Down Below III
|Darwyn Carson as|
"The Romulan Tal'Shiar Operative"
|Alexander Enberg as Lt. Taurik|
When her shuttle finally entered the orbit of Assilla III, T'Sanne finally realized why she felt so out of sorts. She was nervous about her mission.
And it wasn't the danger part; she'd dodged Klingon disrupter fire, gotten into fist fights with rival operatives from the Cardassian Obsidian Order, and oh yes...flown on a shuttle strapped with trilithium explosives. To be a member of the Tal'Shiar, being in danger was like a breathing. It wasn't just part of the job, it was part of everyday life.
T'Sanne was nervous for the same reason her fellow Romulans were xenophobic narcissists; when it came to blending in and interacting with other species, they felt awkward and out of place. They didn't have the bubbly energy of humans, the wisecracking humor of the Ferengi, or the almost ethereal grace of Vulcans. They weren't as enigmatic as the Trill or as sensuously provocative as the Betazoids. And though Romulans were fierce, proud warriors, they weren't nearly as entertaining as the Klingons.
As the saying went, Romulans were gray. Their food was gray, their clothes were gray, their buildings were gray, and so the myth went, even the Romulan heart was gray.
And though T'Sanne was personally bored with the gray, which was actually pervasive in Romulan culture, she felt secure and familiar with the gray. The sleek, silken violet gown she wore now, with its delicate spaghetti straps and snug fit, made her feel naked and unreal. She'd notice the looks she garnered in the corridor as she approached the transporter room, and wondered if she were being admired or mocked. She wondered what the crew would say after she beamed down.
The transporter center in the resort city of Alakmana was bustling, busy, filled with every imaginable kind of noise, and species from all over the Quadrant.
T'Sanne had never seen anything like this. She was used to being down below, in caverns and dive bars, on rickety shuttles and dark, frigid space stations. She was used to being a shadow, a ghost, a myth, not young woman in a brightly lit city that stretched on and on without end.
After years of listening his former roommate Sam snore and unsuccessfully try to bed a series of ensigns, Lieutenant Taurik felt he'd earned his promotion and the single cabin that came with it. Therefore, it was logical he celebrate with shore leave, and it was perfectly logical he did so on a pleasure planet.
While it was an honor to meet Ambassador Sikanna, she was, after all, a young woman who had many decades ahead of her to live up to her predecessors. She was no Spock and certainly no Sarek, and so Taurik felt absolutely nothing wrong with beaming down to Assilla III before the ship got anywhere near Assilla II.
He had heard Alakmana was a vast city renowned for its nightlife, but even after all his research he still raised an eyebrow upon exiting the transporter center. It was massive, beautifully lit, with an utterly enchanting skyline and impressive architecture. For a fleeting moment, Taurik wondered what all the fuss was about Risa. The entire planet of Risa was a humble seaside village compared to this place.
Though it would've been faster simply to hop a shuttle or take another transporter to Hotel Ojona, Taurik was weary of ships and teleport pads. He wanted to breathe the warm salty air of this great city by the sea. He walked towards his destination, blending into the busy streets as he gratefully stretched his legs.
Despite his superior speed and long stride, it still took half an hour to reach his destination. And since Hotel Ojona was daringly built beside a waterfall, Taurik had to ride a hover ferry over the haunting, rushing waters.
T'Sanne felt the desperate tug of homesickness deep within her. It had been ages since she visited her ancestral village on Romulus, and stood before the waterfall of her childhood years. As her hover ferry drew close to her hotel, and the waters lightly sprayed over her, she wondered what her parents were doing.
Out the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of Starfleet black and gold. Even as her heart briefly leapt in her side, she kept eyes forward, remembering not to tense. She had to avoid making contact too soon, otherwise she would arouse his suspicion.
She flashed a blissful smile towards the waves, closing her eyes and letting nostalgia take over her.
"This is a most appealing view," a deep voice murmured near her. She blinked, feigning surprise, and turned to face the focus of her mission.
"Why yes," she replied breathily, flashing the broadest smile she could muster. "It is."
"Have you visited here before?" he asked politely. That he sought to actually continue dialogue caught her off guard.
It's the dress, T'Sanne suddenly realized. It's the brow and the dress. The delicate straps and shimmery silk hugging her body had no doubt caught his attention.
Men are all the same.
"My first time," she nodded slightly, volunteering no more.
"My name is Taurik."
T'Sanne couldn't stop herself from smiling genuinely now. "Likonna."
Vulcans had a tendency to raise their eyebrows whenever intrigued, and Taurik was no exception.
"That is a very old name," he remarked.
"My father's idea," she mused.
He also seemed amused, but in typical Vulcan fashion, he wasn't going to show it. "Literature professor, I presume?"
"Is it that obvious?" she laughed softly.
"Only a professor of Vulcan literature would think to give his daughter so ancient a name. There hasn't been a woman named Likonna on Vulcan in over 300 years." Pause. "Are they're many on Romulus?"
Clever boy, T'Sanne mused. Nice try.
"I wouldn't know," she shrugged easily, looking at the waves. "I grew up on Oris V. I've never actually been to Romulus."
"I see," he nodded slightly. She already knew where this was headed. He was going to tell her his room number. He was going to invite her over for something dull like blue mint tea and probably spend the evening prattling on about Vulcan history.
For some odd reason, T'Sanne found herself looking forward to it. It would be no different from all the times she spent with her extended family on Vulcan.
"What floor will you be staying on?" he asked.
T'Sanne smirked. "The ninth."
"I will be on the seventh," he said neutrally, also looking out upon the waves. "In room 719."