chancellor for her disappearance. There are murmurings that he may distance himself and remove his forces from Martok if she cannot be found unharmed.”

“I see. That is indeed something that bears looking into. To be clear,” Madsen’s lips pulled upward in a half smile, “so we don’t have yet another misunderstanding, are you asking Theurgy to look into this covertly, freeing your people up to deal with other issues, or are we working on this jointly?”

Hauq sighed. “While it seems to be an internal matter, I felt it could do with an outsider’s perspective because of the upcoming council meeting with that Romulan leader. As you said, we have many other matters to attend to that are truly internal, and, frankly, the disappearance of a nobleman’s daughter is the least of our concerns.”

The woman laughed, swatting Hauq’s shoulder without warning. “No, we bleeding-heart humans will chase our tails looking for a lost targ, eh?” When he didn’t share her laugh or smile, she sobered, clearing her throat. “Send me what intel you have on the matter, and I'll consider looking into it. I’ll contact you if anything comes up that we can’t handle, at least not without causing you more stress.”

“Lieutenant, if you are not already aware of how stressful your mere existence can be on any system of government or protocols, then you have deceived yourself mightily.” He gave her a semi-formal bow, then turned away to file out with the rest of the Klingon delegation.

[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen ]

Enyd rolled her eyes at the man’s departure, more amused than miffed—no point in trying to deny it when what he said was true.

“Commander,” Enyd crossed the room to stand next to the commander once Martok left with his aides, “One of my contacts in the KDF just brought some interesting leads and will send more intel later. I think some of it my department could take care of, but much of it, in my opinion, is better slated for Intelligence.”

”Oh great. You’ve been dragged into the cloak-and-dagger back channel mess as well? Something else?” Stark asked, then realized that wasn’t exactly the most tactful response considering she was the ranking officer aboard. Sighing, she put a better face on the subject.

Enyd nodded. “Since Pierce is away, who is the acting lead in Intelligence? I can have all the intel I get sent on to them.”

”Junior Lieutenant Dantius, if I recall,” Natalie said after a moment of reflection, pleased that she was able to remember the name. Another connection formed in her mind, recalling a conversation she’d had not terribly long ago that involved - indirectly - the intelligence analyst (and possible spy - she never did check to confirm that). Red creeped across her cheeks and down the back of the neck as Natalie remembered how very descriptive Lillee had been about her paramour and covered it with a small cough. ”Somewhat junior for the position, but Intelligence is spread a bit thin. The truth is, I have another matter I need them to poke into. Martok thinks he has a saboteur, and we’ll need to start a snipe hunt to find it. Maybe we’ll get lucky, and it’ll all be related.” Somehow, Natalie very much doubted that.

I’ll inform the Lieutenant of whatever details you pass along.”

“Very well,” Enyd smiled at the commander, “thank you for taking the lead. Technically, you had no choice, and it comes with the territory of the rank. But, truly, thank you. Please let me know if you need anything else or want me to take care of it before Donatra’s forces arrive.”

”I’m sure I’ll come up with something to keep you busy, Lieutenant. Not that you aren’t already,” She pursed her lips, longing for another cup of coffee and likely a dose of painkillers for the headache she could feel blossoming behind her eyes. ”Just keep the Klingons from causing any further problems before the Romulans show up. I need to go talk to Ops and see if they found anything on the raiders we’ve possibly been picking up. Good luck, Lieutenant.”

OOC: This post opens up the availability of a number of story prompts noted here (https://uss-theurgy.com/w/index.php?title=Story_Prompts) that may be pursued with writing partners following the Ch # S  [ Day #  | Time  ] Title (story prompt title) for these supplemental threads. Stay tuned for another JP for Donatra’s arrival!

Re: Ch 3 : The Meeting of Heroes (or Villains) [ Day 1 | 1500+]

Reply #1
[ Corridor outside C.O. Ready Room | D. 1 | V. 1 | 1900hrs ] Attn:  @Stegro88   @GroundPetrel   @P.C. Haring   @Nolan    @Juzzie    @Eirual @Ellen Fitz

The Romulans had come into formation only a few minutes prior, arriving late by the Klingon’s standards and just on time by the Romulans, leaving the Theurgy crew with the first of many potential diplomatic obstacles.

[ Crewman 1st Class Kass Lourdes ]

“Please don’t fuck this up,” Kass groaned to the security officer standing close by. “Romulans aren’t known for their sense of humor.”

Petty Officer First Class Peter Hildebrandt chuckled, “Neither are diplomats.”

They both turned at the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps, sharing mirrored expressions of mild disappointment and intrigue when they spotted Ensign Bailee Gutierrez from the Intelligence Department hurrying towards them.

“Have they arrived yet?” She heaved a sigh of relief when both men shook their heads. “Is the commander inside?” She gave another sigh when they nodded. “I’ve got a report for her.” Guiterrez didn’t wait for a response before she pressed the button and waited for the command to enter. “Commander Stark, we have more reports on the Mo’Kai rebels gathering forces in this region, and our contacts on Qo’nos have stated that there have been some violent altercations in the past few hours. Colonel Hauq, our main liaison with the Klingon intelligence group, believes several covert cell groups are readying for a full-scale attack.”

Looking up as another woman in a red tunic entered the door, noting the rank, Natalie Stark sat up a little straighter and was about to speak when the Ensign rolled into her report. Whatever the martian might have been about to say died on her lips as a frown flashed across her face. Just what I did not need, not now, she thought to herself and resisted the urge to run her hand over her face. Instead she took a deep breath and let it out, reminding herself that she could focus on one thing at a time, honest. It could happen. She’d done it before. Tackle this just like any other problem. Treat the symptoms of the system failure and then go after the source. Reroute then engineer.

