Down Below IV
|Darwyn Carson as|
"The Romulan Tal'Shiar Operative"
|Minister Kijar of|
the Romulan Finance Ministry
|Alexander Enberg as Lt. Taurik|
"Hotel Ojona is quite ancient," Taurik explained, as their hover ferry docked and their guide led them across the courtyard to the main entrance.
"During the Second Age it was a temple to the goddess Alachnia who ruled over the sea. During the civil wars in the Third and Fourth Age, Lord Chalech used it as a fort. When the wars ended in the last century of the Fourth Age, Crown Prince Omniach of the Ailach Dynasty converted it into one of his palaces. First, he kept his favorite mistress here, then his sixth wife, and then he exiled his mother here when she tried to have him assassinated."
T'Sanne feigned alarm. "Why?" she asked, neither knowing nor actually caring. Leave it to a Vulcan to research the ancient history of a friggin' pleasure planet.
"The usual," Taurik shrugged slightly, his face ever so carefully impassive. "He was the rightful heir to the throne, but she wanted another of her children to succeed."
It sounded like the story of every ancient royal family on Romulus. To their credit the Assillans had taken good care of their ancient structures; the walls had been reinforced, the wooden sections had been replaced, the foundation was fortified...it was no wonder this old building had lasted this long.
The technology was definitely state of the art, however; turbolifts, holopads, and general computer consoles had been installed with neither shame nor regret. The Assillans understood the pleasure principle fully. The architecture could be charming and intriguing all it wanted, but it would never garner revenue unless the replicators were working.
They rode the turbolift for a quiet moment, but when it stopped on the seventh floor, Taurik turned to her and inquired, "Likonna, I was wondering...would you join me at Ah'niis?"
T'Sanne blinked. "Ah...niis?"
"Forgive me; it's a local restaurant," Taurik clarified. "It specializes in Assillan cuisine from all over the solar system. The seaweed broth comes highly recommended and, though I don't intend to try it, so does their twelve-leg crab."
T'Sanne smiled broadly, unable to stop herself. "I accept."
"1900 hours, then?"
She nodded, knowing better than to be a minute late. Tardiness to Vulcans was like some sort of deadly sin.
She finally arrived in her room, which was comfortable, but not as luxurious as her shuttle. The little furniture there was looked tasteful and classy, and the walls were a pale, elegant shade. At first T'Sanne was puzzled, this being a pleasure planet and all, but then she realized that was the point; visitors don't travel to a pleasure planet just to stay in their rooms. Someone else's maybe...but not their own.
"Have you made contact?"
T'Sanne jolted, turning to face a computer monitor she hadn't even known was there. "Uncle Kijar?"
"You're slipping, my dear girl. An operative of the Tal'Shiar should not be caught off guard so easily," the older Romulan said, raising an eyebrow.
He's lived on Vulcan too long, she mused, before replying, "Yes. To my surprise, he actually initiated contact."
"No surprise at all," Kijar snickered, "considering the dress you're wearing."
T'Sanne suddenly felt naked. She crossed her arms over chest quickly, without thinking.
"No need to be modest, child," Kijar laughed. "You're not wearing anything inappropriate. It is a good to see a Romulan woman wearing something other than gray."
"Is this channel secure?" T'Sanne snapped, oddly annoyed. She was looking forward to dinner with Taurik for some reason, and she didn't want to waste time chatting with her uncle.
"I'm not an amateur," Kijar chuckled. "Of course the line is secure. Now, where is our dear friend staying?"
"Two floors down, in Room 719."
Again, the older man raised his eyebrow.
"It's not like that," T'Sanne said impatiently. "He mentioned it on the hover ferry earlier today."
"You know, I've seen pictures of the boy," Kijar mused. "He's a strikingly handsome fellow."
"It's not like that."
Kijar shrugged innocently. "But it could be. This isn't one of your more serious missions, child. You're not going down below on this one. So relax! Enjoy all that Assilla has to offer. I hear there's a great restaurant called Ah'niis."
T'Sanne nodded. "Known for its twelve-leg crab. Taurik told me."
There was a flicker in Kijar's eyes, even as he continued, bemused, "I see. You've already been invited, I take it?"
"0700 hours tonight."
The old man chuckled. "Don't drink too much of the Begosian wine," he warned. "It makes Romulan ale look like root beer."
T'Sanne suddenly woke with the worst headache of her life. It was worse than the time she sustained a severe head injury during her first year of combat training. It was even worse the time she underwent mandatory interrogation prep.
Too much Begosian wine, she thought dimly, struggling to just open her eyes. Uncle Kijar is going to love this.
She tried to remember the details of the last few hours. She tried to remember going to the restaurant. She tried to remember sitting and talking with Taurik. But the more she tugged at her mind, the more elusive her memories became.
Eventually, her mind began to clear and it was strange...one moment she was foggy and in pain, but by the next she'd rapidly returned to clarity. She suddenly realized she was sitting on a chair, not lying down on a bed. It slowly dawned on her that she was still in her room at Hotel Ojona, still wearing the infamous plum silk dress...and her hands were securely fastened behind her back.
Out the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of Starfleet black and gold.
T'Sanne sat up with a jolt, just as Taurik came around to face her squarely. Despite his impassive stare and calm, measured voice, she detected a hardened edge to his overall demeanor.
"You," he remarked pointedly, "are Tal'Shiar."