The Double Blind - Part 1 of 3
Posted on Wed Oct 16th, 2019 @ 6:01pm by Captain Enalia Telvan & Az'Prel & Riov (Captain) Dalia Rendal & Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Sonak & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox & erei'Riov (Commander) Arrenhe t'Suil & Jaeih Dox-t'Aan & Artan Pirate Helev t'Liun & Deihu (Senator) Verelan t'Rul
Edited on on Mon Oct 28th, 2019 @ 9:56am
Location: The Delevhas Compound - ch'Rihan
It was a balmy afternoon, near the end of third shift as AnteCenturion Ro’Zahn tr’Crans yawned slightly at his post. From a few meters away, at the other side of a large retractable door, AnteCenturion Gildehn tr’Sturn rolled his eyes and groaned, “Don’t start that, tr’Crans.”
The two guards stood under a great stone and metal archway at the end of a long tunnel on an elevated landing platform. The Platform was large. Large enough to accommodate at least three Charon-Class shuttle and a few flitters or Scorpions at the least, overlooking the picturesque Oh'hayo valley of ch’Rihan. “I’m tired and ready for shift rotation, Gildehn. I missed firstmeal, and I'm hungry as well. It’s not a breach of protocol to be hungry.”
“It is to talk this much on duty. So I would recommend keeping your hunger and your fatigue to yourself.” As he spoke, however, his own stomach betrayed him and let out an audible gurgle. “Hnaev. I blame you.”
The two stood at the entrance of the tunnel that led over four hundred meters back to the Delevhas Compound. The platform was elevated, overlooking the green rushing waters of a river several stories below and was purposed for the landings of delegates, operatives and prisoner transfer to the secure compound behind them. The tunnel on the other side of the archway the two were guarding sloped down to ground level, almost disappearing into the treeline. To the left of the entrance of the tunnel was a small control structure with another two officers inside manning the security screens and monitoring the area.
The compound was located rather far from the nearest major city on ch’Rihan, the planet known to much of the quadrant as Romulus. Nestled in the plains of the Oh’Hayo valley, it almost seemed serene set under the deep turquoise skies and rolling grasses, tinted lavender in the light. The building itself looked almost like any other government structure with rounded exterior walls, a central dome, and doric columns around the exterior with a design to make it look older and more classical than it was. But what it was was one of several high-security Tal’Shiar facilities located on the outskirts of the Imperial Capitol city of Ra'tleihfi.
For the two guards outside and the quieter two technicians in the landing control booth behind them, it was a calm and quiet duty, until the shuttlecraft approached. They were clearly authorized and had the proper landing codes, otherwise the automated defenses would have raised the shields over the landing pad. So when the clean and sleek shuttlecraft touched down, it was a surprise to see a Romulan commander and what appeared to be an elderly stateswoman of sorts emerging, and making their way across the landing pad to address the centurions.
Whispering, the first guard muttered to the second, "Elements... that's Riov Rendal." Then, trying to avoid looking nervous, both men put their fists over their chests in salute as the guard on the left of the door, AnteCenturion tr’Crans, spoke.
"Riov. Your shuttle is not scheduled for six minutes time... is all in order?" He asked nervously. Both men were hoping to be off duty and on their ways home when the more exciting duty shift took over to deal with the upcoming prisoner transfer.
"We are making sure it is in order and are here to ensure that this transfer proceeds as smoothly as possible." Captain Enalia Telvan, holographically disguised as Rendal replied haughtily, incredibly mimicking the royal accent quite closely. "To that effect, you are relieved. We will be using security from the Senator's vessel." At Enalia’s side stood Lieutenant Commander Sonak, in a similar holographic disguise as the Rihannsu senator, Verelan t’Rul.
The two AnteCenturions looked at each other, slightly confused and slightly suspicious. There were, after all, procedures in place that needed to be followed in circumstances like this. Hesitantly, AnteCenturion tr’Sturn gulped slightly and spoke, "Ie, Riov. However, procedure requires... written orders to this effect?"
Riov Rendal cleared her throat and waved the PaDD in her hand at them that she had pulled out as they were asking for orders. "And you have them. Or do you..." The false Riov then looked at the two officers in the control booth with a raised eyebrow, "Or any of you... require Re-education?"
The color quickly and clearly drained from the Rihannsu men's faces at the thinly veiled threat as they barely glanced at the PaDD and saluted nervously. "No, Riov. W... we serve the Imperium loyally," tr'Crans said, trying not to shake. After all, Riov Rendal's predilection for 're-education' was somewhat notorious and Enalia was using that reputation well.
Saluting again, the AnteCenturions entered their entry codes into the control booth where all four officers on duty left through the rear door to the interior of the station in a decided hurry.
Without turning back towards their shuttle, Enalia, still disguised as Rendal, motioned towards the disguised Thex and Varnok to begin their side of the operation and for the shuttle to head out. They'd have to do the technical work inside the security booth to make sure they weren't discovered during the operation. They'd also have to have all that in place so they could drop their holographic disguises before the real Rendal and Senator arrived on the real shuttle.
