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Posted on Sat Dec 24th, 2016 @ 1:57am by Ambassador Telhas thu'S'Terion Duke of Cheleb-Khor & Civilian Haqtaj Matlh

Mission: Trouble on the frontier
Location: Promenade
Timeline: After "Amends"

Telhas had witnessed the "discussion" of the Klingon Ambassador with that horribly arrogant merchant. To him, it was very important that everybody knew his or her place in society. The merchant obviously did not. And, much to Telhas' surprise, the impressive Klingon woman had not killed this man. She behaved as disciplined as it could be expected of royalty. She had earned the Romulan's respect without even knowing that she did.

Telhas followed her a few steps, his training in both agencies, the Tal Diann and the Tal Shiar was advantageous for this task. He witnessed her talk with Ambassador Temple from the shadows before he closed the gap and tried to remember her name from his briefings. "Lady Haqtaj Matlh, I presume?"

Haqtaj stopped for the second time, but now there was no mistaking who had spoken her name. She turned slowly, and acknowledged the Romulan man who stepped out of the shadows.

"It seems people are very keen to talk to me today," She responded in Romulan. Her accent was terrible, and gave away that she had dealings with a particular set of Romulans that Telhas knew were closely linked to the Tal Shiar. "While I am serving in my current capacity, Madam Ambassador is the formal term, I believe, or simply Ambassador Haqtaj. I do not wish to be identified as the Lady of House Matlh. That would cause... complications."

Telhas inclined his head with a polite smile, ignoring her accent. "Of course, Ambassador Haqtaj. Let me introduce myself. Telhas t'Cheleb-Khor thu'S'Terion, Senator and Ambassador." In a formal meeting with Romulans he would have mentioned all his titles, but here he skipped what he felt was unimportant for the Klingon. "But Ambassador Telhas or Senator Telhas will do. You honour me speaking my language. And I have to admit that I do not speak your language." His friend Varuh would be quite an asset now, he thought. Varuh was fluent in Klingon. Yet, he had to deal with the situation as it was. "You may wonder why I greet you right now. We have not been introduced to each other yet and I think it is a good idea to know thy peers. We may deal with each other from time to time."

Haqtaj considered for a moment, watching Telhas carefully.

"No," she said simply. "That is not your purpose. You phrase this as if it were a cordial introduction, paving the way for formal interaction, but you greet me from the shadows in a clandestine manner. You want our relationship to have connections that are not available through less than formal channels."

Telhas considered his reply for a moment before he bowed his head. "Very well. You are right, and pretty direct for a diplomat." Maybe he had spent too much time dealing with senators to be used to such an amount of honesty. It felt strange, and he caught himself feeling a little offended.

Haqtaj smiled, and shifted her language to a more colloquial style. Telhas realized she was playing him in some way, gauging his response to her speech and where his alliances may lie. He quickly checked back over what he had said to confirm he had not played any cards to early.

"Do not miss understand me, Ambassador. I am happy to maintain a less public discourse with you, and feel that there will be times where both our governments will be served by the Federation being unaware of such discussions."

"You are very direct. I value this," Telhas said, "And I am sure you do not mind if I talk to you exactly the same way. I know that we both share the same 'special' friends, or at least we shared them. I cannot say for sure how close your contact still is, and I do not care. It is your business, and not mine. However, they are special in different ways to each of us. They may appear as allies to you, but they are not really. They may appear like enemies to me, but I can assure you that I bear no grudge against them. Maybe they will ask you to take care of me, but you should be aware that they trained me extraordinary well. It may be a game to them, but I am not playing games." He was aware of the fact that he was talking like a field agent now.

"I am of House Matlh, and I serve the Klingon Empire, not the political agenda of the Sons and Daughters of Romulus. If the time comes to test ourselves against each other, it will not be at their beckoning. I am very careful of who I choose as an ally, because I believe in loyalty and honour. There are some 'Special friends' who have shown the same capacity. I look forward to seeing if you are one of them."

She switched suddenly to Federation, "My family runs regular trade and they still have flight permissions inside Romulan space, if you find you are in need of something the Federation are not able to procure, do let me know."

Telhas nodded appreciative. "Thank you for the offer. If the situation occurs, I will let you know." He talked in Federation now as well. And he was not yet sure how to judge this person in fornt of him.

Haqtaj turned her head to one side and considered the man again, "You have an interesting stance, Ambassador. You walk like a Tal Shiar, all predator, but you dress like Tal Diann, who favour the freedom of their arms. Yet you stand like a Federation officer, almost Vulcan. Your obviously intelligent, but you have calloused hands that come from grunt work other than holding a rifle in the military. Odd for someone who obviously has a wealthy background."

"There is nothing odd at all," Telhas replied with a polite smile, "I am Telhas, Lord of Clan S'Terion. But I have just recently changed my name to claim what is mine. My birthname was Valkis ir-Kae'raktar tr'Tellus. As House of Tellus, we have served the Romulan Empire as warriors and senators since it had been founded. Actually, Tellus was one of the founding members of the Imperial Senate. But if we take the history of Clan S'Terion into account, we have been warriors for more than six thousand years. Unlike most other houses of Romulus, we always valued our traditions. On ancient Vulcan, a man who was not able to work heavily did not mean much. The desert is an unforgiving place. On Romulus, we settled the Kae'raktar mountains. We were and are mountaineers and miners, regardless of our wealth. It is what we are. Beyond that, I strongly believe that you cannot lead a house of mountaineers and miners without knowing their work in detail. And yes, I may stand like a Vulcan officer. I am much closer to a Vulcan warlord before the Time of Awakening than to a modern Romulan senator. This is the reason why I am talking that open and honest to you." Then he whispered "What about you, Ambassador?"

"What about me, Ambassador?" Haqtaj replied in kind, aware that Telhas was implying something but not entirely sure what he was hunting for.

"What are you, Ambassador?" Telhas said with a low voice, "Do you represent your House as it had been in its best times, or as it is now? What kind of person are you?"

Haqtaj face went hard. A world of emotion played behind her eyes; anger, frustration, despair, regret.

"House Matlh is not the presence it once was in the Empire. We do not command the fleets we once possessed. Our Honour is just as strong, though. We honour our commitments, and support our alliances. Cousin YIghegh leads the house, and where he leads I follow."

She took a deep breath and continued with pain in her voice, "I grieve the loss of my ancestors; my mother, grandfather, and further back. Under their leadership we shaped the Empire. Now we represent it, and it's politics shape our house."

She straightened up, "ToH! It is as it is, but not how it needs to be. I intend to work where I can to rebuild my house and it's legacy. Does that answer your real question?"

Telhas nodded. "It does. I think I got a better impression of the person you are, and I hope this is mutual. We have more in common than expected, indeed enough to consider you a peer. We are both higher nobility, and both our Houses have a great history. This was a good talk, maybe we should meet again and continue this. Unless you have anything to debate right now."

Haqtaj shook her head, "No. This has been an eventful stroll. I have learned much more than I bargained about many cultures. I look forward to our next meeting, Ambassador."

Haqtaj bowed slightly, not taking her eyes of Telhas. He knew enough to understand this was not a sign of distrust, but respect.

Telhas understood and returned an appreciative nod. "So do I, Ambassador."


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