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Fan Fiction: The Eri'Luroc Crisis

rhazedurilerhazedurile Member Posts: 73 Arc User
edited February 13 in Fan Creations
Season 1 Episode 1: The Haunted Past

Season 1 Theme: https://youtube.com/watch?v=jeFT3Fh6KFM

((The following episodes take place between 2405 and 2410))
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Captain’s Log Stardate: 81045.9

The USS Ardeen has been assigned to explore ruins on a world near the outer most edges of the border between the Federation and Klingon Empire. Tensions are running high within the Empire, and some in Starfleet believe war is inevitable should Chancellor J’mpok stick to his claim on the Hromi Cluster.

The world we’ve been assigned to investigate, Verbis II, is very near the border of the Hromi Cluster, and Starfleet is worried should hostilities break out, then Verbis II would like be needed as a forward base. In that case, it is important to catalog the ruins of a long forgotten civilization should the Klingons decide to claim it, and pulverize the ruins in favor of troop housing and ship building facilities.

While Starfleet’s mission is exploration, I must confess to no small amount of trepidation of being this close to Klingon space without at least a task force. My first officer, on the other hand, couldn’t be more excited to be here.


Captain Matt Jerrickson finished entering his log and straightened his red uniform tunic. He’d always preferred the more subdued black and grey uniform with departmental color accents from the Dominion War, rather than the latest variant Starfleet was calling the “Sierra uniform”. It was a call back to a time before the Dominion War when Starfleet was an exploration organization. Matt couldn’t argue with being an explorer. It was what drew him into space, after all. Still, his own preference for more uniformity clashed with the more “in your face” color scheme of the Sierra variant. He privately hoped for a return to a more subdued look, and thanked the universe he no longer had to wear the all too form fitting variant that preceded the Sierra. He looked up from his uniform critique as his door chime sounded and called out, “Enter.”

His Betazoid first officer stepped just inside the door to her Captain’s austere quarters. “Captain, we just entered standard orbit. Full surface scans underway.” Commander Kori Udul stood just inside the entrance to her Captain’s quarters with her hands behind her back. Unlike the majority of Betazoids, Udul was...fierce was the best word that always came to Matt’s mind. She kept her raven hair pulled back in a tight updo with a few strands purposefully hanging down to disarm those who thought her too stern. Her obsidian eyes always seemed to TRIBBLE back and forth, looking for the next threat around the corner. Although her presence and empathetic abilities often put some of the crew ill at ease when she was handling discipline, Matt had come to rely on Udul’s precise rigidity to maintain order.

When off duty, or away from the crew, Matt had found a confidant with whom he could discuss concerns or doubts about his command decisions. Her mind was as much of a steel trap as his, and despite some concern from her former COs as being too cold or distant, Matt had seen a kindred spirit when reviewing her record for a new XO after his former First Officer, Rhys Llywarch, was promoted and given command of the Hartford.

“Thank you, Commander. Coming to the Captain’s Mess for dinner with the Command Staff?” He could see her visibly preparing an excuse, so he interjected before she could vocalize it, “We both agreed this helps morale.”

Udul’s jaw worked as Matt saw her fighting back her frustration. “Yes, Captain. It’s just a little overwhelming at times.”

Matt nodded, and tried to soften his tone and his face. He knew Udul didn’t like to use her empathetic abilities unless absolutely necessary. “I know, but the counselor said you needed to engage more. You are the best officer I’ve had the pleasure of serving with, and while your dedication to duty is unmatched, if you want to command a starship one day, you need to connect with people in a meaningful way.”

Udul rolled her eyes in a mocking fashion that she only showed to Matt when they were not in front of the crew. “Fine. Are you sure you didn’t miss your calling as a ship’s counselor?”

Matt chuckled a bit. “Maybe in another life,” he said, stretching out his back, and running his hands through his slightly greying hair. “What’s the status of the Away Teams?”

Udul nodded at the welcome change of topic. “Six teams standing by, sir. I’ve selected the six sites from the survey reports you sent from the Federation Council. Hard to believe no one has been out here since the late twenty-third century.”

Matt shrugged. “There have been a few archaeological teams over the years, but no one has really found too much to be that interesting. We don’t know anything about the civilization that was here, and the surface seems to have been scorched by some type of ancient weaponry. While fascinating, Starfleet wants us to evaluate the planet for a potential base should the Klingons come calling. If we can discover anything while we are here, so much the better, but the priority is securing the area.”

“Understood, Captain. Anything else?”

“I believe we have an Astro-Archaeologist onboard?”

Udul nodded. “Lieutenant Franklin, yes sir. Specialist in ancient cultures, linguistics, anthropology, and geology. He also specialized is meteorological studies, and has extensive survival training for non-temperate climates marching those of the world below. Excellent choice, Captain. I took the liberty of informing him to be prepared for the assignment. “

Matt nodded, impressed with her near instant recall of information about the crew. He knew several Captains would would be put off by a First Officer taking such liberties, but Matt appreciated her minute attention to detail. “Very good. Put him in charge of the survey teams, but don’t let him get too carried away.”

I’ll see to it, Captain,” she said with a curt nod.

“Carry on.”

***

Lieutenant Dexter Franklin grabbed a handful of dirt and let it slip through his fingers as he read the tricorder report then tugged at the collar of his blue tunic, and unzipped it a bit to let out some of the sweltering heat. No matter how many attempts Starfleet made at making uniforms able to withstand the multitude of ecosystems encountered in travels, there was always the one planet that defied those attempts. Verbis II was just such a world.

He tried to focus on his work and less on the punishing afternoon sun. “Whatever happened here, it was thousands of years ago. The trace amounts of radiation in the soil date back around ten thousand years. I’m detecting some elements to suggest there was definitely a thriving ecosystem, and the radiation is definitely not naturally occurring. I concur with other survey teams that whatever happened here was the result of either an industrial accident, or war.”

Commander Kori Udul twirled a dead tree branch in her hand as she looked out over the cliff to the ruins of a long dead city. “Not a natural disaster like an asteroid?”

Franklin shook his head. “No impact craters to match the age or size that would cause this much devastation.”

The arid landscape had a red hue to it that reminded Franklin of the survival training he took on Mars. As an Astro-archaeologist, he loved exploring new ecosystems, but the mission here was not really one of exploration. Starfleet was location scouting in case the Klingons came calling. He found himself staring off into the distance thinking about his and Richard’s daughter just coming of age to join Starfleet, and was eager to follow in her father’s footsteps, but what type of galaxy was she going to serve? A galaxy at war? Or one at peace as he had done after the end of the Dominion War?

“Something, Franklin?” Franklin started at the sound of Commander Udul’s sharp tone.

Commander Udul was standing next to him with an inquisitive look. “Sorry, Commander,” he said wiping the sweat from his dark skinned face. “I guess the heat is getting to me.”

