Location: Imperial Senate, Romulus
As Senator Vrax moved toward the floor of the Senate he had to admit he was a little nervous. Failure, or even perceived failure, amongst Romulans was treated harshly. This was a society that dealt in absolutes in pursuit of the doctrine of “Unlimited Expansion.”
He knew he had to speak confidently to his colleagues. He had to make it clear that far from a failure, the incident with the Drone Craft, where remotely piloted prototypes had used displacement technology to take on the appearance of their various enemies and turned on them with the intention of sowing dissension, had given them vital intelligence. Intelligence that could be used to their advantage.
Vrax had decided to speak extemporarily: it had more sincerity. And he had also decided to be their candid friend… up to a point.
He looked at his colleagues, resplendent in their senatorial robes. He took in the Presidium and the Praetor behind them. The room had a heavy ornamental quality to it which was enhanced by the subdued lighting from the uplit torches placed equidistant around the room. One advantage he knew he had was that the Senate was small in number. There were 30 Regional Senators, 8 in the Presidium and then the Praetor. The current Praetor, Atare, as his less guttural name suggested, was a more Patrician Leader though entirely convinced of Romulan destiny. There was still hope he might survive.
The Senators each sat in elegant chairs with scrolled arms positioned in a semicircle on one side of the chamber. The Presidium were on the opposite side with the Praetor. “Senators, Praetor, I crave your indulgence.“ He began, almost thumping his chest with his right arm in the time-honoured tradition. The member of the Presidium who had given way to him now sat down.
“You have read my report and have concluded that the Drone Incident was a failure a failure to sow dissension amongst our enemies. I do not deny that the objective has not been achieved and I stand here to take account of that failure in which ever way you deem fit.” He paused and looked at them, letting it sink in that his failure was recognised and he would accept their judgement even if it meant his death. “However, I believe we have gained much more than we have lost and those gains are vital if we are to pursue our goals.”
The Praetor intervened “And what would that be, Vrax?” Vrax noted the deadly threat in the choice of address.
He pressed on. “If we look at this mission with an air of detachment there are, I believe, three conclusions we can derive. Firstly, that we must never rely on anyone beyond our own. The mission failed because of the rebellion and self sacrifice of the telepathic Aenar race. If we had retained their allegiance we would have succeeded.” Vrax hesitated. This was his moment of greatest danger. Would any of the Senators question the unfinished business of the two Enterprise crewman who had boarded the Drone and who would have obtained vital information about Romulan technology. Or would they assume they had died in the destruction of the Drone? He held his breath. It was only 30 seconds but it seemed like a lifetime or the end of one. No-one spoke.
“The second lesson is that even our prototypes are no match for the enemy. Our craft are more nimble, swift and capable of overcoming all. Remember, in the end one Drone destroyed another and the other was rendered helpless before it was destroyed as a result of the treachery of the Aenar not because our craft were inferior.”
One of the Presidium behind Vrax intervened. The Presidium were sat in groups of two at four consoles which formed a graceful semi circle in front of the Praetor’s command chair. Vrax turned to listen. “Senators, I have studied the material transmitted before their destruction. I share the view of the accused that our technology is more than a match for our enemies.” Vrax was surprised by this intervention. The Senator was reserving judgement over his fate but making it clear his interpretation was accurate. He searched his mind quickly and then found the Senator’s interest in the matter. The district he represented was responsible for the arming of their fleets and had produced the Drone’s components, which had been transferred into Orbit for assembly.
Vrax nodded humbly, not triumphant and went on to make his third point. “Before this incident began we knew little of our enemies. Our only contacts were with the people of Vulcan.” There was a slight murmur among the assembled: the matter of Romulus and Vulcan had its own story.
“All of the species were an unknown quantity. Now I suggest we know different. Whilst drawing all of the factions in generated co-operation rather than dissent, one species stood out and showed themselves to be our greatest enemy. They displayed a talent for improvisation, an ability to adjust their strategy and individually they showed us they have a strong sense of the collective good and are prepared to sacrifice themselves for it. Most deadly of all they are the one race which is capable of uniting all the others because of the development of individual ties with each one.” For his final thought he raised his voice a little. “The vital lesson we have learned is our greatest enemy the greatest obstacle to our ambitions are mankind!” His rousing finale met with a murmur of approval.
The Praetor raised his staff and all went quiet. “Senators, Vrax stands before you accused of failure and for that the penalty is death.” There was a hush. “However, there is no denying the achievements of this recent escapade and I agree with the conclusions he has drawn. The risk of using the Aenar was simple. We knew of their telepathic abilities but we knew nothing of their culture and that left us vulnerable to the show of unity with his people or, as I understand, it a member of his kin. If we had not taken that risk we would be no further forward. It is my judgement that we set aside the absolute sense of failure and turn this to our advantage and now strike with full knowledge. Senators, I command you to prepare a battle fleet which can be ready in the year. It will have one simple objective: the destruction of mankind.” It was mere seconds before the Senate stood as one and roared approval, offering the Romulan salute to their Praetor. In amongst all of this, Vrax found only time to remind himself to breath. It had worked.
Vrax waited for the Chamber to empty before stepping out onto the balcony of the Senate Building. As always, he never failed to be impressed by the setting.
The Imperial Building was at the very heart of Romulus. A perfect circle that rose high above the rest of the city, itself bound by walls which formed the outer circle. Beyond these were parks, waterways and private dwellings – all built with a unity of architectural purpose. There was a magnificent logic and symmetry to the buildings but dominating all was the Imperial Building, with its raised parapet and inner sanctum of buildings housing the core of the power of the Romulan Empire. There was only one causeway within the Imperial Building to the Senate Building and, as Vrax looked out, he noted a lone figure striding along it in the direction of it. He reflected on the turn of events and took in the magnificent view, waiting for the figure to come into view. It was Admiral Valdore who had commanded the Drone Attack. Quickly, Vrax withdrew, found an anti chamber within the Senate and took a seat.
Admiral Valdore could not have been more different to the Praetor. Everything about him was heavy. Broad shouldered, with a deep guttural voice and the starkest facial features it was possible for a Romulan to possess. Some wondered whether he had the intellect for his position whereas others admired his ruthless single mindedness.
The Admiral entered the antechamber and looked around him. There were no visual feeds but the room might be monitored for sound. He had the technology to neutralise any surveillance and activated it.
“I understand congratulations are in order.” Opened Valdore. Vrax nodded. “It seems to me the matter is at an end.” Vrax looked up at him, replying, “Provided the two intruders died when the Drone was destroyed, then yes.” “I feel sure they and the knowledge they gained died with them.” Vrax never dealt in absolutes. “Let us hope you’re right – for many different reasons. You had a monitoring feed. Indeed, you spoke to them.” “Indeed,” agreed Valdore. “Do you remember their names?” Vrax enquired.
Valdore searched his memory. “They shared a certain sense of comradeship, so the way they addressed each other may not be their formal names. I recall one was called Trip and the other Malcolm. The former was the more senior.” Vrax nodded storing away what seemed like an inconsequential piece of information about the enemy.