Return to Rule
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: Utopia Planitia
As Enalia stood looking over the Utopia Planitia Shipyards in her finest white Artan livery, Baroness Sarika at her side, she could see the latest and greatest Artan vessel added to the fleet slicing through space on its way to receive her. Outwardly, it was definitely a Centaur class frame that had been decommissioned by the Federation and purchased by the Artan Empire, but the engines, as they were missing, had been replaced with Klingon Vor’cha class nine warp nacelles. It was also rather obvious that the tactical and sensor platforms had been replaced with what was available to the budding empire as Starfleet hardware was generally stripped out when such space frames were no longer in use.
“She looks a lot better than I expected,” Sarika commented idly as the white saucer easily maneuvered through the docking and fabrication structures orbiting Mars. “The yellow and blue accents might be a bit much, but at least they painted those nacelles to match.”
“I’m more worried about Elysius,” Enalia muttered, adjusting her uniform top and her cloak. She’d been dreading this moment for a while now, but now that it was here she wasn’t sure if it was facing her chosen successor in person or the whole ceremony that made her more nervous.
“And I’m going to miss the Hera. She’s been my home for quite a while now, you know.” With a glance to the other side of the observation deck, she could see the grand Intel series Nebula class vessel, now shut down for yet another refit.
As Sarika replied, the Artan vessel pulled up alongside them and began docking procedures, the name banner now visible from the window - Valhalla AES-1. “She was a mighty vessel and one to aspire to. You’ll just have to build up the Empire to a point we’ve got the power to build such ships to send out to help people and the like as well, won’t you?”
“Aye, that I will. That I will.” As the airlocks cycled and the doors opened, the two pirates stood tall as Elysius and her own adjunct stepped forward and offered a crisp salute to the former queen retaking her throne.
Enalia and Sarika returned the salute before Sarika offered up a datapad. “Her Royal Highness has completed her service to the mighty Federation and requests to return to service as Queen of the Artan Empire to further the glory of the Empire and those that serve.”
Standing next to Elysius, her Adjunct was a tall, broad shouldered woman with short cropped, raven-black hair. A stern expression was on her face, which was marked by a few short, faint scars around the mouth that made it look like she had tried making out with a Tarcassian razor beast.
The woman stepped forward, addressing not Enalia, but Sarika as was custom. “The standing Queen of the Artan Empire welcomes you. I stand, arms revealed, as Baroness of Elysius. Daughter of Magnus. Ruler of the fleet. She stands ready to receive you.”
It was a bit of pomp, circumstance and meaningless theater that neither Enalia nor Elysius seemed to care for as the somewhat short, lean but tightly muscled woman stepped forward, placing her hand on her much taller adjunct’s arm. Her long, black hair was pulled up into an ornate bun that seemed cumbersome and annoyingly detailed, but showed off her delicate, thin bands of spots along the sides of her delicately angled face. “We have fulfilled the basics of the ceremony, Baroness Sh’Ronna. Thank you.”
Looking at her friend and mentor, the younger woman nodded approvingly. “It is well to see you again, and in Artan white. It suits you well, and the Empire will be better for your return, Enalia Telvan.”
Taking a knee, she bowed her head and pulled the sword off of her hip, presenting it handle first to Enalia. “On this, the 39th day of Ascension, I hand to you, the symbol of your given rank. That which was earned in Tribunal and Combat. I stand down from the position of acting Queen, and deliver myself to your just rule.”
Taking the sword, Enalia first affixed it to her own ceremonial belt next to her own personal sword before pulling it free. “I thank thee and hereby claim my right as Queen back from you, Elysius, Daughter of Magnus, and hereby grant you title of Vice Queen to act in my stead should the worst befall me and to act as my successor.”
As she spoke these words, Enalia gently laid the tip of the drawn sword on each of Elysius’s shoulders just for a moment before returning it to its sheath. “Now... Is that all the official ceremony we need to observe? Or can we go aboard now?”
Sarika cleared her throat as she pulled out another datapad. “We’re supposed to take on a few supplies and I think there’s something about a ceremony on the ship before we depart.”
Listening, Elysius rolled her eyes ever so slightly at the mention of the ceremony. She, like Enalia, was well trained in all the traditions, but had as much patience for it one would expect. “The ceremony is at the queen’s discretion. We can do so now or at the moment of her choosing.”
“Perks of being queen, after all.” the younger Trill woman said with a smile that showed just how pleased she was to have the burden of rule off of her shoulders. “What says our queen?”
Enalia had learned long ago that ceremonies were originally meant not for the leadership but for the people. When it became about leadership, it was time to cut back and get rid of it. This though, was designed to put on a show for the crew and people present and to not only entertain, but to inspire them.
Shaking her head, Enalia took a deep breath. “No, we’ll do it when the crew are ready. After all, this is for them not for us. It may be an interruption to their day, but it’ll give them something to talk about and with luck it’ll entertain or inspire them.”
“Well then…” Elysius said as she stepped aside and waved her arm past them all. “The Empire and the ship are yours, my Queen. Would you like a tour?”
“Since we have some time to resupply, we might as well,” the buxom queen replied, nodding her consent and stepping forward. “Shall we start in engineering? I’m looking forward to seeing how Federation, Artan and Klingon technology was mated together.”
“As you will.” Elysius said with a smile, still maintaining a bit of a more professional air as she nodded, then turned to her Adjunct. “Baroness Sh’Ronna, if you would, please go ahead and ensure all is in readiness.”
“Aye, Vice Queen.” The well trained, loyal woman said with a sharp bow as she suspected that what Elysius was truly asking for was the travel time to engineering alone with the returning queen. As she answered, she raised an eyebrow and looked at Sarika tellingly.