”If the Colonel has actionable intel on specific locations, we can afford to send a few of our fighters out to deal with the issues. They’re already on wider screen patrols to sniff out potentially cloaked interlopers. I know we need as many people on hand as we can here, given that we are hosting both our ‘guests,’” such a polite way to describe two groups that would often as not rather kill each other than look at each other, despite their history of collusion in the past. ”But ask security to see if they can round up a strike team just in case we need to send back up. And have medical ready to lend aid as well.”

Given their need to stay where they were for the moment, Natalie could only do so much. Ordering the Helmet into an engagement right now was out of the question.

[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen ]

For the first time, Enyd cursed that her only real interactions with Romulans had been with Romulans, who’d bucked the norm and decided to strike it out on their own. Even before she’d joined Starfleet, Enyd had taken great pains to study up on the Romulans, ever fascinated with those distantly related to her. Granted, her Vulcan ancestry was much “closer” than her Romulan ties, but that hadn’t stopped her ferocious desire to understand these people.

But none of those studies and, certainly, none of her interactions with Valyn, Hirek, or any of the other Romulans onboard Theurgy had prepared her for Empress Donatra and her attache. While not quite Vulcan aloof as they’d stepped off the transporter and fell into step behind her, Enyd leading them toward Stark’s ready room, they certainly hadn’t been anything more than alert. Enyd had known better than to force familiarity with them, instead relying on civility and efficiency to guide her words and actions. But even then, it was quite obvious from the way Donatra looked at any passing crewmember, her attache members as well, that she loathed standing on this ship, despised having to make this alliance, and could not wait to return to her own people.

Stopping just shy of the C.O. ready room, Enyd’s hand dropped back to her side when the door swished open, and an Intelligence aide stepped out. The woman’s amber-colored eyes went wide with shock, and she froze.

“Ensign, we’ve come to see Commander Stark.” Enyd tried to coax the woman into action with her words, but when the ensign continued to stare at the Romulans as if she were prey in the sight of predators, Enyd reached out and lightly pushed at the ensign’s shoulder. “That’ll be all.”

The ensign squeaked some sort of answer before scurrying along the corridor's edge, quickly disappearing from view. The passageway clear, Enyd gestured for the Empress and her attaché to precede her into the room where Commander Stark had already waited. Coming in on their heels, Enyd got a faceful of Romulan uniform, glancing up at the towering woman serving at the Empress’s guard with an apologetic smile. She hadn’t realized they’d stopped just inside the room or that they had no notion to go ahead and sit down.

“Commander Stark, Empress Donatra and her attache wish to speak with you regarding the details of their presence here.” Enyd finally skirted to the front of the group of six Romulans. “Please,” she nodded to Donatra, “have a seat, Empress Donatra.”

Enyd waited until the Empress did just that, moving with a confident sense of regality before she dared to take her own. Most of the Romulans would remain standing, but the three heads would be able to sit for the meeting at least.

“I cannot wait for speeches,” Empress Donatra sneered at Stark when it looked like the woman was ready to say something. “We will abide by no Klingon on our ships, and only those Theurgy crewmembers cleared by our security and, with express permission from their superiors, may come onboard our vessels for specific missions. We will not take orders from a Klingon, nor will we take orders from you.” She curled her upper lip. “Any intel that is provided, we will choose to respond to as we see fit for our people.”

Commander Stark would have liked a moment to breathe after having dismissed Ens. Gutierrez with new orders to counter - in as limited a capacity as they were able - the machinations of the dissident members of House Mo’Kai, said commander was not afforded that opportunity. The Ensign hadn’t even fully made it out of her Ready Room when the delegation arrived, and Natalie was forced into action, standing swiftly, but she prayed, not in a fashion that looked to terribly rushed, before she offered her own brief welcoming statement and echoed Lt. Madesn’s entreaty to sit. She too waited until the Empress sat, before resuming to take her own chair, and glancing about at the escort accompanying the Romulan head-of-state before turning her focus to the woman in question.

What she got had her raising an eyebrow in an almost Vulcan fashion and fighting off the urge to chuckle. She was fairly certain that would not go over well. She’d spent more than a bit of time individually with various Romulan members of the crew after the one joint meeting had gone poorly, to try and get a better understanding of the situation with the Empress and any insight they could offer. Additionally, she re-read the mission logs of the Enterprise and their encounter with then Commander Donatra during the Battle of the Bassen Rift. Plus her own studies at the academy, taking every class offered on Romulans, given her then roommate.

All in all the woman did not disappoint.

”Then with your leave, Empress, I’ll skip the welcome speech and dive right into the heart of the matter, much to my speech writer's dismay.” There was no speech writer, but some poor sod from Madsen’s department was going to have a fit over this. ”I have no intention of giving you or any of your ships orders. I remember how things worked during the Dominion war. That is what I am seeking from you here and now. That level of cooperation. It is what I expect of you. It is what I expect of the Klingons. And it is what I expect of my crew. We have a common enemy. We deal with it, together. That is in our best interests. A massive war on the scale of The Dominion War, or greater, is not to the benefit of any of our peoples.”

Natalie held her gaze for a moment, all the while praying that the other woman would not realize just how damned terrifying her mere presence was. It was everything she could do not to visibly gulp under the stern glare of the Empress. Some might claim the woman was an upstart but from where Natalie sat, she held the reigns of power quite convincingly. Remember, this is the one that is on your side. Finally, she allowed herself the smallest of smiles.

”As for your stipulations regarding the Klingons, it may amuse you to know that they had the exact same stipulations regarding their ships, my personnel’s ability to board them, and a distinct lack of desire to allow any of your people aboard their vessels.” That was perhaps a bit of a jab at the other woman, flaunting the similarities between her demands and the Klingons but it got the point across. ”Thankfully for all parties involved, the Theurgy stands ready to serve as a neutral party between your two peoples. With all due security checks and authorizations and pre-screenings prior to boarding, for whatever reason, either of your parties may need to be here, and of course, to facilitate any meetings between your respective groups. I will expect that your people continue to behave themselves with the same restraint and decorum that they are currently exercising here and now.” That was delivered with a level gaze to every Romulan in the room that was not the Empress, ”And I have already communicated similar expectations to Chancellor Martok’s party.

