Monday, March 24, 2014

History of a Halfbreed (part 5 and 6)

(Part 5)
It was a week before she and many of the others were found. Being how it had to have been someone on the inside who betrayed the clans, some of their planned escape routes had been blocked. Thankfully, the person seemed to not have known about the ship they kept hidden in a nearby solar system. The large cargo vessel crept into orbit three days after the attack and, slowly, the survivors were beamed aboard. The mole also didn't know of many of the other reunificationist groups in other cities. Though some fled to safety there, one hundred forty-seven survivors made the ship their new home. No one knows how they made it out of the system safely, but they did. The ship, its residents shocked, injured and in stages of sorrow, picked a common route to travel deeper into Romulan space and began to blend in with the other transport vessels.

T'kayeda barely spoke for a month. Even the Elder sent to train her, J'arn, could not get more than a phrase or two from her. Many were worried of damage done from the severing of the bond, but nothing obvious could be found. It may have just been her way of coping. She worked quietly, studied endlessly, and took to staring out at the stars for hours at a time. Only when she was alongside her father, fixing one of the endless broken parts on the old vessel, did she come out of her shell. Mother worried, something illogical, but watched and let time do its healing. As the months passed, T'kayeda started to interact more with the others her age and spoke up again. It was a good thing too.

In her eleventh year, tenth month and fourth day of life, Hobus blew apart. With it, Romulus and Remus and countless other planets in the nearby systems vanished. Numbers unfathomably high died. The Romulan/Rihansu race was now a third of what it had been. It's people scattered everywhere, colonies were in chaos, and there was so much suffering. The Federation tried to help. Even the Klingons attempted to assist. Some groups accepted the help. Many reunificationists ran for the closest Federation ships and did all they could to support efforts. The cargo ship was quickly filled with refugees from the blast. The bays were turned into camps with any supplies which could be bartered for. It became very crowded very quickly. T'kayeda took to helping her peers as they arrived. She showed them around, helped them with their education and became a bit of a mentor to them. J'arn and Mother smiled, seeing the child bloom in such tragedy. It took a weight off of their shoulders -something which was needed.

In the space which was left after the blast, the darkest side of the Rihansu race began to thrive. The Tal Shiar. Those who had attacked anyone who failed to follow their mandates to the letter had seen this as a way to completely take over. These were the masterminds of the attacks on the reunificationist clans. They exploded from the debris and started taking control of everything possible. Children were brought in to be trained as future soldiers. Teenagers scripted in whether they wanted to be or not. The Tal Shiar had ways of making them obey.

The cargo vessel was constantly on guard, always on the move. All knew why. As Vulcans, Romulans and Remans learned to live together in the ship - they all hoped and prayed they could make it to Federation space. The vessel was slow and, because it had to stay in the shadows, it could take months to get there. But...somehow...some way they had to make it.

(Part 6)
Pain! So much pain. It felt like fire, felt like ice, felt sharp.
Screams...were they hers or one of the other unfortunates from the smallest of now three cargo vessels. A convoy did make a larger target, but were not so common that why...why were they attacked again? 
T'kayeda had been on that vessel for the last week, helping some of the new families settle in. It was a tiny ship of just fifty-two people, but they needed so much assistance. T'kayeda fought past the pain, forcing herself to remember where she was and how she got there. The convoy had scattered when the Tal Shiar ship appeared. They must have followed the easiest target. She remembered the explosions as she held onto a little toddler of a girl. Thinking hard she remembered the tractor beam and the boarding party. Yes, she had been captured by those they all feared the most.
More pain, laughter, questions, something burning in her veins. She swore and spit and became almost feral under the torture from the guards. How dare they do this! She would tell them nothing. But it hurt so bad! Maybe one secret to make the pain stop for a time? long had she been here on this table or in that cell? How long had she called out - losing control of all the skills so carefully taught by her Vulcan mother and teacher. 