“I see. Why don’t you head to the cooling station and log your findings for the Captain? He’ll want to know about your thoughts on long term exposure to this radiation.”

“Yes, Commander,” Franklin said as he stood slowly and swooned a bit from what would have been a nice bout of heat exhaustion if the Commander hadn’t broken up his thoughts. He nodded his thanks to Commander Udul as she caught him on the arm to steady him. “You think Captain’s right about the Klingons? Will there be war.”

Udul looked back to the ruins, as if she was looking at the future of some other unlucky world. “The Captain has his finger on the pulse of the politics. He likes to be prepared, so let’s make sure we are. You go rest and file your findings. I’ll report to the Captain.”

***

The bridge of the Ardeen had low buzz of activity as reports from all away teams began to come in from various officers. Matt Jerrickson read through various geological and climatological reports. All seemed to support a favorable, if a bit uncomfortable, environment for an outpost. Perhaps some weather control stations from Risa would help calm the temperatures in time, but the Starfleet Corps of Engineers could have climate controlled some up in no time, and in time of war, Matt was sure a modular dome approach would be much more favorable.

“Captain, incoming transmission from Commander Udul.”

Matt sat down his PADD on the arm of his chair. “Put her on, Mister Heghtay.” The image of a clearly very hot and uncomfortable Kori Udul appeared on the main view screen from an angle of him looking into a PADD. “How’s the weather, Commander. Readings say it’s close to 47 C down there.”

“It’s a dry heat, Captain.” Udul’s cheeks were very pink and blotchy from the heat and sun. “Definitely going to need an environment dome if we set up camp here. Not much else to report the other survey teams haven’t already...” Udul looked to the side, and then the image got all blurry and jerky as Matt could see brief glimpses of Kori running. “Franklin!” The PADD hit the ground, and the bridge could only see the sky.

“Commander, what’s going on down there?”

***

Dexter Franklin sat down in the middle of the cooling fans at the away team beam down site and let out a sigh of relief. He didn’t realize how overheated he was. One of the medics, a young Bajoran woman named Dares Fashana, handed him a water pack as she held up a hypo spray. “This will help you with the muscle tension.”

He let out a sigh of relief. “Thanks, Fashana. You and Jack coming to the Captain’s Mess tonight?”

The Bajoran sighed. “Actually, it will likely just be me.”

“Are you two fighting again? Please tell me it wasn’t about...”

“He turned me on to the sport when the Captain invited us to the galley to watch. I went with the underdog, as humans say.”

Dexter shook his head and laughed. “You went with South Carolina, didn’t you?”

She shrugged. “I’m Bajoran. We believe in the underdog winning, and they did. Soundly.”

“You know how passionate Jack is about Clemson.”

“I do,” she said with a nod. “I also know the Captain is a South Carolina fan,” she said with a wink and a smile.

“You know Captain doesn’t play favorites.”

Fashana opened her mouth to speak, but that’s when Dexter’s world went dark and down became up.
Post edited by rhazedurile on
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  • rhazedurilerhazedurile Member Posts: 73 Arc User
    edited February 11
    “Udul to Ardeen! Emergency!”

    Matt swung around in his captain’s chair from a talk with his strategic operations officer, Lieutenant Commander T’Shanip. “Jerrickson here.”

    “We’ve had an incident. A sink hole opened up, and Franklin fell.”

    “Acknowledged,” Matt said curtly. “Is the rest of your team safe?”

    “As far as I can tell, but I’m reading a lot of seismic instability in the area.”

    “Very well. Have all nonessential personnel beam back to the ship immediately. The second you don’t like what you see down there, I’m beaming you back up.” Matt began to call up all sensor reports.

    “Captain, what about Franklin?” There was a slight edge to Udul’s voice.

    “We’re going to bring him back. Meanwhile, carry out your orders.”

    “Aye, Captain.”

    Matt looked over to his Rigelian Chief Science Officer, Suvanar, “Sciences, why didn’t we detect any seismic activity prior to beam down?”

    The Rigelian’s skin darkened slightly in nervousness as his Captain’s gaze fell on him. “There was no sign of seismic activity at team one’s beam down site. By all accounts, that zone has been free of any major geological event for nearly five thousand years, with no fault lines anywhere on scans. Whatever is happening down there, it is not naturally occurring, sir.”

    “Very well,” Matt said satisfied. “Tactical? Any signs of Klingon activity?”

    “Negative, Captain,” the Vulcan strategic operations officer replied immediately. “No other ships in the area, either.”

    Suvanar chimed in again. “Captain, I’m reading a massive power signature directly below team one’s position, approximately one kilometer below the surface. It could be the source of the activity we’re seeing.”

    “Jerrickson to Transporter Room. Bring all teams back to the ship immediately.”

    The bridge was bathed in a blinding white light. When it dissipated, the Captain was gone.

    ***

    Falling. Falling for what seemed like forever in the dark. Dexter Franklin had screamed for the first few moments of his surprise fall, but when he continued to fall, he opened his eyes to see a whole lot of nothing.

    Is this Hell, he wondered for a moment. He wasn’t a spiritual person, but surely the afterlife couldn’t be an eternal pit of darkness where you fall for all time. His thoughts drifted back to his mother, who was ardently spiritual, and was equally as ardently opposed to technology…about as old-fashioned, and stuck in her ways that was as much out of date with modern society, as were her views on his lifestyle.

    Dexter chastised himself for thinking ill of his mother in such a time. They had made peace with each other long ago, and agreed not to force each others views on the other out of respect for their life choices. If this was indeed the afterlife, Dexter was not going to focus on the negative.

    He shook his head in mid fall again. STOP IT, he told himself. He was a scientist. How long had he been falling now? The passage of time was difficult to conceive in complete darkness. He had no frame of reference. He could not see the bottom of the cavern where he fell, and he had been falling long enough to not be able to spot the light from the hole above him.

    Wait…that doesn’t make sense. He can’t have fallen that far, that fast for light to disappear. The logical conclusion was that something was blocking the light completely. If that was true, then it was possible there was another cave-in above him, but that would mean there would be the sound of rocks falling with him, and since there was no sound except for the sound of his breathing, and racing heart, then there was only one other logical conclusion.

    I am not falling. I am being suspended.

    “Well done, child. A most logical conclusion; well-reasoned even in the face of your uncertain fate.” The voice sounded like an organic being with a mechanical voice modulator attached. It was deep and booming.

    Derek started, his legs and arm convulsing involuntarily. “Who’s there? What do you want with me?”

    The non-corporal voice echoed all around him. “My name is Ufiron. I require the use of your corporeal form for a time. It is important I speak with your leaders in a manner with which they will be comfortable.”

    Derek’s lip trembled a bit as fear tried to take hold, but he forced it back down. “Why do you need my body? Can’t you just speak to us as you are with me now?”