“In exchange for such cooperation, I will offer full access to all our current knowledge about the infected threat, their behaviors as we have currently observed, what machinations we have discerned, and the countermeasures we have currently developed. We will, as stated previously, facilitate any...coordination of joint efforts against our common foe. My ship will serve as the bridge between all involved parties. No one has to talk to anyone they do not wish to. And I’ll even do my best to keep the speech making to the bare minimum required to satisfy the diplomats we’ve all brought to the table.”


Donatra sat mute for a moment after Stark finished. It was difficult to determine her exact emotions, or at least any emotions, aside from resigned animosity and general disgruntlement.

“We will comply within the parameters of the agreement so long as it benefits the Romulan Star Empire. You may not look to us for aid in recovering your reputation or place among your own people, and neither may you look to Romulan space as a safe haven for respite. So long as my people remain divided in loyalties, it is not a place for an outsider to intrude upon unless they wish to seek their end.”

”That is all I ask. This alliance is one of necessity. I have no illusions to the contrary. But aiding each other is in our best interest. Stamping out this threat to the wider galaxy is a task we must bend our wills to.” She thought of missions currently underway within Romulan territory and decided she would skirt the whole topic of outsider intrudance into their territory and political instability. ”And with all due respect to your rank and position, Empress, I doubt very much that even if you put in a kind word for us when the dust settles, that it would help over much. Nor do I wager that the backing of the Klingon Chancellor himself will change public opinion. I harbor no illusions of a hero's welcome when this is all done. I’m not fighting to salvage my reputation or secure my freedom.

“I’m here, now, fighting because it is the right thing to do. Because there is too much at stake not to. Even when we succeed against this invasive threat to our galaxy, I very much doubt my ending will be a happy one. But sometimes that’s the sacrifice that honor demands be made.”


It was not an easy thing to admit that dark-held belief that even if they won, Natalie had no future in Starfleet. She’d be lucky to be allowed to walk away when it was all over, or so she imagined. Too much blood had been spilt already. But perhaps acknowledging that would buy her some credit with the Romulans, a people who understood doing what was honorable even at the cost of their own life.

Sensing the end of the meeting and a desire for further private discussion between leaders, Enyd gave the Empress a formal nod and acknowledgment. Then she turned to give a mirrored one to Stark as she stood. “I’ll escort the attaches into the adjoining room.”

The attaches left the room only after another firm glare from the Empress confirmed this was indeed what she wanted. The Romulan leader waited until the door swished shut before she spoke again.

“My…” Empress Donatra tilted her head to stare at the woman who’d been her shadow all the while, “aide, Jaeih T’haelaa,” a smirk touched the edges of her lips at the word, “has something for your Intelligence department.” Donatra nodded to her “aide” before returning her hardened gaze to the commander.

The statuesque Romulan woman who, up to this moment, had been Donatra’s powerfully built shadow, shifted out from behind the Empress just long enough to hold out an isolinear chip toward Commander Stark.

“Your people will want to investigate this.” Her voice was like blades on silk. “The suspects outlined on the chip are all currently onboard Theurgy, helping to prepare for the dinner with the Klingons.” She inclined her head toward Donatra before adding. “We thought it would make this job easier.” She dropped the chip in Stark’s hand and stepped back behind Empress Donatra, resuming her silent but deadly persona.

The Starfleet commander reached out and took the chip from the statuesque woman with a slow nod, turning it over in her fingers after the other Romulan let it go. She wasn’t about to drop this into a file reader right then and there - not even Natalie was that naive, though by the same token she did not expect the claimant to the throne of Romulus to be so gouache as to hand over a virus out in the open. These people had tact, after their own fashion. She was unsure who would be more upset by the information on that chip - her intelligence department, or the Klingons’. Placing a private bet with herself, she nodded again to each woman in turn. ”I thank you both for your time. I will see to it that this acted upon swiftly. And I will arrange the aforementioned data packet with Intelligence to be delivered at your convenience. Madame Empress.”

Donatra fixed Natalie with one more piercing glare before standing. She didn’t bother with a respectful nod of acknowledgment before sweeping from the room, nor did her aide. There was nary a pause in her trajectory as she blew through the adjoining room, the rest of her entourage falling into step without a word as she blitzed by. From their general demeanor, it seemed they were all of the same accord: the more distance between themselves and the Theurgy crew, the better.


OOC: This post opens up the availability of a number of more story prompts noted here (https://uss-theurgy.com/w/index.php?title=Story_Prompts) that may be pursued with writing partners following the Ch # S  [ Day #  | Time  ] Title (story prompt title) for these supplemental threads.

Re: Ch 3 : The Meeting of Heroes (or Villains) [ Day 1 | 1500+]

Reply #2
[ Bridge Crew Mess Hall | D. 1 | V. 1 | 2000hrs ] Attn: @JacenSoloDjo @Ellen Fitz @Stegro88 @GroundPetrel  @P.C. Haring @Nolan @Juzzie @Eirual

The bridge crew mess hall had been “converted” into a semi-formal affair in the brief time given between the Romulan’s arrival and the ordered meeting between the three groups. There’d been more than a few grumbles of not having enough time to prepare, but none had reached the ears of Commander Stark. While not so fancy as what might’ve been arranged given more time, the mess hall did look much more formal and “fancy” than normal. And now the room was a strange mixture of scents, the table laden with an equally eccentric mixture of food. Basically, all ranking personnel still onboard the ship were required to attend this soiree, the hope being that through a more casual setting, the Romulans and Klingons could see each other as colleagues, at the very least, if only temporary ones.

[ Petty Officer First Class Michael Samuelson ]

“I’m so glad I’m just standing guard over this party,” Samuelson’s stomach heaved as his gaze studied the vast array of alien foods on the table, “I don’t think I could stomach all that. How do you do it?” He looked at the diplomat at his side, eyes wide in wonderment.

