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Old January 31 2013, 02:58 AM   #28
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

Thanks CeJay,

For your comments and support. I'll keep posting as long as I can, when I can. Glad you liked the intro of the Rushmore characters. It took a little longer than I expected to bring them into the story.

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Ministry of Security

Though T’Prell was authorized to beam directly into the offices of the V’Shar, she decided to take the ambulatory route. A flowing burgundy ceremonial robe covered her form-fitting ocean blue jumpsuit, a nearly unseen color on the largely desert world. She placed a burgundy scarf against her nostrils and lips, squinting her eyes as a spray of sand washed over her. Rarely did she visit the capital city anymore and she wanted to take a few moments to gaze up at the sand-brown spires grasping for the heavens.

She also wanted to get a handle on her emotions. It would not help her case if her emotions got the better of her. She had struggled with trying to affect the frigid mien of so many of her people, but it was difficult, especially with thoughts of Samson even now resurfacing.

Her worry for him had only increased since their last night together. She had once shared his mind, and would forever carry a part of him with her. She knew how much this mission prickled his conscience, no matter how coarsened and realpolitik Samson thought the war had made him. She knew the real him, she had seen the inside of his heart.

And T’Prell knew this mission would poison that heart, perhaps to such a degree that Samson would be lost to her.

The Ancient Ones and other gods had largely been forsaken by her people after the advent of Surak, but T’Prell had never found much comfort in Vulcan logic. So she had spent hours each day at the Temple of T’Panit, praying to both the Vhorani and the Inner Chorus that they would speed Samson home safe and soon. T’Prell wasn’t too picky about which deity was real or greater, her faith was all encompassing.

She chuckled a bit at the memory of all the raised eyebrows from the temple’s denizens. It was obvious that they had forgotten what a temple was for.

Warmed a little by the thought, T’Prell breezed through the unguarded entrance. She knew that her person had already been thoroughly scanned and her identity confirmed by discreet monitors. If something had been amiss, she would have been met with by automated defenses and then a real greeting party.

Since everything was in line, the woman strolled through the long foyer and into the main, bustling lobby. Taking on a stern countenance, she arched her back and intimated the coldest of her colleagues.

She knew it would be impolitic to smile or wave at familiar faces, so T’Prell gave curt nods of acknowledgment. Stepping into one of the empty lifts, she gave a vocal command. There was a brief pause, as she was scanned again.

Since she wasn’t vaporized, T’Prell guessed she was still a member in good standing. The lift whisked her to the Security Minister’s office. The receptionist waved her in and before T’Prell knew it, she was sitting down in a straight-backed chair, facing Satok, who served both as the Security Minister and the head of the V’Shar, Vulcan intelligence.

The broad-shouldered man wore a subdued gray jacket, with one line of ancient Vulcan script running down from the left shoulder. He regarded T’Prell with a cool expression. “It is agreeable to see you again Operative T’Prell.” He had been at the head of the V’Shar for nearly a decade, and so far had only a lick of gray at each temple.

She nodded, “It is agreeable to see you again too Minister Satok.” He motioned to an empty teacup. His own was filled with relen tea, its rich scent curling pleasantly into her nostrils. The two teacups, along the accompanying dishes and spoons were the only items on the man’s immaculate, blood green d’mallu wood desk. Despite the temptation, T’Prell declined the offer for a drink. She took a seat across from the security minister instead.

“Before your arrival I checked your schedule,” Satok said, and T’Prell didn’t have to believe in fabled Vulcan veracity to know that the security minister had done so. “You are not scheduled to return to active duty for another 300.8 hours.”

She dipped her head in acknowledgement. “I’ve come to ask a favor Minister.” The man’s jaw twitched, and his right eyebrow almost broke free of his face it raised so high.

“And what favor might that be?” Satok asked.

“I need passage,” T’Prell began slowly.

“To the Benzar system,” the man finished her sentence. Now it was T’Prell with the rogue eyebrow.

“How did you guess?”

Satok’s lips were almost touched by a smile. “We are aware of Admiral Glover’s excursion to the Benzar system.”

T’Prell wasn’t shocked, though she wondered how much the V’Shar really knew about the horrific weapon Samson carried with him. Not wanting to tip Satok off and make things even worse for Samson, she nodded. “Then you know that Samson will need my assistance.”

“Ousanas Dar is most capable,” Satok replied evenly. “He served with distinction in the V’Shar.”

“While I’ve lived on Romulus and other empire worlds in the last twenty years,” T’Prell countered. “Mr. Dar has barely stepped foot on Romulan soil since his defection. I know contemporary Romulans, plus I’m not one of their most despised exiles. Ousanas is very capable, but he isn’t as knowledgeable about modern Romulans as I am.”

“I think you overstate your anonymity,” Satok said. “Don’t underestimate the Tal Shiar or the nascent Tal Diann. It is in part because of your frequent visits to Romulus, under various guises and often without extensive cosmetic alteration, that we placed you away from the Romulan front during the war. We didn’t want you running inadvertently into someone who knew you to be someone else.”

“As you’ve stated before,” T’Prell got out, and this time without clenched teeth. At the time, and still, she had felt that decision had been illogical. With all of her knowledge and contacts in the Star Empire, her natural territory should have been there during the war, helping defeat the Dominion from the shadows.

“The situation that Admiral Glover is operating in is tenuous at best,” Satok continued. “It would not be fortuitous to have a V’Shar agent captured in Benzar space, especially if the admiral’s mission is unsuccessful. You no doubt are aware of the special animus that some among the Romulan ruling class reserve for Vulcans.”

T’Prell nodded, conceding that point at least. “I won’t get caught,” she flashed a winning smile. Most other Vulcans would’ve been offended by her display of emotion. Satok was nonplussed.

“Think of it this way,” she proposed, taking another tack, “Both Starfleet Intelligence and the V’Shar both want the admiral to succeed. By inserting me into the Benzite system I can provide the support to make that occurrence more likely.”

Satok nodded, and tapped his fingers together as he pondered her words. T’Prell patiently waited him out though her stomach was somersaulting. Finally the man said, “I will talk with colleagues in Starfleet Intelligence and Starfleet Command.”

T’Prell knew not to press it further. “Thank you Minister,” she said. Understanding that the meeting was over, she stood up.

Satok’s stare stopped her in her tracks. “Don’t get captured.” Though the words felt vaguely threatening, T’Prell sensed the concern underneath. “I advise you not to leave the planet in the meantime,” he paused, his expression darkening, “The sequence of recent events suggest that you will be journey to Benzar soon.”
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