Her brows also raising, Sarika also got the hint. “I will accompany her. If you’ll excuse me.” With a bow, the short cyber-Baroness headed off with the much larger Sh’Ronna.
The two of them now alone, Enalia stretched a bit and relaxed slightly, her usual lopsided grin gracing her features at last. “She looks like a fine ship. It also looks like you’ve been doing pretty well.”
Making their way slowly down the corridor with large windows on their right, Elysius nodded and dropped the pretense and more professional tone for her friend. “Thank you. I have… done my best to lead in your stead, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am extremely glad you’ve returned, Enalia. The people need your guiding hand.”
“It has been all my father and I could do to keep things moving along the path you set for us.” She said, looking out the large windows as they walked. “Is… that why you decided to return?”
The elder Trill woman eyed her companion slyly for a moment before replying, hearing the same doubt she’d faced herself many times before. “No, you’ve far exceeded my expectations. It’s more that recent experiences have... shifted my perspective? An accident sent me visiting several of my counterparts in alternative dimensions and it has given me a different insight into a few things. None of the plans have changed, but...”
With a soft smile, she looked over at her younger counterpart. “It gave me the feeling that I wasn’t doing all that I could to help people in Starfleet and that I could do a lot more here, with you and everyone else, now that my mother is out of the way.”
“But… you wanted to take that path in Starfleet for… as long as we’ve known each other.” Elysius. “If I may ask… just… what happened?”
Enalia nodded solemnly as they walked. “I met myself frozen on a world I failed to save, my mother in my body after I lost the tribunal, myself as a conqueror when the Federation lost the Dominion war, as a humanitarian that leveraged the Artans across the quadrant as a scientific and social services society, one where I made nothing of my time in Starfleet...”
And I realized that at the end of the day that I was making Starfleet a better organization but I was really trying to make the Artans a better empire. To make a republic that we can be proud of and that can stand side by side as equals with the Federation.” Enalia paused a moment as she thought back to the memories of those dimensional hops, particularly of the mirror universe version of herself and of the Romulan prison. “I left you a plan, but that was unfair. I should be willing to walk that path myself and be the architect of that future with you.”
“And maybe I’ll be doing it for a few more selfish reasons like happiness,” Enalia added with a slight smirk. “And shutting down a Romulan prison.”
“A Romulan prison?” Elysius repeated quizzacly as they arrived at a turbolife. Like most Starfleet ships, the interiors weren’t all that different from those from the Hera, which hopefully would make the transition a little easier. “These experiences you’re describing? Were these some kind of… interdimensional excursions? And what do you mean about a Romulan prison? Our treaty with the Star Empire is… a bit more relaxed than the one they have with the Federation. We can travel in their space, after all, but what are you planning?”
“Yeah, an accident sent several of us through visits to our counterparts in alternate realities. I know it’s not easy to wrap your head around. I still find it hard to believe,” Enalia confirmed as she leaned against the turbolift wall. “One of them was to a Romulan prison where I was being held after a failed rescue attempt of one of my officers. The warden found a way to separate symbiont and host and keep the host alive... but killed the symbiont... I aim to prevent such an occurrence in this reality. Using secret diplomacy if possible. Accidental force if necessary.”
“Secret diplomacy?” Elysius asked as the lift began down toward the engineering section at half-speed to pull out the time a bit.
“Using our contacts in the Romulan Empire,” Enalia clarified.
“Ahh, indeed.” the younger woman replied, having been fully briefed on Enalia’s rescue mission from Romulus. “Your communications clarified a bit on that subject, including former Baroness Dox’s new assignment. Of course, you will have my full support in any such endeavors.”
As the lift arrived at their destination, Elysius called up to the computer, “Hold.”
Taking a moment, the younger woman looked at the regal woman standing next to her. “Enalia, I will never lie to you. I am… very glad you have come home. I have and will always strive to live up to your ideals. To lead where you need me to. But… we need you, now more than ever. To keep the empire from slowly sliding back to what your mother tried to make us. And more specifically, I need you. I could never have replaced you, only succeeded you. And now, I can simply serve you again.”
Resting one hand on the younger woman’s shoulder, Enalia smiled softly. “And that was the biggest thing that I saw. I was born to lead in a role like this and have a skillset that isn’t easily trained. I have a vision of the future that isn’t easy to pass on. I know how to get us to where we need to be.”
“From a collection of miners, pirates, and privateers under the flag of an empire to an actual quadrant spanning republic.” Here and now, Enalia was at her most inspiring and confident. She knew right where she needed to be and what she was doing. “Bringing worlds abandoned by other powers under our banner and offering them protection, trade, medical care... without exploiting them.”
“Tall orders, to be sure. And there will be dissenting voices. LOUD ones. I know, I’ve been hearing them for a little while now.” Elysius said with a slight smile, no longer feeling all of the burden anymore. “That said, you have more allies willing to uphold your vision than before, and your return will bring even more baronesses to your side. And, as always, my father and I will always stand beside you.”
“That said, thank you.” She continued, nodding slightly. “Now, if you would like, I would love to show you the engineering section. After all, it’s the heart of your new home.”
“I look forward to it,” Enalia replied as she pulled out a small PaDD and checked the time and a progress meter. She smiled and looked back up at Elysius. “Turbolift resume.” Soon Maru will have a copy of herself on the Valhalla, Maica’s matrix hardware would be in her new quarters, and Aiva One with little Moira would be safely aboard as well.
“After all, there’s no place like home, right?”