Summary: As Rellas and Valaa prepare for the final showdown with Shinzon, the Gralluscan asks a favor of Tigranian. Meanwhile, the Federation celebrates as a lost ship returns home from the Delta Quadrant.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Family, Friendship, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Character Death, Violence
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes
Word count: 10706 Read: 4057
Published: 04 Nov 2018 Updated: 04 Nov 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
Sector Z-6: Federation/Romulan Neutral Zone Border
Quiet Riot's T-Bat screamed along the border at full impulse. The spacecraft's dual engine exhaust glowed brightly against the Neutral Zone's black emptiness. They were almost halfway through a six hour security patrol and besides a few drifting hunks of ice and rock, there was absolutely nothing on long range sensors.
Soon, it would time to turn around and head back to their hanger on Starfleet Asteroid Outpost 5. Despite the austere conditions, they could at least look forward to a hot sonic shower and a few hours of watching SFN in front of the communal holoscreen. That precious device combined with the worn-out naugahyde chairs and the vomit-stained pool table were the only things that made the squadron day room livable. Well, those things and their "Top Gun" trophy proudly displayed in there for everyone to see. As a reward for coming in first in their class, their squadron commander even decreed that Quiet and Riot would have control of the holovision remote for the next year.
Quiet and Riot kept up a lively conversation to help pass the time. Of course, because of their telepathic connection, it was completely inside their heads:
"We should ask Commander Xorax if we can get a dog," Riot thought.
"A dog?" Quiet thought back at her. "Really?"
"Don't you like dogs?" Riot responded.
"I guess so, but of all the things we could ask the Commander for right now: a replicator where the Utaberry jam doesn't taste like sweaty feet, gym equipment that was made in this century. Hell, we could even ask him to have the pool table reupholstered…of all those fun possibilities, you want to push your luck on a dog?"
"Yeah, a dog," Riot shot back at her. "It could be like a squadron mascot. We could name him 'Astro' or 'Lieutenant Barker' or some other cute shit like that. It would be something for the whole squadron to rally around and share."
"First," Quiet thought while silently raising her hand for emphasis, "The squadron could easily rally around and share a new pool table. Well, except for the asshole who puked on the last one, but that was a long time ago. Second, who is gonna take care of this dog? Feed it? Walk it? Pick up after it? No amount of squadron pride in the galaxy is gonna make me put an inside out plastic bag on my hand and pick up a steaming dog turd."
"For the right dog, you'd pick a turd up bare handed. Trust me. You'll love him."
"We are not asking for a dog!"
Suddenly, Riot's sensor console chimed to life.
"Looks like we got a border runner," she thought adjusting her instruments. "Contact 124 Mark 423 Range 1.3 million nautical miles. I can't make it out clearly at this distance, but it looks like a small Romulan ship just decloaked and is about to cross into Fed space."
"They never learn!" Quiet shouted in her skull while rolling her eyes. "Alright, adjusting course to intercept. Bringing the weapons and defensive systems online. Estimate four minutes out."
"It's not all bad," Riot replied trying to look on the bright side. "At least we get to have a little fun. Would be even more fun if we had a dog to come back to afterwards… "
"WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR A DOG!"
"There it is," Riot thought looking off the starboard winglet of their T-Bat.
"I see 'em," Quiet replied bring the nose of their fighter around so they could get in firing position. She focused her eyes on the small green speck streaking across the blackness. "Correct me if your sensors say I'm wrong, but that just looks like a long range passenger shuttle."
"Your eyes and my sensors are in total agreement," Riot thought. "I'm not reading any offensive weapon systems. With these engine scans, I doubt that thing can do much better than Warp 3.5. Probably Warp 3 while cloaked."
"That's slower than the speed of smell…" Quiet muttered.
"Four life signs, all Romulan," Riot continued, "Definitely on our side of the border now. They're probably just lost tourists."
"Or spies," Quiet muttered.
"If they're spies trying to sneak across," Riot thought, "they're doing a pretty shitty job of it."
"In any case," Quiet answered, "they ain't supposed to be here and they're our problem now. Time for us to earn our paychecks."
"What paychecks?" Riot laughed inside her head. "You getting paid?"
The T-Bat's engines dramatically outperformed the shuttle. Within a few seconds, Quiet Riot zoomed right behind the Romulan craft's six-o'clock position. The ship didn't even try to run. It made Quiet Riot very nervous.
"Ok…" Quiet thought. "Time to show them we're serious about them going home." She brought her targeting reticle right onto the center of the hull plating and locked it up. A steady warning tone echoed through their helmets.
"You're on international hailing freq," Riot thought. "Time for your fun little spiel."
"Unidentifed Romulan vessel," Quiet said firmly into the subspace radio while reading off the Starfleet JAG reference card taped to her console. She hated having to be so formal. It made her feel like a cop. "Pursuant to Article VII, Section II of the Treaty of Algeron, I am identifying myself as a uniformed border patrol craft with the Starfleet of United Federation of Planets. At Time Index 34572.6, sensors indicated that you crossed the internationally recognized border of the Neutral Zone and entered Federation space. This is a violation of Article II, Section I of the above treaty. Holoimages are now being recorded of your vessel to be forwarded to both the Federation Diplomatic Corps and Romulan Embassy on Earth for possible criminal prosecution and/or civil action.
You will immediately alter your course to 214 Mark 123 and return to Romulan Space. I will escort you to the border. You have thirty seconds to comply or I am authorized to use lethal force."
Despite the lofty threats of interstellar maritime law, no ship ever faced real consequences for violating the Federation border. No matter how many times the Diplomatic Corps complained to the Romulan Foreign ministry, it was unofficial state policy to annoy and probe Starfleet. Every pilot that flew the Neutral Zone knew it. However, none of the violators ever wanted to get into an actual shooting match. Normally, this was the moment that Romulan ships turned tail and ran. This vessel, on the other hand, was still flying straight and level. Quiet Riot exchanged worried thoughts.
"Romulan vessel," Quiet spoke into the radio again. "You now have fifteen seconds to comply or I will use lethal force."
"No change to course or speed," Riot thought.
Quiet took a deep breath. She looked down and saw that her micro-torpedoes were hot in the launch tubes. She had never fired one in anger before but it seemed like that was about to change.
"Is he trying to commit suicide?" Riot thought desperately. "They're not even trying to evade."
"Romulan vessel," Quiet tried one final time. "You now have five seconds to comply…"
"Q!" Riot thought out. "They're hailing us and requesting visual communications."
"What?" Quiet thought back surprised.
"You can see out of my eyes, Brain Buddy," Riot thought. "Look at my screen."
"I see it," Quiet thought. "Ok, put them through."
Quiet and Riot's tactical displays both transformed into tiny viewscreens at the flick of a switch. They gasped when they saw an unshaven Romulan man staring back at them from the shuttle's helm. An exhausted woman was seated next to him. Two frightened Romulan girls were huddled in the aft section.
