Sarika on Deck!
Location: Flight Deck Conference Room
It wasn't every day that Enalia made it out to the flight deck of the USS Hera. It was even rarer for her to welcome aboard someone arriving in a privately registered craft. However, the passengers aboard the PSV Tanvus included one Baroness Sarika third class of the Artan Family Pirates so it was customary for the head of the family to greet one of the leading members of the family.
As the somewhat larger craft settled on the deck gently, cradled by the tractor beams, Enalia and four security officers, along with Baroness Schwein von Alcott stood at the ready. Slowly, the boarding ramp lowered to reveal the short, militarily dressed woman. It was clear that her arms from the elbows down had been replaced with dark metal prosthesis that did nothing to try to blend in and her uniform rested on the locking collars that joined them to her flesh. Her high collar and large cabdriver-style cap did little to hide her red cybernetic eyes or her long silver hair.
As she stepped down from inside her ship, Enalia stepped forward to meet her. "You'll have to surrender any weapons of course. Starfleet protocol." If security were nervous, they didn't show it.
"Protocol, of course." The silver-haired woman reached for the sword at her back and unclipped it, handing it off to one of the security officers. "Princess... As I live and breathe..."
That's when the spotted woman finally broke her cool and grinned like a little girl, pulling the cybernetic woman in for a hug. "It's so good to see you again Sarika. How long's it been? Three years? Four?"
"Eight you silly spotted turnip. Remember how you vanished for four bloomin' years on us? I still can't believe you're back." Sarika held on to that hug for dear life, barely believing she was finally seeing her princess at long last in the flesh. "You ever up and vanish like that on us again..."
Schwein motioned to the security that everything was going to be ok. This was a joyous reunion, after all. "Prinzessin, may I recommend we make our way to ze conference room and summon Lieutenant Dox?"
"Ah, yes. You need to meet our newest Baroness. We'll be using the flight deck conference room since it's nearby." Enalia finally parted from Sarika and motioned towards a nearby exit. "If you'll follow me."
With two of the security officers escorting them and two remaining with the PSV Tanvus, it didn't take long for them to get to the conference room. Once they arrived, Enalia motioned to the minibar that had already been set up. "Please help yourself. Computer, please inform Lieutenant Dox that her presence is needed in the flight deck conference room."
Sarika wiggled her cybernetic fingers at the small array of alcohols and glasses, trying to decide on which one she'd try first. She then picked a pale red bottle and poured a two finger glass, adding a napkin buffer between her fingers and the glass itself to prevent annoying clinking sounds. "I have to admit, this is quite the amazing ship you have. I had heard Starfleet gave you a Nebula-class, which... I wouldn't consider worthy of our Princess... But this... Whatever this ship is... Sarika likes..."
After a brief moment, Mnhei'sahe Dox entered the room. As the Chief Flight Control officer of the Hera, her own office was quite close and she had been, of course, well aware of the coming and going off any craft onto the flight decks of the ship. As such, she had at least some idea of who had arrived.
Regardless, however, her nearly perpetual anxiety was still hard at work tying her stomach in a tight figurative knot as she stepped in, her hands behind her back. "Lieutenant Dox, reporting as ordered, Captain."
Enalia began to introduce Sarika but was interrupted by the silver-haired woman literally glomping the Romulan Lieutenant. "Hi! I'm Baroness Sarika! You're the new girl, right? I've heard a lot about you from Magnus. I know we're going to be great friends!"
Somewhat surprised, Dox was half expecting another super soldier and flinched slightly in anticipation. But instead, it was a simple hug from the only woman on the ship slightly shorter than she was. Dox glanced slightly confused over to the captain before looking back and replied. "Uh... Hello. Um... Yeah, yes. I'm lieutenant... Dox."
The red-headed Romulan pilot corrected herself slightly for the context of this meeting. "And... Baroness 5th class Mnhei'sahe Dox. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Schwein and Enalia both chuckled softly at the interaction between the two. Especially when one of Sarika's hands broke open into a scanning array. "Oooh... You're an interesting one, too... You've had some tampering done with your DNA, haven't you? And your thyroid isn't regressed as much as it should be for having human DNA in you... Fascinating..." She then realized she should be shaking hands rather than waving her hand at people. "Ah, sorry, I get carried away. I'm here to brief you on the tribunal and all that." Closing up her hand, she went and picked her glass back up and downed the liquid inside of it.
"That would be appreciated, yes." Enalia slipped into the chair at the head of the conference table while Schwein chose a seemingly random chair along one side. Dox, a few seats down. Sarika, on the other hand, sat on the table itself.
"It's not going well at all," Sarika declared, staring into her glass.
As Sarika spoke, Dox's expression shifted to address the tone. "What does that mean? And what can we do about it?"
"Well, that Romulan bitch is probably going to side with the queen for sure after the Dre'lax mining fiasco. She lost a ship and crew there to the Syndicate and the Queen went in and got revenge for her." Sarika waved one hand in the air. "Then both of the first class bitches are abstaining just to see who comes out on top."
