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Chapter 5 S [D02 | 0740 hrs.] We The Disgruntled

[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu | Gallli Forum | vh'Jann | Romulus ] Attn: @chXinya @Ellen Fitz @Dumedion @P.C. Haring

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It was late morning in the city of vh'Jann. A chilly bite was still in the air from the previous evening, making the drizzle all the more irksome to the unfortunate people stuck outdoors. In the miserable weather, it was easy to tell the locals from the outsiders; the former went about their day without comment or complaint, while the latter were comically bundled up in heavy layers, grumbling all the while. Even millennia after leaving Vulcan, the Romulan people still preferred the dry heat and abhorred the humid cold.

In one of vh'Jann's many forums, nestled inside a ring of ornate skyscrapers, business was slow. Some orators and shopkeeps braved the rain to ply their trade, with two orators in particular having an impassioned debate on a raised platform in the center of the forum. The spectating crowd was thin, however, as the same old topics were discussed; civil war against the rebel Donatra, war with the Federation, the news that a Klingon armada was massing on the border, the Reman rebellion. As alarming as it all was, such events seemed very distant indeed to the average citizen of vh'Jann. They had their own lives, their own troubles and drama. Romulus was safe, just like it had always been. The idea of Federation, Klingon or even rebel ships reaching the Hearthworlds was preposterous.

At least, so thought one bored shopkeep, Kani, sat in her stall as she made a futile effort to catch the eye of the occasional passerby. She sighed, idly wondering whether she should just give up for the day. Selling tailored winter clothing was only a hobby, a way to keep busy during the off-season. Parvek should really be doing this, the ungrateful brat didn't do enough-

Kani's line of thought was broken when she heard a distinctive whine from the alley behind her stall, muffled by the rain. She frowned; that had sounded like a transporter beam, but...no, it was nothing like a normal transporter beam. Kani struggled to remember where she had heard that sound before, then she got it: Betazed during the war, when Starfleet troops had reinforced her platoon.

After a moment's thought, Kani chuckled to herself. Her imagination really was wild today; she probably just heard a miscalibrated shuttle engine. After all, the idea of a Starfleet infiltration team beaming in to the alley behind her, on Romulus of all worlds, was just ridiculous.



Unseen and unnoticed, the Starfleet infiltration team looked around nervously after materialising, only relaxing marginally when it was clear that they were alone. All of them looked Romulan with appropriate clothing, though of the four, only Lillee actually was what she appeared to be, though with her unusual blonde hair, even she would stick out in a crowd. She hastily pulled up her hood's cloak over her head to protect from the rain and shivered.

"I hate the north," she grumbled as she began searching the alley. It only took a moment for the team to find it: an inocuous garbage collection panel on a skyscraper wall with a big green sticker on it, declaring: Out Of Order: Tampering Is Prohibited By Order Of The State.. The sticker was technically accurate, as the garbage collection was indeed out of order, but it was actually designed to be so. The "garbage collection" was, in fact, a clandestine Tal Shiar surveillance access point, discovered by Starfleet Intelligence some years ago.

With it, the team could access Tal Shiar surveillance data for the entire city, although only if their computer expert could access it. A great deal rested on Selena's skills. The others, meanwhile, could do little but wait. One thing caught everyone's eye, however, high up, among the skyscrapers above their heads, slung beneath a great pylon. Even amidst the grey clouds and drizzling rain, it was distinctive: a huge grey saucer, broken and scarred with damage, with two long nacelles behind it. The lettering was legible even from a hundred meters down:

NX-05
CHALLENGER


"It was captured during our war with Earth," Lillee explained to the others. "It's a trophy now, and a museum. A good one, speaking true."

Re: Chapter 5 S [D02 | 0740 hrs.] We The Disgruntled

Reply #1
[PO2 Kino Jeen | Gallli Forum | vh'Jann | Romulus ] Attn: @chXinya @Ellen Fitz @P.C. Haring @Griff
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“I'm sure it is,” Kino muttered as she moved past the Romulan pilot to take up a flanking position beside the data terminal, a shoulder leaned against the wall. From under the hood of a similarly colored cloak, her eyes never ceased moving; she watched the crowd, the few pedestrians that shuffled by, the windows, the doors, the piles of refuse and canisters that lined the alley – while she spoke. “It’s funny, really. We build monuments to remember the fallen and celebrate achievements while the rest of the galaxy builds museums out of bloody trophies. Says something about us, doesn’t it,” the Trill whispered bitterly.

Not that it really mattered. To her mind, Starfleet and the Federation had never grown the teeth they should have, and that wasn’t likely to change – no matter how many times the galaxy told them differently; no matter how much blood was spilled in the name of ‘peaceful exploration’.

