Por'Ui'Sho'ten straightened his dress fatigues as he picked his way through the busy lane. To say that the Aun's message had been galvanizing would have been an understatement. Every caste, every species moved with an intense purpose, driven and excited to come to the next phase of the Path Resurgent's journey. Conversations sprung up all around him, energized whispers of favorite words from Aun'Zran'al speech. He tried to maintain an aura of detached professionalism, but he could feel pride bubbling through. Why else had he been called back, after his rotation, if not for his apparent skills. He had been a part of ten alien debriefings and had been the one to convince the Bojak to agree to a ceasefire. He had been part of two of the more successful interrogations of the Var'Sin'da prisoners. He blushed with shame as he realized his sudden bout of arrogance, stopping just short of the deck elevator. He began to silently mouth his focusing mantra as he waited for the next car. As it opened, he moved more out of habit then through awareness. The car was soon off humming as it took him to the appropriate security level and opened to a almost empty hall, amplifying the nearly silent closing elevator doors. Thick Fio'tek security doors broke the otherwise smooth paneled walls. Fio'tek cream colored fire caste stood attentively at each entrance.
Ui'Sho'ten brushed down his uniform, and began to walked. He nodded solemnly to each of the warriors he passed, some nodding in return while others ignored his presence. He continued, till he reached the appropriate cell, taking a moment to compose his features to the proper level of solemn duty, as his Au'taalian instructors had showed him. Believing he was ready, he signaled to open the cell. Despite his preparation, it was still hard to hide his shock, when in addition to his superior, Por'Vre'Ta'shi'na, the observation room was crowded by several fire caste. He recognized one immediately as one of Shae'El'Tae'en's aides. Ui'Sho'ten racked his mind, trying to remember the warrior's name. He dare not look at his wrist com, believing the move would make it obvious that he was looking up the Shas'vre.
Conversations that had been taking place were suddenly halted, with the room's occupants staring at the new arrival. Ui'Sho'ten could feel the weight of the soldiers' eyes, assessing his stride, his posture, and composure. Ui'Sho'ten selected a neutral tone as he silently bowed to each occupant in turn. Beyond the audience, in the containment cell, he could see his target. It was one of the Var'Sin'da aliens. Its fine dark hair was combed back into a top knot held together by what appeared to be bones. Its skin was a strange pale, almost grey and was almost perfectly smooth save for a set surgical scars seemed to extend the seam of the alien's mouth. It wore a grin, baring its long teeth. Its eyes and face turned every so often. From his studies of the species, he thought it was male though its androgynous features made it difficult to tell.
"This is one of the captured prisoners from the Regulant Auspice, Ui'Sho," said Vre'Ta'shi'na, her tone conveying annoyance.
"So far, most of the prisoners have told us some information, though some of it is not aligning with reports from the Regulant's crew and security commanders," she continued.
"While others have staunchly refused our questions," interrupted the fire caste aide.
If Ui'Sho'ten's superior had been ruffled by the interruption, her disciplined practice of the negotiating arts kept it in check. Still, he could pick up on Vre''Ta'shi'na's subtle body inflections of tension and annoyance, though he doubted any the fire caste could. He held back laughter and switched focus to his task.
"So I am to try and get this one to speak and give us information about their mission."
"We are particularly interested if he has other allies in the surround. Though unlikely, they might possess some from of stealth tech that is preventing us from detecting them, " spoke the Shas'vre.
Ui'Sho'ten moved to face the screen. Despite that the alien should only see an reflective wall, it stared directly at him, its grinning face following him as he moved.
"How is he doing that? Does he know I am here?"
"The chamber is sound suppressed but not perfect, and the Var'sin'da have excellent hearing and perception," Vre'Ta'shi'na responded.
The young xeno-response specialist moved away and the alien ceased tracking him.
"Are you ready for this, Por'Ui? Time is short, there is a high level security briefing soon and all information we can provide will help in directing our next course."
"Almost, but first I will need some wine."
He juggled the two crystal glasses and carafe into the room. Despite their delicate appearance, they were unlikely to break unless thrown extremely hard. It was a risk, bringing something that could be turned into a weapon, but standard interrogations were getting nowhere. The xenos studied him as he placed the glassware and wine on a raising table. In turn, Ui'Sho'ten was taking his own observations. It was calm, no perceivable changes in its breathing, or increases to its sweat output. The smile never left the creature's face, though the Por'Ui dismissed his early theory that it had been surgically made permanent. Every so often, he could make out the slight shift of jaw muscles, as the alien maintained the facial expression.
Ui'Sho'ten sat across from the smiling alien and began to pour.
"When I looked into the ship's log, we had only cleared your species for two of our wines. Lavander and this, Amber," he said, breathing in the bouquet.
"I have always found Lavander pungent in its flavor, so we will drink amber. That is if you will share a drink with me. Given your situation, you could do worse. This does not have to be an unpleasant situation."
He stood, turning to face the reflective panel that acted as two way to the observers beyond. He took a deep swallow of the wine and watched the prisoner's reflection. At first the smiling Var'sin'da did nothing other than look between the proffered wine and him. The silence became thick with a nervous tension. Ui'Sho'ten imagined the criticisms and talk of failure going on from the hidden audience. The ploy would not work. Ui'Sho'ten's left fore arm under his wrist com began to itch. He could feel the beads of sweat form when finally he heard the scrapping of the glass against the table. The smiling Var'sin'da was swirling the drink and smelling the liquid, before taking a tentative drink.
