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New alliances are formed as old enemies fight side by side against an enemy that threatens both the the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets ... from inside as well as outside. Will love and honour triumph over treachery and deceit? Charlotte Kebbell is a mainstay of The Federation / Klingon Rapid Response Fleet, a large and active Role Play Gaming forum and fan fiction community.


THE FEDEATION / KLINGON RAPID RESPONSE FLEET PRESENTS

STAR TREK: DOMINION CHARLOTTE KEBBELL

A Star Trek, fan written work The copyrights & trademarks of Star Trek are owned by Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee Pocket Books.


To read more adventures of the Federation / Klingon Rapid Response Fleet, go to our website at

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This novel is a fan written work and is not intended to infringe upon the copyrights and trademarks of Star Trek which are owned by Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee Pocket Books. It is provided free of charge to Star Trek fans for their enjoyment and to foster an interest in the many fine licensed Star Trek eBooks available from Pocket Books which are listed on their website at www.simonsays.com. Any attempt to sell, rent or otherwise make a profit from this work should be reported to the copyright owners or their licensee for their action. This novel was created by Charlotte Kebbell who reserves the moral right to be identified as the author of all original material in this novel. Produced in eBook format as part of Day Eleven of The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas for 2008 by Kirok of L’Stok. For more information see our homepage at www.twerponline.net/12days2008


STAR TREK: DOMINION

Adapted from the Logs and journals of Krang epetai Inigan

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Chapter 1 Frontera, February 2375

Krang son of Marek of the House of Inigan was enjoying a rare off duty moment with his youngest children when the message came through. Wearing a heavy leather tunic and a pair of Terran jeans, he was sitting on the floor with his little son on his knee. The boy, Meren, named for Krang’s dead brother, had his favourite toy in his tiny fist – a miniature wooden batleth that Krang had carved for him. He was almost three years old now. Two little girls were sitting with him, listening raptly as their father finished the story he was telling. “Now, Kehlan” he asked the younger girl, “Why did Kahless fight his brother?” The child, just five years old, concentrated, thinking about it. “Because he told a lie” she said finally. “And that’s bad?” She nodded solemnly, “That’s very bad.”

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“It’s more than bad” Kara, the elder at six years old, added, “It’s dis – honour – able” Krang smiled at her careful pronunciation of the word. “So, what should Morath have done?” He looked up, his smile becoming broader as his Terragnan wife came into the room, interrupting the lesson. “There’s a message for you from Starfleet Command” Chrissie said, “Admiral Portway wants to talk to you. I think it’s important.” “I’ll take it in the office” Krang said, handing the little boy to his mother and getting to his feet. Heading towards the small room he used when working from home, he mentally reviewed what he knew of the admiral. Isis Portway was Terran, from a small island named England. Promoted to the Admiralty several years ago, there had recently been some trouble. She had been accused of having Maquis sympathies but there hadn’t been enough hard evidence to convict her. Personally Krang suspected the rumours were true. Of course, with the outbreak of the Dominion war, that was water under the bridge – Starfleet couldn’t afford to lose any more of its officers, especially not one so competent. Sitting down at his desk, he activated the viewscreen, and touching a few keys, signalled acceptance of the incoming transmission. The Federation logo flickered and was replaced by the image of a human woman wearing the uniform of a Starfleet Admiral. She looked to be in her late forties with short sandy red hair. “NuqneH?” Krang greeted her, “You must be Admiral Portway”

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She inclined her head, “That’s right. And you are Commander Krang. You’re out of uniform.” “I am off duty at present” Krang informed her, a little stiffly. “As am I.” The admiral sighed, suddenly looking tired. “At least I would be if the situation allowed. I’ll be honest with you Commander, things aren’t looking good.” “What can I do for you?” the Klingon asked gruffly. “We need you here on Earth” Admiral Portway told him, “I want you to attend a conference with the Federation Council – try to convince them of the need to implement stricter security protocols.” “What makes you so sure they’ll take any notice?” Krang said, frowning, “If they won’t listen to you then why should they listen to a mere commander?” “We both know you’re not just a commander” the admiral snapped, “That may be your Federation rank, but I know, you know and they know, exactly what a Klingon Captain of Security really is.” She paused. “If anyone can persuade them, you can. Will you do it?” “It would be my honour” Krang responded. “Good.” The admiral said, a look of relief crossing her face, I’ve already sent Captain Kay’vin of the Hegh’Ta for you. He should reach Frontera some time tomorrow. Be ready to leave immediately he arrives.” “Very well” the Klingon said, “Krang out.” He reached out and cut the connection. He was still sitting staring at the blank screen, mentally making plans, when he heard a commotion in the hallway.

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“TONI, FINA!” he yelled, “Cut down that noise!” Getting up he went to greet his two older children. He was not their natural father. Antonio and Josefina were full Terran, the result of Chrissie’s first marriage, but he was the only father they knew and he loved them as his own. “What are you doing home from school this early?” he asked sternly. “Come on Father” Fina said giggling, “It’s 16:00, we’re always home at this time.” “Except when you have dance class, or sports or batleth practice” Krang retorted, “or any one of a hundred different activities.” “Football got cancelled” Toni informed him, “So we thought we’d come home and be a nuisance.” “That’s nothing new” Krang said, laughing. “Now let’s go and find your mother. I need to talk to you all.” “I’m in the kitchen” Chrissie called and they trooped in to join her, seating themselves around the table, still laughing and joking. “What did the Admiralty want?” Chrissie asked, handing drinks to her children. “Christa, my love,” Krang said to his wife, holding out a hand to her, “Come and sit down.” She did so, a flicker of concern crossing her face – Krang almost never called her by her full name and when he did it usually meant trouble. “You sound serious. What is it? Krang took a deep breath before saying “I leave for Earth in the morning.” There was a stunned silence as he told his family about his conversation with Admiral Portway.

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“Cool!” Typically it was Toni who broke the silence. “Are we coming with you?” Krang shook his head. “You’d miss too much school.” “Oh that’s not fair” the boy protested, “I’ll be thirteen in two weeks, you’ll never be back by then.” “And I’ll be eleven soon” Fina added hopefully. “Please let us come.” “I’ll bring you back something special” the big Klingon promised. “And we can have a celebration when I return.” Chrissie looked at her husband gravely. “Maybe we should come with you” she said, her voice quiet. “No!” Krang insisted, “My decision is final.” Seeing the looks on their faces, he softened a little but did not change his mind. “Earth is at risk from the Jem’Hadar. I want you here on Frontera where it’s safe.” ~~~<>~~~ Kissing his wife one last time, Krang stepped up onto the transporter pad and indicated to the operator that he was ready and moments later he materialised in the transporter room of the IKC Hegh’Ta. Hegh’Ta, the second ship to bear that name, was the first of the new Hunter class of birds-of-prey, developed especially for the Dominion war. At 250m in length it was larger and more powerful than the older classes, although still smaller and more manoeuvrable than the great battle cruisers. It had a crew complement of sixty as well as a detachment of one hundred marines. The ship’s captain, a grizzled warrior named Kay’vin, was waiting for him.

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“Security Captain!” Kay’vin said with a grin, approaching Krang and clapping him on the shoulder, “It’s good to see you again. Welcome on board.” “I wish you wouldn’t call me that” Krang said, frowning, “I’m just a commander – and a Starfleet one at that.” Then, returning Kay’vin’s grin, he continued, “But it’s good to see you too, you old reprobate!” Hitting his combadge, Kay’vin snapped an order to the bridge crew, telling them to get the ship under way, before saying to his guest, “Come on, I’ll show you to your quarters – you can dump your bags there.” And with a sly glance at his old friend, said, “Then, if you haven’t gone soft, I have a barrel of blood-wine waiting in the mess hall.” “If that first officer of yours hasn’t drunk it all yet.” Krang replied, laughing. “Come on then, lead the way.” “Oh, of course. You wouldn’t have heard” Kay’vin said as they walked down the corridor, “Kovak isn’t with us any more. I have a new first officer.” “Tell me about it” Krang invited. “He got into a fight on the Homeworld” Kay’vin told him, “In a brothel, I believe. So, Imperial Command sent me Ch’vok instead, arrogant targ that he is – some High Family brat who thinks he knows it all. I guarantee he won’t be drinking blood-wine – I’m not convinced he even likes gagh!” He snorted his disgust. “If I get lucky, Kargan will try for promotion, and I hope he succeeds!” Turning into another corridor, they came to a halt outside an open door. The guards, one on either side of the door, came stiffly to attention. “At ease!” Kay’vin said, but otherwise ignored them. “Well, this is it” the Klingon

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captain said, standing back to allow Krang to enter his sleeping quarters and then followed him inside. Krang dumped his kit bag on the floor and surveyed the room. It was bare of furnishings other than a clothes locker, a desk containing a computer console, a chair and a hard metal slab for sleeping on. There was no insult here though; this room was no different to those used by the senior officers of the ship. Only the captain’s room would be bigger, and even that would be sparsely furnished. “Well?” The Klingon captain couldn’t resist another dig at his old friend, “Think you can handle it? Or shall I order a feather mattress and some soft cushions?” “That would be nice” Krang said, carefully keeping a straight face. He pulled out his d’k’tahg and inspected it before growling, “But if you insult me again, I’ll kill you where you stand.” “You probably could at that!” Kay’vin said with a burst of laughter, waving back the concerned security guards, who had just come rushing in, believing their captain to be in danger. “I don’t kid myself I could beat you in a fight. Now, how about we go and get that bloodwine!” And arm in arm the two men headed off towards the mess hall, bickering all the way. The senior crew were already in the hall, and from the look of things, the captain’s barrel of blood-wine was already half empty. Krang looked around the hall, hoping to see Kay’vin’s science officer there. Kehlan had been a friend of his family for a long time, ever since she had attended a scientific conference on Frontera. His wife, heavily pregnant at the time, had been kidnapped and Kehlan, along with Kay’vin, had been instrumental in

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helping him find and rescue her. As a result they had named their daughter for her. Seeing her, he gave a broad smile and rushed over to her, enveloping her in a bear-hug and swinging her off her feet, before kissing her cheek and putting her down again. It was a distinctly un-Klingon greeting but Kehlan was half Terragnan and he knew she would understand. His arm draped companionably across her shoulders, he turned to greet the other officers, most of whom he had met before, although he didn’t know them well. As they returned his greeting, he became aware of someone who could only be the new first officer, and sure enough as the captain had suggested, he was not drinking the blood-wine. The stranger was staring at Krang and Kehlan in a way that Krang found slightly offensive. “I can see that you two at least, know each other” the man said, a note of sly enjoyment in his voice. Sensing Kehlan’s anger at the first officer’s insinuations, he tightened his grip on her shoulder. She was more than capable of knocking the smile off Ch’vok’s face, Krang knew, but the arrogant first officer really wasn’t worth the effort. “Ignore him, Kehlan” he muttered to her in a quick aside, “Don’t soil your d’k’tahg on the likes of him.” Then addressing the first officer, he said coolly “You must be Ch’vok. The captain has told me about you.” Sensing the unspoken warning in Krang’s tone, Ch’vok gave an ingratiating smile, “Pleased to meet you Commander, let me get you some blood-wine.”

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Star Trek: Dominion Chapter 2

The flight to Earth would take the Hegh’Ta twelve days at warp six. Two days into the voyage, seated in the Captain’s ready room, Krang and Kay’vin were discussing the mission. Krang was unsurprised to find that Kay’vin believed it was a waste of time. “We are Klingon warriors - we should be out fighting the Dominion” Kay’vin said, his voice rising to a roar, “Not sitting around a desk, talking and doing nothing like some cowardly petaQ!” “You’ll get your chance” Krang said, his tone showing his certainty, “There’s still plenty of fighting for us to do.” “You’re an optimist” Kay’vin snorted, “We could be in glorious battle, but instead, what do we get? More useless meetings.” “This meeting is important” Krang said, “The Federation Council must be made to understand the seriousness of the situation. There are some good warriors in Starfleet if only the Council would allow them to act appropriately.” Kay’vin scowled, suddenly serious, “I hope you can make a difference.” “So do I” Krang said quietly, “So do I!” ~~~<>~~~ Captain Kay’vin and his guest were once again sitting in the Captain’s ready room, sharing a bottle of warnog as they talked. “Damn Kovak for getting himself killed” Kay’vin swore, taking a mouthful of his drink as he spoke. “If he weren’t already dead, I’d kill him for deserting me like that.”

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“He was a good officer” Krang commented, “Even if he did drink a bit too much. What in Kahless’ name made you pick Ch’vok as his successor?” “Pick Ch’vok?” Kay’vin said, staring at his friend incredulously. “Is that what you think? I didn’t pick him, he got foisted on me by Imperial Command. I wanted to promote Kargan but they said he was too young and ordered me to take Ch’vok instead.” “Do you think he’s an I.I. agent?” Krang asked thoughtfully. Most Klingon ships did have one on board and the captains rarely knew for definite who it was. The Klingon Empire ran on paranoia and unlike the Federation, kept its officers under routine surveillance. As a former Captain of Security however, Krang knew what to look for and had already found and disabled the monitoring device in Kay’vin’s ready room as well as the one in his own quarters although those in public places such as the bridge and the mess hall, he had left intact. “Ch’vok working for Imperial Intelligence?” Kay’vin replied, actually laughing at the idea, “I doubt it. I mean, when you were in charge, would you have employed him?” “Not a chance” Krang said, shaking his head, “But then, there’s been a lot of changes since my time, and not all of them for the better.” “The man’s useless” Kay’vin said with a frustrated growl. “Then why do you put up with him?” “What’s that saying the Terragnans have?” Kay’vin said, “About giving someone enough rope and they’ll hang themselves. Well so far, he hasn’t quite given me

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enough reason to kill him. He’s still young and inexperienced. He’ll either learn or die.” “He’s no younger than any of your other officers” Krang retorted. “I’d get rid of him if I were you.” “I’m not like you Krang” Kay’vin said, “I’m not from one of the great Houses. Ch’vok comes from one of the most powerful families in the Empire. I can’t afford to start a blood feud that could wipe out my House completely. Until he steps out of line, I’m stuck with him.” Krang nodded, sympathising with the Klingon captain’s dilemma. It was a problem he had come across many times in his career although his own family had been powerful enough that it had never affected him personally. Many good officers had been held back through lack of family connections, while others, less competent, but from powerful families, were promoted to ranks they did not deserve. Kargan reached under his desk and opening a drawer, he pulled out a personal access display device – or padd as it was more commonly called and activated it. “Here, read this” he said, handing it to Krang, “You’ll see what I mean.” Krang carefully read the report Kay’vin had handed him. It had been written some time ago by the first officer and dealt with a minor incident between two lower ranking officers. “I do see what you mean” Krang said eventually, “It’s adequate and no more.” “Exactly” Kay’vin said, “And that’s the problem. He’s adequate and no more.” Seeing the empty glass in the other man’s hand, he indicated the bottle. “Have another drink.”

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~~~<>~~~ Krang entered the mess hall and moved over to the tables, looking to see what was on offer that evening. He was hungry. He had just spent the afternoon reviewing training records with the Hegh’Ta’s security chief and making recommendations for drills and exercises. It wasn’t really his job. Technically he was only a passenger on the ship and had no authority, but Kay’vin, mindful of his vast experience in this area, had been quick to put him to work. The Captain might be a joker at times, but he was good at his job and cared about his crew. Not that the crew would be so happy with all the extra gunnery and targeting drills they had planned. The practice would be good for them though, and might just help to keep them alive when the ship next went into battle. Dominion ships were incredibly powerful and they needed every advantage they could get if they were going to survive, let alone stand a chance of actually winning this war. After a few moments thought, he helped himself to some Bregit lung and a generous portion of gagh before seating himself at the table with the senior officers of the Hegh’Ta. The lower ranks would not eat until later, so the officers had the spacious hall to themselves. This was the life, he thought contentedly as he took a swig of his blood-wine, it had been a long time since he had eaten fresh gagh - Klingon food was hard to obtain on Frontera. It was a pity that it was such a short journey to their destination; they were a week into the voyage now only a few more days and they would arrive, and then there would be all the protocol and meetings – long dreary meetings which would accomplish nothing. Despite the seriousness of the war, the Federation politicians were unlikely to listen to anything the Klingons or the

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Romulans – or for that matter, Starfleet, had to say. Not that he trusted the Romulans himself, but something had to be done to make the politicians listen to the people involved in the fighting or the war would be lost. A burst of uproarious laughter interrupted Krang’s momentary introspection and he shook himself mentally, turning his attention back to the present. Captain Kay’vin started to sing – a comic song about a warrior who wanted to fight but couldn’t find a battle, and taking another mouthful of blood-wine, Krang joined the other officers in the chorus. They were on their third repetition when the comm. system was activated and the duty officer on the bridge reported an emergency transmission. A transport freighter identifying itself as the Orinoco, carrying refugees from the war was under attack by a squadron of Jem’Hadar attack ships and was in need of assistance. The Captain immediately gave the order to change course and increase speed to maximum. Krang sensed the almost subliminal change in intensity of the Hegh’Ta’s warp drive as the vessel began to streak across space at enormous speed, taking them towards the endangered freighter and battle with the Jem’Hadar. ~~~<>~~~ It took the Hegh’Ta a little over an hour at maximum warp to reach the stricken ship. Neatly inserting his ship between the Jem’Hadar and their target, Kay’vin ordered the gunner to begin firing and the battle commenced. “Take over the helm, Kargan” Kay’vin yelled, “Science officer Kehlan, keep track of those ships.” Noone seeing the Klingon captain now, would call him a joker – his good humour completely gone, he was deadly 15


serious. And yet, there was a light in his eyes, that spoke of the fierce joy he felt in battle. The Klingon bird-of-prey was just one ship against four Jem’Hadar vessels and the fighting was intense. The enemy ships were small, only about the size of a B’rel class bird-of-prey, but they were fast, manoeuvrable and heavily armed. Their phased polaron beam weapons were incredibly powerful and a match for even the most advanced shielding technology. Back in 2370, a Federation ship, the USS Odyssey, had encountered a fleet of three Jem’Hadar attack ships. Despite its greater size, the Galaxy class ship had been destroyed. Kay’vin was well aware of this as he formulated his battle plan. Krang joined the gunnery officer at the tactical consoles, expertly operating Hegh’Ta’s huge disruptor canons and sending volley after volley of emerald green fire at the Jem’Hadar ships. The young officer, glad of the assistance, turned his attention to the torpedo launchers, swiftly bringing them on line and firing them at the enemy ships. He was a good shot and all the torpedoes found their targets. “Incoming fire” Kehlan called, “Diverting auxiliary power to the shields.” “Initiating evasive manoeuvres” Kargan responded. “Keep us between the freighter and the Jem’Hadar” Kay’vin shouted. “Protect Orinoco at all costs.” In its efforts to protect the damaged freighter, the Klingon ship was unable to manoeuvre well enough to completely avoid the enemy fire and the polaron beam caught Hegh’Ta across the upper port side of the hull. It was only a glancing blow but it was enough to weaken the shields.

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“Shields down to fifty percent” Kehlan reported, frantically trying to bring them back up to full strength. The Hegh’Ta lurched violently as it was struck by a barrage of torpedoes from the nearest enemy ship and Krang was thrown to the ground. As the ship steadied, he got to his feet, looking around him to survey the damage. It was severe. Sparks arose from the consoles and the acrid smell of smoke filled the air. Captain Kay’vin lay on the deck, a jagged piece of metal protruding from his chest. Instantly Krang was at his side, checking for a pulse, but there was nothing he could do to help the stricken captain, he was already dead. There was no time even for the death ritual – that would have to wait until later. Kay’vin would have to cross the river of blood unannounced. Sto-Vo-Kor would receive no warning of this warrior’s arrival.

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Chapter 3

As the ship lurched again, another console exploded, causing the unlucky officer leaning over it, to scream with pain as his face was burned. The fire suppression system cut in, putting out the flames before they could take hold and spread but several of the control panels on the bridge were now completely unusable. The first officer seemed to be missing and Krang realised that the crew were close to panic with nobody to tell them what to do. Immediately he took control, yelling, “Helm, attack pattern gamma.” And then “Gunner, continue firing.” Pointing towards the nearest enemy ship, he added, “Aim at the upper wing joints, they are vulnerable there.” Moving over to an undamaged console, he began to re-route power, attempting to bring the shields back up to full strength, at the same time continuing to give orders to the crew. Then unexpectedly, Kehlan looked up from the communications console, “Sir, we have an incoming message.”

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“From Orinoco?” Krang asked as a lucky shot hit the Jem’Hadar ship, causing it to explode. “No sir” Kehlan said, a note of surprise in her voice, “It’s from a Federation ship.” Krang barked an order to the helmsman, telling him to change course, then, “Put it through on audio only. I want the enemy kept on screen.” A voice came crackling over the comm. system, speaking Federation standard English, “This is Captain James Mackenzie of the Federation Starship Endeavour. Do you require assistance?” Krang gave a harsh laugh. “There are plenty of enemy ships here for both of us, Captain. You are welcome to join the battle.” Quickly and efficiently changing his battle plan to take advantage of the unexpected ally, he continued “Take an attack vector on heading one-one-two, mark six. Target the ship to starboard and fire on my command.” With the assistance of the Federation starship the battle was quickly over. When a second Jem’Hadar vessel blew up, the remaining ships, realising that they could not win, changed course and retreated. Regretfully, Krang gave the order not to pursue them. They were badly damaged and there was a freighter full of refugees in need of medical and technical help, not to mention protection on the rest of its journey. Bringing the Hegh’Ta to a stop, Krang moved around the bridge, congratulating each of the crew on their performance. They had fought well. But his gaze turned cold as he looked at the first officer’s empty station and asked, “Where is Ch’vok?”

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The officers stared at each other, realising that they had not seen the missing officer for some time. At last, the gunner spoke, admitting he thought he had seen him leaving the bridge just after the captain was killed. “I want him found and arrested” Krang said angrily. “In the meantime, the Freighter has sustained some serious damage. I want an engineering team over there to help them. Endeavour can supply the medics. Kehlan, you speak fluent English - go with them.” ~~~<>~~~ The Federation captain did indeed supply a medical team to the freighter and even sent his head of sickbay, a Vulcan healer named T’lia to assist the Hegh’Ta’s medical officer in the treatment of those Klingons injured in the battle. Captain Mackenzie himself came on board the Klingon ship to meet Krang and discuss the situation. Their meeting was interrupted by the security officer. Koreq called to inform Krang that the missing Ch’vok had been found, hiding in his quarters. “Bring him to the bridge.” Krang decided after thinking for a moment, “Summon the officers. I want everyone assembled there in ten minutes, including those on the away team.” Turning to the Federation officer, he said, “Captain, you are welcome to stay and witness to this if you wish, but you should be warned. I may wear a Starfleet uniform, but this is not the Federation.” Captain Mackenzie shrugged, saying calmly “I know what to expect from Klingon justice.” The two men, Klingon and Terran walked together onto the bridge where the Klingon crew waited. Two

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security men had hold of the disgraced First Officer. At a nod from Krang they released him. Well, Ch’vok” Krang asked harshly, “Have you no explanation for the crew you let down with your cowardice?” “I’m no coward” Ch’vok insisted, “You’re just a passenger on this ship. I’m in charge now the captain’s dead.” “Why did you desert your post?” Krang snapped. “The captain was killed and the bridge was destroyed” Ch’vok said, suddenly afraid. “We were losing the battle. I was going to launch an escape pod and send out a call for help.” There was a murmuring, growing in volume as the assembled officers listened in disbelief to Ch’vok’s excuses. Krang held up a hand to silence them and the room quietened again, waiting for Krang to give judgement. “Ch’vok, you have admitted that you left your post during battle and that you intended to abandon the ship. Have you no excuses at all?” Ch’vok gave no answer. There was nothing he could say without condemning himself further. Desperately he looked around him, hoping for some sign of support from his fellow officers, but there was none forthcoming. Everyone present knew that the first officer’s actions had endangered the ship and almost cost them the battle. And to admit like that that he’d been going to abandon the ship. This time, Ch’vok had finally and irrevocably gone too far. Klingon justice was swift and harsh - there was only one penalty. “Nothing to say, Ch’vok?” Krang asked again. “This is your last chance to redeem yourself.” 21


The disgraced Klingon stared at Krang, saying nothing, but the fear showed in his face as he saw the lack of mercy in Krang’s eyes. Krang realised he had no choice. It was now his duty to kill Ch’vok. Noticing that the Klingon had been disarmed, he said harshly, “Someone give him a knife.” There was hesitation. The Klingon d’k’tahg was a symbol of honour and no-one wanted to lend their blade to a proven coward. “I said, someone give him a knife” Krang repeated. Still no-one moved. Then, slowly and with obvious reluctance, Kehlan removed her knife from its sheath and handed it, hilt first, to Ch’vok. The first officer took the weapon from her, then with a trace of his old arrogance, pushed her out of his way. She gave a low growl, but did not otherwise react. Unlike the others, she had known Krang for a long time and had fought at his side. She knew his abilities and knew that in a few minutes, Ch’vok would be dead. He had been dead in fact, from the moment he had deserted the bridge, but by allowing him to fight rather than just executing him, Krang was giving him the dignity of an honourable death. Pulling his d’k’tahg from the belt of his Federation uniform, Krang activated the triple blade and took a step forward. Ch’vok swung at him and he countered easily. The dishonoured first officer feinted to one side before striking again. Krang countered for a second time, watching his opponent carefully and judging his skills. Ch’vok lunged for a third time, and Krang was reminded of the dead captain’s words – adequate and no more. Even now, in a fight to the death, those words perfectly summed up Ch’vok’s abilities. This time Ch’vok had left

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himself wide open to attack and Krang was quick to take advantage. With one swift motion, he thrust his knife straight into the other man’s chest. Krang twisted the blade before removing it and Ch’vok’s eyes widened in shock and pain, then slowly dulled as the life drained from them. As the dying man slumped to the floor, Krang shoved the knife, still wet with blood, back into his belt before proclaiming “I am Krang son of Marek of the House of Inigan. I now take formal command of this vessel. Do any of you wish to challenge my right to do so?” The crew were silent for a moment, then Kargan, the second officer stepped forward. Krang tensed but relaxed again when he heard Kargan’s words. “You got us through that battle. I for one will follow you – to Gre’thor and beyond if that’s what it takes.” “So will I!” called out the helmsman, and a third voice shouted, “Me too.” Suddenly the crew were chanting his name, “Krang! Krang! Krang!” amidst the tumultuous cheering. Krang held up a hand, quietening them. “Good. Then that’s settled.” He looked around, appraising his officers, then continued, “Kargan, you’re promoted to commander. You’ll take over the duties of the first officer. And you, gunnery officer… Vareq isn’t it?” The gunner nodded. “How long ago did you graduate?” The young Klingon looked embarrassed, “Actually sir, I didn’t” he told the captain. “I should have finished my academy training next year.” “I was in the last class to graduate” Kargan informed the captain, explaining, “Vareq and the others were pulled 23


out early because of the war – there weren’t enough qualified officers to man the fleet.” Kahless, Krang thought, surprised. No wonder they all looked so young, half of them were still cadets. Well if this was the calibre of the officers the Klingon military academy was turning out, then he was glad to have them. “Well Vareq, you’ll take over as second officer, with a promotion to lieutenant commander. You can start by selecting one of your men to take over as gunnery officer.” Kehlan stirred. She was senior to Vareq, but he had been promoted over her and she didn’t like it. Unknowingly, her hand strayed to the knife she had just retrieved from Ch’vok’s lifeless body. Krang saw the motion and growled. “Take your hand off your knife, Kehlan” he said. “I have other plans for you.” Kehlan’s hand tightened on the d’k’tahg, but after a moment, she did as she was told. “And what plans might those be?” she asked coolly. “Captain Mackenzie needs a new first officer” Krang said, enjoying her surprised reaction to his words. “You’re ideally suited for the role, so I’m sending you over to the Endeavour. You will remain a Defence Force officer, but answer to Starfleet. Oh, and you’ll hold the rank of commander.” Turning away from Kehlan he addressed the chief engineer, telling him to get the repairs finished. “Nobody goes off duty until the ship is back in fighting condition” he finished. “Now, any questions?” There was silence.

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Krang gave a satisfied nod. “Then go about your duties.” And gesturing towards the corpse at his feet, “One last thing, someone get this useless petaQ off my bridge.” With that he stepped across the bridge and seated himself in the captain’s chair.

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Chapter 4

Captain James Mackenzie had been in command of the Endeavour for several years now and he knew his ship inside out. A Nebula class ship, Endeavour was a little over 440m long and 130m high with a crew capacity of 750. She carried the new style of equipment pod, giving her an impressive array of weapons and sensors. Since the Dominion war though, all the civilians and families had been off-loaded, leaving the ship seriously under-crewed. Until todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s battle there had been 220 people on board, now he had just lost another three, including his acting first officer, killed instantly when a plasma valve had exploded in his face. Captain Mackenzieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s orders were to remain out in Dominion controlled space for as long as possible and cause as much trouble as he possibly could. The mission was a dangerous one. The constant fighting was taking its toll and Captain Mackenzie had lost his original first officer just over a month ago. He still felt regret for his

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loss, he had served with the man for a long time and had known him well. The Klingon captain’s offer of a new first officer had caught him by surprise but he had been pleased to accept. He needed the help and from her personnel file, it appeared that the newly promoted Commander Kehlan was good at her job. With her science background she would be doubly useful. She had studied science and after graduation, had won a scholarship to study at a Terran university after which she had completed a further year’s postgraduate study at the Vulcan Science Academy. Five years ago she had been one of those chosen to represent the Klingon Empire at a major science conference on Frontera. Immediately afterwards she had joined the Defence Force and since then had been serving as Captain Kay’vin’s science officer, firstly on the IKS Ro’kar and then on Hegh’Ta. She was now twenty nine years old. He made a mental note to organise a training programme for her, to allow her to become more familiar with Starfleet methods and procedures. He knew that she would find serving on Endeavour very different from the Klingon ships she was used to. He found himself wondering about Hegh’Ta’s new captain. From his age and bearing, Krang was obviously an experienced officer, used to being in command. He wore a Starfleet security uniform with commander’s rank pins but his attitude, even allowing for the typical Klingon arrogance, was one of seniority. Interested he accessed the other man’s personnel record and was surprised to find it was very brief. Six years ago Krang epetai Inigan had been assigned to the USS Enterprise as assistant security chief with the rank of lieutenant. At about the same time, he had been hailed a ‘Hero of the Klingon Empire’ by Chancellor Gowron, an accolade that was not given out 27


lightly. Yet there were no reasons given for the award. After the Enterprise was destroyed Krang had been promoted and reassigned as security chief on Frontera, which was listed as his current assignment. Just six years. Getting more interested, Captain Mackenzie began to investigate but there was nothing in either the Federation or Klingon databases, not even a date of birth. It was as though six years ago, the Klingon had not existed. Reading the record again, something else caught his attention. Krang epetai Inigan. The honorific ‘epetai’ was one given only to the very highest ranking Klingon officers. Then he remembered hearing one of the Klingons addressing Krang as Security Captain. What did that mean? “Computer”, he said, “check the database for the term ‘Klingon Security Captain’ and define it.” “That information answered.

is

classified”

the

computer

Captain Mackenzie sighed. This was proving more difficult than he had imagined. “Computer, accept authorisation Captain James Mackenzie, sigma six four six, level ten alpha.” “Clearance code accepted. Accessing required information. Please stand by.” After a moment, the computer continued, “The term ‘Captain of Security’ is a title given to the six most senior officers of the Klingon Imperial Intelligence Bureau, a rank which answers only to the Imperial Operations Master and the Chancellor of the Klingon Empire.” Captain Mackenzie whistled. Powerful indeed, he thought. “Computer, list current officers holding this rank.”

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“Unable to comply” the computer responded, “That information is unavailable.” Was Krang one of those six Captains of Security? And if he was, then why was a senior member of what was essentially the Klingon secret police serving as a Starfleet officer? There was a mystery here, Captain Mackenzie knew. He wondered if he would ever manage to solve it. ~~~<>~~~ The freighter had been badly damaged in the attack and it took the Federation and Klingon engineers three days to get it space-worthy again. Even then, the stricken ship wasn’t going anywhere under its own power. As soon as the engineers agreed that it could withstand warp speed, Endeavour engaged its tractor beam, taking the vessel under tow and began to head back towards Federation space with Hegh’Ta taking up a defensive position at the rear. Krang had been surprised that he had lost only six crew members in the battle, including Hegh’Ta’s captain and the executed first officer. The final body count would have been higher but the Vulcan T’lia had worked wonders and several men that had been expected to die of their injuries, owed their lives to her dedication. Their recovery would be slow, but it was expected that they would eventually be able to return to active duty. T’lia had been horrified at the conditions in Hegh’Ta’s sickbay and had insisted on having the casualties beamed over to her own facility on the Endeavour. Krang had agreed. He knew just how primitive Klingon medicine was, in part due to the cultural bias that the sick should die and only the strong should live. In fact, Hegh’Ta did not

29


even have a qualified doctor on board, only a nurse. While he did not condone weakness, Krang believed that the Empire was losing too many good warriors in this war and that treating their wounds and returning them whole and uninjured to the field of battle, could only be a good thing. Of course, he was well aware that his thinking was influenced by the many years he had spent with access to proper medicine while living in the Federation. Progress back to Federation space was painfully slow. Despite all the repairs, the freighter’s structural integrity field could withstand no more than warp two and the journey that had taken Hegh’Ta only an hour at maximum warp, would now take them almost four weeks. Both Krang and Captain Mackenzie would be very glad when the journey was over. Merchant and Starfleet officers did not tend to get on very well, each believing they were superior to the other and the Orinoco’s captain, a short, portly man named Mansfield, was no exception. The man had been very relieved that the two ships had come to his rescue, but even as he thanked them, he had been unable to resist adding a few complaints, wanting to know what had taken them so long, and what was Starfleet playing at anyway, leaving a defenceless freighter to travel without protection? Actually, Captain Mackenzie hated to admit it, but the freighter captain had a point. The war with the Dominion was not going well and this was a dangerous part of space. A ship loaded with refugees as the Orinoco was, should have had a Starfleet escort. It was now his duty to provide that escort and ensure that the refugees arrived safely at their destination. ~~~<>~~~

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Kehlan packed her belongings into her kitbag and took one last look around the tiny cabin she had called home for the past few years. She was excited about her promotion and looking forward to her new duties, but a little apprehensive as well. She had never even been on board a Starfleet vessel and now she was supposed to take over as first officer. Even if it was only for a short time, it was still a massive responsibility. Krang obviously thought she was capable or he would not have recommended her for the role; she hoped she could live up to his faith in her. She was Klingon, she reminded herself, she could do this. With that optimistic thought in her mind, she turned and headed towards the transporter room. Reaching the transporter room she was surprised to find Captain Krang there waiting for her. No longer wearing his Starfleet uniform, he had changed into Klingon armour, although he wore no sash or insignia to denote his rank. Not that he needed it, she thought, whatever he wore, no-one would ever mistake him for anything but a senior officer. He had been speaking with the transporter operator when she came in, but seeing her, he looked up with a smile. “Ah, there you are, Kehlan. Ready to go?” “Yes sir” she said, taking a deep breath and stepping up onto the transporter pad, “I’m ready.” With a curt gesture, Krang dismissed the transporter operator and the officer left, the door shutting behind him, leaving Krang and Kehlan alone in the transporter room. “You’re a good officer, Kehlan” Krang said, intuitively sensing her nervousness. “You’ll do fine on Endeavour.” As he spoke, he moved over to the console, checking the controls and programming in the coordinates.

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Kehlan stared at him in surprise. How had he known? But she made no comment, saying only “Qapla’!” and offering him the Klingon salute. With a nod of acknowledgement, he activated the controls and Kehlan felt the transporter beam take her. The room faded around her and after a moment of nothingness, the transporter room of the USS Endeavour began to solidify around her. She blinked several times as her eyes adjusted to the brightness of the light and the room came fully into focus. Two uniformed officers stood there. One, in a yellow uniform, was obviously the Endeavour’s transporter operator, the other wore a marines uniform with rank pins, that if she was reading them correctly, denoted him as being a major. Her guess was confirmed when he spoke. “Welcome on board. I’m Major Philip Speares, the marines commander and second officer.” His tone was warm and friendly and Kehlan found herself smiling in response. “I am Commander Kehlan” she told him with a grin, “I’d ask permission to come aboard but as I’m already here, it’s a little after the fact.” “Well, since you outrank me” he said cheerfully, “I’m only going to get to say this once, so I might as well enjoy it. Permission granted.” Kehlan stepped down from the transporter pad. That was a good start. If all the officers made her as welcome as this one had, she would get on fine here. “The captain wants to see you” Major Speares told her, “I’ll show you to his ready room.” Seeing her start to lift her kitbag, he continued, “You can leave that here. One of the yeomen will take it to your quarters.”

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Acknowledging, she followed him from the room and along the corridor to the turbolift. Several crewmembers passed them, going about their duties, and Kehlan was aware of their stares, but she saw no animosity in their expressions, only curiosity. They were obviously wondering who this Klingon newcomer was. Well, they would find out soon enough, she thought. The Endeavour was a big ship and even with the aid of the turbolift it took them several minutes to reach the bridge, but eventually they did reach their destination and the turbolift door slid open with a slight swishing sound, to reveal the bridge. It was a large, roughly circular room and like the rest of the ship, brightly lit. The captain’s ready room was located on the same side of the bridge as the turbolift. With only a few steps, they crossed the bridge and Major Speares pressed the chime. A voice from within called “Come in” and the door swished open, revealing the Captain’s private office. With a quick glance at Major Speares, Kehlan walked into the room and the doors closed behind her. “Commander Kehlan reporting for duty, sir” she said formally. This was actually her third meeting with the Federation captain – she had encountered him on board the Orinoco while she was working with the damage control teams and then later he had been present on the Hegh’Ta when Captain Krang had officially taken command of the ship. But now, for the first time she was meeting him as his subordinate, a member of his crew. The captain looked up and smiled at his new first officer. “Welcome to the Endeavour” he said, “Take a seat, there are a few things we need to discuss and then I’ll give you a tour of the ship”

33


Chapter 5

The Klingon captain watched as the transporter shimmered and soundlessly dematerialised the newly promoted Commander Kehlan, sending her to her new duties on board the Federation vessel. He himself had spent several years serving on such a vessel, an experience that had been both interesting and challenging. He had every confidence in Kehlan and he knew that once she got past the initial culture shock, she would thrive in Starfleet. He turned and left the transporter room, heading back to his new quarters. For the few weeks that he was likely to be in command of the Hegh’Ta, it hadn’t seemed worth moving into the captain’s quarters, but it had proved necessary. The crew expected it. There was little difference between this room and the guest quarters, but the computer facilities were better and he was surprised to find that Captain Kay’vin had had an old-fashioned water shower installed as well as the more usual sonic shower. That was one luxury that he would be glad to take advantage of. But that would have to wait until later.

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Right now, he had work to do and he might as well get on with it. ~~~<>~~~ Finally left alone in her luxurious new quarters, Kehlan unpacked the few items she had brought with her and put them away. She glanced at the time. 16:00, mid afternoon. She was not due to begin her new duties until the following morning which meant she had the rest of the day with nothing to do. Her tour of the ship had been interesting and nothing had been held back, including the more restricted parts of the ship. But there was still a lot to learn about the Endeavour. Deciding to put her spare time to good use, she sat down at the computer console and activated it. “Computer, display internal schematics of the USS Endeavour” she requested. “Access denied.” Kehlan frowned. “Computer, display ship’s operations manual.” “Access denied.” Her frown deepened. How could she do her job if even the most basic computer files were denied her? Suppressing the urge to kick the computer she decided that the best course of action was to simply ask the captain for authorisation. She touched the combadge she had been given earlier that day. “Kehlan to Captain Mackenzie” “Captain Mackenzie here. What can I do for you, Commander?” “I require access to the computer system” she told the captain. “I wish to study the ship’s systems before I begin my duties, but I do not have the necessary clearance.” 35


“No problem” the reply came back, “For now you can use one of my codes - Gamma four six four Epsilon. I’ll get your own clearance sorted out by the start of your shift tomorrow morning.” “Thank you Captain.” Cutting the connection she turned back to the computer console. “Computer, display internal schematics of the USS Endeavour. Clearance code Gamma Four six four Epsilon.” “Working.” The computer made a chirping noise and the required information appeared on her screen. Satisfied, Kehlan settled herself down and began to read. She had finished with the schematics and operations manual and was studying the personnel files when her stomach rumbled, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast and that she was hungry. Checking the time again, she was surprised to find that it was now 20:30 and that she had been engrossed in her reading for several hours. She considered her options and decided to go and get something to eat from Ten Forward. Some of her new colleagues were bound to be in there at this time and she might as well start getting to know them. Ten Forward was at least easy to find. Rather obviously, it was on deck ten in the forward part of the ship. It didn’t seem worth taking the turbolift just to go down two decks so she took the stairs. It took only a minute for her to reach the lounge. As she approached the doors, they swished open and a pair of junior officers, dressed in yellow engineering uniforms, stepped through and headed towards the turbolift, giving Kehlan friendly nods as they passed her.

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Star Trek: Dominion

Kehlan stood for a moment in the open doorway, taking a good look around her before going inside. She hesitated, a little unsure of the procedure for ordering food. The bar tender must have seen her hesitation because he came over and gave her a friendly smile. “Hi, I’m Bart” the man said, “I’m the holographic bar tender and I run this place. What can I get you?” A holographic bar tender? Kehlan had heard of the Federation’s use of Emergency Medical Holograms, but this was something new. Deciding not to query it for the moment, Kehlan considered the more important issue – what did she want to eat? There didn’t seem much point in ordering Klingon food, it wouldn’t taste very good out of a replicator and anyway, she could get the real thing any time she wanted on board the Hegh’Ta. She had got used to Terran ideas about cooking during her year on Earth although she hoped that the Endeavour’s replicators were better than the ones at the university she had attended. The food there had been truly awful and even the Terran students had complained about it. There had been a good selection of cafés and restaurants though, and they had eaten out whenever possible. “What do you recommend?” prejudiced The bar tender thought for a moment. “How about roast chicken?” Kehlan shook her head. Klingon food was eaten very fresh and in some cases, live. The thought of eating a replicated dead burned bird did not appeal at all. “There was something I tried on Earth once” she said thoughtfully, “I can’t remember what it was called. It had

37


layers of meat or vegetable with pasta and a sort of white sauce on top.” “I think you mean lasagne” Bart said, “Would you like the meat or vegetable version?” “Vegetable” Kehlan said, knowing she had surprised him with that decision. Everyone expected Klingons to be carnivorous. But at least vegetables were meant to be cooked. “And I’d like a glass of chilled prune juice.” “No problem” Bart said cheerfully, “Find yourself a table and I’ll bring it over in a minute.” Kehlan acknowledged and moved away from the bar, trying to decide where to go. While the lounge was not over full and there were plenty of empty tables, most of those occupied were full and she did not want to eat alone. Sitting at a crowded table with other senior officers, Major Speares caught sight of Kehlan and waved to her, inviting her to join them. She hesitated as there did not seem to be any space, but he nudged his colleagues and they obligingly shuffled their chairs over a bit to make room for the newcomer and one of them moved over to an empty table to grab an extra chair. Accepting the invitation, Kehlan went over to the group and took the offered chair. As she did so, Bart arrived with her food and placed it in front of her. Tasting it cautiously she was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually very good. Endeavour’s replicators were definitely better than those at her old university. The Vulcan healer T’lia was engaged in a game of tridimensional chess with the head of engineering, Chief Argyle. It was a game that Kehlan enjoyed and she studied the board with interest. As she watched, Argyle picked up the gold bishop and moved it to the upper level. 38


Star Trek: Dominion

T’lia frowned very slightly and Kehlan thought she understood why. In moving the bishop, Argyle had left his queen dangerously exposed to attack from T’lia’s castle. Sure enough, T’lia had seen the opportunity but as the Vulcan prepared to make her move, Kehlan realised what Argyle was planning. His move had been risky, but clever. If T’lia took the bait she would lose the game. “That was not a logical move” T’lia accused, picking up the gold queen and replacing it with her silver castle as she spoke. “Check.” “Maybe not logical” Kehlan said, unable to resist butting in. “But it was a damn good move all the same” Argyle looked up then. “Do ye play, lass?” At her nod, he gestured to the board, “What do you think?” Kehlan took a good look at the board. “Gold to checkmate in three moves” she said confidently T’lia’s frown deepened “I admit that I am not an expert at this game” the Vulcan woman said, “but I cannot envision the result you are predicting.” Argyle grinned at Kehlan. “You want to show her” Kehlan did so and a moment later, the Vulcan stared in consternation at the trap she had fallen into, “I maintain that it was a highly illogical move” T’lia said ruefully, “Nevertheless, it was a very effective one.” She sighed. “As you can see, there is a good reason why I do not often play this game.” “She’s the only one who’s crazy enough to take him on” Major Speares said, “The rest of us gave up long ago.” Putting back the pieces she had altered, Kehlan said, “Now, if you had ignored the trap and tried this…” 39


Picking up the silver bishop, she moved it two spaces and waited expectantly for the engineer’s reaction. “Damn” Argyle swore, forced to move his king backwards out of danger. About to continue the attack, Kehlan stiffened as an almost subliminal shudder seemed to run through the ship. She glanced at the other officers, but they seemed unaware of it. “Did anyone else feel that?” Kehlan enquired. “Feel what?” the communications officer asked. Argyle gestured back towards the board. “Get on with it and stop trying to distract me.” Kehlan gave a low growl. “I do not need to resort to such tactics” she told him, bringing in the knight to further the attack on the gold king. “I felt a shudder.” It was the engineer’s turn to stare at the board in consternation. “Damn” he swore again, forced to retreat a second time.” Bringing the silver queen sweeping down the board, Kehlan made the final killing move. “I believe that is checkmate.” Leaving the two combatants to mull over the game, Kehlan returned to her now rapidly cooling lasagne. She had barely taken a bite when she felt another slight shudder. “Can’t anyone else feel that?” she demanded. Receiving nothing but blank looks she said, “Either there’s an engine malfunction or we’re approaching an ion storm.” “There’s no malfunction in my engines.” Argyle’s growl was almost Klingon in his indignation.

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The ship shuddered again and this time it was strong enough for the other officers to feel. Argyle got up. “I’m going down to engineering.” The ship’s comm. system shrilled as another shudder racked the ship and Captain Mackenzie’s voice called, “Senior officers to the bridge.” Putting down her fork, Kehlan joined the other officers heading towards the turbolift. Technically, she was not due to take over her duties until the following morning and she was unsure whether the summons included her. But she was to be Endeavour’s first officer and she could not, would not, sit around and do nothing while the ship went into danger. It was time for her to do her duty.

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Chapter 6

The doors of the turbolift opened and the group of senior officers spilled out onto the bridge. Without hesitation, Kehlan headed straight for the science console. That was where she could do the most good right now. Her knowledge of Endeavour’s systems was still limited but there were only so many ways to present scientific data. Fingers flying over the panel, she began to pull up information from the ship’s sensors. As she worked, she observed the easy way the crew worked together and listened carefully to the ebb and flow of information between the captain and his officers. It was evident that they had been working together for a long time. She scanned the data on her console. It was not good enough, she decided, focusing all her concentration on the task at hand. She was aware that the sensor system she was using was more advanced than Klingon sensors, but whoever had programmed them had not made the fullest use of their capabilities. “Commander Kehlan?”

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With a start, she realised the captain was addressing her and she did not yet have all the information he needed. “I’ll have the information in a moment, Captain” she answered, not looking up as she continued to reprogramme the computer. Kehlan did not know that the system was not designed to do what she was asking and would not have cared much if she had known. The captain needed results and it was her job to get them for him. Entering the final command, she slipped around the blockage and found what she needed. “It is a low to medium intensity ion storm” she reported, sending the technical data to the captain’s console as she spoke. “It should not last more than a few hours and is no danger to the Endeavour.” “What about the freighter?” “The Orinoco’s shields are in poor condition” Kehlan said, “They are not strong enough to protect the ship. I would suggest that we move closer and extend our shields around it.” “Very well” Captain Mackenzie said, “Do it.” “Aye sir” the helm officer acknowledged as he obeyed the captain’s order, bringing the Endeavour closer to the damaged freighter. “We are now in position” “Extending shields, sir.” The officer at the operations console said, “The Orinoco is now fully shielded.” The communications officer looked up from his console. “Captain, a message is coming through from the Orinoco. The engineering team are requesting permission to beam back on board.” Reading through the technical data that was continuing to come through to her console, Kehlan frowned. “Sir, it

43


would not be a good idea to use the transporters during the storm” she told the captain, Captain Mackenzie gave a nod of agreement. “Send a message to the away team” he said, “Tell them they’ll have to stay on the Orinoco until the storm is over.” Outside the ship, the intensity of the ion storm was increasing and the shuddering was almost constant. Occasionally a stronger gust hit the ship, causing it to shake more violently. Endeavour’s bridge crew were quiet now. They would all remain on duty until the storm was over and the danger was past. There was nothing to do now, but wait it out. The ion storm raged for several hours before dying down in the early hours of the morning. Finally Captain Mackenzie was able to send his tired bridge officers off duty to get some rest. The juniors had had an easy night of it, they could hold the fort for a while. ~~~<>~~~ Almost a week after the ion storm, Kehlan was sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Endeavour. It had been a very busy week, each day filled with intensive training. But today was different. Today she had taken her first duty shift on the bridge without the captain’s presence. It seemed strange to be sitting in his chair. On a Klingon ship, the captain’s chair would remain empty if the commanding officer were not present, no-one else would ever use it. But there were many things Kehlan found strange about serving on a Federation ship. The Endeavour was cooler and much more brightly lit than the Hegh’Ta, in fact the whole feel of the ship was different. Her red and black commander’s uniform was ridiculously comfortable compared to the armour she was accustomed

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Star Trek: Dominion

to, but she felt naked without her d’k’tahg. It hadn’t seemed appropriate though, to wear it with her Federation uniform. Not that she really needed it, she consoled herself, she could defend herself without it and it wasn’t as if anyone on this ship was any threat to her. She glanced at her chronograph. Nothing of interest had happened in the last few hours. Only ten more minutes and the gamma shift would come on duty, she would hand over to Major Speares, the marine commander and acting second officer and her first solo shift would be over. “Commander Kehlan.” One of the officers, an Andorian, named if she remembered correctly, Lieutenant Ch’Pesh, attracted her attention, “I’m detecting something on long range scanners.” “What is it, Ch’Pesh?” “I’m not sure, sir” the lieutenant responded, “It’s too far out to show up clearly, but I think it may be a ship.” “Magnify the image.” “It’s already at full magnification” the Andorian told her. Kehlan got up and moved over to the tactical station, looking over Ch’Pesh’s shoulder at the display. “Try tightening the focal array… ah, that’s a little better.” The picture sharpened, but it still wasn’t quite enough to interpret the image on the screen. The Andorian officer moved out of the way, allowing Kehlan access as she made further adjustments to the system. She watched, satisfied as the image became clearer and finally came into focus.

45


“It’s Jem’Hadar” she said, “Not really surprising out here, I suppose.” Turning to the Terran lieutenant seated at the communications panel, she was about to address him when she realised she had forgotten his name. Pale… no that wasn’t quite right. She tried again. Palin. That was it, Samuel Palin. Relieved, she instructed him, “Lieutenant Palin, open a channel to the captain” ~~~<>~~~ Both Krang and Captain Mackenzie were on board the damaged freighter when the signal from Endeavour came through. The Terran captain was deliberately keeping himself busy to take his mind off his new first officer. Kehlan was settling in well and adapting to life on a Federation starship, but knowing it was her first shift alone, he had to restrain himself from calling to see how she was getting on – that would send a message to his crew that he did not trust her. And he did trust her - she had proved herself to be a good officer. If something happened that required his attention, she would call him. Nevertheless, he found himself continuing to think about her as he inspected the repairs the engineers were still carrying out. The Orinoco was fit for towing and the ships were once again under way, but there was still a lot of work left to be done while they were travelling. His combadge bleeped and he touched it, in acknowledgement. “Sir, we have picked up signs of a Jem’Hadar attack ship on long range scanners” Kehlan informed her captain. “Have they detected us?” Captain Mackenzie asked. “Not yet, sir.” Kehlan replied, “We are still at extreme sensor range.”

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“Well done Commander” the Captain said. “I’ll beam back in a few minutes. Let me know if there’s any change.” Closing the comm. link, he looked at his fellow captain. “A single Jem’Hadar ship. I doubt it’ll come close enough for us to take it though. Pity.” “A damaged freighter and lone starship should lure it in closer” Krang said thoughtfully, “Make it look as though Endeavour is in trouble. I’ll cloak Hegh’Ta and drop back a little. It’s something the Rotarran and the Defiant tried. Let’s see if it proves equally successful for us.” “Understood.” The Terran captain said, “We’d better get back to our ships.” Beaming back to Endeavour, Captain Mackenzie headed straight to the bridge. Switching the main screen to the aft view, he watched in satisfaction as the Hegh’Ta began to drop back and then as the cloaking device took effect, the image flickered and disappeared, leaving only the stars visible on the screen. Sending the ship to yellow alert Captain Mackenzie began to give orders, putting his part of the plan into motion. “Weaken the tractor beam” he instructed, “and drop the power supply to half. I want us to appear vulnerable.” Kehlan glanced at her panel. “The Jem’Hadar vessel has detected us, Captain” she reported. It’s moving closer. At current velocity it should reach us in thirty two minutes.” “So far so good” Captain Mackenzie said, “Be ready to bring the power and weapons systems back on line on my command.”

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The next thirty minutes crawled by, seeming impossibly slow. Both alpha and gamma shift officers had made an appearance by now – as the ship prepared for combat nobody remained off duty. Inexorably the enemy vessel grew larger and larger on the viewscreen as it approached the seemingly helpless starship and the captain gave the order to go from yellow to red alert. “Enemy ship is charging weapons” Ch’Pesh said, his voice tense. “They are preparing to fire.” “Just a little longer” Captain Mackenzie said, holding up a hand, “Wait for it…” Where was Hegh’Ta, the captain wondered as the enemy gun-ports opened. He couldn’t afford to wait any longer. Dropping his hand, he gave the signal his crew were waiting for. “NOW!” Instantly there was a flurry of activity as the powered down systems came back on line. “Full power to shields” Kehlan growled, “Opening fire” Glancing at the viewscreen, Captain Mackenzie saw the Hegh’Ta decloak directly above the Jem’Hadar cruiser, wings lowered into the attack position, its disrupter cannons spitting green death at the enemy ship. The massive cruiser shook violently, soundless explosions blooming along its flank as both Federation and Klingon weapons tore into it. But the Jem’Hadar were no cowards and the ship kept coming. Moments later, it was Endeavour’s turn to shake as a volley of torpedoes crashed into it. “Initiating evasive manoeuvres” Kehlan said, knowing as she spoke, that any such manoeuvres must by necessity, be limited. There was still the damaged freighter to

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protect – the Jem’Hadar could not be allowed to get near it. Another volley smashed into the saucer section and this time, the ship lurched heavily, throwing them violently to the floor, alarms sounding as consoles exploded in a shower of sparks. Captain Mackenzie got to his feet, and looking around to survey the damage, he saw Kehlan doing the same. She was cradling one arm to her body. “I think I’ve broken my wrist” she said tersely, seeing the captain’s look of enquiry. “I’m all right” Seating herself at a damaged console, she began, with only her left hand, to re-route power, trying to bring the systems back up to full strength. The communications officer hadn’t been so lucky. He lay motionless on the floor where he had fallen. Checking on the stricken lieutenant, Captain Mackenzie was pleased to find that the man was still breathing. Touching his combadge, he called, “Bridge to sickbay. We need a medical team up here.” “We’ll have someone with you as soon as possible.” T’lia’s voice, calm and reassuring came over the intercom. Captain Mackenzie felt something warm trickling down the side of his face. Reaching up, he touched it and was surprised to see blood on his fingers. He must have hit his head when he fell, he thought, funny that he hadn’t even felt it. Wiping the blood out of his eyes, he checked the tactical display on screen, and saw Hegh’Ta come swooping gracefully between Endeavour and the enemy cruiser, its disruptors firing again and again. Every shot hit its mark. The Jem’Hadar ship was in trouble now, although still dangerous. Giving orders, he sent

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Endeavour in a tight turn, simultaneously firing both phasers and photon torpedoes at the enemy vessel. The weapons of the two ships found their target and the cruiser’s shields flickered heavily before going down completely. Vulnerable now, the enemy ship turned to flee. Too late. Sending one last volley, the crew gave a ragged cheer as the Jem’Hadar vessel exploded. ~~~<>~~~ “Sir, we have a message from Captain Mansfield of the Orinoco” Lieutenant Ch’Pesh informed Captain Mackenzie, “He is demanding an immediate meeting with you and Captain Krang.” “Tell him to beam aboard in one hour” the captain said, “and send a message to the Hegh’Ta, requesting that Captain Krang joins us.” The Klingon captain beamed over immediately he got the message and joined Captain Mackenzie on Endeavour’s bridge. When the transporter room contacted the bridge to say that the Freighter captain had arrived, Krang quietly suggested, “He has no right to make demands. Make him wait for you.” Captain Mackenzie nodded, “I agree completely. That man needs to learn some manners.” Then, answering the transporter operator, he instructed, “Have someone show Captain Mansfield to the observation lounge. We will join him shortly.” When half an hour had passed, the two captains left the bridge and headed to the observation lounge where the now irate freighter captain was waiting for them. “How dare you put my ship in danger like that?” the freighter captain said, immediately starting to shout,

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“You’re supposed to be here to protect Orinoco, not bring more enemy ships down on us. How dare you…” “Captain Mansfield” Krang interrupted him, his voice icy, “You are on board a Federation starship. You will treat Captain Mackenzie with the respect he is due or I will personally throw you straight out the nearest airlock and you can walk back to your ship. Do I make myself clear?” Somehow Captain Mackenzie managed to keep a straight face as he heard this threat. His Klingon colleague had no authority to do any such thing, not on a Federation ship anyway, but he had no intention of telling the freighter captain that. “Now, I understand why you are angry, but your ship was in no danger at any time during the fight” Captain Mackenzie said patiently, “Had we not lured the enemy cruiser in and taken it down, it would have seen us and returned with reinforcements. And that would have put you in even more danger.” “We have done everything possible to protect you and your passengers. Not only that but our engineers have been working round the clock for several days to repair the Orinoco” Krang said, “You should be safely back in Federation space in a few days.” “Now if there’s nothing else you wish to discuss” Captain Mackenzie said, “Then I suggest you go back to your ship and let us get on with our work.” ~~~<>~~~ The two ships escorting the Orinoco got lucky. weeks into their journey back to Federation space, encountered a convoy of freighters, heavily guarded fleet of Klingon ships and were able to hand

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Two they by a over


responsibility for the damaged vessel to the commander of the leading attack-cruiser. General Talak was a big, rather overweight man, his appearance marred by years of overindulging in bloodwine and gagh. He was still however a formidable warrior and a fine commander with an impressive battle record. “We’re escorting this lot to Khitomer” Talak told Krang, handing him a large mug of blood-wine. “Then we’re free to join the war again.” “We need every ship out there we can get” Krang said, taking a mouthful of the wine. It tasted surprisingly good, sliding down his throat like liquid fire. “This is good” he commented, “It tastes like the Opri vintner.” “You know your blood-wine” Talak said, impressed. “Care to hazard a guess on the year?” Krang stared at the wine in his mug and took another mouthful. “I’m no expert” he said thoughtfully, “but it’s got to be a reserve. I’d estimate about eight years old.” “Nine actually” Talak corrected, picking up the bottle and topping up the mugs. “So, what are your plans?” Krang thought about the question. He had sent a message to Admiral Portway at Starfleet headquarters on Earth, but had been unable to contact her. Some arrogant toDSaH of a commander in a security uniform had informed him that Admiral Portway was unavailable but had refused to divulge her location, despite the Klingon’s insistence that the message was urgent. After some argument however he had agreed to forward on Krang’s report. Krang had very much hoped to speak to the admiral personally to discuss the conference with the Federation Council that he had missed. Unfortunately he 52


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was going to have to wait until the admiral received his report and contacted him. There was no point now in Hegh’Ta heading towards Earth but he had no other orders. Captain Mackenzie on the other hand had pre-existing instructions to cause as much trouble as possible in Dominion controlled space. When he finally managed to break into Kay’vin’s personal log, he discovered that the dead captain’s orders, after transporting him to Earth, had been very similar to Endeavour’s. After considering all the options, Krang had decided that until he heard otherwise he would join the Endeavour in its mission. “Until I’m instructed otherwise” Krang told the general, “I intend to find and destroy as many enemy ships as I can. I’ve spent too long behind a desk, now it’s time to fight.” “Sounds like a good plan” Talak said, raising his mug and drinking down its contents in one long gulp. “It’s just a pity I’m stuck with this ghuy’cha convoy. Kill a few Jem’Hadar for me, Krang.” Finishing off his own drink, Krang got to his feet, ready to return to his own ship. “It will be my pleasure.”