"Federation spacecraft," the man spoke with a drained voice. "My name is Marsus Trallian. Until three weeks ago, I was a Romulan senator and member of the Continuing Committee of the Star Empire. We are not returning to Romulan space. As you can see, I have innocent women and children aboard. DO NOT FIRE. My family and I request assistance."
"Um…" Quiet stammered furiously flipping through her JAG rules of engagement reference cards looking for a situation even remotely similar to this. "Mr. Trallian, what kind of assistance do you require?"
"I need you to help me contact either General Daniel, Son of Tigranian from the Klingon Defense Force or the Federation starship, USS Pershing. Respond please."
"YOU GOTTA BE SHITTING ME!" Quiet and Riot both thought as one.
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
Club Goruq: Shung'Nak System, Klingon Empire
The sparkling backdrop at the rear of the art deco revival stage read, "The Marvelous Morka" in glitter-covered pIqaD. A Pheben woman wrapped in a tight, black-sequined cocktail dress slithered out seductively into the single spotlight. Her three eyes were ringed with golden mascara and her mouth silt was painted with red lipstick. The crowds sitting around the candlelit tables below went wild with applause as waiters and waitresses ferried plates of expensive delicacies from across the galaxy. The finest Earth Champagne, the choicest Aldebaran whiskey, and the rarest Romulan kali-fal flowed from the bar by the case.
Morka waved at her adoring fans one final time before wrapping her tentacles around the silver microphone stand. Then, she turned one of her tubular eyestalks towards the orchestra pit. With a wink to the conductor, the brass band started an upbeat tune. Right on cue, she started singing with a perfect ragtime harmony:
Cha'Hu'pu' law' paSlogh legh maw maH.
'ach DaH Quch maH je yepHa' Sov qeylIS, chaw' Hoch.
She seductively pulled the leg slit of her dress open and slithered out a silk-stocking covered tentacle. The crowd went wild again.
Through the glass window of the formal dining room above, Laria watched the musical display from Tigranian's side. She was dressed in a traditional golden silk kamakha and her husband was in black formal armor. The Bajoran and human sat in stark contrast to the other couples seated around the long table draped with red table cloth imported all the way from the Emirate of Orion
These Klingons didn't wear armor or weapons. They didn't drape themselves with medals, sashes, or baldrics. Instead, these men were dressed in crisply pressed dinner jackets and finely tailored tuxedos. The women wore 500,000 darsek evening gowns made from Tholian silk or Breen Satin. For the price of one of their shoes, Lady Elessa could exempt every single tenet farmer on the family estate from a year of rent. The amount of money sitting around this table was obscene enough to make the Ferengi Grand Negus blush. These were the oligarchs of the Klingon Empire, and they made Laria very uncomfortable.
The wealthiest couple of them all were seated at the head of the table: Goruq, Son of Talz and his wife, Riska. They owned Goruq Intergalactic Limited: a holding company that had its claws in almost every for profit endeavor in the Klingon Empire. This included the nightclub they were currently sitting in. The richest Great Houses in the empire had a few billion darseks to their name. The House of Goruq had trillions.
"Why are we here again?" Laria whispered in Tigranian's ear as waiters cleared the last of the dinner bowls from the table. They spoke Federation standard to keep the others from understanding.
"Because Goruq invited Lord Torlek and Lady Elessa, and neither wanted to come. I'm the younger brother, so it fell to us," he replied. Another waiter placed a pair of Andorian snow china cups in front of them filled with gourmet raktajino hand-picked from Qo'noS' southern rainforests.
"Is that all?" Laria said skeptically raising her eyebrows. Tigranian sighed.
"Goruq's freighter fleet carries all the KDF supplies from the empire to Cardassian Space. The contract is up for renegotiation next month. I think he believes that if he wines and dines the right people, he can convince the High Council to raise its offer by a few billion.
Ever since Chancellor Martok's reforms two years ago, these people have the High Council's House of Commons bought and paid for. However, they still need the upper House of Lords to grant their ascent. Hence, all this,"Tigranian said pointing to the opulence around them.
Laria scowled. She knew that, despite their wealth, merchants had always been considered the lowest social caste in the Klingon Empire. By the nature of their affairs, they weren't concerned with Kahless' martial virtues, merely with the acquisition of comfort and money. As a result, businesspeople were considered beneath everyone else who provided services to others. This included farmers, restauranteurs, trash collectors, and even legal advocates.
Space travel had changed everything. The priests of the state religion always declared merchants too impure to possess a piece of Mother Qo'noS. Only noble houses could own land on the homeworld. Then, the landlords would rent it out to tenets as they saw fit. However, that restriction was not extended to subject worlds.
Over the centuries, merchants traveled out into the stars and bought huge tracts on every alien world they landed on. The shipping hub planet of Shung'Nak in the Tau Dewa sector had become their crown jewel. Klingon ideals of warrior asceticism and stoic discipline didn't apply here. Every corner of this planet, from the gourmet restaurants to the palatial homes, was dedicated to showcasing absolute wealth and luxury.
Yet, just because merchants were reviled, didn't mean they weren't necessary. An uneasy symbiosis had developed over the centuries between the ruling warrior caste and the oligarchs. The merchants needed the Klingon Defense Force to keep the shipping lanes open and the High Council to pass laws favorable to their business practices. The warrior caste needed the merchants to finance the shipyards, banks, and credit lines that kept the Klingon economy solvent. Very few noble houses had the liquid currency necessary to purchase their warships and equip their soldiers without applying for loans. Not surprisingly, these often came at exorbitant interest rates. Even the House of Torlek had run into trouble during the downturn of the late 23rd century. It was only Torlek's meteoric rise through the officer ranks and Lady Elessa's keen management that finally pulled the family out of a pattern of unsustainable debt.
"I don't really feel comfortable here, Daniel," Laria whispered again. "I'd like to leave as soon as we can."
"It should only be another hour or two,"Tigranian replied while placing a calming hand on the small of her back. "They want the folks with knives out of there playground as soon as possible too."
"Please Lord and Lady Tigranian," Riska called out from the head of the table in tlhIngan Hol. "You're our guests of honor. There's no need to speak in foreign tongues here. We're all Klingons, aren't we?" she said with a laugh filled with condescension.
"My apologies, Mrs. Goruq," Tigranian replied. "Lady Laria was merely remarking on the atmosphere of your fine establishment."
"I'm sure she was…" Riska muttered.
Laria looked over at their hostess and immediately regretted it. Riska was wearing a moderngown of cream colored Tholian silk. Her body was absolutely dripping with jewelry: latinum, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires glittered from her fingers, wrists, neck, and ears. However, the woman didn't take her eyes off the Bajoran's forehead. Laria was wearing a golden tiara bearing the crest of House Torlek. Since she was a commoner, Riska wasn't permitted to wear one. She could buy a planet, but her money still couldn't buy a title. It made the Klingon woman bitterly jealous.
"Lady Laria," Riska said taking a delicate sip of her coffee, "it must be very difficult for you to adjust to life among the Klingon nobility. All the traditions and customs must seem very unfamiliar to a woman from the Federation, no?"
