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One More Time....

[Lt. J.G Vanya| Crew Quarters |USS Cayuga| April 5 2378]

“You were butt naked Vanya!”  

The android  allowed herself a small chuckles at the human female’s terminology.  

“For the record, far more was visible than my butt,  Sir.   That idiom tends to be inaccurate.” Vanya said.   She was sitting in her quarters wearing a T-Shirt, that her house guest, Lt. Michaels had given her.

“Stow it.”    She said.    “Look, I’ve been working damn hard to get the Xenobiology  team some recognition.    Lt. T’pron thinks that we are a bunch of irrational beings.   She wants to get her husband transferred over here, and have me assigned to the department.  Having a Romulan sexpot turn up ti the sciences division First Contact day naked has given her fuel for the fire.”   
“Sex pot?”  Vanya asked.    

Realising what she had said, Michaels quickly covered up, her pale features turning a deep shade of red.  “Shut up, Im married…”

 Vanya arched a tempting eyebrow. “I have no objection if he has no objection.” Vanya said.   “In fact he could join us if you both wished.”     

 “Shut up.”   Michaels asked  “ Why are you making it all weird?”  

“You called me a sex pot.” Vanya replied.   “I was simply stating that I wouldn’t hae any objection to sexual congress someday.”  

“Look” Micaels said.   “Why did you turn up naked?”   

“The invitation said casual attire.”   Vanya said dismissively.  “In my casual time I don’t wear clothes.”    

Michaels bridged the bridge of her nose.   She was clearly having a headache. “Surely you could have replicated something.”   She indicated to the corner of the room

“But casual attire would, to me specify something that you wear when you are casual.  To wear something that I wouldn’t normally wear would be dishonest wouldn’t it?”    

Before Michaels could respond her door opened.   In stepped a human male in a right Hawaiian shirt, Commander Laskey the chief science officer, and and unnamed Vulcan Commander in Starfleet security gold.

“Commander.” Michaels said “I must again profoundly apologise for this incident.   I promisen Lt. Vanya will be fully disciplined… I mean punished….    I mean, suitably penalised for her conduct.”

“Don’t worry about it, most fun I’ve had at one of these shindigs in a long time.”   He gave Vanya a playful wink.  As if sensing the security officer over his side, he took on an air of formality which was completely out of place in a bright orange shirt with the same island motif repeated multiple times.   “That being said.   Lt. Vanya’s conduct at the Sciences Social will have to be dealt with later.    Command T’Morrik here has a mission for her that needs her attention right now.”    
Inhabiting my head are:

[Lt. Vanya |Assistant Science Officer| USS Theurgy]

[Lt. J.G Foval |Assistant Diplomatic Officer |USS Theurgy]

Re: One More Time....

Reply #1
[Lt. J.G Vanya| Crew Quarters |USS Cayuga| April 5 2378]

Michaels and Laskey left Vanya’s quarters.  As this was an official mission, Vanya went and changed into her uniform.  The only missing part was her uniform where her boots.    For his part, T’Morrik seemed to be idly looking around her room. 

“Thank you for dressing more appropriately Lieutenant.” The commander said. 

As Vanya sat at her table, she could tell from his bearing that this was more than a security visit.  He slid her over a PADD, it showed his credentials.   

“Starfleet Security.  Its been a while.  Was my casual dress enough to get your attention too.” 


“Lieutenant Vanya.” The Vulcan said.  “You are doubtless aware that I am not a member of the Cayuga crew, therefore the time it would take to arrive here meant that the orders were issued before your social faux pas/” 

A smirk crossed Vanya’s lips.  Here she was a machine, having a joke with an organic being who apparently had no sense (or patience with) humour.   

“What is your business here?” she asked. 

“Under the articles of Starfleet Law, this briefing is classified, you may not disclose the contents of this briefing or any subsequent activities relating to same unless ordered to by myself or another person from Starfleet Security.  Am I clear?” 

Vanya didn’t like this..  She was being assigned to a mission, yet she hadn’t consented to anything.  Nevertheless, she decided that she had to see this out 

“Yes Sir.”  She said. 

