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Unofficial Literary Challenge #24: "Mirror Wars"

starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,023 Arc User
edited June 2016 in Ten Forward
Welcome to the twenty-fourth edition of the Unofficial Literary Challenge: "Mirror Wars"!

Prompt #1: "Mirrors of Love" by @takeshi6
During an encounter with the Mirror Universe, be it repelling another Terran invasion or entering the other universe to run reconnaissance, you meet the Mirror Counterpart of an old love interest, one who, in your universe, has died (either a long time ago or fairly recently).

How do you interact with this Mirror of your old flame? Are they similar to their prime counterpart, or vastly different? And when your encounter with the Mirror Universe ends, what happens to them? Do they join you, giving you a second chance at love? Do you go your separate ways? Or are you forced to watch your love die a second time, or worse, have to kill them yourself?

* * *

Prompt #2: "Temporal Research" by @aten66
Due to the nature of Noye's behavior and subsequent betrayal of the Alliance powers, you've been dragged into the investigations. You're not leading the investigation though; no, you are being investigated by your respective faction's Temporal Investigative Officer for potentially being the cause of Noye's erratic behavior, leading up to what's been classified as the 'Butterfly Incident' by the Alliance's respective Temporal Investigation Departments. What do they drag up, what do you find out you didn't even know?

* * *

Prompt #3: "Ruins of the Departed" by @starswordc
Your crew begins an archaeological dig, investigating ruins of a long-departed people. As you walk among the empty acropolises and fallen cities, do you learn new truths about your own existence? Could it be that the conflicts of today go back far further than you thought? Do you discover lost technologies that could improve people's lives or their ability to wage war? Does the reason the civilization fell still haunt the ruins?

* * *

Prompt #4: "Social Upheaval" by @patrickngo
The temporary stability of the Klingon Empire has relied on a succession of external enemies ever since the Iconians took out most of the High Council. In the wake of the Iconian war, and without an obvious external enemy, it's time for the Klingons to debate their future as only Klingons would: with disruptors, blades, explosives, starships, and harsh words. How does your captain deal with a simmering Klingon civil war, knowing what you know is out there? Will you try to stop it, will you pick a side, or will you just hope to get out of the way?



As usual, no NSFW content.

The discussion thread is here.

Index of previous ULCs:
  1. The Kobayashi Maru
  2. Time After Time
  3. The Next Generation of Tribbles with Darkest Moments
  4. The Return of the Revenge of the Unofficial LC of DOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!
  5. Back from the Dead?
  6. Gods of Lower Decks in Wintry Timelines
  7. Skippy's List: Starfleet Edition
  8. Revisit to a Weird Game, One of One
  9. In Memory of Spock
  10. Redux 1
  11. Delta Recruit
  12. Someone to Remember Them By
  13. In A.D. 2410, War Was Beginning
  14. The Sound of Q-sic
  15. Stand for the Crew
  16. A Future That Many Will Never See
  17. STO Thanksgiving
  18. Winter Wonderland Celebrations II
  19. Once In A Lifetime
  20. Coming Around Again
  21. In the Darkness
  22. The Company You Keep
  23. Battle Scars
Post edited by starswordc on
"Never underestimate your audience. They're generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment."
— Lt. Col. Cameron "Shaft" Mitchell, "200", Stargate SG-1
qcmgj.jpg

Comments

  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 638 Arc User
    An End and a Beginning /|\ No More Masks

    If there was anything that saddened Charles' heart, more then leaving his ship, it was where he was headed to next aboard the shuttle Machiavelli. His superiors had activated the Janus Directive, meaning he was about to be transferred to his new post, perhaps another section of this timeline, maybe a different ship under a new Captain, or even a whole other timeline, he new his masters were fickle. The Aegis were wise though, and so that meant whatever was going to happen next, was destined to be without him being the Chief Medical Officer of the U.S.S. Newport, Odyssey-Class. He had said hasty goodbyes and made excuses for those who didn't know his true identity, apart from the 'CMO Charles Davidson' persona.

    It was ironic the one person he had grown attached to the most he couldn't face, not with a silver touched lie or with the truth. He had fallen in love with Hazari 'Hazel' Tis-Singh, and couldn't even prevent what was coming next. It was quite fortunate she had already left on a Meshweaver by the time it was too late to say anything meaningful, because Charley Twelve knew he wouldn't hold back from sparing her her fate.

    It wasn't, by any means, a death sentence, but what she would see next would probably be very unpleasant, and Charles wouldn't be there to comfort her, to tell her it was going to be alright. No, Charley Twelve had a job to do, he was a shield for the timeline, a protector of the innocents, innocents who would rather see themselves playing with nuclear fusion when fire hadn't even been invented yet.

    Charley Twelve was an Aegis agent, so why was 'CMO Charles Davidson', so intent on seeing this through?

    It was too late anyways, as his contact had already boarded his ship, and made the necessary adjustments to the shuttle he had been flying, rigging it to explode, once they had departed. "Do you need some time, Charles?" The woman, his contact says, "I can give you as much time as you want, but If we don't hurry, your next charge will be killed before her newest First Officer can reach her, in about... ten minutes." The woman waits for Charles to straighten himself out, but has already had to deal with this for an hour already, and decides to speak up. "Honestly, Charles, this is below you, I have never seen you become so attached to anyone like this before," the woman says, "She may be augmented, she may even be advanced for this time, but to us, our kind, she's still such a little child; her people are just now starting to tamper in things pertaining to traveling through time, Charles, their such a young thing, unlike our own benefactors." Charles merely snorts derisively.

    "Children, maybe, but they've gotten more control over their future, more choices, than in any timeline I have ever read about back home Angela," Charles says to the woman, Angela, "But your right, I guess it just wasn't meant to be, me and her... Our 'Benefactors' would probably disagree anyways."

    Entering a shutdown code into the shuttle, all personal files of one 'Charles Davidson' were quickly erased from the Newport, and Charley Twelve was free to continue his work else-when and where. It wouldn't matter anyway, in a few moments all that would be left of his heart, like this shuttle, would be tiny fragments of debris, destroyed by the changes coming, and nothing could fix that. It would be better that way.

    "Where is my destination next?" Charles asks, "Iconia? Ancient Greece? The Imperium of Planets? EG7-56?" Angela merely chuckles and hands him a dossier on a PADD, and Charles merely stifles, before settling down.


    ///// Mirror Universe, 2 Hours to Incursion, within the Mid-26th Century/////

    Ducking into the ships Jeffery's tubes, she manages to throw back a stasis grenade at her attackers. She didn't know how, or why, but she was quick to take a firearm, the chroniton pistol currently at her side, and run to the safest place on the ship for her to be, the ships onboard 'Panic Room', made for such an occasion. It was a good thing she knew her Father's codes, or the current mutiny would be ending with her death at the door of an impenetrable fortress held within the ship. It may not be much, but she could assume controls of weapons and life support, or at least lock it down so the mutineers wouldn't have access to them either.

    She only had a deck to go, when she was cornered by a Andorian and a Pakled officer. "No where to go, little miss, me and Bartleby here," the Andorian thumbs, "We've been tasked with bringing you in, alive or dead, doesn't matter to us." The two begin to advance, weapons drawn and waiting for her to make a move for her own, when a shot bursts out of nowhere and hits the Pakled square in the back. "What-" the Andorian manages to say, turning to his partner, before being hit in the side and knocked down, unconscious or not, she was unsure.

    Drawing her own weapon, she looks to see the source of the attack, before a human man is quickly at her side, disabling her of her weapon and pulling at her wrist at the same time. "No time, I'm hoping you babe the codes to your ships panic room, otherwise we just took those grunts out for naught," the man says, pulling her along, "Because once we get there, we'll have little more than an hour to get to where we need to be, and we can't have a ship of mutineer's with resources, on our hands to deal with."

    Quickly following the man, knowing his words were true, she manages to lead him to the 'Panic Room' quickly, once on the proper deck. Before they even reach the room, though, they were met with the surprise of two obstacles waiting for them, one she recognized as Eliza Briggs, the instigator of the mutiny, but the other was an alien she had yet to recognize.

    "Stand down, both of you, Miss Briggs, I don't know what this man has promised you," the unknown man says, "Wealth or power, he can't hold to it, not when he plans to kill you once we are out of this way!" At that the woman merely sneers, unconvinced, while the Alien merely laughs at the mans pathetic attempt to bring out the woman's humanity.

    "Ah, an Aegis Operative, I haven't had to kill one of you for a few centuries, at least," the unknown alien says, "But let it be known Colonel Varrisk of the Na'kuhl, was never one to kill and tell." Brandishing a wicked weapon, the Na'kuhl prepares to fire it, and it begins to spew out a gaseous cloud. Quickly she feels a breathing apparatus being forced over mouth, and her weapon returned to her, as the man pushes her out of the way of the ensuing weapons fire, once Varrisk realizes his toxins wouldn't work. Quickly aiming for Briggs, she manages to shoot the woman's weapon out of her own hand, and quickly disables her from a distance, leaving the two men to face off.

    "My name is Charley Twelve, Varrisk of the Na'kuhl, and let it be known I will not show mercy to the ones who would profane time travel as you do, and neither will my benefactors, when they disassemble your operation," Charley says, as he knocks the mini gun away from the Na'kuhl, and begins to punch the man into submission, "Tell me, what interest did your people have with interrupting the power flow of the Terran Commonwealth?" The yellow and bloodied form of the beaten Na'kuhl merely laughs.

    "This pitiful mockery of a once grand empire, is nothing to us, we just needed their resources to build something," he replies, "Your too late anyways... our people have already invaded this timeline and begun to seed agents to undo this present in the past, and who have already begun to alter this future for the glory of the Na'kuhl!" Suddenly a plasma blade springs to life out of the pockets of the aliens coat, burning away the leather-like material and aiming for Charley's heart. As soon as it was lit, the weapon was gone, the other woman, ignored up until now, had cleaning dislodged the madman's hand and weapon with a clean shot, instantly cauterizing the wound. Charley looks up in surprise at the woman, who was clearly very angry, and very confused.

    "Thank you for saving my life," he replies, "And I know you probably want an explanation, but right now we need to get in here and take control of this ship; after that I'll explain everything." Nodding, the woman quickly unlocks the door, and scurries inside, followed by Charley, who locks the door behind him. Setting to work, they quickly lock out engineering control, successfully reroute the weapons systems, and manage to insert a light knockout anesthetic into the ship, in order to disable the mutineer's completely.

    He could feel her staring at him in uncomfortable silence, and she was starting to unnerve him with said staring. "Well, are you going to explain yourself," she asks, "Before we go any further, I want to know why my Father was just killed by mutineer's, led by his most loyal first officer, why that being outside said it was a Na'kuhl, when I know they've been extinct ever since the Tholians wiped them out a century ago, and why you seem to trust me so implicitly, without even knowing me at all, beyond saving me!" At this Charley turns to her.

    "Your name is Hazari Tis-Singh, your nickname is Hazel, even though you say you despise it, you secret love it, your favorite fictional character was Sherlock, your favorite color was blue-gray, you grew up on Ceti Alpha V in a terra formed dome," he begins to list, "Your an augmented human of Singh lineage, though that is debatable as you once told me you were really descended from one of the Cold Station 1800, and you had a gray Alfa 177 named Andromeda as a child." Hazari merely blinks at the various secrets he had just revealed to her, though she still looked incredulously at him.

    "Very well, I'll forgive the discrepancies due to the factor that alternate realities seem to be involved, but most of that is right," she says, "I'll trust you for now, Mr. Twelve, but you'll have to tell me what it is we're doing, now that we have control of the ship?" Charley Twelve merely smiles, as he moves over to another set of buttons, this time plugging coordinates in.

    "Now?" Charley states, "Now we break a few eggs and take a crack at the Na'kuhl facility planet side, where I detected an active temporal corridor upon my arrival here, because we are going to use it, Ms Singh, to go back and start to undo whatever changes they've made to the timeline; we'll have to go back farther than they were going though, or we'll end up in their altered timeline." Detaching the Panic Room from the ship was easy, it also acted as an escape pod for the captain in a catastrophic emergency, and was meant to withstand planetfall. "So start yourself in, Miss Singh, because we're going to have a full hour ahead of us," he adds, "Who knows, we might just go back in time and salvage your future!"

    Hazari merely smirks, and was about to strap herself in, when she decided to grab something from outside the door, dragging it in, and securing it in a safe spot for descent. "What?" She asks innocently, "Never seen a girl want to admire a proper machine gun before?" He merely shakes his head.

    "It's not that, I just never thought I'd see her take one that was used to try and kill her minutes ago," he replies, "Your as strange as ever, Hazel Tis-Singh, but I can say I've always liked that about you."

    "Well, if we are going to work together for the foreseeable future, I can say I hope I live up to your expectations," she banters back, "Maybe I can get some dirt on you in return!" Charley merely smiles, as he enters the command that detaches the pod. It was going to be a wild ride.


    ///// 23 Months Later /////

    Hazari steadily awakens with a pounding headache, and without the ability to open her swollen right eye, which she figures is probably covered in dried blood at the worst, or a medical compress at best. She doesn't remember much at first, but it slowly begins to trickle back, some flashes of memory having to do with the area known as the Badlands.

    Opening her good eye, she merely sees sky and light filtering in through a small hut window. Nearby a doctor of some kind is attending to another patient, before turning to see Hazari awake after hearing her rustling. "Ah, good to see you awake, I was afraid you may not make it out without having to induce a coma for your safety," a female Denobulan says, "My, my, whatever happened to you must have been horrible dear, but you are alright now Miss Singh, Starfleet Medical has you on a neutral Maquis colony world, just rest now." The Denobulan returns to her work on the other patient, who Hazari recognizes as the badly injured form of her traveling companion.

    "Charley..." She croaks out, trying feebly to get up, only for the Denobulan to quickly force her back down into a lying position.

    "Now dear, I know your a Starfleet hot shot, but no need to strain yourself after such a trauma, broken ribs, phaser wounds, you know you almost lost your left eye to an infection," she scolds, "Now I need to fix your friend, but I can't do that if you are trying to get up every five minutes, just relax you are safe now; a medical ship is an hour out, and you both can get proper medical treatment then, but for now I have to focus on saving your friends use of his left arm, so if you please..."

    Relief merely floods Hazari's mind, who gratefully lies down at her doctors orders, just happy to be alive. After all it wasn't often you were able to escape a Terran Empire ship, let alone one sent into a highly disputed war zone, after stealing a shuttle and crash landing on the nearest class M planet she could find. Hazari Tis-Singh was lucky to be alive, and so was Charley Twelve, she just hopped she could gain the Federation's trust, like she had gained Charley's. If her XO was right, it was just one month after her double's disappearance, and she would be openly examined as a candidate to replace her, if it all went the way they had hoped it would.

    She didn't want to be a prisoner hiding behind another mask after all. Not this time.
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,023 Arc User
    edited June 2016
    Heis’he Ri’nanovai (A Mother’s Love)

    Four humanoids in oft-repaired spacesuits rappelled down a still-hot shaft burned through solid rock by a starship’s phaser. At the bottom of the shaft, a ferrocrete wall that still smoldered from the sustained burst.

    “Jallix did a good job with the phaser,” the leader said as he hit bottom, his voice tinny with interference. “No sign he damaged the vault.” He unhooked from his line. “Concrete saw!”

    The roar of the whirling flat blade was muted by hard vacuum, only transmitted through Jethro Wizniewski’s spacesuit as the carbide and durasteel blade bit into the wall. It took almost half an hour for him and the big Hirogen, Kubaz, to finish the last of the cross-cuts, but after that the job became much easier. Anchors were drilled into the face for eye-bolts, strong cables and hand-cranks laboriously hauled the pieces of ferrocrete out of place. Finally, they planted jacks into the gap to replace what they’d removed, and squeezed inside.

    “Dammit, looks like half the lower levels of the stronghold collapsed in on the vault when the shockwave hit the planet.”

    “There’s some storage cases over here, Jethro!” the shortest among them radioed. “Gotta be something valuable, even if it’s just information.”

    “I was expecting something more along the lines of latinum, Bork,” Jethro retorted, “or something we can sell.”

