The darkness was broken by the materializing Richter and Tabitha. When the light of the transporter beam died, they were left in the dim light holding each other. Tabitha spoke first, "is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" Once again, Richter felt his face flush. "Just joking, Admiral. If you don't break the tension once in a while you'll snap."
"Alright, you are going to have to explain how a Vulcan can do that. You joke, you smile, you laugh, you act like a human, but I know that you're not. Even your speech and mannerisms are human. I know that your appearance was surgically altered, but the emotions?" Tabitha sighed, "I suppose that I can tell you. The Vulcan part of my mind, the logic and dispassion, is compartmentalized in my mind. Preserved, if you will, for when I leave this life of seduction and assassination. The technique for that is a very ancient one called V'lar T'cha. We Vulcans are a very perceptive people and when we were ruled by our emotions it was very difficult to veil them. So, our first spies were taught how to submerge and compartmentalize those emotions in order to blend in and perform their duties. Today, we submerge and compartmentalize our logical selves in order to infiltrate and blend in with other more emotional species so that we do not reveal ourselves to them."
"I never even knew that was possible! The only Vulcans I have ever known were aloof and cold. Vulcan intelligence must use that technique a lot." Tabitha smiled, "not so much," she said. "Logic demands rigorous discipline and attention and only a few are able to compartmentalize that part of themselves. Most often, the practitioner of the technique goes temporarily insane, and some never recover from that. So, I am one of the few to have ever achieved the desired outcome, and I risk not being able to re-integrate with my logical self when I retire. But my choice was only logical given the needs of the many over the needs of the few." Richter was silent for a bit. "I'm sorry that you had to risk what you have. I know that you would not have done so if it wasn't for the greater good. Thank you, Tabitha." "You're welcome, Admiral, and when we are alone, just call me T'Paal." Richter smiled, "and you can call me Wulf. Now, what's next?"
"Right, computer: lights!" And the darkness receded as the lights slowly came up. T'Paal walked over to a darkened console, activated a hidden switch, and the console came to life. She looked intently at the data and said only one word, "fascinating." His curiosity aroused, Richter asked what it was that she had found. "The two assassins had trackers on them. The analysis of the devices indicates that they were made from off the shelf components, but they transmitted on a sub-space band. It's very similar to the combat comms of the Vaadwaur that you discovered on Kobali Prime during combat operations there. The signal is omnidirectional though, so we won't be able to track the destination." "Do you think that the Iconians are involved here?" T'Paal was thoughtful before replying, "I don't believe so. It doesn't have the earmarks of Iconian technology. Besides, why wouldn't they just use their own tech instead of crafting it from off the shelf parts? But I do know someone that can help." "Oh yeah, who?" T'Paal smiled, "you."
"You want me to contact the Iconians?" "Indeed, when the Iconians retreated to their home system, they told the galaxy, don't come knocking. But you are the "other." If they will answer anyone's hail, it will be yours. The Solonae are their vassal race and they live in sub-space. If anyone knows about a rogue signal there, it will be them, and if the Iconians ask, they will get an answer. Besides, this is the only lead that we have." That's assuming that there was enough of a disturbance created by the device to be noticed in the first place, but you're right. Next steps?"
"I have a client that has a D'Kora docked at the station. He owes me for an assassination that I did as a favor for him. I'm sure that he won't mind lending us his ship." This time, it was Richter that raised an eyebrow, "Do I even want to know the details of that assassination?" "No, you really don't. Come on, we have some walking to do. I'm thinking that if we use a transporter signal, we will be spotted. The halls down here are like a maze, but I know the way to the hangers. Come on, Wulf!" And she headed for the door. Richter followed, but his mind was not idle.
Iconians, if they have a hand in what's going on it's going to be a bitch to stop them. If I'm lucky, it will only be T'Ket that I'll have to deal with. But why would she send assassins after me? That's not her style. I've made so many enemies over the past two years that I have to keep my head on a swivel. And why is somebody trying to weaken the Federation? Is it conquest? To limit our options? A new temporal war? The only thing for certain at this point is that we have a hell of a lot more questions and almost no answers. The halls were uncomfortably warm and Richter was beginning to sweat. On the bright side, he thought, the view from back here is nice.
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