Down Below V

A/N ~ Funny story. My intention was to do these in blocks of four, but it appears this story's a bit more complicated than I initially expected.

Darwyn Carson as
"The Romulan Tal'Shiar Operative"
Minister Kijar of
the Romulan Finance Ministry
Alexander Enberg as Lt. Taurik

Everyone had told her. Everyone had assured her this was a basic, routine intel. Everyone had encouraged her to stop being so vigilant and on edge, to relax and have fun.  And the whole time, she'd been ambivalent.  A part of her had wondered if she should don a silk dress and smile in public, or dress in gray and go down below, working from the shadows.

She really should've have listened to her second voice.  She wouldn't be in this mess.

"How?" she asked calmly, slowly recalling her training.  Rule #1: Never panic.

"I have my sources," Taurik calmly murmured.

Rule #2: Keep your interrogater off balance.

"You're not an operative," T'Sanne smirked, feeling like her old self as she moved back into more familiar territory.  "You're a lieutenant.  What do you know about the Tal'Shiar?  What kind of 'sources' could you possibly have?"

Taurik slowly cocked his head to the side.  "The kind of sources which who can identify you as Tal'Shiar."

Yeah...screw the rules.  They weren't going to work on this one.

When it came to interrogation, whether as subjects or interrogators, Vulcans were a nightmare.  They didn't get angry.  They had abnormally high thresholds for pain.  And their logic was downright infuriating.

"How long have you known?"

"Since the ferry," he replied honestly.

T'Sanne kept her face neutral, but her mind was whirling.  Who could've known?  She wasn't high-ranking in the Tal'Shiar; their faces were easily recognized outside Romulus.  She was a Subcommander assigned to covert missions, which meant her records were tightly sealed and non-Romulans had no access to --

Sisko, she mentally gasped.  Cringing, she thought of her mission to Deep Space Nine and how she'd openly presented herself to the Captain as a representative of the Tal'Shiar.  He'd no doubt forwarded her image to Starfleet Intelligence.

Why had she ever accepted that stupid assignment from T'Kora?

"You know who I am," Taurik said simply.  "You know whom I associate with.  Thus, it should have been logical to conclude that my associates on Romulus would keep me apprised."

So...not Sisko.  But if not, why wouldn't he alert the rest of Starfleet about me?  Isn't that standard procedure?  Why wouldn't he alert his superiors he met with a member of the Tal'Shiar?

She'd have to figure that one out later.  She much had bigger problems right now.  There was a leak on Romulus which needed to be sealed at once.

T'Sanne snorted, maintaining her calm.  "You chastise me like one of my Vulcan cousins."

"Indeed," Taurik nodded slightly.  "I did find it a bit odd that a Tal'Shiar operative with Vulcan relatives would attempt to uncover a Romulan dissenter, when it is obvious we are likely to sympathize with their cause."

He suddenly bent over, looking her squarely in the eyes.  "I am going to perform a mind meld now.  When I am finished, you will remember nothing of this conversation.  You will instead recall that although your mission failed, you enjoyed yourself thoroughly on Assilla.  You will believe we went to Ah'Niis, that you drank Begosian wine for the first time, and that I told you the entire history of this planet."

T'Sanne snickered.  "You call that enjoyment?"

"After the memories of dinner will come memories of a more intimate nature," he said neutrally, as though reciting the evening temperature or telling the time.  "You will remember that we took the hover ferry back to our hotel, and I walked you to your door."

He reached out to her, slowly, gently touching her face.

"This won't hurt at all."

***

T'Sanne tried to not stumble off the transporter pad.  Already the crew of the Imator was giving her "the look"; they were clearly wondering what all transpired on the planet.  She practically ran back to her cabin and ordered the computer to lock her doors.

Oh, gods...dear gods, her mind whirled, even though Romulans no longer believed in the gods.

She kept trying to block out thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations...wave after wave of searing warmth washed over her body, making her heart pound in her side and knees knock together.

She took her third cold shower of the day, demanding the computer make the water as icy as possible, but nothing helped.  She could still taste his blood, smell his sweat, and now it was like being stricken with fever.

She'd never felt like this before, not with anyone.  She wondered if it was because Taurik was Vulcan; all her previous lovers (and they were far too few these days) had been Romulan.  Some had the passion, but no technique.  And some were as gray in bed as the uniforms on their backs.

But the Vulcan...the Vulcan's touched had scorched her flesh much like the sun scorched the deserts of his homeworld.  For a such a reserved conversationalist, he held nothing back when the clothes came off, and he did not hesitate to rip them off if necessary.

Speaking of...where was her plum silk dress?  She couldn't remember what became of it.

"You're certainly looking better."

T'Sanne had just stepped out of her bedroom and clutched her violet silk robe (formerly belonging to the now dearly departed Senator), jolted by the sudden voice.  She glared at the smirking face of her uncle on the console above her replicator.  Didn't the man know how to knock...so to speak?

"Now's not a good time, Uncle," she bit out.

"I just wanted to make sure you got back onboard safely," Kijar shrugged innocently.  "Tell me, did complete your mission?"

"I didn't uncover a dissenter based on Romulus," she admitted at once.

"I see," he nodded slightly without blinking, keeping a neutral gaze.  "You were too...busy, I take it?"

"It's not like that!" T'Sanne blushed.  "I met the contact.  I engaged him."

"Thoroughly, I imagine."

"Uncle, stop!" T'Sanne barked, her ears burning.  "I did what I was supposed to.  I don't think Taurik knows as much about Romulan affairs as you give him credit for."

