Star Trek: New Horizons Episode 2 (Families) by captaintigranian
Summary: Captain Tigranian must choose between his Klingon Family and his new crew when a coup breaks out against Chancellor Martok.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 8 Completed: Yes Word count: 17163 Read: 10444 Published: 14 Feb 2016 Updated: 03 Mar 2016

1. Chapter 1 by captaintigranian

2. Chapter 2 by captaintigranian

3. Chapter 3 by captaintigranian

4. Chapter 4 by captaintigranian

5. Chapter 5 by captaintigranian

6. Chapter 6 by captaintigranian

7. Chapter 7 by captaintigranian

8. Chapter 8 by captaintigranian

Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Historian’s Note: This story takes place approximately two weeks after the conclusion of the DS9 Episode “What You Leave Behind.” Its narrative runs concurrently with the J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lange novels, The Left Hand of Destiny: Book One and Book Two.

Other referenced works include The Klingon Art of War: Ancient Principles of Ruthless Honor, translated from the Original Klingon by Keith R.A. DeCandido.



Zarias Cluster: Federation Occupation Zone, Cardassian Space.

Stardate: 53108.5

Tigranian picked up the bottle of bloodwine from his shelf and poured himself another tankard. His quarters were quite unique: a combination of mementos, photographs from his friends and family, and on the wall across from the metal slab he called a bed, hung his most prized possession.

Torlek commissioned a master smith at the K’vel’kar foundry on Qo’nos to forge that bat’leth exactly to Tigranian’s specifications: polished baakonite folded a thousand times till it was as resilient as duranium, blades sharper than one of Alex’s laser scalpels, and handles wrapped in krencha skin for grip. The old warrior presented it to his adopted brother after Tigranian had served a full cycle on the Sk’oh. It must have cost more than most common Klingons made in a decade, but none of the other crew batted an eye. They knew that their beloved captain felt the human earned it…not just by honoring their ways, but by also by proving himself in battle.

Crossing back over to the slab, Tigranian laid down on his thick klongat fur, the only comfort he allowed himself while he slept, and returned to his book. He had first read the qeS’a’ in translation when he was ten years old. That edition, somewhat erroneously titled as “The Klingon Art of War,” by its Federation editor, had enraptured young Daniel so much, he immediately found an old candle, lit it, and completed his own version of the First Rite of Ascension…he even attempted the Klingon wording until his mother stopped the ritual, afraid he would burn the house down.

That day was when Daniel decided to become Klingon. qeS’a’ spoke to him, and made him realize that being a warrior wasn’t about his DNA, but about how he chose to live his life. He pushed himself to fluency in tlhIngan Hol.

The first time he was able to get through the entire ancient text in its original language, the mysteries contained within qeS’a’s volumes struck him with an even greater relevance. He had since read it dozens of times, but forced himself to re-read it every few months to keep its lessons fresh.

This particular copy, over a century old and bound in brown targ leather, was also a present from Torlek on the occasion of his official Ascension. Tigranian looked at the sharp letters etched into the yellowing parchment:

Dictum: The Arduous Path

Warriors must keep their feet on the road to strife. Honor can be found along the wayside, an honor borne of sacrifice. Beware the prize won easily. It is a stone hung around your neck, and it testifies only to the fact of its own irrelevance. Comfort summons indolence, inaction, and insignificance. To shrink from danger is to shrink from duty. But righteousness demands more than holding one’s ground. It calls the warrior to run into the whirlwind, for this is where glory dwells. Let struggle-never prudence, never what is merely reasonable-be your criterion, rigor your law.

He mediated on that for a second before his concentration was shaken by the sound of laughter coming through the bulkhead. He couldn’t help but roll his eyes a little. Annabeth must be having another, “Girls Night,” in her quarters.

Every few evenings, she gathered the females of the senior staff for what she termed, “bonding,” but as far as Tigranian could tell, was just an excuse to lounge around in sweat pants, drink wine, and watch bad tele-programs on the Starfleet Network feed. He didn’t really understand it, but it kept some of the key members of his crew happy, and that’s what mattered.

On the other side of the wall, Annabeth, Alex, Katie, and Laria were huddled around a glowing monitor. Annabeth lay on the couch with her arms wrapped around Alex. Katie, wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Starfleet Academy Fighting Phoenixes” in big gold letters, was sprawled in an arm chair with a bowl of popcorn and a ridiculously large wine glass. Laria sat cross-legged on the floor in front of Annabeth and Alex. She wore her favorite “Starfleet Science: From the Stars, Knowledge,” t-shirt and pair of flannel pajama bottoms. She had her arms wrapped around a stuffed plush Bajoran pugabeast resting in her lap.

On the screen, an enlisted Starfleet crewman walked down a corridor and into a starship’s engineering section.

“Hey, could you re-calibrate the dilithium chamber?” the ships’s chief engineer said before hurrying off to another task.

“Sure, Ma’am,” the chipper crewman said heading to the warp core.

“Hey, Lexa!” Another crewman said waving. “Did you enjoy playing Dom-jot last night?”

“Yeah, Tobey! It was fun,” the first crewman replied, not paying attention to what she was doing. She opened the access panel without engaging the containment field. A flash of blue light filled the compartment as both crewmen screamed in pain. The screen faded to black and the words, “Staying Safe is Staying Starfleet Strong,” appeared.

“God, I hate SFN commercials,” Katie muttered taking a sip from her glass. “They’re so stupid. This spring wine is amazing, Laria,” she said changing the subject. “It’s like a cross between kiwi and banana.”

“Thanks!” Laria answered cheerfully. “My dad makes it. He sends me a couple of bottles after the harvest each year.”

“Anyone mind if I change the channel?” Annabeth said from the couch.

“Go for it.”

“Computer, what’s on SFN: Movie?”

“The film “Against the Grain,” is currently playing. Forty seven minutes have elapsed.”

“Oh, I love that one,” Alex said. “Computer change channel to SFN: Movie.”

Suddenly the image of a confused twenty-something Lumerian girl appeared on the screen next to a muscular human male standing over a table saw.

“You’re an empath, aren’t you?” he said measuring a piece of lumber.

“Not a very good one,” she replied. “I can only sense those I’m comfortable with…”

“Well, can you sense what I’m feeling?”

“What is this movie about? I’ve never seen it.”

“That’s Una,” Alex said starting to explain. “She moves to New York to get her dream job at a fashion magazine. However, she’s already engaged to her father’s business partner’s son back on Lumeria. Against his wishes, she starts falling in love with her next door neighbor who runs a carpentry shop that restores old buildings.”

The screen changed to a shot of Una talking with a Vulcan in an office.

“Who’s the Vulcan?” Laria asked.

“That’s Mr. Suvek. He’s the editor of the fashion magazine.”

“Why would a Vulcan run a fashion magazine on Earth?” Laria asked confused.

“Laria,” Alex said with annoyance, “if you start pulling at the threads, the whole plot will fall apart. Just watch the movie.”

“I just don’t know what to do, Mr. Suvek,” Una said sitting next to him.

“Logic dictates…that you follow your heart.”

“Ugghhhh,” Katie said feigning disgust. “Really, Alex?”

“Don’t judge me.”

“Too late,” Katie said taking another sip of spring wine.

“You are such a woman,” Annabeth said kissing the top of Alex’s head.

“Yeah, but I’m your woman,” Alex said retreating deeper into Annabeth’s embrace.

“This movie does bring up an interesting epiphany though,” Katie began.

“And that is?” Annabeth asked.

“There is not a single man on this entire ship that I would consider dating.”

“What?” Alex said surprised.

“I thought you and Phil had something starting?” Annabeth chimed in hopefully.

“Oh no,” Katie said shoving a fistful of popcorn in her mouth. “First, you two wonder twins over there don’t get to lecture me on dateable men. Second, he’s a friend. That is all. He’s not terrible looking, but a man I can out deadlift is a serious turn off.” She looked down to the carpet. “What about you, Laria? Is there a guy onboard who warms up your warp core?”

“No, no…” Laria said shaking her head. However, her cheeks started to turn a slight shade of red.

“Wait a second,” Katie said leaning forward with a grin, “our little Bajoran’s lie detector is going off. There is someone onboard isn’t there?” Laria kept shaking her head. “It’s Lieutenant Mendez down in Engineering, isn’t it?”

“Ewww, Katie, No!” Laria exclaimed, “He has a tail.”

“Hey, don’t discount a guy just because he has a tail,” Alex said from behind her. “It’s the 24th century, after all.” Laria’s cheeks continued to grow brighter.

“Ok, then, who is it? C’mon it’s just us girls.” Katie refused to let up. With a trained eye, she kept watching Laria for signs of breaking. In a glance that would be imperceptible to anyone but a trained security chief, she saw Laria’s eyes glance over to the bulkhead.

“No!” Katie said almost gleefully, “THE CAPTAIN!?”

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Laria exclaimed while burying her face in the stuffed pugabeast’s fur. “He’s right on the other side of the bulkhead and he might hear you,” she said dropping to a whisper.

“Oh, he’s not gonna hear anything,” she said leaning back in her chair. “Funny, I never pegged you for someone who goes for older guys,” Katie said.

“He’s only thirty,” Laria said turning around and burying her face in the couch cushions this time. Annabeth leaned forward and reassuringly tussled Laria’s hair.

“Stop making fun of her. It’s completely normal to have crushes.” Laria calmed down and turned back towards the monitor.

“I’m not making fun of her,” Katie said taking another large sip of wine. “I think it’s cute. Plus, totally get the older guy thing. Lost my V-Card to a senior when I was a freshman at the Academy before I met Paul…” Katie paused when she said his name. She took another drink.

“Do you think you should slow down a little on that spring wine, Katie?” Alex asked a little concerned. Katie put the glass down on the table, but still kept talking.

“How about you, L?” Katie said turning back to Laria. “Who did you first give up the card to?”

“Is that a human expression I should be familiar with?”

“You know,” Katie said sitting up again. “The V-Card? Your first?” Somehow, Laria’s cheeks grew even redder. She awkwardly looked down, brushed the hair behind her earring, and gazed at the floor. Suddenly, Katie realized. “Oh, Honey…”

“I was always studying or working!” Laria said reaching for her own glass of wine on the coffee table. “Plus, the guys I knew never…warmed up the warp core, like you say.”

“That is perfectly fine,” Annabeth said flashing Katie a look.

“Yes, if you haven’t met the right guy yet…it is totally fine,” Katie said starting to slightly slur her words. “However, Ladies, we have a new mission,” Katie said moving to the floor next to Laria. She wrapped a supportive arm around the little Bajoran’s shoulder. “Can’t promise you the captain, but we’re gonna find a guy to get our baby sister laid!”

“We’ll get Laria laid later!” Alex said cutting in behind them. “Right now, let’s just watch the movie.” Everyone except Laria laughed.

On the other side of the bulkhead, Tigranian heard the laughter. He looked up from his book again before taking another sip of bloodwine.

“What could possibly be so funny?” he thought to himself. He didn’t think long before the intercom chimed.

“Captain, you have an incoming transmission from Klingon military headquarters on Ty’Gokor. A General Torlek wishes to speak with you. .” Tigranian immediately sprang toward his desk.

