The intercom's quiet chirp broke T'Lar's concentration on the report. Frowning slightly, she reached for the controls on her desk.
"Commander," she recognised the voice - Ensign Sarah Gustavsson from the Operations department - "There is a personal message for you, from Vulcan."
Raising an elegant eyebrow, the woman leaned back in her chair. "Please put it through, Sarah. And thanks."
"Any time, ma'am," came the cheerful, lightly accented voice, before the image on the computer terminal flickered and resolved itself into the IDIC symbol, drawn in precise green lines. The lower half of the screen blinked and then showed the standard 'please identify yourself' sequence in Golic Vulcan.
Frown deepening; T'Lar lowered her face closer to the seldom-used retina scanner. "Lieutenant Commander T'Lar," she said to the terminal.
The blinding flash of the scan was followed by the Access Granted on the screen, but instead of her name and rank the words read "T'Lar of House Sunir". Curiouser and curiouser.
But as the all too familiar face appeared on the screen, T'Lar's face immediately lost the frown and changed into a blank expression. Her hand rose in the traditional salute.
"Osu." The habit to call her great-uncle 'sir' was older than herself… but why was Sutok contacting her?
"T'Lar." Another surprise, her uncle calling her by her name, not 'girl', or 'child'. She contemplated the man on the screen. Strong features, a mane of thick white hair, dark olive skin. And his face… She looked closer and blinked. Did he really look worried?
Knowing her thoughts didn't show on her serene face, she sat unmoving, waiting for him to speak first, as he was far superior in position and status. At last he broke the silence, and the eye contact, looking away briefly.
"T'Lar, I have news concerning your mother."
Whatever it was, even if he would tell her of her mother's death, she felt neither excited nor moved in any way. Her feelings for T'Sal were not directly hatred, for hatred was illogical, but it was close. Again, she remained silent, utterly Vulcan in appearance, waiting for him to continue.
And continue he did. "T'Sal left the Estate, leaving behind a message for her spouse." Again that uncomfortable pause - and right after it, an image of said note showed on the screen, replacing Sutok's thickset features. Fighting down her surprise at him showing her something so personal, she leaned forward and read her mother's familiar precise and clipped handwriting, translating the ancient symbols into Federation Standard in her mind.
Stenn - I am leaving. Do not search for me. Consider our marriage hereby dissolved.
Raising an eyebrow, T'Lar looked at Sutok's face that was once again occupying the screen. "This seems utterly illogical. Has she been kidnapped and forced to write that note, perhaps?"
She knew that her voice and her face were composed, even while a part of her wondered how her always calm and more than strict father would react to this breach of discipline in his own house. And another, much less "Vulcan" part of her thought about the last sentence of T'Sal's message. If a marriage of two telepaths could be destroyed by five words, how shallow had their bond been? But she drew away from the thought; years of conditioning forcing her respect her parents' privacy. She concentrated on Sutok's words again.
"We," and there was a pause before the word, "have information that T'Sal might be involved with," another pause, filled with something like sorrow and embarrassment, "the VIM."
T'Lar blinked. "The Vulcan Isolationist Movement? The terrorist group?" My mother?
And then the words connected. "Your source being V'Shar?" Of course, Sutok, being the head of the Vulcan Intelligence Agency would be the first to know when his niece was suspected of being a terrorist.
He was nodding already. "Affirmative. T'Lar…" Yet another pause, more uncomfortable than the others. "T'Lar, we need your help."
Astonished, she waited for him to go on, not daring to say a word for the fear of sounding less than utterly calm.
"Stenn has not agreed to cooperate, and of course, we cannot force him to. You are the only one who has if not a link, then a feeling of your mother's presence. Also, your strong empathy could be a great advantage if you were to…"
"… If I were to assist the V'Shar in their search for T'Sal and consequently for other terrorists."
"Yes." Her great-uncle looked away for a moment, clearly trying to compose himself to be able to calmly speak about the most uncomfortable affair.
"There has been an explosion at the Old Arts Museum in ShirKahr, as you probably know." He waited for her to nod her assent. "There have been some clues that we hope will be helpful."
She almost sighed. Her family affairs, Vulcan, her old life, all those were enveloping her again, drawing her into a situation she thought she had escaped decades ago. But she hardly had a choice, there was her duty as a Vulcan and a Starfleet Officer, and there was the honour of her clan…
"I will arrange transportation for Vulcan and contact you as soon as I have arrived." Dropping the 'sir', he was now almost her equal, and asking for her assistance. Oh how everything had changed.
He nodded, and then added, to her great surprise, "Thank you, niece."
Nodding, and about to close the connection, she was stopped by a brief gesture of Sutok's. "T'Lar - I'm sure you realise that as of now you are First Heiress to the House. I thought it best to just acknowledge the transition, without conducting a ceremony."
Too stunned to answer, she just nodded stiffly, before Sutok raised his hand in the traditional salute and closed the connection at his end.
Blinking rapidly as she assimilated the information, T'Lar sighed quietly. "Vulcan, here I come."