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Certain it is and sure: love burns, ale burns, fire burns, war burns, and politics burns. But cold is life without them.
-an old Romulan proverb
General Radek stepped out of the shuttle onto a snow-covered terrace. The sovereign of Nua Breizh was there, waiting to greet him. Radek's breath froze in the cold air as he exhaled. Lacy flakes were gently falling, landing in his hair and on his uniform. Lady Guinevere Allaire stood among the descending particles. She looked weary, but her chestnut eyes had not lost any of their previous fire. She looked more like a regent now, in her regal cloak. Radek could just make out her tiara underneath her hood.
"General Radek," she greeted.
"Lady Allaire," he bowed in return. She is so young, the Romulan veteran suddenly realized. Or perhaps he was just getting old.
"Please walk with me to the garden, while we make the arrangements for your repairs." It was not a request, and Radek could tell from the look in her eyes that there was something else she urgently wanted to tell him. Obediently, he followed her. He courteously offered her his arm, and she accepted without hesitation.
"It is a shame that you have come in the winter, as it does not show our city to its best advantage," she said casually as they rounded the corner. Before he answered, she lifted her wrist to reveal a jeweled bracelet. She pushed one of the jewels, which started flashing. It was no ordinary piece of jewelry. "This will allow us to speak freely, but only for a few moments. We are under Dominion occupation, General. You must leave now before you are captured."
"We did not detect any ships," he said in surprise.
"Their warp signatures are hidden by our moon's gravity," she explained. "There is not much time. Go, before it's too late."
"What will happen to you, Milady?" he asked. Though she was the wife of his daughter's murderer, he no longer placed unjustified blame on her.
"They no doubt plan to interrogate and execute me," she said, holding her chin up spiritedly, "but they will not get the chance. We are revolting tonight." She smiled cunningly. "The poor Cardassians. They thought the Bajorans had given them trouble. Before dawn, they will rue the day they ever heard of Nua Breizh."
"You are a courageous woman," the Romulan general said, "and you have earned my respect and admiration. I wish you success." His former opinion that humans were treacherous scum, which was primarily the result of Tasha Yar's unfaithfulness to him, was now changed.
As Radek had predicted, the Dominion would indeed save him the trouble of exacting his revenge on Bochra. Radek despised the man, and now he was rightfully going to pay for what he had done. Yet, it was a hollow triumph. His respect for this woman had stayed his hand from directly carrying out his vengeance personally. She had endured much, and he had not been able to bring himself to cause her more pain merely because the man she loved was his enemy. He was getting soft in his old age, he realized.
"General," she said hesitatingly, "I wonder if you would consent to do a favor for me."
"Name it," he said, for he did not wish to see her humble herself.
"Would you please deliver a message to my husband?" she asked, her eyes filled with sorrow. She was asking a great deal. Now Radek truly had no need for retribution. The fact that it would be his enemy who conveyed his fair lady's last words to him would be torture enough for Bochra. Radek's avengement would be complete.
"For you, I would consider it a privilege," he said.
Lady Allaire smiled gratefully as her eyes shined with tears. None of the moisture escaped, however. "Tell him," she said, keeping her voice even, "that I went to my death bravely. And that, he is the only man I have ever truly loved."
The elder nodded. "Swear it, Radek," she pleaded.
"As a Romulan officer, I swear to deliver your message exactly, my Lady. And," he added gently, "be assured that I will not make any retaliation toward your consort." He really was getting sentimental, wasn't he?
"Thank you," she said softly.
"Lady Allaire," a deep male voice called from inside the building.
"It's Gul Trepar," she hissed in alarm. "You must go now!"
It was loathsome to leave her there at the disposal of some Cardassian swine, but Radek knew that the lady would not consent to abandon her people. If he did not leave, others of the Allies might fall into the trap. Every warship was needed if they were to have any chance of winning this war. War burns, she had once reminded him. It was ironic that this young human woman was the one who was teaching him, a weathered Romulan soldier, about the realities of life.