"Those bitches..." Schwein muttered in sympathy.
"And then you have Flora. No one knows which way that bitch will go." The red-eyed woman stared into her glass for a moment before continuing. "Then there's that bitch Garan. She's so far up the Queen's nethers there's no way to dislodge her. The same with Terethis. The rest of the bitches are yours though, Princess. We have eight out of eleven of the fourteen we need on your side."
Enalia leaned back in her chair and thought it over a moment. That was bad news indeed.
Looking over towards the Captain, Dox's hands were crossed in from of her. "The Romulan. That's Baroness Sienae Nei'rrh? That's the one my Mother and I transported out of Romulus? Her and much of her crew, right?"
The young officer's eyes went narrow as she thought. "What happened? What's the Dre'lax mining fiasco?"
Enalia raised a hand to silence the others so she could answer the question herself. "The Dre'lax mining fiasco... Involved several of our mining colony assets and the Orion Syndicate. They attacked several of our competitor's facilities and our ships moved to defend when asked, which did not go well when the defense platforms turned on everyone. The syndicate routed the installations and made off with almost thirty thousand tons of ore, destroying half a dozen ships in the process. We suspect that my mother sold them the access codes to those defense platforms but without proof..."
Sarika jumped in, adding her flair to the explanation. "Of course she did... We just haven't found the proof yet. We just need a better sneaky sneak or something. A real professional at that sort of thing to show everyone that she did dealings with the Syndicate so we can sway not only the Romulan bitch back to our side, but the other wishy-washy bitches too."
"And then my mother showed up right after they left and knew precisely where part of the Syndicate fleet that hit us happened to be. Hence where the rumor came from." Enalia steepled her fingers in front of herself thoughtfully.
"Convenient timing," Dox commented as she was deep in thought. "She needed the Romulans to side with her, and as soon as you have a possible way to convince them to side with you... as soon as you officially recruited Jaeih Dox's daughter, a scenario falls perfectly in place to make them indebted to your Mother."
Looking back up to the group, Dox continued. "What kind of proof would mean anything? It sounds like most of the Baronesses aren't exactly suffering from any delusions about what kind of a woman she is."
Schwein stepped up to answer that one. "Proof that ze Queen is working with ze Syndicate would be enough. Zat is ze one unbreakable rule. Zat will break our contracts with ze Federation."
Enalia pointed a finger at Schwein to punctuate her point. "And that's how we operate as privateers and get away with preying on other pirates like we do."
"Even though we're pirates at heart, which those bitches have forgotten, siding with the Queen and the Syndicate," Sarika added.
"Pirates at heart..." Dox repeated Sarika's words quietly as she thought. "If she's breaking the one, unbreakable rule, she can't be doing it alone. There have to be other Baronesses that view the contracts with the Federation as a bad thing. Who wants the family to cross that line from Privateers to Pirates. It stands to reason that she might be feeding information to the syndicate through one of those Baronesses so she can claim plausible deniability if proof IS found. Might be a good idea to start looking for syndicate links with the Baronesses that are backing her, rather than her directly. If someone knows something, that someone would potentially be a weaker link that could be leveraged."
"And for that, we would need to be very sneaky, and an outsider." Sarika waved a finger in the air. "Someone that could fold themselves into the suspected bitch's ranks and hack her files. Or someone that was skilled enough to do it remotely. Neither of which we have."
Her face scrunching into a frown, Dox sighed. "My mother. She was sneaky enough to fake her death from the Tal Shiar, and they have a history. She worked with your Mother. True, everything indicates that your Mother knows you want to try and leverage that relationship... my relationship with her to try and sway the Romulan Baroness..."
Dox arched her head back, not believing what she was about to suggest. "But if we can convince her, and Intel command, to make it look like she escaped. Make it look like her and I are at odds... which currently we kind of are... that might be too enticing to pass up. If the Queen thinks she can use my Mother against US, it might be a foot in the door."
Enalia nodded for a moment before replying. "She'll need a ship with a cloak..."
Schwein added to it. "And one zat can not be traced back to us..."
Sarika finished off the thought. "I know a guy..."
The spotted woman grinned at Dox. "Mnhei'sahe, if you'll convince your mother, I'll talk Command into it. The stability of my family is pretty important to them, after all. Especially with our connections and the peacekeeping we do in the underworld."
Looking back at her Captain and friend, Dox's face was straight and stern. "I'll do what I have to, Captain. But we have to be 100 percent clear with Starfleet. Rita's right... we can't compromise with that responsibility or we've already lost. And that's a very slippery slope for both of us. I'll watch your back if you watch mine."
"I'll talk to her. I'll get her to do it. I have something she wants." Dox's face went cold as she thought if her mother. But she would go there for Enalia just as she knew Enalia would do the same for her.
"Thank you. Let's make sure we do this the Starfleet way, as well. If possible. If not... Then we'll have to find another way." Enalia hoped they hadn't crossed a line already. She'd back Dox up in whatever way she needed though. "Is there anything else? Any other bad news? Any good news?"
