Varreth made no defense, then accepted all blame and dishonour. Oran nodded, “You are hereby stripped of title and family name. You will never return to your home or family. Now, on to other business,” he took a breath, “As of 40 solar cycles ago, the Empire is at war. Both ourselves and the Federation have come under assault from an unknown species, and they have been terrible in their fury. We also have reason to suspect that the alien fleets have assistance from the Dominion. Ordinarily we would confiscate your ship, but for all intents and purposes it is obsolete save for its cloak, and we have too few resources to man your vessel. For this reason you will be tasked to carry out reconnaissance activities under the directives of the Tal Shiar. Failure to comply will result in your execution. Is this understood?” Varreth replied, “Yes, but what of my crew?” “They are considered fugitives and criminals, we shall not abide their presence in Romulan stations or on planets. They are remanded to your custody, and must be controlled. Fail, and they will be terminated. Furthermore, I have transferred to your command a Tal Shiar operative who shall maintain your loyalties.”
Varreth returned to the ship, and moodily proclaimed to the crew, “No one do anything that seems questionable, especially Hogue. We are getting a Romulan operative on board, and I do not desire to stir her suspicions.” After receiving muted affirmations from the party, Varreth was alerted to the Romulan officer waiting to come aboard. “Sub-commander Liara reporting as ordered.” The female officer does not looked impressed at all to be present, and gives her qualifications when requested.
Emony, ever a ship’s engineer, anxiously asks, “Do we have any fuel?” Liara assess the ship’s stores, and requisitions some additional supplies, however due to war restrictions, is unable to obtain anything more than minimal quantities. The officer insists the crew wear Romulan military uniforms, to which Emony complains, “Is there anything Romulan that is less ridiculous? Cannot I just wear a jumpsuit?” Hogue immediately joins in, “I want a jumpsuit!” In a huff, the Tal Shiar officer requests replicator specifications for basic body armour then gives Varreth his first orders. As of now, Taban is no longer first officer, as Liara has taken his place. Varreth inquires as to the radioactive cargo the ship is carrying, but the officer shrugs him off.
18 days later, the ship arrives without incident in sector 2338 to begin their recon activities, but note incoming warp signatures. Varreth orders the cloak be brought online, and begins passive sensor sweeps of the incoming ships, which are unfamiliar. Then the incoming vessels move into visual range, and Hogue notes they look similar to the hostile ships that attacked while they party were Federation prisoners. The enemy ships race by, moving at speeds far beyond what the Demitus would be capable of. Report of contact with the enemy vessels is sent and Special Officer Oran orders the mission continue.
The ship departs, moving into position in enemy space for further recon and bringing up the cloak, only to detect a fleet of 36 ships incoming. Nervously, the crew notes the ships are heading to Federation space at warp 9, and at least five of them are larger than a Romulan Warbird. Suddenly, a power cascade ripples through the Demitus’ systems, and Emony tries to control the surge and prevent it from spreading. Varreth mutters, “Thirty-six,” and Taban finishes, “Thirty-six angry alien ships.” Emony manages to halt the cascade then shuts down the warp core and a small alien vessel drops out of warp while the rest continue.
The small vessel begins carefully probing the region, looking for what might have been a ship, employing an active search pattern. Another alien ship arrives and the two begin coordinating their search for the cloaked Demitus. Luckily, the hostile ships sweep over the Demitus without detecting them, and start moving past. Emony attempts a cold start of the warp core, and fails to achieve ignition, which results in brief particle emissions leaking from the cloak. She tries again, and brings the core online, but the alien ships stop moving. Tachyons are detected coming from the alien ships and Taban realizes that they are beginning to search for cloaked ships. First Officer Liara tries to plot the movements of the tachyon sweep and relays the information to the helm while Taban pilots the ship under cloak, dodging the first beam. Unfortunately the second beam scatters the cloak for a half-second, but that is all that they need. The ships start sprinting towards the Demitus.
Taban, beads of sweat forming on his neck, says, “We can’t outrun them, can’t outgun them, best we can do is hide.” Liara manages to find a dust cloud near their position and Taban sets a course, just as the alien ships begin firing spatial charges around the last known position of the Demitus. The ship manages to avoid the splash effects of the weapons, and makes it into the dust cloud, but the crew considers it too close for comfort.
The hostile ships stop shelling and re-energize their tachyon beams, searching for the missing ship. Taban moves out of the dust cloud and away from the prying ships, detecting two more vessels incoming. He manages to avoid detection and moves out of range of their sweep. Several hours later, the alien ships break off their search and vector away at warp 9.6. In a quiet voice, Taban asks Liara if they have permission to engage the alien ships. Liara looks at him, purses her lips and replies, “Inadvisable, but if you feel it to be necessary…”