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The last princess of Jaleyl wakes up.

The future looms large, and the present diminishes. Father disagrees. "Every moment is equally significant," he says, "if you miss but a single step on the road forward, you will fall, and be lost forever."

Yet, forty-ninth princess of the crown of Jaleyl is not a position that grants her such a path to risk falling from. Seventy-third in line for the throne, and if father suppresses the rebellions he may rule another thousand years yet. If he doesn't, the empire will crumble here and now. Without his reputation and momentum, it will take centuries' more war to rebuild a kingdom worthy of the name, let alone an empire. There will not be such an opportunity. The strongest psions are comparable in strength to the efforts of whole cities. With such an imbalance, there is little benefit to political unity that does not put the emperor himself firmly on your side.

But T'Khasi is not the only planet. Telescopes and farseers can provide scant detail, but what they do see suggests metal and water, in quantities as-great, if not greater, than T'Khasi itself. T'Khasi, perhaps, is poor.

Several valuable opportunities are presented. If other life exists in the broader galaxy, it would not do to negotiate from such a poor position. More personally, young prodigies are worth little when all positions of value have been filled for centuries by experienced ancients. Except for colonial projects, where no staff can be assigned that might be needed elsewhere, but where talent and mastery of the five core psionic disciplines is critically essential.

And surprisingly, the other imperial heirs are less convinced. They will weather the coming storms with their homeworld and empire, and she will be governor. If she survives. The journey is set to take eighty years, and she will be in cryosleep for most of it. If the experimental drive fails to achieve its full speed, she could be asleep for centuries. There are five generations of maintenance staff ready to be woken in turn, if this proves necessary. The other colonists will sleep with her, a few thousand in total. She memorizes them all, though she'll be woken during the approach to finalize the deployment plan. Their destination is not yet firm, and they will continue making scans and transmitting details home until they find a candidate which is compelling to approach.

Time to prepare for sleep. A few minds are well-enough known to be touched even from orbit. Goodbyes for father, and some preferred siblings and colleagues. Check integrity of blueprints and design algorithms, all stable. Switch the crown to low-power mode, where it should be able to last indefinitely. And it's time to see what the future brings.

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Moments pass.

The Koon Heya leaves orbit, T'Khasi fades from view, the small flash of another nuclear detonation being the last any member of the crew sees of the surface of their home before the singularity reactor takes them into sub-space.


More moments pass.

The waking crew of the Koon Heya are the first of their people to observe a subspace shockwave. They are unable to tell others about it though, as the ship is torn apart at the edge of warp speed. When the edge of the shockwave makes contact with the ship's singularity, the rest of the ship is shattered and shot off in all directions at speeds that the Koon Heya's designers would have thought ludicrous.


Many moments later.

The cryopod has gradually slowed to sublight speeds. In this time it has gathered layers of dust and traveled from what the occupant's people would call the Alpha Quadrant into the distant Gamma Quadrant.

Ships pass in the moments. Strange designs, from alien peoples, and eventually stranger ones from her own. None of these take much notice of another stone passing through space.

But the stone is noticed at one point, and one of these strange alien ships brings her aboard, and brings her through a wormhole to their own homeworld, far closer to T'Khasi than she has been for centuries.


The majority of the ship's samples make it through the Order's inspection, a handful of samples, including the largest are redirected to research libraries in the Munda'ar sector of Cardassia City. Two of the expedition's scientists were also transferred to assist in researching these samples.

The largest sample is cleaned, and its true contents are discovered. Months are spent researching the pod in an attempt to interpret the controls and identify the occupant, before the conclusion is reached. She comes from a lost history. Any record of her life was destroyed centuries ago, in the wars that ripped her homeworld apart, with horrible weapons since lost and hidden. Exactly what the Cardassian Union needs, invaded by Klingons and threatened by the Dominion.

She wakes in a dark curved room, alone.


Fuzzy. Painful. Pinpricks of poor circulation. Outside expected margins? Maybe. Hard to tell with thoughts this disjointed. Deep breaths, relax the circulatory system. Heart rate low, boost it a bit. Doctors will interrupt if it causes damage.

No doctors readily apparent. Dark? Eyes are damaged, but not that badly. No immediate light sources, no minds reaching out.

Wait, inner eyelids working? Blinking is painful, both layers. No sign of dim light or short wavelengths.

Proprioception isn't working. Psionic senses can confirm whole body is present. Pod is not. Feels like...a chair? Partially embedded in a chair. Maybe restraints? Less metal than expected, ceiling feels like stone. So not the ship, they've reached a destination.


The lights begin to come up gradually, and a section of the wall splits into a door. Two Cardassian women walk in, one pulls out a scanner and begins examining R'vneh, the other sits in a chair positioned in front of her.

"Jolan tru visitor." She leans back, allowing the light to catch her forehead scales, reflecting off her grey-blue skin.

"This one is Gul Ocett of the Cardassian Union, the healer is Abbess Calan. She has learned of the Romulan doctoring traditions, but please inform us if your existence is crumbling. This is assuredly a perplexing situation for you, and we will be willing to answer what questions you may have. We are not of you, and have dueled time to review your ability."