Laria narrowed her gaze and stared right back at her.
"Mrs. Goruq, why exactly do you ask that of me and not Lord Daniel?"
"Oh, come now. We both know that Klingon warrior men have it much simpler than women do. They just have to know which direction to point their disruptors. Women constantly must prove how they deserve to be where they are…"
"Riska…" Goruq cautioned under his breath. His concern had nothing to do with Laria's feelings. He was simply worried that his wife's jibes were complicating his imminent deal.
"You are correct, Madam," Laria said more haughtily than she expected. "However, despite my humble beginnings, I have yet to meet a challenge I have not conquered. There's a reason why some women earn a tiara and others don't."
Riska's nose flared with obvious disdain.
"Laria…" Now it was Tigranian's turn to advise caution. They were, of course, completely within their rights to kill every unpleasant person at this table. However, killing a commoner with as much influence as these could still come with more complications than he wanted to deal with.
"Cigars and cigarettes for the ladies? YIvjebol for the gentlemen?" said a female attendant who walked into the dining room with a silver tray of assorted after-dinner tobacco products. There were several Darian cedar boxes with cigars of different size and vintages. A golden case held expensive, hand-rolled cigarettes from the Ytrias system. A platinum bowl was filled to the brim with fine, Klingon chewing tobacco.
The attendant walked over to the Tigranians and offered them first pick. Laria immediately waved the selections away. Tigranian longingly eyed the yIvjebol, but politely declined as Laria was seated right next to him. Then, the attendant made her way around the table to the other guests. Most of the women selected a cigar or cigarette while the men took a pinch from the chewing tobacco. Another attendant followed right behind with a cigar cutter and burning cedar strips to light the women's stogies. A waiter appeared and distributed small, silver spittoons to each of the men.
Finally, the attendant reached the Goruqs. The husband took his yIvjebol while Riska selected a cigarette. She took out a long, slender holder made from polished sabre bear ivory. Laria highly doubted the posh woman hunted that particularly dangerous animal herself.
Riska placed the holder in her teeth. Her attendant gently placed a cigarette in the end and lit it with a silver table lighter.
"It's quite funny," Riska mused before blowing two puffs of smoke out of her nostrils, "Lord and Lady Tigranian have faced so many dangerous opponents in the name of our empire. Ye, they are both intimidated by a few burning leaves…"
The other guests all laughed at the quip. Laria gritted her teeth.
"HIghoS," Laria said waving for the tobacco attendant to return. The woman presented the tray to Laria who selected an aged Qo'noS Hov Chu'Cha'el Special Reserve: the largest, most expensive, and most potent cigar on the entire tray. The other women at the table murmured skeptically. For a Bajoran of Laria's petit size, a smoke like that could easily put her on the floor.
"What are you doing?" Tigranian whispered nervously as the attendant skillfully cut the cigar's end and presented it Laria. "You don't smoke. Those aren't for beginners."
"DabuQlu'DI' yISuv, Daniel," Laria said as the attendant held up a burning strip of Darian cedar. Laria tried to remember how Lady Elessa managed to light her cigars. She leaned forward, placed the tip of the roll into the flame, and confidently turned it in her fingers while sucking in a few deep breaths. Then, she leaned back in her chair and stared right into Riska's gaze. Laria blew a huge puff of smoke right across the table in her direction.
"You have no idea what it takes to intimidate me," Laria grinned while rolling the cigar in between her index and middle fingers, "but you're welcome to keep trying."
The other guests gasped with muted astonishment. Riska was about to offer a retort when Tigranian's aide-de-camp suddenly walked through the door and handed the general a PADD.
Tigranian read a few lines of the dispatch before climbing to his feet.
"We have to go," he said firmly to Laria. "Something has come up."
She put her cigar in an ashtray and jumped to her feet. A noble lady rising obligated the other guests in the room to stand as well. Suddenly, Laria's head started spinning from the rush of the Chu'Cha'el's nicotine. She grabbed the edge of the table and steadied herself.
"Are you alright?" Tigranian whispered.
"I'm fine…" Laria said as she took a deep breath and did her best to follow her husband towards the doors without falling over.
"Lord Daniel!" Goruq said desperately. "We haven't had a chance to discuss the freighter contract yet. I regret if there were any 'misunderstandings'," he said flashing an annoyed glance at Riska, "but if I could just have a few more minutes of your time…"
"I'm afraid not," Tigranian said cutting him off and holding up the PADD. "A matter of state security has arisen that is far more important than your freighter contract. Besides, I, nor my brother, sit on the High Council. Perhaps your…hospitality…would be better spent on the lords that do."
"I told you we should have invited the House of Kahnrah instead…" Riska muttered. Goruq slammed his fist onto the table right in front of her.
"However," Tigranian added. "I may inform Chancellor Martok that the House of Goruq is forgetting that money alone does not make one worthy of respect in the Klingon Empire. Perhaps, if he gives the freighter contract to someone else, your family may remember that," Tigranian saidglancing towards Goruq's wife. "Qapla'."
As the lord and lady exited the dining room, "The Marvelous Morka" was just finishing her set. More thunderous applause echoed from the well-lubricated audience.
"I shouldn't have permitted her speak to you in such a way," he said as they walked down the Vulcan fire marble stairs towards the club's entrance. "It doesn't matter if they own half the Klingon Empire, she's still beneath us."
"She's not beneath us, Daniel," Laria said as her head pounded. "Riska's just insecure. Without our titles, we still have honor. Without her money, she has nothing." She then turned to Tigranian. "That message has something to do with the rebels, doesn't it?"
"How did you know?" Tigranian asked surprised.
"Something in the tone of your voice," Laria replied. Then, she started swaying as the room spun out of her control.
"Are you sure you're fine?" Tigranian said nervously as a pair of Ferasans in livery held the club's main doorway open for them. "You don't look fine."
Oh Prophets," Laria said quickly putting her hand over her mouth. "I'm going to be sick."
"For your honor and mine, please don't throw up until we get back to the ship…"
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Starfleet Asteroid Outpost 5: Sector Z-6, Federation/Romulan Neutral Zone Border
The IKS nentay joined the Pershing in orbit of a rocky, airless asteroid drifting along the edge of the Neutral Zone. Tigranian and Laria appeared on the transporter pad in the outpost's main hanger. They had barely rematerialized when the harsh shrill of a bosun's whistle echoed through the room.
"Attention on Deck!" a Bolian commander in a flight suit shouted to an assembled formation of pilots, support personnel and maintenance crew. "General Daniel, Son of Tigranian, on behalf of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet, the 46th Neutral Zone Strategic Interceptor Squadron welcomes you to Outpost Station 5!" the officer shouted. "Computer, play Four Ruffles and Flourishes!"
Immediately, the bombastic tones of a military brass band thundered out of the hanger's speaker system. This peace of ceremonial music had been played to render honors to visiting senior flag officers since before there was a United Earth. Tigranian cursed to himself and Laria took a deep breath. She knew her husband would consider this formal reception an unpleasant reminder of how Starfleet had publicly drummed him out, but now was obligated by diplomatic protocol to stand at attention and salute him. Quite frankly, it would be easier if they just ignored him.