Disguised as Romulans, the Hera's Andorian Chief Engineer and Cardassian Intel officer came off the shuttle and quickly went to the booth to get to work jamming security communications and setting up a feed loop so nobody inside the main station could see what was happening out on the landing pad.
Meanwhile, Az'Prel stepped off with them in an AnteCenturion's security uniform to replace one of the two departing guards. And from within the shuttle as it took off, a voice came over the hidden cochlear ear comm units from the shuttle. "Captain. This is Maenek t'Liun on the shuttle. Sensors show the real Senatorial Shuttle en route. ETA, 4.2 minutes."
“Alright everyone, make sure you’re in position. We only get one shot at this, so let’s make this Tal’Shiar PetaQ’ will think twice about crossing us again,” Enalia stated coldly into her cochlear comm unit as she disengaged her holographic disguise. The sword at her belt no longer looked like Rendal’s, but it now took on its actual form - that of a Senatorial honor guard sword taken from another Rihanna Riov some years back when Enalia was but a Lieutenant.
High above the plains of ch’Rihan, the world known to the rest of the Alpha and Beta quadrants as ‘Romulus’, the real Senatorial shuttle, a shining green Charon-Class ship began its descent. As it entered the atmosphere of the teal rimmed hearthworld of the Rihannsu Star Empire, it was flanked in tight military formation by four, shimmering black Scorpion fighters.
Standing at command behind the helm, overseeing everything, Riov Dalia Rendal was taking no chances with her prize. Due to the unique transport inhibiting shielding employed at the Delevhas Compound, the transfer of said prize had to be managed via-shuttle, but the canny Commander knew that if there was ever going to be an opportunity for a rescue attempt to be made, this would be it.
At one side of the Royal Rihannsu, stood her loyal SubCommander, erei’Riov Arrenhe t'Suil. At the other side, the noble but mind-controlled Senator, Verelan t’Rul. And in the rear of the shuttle stood a detachment of Rihannsu security forces, over thirty AnteCenturions, armed and ready. And in the center of them, secured in a seat, wrists bound in security cuffs, sat the center of their attentions: The red-headed Starfleet Lieutenant, Mnhei’sahe Dox… granddaughter of the regal Senator that the Tal’Shiar coveted for the secrets hidden in her mind.
The young Rihannsu pilot was dressed in the same black turtleneck and Rihannsu military pants and boots she had been in the last week of her captivity. And while she had been treated more like a guest than a prisoner during that last week, she was also a pilot in a small enough ship to use to escape if the opportunity presented itself, so she was locked securely in place for the final leg of her long journey to the homeworld she had never been to before.
After a long, silent descent, the Shuttle could be seen breaking through the clouds in the turquoise sky above the landing platform. There, Captain Telvan and the crew of the Hera waited. In the control booth, Thex and Varnok maintained their facades and gave the shuttle its landing clearance. At the large door of the tunnel that led to the compound beyond the forcefields and security screens in place, Az’Prel and a no-longer hologram disguised Sonak stood at the ready, disguised as guards.
And as the Shuttle slowly lowered itself to the center of the platform, Captain Enalia Telvan stood at the ready. Wearing the uniform of a Rihannsu commander, like much of the crew, she had been surgically altered to look very much like the model of a noble Rihannsu Riov herself. Her jet black hair was pulled up into an imposing bun that framed the surgically altered ears and enhanced brow that obscured her own features, hopefully enough to not be recognized. On her hip, she wore a Rihannsu longsword that glinted in it’s curved, black scabbard. In her hand, a PaDD with the counterfeit transfer orders she prayed would pass muster.
With a hiss of landing thrusters, the Charon-Class shuttle crept to a stop on the platform, almost staring down the Trill Captain as it did. There was a long moment before the main door of the ship opened and the ramp for passengers to disembark extended down through a swirl of hydraulic mists that quickly faded. In the sky around the platform, the four Scorpions remained airborne, taking up a defensive perimeter, circling the landing ominously.
First, two groups of AnteCenturions disembarked, taking up position in military formation at both sides of the ramp. And as they did, off stepped Riov Rendal, followed closely and silently by the Deihu Verelan t’Rul. Behind them came another group of AnteCenturions. Eight in the front and Eight in the back with t’Suil taking up the rear. And in the middle of the two groups of guards, Mnhei’sahe Dox.
The young officer hung her head low as she stepped slowly off the ship. She didn’t want to look up at the sky she had wanted to be under since she was a child. She didn’t want to taste the air filling her lungs from the home she had been denied her whole life. She scowled as she stepped off of the ramp onto the platform and stood behind the guards when they stopped, never once looking up.
But she did listen, as the disguised Captain stepped forward to present the PaDD to Rendal and spoke in a voice that Dox knew entirely too well, even speaking in her native Rihan. “Riov Rendal, I am Riov t’Vola. By order of the Senate Judiciary Council I have orders to take possession of the prisoners for processing and transfer pending the Senate’s decision on the matter of their… Kidnapping.”
