[Ch'Rihan, Ihhliae, Relek Estate]
Dark plumes of smoke poured out of the old style mansion as an army of the estate's servants were lined up by the Gai'Shian. In the middle of the fray a disheveled Romulan woman held tightly an infant boy pressed against her soot caked face. Dirty tears ran down her cheeks onto the child as several soldiers surrounded her. They hurled curses and kicked at her while the servants watched helpless to intervene.
"Please! Please not the child!" She wailed at the soldiers who seemed disinterested in her pleas.
"Silence!" One Gai'Shian angrily yelled at her and sent his boot into her ribs "you know what happens to traitors! Stop whining!"
Above them the deafening roar of a descending flitter silenced them as they looked up incensed that the craft was interrupting their play. As it landed the tallest of them approached the flitter and slammed his palm into the opening door "what the hell are you doing! No one is authorized to be here!"
"No one?" Shiarrael eyed the tall Gai'Shian from her seat inside as several naval security officers from the Hhveir Ri'hwathech exited the flitter and shoved the overzealous Gai'Shian back in line with the others. The troupe of Romulan marines reached for their weapons but wisely thought better of it as Shiarrael exited the craft and took a moment to survey the scene. "Disgusting" she whispered into the wind and slowly approached the woman holding the child "Ihhae tr'Relek?" She asked.
The wad of spit that hit her shoe gave her the only answer she needed "I will take the child." Shiarrael said and held out her hands which caused the woman to study her nervously. Shiarrael kneeled and whispered into her ear and Ihhae's eyes widened. With a brief nod she lifted the child and set him into Shiarrael's arms. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she turned away and buried her eyes into her palms. Standing back up Shiarrael turned and handed the infant to one of the naval officers with her.
"What are you doing?" A brazen Gai'Shian soldier stepped forward "we cannot permit this. We have absolute orders from the Galae'EnRiov that the entire Relek house is to be executed for treason." He lifted his weapon "return the child now."
"And you will kill this child?" She gestured to the crying babe in the arms of the Hhveir Ri'hwathech's security officer "can the Gai'Shian easily butcher an infant like a savage klivam?"
"We have our orders! Now return him!"
"Orders." With her finger Shiarrael traced the cold metal of her silver EnRiov pip in the shape of a wingspread mogai "and if I ordered you to kill your entire family will you do it as easily as you would slaughter this child?" She stared at him, her expression nonchalant "should I?"
"Should you what?" He asked, his voice now quavering with apprehension.
"I will return this child to you." She said and glanced momentarily at the crying infant "but you will then have to slaughter your entire house." Shiarrael took a slow step forward "every man woman and child. Does this meet with your approval? I will order it if it does."
The Gai'Shian took a step back and lowered his weapon without saying a word- his horrified expression speaking for him. Shiarrael simply turned away and headed back to her flitter followed by the naval security officers. As the door closed she could be heard uttering the Rihannsu word "paeros."
[5 Hours Later - Valley of Chula, Romulus]
Flickers of thunder in the distance highlighted the thousands of tall rocky spires that jutted into the night sky. Alone now Shiarrael manually piloted the flitter at a higher altitude then she would normally as they skirted between the rock towers of the ancient valley. Every now and then the flitter would be jostled by a heavy headwind emanating from the approaching storm front. At every shake Shiarrael would glance next to her at the Relek infant who remained asleep in a child-seat blissfully unaware that both his parents were now dead.
The chirp of the pilot console informed her that they were now near their destination: the Romulan village of Satyana. Shiarrael slowly started to bring the flitter into a descent towards the massive pillar of ancient stone that was dotted by lights from thousands of structures which spiraled around it's frame towards the ancient fort at its wide peak. Carefully she set the craft down on the manicured lawn of a modest two story home halfway up the spiral. She could see lights in the building illuminate as she opened the doors of the flitter while carefully picking up the sleeping infant.
At the main entrance the door burst open and a dark silhouette called out from in front of the wall of light that emanated from the home's interior "who calls on us this late?"
"t'Rehu" Shiarrael replied as she started making her way up the steps towards the door.
"Rehu?" The silhouette retreated for a moment but was soon replaced by a figure more recognizable to Shiarrael as the door opened and a tall lanky Romulan woman wearing sleeping robes stepped out into the humid night. She smiled but that expression was quickly replaced by confusion as she noticed the bundled infant in the EnRiov's arm "Shiarrael it has been a long time- what do I owe the honor?"
"I'm sorry to barge in on you my old friend." Shiarrael smiled but the expression was a painful one born from the exhaustion of the last few days "I have come to ask you for a favor Mira..."
The woman nodded and placed an arm behind Shiarrael helping to brace the EnRiov as she walked up the final step. "Come inside, please." She pulled opened the door with her free hand and led Shiarrael in. Inside the greeting hall one of the servants was standing nearby and Mira sent her off to fetch a hot kettle of herb-draft "let's go to my sitting room. I've been keeping up with the recent news reports from the Capital. Is it as bad as they say?"
"It depends on what they are saying." Shiarrael said while shaking her head as she followed her old healer from the time she was commander of the Ishhae-Thrai "I haven't had a chance to watch the news but things have not been well."
"They say the death toll is now almost twenty thousand." Mira also shook her head in apparent disbelief as they entered the sitting room. She gestured to a large couch which Shiarrael took and then sat across from her in one of the loungers "I also heard about your recent appointment and wonder if I should congratulate you or pray to the elements." Her eyes then focused on the infant as Shiarrael set him down while gently running a hand across the thin patch of raven hair on his head "and who is that?"