As soon as the music stopped, Tigranian charged off the pad.
"Sir, my name is Commander Puzko Xorax. I'm the commander of the 46th and this station…"
"Commander," Tigranian said as he brusquely marched right past with Laria HoD at his side, "I appreciate the effort you all went through to put this reception together, but I'm not here for pleasantries. Dismiss your squadron and take me to him."
"Well, yes Sir," Xorax said nervously, "it's just…"
"Just what, Commander?" Tigranian said as his annoyance rose. "I travelled a very long way to get here and I don't have time for ridiculous formalities."
"Sir," Xorax continued, "we don't have a lot of dedicated security personnel on this station. We're only a border outpost. Captain Geist and the crew of the Pershing have taken over this operation. I signaled her right before you arrived and she's on her way to meet you.
I asked how we could be of assistance, and she told me to handle receiving you. I thought that this would be the most appropriate. I apologize if I offended you."
Tigranian looked over at the squadron in formation. The assemblage stared back with a mix of curiosity, anger, and disgust. All of them knew he was a former Starfleet captain. All knew he had been stripped of his uniform. Now, Tigranian also realized he was giving them all an excuse to hate him.
The general suddenly felt very small. His conflicted feelings about Starfleet aside, these men and women were just doing their job. They had no choice but to be here, and they especially didn't deserve hostility for it.
"Laria HoD," he said looking over his shoulder. "Order the nentay to fire four flares in salute of the outpost."
"jIyaj, joHwI," she nodded.
As she turned away to speak into her communicator, Tigranian turned to the formation.
"On behalf of your allies in the Klingon Empire," he said loudly enough for all to hear, "I commend you all for your dedication to preserving the security of the quadrant. Glory to you and your squadron," Tigranian added. Then, he pulled the crest of the Klingon Defense Forces off his baldric and handing it to Xorax. "Commander, please accept this as a token of the continued cooperation between our two nations. Qapla'."
"Thank you, General," Xorax said accepting it. "It's been a very good month for us. I assure you, this will have a place of honor next to the trophy we just brought back from Tellar Prime."
"Trophy from Tellar Prime?" Tigranian asked curiously. "You don't mean the 'Top Gun' trophy do you?"
"Yes Sir!" Xorax said proudly indicating two women in the front rank. "Lieutenant Vaace and Rel here are the top fighter pilots in the Federation." Quiet and Riot both smiled and nodded towards Tigranian.
"Ha!" Tigranian thought to himself. "Phil must be pissed at you two."
Suddenly, the smiles on Quiet and Riot's faces instantly disappeared.
"Oh dear," Tigranian thought. "You're both from Betazed, aren't you?"
Quiet and Riot nodded in unison.
"Congratulations…" he thought apologetically.
"General!" a voice called out from the back of the hanger. Tigranian looked up to see Annabeth moving briskly towards them with Katie at her side.
"If you'll excuse us, Commander," Tigranian said before motioning to Laria. The Klingon officers walked straight up to the captain and her security chief.
"Captain, Lieutenant," Tigranian said formally addressing Annabeth and Katie.
"If you'll come with us, please," Annabeth replied.
As soon as the Tigranians were out of sight of the station's personnel, they threw their arms around their old shipmates.
"Katie!" Laria said squeezing her tightly.
"By Kahless, it's good to see you Annabeth," Tiganian smiled as he gave Annabeth a hug. "You too, Katie," Tigranian said moving to Katie next.
"We've missed you," Laria said moving to Annabeth.
"And we've missed you," Annabeth replied. "I just wish it didn't always have to involve a Romulan connection."
"Where is Trallian?" Tigranian asked.
"This way," Annabeth said leading them down a corridor towards the habitat section of the base. "He refused to talk to anyone before you showed up. I don't think he really trusts anybody."
"He has his wife and daughters with him," Laria said. "I wouldn't either."
"I wanted to move him and his family to the Pershing," Annabeth continued, "but Starfleet Command doesn't want him on a Federation starship because of some treaty stipulation. As long as he remains in 'detention status' at a border station, the Diplomatic Corps can do some kind of legal maneuvers to keep the Romulans from immediately requesting him back."
"Bureaucracy…wonderful," Tigranian said sarcastically.
"Starfleet Intelligence is sending a special collection team all the way from Earth to interrogate them," Annabeth continued. "Admiral Yoshizaki said to watch them all like a Tarkalean hawk."
"I've got twelve security officers and the entire Marine detachment guarding this place," Katie said. "No Romulan's taking those folks out of here without a fight."
The officers rounded a corner towards the only set of guest quarters. Two marines with phasers were pulling security while their detachment commander made notes in his log.
"Well I'll be damned!" Sergeant Irabban shouted out when she saw Tigranian and Laria with Captain Geist. "Welcome back to the Fed, Sir. That's a badass beard," she added admiring his facial hair.
"It's great to see you again, Captain Tigranian," Corporal Tolmeni said adjusting his grip on his rifle. "Gym's not the same without you anymore."
"General Tigranian!" Irabban corrected him.
"Actually, it's technically General Daniel, Son of Tigranian," he chuckled, "but I'll give you both a pass this time."
His old marines' friendly faces were a welcome sight after the awkwardness with Xorax's squadron.
"Detachment, Attention!" Lieutenant Brett Hawkins said snapping a crisp salute. "General, Fleet Captain, Good morning," he said acknowledging Laria and Tigranian.
"Carry on," Tigranian said returning to the salute with a smile. "Glad to see Lady Blackjack's trigger pullers are on this job."
"You know it, Sir," Irabban said with a wink.
"Just who the hell did you bribe to get buck sergeant's stripes, Rab?" Tigranian said crossing his klongat fur-covered arms across his leather cuirass.
"She actually earned them, Sir," Hawkins chuckled. "She's really stepped up in the last few months."
"Making training schedules, running basic phaser rifle qual, going over the entire detachment's counseling packets…twice," Irabban said counting on her fingers. "I'm really doing the work of a staff sergeant. Maybe I should get a dot to go with these stripes?" she said pointing to the enlisted rank badge on her collar.
"Sergeant First Class Schultz wants to make sure you can handle E5 first and I agree with him," Hawkins replied with a smirk.
Tigranian laughed again.
"How's the fiancée doing, Brett?" he asked.
"Zhenia's doing great…" Hawkins said uncomfortably rubbing the back of his neck.
"Do I detect a little trouble in paradise?" Laria asked.
"Well, it's just that Zhenia has her heart set on a traditional Andorian outdoor wedding…in winter," he said with a deep sigh. "My family's from Texas where anything below five degrees centigrade is a state of emergency. That ain't gonna work."
"Make sure you send us an invitation," Laria said. "After being on Cardassia Prime for a year, I'd love to see some snow."
"Happy wife, happy life, Brett," Annabeth said. "Give out long underwear in the welcome baskets."
