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Doing Her Part [PLOT]

Posted on Thu Jan 10th, 2019 @ 12:26pm by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis

Mission: Mission 4: Riding A Pale Horse
Location: Techlon Arches Settlement
Timeline: July 18, 2394 - 1000 Hours


The physical and mental effort it had taken Rhiana to get through her meeting with Captain T'por had taken their toll. By the time the two women had reached the bottom of the spiral staircase, Rhiana was barely concious and Riley had had more than one moment where she had regretted having given in to the stranger's demands and bringing her to meet with the Captain. Also more than once, Riley had almost lost her grip on Rhiana which might have sent at least one if not both of them tumbling down the seemingly endless staircase and breaking every bone in their bodies. Fortunately, the medic had avoided that and when they arrived at the bottom, she, too, was covered in sweat and close to collasping. The guards had called for help and two helpers had arrived carrying a stretcher onto which they placed the Romulan. Together, the four had returned to the small infirmary where the helpers had placed the guest back on the bed and Riley had spent a few moments checking on her vital signs. When she had determined that everything was under control, Riley finally went to check on her other patient who had had to wait for an unnessarily long time.

Utterly exhausted, Rhiana had barely moved once she was on the stretcher, having passed out almost immediately. She had not woken up when she was placed back on the bed either but had continued to sleep.

[The following morning]

Riley looked in on her sleeping patient from the door that lead outside. She'd been to the infirmary for her other patient, a young man who'd somehow managed to be bitten by a Dervish Spider. She was beginning to believe that Techlons liked getting hurt. Although, if that was a standard, Rhiana might be a Techlon in disguise. At least she didn't complain. She closed the door carefully and turned to look at her guest.

"Xavi, she's still asleep," Riley said.

Xavi scowled. "I don't care. I have to talk with her now." The young Romulan said. "This will be... I've been waiting so long."

Riley sighed. She was sympathetic to Xavi's distress. His mother and he had crashed on the planet sixteen years ago. Unfortunately, his mother's wounds had been extensive and she'd never really recovered, dying four years after the crash and leaving a very wild young Romulan on the camp's collective hands.

"Give me a minute," Riley said and slipped inside the room. "Rhiana?"

"Hmm," came a sound from the bed where a still mostly asleep Rhiana tried without much success to open her eyes. She was still feeling weak and now that she had spoken with T'por, she felt that she could sleep for a week. Maybe she had. She had no way of knowing, had not cared enough before to ask the question. And if she was honest with herself, she still preferred not to know exactly how much time had passed since the crash.

That train of thoughts helped wake up Rhiana's brain and, rubbing the sleep out of her her eyes, she finally managed to open them. And saw Riley, about which she was quite relieved. She trusted the medic. To some point. Certainly more than she trusted most others. "Yes." Annoyed by the weak and hoarse sound she produced, Rhiana cleared her throat and tried again. "Yes." To show that she was indeed awake and quite ready for action, she sat up. Or rather, she propped herself up with some difficulty, once more annoyed with herself that she was so weak and lacked energy. "What is it?"

"I know you need your rest but there's someone outside who would very much like to meet you," Riley said. "He's been waiting for you, well someone like you, for his whole life," Riley said. "I know that sounds very weird. See, he's Romulan. He and his mother crashed on our planet years ago."

Rhiana said nothing for a long moment and contented herself with simply looking at Riley. What were the chances that there were other Romulans here?? She sat up straighter and suddenly felt homesick and self-conscious. She must be getting better. "I will meet him, of course. But I would very much like to change first." She was was after all still wearing that nightshirt. "Do you have showers here?"

Riley nodded. "Of course," Riley said and pointed to a different door beyond Rhiana's bed. "There's a small bathroom with shower in there. And the seamstress sewed you some new clothes. I put the package in the bathroom." Riley felt dumb for not offering the shower before. "Why don't I tell him that you need some time to clean up and he can come back?"

"No," Rhiana replied without hestiation. "He can wait. I will not be long." She stood from the bed and had to hold onto the wall not to collapse back onto it. "Could you please also arrange for something to eat? Thank you."

[Less than half an hour later]

Rhiana emerged from the small bathroom a different person. She held herself straighter. Her skin was scrubbed clean of the accumulated grime of the past days, her matted hair, though still slightly wet, was shiny and combed. She had even found a toothbrush and was glad of being rid of the stale taste in her mouth. Furthermore, that horrible nightshirt was gone, replaced by a garment that could have been of Romulan origin, even if a slightly outdated style. It was very well fitting and Rhiana tried not to think about how the measurements had been obtained without the use of tricorders. Straight-legged dark brown pants that were tight-fitting around Rhiana's thighs made up the lower part of the outfit. The upper part consisted of an equally form-fitting dark brown tunic with long sleeves and a mandarin collar. While the back part fell almost to her knees, the front ended just below her chest. Underneath that tunic, she was wearing a moss-green tight-fitting shirt with no visible buttons or fastenings. The only thing missing were her boots that were standing next to her bed.