T’Morrik hit a button his own PADD, and the screen on hers was replaced with a string of Romulan figures. 

“I presume you know what this is?” asked the Vulcan. 

“I do” said Vanya.  “It’s the identification code of a Tal Shiar agent.    The code appears to be incomplete, but the prefix is…” 

She rose from the seat, an obvious sign of her emotional state.  She checked it again.  “The code appears to be from the unit that created me.  But I thought the entire unit was terminated.”  Vanya never knew if the word “Terminated” was used in the most literal sense.  If these readings were to be believed, clearly it wasn’t.  He hit a button on the PADD and the code was replaced with an image of a battered planetoid.   

“This is Planetoid AJ-04X.”  The Vulcan said.  “ You may be familiar with the pseudonym ‘Traitor’s Folly’”

Vanya nodded her head as she said down. Isn’t that a stronghold for some Vulcan renegades?” 

T’Morrik nodded.  “Over the decades, a number of other races have populated the planet, but are essentially correct.  Since the Awakening, there have always been factions of Vulcans that have rejected Surak’s teachings, or interpreted them  differently than the established doctrine favourited by the Central Command and its successive regimes.  The Romulan discovery validated some of those viewpoints in the eyes of these renegades,  so a notable faction sought to join the empire.  The first ship that went over the Neutral zone was destroyed by the Romulans.  As the Federation had made it clear that these were renegades, we could not welcome them back into Federation space – to do so would risk war.  So, the remaining four ships built a colony on the most hospitable planetoid in the small slither of unclaimed space near the neutral zone.  Since then the colony has become a hive of criminality and decedance.” 

Vanya knew where this was going.  “And this is where the Tal’Shiar signal came from.” 

“Correct” said T’Morrik.  “ While Traitor’s folly is on our side of the neutral zone, it is not Federation space.  To go there openly would give the Romulans every excuse to wage full war.  So, you and I will form an extraction team, retrieve the Tal’Shiar asset and return to Federation Space” 

Vanya handed the PADD back to the Vulcan 

“With all due respect Sir, I am a science officer, not an intelligence agent.  Surely there is a more appropriate person who can help.” 

The Vulcan’s gaze remain fixed and steely.  “Your time in the Tal Shiar makes you the lead candidate for this mission.  Our knowledge of the Tal-Shiar may equal yours, but no one has a better grasp or ability to apply it than you.  Further, under the Starfleet code, you are hereby ordered onto this mission.  It remains classified and you are probhibted from discussing it on open channel, and as a reminder  you are prohibited from discussing it with anyone else, even your superiors am I clear?”   

“Perfectly.” Said Vanya as she came to the realisation that she didn’t like T’Morrik.  After she had arrived in the Federation, she had a long lines of security and intelligence officers trying to recruit her into their area.  Vanya had refused them all.  She had always been interested in how the world worked, and to do that, she was a scientist.  Therefore, she had politely but firmly denied each request and stuck to the sciences.  Now with a well placed word to some nameless admiral, T’Morrik had apparently undone all that. 

“I understand your reluctance Lieutenant  However, your skillset is uniquely suited to this mission, which will be just extraction of any assets.  We will be gone for a week maximum.”   

Inhabiting my head are:

[Lt. Vanya |Assistant Science Officer| USS Theurgy]

[Lt. J.G Foval |Assistant Diplomatic Officer |USS Theurgy]

Re: One More Time....

Reply #2
[Lt. J.G Vanya | Unnamed Starfleet Shuttle | Federation Border]

The journey to Traitors Folly was relatively brief.      T’Morrik didn’t seem interested in the niceties of conversation, instead Vanya used the trip in the shuttle to read up on her destination.   

The world was a lawless void.    At some point in the 23td century, an Orion warlord had gifted a weather control system to the planet.      Unfortunately the system was sabotaged and did permanent damage to the planet’s already inhospitable ecosystem.     

This meant, that although it was a desirable hiding place for criminal endeavours on both sides of the netural zone, the planet was in the middle of a decades long storm,      Any electromagnetic signal would attract deadly lightning within seconds.        That extended to phasers, transporters and herself.  She pointed this out to T’Morrik.   