"Words to live by, Hawk. How's the security plan going?" Katie said getting back to business.
"I got the detachment on rotation switching positions randomly every forty-five minutes to an hour and a half so we don't have an observable pattern," Hawkins explained. "Two guards at the front door, two guards roving the interior of the station, and two guards in EV suits walking the asteroid surface to make sure we don't get any visitors coming in from space. I'm done checking here. Next, I'm gonna suit up and check on the team out in vacuum."
"We don't want to hold you up. Tell your platoon they're doing great things," Annabeth said.
"Thank you, Ma'am, and it's really good to see you, Sir. You too, Ma'am," he said to Tigranian and Laria before walking off towards the airlock.
"I want you in there with us," Tigranian said to Annabeth. "I don't know what he and his family want and I can't speak for Starfleet anymore."
"Alright," Annabeth agreed. "Katie, stay out in the hall. I'll let you know if we need something."
"Oh no," Katie said shaking her head. "I'm your Chief of Security and I'm not risking sending my captain alone into a room filled with Romulans and unknown intentions," she said patting the hand phaser on her waist. "Especially, considering I'm also currently responsible for the welfare of two senior Klingon officers as well."
"Katie," Annabeth said putting her hands on her hips. "It's one Romulan man, a woman, and two kids under ten years. The situation is tense enough. More armed security is not going to help."
"You two," Katie said pointing to Irabban and Tolmeni, "Put on some earmuffs!"
"We don't hear a damn thing, Ma'am," Irabban muttered as she and Tolmeni averted their gaze in opposite directions down the corridor.
"That Romulan man is as strong as the three of you combined," Katie said firmly, "his wife could break your neck with one hand, and a Romulan eight year old can still bench-press seventy kilos. You don't like it, take it up with Starfleet Security Regulations 117 through 124, Ma'am. The book backs me up here. You can court martial me if you want, but I'm going in there with you."
Then, she suddenly turned to Tigranian and Laria. "And you two, don't give me any of that Klingon warrior machismo crap either. I've known both of you long enough to understand trouble follows you like a lost puppy."
"I guess it's settled then," Tigranian said sarcastically shrugging his shoulders. "Katie's with us." Laria laughed while Annabeth rolled her eyes.
"After you, Ladies and Gentleman," Katie said inputting her access code and unlocking the door.
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
The room was dim. Most of the illumination came from the stars sparkling in through the panoramic, transparent aluminum window. Trallian's wife stood staring out at the far-off points of light. Tigranian knew she was trying to find Romulus in the blackness. He had done the same with Earth during his exile. The two daughters ran and grabbed the edges of their mother's robes when they saw the strangers walk into the room. Neither of them made a sound. In fact, everything was eerily quiet.
Laria noticed how she guarded the girls like a Sabre bear watching her cubs. The Bajoran's instincts told her that this woman could be very dangerous if provoked, especially since she kept one eye on a teral'n leaning against the far bulkhead.
Trallian was seated alone in the middle of the room. He stared off into a replicated glass of kali-fal.
"I knew you'd come," he said forcing a grin across haggard face. "Even though I may not agree with all your beliefs, you're a man of your word…just like Rellas." He turned to look at the Klingon jenSa'. "You both were really perfect for each other. I salute you.
Trallian raised his glass and took a sip of the blue liquor. Then, his face immediately contorted with disgust.
"This is really what Terrans think Romulan Ale tastes like? Anyone who thinks this forgery is passable is no Romulan at all!"
"There's a reason why smuggling it is the most common misdemeanor in the Federation," Tigranian said cautiously keeping his distance. "Personally, I never cared for the drink that much."
Trallian laughed as he put the glass on the coffee table.
"I don't remember you being this reticent the last time we met, Son of Tigranian. Is it possible that putting on a Klingon uniform has actually made you more timid?"
Tigranian growled with annoyance. It made Trallian chuckle again.
"You really are like Rellas," Trallian mused. "Any challenge to your honor and you feel the need to puff your chest out." He turned to Laria. "And you must be Lady Laria. We didn't have the pleasure of meeting before when the Pershing was in the Pomparath Nebula like Captain Geist and Lieutenant Stone here." He suddenly snapped his fingers. "My apologies, like 'Lieutenant Lexington' here. I tried explaining to her that she doesn't need the phaser, but I admire her sense of duty. She brings it back every time."
He then turned back to the Bajoran warrior and rose to his feet.
"You caused quite a stir in the Romulan upper class when you beheaded Lady Selonia. For that, I salute you as well. However, I won't do it with poorly replicated kali-fal. We'll just settle for a hand-shake." He said holding out his palm.
"Senator Trallian," Laria replied politely shaking back.
"As I must constantly explain," he said shrugging his shoulders, "I'm not a Senator anymore." Trallian gestured to his wife and daughters. "May I introduce my wife, Lady Samilla and our daughters, Sevon and Sepina."
Samilla managed a polite nod, but Sevon and Sepina continued to hide in their mother's skirts.
"You certainly seem to know quite a lot about about us, Lord Trallian," Laria said. "We wish we could say the same about you and your fine family. One month, you're sitting on the Continuing Committee in Ki-Baratan and the next you're here with us in the Federation."
"A Romulan survives on his ability to know as much information as possible," Trallian countered. "I failed in my duty. Luckily for us, Rellas and his followers did not."
"Trallian, what happened?" Tigranian finally asked outright.
"Isn't it obvious, General? Semachs found out I was passing information to the rebels and he sent his thugs to come kill us," Trallian replied. "Rellas' followers arrived at my villa in the nick of time. Then, they all sacrificed their lives to help us escape!"
He kicked the sofa out of frustration. His strength sent it skittering two meters across the carpet. Katie slowly reached for her phaser but a furtive hand from Annabeth stayed her. Tigranian shut his eyes tightly as Trallian collapsed back down into a chair and buried his head hands.
"Twice! Twice now my incompetence has taken lives! The disaster at Pomparath was bad enough, but now it has also cost the blood and freedom of my own villa's workers. They wanted nothing else but to live in peace. JUST TO LIVE!
Now, they either lay dead or in one of the Tal Shiar prisons being tortured and interrogated for information they don't know. I could live another two-hundred years and every single day I will think of nothing else…"
Tigranian opened his eyes.
"Was Rellas killed or captured?" the general asked.
"Neither," Trallian scoffed. "Once again, the Gralluscan's faith in your Kahless was rewarded. He and one of his other soldiers, an Orion woman he called Valaa, survived. They found us the shuttle we escaped in."
"Where is he? Do you know?" Tigranian said with hope.
"They're on their way to the Hobus system to finish what you both started."
"I've never heard of it," Tigranian said turning back to Annabeth and Laria. Both of them shrugged in ignorance as well.
"I'm not surprised," Trallian explained. "It's completely uninhabited."
"Then why go there?" Annabeth asked.
"What I'm about to tell you," Trallian said forcefully, "is OFF the record. No Starfleet or Klingon Imperial Intelligence involvement. Rellas' only chance to get out of there alive is if no one else gets involved. Do you understand?"
