“Lt. Commander Meldin, I demand to know the meaning of this?” High Commissioner McCall shot out of her seat as soon as he entered the room. Glancing at the two muscled guards flanking him, Meldin wanted to ask her the same question.
However, the woman’s slightly disheveled appearance and bleary eyes told him that she had been roused from sleep like he had. The whipcord thin Romulan male sitting behind the room’s sole desk, stood up as well. He tugged on his the front of his slate gray tunic, adorned only with an avian insignia of position along his left shoulder blade.
The man was a quaestor, the Romulan equivalent of a constable. The quaestor slid an amused look at the flustered, florid McCall before speaking, “I am Quaestor Helved, and I apologize for disturbing your sleep.” The commissioner harrumphed before folding her arms and plopping down in her chair. Meldin expected her to start pouting next, to complete the caricature of a spoiled child. Yet she denied him that sense of completion. The woman glared at Helved.
“Do you know who I am?” She flared. “And how much your leaders are not going to appreciate your mistreatment of a person of my station.”
By now Helved had also sat down and had offered a seat to Meldin as well. The Benzite hadn’t wanted to take it, until he was roughly nudged by one of the guards.
Sitting reluctantly, and with both guards looming behind him, Meldin watched the hoverball game of hard eyeballs exchanged between the quaestor and the commissioner. “It is regrettable if you were mistreated,” Helved finally conceded. “If you make an official statement, I will make sure those who are to blame are thoroughly disciplined.”
“That sounds more like it,” McCall said, smirking in triumph. “You still haven’t explained why you have brought me or the lieutenant commander to your office.”
Helved’s fingers formed a steeple and his eyes grew hooded under his heavily ridged brow. He motioned at one of the guards. The man left. Moments later, a new figure, with a lighter step, and an alluring scent entered the room. Intrigued, Meldin half turned in his seat.
A petite Romulan female strode in. She was dressed in a dark brown uniform, bisected by a black harness. Her smooth olive complexion was accented with a healthy green flush. Her glistening black hair was cut in a shorter style than even most Romulans wore. She held a personal access display device in her black gloved hands.
Except for Amanisha, Meldin generally wasn’t drawn to non-Benzite females, but he had to admit this woman was very comely. And perhaps what both interested and chilled him most was that her verdant eyes held no pity. Helved half stood out of his seat and gestured at the woman as she came to a crisp stop in front of the desk and between Meldin and McCall. “Major Vorot of the Tal Shiar,” he said, not hiding his disdain.
The woman gave him a mirthless, small smile, “The Quaestor is displeased by my presence,” Vorot began. “But it is certainly not an indication of his ineffectiveness,” she said, “quite the contrary.”
Helved, back in his chair, said nothing. He clearly wasn’t convinced. “When matters of national security are concerned, the Tal Shiar are duty bound to act.”
Meldin’s heart thudded. National security? “What are you talking about?” McCall demanded, though the Benzite heard a strain of concern in her voice. Vorot looked at them both, as if studying them, but Meldin couldn’t help but feel she was toying with them as well.
“Both of you are acquaintances of Commissioner Morah,” Vorot said. It wasn’t a question.
“What are you talking about?” McCall asked, her voice limned with anxiety. “I just talked to the woman briefly a few hours ago. Whatever she’s done I had no part of.”
Emotionless, Vorot said, “Commissioner Morah is dead.”
Château de Saint Brisson
Residence of Presidential Chief of Staff
The woman was waiting for him in his living room. Garth Logan had just stepped off his personal transporter pad, eager to relax with a glass of red wine, when he sensed a presence in the darkness.
His muscles coiled, as his eyes narrowed, adjusting to the darkness rapidly, thanks to genetic enhancements. Despite the Section’s avowed mission to protect the Federation and preserve its ideals, the Directorate wisely wasn’t above skirting or breaking those laws when they conflicted with the mission, ergo ignoring Federation legal bans on genetic engineering.
He saw a slender figure, sitting calmly in his recliner. “Lights,” he ordered, still tense. The room’s lights came on. A fair skinned Kamorian smiled thinly at him, her large, widely spaced eyes brimmed with bemusement.
“Eleuth,” Logan said smoothly, as if her appearance wasn’t expected. “I am flattered that you chose to visit my domicile, but usually I conduct business in my office.” The dark-haired woman was dressed in civilian clothes, with no sign of her rank or her true loyalties obvious.
“I would think Mr. Logan that you wouldn’t want me to visit you in your office, since those visits are matters of public record.”
“Of course,” Logan said, “Care for a drink?” He made to go for his dining area. His fingers still twitched, a mere flick away from activating the fold-out disruptor attached to his wrist.
“The Corvallen freighter should have made contact with the Benzite resistance by now,” she said. “Yet we have not received word from them…or you.”
“I’m sure you are aware that things generally don’t on a clock work schedule, especially when you are dealing with the vagaries of space travel.”
“Not good enough,” Eleuth sat up in her seat, her eyes boring into him. “Not when Special Affairs provides you one of the most devastating weapons in our possession. You certainly didn’t think we wouldn’t keep tabs on it, or you, did you?”
“I expected as much,” Logan said. He shrugged. “I have not received acknowledgment of receipt yet,” he admitted. “I’m not concerned about it…yet, and neither should you.”
“That’s cold comfort,” Eleuth said, “and nothing to take back to my superiors.”
“I would remind them of why they agreed to this idea in the first place,” Logan offered. “Even now the Romulans are trying to manipulate our representative’s innocent remark into a declaration of war, and many Benzites believe them. They won’t be so receptive once Romulan jackboots begin to grind them into the dust.”
“So you say,” Eleuth said, her huge eyes filling with doubt.
“And let’s not forgot who is entrusted with your precious Iconian device,” Logan pointed out. “Samson Glover and Ousanas Dar have successfully infiltrated Romulan territory on more than one occasion. They are patriots through and through, the best of the best.”
“No one is disputing their patriotism or competence,” Eleuth allowed. “But the odds stacked against them are formidable.”
“You should gamble more,” Logan smirked. “If you’re busy tonight, perhaps a jaunt over to Las Vegas?”
Eleuth was not amused. “As soon as you make contact with Admiral Glover, let us know.” She stood up. He moved toward the door to let her out. “I’ve got my own way out.” She smiled, before tapping a device clipped to her belt. She disappeared in a flash later.
“Personal transporter,” Logan nodded, very impressed. He would have to recommend that the Section steal one of them from Special Affairs.
Finally alone, Logan sighed, but it brought him no comfort. Despite his feigned nonchalance, he should’ve heard from Madsen by now. If nothing else, the woman should’ve checked in. He didn’t want to give his doubts and fears free reign, but it was coming to that point.
He wasn’t so much worried about Special Affairs and Investigations. There were some murky things going on within that organization but nothing that gave Logan much concern. He was more troubled by when his own people would visit and demand answers.
Skipping the wine, he hustled to his personal alcove beside his bedroom. Activating his personal subspace communicator, Logan feared that one man might know the answers for Madsen’s disruption in her reporting schedule.