    “Want something you can sell? How about this?” He held up a sword in a scabbard.

    Jethro stepped over and took the sword from the Ferengi, drawing it halfway out of the scabbard. The gracefully curved blade was a good meter long, with an ornate gold-filigreed basket hilt and a large silvery pearl set into the pommel. “Heckuva sword.”

    “Sharp, too; watch yourself. That’s an honor blade, traditional Romulan heavy saber, important heirloom,” the little goblin explained. “That thing’ll snap a bat’leth right in half. And that’s just the top of it. Some of this data here? There are collectors and historians who would pay. 81st Rule of Acquisition, ‘There’s nothing more valuable than information.’”

    “All right, Bork, you’ve convinced me this wasn’t a complete waste of time,” Jethro assented, resheathing the sword. “You’re in charge of picking the loot.”
    * * *

    The little Hirogen-built frigate, his ship Jessica he’d bought at government auction, floated powered-down in the shadow of the shattered planet as the team beamed back out with their spoils. Jethro and Bork and the others quickly doffed their spacesuits, and the crew began securing the precious cargo in the hold as they headed for the bridge. “Got a good haul, boss?” the overweight Talaxian at the pilot station asked as he began powering up the ship.

    “I’m hoping so, Jallix. Maybe that sword will bring a decent price at least. Or maybe hiring Bork was a waste of money—he’s eating us out of house and home. He’d better be right about this or he’s fired. Whatever, lay in a course for the Suliban Helix in Japori sector.”

    “On it.” He began to throttle up and the cluster of asteroids that had once been an inhabited world began to recede behind them. “Hey, Jethro,” Jallix said, suddenly, “I’m picking up a disturbance off our starboard side.”

    “A distur—Oh, f*ck me!

    The stars off the starboard side were wavering visibly now. A dark green shape began to materialize in the blackness, a hooked prow on a long neck, with broad swooping wings longer than the main fuselage.

    Mogai-class warbird! They’re arming weapons!”

    “Go evasive! Run for it!”

    Two pairs of lime-green disruptor bolts streaked past the bow, then a blue cone snapped out from an emitter at the base of the warbird’s nose, snaring the ship as its engines ignited. “They’ve got us in a tractor beam!” Jethro hollered. “Give me more power!”

    You’ve got everything I’ve got!” Kubaz yelled from the engine compartment. “They’ll make us their prey!

    Then a female voice came from the speakers. “Seeker-class frigate, this is Riov Jhu t’Salathim of the Imperial Warbird Punia. You are ordered to release control of your helm and prepare to be boarded. Signal compliance immediately or we will destroy you for dishonoring the Lost.
    * * *

    Gasko Station, six days later.

    “You cannot buy your way out of this, Ambassador Dronk.” The grey-haired Rihanha sneered. “Your citizen was caught graverobbing in the ruins of ch’Rihan!”

    Ambassador Dronk shrugged. “‘The riskier the road, the greater the profit.’ 62nd Rule of Acquisition.”

    “‘Dead men close no deals,’” Fvillha Velal tr’Hrienteh retorted. “15th Rule of Acquisition.”

    Morgan t’Thavrau covered a burst of laughter with her hand as Dronk stammered and tried to recover. Ambassador Rama Myreen spoke over him. “Praetor Velal, the President is willing to allow Jethro Wisniewski to be tried under Romulan law, but only if the death penalty is taken off the table.”

    The grey-haired Rihanha leaned back in his chair and sighed. “I cannot promise you that, Ambassador Rama. I’m trying to push a judicial reform bill through the Deihuit right now. I can’t very well interfere with the courts.”

    “I understand you’re in a difficult position,” the Bajoran said, her earring jangling as she gestured placatingly, “but this is a point of principle. My government abolished capital punishment over a century ago. We can’t very well allow one of our citizens to—”

    “Ambassador, Wisniewski is frankly fortunate Riov t’Salathim didn’t space him out of hand!” He grunted irritatedly and took a gulp of water from his glass.

    “Madam Ambassador,” Deihu Hannam t’Hei spoke up from beside Morgan, “is there something you can do in exchange for the fvillha? Perhaps help grease the wheels on the vote to lift Lloann’mhrahel sanctions against the Shiar, restore diplomatic relations?”

    Rama opened her mouth, then snapped it shut and thoughtfully pressed a finger to her face. “You know, there might actually be something I can do there. Praetor, can I make some calls and get back to you?”

    “I don’t see why not. If there are no objections we can adjourn for now.” The people around the table shook their heads and began to stand and file out. “Oh, Khre’Riov?” Morgan stopped by the door and half-turned. “May I speak to you privately?”

    T’Hei gave Morgan a querying look. “It’s all right, lhhei. I’ll join you at the ship.”

    Please don’t cause me any trouble,” the older woman said with a pleading look.

    “I am not D’trel.” Morgan stepped back into the conference room and shut the door.

    Velal stood and approached her; out of habit she straightened to full attention. “What can I do for you, lhhai?”

    The man reached into a pocket of his dark green robes and withdrew a data solid. “I didn’t want to mention this in front of the ambassadors; it’s a personal matter, not relevant to the extraditions. According to geographical records the graverobbers were operating in an area of the city of Rateg.”

    “Rateg?”

    “It was the seat of the House-Clans of Ortikant and Vreenak.”

    Morgan frowned. “As in Deihu Merken tr’Vreenak? The one the D’Nneikha had assassinated?” A memory, a man with ice blue eyes and a sharply angled face, passed in front of her eyes.

    “That’s right. Part of their... ill-gotten gains were some computers in a secured vault in the ruins of Stronghold Ortikant. The Tlaru’daehhr ih’Shiar worked through the data looking for anything useful and, your name came up in reference to his.”

    “I’m not terribly surprised; my mother worked for tr’Vreenak in Novok when he was the prefectural governor.”

    Velal’s eyes narrowed. “Actually, I was referring to the hfihar genetic records. As far as I knew no Vreenaksu or Ortikantsu survived the Loss, but your file came up as a cross-reference.”


    Commander’s Quarters, ch’M’R Aen’rhien.

    Morgan stared at the data solid in apprehension.

    In the old days, before Shinzon’s coup, the Rihan noble class had almost invariably married for political reasons, to secure alliances between hfiharir or mend blood feuds. But only seven of eighteen ships had survived the Journey, and the Rihanh’s collective descent from so few individuals meant inbreeding was a real danger, so all the clans kept gene-maps of their members to avoid such mishaps.

    To Morgan’s knowledge, though, there were no such ties between the Vreenaksu and the Thavrausu; her great-aunt had been a political opponent of tr’Vreenak in the Deihuit when he took the clan’s seat in the chamber after his mother retired. And her mother’s job was just that: a job.

    Morgan picked up the small cube of plastic and crystal, held it up to the light. She liked the fvillha, and as far as she could think of there was no sensible reason for him to deceive her about this.

    “What are you afraid of?” she muttered to herself, pressing the data solid into a slot on the console.

    Data spooled out onto the screen and Morgan began tracing the family trees. The two hfiharir had interbred considerably: in 2346 Merken tr’Ortikant had married Liorae t’Vreenak, a niece of Hru’hfirh Mnheia t’Vreenak and already his fourth cousin. But there was no mention of any relation to the Thavrausu.

    Perhaps the connection was earlier than the records available, which grew fragmentary after the nineteenth generation. “Ship, cross-reference the Vreenak-Ortikant bloodline with the House of Thavrau. Extrapolate from my own genetic records.”

    “Match found.”

    “Display results, secondary screen,” she said. Then: “Fire and Wind!

    The relation wasn’t an ancestor, it was her. She was the one with blood from them, not the other way around. And not from the Vreenaksu, but the Ortikantsu, from Merken tr’Vreenak himself.

    “Merken tr’Vreenak is my father?” she breathed.


    Officers’ Gym.

    Steel rang on steel as Morgan blocked a concerted assault from her executive officer. Sarsachen tr’Sauringar was an accomplished swordsman and was stronger and heavier than her, but he was trained with Terrhain rapiers, not the honor blade.

    Morgan deflected a thrust at her torso and stepped in, striking in a quick sequence of wide arcs. The big man quickly fell back to keep his advantage in reach, swatting aside a few strokes from her honor blade that came closer than he liked, then held up a hand and raised his facemask. He grabbed a bottle of water off the wall and tossed another to his commander. “So why wouldn’t your mother have said anything?”

    “Must I spell it out? Well, you’re from Kevratas.”

    Ie,” he said uncertainly. “Some Hearthworld noble thing I don’t understand?”

    “I suppose. Tr’Vreenak was married at the time.”

    Tr’Sauringar made a face. “Ah. Trying to avoid a scandal?”

    “See, you don’t get it. He had an adulterous affair with his chief of staff!” He gestured for her to continue. “Oh, for Fire’s—It could’ve caused a blood feud between our clans, Riov, a three-way feud, no less!”

    He gaped. “Really?” Morgan nodded. “So she was—”

    “Saving all three of us, yes: Liorae would’ve been within her rights to kill me! Not to mention Mother saved both their careers,” she added.

    Morgan turned away from him, glancing at the black sky out the viewport. In the dark she remembered the face of her mother, smiling up at her at daughter at graduation from Phi’lasasam, then Merken tr’Vreenak, a stern scowl across his face.

    Then, unbidden, she remembered another face, an elderly man with a face perpetually set in an emotionless mask, with deep-set brown eyes that smiled without needing his lips to follow. “Did you know?” Morgan murmured.

    “Know what?” tr’Sauringar asked from behind her.

    “Not you. Him. Spock. When I met him in Ki Baratan, he told me something, that I’d only have one mother.”

    “You actually got to meet Spock, rekkhai?” he asked, interestedly. “You’ll have to tell me about that sometime.”

    “Maybe I will.”
    Post edited by starswordc on
    "Never underestimate your audience. They're generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment."
    — Lt. Col. Cameron "Shaft" Mitchell, "200", Stargate SG-1
    qcmgj.jpg
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,250 Arc User
    edited July 2016
    Sorry - wrong thread for a discussion post:

    7/4 edit: So have a story!


    Footsteps in the Sand

    Set after ‘The Temporal Front’ and the start of Na’kuhl raids on Alliance convoys

    Inspired by Unofficial Literary Challenge 24 prompt 2 – ‘Temporal Research’

    By antonine3258

    *

    Republic Navy Report: Most High Secret Clearance. Unauthorized access is considered a violation of Oaths to the Republic, requiring ultimate restitution.

    Cc: Temporal defense agent, Subcommander Kail – route via Republic Intelligence, Jenolan Division, Operative Mena

    Cc: Praetor’s Office: New Romulus High Command.

    Original Source: I.S.S. Lexington (Paradox-class dreadnought, see incident report 234747-B32), New Romulus orbit, Navy dockyards.

    INCIDENT REPORT: Terrorist attack on Kyrana Research Lab Stardate 85812.13

    Primary Author: Fleet Admiral An’riel tel’Riessei seh’Virinat

    Testimony: Lexington department heads

    Attached logs: Lexington complete computer core dump – Stardate 85811.06 (personal time) to 85817.23 (objective)

    Kyrana computer access logs.

    Personal logs: Lead Researcher Noye, Kyrana Research Lab

    Audio and tricorder readings – diplomatic team, New Khitomer – 2769 cross-temporal expedition.

    Ground combat report, diplomatic team, New Khitomer.

    Passive scans, Galactic Union timeship, U.S.S. Pastak.

    Shipyard evaluation – damage analysis, I.S.S. Lexington.

    Report follows:

    Temporal Defense was contacted by crosstime counterparts on establishment of temporal regulations in future period. Admiral seh’Virinat was recommended, following previous engagements with U.S.S. Pastak (Captain Benjamin Walker, commanding) following temporal incursions surrounding quantum phase inhibitor activation in Federation space.

    I.S.S. Lexington was chosen as envoy vessel by Republic Command due to its origination as a temporal vessel. Passive scans and recording devices were maintained by all away team officers. Temporal incursion occurred during the ceremonies, consisting of a terrorist attack on gathered officials and site. Leader of attack was voice and biometric matched to Kyana Research Lab Chief Researcher Noye.

    This was an indicated deviation from previous timestream. Vessels included Krenim ships, and Alliance-controlled K.I.S. Annorax. Scans indicated significant changes from known configuration. Local vessels and Lexington drove off forces. Annorax temporal jumped to escape vessel. See attached tactical logs.

    Pastak invoked temporal incursion to return Lexington to present, at Kyana. Annorax was still docked and matched previous configuration – no aberrant chroniton flows were detected, and state of Lab matched both Pastak and Lexington’s previous records. Upon confrontation, Noye engaged several explosives that were disarmed by local security and the away team, and seized the Annorax using his authority to obtain command codes.

    Krenim vessels of unknown origin then attacked the Lab. Please see attached preliminary quantum analysis of debris. U.S.S. Pastak assisted in defense. Lexington destroyed multiple separated squadrons – see analysis by tactical and intelligence departments on dispositions and predicted objectives. Previously unknown Krenim Imperium dreadnought assisted Annorax. Diplomatic credentials were engaged to protest to Krenim Imperium, which disavowed knowledge or construction of any dreadnaughts by their government. This has been preliminarily confirmed by Delta Command.

    Annorax was defeated using recommendations previously developed by Republic Navy Strategy Office. No modifications were detected. Lexington was drawn into temporal wake when Noye attempted to flee. Science logs of time-wake are attached, but temporal movement did not match Iconian Incursion.

    Annorax used unknown methodology of what is being called a temporal disruption to cause subspace incursion within Lexington’s port nacelle, forcing shutdown of primary EPS system, allowing Annorax to escape. Pastak was able to lock onto our location and return to present.

    Annorax received damage during temporal travel and it is believed the ship’s temporal core was damaged. No signs of temporal modification were present when returned, and Captain Walker has indicated no large-scale disruption of timeline from ‘conventional’ time travel incursions. Noye’s stated motivations and his personal logs indicate a desire to restitute for temporal incursion that removed his wife and her species from current time. These conditions still exist, indicating the temporal weapon failed or was not fired.

    Personally, I believe the Annorax was crippled and refitted to a ‘conventional’ heavy warship. The Alliance should have been either removed from existence or else militarily strengthened so that a conventional victory in the Iconian War was possible, removing the need for the construction of the Annorax. While a vessel of its power remains heavily dangerous, the Accords and their forces, which are favorable to the Republic, still exist. The Republic Navy’s uniform still in existence indicates the ‘Galactic Union’ is not a government on the integration level of the Republic or Federation, and their stated goals remain aligned with the republic.

    *

    Subcommander Kail put down the PADD with the report, re-reading it as he approached on autopilot. It had taken some time to arrive, even given the methods of shortcutting causality he was entrusted with. The Na’kuhl’s fitful raiding, pirates forgotten in some distant future, was proving a serious distraction for the few Temporal Defense officers. But the fact remained, the weapon that ended the Iconian War was still loose, and there were three constants in that weapon’s development. And Captain Nog had already been cleared. He wasn’t looking forward to this.

    He stood up and returned to the pilot seat of the little shuttle as it beeped for attention. Ahead of him was the vast bulk of a Deihu­-class warbird, its hanger bay arranged more or less as a mother picking up hatchlings in its talons. Or prey. It did seem to be nesting, several savaged Na’kuhl hulks were in the area, and several small T’varo’s were working tractor beams to gather the remaining hulks together. A small platform was running a plasma feed to one of them, its engines apparently offline for repair. Several worker bees were attending the big warbird as well, replacing plasma-damaged plating.

    “Shuttle Flashfire, this is Sparrowhawk. The Fleet Admiral is awaiting your arrival, and wanted to check if this was an official visit. Stand by for tractor beam and remote helm,” came a voice, deep into the Reman octaves, but pleasant enough.

    “Understood, Sparrowhawk,” Kail said, transitioning controls, and smiling a little. “And yes, my being here can be part of the historical record.”

    “Understood – directing to primary shuttle bay and readying receiving party,” said the big ship’s traffic control.

