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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 114
# 7 Agency
04-17-2013, 08:59 PM
Kaol Othan

I was actually in the Tal Shiar, you know? Back in the old days. Not for any grand reasons of strategy - I was part of that generation that was just of age when they saw Shinzon slay the Senate and throw himself cheerfully onto the spears of the Federation, and what that taught me was that the military was for fools and children, and that their generals and commanders were nothing but particularly charismatic fools and children. So I resolved that my service to the Empire would be through cleverer means. When I had finished my medical training, I volunteered for the Tal Shiar's Medical Service, and after passing a few exams that tested my cleverness and loyalty to the state, I became a doctor for the Tal Shiar.

What's that, you say, the Tal Shiar had doctors? Of course they did - what officer would trust himself to a ham-handed military surgeon, or worse some too-clever civilian? Competition in those days was fierce, oh yes, but mostly for the prime posts in Intelligence. If you wanted a 'lesser' job and pressed for it hard, you could get what you wanted with only a few enemies to walk over on the way. I remember I was so excited when I received my first assignment - assistant physician to the new prison they were building in the Rator system. It was exactly the easy job I had always dreamed of - tending the minor wounds and ailments of prison guards, assisting in the interrogation of worthless political scum, and perhaps wooing some lovely sub-lieutenant to bear me some fat children.

That must make me sound so old to your young ears. Oh yes, my friend, there once was a time when Romulan children were fat and happy, when we reclined in the sun like so many well-fed serpents, digesting an empire of mice without ever noticing the farmer's boot about to come down on our necks.

I never made it to Rator. Our ship was diverted by Hobus, first to a rendezvous of Tal Shiar ships in deep space (that was the first time I saw the Empress - fascinating woman, but proof of the dangers of interbreeding if you ask me), then back to the Homeworlds for the last mad dash of evacuation. I remember the captain of our transport ship, an old field agent, an interrogator who had lost an arm fighting the Dominion, a lean-faced, poison-eyed man whose chief entertainment was telling hilarious stories of what Klingons could be made to do under mind-torture - I remember the way he wept openly when the ship was full to capacity on each evacuation run and we had to fly away and turn off the comms that pled with us for rescue, the way hard-faced Tal Shiar agents gave up first their comforts, then their quarters, then sometimes even their place aboard ship to save another civilian.

We were one of the last ships in the system. I remember I was holding a baby, not more than a few weeks old, whose mother had pressed him into my arms when we were evacuating Intelligence Headquarters, and when I heard the cry over the intercom - it was the captain, the hard-faced old monster, crying in grief and terror! I looked up from the place I'd found in sickbay and saw our planets break in half on the monitor...I am not ashamed to say that I wept then, too. I actually saw a ship that may have been the so-famous Narada, but it looked nothing like the abomination of Borg technology that made all the comms - we were warping away too fast to tell.

Afterwards, we put the bodies of the suicides in the cargo bay and vented it to the Elements. There was no time for anything else. There were so many of them - by honor blade, by poison, by strangling. By exposure to hard vacumn. By an officer's disruptor against the temple. I could not blame them. I know they were by no means the only ones. Suicide was our most common cause of death for some time...I lost track of the infant some weeks after we arrived at Rator, what had been a prison now our greatest stronghold. I am sure he grew well, I left him with a creche raising the orphaned sons and daughters of agents lost when Romulus fell. He would be now just a few years younger than I was the day I first stepped aboard that transport craft. I think of that, sometimes.

Why do I wear no mourning colors? I did once, when I was younger, as so many of us did, but they have since become political. We are all in our own way in the shadow of Nero. Wearing the colors came to mean more than just mourning - they came to mean rebellion, strife, a war against the Federation for Spock's betrayal and a war against the Klingons for standing between us. For a galaxy that we sought to set aflame in cold revenge for planets lost to fire and ash. I could not let the memories of those lost be tainted by the actions of one man, so I had them removed and carry the marks in here, over my heart. All of us who were there on that day will carry those until the Elements claim us and we are dead.

Death. Yes, let us speak of death, and life that arose from it. I learned many things in those years on Rator - how to build field hospitals with no supplies, how to treat plagues once extinct in our space, how to tell parents that their children were dying of malnutrition because there were no supplies to spare for Remans. They say that Remans don't have emotions the way we sons and daughters of S'task do, but I saw the grief on their faces as those small bodies were lowered into the charnel pits. I had trained to be a healer at the pinnacle of our civilization. Now I was watching as that mighty edifice slipped through my fingers like so much ash.

And what did our former allies do while all this was happening? Nothing. Or worse than nothing, in any event. Oh, the Federation came with their aid and their promises of friendship. But what Romulan would take the aid of the Federation in those years when people cursed the name Spock and all of Vulcan? Only the desperate, who it was too easy to brand as traitors to the Empire for choosing a full belly over a flag. And so we fought amongst ourselves, not to _take_ Federation aid, but to make sure others could not have it. But we judged Spock too harshly. Romulans should know better than anyone how easily one man can be defeated by the inertia of five billion.