“Not an issue” he said.    “The EM signatures can be dampened with these”.    He handed her a box shaped device.  “This reduces the probability of being hit by 88%.    I suggest refraining from phaser use, the beam would leave your field, the lightning would hit and you would be short one arm in less than 1 second.     

Vanya took the device and attached it to her all black covert operations uniform.   

“I take or that the tricorder is useless too?” she asked.     

“Indeed” said T’Morrik.      “Fortunately the threats we will face are minimal.  The criminal element live in a network of underground caves several kilometers from the source of the signal. 

The planet streamed into view.  There was a bit of turbulence as the ship hit the atmosphere.  Enormous tendrils of deadly EM lightning hit the ship, but the deflectors were able to harmlessly disperse it. 

The surface of the planet was the very definition of a maelstrom. 

What may have been three Vulcan ships were split open, like captured prey in the lair of a carnivorous beast.  Adding to the imagery were a series of giant conductor towers that were built through the ships, giving the impression that the once mighty vessels had been impaled on spikes.   Vanya guessed that the main settlement was in the caves underneath the wreckage.    

There was a hodge podge of craters, surrounded by black glass.  Vanya s suspected that over the decades, people had fallen foul of the storms.  She didnt feel that concerned about detection, sensors on the planet were limited, unless someone was looking at the sky, no one would know they were event there. 

They found a place to land at the base of a mountain.  They activated a larger versio of their personal dampeners before powering off the ship. 

The smell of ionised air assaulted Vanya’s nostrils as soon as they disembarked.  The atmosphere seemed to tingle.  The android was almost overcome with the desire to run and return to the Federation. 

“The coordinates are a short walk away” said T’Morrik    “We should begin,” 

The devastation of the storms was still something to be seen close up  As well smaller glass ringed craters, there were also bits and pieces of debris.  Hunks of twisted metal that may have been weapons, or equipment.  Singed cloth rags that were reminiscent of old Starfleet and Romulan uniforms hung in the still air.  

The deivstation came to a crescendo when they arrived at the remains of a Talon Class scout ship.  Most of the hull was long gone, save for some scrap that was beyond salvage, and the ship's main frame which ,lay in the sand like a skeleton of a dead bird.       

Vanya was about to say something, when she was driven to the floor. 

They had been noticed...    


Inhabiting my head are:

[Lt. Vanya |Assistant Science Officer| USS Theurgy]

[Lt. J.G Foval |Assistant Diplomatic Officer |USS Theurgy]

Re: One More Time....

Reply #3
[Lt. JG Vanya | Surface of Traitor's Folly | April 5th 2378]

As she was driven to the floor, Vanya’s tactical training kicked in.   Keen to allow her assailant to think she was a normal vulcanoid, she allowed herself to be prone for a split second, then grabbed the wrists at her back, and with expert precison, she swung her opponent over her head, forcing the breath out of his body.  He lacked any kind of cranial ridges that would have identified him from the north of Romulus,  and the crude IDIC that was carved onto his cheek, with a green line going through it made Vanya think he was a Vulcan resident of this planet, rather than a Southern born Romulan,   

He was just beginning to come around when Vanya unleashed another blow with the palm of her hand, just enough to render him unconscious without rendering him permanently damaged.  

T’Morrik meanwhile was having a different battle.   He was now perched atop his assailant, a silvery weapon that Vanya was able to identify as a custom made shiv, probably from the junk on this planet.   T’Morrik brought it against his assailant’s neck, in a crude display, 6 or 7 times,

“Commander!”   Vanya said.   As if noticing her for the first time, he looked back to his dying foe and then back to her.   He wiped the improvised weapon on the clothes of its victim (and presumeably previous owner) and tucked it into his belt.  

“Very good” he said, nodding approvingly.   

“Did you have to kill him?” Vanya asked, pointing to his fallen opponent, a pool of green was growing on the ground from his head.    