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Chapter 7

It was eight days before Krang and Captain Mackenzie heard from Starfleet again. By this time they were well away from the convoy and travelling at high warp back towards enemy held space. The two captains sat together at the table in Endeavour’s observation lounge as the image of Admiral Portway appeared on the computer screen. “Greetings Captain Mackenzie” the Terran admiral said, “Commander Krang, you’re still out of uniform I see.” “You already know that I have taken control of Hegh’Ta” Krang informed her stiffly, “Starfleet uniform would be inappropriate under the circumstances.” “I quite agree” the admiral said, surprising him, “Gentlemen, I must inform you that the captain of the Orinoco has put in a formal complaint against you” she told the two officers, “He alleges that your actions

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recklessly endangered his vessel. He also claims, Commander Krang, that you threatened to kill him.” “He showed disrespect” Krang told the admiral, “I merely informed him that his attitude was unacceptable.” “So I understand” Admiral Portway said, having to try very hard not to laugh. There had been more than one occasion in her career as a Starfleet officer that she would have liked to respond in that way to arrogant merchant captains who thought they were better than their Starfleet counterparts. Unfortunately, as an admiral, she had to not only be impartial, but be seen to be so. That had meant taking the freighter captain’s complaints seriously and carrying out a full investigation. “The whole incident is fully described in my report” Captain Mackenzie said, “I believe we acted in the best interests of the refugees on board the freighter.” He hesitated for a moment, not liking to criticise his superiors. “If I may speak freely?” “Go ahead” the admiral invited, “You usually do.” “Why was the Orinoco not given an escort to start with?” Captain Mackenzie queried, “He should never have been allowed to proceed without adequate protection.” “I’m told that there were no vessels available for guard duty” Admiral Portway informed him, “Apparently he was asked to wait a few days for an escort to arrive, but refused. He denies it of course.” “That doesn’t add up” Captain Mackenzie said thoughtfully. “Captain Mansfield’s too cautious for that. If he denies it, I would tend to believe him.”

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“I don’t like Captain Mansfield - he’s a pain in the neck, but he’s not stupid.” Krang agreed, “I do not think he would have put his passengers in danger in that way.” Admiral Portway considered what the two men were telling her. She had known Captain Mackenzie for years. The Klingon had come under her command only very recently, but he had a good reputation and she knew Starfleet thought highly of him. They were both experienced officers and she had no reason to distrust their judgement. It seemed to her that there was a cover-up somewhere along the line. If someone had deliberately placed the Orinoco and its cargo of refugees in danger... She stopped that thought there, not liking where it was going. She would have to discreetly continue her investigations. “You have both done very well in your handling of the Orinoco incident” Admiral Portway reassured the two captains, “Starfleet Command has read your reports and after due consideration of Captain Mansfield’s complaints, we feel that there was nothing else you could have done under the circumstances. In fact, a commendation will be placed on your records.” “Thank you Admiral” Captain Mackenzie said. “I understand you have new orders for us” Krang enquired. Uncomfortable with the unexpected praise, he changed the subject to something he considered more relevant. “Your orders, Captain Mackenzie and Commander Krang, are to return to Qo’noS.” Admiral Portway informed them, “I will meet you there at the First City spaceport to relay further instructions. I am en route there now.”

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Then addressing the Klingon, she said, “It is regrettable that you missed the conference on Earth, but I fully understand why Captain Kay’vin answered the distress call. I can only hope that your absence from the meeting does not lead to more deaths in this war.” She paused for a moment, reading something on a data padd before continuing, “The Klingon Imperial Command will appoint a new captain for Hegh’Ta once you reach the Homeworld. In the meantime, Chancellor Gowron has confirmed your temporary appointment to the position.” “I understand, Admiral” Krang said, “I will continue to serve both Starfleet and the Empire to the best of my ability.” “I would expect nothing less” Admiral Portway responded, “Captain Mackenzie, with regard to your senior officers, we understand and agree with the reasons behind your acceptance of Commander Kehlan as your first officer. Chancellor Gowron wishes her to continue in that role until you return to Qo’noS and Starfleet Command is happy to concur. We’ll review the situation when you arrive.” “Thank you Admiral” Captain Mackenzie said, pleased. He had hoped for this decision but had been unsure as to whether Starfleet would allow a Defence Force officer to continue serving on a Starship. He had already lost two first officers in the course of the war, and he didn’t want to lose a third. This wasn’t quite the permanent arrangement he wanted, but it was a start. “I will expect to see both of you on Qo’noS” the admiral told them, “You’re both dismissed.” And with that, she cut the connection. ~~~<>~~~

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Returning to his own vessel, Krang gave the order to turn the ship around and lay in a course for Qo’noS. He couldn’t help feeling disappointed. He had always known that his command of the Hegh’Ta was temporary but he didn’t want to give it up. He did miss his family and he knew that the work he had been doing on Frontera was important to the war effort, but he was a Klingon warrior, born and bred to fight, not to sit behind a desk and send others out to battle. He thought over the conversation with Admiral Portway. She had made it clear that she was not satisfied with the problem of the Orinoco and he suspected that the matter was not yet closed. Had someone deliberately sent Orinoco into harm’s way? But who and why? This was a problem he could definitely help with. He had spent years running the Klingon Intelligence network and this was exactly the sort of thing he was trained for. His own access codes were long out of date of course but he had been involved in writing the Empire’s security protocols and he would be very surprised if he could not eventually get into the system. But that would come later, once he had checked through the information available in the Starfleet database. After some consideration he started by pulling up passenger and crew lists to see who had been on board the freighter, cross referencing the lists with details such as planet of origin, race and security clearance. He found nothing unusual, everything checked out as it was supposed to. What about cargo, he wondered. Examining the cargo manifests and comparing it with the bills of lading he found that again, everything checked out. So far he had been able to find absolutely no reason why someone might have wanted the Orinoco destroyed.

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He had to be missing something. Krang frowned and began the search again, this time digging deeper. One by one he went through the names on the lists, this time bringing up a full personnel file on each person and cross checking against planetary records and other classified files. Three quarters of the way down the list, he finally found what he was looking for. A Bajoran woman named Jen Maran had been among the refugees onboard the freighter. Bajoran records were admittedly sketchy but a date of birth had been given as 2335, making her 40 years old. In itself there was nothing strange about the data, but the village listed as her place of birth had been destroyed by the Cardassians six months later with no known survivors. Now it was possible that Jen Maran had not been in the village at the time and had escaped the massacre. But it was equally possible that the woman known as Jen Maran was not the original. It wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be the first time that a false ID had been created in this way. The question Krang now had to ask was, if the woman was a fake, who was she? He seriously doubted that she was a criminal or a freelancer, the cover up had been well done and bore all the hallmarks of a professional job. It was his guess that Jen Maran was probably an intelligence operative trying to get back with sensitive information. And if that was the case, who could have known about it? If he were to continue guessing, he would put his bets on someone on the Starbase command staff. It would have to be someone in a senior position, with access to classified information. Even with all his experience in intelligence work it had taken him several hours to find out this much and there was still no proof of anything. It was all supposition and he would need a lot more evidence before any accusations could be made.

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Deciding to pass on what he had learned so far, Krang recorded a message and encrypted it, sending it on a maximum security frequency to the Federation embassy at Qo’noS, for the personal attention of Admiral Portway. That done, he continued with his investigation. This time he turned his attention to the personnel on board the starbase. Reading through their files, it occurred to him that I.I. were almost guaranteed to have an agent on board themselves. It would be sensible, he decided, to find out what information they held on the starbase. Activating the computer again, he entered the I.I. system, carefully navigating his way through the layers of classification to find the information he needed. ~~~<>~~~ Located not too far from the Council Hall of the First City on Qo’noS, was a tall imposing building that dominated the city skyline. The badges carved into the side of the building marked it as the headquarters of Klingon Imperial Intelligence. Somewhere on one of the upper floors, the Klingon Captain of Security named Moragh sutai Khamran stood looking out of the great hexagonal window of his office. The view was spectacular and he could see all the way across the First City. He turned as the door chimed and his aide came in without waiting for permission. “What is it, Traig?” he asked in annoyance, “I told you I didn’t want to be disturbed.” The newcomer growled. “Sir, we’ve picked up unauthorised activity in the computer system. Someone’s got into the classified files and whatever codes they’re using, we can’t lock them out.”

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“What?” Moragh exploded, “How is that possible? Have you traced the intrusion?” “Yes sir” Traig answered, “It’s coming from the IKC Hegh’Ta.” “Do we have an agent on the Hegh’Ta?” “We did, sir” Traig informed him, “Unfortunately he was killed in battle a few days ago.” Moragh frowned and moved to his desk, quickly pulling up information about the Hegh’Ta, its mission and crew. Looking up and realising that his assistant was still waiting for instructions, he said “Thank you Traig. I will take it from here. Dismissed.” He didn’t even notice as the aide quietly left, shutting the door behind him, he was already engrossed in the problem before him. His hands flew over the computer console, quickly and efficiently entering commands, but whoever the infiltrator was, he knew his way around the system as well as Moragh did and it was proving incredibly difficult to shut him out. He succeeded eventually, mostly because the intruder suddenly ceased his activity. Whether that was because he had been detected or because he had found what he was looking for, Moragh didn’t know. Tiredly, he ordered a complete shutdown and reboot of the I.I computer network. It was a contingency that had been put in place by a previous Captain of Security many years ago, but until now had never been needed. Several hours later, with the computers up and running again, on a limited basis at least, Moragh turned his attention to identifying the intruder. The I.I. operative on the Hegh’Ta was dead, and even if someone had found his transceiver, which was unlikely, the agent had been a relatively junior one and his

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clearance codes would not have allowed access this deep into classified files. There should be no-one on board the IKC Hegh’Ta with the skills necessary to get that far. Seeing that the bird-of-prey was travelling with a Federation ship, the USS Endeavour, Moragh pulled up the crew manifest for that ship was well. The intruder was unlikely to be a non-Klingon, but it was worth checking. Some Vulcans were known to have almost uncanny computer skills. But there was nothing abnormal about either ship. Other than the Hegh’Ta’s new captain, the only unknown factor was Commander Kehlan. All the other officers checked out, but the Endeavour’s new first officer was Houseless and that meant there were no guarantees of her loyalty. Reading her file, he saw that she had spent two years in the Federation as a student. Who knew what influences she had come under during that time. He noted also that it was after coming into contact with Captain Krang that she had finally joined the Defence Force and he wondered what had prompted her to make that decision. He sent a memo to his aide to have her brought in for routine questioning once the two ships arrived back at Qo’noS. Moragh had already noted Hegh’Ta’s recent change of command, and now he pulled up the new captain’s personnel file and cross checked it against the intelligence database. There was almost no information available about Krang epetai Inigan and Moragh was surprised to find that what little there was, went back only six years. Digging deeper into the files however proved fruitless and when the computer steadfastly refused him access to the hidden files, he swore in frustration and placed a call to the Operations Master, the ultimate head of Klingon Imperial Intelligence. He was lucky. The Operations Master had complete faith in his Captains of Security and 62


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as soon as Moragh had explained the problem he released the files to him instantly. He also suggested that Moragh contact Krang and give him whatever help was needed. Such a suggestion from the Operations Master was not to be taken lightly, it was in fact a thinly veiled order. Initially Moragh did not comprehend his superior officer’s attitude but reading the information in the hidden file, the order began to make sense. He also understood why the file was wrapped in so many layers of classification. There were actually seven Captains of Security, not six as he had always believed, the seventh being Krang epetai Inigan. It was immediately evident that Krang was indeed the intruder in the computer system. He not only had the skills and clearance, but he had been the person who had put all the protocols and systems in place to begin with, although there had been several updates since then. Despite the charge of treason and the death sentence that had been passed in Krang’s absence, his rank had never actually been revoked although he no longer claimed it. For someone so high in Imperial Intelligence to have betrayed the Empire as Krang had, was unthinkable to Moragh. And yet, reading further, he saw that Gowron had not only pardoned him, but declared him a ‘Hero of the Empire’ for his actions and Moragh found that he could not disagree with the chancellor’s assessment of the situation. Had Krang acted differently then it was very possible that the Klingon Empire might not now exist. Now he had to find out what the ex Captain of Security was looking for in the computer system and the easiest way to do that was to ask. Shutting down the file, he activated the comm. system and placed a call to the IKC Hegh’Ta.

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Chapter 8

Seated in his office, just off Hegh’Ta’s bridge, Krang was reading through the data he had recovered when his comm. panel bleeped. It was Vareq, his second officer. “Captain, there’s a private transmission from the Homeworld for you. It’s on a maximum security frequency.” “Who is it from?” Krang queried, although he had a good idea that it would be from Imperial Intelligence. He would have been very surprised, and a little disappointed in them if they had not picked up his activity in their computer system. Even an operative as experienced as he was should not have been able to get in unnoticed. Vareq hesitated as he checked the identification on the message. “It’s marked from Captain of Security Moragh sutai Khamran” he said finally, wondering what a top ranking I.I. officer wanted with Captain Krang. He had heard Captain Kay’vin addressing Krang as Captain of Security, but had put it down to his captain’s strange sense of humour. Now he wasn’t so sure.

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“Very well, Vareq” Krang said, satisfied. through to my office.”

“Put it

There was a bleep as Vareq signed off and transferred the message across to the captain. A moment later, the computer screen was filled with the image of a Klingon, a little younger than Krang but with the same air of authority, wearing the insignia that denoted his rank in Imperial Intelligence. It was a badge that Krang had once been proud to wear. “NuqneH Captain Moragh” Krang said, “I am Captain Krang. What can I do for you?” “I suspect it’s more what I can do for you” Moragh said dryly. “You’ve been digging around for information in my computer network. If you wanted something you only had to ask, you know.” Krang found himself laughing. “The truth is, Moragh” he said ruefully, “It never occurred to me to just ask.” “My orders are to give you every assistance” Moragh said seriously, “So if you tell me what you’re looking for, I’ll do my best to help. ” “Actually, I need information from one of your agents” Krang told him. Quickly he explained the situation, telling the other Klingon about the attack on the Orinoco and how he had come to believe that there was a traitor on Starbase 62. A skilled operative, Moragh had not risen to his current rank for nothing and he immediately grasped the seriousness of the problem. The presence of a traitor high up in Starfleet had ramifications for the Klingons as well as the Federation and he would do everything possible to help, despite his initial unhappiness with the Operations Master’s order to cooperate with Captain Krang. He 65


considered for a moment before saying finally, “Leave it with me for a while. I’ll see what I can find out. Moragh out.” Content for now to leave the investigation in the capable hands of his Imperial Intelligence colleague, Krang finally got round to reading through the reports from Starfleet that Admiral Portway had given him. New security protocols had been put in place by the Federation Council but the Klingon did not feel that they were adequate. They seemed inconsistent to him, almost paranoid in some aspects, yet over simplified in others. He wondered, not for the first time, if his presence at the conference he had missed would have made any difference. Reading these reports, he rather suspected that it would not. Looking through the padds one final time, Krang decided to consult his fellow captain about some of his ideas. He was about to open a comm. link to his fellow captain when the panel buzzed, indicating an incoming message. It was from Moragh again. “I have made contact with my field operatives in that sector” the Security Captain informed Krang without preamble, “As soon as I hear anything worth reporting, I will contact you again.” Krang acknowledged, saying, “I am in your debt.” “I serve the Empire” Moragh said, “I am always glad to render assistance to a fellow officer. However, should the time come when I need your help, I will expect to receive it with the same willingness that I have aided you.” With that, he signed off and was gone. Krang remained still for a few moments, then, getting up, he opened a comm. link to the Endeavour. “We need

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to talk” Krang told his Federation counterpart. “There are some security issues we need to discuss.” “I’m free now, if you want to join me for a raktajino” Captain Mackenzie invited him, “I’ll be in my ready room.” He laughed, “I won’t bother sending an escort, you know your way around.” “On my way” Krang responded, “I’ll be with you in a few minutes.” There was a lot to be discussed. Apart from the requirements laid down in the memos resulting from the conference, Krang had some ideas of his own. In fact, the two captains found they were thinking along very similar lines. As the two ships were travelling together they had agreed on an ‘open ship’ policy allowing the crew of both ships to make use of each others’ facilities. This being the case, it had become important to keep track of who was on which ship. After some thought, it was decided that a simple logging in procedure was needed. The transporter logs partially fulfilled their requirements, recording time and destination of transport but not who had used the transporter. This would be remedied by having the crew sign in and out at each end. The issue of possible shapeshifter infiltration was a little more difficult to tackle. New guidelines recommended – no, insisted – that starship crews be regularly tested. Captain Mackenzie felt however that constant tests would leave the crew feeling that they were under suspicion and would be damaging to morale. The war wasn’t going well for the Federation and morale was already low enough without making things worse. Krang suggested that sensor sweeps be carried out and all crew members be tested, including the captains. He felt however that once it was determined that there were no

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shapeshifters on board, then no further testing was necessary unless they came into contact with crew from other ships or space stations. Any newcomers would be tested rigorously, regardless of any previous testing they might have undergone. He also had to tell Captain Mackenzie about his conversation with Moragh. The Captain of Security had been cooperative and helpful, far more so than Krang felt he had any right to expect. If Imperial Intelligence was operating with its usual efficiency, Krang had no doubt that Moragh would find answers. He did not however, plan to sit and wait for Moragh to do all the work. With the information he had been given, he would continue to investigate from this end and between them, they would find out who had endangered the Orinoco and why. Business having been attended to, Krang had time to look around and he surveyed Captain Mackenzie’s ready room with interest. It was the first time he had been in the room. So far all their meetings had been either on the bridge or in the observation lounge. Several weapons hung on the wall, including to the Klingon’s surprise, a mek’leth. But it was the sword that caught his attention – a long slender weapon that gleamed with age. The other captain, seeing his interest, said, “It’s a Samurai sword called a katana, from a part of Earth named Japan.” He stepped across the room and lifted the sword down, handing it to the Klingon. “Here, try it.” Krang accepted the weapon and stepping back to give himself room, swung it experimentally. “It’s beautifully balanced” he commented, “A little lighter than I’m used to though.” Carefully he ran his finger across the blade, testing the weapon’s sharpness before swinging it again. “I could get used to it.” Handing the sword back to its

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owner, he moved back to the wall and without waiting for permission, removed the mek’leth. Examining it carefully, he ran through a quick series of moves before shaking his head and putting the weapon back where he had got it from. “It looks nice but the balance is off and it is not a good quality alloy.” Krang explained his reaction, “I wouldn’t like to have to fight with it.” “I get on all right with it” the Federation captain said, a little defensively. “Oh for training purposes it’s fine, but I wouldn’t trust my life to it” Krang told him. “Try my own mek’leth sometime and you’ll understand the difference.” “I’ll do that.” “That sword though, I’d like to try it properly.” Krang said “Are you trained in its use or is it just an ornament?” Captain Mackenzie shook his head. “No, I know how to use it.” Going back to his desk, he brought up the holodeck schedule on the screen and checked it. “Why don’t you get your weapons and then you can try the katana. If you have the time, there’s a holodeck free.” Krang gave a fierce smile, “For a weapon such as that one, I’ll make time.” He hit his combadge contacting his ship. “Captain Krang to Kargan.” When the first officer answered, Krang asked him to send someone to his quarters and have his batleth and mek’leth beamed over to Endeavour. Kargan agreed cheerfully and a few minutes later the Endeavour’s transporter room called to report their arrival. Smiling in anticipation of the match, the two men headed off to the holodeck. ~~~<>~~~ 69


Krang stretched himself out on the hard metal slab that Klingons euphemistically called a bed. His muscles ached and he half wished he had accepted the pillow that Kay’vin had jokingly offered him. The Terran captain had turned out to be a worthy opponent and the two men had spent most of the afternoon in the holodeck. After an hour or so learning the basics of the katana, Krang had suggested trying it out against both the batleth and the mek’leth. The katana had proved to be a match for the Klingon’s weapons and Captain Mackenzie really did know how to fight although he had conceded Krang’s point about the quality of his mek’leth. They had started off using their own weapons but after a while, to complicate things, they had swapped swords, each using the other’s weapon. It had been a particularly strenuous and very satisfying session. Each of them had learned from the encounter and they were looking forward to the next match. Kay’vin hadn’t been so far wrong - he had grown soft, he reflected. He had been too long in the Federation and had become accustomed to the softness and ease of Federation life. He smiled, imagining his Terragnan wife’s reaction if she were asked to sleep on a metal slab each night instead of the comfortable bed they shared. And if he were honest, he had come to enjoy that comfort. It had been several weeks since he had taken over the captaincy of the IKC Hegh’Ta and it felt good to be living as a Klingon warrior again. It felt good to wear the Klingon uniform again, to live among Klingon warriors, to eat Klingon food – and especially to go into glorious battle against the enemies of the Klingon Empire. Finally, he felt, he was where he belonged.

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Shocked, he sat bolt upright – where had that treacherous thought come from? It had been his choice to leave the Empire and serve with the Federation. And he had a wife and children, whom he loved deeply. He could not even begin to imagine living without them. So why was he feeling like this? Annoyed with himself, he stretched out again and attempted to sleep. Any chance of sleep however, was disrupted by the shrill whistle of the communications panel on the wall and Kargan’s voice calling his name. “Captain, there is a call for you from Captain Mackenzie of the Endeavour.” “Are we under attack? Krang asked grumpily. “No, sir.” “Then it can wait until morning.” To Krang’s surprise, his first officer did not back down, but insisted, “Captain, I really think you should take this call.” Krang sighed. “Very well. I’m on my way.” ~~~<>~~~ On board the Endeavour, a communiqué had arrived from Starfleet headquarters. Kehlan, who had remained on duty that night, noticed the priority one coding and immediately opened the message. What she read left her shocked and disturbed. Captain Mackenzie was not going to like this – and Captain Krang would be devastated. Deciding it could not wait until morning, she immediately went into the ready room and called the captain, awakening him from sleep. Hearing the tension in Kehlan’s voice, he asked no questions and only a few minutes later he had joined her in his office. Quietly she handed him the message.

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Captain Mackenzie read the communiqué. For a moment he remained silent, digesting its contents. Then he turned to his half Klingon first officer, saying “Isn’t that where Captain Krang comes from?” At Kehlan’s nod, he asked, “Are there any casualty lists yet? Kehlan handed him the lists, wordlessly pointing to a group of names about a third of the way down the list. “INIGAN – HOUSE OF: Christa Martinez, Antonio Martinez, Josefina Martinez, Kara, Kehlan, Meren.” The captain looked at her enquiringly. Seeing the unspoken question, she answered dully, “Captain Krang’s wife and children.” Captain Mackenzie was shocked. “Oh God!” Suddenly shaking, Kehlan turned her back on the captain, and covering her face with her hands in a vain attempt to stop the tears, she said in a low voice, “Chrissie was my friend.” He stepped towards Kehlan, putting a sympathetic hand on her shoulder, not knowing what to say. Grateful for his strength, she leaned back against him. Turning her to face him, he wrapped his arms around her and held her for a moment, letting her grieve before gently releasing her. With a visible effort, Kehlan pulled herself together, saying, “I should tell Krang.” “I’ll do it” the captain said, “You should go and get some rest. That’s an order!” He watched as Kehlan nodded and left the bridge, then activated the communications system and hailed the Hegh’Ta. ~~~<>~~~ Back on the Hegh’Ta, Krang pulled on his uniform and headed to the bridge. As the bridge doors opened, he 72


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could see on the viewscreen the image of Captain Mackenzie, waiting patiently for him. This must be important he realised, the other captain looked dishevelled and had obviously been recently aroused from sleep himself. ”NuqneH?” Krang asked brusquely, “What do you want, James? “I’m sorry to wake you, Krang” the other captain said gravely, “But I’m afraid this can’t wait.” He hesitated, “There’s no easy way to tell you this, but…” “But what? What’s happened?” Krang exploded, suddenly very worried. The words “sorry…”, “I’m afraid…”, “no easy way…” echoed in his ears. It was not like Captain Mackenzie to beat around the bush – something had to be seriously wrong, “In Kahless’ name, James, whatever it is, just tell me!” The Terran captain took a deep breath before answering, “There has been a Jem’Hadar incursion. A fleet got through our defences and attacked Frontera. We’ve lost a lot of lives.” Krang’s face whitened. “My family are on Frontera! Do you know if…” He was unable to finish. Captain Mackenzie nodded, “Krang my friend, I’m so sorry.” “Dead?” Krang shook his head in shock and disbelief. “All of them? Chrissie? The children?” Looking at the other man, Krang could see the stark truth in his eyes. His family, his entire family were gone. They were dead, all of them and he was not. He had been off fighting battles and enjoying himself; he had left his family unprotected and they had paid the price. Unable to bear the sympathy

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of the Federation Captain, Krang swore and cut the connection. For long minutes, he stood motionless, unable to think or function, just staring unseeingly at the blank viewscreen. The duty officers knew better than to say anything and they waited silently for the storm. It was not long in coming. Roaring his anger, Krang turned and banged his gauntleted fists down on the console nearest to him, striking it again and again, until the console cracked and violet blood dripped from his hands. Turning to the now thoroughly nervous helm officer, he snarled, “Turn the ship around!” “Sir?” Ensign Krell hesitated. He did not want to argue with the grief-stricken captain, but the ship was under orders to return to Qo’noS and he was unsure what to do. “I said, turn the ship around!” Krang shouted, taking a threatening step towards the helmsman. Kargan intervened then, stepping between them and distracting his captain from the luckless junior officer. Krang swung with his d’k’tahg at the first officer who deftly avoided the blow. “If killing me will make you feel better, then do it” Kargan invited him, his voice calm, “But my death won’t bring your family back – and it won’t avenge them.” As the first officer’s words penetrated through the thick fog of pain and grief, the blood rage slowly drained from Krang and he stared in surprise at the knife in his hand as though he had never seen it before.

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“Turn the ship around!” Krang repeated for the second time. “We have orders to return to Qo’noS” Kargan stated, keeping his tone calm and reasonable. Krang gestured towards the rear of the ship. “The enemy is that way. I’m going after them.” He paused, “Are you with me?” Kargan stared at the captain for a moment, then seeing the enquiring look the helm officer was giving him, he confirmed the captain’s order. “Turn the ship around. Today we go hunting!” Krang returned to the captain’s chair and sat down. “Send a message to the Endeavour” he said, “Tell them what we are doing and order them to return to Federation space.” The message sent, the bird-of-prey began to turn around, its crew ready and eager to hunt Jem’Hadar. Moments later a return message came from the captain of the Endeavour. “nIteb Qob qwaD jup ‘e’ chaw’be’ SuvwI – A warrior does not let a friend face danger alone!” As Krang read out the message, the bridge erupted in cheers and the two ships, Endeavour and Hegh’Ta, flew side by side, back into Dominion controlled space.

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Chapter 9

Not surprisingly, it was the Endeavour that first picked up signs of the Cardassian Galor class cruiser coming in their general direction. The Federation starship, especially with the modifications Kehlan had made to the system, had far better long range sensors than the Hegh’Ta. Immediately the enemy ship was detected, Captain Mackenzie called for a meeting and the senior officers of both ships once again gathered around the table in Endeavour’s observation lounge. Endeavour was a much bigger ship than Hegh’Ta, and under-crewed as she was, there was no shortage of space on board – something the Klingon officers had taken advantage of, regularly making use of the gymnasiums and holodecks for training and exercise whenever their off duty hours allowed. As soon as he was informed of the Cardassian vessel, Krang ordered his ship to cloak and began to piece together the idea that was forming in his head. The enemy ship had not yet detected them although it was now only a matter of time and to carry off his plan they needed to take

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the Cardassians by surprise. His idea was audacious and highly dangerous but if it succeeded it would benefit them greatly. He just had to persuade the Federation captain to go along with it. “I propose that we send a boarding party” Krang said, “If we catch them by surprise I see no reason why we couldn’t take the ship intact.” “The Cardassians are good fighters” Major Speares said, liking the suggestion, “but it’s nothing my marines can’t handle. In fact we’d be glad of a bit of action; I’m getting bored of simulations.” “This is crazy” Argyle, Endeavour’s chief engineer, protested, “We should just blow them out of the sky and be done with it.” “Maybe we should let Captain Krang explain” Captain Mackenzie said. His tone made it an order rather than a suggestion. “I assume he has good reasons for suggesting it and not just a desire for some hand to hand combat.” “You already know I have a background in intelligence work” Krang responded, “If I can get onto the bridge I should be able to access their computer system.” “The information would certainly be useful to us.” Captain Mackenzie agreed, “You’ll need to be in command of the boarding party then.” “Captain, your place is on Hegh’Ta’s bridge” Kargan protested, “I should be the one to lead the away team.” Krang shook his head, “I’m sorry Kargan, not this time. You’re not an I.I. agent. You don’t have the skills or experience to complete this mission – and neither does Koreq. It has to be me who goes. You will take command of Hegh’Ta while I’m gone.”

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“I still don’t approve” Kargan said stubbornly. “You don’t have to approve” Krang snarled, “But you will obey my orders or I will have you replaced.” “Yes sir” Kargan said, subsiding. He knew that in his current mood, the captain was capable of carrying through on his threat and he had no desire to die just yet. Captain Mackenzie considered his own options. He would have very much liked to be part of the away team, but unlike his Klingon counterpart, he could not justify leaving his ship during a battle. Krang had no choice, nobody else had the necessary security background to break into the Cardassian computer systems and access their intelligence network. “Major Speares, you’ll lead the Endeavour’s team” he told the marine officer. “Captain Krang will be in charge of the mission, you’ll answer to him.” “I’d like to borrow Kehlan” the Klingon captain requested, “Her science skills will be useful to me.” “Agreed” Captain Mackenzie said. Getting up he moved over to the viewscreen on the wall and activated a schematic of a Galor class ship. “We need to concentrate our fire on the ship’s shield generator, located here.” He indicated the appropriate spot on the diagram before continuing, “Once the shields drop we’re going to have to lower our own shields momentarily to transport across. I suggest that all troops depart from Hegh’Ta, it has a faster transporter cycle than Endeavour. We’ll beam a party direct to their bridge, and also one to engineering.” Krang stood up and moved across to join the Federation captain. “I suggest we put teams here and here as well” he said, pointing to several spots on the schematic. “Vareq, tell the troops to use mek’leths.

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There’s no room to swing a batleth properly in those corridors. I also want both Starfleet and Klingon marines issued with personal oxygen supplies; they’re going to need them.” “I think that’s everything we need to cover” Captain Mackenzie said, bringing the meeting to a conclusion. “You all know your duties. Dismissed.” ~~~<>~~~ Captain Mackenzie was in the transporter room having a last minute discussion with his marine commander as they inspected the troops waiting to beam over to Hegh’Ta. The doors swished open as his first officer stalked into the room. Kehlan had changed into her Klingon armour and carried a mek’leth in one hand and a disruptor in the other. As well as her d’k’tahg she also had a vicious looking qut’luch tucked into her belt. The leather armour, unlike that worn by the male officers, clung to her curves and revealed plenty of cleavage, rather more than he considered strictly appropriate. She carried herself with all the pride and assurance of the Klingon warrior she was and the captain found he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. He frowned, forcing himself to look away. Kehlan was his first officer and he knew his reaction was not only inappropriate but ill timed, he didn’t need this sort of distraction just before a battle. He was annoyed to see that the marines were reacting similarly. “ATTENTION” he snapped, not liking the way the other men were staring at her “Eyes front.” Major Speares raised an eyebrow at the captain’s sudden display of bad temper but didn’t comment, simply carrying on with his inspection. “All present and correct, Sir” he reported finally, “Marine Corps ready for action.”

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Captain Mackenzie gave a curt acknowledgement before instructing the team to beam across to the Klingon ship. He watched as the transporter beam took effect and the troops vanished, before heading back to the bridge. Everything seemed to happen very fast after that. In no time at all the Cardassian cruiser was on them and they were under attack. As Endeavour swept down on the cruiser, Hegh’Ta decloaked directly above it, the two ships coordinating their attack in an effort to bring down the enemy’s shield generator. From the way the Hegh’Ta was manoeuvring, almost dancing in and out of the enemy firing pattern, it was obvious that Kargan had to be at the helm. Even so, it was going to take all Kargan’s considerable skill to keep the bird-of-prey out of range of the Cardassian weapons when the time came for the boarding party to transport. It was almost time, Captain Mackenzie thought as Ch’Pesh shouted, “Captain, Enemy shields are fluctuating. I’m reading a forty eight percent power drain.” “Prepare to fire again” the captain ordered, “On my command, hit that ship with everything we’ve got.” He watched the tactical display carefully and as Hegh’Ta came round in a graceful turn, its disruptor cannons firing. The enemy shields flickered, the generators unable to cope with the combined fire power of the two ships concentrated in the one spot. “Ready…” he warned the crew, “almost there. On my mark…” There was just the faintest flicker as Hegh’Ta dropped its shields to allow transport. “NOW!” Captain Mackenzie said, his voice almost a shout. Every weapon the Endeavour had, went tearing into the Cardassian ship, this time aimed at the weapons

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ports. The cruiser lurched heavily as torpedoes exploded along its length and deadly phaser beams cut into its weapons array, preventing it from firing with any accuracy at the temporarily defenceless Heghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ta. A full minute passed before the bird-of-prey was able to raise its shields again and just as it did so, the Cardassian cruiser stopped firing, its crew suddenly too preoccupied with the invaders to man the guns. ~~~<>~~~ Krang materialised on the bridge of the Cardassian cruiser, mekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;leth in one hand, disruptor in the other. Raising his weapon, he fired it, taking down a Cardassian who, reacting more quickly than his compatriots, was already firing his own disruptor. At the same time, barely turning, he lashed out to one side with his mekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;leth at a second Cardassian, slicing open his abdomen. As the screaming man fell, writhing on the floor, a second blow finished him. Stepping over the fallen enemy, Krang headed towards the nearest console. Around him, he was aware of his fellow Klingons spreading out and attacking the other bridge officers. He knew also that all over the ship, other groups were materialising, their aim to keep the enemy too busy to send reinforcements to the bridge. Shoving his disruptor back in his belt he gave his full attention to the control panel in front of him. He had to trust his men now, to do their job and defend him. He was not here to fight, however much he wanted to, but to obtain the information they had come for and that would need all his concentration. A Cardassian ran at him, firing his disruptor and a Klingon soldier screamed, falling to the ground as the deadly energy beam burned a hole in his chest. Krang

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glanced up, ready to defend himself but it proved unnecessary. Kehlan stepped in front of him, lashing out with her mek’leth, her blow cutting through the Cardassian’s wrist. The man stared at his hand as it lay on the floor still gripping the disruptor, too shocked even to cry out. Kehlan whirled, striking again and her second blow sliced open his throat. Krang’s work went surprisingly well in the end. They had taken the Cardassians by surprise and they had had no time to lock down or booby trap the systems. They were password protected of course, but to an operative as experienced as he was, slipping through the layers of security protocols was, while not exactly easy, certainly achievable. “Qapla!” he muttered as the system finally accepted his codes and opened for his inspection. Working quickly he began to download information onto his specially modified tricorder. Peripherally aware that the sounds of fighting were beginning to die down, Krang looked up, in time to see Vareq’s mek’leth dispatch the final defender. His tricorder bleeped then and he turned his attention back to it. “QI’yah Ha’DibaHmey” he swore, “They are attempting to re-route bridge controls to engineering” “I’ll deal with it” Kehlan said, her voice calm as she seated herself at the Cardassian science officer’s station and began to work the controls. “Captain” One of his men, standing at a panel on the other side of the bridge, attracted his attention, “I think the self destruct has been armed.” Immediately Krang was at his side, reading the flowing Cardassian script illuminated on the panel. “I can

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fix that” he said confidently, his fingers manipulating the screen even as he spoke. He swore again as the system resisted his attempt to stop the countdown. “Try cross connecting the auxiliary power line with the main engineering console” Kehlan told him, not even noticing that she was giving orders to a senior officer. “Then, tie in the command system… That’s it, the one to your left.” Krang acknowledged, doing as she had said, “Got it” he said, satisfied as the panel went dark. Then turning to his second officer, he instructed, “Vareq, take a squad to engineering and back up the Federation team. Once you get down there, I want the rest of the ship vented to vacuum.” Vareq quickly organised his men, leaving enough soldiers to guard the bridge and taking the rest with him. Before long he had reported back. “Engineering is secure, Captain” he said, his voice crackling through the comm. system. The ship is ours. All non secured areas have been vented as ordered.” “Any prisoners?” Krang asked as he disconnected his tricorder from the ship’s computer system and put it back on his belt. “Yes sir, a few” Vareq said, sounding disgusted at their cowardice. A Klingon of course, would die before being taken prisoner. “One of them is a Vorta!” “A Vorta?” Krang was surprised but pleased, “Well done, Vareq. Have Koreq beam over and question them. Keep the Vorta alive afterwards – the others can be disposed of.” Kehlan stared at him, shocked at the ruthlessness of the order, which was in direct contravention of Starfleet 83


directives regarding prisoners. And despite appearances, Krang was still a Starfleet officer. “Sir, Captain Mackenzie said…” She was given no chance to finish. “I am in command of this mission” Krang snarled. “You will obey me.” A little more gently, he continued, “Kehlan, we can’t take them with us and we certainly can’t let them go. It’s best to give them a quick death once we’ve finished interrogating them.” “You know it’s against Starfleet regulations” Kehlan persisted. “And even if it weren’t, there is no honour in executing prisoners.” Krang gave an infuriated growl, but he knew she was correct. “Belay the last part of that order, Vareq” he snapped, “Keep the prisoners alive – for now.” ~~~<>~~~ Immediately Kehlan rematerialised on Endeavour’s transporter pad, she went straight to the captain’s ready room to make her report. A lot had happened on the Cardassian cruiser and the captain needed to know about it straight away. She was particularly concerned about the situation regarding the prisoners. In his current mood, the Klingon captain was unlikely to show them any mercy, despite his promise to keep them alive. She knew Koreq’s methods of interrogation and knew also that Krang would authorise the use of the agoniser and maybe even the mind-sifter. While she was Klingon enough not to care, those devices were illegal in the Federation and she suspected that Captain Mackenzie would have strong views on the subject of torture. Maybe it was for the best if she didn’t tell him, she thought, sensing that it could cause trouble between the two captains. Finally she

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decided that she had to tell him everything. He was her captain and where there was a conflict between the Defence Force and Starfleet, her loyalty was, had to be, to him. Listening to her report, Captain Mackenzie stopped her several times, asking questions and clarifying points that interested him. “I will not allow the prisoners to be executed” he told her. “However, Hegh’Ta is a Klingon ship and we are way outside Federation space. I have no jurisdiction there.” “Then you condone torture?” Kehlan snarled, not caring that she was allowing her anger and disappointment to show. She had expected better of him. “You will speak to me with respect” he snapped, “No Kehlan, I do not condone torture.” Pulling out a padd from the pile on his desk, he activated it and then threw it down in front of her. “Read it.” Kehlan stared at him, making no move to touch the padd. She had never seen him so angry. “I said read it” he demanded harshly. Slowly she reached out and took the padd. It was a copy of a message sent only a few minutes before her arrival, to the Klingon captain, reminding Krang that he was still a Starfleet officer and bound by Federation rules of conduct. It listed the regulations concerning the treatment of prisoners and asked the Klingon to abide by them. Kehlan put the padd down again and looked at him, not knowing what to say. Seeing that she understood her error, he told her “Krang sent a message informing me about the prisoners.

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That was my response. I do not and will not condone torture. But we do need whatever information those prisoners have and if Krang chooses to ignore my request, there is nothing I can do except file a complaint that changes nothing.” “I was in error” she told him steadily, “I will accept whatever punishment you consider fitting.” “You still don’t understand, do you Kehlan” he said passionately, “Do you really think so little of me? What sort of man do you believe me to be?” With that last question, it suddenly became personal, no longer an argument between captain and first officer, but between man and woman. He was still angry with her, she realised, and with good reason. Yet it was a controlled anger. There was a fire in him now and she found it excited her. She hesitated before answering him, unsure of how best to put her feelings into words. “I know that you are a man I respect and trust” she said finally, “I will try harder to understand you as well.” Suddenly restless, the Terran captain stood up and moved round his desk, approaching his first officer. He was beginning to have problems concentrating on their argument. All sorts of inappropriate ideas were going through his mind. He shouldn’t be thinking like this, he told himself, Kehlan had earned his respect, even if she did not always understand him, and she deserved better than to be ogled in this way. At least there were no marines here this time, he thought ruefully. He was going to have to ban her from wearing her Klingon armour on board Endeavour, it was just too distracting, and it wasn’t as if she could possibly return his interest. Could she?

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Kehlan stared at the captain, wondering if she was imagining things. Was Captain Mackenzie actually attracted to her or was she reading something that wasn’t there? She had little experience with Terran males – they seemed to be far more subtle than their Klingon counterparts. If he was interested though, he obviously wasn’t going to make the first move. That was up to her. Abruptly she acted, hoping she hadn’t misread his interest in her. With a sudden motion, she pushed him back against the wall and pinned him there, the blade of her d’k’tahg at his throat. She had caught him by surprise. For long moments he did not move, and she wondered if he had understood her invitation. His eyes darkened as he looked down at her and slowly his hand came up to touch her, his fingers caressing the hand that held the knife at his throat. Oh yes, she thought, he understood, but what would he do? She got her answer when, in a blur of motion, he neatly reversed their positions and it was her turn to find herself pinned against the wall. He was very close to her now, his body pressed against hers, so close that the metal trim on her armour was cutting into his uniform. He had one hand on her wrist, pressing hard enough to make her gasp in pain and drop the knife. The other hand had a stranglehold on her neck. Slowly, so slowly, he lowered his head until his lips were almost touching hers. There was a shrill whistle as the comm. system activated, “Krang to Captain Mackenzie” “yIntagh!” With a muttered Klingon curse he had learned from his fellow captain, he released his first officer and stepped back. Touching his badge, he almost snarled, “What do you want, Krang?”

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“We’ve recovered some very interesting data from the Cardassian ship” Krang’s voice came over clearly on the comm. system. “I think you should come over and take a look.” “On my way” the Terran responded, “Captain Mackenzie out.” Turning back to his first officer he said, “Have dinner with me tonight. My quarters at 20:00.” With a mischievous grin, he added, “That’s an order” and with that, he turned and left the room.

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Chapter 10

After a long discussion about the data they had recovered from the Cardassian cruiser, the two captains called a meeting of their senior officers. Once the Klingon officers had beamed across to the Endeavour and joined their Federation counterparts in the Observation lounge, the meeting began in earnest. “As you are already aware, we have been examining the intelligence gathered from the Cardassian ship” Captain Mackenzie began. “And we’ve found something that interests us very much.” “It appears” Krang continued, “that there is a Jem’Hadar weapons production facility within easy travelling distance of our current coordinates.” He looked around the gathered officers before saying, “It is our intention to find and destroy the base.” “A base like that would be well defended” Captain Mackenzie said, “So it’s going to be difficult to get close enough to do any damage. Hegh’Ta can cloak of course,

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but unless you engineers can find a way to cloak the Endeavour, that’s not much use to us.” “Then we cloak the Endeavour” Kerrik, the Klingon engineer said. He picked up a padd and programming the schematics of the cloaking device, handed it to his Terran counterpart, Chief Argyle. The burly Scotsman read through the data and regretfully shook his head. “It won’t work” he said, “Fitting a Klingon cloaking device from scratch would mean a complete shutdown of the primary and secondary power systems.” “How long are we talking?” queried.

Captain Mackenzie

“Without a dry dock, at least a week” Argyle answered, “And before you ask, no that doesn’t mean if you hassle me I can do it in a day.” “So we can’t install a cloak on Endeavour” Kehlan said thoughtfully, “But what if we could make Hegh’Ta’s cloak fit both ships? She was still wearing her Klingon armour, having had no time to go back to her quarters and change back into Starfleet uniform. Captain Mackenzie found himself wondering if she would actually come to his quarters that evening and what he would do if she did. Forcibly he turned his thoughts away from his attractive first officer and back to the issues being discussed. Both engineers turned to Kehlan in surprise. “I wonder…” said Kerrik, reaching for the padd again and tapping in some fresh data. “We’d have to merge the shields first. Then that just may trick the cloak into thinking there’s only one ship.” “That’s so crazy it might actually work” Argyle said, “Assuming of course that the shield technology is 90


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compatible.” He grinned at the Klingon engineer, “And if it’s not, we’ll just have to make it compatible.” “It will be.” Kehlan told them, “But it’s going to mean flying close together, well within recommended safety limits.” “How close is close?” Captain Mackenzie asked warily. “If my calculations are correct” Kehlan said calmly, “Hegh’Ta will need to be no more than ten metres above the Endeavour.” There was a silence as the assembled officers took this in. A ten metre distance between the ships wasn’t just dangerous, it was suicidal. Anything could go wrong and it would take only the slightest error on the part of the pilots for the two vessels to collide, causing massive damage. Then Kargan spoke for the first time. “I can do it.” The Klingon first officer said confidently, “I’ll take the helm of Hegh’Ta. Ch’Pesh is pretty good, he should be able to handle the Endeavour.” “Having two pilots isn’t going to work” Kehlan said, “We’ll have to slave the helm system of one ship to the other.” Captain Mackenzie nodded, “I agree. Kargan, are you sure you can handle both ships?” “Yes, I’m sure.” “Kargan is a good pilot” Krang said, “I trust him to do this. I would suggest however, that you put a failsafe into the system, so that if anything goes wrong Endeavour can take back control.”

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“That sounds reasonable” Captain Mackenzie said. “Before I dismiss you, does anyone have any other points to raise?” “There is one other thing” Vareq said, “What about the Cardassian ship?” The two captains looked at each other. They had discussed this issue in depth and were in agreement that it should be sent back to allied space with a prize crew. The enemy ship was a far greater prize than they could ever have realised when they began the attack. The Vorta had been installing a Breen energy weapon on board, and while the installation was not complete, the Breen device had not been damaged in the fighting. If they could get it back to Starfleet it would be a major coup. The disposition of the prisoners had not been so easy to resolve and the two captains had almost come to blows. Krang still believed that the most expedient solution was to kill them. “We cannot keep them indefinitely in either Endeavour or Hegh’Ta’s brig” he had pointed out, “And if we’re sending the cruiser back to the Federation they can’t stay on board there either – if anything went wrong they’d seriously outnumber the prize crew.” “There’s an uninhabited class M planet not far away” Captain Mackenzie told him, “I say we dump them there.” “It’s too big a risk” Krang argued, “We might as well just inform the Dominion ourselves of our battle plans.” On this issue though, the Terran captain had refused to compromise. “Well, we’re not going to leave them any communications devices, or any other technology for that matter” he said passionately, “Krang, can’t you see? What you’re suggesting is wrong. It’s immoral. It’s dishonourable. It diminishes us and brings us down to

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their level. And if we’re no better than the Dominion, what are we fighting for?” Seeing that the Federation captain would not be moved, Krang was forced to agree. In his time as Captain of Security, he had on more than one occasion given orders for executions to be carried out, and sometimes he had carried out those executions himself. Although it was not something he liked doing, it did not worry him. He did it because it was his job and it had to be done. He still believed that releasing the prisoners was a mistake but he had great respect for Captain Mackenzie and he did not want to endanger their friendship. Once all this was decided, the question had been who could they put in charge of the cruiser? Under normal circumstances, it would be the second officer’s responsibility but neither captain could afford to lose more members of their senior crew. In the end, they had decided to send a detachment of Klingon marines under the command of Endeavour’s communications officer. “Lieutenant Palin is the obvious choice to take it back” Captain Mackenzie said, “He speaks Cardassian and Klingon, as well as several Federation languages.” Seeing the disappointment on the faces of some of the crew who had been hoping that this would be their first command, Krang said, “For obvious reasons it can’t be Kehlan or Kargan. And, I’m sorry Vareq, but I can’t afford to let you go, much as you deserve it. I need you here.” “Well, if that’s settled and there’s nothing else to discuss” Captain Mackenzie added, “I suggest we break up this meeting and let our engineers get on with their work.”

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~~~<>~~~ It took several hours for Kerrik and Chief Argyle to make the necessary alterations to the ships’ systems. It was a dangerous time for the two ships as the engineers had to take all the power systems off line and without propulsion, sensors or weapons, they were vulnerable to attack. But eventually the work was done and the two vessels were moving again and heading towards the target. There were still some minor adjustments to make but these could be done while the ships were under way. As Krang sat in the captain’s chair, his mind began to wander. Chrissie was dead, his children were dead and he would never see them again. Would they be waiting for him in Sto-Vo-Kor, he wondered? She had died in battle but she was not Klingon – would the warriors of the Black Fleet allow her entrance? If she was not there, then he knew he would rather spend eternity riding the Barge of the Dead to Gre’thor with the dishonoured dead. His Chrissie had been a gentle soul, an unlikely partner for a Klingon warrior, but when aroused she had had a formidable temper. He couldn’t help smiling as he remembered the first time she had used a batleth. It had happened almost four years ago, back on the USS Enterprise. Krang had been in gymnasium number three with the two older children, giving them a lesson in the use of the batleth. He had been engaged in a mock battle with the boy, demonstrating a simple blocking motion as Fina watched, when his wife had entered looking for them. “What’s going on?” she had asked, approaching and grabbing the weapon from her son. “You know I don’t want him learning violence.”

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Krang laughed. Our son is growing. He must learn to be a warrior.” “My son is not Klingon!” Chrissie yelled, beginning to get really angry. At that point, Krang had demonstrated his complete lack of understanding of Terran women. Trying to soothe her, he said in a reasonable tone, “You are a woman, you don’t understand such things.” Chrissie lost her temper, and only half aware of the batleth still in her hand, she swung for him. Sheer instinct saved Krang, for he was so surprised that he barely reacted in time, flinching back as the blade whizzed past his head, missing by a hair’s breadth. As the Klingon stared at her in total shock, Chrissie realised just how close she had come to decapitating him. Recovering, he grabbed hold of her and kissed her soundly, saying, “Kahless! You’re magnificent!” But Chrissie was still angry. Pulling away, she slapped his face, hard and was surprised when he just kissed her again. “Toni, Fina” Chrissie snapped, “Go back to your rooms.” “Oh, momma! Why?” the children protested, disappointed. They were enjoying the display. “Because I’m going to kill your father” she snapped, “Now go!” Krang, trying hard not to laugh himself as the children ran out giggling, lifted his batleth and waited for his wife to attack. She swung her batleth clumsily, bringing it up and over, towards his head. He countered and the weapons 95


clashed. Allowing her to attack again and again, he continued to effortlessly repel her onslaught. An experienced weapons master, Krang was in no danger from a complete beginner like Chrissie, but he could see that she was starting to enjoy herself and he could not help but react to her nearness. “You’re doing well for a beginner” he encouraged her, “but don’t hold your blade so tightly.” Seeing her loosen her grip slightly, he continued to instruct her, “That’s good. Now, bring your blade a little higher…” As she began to slow, Krang switched from the defensive and began to press home his own attack, pushing her slowly backwards. He kept his moves slow and deliberate, all the time ready to pull back should she fail to counter him. The batleths they were using were real, not holodeck weapons and were capable of killing. He was aroused and excited, a Klingon warrior doing battle with his mate, but he was conscious of her inexperience and did not want to hurt her. Krang eventually moved in to end the fight and suddenly Chrissie found herself pinned to the wall, the points of the batleth dangerously close to her throat. She stared at him, finally beginning to understand why battle so often formed part of the Klingon mating ritual. Krang moved closer until his body was pressed against hers – she was breathing hard and he could feel her heart beating, like a startled bird, against his chest. He sniffed the air. Her scent was intoxicating, clouding his mind with desire. He almost missed the flicker in her eyes as with a laugh, she suddenly raised her knee, intending to catch him in the groin, but he danced backwards and she missed. “Chrissie-oy” he said huskily, “You’ll have to do better than that.” Taking hold of her he pulled her into his

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arms and they tumbled together to the ground, landing on the padded mat. Rolling, he pinned her beneath him and kissed her again. Chrissie responded ardently and for long moments they remained like that, but then she began to wriggle, managing to pull away from him enough to gasp, “Krang, the door. Anyone could walk in.” Krang froze but did not release her. Looking up, towards the still open door, he said “Computer, lock door.” “Unable to comply” the computer replied, its mechanical voice sounding insufferably smug, “Locking the gymnasium door is in direct contravention of health and safety regulations.” “ghuy’cha’ regulations!” Krang swore. override, authorisation Krang delta six.”

“Security

“Locking gymnasium doors.” Satisfied, Krang turned his attention back to his wife… Kargan’s voice cut into his reverie. Captain, are you all right?”

“Captain?

Krang felt a moment of confusion. The doors were locked – how could Kargan be there? “Captain?” Coming back to the bitter present, Krang remembered that he was on the bridge of the Hegh’Ta, not in the gymnasium with Chrissie. With a pang of grief, he looked up at the concerned face of his first officer. “I’m all right.” Krang said harshly, “What did you want?”

