Summary: One of the most important holidays on the Klingon calendar approaches and Tigranian must commemorate it in front of the entire empire. Meanwhile, crew replacements for the vacant spots on the Pershing's senior staff finally arrive.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Family, Friendship, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Character Death, Violence
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes
Word count: 10702 Read: 4935
Published: 10 Jun 2018 Updated: 10 Jun 2018
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
Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Jahandra Agricultural Reeducation Center: Jahandra II, Romulan Star Empire
Dozens of acres of steaming paddies baked in the binary suns. Row after row of forlorn souls stood up to their knees in brackish, parasite-infected water as they shoved Rokat root bulbs into the soil for harvest later in the year. Jahandra was home to the most undesirable of the Star Empire's population. Slaves sold by their masters to the state to settle debts, dissidents not important enough to receive special treatment from the Tal Shiar, and even a few hundred Cardassian prisoners of war forgotten by their government after the end of hostilities three years before.
Every morning before dawn, the prisoners would filter out of their dilapidated reed and palm-frond barracks buildings only to toil until after the tropical suns had set. Their only entertainment was pro-Romulan propaganda blared from a series of rusting speakers across the compound. Despite being labeled a "re-education center," reform was the last thing on the prison guards' minds. People came to Jahandra to die, and the Romulans obliged them every day.
Despite a prison population in the thousands, only around 100 Romulan reservists watched over the camp at any one time. There was no need for any more guards. Jahandra was lightyears from the nearest habitable planet. Its jungles were filled with venomous snakes, dangerous predators, and diseases that could kill a full grown humanoid in a matter of days. Still, some tried to escape: either driven mad by the heat and hard-labor or simply by simply deciding that a quick death by disruptor was preferable to years of slow decay.
Every two hundred meters around the Rokat paddies, a bamboo framed guard tower rose into the air. Each was manned by guards of limited intelligence, but relatively good marksmanship skill. It was all that was necessary to ensure Jahandra retained its "escape-proof" reputation.
On this particular morning, two Romulan guards stood watch in the north tower. They smoked hand-rolled cigarettes and ogled a crumpled magazine of Ferengi-produced pornography.
"I'd like to get her tentacles between my thighs," the first guard muttered while taking in the view of a naked Trakelek woman sprawled over a gaudy, velvet bedspread.
"Too many feathers," the second guard said using his pith helmet to fan his face against the rising heat of day.
"Don't discount a girl with feathers," the first guard replied with a leer. "They can tickle you in all the right places…"
Both men laughed before being distracted by a commotion from the field below.
"Jassa!" a women screamed. "Jassa na ronna!"
The guards looked over the edge of the tower to see a younger woman making a break from the paddies towards the jungle two hundred meters away. An older woman of the same green-skinned species was screaming for her not to go. However, the younger woman didn't stop sprinting through the water and muck.
"Looks like we got a runner," the second guard said nonchalantly. "You want this one?"
"Yeah," the first guard said unslinging his disruptor rifle and bracing it against the edge of the bamboo struts. He adjusted his scope and zoomed in close enough to make out the hair bouncing against the young woman's back.
"If you don't shoot soon, she'll get away," the second guard warned.
"Calm down," the first Romulan replied, "it's no fun if you shoot 'em while they're close. You gotta test yourself," he added with a chuckle.
"Alright," the second guard said shaking his head, "but you'll be the one explaining to the centurion why she made it to the treeline this time."
"She's not gonna make it to the treeline…" he muttered while placing his finger on the trigger. He slowly began to squeeze…
Just before he fired, a plasma rocket streaked across the horizon and blew their tower to bits. The flaming hunks of the two guards scattered across the paddies below.
A Romulan assault ship zoomed over the tree line and began circling the entire compound like an angry vulture. Guards in the other towers started shooting back with their disruptors, but it was hopeless. The grey-skinnned hover craft roared through the sky in tight spirals and completely obliterated the entire perimeter in less than a minute.
The prisoners in the fields huddled low in the muddy water, unsure of what was happening. They shielded their eyes against the sun watching the ship cut down the Romulans with ease. When it became clear it wasn't here to hurt them, a few even started cheering.
Romulans resting in their barracks half a kilometer away began sprinting outside fumbling with their weapons. All started shooting back at the attack ship which now turned its attention to them. Its engines roared as it zoomed back and forth firing hails of plasma rockets, grenades, and thousands of pulse-disruptor blasts into the confused and terrified guards. Buildings, fences, and fortifications were ripped apart in the ruthless barrage. Romulans who managed to fire back were blown to pieces. Romulans who tried to flee into the jungle were shot through the back without any mercy.
Three minutes later, the entire compound was nothing but smoking ruins littered with green-splattered bodies. The assault ship hovered motionlessly in the air for a few moments before gliding back towards the fields. The prisoners cautiously approached as the ship engaged its landing thrusters and gently set down on the edge of one of the Roskat paddies throwing up clouds of mud and debris. Then, the vehicle killed its engines and a side hatch slid open.
Half a dozen fighters from different species jumped out carrying a mix of particle and melee weapons. They formed a protective semi-circle around the ship as a few of the bravest prisoners finally approached them in stunned silence. A tall Gralluscan emerged from the side of the assault ship accompanied by a yellow-furred Sarcassan. The Gralluscan looked out on the thousands of starving, huddled prisoners gawking back at their savior who just dropped from the sky.
"Some of you might have heard of me," he said removing a pair of sunglasses to reveal his piercing yellow eyes. "My name is Rellas. I am warrior who fights to free the oppressed of the galaxy. I do this by killing Romulans and, as you can see, I am very good at it." He looked back and forth to see a glimmer of hope emerge from behind the prisoners' sunken eyes. "I've come looking for volunteers to join my quest. Have I come to the right place?"
A roar erupted from the crowd.
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
Veb Quarter, First City: Qo'noS, Klingon Empire
"See, I told you we'd get to spend a night together eventually," Laria said holding onto Tigranian's arm as they walked down a darkened side street.
"Now, if we can figure out how to do it more than once a month, we'll really be in business," he replied. They both laughed.
The nentay transported the Imperial jenSa' of Cardassia to Qo'noS for "The Day of Unity." It was one of the most important Klingon holidays and less than a week away. As a jenSa', Tigranian would be participating in the military parade along with Torlek. He and Laria had arrived a few days early at the behest of the High Council. They just spent three days briefing Chancellor Martok and the heads of the High Houses on the current situation in Cardassian Space. The proceedings had gone well and the Tigranians earned praise from both Torlek and Martok on their actions. The topic of degrading relations with the Federation only came up once. The Chancellor silenced it quickly by stating that, "he would burn in Gre'thor before letting Federation pujchovnatlhpu who never picked up a weapon in their lives dictate how Klingon warriors comported themselves, the Khitomer Accords be damned." It was a moment of significant surprise to many in the Great Hall.