And then it stopped for a moment. There were more explosions and screams - but it wasn't from those being tortured. She saw a race she was unfamiliar with come through the smoke. They helped her out of the cell. They took her off the Tal Shiar ship. Darkness took her for more unknown days. When she woke, there was still so much pain. Her mind felt torn apart. She could barely focus, her emotions raw, her body barely able to move. She was in the sickbay of those who rescued her, the bluish faces looking at her sadly. A universal translator was placed so she could understand them. Sometimes she wished she couldn't. Only nine survived the assault and the rigors of capture and torture. She listened and learned she had been in the hands of the Tal Shiar for just over four days and was the youngest survivor. T'kayeda also learned how severe her injuries were and how the ship did not have advanced enough equipment to effectively treat her. The equipment was older and some of it was quite primitive and the treatments hurt - but not as bad as the torture did. She also learned the people were mercenaries, but ones who hated the Tal Shiar. They were looking for T'kayeda's people. 

It was three more weeks before they found the cargo vessel. Mothers face showed true emotion at the discovery of her daughter being alive. Father picked her up in his arms, cradling her as if she were an infant. T'kayeda listened to the medic describe the injuries and findings and apologize repeatedly for not being able to do more. Then the captain came down and said he had called in a favor or two. A series of contacts had been made and they could be lead to a safer location. This one was closer to the Federation border. It would give them a better chance of either escaping or reaching out to those who could get them to safety. The decision was made to trust the mercenaries and they were escorted over the next month and then given a place to hide the ship. 

All the time T'kayeda listened. Just like when her bonded friend had been killed, she didn't speak. This time though, it was because she really couldn't. Even when she tried, nothing came out or it was jibberish. She also could not walk, her legs shattered so bad and the regenerator did such poor work that the damage had to heal on its own. She endured months of rehabilitation on all fronts. Those she had helped now visited her. She hated their expression though. She despised their words of sympathy and how they spoke to her like a young child. She was twelve point eight twp years old!  Only a few really just sat and talked to her. J'arn worked with her mind tirelessly. He was honest with her, saying exactly what the type of probing and chemical washing and damage from beatings had done to her. T'kayeda worked the hardest with him. She knew her abilities had been strong once and, deep inside, she felt they could be again. Seven months from the attack and torture, her body healed enough for her to walk unaided among the refugees. It seemed to give them strength to see her. Two months after that, her mind healed enough for her to speak again. 

Conversations among many of the reunificationist adults changed as she continued to recover. They needed to break from the ship. They had to run for Vulcan. What happened to "their hope" or "their child" could not be allowed to happen again. The clan unified around that mindset and started threading connections to get them out of Romulan space. 

History of a Halfbreed (Part 3 and 4)

(Part 3)
Those connections were how this particular group was able to leave the planet and barely anyone tried to stop them. It is how, days later, a quick drop-off of supplies filled a cargo hold. This was the work of D'tan's people. He had cultivated a network to help the others who believed that Vulcans and Romulans could live together again. That network heard the distress call, knew of the escape plan and brought in those who remained somewhat in the shadows on their beliefs to have a conflict above the planet. Republic versus Tal-Shiar was common. Having a ship sneak out in the battle wasn't...

The cargo vessel held the survivors in cramped, but comfortable safety. Quarters were shared by smaller families and bunks were built to hold singles in a small hold. thirty-three out of forty-seven who had been in the camp, now called it home. Days, weeks, months and finally over three years passed. They floated in deep space, hoping that with time their numbers could grow as the Tal-Shiar forgot about this particular group. Sometimes, minor conflicts broke out inside the ship. Sometimes, they were attacked by pirates or alien clans trying to prove something random. Rarely did they stop anywhere for more than a few days.

T'kayeda was in conflict almost constantly.