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“The engineers have finished their work” Kargan told him patiently. “It’s time to engage the cloak for the trial run.” “Very well” Krang responded, knowing he was lucky to have such a loyal first officer. But he would have to pull himself together or Kargan would challenge him for the captaincy, and rightly so – a distracted captain was a danger to the crew under his command. “Is the Endeavour ready?” “Yes, sir. Standing by.” “Then get the ships into formation and activate cloaking device.” Kargan did not point out that the ships were already in formation and were only awaiting the Captain’s order. He said simply, “Aye sir.” The shields of the two ships met and merged into one, allowing the Hegh’Ta’s cloak to form around both vessels. Flying together in close formation, the Hegh’Ta only a few metres above the Endeavour, the ships continued towards the Jem’Hadar weapons production facility that was their target. ~~~<>~~~ Captain Mackenzie went off duty a couple of hours early that evening leaving the bridge in the capable hands of Major Speares. Changing out of his uniform into something more comfortable, he went over to the replicator and asked for several ingredients. Taking them into the little galley he had had installed in his quarters when he first took command of Endeavour, he began to peel and chop, getting ready to prepare one of his favourite meals, a highly spiced curry that he was fairly sure his half Klingon first officer would enjoy. He swore 98


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as the juices from the replicated onions stung his eyes, sometimes the replicator could be a little too authentic. Why was he doing this anyway, he asked himself, going to all this effort when he didn’t even know if she would turn up. Oh, he had jokingly made it an order, but that was meaningless. Then he remembered the look in her eyes as she had held her knife to his throat and he knew it was worth the risk. As for the onions, well he’d chop every last one in the damned quadrant if that’s what it took to win her affection. Once he had the curry simmering, he turned his attention to the rest of the meal. Something to drink, he thought, considering his options. Champagne – or was that too obvious? No, it had to be the champagne, especially since he had a bottle of the real thing stashed away, waiting for a special occasion. And what about dessert? That was a little easier, he had never yet met a woman who didn’t like chocolate. It would have to be replicated of course, his culinary skills weren’t up to preparing a chocolate cake from scratch. At exactly 20:00, his doorbell chimed and he went to the door to greet his guest, suddenly feeling nervous. The door opened and Kehlan entered his room. “Reporting as ordered, sir” she said, with a mischievous grin; she had known his order was unenforceable and had chosen to obey it anyway. She had finally changed out of her armour, he noticed, but she was still out of uniform. She was wearing a simple wraparound dress in the softest pale brown suede. It revealed nothing yet suggested everything and the captain reflected that his wish for her not to wear the armour had backfired. He had never seen her looking so pretty. It wasn’t a word usually used to describe a Klingon woman, but at this moment, it suited her. In fact, he thought, she was more than just pretty, she 99


was sexy and beautiful and he was very conscious of just how easy it would be to remove that wrap and… Kehlan looked around her, curious. The captain’s quarters were bigger than hers and more homely, little personal touches here and there giving them a relaxed, comfortable feel. Her own rooms, although equally comfortable had little in the way of decoration. She had almost no personal possessions to call her own, just her weapons and her science books. Something smelt good and seeing the pans simmering in the little galley, she raised an eyebrow – that certainly wasn’t regulation issue. “I’ve been cooking all afternoon” Captain Mackenzie said, handing her a glass of champagne, “So I hope you’re hungry.” She smiled up at him, “If that tastes as good as it smells” she answered, “Then yes, I’m hungry.” “It’ll be ready in just a few minutes” he told her. Indicating the table, laden with cutlery and a bunch of flowers stolen from the ship’s arboretum, he added, “Go and sit down and I’ll bring it over to you.” He was as good as his word. After just a minute, he brought over platefuls of food and put one in front of her. Then he sat down, joining her at the table. Tasting the food and finding it to her liking, Kehlan said appreciatively, “This is good, Captain” “We’re off duty” he told her, “And in private. Will you not call me James?” “Very well” she said, “James. Tell me, what do you call this dish?” They took a long time over dinner, talking as they ate, getting to know each other and laughing and joking. They 100


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found they had a lot in common and slowly Kehlan began to relax. The year she had spent on Earth had not prepared her for this and she was still unsure of what was expected of her. The Klingon way was much more direct. She decided that since they were doing this Terran style she would let him show her what he wanted â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it was up to him to make the first move this time. In the meantime, she was enjoying their evening together and hoped they would repeat it. Eventually he did make his move, but not until much later when Kehlan had finally got up to leave. Pulling Kehlanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body against him, he bent his head to hers, and for the first time, kissed her. It felt good and he wanted more. Remembering their encounter in his office earlier that morning he hoped fervently that this time no-one would disturb them. His prayers were answered. This time there were no interruptions.

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Chapter 11

Kehlan awoke late the following morning. Her eyes still closed, she stretched out, wondering why her body ached all over. The bed felt so soft and comfortable and she turned over, snuggling into its warmth. Soft? Comfortable? This wasn’t right – the first thing she had done on being assigned quarters was to arrange for a much firmer mattress. Confused, she opened her eyes and sat up, realising she was not even in her own quarters. Then the memories began to come back. She was still in the captain’s quarters, having spent the night with the Federation captain. She smiled at the memory – no wonder her body felt sore. She looked around for him, but she was alone in the room. The captain had gone. But on the pillow next to her he had left a red flower. It was a rose if she could remember her botany, a Terran symbol of romance. But where was the captain? She knew from the duty roster that he was not supposed to be on duty until lunch time; it was her turn to take the early shift.

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Oh Kahless, she thought frantically, the early shift. “Computer, what time is it?” “The time is 08:55” the computer told her. Kehlan swore. She was going to be in so much trouble. Her shift had started almost three hours ago. Why had no-one called her? She distinctly remembered, just before falling asleep in the captain’s arms, instructing the computer to awaken her at 05:30. Jumping out of bed, she quickly pulled on her dress and went to the door. Cautiously she poked her head around the door but luckily no-one was around. She didn’t want to be seen leaving the captain’s quarters, it would lead to awkward questions that she wasn’t ready to answer. This was not a Klingon vessel and she suspected that Starfleet would have regulations about this sort of thing. Making a quick dash next door to her own quarters, she went inside and hurriedly changed into a clean uniform. There was no time for washing – anyway, she had spent plenty of time in the shower with the captain last night. Stopping for a quick check in the mirror, she was pleased to see she looked presentable. Any bruises were thankfully not visible; she could only hope she had not marked the captain too obviously. On the bridge, Captain Mackenzie looked up as the turbolift doors opened and his first officer came in. She looked worried and he knew why. Carefully suppressing a smile, he stood up and gestured towards his ready room. “Ah, Commander Kehlan” he said coolly, “I’d like to talk to you in private.” “Yes sir” she answered formally, following him into his office. The moment the doors closed behind them she began to apologise “I’m sorry to be so late Captain” she

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said, wondering why he was smiling, “ It won’t happen again. I was so sure I’d set an alarm.” “I cancelled it” he told her, laughing at her expression of surprise. “I thought you’d be tired and you looked so peaceful sleeping in my bed that I didn’t want to disturb you, so I took your shift.” Kehlan growled in the back of her throat. “Captain…” “Captain?” he said, his voice suddenly husky. “You called me James last night.” “We were both off duty last night” she told him, “And anyway, you should have woken me.” “Kehlan” he said gently, “If I’d woken you, neither of us would have made it to the bridge this morning.” There was nothing further she could say to that, but the thought made her smile. ~~~<>~~~ After Krang’s lapse of concentration on the bridge, Kargan began to keep a discreet watch on his commanding officer. He had enormous respect for the captain, who had proved himself to be a brave warrior and a brilliant tactician, having led them to victory in several battles in which the odds had been stacked heavily against them. But he had just suffered a devastating personal loss and it had affected him badly. Over the next few days Kargan organised some intensive training exercises for the crew. It was vital that the crew did not notice the captain’s preoccupation – it would leave them confused and worried and then he would have to challenge for the captaincy. And that was something he did not want to do – he had serious doubts about his ability to defeat the captain in a fair fight, and 104


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any other way would be dishonourable. The extra drills also meant extra work for the captain, something Kargan felt could only be a good thing – Krang needed to be kept too busy to have time to brood. Sitting at his desk, reading through the piles of paperwork the extra drills had generated, Krang began to realise that every time he had a quiet moment, Kargan would appear with some task or problem that could only be dealt with by the captain. When the first officer turned up with yet another report requiring his attention, Krang finally snapped. “Enough!” he shouted, banging his fist on the desk. “This is unnecessary. I want no more of these useless reports.” “The data speaks for itself, sir” Kargan said stiffly, ignoring his captain’s bad temper. “Look at these figures, there’s been a seventeen percent increase in speed and a twenty four point five percent increase in accuracy.” Krang sighed. “That’s well done.” He got up and stepped around his desk until he stood face to face with the first officer. “That does not mean however, that I haven’t noticed what you are doing!” “I have only done my duty in preparing the crew for battle” Kargan said, a note of injured innocence in his voice, which did not fool the captain at all. “I suppose you have yet more plans for me” Krang said resignedly. “I thought maybe you could hold an advanced batleth class for the senior officers” Kargan suggested, “And I have another gunnery drill planned for the crew this afternoon”

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Krang gave in and started to laugh. “Never mind. You’re right of course. I do need to be busy at the moment. You might as well carry on. Oh, and you can tell the crew there’s a barrel of blood-wine for the best team.” Turning back to his desk, Krang swept up the pile of data padds and dumped them into Kargan’s arms. “Schedule the batleth class to take place in one hour,” he said, “And invite Captain Mackenzie and Kehlan to attend – tell him to bring his katana. Until then, I’m going off duty.” Kargan looked down in confusion at the pile of reports in his arms. “What shall I do with this lot?” “You are the first officer” Krang said mischievously, “I have every confidence in your ability. Deal with it.” Walking to the door, he stopped and looked back, “I’ll see you in an hour. Until then, feel free to use my office.” And with that he was gone, leaving the surprised first officer to deal with all the paperwork he had generated. ~~~<>~~~ Entering the training room, Krang removed his uniform jacket and began a series of simple exercises. The ancient ritual movements of Mok’bara soothed him and cleared his mind, leaving him centred and ready for what was to come. His students arrived exactly on time and Krang was pleased to see that Captain Mackenzie and Kehlan had accepted his invitation to join them. He began by putting the class through a range of basic techniques, designed to assess their abilities, before moving on to more advanced methods.

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“Kargan, I want you to attack me.” Krang instructed, “Come at me with the Yi’Su qesH manoeuvre” “The Yi’Su qesH manoeuvre?” Kargan queried, “That’s an illegal move – there’s no counter to it.” “Enemies don’t always use legal moves” Krang told him, “Now, try it.” Kargan nodded, “As you wish.” He swung his batleth across his body, lifting it high and twisting it in a perfect rendition of the banned manoeuvre, bringing it back down towards Krang’s neck. But Krang was no longer there. Stepping neatly aside with a quick twist of his body, his batleth caught Kargan’s weapon, tearing it out of his hands and sending it crashing to the floor. “That’s how you counter the Yi’Su qesH manoeuvre.” He stepped back, indicating to Kargan that he pick up his weapon. Addressing the surprised class, he said, “Now watch carefully, I’ll show you again. Try it again Kargan, slowly this time.” Kargan did so, and even knowing what to expect this time, was unable to retain hold of his weapon as Krang once again demonstrated the new counter move. Instructing his students to pair off, Krang moved amongst them, occasionally correcting them or giving praise or encouragement where appropriate. “Good move Vareq, but don’t hold your weapon so tightly” Krang told the young second officer who was sparring with the security chief. “Koreq, you’re doing the same, you should know better.” Krang’s eyes narrowed as he watched Captain Mackenzie sparring with his half Klingon first officer. He knew just how good the Terragnan was with a batleth, so

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why was Kehlan beating him so easily? Moving towards them, he used his own weapon to separate them. “Either your skills have deteriorated badly in the last week, James” he said sarcastically, “or you’re holding back. Which is it?” The Terran captain remained silent, embarrassed. He had indeed been holding back, not wanting to hurt Kehlan. While he did not claim to be an expert in the use of the batleth, he was capable of more than he had been giving to the fight. “Let’s see you try again” Krang told him, “And this time, give it all you’ve got.” He stepped back, giving them room to fight. The Terran did better this time and suddenly Kehlan was fighting for real. As she lifted her weapon high to block an attack, Kehlan made a growling sound low in the back of her throat and Captain Mackenzie found himself giving a Klingon snarl as he pushed her back. As Krang watched them, he found himself wondering just what there was between these two. Had his friend not been Terran, he would have thought he was witnessing the beginnings of a mating fight. He smiled at the idea, but dismissed it as irrelevant and none of his business. Anyway, a mated captain and first officer on the same ship? What was perfectly acceptable, although unusual, on a Klingon vessel, Starfleet would never allow. Kehlan attacked hard, slipping through her opponent’s guard. Captain Mackenzie countered, but Krang noticed that he still seemed unable to really attack his female first officer and after a few more moments, Kehlan easily ended the match.

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Krang glanced around, seeing the looks of superiority some of the Klingons were giving the Terragnan. Even now, after all the two crews had been through together, some of them still thought the humans were inferior, but he was about to teach them another lesson. Not one of them could beat him with a batleth – or any other weapon for that matter, and they all knew it. “James, my friend, put down your batleth” Krang told him, “It’s time to demonstrate the katana. Show my officers what a Terran sword can do.” Captain Mackenzie obeyed, picking up the ancient Samurai sword and carefully unsheathing it. Turning to Krang he gave the ritual bow, ignoring the snickers of some of the watchers, and raising the sword, he waited. Lifting his batleth, Krang moved in hard and fast and the battle began. The two men were evenly matched, both experts in their chosen weapon and now neither of them were holding back. Captain Mackenzie brought the katana swinging upwards and Krang parried, twisting the batleth and forcing the Terran back. Ducking down, the Klingon brought his blade upwards, under his opponent’s guard in a move that was very difficult to counter, but the Terragnan captain was ready for him. Using the long, slender sword to protect his body, he parried the batleth and with a quick thrust, forced the Klingon to give ground. Sword clashed against sword and the blades locked together momentarily. Captain Mackenzie shifted his grip and Krang realised immediately what he intended. With a fierce grin he cooperated, shifting his own grip and before any of the watchers realised what was happening, the two combatants had swapped weapons. The fight continued, not slowing for an instant, but now Krang was wielding

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the katana, and the Terran, the batleth. Krang was enjoying having the Terran weapon in his hands. It handled very differently to the batleth and was surprisingly versatile. His opponent’s fighting style was very different now, he noted, Captain Mackenzie was finally fighting at full capacity. Krang realised as the fight continued that he would have to be extra careful. A fight of this intensity usually ended when one of the combatants was dead, but this was a demonstration fight, not a battle to the death and it was not his intention to either kill or permanently maim the Terragnan captain. Eventually, having made his point, Krang brought the fight to an end. No-one here today would ever again underestimate the Terragnan captain. Bowing to his opponent, he returned the katana to him and reclaimed his batleth. He turned back to the spellbound audience. “Think about what you have seen and learned today. Class dismissed.” ~~~<>~~~ The Jem’Hadar warrior raised his knife and with a savage growl he lashed out, the weapon tearing into Chrissie’s chest. She screamed as bright scarlet blood spurted out, her agonised cry silenced as her attacker pulled the knife free and thrust forward, his blade laying open her throat. She crumpled to the ground in a lifeless heap and the Jem’Hadar stepped over her body to attack the frightened children she had been trying to protect. “NO!” Krang sat bolt upright, his throat raw from shouting before realising that he was dreaming again. Sometimes it was a knife that killed his mate, sometimes a disruptor and sometimes a bomb blast. Once he watched a

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Jem’Hadar kill her with his bare hands. Every night he watched her die, helpless to save her. Abruptly he got up, glancing at the chronograph 03:00, five more hours until he was due on the bridge. Pulling on some clothes, he left his quarters and headed to the transporter room, beaming over the Endeavour. Once there, he went straight to sickbay, where the Vulcan T’lia was still on duty. She looked up as the Klingon entered her sickbay. “How can I help you?” she enquired courteously. Krang hesitated. “I wanted to see how my men are getting on” he said. He knew that he needed help, but now that he was actually here, he regretted it, not wanting to admit his weakness. “Come into my office” T’lia said, “We can talk privately there.” Leading the Klingon captain into her office and shutting the door behind him, she gestured for him to sit down, saying, “You didn’t come here at this time of the night to discuss your injured crewmen. What can I do to help you?” Krang took the chair she indicated, but for several moments, he did not speak. Then he asked, “This meeting will remain confidential?” T’lia nodded, “Provided what you tell me does not endanger the ship” she said, “Then, yes, it will be completely confidential.” The Klingon took a deep breath. “I’ve been having nightmares” he said, “I want you to give me something to make them stop.” “How long has this been going on?” T’lia asked.

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Krang’s voice was harsh as he answered, “I do not wish to discuss it.” T’lia had become accustomed to dealing with Klingon patients since her assignment to Endeavour and she had learned quickly how to handle them. “Captain Krang” she said firmly “If you want me to help you then you’ll have to give me something to work with. Now, I’ll ask you again. How long has this been going on?” Krang growled in the back of his throat, but answered her question. “From the day I learned my family were dead” he said starkly, “Every night I watch them die and I can’t do anything to save them.” “I suppose there’s no point in suggesting counselling” T’lia said, “It would help you to talk about it.” “And what can a counsellor tell me that I don’t already know?” Krang flared, “Your family are dead. It’s your fault, get over it!” “Is that what you think?” T’lia asked, beginning to understand his pain. “That it’s your fault?” “They wanted to come with me” Krang told her bitterly, “I told them they would be safe on Frontera and when the Jem’Hadar attacked, I wasn’t there to protect them.”

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Chapter 12

T’lia was silent for a moment, thinking over her options. She could give him the medication he wanted but that would do nothing to resolve the deeper problems. It would stop the nightmares but not remove their cause. Or she could use the mind-meld. Unfortunately the majority of non-Vulcans were very wary of telepathic healing techniques and she knew of very few humans, and no Klingons that would agree to such a thing. Nevertheless, she would give him the choice. “I can give you some tablets” she told him, “They will put you into a deeper sleep cycle, avoiding REM so you won’t dream.” “I get the impression that’s not your preferred option” Krang said, his perceptiveness catching T’lia by surprise. “What else do you have in mind?” “If you would allow it” T’lia answered, “I can use the Vulcan healing meld” “You mean the mind-meld?” Krang said slowly, considering what she had told him, “I’ve seen it done. I won’t pretend I like the idea.” He paused, staring at the 113


Vulcan for a moment. “T’lia, I am Hegh’Ta’s captain, my crew rely on me. I can’t afford to continue like this. We’ll be going into battle soon and any weakness on my part could be fatal for them. If you think this mind-meld can help me then go ahead. Do it.” Once again, T’lia reflected, the Klingon captain had caught her by surprise. The healing meld might be the logical course of action, but she really had not expected him to agree to it. “You should be aware” she told him, “that I will in no way invade your privacy. The private parts of your mind will remain private.” At his nod, she continued, “Now, I want you to forget about me. Just close your eyes and focus on the dreams.” As the Klingon obeyed her, closing his eyes, she moved closer to him, and raising her hand, she placed it on his face, her fingers reaching for the contact points. She felt him stiffen at her touch but he did not pull away. “My mind to your mind…” She murmured the traditional words and as they linked, she was barely aware of his voice joining hers “…My thoughts to your thoughts.” Despite the litany however, this was not a two way meld. Healers were taught at an early stage to shield their own minds from their patients. Krang was very tense as she entered his mind, and his first instinct was to resist the intrusion but her mental touch was warm and gentle and he forced himself to relax, allowing her to proceed. T’lia was surprised to find that his mind was well disciplined. He had followed her instructions perfectly, shutting off everything that was irrelevant and focusing completely on the dreams. Following his thought patterns she was led to the image of a Terran woman, a fairly ordinary looking woman, but in his eyes, something

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special. There were children with her. She could feel powerful emotions connected with the images – love, pride, happiness, then as the Jem’Hadar appeared, fear and anger. She watched with Krang as the enemy soldier slaughtered his family. Slowly, carefully, she slipped deeper into his mind, beginning to apply the healing techniques that would put an end to his nightmares. Finally, her work done, she began to withdraw, pulling back out of the meld until once again they were two separate people. Dropping her hand from his face, she released him and stepped back. Released from the meld, Krang sat still for a moment, then slowly put his hand up to touch his face. He could still feel the imprint of her mind on his and the contact points where she had touched him seemed to burn. But that was just his imagination. He got to his feet. “Thank you, T’lia” he said, suddenly fighting the urge to yawn. He glanced at the time, surprised to note that only half an hour had gone by. There was still plenty of time to get some rest before he was due on the bridge. He was tired and for the first time since his wife’s death, he knew his sleep would be undisturbed. ~~~<>~~~ On the bridge of the Endeavour, Lieutenant Ch’Pesh double-checked the sensor reading on his console. If he understood the display properly then there was a Federation Starship out here somewhere, and there shouldn’t be, not in this area of space. Something was wrong, he knew. This needed a science expert. “Major Speares, I have a problem with the sensor display” he said, making up his mind, “Permission to call Commander Kehlan to the bridge.”

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Major Speares glanced at the time, only 03:20 but he trusted Ch’Pesh’s judgement. “I’ll call her” he said. He had a good idea that Kehlan would not be in her own quarters. So far, the captain and first officer had managed to keep their romance private and he did not intend to broadcast that information to the crew. Without any of the other bridge officers noticing, he opened a comm. link to the Captain’s quarters. “Major Speares to Commander Kehlan.” A moment later, he heard her sleepy voice acknowledging. “Yes Major?” So he had guessed right then. “We have some anomalous sensor readings” he explained, “Can you come up to the bridge and take a look?” “I’m on my way” she answered, “Give me five minutes and I’ll be with you.” Four minutes and thirty seconds passed before the bridge doors swished open and both the captain and the first officer came onto the bridge. Immediately, Kehlan made her way to the science console, where Ch’Pesh quickly explained the problem as he got out of her way, allowing her to sit down. Reading through the data, she made a few adjustments to the controls before saying, “Well done, Ch’Pesh. You were right to call me. There is definitely something wrong here. I don’t like this.” “What is it, Kehlan?” Captain Mackenzie asked her, coming over to stand behind her chair. Resting his hand on her shoulder, he leaned over her to see what she was looking at. “I’m not sure, Captain” she told him, continuing to manipulate the controls as she spoke, bringing up more

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data. “I need some information that’s classified above my clearance level.” “What do you need to know?” Captain Mackenzie asked immediately. Security clearance was something that had caused an ongoing problem for Kehlan. Until her appointment to the Endeavour was formally ratified on a permanent basis by Starfleet she was still classed as a visiting Defence Force officer. Unfortunately, that meant that she did not have the clearance that was normally granted to a first officer and at times that severely hampered her ability to do her job properly. “Whatever you can tell me about the USS Poseidon.” “The Poseidon?” he repeated, surprised. “Why do you need to know that?” “Please Captain” Kehlan said, “Trust me, it’s important.” “I do trust you, Commander.” he told her, “I’m just surprised. I don’t need to look that information up. The Poseidon is a Nebula class ship, like Endeavour, but with the research module. She’s under the command of Captain Christopher Royce. I spoke to him a couple of months ago via subspace. He was heading out to research the cats-eye nebula they found over in sector eight. Why do you ask?” “Because I’ve tracked down a Federation transponder signal” Kehlan said starkly, “If the sensors are correct, then the USS Poseidon is currently located on a planet not very far from here.” “On a planet?” the Captain asked, frowning, “Nebula class ships don’t have landing capabilities.”

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“I know, sir. And that’s not all” Kehlan said, If Poseidon were anywhere near here, we’d be picking up the ship on sensors, not just its transponder. Sir, I think that the Dominion have destroyed Poseidon and taken the transponder.” “That’s not supposed to be possible” Ch’Pesh said, “Surely Starfleet would know if a ship had been taken.” “Under normal circumstance, yes” Kehlan said, “But not in a cats-eye nebula. The radiation they put out would have left the Poseidon unable to communicate with anyone outside the nebula.” “Damn!” the Captain exclaimed, immediately seeing the implications of that idea. If the Dominion could install a Federation transponder from a vessel nobody even knew was missing on one of their ships, it would allow them to infiltrate deep into allied space without being detected. “We can’t even send a message back to Starfleet to warn them” Major Speares said grimly, he had been listening carefully to the whole conversation. “We are well out of communications range.” “Then it’s up to us” Captain Mackenzie said, “How long will it take us to get there?” “Three point five hours at current speed, sir.” The answer came from the ensign at the helm. The captain was silent for a moment, working out a plan in his head. “Prepare to change course” he instructed them, “Send a message to Hegh’Ta and wake Captain Krang. We need to cloak the ships.” A moment later, the communications officer looked up in surprise, “Sir, a message from Hegh’Ta. They are

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unable to locate the captain. He appears to already be on board Endeavour” Captain Mackenzie sent an enquiring look at his marine commander. “Has he reported in?” “No, sir.” Captain Mackenzie hit his combadge, “Security, locate Captain Krang and escort him to my ready room.” Then turning to his first officer, he told her, “Kehlan, I want the transporter operator disciplined for not following procedure. The bridge should have been informed of any arrivals.” “Aye sir” she answered, “I’ll see to it.” The bridge doors opened again, revealing the Klingon captain, escorted by two security officers. Krang stepped onto the bridge, “Captain Mackenzie, I apologise for the breach in protocol” he said immediately, “I realise I should have informed the bridge of my presence on Endeavour. It was an oversight and it won’t happen again.” The Terran captain gave a nod of acknowledgement. We’ll discuss it in my ready room” he said coolly. As soon as they were in private, he continued, “Krang, you are my friend and I trust you completely, I have no problem at all with you being on board my ship at any time, but…” Krang sighed, “I know” he said gravely, “These protocols were my idea and I should have followed them.” “True, but that’s not what I was about to say” Captain Mackenzie told him, picking his words carefully. Actually, he was concerned about his Klingon friend. Krang looked exhausted and there were shadows under his

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eyes. “You went off duty at 21:00 last night. I was wondering why you were even awake at this time, let alone on board my ship.” Krang did not answer immediately, but eventually he said slowly, “I have been in the sickbay. I needed to speak with your healer.” Captain Mackenzie nodded, understanding. Klingons were notoriously cagy about anything affecting their health, seeing it as a sign of weakness and he knew there would be no further explanation. At least Krang had had the sense to seek help for whatever was troubling him. He knew that if it endangered the ship then T’lia would come to him, and if not then he didn’t need to know. “I need to talk to you anyway” he said, “There’s been an unexpected development.” Quickly he outlined the situation, explaining it as Kehlan had explained it to him. The Klingon grasped the problem immediately. “We need to get in there and retrieve the transponder” he said, “Also, have you considered that some of Poseidon’s crew may still be alive down there? The Jem’Hadar are known to run prison camps – they use the prisoners to train their troops.” “If there’s anyone alive, we’ll get them out” Captain Mackenzie said grimly. “In the meantime, we need to begin the cloaking manoeuvre before we’re detected.” Krang agreed at once. “I’ll get back to Hegh’Ta and set things in motion” he said, standing up and moving towards the door, “I’ll inform you as soon as we’re ready to begin. Oh, one last thing – can I borrow Kehlan again?” “Kehlan will be remaining on board Endeavour” Captain Mackenzie said, “I will be taking command

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personally. This mission is mine. Anyone on the away team will answer to me – and that includes you.” ~~~<>~~~ Within ten minutes, Krang had returned to his ship, roused the senior officers, explained the situation and got Hegh’Ta into position ready to begin the cloaking manoeuvre. On his own bridge, Captain Mackenzie gave orders to merge the shields and cede control of the helm to Commander Kargan. There was an almost subliminal flickering sensation as the cloak engaged, rendering the two ships invisible. It felt strange knowing that they were cloaked and that the great bird-of-prey was flying only ten metres above them. “Major Speares, you’re dismissed from bridge duty” Captain Mackenzie said, “I want a detachment of marines ready to beam down when we get to that planet.” “Aye sir” the marine commander responded, getting up and preparing to leave the bridge. “We’ll be ready.” “Kehlan, you’ll be in command of the ship” the captain told his first officer, “I will be beaming down with Major Speares and the marines.” He was aware, as he said this, of the expressions on his officer’s faces. Major Speares, who had been about to step into the turbolift, stopped and turned back towards him in surprise. The major started to speak and then changed his mind, sensibly deciding to leave this battle to the first officer, and continued on his way. Kehlan gave a low growl of protest as she took in his words. “We’ll fight over this in private, Captain” she snarled, turning her back on him and heading towards his

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office. He nodded, following her. He had known she would protest and he might as well get the argument over with. “Captain Royce is my friend” he told her as soon as the door shut behind them, “If there’s even the slightest chance that he or any of his crew are down there, still alive, I owe it to them to get them out.” “We will get them out” Kehlan answered him, “But I should be the one to lead the team, not you.” “This is personal” he said insistently, “Whether you like it or not, I will be leading that team” “The captain’s place is on the bridge” Kehlan growled, “You shouldn’t be leaving your ship in a time of battle.” “You are Endeavour’s first officer” he challenged her. “Are you telling me I made a mistake and that you’re not capable of commanding the ship?” In sheer fury, Kehlan picked up the heavy paperweight sitting on Captain Mackenzie’s desk and hurled it at him. He ducked, barely in time and it whizzed past his head, hitting the door to the bridge and shattering. “I am a Klingon warrior and your mate.” she yelled, looking for something else to throw. “It’s my duty to protect you. I should be down there, fighting at your side.” Captain Mackenzie grabbed hold of her by her wrists, preventing her from trying again. She struggled violently, but was unable to break free. “My honour demands that I do this” he said, “You’re Klingon, you should understand that.” “I do understand” she said harshly, “But I should be going with you. Don’t leave me here.” 122


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“Kehlan-oy” he said, his voice gentling as he heard the desperation in that final plea. “I need to know that if anything happens to me, you’ll take command of Endeavour. I trust you to keep my ship safe.” She went still, the unexpected endearment breaking through all her defences. When he spoke to her like that, she could deny him nothing. “I withdraw my objection” she said finally. She reached up and kissed him hard. “Fight well my captain, and come back to me.” ~~~<>~~~ On the bridge of the Klingon ship, the argument between captain and first officer was much more public, almost ending in violence as Kargan actually went so far as to draw his d’k’tahg on his captain. “If you kill me” Krang reminded him grimly, “then you become captain and you’ll still be stuck on the bridge.” Krang moved then, disarming the younger Klingon without even bothering to unsheathe his own knife. Before Kargan knew it, he was at the mercy of the captain. Krang however had no intention of killing his recalcitrant first officer, he respected him too much for that. He needed an officer who was not afraid to stand up to him. “It’s my duty to go” Kargan yelled, not at all intimidated by the captain’s anger. “By leaving me here you insult my honour.” “Entrusting you with the command of my ship can in no way be construed as an insult to your honour” Krang snarled, a cold warning in his voice. “Take care, Kargan. I tolerate a lot from you but one day you will push me too far.” Kargan gave a wordless growl of anger but he was loyal to his commanding officer, however much the 123


captain might infuriate him at times. “You could leave Vareq in command” he said, making one last effort to change his captain’s mind. “I’m not the only pilot onboard. Krell’s more than capable of handling the helm.” “You’re quite right” Krang said, enjoying the stunned expression on his first officer’s face. “And that is exactly what I have decided to do.” Handing the confiscated knife back to Kargan, he said, “Choose four squads to accompany us to the surface. The team needs to be multiskilled. I want good hunters, but also a couple of scientists and engineers.” Klingon soldiers were divided into squads of five – four soldiers and a leader, so that gave him twenty warriors. With the Federation team, that would be about right for a swift strike into enemy territory.

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Chapter 13

Standing by an aerial map, Kehlan was briefing the team leaders on the conditions they could expect to find on the enemy planet. Zooming in closer to an area that appeared to be thick jungle, she pointed at a spot. “This is the target” she told them, enlarging the image again. “Sensors are showing a small settlement and that’s where the Poseidon’s transponder is located. We are also picking up human life-signs in that area, so there are definitely prisoners. Now, there’s a lot of kellenite in the soil. It’s a transporter inhibitor so you’re going to have problems. There are only certain areas clear enough to transport in and out. I’ve programmed the areas into your tricorders so you’ll be able to find them.” “Would pattern enhancers help?” Major Speares queried. Kehlan nodded, “Yes, but in combat conditions you can’t rely on having the time to set them up properly.” Indicating a spot on the map a short distance from the target, she continued “This is your beam-down site. It’s

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just under one kilometre north east of the encampment. We’re designating it as the rendezvous point, which means we’ll be monitoring it. If anything goes wrong, get back to that site and you’ll be beamed up automatically.” “What about the Jem’Hadar?” Krang asked, “Can you give us an idea of how many are down there?” “Not accurately” Kehlan responded, “The Jem’Hadar have personal cloaking devices. The number picked up by the sensors is fluctuating between fifty and seventy in a five kilometre radius around the encampment. We can assume there are more than that as you go further out.” Captain Mackenzie spoke then. “We have two priorities on this mission. The first and most important is to find and destroy the transponder. The second is to rescue anyone being held prisoner on that planet.” Pausing, he looked at the other officers seated round the table before beginning to explain his battle plan. “This is how we’re going to do it…” ~~~<>~~~ Quietly and carefully the away team made their way through the thick jungle-like undergrowth. Dressed in battle fatigues like the marines, Captain Mackenzie could not help being impressed. It was the first time he had tried the newest style of camouflage gear. Like the chameleon it was named for, the suit changed to match its surroundings and glancing at his companions, he could see that it worked extremely well. He was heavily armed as were the marines, a phaser rifle slung over his shoulder, but instead of the standard issue marine knife, the great katana hung at his side. Captain Krang and the other Klingons were of course, dressed in their usual battle

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uniforms, most of them armed with disruptors and the inevitable batleth or mek’leth. As well as the marines and the Klingons, Captain Mackenzie had two SCE officers on his team. The Starfleet Corps of Engineers were unlike normal ship’s engineers in that they were highly trained to work under combat conditions and with just about any form of alien technology they came across in the course of a mission. It was only since the beginning of the Dominion war that combat engineers had become part of the standard crew of a starship. Captain Mackenzie knew that on some ships there was resentment between the SCE officers and regular engineering staff, but he had tried his hardest to ensure that there would be no such problem on Endeavour. With the war going so badly, Starfleet needed every advantage it could get and there was no room for petty squabbles over rank and position on board his ship. Stopping for a moment, Captain Mackenzie checked their position. According to their tricorders, they were now only half a kilometre from the Jem’Hadar encampment. Somewhere nearby a twig snapped, sounding disproportionately loud in the stillness and the team froze, but it was just an animal going about its business. They were all aware though, that as they got closer to their target, they ran the risk of running into an enemy patrol, and with the personal cloaks the Jem’Hadar used, they might not even know until it was too late. They were already aware that their communicators were useless. Immediately on beaming down, Captain Mackenzie had tried to contact the ship, only to get nothing but static. On testing, it had quickly become evident that not only could they not reach the ship, but they would be unable to communicate with each other as

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well. Somewhere, not too far away, something was giving off a jamming signal. Getting closer, they could hear the sounds of battle emanating from the encampment. Obviously the Jem’Hadar were indulging in another one of their little entertainment matches with one of the prisoners. Reaching the edge of the jungle, the marines stopped, carefully looking out from the trees. “QI’yaH” Captain Mackenzie cursed under his breath. The Klingon captain glanced him in amusement, his Terran friend hadn’t even noticed he was swearing in Klingon. But despite his smile, he too was aware of the deadly danger they were in. The scene in front of them was not what the sensors and tricorders had led them to expect. There was no encampment there in the field, but a huge Jem’Hadar warship, hidden from space by some sort of holographic technology. In space it would dwarf Endeavour and was bigger even than the new Sovereign class starships. From the look of things, it had crash landed, but it was equally obvious that repairs were well under way and that it wouldn’t be long before it was space-worthy again. The transponder signal was, predictably enough, coming from somewhere inside the great vessel. Suddenly everything had altered. Other than the two combat engineers, they had only forty marines with them and if the ship in front of them was fully crewed, there could be a couple of hundred Jem’Hadar, probably more, in the area. If they were to succeed in this mission, their strategy would have to be completely changed. Silence was imperative now. If they could hear the enemy, then the enemy would be able to hear them.

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Krang caught the other captain’s attention and silently indicated that they should fall back. Captain Mackenzie nodded, and after quietly passing on the order to the marines, the group disappeared back into the jungle. They went only far enough to ensure that they could talk quietly without any danger of their voices carrying back to the Jem’Hadar. They had very little time. Every moment they delayed increased the risk of running into a patrol and blowing the mission. Discussing their ideas, the two captains found that they were thinking along very similar lines. Quickly, the Terran captain passed on his orders to the troops and set their plans into action. As Major Speares and the marines went on their way, circling round to approach the Jem’Hadar ship from another angle, the two captains, the Klingons and the engineering team headed back to their earlier position at the edge of the clearing, the one they had so recently abandoned. They would wait there until the marines had created their diversion and then they would launch an all out assault on the enemy ship. Getting closer to the edge of the jungle, the two captains moved ahead of their troops, scouting out the ground. Suddenly Krang froze and held up a hand for silence. Grabbing hold of the Federation captain, he pulled him back into the undergrowth and crouched down. Knowing that Klingons had superior hearing, Captain Mackenzie did not argue but kept very still, waiting. Then he too heard it. Footsteps, coming closer. Two Jem’Hadar soldiers came tramping right past their position, never realising that the two men were there. The Klingon indicated to Captain Mackenzie that he should remain where he was and before the Terran could object, he had slipped from his position, coming up behind one of the soldiers. The Jem’Hadar never had a chance. Krang’s 129


attack was lightning fast, one arm snaking around the enemy soldier’s neck, pulling his head back, while the d’k’tahg in his other hand swiftly slit his throat. Contemptuously tossing the body aside, Krang lashed out with his knife at the second soldier, killing him before he even realised what was happening. It was over in seconds, neither of the two soldiers even had a chance to cry out. “That’s two less to worry about” Krang said calmly, wiping his knife and putting it back into his belt. “Nice kill” Captain Mackenzie said appreciatively. The noise level from the Jem’Hadar suddenly increased as a sentry spotted the marine intruders. The marines could easily have killed the sentry without being seen or heard, but the plan was for them to attract as much attention as possible and lead the enemy soldiers away from the ship. One of the Jem’Hadar, obviously a leader, started shouting orders and a large party of soldiers started to chase after the marines. Another smaller group hustled the prisoners they had been fighting back into the ship, probably returning them to their cells to await either death or further combat. Moments later they returned, some of them taking up guard positions around the ship while others headed out into the jungle to catch up with the others. That was a good sign, Krang thought; it meant that the prison cells could not be too far away from the still open entrance to the ship. He indicated as much to the Terran captain, who nodded in acknowledgement. Captain Mackenzie was very tense now. Just a few more minutes – they had to wait until the marines had led the enemy far enough away that they would be unable to return in time to assist their comrades. He glanced at the

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Klingons, knowing that they were itching for battle, but Krang had his men well under control and they did not move. Finally, as the sounds of pursuit faded into the jungle, the Terran captain gave the signal and the team moved out of their cover and towards the enemy ship. They had less than a hundred metres to cover and they moved swiftly, taking the remaining Jem’Hadar by surprise. Boarding the enemy ship, Captain Mackenzie snapped orders to his engineers who immediately began to manipulate a panel on the wall, trying to figure out how to get the doors to shut. His combat engineers were highly trained, the best in the business, but very little was known about the interior of Jem’Hadar ships. A group of Jem’Hadar soldiers had followed them back to the ship and were attacking them, hoping to prevent their enemies from taking their ship. The team was under attack from both sides now as Jem’Hadar warriors still on board the ship appeared in the corridors, firing their weapons at the intruders. The Klingon soldiers took up a defensive position around the engineers, protecting them and allowing them to work unhindered. After a few minutes of fiddling with the panel, the doors finally closed with a deep clanging sound. “That’s it, sir” the senior engineer, Lieutenant Davis, said with a satisfied grin, “The locks are engaged, and I’ve jammed them. It won’t hold forever but it’ll do until we can get the shields up.” “Well done” Captain Mackenzie responded, “Now, find the control room and secure it. Once it’s ours, we can secure the rest of the ship and do what we came here to do.”

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Swiftly the group moved through the corridors of the enemy ship, spreading out and attacking the Jem’Hadar defenders. The fighting was fierce but slowly, bit by bit, the attackers prevailed and the enemy soldiers were forced to fall back. Firing his disruptor, one of the Klingons ducked into an open doorway and gave a triumphant shout. It was Kargan. “Captain, in here” he yelled. “I’ve found the control room.” His words were cut off by the sounds of clashing metal and disruptor fire. As he and the rest of the team moved in to back up the Klingon first officer, Captain Mackenzie could hear him swearing under his breath as he fought. The fire-fight was intense but short and the bridge of the Jem’Hadar ship was soon theirs. In the manner that had become standard practice since the advent of the Dominion, they swept the control room with phaser fire, checking for the presence of shapeshifters. They could afford to take no chances – the layout of the ship was unfamiliar to them and if a Changeling was present it could be disguised as almost anything. “There’s nothing here, Captain” Kargan said in satisfaction as they finished the sweep, “Nobody here but us.” “Then let’s get the job done” Captain Mackenzie said impatiently. Krang held up a hand. “Wait” he said, his tone betraying the tension he felt. He turned slowly, surveying the room with suspicious eyes, looking for something, anything out of the ordinary. “Something isn’t right.” “What is it?” Captain Mackenzie asked, also looking round, not sure what he was looking for, but the Klingon captain’s caution was contagious and he knew that he should not ignore it.

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Krang did not respond immediately. He didn’t know what was wrong but all his instincts were screaming at him now, warning him of imminent danger. But from what? The phaser sweep had found nothing. The control room was secure now, so what was making him feel so edgy? “I wish I knew” he said eventually. Removing his tricorder from his belt, he started to scan the room, stepping closer to the central column as he did so. “Absolutely nothing”, he muttered in disgust. He turned back to face the Federation captain, bumping against the column as he did so and the tricorder suddenly went wild, bleeping loudly as the central column seemed to explode upwards and outwards. The polished titanium surface rippled and changed colour as at incredible speed, it flowed like molten gold into a new shape. Its form fluctuating wildly as though it could not decide what shape to take, it was attacking the Klingon captain, who, at such close quarters, had no way of defending himself from the thing that was intent on wrapping itself around his body and choking the life out of him. Several of the Klingons moved to attack it, but Captain Mackenzie, nearer than the others, got there first, throwing himself at the monster that was killing his friend. The shapeshifter, reacting with a speed and strength that was inhuman, formed a tentacle that smashed into the Terran and sent him crashing to the floor. But while Captain Mackenzie’s attack had not harmed the Changeling, neither had it been completely ineffectual. With a terrifying ease, the Changeling violently threw Krang away from it and solidifying into a form vaguely resembling a man, turned to contemplate its new victim. That momentary respite was all the Klingons needed. They had been unable to open fire without killing their own captain but now there was nothing to stop them. In

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its arrogance, or maybe it was desperation, the Changeling had made a fatal mistake. Kargan, his disruptor set to full power, was the first to fire. Then a second and a third Klingon opened fire, then another. Lying on the floor where he had fallen, still coughing, Krang fired his own weapon. The Changeling staggered but somehow, kept moving toward its target. Only half conscious, Captain Mackenzie watched it come towards him. He raised his phaser rifle, taking aim, but hesitated. His vision was swimming and there seemed to be three of them. Which one should he fire at? Hazily, hoping for the best, he chose the middle one and fired. With so many weapons firing at it, the Changeling stopped moving and began to sway, emitting a thin wailing sound as its rippling golden body began to dissolve, fading into darkness under the immense power of the combined energies that were tearing it apart. As suddenly as it had begun, it was over. The Changeling seemed to collapse in on itself until it was no more than a golden puddle on the deck. Then the glow was gone, leaving only a charred, blackened mess to show that the Changeling had ever existed. Krang got to his feet. His throat felt as though it was on fire and unconsciously he rubbed it. The Changeling had come very close to strangling him to death. Seeing that his Terragnan friend was struggling to sit up, he moved over and helped him. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Are you all right?â&#x20AC;? he asked hoarsely, finding it hurt to speak. Captain Mackenzie nodded and wished he hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. His eyesight was beginning to clear now, and there no longer seemed to be three of everyone, but the motion made his head pound. Still sitting on the deck, he looked around him, seeing that the engineers were already getting to

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work. “You were right about something being wrong” he said quietly, “There was a Founder on board.” Raising his voice to address the engineers, he said, “Lieutenant Davis, we need to get those shields up. Then see if you can pull up a schematic of this ship so we can locate the prisoners.” “Already working on it, sir” the lieutenant said calmly. Pulling a tool out of the kitbag slung over his shoulder he began to take a panel apart. Kerrik, the Klingon engineer moved to assist him. While they worked on the ship’s shielding system, the younger Starfleet engineer, a Bajoran woman named Marin went over to a panel on the other side of the bridge. It didn’t take her long to pull up a schematic diagram of the ship. she studied it for a few minutes before looking up and saying “The brig is one deck down from here, sir. Turn right out of here, and a few metres down the corridor, you’ll find a stairway. Go down it and turn left.” Consulting the screen in front of her again for further information, she continued “You’ll see a panel on the wall – press the glyph shaped a bit like a star and it’ll lower the forcefield around the cells.” “Have you got those shields up yet?” the Klingon captain snapped at the other two engineers. The answer came from Kerrik, “just another moment…” Muttering under his breath in Klingon, the engineer reached over the open panel, his fingers seeming to dance over the controls. “Qapla! That’s it, shields are up now.” “Good” Captain Mackenzie said, “Now let’s get the rest of this ship secured and under our control.”

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Chapter 14

Captain Christopher Royce paced up and down the small cell that was confining him and his fellow officers. There were five of them locked in the tiny room. Just five of them left. There had been ten of them crowded into the cell when they were first captured. He knew there were other crew members being held in other cells, he had seen them during his occasional combat sessions with the Jem’Hadar, but he didn’t know how many were left. Too few, he thought, grieving for the wasted lives. There had been a hundred and eighty souls on board Poseidon when they were attacked back in the cats-eye nebula. Now most of them were dead. He gave a sigh of frustration and carried on pacing. Six steps. That was all it took to cross the room. Then turn, six steps back and turn again. “Will you stop that pacing up and down!” The complaint came from his security officer, Commander Elana Kal. An attractive dark haired woman, the brown markings on either side of her face and neck identified her as a Trill. The Kal symbiont was relatively young - Elana

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was its first host and if they didn’t manage to get out of here, was likely to be its last. Sitting on the floor in a corner of the cell, her yellow Starfleet uniform was as tattered and bloodstained as his own. Some of the blood was fresh. It had been her turn to fight the Jem’Hadar and she was lucky to be alive. The medical care in the prison wasn’t exactly up to Federation standards and she still wasn’t recovered from the last time she had been forced to fight. When they had come for her a short time ago and dragged her out of the cell, Captain Royce had intervened, trying to protect her, begging the soldiers to take him instead, but they had simply laughed and pushed him out of the way. “I just want to know what’s going on out there” Captain Royce said apologetically, somehow forcing himself to stand still. It wasn’t easy. “I already told you” Elana Kal said wearily, “I didn’t see what happened. Someone attacked a sentry and the next thing I knew, they were hustling me back in here.” “Maybe it’s a rescue attempt” Lieutenant Baker said hopefully. A tall, sandy haired Terran, Morgana was another one lucky to be alive. She had been Poseidon’s communications officer but she had been studying karate for years and it was her skill in that discipline that had enabled her to hold her own in the contests with the Jem’Hadar. Even so, like Elana Kal, she was in poor shape. “Don’t be ridiculous” Elana snapped, “No-one even knows Poseidon’s been taken.” The other two men in the cell remained silent. Poseidon’s science officer, Lieutenant Michael Johann was a big blond man, who despite his name, hailed from

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Austria. He rarely spoke anyway so his silence was nothing unusual, but Captain Royce was worried about the final member of the group. Commander Hassan ibn Ahmed was descended from the Bedouin tribes that still roamed Earth’s deserts. His wanderlust had manifested itself in a desire to explore the stars and life in Starfleet had suited him perfectly. But, accustomed to wide open spaces, Poseidon’s first officer was suffering the most in his enforced confinement. He had fought savagely whenever it was his turn to fight the Jem’Hadar, and Captain Royce, while he was no doctor, suspected that he was bleeding internally. In his current condition, it was likely that he would not survive the next fight. “It’s not ridiculous” Lieutenant Baker said defensively, getting up and moving closer to the forcefield. The immensely powerful field flickered slightly, as though warning her not to get too close. “Someone’s attacking the Jem’Hadar. That’s got to be a good sign.” “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Everyone stopped and turned in surprise. Those were the first words Commander Ahmed had said for three days. But he said no more and after a moment the bickering continued. “It’s probably just some internal scuffle” Elana Kal said. “Elana, you really are…” Captain Royce had finally had enough. “Stop that squabbling!” he roared. “Don’t you understand? We have to stick together if we want to survive. We can’t give in to this.” Silence fell. And into the silence there came the faintest of sounds from outside.

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Lieutenant Johann got up and joined Morgana Baker by the forcefield. “Listen.” The sounds got louder, coming closer. The distinctive sound of weapons clashing and disruptors firing filled the air. Then, footsteps running past. The prisoners looked at each other, hope dawning, and with it fear. Who was out there, what was happening? Was it Starfleet or just some sort of Jem’Hadar rebellion or exercise? Instinctively they all knew that this was the end. Either they were about to be rescued or they were about to die. Either option would be an improvement on their current status. For a while it looked as though their hopes were in vain as everything went quiet. Then they heard footsteps again, walking this time, and it didn’t sound like Jem’Hadar. By now, all of them were on their feet, standing by the forcefield, quietly waiting. The footsteps came closer, then stopped. They heard the low hissing sound that signalled the lowering of the outer forcefield, then more footsteps. In just a moment they would be able to see who it was. But whoever or whatever was approaching them, anything was better than being left to rot in this prison, they were all in agreement on that. ~~~<>~~~ Out in the jungle, Major Speares and the marines were waging guerrilla warfare on the Jem’Hadar troops. It was something they were expert at, and laying traps as they went, they led the enemy soldiers deeper and deeper into the jungle, taking them as far as possible from the downed ship. Some of the marines pressed on noisily through the dense undergrowth, encouraging the Jem’Hadar to follow them, while the rest of the team faded back, allowing the enemy to pass them and then attacking from the sides and

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from behind, striking quickly and quietly before melting back into the jungle as though they were ghosts. Finally deciding they had gone far enough, Major Speares began to turn the team towards the east, bringing them round in a great circle, that would eventually lead them back towards the ship. One of his marines tapped him on the shoulder, gaining his attention. Showing him the readings on the tricorder he held, the man said quietly, “Major, another group of Jem’Hadar have appeared on sensors.” “How many?” Major Speares asked, tensing. “Thirty two” the marine answered, “”They’re one point two kilometres south east of our position, heading this way. There’s also another large group heading towards the ship.” “Damn!” The major swore, envying his captain’s knowledge of Klingon curses. That language was just so wonderfully expressive when it came to swearing. There was no time now for further cat and mouse games. The original group of Jem’Hadar following them was much smaller than it had been when they set out and it was time to finish them off. Quietly, he gave the order for an all out attack and the fighting began in earnest. ~~~<>~~~ Back on board the Jem’Hadar ship, all areas were now secure and Captain Mackenzie was finally on his way to the holding cells. Finding the panel on the wall, he saw it was exactly as the engineer had described. He pressed the symbol shaped like a star and watched with satisfaction as with barely a flicker, the outer forcefield separating the cells from the rest of the ship collapsed. Entering the

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previously inaccessible corridor, he could see cells on either side. They were standard cells, with three walls and the fourth side open to the corridor, only the powerful forcefields preventing the prisoners from escaping. The nearest cells were empty but he could hear movement further down the corridor. At least someone was still alive down there, Captain Mackenzie thought. “Anybody there?” he called, hoping that they were right and these prisoners would turn out to be survivors of the Poseidon, hoping his old friend was still alive. The sounds of movement intensified and a voice, full of both hope and suspicion called back, “Who’s there?” Captain Mackenzie felt a sense of relief. That sounded like Christopher Royce. “I’m Captain James Mackenzie of the USS Endeavour” he answered, “We’re here to rescue you.” He continued moving down the corridor until he found the first occupied cell. “Chris, I’m glad to know you’re still alive” he said, studying the control panel by the cell. Locating the star shaped glyph, he pressed it and the forcefield dropped. “Come on, let’s go.” Nobody moved. “How do we know you’re really the captain of the Endeavour?” a Trill woman in a tattered security uniform asked, “You could be a Founder.” “I could be, but I’m not” Captain Mackenzie answered impatiently, “Now do you want to get out of here or not?” “Commander Kal is right” Captain Royce said quietly, “If you’re really my old friend, then prove it.” “We were room-mates at the academy” Captain Mackenzie said, “I could mention the crush you had on that Vulcan commander that taught advanced tactics, but I wouldn’t want to embarrass you in front of your crew.”

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The other man laughed suddenly, remembering the mischief they had got up to in their academy days. “That’s James Mackenzie” he said to his security officer, “I never told anyone else about that.” Not bothering to wait for the prisoners to follow him, Captain Mackenzie was already moving the check the other cells. The next three held prisoners from the Poseidon and a further one, surprisingly held a small group of Klingons. There were three men and a woman, all of them wearing the standard military uniforms and looking the worse for wear. They had obviously been involved in several fights with the Jem’Hadar soldiers although he had an idea that they had not been unwilling to fight their enemies. Evidently more vessels than just the Poseidon had been destroyed by this massive warship. It was unusual though to find Klingon survivors. Most Klingon warriors would die before they would allow themselves to be taken prisoner. He hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should call for one of his own Klingons to talk to them and explain the situation, then decided he could handle it. “I am Captain Mackenzie of the USS Endeavour, allied with the IKC Hegh’Ta under the command of Captain Krang” he told them, as he prepared to lower the forcefield. The woman, who from the insignia on her uniform was the ranking officer, stiffened. “I knew the captain of the Hegh’Ta” she snarled, “His name was not Krang.” Captain Mackenzie sighed. So much for being able to handle it, he thought grimly, all it had taken was one sentence and he’d already managed to alienate them. He had never met the previous captain who had died in the same battle that had brought Endeavour and Hegh’Ta

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together and could not remember the man’s name. Quickly he explained as much to the imprisoned Klingons. The woman nodded, for the moment at least, accepting his explanation. “I’ll kill you later if you turn out to be lying. I am Lieutenant Chadra of the IKS Pak’t Marr.” She gestured towards her companions, “These are all that are left of the crew now. Now let us out so we can find an honourable death in battle.” “I’m hoping none of us will die” Captain Mackenzie said wryly, dropping the forcefield as he spoke. “I don’t expect you to understand, Terragnan” one of the Klingon males growled, his voice rising as he spoke, “Our capture dishonours us. Only death can redeem…” His angry words were interrupted by the arrival of the Klingon captain. “Be silent, crewman” Krang snapped, his cold voice cutting through the tension. Pushing through the group of released prisoners until he stood by his colleague’s side, he pulled out his knife and continued, “The war is by no means over yet. The empire needs live warriors to fight for it, not dead fools. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to redeem yourselves, I can promise you that.” The crewman began to bluster and Chadra lost her temper with him. Grabbing hold of his uniform collar, she pulled him forward and down, so that his face was level with hers. “Either shut up” she hissed, “Or I’ll kill you myself.” She shoved him away from her again and turned to face the newcomer. Despite the lack of decorations or insignia on his uniform, she instinctively recognised him as a senior officer and addressed him as such. “He’s right about one thing, sir” she said, “We should not have

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allowed ourselves to be taken prisoner. Is there really hope for us?” “If General Martok can retain his honour after two years as a Dominion prisoner, then there’s hope for all of us” Krang responded, understanding her concern. Then he addressed his Terragnan friend. “Lieutenant Davis sent me with a message” he told him, “He says that Major Speares and the marines are returning and suggests, with all due respect of course, that we should take the opportunity to get the prisoners back to the rendezvous point.” “Have they finished in the control room?” “No, they are going to need a lot more time” Krang replied. Captain Mackenzie made a gesture of negation. “I don’t like leaving them.” “He told me you’d say that” Krang said, “He asked me to point out that with the shields up they are perfectly safe here until we can come back for them. He’s right James. The way is relatively clear at the moment, but it won’t stay that way for long. We need to get these people to safety while we can.” Unwillingly Captain Mackenzie agreed. “Okay. Let me finish checking these cells and then we’ll go.” The remaining cells were all empty, except for the very last one which had only one occupant, a Romulan woman in a tattered Tal Shiar uniform. Unusually for a Romulan she was blonde, her hair cut into the typical military style favoured by Romulan officers. She was in poor shape, with green tinged bruises visible on her face. Like all the other prisoners, she had been forced to fight for her life over and over again. 144


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“Who are you?” Captain Mackenzie asked her. “My name is Rhiana” she answered, “I am an officer of the Romulan Tal Shiar. More than that I am not required to tell you. “taHqeq Romulan” the belligerent Klingon male snarled, “Leave her to rot” “We leave no-one behind” Krang snapped back. “And I remind you that we have an alliance with the Romulans now. I will not allow your petty differences to endanger this mission. It’s the Jem’Hadar we should be fighting, not each other.” “Alliance?” It was the Romulan woman who spoke but Krang could see equally confused looks on the faces of the Klingon prisoners. “There’s a Romulan/Federation/Klingon alliance in effect” Captain Mackenzie said, releasing the forcefield that was holding the Romulan prisoner. “There’s no time to explain in detail.” She stepped out of her cell, eyeing the Klingons cautiously, but other than giving her filthy looks, they made no move against her. Signalling to the rescued prisoners to follow them, the two men joined up with their troops and began to lead the way back through the corridors to the entrance to the ship. They had no sooner got there when there was a buzzing sound as one of the engineers in the command centre, who had been tracking their progress, released the controls that were holding the door closed and lowered the ship’s shields momentarily. Krang went through first, checking it was safe. Seeing that there were no enemies in the immediate vicinity and that the Starfleet marines were indeed waiting for them, he called to the others to join 145


him. One by one they all left the relative safety of the great ship, Captain Mackenzie taking up the rear to ensure that everyone got out. As he passed through the door, it began to close behind him and he sensed rather than saw or heard the shields being raised again. It felt good to be in the fresh air again Krang thought, taking a deep breath. Somehow, the air on that ship felt stale and dead. He expelled the breath from his lungs and took another one. He could see the prisoners doing the same. They had been on the ship for much longer than he had and no doubt were glad to be free and breathing clean air. Surveying the area for signs of trouble, he was caught by surprise as suddenly the Klingon prisoners broke away from the group. He started to shout after them, but all they were doing was arming themselves, retrieving weapons from the Jem’Hadar bodies that lay strewn around them. Some of the Starfleet prisoners, those who were capable, seeing what they were doing, did likewise. Krang gave an approving nod. They were going to need every available warrior if they were going to get out of here. He had no illusions that things were going to stay as peaceful as they were at that moment – there had to be a lot more Jem’Hadar on this planet and many of them would be within striking distance of their ship. They would be wise to expect an attack at any time. Glancing back at his Federation colleague, he could see that Captain Mackenzie was thinking the same thing. Actually, they got further than expected before the attack came. They were almost half way back to the rendezvous point when a squadron of Jem’Hadar came bursting out of the undergrowth, firing their weapons as they came.