The meeting was now over, but Tigranian and Laria agreed to spend a few days retreat up at the family estate. However, the couple demanded at least one night to themselves out on the town. Torlek laughed, but acquiesced when it was obvious that Laria and Tigranian needed some time alone.
Now, with Laria in a printed kamakha and Tigranian in a casual tunic, the pair walked through the cool night air together. They purposely avoided the trendy areas where rich commoners and tourists congregated for fine dining, gambling, and night-life. Instead, they searched one of the quieter neighborhoods along the Qam-Chee searching for an authentic Klingon meal.
They rounded a corner and saw an establishment peeking out from the corner of an alley. Large red lanterns lit the entrance and a welcoming sign in pIqaD read:
Dralmok's 'oynot DuHmor
"Here we go," Tigranian said interested. "Want to try some 'oynot?"
"What is that?" Laria said hesitantly.
"It's pieces of meat, seafood, and…" he hesitated in order to choose his words carefully, "other assorted bits…put on skewers, covered with sauce, and then given just a hint of smoke over charcoal. It's kinda like a 'choose your own adventure'."
"What if I don't like where the adventure ends up?" Laria said furrowing her brow.
"Trust me, I won't let that happen," he said with a grin.
"Ok," Laria said raising a hand towards the door. "Let's see where the story takes us…"
Tigranian laughed as he led her over to the sliding wooden door. He opened it and the pair stepped inside. The tiny restaurant's atmosphere hit them in the face. It's dim lighting mixed with the smoky aroma floating off a large brazier. A muscular Klingon with a long beard stood behind a long wooden counter and flipped several dozen small skewers of animal parts over a tiny fire. Ten wooden tables scattered around the space were filled with commoners enjoying their dinner and drinks. An older woman in a cheap, well-worn kamakha bounced around the room taking orders, distributing food, and delivering drinks. She looked like the place's only waitress. Tigranian smiled as he realized that this was a small, "SoS and vav" joint that catered to the neighborhood's working class residents.
"This is perfect," Tigranian muttered to himself.
"If you say so, Hon," Laria said shaking her head skeptically.
"nuqneH," the server said without looking up as she served two goblets of bloodwine to a pair of gentlemen. The men were ripping chunks of klongat meat off a set of wooden skewers with their fangs. Then, the server looked up to see her next customers and froze. Her abrupt silence caused the other customers and the chef to look over. The entire restaurant grew completely quiet.
"General Daniel, Son of Tigranian and the Lady Laria," she said in tlhIngan Hol. It was only then that Tigranian remembered he and his wife were as infamous in the empire as they were in the Federation. It was not often that non-Klingons achieved such high ranks in the KDF.
The server placed her empty tray in front of her and bowed deeply at the waist.
"A noble son and daughter of the House of Torlek honor this meager establishment with their presence. Long live the Empire."
Silently, the other patrons of the restaurant along with the chef rose to their feet and bowed as well.
Laria wasn't sure how to respond. Tigranian dropped down and returned each one of their bows in kind.
"Long live the Empire," he responded. "But a joH's belly must be filled as well. We could smell the aroma of your excellent cuisine from the street outside and it beckoned us to come in. Do you have a place for us to dine?"
"HIja', joH," the server said running over to an empty wooden table in the front corner and wiping it clean with a towel hanging from her belt.
"Return to your meals," Tigranian said to the rest of the room as the server pulled out a chair for Laria. "We are just customers here, the same as you."
The rest of the room went back to their food as Tigranian took his seat.
"Something to drink?" the server asked.
"Warnog," Laria said.
"Make that two warnogs," Tigranian added.
The server bowed and went to fetch their drinks.
"You may be a customer here," a hoarse voice shouted from the far end of the room, "but you are not the same as me…"
Tigranian looked over and saw a shriveled old man with long gray hair draped in moth-eaten coat. He was seated alone a small table near the back door.
"Be silent, Old Man!" the chef screamed from across the counter. "You dishonor this place with your rants!"
"All you ever do anymore is tell me to be silent, Dralmok!" the old man yelled back. "But not this week. This is the Week of Unity when we celebrate our ancient warriors!"
"We'll take you to the parade to get your salute in four days. Until then, be quiet!" Dralmok shouted.
The server returned with two goblets of warnog and placed them in front of Laria and Tigranian.
"Ignore him, My Lord," the server begged.
"Who is he?" Tigranian asked. She paused, but finally answered.
"I am Gralla, Daughter of Targor. He is my father, but he is a tired old man who has lived far too long. His tongue is no longer controlled by his brain, but he has nowhere else to go. We keep him here while the restaurant is open. Would you like food?" she said desperate to change the subject.
"Two skewers of bakrat liver, two skewers of bregit lung, two skewers of pipyus chunks, and two of ramjep feet."
"Excellent, My Lord," Gralla said running over to speak with the chef.
"It's not often you meet a senile Klingon," Laria whispered skeptically.
"No, it's not," Tigranian said. "Most are lucky enough to die before their minds are stolen from them…"
"Yes!" the old man screamed. "I am a stupid old man and I have lived too long! I fought for my empire and was too unfortunate not to die after my comrades fell in battle. Now, all I see around me is shame and disgrace! I see Klingons bowing and scraping to a pair of novpu who have somehow extorted titles out of our once great nation."
"Shut your mouth, Targor!" another customer said. "You are in the presence of noble warriors and a General of the Empire!"
"I see no noble warriors here!" the old man shouted back. "Just Ha'DIbaHpu wearing costumes." Tigranian grimaced. He knew that he couldn't ignore things anymore. Laria's eyes were filled with pity for the old man's circumstances, but this was Qo'noS and she knew what Tigranian's title and family name obliged him to do.
"Make it quick," she whispered.
Tigranian pushed back from the table and walked across the restaurant. He towered over his frail opponent. There would be no honor in this, but still it was demanded by this society. Even the server and the chef knew that things had come to a head. They didn't even try to plead for the old man's life. It would stain what little honor their poor family had left.
"What have I done to offend you?" Tigranian asked firmly.
"You exist," was all Targor responded. It was then Tigranian noticed the bronze badge on the lapel of the old man's coat.
"That badge?" Tigranian said. "You were in Kor's Legion?"
"Yes, My Lord…" Targor exaggerated the honorific to let Tigranian know it was not said out of respect. The rest of the restaurant looked on this exchange with horror. As a nobleman, Tigranian would be well within his rights to simply storm away and have everyone in the restaurant put to death for abetting this dishonor.
"You were at Axanar, Tarsus, Organia…" Tigranian said in awe.
"And Caleb IV," Tagor added. "All great victories for the empire. All given away by politicians to people who look like you."
"My body may be human," Tigranian replied, "but my soul serves the empire."
Targor painfully put his shriveled arms on the table and pushed himself up to standing.
"Do humans have souls?" he asked angrily. "For at every opportunity they seem to relish the opportunity to take away all that made us great. Now, we cower behind our own borders. We fear our own strength and we forget our heritage as conquerors."
"Father, stop!" Gralla implored. "He can kill us all for your sedition!" Tigranian held up his hand.