She sat up on a crate one morning, watching Father work. When he'd call for a certain tool, she would toss it down to him. Next to her was a ship component that needed fixing. She was barely seven years old, but had become a help to Father. While he never actually took time to teach her, she learned by watching and by intuition. He could send her into a conduit with a spanner and she'd return a short time later with the problem fixed. Father rarely had to give more than a simple direction or two. T'kayeda found the hours helping him maintain the ship a stimulating exercise. Also, as he was a man of few words, this was how they bonded. The others saw she had Fathers talent for engineering and some started handing the child smaller projects to work on. It did take a lot to keep the old vessel in shape. On that day, T'kayeda was tinkering with the component and speaking to another member when Mother walked in. She had an expression on her face which T'kayeda had long ago learned to dread. See, the child had been speaking in a dialect of Rihannsu which Mother disagreed on her learning. It was full of underworld slang and was in no way a proper language for her child to speak. However, it was the language spoken on many of the stations they visited for supplies. Mother looked at the adult, then to the now quiet child. At T'kayeda's side, a tiny fist clenched. She knew what was coming.

"Your father can finish the task on his own." She turned and left.
From where he was working on a shuttle, Father looked over and shrugged. He cherished his wife, but knew some battles just were not worth having. T'kayeda frowned before jumping off the crate and following the woman.

If Mother had her way, she'd be studying from wake up call to curfew and do nothing else. At least, that is the way the child saw it. Lessons in advanced mathematics, literature and the sciences. Lessons on logic and emotional control. Lessons on survival skills, as she was almost old enough for Kas-Wan...though a suitable planet needed to be found. There were also lessons on controlling what now could not be avoided. The child had a high esp rating and it showed. She could sense what others wanted, what they really were trying to say, what their surface emotions were and more. As there wasn't one on the ship with such skills or training on how to protect a mind that young, Mother did what she could. T'kayeda was tired of lessons. She wanted to interact with the handful of other children in a setting outside of lessons. She wanted to work alongside Father. She wanted to be off of the ship most of all. In her dreams she could remember what it was like for the short time they were on a planet. She wanted to breathe fresher air, to have soil under her feet and to have more people to talk to. The people here were no longer a challenge to interact with. However, she wanted to please Mother more. Perhaps if she focused more, learned more, talked less, the constant lessons would stop because Mother was proud of her progress.

It was right after she turned eight standard years that her pointed ears heard her parents speaking late one night. They were speaking of bonding ceremonies, of a boy from a reunificationist camp who was also half Vulcan and half Romulan. It could be a way to join the two groups more. Mother spoke of how it would be beneficial for everyone to be able to work together more towards their common goal. She saw logic and reasoning. Father did not want his daughter bonded, but he knew the small clan on this tiny cargo ship could not thrive until something big changed. He saw more hands, a chance to be planetside again, safety among numbers large enough to spread out and not be such a cluster which drew attention. They both saw that it might be a way to settle T'kayeda down a little. The years on the small ship had made the child restless.

T'kayeda saw conflict. She had read of the ceremony and concept of bonding. Though she had practiced surface mind touches, this would be much different. The boys mind would be joined to hers and a bond painfully created. She could look through it to his and he to hers... if they bothered to do so. She knew that, due to respect for privacy, most never did. Due to distances, educational tasks, clan conflicts and other reasons, many bonded children barely knew the person they were to eventually marry. T'kayeda wanted nothing to do with any of it. In her young mind it was frightening. She recognized her budding abilities and worried if she'd be able to keep his thoughts out of her mind. However, if it meant she could help her ship family and help her parents dreams of reunifying the two cultures, then she would do so.