“Lots of prep work,” Crewman 3rd Class Jordan Wilde smirked at her friend as they waited for the grand arrival of both Klingons and Romulans to this feast, “I get some hypospray support beforehand for my sense of smell and taste and also to help my stomach bolster itself against anything squirming.” She subtly pointed to the gagh. “And I keep my focus on conversational cues, be they verbal or physical.”

Samuelson shuddered. “Sounds fucking miserable, man. Glad you’re doing it and not me. This alliance would end here and now if someone tried to make me eat half of this shit.”

“Ssh!” The Caitian diplomatic aide hissed at them from her position closer to the main entrance. From the scowl she shot them, it seemed she found their conversation as distasteful as Samuelson found the food.

There was no further preamble before the doors on the left swished open and belched forth a retinue of Klingons while, nearly simultaneously, on the right, the collective of Romulans entered. Samuelson snapped to an even more rigid attention, his mind sharp for details, though his body remained stationary.

[ Lt. Enyd Isolde Madsen ]

While they hadn’t exactly drawn straws in the interim between Donatra’s arrival and this formal gathering, Enyd had discussed among the diplomatic department which individuals felt more comfortable with which groups. L’Nari had not surprised Enyd by preferring the Romulans. At her side was Lourdes, while Wilde remained with Enyd and the Klingons. Giving her aides a quick nod of encouragement, she shifted closer to the Chancellor’s group as the others mirrored the action with the Romulans.

The other senior officers still onboard the ship, those not already in attendance, began to arrive soon after, all just in time for Stark to start the “festivities.”

And start them, she would. The current commanding officer of Theurgy’s primary vector stood in her ready room, working on the final adjustments to her outfit. She had debated with Lt. Madsen about what attire to choose for the occasion. On the one hand, all three parties involved were primarily military. On the other hand, both the Klingon Chancellor and the Romulan Empress were political in nature, and while both would take the field of command, they were also present in a diplomatic position for this joint mission. And while Natalie remembered more than one affair of state between the Allied powers during the Dominion war, all sharply wearing their dress uniforms, the Starfleet crew this time had to serve as a bridge between the two. Adopting a less militaristic but no less formal attire seemed fitting, and in the end, this was the choice Natalie had settled on.

Of course that meant attiring herself in a dress she would likely not wear otherwise. Though it was still a deep, rich command red gown, befitting her department and position, it could hardly be called a uniform. Especially considering it kept her shoulders completely bare. Still, they were making a statement, and she’d live up to it. Adjusting her earrings and settling her hair behind her shoulders, the Commander straightened and exited the ready room into the access hall that looped around Deck One, allowing herself to be escorted by a pair of guards (these in dress uniform as they would be serving a specific function and not merely mingling) and toward the doors to the Bridge Mess.

With a brief pause to acknowledge the officers stationed outside the doors, serving as both protection and greeters, Natalie took one last deep breath and tried to pretend that she did this sort of thing all the time. In her defense, she was getting plenty of experience rubbing shoulders with the powers that be of multiple polities in their little sector of space. The confidence still needed some work, though.

Don’t blow it, her inner voice quipped before she strode into the room like she owned the place, with her head held high, and noted that the Romulan and Klingon delegations had already split off about as she had expected. At least they’d left the food tables in a central location in an effort to force some mingling.

”Excellent,” she began by way of greeting, coming to a stop in the center of the room and slowly turning in place to acknowledge those gathered. ”I See most of us are here already. Delightful. To those that have not yet met me, I am Commander Natalie Stark, first officer and current commanding officer of the USS Theurgy - or at least that part of the vessel assigned to this joint effort. I welcome all of you to my ship, and to this moment. I already gave some speeches to you leaders earlier, so I will, with your esteemed permission, skip that and cut to the chase.

“We are here because we share a common goal and a common purpose - in this case, dinner.”
As she had hoped, that actually drew a few laughs from all parties. ”So far be it from me to get in the way of that. Please, help yourselves. Eat, drink, laugh, mingle, and try not to get blood on my carpet.”

In response to Stark’s introduction, Enyd raised the glass of blood wine she’d poured for herself, having already handed a larger cup to the Chancellor. The Chancellor and his aides did likewise, a few even giving Klingon growling grunts of approval. From across the room, Enyd say L’Nari working to get a similar “warm” response from Donatra and her aides but given their nature and the long history of backstabbing between their cultures, Enyd wasn’t surprised the Caitian was having more trouble.

She’d opted to wear a simple cream-colored gown with a red corset , the colors denoting peace and threat of violence at the same time. Most of those in the diplomacy department had similarly chosen white, blue, or cream for their colors of formal attire. It was interesting to Enyd, seeing who had chosen what color or style, as it potentially said much about their viewpoints on this alliance and the future.



OOC: All chapter writers are encouraged to join our new allies, even if they aren’t friends. You may introduce Klingon/Romulan NPCs or work with some of the ones already mentioned. Mingle and maneuver to your heart’s delight.

Please refer to the Cosmic Imperative Calendar (https://uss-theurgy.com/w/index.php?title=Cosmic_Imperative_Calendar) to note when the next major storyline event will be (hint: Day 2 1100hrs) and plan any supplemental threads, be they story prompts or personal, with that in mind.

Re: Ch 3 : The Meeting of Heroes (or Villains) [ Day 1 | 1500+]

Reply #3
[Lt. Reggie Suder |  Bridge Crew Mess Hall | D. 1 | V. 1 | 2000hrs ] ATTN: @Brutus‍  @Stegro88‍  @GroundPetrel‍  @Ellen Fitz@Nolan@Juzzie@Eirual@Nesota Kynnovan@AbsintheDeux‍ 

It had taken a bit longer than she had planned to get ready, and the short notice between the time on her patrol route and the time she had been given before the event was to start was not helping.  Truthfully she did not think she was expected a 20:00 on the dot, but even so as one of the senior officers aboard she did not feel right being excessively late. 