"I have no urge to kill a hero of the empire such as you," he said, "but if you desire a demonstration of my strength, it can be arranged." Tigranian said the words of a warrior, but his heart was not in them. He just wanted this terrible situation to end.
"Go ahead!" Targor shouted. "For eighty turns, I have watched my brothers and sisters fall away like the wilted leaves of autumn. My true country-men only exist now as story, song, and fading memories in the heads of worthless, senile old men like me. I call to them! But they no longer hear me.
Those who will soon celebrate on the Day of Unity in Chancellor's Square, those that made the empire great, are gone and this pathetic old fool is all that's left. I have been cursed with a long life. Glorious death eluded me at every opportunity, but at least I have my honor!"
Targor suddenly drew an old KDF issue d'k tahg from underneath his coat. He lunged at Tigranian, but the attack was so slow, Tigranian easily had time to draw his own d'k tahg and parry the strike. Targor didn't even have enough strength left to resist. Tigranian knew what he had to do. He quickly plunged his blade up to the hilt into the old man's chest and then hugged him close in a final embrace.
"I release you, warrior," Tigranian whispered into the old man's ear. "You have earned paradise…"
Tigranian looked back into his opponent's face. He could have sworn he saw the hint of smile cross his ancient lips. Then, the general ripped his blade out of Targor's chest and cleaved the old man's heart in two. He instantly fell limp into Tigranian's arms.
The restaurant fell absolutely silent. Tigranian slowly lowered Targor to the ground. With great care, he placed the old man's d'k tahg over the wound and then crossed the Targor's arms over it. Tigranian ripped a piece of cloth from his own sleeve and polished the badge of Kor's Legion to a bright shine.
Finally, he leaned down and pried opened Targor's eyes with his thumbs.
"And Kahless said unto them," Tigranian whispered trying to maintain his composure, "Be not afraid, for the death that takes you from this life is merely an awakening. For the honored dead, the River of Blood shall wipe away all tears from your eyes and sorrow from your heart. That which is awaits you in Sto'Vo'Kor is the true world, and this illusion will pass away like a dream…"
Tigranian reared back his head and roared to the heavens. He then silently rose to his feet and stared down at Targor's corpse.
"Dream now, Warrior," he said returning his blade to its sheath. "You have earned your rest and more…"
Tigranian turned back towards Laria, but words from Gralla stopped him.
"My Lord," she said bowing to him. Her husband did the same. "For the shame my father has caused you to endure, my husband and I offer the House of Torlek our lives but we implore you, spare our customers. This is not their fault."
Tigranian looked towards them.
"What shame?" he said firmly. "Your father was a hero to the empire and died in honorable combat. His deeds bring glory to your family." Tigranian placed a fist over his heart. "For his sacrifice, I salute you and your husband, Gralla, Daughter of Targor," he said bowing deeply.
Dralmok and Gralla were completely shocked.
"If I have not proven too much of a burden, may I still dine in your establishment?" Tigranian asked humbly.
"Of course, My Lord," Dralmok said returning behind the counter. Tigranian then turned to the other patrons.
"It was not my intention to disrupt your meal. For that, I ask forgiveness. For the rest of the evening, if anyone else besides me pulls money from their wallets, I will consider it a personal insult. Tonight, we celebrate all great warriors of the past during this Week of Unity, but especially him," Tigranian said pointing to the corpse lying on the floor.
"Targor of Kor's Legion, Hero of Axanar, Hero of Tarsus, Hero of Organia, Hero of Caleb IV, Hero of all Klingons, now sails with the Black Fleet. Tonight, we eat, drink, and toast to his courage. Qapla'!"
"To Targor of Kor's Legion! Qapla'!" the rest of the restaurant shouted in reply. Tigranian then returned to his table and sat down across from Laria. He placed one of his palms down on the wooden surface in front of him. His face was like stone, but she immediately noticed that his hand was shaking uncontrollably. With a comforting gaze, she reached out and held it tightly.
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Earth Spacedock: United Federation of Planets
The Pershing's senior staff gathered around the pad in Transporter Room 2 eager to meet their new science officer.
"I hope this guy isn't as much of a giant tool as his name implies," Scharr said curling his antennae.
"Again, Tren," Annabeth said with a grimace, "the kid can't help his name. Be nice."
"I'm too damned old to be nice…" he muttered back.
"T'les, you'll obviously be in charge of getting him oriented with our science section and ship's procedures."
"Understood, Captain," T'les said calmly. "I have already put together a detailed schedule for our relief in place."
"I'm sure you have," Annabeth muttered, "but Phil, I was wondering if you could help with getting him in tune with the ship's social groups," Annabeth asked.
Katie put a hand over her mouth and snickered.
"And what precisely is so funny?" Phil asked his wife.
"Nothing, Sweetie," Katie said. "It's just the idea that you would be in charge of anything social is a bit ridiculous…"
"Thanks," Phil said sarcastically before turning to Annabeth. "But it is true. I don't know anything about Starfleet Science."
"Well," Annabeth explained, "you're both human males in your twenties from Earth. I just thought you had that going for you."
"Don't you think Kinzo would be more appropriate as the ship's doctor?" he asked. "I mean, they both wear green shirts."
"I don't mind," Katan said shaking his head. "But I'm still pretty new here myself."
"Exactly," Annabeth said. "C'mon, Phil. No one aboard has a better holoprogram catalogue to choose from."
"That is very debatable, Ma'am," Katie said laughing.
"Just do it, Lexington," Annabeth said. "And you, other Lexington, stop being so difficult."
"Yes Ma'am," the pair said in unison.
"Captain," Chief Carter said from the control station. "Starfleet Headquarters is signaling they're ready for transfer."
"Good, Energize," Annabeth answered. "Best behavior everyone," she warned while looking around her motley crew.
A blue shimmer appeared on the transporter pad and materialized into a young officer with slicked brown hair in his mid-twenties. He lumbered under the weight of a large duffel bag slung across his shoulder.
"Yup," Scharr said as soon as the kid appeared. "He's a total weenie."
"TREN!" Annabeth whispered angrily.
When the scientist saw the group staring at him, he snapped to attention with surprise.
"Ma'am!" he said suddenly. "Lieutenant Aaron Adamson requesting permission to come aboard."
"Granted, Lieutenant," Annabeth said with a smile as Adamson stumbled off the platform. "Welcome aboard the USS Pershing."
"Thank you," he said adjusting his bag. "It's really exciting to be assigned aboard a Pershing class. I was expecting to be assigned to a survey mission next."
"Yeah, that's not surprising," Katie muttered.
"Well, I'm sure you have a lot of questions, Lieutenant," Annabeth said, "and here are the two people who are gonna help you get situated," she said indicating T'les and Phil.
"Lieutenant T'les," she said with a polite bow of her head. "I stand relieved at Science."