(Part 4)

On a warm morning three months later, she did. The ceremony was held inside a cramped house just on the edge of the "slums" on a massive colony world. Older Vulcans stood around the two children as a trained Elder assisted in forming the bond between their fragile minds. T'kayeda had known the boy for three weeks now. He had been friendly to her, not forced friendly like she had been to him, but genuinely interested in her. She paid closer attention than most had thought she could to each step of the ceremony and process. When the moment came for the meld to be ripped away, leaving the lingering thread of a bond between them, she did the unimaginable. T'kayeda did the painful tearing just a split second before the Elder could. He was nearly thrown back from the force of her action and even the most strict of the reunificationist Vulcans gasped. Another quickly came forward to see if any damage had been done by the seemingly rash action. However, there was no damage to be found, only a proper bond and two children who now looked into each other eyes. For the first time since arriving on the planet, T'kayeda smiled.

She wasn't smiling that night though. Both families were taking turns berating the child. Sometimes almost yelling, other times the cold tone of years of logic came her way. The child looked down and pretended to care about what she had done. When the families were convinced she was regretful, she was sent to isolation in one of the stripped down shuttles they kept hidden underground. Sometimes discipline was needed among a group so large, and it acted almost like a brig then. Other times, it was one of the few places a mind could get some peace amidst the sprawling city. In this situation, it was the agreed upon punishment. Perhaps if the child learned what it was like to be without others for a few days she would be more apt to listen to logic. T'kayeda went willingly, still pretending to be repentant. Minimal water and no food was left as the door shut and she was left in the dim shell.

At first it seemed a novel glory for the nine year old. Finally, she could think without having to expend the energy to keep her mental shielding up tightly. So many minds, so many more than on the ship. This group was much larger than her own home clan of followers. They spread out between the edge of the slums and all the way into infiltrating the higher hierarchy on the planet. She had counted over a thousand in their first meeting at an arranged concert. Never again, on that planet, would that many gather who believed in reunification. She had even met two of the men that her family saw in almost a god-like fashion. The younger of the two had been very kind to the child. He had found her the teacher who would soon be working with T'kayeda on her mental skills. But for now, she was left in silence. The novelty lasted for the first day. By the second, she was starting to miss the now seemingly comforting pressure of other minds against hers. On the third, she started to be truly repentant for her actions. Silent tears fell against a face now fighting emotion and battling for control. As she laid on the cold floor, lost in her own quiet world, comfort came to her in the form of a small thread between two minds. She was not alone. The boy was there too.

From that day forward, the two children were rarely apart. To T'kayeda, he was her best friend and a stabilizing factor for her. Being planetside, though it had been what she longed for while on the ship, wasn't at all what she had expected. She hated the city and wanted to be back where there had been trees and free-flowing water and clear sky. She had only seen those things three times since they arrived, and that had been when some had traveled to the more distant members of the joined clan. With the boy at her side, T'kayeda was less restless and began to delve into her studies. The teacher the Rihansu reunificationist leader had promised had arrived, and if she were not with the boy, then she was with him. Because of both, Mother was learning that she had to let her child stray from her watchful eyes for more than a couple of hours. In the next two years, T'kayeda blossomed. Her skills started to be reigned in and honed towards what she was best at - being a diplomat among the younger generation. She could even be found negotiating disputes with the adults too. Another skill was coming out too. Her mind was so strong that talk began of her training to be a healer. The boy had a talent in mechanical work and Father had become a mentor to him. Many nights, the three of them would come in late from one of the storage zones the clans had set up around the region. They would be covered in dirt, lubricants and whatever else had been dug out of their task of that day. Both clans were thrilled with the friendship between T'kayeda and the boy. With them not growing up strangers, there was a even better chance for them to represent the ideals being taught.

And then the bottom fell out again. The children had been walking back from classes, keeping to the shadows as always. This time, the sky didn't explode with the smoke and fire from an above attack. This time it was a precision strike. The soldiers knew what homes to go into, what roads to be placed on and what faces to shoot at. There had been a mole...