Keeping her composure, Dox maintained her grim facade and looked for all the world like someone being lead to their doom. While she had been painfully easy to read, wearing her fragile emotions on her sleeve, just over a year ago when she first joined the Hera, a full month of negotiating with her own notoriously secretive people had helped the young officer develop a poker face good enough to have even Enaila wondering if Dox had even recognized her. The young officer glanced up slightly to look at the situation, taking in the positions of everyone. Enalia before her, the rest of the crew in disguise in their positions. And as she did, she made the briefest of eye contact with her Captain before hanging her head again. Just enough to let Enalia know that she was still there. Still aware.
The Royal Romulan paused for a moment, studying the face of the woman before her, running through her memory of the Riovs that worked directly for the Senate Judiciary Council. Riov t’Vola was one of them and this woman looked like her… But for her to have left her post in the senate chambers… Either this was the expected escape attempt or the Senate took this far more seriously than she assumed.
With half-lidded eyes, Rendal looked around at the other people on the platform as she slowly reached out and took the PaDD with the supposed orders. Once she was done profiling them, she directed her gaze to the text itself and started scrolling. “You mentioned prisoners, plural. Unfortunately, Jaeih Dox, mentioned here, is a traitor to the Imperial Navy anyway and was killed during an escape attempt. Thus she will be unable to be handed over. Her personal effects have already been disposed of.”
“Very well. As you say, she was indeed a traitor to the people of ch’Rihan and would have likely been executed anyway.” Enalia spoke dispassionately, as if she were reporting the weather on a distant moon. “That only makes the issue of the other one… Mnhei’sahe… Dox, so important to the Senate Judiciary Council.”
“In case the Federation decides we are not the best of allies, I assume.” Rendal paused a moment to turn the PaDD over on her hand slowly, rubbing the back of it thoughtfully. It looked fine on initial inspection, but something about it felt off. “Unfortunately, I have claimed her as my apprentice, and once we complete her processing inside this facility, we intend to groom her to be the heir to both the Rul and Rendal families.”
Listening, Dox’s stomach tightened at the word ‘apprentice’, but she kept her face neutral as if she had heard nothing.
Rendal then looked up, straight into Enalia’s eyes. “She is a daughter of ch’Rihan. She is drawn to this world and the people. You may find that she has little desire to go with you now.”
Rendal then turned to Dox. “Do you, my apprentice? You’re finally on your home world. In the land of your heart. Oh’Hayo has the cleanest air, the purest rivers, the greenest plants.” The Royal Riov then pulled out the controls for the shackles and deactivated them, allowing them to fall to the deck. “Look around you. Let it fill your senses. This is where you belong. You are home.”
The tension was a palpable thing, hovering between the three women. Dox looked down at her hands, then up to Rendal ,doing her level best to keep the hatred she felt contained. She hated the woman not just because of everything she had done, but because on some level, Dox wanted to do what Rendal was offering. She wanted to take in the home she had been denied for a lifetime. She considered her reply for perhaps a moment longer than was necessary, turning to finally gaze up at the turquoise sky she hadn’t yet looked at. “Once the Council has processed me as needed, would I have any say in my fate in this regard? Either way, I would still be here.”
“Oh no, the Senate stores prisoners in the mines of ch’Havran. Isn’t that right, Riov t’Vola?” Rendal turned slowly back to Enalia, a glimmer of a grin in her eye but the rest of her face, an emotionless jade masque.
“I dare not speak for the senate. I can only refer to historical fact as recorded.” Enalia responded, not rising to the bait. “And though many have been condemned to the mines of ch’Havren… many have not been.”
“Much documentation with your name on it has been forged over the years, Riov t’Vola.” Rendal held up the PaDD. “Is this forged as well?”
“Of course not. And if it were, it would be forged under the orders of the Senate Judiciary Council, as always. To suggest otherwise besmirches my mnhei’sahe…” Enalia was talking, but Rendal was no longer listening, because when she held up the PaDD that last time, she noticed something.
Something very damning.
Rather than the normal ch’Rihan maker’s mark authorized for use by the Imperial Navy, this PaDD had an Artan maker’s mark.
As her eyes went wide, Riov Dalia Rendal knew right then just how deep in feces she had stepped. Time seemed to slow as she dropped the PaDD and reached for her sword, but it was too late. The woman she had been talking to had already signaled her team somehow and two of them had opened fire on her Centurions, dropping several of them before her sword had cleared her scabbard.
By the time she had leveled her sword for the woman’s neck, two more of her Centurions were downed and her sword blade vibrated with a resounding clang. Rather than tearing through the woman’s neck, the blade had struck steel, and Rendal's eyes widened even further.
This was no mere pawn of the Federation. She was now staring at the smirking face of the Queen of the Artan Pirates herself.
Captain Enalia Telvan.
To Be Continued…