    “My apologies,” Ufiron said with genuine regret in his…its voice. “To converse in this manner with one of you takes far too much effort, and I am weary with age. You are young and vigorous. You will be a fine mouthpiece with which to converse with your leaders.”

    “And if I say no?”

    A brief pause. “I wish there was time to discuss it. Unfortunately…after all these eons, time grows short. My apologies for the discomfort you will feel.”

    Pain. Pain in every cell of his body. Dexter’s face froze in a silent scream, and then there was a blinding white light.

    ***

    Matt saw darkness all around him at first. He looked around, but could see nothing. He then felt around for his captain’s chair, or a console, but there was nothing. “Hello,” he called out.

    Then, there was a light in the distance. He could just make out a bipedal humanoid shape suspended in the light. “Hello, can you understand me?” He began to cautiously make his way toward the light, reaching instinctively for his phaser, and grimacing slightly when it was not there.

    As he approached the being in the light, Matt recognized a Starfleet uniform, and then the face of the being in the light. “Franklin! Can you hear me, Lieutenant?”

    Franklin opened his eyes, which were now glowing with an unnatural green light. When he spoke, it was with a deep voice that was not the young human’s usual light-hearted tone. “Welcome, my child. It has been far too long since I was last among you. I had thought you would not be this advanced for at least another half millennia. You are to be commended for your ingenuity.”

    Matt tensed slightly. “What have you done with my crew member?”

    Franklin blinked slowly. “The one known as Dexter Franklin has been removed from this vessel so that I might speak with you, Captain Jerrickson.”

    “Removed? Is he still alive?” Matt took on an aggressive stance. “If you killed him, or caused him any harm, you will not like where our conversation goes next.”

    The being occupying Franklin’s body held up his hand in a placating manner. “Be at peace, child. Your crew member’s essence, his consciousness as you would call it, has been stored here while my consciousness was imprinted on his mind. So long as this facility stands, your crew member lives.”

    Matt frowned as an edge of anger sharpened his tone. “Whoever you are, this world is on the edge of a border dispute between two galactic powers. Franklin is not safe wherever you have put him. Bring him back.”

    “I am aware of the events and growing war between your Federation and the Klingon Empire. That is why we must speak. More is happening than any of you realize. My awakening has alerted your present adversaries as well as those you do not yet see. There is much we must discuss, and I required a mind conditioned for science in order to do what must come next.”

    Matt was nonplussed, and tried to unsuccessfully hide his frustration. “You alerted the Klingons?” He tapped his combadge. “Jerrickson to Ardeen.” No answer. “Ardeen, come in!”

    “They cannot year you, Captain. We are too far beneath the planet’s surface.”

    “You should know I don’t take kindly to being held against my will. My people need to be informed of danger.”

    “I assure you, Captain,” the being said with a measured tone, “your people are safe for the moment.”

    Matt stared at the being inhabiting Franklin’s body. It was clear demands would get nothing out of it, and if this being was telling the truth, and the Klingons were on the way, the only logical choice was to play the being’s game to try and get Franklin back. “Very well,” Matt said, clasping his hands in front of him. “What do we have to discuss?”

    The lights in the rooms suddenly came on and caused Matt to squint. The being in Franklin’s body slowly lowered to the floor of the room, and looked down as he walked. He looked like he was marveling at the use of his legs for the first time. “Bipedal motion is familiar,” he said, “but the center of gravity is different, or perhaps it has been too many millennia since I have walked.”

    Matt looked around the room. He was in a large area that looked like a computer core crossed with a science lab. Above him, a large dome with glowing purple lights in some kind of latticework pattern stretched upward for several hundred meters. White pulsing lights ran up large support columns that seemed to indicate a dual purpose of structure support and data/power transfer to the rest of the dome. He saw no immediate signs of other lifeforms or any obvious form of weaponry. “You said you had to speak with me. What about?”
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    The Franklin-being took a couple more steps toward Matt, and said, “My name is Ufiron. I am one of two surviving members of a long dead race called the Nidari. I have the sad duty to be the harbinger of doom for your galaxy. War is upon you all.”

    “War? You mean the Klingons?”

    Ufiron shook Franklin’s head. “The Klingons, as you call them, are but the opening move of a much larger conflict. The war that comes for you has raged for ages in one form or another.”

    Matt frowned and processed Ufiron’s words. If this was a delaying tactic, he had to be ready to move, but he decided to continue playing along for now. “You said there were two of you. Who is the other?”

    “The other is the destroyer of our civilization, Luroc.” Ufiron used Franklin’s face to show displeasure at speaking the name. “He has been your foe for longer than you know.”

    “How,” Matt pressed, both hoping to learn more and stall for time if this was a trick to allow his crew time to figure out what was going on. If Ufiron was talking, then Matt’s crew was safe for the moment. “There is no mention of Luroc in our history.”

    “Nor would there be…at least in any concept you know,” Ufiron countered as he held up Franklin’s hands to examine them with mild curiosity. “My people have been intertwined with your history almost since you became aware of the concept of history.

    “We walked with the first races to achieve space travel. The Nidari were the next generation of those to follow the dominant races like the Iconians. Over time, we became envious of their power, and sought to become more powerful than them. Our hubris led us to revolt against the Iconians. Our war with them raged for centuries. My people unleashed horrors on the galaxy that would make humanity’s darkest moments look like a fight among children.

    “It was when my people began to eradicate entire species that the Iconians and their allies were left with no other choice but to completely destroy my people.” Ufiron looked up at the large dome above them, which suddenly became a massive holographic projection of his people’s history.

    “We did not start out as a mad race with a single-minded focus to become living gods. Once, we were explorers as you were, but we felt we were limited by the Iconians, so we sought our own interests.” The holographic images coalesced into crowds of beings with light grey skin and large heads. Their eyes were all black, and what Matt guessed were their irises had the same green glow as Franklin’s. The crowd was gathered around something that reminded Matt of an old style rocket early Earth space exploration used in their first tentative steps to the stars.

    Ufiron continued his history lesson. “At the dawn of our Age of Unity, when my people stopped fighting amongst themselves, we sought to explore beyond our world, and share our vision of peace and unity with other life in the galaxy.” The people gathered around the rocket in the holographic image cheered when the rocket launched. “Our first steps were perilous, but eventually we made contact with others.” The image shifted to a Nidari shaking hands with another being that looked to be a distant relation of a reptilian Xindi. “Eventually, servitors of the Iconian Empire introduced us to their masters.” The image changed again to a Nidari kneeling before what Matt guessed was an Iconian. It was much taller, and leaner, than the Nidari, and its skin was of a lighter shade with six eyes.

    “At first, we were in awe of the Iconians, and we submitted to their rule, gladly agreeing to become one of their servitor races in exchange for one day learning their power and joining them amongst the pantheon of evolved species overseeing the continued order of things in the galaxy.” The images next shifted to show a Nidari arguing with an assembly of Iconians and their allies, with the leader of the Iconian assembly dismissing the Nidari.

