Taking a break from T’Leia’s stories, I am going to write a little bit about my Romulan toon R’Jal today. He is arguably one of my “mains”, behind the Fed (Heidy) and the KDF (Gortusk) toons, and right now I am trying to rush him through the story missions before Delta Rising hits in October. The interesting thing about R’Jal is how he breaks the Romulan male stereotype on STO.
As you can see in the attached picture, R’Jal isn’t a tall, handsome Legolas-wannabe. He is an older gent, rotund and overweight, but with the dignity of an elder statesman. When I showed R’Jal to my friends, the feedback was very positive and they made guesses as to who he was, based on his appearance; these suggestions actually formed the basis of R’Jal’s official back story.
Essentially, R’Jal i’Iurth tr’Sahen was a promising young Star Navy officer before he was recruited by the Tal Shiar, where he became a dedicated agent. A brilliant strategist, planner and manipulator, R’Jal didn’t mind getting his hands dirty if the occasion called for it, but he vastly preferred leaving that sort of thuggery to his subordinates. In his latter years R’Jal mainly worked a desk job, reviewing and analyzing endless streams of intelligence reports, and arranging for investigations, interrogations and arrests of dissidents. One thing I added to his biography is that R’Jal worked in the same unit as Colonel Hakeev, and the two shared a mutual dislike for each other: Hakeev disliked R’Jal for his unimposing presence and lack of physical fitness, while R’Jal considered Hakeev a loudmouth, a braggart and “a comical stereotype of a villain figure”.
In his private life R’Jal had (still does) an eye for the ladies, especially Orion women. Despite having a wife named Alhona and assorted children by her, that didn’t stop R’Jal from pursuing extramarital affairs. Such liaisons resulted in any number of illegitimate children, including Fungi’s toon Tikini, by an unnamed Cardassian woman.
R’Jal escaped the destruction of Romulus because he was attached to a diplomatic mission to Qo’Nos at the time (where he secretly met with members of the disgraced House of Duras for some unrevealed purpose). Following the Hobus disaster he continued working for the Tal Shiar, but with the amount of sensitive information that came across his desk, R’Jal soon pieced together the fact that the Tal Shiar leaders were somehow involved in causing the Hobus supernova — Hakeev was one of the chief architects, and the conspiracy could’ve gone all the way to the top. Disgusted by this discovery, R’Jal chose to retire to a civilian life citing poor health (yes, that was a lie).
Despite continued monitoring by his former employer, R’Jal still managed to secretly feed sensitive information to the nascent Romulan Republic to undermine Tal Shiar efforts. He acted as an informant for three years before fully defecting to the Republic, taking with him large amounts of secret files and information on Tal Shiar operations and activities. Today he commands a Warbird flying the Republic banner, but he continues to eye the possibility of future political office.
All in all, R’Jal is not a “nice guy”. He is old-school Romulan – deceitful, manipulative, treacherous, but he hides these qualities beneath a veneer of good-nature. Yet at the same time he isn’t blindly bloodthirsty like Hakeev or megalomaniac like Sela; his pragmatism tells him the Romulans no longer have the strength to push their interstellar agenda through military confrontations — to waste what strength they do have fighting each other is plain insanity. While he may think D’Tan’s idealism somewhat naive (openness and honesty against a treacherous and deceitful enemy is foolish to say the least), R’Jal does genuinely believe the Republic is the best hope for the future of his people. He welcomes the assistance of the Federation and the Klingon Empire, but he works secretly and advises the government to ensure the Romulan Republic does not end up as a vassal state to them. He also undertakes clandestine missions to convince Tal Shiar remnants to defect to the Republic; this effort is evidently more successful than ever now that the core Tal Shiar leadership has been dismantled.
What do you think about that back story?