    *

    None of the odd pipes Starfleet used for boarding honored guests – the Rihannsu had space travel long before they’d had a chance to develop a wet-navy tradition. Otherwise, commonalities developed, such as the receiving lines of security officers, armed and at attention for guests. Jalel, An’riel’s long-serving and occasionally suffering liaison officer from Starfleet, had tried to get them to go for ‘bosun’s pipes’ but she’d put her foot down.

    Subcommander Kail stepped off the small shuttle and she returned his salute, as the crew moved smoothly to rest positions. She was pleased how well they were coming together, but gave a lot of the credit to the kinks in the training programs working out. The fleet was finally getting drafts that were useful beyond knowing which end to point a plasma pistol.

    In that cheery mood, she moved forward to give a bow of greeting as well. “Subcommander,” she said, “It is good to see you again. We welcome your input into dealing with these future renegades.”

    “Likewise, Admiral,” the older man said. He looked vaguely troubled. Understandable – without D’Tan, the Rihannsu could have easily curled up into bitterness as the Na’kuhl, so mad that fragments would destroy their entire species’ honor in meaningless temper tantrums.

    “Can we head to your private office? I’d like to check your records of their leaders and analysis against our lists,” he continued. “Your efforts against their time gateway certainly weakened them immensely, but we want to ensure their efforts aren’t having some sort of positive effect for them in the future.”

    That was a sickening thought. She kept it off her face. “Of course, Subcommander. Please follow me – Sparrowhawk is at your disposal to keep them a footnote.”


    *

    The office was snug – and equipped with several blatant scramblers. When someone from intelligence asked for a private office, An’riel did her best to provide. After a brief round of refreshments, Kail got to the point.

    “Fleet Admiral, Temporal Defense needed to make certain verifications about you, given the ‘revelation’ of time travel to the general populace, and its increasing ease of use. We live in fluctuating times,” Kail said.

    “Understandable,” An’riel said. “How can I help?”

    “Our world is a paradox,” Kail said, “Our ‘accepted’ and ‘true’ timeline is nothing of the sort.” An’riel nodded at that. “Obviously, this is not something brought under major discussion, but while there is sufficient evidence on your ship and crew – after rigorous analysis.” An’riel nodded again. Her previous destroyer was very slowly being examined, practically molecule by molecule. “The likes of Captain Walker we can understand, ships that go through time, scanning and working to correct and prevent incursions while exploring history discretely. There are, however… more subtle measures, hinted about, farther in the future. Individuals of great delicateness.”

    An’riel sighed, and said, “I must ask to confirm – do you fear one of my crew is some agent working against the Republic’s present for some nebulous future prosperity?”

    “No, you fear correctly,” Kail said, “I don’t like this either Admiral, but it has been noted – you have a tremendous talent for being in the right place at the right time, but there are others, equally capable in other strange situations that have shown great skill, determination, and panache. You are rarely skilled at inspiring your crew and dealing with strange situations, but not unique.”

    “The fleets of the Alliance attract such individuals,” An’riel said. “I have met several – some of which are simply at lower ranks because they have not had the Elements guide them to be quite as prominent a location as I at critical moments. Several of whom I would argue are far superior captains and admirals.”

    “Such a trend is not unique to such a calamitous time in history as our own,” Kail said. “I myself happened to be the closest agent on certain times I cannot mention.” An’riel nodded. “And that is the question.”

    “Whether I am, instead of a brave citizen of the Republic, but an agent from some shadowy figure manipulating events for the greater good?” An’riel asked. Her tone was dry, not amused or cold. “I have had such fears before myself, if that helps. In the darker moments, whether some force or the other is manipulating myself. I have only my own hopes that I am answering my conscience and not another’s.” She swallowed. “May I ask what brought this latest line of questioning?”

    “Success against the Na’kuhl fragments attempting disruption versus the situations involving the Annorax,” Kail said grimly. “Given our ability to check time, there’s some concern from uptime on the Annorax’s continued absence. Specifically, that you are involved in a conspiracy to hide the weapon for some other purpose – and perhaps its true purpose never worked versus its long-range time portal ability.”

    “They do this kind of thing?” An’riel asked. “This sort of infiltration?”

    “They at least consider it possible,” Kail said.

    “This is a very ugly business,” An’riel said quietly, “This world we are in now.”

    “The potentials of time travel are more obvious than their pitfalls. There are many who wish themselves gods. No one would wish the Empire’s revival or Romulus’s destruction, but that was a path strode without time travel, so Temporal Defense follows the path of trying to maintain self-determination, in D’tan’s greatest principles,” Kail said.

    “I honestly have no memory of the Annorax’s first mission,” An’riel said. “I have been given the opportunity to study parts of the temporal core. I have not met Noye before our period researching incursions on Kyana. He was acerbic, but driven. Or so I thought. I am willing to submit to brain scan readings if it is needed to verify.”

    “That is not necessary,” Kail said, “You are either telling the truth or would certainly have some tool, or the conspirators go, to defeat any technology we possess.”

    An’riel said wryly, “People think the Vulcans think too much, but I worry for our branch, sometimes.”

    “We are well-honed for conspiracy, at least any adult,” Kail agreed.

    “A darker thought occurs – if this is a grand tale of conspiracy, who would benefit? Actions to inspire doubt and spread blame on already isolated groups – with the Na’kuhl participation on New Khitomer certainly leading to examination of a scattered race of a dead star, increasing the reservoir of recruits in the future, and twisting the future away from the openness we prize. Their actions in the present are almost minor – it is obvious the Na’kuhl are so far from their present state they cannot be compared, even in much of the press.” An’riel said.

    Kail stared briefly. An’riel felt herself flush slightly. “I too, am an adult of our species,” she reminded him. “But I have tried my utmost against Noye’s actions – the Na’kuhl are simply more straightforward, and I stand by my assessment of rabble. Subcommander, they are as privateers – my engineering staff believes that the equipment is of commercial quality in their originating time. It is well engineered, but relatively poorly assembled, designed for ease of maintenance over output. This has been consistent across raids.”

    “But yet, it remains highly visible,” Kail said. “And your actions, and others, help draw attention away from other actions in these strange crosstime attacks.” An’riel felt pensive, and let it show. As had long been noted in Tal Shiar interrogation chambers – and even legitimate intelligence organizations, it is hard to prove a negative.

    Kail finally smiled. “Admiral, we are not the sort to try to prove a negative. You have done nothing wrong in our service. If it is to help weight on some strange possibility to make it more probable, all your actions have been to further the Republic, and even Temporal Defense cannot find fault with that.” Slightly more grimly, he said, “And of course, you have had plenty of opportunities for disruption.”

    “So why are you here, Subcommander? If this is some slant to my reports to avoid casting doubt on my aspirations. That could have been delivered over subspace,” An’riel said.

    “Your aspirations are it – you are now a high-ranking fleet officer. History will remember you for the Iconian War, and as an icon of our people – and forget your earlier actions against the Tal Shiar, and of course, your relationship with our Intelligence offices will be neglected,” Kail said. “Walker is one thing – but there are factions from even further in the future we have rumors of, ones who millions or billions of lives of the present are dry statistic in the history book.”

    “What do you need of me?” An’riel said coolly.

    “Your permission, and some of your luck, Elements willing,” Kail said. “Your name to be dispersed in certain quarters – a captain and admiral of some competence – who resolutely and straightforwardly dealt with threats to the Republic and the Alliance. And to keep your ears open for certain offers. Will you do so again?”

    An’riel took a few moments to think, “Should I tell the crew to act differently, or just to be wary of offers?”

    “Continue as you are, the Republic tries not to ask anyone to give up themselves, but keep your eyes open and quiet for the moment. There are forces of shadowy times beyond what contacts Temporal Defense has made with our counterparts. They may be our counterparts, or our adversaries.”

    “I have no desire to let the future stitch us into a paradox,” An’riel said. “Remain on the usual channels?”

    “Yes, our office is under Republic Intelligence, and the data stream there is sufficient to bury activity – if anything, they should simply forward your mission reports as normal.” Kail stood up, saluting again. “You are not the only one being approached – my counterparts are in agreement, and there are several various bureaus in use. The Na’kuhl may have been unfortunate, or a sacrifice to some plot. Find if our enemy is mad in the heart, or if there is some deeper foe, if at possible.”

    “I am sick to death of tyrants and the mad,” An’riel said. “Elements willing, this is just the heartsick and the latter.”

    “Do you believe that?” Kail asked, curious.

    “Not in this lifetime.”

    *

    The prompt read on Temporal Investigations looking in after the Butterfly incident, but this revolved around Midnight to some degree, and the upcoming expansion.[/b]
    Post edited by antonine3258 on
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • maciek211681maciek211681 Member Posts: 4 Arc User
    edited June 2016
    Prompt #1: "Mirrors of Love" by @takeshi6
    During an encounter with the Mirror Universe, be it repelling another Terran invasion or entering the other universe to run reconnaissance, you meet the Mirror Counterpart of an old love interest, one who, in your universe, has died (either a long time ago or fairly recently).

    How do you interact with this Mirror of your old flame? Are they similar to their prime counterpart, or vastly different? And when your encounter with the Mirror Universe ends, what happens to them? Do they join you, giving you a second chance at love? Do you go your separate ways? Or are you forced to watch your love die a second time, or worse, have to kill them yourself?

    ________________________________________

    Vice Admiral Michael Edwards watched as the viewscreen came to life to show the Terran Empire Disruption anomaly come into view. The vortex within the middle of the phenomenon was increasing and he needed to put an end to it. He stood from his chair and straightened his uniform jacket and formed out the lines across his aged average build and walked up to the helm on his Excelsior refit class starship. He could remember the time when he first took her out of dock back in 2371 and knew the old girl would hold up after all this time.
    But that was nearly 45 years ago and he was lucky to have gotten her back a few years back. He notioned the thought and spoke as he looked at his helmsman, "Prepare to maneuver us into position."
    He felt the ship lurch a bit as the helmsman did his duty and Edwards walked up near the tactical station and sat back in his command chair.
    "Mr. Klax, prepare to fire the deflector array pulse into the distortion on my mark."
    "Aye Sir," came the Klingon/Romulan officer from his post. He spoke again as he noted another reading on his sensors, "Sir! We have an object coming through."
    Edwards watched on the screen as the distortion twisted for a slight second and a ship nearly big as an Odyssey class ship came through the rift. The ships design was defiantly big but the hull was different. There was a shape of a saucer section like the new Yamato class starship but attached was the hull of similar Odyssey class starship with nacelles that stretched inwards to the hull. It seemed to Edwards that the ship seemed to be a prototype of sorts. As the ship was coming out of the rift in full now, he noted that the ship had two escorts, a Miranda class of ship on either side.
    "Red alert, raise the shields. Prepare to..."
    Edwards words were interrupted by the viewscreen flickering to show the command interior of a Galaxy class bridge. The features were dark and the symbols of purple flashing lights seem to aluminate anyone on board. He noted officers at their stations but didn’t fail to notice the horror that took the command chair. Edwards rose from his chair slightly hoping it was for a closer look but he knew it wasn’t.
    Jason Smith.
    He looked at Edwards directly in the eye and Edwards noted that his hair was shoulder length with lots of grey and white to it and noted that the body of his athletic features hadn’t changed since the last time he saw him. The uniform he wore was sleek but also badly designed as he noted that there was no communicator or any rank. But there was hanging sashed on all the other crew as well as Smith. Edwards noticed the darkness of Jason’s face as he was covered with a scar along his right eye from the forehead down to the top of the jawline.
    The ghost from his past stepped forward out of his command area on the mirror ship and spoke, "Federation vessel, you are now the property of the Terran Empire. You will lower your shields and prepare for our boarding party."
    Placing the stern face on through his old features, Edwards spoke as he addressed the past face, "You will not advance any further. I am Vice Admiral Michael Edwards of the starship Darkcloud. You have traversed into Federation Territory and will go back to which you have come."
    "Michael Edwards huh?" came the voice of Smith. He spoke, "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance as I know who you are," with a grin on his face.
    Before Edwards could respond, Smith spoke again, "I am Jason Smith, the Battlemaster for this fleet and I will make your ship part of that fleet with or without your consent." He continued as he made a hand gesture towards the screen. "We can talk in person if you like Admiral or if you wish we can..."
    "I don’t think that will be necessary Mr. Smith. I do not wish to see you in person or have my ship enter your so called battle fleet," replied Edwards as he sat down in his command chair again. He continued, "You and your counterparts will disengage before I blow you back to where you came from."
    "As you wish, Admiral," came the harsh reply from the mirror counterpart Smith and the screen flickered to show the three vessels again.
    Michael Edwards now had the rough task to take out an old friend, an old lover from the past before he could make his move. He could remember the time when Jason Smith from this universe had gone on the tangent to locate Edwards and the Darkcloud when Edwards’s ship was captured. He could remember the innocent face as they shared Edwards bedchamber after the rescue and Edwards could remember the time when Captain Jason Smith sacrificed his ship and crew to stop an anomaly that would have encompassed the entire galaxy.
    The ship shook violently and Edwards made the move. He spoke as he held onto his command chair as the ship shook again. "Helm evasive maneuvers. Klax, fire all phasers with a volley of quantum torpedoes."
    The Darkcloud moved aggressively at the three ships and both Miranda’s were caught off guard as they both lost engines simultaneously. The bigger mirror ship moved to an angle and fired photon torpedoes towards the Darkcloud. The ship shook violently and Edwards looked back at Klax.
    "Lt, are those deflector modifications still online?"
    "Yes sir."
    "Prepare to fire it on my mark, helm course 997 mark 335," replied Edwards as he made his way to the helm and held onto the station.
    The ship moved abrasively and Edwards watched as Smiths ship came into full view with the anomaly behind her. The Darkcloud fired phasers and photons again and watched as the hit crippled the port engine of the counterpart’s ship.
    "Do it Klax," Edwards spat and Edwards watched on the screen again as the deflector sent the modified pulse with all the power it could muster against the ship instead of the anomaly. Edwards watched as the pulse slammed into the saucer of the ship and straight towards the anomaly. Another torpedo strike made the hull turn upwards showing the underbelly of the massive beast and Edwards spoke,
    "Tractor repulsors!"
    The ship lurched out tractor beams to push the Terran ships away from the Darkcloud and the bridge crew watched as the Terran ships were being pulled back into the rift as the pulse started to make the rift close. One Miranda ship was crushed and exploded outward causing a chain of events that made Edwards look twice at the screen to what he had just done.
    The Terran empire ships were powerful but their hulls were too clumsy and Edwards watched as the horror came to his sights. The Miranda class that exploded took the other Miranda with her but in the process made the rift close faster but with multiple explosions on the edges to make it more dangerous. The bits and pieces of the two destroyed vessels hit the star port nacelle of the bigger Terran ship and made a bigger mess than ever. The ships nacelle made a crackle along the sides and an explosion ripped from within causing the ship to start to explode from the aft as the rift started to gobble her up like a monster in feeding.
    With a hopeless volley of phasers lashing out to anything in range, the mighty Terran ship Smith commanded finally exploded taking the rift with it and Michael Edwards watched as the alternate of his former lover met his demise. Edwards couldn’t help but lose apart of himself again as the ship set a course away from the area after a final scan to show no other Terrans in the area...

    Vice Admiral Drex Con
    -AFC- Black Star Alpha

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 638 Arc User
    May I present Ruins of the Mad, for your reading pleasure.
  • code743code743 Member Posts: 14 Arc User
    Prompt 4: Social Upheaval.
    A story featuring my poor, lonesome and neglected KDF character.

    JuVorgh System, Seh’Maqh Sector, Klingon Empire Space, Beta Quadrant

    Stardate 93383.6, May 20th, 2416


    “Keep your shields up, your weapons armed and hold this formation.” General Kothmar relayed to his fleet.

    Turning his gaze back to the viewscreen, he measured the ‘language’ of the fleet facing them. It looked disorganised, he thought. The mark of an inexperienced (and/or overly arrogant) commander. Nor were the opposing ships as modern or well maintained as his own. Had these opponents been Borg, Tholian, Kinshaya, or even Fek’lhri he would most likely be tearing through their ranks already.


    But that fleet, like his, was Klingon.