Thoughtful Riley had removed the stitches from the Romulan's forehead wound while the latter was sleeping and Rhiana had been content to discover that while there would be a scar, it was at least healing without infection.

A few minutes later, there was a discreet knock on the door and then it opened a crack. Riley smiled as she saw Rhiana sitting on the bed, pulling her boots on. "Well, you certainly clean up well," she said with a wide smile. "I hardly recognize you. I'm glad to see that the clothes fit you. Those ladies are wizards with a needle and fabric." The young medic looked over her shoulder and then back at Rhiana. "Are you ready?"

"Yes, your seamstresses are masters at their craft," Rhiana agreed then rose from the bed, now fully and properly clothed. "I am ready."

Riley nodded and stepped away from the door. Before she'd fully moved out of the way, a young Romulan man, dressed in clothes very similar to Rhiana's edged inside. He was tall and lanky with short black hair that contrasted with his skin. He stopped two steps inside the room, eyes moving from side to side and finally settling on Rhina.

"Æfvadh," he said with a stiff bow and then continued in Romulan. "I am Xavi. It is my great pleasure to meet one of my people at last. May I ask your name?"

It took Rhiana all of two seconds to seize up the youth according to that inner 'compass' that was trained into Romulans from birth and that allowed a person to know the social standing of any other person in regards to themselves and allowed them to act accordingly. When she realised that she was doing so, she was secretly pleased, for after years in a much more egalitarian society, she was afraid that she was losing that ability. She returned the bow then, moving with more ease and infinitely more practice than Xavi. Hers was a shallow bow, from the waist but held for merely a breath or two. "I am Rhiana e-Fveirrolh t'Aegis." She hesitated for half a second, then gestured to a chair and added, still in Romulan, "Have a seat and tell me about yourself, Xavi."

Xavi bowed again and sat down in the chair he was offered. "Thank you. I have so many questions. My mother and I were stranded here on this planet when I was very young. She died when I was four. My only exposure to my people and my culture has been through our shuttle's computer. The captain has allowed me to retain possession of it and use it as my home. Perhaps when you are recovered I could take you there. But I am eager to hear about the Empire. I hope to one day leave this place and return there."

Rhiana's ears pricked up at the mention of a shuttle. "You speak our language well," she praised the youth's skill and, silently, his determination to keep a language alive without another person to practise it with. "It would be an honour for me to visit your home," she continued rather formally. "How much of the shuttle is still functional?"

Xavi frowned. "The computer core and secondary power sources are functional. The only thing destroyed is the warp core. My mother was forced to eject it before we landed. The shuttle isn't capable of flight but otherwise it is in good condition," Xavi said. His chin lifted. "I consider myself more than proficient with the shuttle's systems. I have maintained them over the years."

"That is quite an achievement given the scarcity of resources here," Rhiana acknowledged. "Maybe you will be able to help me in a little undertaking then." She reached out and picked up one of the bowls that Riley had left on the low table between them and a fork and took a bite of whatever was in that bowl. She could not remember the name Riley had used nor did she care. Right now, she only wanted to quickly mask the loud rumble of her starving belly before Xavi heard it. Rhiana could have emptied the bowl in about three seconds, but she forced herself to pace herself. The youth did not need to see how famished she was and she did not want to get sick right after eating. That would be... embarrassing, to say the least.

"But in the meantime, I can maybe answer a few of your questions."

Xavi nodded. "I am thankful for the opportunity. I realize you have been through a trial. I would like to know how you came to be in the company of Starfleet personnel. My mother raised me to think of them as enemies. Or at least not quite friends," he said. "And, of course, I would like to know if you will take me with you and help me enter into service of the Empire."

"Of course I will take you with me." The answer came immediately and very matter-of-factly. Rhiana did not even have to think about it for she had decided to take the youth with her as soon as she had seen him. The other answers were more difficult to give and she took another bite and chewed thoughtfully while pondering how to introduce the difficult truth to Xavi. "What you have heard of your mother or from the shuttle's computer about the Empire is not true anymore." She had decided to be brutal. "There is no empire anymore. There are remnants, but what there is now is nothing compared to what once was." She placed the not-quite-half-empty bowl onto the table and looked at the young Romulan. "A supernova destroyed the Homeworlds not quite eight years ago. Uncountable lives were lost. All main government institutions. Large parts of the Galae, the imperial navy."

