“The Fields of Asphodel”

Stardate 75286.1; April 15, 2398

 

Episode 80

 

Written by Chris Adamek

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romulus was dead.

 

It had been a slow, painful death, certainly not one that would soon be forgotten.  The origins could be traced back several decades, to a time when the very mention of the Romulans struck fear into the hearts of billions—to a time when the Romulan Star Empire was a force to be reckoned with.  But a few disparate, seemingly innocuous events slowly set forth a chain of events that would spell the Romulans’ doom.

 

Many agree that the cogs of fate began to turn at the outset of a brief, but bloody alliance with the Klingons during the twenty-third century.  The fruits of the alliance bared not only new technologies for the two empires, but introduced them to new ways of life.

 

The Klingons had once been an honorable warrior race—but after centuries of warfare, the honorable aspect fell by the wayside, leaving little more than heartless warriors bent on conquest.  However, interaction with the Romulans restored the Klingons’ faith in honor and tradition.  They returned to the more honorable ways of old, a transition that paved the way for better relations with the Federation—and the end of the alliance with the Romulans…

 

And while the Klingons and the Federation became strange bedfellows, the Romulans inherited the Klingon bloodlust.  They knew the unholy alliance of their greatest nemeses could spell their doom, and they subsequently entered a great period of isolation that culminated into the ultimate killing machine: D’deridex-class Romulan warbird.  When the era of seclusion ended, the Romulans were suddenly a force to be reckoned with… But this was hardly common knowledge.  In fact, outside of the Neutral Zone, very little was known about the Romulans… and that worked to their advantage.  If knowledge was power, then to be unknown was to be unconquerable…

 

In the years that followed, the Romulans plotted and schemed their way to galactic dominance, even going so far as to covertly invade the Federation under the guise of peaceful unification with Vulcan.  They manipulated the Duras sisters during the Klingon Civil War and attempted to collapse the Bajoran Wormhole.  But it was the joint Romulan/Cardassian invasion of the Gamma Quadrant that marked the beginning of the end…

 

Much of the Romulan fleet was decimated during the assault on the Founders’ Homeworld.  The Romulans didn’t fare much better in the subsequent war with the Dominion, and the Romulan flagship was obliterated by the Jem’Hadar in the Chin’toka System.  By the end of the war, things were looking grim on Romulus, but it was Shinzon’s hostile takeover of the Senate that put the Empire into a freefall.

 

Despite numerous attempts to make peace with the Federation after the Shinzon incident, their strained relationship only suffered as tensions along the neutral zone increased.  Colonies annexed during the Dominion War were a continued point of contention, and before long, Romulus was a world besieged by war…

 

Lacking a strong leadership, the Romulan front crumbled after two years of heated conflict.  Control of the annexed colonies was subsequently returned to the Federation, the Romulan descent continued, and by the time the Elorg War reached its conclusion, the Romulans’ reign was over.

 

In the closing days of the conflict, the Elorg took it upon themselves to rid the universe of the Romulans.  Every Romulan starship was destroyed, the vast majority of the Romulan colonies were attacked, and the very heart of the Romulan Star Empire—Romulus—was reduced to little more than a smoldering sphere of ash.

 

 

 

…Romulus was dead…

 

 

 

A thick, sooty haze hung in the acrid air, entombing the few decrepit buildings that remained in an eternal darkness.  Mountains of twisted metal and singed debris beleaguered the once pristine cityscape, spreading from one horizon to the other in an endless plain of death. 

 

Near the heart of the destruction stood the blackened and charred remains of the Romulan Senate.  Once a majestic arena of diplomacy, the Senate building was now little more than a dilapidated shell of its former self.  The upper tiers of the Senate were completely gone, as was the roof and much of the north wing.  It now resided on the ground in a mess of twisted metal, shattered bulkheads, and dusty skeletons…

 

But this death and destruction was not the end of Romulus.  In fact, it heralded a new beginning…

 

In the far corner of the decrepit Romulan Senate, a lone ray of sunshine penetrated the dark skies above.  Though thick with dust and other sooty particles, the golden light nevertheless managed to fall upon the first signs of rebirth: a tiny aruul plant, slowly unfurling its green leaves for the first time… 

 

It was an historic moment for Romulus—but at the same time, a stark reminder of the fallen empire’s history.

 

A large, booted foot suddenly fell upon the tiny plant, crushing its delicate leaves and embedding them deep into the grimy debris.  The boot belonged to a large Nausicaan, and as he stepped into the Romulan Senate, he did so with little regard for his surroundings.  He briefly surveyed the area, and once satisfied that all was well, the Nausicaan motioned for his companions to follow.

 

Two smaller Nausicaans promptly appeared at the leader’s side, dragging behind them a large black case marked in Nausicaan text.

 

“Excellent work.”  The utterly neutral voice echoed ominously throughout the vacant Senate, and for a moment, the Nausicaan leader was unsure where it came from.  But after a moment, a tall shadowy figure appeared at the northern end of the ruins, between two broken spires that used to form a doorway.  “Were you able to get everything we requested?”

 

The Nausicaan leader grunted his affirmation.  “At a great cost,” he boasted, carefully watching the Romulan emerge from the shadows.

 

“I would like to inspect the merchandise,” the Romulan said, gently coughing as he inhaled a breath of rancid air.

 

The Nausicaan shook his head.  “Everything is there,” he loudly insisted.  “And once I receive payment, you are more than welcome to inspect goods.”

 

“Payment…” The word rolled off the Romulan’s tongue more like an afterthought than anything else.  And as he raised his disruptor, it became quite clear that the lethargic sentiment was indeed an afterthought.

 

A beam of green light suddenly streaked across the Senate, casting the wasteland in an ominous jade light that seemed to hang in the air long after the three Nausicaans fell over dead.  But if he noticed the haunting illumination, the Romulan showed no sign of it.  His attention was focused entirely upon the sleek black case the Nausicaans had so kindly delivered—and he smiled in its presence.

 

Little did he know, he was being watched…

 

 

 

“The Nausicaans have delivered the supplies,” said Lokor quietly as he returned to base camp deep in the caverns below the surface.

 

The statement should have been welcome news.  Jerras and her followers had been waiting anxiously for the Nausicaan shipment for many weeks, and its arrival heralded a new beginning for the Romulans.  But there was something in the tone of Lokor’s voice that Jerras found most distressing.  She slowly rose from the relative comfort of her rock, and approached the young man.  “Where are the supplies?” she inquired.

 

Lokor hesitated for only a moment before finding the words necessary to convey his thoughts.  “The Nausicaans are dead,” he muttered.  “The supplies have been intercepted.”

 

Jerras frowned.  “By whom?” she angrily demanded, though the answer came to her racing mind the very moment the words left her mouth.  “The Tal Shiar?”

 

Lokor nodded.  “The agent was not clad in standard Tal Shiar garb,” he nervously explained.  “And my view of the exchange was limited by the atmospheric conditions… But the weapon he used to dispose of the Nausicaans was clearly issued by the Tal Shiar.”  He exchanged a nervous glance with Jerras.  “What are we going to do now?”

 

Grim as it might have seemed, Jerras was more than prepared for the situation.  She knew her plans would not go unseen by the watchful eye of the Tal Shiar; in fact, she had long ago expected them to intercept a shipment of goods.  She simply had to adjust her plans accordingly.  “We are left with few choices,” she whispered quietly.  “We must contact the Federation…”

 

 

 

 

Proceed to Chapter One

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