“I do not need to remind you that we are on a classified mission.” T’Morrik said    He gestured to the shoulder of his fallen foe.   “Shoulder armour   The Taroon would not be ineffective”  


Vanya saw that her assailant also wore the same armour sewn into his crude smelling long coat.   The traditional Vulcan neck pinch to which he referred would indeed be ineffective.  

“Be that as it may” said Vanya “There are other ways to eliminate an opponent without killing them.”  

“It is a matter of logic” said T’Morrik.   “At the time I did not know if your opponent had gotten the better of you.   Unlike you I cannot modulate the force that I apply.   I could not guarantee that I could incapacitate him for long enough while I aided you.”   It didn’t seem right to Vanya, even necks could be broken if killing was necessary, bt to stab someone multiple times seemed very unvulcan to the android.    No doubt there would be a debriefing for them both after this adventure was over, and she made a mental note to discuss this incident.  

“Where do you suppose they came from?”  She asked.    T’Morrik gestured to the corrupted IDIC on her attacker’s face.   “My guess is that they are on patrol from the city.”   

Thee trip across the hazardous landscape was relatively uneventful.    There was more debris that was evidently not worth the effort to move, or fashion into a rudimentary weapon.    Vanya was sure that they had arrived at the source of the distress signal identified on the map.  

“We are approaching the coordinates of the distress signal.   From the shadows emerged six figures.   Three appeared to be Reman.  Two appeared to be Romulan, with the trademark northern cranial ridges.   The third, a dark skinned figure that had a smooth forehead, but Vanya suspected she was Romulan looking at her Uniform, which matched this others.   These uniforms were different to what Vanya had seen, they were the traditional grey of military service, and yet they had a white sash draped over them.  

Of more immediate concern was the weapons each one carried.   The Reman’s had what appeared to be crude flame throwers.   Vanya wasn’t sure what chemical was churning in their cannisers, but there was a good chance it could melt more than flesh.   The two Romulan’s were holding pistols.    Vanya couldn’t make out an emitter, instead they appeared to be barrels of fire arms.   The leader had a ceremonial Romulan blade.   

“Stop where you are.” The leader said.   “You should consider yourselves prisoners of the Romulan Empress.”       
Inhabiting my head are:

[Lt. Vanya |Assistant Science Officer| USS Theurgy]

[Lt. J.G Foval |Assistant Diplomatic Officer |USS Theurgy]

Re: One More Time....

Reply #4
[LT JG Vanya|    Cave Stronghold, Traitor's Folly|April 2378]

Before they could press the issue further, a hood was placed atop Vanya’s blocking her vision.   She was forced onto a board, and wheeled across the room.   They were good, Vanya’s internal systems would be able to count her steps and directions, rendering the mask moot.   But by being tied up and trapped on this antigrav, she had no way to judge where exactly she was heading, and a consequence, which way to escape should the opportunity arise.  

After several minutes, their journey ended.   She heard a thud of a man being thrown to the ground, and her hood was removed. T’Morrik, bound at the wrists, gingerly got to his feet   The guard that had removed her hood was already half way out of their cell.  

“Well” she said.   “I wasn’t expecting to meet royalty.”  

“There is no Romulan Empress Lieutenant.” The Vulcan said.  

“With all due respect, we have apparently been lured into a trap by someone who is under impression that they, or someone they know is the Empress.    While this party has us in bondage, an open mind toward the possibility may keep us alive.”  

Although his hands were bound at the front, he couldn’t break the restraints around his wrist.   Seeing her look at his wrists he added.   “So you can’t break yours either?”  

She shook her head.   The cuffs holding her to the vet completely restrained encased her arms from the elbow down.  “I tested these on the way down, I doubt even a soong type could break these, let lone me.W

“You said you think these people laid a trap?   On what do you base that assertion?”   he asked.  

“Logic.”  She said.  “It is not in the interest of the Tal’Shiar to allow the empire to exist.   You are correct when you say that there is currently no Romulan Empress.    The post was retired when the Empress allegedly ascended centuries ago”  

In line with Romulan tradition, the line of Emperors and Empresses were said to be the physical manifestation of gods.   Therefore when the Empress disappeared, it was claimed by the senate that she had ascended back to the heavens, and entrusted the Empire to her Praetor.   A more cynical perspective is that the Empress was deposed in a revolution, and either exiled or murdered.   

