28 May 2022
Sundered Wings was the third Bravo Fleet Fleet Action which ran from 28 May 2022. It consisted of three phases that each progressed the story of the collapse of the Romulan Star Empire and the Velorum Sector’s ensuing bid for independence and Starfleet protection.
Operation: Sundered Wings was undertaken by the Fourth Fleet in mid-2400 when the Velorum Sector requested the Federation’s aid and protection following the collapse of the Romulan Star Empire. With Starfleet vessels dispatched across the chaotic region, Bravo Fleet was charged with aiding the provisional government of Velorum in establishing itself in a free, fair, and democratic manner without undue outside influence.
Collapse of the RSE
In early 2400, the Talvath system and several aligned worlds formally declared their independence from the Romulan Star Empire. The exact reason for this political shift was unclear, but Starfleet Intelligence suspects this to be the work of local warlords. With its aged and underpowered military, the Star Empire deemed such distant worlds unworthy of a deployment of their forces, and while they did not acknowledge the independence of Talvath and others, they did not stop them, effectively letting them go.
This weakness by the Senate precipitated disaster on Rator. Weeks later, flag staff of the Romulan Star Navy and a smattering of aligned but politically minor senators denounced the leading political faction and by force of arms dissolved the senate. Formally, their intention was for fresh elections to put in place senators who would not be, as they deemed it, ‘treasonous’ for allowing imperial territory to fall from their hands. Many expected the new senate to be composed of former military officers and others selected by the navy itself.
The Star Navy grossly misjudged the appetites of the Star Empire for such a change. The thread of legitimacy that was the Senate of Romulus relocating to become the Senate of Rator was snapped in this move. Many surviving senators and regional governors condemned the action as reducing the authority of Rator to nothing more than that of another warlord, no better than the Free States or those who had seized Talvath itself. Others, perhaps with leaders closer to the Star Navy, perhaps with more of a military presence in their systems, threw their weight behind the new ruling power of Rator - but they are few and far between.
The death of the successor state of the Romulan Star Empire started slowly. Fleets, worlds, and leaders slunk from Rator, as if they could smell the stench of its rotting corpse over the decade and a half since the supernova. This act by the Star Navy forced the issue, and scores of worlds, dozens of sectors fell away, severing all ties to Rator out of disgust for the coup, or out of realisation that the Star Empire’s days were numbered.
Some fled to the waiting arms of the Romulan Free State, which seemed to realise it could win simply by waiting - though Starfleet Intelligence suspected the hand of the Tal Shiar tipping certain scales, albeit with a light touch. A handful turned to the Romulan Republic, but few had adjoining borders and the Republic’s forces could not necessarily be counted on to expand their protection. Most declared independence, either scrambling for self-sufficiency through seizing Imperial assets and gathering allies, or falling prey to the warlords who have long gorged on the remains of the once-great empire - particularly along the spinward frontier.
Notable among these was the Velorum Sector. Relatively close to Rator, the region is rich in minerals that have been essential to the Romulan Star Navy for centuries, and was expected to stay loyal - or be kept that way. But it has a higher proportion of Remans among its populace than anywhere in the galaxy since the supernova, sent there to work the mines and dangerous refineries that give Velorum its wealth. Within days of the shattering coup, the Romulan regional governor on Psi Velorum III was removed by Reman workers led by Resak, a former pit boss in the world’s mines. Resak was quickly declared acting-governor, and invited the Velorum Sector to join him in declaring independence from the Star Empire, and to create a new state respecting the rights and labour of Remans, Romulans, and other inhabitants alike.
The initial response to Resak’s takeover in the Velorum Sector was overwhelmingly positive. Most Star Navy forces fled or were pushed out, and local governments on other worlds - new or old - now have their Romulan and Reman leadership alike pledging support. But it was deemed likely that Rator would not let Velorum go easily, and the region is a prized jewel not for them, but the warlords on the spinward border who might see Velorum’s independence as an opportunity. Likewise, it was assessed unlikely the Tal Shiar would let the future of a prize such as Velorum go untouched by them, and towards the rim lies the Klingon Empire, rife with all of its instability born of the machinations of the House of Mo’Kai and its inherent lust for battle and expansion.
Aware of all these risks, Resak turned to an unlikely ally: the Federation. Demonstrating himself a fair new leader with the backing of his populace, he requested protection so the Velorum Sector might safely determine its own destiny, shaking off the shackles of Rator without falling prey to some other power.
This led to a politically complex situation for Starfleet. The coup on Rator delegitimised any government of the Romulan Star Empire, the actions of its navy now effectively that of a rogue force. Neither the Free State nor the Klingon Empire nor any warlord had any right to interfere in the future of Velorum, and were expected to be drawn in by its wealth rather than any interest in the wellbeing of its people. Non-interference by the Federation would not prevent extensive interference by a half-dozen other factions, none of whom would prioritise the self-determination of the Remans and Romulans alike of the Velorum Sector.
The Fourth Fleet’s Mission
With the illegitimate and self-appointed government of the collapsing Star Empire trying to bring Velorum back under its control, and the vast opportunities for the region to fall prey to another power, Starfleet felt the Prime Directive did not apply, and that they had no choice but to accept Resak’s request for help.
The Fourth Fleet was dispatched to offer support as the region established independence from neighbouring Romulan factions. Many worlds overthrew the Star Empire’s leadership quickly, those officials fleeing or exiled after the takeover. The population of the inhabited worlds, moons, and facilities of Velorum was primarily workers for the industries and mines - mainly Reman, with a minority of Romulans and some other former vassal species. It was these workers who led the fight for independence and seized control, accounting for the movement’s overwhelming popularity.
But the process of achieving independence is lengthy. Even after the initial declaration, many worlds remained in turmoil, either with remnants of the Star Empire clinging to power or the local populace uncertain of their choices. Others struggled to see to the basic needs of their people as the Empire withdrew assets and resources. Some had more long-term concerns with the loss of Imperial infrastructure, such as having the facilities to continue the industrial and mining work that is the source of Velorum’s wealth - and thus, by raw materials or the benefits of trading them, its security.
Furthermore, the Romulan Star Empire did not initially accept Velorum’s independence. The uprising was deemed the work of rebels and traitors and the Star Navy mobilised to bring the region to heel, though the chaos after the coup of Rator limited the forces they could bring to bear. Naval ships and task groups still threatened regions of Velorum, either bringing precious border worlds back under control or reminding the locals they were safer with, not against, the Star Empire. Not all of the people of Velorum supported independence, especially Romulans with ties to the former administration, who were seen as potential agents for the Star Empire to support as agitators, spies, or saboteurs.
Velorum remained vulnerable to other factions. The Free State formally did not involve itself in the chaos of the Star Empire, but the hand of the Tal Shiar was felt in the secession of multiple border worlds, and Velorum was a tempting target for its manipulations. Warlords who dominated the spinward-regions of the old Star Empire saw Velorum and its chaos as an opportunity for raids, as did the pirates of the nearby Triangle. Initially, the Romulan Republic did not involve itself, seeking to not over-extend itself in the chaos. The Klingon Empire was slow to respond, initially mired in internal disagreement on whether to seize this opportunity for fresh conquest.
The Fourth Fleet dispatched a diplomatic delegation to Psi Velorum III to assist Resak in establishing his provisional government and make plans for the future, as well as to discuss any long-term relationship between Velorum and the Federation. Further ships travelled across the sector in support of the overall goal of enabling the region’s self-determination, as free as possible from external meddling.