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Chapter 15

On the bridge of the Endeavour, Kehlan saw the impending crisis as more Jem’Hadar life-signs began to appear in the area surrounding the captain’s position. The away team would be outnumbered very soon and with the planetary wide jamming signal the enemy was broadcasting, there was no way to warn them of their danger. It was obvious now, what was causing the jamming signal. The engineers on board the enemy ship had managed to shut down the holographic cloak, rendering the enemy ship visible to Endeavour and Hegh’Ta as they watched from their vantage point high in orbit above the planet. “Have a squad of marines meet me in the transporter room” Kehlan said to the ensign at the communications console as she stood up and headed towards the turbolift. “And I want a second squad to take a shuttle down as backup. If we can’t re-establish communications we won’t be able to call for beam-up. Lieutenant Ch’Pesh, as soon as the away team’s life-signs are far enough away,

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your orders are to destroy that ship. The bridge is yours.â&#x20AC;? She was gone before the Andorian officer had a chance to object. Instructing the computer to take her to deck eight, she waited impatiently as the turbolift began to move. In a hurry as she was, the short journey seemed to take forever but eventually the doors opened again and she went pelting down the corridor to her quarters. There was no time to change into armour so she just grabbed her weapons and was on her way again. Not bothering with the turbolift this time, she ran up the two flights of stairs to deck six and made her way to the transporter room. Giving the transporter operator the required coordinates, she quickly explained to the marines what she needed them to do. The clearing where they materialised was full of the noises and smells of battle. Kehlan looked around her, checking out the situation and beginning to move, even before the transporter beam had fully released her. The two captains were fighting back to back, surrounded by enemy soldiers. Major Speares and his marines were a short distance away. Aided by the Klingons, they were surrounding the prisoners they had rescued, trying to protect them from the Jemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hadar and get them back to the rendezvous point. Captain Mackenzie swung his katana at a Jemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hadar who had tried to approach the Klingon from behind, almost decapitating him, but another enemy warrior immediately took his place. Turning, he ducked and parried, the motion saving his life as a third enemy took a shot at him with his pistol. The energy beam which should have hit him in the chest, caught him instead in the upper arm. He gave a gasp of pain and realising he could

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no longer use his arm properly, he shifted his grip on the sword in an effort to compensate as the nearest soldier took advantage of his momentary hesitation and renewed his attack. The Klingon captain finished off his own opponent with a savage sweep of his batleth and turned to assist his friend, but Kehlan got there first. Mek’leth in one hand and d’k’tahg in the other, she threw herself at the Jem’Hadar who was attacking her mate. Knocking him off balance, they tumbled together to the ground, rolling in the dirt as they struggled for supremacy. The Jem’Hadar was very strong and almost managed to free himself, grabbing hold of her wrist as he did so. The bones in her wrist, already weakened from her previous injury, snapped with an audible crack, forcing her to drop the mek’leth. She was unable to prevent herself from screaming as he squeezed harder and the broken bones shattered. He must have thought he had won then, but Kehlan took him by surprise. Instead of trying to push him away, she pulled him closer, sinking her teeth into his hand, at the same time slashing open the tube of ketracel-white with her d’k’tahg. In confused shock the Jem’Hadar pulled back, and Kehlan struck again, thrusting upwards, the knife tearing open his chest. With a savage twist she pulled the blade free and stabbed him again. The Jem’Hadar fell forward, pinning her beneath him. The pain in her wrist was agonising as she tried to push his lifeless body off her but she could not move. Gathering her strength to try again, she was surprised when suddenly the weight was gone and she was free. Looking up, she saw the Terran captain. He bent and helped her to her feet. “Thanks” she said tersely, shoving the bloodstained d’k’tahg back in her belt and retrieving her mek’leth from

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where she had dropped it before stepping back and turning to attack another enemy. Hearing the sound of an engine above her, Kehlan looked upwards, to see one of Endeavour’s shuttles coming in to land. Good, she thought, now they had the reinforcements they needed and a way off this planet. She began to fight her way across to where Major Speares and the marines were positioned. The prisoners were in a mess, she noted, there couldn’t be more than about fifteen of them, all that was left of Poseidon’s crew. Most of them were in urgent need of medical attention. Kahless only knew what the Jem’Hadar had done to them. One of them, in a torn, bloodstained uniform with captain’s rank pins, looked as though he was barely able to stand up without assistance. That had to be Christopher Royce, Kehlan guessed, her captain’s old friend. He appeared to have taken a disruptor shot to his thigh. The energy blast had cauterised the wound otherwise he would have already bled to death. Despite his infirmity, the man held an enemy disruptor in one hand and was using it to good effect, systematically firing it at any Jem’Hadar who came close enough. Kehlan was surprised to see that there were some Klingons and even a Romulan amongst the escaped prisoners. All of them appeared injured but were fighting savagely. Seeing a Jem’Hadar soldier de-shroud directly behind one of them, she shouted a warning, but too late. The enemy fired his weapon at point blank range and the Klingon gave an agonised cry as the disruption energies tore him apart. He was dead before he hit the ground. The Jem’Hadar aimed again but the female Klingon took him down before he could fire a second time.

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A stray shot hit one of the female prisoners and she gave a cry of pain, pressing one hand against the wound in her thigh in an attempt to stop the bleeding as she staggered and struggled to regain her balance before collapsing in a heap on the ground. The other captain turned and seeing her fall, he gave a howl of fury and threw himself at the Jem’Hadar soldier who had attacked her. The Jem’Hadar had dismissed the injured captain as being of no consequence and was caught by surprise by his action. Knocked off balance, the enemy warrior staggered and went down as the infuriated captain lashed out, using his stolen disruptor as a club. Crashing to the ground the two combatants rolled over and over, struggling for supremacy until they came to a halt with the Federation captain on top, his hands around the Jem’Hadar’s ridged neck. The Jem’Hadar fought to free himself but the captain seemed to have been possessed by the spirit of the old-time berserkers and was unstoppable. The ketracel-white tube dangling loosely from his throat, the Jem’Hadar’s struggles became weaker and finally stopped but the Federation Captain was too infuriated to notice, or care, that his enemy was dead and he continued to beat the fallen soldier about the head, over and over until one of his fellow officers, seeing what was happening, pulled him away from the body. Worried, Kehlan glanced from the prisoners to the shuttle that was coming in to land. They had to get the injured on board and out of harm’s way. “Major Speares, get these people onboard the shuttle and back to Endeavour” she ordered, “Tell them to send the shuttle back for the rest of us.” Seeing the sense in her instructions, the major agreed and as the shuttle came to a halt several metres away, its

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doors swinging open to disgorge more marines, he gave a few quick signals to his men and they began to head towards it. The newcomers disembarked from the shuttle, weapons firing, quickly and efficiently clearing a path for their fellow marines. As Kehlan made her way back to where her captain was fighting, she could see Major Speares relaying her orders to the shuttle pilot, who disappeared back on board. It took only a few minutes for the marines to load the rescued prisoners onto the shuttle. The doors began to close and the marines stepped away from the vessel to rejoin the fight. The shuttle rose into the air and a Jem’Hadar fired a weapon resembling a rocket launcher. The shuttle lurched, swerving to one side as a missile struck its undercarriage but it continued on its way, carrying its precious load back to the safety of the Endeavour. The Jem’Hadar fired the weapon again but his shot went wild as he was struck down from behind by a Klingon soldier. The Starfleet marines, under the able command of Major Speares began to spread out, fighting the Jem’Hadar who were appearing out of the jungle, chased by a group of Klingon warriors. Trying to get back to their ship, the Jem’Hadar found themselves caught in a trap with the Federation on one side and the Klingons on the other. “Captain, we need to get far away from that ship” Kehlan shouted, “I’ve ordered Endeavour to destroy it” “We’ve got engineers on board” Captain Mackenzie shouted back, “We need to warn them. Kehlan, Krang, you’re with me” The three officers started to run, fighting their way through the enemy troops, back towards the ship. In the Jem’Hadar vessel’s control room, sensors informed the

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engineers that their senior officers were arriving and they quickly dropped the shields just long enough to allow them to board the ship. “I’ll wait here” Krang said, taking up a guard position at the entrance to the ship. “Don’t be long.” The Terran captain acknowledged and signalling Kehlan to follow him, he began to move quickly through the corridors. The control room was on the same level as the entrance and it took the two officers only a few moments to reach it. “Report!” the captain demanded, as he entered the room and approached his officers. “Captain, we haven’t been able to remove the transponder yet, but we’re working on it” Lieutenant Davis, the senior combat engineer told him, “We just need a little more time.” “We’re running out of time” Captain Mackenzie snapped, “What about the jamming signal?” Kerrik, poked his head out from underneath the console he was dismantling, “I’m working on it” he growled, “those Ha’DibaHmey have got it well protected. It’d be easier to just blow up the khest’n ship” “That’s what we’re planning” Captain Mackenzie said dryly. “Endeavour’s just waiting for us to get clear. Suddenly the young Bajoran woman gave an exclamation from her position on the other side of the room. “I think I’ve found it! Kerrik, Lieutenant Davis, come over here and look.” Instantly the other two engineers were at their colleague’s side. Kerrik gave a low growl as he examined

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her work. “Well done, Marin!” he said at last, leaning over her to make an adjustment. “I think we’ve got it.” There was an audible popping sound as the transponder was released from its protective housing. Lieutenant Davis picked it up and handed it to Captain Mackenzie. The Terran captain put it down and drew his phaser. Changing the setting to maximum, he aimed and fired. The transponder glowed for a moment and then disappeared. “Mission accomplished” he said, “Now let’s get out of here.” “Sir, we’re not going to be able to raise the shields from the outside” Lieutenant Davis said, “Someone’s going to have to stay here.” “I will stay” Kerrik said calmly. There was no fear in his eyes – he was a Klingon warrior and he knew his death would be honourable. Sto-Vo-Kor awaited him. “I’m not leaving anyone behind” Captain Mackenzie stated grimly, “We all go together or we all stay.” “I’m afraid it’s necessary” Marin said quietly, “Unless someone stays to raise the shields, we can’t stop the Jem’Hadar getting back on board.” “That cannot be allowed” Kerrik snarled, “The ship is disabled but the Jem’Hadar could still use its weapons against us if they regain access. I will prevent that from happening.” Kehlan considered the problem. “There’s no need for sacrifices” she said after a moment, “Wire up a phaser to the warp core and set it to overload with a short delay. Put a booby-trap in the system so it explodes if anyone tries to dismantle it.”

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“That would work” Lieutenant Davis responded. “Consider it done, Commander.” “Use this, it’ll give a better explosion” Kerrik said, tossing his disruptor to the two Starfleet engineers who caught it and immediately got to work. “Will you hurry up” Krang shouted from his position at the entrance to the ship, his voice echoing through the empty corridors, “We need to get out of here.” “Won’t be long” Captain Mackenzie shouted back, “We’re on our way.” It took the engineers only a couple of minutes to finish their work and gathering their tools together, they quickly made their way back out of the Jem’Hadar ship. Rejoining the Klingon captain, the group dashed away from the ship, towards the relative safety of the nearby jungle. Enemy soldiers were still appearing and despite the reinforcements, they were still heavily outnumbered. Out of the corner of her eye, Kehlan saw a Jem’Hadar about to attack her captain. Already involved in a fight with two enemy soldiers, he had not noticed and without hesitation, she stepped in and engaged the newcomer. Her mek’leth clashed with the long serrated knife he was carrying. Already injured as she was, Kehlan made a stupid mistake, leaving her guard open as she swung at the enemy soldier and he was quick to take advantage. She pulled back, just a little too slowly and the knife caught her across her ribs. Kehlan staggered, with a shriek of pain and raised her sword to strike back, but the two captains got there first, Krang’s batleth embedding itself in the Jem’Hadar’s heart, while from the other side Captain Mackenzie’s katana sliced through his neck,

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almost decapitating him. Both blows, struck at the same moment, were fatal. Captain Mackenzie was infuriated. That was the second time in this battle that Kehlan had taken a blow meant for him and he didn’t like it at all. He lashed out again with his sword, determined that no-one else would get close enough to his first officer to hurt her again. He was aware of his Klingon friend, once again at his back, defending both of them. Both men were fighting all out and the Terran could see the savage light in the other man’s eyes. He did not know that the same light shone in his own eyes. And yet, the blood-lust was not controlling the Klingon in the same way as it seemed to control his men. Fully aware of what was going on around him, Krang used the battle-rage as another weapon. The Klingon captain fought with an economy of motion, wasting no energy and watching him, Captain Mackenzie understood what Krang had been trying to teach him in their practice sessions back on Endeavour. If they got out of this alive, he resolved to be a better student. ~~~<>~~~ On Hegh’Ta’s bridge, Vareq had been listening to Kehlan’s orders through the open comm. link between the two ships. Double checking the data and finding it correct, he immediately began to formulate his own plans to render assistance to his captain and the away team. Disengaging the cloak, he sent notification to Endeavour of his intent to de-couple the ships and then released control of the other ship’s helm. Then, with a quick order to Ensign Krell at the helm, he took Hegh’Ta low into the planet’s atmosphere.

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Hegh’Ta’s great wings lowered into the firing position as the ship swooped downwards, lower and lower until it was flying below the level of the clouds. It was too soon to attack the Jem’Hadar warship, the away team was still far too close but there was still a lot that the bird-of-prey could do to help. Vareq was a crack shot and by far the best and most accurate gunner on board. Still shouting orders to the rest of the bridge crew, he seated himself at the gunnery console and began to search for a target. It didn’t take him long to find one. A group of forty Jem’Hadar soldiers was rapidly approaching the captain’s position. Hegh’Ta swept around, and flying only a few hundred metres above the jungle, sent a volley of deadly green fire into the midst of the enemy soldiers, completely obliterating them. The ship soared upwards, searching for and finding a second target. With another blast of its weapons, the newly identified target shared the fate of the first, quickly becoming nothing more than a blackened, burning hole in the jungle. The comm. link between the two ships crackled into life just then, Ch’Pesh’s voice coming over clearly, “The away teams are moving away from the Jem’Hadar ship. We are preparing to open fire.” “I hope your gunner is good” Vareq shouted “I don’t want you hitting us by mistake.” “Then keep out of our way” the Andorian officer retorted with a laugh. From high up in orbit, the Endeavour’s phaser banks fired, the deadly yellow beam arcing through the atmosphere and striking the enemy vessel. Hegh’Ta turned again, firing its disruptor cannons as it sped back

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towards the Jem’Hadar warship. Stranded there on the ground with its shields down, emptied of its crew, the once mighty warship didn’t stand a chance against the combined firepower of the two allied ships. Fires took hold along its length, rapidly burning out of control and as the flames reached the engine room, aided by further weapons blasts from Endeavour and Hegh’Ta, the Jem’Hadar ship exploded. With the death of the enemy ship, the jamming signal was no longer transmitting and the away team found that their communications systems were once again functioning normally. Efficiently killing another Jem’Hadar with a single sweep of his katana, Captain Mackenzie realised that their mission here was over. The prisoners were safe and Poseidon’s transponder had been destroyed. There was no longer any need for them to be here. Signalling to his team to group together, he contacted his ship and called for beam-up. Moments later, the away team disappeared in a column of sparkling light as Endeavour’s transporter beam brought them home.

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Chapter 16

Kehlan materialised on Endeavourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s transporter pad and almost collapsed. As well as the shattered wrist, she had taken several other injuries, her Federation uniform having given her no protection whatsoever. The waiting medical team rushed to her side, but Klingon pride coming to the fore, she shrugged them off, determined she would not be carried away like an invalid. The scene in sickbay was one of organised chaos. Every doctor, nurse and paramedic on the ship had been called on duty to deal with the influx of casualties from the battle, even the Emergency Medical Hologram had been activated. Some of the rescued prisoners were lucky to be alive after their ordeal at the hands of the Jemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hadar and needed immediate medical attention. Several of the marines, both Klingon and Federation, had been wounded in the fighting and both the captains had been injured. The two captains though, were conspicuous by their absence, having gone directly to their posts. They would

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come down for treatment later when the ships were safely back on course to their original target. A nurse came over to check on Kehlan, but she sent the woman away. “My injuries are not life-threatening” she said, somehow managing to hide the pain she was in. “There are people here who need treatment more urgently than me. I can wait.” Kehlan was still sitting on a bio-bed waiting for treatment when Captain Mackenzie finally came down to the sickbay. He walked over to her, surveying her critically. When he had seen her tackle the Jem’Hadar attacking him, he had thought his heart would stop. She had been magnificent in battle, fighting like a tigress and he knew that she had saved his life, almost at the cost of her own. And that was a price he was not willing to pay for his own survival. Seeing her now, covered in blood, mostly Jem’Hadar but too much of it her own, his relief turned to a cold anger. “What did you think you were doing?” he hissed, keeping his voice quiet but letting her know he was absolutely furious. “I gave you an order. How dare you disobey me like that?” Kehlan closed her eyes, not answering. She didn’t have the strength or the will to fight with him right now; she was in too much pain and it was taking all her concentration not to show it. “You didn’t even bother to don battle gear” he said, disgusted, “How could you be so stupid? Don’t you know how close you came to being killed?” “I saved your life” she answered listlessly. “I did what I had to do.” She tried to get up but sank back onto the bio-bed, gritting her teeth to suppress the groan of pain that threatened to escape.

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“You are relieved of duty” he told her harshly, hiding his concern for her, “When you’re released from sickbay you’re to confine yourself to quarters until further notice.” He was worried, knowing her well enough to see the pain she was hiding. Why was she still waiting for treatment? Turning away from her, he peremptorily called for a doctor. The Emergency Medical Hologram, or Nathaniel as he was known to the crew, approached him immediately. “If you’ll sit down Captain” he said calmly, “I’ll treat that wound.” “Treat Commander Kehlan first” he demanded, “Her injuries are more severe than mine. Why is she still waiting?” “It’s not the doctor’s fault” Kehlan protested weakly, “Other people needed help more urgently” At the other side of sickbay, T’lia finished treating the patient she had been dealing with and came over to Kehlan’s side. “I think you’ve waited long enough” she said to Kehlan, then addressing the hologram, “I’ll take over here, Nathaniel. I’d like you to examine our Romulan guest.” Kehlan felt gentle hands pushing her back until she lay prone on the bio-bed. A hypospray hissed against her neck and she began to lose consciousness. The last thing she remembered was hearing the captain’s voice as he spoke with the two doctors, asking if she would be all right. The Klingon captain turned up a little later. He had taken a rather nasty gash in his thigh and was limping slightly. Looking around for the healer, he noticed his Terragnan friend standing by a bio-bed. Moving over to

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join him, he saw that it was Kehlan lying on the bed. She was unconscious. “You fought well, James” he said gruffly, then “How is she?” “She’s been badly hurt but T’lia assures me she’ll make a full recovery” the Terran captain answered. “Damn it Krang. Sometimes I really hate this job.” Seeing the Klingons look of enquiry, he continued, “Look at all these injuries. And three good men dead.” “Their deaths were honourable” Krang said, meaning only to comfort his friend, but his words had the opposite effect. “Honourable!” Captain Mackenzie spat the word as though it was something obscene. “I have to write to their families. Smith got engaged last year to a girl back on Earth. Mannering had two young children and Edwards was supporting his elderly mother. Do you think honour is going to bring them any comfort?” Krang stared at his friend in surprise. Sometimes, despite all his years in the Federation, he really did not understand Terrans. “It should comfort them” “Does it comfort you?” Captain Mackenzie asked, knowing his question was cruel and that he was being unfair to his Klingon friend, but he was too upset to care. Krang whitened. “No. No, it does not. Every night I watch them die in my dreams. And no matter how many Jem’Hadar I kill, it will never be enough to pay for their deaths.” He turned away from the Terran and began to move away to find the healer. Captain Mackenzie stared after his friend. “Krang, I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry”

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Krang stopped but did not turn around. “I lost five warriors” he said, his voice cold and unforgiving, “Hegh’Ta has a much smaller crew than Endeavour. If we fight many more battles like that one, I won’t have enough crew left to run the ship. But we still do our duty.” “I’m sorry” the Terran captain repeated. He didn’t know what had got into him, why he was being so bad tempered. His Klingon friend did not deserve his anger. Krang did turn this time. “No commander worth following finds it easy to send men out to die” he said quietly. “The day it becomes easy is the day I will resign my commission.” He hesitated for a moment before adding, “I have a bottle of Romulan ale in my quarters. Once I’ve got this wound seen to, maybe you would join me for a drink – a toast to our crews.” “May I remind you that Romulan ale is illegal in the Federation” T’lia said, approaching them, ready to begin treating the Klingon’s injuries, “And for good reason.” “Hegh’Ta is a Klingon ship” Captain Mackenzie said. He was not about to refuse what amounted to a peaceoffering from his friend. “And we are a long way from Federation space. Thank you Captain Krang, I would be glad to accept your invitation.” T’lia sighed. “You’ll both want these then.” handed each of them a couple of pills.

She

“What are they?” Krang asked suspiciously. “Anti-inebriants” she answered. “They’ll stop you getting a hangover. Now, remove your trousers please.” “What?”

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“I cannot examine that wound on your thigh while you are wearing your trousers” T’lia told him patiently. “Now, will you please do as I ask?” With a long suffering look at his fellow captain, Krang obeyed. ~~~<>~~~ In the Hegh’Ta’s mess hall, the two captains were leaning over the table, facing each other, grim expressions of concentration on their faces as they each battled to gain supremacy over the other. Hands clasped, each fought to push the other’s arm to the table. The watching officers were laughing and calling out encouragement and Krang was amused to note that it was the Terran they were cheering for. He had removed his gauntlets and spiked gloves to make it a fair contest and they lay on the table, next to the half empty bottle of Romulan ale. He was holding his own easily. Klingons were physically stronger than Terrans and both men knew that Krang would eventually win this match. In the meantime, though, he was having too much fun to allow the competition to end quickly. Captain Mackenzie gave a very Klingon sounding growl as he struggled with his friend. He might not stand a chance of actually winning this match but that didn’t mean he would just give up and allow himself to be easily defeated. His muscles trembled as he put every bit of strength he had into trying to budge the other man’s hand. For a moment it looked as though he might succeed but then Krang pushed back and with a crash, the Terran’s hand hit the table. Captain Mackenzie swore. “Hab SoSlI’ Quch!”

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The mess hall fell silent, waiting for the Klingon captain’s reaction. Krang’s eyes narrowed and he stiffened, his hand straying to the knife at his side. The expression the Terragnan had used was a particularly vile insult. Had one of his own crew used it, he would have killed them where they stood. The words translated into standard English as ‘Your mother has a smooth forehead’ and in that language it didn’t sound particularly insulting, in fact it was meaningless. But in TlhIngan Hol as the Klingon language was called, there was nothing worse you could say to one of the imperial race. Looking at his friend though, Krang realised that the Terran had no idea just how far that went beyond the friendly name-calling he had intended it as. Even so, it was with conscious effort that he was able to remain calm and leave the d’k’tahg sheathed in his belt. “James, my friend” Krang said dangerously, “your knowledge of my language improves every day, but that is not something you say to a friend. In fact, if you want to live, then I suggest you never say it to me again.” He reached for the bottle on the table and pouring some of the bright sapphire blue liquid into a glass, he handed it to the Terran. ~~~<>~~~ Kehlan paced up and down her quarters restlessly. She had nothing to do and despite the ministrations of the healer, her wrist still ached. The bone had been shattered and T’lia had been forced to insert a metal pin to aid healing. Even with all the advanced medical techniques available to Federation doctors it would still be some time before she had the full use of her wrist again. Her disobedience must have angered the captain greatly she thought, for him to have ordered her confined

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to quarters. The problem was, she did not know what Starfleet required of her. She was trained in the sciences not in command, yet they expected her to be able to run a Federation starship and she didn’t know how. And now that they had Poseidon’s bridge crew on board, she wasn’t really needed. She remembered the conversation she had overheard in sickbay. She had just been beginning to regain consciousness after T’lia had operated on her when she had heard someone, a man whose voice she did not recognise, ask, “Who’s that over there?” “That’s their first officer” another stranger, a woman this time, answered, “I heard she’s actually a science officer on temporary loan from the Klingon ship.” “Well, Endeavour has been pretty short of senior officers” the man commented, But I’m sure the Klingons will be glad to have her back now she’s no longer needed. There’s more than enough of us to fill the gaps.” Kehlan opened her eyes, blinking a few times until her vision came back into focus. The people talking about her were two of the rescued prisoners from the Poseidon. They were wearing clean uniforms now, both of them with insignia marking them as having the rank of Commander. Realising that the object of their conversation was waking up, the two officers walked over to her side. “Hi there” the woman said, “I’m Elana Kal, and this is my colleague Hassan ibn Ahmed.” Her tone was friendly and Kehlan realised that the newcomers had not been intentionally cruel. They could not have known that in the few months she had been on board, she had come to look on Endeavour as her home.

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That had been several hours ago. Shortly after that conversation, T’lia had come over and examined her, agreeing to release her from sickbay on condition that she rested for a while and did nothing to strain her wrist. That wouldn’t be difficult she thought bitterly, confined to quarters, she had little choice but to take it easy. It had come as a shock to hear the newcomers talking about replacing her, but it made sense. Unlike her, they were experienced Starfleet officers who had spent years doing this type of work. She remembered how Krang had said to her the day he had promoted her, that although she would answer to Starfleet, she would remain a Defence Force officer. The more she thought about everything that had happened, the more she began to feel that she was a liability to the captain and she could see only one solution. Going to her desk, she picked up a data padd and began to record a message to Captain Krang. Finishing the recording, she read through her request, added her signature and pressed the button that would transmit it to the Klingon ship. The padd gave a bleep, telling her that the message was safely on its way. Now she had the more difficult message to write, to Captain Mackenzie. It took time, but eventually she finished and saved the message. She would not transmit this message electronically, she owed him the courtesy of delivering it personally, which she promised herself she would do as soon as she was freed from confinement. ~~~<>~~~ It was early afternoon ship’s time, when Krang finally returned to his office and began to wade through the mountain of paperwork that had built up. The term paperwork was out of date of course, he reflected,

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computers and data padds had long since replaced any actual paper, but the name had stuck and whatever it was called, it seemed to take forever to deal with. Bogged down in department records and damage reports, Krang took no notice when the door chimed. When it chimed again, he didn’t bother to look up. “Go away!” he growled, but the door swung open and his first officer came in. “I thought I said go away” Krang said irritably. “What part of that don’t you understand?” He sighed. “Well, since you’re here now, you might as well sit down and help me with these reports.” “Kargan frowned but took the seat he was offered. “I came to tell you that I’ve just heard from Endeavour. We’ve lost Kruge and T’lia thinks that Geran won’t live much longer.” Krang swore. “I really thought he would pull through” he said regretfully. “We are losing far too many crew members in this war. That’s seven dead in this battle alone.” “The newcomers look promising” Kargan said thoughtfully, “I think Lieutenant Chadra’s going to be an asset. She’s trained primarily in helm, but she’s qualified in gunnery and communications as well.” “And the others?” Krang queried. “They’ll fill in gaps in the squads” Kargan told his captain, “The older one may be worth promoting to squad leader though, he seems pretty experienced. The younger one’s got an attitude problem. I suspect he’s going to be a trouble maker. I’d suggest keeping him in a very junior position for now until we see how he gets on.”

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Krang nodded. “I’ll leave you to make the arrangements. We’re going to have to take longer shifts or there won’t be enough officers on duty. In the meantime I suggest you also have a look at the troops’ personnel records and see if any of them have skills we can use on the bridge.” “I’ll get right onto it, sir” Kargan said, retrieving a data padd from the pile on Krang’s desk and making notes on it before putting it aside again and picking up another padd. Accessing the crew rosters he studied them carefully. He was about to make some suggestions when a flashing red light, emanating from the communications panel, caught his attention. He pointed it out to the captain. “It’s marked from Commander Kehlan on the Endeavour” Krang said, as he downloaded it onto his computer console and opened it up. He was silent as he read the message. Reading the message a second time, he finally looked up. “She has requested a transfer back to the Hegh’Ta” “What?” Kargan said, shocked, “I really thought she was doing well on Endeavour.” “So did I” Krang said grimly. “I take it she hasn’t said anything to you about this then?” Kargan shook his head. “No sir.” He was about to continue but changed his mind. Krang saw his hesitation and understood why. Free speech was always dangerous on a Klingon ship. “You may speak freely” he reassured the younger officer, “You have my word that this conversation is not being recorded. This room is not bugged.”

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Kargan raised his eyebrows at this but decided to take the captain at his word. “Sir, she’d have to be crazy to want to come back to Hegh’Ta.” Kargan’s statement very much agreed with Krang’s own opinion, but he wanted to know why his first officer thought so. “Go on” he invited. “Well, Kehlan’s Houseless” Kargan said, thinking carefully about what he was trying to say. “And with all due respect to the Defence Force, there’s no way they’ll allow a Houseless female to progress past science officer; in fact she’s lucky she made it that far. There’s no future for her here.” “I know” Krang said. “So you think I should refuse her request then?” “Kahless, no” Kargan said, “If she really wants to come back, we could use the help. I just think she’s making a big mistake and she’ll end up regretting it. “I’ll speak to her first” Krang told his first officer. “I agree with you, she’s making a mistake. But if it’s what she really wants then I will arrange her return to duty.” Kargan stood up, gathering a handful of data padds into his arms. “I’ll give you some privacy then” he said. “I’ll be in my quarters, going through these files if you need me.” “Very well” Krang said, “Dismissed.” He watched as Kargan left his office and the door swished shut behind him. Krang opened Kehlan’s message and read it one more time before putting a call through to her. When her image appeared on the view screen, he was concerned to see that she appeared drawn and unhappy and she looked as if she’d been crying. He knew better than to comment on that though. Klingons did not - could not - cry; they 170


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had no tear ducts and her ability to cry was one aspect of her Terran heritage that Kehlan bitterly regretted, seeing it as a weakness. “NuqneH?” greeting.

She gave the traditional Klingon

“I’ve just read your request for a transfer” Krang said, “I’d like an explanation.” “I am Klingon, and an officer of the Defence Force” she told him, “I wish to return to my duties on Hegh’Ta.” He hesitated, knowing that there had to be more to it that she was admitting. “Kehlan, you’ve been a friend of my family for years. Won’t you talk to me?” She looked away. “There’s nothing to tell. Captain Mackenzie has enough senior Starfleet officers now. I am no longer needed here.” “Let me come over to the Endeavour and we can talk about it” Krang suggested, his concern growing. He had just returned from the mess hall after sharing lunch and a bottle of Romulan ale with his Terragnan friend. It was true that with the rescue of the prisoners, Captain Mackenzie now had several more command officers on board, all of them highly experienced, but he had given no indication of wanting to replace his Klingon first officer. So what had gone wrong? Kehlan shook her head, still not looking at him. “I am confined to quarters” she told him, “It would not be appropriate for you to come to my room.” “Look at me, Kehlan” Krang insisted. Slowly, reluctantly she did so and what he saw in her eyes, alarmed him. The Klingon fire was gone and in its place he saw defeat. He was silent for a moment, then finally,

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he said, “I will speak with Captain Mackenzie. And if you are sure that this is what you want, then I will expedite your return to my ship.” “Yes Captain” she said, “It is what I want.” With that, she cut the connection, leaving him staring at a blank screen.

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Chapter 17

Returning from the Klingon ship, Captain Mackenzie went straight to his office. Romulan ale was potent stuff and even with the aid of the anti-inebriant that T’lia had given him, he was already starting to feel hung-over. Combined with the alcohol, the generous portions of gagh and heart of targ he had eaten sat uneasily in his stomach. His head ached, pounded actually, but well aware of the lecture he would get, he had no intention of requesting a painkiller from sickbay. At least it was quiet in his office, he thought thankfully. He could hide away in there for a while and get on with some work without any disturbances. His combadge chirped, sounding unnaturally loud in the silence. Wincing, he touched the badge in acknowledgement. “Captain, I thought you might like to know that Captain Royce has just regained consciousness” the Vulcan healer informed him, “He is asking to see you.”

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“Thank you T’lia, that’s good to know” Captain Mackenzie said, “I’ll be down as soon as I can.” He got up and leaving his office, headed towards the turbolift. Maybe while he was down in sickbay he could ‘obtain’ a painkiller without T’lia noticing, he thought optimistically. Come to that, the way his head felt right now, it would almost be worth the lecture, just to get some relief. He was half way across the bridge when the turbolift doors opened and the Klingon captain came storming onto the bridge, obviously in a very bad mood. “I want to talk to you” Krang demanded without preamble. Glancing at the interested bridge officers who seeing his expression, quickly looked away and became very busy with their appointed tasks, he added, “In private.” Captain Mackenzie sighed. Whatever Krang wanted, he really didn’t need it right now. “Very well” he said, resignedly, “In my ready room.” Turning, he headed back to the room he had just vacated, and Krang followed him. “What can I do for you?” he asked, as the doors shut behind them. “Kehlan has requested a transfer back to the Hegh’Ta” Krang told the Federation captain starkly. Captain Mackenzie stared at his Klingon friend in disbelief. “You’re not joking, are you?” Krang shook his head. “I would not joke about something like that” he said, “I received the request half an hour ago.” He flung the padd down on the desk in front of the Terran captain. “Here, read it for yourself.”

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Captain Mackenzie said nothing, not quite taking it in. Kehlan wanted to leave the Endeavour? To leave him? The thought was unbearable. Slowly, he reached out and picked up the padd, reading the message it contained. “I have received no notification of this” he said finally. “Just what is going on with you two?” Krang exploded, “First I get this ridiculous request, then I find out you’ve got her confined to quarters. What in Gre’thor’s name are you playing at, James?” “How I discipline my officers is not your concern.” “Kehlan is still a Defence Force officer” Krang reminded the Terragnan captain, “And I am in command of a Klingon ship. That makes her my responsibility. Now give me one good reason why I should not accept her request.” “Because I need her here” Captain Mackenzie said simply. “Krang, she’s done well on the Endeavour. She’s a good officer and she’ll go far in Starfleet if she’s given the chance. Can you guarantee her the same opportunities in the Defence Force?” Krang shook his head. “No, I can’t” he answered regretfully, “She’ll never progress past science officer in the Klingon fleet. But it’s her choice to return, and I’ll be honest with you James, we’ve lost a lot of crew. It’s not as if we couldn’t use the extra officer.” “I know” Captain Mackenzie said. “Look, give me some time to talk to Kehlan. If she can convince me it’s what she really wants I won’t stand in her way.” ~~~<>~~~ Returning to his ready room after his visit to sickbay, Captain Mackenzie reflected over his conversation with

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Christopher Royce. He was worried about his old friend. Physically he was making a good recovery but mentally… well that was a different matter. The loss of his ship and the deaths of so many of his crew had affected him badly and it was going to take a long time for him to get over it. The story that Captain Royce recounted was one that tragically was becoming all too common since the beginning of this war. The USS Poseidon had been assigned to investigate a cats-eye nebula and the Jem’Hadar battle cruiser had appeared out of nowhere, all its weapons firing. The Poseidon was a science vessel, not a combat ship and it hadn’t stood a chance. And when the nebula class ship hung lifeless and burning in space, they had boarded the ship, taking all the survivors as prisoners. The worst of it was, a science vessel shouldn’t even have been out there in a time of war without an escort, but Starfleet had needed the data from the nebula and no escort had been available. And so, the USS Poseidon had been sent. Captain Royce had protested but to no avail – a Nebula class ship was more than capable of defending itself in case of attack, Starfleet Command had insisted. Well they had been wrong. “The shields went down” Captain Royce told him, his voice filled with horror as he relived the events of that terrible day. “They kept firing at us, over and over. There were fires everywhere, you could hear the ship groaning as it was torn apart. We had no weapons to fight back – tactical and propulsion systems were the first to go. Then they started appearing on the bridge, and all over the ship, just decloaking out of nowhere.” His voice trailed off and he gave a convulsive shudder. “They started taking prisoners” he continued eventually, “All of us who were

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fit – the ones who were injured or not able to fight were just killed. So many died – I’ll never forget the screaming or the smell of blood and fear.” “It wasn’t your fault, Chris” Captain Mackenzie told his old friend gently, “There was nothing more you could have done.” “I was their Captain. They trusted me and now they’re dead!” Captain Royce said painfully, “I had a hundred and eighty people on board – there are fifteen of us left!” He stopped again and after a few moments of silence, he asked for a drink of water. Captain Mackenzie immediately got up and poured a glass from the carafe that was sitting on the side table. He handed it to the other captain who took a long drink before continuing his story. Fifty six of the crew had survived to be taken prisoner. Crammed together into the tiny cells on the Jem’Hadar ship, the constant fights with the enemy soldiers, combined with poor food, and hygiene and a lack of medical facilities, had taken its toll. As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the number of survivors had dwindled, until only a handful were left. By the time the Endeavour had found them, the remnants of the Poseidon’s crew had totally given up any hope of survival, let alone rescue. Captain Mackenzie knew he wasn’t the only one worried about Chris Royce’s welfare. Before leaving sickbay, he had had a long talk with T’lia, who was equally concerned. The Vulcan healer believed that Captain Royce would need extensive counselling before he would be able to return to duty. There was, not surprisingly a deep anger in the captain, that had been evident in the way he had fought

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the Jem’Hadar after his escape from the prison cells. From all accounts, he had gone completely berserk and torn one of the Jem’Hadar to pieces with his bare hands. If he hadn’t seen it for himself, Captain Mackenzie would never have believed it of his old friend. Chris Royce had always been a little on the sensitive side. His captivity and the loss of his crew in such a brutal manner had left emotional scars that would take a very long time to heal – if they ever did. As for the crew of the Poseidon, well on a temporary basis at least, those who were fit enough, would fill in some of the gaps in his crew. And there were a lot of gaps to fill in. Over the last year Captain Mackenzie had lost too many brave men and women to the enemy and Starfleet had been too hard pressed to offer him any replacements. Of the senior officers, Elana Kal and Morgana Baker would be the easiest to deal with. Both of them would slot straight into the positions they were most accustomed to – security and communications respectively. Commander Ahmed however was a different matter. A highly experienced officer who was in fact overdue for promotion, he had been the first officer on board Poseidon. But Captain Mackenzie was no longer in the market for a first officer, he was more than happy with the one he already had and was hoping to persuade Starfleet Command to make the appointment permanent. After thinking about it for a while and reviewing the commander’s personnel file, he decided to post him to the tactical station. At least his headache had gone. When he entered sickbay to visit Captain Royce, T’lia had taken one look at him and had silently handed him a painkiller. The

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expected lecture had never happened and to be honest, Captain Mackenzie thought, it hadn’t been necessary. The healer might be a Vulcan but she was very good at making her opinions and feelings known. The expression on her face had said it all - Serves you right! ~~~<>~~~ By the time the captain finally summoned Kehlan, it was late afternoon and she was an emotional mess. Entering the ready room she placed the data padd on the desk in front of him. “What’s this?” he asked, not looking up from the report he was reading. “My resignation” Kehlan told him, “I’ve requested a transfer back to Hegh’Ta.” It was true then. Kehlan wanted to leave the Endeavour, to leave him. Thanks to his earlier conversation with Krang, he had at least known this was coming, but even so, hearing her actually say it, struck him like a knife in the gut. He picked up the padd and pretended to study it, anything to avoid looking at her. He didn’t want her to see the hurt in his eyes, the pain he felt at the thought of losing her, both on a professional and a personal level. “Yes, Captain Krang told me he’d received a transfer request from you” he said coolly, finally raising his head to look at her. “So, are you going to tell me what this is all about?” Kehlan turned away from him, looking out of the window, “You were right” she said, her voice quiet, “I’m a scientist, I’m not trained for this. I’m not fit to command a ship.” Captain Mackenzie frowned, not understanding. Admittedly, she had a lot to learn but how could she even 179


think she wasn’t good enough? “Commander Kehlan, you are one of the best officers I have ever had the privilege to work with” he said, “Endeavour needs you. I need you.” “How can you say that?” she asked bitterly, “I lost my temper with you, I’ve done everything wrong and I’ve disobeyed orders. I don’t deserve this posting.” “You do need to learn to control and channel your anger” he agreed, “But at least when you lost your temper, you did it in private. Since you came on board, you’ve reorganised and streamlined the duty rosters, you’ve made major improvements to the ship’s sensors and you found a way to cloak Endeavour. But most importantly you’ve gained the respect of the crew.” Getting up, he moved across the room and joined her at the window. “You disobeyed my orders and I will be entering a reprimand on your file. I will also be entering a well deserved commendation.” Kehlan was genuinely confused now. She did not comprehend how she could be both reprimanded and commended for the same actions and she told him so. “Kehlan, part of being a first officer, is the art of knowing when an order should be disobeyed” he explained, “You made a decision based on information that was not available when I gave that order and you took the appropriate course of action. Because of what you did, the mission was a success.” He held out the padd to her. Kehlan said nothing but she reached out and took it back from him. He breathed a sigh of relief. For a few minutes there, he had really thought he’d lost her. “Then why did you relieve me of duty?” she asked him.

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The captain sighed. “Because I was angry” he told her honestly. “You got hurt protecting me and I didn’t like it. You need to rest for a while and recover from your injuries. If I hadn’t relieved you, then you’d have gone straight back on duty, wouldn’t you?” She nodded, acknowledging the truth of his statement. “I’ll allow you to return to duty tomorrow” the captain said, “You’re dismissed” “Aye sir” Turning to leave, she was called back by his voice, and it was James who spoke now, not the captain. “Kehlan, will you have dinner with me tonight?” ~~~<>~~~ Two days later, Endeavour’s long range sensors picked up signs of Jem’Hadar activity and the two captains gave orders to begin the cloaking manoeuvre. With Kargan at the joined helm, the two ships began their final approach to the planet that was their target. As they had anticipated it was heavily guarded with a fleet of twelve Jem’Hadar cruisers in orbit. Slowing to one quarter impulse, Hegh’Ta and Endeavour slipped quietly past the enemy fleet, down to a level just above the upper atmosphere and began to scan the planet, looking for the weapons production facility. In the end, it was relatively easy to find – the largest Jem’Hadar ship was in geosynchronous orbit, directly above it. A communications channel was being kept permanently open between the two ships and Krang made use of it now, warning Endeavour to be prepared for decloaking.

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As the Federation pilot acknowledged, Krang gave the order to decloak and return helm control to the Endeavour. The moment the cloak dropped, Kargan took the Bird-ofPrey swooping gracefully away from the Federation starship and into a strafing run over the enemy base. On Endeavour’s bridge, Captain Mackenzie gave a grim smile as he watched the enemy ships begin to react, imagining the panic on board as the complacent crews realised they were under attack. Snapping orders, he sent Endeavour after the Klingon ship, firing a barrage of photon torpedoes at the large Jem’Hadar ship which was now moving to threaten the Hegh’Ta. Even as he gave the order, he saw Hegh’Ta diving into the upper atmosphere, its disruptor canons firing volley after volley at the weapons facility, then as it shot past, turning and coming back for a second run. Multiple explosions bloomed like scarlet flowers on the planet’s surface and Hegh’Ta rocked with the intensity of the shockwaves. There were too many ships for them to keep the upper hand for long though, and the Jem’Hadar ships were fighting back. With a quick order to Major Speares who had taken control of the helm, Captain Mackenzie sent Endeavour into a zigzagging flight pattern to avoid the enemy fire. Turning his ship back towards the Jem’Hadar fleet, he glanced at the view screen and froze. Flying at almost suicidal speed, Hegh’Ta was coming straight towards them, its disruptor cannons still firing. As the Klingon ship veered off at the last second, the torpedoes shot straight past Endeavour, barely missing it and tore into a Jem’Hadar vessel that had come up behind them, causing it to explode.

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“I thought you’d changed sides for a moment there, Krang” Captain Mackenzie called to his fellow captain on the other ship. “Don’t scare me like that!” He heard laughter over the comm. link. “I’m insulted” Krang shouted, “If you’d been the target I wouldn’t have missed.” Swerving to aim at another target, Endeavour shook violently as it was hit by several enemy weapons. “Shields down to sixty percent” Kehlan yelled, “Rerouting auxiliary systems to bring them back up to full strength.” Captain Mackenzie grabbed hold of the back of his chair for support as the bridge shook again, but somehow managed to keep his feet. Damage reports were coming in from all over the ship and he knew without asking that his engineers were frantically working to not only hold the ship together but also to provide power for the shields and weapons. Endeavour turned again, firing at an enemy ship that was attacking Hegh’Ta and scoring a glancing blow. Looking again at his tactical screen Captain Mackenzie suddenly saw an opportunity and pointed it out to the Klingon captain. Together the two ships dived dangerously low into the atmosphere, and on Krang’s mark, they fired simultaneously at the weak spot the Federation captain had identified, Jem’Hadar ships streaking after them. Immediately after firing both ships turned and shot upwards and away from the devastation. But even as they gained height, Krang saw an enemy move in under the Endeavour and sent the Hegh’Ta swooping to intercept. On the bridge of the Endeavour Captain Mackenzie watched the weapons facility explode, a huge fireball

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shooting into space, taking out four of the Jem’Hadar cruisers. It was with shock that he saw the Klingon ship caught in the blast as it tried to protect his own ship. A massive hole in one wing, the Hegh’Ta spun out of control and went tumbling through the upper atmosphere, its remaining cannon still firing crazily at the enemy. And there were still plenty of ships to fire at. Six had been destroyed now, but that still left six relatively undamaged and fully alert Jem’Hadar ships to contend with. His own ship had sustained damage and Hegh’Ta was in serious trouble. “Are you okay over there?” called.

Captain Mackenzie

“We’ve got a coolant leak in engineering” Krang answered, “And no shields worth mentioning, but we’re fine. We’ve done what we came to do, now get your ship out of here before it’s too late.” “And leave you here?” Captain Mackenzie said, showing his contempt for that idea, “Don’t be a complete idiot!” Seeing two more enemy ships heading towards the Bird-of-Prey, he gave orders to divert more power to the weapons system and began to fire again. It was with great satisfaction that he saw the shots find their target, and as he watched, Hegh’Ta began to regain control of its helm, straightening up and beginning to gather speed as it headed towards the nearest enemy vessel. Suddenly he realised what the Klingon was planning as he listened to the orders being given on the Klingon bridge. “Ramming speed!” Krang shouted, “Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam” “It is a good day to die” Captain Mackenzie echoed. Turning to his crew for a moment, he said, “We are

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heavily outnumbered and cannot win this fight. We either cut and run, having done our duty, or we can keep fighting. But every Jem’Hadar ship we destroy today is one less to attack the Federation.” “I say we go down fighting!” Kehlan said. Surveying his crew, the captain saw that she spoke for all of them. There was nothing but grim determination in their faces. “Then we fight! Ch’Pesh, divert auxiliary power to the weapons array and prepare…” He was given no chance to finish. “I’m detecting a spacial anomaly forming off the port bow, Captain” Kehlan called suddenly, interrupting him “Bearing zero nineteen, mark four.” “What is it?” the captain asked tersely, never taking his eyes from the viewscreen. “I believe it is a cloaked vessel” Kehlan responded. He watched with shock as the fabric of space itself seemed to shimmer and a huge Klingon attack-cruiser decloaked in front of him and blasted Hegh’Ta’s target out of the sky, capturing the damaged bird-of-prey in a tractor beam as it did so. Moments later, two battle-cruisers and six birds-of-prey decloaked in formation behind the attack-cruiser and engaged the enemy. The Klingon fleet opened fire and within minutes the battle was over, the remaining Jem’Hadar ships completely destroyed.

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Chapter 18

On the bridge of the Endeavour there was silence as the crew stared in disbelief at the viewscreen. It was a scene of utter devastation. Down on the planet, the remains of the weapons facility continued to burn fiercely, while in space there was so much debris from the destroyed Jem’Hadar ships that it would be years before a starship could approach that planet with its shields down. And in the midst of it all, the Klingon fleet hung majestically “Message coming through from the Klingon attack cruiser” Lieutenant Baker announced, looking up from her console. “On screen” the captain ordered, then as the view of the planet was replaced with the bridge of the attackcruiser, “I am Captain James Mackenzie of the Federation starship Endeavour. Identify yourself.” “This is Fleet Commander Kurn zantai Kazrel of the Seventh Imperial Fleet” the officer seated in the captain’s

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chair responded, “We were sent by Imperial Command to look for you.” “I’m surprised you found us” Captain Mackenzie said, “We are a long way from allied space.” “We bumped into a Cardassian cruiser crewed by some of your officers” the Klingon officer told him. “We debriefed them and they told us what you were planning.” “They made it back safely then” the Terran captain said, pleased, “That’s good news.” Kurn nodded, “Yes, they did well. Now, I would like to invite you and the captain of the Hegh’Ta to come on board my ship for an informal meeting.” The invitation, coming as it did from a Klingon fleet commander, was not really a request but an order and Captain Mackenzie treated it as such. Ten minutes later, both he and Krang had materialised on the transporter pad of the attack cruiser. The were met by a pair of armed guards who escorted them to the fleet commander’s office and then took up station out side the door as the two officers went inside. Fleet commander Kurn zantai Kazrel was not a particularly tall man but what he lacked in height he more than made up for in speed, agility and sheer resilience in battle. A formidable and highly respected warrior, his troops followed him with unquestioning loyalty. Krang knew of him by reputation but until now, their paths had never crossed. The brigadier handed the two captains a glass of warnog and gestured to them to take a seat. “I have been ordered to ensure that both of you return to Qo’noS” Kurn informed them dryly, “In fact, I believe the Starfleet admiral’s exact words were ‘drag them back by the scruff 187


of the neck if you have to.’ necessary.”

I hope that will not be

“That sounds like Admiral Portway” Captain Mackenzie said ruefully. “Krang my friend, it looks as if the fun’s over for us.” “The Hegh’Ta is badly damaged” Krang answered., “We’d have had to go back anyway, we’re going to need some extended time in space dock to make the ship battle worthy again.” He took a mouthful of his warnog. “As it is, it’ll be a long slow journey. We’ll be lucky if we can make warp two.” “Well, you’ll be getting a fleet escort” Kurn said laughing. “But you needn’t think I’m towing you back. I’ll have some of my engineers come over and give you a hand making repairs. In the meantime, however, have another drink. I want to hear everything that’s happened.” ~~~<>~~~ The two captains read through the report for Starfleet Command they had just finished writing, explaining their actions over the last few months. While they had done a lot of damage to the enemy, they had acted in defiance of a direct order to return to Qo’noS and had intentionally stayed out of communications range in order to prevent Starfleet from contacting them. Both men knew that they would face a board of enquiry on their return, if not a full court martial. “Oh well, that’s the final report written for now” Captain Mackenzie said yawning. He leaned back in his chair and stretched out, his feet resting on the polished wood of his desk. Another few days and we’ll be back in Klingon space” “I’ll be glad to get Hegh’Ta into space

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dock” Krang told him, “We took some serious damage in that last fight.” “I know” Captain Mackenzie responded, “I’ll tell you Krang, I really didn’t think we were going to survive that one. If the fleet hadn’t shown up when it did…” He left his sentence unfinished. “It was a good day to die” Krang said, his voice suddenly fierce, “But a better one to make our enemies do the dying.” “Argyle to Captain Mackenzie” The intercom activated and the chief engineer’s voice hailed the captain. “Go ahead Chief.” “We’re almost set up down here” Argyle said, “The show will start in half an hour if I can just get this interface working properly. Thanks for the tapes Captain, they look great.” “No problem” the captain said, “We’ll be there. Captain Mackenzie out.” Krang raised his eyebrows in a silent question. “We’ve got some copies of an old Klingon show” Captain Mackenzie explained, “It’s set on a battle cruiser during the Federation/Klingon war. We’re setting up a screen in the rec room if you’re interested.” “Battle-Cruiser Vengeance?” Krang asked bemused, “You’ve got to be joking. How in Kahless’ name did you get hold of that?” “I’ve had it for ages” Captain Mackenzie said, “I’ve just haven’t had a chance to watch it again until now. I take it you’ve seen it then?

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“I was just a boy when it first showed” Krang said, laughing as he remembered. He had watched it faithfully every week and the ship’s captain, Koth, had been his idol for years, until he realised it was just an actor playing a part. Captain Mackenzie frowned. “Battle-Cruiser Vengeance first aired around a hundred and forty years ago. There’s no way you’re old enough to remember it.” “I am fifty four Terragnan years old” Krang told him, “However, I was born in 2221.” The Terran captain’s frown deepened, as he remembered his failed attempt to investigate the Klingon’s past. “So, are you saying you travelled in time?” Krang was silent for a moment, then said, “James, I’m going to tell you the truth, but it is classified and I must ask you to keep it confidential. You will never find any records because officially none of it happened.” Captain Mackenzie walked across to the replicator and ordered two mugs of raktajino, one of which he handed to his friend. “Go on” he said, sitting down again and gesturing to the Klingon to do the same. “I grew up in the twenty third century” Krang began, “When I was old enough I joined the Defence Force and was seconded into Imperial Intelligence, where I eventually became a Captain of Security.” Reaching over, he picked up the mug of raktajino and took a mouthful. “The High Council came up with a plan to destroy the Federation by travelling back in time and preventing it from ever forming. We went back to 1992 and I was stationed on Earth for four years. I had sole responsibility for Terran security during that time.”

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“You’re right about one thing” Captain Mackenzie said thoughtfully, “That’s definitely not in the history books.” “I’ll explain that in due course” Krang told him, “As I was saying, we had been on Earth for four years when Captain Kirk turned up. I think they had meant to arrive much earlier but they misjudged the time jump. If you’re relying on the old ‘slingshot around the sun’ technique it’s difficult to be accurate. That’s where our time dilator was so useful, it was calibrated to plus or minus one day of the required time period. Of course, once Kirk was on the scene, everything started going wrong and, partly because of Chrissie and partly because of new orders from the High Council that I considered dishonourable, I decided to change sides and betray the Empire” He paused again, taking another mouthful of raktajino. The Terran captain had realised a long time ago that his Klingon friend considered himself dishonoured. He had never understood as Krang was one of the most honourable people he knew. Now however he was beginning to comprehend why Krang felt that way. He knew that this was hard for Krang to talk about and he appreciated the Klingon’s trust in him. What he was hearing explained a lot of small things, little anomalies that had been subconsciously niggling him about his friend and he understood now, why Krang’s personnel record was so sketchy. Anything involving time travel was very heavily classified. One thing was puzzling him however. “Chrissie, your wife?” he queried, “Is she also from the past then? Where does she fit into all this?” Krang’s answer was slow in coming, the words seeming torn from him. He still found it very difficult to speak of his dead wife. “My wife was born in Earth’s

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twentieth century. Her first husband was killed in the early days of the invasion. I met her just after she got involved with the crew of the Enterprise. She interested me and I forced her to sleep with me.” Captain Mackenzie was incredulous. Of all the things he had expected to hear, it wasn’t this. “You raped her?” Krang shook his head. “No” he said defensively, “Even then I would not have hurt her, she was willing. Nevertheless I had put her in a position where she could not refuse and I took advantage of that.” He sighed, “It was not the most honourable thing I have ever done.” Finishing the now lukewarm raktajino in the mug, he put it down and continued his story. “Then I found evidence of her involvement with the resistance and had her arrested and questioned. She was guilty, there was no doubt about it, and she should have been executed but I had her sent forward in time to Qo’noS and sold as a slave. It was the only way I could protect her. My brother bought her at my request.” “It doesn’t sound like the most conventional courtship” Captain Mackenzie commented. Krang laughed. “No it wasn’t” he said. “Anyway, I helped Captain Kirk to put things right and one of the results of that was that no-one would remember the invasion. It went down in the history books as just another one of planet Earth’s many international conflicts. I returned to my own time where I discovered that Chrissie was pregnant. I had planned to send her back but that became impossible.” “Because she couldn’t have a Klingon child in the twentieth century?”

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“Exactly” Krang said, “So I took her as my mate. It was the only honourable thing to do.” “Did the Empire involvement?”

ever

find

out

about

your

Krang nodded, “Yes, I’d have been executed if I’d been caught on Qo’noS so my brother and I took Chrissie and her children to the Federation. We spent six months on board Kirk’s Enterprise because they didn’t know what else to do with us. My brother still had the time dilator so eventually, after my daughter was born, we travelled forward in time one hundred years to late 2368. I was offered a place on Picard’s Enterprise and the rest you know.” “So Starfleet covered up the whole mess” Captain Mackenzie commented, “And all the records were sealed and classified.” “Which means I can’t prove any of it” Krang said, his tone suddenly teasing, “The question is, am I just a good story teller or did it really happen?” Momentarily silent, Captain Mackenzie looked into the Klingon’s eyes. Then with complete certainty, he answered Krang’s question. “It happened.” For a long time, the two men stared at each other, then Krang clasped the Terragnan on the shoulder, breaking the sombre mood as he said, “Now, what about these reruns of Battle-Cruiser Vengeance you promised me?” “Good idea” Captain Mackenzie said, “Let’s go and see if it’s ready.” “Don’t you just love all the Orion slave girls” Krang said, chuckling at the memory. “They were just so…”

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Captain Mackenzie grinned, “I always liked the bit at the end” he said, “the way it always ended with the same line.” Bursting into laughter, both men chorused, in dramatic voices, “I am Captain Koth, Koth of the Vengeance, and this ship is my prize!” Still laughing, they made their way to the rec room, their previous conversation put aside but not forgotten. ~~~<>~~~ The planet on the viewscreen appeared dark and formidable, its normally verdant landmass hidden by great black clouds. It was early morning in planetary time, in the middle of a hot dry summer although with the current weather conditions, that was hard to believe. Lightning flashed. A huge storm was raging over the First City of the Klingon homeworld. As the heavily damaged Hegh’Ta approached the orbital space station, Krang gave the order to drop to one quarter impulse. The ship began to slow as it made its final approach, its course a little unsteady. The Klingon captain got to his feet and began pacing the bridge. “Take the helm Kargan” he instructed, “We don’t want an accident in space-dock.” Lieutenant Chadra hastened to get out of the way as the first officer took over, moving across to an unmanned station. The young woman, one of the survivors of the IKS Pak’t Marr, had turned out to be a useful addition to Krang’s bridge crew. She was multi skilled and good at her job, but Kargan had proved again and again that he was a brilliant pilot and if anyone could bring the ship in without incident, he could.