    “Peace,” Ufiron said, “was not to last, unfortunately. A bold young Nidari named Luroc sought expedite our elevation as a full equal race to the Iconians. At the time, many of our people, including me, agreed with his philosophy. The Iconians kept those they deemed lesser in a servile supplicant role, while bestowing those they deemed as worthy with their technology, similar to your own Prime Directive, Captain.”

    Matt countered with a bit more edge to his voice than intended, “The Prime Directive is a policy of non interference for less developed worlds, not a method of control.”

    Ufiron made a show of acquiescence. “Do not mistake my statement as a judgement on your people. Your Federation does not interfere. The Iconians, however, directly limited others they felt were not ready, and insisted upon societal and cultural change to meet their own requirements. Luroc felt this was a violation of a people’s development. After centuries of service, Luroc spoke to something that festered in all of us. We thought we were ready, and we felt like we were being held back. Ultimately, both my people and the Iconians were at fault for what came next.”

    This time, the images shifted to show a fleet of ships launching from what Matt guessed to be the Nidari home world, and landing on several others. “Luroc led our people on a great crusade after we left the Iconians, vowing revenge against them. At first, we were of little concern to them, but when we began to grow our alliance with other worlds who had been shunned by the Iconians, we created a very real threat to their rule of the galaxy.

    “After centuries of warfare, the galaxy became consumed by two opposing views. We were on the verge of destroying each other. The Nidari were on the verge of victory.” An image of a Nidari stabbing and Iconian bathed the room in red light. Matt’s skepticism changed to curiosity. This was too elaborate a ruse for the Klingons. Matt was witness to an untold period of galactic history. The image shifted again, now with a pale green light, to show Nidari sick and dying in the streets. “But the Iconians has one last weapon at their command. A plague, designed specifically for the Nidari, rendered my people sterile, and began to kill us in vast numbers.

    “Only a small segment of our population was immune to the plague’s deadly effects, but we were kept alive as a warning to others not to challenge the Iconians’ power. Luroc was among those spared. I was not. I was, however, the leading expert in artificial intelligence.”

    “Then, I am speaking to a program,” Matt concluded.

    Ufiron nodded, “Of a sort. I uploaded my thought patterns to the equipment stored here. I have waited for millennia to speak to our children should need arise. That time of need has come. The Children of Luroc have been awakened.”

    “I don’t understand,” Matt said, his curiosity now fully engaged in what he was seeing and hearing. “You spoke of your children. Do you mean the Federation? Who are The Children of Luroc?”

    The image shifted to show what Matt immediately recognized as the surface of the planet where his teams were investigating. The room was now bathed in the amber light of fire, and Matt could see the ruins of the city above set ablaze in an inferno of deadly proportions. Ufiron motioned above to the death of his people. “As I worked feverishly to preserve the knowledge of our people while our society tore itself apart, Luroc rallied what was left of our people on one last terrible crusade. It was only when I saw the scope of his plans that I realized my people’s mistakes.

    “We had become obsessed with winning at any cost, that the cost no longer mattered. Luroc knew our people were doomed, so he sought to create a new, perfect race that could defeat the Iconians once and for all. I, on the other hand, wanted to leave behind our legacy and show what the arrogance of both the Nidari and the Iconians has done to the galaxy. I was a fool to blindly follow a being like Luroc without any thought to the consequences. Those who came after us were our true children, but Luroc wanted revenge.

    “He sought out other, more warlike races, and formed a new alliance from within the Iconian Empire to bring down their society with corruption while he built his true weapon...a race of warriors genetically engineered to become the ultimate weapon against the Iconians, and bred to be the new masters of the galaxy.”

    “The Children of Luroc,” Matt said as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “But what does this have to do with the Klingons?”

    “Luroc sought out many developing races in the galaxy to build his army. Klingons, Dewans, Tholians, Hushnook, Vulcans...all formed the core of his main force, and I fought to counter him at every world, but there was one race he found to be most resilient and pliable for manipulation.” Ufiron held out his hands and looked down at Franklin’s body.

    “Humans,” Matt said with grim realization.

    “Humans,” Ufiron said with an equally grim tone and a sad nod.

    “But why now, after all this time?”

    “That, I do not know,” Ufiron said as he paced back and forth. “I was to be activated only if The Children of Luroc, the Eri’Luroc in my language, ever returned, and Luroc’s army would only awaken if the Iconians returned, but the Iconians were destroyed. Luroc’s revenge was complete. Something must have gone wrong.” The images from above disappeared, leaving them both in subdued lighting.

    “Wait,” Matt said with a growing sense of urgency. “Are you saying this army is about be unleashed on the galaxy? Do the Klingons know about it?”

    “If the Eri’Luroc ever returned, I left outposts at the home world of every race affected to come here and learn the truth. It was my hope to unite the galaxy in common purpose, and that you younger races would have learned from our mistakes after ten thousand years, but perhaps I was a fool to underestimate the fallout from our actions. That is why you are here now. The Eri’Luroc move, and you are unprepared.”

    Matt felt a pang of guilt at Ufiron’s remorse for the state of the galaxy. Despite all the good the Federation has accomplished, the galaxy was still a dangerous place. “The fault is not all yours. We could and should have done better. What can I and my crew do to help?”

    “You must delay the Klingons, and any others who come here. Of all the races and groups I have watched, the Federation is the most ready to face the Eri’Luroc. The Klingons are too warlike, but have promise with their concept of honor, and the Romulans are too fractured from their tragic past. The Federation must lead them in a crusade at a time when you could not be more divided, and you must lead the Federation into this new era, Captain.” Ufiron spoke with absolute certainty.

    “Why me, specifically,” Matt countered. “There are other, far more experienced diplomats who could work with the other governments.”

    “Because, as I said, you are all my children. Now,” he said before Matt could interrupt with more questions, “you don’t have much time. I must make preparations. Your crew member will be returned to you as soon as the immediate crisis is over. I have also taken the liberty of returning your people to your ship, as I will with you. Remember, do not allow the Klingons to breach this facility.”

    Before opened his mouth to object, but there was another blinding flash of white light, and he was suddenly back on the bridge of the Ardeen with Kori Udul staring at him dumbfounded. Not wasting any time, Matt ordered, “Red alert!”
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  • rhazedurilerhazedurile Member Posts: 73 Arc User
    The USS Ardeen’s bridge became an exercise in controlled chaos as reports from all stations flooded the comms while the ship moved into combat readiness. Matt sat down in his chair, and was immediately handed a PADD from his First Officer on the ship’s status showing any major points of concern. He quickly glanced over, made a few quick alterations, and then authorized emergency requests for power allocation to sickbay, weapons and engineering. “Any contacts on the screen, Commander?”
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    Udul nodded. “Showing six Klingon cruisers on long range sensors, Captain, approaching at high warp. ETA one minute.”

    “Comm, raise Starfleet Command and request backup.”

