Commander Suran, once captain of the warbird Soterus, now lives as a gentleman farmer on the planet Talvath. Talvath has recently petitioned for Federation protection, which is what brings me here to interview him. He is the highest ranking military officer on the planet, and has indeed become something of an elder statesman. His intimate knowledge of Romulan politics, and involvement within definitive political events dating back to the conflict with Praetor Shinzon, makes him an even more important source of information. He smiles at me, offering me a glass of water as we sit on the porch of his sprawling ranch.
I know why you’re here. (He tilts his own glass at me) Oh, you may say it’s to gather information and determine whether your Federation will accept us. But you have all the same questions everyone else does.
What questions would those be?
You want to know about Donatra, of course, the missing Empress*. If only she hadn’t disappeared, how different everything would be! (he speaks in a higher pitch, clearly mimicking someone) Romulans would still be strong, still be a power to reckon with in the Universe! (he laughs) Well, I’m afraid I will disappoint you. They’re right, you see. If Donatra had lived, everything would be different. I can’t tell you if we would have been able to avoid all the catastrophes that befell us, but we would be a much stronger people.
I’m afraid, as well, that I can’t tell you where she’s gone. If I could, believe me, I would have sought her out long since.
There are rumors that the two of you had a falling out.
Falling out? Pah! We disagreed a time or two. And that rumor she had me killed? Clearly exaggerated. She did threaten to kill me, but true friendship is a bond that survives death threats. (he laughs) She was a firebrand. No, a comet, flaring brilliantly in the night sky.
Now, I know you have other questions for me. You want to know about those days after Shinzon died, and good riddance to him. And you likely have a question or two about our erstwhile Praetor Tal’aura. Everything that needs saying has been said when it comes to Shinzon and what he did to Romulus. (he stops speaking, staring off into the distance)
Ah, forgive me. These are strange times. It is hard to realize that the glory of the empire is gone. It is even, at times, unthinkable. And yet.
What of Praetor Tal’aura?
(He puts his glass down on the table, leans towards me conspiratorially) I shall tell you something – something I would never have dared to say were Donatra still here. Tal’aura did us all a favor when she killed General Braeg.
You’re shocked. (he smiles) Of course you’re shocked.
You have publically condemned her for General Braeg’s execution.
Many times, indeed. And it was an atrocious thing, and I fully believe she deserved to die in turn for having done that. So, apparently, did someone else. Although that could have been in return for so completely mismanaging the empire. But I digress.
General Braeg was a dear friend of mine. I mourned his death. I still mourn his death. He was also a charismatic leader. Did you hear how he fomented rebellion on Romulus, under Tal’aura’s very nose? It was brilliant. He had a gift. Not only was he clever enough to see her mistakes and understand how horribly she was mishandling the Empire, he had a rare instinct for showmanship. He made people understand! He got through to the mob. He showed them the downward spiral, and told them we needed to get out of it. He made them believe!
But then he died. And it was the death of a hero. Tal’aura’s men had surrounded the crowd he was preaching to at Victory Square, and had actually brought a military hovercraft – which was illegal on Romulus - in an attempt to reach Braeg! He could have easily fled. He could have let innocent people die, and no one would have blamed him for it. Instead, he turned himself over to Tal’aura’s men, which stopped the attack and enabled his followers to escape. He sacrificed himself.
At first, I thought he was an idiot. I thought, Well, he saved a few people that day but lost the Empire! What a shortsighted gesture! But perhaps he knew better than I what would happen after his death.
And here I will tell you something you haven’t heard before: Braeg was Donatra’s lover. Had been for years. Very few knew this at the time. I had my suspicions before his death, but never spoke of it. After his death, Donatra told me. There were tears running down her cheeks as she told me that they had loved each other. That was the only time I saw her cry. She spoke of him many times again, in glorious speeches, calling all Romulans to battle! But she never cried.
When he died, it lit a fire in her the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I always knew she had passion. Always knew she had the ability to lead. I didn’t realize she had the ability to touch men’s souls and make them blaze.
She became Empress because Braeg died. I don’t think she would have done that had he lived, and I don’t think he’d have been as good a leader as she. All of his showmanship could not match the purity of her cause.
The worst thing that ever happened to Romulus was losing Donatra. I know, it’s a shocking thing to say, with all that’s happened. Had she remained Empress, these last two decades and more would have been incredibly different.
I will tell you this, as well. I do not believe she is dead. Where she is, I don’t know. But I do not believe that we have heard the last of Empress Donatra.
- The ship Valdore, carrying Empress Donatra and all her crew, disappeared in 2387 during the Hobus supernova. The general assumption is that the ship and crew were destroyed, but there has been no conclusive evidence.