[USS Charon, Deck Three]
Dark. It should not be dark in here, even though there were still a few random malfunctions impairing the ship's automatic functions. Sakarra paused in the door to her quarters, allowing her senses to adjust.
Yes. Over there.
Although any but another Vulcan would have been hard put indeed to see even a trace of it, there was a silent fury simmering just below the surface of night black eyes and right now all of it was focusing on the intruder she knew with utter certainty was waiting for her in the shadows.
And then the darkness shifted and resolved itself into a tall, slender shape, moving with soundless grace. She should have known. But the belated realization that while most of her kind were fully capable of blending into the background, waiting patiently and quietly for untold lengths of time, only few were capable of stealth such as this one displayed did not much to improve Sakarra's temper.
Quite the contrary.
How dare he.
A violet gaze settled on the small woman in the unflattering Starfleet uniform that nonetheless only seemed to emphasize exquisite features and Voran gave a flawless bow of greeting. Hardly surprising she seemed ready to tear him limb from limb, the deep pools of her eyes ablaze in a face as unreadable and still as the desert. How a human was able to handle this was a mystery to him, but perhaps the man was blissfully unaware of his love interest's true nature. Of course there was always the possibility she was skillfully hiding it, though Voran's logic determined this to be highly improbable.
"T'sai." He moved towards the candles, unlit but still infusing the air with their subtle perfume, briefly turning his back to the young woman. If he was at all right about her, she would not appreciate any overt signs of distress nor the humble apologies his breach of protocol would by all rights call for. A flame sparked to flickering life, settling quickly to fill the room with hues of gold and deep shadows.
Soothing. And it was logical to assume this had precisely been his intention. For a species who lives under a merciless sun blazing in a sky of hammered copper the night is the only time of reprieve a harsh world softens around cruel edges and deadly deserts lie still under T'Khut's warm glow. Eyes capable of staring unblinking into Nevasa's blinding rays adjust to gentler light and bodies that had no escape from the all encompassing heat revel in the evening breeze. Even in this artificial environment, two motionless shapes instinctively responded to ancient cues and relaxed.
He kept his back to her for several more heartbeats until the anger in her stance evaporated with a minute shift, inaudible and felt only through the displacement of molecules in the otherwise perfectly still air. When he turned to face her again, there was silent disapproval in an eloquently raised brow, but curiosity as well.
"They have the ship."
There was no question in Voran's level baritone and the young woman understood it so, not even bothering to nod. Instead, she moved towards her desk with the long legged stride he never failed to appreciate for its careless elegance, shedding the heavy uniform jacket. The gesture was clear. Declare your business or leave.
Again, not really a question but rather a request for confirmation. Placing the jacket neatly over a chair, Sakarra briefly let her eyes linger on the blade mounted over her desk. She could calculate to the precise minute how long it had been since the Captain had presented these to her crew in a ceremony that had been perhaps the most joyous event this ship had ever seen. And still, it seemed so much longer. However heavy the toll of saving the Lyrillians had been, it was nothing compared to what had awaited them afterward. That day, there had been cause to celebrate. Now
What difference did it make. He was a Galae officer. It would be the Tal'Shiar who claimed the prize. And though the reach of V'Shar went further than many suspected, it would not be enough. Not this time.
"You have met him, yes?" Voran had quietly moved towards the replicator and now stood before the desk, putting down two glasses of steaming spice tea.
If one could call the near altercation a 'meeting' but this time, Sakarra nodded.
Ignoring the tea, she let her night black gaze settle on the tall frame of the V'Shar agent who still to everyone else's knowledge was little more than a highly efficient clerk and had inexplicably escaped confinement in the brig. There was a debt unsettled, the warning delivered despite orders to the contrary, and she would see it done sooner rather than later. But he was trying her patience.
"You do not need my assessment of the Vaek'Riov."
"I do not."
"There is a complication."
The young woman's exhale might as well have been a huff. "I believe under the circumstances the phrase 'hra'vae' would apply."
"Your Rihannsu has improved."
The possibility of spice tea flying towards his face at astonishing speed hung in the air for a split second. Interestingly enough, Voran found himself mildly disappointed when it did not.
"Six of the Temep`Shar's survivors are technicians. Two are scientists. And one crewmember of Charon has first hand knowledge of the Seleya-class design. Where do you believe the Sundered will turn when they find just how extensive the damage done by the V'Ket truly is?"
Grudgingly, Sakarra had to concede the point. Even the Tal'Shiar might hesitate to cause an incident by openly abducting Federation citizens, but they were far from home and out of contact. It would be too easy to take what they wanted and destroy the annoying Starfleet ship; leaving no trace, no evidence.
"What do you suggest."
