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The Ties That Bind and Scar [CD]

Posted on Tue Apr 14th, 2020 @ 9:15am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis

Mission: Interlude 4
Location: DS9
Timeline: 6 March, 2395 - 1000 Hours

[ON]

Bokot's message had come as a surprise. And then it had not. Rhiana had known that it would come and had expected it. What she had not expected was that he had asked her to meet him on Deep Space Nine instead of Empok Nor. He knew that she would be there. He had probably known that before she even got her orders. Rhiana shook her head once as she briskly walked along the familiar yet strange promenade on this familiar yet strange space station. Of course, him being a (former) member of the Tal Shiar, she would expect him to have this kind of information - but back home, not here in the Federation. It meant that he either was very well connected or had monitoring systems and informants in place. She would never know.

Finally, she arrived at Quark's and frowned. A Ferengi bar. Of all the places they could have met, Bokot had chosen a Ferengi bar. At least it was morning and the bar was not too crowded yet.

Rhiana entered and, as often, got a few glances. Romulans wearing a Starfleet uniform were a rare sight. She ignored them.

Bokot was sitting on the second story of Quark's. Like most intelligence professionals, he hated to be exposed in a public space and the small table he sat at was isolated with good views of people coming and going. There was also a maintenance hatch nearby if he neededto escape, not that he expected he would have to. He stood up and waved a hand at Rhiana. He mentally ran through the list of things he'd discovered about her young ward, Xavi and thought once again about how much he could tell her.

Rhiana saw the wave and nodded once at Bokot to indicate that she had indeed seen it. She located the staircase and quickly joined her fellow Romulan on the second story. "Fair day, Bokot," she greeted him with one of the precisely calculated and executed inclinations of her head and, if appropriate, upper body she had been trying to teach to Xavi. With little success, unfortunately. These gestures were more easily learned when one grew up with them and he obviously had not. "You wished to see me?"

Bokot nodded as he sat down. "For more than one reason," Bokot said, inclining his head in a return greeting. "Feel free to order anything you'd like. My treat." Bokot tapped a green colored glass in front of himself, filled with an amber-colored liquid. "Since we last met, I have been working my contacts to discover more about your ward. His situation and the circumstances that led to him being marooned on Far Wanderer are quite distinct. I was able to find some information for you," Bokot said and took a small drink. "But I think that the information could cause you more trouble and create more questions than you might want."

Before Rhiana could answer, a waitress came and asked for her wishes. "Romulan blue tea, please," Rhiana ordered after a glance at Bokot's glass. "Anything to eat? We have a wide variety of breakfast dishes from all over the galaxy," the waitress offered, but the Romulan shook her head. "No, thank you. Just tea will be fine." Rhiana had hesitated for an instant, but not knowing the quality of the food and not being exactly hungry, preferred to not take any chances. "Very well, one Romulan blue tea coming up." The waitress smiled and walked away again, leaving the two Romulans alone again.

Rhiana looked at Bokot. "I want to know as much as you do about Xavi. I cannot possibly take any major decision concerning him if I remain ignorant of his story." Her tone left no doubt that she meant what she said.

Bokot nodded. "I was able to use some of my old contacts within the empire to make discreet inquiries about your ward. I'm not a fool. I didn't want anyone asking the wrong questions to the wrong people. As you know the Tal Shiar and Commander Sela are feuding over the spoils of the empire. I'm not eager to be directly involved in that feud, which is one of the reasons I'm in this part of space," Bokot said and then took a drink. "I heard back from one of my Tal Shiar contacts sooner than I'd expected. Remarkably fast, in fact. He was interested to know if I had heard whether this figure, Xavi, had survived. I, of course, demurred and said I had no idea and that I was simply following up on a rumor I'd heard. He offered me quite a bit to pursue the rumor. When I asked why, he told me a story. You've heard of General Vobahk? He took Natasha Yar as his concubine and, unfortunately, fathered Sela. It turns out that the general had a niece and that niece had one son, named Xavi."

There were times when Rhiana failed to keep her expression neutral. This was one of them. When Bokot finished speaking, she was not only staring at him in a mixture of disbelief and shock, but doing so with her mouth open. When she realised that, she quickly closed her mouth and blinked. Xavi? Sela's... She calculated in her mind. Sela's nephew once removed? Not that it mattered. /Any/ degree of kinship to Sela was life threatening. So much for her vague plan of one day sending the boy to the Empire to continue his education or maybe join whatever was left of the Galae. She took a deep breath, but before she could say anything, the waitress was back with the ordered tea. Rhiana uttered a distracted "Thank you" and the waitress, maybe sensing the heavy air between the two Romulans, disappeared quickly.