“Put it through to my quarters.” Tigranian knew that today was Martok’s formal installation as Chancellor of the High Council. It was a holiday throughout the entire Klingon Empire. Torlek probably wanted to chastise him for not being there with him to celebrate.

He keyed his terminal, and the battle hardened face of his old commander appeared. However, it was not the sly, grinning, and sometimes inebriated expression that he always expected on the face of his older brother and mentor. He immediately knew something terrible had happened.

“My brother, what is wrong?”

“You’re still very perceptive, Daniel,” he said before letting out a terrible sigh. “There has been a coup on Qo’nos. The Great Hall has been destroyed…”

Tigranian nearly collapsed. Though Qo’nos was no stranger to political upheaval, the Great Hall had never been touched in over five centuries of conflict. It was a sacred place for Klingons.

“Who would do this? Who stands against Martok: Hero of Cardassia Prime?”

“His name is Morjod: a petulant youth who speaks with the poisonous tongue of a Wam Serpant. Many have already fallen under his spell of lies and treachery.”

“Where is Martok making his stand against this traitor? Where do we gather our forces to the true Chancellor’s banner?” He had no doubt that his house, The House of Torlek, would ally with Martok. They had always stood with the legitimate government going back centuries. Torlek’s grandfather had even fought to install Chancellor Gorkon against the Romulan collaborators, the House of G’Iogh. Torlek and Tigranian themselves fought together against the House of Duras during the Klingon Civil War shortly after the young Starfleet officer arrived on the Sk’oh.

“I don’t know, Daniel…” The way he paused made Tigranian’s bold run cold. “The Chancellor is missing.”

“Missing?” Tigranian said in disbelief.

“It is no longer safe on Ty’Gokor. There are too many here who are corrupted by the words of this Morjod. I am taking my fleet to the Avenal System in the Klingon Zone of Occupation to determine our next step.”

Tigranian didn’t even hesistate.

“I will see you there in twelve hours.”

“Understood, Qapla’, my brother.”

“Qapla’,” Tigranian replied as the screen went blank. He immediately pressed the communicator lying on his desk. “Tigranian to bridge.”

“Lieutenant Hawkins here, Sir.”

“Set a course for the Avenal System, Mr. Hawkins. Maximum Warp.”
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
Eight Years Prior

Two light years from the Donatu System (Federation/Klingon Border)

Stardate: 44246.9

“Bridge to Transporter Room 2, The Klingon Bird of Prey, IKS Sk’oh, has just de-cloaked off the starboard bow. They’re signaling they’re ready to take Ensign Tigranian aboard. Is he prepped?”

A young ensign in a gold uniform took a deep breath and slung his Starfleet standard-issue duffel bag over his shoulder. He turned to the Transporter chief behind the console and nodded.

“Bridge, Transporter Room. He says he’s ready.”

“Acknowledged…but I highly doubt he’s as ready as he thinks,” the first officer replied. “Standby to transport.”

Tigranian stepped up on the transporter pad and turned around.

“You really chose this as your first assignment?”

“Yes, I’ve been dreaming about serving with Klingons a very long time.”

“Dreaming about serving with Klingons?” the chief said incredulously. “Ensigns…”

“What wrong with Klingons?”

“Look…Sir…I once served on a starbase where Klingon ships would dock for shore leave all the time. I don’t think you’ll be dreaming about serving with them for very long.”

“We’ll see, Chief,” Tigranian said trying to sound confident. The way the chief glanced back at him made him think it probably came off more as arrogance.

“May I offer you one piece of friendly advice, Sir?”

“Of course.”

“You look nervous…don’t look nervous.” A light started flashing on the console in front of him.“Energizing.”

Tigranian was instantly surrounded in sparkling light. As it changed from warm blue to tingling red, he knew that he had indeed stepped through the looking glass. As it dissipated, he found himself standing in a dimly lit metal chamber staring at a very large and very perturbed looking Klingon Warrior.

“I am Commander Kentok, first officer of the Imperial Klingon Ship, Sk’oh and you are a pathetic human infant that I am dishonored to be a nursemaid to until the captain sees fit to throw you out an airlock.”

Kentok began the conversation in Federation Basic, but Daniel looked him in the eyes and responded in Klingon.

“I am a Starfleet Officer.” A surprised expression crossed the commander’s face causing his braided beard to twitch. Slowly, he stepped towards Tigranian.

“You speak our language?” he replied keeping the conversation in tlhIngan Hol.

“Yes, Sir.”

“So you know our ways?”

“Yes, Sir!” Tigranian said proudly. Without warning Kentok slugged Tigranian in the stomach. He doubled over gasping for breath. Then, a leather clad fist caught his jaw, sending him tumbling down to the metal transporter pad.

“Then you should know better than to speak to a superior officer in such a tone!” All the young ensign could do was nod in reply. “Next time, I will not be so gentle. Follow me!”

He turned and headed out the doors. Tigranian picked up his duffel and stumbled after him as the enlisted transporter operator chuckled.

The first thing Daniel would always remember about Klingon ships…besides his lesson on tact from Commander Kentok…was the smell. He had always read about “the stink” of Klingon ships in accounts by Federation citizens, but the scent dancing under his nose right now could only be described as marvelous: an aromatic mixture of grease, sweat, and what seemed to be petroleum oil emanating from the deck plating itself. It reminded him of the ancient Earth warships he visited as museums in his childhood. This was not the sterile, filtered air of Federation starships…no, this ship was alive.

He followed his new first officer through the narrow, winding corridors illuminated only in dim red and yellow hue. Finally they stopped in front of a metal door which opened at Kentok’s command. He pointed inside.

“This is where you sleep, human. I hope it’s to your liking,” he said with a laugh. Tigranian stepped forward and looked inside. The compartment (no one raised in the Federation would even consider calling this a room) was less than two meters wide. It’s only fixtures were a bare metal bunk and one empty shelf. Tigranian threw his duffel bag inside.

“All moved in,” he thought to himself. He now knew better than to say that aloud in front of Kentok. “They are more than adequate, Sir.” Kentok narrowed his brow and growled.

“I’m so happy to be of service,” he said sarcastically. “We go now to the bridge!”

Minutes later, a pair of large metal doors parted and Tigranian set foot on the bridge of a Klingon warship for the very first time.

“Captain Torlek,” Kentok said pushing Daniel aside. “Your new Weapons Officer has finally arrived.”

“And what do you think of him?” the captain said still sitting in his chair with his back turned.

“It is worse than I feared. However, at least he speaks tlhIngan Hol. It seems you can indeed teach a grint hound to talk.”

The captain climbed to his feet. The intimidating metal spine armor along his back glinted underneath his long, knurled black mane. He slowly turned to face Tigranian, the eyes underneath his massive forehead crest burning a hole in the young ensign.

“I ask the High Command to send me a weapons officer…and they send me you. By the hand of Kahless, what have I done to deserve this dishonor!” Torlek roared toward the ceiling. He stepped out from behind his chair and walked forward, sizing Daniel up the entire time like a piece of meat. “I would be happier if you actually were a grint hound. At least they are ferocious and loyal! This pathetic creature that stands before me now in that child’s uniform is skinnier than a ramjep bird!”

Daniel stood motionless with his shoulders back. He knew that this was a test, but he still was panicking inside. “What if they don’t accept me? What if they don’t teach me their ways? Or, worse yet, what if they send me back to the Federation?”

“This…thing…standing on my bridge…has no name, has no house…and has no honor!”

Suddenly, Daniel heard a deep, guttural growl. After a moment, he realized it was coming from him.

“I may have no house, Sir,” he said spitting through his clenched teeth, “but my name is DANIEL, Son of Tigranian, and I have honor!”

Kentok drew his dk’tagh, but a raised hand from Torlek prevented him from running Daniel through right there on the bridge. The captain grinned at his new weapons officer, baring his yellow fangs.

“We shall see, Daniel, Son of Tigranian.”
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Avenal System: Klingon Occupation Zone, Cardassian Space.

Stardate: 53108.6

“Don’t do this to me, Dan!” Murphy screamed through the monitor on the desk in Tigranian’s ready room. “We’re too far along for you to go off on a side quest like it’s the damn middle ages! Paris can still the pull the plug and send the Pershing to mothballs.”

“Then let me take the Pershing to Qo’nos and end this now!”

“Dammit! Internal matter to the Klingon Empire? Starfleet cannot become involved in a Klingon Civil War? Sound familiar? Please tell me I didn’t pick a captain who needs refresher training on the Prime Directive…”

“I fought in a Klingon civil war before, Pete.”

“That was on a Klingon ship and you were wearing a Klingon uniform! Now, you’re in command of a starship. You can’t go off getting into fights based on your own personal beliefs.”

“After everything that Martok did to secure the safety of the Alpha Quadrant? After every battle he fought to prevent the Jem’Hadar from raising the Dominion Flag over the Golden Gate Bridge? The Federation is really willing to turn its back on him?” Tigranian said disdainfully.

“Klingon Chancellors come and go, Dan. Azetbur signed the Khitomer Accords, but we didn’t beat the war drums when she was assassinated…”

Tigranian laughed and then looked back at the monitor.

“When was the last time I took leave, Pete?” Tigranian asked cocking his head to the side. Admiral Murphy rubbed his eyes on the screen.

“If you want leave, go to Risa, go to Niagara Falls, go to the Hoobishan Baths on Trill, just don’t go to Qo’nos…”

“Is that a request or an order?”

“What does it need to be?”

“He brought me into his family, Pete. He made me Klingon…”

“I’m not even going to pretend to know what this means to you. I’m just gonna ask, point blank, is this worth your ship and your career?”

“It’s worth far more than my career, Pete. It’s worth my soul.”

“Now, he thinks he’s James T. Kirk…” Murphy knew there would be no stopping him. It was just a matter of how much he could limit the damage.

“God help you, Dan, because if this goes south, the Federation sure as hell won’t. However, let me make two things PERFECTLY understood: the Pershing doesn’t leave Cardassian Space, and you take off that uniform until you come back from ‘leave.’ Am I clear?”

“Crystal, Sir.”

“Murphy, out.” The screen went blank.

* * * *

“Bridge,” Laria said stepping inside the turbolift. Just before the doors closed, Katie stepped inside.

“Hey,” she said avoiding eye contact.

“Hey,” Laria replied quietly.

“Look,” Katie said crossing her arms in front of her. “I’m really sorry about last night. I know I probably got way too personal and awkward. Your business is your business.”

“Katie, it’s fine. It’s not like you announced it over the comm system. Plus, you had a lot to drink. Spring wine makes everyone act a little funny.”

“That’s not an excuse.”

“It’s ok. We all know what’s coming up soon.” She gently wrapped her arms around Katie and squeezed supportively. “Just let me decide when someone goes in my bedroom, ok?”

Katie chuckled.

“Ok…and thanks.”

“No problem. I’m your baby sister, apparently.”

The doors opened on the bridge and they took their stations. Annabeth was sitting in the captain’s chair tapping her fingers on the armrest. She hated being un-informed. When the doors to his ready room opened, she leaped up and walked straight to Tigranian.

“Alright, Sir,” she whispered in his ear. “What the hell is going on? I have entire crew wondering why they’re now in the Klingon Zone twenty light years from where our orders say we should be.”