“The Empress has continued in legends of our people, being considered almost holy.   A return to grace of any faction claiming to be royalist would undermine the status quo that the Tal’Shiar was created to uphold.   Therefore, they would destory the group, rather than do any business with them."  


“They could have stumbled across the Tal’Shiar signal.”   T’Morrik said.  

“Doubtful.” She said.  “This group wouldn’t go anywhere near a Tal’Shiar signal, for fear the group would track them down.  "

“What do they want?”   T’Morrik said.    Vanya thought carefully as she looked at the trolley that was waiting for her.   “There is not enough data to make any further hypothesis.” She lied.   “There have been numerous claimants to the throne, but these have either been charismatic charlatans or well funded lunatics. " 

Seemingly from beind the rock wall where they were being held, there was laughter.  “And which am I.”   

The room arojnd them shifted, the cell door, the walls all disappeared from around them.   The strike team that had ambushed them at the cave stood at attention, weapons trained on them both. 

“Turn her around”  said a voice from behind her, the voice dripping with mirth "Let me see.”   One of the guards picked up a remote control, and the upright antigrav rotated 180 degrees.    They appeared to be in a throneroom of some kind.   Vanya glanced out of the window, and saw a scene from Romulus.   There were also Romulan objects d’art pottered around the place.  She knew for a fact that many of these were in a museum on the homeworld.  

She was doubltess still in a holographic simulation, but this one for the benefit of the occupant of the single throne that she was now facing, a figure cloaked in grey.   She pulled back her hood to reveal a brilliant green mask, encrusted with green jewels.   The mask did little to conceal her bright black hair and blue eyes.   Her full red lips were arranged in a beaming smile.  

“So which is it?   Charlatan?   Or fool.”  
Inhabiting my head are:

[Lt. Vanya |Assistant Science Officer| USS Theurgy]

[Lt. J.G Foval |Assistant Diplomatic Officer |USS Theurgy]

Re: One More Time....

Reply #5
[LT JG Vanya|    Cave Stronghold, Traitor's Folly|April 2378]


“Neither majesty”  Vanya said, hating herself for adding the woman’s apparent title.  “You clearly have followers, meaning you are no fool, and a charlatan would not have such a loyal army.” 

The empress flashed her another smile.  From behind her, an aging Romulan, clad in robes that resembled those of the Praetor clapped his hand. 

“The Android knows its place.    But I hope Doctor Mesket can remove the arrogance from the duplicate template?”

“Duplicate?”  Vanya asked.   

“Quite so” the false Prateor said.  As if on queue an ageing Cardassian entered the floor.  He held a tridcorder like device and started to scan Vanya.  “Yes, yes, much as I suspected.  I am sure when I dismantle the unit a thorough study of the drone may allow me to duplicate the process.” 

Vanya recognised the name.    “Meskett?  Used a variety of cruel and unusual experiments to map the Bajoran brain in order to replicate it for artificial life during the Cardassian occupation of that world” 

“They were slaves, and that was somewhat regretible.”  Meskett said with a dismissive wave.  “However, their deaths were almost certain.  Which would be better, to die in a mine, to die fighting each other over scraps of food, or to die in the service of history?  Take you, a Starfleet Officer there is every chance that you would have died in the wake of some anomaly, or at the hands of an enemy.  But  while you will be disassembled at my hands, you will be the template for a new generation of androids, which will assure my place amongst the great cybernetists…” He quickly remembered where he was “…as a side product of delivering the Romulan Star Empire back to it’s noble mistress.” 

“So” Said Vanya to the Empress.  “Let this monster kill me, and then try to copy me to build you an army is that it?”  she asked 

The Empress averted her gaze, it was her aide that spoke up. 

“You do not know of what you speak, Android.”    The false Praetor said.  “We have ships, we have weapons, we even have mercenaries, we protect our people, but if we are ever to survive, we need more people.  You will deliver us the next best thing.” 