"This one would like to recognize you?"


Figures. Blurry. Door, also blurry. Eyes, then. Trigger tears to accelerate their repair.

Minds, dim. Hard to notice when they aren't right here. Weak, like animals? ...Maybe. But maybe also blurry. Or distorted? No legible emotions, even at this range. Possible brain damage? Need to self-assess, once practical.

Voices, grating. Higher urgency, aren't they. Prioritization is going poorly. Relax blood vessels in brain a bit further.

Cardassian Union. Some sort of guild? Healer and doctoring are promising, but it sounds like they expect "Romulan" to be meaningful? Hopefully existence is not actively crumbling, preliminary assessment suggests acceptable stability. Didn't expect cryosleep to be fun.

...A response is expected. Prioritization still difficult.


As is speaking. Maybe a whisper?

"experiencing context breach. need glucose. and water? my priority. your priority?"


Gul Ocett stands and walks to the room's small replication unit.

"One serving aytlik broth." She returns with a large mug of vegetable soup and a small spoon which she then offers to R'vneh.

"Of course yes. We are expectant of this. We must maintain patience for preparedness. Context is lacking for all, new oration can productively join the scheme and will rally the speaking with unheard clans."

Doctor Calan completes her scans and leaves the room.

"This one will return before a bloodwing can take flight. Please consume."


Uh, soup? Smells like soup. Soup works, better hydration source than expected.

Soup helps a lot. Salt reserves weren't getting low, but carbohydrates and water are both necessary to finish regenerating. Focus on eyes and brain, for the moment.

They expected confusion. Also communication difficulties? And this isn't the ship. Could have been a lot longer than expected, long enough for linguistic drift. Perhaps issues with the cryopod? Or they could be natives of the destination. Aliens. Did they look like aliens? Hard to tell, check again when they get back.

Mind is feeling a bit better, time to branch. Possibilities:

Brain damage. Maybe the cryopods cause it. Difficulty communicating because (everyone/me) is disabled relative to pre-cryosleep. Predicts that thoughts won't get much more coherent, emotion sense won't improve because that's all there is to see, existing leadership is nonetheless worse than I can manage.

Significant delay before waking from cryopod. Other colonists have been experiencing cultural evolution without maintaining perfect records of original language. Possibly original colonists or a later ship. Predicts unexpected technology level, more likely higher than lower. Predicts personal historical significance, does not predict obedience except if political stability is lower than T'Khasi. Many opportunities for leverage, but rushing would be dangerous.

Aliens. Probably didn't capture the ship in-transit. They would have worked out communications with the maintenance staff or computers before opening cryopods. Suggests no unfrozen survivors. Either the ship never made it, or the colony failed to wake the pods and died out. Poor but comprehensible translation due to computer being damaged? Or perhaps past communication with other T'Khasans that have experienced cultural evolution. Bloodwings are known birds, implies they have some limited cultural context. Many free variables. Interest in opening cryopod suggests curiosity and lack of omniscience. Did not insist focus remain on their questions, weak evidence for charity or generosity. Early statement of questions suggests they expect valuable information but are willing to delay retrieving it to improve current comfort or survival-odds. Suggests limited resources, but not critically so. Remarkably similar to T'Khanans. Physical structure looked similar as well. Weak evidence against whole hypothesis branch. Predicts any number of things, but probably that they're confused, that they have highly unpredictable abilities, and that there's no backup available outside their terms.

Finished with the soup. Thoughts and eyes are working better, evidence against brain damage. Would be nice to drop into healing trance, but the minds outside the door are stirring again. They must be observing the room. Better to stay conscious until events are more clear.


Gul Ocett returns with a small box. She sets it down on a small table close to the door, before bringing the entire table closer to the two chairs.

"This one has also brought an indulgence." She takes the now empty soup mug back to the replicator, "One gelat and one red leaf tea." The prior mug vanishes, leaving two more in its wake.

Ocett arranges the two mugs on the table, the red leaf in easy reach of R'vneh, as she busies herself disassembling the box to reveal the fresh ikri buns inside.

"This one, with a minimum of deceit, takes great joy in well-built singular ikri buns." With the box out of the way, Ocett returns to her seat and takes a long sip of her gelat before selecting one of the buns.

"Abbess Calan relayed to this one that the mind and form sound as if fully intact. Thence, this one can opine that the speaking with unheard clans is stunted, unspeaking of your speech. We possess several priority, eloquence is momentarily first."


More food. Dry. Smells sweet. Good, scent is working better. Probably a pastry? Flavorful, taste is also working acceptably.

"Eloquence is momentarily first priority. Understood."

Tea and pastry are not recognized flavors. Alien? Plausibly. The figures would be...odd T'Khasans. Strange color, strange texture. Short, especially in the torso. Neck is very wide. But not as different as had been hypothesized. And on the other hand, more divergent than evolution would produce over plausible timeframes. The cryopods could not have protected a body for even a hundred thousand years, and the kind of society that could save a serious preservation failure after so long would not not make these translation errors.

