Of Two Worlds
"Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it…"
"A perfect catalyst?" Kirk echoed in response to the FIA agent's pronouncement.
"I quite agree," Spock said.
Kirk shook his head slowly, "Incredible."
"However, it is a fact that DOHS is not putting all its eggs in this one basket," Fellows said. "DOHS' threat to the Federation is quite real, and Dr. Grayson is only one of many targets. They are no longer even secretive about their plans. They've claimed they have the next seven assassins in place, and plan to not only complete their sentences within the year, they've warned they'll continue their actions until the Federation is purged of all such traitors."
"There are no non-humans on the DOHS list." Spock observed neutrally.
"That's correct. They consider aliens beneath their notice. Their sentences are for crimes by humans against humanity. Basically, they're hoping to accomplish by terrorism what their political agenda has failed to accomplish. They want the Federation to disavow its non-human members, or they want the human worlds to organize to create a new Federation."
"That's lunacy." McCoy said.
"Well, these are fanatics, Doctor," Fellows responded, a trace of exasperation in his tone, almost the first sign of personality. "There is nothing to say fanatics can't be well organized."
"And our mission?" Kirk prompted.
"Basically to eradicate the DOHS threat in the Eridani sector, specifically, Vulcan, and most specifically, the agents after Amanda. The FIA was hoping to deal with this whole situation, when it learned of it, in as subtle a manner as possible, due to its politically explosive nature. Vulcan's position," he glanced at Spock, "has unfortunately prevented that. But it now seems that may have been a lost cause from the start, given DOHS' pronouncements. In any event, our immediate task is to remove the DOHS assassins, and restore enough faith in FIA intelligence and security so that Vulcan will recall its own garrison, and restore normal commerce and information transfer."
The intercom whistled, and Kirk punched the channel open. Chekhov's features superimposed themselves over the data on the screen. "Priority orders coming in from Starfleet, Captain. We need a command officer to acknowledge."
"On my way."
Fellows laid a hand on Kirk's arm. "Perhaps you could delegate that to your First Officer, captain. I would like to go over some security arrangements with you."
Spock raised an eyebrow to his Captain, and after a moment, Kirk nodded dismissal to the First Officer.
"What security arrangements?" Kirk said, when the door closed behind Spock.
McCoy rose. "I don't suppose this has anything to do with me."
"I'd like you to stay, Doctor," Fellows said. "This does concern you."
McCoy sank back down, and Fellows regarded them both evenly. "What do you know of your first officer's family, Captain?"
"I didn't even know of his family until just recently," Kirk said neutrally.
"The Babel Conference."
"Yes. My first officer is a private person. I'd prefer to keep it that way."
"Unfortunately, your first officer chose the wrong parents for that." Fellows said shortly, and changed the terminal screens. "On both sides of his family. We are in an unenviable position, gentlemen. We can't investigate an attempted murder that occurred 100 parsecs away. But at present, no Federation forces have been able to get close to the situation. And even before this attempt, it has been notoriously difficult to establish proper information channels on Vulcan. Vulcan security is extremely difficult for humans to infiltrate and they are, as you say, a private people. Yet information is always the key to an operation like this. You should see what we have." He raised an eyebrow. "Unless your concern for your first officer's privacy takes precedence over your duty?"
"Go on." Kirk said shortly.
Fellows keyed a switch. "Background on the subject. She was born Amanda Heather Riana Grayson Rudbeck, only child of Rudyard and Riana Rudbeck, heir to the Rudbeck empire, considered one of the top 100 financial conglomerates in the Federation.
Kirk's mouth opened soundlessly.
"You didn't know that?" Fellows nodded. "She has quite a personal fortune, though she hasn't used the Rudbeck surname since her teens. Rudyard inherited the empire himself, from his great-grandfather, but he was a financial genius in his own right. It seemed everything he touched turned to money. He died of a heart attack on their yacht on a Mediterranean cruise."