    “Contact established, Captain,” the Andorian Comm Officer responded. She pressed the earpiece in to make sure she heard correctly. “The USS Kirk and USS Hartford acknowledge, and are en route. ETA ten minutes at maximum warp.”

    Matt’s jaw flexed as he gritted his teeth, but responded calmly so as to keep his crew focused. “Very well. Stand by for contact.”

    Udul walked up next to his Captain’s chair, and leaned over to speak in a low whisper. “Captain…what about Franklin?”

    “Not now,” Matt responded. “He’s safer than we are for the moment.”

    Udul nodded with obvious concern in his eyes. “Contact in five, four, three, two, one.”

    “Onscreen,” Matt ordered.

    Four Klingon Birds of Prey, a Vor’cha class, and a Negh’var cruiser appeared as they dropped out of warp. The Andorian Comm Officer announced. “Captain, we are being hailed.”

    “Acknowledge, Vara.” Lieutenant Vara pressed the command to acknowledge the hail.

    The Ardeen’s view screen was filled with the imposing presence of a Klingon sitting in his command salon, flanked on both sides by his pet Targs. The bridge was dimly lit in the subdued red lighting preferred by Klingons. “Starfleet vessel, I am General Mev’tok son of Ma’Var and leader of the House of Mev’tok. You are in violation of Klingon territory. This planet is ours. Withdraw, or be destroyed!”
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    Matt laced his fingers in front of him and rested his elbows on the arms of his chair, staring back at Mev’tok. He knew the response to the Klingon’s aggressive stance was as much a judgement of character as it was an introduction to satisfy honor. “General Mev’tok, son of Ma’Var, I am Captain Matthew Jerrickson of the starship Ardeen. There will be no withdrawal. This is Federation territory. If your purpose here is to seek honor in glorious combat, I find your approach to be the act of a coward.”

    Mev’tok slammed his fist on his chair and stood pointing his finger at Matt. “You insolent petaQ! I will cut out your heart!”

    Matt remained seated, remembering his lessons on Klingon culture at the Academy, and ignoring the look of abject shock on his First Officer’s face. “You approach me with six ships, and I’m sure you’ve already detected the two ships on long range. You outnumber me two to one. Is this the glorious victory you seek…a victory without challenge? What songs will they sing of you for that?”

    Mev’tok sneered at Matt on the screen. “That sounds like a challenge, Starfleet.”

    Remaining seated, Matt said calmly, “And if it is, and you are victorious, you will have the honor of killing a Starfleet Captain in hand-to-hand combat. If I win, you will have died a warrior’s death, worthy of song. You will be greeted at the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor by Kahless himself.”

    Mev’tok was obviously fighting back a smile, and Matt could almost make out a look of surprised admiration in the Klingon’s eyes. “You speak like a Klingon Warrior, Captain Jerrickson.” Matt noted Mev’tok was using his title and last name; a show of increased respect. “However, we shall see if you are truly worthy. Order your reinforcements to stand down, and I will order my ships to the edge of this system. You will beam to the planet’s surface at a location of your choosing. I will meet you there in one hour. I will grant you the honor of a warrior’s death there.”

    “Agreed, General. One hour. Lieutenant Vara, order the Kirk and the Hartford to hold their position at the edge of the system, and do not engage.” He waited for a nod from Vara, before turning back to Mev’tok. “Your move, General.”

    This time, Mev’tok could not help but smile. He turned over his shoulder, and shouting, “rInDI' Qu'lIj Hoch Duj HeH pat!”

    Udul looked at the main sensors, and said with no small amount of surprise, “They are withdrawing.”

    Mev’tok was smiling on the view screen. “If you seek to trick me, Captain, know that I will drag the hull of your ship to Qo’Nos, and splay the bodies of your crew before your head on a pike.”

    Matt nodded. “No tricks. You have my word. One hour, General. Qapla’!”

    Mev’tok nodded curtly, and betrayed his own surprise at how Matt was addressing him. “Qapla’!” The transmission ended.

    Udul was the first to speak. “Captain, with respect, what are you up to? Even with only the Klingon command ship, we’re still heavily outmatched by a Negh’Var cruiser.”

    Matt stood up from his chair. “That we are, which is why I don’t have us in ship-to-ship combat. This way, there is only one person from the ship in immediate danger.”

    “That would be the ship’s commander, Captain. The regulations…”

    Matt shot him a look. “You’re not really going to quote regulations, are you, Kori?”

    Udul frowned, seeking to surrender to the idea that her Captain was committed to this. “No, sir…but why all the show of bravado?”

    “Because,” Matt said as he bent over to the console on his chair, and made sure to make a note in the ship’s log about handing over command of the Ardeen. “I have to delay the Klingons as long as I can.”

    “Why,” Udul demanded.

    Matt sighed as the events of the past few moments were still buzzing in his head. “Long story short…we woke something up here, and that’s what’s drawn the Klingons, and apparently several others. Whatever it is, it’s very old, and apparently very dangerous. I spoke to some type of being down there, and I believe what I heard from him. Part of that involves delaying the Klingons as long as possible.

    “Now, the ship is yours. Do not make any provocative moves, and no matter what happens down there, do not respond to any move by the Klingons unless they make the first aggressive action…if they do, stay in the fight as long as you can, but don’t risk the ship. Clear?”

    Udul nodded as Matt walked back to the turbolift. He paused a moment, and looked back to the bridge and crew, who were all watching him. He smiled at them, hoping it would not be the last time he did so, and said, “As you were.”

    ***

    About fifteen minutes later, the door chime to Matt’s quarters sounded. “Come in, Kori,” Matt called back.

    His First Officer strode in and said, “You knew this conversation was going to happen.”

    “And you know what I’m going to say,” Matt said as he slung a sword over his heavily padded excursion outfit with a makeshift sheath. “So, why don’t we skip to the part where we both know I have to go down there?”

    Udul wrinkled her nose at the sword. “A sword, sir? You’re going to fight him with a sword? A bit overly dramatic, don’t you think? Why not pistols at dawn?”

    Matt chuckled slightly and unslung the sword with its serrated edge from his back to hold it out for her inspection. “It’s not just any sword. This sword has a history with that Klingon in particular. I saved my Captain’s life with it on my very first cadet cruise. We ran into a Nausican pirate nest while mapping a star cluster. They took out our shields and boarded us before I could get up from my station in Astrometrics. I fought my way to the bridge and took this sword from their Captain just as he was about to behead Captain Toddman. Then we were able to repel the Nausicans, and fought off their ship.”
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    Udul looked at him with skepticism. “You repelled a Nausican attack...with a sword.”

    Matt smiled and rubbed the back of his head. “Well, when you say it like that, it does sound like a fish story.”

    “Fish story, sir?”

