The parade route that carved its way from the outskirts of Ra'tleihfi all the way to the center of I'Ramnau was lined by millions of Romulans as columns of soldiers, armored flitters, and tanks made their way down the ancient but well-kept cobblestone. The people all cheered and chanted while the thousands of banners bearing the great bird symbolizing the empire along the route fluttered restlessly in the breeze. It was a good day for the military parade preceding the beginning of war operations with the sun bright and high with a refreshing breeze to keep it's beating heat at bay.
Shiarrael sat in her armored flitter as dozens of soldiers marched along side with disruptor rifles draped over their shoulders. She wasn't one for spectacles but the Praetor had been insistent on the exhibition of force to capitalize on the patriotic fervor that was quickly spreading across the Empire. As the flitter neared the steps of the ancient senate complex that crowned the parade route it slowed and stopped. The doors raised and the soldiers saluted as she made her way out to the deafening roar of the crowd. Once out she tossed a momentary glance at the marbled steps where rows of Senators dressed in their best robes and patriotic jewelry lined in anticipation of the moment. Resisting the urge to snort at the ostentatious display she turned her attention to the crowd wearing a vibrant smile and dipped her head respectfully before making her way to the stage that had been set up in front of the Senators. About halfway up the ramp a young erie'Arrain met her and ushered her behind the podium.
Looking out over the large square Shiarrael reached up and gripped either side of the speaking stand. As the parade ground to a halt several of members of her fleet command team were exiting flitters and making their way to her side. All of them wore the violet sash over their dress uniforms that Shiarrael had chosen to symbolize the fleet with the golden sigil of a vicious thrai's open maw pinned to its heart. Once all of them had carefully positioned themselves on either side of her the crowd instinctively began to silence themselves leaving only the gentle rapping of breeze tossed ropes against the army of banner poles. Shiarrael looked out over the crowd and then focused her attention on the giant wave of soldiers that stretched on in organized columns far beyond her eyesight and deep into the distant horizon.
"Never in my life have I been so moved as I am this moment looking out upon such greatness. In this vast universe fraught with dangers I have before me a group of people composed of such mettle that not even the most formidable weapons brought to bear can crack their spirit. Soon we shall cross the vast expanse of space to meet an enemy so brazen as to have struck upon our very marrow. With us we will bring to them the fury of our people- an anger unseen since the sundering and we shall scorch them!" Shiarrael took two steps back and unsheathed her S'harien holding the blade up towards the sun so that it radiated with reflected fire "Glory and victory to the Empire!"
The crowd and soldiers began chanting "vauthil! vauthil! vauthil!"
Beneath her boots the earth began to tremble. The crowd went silent as a heavy drone began to echo between the city's tall spires- their eyes were drawn skyward as their faces held expressions of awe and horror at the unknown source of the commotion. Out of the sun scorched azure abyss a cloud of over a hundred massive starships descended. The flock of metallic winged frames eclipsed the sun casting a vast shadow over the Capital. The ships neared as close as they dared to the building tips and hovered- the violent droning of their engines rattling window frames and teeth alike. From the lead ship, a massive D'Dherex dreadnaught, a sliver of emerald metal left its primary landing bay and slowly curved between the city's spires as it descended towards the surface. Shiarrael carefully sheathed the S'Harian and slowly made her way down the ramp followed by her staff. A gust of wind from the landing thrusters caused Shiarrael's hair and sash to flutter wildly as the bomber touched down just meters in front of the speaking platform. When it lowered its rear hatch Shiarrael entered with the others. Once everyone was secured the bomber took flight again and headed back towards its perch as the crowds below cheered wildly.
[IRW Hhveir Ri'hwathech - Hangar Bay]
Stepping out of the bomber Shiarrael was greeted by a cool breeze that swept in through the open hangar bay doors. Looking out beyond the large egress she found a breathtaking view of the landscape which stretched on in patches of green and olive with rivers of turquoise snaking through the fields and into the wide body of the apnex sea. Directly below them the Capital resembled a majestic insect hive as hundreds of shuttles and flitters moved between the maze work of spires like tiny flying insects.
Shiarrael turned around at the sound of Nnoil's voice to find her son standing a few meters away with his sister and grandfather. "What are you doing here?" She grinned and approached him running her hand through his spiked hair causing the boy to pull away sheepishly. He wasn't that little child that would run through the decks of the Charon causing mischief with his sister anymore. He had grown so much- they both had.
"They wanted to see you before you left Shiarrael." Her grandfather offered her a nod and Shiarrael returned it without speaking- their relationship was still frayed.
"You both are doing well in school?" She asked.
"Of course ra'nanov- Ael is the top of the class!" Nnoil looked at his twin sister who feigned disinterest.
"Oh?" Shiarrael grinned and placed a hand on her daughter's shoulder "when I return I will celebrate your achievement."
Ael shrugged "it's fine ra'nanov...just stay safe ok?"
"Of course. Everything will be fine." Shiarrael smiled but it was forced- no doubt her children were concerned about their mother going into combat. She looked at their grandfather and could see their sentiments echoed in his expression "please take them back home. I must finish final preparations" she returned her gaze to the twins "but don't worry. I will make sure to call you both regularly- do well in school while I am gone." They nodded to her and then left with their grandfather as he ushered them towards one of the waiting bombers.
[IRW Hhveir Ri'hwathech - Bridge]
The entire bridge crew stood and turned to Shiarrael saluting as she stepped off the lift followed by the other senior fleet staff. She waved a hand instinctively dismissing them out of attention as she made her way down the steps and in front of her empty command throne. Behind her the strategic operations area dominated the rear of the bridge where a holographic tactical table was nestled in its heart with six officers seated around it. Currently a large holographic grid style image of ch'Rihan swirled overhead with hundreds of lines tracing their way in elliptical orbits around the planet "how much longer until preparations are complete?"
"All holographic equipment has been transferred to the third and second wings." Lai answered from his station "personnel and soldiers are still boarding some vessels but the Hhveir Ri'hwathech has completed all necessary preparations Rekkhai."
"Good." Shiarrael slid herself into the command throne and laced her fingers across her lap "order the second and third wing to depart and take the Hhveir Ri'hwathech out of the atmosphere and into orbit."
The view screen image slowly shifted from azure to black as the ship made its ascent into orbit over Ch'Rihan. In front of them hundreds of ships swirled in orbit of the planet stretching off into the distance until their metallic hulls became dim pinprick blips on the screen and looked like a clusters of distant stars that had wrapped themselves around the planet in a half ring. Shiarrael drew in a deep breath momentarily overcome by the awe inspiring visage of the enormous battle fleet they had assembled.
After the moment passed she looked at Lai "inform the fleet to complete final preparations- in thirty minutes we will depart for Tholian Space."
Captain Shiarrael t'Rehu