In the end she had opted for her liquid silver halter.  She had the replicator alter it a little, first to give her a little more freedom to sit comfortable, and second to reduce the length of the cape style train so instead of dragging on the deck, it ended at floor length.  If she had more time, she might have returned her hair to her natural jet black, but she found a way to tease it so the existing highlights weren’t overpowering.  That they had faded a bit since she put them in, didn’t hurt either.

She resisted the urge to run as that would have been undignified and for her to trip in the heels and fall while wearing that dress would be embarrassing as all hell. 

Brushing a stray lock of hair behind her right ear, the doors parted almost silently as she entered the mess.  It had been very quickly and very elegantly transformed to the point where if she hadn’t known the function of the room even two hours ago, she would have sworn it was dedicated to diplomatic gatherings.  Commander Stark was just finishing her remarks.  The Klingons raised their glasses, the Romulans seemed unimpressed, and the Starfleet crew offered a polite applause as they started to break up and attempt to mingle. 

For her part, Reggie made a point to exude a welcoming warmth, not only in her demeanor, but also she pushed a gentle hint of it out telepathically in the hopes that it might help to ease the tension under the surface.  Offering a polite nod to first a Romulan delegate, and then a few steps later she offered a bit more aggressive nod to a passing Klingon before she plucked a glass of champaign off the tray of a passing server.

“Reggie!”

She turned sharply at the sound of her name, the cape and the skirt of her dress fanning out ever so briefly as if she had intentionally been twirling.  She locked eyes on Khalil who had been talking up an uncharacteristically outgoing Romulan.

Seeing her cue she approached the pair, introduced herself to the young woman, L’Rel, a Romulan pilot and offered her own perspective on the debate as to the proper ratio of impulse to RCS thrust in high-G maneuvering.

Re: Ch 3 : The Meeting of Heroes (or Villains) [ Day 1 | 1500+]

Reply #4
[ Bridge Crew Mess Hall | D. 1 | V. 1 | 2000 hrs ] Attn:@Eirual‍ @Nesota Kynnovan@AbsintheDeux@Brutus@Stegro88@Ellen Fitz‍  @GroundPetrel@P.C. Haring@Nolan@Juzzie‍ ‍

Nothing to worry about. Not at all. Just Romulans and Klingons in the same relatively small space on a ship relatively delicate on the inside, Kath thought to herself as she brushed her scarred hands down the front of her red and black dress uniform. Perfectly pressed, perfectly clean, perfectly... stifling. Give her the tactical vest any day.


There was a big difference between diplomacy and just having tact and acumen. Katherine had grown up being dragged to important Starfleet HQ related dinner parties and then the annual cadet ball. That did not mean she felt comfortable in a suit or, in this case, her dress uniform. But she had the tact and acumen to know when to complain and when not to, so no complaints left her. It could have been worse, she supposed, she could be working security. (She allowed herself a small, private smile at her thought process because if this had been five or even two years ago she probably would be.)


She didn't find herself all that hungry, but her father had often quipped 'never turn down a hot meal, good or not'. And she supposed in this case it was just as important to make a point that all the food was perfectly fine and untampered with because 'see Starfleet is eating it'. And besides, it would be a great way to mingle even if she didn't eat, just kept food on her plate.

She arrived at the doors, gave a polite nod to the (un)lucky guards and listened to the tail end of Commander Stark's speech. Does bloodwine count? she thought to herself, her attention drawn to the carpet even though she had seen it plenty of times. She rubbed the back of her neck as she then stepped through the doors into the mess hall, decked out for the occasion. A familiar look, remembering when on the Hamburg it had been set up similarly when they got the news the Dominion War was over. Kath hadn't been all that hungry then, either, despite the clear cause for celebration (a part of her had hated herself for getting wounded in action and felt the celebration wasn't quite for her).


Brown eyes swept the room. She felt her back stiffen slightly at the sight of the Romulan delegation, more for the fact generally Romulans weren't known for their diplomacy (or their possession at least of tact and acumen) than any in born dislike of Romulans as a people. Her parents had done well to impress upon the younger MacFarlane to judge an individual, not their heritage. And Kath had more than once had dealings with Romulans (at least one she was actually sworn to secrecy about) that had not ended badly at all, including some in Starfleet colors.

Her attention was grabbed when, over the scent of gagh and blood pie, she noticed--

"Please tell me the krada is baked not broiled," she muttered, almost to herself, a hopeful expression flickering onto her face. She made a beeline for the food table set out in the middle like an island, if only because no one but the Klingons seemed interested in the Klingonese fair, and the Lieutenant hardly wanted to stand out during such a delicate time. The last time she had had krada legs was back on Starbase 36. The IKS Vask'at just had pipius claw and gagh. Even if she wasn't all that hungry, it didn't hurt to at least make a cursory inspection.

The disappointment she felt at the sight of the broiled not baked legs was palpable on her face for only a second or two, then she schooled it back into neutral. Well, fine, she would just have to replicate some later even if replicated never quite tasted the same as fresh. She had her friend from the Hamburg to thank for her appetite for Klingon fair. Nothing quite like finishing a training session of Mok'bara with bloodwine and krada legs.

Grumbling, her gaze went sweeping over the gagh (still alive and wriggling) and rokeg blood pie before finally finding the bloodwine. Boots didn't even whisper on the carpet as she made her way over to the bottles. Using a single finger, she nudged one of the bottles until the label was facing out. Well, at least something was good and to her taste. A 2320 vintage and next door was Martok's more favored vintage of 2309. Pouring a glass of the vintage almost twice her age, she bypassed the remaining food choices (though she did eye the criniti for a moment before deciding she wasn't exactly going to go for cookies just yet). If anyone asked she would just point out she couldn't carry a plate and a glass of bloodwine at the same time and enjoy both. Maybe the bloodwine would wake her appetite.