Rhiana leaned back in her chair and took another deep breath as she passed a hand through her hair, destroying the perfect styling. She did not need such a complication in her life. "I thank you for telling me this, Bokot," she replied eventually. Not quite reluctantly, but she could already feel the shackles Bokot's involvement and this bit of intelligence placed upon her. "How much do I have to offer you to keep the boy's whereabouts to yourself?" At least until she had figured out for herself whether she should keep protecting Xavi or hand him over to either of the warring Romulan factions.

Bokot held up his cup in a mock salute. "How quickly we fall back into old patterns," he said, lowering the cup and taking a drink. "Do you think so little of me that you automatically assume that I am doing this for gain. That I have been seeking you out simply for gain?" Bokot set the cup down. He looked up at Rhiana, his face becoming serious and a look of true sadness in his eyes. "When we first met I told you that a good friend of mine named tr'Llhaenn told me I would find you here. That was a bit of a lie. I did hear that you might be here and I couldn't resist the opportunity to see if it was true. We have much in common, you and I. And I think it is time you understood. My name is Bokot i-Ra'tleihfi tr'Llhaenn. Rhiana t'Aegis, we are bound by ties that bind us together, leaving similar scars. And thus shall we ever be."

For the second time in the span of a few minutes, Rhiana found herself staring at Bokot. Staring and then, quickly, blinking away tears that were threatening to well up in her eyes. She swallowed, looking away, trying to get herself back under control and not break down in front of Outworlders. And Bokot. She inhaled deeply, looking at anything but him. She remembered their first encounter, of course. Remembered the glimmer of irrational hope he had stoked within her. Hope he had now crushed again.

And yet... he was was a s'Llhaenn. If he was telling the truth. But he had no reason to lie to her. No reason to reveal his true identity. So it probably was true. "Why...," she began, then cleared her throat so as not to sound as if she had almost cried. "Why are you telling me this now?"

"Because I need you to trust me now. Xavi's existence put you in danger and I made a pledge to do what I could to keep you safe. The people I made inquiries with will tell other people and those other people will eventually come looking for Xavi. Some of them will want to take him and use him as a negotiating tactic. Others will want to recruit him. None of them will want you in the picture," Bokot said.

Rhiana looked at her tea, then in direction of the bar. But it was not even time for secondmeal yet and technically, she was on duty. So she picked up the cooling tea and took a sip. Passable. "What are you suggesting? That I kill him? Hand him over to you? Hand him over to the highest bidder? Hide him somewhere?" At neither of these suggestions, she sounded sarcastic. Indeed, they all were viable, if theoretical, options.

Bokot paused to consider all of Rhiana's suggestions in turn. He knew that she was being flippant but that didn't mean they weren't worthy of consideration. After a moment he shook his head. "I don't think killing him would be a wise move. First, I don't think you'd be capable. You clearly have an attachment already. Secondly, being responsible for his death would put you at almost as much risk as turning him over. I certainly don't want him. That would cause me an incredible amount of difficulty. Hiding him is possible," Bokot said and nodded. "Yes. Hiding him either somewhere he won't be found or, for the moment, leaving him on your ship, is the wisest move. Unless you have a better idea?"

Rhiana opened her mouth to disagree with Bokot when he said that she would not be able to kill Xavi, then closed it again. He was right. She did feel attached to the boy. She opened her mouth once more to say something, but closed it again when she realised something and looked at Bokot. "I have put you in danger as well." It was not a question. "Those people you made inquiries with, they know where to find you. Someone is going to come looking for the boy. And their first stop will be with you." She suddenly felt drained and slumped slightly in her chair. "Do not risk your life for me." Rhiana sat up again and looked squarely at Bokot. "Send them to me. I will deal with them. In the meantime, I will make arrangements for the boy."

Bokot's eyes went cold. "Do not presume to speak to me as if I were some kind of youngling. I took the actions I took, knowing the possible outcomes. There is no purpose to putting you on their scanners. When they come, I will have answers for them. Those answers will lead them far away from you and Xavi," Bokot said. He sighed. "Perhaps we can now have a civilized meal together? It has been a long time since I spoke of my brother. There hasn't been anyone worthy of that conversation until now."

"Your brother?" Rhiana stared again. "He never mentioned you." After a short pause to consider, she added, "On the other hand, he never mentioned anyone from his house aside from your hru'hfirh. She hated me." She smiled wistfully, then sighed. "I apologise, Bokot. It was not my intention to patronise you. But it is because of my query that you find yourself in this position." Rhiana bowed her head. "Thank you for your help." When she looked up again, her expression was a little softer. "I would very much like to share a meal with you."

Bokot smiled. "Good. Good. Now, where is that waitress," he said, looking around.


[OFF]

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



Bokot i-Ra'tleihfi tr'Llhaenn
Empok Nor Trader
(NPC by Captain Llwyedd)

 

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Comments (1)

By Lieutenant JG Yikete Oggt on Fri Jan 31st, 2020 @ 1:06pm

Great post! More Romulan goodness!