He shrugged. "I'll skip over her earlier background. She met Sarek while he was in Geneva negotiating the Federation/Vulcan alliance treaty terms. She was there working with the noted ethologist Jacob Meyers. She'd already made something of a name for herself countering Meyer's original theories. Somehow she caught Sarek's attention. He made it a condition of the negotiations that she do a comparative study on some treaty talking points. And the rest, as they say, is history."
"Love at first sight?" McCoy asked with amusement. "Well, well."
Fellows raised a skeptical brow. "There are those who quaver about romance. Certainly the scandal rags were full of it. But it's hard to say what brought about that unlikely alliance. Some, more cynical perhaps, claim Sarek noticed how brilliantly she handled the press, the interest and favorable publicity that she had generated in her own field, and coldly decided to annex her as a political asset."
"Why didn't he just hire her?" Kirk asked. "That would be more…logical."
"Maybe he thought she couldn't be bought. I won't deny there was some thought, some hope even, by Federationists that she could be bought, as an useful influence of human interests with the Vulcans."
"A spy in the enemy camp?" McCoy queried.
Fellows shrugged. "At least a very human influence to a very powerful Vulcan. She didn't take long to quickly dash those hopes. It hasn't exactly made her beloved among the Terran delegations and humanists. One can't quite say she has …switched loyalties, but she has obviously felt that Terra has to make their own case with Vulcan interests without her inside influence. And there's no question that whatever influence she does have privately, publicly she consolidates Vulcan's views very well. She started off as a Cinderella darling with the popular press and she cleverly took advantage of that interest to put forward all Vulcan's positions in the media. Between Sarek's formidable logic and her charm, and the Federation's need for Vulcan, over the years she's helped Sarek make Vulcan the force that now holds a major block of worlds behind it. By now her position is so consolidated, that no human/alien issue is considered complete without some sort of quote from her in the media. And don't think the political analysts don't look for it. She's become a press icon, if an off-the-record one, and she's formidable in that respect. Oh, it's all very subtle. She holds no official position. All her quotes are officially off the record, not part of the Vulcan delegation, meaning she can't be challenged. But the Terran side has nothing to compare or counter against her. She can take a broad shot across our bow with almost complete immunity."
"Our bow?" McCoy asked. "Aren't we all in the Federation together?"
Fellows shrugged. "I'm speaking of the Terran view. Which is often on the opposite side of the negotiating table from the Vulcan one. She handles the populist media, the public relations aspect. Sarek mops up the negotiations at the table. It's a formidable act. So, it's no wonder DOHS went after her. Regardless of Sarek's reasons for marrying Amanda, she's served Vulcan interests very well. As for her and Sarek personally – whatever 'romance' happened between them didn't take long."
"A whirlwind romance?" McCoy drawled. "I didn't know Vulcans had it in them. Certainly our resident Vulcan can't seem to --"
"Doctor. Please. Regardless of their personal relationship, Sarek certainly seemed to know what he wanted. He demanded of the Federation Secretary that Amanda be freed of all other legal commitments within six weeks of their first meeting. That's classified, by the way. Though its rather common knowledge at the highest level in Federation Security affairs."
"And they did it?" Kirk asked.
"Oh, yes. She was only under contract to Harvard, and to some media outlets, but the Federation Attorney General didn't waste any time digging up an obscure law to release her from those. Though in fact she met most of those commitments. But for all practical purposes, she was an essential part of those treaty tributes."
"You're not suggesting she was …unwilling?" McCoy drawled. "Forgive me, sir, but I've met the lady. I'm no judge of Vulcans, but I am a fair judge of humans. And when her husband was in my sickbay she rarely left his side. And she didn't seem like a pushover to me."
Fellows shrugged. "After years of being in a telepathic bond with a Vulcan, who can say how much she's been ….influenced."
"I don't much care for that assertion," Kirk frowned.
And McCoy added, "Seems to me humans are notoriously hard to influence, in matters of the heart."
