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Alternate Theory on Romulan HistoryThe ancestors of the Romulans were once Vulcan nationals who rejected Surak’s teachings of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Prior to the Time of Awakening “Those Who Marched Under the Raptor’s Wings” were a strong and proud people, who saw themselves as superior to all other forms of life, and even all other Vulcans. One of the side effects of the Time of Awakening for the followers of Surak was that they were somehow able to tap into their previously undiscovered telepathic abilities, which the Raptor faction never mastered because of their passionate and emotional minds. Still, the war was going fairly well, especially when the Raptor faction started using their weapons of mass destruction and provoked the other side to do likewise. It wasn’t until the development of the Stone of Gol that the war turned. The followers of Surak were able to use their telepathic abilities through this weapon to kill members of the Raptor faction by turning their violent thoughts and emotions against them. Some examples of this new weapon were captured, but the Raptor faction was never able to figure it out. Facing annihilation at worst or survival on a poisoned world at best, the Raptor faction left their Vulcan homeland, gathering together what ships they could and hastily converting them into colony ships.
The Raptor faction wandered; looking for another suitable world they could make their own. Along the way they came across Earth and the Roman Empire during Augustus’s reign. At first they considered conquering this world, as they were very primitive by their standards, but they couldn’t help but admire these other people who marched under a raptor’s wings, and chose instead to emulate much of their culture with their own unique twist on it. After spending some time to learn about the Romans, they left again, in search of another world. Along the way they left many artifacts, including pieces of the few examples of the Stone of Gol they had with them. Eventually they found not only one, but two inhabitable planets within the same system and chose to settle there. The native populations were at a stone age level and were easily conquered and enslaved. They named these new planets Romulus and Remus, after the founding members of a culture they thought was a creation myth of their own people, the backwater planet they came across before now forgotten by all but the very old in tales of a race of round-ears who had a vast empire.
It is not known if the natives of these new worlds are the ones who were somehow blended with the Romulans, or if another race along the long Romulan exodus came into play, or even if there was another race, but there came to be two distinct groups within the Romulans; the original “pure” smooth-heads, and the “inferior” strong-brows. There are many theories that were explored by the Romulans themselves, but so much of their history has been lost to them that they no longer know when the strong-brows first appeared, nor do they care any longer. Their only worry was that the strong-brows are becoming more numerous by the year, with smooth-heads compounding the problem by disgracing themselves and mating with strong-brows.
A new class system was born with an aristocratic Patrician smooth-heads lording over the Plebeian strong-brows and disgraced smooth-heads, as well as a class of slaves encompassing the conquered natives. As their system evolved, slavery became a viable sentence for some crimes, and a new sub-class was formed to include other, more advanced species they conquered as they expanded their Star Empire.
Every Empire needs an Emperor, and there was one from the start. Typically, the Emperor would take a wife, who would become the Empress, and have almost as much power as he did, the sexes not quite being equal yet by this point. One of these Emperors became exceptionally concerned with the loyalty of his people and the subjects of Star Empire, and formed his own personal police force, the Tal Shiar to ensure loyalty to him.
At one point, the last Emperor became a threat to the Imperial Senate and the Patricians by attempting to do away with the old class divide between Patrician and Plebeian Romulans, possibly for the same reasons of total equality between the genders; a sort of movement to unify all Romulans. While the gender equality took, the new class system didn’t, and the Emperor was declared an enemy to his own Empire. He and his family were hunted down by the Praetorian Guard sworn to protect him and killed in a public execution reminiscent of Louis XVI’s.
The office of Emperor was declared illegal, and a new stigma was borne for the position and engrained in Romulan society. A new office, Praetor, was established as the executive of the Romulan government, though that position would never hold the same power as the Emperor had.
Upon discovering the more powerful races of the Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, and the newcomer Humans, the Empire devised a new strategy to deal with them differently than they had with the weaker worlds they had simply conquered. They would use subterfuge to isolate them from one another, and if at all possible instigate a civil war to weaken them, then simply move in and take advantage, dividing and conquering them one at a time. Not long after starting on this mission, the Romulans discovered the Vulcans were their blood-enemies from days of old, but were too strong to conquer, and were unlikely to fall victim to their plans. For the time being, Vulcan would be left alone, but it would become the ultimate goal of every Praetor to ever sit in office to reunify the Vulcans with the Romulans through conquest.
When they encountered the Klingons, they had to take a different approach, one of subterfuge rather than overt confrontation. The Klingons were almost the technological equal of the Romulans, so the Romulans decided to conquer them by conquering their hearts. An "emissary" was sent on a mission of peace. At this time the Klingons were less aggressive and had many castes, only one of which was a warrior caste. The Romulan promised the Klingons more than what their humble ways provided. Through propaganda and manipulation, the Romulans won the hearts of the Klingons to the point that the Klingons genetically manipulated themselves to have smooth heads.
By the time the Romulans encounter humans again, they have forgotten where the culture they have adopted has come from. They are weary of these new allies of the Vulcans, who they still hate above all others. In fact they hate anyone who they know through their many channels to be allied with Vulcan. With the re-conquest of Vulcan as a final goal, they schemed to turn the Vulcan allies against each other. It almost succeeds, but the humans uncover the Romulan involvement and they must halt their plans. This also makes them focus their attention on the Humans, who they are now outraged at for uncovering their plan. Counting on the Vulcans to remain pacifistic, and the rest of their allies to also not interfere, the Romulans begin their war against Earth, but are eventually defeated when the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites join Earth against them.
Up to this point, and until well into the 23rd Century, their spiteful nature gave them the attitude that they would not give their enemies the "honor" of seeing their faces. It isn't until the Commander of a Bird of Prey sent on an attack to test the defenses of the Federation that any Romulan dares to give any of their enemies a glimpse of what they look like, both out of respect for Kirk and as a warning. When Kirk defeats their new weapon, the Romulans now feel their enemy, the Federation, has earned the honor of seeing their faces. In fact, the Romulans are so impressed, that they agree to establish diplomatic relations with the Federation, sending an ambassador to Earth and establishing an embassy.
This act outrages the Klingons, who have sworn the Federation as an enemy. They do some digging, and discover that the Romulans consider them to be part of their Empire and see them as inferiors. This sparks a brief war between the two powers that ends in stalemate. The Klingons and Romulans are henceforth bitter enemies, each bent on the other's conquest.
The smooth-headed Romulans remain in power until a short time after the Tomed Incident, which is seen as an insult to the Romulans. The common people also see it as a final insult to them, because it is them and their kind that are used as shock troops by now, their strong brows always hidden from view by helmets. They stage a coup, and take over the government. They keep the current system of government, the only difference now being that the strong-browed Romulans are now seen as the superior of the smooth-headed Romulans. Prudent smooth-heads have their appearance surgically altered to fit in among the now much more numerous strong-brows.
As time goes on, the Romulan attitude towards the Federation is one of indifference, they still view them as an enemy, but not a threat. The Dominion War changes their view because of the Federation's help during the conflict. Just after the war, they make peace overtures to the Federation, to join them as a peace-time ally.
(Theory by CJ Sitter)