Xavi's mouth opened and then closed. He sat utterly still, his mind trying to process what he'd heard. He clenched his jaw, the muscles standing out sharply on his youthful face. "How can this be? I've waited my whole life to return to our homeworld and now you say it is gone!" He stood up, knocking his chair over in the process. It clattered against the ground. "I've studied the computer's information on the Empire for years. All of that is now worthless. I am now worthless!" His voice echoed through the small room, causing Riley to open the door and peak inside.

"Is everything ok?" Riley asked.

"Yes," Rhiana quickly replied from her chair, appearing rather unphased. Seeing that noone was injured, Riley gave a short nod and closed the door, leaving the two Romulans alone again.

"No, Xavi, you are not worthless." Rhiana spoke calmly, reasonably. "Quite in the contrary. You are a determined young man who has apparently quite thrived in a difficult environment. Despite never having lived there for a reasonable amount of time, you know the Empire. You have studied it. Just the same, though, you are not as burdened by the immeasurable loss we sustained as those who did live there. This can give you the strength necessary to help rebuild the Empire." She paused briefly, just long enough to let her words sink in but not giving Xavi the chance to say anything just yet. "Or, you can choose to make your home in the United Federation of Planets. You would be able to learn any trade you are interested in or apply to attend Starfleet Academy to become an officer in their navy. Your mother was right. They used to be enemies. They are not anymore."

Xavi took a deep breath and then turned around and picked up the chair. He set it back where it had been and sat down again. Leaning forward, he pressed his fingertips together. "I just thought that this day would come and I would end up finding a home. A real home. The captain is the closest thing I've come to living with another Romulan and mostly she tries to teach me how to be a Vulcan," Xavi said. "I will need some time to consider what I will do now. I appreciate your offers. Do you expect to be able to leave this planet then? Someone told me your ship had crashed."

"Then you know more than I do," Rhiana freely admitted. "But yes, I fully expect to leave here again. My entire crew landed on this planet. I hope that most survived. It is simply a matter of finding them and repairing our vessel." At least, it was simple in theory. In reality, it might still take days or weeks or even months to find all of the crew and, more importantly, be able to repair the Firebird. And that was still a very optimistic outlook on their situation. "The first decision you have to take, Xavi, is whether you want to remain here or not. My vessel may be the only way for you to leave this planet. You will still have time afterwards to decide whether you want to join what is left of the Empire or whether you want to remain with me aboard the Firebird." She rose to her feet. "In the meantime, why do you not show me your shuttle and help me find my crewmates?"

Xavi smiled. "Of course. It would be my honor. I think you will find the shuttle comfortable. Perhaps more comfortable than here. The chairs anyway," Xavi said.

He opened the door and stepped out. Rhiana followed him. The two Romulans made a striking pair as they walked, slowly, into the Arches settlement.


Lieutenant Rhiana t'Aegis
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Romulan Civilian
Arches Settlement
(NPC by Llwyedd)

Civilian Medic
Arches Settlemtn
(NPC by Llwyedd)


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Comments (2)

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Sun Jan 13th, 2019 @ 3:43pm

Favorite humorous line: "It was very well fitting and Rhiana tried not to think about how the measurements had been obtained without the use of tricorders."

I appreciated the background bit regarding Rhiana being pleased to have retained the cultural ability to size up any other Romulan's social standing. (I don't care that it's a detail which doesn't serve to move the plot along. I'm glad it's there. I like background details to enrich a setting.)

One aspect to Rhiana's stories that I both love and hate is how much she causes ups and downs in regards to the reader's sense of when to go along and when to be dig in your heels. If Riley had been anyone other than Riley, Rhiana's stay with the Techlons would be going much worse. For better or for worse, it's in character for Rhiana to have the chutzpah to order her captor to bring them food.

During this story, I wondered how Rhiana would react to having full access to an eager young Romulan mind. There's a big opportunity there for petty revenge, but she thankfully doesn't seem to be going that route.

(If that was anyone else of the Firebird's crew, there wouldn't be any tension or uncertainty for the readers to enjoy, because the audience would just shrug its shoulders and say, "Well of course she will return him to his people who treated her like garbage. We're the Federation and we're nice people who would never stoop low enough to go back in time to kill Hitler even though we have a time travel episode once per season." With Rhiana, there IS substantial doubt in the audience's mind as to what she actually wants to do about his situation. Well done!)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Gianna Djokovic on Tue Jan 22nd, 2019 @ 8:31am

I'm really enjoying Rhiana's story arc in this mission. As always with Rhiana, she peppers in detail about Romulan culture and customs and that makes it a really fun read. I can't wait to see if this potential protege pans out. -Liam