"Gentlemen, all I am saying is no one knows. Too much of all this is classified, and there is so much of rumor and hyperbole in all the news reports of that time, so much in the populist press, the scandal sheets and romance rags, that even a security agent would be hard pressed to know the full truth. I'm not sure if she herself even knows the whole story. It certainly wasn't all roses between her and Sarek then. There were several reports of serious arguments between them, and the press caught Amanda at least twice storming out of the embassy in a fury. But whatever their arguments, they settled them, and whatever his… persuasions, she accepted them. Their marriage was very private, but they've been living in the media's eye ever since. When Sarek completed the treaty negotiations, he returned to Vulcan, and he took Amanda with him. And she's stayed at his side ever since."
"But I still don't see the point of this," Kirk said coldly. "Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda's private life is really none of our business."
"But it is, Captain," Fellows returned. "Surely you realize now that with the security that they live under, the only way someone could get to Amanda, regardless of her headstrong views of security, would be to become a part of that private life. And the only way we're going to catch that person is to also be part of that private life. There's no sense pretending otherwise. It's our duty. It's your duty."
"We?" McCoy said, when Kirk seemed unable to do more than stare at Fellows, dumbfounded.
"Why was the Enterprise was diverted to take you to Vulcan?" Kirk asked. "Why pull my ship off patrol and send her across two quadrants? The Gallant was right in there. They're a starship as well, and, as a matter of fact, just had a refit 9 months ago. They're as or more capable for this mission, whatever it is, than the Enterprise."
"The answer to that is wearing commander's stripes," Fellows said easily.
Kirk narrowed his eyes. "Are you suggesting Spock has had anything to do with this assignment? We haven't sent or received anything by subspace to or from Vulcan. He's had no contact. And from what you say, he wouldn't have been able to make contact, given Vulcan has instigated a virtual communications blackout."
"Then explain to me why my ship is taking you to Vulcan. I understand why Spock was cut orders to go there, but he could have taken a long range shuttle, and caught up with the Gallant in twelve hours. We thought we were going to represent the Federation at a state funeral but obviously the Federation and the commanding Admiral know that is not the case. Or at least you know it now. Why is my ship diverted from our patrol?"
"Starfleet did order the Gallant to Vulcan when word came of Amanda's assassination attempt," Fellows admitted. "And the original plan was that I'd be on her. But by that time Vulcan had set up its garrison and cleared its airspace. It ordered the Gallant away." He smiled at the astonishment on the captain's face as Kirk tried to imagine Vulcan ordering off a Federation allied starship. "You find that surprising?"
"Yes," Kirk admitted.
"Why should Vulcan be any less efficient when it comes to their own protection? They've were defending themselves from Romulans for millennia before the Federation even heard of Romulans."
"You're saying the Gallant disregarded her own orders? That she left her post at Vulcan Space Central's command?" Kirk skepticism was obvious. "A starship captain disregarding orders?"
"You've been known to do that yourself, Captain. But in this case, the Gallant didn't have any choice. Seeing as how she was looking down the maw of three of Vulcan's best light defensive cruisers." Fellows half smiled at Kirk's shock. "They are smaller, but reputedly more maneuverable in a fight than a starship. And their weaponry is rumored to be better as well, though whether it is or isn't is also top secret. Vulcans aren't known for firing their phasers. Certainly not for testing them where observers can …observe. We just don't know much about those ships. We do know their security is virtually unbreachable and they have some of the best defenses in the Federation. And Vulcans aren't known for bluff."
"I'll agree with that," McCoy drawled. "Jim still hasn't managed to teach--"
"Bones," Kirk gestured his Chief Medical Officer to silence.
"Faced with that showdown, the Gallant moved off."
"But their security isn't totally unbreachable, given what happened to Amanda," McCoy argued.
"Yes, but even that's a source of deep concern," Fellows said, his brow furrowed. "How did DOHS get to Amanda? Vulcan does full visa reviews of anyone seeking to go on-planet. Anyone likely to come in contact with Amanda is given even more scrutiny, a habit from her earliest days on Vulcan when every press hound was after her. Her security on Vulcan isn't very tight now, not like it is when she and Sarek travel off planet, or compared to when she was first married. But Vulcan security screens everyone so thoroughly before they can get on planet that its almost inconceivable an assassin could slip through."