Suddenly like a jumble hitting a bump and falling down to the ground assempled,  in Vanya’s mind the pieces of the puzzle fell together.  It was a string of perfect numbers that made sense.  Everything, every doubt she had felt since she had first been briefted about the mission was now explained in a way that could save her life..   

“Empress your life is in danger.”   

The Cardassian sneered.  “The only way to protect the Empress is to lay down your life now, and accept your fate.” 

“Silence.” Said the Empress, she waved the Cardassian down.  “Let’s hear of this threat against my life.” 

“Very well.  I believe that Lieutenant T’Morrik is a spy in your service.”  Vanya said

“Lieutenant!” T’Morrik exclaimed.  The tall Vulcan male’s bluster was there, although it was by Vulcan standards, it was clearly there.    “I don’t know what escape plan you are attempting but…”

“On what do you base this?” asked the Empress.     

“Fact 1, no other Starlfeet personnel briefed me about this mission.  All of my information on this case has been passed on from him.    Second, Starfleet has better placed agents than me to interact with the Tal’shiar, suggesting that I was targeted specifically.  Thirdly, he savagely attacked an assailant that threatened to kill him, and derail his plans.  Plus, if he were truly Vulcan he would dispatch him with a non lethal form of restraint.” 

The Empress nodded.    “You are smart.” She said.  “Well done.  The Tal’Shiar are working with me      How does this become a plot against me?”

“Empress, T’Morrik was alone with me in a shuttle for several hours.  If he wanted to deliver me to you, he could have rendered me senseless in a number of ways, and deliver me anywhere.  There was no need to meet you here.” 

It was difficult for Vanya to tell, but the Empress was deep in thought.  However it would be short lived.  She was interrupted when a spurt of green blood spewed from T’Morrik’s mouth.  “I have failed today, but our numbers are legion, we are coming for abominations and those who…”  his body broke out into violent coughing fits and his body went still. 


“I still don’t understand.” The Empress said. 

“Begging your majesty’s pardon.  There is a device on my belt to protect me from the storms.”    Vanya explained.  “I believe you will find that it can be triggered remotely  Instead of repelling the energy, I think you will find that it will attract it.  When we go into the open, he would have triggered it, killing us both.” 

“A very interesting fiction” said the Prateor.  “But is is just that, a fiction.  Now lets go…” 

“No.”  said the Empress.  “It seems to add up.”  She gestured towards Vanya.  “Release her.” 

“Majesty!” the Cardassian and Romulan protested in union.  More intently, the Meskett  approached the Empress and reached out.  In a blur that even Vanya struggled to see clearly, the Carcassian’s outstretched hand was crunching under a Reman grip. 

Unconcerned she turned to the Cardassian.  “You are fortunate you are so old and obsese.  Had you gotten any closer, it would be your neck snapping and not your hand.” 

Vanya stepped off of the trolley she had been strapped to and nodded with respect at the Empress who in turn inclined her head.  She seemed to linger her gaze on the android for the moment before turning to the the rest of the room. 

“Meskett, fetch a diagnostic table, and your tool box.”  Clutching his broken hand he looked at her.

“It was not a request.  My bodyguard here will either assist you, or proceed to demonstrate how my instruction differs from a request.”  He nodded, and the two of them left. 

“So Vanya, either you have exposed a traitor in my court, or have spun a web of lies so convincing, my Tal’Shiar contact chose to end his life  Both are improbable.  So, you will demonstrate your theory on your personal deflector.  Either it is rigged, as you say, or you will end up on Meskett’s work bench.”
Inhabiting my head are:

[Lt. Vanya |Assistant Science Officer| USS Theurgy]

[Lt. J.G Foval |Assistant Diplomatic Officer |USS Theurgy]

Re: One More Time....

Reply #6
[LT JG Vanya|    Cave Stronghold, Traitor's Folly|April 2378]
Fortunately for Vanya, she was right  Inside the dampener was a modulation device.  A scan showed it was slaved to T’Merrick’s unit.  She would have been on the same ship as the Empress, Vanya would activate the modulator, and it would act as a giant attractor, destroying the ship, and the Empress. 