    “Earth colloquialism. Suffice to say that there were several other events that took place to repel the attack.” He held out his hand for the sword. “After the attack, Captain Toddman presented me with the sword. He said I represented the finest of Starfleet, and would be asking for my posting to his ship. This ship, in fact. I’ve kept this sword with me ever since.”

    “Matt,” Udul said, a rare break I protocol to let her commanding officer know she was speaking as his friend now, and was trying to break him from his reverie, “I looked this Klingon up in the archives. He’s no joke. He fought with General Martok in the Battle of Deep Space Nine, and led one of the boarding parties. He was particularly vicious, and his record from the Dominion War…he took trophies from the Jem Hadar. I don’t see what this sword, however sentimental it might be, has to do with our present situation, and why it has to be you down there.”

    “I know who he is, Kori.” Matt placed his hand on Udul’s shoulder. “I’ve seen his tactics first hand as a very young Ensign on Deep Space Nine. He broke four of my ribs, a shoulder blade, and was about to end my short career in Starfleet with a bat’leth in my heart, but thanks to the station’s security chief, I was dragged to the rear, but not before I killed four of Mev’tok’s warriors, and gave him a wound to remember with this.” He held up the sword before slinging over his shoulder in the sheath.

    “You were on Deep Space Nine during the Klingon attack,” Udul asked with a tone of mild surprise.

    “Wrong place at the wrong time,” Matt replied with a lopsided grin. “I was in mid transit from Academy graduation to the Ardeen, as Captain Toddman promised. The Constable said I was being ‘conscripted’, as I recall. I still remember waking up in my quarters, and grabbing this very sword even as the boarding parties swarmed.”

    “Ah…I see,” Udul said with the plan finally coming together. “Then the more of a show you make…”

    “The longer I give us, and our friend below to do whatever he’s going to do,” Matt finished his sentence.

    “Any idea what that might be?”

    Matt winced. “The being was a bit vague on that part.”

    “Did he tell you how long to stall?”

    “Not exactly,” Matt said.

    “This is a horrible plan,” Udul deadpanned.

    “No arguments there, but at least we’re not being towed to the Klingon home world as trophies...yet, anyway.”
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  • rhazedurilerhazedurile Member Posts: 73 Arc User
    Matt let out a breath of surprise at the heat on the planet as soon as he materialized on the surface. The away team reports were definitely not exaggerating the high temperatures. Thankfully, he didn’t have to bake for long as his opponent materialized a few meters away.

    General Mev’tok smiled at Matt and chuckled when he saw the sword strapped to his back. He held his bat’leth cradled in his arms in front of him. “You surprise me again, Captain. I have met only one other Starfleet officer who understood our ways. Ambassador Worf would be proud. I would have expected you to try and talk your way out of this.”
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    Matt drew his sword slowly, to let the General know combat had not yet begun. “You have accepted the challenge I have made. It would be dishonorable for me to not follow protocol.”
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    Mev’tok growled slightly as he moved into a combat stance. “You know this is to the death?”

    Matt drew the sword’s hilt close to his chest, and held the blade high. “I do, General. This is not the first time you have faced this blade.”

    Mev’tok narrowed his eyes, as vague recognition glimmered behind his eyes. “We have met in battle before?”

    Matt nodded. “On Deep Space Nine. You were leading your warriors through the docking ring. You faced a young Ensign with this sword. It gave you the wound you now conceal in your side.”

    Mev’tok moved a hand to his right side, and muttered, “The old wound. So, it is revenge you seek.”

    “No, General,” Matt said, stalling for as much time as he could. “I seek satisfaction for my honor.”

    Mev’tok nodded. “If you fought me with nothing but that weapon, your honor is satisfied.” For the briefest of moments, Matt thought he saw a glimmer of concern in the General’s eyes.

    “No. You did not kill me. You said I was not worth the effort after you shattered my body, and left me on the deck. I was not able to fight for the Federation after that for months.”

    Matt was surprised to see that Mev’tok nodded in agreement. “I was a much younger warrior then. Inexperienced, and overconfident. Your claim is honorable. If I kill you, I will treat you as a true Klingon warrior, and herald you to Sto'Vo'Kor.”

    Matt knew he was running out of moves. He hoped whatever Ufiron was going to do, it would be before Matt had to face the Klingon in a fight to the death. “And if I kill you, your forces will leave this place.”

    “Agreed, though I cannot guarantee the High Council won’t send more ships. Now, prepare yourself! Battle begins!”

    The Klingon charged Matt with a ferocity that belied the General’s advanced age. The Klingon bat’leth had a clear advantage against Matt’s sword in that if they locked blades, Mev’tok could easily snap the sword with a quick twist. To counter, Matt adopted a tactic of quick strikes, and fast movements that forced Mev’tok to keep his old wound exposed.

    Mev’tok May have been an old warrior, but he was still a more experienced hand to hand fighter who had survived this long with his injury. Matt knew he was trying to make him go for the injured side, and become overconfident.

    After another series of blows, Mev’tok backed away from the fight, and began to move to his side, seeking ground for advantage. Matt kept him in direct sight, seeking not advantage, but equal ground to keep them stalled. Mev’tok laughed. “You fight welll, Captain. Had you been born Klingon, the Empire would do well to have you.”

    Matt nodded, trying to keep him talking. “You honor me, General, but if I was Klingon, who would be a worthy adversary for you?”

    Mev’tok let out a roar of a laugh. “All too true! It is a shame I have to kill you. In another life, I would call you friend!”

    Matt gave him a lopsided smile as sweat beaded on his forehead. “The battle is not yours to claim yet!”

    “I hope the heat isn’t too much for you,” Mev’tok said as he chuckled.

    “Just like a Summer’s day in South Carolina.”

    Mev’tok charged again. Matt braced braced himself for the oncoming onslaught with the warrior, and he knew, despite his boasts to Mev’tok, that the heat of the planet was quickly sapping his strength. Even with having nearly thirty years more on his life than Matt, a Klingon warrior of such skill, rumored to be in line for Dahar Master, would ultimately best him.

    Mev’tok took a step and sprung into the air with fleeting grace that should have been impossible for his bulk and age, his bat’leth held above his head in one hand, and a dak’tang in the other, having appeared from behind a hidden sheath on his back. It was strange, Matt thought, how events slowed down in the moments before death. He’d heard that events from one’s past passed before their eyes in the moment before they died, but it seemed Matt’s final sight would be the almost comical sight of Mev’tok suspended in mid air for all eternity.

    Then, Matt blinked. The moment had stretched to nearly a full minute. He looked around, and saw that even the dust from the breeze was frozen in the air. “What…” he began, but was interrupted.

    Suddenly, Ufiron was there beside him, still in Franklin’s body. “Time,” he said, “is a rather difficult thing to master, but my people became very prolific at it in our war with the Iconians.”

    “What have you done,” Matt demanded, as he realized how much his adrenaline was driving him during the fight. Now, he felt every muscle ache, and bent over to gulp in the warm air.