"Except one did," Kirk commented.
"Yes," Fellows agreed. "But that the Vulcans haven't arrested someone immediately means it is no obvious recent entry. This looks like a plant. A sleeper. A spy with a false identity, one very well cast. And that means we don't know how long they've been there, or how many other plants might be there, and who else might be targeted. The attack on Amanda is bad enough. I've told you something of the importance of her role, however unofficial, in Federation/Vulcan affairs, so that you understand the importance of this mission. She may look like an Ambassador's wife, a teacher, as she portrays herself, but she's rather something more. And whatever you or I might think of it, based on their history and his prior actions, obviously Sarek considers her of ...import... to his profession.
"I see," Kirk said soberly.
"Apart from Amanda, if Sarek is killed or injured, the Federation would lose the most experienced and reasoned voice arguing for Vulcan's continued presence in the Federation. He may not be always on Terra's side, but he is a major force for unity in the Federation. And with the loss of him, under such circumstances, Vulcan no doubt would secede."
"What do you expect the Enterprise do? We're not trained in espionage. Not this kind of espionage," Kirk asked.
"The Federation is hoping that, because of Spock, Vulcan will at least give the Enterprise a parking orbit. Something she denied the Gallant. And with that, a chance for me to negotiate for a better role in resolving this crisis. I have to get to Sarek. Before anyone else can get to him."
"Given that DOHS threats are only against humans so far, is it really likely that Sarek is at risk?" McCoy asked.
"Whatever that risk, we can't take it."
"But what if the Vulcans don't allow the Enterprise in?" Kirk asked, thinking unhappily of his ship being fired upon by a superior or near superior and friendly Federation-allied force. Or worse, being expected or ordered to fire on them. "Are we supposed to force our way in? To fight our way in? To fire on Vulcan ships? A friendly and allied Federation planet? One that has already suffered an attack? You can't expect the Enterprise to fire on Vulcan. In those circumstances, I'd have to retreat, just like the Gallant."
"We hope – we expect – that Sarek will at least let Spock through the garrison. And hopefully you and McCoy as well, attending him as his friends. It's well known that since the Corridan incident, you all have something of a personal relationship with your First Officer's family. And you've got that golden tongue, that persuasive manner. You can persuade your First Officer. And Sarek has so recently reconciled with his son – yes we know about that too -- that if Spock requests it of his father, we believe Sarek will let all three of you through. On planet. In place. And that then, somehow, you will find a way, a reason, to bring me down. That's all I need.
"Now, wait a minute," McCoy said. "I'm a doctor, not a damn spy. I'm not sure I want any part of this setup."
"You're a doctor, and you've got a patient there. Amanda was injured, and the final report we had before communications were shut down was that Sarek pulled her right out of the Terran Emergency Center. He isn't trusting her to be safe even in the hospital affiliated with the Terran embassy. She'll have no one to treat her. But after the surgery you did on him, we think he'll trust you, McCoy. At least, we have hope," he added.
McCoy sat back, silenced by this.
"What little relationship I have with Sarek – and my relationship with Spock – is based on trust. And honor," Kirk said. "You can't expect me to take advantage of that relationship."
"I can and will. Those are your orders, Captain." Seeing Kirk's grave doubt, he added, urgently. "We have to get a window open in this information blackout. And somehow I have to get to Sarek as well, Captain. You must realize that Sarek will keep Amanda close at hand now. And if this sleeper agent is still at large, if the DOHS agent discovers Amanda is still alive, and if they try again, if Sarek is nearby and is attacked, injured, perhaps assassinated, that could be it, gentlemen. Losing Amanda would be bad enough for Federation politics. Losing Sarek, in these circumstances, in an attack by pro-Human forces against non-human factions would mean the end of the Federation as we know it. We have got to get in there, and prevent it. This is as important as any mission you might have executed."
Kirk drew a pained breath. "I suppose we have no choice."
"I'm still no spy," McCoy muttered.
But no one paid him any attention.