In the Searing Light of Dawn III

A/N ~ Life really is wonderful when you're not battling writer's block.

Darwyn Carson as
"The Romulan Tal'Shiar Operative"
By 1200, T'Sanne was back on her ship, the Imator. It was the same shape and size as Vreenak's shuttle, which came as no surprise since it was on loan from Senator T'Kora. It was also no surprise that as soon T'Sanne entered her quarters on the ship, T'Kora's face popped up on the computer console by her replicator.  The woman had personally assigned her to this task and was determined to keep T'Sanne on her toes.

Though she really wanted to get some sleep, T'Sanne knew better than to blow off the Senator.

"Yes, Senator?"

The stern, white-haired Romulan woman shot her a frosty look.  "Report?"  She sounded even more metallic than the computer on Deep Space Nine.

"He maintained his ignorance, of course."

"Do you believe him?"

"No," T'Sanne admitted.  "He knows more than he's letting on.  Vreenak was in Bajoran space for a reason.  I believe Sisko knows that reason."

"How far are you from Jen'ai?"

T'Sanne tried not to yawn.  "We have just left Deep Space Nine, Senator.  Barring any unusual circumstances, we will rendezvous with Larine on schedule."  She'd always wondered what T'Kora's relation to Vreenak was.  They weren't family; she'd reviewed their biographic and genetic files thoroughly.  They weren't lovers; T'Kora was old enough to be Vreenak's grandmother.  Professionally speaking, T'Sanne had never discerned whether they were friends or foes.

"Change of plans," the Senator told her stoically.  "You are to return to Romulus immediately.  I have already transmitted a flight plan to Commander Reenen.  If you have made any logs of this mission, whether personal or official, you are to delete them and speak of this assignment to no one.  Is that clear?"

Ah, T'Sanne inwardly nod.  Foes it is.

"Yes, Senator," she replied promptly, masking her growing curiosity.  "Am I to return to my usual post?"

"You will report to me in person first," T'Kora said.  "The Senate is in recess, so I will be at my home in Ahlak Valley all week.  I will be expecting you."

"Yes, Senator."

"And get some sleep, Subcommander.  You look positively dreadful."

***

Though T'Sanne had intended to sleep after the conversation anyway, the "dreadful" comment had gotten the alarm bells ringing.  Before going to bed, she slathered on a Vulcan clay mask and took a long hot soak in a Risian bubble bath.  There were benefits to using a Senator's shuttle.  The Senator had the biggest cabin on the shuttle, with a minibar stocked full of the most potent Romulan ales and Vulcan ports.  The sitting room was furnished with gray, silk-covered chairs, and in the center of the room was a large, oval-shaped black rug from Beduvia.  The dark gray curtains from imported from Tholia; T'Sanne kept them drawn to watch them shimmer in the dim golden light of the solar lamp from Vulcan.

The bedroom was decorated in dark violet shades, with a large circular bed draped and vanity supplied with the most expensive cosmetics from Romulan.  T'Sanne preferred her own supply of course; her skin responded better to off-world products and besides, she had a feeling the Senator would forgive her for drinking some of her Romulan ale, but not for touching her cosmetics.

She slept deeply all afternoon, dreaming again of dead Cardassians and wondering why she saw no Jem-Hadar among the slain.  Was she nervous about the war to come?  Lower-ranking Tal'Shiar were often assigned ships and sent into battle, and with a massive war such as this one, it would be no surprise if she were sent to fight the Dominion.  But if that were the case, why was she dreaming about Cardassians not Jen-Hadar?

Because as the Cardassians have had to learn the hard way, the Dominion isn't interested in 'allies', Captain Sisko had said. It's interested in loyal citizens. You yourself just referred to Cardassian territory as 'Dominion space' when last I checked, this is the Alpha Quadrant and the Founders aren't from around here.

Sisko saw the Cardassians as innocent.  He even felt sympathy for Gul Dukat, the Great Traitor responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

But he was human, and T'Sanne was Romulan.  As far as she was concerned, all Cardassians were traitors.  They had gone with Dukat's plan to join the Dominion.  They'd built statues in his honor and willingly pledged their loyalty to the Founders.  In the eyes of Romulus, all of Cardassia was culpable, and they would not be spared simply because their choices had come back to haunt them.  They would be punished along with their Changeling and Vortas masters.