“Patience, Annabeth,” Tigranian said grinning and sitting down in his chair. “Everything will be explained once our guests arrive.” Annabeth took a seat next to him. She leaned over. Despite her best efforts to maintain a whisper, she was sure the rest of the bridge crew could hear.

“With respect, Captain, I am the first officer of this ship. I am responsible for its safety and the safety of its crew, to include its commander. I need to know…what are we doing here?”

Suddenly, Tigranian froze as an old instinct kicked in. A slow smile crept across his face. “Do you trust me, Annabeth?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Good!” He turned his chair to the empty blackness on the viewscreen. “Ms. Stone, open hailing frequencies.”

“Sir?” Katie asked completely surprised. He glanced back at her. She started pressing buttons. “Hailing frequencies open, Sir.”

“Sir,” Laria said from the science station. “Sensors don’t show any ships within two light-years.” Tigranian ignored her. He started speaking in Klingon.

“You’re getting sloppy, my brother. I know you’re there.” The rest of the bridge crew froze when there was a response.

“Don’t count on it, mu’qaD. I just expected your senses to be dulled from living among non-Klingons for so long. Suk’Valt Strike Fleet, Disengage cloaking devices!”

The collision alarm sounded as the Vor’cha class attack cruiser, HoS, appeared less than fifty meters from their bow, its main disruptor canon pointed directly at them. Four more K’Tinga Class battle cruisers and eight more K’Vort class birds of prey materialized in every direction, their weapons all pointed at the Pershing. They were surrounded.

“Yellow Alert! Shields up!” Annabeth shouted jumping to her feet.

“No, it’s alright,” Tigranian said trying to calm them down. “They’re just trying to intimidate us.”

“It’s working, Sir,” Phil muttered from the helm.

“Bridge, Main Engineering, what the hell is going on up there?”

“Calm yourself, Mr. Scharr. They’re just saying ‘hello’ in their own way.”

“Forgive me, Captain, if I don’t exactly consider their way very polite.”

An alarm sounded at the tactical station.

“Sir, the attack cruiser is accessing our site-to-site transporter interlocks! They’re attempting to beam someone directly to the bridge. I’m trying to lock them out!”

“Katie, stop. Let them do it.”

“Sir!” Annabeth said showing genuine concern.

“I asked if you trusted me, Annabeth…” Tigranian said climbing to his feet.

A transporter beam engaged, and a Klingon in full armor appeared directly in front of him. Instantly, Tigranian and the Klingon both screamed and wrapped their arms around each other.

“It is good to see you again, Daniel.”

“You as well.”.

“We must act quickly, my old friend. Things have gotten much worse since we last spoke.” Tigranian nodded before turning to the rest of the bridge crew.

“Everyone, may I introduce General Torlek, commander of the Suk’Valt Strike Fleet, and my brother.”

Annabeth got up from her chair and walked toward them.

“Welcome Aboard, General,” she said not even trying to conceal her annoyance.

“It seems I’ve tried my crew’s patience long enough, General.” Tigranian tapped the communicator on his chest. “All senior staff to the ward room.”
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
Interstellar Space: Klingon Empire

Stardate: 44258.3

“Disruptors locked!” Tigranian said from the Sk’oh’s weapons station.

“Steady…Steady…” Torlek said slowly raising his right hand. The captain waited until his ship was in the perfect place for the kill. “BaH!” he said clenching his fist shut.

Tigranian let loose the full brunt of the bird of prey’s main canons. A brilliant orange explosion appeared directly off their bow.

“Second target bearing 280 Mark 3.5. Distance 780 kellicams.” Tigranian said refocusing the ships scopes.

“Ready photon torpedos.”

“Torpedos loaded, all warheads armed.”

“Helm adjust heading to 280 Mark 3.5”

“jIyaj,”the Sk’oh’s pilot said bringing the bow around.

“Torpedoes locked.”

“BaH!”

Tigranian fired two torpedoes. Both red spheres found the center of their mark and exploded.

“All targets destroyed! Qapla’!” Tigranian exclaimed in exaltation. The rest of the bridge crew chuckled.

“Calm down, Son of Tigranian,” Torlek said leaning back in his chair. “They were only practice drones. Save your celebration for an enemy that fires back.”

“The drill is complete. Stand down from alert status. Main shift, you are relieved until tomorrow morning,” Kentok said flashing Tigranian a sneer.

The bridge cleared except for Kentok and the captain.

“I must admit, his skills at the weapons station are growing rapidly,” Torlek said glancing over at his first officer. “You look like you wish to say something, Kentok. Don’t hold back.”

“He stands there in that Federation uniform pretending to be one of us. He says the words of a warrior, but he is not one. It makes a mockery of all that I stand for.”

“A true warrior respects another who tries to be more than he is, Kentok. You would do well to remember that.”

“Yes, Sir…” the first officer said stopping himself before he finished his thought. Torlek growled.

“But?”

“But, I hope you feel the same way about the human when we do face an enemy that fires back…”

Down in the Sk’oh’s mess hall, Tigranian picked up a large metal plate. Sliding down the food line, he grabbed a handful of wriggling racht, a side of zilm’kach, and a few taknar gizzards. After how the others reacted on the bridge, he wasn’t that hungry.

After dipping an empty tankard into the barrel of bloodwine, he took his seat at the end of the officer’s table. He poured some grapok sauce onto the still moving mass in front of him and started shoveling it into his face with his bare hands.

It still bothered him that the other Klingons gave him a wide berth. It bothered him even more that they talked about him like he wasn’t even there.

“I heard it was another glorious day for Daniel, Son of Tigranian, on the bridge. Is it true that he singlehandedly slew two target drones?” Vrox, the Sk’oh’s engineer said in a mocking tone.

“He did indeed,” K’vresh, the helmsman said chiming in. “He stood there, facing those ruthless machines like a legend of old. It made me proud to alter our course fifteen whole degrees so that he could obliterate them. I just hope that my unworthy accomplishments will be mentioned in the song that will be written about this day.” The Klingons at the end of the table snickered. Tigranian took a sip of bloodwine.

“If all the warriors of the Federation are as mighty as this Daniel…” Cholmek, the operations officer, said turning to look at Tigranian “…then perhaps we could learn a thing or two about battle from them!” At that comment, all of them burst out laughing.

Tigranian shot to his feet and hurled his plate into the wall with a tremendous crash. Racht flew everywhere and grapok sauce began dripping down the metal bulkhead. The entire mess hall fell silent. In the awkward silence, a Pheben jeghpu’wI steward appeared from behind a partition and began silently cleaning up the mess with a bucket and rag.

Before anyone could say anything, Tigranian stormed out in a rage.

Vrox reached down to his own plate and grabbed a handful of stewed bok-rat liver.

“Temperamental creatures those humans are…” he said calmly shoving the food into his mouth.

Tigranian stormed into the Sk’oh’s sparring room and grabbed a bat’eth off the wall. With a deep breath he began spinning it around his head at incredible speed. He became so engrossed in his form, he didn’t even hear the door open behind him. As he spun around to deliver a killing blow to an imagined enemy behind him, he was shocked when an actual bat’leth stopped his blade.

“Defend yourself!” Torlek snarled.

Tigranian slashed at his head, but the older Klingon easily parried blow after blow. Tigranian stepped back, spun the blade in front of him, and then leaped forward again. Torlek actually had to exert himself to stop this attack, and Daniel pressed on. The two fought back and forth for another minute, blades clanging in the darkness until finally Torlek managed to stop the reign of blows. Tigranian breathed heavily, completely tensed by rage.

“Your swordsmanship…much like your skills on the bridge, continues to grow everyday…” Suddenly, Torlek twisted his wrists and sent Daniel’s bat’leth skittering across the floor. He stepped forward and placed his blade at the human’s throat. Its gentle kiss drew a drop of blood from Tigranian’s neck. “…but anger is only the beginning of strength. It can never be the end.” He dropped his sword to his side and looked Daniel in the eyes. “What troubles you?”

“Nothing that is your concern, Sir,” Tigranian replied.

“EVERYTHING on this ship is my concern,” Torlek roared.

Daniel paused before he spoke.

“They will never accept me, will they?”

“You have only been onboard for a month…give it time.”

“I do know something that might speed up the process.”

“Really, and that is?”

“Grant me Ascension, Sir!”

“Ascension?” Torlek huffed. “You think you are worthy of Ascension? That honor is something that even many Klingons cannot achieve. Besides, you are human. It would probably kill you.”

“Don’t you think that should be my decision, Sir?”

“No, I do not!” he said angrily. “I will not let you die chasing some foolish childhood dream.”

“My only dream is to be what you are, Sir.”

A sound halfway between a sigh and a growl escaped Torlek’s throat.

“I will teach you the skills of a warrior, Daniel. I will even teach you our ways…but I cannot make you what we are.” He turned away.

“Why not?”

“Because you are not Klingon!” he said spinning back around. “You were born what you are, and that is not your fault…but that is your fate.”

Tigranian didn’t break Torlek’s gaze.

“Did Kortar the Mighty accept that it was his fate to live as a slave when he decided to climb the qo’sor?”

“No, but he did suffer greatly for it.”

“I never said I wasn’t willing to suffer, Sir.”

“A bold statement… from a bold heart.” Torlek said trying to sound as comforting as he possibly could. “However, my decision stands.”

Tigranian’s shoulders dropped.

“We have received new orders,” Torlek continued. “Three Klingon freighters have been attacked and plundered by Kreel pirates in the last month. Imperial Intelligence believes they have located their base of operations on a small planetoid on the edge of the Kavrot Expanse. In twelve hours, we will arrive to dispense justice in the name of the Empire.

We go into battle in the morning. Therefore, tonight is a night for wine and song. We do not know how many fine warriors will cross the River of Blood tomorrow, and I will not have my weapons officer hiding in the shadows sulking like a whipped grishnar cat. Am I understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” Tigranian said holding back his disappointment and anger. Torlek headed for the doors.

“Sir, if I die tomorrow, will I too cross the River of Blood to Sto’Vo’Kor, or am I doomed to pitiful mediocrity in the next life as well as this one?” Tigranian asked in a tone dangerously close to disdain.

Torlek looked back once more.

“What does your bold heart say?”

“It tells me that if there is any way a human can enter the gates of paradise to sit at Kahless’ table…I will find it.”

“If that is indeed possible for a human…I am starting to believe that you will.”
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Avenal System: Klingon Occupation Zone, Cardassian Space.

Stardate: 53108.6

“So this Morjod really thinks he can depose one of the most popular leaders in Klingon history?” Phil asked skeptically.

“Worse,” Torlek said somberly. “He knows he is starting to succeed. He’s even crowned himself emperor. The people fall under his spell like some kind of demonic magic. Many wish to return to the power and glory of the old days, but few possess the discipline to keep their honor in the face of the blood rage. Barbarous things once thought extinct return from the darkness and people cheer in madness.” He signaled to Tigranian who began playing a recording on the ward room’s holoscreen. “This was broadcast live on the Klingon information net this morning.”

“Footage of an execution, only by the hand of Kahless, it remained an attempted execution.” A huge square was packed with people, an improvised wooden stage erected in the middle of the crowd. Masses cheered in deranged howls. In the center of the stage, there was a strange contraption that appeared to be four massive posts bent towards a wooden bench. A victim would be strapped to the bench and their limbs attached to the posts. When the signal was given, the posts would snap straight, ripping the victim’s limbs from their torso.

