According to the chronometer on the wall, Ambassador Joanne Tucker had been sitting in a chair in the main lobby for about a half hour. The two B’Qali that captured her were silently standing guard. Commander Stone was lying on the floor, his hands and legs in shackles. He had awakened from being stunned, but he hadn’t said anything. The man was proud of his position, and took his duties to the utmost, so she could imagine how he must be feeling about not being able to get her to safety. Of course, she didn’t blame him, and at the first opportunity, she would tell him.
Things were quiet at the embassy, but sounds of fighting could still be heard around the city. Being a diplomat, Jo was a very patient person, but she was beginning to become irritated over waiting and wondering what was going to happen next. As if on cue, she heard someone coming. By the sounds of the gait, she could tell it was a B’Qali female. When she arrived, the two males snapped to attention. When Jo saw who it was, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. A chill ran up her spine.
“I apologize her waking you, Ambassador, but as you can see, other plans were made.”
Jo glared at the female, anger inside her beginning to boil.
“What are you doing, Zala? Why are you part of this?”
For the last year, Zala had been Jo’s trusted B’Qali aide. They had many discussions about B’Qal IV, its people and customs, and about its future. They had talked about their past, about their dreams for the future. They had shared stories about their families. All that time, Jo had considered her to be a close friend. It turned out to have been a fraud, a ploy to get close to her, to learn inside information.
Zala held out a PADD. “We’ve accounted for all embassy personal, except for these six. Everyone has been taken alive, so if you want to keep it that way, you’ll help us find them.”
Jo looked at the PADD, then glared at Zala. She wanted to leap out of the chair and strangle the life out of her.
“My guards would shoot you before you got two steps out of that chair,” said Zala.
Jo grunted. How well Zala knew her. What had she done wrong to not know Zala just as well?
“The six people, Ambassador?”
Jo didn’t want to help the Ym’ruxin find the others, but at this point, it was probably the smart thing to do. They had made it a point not to kill any of them, so it was best to keep the missing six alive. Zala could be lying about that, but they could have killed Stone. Capturing everyone could also be the reason they hadn’t seen any bodies when they were trying to reach the shuttles. She decided to take the chance that Zala was telling the truth.
Jo snatched the PADD from Zala and studied it. After a few minutes, she tapped the keyboard area, and handed it back.
“The two names in green aren’t on B’Qal anymore. One was transferred to another post. The other returned to Earth to visit a sick relative. In the basement of the main building, we have a secret vault. It’s hidden behind a row of computers in the southwest corner. The three in red are probably hiding there. The instructions on how to find and open it are written there. The one in yellow, I don’t know. He could be anywhere.”
Zala gave Jo a look of skepticism.
“Fifty people work here,” said Jo. “Personnel are transferred in and out all the time. I don’t personally know everyone.”
Zala carefully studied Jo’s face, then handed the PADD to one of the guards. He nodded and left.
“Once we find everyone, and after I’ve heard from my superiors, you’ll be moved to a more secure location.” Zala paused, her tone changing from harsh to polite. “I’ll see to it that you have other clothes to wear.”
Jo didn’t say anything. At this point, it didn’t really matter anymore why Zala had done what she did. The Federation would eventually send help, so for now, all she could do was wait. Being an ambassador, waiting was something she was very good at doing.