"Perhaps not," Kijar sighed wearily.  "He is rather far from the core network."

"Oh...now you think of that?!??"

"You needed a vacation, my dear," Kijar chuckled.  "Assilla III was the perfect planet.  You know, that hotel of yours has quite a history."

"So I've heard," she waived dismissively, yawning.  "Look, Uncle.  I need to get caught up on some sleep before I head back Romulus.  Can we pick this up tomorrow?"

"Certainly, my dear.  I'll talk with you tomorrow."

***

Minister Kijar was sitting in his study, sipping that dreadful blue mint tea Vulcans favored so heavily.  Though he loathed the flavor, he had to admit it settled his stomach and helped him sleep.  He figured it was a sign he was getting on years.

The sunlight was fading outside now, and a gentle coolness was rapidly setting in.  He chuckled to himself, noticing for the first time what a creature of habit he'd become.

His wife had already gone to bed; he would join her once he finished reading the last of the reports from Romulus.  He briefly noted how large and empty his house was now that all his daughters were gone.

A green shimmer suddenly appeared across from him.  He looked up, startled not only that someone dared to beam directly into his home, but that transporter definitely bore a Romulan signature.

"Computer," he barked, "override--"

"Don't bother," T'Sanne calmly hushed him, as she finished materializing in front of his desk.  She was dressed in uniform, without hair out of place nor scuff on her boots.  And she was armed.

"T'Sanne," he gasped.  "What in the name of--"

"I didn't unveil a dissenter on based on Romulus, Uncle, because he's not on Romulus, you see."  She titled her head slightly to the right and drilled her dark eyes into his, kept her voice light, even as her words burned like fire.

"You and Taurik planned this, didn't you?" she asked softly.  "I knew it the moment you showed up at T'Kora's wake.  I was right the first time.  You never had dealings with her.  You didn't support her politics, but you hated her more than I did."

"What does T'Kora have to do with any--"

"Here's what I've got figured out, Uncle," she cut in curtly.  "You knew N'Hara would grill me once I got back to Romulus.  You knew we'd figure out that Taurik had performed a mind meld on me.  And you knew we'd be more determined than ever to go flying through the sector, tracking down leads to your phantom dissenter.  Except he's not a phantom, is he, Uncle?  You are the dissenter."

"T'Sanne," Kijar shook his head.  "You've been in the Tal'Shiar too long."

"Exactly," she snapped.  "I am Tal'Shiar.  When will you people learn that we aren't pawns?  We're not stupid.  And I will not be used by you to cover your tracks.  You were going to frame someone in T'Kora's family, weren't you?

"First Vreenak gets blown in the stars.  He was an asshole, yes, but you couldn't say he wasn't a patriot.  The shadow of suspicion fell on T'Kora, who favored an alliance with the Federation against the Dominion.  She couldn't have Vreenak screwing that up, so his shuttle was reduced to rubble.

"Then she makes the mistake of trying to kill me so no one ever finds out.  Her reward for that botched attempt is to have her precious great-grandchildren find her body bleeding out on the living room floor - but that wasn't supposed to happen, was it?  T'Kora was supposed to live long enough so you could cast suspicion of dissension upon her."

"T'Sanne," Kijar chuckled, "this is ludicrous speculation.  You look tired, my dear.  Perhaps you need to head back to Assilla III for a longer vacation."

"And have another Vulcan put his fingers to my head?" T'Sanne shouted, completely losing her cool now and not caring who heard her.  How dare he?  How dare he put her in this position?  A Tal'Shiar operative with a dissenting uncle?  What was he thinking?

"You know," she fumed, "you really screwed up, Uncle.  You talk just like Lieutenant Taurik.  Ah'Niis, twelve-legged crabs, Begosian wine, the 'fascinating' history of Hotel Ojona...like anyone on vacation gives a damn!"

Kijar was silent now; the flicker in his eyes told her he would protest no longer.  His secret was out.

And with his silent admission, T'Sanne felt her anger give way to grief.

"Why?" she heard herself sob.  "Do you know what this does to me?"  She actually felt hot tears running down her cheeks.  "Do you know what will happen when N'Hara finds out?"

Kijar moved quickly, coming round to place his hand gently on her shoulders.

"She won't find out," he assured her soothingly, much like he had when she was a child.  "No one will."

"She'll know," N'Hara grieved, her whole body shuddering violently as she hung her head in shame.  "She'll know about the meld.  There will be...h-holes in my story.  She'll want to p-p-purs-s-s-ue this t-t-to the end."

"The plan can still work," he rasped lowly.

"H-How?  T'Kora's dead."  T'Sanne sniffed deeply, forcing herself to regain composure.  "Her children are a bunch of spoiled, wealthy patriots - no one would ever suspect any of them of treason."

Kijar smiled then, warmly and broadly.

"On the contrary, my love," he assured her softly, "they will suspect them if the Tal'Shiar says they are worthy of suspicion."

I'm going to ruin your family, T'Kora, T'Sanne suddenly recalled her promise. I'm going to make it my personal, private mission to slowly eradicate your influence from this Empire. I'm going to spread all your secrets across this world, and set an example once and for all to every self-serving politician who would even think to abuse the Tal'Shiar.

Out of the blue, T'Sanne noticed she wasn't crying anymore. Her breathing and heart rate were steady, and her Uncle was gently drying the last traces of her tears.

She heard her voice come out as though from distance, from the throat of a stranger.

"Uncle...what do you have in mind?"

~ FIN ~

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