Annabeth and Tigranian both nodded.
"Semachs has transformed the Reman Imperial Auxiliary into his own private militia. They act on his personal authority alone. The praetor, the senate, and even the Continuing Committee have all lost all control of the Star Empire."
"Mein Gott…" Annabeth said. "If he threatens war with us again, they'll be no one to stop him."
"More than that, Captain. Something else is going on I don't think Semachs comprehends: something very dangerous," Trallian continued. "The Reman's leader, a general named Shinzon, is embezzling resources and currency from the Imperial Treasury in a level never seen before in Romulan history. Semachs doesn't care as long as his power is protected, but the Remans are up to something at Hobus. Rellas and Valaa went to investigate. Whatever it is, I want to be a long way from Romulus when his true intentions are revealed." He managed a chuckle. "Maybe this is all actually a blessing from the gods," he muttered.
Laria looked over to Samilla and the girls. Trallian's moods and dire predictions weren't doing much to calm their nerves. The Bajoran suddenly walked over and looked down to Sevon and Sepina. Both of them tightly gripped their mother's hands.
"They've never seen a person dressed in Klingon armor before," Samilla explained still skeptical of Laria's intentions.
"Hello, my name is Laria," she said softly. "I know what it's like to be afraid. I know what it's like to leave the only home you've ever known. When I was younger than you, I had to run away too. But, you're lucky. You're sisters, and you'll take care of each other. I promise things will be okay."
Sevon stared for a few moments at the house crest branded into Laria's arm. She studied the sharp lines of Laria's armor, and looked into the Bajoran's eyes as if she was searching for something familiar. Finally, she asked a question so quietly it was barely above a whisper:
"Are you still scared?"
"I was for a very long time," Laria replied. "But then I decided not to be afraid anymore."
"How did you do that?" Sevon said.
"I learned to use this." She pulled out her d'k tahg, clicked open the blades, and flipped it around so that the little Romulan could touch its handle.
Sevon slowly reached out and pressed her fingers against the krencha skin handle. Sepina, bolstered by her sister's confidence, reached out and touched the weapon as well.
"Is this Klingon too?" Sevon asked.
"It is," Laria said. "It's called a d'k tahg. This one is very special. My Klingon mother gave it to me on my wedding day."
"You have a Klingon mother?" Sepina asked surprised.
"I do," Laria grinned back. "And I have two Bajoran mothers," Laria laughed thinking back to her conversation with Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine's promenade. She clicked her d'k tahg shut and returned it to the sheath.
"When I'm old enough," Sevon said finding the courage in her tiny body. "My mother is going to teach me how to use that," she said pointing to the far wall. "It's called a teral'n."
Laria quickly drew in a sharp breath as she remembered her battle with Selonia on Dacen Prime.
"That looks frightening," Laria said back to Sevon.
'It's not frightening to me," Sevon replied. "It's the weapon my mother used to fight the bad people. She made them go away."
"That's good. Practice hard with that teral'n. Then, one day, you'll be the ones making the bad people go away. Qapla'."
"What does that word mean?" Sepina asked. "I heard Rellas say it too."
"It means I think you're both very brave and I wish you the best, Lady Sevon and Lady Sepina."
"Qapla'," both girls said back to her in unison. Samilla looked at Laria with deep gratitude.
"Do you intend to stay in this country?" Tigranian asked the Trallians.
"Of course not," Samilla scoffed. "We would never be able to live in peace here."
"Can you imagine a family of former Romulan nobles trying to survive in the Federation?" Trallian added.
Tigranian looked over to his wife and remembered their conversation outside of Club Goruq. Then, he looked back to Trallian.
"Others can take titles like 'Senator' or 'Lord' or even 'Captain' from you," he explained, "but to have nobility is a choice that you make every day."
Trallian contemplated those words for a few moments. Then, he stood up, drew a PADD from his robes, and held it out towards Tigranian.
"Before we left Romulus, Rellas requested I give you this. I don't know what message it contains, but I do know it will probably be the last thing he ever asks of either of us."
The general solemnly accepted it with an understanding nod.
"We sail for Subik in one hour," Tigranian said. "Be prepared to beam aboard the nentay then."
"We'll be ready," Trallian replied.
The Tigranians turned and exited to the corridor. Annabeth and Katie were right behind.
"Starfleet Intelligence is gonna be pretty pissed that you took him before they arrived," Annabeth said. "What should I tell them?"
"Tell them that it's all Tigranian's fault," he responded. "That excuse seems to work pretty well of late."
Laria laughed. Annabeth and Katie rubbed their eyes.
"Besides," Tigranian continued, "right now he's just a man trying to take of his family. The Trallians need to be worrying about making a new life in the Klingon Empire, not about answering questions from random intelligence officers who want to exploit them."
"As a Starfleet Officer," Annabeth said, "I have to officially protest. However, as a wife and mother, I say 'right on.'"
"IT'S A GODDAMN MIRACLE!" a crewmember screamed from around a bend in the corridor.
"What's the news saying?" a maintenance tech shouted as a trio of enlisted personnel sprinted towards the station day room.
"I don't know. Bailey just told me that they just interrupted programming on all the SFN channels to talk about it."
The Tigranians, Annabeth, and Katie all exchanged nervous looks. Then, they followed the crewmen towards the nearest holoscreen. When they arrived, everyone on the asteroid from Commander Xorax down to the lowest enlisted E-1 crewmen was crammed into the day room with their eyes glued to the glowing screen. Some were even standing on the vomit-stained pool table trying to get a better view.
"We're obviously going to be following this incredible story for a while," a news anchor said back in the Federation News Service Studios on Earth. "If you are just joining us, this happened twenty minutes ago less than one light year from the Sol System:"
The screen cut to a shot of space. A blue and white distortion opened and transformed into the massive maw of a transwarp aperture. A spherical Borg scout ship emerged from the conduit with an armada of Federation starships already in wait. The fleet opened fire with every weapon at its disposal, but the enemy ship continued slowly moving forward, seemingly unaffected by the sea of phaser beams and photon torpedo blasts.
The entrance to the transwarp conduit suddenly collapsed. Then, a series of blasts rocked the sphere. It seemed to explode from the inside out. Then, out of the flaming debris, an Intrepid class Federation starship flew out at full impulse straight into the arms of the friendly task force.
"That's impossible…" Laria said as her mouth fell open aghast.
"That can't be them, can it?" Katie asked turning to Annabeth.
"I think it is!" Annabeth said as her face lit up with delight. "Welcome Home, Girl."
"Once again," the anchor said as the screen but back to a shot of her in the studio, "The starship Voyager, lost in the Delta Quadrant over seven years ago has suddenly returned to the Federation, possibly with the help of the Borg. Could this be a peace initiative on the part of the Collective? Did Voyager somehow hijack their transwarp network?
We're still waiting on an official statement from Starfleet Command. However, the Federation Space Rescue Service is asking all civilian vessels to stay clear of the fleet's flight path until any possibility of Borg technological contamination is ruled out. Stay with us during our continuing coverage of 'Homecoming 2378.'