"Oh," Adamson said with a smile. "I'm looking forward to speaking with you about what's been going on. Spatial anomalies, temporal rifts, subspace eddies…"
"We have had no irregular contacts for the past seven weeks. Merely two close flybys with some unremarkable comets and an interface with a Class III Hydrogen cloud. However, it is all annotated in my logs which we will go through in depth over the next three days."
"Three days?" Adamson said in dismay.
"Yes, I have abridged them for your convenience," T'les said. "Though I did keep enough detail to satisfy professionalism."
"You have three days' worth of logs on two comets and a gas cloud?" Adamson said still in shock.
"Of course," she said. "Science is in the details. I would think you would know that as a scientist." The others held back laughter.
"Well, when you're not busy with T'les going over the logs, I'll be showing you around the ship and what she has to offer. I'm Phil Lexington, Helmsman," he said shaking Adamson's hand.
"Good to meet you. I'm Aaron," Adamson said still a little overwhelmed. Suddenly, Chief Carter's console chirped again.
"Ma'am," he said surprised. "Starfleet HQ is saying our other officer is ready for transfer."
"What other officer?" Katie asked taken aback.
"Good," Annabeth said. "I wasn't sure my request was going to go through, so I decided to keep it a surprise."
"Keep what a surprise?" Katie asked even more nervously.
"Why your replacement, Katie," Annabeth chuckled. "You can thank me later. Chief, Energize."
Everyone turned their attention back to the transporter as another individual materialized wearing a brown leather flight jacket. When they saw who it was, their jaws dropped. Annabeth laughed.
"This is bullshit," Daredevil said pulling off her aviator sunglasses and dropping her duffel bag. "I'm a fighter pilot, not a damned babysitter."
"DEE!" Katie and Phil said in unison as she walked off the pad.
"Welcome aboard, Lieutenant Commander Neman," Annabeth said still laughing.
"Ma'am," Daredevil said holding up her hands, "I don't know what you pulled to get me reassigned to the Pershing, but my next stop is supposed to be squadron command. I am in no way qualified to be your XO."
"Interesting way to make a first impression on your new boss, Dee," Annabeth countered, "but I respectfully disagree. You've proven yourself a damned good Squadron XO and you already know what a Pershing class can do. With everything that's happened, I wanted to keep the first officer in the family. Admiral Paris and Captain Bennett agreed. Stay with us for at least a year or two. If we can't win you over to the fleet side of things, I'll make damned sure there's a fighter squadron waiting on you. I have one or two favors left at Starfleet Command."
"This is still bullshit," she said before quickly adding a "Ma'am," on the end of her statement. "But it looks like I don't got a choice."
"Damn right you don't. They're all yours, Number One," Annabeth said happily indicating her staff.
"Looks like you're riding the bus with us now, Dee," Phil said chuckling.
"Oh, watch your mouth, Sab," Dee said shaking her head. "I'm your XO now which means I own your ass even more than the Fleetie over there does," she said nodding to Katie.
Phil swallowed a lump in his throat as Dee turned to look at Adamson.
"And just who the hell is this?" Dee said pointing to the new science officer.
"Lieutenant Aaron Adamson, Ma'am, I'm the new science officer," he said cheerfully.
"Great another skinny human kid I gotta carry…" Dee muttered. "Alright folks, Mama's in charge now. Fall in and follow me. We're gonna run Captain Geist's giant warp speed carnival like a Vulcan pocket watch or I'll turn in my spots," the Trill said picking up her back and leading the staff out into the corridor.
Annabeth flashed a look back to Chief Carter and then grinned from ear to ear.
"Lady Blackjack is coming back…" she whispered to herself.
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
Ancestral Estate of the House of Torlek: Qova Domain, Qo'noS
The family had gone through to the drawing room after dinner. Tekloth, ghIntaq of the House of Torlek, approached with a wooden case filled with expensive Klingon cigars. He bowed deeply as he presented it towards the occupants of the couch. Lady Elessa, dressed in a fine evening gown, selected one stogie and plucked it out.
"Thank you, Tekloth," she said clipping the end off with a cutter she took from the marble raktajino table. He then offered the case to Laria who politely declined.
"Tsk, tsk, Lady Laria," Elessa said placing the smoke into her mouth while Tekloth lit it with a burning piece of Darian Cedar. "How unlady-like for you to refuse an after dinner cigar. You still have a lot to learn about the Klingon upper class, but one day yet I'll have you turned into a real woman."
"Perhaps one day, My Lady," Laria said adjusting her own intricate gown, "but not tonight."
Elessa laughed as she puffed a cloud of smoke from her mouth. She looked across the furnished room. Torlek brooded with a tankard of bloodwine while sitting in a leather armchair next to the roaring stone fireplace. He stared out the open veranda doors towards the balcony. Tigranian leaned on the stone railing and stared out at the river below lit by the moonlight.
"How long has Daniel been like this?" Elessa whispered to Laria.
"Since that day on Cardassia," Laria replied.
"Men are such frivolous, emotional creatures," Elessa said shaking her head, "always whining about something when they should be enjoying themselves. It's a good thing the old gods gave us the wombs or else no one would ever be born. Men would just sigh and moan so much that the baby would die of disdain rather than emerge into the world."
"Well?" Elessa said loud enough to bring Torlek back into the conversation.
"Well what?" he said back to her.
"He's your brother, qoH," Elessa said rolling her eyes while gesturing out towards the balcony. "Go and speak with him."
Torlek growled back at his wife.
"I don't think he's ready to talk," Torlek replied hesitantly.
"I don't care what he's ready for," Elessa spit back at him while taking a puff on her cigar. "This house may bear your crest, but I am its mistress," she said as her jewel encrusted tiara gleamed in the firelight, "and I will not have melancholy within these walls when we have so much to be grateful for."
"What do you want me to do?" Torlek grumbled.
"Fix it!" Elessa commanded. "Besides, I have things to discuss with Lady Laria: business, investments, management of the estate, assorted financial matters that wouldn't interest a man. Go," she said shooing him out the door. Torlek scowled as he rose to his feet and headed for his brother.
"My Lady," Laria said leaning over to Elessa. "I may be good at math, but I was raised in the Federation. I don't know a lot about money and investing."
"Oh young one," Elessa said with a chuckle. "You are a Klingon Lady now. You must learn! Our children count on us to keep them educated, our servants count on us to keep them employed, and our tenants count on us to keep their farms profitable and their rents low. Klingon women are the foundation of our society. How else do you think the men can spend all day focused only on the simplicity of politics and warfare? Dealing with death is easy, dealing with life…now that is difficult."
Laria's eyes grew wide as she reached for a cup of raktajino. She took a long sip before Elessa began her tutelage.
Torlek walked out onto the balcony. Tigranian still leaned on the stone railing. His dinner shirt was unbuttoned and he sipped from a nearly empty tankard of bloodwine. Torlek walked over and leaned on the railing next to him.
"We go to the First City for Unity Day tomorrow," the old Klingon said shifting to tlhIngan Hol. "The last thing this family needs is you looking like as depressed as a destitute Ferengi in front of the entire Klingon Empire."