"My condition has improved. I value your assistance in this. Would it be preferable for me to describe my language, or to study yours?"


"The language you hear is being provided by a piece of computer software, it is highly ductile and tumbles languages quickly, now you will speak extra, it must mirror the dialect you are using warily. Please speak on the thoughts on the breeze."

Gul Ocett finishes the last bite of her ikri bun and her posture shifts to conceal the buns from her main vision.

"Is there thought or material I can bring you?"


"Should I try to speak many different words? Or to speak a few words in different ways? Or to correct the translator? I am not fully recovered, I would prefer to be efficient. If you have standard material that I should read, I can do that. Or I could name pictures, or moving videos."


"Well, for example, is there anything we can do to make you more recovered? Would just water and glucose be preferable? Doctor Calan and the others who helped wake you commended the broth, but if their choosing was perverse, we can find either what you require or something resembling."


"The soup worked well, thank you. It will take time to integrate the fluids and energy, but I can speak while recovering. I don't think you mean 'perverse', you probably mean 'mistaken'. I didn't understand what you meant before, either, by the computer being 'ductile'. Do you just mean 'adaptable'? Is this helpful? How much more do I need to talk?"


"Hmmm. The translation is still quite rough, I can't imagine what sort of nonsense you've been hearing everywhere. I regret that we were insufficient to acquire more translation data on Old High Vulcan, but the current state of military readiness does complicate many things."

Gul Ocett takes another long sip of her gelat, "I believe we've made enough progress for now if you'd like some time to rest, I apologize that I cannot yet offer to release you from your seat, but according to Dr. Calan's assessment your body is not yet equipped to support itself regardless."


Strangely fast for the translation quality to improve! Is that really all they needed?

"Cannot" is interesting language, and might at this point be meaningful. The chair is comfortable but does have restraints. Wouldn't have figured them for a prisoner's shackles, they're only barely outside the limits of unaugmented strength. Not that the door is much better. It would pose a challenge to a non-psion? ...Are none of these people psions? It might explain the muteness of their minds. Weak even compared with the fully untrained, though. Might be even weaker than that. Not yet a safe conversation topic.

"I confess surprise that you were able to do this well! I can guess at the 'old' and the 'high' in the title, but can you speak more of 'Vulcan'? After that I agree I should rest. Seems a shame to sleep now, but I think I may need it."


"Your biology and appearance allowed us to identify you as either a Romulan or a Vulcan, there are some very slight differences between the two peoples, which neither is willing to explain to other species."

"The history that they are willing to share is that Vulcan is the homeworld of both these species, as well as a few others that have met with greater genetic variation. Near 2000 years ago there was a great schism of the wings, the Sundering, during which many colony ships departed. Many of these ships were lost or destroyed, and the majority of records from the period were destroyed as well."

"There was a specific convoy of ships, the survivors of which eventually settled the planets now known as Romulus and Remus. Once they were well established on their new worlds, the settlers of Romulus started an interstellar empire which my own people have been allied with for some time now. Once you are feeling better we can supply you with historical texts."


Two thousand years. Several! Loss of historical records is unfortunately plausible. Any technological loss has likely been recovered at this point, given the continued presence of interstellar ships. Unlikely they could have decided the cryopod was produced less than a few centuries ago, so the existence of Romulans as an interstellar force must also have that much history. Interesting that this culture emphasizes their diplomatic relations with the Romulans but not the Vulcans. Perhaps the Romulans were capable of greater coordination efforts? Maybe because of lower resource scarcity on Romulus than T'Khasi.

"This context is helpful, thank you. It would be preferable for me to rest now, I think. I expect to be more capable of holding a conversation in a few hours. Is there anything you would like before I sleep?"


Gul Ocett begins clearing the table, "Could you confirm your name for me? It will simplify my reports substantially."


"Of course! I am R'vneh, Daughter of Sudoc, Princess of Jaleyl. Last princess, it would seem."


Ocett deposits the remnants of their snack in the replicator.

"I mentioned earlier, but I am Gul Ocett. Thank you Princess R'vneh." she performs a small nod of the head that seems intended as a bow.

"Lights on or off?"


"On. I should give my eyes a bit more opportunity to adjust. Thank you."


"Certainly." The door slides open, and swiftly shuts behind her.


Once outside the room, Ocett rushes down the hall, collecting a crowd quickly behind her. She gathers the facility's staff in a briefing room.

"This announcement will be made again in a written form for those currently on monitoring duty. Starting four hours from now, no one without anti-telepath training will be permitted within 100 meters of the subject."

"Based on current data she appears to be a pre-Sundering Vulcan, and an immediate relative of the most violent individual in the known Vulcan-Romulan pre-history. Her recovery is already 40% faster than our estimates predicted, and that is without the healing trance that was included in most estimates."

"I will require the assistance of all department heads in preparing a report for Chief Executor Rejal in my office in ten minutes, take this time to instruct those below you in the implementation of these precautions."

As the room erupts behind her, Ocett walks across the hall to her office and throws herself into her desk chair. This is not what her archaeology and xenobiology degrees were for.

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