by Lt Col Bruce O’Brien
by Lt Col Bruce O’Brien
I sat there and watched him carefully. He would have guessed that he was being observed on the monitors, but I could tell that he sensed that someone was watching him right there and then.
And I have to confess, I was still impressed with what I saw.
Sure he had that same haughty expression of all Romulans – looking around him as if there was a bad smell in the room, with that stern, unchanging demeanour that gave no sign, no evidence that he was actually alone and a prisoner of his people’s enemy. But it was his stature, the way he held himself erect, refusing to sit – head held high and face and jaw steely taut, yet hinting at some form of inner bemusement at his predicament that impressed me most.
At his disarming and capture he had appeared resigned yet undefeated, slowly lowering his useless weapon as if challenging the Marines surrounding him to admit that he wasn’t really giving up the fight, merely acknowledging that his weapon would no longer fire. He had been outnumbered and severely outgunned but there had been no doubting his skill, evidenced by the two dead soldiers on the ground in front of him.
So what was he thinking now, I wondered. So far, all we knew of him was his name and his rank - Arrain Durnah ir’Kihai t’Nanclus, which we knew to mean he was saying he was Captain Durnah from the City of Kihai and of the House Nanclus. A fairly standard and expected response and once he had surrendered and the aggression had settled within, he appeared calm, controlled and utterly focussed.
He had just stood there while my men had first searched him then attached the wrist restraints to lead him away.
Even then he had given me the impression that he hadn’t really surrendered to us, that our capture of him was merely an interruption into whatever was going to happen next.
I knew enough of Romulan culture to allow him the privilege of respect and politeness, this despite the fact that he had personally killed two of my men and wounded one other. And so I had approached him without hesitation, holding my self erect and keeping my eyes locked onto his as I drew near him, albeit with a slight smile of satisfaction visible on my face.
I had greeted him formally and acknowledged his surrender, enquiring if he had been hurt and then asking his name. The answer given was only as I had expected to be – name and rank.
It came as a polite but stiff response – so very different to that which we had been given earlier in the day from the solider we had almost captured.
Wounded and dying, he had cursed us as we approached him, calling us “klle” or “worms”, as he lay there in the dust coughing his blood onto the front of his uniform, then dying without making another sound.
So this Romulan Captain had intrigued me from that first moment. His green uniform was dirty and stained and yet he carried himself as if stepping off a parade ground. Surely the sign of a student of the Rhetor, the Romulan War College famed for turning out well-trained, well-disciplined officers. “Show no sign of defeat” written all over his face. And we all knew well enough to keep our weapons trained on him. The Romulan training for unarmed combat was well respected even by some of my toughest Marines.
It was obvious that he was not going to answer any questions, so we had beamed back to the ship and taken him to the brig, where he was now - still standing as he had been for the last hour, hands clasped behind his back. I knew more about him than he would have thought, and so his manner, bearing and ‘style’ did not surprise me in the least.
I had been careful with him, cautiously ensuring that he gained no feeling of loss of honour or pride. I had made a few light comments about how “difficult it had been to capture him” and “I was sorry that he had had to lose so many of his men”.
There had been no answer – I hadn’t really expected one.
Three days of evasion and nasty skirmishes amongst the rocks had taken its toll on all of us really.
This last band of fugitives from a doomed Romulan military excursion in the Carraya System, where they had planned to establish a secret ‘listening post’ to monitor traffic on the Romulan side of the Neutral Zone, had eluded our efforts to winkle them out and having destroyed their last chance of escape, it was simply a matter of time before we had captured them all.
But it had not been easy. We needed answers as to what the Empire had planned and so we needed prisoners. Not an easy task with Romulans who consider death is much more preferable to dishonour.
But we had our man, and by my reckoning, the best catch of them all.
I figured it was time to get some answers, so I stepped out of the side observation room and into the main security office and walked over to the cell holding our prisoner. His eyes swept my face and locked onto mine. It was time to end this little game.
And of course my words startled him. He tried to hide it but I caught the flash of surprise in his eyes as I spoke “And so Captain Durnah. Does your Commander know who you really are? Would he be very surprised to learn that his most loyal and trusted officer was really an agent of the Tal Shiar?”
A smile crossed my lips. The Tal Shiar considered themselves to be masters at interrogation techniques using mind control, but this Starfleet Marine had just won the first round…….