((Brig, USS Gorkon))
Sienelis: I've been a spy all along. Somebody should have told me. ::She ran a hand over her face, running forefinger and thumb along the v-shaped ridge of her forehead. She was tired, frustrated and despondent, and who could blame her?:: But *why*? Why are they doing this to me?
Reynolds: That… I don't know. But it is about *you*, that much I'm sure of. ::She paused, considering how much to reveal.:: Orson Marshall is Syndicate pawn—
::She was interrupted by an annoyed snort from the Romulan.::
Sienelis: I knew he was a sneak.
Reynolds: —and they'd ordered him to kidnap you. ::Valesha started to form a question, but Quinn held up a hand to stall her.:: What's more, this JAG officer was intending on transporting you, a supposedly high-value prisoner and very capable spy and saboteur, to Earth in a shuttle.
Sienelis: In a shuttle? It'd take nearly a year to—
::Valesha stopped, halfway through the sentence, realisation killing the words dead in her pale throat. There was that sharpness again, quickly making the connections between disparate elements. When the Romulan spoke again, her voice was flat and dull in numb acceptance of a terrible fact.::
Sienelis: I'm never reaching Earth. There's going to be an accident, or an escape, or pirates, or...
::She swallowed, her skin ashen and for a moment, Quinn thought the scientist was going to make a dash toward the toilet, with an urgent need to empty the contents of her stomach into it. Instead, she took a few deep breaths, managing to calm her nausea enough to continue.::
Sienelis: So either I get kidnapped by Marshall, or kidnapped-and-or-killed on the prisoner transport. Is there an Option C?
Reynolds: Yes. Break out.
::The Romulan started to laugh, but it died away quickly when she caught sight of Quinn's expression. Resolute and absolutely without humour, it was clear that the captain of the Gorkon was in no way joking.::
Sienelis: You're serious. ::Quinn nodded.:: But if I did, I— ::She shook her head, barely able to contemplate it.:: —I couldn't come back. I'd be a fugitive. The Federation's Ten Most Wanted level of fugitive.
Reynolds: Let me worry about that. ::She paused.:: I have some lines of inquiry to follow up, and it would not be the first time I've impressed the need to reexamine a court martial case with a fresh and very sceptical eye.
::Aron's, specifically. He'd been accused of violating the Prime Directive with catastrophic results, and thanks to some incredibly poorly chosen tactics on his lawyer's part, he'd very nearly got convicted, too. When she'd extricated him from his trial, it hadn't earned her a mote of thanks from the man she'd considered a friend — quite the opposite, in fact — but she'd believed it was the right thing to do.::
Sienelis: What makes you think I can even pull this off? I'm a scientist.
Reynolds: Because I know who your father is.
::The reaction was immediate and profound. Her cheeks blanched and Valesha jerked backward, surprise swiftly reforming into a furious scowl as colour rushed back onto her face, staining her cheeks a dark olive. She didn't have many secrets; in one of the great, sad ironies of her situation, the scientist was almost exactly who she presented herself to be.::
Reynolds: I'm a very good intelligence officer, Valesha. I've known for quite a while.
::Unable to keep her anxiety confined, Valesha pushed herself up from the bed, pacing around the small cell. The tension was pronounced in her slim frame, muscles coiled tightly as she stalked back and forth like a tigress caged. Quinn sat there in silence, letting the woman work through her thoughts, listening to the background whine of the forcefield as she waited.
::Finally, the Romulan came to a still at the opposite side of the cell. She folded her arms, frowning, no doubt having tried to think of an alternate route out of her situation, and failed. The problem was that when the full weight of the system was being maliciously and falsely used against you, there was very little you could do from within it.::
Sienelis: Even assuming that's the case, where would I go? I don't have any contacts, I don't have any boltholes. All I have is this.
::She lifted her hands, gesturing first to her uniform, and then to the Gorkon around them. Quinn nodded, and then made the suggestion that she had been leading the entire conversation toward.::
Reynolds: Go with Marshall.