    The two fleets faced each other over the built up but deserted fourth planet in the JuVorgh system. The smaller, but better equipped and disciplined fleet was that of House Mi’Qoqh, who had claim to the world after its previous inhabitants had relocated. The larger but more ragged fleet was that of House Kor’Shong, whose current leader was a sitting member of the high council. Even with their former Patriarch dead at the hands of the Iconian M’Tara, they remained hardliners and a staunch supporter of J’mpok.


    On the other hand, the house of Mi’Qoqh had been political moderates for centuries, relying on their resource-rich worlds and modern, well-equipped fleet to discourage the predations of larger and more aggressive neighbours. They were also not averse to playing the larger houses off against each other. They had not, however, held a seat on the high council in nearly two hundred years.


    More recently, they had formed a working arrangement with a group of Romulan refugees fleeing the post-Hobus chaos of the crumbling Star Empire. This had drawn the ire of hardliners within the council, but the first force of invaders looking to ‘police’ this situation had been met by Mi’Qoqh’ forces combined with those of what had become known as the Prefecture, led by Admiral T’Nel. These would-be enforcers had been sent home with their tails between their legs, thus discouraging further incursions… until now.

    This mutually beneficial arrangement had survived the wars against first the Gorn, then the Federation, and finally the Iconians, but the people of the Prefecture had voted to become part of the Romulan Republic in the period just after the Iconian War and had relocated to the former Tal Shiar system of Brea. This had left House Mi’Qoqh with three systems on their ‘galactic northern’ border ready settlement, infrastructure intact, meaning that the house was basically the strongest it had ever been.


    Much of the rest of the Empire had not been so fortunate.


    The murder of the high council by M’Tara and the specific targeting of Qonos by Herald forces during the war had left a considerable vacuum at the top of the political hierarchy. J’mpok and the military had been able to maintain control while the Empire had been embroiled in the larger scale conflict, but in times of relative peace such as this, the Klingons had always been prone to turning against each other instead. Indeed, already there seemed to be two distinct factions forming: The existing hardliners who backed J’mpok and believed that the current non-aggression policy with the Federation was necessitated by pragmatism rather than optimism, opposed by the moderates who asserted that the Federation could not possibly be as blind and inept as it had been with the issue of Undine infiltration again. This group seemed to be rallying behind Ambassador Worf and the House of Martok.


    Kothmar turned as the turbolift door slid open behind him. From it emerged his father, Torak, the head of the house.

    “What type of game do these fools think they are playing?” He growled.

    “They’re desperate. And they see what they think are easy pickings.” Kothmar replied, his eyes not leaving the tactical plot. He continued to size up holes in their defensive lines, flanking opportunities, possible weak flights of ships to be targeted - just as he had learned from T’Nel.

    While Kothmar was still occupied, Torak spoke to the comms officer: “Hail them.”

    After a brief pause, a Klingon somewhat younger than Torak appeared on the screen. He appeared to express momentary surprise at seeing a fellow house leader, before masking it with a sneer. This was JoPhohl, who had been in control of his house for no more than two years, and had come to power at a young age.

    That explains the lack of cohesion in their fleet. Kothmar thought.

    “So, House Mi’Qoqh sends its finest. It doesn’t change the fact that this system belongs to us now.”

    Torak shook his head. “Even your father wouldn’t have been so foolish as to challenge us on our home ground. Clearly, he spent too much time on Qo’nos toadying to the Chancellor to teach you good judgement, whelp.”

    “And you spent too much time hiding on your homeworld instead of protecting the empire! And my judgement is perfectly sound, old man! You don’t have your Romulan mistress to protect you this time” JoPhohl retorted.

    ”Do you call making aggressive moves towards another house ‘protecting the Empire?’ Has the last decade taught you absolutely nothing?” Torak’s tone was incredulous.“We have too many enemies outside the empire to be turning on each other now.”

    “If my house becomes stronger, then so does the Empire.” JoPhohl said. “You soft moderates sit on your homeworlds and let let others die in your place.”

    “Pff. More like let others with more balls than brains throw their lives away recklessly.”

    “You’re throwing your lives away by daring to challenge us. This system is in neutral space and therefore open to any who can claim it.”

    “Either your intelligence is flawed or you are just plain blind. We have correspondence co-signed by Consul Anara of the prefecture and Ambassador Worf, giving this system and the mining facilities of the Prefecture in the two neighbouring systems to House Mi’Qoqh and any of its ‘soft moderate’ allies that it deems fit.” Torak stated.

    “A piece of parchment signed by a Romulan and a Federation spy is not a claim.” JoPhohl said, his tone smug. “ A truly Klingon claim lies at the business end of a disruptor cannon.”

    “You sound like J’mPok when he invaded Korvat. Perhaps it was him that sent you?” Torak questioned.

    “I’ll simply say that the Chancellor likes those who display initiative.” JoPhohl’s tone was still smug.

    “So his position is so weak that he can no longer control even his closest allies. Thank you for helping prove that point.”

    That finally appeared to crack the veneer of assurance that JoPhohl had been displaying to this point. “Pah!. Enough of this. We will be taking possession of our new territory now. ”Try and stop us, if you have the stomach for it!”

    “Go ahead” Kothmar chimed in. “But I warn you, though we may not have T’Nel’s ships, there are other ways in which the Prefecture worked with us.”

    “ A few hand-me-down Romulan military techniques that have been studied by KDF analysts? You will forgive me if that doesn’t deter me.” JoPhohl said, before uttering a short bark of laughter.

    That wasn’t quite what Kothmar had meant, but he chose to let the fool think he had the upper hand. It made him even more overconfident than what he already appeared to be. He let the comment slide and JoPhohl, thinking he had won the exchange, cut the commlink. The viewscreen went back to showing the Kor’Shong fleet, which was beginning to turn towards the planet.

    Kothmar turned towards his father, “How long will you give it?”

    Torak’s eyes didn’t leave the viewscreen. “Enough so that he learns his lesson”


    The Kor’Shong fleet was now well on its way to orbit of the planet. Kothmar noted that their formation was still staggered and uneven, even by klingon standards. He did note, with some relief, the the transports were at the rear of the fleet…


    As the fleet approached high orbit, there was a spike in background tachyon levels. If the Kor’Shong fleet detected it, they either ignored it or thought that the Mi’Qoqh fleet had cloaked ships in the vicinity. For his part, Kothmar had cloaked his own ships that were capable of doing so.

    Suddenly, there were several shimmers discernible against the background of the planet and several objects materialised out of nothing. They appeared to be defense platforms of hybrid Romulan and Klingon design surrounded by drones about the size of a runabout. The platform lanced out a tachyon beam at the closest ship, which happened to be a Vorcha-class cruiser, followed by the drones concentrating disruptor beams on it. There was no way its shields were going to stand up to that kind of onslaught. The neck and head of the ship were sheared off, before a plasma torpedo slammed into the body. It vanished in a fireball as its punctured warp core blew.


    More and more of these mobile defences emerged from cloak, having diverted from other points of orbit. Poorly spaced and caught by surprise, the Kor’Shong fleet went into melee mode - probably far earlier than they should have, given the drones had not moved into that range. Birds of Prey flew hither and thither, largely directionless, but at least their agility allowed them to avoid the carnage that the less maneuverable cruisers were facing. As Kothmar watched, a Negh’Var was skewered by an overload beam. It’s running lights flickered and died and it tumbled end over end out of the battle. He noted that the ships further back were unable to fire as the fleet was running a mostly horizontal plane, making friendly fire a real possibility.


    Still they marched onwards. By now, the fleet has assumed some sort of workable formation and begun to make some sort of effort to fight back, but more and more of the platforms and their accompanying drones were arriving from the far side of the planet, but the Kor’Shong were now within range of the next layer of defence.

    A varanus-class support ship, which had been nearly stationary in the midst of the furball, suddenly disintegrated without appearing to even be hit, whatever had hit the ship had been moving faster than anyone could register with the naked eye and the projectile had dragged a fountain of ship interior out of the gaping hole it made as it exited. Kothmar hadn’t known about this particular detail, but it struck him as something his father and T’Nel would have come up with. Mass drivers had been long looked at as a defence against the Borg, as unlike energy weapons, there were no frequency or modulation issues to get around. Fully powered shields could stop ship mounted versions of them, but the projectile had come from the surface, where the launchers could be built on a larger scale. Even a relatively small slug could carry enough kinetic energy to destroy a ship if fired with enough force. Kothmar continued to watch the fireworks as one by one, ships continued to disappear off the plot. He stole a glance at Torak, who stood watching the viewscreen impassively.Whether he intended to let the Kor’Shong be totally routed or he had some sort of number in mind, he gave no indication.


    Eventually, he pulled some sort of device from a pocket in his robe, and pressed a button. All at once, the onslaught stopped. He then began to speak in a clear, authoritative voice.

    “House Kor’Shong, you have acted without honour and to the detriment of both your house and the entire empire. Besides disputing, by force, a legitimate claim to this system as laid out by the Klingon Diplomatic corps as well as that of the Romulan Republic, you have also needlessly squandered valuable military resources when the Defence Force is not at full strength. Your act was without the consent of either the KDF or the council, and is therefore likely to reflect badly on your house. Rest assured that a full report of what has occurred today will be sent to both.”

    He paused and looked exchanged a glance at the warrior manning the sensor station, who nodded.

    “The fleets of houses Jo’Vulgh and DlQ’Vuh are minutes away. If you are still here when they arrive, you will find out that perhaps we moderates are not nearly as soft as you believe us to be.” he made a slashing gesture across his throat and the commlink was cut.

    No sooner had that happened when the comms officer signalled a hail. Torak grinned and motioned for it to be broadcast through the bridge PA.

    “This is not over Mi’Qoqh! I will burn in Grethor before I allow you and your spineless allies to take control of the council again!”


    “Then for your sake, small man, you had better hope that it doesn’t happen. Otherwise, this will be remembered as the day when the empire changed for the better, and that you were the one who handed your ‘spineless’ opposition the initiative by brandishing that rabble you call a fleet instead of negotiating in the council chamber. Now get out of this sector.”

    With that, Jo’Phohl finally appeared to have got the message. The fleet began to move off on a heading deeper back into Imperial space.
    Without saying anything, Torak exited the bridge. He had not been fully resolved before today, but he was now. It was time for a change.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 7,086 Arc User
    [Prompt 4: Civil Strife]

    [center} Betrayal of Ideals[/center]

    First City, Qo’noS…

    “This is an outrage.” Councillor B’Sanos said quietly, “Have you lost your sanity? Did you forget why we had to go to war, Chancellor? And now you propose to sacrifice Klingon Soveignty to the same FEDERATIION that-are you really YOU?

    He looked around the nearly empty chamber, “Are any of you thinking this through?

    “You are perilously close to-”

    “So what?” B’Sanos snarled, “I assume K’lek is going to mention how much we ‘owe’ the Federation for their help-after the bulk of our fleet was destroyed defending EARTH-a situation brought about directly by the Chancellor’s policies! First to war with them, then dying to preserve them, then dependent on them?” He crossed his arms, “We owe them nothing. we fought the infiltrations, we sacrificed...everything, and that’s not enough now? While our warriors were fighting the Federation’s enemies in the Delta Quadrant, while our officers endured slurs and insults without complaint, while Klingon lives were ended to keep these Federation p’taqs free to continue their perfidy...wallowing in their decadence, even tolerating their undead Kobali pets-and for what?”

    He turned to Woldan, “You know I’m right. This is a bad deal, They will turn on us as they have always done-when they feel ‘safe’ and the demons aren’t visibly at their door-If this council ratifies, we will lose the ability to act-our ability to act unilaterally is the only reason the Iconian Plans for this galaxy failed-without it, the Federation-and the Klingon Empire, would have fallen to them without a shot.”

    “B’sanos, the agreement is virtually passed.” S’kopa said quietly, “It is too late to oppose-”

    “NO, it is not.” B’Sanos negated with a gesture, “I see a host of empty seats here, four councillors and the Chancellor-that is all that remains of the Grand Council-but it is not the Grand Council of our law, or our tradition.”

    It was J’mpok’s turn to sneer, “And who would the Commoner born nominate to replace them?”

    B’Sanos snorted. “Yes...you would bring that up-that I won my rank, by defeating the very same enemies you now wish to bend the knee to serve-and with that knee, bend the Empire, repudiate our culture, tradition, perhaps even our language to the humans-only-club centered on Earth.”

    He straightened, “I fought them. I fought them in the battles of the H’romi cluster, I fought them in the Kahless Expanse, my ship led the strikes on their fortifications in the Pi Canis sector, my fleet-resources granted by your own hand, held them off in the Ker’rat Salient and suppressed Torg’s rebels at N’Vak, I earned my place on this council-I fought beside you, Ja’rod, remember?”

    “You also fought beside Federation forces.” Ja’rod of Duras noted, “Yet you argue against them.”

    “I do-because I have.” B’Sanos stated, “Individually, Starfleet has honorable warriors, whose word is as good as they can mortally make it-they are not weak fighters, but they are not reliable allies. This council-well, when more of these empty seats were filled, sent me to fight the Federation-to show them the error of their blindness and arrogance-and I did so...and sent me to fight the Romulan Empire-and I did so, and against the Borg-and I did so...and now, this council proposes to un-do all of that, all the blood, the losses, the sacrifice-for a Peace Of Paper.”

    He reached up, and undid the straps holding his prosthetic hand to the stump of his forearm, “all our victories, hollowed out, made purposeless, everything we fought for, given away and none of it makes any sense…”

    He held the crafted arm in his good hand, contemplatively. Then, he raised his eyes, “I repudiate you all. Stack the council, I care not. Next time you see me, it will be as the last time Molor saw the TRUE Kahless. I am through with the lot of you. When I die, it will at least be as a Free Klingon, not as a bondservant to Federation Masters.”

    And he threw the hand on the floor, and walked out.

    Outside, the rioting began.
    KDF: Not supported by Cryptic, because according to them, we're not 'Real' Star Trek fans.

    Well, **** them, I'll play KDF anyway.

    "We are the Federation. Resistance is futile, we will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own."-Cryptic Studios

    Advocacy
    simple logic process:

    The body is filled with so much blood...It's always more than you think!! -Dr. Dinosaur
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 4,992 Arc User
    “What Do We Do?” - Prompt 3

    Kathryn looked at the main viewscreen in shock. The planet’s surface was a wasteland of craters. Small areas of city-scape could be seen between gaping pits, but these were blackened husks. Faint clouds hovered high above the surface. The crew was looking at a dead planet. “Anything?”

    Omazei, sitting behind and to the left against the back wall shook her head. “Nothing, not anymore. There are no life-signs on the planet, not even a microbe of algae.”

    Kathryn nodded solemnly. “Can we determine how long ago this happened?”

    “Readings indicate within ten years.”

    Ian whistled from the helm station. “What happened?”

    Anthi announced, “Captain, projectile launch from the surface, headed for us!”

    Kathryn turned in her chair perplexed by the report. “Identify and time to impact?”

    Looking wide-eyed from her console, Anthi almost yelled, “solid deuterium, ten seconds!”

    “Helm, whatever it takes! Shields up!” The bridge lights suddenly turned red with the warning claxon blaring. Solaris lurched to port. Standing crew was thrown to the ground and anyone sitting was pushed into arm rests. On the viewscreen and the planet’s curve disappeared, then a bright light grew from one side.

    The shock wave crashed against the ship, pushing it along the roll axis. The shield’s either absorbed or deflected the force from the explosion. Inside, inertial dampeners and gravity regulators fought for control of the crew.

    Kathryn reached for the command chair’s armrest to lift herself from the floor. “S’Rel, save the damage report for later. Ian, don’t stop, get us out of here. Omazei what just happened?”

    The Trill Science Officer sat into her chair and started tapping at her console. After a few seconds, Omazei replied, “fusion detonation, approximately fifty megatons. Data shows a laser beam directed at the projectile from the surface caused the ignition. The source of both seems to be from the same location.”

    Ian McKinnon at the helm spoke up. “Captain, we are about to arrive at the moon’s orbit around Kurza III.”