“What is that thing?” Alex asked horrified.

“It’s called a cha’ta’rok.” Torlek said without looking away from the screen.

“Klingons view it with the same fond memory as humans see the guillotine,” Tigranian clarified.

“Is that the Imperial Plaza in the First City?” Tigranian asked in shock.

“It is,” Torlek said with a hint of shame.

Two figures were led out towards the platform. A woman was strapped down to the horrific device while a man was forced to kneel at her feet to watch.

“Lady Sirella!” Tigranian said watching the continuing decent into madness.

“And that’s Martok…” Annabeth said glancing down at the figure at the poor woman’s feet.

“Chancellor Martok, Commander,” Torlek said correcting her.

The boy tyrant, Morjod, strutted around the platform as if he was already invincible. A woman in a cloak behind him simultaneously encouraged his strutting while also taking the opportunity to ridicule the Chancellor, still stoically kneeling at his lady’s feet.

“Freeze, and enhance grid C-07.” Torlek said. The computer zoomed on the face of the woman.

“She seems to be pulling the strings, even with Morjod,” Mr. Scharr said.

“I think it’s far more than that, Mr. Scharr.” Tigranian said leaning forward. “Look at her crest and the crest of the traitor…they are the same.”

“What does that mean?” Katie asked.

“It’s means they’re related. Very closely related,” Laria answered her.

“Impressive, Lieutenant,” Torlek said turning to Laria. “We believe they are mother and son. The search of the facial database revealed her name as Gothmara, Daugther of Kultan…”

“Kultan died in disgrace if I remember correctly,” Tigranian said. “Something about covering up illegal biogenic experiments…”

“Yes, biogenic experiments conducted by his daughter. She disappeared when their ship was destroyed under mysterious circumstances….a ship that a young, Klingon lieutenant named Martok served on,” Torlek said.

“You mean, Chancellor Martok, General.” Annabeth interjected. He growled, but also grinned at her cheek. “The plot thickens…”

“You have not seen anything yet. Computer, continue playback.”

Suddenly, all Gre’thor broke loose. A hooded figure dove from the crowd and began cutting the Lady Sirella’s restraints. Martok climbed to his feet and grabbed a bat’leth, before Morjod thrust a mek’leth into the hooded figure’s chest. An armor plate kept the figure alive, but the figure was revealed to be Ferengi. Just as it looked as if the execution would proceed without interruption. A dozen red transporter signatures materialized around the Chancellor and Sirella. Two of them were instantly recognizable as Worf, Son of Mogh, Federation Ambassador to Qo’nos, and Drex, Son of Martok. A bird of prey with the name, “Rotarran” hovered above them.

A mighty battle erupted as Morjod’s guards were cut down by the troops loyal to Martok. The Chancellor himself grabbed a bat’leth and began slashing at the guards when suddenly half a dozen creatures, at least three meters tall appeared from the catacombs beneath the Imperial Palace. Ostensible loyal to Morjod and Gothmara, they begin killing whatever stood in their way: friend or foe. They were obviously sub-intelligent, barely able to use the weapons in their massive claws, but they were lethal none the less. They roared with terrible fangs and beady, black eyes. Just as Martok moved to slay Morjod, another hooded figure grabbed him, and the crowd of loyal heroes beamed away, the bird of prey streaking back towards orbit. The transmission ended.

“What the hell is going on in the Klingon Empire?” Alex asked in disbelief.

“I wish I could say for certain, Doctor,” Torlek said with genuine anger in his voice, “All I know is that it is treacherous.”

“Do we know where Ambassador Worf took the Chancellor and Lady Sirella?” Tigranian asked hopefully.

“No, my brother,” they have disappeared again as quickly as they were found.

“What were those animals?” Katie said turning to her captain and the general. “They seemed to be dreaded by every Klingon there.”

“Hur’q…” Laria said matter-of-factly. Everyone at the ward room table turned to her in shock. She met their gazes with her own. “A race of aliens who invaded Qo’nos four hundred years after Kahless. They plundered the planet and then disappeared after the ancient Klingons finally fought them off. However, by that time, they had completely decimated the planet. Klingons took the remains of their technology and used it to develop space flight.”

“Even more impressive, Lieutenant,” Torlek said with a grin.

“Am I the only one who payed attention in Professor Salome’s History of Alien Races class?” she said climbing out of her chair.

“Apparently so,” Scharr said flatly. Laria rolled her eyes as she walked toward the computer terminal next to the holoscreen.

“Until this terrible calamity began,” Torlek added, “everyone in the Alpha and Beta Quadrant’s thought the Hur’q to be extinct.”

“I think they still are, General…” Laria said punching a few keys.

“But we just saw them on the screen in front of us, Laria?” Phil said confused.

“And that’s why science is about paying attention to details…”

“I like the little Bajoran one, Daniel,” Torlek said leaning next to his ear. “She has spirit.” Tigranian had to smile to keep from laughing.

“What are you thinking, L?” Tigranian asked her. She was too lost in her train of thought to acknowledge anyone else yet.

“Computer,” Laria said. “Access Federation Archeological Database. Display sample of known Hur’q DNA from the excavation site on Keldis II. ” A double helix appeared on the monitor. “Alex, could you use the medical computer to display a postulated image of the species with this DNA structure?”

“Sure, just give me a few minutes,” Alex said joining Laria at the monitor. As Alex worked, Laria turned back towards the group at the table.

“The Hur’q were an advanced, warp-capable race that spread their influence across at least three known quadrants of space. Whatever those animals were on the screen, they had to use the entirety of their cognitive function just figuring out to use a disruptor rifle.”

“Got it,” Alex said. A bipedal creature appeared on the holoscreen, it shared the fur and eyes of the demonic things in the plaza, but that’s where the similarities ended. The actual Hur’q was a full meter shorter and at least hundred kilos lighter.

“Those things were genetically engineered using Hur’q DNA as a starting point, but they aren’t Hur’q,” Laria said returning to her seat with Alex.

“No, instead they were created to be the nightmare that every single Klingon child was raised to fear,” Torlek said.

“The perfect shock troops for someone who wishes to rule by terror and intimidation. All the more reason to stop him,” Tigranian said clenching his fists.

“It’s not that far of a stretch from biogenic experimentation to full genetic engineering. It looks like the daughter of Kultan is up to her old tricks again,” Annabeth said.

“It would take some pretty substantial resources to create that many full size creatures from spliced DNA…” Alex said shaking her head. “…most notably, an absolutely tremendous supply of biomimetic gel. We’re talking hundreds, maybe thousands, of liters.”

“That stuff is tightly controlled in the Federation,” Katie said.

“In the Klingon Empire as well. She could not acquire that much without being noticed.”

“Then she must be getting it from outside the empire,” Laria concluded.

“The Lissepians…” Scharr said. “They’re the only ones that could provide that much gel no questions asked. Since the end of the war, they could haul it straight across Cardassia to the Klingon Empire without any border guards or customs agents interfering.”

“The Lissepians must be providing it, but they’re cash and carry on something that hot. They wouldn’t risk getting caught by anyone…its bad for business. There’s something more going on here,” Tigranian said thinking aloud. “If we could cut off her supplies of biomimetic compounds, it could prove a very damaging blow to Morjod’s forces.

Computer, how many star systems are along the most direct route between Lissepian space and the Klingon Empire through Cardassian territory?”

“There are four star systems located along that specified route.”

“That’s where we should begin, Brother,” Tigranian said turning to Torlek.

“You will take command of the battlecruiser ghargh and begin checking those systems. I will take the rest of the Suk’Valt back to Klingon Space and begin engaging forces loyal to Morjod. We’re running out of time and must distract them from their search for the Chancellor.”

“What happened to Captain Yaghnetza?” Tigranian asked.

“Before we left Ty’Gokor, the head of her house declared his fealty to Morjod. Rather than betray me, she came to my quarters and asked for Mauk-to’Vor. She now sails with the Black Fleet, but still has her honor.”

“You killed her?” Phil asked in disbelief. “One of your own commanders?”

“Don’t try to apply Federation values to it,” Phil. “It was the right thing to do,” Tigranian replied calmly.

“I’m sorry,” Laria said raising up her hand. “Was I the only one who heard the phrase, ‘take command of the battlecruiser?”

“You don’t miss a thing to you, Laria?” Tigranian said with a grin.

“It’s a good question, Sir,” Annabeth said concerned.

“You and the Pershing can’t come along, Annabeth.” Tigranian said. “The Federation refuses to get involved and won’t let anyone from Starfleet get involved either.”

“Excuse me, Sir, but aren’t you a Starfleet officer?”

Tigranian gently removed the comm badge from his uniform and placed it on the table.

“Not right now…” He looked towards the ceiling. “Computer, this is Captain Daniel Tigranian. Effective 1750 hours, Commander Annabeth Geist assumes command of U.S.S. Pershing, NCC-19860. Transfer all command codes, authorization, Tigranian Omega 3-6 Tango.”

“Authorization accepted. All command codes transferred.”

The entire table sat in stunned silence. Torlek climbed to his feet.

“I am returning to the HoS. I will signal the ghargh to prepare for your arrival.” Tigranian stood to meet him. They locked hands.

“If we do not meet again in this life, then in Sto’Vo’Kor, my brother.”

“Qapla’” they uttered simultaneously. Torlek headed for the transporter room.

Tigranian looked around the table. He made eye contact with each speechless individual before following.

* * * *

Tigranian stepped off the bridge and into the turbolift.

“Deck Two.” As the doors closed, a hand reached inside and forced them open, nearly knocking the sliding portal off its tracks. Annabeth stepped inside and allowed the lift to close.

“You’re mad aren’t you?” Tigranian asked not turning his head. The turbolift didn’t make it more than ten centimeters.

“Hold!” Annabeth screamed bringing the car to a screeching halt. “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!”

“Yup…you’re mad.”

“You’re god damn right I’m mad! After all the work we did to get this ship spaceborne, you just walk away like it’s all meaningless.”

“Resume,” Tigranian said calmly. “That cannot be further from the truth, Annabeth, and you know it.” The lift made it almost a whole meter this time.

“Hold! The tell me why you just let a foreign military leader waltz onto the bridge of the Federation’s most advanced vessel, used Federation resources to fight a coup directly contravening the Prime Directive we all swore to uphold, and then turned over command of the ship to me without so much as asking me first?”

“I really don’t have time for this, Annabeth. Every second we let Morjod grow stronger could be another week before I return. Resume.”

“Hold!! Computer, lock Turbolift Alpha, command authorization, Geist Whiskey 8-2 Bravo!”

“Command Authorization accepted. Captain’s override required to reactivate turbolift.”

“Touche…Captain.”

“Shut up, Dan! I’m not the captain. You are! Or have you forgotten about your responsibility to this crew because a Klingon from a past life tells you to pick up a bat’leth?”

“No,” Tigranian said looking away, trying to keep his voice calm.

“Oh, you look upset, Sir! I guess we should be careful because the way you were talking to Phil in there, you might send us all to the ‘Black Fleet’ as well!”

Tigranian slowly turned to her.