Letting the matter lie, Kino breathed deep of Romulus, then exhaled a mist of foggy breath; an attempt to calm her nerves. This entire affair sat uneasy upon her shoulders; they had gone in blind, scrambling to intel, trying to figure things out as they went. Only a matter of time till this all goes sideways, she thought with a slight shiver. The rain was cold, greased with the subtle particulates from the overhead traffic of skimmers and sky cars. Up high, banners of the State, Kino assumed, rippled in the wind; everywhere she looked in fact seemed adorned with the proud symbol of Romulan supremacy – flags adorned windows – broadcast holovids flickered with images of Imperial might. It was quite a sight.

Kino also noticed surveillance nodes, adorned on every corner, on multiple levels; they panned about intermittently – no doubt controlled by a centralized agency of some sort. Tal’Shiar, maybe, she mused as her cybernetic eye locked onto one up above the far end of the alley, a couple dozen meters up, directed down at the orators doing their best to out speak one another. Crossing her arms against the cold, the non-com jutted her chin up at it after glancing at the others.

“Those nodes are everywhere, probably covering almost every angle of the city. We’re gonna have eyes on us eventually,” Kino warned, flicking a stray strand of silver hair behind one ridiculously overgrown ear. The attempt to alter her physical appearance didn’t sit well with her either – but it wasn’t any different from shmearing grease over her face during night operations. Camo is camo, the non-com sighed mentally; her hair had been grown out to hang past her shoulders, plaited in a few thin strands in some remote rural native style. They had wanted her to dye it black, but she’d told the medical stooge to pound sand; they’d stretched her fucking ears out and covered up her spots – that was enough. She felt like a clown, surrounded by potential hostiles, on their turf, with fuck all of a plan.

Yeah, this’ll work out fine. It’s fine, Kino chuckled to herself. The twin disruptor pistols holstered at the small of her back shifted as she crossed one ankle over the other, attempting to appear calm and casual. “Whatever you’re doing, I’d recommend you do it faster,” Kino spoke quietly without moving her lips over her shoulder to their Romulan tech expert, then returned her attention to watching their backs, and everything that moved.

Re: Chapter 5 S [D02 | 0740 hrs.] We The Disgruntled

Reply #2
[Lt. Commander Hathev  | Gallli Forum | vh'Jann | Romulus ] Attn: @chXinya@Ellen Fitz@Griff@Dumedion‍ 

Hathev took in a breath as the transporter beam released her and immediately she took in the scent of the rain in the Romulan air.  The precipitation remained light but for whatever reason, the Vulcan did not seem to mind the moisture in the air.  In fact, a part of her relished in it and just how different it was from the hot arid weather of Vulcan.  She remained silent, focusing on t’Jellaieu’s narration about the NX-05.  It seemed illogical to her that the Empire would still celebrate the capture of an enemy vessel more than two centuries after the original occurrence.

But, she suspected, that was the way state based propaganda worked.  Focus on every victory no matter how obscure.  Ignore every set back no matter how significant.

How very Romulan.

Much to her surprise, the architecture caught her eye as well.  She had heard that Romulan design was considered ascetically pleasing, but Hathev had not been able to comprehend the logic behind design that followed no function.  But as she took it in, locked it in her eidetic memory, she realized she appreciated the detail that went into the design work.

She made a point to say nothing in response to the commentary about the NX-05, and focused instead on the task at hand.  At the mention of the surveillance nodes, Hathev almost reached for her Tricorder, but stopped herself as doing so would have looked suspicious…but at least then there would have been a reason for the five of them to be congregating at a place that was marked “Out of Order” and explicitly forbade tampering.

“Would it make sense for us to split up.  The five of us standing here is likely to attract unwanted attention.”

Re: Chapter 5 S [D02 | 0740 hrs.] We The Disgruntled

Reply #3
[PLt. Selena Ravenholm | Gallli Forum | vh’Jann | Romulus] attn: @P.C. Haring @Dumedion @Griff

As soon as the transporter beam let go and the first raindrops splattered onto her face, Selena glanced up in annoyance at the weather. Of course the transporter operator had warned them about the storm so she knew what to expect, but it was still frustrating. Quickly pulling the hood of the dark grey cloak she had thrown on over her lengthened black hair, the woman turned her attention to a quick scan of the alleyway they’d beamed down into. If the reports of the grey architecture weren’t being exaggerated it was hard to tell the way the dim lighting and precipitation just sucked all the color out of everything that wasn’t a light source. That wasn’t what her enhanced vision was looking for though, after switching spectrums and overlaying an energy scan numerous devices popped up out of the grey dullness. Cameras for the most part, all linked to a central transmitter up on a nearby roof. The others were already commenting on the environment around them, and at Kino’s comment about the surveillance, Selena could only nod in agreement. “Assuming they’re not already on us. As energy dense as a city will be, it’s not quite that easy to hide a transporter signal if they’re looking for it.”