Kath rarely stayed stationary. Even at the Academy she had been moving in place without being too much of a distraction. She would make a terrible sniper, but was wonderful at giving the intel to the sniper. She noticed Chancellor Martok (of course) and was glad he seemed to be in relatively good spirits (with his spirits). And numerous other Klingons she recognized by sight and reputation but none she felt a Lieutenant could be chatting up.

She found herself almost halfway through her glass of bloodwine as she made a few more visual sweeps-- just to be on the safe side. Exits-- clear routes. Romulans-- in their metaphorical corner mostly. Klingons-- also in their metaphorical corners mostly. Once she felt she had a good idea of the layout, she went to refill her glass (draining the rest of it as she walked). And nearly slammed into a solid wall of Klingon thanks to both reaching for the same bottle at the same time. She had to be almost half a foot taller than Kath, the Tactical Officer hitting only 5'8" in regulation boots (thank you almost one inch sole).

<Walk much, Human?> the Klingon asked in a dialect Kath was luckily the most familiar with, narrowing her eyes down at the Lieutenant.

<I do a lot better when there isn't a targ shit load of Klingon in front of me,> Kath replied. <Looks like Chancellor Martok needs to be more careful about who he brings around with him.>

There was a pause. Kath could tell some people were actually looking over at the sudden burst of angry Klingonese. Her heartbeat thundered in her ears, hoping her time with her Klingon hybrid friend, NuQach, and her short time on the IKS Vask'at had not steered her wrong.

But then suddenly the Klingon in front of her was laughing. A large hand slammed on her (sadly unarmored) shoulder, making her knees buckle.

"
Ghuy'cha," Kath muttered in surprise by the force behind the blow. It just made the Klingon woman laugh even more boisterously.

<Ahhh. So many of you Federation types try to speak Klingon but you-- you know Klingons!> the Klingon woman said with a chuckle. <My name is Sangtew' daughter of Woluq. Here, let me fill your cup!>

<
My name is Lieutenant Katherine MacFarlane daughter of Alec,> Kath replied and watched as Sangtew' poured from the 2320 vintage they had both been reaching for. She found herself slightly amused that her father's name and Sangtew''s sounded a lot alike.

<
The Chancellor prefers the '09 but it's too old for me. And tart,> Sangtew' imparted before taking a long sip.

<
I'd prefer the '12 but apparently I have to choose between the '09 and the '20. I like them a bit younger but not that much. Just the right amount of sweetness I don't feel like needing a bowl of gagh to get the taste out of my mouth,> Kath admitted then took a sip of her own.

Sangtew' laughed again. <If I am being honest I expected your lot to have more chech'tluth; I'm told it's more palatable and only a bit stronger than Earth whisky.>

Kath shrugged her shoulders. <
I guess bloodwine seemed fancier. How long have you been with Martok's group?>

<
About a year. I'm just an adjutant. Hopefully there will be some action soon. Only so many times you can polish bat'leths,> Sangtew' replied.

The double war veteran barely frowned. In her line of work, it was the far better thing to stop a war before it got to the hot trading phaser fire phase (too late now, but still). But she knew Klingons weren't happy unless they were swinging a bat'leth or stabbing with a d'k tagh.

<
Being an adjutant isn't too bad. My dad is one.> A pause as she processed Sangtew''s words. <One of these days I ought to get one of my own. Using replicated ones isn't as fun,> Kath mused aloud.

<
Not only a bloodwine connoisseur but a wielder of bat'leths?>

<Actually I prefer Mok'bara, but I can swing a bat'leth. Just not all that elegantly.>

<Too bad about this... what do you call it in Federation Standard?> Kath watched her new Klingon friend frown (as much as a Klingon could frown) with concentration. "Shin... dig?"

"Shindig. HIja'."

<If it weren't for that, perhaps we could have a duel. Friendly-like.>

Kath laughed. As they walked and talked, she was always keeping her eye on everything around her. Looking for any subtle signs of problems. Not her job, but also no reason to be complacent just because you were enjoying some bloodwine with a new friend.




OOC:
Oh, look, Kath made a Klingon friend.
Ghuy'Cha= Damn/Shit/your favorite non-Fuck expletive
chech'tluth= Another Klingon drink, about 2x as potent as whisky.
HIja= Yes.
"And you know this how?" "I'm a spy, remember?"
Lt. Katherine “Darkstar Foxtrot” MacFarlane, Asst. Chief Tactical Officer, USS Theurgy (Vector 3)
[Show/Hide]

Re: Ch 3 : The Meeting of Heroes (or Villains) [ Day 1 | 1500+]

Reply #5
[Kelistina Kavot Droga | Bridge Crew Mess Hall | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | 2000hrs]
ATTN:  @Nesota Kynnovan  @AbsintheDeux @Brutus @Stegro88 @Ellen Fitz @GroundPetrel @P.C. Haring @Nolan  @Juzzie @JacenSoloDjo 


Kelistina was not certain if she would be welcome even though she had been informed of the gathering and was invited to attend. She was told it would be a formal event, so she painstakingly worked to create what on her planet would have been considered a rather plain version of one of the ceremonial gowns similar to those worn during the selection ceremonies.

Layers of different colored fabric strips connected together at the neck but left to hang free, adorned with some very small items as decorations to identify her station as a mechanic along the waist line. This allowed the colored fabric to flow freely around her body for the most part but still not fly about. This was worn over a loose-fitting shift that reached to the ground in a pale cream color.

She unbraided her hair, allowing it to fall down her back. It had grown so long now that it was almost to her waist. Looking at her reflection she felt a pang of sorrow that she would never have her own ceremony. After taking a deep breath she slipped her feet into soft sandals, and exited the assigned quarters and followed the directions to the Bridge Crew Mess, a place on the ship she had never been before and had never expect to be.

As she walked down the corridor from the lift she saw two crewman near a doorway. She was fairly certain this was the location of the party, but not absolutely certain, so she stopped and spoke in halted basic, “The big happy meet here?”