And the Klingons. Feh. You know, we are close enough to the border that we occasionally get Federation comms, and you should hear the things they have to say about J'mpok. Now, I can understand that - the man is a blustering bully who had helped embroil the quadrant in war, but you expect that. The man is a Klingon. But the man he replaced, Martok? Martok was worse than a Klingon. Martok was a traitor. Did you read his speech in your primary schools? "No hand that does not hold a blade," indeed. Why, because Nero destroyed Klingon ships? Because a man maddened by vengeance destroyed his enemies and gave Klingon warriors honorable deaths? Feh. There is much to dislike about the Federation, oh yes, but they are what they appear to be. Klingons have no honor.

But enough of galactic politics - you were asking about me. There was no one thing that made me finally leave Rator, really. Too many bodies, too much death, too many fat officers watching as men starved in the back alleys, too many grim reports of exploitation and horror from the colony worlds. The day after I sat in on a physician's panel that debated whether or not to secretly sterilize the lower 50% of the Reman genetic bracket to ensure there would be no further competition for resources, I took a medical kit, boarded a freighter, and left. I traveled afterwards, moving from world to world, sometimes as a healer, sometimes as just another laborer, going as far as from Rator as I could.

It was easy enough to leave. Our struggles with the Undine had been less...vigorous than those of our former allies against the Dominion, but our already-disordered state had made the authority of the Empire particularly weak in those critical years. Do I think the Empress was secretly taking orders from the Undine? Oh, no, she may have allowed alien trash from the Delta Quadrant to hunt in our space, but even Sela with her mixed blood would draw the line at an alliance with the three-legged fiends from fluidic space. No, the truth is, much as Romulans may hate to admit it, is that we had nothing, and no one, worth stealing. Why go to the trouble to replace some high-ranking officer in the military or the Tal Shiar when doing the same on Qo'nos or Earth could gain you so many more men, so many more ships, and so much more power?

Oh, we had our conflicts - I still remember that Tethys monster that appeared in the skies over Rator and scorched the eastern continent, it must have been, what, eleven, twelve years ago now? What a panic that was. That was the last time I was aboard a military vessel, deep in the sickbay of a wretched old T'Liss, trying to hold the crew together even as that terrible yellow plasma scorched their flesh. If that maniac in that D'deridex hadn't simply rammed his burning starship into that thing's guts, perhaps we wouldn't have an empire to fight over even now. Oh yes, it was a great victory, and I am grateful for the sacrifice of the Tomalak, but you know such things have consequences. When heroes die, and vipers live in comfort in their burrows, what does that mean for our people?

No, I think you've been listening too much to the stories told by your elders. The Reunificationists are hardly vipers - they are not nearly so interesting as a serpent. The older generation, the men of my father's and grandfather's day, they saw the whispered promise of Vulcan as something to fear, something to suppress and drive into the shadows. But what did that do but make it something forbidden, something secret, something to learn about in hidden caverns or back rooms. I think that if Neral and his predecessors had been wise enough to simply let Spock speak freely on the Homeworlds the day he first arrived on Romulus, that movement would have died aborning. But we Romulans do love our secrets, don't we?

When I was younger, I might have favored reunification on our terms, a liberation of the Vulcan soul from millennia of logic to a more...enlightened perspective. But those are dreams of a long-gone empire, and we must discard them. For today, if they seek to be Vulcan, why, let them emigrate there! And if that world should reject them, as it has rejected so many Romulan entreaties over the years, perhaps that would be a fine lesson to them about the true nature of the cold, unfeeling logic they so covet. By all means, let the would-be Vulcans bring the Remans with them - give them the equality they so crave, but do so as far from us as they can. With no Remans in the Empire, Romulans can learn the value of honest labor and Remans can learn that freedom is not so easy a thing as they imagine it is.

But again I have let myself fall into politics - how foolish when we are so far from the Empire's heartland! Indeed, this world is at the very edges of our space. Despite my desertion, I had thought I had escaped the Tal Shiar's attention entirely until you came to my door. Oh, don't look so shocked - I may not have been a field agent but I know that lean and hungry look all too well. Are you beginning to feel cold despite the heat of yon fire? Yes, you should not trust ale given freely this far from the military's worlds - the only reason I would share it with a stranger here is to hide the taste of the paralytic. Don't look so frightened, either, in those widening eyes of yours. I am a healer. When I have killed, it has been in battle, not a guest under my roof.

I will instead let you rest in that chair by the fire and think while I begin packing my bags for the trip offworld. I could have killed you easily here, so easily, or turned you over to your masters and let them punish you obscenely for being too obvious in how you came to an old healer in the woods. But how many of our people have died already for Sela, or Donatra, or Shinzon, or Rehak- how many more will die until the killing stops? We have been jackals too long, I think. It is time for us to become raptors again...

Last edited by cosmonaut12345; 04-21-2013 at 07:31 PM.