Second Choice Version B
The young Romulan woman that entered the room was good-looking, well-clothed and obivously quite arrogant. She made her way directly to the bar and ordered a Hi`tayy in a controlled, dominant voice. The bartender nodded in response and quickly prepared the drink, carrying it over to the young woman who had placed herself in a corner near the entrance.
"Thanks", she said, but it didn`t sound like that. The bartender was seemingly not insulted, probably she had lived to see too many guests here to fall easily on such bad behaviour. She received the money and made her way slowly back to the bar.
Syren looked after the bartender. "A woman", she wondered. She had not suspected that this hell hole was run by a female. But perhaps she was better equipped to appeace men in rage than a male bartender would have been.
Somehow that woman appealed to her. Interesting. She up till now had not realized that she might be attracted by an elderly woman that was at least ninety, with gray streaks in her brown hair and a face that was once good-looking, but had changed over the years. The universe had not been on her side...
The bartender realized her gaze, and met her eye. They were as dark as her own, and as sturdy. And only when the next guest interrupted her with his purchase order, she withdraw.
Syren sipped her drink. She contemplated about her situation, sitting relaxed in the chair and whipping slightly. The note on the action had been clear, but the day had been not, so maybe she would have to return here tomorrow again.
She once again looked over to the bartender. The woman was now heavily engaged into conversation. For a Romulan, she was quite controlled, not laughing loudly on jokes, and especially not making them on her own. A drawback for her business, Syren judged drily, and went back to her own business.
"Is that seat free?" a melodious voice asked Syren two hours later, and pulled her out of her deep thoughts. The bartender was standing next to her.
"What if I say no?" Syren replied in the high-to-low accent of ch`Havran.
"Then I will simply go back to the bar and spend my short pause in conversation with someone else."
Syren looked into her eyes and decided that this was a too unusual person to let her leave simply.
"Sit down." She made a small wave with her hand.
"You are interested in me?" The woman asked in a low voice, barely audible in the noise of the bar.
"You are very ... direct." Syren replied in the same tone and volume.
"Is that a yes or a no?" The woman raised an eyebrow in question, and Syren was struck by the resemblance to the movement her father often made.
"I would prefer not to answer now", she replied, and suddenly realized that this sentence was as much Vulcan as a sentence could be when spoken in Rihannsu, yet the woman opposite to her didn`t seem to have noticed that, but answered: "Very well. My shift here ends at 24h, and if you are still here, I will take that as a `Yes`." She got up and left again for the bar.
Syren felt a rush of blood in her cheeks. She was submitted a proposal by a Romulan woman that could have been her mother - and she even decided to take it? She swallowed hard. That was unsettling. There had been experiments with women, but in age never more than two years ahead of her, and also only in secure settings. Such an encounter in Romulan space was almost suicidal. Neither men nor women were intented to have sexual interests in the same sex, it went against the ordered structure of family life which was held high on Romulus. Homosexuals were outcasted and easily sentenced to prison or death. If she got caught in the act, she would risk not only herself, but her mission.
But interest could mean just and only that, nothing more. And she had to wait anyway...
The bartender smiled faintly as she ordered the next drink.
It was late when the last guest had left, and the bartender had switched off the music. Suddenly the room felt empty and cold, the stale air making its way even through the natural filters of Syren`s nose. She had waited long enough, and stood up, making her way to the counter.
"I have yet to clear here a bit. Please take a seat.", the bartender said, washing cups and glasses and restoring the equipment in the shelves behind her. "I will switch off the lights", she added, and with a quick movement the room was darkened, only a small flickering emergency lamp adding some illumination behind the bar.
The woman twinkled to her. "When the light is off, the surveillance monitor is, too", she whispered to her guest. Syren felt a hint of insecurity, but nodded in agreement.
"It is agreeable to meet you, daughter of Spock", the woman suddenly said in perfect Vulcan.
Syren turned to stone. "I do not know what you are talking about", she replied in Romulan.
"You cannot deny your heritage - you sat there half the evening, frowing over material, with rasing an eyebrow every now and then and placing your hands in that highly symmetrical way with your fingertips almost, but not really touching your lips. Your features are also very much alike - if one knows him."
Syren was fast thinking. The woman hadn`t offered her his watchword, she was not a helper. Yet she knew enough of him to affiliate their relationship. She instinctively made a small move to her honor blade. She was no murderer, but she was also no easy victim. She would do what was needed to ensure her mission.
"You do not need that", the woman answered with a glance at the weapon.
Syren decided on fight instead of flight. "Who are you?"
The woman did not reply to her question, but instead carefully searched Syren`s face in the little light that was left.
"You mother... it is Saavik, is it?"
Syren couldn`t but let a deep breath escape her control. No answer would be an answer too, she knew that. Simply denying went against her beliefs, and affirming against her job. She sat unmoved and gazed back at the woman who obviously knew all about her parents. She searched her memory for some information, but she had never met her.
"Who are you?" she asked again in a low voice. "Answer me."
The woman frowned. "Or you will do what? Mind-meld with me, and find the answers for yourself?"
"What are you implying?" Syren asked, and suddenly felt tired of the game. "If you want to make a statement, do it now and do it openly. Otherwise, hold your tongue."
