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A Guided Tour [CD]

Posted on Mon Jul 13th, 2020 @ 8:38am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis

Mission: Interlude 4
Location: Starfleet Academy
Timeline: 4 April 2395 - 1100 Hours


"... The lecture halls are mostly occupied at this time of day," Rhiana was saying as she and her ward Xavi were walking across the main campus of Starfleet Academy. It was a beautiful if slightly chilly morning, the sun was up and the sky was near cloudless. Even though classes were in session, the perfectly manicured and well designed open spaces surrounding the Academy buildings were never devoid of people. Most were wearing uniform, but even though they were in San Francisco on Earth, there seemed to be a rather equal mix of species from all over the quadrant and beyond even.

"But we can visit one of them during break time," Rhiana continued, "And I have arranged for us to attend an introductory engineering class after secondmeal. Until then, we will have a look at the sports complex and, if there is still time, the main library."

"I don't understand why we are here," Xavi said, scowling at their surroundings. "This place isn't Romulan. I need to be learning about my own people so that one day I can help them. You said you would teach me and now we are here. Do you expect me to become a Starfleet officer as well?" He asked. He would never admit it but the majesty and beauty of the academy grounds made him feel small and insignificant and he didn't like it. He'd never felt that way on Far Wanderer.

"We are here because I cannot show you the Galae academy I attended," Rhiana explained patiently. She had expected this question, but while she had prepared an answer, she still did not like it. "For one, because it was destroyed. And because I can never go back to the Empire." Her voice was calm, but saying it out loud still hurt. "This is the only place of learning I can show you to give you an example of what may await you one day."

Xavi's head turned away from Rhiana. He watched a group of young Starfleet ensigns walking across the plaza in front of them. He couldn't help but compare them to the people he'd grown up with and with the people he'd come to know on the Firebird. "You do think that I should come here then? Are there many other Romulans in Starfleet now?" Xavi asked. He wondered if he could manage interacting with so many people.

"I have never met any other Romulan in Starfleet. But I have not sought for any either," she admitted without changing her tone. "Any Romulan you might encounter in Starfleet is either a refugee or a traitor. I do not particularly care for meeting either of them. The traitors among us should be dead and the refugees... even they have deserted the Empire in a way. Should any of us ever return, we might get a court martial, but we will all be executed." Rhiana remained as non-committal as she could, not wanting to scare the boy. But she was also honest. "I do not want to force you to attend an academy of my choosing, Xavi," she continued in a somewhat softer tone. "It is your life and your future. I simply wish to give you options. Starfleet is one of them. If you do not wish to become an officer, you can enlist or become a Marine. If you do not wish to join Starfleet, I will find a way for you to attend the Galae academy at home - or support you in whatever it is you wish to do."

Xavi looked at his guardian. His mask of discipline slipped just a little, and for a moment he looked like the young Romulan he was. "What if I don't know what I want to do? I don't know where I belong or how to get there. I always thought when I was rescued I would go back to Romulus. But now... I'm standing in the middle of Starfleet Academy in San Francisco." He motioned with a hand at a Vulcan officer passing nearby. "Should I try to become a Vulcan?" He pointed again. "Or a Cardassian. What does it mean to be Romulan now that we have no home?"

Rhiana did not reply immediately, but continued on their way, albeit redirecting them to a more secluded area of this courtyard. "It means that we fight to preserve our identity. We fight to rebuild our Empire. It is not easy and it never will be. We are surrounded by past, current and future enemies, all of whom would prefer to see us fail. And not all of us are able to conquer the challenges we are facing." By now, they were sheltered from view by some tall bushes and out of hearing range from most passer-bys. Rhiana came to a halt and faced Xavi. "I knew as soon as I saw you for the first time that I would take you with me. A Romulan should not grow up among Outworlders. I also knew, of course, that I would not be able to replicate the kind of upbringing you would have had in the Empire, but I had a plan. Vague, but not impossible."

She paused and looked away for a moment, wondering whether she had been too naive with that plan. Probably. "Of course, I could not bring you back to the Empire myself, but I could make inquiries about your family and hopefully find your surviving kinsmen. There was no urgency, for in the meantime, I could ensure that you would at least receive a Romulan education and learn the rules of society. Even if there were no surviving members of your family, I could have found a way to arrange for you to enlist for your mandatory military service in the Galae and begin to make a life for yourself in the Empire."

Xavi was genuinely surprised. He'd come to believe that he had no family. After all, wouldn't they have come to find him and his mother? Wouldn't they at least want to recover the bodies? And when he'd come aboard the Firebird the thought had never occurred to him that they were in a position to locate extended family. The idea was both exciting and also disturbing. He knew that t'Aegis took her responsibilities as his guardian seriously. She might make him go to ridiculous places and his physical training was more intense than he let on but she cared. Probably.

"Did you make inquiries?" Xavi asked.

"I did."

Rhiana fell silent after this, but kept eye contact with the boy. She could still lie. But while he was still a child, he was not stupid. And she had always been as honest as possible with him. "You have at least one living relative, Xavi. And when this person learns that you are alive, she will do what she can to bring you to her. Or she will kill you."