    Turning to helm, Kathryn smiled. “Thank you Ian, full stop. Get ready to bolt if we are attacked again.” She looked around the bridge, and then rested her gaze to the MSD console. The image of the Excelsior-class ship above S’Rel started showing red in many places along the ship with increasing amounts. “Okay, go to yellow alert. S’Rel, let’s look at the damage report. I want a staff meeting in thirty minutes.”

    +++

    Kathryn looked around the room and stopped at the Chief Medical Officer. “How’s the crew?”

    Annika Kramer sat forward. “There is not a concern for radiation; the ship’s shielding handled that easily. Although, initial reports declare there are ten serious injuries from the initial evasive maneuver, thirty-seven more from the shockwave and over two-hundred minor injuries over both events, after that, bumps and bruises. Triage teams will be working around the clock.”

    “And the ship?”

    The Andorian Chief Engineer interlaced his fingers on the table, a sign of concern. “The ship got battered from such close proximity to a thermonuclear explosion. Repairs will be slow, but he’ll fly right.”

    “We’ve been through worse, Thel, I’m sure. Analysis of the situation?”

    S’Rel raised a Vulcan eyebrow as if to gather attention before speaking. “The Kurza system was mapped by Voyager’s journey through the Delta Quadrant, though only rudimentary information was collected as the system was over fifty light years perpendicular to the path plotted. A study by Starfleet determined faint radio transmissions emanating from the system.”

    Kathryn picked up immediately, “which is why we are here: consider First Contact possibilities unless the Prime Directive kicks in. Radio signals are a sign of a developing culture, yet within thirty years, it looks like whatever culture was on Kurza III is now gone, and a giant gun is pointed into space?”

    Omazei leaned forward. “Automated planetary defenses are well known throughout recent history. In 2364, when the Enterprise-D visited the planet Minos , for example. This weapon may have been a part of the culture when Voyager passed by.”

    “You said, ‘automated’. Have scans revealed anything about our attacker?”

    Omazei looked at a PADD. “Back-tracing the trajectory of the attack, the source location is a massive metallic structure on the surface.”

    The Andorian First Officer swiveled her chair toward Omazei. “It’s easy to presume the weapon was defending the planet because of our reception. But if the surface looks like a war zone, then could it be that the weapon was used against the planet?”

    The room was quiet for a few seconds. Kathryn started to formulate a plan. “Okay, I want to see this through. A small team is going to the surface. Omazei, have Romas Verthir meet me in Transporter Room Three. Thel, can you join me for this one?”

    The ship’s engineer nodded.

    +++

    Three Starfleet officers materialized on the planet and immediately pulled out tricorders from holsters on their environmental suits. Romas turned left while Thel turned right as Kathryn swept in front of her. Occasional strong winds blew dirt and sand in every direction.

    Kathryn turned her head within the suit, whose design was inspired by the hellish milieu of Nukara. “Radiation levels are pretty high. We’ll have an hour at best.”

    “Captain, look below.” Romas sounded sad and Kathryn had to bend at the waist due to the helmet being fixed to the shoulder harness. She took a step back from seeing the burned skull, only to crush more blackened bone. She looked around again and realized they teleported onto a field of bones.

    Thel stepped forward still looking at his tricorder and snapped more bone, seeming to be oblivious to the carnage under foot. “Captain, my readings suggest an entryway to the structure one-hundred meters in this direction.” He was pointing toward the long side of the building that fired upon Solaris, which they chanced to start their survey of the situation. Fortunately, the ship was not greeted by weapons fire as before.

    Kathryn and Romas joined Thel as he walked in the direction the tricorder was taking him. She inspected the area as best as the restrictive combat suit would allow. The building itself was almost one-hundred meters tall and three-hundred meters long and covered in rubble and sand from the area. It looked as if debris and soil rained from the surrounding parts of the city. The entire settlement around them was devastated. Large buildings seemed gutted out from massive explosions, revealing only the skeletal structure of beams from foundations. Smaller buildings seemed cleaned away by a massive broom.

    As they walked, Romas would briefly stop to examine a skeletal corpse before catching up to the others only to stop again and scan with the tricorder. Kathryn noticed the number of bodies, or the piles of bones seemed to increase as they approached the door.

    Thel suddenly raised an arm to stop Kathryn and he gestured to the building. Kathryn watched as a long pole pointed at them and swiveled back and forth, as if to wave them away from approaching further. She increased the audio from external microphones and heard a distinctly familiar sound.

    Click. Click. Click.

    “Thoughts?”

    Thel lifted his tricorder slowly. After a few seconds, he reported, “it’s a ballistic weapon and clearly out of ammunition.”

    “That explains the wounds in the nearby bodies,” Romas added and he knelt down to put a finger through a hole in a skull.

    Kathryn looked around and noticed more in the same condition nearby and shook her head. She looked up and down the length of the building and started to notice other barrels protruding outward in varying sizes and lengths. Only the one nearby was moving. Leaning back to look toward the top of the building, she could see a large dome at the center with a long cylinder pointing toward the sky. She surmised that was the cannon that shot at her ship. “This structure is made for war.”

    Thel took a step forward. “The door is this way.” He placed a hand on the phaser pistol at his waist.

    As they reached the door, it hanged by one hinge inward and looked as if it were opened by explosive force. Cautiously, Kathryn entered first and activated the suits headlamps. Inside, the dust and dirt crawled into the structure from several years of exposure. The metallic hallway was only ten-meters long, devoid of any other features and allowed the team to walk in their bulky suits without discomfort. When they reached the door at the other end, it slid open without prompt but with great difficulty. Sand slowly blew into the fresh interior.

    She moved her suit to allow the lamps to shine within. Inside the darkened room was packed with conduits, pipes and various conveyors, yet a walkway allowed transit within the metallic guts of the building. The microphones picked up a faint hum inside the structure suggesting it was still powered by some source. Kathryn turned back to Romas and Thel, both were still conducting scans with tricorders.

    Kathryn activated the suits communicator. “Solaris, this is the Captain, do you read me?”

    Static answered first and then Anthi’s voice responded faintly, “barely, but underst- <shzzt>. We are still <shzzt> to track your loca- <shzzt>. Do you cop- <shzzt>.”

    “Yes. Boost signal and check every five minutes.”

    “Aye aye, Capta- <shzzt>.”

    “Okay, make or break time. Thel, I’ll need another pair of eyes in here, Romas keep scanning and mapping, please. Let’s chat to a minimum.” The others agreed with thumbs-up. Turning to the open door, she entered with a hand resting on her sidearm.

    Several uninterrupted minutes passed as they walked the path that seemed to lead to the center of the structure. Communication with the ship was becoming more strained and Romas surmised it was indirect interference. At one point they passed a large area that was clearly used as an ammunition storage room with automated loaders near tracks and conveyors. The room was empty of fuel for the many weapons the site contained.

    Eventually, they reached the center of the building. Inside the cavernous room, the walls were covered with display screens, all darkened and a few cracked. Suspended from the ceiling was a large command chair connected by a jungle of cables and wires. Some were not connected to the chair or armature and hanging above the floor. In front of the chair were a few other displays with input terminals. Sitting in the chair rested a single occupant, unmoving.

    Slowly walking into the room, Romas continued his scans behind Thel and Kathryn. Checking the chronometer, Kathryn noted they would have very little time to investigate the situation as prolonged exposure was still a concern, yet the radiation levels inside the building were significantly lower than outside. Stepping toward the control chair, Kathryn could tell the occupant was dead from a head wound. In the Kurzan’s lap was an elegant-looking pistol, clearly used for its suicide.

    “What happened?” Kathryn though out loud. Looking to Thel, he was already at a nearby console using his tricorder. She checked her suit’s reading once more. “Thel, anything?”

    Without looking away from his work, he tapped at the tricorder before responding, “yes, sir. This console seems functional. In fact, most systems within the structure seem to be reasonably operational. I’m attempting to download information, but –“

    Concord calls
    Enemies of the state
    All within
    All without
    Only Concord remains

    The deep voice comes from everywhere within the room. Romas and Thel look to Kathryn. She shrugs. “Let me guess Thel, you are unable to download anything because of resistance from the program?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Kathryn nods. She clears her throat and then activates the suit’s speakers. “Are you … Concord?”

    Victory
    In name and duty
    Forever

    Romas turned to Kathryn. “Captain, as a war machine, Concord may only recognize military-style phrasing, so conversation may be limited in scope. Yet, I do sense a presence here. I perceive Concord is A. I.”

    Kathryn raised a hand absentmindedly to her neck as if reaching for her rank pips. It was a tick of hers as she concentrated. Would Concord respond to further inquiry? “Concord, I am a commanding officer conducting performance evaluation. Action report is ordered.”

    The team waited for several minutes. Kathryn started to think the conversation was over before Concord responded.

    Pacification accomplished
    Enemies of the state
    Vanquished
    Yet Brothers
    Defeated
    Only Concord Remains

    Thel stood and closed his tricorder. “I’m not getting any data from these terminals. Concord will either need to give us the information or tell us about it.”

    Kathryn nodded. “Explain the defeat.”

    Enemies of the state
    Created the Brotherhood
    Then
    Destroyed the Brotherhood
    Only Concord Remains

    “Created, then destroyed,” Romas paced toward the dead Kurzan in the center of the room. “What if the Brotherhood were others like Concord? Maybe the Kurzans created these structures as a means of planetary defense that turned against them –“

    “An unintended genocide?” Thel interrupted. “Then why would the controller,” pointing to the Kurzan, “kill himself? Wouldn’t he try to stop Concord in some way?’

    Romas continued his train of thought. “Maybe he couldn’t stop Concord … or maybe he started it?”

    Kathryn looked at the chronometer and waved a hand to stop discussion. “There are too many variables, too many mysteries and we are out of time.” She turned toward the door.

    Thel attached the tricorder onto his belt. “What about Concord?”

    Turning to look back, Kathryn answered. “Our mission was to determine First Contact protocols. If we were unable to make First Contact, then the Prime Directive kicks in. In this case, P. D. does not apply as we were not aware of Concord until it was too late. We have not contaminated the civilization because it doesn’t exist anymore. So the only question that remained was what happened to the Kurzans.” She opened her arms wide. “This happened.”

    Romas turned back to the controller. “That may be so, but what do we do with Concord?”
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,023 Arc User
    edited November 2016
    A Matter of Honor
    An Iconian War Story by StarSword-C and Worffan101

    In fine apparel clothed, tae another bairn betrothed
    Told one day you’d be the queen o’ France
    Ambition rode your fears, made you old before your years
    Whispered power in your ear as you danced
    But a politician’s wiles need a schemer, no’ a child
    And you never saw the price you’d have to pay
    For like a hired assassin’s knife, Scotland’s violence and strife
    Would cut scruple frae your life, day by day
    What were you first, quine or queen?
    Or did your heart drown in between
    The tyrant ship o’ state and the cruel shore o’ fate?
    What were you first, queen or quine?
    Wha gave you first yon bitter wine
    That held your heart at ransom tae the cruel, proud and handsome
    And left hope a lonely prisoner in a far north land

    To some you were a knave, better left a galley slave
    To some you were the saviour o’ a nation
    But you were never asked to tell what caught you when you fell
    Between your ain private hell and salvation
    And I’d respect your memory more if you had paused upon yon shore
    Before you made your journey tae Geneva
    For one clear line across the sand might have stayed fanatic hands
    Left you better baith as man and believer
    What were you first, man or priest?
    Or the tool o’ Revelation’s beast
    Primes wi’ fire and thunder tae tear Scotland’s soul asunder?
    What were you first, priest or man?
    Sae sure you’d sit on God’s right hand
    On the final judgement day. Did you never think tae pray
    That your ain sins might find mercy in a far north land

    God save us frae the lure o’ the certain and the sure
    For arrogance is cold religion’s daughter
    And God save us frae the sin that throws conscience tae the wind
    Sheds blood for kith and kin like it was water
    What brought you baith tae truth or dare?
    What devil’s bargain did you swear
    That gave you leave tae barter wi’ heroes, fools and martyrs?
    What were you baith in Scotland’s eyes
    But different tongues for different lies?
    Lord and Lady of Misrule
    Who used a nation for their tool
    Who both betrayed the future of a far north land

    — “A Far North Land” by Brian McNeill

    First City, Qo’noS. July, 2410.

    The night was loud in Kargh’s Place, a dive bar on the First City’s outskirts. The speakers were blasting an atonal Octanti power ballad that the Klingons liked,“Revenge for the Homeworld”, and a barfight was currently ongoing between a ten-foot female Gorn and six massive, burly Klingons with two beefy Nausicaans as backup. The Gorn was winning. Most of the rest of the patrons were similarly disruptive, either spilling their bloodwine in a state of extreme inebriation or loudly arguing bets over the bar fight.

    Most, that is, except for the hooded shape in the corner, who sat nursing a mug of warnog in silence, a scaled orange hand the only thing visible. A drunk Klingon barged up against the table, trying to shove his way into the shape’s booth. The shape said something. The Klingon took offense, putting his hand on his dagger. The shape nudged his robe aside, revealing a smooth disruptor pistol, a new model from the House of Martok’s own development facilities. The Klingon didn’t take the hint, drawing his blade.

    Then the shape’s head turned sharply towards him, and he stumbled, falling backwards, and collapsed through another man’s chair, immediately starting another small brawl.

    A nervous-looking Orion in drab clothing appeared in the doorway, and the shape showed no reaction. The Orion, a young female, skirted the brawl as she tried to keep her eyes on every corner of the room at once, sliding into the seat opposite the figure.

    The hooded shape leaned forwards. “Eris?”

    “Yes, sir. You’re the representative of the House?”

    “In a way.” The hooded figure pulled the hood partway back, revealing an orange, toothy Lethean face. The Orion gasped and started backwards.

    “General! I, er, wasn’t expecting…”

    “Cut to the chase. Your intel affects the House of Martok, which means it affects the House of Chel’tok, which means it affects my wife, which means it affects me.” General Brokosh, flag officer in command of the Klingon Sixth Fleet, put his hand out flat on the table. “What’s the intel? Don’t give me cr*p about half in advance, you’ll get your money.”

    “I don’t want money, General, I want asylum. This intel is big, there’s multiple major players out for my blood, and I’m certain that I’m being watched.”

    “Were you followed?”

    “I… I don’t think so?”

    The Lethean hissed. “We’d better make this quick, then. Spill, and I’ll get you back to Chel’tok’s mansion in fifteen minutes.”

    “Deal,” the Orion said instantly. “I’m an assistant to Matriarch Kal’Mor. Last month I overheard a conversation between her and several other… merchant leaders… of the Syndicate, talking with Melani D’ian and the Chancellor. D’ian was trying to muscle more concessions out of J’mpok; she said ‘You wouldn’t have gotten that seat without me, you would’ve been at best an even match against Martok in a fair fight.’ I got a partial recording, but the audio isn’t very good. I think that Kal’Mor’s on to me, though, she told me that there was no need for me to come to work today…”

    “You have the recording on you?” Brokosh interjected. The Orion nodded. “Good. We’re headed back to my place. Do you have underwear on under that sweater?”

    “Yes, why do you…”

    “Strip. Down to the underwear. You’re a prostitute who I paid good money for; if they’re looking at your t*ts they won’t be looking at your face.” Comprehension dawned. The Orion started to pull the sweater off. “Careful, don’t be too obvious!” Brokosh hissed.

    “Sorry! I’m just a clerk, not a prosti.”

    “Yeah, and a good thing too or my wife’d have my head…” the Lethean muttered. He wasn’t serious, though; Ba'wov knew him, and though her grandmother might kick his *ss when he came in the door with an Orion in skimpy underwear on his arm, his wife would put it down to a crazy scheme immediately.

    She’d seen crazier things with him even before they’d started dating fifteen years ago.

    “Done,” the Orion said, peeling off the last sleeve of her sweater and rolling up her pants.

    “Good. Pass over the clothes, I need to look fat.” Eris obeyed, and Brokosh surreptitiously stuck the clothes up his shirt as a Klingon went flying past after a truly impressive overhand throw by the Gorn. “Right, let’s move. You’re being paid a lot of darseks to f*ck me and make me think I’m sexy when I’m not, got it?”