“I haven’t forgotten about this crew at all, Annabeth. In fact, I left them in the care of the person on this ship I trust the most…” It was Annabeth’s turn to look away. “…and Torlek is by no means from a past life. He’s my family and needs my help. I seem to remember a certain commander telling me a little over a month ago about how she corrected her mistake of choosing career over someone she loved…”

“That’s a low blow, Dan…”

“So were all of yours.”

“How long will you be gone?”

“Could be a long time…possibly the longest time.” She had seen Torlek’s reports on the size of Morjod’s fleet and knew what he meant.

“Tell me, Sir, if it does come to that, would like us to honor you with a Federation or Klingon memorial service?” she said, her voice dripping with scorn. “I thought I had performed enough of them for friends during the war, but what’s one more for old time’s sake?”

“Klingons don’t have memorial services, Annabeth,” Tigranian replied. “They honor their dead with celebration because they know they gave their life for something they believed in.”

“Computer, unlock Turbolift Alpha and resume, authorization, Geist Whiskey 8-2 Bravo.”

“Authorization accepted. Turbolift unlocked.” They started moving again.

“Then, you better make damn sure you believe in it, Daniel. Because I don’t…” The lift reached Deck Two and the doors opened. Annabeth stormed out leaving Tigranian alone.

* * * *

Tigranian finished buckling his wide belt over his dk’tagh sheath’s chain and adjusted the disruptor holster on his left hip. He then reached for his leather gauntlets and slid them over his wrists. Walking over to his mirror, he checked the fit of his grey and black armor. Too tight, it would restrict movement during a fight, too loose and it would provide no protection. The rank bars on his right chest caught his eye. It was the first time he ever wore the rank of HoD…Captain…while in full battle armor.

Finally, he reached for two silver badges on the table: the first was the tIq ghob, or Heart of Virtue: tri-foil symbol of the Empire and the Defense Forces. He attached it proudly to his right arm. Next, came something even more special. It was a simple sterling badge, about ten centimeters across, composed of two downward facing talons superimposed on each other. That one, earned with pain, blood, and battle went onto his left arm.

His door chimed.

“Come in,” he said with a sigh, fully expecting another angry crew member to lambast him with accusations of abandonment. The doors parted and Laria stepped inside.

“Wow…” she uttered quietly, first glimpsing his new outfit.

“If you’re coming to convince me not to go, save your breath, Lieutenant,” he said not looking away from the mirror. “I’ve already gotten an earful from Commander Geist, Doctor Hunter, and Lieutenant Lexington. Mr. Scharr said I deserved the Klingons because I was just as heartless as they were. I suppose that’s fondness in a cold, Andorian way.”

“I’m not here to convince you to stay…in fact, I’m here to say that I’m glad you’re going…”

“And I thought Mr. Scharr was cruel in his goodbye.”

“No, no, Sir, that’s not what I meant.” Laria said a little flustered. “I am actually glad you’re going.” This piqued Tigranian’s interest.

“Really?” he said surprised.

“When I was growing up,” Laria began somewhat nervously, “my parents followed the Prophets very devoutly. I never understood it at the time. In fact, it made me angry. I wasn’t even sure if they were real, and if they were, why would they abandon Bajor to the Cardassians? I even stopped wearing this for awhile,” she said stroking her earring. “But after I got to the Academy, I had never felt so alone like I did Plebe Year. Even though I was a Federation citizen, I still felt like an outsider that didn’t belong. That’s when I truly found the Prophets. They were of me, just as they were of Bajor. They gave me strength to complete my journey. I am Bajoran first, but still can be a Starfleet officer.”

Tigranian gently nodded in understanding.

“If you feel like your responsibilities to your Klingon family are this important, you have to go fight for them.”

“Thank you, Laria.”

“That symbol on your arm,” she said pointing to the talons. “I’ve never seen it before. What does it mean?”

“It’s the symbol of the House of Torlek, my house.”

“Well, may the Prophets guide you and your house.” Before he could say anything in reply, she turned and disappeared out the door.

Tigranian stepped over to his bed and picked up a worn Starfleet issue duffel bag. He then grabbed his bat’leth from the wall and headed down the corridor.

When he stepped into the transporter room, he stopped in surprise. The entire senior staff, including Annabeth, was standing there. Scharr himself was at the controls.

“We couldn’t let you go without saying goodbye, Sir,” Katie said. You’re still a part of this family too.” Tigranian smiled as he climbed onto the transporter pad.

“Sir!” Annabeth called out to him.

“Yes, Number One?”

“You look ready,” she said with a grin. “Qapla’”

“Qapla’, to you all. Energize.”
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
Kavrot Expanse: Klingon Frontier

Stardate: 44258.4

“Sir, sensors detecting two Kreel cruisers in orbit of the planetoid.”

“Have they scanned us?” Torlek asked Cholmek.

“Negative, Sir, they have not penetrated the cloak. Also, their warp drives match the signatures detected at the sites of the freighter attacks.”

“Alert Status One, All hands to battlestations,” Torlek announced. A klaxon sounded throughout the ship. All hands prepared themselves for action. Tigranian steadied himself behind the weapons console.

“Weapons status?” Kentok said from beside the captain.

“Torpedo bays loaded. Disruptors charged and ready.”

“Sir!” Cholmek said suddenly. “I am detecting the presence of System-5 Disruptor Arrays on both ships. Our shields are vulnerable.”

“Baktag!” Torlek said slamming his hand on his chair. “Where did they get that kind of weaponry?” He knew that it was possible to fight these marauders, but with great risk to their ship.

“Sir,” Kentok said to Torlek quietly, “Perhaps it would be wiser to call in additional forces based on this new information. The attack cruiser, Kazada, is only two days away. With her weapons, this fight would be much more evenly matched.”

“Kahless himself did say, ‘The wind does not respect a fool,” Torlek begrudgingly admitted.

“But did Kahless not also say, ‘Battle delayed is battle lost?” Tigranian said from behind him. ‘Warriors must kill the snakes that lie in wait. These are the tasks left unfinished, the challenges left unmet. Ignored, they grow…”

“Silence, human!” Kentok screamed loud enough to shake the bulkheads.

“It is you who will be silent, Kentok!” Torlek said turning towards his first officer. “He may be human, but he speaks truth! If we wait we may be detected, they might call in reinforcements, or worse, they may flee and get away. We know these are the criminals we were ordered to slay, and honor demands that we complete our mission.”

“As you wish, Sir,” Kentok said glancing at Tigranian, holding back the desire to kill him with all his discipline.

“However, Son of Tigranian,” Torlek said crossing to the weapons station. “A single shot from one of those disruptors could cripple us. We need a better plan than a simple frontal assault.”

“I might have one, Sir.” Tigranian said confidently. “I know these kinds of disruptors from my studies at the Academy. They’re Cardassian, probably taken from a surplus planetary defense system. They were designed to be hard-wired directly into a planetary power grid, never mounted on a cruiser like this. They must be using some kind of high-energy conduit to re-direct energy from their warp cores to the disruptor emitter. If I can place a torpedo here,” he said pointing to a silhouette of the ship on his tactical display, “it should be enough energy to overload the conduit and burn-out their power grids.”

“You would only have time to fire two torpedoes before they could fire on us, and there’s two of those ships. You would have to hit both targets on your first attempt!” K’vresh said dubiously.

“A gunner would have to be very confident in his abilities to attempt such a feat,” Torlek said leaning forward.

“A gunner would not suggest a plan if he were not, Sir,” Tigranian flatly responded. A grin slowly crept across the old Klingon’s face.

“Prepare to de-cloak!” Torlek said moving back to his chair. “Helm, attack course at the weapon officer’s guidance.”

“K’vresh, I’m sending you the coordinates between the two Kreel ships that will give us the best firing angle. Set course, 267 Mark 5.”

“Understood…” he replied skeptically. He fully expected to meet Kahless that night with Tigranian’s plan.

“De-cloak when ready. You’ll have three seconds before you can fire,” Torlek told Daniel.

“The Kreel will remember those three seconds dearly, Sir,” he replied still inputting information into his targeting computer.

“We are set at coordinates,” K’vresh announced. The entire bridge crew with the exception of Daniel and the captain readied themselves for the afterlife. Tigranian began a countdown.

“Decloak in five, four, three, two, one…”

The Kreel were shocked when a Klingon Bird of Prey appeared out of empty space directly between them. They attempted turning to fire, but it was already too late. The Sk’oh fired two torpedoes. The glowing red spheres flew through space, arced directly underneath the pirate ships, and detonated in a brilliant flash of light.

“Reading massive power fluctuations in the Kreel ships!” Cholmek called from the operations station. Both of their primary disruptors are offline. The port ship’s shields are down to twenty percent, starboard ship’s shields are disabled!” A roar erupted from the entire bridge crew.

“Now would be an appropriate time for celebration, Daniel!” Torlek screamed from his chair. “You did it you filthy, human, Ha’DI bah! Lock disruptors on the starboard Kreel ship and fire!”

Tigranian obliged. He fired a full burst from the Sk’oh’s wingtips and the Kreel vessel exploded into space garbage.

“Come about! Lock weapons on the second ship.”

K’vresh turned the bow of the Sk’oh one hundred eighty degrees in a little more than a second. Tigranian fired the disruptors again, dropping their shields to nothing. He then finished them off with another spread of torpedoes before Torlek even had to command it.

“Qapla’!” Tigranian screamed with the same blood lust as the rest of the bridge crew. No one laughed this time. He even swore he saw a smile creep across Kentok’s face.

“The second ship is destroyed, Sir,” Cholmek said, “but I’m detecting several transporter signatures on the surface of the planet. The crew beamed down to the surface.

“We will not let our prey escape that easily!” Torlek said climbing to his feet. “Assemble a landing party. Commander Kentok, Lieutenant Cholmek you are with me, Lieutenant K’vresh, you have the bridge.”

As Torlek, Kentok, and Cholmek moved towards the doors, Tigranian crossed to them.

“Sir, permission to join the landing party.” Kentok’s smile returned to his usual scowl.

“No, Daniel, you have proven yourself enough for today. We will dispatch these honorless petaQpu’ in a matter of moments,” Torlek said patting him on the shoulder.

“Sir…please,” Tigranian said even more emphatically. Before Kentok could deal with him, Torlek grabbed the ensign’s wrist and pulled him aside.

“I don’t know why, but I like you, Son of Tigranian. But there is a limit to how much I am willing to indulge your human outbursts. Once I give a command on my bridge, I expect it followed…or I will have to kill you. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Now, return to your station.

“Yes, Sir.” The rest of the bridge crew headed for the transporter room to join the landing party. Tigranian was left alone with K’vresh.

“You were doing so well, human, and then you failed miserably. Perhaps, you don’t understand us after all,” K’vresh said without looking up from his console. Tigranian gripped the sides of the weapons station until his knuckles turned white.

On the surface, Torlek, Kentok, and the rest of the landing party materialized in the middle of a Kreel camp. Dilapidated shanties and half full cargo containers littered a clearing at the edge of a forest. The whole area was eerily quiet.

“Fan out, search for them!” Torlek said raising a bat’leth. Kentok nodded and pulled a disruptor from his belt.

“2nd Squad, come with me. Cholmek, take 3rd Squad and search to the west. 1st. Squad, stay with the Captain.”