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As the massive gantries of the space-dock loomed closer, Krang ordered a further reduction in speed, then “Aft thrusters only.” Aye sir” Chadra responded, “Firing aft thrusters.” The ship lurched to one side, starting to spin, as Vareq called “Port side thrusters off-line, sir” “Compensating” Kargan said calmly as his hands flew over the console, bringing the vessel back under control. Slowly the Hegh’Ta straightened up again, just in time as with a gentle bump, the ship connected with the designated air lock on the space station. “Activating docking clamps” Vareq reported, “Ship successfully docked, Captain.” “Well done all of you” Krang said. He glanced at the viewscreen just in time to see the Endeavour come gliding gracefully in to her own designated docking position. The Federation starship had taken far less damage than Hegh’Ta, nevertheless it was an impressive piece of flying. Altering the display on his console Krang sent the reports he had prepared through to the station commandant’s office and the Federation embassy. A short time later, Vareq turned to the captain and announced, “Sir, there is an incoming message from Admiral Portway of Starfleet” “I’ll take it in my office” Krang told him. He had a feeling that this conversation was not one that he was going to want his bridge crew to witness. Going into his office, he sat down at the desk and activated the computer console. The Starfleet admiral’s face appeared on his screen.

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“Ah, Commander Krang” she said, her voice expressionless, “You’ve finally arrived.” “Yes Admiral” Krang said, “My ship cannot travel at high warp speed at the moment, it’s badly damaged.” “I’m not surprised after the way you took on half the Jem’Hadar fleet” the admiral commented, “That was well done. However we do need to discuss your blatant disobedience of direct orders. You were instructed to return to Qo’noS almost five months ago.” “Yes, I was” Krang said honestly, “I chose not to obey that order.” “Commander Krang” she said, emphasising his rank, “While you are still a Starfleet officer, you do NOT get to pick and choose what orders you obey.” “I am aware of that, Admiral” Krang said matter-offactly, “I have no excuses to offer.” She sighed, “Chancellor Martok and I want you and Captain Mackenzie in the Great Hall at 15:00 hours. “We’ll decide then what to do with you. In the meantime, I suggest you find a copy of the Uniform Code of Starfleet Justice and read it. You’ll find Article 90 particularly relevant. Admiral Portway out” She cut the connection, leaving him staring at a blank screen.

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Chapter 19

Krang looked up from his desk when his doorbell chimed. “Come in” he called, a little irritated at the interruption. He had spent most of the morning catching up with paperwork and filling in all the requisition forms and documentation that the Hegh’Ta’s repair schedule had rendered necessary. He was surprised when Captain Mackenzie and his half Klingon first officer entered his office. The Terran captain was carrying a box in his hands, which he placed on Krang’s desk. “We come bearing gifts” he said cheerfully, “We thought you might be hungry.” The Klingon glanced at the time, shocked to realise it was already past 13:00. He hadn’t realised how late it was and had forgotten that he had promised to join his fellow captain for lunch. “I apologise for my rudeness” Krang said, “Hegh’Ta is in a complete mess at the moment. I lost track of time.” Gesturing towards the chairs, he continued, “Take a seat, make yourselves comfortable.”

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His guests sat themselves down and began to unpack the food they had brought, handing a plate of sandwiches to the Klingon captain. “So, where are you planning on staying?” the Terragnan captain asked his friend as he took a bite of his lunch, “It’s going to be bad enough on Endeavour but the state your ship’s in, you won’t want to be on board while it’s being repaired.” “My family had a farming estate on the outskirts of First City” Krang told him, “I don’t live on Qo’noS now, but I still own it. There are servants keeping the place running so I’ll stay there.” He hesitated for a moment. There was something important he needed to say, something he had been thinking about for several days now and this seemed like a good time. “James, you have been a true friend to me. We’ve fought back to back and saved each other’s lives on more than one occasion. I would be honoured to welcome you into my House.” “Oh, I wouldn’t want to impose” the Terran answered, “I shouldn’t have any trouble finding a hotel. Ouch!” he yelped as Kehlan’s booted foot kicked his shin, “What was that for?” “I don’t think you were just being offered a room for the night” Kehlan informed him. There was a pause as Captain Mackenzie mentally replayed the conversation they had just had. “Oh!” Suddenly he understood exactly what the Klingon was offering him. Embarrassed, he could only hope his ignorance had not caused offence. Putting down his plate, he stood up again, fighting the urge to pace up and down the room. Looking at Krang, he was relieved to see that his friend was not angry.

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“I’ll try to explain better this time” Krang said, laughing. “James, I am asking you to join my House. I would be honoured to call you brother.” “Krang, my friend and brother” Captain Mackenzie said, “the honour is mine.” The Klingon removed his d’k’tahg from its sheath. He glanced down at the palm of his left hand – like that of many warriors of his generation, it was criss-crossed with fine white scars, each of them representing a promise or blood oath. Now he was about to add one more. Strange really, he thought. Many of the younger, modern day warriors disdained this ritual, calling it old fashioned and outdated. They worried that drawing a little blood would make them weak in battle. But he was a Klingon of the old school and followed the old traditions. The blood oath had meaning to him. Opening the blades, he drew the knife swiftly across the palm of his hand. He clenched his fist, encouraging the wound to bleed and violet blood dripped to the floor. Reversing the knife in his hand, he offered it, hilt first to the Federation captain. Captain Mackenzie took the proffered blade and without hesitation, cut open his own palm, wincing as the knife cut deeper than he had intended. Bright scarlet blood welled up instantly from the cut. The two men, Klingon and Terran, clasped hands, standing like that for several moments as they allowed their blood to mix together, until finally Krang stepped back breaking the contact. Retrieving his knife from his friend and wiping it on his sleeve, Krang placed it back in his belt before turning back to his desk and opening the drawer. He picked something up, wrapped in a leather cloth and handed it to the Terran. Captain Mackenzie

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opened the cloth, to find a gleaming d’k’tahg, with Krang’s family crest on the hilt. “It belonged to my older brother” Krang said gruffly, “It is yours now, to wear with honour.” Almost, Captain Mackenzie opened his mouth to refuse but stopped himself in time. This weapon was old, obviously a family heirloom. It was far too good for him to accept. It should have been handed down to Krang’s son when the boy was old enough. But Krang no longer had a son to give it to. He could not remind him of that. Admiring the workmanship of the knife one last time, he deactivated the triple blade and sheathing it, placed it in his belt “If I am part of your family” Captain Mackenzie said slowly, “Then there’s something I want to tell you before it’s made public.” “Go ahead” Krang invited, “I’m listening.” Stepping closer to his first officer and taking her hand in his, the Terran captain said, “Kehlan and I are planning to take the oath. We are going to get married.” Krang looked at the couple, not completely surprised by this. So, he’d been right to wonder about them. “Congratulations, I am pleased for you.” “Actually, he hasn’t asked me yet” Kehlan said grinning, “I may not even accept.” “You won’t refuse” Captain Mackenzie said confidently. “And as your captain, I can always make it an order.” Krang smiled, “Be careful, brother” he said, a note of mischief in his voice, “Kehlan is Klingon, she could still

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go for promotion.” Suddenly serious, he asked, “Have you informed Starfleet yet?” Captain Mackenzie nodded, “Yes, this morning.” His expression darkened as he remembered his conversation with Admiral Portway. “They have refused us permission to continue serving together. One of us will have to resign, assuming of course that I still have a command when all this is over.” “So what will you do?” “I don’t know” the Terran said heavily, “I really don’t know.” ~~~<>~~~ By the time Krang and Captain Mackenzie beamed down to the Council Chambers, the rain had stopped. As the transporter beam released them, the Terran captain looked around him. This was his first visit to the Klingon Homeworld. They had materialised by the steps leading up to the great hall. The building loomed over them, a huge trefoil above the massive doors. Going through the doors, they were stopped by heavily armed guards who demanded their names and business. Handing over their identification, they waited as the guards checked the details, confirming that they were indeed expected by Chancellor Martok. “You can go in now” one of the guards said finally, “Go straight through the double doors in the centre and wait there.” The two captains obeyed, finding themselves in a small private waiting room. They must have been there about half an hour when the door opened and another guard gestured to them to follow him into the Great Hall. The Chancellor was seated in a big thronelike chair in the centre of the room, Admiral Portway 201


standing at his right hand side. Several members of the High Council were also in the room, conducting their business, although they were not close enough to the Chancellor to participate in the conversation. Standing in front of the Chancellor, the two officers were put through an intensive grilling as both Martok and Admiral Portway asked question after question. They had already received and read a full report but wanted to know the details that would inevitably be missing from such a report. The two captains had after all disobeyed a direct order and exacerbated the offence by deliberately staying out of contact for several months to prevent Starfleet communications from reaching them and recalling them back to Federation space. Finally, having listened to everything that Krang and Captain Mackenzie had to say, Chancellor Martok dismissed the two men, ordering them to return to the ante-chamber and wait until they were summoned again. They were left to wait there for almost an hour before a guard appeared, instructing them to go back into the great hall. Captain Mackenzie glanced at his Klingon friend as they obeyed. He was apprehensive, wondering if he would still have a commission by the end of the meeting. Starfleet was his life. Both his parents had been Starfleet officers, and he had grown up on board various starships and starbases. He had never wanted to be anything but a Starfleet officer and he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what he would do if that was taken away from him. It would be his own fault though. He knew that he had been wrong to disobey the admiralâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s orders but knew also that under the same circumstances, he would do the same again.

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Krang saw his friend’s glance and understood. It was different for him though, he was already dishonoured and had been for years. He had learned to live with it a long time ago. Starfleet had given him a second chance, a home and a new career after he had left the Empire in disgrace and he was sorry that he had let them down but even if he could go back he knew he would not change his actions. His biggest regret was that he had not managed to kill more of the enemy. There would be no rest for him until every last Jem’Hadar soldier was dead. Vengeance was all he had left to live for now. Standing once again before the Klingon Chancellor and Admiral Portway, the two captains waited to hear the verdict. It was not long in coming. Chancellor Martok was the first to speak. “By your own admission, both of you are guilty of wilfully disobeying a direct order. While it is acknowledged that your disobedience did result in some good being done, you were both summoned here for a reason. Your disappearance meant that other ships had to be pulled off their own duties, leaving us vulnerable in other areas and we have no way of knowing just what damage that did to the war effort or how many lives were lost as a result.” “I don’t have to remind you what Starfleet regulations say about your actions” Admiral Portway said. “At the very least I should be recommending an article 32 with a view to convening a full court martial.” There was silence again in the Great Hall. For long moments, nobody moved or spoke. The only sound was that of various officials going about their business in the background

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Then, when she felt that the two officers had had enough time to contemplate the consequences of their actions, Admiral Portway broke the silence, saying “In your favour, your actions led to the destruction of a Jem’Hadar weapons production facility against all the odds. That was a great victory for the allied forces. You also recovered Poseidon’s transponder, preventing it from being used against the Federation and rescued several prisoners from the Jem’Hadar. It is my judgement therefore that at this time, a court martial does not serve the best interests of Starfleet or the United Federation of Planets, or for that matter the Klingon Empire.” She glanced at Martok and he nodded. “Make no mistake gentlemen” she continued, “this incident will not be forgotten. You will both receive an official reprimand on your records and forfeit your pay for the time you were missing. I also want promises from you that this will not happen again. I need to know my captains are reliable and that I can trust them.” “I am sure” Martok added, “that neither of you would tolerate such disobedience from any of your own officers. I do not therefore expect it from you. Do I make myself clear?” “I have no excuses, Chancellor” Krang said, “I disobeyed purely to claim my right of vengeance on the Jem’Hadar.” “I also have no excuses, just an explanation” Captain Mackenzie told his superiors, “I couldn’t let Hegh’Ta go into battle alone. It wouldn’t have been right.” Chancellor Martok nodded. As a Klingon warrior he understood those sentiments, although as chancellor he could not openly condone them.

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“You should expect to receive new orders in the next few days. In the meantime, you should concentrate on getting your ships repaired and ready for duty.” Admiral Portway said, “Dismissed.” Both captains saluted and turned to leave. As the two men reached the door, Krang hesitated briefly before turning back to face the chancellor and the Starfleet admiral. “One other thing” he said, “I realise that this is not the best time to mention it, but it must be dealt with. If I may?” Martok made a gesture of consent and Krang continued. “I wish to discuss the problem of Captain Mackenzie and his first officer.” “There’s very little I can do about that, I’m afraid” Admiral Portway said with regret, “It’s completely against Starfleet policy to allow Commander Kehlan to continue to serve with him on the same ship.” “They have been serving together for some time” Martok said testily, “Why does it become a problem now?” It was Captain Mackenzie who answered, no longer able to remain silent, “The problem is that I intend to marry my first officer. Starfleet doesn’t allow married senior officers to serve together.” “We have no such problem in the Empire” Martok said thoughtfully. “You have been of great service to the Klingons, Captain Mackenzie. I will speak to the Federation Council on your behalf; let’s see if they will agree to make an exception.” He glanced at the Terran admiral, “If not, then I still have a battle-cruiser in need of a good captain.”

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“I would be proud to accept” Captain Mackenzie said, stunned. Such an offer of assistance from the chancellor of the Klingon Empire was more than he had expected. “I very much suspect that the Council will listen” Admiral Portway said, unexpectedly smiling, “I think you’ll be keeping the Endeavour for a bit longer, Captain. One way or another, the Klingons are not getting another one of my best officers.” “So, who is she? Martok asked, his tone teasing, “What House is she from?” Knowing just what a touchy subject this was likely to be, Krang answered the question. His Terran friend would not fully understand the care such an issue needed. In the Federation, everyone had the same opportunities, regardless of an accident of birth. Not so in the Empire. “Kehlan has no House or family name” he told the chancellor. “Nevertheless I am proud to accept her into House Inigan” Martok raised his eyebrows, surprised. “A Houseless female? This Kehlan must be something special to have come so far. I’d like to meet her. Is she available?” “Yes, Chancellor. She’s on board the Endeavour” Captain Mackenzie said, “Shall I have her beam down?” Martok nodded, “You’ll have to go back out to the ante-room” he said, indicating a door to the side of the room. “The council chambers are shielded.” The Terran captain left the chamber and a few minutes later returned with his half Klingon first officer at his side, bringing her to stand in front of the chancellor. ~~~<>~~~

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Kehlan was in her quarters packing her belongings when Captain Mackenzie’s summons reached her. Now that she had agreed to marry the Terran captain everything had changed. Whatever they decided to do, these rooms would no longer be hers. She would either serve on a different ship or she would resign her commission and move into the captain’s quarters as a civilian. The truth was, neither option appealed. Deep in thought as she was, the sudden bleep of her combadge startled her. “Commander Kehlan here” she acknowledged, swearing under her breath, it was probably Ch’Pesh summoning her to the bridge again. “Kehlan, it’s James.” The familiar beloved voice came over her badge, “And don’t swear like that, it’s not ladylike.” “In whose culture?” she challenged him, laughing, “I thought you were in a meeting with the High Council.” “I am” he told her, “But Chancellor Martok wants to meet you. I need you to beam down immediately.” “On my way” Kehlan said frowning as she wondered what was going on. Why would the leader of the Klingon Empire want to meet her? Oh well, she wasn’t going to find out by dawdling up here. Sending a quick message to the bridge to inform them that she was leaving the ship, she made her way to the transporter room and beamed down to the coordinates she had been given. As soon as she materialised, Captain Mackenzie took her arm to lead her to where Chancellor Martok was waiting. But something had caught her attention. A woman, obviously Terran but wearing Klingon clothing, stood in a corner of the waiting room. She had her back to Kehlan but even so, the figure was familiar. Surely it

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couldn’t be, Kehlan thought, stunned, it wasn’t possible. Chrissie was dead, how could she be here on the Klingon homeworld? Kehlan hesitated. “James, I…” “Kehlan, come on” Captain Mackenzie said impatiently, hustling her towards the entrance to the council chambers. “You can’t keep the chancellor waiting.”

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Chapter 20

Martok stared silently at the newcomer for a long time. Then, suddenly he got to his feet, shouting in Klingon for the hall to be cleared. Seeing Admiral Portway stand up, he gestured to her to stay where she was, “Not you” he said, “Everyone else, OUT! As soon as the remaining guards and councillors had left the room, Martok approached Kehlan until he stood very close, looking down at her. “Who are you?” he asked harshly, “Who sent you?” “I don’t understand.” Suddenly Kehlan was scared and that made her angry. Sensing her emotions, both Krang and Captain Mackenzie instinctively moved closer to her, ready to defend her should it become necessary. “Look in the mirror, girl” Martok growled, gesturing to her forehead. “Is that your natural crest or has it been altered?

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“I don’t understand” Kehlan repeated, genuinely not comprehending the chancellor’s anger. “Why would I alter my appearance?” Krang’s hand moved to his knife, not liking the threatening tone in Martok’s voice. He could see Captain Mackenzie on her other side doing the same. “Back off, gentlemen” Admiral Portway snapped, urgently trying to defuse the tension before it could explode into violence. “There’s no need for weapons.” “You can put your knives away, I am not going to hurt her” Martok said, stepping back slightly, “But I must know who she is.” “I don’t know who my parents are” Kehlan said angrily. She was not ashamed of her background but it was not something she had wanted brought to the attention of the chancellor of the Klingon Empire. “Why is it so important to you?” “Because if that is your own crest” Martok said heavily, “then you have to be related to me by blood.” He sighed before continuing, “Sirella is really not going to like this.” There was a stunned silence following Martok’s words. Krang looked again at Kehlan’s features, for the first time noticing the resemblance. Although softened considerably by her Terran ancestry, the ridges on Kehlan’s head did indeed match Martok’s. Captain Mackenzie and Admiral Portway could see it too, he noted. They both looked surprised. Kehlan was hit by a moment of pure panic as she began to realise the implications and it was all she could do not to just turn and run. Reaching out, she took Captain Mackenzie’s hand, needing his support and 210


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finding it offered in abundance, she turned to face the chancellor. “Are you saying” she asked, her words slow and hesitant, “that… you might be my… father?” “I spent some time on Earth around thirty years ago” Martok admitted, “Yes, it’s entirely possible that I am your father.” Kehlan turned away. This was a little too much for her to handle at once. Five minutes ago she had been a Houseless orphan, then Krang had claimed responsibility for her. Now it appeared that she was not just related to the head of the entire Empire but he might actually be her father. “We’ll have to have blood tests done to be sure” Martok said, “I would prefer that this be kept private for now. Admiral Portway, would you arrange for one of your Starfleet physicians to do it?” “Yes, of course” the admiral responded “I’ll have the embassy doctor come over and do the tests.” “No!” Everyone present turned to face Kehlan in surprise as she repeated, “No. I do not want these blood tests.” Martok made a low growling sound in the back of his throat as he heard her refusal, but it was the Terran admiral who spoke first. “Commander Kehlan, it’s important that we get to the truth of the matter.” “This is a private matter and my reasons are personal” Kehlan insisted, “Neither Starfleet nor the Defence Force have any right to make me have these tests done.” “If you are indeed my daughter, then you are a member of my House and I am responsible for you” Martok said carefully, “I am not ordering you as

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Chancellor, I am asking you as a man who may be your father.” “It’s too late” Kehlan said, her anger spilling over, “I don’t need you now. If you are my father then where were you when my mother died? Where were you when I was growing up in House Gensa, when no-one would adopt me because I was a nameless half-breed?” “House Gensa?” Captain Mackenzie quietly asked his Klingon friend, he had heard that name before but did not understand the reference. “It’s the state orphanage” Krang responded in a low voice, “It’s where they send the children that nobody wants.” “I cannot change the past, Kehlan” Martok said, sadness evident in his voice, “Had I known of your birth, I swear I would have taken responsibility for you.” “I don’t even know my mother’s name” Kehlan told him bitterly, “I was just three years old when they found her body. She’d been killed with an assassin’s knife and whoever killed her, took her ID. When they put me in House Gensa I couldn’t even speak Klingon.” “Her name was Bradfield – Marilyn Bradfield” Martok said slowly, “She was a security guard at the Klingon embassy in Paris. We had a brief affair just before I returned to Qo’noS.” Kehlan hesitated. If Martok was correct, he had just given her a great gift - her identity. She raised her eyes to his, looking at him, “Very well” she conceded, “I will allow the blood tests.” “Thank you” Martok said, giving a nod of satisfaction. “If the results are positive, as I believe they must be, then I

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will arrange for you to be formally acknowledged as my daughter.” “The results should be kept private” Kehlan said, a stubborn note in her voice, “I believe that your becoming Chancellor is the best thing that could happen to the Empire. The last thing you need now is an illegitimate half Terragnan child turning up.” It was Martok’s turn to be stubborn. “It would be dishonourable of me not to acknowledge you.” “It would be more dishonourable to allow my existence to endanger what you’ve achieved” Kehlan answered, “The Empire needs you to unite it, not tear it further apart.” “Kehlan is right” Krang said suddenly, “This revelation will cause division in the High Council. “I’m sorry Martok, but you have to put the welfare of the Empire first. You cannot acknowledge your daughter at this time.” Martok gave a frustrated snarl, his hand clenching on the handle of his knife, but he knew in his heart that they were right. He had more than just himself to think about now. And the truth was, that he had been dreading having to tell Sirella he had had an affair. It had been before their marriage of course – he would never have dared to cheat on her, but even so, he did not think she would understand. “Then it will remain secret for now. We can decide what to do later when we have the test results.” Martok said regretfully. “Thank you Chancellor” Kehlan said, relieved. “Well, I’m glad that’s settled” Admiral Portway said, “Does anyone have anything else to discuss?”

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“There is just one other thing. It occurs to me, Captain Krang, that you have never been inducted into the Order of the Batleth” Martok said, the change of topic catching Krang by surprise. “I intend to rectify that at the next possible opportunity.” “I am not worthy of such honour” Krang said in disbelief. “I disagree” Martok said, “And since I am Chancellor, the decision is mine. I think you are worthy and the High Council is in agreement with me. You will present yourself at Ty’Gokor for the next ceremony. You’ll be informed of the date in due course.” “Yes Chancellor.” There was no other answer Krang could give. “You have served honourably, Captain Krang. Your wife must be very proud of you.” Martok said, “I’m sure she’ll be glad to have you home for a few days.” Krang’s expression darkened at this. “My wife is dead” he said starkly, “She died in the attack on Frontera.” Martok frowned. “But…” “Krang, she’s…” Kehlan started to say at the same time. They were both interrupted by Admiral Portway. “I’ll handle this” she said, sending an apologetic look to the chancellor. Then, giving Krang her undivided attention, she moved forward, putting her hand on his arm. “I am aware that you received no messages from Starfleet. You’ve been out of communications range for a long time.” When Krang acknowledged this, she continued, “The attack on Frontera was massive; we lost thousands of lives 214


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and many more injured. The city was almost completely destroyed, including the area where you lived.” “I already know that” Krang said harshly, not wanting to hear this. Even after almost five months, it was still too raw, the pain too fresh for him to deal with. “I do not wish to discuss it.” Not really aware of what he was doing, he unsheathed his d’k’tahg, running his hand along the blade as though testing it. “Let me finish, Krang” she said, her voice gentle but firm. “You have no idea just how much chaos there was afterwards. A lot of mistakes were made cataloguing the dead and injured.” She hesitated, “Krang, I’m trying to tell you that your family survived. In fact they are here on Qo’noS.” Alive? Krang froze, his hand tightening uncontrollably on the blade until it cut into him, sending a rivulet of purple blood running to the floor. “They’re alive?” The sudden pain in his hand helped him to focus and he looked up, “You’re saying that Chrissie and the children are alive? He was afraid now, in a way that he had never been afraid before, afraid that he would awaken to find that this was just another cruel dream and that he was still alone. “You’re not dreaming this time” Captain Mackenzie said quietly, understanding what his friend was thinking. Krang had eventually confided in him so he knew about the nightmares that had plagued his Klingon friend night after night. He put his hand on his own knife and unsheathed it, knowing that in a moment Krang’s fear and uncertainty would turn to anger.

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Martok too had sensed it and stepped forward, but Captain Mackenzie waved him back. “This is my fight” he told the chancellor, “He’s my brother.” Krang stared at them, unseeing. “It’s been four weeks since the fleet caught up with us and no-one said anything” he said painfully, “You let me go on thinking they were dead. Why didn’t you tell me?” As Krang’s temper finally snapped, Captain Mackenzie took a deep breath and attacked him. He had never beaten Krang in a knife fight, but he knew instinctively that this time he could not afford to lose. The best tactic, he realised, was to simply keep fighting until his friend had got the anger out of his system and calmed down. In the meantime, he was going to have to concentrate on staying alive. The big Klingon was enraged enough to kill anyone who came near him, and if he did, he would regret it later. The knives clashed, metal against metal. Krang thrust forward and the Terran parried, forcing him back and then pressing home his own attack. Krang twisted his blade and countered, the sheer ferocity of his attack forcing Captain Mackenzie to give ground. Their weapons clashed again, blades tangling together, then the Klingon’s blade slid away from his and caught him on the arm. Unlike the heavy leather and metal armour the Klingon wore, his Starfleet uniform gave him no protection and Captain Mackenzie swore at the sudden stinging sensation. He was aware of the blood staining his sleeve and of the treacherous weakness beginning in his arm. Renewing his attack, he began to force Krang to move back. In the end it was the very savagery of the Klingon’s anger that was his undoing. As Krang raised his weapon high to strike again, Captain Mackenzie saw his

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opportunity and ironically, it was a move that the Klingon had taught him. With a quick twist sideways that would leave him dangerously exposed if he was too slow, he struck, down and across, straight under Krang’s guard, his d’k’tahg burying itself in the Klingon’s abdomen. Krang jerked back, giving a gasp of pain and dropping his knife. As the blade clattered to the floor, his anger and blood lust died away and sanity returned. For a long moment he stared at Captain Mackenzie in shocked surprise. “Kahless!” he swore, “I almost killed you.” “If that’s the case” the Terran queried sarcastically, “Why are you the one with the knife stuck in his gut?” Krang looked down, as though only now becoming aware of the wound, and taking hold of the knife’s hilt, he pulled it free, grunting with pain as the triple blades slid free of his flesh. Wiping the blade clean on his uniform sleeve, he handed it back to Captain Mackenzie. “Why did no-one tell me?” Krang asked hoarsely, “All this time, I thought she was dead. Why wasn’t I told?” “You’ve been out of communications range for a long time” Admiral Portway told him. “We did send messages, several of them, including one from your wife, but it appears you never received them.” “She really is alive” Krang said wonderingly, finally beginning to accept it was true. You said she’s here on Qo’noS. Do you know where she is? “I believe she is staying at your family estate” the Terran admiral said. “Actually” Kehlan said, taking them all by surprise, “she’s outside in the ante-room. I saw her when I beamed 217


down, but James hustled me in here so fast I never had a chance to say anything.” Krang turned and headed towards the door. Flinging it open he strode into the ante-room and stopped dead. It was empty now, just one person remained, sitting there waiting. Kehlan had been right. He stopped, simply staring at her, taking in her presence, that she was not only alive but here, only a few metres away from him. He looked at Chrissie, watching her face light up in a welcoming smile as she stood up to greet him. Slowly, not quite believing, he moved towards her until she was right in front of him. Stopping again, he hesitated then reached out and touched her face. “I thought you were dead” he said, his voice little more than a whisper. “I sent messages” she told him, “You never answered.” Roughly he pulled her into an embrace, bending his head to kiss her as he savoured the feel of her body pressing against his. He pulled back just enough to answer her. “I never received them” he said, repeating what he had already told the Starfleet admiral. Then he asked, “The children… are they all right?” “They are fine” Chrissie reassured him, “You should be proud of them. Toni killed a Jem’Hadar with your spare batleth. I’m so glad now, that I let them learn – we’d be dead now if you hadn’t insisted on the lessons.” She laid her head on his chest with a little sigh. “It’s so good to see you.” Feeling something warm and wet on her hands, Chrissie pulled back, her expression changing to one of concern. “You’re bleeding” she said, “What happened?”

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Krang shrugged, “It’s nothing” he said, a little embarrassed, not wanting to tell his wife that not only had he had just tried to kill his best friend, but that he had been defeated by the Terragnan. It was the first fight he had lost in a very long time. “You really need to get that treated.” Captain Mackenzie’s voice interrupted them. Remembering suddenly that he and Chrissie were not alone, he released her and turned back to his friends. “It’s nothing” he said again, “I do not need medical treatment.” Chrissie looked at the Terran captain who had just spoken, seeing that he too was bleeding from a cut to the upper arm. She could see the still bloodstained d’k’tahg stuck in his belt and realised with surprise that the dagger belonged to the House of Inigan. Why did this man have one of her husband’s knives and why had they been fighting? She knew who he was of course – everyone on Qo’noS knew that. Pictures of Krang and Captain Mackenzie had been all over the news broadcasts since their ships had arrived early that morning. They were being credited with single-handedly destroying a massive Dominion weapons facility. “You know, Krang” Captain Mackenzie said, “I am the senior captain. I’ve never yet pulled rank on you, but I will if I have to. Get that wound treated – that’s an order.” “Actually, I outrank both of you” Admiral Portway said dryly, “and I’m ordering both of you to see a doctor.” Both men turned to stare at her, not moving. “I did say that was an order” the admiral reminded them, “You are going to obey it, aren’t you? Captain Mackenzie?”

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The Terran captain sighed. “Yes admiral.” “Captain Krang?” The big Klingon echoed the other man’s sigh. “Yes admiral.”

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Chapter 21

T’lia was alone in Endeavour’s sickbay, having sent her staff off duty for a well earned rest. It was with some relief that she had discharged the last of her patients that morning. They had been recovering well from their injuries and there was really no point in trying to keep a Klingon in sickbay against his will. Hearing the characteristic whine of a transporter beam, she looked up from the supplies she was cataloguing, wondering with resignation what the latest emergency would be. Somehow she was unsurprised to see that it was once again, the two captains who were in trouble, the Terran bleeding from a cut to his arm and the Klingon from a nasty looking wound in his abdomen, as well as one across the palm of his hand. “What have you been up to this time?” T’lia enquired, her tone exasperated as she approached the two injured men. “On second thoughts, don’t bother to answer that. It’s rather obvious what you’ve been doing. I just wonder

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why I bother to keep patching you up when you just keep fighting.” The Klingon captain seemed different she noticed, it was as though a great weight had been lifted from him. The reason was immediately obvious. T’lia had never met Krang’s wife but the Terran woman standing at his side was the same woman whose image she had seen in Krang’s mind and who she had watched die in his nightmares. Obviously his mate was still alive. T’lia wondered what had happened but dismissed it for the moment as irrelevant. Her immediate concern was to treat her patients. Her curiosity would have to wait. Standing in front of the Vulcan healer, her stern demeanour reminded the Klingon of the many times when as a child, he had stood in front of his mother, awaiting punishment after being caught in another act of mischief. Glancing surreptitiously at his friend, he suspected that Captain Mackenzie was thinking the same thing. “Captain Krang, I need you to take off your uniform jacket and then lie on the bio-bed” T’lia told the Klingon. While Krang was removing his armour, T’lia took a quick look at Captain Mackenzie’s arm, realising immediately that it was just a flesh wound. The Klingon’s injuries were much more severe and had to take priority. T’lia bent over the Klingon, the tissue regenerator in her hand and began to apply it to the wound. It gave off a faint humming sound as it worked, and Krang found that the noise grated on his nerves. He tried to sit up, twisting his body round to face his wife. “Captain Krang, this is a delicate piece of equipment” T’lia said, pushing him back down, her patience

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exhausted. “Unless you want your liver fused to your stomach, I suggest you keep very still.” Finally putting down the tissue regenerator and replacing it with the auto-suture, she began to carefully close the wound. “It’ll be a bit tender for a few days, but I don’t suppose that’ll bother you” T’lia told him, “Now, let me look at that hand.” Obediently he held out his hand and she looked at it for a moment before saying “Make a fist.” He did so, grimacing as he realised his fist would not close properly. “You’ve cut the tendon” T’lia said calmly, picking up the tissue regenerator again and beginning to mend the wound. This time the Klingon kept still and she was able to repair the damage very quickly. “Ok, that’s done, now. You can get dressed again.” Moving over to where Captain Mackenzie was sitting on the other bio-bed, she began to cut the material away from his wound so she could inspect it. The cut was deeper than she had thought and there was some minor muscle damage. It wouldn’t take her long to fix though. Sitting up carefully, Krang swung his legs over the side of the bio-bed and stood up. He picked up the metallic shirt that went under his armour and put it on, but frowned when he saw the damage to his leather uniform. Folding it over his arm, he looked for his wife. Chrissie and Kehlan had made themselves comfortable in some chairs on the other side of the sick bay and were talking animatedly. He wondered what they were discussing and then decided he was better off not knowing. Moving across the room, he reached out and put his hand on his wife’s shoulder. She looked up at him with a smile and he found himself smiling back at her.

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“I need to go back to Hegh’Ta and get another uniform” he said, indicating the ruined mass of leather in his arms. “Why don’t you come with me and I’ll show you my ship?” Chrissie noted his use of the possessive - ‘my ship’ but did not comment. Instead she stood up and placed her hand in his. “I’d like that” she said, suddenly elated as she realised that Krang wanted to be alone with her. She glanced at T’lia for permission and the Vulcan woman was quick to respond. “Yes, Krang can go now. Captain Mackenzie, you can go now as well. I’m finished with you both. In fact…” she added dryly, “I would be grateful if you two could try to stay out of sickbay for a while.” About to leave the sickbay, Krang suddenly remembered something. “Chrissie” he said urgently, “I’ve invited Captain Mackenzie and Kehlan to stay at the estate. I didn’t know…” “Krang, I told you earlier, we could find a hotel” Captain Mackenzie protested, “You two need to spend some time alone together.” “No, honestly, you are both welcome” Chrissie said warmly, “There’s plenty of room, we’ll be glad to have you. We’re not going to get much privacy anyway with a house full of children.” “We’ll come over about dinner time then” Kehlan said, “I’ve got the transporter codes.” “In that case, see you later” Krang said, and slipping an arm around his wife, he pulled her towards the door. ~~~<>~~~

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Chrissie blinked at the unexpected darkness as she materialised on Hegh’Ta’s transporter platform. She had forgotten just how gloomy the interior of Klingon ships were. She had seen the schematics for the new Hunter class ships and knew that they were much bigger than the birds-of-prey that she was used to. Hegh’Ta had six decks compared to the older B’rel class which had only three. They were currently on B deck, just behind the bridge. Her husband’s quarters would be one deck up, on A deck in the main body of the ship. Repairs were being carried out on the Hegh’Ta and the ship was full of crewmen and Starbase engineers all carrying out their assigned tasks. As he led her through the corridors and up the stairs to the next deck, Krang kept her very close to him. He still could not quite believe that she was actually alive and he was half afraid that if he let go of her then she would disappear back into his dreams. Several of the crew greeted him as they passed and he acknowledged. Chrissie could see the curiosity in their eyes as they looked at her and found herself blushing. As they walked together towards his quarters, they heard a voice swearing loudly, somewhere above them and a Klingon officer dropped down from a hole in the ceiling, still swearing. Reacting quickly, Krang pulled Chrissie back, preventing the Klingon from knocking her over. “How many times do I have to tell you, Kargan” Krang exploded, “Watch where you’re going.” The young officer was shocked into silence as he realised he had almost landed on his captain. “Sorry sir” he said finally, “I was just repairing a damaged power conduit.” His eyes widened as he took in Krang’s state of undress and realised that the captain had brought a woman on board. Then he looked again and realised that in spite

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of her Klingon clothing, the woman was actually a Terragnan. Krang laughed at his first officer’s confusion. “Chrissie-oy” he said, “this useless petaQ is my first officer. Kargan, I would like you to meet my wife.” If it were possible, Kargan’s eyes widened even further but he quickly recovered. “I am honoured to meet you my lady” he said formally in heavily accented English, then changing back to Klingon again, he addressed his commanding officer, “Captain, I need to…” He was given no chance to finish. “I am off duty” Krang said, a dangerous note in his voice, “and planning to stay that way for some time. You are my executive officer. Whatever the problem is, deal with it!” “Captain, I…” Again the captain interrupted him, “Dismissed.” “Aye, sir.” As the young officer went on his way, Krang bent close to his wife, telling her quietly, “Actually, he’s a good officer. I’m lucky to have him. Just don’t tell him I said so.” A few more paces and they turned a corner. Chrissie saw two guards, who immediately snapped to attention when they saw the captain. They were standing, one on either side of a door, which could only be the captain’s quarters. Acknowledging their salutes, Krang dismissed them. It was not normal practice but Krang didn’t like the idea of them standing there on the other side of the door while he made love to his wife for the first time in months. Actually, he thought, he probably should have left them 226


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there. The grapevine, as the Terrans called the gossip network, functioned at well beyond warp nine on board a ship. Give them five minutes and everyone on board Hegh’Ta would know what the captain was doing. He didn’t care. As the door shut behind them, Krang threw his ruined uniform onto the floor and reached for his mate. Chrissie went willingly into his arms and pulled his head down to hers to accept his kiss. ~~~<>~~~ The Lady Sirella, mistress of the House of Martok and wife to the chancellor of the Klingon Empire, made her way through the corridors of the Great Hall towards her husband’s apartments. Sirella had had a lot to think about recently. She was still coming to terms with the discovery at Ty’Gokor that the man she lived with for the last two years had been a Changeling who had replaced the man she had married. Suspicion had fallen on her after that and in truth, she understood why. She still asked herself the same question every night – how was it possible that she had lived with him all that time and never noticed the change? Martok had gone out on a hunting trip but it was the Changeling that had come back, not her husband. They had had a fight and after that, their marriage had gone cold. Looking back, it was obvious that the Changeling had deliberately caused it, to prevent her from getting too close. He could never have continued the charade, living with her as a normal loving husband. But despite their estrangement, it had still come as a shock to learn that the man she lived with was a Changeling. After Ty’Gokor, she had just been beginning to get used to life as a widow when she had learned that her husband was still alive. At that point, she found herself

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alternating between happiness at his survival and anger at his dishonour. And the man who returned to her was such a poor shadow of his former self that she grieved for him. It was not the loss of his eye that bothered her, but the loss of his confidence and self esteem. On his return from captivity, Martok had not understood her coldness and in her heart she knew that it was not Martok who had pushed her away, but his replacement. But things couldn’t just go back to the way they were before his captivity, it was going to take time to rebuild their marriage. Sirella had to admit that at first she was not happy about Martok bringing Worf into their House, but as with Worf’s help, Martok reclaimed his pride and honour, she relented and made him welcome. Travelling to Deep Space Nine for Worf’s marriage to Jadzia, Sirella was able to spend some time with her husband and they began to get to know each other again. It was with pride that she followed his achievements. The news broadcasts were full of glowing reports of Martok’s bravery and prowess in battle. But then things had started going wrong again. After only a year of marriage, Jadzia had been murdered. Sirella had clashed with the headstrong Trill but they had eventually come to an understanding and she genuinely regretted the younger woman’s death. It had been so pointless, a bright light extinguished for no good reason. To make things even worse, Chancellor Gowron had become jealous of Martok’s successes and popularity with the troops and had begun sending him on missions that were little short of suicidal. Several crushing defeats followed and it appeared that Gowron would not be

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satisfied until Martok was either dead or completely disgraced. Now though, their fortunes had changed again, and Martok, a commoner from the Ketha Province, was the chancellor of the Klingon Empire. Worf had challenged and killed Gowron, something that Martok had been too loyal to do, believing that to kill the chancellor in a time of war, was treason. However treasonous it might have been, Sirella recognised that it had been necessary. The Empire needed a strong leader and with Martok in control, they just might stand a chance of winning this war. Arriving at the doors to the chancellor’s private rooms, she shrugged off her introspective mood and prepared to greet her husband. The guards outside the door moved aside to allow her to pass, having already learned the hard way that the wife of Martok was not easily denied. She strode past them imperiously and entered his chambers. Martok was not in the main room but she could hear voices coming through an open door that she knew led to a smaller, more private room. Speaking in Federation Standard, Martok was talking via a secure comm. link to a woman, who from her accent, had to be Terran. Moving towards the door intending only to announce herself, the voices became clearer and Sirella was horrified to find herself eavesdropping on a very private conversation, the content of which, was like a knife in her heart. “I need the results of these blood tests urgently” Martok was saying, “I must know if this woman is my daughter” “I’ll have the results for you by tomorrow at the latest, Chancellor” the woman on the vid-screen answered.

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Sirella could see the woman now, a Terragnan in a Starfleet medical uniform. “Good” Martok said, “Make sure that the tests are completely confidential, I don’t want anyone finding out about this. Martok out.” He shut down the comm. link and turned to go back into the main office. Seeing his wife standing in the doorway, Martok froze and Sirella thought with a moment of bitter amusement that the shock on his face probably mirrored the expression on her own. For a long time, neither of them spoke, then “How long have you been standing there?” Martok asked at last. “Long enough” Sirella said coldly, “I never thought you would betray me, Martok.” “There was no betrayal” Martok said carefully. “What happened was long before we ever met. Sirella turned her back on him in a deliberate insult and began to walk away. Losing his temper, Martok went after her and forcibly turned her to face him. “Damn it, Sirella” he yelled, “What do you want from me? I have been faithful to you since the day we first met. With you to come home to, how could I have wanted any other woman?” “Then why do you have a daughter I know nothing about?” “How does any man get a child?” Martok asked sarcastically. “You weren’t my first woman, Sirella. I’ve never lied to you about that. I had affairs, several in fact. Most young men do.” Sirella scowled, but could not in fairness deny the truth of his words. Martok had indeed been honest with her 230


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from the beginning. But that didn’t mean she had to like it. “So when were you going to tell me about this?” she asked, “Or were you going to take the easy way out and let me hear about it on the news?” Martok shook his head. “It won’t be on the news” he told his wife. “We have agreed to keep it private for now. “Well at least you have some sense” she muttered. “So, when do I get to meet this new daughter of yours?” “I don’t know yet if she is my daughter” Martok said defensively. “Do you really have any doubts.?” Martok considered the question for a moment. “No” he said, “I don’t.” “Then I want to meet her.”

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Chapter 22

The transporter beam released Captain Mackenzie and Kehlan and they found themselves standing at the entrance to a large house with an imposing entrance. The Terran captain looked around him, intrigued. This was his first visit to a Klingon private residence and it was nothing like his expectations. The house was separated from the road by a high stone wall with a pair of gates, made of some sort of decorative metal. A long driveway led from the gates, up to the house, extensive lawns and flower beds on either side. Except for the unfamiliar nature of the plants, the scene could have been from any of the great estates on Earth. Everything glistened after the heavy rainstorm earlier in the day and the evening sunlight cast a golden glow over the gardens. Fascinated, Captain Mackenzie took a step towards a particularly lovely shrub covered with massive scarlet flowers, almost the size of dinner plates. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The gardens are beautiful arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t theyâ&#x20AC;? a feminine voice intruded into his thoughts, and startled, he turned

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back to find that Krang’s wife had opened the door. “I wish I could take the credit for them.” “Chrissie loves gardening” Krang told his friends, coming up behind his wife and placing a hand on her shoulder. “She’ll talk about plants all day if you let her. Won’t you come inside?” With a gesture for them to follow, he stepped back into the house. Entering the house, Captain Mackenzie found that, like the garden, it was not what he had expected. The rooms had thick carpets on the floors and the antique furnishings were sturdy, but surprisingly comfortable. Hanging on the wall, was a large portrait of a family group, a man and woman, with three children, two boys and a girl, around them. The man in the picture wore an old style Defence Force uniform and looked very like Krang but there were subtle differences. “That’s Krang’s parents” Chrissie told him, seeing the Terran captain’s interest. She pointed to the youngest of the three children in the picture, a boy, maybe ten years old. “And that’s Krang.” “I hate that picture” Krang growled, embarrassed as both Captain Mackenzie and Kehlan looked from him to the portrait and back again. “You haven’t mischievously.

changed

much”

Kehlan

said

Krang was saved from answering by the sudden clatter as a horde of children came racing through the house and into the living room. Seeing the visitors they skidded to a halt, falling silent. They knew better than to misbehave in front of their parents when there were guests in the house. “James, I would like you to meet my children” Krang said, introducing them one by one.

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“Pleased to meet you, sir” the oldest boy, Toni, said politely. He had seen the captain’s rank pips on the newcomer’s collar and was very much in awe. It was his dream to one day be the commander of a starship. He couldn’t believe he was meeting a real live Starfleet captain and a famous one as well. Captain Mackenzie had actually been on the news broadcast that morning. So had his father, but he was family so that didn’t count. Krang bent and scooped his youngest son into his arms. “It’s time you were in bed, little one” he said affectionately, “It’s getting late.” The excited child looked rebellious, bed was the last thing on his mind, but he didn’t argue. Throwing his arms around his father’s neck, he asked, “Will you take me vavoy?” Tolerantly, Krang nodded, “Of course I will.” Then addressing his guests, he asked them to excuse him and headed towards the door. “Kara, Kehlan” he said to his daughters, “come on, it’s your bedtime as well.” Shooing the two little girls in front of him, he disappeared from the room. “Toni, don’t you and Fina have homework to finish?” Chrissie asked her older two children. “I finished mine earlier” Toni said smugly. “Then you can go and set the table instead” Chrissie told him. The smug look left the boy’s face and he sighed but did as he was told without any argument. “I’ve got some physics to do” Fina said, “Aunt Kehlan, will you help me with it? It’s really hard.” Kehlan laughed, “I’ll be glad to help” she said, “What do you have to do?”

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When Krang returned, he found that his wife had disappeared into the kitchen and his son, having finished his task, was sitting with Captain Mackenzie, asking him question after question about the Endeavour. Fina and Kehlan were sitting together, curled up on the sofa, discussing some obscure scientific principle that meant little to him. Chrissie came in a moment later and placed a tray of food on the table. Toni and Fina had both eaten earlier and as the food arrived and the adults sat down to eat, they got up and left, heading for the big lounge they had appropriated for their playroom. Seeing her husband look warily at the Rokeg blood pie she had just placed on the table, Chrissie said, “Don’t worry Krang-oy, the housekeeper made it, not me.” “My wife cooked a blood pie once” Krang told his friends, “Unfortunately she mistranslated the recipe. It was the worst Rokeg blood pie I’ve ever had.” “What did you do?” Kehlan asked laughing, “Did you tell her?” “I ate it” Krang said, shuddering at the memory “Every last bit of it.” It was Chrissie’s turn to laugh, “He never said a word, just ate it. The next day I found a properly translated recipe in the kitchen waiting for me.” “Chrissie likes to cook, unfortunately.” Krang said, teasing his wife. “What do you mean, unfortunately?” she said indignantly, pretending anger as she removed her d’k’tahg from its sheath and threatened her husband with it. “I happen to be a good cook.”

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Staring into Chrissie’s mischief filled eyes, Krang reached up and gently pushed her knife hand away from his throat. “You can put that away” he said, his voice low and husky. He would gladly play that game with her later, he thought, but not now, in front of their guests. Stepping away from her, hoping his reaction to her nearness was not too obvious, he continued his teasing, saying “And as you see, not only can she not cook, she has no sense of humour.” “Oh, I have a sense of humour. In fact Toni told me a good joke this morning” Chrissie said wickedly. With a grin she glanced at her husband before asking him, “How many Klingons does it take to change a light bulb?” Captain Mackenzie groaned. Updated versions of the old light bulb jokes had been going round the academy for years, especially the Klingon ones. In fact he had told a fair few of them himself in his time. He suspected though that no-one had ever dared repeat them to the Klingon captain until now and he wondered how his friend would react. Krang hesitated, realising too late that he had been set up. “I do not know” he said finally, “But I have a bad feeling you are about to tell me.” Deepening her voice and speaking with an exaggerated Klingon accent, Chrissie proclaimed, “Klingons are not afraid of the dark!” “What did they do the Klingon who changed the light bulb?” Captain Mackenzie asked, joining in the fun. Krang was laughing almost too hard to answer. He had never heard these particular jokes before, but many years ago as a cadet, he had told very similar ones, usually about the Romulans and occasionally even the Terrans,

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and he had a good idea how they went. Trying unsuccessfully to keep his tone serious, he growled, “They executed him for cowardice.” In the midst of all the laughter, Toni came back into the room and tapped his father’s arm to get his attention. Krang looked down at the boy. “What is it?” “Vavoy, a shuttle-car has just pulled up outside” Toni told him, “It’s marked with the chancellor’s insignia.” Krang left the room immediately and went to the front door, opening it. Toni was right, that was Martok’s private shuttle. What did the chancellor want, he wondered? Well he was about to find out. Gesturing to his son to remain indoors out of the way, he went outside and approached the shuttle. As he did so, the door opened and the chancellor stepped out, accompanied by his wife. Krang had never met Chancellor Martok’s wife but he knew her at once. Tall, elegant and stately, this woman could be no other than the Lady Sirella. He approached them and saluted, right fist thumping against left breast in a typically Klingon gesture of respect. “Be welcome in my home” Krang said in greeting and with that he turned and walked back towards the house. His guests followed and at the door Krang stopped and gestured for them to enter. Inside the hallway, the chancellor stopped to admire the portrait on the wall, glancing from the picture to Krang and back again. Krang gave a low growl, daring Martok to comment – a challenge that the chancellor sensibly decided not to accept although there was a distinct glint of amusement in his single eye. Martok sniffed as he turned away from the portrait. “Is that Rokeg blood pie I smell?” 237


Krang nodded, glad that something had distracted the chancellor’s attention away from that awful picture. He would really have to do something about it if they were to remain in this house. “Yes it is. We were about to have dinner.” “I should have called first” Martok said, “It was not my intention to disturb your meal.” “There’s plenty of food” Krang told his unexpected guests. “I would consider it an honour if you would join us.” Martok glanced at his wife, knowing without asking that she would not want to leave until she had got what she had come for. “Sirella?” “We accept your invitation” the Lady Sirella said, her tone implying that they were doing their hosts a favour by accepting. Martok frowned at his wife’s attitude, but the aroma wafting from the dining room was tantalising. “It does smell good” he admitted. “We will be glad to join you.” Following his nose, he went into the dining room, followed by his wife. Krang too followed and began to make the necessary introductions. “Chancellor, you already know my family” he said, “Lady Sirella, this is my wife Christa, my blood brother Captain James Mackenzie and Commander Kehlan, also a member of this House.” Sirella’s gaze flickered past the two Terragnans and settled on Kehlan. Looking at her she understood immediately why her husband was so sure that the results would be positive. The resemblance was striking. She stared contemptuously at the young half Klingon woman that Martok believed to be his illegitimate daughter. “And 238


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what makes you think you are good enough for the House of Martok?” she asked coldly. “I make no claims to the House of Martok” Kehlan said, starting to stand, but Chrissie pushed her back down. She had learned much in her stay on Qo’noS. As Krang’s wife, she was the mistress of the House of Inigan and this was her battle. Getting up, she walked around the table until she stood face to face with Sirella. “Kehlan is a member of this House and this is her home. She is under my protection” she said exhibiting an icy calm that she did not in reality feel. Her hand resting lightly on the d’k’tahg she had taken to wearing, she continued, “You, my lady Sirella, are a guest here, and as such, I do not expect to be insulted by you.” Sirella started to say something, but Chrissie interrupted her, not giving the older woman a chance to speak. “In fact, what makes you think you are good enough to ally with such an old and honoured family as the House of Inigan?” Krang was very tense now, ready to intervene. He knew it was Chrissie’s right to deal with this, but if it came to a fight, there was no way that Chrissie could possibly hold her own in battle against Martok’s wife, and he could not allow her to get hurt. Again Sirella started to speak and again Chrissie interrupted her. “Now, are you going to join us for dinner or are we going to fight?” Unexpectedly Sirella smiled, finding that she respected the way the Terran woman was standing up for her family. “The pie does smell good” she conceded, “I would be glad to try some.” ~~~<>~~~ 239


An hour or so later all the pie had gone and several bottles of vintage blood-wine from Krang’s private stock had been opened and drunk. Fragments of the women’s conversation floated back to where Martok and Krang were standing. “… little boutique in the trading district…” “…this year’s style…” “Listen to them” Martok said in bemusement, “A few minutes ago they were ready to kill each other, now they’re discussing shopping.” Krang laughed. “I know” he said, “One thing is for certain. As long as I live I will never understand women.” “None of us will. It’s probably safer that way” Martok said, “but wouldn’t life be boring without them?” Then sobering, he changed the subject. “Actually, there’s something I need to discuss with you privately.” Krang frowned, but said only, “Come through to my study then.” He opened a door off the main living area and gestured to Martok to step through. Following the chancellor into the study, he closed the door behind him and waited for Martok to explain. “I’ve finally had time to read your personnel file” Martok said, “The complete, classified version. It was very interesting.” Krang stiffened, wondering what was coming, but said nothing and after a moment, Martok continued, “I noticed that you were previously convicted of treason in a Klingon court and sentenced to death. The sentence was never carried out but neither was it ever repealed.” He hesitated for a moment before continuing “The problem, Krang, is that the sentence is still legal.”

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Krang was very tense now. “So, what do you want to do about it?” “Gowron chose to ignore the issue in the light of what happened on Praxis but it is my opinion that it must be dealt with” Martok said, “Therefore, I propose a retrial. I believe it would be beneficial to both you and the Klingon Empire to have this cleared up once and for all. You should be aware though, that it will be a real trial, not a whitewash. It could as easily go against you as for you, and if a guilty verdict is reached, I will have no choice but to uphold the original sentence.” Krang was silent as he considered the chancellor’s words. It would mean reliving a part of his life that he did not want to think about. For himself, he had long since learned to live with the dishonour but he had a family to consider now. The invasion of Earth was highly classified, but if it were to become public at a later date, then his dishonour would be passed on to his children and one day, to their children. Maybe Martok was right. If he won, then the stain on his honour would finally be gone. But if he lost… Slowly he came to a decision. “I will do it on one condition” he told Martok. “And that condition is?” “That if I am found guilty, you will extend your protection to my wife and children.” Martok nodded. “Should it become necessary, I will ensure your family are safe. You have my promise on that.” Krang’s expression was grim as he said, “Then it is settled.” “I thought that would be your decision” Martok said, opening the study door as he spoke. “I’ll make 241


arrangements for it to be done as soon as possible. It will be a closed session of course as most of the events are classified. But in the meantime, I suggest you think about legal representation.” Stepping through the door, he called, rather peremptorily for his wife. “Come Sirella, it’s time we were leaving.” ~~~<>~~~ Seeing the chancellor and his wife leave, the two children ran outside to join their father. They were curious and still a little overexcited after the day’s events – first their father had returned after months away fighting the Jem’Hadar and there had been an emotional reunion. Then the starship captain and their aunt Kehlan had arrived. And now they wanted to know why the leader of the Klingon Empire had come to visit them. Krang however was in no mood to indulge them. With a snarl he turned on them. “Go to bed!” Toni and Fina glanced at each other, but said nothing. They had seen the grim expression on their father’s face and knew at once that this was not a good time to argue. Silently they left and went back inside, heading up the stairs to their own rooms. Slowly Krang followed them back into the house and went to rejoin the other adults. “What’s happened?” Captain Mackenzie asked. It was obvious that something had badly upset his Klingon friend and he was concerned for him. Krang hesitated. He did not want to talk about this but he knew he had to. Slowly, carefully, he told his wife and friends about his conversation with the Chancellor.

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“You’ll need me as Cha’DIch then” Captain Mackenzie said calmly when he had heard everything his friend had to say. “You would stand at my side as Cha’DIch?” Krang asked in astonishment. “I thank you for the offer, my friend, but I cannot accept.” “Give me one good reason why not” the Terran demanded. “You have no idea what you’re getting into” Krang said, “I won’t endanger you like that.” “I told you once before” Captain Mackenzie said stubbornly, “I know what to expect from Klingon justice.” “In this case, I don’t think you do” Krang argued, “If I am found guilty, we would both be executed.” “Then I will die at your side.” Krang gave a growl of frustration. “Kehlan, you tell him why this is not a good idea.” Kehlan shook her head. “I’m sorry Krang, but I’m with James on this one. It is his right as your friend and brother.” Chrissie stepped forward and placed her hand on his arm. “Krang, please don’t shut us out” she said quietly, “We are your family. What affects you, affects us. Let James stand with you.” Krang sighed. He already knew he had lost this argument. He could not fight with his wife but it seemed so wrong to him, to place his friend in danger. James and Kehlan deserved a long and happy married life together. If this went against him, then Kehlan would be left a widow before she was ever a wife. But they were giving

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him no choice. “Chrissie mev Qoh, I believe that you Terrans have a saying” he said ironically, “Et tu bruté.”

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Chapter 23

The spaceport was as always, a frantic hive of activity as ships came and went, the great battle-cruisers and attack cruisers staying up at the orbital facilities and the smaller, more versatile birds-of-prey coming down through the atmosphere to land at ground level. Everywhere, people went about their business, engineers carrying out urgent repairs to damaged ships, crews going on leave or returning to their ships, suppliers bringing in food, including to Krang’s amusement, an entire herd of live targs destined for the kitchens of the IKS Klaa, the flagship of the Seventh Imperial Fleet under the command of Kurn zantai Kazrel, the warrior who had come to their aid at the Jem’Hadar weapons facility. Most of the targs would be slaughtered and put into frozen storage but a few would be kept alive to provide fresh meat for the command crew. In the meantime, their squeals could be heard half way across the city. And as for their smell… Krang was not particularly squeamish but those creatures reeked!