"He is an o-" She paused as the servant entered and set the kettle of herb-draft down on the table in front of them along with two ceramic tea glasses before dismissing herself. The spicy-sweet aroma of the drink filled the room as Mira filled both glasses with the steaming liquid. "He is an orphan of the recent events." Shiarrael finished saying before picking up her glass and taking a small sip of the drink. It's warmth seemed to wash over her as she swallowed bringing her a sense of comfort "I do not how to word this Mira so I will simply say it. This child is now an orphan- he needs a home. That is why I have brought him here. I know of no one else who I would rather have rear this child."
"That is no simple request Shiarrael." Mira frowned and studied the bundle next to the EnRiov. Standing up she motioned at the infant and then gently picked him up after receiving an approving nod from Shiarrael. Returning to her chair she set the sleeping infant across her lap "there was a time when I dreamt of being a mother. Long ago when Delon was still alive I promised him a heap of children. He loved children. Do you still remember when we went to Tarva Colony? He caused a riot of toddlers when he started handing out sweet cakes to them." A chuckle escaped her lips as she smiled from the nostalgia and studied the infant in her lap "I don't know Shiarrael... ever since he passed I have often wondered if it was the elements message to me that I'm not meant for family."
"This infant comes from hot blood. Blood that has scorched his family. He need someone who can teach him compassion, patience, and give him love." Shiarrael looked at Mira and smiled "I do remember how much Delon doted on you. He wouldn't want you to be alone. There is no one else I can trust this infant to. Please, help him."
Mira slowly nodded her head "what is his name?"
Thrice written, thrice burned. The words of the Senate echoed in Shiarrael's mind as she watched them. "He has none." She answered.
"No, name?" Mira looked at Shiarrael and then nodded her head knowing that this was not a question she should ask. "Very well. I will call him Aev." She lifted the infant into the air "Aev i-Satyana tr'Dhiraj..."
[Rehu Estate, Nn'Verih, Romulus]
A rainstorm was in full force by the time Shiarrael reached her home. She had let the autopilot take over long ago as the rain pelted against the flitter's windows with a rhythmic tapping sound that had lulled her into a light sleep only to be awakened by the jostle and beeping of her arrival. As the doors parted several servants rushed out to her with umbrellas and did their best to shield her from the driving rain. Exiting the flitter she followed in pace with her escorts to the pillars in front of her home's entrance only to find an entourage of Gai'Shian and Galae officers waiting for her.
"Shiarrael." tr'Thrai stood in front of the group wearing his water soaked fleet issued trench coat "you took the Relek infant?" It wasn't so much a question but an acknowledgement of what she had done. "We knew this would happen since the beginning- why prod the embers and draw the Senate's ire?"
"Mnhei'sahe demanded it." She answered. Rain was now beginning to soak into her uniform breeches and could feel the sogginess begging to set into her socks. "It was the right of S'Rehu to take the child."
tr'Thrai nodded his head and then walked past her followed by his entourage disappearing into the driving rain. A minute later the bright beams of a flitter's headlights could be seen lofting towards the clouds before finally disappearing into the wet night.
Shiarrael took the umbrella from one her servants "I need to be alone." She said and walked back into the rain. They shouted after her but she ignored their please to come inside. Instead she walked around the cobblestone pathway that led towards the back of the house and to her grandfather's old garden. There she took shelter beneath the old bower- above her the rain pelted at the wooden structure as droplets came in through cracks in the ceiling. Shiarrael smiled faintly as she recalled taking shelter there with her grandfather many years ago from the beating heat of Eisn as he tended the gardens. As the memory began to fade she sighed and looked up into the dark emptiness. Every now and then a momentary flash of lightning would illuminate the garden flowers as the leaves danced to the rain's fury. Shiarrael let the display soothe her as she thought about what she had done.
2 Weeks Ago...
The holographic image was fuzzy and subject to fits of intermittent disruption but Shiarrael did her best to convey what she needed. Standing in front of her was erie'Riov Ihijae tr'Lahan "we did receive the data burst from Romulus- it calls for an attack on the homeworld." He looked nervous as his image fizzled in and out. Outside of her window clouds of energized magenta floated past. For the last few weeks her small task group had used the nebula as cover for its small attacks on the commonwealth and triad vessels within the Draken system "what do you need me to do Khre'Riov?"
"Make sure Gul Duran receives the message but do not make it easily available to him. He needs to trust it enough so that he will come prey upon Romulus." The words left Shiarrael's mouth like burning acid "all final preparations are being made. This is the last one- can you do it?"
"It shouldn't be difficult. With the information we have received about the your attacks and the success we have had in repelling them he already trusts the source. In fact they have researched it thoroughly and believe that Taev tr'Relek is the source of their information. He wan-" the audio cut to static for a moment before returning "yet I wonder if is this right Khre'Riov?"
"We are on the brink of a civil war that will only end after great bloodshed. The Empire is divided and the Zorek are amassing their allies within the navy to strike at the Empress who they see as weak. If that happens it will throw us into a cycle of bloodletting that will not stop for years and weaken us incredibly. No, we have to unite our people. This is the only way- a common enemy. I trust you Ihijae."
"Ie Rekkhai. I will make sure Gul Duran is sufficiently convinced to attack Romulus..."
As the rain continued fall around her Shiarrael had to agree with tr'Relek's last words. She was a monster- a butcher of her people.
Captain Shiarrael t'Rehu