The Klingons fanned out in every direction, searching for any sign of life. Torlek approached a hovel and kicked in the rotting, wooden door. It shattered into splinters at the kick of his boot. He stepped inside, a half-eaten meal still sat on the table. He poked at the scraps of meat and crusts of bread with the edge of his sword.

“Somebody was here just a few minutes ago…where could they have all gone?” He returned outside. Kentok, Cholmek, and the other two squads returned.

“I can smell them, Sir,” Kentok said sniffing the air. “But they seem to have vanished.”

“Baktag!” Torlek shouted again. “I will not be outsmarted by a bunch of filthy, space thieves who live by stealing from honorable…”

Torlek’s words were cut short by a disruptor blast. It sliced into Commander Kentok’s shoulder, sending him crashing to the ground. Weapons fire erupted from every direction. Seven other bekks around them were cut down. They were trapped in the middle of an ambush, and there was nowhere to run…

In orbit, Tigranian cursed as he saw the sensor feed.

“Where are they coming from?” K’vresh shouted.

“The ground is full of dolemite,” Daniel said. It blocks our sensors. There are probably tunnels and bunkers hidden over that entire encampment! They’ve activated some kind of jamming signal. We can beam down, but I can’t get a lock to beam them back up! They’re trapped…” He watched in horror as several dozen Kreel lifesigns appeared around the entire landing party. Sensors indicated that they were all heavily armed. Most of the Sk’oh’s soldiers and bridge crew were about to annihilated right in front of his eyes.

Tigranian immediately turned to leave the bridge.

“Where are you going?” K’vresh screamed at Tigranian.

“To fight at my captain’s side.”

“He ordered you to stay here!”

“Things have changed…” Tigranian didn’t stop moving.

“I AM IN COMMAND AND I SAY STOP WHERE YOU ARE!”

Daniel slowly turned back around to face the lieutenant. He was holding a disruptor pointed directly at him.

“Are you really going to stop me from trying to help the captain?”

“What help could you give, human?” K’vresh said angrily. “The last thing he commanded was for you to stay off that planet and I will not fail in my duty to see that it stays that way.”

Tigranian slowly stepped toward K’vresh.

“I know what you think of me, and I don’t care. If my choices are to stay here and watch like a BiHnuch while my captain fights for his life, or have you shoot in me in the back while I try to help him, the right decision seems very simple to me.” Tigranian turned his back on K’vresh and walked away. He half expected to be turned into a cloud of ionized vapor after his first step, but somehow, he made it to the doors and walked off the bridge.

Back on the surface, the battle did not go well. Ten more brave warriors had joined the Black Fleet in the last five minutes. Though the Klingons had made the enemy pay dearly, twenty more Kreel continued to fight hand and hand from every direction. All that was left, were the three officers and one five man squad.

Torlek turned to Cholmek. “Fall back to those cargo containers to regroup! I will cover you and then carry Commander Kentok!”

“Sir, no! You’ll be cut to pieces,” Cholmek exclaimed. Torlek reached over and held his bat’leth to Cholmek’s throat.

“I said go…” Cholmek nodded and retreated back with the other warriors. Torlek drew his disruptor and fired wildly at the Kreel as fast he could push the trigger. Four pirates fell to the ground during the barrage, but the rest managed to dive behind cover before the weapons’s power cell emptied.

With the enemy momentarily suppressed, Torlek grabbed Kentok, threw him over his shoulders, and started moving back himself. Kentok whispered through his pain.

“Leave me! I’m bound for Sto’Vo’Kor this day…”

“No, my old friend, Today is not your day to die!” Just as he finished his words, he felt a massive impact to his knee. He dropped to the ground. Kentok went one direction and Torlek’s bat’leth went the other. He managed to turn around in time to see a Kreel towering over him with a battle-ax raised over his head. Time slowed down, and a quiet disappointment passed over the captain. This was how he would meet his end: on his knees at the ends of an honor-less thief in terrible defeat. It would be many years before his house would recover from his shame…Torlek closed his eyes and waited for death. Then he sensed a transporter beam rematerialize someone directly next to him.

A bat’leth stabbed into the Kreel’s chest before its wielder slashed sideways and cut off the petaQ’s head.

“HoD peQan!” The Son of Tigranian screamed back toward the other Klingons. He stood over Torlek, placing himself between the captain and the other pirates long enough for Torlek to shake off the amazement of his rescue and pick-up his own sword.

Once he knew his captain was safe, Tigranian charged straight into the Kreel, swinging his bat’leth with the fury of a Tarkazian Razor-beast. The words of qeS’a’s Fourth Dictum ringing through his ears…. “It calls the warrior to run into the whirlwind, for this is where glory dwells.” Kreel shrieked in agony as bellies were slashed and limbs went flying. Torlek screamed to Cholmek who was already leading the rest of the squad forward:

“Attack! The Son of Tigranian leads the way to glory!” With that exhultation, Torlek dashed to Daniel’s side, and the two of them began fighting as one. By the time that Cholmek and the rest of the bekks arrived, momentum had completely shifted against the Kreel. The remaining half dozen or so threw down their weapons to the ground in a gesture of surrender. To them, a lifetime of agony in Rura Penthe was better than falling here at the hands of these demons…

In a few minutes, one of the bekks located the source of the jamming signal and the surviving Kreel were beamed to the Sk’oh’s brig. A medic arrived and was able to stabilize Commander Kentok. He opened his eyes to see Tigranian standing over him with a bloody bat’leth his tattered Starfleet uniform covered in spatters of Kreel blood.

“By Kahless’ hand….I am in Gre’thor. It’s the only explanation of why you are here.” He whispered.

“Afraid not, Sir,” Tigranian said. You are still stuck with me a while longer.” At that moment, Kentok and the medic disappeared in a transporter beam.

Tigranian allowed himself a smile.

“You know the qeS’a’?” Torlek asked walking up from behind him. “You quoted it very well on the bridge.”

“It was a very important book to me, Sir. In many ways it’s why I’m here.” Torlek placed a firm hand on Daniel’s shoulder.

“Who taught you how to fight with a bat’leth like that?” Torlek said grinning.

“A great warrior…” Tigranian replied.

“Ha!” Torlek said spitting in the dirt. “Not that great a warrior. He would be dead in disgrace right now if it weren’t for the hand of a foolish ensign who disobeyed his captain’s orders…”

* * * *

The next day, the Sk’oh proceeded back to the heart of the Klingon Empire at maximum warp to deliver the prisoners to authorities. Though he wished to celebrate, Daniel had pulled the duty officer’s shift that night. It would be a long lonely evening on the bridge while the rest of the primary crew continued reveling in their victory of the Kreel. He sat in the mess hall alone for an early dinner.

Just as he wrapped a piece of Pipius Claw in a gladst leaf, the ship’s intercom came to life.

“Ensign Daniel, Son of Tigranian, report to the Sparring Room immediately!”

“What now?” he asked, leaving the rest of his meal in front of him. He proceeded down the corridor. Captain Torlek stood in front of the doors to the sparring room.

“Hello, Daniel,” Torlek said with a grin.

“Sir?” he replied confused. “I’m due on the bridge in ten minutes, but do you need me for someth…”

“I’ve instructed Lieutenant K’vrash to cover your shift tonight. It’s the least he can do for sitting out the battle yesterday. Follow me.” He stepped into the sparring room and Daniel followed. He froze as soon as he saw what was inside.

Two raised platforms stood in the middle of the darkened room with an aisle in between. Four warriors stood on each platform, each carrying a meter long metal staff capped with an electrical prod…painsticks. The rest of the Sk’oh’s bridge crew stood on the other end of the aisle. Even Kentok was there, his arm in a sling.

A brazier burned like a small furnace directly next to the door lighting Torlek’s face in the shadows.

“Yesterday, you fought as a warrior. You saved my life, and I am in your debt. Perhaps, I can pay back some of that debt by giving you something you desire…that is, if you still want it.”

“Yes…” was all Tigranian replied.

“I cannot guarantee you will survive.”

“Then I die a warrior.”

“Very well,” Torlek said turning toward the rest of the assembly. “A Klingon’s Ascension Ceremony is one of the most important days in his entire life. Traditionally, the ceremony is conducted with his closest friends and family present. No one should go through this trial without their house standing with them…and today, Daniel, your house will stand with you.”

Torlek drew his dk’tagh and sliced open his right palm.

“SoS jIH batlh SoH…” He said before handing the bloody dagger to Tigranian.

“SoS jIH batlh SoH.” Daniel repeated as he cut open his own hand. He passed the dk’tagh back to Torlek. The captain wiped the blade clean on his sleeve and put it back into its sheath. He raised his bloody hand and Daniel grabbed it. The blood of the house of Torlek flowed into his own veins.

Torlek released his grip and grabbed Daniel’s left sleeve. He ripped it off effortlessly. Without a word, he reached for the brazier and pulled out a red hot branding iron. He pushed the glowing end into Tigranian’s flesh. It sizzled as Daniel gritted his teeth against the pain. When Torlek pulled it away, two downward facing talons were forever burned into his flesh.

“Welcome to the House of Torlek, Qapla’.”

He placed the iron back into the fire and walked to other end of the room. Daniel now stood alone.

“Begin…” Torlek commanded. Daniel stepped forward between the first two warriors.

“Today I am a warrior,” Daniel said facing the group. “I must show you my heart. I travel the River of Blood!” At that moment, the first two warriors thrust their painsticks into his side. The electrical shock was so strong, every muscle in his body clenched tight. Fire ripped through his innards. After what seemed like eternity, they pulled back. Tigranian tasted a warm, metallic ooze in the back of his throat. He spit a stream of blood across the room and almost passed out, but somehow managed to stay on his feet. Kentok moved forward with genuine concern, but Torlek held him back.

“No, he must complete this or die in the attempt…” The captain whispered.

Daniel took two steps forward, caught his breath, and shouted as loud as he could.

“The battle is mine! I crave only the blood of the enemy!”

The next two warriors shoved their painsticks into his ribs. The fire caused his vision to darken and blur. His legs waivered and he could barely steady himself to take the next steps forward. He took two massive breaths and screamed so loudly it echoed around the room.

“THE BILE OF THE VANQUISHED FLOWS OVER MY HANDS!”

The next two painsticks came. Daniel’s legs finally gave out. He collapsed to the ground on the verge of death. With every bit of his will, he pulled himself to his feet and took one more step forward.

The last two painsticks sent him back to the deck. Blood poured from his nose, mouth, and eyes. He put his still bleeding hand forward, gripped the ground, and pulled toward Torlek, not sure if he was alive or dead. However, it didn’t matter to him anymore. He was a warrior.

Torlek rushed forward and reached down to help him up.

“Ghobe’!” Tigranian shouted, refusing any help. He pulled one leg under him and pushed himself into a standing position. He saw his blood drip down from his face and splatter against the ground. As he was still trying to catch his breath, Torlek addressed the rest of the crew.

“The human, Daniel Tigranian, died here today,” he said with steel resolve in his voice. “From this moment onward, when you look at him, you will only see a Klingon warrior: Daniel, Son of Tigranian of the House of Torlek…my brother.”