One of the officers gave her a smile and nodded, “Welcome to the Bridge Crew Mess and formal dining Hall!” He stepped slightly to the side and made a sweeping arm gesture towards the door. “Much appreciation from Kelistina,” She replied with a slight bow. Ducking down as she stepped into the room she froze for a moment and forced herself not to turn and run when she saw the Kling-onz.

She moved along the side of the room, looking for someone, anyone, that she knew and began to doubt her decision to attend.

Ensign Mia Dunne   [Show/Hide]

  Kelistina (Kel) Kavot Droga   [Show/Hide]

Re: Ch 3 : The Meeting of Heroes (or Villains) [ Day 1 | 1500+]

Reply #6
[Jaeih T’haelaa | Bridge Crew Mess Hall | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | The Helmet] Attn: @Ellen Fitz @Brutus @Stegro88  @Nesota Kynnovan @P.C. Haring @JacenSoloDjo  @Juzzie @GroundPetrel @Eirual

From where she stood near the wide viewport, Jaeih wore the faintest of smiles while her emerald eyes panned the room in an unblinking gaze; a casual, bird-of-prey stare that observed without focus. Her back to a corner allowed an unimpeded view of the proceedings; a gathering of two bitter rivals that would never trust each other and had no interest in doing so, hosted by optimistic fools.

How very quaint.

Directly ahead, no more than three long strides away, Donatra sat resplendent in her finery at the table, in idle conversation with the black-furred Starfleet diplomat. Jaeih didn’t need to be telepathic to know the Empress was already bored, yet subtlety and diversion was an art form they had all mastered long ago – some better than others, apparently. A brow twitched as her eyes drank in the various attire on display: the Klingons in their leathers and armor, still woefully inadequate to mask their stink – while the officers and crew of the Federation exiles varied from uniformed finery to elegant and revealing. By comparison, Jaeih had chosen a more subdued ensemble; a simple synth-fab hooded dress the color of desert sand. It hugged her powerful body comfortably, with no impediment to range of motion, but offered little in the way of warmth or protection. Still, she betrayed no external sense of discomfort – only a casual vigilance to those who would recognize it, or idle indifference to those that did not.

Already, it was all too obvious how this ‘alliance’ would play out. Starfleet and the Klingons were all too eager to show their unity – purposefully displayed by how easily they mingled and toyed with each other. Let them cavort like the fools they are. Every minute wasted here presents further opportunity to pursue our own ends, Jaeih mused. Rihannsu will outlast you all, in the end.

A nearly Imperceptible nod from Donatra caught her attention. Jaeih’s gaze shifted in its direction to lock upon a Klingon male that mirrored her position and stance on the opposite side of the hall. Very well, Empress, Jaeih mentally sneered at the title as she searched her memory for the warrior’s dossier. A Colonel, by the trappings of rank on his barbaric uniform, but surely no simple KDF officer. Martok had made a clear display of strength and audacity with the armada that blocked the stars from view in the void; likewise, the stinking brute would not allow any but the most competent of his filthy breed to accompany him. Jaeih’s eyes snapped back to the Empress after a beat of her heart to witness a casual gesture of Donatra’s fingers: investigate, she signed.

Understood, the former Sentinel signed in reply, clenched her jaw, then relaxed as she moved off in a silent, circuitous approach, offering a pleasant nod or word to those that greeted her.

[Lt. Enyd Madsen]
So far, so good Enyd thought to herself as she multitasked on her chosen side of the room. The Klingons were on their best behavior, leading her to inwardly chuckle at what must’ve been quite the paternal lecture from hell given by Martok just prior to their arrival. The Romulans were…Romulan. She was happy no one seemed to be keeling over from poison or hidden blades now buried between their ribs. The Theurgy crew in attendance were doing their utmost to mingle with both crowds, though some obviously favored Klingons merely for the shared history of rivalry and support to fall back on in a pinch.

Taking a small sip, in no rush to compete with either group for who had the strongest alcohol tolerance, Enyd let her gaze wander from the small group she’d initially inserted herself with. Within seconds, her hackles raised, and she stiffened. Donatra’s aide, the statuesque Amazon from the first meeting, was making a beeline for Hauq. Both looked equally delighted at the prospect of small talk, which meant Enyd had a job to do: bridge.

“Excuse me,” she demurely murmured to her group, giving each Klingon a respectful head bow before backing away.

Having to weave through the mingling crowd meant she made it to Hauq’s side a few moments after the Romulan and found them still looking equally warm and fuzzy toward each other and the circumstances.

“Colonel Hauq,” Enyd brightly called attention to herself as she stopped an equal distance from both Klingon and Romulan. “May I present Empress Donatra’s aide, Jaeih T’haelaa?” She was aware of the fact that introductions may have already been made however, repetition for the sake of even footing was sometimes the best route to take. Pausing to catch Hauq’s scrutinizing gaze, Enyd gestured at the Romulan. “Like you, colonel, T’haelaa here has shared some concerns regarding the safety and security of our joint fleet. It seems disgruntlement runs on both sides.”

Enyd knew she was taking a gamble by naming such an elephant with present company and yet also given present company, duplicity and half-assing conversations would only keep them where they presently stood: on either sides of a cultural and ideological chasm.

[Colonel Hauq, son of Dorak]
“che’wI’ ‘oH, qa’pu,” Hauq grunted Madsen’s title like the curse it was, yet tinted with amusement. The terran diplomat had earned it and her reputation over the past few weeks. In his eyes, she was an endless storm of chaos; a white-squall, a rogue wave – trouble found her no matter where she chose to tread. It was an…alluring aspect, to be certain, yet he had purposefully kept the human at arms length.

“We are not disgruntled,” he glared at Madsen, then slowly turned to the Romulan. “Treachery,” he sneered at her, “is only a matter of time and opportunity – we are Klingons. We are prepared for it.”

“As are we.”