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Only this morning, the Hegh’Ta had been brought down to the ground to make way for the much larger Negh’Var that had just come into port. The bigger vessel had no landing capabilities and parking space up there in orbit was at a premium. Actually, Krang reflected, with so many of Hegh’Ta’s systems being off line, having his ship down here made it easier for him to come and go without having to either take up a shuttle or queue up for the starbase transporter. He was on his way to his ship now. Life for Krang had been insanely busy over the last few days as he tried to oversee the repairs to the ship, prepare for his upcoming trial and still somehow find the time to be with his wife and children. The day after Martok’s surprise visit, a courier had arrived at the Inigan estate with a message for Krang. Not surprisingly, it was from the chancellor, informing him that the date for the trial had been set. Krang read through the missive silently and in a sudden fit of bad temper, threw it on the floor. Turning, he left the house, slamming the door behind him and headed towards the space port. He knew that his reaction was illogical but he did not want to think about the trial just yet. For now he had work to do. He was walking across the landing strip towards his ship when he heard a voice calling his name. He knew that voice. Looking around, he saw that he was right, it was Fleet Commander Kurn zantai Kazrel. He sighed, wondering what the other officer wanted and waited for Kurn to catch up with him. “I heard about the trial” Kurn said, approaching Krang and falling into step beside him. “One of my captains is a trained lawyer. I’ve spoken with him and he’s willing to

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represent you. Qeyn is a good man, if anyone can get you acquitted, he will.” “You’re that sure I’m innocent of these charges?” Krang asked, surprised by the younger man’s offer. Kurn nodded. He had not risen to the rank of Fleet Commander in the Klingon Defence Force without being a good judge of character. “Yes, I think so” he said, “You have honour. I do not think you are a traitor or a coward.” Kurn would think differently once he knew the truth, Krang thought, but he said only “I am a stranger to you. You do not know me.” “Actually, you’re not a stranger” Kurn said, “It didn’t occur to me the first time we met, but I believe we are distantly related. My great grandmother was a member of the House of Inigan. She married into my family just before her House was dishonoured.” Krang winced. Even now, he did not like to think of the damage his actions had caused to his House and family name. but he was going to have to face it. The past had finally caught up with him and it was time for him to take responsibility for what he had done. He had a good idea of the identity of Kurn’s great grandmother, but even so, he had to be sure. “What was her name?” The answer came back just as he had expected. “Her name was Kaghren.” Kaghren. His sister. She was two years older than him. He remembered how as a child, she had broken his arm in a batleth fight. He remembered how she had taunted him the morning of his second Age of Ascension ritual. Nerves had been getting the better of him and he had been afraid that he would fail, that he would not live up to his family’s expectations, but she had made him 247


angry enough to forget his nervousness and go out and succeed. She had joined the Defence Force and after several years honourable service she had returned home to take a mate. The family had given her a big traditional Klingon wedding. Krang could still clearly remember the party – and the resulting hangover the following morning. He had never seen his sister looking quite so beautiful as she had the day she married Karg sutai Khemara. She had given birth to her first child, a son, just before he had been assigned to the Earth project. The boy’s naming ceremony had been the last time he had ever seen his sister. House Khemara was a powerful one but even so it had barely been able to protect Kaghren and Karg after Krang’s treason and disappearance. That the couple had not only survived, but managed to protect the family estate, was little short of miraculous. “How much do you know about what happened?” Krang asked. “Not a lot” Kurn admitted, “Only what is written in family journals. There was a big scandal after a failed campaign and Kaghren’s brother was accused of treason. He and the head of the House vanished, leaving a document that transferred ownership of the estate to Karg and Kaghren.” “And after that?” “The House was formally discommended by the High Council” Kurn told him. “Nobody really knows what happened to the traitor but most people assume he killed his brother and defected to the Federation.”

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“Well, they’re half right” Krang said quietly, “He did defect to the Federation. But he did not kill his brother.” “You sound like you already know all this” Kurn said accusingly. He frowned as something else occurred to him. “Come to think of it, you and the traitor have the same name.” Krang remained silent for a long time. He was sick of all the lies, of having to hide the truth. The events of that time would always remain classified and even if he survived the trial, he would never be able to speak openly of his past. But Kurn was a relative, and the relationship was not as distant as the other man thought. This brave warrior had offered his friendship and help and to not tell him the truth would be a betrayal. “I am not what you think I am, Kurn” he said eventually. “The House of Inigan did not go underground after it was dishonoured. I was not named for the man you call traitor. I am that man.” Seeing the look of surprise on Kurn’s face, he continued, a note of bitterness in his voice, “Yes. Your great grandmother Kaghren was my sister.” It was Kurn’s turn to remain silent as he considered what Krang had told him. He did not quite understand how that was possible but he could see the conviction on the other man’s eyes. It was obvious to him that Krang was telling the truth. “I assume then, that this new trial relates to what happened in the past” he said slowly. “I won’t ask if you are guilty – that is for the judge to decide. My offer of aid still stands. Qeyn will represent you in court, and I will be there to watch the proceedings.” Before Krang could answer, he hit his comm. badge and called for beam up. Moments later he disappeared in a column of shimmering light.

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~~~<>~~~ “This is Koval of the United Qo’noS News Service reporting from outside the Court of Justice where a few minutes ago the trial of Commander Krang epetai Inigan got underway. The session is closed to civilians due to the classified nature of some of the material being discussed and we can therefore only speculate on what is happening inside. However, we understand from a leaked document that the Commander is accused of treason against the Klingon Empire. We do not at this time know the reason for the accusation. It is believed that his Federation colleague Captain James Mackenzie is standing by his side as Cha’DIch. “As we previously reported, the IKC Hegh’Ta and the USS Endeavour, under the command of these two officers, were credited with the single handed destruction of a Jem’Hadar weapons production facility. In the five months that the ships were missing, it is believed that they were also instrumental in the capture of a Cardassian ship and Breen energy weapon and the destruction of a Jem’Hadar warship. It is not yet known whether these actions will affect the outcome of the trial. “Two days ago the Empire hailed these two men as heroes, now it is putting one of them on trial for treason. A guilty verdict would certainly mean the death penalty for both the accused and his Cha’DIch.” ~~~<>~~~ Escorted by a pair of heavily armed Klingon warriors, Chrissie entered the courtroom and looked around her nervously. All around her, high above the floor where she stood were what looked like observation levels similar to those balconies in old Earth theatres where at a normal

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trial, the general public could stand and watch the proceedings. It didn’t look as if there were seating arrangements for spectators and she remembered with a touch of bitter humour that Klingons gave little, if any, consideration to physical comfort. But this trial was a closed session and today the upper terraces were empty. At one end of the room was a raised platform containing the only seat in the room – a great throne-like chair with a sturdy table in front of it. Chrissie guessed that this was where the judge would sit. The chamber itself was dimly lit and the fine smoke billowing from the torches fastened to the walls, gave a reddish glow to the room, adding to the heat permeating the chamber like a blanket. Qo’noS was a hot planet at the best of times and this was one of the hottest summers on record. So far the hall was almost empty. Apart from Chrissie and the two guards, the only other living beings within the chamber were her husband and Captain Mackenzie, standing at Krang’s side in his role as Cha’DIch. Also present were the defence lawyer - a middle-aged warrior wearing a Defence Force captain’s uniform named Qeyn and the prosecutor, a tall heavyset Klingon called T’Bor, who looked a little older than Krang. Qeyn stood quietly, waiting with remarkable patience for the judge and chancellor to arrive. T’Bor’s attitude however, was very different. Standing with his arms crossed, his fingers twitching, he looked as though he was having to restrain himself from pacing impatiently up and down. Not knowing what to do or where to go, Chrissie took a step towards her husband but one of the guards escorting her stepped in front of her, preventing her from

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approaching the defendant. Silently, he gestured towards an empty area at ground level, separated from the main hall by a waist high, heavy, ornately decorated railing. Obviously that was where the witnesses were supposed to wait until they were called to the stand. Obediently she went where she was directed and the two guards took up position at either side of the gateway. The silence of the courtroom was broken then, the suddenness of the noise startling Chrissie and making her jump, as Chancellor Martok made his entrance. The leader of the Klingon Empire pushed open the massive doors with enough force to make the massive wooden constructs thud against the opposing walls, the sound echoing throughout the room. The heavy cloak flapping regally about him, he strode across the chamber and took his place at the far end, almost directly opposite where the judge would sit. Behind him, those members of the High Council who had chosen to attend, followed at a respectful distance, moving around the courtroom to take their places, where they turned to face the parties involved and stood resolutely in varying positions, some with hands behind their backs, others with arms folded before them, all of them displaying that inner confidence, bordering on arrogance, that came with high rank. As the last of the council members settled themselves into place, the doors to the second level, the judgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s level, opened, and a dignified, grey haired Klingon slowly entered the room. The judge stood in the doorway for a moment, taking the opportunity to survey his surroundings, his gaze stopping occasionally on people he knew, or those he did not know at all - as such, the chancellor, two or three of the council members, Krang

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and the two humans gained long individual looks from the old Klingon standing on the dais above them. Slowly and with great dignity, he approached the throne-like chair that was set aside for his use and seated himself. The judge held a gavel in his hand, a gavel that to Chrissieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyes, seemed sinister in its design, a symbol of the injustice that was being done here today. It looked like the clawed hand of a demon grasping a globe and the sight of this implement of law made the human woman fight the urge to shiver. After raising the gavel and holding it in mid air for a moment, the judge struck the table top before him with unexpected strength, making sparks fly from the bottom of the globe. Lifting the gavel again he struck the table a second time, and then again, a third time. Chrissie was unable to suppress the shudder that tore through her. Krang had explained the proceedings to her and she knew what the banging of the gavel meant. The trial, her husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s trial for treason, had begun. As the judge began to speak, Chrissie watched her husband, desperately wanting to approach him and take his hand for their mutual comfort, but the ancient traditions of this place would not allow it. This particular courtroom was reserved for the more serious crimes, such as treason and it was rarely used. Klingon justice was nothing if not direct and criminals were not often taken alive, preferring death before capture. Of those who were brought here, few ever left as free men. Forcing herself to pay attention to the proceedings, Chrissie listened to what the judge was saying. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Krang son of Marek of the House of Inigan, you stand before us today, accused of treason against the Klingon Empire. You have already been found guilty of this crime

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in your absence and sentence has been passed. That sentence was death. However, at the request of the Chancellor..” He glanced across at Martok, his expression making it clear that he did not appreciate the chancellor’s interference in judicial affairs, “Today we begin a new trial.” Again the judge looked around the courtroom, surveying those present, his gaze finally coming to rest on the outworlder who stood by the side of the accused. “Captain James Mackenzie, this is an internal Klingon matter and does not involve the Federation. What is your purpose here?” The Terran captain stepped forward. He was wearing ceremonial Klingon clothing rather than his Starfleet uniform, emphasizing his role in the proceedings. “I stand here as Cha’DIch to my brother Krang.” The judge frowned. “You are a Terragnan, Captain Mackenzie. Are you sure that you understand the significance of what you are doing?” “I understand that whatever the outcome of this trial, I will share his fate” Captain Mackenzie responded, his voice clear and firm. The judge gave a nod of acknowledgement and lifting his gavel again, he brought it down sharply against the desk. “Very well. Court is in session. Prosecutor, you may begin.” The prosecuting lawyer. Colonel T’Bor, moved into the centre of the room. “The prosecution contends that Krang son of Marek is guilty of the charges laid against him and intends to prove that he did wilfully disobey orders from the High Council, and that he did commit treason by collaborating with the enemies of the Klingon

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Empire. We call our first witness, Christa Martinez to the stand” “I object” Captain Qeyn interrupted. “Under Klingon law a wife cannot testify against her husband.” “The prosecution acknowledges that this is correct” Colonel T’Bor said quickly. “However, this woman is one of the very few surviving witness to this period of history. It is our intention, not to use her testimony against the accused, but to explain much of the background of what actually happened. We believe that this will be of interest to all present, including the defence.” The judge nodded. “You are correct when you state that there are very few living witnesses to these events. In fact there are only two available to us – Krang son of Marek and his wife Christa Martinez. However, Chancellor Martok has authorised the release of classified documents from the historical archives. Starfleet Command has also sent us the appropriate mission logs from the USS Enterprise commanded by Captain Kirk. It is my feeling that due to the unique circumstances of this case a different approach is necessary. If both the prosecution and the defence will agree, I believe that we should begin by allowing those involved to simply tell their story, uninterrupted and in their own words.” The prosecutor and defence lawyer stared at each other for a moment in total surprise. This part of the trial, the mek’ba, had strict rules for the presentation of evidence and what the judge was suggesting was a complete departure from standard trial procedure. Qeyn hesitated, considering his options. He had already heard Krang’s story and although Kurn had succeeded in persuading him to take the case, he did not hold out much hope of actually

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winning. Certainly they had nothing to lose in trying this new strategy. Finally he nodded. “I agree.” “I also agree” Colonel T’Bor said, turning to face Chrissie as he spoke. “Will you agree to testify under these circumstances?” Very pale, Chrissie stepped forward, glancing nervously over to her husband was standing. He gave a slight nod and reassured, she said “I will testify.” At the judge’s signal, she moved across the room and took her place in the witness stand. “Will you confirm for the record, your name, date of birth and planet of origin.” “I am Christa Martinez, wife to Krang son of Marek of the House of Inigan. I was born on Earth on June 20th 1968.” She hesitated before admitting. “I don’t know the stardate. We didn’t use them then.” “Tell us about the invasion of Earth” “It was 1992 and I had just celebrated my twenty fourth birthday” Chrissie said. She closed her eyes momentarily as the memories came flooding back. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she began to tell her part of the story.

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Chapter 24 Madrid, Earth, 1992

The day Earth was invaded began just like any other day. It was dull and cloudy, a little unusual Chrissie thought, considering that she lived in Madrid, the very heart of Spain. Normally at this time of year, late June, the temperature would be at least 40°C. She didn’t know that the cloud formations were being caused by a fleet of alien ships coming through the atmosphere, and was just grateful for the slight drop in temperature. The heat had been too much for her lately, after all, she was eight months pregnant with her second child. She had been married to Diego for nearly four years now and had a two year old son, Antonio. Her husband never called her Chrissie, of course, he had always insisted on calling her by her full name, Christa. He was the only one who did. One of Chrissie’s closest friends, an English girl named Sarah had come to visit and she was glad to have company. Sarah was married to an American naval officer who was currently stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. A successful businessman, Diego was 257


away on yet another business trip so the two girls were spending a lot of time together. One of the Spanish TV channels had decided to screen an old classic, War of the Worlds that afternoon and as they were both avid sci-fi fans, they settled down to watch it. Before long, they were both engrossed in the story and were taken by surprise when the film was interrupted by an unscheduled news broadcast. “This is a special news bulletin –We interrupt your programme to inform you that a large group of people, claiming to be from another world, indicate that they have taken control of all military facilities and territories on the face of Earth. Please keep calm, as these reports have not been confirmed. The terrorists, calling themselves “Klingons” claim they have arrested all world leaders and political representatives. This cannot possibly be true and there is no corroborating evidence but…wait a moment…wha-what are you doing in here!?! Who are you!?” Even as the news presenter spoke, a terrorist backhanded the announcer out of the way, sending him straight into the wall behind him. The terrorist came into full view of the cameras, and several more of them could be seen in the background. The two girls looked at each other and burst into laughter. “Oh, come on” Sarah giggled, “That was funny the first time, but it’s not exactly original now.” “You’ve got to admit the makeup is pretty good” Chrissie said thoughtfully. She reached for the remote control and changed the channel. To their surprise however, the view remained the same. Beginning to wonder, she tried again, BBC Worldwide this time, but the view did not change. She switched again, to CNN still no change.

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The girls exchanged another look, no longer laughing. “I don’t like this” Chrissie said, “There’s definitely something wrong here.” This time, Chrissie allowed the newsflash to continue, beginning to realise that the features of the invader were not disguised by a mask or even makeup as they had first assumed. These men weren’t just terrorists in a costume and the weapons they carried weren’t just movie props. they had to be real, highly advanced aliens. The Klingon began to speak. “Attention citizens of Earth, I bring you greetings from the Klingon Empire. Now that all pleasantries have been dispensed with, I will inform you that your planet, and solar system are now a part of the Empire. Your armies have been defeated and your leaders and politicians arrested. An imperial adjunct will be assigned to each of your major cities to ensure that you comply with our words. We control everything and demand nothing less than your immediate and unconditional surrender. Obey us and you will not be harmed, but resist and your cities will drown in blood! Glory to the Empire!” Shaking, Sarah reached across and took the remote control, turning off the television. The phone rang, the strident noise tearing through the silence, startling them and making them jump. Chrissie was almost afraid to answer it, but it was only her brother David, ringing from America where he practised medicine. “There’s just been a major all-channels newsflash” David said to his sister, “Did you see it? Are you all right?” “Yes, I saw it. David, I think it’s genuine” Chrissie said, “I'm scared.” “It is genuine” David told her and she could hear the horror in his voice. “I’m still at the hospital, we've had

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casualties coming in all night, there’s so many dead and injured we can't cope. And I’ve seen several of these... Klingons.” He was quiet for a moment as someone in the background called to him. “Chrissie, I’m sorry. I have to go, there’s another load of casualties coming in. I’ll contact you again as soon as I can.” The phone went dead as he hung up and Chrissie was left listening to the dial tone. ~~~<>~~~ As the invasion progressed, Chrissie learned a whole new definition of the word ‘apprehension’. Several days after her brother’s phone call, Diego had finally come home, his normally immaculate business suit torn and dirty and his right arm covered in bandages. Chrissie was so relieved that she burst into tears when she saw him. Hugging her with his uninjured arm, he kissed her tenderly, explaining that he had been caught up in the fighting. Chrissie was used to her husband being away from home a lot on various business trips but she’d thought, hoped, that with the Klingon invasion, he would stay at home with her. But he continued to spend a lot of time away, sometimes being gone for days on end. He wouldn’t tell her where he was going or what he was doing and she was getting more and more scared. The news channels continued to broadcast the latest information. The Klingon invaders hadn’t been exaggerating when they had announced that the planet had been defeated. American and European forces had taken heavy casualties and a staggering number of planes and ships had been destroyed in the initial efforts to repel the invaders. Sarah had been devastated to learn that one of

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the ships lost, with all hands, was the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. Since that first announcement things had got steadily worse. The best weapons and most elite forces that Earth had to offer didn’t stand a chance against the advanced technology of the Klingon invaders. Guns and bullets could not prevail against disruptors, nor could the most up to date anti-aircraft systems take down even the least of the Klingon fleet. The fighting was sporadic now, and mostly involved guerrilla action. There were no armies left to fight but in every country of the world, people who had formerly been enemies, stood together in the fight for freedom. Differences such as race, colour, religion or politics were no longer relevant. If only they but knew it, the Klingons had succeeded where years of talks and peace summits had failed. Earth had finally united. Over the next few weeks, Chrissie saw less and less of Diego and she spent most of her time in a state of almost complete panic, wondering when, or if, her husband would return. She was absolutely exhausted now, both physically and mentally. Summer had returned with a vengeance and the heat was stifling. With a two year old boy running around, getting into everything, a husband who was never at home and the baby almost due, Chrissie was struggling badly and without Sarah’s help, she knew she could never have coped. During one of her husband’s brief visits home, Chrissie practically begged him to tell her what he was doing, only to find, once he had given in and told her the truth - that he was working with the resistance movement that had formed to fight the Klingon occupancy - that she really didn’t want to know. She pleaded with him again to stay with her, to avoid the fighting, but Diego was determined to rid the world of these invaders. He said he 261


was doing this for her and their children, and with one final kiss, he left to return to his comrades. That was the last time she saw him alive. Neither Chrissie nor Sarah had any idea what the next days would bring. The two women had somehow settled into a routine to keep their minds off their troubles – Chrissie worrying for her husband and Sarah grieving for the loss of hers. Two days had passed since Diego had returned to the resistance and Chrissie hadn’t heard a word from him since. She was in the kitchen that morning, putting some dishes away when she heard it - a massive explosion so strong it rattled the entire house. Suddenly afraid, she hurried outside. Far in the distance, she could see thick clouds of toxic black smoke rising from the central area of the city, obscuring the sun. Around lunchtime she saw the news that a bomb had exploded in the city centre, outside the Klingon headquarters, killing not only several of the aliens but a good number of humans as well. Chrissie sat down in numb shock, knowing instinctively that this had been the work of the resistance. But despite this, she knew, she prayed, that Diego hadn’t been part of it. It wasn’t possible! He wouldn’t do something like that. But still, there was a nagging doubt, a voice in her mind, telling her that he was involved, and it refused to be silenced, no matter how much Chrissie tried to distract herself. They were running short of fresh food and the day after the bombing, Sarah went down to the local market to see what she could find. She was gone for several hours and Chrissie was alone in the house, with only her little

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son for company when late that afternoon, there was a thunderous knocking on the door. As Chrissie got up to answer it, the door burst open and two Klingons entered the house and approached her. Chrissie stood rooted to the spot, terrified. The news reports were full of tales of Klingon brutality. Heavily pregnant, and about as mobile as a beached whale, the baby now due in two weeks, she knew all too well that she could not hope to defend herself against these alien warriors. One of them, the older and more senior of the two, spoke “You are the wife of Diego Martinez?” Too scared to speak, Chrissie simply nodded, but as the other one bent over and picked up the little boy, she found her voice “Put him down, don't hurt him.” The Klingon gave her a disgusted look as her little boy got hold of a lock of his hair and gave it a sharp tug. She held her breath but nothing happened. The Klingon scowled, growling “Klingons do not hurt children.” He looked at her, appraising the size of her bump, “Or pregnant women!” Still apprehensive, Chrissie asked them, “What do you want?” The first Klingon spoke again, “Your mate, Diego Martinez, took part in the bombing this afternoon. He is dead.” Chrissie stared at him in shock and disbelief. “No! That… that can’t be right. I don’t believe you.” The Klingon bristled at the insult but realised that it had not been intentional. Humans were weak and soft and did not understand the Klingon way of honour. Not only that but he had children of his own back on the homeworld and had learned the hard way that pregnant 263


women tended to be over emotional. Carefully schooling his voice so it wouldn’t seem too harsh, he said only, “A warrior does not lie about such matters!” He then went on to describe Diego from the security footage taken from the Klingon headquarters and confronted with this, Chrissie had to accept that not only had her husband been involved, but that he wasn’t coming back. The shock was too much for her and she swayed unsteadily on her feet. One of the aliens put out an arm to steady her and helped her to a seat. She was startled, not expecting that. Surely these were monsters – why were they being so courteous? “Can I see his body?” she asked desperately. Despite all the evidence, she could not quite bring herself to believe - did not want to believe - it was true, that her husband was dead. “That’s not possible” one of them said, “He died in the explosion, there's nothing left to bury.” ~~~<>~~~ The Court of Justice, Qo’noS, 2375

There was silence in the court room as Chrissie paused. She’d been happily married to Krang for several years now, but even so, reliving the death of her first husband in this way was not easy for her. Eventually she continued. “After that they asked me a lot of questions about my husband. I think they were trying to find out how much I knew about his activities and whether I could lead them to other members of the resistance. But Diego never talked about what he was doing, he knew I didn’t like it and he thought the less I knew the safer I would be.” Chrissie paused again, the events of that day vivid in her mind. She’d gone into labour that afternoon – the doctors at the local hospital told her the shock had caused 264


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it, and a few hours later her child was born, a little girl who would never know her father. Numb with grief and alone with two small children, Chrissie hadn’t known what to do. In the end, true friend that she was, Sarah had managed to get permission for them to fly to America to be with Chrissie’s brother. Travel was extremely restricted, everything was controlled by the Klingons and Chrissie never did find out how Sarah managed to get the travel permit. But obtain it she did and a week later, Sarah, Chrissie and the two children arrived in New York to find David waiting for them at the airport. Aware of his wife’s distress, Krang was very tense now. He knew how hard this was for her. Abruptly he decided to act. There was a murmuring in the crowd as Krang moved forward, making it clear that he wished to speak. The judge held up a hand for silence and the spectators unwillingly obeyed. “You have something to say?” the judge asked Krang. Krang nodded. “Yes, I do. We had been on Earth for four years when the Federation got involved and I first met my wife. There is nothing more she can tell you about the early days that is of any relevance to this trial. I believe that now would be a good time for you to hear about what the Klingons were doing during that time.” Bowing his head, the judge acknowledged the truth of that. “Very well. Speak then.” The courtroom fell silent again as Krang began to tell them of the events leading up to the Klingon invasion of Earth. As a Captain of Security he had not been directly involved in the actual fighting. That had been the job of the Generals and high ranking military officers. His orders had been to run security on Earth and keep the

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people under control once the initial invasion was over. An experienced officer, he’d done a good job and during the four years he had spent on Earth there had been very little crime – any infringements of the law had been dealt with swiftly and harshly. The resistance movement however had proved impossible to quell completely. Earth’s military forces might have been defeated but despite the technological disadvantages, the Terrans were surprisingly good at guerrilla style action and sporadic fighting continued throughout the four years that the Klingons ruled the planet. It had been in one such action that Chrissie’s husband had been killed.

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Chapter 25 First City, Qoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;noS 2264

The Klingon captain of Security stood by the great hexagonal window in his office, staring out at the view across the city. He had just returned after a visit to Rura Penthe that had combined a routine inspection with the interrogation of a political prisoner who it was believed had held important classified information. Krang hated Rura Penthe with a passion. The Klingon Empireâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most notorious prison planet was a frozen, barren wasteland. All the facilities were deep underground, nothing could survive for long on the surface. Just thinking about that horrific place made him shiver. Feeling as though he would never be warm again, he moved across to the replicator and ordered a raktajino. That should drive some of the cold out of his bones, he reflected. He wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mind so much if the trip had proved to be worthwhile but it had been a complete waste of time. The inspection had gone according to plan but the interrogation had been a different matter. The prisoner had broken quickly but they

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had learned nothing that was not already known from other, more reliable sources. As the beverage materialised, Krang picked it up and went back to his desk. There was a lot of work for him to catch up with. It didn’t look as though his subordinates had done much work while he was away, everything seemed to have been left to just pile up on his desk. He sighed. It was about time his assistants took a bit more responsibility and used their initiative to get things done. Taking a mouthful of the scalding hot raktajino, he picked up a padd and settled down to do some work. One of the most important pieces of outstanding work on his desk was a report from a deep cover agent who had successfully infiltrated Starfleet and was now serving on one of the Federation’s starbases. He read the report carefully and began to formulate a response to be sent to the agent at the next scheduled communication. His comm. unit buzzed, indicating an incoming transmission. Activating the unit, he was unsurprised to find that it was his brother. Older than Krang by nearly ten years, Meren was the head of the House of Inigan. “I heard your ship had docked this morning” Meren said, “How did the trip go? “I shouldn’t have bothered going” Krang said, “I’ll send a deputy next time. So, what can I do for you – I assume this isn’t just a social call” “Can’t I call my little brother to say hello?” Meren asked, laughing. Krang shook his head, he knew his brother better than that. “No” he said with certainty, “You want something. So, what is it?”

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Actually, I called to tell you they’ve finished installing the prototype” Meren said, “We’re ready to take the ship out and test it. How soon can you be ready?” “Give me a couple of hours” Krang answered, “I’ve got a lot of work to get through before I can leave again.” Meren acknowledged and signed off. Staring at the blank screen, Krang frowned. He did not like the idea of this new mission. Somehow the whole idea of using time travel to go back and defeat an enemy when they were technologically disadvantaged did not seem honourable to him. He sighed. He had his orders and he would obey them. ~~~<>~~~ The tiny bird-of-prey that Meren had named Night Dagger flew across the Klingon border and into Federation space. Not much larger than a shuttlecraft, it was a private vessel belonging to the House of Inigan and apart from the two brothers, only three other people were on board – an engineer, a navigator and the scientist who had designed the prototype of the time dilator that had been installed in the tiny ship. Well aware of the danger involved in travelling so far into enemy territory, Meren had ordered the ship cloaked as soon as it crossed the border. Much as he would enjoy the fight, Night Dagger was too small to be a match for a Federation starship and their mission was too important for them to risk detection. Small Night Dagger might be, but it was also fast and manoeuvrable and it did not take long to reach its destination – a quiet spot, well off the commercial space lanes, where they could test out the prototype without being disturbed. 269


As the tiny ship was pushed to its maximum speed, the crew were making the final preparations to engage the time dilation device. When the scientist, a rather small, portly Klingon named Gre’taq finally indicated that everything was ready, Meren gave the order and the device was activated. Still flying at incredible speed, Night Dagger began to shake violently as the time dilation field formed about it, forcing everyone on board to hang on tight to whatever console was nearest to them. The shaking increased until it was almost unbearable and then with a suddenness that seemed almost shocking, everything went still as with a shower of sparks the lights went out. The bridge did not remain dark for long. Emergency lighting came on almost immediately, illuminating everything in a deep reddish glow which cast eerie shadows on the consoles. “Damage report” Krang snapped. The engineer was already fiddling about with the systems in an attempt to find out what had gone wrong. “Minor engine damage” he reported after a moment. “It looks as though the conduits couldn’t handle the power requirements of the prototype.” “Can you fix it?” The question came from Meren. “Yes sir” the engineer answered confidently, “We should have no problem getting back to our own time but the return journey will probably blow the conduits again.” “But you’ll be able to fix them again?” At the engineer’s nod, Meren said thoughtfully, “So, that just leaves the question of when are we?”

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“It appears, sir, that we have gone forward in time, rather than back” the scientist reported, carefully studying the data in front of him as he spoke. “I believe the Science Institute have not calibrated the device as well as they thought. It will be necessary to realign the…” “Yes, yes!” Meren interrupted, impatient as always with the little scientist’s rambling. “You can discuss that with the institute when we return.” He would have said more, but he was interrupted in his turn by his younger brother. “Meren, we’re being hailed by a Federation starship.” Krang’s voice sounded strained. “You’d better look at this.” At Krang’s words, everyone on board the Night Dagger turned to look, only to be stunned into silence. All of them stared at the screen in shock and even a little awe. Since when had the Federation had anything even remotely resembling that? The starship floating serenely in front of them was far bigger than anything they had ever seen. Its shape was similar to that of the ships they were familiar with but its lines were sleeker and everything about it screamed speed, manoeuvrability and sheer power. Meren was the first to recover. “What in Gre’thor’s name is that?” he snapped, his voice betraying the tension he felt. “Get me an ID on that ship.” The order proved superfluous as a voice, speaking Federation Standard, came crackling over the radio. Gre’taq immediately went to the communications console and began to tweak the system, bringing it back to full capacity and clearing up the message.

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“… Captain Edward Hunter of the USS Ulysses. Identify yourself.” “The Ulysses?” Krang was already pulling up data on his console. “Klingon Intelligence has no record of any starship with that name.” Even as he spoke, he was already initiating passive scans, designed to gain as much information about the other vessel as possible, without the scan being detected. “Interesting.” Meren commented. “Put this Captain Hunter on screen. I want a good look at the interior of that ship.” The little scientist obeyed and the picture on the screen changed, the exterior of the ship giving way to a view of what had to be the bridge of the Ulysses. The man standing in the front appeared to be a fairly ordinary Terran in a red and black uniform that none of the Klingons had ever seen before. What was visible of the bridge behind him, was also unfamiliar – an enormous room, brightly lit and with wide open spaces, a large semicircular console in the centre with three chairs in front of it. The centre of the three chairs, evidently the captain’s was unoccupied. The Federation captain stared back at the Klingons. “Our scans show that you have sustained some damage to your engines” he said, his tone polite and friendly. “Do you require assistance?” Meren hesitated for a moment before answering. He was well aware that should this ship decide to open fire there would be no contest. Just one well placed shot would blow his little Night Dagger out of existence. He was surprised that the ship had not already opened fire – the Federation and the Klingons were enemies after all

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and this far into Federation space he could hardly claim it was a navigational error. Nevertheless, he decided to bluff it out. “The damage is minor” Meren said finally, “My engineer will be able to carry out the repairs without assistance.” Captain Hunter nodded. “Well we are on our way to Starbase 92” he said cheerfully, “You are welcome to put in there for some R&R if you have the time. There’s a good Klingon restaurant there. If you make it, give me a call and we’ll share a bottle of blood-wine.” Somehow Meren was able to hide his surprise. A Klingon restaurant on a Federation base? He knew they had travelled into the future but even so… had things really changed so much? “I regret that will not be possible” he said evasively. “Maybe some other time. Night Dagger out.” Closing down the communication, he turned and snapped at his engineer. “Well, what are you waiting for. Get those engines back on line and get us back to Qo’noS - and to our own time period!” ~~~<>~~~ Three months after Night Dagger’s little excursion into the future, everything was ready. The time dilation device had been recalibrated and the power drain was no longer a problem. By unspoken consent, none of the Klingons on board the little ship would ever speak of what they had found in the future, instinctively knowing that the thought of peace with the Federation would not please the High Council. They wanted to conquer the Federation, not make friends with them and any other result was unacceptable.

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The initial stages of the invasion went according to plan. The time dilator had worked perfectly and the fleet of Klingon ships had come down through Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s atmosphere, making short work of the planetary defence system. Ironically, the various governments had been so busy watching their neighbours that it hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t occurred to them to expect trouble from space. The fighting over, the military had withdrawn leaving Krang and his security forces in charge of the planet. His orders? To keep a tight control on the planet and to ensure that those people who might be involved in the scientific discoveries that had been the precursors of the development of warp flight, and hence the formation of the Federation, were arrested and prevented from fulfilling their role in history.

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Chapter 26 Earth, 1992

When the bomb exploded in Madrid it was 4 a.m. in New York. Krang was still in his office where, after 48 hours on duty he had finally given in to exhaustion and fallen asleep, his head resting on the paperwork piled on his desk. When the comm. unit began to buzz he groaned and ignored it but the strident sound continued. Still half sleeping, he reached out and activated the comm. link, “Captain Krang here” he growled, “NuqneH?” “Sir, there’s an urgent call for help just come in from Madrid.” The Klingon Captain frowned, “Karaq is in charge there. Can’t he deal with it?” “There’s been an explosion, sir” the answer came back, “Karaq is dead.” Immediately wide awake, Krang left his office, snapping out a series of orders and minutes later, he and a security team materialised in Madrid. For a few moments

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Krang stood still, getting his bearings and taking in the scene of devastation. Realising immediately that things were worse than he had been told, he activated his comm. badge, calling for further back up and before long, more men began to materialise. The security building had been totally destroyed by the blast and several other nearby buildings were also seriously damaged. Whoever the bombers were, they hadn’t cared who they killed. Not just Klingons had died. Plenty of Terrans lived and worked in the buildings in this area and many of them had also been caught in the blast. Krang quickly got his team organised, sending some of his men to assist with fire control and the rest to begin the search for survivors. Krang himself, still shouting out orders, joined one of the teams and set to work. He was distracted however by the sound of sirens coming ever closer until an Earth vehicle, blue lights flashing, came round the corner and screeched to a halt. Several Terran males jumped out and one of them called, “Who’s in charge here?” Krang pulled his disruptor from his belt before answering. “I am Captain Krang, head of Earth security, I am in charge here. What do you want?” “Hey, don’t shoot!” the Terran said, eyeing the disruptor nervously, “I’m a doctor, we’re here to help.” Krang nodded, brusquely waving the Terran and his assistants through the security cordon. He was surprised and suspicious that humans would help Klingons but for the moment, was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The relief efforts seemed to go on for ever but only a couple of hours had passed before a Klingon sub-

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lieutenant approached him with the Terran doctor and reported that everyone, whether Klingon or Terran, was accounted for. “How many Klingon casualties?” Krang asked harshly. “Sixteen dead and twenty-eight injured” the Terran answered, “Seven of them beyond our skill to heal.” “Sir, they should be given Hegh-bat” the sublieutenant interjected, “Should I do it now” Krang shook his head wearily, “No. I am responsible for them, I will do it.” Drawing his knife he knelt by the side of the nearest victim and with a surprising gentleness, said in Klingon, “Go warrior, in all honour, to Sto-VoKor.” With that he plunged his dagger into the dying man’s heart. “What are you doing?” the human doctor yelled, but prevented by the Klingon officer from interfering, he could only watch in horror as Krang repeated his actions until one by one, all seven of the mortally wounded men lay dead. The Captain got to his feet and approached the doctor. “You said there was nothing you could do” Krang told him, “It’s better this way.” By the time all the rest of the injured had been moved to a local hospital it was late evening, local time. Krang was on the verge of sending some men to find food and shelter when his second in command appeared. “Sir, we have found the Terragnan taHqeq’pu who did this”, the Klingon announced, “Three of them. “Alive?” At the officer’s nod of confirmation, Krang said “Well done. Take them back to headquarters and have them questioned.”

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On his own return to New York several hours later, Krang went straight down to the prison cells to inspect the prisoners and discuss their interrogation with the guards. Klingon techniques were efficient and by now the guards knew more or less everything about their prisoners. As he received the report, Krang looked at the prisoners with contempt and a cold anger. He understood the humans’ desire to fight but to his mind, this sort of bombing was both cowardly and honourless. When the guard asked if the men should be executed, he slowly shook his head. “I don’t think so. Continue questioning them. I want to know everything – about them, about their families, about their friends. Then I want them sent to Rura Penthe.” Seeing that the guard didn’t understand, he continued, “They are scum! I will not reward them with a quick, honourable death. Let them rot in the dilithium mines. Oh, and when you question their families, inform them of their deaths, it will be true soon enough!” “But sir…” “My decision is final” Krang snapped, “I’ll sign the papers in the morning.” With that he turned and went back to his office. It was not long before once again, the exhausted Klingon was asleep at his desk. ~~~<>~~~ New York, Earth, 1996 - Four Years Later

Since Chrissie's arrival in New York, life settled down into a pattern and she became used to living under Klingon domination although it took her a long time to get over the death of her husband. She had managed to get a part time job in a pharmaceutical laboratory and worked for three or four hours a day. The job suited her very well and she knew it was good for her to get out of the house, but she still found it hard to mix with other people. Her

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friend Sarah had also been lucky enough to find employment as a housekeeper at the local church. As a doctor, David was among the privileged few who were allowed to break the curfew that had been imposed by the aliens. One day however, everything changed. Sarah came home from the church dreadfully upset after receiving a phone call from the hospital where David worked. “David has been arrested” she gasped, “He was treating a Klingon and he died so they've arrested him for murder!” ~~~<>~~~ Two days later, Chrissie took her children, Toni who was now six and Fina, now four, to the lovely old church where Sarah was working. She found her friend in the beautifully kept garden at the back of the building. Sarah glanced up as she continued to pull up weeds. “Any news of David?” “He's still alive” Chrissie answered, “They've locked him up in a prison not far from here - on Saint Francis’ Avenue.” Sarah got to her feet and the two women went into the church, leaving the children playing safely in the garden. As they passed the sacristy door into the main building they stopped dead. Two men stood talking by the altar. Sarah frowned, “How did they get in?” she whispered, “The main door is locked and they didn't pass us.” But as they watched, something happened that frightened them. The air shimmered and a third man appeared. The newcomer was very tall, with a slightly green tint to his skin. He wore a large Humphrey Bogart style hat pulled down over his ears. He turned then and

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saw the two girls standing in the entrance. “Captain!” he said softly. The other two men turned startled, but quickly moved to surround the girls. One of them spoke, “My name is James Kirk, these are my friends, Scotty and Spock. We are not here to hurt you. Is there somewhere safe we can talk?” It was Sarah who answered, “Come this way.” And she moved back into the sacristy. “Now I think you'd better explain that mysterious appearance” she demanded, trying to appear confident and in control of the situation. The tall one, named Spock said, “We are here to help, that is all that matters.” “You’re not local” Chrissie said, “Are you part of the resistance?.” “No, we’re not part of the resistance” The man who had identified himself as Kirk told them, “However, we have come here to find a way of defeating the Klingons.” There was a bleeping sound and Kirk held up something that looked like a miniature radio, “Kirk here.” The voice came over the ‘radio’ saying “Klingons are approaching your position, Captain. I suggest you return to the ship.” “Very well, Uhura, three to beam up.” He paused as the church doors burst open and there was a sound of booted feet, many of them, crashing into the building, coming nearer and nearer. “No, on second thoughts make it five to beam up.” The air shimmered and both Sarah and Chrissie felt dizzy. Moments later they were no longer in the church but in a strange room. Kirk turned to them saying, “You 280


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are now on board the Starship Enterprise. If you will follow me, I will explain everything.” But Chrissie panicked as she realised her children were still in the church garden, “My children are still down there, I have to go back and find them.” She struggled wildly as the officers tried to restrain her but Spock put his hand on her shoulder and she sank to the ground, unconscious. The Vulcan bent and lifted the unconscious girl into his arms, saying calmly “I will take her to sickbay, Captain.” When Chrissie woke, she was lying on some sort of bed with somebody standing over her. Realising she was awake, the man introduced himself, speaking in a soft American accent that somehow reassured her, as Doctor McCoy. Sarah however was on the bridge, talking to Kirk. She was amazed to find that this ship was from three hundred years in her future, a future that would not exist if the Klingons could not be stopped from killing certain scientists who should go on to develop the beginnings of warp drive. Without that technology there would be no meeting with the Vulcans who would not interfere with pre-warp cultures. The Terrans had been the driving force behind the formation of the United Federation of Planets and without their influence it simply would not happen. This was the whole point of the invasion of course, to prevent the formation of the Federation, allowing the Klingon Empire to expand unchecked into what should have been Federation space. ~~~<>~~~ A little later Sarah told Chrissie everything that Kirk had told her and together they decided to do what they

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could to help the crew of the Enterprise. They discovered that the church had been destroyed and that Chrissie’s children had totally disappeared. Chrissie was distraught, but realised she had to keep calm if a disaster was to be prevented. Panicking would help nobody. After a command level meeting, it was decided that Chrissie was to beam down into her home and that she must report the children missing, according to the law. It would look strange if she did not, and there was no point in arousing the Klingons’ suspicions if it could possibly be avoided. Sarah was also to beam down and try to discover where the scientists were being held prisoner. Kirk gave them both communicators, explaining how they worked and warning them not to let the Klingons discover them, before escorting them to the transporter room. ~~~<>~~~ The bored Klingon on duty at the reception desk in the Klingon Police Headquarters took little notice of the Terragnan woman who came in through the main door. When she asked to see the person in charge, he growled that the chief was not to be disturbed. He was surprised when she insisted, most Terragnans were easily intimidated. Finally he snarled at her to wait and went through a door into the chief’s office. Whatever the chief said to him, when he came back, his tone seemed a little politer, “The Security Captain will see you now.” And he pointed the way towards the office door. Krang looked up as the Terragnan woman entered, his features harsh and unsmiling. She was obviously scared, he noted, but she was trying hard not to show it. He respected that.

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“I am Captain Krang” he growled, “Head of Earth security. What do you want?” Nervously she explained that her children had disappeared earlier that day when the church was raided and begged him to help her find them. Krang got to his feet, he was a big man and next to the human woman, his height made him seem tall and forbidding. “Tell me” he said thoughtfully, “Where were you when the children disappeared? Why were you not with them?” Chrissie hesitated, not knowing how to answer. She could not betray the crew of the Enterprise, but maybe a version of the truth would work as well. “My friend works at the church” she said eventually. “We went inside and surprised a group of men. I don’t know who they were, but when they heard the Klingons approaching they grabbed us and ran. I tried to get back but they wouldn’t let me go until it was all over.” Krang considered her story. It was possible that she wasn’t telling the whole truth but he thought it unlikely that if she could identify the members of the resistance, that she would have risked coming to the Klingons for help. “I will need your identification and contact details” he told her. “If you can give me a picture of your children, I will order my men to search.” As he saw the fear in her eyes, fear for her children, his expression softened slightly. “We are not monsters. Klingons don’t hurt children, they will be found safe and unharmed.” After the woman left to continue her own search, the Klingon took some time to look at the picture she had given him. Technology was so backwards here, he reflected, they didn't even have holographs. Well, he

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would do what he could. He had not yet received a full report on the raid and activating his computer, he sent a memo to his assistant asking for details. The report arrived on Krangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s desk an hour or so later and reading it, he realised that a search for the missing children would not be necessary. The Klingon officer in charge of the raid had found two children wandering around the ruins of the church, scared and confused, and had brought them into headquarters. They would need to be questioned of course. They had been found in the middle of a raid and might have seen or heard something that could be useful to the investigation. This interrogation was one he preferred to do himself however, as with such young children, it would require delicate handling. As he had promised their mother though, they would not be harmed. It was true that Klingons did not hurt children. Speaking with the children, he learned that their motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story was true, at least as far as the children were aware. They confirmed that they did have an aunt who worked there and that they played regularly in the church garden. Unfortunately they had not seen the men inside the building but had been involved in their game until the Klingon soldiers had arrived and started destroying everything. There was nothing more to be gained from holding the children, Krang decided. It was time to return them to their mother. Checking her contact details, he activated the comm. unit and tied it in to the primitive telephone system that was the main method of communication on this planet. He could hear the phone ringing at the other end but after several minutes there was still no answer.

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Over the course of the afternoon he tried several more times, but with no luck. Much later that evening, about to go off duty for the day, Krang found himself thinking about the two children. His expression was thoughtful as he remembered the boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bravado as he tried to protect his younger sister. They were very young and he did not like the idea of them being left overnight in the prison cells. Impulsively he left his office and headed back down to the prison cells beneath the building. He gave a sharp order and the duty guard unlocked the door to the second cell. Moments later, two dirty, frightened children were released into his custody.

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Chapter 27

A week passed with no news of the children. Chrissie went back to the police station several times but was repeatedly told by the desk officer that the Security Captain was unavailable and that there was still no news. When Sunday came, she met up with her friend and Sarah told her that she had found the whereabouts of the missing scientists. Sarah had also heard a rumour that David and several other prisoners were due to be executed very soon. Talking together the two women came up with a plan that, although risky, seemed workable. There was only one way that they would be able to get into the prison, and that was using the transporter beam. They used their communicators to get in touch with the Enterprise and were beamed up immediately. That night, Chrissie lay awake in the quarters she had been assigned, worrying about the whole situation. Finally she dozed off, only to be woken sometime around 3 a.m. by her friend’s voice. “Chrissie, wake up. It’s time to go” Sarah said in a loud whisper. As she brushed the

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sleep from her eyes, Chrissie realised her friend was holding two phasers in her hands. Sarah handed her one, quickly showing her how to use it. “OK, let’s go and get David” Chrissie said grimly. Sarah nodded and they quietly slipped out into the darkened corridors. As they entered the transporter room, Sarah fired her phaser and the duty ensign fell to the ground soundlessly. “Don't worry” she said, seeing the expression on Chrissie's face, “He’s only stunned. He’ll wake up again in a few minutes.” With Chrissie’s help, Sarah was slowly and carefully entering the required coordinates into the computer system when Kirk and Spock entered the room, followed by a team of heavily armed security guards. “I thought you might try a stunt like this” Kirk said, “Now step away from the console.” Swearing under her breath Sarah did as she was told and was replaced by Spock. The Vulcan examined the system carefully. He raised an eyebrow and the captain moved over to join him, looking over his shoulder. Kirk gave a low whistle as he saw the coordinates the women had entered. “You’d have scattered your molecules half way across the galaxy if you’d tried to beam down” he told the two women. Shocked, they both glanced at Spock who confirmed his captain’s statement. “While that is an exaggeration, it is essentially correct. If you had attempted to transport to these coordinates, you would been killed instantly” Fingers flying over the computer console, Spock began to reprogram the system. Finishing his task, Spock nodded to the captain who immediately stepped up onto the transporter pad, followed by the security guards.

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Kirk looked at the two women. “Well?” he said dryly, “Are you coming or not?” The two women glanced at each other in surprise and then hastily joined the team waiting on the transporter pad. As soon as they were in position, Spock hit the controls and the transporter beam began to form. Within moments, they had materialised inside the prison where David was being held. Pandemonium erupted as the bored Klingon guards realised they were under attack. Both women fired, Sarah’s phaser still set to stun. Chrissie however had changed the setting. As two Klingons fell with gaping holes in their chests, Sarah glanced at her in shock, saying “That’s not on stun!” Chrissie’s features appeared hard in the half light as she said, “It wasn’t meant to be on stun. Every Klingon I kill is one less for the resistance to deal with.” Silently Sarah changed the setting of her own phaser and they got on with the business of rescuing Chrissie’s brother. Somehow, they were successful. The guards had grown careless, not expecting to be attacked in the night with phaser weapons and were taken by surprise by the raiding party. With the last of the guards either dead or unconscious, retrieving the keys to the cells proved easy and moments later, all the captives in the prison had been released. Looking at her brother, Chrissie realised he needed immediate medical attention. “Captain, please will you get him back to the Enterprise.” Seeing how ill David looked, Kirk agreed. Pulling out his communicator, he opened a channel, saying, “Enterprise, six to beam up”

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Chrissie shook her head. “Only five, Captain. I can’t go with you. I still have to find my children.” Before anyone could say anything to stop her, she turned and began to move away, quietly disappearing into the night as the air shimmered and rest of the party returned to the Enterprise. Alone once again, Chrissie stood in the street for a moment, trying to decide what to do. The curfew would not be lifted for a couple more hours and there would be trouble if she was caught on the street. Quickly and cautiously she made her way home, careful to ensure she wasn’t seen. Once inside she went upstairs and into the bathroom – there was blood on her clothes, Klingon blood, a bright purple in colour. She started to shake as delayed reaction set in and she began to realise just how dangerous the whole thing was and how stupid they had been to think they could do it without help. Pulling off the bloodstained clothes she shoved them in the wash basket before getting in the shower. Some of the blood had soaked through to her skin and she scrubbed and scrubbed, feeling as though she would never be clean. Getting ready to leave the house again, Chrissie considered what to do with the Federation phaser and communicator. Eventually, deciding it wasn’t safe to leave them, and that they might be useful, she buried them in the bottom of her bag. As soon as morning came Chrissie went to the police headquarters and asked to see the Klingon Captain. The officer in charge refused, telling her that the Chief had been called away to deal with an emergency and wouldn’t be back for several hours. ~~~<>~~~ It took Krang all morning to sort out the fiasco of the raid on the Klingon prison. Several of his officers were

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dead and the investigation had shown that they had been killed by phaser fire – all but one of them, who appeared to have been stabbed with his own d’k’tahg. Krang was disturbed by the reports. This was the late 20th century on Earth and phasers didn’t exist. That implied someone else from the future had got involved. He was also concerned by the way his men seemed to have been so easily taken by surprise. The prison was only a low security holding cell but even so, it should have been impossible for raiders to get in. Anyway, why was this prison even a target? The prisoners being held there were all due to have been released in only a few days time as soon as the paperwork was in order. Krang decided that security at all prison sites would have to be tightened immediately. After giving the necessary orders, he headed back to his home to check on the two Terran children. Krang was becoming increasingly concerned about the children. His decision to take them home with him had been a good one, he enjoyed their company and they were already learning to speak Klingon but they could not remain with him indefinitely. It would not be long now until he was recalled to the Homeworld, the mission here was almost over and he could not take them with him. Not only that, but they needed to be with their mother. He wondered what had happened to her and when or if she would return. He had tried the contact number he had been given several times, but always with the same result – no answer. He resolved that if there was no contact within the next few days he would have an officer sent to her address to check it out. ~~~<>~~~ Chrissie went back to the Klingon headquarters at lunchtime and was told that the Chief still hadn’t returned.

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On her third visit, late that afternoon the young Klingon on desk duty admitted that the chief had finally returned but was far too busy to see anyone. Ignoring his protests, she pushed past him and went straight into the Captain's office. But although she had sensed that something was wrong, she was not prepared for what she saw. The Klingon Captain sat behind his desk, writing a report. On the desk lay a battered teddy bear with a blue velvet ribbon round its neck. Chrissie recognised it at once, her daughter took that bear everywhere with her. What was it doing on the Klingon captain’s desk? The Captain glanced up to see who had disturbed him but said nothing as he took in her presence. “What have you done to them?” Chrissie demanded, suddenly afraid, “Where are my children?” “Your children are unharmed. They are at my home” the Klingon told her. He picked up the bear and examined it as though he had only just noticed its presence. “Your daughter left this here. She insisted on coming to the office with me yesterday. She is a very stubborn child and difficult to refuse.” Chrissie was unable to prevent herself from smiling at the image his words conjured. Her daughter was indeed very stubborn and was capable of throwing the most terrible tantrums if she didn’t get her own way. But her smile faded as she took in his earlier words. What were her children doing in his home? Suddenly angry and afraid, she attacked him verbally, “You had no right to take my children. If you’ve hurt them…” “Would you prefer that I had left them to sleep in the prison cells?” Krang interrupted her sarcastically. “I have already told you that they are unharmed.”

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“I only have your word for that” No longer aware of the teddy bear still in his hand, the Klingon got to his feet and moved round the desk, approaching her. He was a big man and he towered over her. “You question my word?” Krang snarled, his anger showing not just in his voice but in his stance. “You insult my honour.” Chrissie realised that she had gone too far. Klingons had been known to kill for less reason than an insult to their honour. She stood her ground, knowing that to show cowardice now would be a fatal mistake. “I apologise” she said quietly, “No insult was intended.” “Apology accepted” he said curtly. She had courage, he thought, and she was pretty for a Terragnan. He had never slept with a human and he found himself wondering what it would be like. He stepped forward, closing the remaining distance between them until they were almost touching. She didn’t move, just looked back at him. Krang made up his mind then, he wanted her. For some moments they stood motionless, then Krang gave her an ultimatum “If you want to see your children again, you will spend tonight with me.” Stunned, she gazed at him. Spend the night with him? Sleep with him? The idea terrified her. She had heard rumours about Klingon men and their sexual practices and the last thing she wanted was to find out whether they were true. Well it looked like she had no choice. Like any mother, she would do anything to protect her children, and maybe it wouldn't be so bad. She would survive this and her children would be returned to her. Slowly, wearily she gave a nod of agreement

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“Good!” the Klingon said, a slight smile softening his face. He hadn’t expected her to agree so easily. “Let’s go.” Heading back to the reception area, Krang opened another door which led into some sort of large open plan office. Several guards were there. Krang beckoned to one of them, a female. As the Klingon woman approached Chrissie couldn’t help staring at her. She had never seen a Klingon female before – she wore leather armour as the men did but on her it looked totally different – it was tight fitting and open at the chest, displaying an impressive cleavage. Krang had a brief conversation with the woman in their own language. Aware that the Terragnan woman could not follow the conversation, Krang said to her, “My house servants go off duty in half an hour. Marla will care for the children until I return home.” He handed the teddy bear to the woman who took it from him, looking at the toy as though she had never seen anything like it. She probably hadn’t, Chrissie mused. Somehow she doubted that Klingon children had much softness in their lives and she said as much. “You imply that we do not love our children” the woman said critically in strongly accented English. Chrissie cursed herself. For the second time in as many minutes these Klingons had put her in the wrong and she found herself having to apologise again. “I am sure that all parents love their children, whatever species they are” she said carefully, “I just think that you probably have very different ideas about child care.” “You’re right actually” Krang said, “Our children do not play with such toys. They serve no purpose.”

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And yet, she thought, he had retrieved the toy to return to her daughter. That was not the action of a cruel, evil man, rather it was one of a man who cared. Slowly her fear began to lessen. He took her arm then, “Shall we go now?” The Klingon captain proved to be surprisingly good company. He was an intelligent, serious man but Chrissie quickly discovered that he had a dry sense of humour. Before long she had relaxed and was beginning to enjoy herself. Krang took her out to dinner at an expensive restaurant, specialising in both Terran and Klingon cuisine, where he ordered a plate of wormlike things he called gagh. Chrissie stared at the dish with a sort of horrified fascination as the Klingon began to eat. Aware of her gaze, Krang picked up some of the still moving food and held it out to her. Slowly she reached out and took it from him, looking up at him as she did so. “It’s... it’s still alive” she said as the ‘worm’ continued to wriggle. “Of course it’s still alive” the Klingon said patiently, “Gagh is best served very fresh. Try it, it’s good.” Chrissie’s gaze went back to the thing he had placed in her hand and she shuddered. Very slowly she raised it to her lips. Then with a suddenness that startled the Klingon she dropped the ‘worm’ and attacked it with her knife until it lay still on her plate. Glancing triumphantly at Krang she picked it up again and ate it. “Not bad” she said, smiling at him, sensing she had passed some sort of test. “I prefer it dead though.” A little later Chrissie got her revenge on Krang when he asked her to choose a Terran dish for him. She obliged,

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wondering mischievously how the Klingon would react to the highly spiced vindaloo she had ordered for him. As the unsuspecting Klingon tasted it his eyes widened in surprise - never in his wildest dreams had he imagined that Terran food could taste like this. It was several minutes before he was able to speak. “Fit for a warrior” he gasped, taking a drink of his blood-wine, “I'm impressed!” And he took another mouthful. After dinner they went to a club and danced together. Krang was unfamiliar with Terran dances, but despite his size, he was light on his feet and proved to be a very good dancer. As they stood together at the bar, Krang draped a companionable arm across her shoulders. He looked down at her thoughtfully, wondering how the evening would end. He had realised some hours ago that he would not force her. Somehow, in the course of the evening, the idea of hurting her had become repugnant. Chrissie sensed his change of mood and raised her head to meet his gaze. Seeing something in her eyes, Krang realised that she wanted him to kiss her. He hesitated, suddenly unsure of himself. Klingons did not kiss in quite the same way that Terrans did, but he had seen other people kissing and it didn’t look too difficult. Slowly, giving her time to pull away, he lowered his head to hers. But she didn't pull away and as their lips touched he felt her response. Sensing his inexperience, she took the lead, showing him what to do. He quickly discovered that he liked the Terran way of kissing and he’d been right - it wasn’t difficult. It was with regret that he lifted his head, breaking the kiss. He wanted her so much it hurt, but not like this. She had to be willing, to want him as much as he wanted her.

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“You don’t have to do this, you know” he told her. Her smile faded as his words brought her back down to earth and she remembered why they were together in the first place. “But, you said…” “I know what I said” he answered quietly, “It was wrong of me and I can only apologise for my lack of honour in even suggesting it.” He took a step away from her and took a deep breath, fighting for control. He glanced at the time. “It’s almost eleven, the children will be sleeping now. I will return them to you in the morning.” Chrissie moved closer to him, looking up into his eyes. “Krang, do you want me?” Krang did not answer immediately, unable to believe she was asking that. “Yes, I want you.” She smiled again and reaching up, she kissed him. Long moments later he pulled back, trying to regain his self control. He was aware that people were staring at them. While this place catered to both species, Klingons and Terrans did not generally mix and they were attracting attention. “We are still in public” he said a little unsteadily. Chrissie smiled, “Then maybe we should somewhere a little more private.”