    Ufiron looked around, observing his surroundings. “We are in between heartbeats for you. I have enveloped us in a small bubble of time where things move a great deal more slowly.”

    Matt looked at Ufiron in confusion. “What? Why?”

    “Isn’t it obvious, Captain?” He pointed at Mev’tok. “You are about to die.”

    Matt shrugged, and nodded, wiping sweat away from his brow. “Yes. If that is what I have to do to save my crew, I will gladly lay down my life, and the lives of the crews on those two other Starfleet ships, and even those Klingons up there. What if my death in combat with Mev’tok is what stops this conflict before it even begins?”

    Ufiron tilted his head to the side, and smiled as a teacher would go a student when patiently explaining a new lesson. “A logical assumption, but no. War between the Federation and Klingons is inevitable at this point. However, if you die here, you will have not fulfilled the purpose for which I selected you. The Eri’Luroc will side with the Klingons, and the Federation will be crushed. Then, when the real war begins, the Klingon Empire will die in what they believe to be a glorious battle, but that will only be the beginning.

    “The Romulans will have no powerful allies to rebuild their civilization. With the Federation and Klingons gone, the other powers in the galaxy will destroy themselves fighting over the scraps of the galaxy, until they too are expended. Then, darkness will fall over the galaxy, and will be consumed by Luroc and his followers as he leads his last war on the Iconians.”

    “But the Iconians are dead,” Matt countered. “Their civilization collapsed. Iconia is a graveyard. You said yourself they were destroyed.”

    “No,” Ufiron said with finality. “While you have delayed the Klingons, I have searched for any sign of our ancient enemy. The Iconians are not dead. They only slumber, and when they awaken, a nightmare will descend upon you as Luroc burns the galaxy to destroy them. In order to stop that nightmare, you must live, the Federation must live, and the Klingon Empire must live.” Ufiron then stared at Matt a long moment before his gaze turned to Mev’tok.

    Matt realized what was left unsaid. “You brought me here to kill him.”

    “A Starfleet officer, who acts as a warrior, and kills a Klingon Warrior in honorable combat will not stop the coming war, but the Klingons will remember you honoring their traditions, and you will have earned their respect if you act accordingly after you kill him.”

    Matt shook his head. “No. I’m not a murderer. I was going to tire him out, and make him yield. There is still honor in that.”

    “Not for a Klingon hoping to become a Dahar Master,” Ufiron said gravely. “If he yields to you in combat, and asks for mercy in a duel to the death, he will dishonor his House. He will not be granted the title of Dahar Master, and the Klingons will come to see you as the one who single-handedly destroyed a Great House.”

    Matt looked back at the suspended form of Mev’tok. “There must be another way. You can manipulate time. Send me back to before all this began, and we can avoid this world altogether. Then, we don’t wake anything up, and the Klingons don’t come here.”

    Ufiron shook his head. “Changing the past always has unforeseen consequences. If you don’t come here, we can’t have this conversation, and then you don’t know about the Eri’Luroc, or the Iconians, until it’s too late. That means the Klingons could discover them, and be even more powerful...powerful enough to crush the Federation.”

    “But aren’t we changing time right now?”

    “No. This is not time travel. This is the extension of a moment into infinity for you, but not for everyone else. If you stay here, then you disappear in front of Mev’tok. Then, he accuses the crew of the Ardeen of trickery. He destroys your ship, and claims this planet. They resulting war, backed with the power of the Eri’Luroc crushes the Federation.”

    “How do you know all this?”

    Ufiron placed his hands behind his back. “As I said, my people became quite proficient with the control of time. I have spent the past ten thousand years looking at the various incarnations and permutations of your fight with this Klingon. In every instance where you do not kill him, the Federation and the Empire falls. Then the Iconians sweep over the galaxy, and the Eri’Luroc rise to fight them in a war of attrition that destroys nearly all life.”

    Matt frowned and looked down at the ground in thought, trying to work out another path that didn’t involve killing. “If I kill him, knowing what I know, then it is premeditated. At least in combat, it is self defense.”

    “It still is,” Ufiron countered. “When this moment between heartbeats is ended, you will have decided. If you accept death, it means the death of your galaxy. If you chose to live and fight, you will be changed, but you will also have a fighting chance. Ready yourself.”

    “Wait!” Matt said with increasing panic. “You can’t make me do this! All life is sacred! Even this Klingon’s!”

    “It is good you believe that,” Ufiron said as he backed away. “Hold to that in the coming days, for death is about to surround you, even if you live.”

    “NO! PLEASE DON’T DO THIS!”

    A scream that seemed to come from the distance drew Matt to turn around to where Mev’tok was starting to move through the air at a snail’s pace at first. He comical pose had turned to one of macabre finality. Matt wanted to just stand there, and embrace his death, but there was something in Ufiron’s tone that made him accept the awful, inevitable truth.

    Mev’tok’s scream grew louder. Matt looked at his opponent, now hopelessly outmatched with Matt’s advantage. Matt aimed his blade at the Klingon’s chest at the final moment as time resumed. He was disgusted at having boasted about the sword’s history to Kori. He was holding on to a younger man’s dreams of glory and heroic deeds. He accepted finality as the tip of the blade pressed against Mev’tok’s chest.

    The surprise on Mev’tok’s face was evident as he landed on Matt’s sword. He stumbled back a couple steps. He dropped his weapons and looked down at the hilt of the sword protruding from his chest that Matt had released as the General stumbled back. He actually smiled as he looked back up at Matt, who did his best to hide the wrenching bile trying to work its way up.

    Mev’tok took several strained breaths before falling to his knees. He was still smiling up at Matt. “This…is a glorious death, Captain. It is an honor to die at the hands of such a warrior as you.” He held out his hand to Matt, who grasped it firmly. No matter how much this sickened him, Matt had to see this through, and he knew it. Mev’tok coughed up pink blood that stained Matt’s outfit. “You may wear the uniform of Starfleet, but your heart…is Klingon. I would have considered it a great honor…to call you…friend.”

    Mev’tok slumped over and fell on his back, staring up at the sky, still struggling with his last breaths. Matt heard the whine of the transporters, and looked to see both his command officers, and Mev’tok’s command officers beaming down. The General made a gasping sound, and Matt knew the moment had come. He knelt over Mev’tok and held his eyes open, looking into them to see the last bit of life leave him.

    As the last breath left Mev’tok, Matt pulled the sword from the warrior’s chest, and set it aside, leaning over Mev’tok to hold his eyes open while staring into them at the moment of death. He began a low rumble deep in his throat, and then looked to the heavens, letting out the roar of a warrior to warn the dead that a Klingon warrior was about to arrive at the gates of Sto’Vo'Kor.

