Down Below II
|Darwyn Carson as|
"The Romulan Tal'Shiar Operative"
|Marva Hicks as Dr. T'Nera|
|Minister Kijar of|
the Romulan Finance Ministry
|Kimber Lee Renay|
Four days later
Unlike Commander N'Hara and her Uncle Kijar, T'Sanne actually loved visiting Vulcan. As a teenager, she'd initially thought about studying astrophysics there instead of joining the Romulan ministry. Both her parents had encouraged it, and her Uncle Kijar had paid for her many trips to Vulcan whenever school was out.
But the more T'Sanne visited her cousins and experienced their highly sophisticated culture, the more intimidated and insecure she became. Where she had a fiery temper and foul mouth, her Vulcan relatives were tranquil and consistently refined. Where she enjoyed a good sparring session and didn't mind drawing blood, they were pacifists who preferred non-violent forms of exercise.
And where she enjoyed eating meat, drinking Romulan ale, and listening to a Klingon opera or two, they were strict vegans who drank blue mint tea and listened to old love songs on the Vulcan lyre.
Her Aunt T'Nera, though a generous and compassionate woman, was consistently cold and distant, like many older Vulcans. She rarely ever said more than ten words to T'Sanne at a time. T'Sanne and her cousins were close, however, and she was eternally grateful for that. They were the sisters she'd never had.
T'Lali was the youngest; she'd run off at seventeen to join Starfleet and was now a junior. T'Pella was the eldest and scientist; she was currently away aboard a science vessel, surveying the Mintala System. And Sikanna was the middle child, the artist at heart who played the lyre like an angel. But because her parents had no use for artists, she'd grown up to become a Federation mediator, who worked to bring worlds together.
Sikanna was the closest to T'Sanne's age, and she was the only one waiting for her when T'Sanne finally arrived on Vulcan. It had been some years since T'Sanne had visited; joining the Tal'Shiar had all but consumed her life. But now, she was back in the grand house of her youth, and as she walked across the patio, she let opulence of her uncle's home steal her breath as had when she was a child.
"Is it as you remember?"
T'Sanne spun to see the gentle face of her middle cousin, swathed in some fabulous, grayish lilac gown. She could swear Sikanna was resisting the temptation to smile.
"It's even more beautiful than I remember, cousin," T'Sanne admitted with a gasp of awe. "I used to dream about coming to live with you here some day."
"Our door was always open."
"I know," T'Sanne bowed her head. "But life can be...unpredictable."
"You are welcome as ever you were."
Vulcans didn't hug. They actually didn't touch in general, but that had never mattered to T'Sanne. What they didn't express with touch, they beautifully expressed in word and tone.
"The Enterprise is coming for me tomorrow," Sikanna announced. "It is regrettable we don't have more time."
"I hear you have a mission," T'Sanne nodded slowly. "You're mediating a dispute of some sort?"
Sikanna's voice betrayed her weariness, but only slightly. "I'll be going to the Assilla System. The Kassi and Kidosians are bickering over mining rights to the fifth moon of the second planet."
"Assilla?" T'Sanne deftly feigned surprise. "Of all the systems! Assilla III is a pleasure planet!"
"Captain Picard does not foresee a difficult mission," Sikanna admitted. "While we are in conference on Assilla II, many of his crew are expected to travel to the Assilla III for shore leave."
T'Sanne suddenly felt terrible. Her cousin was telling her of all this information in confidence. Like her aunt and sisters, Sikanna didn't even know T'Sanne was a member of the Tal'Shiar. She'd been meaning to tell them for years, but she was afraid it would damage her relationship. After all, they were your average Vulcans,and were loyal members of the Federation.
For all intents and purposes, a Romulan member of the Tal'Shiar was the enemy.
'Tis a tangled web we weave, T'Sanne inwardly signed.
"What will you be doing while you're Vulcan?" Sikanna inquired, pulling T'Sanne from her thoughts.
"Uncle Kijar says I'll be keeping him company while Aunt T'Nera attends a conference in the capital. You know how your father dozes off during scientific lectures."
The tiniest smirk tugged at the Vulcan's lips. She nodded slightly. "He's never had a head for science. My mother says I take after him."
T'Sanne laughed, suddenly overwhelmed with warmth and weariness. She stared out onto the dry Vulcan landscape, letting the Southern wind wash over her. While she preferred the lush forests of her home village, and the rush of the waterfall, there was a graceful beauty here in the desert.
"Will you play your lyre tonight?" T'Sanne murmured to her cousin, eyes blissfully closed as she allowed ancestral world to lull her back into its arms.
"Of course," Sikanna nodded graciously. "I'll play as many songs as you like."
"You should take a bikini."
T'Sanne looked at her computer monitor where N'Hara was watching her casually with a steaming hot cup of raktajino in her right hand. As T'Sanne plodded around her shuttle cabin (which formerly belonged to Senator T'Kora), she fleetingly remembered it was early morning on Romulus.
"I'm on a mission, N'Hara," T'Sanne grumbled impatiently. "During wartime, no less. I can't take a bikini."
"Yes, you can. Just make sure it's not gray. In fact, while you're posing as party girl on Assilla III, I suggest you avoid all things gray. Gray just screams 'typical Romulan.'"
Though she rolled her eyes, T'Sanne made a mental note to replicate a scarlet bathing suit. She wasn't going to go so far as a bikini though.
"What's your ETA?" N'Hara asked.
"We'll be in orbit at approximately 1900 hours."
"Did you pick a name yet?"
"Sure. I've settled on 'Likonna'."
"Ah," N'Hara nodded. "An Ancient Vulcan name. Good choice."
"My uncle thought so," T'Sanne mumbled wearily. She felt as though she hadn't slept properly in weeks. "He booked me a room at Hotel Ojona. Do you know anything about it?"
"Located on the Niraseen Beach, roughly one kilometre to Agora City, and rated 5 stars by the human Ambassador Thomas Walsh...three days before he was assassinated," N'Hara smirked.
T'Sanne paused, instinctively racking her brain for that name to see if it rang bell.
As usual, N'Hara was in her head. "Don't bother," the Romulan Commander snorted. "It wasn't one of ours."
"Ah," T'Sanne nodded, walking back to the open suitcase on the circular bed she'd "inherited" from the Senator.
"You know, you should enjoy yourself on this one," N'Hara tentatively suggested. "Get some sun, a few extra hours of sleep."
"I'm on a mission, N'Hara," came the gritted reply. "I have to be on constant alert. Dissenters don't hesitate to kill operatives, not when they have to protect their covers."
"You're not going down below, T'Sanne; you're just trying to get a name and a face. And while you're chatting up Starfleet's best and brightest - such as they are - it wouldn't hurt to have a few drinks, sleep in once or twice, and enjoy yourself, otherwise you'll blow your cover. Party girls tend to look well-rested, T'Sanne. You've been looking dreadful."
T'Sanne twitched. That was the second someone had told her that.
Note to self: hit up a day spa on Assilla III.