"It is a bit fruity for my tastes, but it will do. I may even have this at my court when I rule," it said in a surprisingly deep melodic tone.
"You... you speak our language," said Ui'Sho'ten, too shocked to observe his standard neutral tone.
His wrist began to itch again but he ignored it as he saw the alien drain the glass and place it forward in a gesture that clearly requested more. Ui'Sho'ten's mind rebooted as he planned his next strategy in gleeming information from the Var'sin'da.
It took him a moment longer to outwardly recover, picking up the carafe to pour the alien another glass. He thought of applying No'tash's principle; to break his target's sense of self, of reality, before building him back up. He dismissed it as soon as he saw its face. The grin only broke when it drank. He decided on a a more subtle approach.
"When you rule?"
"I am a singular being in the galaxy, a destined eldar king that will unite all against the storm of chaos, sending my willing chaff forward until the gods themselves choke upon life and my final victory achieved," it responded.
Every syllable was delivered in a perfect T'au dialect. It had stood as it spoke, planting its fists against its hips as it looked on distantly. Ui'Sho'ten was unsure if the effect was supposed to be a joke but chose to keep his mirth hidden.
"You said king, don't you see that as a difficult prospect given your current situation?"
The smile remained but it never reached the Var'sin'da's eyes as it sank back into its chair.
"A minor set back, I assure you."
Ui'Sho'ten felt a urge of primordial fear, as though he were prey that had caught its first glimpse of the predator that will end its life.
The alien suddenly laughed.
"Oh Sho, can I call you Sho? I like you, when I rule you shall be my first ambassador to the blue grey peoples."
"How did you know my... and no you cannot call me Sho. Lets focus on the moment, ...if you wish to rule, then you will need us to help you. Help us and I am sure we can reach a mutually beneficial arrangement."
"Sho, if I wanted to, I could kill everyone on this station, I am a superlative warrior afterall."
"Then why did you surrender?"
"Our ship was gone, and we had damaged yours, there was no way for me to win by taking over and killing everyone on board. No, my best chance lay in getting in with your people and escaping in the chaos to come."
Ui'Sho'ten was nervous about the word 'chaos' but felt a moment triumph as the alien had unwittingly revealed some information.
"What chaos, what are your people planning?"
The Var'sin'da laughed again.
"Thats the best part Sho, Its not my people, so I don't know, I just feel it coming. Something big and bad bubbling below the surface."
"So you are just toying with me, do you know anything?, " he said, unable to keep his frustration completely out of his voice.
"Sho... I know many things, that I am eldar, you are tau. My favorite meal is blood eel, that this amber wine is very sweet, that you frequent the cantina on deck 45-1 because you are extremely attracted to the young female barkee...."
"Enough!," Ui'Sho'ten yelled, slamming his hand against the table. "None of that helps us, do you know any facts, details, or information that puts this fleet in danger?"
"Many of your vessels have power cores that can detonate, causing a catastrophic chain react...."
"No!! do you know of any external threats from other species? Why am I even asking?"
Ui'Sho'ten looked away from the xenos, trying to calm his mind.
"Sho, I am sorry, I know I am being difficult, so I will tell you what I told the others. I was part of a raiding fleet despatched by the Lord of the Twisted Vine Kabal. It was considered an internal matter as one of his lieutenants had gone off the on his own. We didn't find them, but instead found your little ship and began hunting them. What can I say, your little ship bested us, through maneuvers that required a level of guile that I thought your weak species incapable of. Other than that, I surrendered and am now here."
Ui'Sho'ten looked at him. He still bore the smile, but could not detect other signs of mocking or deceit in its tone. His left wrist itched again, but he ignored it as realization dawned on his face.
"Wait, what do you mean you told the others? Our logs and recordings show that you have not spoken since being brought into interrogation."
"Thats the other thing Sho. We aren't really talking," the alien said, still smiling, while tapping the side of his head.
"Impossi..." Ui'Sho'ten had started.
He stopped as the Var'sin'da began pulling at its own tongue. Slowly, the sinue began to tear as droplets of acidic blood sizzled onto the table and floor. Despite the horror, he could not look away as the alien let out a triumphant grunt as its own tongue came free. The alien threw it down on the table, blood flowing through the seams of its smiling teeth.
"Still don't believe me," it spoke, somehow still in perfect t'au dialect.
"Any number of reasons, I am bored, I wanted a cup of wine, I don't have any information that will help you. But mostly Sho... I really like the drug they are about to gas us with. Between that and the mind blast I am going to give you, you are most likely going to wake up too late to warn anyone. Tootles, Sho."
El'Tae'en's aide looked on impatiently, before turning to Vre'Ta'shi'na.
"It is just like the others, the xenos is using mind science. Your best and brightest has not spoken since he entered the room. We have enough information from the other prisoners. Do it Por'vre."
"None of the others have recovered from this," she responded bitterly.
"The Nagi have warned us that Mind science is dangerous, We must, for the greater good," he spoke with a resolute authority as he placed his hand over hers as they pressed the flood control together.
Inside the room, Ui'Sho'ten's body slumped, and the smiling xenos let out a small satisfied laugh before its grinning face slammed uncontrollably into the table.