"I would not presume to interfere in the ship's command structure, t'sai. Your Captain has chosen to set course for home." He studied the clear features softened by warm candlelight, serene and placid in their exquisite symmetry but subtly hinting at the steel that slumbered underneath. No, it was no wonder a man spawned by the union of a Vulcan with one of the Sundered would feel compelled to unravel the mystery, seek to find what was behind the dark currents stirring in eyes darker than a starless night. The question was how far such curiosity would go and whether it could become dangerous. Perhaps illogical to be concerned about vague threats rather than the very real predicament the entire crew was in, but it was equally illogical to ignore instincts.
"However, it might be prudent to appraise not only Starfleet of our current position and recent events but those with the ability to act swiftly if needed."
"They already know. And if they do not, they will shortly."
So, there were indeed things even this silent hunter did not know. Or at least only had partial knowledge of. Sakarra should have experienced at least a split second of smugness but there was only a brief flicker of dark humor in her eyes.
"They were prepared. As soon as it infiltrated the first Rihannsu ship they trapped it. Not for long, but long enough to copy a significant amount of information."
"I am certain Solkar will appreciate a full report so he may improve the coding."
This time, the young woman did huff. For an outworlder it was no more than a brief exhale but the tall Vulcan in the dusty black tunic new full well he was pushing it. Illogically, he seemed incapable of restraining himself. Heavy lidded violet eyes rested on the young woman who returned his scrutiny with a tiny wrinkle of an aristocratic nose.
"You are not here to ask me for assistance in an endeavor you are perfectly capable of "
"I am not, t'sai."
If he interrupted her one more time he'd find himself airborne and out in the corridor, debt or no.
"I am here to inform you that T'Pelar has filed formal charges. While both your Captain and your Chief of Security seem inclined to . overlook the incident that ultimately was motivated by concern for this ship, she whose plans were so completely shattered will seek retribution. You are the one she has chosen to focus her wrath on."
Her fingertips came to rest against the desk and Voran could not help but appreciate the perfection of those small hands fragile only in appearance, they hinted at underlying strength only in the carefully controlled way a fingernail the color of seashells tapped against the dark, polished wood. For an instant, the agent looked towards a patch of darkness where a shape darker than night slumbered on an exquisitely crafted sword stand.
He had known. Known the moment he sent his friend to deliver a message that the woman he was going to find far beyond Rihannsu space would cut a swath through the veil of deception that T'Pelar and her associates had so carefully wrapped around it all. Known she would not hesitate to put her Captain, her ship, before any other consideration and accept the consequences.
The V'Shar agent looked askance at the madness, the Vulcan bowed to the logic.
'Sovar my friend, one day we shall have to talk.'
"Kaiidth." Her melodious voice fell into the silence like raindrops on sun-soaked leaves "T'Pelar will do what she will." Without regard for the man still watching her every move, the young woman rounded the desk and strode towards the bedroom doors "I am expected in the mess hall. If there is nothing else " he caught her around the waist before she could pass him and thwarted the hand flying towards his neck barely in time.
Illogical. And quite irrational. But once more Voran was disappointed she settled for a look of profound disapproval rather than the passionate anger simmering in the depth of deep black pools. "Expected by Lieutenant Warren, yes?"
Even through the thick red uniform shirt, meant to shield one born to live under Nevasa's glare from the all permeating chill of Starfleet vessels, he could feel the heat radiating off the lithe body. And the tension that said he was playing if not with his life, then with his continued health. Fascinatingly, that was almost as exhilarating as the fact she was in his arms a last, close enough that he could bury his face in fragrant sable tresses or follow his daring move with one even more bold
"Yes." There was genuine amusement mingled with the righteous ire, subtle though it was, and Voran could not help but experience profound anger himself. For zero point eight seven seconds, jealousy warred with the wish to curse the Gods for this predicament and dispersed, leaving only the powerful will that presented a calm, collected surface.
"You would question my choice? Or is it rather you wish me to declare challenge?"
"And if I did?"
It seemed to derail her for the space of a heartbeat but no longer, and she shook her head. "I think not, Voran. Fa-wak i'tray-sha du."
Not without having to force himself to do it, he released her and watched her walk away, outwardly unperturbed. But in the doorway she paused and turned around, tilting her head inquisitively to the side "The Captain has not ordered the delegation's release."
"She has not." Voran stated dryly "However I found it prudent to excuse myself during the last few installments of 'I love Lucy' in the holodeck. While certainly educational, the program becomes repetitive after a while. If you would excuse me, t'sai." Another flawless bow and the tall Vulcan made for the door "I should not like to embarrass Commander Marcus unduly by having him find that his security measures were circumvented."
LtCmdr Sakarra Tyrax
V'Shar on the loose