Which is where her skills came into play. It was no coincidence that they materialized right next to the control panel for this section’s surveillance network. Stepping up to the “garbage bin”, Selena’s now flesh-wrapped hand found the hidden control pad and slid it open, revealing the old-yet-still military-grade keypad underneath. Retrieving the small tricorder out of a pocket in her cloak she stood close to the bin to hide her actions from the cameras and started her work to slip into the system. Kino was already griping about the time which brought a furrow to the tech expert’s still-smooth forehead. “Keep your ears glued on, this’ll only take a minute. Just need to make sure I don’t trigger any alerts.” Hathev had some ideas of her own about how big the group should be and Selena chimed in there as well, “Might as well, but I need someone to stand roughly two meters between me and that gutter over there.” She pointed to the rainspout running out of a metal gutter that had been broken off halfway up the wall. “It’ll keep the camera next to it from seeing exactly what I’m doing.”

Watching the cracking program run on the smalls screen, Selena tapped a few subprograms into the queue every so often as the automated security protocols started sniffing for a rat, but she had plenty of cheese to keep those occupied. Thanks to the older, known, protocols this particular access point ran off of, it took just less than the promised minute and she was in. Quickly inserting the pre-made malware Selena smiled as the system’s logs promptly rewrote themselves into a series of nothing but empty, rainy alleyway. “Tch, I expected better out of the Tel Shiar.” she chided the famed intelligence service, uploaded the final programs, then withdrew from the computer.  Pocketing the tricorder and closing the panel cover she turned to face Lillee. “All done here, unless someone happened to actually see us beam in there’s no record of it. As for our own eyes and ears, I can slip into the system whenever I want. I’ll have to be careful with how much I use it though, the more often I slip in the more likely it’ll be they’ll notice the intrusion.”

 

Re: Chapter 5 S [D02 | 0740 hrs.] We The Disgruntled

Reply #4
[PO2 Kino Jeen | Galli Forum | vh’Jann | Romulus] Attn: @P.C. Haring @Griff @chXinya @Ellen Fitz
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Blue eyes, one brighter than the other, traced up along the contoured edges and curved high-rise buildings. The tallest ones, near the tight-packed city center, stood half-obscured by the misty clouds and gray rain, but patches of veiled blue shone through the soft deluge; a promise of better weather to come. The non-com’s features softened then, her gaze locked heavenward. The fact of the matter was, she didn’t want to be on Romulus. Kino wanted to be out there, with Reika; to know she was okay.

Be safe, her lips moved silently, almost imperceptibly. Distant thunder shook her back to the present with a blink. Focus, the Trill chided herself as a brow twitched at the Vulcan’s suggestion for the group to split up. The non-com considered it as their tech expert worked. If they were all familiar with the cities layout, they could cover more ground and potentially avoid unwanted attention. However, after weighing the cons, Kino shook her head subtly, uncomfortable with the risks. Her eyes narrowed at Ravenholm’s quip and suppressed the instinctive reaction to check her ears. Jeen bit back the snappy retort on the tip of her tongue and re-focused her attention on their surroundings instead. 

“I’d advise against it, for now. Best we stay together until we find a base of operations, transport, get the lay of the land,” the non-com murmured without looking at any of them, her voice barely audible over the rain. “Worst case scenario; we split and scatter only under duress,” her head nodded to the speaker square. “Rendezvous back there if we can, bug out to the Allegiant if we can’t.”

When Ravenholm announced she was finished, Kino kicked off the wall she’d been leaning on to casually walk out into the rain, her eyes constantly in motion. “Shouldn’t linger then. Let’s take a walk, stay casual, keep our ears open,” she shrugged. “Not much of a crowd around the speakers, but we can try there, or hit the market?” 

The rain decided to let up then, as bright beams of sunlight glittered in the air. Kino waited for someone in the group to make a call, while she slowly turned in casual vigilance. The rain-slick structures around them took on new shifts of color in the sunlight; subtle at first, then brightly shimmered in various hues of green. It was beautiful, in a way, but also bleak and dark as only densely packed centers of civilizations tended to be.

Towers rose above lesser kindred, which squatted atop mounds of their lesser kin, which in turn were crushed into a labrynth of massed habitation towers, industrial complexes, trade centers; all built atop the other, linked and threaded with endless avenues, alley-ways…

Movement caught her attention, in the shadows of one.

The Trill’s eyes met those of a Reman, blinked, then turned back to the group with a forced smile.

“Que the creepy attention we didn't want," Kino drawled sarcastically. "We’ve been noticed. Let’s move.”