T'kayeda tried to pull the boy into one of the tunnels as he watched in horror. She knew this time what to do... but so did a soldier. He was waiting at the entrance and grabbed the eleven year old. It was enough to snap the boy out of his shock. He leaped on the back of the soldier, biting and kicking so the creature would let go of his bonded one. The solider did, then grabbed the boy off of his back. He pinned him upside down, grabbed the boys legs and then swung around. The boys skull cracked against the tunnel entrance and he fought no more. T'kayeda screamed from a combination of the severed bond and the emotions of losing her friend. She then ran like she had never ran before...

Monday, January 27, 2014

The History of a Halfbreed (part 1 and 2)

 (Part 1)
It wasn't anything new or exciting, nothing for the heavens to open up about or the comms to boast over. No one but a few even seemed to notice the miniscule event of thirty-seven point seven four standard years ago. The moment occurred where billions of others had taken place... in a corner of a space-faring ship. It was the birth of a child.

She was very small, coming nine weeks before her time. Her skin was flushed green from the blood vessels being so close to the surface - a common condition with premature births. There wasn't enough time in-utero to build up a layer of fat. Her cries were faint as she was cleaned up and placed in a makeshift incubator. The nurse, who delivered her, quickly got to work stabilizing both baby and mother. It had been a hard day for everyone.

The ship was on the run again and smoke still lingered from the attack. People had been injured by those whom they had been trying to help. The rift seemed impossible to close on days like today. Yet everyone pressed forward. Both species were strong, built from the same lineage thousands of years ago. Doctrinal differences had separated them across the span of space. Nature and force of will adapting them until they were two difference species. One race turned militaristic and lived lives of distrust. Hatred abounded and factions warred against the others. Green blood spilled constantly. The other race bedded down deeper into its realms of knowledge and logic and management of emotions. It wasn't an entirely peaceful race, but it was a calmer one. This baby was both.

Now that was a bit more unusual. A child with a Vulcan mother and Romulan father generally came about via more violent methods. This child was conceived out of something close to love. He was a former sub-commander who could no longer stand the ways of his people and wanted to learn more diplomatic methods. She was a reunificationist. They both wanted a better future for the Romulan people and felt by bringing the two species back together, the future they desired could happen. T'kayeda, as they quickly named her, was a symbol of that hope. If she lived...

There were days when, even with some advanced technologies, the little one almost died. The ship had old equipment and was not set up for a premature infant. Most all of what they did have in pediatrics had been bartered for along the way. T'kayeda did survive, and slowly she started to thrive. One thing everyone noticed from the start, the baby seemed very alert and observant. Even when fevers raged or she had trouble with feeding, her eyes followed anyone who came near. As time went on, she started catching up to the normal development of a Romulan baby, but never quite to the level of a Vulcan one. That would take more time...

*fast forward three years*

"T'kayeda!" The woman's voice was firm.
The child stopped in her tracks. She had a weighted backpack on and was running ahead of her mother. They lived on a colony planet right now, and the woman was using every spare moment to work on the child's strength and stamina. Spending her first two years on a derelict spacecraft did no favors with her rough start added onto it. The last fourteen months had made a world of difference. She was keeping up with her peers in all areas and was quickly learning Kahr'y'tan (the philosophy of Vulcan), meditation and logic. She needed all of it, for the child had a fierce temper.
"Yes, Mother?" She didn't even seem winded after the fifteen mile run.
The woman simply raised an eyebrow.
T'kayeda sighed. "I was only a little bit outside of your imposed distance."
Another raised eyebrow, "Precision, child."
"I was ... four point two meters in front of the fifteen meter boundary for running in front of you."
"Four point three. Why do we have the boundary?"
The child looked skyward and tried not to sigh. Mother didn't like sighing. "There are people here and in the sector who do not believe the way we do and who do not wish for us to be here. The boundary is set so I do not stray farther than you or Father can reach in three seconds."
The woman nodded. "We will return to camp and start your lessons."