In the meantime, we're just receiving word that Voyager has just passed the Luna marker under Starfleet escort and is approaching Earth orbit. We take you now to the live feed from our local Earth affiliate KFNB's news shuttles:"
Voyager, surrounded by twenty Federation starships, silently slipped passed the moon and prepared for Earth orbit. Two impulse tugs approached the bow and signaled the starship to follow them towards a quarantined slipway near Starbase One.
"I would not want to be around Belen Tarn tonight," Annabeth chuckled. "Every other starship in Sector 001 got to shoot at a Borg cube and then escort the 'lost little lamb' home on national holovision. Meanwhile, the Nevsky is stuck inside space dock with a busted warp core. Not exactly a proud moment for 'Might of the Motherland.'"
"He should blame his chief engineer," Katie said with a raised eyebrow. "Almost makes up for the fact they screwed us into staying on the Neutral Zone for an extra month."
Annabeth, Katie, Laria, and the others were all transfixed by the news coverage. They didn't notice Tigranian slowly slip back out into the corridor. He took a deep breath. Then, he unlocked Rellas' PADD. The Gralluscan's face appeared and began a pre-recorded message:
"Son of Tigranian, if you're seeing this, it means that Trallian has found you. It seems that the war we started together on Dacen Prime is coming to an end. I don't know if it changed anything. Romulus still stands and millions are still enslaved. However, I have to believe that what we did mattered. Even if only so our belief in freedom lives on, it must matter.
Most of my followers have travelled across the River of Blood. Shortly, I will join them. However, Son of Tigranian, the man that first brought the Light of Kahless into my life, I charge you with one final task, Klingon warrior to Klingon warrior:
Tell our story. Tell people how we lived. Tell them how we died. Tell them to remember us. Qapla', my brother, and farewell…"
The recording ended.
Tigranian saw the other files on the device: holophotos: hundreds and hundreds of holophotos. Each one showed the faces of the men and women who fought with Rellas. There were faces from the very beginning on Dacen all the way to just before the Battle of the Villa Tralliakii.
Tigranian put a hand over his face as he looked through the images and read each caption:
"Onorok Trains New Recruits"
"Valaa and Tarko Share Their Moonshine on Daxos IV."
"Seebo and Gras Clean Weapons on Viochin."
Finally, Tigranian reached the final file. It was a list of almost two thousand names: every single person that took up arms with Rellas was there. Tigranian managed to read the first few, but had to stop as raw emotions finally overtook him. The Imperial jenSa' of Cardassia snuck into a nearby broom closet and burst into tears. He knew exactly why Rellas had given him this. It was a Klingon proverb older than Kahless the Unforgettable himself:
"Suv'wI yIn pongchaj jatlhtaH."
"A warrior lives as long as their name is spoken."
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Four Days Later:
Eight Light Years from Subik IV: Klingon Frontier
The Trallian family was safely delivered into the waiting arms of Lady Lucretia. The outspoken elder Elohsian was pleased to see her old comrade from the Soldiers of Akarath still alive and well. She was even more pleased to have another soul on Subik IV who had experience with agricultural planning. She was tired of having to request hand-outs from the Klingon central government. She wanted Subik IV to be considered equal with the other Imperial colonies. To do that, they needed to transform the wild jungles into farmland.
Tigranian and Laria had returned to the nentay long after the sun had sunk beneath the horizon. She was now on the bridge guiding them back towards Cardassian Space. Tigranian was alone in the ship's deserted gym…
The jenSa's bare torso and may'yopwaH trousers were absolutely drenched in sweat. He squatted down, placed his bleeding palms around the rough steel of a barbell, and then gritted his teeth.
Tigranian shouted before dead-lifting 160 kilos up to his waist and then dropped the stack back onto the padded floor. The subsequent rush of endorphins wasn't enough to ease the storm of emotions inside. He walked back to the wall, picked up two more twenty kilo plates, and forcefully shoved them onto the ends of the bar. Then, he squatted back down and drew in several sharp breaths while reading the Klingon mantra painted in blood-red pIqaD on the metal bulkhead ten meters to his front:
"QIj pujwI'. chargh HoSwI'."
"The weak make excuses. The strong conquer."
Tigranian commanded a fleet whose entire purpose was to PREVENT a war. He spent most of his days either filling out paperwork or smiling into the faces of people he was trying to kill four years ago. When he wasn't doing that, his life was now moving back and forth from military operations where Starfleet eyed him with contempt, to diplomatic galas where Cardassian politicians eyed him with contempt, and then on to luxury dinners where even Klingon civilians eyed him with contempt. Meanwhile Rellas, the man he inspired with his faith, was on his way to sacrifice himself in the name of Kahless. It would be a cold, anonymous death that would leave no glory to his name. It made Tigranian feel like a hypocrite and dirty beyond all measure.
Tigranian roared as he dug his heels in and ripped the bar off the ground. Every vein on his body bulged out from beneath his skin. He focused every bit of his rage, shame, and pain into the lift. His muscles felt like they were ripping apart, but somehow he brought 200 kilograms up to his waist.
"yIQu'vatlh!" he screamed dropping the weight back down on the floor. The entire room shook with the impact. Tigranian dropped down onto his haunches and buried his head in his hands. His heart was racing, he could barely breathe, and he may have bruised a rib, but still, the guilt was there.
"Laria HoD to Lord Daniel…" The sound of the ship's intercom cut into his introspection.
"Go ahead," he replied between gasps for air.
"You have a priority message from Starfleet Command on Earth."
"What do they want?" Tigranian asked with disdain. "I'm not really in the mood for forshak."
"I don't know, joHwI'," Laria said equally frustrated with her husband's bleak attitude over the past several days. "However, Admiral Paris wants to speak with you personally."
The general growled as he pushed himself to his feet.
"Route it to the gymnasium."
Tigranian grabbed his black gi top and threw it on. Then, he pressed 'receive' on the wall panel.
"Admiral Paris," Tigranian said as the face of the Starfleet Chief of Staff came into focus. "If Yoshizaki and Starfleet Intelligence are upset about me taking Trallian before they arrived at Outpost 5, you can tell them that I don't give a damn about their feelings. That family needs to be on Subik IV with the other refugees instead of sitting in an interrogation room."
Paris grimaced a bit.
"Admiral Yoshizaki was quite upset about that, Lord Daniel," Paris replied, "however she was not surprised. Predicating your actions has become a bit of a full time job for her. However, this call is not about that. This call is…personal."
Tigranian raised an eyebrow.
"Well, if this call is personal, allow me to extend my congratulations on the safe return of Voyager and your son. I am truly happy for you and your family."
"I appreciate that very much," Paris replied with a bit of a pause. "And my family is precisely why I need to ask your help."
"My help?" Tigranian said skeptically. Paris tried to explain.
"When Tom came home four days ago, he brought a wife and newborn daughter with him that I have never met."
"If you're looking for recommendations on good cigars or liquor, those aren't my forte. However, there're plenty of shops in the Bay Area that could help."