"I promise you," Tigranian replied, "I'll have my warrior's composure back by the time the cameras turn on."
"A warrior's composure isn't something he turns on and off like a light fixture, Daniel," Torlek countered.
"Then, perhaps mine is shaken, Brother," Tigranian whispered. Torlek said nothing for a few moments as they both stared out at the broad river below.
"This is one of my favorite places in the entire house," Torlek finally spoke. "You can see so much and completely lose yourself in the beauty of Mother Qo'noS. It is easy to run from your worries here in the place of our ancestors. Yet, we both know you should not. What troubles you, Brother?"
Tigranian paused and then looked up at the stars.
"This may now be my house now, but it is not the place of my ancestors," he replied. "That is." He pointed up towards a small blinking speck of light on the far horizon. Torlek recognized it as the Sol System. "When I was back there, I dreamt of being back here. However, now that I've returned permanently, I can't get Earth out of my mind. It's like I don't have a real home anymore."
"Baktag," Torlek sneered. "What is home?"
Tigranian finally looked over to his brother.
"Is that supposed to be a rhetorical question?"
"No, Daniel. I am asking you: what is home?" Torlek said waving back towards the drawing room. "Is it where your wife and siblings are? Because we are here! Is it where you feel safe? Because you are safe here! Is it where you can be who you truly are? Just as I said on the day of your Ascension, the human known as Daniel Tigranian is dead. You are a Klingon warrior. You are Daniel, Son of Tigranian of the House of Torlek…and you are now finally home for good."
"Everyone in the Federation thinks I'm some kind of monster Torlek," Tigranian replied once again pointing to the sky.
"Not everyone, My Brother," Torlek countered. "You still have more friends than you know," Torlek said remembering his impromptu visit to the Pershing.
"Well, the ones in charge do. They think everything I've worked for in my life was a treacherous lie.
I killed a man the other day. It was the right thing to do, but thanks to them, I can't see it that way. In my mind, I was just a fugitive human killing an old Klingon and not a warrior giving another peace. That's how I see everything in my life now. I'm just a pretender: a traitor who has betrayed his people."
"Do you really think you're a traitor?" Torlek asked plainly.
"No," Tigranian said. "But does it matter what I think if others think differently?"
"Of course it does!" Torlek yelled back at him. "You know the truth. They don't. Why suffer for their ignorance? No one, not Starfleet, not politicians, no one in the whole Federation can judge you anymore. It is like I have said, you…are…home."
"You never let me answer your question, Brother," Tigranian replied. "I think home is where your family is."
"And as I said, is it not here?" Torlek said incredulously.
"Only half of it is," Tigranian said looking back towards Earth. "Like it or not, a part of me will always be of Starfleet and the Federation. My crew, Annabeth, Alex, my godson Max…they're up there, and I don't know if I'll ever get to see them again."
Torlek reached up and put a hand on Tigranian's shoulder.
"Kahless is not that cruel, Brother," he said. "You will see them again and when you do, don't sadden them with the sullen visage you wear now. Carry yourself with pride. Walk tall. Fill their hearts with joy by showing them you have found your true place in the stars, Federation judgement damned to Gre'thor! But until that glorious day comes, remember what the Unforgettable's last words to us were."
Tigranian took a deep breath and stood straight.
"You are Klingons," he said turning to Torlek. "You need no one but yourselves."
"Never forget that," Torlek said holding up his drink. "To the empire on the Day of Unity: may her warriors always fight with honor and always bring her glory. Qapla'."
Tigranian actually smiled as he struck his goblet against Torlek's.
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Starfleet Headquarters: San Francisco, Earth
"I never thought I'd get in here in a million years," Adamson said looking around the Admiral's Lounge. Normally, it was reserved only for flag officers, but the crew of the Pershing had received a quiet invite for a specific event.
Everything in this room was the best the Federation offered: plush carpeting, overstuffed leather furniture, polished wood trim, and beige walls covered with holophotos and mementoes going back to the days of Jonathan Archer. A bank of chairs had already been set across from the giant holoscreen. Refreshments were lined up along a long mahogany table in the corner. Alex was in uniform and already waiting for them.
"Calm down pup," Scharr said immediately going over and grabbing a scotch and soda from the spread. "If you get too excited and pee on the carpet, you'll have to spend the rest of the afternoon out on the lawn."
"Be nice to the kid, Tren," Dee said joining him to grab a drink of her own. "Remember, we're all supposed to be polite guests while we're here."
"Hey Babe," Annabeth said quietly to Alex as she walked up to her wife and kissed her on the cheek.
"Hey," Alex replied. "At least this gets me the afternoon off from Starfleet Medical."
"Way to look on the bright side, Babe," Annabeth said forcing a smile.
"And why exactly are we here?" Katan said sitting down next to the T'les at the end of the row of chairs.
"To pay our respects," Katie said taking a seat of her own.
"I don't think we have to be that morbid, Katie" Phil said.
"No, we don't," Annabeth said. "Are we ready, Number One?" she asked Dee.
"I believe we are all as ready as we will ever be," T'les muttered with a nod.
"Green light, go, Ma'am," Dee said to Annabeth.
"Alright," the captain replied. "I'll let them know we're all here."
Annabeth stepped out through a side door. A few moments later, she stepped back in and shouted:
"The Chief of Staff!"
Her crew snapped to attention as Admiral Paris, Admiral Murphy, and Admiral Yoshizaki, the Starfleet Chief of Intelligence, all entered together.
"As you were," Paris said calmly. Annabeth looked at him with unease. This was the first time they had spoken since she decided to ignore his warnings about Tigranian. If it bothered him, he didn't seem to show it.
"Thank you all for coming," Paris continued. "I know this will be difficult for many of us, but I invited you to this important event for several reasons. This broadcast is of great concern to Admiral Yoshizaki and Starfleet Intelligence as it is often when the Klingons announce key foreign policy shifts. We could be see something very significant today. In addition, since former members of your crew are involved, I wanted to have you here to prevent any rumors or innuendo about Starfleet's response. Also," he paused, "if you would like to speak about issues, behind these doors all of you may speak freely. Am I understood?"
"Yes Sir," the Pershing's crew all replied.
"Very good," Paris said with a nod. "Please have a seat and help yourself to some refreshments. It's a long broadcast."
Many of the group poured themselves drinks before taking their seats facing the holoscreen. Finally, Paris looked at the chronometer on the wall.
"I think it's time," he said. Yoshizaki nodded.
"Yes Sir," she replied. "Computer, access public feed of the Klingon Information Network and display. Set simultaneous translation mode."