The Praetor desperately pleaded his case.  He continued to protest his innocence, until she set his guards on him.  Then he began to plead for forgiveness.  The empress took his unit off of his belt, and handed it to Vanya, while attaching one of Meskett’s tools. 

“Please” he begged.  “Don’t do this to me.” 

The Empress took a moment to look around the room.  “I rule in the name of our old gods.  I  am a great believer in the teachings of the gods.  My men will cast you outside.  If you can run back in without being hit by an energy storm that is certain to be attracted by this I will forgive you.” 

“The empress is muh mercriful.”  Stammered the Praetor. 

“Oh, one more thing,”  the Empress said.  “When you get out there, your arms and legs will be broken.” 

The guards dragged him away screaming. 

+++
The Praetor did not return to his Empresses side.  Vanya was allowed to perform an autopsy on what remained of T’Merrick.  Judging by her scans, there was little to tell what species he had been.  She still realised that there was a chance she would end up on the Cardassian’s bench.  She picked up the crude Shiv that was still in tact and hid it in her gear.  Finally, she was called before the Empress once more. 

The throne room was different    Vanya could detect the movements of the Empress’s body guards from the shadows, but there was no one else present.  The Empress herself was dressed differently.  Instead of her non descript robes, she wore a figure hugging red dress, with matching wristbands that went from her wrists to her elbows. 
“You have cost me the life of my Praetor, and have your refusal to submit to my chief scientists examinations has put my army back years, if not decades.”  There was a thin smile on her face.  “I should be very angry with you. 

“But had your praetor succeeded, we would both be dead.  And you took his life.” 

The smile fell.  The queen rose from her throne.  “Do you think I wanted to kill him?” she asked.  “He was the closest thing in my miserable life I have to a friend.” 

“Then why murder him so brutally?”
 asked Vanya. 

“Because there are plenty of madmen and charlatans as you put it.  People who would take my throne for their own.  Not to retake the Empire, but to impose tyranny and cruelty on the handful of subjects I do have.  These soldiers who serve me, they have wives, children, parents who are kept safe.” 

Vanya thought about it for a moment, and the Emporess’ mask fell almost as surely as if it had been unfastened from her head  She didn’t believe that she was the true heir to the Empire, not really.  She was doing what she could for the few hundred – dozen – innocents under her care. 

“I was going to offer you the chance to stand at my side as Praetor.”  The Empress confessed as she upped Vanya’s face in her hand.  “You could be beyond corruption, you wouldn’t betray me, and you’d  be able to build an army yourself.

Vanya shook her head.  “No, Majesty.  I have sworn an oath to Starfleet.  Besides, if I return to Romulan space, I would be hounded by the Tal’Shiar.” 

The Empress turned away from her.  “Then go.  I only wish you could stay around to see Meskett’s face when you were gone.” 

Two days later

Vanya – now back in her traditional Starfleet uniform sat in the seat opposite the Tellarate interrogator.     She wasnt even sure if she was on a ship or Starbase.   There had been hours of debriefing, and finally they were begining to believe she was telling the truth.  

“And you made no attempt to track this Empress?” he asked. 

“No.” Vanya admitted.  “She had let me live, I couldn’t ask for much else.”  He nodded. 

“We have studied samples of T’Merrick’s DNA from his home and compared them with the ones you took from his shuttle, and the sample we have on file.  They all match.    He had been compromised.    That was the scariest thing of all who else had been compromised in Starfleet by this?   And how?

“Does Starfleet have anything on this Empress?” she asked.    “We think so.  47 years ago, a high ranking member of the Romulan senate claimed to be of the royal bloodline, and made a claim for the throne.  The Coup ended ten minutes after he tried to start it.  He fled.  We think she is his daughter.” 

They were not that different, Vanya mused.  The Empress had been born into her role, as she had been created for hers.  Vanya had escaped her fate.  The Empress had not. 

       

Fin
Inhabiting my head are:

[Lt. Vanya |Assistant Science Officer| USS Theurgy]

[Lt. J.G Foval |Assistant Diplomatic Officer |USS Theurgy]

 
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