Expecially the lies

The Romulan ship that had came out of warp far too close to the Albion for comfort was in bad shape. “Scans indicate weapon systems offline, shields are down. Power fluxuations would indicate a malfunctioning singularity drive.” Said the officer, looking to her Captain.

Intari nodded towards a Conn officer. “Open hailing frequencies.” He said serenely before speaking to the vessel on their screens. “Unknown Romulan vessel, I am Captain Intari of the U.S.S. Albion. You have breeched the neutral zone.”

Silence fell as all waited for their response. “The ship seems to have gone to emergency power.”

There’s a beep and static fills the view screen. Nothing can be seen, but it appears the vessel was trying to communicate. “<Is the channel open?>” A female voice said in Romulan.

“<You could just talk to them and see if they respond, that’d show you. There’s no video for sure.>” Was the response from somewhere on their side. Intari tipped his head back fractionally; that wasn’t the rigid sentence structure one would expect from a Romulan.

“Right.” The female voice switched to standard and the tone changed. She sounded relaxed, as if there weren’t claxons going off and stating warnings in harsh Romulan. “First of all: Hi. How are you doing over there?”

Intari blinked his inner eyelid and tipped his head to the side. This was interesting. “The Albion is well, thank you. Your ship appears to be in distress?”

“An understatement to be sure.” The woman demurred. “Hah. Anyway. I’m. Uh. Me. Of the ship… whatever this is.”

“<Did you get fired from the Tal Shiar for being unable to talk to people?>” Hissed a male voice.

“<I didn’t get fired I’m not even burned.> Myself and those aboard would like to… Avail ourselves of the hospitality of the Federation and throw ourselves upon her mercy.” The woman in charge said, voice again taking on a cheerful tone. “And if this isn’t acceptable, we’d like to request that you arm weapons and destroy the ship. It would be kinder than what awaits us.”

“The charring on the hull looks like plasma.” Said one of the tactical officers. Romulan weapon of choice. This close to the neutral zone would lead one to believe that they’d been attacked by other Romulans. Of course, there was always the chance that this was a trap and the badly damaged ship was bait. However…

Intari made his decision. They were a science vessel, and these were people in need. “How can we assist, Commander?”

There’s a pause, and a bit of a chuckle. “I don’t claim that title, Captain. But. Medical staff. We need medical attention badly. Engineers as well. I’ve been told that our singularities are shielded which normally means they’re inert, but this ship is experimental and I trust Romulan engineers as much as I trust Humans.” There’s a pause and a bit of the cheer slips from her voice, desperation leaks through. “Everything that we have is yours if you help us.”

“We will beam over tactical teams with our engineers and medical staff. How many crewmen do you have aboard?”

“Zero crewmen. There might be… I don’t know, eighty of us? I don’t know how many got on. Kev, do you speak Standard?”

“Yeah.” The male voice from before piped in. “I’d say we’re in the eighty range. There’s about twelve of us in the bridge, a small group of maybe 15 went down to engineering. Most are on deck four where we’ve tried to consolidate. A few of those in Engineering aren’t good, they need medical help. And-”

“And everyone else to the main group. We’re fine up here. Get everyone else first.” The female voice said. “So, we’ll be seeing you soon.” There was a pause before the woman addressed the ship through a broadcast. “<Federation will be beaming aboard supposedly with medics and engineers and probably with phasers, so please don’t do anything to get yourself shot. Hey, T’sri, a question.>”

Another pause, and a response. “<What?>”
“<How much of my blood is supposed to be in my body?>”
There’s another pause, this one a bit longer. “<I mean, ideally? All of it.>”
“<Oh. I don’t have all my blood in my body.>”
“<No, you do not. How are you feeling?>”
“<Is this what shock feels like?>”
“<What do you feel like?>”
“<I don’t feel anything.>”
“<Yeah, that’s shock.>”
“< Shock is great. I like Shock. This should be standard operating procedure.>”

The team that wound up in engineering had their work cut out for them. Medical was trying to wrangle a terribly thin Reman woman, but she was talking rapidly in Reman to a olive skinned Romulan who seemed to speak about six words of Reman and about four of Standard. He’d try to parse together what she said and relay it to a third person who could speak more Standard. Despite Medical’s wishes to get that girl on a bed and hit her with a few hyposprays, it was clear she needed to be upright more to explain.