* * * *

The next morning, the bridge doors opened. Despite his bloodshot eyes and gaunt face, Daniel confidently stepped forward. The rest of the crew looked at him and paused. He was wearing full Klingon armor, a dk’tagh and disruptor on his hip. The crest of the House of Torlek gleamed from his fur-covered left arm.

Torlek turned around as Commander Kentok stepped towards the newly minted SuvwI’. He stood before Daniel who raised his chin to look him in the eyes. Kentok reached up with his good arm and grabbed Daniel’s armor. He shook it to make sure it was adjusted correctly. When he was satisfied, he nodded.

“Take your station.”

“Yes, Sir,” Daniel said moving to the weapons console.

“Son of Tigranian,” Kentok said after a few moments.

“Yes, Sir?”

“If you are going to wear that armor, grow a beard. With that clean-shaven face, you look like a newborn LIngta’ still nursing at its mother’s teat.”

The entire bridge crew laughed…including Daniel.
Chapter 7 by captaintigranian
Outskirts of the Korma System: Klingon Occupied Zone, Cardassian Space

Stardate: 53189.4

Two weeks of searching the Lissepian trade routes and nothing to show for it. Two star systems gone over with everything at the ghargh’s disposal: subspace probes, active sensors, even tachyon scans to check for traces of cloaked ships. Perhaps this was a dead end.

Tigranian had kept Torlek informed with regular reports. The General had as much luck as Daniel in making contact with the Chancellor. Wherever he was, he was keeping clear of the normal Klingon Defense Forces. Torlek instead had been employing the Suk’Valt in attacking starbases, fleets, and supply convoys supporting Morjod’s forces. In yesterday’s transmission, Torlek said he felt more like a privateer than an honored warrior. When Daniel requested permission to break off the search and join him in Klingon space, however, Torlek flatly refused.

“No, brother, you can do more good there still searching for the witch’s sources outside of the Empire. Another battlecruiser would be of little use now.”

Tigranian often disagreed with the head of his house, but he had always obeyed…almost. He knew the ghargh’s crew was getting restless. Unlike a Federation ship, Klingons thirsted for battle, and this glorified oogh hunt was fast losing its appeal. They needed blood…and quickly. Their loyalty for Torlek was admirable, but there were already occasional grumblings in the lower ranks that Morjod’s appeals for a return to conquest and glory might not be so terrible. Of course, the Qas DevwI’ made quick work of those remarks before they got out of hand. However, Tigranian knew even his seasoned non-commissioned officers couldn’t keep Klingon warriors under control forever…especially with a human in the captain’s chair.

“Daniel HoD,” Loktan, the operations officer said. “I’m picking up a slight sub-space variance in Sector 3.”

“Analysis?” Tigranian said turning towards him.

“It is very faint. However, it could be the plasma coil of an older cloaking device.”

Tigranian knew that Morjod’s forces were bold and full of desire to engage enemy ships. He also knew they would be even more anxious for a fight against a vessel with a Federation citizen in command. For that very reason, they had been running de-cloaked the entire search.

“Helm, change course to 193 Mark 3.”

“Sir?” Atvos, the helmsman asked.

“Are you deaf, helmsman?”

“No, Sir!”

“Then do it!” Atvos complied. “Loktan, status of the subspace variance.”

“It has just changed course to match, Sir.”

“Finally,” Tigranian thought as a grin crept across his face.

“Sir, incoming message from General Torlek.”

“Loktan, keep monitoring the variance. Put the General on main viewer.”

An image of Torlek appeared on the screen.

“My brother, Glorious news! We have found the Chancellor and he has located the traitor and his mother on Boreth!”

“Boreth, the planet of Kahless’ return?”

“Yes, the same! Martok is calling all loyal Klingons to his banner. The final battle is about to begin.”

“We are four days away at maximum warp. We will join you as soon as we can.” He flashed Torlek a look. Tigranian knew that ship out there was probably monitoring the transmission. He didn’t want to reveal he knew it was out there. Luckily for Tigranian, the Tova’dok between them was still strong.

“Good, my brother. We will arrive at Boreth in two days. We will keep a few honorless glob flies alive for you…if we can. Torlek out.”

“Sir,” Loktan interjected. “The subspace variance is changing course and pulling away at full impulse. I believe they heard the General and may be preparing to leave the system.”

“Options?”

“If we transmit a reverse tachyon pulse from the main deflector, it could destabilize their cloak as long as they are within 3000 kellicams.”

“Do it.”

“Main deflector charging. Initating burst in five seconds.”

“They’ll be out of range in two seconds! Helm match course and speed of the variance.”

“Understood!”

“Firing the burst.” A pulse of green light emanated from the ghargh’s deflector. It struck an object which slowly transitioned into view. It was a D12 Class Bird of Prey.

“Sir, they’re raising shield and charging weapons.”

“Alert Status 1!” Tigranian ordered. “Shields up, power to forward disruptors, and arm photon torpedoes.”

“I’m detecting a large quantity of biomimetic gel in their cargo hold.”

“Got you…” Tigranian muttered. “Hail them.”

An angry Klingon appeared on screen.

“So it is true,” he said through a scowl. “This is how far Martok has let the Empire fall. A human, barely more than jeghpu’wI, in command of a Klingon Ship. How do you warriors tolerate such dishonor?” He cried out to the rest of the ghargh’s crew. “Kill this worthless petaQ and join the banner of Morjod! Your emperor needs you!”

“My Emperor…” Loktan said to the screen, “…is Kahless. Yours is a traitorous fraud who will die very shortly.”

“Fine, you all die at our hands.”

“You speak very bravely, but my ship is far more powerful than yours.” The other Klingon began laughing. Daniel felt something was wrong. “What is so funny?”

“That you think you can win against me, human.”

Three more ships de-cloaked behind the bird of prey: all K’Tinga class battlecruisers.

Tigranian looked at his tactical display as they moved to encircle him, but did not display a hint of concern. He looked back to the Klingon on the screen.

“Before this day is over, I am going to kill you.”

“Now YOU speak very bravely, human.”

“Sir!” Loktan said from behind him. “Another ship is de-cloaking 10,000 kellicams to port!”

“Another one?” Tigranian thought. He knew he was way overmatched as it was, but now his bluff was just looking ridiculous. “What type? Bird of prey? Battlecruiser?”

“Federation…”

The Pershing pulled alongside the ghargh and raised its shields.

“The captain is hailing both us and Morjod’s ships.”

“Put her onscreen,” Tigranian said with a smirk. The viewscreen split and Annabeth’s face appeared next to the other Klingon’s image.

“Klingon vessels, this is Commander Annabeth Geist of the Federation Starship, Pershing. Drop your shields and power down your weapons. Federation and Cardassian constabulary authorities are en route to take you into custody for violation of Article XII of the Khitomer Accords and Article VIII of the Treaty of Bajor.”

“This is the Klingon Zone, Human!” The other Klingon spit at her. “We are representatives of the legitimate ruler of the Klingon Empire!”

Tigranian snorted in derision.

“In any case, this is none of your concern! Leave now or be destroyed with this ko’tal.”

“You’re wrong, Captain. It is very much my concern. My science officer has detected large amounts of illegal biomimetic and bio-genic compounds in your cargo holds. Under the Authority of the Treaty of Bajor, which was signed by the Klingon Government, I have the right to confiscate your cargo and detain you. Any attempt to prevent that operation would be unwise on your part.”

“Kahless bless you and your sensor array, Laria,” Tigranian thought. At that moment the Klingon cut off the transmission. “Didn’t expect to see you here, Annabeth,” he said with a bit of annoyance.

“Sir, I…” Annabeth began.

“Later, when people aren’t trying to kill us. Take up a position on our left flank. They’ll try to get behind us.

“Yes, Sir,” Annabeth said as she disappeared from the screen.

“The Bird of Prey and one cruiser are coming to bear on us. The other two cruisers are heading to flank the Pershing,” Loktan said.

“Come right to 270 Mark 3. Lock disruptors on the cruiser. Target their impulse drives and fire!”

Green bolts shot forward from the ghargh’s cannons and blasted into the nearest battle cruiser.

“Damage to their starboard impulse drive. Their aft shields are at eighty percent.” At that moment, the bird of prey fired a spread of torpedoes. They slammed into the ghargh’s superstructure causing the whole ship to rock violently.

“Report!”

“Heavy damage to the aft conning tower. Emergency bulkheads have sealed. Dorsal shields at forty-five percent.”

“Keep firing on the cruiser! Once we have them disabled shift to the bird of prey!”

“Understood!”

Daniel looked at his tactical display. The Pershing was taking a beating, but still holding her own. Katie had already landed several withering phaser hits that were starting to destabilize the battle cruisers’ structural integrity fields. She then fired a spread of quantum torpedoes which blew a warp nacelle off the battle cruiser to their port.

Another blast of disruptor fire caught the ghargh. A console exploded at the aft of the bridge.

“Hull breach on deck seven! Dispatching damage repair crews.”

“Helm, change course 285 Mark 6, full impulse. Weapons prepare a spread of torpedoes, deactivate arming safeties and prepare them for point detonation!”

“Sir!” Loktan exclaimed.

“DO IT!”

The ghargh charged forward and then turned ninety degrees: closing to point blank range.

“BaH!” Tigranian shouted. Loktan fired three torpedoes at the battlecruiser less than ten kellicams away. “Roll right, emergency thrusters!” The ghargh barrel-rolled away from the enemy cruiser as the torpedoes found their mark. Without distance safeties, they exploded with their full yield directly into the enemy’s rear quarter. The warheads exploded in a brilliant fireball that rocked the entire ship.

“Enemy ship destroyed. Our warp core is offline, major damage in the secondary hull! The bird of prey is still closing.”

Tigranian looked at his display. He evened the odds a little more, but it was at a cost. His ship was damaged and could no longer escape. The Pershing was still grappling with the other two cruisers that had also closed to point blank range with Annabeth.

“Lock disruptors on the bird of prey and fire!”

The ghargh and the bird of prey charged directly at each other, each firing as fast as they could. They passed each other keel to keel, barely avoiding a collision.

“Forward shields down to forty percent.”

“Status on the bird of prey?”

“Their forward shields are at fifty percent. Minor damage to their port disruptor array.” Suddenly another shockwave hit the ghargh. The battlecruiser with the damaged nacelle had exploded after another torpedo barrage from the Pershing.

“Come about! Arm another spread of torpedoes and prepare to engage!” The gargh turned around to face their foe just in time to see the bird of prey fire two torpedoes directly at their bow. With their forward shields weakened, it would cripple them. “Evasive” but Tigranian knew it was too late.

Suddenly, a grey streak appeared in front of them as the Pershing raced between the two ships. It took the full force of the torpedoes on its ventral armor. The starship rocked violently, but was able to keep moving.

“Damage to the Pershing’s primary deflector array. Their phasers are offline, but their structural integrity is holding,” Loktan said to reassure Tigranian.

“Hold together, Blackjack,” Tigranian silently prayed before he saw the bird of prey still directly ahead. “Fire full spread of torpedoes.”

Three glowing orbs shot from the ghargh and impacted on the bird of prey’s weakened shields. In an instant, it detonated into pile of debris.

“Status on the third battlecruiser?” Loktan activated the sensors.

“Intact, but adrift. They are completely disabled. The Pershing is hailing.”

“Onscreen. Annabeth, is everyone alright?”