She woke in the late evening, hungry and bored.  For dinner, she had some replicated greens cooked in a tart broth.  Afterward, she lounged in a comfortable chair, sipping hot red leaf tea and reading some Vulcan literature her cousin had sent her weeks ago.  After a couple of hours, she noticed the ship was eerily quiet; not once did the Captain or pilot send her an update, nor were any uhlans or centurions sent in to check on her.

T'Sanne found the ship's silence a bit odd, but then remembered she was Tal'Shiar.  Regular officers had a tendency to avoid operatives like the plague.  Even so, it was tradition for the Captain to invite a visiting operative to dine in their cabin.  It was already past 2100 hours and she hadn't heard a peep.

Something was wrong.

"Subcommander T'Sanne to bridge."

The Commander's voice replied without hesitation.  He sounded mellow and humble.  "Yes, Subcommander?"

"What is our current location?"

"We are .5 light years from the Jen'ai System, Subcommander."

T'Sanne tensed immediately, alarm bells ringing.

"Commander...," she began haltingly, "did you say...Jen'ai?"

"Yes, Subcommander.  We're following the flight plan transmitted by the Senator herself."

T'Sanne felt her heart stop beating as her breath seemed to flee her lungs.  Why the hell were they traveling to Romulus from Bajor by way of Jen'ai?

The same reason Vreenak was traveling to Romulus from Soukara by way of Bajor, a low dangerous voice whispered inside her head.  So that his assassins could frame the Dominion for his death.

"Commander," T'Sanne called, trying to keep her voice from shaking, "this is an official command override, by order of the Tal'Shiar.  You are hereby ordered not to enter Jen'ai space for any reason."  Already she was up, stripping off one of the Senator's dark violet silk robes and pulling on a stiff gray uniform.

"Understood."  Commanders always knew better than to question the Tal'Shiar.  "Adjusting course."

"Perform a level 5 diagnostic of this entire ship at once, and tell your engineer to scan for possible explosives.  I'm on my way to the bridge."

There was a tense pause before the Commander finally acknowledged.  Typically, an operative would not announce to an entire bridge that their ship was possibly rigged to explode, but she needed their cooperation, and she needed it now.  There would be time to whisper in shadows with the Commander later.

***

"Our scans turned up three trilithium devices, buried beneath the warp core," Commander Reenen informed her an hour later from behind his desk.  She noticed the small glass of Romulan ale nearby, but didn't call attention to it.  After nearly being blown into the stars, the man deserved a drink even though he was still on duty.

"Trilithium?" she asked, feeling both surprised and yet not.

"The devices were Romulan," he confirmed.

Seems T'Kora was sloppy, T'Sanne tilted her head to the side.  Granted, a trilithium explosion would have obliterated the ship and left little to analyze, but still...the explosive residue on Vreenak's ship was distinctly of Cardassian origin.

"The Senator was going to frame the Dominion, was she not?" Reenen asked, looking directly at her.  "She was trying to assassinate you.  You know something which nearly cost my crew their lives."

Watch your back, Captain Sisko had warned.  She'd been watching for the Dominion and the Federation.  She should've known to tack Romulans on that list as well.  Of all the species in the Quadrant, she should've remembered her own people were the most treacherous.

The tall, slender Commander rose from behind his desk and strode around it to stand toe to toe with her.  She already knew what he was about to say before he said it; near death experiences always made officers brave enough to face Tal'Shiar operatives.

"My crew and I are loyal soldiers of our Empire, Subcommander.  We are not cannon fodder for whatever feud the Senate has with Tal'Shiar."

"In case you haven't noticed, Commander," T'Sanne mused, "I could've died too.  And if it hadn't been for me, we would've died."

"My crew and I would've died because of you," Reenen growled.

"Correction, we all would've died because of the Senator," T'Sanne smoothly countered.  "But you're right.  Loyal citizens of the Empire don't get blown up on the whim of some self-serving politician.  It contradicts the very foundation of Romulan society.  Commence radio silence.  Answer no messages from the Senator, and do not let your crew send any messages to anyone.  We're going to play dead until we reach Romulus."

"And then what?"  Reenen demanded.

"And then my superiors and I will have a discussion about what to do with the good Senator," T'Sanne assured him.  "She will be dealt with, one way or another."

Comments

  1. Oh yes! Oh hell fucking yes! Bring it, Ankh! Bring it in the way I know you can!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why am I not surprised to see you on this one?

      Delete

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