For a three year old who had not been part of Vulcan's infant schools, T'kayeda was a quick study. She soaked up knowledge from all sources. If she was not learning from her mother, then she was asking questions of the others in their camp or talking with those from the nearby town. Even when trying to be formal, mimicking her mother, she was able to negotiate for what she desired. It was a skill the other reunificationists noticed and were pleased to see. One of those things was a stuffed animal which looked something like a rat - but with six legs. It was not logical, but she had wanted it and reasoned the ownership of it from so many angles that her mother relented. The object went everywhere with the child. It was with her in the camp, in the village, next to her sleep-mat. It was even in the weighted backpack.

And it was with her when the group was discovered...

(Part 2)
Father had been working until very late for weeks now. He hadn't been attending the meetings Mother and the other reunificationists held. T'kayeda had been told that he was working on a ship. Since that is what Father usually did - generally for others to make money - she shrugged it off. She knew he checked on her as she slept and it was all that mattered to her. Sometimes he would bring old parts home for her to work on. At first, Mother did not agree, until she saw that the three year old had a knack for taking the equipment apart and many times could put it back together again accurately. Lately, it was one of the few activities she could do. Mother kept her in the camp almost constantly. For the last month she had only been to the town one time. She missed her little friends and asked often as to why she could not go talk to the adults there. Mother just gave her blanket answers or told her to be quiet.

It was another month before she was in town. T'kayeda was thrilled, as she hadn't even been on the long runs around the area in weeks. Mother put a near empty pack on her little back and the child grabbed her small stuffed animal. They were almost to town when Mother turned to her.
"T'kayedakam, listen very closely. You must follow everything I say."
She waited until the child looked in her eyes and nodded.
"It will be hard, but you may not speak to anyone, except to answer common greetings. You must stay close to me. No more than 3 meters away."
T'kayeda started to protest, but the look Mother gave quieted her in an instant.
"Yes, Mother." She responded unhappily.
Some of the others were going to town as well. All had bags for supply purchases. Those who stayed behind seemed to be busy cleaning up the camp, making it so nothing unnecessary was out of crates or bags. It was very solemn feeling. The atmosphere kept the child quiet and uneasy.

The group separated as soon as they were in the town. Some started general conversations with people they knew, while others went to the marketplace. T'kayeda's little backpack was soon full of root vegetables, a couple of blankets, some smaller medical supplies and a single pack of her favorite sweet treats. She was quiet, smiling shyly at the vendors and only speaking when spoken to. She was still too young to notice the people in the shadows or how some people seemed less friendly than before.

Then it happened. A military ship zoomed overhead and started dropping explosives. Another made a strafing run just as those shadows became soldiers. Someone in the town had betrayed their presence and beliefs. However, those who had betrayed forgot the Tal Shiar did not care who was around. If you had been in contact with the enemy in any way you were counted loss. People started screaming, started falling, started dying. Buildings exploded and the world turned into a haze of smoke mixed with the stentch of green blood burning. T'kayedas mother grabbed her and started dragging her down allies. Frightened by the sounds and her first sight of carnage, the child cried out. Mother hissed for her to be silent once, but when she cried again, Mother slapped her across the face. T'kayeda went silent. She was herded into a system of tunnels, around corners and through ancient grates for the next two days. All the time she could hear the whimpers of the injured. All the time she was forbidden to make a sound.

On the third day, they arrived in a large cave. It was there that the other survivors trickled in. Most of what was in the camp had been lost, but the one thing they really needed was unharmed. Above them, in a shallow dugout, sat a small cargo vessel. It had been carefully cloaked for months under the bedrock and a low level cloak. Only the deepest of scans would have picked it up. T'kayeda's Father was with it. He had picked the traumatized child up, holding her close as he showed her the ship.
"This is our new home, Daughter. It is better than the ship you were born on. We will be safer here, I promise."
She clung to him, knowing he would have been hard at work making sure his words would be the truth.

It was a freezing cold night two weeks later, when the enemy wasn't looking, that the escape from the colony planet happened. See, the reunificationists had connections too...