Xavi opened his mouth and then closed it, his mind spinning. He had a relative! But why would they want him dead? "I see. And why do they see me as a threat? I know my mother was a member of the military but I thought her position was a minor one." He waited for Rhiana to reply, trying not to lose his control. He didn't want to act like a child.

"This is not about your mother. Not directly, at least. Nor are you seen as a threat. You are rather considered a liability by that relative." Rhiana paused just long enough to let that sink in, but she continued before Xavi could ask any questions. "Your existence makes her potentially vulnerable. And her enemies will want to exploit that."

"Then we should be prepared to destroy them. Can we go on the offensive? I don't like the idea of living as a target for the rest of my life. Perhaps we should steal the ship and use it? I am sure that together we could do that. Or, if that isn't possible, convice the captain to support our efforts to destroy these enemies," Xavi said. Back on Far Wanderer he had taken part in a number of raids against the Refam. Surely he could do the same in this instance.

Rhiana almost smiled at Xavi's reaction. He was so young and naive. "I do not want you living as a target for the rest of your life either," she told him. "But Xavi, this is not merely a house feud or a dispute between two villages. You are a cousin of Sela the would-be empress. And her enemy is the Tal Shiar. Or what is left of them, which is still enough to remain one of the most powerful organisations in what is left of the Empire." And these were just the two major factions warring for power...

Xavi's mind blanked for a few minutes. His eyes tracked the Starfleet uniforms that moved around him but he saw no faces. Empress? How could this be? His thoughts raced as he processed what Rhiana had said. His mother would also have been a close relative and threat. He went back in time to their hurried escape from the Shaenur. He could hear the siren to abandon ship. He could smell the burned flesh from the wounded his mother had hurried them past. He saw his mother's face clearly, perhaps for the first time in many years. "My mother," he said and then locked eyes with Rhiana. "Rhiana t'Aegis, did these same people kill my mother?" He asked.

Rhiana shook her head. "I do not know. Possibly." Certainly. "But the important thing now is to keep you safe. That will not be easy. If none of these two groups can find you, they will end up believing that you do not live after all and they will abandon their search." Possible, but unlikely. "For now, we will have to concentrate on the present. I am considering confining you to the Firebird whenever we are on Empok Nor."

Xavi nodded. It made sense. "I understand," he said. "But do you think that you could arrange for me to have more access to the holodeck? Besides that annoying human child, there are no other young people on the ship and the officers don't seem to want to have much to do with me. Or perhaps you could find me a post of some kind?" He hated the idea of confinement but he also thought it would be a poor form of repayment to put Rhiana's life at risk.

Even if she did not show it, Rhiana was relieved that Xavi took to that suggestion without throwing a fit. Of course, she still would have confined him, but his cooperation helped. The least she wanted to do was locking him into a cell. Though she would, if she had to. "You are too old for the girl and too young for the crew," she agreed. "I had hoped that you and Petty Officer Djokovic could have become better acquainted, but..." She let out a tiny sigh. Even though she knew that Gia's choice to attend Starfleet Academy to become an officer was the right one, she missed her. She had hoped that they would be able to visit her while they had shore leave, but the new cadets were still secluded in the initial officers' training camp. "You are supposed to study," she said, mentally returning to the here and now. "I can increase the amount of work you will have to go through every day. But," she continued before Xavi had the chance to interrupt her, "I will not do that for now. Is there a field you are particularly interested in?"

Xavi didn't care for most of the things Rhiana was having him study. Things like etiquette and communications and higher level math. He knew he would never be an engineer. He liked building things but he didn't want to have to study to do so. However. "I've had a chance to fly the shuttle a handful of times. I enjoy piloting and the science around that. Could you get Lieutenant Jackson or Ensign Temo to train me as a pilot? I would be glad to do more work in that area, even... math," Xavi said. The idea of being able to leave somewhere when he wanted because of his own skill, was very appealing.

Rhiana eyed Xavi. She did not put it above him trying to steal a shuttle from the Firebird when he was in one of his moods just so he could get away from everybody. But at least he would know how to fly properly... "Very well. I will ask Ensign Temo to train you, but you will also study the theoretical subjects required to become a pilot. The initial practical training sessions will take place in the holodeck. Of course, this will be in addition to your usual coursework." Not that the boy thought that he could get away from his mandatory learning only because his life was in danger.

"Of course, ssuaf-ha, t'Aegis. I will do as you say," Xavi said and bowed his head briefly. "But can we skip the rest of this tour? I'm hungry and this place has too many people." He was grateful to Rhiana for so many things. He hoped he could live up to her expectations.


Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Romulan Orphan
(NPC by Captain Llwyedd)


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Comments (2)

By Lieutenant JG Owen Woodhouse on Thu Jul 16th, 2020 @ 6:18am

Wow! I love where Xavi's storyline is taking us and I love all the Romulan culture in every interaction he has with Rhiana. <3 <3 -Liam

By Captain Malcom Llwyedd on Fri Jul 17th, 2020 @ 8:35pm

The thing about this JP is that it flowed so naturally for me and Rhiana. Or at least for me! Xavi's mindset is very interesting and he's a fish out of water but with another fish just like him. I can't wait to see how he develops.