“Couple of minor scrapes and bruises, but nothing that Alex can’t cure with a dermal regenerator and a few lollipops. Though Mr. Scharr is already complaining about all the repairs he’s gonna have to make…”

“HoD, what is a ‘lollipop’?” Atvos asked Daniel confused.

“It’s not important,” Tigranian said before turning back to the screen. Annabeth was chuckling. “I suppose I owe you one.”

“You could at least begin with ‘thank you for saving my life.”

Tigranian glanced around to his Klingon crew. He knew he couldn’t be as emotional as he wanted to be.

“Thank you for saving my life…” he said with a little reserve. “However, I do have to ask. How long have you been following me?”

“Only a few days,” she said with a grin. “Things were pretty uneventful in the Federation Zone and if I remember correctly, Admiral Murphy’s orders were only not to leave Cardassian Space.”

Tigranian couldn’t help but smile.

“Now, if I remember correctly, the General’s transmission said you are due at Boreth, are you not?”

“We are, but our warp core is offline.”

“Engineering reports it will be repaired in four hours, Sir.” Loktan added. “We can proceed at full impulse.”

“Very well,” Tigranian said. “Lay in a course.” He turned back to Annabeth. “Tell the crew how grateful I am….and tell Phil I’m impressed with that little bit of flying. I’ll see if I can get the “Lexington Maneuver,” added to the ‘Advanced Tactics’ Curriculum at the Academy.”

“He heard you, Sir. Good luck.”

The ghargh had barely made it out of the system when they received another transmission from General Torlek. The Chancellor’s forces were victorious on Boreth. All had seemed lost until a mysterious figure appeared on the battlefield carrying the Sword of Kahless, the legendary weapon that had been missing over five centuries. Then, the battle had turned as if the sword itself was guiding the fate of the Klingon people. The Hur’q fell, Morjod was slain, and Gothmara was dead. The Empire was safe.
Chapter 8 by captaintigranian
Pravash Belt: Klingon/Cardassian Border.

Stardate: 53190.1

Tigranian sat back in his ready room’s chair with a mug of raktajino. He was still getting used to being back in Starfleet uniform. He also kept rubbing his newly clean-shaven face. Daniel had to admit, there were times when he missed the beard.

“I suppose I should welcome you back from leave, Dan,” Admiral Murphy said from his monitor.

“It was a fun trip, Pete. General Torlek was even kind enough to meet us at the border to pick up the ghargh and transfer me back to the Pershing.”

“Do you have any idea how angry Starfleet Headquarters was when they found out you left?”

“The twenty communiques I had waiting for me when I got back was a pretty good indicator.”

“It is very lucky for you that Chancellor Martok issued a personal statement of gratitude and commendation to you and the entire crew of the Pershing. He said it showed the Federation’s commitment to the well-being of the Klingon People and the strength of our Alliance…it seems to have calmed the Council and Starfleet down for now.”

“Gotta love politicians,” Tigranian said taking another sip from his mug.

“Still I wouldn’t go upsetting Admiral Paris for awhile…”

“I’ll be sure I lay low for at least a few weeks.”

“How did Annabeth like the big chair? Was she willing to hand the command codes back over?”

“Took a little convincing, but I finally managed to wrestle them away from her.”

“She’s a fine officer, Dan.”

“They all are, Pete. I’m lucky to have them.”

“Yes, you are. Just be sure you remember that next time something’s rotten on Qo’nos…”

* * * *

The Pershing flew side by side with the HoS and the rest of the Suk’valt Strike Fleet. The Klingons would be returning to Ty’Gokor in the morning, but tonight, they celebrated. Luckily, for the Starfleet personnel, most of the brawling and drunken mayhem had been confined to Torlek’s ships. By 2100 hours, only one Klingon remained aboard the Pershing.

Qoy qeylIs puqloD!
Qoy puqbe’pu’!
yoHbogh malthbogh je’ SuvwI’
Sey’moHchu’ may’ ‘Iw
maSuv manong ‘ej maHoHchu’
nI’be’yInmaj ‘ach wovqu’!

batlh maH ghbej’jyoqIjDaq
vavpu’ma’ DImuvpa’reH maSuvtaH
Qu’ DamevQo’ maSuvtaH, ma’ov

Tigranian and Torlek both screamed in triumph as they finished the final verse of “The Warrior’s Anthem.” With another grunt they slammed their chests into each other, sending two empty bottles of bloodwine careening into the carpet of Tigranian’s quarters.

“To Chancellor Martok!” Torlek said raising his tankard into the air. “True leader of the Klingon People, Hero of Boreth, and Wielder of the Sword of Kahless!”

“To the Chancellor!” Tigranian shouted before both men drank.

“My cup is now empty,” Torlek said through his drunken haze. “You’re failing in your duties as a host, Captain.” Tigranian forced himself up from the table, stumbled over to a cabinet, and pulled out another silver bottle.

“I was saving this for a special occasion, General...” he said returning to his seat and picking up his dk’tagh. He quickly sliced the cork off in one clean motion and poured the deep red liquid into each of their metal tankards. “…but since you challenge my hospitality…”

“Toasting victory with your brother and head of your house does not count as a special occasion to you, you toDSaH?” Torlek picked up his tankard and took a sip. As soon as the wine hit his tongue, he understood.

“Is this?”

“The last of my 2309. It’s a little hard to come by in the Federation.”

“I am honored, my brother,” Torlek said taking another sip. “However, I think I have another case sitting in my cellar on Qo’nos I can send you. Though Elessa would probably cut off my moQDu’ if I gave it to you. She was saving it as well…”

“And what occasion would the Mistress of the House of Torlek have to celebrate? Your death?”

Torlek laughed as he leaned in close.

“That woman would not celebrate my death. She still craves shattering my bones in our marriage bed like our first night together.” It was Tigranian’s turn to laugh. “No, she is saving it for the day you finally stop being such a little Mak’dar and bring her a woman to judge!”

“This again…” Tigranian muttered taking a sip of his own wine.

“Yes, this again, Daniel. A Klingon warrior has three sacred duties: bring honor to his house, bring honor to himself, and bear sons for the empire! So far, you have only achieved two of those.”

“You’re forgetting that I’ve met your wife, Torlek. Elessa would eat any woman I brought her alive. She’s the only Klingon I’ve ever met stronger than you.”

“plaQta’, and you know it! Elessa cares for you far more than she cares for me. You could bring home a mangy targ and she would welcome the creature into our house with pride.” Tigranian slammed his tankard back down on the table.

“Do not say such things! It brings dishonor to you and our mistress! No, my brother, when I finally bring a woman to Qo’nos, she will be worthy of our house and bring honor to our name! Until then, I will continue to bring that name honor on my own…” Torlek leaned back and smiled.

“Of that I am sure, Daniel. However, don’t wait too long. Honor gives little comfort to a man alone in his home… and in his heart.”

That brought Tigranian pause.

“Very true…” he said trailing off. “That maxim? It sounds familiar. Did Kahless say it?”

Torlek chuckled.

“Perhaps, I don’t know. It does sound like something befitting of him, though.” Tigranian raised his tankard.

“To my future wife, future daughter of the House of Torlek, and mother to my children…wherever she might be!”

“To your wife, the mangy targ!” They both erupted in laughter and drank.

On the other side of the wall, the laughter drowned out the sound of Annabeth, Alex, and Laria’s current choice of movie. Katie was absent. General Torlek and the captain were singing, yelling, and arguing so loudly, the three of them could hear every word through the tritanium bulkhead. They just couldn’t understand anything because the entire conversation was in Klingon.

“Sounds like they just opened another bottle of bloodwine…” Alex said trailing off.

“How much longer can they possible go? They’ve already been at it for hours,” Laria said.

“Who knows with Klingons?” Annabeth said. “They’ll probably keep drinking till morning.”

“Should we move this to my quarters?” Alex said getting up. “We could check on Katie.”

“Yeah, let’s go, but I already checked on Katie earlier. She’s not really in the mood for people tonight. Computer, monitor off.”

As the women got to their feet and headed for the corridor, Laria turned and glanced back at the wall.

“What could possibly be so funny?”

* * * *

Katie lay on her bed mindlessly playing with the dog tags around her neck. She stared out the window towards the stars, lost in her thoughts. A full glass of Aldebaran whiskey sat untouched on the nightstand. She couldn’t stand the stuff, but it was his favorite…

“Lieutenant Stone, you have a transmission from Earth. It’s coded personal.” Katie wasn’t surprised. She knew she would call today even though she had asked her not to. Suddenly, she felt extremely selfish. It was a terrible day for her as well. The least she could do for the woman who was almost her mother-in-law was to take her call.

“In my quarters,” she announced as she moved to her terminal. The image of a smiling gray-haired human woman appeared on the screen.

“Hello, Pam,” Katie said trying to sound cheerful.

“Katie, I know you said not to call, but I had to make sure you’re doing ok.”

“You don’t have to worry about me, Pam.”

“I am worried Katie. You are young, intelligent, beautiful, and still have a life to live. Please tell me you’re not spending the evening alone.”

“It’s only been two years today, Pam.”

“Exactly, it’s been two years! How much longer are you going to punish yourself for something that wasn’t your fault?”

Katie rubbed her yes.

“I guess I’m just not ready to let him go yet…”

“Ok, I can see you’re not in much of a mood to talk, but I’ll leave you with this…” Pam paused fighting back tears. “My son loved you very much, which means I love you very much. He didn’t get you to that escape pod so you could spend the rest of your life suffering on his account.”

Katie fought back the urge to scream.

“Thank you for calling, Pam.”

“Thank you for picking up. Please visit the next time you’re on Earth.”

“I will. Bye.” Katie cut off the transmission and then punched the wall.

The door chimed. She ignored it. It chimed again.

“Unless you outrank me, go away.”

The door chimed a third time.

“Dammit, the ship better be on fire!” She walked to the door and opened it.

Phil was standing there with a six-pack of gold cans and a flat, white box.

“Go away, Phil.” She moved to press the “close button,” but he put a foot inside. “I will punch you in the face.”

“My face’s structural integrity aside, I wouldn’t be much of a friend if I let you be alone tonight. I brought supplies,” he said holding up the items in his hands.

“Beer and Pizza? Really?”

“Everyone loves beer and pizza.”

“I can’t deal with this tonight. Seriously…leave.” She was about to physically throw him into the corridor when he interjected.

“I am here as a friend…nothing more. We can eat, drink, talk, watch SFN, tell jokes, cry, scream, shout, or just sit there in terrible, awkward silence. It doesn’t matter. I just don’t want you to go through tonight by yourself.” It caused her to pause. “And just to prove that I don’t have any nefarious ulterior motives…” he said holding up the cans, “this is literally the cheapest, lowest-quality swill the replicator was willing to produce. Any woman I was interested in would be disgusted if I brought this to her. You and I, however, are brothers and it would be an honor to drink this with you.”

He actually managed to get a laugh out of Katie.

“Also, this pizza has only one topping…one that most people hate…mushrooms.”

“Mushrooms are my favorite…”

“That is an incredible coincidence,” he said feigning surprise. Katie turned and walked back inside her quarters. Phil stood in the doorway not sure if he should follow.

“Well, you might as well come in,” she said over her shoulder. “Pizza’s getting cold.”
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