It was some sort of an experimental ship, and they’d stolen it on the way out. Between it’s untested nature and the damage they’d sustained from escaping it was barely holding together. “And I’m sorry,” Avery said as he stared at not one, not two, but three shielded singularity drives, “But whey are there three of those?”

The little Reman said something quickly that he was starting to get the vibe of being ‘Tal Shiar bullshit’. She relayed it to the olive skinned romulan, who relayed that to the third Romulan. “Test ship. Trying out different ideas. Redundancies.” She shrugged.

“Wow, I hate it.” Avery said flatly and there was a spark of a smile on the Romulan’s face. She translated it to the male, who relayed it to the Reman, who gave him a bright smile in return.

“Wow.” She echoed enthusiastically. “I hate it!” The accent and stressors on words from an entirely different native tongue made the words still sound alien, but the delight on her face made him smile in response. She managed a few steps forward before her legs gave out and the male Romulan grabbed her reflexicley.

“C’mon, take her over here. I think we can handle it from here on out now that we know the shielding is holding.” Avery waved them over to where a few of the medical staff were waiting for her.

Meanwhile, on deck four the teams had been greeted by a Romulan with an almost Vulcan like level of calm and detachment. “So I set up triage here.” She said in accented Standard, but Standard all the same. “Three sections: Probably going to die, might die, and low resource use.”

Medical Officer Nikolas squinted at her. “You’ve got a fantastic bedside manner.” He said, pulling out his tricorder and giving her a quick scan first. Malnourished and likely addicted to some stimulant, but she seemed otherwise stable.

“Yeah, I’m from a farming colony. I’m a vet. My patients don’t talk to me generally.” The fact that the only person here apparently somewhat qualified to deal with medical issues was a vet was not exactly filling Nik with confidence on how medical care with this group had gone. She stuck to beside him, manhandling people where they needed to go and scolding them in Romulan. He got the feeling she kept telling people the Romulan equivalent of ‘quit your bitching’ a lot. Had that kind of face to her.

Had a decent eye for triage too, because despite her poor choice of descriptor for the groups they were accurate. Still, the Albion had the resources and had the staff, and they weren’t just going to let people die because they were resource heavy. Which is something she’d been surprised about. The whole ‘going to the worst off people first’ thing. Kept watching him with her dark eyes and seemed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

After warring with herself for a bit she sighed and pushed up her low hanging bangs to rub at her forehead ridges. “Has any medical team been to the bridge yet?” She asked.

“There were a few in the team that went there, yeah.”

“Good. Our ‘Commander’ wasn’t in good shape when we hit the ship.”

If anything on this blasted out warbird was going to go wrong, it’d be on the bridge. The team that approached it’s doors was cautious and entered the room armed only to find it’s occupants, a pathetic group of battered romulans, all standing still with arms up. As the head of the team surveyed the bridge the Captain’s chair, previously sitting with it’s back to the door, slowly started to turn. Finally, the Commander that had hailed them was visible.

“Now,” She said with a bright grin on her face that only slightly distracted from the gore covered right side of her face. “Am I to hand the ship over to you, sir?” She asked cheerfully.

“I am to relive you.” Remoi said as he nodded at the medical staff to move forward.

“I find myself relieved.” She said demurely, eye listing to look at the ground. “How very fortuitous today that we found your ship in our sights.”

Without being asked, a big Romulan man moved to her side. “I’ve got her, don’t worry.” He said to the medical officer. “She’s not going to be walking out of here.”

“You don’t have the clearance to tell me what to do, you.” The little Romulan said, smacking at him with poor aim. That didn’t stop the big guy from leaning down and carefully scooping her up behind the knees and at the shoulder, pulling her away from the Captain’s chair with a solid schlick of leather releasing wet fabric.

Remoi was willing to bet that chair leather hadn’t been green before she’d sat into it. Even being carried her head listed backwards, as if her neck couldn’t keep the weight upright anymore. She was still conscious, surprisingly, and gave Remoi another easy smile. “This is my Kev!” She smacked the man in the chest lightly. “We met in prison!”

“We weren’t- it wasn’t prison. It was a Tal-Shair science ship. We were in the brig.”

“We were in holding pens for live specimens.” She crinkled her nose up at him. “You were gonna be in so many jars.”

