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Romulan Imperial Frontier

The lumbering Orion transport dropped from warp to impulse. The captain knew better than run through this particular patch of space without caution. He had the distinct feeling he was being watched, and he didn't have to wait long to have his instincts confirmed. Less than two kilometers from his bow, Romulan D'Deridex and Valdore class warbirds shimmered out of cloak and armed their weapons.

"Orion vessel," the captain of the D'Deridex said over hailing frequencies. "You have entered the stellar exclusion zone of the Romulan Star Empire. Do not attempt to proceed without authorization or you will be fired upon. State your vessel designation, cargo, and destination for authentication."

"Romulan vessels," the Orion captain said trying to conceal his unease at two armed warships pointed directly at his hull. "We are the Orion Slave Ship Nialam. 432 slaves aboard en route for sale at the markets on Iberius."

Silence. The captain exchanged nervous glances with his first officer. Finally, the voice of the Romulan captain boomed through their speakers again.

"Slave Ship Nialam, identity and manifest are confirmed. You are approved for entry into the Romulan Star Empire. Do not exceed Warp 5 while in Romulan territory or deviate from your pre-approved course. We wish you a safe voyage traveling beneath the Raptor's Wing. Jolan Tru."

The transmission disconnected and the two Romulan vessels disappeared again behind their cloaking shields. The captain grinned and turned to his helmsman.

"The gods are merciful today," he chuckled. "Set course of Iberius, Warp 5."

"Yes Sir," the green skinned operator said reactivating the Nialam's engines.

****

In the dark, humid hold beneath their feet, a Sarcassan man huddled in a dirty corner. It was the only space he could find in the putrid, suffocating stink caused by several hundred frightened individuals crammed into this ancient hulk for their forced voyage across the galaxy. In his lap, a child bawled from the merciless combination of hunger and terror. The father purred through his gills in a valiant, but utterly futile attempt to calm the little girl he rocked in his arms. Her cries were ignored by all the men and women around them. Normally, a child's pain would illicit sympathy from most sentient species. However, no one had any sympathy left to give. It was the first sign their humanity was being ripped away.

The Sarcassan called out in silent prayer for deliverance from this hell, but received no response from any of his ancestors. He didn't even know how much longer he would be able to hold his daughter before she would be taken. He had never felt so weak and powerless in his entire life.

Suddenly, a man appeared from the crowd and bent down on one knee. He reached out a weathered, blue hand and began stroking the fur on top of the little girl's head. The father had no idea why, but somehow the stranger's yellow eyes blunted the terrible pain coursing through his body. The Gralluscan also seemed to have a similar effect on his daughter. The girl quieted down enough to look into his face.

"Are you afraid?" Rellas said softly as he smiled. She slowly nodded. "Then let me tell you the story of a man who taught us how to conquer our fear…"


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