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Leaving the nightclub, they went out onto the street and Krang led Chrissie to a waiting shuttle. The pilot saluted when he saw Krang and opened the door for them to enter. Chrissie hesitated. She had seen the Klingon shuttlecrafts before but they were not available for Terran use and she had never ridden in one. “Can’t we walk?” she asked him, “It’s a lovely night.” He shook his head. “It’s too far” he told her, “I have a room above the station, but I would prefer not to use it. I’d rather take you to my home. It’s in the countryside, a few kellcams outside the city.” He gave her a gentle push towards the shuttlecraft door and she stepped inside. Krang followed her and taking her arm, he guided her to a seat. She sat down and he seated himself beside her. He was very close to her and she was conscious of his leather clad thigh pressing against hers. His arm resting across her shoulders, he pulled her even closer to him, his head bending towards hers. There was a clatter as the pilot boarded and Krang pulled back a little, frustrated. He

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wanted to be alone with Chrissie and was thankful that despite the distance, it was only a short journey by shuttlecraft. They would reach the place that passed for home on this world, in less than ten minutes. He suspected that it would be the longest ten minutes of his life. The pilot shut the door behind him before moving towards the front of the craft and beginning to manipulate the controls. The shuttle took to the air smoothly and began its journey. Interested, Chrissie looked around her. She was aware that she might never get another chance to see inside a Klingon shuttlecraft and the scientist in her was curious. She wondered how it worked. The engines gave off only the faintest hum and she had the sensation of incredible speed, yet the ride was smooth. The craft was short and squat, conforming to none of the rules of aerodynamics, so what made it fly? She voiced the question and Krang tried his best to explain, but after a minute she stopped him, realising that the science involved was so far beyond her current level of knowledge that it might as well be magic. Eight minutes into the flight, Chrissie realised that the craft was descending and beginning to reduce its speed. The pilot spoke to someone over the radio before turning the craft and bringing it in to land. Cutting the engines, the pilot got up and opened the door for his passengers. Krang spoke briefly with him and taking Chrissieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hand, he led her out of the craft and towards his home. She looked questioningly at him and he translated the conversation for her, saying. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have just asked him to wait for Lieutenant Marla and take her back to New York.â&#x20AC;? The house was big, but not oversized, and was set in spacious gardens, with a high wall around them. The

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nearest neighbour had to be several hundred metres away. A group of heavily armed Klingon males were at the door of the shuttlecraft and Chrissie could see more by the entrance to the house. The Klingon captain’s home was well guarded, she thought, not knowing the importance of the man she was with. She knew of course that Krang ran the security department in New York, but she had no idea what the title Captain of Security actually meant, or that he was the ultimate head of Earth security with the final responsibility for everything that happened on the planet. The guards saluted as Krang passed them, in the traditional Klingon salute, right fist thumping against left breast. He acknowledged with a nod, but otherwise ignored them. Lieutenant Marla was in the hallway, waiting for them, having heard their arrival. “Any problems?” Krang asked. “None sir” the Klingon woman answered, “They are both sleeping.” “Very well” Krang said. “The shuttle is waiting for you. Qapla!” Marla saluted. Facing Chrissie, she gave her a long speculative look before saying, “Your children are a credit to you. Qapla!” With that she turned and left, shutting the door behind her. Krang and Chrissie stood together in the hallway. Finally they were completely alone. Neither spoke and an awkward silence developed before Krang broke it. The spontaneity of earlier had gone and he was aware that Chrissie was once again feeling tense and nervous. Well there was no hurry, they had all night and maybe… He shied away from thoughts of afterwards, there was time 299


enough to worry about that later. “Can I get you a drink?” he asked her, “I’ve developed a liking for Terran wines. I have some rather fine vintages from Europe if you’d like to try one.” Chrissie nodded her agreement. “Something Spanish if you have it” she requested. Gesturing for her to follow him, he headed into the kitchen. Once again, Chrissie found herself looking round curiously. So far, the house was not what she had expected. Other than the security guards outside, there was nothing to indicate that an alien lived here. The kitchen was pleasantly old fashioned, with solid pine units and even an aga. Removing his gauntlets and spiked gloves, Krang tossed them onto the heavy pine table in the centre of the room. He selected a bottle of wine and opening it, he poured some into a glass and handed it to her. Pouring a second glass for himself, he seated himself at the table and after a moment, Chrissie joined him there. The wine he had chosen was a good one, from one of Spain’s best vineyards. A deep velvety red in colour, its flavour was smooth and rich. She sipped it appreciatively. For some time they simply sat together at the kitchen table, just talking. But there was a tension between them and they both knew it. It seemed to Chrissie that the very air was filled with electricity and she wanted more than just to sit here with him and talk. Finally, Krang got to his feet, the suddenness of his motion startling Chrissie and making her jump. Holding out a hand to her, he said, “Come.” Chrissie took his hand and together they left the kitchen and headed upstairs. On the upstairs landing,

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Krang stopped by a door and lifting a finger to his lips in the universal gesture for silence, he opened it, stepping aside so that Chrissie could see into the room. It was a bedroom and asleep in the nearest bed, with her thumb in her mouth and her arm around the battered teddy bear, was her daughter. The second bed contained her son, also fast asleep. Chrissie found her eyes filling up as she gazed at them. They were safe. Krang had told her the truth, her children really were safe. Carefully she reached out and closed the door again, not wanting to disturb the sleeping children. She looked up at the big Klingon. “Thank you” she said quietly. “They prefer to share a room” he told her. “My own room is a little further down the corridor.” Chrissie slipped an arm around his waist. “Show me.” Krang accepted her invitation with alacrity. Bending to kiss her, he led her into his room. Removing his uniform top, he flung it on the floor. The metallic undershirt quickly followed. Naked now from the waist up, Krang turned away from her slightly as he bent to remove his boots. Chrissie gave a gasp as she saw the ridges on his spine. Somehow, more than anything else, they reminded her that this man was not human. She should not be here with him. But she no longer wanted to escape, in fact she wanted to touch him. There had been no-one in her life since the death of her husband four years ago and she was lonely. Facing her again, he saw the expression on her face. “Is something wrong?” he asked gently, hoping that she had not changed her mind about this encounter. She shook her head. “No. Turn around.” 301


Surprised, he obeyed and sensed her move closer. He felt her hand on his back, touching his spine. He smiled in relief. So that was it, she was just curious about his body. Krang knew that he was built differently to Terran males and he doubted that she had ever seen a Klingon out of uniform. This was a whole new experience for him as well. Chrissie was nothing like the Klingon women he was accustomed to and he would have to be very careful not to hurt her. For a few moments he stood there, enjoying the feel of her hands on his skin, then he turned back to face her again and lifting her in his arms, carried her over to the bed. ~~~<>~~~ Much later, the Captain got out of bed and went to get a drink. He was relaxed and in a good mood, the human woman was stronger than she looked and it had been a good experience. As he gulped back the Warnog he picked up Chrissie's clothes from the floor, intending simply to tidy up a little. There was a thud as something fell out of her little bag. Krang looked down, his expression changing as he took in the weapon. Slowly he bent to pick it up, his anger increasing as he examined it. This was no 20th century toy but a phaser - a 23rd century Federation phaser, still set to kill! As he looked across at the bed, where she lay sleeping the Klingon realised she must have been involved in the previous nightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prison raid. She had seemed so ordinary, he thought bitterly, so harmless and now that it was too late, he realised how stupid he had been. How could he have been so negligent? He hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even bothered to run any security checks on her, something that even a raw recruit knew was standard procedure. But it was hard to believe that she had killed anyone, much less a highly trained Klingon security guard. With a sudden anger, he adjusted the 302


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phaser setting to heavy stun and pointing it at the sleeping woman, he fired before calling for security. ~~~<>~~~ The prison cell where Chrissie woke was dark and dingy. She was hanging by her wrists from some sort of equipment, still naked. Two Klingons were standing nearby. In panic, she realised that she was in real trouble, that the Klingon Captain had betrayed her. Probably he had never meant to return her children. Afterwards, Chrissie would remember very little of what happened next - just agonising pain and constant, relentless questions. Frightened and in pain, she readily confessed to being involved in the prison raid and to killing more than one Klingon, but she insisted that she did not know the identity of anyone else in the resistance. Actually it was the truth, the crew of the Enterprise were not part of the local resistance. But the guards did not believe her and the torture continued. She must have lost consciousness because the next thing she was aware of was being left alone as the Klingon Captain entered the interrogation room and spoke with the guards briefly before ordering them out. He cut her down from the equipment and caught her as she fell. Wrapping his cloak around her, he helped her into a chair. “Why?” he asked her, his voice hoarse, “Why did you betray me? When did you plan to kill me? While I slept?” At her look of bewilderment he added, “Oh yes, I found your weapon, a Federation phaser!” Chrissie was almost too ill to answer “I didn't betray you.” She paused, finding it hurt to talk. “I forgot about the phaser. I forgot about everything last night, except you.”

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The Klingon frowned, “Where did you get the phaser? What was your involvement with yesterday’s raid?” She shook her head, not answering. “Answer me!” Krang insisted. When she still didn’t answer, he moved across the room and picked up a small device. “You see this? It is called a mind sifter. It will take the information straight from your mind. Unfortunately it will also leave you permanently brain damaged. If you don’t tell me the truth, I will have no choice but to authorise its use.” She shuddered but said in a low voice, “I can’t.” “Damn it Christa!” the Klingon exploded, “After what happened between us last night, do you really think I want to hurt you? How can I help you if you won’t talk to me?” “I won’t betray anyone.” “Okay, fine” he responded impatiently, “Just tell me what you can.” She took a deep breath, “My brother was wrongfully arrested for murder and condemned to death. I had to get him out before you killed him.” “You think sarcastically.

he

was

innocent?”

Krang

asked

“I know he was” she said, raising her head to look at him for the first time. “David is a doctor, a good doctor. He took an oath, “First do no harm” and that means he would never, ever, harm a patient, even one who was an enemy.” She paused before continuing, “I had to rescue him so I just took the weapon I was given and joined the raid. I killed two of your men, I don’t deny that. The others took David to safety. I couldn’t go with them because my children were still missing.” She paused 304


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again, then said, “I came straight here and they wouldn’t let me in, they told me to come back later. I spent the whole day searching for the children. I didn’t dare leave the phaser anywhere so I shoved it in my bag and forgot about it. That’s all.” She looked into his eyes. “Please believe me, I would never have tried to kill you.” The Klingon was silent for several minutes, considering her words and reading between the lines. It was obvious to him that the friends she would not mention must be from the Federation, where else could she have obtained the phaser and communicator? He said as much to her and from the look on her face, he knew he was right. He thought for a moment, then said, “I cannot condone what you have done, but your actions were not dishonourable. Things have gone too far now for you to be released, but I will do what I can to help you.” Getting up he went to the door and opened it but impulsively he turned back, saying “You must not worry about your children. I will ensure that they are kept safe.” “Thank you Captain” she whispered. The Klingon frowned, “You know my name. Will you not use it?” Chrissie raised her eyes to meet his gaze. “Krang” she said slowly, “Thank you Krang.” He gave a satisfied nod and then he was gone. After that Chrissie did not see the Klingon Captain again. The guards returned after a while but there was no more torture. Instead, she was given food and clothing before being taken from her cell and put on a prison ship bound for the Klingon homeworld. Surprisingly they did not take the Captain’s cloak from her. It was a heavy cloak, of good quality, with some sort of insignia

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emblazoned on the fastening. Chrissie wondered why she had been allowed to keep it but whatever the reason, she was grateful for its warmth. On arrival at Qo’noS, she and the other prisoners were taken from the ship and escorted to the city market, where they were herded into pens. The Klingon who seemed to be in charge of the pens tried to remove the cloak from Chrissie but she struggled with him, irrationally determined not to give up her one remaining possession. One of the guards from the prison ship, who had remained nearby, saw her struggling and intervened with a sharp command and she was left alone. Several prospective buyers passed by the pens, inspecting the merchandise. One in particular, old and fat, with bad breath, seemed very interested in her. Chrissie was barely able to contain her horror and revulsion as she realised there was a very good chance she would soon belong to him – or if not him then someone very similar. As the fat Klingon inspected her again she turned her head away and her attention was immediately caught by a tall, imposing Klingon who was staring at her. As she stared back into the man’s eyes, for a split second she felt a wild hope that faded immediately as she saw that the man was not Krang, just someone who looked like him. Disappointed, and berating herself for stupidity, she turned her attention back to her immediate problem – the fat Klingon. She did not see the man’s eyes drop to the insignia on her cloak before he turned and left. Eventually it was Chrissie’s turn to be sold and she was led out to the stage. The bidding was fierce at first but after a few minutes, as the price rose steadily, the less serious bidders began to drop out, leaving as she had guessed the old fat Klingon as one of the main contenders.

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There was no sign of the tall man who looked like Krang and the hope that had sustained her since Krang’s promise of help, began to fade. The bidding was down to two contenders now and just when it seemed that the fat one had won, a new voice called out a bid. Startled, Chrissie looked for the newcomer, her heart beginning to beat wildly. It was him! The auctioneer shouted down the excited crowd and said something to the other two bidders, obviously asking if they wanted to continue but they both shook their heads. After a moment of silence the auctioneer banged his gavel and the two guards removed Chrissie from the stage and handed her over to her purchaser. As he led her through the crowd to his private shuttle, Chrissie was able to get a good look at him. Once again she was struck by his resemblance to Krang – it was mostly the eyes, she realised, this man was taller and a little thinner and there was more grey in his hair. She saw that he walked with a slight limp and noticed as well, how the other Klingons kept out of his way. Suddenly apprehensive, she wondered what sort of person this man was. Sensing her scrutiny, he said in passable, but heavily accented English, “I am Meren, son of Marek. You belong to me now.” He did not speak again until they reached the estate where he lived. When Chrissie entered the estate house she stopped dead as she stared in shocked surprise at the picture hanging on the wall. Suddenly everything made sense. No wonder this Klingon reminded her so much of Krang. The painting depicted a family group, one of them the Klingon called Meren. Next to him stood Krang, many years younger, still only a boy, but plainly the one who had sent her here.

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Meren answered her unspoken question “Yes, he is my younger brother. When he contacted me I agreed to buy you. For some reason he feels responsible for you.” “But how did you…” she stopped, unsure how to phrase her question, but he answered it anyway. “How did I know?” Stepping closer to her, he reached out and touched the embroidery on her cloak. “That badge is our family crest” he explained, “It allowed me to identify you.” He smiled slightly, “Besides, I think that you recognised me.” Moving away from her again he rang a bell, summoning a servant. As the servant entered the room, Meren asked, “Krang tells me you are skilled at growing things. Is that true?” Chrissie nodded. “You will work on the farm then” Meren decided, “Work hard and you will be treated well.” Changing to Klingon he addressed the servant who answered him before taking hold of Chrissie’s arm and ushering her out of the room. Chrissie was a little apprehensive as she followed the servant, but no longer afraid. The Klingon Captain had kept his word and the promised help had appeared. This was his home and she knew instinctively that she would be safe here.

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Chapter 29

The Klingon Captain of Security sat in his office thinking about the events of the last few days. He had done his best to help the human woman, Chrissie. By the time he had intervened in her questioning, she had already admitted her involvement in the prison raid. There was no way he could have simply released her without jeopardising his own position. As he had told her, things had gone too far for that. Instead he had condemned her to slavery, sending her to the homeworld to be sold alongside other rebels and trouble-causers. Then he had contacted his brother, Meren, and asked him to buy her for the farm. Meren had agreed, but was not happy about it, demanding an explanation. Only yesterday he had been forced to kill his second in command, a pity because he had been good at his job. But Karg had become too ambitious and had attempted to assassinate him and Krang could not allow the officer to live after such an attempt. Now he had to start training a replacement.

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Then this morning a message had come in from the High Council, demanding the execution of the scientists they were holding prisoner. But the execution would not go ahead. Only an hour after the message’s arrival, he had received a confused report from the prison guards, of the scientists simply disappearing from their cells. It had to be a transporter beam of course, that was the only possible explanation. The High Council was not going to be pleased. But Krang found he was not sorry. These were peaceful men of science, not even warriors and to simply murder them would be dishonourable. There had to be a better way to serve the Empire. Slowly Krang picked up the communicator he had taken from Chrissie and examined it. The more he thought about things, the more obvious it became to him that what they were doing here on Earth was a mistake. Such cowardice could not be the true path to honour for a Klingon warrior. To act on his belief though, would mean loss of his name, his family honour, but whatever anyone thought of him, he would retain his own personal honour. The High Council, the entire Empire, even his brother, would consider him a traitor for what he was about to do. But he must follow his conscience. Abruptly thrusting aside his doubts, Krang activated the Federation communicator. ~~~<>~~~ Aboard the Enterprise, Uhura suddenly turned in her seat, startled. “Captain, we are being hailed by the Klingons - they are using a Federation communicator, one of ours.” Kirk frowned as he heard the harsh Klingon voice “This is Captain Krang, head of Earth security. Come in Federation vessel.”

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Kirk activated his own communicator, “This is Captain James T Kirk of the Federation Starship Enterprise. What do you want?” The Klingon sighed, the sound audible through the comm. system. “I might have known it would be your ship, Kirk.” Then there was silence for a moment before the Klingon spoke again, “I have contacted you because I believe this war is senseless. It must be stopped.” Kirk was incredulous but recovered himself quickly. “Then remove your men from this planet.” “Only the High Council has that authority, Captain” the Klingon answered, and then "I suggest that we meet somewhere to discuss this. We should keep radio contact to a minimum - if my men are doing their job properly this conversation could be picked up at any time.” Kirk thought for a moment before asking, “Would you be prepared to come on board the Enterprise?” When the Klingon responded in the affirmative, Kirk said "Very well, prepare to beam up" and turning to his security chief, said “Chekov, I want a fully armed security team waiting for our visitor in the transporter room.” As the Klingon materialised on the transporter platform, the security officers moved forwards, grabbing hold of him and roughly searching him. The Klingon made no resistance, saying only “I came unarmed.” “Just doing my job, sir” one of the men said. The Klingon nodded, seeming amused by their diligence, he too was a security officer. When the guard confirmed his lack of weapons, Krang was escorted to the conference room where he found the senior officers of the Enterprise awaiting him.

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Not unnaturally the crew were suspicious of the big Klingon. "Why are you doing this?" Chekov asked, hostility in his voice. “After all, by helping us, you are betraying your own people.” “A fair question” Krang responded, "Yes, I am betraying my own people. There’s no way you could have known this when you raided the prison this morning - at least, I assume it was you - but only this morning I received a message from the High Council, ordering the execution of the prisoners.” He paused for a moment, thinking about what he wanted to say. “I believe that there is no honour in such an act. If we are to fight the Federation, it should be done openly, warrior to warrior. Such treachery cannot be the Klingon way to true honour and the glory of the Empire.” “One more thing" Kirk said abruptly, "The communicator you used to contact us was one of ours. Where did you get it from?” Krang found himself unwilling to mention the human woman, despite knowing she must have come from this ship, and said only “One of my men took it off a prisoner who was then sent to the Klingon homeworld. She was sold as a slave and is beyond your reach.” There was silence for a moment as the Starfleet officers grieved for the loss of the courageous young woman they had come to know and respect. Krang had of course guessed correctly when he assumed that she was involved with the crew of this ship. But there was nothing they could do to help her. As Krang had said, she was beyond their reach. The people of Earth however, still needed their help.

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Finally Kirk spoke again and the meeting began in earnest. Krang was able to give them much help, details of security arrangements, deployment of forces, strategic bases etc. But when Kirk mentioned the idea his science team had come up with, the Klingon stiffened. There was no honour to be found in biological warfare. The idea of releasing a toxin into the planetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s atmosphere did not seem to him to be an honourable way of fighting a battle. Nevertheless, he acknowledged grimly that releasing a bio-engineered toxin, which was designed to target the Klingons and leave the humans alone, might lack honour, but was certainly an efficient way of solving the problem. "This toxin you are developing" Krang asked, "Is it fatal?" McCoy seemed uncomfortable as he answered the Klingon's question. "We have two possibilities but we haven't decided yet which one to use. The problem is, if we just knock them out, we still have to get them off Earth before they regain consciousness. Krang nodded, "With my help, that part is easier than you think. There is a cloaked battle cruiser in orbit, it's unmanned at the moment. As Captain of Security, I have full access to it. Have the resistance load the unconscious Klingons onto the ship and I will pilot it back to the homeworld." The meeting continued, more ideas being raised and the pros and cons of various strategies being discussed. At the end of the meeting, Krang was surprised when Kirk thanked him, saying that he would always be welcome in the Federation. "No Captain" Krang said, "Someone has to pilot the ship back home, and I must return to face the

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consequences of my actions. But I thank you for your offer." With the Klingon's help, work on the non-fatal toxin proceeded quickly and it was not long before it had been loaded into the torpedoes and sent to the prearranged destinations. Krang beamed over to the Klingon battle-cruiser and began to supervise the loading of its cargo of unconscious Klingons. Soon there were no more Klingons left on Earth. Before leaving orbit however, Krang quietly beamed back to Earth. Chrissie's children were still in his home and he found he could not simply abandon them, although what they would do on the Homeworld, he refused to consider. Beaming back on board the battle cruiser, he started the impulse engines, taking the ship out of orbit. Once in deep space he engaged the warp drive, pushing the ship to its limits. The ship was vibrating as it reached warp eight, but he pushed the engines still further until the dial read warp nine, maximum speed. Reaching across the console, he pushed a red button and the ship began to shudder as the time warp formed around it. Minutes later, it emerged into the 23rd century and he powered down the engines to a safer level. Engaging the cloaking device (they were after all, still in the Federation, enemy space) he set course for Qoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;noS. As the ship crossed the neutral zone, passing into Klingon space, Krang reduced speed still further and locked in the automatic pilot. The ship would remain on course until it approached orbit of the homeworld, where it would be detected by the spaceport authorities and brought in safely to land.

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Krang had realised that there was no way he could return to the homeworld with the ship - he would be arrested immediately. His only hope of eluding the authorities long enough to reunite the children with their mother and speak with his brother, was to take the small shuttle and slip in unnoticed, well away from any spaceport. He had no hope that his brother would understand or forgive his actions, but honour demanded that he face Meren and tell him the truth. He did not allow himself to think past that moment. Krang headed for the shuttle-bay where the two wildly excited children were waiting for him. Despite his worries, he couldn't help smiling, it was obvious that they were having the time of their lives. They settled themselves in the shuttle and Krang activated the computer, keying in the command that would open the shuttle-bay doors. The big doors swung slowly open and Krang guided the little vessel away from the battle-cruiser, out into open space. It took them some days to reach the Klingon homeworld, but as they approached, Krang tuned in to the communications network, listening to the news broadcasts. The battle cruiser had arrived some days ahead of them and press speculation was rife, much to the dismay and confusion of the High Council. And as he had known, he was being blamed for the fiasco and he was already being hunted. It proved easier than he had thought to slip into orbit and from there, take the little craft down through the atmosphere and land unnoticed, not too far from his brotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home. Immediately he set out for the farm, taking the children with him, avoiding the roads and moving across country.

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When he entered the farmhouse, he found his brother Meren in his study. Meren was absolutely furious with his younger brother, demanding an immediate explanation. The High Council had informed him of his brother's treason and disappearance, and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. But Meren, on receiving the explanation, against all of Krang's wildest expectations, not only understood, but agreed with his brother's actions. He was not so ready however, to forgive his brother regarding the human woman, and insisted that Krang return her to the Federation. He gave a slight smile as he looked down at the two children, now quiet and apprehensive, and then directed a querying glance at his brother. Krang nodded, “Yes, they are hers.” “And just what did you think they're going to do here on Qo'noS?” He sighed, “No, don't bother answering that, you didn't think at all, did you?” He picked up a bell and rang it, and when the servant appeared, ordered him to have his personal bird-of-prey made ready for a space flight, and to summon the Terragnan woman from the fields. As the servant left to obey, Meren said “We must leave immediately if we wish our departure to be undetected. But first, I will leave you alone to talk to your woman. She has something important to tell you.” He headed towards the adjoining room, opening the door, but was called back by his brother’s voice. “What do you mean, we must leave? I don't expect you to get involved in my dishonour.” Meren gave a short laugh, “I am your brother, Krang. We will stay together. I’m not leaving you to face this 316


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alone.” And he passed through the door, closing it behind him. ~~~<>~~~ Time had passed quickly for Chrissie and soon she had been working on the farm for three months. It was hard, sometimes backbreaking work, and the language barrier made things more difficult, but her knowledge of agriculture helped and she found the work interesting. She began to learn to speak Klingon and as her ability to speak the language improved, she learned that she was the only slave on the estate. All the other workers were free servants; the House of Inigan did not believe in slavery. The other servants were wary of her at first and Chrissie discovered that there were years of distrust between the Federation and the Klingons. Living here amongst Klingons, she found it strange to see the conflict from the other side. Some of their ideas about Terrans were as strange as her ideas about Klingons. But slowly, as they worked together and got to know each other, friendship and mutual respect began to form between them. But while out in the fields one day, she collapsed and the Klingon doctor called to examine her, told her that she was pregnant. He must have told her jailer as well because she was summoned to Meren, who demanded to know who was the baby’s father. His arrogance made Chrissie angry and she lost her temper, actually daring to shout back at him, “Who do you think? There's only been one man since my husband died and that’s your precious brother!” Meren was furious with her. “I will learn the truth of this, so don’t lie to me.”

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“I’m not lying!” she insisted, “Why don’t you just ask him?” Meren was so angry he almost hit her, but recovered himself in time, it would not be honourable to hit a pregnant woman. “The Klingons are no longer on Earth. I do not know where my brother is, he has not returned with the fleet.” Chrissie stared at him, stunned. What had happened? Klingons no longer on Earth, Krang missing? Had they left because they had succeeded and no longer needed Earth, or because the Federation had won? She started to ask, but Meren was in no mood to explain and she was dismissed with no answers. Days later, Chrissie was summoned again to Meren's office. Apprehensively she knocked on his door. But when she entered, it was not Meren waiting for her, but Krang and her children. The Klingon let go of the children and they ran into their mother’s outstretched arms. Sobbing with joy, Chrissie hugged them. They were glad to see her but quickly got bored and began to fidget. Seeing their restlessness, and wanting to talk to Chrissie in private, Krang crossed the study and opened the patio door. The children went dashing outside, eager to explore this new environment but a sharp word from Krang stopped them in their tracks. Reluctantly they came back and speaking to them in Klingon, Krang instructed them to remain close to the house. “HIja vav” Toni and Fina chorused cheerfully and ruffling their hair, Krang sent them off to play before turning his attention to their mother. “Meren said you have something important to tell me”

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Chrissie hesitated, suddenly nervous. If Krang didn’t want her and the child, what would happen to her? She had nowhere to go. She was out of her time and a long way from home in a universe that was much bigger and far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined. And if he did want her, what sort of relationship could they have? The truth was, the Klingon captain frightened her but he had proved himself honourable and her children trusted him. In fact, they had just called him vav, the Klingon word for father. And she could not deny that there was a chemistry between them. Even now, she could feel the attraction and she sensed that he felt it too. Abruptly she made up her mind. If she didn’t tell him, Meren certainly would and he deserved to know the truth. She raised her eyes to meet his and taking a deep breath, blurted it out. “I’m pregnant.”

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Chapter 30

Pregnant. Krang stared at Chrissie, not quite able to take it in. She was carrying a child. His child. The words echoed through his mind. He was going to be a father. How had… He stopped himself from asking that question - he wasn’t stupid, he knew where babies came from. But it had never occurred to him that a cross species liaison could have resulted in a child, and it had only been one night. He sighed, it was just another example of how careless and irresponsible he had been where this woman was concerned. But now he had to decide what to do. Klingons did not generally treat sex as a casual activity. Qo’noS was a patriarchal society and children born outside of wedlock were discriminated against and their mothers cast out of society if they refused - or were unable - to wed the father. Krang had every intention of taking responsibility for his child, but he felt very unsure of himself. Chrissie was not Klingon and she had been treated badly because of him. He did not think that she would want him. And even if she did, where would they go? He was already being hunted as a traitor, there was

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nowhere in the Empire that they could go. That just left the Federation. But the Federation and the Empire were enemies. Would the Terrans offer him asylum or would they be forced to try to find some quiet non-aligned world a long way away? First things first, he told himself. He should deal with the matter at hand before worrying about the future. He was going to be a father. Slowly he smiled, realising he liked the idea, that he wanted this child. In fact he wanted the whole package - Chrissie, the two Terran children and the new baby. A ready made family for a man who had spent too much time alone. Chrissie watched him, trying to read the emotions that were flitting across his face, to gauge how he felt about the situation. She saw incredulity, then concern and even a touch of fear and her heart sank. But then she realised he was smiling. Looking up into his dark eyes and seeing the emotion there, she held out her arms to him. For a moment, he hesitated and then moved into her embrace, pulling her roughly against him and kissing her deeply. He felt her response and revelled in it. She was his, he thought fiercely, he would allow nothing to come between them now. “Chrissie” he said, pulling back just enough to allow speech, “will you take the oath with me, become my mate?” “For the child’s sake?” she asked. “Yes, for the baby” His answer was stark and for a moment she felt disappointed. Well what else had she expected, she asked herself, a declaration of undying love? But he continued. “Also for Antonio and Josefina. I have

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grown to care for them. They need both a father and a mother.” Chrissie nodded, acknowledging the truth of his words, but he still hadn’t finished. “And for us. There is something between us, Chrissie. Many successful marriages have been built on less. I ask again, will you take the oath with me?” In the three months she had lived amongst Meren’s servants, Chrissie had learned much of the Klingon way of life and she knew what would be expected of her if she agreed. She was silent for a long time, considering his proposal. Could they make this work? He was right, there was something between them but was it enough? Could she grow to love this Klingon and would he ever come to love her? She didn’t know the answers to those questions, but she realised that she wanted to find out. Her decision made, she said, “Yes, I will take the oath with you.” Krang gave a triumphant smile and removing the d’k’tahg from his belt, he activated the blades. With one quick motion, he slashed his palm open until bright violet blood dripped from the wound. He held out the dagger to Chrissie. She looked at the bloodstained knife in his hand, making no effort to take it from him. She wanted to do it, but she was scared and she didn’t know if she could actually cut herself. Eventually, she held out her hand, palm up. “Will you do it?” Krang saw her tension and understanding her fear, he moved closer to her and took her hand in his. Swiftly, he drew the blade across the palm of her hand. The knife was so sharp that she hardly felt it. He had not cut her deeply, just barely enough to draw blood. She glanced down at the scarlet life-giving fluid that was welling from

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her cut palm, acutely aware of the contrast between it and the violet colour of his blood. No longer afraid, Chrissie placed her palm against his and they stood there for a moment, hands clasped, their fingers entwined, allowing their blood to mix. Krang spoke the words of the oath then. “jiH dok” She answered him in carefully pronounced Klingon. “maj dok.” Then they both said together “TlhIngan jiH” As simply as that, it was done. They were mated. With a possessive growl, Krang drew her close against him, kissing her until they were both breathless. They broke apart almost guiltily as the study door opened and Meren entered. The older Klingon saw the blood still dripping from their hands and smiled to himself. So he’d been right, it was like that between Krang and the Terran woman. His brother had finally found himself a mate. But there was no time now for celebrations. “I have received warning of government troops moving this way” Meren said. “My ship is ready and waiting. Krang, if there’s anything you want to take with you, you should go and get it. The same goes for you Christa, fetch anything you need and call your children. Hurry, we must leave immediately.” Krang took off at a run, heading out the study door and up the main staircase towards the room that had been his since childhood. Chrissie hesitated, she had no possessions to call her own. Except… She suddenly remembered the cloak Krang had given her. She still had it, although she had been forbidden to wear it because of the House insignia embroidered on it. It was not an 323


appropriate garment for a servant to wear. Slipping out of the patio doors she headed back towards the servant’s barracks where she slept each night. Quickly she picked up a few toiletries and a change of clothing and shoved them into a bag. Throwing the heavy cloak over her shoulders, she hurried back towards the main house. Her children had kept their promise and had remained within sight and she called them to her. Taking them by the hand, she led them back into the study, where she found both Meren and Krang waiting impatiently for her. Both men were carrying duffel bags over their shoulders and were heavily armed. “I’ve transferred ownership of the Estate to our sister, with the provisions that it not be sold outside the family and that the servants remain in residence” Meren said, “That should stop the High Council confiscating it. Now let’s go.” ~~~<>~~~ On board the Enterprise, the crew watched as the battle-cruiser headed away from the Earth. Moments later, as the Klingon ship went into warp, beginning its long journey back to Qo’noS, the Enterprise too left orbit. Their duty now was to check that Earth had recovered completely from the invasion and ensure that the time-line that led to the formation of the Federation had not been irrevocably been damaged by the Klingon invaders. Engaging their warp drive, they moved a few years forward, using the highly dangerous method of travelling rounding the sun at enormous speed. Despite the invention of the Klingon time dilator and the best efforts of Starfleet Intelligence to obtain the schematics to the device, the Federation remained unable to produce a prototype that actually worked and the slingshot

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manoeuvre, risky as it was, remained the only method of time travel. On sending down a landing party it became obvious that the world had recovered from the four years of terror comparatively fast and thoroughly. Somehow, what Spock could only speculate was some sort of temporal inertia had asserted itself and people had simply begun to forget that an alien invasion had ever happened. Khan and the genetically engineered â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;supermenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; who had fought so hard against the Klingons had somehow become the villains of the piece. Too cocky and sure of themselves for their own good, they had begun to turn against the people who created them. Coming to believe that their genetically enhanced abilities made them better than everyone else, they had quickly become the enemy and the people of Earth, who had once united against the Klingon threat, rapidly went back to their old ways and old alliances. Everyone knew after all, that there was no such thing as aliens, just genetically enhanced super-soldiers (or monsters, depending on who you asked) in masks to disguise their identity. Shaking his head in bemusement at the human raceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to fool itself so thoroughly, Kirk gave the order for the Enterprise to return to its own time in the 23rd century. Once again the Enterprise headed round the sun, the officers on the bridge hoping that their stream of time had been re-established and the Federation as they knew it, actually existed. Everything seemed fine but they would not know for certain until they arrived back where they belonged. The entire bridge crew worked with the utmost concentration, the tension tangible. Finally the Enterprise turned into standard orbit around Earth again. On the viewscreen, everything looked

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normal and as it should be. Unaccountably nervous, Kirk gave the order to try contacting Starfleet Command. Uhura cautiously worked on her console, only reluctantly daring to speak. For several moments, as they waited for a response, everyone stopped breathing. Even the cool Vulcan seemed a little more pale than usual. Then a formal voice came over the intercom, “Acknowledged Enterprise. Welcome back. Please fly to Dock B, berth twelve. Captain, report to the admiralty as soon as possible.” What a relief these words were! Obviously everything had worked out okay. Chekov was grinning from ear to ear and Kirk was looking round, proudly surveying his crew. Only Spock showed no obvious reaction, but those who knew him well could see the relief under the outward façade of Vulcan calm. Kirk let out the breath be hadn’t even realised he was holding. “Well done people” he said, “We’re home!” ~~~<>~~~ After Kirk's report, Starfleet expected trouble from the Klingons and the Enterprise was ordered to the borders of the Klingon neutral zone to monitor activity. The Enterprise had been patrolling the neutral zone for almost a week, when Chekov announced, "Keptin, our scanners have picked up a Klingon ship heading towards us. It appears to be a miniature bird-of-prey.” One bird-of-prey was no danger to a ship the size of the Enterprise, but where there was one vessel, there could be others cloaked. As a precaution, Kirk ordered the shields up before instructing Uhura to hail the ship.

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Uhura did so but reported "They are not acknowledging Captain. Shall I keep trying?" At Kirk's nod, she turned back to her panel and continued her work. "The wessel is continuing to approach us, Keptin" Chekov reported, "Scans indicate there are only five life signs on board, two Klingon and three human." Kirk frowned, this latest taking him by surprise but he said only "What about its weapons capability?" "Its disruptors are functional, but it looks as if the ship has been in a fight, Keptin" Chekov responded, then a moment later "Sir, the wessel has just lowered its shields and taken its weapons off-line." "Captain, the ship is now within range of our tractor beams" Spock informed him, his voice calm as always. Kirk glanced across at Uhura and she shook her head, "They're still not answering our hails, sir." "Very well, Uhura. Sulu, engage the tractor beam." Kirk ordered. The small Bird of Prey shuddered as the tractor beam took hold of it but made no effort to resist as it was drawn towards the Enterprise. "We'll bring it into shuttle-bay one" Kirk said, "I want a full security team waiting there. Chekov, Spock, come with me." The officers entered the great shuttle-bay and stood watching as the alarm sounded and the doors began to rise, until the whole of the shuttle-bay was exposed to space. Only the powerful forcefield stood between them and the cold vastness of space. The tractor beam brought the Klingon vessel closer and closer until the bird-of-prey filled their vision, almost completely blocking their view 327


of the stars beyond. There was barely room for the ship to enter, but it cleared the shuttle-bay doors with what seemed like only inches to spare and with a gentle bump, it came to rest on the deck. Slowly, the doors of the shuttle-bay began to close behind it until once again the view of space was gone and the warning siren was silenced. Moments later, the door to the bird-of-prey swung open and a Klingon stepped out. The security team instantly pointed their phasers at the newcomer, but Kirk relaxed, recognising the Klingon Captain of Security who had helped them. As Krang descended from the vessel, he turned and motioned back to the ship. Immediately a human woman, Chrissie appeared with two children and behind her, another Klingon who Kirk did not recognise. The strange Klingon approached Kirk, taking no notice of the phasers trained on him. “You must be the infamous Captain Kirk" the Klingon said, "I am Meren, son of Marek and older brother to Krang.” Sarah, entering the shuttle-bay to look for the Captain, stopped dead in total disbelief as she saw the newcomers. “Chrissie!” Her voice cracked and she found she couldn't speak. Chrissie turned as she heard her name and moments later the two women were hugging, tears pouring down their faces, totally oblivious of the others in the room. “I thought you were dead!” Sarah said finally, recovering her voice. Meren interrupted their reunion, saying brusquely, “I suggest you get under way, Captain. There is a Klingon battle fleet not far behind us. My brother is important to them, they do not wish him to escape.” He glanced across

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at his brother, his concern obvious to them all. “However, they will not cross the neutral zone if we are not here. The High Council is not yet ready for open war.” Kirk found himself responding automatically to the Klingon's natural authority, and snapped out orders to get the ship under way and back to Federation space. Kirk dismissed the security team and the group left the shuttle-bay. “How did you escape the fleet?” Kirk asked as they walked down the corridor. Meren gave a wolfish smile. “My vessel may be small, but it's fast and manoeuvrable. Even so, they managed to get in a lucky hit and knocked out our communications system. That’s why we were unable to answer your hails.” “So, what are you doing here?” Kirk asked, “We didn’t expect to see you again.” It was Krang who answered this time. “You told me Captain, that I would be welcome in the Federation. If that is true then I request asylum for myself and my family.”

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Chapter 31 Personal log, Captain James T Kirk, USS Enterprise NCC 1701

Our mission to prevent the occupation of Earth by the Klingons has been completed. The timeline now records events as they were originally meant to happen and the crew have once again performed above and beyond expectations during this difficult mission. I find myself however at an impasse. Two Klingon officers and their family have requested asylum. Unfortunately the situation is far from clear cut. The officers in question were both deeply involved with the mission to invade Earth. To complicate things further, one of them is married to a human woman - from the 20th century no less and as such she is a stranger to this time period. Opinions among my senior staff remain divided and I have not yet come to a decision. Am I honourable? Do I follow the dictates of the Federation Council? Or do I follow my conscience and offer assistance to a person who is technically, an enemy of the state?

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Captains Log, Supplemental

As always, Starfleet has chosen to take the moral high ground - after lengthy discussions, the diplomats have finally agreed that the two Klingon brothers and their family should be offered asylum. The problem is, nobody wants a Klingon on their doorstep – a viewpoint that until very recently I would have agreed with wholeheartedly. Another factor to be considered is that Chrissie is pregnant. Since the father of her child is Klingon, Starfleet’s original intention of sending her back to her own time period would be a death sentence for both mother and child. Due to the unique nature of Chrissie’s pregnancy, I have decided that our ‘passengers’ should remain aboard the Enterprise until the pregnancy has come to term. ~~~<>~~~ Krang grew more and more restless during the months of his wife’s pregnancy. It was increasingly obvious to him that there was no place for him and his family in the Federation – and they could not remain on the Enterprise forever. His skills and abilities as an intelligence officer were useless here, wasted. Klingons were after all, the enemy, not to be trusted. He still believed he had done the right thing but he knew what they must be thinking – he was a traitor to his own people, how long would it be before he turned on them as well? He began to spend time in the gymnasium, training with his brother, practicing and honing his skills in both armed and unarmed combat and it was here that the two Klingons eventually found a purpose. Their abilities were quickly noticed by other crew members using the gym and after a while, first one, then another, asked the Klingon 331


brothers to teach them. Before they knew it, both Krang and Meren were holding regular classes. As for Chrissie, her time was filled with caring for her children, attempting to bring her education up to date and attending medical appointments. She was having a hard time with the pregnancy, feeling constantly sick and tired and as time went by, it only got worse. McCoy told her that her immune system was fighting against the unborn child because of its alien blood. Whatever the reason, the months passed in a blur of constant sickness and misery as there were no drugs to help her. While cross breeding was not unknown, Chrissie would be the first human woman in the history of the Federation to give birth to a half Klingon child, a fact she did not find reassuring. By the time Chrissie finally went into labour, she had been in sickbay for almost a month. Her health had deteriorated to a point where Dr McCoy had insisted on admitting her. Krang could do nothing to help her, only watch as she fought for her health and for the life of the child she carried. And she was fighting. As the months passed, Krang came to respect her more and more, and slowly, inevitably, without his noticing it, his feelings for her turned to love. No longer able to bear the waiting, Krang insisted on helping with the birth. He stood in sickbay, his normal clothing covered by some flimsy piece of blue material that was deemed essential to the medical practices of delivering a baby aboard a Federation starship. On the biobed, with Nurse Chapel and the chief medical officer hovering around her, Chrissie lay back, breathing raggedly with sweat dripping from her face. Krang had a little knowledge of what happened during child birth but he had no first hand experience, and this led

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the proud Klingon to an uncomfortable situation he would never admit to. He had no idea what to do. He was a battle hardened warrior, accustomed to the blood and the screams – all the things that went along with being a warrior. But this was a hospital ward, not a battlefield, and this was not some unknown enemy but his mate lying there in pain, as she fought to bring his child into the world. For her part, Chrissie’s calmness was starting to give way to fear. This was not her first baby and unlike her mate, she did know what to expect, or at least, until it had actually begun, she’d thought she did. The young woman had been in labour for about twelve hours so far and although with human childbirth this was not a long time, with a half Klingon baby the rules were different. Doctor McCoy had told her that Klingon babies had stronger, more rigid skulls than human babies and his recommendation had been for surgical intervention. She had disagreed and after a long discussion with the doctor, she had decided to try for a natural birth, a decision she was now beginning to regret. It hurt! She’d been through this twice before and somehow she’d managed to forget just how much it hurt. She felt like she was giving birth to a rhino instead of a baby! Suddenly Chrissie screamed and Krang moved to her side, hoping to offer comfort as best he could. Obviously the contractions were getting worse. Chrissie’s hand shot out and caught Krang’s in a bruising grip that was strong enough to make the warrior suppress a wince “This is all your fault Krang!” she shrieked “You did this to me! I hate you, I hate you, I HATE YOU!” Nurse Chapel noticed the look of shock and hurt on the Klingon’s face “That’s common with women during

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labour” she told the Klingon reassuringly, “They always say that. Don’t worry.” The contraction passed and Chrissie’s body relaxed a little. Krang started to stand up. Despite the nurse’s words, he knew he could not blame Chrissie if she did mean it. She was right, he thought, this was his fault. “Maybe I should leave” he suggested. “No!” Chrissie gasped, tightening her grip on his hand. “Don’t go. Don’t leave me. I don’t hate you…” Her words were cut off by another contraction. They were coming closer together and it would not be much longer until the baby arrived. She was quiet now, no longer having the strength to talk or even to scream. For both Krang and Chrissie it seemed like a very long time but in actual fact it was only another hour before the baby finally made its arrival. It took Dr McCoy only a few moments to cut the cord, check the child over and place the newborn baby girl into her mother’s waiting arms. Exhausted but radiantly happy, Chrissie looked up at her husband, who against all hospital regulations, was sitting on the edge of her bed. “Would you like to hold her?” The look of panic on his face was almost comical. “She’s so small” he said, suddenly nervous, “I don’t want to hurt her.” “You won’t hurt her” Chrissie said. Not giving him a chance to object, she carefully moved the baby, handing her to Krang. She watched as Krang cautiously held the tiny child in his arms, clutching her as though he was afraid she would break. It was a moment she would treasure for the rest of her life - the look of wonder and 334


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tenderness on his normally harsh features. That was when she really fell in love with her Klingon husband. Klingon tradition demanded that the father name the child, and Krang had chosen the name Kara, a name that had meaning in both cultures to which the child belonged. Carefully, he returned the baby to Chrissie and sitting on the edge of the bed, he bent and kissed his mate. "Chrissie-oy. Be’naloywI, my beloved wife!" ~~~<>~~~ It was after a particularly gruelling session in the gym and the two brothers were sitting in the recreation room of the Enterprise, when the solution to their problems came to them. Both Krang and Meren were worried. Enterprise was not a family ship and now that the baby had arrived, it was time for them to make a decision about their future. “I wonder” Meren said thoughtfully, “whether there will ever be peace between the Federation and the Klingons?” “I doubt it” Krang responded, “Our people are warriors. Peace is a word they are not ready – or willing – to understand. I do not think that will ever change.” Meren nodded, “and yet… do you remember when we tested the time dilator?” At his brother’s look of enquiry, he continued, “That starship captain – what was his name?” “Hunter” Krang supplied, “Captain Hunter of the USS Ulysses. What about him?” “Hunter, that’s it” Meren said, “Well, he invited us to visit him at Starbase 92 – said something about a Klingon restaurant there”

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“I remember” Krang said, “That always struck me as strange. I mean, with what I’ve seen of the Federation and the way they burn everything, I really can’t imagine Klingon cuisine being very popular.” Meren laughed at that. “True, but I was thinking more about the social aspect of it. Krang frowned. “What of it?” “Well, I was thinking” Meren said, carefully watching his brother’s reaction, “That it would be a good place… time…whatever… to bring up a family” ~~~<>~~~ When Krang broached the idea to his wife, she agreed readily. Like her mate, Chrissie was uncomfortably aware that their time on the Enterprise was temporary. She was already so far away from everything she had ever known that the thought of travelling another hundred years or so into the future didn’t seem to matter very much. And if it meant that she and Krang could bring up their children in peace, then so much the better. Chrissie’s brother however was not so enthusiastic. He had come to realise over the last few months that his medical training was so outdated it would take him years of study to re-qualify. The thought of going further into the future, where he would be even more of an anachronism, did not appeal at all. He had recently got engaged to Sarah and after talking it through together the two came to the decision that they would much rather go home to the twentieth century where they belonged. David was a doctor, a good one and in his own time period he could be of use. Here he felt useless. If Krang and Meren were going to make one more time journey on

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Night Dagger, then surely they could make a detour back into the past and take him home. Going back to twentieth century Earth was risky. If the planet was to continue its recovery unhindered, it was vital that Night Dagger not be detected. As soon as the tiny bird-of-prey emerged into the past, Meren ordered the cloaking device engaged. Invisible to both the primitive early warning systems the Terrans had developed and to the naked eye of any passers-by, Night Dagger slipped down through the atmosphere, landing on the roof of the apartment block that had, until just a few days ago, by local time at least, been Chrissie’s and David’s home. Leaving the ship under cover of darkness, the three Terrans slipped down the main stairway, accompanied by Krang. David had argued that the Klingon should remain onboard the ship, but he had lost that argument. Krang did not feel comfortable allowing his wife to leave the safety of the ship without his protection. That he was worried she would choose not to return, was something he would never admit. Besides, he was curious to see the place where his wife had once lived. It didn’t take Chrissie long to collect the bits and pieces she wanted, just a few photos and some things for the children. She’d been forced to leave most of her belongings behind when she had left Spain after the death of her first husband. All too soon it was time for her and Krang to leave. In an effort to delay the inevitable, Sarah and David walked back to the roof top with them. The parting was emotional. David hugged Chrissie one last time, knowing that this time, their ‘goodbyes’ were final. When Night Dagger departed, he would never see his sister again. Finally, reluctantly, he released her, watching as she stepped back to take her place at her

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husband’s side. The two turned and started to walk back up the ramp and into the waiting bird-of-prey. “Krang” David called out involuntarily. The Klingon turned, an enquiring look on his face. “Look after her” Krang nodded. “Always!” He slipped an arm around Chrissie’s waist, and together they disappeared into the depths of the ship. ~~~<>~~~ Personal Log, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, USS Enterprise NCC 1701D

The Enterprise has returned to Sector 001 at a position half way between Earth and the moon to pick up a rather unique crew member. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, the Constitution class USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James T Kirk was involved with a mission to stop an invasion of Earth by a battalion of Klingon warriors. According to information uncovered via a time-delayed, sealed and highly classified file in Federation archives, the invasion was successfully thwarted and the timeline was successfully repaired. The Klingon officer involved with the operation, one Krang epetai Inigan, apparently chose to defect to the Federation and has utilised a prototype time travel device to bring his family forward in time to the twenty fourth century. A second Klingon officer, who is believed to be Krang’s brother, also travelled in the time ship. However, while Krang and his family wish to remain in the Federation, his brother wishes to return to the Klingon Empire to reclaim the family estate and will take the time ship with him.

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Starfleet Intelligence and the Bureau of Temporal Investigations have both expressed their interest in the ship. However, investigations into the device have shown that it would not be compatible with Federation technology and under the circumstances it is the view of Starfleet Command that the ship be allowed to return to the Klingon Empire undisturbed. It has been agreed that upon arrival at Qoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;noS, the time device will be removed from the ship and decommissioned in order to prevent any risk of further contamination of the timeline. After an extensive debriefing by the Intelligence services and several lengthy interviews with Starfleet Command it has been decided that after a brief evaluation at Starfleet academy, Krang will serve on the Enterprise in the security division under the supervision of Lieutenant Worf. Since Enterprise already has a Klingon officer on board, we are considered the most suitable vessel for the job. It is not of course, the first time we have hosted officers of the Klingon Defence Force under the officer exchange programme, and considering the difficulties faced by Kurn, Starfleet feel that the presence of Lieutenant Worf will make the transition easier for Krang. However, he will first undergo a brief evaluation at Starfleet Academy. As for Krangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wife, it has been determined that her skills are almost four hundred years out of date. She will remain with her husband during his tenure at the academy, and will transfer with him to the Enterprise where she will work in the botanical science division under the direct supervision of our head of science who will devise an intensive training programme for her. ~~~<>~~~

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The morning after their final interview with Starfleet Command, Chrissie and Krang were settling into their new quarters on board the starship Enterprise. The children were wild with excitement but Chrissie could not bring herself to discipline them, she understood exactly how they felt. Her husband, wearing his new uniform for the first time, was sitting in a chair as she attempted to tidy up his hair. She pulled the brush through his thick, wiry mane, ignoring his yells as she ruthlessly combed out the tangles. Finally the last stubborn knot had been removed and the big Klingon attempted to escape. “Oh no you don’t!” she said laughing, pushing him back down again, “I haven't finished yet.” He glowered at her but did as he was told. Running her hands through his hair she pulled it back from his face and tied it at the nape of his neck. She leaned over and kissed him, “Okay, now you can move.” Getting up, Krang went over to the mirror and looked critically at his reflection. He looked totally different, he thought, was that really him? He felt strange, it didn't seem right somehow, to be wearing a Federation uniform, he found it difficult to comprehend that he had been accepted so easily - only a short time ago (for him, at least) he had been at war with the humans, and now he was to serve on their most famous starship. Chrissie smiled as she glanced across at her husband, she had a good idea what he was thinking, but he would soon get used to it, and he looked great in that uniform. Krang’s new combadge beeped and a little self consciously he pressed it, “Krang here.”

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The duty ensign’s voice came over the badge, “Sir, there is an incoming personal message for you from Qo’noS.” Krang was startled, he no longer knew anyone on the homeworld, but said only, “I'll take it down here.” A few minutes later, Krang sat down, absolutely stunned. The message had been from Gowron, the leader of the High Council, welcoming him to the 24th century and naming him a ‘Hero of the Klingon Empire.’ Gowron had explained that without his intervention the homeworld would have been destroyed when the moon, Praxis, exploded. Only the aid of the Federation had enabled them to save their homeworld and therefore the Empire, and had the 23rd century Klingons succeeded in their plans the Federation would not have existed. He had ended saying “It is my belief that these events must remain classified. However, on behalf of the Klingon people who will never know just how close we came to destruction, I thank you for what you have done for us.” ~~~<>~~~ The Court of Justice, Qo’noS, 2375

There was complete silence in the courtroom as those present took in the details of the story pieced together from the accounts of Krang and his wife as well as from historical accounts in the Klingon archives and the logs of the original USS Enterprise. The story was told now, a story that, told by the people who had participated in the events described, had caught all listening by surprise. Slowly the silence was replaced by a murmuring that increased in volume as the councillors and court officials responded to what they had heard.

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The judge allowed the noise to continue for a few moments before raising his gavel and bringing it crashing down on his desk. Instantly silence reigned again as the judge prepared to speak. “It is my opinion that time travel is incredibly dangerous” the judge said thoughtfully. “As Klingons, the danger alone should not be enough to stop us. It was Gowron’s belief that changing history in this way would have led to the downfall of the Klingon empire - or at the very least, delayed its recovery - after the destruction of Praxis. We are not here however to speculate on what might have been, but to make a judgement based on known facts. And the fact is that the accused was given orders which he chose, by his own admission, to disobey. Furthermore, he then collaborated with the enemies of the Empire.” The judge paused and looked over at Krang, a long, thoughtful look. “I have one final question for you, Krang. In your long career as a Captain of Security, you have on more than one occasion been required to judge the guilt or innocence of prisoners brought before you. Tell me, son of Marek, what verdict would you deliver in this case?” For several moments Krang was silent, considering the question put to him. From her place at the other side of the courtroom, Chrissie could only wait for him to speak. Krang stared at his wife and the regret she saw in his eyes told her what his answer would be even before he spoke. He was too honest, too honourable to say anything other than that one terrible word that she was so afraid to hear. Desperately willing him to protest his innocence, even as she knew he would not, Chrissie reached out a hand to him, wordlessly offering him her love and

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support. The pain in her soul was unbearable as he turned away from her again to face the judge, the sound of her blood roaring through her veins almost drowning out his voice as he finally spoke. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Guilty!â&#x20AC;?

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There was uproar in the court. Nobody, except perhaps Chrissie, had expected Krang’s answer. Captain Mackenzie, standing not too far away from her, moved closer and took her hand, squeezing it sympathetically. She looked up into his eyes, taking comfort from his calm demeanour. As Krang’s Cha’DIch his own life hung in the balance yet he did not seem concerned. The noise in the courtroom almost completely drowned out the sound of the gavel banging on the judge’s desk as once again he called for silence. It took some time but finally the great court was once again quiet. Satisfied, the judge put down his gavel and spoke. “Captain James Mackenzie, you are the Cha’DIch of the accused. Step forward” Giving Chrissie’s hand one last reassuring squeeze, Captain Mackenzie did as he was bade, moving into the centre of the room to stand next to his Klingon brother. “At the beginning of this trial, I asked you if you understood the ramifications of your decision to act as 344


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Cha’DIch. I ask you one final time, do you stand by the choice you made?” The Starfleet captain stared appraisingly at the old judge. He was being given a chance to back out and he wondered why. But he had no intention of changing his mind, of leaving Krang to face the verdict alone. “I am honoured to serve as Cha’DIch to my brother” he said, his voice clear and firm. “I stand by his side now and always.” The judge bowed his head in silent acknowledgement of the Terragnan Captain’s choice. Finally he spoke again, addressing his words to the accused. “Krang epetai Inigan, before pronouncing my judgment I will speak of the facts as I see them. I have heard many accusations and testimonies throughout the years and in all that time, never has it been my misfortune to hear such a difficult series of events. “You joined Imperial Intelligence at the age of fifteen and gave twenty eight years of good service to the Empire, rising through the ranks to become a Captain of Security. That service ended of course with your assignment to the invasion of Earth and your subsequent change of allegiance. “It should be noted that since your arrival in this time period, your record with Starfleet has been exemplary. I received a deposition from your former commanding officer, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in which he describes you as an honest, trustworthy and above all, honourable officer and one he was proud to serve with. As for your more recent assignment as security chief at Starbase 24, your commanding officer also had nothing but the highest praise for you.

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“I am also aware of your recent activities - your capture of a Cardassian cruiser, the recovery of the USS Poseidon and rescue of its surviving crew, as well as the destruction of the Dominion ship yard. I note that on this occasion as well, you chose to ignore the orders given you by Starfleet. It would seem to me son of Marek that you are not good at obeying orders. “It is in fact, that very inability to obey orders that has brought you here today. And by your own admission you are guilty of the charges levelled against you. There is no doubt about it, Krang son of Marek, epetai of the House of Inigan, you are guilty of disobeying a direct order given you by the High Council.” Chrissie could not take her eyes off Krang as the judge delivered his verdict. She felt sick and at that moment, she wanted nothing more than to scream at the judge, shout at him, beg him for mercy. Anything to save her beloved husband. But the venerable old judge had not finished. “However” he continued, “it must be said that I see no honour in travelling back in time to attack and defeat our enemies when they are not advanced enough to be worth the fight. It is my judgement that the High Council were in error when they formulated and implemented this plan. Krang son of Marek of the House of Inigan, it must have taken a lot of courage and soul-searching to go against your orders in this way. You risked everything to do what you believed to be the right thing.” “It is the decision of this court that you acted with honour. The case against you is dismissed and the discommendation of your House and family line is hereby revoked. This court cannot however restore your honour to you as it was never lost in the first place.”