    “Yes, General.”

    “Good, and don’t call me that, use the name, uh”—he quickly thought up a pseudonym—“‘Martouf’.”

    “‘Martouf’?”

    “Granddad’s second cousin.” The Lethean held out his arm, which the Orion took with a sultry leer and a titter. “Walk fast, but not too fast.” She obeyed, matching his pace. Brokosh turned to the bouncer as they reached the exit. “Kurgan. Here’s a tip and a little something for your kid.” The burly Nausicaan looked at the hundred darsek coin and Code of Honor IV: Modern Warfare hologame chip, and nodded. “We were never here, got it.”

    “Sure. Who are you, anyway?” asked Kurgan, his acting skills truly impressive for a bouncer approximately the size and shape of a bear with the fangs to match.

    “Thanks. Say hi to the wife for me.” Brokosh turned away and raised his voice. “C’mon, babe, I’ll show you how a real captain doesh it! That Feddie-bear idiot Jim Kirk’sh got nothing on me, shweetheart!”

    “Oh, Captain,” sighed Eris in a voice several octaves above her normal one. “I’m sure that you’ve seduced hundreds of women in your time…”

    “Oh, babe, you wouldn’t believe my record…” Brokosh slurred, aping drunkenness. He dropped his voice into a low whisper. “Just smile and laugh. I’ll make like I’m whispering in your ear.”

    Eris nodded before catching herself, then forced out another airheaded titter. Brokosh reached out low-level with his mind, feeling a mental thumbs-up from a passing Lethean mindhound—a professional telepath rated in Undine hunting—with a squad of Klingon cops. Brokosh didn’t return the favor, just in case, and kept a mental eye on the guy until the cops rounded the corner a couple blocks down. They had only a klick and a half to get to Chel’tok, three-quarters of that now, but he didn’t dare get his communicator out if Eris really was being watched; that would blow the cover and all this would be for nothing, plus they’d have to hold off an ambush until his troops got here…

    Wait. Something in the shadows in that alley. Brokosh half-turned his head, thrusting out mentally. Malice met him, and intent

    “Get down!” He shoved Eris bodily to the ground as disruptor fire scored a building at head height across the road. The assassin was hiding in the alley on the west side of the street. Brokosh stabbed with his mind, but the enemy’s brain was slippery as hell—Orion, likely, but seriously drugged and probably with some other kind of artificial protection. Brokosh threw back his cloak, drawing the pistol, and fired two shots into the alley like lightning, pulsing outwards mentally to feel for other hostiles. “Into the store, now!” There was a traditional Klingon butcher’s shop mere meters away; Eris scrambled for the door…

    She screamed as a thrown knife caught her in the back, and crumpled. Brokosh swore, seeing another assassin pop up from the roof on the other side of the road, but fortunately his shooting reflexes were still good, and the greenskin crumpled off the side with a scorched hole in her chest as Brokosh, counting on on the armorweave vest under his cloak, shielded Eris with his body.

    More disruptor fire snapped out, and Brokosh tested Eris with his…

    Oh, Goddess. She was fading, and fast. Brokosh fired three more shots into the shadows, then grabbed Eris and hauled her bodily into the shop while the enemy got back out from the trash compactor he was using as cover.

    “Eris? Stay with me.” The Orion groaned in response. Brokosh pulled the blade out and sniffed it. He knew that bitter smell: a fast-acting neurotoxin, favored by Orion assassins. He looked at Eris’s face; she was already going stiff, breath weakening. Her heart had probably already stopped.

    “Eris, listen to me. Where’s the data? Where’s the recording?”

    “Sealed… waterproof… chip,” she managed. “Swallowed… it… safer…”

    And as insurance. Smart. Brokosh put a hand to her cheek.

    “That toxin kills in under a minute, kid. I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

    “Not… your… fff…” Her eyes went wide for a moment, and then the lids went slack, as did her neck, her head rolling to the side as her last breath petered out.

    Brokosh closed the young Orion’s eyes. “I’ll get ‘em back for that, kid. Don’t worry.”

    A disruptor buzzed up inches from his head. “No, General,” growled a deep voice. Brokosh felt the shooter—Orion, for sure. “You won’t get the chance. Don’t try your mental tricks, we’re using Devore anti-telepath helmets.”

    “Let me guess,” Brokosh growled. “You’re with Matriarch Kal’Mor?”

    The Orion chuckled. “I’ll let you know since you’re a dead man. This hit order came through Kal’Mor from D’ian herself. I don’t know how you pissed her off, buddy, but it sure sucks to be—” There was a swish and a thunk.

    The Orion fell backwards, his disruptor discharging into a table and sending targ steaks tumbling to the ground. A beefy Klingon woman in a bloodstained apron and disposable plastic gloves stood in the doorway to the back of the shop, snarling. “quvha’ uryannganpu’. You alright? Uh, General?”

    “Yeah, I am.” Brokosh stood, sparing an appreciative glance for the cleaver embedded in the Orion man’s head. “Nice throw. What’s your name?”

    “Korva, daughter of M’otar. Best steaks in Morath District.”

    “Huh. I think we’ve ordered from this place before.”

    “Might be. You General Brokosh, House Chel’tok’s ghIntaq?”

    “Yeah, that’s the one.”

    “I catered your anniversary feast. Your wife tips well.”

    Brokosh pulled out his own knife, kneeling over Eris. “Thanks. Don’t touch that blade, it’s poisoned. The police should be here in forty seconds if I know this beat.” He sliced through Eris’s abdomen, pulled her stomach partially out, and cut into that, pouring out the bile, then wrapped his left hand in her sweater and used it to pick up the chip. “You’ll cater every feast my wife’s family has for the next ten years if you tell the police the Orion did everything. We’ll handle Capital Security.”

    “Sure, General.” The Klingon woman licked her lips at the thought of all that money. “Doesn’t your son have a birthday coming up?”

    “Yeah, and he’s the heir now, too. So it’s going to be a big feast.”

    “Nice.” The Klingon stepped out of the doorway as booted feet became audible outside. “Right out back, just follow the alley. Tell your wife that I have a shipment of top-quality Khitomer brush-fed targs coming in in two weeks.”

    “Thanks, I will.” Brokosh ducked out the back, pulling the hood back up and breaking into a jog. With his right hand he reached for his communicator. So much for subtlety.
    * * *

    House of Martok townhouse, First City, Qo’noS. Six hours later.

    “We should challenge this honorless dog at once!” Drex, son of Martok, was fuming. “I knew that he killed my father through treachery!”

    “This is not enough evidence,” Ja’rod, son of Lursa, argued. The young head of the House of Duras was an odd sight in the house of his family’s historical rivals, but the ghIntaq of the House of Martok had personally invited him. And nobody, not even Lady Sirella herself, would question the ghIntaq’s judgement of a man who had saved Qo’noS itself by his side. “If we go before the High Council with a poor-quality recording alone… this is too easy to fake. J’mpok will be looking to make an example of someone as well, given the rumors about his military ‘prowess’ after the Iconian attack on Qo’noS.”

    “He’s right,” Brokosh said, sitting back in a chair by the door. “We need more. How much more, I don’t know—Eris was the only lead we had outside of this recording.”

    “We could exhume his body,” the white-haired Noggra suggested. “Lady Sirella keeps it in stasis in protest still. Worf, you still have contacts in Starfleet; you could get it autopsied.”

    The greying Klingon warrior to the Lady Sirella’s right nodded cautiously. “I served for many years with the current Surgeon General of Starfleet,” the son of Mogh rumbled. “It would not be difficult to arrange an examination. I also suspect that Captain Bashir still owes me a favor, although I believe that he is enjoying his anniversary on Cardassia at the moment.”

    “The Surgeon General is simpler,” Ba’wov agreed. “Dr. Crusher has more authority and credibility with the medical community than Bashir: he’s been blackballed for being an Augment from three hospitals that I know of.”

    “Agreed,” Ja’rod concurred. “Lady Sirella, I support Lady Ba'wov and ghIntaq Worf’s plan.”

    “Same here,” Brokosh grunted. “Besides, she’s my wife, why wouldn’t I agree with her?” He patted her leg with obvious pride. Ba’wov turned and growled at him. The Lethean just grinned, and got a blown kiss in return.

    “Kids these days,” muttered Noggra, though not unkindly. “I support this plan, as well. I further advise that we perform an investigation, with any contacts that we have available, into the Orion Syndicate’s dealings in the days before and immediately after Martok’s death.”

    “I have a few options there,” Brokosh noted. “Us mercs are like a big, noisy family. But we should also get a top-flight mindhound; D’ian’s people had some kind of telepathy-disrupting tech they bought off some guys from the Delta Quadrant. It’d need to be someone a lot better than me, an experienced Undine-hunter or a therapist who’s spent years on really tough cases, to slip through stuff like that.”

    “Do you have access to a person like that?” Ja’rod asked.

    “I can make a few calls. There’s a guy I knew back in the day who’s working on a Romulan ship now. Exchange officer under the Tripartite Treaty of Khitomer, so they can send him back for one quick job without it being official Republic involvement, so long as we’re quiet about it. He was sharp back then and he’s top-rated with Intel’s mindhound corps. I just need Worf to make a call.”

    “Enough,” said Lady Sirella. “I am decided.” All eyes turned to her. “We will proceed with both investigations. I will begin to communicate with potential allies, if we are to confront J’mpok himself. Worf, Brokosh, you will deal with the autopsy and the Lethean. Ja’rod, Ba'wov, if you would assist with the Syndicate plot?”

    “Of course, Lady Sirella,” growled the son of Lursa. Ba’wov saluted with a nod.

    “Good. And understand, whomever you contact must act with the utmost discretion. I have waited more than a decade for this opportunity, and I will not see it squandered. Am I understood?”

    All of the heads nodded. “Yes, my Lady,” growled the son of Mogh. “It shall be done as you command.”
    * * *

    Conference room, IKS HoSbatlh. Two hours later.

    “Eris said that she worked for Enyala Kal’Mor, a Syndicate boss under D’ian,” Brokosh said, standing at the head of the table with his knuckles resting on the surface, putting a picture up on the main screen. It was a green woman’s face, hard-edged and pitted with burn scars. “Kal’Mor’s as dirty as sin, or at least suspected of such—racketeering, drug smuggling, a bit of slavery, the usual. There’s even a Breen cartel boss who has a standing price for her head and flayed corpse, and those guys are alright with just about anything. We’re going to get her, then force a confession out of her with a mindhound—that’s admissible in the Council, but only if you do it the right way. I’m not that good, I never got mindhound training, so we’re shipping in a guy I know who works for the Romulans—top rated mindhound with therapy, routine scanning, and sustained telepathic combat experience. After we’re done plumbing her brains, she mysteriously disappears and nobody ever sees her again. Understand?”

    There was a general nodding of heads. Norigom cleared his throat.

    “Yeah?”

    “Back with my old, uh, ‘privateer company’, this was back in the Nineties, anybody who screwed with the captain personally got shot out the torpedo tubes into a star,” the Nausicaan supplied. “If they were lucky, they were dead first. I can handle disposal.”

    “Good. Meromi, I want you to lead the second assault team, I’ll lead the first. We’re going to hit Kal’Mor from two sides, pin her down, and extract her. In, out, gone in less than thirty minutes—she’ll probably be able to get a general distress call out before we can jam coms. I want the IFF transponder disconnected and the hull repainted with generic pirate stuff. This doesn’t get traced back to Chel’tok or the Sixth Fleet in any way. Am I clear?”

    “Kal’Mor and I have… history,” Meromi said cryptically. “Rest assured, sir, I’ll get it done.”

    The smile she gave Brokosh sent a chill down his spine.
    Post edited by starswordc on
    "Never underestimate your audience. They're generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment."
    — Lt. Col. Cameron "Shaft" Mitchell, "200", Stargate SG-1
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  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,023 Arc User
    edited November 2016
    A Matter of Honor (part 2)

    IKS Taj, Qo’noS orbit.

    “Sorry I’m late,” Brokosh said, striding into Worf’s ready room and buffing one of his facial tusks with a cloth. “Got held up in traffic—some jackass was trying to smuggle red sand up his *ss and they detected it in the transporter. Small-time crooks never learn.”

    Worf grunted in understanding. “I learned that lesson on DS9. Constable Odo and I once arrested the same man three times for smuggling the same goods in the same way in three consecutive months—once even selling the goods to the same undercover man who turned him in the first time. Are you ready?”

    “Whenever you are.”

    The Klingon tapped a code into his desktop computer, opening up a communication channel. After a moment, a green logo of stylized, spread wings appeared, quickly replaced by a Romulan man with broad windows at his back. “Authorization code, please.”

    “Three. Seven. Romulus. Mars. Echo. Daphne. Ivan. Targ.”

    “Authorization confirmed, ghIntaq Worf. Whom do you need to speak with so urgently?”

    “High Admiral D’trel. I know that she is currently either on the planet or in orbit.”

    “Please hold.” The screen returned to the winged logo, and soft music began to play.

    “Terran 1990s pop? Really?” muttered Brokosh. Worf growled sympathetically.

    After several minutes, the screen shifted again, showing a Romulan warbird bridge as a muscular Romulan woman handed a Reman a stack of PDAs. “If you can get me the plasma lance integrated into the spaceframe, I think that’s a viable option going forwards for synergetic artillery formations, there’s a potential tactical role there if we can get a better handle on the high-mobility warbird concept as a flank defender. Excuse me, I need to take this.” She turned. “To what do I owe the—Ah! Wo’rIv quv.” The Romulan saluted in the Klingon fashion. “An honor.”

    “The honor is mine,” the old warrior replied. “To business, Rahaen’Enriov. We have need of a trustworthy telepath, and one of my colleagues has recommended one of your men.”

    “What sort of op?” the High Admiral asked, somewhat warily.

    “A matter of honor, and the fate of the Klingon Empire,” Worf replied with an intent semi-glare. The Romulan nodded hesitantly, then her PDA pinged. She looked down, tapped it… and looked back up after several moments with a smile.

    “I see. I have a Lethean rated as Senior Mindhound on my crew—Daysnur usually works in Main Engineering, but he’s the best telepath I know. If you want him, he’ll be on a shuttle in ten minutes.”

    “That’s him,” Brokosh confirmed from behind Worf. “I know that man, he’s among the top ten mindhounds I know, he’s got a clean-ish record, and he’s not beholden to the Chancellor’s men in any way. We need him for a brain-mine and telepath-assisted interrogation—my team is already working out a trap for the target.”

    “Your request is accepted. The Khre’Enriov has sent me the details—thank you for that, Mister Ambassador.” The Romulan tapped a message onto her PDA and continued. “I will offer my own services as an observer as well; it seems likely that the legitimacy of a Republic observer will be… useful, when it comes time for regime change.”

    “Thank you, High Admiral,” Worf rumbled. “Your offer is generous, and appreciated.”

    “No need for thanks. I will contact you in two hours; If you’re doing what I think you’re doing, I’ll need to meet with Obisek and the Khre’Enriov. The Republic has a vested interest in seeing the Klingon Empire led by a more… reliable leader. We don’t like our two largest neighbors getting into border spats: it’s bad for the Proconsul’s blood pressure. Qapla’, Worf.” She saluted again and cut the channel.

    “More than I was expecting,” noted Brokosh. “I’ll take care of Kal’Mor, are you going to handle the Surgeon General?”

    “As soon as Ja’rod finishes his present business, I shall,” Worf replied. “Good hunting.”

    “Thanks. Good luck with the doctor.”
    * * *

    Archanis sector, Federation-Klingon disputed territory.

    Enyala Kal’Mor’s personal starship, a Marauder-class heavy cruiser flagged as Li’valen, dropped out of warp in interstellar space, only five kilometers from the IFF of a civilian freighter that was currently broadcasting a distress call. The Matriarch herself was on the bridge, leaning forwards in her command chair eagerly. “Shields up, power up all weapons, and put me on so I can broadcast a—wait. Where is the freighter?”