"They're Klingon!" Paris exclaimed before rubbing his eyes.
"Oh," Tigranian said delicately. He suddenly grasped why Paris was reaching out.
"My wife and I struggle enough to understand our own son," Paris said not trying to hide his personal remorse. "But we don't know the first thing about Klingons! If we insult them, are they going to want to fight? What new beliefs are we going to be expected to honor? When they come for Thanksgiving, are we expected to have worms on the table? My granddaughter has forehead ridges for Christ's sake!" The Admiral slammed his hands onto his desk and gazed up at the ceiling.
"Then she's fortunate…" Tigranian whispered to himself as he chose to ignore the obvious racial undertones of Paris' outburst.
"What?" Paris asked looking back at Tigranian.
"Nothing, Admiral," he replied. "How do you think I can help?"
"Despite our rather…strained…relationship at times, I have always had a deep respect for you. I hope you feel the same way about me. I would be very grateful if I could ask your advice from time to time."
Tigranian closed his eyes tightly. The events of the past week came rushing back: the dinner on Shung'Nak, the angry faces of Xorax's squadron, the holophotos of the lost warriors. Finally, he remembered Rellas' list. It made him realize precisely what needed to be said.
"What is your granddaughter's name?" he said calmly looking to the screen.
"I'm sorry?" Paris replied.
"What…is…her name, Admiral?"
"No," Tigranian replied plainly. "Her name is Miral, Daughter of Paris."
Paris looked like Tigranian had slapped him across the face. To his credit, he remained silent.
"If you desire my counsel," Tigranian continued, "I will give it freely. Here's my first piece of advice: the Federation loves to classify people according to their chromosomes. It's a side effect of being an organization of scientists and bureaucrats where new worlds are 'strange' and must be 'explored.' However, in my life I have learned a very important lesson: having Klingon genes and being 'Klingon' are very different.
It may be hard. You might have to deal with awkward situations, customs, and powerful emotions that you've never experienced before. Depending on their tastes, you might have to stomach a little gagh with your turkey and cranberry sauce. But try to look past their claws, their third lungs, and even their forehead ridges. See them for what they are: just people. Peoplewho want to find a place where they belong.
Like it or not, they're your family, Admiral. You can either reject them or you can love them for who and what they are. I hope it's the latter."
Paris stared back at him in silence for a few seconds. Tigranian could only hope his words had an impact. Finally, the general spoke again:
"Thank you, General," he said nodding his head. "You've given me a good deal to think about. Qapla'."
Paris' terminated the transmission. Tigranian was once again alone with his thoughts.
"To be Klingon…a choice you make every day…" he suddenly muttered to himself. Then, he pressed the intercom button.
"Tigranian to bridge."
"Laria HoD here, joHwI'."
"Turn us around," Tigranian commanded. "Set a course for Qo'noS."
"General?" she asked confused.
"I'll explain later," he said. "But I need to speak with Chancellor Martok and the High Council as soon as possible."
"Understood," Laria replied trying to hide her surprise.
"Tell them to remember us." Rellas' words echoed in his mind.
"I will," Tigranian whispered to himself. "And I'll make them listen."
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
Hobus System: Devron Sector, Romulan Star Empire
Rellas and Valaa's small shuttle dropped out of warp.
"Our cloak is holding," the Orion reported checking the instruments in the cramped cockpit. "We haven't been detected. By the ancestors," she added sharply, "you think next time you can steal a shuttle that can do better than Warp 2?"
"Sorry, I gave the good one to the Trallians," he said with a shrug. "Besides, I don't think they'll be a next time, Valaa."
"Right," she sighed before making a passive scan of the system.
Rellas looked out the window at the ancient star in front of them.
"No habitable planets, no star bases, absolutely nothing. Why would Shinzon be so interested in this system?" he asked with a tone somewhere between curiosity and genuine concern.
Suddenly, the instrument panel came to life. Valaa made a few adjustments to verify her readings.
"I think I know the answer to that question now," she said sucking in a sharp breath. "Set course 372 Mark 037."
"That takes us right into the star," Rellas asked confused.
"Yeah…it does," she muttered.
Rellas brought the shuttle around and throttled up to full impulse. Two minutes later, Valaa announced they were now within visual range.
"Visual range of what?" Rellas said shielding his eyes against the increasing glare of Hobus' corona. "I can't see anything."
"Look again," Valaa said reaching forward and activating the window's polarization controls. Instantly, the glare disappeared. Rellas' eyes grew wide.
"What is that thing?"
A giant tritanium cylinder hovered less than two hundred kilometers above the glowing solar atmosphere. The object was well over four thousand meters long and almost a kilometer in diameter. A strange blue beam shot out of one end and punched straight into Hobus' surface. Inside the tube of energy, a glowing stream of green and white particles rose from inside the star back towards the cylinder like liquid running through a pipe.
"It's some kind of particle drill," Valaa said trying to get a better read with her sensors. "They've tapped into the stellar core. For what reason, I have no idea. But they're mining a lot of plasma. I'm detecting millions of liters in holding tanks inside that thing."
"I think we found where Trallian's missing materials were going," Rellas muttered.
Another alarm echoed through the cockpit.
"A ship is decloaking," Valaa shouted, "Bearing 274 Mark 052. It's absolutely huge!"
"Is it a Romulan warbird?" Rellas asked concerned.
"No…it's a lot bigger. Apparently, this particle drill wasn't the only illicit project on the Reman's books."
The silhouette of the Scimitar shimmered into the visible less than a thousand kilometers away.
"By Kahless!" Rellas shouted as he laid eyes on the gargantuan ship. It was so large the hull eclipsed most of Hobus' light by itself.
The Scimitar slowed to one half impulse as it approached the cylinder.
"Shinzon's on that thing, isn't he?" Valaa asked quietly.
"No doubt about it," Rellas answered. "Do you have a good idea of what the inside of that mining rig looks like?"
"Yeah," Valaa said with a deep breath. "I got good readings." She didn't have to think very hard to guess what he was planning.
"Do you have any cigarettes left?" Rellas asked next.
"I'm down to my last two," she said forcing a smile.
"You're going after him, aren't you?" she said reaching into her jacket pocket.
"I want to look that Reman in the eye before I end him," Rellas answered.
"And you want me to try to rig that giant-ass thing out there to blow, don't you?" she added before handing him a cigarette. She took the final one for herself.
"If it's not too much trouble," Rellas answered. "We can't make things easy for them."
Valaa chuckled as she lit both smokes.
"You know," she said after a long inhale, "There's always better when you think it's the last one you'll ever have." Then, she looked back to her leader.
"It's been an honor, Sir," Valaa said reaching out her hand.
"May Kahless guide us," he replied shaking it. "Qapla'."
"What's that thing that Klingons always say trying to sound all badass?" She took another drag on her cigarette. "Dying today would be good?"
"Today is a good day to die," Rellas smiled. Valaa grinned back.
"Why the hell not?"
TO BE CONTINUED
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.