"Acknowledged," the computer said bringing the holoscreen to life. Everyone looked up to see an image of Chancellor's Square in the middle of Qo'noS' First City. The entire space was draped in red, black, and gold banners. Huge Klingon seals hung from every building. The Great Hall loomed high in the background and the towering walls of the Chancellory stood behind an elaborately decorated grandstand filled with Klingon dignitaries. Life size bronze statues of Gowron, Km'pec, Gorkon, and every Klingon Chancellor going back to Mow'ga lined the edges of the open cobblestone expanse. Across the square, another huge grandstand was filled with spectators. Many were older Klingon veterans. All were wearing their finest tunics covered with old medals earned in previous conflicts.
"Kind of gaudy, don't you think?" Scharr said taking a sip of scotch.
"It's a parade, Mr. Scharr," Murphy said not taking his eyes off the live broadcast. "I suppose this is festive for them."
The camera panned in high-definition across the bright mid-day skyline of the First City. Finally, it focused on the main reviewing stand. Chancellor Martok stood in full dress armor with several senior military leaders beside him. The Sword of Kahless, recovered by the House of Martok during the coup three years prior, had been removed from Sacred Vault beneath the Order of the Bat'leth's shrine. A Yan'Isleth guardsman proudly held the sacred artifact beside the Chancellor. Seated in the row behind were aliens from the entire Klingon Empire dressed in their own species' individual styles of ceremonial dress.
"Those are the native leaders of all jeghpu'wI' worlds in the empire," Yoshizaki said.
"So," Paris said shaking his head. "They make their conquered peoples pretend they're all part of one happy family?"
"No Sir," Yoshizaki continued. "Our reports indicate there is very little discontent. Most worlds have been taking part in this tradition from the beginning and they consider it a sacred tradition now."
A hundred meters in front of their leaders, ten thousand Klingon troops clad in their finest uniforms stood at attention. They stretched ten ranks deep down the entire length of the rectangular square. Most had disruptor rifles strapped across their chests. A brass band in dress uniforms stood in the center of the formation.
"My God," Phil said staring at the screen. "I have to say, if they're trying to be intimidating, they're succeeding."
"This is crazy," Katie said. "I knew they were militant, but this looks like a damned circus with guns."
Annabeth remained quiet as the cameras went back to the dignitaries. They panned further over. Five meters from Chancellor Martok, a Bajoran in Klingon armor spoke with Lady Elessa. The Pershing's crew nearly jumped out of their chairs.
"Laria…" Alex said placing a palm over her mouth. Annabeth reached out and took her other hand.
"Well, now we've seen one of the Tigranians," Paris said looking at Murphy and Yoshizaki. The pair only nodded in reply.
Suddenly, the booming voice of a Klingon announcer echoed across the square.
"Warriors, Ladies, Gentlemen, and surviving heroes of the Klingon Empire, welcome to the commemoration of the 122nd Day of Unity. Today, the Klingon Empire honors our glorious history and salutes the brave warriors who sacrificed their lives to bring our nation triumph. As the sun reaches its zenith in the sky, let the ceremonies begin!"
The tremendous crowd fell absolutely silent. It was so quiet, the Federation viewers could hear the sounds of hobnailed Klingon boots on the cobblestones.
"Wow, they take this seriously," Adamson said.
"Shhh!" Annabeth said holding her finger against her lips. The young lieutenant blushed and ate a handful of mixed nuts.
The huge bell in the Great Hall's tower chimed noon on Qo'noS. Thunderous gongs echoed twelve times.
"Parade, Attention!" a booming voice echoed from the corner of the square. The camera panned to see Lord Torlek, mounted in the saddle of a white s'tarahk. He gripped its reins in one hand and held his bat'leth in the crook of his arm with the other. Around his neck, he proudly wore the chain of a Dahar Master. Behind him, also mounted on s'tarahk back, were the five jenSa'pu of the Klingon Empire in their dress armor. Daniel, Son of Tigranian adjusted his grip on his mount's reins while carrying his ownsword.
"And there's the other one," Paris said. "Jesus, the media is going to eat this up," he muttered shaking his head. "disgraced Starfleet captain becomes a Klingon propaganda darling."
"Mein Gott, Dan," Annabeth said under her breath. "You really made your dreams come true."
"Warriors, Ladies, and Gentlemen," the announcer said booming through the speakers once more. "Rise and pay your respects as the Banner of Unity enters the Square."
Every single person in attendance from the youngest child to the oldest veteran rose to their feet and placed a fist over their heart. The band began the booming strains of a Klingon military march.
At the far end of the square, a phalanx of honor guards began goose-stepping across the cobblestones parallel to the front of the assembled soldiers. At their head was a Yan'Isleth QaS DevwI' carrying the National Flag of the Empire on a wooden pole. Behind him, another QaS DevwI' held aloft a tattered red and black banner emblazoned with the crest of a house that no longer existed. Beneath the strange symbol, the words, "Remain Klingon" were embroidered in faded pIqaD. At their flanks, two more honor guards in dress armor goose-stepped with polished bat'leths. Twenty-four other Yan'Isleth honor guards stood in front of the dignitaries' seats. They each held flags representing the current twenty-four high houses of the empire. As the tattered flag passed them, they each lowered their banners in a solemn gesture of respect.
As the color guard approached the front of the reviewing stand, the announcer recounted the story of "Unity Day" for the crowd. It seemed superfluous, as all of them already seemed to know it by heart. A few older Klingons even had tears in their eyes as they watched the Banner of Unity pass in front of them.
"One hundred twenty-two turns ago, the empire was fragmented, weak, and plunged in a state of Civil War. The twenty-four great houses fought amongst themselves for power and influence. However, a menace loomed that threatened the very foundations of our sacred way of life.
One man, T'Kuvma, recognized the danger posed by the growing power of the enemies of the Klingon Empire. He reopened the eyes of all Klingons to the sacred teachings of Kahless and united the warring houses together with his eternal slogan of pride, 'Remain Klingon!'
His prophetic message came at a pivotal moment, as our combined enemies had already assembled on our borders for a cowardly and treacherous attack. However, the unified forces of the Klingon Empire dealt a catastrophic blow to our foes and decimated the enemy fleet with ease. This day of remembrance was established to commemorate the anniversary of that first great victory until the end of days. T'Kuvma's eternal teachings show us that together, the Klingon Empire can defeat any enemy, any time. May his name be spoken with honor forever!
The "Banner of Unity" is the actual standard of T'Kuvma's house carried on his flagship during the "Battle of the Binary Stars." It is a sacred symbol of the unbreakable union of the Klingon Empire, eternally bound together by Mother Qo'noS.
The member of the Yan'Isleth bearing the Flag of the Klingon Empire is jenQaS DevwI' Rechek, Son of Mulas. Bearing the "Banner of Unity" is QaS DevwI' Turav, Son of Nerus. They are guarded by Yan'Isleth swordsmen Weqal, Son of Churaq and Borpal, Son of Gersak."
"That's not exactly how our history books remember the "Battle of the Binary Stars," Murphy said rolling his eyes.
"It's one of their myths now, Sir," Annabeth replied still watching the feed. "I don't think they give a shit about history."
Alex squeezed her hand even harder.
"Accuracy aside," Yoshizaki said. "It's good that they didn't explicitly mention the Federation when they talked about enemies of the empire."