    “Mistress, I don’t know,” the sensor officer replied. “I’m trying to correct—there’s a signal beacon and a distress call but I’m not getting…. What the—”

    Eight hundred kilometers behind Li’valen, a heavily modified Tor’Kaht-class Klingon battlecruiser decked out in a red-and-black paint scheme dropped out of cloak and laid a hail of disruptor fire across the Orion ship’s rear flank. Kal’Mor screamed in anger as the bridge shook. “Damned freelancers! Bring us about! Launch fighters, signal for reinforcements!”

    “They’re jamming our coms!” the woman at the communications station cried.

    Kal’Mor cursed in the old tongue. “Ready a broadside, we’ll blow them apart!”

    Another volley tore into the rear shields. “Matriarch, our rear shields are failing, they hit us with some kind of tachyon pulse weapon!”

    “Bring us about, damn it! Helm!”

    “They’ve got a smaller turn radius than us, I can’t shake them!”

    The battlecruiser closed rapidly, disruptors glowing hot for another volley. Kal’Mor swore. “Fighters! Where are my fighters?”

    “Launching now, Matriarch!”

    The battlecruiser stopped shooting. Why weren’t they…

    As the first fighters left the hangar bay, pinpoint blasts of green light burned through their shields and swatted them out of space. Another bolt struck the rim of the door, scarring the hull plating and destroying the door controls with one hit; yet another landed inside the bay and the entire ship bucked as fuel and munitions detonated, a fireball ripping through several decks. One of the crew screamed a casualty report: all the pilots and most of the flight deck crew were dead, and the ship was leaking atmo.

    Kal’Mor swore again as she realized what was really going on. Those “pirates” were using textbook IKDF firing patterns. This was a trap, a trap specifically for an Orion carrier—and on her turf, it meant it was a trap for her. “Warp! Take us to warp, now, now, n—”

    The disruptors fired again, and Li’valen’s starboard engine block erupted into a momentary inferno. Red alert sirens blared, and Enyala Kal’Mor nearly fell out of her chair.

    “They’re launching boarding shuttles!” the weapons officer snarled. “I’ll try to—” Another powerful blast cut him off as a spread of targeted low-yield photon warheads crashed into the weapons emplacements. The carrier reeled in space as secondary explosions split the hull plating in multiple places.

    “We’re dead in space,” the navigator screamed. “Shields out, warp core failsafes tripped—”

    Kal’Mor drew her knife with a feral snarl. “They want me so badly? They will pay in blood for their foolishness! Prepare to repel boarders! Move, move, move!”
    * * *

    “Breach the door.”

    Ila’kshath obliged, drawing back one mighty armored fist and slamming it into the weak corner of the airlock. The metal dented. Another punch, and it tore inwards. The Gorn reached through with her massive right hand, braced herself with her legs and the left, and pulled.

    Disruptor fire sprayed hot metal off the back wall of the assault shuttle. Brokosh peeked out and had a momentary sight of several male thralls with guns leveled at him as he threw two photon grenades into the corridor and ducked back behind cover. The report was thunderous in the confined space; Brokosh glanced back out to see nothing left but mutilated bodies.

    “Move!” Brokosh barked, disruptor already raised. “Meromi, we’re in.”

    Breaching on our side, General.

    “Good. Keep it tight, call your shots, get it done.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “K’gan, keep me posted on your men’s progress. Qapla’!

    Qapla’, Sa’ broqoS!

    They rounded a corner. Orion disruptors scored on Brokosh’s shields as he, Ila’kshath, and the Klingon kid he’d brought along as backup charged in. The Lethean pulsed out with his mind, trying to secure a target, while the Gorn opted to just charge into the Orions’ makeshift barricade. One of the unfortunate duo screamed as he was hauled one-handed into the air and smashed against a wall hard enough to shatter his ribcage and spine; the other took a headshot from the kid by Brokosh’s side.

    “Good shot, Kevtek. Keep moving.”

    “Sir.” The Klingon kept a smart pace next to the General as they jogged up the corridor, Ila’kshath throwing the dead Orion aside.

    “Two around the corner. Hold here.” Brokosh pulled out a flashbang and bounced it off a wall and around the offending corner. There was a pop, a flash, and guttural cursing. Brokosh and Kevtek ducked around the corner and sprayed green fire down the corridor, ripping through the Orions’ shields and armor like suet. Brokosh struck out with his mind and one collapsed, blood leaking from his nose as the Lethean overloaded his brain. Kevtek kicked the other in the chest, caving in his ribcage.

    “Clear! Move up!”

    Ila’kshath moved ahead as Brokosh motioned, and Lethean and Klingon falling into step on her flanks. “All clear down this hall, we need to take the lift and get down a deck without getting killed,” Brokosh said. “Next deck’s gonna be rough.”
    * * *

    “Fall back! Fall—glck!” A muscular Orion man fell with a knife in the back of his neck. A massive Nausicaan in heavy metallic armor yanked the weapon out as he passed, wiped it on his undershirt, and passed it back to the petite armored Orion woman trotting by his side.

    “Here, Green.”

    “Thanks, ugly.” Meromi Riyal slid the weapon back into its sheath. “Check him?”

    Norigom shook his head. “No need.”

    “Alright. Flashbang on the corner.”

    “You got it, boss.” The Nausicaan tossed a grenade down the corridor, and he, the Orion, and the Ferasan merc behind them averted their eyes. The grenade popped, and the trio turned back, weapons raised. No shouts of alarm. Norigom’s mandibles flexed. “Dumbasses don’t have guard posts set up right. Unless they’re hiding behind supports.”

    Meromi shook her head. “That wouldn’t fit standard Syndicate procedures. They either didn’t have time, or… No, more likely the other boarding parties intercepted some of the scum before they could get to positions.”

    “We should be so lucky,” the Nausicaan muttered. “Hey, grunt, get up there and clear the way for the lady, just in case. Today’s her special day.”

    “Yes, boss,” the merc confirmed. Meromi shook her head.

    “Special day, Ugly? I don’t feel special.”

    Norigom’s mandibles flexed into a gruesome Nausicaan smile. “Ain’t every day you get to prong someone who pronged you. Back with the clans, that’s not just a good day, it’s a day to get blasted and enjoy it like you just got triplets or you took a really big haul.” He shrugged. “‘Course, the Syndicate probably does things different, being pretty-talkin’ fancy kull an’ all that.”

    “You ugly b*stards get drunk when you get payback, huh?” Meromi considered the idea for a moment. “Then what?”

    Norigom shrugged. “Hit someone. Punch their teeth out, maybe. On a good day, you can start another fight just after you ice the last kull you fought with.” He sighed at fond memories as he slapped a breacher charge on a door and primed the explosive. “Some days I miss hangin’ out with the clans. Good booze, good fightin’.”

    “I don’t know if I’m up for that. Probably figure out what’s next as I go along. But I can definitely get into the f*cking people up part,” she added, snapping a fresh power cell into her disruptor rifle.

    Norigom grinned as he passed Meromi the detonator. “That’s the spirit. This ain’t just a good day, Greenie, it’s a day to kick back and have fun.”

    The door erupted, and the orange fireball’s light pierced Meromi’s faceplate, reflecting off of gleaming white teeth like a miniature sun.
    * * *

    “You got the grenade launcher ready?”

    “Aye, General,” Ila’kshath hissed. “Concussion charges loaded.”

    “Good. Move in three. Two. One.” Brokosh blew the door with a demo charge, and the trio charged. Disruptor fire scored their shields, but the Gorn hit the ground with her knees, throwing up a shower of sparks, and pulled the grenade launcher’s trigger as she emerged from the smoke. Singed Orion bodies went flying, and more green-skinned gangsters cursed and screamed. Brokosh pulled off two potshots, then ducked behind an overturned table as Ila’kshath flipped out her tricorder and set three more Orions on fire.

    The General struck out with his mind, but the Orions felt clouded, hard to target. Probably the Devore tech the assassin had talked about. “Set for stun, verify your targets, do NOT kill Kal’Mor!” Brokosh shouted. Kevtek slapped a barrier field generator onto the floor and powered it up, giving the Gorn cover as she reloaded and gave her shields a chance to recharge. “Ila’kshath, you good?”

    “A little singed, General. Armor’s going to need a little patching up.”

    Brokosh grunted. “As long as you’re in one piece.” He peeked out from cover. The bridge was huge, more palace reception hall than functional working space, with the Captain’s chair more of a throne than anything, ornate and decorative. Five Orions, including a robed female matriarch, were forted up behind a makeshift barricade near the front of the bridge. Hmm. He’d like to have more men to…

    Another breaching charge blew the other door clear off of its hinges. The Lethean grinned. “Perfect timing, Captain.”

    “You started the party without me,” the Orion replied accusingly.

    “Sue me, I’m not a gorram gentleman.” He activated his suit’s external speakers. “Give it up, Kal’Mor! You’re outnumbered, your forces are almost done, and we’ve disabled your self-destruct! You don’t have a chance!”

    “Die in a fire, you backstabbing pig!” Kal’Mor screamed back. “The Empire’s supposed to protect our operations, not sabotage them!”

    “Yeah, well, that was before your assistant caught you, D’ian, and J’mpok conspiring to murder Chancellor Martok,” Brokosh shot back. “Your assassins blew it! We have the recording and we’re going to spread it across the entire Empire!”

    “You Lethean slime! I’ll have your head on my prow and your children as my slaves! I’ll take your entire family and—”

    Norigom sprinted out onto the bridge and threw a grenade in an arcing curveball behind Kal’Mor’s men’s barricade as Meromi leaned out of cover and sprayed a hail of green fire across the Orion position.

    Brokosh was already moving, Kevtek and Ila’kshath right behind. Kevtek tossed a sticky mine underhand, sticking it to the wall above Kal’Mor’s head as the Orion ducked with a shout. The mine pulsed outwards with an electric crackle, and the Orion matriarch’s gun sparked and died. Kal’Mor snarled and pulled out an ornate dagger, the blade flashing towards Brokosh…

    Ila’kshath hit Kal’Mor like a juggernaut. The knife went flying; Kal’Mor was slammed against the wall, eyes going wide as she gasped in pain, then the Gorn lifted her in the air with one hand on the front of her robes. “Target secured, General.”

    “Good work.” Brokosh saw one of the groaning Orions by his feet moving for a dropped gun, and shot him in the head. “Clean up and let’s get out of here. K’Gan, find and free any slaves still aboard, then we blow this thing to atoms and leave.”

    “You worthless scum,” Kal’Mor snarled. “I’ll kill you all! I’ll make you into my handbag, you stinking lizard! I’ll—”

    The Gorn pulled her close and pinned the matriarch to her body, clapping one massive paw over Kal’Mor’s mouth. “You mammals are always so noisy.”
    * * *

    Brig, IKS HoSbatlh.

    Matriarch Enyala Kal’Mor yelped in pain as the armored Nausicaan and oversized Gorn slammed her into a hard metal chair and cuffed her. “How dare you! I am a Matriarch of the House of Kal’Mor! Unhand me at once, or I’ll have your entire families shipped off as sex slaves to the greasiest old Klingon nobles I can find!”

    “No, you won’t,” snapped a cold, incongruously girlish voice. A petite Orion in heavy powered armor, a new model from the House of Martok’s private design bureau, based on Federation MACO armor but with Klingon styling, walked into the interrogation room. “You’re not walking out of here at all, actually.”

    “What?” snarled the Matriarch in confusion. “If this is an interrogation, you’re doing a terrible job of it—”

    “Not your normal interrogation.” The armored Orion tapped her communicator. “All clear. Hormone suppressants are working, I’ll keep an eye and my nose on her.”

    The door hissed open again, and two Letheans, one orange in a cable-knit sweater and one dark brown in a Romulan uniform, stepped in. “Kill the cameras,” ordered the orange one.

    “Already done,” the armored Orion replied.

    “Good. Senior Mindhound, you’re up.”

    “You got it.” The dark Lethean advanced, and Enyala Kal’Mor cursed, struggling in a futile attempt to break out. “Don’t struggle, lady, it’ll hurt less if you don’t struggle.”

    “How dare you… no! No, stay away from me! Keep that beast away from…”

    The dark Lethean grabbed her face and shut his eyes. Enyala Kal’Mor’s eyes rolled back in her head and she went limp, limbs spasming. The Gorn and the orange Lethean looked around in slight discomfort. The armored Orion gazed at the richly-garbed matriarch with predatory satisfaction. The Nausicaan just clamped a hand on Kal’Mor’s shoulder and nodded at the armored Orion.

    After about ten minutes, the mindhound withdrew, eyes blinking rapidly. Kal’Mor slumped, groaning, a trickle of blood oozing from her nose. The dark Lethean rubbed his temples; the other one stepped forwards.

    “Well?”

    “I got confirmation on the conspiracy and the assassins, so I targeted her inhibitions, the brain-mouth filter basically. You have at most thirty minutes until she starts to be able to lie properly again, twenty if she’s really well-trained which I think she is. She’s got good barriers, not Undine good but well-trained. Makes sense, for a crime lord. Anyway, D’ian conspired with J’mpok to open a new slave market. He wanted to kick some Federation *ss, chickenhawk cr*p; D’ian was in it for the money and because the treaty made her the unquestioned ruler of the Syndicate. Kal’Mor’s definitely one of her closest lackeys. Plus a sh*tload of dirt. Slavery, racketeering, drugs, the works, sometimes all at once. I didn’t even know you could do some of that sh*t, and I spent a year at a shipyard checkpoint doing immigration inspections.” The dark-scaled Lethean rubbed his temple, breathing heavily.

    “It’s a good thing nobody’s going to miss her, then,” the orange Lethean replied. “Thanks a lot.”

    “No problem. No fee for this, Admiral’s orders.”

    “Understood. If you need a snack, the mess hall’s open.” Brokosh knew from experience that protracted mental struggles could take it out of a telepath, even a seasoned mindhound trained to hunt Undine.

    “Thanks. I’ll take advantage of that.” He left.

    The remaining Lethean nodded to the Gorn. “Start recording, make sure to foul up my voice and lose anything identifying us.” He crouched before the Matriarch’s chair. “Telepath-assisted interrogation, telepath rated Senior Mindhound with IKI Psionic Ops, subject is Enyala Kal’Mor, Matriarch of Kal’Mor Syndicate and suspected traitor to the Klingon Empire. Telepath performed Procedure 110-M as instructed and has left the room. So, Kal’Mor. Did Melani D’ian help J’mpok kill Martok through treachery?”

    It wasn’t an interrogation so much as hearing angry unfiltered spew from Kal’Mor’s mouth, but Brokosh got enough for a convincing case. Kal’Mor started to regain full control of her nerve-shocked brain after about twenty minutes, as predicted, and after twenty-two minutes Brokosh nodded to the Gorn.

    “We’re done here. It’s been nice talking with you, Matriarch.”

    “You’re dead,” snarled Kal’Mor. “You’re a dead man, you hear me?! I’m going to geld you and sell your son to a pedophile! I think I’ll keep your wife for myself, she’ll make a nice—”

    “Oh, I already heard all that about five minutes in,” Brokosh interrupted. “You were pretty angry and your brain-mouth filter was scrambled, remember?” He stood. “Dispose of her.”

    “General,” the other Orion said as the burly Nausicaan behind the chair clamped an armored hand over Kal’Mor’s screams of protest, “allow me to do the honors?”

    “Help yourself, just don’t make a mess.” He turned on his heel and strode out.

    The small Orion turned and drew her pistol. “Hi, I’m Meromi Riyal, daughter of Kelem A’tir and Rani Riyal. You murdered my parents and gave me to the House of Daamaq as a sex slave.” She fired and Kal’Mor slumped in her chair. “Consider us even, b*tch.”

    “Feels good?” asked Norigom, hauling the body up and tossing it over his shoulder like a sack of meat.

    “Tastes like stir-fried racht, Ugly,” Meromi replied, teeth bared into a not-grin. “One more name off my list.”
    Post edited by starswordc on
    "Never underestimate your audience. They're generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment."
    — Lt. Col. Cameron "Shaft" Mitchell, "200", Stargate SG-1
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  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,023 Arc User
    A Matter of Honor (part 3)

    Martok Estate, Ketha Lowlands, Qo’noS.