The medical staff of the Albion was pressed hard by the sudden appearance of the large amount of injured Romulans and Remans. Some of them frightfully so, some just malnourished and addicted to some chem or another.

“So how many of them are spies, you reckon?” Asked Adar as they helped Nik go through the records after everyone had been at least triaged and were resting in an empty hangar. Their lip curled upwards in distaste at the one they were reading: one of the little Remans was so malnourished she couldn’t stand on her own. Another day or two and her digestion system would’ve shut down.

“If I had to say anyone, it’d be the big guy. He’s in too good of shape. Physically perfect, too. Textbook.” It was weird, but there’d been a lot more weird things to focus on. Like the little in charge Romulan who refused to give them any sort of name had some sort of an implant in her chest to make up for the fact that she had a congenial heart defect. Did they fix the problem with gene therapy or replace the heart? No, why would they do that when they could cram something into her that apparently restarted her heart anytime it stopped and had kept her going after she’d lost a critical amount of blood. “The rest don’t have the right look to them.”

Nik had seen a lot of shady shit in his time, and there was a stark difference between ‘I’m an undercover agent hurt by my peers to look like I’m a refugee’ compared to 'I have spent the last few weeks and months being beaten and experimented on by a group of sadists’. It was hard to act that way, there was a desperation in people’s movements and their eyes that was hard to fake.

And Nik hadn’t seen faking in the eyes and wounds of the people he’d tended to. He’d seen fear and distrust and pain and shock, so much fucking shock. He knew there’d be a lot of crashes as people came down from shock as their bodies started to realize they could start to process everything they’d gone through. The next days were going to be rough as hell.

They were rough as hell. They lost some of them, each one was hard fought. They were too weak, too sick, too hurt, and each one broke Nik’s heart. The terrifyingly skinny Reman made it through, and the little lead Romulan with her weird heart implant made it.

“We can fix that, you know.” He told her after he’d went over her medical information. She just watched him, eye amused as she regarded him. “And your eye. We’ve got the technology to make you new ones.”

“It’s my heart, and I need to know it’s mine. Just like the eye. I don’t want an organic eye. My eye’s just a stain in the floor at the outpost we were at. I need to know what parts of me are mine and what parts aren’t.” She smiled up at him, calm as could be. She tipped her head and the smile went wider, all teeth. “I need to know the first parts someone will try to take away from me.”

Fucking Romulans, man.

The Romulans settled into little groups, or they didn’t and stared at each other like feral cats. Little Miss, who’d still refused to give anything resembling a name to anyone, usually had a group around her. The grouchy vet, the stick thin reman and her companion who was now up to about twenty words of reman spoken and the woman who could translate into common, a few of the other members who had been on the bridge with her initially, and the big guy.

Their group sat around a table in the lounge area where they’d been housed when they’d been able to get away from the medics. Verrul chatted loudly in Reman to Isneih, which is what they’d started calling the former Tal Shiar since she refused to tell them what her name was. T’sri had been the one to point out the roots of her hair peeking up from her scalp, blonde and bright. Vihen leaned close to the pair and tried to pick up as much as he could, since Verrul didn’t seem to be able or want to speak Romulan or Standard. T’sri mostly kept to herself and sipped her tea. Aeau and Behel talked in quiet tones and Kev seemed happy to just sit and watch everyone.

Isneih tipped her head to Verrul and turned towards him with a smile. “Hey, Kev.”

“Yeah?” He asked, turning his attention to her. She gave him another smile, this one kind of dreamy.

“Gimmie a name. Like, a real one, not just making fun of my roots you Hellgard bitch.” She said, and T’sri serenely made a rude gesture. “And you’re gonna wanna pick a new name too unless you want everyone to know you’re a halfblood.”

“She’s a halfblood?” Vihen asked and T’sri rolled her eyes at the table at large.

“Thanks.”

As they all bickered back and forth, Kev thought on what she’d asked him. When the argument died down a bit he caught her eye and smiled. “Vriha.”

“Vriha?” She echoed, testing the name out.

T’sri rolled her eyes again, tipping her head back for emphasis. "Please don’t give her any bigger of a head. I don’t think her neck can support it.”

“I’m Vriha now.” The newly dubbed Vriha said with a wide smile. “All right. What’s next?”

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