"Yet…" Paris added ominously.
The flags with their honor guards reached the front of the reviewing stand and stood at attention directly in front of Chancellor Martok. The standard bearers of the other twenty-four houses raised their flags back to the vertical when the "Banner of Unity" finally stopped moving. The square fell silent again.
"Parade!" Torlek shouted from the wings. "Prepare for inspection!"
"Torlek, Son of Ro'vagh, Military High Governor of Ty'Gokor, Commander of the Klingon Defense Forces, Dahar Master of the Klingon Empire, will now inspect the assembled warriors of the Klingon Empire in preparation for the parade," the announcer added.
The band changed their tune to a slightly more upbeat march as Torlek and his entourage kicked the spurs of their mounts and galloped out towards the giant formation. They stopped in front of the first block of soldiers. In a crisp, unified movement, the generals all turned their s'tarahkDu' towards the warriors and presented arms with their swords. The lead officer of the dismounted troops saluted back with a hand over her heart. The band suddenly fell silent.
"nuqneH, brave soldiers of the Qo'noS Military District!" Torlek's voice boomed across the square.
"NUQNEH, DAHAR MASTER!" the thousand strong formation roared back at him in unison. Behind Torlek, Tigranian heroically held his bat'leth. His former Starfleet colleagues continued to watch the broadcast in disbelief. It didn't seem possible that this bearded man in polished armor could have once been Captain Daniel Tigranian.
"Glory and honor to you on this, the 122nd Day of Unity of the Klingon Empire!" Torlek shouted back to the soldiers.
"OOORRRAHHHHH!" the warriors shouted back holding their disruptor rifles tight. "OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH!"
The band began playing again as Torlek and the others rode further down the line before stopping and saluting again.
"nuqneH, brave sailors of the Home Defense Fleet!"
"NUQNEH, DAHAR MASTER!"
"Glory and honor to you on this, the 122nd Day of Unity of the Klingon Empire!"
"OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH!"
Torlek and the generals rode further down the line and stopped in front of the end of the formation. This block contained uniformed jeghpu'wI' from all corners of the empire: Phebans, Mempans, Arin'Sen, Kriosians, San-Tarahans, and others.
"nuqneH, brave janissaries of the Klingon Defense Forces!"
"NUQNEH, DAHAR MASTER!"
"Glory and honor to you on this, the 122nd Day of Unity of the Klingon Empire!"
"OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH!"
"Glad to see they give everybody a shout out," Katie said leaning back in her chair. "Wouldn't want the non-Klingons to feel neglected." The others ignored her as they watched Torlek's riders circle around the back of the formation and come to a stop in front of the spectators' stand. Once again, the generals all saluted, but this time, the look of pride in their faces was even more intense. Torlek had a hint of emotion in his voice as he spoke this time:
"nuqneH, veterans of the Klingon Defense Forces: the true heroes of our empire!"
"NUQNEH, DAHAR MASTER!"
"Glory and honor to you on this, the 122nd Day of Unity of the Klingon Empire!"
"OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH!" row after row of elderly Klingons and jeghpu'wI' shouted as loudly as their old voices could shout. It may not have been as thunderous as the cries of the younger warriors, but the strength and pride was even more pronounced.
The generals then rode back around the formation and across the square to the reviewing stand as the band played on another military march with their horns and drums.
"Lord Torlek will now present the results of his inspection to Martok, Son of Urthog, Chancellor of the Klingon Empire," the announcer said chiming back in as the band reached a crescendo. Torlek dismounted from his s'tarahk as the other generals, including Tigranian, rode off to the side.
"Where is Dan going?" Alex asked nervously. "Are we going to get to see anymore of him?"
"I'm not sure," Admiral Yoshizaki said shaking her head. "The roll of each official taking part in the festivities changes every year."
Torlek climbed onto the reviewing stand and saluted the chancellor with his sword. Martok placed a fist over his heart.
"Chancellor, the assembled troops of the Klingon Empire have passed inspection and are ready to hear your words," Torlek boomed before stepping off to the side to join Lady Elessa and Laria.
"Here we go," Yoshizaki told the group. "The Chancellor's address is where we really gauge the mood of the Klingon government. He'll either talk about how proud he is that the empire is united with its allies or…"
"Or what?" Paris asked nervously.
"Talk about how the empire is strong enough to destroy all who stand its path…" Yoshizaki answered honestly. The group nervously turned towards the screen.
The band's horns played a triumphal herald as Martok approached the podium. Then, the square went silent once more as the undisputed leader of the Klingons began his speech.
"Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen, Officers, Warriors, and Veterans," Martok began, "Glory and Honor to you indeed on this Day of Unity. Today, we commemorate the magnificent battle which brought the twenty-four warring houses back together underneath the banner of Kahless over a century ago. We remember the martyrdom of T'Kuvma while also issuing his proud challenge to all to 'Remain Klingon' in the face of challenge, adversity, and struggle. Most importantly, today we remember the lives of the warriors who sacrificed all to keep our empire the strongest in all the heavens…"
"So far, so good," Yoshizaki said nervously.
"From the day that Klingons first departed our homeworld to conquer the planet Ty'Gokor, we have never backed down in the face of any opponent. As a result, we have integrated almost two dozen separate civilizations into our nation which all grew stronger under our guiding hand. They are now inseparably bound to Mother Qo'noS as any native Klingon and our empire thrives because it was built, not by the false promises of tolerance and diplomacy, but by the steel hand of conquest and power. From the Kavrot Expanse to Morska's sands, from Qo'noS to Cardassia, the Klingon Empire stands as one with pride!"
Murphy and Paris both looked over to Yoshizaki who took a deep breath.
"Today, we honor not only our veterans from past conflicts, but also the brave men and women of the Defense Forces who today fight for not only the victory of our own country, but also to rid the galaxy of tyranny. Though other's commitment to justice may waver, I assure you that the Klingon people will fight any battle, anywhere.
In exchange, we only ask for one thing in return, and that is respect. My government will not tolerate anyone: whether past friend or future foe, dishonoring the sacrifices of Klingon warriors. In this terrible age of uncertainty, I tell the others listening to this around the stars: Klingons will never cower to you! To dishonor us with military force, lies, slanderous accusations, or subversions will all be met with the same response: we will find you and we will destroy you…"
Paris and Murphy dropped back in their chairs and took deep breaths.
"Sir…" Yoshizaki said with trepidation. Paris quickly held up his hand. He didn't want to talk right now.
"Soldiers, sailors, janissaries, warriors!" Martok shouted. "Know that your nation stands with you forward to absolute victory. We are stronger when we join together. WE ARE MANY RACES!"
"WITH ONE BLOOD!" the formation of warriors shouted back.
"We are many spirits!" Martok added.
"ALL UNITED UNDER KAHLESS!"
"To glory, my brothers and sisters," Martok said concluding his speech. "Let the parade commence. OORAH!"
"OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH! OOORRRAHHHH!" the crowd shouted back.
The band began the strains of the Klingon National Anthem. The square sang together as one until the final chord was played. Then, on cue, the entire military formation faced to their right and marched in unison to take their places for the parade.
The band began playing another upbeat march as a figure rode out on his s'tarahk to begin the pass and review. He crisply saluted with his bat'leth as he cantered past the reviewing stand. The Klingon National colors and the "Banner of Unity" fell in behind the rider and passed the Chancellor and Lord Torlek. The announcer spoke again:
"The warrior receiving the honor of leading the parade this year is the Imperial jenSa' of Cardassia, Lord Daniel, Son of Tigranian. The general received commendation from both Chancellor Martok and the High Council for his excellent performance protecting the people of the Republic of Cardassia from Romulan aggression. The Son of Tigranian's courage and valor are so powerful, they cause cowards everywhere to flee from his presence. Glory and Honor to his house…"
"It appears that much of this event seems to be a thinly veiled criticism of Federation policy in regards to Daniel Tigranian and the Klingon Empire," T'les said plainly.
Murphy groaned. Paris began rubbing his eyes.
"Thank you for your assessment, Lieutenant," the Starfleet Chief of Staff said sarcastically.
"Was I not correct?" T'les said turning to Katan. He only smiled and nodded while taking her hand.
For the next hour, the Starfleet officers watched troops, equipment, and vehicles parade through Chancellor's Square and salute the reviewing stand. The announcer was sure to mention every capability each unit and piece of hardware had for destroying the enemies of the empire in a surreally upbeat tone. It was an unending stream of martial intimidation that merely made the Starfleet officers feel that what little stability the galaxy had left was fast slipping away.
Finally, at the conclusion of the parade, a squadron of four birds-of-prey appeared on the horizon. They screamed in at low altitude directly over Chancellor's Square and released bands of red, black, and gold smoke from their wingtips. The crowds on Qo'noS cheered the spectacular finale. The crowd on Earth was quiet. It was Phil that finally broke the silence.
"Captain Tigranian and Laria are never going to be able to come home are they?" he asked painfully.
"I don't think so, Son," Murphy replied softly. "I don't think so."
Annabeth reached out and grabbed Alex's hand again.
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
Munich, Germany: Earth
Later that evening, Annabeth sat in a rocking chair in Max's nursery. She held her son in her arms as she opened a picture book. After a long day, she just wanted a loving moment with her child.
"Are you ready for a story before bed time?" she cooed. Max bounced up and down and sucked on his pacifier. Annabeth laughed as he wiggled in his blue pajamas. She tussled his brown hair and then kissed the crown of his head.
"Ok," Annabeth said opening the brightly colored book.
"Bobby the Bunny's Space Trip by Dorothy Stevens," Annabeth read before turning to the first page. "Bobby the Bunny is from Earth, just like you," she read before pointing to the picture of a smiling cartoon rabbit. "But Bobby the Bunny wanted to visit his friends on other planets, so he built a starship in his backyard." Annabeth pointed to an image of Bobby the Bunny filling a homemade warp core with anti-matter. "That's probably not very safe, but ok…" Annabeth muttered to herself before pointing to the picture on the page. "Do you see how he put on a space suit? Look his helmet has floppy ears!" Annabeth said with a smile.
Max reached out his hands and touched the picture.
"Yeah!" Annabeth said lovingly before turning the page again. "First, Bobby the Bunny visited his friend, Sobal the Sehlet, on Vulcan. 'Peace and Long Life, Bobby the Bunny,' Sobal the Sehlet said to Bobby." Annabeth said in deep, unemotional voice before turning the page. "Next, Bobby the Bunny visited his friend, Athib the Alicorne, on Andoria. 'Greetings to you and your ancestors, Bobby the Bunny,' Athib the Alicorne said to Bobby." Annabeth said doing her best impression of Mr. Scharr. "See the ice, Max? It's very cold on Andoria, and the people are just as frigid," she said with a chuckle. Max shifted again and she bounced him on her knee as she turned the page. "Then, Bobby the Bunny visited his friend, Gallem the Gorbus, on Tellar Prime. 'Welcome and Friendship' Gallem the Gorbus said to Bobby the Bunny…" Annabeth said adding a Tellarite snort. Max laughed and buried his head into her chest. She smiled again.
Out in the kitchen, Alex was finishing putting the dishes into the replicator when the doorbell rang. She looked out over the counter.
"It's a little late…" she thought to herself as she walked up to the front door. She checked the security monitor. It was a Federation Parcel Service delivery man. Nervously, she opened the door. "Yes?" she asked.
"Good evening, Ma'am," he said with a smile. "Does Max Hunter-Geist live here?" Alex looked at him quizzically.
"Technically yes," she replied. "He's my son. He's not even one year old yet."
"Oh," he said pulling out his manifest PADD. "You'll have to sign for him then. It's a priority express shipment." He handed a large cardboard envelope to Alex. "Please sign here," he said holding up the PADD. Alex furrowed her brow as she touched her thumbprint to the screen. "You must have some interesting friends," he muttered with a chuckle.
"What makes you say that?" she asked defensively.
"Well," he said pointing to the customs sticker on the envelope. "It's not very often I deliver packages from Qo'noS. Have a good evening, Ma'am!" he said heading back towards the stairwell. She looked down and saw that the label was in Klingon. She immediately walked straight back into Max's nursery.
"Who was that, Babe?" Annabeth asked still holding Max in her lap.
"It was a delivery guy. Max got a package," she said holding up the envelope. "It's from Qo'noS."
Annabeth's eyes grew wide.
"I guess we should open it…" Annabeth said. Alex ripped it open. "What is it?" Annabeth asked as Alex reached inside and pulled out a book.
"It's just an old, worn-out kid's book…" Alex said confused.
"A kid's book?" Annabeth replied surprised. "Let me see it." Alex handed it to her.
"Klingons for Kids…" Annabeth whispered.
"There's a note," Alex said pulling a piece of folded paper out of the envelope.
"Read it please, Babe," Annabeth asked softly.
"nuqneH, Little Warrior," Alex began, "Glory and honor to you on this, the 122nd Day of Unity of the Klingon Empire." She paused. "It's just signed, 'Your Godfather.' Beth, do you know what this is about?"
"It's something very important to Dan," she said running her hand over the faded cover. Max reached out and touched the cartoon warrior scowling with a bat'leth in his hand. "If he couldn't be here in person to share what this day means to him with Max, he wanted to send something to do it for him."
"I still don't understand, Beth," Alex said shaking her head.
"I don't think we have to," Annabeth replied. "We just have to do what's right…" she whispered. "Well, Kleiner Mann," Annabeth said with a smile turning to her son, "I think we have time for one more book before bed."
She opened it to the first page and began to read while Alex looked on:
"Klingons come from the Planet Qo'noS. It is across the galaxy very far away. Klingons are strong and brave. They fight for their empire, their families, and their honor…"
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.