She was a statue, an unreadable edifice; Hauq registered no external reaction from the Romulan woman, other than a slow blink, then he watched as she turned her attention to the pale Starfleet diplomat with a deeper dip of her hooded features. The Colonel felt his upper lip twitch in a silent snarl as soon as she spoke again.

Jolan tru, Lieutenant Eynd Isolde Madsen – I prefer Jaeih, please. So kind and dutiful of you to intervene, even when not expected or required. The Colonel and I were only beginning to get acquainted, now we all may. Delightful, truly.”

Hauq’s annoyance flared while she spoke; her voice was a formal rasp of bladed silk, with more than a hint of typical Romulan haughtiness. He was unable to stop himself from clenching a fist from just hearing it, but managed to keep from openly sneering – barely. Romulans, he growled instead, then shook his head at the pointless formality and returned his attention to the activity in the hall. “As if we all didn’t already know who the hell we all are,” he muttered in his native tongue impatiently, shoulders flexed to ease the tension from his frame.

Hauq was no diplomat; he had neither the patience nor the inclination to understand it’s nuance – a warrior need not waste words with an enemy. Especially one pretending to be a friend, he brooded, then decided to cut to the heart of the matter and be done with it. “Speak your mind and be gone, both of you – I have matters to tend to,” Hauq switched back to Federation standard, his voice like a gravel landslide.

A pause preceded the aide of Donatra’s reply; whether it was true hesitation or purposeful consideration, Hauq couldn’t guess. A glance revealed the hint of an amused smile on the Romulan’s lips.

“Of course, Colonel. As our host mentioned, in the spirit of cooperation and to ensure the highest quality success in the upcoming venture, we have expressed our…concerns.”

Hauq watched the Romulan tilt her head slightly to the side with that oddly discerning gaze of hers locked on him, yet he was sure the ghargh directed her words at Madsen.

“The details of which I am sure has been dispersed to all our new friends,”
the woman smiled coldly. “As friends, I wonder how we Rihannsu might render assistance in these troubling times?”

Hauq’s mouth opened to snap off a dismissive insult, but an unexpected intervention occurred instead.

[Lt Enyd Madsen]
Feeling Hauq tense beside her, growling tone spitting what was likely a complaint in his native tongue, Enyd responded instinctively. Just as her grandmother would’ve done to her, Enyd subtly reached down and lightly brushed her fingers over Hauq’s wrist, giving a quick squeeze before adjusting her hand movement to tug at her dress. Likely the Romulan, being who and what she was, had seen the movement but it was just as likely that the discerning woman understood the movement for what it was: a calm down and play nice gesture.

Enyd smiled with genuine amusement. “In truth, Colonel, I would say that just as Starfleet officers, myself included, have a reputation of being hapless, hairless monkeys on the best of days, Klingons do have a reputation of being disgruntled. And,” she turned to Jaeih, “Romulans the reputation of haughty superiority.” Pausing to take a bolstering sip of her blood wine, Enyd gave a playful shrug as she lowered his cup. “We are all entering this circumstantial alliance with preconceived notions of one another and with more than a few reservations. While my professional role desires for a workable relationship that will last beyond the moment, my pragmatic personal self understands that there are certain aspects of each of our culture’s that we will likely never understand or wish to accept. Should that mean we can’t have future trade routes between each other’s systems? Should that mean we can’t have cultural or technological exchange programs? No, I don’t think so. But,” her eyes were warm but held determination as she glanced between man and woman at her side, “a lot depends on just how stubborn, xenophobic, paranoid, and yes, disgruntled we remain in this moment and the next.”

It was not lost on Enyd that, yet again, she was in the midst of another scenario that an Intelligence officer would potentially be better suited for, if only because of the official parameters of their duties. An Intelligence officer had more clearance to make bolder claims and arrange more direct responses. Not exactly an act first and inform superiors later, but something more akin to that than what a diplomat typically could do.

“What can you do to render assistance?” Enyd parroted back politely, taking the time to look at both Klingon and Romulan. “Since both groups have reported treachery,” she used Hauq’s earlier term with a half smile, “I would recommend that we seek to funnel the known or presumed members of these groups to an easily controlled area. An area where joint forces can mitigate the threat and potentially root out the deeper machinations at play. It is likely that while there are agents of treachery present, it is just as likely that there are more back home.”

[Jaeih T’haelaa]
While the Klingon simmered, Jaeih reeled her outward expression of amusement in with another slow blink; she had neither the desire or need to aggravate Hauq further, and had learned a great deal of them both in the short exchange. The klivam was no fool, even if he looked the part and smelled worse, and the hevam at his side was clearly a pet of his or visa versa; Jaeih didn’t care which. Their relationship could prove useful in the future, however, so she made note of it, as well as the diplomat’s apparent weakness for strategic thinking. A pity, but not surprising.

The good Colonel chose to add his thoughts on the matter, then: “The suspects will be found and dealt with. Your…assistance, Romulan…if it is needed, will be communicated through the appropriate channels. In the interim, I recommend you set your own house in order.”

Jaeih sighed to herself, impressed with the sheer willpower Hauq displayed to control himself; it  was so very rare in their mongrel breed. Still, she sensed that it was not the time to press further, and there was much work to be done to secure the future of Rihannsu; these were merely the first steps on a road that had yet to be paved – where that road led, and the sacrifices to be paid along the way – remained to be seen. We will be watching these two, for certain.

A respectful bow of her head was offered to both of them as she spoke. “The Empress will hear these recommendations,” Jaeih smiled politely, “and I look forward to speaking with you both again, at your convenience. Jolan tru, Colonel Hauq, Lieutenant Madsen.”

With that said, Jaeih took care not to turn her back on them as she withdrew to resume her post near Donatra’s side of the table.


OOC: You can find details on Jaeih and Col. Hauq under the Story NPCs, if so inclined. Thanks for the JP @Ellen Fitz – always a good time :)

 
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