::Disbelief stole Valesha's breath and words, and she stared at the other woman, completely dumbstruck. Seconds ticked past, and the admiral waited patiently for the Romulan to relocate her senses, flicking a mote of lint off her black trousers.::
Sienelis: The man who wants to hand me over to the Syndicate.
Reynolds: The one and only.
Sienelis: And you trust him?
Reynolds: ::She couldn't help but chuckle.:: Not in the least. But like you, he's been backed into a corner, and this is his only way out. ::She paused, her head tilting to the side as she considered the matter further.:: That said, you have my blessing to shoot him, if you deem it necessary.
Sienelis: I suppose that's something to keep me warm at night.
Reynolds: He'll take you to the Syndicate, or at least, he's going to lead them to believe that's what he's doing. The original drop site has been compromised, so he's now forced to use an alternate method of delivering you. That's going to involve hitching a lift aboard vessel we have a specific interest in. That's all I can tell you for now.
Sienelis: That's it? "Hitch a ride on a shady ship"? That's all you can tell me? *That's* what you want me to pin my future on?
Reynolds: Valesha, I've just had to put together an entire undercover operation in less than two hours. Something like this would usually take weeks, if not months, to plan.
::Dismay didn't even begin to describe the expression on the young woman's face. Quinn both sympathised and empathised with her situation; putting yourself so completely in the hands of other wasn't an easy thing to do, to trustly so blindly in the intentions and capabilities of others. Not least because of her current predicament, where she was surrounded by people of dubious motivations.::
Sienelis: Can you even do this?
Reynolds: Authorise an undercover intelligence operation involving someone charged with crimes against the Federation, and someone who *should* be charged with crimes against the Federation? ::She smiled, eyebrows raised, strangely and vaguely amused.:: It's something of a grey area.
::The Romulan said nothing for a little while, and Quinn once again fell silent. It was a lot to process, and a lot to make peace with. But they both knew there was no decision to be made here, not really. The alternatives weren't alternatives at all.::
Sienelis: There's a book in my quarters. Anna Karenina. It's Chris'— Petty Officer Johns. Would you make sure it gets back to him?
Reynolds: Yes, of course.
Sienelis: ...and drop his charges?
::Whether request or a demand, it made Quinn smile. Valesha had little to turn to her advantage, but she was seizing what small opportunity presented itself. She might not realise it yet, but that would serve her well where she was going.::
Reynolds: You realise you're in no position to bargain.
Sienelis: I'm not trying to. But I'm not stupid. What you're asking me to do, where you're asking me to go... there's a good chance I'm not coming out the other side.
::She paused, her jade eyes settling on the wall behind Quinn's head, her thoughts no doubt with the man the other side of them. She was right; there were so many ways it could go wrong for her, and there was the very real chance that when she left the Gorkon, it would be for the last time. Valesha swallowed, hard, her pointed brows pulling together in a frown.::
Sienelis: So I need to know Chris is going to be alright. That nothing's ruined for him.
::Johns had a mouth on him, that much Quinn was certain of, and she really didn't care for insubordination. It showed a lack of respect for hard-earned rank, and was detrimental to leadership and morale. Then again, the man had said everything she'd wished *she* could have said to Kotanne.::
Reynolds: I can make that work.
::The Romulan breathed out a sigh, her hand absently running over the black fabric where her communicator should have been fastened.::
Sienelis: There's going to be so many people who'll think they were right about me.
Reynolds: I know. ::She paused.:: Throw it in their faces when you get back.
Sienelis: *If* I get back.
Reynolds: Keep your wits about you, trust your instincts and you will.
::One of the more distasteful parts of being a command officer was telling lies. It helped, perhaps, that she wanted and hoped for one she just said to be true, particularly in this case.::
Reynolds: But this conversation is now over. ::She tapped the same small device she'd thumbed shortly after stepping into the cell. There was a soft, polite beep, and she carried on having barely skipped a beat, all the recording and surveillance trained on the cell active once again.:: I'll relay what you told me to your lawyer.
::Valesha nodded, and Quinn rose to her feet, straightening out her uniform. Everything was set, the pieces moved in place. Now it was out of her hands, delivered into those of others and all she could do was trust in their ability to get it done.::