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Krang stepped down from the dais, realising with disgust that his hands were shaking. It was over. Finally over. He wished his brother had lived to see this day. The discommendation of the House had gone hard with Meren. Even the limited restoration by Gowron had done little to assuage his sense of honour. Surely Meren was celebrating now in Sto-Vo-Kor. His children were too young to comprehend what had happened here today, but at least they would grow up without the stain of their father’s dishonour. He turned first to Captain Mackenzie, clasping the other man’s arm in a gesture of appreciation. “Thank you my brother” he said roughly, “I will not forget your loyalty to me” Mackenzie nodded. “You’d have done the same for me” he said smiling, “Now go see your wife” Chrissie was already running towards him, the guards having finally decided to let her through. He held his arms out to her and she flung herself into them, tears of joy and relief streaming down her cheeks. “Oh Krang-oy! I thought…” Holding her tightly against him, he raised a hand to wipe away her tears. “I know… It’s alright” he told her, “It’s over.” She pulled away from him slightly and reaching up, she slapped his face with all her strength. “Don’t you EVER scare me like that again!” Krang gave a laugh born of pure happiness, “I love you, my Chrissie!” Bending his head he kissed her hard and not caring who might be watching she melted into his embrace. ~~~<>~~~ 347


Once the judge had passed down his verdict and left the courtroom, it was not long before most of the High Council members had also departed. and after a short time, almost the only ones left in the court were Krang, Chrissie who refused to be parted from her husband, and Captain Mackenzie. Chancellor Martok was also present. He stood a short distance away, talking with Admiral Portway who had only just arrived. Neither a witness to the events, or a member of the high Council, the Terran admiral had been barred from attending the proceedings, much to her disgust. But having been informed by her aide that the verdict had been delivered, she had made her way as quickly as possible to the Court of Justice to check on her officers. It had been with great relief that she had heard of Krang’s acquittal. Slowly the two walked over to join Krang. “I swear I thought I was going to have a heart attack when you said ‘guilty’ brother” Captain Mackenzie said, a bright smile lighting his face as the assembled group shared a light chuckle. “Well it seems as if this trial had more drama than a soap opera, too bad I missed it! ” chimed in Admiral Portway. “I think I’m going to want a full report from you. But now it’s over, I need you two back on duty straight away. As soon as your ships are fully repaired, I want you out there fighting the Dominion.” Martok spoke then, his mirth evaporating with the restrictions of duty. “Now Krang, I understand from Admiral Portway that Starfleet is happy for you to remain in command of the Hegh’Ta for the duration of the war. We in the Empire however see things a little differently.” He shot a wicked look at the Starfleet admiral and then

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continued. “It is our decision that your previous rank of Captain of Security be reinstated. However, rather than returning to Imperial Intelligence, you will continue to serve with the Defence Force for the foreseeable future.” “You will both receive official orders, of course” Admiral Portway continued, “but you might as well know, we’ve decided to send Endeavour and Hegh’Ta out together. We’re also giving you the Athena, a D7 cruiser and two B’rel class birds of prey. Krang, you will command the Klingon ships, but will continue to answer to Captain Mackenzie, who as senior captain, will have overall command of the fleet.” Krang looked towards Chrissie, who had refused to let go of his hand since the conclusion of the trial. He knew that if he accepted this position that he would run the risk of dying in battle. He was a Klingon warrior and he did not fear death. But while he had no objections to laying down his life for the Empire and its allies, he knew that Chrissie might have a drastically different opinion, and the last thing he wanted now was to cause her further pain. However he couldn’t help the tender smile ghosting across his face as he saw Chrissie nodding slightly and smiling warmly up at him. What with everything that had happened, her husband being part of a fleet attacking the Dominion was nothing compared to the trial they had just survived. With an effort, he dragged his thoughts back to the discussion as he realised with some embarrassment that Admiral Portway had continued speaking and that from the way everyone was looking at him, it had not only been important but they were waiting for an answer. “I apologise, Admiral” he said, giving himself a mental

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shake, “My mind wandered, would you mind repeating that?” “I said” Admiral Portway told him, with exaggerated patience, that both you and Captain Mackenzie will be awarded with the Medal of Honour.” “I don’t know what to say” Krang said, stunned. He had not expected to receive any reward, much less a medal and a promotion for simply doing his duty. “Then just accept” Martok suggested with a large grin. “I do accept” Krang said, “It is my duty and my honour to serve the Empire. But I would like to speak with you about promotion for my crew. Kargan in particular deserves a ship of his own.” “We’ve already spoken to your crew” Martok told him, laughing. “Your first officer had the unmitigated gall to inform me, on behalf of the entire crew that if we tried to promote them off the Hegh’Ta then they’d defect to the Federation, every last one of them.” “And I have assured the Chancellor” Admiral Portway said, her tone mock serious “that Starfleet will be glad to accept them.” She smiled at Krang, “So it looks like your crew will be remaining under your command. We had a similar reaction from your crew as well, Captain Mackenzie. None of them want to move off your ship.” Captain Mackenzie blinked in surprise, feeling incredibly touched by the dedication his crew displayed. “Well I don’t think there’s going to be any trouble in that regard.” ~~~<>~~~ The trial over, the preparations for Kehlan’s wedding to Captain Mackenzie began and in between duty shifts 350


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Kehlan somehow managed to find the time to go shopping with her Terran friend. Wandering companionably through the commercial district of First City, Kehlan and Chrissie easily found the exclusive boutique that the Lady Sirella had recommended. The owner was standoffish at first but quickly became more friendly as soon as he realised that the two women were serious customers, not just timewasters. On being told that Kehlan was looking for a wedding gown, he allocated them his best saleswoman, who took them through to another room and brought several outfits for the bride-to-be to examine. The gowns were ornate and very beautiful, some made of leather, some suede and some of a heavy brocade. All of them were red, the traditional Klingon wedding colour. Kehlan tried them on but none of them seemed quite right. Both Kehlan and Chrissie were in agreement that the dress should reflect both sides of Kehlan’s ancestry and should have something of both Earth and Qo’noS. Chrissie tried to explain this to the saleswoman, who looked thoughtful. “Wait here” the woman instructed, “I just might have what you’re looking for.” She disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a dress over her arm. “This was a one-off design for a special occasion” she said, holding it up for their inspection. “The customer changed her mind at the last minute. What do you think?” Kehlan shook her head in disbelief as she stared at the dress. Misinterpreting the gesture, the saleswoman started to put the dress away, disappointed and frustrated. “No, wait” Kehlan said softly, holding out her hand. “It’s perfect.” The gown was everything she could have dreamed of. Its beauty was in its simplicity; compared to the other dresses it was almost plain. It had one other key difference – although traditionally Klingon in style, the dress was not red but white, the colour most typically 351


associated with weddings on Earth, or at least, the part of Earth where Kehlan’s mother had come from. Trying on the dress, Kehlan found that it could have been made for her with one major exception as she found out to her cost. Whoever had ordered the gown was much taller than her. Turning to allow the saleswoman to fasten the dress, she tripped over the hem. Seeing the look of amusement on her friend’s face, she laughed, asking “How in the name of Gre’thor is a woman supposed to fight in this thing? I can’t even walk in it!” “You’re not supposed to fight in it” Chrissie said, unable to resist teasing her friend. “If you think that, you’ve never been to a Klingon wedding” Kehlan retorted. “Hmm, it is a little long” the saleswoman said critically. It was not her place to contribute to the banter between two friends and she was careful to keep her replies on a factual basis. Chrissie looked at the excess material pooled around Kehlan’s feet. “I’d say it’s a lot too long” she said, trying hard to contain her laughter. “It should be easy enough to alter, though.” She glanced at the saleswoman for confirmation. The woman nodded. “Yes, of course. It could do with taking in a little around the waist as well” Moving around Kehlan, she placed some pins in the fabric around Kehlan’s waist and then began to pin the dress to the required length. Standing back to take another look, she muttered, “and I think, a slight alteration to the neckline…” A few more pins were positioned in the dress and then she took hold of Kehlan and turned her to face the mirror.

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Kehlan looked at her reflection in the mirror, not quite believing the transformation. She had never thought of herself as beautiful; it was her experience that her features were too harsh to be attractive to Terran men, yet not pronounced enough for Klingon males. Was that woman in the mirror really her? “You were right, Kehlan” Chrissie said, “the dress really is perfect.” Leaving her friend to get changed back into her normal clothes, Chrissie went back into the front room to discuss business with the owner. “The wedding is to take place in three days time” she said, “Can you have the gown altered by then?” “I will need full payment in advance” the proprietor said, thinking that neither of the two women were true Klingons. Suddenly suspicious, he wondered if they could actually afford the gown.” Chrissie handed over the credit chip that Krang had given her. Knowing that the day’s shopping was likely to prove expensive, he had assured her that it would be adequate to their needs. Inevitably, Kehlan had protested, not wanting Krang to pay for everything, but he had reminded her that if he was to give her away then he stood in place of her father and that on Earth, it was traditionally the bride’s parents who paid for the wedding. Of course, he had added wickedly, she could always send the bill to the chancellor. “Have the dress made ready and send it to the Inigan estate” Chrissie instructed, watching carefully as the chip registered and processed the transaction. He handed the chip back to her, just as Kehlan came out from the changing room.

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“I think that’s us finished for the day” Kehlan said happily, rejoining her friend. “Let’s go and get a drink. There’s a little café not far from here. It does a great raktajino.” Chrissie smiled. “Sounds good to me” she said cheerfully, “Then we’ll have to get back to the Endeavour, you’re due on duty this evening in case you’d forgotten.” Laughing and joking, the two friends left the shop and went on their way. ~~~<>~~~ Captain Mackenzie was getting worried. Kehlan had wanted to go shopping with Krang’s wife and he had acceded to her request for leave. But she had promised to be back on board the Endeavour in plenty of time to take the evening shift and so far there was no sign of her. She wasn’t actually late yet, the gamma shift wasn’t due to start for another half hour but even so, he was concerned. He was worrying over nothing, he told himself. He had seen Kehlan fight and knew she could look after herself. He and Kehlan would be married in a few days and he was sure that the women were probably too busy having fun buying things for the wedding to notice how late it was. In an effort to distract himself he buried himself in work. There was still a lot to be done before the Endeavour would be fit to leave space dock, although the repairs were coming on well. The Klingon engineers had almost finished fitting the cloaking device. He remembered that Admiral Portway had expressed concern over the fitting of the cloak, reminding Martok that it was against the Treaty of Algeron and that it could endanger the current rapport with the Romulans, but the chancellor had argued that while the Endeavour was serving with the

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Klingon fleet, it should be classed as a Klingon vessel and was therefore exempt from the Treaty. The time for change of shift came and went and the gamma shift crew arrived at their stations dead on time, relieving their beta shift colleagues from duty. While they were in space dock there was only a skeleton crew on duty, apart from the engineers. All non essential personnel had been given shore leave. But even so, a senior officer needed to be available at all times and there was still no sign of his first officer. Other than that one time he had cancelled her alarm call, he had never known Kehlan to be late for duty. Getting up and going into his ready room, he activated the comm. system and hailed the Hegh’Ta. Krang was not there, Kargan informed him, the Klingon captain was at his home, babysitting. If he hadn’t been so worried, he would have smiled at the thought. It still surprised him to see just how good the Klingon captain was with his children. He thanked Kargan and put in a call to the Inigan estate, where he finally managed to get hold of his Klingon brother. “I don’t know where they are” Krang told him, his own expression turning to one of concern as he listened to his friend’s words. “I had thought they were safely back on Endeavour. Chrissie said something about going there with Kehlan once they had finished their shopping.” “Kehlan should have been on duty ten minutes ago” Captain Mackenzie said, “There’s been no sign of her, no message, nothing. Krang, I’m worried.” “So am I” the Klingon admitted. “Let me run a few checks and I’ll get back to you as soon as I find anything.”

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Kehlan and Chrissie had enjoyed their afternoon shopping. It had been a successful day and they had spent plenty of money, arranging for their purchases to be sent directly to the Inigan estate. But Kehlan really did have to go on duty later that evening and it was time to call a halt to the trip. They were on their way now to the little café that Kehlan said was supposed to serve the best raktajino on Qo’noS. It was to be their final stop before heading back to the Endeavour. Kehlan frowned as she noticed a group of soldiers approaching them. Touching Chrissie’s arm to gain her attention, she nodded towards the soldiers and pulled her friend aside to let the men pass. But the soldiers did not continue on their way, instead moving to surround the two women. “Who are you and what do you want?” Kehlan demanded, not liking this at all.

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“You are Commander Kehlan” one of the men said, not answering her questions, “You will come with us.” Kehlan suddenly felt afraid. How did these men know who she was? “I’ll do no such thing” she snarled, drawing her d’k’tahg, ready to defend herself and Chrissie. She saw Chrissie unsheathe her own knife. She knew that her friend was as frightened as she was, if not more so and she felt proud of her friend’s courage. It was not the first time the two women had stood back to back in combat, in a very similar situation, but then it had been Chrissie who had been the target. This time it was her they wanted and she was determined not to be taken. One of the men, the one who had spoken, moved to take hold of Kehlan, but Chrissie moved quickly, getting in the way and slashing at the soldier with her d’k’tahg. The blow was clumsy but it distracted the warrior, forcing him to defend himself. At the same time, Kehlan tackled the second man. Her use of the blade was much more competent than Chrissie’s but as the other men moved in to assist their comrade, she found herself fighting three of them. Hearing Chrissie give a cry of pain, she redoubled her efforts to break free of them and assist her friend. The men had not expected the two women to put up such a fight and were taken by surprise. Chrissie had been trained by Krang in self defence techniques and he had taught her well, but she was no warrior and did not have the years of intensive training and battle experience that Kehlan had. For a while they were able to hold their own against their attackers and almost succeeded in breaking free. Kehlan didn’t know it, but their orders were to take her alive and unharmed and it was hampering their ability to fight. One of them managed to get hold of Kehlan’s arm, pulling her off balance. She staggered, then recovering, she thrust her d’k’tahg across and up, under 357


his guard and into his chest. Her aim was true and the blade slid into his heart. As he stiffened in shock, the life immediately beginning to fade away, she gave the blade a vicious twist and removed it, turning to face the other men who were attacking them. She was pleased to notice that Chrissie was all right and had managed to disable her own opponent. But her friend was bleeding from a cut to her shoulder and it would slow her down. Despite that, the odds were more even now, two against two, and Kehlan began to hope that they might have a chance of escape. The two remaining men did not give up however. They were determined to succeed in their mission. Ignoring the Terragnan woman for the moment, they both concentrated on Kehlan, the one they wanted, trying to back her into a corner. But while Chrissie was no expert with a weapon, she had studied hard and it was a mistake to ignore her. She threw herself at one of the attackers, trying to distract him. The soldier jumped back as Chrissieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s knife sliced through the leather of his uniform, his reflexes only just saving him from being disembowelled. Infuriated he backhanded her across the face, the heavy leather gauntlet protecting his fist, laying open her cheek. The force of the blow sent her reeling backwards and she smashed into the wall, hitting her head with a sickening crack. Kehlan turned just in time to see Chrissie slump to the ground, unconscious. In her concern for her friend, she never saw the soldier pull out his disruptor and aim it at her. By the time she was aware of his action, it was too late, the energies of the disruptor, set to heavy stun, had taken hold of her and after a moment of agonising pain, she too was unconscious. ~~~<>~~~

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Krang sat still for a few minutes, thinking, as he tried to determine the best course of action. Then, coming to a decision, he activated his computer and began to investigate. Using a highly illegal access code, he entered the banking system and tracked the women’s shopping expedition. He quickly ascertained that their last purchase had been at 15:25, three hours ago. Since then, nothing. Contacting the shop, he found that the owner remembered the two women as they had spent a lot of money. Krang groaned at this, but put it to the back of his mind for now. The man told him that the women had mentioned going for a raktajino before heading back to the Endeavour. Krang knew that they had never gone for that raktajino or even got in a taxi. Actual money was rarely used on Qo’noS, everything depended on the credit chip due to the traceability and security it offered. And no further purchases were recorded. Now that he knew they were definitely missing, he tapped into the Homeworld Security network. Most public areas of the First City were monitored. If there had been any trouble then it would have been recorded. Accessing the camera outside the location of their last purchase, he scrolled back through the film until the monitor showed a blurred image of the two women leaving the shop. As they moved out of range of the camera, he tracked them to the next one and the next one after that. They were heading away from the main shopping area in a south westerly direction and he suspected they were heading towards a well known café. He already knew that they had never reached it. Continuing to track them, he finally found what he was looking for. He could only watch in mounting horror as a group of soldiers approached the women and attacked them. The women fought well, taking down two of their

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assailants, he noted with pride, but not well enough to save themselves. He watched as first Chrissie fell, then Kehlan and the two remaining men picked up Kehlan and disappeared in a transporter beam, leaving Chrissie lying where she had fallen. This was like the worst of his nightmares, Krang thought bitterly, but this time it was real and it wasn’t the Jem’Hadar, but his own people. Oh Kahless, let her be alive! Freezing and saving the images on the screen, he called the Endeavour. “James, get down here, now” he said tersely, when the Terran answered his hail. He signed off again, glancing at the time as he did so. The old fashioned clock on his desk read 21:10. It had taken him two hours to get this far and the women had now been missing for almost six hours. His wife at least should be fairly easy to find now, he knew. If she had been killed in that fight then her body would have been taken to the City Morgue, to await identification and eventual disposal. If she was still alive, then she would be in the City Hospital. As he had heard nothing from either source, it was safe to assume that her identification had been stolen. In a moment of pessimism, he decided to contact the morgue first. He felt sick as the attendant put him on hold and went to check. Several minutes went by, each minute feeling like a lifetime to the anxious Klingon as he waited to find out if his wife was alive or dead. Eventually, the attendant returned and informed him that no Terragnan woman had been brought into the morgue that afternoon or evening. Krang expelled the breath that he hadn’t even realised he was holding. So she was alive then. Captain Mackenzie materialised outside Krang’s house and went straight in, not bothering to knock. He found Krang in his study, talking, via the comm. system, to a Klingon woman in a nurse’s uniform. Finishing the call, 360


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Krang turned to his Terragnan friend. “There’s no sign of Kehlan yet, but I’ve found Chrissie” Krang told him tiredly, “She was admitted to the City Hospital at 16:10. It looks like her ID was stolen so they didn’t know who she was.” Captain Mackenzie frowned. “Is she all right?” Krang shook his head. “She hasn’t regained consciousness.” Quietly he told the Terran what he had found out and showed him the images on the camera. “It very much appears that Kehlan has been the victim of a kidnapping” he finished. ~~~<>~~~ Kehlan awoke slowly. She had a stinking headache and her entire body felt as though every nerve ending was on fire. They probably were, she thought groggily, Klingon disruptors were not like the phasers used in the Federation and worked on completely different principles. A disruptor set to stun, like the one that had caught her, was incredibly painful, as she was now finding out to her cost. Slowly, cautiously, she opened her eyes, wondering where she was. She found that she was lying on a hard metal bunk in a room that appeared to be a fairly standard cell, square with three walls and the fourth side open to the corridor. She could see the shimmering of the forcefield that was preventing her from trying to escape. It had to be a very powerful one if it was actually visible and she wondered again where she was. Kehlan sat up, groaning as every part of her body protested against the movement. She was in no condition to fight but in spite of her imprisonment, she was not ready to simply give up. When they, whoever they were,

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came for her, she would be ready for them. With care, she got to her feet and began to work through a series of simple mok’bara exercises. The cell was small but there was just enough space. The ritual movements helped calm her and ease her fears and helped to work some of the stiffness out of her muscles, leaving her feeling more alert and ready for whatever was to come. She had no idea how much time had passed when she finally heard footsteps. From the heavy tramping sound there were guards, several of them, approaching her cell. Stopping the exercise, she turned to the forcefield and waited, forcing her expression to remain calm and unworried. She was determined that she would not show fear to these honourless petaq’pu who had taken her prisoner. A uniformed male came to stand outside her cell, two heavily armed guards behind him. Ignoring the guards for the moment, Kehlan focused on the man who stood just on the other side of the forcefield, knowing that he was the true threat. The insignia on his sash denoted him as being an Imperial Intelligence officer of some importance. Her fear increased and she struggled to control it. What had she done to bring I.I. down on her? Whatever it was, she suspected she was about to find out. The officer ordered the forcefield lowered and beckoned to her. “Come with me.” She made no effort to move. “Who are you?” He frowned. I.I. agents were not accustomed to being questioned by their prisoners but after a moment he answered her question anyway. “I am Commander Traig of Klingon Imperial Intelligence. Now, come with me.”

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Still she remained where she was, unwilling to make this too easy for them. “Commander Kehlan” the officer said, his hand resting on the disruptor tucked into his belt, “Will you come with me willingly or do we have to stun you again?” Kehlan did not answer immediately. She stared at her guards, assessing her chances but realised at once that there was no chance of escape. It would be better, she decided, if she at least appeared to be cooperating with them. “I will come with you” she said at last. With a nod of acknowledgement he turned and walked away. She followed him, very conscious of the two guards bringing up the rear. He led her down a long corridor and into a turbolift. When the doors closed behind them, he said, “Sub level three” and the lift began to move in a downwards direction. It seemed to take a long time and Kehlan’s uneasiness increased. By now they had to be fairly deep underground. She had heard rumours about the interrogation rooms deep under the I.I. buildings and she really did not want to know if they were true. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t being given a choice. The turbolift door opened onto the lower level and Commander Traig stepped out. Kehlan hesitated for a moment, but seeing the expressions on the guards’ faces she took a deep breath and with great reluctance, followed him. Within moments they had reached their destination, a dark windowless room, unfurnished except for a chair. Traig gestured towards the chair. “Sit down.” Seeing no alternative, Kehlan obeyed. “Now, tell me your name”

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She stared at him in surprise, it was such a simple question that she had not expected it. “You already know who I am” “Tell me your name” he repeated. “My name is Kehlan.” “Your full name” he prompted patiently. “I have no other name” she told him. “What House are you from?” Kehlan hesitated. This was getting close to things she wanted kept secret. “I am a member of House Inigan” she said finally. It was not strictly true. She would not become a true member of that House until her marriage, but she knew that Krang would not deny her the protection of his House for such a petty reason. “House Inigan” he said, “That’s a powerful House. But it’s not your true House, is it Kehlan? What are your origins?” Was that what this was all about, Kehlan wondered. How much did they already know? Was Imperial Intelligence arrogant enough to place listening devices in the Great Hall and actually spy on the chancellor? Standing over her, he wrapped his hand in her hair and pulled her head back, striking her across the face with his other fist. “Answer my questions.” “I grew up in House Gensa” she told him, “I do not know what my origins are.” Actually, she thought, it wasn’t even a lie. Until she was told the results of the blood tests, she did not know for definite that Martok was her father. She still believed that she had been right in insisting on secrecy. Martok was exactly what the

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Klingon Empire needed right now but, common born, he was not popular with the great Houses and any hint of impropriety could cause enough dissention to bring him down. She would not be part of that and if it took her life, then so be it. But surprisingly, he changed track. “It’s a well known fact” he said, “that the Houseless are easily bought. Who bought you, Houseless one? To whom is your loyalty?” Kehlan was aware that Traig was deliberately baiting her, hoping to provoke her into a rash response. She was too slow in answering him and she felt pain in her scalp as he tightened his grip on her hair. “My loyalty is to my mate” she said through gritted teeth, “And to the head of the House of Inigan” “What of your loyalty to the Empire?” he demanded harshly. “I have always been loyal to the Empire” “Yet you serve the Federation. You are an officer on a Starfleet ship. Are you spying for them?” “I was sent to the Endeavour” Kehlan told him, “Like any Defence Force officer, I obey the orders of my superior officers and go where I am sent.” Traig struck her again. “Let’s start again” he said, his tone threatening, “Who are you? What are your origins?” So they were back to that again. The interrogation was going round in circles and Kehlan guessed that it was deliberate, that he hoped that if he asked the questions often enough, she would eventually give the answers he wanted. She was afraid that he just might be right. Traig would have more tools available to him than just his fists. He would use the agoniser next and if that didn’t get

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results, then his superiors would authorise the use of the mind-sifter. And that terrified her. She did not want to betray Martok but she knew she could not hold out against a device that would literally rip the information straight out of her brain. Maybe, she thought desperately, she could find something to tell him that would allay his suspicions. If not, then she would have to try to provoke him into killing her. “I have nothing to tell you” she said defiantly. Traig struck her a third time and letting go of her hair, he stepped away from her, removing something from a pocket in his uniform. “I’ve already warned you about the consequences of disobedience” he growled. Kehlan tasted blood and putting up a hand to touch her mouth, realised that the last blow had split open her lip. The taste of her own blood infuriated her, and anger momentarily replacing fear, she got to her feet and faced her tormentor. “You had better kill me now” she informed him, “Because you will get no more answers from me and if you don’t kill me, I swear that you will be the one to die.” She threw herself at him, attacking even though she knew it was hopeless. Even if she managed to defeat him, there were plenty more out there. She could not possibly get past all of them, but it would be worth whatever punishment they inflicted on her if she could just take down this one man. Traig was too quick for her. Stepping aside, he allowed her momentum to carry her past him, then with a swift turn, he grabbed her arm, twisting it behind her back and yanking her back towards him until her body was pressed against his. She struggled violently but to no avail. His other arm came up and around her throat and he touched something to the side of her neck. Instantly,

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Kehlan was filled with such agonising pain that she could not help screaming. The device stimulated her nerve endings, firing the pain receptors without ever actually doing any physical damage. Called an agoniser, it was well named. It was not the first time Kehlan had experienced this type of punishment, but not for many years and not to this level. She had forgotten how bad it was. Her body convulsed and then went limp as he deactivated the device. “Don’t cross me again, Kehlan” Traig warned her, shoving her back into the chair. “You will not like the results. Now, let’s start again from the beginning.”

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Chapter 34

The interrogation went on and on, the same questions being asked over and over again. Who are you? What are your origins? What are your loyalties? Who is paying you? That last question suddenly struck a chord. Kehlan remembered Martok demanding to know the answers to very similar questions â&#x20AC;&#x201C; who was she and who had sent her? She remembered as well how angry Sirella had been. Was it possible that the chancellor or his wife had ordered her interrogation? In her pain and confusion she no longer knew what was the right thing to do Maybe she should just tell them everything, she thought, but that would be dishonourable, better to tell them nothing. Again and again she gave the same answers. He used the agoniser on her several more times, increasing the level until she no longer had the strength to scream. Finally in disgust he put the agoniser back in his pocket and went to the door. For a moment, Kehlan thought it 368


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was finally over and she would be returned to her cell, but Traig merely spoke to one of the guards, giving him some instructions. She heard the guard leave and return a few minutes later. He handed something to Traig who came back into the room. Whatever it was that the guard had given him, he touched it to her neck. She winced as it touched the same spot where he had applied the agoniser but surprisingly it didn’t hurt her. There was a slight pressure against her skin and a hissing sound. Kehlan’s vision began to blur and she felt dizzy. “Drugged” she said hazily, “You’ve drugged me.” “That’s right” he said with a satisfied smile, “Maybe now, you’ll tell me what I want to know.” It was an effort to even lift her head to look at him, but somehow she managed it. “I don’t know what you want” she told him, beginning to succumb to the urge to sleep. “I’ve told you everything.” Her eyes closed and blackness claimed her. Traig swore viciously. The dose had been too high and had put her to sleep. He had adjusted the amount of the drug to take into account her Terragnan heritage, but obviously he had got it wrong. Disgusted, he shouted for the guards to take her back to her cell. ~~~<>~~~ Krang materialised outside the city hospital, with Captain Mackenzie and the Vulcan healer T’lia at his side. Klingon medicine had improved since the alliance with the Federation and the facilities at this particular hospital were very good, but Krang trusted T’lia and wanted her in charge of his wife’s treatment. No sooner had the beam released them when Krang was already striding through the glass doors and into the

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foyer of the hospital, Mackenzie and T’lia following quickly in his footsteps. Approaching the main reception desk, he spoke briefly with the woman on duty and almost immediately a doctor arrived to escort them to the intensive care unit. A few minutes later, Krang stood at the door of the private room where his wife was being treated. Chrissie lay on the bio bed, unnaturally pale and still. She was deeply unconscious, only the faint, rhythmic rise and fall of her chest and the steady beeping coming from the monitors attached to her giving any indication that she was still alive. Krang crossed the room and stood by her side, taking her limp hand in his. He looked back towards the Vulcan healer. “T’lia?” He was unable to hide his anxiety. “Is she… will she be all right?” T’lia activated the padd the doctor had handed her and began to study the medical report, quickly and efficiently picking out the important bits as she translated from the written Klingon into Federation Standard. “subdural haematoma… blunt force trauma to the cranium… severe concussion…” Downloading the report to her tricorder, she carried out a scan before comparing the results with the data gathered from the Klingon report. That done, she gave a satisfied nod. So far, she was happy with the treatment the patient had received. “I believe she will make a full recovery” she reassured Krang. “However, it would be prudent to transfer her to the medical facilities aboard the USS Endeavour, where we can better see to her needs."

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The Klingon doctor bristled at the perceived insult. "Are you saying Klingon medicine is inferior to Federation medicine, Vulcan?" "Far from it doctor, however Federation medical science is better suited to dealing with Terran injuries, whereas Klingon medical practices are more suited to Klingons. Do you understand?" The Klingon doctor nodded. In actual fact he was relieved. He was not accustomed to treating aliens and would be glad to hand over responsibility for treatment of the Security Captain’s wife to someone more experienced in dealing with Terragnanpu. “I will make the arrangements at once” ~~~<>~~~ By the following morning all the necessary arrangements were in place and Chrissie had been beamed directly to the Endeavour’s sickbay, where Krang was once again at her side. His wife was still unconscious and Krang was becoming worried. As was Captain Mackenzie, although for different reasons. The woman lying motionless on the bio-bed, very possibly held the key to the safe return of his own mate. At the very least, she might be able to tell hem something about their attackers. Krang glanced at his friend, having a very good idea of what the Terran was thinking. Mackenzie was right, he knew. They needed the information she held. He turned towards T’lia. “Can you wake her?” “I do not recommend such a course of action” T’lia said, “After a head injury of this type….”

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“I understand” Krang answered. “but I think we have no choice. She is the only one who can tell us what happened to Kehlan.” T’lia nodded, accepting Krang’s decision, even if she did not like it. Picking up a hypospray she adjusted it and applied it to the unconscious woman. A moment later, Chrissie gave a low moan and her eyelids fluttered open. “Krang?” Krang moved to her side, reaching out and caressing her bloodstained hair. “I’m here Chrissie-love” he told her reassuringly, “You’re safe now” With an effort, Chrissie focussed on her husband. “Where am I?” “You’re in the Endeavour’s sickbay” he told her, “Chrissie, can you tell me what happened? Who attacked you?” She was quiet for a moment as she relived the attack. “They knew who we were” she told them hesitantly. She was still a little groggy and the words did not come easily. “It was Kehlan they wanted. They just… came up to us and demanded she went with them. They… weren’t interested in me, I just got in the way.” She paused, remembering the fear and the horror she had felt. “We tried to defend ourselves but… they were too strong” Captain Mackenzie moved closer, leaning over Krang’s shoulder, “Who were they, Chrissie? Can you identity them” She paused, thinking back and trying to remember the details. “It all happened so fast” she said, “they were in uniform but the insignia… it wasn’t Defence Force”

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“What did it look like?” Krang asked, “think Chrissie, it’s important” She met her husband’s eyes. “It was like the one on your old uniform, the one you used to wear on Earth” Krang froze. The one on his uniform? But that was… “You mean the one that looks like a Terran letter I?” Chrissie nodded, wincing as the motion set her head pounding. “Yes” Imperial Intelligence. What did I.I. want with Kehlan? There was nothing particularly unusual, nothing out of the ordinary about her. Was there? Krang went cold as he remembered exactly what it was that made Kehlan so special. She was the illegitimate daughter of the chancellor. He had not yet been told the results of the blood tests, but he had no doubt that they would be positive. And he knew that neither Martok nor Sirella had any doubts. If an II agent had learned of this then it was no wonder that she had been arrested. But what were their plans? Had they taken her to eliminate a threat to the chancellor – or to use against him? Either way, he would have to move quickly. ~~~<>~~~ Captain Mackenzie stared at Krang in complete disbelief as, sitting in his ready room on he USS Endeavour, he listened to the crazy plan his Klingon friend as expounding. “Just what do you think you’re going to do?” he asked sarcastically, “Just walk in there and demand her release?” “Actually yes” Krang said, unperturbed by his friend’s sarcasm. “Regardless of what Martok said about restoring my rank, my commission was never actually revoked. That makes me the senior ranking Security Captain.” 373


“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go.” “You can’t come with me this time” Krang said, “You wouldn’t even get through the door.” “Why not?” the Terran captain demanded. “Firstly because you’re a Terragnan” the Klingon explained patiently “Secondly because you are not a member of Imperial Intelligence.” “Krang, she’s my mate” Captain Mackenzie said, “I can’t just sit here and wait. I have to do something.” Krang put a comforting hand on the Terran’s shoulder. “I know” he said, understanding exactly how the other man felt. He did not think he could have stood by and waited if it had been his wife that was taken prisoner. “James, I need you to trust me. I promise you that I will get Kehlan out of there or die in the attempt.” He hesitated before continuing, “If I do not return by this evening, go to Martok and tell him everything. Then get my wife and children to safety.” Captain Mackenzie looked shocked by his friend’s words. “Surely you don’t think…” “I do not believe that I will be in any danger” Krang said grimly, “but where my family are concerned, I am taking no risks.” ~~~<>~~~ Lying on the floor of her cell, Kehlan began to swim back to consciousness once again. She fought it unsuccessfully, not wanting to wake up. Here in the blackness, she was safe, nothing could touch her or hurt her, but in wakefulness lay only pain. She was becoming more and more frightened. She had been removed from her cell and questioned several times now and she knew 374


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that she was getting close to the limit of what she could take. Her nerves were still on fire from the extended use of the agoniser and her whole body ached from the beatings Traig had given her. Traig was losing patience and now that he knew the drug did not work on her, that only left the mind sifter. It would not be long before he used it. Fully awake now, she began to make plans. She had no idea how long she had been held captive, but the time had come for her to either escape or die. Other than that one abortive attempt to kill Traig, she had been a model prisoner. The guards would not be expecting her to try anything. If she could take them by surprise, she might be able to disarm one of them and if she could do that then she might stand a chance. Finally her chance came. Two guards approached her cell and lowered the forcefield, and beckoned her. She stepped towards them quietly, offering no resistance. They moved to either side of her, laughing and joking with each other, not paying much attention to the prisoner they were escorting. It was a fatal mistake. Kehlan exploded into action, twisting around and lashing out at the nearer of the two guards. The blow caught him on the side of the neck and he staggered, gasping for breath. Relieving him of his dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;kâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;tahg, she brought the weapon across his body in a deadly sweep. Pandemonium broke out as an alarm was activated, but it was too late to save the man she had attacked, the wound he had received was mortal. Ignoring him, she turned her attention to the second guard, but he was ready for her and put up more of a fight than his colleague. Even so, she dispatched him quickly. More guards appeared and Kehlan realised that she could not hope to escape. Well she would go down

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fighting. It was an honourable way to die and Sto-Vo-Kor awaited her. No longer underestimating her, the guards came at her in a group rather than one by one and the fight intensified. She fought savagely, but despite her skill, she was weakened by the torture she had undergone and took several wounds. They were shouting at her now, to put down her weapon and surrender but she ignored them, continuing to fight. Suddenly a cold voice cut through the bedlam. “mevyap!” Instantly obeying the command to stop, the guards backed away from Kehlan, disengaging from the fight. Her back against the wall, Kehlan appraised the newcomer. She had never seen him before. He was an older man. Unprepossessing in build and without the height and obvious physical strength of the typical warrior, nevertheless something about the way he carried himself warned her that he was a force to be reckoned with. He held a disruptor in his hand. “Commander Kehlan, put down your weapons and come with me.” Kehlan shook her head. She had no intention of surrendering. She knew she could not remain firm through another torture session. Let him shoot. She stepped forward, raising her knife. “I said, put your weapon down” he repeated. “You have my word you will not be harmed.” Kehlan ignored his order. There was no reason for her to trust anyone from Imperial Intelligence. She moved towards him again and as soon as she was close enough, she flung herself at him. Ready for her attack, he was far

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too quick for her. Levelling the disruptor at her, he fired and she collapsed, falling to the ground unconscious. ~~~<>~~~ This time when she woke, Kehlan realised she was in a different cell. She wondered where she was and why she had been moved. She felt despair, she had succeeded neither in escape nor dying. I’m sorry Martok, she thought, I won’t be able to keep your secret much longer. Two guards, armed with disruptors, stood outside the cell. Realising that the prisoner was awake, one of them moved away and spoke to someone over the intercom. When he returned, he lowered the forcefield and gestured to her to leave the cell. They took her to the lift but this time the lift went in an upwards direction. Kehlan smiled a little, noting how the guards kept their disruptors pointed at her, and stayed as far away from her as possible. When the lift finally came to a halt, they led her at disruptorpoint through a twisting maze of corridors until they came to a door. The nearest guard activated the chime and a voice from within called “Come.” The door slid open with a slight hissing sound and the guards pushed Kehlan into the room. Contrary to her expectations, it was not another interrogation room, rather it appeared to be an office. Most of the rear wall was taken up by a massive hexagonal window, offering a spectacular view across the First City. Seated at the desk, was the Klingon officer who had shot her. He looked up as they entered the room. “We have brought the prisoner as ordered, Sir” one of the guards said, saluting. “I can see that” the officer said dryly. dismissed.”

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“Guards,


“But sir, the prisoner is…” “I said, dismissed.” With no further argument, the guards left. When the door closed behind them, the officer gestured to a nearby chair. “Take a seat” Kehlan obeyed warily. The chair was surprisingly comfortable and she found herself grateful for its support. She had very little strength left now and it had taken everything she had just to walk here unaided. She was no longer capable of fighting, but she was determined that she would not show her weakness. He got up and moving over to a nearby cupboard, removed a bottle of blood-wine. Pouring two generous glasses, he handed one to her. She took it from him but made no attempt to drink it. Who are you?” she said suspiciously, “Why are you doing this?” “It’s a good vintage” he said conversationally, taking a mouthful of the wine as he spoke. Then he gave her a partial answer to her question. “My name is Lorgh.” Kehlan said nothing, not sure what this man wanted with her. She had no reason to trust anyone in Imperial Intelligence. “You’ve caused a lot of trouble, you know” Lorgh said, “Two guards are dead and the rest don’t want to go anywhere near you.” He gave a harsh laugh. “That’ll teach them to stay alert on duty.” Kehlan remained silent. Cautiously she tasted the wine. He was right, it was a good vintage. “I just have a few questions to ask” he said. “So tell me Commander Kehlan, are you a threat to the Empire?”

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“I have always been loyal to the Empire” she said. “That’s not what I asked” he said. “I already know you are loyal. But are you a threat?” How could she answer that question, knowing that if the truth about her parentage became public, then it could bring down the chancellor? “I hope not” she answered, as honestly as she could, “I am no traitor. I would choose death rather than do anything to harm the Empire. “Good, that’s what I wanted to hear. Very well, you’re free to go.” “Free?” Kehlan thought she must have misheard him. He nodded. “Yes.” Activating his comm. system, he snapped an order for Kehlan’s possessions to brought to his office. Only a minute later, the door opened and a guard came in, carrying a box. Approaching Kehlan warily, he handed it to her and left the room again. She took the box from him and opened it, finding her d’k’tahg and communicator inside as well as the few other bits and pieces that she had been carrying when she was arrested. She stood up and removing the knife from the box, she examined it carefully and sheathed it in her belt. It was nothing fancy, there was no House insignia on the blade, but it was a good, serviceable weapon and she was glad to have it back. With the return of her d’k’tahg, she finally began to believe that he really was going free her. “I can really go?” “That’s what I said” he responded patiently. “Once you are outside you will be able to beam back to your ship. You cannot do it from here, the building is shielded. Come, I will walk with you as far as the main entrance.”

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He stood up and walked towards the door, gesturing to Kehlan to follow him. He did so, but when he stepped into the waiting lift, Kehlan hesitated. She could not help being afraid that it would take her back to her cell and to further torture and she did not want to get back into that lift. “You may use the stairs if you wish” Lorgh said, a touch of sarcasm in his voice, “but we are thirty floors up. Are you sure you would not prefer use the lift?” Stung by his scorn, Kehlan entered the lift. The doors closed behind her and there was a slight sensation of falling as the lift began to plummet towards the ground floor. It was very quick and only a few seconds passed before the lift arrived at its destination and the doors opened again. Surveying her surroundings. Kehlan realised that the Operations Master had spoken the truth. They really were on the ground floor. She could see what appeared to be a reception area and beyond, heavily guarded, was a great glass door, leading to the outside world. The doors swished open as they approached and Lorgh gestured to Kehlan to precede him. She stepped through the doors and stopped for a moment, savouring the feel of the breeze and the smell of fresh air. She had no idea how long she had been imprisoned, but it felt as though it had been a lifetime, instead of the few days she knew it must be. It was hard to believe she was actually free to go. Lorgh followed her out of the building and allowed the doors to close behind him, waving back the guards who had started to follow. He took Kehlan’s arm, turning her to face him. “Before you go” he said to her, “I am aware of your relationship to Chancellor Martok. You have

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assured me that you are no threat to the Empire. If you ever give me reason to believe that has changed, then I will have you eliminated.” Releasing his grip on her arm he turned and walked back into the building, leaving Kehlan standing alone in the street. Kehlan did not move immediately, but remained still, looking around her. Then, slowly, she raised her hand to touch her combadge, opening a channel to her ship. “Kehlan to Endeavour. One to beam up.” Almost immediately she felt the familiar tingling sensation as the energy beam formed around her, dissolving her molecule by molecule and instantly rematerialising her on the Endeavour’s transporter pad. Standing in the lobby of the Imperial Intelligence building, Lorgh watched through the glass doors as Kehlan disappeared and then, with a satisfied smile, he turned and went back to his office. Now he just had Krang to deal with. His operative at the Inigan estate had already called to inform him that the Captain of Security was in transit to I.I. headquarters. Obviously he had figured out where Kehlan was being held and was on his way to demand her release. Well that at least had been pre-empted, Lorgh thought. His smile faded. This operation had been a fiasco from beginning to end.

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Chapter 35 Moragh entered the Imperial Intelligence building and went straight to his office. He was tired and irritable having only just returned from a fruitless mission to Khitomer. Engrossed in the reports that had piled up on his desk during his absence, he barely noticed when the door to his office opened. “I’m busy” he said, not bothering to look up. “I’ll come back later then, shall I?” Lorgh said sarcastically, “Or do you think you could find the time to discuss the mess your department got into while you’ve been away?” Instantly Moragh was on his feet and saluting the man who was the supreme head of Imperial Intelligence. Coming further into the office, Lorgh threw a report onto Moragh’s desk. “Read this.” Picking up the padd, Moragh began to study it. He couldn’t believe what he was reading. Traig was a fully trained and highly experienced operative, one whom 382


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Moragh had been grooming for eventual promotion to Captain of Security. Either Traig was an idiot to have made a mistake like this, or it wasn’t a mistake and the man was getting too ambitious. Whatever the reason, it had caused a major problem for Moragh to deal with. “I’ll get this sorted out, sir” Moragh said, “I’ll have Commander Kehlan released immediately.” “That won’t be necessary” Lorgh told him. “I have already done it myself.” Qu’vatlh! Moragh swore to himself that Traig would pay for this mess. There should never have been any need for the Operations Master to get involved in what should have been a simple routine questioning. He had intended nothing more than to bring the commander in, ask her a few questions and let her go again. Instead it had escalated out of all control and become a major embarrassment for the department. ~~~<>~~~ Ten minutes later, Traig was standing to attention in front of Moragh’s desk as the angry Captain of Security tore into him mercilessly. “You ordered me to have the commander brought in for questioning” Traig said defensively, finally given an opportunity to speak. “I obeyed that order.” “You exceeded your orders” Moragh snapped, “You were told to bring her in for routine questioning, nothing more. Instead, what do I find? Your men attacked two defenceless women in the street, left one seriously injured and kidnapped the other.”

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“They were hardly defenceless” Traig said, “They managed to disable two of our agents. And what does some Terragnan woman matter anyway?” “Be silent!” Moragh was furious as he surveyed the now thoroughly nervous officer standing in front of him. “The Terragnan woman your agents left for dead is the wife of a fellow Captain of Security” he informed Traig angrily, “and not just any Captain of Security, but the only one who is actually senior to me. I then discover that you’ve gone ahead with the questioning without bothering to wait for my instructions and not only that but you’ve carried out a full blown interrogation, which this was never supposed to be, and used excessive force.” “She was uncooperative and refused to answer questions” Traig said, “I had to…” He was given no chance to finish what he was saying. “I said, be silent!” Moragh snarled and intimidated by his superior, Traig obeyed. He was beginning to realise that he was unlikely to get out of this alive. He could try to kill Moragh, but even if he was lucky enough to succeed, it would give him only a short reprieve. Imperial Intelligence was the only department in the Empire where promotion could not be obtained via assassination of a senior officer. The last time a Captain of Security had been killed by someone inside the department, the other five had hunted down and executed the assassin before choosing a replacement for their murdered colleague. No dissention was tolerated. “You have put me in an embarrassing position” Moragh said, his voice cold as ice, “And you have brought disgrace on the department. I cannot and will not allow that to go unpunished.”

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“I am, and have always been, a loyal servant of the Empire” Traig said stoically, knowing he was about to die and accepting his fate. Moragh raised the disruptor in his hand and fired. The weapon was set to maximum and at point blank range there was no chance of his missing. The beam hit Traig in the centre of his chest and his scream was cut short as the energy bathed him, disintegrating his body from the inside out until there was nothing left to show that Traig had ever existed. ~~~<>~~~ Kehlan materialised on the transporter pad of the USS Endeavour and as the beam released her from its grip and the world came back into focus, she took a step backwards, putting out a hand until she could feel the wall behind her. She leaned against the wall for several moments, ignoring the concerned questions of the transporter operator. Then, her strength finally giving out she allowed herself to slide down the wall until she was sitting on the floor of the transporter pad, knees against her chest. Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths before trying to get up again. She failed in her attempt; somehow she just didn’t have the energy to move. She must have blacked out because the next thing she was aware of was the captain kneeling by her side, Major Speares and T’lia close behind him. “Kehlan?” He was calling her name. Seeing her open her eyes he reached out and touched her, caressing her face. “Are you all right?” Kehlan flinched at his touch. Her skin was over sensitive, her nerves still on fire from the effects of the extensive punishment she had taken from Traig’s

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agoniser. Was she all right? She considered the question momentarily. Well, she was still alive which was a bonus, she thought groggily, “I…I don’t know” she said eventually, “I… think so.” She hesitated. “How long was I imprisoned?” “Four days” She stared at him, suddenly miserable. “I missed our wedding” Captain Mackenzie gave her a tender smile. “We can get married any time you like” he told her lovingly, “How does tomorrow sound?” Placing her hand in his, Kehlan returned his smile. “Tomorrow sounds perfect” ~~~<>~~~ Endeavour’s Ten Forward lounge was full to bursting. The room had been redecorated Klingon style and the officers of both Endeavour and Hegh’Ta were there, as well as several honoured guests, including Admiral Portway, Krang’s wife Chrissie and even Chancellor Martok and his wife. Only Captain Krang and Kehlan were missing. Music was playing in the background – several of Endeavour’s crew were gifted musicians and had got together to form a band. Captain Mackenzie stood talking quietly with his marine commander and acting second officer, Major Philip Speares. The collar of his dress uniform was chafing his neck and he felt edgy as he waited for his half Klingon first officer to arrive. There was nothing to be nervous about he chided himself. He glanced at the time. She was late and his nervousness increased.

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The turbolift doors opened and everyone turned to look as Kehlan stepped out, the Klingon captain at her side. She looked absolutely beautiful, Captain Mackenzie thought, in a full length dress of softest white leather that reflected both her Klingon and Terran heritage. She carried no bouquet, but uncharacteristically she had tucked a white flower into the long dark hair that cascaded down her back. The music changed as the band began to play the wedding march and her hand on Krang’s arm she stepped out of the lift and into the room. Suddenly Captain Mackenzie’s nervousness was gone. Staring at his bride, he had never been more sure that he was doing the right thing, that marriage to Kehlan was the best thing that could ever happen to him. As Krang escorted Kehlan to Captain Mackenzie’s side, Admiral Portway stepped forward, gesturing for silence in the room. “You all know why we are gathered here today” she began. “It is my privilege as the senior ranking officer, to join together these two people, Captain James Mackenzie and Commander Kehlan. Martok took over then, telling the story of the two Klingon hearts, accompanied by the beating of Klingon drums. The audience listened, spellbound. They all knew the story but it was traditionally told at Klingon weddings and Martok told it well. The drum beat increased its tempo as Martok told how the two hearts fought one another before pausing dramatically. The couple stepped apart and Captain Mackenzie accepted the batleth that Kargan offered him. To his surprise, the weapon that Vareq was handing Kehlan was not a batleth, but his katana. How had they managed to obtain the sword without his knowledge? Pushing the question aside for the moment, he took a deep breath and

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began the ritual combat. Kehlan responded. To the Starfleet captain, her attack seemed lightning fast and he was barely able to raise his batleth in time to counter her. This wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t going the way they had practiced it. The fight was only supposed to be a ritual, he thought, what was she playing at? Then he saw the look of mischief in her eyes. Even now, in the middle of their wedding ceremony, she was able to keep him guessing. Well, two could play at that game. He struck back hard and the blades clashed. If they were to follow the ritual strictly, he should now give way and allow her to defeat him, but he was enjoying himself now and wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quite ready for that. Moving to the attack, it was his turn to catch her by surprise. Knowing she was hampered by her long skirts, he pressed his advantage, wielding the batleth as Krang had taught him. Kehlan stepped back to avoid the swing of his weapon and almost tripped. Recovering herself quickly she intensified her attack. She was breathing hard now, excited and aware only of the man in front of her. She was in battle, fighting her potential mate, testing his strength and courage â&#x20AC;&#x201C; testing his worthiness to claim her. Nothing else mattered. Like his mate, Captain Mackenzie was breathing hard. Recognising that it was time for him to end the fight and let the ceremony continue, he countered one last time. Then, as Kehlan twisted the sword and swung at him, he deliberately dropped his guard and in a gesture of complete trust, left himself open to her attack. Reacting instantly, Kehlan adjusted the trajectory of the blade so that it never quite touched him. Bringing it back round she brought the point of the katana to his throat and held the weapon there motionless, before stepping back and allowing Kargan and Vareq to relieve them of their weapons.

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“If you two are quite finished?” Martok muttered under his breath, trying to hide his smile as he continued with the story of how the two hearts had stopped their fight, realising they were stronger united than they were alone. Finally the chancellor brought the story to a conclusion. “No-one can withstand the beating of two Klingon hearts.” Krang took Kehlan’s hand and placed it in Captain Mackenzie’s. The Terran captain stared into Kehlan’s eyes before saying “jiH dok” Kehlan’s smile was radiant as she gave the traditional reply. “maj dok” Then they both said together “TlhIngan jiH” The Klingon part of the ceremony was over. In reflection of both their cultures, the rest of the wedding would follow the Terran way. Admiral Portway took over again, asking first Captain Mackenzie and then Kehlan to make their vows. As they did, Major Speares handed the wedding rings to the admiral. The Klingon captain took Kehlan’s hand and placed it in that of her mate. James had hoped to have Krang as his best man but Kehlan had known him longer and had already asked him to give her away, a request that the Klingon had been honoured to accept. And so Philip Speares, Endeavour’s marine commander, stood by his side. One by one, Admiral Portway placed the rings on their fingers and then said “By the powers invested in me as Starfleet Admiral, in the presence of these witnesses, I hereby proclaim you both husband and wife.” The room erupted in cheers as Captain Mackenzie pulled his new wife into his arms and kissed her. ~~~<>~~~ 389


Epilogue

The shuttle-cab drove away, leaving Krang and Chrissie standing alone on the landing strip. Captain Mackenzie and Kehlan had already gone on ahead. Endeavour and the rest of the squadron were in orbit and only the newly repaired Heghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ta remained on the ground, waiting for its captain to come aboard. Krang was back in his Klingon uniform again and for the first time in years, he wore his honour sash with his medals and the badge of his House proudly displayed on it. He had never known that Chrissie had kept it safe for him since he had discarded it so many years ago believing his honour lost. Chrissie smiled as she looked at her husband. His time on Heghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ta had changed him, giving him back something he had lost in the years he had lived in the Federation. The man standing by her side was still her husband and father to her children, but now he was the captain of a Klingon bird-of-prey and commander of a fleet of war

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ships. He was the proud Klingon warrior she had met and fallen in love with. She knew that even now, he would put her first, that he would give it up and walk away if she asked it. And if she did, then something inside him would die. Krang was doing what he was born to do and she had to let him go. “They’re waiting for you” Chrissie said. “It’s time you left.” “I’m short of a science officer now Kehlan’s gone over to the Endeavour” Krang said to her, only half joking, “You could come with me.” Chrissie stared at him regretfully. Even knowing the impossibility of it, she was wildly tempted. Slowly she shook her head. “You know I can’t” she told him. “Someone has to stay with the children. And I can’t read Klingon well enough, I’d be a liability.” “You’ve never been a liability to me” he said gently, “And never will be. But you’re right, you don’t belong on a battle ship.” “I know” she said, “And you do. But Krang, please, be…” She stopped. She wanted desperately for him to be safe, but he was Klingon – how could she ask him to be careful? But Krang understood what she left unsaid. “I am a warrior, Chrissie” he said, his tone full of love and reassurance, “I am going into battle. I have trained my whole life for this, you shouldn’t worry about me.” Reaching out, he caressed her hair, then pulled her roughly into his arms. “I must go in a moment” he said, “But I will come back to you. I promise it.” Taking her face between his hands, he kissed her fiercely. Then, releasing her, he turned and walked away. 391


Chrissie watched as he strode across the landing strip and up the ramp of the waiting bird-of-prey. Reaching the top, he looked back towards her for a moment. Her vision blurring with unshed tears, she blew him one last kiss and smiled as he acknowledged, raising his arm in the Klingon salute. Then he was gone, disappeared into the dark interior of the great ship as the ramp began to rise. With a clang, the door shut and Chrissie could feel the vibrations in the ground as the engines began to thrum, rising in intensity as the ship prepared for take-off. Slowly, majestically, the bird-of-prey began to rise into the air until it was a few hundred metres above her. It hovered for a few moments, then the wings dipped gracefully into the cruising position. The ship circled once in a final salute, then shot skywards. Chrissie stood watching as the ship disappeared above the clouds. “Krang-oywI” she murmured, “Fight well.” Almost, she could hear his voice echoing on the breeze in answer. “Qapla’!”

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Klingon vocabulary Batleth

Klingon two handed sword of honour

Blood-wine

Klingon alcoholic drink, probably made with fermented blood.

Bregit

Klingon animal, its lungs are a delicacy

Cha’dich

Title, literally, “Second” – the person who stands at your back in a fight

D’k’tahg

Triple bladed knife, carried by most Klingons

Gagh

Serpent worms – a delicacy best eaten live.

Ghuy’cha

Klingon curse

Gre’thor

Klingon mythological equivalent of Hell

Ha’DibaH

insult, usually heard as Verengan Ha’DibaH – literally “Ferengi Dog”

Mek’leth

Klingon sword

Mev Qoh

Klingon endearment, used by the man to the woman.

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Mey

suffix attached to a word to make it plural, e.g. Ha’dibaHmey

Mok’bara

Klingon martial arts discipline, similar to Terran Tai Chi

Nuq NeH

Klingon greeting, literally, “What do you want?”

Oy

suffix attached to a man’s name as an endearment

PetaQ

insult

Pu

suffix attached to a word to make it plural, e.g. petaq’pu

Qapla

ritual greeting, means literally “Success”

QI’yaH

very strong curse

Qo’noS

the Klingon Kronos

Qut’luch

Klingon assassin’s knife

Qu’vatlh

curse used when very angry

Raktajino

Klingon coffee-like beverage, has become very popular in the Federation.

Sto-Vo-Kor

Klingon mythological equivalent of Heaven

Targ

Klingon pet, roughly resembling a Terran wild boar, its heart is a delicacy.

Terragnan

Klingon word for a human.

Warnog

Klingon ale

YIntagh

Klingon curse

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homeworld,

pronounced


Star Trek: Dominion

If you liked this fan-written novel then youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll enjoy the officially licensed eBooks now available. Checkout the following eBooks on Simon & Schuster website, www.simonsays.com â&#x20AC;Ś

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Star Trek: Destiny Gods of Night by David Mack Half a decade after the Dominion War and more than a year after the rise and fall of Praetor Shinzon, the galaxy's greatest scourge returns to wreak havoc upon the Federation -- and this time its goal is nothing less than total annihilation. Elsewhere, deep in the Gamma Quadrant, an ancient mystery is solved. One of Earth's first generation of starships, lost for centuries, has been found dead and empty on a desolate planet. But its discovery so far from home has raised disturbing questions, and the answers harken back to a struggle for survival that once tested a captain and her crew to the limits of their humanity. From that terrifying flashpoint begins an apocalyptic odyssey that will reach across time and space to reveal the past, define the future, and show three captains -- Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise, TM William Riker of the U.S.S. Titan, and Ezri Dax of the U.S.S Aventine -- that some destinies are inescapable.

Star Trek: Destiny Mere Mortals By David Mack On Earth, Federation President Nanietta Bacco gathers allies and adversaries to form a desperate last line of defense against an impending Borg invasion. In deep space, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Captain Ezri Dax join together to cut off the Collective's route to the Alpha Quadrant. Half a galaxy away, Captain William Riker and the crew of the Starship Titan have made contact with the reclusive Caeliar -survivors of a stellar cataclysm that, two hundred years ago, drove fissures through the structure of space and time, creating a loop of inevitability and consigning another captain and crew to a purgatory from which they could never escape. Now the supremely advanced Caeliar will brook no further intrusion upon their isolation, or against the sanctity of their Great Work....For the small, finite lives of mere mortals carry little weight in the calculations of gods. But even gods may come to understand that they underestimate humans at their peril.

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Star Trek: Dominion  

New alliances are formed as old enemies fight side by side against an enemy that threatens both the the Klingon Empire and the United Federa...

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