Sarika shrugged. "No, that's about it. Magnus's daughter is betrothed to someone we like so that's good news, but not too pressing. Mining stocks are up on magnesite, dilithium, and duranium. Selenium and most rare ores are down though. It's just that time of the season."
But as Sarika talked, Dox was lost in thought, pondering just what she'd have to do to convince her mother to help them. And she tried to figure out a way to do that without betraying her oath to Starfleet. But that would be a different talk with the Captain for another time. Instead, she forced herself to sit back up and be there in the moment.
"So, if there's nothing else, I should get going. The crew I brought are excited to see the station and I told them we could take a few laps before we head back to the rest. Apparently, there's some vendor that sells wormhole trinkets one of them wants."
Enalia was lost in thought as well as Sarika got up and headed towards the door, stopping long enough to give Enalia a hug on the way. "Don't be a stranger, Princess. And no more vanishing acts, ok?"
Enalia nodded and smiled, easily agreeing to that concession. "I'll do my best. Lieutenant, do you mind escorting Sarika back to her ship and make sure she gets her sword back ok? I'm going to draft up our plans and start working them from my end. Including running them by Rita."
"Aye, Captain." Dox rose and straightened her uniform top and gestured towards the door back to the flight deck. "If you'll follow me, we will collect your sword first, Baroness."
The silver-haired woman bounced over to Dox and latched onto her arm like a girl on her boyfriend's arm. "Ready when you are!"
As the two stepped back to the fight deck towards the security sub-station to collect Sarika's sword, Dox was awkwardly quiet for a moment, regardless of the energetic Baroness. "Baroness... I need to talk to you for a moment. It's about the Captain."
"She seems different... Is that it?" Sarika asked quietly, having expected something like this.
Pausing for a moment, Dox thought about it and continued. "There's details I can't go into, and I can't explain why. And I know we just met, but I have to ask that you trust why I can't..." Dox wanted to be sure she didn't betray any information that would threaten the future or Enalia's future Grandchild, Kodria, but instead spoke in broad strokes.
Sarika just shrugged it off. "This is an Intel ship. I'm sure there are a lot of things you can't go into."
"This tribunal. It's a crossroad for Enalia. The both of us... Not too long ago we were... Effected by a force that brought out or more base desires. And with just a little bit of psychic influence, we both crossed lines. Enalia can't cross that line again. If she does, we stand to risk losing her in a way far worse then if she was simply killed."
Dox looked seriously at the silver-haired woman. "I'll do what I have to do. I'm not worried about me. But her... and what's to come... We have to keep her on this side of the line, no matter what. We can't lose her and I'll need all the help I can get to make sure she doesn't do something she won't be able to take back "
The short cybernetic Baroness pulled Dox aside for a moment to talk more seriously than she'd spoken her entire time aboard the Hera so far. "Hey. You and the Princess stay on that side of the line. That's where you walk. Myself and a few others... Let us handle the messy stuff, ok? You need anything that might not be 'fleet approved you let me know. We will handle it. If you need us to keep an eye on your mother... We can do that too. Trust me when I say that losing the Princess in any way is not an acceptable outcome and if you have any hint that there's a chance of that happening, as a fellow Baroness, I trust you completely to help guide us down the right path. I know the rest of the Baronesses behind the Princess feel the same way. Okay?"
Smiling again slightly, Dox nodded. "Thank you, Baroness. I appreciate it. I believe we can do this and I'm glad the Captain has friends in all of this."
"Anytime. As soon as you two come up with a plan, let me know and my guy will move in and snatch your mother up like a gull after your fries." Sarika was back to her usual cheerful self now and heading back towards where she could get her sword. "Now where's my blade?"
Taking the cue, Dox walked briskly to the security station and addressed the officer on duty. "The Baroness will be departing shortly. If you would, please, she will be needing her effects. Thank you."
After a moment, the imposing security officer returned from the back with the Baronesses' sword to hand to Dox and the two walked over to her ship. "I wish I didn't have to meet everyone under these circumstances, but it's been a pleasure regardless. Thank you."
Handing the sword back to its owner, Dox smiled.
Sarika clipped her sword onto her back and smiled happily. "It's been a pleasure meeting you as well. I hope to see you again soon." Without another word, the cybernetically enhanced woman turned and entered her ship, the boarding ramp closing up behind her.
Stepping clear, Dox called over to the station to the side of the hangar. "Dock master, ensure our guest a smooth egress, thank you."
As the craft lifted off to depart, Dox stood silently watching it. She thought on what was said and what it would mean for her. She no longer had the luxury of time. She would have to talk to her mother again and she wasn't looking forward to what she would have to say or do to convince the elder Romulan to help.
But she knew that she would do whatever it took. Saving Enalia Telvan from herself was the young officers priority and her own concerns would be secondary until this was over. Regardless of what it might cost her.