    “We have everything we need, yes?” D’trel asked. “Corroboration, forensics, anything else?”

    “Grilka and I have called for a special session of the High Council,” Ba’wov said. “All that remains is for Worf to kill him.” Worf whirled in surprise. “What?”

    “I had thought we planned to seek J’mpok’s impeachment and judicial execution, not a challenge,” the mighty warrior growled. “Wait, HoD rIyal, you killed the witness before she could be cross-examined.” Worf’s eyes narrowed as he digested this. “You meant to trap me.”

    “We have to end this quickly, Worf,” Sirella snapped. “A prolonged court battle would distract from the war.”

    Worf gave a mirthless bark of laughter. “Don’t patronize me, Sirella, you only want revenge for Martok and M’ven.”

    “She has a point, though,” the Romulan noted. “A court battle would give legitimacy, but J’mpok’s popularity with the nobles is lower than a sailback’s belly and his strategy’s already cost the Empire massive numbers of ships and soldiers. Our analysts don’t even think that you can continue in the current political state at this rate—the vassal species are making up too much of your military power now.” She ticked each point off of her fingers. “With the Iconians capable of striking everywhere, there’s no time for spending three months in deliberations while the Orion hellspawn try to assassinate your faction’s leaders. I don’t like the risk, and both I and my government really don’t like doing this quick and dirty, but… there is little time.”

    “And so it has to be me?” Worf snarled.

    “Worf, you thick-skulled petaQ,” Ba’wov said without venom, “you’re the only candidate among us. Grilka and I are women and I’m married to an alien, Ra’qr and G’sten are in dishonor”—she gestured at the acting heads of Konjah and Torg, who nodded agreement—“Drex tried already and lost, and Noggra’s too old to beat him—no offense.”

    “None taken,” replied Noggra with a dismissive wave.

    “What about Ja’rod ?” Worf asked, gesturing at the red-robed general.

    “I am of the House of Duras, brother Worf,” the younger man said quietly. “Despite my many victories for the Empire you know as well as I do what that means. And I am stained twice over by the sins of my adoptive father. Worf, you are the only one among us who can both defeat J’mpok and has reputation enough to bring the High Council to heel afterward.”

    “I do not want it!” Worf protested, turning to the window, his face lit by the setting sun. “I never wanted it!”

    “And that makes you the finest candidate possible!” Noggra argued. “For too long the Empire has been without a leader with integrity and the wisdom to know when to talk and when to fight! Martok tried but the office changed him: his heavy hand to J’mpok started us on this road and now we pay for it!”

    “Watch your tongue, old man!” Drex interrupted. “My father—”

    “Shut it, kid,” Brokosh said tiredly. “Worf, the Empire will die. If Imperial soldiers keep acting like the ones I saw at Qo’noS and Dinasia, we will all f*cking die, you got me? We can’t hold the Iconians as it is for Goddess’ sake! Damn it, man, you did it once before, you can do it again!”

    Worf lowered his gaze and sighed. “The Empire is so divided that what you ask could lead to a civil war we cannot afford. Now I know how Martok felt before Gowron: I do not wish to raise a hand to the chancellor in time of war.”

    “Even to save the Empire, husband of mine?” Grilka said. “Your friends in the Federation? Yourself? Our son? Our daughter?” Worf whirled in surprise and she nodded. “I’m two months along, I found out this morning.”

    Worf stood there silently for a long moment, then finally raised his head. “Ja’rod, my brother, will you stand beside me in the Council as cha’DIch?”

    Brokosh sagged in relief as Ja’rod nodded proudly. “It would be my honor.”
    * * *

    Klingon High Council Chambers.

    A bailiff banged the haft of his forcepike on the granite floor. “This special session of the High Council of the Klingon Empire shall come to or-der!” a rather rotund, balding herald bellowed, his voice echoing across the cavernous hall. “Hail to His Excellency, J’mpok, son of Ch’rog, Lord of the House of J’mpok, Chancellor of the High Council! Scourge of the Gorn! Ruler of the Hromi Cluster!”

    “I thought we lost the invasion of the Hromi Cluster,” Brokosh muttered to Ba’wov, who elbowed him.

    “Thank you, Brakor,” the chancellor said to his herald, who bowed and stepped off the dais. “This session has been called by Lady Ba’wov of the House of Chel’tok and Lady Grilka of the House of Grilka. You may… speak your mind.”

    The two women stood and strode into the center of the room. “Honored Councillors,” Ba’wov began, “we bring to your attention a matter critical to the honor and the survival of the Empire.”

    “Our Empire stands at a tipping point in a galaxy that now changes faster than the seasons,” Grilka continued, “and we must decide here and now whether we will face these chances as Klingons, with true batlh, or be destroyed by war from without… and treachery from within.” She paused just long enough to let murmurs start in the crowd. “I call forth Worf, son of Mogh, ghIntaq to Drex, son of Martok and Lord of the House of Martok, to speak on our behalf.”

    Worf and Ja’rod walked out onto the floor and locked eyes with the chancellor. “J’mpok, son of Ch’rog!” Worf roared without preamble. “Before these witnesses I accuse you of the murder of Martok, son of Urthog, and of collusion with Melani D’ian of the Orion Syndicate to seize the chancellorship! You have dishonored the Empire and yourself!”

    J’mpok’s mouth opened and closed several times but no sound came out. The Syndicate’s representative looked from J’mpok to Worf and back again, then leapt from his seat and rushed for the great doors. Meromi’s foot snapped out and the overweight man tripped, flying headlong into the closed doors and crumpling dazedly to the ground, blood dripping from a split scalp. “I’ve wanted to do that for years,” the small woman commented as Drex hauled the green man up with a daqtagh held to his throat.

    The commotion seemed to have snapped J’mpok out of his stupor. “This is ridiculous!”

    “Then why did Representative Baras run?” queried Councillor B’Oraq of the House of Ozhpri. An interesting corner for the first doubts to come from, Worf noted to himself: B’Oraq had been in J’mpok’s corner from the first hour of his reign.

    Beside him, Ja’rod spoke over the murmuring that had begun in the Council and the gallery. “We submit into evidence a recorded statement from Matriarch Enyala Kal’Mor retrieved under telepath-assisted interrogation, and a forensic pathology report from the Surgeon General of Starfleet, Admiral Beverly Crusher-Picard. This will show both traces of the pheromones of an Orion matron, and more importantly that the lethal head wound could only have been delivered from behind, not from the front as J’mpok and B’Vat claimed at the time. All other wounds to the front were delivered post-mortem to disguise this dishonorable attack unworthy of a Klingon warrior.”

    J’mpok’s face went from an astonished gape to a derisive smirk. “Bah! That is your evidence? Analysis of a skeleton seventeen years later, by a Federation scientist?” He roared with laughter. “I deny all! And I hereby command you, and your issue—” he shot a look at Grilka and their son K’Dhan “—be discommendated once again, Worf, son of Mogh! And let it be permanent this time!”

    “The House of Maang rejects discommendation!” Councillor Ton shouted, and J’mpok’s head whipped to the right as more voices began to call for rejection. “All know the honor of Worf, his devotion to the Empire even as an officer of Starfleet! He would not knowingly make a false accusation of this magnitude!”

    “Or is there another explanation?” Councillor-General Ch’zog added, his ceremonial robe weighed down with a lifetime of honors. “For all also know of the prowess of Worf, he who slew Duras and Gowron!” The gallery cheered in agreement. “He who twice survived Dominion captivity, and fought twenty Jem’Hadar alone and unarmed for the honor of the Empire! He whose courage was so great that a Jem’Hadar First surrendered rather than face him! He who dared board the Narada to take Nero’s head!”

    “He failed to take Nero’s head!” Da’qir, son of B’Vat protested.

    “Nevertheless, he fought with all of his strength, and was only stopped by the monstrosity of Nero’s ship, for Nero feared Worf too much to face him in honorable battle! When even the most powerful of foes fears the son of Mogh for his skill in battle—Is that not the heart of a warrior?!” By now the gallery was cheering; even Brokosh and Norigom had joined in. “Could it be that Chancellor J’mpok fears Worf?” Ch’zog continued. “Fears that he cannot win!”

    “As chancellor, and as a warrior, I will have your head for that, old man!” J’mpok snarled.

    Ch’zog’s response was a booming belly laugh. “Bah-hahaha! You are no warrior! You can say that to me when you have personally faced the the Jem’Hadar, the Kinshaya, the Gorn, the Romulans, the Breen, Starfleet! And not in a duel, in real battle!” The piebald dahar master, the last of Kang, Kor, and Koloth’s generation, spat on the ground and the chancellor surged to his feet. “And you can say that to me when you have met Worf’s challenge with your steel!” he added. “For if he fails to take your head I will happily do it for him: I have waited to do so for two decades!”

    At this point the argument was barely audible over the crowd in the hall chanting, “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!”

    “You’re trapped, J’mpok!” Grilka shouted. “You cannot discommendate all of us!”

    J’mpok bellowed at the top of his lungs, “SILENCE!” He threw off his cloak and furiously yanked a yan, a two-handed longsword, from its scabbard by his throne. “I need no cha’DIch! For your insults I will slay you where you stand, Worf!”

    Worf reached out his hand and Brokosh’s big Gorn friend, Ila’kshath, handed him Mogh’s bat’leth. The worn leather grip of his father’s sword was warm in his hand. “You will try.”

    J’mpok roared with rage and charged. Worf strode to meet him, his mighty arms holding his bat’leth with impeccable form in a guard position. The Chancellor opened with a powerful overhand chop, seeking to cut Worf in two. Worf caught the yan on his bat’leth’s blade with a reverberating crash of steel on steel and forced it sideways, sending J’mpok stumbling off-balance. Worf sent a probing slice after his foe, but J’mpok recovered quickly and blocked, then chopped for Worf’s side. Worf countered and disengaged, J’mpok pressing forwards with a snarl of rage.

    J’mpok sent his own probing stab at Worf’s gut, and Worf blocked just in time, swatting the other warrior’s blade aside as he sidestepped. J’mpok pulled back, and the warriors began to circle. The chant was a constant beat in the background now, but to the men before the throne there was only the foe.

    “I will have your head,” snarled J’mpok. “I have taken our Empire from a cowardly lap-dog of the Federation to greatness!”

    “You started an unnecessary war against the Federation and cost our armies many warriors with your foolish charges against the Iconians,” Worf shot back. “Or have you forgotten how they left you for dead in the skies of Qo’noS?”

    J’mpok snarled and struck, Worf parrying swiftly as the yan sought his shoulder. Worf flicked his bat’leth’s lower tine out, seeking J’mpok’s solar plexus, but the other warrior was fast, pulling back and whipping his blade around lightning-fast for Worf’s other arm. Worf took a swift step back, but felt his sleeve rip. Bright Klingon blood wet J’mpok’s blade as the crowd roared.

    J’mpok pressed forward again, but although he had drawn first blood, Worf’s cut was merely a flesh wound. The disemboweling slice was parried, and Worf, big and strong enough to counter J’mpok’s speed, shoved his opponent back. J’mpok recovered quickly, parrying Worf’s next slice as the son of Mogh moved in.

    “I always knew that you wanted the seat,” J’mpok hissed. “Federation-touched traitor, you’ve subverted Ja’rod, allowed jeghpu’wI’ to serve alongside true Klingons—you strike at the root of all that it means to be Klingon!”

    “And you are the man outside the city of Quin’lat, shouting into the wind and demanding that it respect him,” snarled Worf. “You think to throw aside our allies, throw aside good soldiers, and throw ourselves into the faces of the Iconians like targs before a hunt, just as they wish!” He struck, and J’mpok parried, but Worf pushed forwards, the smaller Klingon straining as Worf’s bloodstained shoulder flexed.

    J’mpok pulled back with a snarl, a twist of his blade, and a rapid step, but Worf pursued, parrying J’mpok’s gut stab high past his head and levering his blade across J’mpok’s shoulder. Worf felt the sting of the edge across his temple, then the more solid jar as his steel bit deep, met bone. J’mpok yelled in pain and rage, stumbling back, this time not correcting as fast. Worf’s bat’leth came around again; the yan rose to meet it, but the arm shook as Worf’s blade hit this time, where before it had stood firm.

    Worf allowed J’mpok a moment to breathe, the Chancellor cursing at the pain in his shoulder. “You fight well, J’mpoq Qang,” Worf rumbled, respect in his voice as he wiped the oozing blood from his own wound. “A pity that your heart does not match your skill.”

    “I will show you heart,” J’mpok snarled. “I will show you your own heart, mounted on my sword!” He lunged, yan seeking Worf’s chest. Worf stepped aside and parried again; J’mpok corrected, but Worf’s foot lashed out. J’mpok’s knee was swept out from under him, and he stumbled to the ground; a passing slash from the bat’leth opened a gash in his side. J’mpok grunted, rolled, bringing up his sword, but Worf’s whirling blade caught it between the tines and rammed it into his chest, with the outer point of the bat’leth close behind. J’mpok gasped, eyes going wide as a gout of blood sprayed out.

    “Only… in battle… am I truly… Klingon…” he wheezed, and then his eyes went dark as his head drooped to the side.

    “On that, we are agreed.” Worf planted a boot in J’mpok’s chest and yanked his father’s blade free, then knelt and closed his enemy’s sightless eyes. As he straightened and a gray-green Nausicaan moved up with a medpac, Ch’zog came up behind him with J’mpok’s discarded cloak.

    “Hail Worf,” Ba’wov shouted. “Leader of the Empire! Worf! Worf! Worf!”

    “WORF! WORF! WORF!” the audience agreed.

    “You will accept it this time, will you not?” Ch’zog murmured in his ear.

    “It has been impressed upon me that I have no choice in the matter,” he replied ruefully as the Nausicaan began wiping the gash on his temple with antiseptic. No dermal regenerator was allowed for that wound, but it wasn’t deep.

    “Then wipe your enemy’s blood from your blade and take your throne, son of Mogh.” The old man handed him a rag, then turned and bellowed to the gallery, “Quiet! As head of the House of Qualta, I propose that the dishonor of the House of Mogh be lifted, that Chancellor Worf be named as its head! Do I have a second?”

    “Aye!” Ton and Ja’rod replied a split-second before Ba’wov and Grilka could. Most of the councillors present quickly followed suit, though Worf noted Da’qir and J’mpok’s younger son J’Chek remaining sullenly silent, glaring daggers at him.

    “Thank you, Ch’zog,” he said gratefully. “Brothers! Sisters!” he called as he began to ascend the steps toward the throne. “The Empire will continue its commitment to the deadliest struggle of the age. The Iconians claim to be gods.” He paused for effect, then grinned. “Well, we slew our gods!” The hall echoed with laughter which quickly mutated into cheers.

    “But the Empire has a cancer in its midst. We cannot claim to be honorable if we deny fine warriors the right to claim their destinies, nor can we allow a strike against the Empire to go unanswered.” He glared at the Orion representative Drex was still holding. “For Melani D’ian’s complicity in the murder of Chancellor Martok, I declare the Treaty of Ter’jas Mor null and void! I decree that the Orion Syndicate be dissolved, its ships seized by the Imperial Klingon Defense Forces, and its capital Ter’jas Mor annexed!” The crowd roared in return. “I further decree that any Orion or slave unconnected to the events of fifteen years ago with the courage to fight and the willingness to swear fealty to the Empire and obey its laws shall be granted amnesty! And I call for the permanent and irrevocable abolition of the slave trade! For too long has this disease taken root in our Empire, wasting valuable warriors on revolts and letting the enemies of the Empire operate beneath our gaze. It ends today!”

    The hall was stunned into silence.

    Then the tiny emerald-skinned woman in Klingon armor standing behind Brokosh stepped forward into the open. Meromi Riyal, Captain of IKS HoSbatlh, screamed at the top of her lungs, “Hail Worf! Leader of the Empire!”
    THE END

    The Iconian War concludes in Never Surrender, coming soon.
    "Never underestimate your audience. They're generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment."
    — Lt. Col. Cameron "Shaft" Mitchell, "200", Stargate SG-1
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