    The silence that followed, and the stunned looks on the Klingon’s faces, as well as those of Matt’s own crew, showed the immense gravity of the moment. A Starfleet Officer had just defeated a Klingon, and treated that Klingon with the respect of a death ritual. Klingons had been known to perform the ritual for non-Klingons when they proved worthy of respect, but never had a non-Klingon performed the ritual for a Klingon.

    Mev’tok’s first officer started to approach Matt, and then held up his hand to his fellow officers to not follow. Matt saw this, and then held up his hand to Kori when he saw her start to make her way toward the scene as well. The Klingon officer walked up to Matt, who stood slowly to face him. The Klingon looked down at the body of his fallen commander, and then back at Matt. “I am T’amuck, son of Mev’tok.”

    “Captain Matthew Jerrickson,” Matt kept his eyes on the son of the Klingon he had just killed. “Your father fought bravely.”

    “I saw, Captain. Whatever force is at work here, allowed us to see the fight on our view screen. You fought well. It was…an honorable death you gave my father, and you did not deny him entrance into Sto’Vo’Kor.”

    Matt kept his calm, but announced clearly. “After such a glorious battle, honoring your traditions was the least I could do.”

    T’amuck lowered his voice. “My father was not one to give respect so easily. That you earned his means you have earned mine. My actions are my own. I cannot stop what is coming between our two peoples, but know this, Captain. Not everyone agrees war with the Federation is right move. You have made an ally in the Empire, but if we meet in battle after this day, I will kill you. That said, if more of you understood the true concept of honor, perhaps there can be true peace between us one day.”

    “I hope that day comes before too many pay the price,” Matt said barely above a whisper. “I would hate to face a new ally on the battlefield. Perhaps one day, the Federation and the Empire will fight side by side again.”

    “Should that day come, I hope I have not killed you in battle,” T’amuck said with a curt nod. He reached down to grab his father’s dak’tang, and handed it to Matt, then claiming his father’s bat’leth for himself. “Let this be a symbol of pride for your House.” He then turned to his crew and announced, “This Starfleet Officer has shown my father great honor. The fight here is over, and we will honor the General’s last command! We will leave this place, and seek victory elsewhere!” He pressed a button on his wrist comm, and the Klingons all vanished in transporter beams.

    Matt let out the breath he had been holding for longer than he’d realized as Kori came up to him. “That was…unorthodox.”

    “To say the least,” Matt agreed. He looked down at the bak’tang in one hand, and his sword in the other. “Not exactly what I signed up for with Starfleet.” His eyes lingered on the body of the General, and his blood on the sword.

    “You alright, Captain? Should we bury him?”

    “I’m fine. What we do with his body is of no importance to the Klingons. It is an empty shell to them. We will respect their customs. As his people would say, let his body remain on his last battlefield as his soul travels to Sto’Vo’Kor.” Suddenly, his insides reminded him of all his injuries. He winced and grabbed his side. “And I think a trip to sickbay would be in order.”

    Kori put Matt’s arm around her neck to support his weight. “Sir, what about Franklin?”

    Some movement to the left of them, and a voice drew their attention. “Captain Jerrickson?” Derek Franklin stumbled into view, looking very bewildered. “Sir, what happened? The last thing I remember is falling into a sinkhole.”

    Matt sighed and gave a silent thanks to Ufiron for keeping his word. “It’s a long story, Lieutenant, but suffice to say, we’re glad to have you back with us. Alright, Commander, let’s go home.”

    “Udul to Ardeen. Beam us up.”
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  • rhazedurilerhazedurile Member Posts: 73 Arc User
    Several days later, Matt was still recovering in his quarters, but doing light duty shifts while the Ardeen maintained patrols around the Verbis system. There had been no more activity at all. The politics of the galaxy continued to spiral out of control. All talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire had ended, and ambassadors had been recalled. Border skirmishes were happening with alarming regularity, and the Hromi Cluster was shaping up to be the flashpoint for all out war. As Matt read the latest reports at his desk in his quarters, he shook his head. His career in Starfleet was born in the fires of the Dominion War. Where others had known peace, however uneasy it was, Matt’s entire career was forged in conflict. He had no desire to return to it.

    His door chime sounded. “Enter.” He squinted as the light from the hallway flooded into his room, and Matt realized that he had been sitting in the dark for hours. “Computer, lights. Low.”

    “I didn’t wake you, I hope,” Udul said.

    “Kori, no. I…uh…was just catching up…” He sighed and ran his hands over his face. “Sorry. I’m still processing.”

    “It wasn’t your fault, Captain.”

    “Maybe,” Matt agreed. Counselor Vren has encouraged me to talk about it.

    Udul stepped in a few more steps to allow the doors to close behind her. “If you need to talk, I’m here as your friend, not your First Officer.”

    Matt stood and walked over to where his sword was laying out on his bed. He picked it up and looked at it. He still hadn’t cleaned the dried blood off. “I killed someone. This wasn’t some distant target. I knew exactly what I was doing, and I drove this sword right through his heart.”

    “You saved the ship, and the crew…as well as the crews of all those other ships getting ready to do battle.”

    “Maybe,” Matt said again. “But for how long? We’re on the verge of war. How is spilling blood going to stop war? Nowhere in history has that ever worked.”

    “Maybe war is inevitable,” Udul allowed, “but if it is, the only way we’re going to end it is by talking. If by killing the General, you have a way to talk to the Klingons, maybe some good will come of it.”

    Matt’s desk terminal chirp with an important message. He walked over with his blood stained sword, and red the message. With a heavy sigh, he said, “I hope you’re right..someday, because the Klingon Empire and the Federation have just formally declared war on each other.”

    ***

    Kori Udul entered her quarters at the end of her shift. The Ardeen was preparing to get underway to Starbase 40. She reached around to the back of her head and undid the clip holding her hair up, running her fingers through her thick raven colored hair, and sighed as the terminal on her desk chirped. She was overdue for a check in.

    She walked around her desk, and sat down, activating the screen. “Udul,” she said simply, staring at the screen.
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    “Report.”

    Kori maintained her stern veneer as she made her report. “As expected, sir, we awoke the ancient being. Starfleet is dispatching science teams, and will construct a Starbase here. Our suspicions are confirmed. The Iconians are returning.”

    “The Klingons?”

    Kori nodded, and proceeded with her report. “Mev’tok is dead by Jerrickson’s hand. War has begun, but the Captain made the impression you desired.”

    “Assessment of Jerrickson?”

    “He performed within expected parameters.”

    The man on the other end of the call lowered his voice to a growl. “Assessment.”

    Kori sighed. “He shows potential, Admiral, but he needs more time. He needs to see the true nature of the galaxy. I think as the war grinds on, he will become more...pliable.”

    The Admiral on her screen smiled, as he laced his fingers in front of his face. He wore the obsidian uniform of Section 31, and his white hair was neatly cropped on the sides and slicked back on top, revealing a sharp widow’s peak. “Very well. We’ll give him more time. Good hunting, Udul. Toddman out.”

    **END EPISODE 1***
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