"You do not know, then. Well, I will tell you who I am. I was once Valeris, member of Starfleet." The woman made a theatrical pause, but as Syren didn`t react to that, went ahead: "I have been a protegee of your father, just like Saavik had been before me... the precious, perfect, wonderful Saavik. We befriended each other in the governement offices in ShanaiKahr, when I applied for Vulcan citizenship, and she made the first contact between Spock and me. I went to the academy, and then applied to the Enterprise for its mission to escort Chancellor Gorkon to Earth for the upcoming peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire."
Syren remembered her history lesson all too well now. There had been a conspiracy, but the traitors had been unmasked in time. Valeris was one of them, but there had been many, ranging from Starfleet`s admirality to Klingon advisors down to even the Romulan ambassador. Her father had been one of the main negotiators of the peace treaty on Kithomer.
"And how exactly does your former action correlate to our talk here?", she asked without displaying a sign of the upraising foreboding.
"Did your father ever tell you what he did to me on the bridge of Enterprise?"
Syren slightly shook her head.
Valeris` voice pitched higher now, she was getting excited, and anger that had built up for decades shone up.
"He forced me to give away my fellow conspirators."
Syren looked as cold as ice in sudden fear of what was to come, her breathing was forced, but her voice didn`t waver a second. "How should he have achieved that?"
The young woman still looked like the perfect Vulcan, and that made Valeris spit out her next words in open hate.
"He forced a mind-meld on me!"
She was granted with the sight of shock in Syren`s eyes, and she went ahead.
"He grabbed my arm when I wanted to turn away, and he forced his hand in my face, to my melting points, and then he was in my brain... He took what he needed, he brushed through in anger and contempt, and then he wanted to find something that I did not know..."
Valeris swallowed. The memory of this moment was still hurting, after all these years.
"He searched for it. His fingertips felt like hot liquid metal, and his so very controlled mind pierced through my shields, ruptured my ridiculous defenses and went into my most private areas, the very center of my soul. In the end I cried in pain, but he did not stop before he was sure that the information could not be found in my mind."
Syren closed her eyes briefly. It could not be true. It had to be not true.
Valeris looked at her, and her dark eyes were shaded. "He left a devasted trail. And he didn`t care. He also didn`t care afterwards. He was so hurt by my action, that he never talked to me again. He also never excused himself for that rape. I had admired him, I had even loved him, but I had vulnerated his emotions, and he took revenge with all his might."
Syren met her gaze, and searched for words, carefully placing them. "It sounds like he was himself very much... hurt by your actions. You betrayed your loyalities with that conspiracy."
"No, I didn`t. I knew where they lay, I knew it all the time. But he took my actions personally, where they were only a matter of different loyalities. In my opinion the peace treaty was against the needs of the many, and I thought he would understand this, especially since I knew how much he could and would give up to follow his beliefs. But he did not understand."
Syren felt a deep pain inside. There was no easy excuse for an action like this. She cleared her throat and asked the question that pondered through her mind: "Why was it never prosecuted by the authorities? A forced mind-meld is considered a profoundly crime on Vulcan."
Valeris looked at Syren. She was looking exhausted, now that she had spilled out the story of her misery.
"It never made its way into the records. The old crew was one glued-together team, they had backupped each other for a lifetime, and the new crew members didn`t realize what had happened. Kirk put a simple note in his report, saying that Captain Spock got the information from me by interrogation, where the word should have been "torture". Whom would the Vulcan authorities believe, a proven traitor or a Starfleet hero and heir of the house Surak? They outcasted me immediately and withdrew my citizenship."
It fitted all too well. Syren had ceased to look at Valeris, but rested her eyes on the surface of the counter, focussing on the unevenness in the wood and memorizing every single cut and burn that could be found there. How could he do something like that? She knew that he was not perfect, but she had believed in his integrity, in his ethics. This would change her image of him forever. She took another deep breath and said the only soothing thing she could think of.
"I cannot ask forgiveness on behalf of my father, but I assure you that I personally deeply regret what has happened."
Valeris looked at her intensely. "You could have been my daughter", she whispered suddenly. "But there, on this day, I lost all that I had worked for so hard. I went to Romulus after my ten years in prison. The sundered are the right place for someone who failed in the eyes of Vulcan."
Syren heard the steps and the muffled sounds on the main corridor, and suddenly she realized what happened.
"The surveillance equipment was not shut off. You lied to me."
"Yes, I lied. And I admit that. That is more than he ever did. In his eyes his lies were omittances, miscalculations, errors. He learned the Human way all to well in the company of Kirk."
Syren didn`t even move her head to the door when the Romulan Imperial guards came in, but stared cold at the elder woman as if there was noone else in the room. "So now you have your revenge?"
"You misunderstand me as much as your father did. My loyalities lie here now, with Romulus. You are a spy. There is only one way I could react. Where are your own loyalities, in what do you believe?"
Valeris could see that she had hit the goal, yet Syren remained cool and serene, as if not feeling the metal of the closing cuffs that shackled her hands behind her back, now that the guards had pulled her into stand.
"Greet Spock from me, when you meet him in the death cell," Valeris said, but her voice lacked the insult that was intended by her words, and when Syren was dragged away she could see that Valeris` final gaze was full of sorrow...