Havrannssu abhor daylight,” the pilot, Lillie, Kino reminded herself, whispered after she drew near - having also noticed the Reman, apparently. “This is known. Being there, at this hour...its odd. He looked wounded, too - perhaps..." the Romulan's voice trailed off. Kino couldn't read the look in her eyes to be sure, but it sounded as if the pilot was suggesting they try to help him somehow.

The Trill shook her head and gently pulled the pilot into step alongside. “Yeah, I saw. Looked like someone did a number on ‘em, but that doesn’t mean squat – Lorad’s lived through shit that would kill you and me ten times over,” Kino muttered as they walked, making their way towards the throng of people in and around a multi-street marketplace, lined with stalls of merchants flogging their wares. “Could be nothin’,” the Trill shrugged, “could be trouble we don’t want. Either way, we should be able to lose him in the crowd,” Kino guessed, with a glance to Lillie and the others.

[Meanwhile, a few minutes earlier...]

The blood in Tiramek's throat gurgled as he struggled to gasp in much needed air. The bastards had thought they'd ended him, but Remans were notoriously difficult to kill. There had been no official insignia on their clothes, nothing to connect them to either Donatra or Tal'Aura, but Tiramek knew the thugs had to have been working for either one of those bitches.

With a taloned hand clutched over the wound in his side, Tiramek used the other to brace against the alley wall, pulling his weakened body back to its feet. If they'd managed to determine his role in the reunification movement enough to get a hit on him, then it was likely the movement itself had a mole. Which made it equally likely that the very head of their movement, the senator himself, could be a target.

Tiramek groaned, spitting out blood and bits of his own cheek he'd bitten during the assassination attempt. He had the advantage here. They thought he was dead, meaning they wouldn't be watching their backs before reporting back to their handler. Glancing at his chronometer, Tiramek swore. He'd been out for twenty minutes. While his injuries subdued his normally heightened senses allowing for superior tracking, Tiramek took comfort in knowing he'd managed to plant a tracker on the ankle on one of his attacker's during the ordeal, and wounded the other with a slice across the face before going down.

Not knowing who in their own movement was the mole meant he would have to attempt this counter measure alone. Tiramek groaned again, feeling another rush of blood seep at the edges of his side wound. First, he'd need to get patched up, then...

Tiramek narrowed his gaze, staring at the small group mingling at the end of the narrow alley. Standing in the shadows, it'd be easy to miss Tiramek, just as it'd be easy to miss the alley itself. However, as the rains subsided, finally, to give way with the bright sun, he could easily see them and in the next few moments a strange smile cracked the serious lines of his face as he realized this group could prove most useful.

Having friends in high places meant he was never without means of bribery. Not wanting to draw more attention to himself, Tiramek managed to convince a young shop girl to be his tail on the group with the intention of telling them where to meet him. It'd taken some convincing that his ominous "or else you've been had" was meant for the group and not for the girl and under any other circumstances it may have been comical how their discourse turned sideways but soon enough she understood and trotted off after the group.

Tiramex turned away and still using the alley wall to bolster his weight, fairly slid back down the length of it, further into the shadows of the shanty side of the city where he knew he could find resources and rest. At least until his next move…

[Meanwhile, near tertiary entrance to vh’Jann Trade District]

As for the girl, she was delighted to have made a decent amount for acting as courier and was looking forward to the sweet steamed bun reward she promised herself once she delivered the message. Eagerness emboldened her as she weaved in and around the crowd, in dutiful pursuit. They moved like tourists; at weird times, at an odd pace, like they were utterly lost or didn’t care where they were going. Once close enough, she tugged on the hem of the blonde woman, the most normal looking in her eyes, but drew the attention of all four nearly instantly; she wasted no time and delivered her message in a rapid spill – without a care for its comprehension – then darted away, faster and lither than most would expect upon seeing her.

Kino arched a brow as she drew close to Lillie. “Uh, the hell was that about,” the Trill asked, somehow blending concern with amusement. The only true Romulan among them frowned as she met each of their eyes in a glance that could have meant anything, but to Kino, it looked a lot like fear.

"Roughly translated, the girl said: ‘there's a bar in the shanty town called Tholob. If you want support for your work and protection from the watchers, you should go there within the hour. We may have similar interests to support one another. If you aren't there, you've been had.’ Which means, well, we might be already."

Kino grunted a curse under her breath then quickly reigned her attitude in – it wasn’t helping. They were all on edge, and now wasn’t the time to fly off the handle. “Could be a trap; certainly sounds like a trap – perfect bait, and all,” Kino offered neutrally, then returned her attention to the crowd to watch and wait for them to decide how to proceed.


OOC: Our new (maybe?) friend, Tiramek, written by @Ellen Fitz  - thanks for the collab and inspiration, as always :)

 
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